The hits just keep coming against Clive Palmer and the un-Titanic II. Belfast Telegraph reports that CSC Jinling Shipyard in China is now referring all comments about Titanic II to Blue Star Line. The Telegraph follows an earlier story in Daily Mail that Deltamarin was no longer working on the ship design and in fact had suspended work 18 months ago. According to the newspaper:
But although Mr Palmer spent millions on marketing his childhood dream project, including a lavish project launch on USS Intrepid in New York, documents just published by the administrators of a former Palmer company, Queensland Nickel, show that little or no money has been put into the development of Titanic II for over two years. Indeed, the only funds directed towards the project were for offsite storage and IT-related expenses. Last week, Mr Palmer said at a press conference he would have to ask his wife if he could pursue the project in retirement – a statement that suggested he was well aware Titanic II was now a mere pipe dream.
Source: Plans to build replica Titanic all at sea as Oz tycoon Clive Palmer gets cold feet (Belfast Telegraph, 10 May 2016)
It has been a while since we have had a legitimate update about Clive Palmer’s Titanic II. A brief recap might be in order to remind everyone about this project. Amid great fanfare and lots of celebrity meals, Clive Palmer announced in 2012 that he was building a full size replica that would meet all present day safety standards. Firms were contracted for various aspects of planning, testing, and other needed things. Drawings were released and a Chinese shipbuilding firm was to be the its builder.
Then things went very quiet. Nothing was going on at the shipyard, Palmer tried getting Chinese investors aboard, and then he got into a row with the Chinese government. A new launch date of 2018 was announced, investors in Dubai showed interest in licensing Titanic for a major theme destination, and the maiden voyage was shifted from China to Dubai. And now here we are in May 2016 and no construction has yet taken place and no contract to build the ship has been signed. And now we learn from the Daily Mail that a Finnish company Deltamarin, contracted to design the new ship, ceased working with Blue Star back in 2014.
At this point we have no idea how far along Deltamarin was in designing the new ship. They may have done preliminary work and were waiting for Blue Star to commission full scale plans. If they did not commission them, it would be consistent with what we know so far. Palmer likely ran into trouble getting Chinese investors and his row with the Chinese government probably scuttled the ship being built there anyway. His only hope it would seem would be in Dubai these days but whether or not they want to commit to a full scale sailing replica is another matter. My guess is they might be more interested in the Titanic artifact collection that has yet to be sold and awaits a buyer. That would draw in lots of tourists but having a Titanic replica docked nearby could seal the deal. However they might decide to do it themselves without Palmer. Either way, the dream of Titanic II in 2018 looks quite remote at this point.
Robert J. Hopkins was an able seaman on Titanic on that fateful night. He was assigned to lifeboat 13 with Fred Barrett. As the lifeboat reached the water, both he and Barrett had to quickly free it as lifeboat 15 was coming down nearly on top of them. Fortunately a knife was found and the ropes were cut allowing the lifeboat to drift away. After he arrived in New York, he sought assistance from the American Red Cross. There were some statements that were inaccurately attributed to him about possible bribery by Duff Gordon who was in lifeboat 1.
Hopkins was from Belfast and immigrated with his wife to the United States in 1900. They had two sons while living in New York but sadly his wife passed away in 1907. His brought his sons to Liverpool to be raised by the family. At the time he served on Titanic, he was living in Hoboken in New Jersey. He would live the rest of his life there and passed away on 17 November 1943. He was buried in Holy Name Cemetery but it never had a headstone till now. Thanks to the Archdiocese of Newark,Titanic International Society and his descendants,a headstone has been put in place. It will be dedicated on 14 May 2016 and blessed by Bishop John W. Flesey.
[Correction#1: NJ.com originally reported that the dedication/blessing was done last week. In fact it is not scheduled till 14 May 2016. The entry has been updated to reflect this information.]
Titanic hero’s grave in Jersey City to finally get headstone (3 May 2016,nj.com)
Titanic Lifeboat No. 13 (Encyclopedia Titanica)
Robert John Hopkins (Encyclopedia Titanica)
I know others have mentioned this but some clever folks created a full length animation of Titanic sinking in real time. Meaning from start to finish it is 2 hours and 41 minutes. You get to see the ship collide, hear the orders given, and watch the evacuation and sinking. It is a pretty good rendering of Titanic but other experts will have to say if it passes muster or not. So if you have the desire to watch the whole thing, here it is.
