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Tall Buildings

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At the beginning of September 2001, the World Trade Center had two of the world’s tallest buildings. The North Tower was #5, at 1368 ft, and the South Tower was #6, at 1362 ft.

At the end of September, they were gone, destroyed by an organized, coordinated attack by nineteen al-Qaeda-connected Muslims.

Two planes – American Airlines Flight 11 and United Airlines Flight 175 – both Boeing 767s – were flown into the Towers. A third plane – American Airlines Flight 77, a Boeing 757 – was flown into the Pentagon.

A fourth plane – United Airlines Flight 93, a Boeing 757 – left Newark, New Jersey, and may have been headed for Washington, D.C. Passengers tried to retake the plane, and were probably on the verge of succeeding, when the terrorists crashed it, in a field near Shanksville, Pennsylvania.

The toll that day was about 2,996 people, all but 19 of whom had simply started out for another routine Tuesday in September.

The toll was remarkably light, considering that at full occupancy, the Towers could have held 50,000 people.


It took about 4 years for the North Tower to open (in December 1970), and six for the South Tower (January 1972).

So far, it’s been 10 years since their destruction. A new building, first called “Freedom Tower”, but officially to be called “One World Trade Center”, is scheduled to open early in 2014. That’ll be eight years after the start of construction.

It will be 1776 feet high, making it the tallest building in the country, and the second tallest on Earth.

Other Buildings

America had one of the first tall buildings: The Empire State Building, completed in 1931, at 1250 feet. It took only 13 months to complete. Coincidentally, in 1945, on July 28 (a Saturday), a B-25 Mitchell bomber crashed into the building. There was a pea-soup fog at the time, and the pilot was trying to make an emergency landing at La Guardia Field. Including the pilot, 18 people were killed, and the building re-opened on Monday.

The B-25 Mitchell was the type of plane used in Jimmy Doolittle’s famous 1942 raid on Japan.

They are still flying.

The Empire State Building stood as the tallest building until 1974, when the Sears Tower (now called the Willis Tower) was opened in 1974, three years after start of construction. With 110 stories, it stands 1450 feet tall.

That record stood until 1998, when the Petronas Towers, in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, at 1483 feet, opened.

The next record was set in 2003, with the Taipei 101 (so called because of its 101 stories), at 1667 feet. That one took 6 years to build.

The next record-breaker is likely to hold the title for decades. It’s the Burj Khalifa, in Dubai, U.A.E. 160 stories, 2716 feet to the top.

It was designed by Adrian Smith of Skidmore, Owings, and Merrill. That firm also designed the Sears Tower, the Air Force Academy Chapel, the new One World Trade Center, and the Islamic Cultural Center of New York.


In 1956, Frank Lloyd Wright envisioned a mile-high skyscraper. It would have risen 528 stories above Chicago’s streets. Its top would have been on a level with Denver.

There were certain technical difficulties to overcome, and it was never built.

The material used for towers at the time, steel, is quite flexible. This causes the tower to sway substantially in the wind, causing discomfort for occupants of the higher floors.

Still, Wright did get a skyscraper built: the Price Tower, in Bartlesville, Oklahoma, finished in 1956. It rises 221 feet above the Oklahoma prairie, with 19 stories.

Earlier Tall Buildings

The first tall building was the Great Pyramid of Khufu (or Cheops). It was built some 4500 years ago, and stood 481 feet tall. They were originally intended as a resting place for the Pharaoh after he died, but in fact became great monuments, visible for miles around, sending a message far and wide: “There’s treasure here. Rob me”.

Skipping ahead a few millennia, we come to the Eiffel Tower, built in 1889. It is a staggering 984 feet tall.

Neither of those count in the roster of “Tall Buildings”, because that category only includes office and “multi-purpose” buildings.


