Monday, July 1, 2013
Gettysburg 150th Anniversary
On July 1, 1863, Confederate and Union troops descended on the grassy hills of Gettysburg Pennsylvania, thrusting the sleepy town of 2,400 into the Civil War. Union Major General George Meade’s Army of the Potomac faced off against Confederate General Robert E. Lee’s Army of Northern Virginia. The three-day Battle of Gettysburg ended the Confederate invasion of the North and resulted in staggering losses:
United States – 93,921 participants; 3,155 killed, 14,531 wounded, 5,369 captured/missing.
Confederate States – 71,699 participants; 4,708 killed, 12,693 wounded, 5,830 captured/missing.
Each year 1.2 million visitors journey to the Gettysburg National Military Park. This week, about 200,000 are expected to attend the town and park’s commemoration of the battle’s 150th anniversary (July 1 – 3, 1863).
Gettysburg National Military Park spans 5,989 acres of woodlands, farmlands, craggy ridges and sloping valleys, with more than 1,300 monuments erected by the battle’s veterans and state governments. The fighting began the morning of July 1, 1863 at McPherson Ridge, continued on July 2 at Little Round Top, and ended July 3 with Pickett’s Charge. After the defeat, Confederate troops retreated to Virginia, ending Robert E. Lee’s campaign into Pennsylvania.
3,500 Union soldiers lay buried at Soldiers’ National Cemetery, 1,632 in unmarked graves. The cemetery was dedicated on November 19, 1863, and following a Massachusetts politician’s two-hour oration, President Lincoln took two minutes to deliver ‘a few appropriate remarks” – the Gettysburg Address.
CANADA DAY – July 1 is also the national day of Canada (Fete du Canada), celebrating the anniversary of the July 1, 1867 enactment of the British North America Act, which united three colonies into a single country called Canada within the British Empire. The colonies were Nova Scotia, New Brunswick, and the Province of Canada (Ontario and Quebec).
So to all my old Canadian friends from Vancouver Island to Cape Bretton Island Nova Scotia have a few Molson Exports for me today!
19 FIREFIGHTERS DIE IN ARIZONA - The Arizona Republic's Craig Harris and Michelle Ye Hee Lee: "Nineteen firefighters, including 18 from the elite Granite Mountain Hotshots of Prescott, died Sunday fighting an out-of-control wildfire in Yarnell, a tiny Yavapai County town roughly 80 miles northwest of Phoenix. About half of the town's 500 homes were feared destroyed by the blaze, which began early Friday evening, and by Sunday the fire had spread to more than 2,000 acres. ... It was the worst wildland firefighting tragedy in U.S. history since 25 were killed in the Griffith Park Fire in Los Angeles in 1933 . ... At least 250 firefighters were battling the fire ... and the force was expected to increase to 400 today ... Erratic winds, dry fuel and monsoon-like weather created conditions for the fire to spread quickly."
Donations to this group to help the firefighters' families. www.100club.org
BIRTHDAYS THIS WEEK – Birthday wishes and thoughts this week to: Larry David (66), Olivia de Havilland (97), Julie Nixon Eisenhower (65), Edie Falco (50), Huey Lewis (63), David McCullough (80), Nancy Reagan (92), Geraldo Rivera (70), Robbie Robertson (70), Ringo Starr (73), United States of America (237), Bill Withers (75).
THE SWAMI’S WEEK TOP PICKS – (CFL) BC Lions 42 Toronto Argonauts 35 (7/4); (MLB) Toronto Blue Jays 6 Detroit Tigers 3 (7/1); (Grade I Stakes) Game On Dude to win the Hollywood Gold Cup (7/6). Season to Date (10-7).
SPORTS BLINK - Chicago Tribune cover, "RETURN OFTHE CUP ... HAWKEYTOWN ... Patrick Sharp celebrates the Hawks' Stanley Cup victory over the Bruins." ... "Blackhawks' 2nd Stanley Cup in 4 years comes in a flash," by Chris Kuc in Boston: "The Hawks' magical 2013 season concluded with ... the franchise's fifth title and second in the last four years after a 3-2 victory over the Bruins on Monday night at TD Garden. As with the 2010 championship, the end came in stunning fashion in Game 6 on enemy ice. Trailing by a goal with less than 90 seconds remaining in the third period, the Hawks got scores from Bryan Bickell and Dave Bolland 17 seconds apart to stun the Bruins and the crowd of 17,565."
MOST CHAIN RESTAURANTS IN US – 1. Subway 25,549, 2. McDonald’s 14,157, 3. Pizza Hut 7,756, 4. Burger King 7,183.
