Recalling the Schleswig-Holstein

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It’s interesting that the first shots of World War II, which featured tactical and technological advances practically undreamed of even a decade before, were fired by an obsolete warship that was fortunate to have survived the First World War.

The German battleship Schleswig-Holstein sailed to Danzig at the end of August 1939 under the pretext of a courtesy visit and anchored in the channel near Westerplatte. At 4:45 a.m. on Sept. 1 1939, she began to fire at the Polish garrison there.

Following the capitulation of Westerplatte, Schleswig-Holstein battered Gdynia, Kepa Oksywksa, and the Hel Peninsula.

The bombardment of Westerplatte by Schleswig-Holstein marked the first action in the conflict which introduced such advances as Blitzkrieg, or lightning war, rocket bombs, jet fighters and the atomic bomb.

But the fact was, the ship was one of five pre-dreadnought battleships, built in 1908. Schleswig-Holstein fought in World War I at the Battle of Jutland, where she was hit by British fire.

After the war, she was one of six obsolete battleships Germany was permitted to keep, escaping the fate of much of the rest of the German fleet, which was scuttled at Scapa Flow in 1919.

From 1926 to 1935 she was the flagship of the German navy. In 1936 Schleswig-Holstein was converted into a training ship, according to Wikipedia.

In April 1940, Schleswig-Holstein took part in the occupation of Denmark, and then served again as a training ship from 1941 to 1944.

In September 1944 she returned to service as an anti-aircraft ship. On 19 December 1944, in Gdynia, she was struck by three bombs dropped by British planes, caught fire and sank in 39 feet of water. The ship was further damaged by her crew with scuttling charges in March, 1945.

After World War II, she was raised by the Soviet Union and towed to Tallinn where she may have been renamed Borodino, according to Wikipedia.

She was scuttled near Osmussaar Island in the Baltic Sea in 1948 and used as a target ship until the 1960s. The remains of the ship still exist and the site has been protected by the Estonian National Heritage Board as a historic shipwreck since 2006.

(Hat tip: New Wars)

SC’s switchgrass dreams a dead end

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One has to wonder if US Rep. Jim Clyburn actually believes all the foolishness he’s spouting about fossil fuel alternatives or if he’s just carrying water for special interest groups?

Earlier this week at a climate change conference at SC State University, Clyburn sang the praises of converting switchgrass to ethanol in an effort to decrease America’s dependence on foreign oil. 

“(Clyburn) believes the state can play a unique role in shifting America away from its dependence on foreign oil,” according to The Orangeburg Times and Democrat.“Clyburn says alternative sources of energy are abundant but untapped in the Palmetto State. He said the switchgrass that grows plentifully along South Carolina’s interstate system is being turned into ethanol in states like Minnesota and South Dakota.”

“’What do we do? We mow it down and leave it to die,’” he said, adding that sugar cane may be another “vital source for producing ethanol as well.”

Ignoring the reality that South Carolina doesn’t have a long enough growing season to make sugar cane ethanol economically feasible, let’s ponder Clyburn’s switchgrass dreams.

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FDIC insurance fund running low

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The coffers of the Federal Deposit Insurance Corp., the government agency that guarantees you won’t lose your money in a bank failure, have been so depleted by the wave collapsing financial institutions that analysts warn it could sink into the red by the end of this year.

That has happened only once before – during the savings-and-loan crisis of the early 1990s, when the FDIC was forced to borrow $15 billion from the Treasury and repay it later with interest, according to The Associated Press.

Small and mid-size banks across the country have been hurt by rising loan defaults in the recession. When they fail, the FDIC is responsible for making sure depositors don’t lose a cent.

So far this year, 84 banks have failed, compared with just 25 last year – and only three in 2007. Hundreds more banks are expected to fall in coming years because of souring loans for commercial real estate.

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