Long time to reach news in Thirty Years' War

Long time to reach news in Thirty Years' War

The Thirty Years' War broke out with the Bohemian Revolt in May 1618. Spain was being ruled by Habsburgs, and it was involved in the politics of HRE. Once the news of the revolt reached Spain, they sent an army to Bohemia and defeated the Bohemian forces in the Battle of the White Mountain on 8th November 1620.

I came to know from a reliable source that the news of the Bohemian took a few months to reach Spain. This seems long, even by early modern standards. How much time would it generally take for such an important news to reach from Bohemia to Spain in early 17th century? Was there any particular reason why it took so long, especially given that Spain was involved in politics of HRE?

I can't find any freely available source on the internet to back this up (and the original source is a purchasable lecture series), but I don't think there is any reason why the instructor would lie about this.


The 1618 Prague defenestration took place on May 23th, 1618 and Oñate's news about it arrived to Madrid in July 1618. This is compatible with the duration of the communication to be 5-7 weeks which is absolutely reasonable. 200,000 ducats were immediately reserved to beat the courageous Czechs and additional 500,000 ducates were sent in November.

The distance between Prague and Madrid is some 1800 kilometers by air. The actual route could have been substantially longer, perhaps 2500 kilometers, and Alps are in between. 40 days of transmission of the signal is absolutely reasonable without any electromagnetic communication - some 60 km per day.


In the Middle Ages and in the early modern era, theoreticaly the message could have reached 100-150 km per day, once there was a good network of postal stations and the horses and messengers were changed. The message could have travelled also by ship and in that case, it took even less time. Naturaly, people normaly travelled ca. 25-30 km per day, but the armies were not sent directly from Spain, but from Netherlands, or Italy, or they were just hired for Spanish ducates that could have been transfered via message.


MOVE Bombing Barely Significant in Philadelphia Politics Thirty Years Later

Thirty years ago today in Philadelphia, police dropped a bomb on a residential area in a misbegotten effort to force members of MOVE, a black radical liberation/back-to-nature group founded in 1972 with which local authorities had a long history of getting into confrontations, out of their homes so that they could be arrested.

The magazine Philadelphia reprinted a 2012 article on the bombing, which explains what happened:

On May 13, 1985 at 5:20 p.m., a blue and white Pennsylvania State Police helicopter took off from the command post's flight pad at 63rd and Walnut, flew a few times over 6221 Osage Avenue, and then hovered 60 feet above the two-story house in the black, middle-class West Philadelphia neighborhood. Lt. Frank Powell, chief of Philadelphia's bomb disposal unit, was holding a canvas bag containing a bomb consisting of two sticks of Tovex TR2 with C-4. After radioing firefighters on the ground and lighting the bomb's 45-second fuse — and with the official approval of Mayor W. Wilson Goode and at the insistence of Police Commissioner Gregore Sambor — Powell tossed the bomb, at precisely 5:28 p.m., onto a bunker on the roof.

This was followed shortly thereafter by a loud explosion and then a large, bright orange ball of fire that reached 7,200 degrees Fahrenheit. That day, Powell, the mayor, the police commissioner, Fire Commissioner William Richmond, city Managing Director Leo Brooks, and numerous police officers committed, in the words of Philadelphia Special Investigation Commission (better known as the MOVE Commission) member Charles Bowser, a "criminally evil" act that led to the death of 11 human beings, including five completely innocent and defenseless children, the destruction of 61 homes, and the incineration of thousands of family photos, high school and college sweetheart love letters, heirloom jewelry, inscribed Bibles and Korans, and many other totally irreplaceable mementos.

Goode was Philadelphia's first black mayor and in the second year of his term when he ordered the bombing of a middle-class black neighborhood. The "criminally evil" act didn't cost Goode his job. A Although he lost some support from his base, he eked out a close win over Frank Rizzo, who served as mayor as a Democrat from 1972 to 1980 but was in 1987 running as a Republican. Rizzo had previously served as the city's iron-fisted police commissioner from 1967 to 1971. As mayor, Rizzo led the city onto a path that over the decades saw the police contract lean further and further to cops' benefits at the expense of transparency, oversight, and accountability.

The choice for Philadelphia residents in 1987 between a man who ordered a fatal bombing of a residential area and a man who was named "de facto mayor" while still serving as police commissioner in the early 1970s illustrates the narrow choices offered in mainstream politics, particularly in big cities. Philadelphia hadn't had a Republican mayor since 1952 and Rizzo, a former Democrat, came closest since then. By one interpretation of the events leading up to the MOVE bombing, a black mayor would have been most likely to give such an order because he would feel the most pressure to be "tough on crime."

The pressure to be tough on crime, whether it comes from voters or special interest groups like police, still exists. One of the candidates in next week's primary for the Democratic nomination for Philadelphia mayor, Lynne Abraham, served as district attorney from 1991 to 2010, touting her tough on crime credentials throughout her tenure. She was also the judge who signed the warrants on which the police action against move on May 13, 1985 was based. Abraham, who has largely avoided critical questions about her tenure as DA at a time of widespread police brutality and her role in the Philadelphia police's controversial history, instead complains the media treats her differently because she's a woman. Another Democrat, Jim Kenney, a former councilmember who worked to decriminalize marijuana in Philadelphia last year, is a big friend of the police unions. In 1997, in a bid to shore up the tough on crimes credentials many politicians believe they need to win in big, Democrat-majority cities, Kenney lamented cops couldn't use clubs on the head or shoot anybody anymore. With Democrats so thoroughly internalizing "tough on crime" politics they often simultaneously blame Richard Nixon on, perhaps there's room for Republican alternatives that look a lot different than the Frank Rizzos (or Wilson Goodes) of the political world after all.

