Friday, July 14, 2017

Costa Concordia Dismantling Completed in Italy

The Costa Concordia sits on its side prior to the start of "parbuckling" operation in September 2014. The U.S. company Titan Salvage, now part of Ardent, was part of the consortium that refloated and removed the Costa Concordia, considered the largest maritime salvage in history. REUTERS/Tony Gentile

The dismantling and recycling of the infamous Costa Concordia cruise liner has been completed in Italy, marking the official end to final phase of what is considered the largest maritime salvage job in history

The consortium responsible for the Costa Concordia's dismantling announced the completion of the project this month in Genoa, Italy, about three years after the ship's arrival. The consortium, known as the Ship Recycling Consortium, is made up by the Italian company Saipem, holding 51%, and San Giorgio del Porto, which held 49%.

The Costa Concordia moored at the "Seawall" pier in Genoa, Italy in July 2014. Photo: Ship Recycling Consortium

The Costa Concordia ran aground on the Mediterranean island of Giglio on January 13, 2012 after sailing too close shore. The vessel came to rest on its side along the rock outcropping just outside the tiny island's main harbor, prompting a massive salvage operation that lasted more than two years and involved the famous "parbuckling" operation – an event that was televised live across the globe. The cruise ship was later refloated and towed to Genoa in July 2014 for dismantling and recycling.

The Ship Recycling Consortium says that during the dismantling and recycling project, approximately 53,000 tons of materials were recycled at facilities in Italy. More than 350 workers worked nearly around the clock to dismantled the ship in a safe and environmentally-friendly manner, working a combined one million man hours. 

Costa Concordia's Italian captain, Francesco Schettino, was sentenced to 16 years in jail for his role in the shipwreck, which killed 32 people. Schettino began his prison sentence this past May. 



Original Page: http://feedproxy.google.com/~r/Gcaptain/~3/XyiPTI0amc0/



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1967: When Australia First Won The Admiral’s Cup (Part 1 of 2)

Fifty years ago, in August 1967, Australian yachting made history on the world stage, winning the Admiral's Cup event sailed in UK waters, then recognized as the unofficial world championship for ocean racing.

It was only the second time an Australian team had entered the event, which, up to then, had been dominated by yachts from the UK and USA. The result was astonishing at the time – similar to Australia beating Brazil in a final of the World Cup.

This is part one of a two part story of that remarkable victory.

A famous Beken of Cowes image of Caprice of Huon on the Solent in 1965

A famous Beken of Cowes image of Caprice of Huon on the Solent in 1965

A warning shot was fired in 1965 with our first challenge. That Australian team, politely referred to as 'old cruising yachts' by the establishment, came second with the 13-year-old Caprice of Huon the team's top individual yacht.

The 1967 win was as emphatic as it could be: more than 100 points clear of the next team.The top three individual yachts of all yachts competing were the three Australian entries – Mercedes III, Balandra, and Caprice of Huon.

The top boat, Mercedes III, was designed (by Ben Lexcen) and built in Australia.

Sorry, There's A War On

But the Australian challenge almost came to nothing even before the yachts had arrived in the UK. They left aboard the Wilhelmsen cargo ship MV Tysla which steamed toward Europe intending to take the usual passage through the Suez Canal. As the ship crossed toward the Red Sea, the June 6-day Arab-Israeli war closed the canal, and it became apparent that there was little chance of the canal reopening soon.

MV Tysla had to return to Fremantle to offload cargo originally bound for Aden and then, like many other ships, headed west for a passage around the Cape of Good Hope. Its schedule was now even further delayed, as it would have to go into the Mediterranean Sea for a scheduled stop at the Italian port of Genoa, before eventually reaching the UK. It looked like they would miss the Admiral's Cup entirely.

The Kindness of Strangers

Mercedes III owner Ted Kaufmann flew to Capetown and his call for help was answered with great generosity. In Capetown Tysla was given precedence over other ships so that members of the Royal Cape Yacht Club could assist and offload the three yachts, transferring them to a Union Castle Line passenger ship that arrived in Southampton on July 17 – right in the middle of a waterside workers' strike.

Sending a team from the other side of the world was always going to be demanding. It had to be selected well in advance of the Northern Hemisphere teams. Extra weeks were lost due to travel, and with the boats having to be unrigged, packed up, then set up again. The determination to get there, despite these additional obstacles, added to the resolve of the Australian crews.

As July closed, all competing teams assembled in Cowes, eventually joined by the Australian boats, and took part in warm up races. The Australians were prepared, but were the other teams aware of what they would be up against?

Previously, the UK, European and US sailors recognized that the Australians had experience through their many ocean-racing events, including the Sydney to Hobart race, they did not consider Australia to be a significant threat to their supremacy. The success of the Australian's 1965 campaign caught them by surprise, and changed all that.

Camille of Seaforth on Pittwater in 2008

Camille of Seaforth on Pittwater in 2008

1965: The Australian Shock

In the aftermath of the Australian team's surprise second place in 1965, Australia's opponents were on high alert.

In particular they singled out the leadership of Gordon Ingate and the determination of the Australians to sail as well as they could as a team.

