LAS VEGAS (Reuters) – The Las Vegas gunman who killed 58 people and himself in the deadliest mass shooting in modern U.S. history stockpiled weapons and ammunition over decades, and meticulously planned the attack, authorities believe.

Stephen Paddock, 64, may also have looked into the possibility of carrying out an attack in Chicago or Boston, media reports said on Thursday.

Investigators probing Sunday night’s shooting were still baffled by Paddock’s motives.

“What we know is that Stephen Paddock is a man who spent decades acquiring weapons and ammo and living a secret life, much of which will never be fully understood,” Clark County Sheriff Joseph Lombardo told reporters on Wednesday night.

Lombardo said he found it hard to believe that the arsenal of weapons, ammunition and explosives recovered by police in their investigation could have been assembled by Paddock completely on his own, adding he might have had help at some point.

Before the Las Vegas attack, Paddock booked rooms in a Chicago hotel that overlooked the site of the August Lollapalooza music festival, USA Today reported on Thursday, citing an unnamed law enforcement official. It was unclear if Paddock ever used the room or was in Chicago during the festival, the newspaper quoted the official as saying. (Graphics on ‘Las Vegas attack’ – here)

He also researched locations in Boston, NBC reported, citing multiple law enforcement sources.

Police in Boston and Chicago said they were aware of the reports and investigating them.

Some 489 people were also injured when Paddock strafed an outdoor concert with gunfire from a 32nd-floor hotel suite on the Las Vegas Strip. He then killed himself.

Police recovered nearly 50 firearms from three locations they searched, nearly half of them from the hotel suite. Officials said 12 of the rifles there were fitted with bump stocks, allowing the guns to be fired almost as though they were automatic weapons.

GUN DEBATE

Like other recent mass shootings, the incident stirred the debate in Washington over regulating firearm ownership, which is protected by the Second Amendment of the U.S. Constitution.

Stephen Paddock, 64, the gunman who attacked the Route 91 Harvest music festival in a mass shooting in Las Vegas, is seen in an undated social media photo obtained by Reuters on October 3, 2017. Social media/Handout via REUTERS

Republicans, who currently control the White House and both chambers of Congress, have fought off Democratic calls for stricter background checks or federal limits on magazine size following past mass shootings.

But congressional Republicans said they would be willing to investigate the bump stocks that allow legal semiautomatic rifles to function similarly to fully automatic weapons, which are largely illegal in the United States.

Investigators were examining the possibility that Paddock’s purchase of over 30 guns in October 2016 may have been precipitated by some event in his life, Lombardo said.

The Federal Bureau of Investigation said on Wednesday there remained no evidence indicating the shooting spree was an act of terrorism.

Slideshow (10 Images)

Paddock’s girlfriend, Marilou Danley, was questioned by the FBI on Wednesday and said in a statement she had been unaware of Paddock’s plans.

“He never said anything to me or took any action that I was aware of that I understood in any way to be a warning that something horrible like this was going to happen,” Danley, 62, said in the statement released by her lawyer, Matt Lombard.

Danley, who returned late Tuesday from a family visit to the Philippines, is regarded by investigators as a “person of interest.” Lombard said his client was cooperating fully with authorities.

An FBI official in Las Vegas said no one has been taken into custody.

An Australian citizen of Filipino heritage, Danley said she flew back to the United States voluntarily “because I know that the FBI and Las Vegas Police Department wanted to talk to me, and I wanted to talk to them.”

Danley shared Paddock’s home at a retirement community in Mesquite, Nevada, northeast of Las Vegas, before traveling to the Philippines in mid-September.

Investigators questioned her about Paddock’s weapons purchases, a $100,000 wire transfer to a Philippine bank that appeared to be intended for her, and whether she saw any changes in his behavior before she left the United States.

Danley said Paddock had bought her an airline ticket to visit her family and wired her money to purchase property there, leading her to worry he might be planning to break up with her.

Discerning Paddock’s motive has proven especially baffling as he had no criminal record, no known history of mental illness and no outward signs of social disaffection, political discontent or extremist ideology, police said.

