Falkland Islands: Nothing More Than a Symbol of Pride
January 22, 2011

May 14 1979 Time Magazine Proved To Be a Prophecy...but for what?

On This Date in History:  In the early 1980’s, there was a much publicized war between Argentina and Great Britain over a tiny group of islands off the southern tip of Argentina.  It became known as the Falkland Islands War.  Britain had long maintained sovereignty over the islands and Argentina suddenly had laid claim to them.  Very few people had heard of the islands before and most in Great Britain probably had no idea that it was British property.  The islands really had little value but the honor of Britain was at stake.  As it turns out, it was really a repeat of history. 

Sir Thomas Cavendish

The Spanish had been the lords of the sea for much of the 18th century and therefore had been able to do the most exploring and exploitation of the new world.   When the Spanish Armada was routed by the British in 1588, that opened up the New World to other European nations.  Now, Sir Thomas Cavendish was an English explorer and sailor known as the “navigator” for his sailing skills.  While Magellan, Loaisa, Drake and Loyola all had circumnavigated the globe, apparently none of them set sail with that intention.  Cavendish is credited with being the first to make such a voyage as his primary, intended quest.  He achieved this at age 28 after a two-year journey in 1588.  For some reason, that was not enough because he tried it again in 1591.  By 1592, Cavendish was dead of unknown causes and the attempt has been labeled a disaster.   However, it is thought that, on this voyage, one of Cavendish’s ships was captained by a man named Davis who, either by design or bad weather, got separated from Cavendish near the Straits of Magellan and is thought to be the first to have seen the islands.  However, he did not explore then or otherwise make any observations.  While that seems nebulous on the surface, it would prove to be important for centuries. 

Over 200 years later, Falklands still good for sheep

In 1771, a man named Samuel Johnson wrote a detailed history of the Falkland Islands up to that point.  Johnson seems to be opining of the uselessness of the islands.  After Captain Davis, several other people saw the islands but never bothered to stop.  When they were mapped, it was found that the islands had lots of water but no wood.  It had a good harbor and only had a benefit perhaps as a military outpost to support colonial operations.  But, even that was a dubious distinction because there was no way that the islands could ever be self-sufficient.  Spain had nominally laid claim to the islands as part of its Argentina colonization but the Spanish never did much with it.  The British did set up an outpost and provisioned it regularly and also found that sheep and cattle seemed to be more suitable for that environment than agriculture.  Around 1870, the Spanish showed up and asked the British to leave.  Mainly out of pride, the British refused.  The exchanges between the commander of the British garrison and the Spanish frigate captain is remarkable in that it is civil.  It’s as if both of them were doing their duty but really didn’t want to spill blood over something of such little value.  The Spanish eventually landed with a far superior force and the British left.  But, that wasn’t the end of it. Again, pride shows up and the crown just  couldn’t allow their claims to be challenged.  Their claim of possession was  basically that they had found it first.  The courts of Spain and England negotiated and discussed and, in the end, the King of Spain disavowed any knowledge of the actions of the governor of Buenos Aires, who apparently had directed his naval forces to take the island without orders  or permission from the King.  So, on this date in 1771, Spain ceded what was known as the Falkland Islands to the English, to the British Crown. 

Falklands More Suitable To Penguins Than People

Johnson opined on what all of this got the crown:  “… a restitution of our settlement, maintained the honour of the crown, and the superiority of our influence. Beyond this what have we acquired? What, but a bleak and gloomy solitude, an island, thrown aside from human use, stormy in winter, and barren in summer; an island, which not the southern savages have dignified with habitation; where a garrison must be kept in a state that contemplates with envy the exiles of Siberia; of which the expense will be perpetual, and the use only occasional; and which, if fortune smile upon our labours, may become a nest of smugglers in peace, and in war the refuge of future bucaniers.”  Johnson hammered the point of the lack of utility of the island when he points out that, after the Brits gained the concession, they abandoned the island.  He does note, however, that “the Spaniards have stipulated, that the grant of possession shall not preclude the question of prior right, a question which we shall probably make no haste to discuss, and a right, of which no formal resignation was ever required.”  This perhaps was the underlying excuse for hostility by the Argentinians 200 years later.

Falkland Islands Map

Falkland Islands Map

On the other hand,  it is not unusual for a government in turmoil with a risk of collapse from within to create an international incident in order to unify the country against a common foe besides the government. In the late 1970’s and early 1980’s, Argentina had been ruled by a military dictatorship that had once been popular but was rapidly losing support from the people as they grew weary of the number of political prisoners that had been taken as well as people who had simply disappeared. The economy was shrinking at 6% per year and inflation was running at 160%. The unions began to join forces with political opposition groups and the military Junta knew it was in trouble. Then, they thought a gift had been delivered to them.

The Harrier Proved Its Meddle in the Falklands

The Harrier Proved Its Meddle in the Falklands

While the Falkland and the South Georgia Islands had long been part of the British empire, the general global feeling of the 20th century was that empires needed to come to an end. However, perhaps due to the same pride that caused the British to want to keep the islands in the 18th century,  numerous attempts through the United Nations by Argentina to get Britain to cede the islands to Argentina failed. In 1979, an Argentinian businessman (Constantino Davidoff) purchased a former whale slaughterhouse on the South Georgia Islands from an Englishman(Christian Salvensen). The new owner wanted to dismantle the plant and sell the metal for scrap. The HMS Endurance was in the vicinity and the Argentine owner asked the Brits to loan him the use of their naval vessel to help him haul off the scrap. The crown denied his request. So, he went to his own Navy which obliged. This was the perfect set up for the Junta. It knew that the people of Argentina supported the idea of the nation gaining sovereignty over the islands off its coast and, if the Junta could use the situation properly, it could perhaps regain public support.  Besides, the Spanish never did acknowledge that the British had rightful claim when it ceded control in 1771.

Aluminum Ships Like Destroyer HMS Sheffield Proved Vulnerable To Missiles

Aluminum Ships Like Destroyer HMS Sheffield Proved Vulnerable To Missiles

So, in March 1982 when the Argentine Navy ship showed up at the South Georgia Islands, residents there complained to London that there was a warship with the Argentine flag floating in their waters. So, the British sent the HMS Endurance to the scene to prevent any landing by any Argentinians. Argentina responded by sending the military transport Bahia Parasio to the islands with the hope of occupying the islands peacefully. Now, the Junta had a plan for invading the Falkland and South Georgia Islands on the shelf for a couple of years. The nation had a pretty decent military and the battlefield would be 7500 miles from England. Also, they figured that they could use the weather as an ally by staging their invasion between June and October, which is the winter time in the Southern Hemisphere which would make things more difficult for England. The advantage really was with Argentina.