Yachting Monthly in September 1965 noted "Cowes week will quite certainly be remembered for the first visit of the Australians… Australian yachtsmen made an immediate and impressive impact upon British sailing… the factor mainly responsible for Australia's success was perhaps not to be found in the boats but in the men who sailed them."

The locals remained bemused by the collection of yachts, however:

"Caprice of Huon – a 13-year old Robert Clark design in which modernisation had been applied to almost everything except the hull… and her canoe sterned colleagues, the Halvorsen Bros sophisticated Freya, and Ron Swanson's unpretentious Camille with light weight (and bent) fittings, a 4 inch cockpit compass and a sail plan so modest that with a 30 ft waterline she rates in RORC Class 3."

How dare they be so good at their first try with this assortment of craft?  Yachting World (UK) summarised things well from a British perspective:

"If it was the Admiral's Cup which dominated Cowes Week, it was the Australian team's spirited attempt to win it that dominated the Admiral's Cup. Everyone admired their tremendously sporting effort in bringing a team of yachts from the other side of the world and when Caprice of Huon won her class in the Channel Race, people reckoned it was a fair reward. When she won the Britannia Challenge Cup outright, they were astonished and when she completed a fabulous hat-trick by winning the New York Yacht Club trophy, Gordon Ingate and his crew were confirmed as the heroes of the week. The way they managed to drive their elderly, amateur built yacht, whose long ends give her a stiffish rating, so well as to consistently beat the very latest and best from seven other countries, made a deep impression".

Freya, one of her plans from the ANMM collection

Freya, one of her plans from the ANMM collection

1967: Still Considered Underdogs

In 1967 Caprice was back, but without Gordon Ingate, who had been involved in the 1967 America's Cup challenge. His 1965 sailing master, Gordon Reynolds, was now at the helm, so little, if anything, was lost.

Balandra was a copy of top UK yacht Quiver IV from 1965 and superbly prepared, while Mercedes III was the dominate yacht in the Australian trials, and about to show the world the talent of Bob Miller, thanks to the support of Ted Kaufmann. The enthusiasm of the new members was combined with the experience of returning 1965 sailors, and they prepared as a team.

Recognising that a key to success was understanding the difficult tides and currents of the Solent and the Channel, all three Australian navigators worked together for months in the lead-up. They spent time at Southampton University studying a working model of the Solent to become familiar with what to expect.

The yachts were better prepared, too. Any weakness upwind that had been felt in 1965 was covered by the abilities of the yachts chosen. They were ideal for the range of prevailing conditions, crewed and rigged to the equal of any of the other craft.

Despite this, a hint of complacency in the UK was already showing soon after the 1965 event.  Yachting magazine in October 1965 noted that "since some of the best Aussie sailors will be striving for the America's Cup in 1967 it is problematical whether the CYC of Australia will challenge for the Admirals Cup". In hindsight that showed a misjudgement as to how well resourced Australia was in being able to put together both challenges in the same year. The local talent spread across the two events was impressive.

The 1967 Admiral's Cup series: What's to Come in Part Two

The racing of the 1967 Admiral's Cup series provided a fine spectacle. There was tight, boat-to-boat competition in light winds, strong winds, tides, damage and controversy, all of which the Australians mastered, and gave a lesson in sailing to the other teams. We will look at that and the boats in a second instalment.

Fifty years later the extent of this overwhelming win has never been repeated. Australia managed two more victories, and many high places in subsequent years until the competition was unfortunately abandoned. The Cup has not been contested since 2003, but in that series an Australian team were the last winners, so 50 years on from 1967 we once again hold the trophy!



Original Page: https://anmm.wordpress.com/2017/07/12/1967-when-australia-first-won-the-admirals-cup-part-1-of-2/



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Damaged Destroyer USS Fitzgerald Moves to Dry Dock in Japan -PHOTOS

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The Arleigh Burke-class guided-missile destroyer USS Fitzgerald (DDG 62) sits in Dry Dock 4 at Fleet Activities (FLEACT) Yokosuka to continue repairs and assess damage sustained from its June 17 collision with a merchant vessel. U.S. Navy Photo

The USS Fitzgerald has entered dry dock at a United States Navy base in Yokosuka, Japan to continue repairs and assess damage following its June 17 collision with a merchant vessel off the coast of Japan.

The Arleigh Burke-class guided-missile destroyer USS Fitzgerald (DDG 62) entered dry dock July 11 at the Fleet Activities (FLEACT) Yokosuka base. 

"We used two of our yard tugboats and four pusher boats to move Fitzgerald from Berth 12 to the dry dock," said FLEACT Yokosuka's Harbor Movements Officer, Chief Warrant Officer Galo Moreira.

"It usually takes three boats to "push" a DDG into dry dock," said Moreira. "Today we used the additional boat as an extra safety boat to make sure we didn't cause more damage to the Fitz."

U.S. Navy Photo

Once the ship was delivered Dry Dock #4, it was the responsibility of Yokosuka's Ship Repair Facility-Joint Region Maintenance Center (SRF-JRMC) professionals to get the ship lined up correctly in the dry dock and start pumping out the water from the dock.

"Usually we can dock a ship in about seven hours," said Lt. David Reinhardt, SRF-JRMC's Docking Officer who oversaw the process. "Once the dock is dry, myself and the dockmaster and shop workers will go down and make sure that there is no abnormalities that we didn't expect. The ship's force will also do an inspection of the hull to make sure there is nothing there that we wouldn't expect to see."