Since early 1945, German Chancellor Adolf Hitler and his closest staff had been living in a bunker 55 feet below the chancellery in Berlin. The 18-room bunker was self sufficient with its own electricity and water. Even then it was not comfortable but with Soviet troops threatening to siege Berlin, it was prudent to take cover. Between allied bombings and Soviet infantry moving in, things looked bad. It was clear to many in the German military and those close to Hitler such as Göring and Himmler, that the war was over.
This was not how it was supposed to end for Hitler. He started out in small and obscure group called Deutsche Arbeiterpartie (German Workers Party) that was formed in the aftermath of World War I in Munich. He joined in September 1919 and in 1920 delivered an impassioned speech that the party adopt Twenty-Five Points that would strengthen its purpose and attract new members. It succeeded and the name was changed to National Socialist German Workers Party (NSDAP) or its more common and now infamous acronym Nazi. Fusing nationalism and socialism along with a strong virulent dose of anti-semitism, the party attracted a following. Hitler was a particularly charismatic speaker who knew how to draw in his audience. Members of the old establishment (nobility, wealthy industrialists, and the military) were not won over right away. The Communists* were completely opposed to Hitler as were the worker’s unions.
In 1923 Hitler and the Nazis attempted to seize power in the Beer-Hall Putsch in Munich. It would fail but the headlines it generated would make both Hitler and the Nazi Party well known to all Germans. And it taught a young Hitler an important lesson about taking power. He learned that taking power by direct action would not work and changed the focus to winning elections. And most importantly gaining support of wealthy industrialists and members of the old aristocracy. By 1930 the Nazi Party was now a major party and gaining followers. The September 1930 elections saw them gain 107 out of 577 seats in the Reichstag. In the presidential election of 1932, Hitler received 13.7 million votes for president. Hindenburg still won but the Nazi Party was gaining momentum. In July they gained 230 out of 680 seats in the Reichstag but the November elections saw them lose seats (34). Since the center and right parties still had the majority, only a coalition government could be formed. The Communists, by contrast, had gained seats in that election.
Hitler, after negotiations with other right and center parties and gaining key support from industrialists and military, would become Chancellor on 30 Jan 1933. The die was now cast with the Nazi Party now in command. Hitler and the party would quickly reorganize government so that every facet was under their control from newspapers to labor unions. Jews would be dismissed from all government positions, all non-state schools closed (that included religious schools and ones that trained for the priesthood), the formation of the Gestapo and much more would take place. In a rigged election in November, an astonishing 93 percent of the vote was cast for the Nazi Party. After the death of President von Hindenburg in 1934, Hitler would declare himself Fuehrer in accordance with the Fuehrer Prinzip outlined in Mein Kampf. Democracy, what little of it was left in Germany at this time, was kaput. He was now the ruler of Germany and everything flowed from top to bottom. For the next decade Germany would be built up ready to take what it wanted from the West. Hitler learned the leaders of Great Britain and France were so afraid of another general war they would do just about anything to avoid it. Which is why he was so successful in getting key concessions without any fighting at all. Eventually after his annexation of Austria and his threats on Poland spurred Britain and France to draw the line. But it was too late. And the French failed to act when the German army was in the east invading Poland. The rest, as they say, is history.
Germany would conquer its share of Poland (the other half was under Soviet control). Then would pivot west and take all of Western Europe above Spain to Sweden. At one point Germany ruled completely from the Atlantic to the borders of Russia. It sought to take control of North Africa. With Franco in Spain, Mussolini in Italy, and Hitler in Germany, most of Europe would be under authoritarian rule. Only Switzerland as a neutral state remained free as did Sweden. Germany would invade the Soviet Union in 1941 and declare war on the U.S. after Japan bombed Pearl Harbor. At the early stage it was believed they would defeat Stalin and focus all of their energies to prevent the allies any success. And many believed Hitler would win it and negotiate a grand peace in the end. However the invasion that took place on 6 June 1944 would make many Germans realize that things had changed for the worse. And by May 1945,most of Europe had been liberated from German rule. Italy had been liberated by the allies and Mussolini dead. The Soviet Union suffered terribly under the German occupation and now were getting their revenge. Stalin had hoped Hitler would bring about the ruin of the west. It did not work out that way but the Soviet Union would dominate Poland, the Balkan States, and Central Europe for a very long time afterwards.
