Archive for March 2nd, 2009


When the Ice Cracks

Growing up in northern Wisconsin, I’m accustomed to winter.  The blustery snowstorms, freezing temperatures and the ice make for an interesting and challenging way of life.  One thing I look forward to happens about this time of year — the ice begins to break-up.  In my hometown I could hear it at night, the steady grinding as the Wisconsin River pushed against the ice.  The sound reminded me of snowplows scraping the snow from the roads as the river pushed the ice over, across and along the granite and sandstone shores.  Below are some pictures of the ice on Lake Kegonsa as spring forces the ice to give way.



During the day, cracks open in the ice and then freeze again at night.


Which pushes the ice onto the shore.  I could hear the ice popping and grinding while I took these pictures.


The ice is from one to two feet thick in these photos.



Slowly grinding away at the rocky shoreline.



On This Day, March 2: Rolling Thunder

March 2, 1965

First Rolling Thunder raid conducted

Operation Rolling Thunder begins with more than 100 United States Air Force jet bombers striking an ammunition depot at Xom Bang, 10 miles inside North Vietnam. Simultaneously, 60 South Vietnamese Air Force propeller planes bombed the Quang Khe naval base, 65 miles north of the 17th parallel.

Six U.S. planes were downed, but only one U.S. pilot was lost. Capt. Hayden J. Lockhart, flying an F-100, was shot down and became the first Air Force pilot to be taken prisoner by the North Vietnamese. Lockhart was released in 1973 when U.S. POWs were returned under provisions of the Paris Peace Accords.

The raid was the result of President Lyndon B. Johnson’s decision in February to undertake the sustained bombing of North Vietnam that he and his advisers had been considering for more than a year. The goal of Rolling Thunder was to interdict North Vietnamese transportation routes in the southern part of North Vietnam and the slow infiltration of personnel and supplies into South Vietnam. In July 1966, Rolling Thunder was expanded to include North Vietnamese ammunition dumps and oil storage facilities as targets and in the spring of 1967 it was further expanded to include power plants, factories, and airfields in the Hanoi-Haiphong area.

The White House closely controlled Operation Rolling Thunder and President Johnson occasionally selected the targets himself. From 1965 to 1968, about 643,000 tons of bombs were dropped on North Vietnam. A total of nearly 900 U.S. aircraft were lost during Operation Rolling Thunder. The operation continued, with occasional suspensions, until President Johnson halted it on October 31, 1968, under increasing domestic political pressure.

“First Rolling Thunder raid conducted.” 2009. The History Channel website. 2 Mar 2009, 11:21


On This Day

1807 – The U.S. Congress passed an act to “prohibit the importation of slaves into any port or place within the jurisdiction of the United States… from any foreign kingdom, place, or country.”

1836 – Texas declared its independence from Mexico and an ad interim government was formed.

1877 – In the U.S., Rutherford B. Hayes was declared the winner of the 1876 presidential election by the U.S. Congress. Samuel J. Tilden, however, had won the popular vote on November 7, 1876.

1899 – Mount Rainier National Park in Washington was established by the U.S. Congress.

1901 – The U.S. Congress passed the Platt amendment, which limited Cuban autonomy as a condition for withdrawal of U.S. troops.

1908 – In Paris, Gabriel Lippmann introduced three-dimensional color photography at the Academy of Sciences.

1917 – The Russian Revolution began with Czar Nicholas II abdicating.

1917 – Citizens of Puerto Rico were granted U.S. citizenship with the enactment of the Jones Act.

1946 – Ho Chi Minh was elected President of Vietnam.

1949 – The B-50 Superfortress Lucky Lady II landed in Fort Worth, TX. The American plane had completed the first non-stop around-the-world flight.

1969 – In Toulouse, France, the supersonic transport Concorde made its first test flight.

2004 – NASA announced that the Mars rover Opportunity had discovered evidence that water had existed on Mars in the past.

March 2, 1969

Soviet Union and Chinese armed forces clash

In a dramatic confirmation of the growing rift between the two most powerful communist nations in the world, troops from the Soviet Union and the People’s Republic of China fire on each other at a border outpost on the Ussuri River in the eastern region of the USSR, north of Vladivostok. In the years following this incident, the United States used the Soviet-Chinese schism to its advantage in its Cold War diplomacy.