Check out Reason TV's interview with Jason Oster, director of the MOVE documentary "Let the Fire Burn":


Thirty Years Our Chief

When reminded that 2020 would be his thirtieth year as Chief of Clan Maclean, Sir Lachlan commented that thirty years was not really that long, - and he hoped that we wouldn’t make a “fuss” over it. Typical! Mind you, from the perspective of the tenure of the last two Chiefs, perhaps he is just hitting his stride. His father was Chief for 54 years. His grandfather never became Chief, because Sir Lachlan’s great-grandfather, Sir Fitzroy— yes the one who rebuilt Duart Castle, was 101 when he died, and had been Chief for 53 years. He became Chief in 1883. Imagine just three Chiefs over that span of time, and all three notable. We are a fortunate clan indeed.

It only dawned on me that this was his 30th year, when I happened to see, and reread a fascinating article on Sir Lachlan. It was written by Charles MacLean (Charlie Whisky) who was the Editor of the Clan Maclean Association’s newsletter in 1991, and was written after Sir Lachlan’s first year serving as our Chief. Charlie’s title, A Dedicated Chief , remains just as true today as it was 30 years ago.

Charlie noted that the Chief …is without snobbery or bombast. He has (the) modesty, good humour and calm…. In these regards he hasn’t changed. I remember early in my Maclean involvement, being told that while some Clan Chiefs are full of themselves, ours was definitely not. I also recall him telling me that he felt a bit of an imposter, being a “Sir” as he felt he hadn’t personally earned it! It just came with the job. He still sees being Chief as no more than being primus inter pares, first among equals. He truly enjoys the job, and make no mistake, it is a job. His top priority has always been looking after Duart, as it is the “spiritual” home of all Macleans and our septs— regardless of spelling or branch of the clan. Further it must be open and available for people to visit. Maintaining (and actually restoring) this grand old building is a never ending struggle, and you will all be aware of the major restoration Duart is now undergoing. Unfortunately much the same process was carried out in the 90’s, but primarily because of a specific lime mortar, prescribed by Historic Scotland, those repairs were counterproductive. The Chief and his son Malcolm are part of the Duart Restoration Advisory group that is fundraising to make this massive undertaking a reality, and personally oversees the renovations. He asked me to send out a heartfelt thank you to all the wonderful donors, both large and small who, along with his family, and Historic Scotland, have made this massive effort possible. Those who attend the Gathering in 2022 will see the results!

Sometime ago, I found a description of what Highland Chiefs were supposed to do, and be, in the heyday of the clans. Unfortunately I don’t recall who it was, but it said: ….the chief was as much a servant and representative of his clan as he was its leader. He had to be politically savvy, economically shrewd, and a strong captain in war. Above all, the chief had to be a good father to his followers the word clan actually means ‘children’ in Gaelic.

From the beginning of his tenure, Sir Lachlan saw himself as having a responsibility to be involved, and supportive of the clan, it’s associations, and of course individual Macleans. He recognizes, and does a fine job, of walking that fine line between being the symbolic head—as opposed to the elected leader(s). He can and does provide (usually quiet) leadership and even direction—if he must. I recall times when there was turmoil in, or among, associations, or individuals, and he quietly stepped in and helped calm the waters, and reminded all that we need to communicate well, and work together to move forward. A different example of this leadership was when senior eleA chief was expected to kindly greet and shake the hand of the lowest, poorest member of his clan as an equal. He was also expected to boldly lead his warriors on raids and into battle. He had to be wise enough to keep the economy of his clan ever growing and prosperous.

Today’s Chief has many of the same duties, without the power.From the beginning of his tenure, Sir Lachlan saw himself as having a responsibility to be involved, and supportive of the clan, it’s associations, and of course individual Macleans. He recognizes, and does a fine job, of walking that fine line between being the symbolic head—as opposed to the elected leader(s). He can and does provide (usually quiet) leadership and even direction—if he must. I recall times when there was turmoil in, or among, associations, or individuals, and he quietly stepped in and helped calm the waters, and reminded all that we need to communicate well, and work together to move forward. A different example of this leadership was when senior elected clan positions became tenuous, because of sickness, or other unforeseen causes, and, behind the scenes, he stepped in to find individuals who could carry on.

A lot has changed since Sir Lachlan became our Chief. There have been many positive innovations. Because he is not prone to “selling” himself, I am sure he would downplay his role in these events, and/or approaches. I would respectfully suggest that without his support and participation, that they would not have happened— or continued. One that immediately comes to my mind is the wonderful practice of having International Maclean Gatherings at Duart every five years. This, both began, and has continued during his tenure. Clearly our “mother” association Scotland, has taken the lead in planning and organizing these events, but the Chief provides not only his support and participation but also the venue— our wonderful Duart! He always takes a positive role in the Clan Congress, at the Gatherings, as well as in the more “fun” activities.

The Clan Maclean Heritage Trust has been a major force worldwide to recognize, educate and remember important accomplishments, and events in which Macleans played a critical role as a clan, and as individuals. Sir Lachlan was a strong proponent of its creation, and has played a key role from its inception in 1996. The Trust was founded to continue the good work of CMA (Scotland), and also to complement its ongoing activities. It has done that and more. Sir Lachlan, as Chief, is the only permanent member of the Trust, and has served as Chair.

While the number of Associations has remained roughly the same, with some unfortunately dying, while others have been instituted, or revived, the communication amongst them has improved greatly. The Clan Maclean International Association came into being— after a few false starts, in 2002, and while never an incorporated or “senior” (in a hierarchal sense) association, it has been able to play the role of an ongoing communication hub, for sharing ideas, concerns, and for joint planning amongst the associations worldwide. At roughly the same time a “virtual association “ came into being (Maclean.net) as a way of linking Macleans worldwide, who either had no access to geographic associations, or for those who preferred this means of celebrating their “Macleanery”. Continuing this electronic communication theme, it is important to note that many associations now have websites. Facebook groups, some specialized groups like a “youth” Maclean group, and specific purpose groups, have been created when needed. The Chief strongly supports all such efforts at improving communication, although I hasten to add that computer expertise is not at the top of his list of strengths! Mind you, I am in no position to criticize!