Out of water for the first time since  the accident, the extent of the damage below the waterline became evident. USNI News obtained photos showing the steel plates that divers had welded to Fitzgerald's hull to patch the hole: 

U.S. Navy photo by Daniel A. Taylor/Released by FLEACT Yokosuka Public Affairs Office)
U.S. Navy photo by Daniel A. Taylor/Released by FLEACT Yokosuka Public Affairs Office

Seven U.S. Navy Sailors were killed when the USS Fitzgerald collided with the ACX Crystal in the early morning hours of June 17, causing extensive damage to the ship, flooding compartments where the Sailors slept.

The accident is subject to multiple investigations. 

Fitzgerald has been forward deployed to Yokosuka since September 2004 as part of U.S. 7th Fleet.

Navy officials are still assessing if repairs will be done in Japan or if the destroyer will be brought back to the U.S. for repairs.  



Original Page: http://feedproxy.google.com/~r/Gcaptain/~3/ZOwnQJS9m0A/



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GAO-17-692T, Gulf War Illness: Additional Actions Needed to Improve VA's Claims Process, July 13, 2017

What GAO Found

The Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) completed processing about 11,400 Gulf War Illness (GWI) claims in fiscal year 2015, which was more than double the 4,800 claims processed in fiscal year 2010. GWI is a collective term for certain medical conditions among veterans who have served in the Gulf War region since 1990. Symptoms of GWI can include fatigue, headaches, joint pain, indigestion, insomnia, respiratory disorders, skin problems, and memory impairment, among others. On average, GWI claims have twice as many medical issues per claim as other disability claims, and take 4 months longer to complete. During fiscal years 2010 through 2015, approval rates for GWI claims were about three times lower than for all other claimed disabilities. Several factors may contribute to lower approval rates, including that--according to VA--GWI claims are not always well understood by VA staff and veterans sometimes file for benefits without sufficient evidence to support their claim.

VA's ability to accurately process GWI claims is hampered by inadequate training, and its decision letters for denied claims do not always communicate key information to veterans. VA claims rating staff often rely on VA medical examiners to assess a veteran's disability before a decision can be made on a claim. VA medical examiners told GAO that conducting Gulf War general medical exams is challenging because of the range of symptoms that could qualify as GWI. VA has offered an elective GWI training for its medical examiners since June 2015, but only 10 percent of examiners had taken the training as of February 2017. Federal internal control standards call for adequate training for staff so they can correctly carry out an agency's procedures. Medical examiners who do not take this GWI-specific training may not be able to provide information to VA staff to correctly decide whether to grant a veteran's claim. Once a determination is made, VA regulations also require a clear statement to veterans regarding claim decisions. GAO found that decision letters for GWI claims do not always include key information on why the claim was denied.

VA considers research when adding to the list of conditions it associates with Gulf War service, but it does not have a plan to develop a uniformly used case definition of GWI. In 2010, VA added nine infectious diseases to the list of GWI-related conditions. VA advisory groups noted, however, that researchers face obstacles in conducting GWI research, including the lack of a single case definition of the illness for research and treatment purposes. In its 2015 GWI Research Strategic Plan, VA included an objective to develop a single case definition, but an official told GAO that VA had no action plan in place to achieve it. Without a plan to achieve a single case definition, research on and treatment for GWI may continue to progress slowly.

Why GAO Did This Study

VA estimates that 44 percent of veterans who served in the Persian Gulf War in 1990-91 have medical issues commonly referred to as Gulf War Illness, and that those who have been deployed to the Gulf War region since then may suffer from similar medical issues. These medical issues may entitle a veteran to VA benefits. Recently, questions have been raised about whether VA is processing Gulf War Illness claims correctly. GAO was asked to review VA's handling of these claims.

GAO issued a report in June 2017, entitled Gulf War Illness: Improvements Needed for VA to Better Understand, Process, and Communicate Decisions on Claims (GAO-17-511). This testimony summarizes the findings and recommendations from that report, including (1) recent trends in Gulf War Illness disability claims, (2) challenges associated with accurately processing and clearly communicating decisions on Gulf War Illness claims, and (3) how VA uses Gulf War Illness research to inform the disability compensation program.

What GAO Recommends

In its June 2017 report, GAO recommended that VA make its Gulf War Illness training mandatory for its medical examiners, clarify language in its decision letters to veterans whose Gulf War Illness claims are denied, and develop a plan to establish a single case definition of Gulf War Illness. VA concurred with all three recommendations.

For more information, contact Melissa Emrey-Arras at 617-788-0534 or emreyarrasm@gao.gov.



Original Page: http://www.gao.gov/products/GAO-17-692T?source=ra



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GAO-17-722T, VA Health Care: Improvements Needed in Data and Monitoring of Clinical Productivity and Efficiency, July 13, 2017

Improvements Needed in Data and Monitoring of Clinical Productivity and Efficiency

GAO-17-722T: Published: Jul 13, 2017. Publicly Released: Jul 13, 2017.

To help manage and optimize its resources, the Department of Veterans Affairs collects data on the productivity and efficiency of its health care providers and medical centers.

