hector brito

In the Southeastern US, the word “bream” tends to be a catchall term applied to any number of sunfish with such varied monikers as “bluegill,” “sun perch,” “shellcrackers,” “warmouth” and, my favorite, “stump knockers.”

These are what one catches when taking kids fishing from the shore or a dock, using crickets or worms as bait. And a fish that weighs three-quarters of a pound is not only good size and puts up a nice fight, it’s excellent eating.

The upper end size-wise for bream is typically 12 inches in length and 2 pounds in weight.

All of which makes Hector Brito’s accomplishment even more amazing.

On Feb. 16, Brito, using a live nightcrawler for bait, landed a 5-pound, 12-ounce shellcracker, also known as a redear sunfish, while fishing in Arizona’s Lake Havasu. Brito’s fish, which appears to be a world record, was 17 inches long, and nearly as wide.

“(He) said he thought it was a catfish,” said John Galbraith, who weighed the fish on a certified scale.

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westerly police department

Urban types tend to stereotype small towns as being boring. No doubt some are but others appear to be hotbeds of interesting activity.

Take Westerly, Rhode Island. The 345-year-old community, located near the border with Connecticut, would appear be positively chock full o’ action.

Earlier this month, for example, one Darrel J. Northup, a Westerly resident, was arraigned yet again in Washington (R.I.) County Superior Court, this time on charges he intentionally rammed his mother’s Kia Optima into a “perceived romantic rival” in Westerly, according to the local newspaper.

Northup, 24, is charged with “felony assault with a dangerous weapon and failure to stop at an accident resulting in personal injury or death” related to the incident, which took place in January, the Westerly Sun reported.

Northup has been behind bars since then after it was learned that he had violated probation related to previous felony charges, including the 2012 assault of a funeral director.

In his latest brush with the law, according to police, Northup ran down William E. Cossia as he left Westerly’s delightfully named drinking and dining establishment The Brazen Hen (which describes itself as an “upscale Irish pub”), where the victim and others employed by Midway Pizza, including Northup’s ex-girlfriend, had gathered for a belated company holiday party.

Witnesses told police Northup drove his mother’s 2011 Kia Optima at Cossia as he stepped off the sidewalk. Cossia was thrown into the air, hit the hood of the car and fell to the ground, according to the Sun.

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Statues of Kim Il Sung and Kim Jong Il on Mansu Hill in Pyongyang

Continuing its decades-long effort to give tyranny a bad name, North Korea has reportedly executed a former senior official by “flamethrower.”

O Sang-hon, a deputy minister at the Ministry of Public Security was recently executed with the incendiary device, a source told South Korea’s Chosun Ilbo newspaper.

The report came amid a crackdown on loyalists of Supreme Leader Kim Jong-un’s purged uncle, Jang Song-taek, according to The Independent.

As many as 11 senior party officials with close ties to Jang have apparently recently been executed or sent to political prison camps.

Jang was publicly purged in December and “executed by machine gun” after being found guilty of corruption and activities that ran counter to the policies of the Workers’ Party of Korea. It has been reported all Jang’s relatives, including his children, were rounded up and executed, as well.

O was executed because he purportedly worked with Jang to turn the ministry into a personal security division to help safeguard business dealings, according to the South Korean publication.

While the execution-by-flamethrower report could not be immediately confirmed, previous executions suggest that the North Korean leadership can be inventive when it comes to ridding itself of those no longer in favor.

“In 2012, a vice minister of the army was executed with a mortar round for reportedly drinking and carousing during the official mourning period after Kim Jong-il’s death in December of the previous year,” according to The Independent.

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Graves-of-the-first-last-British-soldiers-to-die-in-World-War-One-3101586

Several interesting facts stand out in a recent story by the British publication The Independent about the first British death of World War I, that of Pvt. John Parr, a bicycle scout who was killed by German troops in southern Belgium on Aug. 21, 1914:

Even more remarkable is that by the time Parr fell, tens of thousands of Belgian, German, Russian, Austrian and Serbian soldiers had already died, the first wave of death in a struggle that would claim more than 10 million lives.

