Thursday, April 12, 2012

Remembering: Fort Sumter

April 12, 1861 the Civil War begins as Confederate forces fire on the US held Fort Sumter in South Carolina.

South Carolina seceded on December 20, 1860, the first state to do so. On January 9, Star of The West, a supply ship, attempted to reach the fort, but warning shots were fired, and the ship fled.

On February 15, the Confederate Congress declared that all Union forts must be "either by negotiation or force". Major Robert Anderson, commander of Fort Sumter, refused their demand of surrender.

By April 6, Sumter was the last federal installation that hadn't been coerced into surrender or been seized. Lincoln sent word to the South that a ship would be sent, with nothing but food in it. There would be no reinforcements, no ammunition, just humanitarian aid.

The South's answer was sent April 12 at 4:30am, as the Confederate guns unleashed. They would fire on the fort for thirty-three straight hours. Over four thousand shells were fired by the time the fort surrendered.

The war between the states had begun, and would last until April 8, 1865.

Nebraska Could Continue Keystone XL

The Keystone XL Pipeline might have been attacked by the federal government, but that doesn't seem to be stopping it from continuing. Already Oklahoma and Texas have decided to finish their parts of it.

Now Nebraska may give it the go ahead as well. The state government has a vote before that it would allow the Department of Environmental Quality to evaluate the social, environmental and economic impact of any proposed route.

If the bill passes, then the department could submit a route to the state. At which point the state could then give it a full go ahead. Opponents of the pipeline are worried, because the Department of Environmental Quality has never told Governor Dave Heineman, no. The Governor is a big supporter of the pipeline.

Standoff in The South China Sea

BRP Gregorio de Pilar
On Sunday, a Philippine Navy surveillance aircraft spotted eight Chinese fishing boats in Philippine waters. The BRP Gregorio de Pilar was dispatched. Tuesday upon boarding one of the vessels it's inspection crew found "large amounts of illegally collected corals, giant clams and live sharks" in the boat's compartments.

The inspection team returned and reported. Before the Gregorio de Pilar could begin making arrests, two Chinese maritime surveillance ships showed up, and placed themselves between the fishing boats and the Gregorio de Pilar.

With this began the standoff. The Philippines have protested to the Chinese government, but China responded by stating that the area is Chinese territory. This despite the area being recognized as belonging to the Philippines by UN treaty. China in fact claims almost the whole South China Sea to be theirs.

Wednesday the Philippines dispatched a coast guard vessel to join the Gregorio de Pilar. By the time it arrived on Thursday, a third Chinese vessel had arrived. Latest reports from the BBC state that the Gregorio de Pilar has pulled back, but the Philippine government would not state why.

The Philippines are scheduled to undergo naval operations with the US Navy, April 16-27, near the area.

Plague Spreading Through Bats

A mysterious plague has been killing off bats in alarming numbers. First discovered in 2007 "white nose syndrome" has spread from Albany, New York into nineteen states and three provinces.

The disease has been named for the white that begins to cover the bats face, ears, and wings. The fungus then begins to eat through the membranes of the wings, tail, and ears. As it spreads through each bat, it appears to mess with their mental stability and instincts.

So far it is estimated that 5.5 million bats have been lost to the plague. Nothing has yet been effective in stopping it's spread.

This is of grave concern as bats have an important role in the food chain. Just one million bats eats at least 540 tons of insects a year. Many of those insects will now survive to eat more crops, gardens, and trees; upsetting the balance even more.

Amazon Begins Trade In of CDs

On Wednesday, Amazon announced an expansion to their trade in program. For the last few years customers have been allowed to trade in movies, textbooks, video games, and electronics. When Amazon receives them, they put an amount of credit into the person's account.

Well now you can turn in your old CDs as well. On Amazon there's a list of CDs that they'll accept, and the amount they'll give you for them. Once you've found one you want to remove from your collection, print a shipping label and packing slip and ship the discs for free.

In a press release, Amazon said, "Through customer feedback we've learned that a lot of customers are interested in trading in their used CDs to upgrade to something new."