However, we testified that the data VA collects do not account for all providers or clinical services, and may not accurately reflect clinical workload or staffing levels. We also found that VA lacks a robust process to oversee medical centers' efforts to identify drivers of low productivity and efficiency and implement solutions.

Photo of VA Headquarters Building

Photo of VA Headquarters Building

Find Recent Work on Veterans  »



Original Page: http://www.gao.gov/products/GAO-17-722T?source=ra



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GAO-17-418, Navy Shipbuilding: Policy Changes Needed to Improve the Post-Delivery Process and Ship Quality, July 13, 2017

What GAO Found

GAO reviewed six ships valued at $6.3 billion that had completed the post-delivery period, and found they were provided to the fleet with varying degrees of incomplete work and quality problems. GAO used three quality assurance metrics, identified by Navy program offices, to evaluate the completeness of the six ships—LPD 25, LHA 6, DDG 112, Littoral Combat Ships (LCS) 3 and 4, and SSN 782—at delivery and also at the time each ship was provided to the fleet. Although the Navy resolved many of the defects by the end of the post-delivery period, as the table below shows, quality problems persisted and work was incomplete when the selected ships were turned over to the operational fleet.

Number of Quality Problems or Defects at the Beginning and End of the Post-Delivery Period across Six Selected Ships

 

At delivery

At the time the Navy provided the ship to the fleet

Significant construction deficiencies

363

45

Systems not meeting minimal functional standard

139

54

Significant deficiencies in mission-essential equipment

N/Aa

53

Source: GAO analysis of Navy documents and data. | GAO-17-418

aThis information is not evaluated at delivery

Fleet officials reported varying levels of concern with the overall quality and completeness of the ships, such as with unreliable equipment or a need for more intense maintenance than expected. For CVN 78 and DDG 1000, the Navy plans to complete significantly more work and testing during the post-delivery period than the other six ships GAO reviewed. As such, these ships are at a greater risk of being provided to the fleet at the end of their post-delivery periods with incomplete construction work and unknowns about quality.

The Navy's ship delivery policy does not facilitate a process that provides complete and quality ships to the fleet and practices do not comport with policy. The policy emphasizes that ships should be defect-free and mission-capable, but lacks clarity regarding what defects should be corrected and by when. Without a clear policy, Navy program offices define their own standards of quality and completeness, which are not always consistent. Further, because the Navy's Board of Inspection and Survey (INSURV) does not inspect ships at the end of the post-delivery period, it is not in a position to verify each ship's readiness for the fleet, as required by Navy policy. The Navy has not assessed the costs and benefits of ensuring INSURV does this. Addressing these policy concerns would improve the likelihood of identifying and correcting deficiencies before fleet introduction and increase consistency in how the Navy defines quality.

The Navy does not use consistent definitions for key milestones in its reports to Congress—such as delivery or Initial Operational Capability (IOC)—and, therefore, these milestones are not as informative as they could be regarding ship quality and completeness. For example, the Navy has routinely declared IOC on new ship classes without having demonstrated that ships are able to perform mission operations—contrary to Department of Defense (DOD) guidance, which, for nearly all acquisition models, generally states that IOC should be declared only after successful operational testing that demonstrates performance.

Why GAO Did This Study

The U.S. Navy spends at least $18 billion per year on shipbuilding—a portion of which is spent after ships are delivered. During the post-delivery period—after delivery from the shipbuilder and before the ships enter the fleet—Navy ships undergo a variety of tests, trials, and construction.

GAO was asked to assess the post-delivery period, including quality and completeness of ships when they are delivered to the fleet. The Senate Report on the National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2017 included additional questions about ship status after delivery. This report assesses the extent to which the Navy (1) provides complete and quality ships to the fleet, (2) has a ship delivery policy that supports those efforts, and (3) reports ship quality and completeness to Congress. GAO reviewed a nongeneralizable sample of eight Navy ships, six of which have entered the fleet and two that recently began the post-delivery period. GAO reviewed program documentation and interviewed Navy officials.

What GAO Recommends

The Navy should revise its ship delivery policy to identify what kinds of defects should be corrected and by when and study how to best ensure that INSURV verifies ships. Also, the Navy should reflect in its reports to Congress key milestones and consistent definitions in line with DOD policy. DOD did not concur with two recommendations, partially concurred with a third, and fully agreed with a fourth. GAO stands by its recommendations, which will help ensure that complete and quality ships are provided to the fleet and that Congress is provided with meaningful information on ship status.

For more information, contact Michele Mackin at (202) 512-4841 or mackinm@gao.gov.