RISING DEMOCRAT STAR - Is [Rep.] Tulsi Gabbard [D-Hawaii] the Next Democratic Party Star? : Along with fiery Iraq War veteran Representative Tammy Duckworth, New York's Representative Grace Meng, and Wisconsin's openly gay Senator Tammy Baldwin-not to mention Chelsea Clinton waiting somewhere in the wings-she's in a vanguard of women leaders positioning themselves to succeed such long-running institutions as Hillary Clinton, Nancy Pelosi, and Dianne Feinstein. But even by the standards of her peers, Gabbard stands out, and not only because she's the youngest woman in Congress. She also comes across as an embodiment of the Obama era, with its shattering of political stereotypes and explosion of cultural diversity. ...
She's the first person born in American Samoa to be elected to Congress; the Congress's first elected Hindu (she took her oath of office on the Bhagavad Gita); and along with Duckworth, one of its first two female combat veterans. She also happens to be a lifelong vegetarian, a student of martial arts (she has spent years doing Brazilian capoeira), and an avid surfer who tells me, 'Every time I get home for a district work week, I make sure I get out on the water a couple of times for an early-morning session. It recharges the batteries.'"
CHINA PUSHES DEEP INTO U.S. REAL ESTATE - "First, it was the Japanese. Moneymen from Tokyo blew into the United States to buy famous pieces of the American landscape ... Now, about a quarter-century later, another set of deep-pocketed foreign buyers is pushing ever deeper into United States real estate: the Chinese. Undaunted by Japan's real estate misadventures in the 1980s ... Chinese investors are fanning out in the United States. What began with a few isolated purchases two years ago has become a hunt for trophy properties and billion-dollar deals. ... Some caution that China could quickly retreat, as Japan did, if its economy worsens. ... And yet in recent weeks, several big deals in New York City have set real estate circles abuzz. Zhang Xin, a Chinese business magnate and chief executive of the largest commercial real estate developer in Beijing, joined forces with the Safra family of Brazil to buy a large piece of the General Motors Building in Midtown.
"Dalian Wanda Group, a big Chinese developer, said it intended to build a luxury hotel in Manhattan. ... The deals go beyond shimmering glass-and-steel towers: Chinese and Hong Kong investors have also become the second-largest foreign buyers of United States homes, after the Canadians. ... For the moment, the Chinese government is encouraging the investments and even helping to finance them. The state-owned Bank of China has become the largest foreign lender in commercial real estate deals in the United States, replacing big European banks."
SCOTUS - The DOMA decision is momentous, broad, and moving, sending to a just oblivion one of the most bigoted laws in the country's history, one that Bill Clinton never should have signed in the first place. President Obama's legal decision to halt the Justice Department's defense of DOMA will prove an important historical marker for him and the country. The narrow Prop 8 decision was largely viewed as inevitable, but the resumption of same-sex marriage in California, the biggest state, will have a snowball effect elsewhere, politically and with time legally ...
But let us not forget that were it not for the expected swing vote of Anthony Kennedy, the court's conservative contingent would have upheld DOMA. I had thought Roberts might be movable, too, if only because he seems to care about being on the right side of history (e.g., his Obamacare decision), but I was wrong. The Roberts Court continues doing everything it can to permit the abridgment of the rights of minorities even as it strengthens the rights of corporations. It turns out that John Roberts's famous laissez-faire mantra about racial animus also sums up his views about homophobia: 'The way to end discrimination on the basis of race is to stop discriminating on the basis of race.' This will be his epitaph, and not in a good way."
The Supreme Court met the moment Wednesday. With public attitudes shifting dramatically in favor of same-sex marriage, the justices used a pair of rulings to give additional momentum to one of the most rapid changes in social policy in the nation's history. Sometimes the court makes history outright, as it did when it outlawed segregated schools in 1954 or legalized abortion in 1973. Other times, it moves more deliberately, facilitating changes already underway. That was the case on Wednesday. The justices carefully provided a historic push to the same-sex-marriage movement, even as they decided to leave the political wrangling over the issue to the states and politicians.... The throngs outside the Supreme Court were dominated by supporters of same-sex marriage, and their jubilation showed that they regarded Wednesday as a momentous day in the movement for marriage equality. ...
