Monthly Archives: February 2014

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Are Life’s Little Facts Passing Us By?

What has happened to life’s commonly known facts? As many of you know, I am a history buff, but I am finding myself alarmed by how few common facts are known by the American population. Now, I don’t expect people to be as nerdy as I am, knowing historical facts or spending days trying to glean a small detail for my research for the books I have written or am writing. Frankly, I can be a pain in my own backside. However, last week I saw a statistic that caused my jaw to drop. This article claimed that about twenty-five percent (25%) of the US population did not know that the Earth rotates around the Sun.

I think it was Galileo who mathematically confirmed this fact in the 17th Century (in 1615), and the Catholic Church denounced him as a blasphemer. This solar rotation had been speculated for several centuries, but Galileo was actually able to prove it, even though it cost him some ridicule from the Church and might have possibly cost him some time in a cold, damp dungeon. Do these American who don’t know that the Earth rotates around the Sun not get up during the day and look at that big yellow ball in the sky?Silhouette fedora

This is not the first lost fact to startle me. A couple of months ago, a survey came out that purported that just under forty percent (40%) of the US population did not know that the Affordable Health Care Act, often referred to as Obama Care, was law. What percentage of our population does not read the newspaper or listen to or watch the news? Does anybody besides me find this shocking? I mean, good or bad, this law has been discussed in the news for over two years. I am sure by now they should know about this law, considering the TV advertising campaigns. But evidently, they do not!

Lastly, I have seen various comedians send out reporters to interview the man or woman on the street, and most of these people can’t name the Vice President of the United States, Joe Biden. You don’t just have to watch the news to see this man—who by the way has held this office for six years. I mean, come on, even the late-night comedians have fun with this guy, whether he is on their show or they’re talking about some of his statements.

What are people doing that prevents their awareness and knowledge of these simple facts? What are they watching or listening to? Who is to blame for this? Don’t be too fast to blame schoolteachers, (my mother was a schoolteacher, so I have teacher’s backs). While school education may be part of the problem, it is not the root. I don’t blame Facebook or Twitter, either. I would guess someone on Facebook or Twitter would have announced all of these little missing facts of life, at some point, since the media has gained such notoriety as a source of news. It is the individual personal accountability that I am beginning to wonder about.  Are we not curious anymore? Are we just too busy to look up in the sky and notice that the Sun has moved from one position to the other; that there is daylight and darkness during the course of the day? And, while we’re on the subject of lack of knowledge, don’t let me get started on geography!

What do you think? Am I missing something here? What are your suggestions for improving our nation’s lack of awareness of important facts and information?

PRESIDENTIAL EXECUTIVE ORDERS AND INTERNMENT OF UNITED STATES CITIZENS

Yesterday was an important day in history, on February 19, 1942, President Franklin D. Roosevelt issued an Executive Order No. 9066.  This Executive Order came at the insistence of several members of his Joint Chiefs of Staff and his personal advisors, Roosevelt issued this order that required U.S. citizens from Italy, Germany and Japan must register with the Department of Justice and receive a Certificate of Identification for Aliens of Enemy Nationalities. One of the conditions of this Executive Order permitted their arrest, detention and interment.

President Roosevelt had called the Japanese surprise attack on Pearl Harbor a dastardly deed, but as I have written earlier, Roosevelt knew the attack was coming and he also knew that Japan’s ultimate plan was to put ground troops in Hawaii, then attack both the Panama Canal and the west coast of the United States. Roosevelt and his advisers were afraid that the Japanese citizens were more loyal to their homeland than the United States. Some speculated these United States citizens could be either spies or spotters for bombing or the landing of troops.

Within a month, the United States began rounding up Japanese American citizens who lived in western States. This included first generation and second generation Japanese. During Congressional Committee hearings, Department of Justice representatives raised constitutional and ethical objections to the proposal, the elected officials were concerned about how this was perceived by their electorate. So the U.S. Army was assigned the task to carry out the round up those considered a potential threat.

The West Coast was divided into military zones, a total of ten sites, six in western states and one in Arkansas.  The U.S. Army would soon incarcerate almost 70,000 Japanese American citizens. No charges were made against them nor were any grounds made for their potential appeal. An additional 50,000 non-U.S. citizens were also taken into custody. Some of the Japanese Americans challenged these orders but the Supreme Court upheld the U.S. Government and their actions.Silhouette fedora

During the early part of the 20th Century, many Japanese migrated to Hawaii, while others still went to the west coast of the United States (predominately California) to work as contract labors in the agriculture business. A segment of the Japanese emigrants were opposed to the United States diplomatic positions on Japan’s aggressive Asian War. Many resented United States laws and policies that prevented or inhibited the Japanese from competing on equal terms with the American farmer. However, most had assimilated and were on the side of the United States. Still many Americans resented the Japanese for a variety of reasons including their agricultural success. Their hard work and techniques soon yielded magnificent results, they controlled less than four percent of California’s fertile farms but their yield exceeded ten percent of California’s farm resources.

I am curious what my readers think of this Presidential Executive Order and incarnating of U. S. citizens without due process.

Writing about Gold in the Philippines

In 1996, I was asked to appraise and discover the history of a gold certificate. This led me into a ten-year research project mostly centered in the Philippines, but also in Southeast Asia. The research became so fascinating I decided to write a book centered on the subject of gold.

During World War II, the Japanese had a recovery team, the Golden Lily, named for Emperor Hirohito’s favorite poem growing up. The Golden Lily group was composed of a team led by Hirohito’s brother Prince Chichibu, and it included Prince Takeda, Prince Mikasa, Colonel Taisho, Major Nakasone, Rear Admiral Yoshio Kodama and Rear Admiral Ryoichi Sasakawa.