Realizing that all Macleans can’t get to Duart, and/or the Gatherings, the Chief has made a point to try and physically visit Macleans in different countries. Australia, New Zealand, the U.S., and Canada have been fortunate enough to host him—most on more than one occasion. It is clear that air transport has (at least before the corona virus) become much simpler, and quicker, but it is still a major effort to make such trips. Also it often interferes with his job of running and being the Chief host at Duart. He tells me he is not a natural extrovert, but those of us who have met him, know he does always rise to these occasions, and makes many of us Macleans happy to be able to say “we met the Chief”! He continues, as did his predecessors, to make a point to try and attend most meetings and events which involve CMA (Scotland), and indeed those in London.


Sir Lachlan being presented with a stained glass birlinn while on his Canadian visit in 2003. From left to right, Ian MacLean, Colin Cameron— stained glass artist, Sir Lachlan, and Frank MacLean.

A major regret is that the Clan has still not developed a genealogy center. This was, and still is, one of Sir Lachlan’s dreams. It may yet come to pass! Information has been gathered in a few spots, including at the Mull Museum, and on line, but we aren’t there yet. An interesting adjunct to this interest is the formation of a Maclean DNA project that could add/complement such a center.

As mentioned earlier the one responsibility that is paramount for him, is Duart Castle. He understands the long term importance of having the castle open and available to visiting Macleans, and of course others, but recognizes that it is almost equally important for the Chief to be personally approachable and available. That isn’t always convenient, or nearly as exciting for him as it is for us. But he does it, and for the most part enjoys meeting Macleans and hearing their stories. Most of these encounters with visiting Macleans are in his role as “host” for Duart. However sometimes it is more than that. How exciting must it have been for two of our (Atlantic) members (and their two children) to be not only be married at Duart, but to have been personally congratulated by their Chief and his wife? I could go on about the great job Sir Lachlan and his staff to do make visitors welcome, but the numerous awards, and magazine articles speak for that excellence.

Who is this man? Sir Lachlan Maclean, Bt, (Baronet of Nova Scotia) CVO, is the 28th Chief of Clan Maclean. He was born August 25, 1942 to Lord Charles and Elizabeth Maclean. Weeks after his birth he was taken to Duart because the western Highlands were safer than the suburbs of London during World War II. Sir Lachlan’s early years were thus spent at Duart, so it really is his home, as well as ours!

In 1966 he married Mary Gordon. At the time, Lachlan (not yet a sir) was a Lieutenant in the Scots Guards, a regiment that his father and grandfather had served with before him. During his army career he served in many countries around the world, and served in combat operations. He volunteered, and was selected for the elite SAS (Special Air Service). He served with them for four years. Major Maclean rejoined his regiment and eventually left the Army in 1973.

At the age of 29, it was time to decide, was he to be a career military man, or was it time to try civilian life. He recalls thinking that leaving before he was thirty, would allow him to start a new career. A key factor was the desire to be at home with Mary and his children. They had five children, Emma, the Maid of Morvern, Sarah, who died age two, Malcolm Ygr. of Duart and Morvern, Alexandra, and Andrew. Following Sir Lachlan's retirement from the army, the family moved to Arngask House in Perthshire.

He received a number of job offers, but began working for United Biscuits. This new career was more stable—and far more quiet. He started with a Scottish subsidiary, Crawfords in Edinburgh. He then reluctantly moved to their head office in London, as his intention had been to stay in Scotland. Heworked with them until 1993.

Public service was not left behind. In 1993 he was appointed Deputy Lieutenant of Argyll and Bute. For many years he was a member of the Royal Company of Archers, the traditional bodyguard of the Monarch in Scotland. He served as Adjutant before being appointed as Silver Stick for Scotland during the 1999 state visit of Queen Elizabeth II for the opening of the Scottish Parliament. One of the many ceremonial duties he carried out as Silver Stick

Following his retirement from United Biscuits he served on the Board of Trustees and as Secretary of the Robertson Trust, an independent charitable Scottish trust whose priorities are community-based care, health, education, art, and sport.

On the passing of his father in 1990 Lachlan, now properly “Sir Lachlan” became Chief, and inherited Duart. Lady (Mary) Maclean, despite retaining her pride in her Gordon roots— which was only proper as she immersed herself into her duties as wife of the Chief of Clan Maclean. She not only accompanied him to innumerable Maclean functions, but became the hostess of Duart, and was the stalwart behind the Gift shop and Tea room. She confided in my wife Marjorie, that although she was proud of that role, and happy to wear Maclean tartan, that she also kept a piece of Gordon tartan in her pocket! After a long and brave battle with cancer, Mary passed away on the 30th day of December in 2007.

Meantime the children were grown up. Emma, the Maid of Morvern, and her family live in Wiltshire. Emma is married to Giovanni Amati who worked in the City, but they now organize weddings and other events at their house near Malmesbury. They have four children, Cosimo who is just leaving University, Alberto who is sitting his ‘A’ Levels this year, and twins, Francesco and Cecelia.

Malcolm the Younger of Duart, (and thus heir to the Chiefship), with his wife Anna, own and operate a consultancy firm SRE, based near Petersfield in Hampshire. They work on renewable energy and advise many of the large contractors on how they can minimize energy consumption in their projects. They have three boys, Oscar who is leaving school this summer and going to University, Fergus and Archie, who are at school near Petersfield.