Additional reporting by Lisa Girion in Las Vegas, Chris Kenning in Chicago, Karen Freifeld and Jonathan Allen in New York, and John Walcott and Mark Hosenball in Washington; Writing by Scott Malone; Editing by Frances Kerry and Jonathan Oatis

Our Standards:The Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.

Tougher gun laws, please

In view of the worst mass shooting in USA history, please Republican Congress and Republican President Trump, if you’re not at least trying to fix this, you’re effectively telling the country in your lack of action that this somehow is acceptable.

As John Mayer said, “This is a fact of modern day life that from time to time we’ll lose dozens of people in seconds? That daily life is a lottery system?”

The Republicans want people with mental issues to be able to buy guns and they want anyone to be able to buy silencers for those guns. Why is that, so people can’t tell the directions of the shooter? So more people will die?

The country is being held hostage by the NRA. The Republican thoughts and prayers have become a cliche.

Marian Hughes

Waimea

Limit high power weapons

I am saddened by the recent massacre in Las Vegas. Collectively, we must mourn and pray for the families affected by this senseless, horrific act.

However, we cannot just allow this to pass as “yesterday’s news.” We must take a proactive approach to eliminate this type of senseless violence. Law enforcement agencies can pontificate why this gunman did what he did, but at the end of the day, all we are doing is giving him his “15 minutes of fame.”

I have friends and family who own guns. That choice is their Second Amendment right. The fact remains that there is no need for semi-automatic and automatic weapons in the hands of private citizens. Owning a gun for sport or protection doesn’t require a 100-bullet round that can go off in a minute or two.

Please support federal laws to eliminate the private ownership of these types of weapons. Contact our state senators and let your position be known before it happens again in a different venue. Call Sen. Brian Schatz at (202) 224-3934 or www.schatz.senate.gov/ and Sen. Mazie Hirono at (202) 224-6361 or www.hirono.senate.gov/

Greg Colden

Kona

Outside the box doc fix

After reading last week’s article on Hawaii’s doctor shortages, and thinking outside of the box, I may have an easy, albeit expensive, fix to this problem.

To recruit good doctors we (the state and counties of Hawaii) must think outside of the box and incentivize them to come here.

How about this (all of which could be modified):

1. Waive state income tax

2. Pay relocation costs

3. Offer interest free housing loans

4. Pay for malpractice insurance

5. Pay “X” percentage a year of/on their student loans (10 percent after 10 years they are debt free)

6. Match a percentage of their contribution to a 401K

There could also be a “time in service-repayment” clause to insure that we taxpayers are repaid in the event they decide to leave Hawaii.

All of the above could also be expanded, in one way or the other, to our current doctors.

As mentioned above, YES this will be expensive, but what is the “real” cost of a doctor shortage? Like our Kona water shortage – we must think outside of the box to fix this/these problem(s).

Tony Poggi

Kailua-Kona

In the tenth instalment of the Open Secrets series, ‘Declassified: Apartheid Profits’ we take a look at how a former United States Senator sought to become a paid apartheid propagandist, and how the apartheid state and businessmen bought into his plan. This article is drawn from the research for the book Apartheid Guns and Money: A Tale of Profit.

As Bell Pottinger has shown us, ‘reputation management’ often has a darker side. Repressive and reprehensible regimes and conmen almost always need the support of Public Relations firms to help them clean up their image – the Guptas, Chilean dictator Augusto Pinochet and the Assad family in Syria have all used their services. In return for spreading misinformation and deception, PR firms and consultants profit handsomely.

Unsurprisingly, the apartheid government was one such repressive regime willing to splash cash on propaganda. International image consultants like Bell Pottinger have played a role in South African politics long before the Guptas became a household name.

The United States under Ronald Reagan offered fruitful possibilities for apartheid spies and arms dealers to strike back-room deals with Conservative Groups. We turn to these relationships next week. Public Relations allies were often less clandestine and while some were fringe racists, many were old Washington DC operators from both sides of the political isle. These DC insiders, including Senators and diplomats, were the apartheid government’s guns for hire in an information war.