Hitler would commit suicide with his new wife (and former mistress) Eva Braun. They poisoned themselves and their dogs. Hitler would shoot himself to make sure he would not be captured alive. Their bodies would be cremated and on 8 May 1945 Germany would unconditionally surrender. So ended the life of one Adolf Hitler, former painter, soldier, and eventually the leader of one of the most ruthless states ever created. The six million victims of the fanatical desire to eliminate Jews stand testament to the evil that man can create. His book, Mein Kampf, sadly though is gaining new popularity primarily in the bookstores in Turkey and the Middle East. And inspiring new evils.
*Although opposed to Hitler and Nazi Party, the German Communist Party was ordered by Stalin to stand down in opposing Hitler. Stalin believed Hitler’s war with the West would so damage them they would be ripe for invasion. This led him into believing that a pact with Germany dividing up Poland would give Hitler the free hand he needed to war with the West. He totally misunderstood Hitler and was caught unprepared when Germany invaded in 1941.
Allen, William Sheridan. The Nazi Seizure of Power: The Experience of a Single German Town, 1922-1945. Brattleboro, VT:Echo Point Books. 2014
Engleman, Bernt. In Hitler’s Germany. New York: Schocken Books. 1986.
Shirer, William L. The Rise and Fall of the Third Reich. New York: Simon & Schuster. 1960.
Snyder, Lewis L. Encyclopedia of the Third Reich. New York: Marley & Company. 1976.
Raccoons are a very hearty breed. Omnivorous and generally nocturnal (though not always, it depends upon other factors such as food and predators). They exist in rural and most importantly these days in cities. Apparently Toronto is considered to have the greatest number of raccoons in North America. And they migrate as well. Raccoons are highly adaptable to new environments. While they started out in marshy and wooded areas, they now live in cities and towns as well. They have even shown up in Alaska. While they started out as native to North America, they are now also showing up in Europe, Caucasia, and Japan.
Urban raccoons (like their counterparts in rural areas)are considered very clever. Unlike their rural counterparts, they are not afraid of humans and wander freely around our areas. And they are often see them feeding from our garbage. Those who grow fruit do not like raccoons much as they will climb the trees to eat the fruit. Growers of sweet corn also have to take precautions as do those who have hen houses as they will break in to eat the eggs. Likewise if you have a nice pond in your courtyard stocked with some beautiful koi, you might want to invest in a protective cover or a raccoon will likely have a nice meal.
But the greatest danger to humans comes from something else: rabies. They can spread the disease to humans through their saliva and bites. Feeding wild animals is always a risky proposition, even for those trained to do it. Keeping all this in mind, one wonders why someone would think it wise to feed a raccoon by hand. It is one thing to give them food in a bowl (which is discouraged because they might get dependent on a human and stop seeking food on their own)but to offer it out of your hand is stupid and foolish (look up those words, they do have separate meanings). So here is a YouTube video of someone who did just that. The accompanying news story is at UPI.
On 27 April 1865 the steamboat Sultana carrying recently released Union army prisoners of war exploded on the Mississippi River resulting in 1800 deaths. It is regarded as one of the worst maritime disasters in U.S. history.
The steamboat was already in dire need of repairs before it departed on 24 April from Vicksberg, Mississippi. Sultana’s captain and part owner, J. Cass Mason, was told a proper repair would take days. However the War Department was paying $5 for every enlisted man and $10 for each officer. Not wanting to miss a big payday, Mason ordered temporary patches and filled the steamboat with as many officers and enlisted that he could. Thanks to a corrupt Union Army quartermaster, 2,400 enlisted and officers were steered to a ship that was rated to carry only 376. Its decks began to sag and needed reinforcement before it departed for Cairo, Illinois its final destination.