War Was The Big Headline in London

War Was The Big Headline in London

But…the people at home were getting restless and protests were growing quickly against the military leaders. So, they made the mistake of moving up their time-table. On April 2, 1982 Argentine ground forces of landed on the South Georgia Islands. The Falkland Islands War was on and the Argentine government appealed to President Reagan for support. The Rio Treaty of 1947 called on all nations of the Americas to come to the aid of any nation that was invaded by foreign forces. The Junta told Reagan that they were enforcing the rights of Argentine workers to legally do the job of removing the whaling slaughterhouse. I guess Ron didn’t agree because he didn’t lift a finger. After all, England was not your ordinary foreign invader. It had been our pal throughout the 20th Century and Reagan had established a strong bond with Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher, who earned her reputation as the “Iron Lady” by calling the Argentine bluff.

Sinking HMS Conventry and other ships highlighted limitations and vulnerability of naval assets

Instead of quietly negotiating away the islands, she sent a task force of ships, submarines, sailors and over 10,000 troops all the way from England. The task force left on April 5, 1982…just 3 days after the Argentine invasion. The first encounter of the Brits and Argentines happened on April 25 and by the middle of June, the war was over with an Argentinian surrender…just before the winter got going. Many historians agree, the biggest mistake of the Argentine Junta was to attack in the fall instead of sticking to their plan of a winter assault. In the eyes of many, the Argentinians had a good case for obtaining the islands but, the military might and determination of Margaret Thatcher rendered any legitimate points moot. A little more than a year later, the Argentinian Junta was out of office and any hope of ever getting to the negotiating table with Britain over ceding the islands was doomed. They never should have neglected the weather forecast.  Or maybe they should have just agreed that the islands were of no value.  As it stands, many people died and treasure spent on a bunch of islands that no one really found  much use for except express misappropriated pride…but at last, that pride is redeemed…you see, oil was discovered a few years ago near the Falkland Islands and, once again, Argentina is claiming and Britain ain’t listening. 

Weather Bottom Line:  Yes, it’s cold.  Is your street clear of snow?  I think the Mayor is in Washington DC so maybe he’s not aware of the snow on the streets in your neighborhood.  Then again, perhaps the delay is just a money-saving tactic since it’s the weekend and they’ll just clear everyone’s road by Sunday night for the Monday start to the work week.  See, there is a model out there that just keeps throwing snow over the area for many days.  That would be the GFS.   Its been consistent in that assertion from last Thursday through early Saturday morning. I suspect that it will change its mind because it’s the outlier as most models do not have a low traversing the Ohio Valley and conspiring with one to the South to bring lots of snow, or at least several days of light snow.  Instead, most damp out the midwest low and make the southern low the dominant feature and routes it through Dixie and up the east coast.  The weather service still has a chance of snow in the forecast from Sunday night through Wednesday, but we’ll have to wait and see.  Either way, while it will remain cold for the forseeable future, we will come out of the ice bucket after the weekend.

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The Union Army in the Civil War Was Nearly Commanded by an Italian
September 8, 2010

Had Abraham Lincoln Been Able to Offer his Emancipation Proclamation a Year Earlier, This Italian Military Hero May Have Been An American Military Hero As Well

Winfield Scott Lives up to his "Old Fuss and Feathers" moniker and the notion that he was a tired old man at 75

On This Date in History:  It has been well documented and reviewed that Abraham Lincoln had a difficult time finding a general to lead the Union Army at the outset of the Civil War and in the years to come.  The carousel of commanders ultimately ended with the elevation of General Ulysses S. Grant to the position of Lt. General of the Armies in 1864 following his victory at Vicksburg in 1863.  When the war began, Lincoln had a true military hero in General Winfield Scott who had gained accolades for his efforts in the War of 1812 and the Mexican War.  But “Old Fuss and Feathers,” as Scott was called, was 75 years old and in declining health when hostilities began in 1861.  After Scott had set forth his “Anaconda Plan” to strangle the South with a naval blockade, he retired from military service.

Lt. Colonel Robert E. Lee Could Not Turn His Back on Virginia

Before the war broke out. Scott had approached Lt. Colonel Robert E. Lee about taking command of the Union armies in the field.  Scott pleaded with Lee not to join the Confederacy.  Lee, however, felt great loyalty to his state of Virginia as its history had in some measure been shaped by his ancestors, including American Revolution hero Henry “Light Horse Harry” Lee, Robert E. Lee’s father.  When Virginia voted to secede from the Union and Lee informed Scott of his decision, the aging general said, “Lee, you have made the greatest mistake of your life;  but I feared it would be so.”    Virginia officially proposed secession on April 17, 1861 and Robert E. Lee resigned from the US Army 3 days later.  Three days thereafter, Lee was named commander of the armed forces of Virginia.

McClellan's Deliberate Approach Was Good For Railroad Building But Not So Good For Waging War; Posing Like Napoleon Didn't Make Him Napoleon

From that point, it was all downhill for the Union.  President Lincoln turned to General George B. McClellan who was a West Point Graduate but had spent the most recent years with the railroads, most significantly plotting the course of the Northern Pacific Railroad across the Cascades.  He was gifted at organization and literally built the US Army from scratch.  But, McClellan envisioned himself as an American Napoleon and had a strained relationship with the president as exemplified by his reference to the Commander in Chief as an “idiot” or “the original gorilla.”  McClellan had been a good student at West Point and thus followed the doctrine taught at the academy which  was based on the ideas of Antoine Henri de Jomini.  In general, the military strategy involved maintaining supply and communications lines and securing key locations.  True to his organizational strengths, McClellan and other Union generals tended to take their time in preparation and tended to make deliberate, rather than decisive, moves.  Lincoln accused McClellan of having a case of “the slows.” 