In August 1985, the South African embassy in Washington DC was approached by former Democratic Senator of Florida, Richard Stone. Stone was strongly anti-communist, and following his stint as a Senator was a Reagan appointed diplomat in Central America. In exchange for a hefty fee, Stone offered the South Africans a propaganda deal disguised as “a program of public diplomacy.”

His plan of action included diverting “media attention away from sceptical treatment of reform efforts” made by the apartheid regime. Instead, he offered to “focus media attention on the violent and radical nature” of the ANC. His offer put in motion years of back and forth with the apartheid government and prominent South Africa businessmen. These top secret foreign affairs documents reveal how unscrupulous lobbyists such as Stone saw profitable business opportunities in disguising repression.

To prove he was up for the job, Stone boasted to the South Africans about his public diplomacy work with José Naploéon Duarte’s repressive regime in El Salvador. In a memo labelled ‘top secret’, the South African embassy reported that Stone had been so successful in EL Salvador that “Duarte’s government is able to fight and win the war against the guerillas unhindered by American media attention.”

This was was not the only bloody item listed on Stone’s CV. From 1981-2, Stone had worked as a paid lobbyist for Fernando Lucas García’s right-wing Guatamalan government who had come to power through a 1978 coup. García’s regime, armed in part by Reagan’s government, was responsible for killing tens of thousands of their citizens, most of whom were indigenous Mayans. This background made Stone an obvious choice for Reagan’s special envoy to Central America in 1983. His role in the region was providing support for right-wing groups who were staunchly anti-communist and more often than not guilty of a littany of human rights abuses.

Stone must have been pretty convincing, because before long plans were being made for him to visit South Africa. In a secret memo to the South African Department of Foreign affairs on 28th of February 1986, arrangements were made to put Stone “in touch with selected business and government leaders” in South Africa to “discuss the feasability of his proposal.”

Stone had stressed the importance of making contact with the South African business community. This was part of his plan to set up a pro-apartheid lobby organisation that could give the appearance of being ‘independent’ from the apartheid state. The proposal suggested that the group should be led by South African business leaders as they “possess the necessary legitimacy” and would create “perceived independence” from both the US and South African governments. The proposed organisation would be called the “Coalition for Reform in South Africa” with its headquarters in the American capital.

Not all the interactions were plain sailing though. Stone’s initial fee was a staggering $50 million, which had the South Africans taken aback. By April 1986 he had agreed to reduce it to $1,2 million. This discrepency led to suspicion among the South African business elite who had shown interest in the deal. This group of business leaders had initially expressed “interest in contributing to an independent pro-South Africa lobbying group”, like the one imagined by Stone.

According to official documents in October 1985 many of those in this elite group had visited Washington DC. Included in this group of prominent South African industrialists were PG Glass’s Bertie and Ronnie Lubner; Eric Samson of Macsteel, Bennie Slome from the Tedelex Group and Graham Beck, whose range of business interests included coal mining, but is better known for the wine label that still carries his name.

To understand their willingness to help improve South Africa’s image abroad, bear in mind that the mid-1980s saw a debt crisis fuelled by political unrest and an increasingly successful and well organised international anti-apartheid movement. Stone’s proposal also followed just two months after PW Botha’s infamous Rubicon speech where he appeared to double down on the status quo and spurn anticipated reforms. Hence, when Stone proposed to help mitigate the negative perceptions of apartheid abroad, there was much interest from business leaders who were threatened by the instability of the moment.

Arrangements were made for Stone to visit South Africa in 1986 so that both Pik Botha, then minister of foreign affairs, and prominent business leaders could meet him and evaluate his “proposals comprehensively and critically.” Among the businessmen identified by the government “who are prepared to be involved in helpful initiatives” were Harry Oppenheimer, Basil Hersov, Donald Gordan (Liberty Life), Albert Wessels (Toyota) and Johann Rupert. The backdrop to this campaign was the imminent passing of anti-sanctions legisation in the USA. Stone’s role was likened to that played by Swiss banker, Fritz Leutwiler, who had acted as an intemediary between the apartheid state and Swiss banks.

