American Elephants


Worldwide Publicity and Public Outcry + A Little Scientific Input by The Elephant's Child

Charlie-Gard

It appears that worldwide publicity and public outcry have had an effect on the sad case of Great Ormond Street Hospital and the baby Charlie Gard. Seven medical experts have suggested that unpublished data showed therapy could improve the 11-month-old’s brain condition. The High Court said previously that it was unlikely a U.S. doctor offering to treat Charlie would be able to cure him. The Great Ormond Street Hospital has said it would “explore” the data. The case will be heard on Monday by Mr. Justice Francis.

According to the previous High Court ruling GOSH is forbidden from allowing Charlie to be transferred for nucleoside therapy anywhere.

Charlie has mitochondrial depletion syndrome, a rare genetic condition which affects the cells responsible for energy production and respiration and has left him unable to move or breathe without a ventilator.

The parents have raised £1.3 million on a crowdfunding site to pay for the experimental therapy. Public attitudes may have been different if the cost was to be borne by taxpayers, but it has seemed to many that it’s not something for a court to decide if the parents can pay, even if it should prove to be futile. It’s the hospital and the High Court that have so enraged people around the world.



D-Day Through German Eyes by The Elephant's Child

In one of the posts on D-Day on and around June 6th, I came across a review of a new book, or rather 2 books on the German side of D-Day. The books are D-Day Through German Eyes and D-Day Through German Eyes—Book 2, by Holger Eckhertz. The author’s grandfather was a journalist for German news magazines during World War II. In the spring of 1944, prior to D-Day, he toured sections of the so-called Atlantic Wall, including the Normandy beaches, and interviewed soldiers from units in the area. About ten years later, he determined to track down the soldiers he had interviewed or at least someone from their units and interview them again about their experience during the invasion.

The books are apparently available only as E-books, and are in interview format, that is questions and answers—small vignettes of individual soldier’s experiences. The review isn’t long, and includes some surprising bits of information. The Germans did not expect an invasion at the Normandy beaches, the Allies had control of the air right from the beginning. The German troops were third rate troops, generally soldiers that because of a medical or psychiatric condition were no longer regular infantry, but there were also troops who had defected from the Soviets. They were surprised at the physical size of the American and Canadian troops, presumably because of better diet.

Do read the whole thing. It’s surprising and interesting.  It seems that the Germans were working on a thermobaric weapon — I had to look up the unfamiliar term.  A thermobaric weapon is a type of explosive that utilizes oxygen from the surrounding air to generate an intense, high-temperature explosion, and in practice the blast wave of such a weapon produces a typically significantly longer duration than a conventional condensed explosive. The fuel-air bomb is one of the most well-known types of thermobaric weapons. Fortunately, a stray Allied Bomb inadvertently destroyed to development works.



A Word for Our Fellow Members of NATO: by The Elephant's Child

You have heard President Trump saying that the nations of NATO need to step up and meet their commitments. There are 28 member nations in the North Atlantic Treaty Organization who have agreed, as a condition of their membership, to spend at least 2% of their gross domestic product on defense.  That goal was set to include only a small percentage of GDP, and to avoid putting too big a burden on smaller countries.

Only five: The United States 3.61%, Greece 2.38%, Britain 2.21%, Estonia 2.16%, and Poland 2% actually meet that obligation. The other 23 countries do not. They range from France 1.78% down to the bottom five: Canada 0.99%, Slovenia o.94%, Spain o.91%, Belgium 0.85%, and Luxembourg 0.44%. The numbers come from 2016 figures supplied by NATO.

Defense Secretary James Mattis told the assembled Defense Ministers:

I owe it to you all to give you clarity on the political reality in the United States, and to state the fair demand from my country’s people in concrete terms. America will meet its responsibilities, but if your nations do not want to see America moderate its commitment to the alliance, each of your capitals needs to show its support for our common defense.

President Trump’s complaint about NATO would seem to be on solid ground, and Secretary Mattis is direct and simple.  With all the absurd claims and accusations going around, it’s nice to clear that particular one up.



One of the Great Speeches by The Elephant's Child



Remember the Men of D-Day, June 6, 1944 by The Elephant's Child
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Major Werner Pluskat in his bunker overlooking Omaha Beach had heard nothing from his superiors. He was cold, tired and exasperated. He felt isolated. He couldn’t understand why there had been no reports from either regimental or division headquarters. …Once more he swung the artillery glasses over to the left, picked up the dark mass of the Cherbourg peninsula and began another slow sweep of the horizon. The same low banks of mist came into view, the same patches of shimmering moonlight, the same restless white flecked sea.Behind him in the bunker his dog Harras, was stretched out asleep. Nearby,  Captain Ludz Wilkening and Lieutenant Fritz Theen were talking quietly. Pluskat joined them. “Still nothing out there,” he told them.” I’m about to give it up. But he walked back to the aperture and stood looking out as the first streaks of light began to lighten the sky. He decided to make another routine sweep.Wearily, he swung the glasses over to the left again. Slowly he tracked across the horizon. He reached the dead center of the bay. The glasses stopped moving. Pluskat tensed, stared hard.Through the scattering thinning mist the horizon was filling with ships — ships of every size and description, ships that casually maneuvered back and forth as though they had been there for hours. There appeared to be thousands of them. Pluskat stared in frozen disbelief, speechless, moved as he had never been before in his life. At that moment the world of the good soldier Pluskat began falling apart. He says that in those first few moments he knew, calmly and surely, that “this was the end for Germany.”      Cornelius Ryan: The Longest Day