The shift in public opinion is neither fully realized nor held consistently nationwide, or among all demographic groups. Same-sex marriage continues to divide Americans on the basis of ideology, political party, age and region, which is why legal and political battles will continue after Wednesday's rulings. The justices seemed aware of that as well. ... In one sense, the politics of same-sex marriage already had reached a tipping point. Less than a decade ago, Republicans considered the issue a valuable political weapon with which to rally conservatives and put Democrats on the defensive. Today, although a majority of Republicans continue to oppose same-sex marriage, Republican leaders and candidates are on the defensive. Their positions may not have changed but many of them are silent on the issue, particularly in the context of political campaigns. Thirty years ago, the culture wars split the Democratic coalition and left the party on the defensive in national elections. Whether it was abortion, affirmative action, drugs, gay rights or the broader debate over traditional values, Democrats were divided, Republicans united. Today it is the opposite. President Obama and the Democrats use the issue of same-sex marriage - or gun control or climate change - to try to broaden and deepen their coalition, particularly among younger voters. ...
Same-sex marriage is not legal in more than three dozen states. Many of those states have written the bans into their constitutions. It could take years to change those provisions if the battles are engaged one by one, state by state. Only the Supreme Court could short-circuit that process.For now, the justices are not willing to do so. ... But history is moving against Republicans on this, and a high court led by Chief Justice John Roberts - a court that conservatives have looked to for support - did little Wednesday to offer aid or comfort."
GOLD TANKS AGAIN - Gold futures tumbled below $1,200 an ounce, extending a slump to a 34-month low, as U.S. economic data topped estimates by analysts, eroding the metal's appeal as a store of value. In May, consumer spending rebounded and pending home sales jumped to the highest since 2006, while jobless claims fell last week ... Assets in the SPDR Gold Trust, the world's biggest exchange-traded product backed by the metal, have slumped 28 percent this year to the lowest since February 2009 amid an equity rally and muted inflation.
FDR MUSEUM GETS $35 MILLION FACELIFT- "Roosevelt's Legacy, Burning Brightly: The Franklin D. Roosevelt Presidential Library and Museum unveils a new permanent exhibition in Hyde Park, N.Y., today. It's the first major overhaul since FDR himself dedicated it in 1941. From the review: "You emerge from this 12,000-square-foot exhibition (designed by Gallagher & Associates) in a state of justified amazement, not necessarily because new facts have been revealed, or because of new interactive video tables and screens with digital 'flipbooks,' but because the exhibition, whose curator is Herman R. Eberhardt, so steadily recounts the history."
"The most intriguing displays are actually scanned documents on video screens that present the controversies and debates during the Roosevelt years : Did the New Deal really end the Depression, or did the coming of the war? Why didn't Roosevelt support federal anti-lynching legislation? (He did not want to lose Southern Democratic support.) What were his attitudes toward race? What was behind the executive order that interned Japanese-Americans along the West Coast? Did Roosevelt do what was possible to help Jews fleeing Hitler's executioners? (At one point Alaska was considered as a refuge.) And did he give away Eastern Europe to Stalin at Yalta? This approach has been used at other presidential libraries with some success [Truman and Bush 43] ... But the old permanent exhibition here paid little attention to debate, and even this one could have gone further."
MARKET WEEK - U.S. investors start fresh today, following the best first half of a year since 1998 for the S&P 500 and since 1999 for the Dow, but also coming off the first losing month of the year for the major averages. The new month begins with a short week, with just a half day of trading Wednesday and a closure on Thursday for the July 4 holiday.
DRIVING THE WEEK – President Barack Obama continues his African tour today with stops in Tanzania, including a joint news conference with President Jakaya Mrisho Kikwete, a roundtable with CEOs from the U.S. and across Africa and an address to a business group ... ISM manufacturing today at 10 a.m. EDT expected to dip to 50.5 from 50.7, still expantionary but barely ... Construction spending at 10 a.m. today expected to grow a soft 0.6 percent ... Factory orders at 10 a.m. Tuesday expected to rise 2.0 percent ...
Auto sales Tuesday afternoon expected to grow to 15.3M from 15.23M ... ADP private employment at 8:15 a.m. EDT excepted to show a gain of 160K but may come in significantly weaker ... ISM non-manufacturing at 10 a.m. Wednesday expected to rise to 54.2 from 53.7 ... June jobs report at 8:30 a.m. on Friday expected to show a gain of 175K, a decline in unemployment from 7.6 percent to 7.5 percent and an increase in earnings of 0.2 percent.
QUOTE OF THE MONTH – “Lost time is never found again.” Benjamin Franklin
JULY RINK RATS POLL – How many original colonies in America? (1) 11 (2) 12 (3) 13 (4) 14
Next week: American education, a summer time perspective and July in the garden.
Until Next Monday, Happy Independence Week!
July 1, 2013