Original Page: http://www.gao.gov/products/GAO-17-418?source=ra



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Tuesday, July 11, 2017

From Dugouts to the Trenches: Baseball During the Great War Reviewed by Peter L. Belmonte


From Dugouts to the Trenches: Baseball During the Great War

by Jim Leeke

University of Nebraska Press, 2017


Picture the current New York Yankees coming out in uniform onto the field prior to a game against, say, the Boston Red Sox. Instead of running sprints or stretching, the players line up and are put through a military drill by an Army sergeant, using bats instead of rifles. Although such a scenario seems ludicrous today, it is precisely what happened in the spring of 1917 on the eve of America's entry into the war. This is just one of the many interesting episodes revealed by Jim Leeke in his new book on the state of professional baseball during the war years,in From Dugouts to the Trenches, his third book on the topic. The story is told from the point of view of team owners, league executives, sportswriters, government officials, and, of course, players.
Boston Braves Catcher Hank Gowdy on the Dugout Steps with Giants Manager John McGraw

Gowdy Was the First Active Major Leaguer to Enlist in WWI


Yankees' co-owner Capt. T. L. Huston dreamed up the baseball military preparedness drill idea. Not all major league teams went along with the idea, although many American League teams joined in the scheme. The season started soon after the US declared war; the country and professional baseball were plunged into war, prepared or not. Leeke covers the immediate concerns over the draft and how this would affect baseball. Team owners and league officials seemed divided over the prospects for the 1917 season, and Leeke outlines their concerns. In fact, much of the book is a recitation of baseball's woes during the war years. Leeke covers the various disagreements between and among owners, league officials, and government functionaries. Pleasant episodes, such as the military service of ballplayers and the various charitable wartime enterprises supported by organized baseball, are also recounted, giving a full picture of baseball "at war." Of great interest is Leeke's coverage of the wartime minor leagues, of which there were five: Classes AA, A, B, C, and D. According to Leeke: "Minor league baseball was no enterprise for the fainthearted. In the best of times, the leagues were hardscrabble, chaotic, and a good way to lose your shirt—and perhaps your hat and overcoat in the bargain" (p. 21). One by one, the various teams and leagues folded throughout the year, hampered by poor attendance and a drain of serviceable talent. Some professional ballplayers left their teams in order to obtain work at various shipyards, steel mills, and ordnance plants. Men working these jobs were, of course, exempt from the draft; as an added bonus, the places of employment began to field pretty decent baseball teams with the talent obtained from the professional players. Although this was strictly legal, it opened the players up to accusations of "slackerism." Leeke also covers the men who were drafted or joined the colors voluntarily. Many of them, as would be expected, played for Army or Navy service teams. Indeed, one Navy team, the Wild Waves, played "a class of baseball that the weakened Major Leagues were hard-pressed to match" (p. 122). Many men served in combat, while others served stateside or in support units. The big blow to baseball in May 1918 was Provost Marshal General Enoch Crowder's edict that men must be engaged in some "useful" occupation or else face the draft, regardless of their draft number or exemption classification. This was dubbed the "work or fight" edict, and it was aimed at men who worked as poolroom or sales clerks, attendants, footmen, fortune tellers, elevator operators, and the like. Organized baseball waited to see whether the declaration applied to professional ballplayers. The final decision, promulgated by Secretary of War Newton Baker in July 1918, put ballplayers in the work or fight category. Leeke recounts the story of the resultant truncated and confused 1918 baseball season. A shortened season and rushed World Series were only some of the results of the turmoil. In briefly summing up the military careers of some of the ballplayers, Leeke reminds us that they, too, were subject to the life-changing hardships of the service. Some men, such as Christy Mathewson and Grover Cleveland Alexander, never regained their prewar skills. Indeed, Mathewson's life was probably shortened by the rigors he experienced; he was accidentally gassed in a drill and died in 1925.
Baseball During the Influenza Pandemic of 1918
Leeke, a former journalist and baseball writer, has peppered the text liberally with quotations from contemporary newspapers. These effectively add to the narrative and reflect the flavor of the times. Thirty-two black-and-white photographs of the men in the narrative enhance the text, and the endnotes and bibliography are extensive and helpful.

From Dugouts to the Trenches is a wonderful complement to Leeke's previous two books on baseball and World War I. It will be a fine addition to the library of baseball enthusiasts and students of the American experience in the Great War.

Peter L. Belmonte



Original Page: http://roadstothegreatwar-ww1.blogspot.com/2017/07/from-dugouts-to-trenches-baseball.html



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The Best World War I TV Dramatization — Ever!

First Shown on the BBC in 1974
By Diane Rooney

This absorbing 13-episode series captures the broad sweep of changes in three empires, Russian, Austro-Hungarian, and German, from the Revolution of 1848 to the abdication of Kaiser Wilhelm in November 1918. Its dramatic effectiveness, though, lies not in large scale battlefield scenes but in its character development, revealed in the dialogue, actions, and habits of the many principals. The decline and fall of these empires is revealed in nuanced detail, as viewers experience the increasing remoteness and disconnection of rulers from their people and their total inability to see, let alone embrace, change. They fossilize before our very eyes.


Episodes 10 to 13 deal specifically with World War I, each from a different perspective. "Indian Summer of An Emperor" (10) focuses on Franz Joseph, his relationship with Franz Ferdinand, and the assassinations in Sarajevo. "Tell the King the Sky Is Falling" (11) covers mobilization and the outbreak of war, with an emphasis on Russia. "The Secret War"(12) dramatizes Lenin's life in Switzerland and the machinations involved in bringing him back to Russia via private train through Germany. The last episode, "End Game" (13), looks at Germany in the last months of the war, up to Kaiser Wilhelm's abdication and arrival in Holland.