Alexandra is married to Colin Allan who works for BP and they are currently based in Trinidad, with their three girls, Betsy, Tessa and Clova. They moved to Trinidad last summer after having spent 4 years at Baku in Azerbaijan.

The Chief’s youngest son Andrew works for Tiso in Edinburgh, who are an outdoor clothing and equipment specialists, who are based in the city as well.

All the children, and their children—holiday at Duart and meet the Clan regularly at the Gatherings.

On the 8th of September in 2010, Sir Lachlan married Mrs. Rosemary Mayfield. Lady (Rosie) Maclean is the widow of Lt.-Col. Richard Mayfield, DSO, LVO, a fellow Scots Guards officer of Sir Lachlan’s. Lady Maclean was born a Matheson, and her family came from Dornie in the West Highlands. The two families had been friends since Sir Lachlan and Richard served together in the Scots Guards.

The Chief remains committed to open communication, and wants to know from Clan members, associations, and visitors what we wish from him. We can only hope that we have many more years of his dedicated leadership. He is a great guy…….



Oh, the memories. As much as we love the luxury of Sky+, tell us we’re not the only ones who miss this a little bit?


󈬎 years ago? Surely not?” Yep, those were our words too, but this film really is three decades old!

And three decades later, Kevin Bacon proves he’s still got it with this amazing performance on The Tonight Show in America.


Long time to reach news in Thirty Years' War - History

by Jonathan Coopersmith on Jul 14, 1999

Thirty years ago, on July 20, 1969, Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin walked on the Moon, humanity’s first steps on another planetary body. Ten more Americans followed in the footsteps of Apollo 11 before the flights halted.

No one has been back since.

The success of Apollo and subsequent lack of action demonstrate the importance of politics and economics in shaping technological advances. Americans walked on the Moon because President John F. Kennedy and Congress decided that this goal warranted spending tens of billions of dollars. Americans stopped walking on the Moon because later presidents and congresses decided there were better uses for tax dollars.

Apollo was a political triumph for the National Aeronautics and Space Administration and the United States. Difficult as it is for anyone under 30 to believe, the early 1960s saw the United States and the then Soviet Union fiercely engaged in the Space Race as part of the Cold War. Each nation hailed its space “firsts” as proof of the superiority of its social and economic system.

Apollo was also a stunning technological accomplishment. NASA moved in eight years from launching a man on a short suborbital hop to landing two men on the Moon and safely bringing them back to earth. Hundreds of thousands of scientists, engineers, technicians and administrators justly took pride in this impressive demonstration of American technology.

While the right political decision for the 1960s, the Apollo project failed to lay the foundation for a sustained space program. Extraordinarily costly — a $100 billion price tag in today’s dollars — Apollo owed its existence to the Cold War. Only the political goal of beating the Russians enabled NASA to consume nearly a fifth of the nation’s scientific and technological resources.

By contrast, NASA’s budget now is only $13 billion, less than 1 percent of federal spending. NASA’S elaborate plans for a space station and manned bases on the Moon and Mars long remained on the drawing board. Today, a space station is finally under construction, but plans for further human exploration remain on paper, in part because space exploitation and exploration are both expensive and dangerous. Launching one pound into earth orbit costs up to $10,000, and NASA spends more than $250 million for every shuttle mission.

Nor have launches displayed the desired safety and reliability. In the last year, six American rockets, three military and three commercial, have failed, with a loss of more than $3 billion. Until costs are sharply reduced and reliability increases, access to space will remain limited.

John Glenn’s return to space and NASA’s Mars missions demonstrate that interest in space exploration has never died. What is changing now is the economic and political justification. Despite the costs, business is increasingly entering space in search of profits. In the last few years, the value of new commercial satellites has exceeded the value of government satellites for the first time. International relations are again a major factor in launching people into space, but the new spirit of the International Space Station is cooperation, not competition.

To space advocates, the 30 years since Apollo 11 were years of frustration and opportunities lost caused by a short-sighted government that did not boldly want to go where nobody had gone before. They are wrong. Apollo was created by the unique conditions of the Cold War. The fading of the Cold War meant much less interest and funding for space.

The greatest legacy of Apollo lies ahead. And ironically its Cold War origins will be long forgotten after space has become the domain for business and global cooperation.

Jonathan Coopersmith is associate professor in the Department of History at Texas A & M University.


Long time to reach news in Thirty Years' War - History

Recently, I met a young woman at The River shopping center in Rancho Mirage. She was celebrating her 30th birthday. She was also lamenting the fact that she was now 30 and telling me how hard it was to be 30. Not so hard, I thought, for a man who is 64, but I patted her on her head and wished her well, and then I started to think about the passage of time and chance and thought about measuring what we’ve gained and what we’ve lost, to paraphrase a great songwriter.

Thirty years ago. Early 1979. If you think we have it bad economically now, with our bank crisis and our recession, think about 1979. Yes, unemployment was about one and half percentage points lower, but it was rising fast. We were well on our way to the worst recession in postwar history, far worse than the one we are in now, at least so far. But inflation — that was the killer. On the heels of the radical revolution in Iran and a huge jump in oil prices, we had inflation in 1979 of over 13 percent. The misery index — the total of unemployment and inflation — was about 19.5 percent, compared with about 7.5 per cent now. Times were hard.

We got through it, and went on to record-shattering prosperity. We got through the bleak days to “it’s morning in America.” There is hope today, too.

Think the stock market is bad now? We thought it was bad in 1979. It has risen since then — even with the recent crash — by almost ten times. Not ten percent. Ten times. Think real estate has dropped now? It has but it is still about four times what it was in 1979 here in Southern California. Things look bleak now, and they are, but they are a lot better than they were in 1979 in many, many ways.