Whether Stone’s proposal was ever put into place is unconfirmed. When contacted by Open Secrets for the book Apartheid Guns and Money to comment on the details of his intended trip, Stone deflected by talking about South Africa as if he had only ever been there on safari. “I recall going to South Africa and looking at a lot of wild animals” Stone said over the phone, “It was an impressive sight.” A convenient loss of memory for the lobbyist. However, what the plans do reveal is Stone’s willingness to protect repression from public scrutiny for the right price. By doing so, he became part of the machinery that helped to keep apartheid living far beyond its years.

Today, the fight over ‘state capture’ has reached a fever pitch and includes an information battle in which paid lobbyists and certain media outlets play a significant role. The public have witnessed disinformation, misdirection and propaganda, not unlike apartheid’s hired guns in Washington DC. The driving motive for the spin doctors, hired guns for the venal and corrupt, remains profit. This is regardless of what the consequences are for the people of South Africa. These spin doctors spread lies and fake news in defence of the indefensible. Where they are the most prolific, as we have seen during white nationalist rule under apartheid, they represent clients who neither support rational arguments nor enjoy the support of the majority of people they claim to represent.

Open Secrets is an independent non-profit with a mission to promote private sector accountability for economic crime and related human rights violations in Southern Africa. www.opensecrets.org.za

** Apartheid Guns and Money: A Tale of Profit by Hennie van Vuuren is published by Jacana Media

Read previous articles in the News24 ‘Declassified: Apartheid Profits’ series:

#Declassified: Apartheid profits – who funded the National Party?

#Declassified: Apartheid profits – the tap root of the National Party

#Declassified: Apartheid profits – the sanctions busters toolkit

#Decalssified: Apartheid Profits – Nuclear bunkers and Swiss bankers

#Declassified: Apartheid Profits – André Vlerick, Banker and Bigot

#Declassified: Apartheid Profits – Inside the Arms Money Machine

#Declassified: Apartheid Profits – Pretoria’s Beehive in Paris

#Declassified: Apartheid Profits – Who Killed Dulcie September?

#Declassified: Apartheid Profits – Behind the Iron Curtain

MESQUITE, Nev. — Stephen Paddock lived in a tidy Nevada retirement community where the amenities include golf, tennis and bocce. He was a wealthy real-estate investor, recently shipped his 90-year-old mother a walker and liked to play high-stakes video poker in Las Vegas.

Nothing in his background suggests why he would have been on the 32nd floor of the Mandalay Bay Hotel and Casino with at least 17 guns on Sunday night, raining an unparalleled slaughter upon an outdoor country music festival below.

Law enforcement and family members could not explain what would motivate a one-time accountant with no known criminal record to inflict so much carnage. Paddock had apparently planned the attack in great detail, including showing up at the hotel with at least 10 suitcases.

“I can’t even make something up,” his bewildered brother, Eric Paddock, told reporters Monday. “There’s just nothing.”

At least 59 people were killed and nearly 530 injured in Paddock’s attack on the Route 91 Harvest Festival, where country music star Jason Aldean was performing for more than 22,000 fans. It was the worst mass shooting in modern U.S. history. The 64-year-old gunman killed himself in the hotel room before authorities arrived.

The Islamic State group claimed responsibility, without offering evidence, but Aaron Rouse, the FBI agent in charge in Las Vegas, said investigators saw no connection to international terrorism.

Asked about a potential motive, Sheriff Joseph Lombardo said he could not “get into the mind of a psychopath at this point.”

Public records offered no hint of financial distress or criminal history, though multiple people who knew him said he was a big gambler.

“No affiliation, no religion, no politics. He never cared about any of that stuff,” Eric Paddock said as he alternately wept and shouted. “He was a guy who had money. He went on cruises and gambled.”

Eric Paddock also told The Associated Press that he had not talked to his brother in six months and last heard from him when Stephen checked in briefly by text message after Hurricane Irma.