Although the series is nearly 40 years old it has held up extremely well because of the wonderful script, emphasis on character development and interaction, and amazing performances. My five favorites among the huge cast are Barry Foster as Kaiser Wilhelm, Curt Jurgens as Bismarck, Gemma Jones as Princess Vicky, Charles Kay as Tsar Nicholas, and Patrick Stewart as Lenin.




Original Page: http://roadstothegreatwar-ww1.blogspot.com/2017/07/the-best-world-war-i-tv-dramatization.html



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The Ultimate Solution to Trench Warfare

One result of America's declaration of war in April 1917 was the unleashing of the nation's creativity, or Yankee Ingenuity if you will. Here is a proposal from Hugo Gernsbacher, a Luxembourgeois-American inventor, writer, and editor of the journal, Electrical Experimenter.

Click on Image to Enlarge 

The journalists who wrote the accompanying article were both awestruck:

"Extraordinary as this proposition of running ships over the land is the strength of a man's latent desire to kill man is over-stepping, even now, all bounds of the imagination;" and skeptical:

"At once, of course, several objections to Dr. Gernsback's [sic] plan present them selves. First, there is the tremendous weight of the battleship from 10.000 to 30,000 tons. It is difficult to conceive how any wheels could be constructed which would prevent this mighty mass from crushing down into the earth and becoming as immovable as a fort. 

"There is, second, the fact that a ship is built for stresses in the water, and not for the gravitational pull on land.

"And there is, third, the fact that the battleships are armored only down to a certain part of the hull, and that the unarmored part would be vulnerable as a land boat. These objections Doctor Oernsback answers in his article in the Electrical Experimenter, but whether convincingly or not the reader must decide."


Sources and Credits: Richmond Time-Dispatch, 17 June 1917; found at the Library of Congress by Donna G.


Original Page: http://roadstothegreatwar-ww1.blogspot.com/2017/07/the-ultimate-solution-to-trench-warfare.html



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World War II Book Resources on Fold3

Photo courtesy of Center of Military History

I was thinking about what to write for this month's article and chose to look for D-Day resources on Ancestry and Fold3. I started with Fold3 with the idea there would be some reports that mention D-Day, and I found some in the WWII War Diaries, a collection with a large number of Naval reports. These reports come in typed format as they were created during the war.

Imagine my surprise to search for D-Day and find a First Army Report of Operations under the WWII War Diaries. Then imagine me more surprised to open the search result to see not a typed report from World War II, but a digitized book (minus the exterior cover of the book).

The document is called, Rep of ops in the invasion of Normandy, France, 10/20/43 – 8/1/44. When you view the report, notice the first page of the report is the interior of the book cover, showing a map. Then we have a title page, a page with the name of the report, the classification, and a table of contents. Technically, this is a book written from many different reports concerning the invasion of Normandy for the First Army.

It is important to read page 9, the introduction, to fully understand what this book was designed to do. It is also important to understand this book was written after the invasion of Normandy, using reports from various division and military branches, to compile this operations summary.

What makes this book different from operational reports written during the war? This book gives a different view of what took place with the Normandy invasion. It offered its writers an opportunity to look at what planners wanted to happen, what actually happened, and what could have been done differently (tactical lessons learned). The book also includes situation maps and photographs, which add a lot of historical context to a First Army soldier's story and experience in the invasion.

Unfortunately, the book does not list the full reports with dates, where all of this information was obtained. Genealogists love sources and if this book would have had sources, researchers could track down each one that might help tell the story of their soldier. The books such as this, written after an invasion or after the war, are typically laid out like this one. Specific report sources are not usually listed. These books contain a summary and historical context of an invasion or battle.

Where can you find additional information? Remember, World War II research is a combination of online and offline research. I suggest searching Fold3 for different keywords related to what you seeking. You can also consult the finding aids at the National Archives in College Park, Maryland, for unit records. Fold3 has digitized a lot of Naval and Marine Corps records, but they have not digitized much of the Army or Army Air Forces unit level records. I use the unit records daily in my work and they contain a lot of important details, maps, and photographs. These all add so much to a soldier's story. Recently I discovered in a 30th Infantry Division unit history, which showed the exact roads the Division took when it left Omaha Beach after landing in France in June 1944. The paragraph was so well written you could follow the route today.

Remember to check all available sources to create the best history and story for your soldier. Then consider sharing it on your Ancestry family tree.

What surprising finds have you discovered searching Fold3 military records?



Original Page: https://blogs.ancestry.com/ancestry/2017/06/06/world-war-ii-book-resources-on-fold3/



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How Did Your Ancestors Shape Our Nation’s History?

As we celebrate the founding of this great nation, many will wonder, "What role did my ancestors play in establishing the freedoms we enjoy today?" You may be surprised by what you discover. As a nation, we honor the founding fathers, who risked their lives and liberty to declare our independence, but many others contributed to bringing about the success of the Revolution. We pay tribute to all who fought and gave support to establish the United States of America.

Society of the Descendants of the Signers of the Declaration of Independence

Of the numerous patriotic societies in America, membership in the Society of the Descendants of the Signers of the Declaration of Independence stands as one of the most distinguished and honored.

The Declaration of Independence is considered one of the three greatest documents in the English-speaking world. The other two include the Magna Carta and the Bill of Rights. Fifty-six men signed their name to this inspired document, demonstrating one of the greatest acts of patriotism ever known to humanity. Their bravery and courage was the foundation for the freedoms we enjoy as citizens of this great nation.