Famous Alexander Gardner Photo of Dead Soldiers at Antietam

In September 1862, Lee invaded Maryland and split his army, which was unconventional, in order for him to follow the Jomini doctrine of securing his supply routes.  McClellan is said to have received advanced intelligence that informed him of Lee’s plans.  A Union soldier in Frederick, Maryland had found a pack of 3 cigars in the street and when he picked it up, he found the cigars were wrapped in Lee’s orders to his field commanders which outlined the strategy which were known as Lee’s Special Orders  no. 191.  McClellan was brimming with confidence that his much larger army could surprise and overcome the divided forces of the Army of Northern Virginia and achieve a great victory.  Alas,  in spite of the information, McClellan moved so slowly and with such deliberate care that Lee was able to regroup his army at Antietam.  The Battle of Antietam, which was fought near Antietam Creek  on September 17, 1862, was one of the bloodiest of the Civil War.  McClellan said it was a great victory but, in fact, his army with a two to one advantage in numbers missed an opportunity to destroy Lee’s army and perhaps end the war.  Lee escaped with his forces intact and McClellan failed to follow up with a pursuit.

Garibaldi Refused Command of Union Army Due To Lincoln's Reluctance to Commit to Free American Slaves

As it turns out, the name of George B. McClellan might be lost to history had Abraham Lincoln been successful a year before the Battle of Antietam.  You see, on this date in 1861, the president attempted to enlist the services of Italian Revolutionary Giuseppe Garibaldi to lead the Union Army.  Garibaldi had become famous in his own country in his successful operation to unify Italy.  Robert E. Lee did not join the Confederacy because he supported slavery, but instead out of loyalty to Virginia.  Garibaldi had no such loyalty issues and had fought against slavery in South America.  However, a sticking point in the attempt to gain the skills of Garibaldi was the Italian’s insistence that Lincoln promise that American slaves would be freed.  At that point, Lincoln’s objective was to preserve the Union and he doubted he could reach his objective and make such a commitment. 

Ever Heard of Don Carlos Buell?

Of course, 5 days after Antietam, President Lincoln announced his intention of issuing the Emancipation Proclamation on January 1, 1863 that would free all slaves in areas in insurrection.  Lincoln said it was a military measure to help limit the South’s ability to make war.   However, it effectively freed the slaves since it would be incomprehensible to free those in bondage only to put them back in their former state once the war was over.  Had Lincoln felt as if he was in a position to make such a commitment in September 1862, then George B. McClellan might have been relegated as a footnote of history, like General Don Carlos Buell or even, in some measure, Winfield Scott. 

Light Italian Aircraft Carrier Named For Garibaldi

As it stands, it was Giuseppe Garibaldi who has been lost to American history.  Ultimately, victory was acheived under the command of Ulysses S. Grant, who was not a very good student at West Point and therefore had not been indoctrinated in the Jomini philosophy.  He developed a strategy that involved the “theatre of war” as well as using his overwhelming superiority in stregnth to simply attack and overwhelm the enemy.  The tactics involved are known as “Grantonian Tactics” and were later used by the likes of Erwin Rommel and Bernhard Montgomery.  The philsophy continues to this day and is described by historian Russell F. Weigley as The American Way of War.  The media has given some of those tactics the moniker, “Shock and Awe.”  As for Garibaldi, while he was never named as commander of the Union Army, the Italians did name an aircraft carrier in his honor.

Weather Bottom Line:  I saw someone on TV on Tuesday night say that the track of what is left over of Tropical Storm Hernine would determine if our rain chances go up at the end of the week.  What a crock.  A tropical cyclone is a very large feature and this storm remained well defined even as far north as San Antonio.  Its flow opens up the Gulf and the storm will track into the plains states.  The flow is so broad that most certainly, the moisture drawn up to the east of the center of the low will over run the cold front that came through on Tuesday.  The question will be whether or not the moisture will overcome the dry air and when it does, not the track of the system.  Look for a coolish night in the upper 50’s, a warm afternoon on Thursday with low humidity and high clouds on Thursday afternoon and then thickening clouds as the day progresses on Friday.  The dry air will limit the rain chances for awhile but by late Friday, into Friday night, its likely that our atmosphere will be saturated enough to give us a decent shot at some much needed rain.   The system will lift the front north as a warm front on Friday night or Saturday morning and that will be the best chance.  Saturday may be a shade warm and humid in advance of a cold front which may not only provide decent rain chances Saturday evening, but also, I would think, a risk of some trouble-making t’storms.

Peace Conference, Kentucky Derby Forecast Look All Wet
April 28, 2010

This Outfit for Man and Horse Was Required for World War I But You May Need Something Else For Kentucky Derby 136

Click Image to See If There is Anyone You Know

On This Date In History:  Ever noticed how there are some people who feel like that effort or intent is  more important than actual results?  Symbolism over substance.  Today marks such a day because, if that’s not the case, then it would be largely forgotten.  On this date in 1915 World War I (then known as the Great War) raged and the International Congress of Women convened at The Hague in the Netherlands.  The meeting was one of women’s rights organizations and suffrage groups from around the world. 

Aletta Jacobs

 One of the main organizers, Aletta Jacobs, said in her opening remarks that the group meeting would “have its moral effect upon the belligerent countries,”  The conference lasted 3 days and concluded in part “…we can no longer endure in this twentieth century of civilization that government should tolerate brute force as the only solution of international disputes.”  They outlined specific ways of conflict resolution with continual mediation.   Later, this conference led to the creation of other groups including the Womens’ International League for Peace and Freedom.

This Banner At the Hague Really Made a Difference in 1915

What Did More To Bring an End to America's Involvement in Vietnam? John and Yoko sitting in bed giving peace a chance or Nixon bombing North Vietnam back to the negotation table?

People like these women meant well and their underlying notion has practical merit.  After the 30 Years War, Europeans came up with the Peace of Westphalia which was reached with everyone taking an eye toward balance of power.  The war had taught them that little was accomplished and the weaponry and methods of the day resulted in such destruction to the economy and people that war was becoming too costly to consider as a viable means of settling conflict.  But a condition of mankind seems to be one of violence and so ideals, regardless of their merit, tend to be squashed by reality.  These ladies seemed to think that having a meeting and bringing attention to themselves would do anything when in fact, it did nothing.  Action requires boldness.  

The Great Seal of the United States of America

If you look at the Great Seal of the United States.  You will find that in the talons of the Eagle, there is an olive branch as well as a cluster of 13 arrows.  The most obvious representation is that the 13 arrows is for the 13 original colonies.  But, the cluster of arrows and the olive branch indicates “peace through strength.”  The founding fathers knew that a strong nation was one more likely to live  in peace.  

You Tell'em, Teddy!