We will get through this. I wish I had bought more stock in 1979, and more real estate, too. But here’s what I really miss about 1979: both of my parents were alive. I could have spent as much time as I wanted with them, I could have learned from them, shared with them. Loved them. Let them love me. I desperately wish it were 1979 again, not for Jimmy Carter and the bargain stock market, but for missing my parents, whom are both long gone now.

I don’t know if it’s a good time to buy stocks or real estate or what the inflation rate will be next year. I do know you won’t have forever with the people you love. Be with them now. That’s your best thirty-year investment. You cannot lose.


Thirty years of supporting families in crisis: Home-Start Hounslow recognises long-serving volunteers

A charity supporting families in crisis has recognised three volunteers who have between them racked up 30 years of service in Hounslow.

Home-Start Hounslow helps families with young children deal with whatever life throws at them, from multiple births to a diagnosis of terminal illness.

Volunteers visit the family&aposs home for a few hours a week to provide practical and emotional support, like looking after children while their parents attend hospital appointments.

They continue to help until the youngest child turns five or the family are able to cope by themselves, to ensure the children get the best possible upbringing.

Sonia Tandon, Gunnar Gaibi and Lyn Christou have each volunteered for the charity for 10 years, supporting 27 families during that time.

Brentford & Isleworth MP Mary Macleod visited Home-Start Hounslow&aposs base at the Ermine Centre, in Hounslow West, last Friday (November 28) to present the trio with long service awards. She also congratulated the charity on receiving its Investing in Volunteers award.

Lyn Christou, of Isleworth, said: "I&aposve found volunteering hugely rewarding because you get to see the family develop as you help them deal with the situation.

"We don&apost get involved with issues like drug abuse or domestic violence because we&aposre not social workers, but each family we help has different needs.

"Many of the issues we help with are things which could affect any family. As a grandmother it&aposs comforting to know that support would be there if my children needed it."

Ms Christou added that benefit cuts meant there was an increasing demand from families struggling with housing issues, including those living in cramped bed and breakfast accommodation.

Home-Start Hounslow manager Margaret O’Connor said: "Home-Start couldn&apost run without the dedication of all of our volunteers who donate precious time to help local families with young children.

"They have made a huge difference to families by giving friendship and support in their homes, when and where it matters."

Home-Start Hounslow is desperate for more volunteers to ensure it can meet the demand for its services.

Its next volunteer training course will run every Wednesday and Friday during school hours from January 16 to February 13 at the Ermine Centre, in Ermine Close.


Thirty years on, Blenheim gas explosion lives on in town's memory

1 of 17 Buy Photo Route 30, North Blenheim, New York - Joe Marsello, age 16, finds a few things not destroyed in the fire - his mother rents house. March 13, 1990 (Arnold LeFevre/Times Union Archive) Arnold LeFevre/Times Union Historic Images Show More Show Less

2 of 17 Buy Photo North Blenheim, New York home on Route 30 destroyed by propane explosion - disaster. March 13, 1990 (Arnold LeFevre/Times Union Archive) Arnold LeFevre/Times Union Historic Images Show More Show Less

4 of 17 Buy Photo North Blenheim, New York, Schoharie County - Linda Huber, 32, rented one of the houses that was destroyed by the blast and fire Tuesday. March 13, 1990 (Dennis J. Michalski/Times Union Archive) Dennis J. Michalski/Times Union Historic Images Show More Show Less

5 of 17 Buy Photo North Blenheim, New York - John Sullivan of Cobleskill, son of the woman who suffered the heart attack following Tuesday's explosion. The windows in the woman's house were blown out but the home was not destroyed. March 14, 1990 (Dennis J. Michalski/Times Union Archive) Dennis J. Michalski/Times Union Historic Images Show More Show Less

7 of 17 Buy Photo North Blenheim, New York, Schoharie County - Roy Williams Jr. and Pat Scuders, Wednesday, look over the remains of Williams' father's home which was destroyed in Tuesday morning's explosion and ensuing fire in North Blenheim. March 14, 1990 (Dennis J. Michalski/Times Union Archive) Dennis J. Michalski/Times Union Historic Images Show More Show Less

8 of 17 Buy Photo North Blenheim, New York - Secretary of State Gail Shaffer, center, talks to a state police official in North Blenheim, scene of the explosion disaster. At left is Shaffer's father, Robert Shaffer, town of Blenheim Supervisor, who saw the explosion start along the liquid propane line while tending his cows Tuesday morning. Gail Shaffer said, "We were luck, but our poor neighbors suffered a great deal!" - disaster. March 13, 1990 (Dennis J. Michalski/Times Union Archive) Dennis J. Michalski/Times Union Historic Images Show More Show Less

10 of 17 Buy Photo North Blenheim, New York fire disaster on Route 30. March 13, 1990 (Arnold LeFevre/Times Union Archive) Arnold LeFevre/Times Union Historic Images Show More Show Less

11 of 17 Buy Photo Remains of house destroyed by explosion on Route 30 in North Blenheim, New York. March 13, 1990 (Arnold LeFevre/Times Union Archive) Arnold LeFevre/Times Union Historic Images Show More Show Less

13 of 17 Buy Photo North Blenheim, New York, Schoharie County - disaster - Liz Mace, resident of hamlet who drove to make phone called for help. March 13, 1990 (Dennis J. Michalski/Times Union Archive) Dennis J. Michalski/Times Union Historic Images Show More Show Less

14 of 17 Buy Photo House destroyed on Route 30 in North Blenheim, New York propane explosion - disaster. March 13, 1990 (Arnold LeFevre/Times Union Archive) Arnold LeFevre/Times Union Historic Images Show More Show Less

16 of 17 Buy Photo North Blenheim, New York homes on Route 30 destroyed by propane explosion. March 13, 1990 (Arnold LeFevre/Times Union Archive) Arnold LeFevre/Times Union Historic Images Show More Show Less

BLENHEIM &ndash Everyone who was in North Blenheim on March 13, 1990 remembers that horrible morning.