Membership requirements for the Society of the Descendants of the Signers of the Declaration of Independence:

Membership is available to proven descendants of those men who signed the Declaration of Independence. What is the difference between related and descended? If you are a grandchild, great-grandchild, etc. you are a descendant. If the Signer is a cousin, great uncle, etc., you are related to the Signer. While it is impressive to say you are related to a Signer, you must be a descendant to qualify for membership in this Society.

Out of the 56 signers, 43 of them had descendants.

National Society Daughters of the American Revolution (NSDAR) or (DAR)

Founded in 1890, this society was created to "perpetuate the memory and spirit of the women and men who achieved American Independence." This is a charitable organization dedicated to historic preservation, education and patriotism.

NSDAR includes 180,000 members, known as "Daughters," with 3,000 chapters in all 50 states and Washington, D.C, as well as international chapters. Membership is available to any woman 18 years or older-regardless of race, religion, or ethnic background-who can prove lineal descent from a patriot of the American Revolution.

The NSDAR defines a "patriot" as one who provided service or direct assistance in achieving America's independence, such as signers of the Declaration of Independence, military service, civil service, or patriotic service.

National Society Sons of the American Revolution (NSSAR) or (SAR)

This society was founded in 1889 with the goal to "perpetuate the memory of those who, by their services or sacrifices during the war of the American Revolution, achieved the independence of the American People."

SAR is a patriotic, historical, and educational society, that boasts a membership over 34,000. Members are known as "Compatriots" in 50 societies with more than 500 local chapters, several international societies.

Membership in the NSSAR:

Membership is open, but not limited to, men of lineal descent from the patriots who wintered at Valley Forge, signed the Declaration of Independence, fought in the battles of the American Revolution, served in the Continental Congress, or otherwise supported the cause of American Independence. You can search Ancestry's U.S., Sons of the American Revolution Membership Applications, 1889-1970 database to learn if your ancestor is already an approved patriot.

It is our privilege to honor those who built this great nation. With reverence, we remember their courage and sacrifice and seek to continue the quest for freedom for all.

If you think one or your ancestors was a Revolutionary War patriot, or a signer of the Declaration of Independence AncestryProGenealogists would love to help you gather the necessary documentation for membership. Visit our website ProGenealogists.com for more information on this and other research services available.



Original Page: https://blogs.ancestry.com/ancestry/2017/07/06/how-did-your-ancestors-shape-our-nations-history/



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GAO-17-511, Gulf War Illness: Improvements Needed for VA to Better Understand, Process, and Communicate Decisions on Claims, June 29, 2017

What GAO Found

The Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) completed processing about 11,400 Gulf War Illness (GWI) claims in fiscal year 2015, which was more than double the 4,800 claims processed in fiscal year 2010. GWI is a collective term for certain medical conditions among veterans who have served in Southwest Asia since 1990. Symptoms of GWI can include joint pain, gastrointestinal problems, fatigue, and neurological problems. On average, GWI claims have twice as many medical issues per claim as other disability claims, and take 4 months longer to complete. During fiscal years 2010 through 2015, the most recent data available at the time of our review, approval rates for GWI claims were about three times lower than for all other claimed disabilities. Several factors may contribute to lower approval rates, including that—according to VA—GWI claims are not always well understood by VA staff and veterans sometimes file for benefits without medical records to adequately support their claim.

VA's ability to accurately process GWI claims is hampered by inadequate training, and its decision letters for denied claims do not communicate key information to veterans. VA claims rating staff often rely on VA medical examiners to assess a veteran's disability before a decision can be made on a claim. VA medical examiners told GAO that conducting Gulf War general medical exams is challenging because of the range of symptoms that could qualify as GWI. VA has developed elective GWI training for its medical examiners, but only 10 percent of examiners had taken the training as of February 2017. Federal internal control standards call for adequate training for staff so they can correctly carry out an agency's procedures. Medical examiners who do not take this GWI-specific training may not be able to provide information to VA staff to correctly decide whether to grant a veteran's claim. Once a determination is made, VA regulations also require clear explanations to veterans regarding claim decisions. GAO found that decision letters for GWI claims do not always include key information on why the claim was denied.

VA considers research when adding to the list of conditions it associates with Gulf War service, but it does not have a plan to develop a uniformly used case definition of GWI. In 2010, VA added nine infectious diseases to the list of GWI-related conditions. VA advisory groups noted, however, that researchers face obstacles in conducting GWI research, including the lack of a single case definition of the illness for research and treatment purposes. In its 2015 Gulf War Research Strategic Plan, VA included an objective to develop a single case definition, but an official told GAO that VA had no action plan in place to achieve it. Without a plan to achieve a single case definition, research on and treatment for GWI may continue to progress slowly.

Why GAO Did This Study

VA estimates that 44 percent of veterans who served in the Persian Gulf War in 1990-91 have medical issues commonly referred to as Gulf War Illness and that those who have been deployed to Southwest Asia since then may suffer from similar medical issues. These medical issues may entitle a veteran to VA benefits. Recently, questions have been raised about whether VA is processing GWI claims correctly. GAO was asked to review VA's handling of these claims.