Pragmatism and reality doesn’t seem to dissuade or convince folks though because, today there are many associations like International Congress of Women that think they are doing something, that tell people they are doing something and have people tell them they are doing something when, in fact, they accomplish nothing except headlines.  Martin Luther King achieved success through action.  The US achieved freedom through action.  Peace is ultimately achieved through action.   The Spirit and words of President Roosevelt do well here: 

“It is not the critic who counts: not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles or where the doer of deeds could have done better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood, who strives valiantly, who errs and comes up short again and again, because there is no effort without error or shortcoming, but who knows the great enthusiasms, the great devotions, who spends himself for a worthy cause; who, at the best, knows, in the end, the triumph of high achievement, and who, at the worst, if he fails, at least he fails while daring greatly, so that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who knew neither victory nor defeat.” 

I Told You So! (at least I think so)

Kentucky Derby 2010 Forecast: For several days I’ve been telling you about the potential for some interesting weather for Derby Day. I saw some local TV guys have a 30% chance for rain and I said how I wasn’t sold on that. Often when there are big events, forecasters tend to “wish cast” which would be making a forecast based on what they want it to be instead of what the data suggests. In this case, some models had the system slow and another fast. The slow model would result in a better Derby Day forecast and so many people chose that. Better to be the bearer of good news. I had surmised that the truth would probably be in between with rain likely on Saturday and strong storms possible. For now, it may be worth bringing out Colonel Klink and also for you to prepare for rain, though I do not think Churchill Downs allows umbrellas. But, you can place your bet on your favorite mudder. See details below.

SPC Outline of Area for Severe Storm Potential on Derby Day

GFS Has Heaviest Rain (1.5") Early Saturday Morning

Weather Bottom Line:  After a chilly Wednesday start, we get into a warming trend starting today as high pressure in Louisiana moves to the east.  That will result in a SSW flow set up and create warm air advection as well as increase moisture from the Gulf.   The European model had been holding everything back such that it was possible that the next storm system didn’t get here until Sunday or even Monday.  But the GFS consistently brought it out much faster.  The GFS solution would have messed up both the 136th Kentucky Oaks on Friday and possibly the 136th Kentucky Derby on Saturday.  I had been looking for an ultimate outcome of something in between, meaning that I expected that Oaks Day would be partly cloudy, warm and breezy with a fair amount of rain on Derby Day with t’storms. I kept looking for severe weather on Saturday but the models weren’t all that committed.  At this time, the data is supporting my hypothesis except that now the models are more bullish on the severe potential and the Storm Prediction Center has jumped on board.  

NAM Initializes Rain Event Saturday morning

Yesterday, I mentioned that all we needed was a “kicker” to ignite the unstable atmosphere and we’d have an increased potential for severe weather on Saturday.  The GFS was throwing out about 2 inches of rain for Derby Day.  It would seem that now we do indeed have all the ingredients for not only excessive rain but also strong storms.  Basically, the main low makes its way to the Great Lakes but another low comes out of Northern Mexico into S0uth Texas.  That sets up a long frontal boundary from North to South with the boundary just to our west.  There will be ample southerly flow providing an influx of moisture into the Lower Mississippi Valley and Ohio Valley.  The low to the south will tend to slow the front down.  It will also tend to throw off pieces of energy.  

Canadian Advertises over an inch of rain Saturday Afternoon

So, we have a set up with a stalled front that will result in consistent rain and then a low tossing out energy that will run up along the front and produce a risk for severe weather as it moves NE along the boundary.  The GFS has backed off its rain plans on Friday though the NAM does want to try to increase chances.  I still think that Oaks Day will generally be fine unless a stray shower or t’shower moves over Churchill Downs.   Saturday though looks tough.  I also think that the rain chances will stay pretty high through Sunday.  Of course, this is Wednesday and things could change with regard to timing but so far, the data is generally coming more in line with what I had thought would be a likely scenario which was the one that made the most sense to me, regardless of what the models were saying.  And you know what…the weather always does what it will do without consulting the computers to find out what its supposed to do.  I would have a concern that the folks that got slammed by twisters last Saturday will be facing the potential for another round.

Margaret Thatcher Shows Her Mettle
April 2, 2010

May 14 1979 Time Magazine Proved To Be a Prophecy

May 14 1979 Time Magazine Proved To Be a Prophecy

Falkland Islands Map

Falkland Islands Map

On This Date in History: It is not unusual for a government in turmoil with a risk of collapse from within to create an international incident in order to unify the country against a common foe besides the government. In the late 1970’s and early 1980’s, Argentina had been ruled by a military dictarship that had once been popular but was rapidly losing support from the people as they grew weary of the number of political prisoners that had been taken as well as people who had simply disappeared. The economy was shrinking at 6% per year and inflation was running at 160%. The unions began to join forces with political opposition groups and the military Junta knew it was in trouble. Then, the thought a gift had been delivered to them.

The Harrier Proved Its Meddle in the Falklands

The Harrier Proved Its Meddle in the Falklands

Off of Argentina lay the Falkland and the South Georgia Islands. These islands had long been part of the British empire. Throughout the 20th century, the general global feeling was that empires needed to come to an end but, inspite of numerous attempts through the United Nations, Argentina was unable to get Britain to cede the islands that resided so far away from England. In 1979, an Argentian buisinessman (Constantino Davidoff) purchased a former whale slaughterhouse on the South Georgia Islands from an Englishman(Christian Salvensen). The new owner wanted to dismantle the plant and sell the mettle for scrap. The HMS Endurance was in the vicinity and the Argentine owner asked the Brits to loan him the use of their naval vessel to help him haul off the scrap. The crown denied his request. So, he went to his own Navy which obliged. This was the perfect set up for the Junta. It knew that the people of Argentina supported the idea of the nation gaining sovereignty over the islands off its coast and, if the Junta could use the situtation properly, it could perhaps regain public support.

Aluminum Ships Like Destroyer HMS Sheffield Proved Vulnerable To Missles

Aluminum Ships Like Destroyer HMS Sheffield Proved Vulnerable To Missles

So, in March 1982 when the Argentine Navy ship showed up at the South Georgia Islands, residents there complained to London that there was a warship with the Argentine flag floating in their waters. So, the British sent the HMS Endurance to the scene to prevent any landing by any Argentinians. Argentina responded by sending the military transport Bahia Parasio to the islands with the hope of occupying the islands peacefully. Now, the Junta had a plan for invading the Falkland and South Georgia Islands on the shelf for a couple of years. The nation had a pretty decent military and the battlefield would be 7500 miles from England. Also, they figured that they could use the weather as an ally by staging their invasion between June and October, which is the winter time in the Southern Hemisphere which would make things more difficult for England. The advantage really was with Argentina.