Anne Mattice-Strauch was a sixth-grader on the school bus. &ldquoWhen we went through town, I remember how foggy it was,&rdquo she said. That fog turned out to be propane gas leaking from a broken pipeline that exploded and incinerated a good part of this Schoharie County village, just minutes after Mattice-Strauch&rsquos bus passed through.

Liz Arrandale was in sight of the blast when the windowpanes on her family&rsquos 1820 farmhouse cracked. Her husband peered out the window. &ldquoHe said the whole hill is on fire.&rdquo Both she and her husband were fire department volunteers so they rushed to the firehouse, knowing they had to get to work.

Friday marks the 30th anniversary of the blast. And while it&rsquos an indelible part of the community&rsquos history, the controversy over pipelines in this area has continued unabated.

Instead of debates over safety, however, the fights have been between oil and gas firms that want to run new pipelines through the area and environmentalists who want to halt any new use of fossil fuels due to worries about climate change.

Robert Connors, a co-founder of the Stop NY Fracked Gas Pipeline group, didn&rsquot live in New York in 1990 and he hadn&rsquot heard of the Blenheim explosion. But he has been involved in opposing new lines over worries about carbon use. In 2016 the Kinder Morgan company dropped plans for a $3.3 billion pipeline that would have cut through part of Schoharie County on its way to New England. The project was shut down amid a lack of customers and heavy opposition by environmentalists.

And in February, the Williams Companies dropped plans for the Constitution Pipeline, which would have run from Pennsylvania to Schoharie County.

Unlike Blenheim, the two abandoned projects would have transported natural gas rather than propane. And since 1990, the development of hydrofracking technology, where fossil fuels are squeezed under high pressure from underground shale formations, has created a boom in Pennsylvania and Ohio. The Constitution line would have transported that fracked gas to points east. But environmentalists like Connors believe that needs to end in order to speed the switch to renewables like solar and wind power.

&ldquoOur opposition is mostly environmental,&rdquo Connors said. The group is also battling plans by the National Grid utility company to build a 7-mile gas line between Albany and Rensselaer counties under the Hudson River.

Moreover, many of today&rsquos climate activists are college and high school students who worry about global warming more than fire hazards.

They may oppose gas lines, but the Blenheim blast was years before they were born. And they may know of Schoharie County through other disasters, the flooding that swept through there during Hurricanes Irene in 2011.

The connection between fossil fuel use and climate change and storms like Irene isn't lost on people like Mattice-Strauch and Arrandale, but the blast will remain foremost in their minds on Friday.

Mattice-Strauch recalls how as they approached the Gilboa-Conesville school, her school bus driver, Adelbert Vroman, heard on their two-way radio that the town was on fire. They initially thought the creamery that was in the village was burning. As she entered the school, Mattice-Strauch saw a classmate running down the hall in tears yelling that &ldquoBobby has been burned real bad.&rdquo That was volunteer fireman Robert Hitchcock, who with contractor Richard Smith, turned out to be the two fatalities that day. They had stopped in the village to determine where the &ldquofog,&rdquo which they realized was gas, was coming from. The school kids gathered around TV sets in the classroom and watched the tragedy unfold as Albany news crews had rushed to the scene.

As that was happening, Arrandale left the firehouse and was driving the badly-burned Hitchcock toward the nearest hospital in Cobleskill.

Her husband, who worked at the Blenheim-Gilboa dam/power plant complex, had safety training and he told Arrandale to wrap Hitchcock up in a blanket and keep the windows up. She was racing toward Cobleskill when they finally spotted an ambulance coming their way &ndash she almost had a head-on collision trying to get the ambulance to stop since they didn&rsquot realize she was transporting one of the burn victims. Her daughter Rita May was on the same bus that Mattice-Strauch was on and she hadn&rsquot gotten word yet as to whether the kids were alright.

Gail Shaffer was New York secretary of state at the time and was driving to work in Albany when she heard about the explosion on the car radio.


Thirty Years Later, Was Kurt Schmoke Right?

Sept. 30, 1988, 38-year old Mayor of Baltimore Kurt Schmoke testified before the House Select Committee on Narcotics regarding the impact and efficacy of the so-called “War on Drugs.” Schmoke, then a rising star in the Democratic Party, had only been on the job as mayor of Baltimore for a little over a year, inheriting a city imploded by the crack epidemic, which cut a virulent swath through the urban landscape of America.

“We can guarantee that if we continue doing what we’re doing, we will fail. If we’re going to have a new war on drugs, let it be led by the surgeon general, not the attorney general,” said Schmoke. The former Baltimore City College High School football star, Rhodes Scholar and Baltimore City State’s Attorney was advocating for the legalization of marijuana and the treatment of drug addicts as patients instead of criminals. The New York Times reported on the day of Schmoke’s testimony the following:

“Instead of a drug policy based primarily on law enforcement, Mr. Schmoke proposed ‘a measured and carefully implemented program of drug decriminalization,’ similar to the repeal of Prohibition. $140 Billion on Illicit Drugs He conceded that there were risks in what he was suggesting.

Sean Yoes (Courtesy Photo)

“‘Providing legal access to currently illicit substances carries with it the chance, although by no means the certainty, that the number of people using and abusing drugs will increase,’” Mayor Schmoke said. ”But addiction, for all of its attendant medical, social and moral problems, is but one evil associated with drugs. Moreover, the criminalization of narcotics, cocaine and marijuana has not solved the problem of their use.””