Perhaps not surprising in a war in which hundreds of thousands of soldiers are still reported as missing in action nearly a century a later, Parr’s family didn’t receive confirmation of his death until after the cessation of hostilities more than four years later.

In fact, for many months, the British Army failed to report that Parr was dead or even missing, according to The Independent.

“His mother, Alice Parr … finally wrote a letter complaining that she had not heard from her son for months. The War Office replied curtly saying that it could not help,” according to the publication. “It was not until after the war that a soldier who had been on the same bicycle scouting mission finally confirmed the time and place of John Parr’s death.”

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treadwell marker

Questions surrounding how officials solved a 150-year mystery and identified the only unknown Confederate soldier buried in the Beaufort National Cemetery have been answered.

Just a few days ago, the Beaufort County (SC) Historical Resources Consortium released information stating that the lone Confederate soldier interred in the Beaufort National Cemetery with a tombstone marked as “unknown” had been identified as Private Haywood Treadwell of Co. G, 61st NC Volunteers.

The Beaufort Gazette followed that announcement with a story Thursday that provided details on how Treadwell, who died in a Union hospital on Sept. 12, 1863, after being wounded at Battery Wagner, was identified.

Investigation into the history of the William Wigg Barnwell House, which served as a Union hospital during the war, led to the North Carolina soldier’s identification. It was learned Treadwell, who had been shot in the right thigh, had been brought to the house after his capture, according to the publication.

Beaufort resident Penelope Holme Parker began researching the William Wigg Barnwell House in 2008 by at the request of owners Conway and Diane Ivy. During the process, Parker discovered that Haywood Treadwell might have been buried anonymously because of a misspelled first name.

“Burial records found in a cardboard box in the basement of the cemetery building in 1991 listed a ‘Heyward Treadwell,’ who died of a gunshot wound to the right thigh on Sept. 12, 1863,” according to the Gazette. “Treadwell was buried in section 53, site 6359 – the site of the unknown soldier’s gravestone, according to the records.”

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ITALY-BRITAIN-FRANCE-CRIME-ART

A trio of thieves apparently didn’t fully hash out details of a 1970 art heist beforehand, when they lifted paintings by Paul Gauguin and Pierre Bonnard from the home of a British couple.

Instead of trying to sell the works – valued today at $50 million – on the black market or to a specific art patron willing to purchase purloined paintings, they dumped the works on a train traveling from Paris to Turin, Italy.

The paintings were never claimed and railway authorities, unaware of the provenance of the masterpieces, put the works up for sale in 1975, when they were purchased at auction by an employee of automobile manufacturer Fiat for $25.

The paintings – Gauguin’s “Still Life of Fruit on a Table With a Small Dog” and Bonnard’s “The Girl With Two Chairs,” hung in the unnamed individual’s kitchen for nearly 40 years in Turin before he took them with him to a retirement home in Sicily.

Recently, the auto worker’s son decided to have the paintings evaluated by an art expert, who realized that the “Still Life” was likely a work by Gauguin, a leading French Post-Impressionist, according to the New York Post.

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unknown

The journalism phrase “burying the lede” refers to the practice of beginning a story, or “lede” paragraph, with details of secondary importance while failing to relate more essential facts until much later in the article.

A more egregious sin would be “skipping the lede.” Take this bit from the Beaufort County (SC) Historical Resources Consortium:

“The only Confederate soldier interred in the Beaufort National Cemetery with a tombstone marked as unknown has been identified. Pvt. Haywood Treadwell of the 61st NC Volunteers, Co. G whose identity emerges after 150 years, will be recognized along with other Confederate soldiers on May 9-10, 2014.”

So far, so good.

The release then goes on to state that the event will include a Friday evening symposium and a Saturday memorial ceremony, with the unveiling of the new gravestone for Treadwell.