War Was The Big Headline in London

War Was The Big Headline in London

But…the people at home were getting restless and protests were growing quickly against the military leaders. So, they made the mistake of moving up their time table. On this date in 1982, Argentine ground forces of landed on the South Georgia Islands. The Falkland Islands War was on and the Argentine government appealed to President Reagan for support. The Rio Treaty of 1947 called on all nations of the Americas to come to the aid of any nation that was invaded by foreign forces. The Junta told Reagan that they were enforcing the rights of Argentine workers to legally do the job of removing the whaling slaughterhouse. I guess Ron didn’t agree because he didn’t lift a finger. After all, England was not your ordinary foreign invader. It had been our pal throughout the 20th Century and Reagan had established a strong bond with Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher, who earned her reputation as the “Iron Lady” by calling the Argentine bluff.

Sinking HMS Conventry and other ships highlighted limitations and vulnerability of naval assets

Instead of quietly negotiating away the islands, she sent a task force of ships, submarines, sailors and over 10,000 troops all the way from England. The task force left on Aprl 5, 1982…just 3 days after the Argentine invasion. The first encounter of the Brits and Argentines happened on April 25 and by the middle of June, the war was over with an Argentinian surrender…just before the winter got going. Many historians agree, the biggest mistake of the Argentine Junta was to attack in the fall instead of sticking to their plan of a winter assault. In the eyes of many, the Argentinians had a good case for obtaining the islands but, the military might and determination of Margaret Thatcher rendered any legitimate points moot. A little more than a year later, the Argentinian Junta was out of office and any hope of ever getting to the negotiating table with Britain over ceding the islands was doomed. They never should have neglected the weather forecast.

SPC mentions T'Storm Potential Saturday

SPC Very small probability of strong storms Saturday

Weather Bottom Line:  In the short term, it’s pretty clear cut with a very nice Good Friday with a high pushing toward the mid 80’s.  I told you  a  few days ago that there would be some potential activity in the midwest and the target area today stretches from north Texas to the central plains.  I think Saturday will be good for most of the time but rain chances will increase as the afternoon goes on.  By late afternoon into the evening, a front comes down but the main storm center will be well to our North.   The storms moving in from out west should be fading when they get here but, I would have an eyebrow raised if some wander in here in the late day, before the sun goes down.  The most interesting aspect of this is the steep lapse rates.  Some of these storms may be elevated and if the lapse rates shake out as suggested,then we could have some hail or gusty winds.  The SPC puts a 5% chance for severe weather just to our west and northwest which would indicate the probable area of storms by late afternoon.   Not a big deal, but its something.  Then the front clears things out for Easter Sunday and we knock about 10-15 degrees off the afternoon highs.  Monday, the front comes back as a warm front another front approaches. Rain chances will probably elevate.  After that, it seems to me that we get pretty warm on Tuesday before another front comes in and causes some issues on Wednesday.

Harry Towne: Great American Hero, Ordinary Citizen
March 19, 2010

Iwo Jima Memorial Represents the Extraordinary Effort, Courage and Sacrifice of Ordinary Americans Serving a Cause Greater Than Themselves

Joe Rosenthal's Famous Photo from Iwo Jima Feb 23 1945...but the battle was far from over

On This Date in History:  There are several small volcanic islands in the Pacific Ocean.  As of June 18, 2007, one of those islands became known as Iwo To.   The name means “Sulpher” which apparently is also what Iwo Jima means.  But, according to USA Today, after the success of the Clint Eastwood Films, Flags of our Fathers and Letters From Iwo Jima, the Japanese decided to change the name back to Iwo To, which had been what the civilians had called it before the war.  The locals were happy that their island had been remembered, but for some reason, they didn’t like the name.  The Americans held the island until 1968 when the United States returned it to Japan and now it’s home to about 400 Japanese soldiers.  Those “locals” don’t even live there anymore. 

Over 26,000 people died fighting for this 8 sq mile island

Anyway, in 1944 the Americans had gained control of the Mariana Islands which gave them a place from which to make direct bombing raids on the Japanese mainland with B-29’s.  However, the proximity of the 8 square mile island was such that the Japanese staged several rather destructive raids on B-29 bases around the Pacific.  So, that made Iwo Jima a target for US invasion.  The small island is made up of tough, ignatious rock and features the cone of what is thought to be an extinct volcano that rises about 550 feet above sea level.  With 21,000 Japanese defenders, it made for a natural fortress.  The Americans had bombed it often from the last part of 1944 through early 1945 but the Japanese use of the island’s geography rendered much of that bombing ineffective.  So, on February 19, 1945 the US Marine Corps sent 3 divisions onto the volcanic shores following a 3 day naval bombardment. (numerous videos from History.com)

Marines Received Heavy Fire After Hitting the Beach

The battle of Iwo Jima lasted 37 days:  Over a month for 8 square miles.  The Japanese strategy involved using the deep fortified bunkers dug in the volcanic rock to withstand all of the bombs and naval gunfire  the US could muster and then called for no Japanese survivors.  In other words, defend the island to the death.  And that’s exactly what happened as the Japanese were fighting on home soil that was only 650 miles from Tokyo.  Japanese commander Lieutenant General Tadamichi Kuribayashi was a seasoned and dedicated leader who called on his men to kill 10 Americans before they were killed.  The fighting was horrific and while the Americans made some headway, the going was extremely slow.  By the time it was over, more than 6000 Americans had given their lives while 20,000 of the Japanese defenders were killed. 

With Enemy Holding High Ground of Hill 362, Even Off the Front Lines Rifle and Mortar Fire Was Heavy. Towne Was on the Front Line

One of the Americans in the fight was Harry Towne of Madison, Wisconsin.  He was a corporal who, on February 27, 1945 led his Company I, Third Battalion, Twenty-Seventh Marines, FIFTH Marine Division against a fortified enemy position guarding the approach to Hill 362.  In the successful assault, squad leader Towne was wounded as he and his men negotiated the pill boxes and caves defended by men who held the high ground.  Very tough.  In the back and forth of battle, the Japanese made a strong counter attack and Towne, though wounded, directed his men with hand signals and by voice.  Towne remained exposed to withering Japanese fire and tossed grenades from his position.  He did not retreat.  For his extraordinary heroism and devotion to duty, Corporal Towne received the Navy Cross as described in his citation issued by President Truman.