The Golden Lily’s recovery began in China, first taking gold from Manchuria, then NanJing. As the Japanese continued to conquer territories throughout Asia, they removed that country’s gold, taking it to Nagano Bullion Bunker at the Emperor’s palace. Later in World War II, as the United States Navy began to rule the seas of the Pacific, the Japanese changed their tactics and started taking the gold to the Philippines. At the beginning of World War II, the Philippines was a United States territory and was one of the first territories conquered by the Japanese. Hirohito and the Japanese military staff believed that, even if they lost the War to the United States, they could negotiate to keep the territory of the Philippines. However, when Germany surrendered before them in 1945, their plans fell apart. By the time Japan surrendered in September 1945, they had buried extensive amounts of gold throughout the Philippines. The Japanese didn’t just bury the gold; they buried the soldiers and slaves (POWs) who assisted with the burial. Additionally, they booby-trapped the burial sites. The Golden Lily team prepared encrypted maps to document how to recover the gold. Only two sets of maps were made, so that, in theory, only the Japanese could recover that gold.

Japan was forced to unconditionally surrender, thus no Philippines. Almost immediately, the Japanese began to locate and recover gold in the Philippines. Yoshio was the first of the Japanese to return to the Philippines to recover gold. Two years after World War II, President Truman started the CIA, but the United States was experiencing a poor post-war economy, so their budget was very small and incapable of competing with the British MI-6 and the Soviet spy network. The CIA need funds to operate, so they turned to Captain Edward Lansdale, who had run a underground network in the Philippines toward the end of World War II, to use his organization to recover gold in the Philippines. Lansdale turned his recovery operation over to Santa Romana, also known as Father Jose Antonio Diaz, who was in the Philippines at the beginning of World War II as a Catholic priest. Very little information is available on Santa Romana, one of the most critical men in the funding of the CIA. Most people have never heard of this very important individual in the fight against communism, as he operated as far into the background as he possibly could.

Fast forward to the late 1960’s, when President Ferdinand Marcos was elected. Marcos served in the military during World War II, and when the War was over, he got into politics and made connections with many influential diplomats. These connections led Marcos to gold recovery operations never seen in the history of the world. By the mid-1970’s, Ferdinand Marcos was by far the richest man in the world, and his security team was led by the evil Colonel Fabian Ver, who prevented anybody else from recovering gold in the country.Silhouette fedora

This and more was what I uncovered during my ten-year research of the gold certificate. So I wrote a 1000-page history book about Southeast Asia including my findings. My editors were reviewing the history book; they believe the part about Marcos and the gold made a good work of fiction. Thus, I created several fictional characters, dropped them into the Philippines and the history regarding the recovery of gold in the Philippines and called it The President’s Gold. I had so much fun writing that novel that I went back and wrote the prequel to it, Gold of the Spirits, for which I am currently seeking agent representation. I also have planned a sequel to The President’s Gold, picking up where The President’s Gold left off.

 

HORRIBLE CONDITIONS AT SOCHI

At the start of the Winter Olympics we have begun to get horror stories about the conditions at SOCHI. I love the Olympics, Winter or Summer. Our athletes who participate in these events have worked a minimum of eight years, dedicating their lives to a single objective—win a gold medal. It is the goal of every single American athlete to win a gold medal.

To begin to understand these horrendous winter conditions at Sochi, first we must understand were the Winter Olympics take place this year. Sochi is just east of the Black Sea, on the eastern side of this sea, just north of the countries of Georgia, Azerbaijan and Turkey. So this ski resort is in the mountainous terrain that rises out of the near-tropical climate along the Black Sea to its snowy elevations. They have had to build a snow-making environment. However, the Russians have had to ship in snow to keep it covered.

First, we heard about the terror threats from the four Black Widow, who had a problem with Russia, due to the death of their family members. These four women were able to sneak past the so-called Ring of Steel, because they went into this region before the ring was constructed. Some countries questioned sending their athletes, and those who went even told their families and fans to stay home.

Now this morning, I heard about toothpaste bombs! Who is going to brush their teeth in that water? I can’t imagine any athlete who spent so much time dedicating their lives to this goal letting this keep them from competing. And as a parent of an athlete, I can’t imagine it keeping me from being there to watch with pride my athlete compete at such a high level, if I could afford to make the trip and take the time off work. If you are afraid, the terrorists win without doing a single thing.Silhouette fedora

The next thing that I am hearing about is the living conditions. Over the past few days, stories have emerged about the terrible living conditions and hotels not completed being built. Those that have been completed don’t have running water, functioning toilets, beds, light bulbs or doorknobs. The pictures we have been shown of the running water looks like glasses of beer. Some of the people have decided they will not be able to shower while they are there—for  two weeks! Nice. Now, think about this: you’re a world-class athlete, and you don’t have water to drink to replenish your body.

I have heard reports that the minute some reporters logged onto the Internet, attempts were made to hack their computers, not to mention that they had to use Russian Internet access, not their own Internet, so they have assumed they were being monitored. One reporter tweeted yesterday morning he had light bulbs that he would trade for doorknobs.

Here is my point: the world, like the United States, wants to make everything fair for everybody. The everybody gets a trophy philosophy has made its way to the Olympics. The IOC awarded the Russians the Olympics to make it fair, likely with some huge bribes paid to the committee. Everybody doesn’t deserve a trophy. What happened to competition, and if you aren’t good enough to make, you must work harder?