Written by freedomactionnow

September 15, 2011 at 4:30 pm

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Gibson Guitar Raids, part 1

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By now it’s old news: Armed Federal agents raided the Gibson Guitar plants in Nashville and Memphis, allegedly looking for “illegal wood”. Maybe they were afraid that Gibson’s guitar-makers would reach for their AK-47s, set up barriers of ironwood and teak, and shoot it out.

The apparent basis for the raids is a hundred-year-old law called the Lacey Act. This is a law written in 1900. The original purpose of the law was to

… prohibit trade in wildlife, fish, and plants that have been illegally taken, possessed, transported or sold.
… by making it a separate offense to take, possess, transport, or sell wildlife that has been taken in violation of those laws.

The Lacey Act is administered by the Departments of the Interior, Commerce, and Agriculture through their respective agencies. These include the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, National Marine Fisheries Service, and Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service.

Note the emphasis on “wildlife”.

The Act has been amended (expanded):

… expanded to include amphibians, reptiles, mollusks, and crustaceans.

In 1981, … Indigenous plants were also added to the protected species.

The amendments also allowed for warrantless arrest for felony violations under the Act and expansion of the role of federal wildlife agents.

In 1988, they expanded it to include “big game hunters” who conducted illegal hunts.

The Lacey Act now stands as one of the broadest and most comprehensive forces in the federal arsenal to combat wildlife crime.

A definitive law article on the Act is titled “The Lacey Act: America’s Premier Weapon in the Fight Against Unlawful Wildlife Trafficking”.

Again: the emphasis is on wildlife.

Continued tomorrow……

Written by freedomactionnow

September 7, 2011 at 5:26 pm

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Obama’s Excellent Foreign Policy

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(The reference to the movie title is intentional.)

Seldom in American history has a President so beautifully executed foreign policy, so brilliantly engaged our friends, and discouraged our enemies.

Consider the latest example:

Charge d’Affaires Richard Hoagland and members of Gays and Lesbians in Foreign Affairs Agencies (GLIFFA) hosted Embassy Islamabad’s first ever gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgender (GLBT) Pride Celebration on June 26,

Over 75 people, including Mission Officers, US military representatives, foreign diplomats and leaders of Pakistani LGBT advocacy groups attended the ceremony.

We were utterly unprepared for Pakistan’s reaction:

Conservative religious groups in Pakistan … described the event as “cultural terrorism” and the second most dangerous attack on the country by the US after the drone and missile strikes that have that have killed civilians in addition to their intended insurgent targets.

How could we have possibly known?

Written by freedomactionnow

July 6, 2011 at 6:45 pm

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Indiana court voids 4th Amendment

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The 4th Amendment reads:

The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated, and no Warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause, supported by Oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized.

Apparently this is inconvenient for the Indiana Supreme Court:

“We believe … a right to resist an unlawful police entry into a home is against public policy and is incompatible with modern Fourth Amendment jurisprudence,” [Indiana Supreme Court Justice] David said. “We also find that allowing resistance unnecessarily escalates the level of violence and therefore the risk of injuries to all parties involved without preventing the arrest.”

The decision doesn’t specifically say the police have a right to enter at will, only that we may not resist. Lawyers may find that a significant distinction, but the effect is that the 4th Amendment is hereby repealed.

Written by freedomactionnow

May 16, 2011 at 2:49 pm

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The Chinese Constitution and Religious Freedom

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The Constitution of the People’s Republic of China is a remarkable document. It guarantees to the Chinese people many rights, among them,

All power in the People’s Republic of China belongs to the people

All nationalities in the People’s Republic of China are equal

All citizens of the People’s Republic of China are equal before the law.

The State respects and preserves human rights

and most interestingly,

Citizens of the People’s Republic of China enjoy freedom of religious belief.
No state organ, public organization or individual may compel citizens to believe in, or not believe in, any religion; nor may they discriminate against citizens who believe in, or do not believe in, any religion.

