China’s ‘spy’ balloon, (or is it an errant weather balloon?), is currently being tracked across America. Picked up above the Aleutian Islands, it was buzzed by US planes above Montana and is now headed eastwards as it is pushed by the prevailing Jet Stream. The Pentagon has decided not to shoot it down; it does not want debris landing on middle America. China insists the balloon is used for meteorological research and strayed because of bad weather. But the incident has prompted US Secretary of State Antony Blinken to postpone his trip to China that was scheduled for next week.
Was the balloon inspired by Japan’s Emperor Hirohito? Starting in November 1944 the Japanese army sent Fu-Go (Operation Fu) balloon bombs across the Pacific from various sites along the east coast of Japan’s main island of Honshu. The idea was to start forest fires in the northern states of America. During the five-month campaign some 9,300 Fu-go bombs were launched of which about 385 are thought to have made to the US. They carried several 11-lb incendiaries and a 33-lb bomb.
The balloons were made of washi, the beautiful paper from mulberry bushes that Japan still produces today albeit for more artistic purposes. The washi strips were then glued together by Japanese high school girls and the balloons were brought for final assembly at Ryogoku Kokugikan, the sumo wrestling arena in Tokyo.
They were a pathetically inaccurate weapon. The bomb balloons were found as far apart as North Dakota and Hawaii. One reached as far east as Michigan. There were no reports of forest fires despite Japanese propaganda claims. But there were casualties. Elsie Mitchell, the wife of a preacher, was killed along with five young children when they stumbled upon one of the balloon bombs during a picnic in Fremont National Park in Oregon. It is thought that one of the kids kicked it. They died instantly.
However, one of the bombs did significant damage of some strategic importance. By extraordinary luck rather than judgment one of Hirohito’s bombs landed on the power lines that fed the Hanford Engineer Works located in Washington State. This top-secret facility, part of the Manhattan Project, was producing the plutonium later used in Fat Man, the atomic bomb dropped on Nagasaki in August 1945. Fortunately for the US – though perhaps not Japan – the reactors were only shut for three days.
Overall however, Hirohito’s balloons were one of those useless fantasy weapons that Japan used in desperation to turn around its fortunes in the Pacific War. Why, then, might Beijing be turning to balloons in its ongoing tussle with the US? Chinese state media is following the balloon’s flight closely; ‘If balloons from other countries could really enter continental US smoothly, or even enter the sky over certain states, it only proves that the US’s air defence system is completely a decoration and cannot be trusted,’ the paper said.
Whatever is going on, the balloon isn’t a one off: ‘this kind of balloon activity have been observed previously over the past several years,’ the Pentagon said. The current Chinese projectile is the latest episode then in the long history of balloon warfare. They were first used as military signalling devices by chancellor Zhuge Liang, a famous Han dynasty leader in the 3rd Century. He is still celebrated in China’s annual Lantern Festival. In Europe, silk balloons were used in the wars of the French Revolution, though Napoleon did not think much of them and disbanded the specialist balloon brigade in 1799.
Fifty years after that Austrian Hapsburg forces dropped bombs from balloons onto Venice during the First Italian War of Independence. Twelve years later, the Union Army of General Irving McDowell used a balloon for artillery observation at the First Battle of Bull Run; they were frequently used thereafter by both Union and Confederate Forces including engagements at Sharpsburg and Fredericksburg.
Britain used balloons to support Imperial adventures in current day Botswana and the Sudan; 15 year later the British Army used them in the Second Boer War, notably at the Siege of Ladysmith in Natal Province.
Such was the fear of balloons that they were banned in the 1899 Hague Convention’s article IV, ‘Declaration of Projectiles from Balloons’ which stated that ‘the contracting powers agree to prohibit, for a term of five years, the launching of projectiles and explosives from balloons or by other new methods of a similar nature.’ The Convention made a timely bid to future proof bombing from the air. Studies on manned flight were already being circulated, though it was four later, in 1903, that the Wright brother made their first powered flight.
Despite the Hague’s best efforts, the proliferation of balloons, and more importantly military aircraft, doomed the banning of bombing. Only desultory attempts were made thereafter. Bizarrely it was Hitler who tried to ban bombing in a proposal to Britain and France in 1936.
Two years later at a meeting in Hitler’s apartment, it was suggested to Neville Chamberlain the idea of bombing women and children was abhorrent – even though it was Hitler’s Condor Legion, commanded by Wolfram von Richthofen, that bombed the ancient Basque town of Guernica on General Franco’s behalf on 26 April 1937 during the Spanish Civil War. Later, of course, Great Britain had to use blimps to defend London from Hitler’s V2 rockets.
In this bizarre balloon episode, Xi Jinping’s name will now be added to the role call of dastardly leaders who have used their intimidatory power. But don’t expect balloon limitation talks anytime soon.Got something to add? Join the discussion and comment below.