Their mother spoke with him about two weeks ago, and when he found out recently that she needed a walker, he sent her one, Eric Paddock said.

Eric Paddock recalled receiving a recent text from his brother showing “a picture that he won $40,000 on a slot machine. But that’s the way he played.”

He described his brother as a multimillionaire and said they had business dealings and owned property together. He said he was not aware that his brother had gambling debts.

“He had substantial wealth. He’d tell me when he’d win. He’d grouse when he’d lost. He never said he’d lost $4 million or something. I think he would have told me.”

Heavily armed police searched Paddock’s home Monday in Mesquite, about 80 miles northeast of Las Vegas near the Arizona border, looking for clues. Paddock lived there with his 62-year-old girlfriend, who authorities said was out of the country when the shooting happened. Eric Paddock described her as kindly and said she sometimes sent cookies to his mother.

Police also searched a two-bedroom home Paddock owned in a retirement community in Reno, 500 miles from Mesquite.

So far, Paddock doesn’t seem like a typical mass murderer, said Clint Van Zandt, a former FBI hostage negotiator and supervisor in the bureau’s behavioural science unit. Paddock is much older than the typical shooter and was not known to be suffering from a mental illness.

“My challenge is, I don’t see any of the classic indicators, so far, that would suggest, ’OK, he’s on the road either to suicide or homicide or both,” Van Zandt said.

Nevertheless, his actions suggest that he had planned the attacks for at least a period of days.

Some of the rifles had scopes, the sheriff said. And authorities found two gun stocks that could have let him modify weapons to make them fully automatic, according to two U.S. officials briefed by law enforcement who spoke on condition of anonymity because the investigation is still unfolding.

“He knew what he wanted to do. He knew how he was going to do it, and it doesn’t seem like he had any kind of escape plan at all,” Van Zandt said.

While Stephen Paddock appeared to have no criminal history, his father was a notorious bank robber, Eric Paddock confirmed to The Orlando Sentinel. Benjamin Hoskins Paddock tried to run down an FBI agent with his car in Las Vegas in 1960 and wound up on the agency’s most wanted list after escaping from a federal prison in Texas in 1968, when Stephen Paddock was a teen.

The oldest of four children, Paddock was 7 when his father was arrested for the robberies. A neighbour, Eva Price, took him swimming while FBI agents searched the family home.

She told the Tucson Citizen at the time: “We’re trying to keep Steve from knowing his father is held as a bank robber. I hardly know the family, but Steve is a nice boy. It’s a terrible thing.”

An FBI poster issued after the escape said Benjamin Hoskins Paddock had been “diagnosed as psychopathic” and should be considered “armed and very dangerous.” He’d been serving a 20-year sentence for a string of bank robberies in Phoenix.

The elder Paddock remained on the lam for nearly a decade, living under an assumed name in Oregon. Investigators found him in 1978 after he attracted publicity for opening the state’s first licensed bingo parlour. He died in 1998.

Stephen Paddock bought his one-story, three-bedroom home in a newly built Mesquite subdivision for $369,000, in 2015, property records show. Past court filings and recorded deeds in California and Texas suggest he co-owned rental property.

He previously lived in another Mesquite — the Dallas suburb of Mesquite, Texas — from 2004 to 2012, according to Mesquite, Texas, police Lt. Brian Parrish. Paddock owned at least three separate rental properties, Parrish said, and there was no indication the police department had any contact with him over that time.

He has been divorced at least twice, including marriages that ended in 1980 and 1990. One of the ex-wives lives in Southern California, where a large gathering of reporters congregated in her neighbourhood. Los Angeles police Sgt. Cort Bishop said she did not want to speak with journalists. He relayed that the two had not been in contact for a long time and did not have children.

In 2012, Paddock sued the Cosmopolitan Hotel & Resorts in Nevada, saying he slipped and fell on a wet floor there. The lawsuit was eventually dismissed by a judge and settled by arbitration.

Reached by telephone, Paddock’s lawyer at the time, Jared R. Richards, said he could not comment because of client confidentiality concerns.