This report examines (1) recent trends in GWI disability claims, (2) challenges associated with accurately processing and clearly communicating decisions on GWI claims, and (3) how VA uses GWI research to inform the disability compensation program. GAO reviewed relevant federal laws, regulations, and guidance; analyzed VA data on GWI-related claim decisions from fiscal years 2010–2015 (the most recent data available); visited 4 of 58 regional offices, choosing those with high GWI caseloads; and interviewed headquarters and regional VA staff and key stakeholders. GAO also reviewed a non-generalizable sample of 44 claim files to provide illustrative examples of how VA evaluated and communicated decisions on GWI claims.

What GAO Recommends

GAO recommends that VA require GWI training for medical examiners, improve its decision letters, and develop a plan to establish a single GWI case definition. VA agreed with GAO's recommendations.

For more information, contact Melissa Emrey-Arras at (617) 788-0534 or emreyarrasm@gao.gov.



Original Page: http://www.gao.gov/products/GAO-17-511?source=ra



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Monday, July 10, 2017

GAO-17-522R, Chemical and Biological Defense: DOD Has Identified an Infrastructure Manager and Is Developing the Position's Roles and Responsibilities, July 07, 2017

What GAO Found The Department of Defense (DOD) has identified an Infrastructure Manager for the Chemical and Biological Defense Program (CBDP). DOD also has developed and is implementing a three-phased process led by a working-level integrated product team--scheduled to take place over a 3-year period, ending in 2018--to identify and define the roles and responsibilities for the CBDP Infrastructure Manager. While not complete, the roles and responsibilities defined thus far for the Infrastructure Manager include providing overall coordination, integration, and oversight function for CBDP infrastructure. However, it is too early to evaluate the effectiveness of DOD's efforts to develop and implement the roles and responsibilities of the Infrastructure Manager since DOD's efforts are still in process. The following is a summary of the three phases: Phase one: Clarifying the Infrastructure Manager's roles and responsibilities regarding the management of physical infrastructure--laboratories, testing and support facilities, and specialized equipment in those facilities.  Phase two: Implementing the decisions made in phase one; clarifying the Infrastructure Manager's roles and responsibilities regarding physical and intellectual infrastructure--knowledge and skills of personnel--in relationship with other federal agencies' respective roles and responsibilities; and developing an infrastructure strategic investment plan.  Phase three: Clarifying the Infrastructure Manager's roles and responsibilities regarding CBDP intellectual infrastructure specifically its availability to the CBDP. In phase one, which was completed in October 2016, DOD added clarification about the roles and responsibilities regarding the management of physical infrastructure into draft DOD Directive 5160.05E, Roles and Responsibilities Associated with the Chemical and Biological Defense Program (CBDP), which is still undergoing legal review as of May 2017. DOD also developed a draft plan entitled Chemical and Biological Defense Program Infrastructure Management Functions and Responsibilities, which is infrastructure management guidance designed to, among other things, facilitate a holistic process to manage infrastructure that supports CBDP. Phase two currently is underway and scheduled for completion by the end of calendar year 2017, according to CBDP officials. Phase two efforts, according to CBDP officials, include a core competencies review, an infrastructure composition and disposition study, Biosafety Taskforce study, and other activities. CBDP officials said that phase two will also include the development of a CBDP Infrastructure Strategic Investment Plan, which is designed to guide CBDP infrastructure lifecycle management efforts and inform program investment decisions. Phase three--efforts to clarify the CBDP Infrastructure Manager's roles and responsibilities regarding CBDP intellectual infrastructure--will begin once phase two is completed, according to CBDP officials. CBDP officials said they plan to complete phase three by the end of calendar year 2018. CBDP officials informed us that ensuring the availability of intellectual infrastructure--personnel with relevant knowledge and skills--is a commonly identified issue at the CBDP laboratories. Why GAO Did This Study In House Conference Report 114-270, the House and Senate conferees required DOD to report to the congressional defense committees on the designation of an individual responsible for managing the infrastructure for the CBDP in order to minimize duplication of effort both within DOD and other agencies of the federal government. The House and Senate conferees noted that this was consistent with the findings and recommendations in GAO's June 2015 report on DOD's efforts to manage the department's chemical and biological infrastructure capabilities, and included a provision that GAO review the roles and responsibilities of the official designated to be responsible for infrastructure management. This report describes the status of DOD's efforts to develop the roles and responsibilities of DOD's CBDP Infrastructure Manager. GAO reviewed DOD guidance (e.g., directives and instructions) from organizations under the Office of the Under Secretary of Defense for Acquisition, Technology and Logistics and reviewed drafts of DOD's Chemical and Biological Defense Program Infrastructure Management Functions and Responsibilities and of a revised DOD Directive 5160.05E, Roles and Responsibilities Associated with the Chemical and Biological Defense Program (CBDP). GAO also met with CBDP officials who had participated in the initial development of plans to implement the roles and responsibilities for infrastructure management. What GAO Recommends GAO is not making any recommendations in this report. For more information, contact Joseph Kirschbaum at (202) 512-9971 or kirschbaumj@gao.gov


Original Page: http://www.gao.gov/products/GAO-17-522R?source=ra



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