Catholic Chaplain Offers Communion Amidst the Battle

The citation says much about Towne but doesn’t really mention much about his wound.  But, a letter he wrote to his mother on this date in 1945 reminds us that the stories of history are filled with people.  They have dreams and hopes and loves like everyone else.  Some are allowed to go on to live thier lives while others have a destiny that ends with the final words written about them.  In this case, Harry Towne lived to tell his own story:

“Dear Mom,

I don’t know if you have heard that I was wounded or not Mom.  I asked a Chaplain to write you, so you probably know about it.

I am coming along fine now and expect to be in the States before long.  I was wounded quite badly, Mother, but the Navy Medical Corps will fix me up like new again.  In a year or less I shall be able to walk just as before.

Don’t let this be a shock to you, Mother, I will be in almost as good shape as before now that they have these new artificial limbs.  Yes, Mother, I have lost my right leg, but it isn’t worrying me a bit.  I shall receive a pension for the rest of my life and with the new artificial limb, you can hardlytell anything is wrong. 

I lost my leg on the front lines of Iwo Jima on February 27, but have been moved around so much I couldn’t write.  I would like to write to Alma, but somehow I can’t force myself to do it.  You write and tell her, Mother.  I’ll try to write to her later on.

Don’t worry, Mom, the war for me is ended and I should be see you by fall. 

Love, [Harry]” 

 (Letters of the Century: America 1900-1999. Lisa Grunwald and Stephen J. Adler, ed. Random House, New York: 1999, pg 308)

Litter Bearers Risked Their Lives to Evacuate Brave Men Like Harry Towne

While Harry Towne was trying to reassure his mother and show a positive outlook, you can hear his anguish with how he struggles in even writing about his condition.  His frequent use of “Mother” shows that he is writing much as if he were speaking to her on the phone, searching for the right words to say.   His true feelings about his fate are revealed when he admits that he cannot bring himself to write to tell Alma, whom we presume is a wife or sweetheart.  This simple note reveals that this man suffered an injury so severe that his leg had to be amputated yet he perservered under extreme conditions to serve his country and support his men.  It also shows that behind the heroic tales of the American soldier in World War II, were ordinary American citizens who, while serving a cause larger than themselves, did extraordinary things.  We owe them a debt of gratitude.  I’d like to think that all American citizens are capable of making the same sacrifice if called today.  As an individual, you will have to determine if your devotion to country could lead you to follow the example of Harry Towe if called.

What a Difference a Day Makes. No NAM Snow Sunday AM

Weather  Bottom Line:  Thursday morning the models did a huge flop…which is why a forecast can be a flop if you start chortling about snow 5 days prior to the potential event.  I probably said too much about that yesterday and did not emphasize that the variables involved were many.  There had been a consistency though for days regarding the solution.  I recognize that the same level of uncertainty remains even with though new model runs of Thursday morning were almost identical.   That variability still shows up with later runs as they have changed a bit again.

What happened to the GFS Snow Sunday Morning?

What they did was instead of digging a big trof down with a cold front and running a low up along the front to give wrap around snow behind the boundary, they made the southern low cut off from the main jet stream and the general trof lifted north.  In the later runs of the day, the kinda started inching back to their initial solution with the trof staying in place for a longer duration but just prior to the front’s arrival in the Ohio Valley, then it cut off the low and ran it up over the Ohio Valley.  In fact, the Canadian model doesn’t fully cut off the low until it’s almost on top of our area.  So..what to do.  How about wait and see what happens?  That’s really all one can do. 

Weather Dunce

All along, intuitively it seemed unlikely that we’d get snow as the air wasn’t that cold and the trof not that deep.  But…it was there.  Now, the problem is that the models suddenly shifted to a completely new solution and then followed that up with something in between.  Often, when an event is on the way, the models are set on a game plan, change it suddenly and then when it all shakes out, it ends up being what was called for in the first place. My guess is that regardless of the particulars, we will be 40’s on Sunday and Monday.  The initial scenario of 30’s is still possible but it would seem the cautious approach of not even mentioning that potential until we got closer to the day was the wise move.  I get the dunce cap for that.  After a string of victories…humility came calling.  But..whatever..Friday will be lovely with highs nearing 70 and clouds increasing Saturday will be the only damper on a day in the upper 60’s to near 70.  Rain will still be likely on Saturday night and Sunday with a possible t’storm or two.  And the temperatures will still rebound by midweek.  As for snow…we’ll just have to wait and see…just in case.

Battle of New Orleans Fought After War Was Over
January 8, 2010

Battle of New Orleans: Pointless Battle Vaulted Career of Andrew Jackson, Johnny Horton and the Royal Guardsmen

When I was 7, this was my favorte album

On This date in History:  The American War of 1812 began in…well…1812.  But, the name is an odd moniker because it implies the war took place in 1812 when, in fact, it went on long after that.  It even went on even when it was over.   The war began in the middle of 1812 but went on until the end of 1814 when, on December 24, 1814 the Treaty of Ghent was signed that ended the conflict.  Now, the United States Senate did not get around to ratifying the treaty until February 16, 1815 but typically, when a treaty is signed, there is a cessation of hostilities pending ratification.   But, in the early 19th century, there was no internet and snail mail really moved at a snail’s pace.

I Thought the Royal Guardsmen were Cool

When I was a kid, the Florida band The Royal Guardsmen had an album called Snoopy Vs. The Red Baron.  While the title song was the big hit, there was also several other memorable songs, many of which were covers.  One was the Battle of New Orleans.  It starts off with the line, “In 1814 we took a little trip, along with Colonel Jackson down the mighty Mississip.  We took a little bacon and we took a little beans and we caught the bloody British near the town of New Orleans.”    I know that this was one of the cover songs as it was originally written by Jimmy Driftwood and was recorded by Johnny Horton.   In 1959, both Driftwood and Horton won Grammy Awards for the tune.  So, I suppose the boys from Florida thought that it was a good idea to do a cover of the song in the early 1960’s. 