Despite Schmoke’s cogent, clear-eyed analysis of the catastrophic war on drugs, he was widely ridiculed for even suggesting a national conversation about decriminalization. In fact, three of his Maryland Democratic colleagues from the House of Representatives, Kweisi Mfume, Ben Cardin and Roy Dyson, testified against Schmoke before the House on that day. The late Marion Barry, then the mayor of neighboring Washington, D.C., a city, which had also been ravaged by drug addiction and violence, bolstered Schmoke’s premise only to a point. Barry testified it was “time to rethink our policy,” but he also said, “I don’t know enough about the impact of cocaine addiction.” A little more than a year later on Jan. 18, 1990, Barry was captured on videotape smoking crack cocaine (he was targeted in a joint sting by the FBI and D.C. Police) at the Vista International Hotel in Washington, D.C.

This was the toxic milieu in which Schmoke delivered his bold proposal it all but destroyed the political ascendancy of perhaps the most erudite person to occupy Baltimore’s mayor’s chair.

But, for those of us who have been here since Schmoke’s testimony before Congress more than 30 years ago, do you feel safer now or then?

In September of 1988, I had just returned to Baltimore from Los Angeles and was about 90 days from entering the doors of the AFRO for the first time in January 1989. Do I feel safer in the city now than I did then? No.

Baltimore’s population in 1990 was 736,014 the homicide rate that year was 234. In 2019, the city’s population is estimated at 611,648 (over 100,000 people fewer than 1990), yet, the murder rate has eclipsed 300 for the last four years in a row. I don’t have to be a criminologist to discern a large percentage, if not a majority of murders in our city, are fueled by the illicit drug trade.

Recently, Baltimore City State’s Attorney Marilyn Mosby (the office that propelled Schmoke to the mayor’s chair), announced her office would no longer prosecute marijuana possession cases. Foundational in Mosby’s decision are the stark racial disparities in sentencing and law enforcement in such cases.

I would argue Mosby’s policy shift is a good first step. But, in order to neutralize the illicit drug trade you have to take the profit out of it. To begin healing our addicted communities you have to stop treating them as criminal lepers and begin treating them as patients. Because what we are doing now regarding the drug trade isn’t working for anybody save those who profit from the misery that engulfs are city.

Maybe it’s time we revisit Schmoke’s vision he presented more than 30 years ago. We’ve lost so much already how much longer can we continue down this perilous path?

Sean Yoes is the AFRO’s Baltimore editor and author of Baltimore After Freddie Gray: Real Stories From One of America’s Great Imperiled Cities.


Long time to reach news in Thirty Years' War - History

30 years ago, it was Time for a debate
By DAVE KIFFER

Ketchikan, Alaska - Alaskans are a fractious bunch.

As an old adage goes, one Alaskan is a crowd and two Alaskans is an argument.

We argue about the weather. Each section of the state claims to have the worst in some way. We argue about the beauty, each section is the best in some way.

We even argue about which part of the state is the most argumentative. My money is on the MatSu, but there are times when our own little Southeast slice of heaven can turn even the slightest difference of opinion into the Hatfields and the McCoys. Artist Ray Troll has dubbed Ketchikan the “proud home of recreational fighting.”

Once upon a time, nearly 30 years ago, we even argued about the time. In those days it was easier to get a grip on the size of Alaska. It spanned four time zones, the same as in all of the contiguous Lower 48.


Extend Daylight Time
By Tab, The Calgary Sun
Distributed to subscribers for publication by Cagle Cartoons, Inc.


But then, in an effort to bring Alaskans “closer together” Governor Bill Sheffield proposed eliminating two of the four time zones. Naturally, that also started an argument.

As with many issues of contention in Alaskan, the time zone proposal had to do with the 800 pound gorilla of Alaskan arguments, whether or not to move the state capitol out of Juneau.

Some Southeast residents, primarily those in Juneau, felt that moving the capital closer to the Railbelt – time wise – would help blunt efforts to move the capital, which had led to another statewide vote in November of 1982.

Residents in the rest of Southeast Alaska were more interested in staying on Pacific Time because most felt that they had more interaction with Seattle and other West Coast communities than they did with Anchorage and the Rail Belt.

Time had always been a fairly local proposition in Alaska, with the huge state covering enough longitude to qualify for five time zones. National Park Service Historian Frank Norris says that prior to 1900 time was determined by longitude.

“Based on that system, clocks in Wrangell (located at 132 Degrees West Longitude) would strike noon 12 minutes before those located in Sitka (at 135 Degrees West Longitude),” Norris wrote in a 2003 issue of the Alaska History Journal. “This system proved slightly vexing to ship captains and commercial traders who traveled long distances. Most people, however, traveled little thus there was little pressure to change the existing state of affairs.”

In Ketchikan, it was assumed that whatever time it was in Seattle was good enough, even though – according to the longitude theory - Ketchikan should have been at least 30 minutes behind Seattle. Watches and clocks were set by calling the phone company, which checked in every morning with Seattle for the correct time.

Even so, old timers say, time was not as crucial to the day to day events as it is now. In the summer, most work began not long after sunrise and ended in the dusk of nightfall. In the winter – when things slowed down dramatically – outdoor work was limited to daylight as well, although indoor commerce found itself beginning in darkness in the morning and ending in darkness in the late afternoon.

The only significant public display of timekeeping took place at noon, when Ketchikan Spruce Mill would rattle the windows of downtown with its horn. In the summer, canneries would also mark break times with bells and sirens, but since the breaks were not consistent the public at large couldn’t set their watches by the sounds.

As in a lot of other areas, the Alaskan/Canadian Gold Rushes of the 1890s and 1900s brought change. The US Army, which was responsible for keeping order in territory, wanted more established times. Three zones were created. Alaska Standard Time – one hour before Pacific Time – was established in Southeast, then the most populous part of the state. Additional time zones were also established for Central and Western Alaska.

This delineation stayed in place until 1940. Time changes for daylight savings time also came into effect in the early 1920s.