Pleasant Valley put the clamps on another foe Monday afternoon at the girls’ state basketball tournament. The top-ranked Spartans held West Des Moines Valley to 25-percent shooting in a 43-28 Class 5A quarterfinal win. 4 West Des Moines Dowling (20-4) in a semifinal at 11:45 a.m. Thursday. McTaggart coached at City High 24 years, reaching 12 state tournaments, highlighted by a Class 4A championship in 2008. A five-sport athlete and a state track qualifier as a sophomore and junior, Van Utrecht was selected from 81 applicants.28 days ago The Gazette
Third finals appearance the charm for Hortonville's Skebba; Stoffel makes history for Appleton NorthMADISON − Wyatt Skebba didn't flinch Saturday when faced with a final opportunity to secure a state wrestling championship. Stoffel makes history for Appleton NorthJake Stoffel became the first Appleton North wrestler to win a state title following his 5-3 victory over Marshfield's Caleb Dennee in the D1 152 title match. Appleton West's McQuade brothers — Ryan and Shane — were the only Appleton public school state wrestling champs, a list North head coach Scott Clough is happy to see Stoffel join. Nathan said Hailie has been a "great supporter of girls wrestling" in the community. "(Winning a state title) has been my goal the past three years," he said.29 days ago The Post-Crescent
“The Medical Blades Market report aims to provide insight into the industry through detailed market segmentation. Request To Download Sample of This Strategic [email protected] https://globalmarketvision.com/sample_request/180699Key Players Mentioned in the Global Medical Blades Market Research Report:ETCO – Bradenton, Lyons Tool & Die Co., B.A.P. To analyze the Medical Blades Market based on various factors- price analysis, supply chain analysis, Gate Five force analysis, etc. Table of Contents:1 Study Coverage2 Market by Type3 Market by Application4 Global Medical Blades Competitor Landscape by Company5 Global Medical Blades Market Size by Region6 Segment in Region Level & Country Level7 Company Profiles8 Industry Chain and Sales Channels Analysis9 Research Findings and ConclusionConclusion: At the end of Medical Blades Market report, all the findings and estimation are given. Relevant points Highlighted:The report includes an overall business forecast that aims to gain valuable insights into the global Medical Blades Market.29 days ago The Owens Outlook
Buhro takes individual crown as Oak Harbor earns sectional championshipOwen Miller (138 pounds) beat Lakota's Grant Bomer 8-4, Hayden Burhro beat Lakota's Braxton Quantance 3-1 and Bodee Miller (113) beat Port Clinton's Josh Cornell by default in the finals as host Oak Harbor captured a sectional championship Saturday in Division III. Zavier Materni (144) edged Lakota's Cody Biddle 5-4 and Ethan Crawford (215) pinned Lake's Ryan Ranes at 2:40 in the final for the Comets. Jack Caldwell (157) beat Lakota's Case Paul 3-1 in overtime and Eli Wolph (190) topped Lakota's Jon Rosas 13-9 in the finals as Woodmore finished seventh. Woodmore's Michael Seeger (150) pinned Lakota's Ethan Bomer in 2:10 to finish third. Heavyweight Jacob Wetzel pinned Otsego's Adolfo Martinez-Alba in 1:44 to finish third as St. Joseph Central Catholic finished eighth.29 days ago The News-Messenger
Here are Saturday's high school sports resultsCHECK BACK FOR UPDATESWRESTLINGWIAA State ChampionshipsCHAMPIONSHIP MATCHESDIVISION 1106: Liam Neitzel, Hudson major dec. Mycah Beckett, De Pere 12-2. Raegen Krueger had 13 points and nine rebounds, while Kenzie Drout added 12 points and eight assists. Trista Fayta and Gracie Grzesk both scored 16 points to lead Notre Dame. Abby Cole had a game-high 31 points for Winnebago Lutheran, Kiara Shea had 12 points, Lindsey Nell had 12 points and Suri Kuske had 10 points. Griffin Steffel added 16 points while Jack Henschel chipped in 14.1 month ago The Post-Crescent
How Did Jeanna Wilcoxen Die? A resident of Omaha, Nebraska, Jeanna Wilcoxen was just 22 at the time of her murder. Who Killed Jeanna Wilcoxen? Moreover, according to reports, Jeremiah was released from prison on June 28, just a few months before his arrest for grand theft auto. The remark piqued the police’s interest, and once they interrogated him further, he confessed to kidnapping, raping, and murdering Jeanna Wilcoxen.1 month ago The Cinemaholic
Clyde Council to consider citizens raising chickens in town Due to rising egg prices more people are adding chicken coopsCLYDE - A woman's desire to have new pets plus the high cost of eggs have coincidently led Clyde City Council to deal with old livestock legislation and discuss whether citizens can raise chickens in the city. Earlier this week City Council approved an ordinance cleaning up a conflict between livestock legislation — a 1985 ordinance and a 1956 ordinance. Then about that same time a resident attended a council session asking the city to consider allowing chickens in the city. Clyde resident Christie Marie Watkins went to the council meeting on Feb. 21 to ask council to consider allowing chickens to be raised at local homes. Over the years, Clyde has had an assortment of livestock raised at various properties including horses, chickens, and rabbits.1 month ago The News-Messenger
Wilhelm: More on Jacksons, Willow Hill and efforts to share insight into African American history Willow Hill concentrates on African American HistoryDr. Alvin Jackson, who served at the Community Health Services in Fremont in the late 20th century, says the Willow Hill Heritage and Renaissance Center in Bulloch County, Georgia, aims to provide Americans with insight into the values of African American history and culture as related to American history and culture. Today, he said the center focuses on local, state and national African American history, but quickly pointed out “a lot of work is done in genealogy because a lot of African American people have lost contact with their history.” To help people reach into their own history, the center has a collection of more than 18,000 obituaries and is adding to the collection regularly. He continues to practice medicine part time and serves as president of the Georgian African American Historic Preservation Network. The 1988 National History Day Exhibit tells the history of the Willow Hill School won first place in the Junior Division at the National History Day Competition in Washington, D.C. You can learn much more about the Willow Hill Center online.1 month ago The News-Messenger