Here’s how that grand theory works in practice:

Chinese police ‘raid Tibetan monastery’

The US-based ICT said paramilitary police raided the monastery in Aba, in the Sichuan province, on Thursday night and detained more than 300 monks.

As the monks were being driven away, the police beat a group of people who had been standing vigil outside Kirti, resulting in the deaths of two Tibetans aged in their sixties, ICT said, citing exile groups in contact with people in the area.

Again, at an Easter service, China seizes Christians in Easter raid.

Up to 500 members of the Protestant house church movement, unregistered assemblies of worshippers that the government bans to prevent the rise of opposition, have been detained in recent weeks. Yesterday’s arrests were a continuation of the authorities’ increase in repression of dissenters to stop any chance of a revolution such as those seen in North Africa and the Middle-East.

The Constitution cleverly includes the “fine print”:

The state protects normal religious activities. No one may make use of religion to engage in activities that disrupt public order, impair the health of citizens or interfere with the educational system of the state.

If the government says it “disrupts public order”, they’ll cart you away. Whether you’re ever seen again is up to them.

Religious bodies and religious affairs are not subject to any foreign domination.

Especially from Rome, from Tibet, or from the Church of England.

No constitution is worth the paper it’s written on – not even ours – unless the government behind it works to preserve the principles in it.

Written by freedomactionnow

April 25, 2011 at 8:06 pm

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Pre-existing condition discrimination

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There’s a lot of hand-wringing and complaining about insurance companies discriminating on the basis of pre-existing conditions. Here’s one example:

New report: 129 million Americans with a pre-existing condition could be denied coverage without new health reform law

Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius today released a new analysis showing that, without the Affordable Care Act, up to 129 million non-elderly Americans who have some type of pre-existing health condition, like heart disease, high blood pressure, arthritis or cancer, would be at risk of losing health insurance when they need it most, or be denied coverage altogether.

This is indeed a serious societal problem, one that needs attention.

However, following that logic, we’ll be able to buy auto insurance after our car has been wrecked or stolen; fire insurance after our home or business has burned down; or life insurance after we’re dead.

Written by freedomactionnow

January 24, 2011 at 7:53 pm

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The First Thanksgiving Proclamation

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In 1777, the Continental Congress issued the first Thanksgiving Proclamation. Here are a few exerpts:

FORASMUCH as it is the indispensable Duty of all Men to adore the superintending Providence of Almighty God;
to acknowledge with Gratitude their Obligation to him for Benefits received,
And it having pleased him in his abundant Mercy, not only to continue to us the innumerable Bounties of his common Providence;
That at one Time and with one Voice, the good People may express the grateful Feelings of their Hearts, and consecrate themselves to the Service of their Divine Benefactor;

… to set apart THURSDAY, the eighteenth Day of December…

under the Providence of Almighty GOD,…

The next proclamation came the next year:

It having pleased Almighty God, through the course of the present year, to bestow great and manifold mercies on the people of these United States;
and it being the indispensable duty of all men gratefully to acknowledge their obligations to Him for benefits received:

…to appoint Wednesday, the 30th day of December next, to be observed as a day of public thanksgiving and praise …

Another year, another proclamation (1779):

Whereas it becomes us humbly to approach the throne of Almighty God,…

… appoint Thursday, the 9th of December next, to be a day of public and solemn thanksgiving to Almighty God …

In 1780:

By the United States in Congress assembled.
Whereas it hath pleased Almighty God, the Father of all mercies, …

set apart Thursday, the seventh day [of December next,…

In 1782:

By the United States in Congress assembled.
It being the indispensable duty of all nations, not only to offer up their supplications to Almighty God,…

the last Thursday, in the 28 day of November next,…

Other proclamations each year, and in 1784, the Revolutionary War ended:

By the United States in Congress assembled.
Whereas it hath pleased the Supreme Ruler of the universe, of his infinite goodness and mercy, …

… a Definitive Treaty of peace between the said United States of America and his Britannic Majesty, was signed at Paris, on the 3d day of September, in the year of our Lord 1783;…