Is It Time for Candles and Teddy Bears or Time For Something More Serious? by The Elephant's Child

During Ariana Grande’s “One Love Manchester” benefit concert for the victims, Katy Perry attempted to say something helpful.

“It’s not easy to always choose love, is it, especially in moments like this… but love conquers fear and love conquers hate, and this love you choose will give you strength, and it’s our greatest power.

There was more, but this gets the gist. No. Love doesn’t conquer all. We have whole governments across the world who cannot speak clearly or accurately about Islamic jihad. We in the West had our wars of religion—an Inquisition, a Reformation, and the American Revolution and Constitution to end the rule of Kings and proclaim in our First Amendment: “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof.” That has not meant that everything has been completely peaceful on the religion front, but it has had an influence round the world. Still, Westerners have become hesitant to criticize any religion in any way, which makes us unprepared for suspicion or attack.

Andrew C. McCarthy is a former assistant U.S. attorney for the Southern District of New York, He led the 1995 terrorism prosecution against Sheikh Omar Abdel Rahman and eleven others who were convicted of the 1993 World Trade Center bombing and of planning a series of attacks against New York City landmarks. He also contributed to the prosecutions of terrorists who bombed U.S. embassies in Kenya and Tanzania. He is a contributing editor of National Review. When he writes about Islam and Sharia Law, you want to pay attention. He has studied deeply.

His article today is especially worth your time and attention. It begins:  “Islamists want to impose sharia law on the West—which means all Islamists are ‘extremists‘ — The Western schizophrenia about radical Islam is on full display in Britain, in the aftermath of the latest jihadist atrocity, the third in just the past three months.”Please read the whole thing.

Our political elites have a hard time with it. They just don’t see immigration, refugees, or illegal immigrants as much of a problem. This is where European countries have been. Only 4% of Congressional Democrats think it’s much of a problem, four times as many Congressional Republicans do, but still only 16%. The American people are far, far more concerned.

After three brutal attacks, British officialdom have suddenly started paying attention. British intelligence agencies have identified 23,000 potential jihadis living in Britain, according to the Times of London on Saturday. Of this ‘pool’ of potential terrorists, 3,000 are suspected of posing an “imminent threat” and are being investigated accordingly. The other 20,000 have been involved with past investigations and are categorized as a “residual risk.

What a dreadful situation. Does it then take three attacks in short order, 22 dead kids, to make people sit up and take notice? Armed policemen are patrolling British streets again. Ramadan seems to be a significant time for attacks. Over at American Thinker, Ed Straker assembled a selection of  comments about Manchester and London Bridge from all over, and a variety of people, to demonstrate the utter vacuity of serious thought.

There isn’t much serious thought going on, especially in our universities. Lots of blather about “hate speech” and race. Suddenly, black students are demanding segregation, separate dorms and facilities, even separate graduation exercises. Students refuse to listen to noted scholars because they have been told that the speakers are racists or bigots or just shouldn’t be listened to, though in every case, students would have deeply benefitted by learning something new. So it isn’t just the language about Islam, it is a matter of language in general.  The problems at our colleges and universities are a matter of inability to identify what is going on or understand what an appropriate response might be.

Everybody is afraid of protesters or boycotts. Businesses don’t want to be known for taking a position that might prompt some adverse attention. On the other hand, some business executives want to be known as prominent  environmentalists, or prominent opponents of fossil fuels, or other hot button issues. Ordinary people have opinions too, and we don’t have to listen to unwanted lectures from those who supposedly want our business.

There are plenty of articles out there proclaiming the end of Europe as we knew it. They have signed their own death warrant by admitting so many “refugees.” They are discovering that the refugees who claimed to be “children” are not only not children but ISIS fighters. (You couldn’t tell?) In some countries like Sweden, so many women are attacked that the government tries to cover up, and they don’t seem to know what to do. They are trying desperately to find the correct pacifying language, to find a way to tamp the trouble down. Is it all too late?



The 242nd Anniversary of “The Shot Heard Round the World” by The Elephant's Child

A little Henry Wadsworth Longfellow for the eighteenth of April. Today is the 242nd anniversary of the “Shot heard round the World.” Teach your children a little history, too many of the snowflakes now in college have apparently never heard of him or his famous ride, nor do they understand why it is a big deal. The kids will not learn about it in school, They are learning that patriotism is racist or at the very least problematic. They will not learn unless you teach them.