Treaty of Ghent Couldn't Stop War Right Away

Now, the lyrics would imply that the battle took place in 1814.  In fact, many people think that the Battle of New Orleans was the decisive battle of the War of 1812.  But, the decisive battle took place on Lake Champlain in September 1814.  Invading British forces were forced back into Canada by the United States Navy and the American victory led the British to conclude that the best course of action was to head to the town of Ghent in Belgium and wrap up the peace negotaions that had gone on in a halting manner for some time.   

Old Hickory ended up on the 20 partly due to useless victory

Now, Driftwood for some reason referred to Andrew Jackson as “Colonel Jackson” when he was a General.  And General Jackson did lead an army to near New Orleans.  Keep in mind that communications were slow and so neither Jackson nor the British commanders were aware of what was going on with the peace negotiations.  So, British Commander Sir Edward Pakenham went forth with his plan to attack New Orleans.   He reasoned that if he captured the Big Easy, then he might separate Louisiana from the rest of the United States.  Pakenham had no idea that Jackson had an extra pair of eyes.  Seems that pirate  Jean Lafitte became aware of the British invasion force to the Southeast of New Orleans near Lake Bourne and directly had that information relayed to Jackson.  So, when Pakenham led his forces toward New Orleans on this date in 1815, he found 4500 troops under Jackson firmly entrenched along the Rodriguez Canal. 

Pakenham Forgot American Way of War Dispensed with Silly European Rules

Even though the Brits outnumbered the Yanks 7500 to 4500, the defensive position of the Americans, surprise and terrain worked against the British.  Perhaps just as important for the Americans is that Jackson had a pretty fair number of militiamen from the backwoods of Kentucky and Tennessee.  These lands produced the likes Davy Crockett and Daniel Boone and there were more where they came from.  The expert marksman from the American frontier cut the marching British to pieces.  In just 30 minutes, 2000 British soldiers were either killed, wounded or missing.  American casulaties were just 8 killed and 13 wounded.  I suppose that the British had not learned their lesson from the American Revolution because Pakenham allowed himself to be exposed to fire.  There had been a European tradition in warfare to not shoot the opposition’s officers so that there may be a sense of order on the battlefield.  But, the Americans had regularly targeted British officers in the late 18th century for the purpose of creating chaos in the ranks of the stronger opponent.   And in the early 19th century, they did the same thing.  Pakenham didn’t get the memo and the result was Sir Edward was counted among the dead in the first 30 minutes of the battle.  The British retreated and never came back. 

The battle of New Orleans was fought in 1815 in a war that was over in 1814 and was the last major battle of the war known as the War of 1812.  And the battle became famous in the 20th century by a song that said Andrew Jackson was a colonel when in fact he was a general.  And the final treaty of this misnamed war more or less left things as they were before the war.  Nothing seemed right about the War of 1812, unless you were Andrew Jackson.  The exploits of Jackson in the pointless battle made him famous and it helped launch his political career that eventually took him to the White House and on the twenty dollar bill. 

Louisville NWS snow reports as of Friday morning

Weather Bottom Line:  My latest foray into snow forecasting ended up on a pretty positive note.  Snow forecasting is really pretty difficult because small variances in moisture totals can result in relatively large differences in snow totals.  But, in this case, it was a pretty good bet that most people would get around 3 inches with some up to four and the farther south of Louisville you went, the lower the totals down toward 2 inches.  Anyway, the snow showers on Friday will end in a few flurries after sundown and then during the day on Saturday we get to the 20’s and we say good bye to snow showers but still get some flurries.  Now…we do warm up…I have been saying for over a week that we wouldn’t get to freezing until the 15th.  The computers think its the 13th. I think the NWS goes for the 12th.  Whatever…we’re still talking about below freezing temperatures for every minute of 2010 for nearly 2 weeks.  There is indications that we get a pretty fair warm up for the several days starting midweek as the jet stream goes back to Canada with a big ridge building in the US.  But, there is one model that is trying to create a potential snow maker a week from Sunday.  Key to that last sentence is “a week from Sunday.”  It’s a long way away and there would  have to have everything to come together perfectly for that to happen.  But, regardless, there is no indication of a return to extended cold once we come out of this ice bucket.  Oh..BTW…the models call for low teens on Sunday morning.  The NWS says 11.  The clouds will be breaking on Saturday night.  I’m tellin’ ya….if those clouds break sufficiently by say…2 or 3 am on Sunday…we get down to near zero.  It’s my story and I’m sticking with it!

Insane Killer Goes on Field Trip-Escapes; UN Vehicles Used in Suicide Bombings
September 19, 2009

UN trucks Used Against UN?

UN trucks Used Against UN?

How About a Trip to the County Fair?

How About a Trip to the County Fair?

Today is has examples of how the best of intentions can go terribly wrong.  Typically, in these cases it’s a result of individuals or groups not thinking beyond their own agenda  or project.  The first is in the United States and involves 47-year-old Philip Arnold Paul.  He was committed to a mental hospital following his acquittal on murder charges for reason of insanity.  Paul was accused of killing an elderly woman and then covering her corpse in gasoline before burying her in her own garden.  He was attempting to throw search dogs off the scent.  So, according to an AP report, Paul disappeared from the Spokane County Fair and is now at large.  Now, what was a killer who was committed to a mental hospital following a murder doing at the Spokane County Fair?  Why, it was part of a program that allows mental patients to go on field trips, to places like the county fair, that has families and children running around having a good time, not generally on the lookout for insane killers.  Even if they were looking for maniacs running around, they wouldn’t be likely to spot them.  See, part of the program allows for the patients to wear civilian clothes.  Wouldn’t want anyone in the general public to know that killers turned mental patients were in their midst.  And here’s the real kicker to the story…Paul had escaped before.  So, someone thought it was a great idea to have a killer in a mental institution with a history of escape attempts to be on a field trip at the county fair. 

Suicide Bombings Common in Somalia

Suicide Bombings Common in Somalia

On the international front, for years fighting has gone on in a very unstable Somalia.  For many stretches, there really has been no government to speak of in the impoverished country and its questionable if there has ever been an effective government for any amount of time.  This is the country that gave us “Black Hawk Down” and more recently is the home to the Pirates who have been capturing large ships off their coast and holding them for ransom.  So, the United Nations has deployed a peace keeping force.  They’ve been so effective that since 2007 that over 18,000 people have been killed and some 1.5 million have been left homeless.  With  a track record of peace keeping like that, who needs warlords?  Now, to be fair, it is a very very difficult situation with a relatively weak central government and pretty strong forces of Islamic rebels and free-wheeling war lords controlling part of the population and regions. 

