Union’s first naval victory of the Civil War

Did you know the first African-American hero of the Civil War was both cook and steward? Now that is a sea story.

His name was William Tillman, and his story has only been recently told. I discovered him by accident when buying at auction what may be his only known photograph. He is known as the “Union’s First Black Hero.”…

The Civil War began in April 1861. Tillman was serving as cook aboard the American schooner S.J. Waring. It was en route to a Confederate port when the ship was captured at sea off the U.S. East Coast on July 7, 1861 by a five man prize crew from the Confederate privateer Jefferson Davis.

Tillman had every reason to fear for his future in Southern hands. At first Tillman was treated well, but it did not take long for him to discover a plan for him to be sold into slavery. He would have none of it. Tillman used a hatchet to kill three of the five confederates, threw their bodies into the sea, and recaptured the vessel.

Tillman sailed the S.J. Waring successfully back north, arriving first to Sandy Hook, New Jersey and then New York. First placed in custody as a witness, Tillman soon became an instant celebrity and, to many, a hero…

Article originally written by Rear Admiral Daniel W. McKinnon, Jr.

Chemical Weapon the United States dropped on the people of VietNam maims and kills, decades later


NY Times

A French court will…hear a case against more than a dozen multinationals, accused by a French-Vietnamese woman of causing grievous harm to her and others by selling the Agent Orange defoliant to the US government which used it to devastating effect in the Vietnam War.

Tran To Nga, born in 1942 in what was then French Indochina, worked as a journalist and activist in Vietnam in her 20s.

She filed the lawsuit in 2014 against 14 firms that made or sold the highly toxic chemical, including Monsanto, now owned by German giant Bayer, and Dow Chemical…

So far, only military veterans — from the US, Australia and Korea — have won compensation for the after-effects of the chemical whose toxic properties…were “absolutely phenomenal” at around 13 times the toxicity of herbicides in civilian use such as glyphosate.

Four million people in Vietnam, Laos and Cambodia were exposed to Agent Orange, according to NGOs, over a decade when the US military sprayed an estimated 76 million litres (20 million gallons) of the herbicide and defoliant chemical to halt the advances of communist North Vietnamese troops and deprive enemy combatants of food sources.

“Conditions linked to Agent Orange exposure” (Delaware Gazette 2/11/21) https://www.delgazette.com/opinion/columns/88753/conditions-linked-to-agent-orange-exposure Part 3 of a four part series on agent orange see https://muckrack.com/harold-b-wolford/articles
“Agent Orange Wasn’t the Only Deadly Chemical Used In Vietnam : The “Rainbow Herbicides” left a lethal legacy.” https://www.history.com/news/agent-orange-wasnt-the-only-deadly-chemical-used-in-vietnam

If Nazi Germany had done this in World War 2, chemical war on civilian populations would likely be a leading war crime remembered for centuries. When the GOUSA does it…when most of us still study history books written by English-speaking apologists for crimes like this…it takes decades just to find a court that will listen to the complaints of civilians and the survivors of those maimed and murdered by our war criminals.

GOP is a death cult!

It is now long past time to cast off highfalutin’ Latinisms and simply call the Republicans and their religious and secular conservative allies what they are, and in unadorned English: a death cult. As the country reels from the coronavirus pandemic, our national government might just as well be run by the infamous People’s Temple of Jonestown.

By now we are benumbed by the all-pervasive arguments over relaxing workplace shutdowns and stay-at-home orders due to coronavirus. In any sane society, the issue would be how to institute the most efficient measures to defeat the pandemic in the shortest time and with the lowest loss of life. Instead, Trump and his merry band of lunatics have hijacked the national debate into a faux-serious discussion of when, oh, please, how soon, can we “reopen the economy?” Naturally, the media gamely continue to play along with this calculated bit of dezinformatsiya…

There is no longer the slightest doubt in any sane person’s mind that not only are the GOP’s fundamentalist-extremist religious allies a death cult disguised as 501(c)3 tax-exempt charitable organizations. The whole extremely well-funded edifice of “economic conservatism” is equally a death cult, worshiping Mammon so fervently that it is eager to make human sacrifice upon its altar, just like the Mayans and Carthaginians.

Let those of us who do not accept the joining of Mammon and phony bishops like Trump, sit back and watch this medieval beast devour itself, starting from the tail, again and again.

I come and stand at every door…

No unique occasion. On my sunset walk, this afternoon, I was remembering times past, those who are gone. I remembered opening for Dr. King some time back in the 1960’s when I was singing a lot, everywhere. It was a street corner rally in New Haven, Connecticut. We had a wooden platform up on a corner so folks could see and hear. And, as well as I recall, this was one of the last songs I sang before introducing MLK.

Learned it from Pete’s recording.

Battle of the Statues


Statue of Winston Churchill
Frank Augstein/AP

The battle of the statues is now global. Its most recent episode began in Bristol, United Kingdom, where the statue of slave trader Edward Colston was brought down in solidarity with the Black Lives Matter uprising sparked by the police killing of George Floyd in the US. It then quickly spread to the US and the rest of Europe.

In the US, the battle had begun decades earlier over the detested Confederate flag, and is now extended not only to Confederate statues and statues of other racists and white supremacists, but also to military bases named after racist generals of the Confederate army…

In short, it is the entire history of European racism and colonialism with its global consequences that is now on trial. This battle will not stop until this overdue reclaiming and rewriting of world history comes to full fruition.

We rest when and where we can. Then, we resume the fight.

Chrysler Hemi air raid siren

I’ve been recently thinking about the last time Americans seemed to have collectively lost their minds: the Cold War. Pondering this time period led me down a YouTube rabbit hole where I learned that during the chilliest portions of the Cold War, Chrysler V8s were used to power the loudest air raid sirens ever built.

I had no idea these existed! And as a nerd who loves both Detroit automotive and Nuclear Age history, I’m a little disappointed in myself. Let’s fix that…

“…At least one ended up in the Don Garlits Museum of Drag Racing. In 1997, a British documentary team visiting the museum was treated to cranking up a Chrysler Air Raid Siren. After decades of neglect spent soaking in saltwater spray on a roof in Florida and then languishing in a shop, the ’52 Hemi V8 engine not only started right up but started on gasoline, a fuel that it had never run before as one of the engines outfitted to run on propane.

Solid design and craftsmanship still rules.

Trump loves those steroids

…Confusion continued Sunday about the severity of Mr. Trump’s condition, as his physician revealed the president had been given a dose of a powerful steroid that the World Health Organization has recommended for patients who are “critically ill” with COVID-19.

Dr. Sean Conley, the White House physician, said the president had been given dexamethasone, on Saturday, and had experienced two drops in his oxygen levels since the onset of the illness. Dexamethasone has been shown to improve outcomes for patients with severe cases of COVID-19, including those who require supplemental oxygen, but is not recommended for use in patients with milder cases.

“Dexamethasone is a very potent steroid that can have brain effects. There can be a manic behavior associated with dexamethasone, so certainly important that we understand that,” CBS News medical contributor Dr. David Agus said after the briefing.