Listen, my children, and  you shall hear
Of the midnight ride of Paul Revere,
On the eighteenth of April, in Seventy-five;
Hardly a man is now alive
Who remembers that famous day and year.

He said to his friend,”If the British march
By land or sea from the town tonight,
Hang a lantern aloft in the belfry arch
Of the North Church tower as a signal light—
One if by land, and two, if by sea;
And I on the opposite shore will be,
Ready to ride and spread the alarm
Through every Middlesex village and farm,
For the country folk to be up and to arm.”

Then he said, “Good night!” and with muffled oar
Silently rowed to the Charlestown shore,
Just as the moon rose over the bay,
Where swinging wide at her moorings lay
The Somerset, a British man-of-war:
A phantom ship, with each mast and spar
Across the moon like a prison bar,
And a huge black hulk, that was magnified
By its own reflection in the tide.

Meanwhile, his friend, through alley and street,
Wanders and watches, with eager ears,
Till in the silence around him he hears
The muster of men at the barrack door,
And the measured tread of the grenadiers,
Marching down to their boats on the shore.

Then he climbed to the tower of the Old North Church,
By the wooden stairs, with stealthy tread,
To the belfry-chamber overhead,
And startled the pigeons from their perch
On the somber rafters, that round him made
Masses and moving shapes of shade—
By the trembling ladder, steep and tall,
To the highest window in the wall,
Where he paused to listen and look down
A moment on the roofs of the town,
And the moonlight flowing over all.

Beneath in the churchyard, lay the dead,
In their night-encampment on the hill,
Wrapped in silence so deep and still
That he could hear, like a sentinel’s tread,
The watchful night-wind, as it went
Creeping along from tent to tent,
And seeming to whisper, “All is well!”
A moment only he feels the spell
Of the place and the hour, and the secret dread
Of the lonely belfry and the dead;
For suddenly all his thoughts are bent
On a shadowy something far away,
Where the river widens to meet the bay—
A line of black that bends and floats
On the rising tide, like a bridge of boats.

Meanwhile, impatient to mount and ride,
Booted and spurred, with a heavy stride
On the opposite shore walked Paul Revere.
Now gazed at the landscape far and near.
Then, impetuous, stamped the earth
And turned and tightened his saddle girth:
But mostly he watched with eager search
The belfry tower of the Old North Church,
As it rose above the graves on the hill,
Lonely and spectral and somber and still.

And lo! as he looks, on the belfry’s height
A glimmer, and then a gleam of light!
He springs to the saddle, the bridle he turns,
But lingers and gazes, till full on his sight
A second lamp in the belfry burns!

A hurry of hoofs in a village street,
A shape in the moonlight, a bulk in the dark,
And beneath, from the pebbles, in passing, a spark
Struck out by a steed flying fearless and fleet:
That was all! And yet, through the gloom and the light,
The fate of a nation was riding that night;
And the spark struck out by that steed, in his flight,
Kindled the land into flame with its heat.

He has left the village and mounted the steep,
And beneath him, tranquil and broad and deep,
Is the Mystic, meeting the ocean tides:
And under the alders that skirt its edge,
Now soft on the sand, now loud on the ledge,
Is heard the tramp of his steed as he rides.

It was twelve by the village clock,
When he crossed the bridge into Medford town.
He heard the crowing of the cock,
And the barking of the farmer’s dog,
And felt the damp of the river fog,
That rises after the sun goes down.
It was one by the village clock,
When he galloped into Lexington.
He saw the gilded weathercock
Swim in the moonlight as he passed,
And the meeting-house windows, blank and bare,
Gaze at him with a spectral glare,
As if they already stood aghast
At the bloody work they would look upon.

It was two by the village clock,
When he came to the bridge in Concord town.
He heard the bleating of the flock,
And the twitter of birds among the trees,
And felt the breath of the morning breeze
Blowing over the meadows brown.

And one was safe and asleep in his bed
Who at the bridge would be first to fall,
Who that day would be lying dead,
Pierced by a British musket-ball.

You know the rest.  In the books you have read
How the British Regulars fired and fled—
How the farmers gave them ball for ball,
From behind each fence and farmyard wall,
Chasing the red-coats down the lane,
Then crossing the fields to emerge again
Under the trees at the turn of the road,
And only pausing to fire and load.

So through the night rode Paul Revere;
And so through the night went his cry of alarm
To every Middlesex village and farm—
A cry of defiance and not of fear,
A voice in the darkness, a knock at the door,
And a word that shall echo for evermore!
For, borne on the night-wind of the Past,
Through all our history, to the last,
In the hour of darkness and peril and need,
The people will awaken and listen to hear
The hurrying hoof-beats of that steed,
And the  midnight message of Paul Revere.

(The illustration is from a lovely edition of the poem illustrated by Ted Rand for children or any Longfellow lovers. Copies still available from Amazon at very reasonable  prices) Children love the cadence of the famous lines that capture the sound of a galloping horse.




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