…the citizens of the United States have the greatest reason to return their most hearty and sincere praises and thanksgiving to the God of their deliverance; whose name be praised:

Finally, we get to George Washington, the first President:

Whereas it is the duty of all Nations to acknowledge the providence of almighty God,…

…a day of public thanksgiving and prayer to be observed by acknowledging with grateful hearts the many signal favors of Almighty God,

Now therefore I do recommend and assign Thursday the 26th day of November …

to be devoted by the People of these States to the service of that great and glorious Being, who is the beneficent Author of all the good that was, that is, or that will be…
And also that we may then unite in most humbly offering our prayers and supplications to the great Lord and Ruler of Nations and beseech him to pardon our national and other transgressions …

Washington again, in 1795:

…to acknowledge our many and great obligations to Almighty God and to implore Him to continue and confirm the blessings we experience.

… set apart and observe Thursday, the 19th day of February next
as a day of public thanksgiving and prayer, and on that day to meet together and render their sincere and hearty thanks to the Great Ruler of Nations
at the same time humbly and fervently to beseech the kind Author of these blessings

Do you notice a trend there?

Skip ahead to President Lincoln, in 1863:

They are the gracious gifts of the Most High God, who, while dealing with us in anger for our sins, hath nevertheless remembered mercy.

set apart and observe the last Thursday of November next, as a day of Thanksgiving and Praise to our beneficent Father who dwelleth in the Heavens.

In 1939, November had five Thursdays, and the country was in a depression. FDR figured that moving the Thanksgiving holiday back a week would give business a longer shopping period, so he proclaimed the fourth Thursday:

I, Franklin D. Roosevelt, President of the United States of America, do hereby designate Thursday, the twenty-third of November, 1939, as a day of general thanksgiving.

Let us, on the day set aside for this purpose, give thanks to the Ruler of the Universe for the strength which He has vouchsafed us to carry on our daily labors and for the hope that lives within us of the coming of a day when peace and the productive activities of peace shall reign on every continent.

This was not well-received.

Thanksgiving was not a national holiday, [FDR] noted, meaning that it was not set by federal law. According to custom, it was up to the president to pick the date every year.
“Plymouth and Thanksgiving are almost synonymous,” intoned the chairman of the town’s board of selectmen, “and merchants or no merchants I can’t see any reason for changing it.”
College football coaches also objected. … By 1939 Thanksgiving football had become a national tradition.
It wasn’t long before people started referring to Nov. 30 as the “Republican Thanksgiving” and Nov. 23 as the “Democratic Thanksgiving” or “Franksgiving.”
The early Thanksgiving had been an “experiment,” he said, and the experiment failed….
in 1942 Thanksgiving would revert to the last Thursday of the month. This was “the first time any New Deal experiment was voluntarily abandoned,” a Washington Post columnist wrote.

On Dec. 26, 1941, Roosevelt signed a joint resolution passed by Congress making Thanksgiving a national holiday and mandating that it be celebrated on the fourth Thursday in November.

Skip ahead to President Obama’s proclamation for 2009:

What began as a harvest celebration between European settlers and indigenous communities …
We also recognize the contributions of Native Americans, who helped the early colonists survive their first harsh winter and continue to strengthen our Nation.

I encourage all the people of the United States to come together, whether in our homes, places of worship, community centers, or any place where family, friends and neighbors may gather, with gratitude for all we have received in the past year; to express appreciation to those whose lives enrich our own; and to share our bounty with others.

This marks the first time in American history that a President does not directly mention God, either directly or indirectly:

Even President Bill Clinton affirmed in his first such proclamation that, “From the beginnings of our Nation, we have sought to recognize the providence and mercy of God with words and acts of gratitude,” and called the spirit of Thanksgiving “acknowledging God’s graciousness.”

Written by freedomactionnow

November 24, 2010 at 11:58 am

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