After unloading cargo in Memphis, Tennessee the Sultana appeared top heavy. The boilers were forced to work hard against the current and swollen Mississippi River. Sometime around 0200 on 27 April three boilers exploded instantly killing many. The explosion caused massive holes and flaming debris that included hot coal that came raining down back on the ship. The Sultana erupted into flames. Frantic Union Army soldiers jumped overboard but many were weakened by being prisoners of war. Some clung to debris, and so many clamored to get on a lifeboat after it was lowered that it sank. Bodies would be found far down river and in trees.
Sadly other historical events, such as the surrender of Confederate General Joseph Johnston and the capture of John Wilkes Booth pushed this news story aside. It never got the attention it should have.
While overcrowding and corruption are considered the reasons for the disaster, some claim sabotage by Confederate agents using a coal torpedo. Some evidence, such as testimony of eyewitnesses, suggests its possibility. However more recent examinations such as done on History Detectives shows it more likely a disaster caused by overloading a ship that was already in dire need of repair.
1. Christopher Klein, The Forgotten History of America’s Titanic 150 Years Ago,History.com,27 April 2015.
2. Sultana (Wikipedia)
3. Stephen Ambrose, Remembering Sultana, National Geographic, NationalGeographic.com, 1 May 2001.
4. Sultana Disaster, Tennessee State Library and Archives: Disasters in Tennessee, www.tn.gov
Sorry folks not posting for a while. I have been quite busy on several projects. So lets get down to it.
1. Harland & Wolff never christened the ships they built but they did offer selected VIP’s the opportunity to watch the launch. Which is how Charlotte Irwin, a secretary for Harland & Wolff, got one to see Titanic’s launch. It was recently auctioned off by Henry Aldridge and Son (who ought to trademark the title “official auctioneer for Titanic memorabilia” considering how much they have auctioned off over the years)for £15,000 ($21,860). That figure exceeded the estimate of between £6,000-£10,000. A sextant owned by RMS Carpathia captain Arthur Rostron also was also auctioned off fetching £66,000 ($96,200).
NI Secretary’s Souvenir Of Titanic Launch Day Sells For £15k At Auction(26 April 2016,Belfast Telegraph)
Sextant Used In Titanic Rescue Sells For £66,000 At Auction(24 April 2016,BBC News)
2. A new book by Robert P Thompson delves into the Nazi propaganda Titanic movie. The movie was an attempt to take the story and show how a corrupt and decadent British government allowed the tragedy too happen. It was of course meant to show the superiority of the Nazi ideology over that of the British. The movie cost was extravagant and the resources it tied up caused problems as well. Add to it a director who insulted a war hero, arrested, and then was hung in his prison cell. The movie was a disaster and not shown in Germany during the war (although it was shown in occupied countries).
Thompson, Robert P. The Nazi Titanic: The Incredible Untold Story of a Doomed Ship in World War II. Boston,MA:De Capo Press,2016
3. Wallace Hartley and all the musicians aboard Titanic were not employees of White Star Line. Although they were required to submit to Captain Smith’s authority,the worked for CW & FN, a music agency. According to a recently unearthed letter, Hartley complained that he and his fellow musicians were not given time off between voyages. After disembarking the Mauretania on 8 April 1912, the agency ordered that he and his fellow musicians would go to Titanic. Hartley notes in the letter to his parents that the agency had “rather vindictive spirit.” The letter is set to be auctioned off for £25,000.
Source:Titanic Band Leader Kept On Ship By ‘Vindictive’ Bosses(22 April 2016,Herald.ie)
(Note: Due to National Newspapers of Ireland (NNI) policy to license hyperlinks outside of personal use, no hyperlink is provided.)
4. Recovery of Titanic victims was a grim affair by all accounts. Bodies were found were found weeks and even several months after the sinking. One such event was on 13 May 1912 when the RMS Oceanic found a collapsible boat containing three bodies. It was later identified as Collapsible Boat A, which was washed over the side as Titanic sank. 30 people climbed aboard though many passed away from the cold before being transferred to another lifeboat. Two of the bodies appeared to be fireman from the engine room. The third body was well dressed in a dinner jacket and identified as first class passenger Thomson Beattie. All three bodies were buried at sea and Beattie’s family was notified. At the family plot in Fergus, Ontario his name is engraved on a tombstone.
1. Gruesome Truth Behind The Tragic Victims Found On Titanic’s Last Lifeboat(19 April 2016,Daily Mirror)
2. Thomson Beattie Encyclopedia Titanica