Those implicated in the Oil for Food Fiasco are gone, but it's still the UN

Those implicated in the Oil for Food Fiasco are gone, but it's still the UN

 But, this is almost a case of keystone cops.  It seems that the UN can’t keep up with their vehicles.  Several have been stolen and now Reuters is reporting that the United Nations is investigating reports that UN vehicles have been used in suicide bombings that have killed of their own peacekeepers.  So, the UN loses its trucks, the trucks are used in suicide bombings that kill UN peace keepers and now the UN is going to investigate.  I’m sure we can expect an honest report.  After all, this is the same group that ran the oil for food program that was found to be a multi-billion dollar fraud and perhaps an outlying cause of the Iraq war.  It just makes sense that the world should trust that organization to investigate itself and then oversee an international carbon tax effort to curb global warming.

8AM Sunday, good bet for rain

8AM Sunday, good bet for rain

Weather Bottom Line:  Everything is on schedule with an area of low pressure ejecting from the southwest toward the Ohio Valley.  Saturday night into Sunday the system approaches and rain chances go through the roof.  There is a potential for heavy rain through Sunday with a potential for up to two inches of rain, particularly in the western part of the viewing area.  While there will be a number of thunderstorms in the area, the boys at the SPC only give it a 5% probability that anyone will get a severe storm.  But, the potential is there.  However, the severe weather parameters for the GFS and NAM 12z model runs aren’t all that impressive.  Nothing really jumps out huge.  The most interesting thing about the two models is the rain totals.  The NAM puts out just under two inches of rain from late Saturday night through Monday afternoon.  It then adds less than a half inch over the next 36 hours.  The GFS just goes bonkers with over 2 inches of rain from 4am Sunday to 10am Sunday.  Then it keeps the rain coming making for a total of around 3.5 inches through Monday afternoon.  The GFS is curious in that it keeps us dry for much of the week after that.  While rain chances will be the highest for Sunday into Monday, it probably would not be wise for a forecaster to keep it without rain chances for much of the week as a big fat trof will be stuck in the midwest and I would think an consistent flow with a southerly flow ahead of the front side of the trof would be sufficient to provide some instability if not move an errant upper level disturbance.

Very Small Chance for Severe Weather Sunday

Very Small Chance for Severe Weather Sunday

…OH AND TN VALLEYS…
   A BROAD UPPER-LEVEL TROUGH WILL BE IN PLACE ACROSS MUCH OF THE CNTRL
   AND ERN STATES. A SLIGHTLY MORE AMPLIFIED AND NEGATIVLEY TILTED
   SECTION OF THE TROUGH IS FORECAST FROM THE MID-MS VALLEY SEWD ACROSS
   THE GULF COAST STATES. SCATTERED THUNDERSTORMS SHOULD BE ONGOING
   SUNDAY MORNING ALONG AND AHEAD OF THE AXIS OF THE UPPER-LEVEL TROUGH
   WITH STORM COVERAGE INCREASING DURING THE AFTERNOON DUE TO
   DESTABILIZATION. ALTHOUGH…VERTICAL SHEAR PROFILES ACROSS THE
   REGION APPEAR ON THE LOW-SIDE FOR SEVERE STORMS…BOUNDARY LAYER
   FLOW ASSOCAIATED WITH A LOW-LEVEL JET FROM NE MS NWD INTO IND AND OH
   MAY BE ENOUGH FOR A FEW STRONG WIND GUSTS WITH THE MORE PERSISTENT
   LINE-SEGMENTS.
  
   ..BROYLES.. 09/19/2009

US Public Support Gains For War Following Government Cover-Up
May 7, 2008

While Wednesday may produce an errant late day shower, it will generally be a decent day prior to a period of unsettled weather.  Thursday a system approaches that will bring rain and a few t’storms.  Severe chances do not look good.  This will begin a period of a series of upper lows that will move through the flow very close to our region through the weekend.  The timing of these systems will be difficult but at this point, it appears that Friday will be mild and mostly cloudy.  We may get some showers late Friday night.  Saturday looks okay and then Sunday appears to have a good chance for rain.  Then another system shows up by the middle of next week.  Keep in mind that the timing, strength and exact track of these systems may vary the forecast a bit.  Right now, there is nothing in the immediate future that jumps out at me as something that may be a trouble maker.

On This Date In History: On this date in 1896, a notorious serial murderer was hanged.  His name was Herman W. Mudgett and he had secretly built what was called the “murder castle” or the “torture castle” in Chicago.  The events are too gruesome for me to relay.  If you want to read about it, be my guest. Here’s the link below.  The only reason I put this in is to remind you that there have been dangerous nutbags in the past so don’t think that any heinous goofs that are produced today are anything new.

Herman W. Mudgett

 

On this date in 1915, the German submarine U-20 sunk the RMS Lusitania helping to sway American public opinion against Germany and eventually helped lead the US into World War I.  All British shipping was ordered to travel at full speed and in a zig zag pattern as a precaution against German U-Boat activity.  Germany had already declared unrestricted submarine warfare against all shipping in the Atlantic providing munitions or aid toward the allied effort in the war.  The Lustitania was a luxury passenger liner and it was filled with civilians as it ran into fog. The captain slowed the ship and stopped zig zagging.  It was an easy shot for the U-Boat.  Some 1200 went down with the ship including 128 Americans.  The attack resulted in a letter of protest from President Woodrow Wilson.  The Germans claimed the ship was carrying munitions.  The US denied the charge and the American public grew quite angry as passions against the Germans grew.  The sneak attack on perhaps the most luxurious and largest passenger liner at the time created the image of the ruthlessness of the Germans.  That and the later Zimmerman Telegram , in which the Germans proposed that Mexcio attack the US should the Americans enter the war, led to the US entry into the Great War.

Here’s the rub.  The Germans were right.

When the U-20 slammed it’s torpedo into the starboard side of the liner, almost immediately a secondary explosion rocked the ship.  The torpedo explosion probably wouldn’t have sunk the ship but the second explosion caused a huge gash in the hull and the great liner sunk in just 18 minutes.  The story told the American public was that the germans fired several torpedoes.  That was false.  What the people did not know is that the passenger liner was indeed carrying about 128 tons of munitions and supplies for the war effort.

I have yet to read anything in historical annals that say that President Wilson lied.  I suppose he had plausible deniability and historians have given him a pass.