In addition, historians will trace the life of Treadwell, a turpentine farmer from Sampson County, NC, who was wounded and captured during the battle for Battery Wagner in Charleston Harbor, and who died in Union Hospital No. 4 in Beaufort and was buried Sept. 12, 1863.

It then adds details on the time and location of the symposium and information about an informal talk on Civil War medical practices, along with details for the following day’s memorial service at Beaufort National Cemetery.

Unmentioned anywhere in the eight-paragraph release are details about how Treadwell’s identify was revealed after more than a century and a half.

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2014-03-24-MarchMadnessClass

The above is the Huffington Post’s attempt at humor. I suppose one has to be squarely in the publication’s readership demographic to find the graphic even remotely humorous.

Forgive me if I have a hard time relating to travails of “tardy housekeepers,” “talkative cabbies” or, alas, “gluten.”

Curmudgeonly sort that I am, the bit comes across as smarmy and irritating, much like the vast majority of those who read the Huffington Post, or, at least, those who post comments on website material.

Smug and self-righteous are two terms that come to mind when reading the rantings of Huff Po regulars. That, and self-important.

As such, perhaps it’s not surprising that the Huff Po’s content is overwhelmingly shallow, narcissistic and materialistic. It’s editorial content possesses the nutritional equivalent of Wonder Bread smeared with marshmallow fluff, and is about as appealing.

William F. Buckley once famously quipped, “I am obliged to confess I should sooner live in a society governed by the first two thousand names in the Boston telephone directory than in a society governed by the two thousand faculty members of Harvard University.”

Likewise, I’d find conversation with 100 readers of The Hockey News infinitely more compelling than that of an equal number of purveyors of Huffington Post. It would certainly be easier to engage in an educated discourse.

March 2014 006

Lancaster’s Old Presbyterian Church retains the simple architectural beauty inherent in many 19th century brick structures.

Constructed in 1862, the Early Gothic Revival-style edifice is believed to have been the first brick church built in South Carolina’s Lancaster County, and its graveyard holds the remains of many of the area’s early prominent residents, in addition to several men who were killed or died during the War Between the States.

The Old Presbyterian Church was constructed on the site of the town’s first Presbyterian church, begun in 1835. The extant church’s walls feature handmade brick, stuccoed and scored to resemble stone.

The church features a Basilican plan, with a gallery along the sides and back of the sanctuary and an arched pulpit apse. Its interior includes hood moldings over the arches, cornice brackets with pendants under the gallery and round wooden columns supporting the gallery.

At the very end of the Civil War, troops under Union Gen. William T. Sherman occupied a large house just up the street and horses were stabled inside the church.

The structure was the house of worship for Lancaster-area Presbyterians until 1926, when the growing congregation moved to a new church on nearby Main Street.

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hungary revolution

While thousands of Nazis were rightly tried for their crimes following World War II, relatively few Communist thugs have ever had to face the music for their actions.

However, a former senior-level Communist Party official went on trial in Hungary this week, charged with his role in the shooting of civilians during protests surrounding the 1956 Hungarian Revolution.

Prosecutors have charged 92-year-old Bela Biszku regarding his role on a committee of the Communist Party they say was involved in ordering the shootings of civilians during protests in Budapest and in the town of Salgotarjan in December 1956, according to Reuters.

The case is important because it may enable Hungary to begin to face up to its communist past, something no former Soviet satellite state has done.

Biszku was one of Hungary’s most powerful leaders in communist times, and he is the first former Communist official to stand trial in the nation.

Biszku, who has previously denied all accusations against him, responded to the judge in a firm voice Tuesday, stating, “I do not wish to testify.”

The 1956 Hungarian Uprising was a spontaneous nationwide revolt against the Soviet-backed government of the People’s Republic of Hungary, lasting more than two weeks, from Oct. 23 through Nov. 10.

The event marked the first major threat to Soviet control since the USSR drove Nazis forces from Eastern Europe at the end of World War II more than a decade earlier.

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