The cause of the firefight between Soviet and Chinese troops was a matter of dispute. The Soviets charged that Chinese soldiers crossed the border between the two nations and attacked a Soviet outpost, killing and wounding a number of Russian guards. The intruders were then driven back with heavy casualties. The Chinese report indicated that it was the Soviets who crossed the border and were repulsed. Either way, it was the first time that either side openly admitted to a clash of arms along the border, though it had been rumored for years that similar run-ins were occurring. Ever since the early-1960s, relations between the two communist superpowers had deteriorated. China charged that the Soviet leadership was deviating from the pure path of Marxism, and by the mid-1960s, Chinese leaders were openly declaring that the United States and the Soviet Union were conspiring against the Chinese Revolution.

For the United States, the breakdown of relations between the Soviet Union and China was a diplomatic opportunity. By the early 1970s, the United States began to initiate diplomatic contacts with China. (Relations between the two nations had been severed in 1949 following the successful communist revolution in China.) In 1972, President Richard Nixon surprised the world by announcing that he would visit China. The strongest impetus for this new cordiality toward communist China was the U.S. desire to use the new relationship as leverage in its diplomacy with the Soviet Union, making the Russians more malleable on issues such as arms control and their support of North Vietnam in the on-going Vietnam War. Pitting these two communist giants against one another became a mainstay of U.S. diplomacy in the later Cold War era.

“Soviet Union and Chinese armed forces clash.” 2009. The History Channel website. 2 Mar 2009, 11:22


DNR to track golden eagles through Wis., Minn.

Here is a news article making its way through Wisconsin Newspapers.  I found this copy on the Stevens Point Journal online.  With a link to the article here:

I thought it an interesting story.


NELSON, Wis. (AP) — The Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources is planning to strap small GPS units on golden eagles over the next three years to see where the birds go when they migrate from western Wisconsin and eastern Minnesota.

The golden eagle is mostly a western bird and is plentiful from the Dakotas west to the Pacific Ocean. The national bird of Mexico, it also lives in northern Ontario, where it’s listed as a species of concern.

Though it’s not unusual to see one in Wisconsin, the prevailing wisdom used to be that there weren’t many here.

But a one-day census last month by 100 trained volunteers counted 70 in western Wisconsin, eastern Minnesota and northern Iowa, including 50 seen in Wisconsin’s Buffalo County.

Last year’s one-day census of the same area tallied 37 golden eagles, including 31 in Wisconsin.

“We assume these birds are probably coming from northern Ontario, and this (GPS) device will tell us if that’s true,” said Scott Mehus, education program specialist at the National Eagle Center in nearby Wabasha, Minn.

He added that it’s possible more golden eagles are being counted because officials are now noticing them. “Plus, we can learn more about where they’re going while they’re here and their daily territory.”

The Wisconsin DNR has issued trapping permits and provided staff to monitor the trapping sites in the state. The goal is to trap and track two golden eagles per year for the next three years.

So far, no golden eagles have been fitted with the GPS units. If none are captured, Mehus said a golden eagle accidentally caught last fall in a coyote trap in Buffalo County, now recovering from puncture wounds at the University of Minnesota, will be fitted with a GPS unit. It will then be returned to the wild next month.

The Mississippi River is a haven for bald eagles during the winter since this stretch never ices over and the birds can catch plenty of fish. In the one-day census last month when 70 golden eagles were sighted, 390 bald eagles also were counted.

While much research has been done on golden eagles elsewhere in the United States, very little is known about them in the Mississippi River Valley.

Few golden eagles are seen deeper into Minnesota or Wisconsin, away from the Mississippi River region. For whatever reason, the birds are choosing to stay here from mid- to late October until late February.

“We want to know how they’re using the Mississippi River Valley during the winter, what their habitat choices are — are they staying in one place or wandering around — and we need to know that to manage them on both sides of the river,” said Mark Martell, director of bird conservation for Audubon Minnesota, who is helping with trapping efforts.

Wildlife biologists also want to know where they’re going to breed and the route they’re taking to their nesting sites.

Mehus and Martell suspect the golden eagles spending their winters in Wisconsin and eastern Minnesota are probably from Canada. One reason: Mehus said it’s common for golden eagles in the western U.S. to perch on telephone poles but in 14 years of working in eastern Minnesota, he’s seen only one golden eagle do that.

With whatever information they find on the eagles’ winter sites, officials hope to preserve the habitat.

The $3,700 GPS units are provided by the Minnesota DNR, along with funding from private sources and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. Satellite time to track the golden eagles will cost $1,500 per bird each year.

Biologists hope the GPS units, which weigh about 3 ounces, will stay in operation for four to five years.

Enter your email address to subscribe to this blog and receive notifications of new posts by email.

Join 281 other followers