Another change came into effect during World War I when Alaska Standard Time was moved two hours – rather than one hour – before Pacific Time. But since it was a slower time, a time when there was little instantaneous communication between Alaska and the Outside World, most residents continued to observe Alaska Time as an hour before Pacific Time.

By the mid 1920s, though, there was a move to change Southeast’s time to that of the Pacific Coast. In 1926, the Ketchikan City Council voted to adopt Pacific Standard Time. According to the Ketchikan Chronicle, the move had strong support from fishermen, tourists and businesses doing business with Seattle interests.

The Daily Alaska Empire (Juneau) noted that the while the idea was also proposed in other Southeast communities, none followed Ketchikan’s lead. In the 1930s, some communities followed Seattle’s lead and moved to Daylight Savings time, but the actions were not region or statewide.

Shortly before World War II, in April of 1940, Juneau voters chose to move from Alaska Standard to Pacific Time. During World War II, the rest of the state moved to Pacific Time. But at the end of the War, when the rest of the country repealed “War Time,” Southeast as a region stayed on Pacific Time.

Eventually, time zones became further established with most of Southeast on Pacific Time, Skagway on Yukon Time, the Rail Belt on Alaska-Hawaii Time and Western Alaska in a fourth time zone.

That’s where things remained until the 1970s, when the capital move debate began to dominate statewide politics.

In 1979, the Juneau City-Borough Assembly – at the urging of Mayor Bill Overstreet - requested that the Federal Department of Transportation move northern Southeast Alaska to Yukon Time, hoping this would ease some of the tension with the Railbelt. This was approved and in April of 1980, Juneau and Haines joined Skagway in the Yukon Time zone. Ketchikan, Wrangell, Petersburg and Sitka stayed in the Pacific zone.

This change occurred despite the fact that a rebellion had occurred in Juneau with a majority of the residents opposing the move. The state government also asked the federal government to leave Juneau and Haines in Pacific Time, but the Federal DOT refused, at least initially.

Opposition intensified – residents in Juneau even tried to recall several Assembly members who originally proposed the time change – and the Federal Government agreed to reassess the time change. By the end of 1980, it had decided to revoke its decision to move Juneau to Yukon Time.

In the 1982 elections, voters turned down the capital move question, but newly elected Governor Bill Sheffield decided to “bring the state closer together” by putting nearly the entire state on a single time zone. Sheffield proposed that the Railbelt move up one hour and Southeast move back an hour, putting both areas on what would be called Alaska Time.

Western Alaska and the far Aleutians would also be moved up an hour but would still remain an hour behind the rest of the state. The Federal Government modified the proposal slightly and put Western Alaska into the unified time zone, leaving only the Aleutians in the Western Alaska zone. The new zones went into affect in October of 1983.

Naturally, in Southeast – especially Southern Southeast – the move to a new time was controversial. Residents of Metlakatla and the Annette Island Indian Community opted to stay on Pacific Time, which is why there is an hour time difference between Ketchikan and Metlakatla when Ketchikan goes off Daylight Savings Time each fall.

Residents of Ketchikan were also generally unhappy with the time change. The time change was set to coincide with the normal “fall back” from daylight savings to standard time in October 1983. So in effect, Southeast residents “fell back” two hours that year. Whereas sunset was at 6:09 on Oct 30 it was suddenly at 4:02 on Oct. 31st. By contrast, residents in the central part of the state didn’t change their clocks at all. By not “falling back” an hour they were suddenly on the same time zone as Southeast.

Among the complaints aired in the Ketchikan Daily News was that the move hurt business with Seattle. This was the same argument that Metlakatla used, because the Native community said it did more business with federal agencies in Seattle and Washington D.C.

Locally, it was also felt that the increased darkness in the afternoon was dangerous to children coming home from school. School Superintendent Darroll Hargraves told the Daily News that the district was expecting a few days of “grumpy, hyperactive kids” because biological clocks would be out of whack.

Police chief Dan Anslinger said the additional darkness in the afternoon would create a danger because many school children would be walking home in the dark. “Having an extra hour of light in morning won’t do anything for us,” Anslinger told the Daily News.

Local air traffic operators also faulted the change. The two-hour fall back meant that flights would have to end by 3:30 pm in December and January. “We’ll have to be back well before the normal work day is over,” Ketchikan Air pilot Don Nobles told the Daily News.

The change did spur one positive change for local sports enthusiasts. The loss of an hour of daylight eventually spurred the community to spend more than $500,000 to put lights at Dudley and Walker Fields.

The anger at the time change was so deep that hundreds of names were gathered on petitions and in 1984 the Ketchikan City Council voted to go back to Pacific Time. But that vote was contingent upon the Borough Assembly taking similar action. Prior to the Assembly vote, Governor Sheffield contacted its members and asked them to put off action and give the time change a chance to work. The Assembly voted 6-1 to “study” the proposal further.

Still citizens groups in Ketchikan and other Southeast communities continued to press their case for a return to Pacific Time. In 1986, the Federal Government turned down their requests. According to the Ketchikan Daily News, the refusal was because officials felt that allowing individual communities to choose their time zones would create greater difficulty in terms of commerce and communications.

For a while, several Ketchikan residents informally protested by remaining on Pacific Time. At least one business, Murray Pacific, joined them.

The company, which did a large percentage of its business with companies in Seattle, felt it was losing at least two hours of business time with the West Coast. So it polled its employees and they unanimously supported staying on Pacific Time.

At the time, one employee noted that going to work an hour later in the morning was a good thing because there was less competition for the use of the family bathroom.

Since the 1980s, there have been several proposals to alter the time zones again. The most common suggestion is for Alaska to stay on Daylight Savings Time year round. But none of the proposals have received wide scale support.

On the other hand, the capital move, which Governor Sheffield hoped to forestall by condensing the time zones - continues to be debated – and argued over – year after year.