———

Johnson reported from Seattle. Associated Press writers Terrance Harris and Tamara Lush in Orlando, Florida; Jennifer Kay in Miami; Florida; Eric Tucker in Washington, D.C.; David Warren in Dallas; Michael Sisak in Philadelphia; Lindsay Whitehurst in Salt Lake City; Jeff Donn in Plymouth, Massachusetts; Sadie Gurman and Eric Tucker in Washington; and AP researcher Rhonda Shafner in New York contributed to this report.

Left-wing politicians, activists and journalists are using the worst mass shooting in modern American history to attack one of the nation’s oldest civil rights organizations.

The National Rifle Association (NRA) became a convenient scapegoat following the Las Vegas mass shooting that left at least 58 people dead and more than 500 injured. (RELATED: Democrats Immediately Call For Gun Control After Las Vegas Shooting)

Left-wing activist group Democracy for America wasted no time fundraising off of the attack while demonizing the NRA and linking them to the violence in Las Vegas.

“The NRA is unrepentant. They and their allies in Congress don’t think there’s anything wrong with what happened in Las Vegas last night,” the group wrote in a fundraising email Monday evening. “In fact, they are doubling down in support of laws that enable white men like Stephen Paddock to use guns to terrorize their families and communities.”

MSNBC producer Kyle Griffin posted a list of every congressman who has received donations from the NRA, hyping the group’s political influence. The NRA has given roughly $3.8 million to congressional campaigns since 1998, a number that pales in comparison to the type of money moved around by left-wing donors. Left-wing financier George Soros, for example, gave more than $25 million towards Democratic candidates in 2016 alone.

Left-leaning media company Now This published a video attacking the NRA and Republican politicians, captioning it: “When it comes to gun reform, seems like Republican congresspeople care more about taking the NRA’s money than they do about saving lives.”

WATCH:

Market Watch columnist Brett Arends published a column on Monday titled, “After Las Vegas, time for normal gun owners to decide where their loyalties lie: with the NRA, or with the USA.”

“It is time to end the National Rifle Association,” declared GQ host Keith Olbermann in response to Sunday’s shooting.

Daily Mail columnist Piers Morgan attacked the NRA because President Trump didn’t bring up gun control while addressing the violence Monday morning.

“The NRA, a vile organization with a sinister, deadly grip on America’s lawmakers, bought Trump’s silence when they backed him during the election campaign,” Morgan wrote.

Former secretary of state and twice-failed presidential candidate Hillary Clinton used the mass shooting to attack the NRA almost immediately.

“The crowd fled at the sound of gunshots,” Clinton wrote on Twitter Monday morning. “Imagine the deaths if the shooter had a silencer, which the NRA wants to make easier to get.”

“Our grief isn’t enough. We can and must put politics aside, stand up to the NRA, and work together to try to stop this from happening again,” she added.

Other prominent Democrats followed her lead.

“The right-wing – and NRA – messaging point that nothing could have been done to prevent the horrific attack in Las Vegas is just wrong,” said Oregon Democratic Rep. Earl Blumenauer.

In an appearance on MSNBC’s “All In With Chris Hayes” Monday night, Massachusetts Democratic Sen. Ed Markey declared that the American people “want the United States Congress to finally take on the NRA.” Markey accused the Republican Party of being “in the vice-like grip of the NRA.” (RELATED: MSNBC Spreads Fake News About Firearm Suppressors [VIDEO])

“Until we face down the gun lobby and have the spine to take the steps necessary to protect our families, there is blood on our hands and this tragic, terrible story will play out again and again and again,” Connecticut Democratic Rep. Jim Himes said in a statement.

Our Revolution, a political organization formed out of Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders’ 2016 presidential campaign, similarly used the NRA as a political punching bag. The group released a statement demanding Congress “stand up” to the NRA and pass an assault weapons ban.

Beth Stephenson is a columnist, mother of seven and a BYU graduate who lives in Saratoga Springs. Americana is about everything good in America, from the customs, cultures and scenery to history, human interest and humor. Anything good goes!

It all started with a pig in the garden.

Any creature wrecking my vegetable garden would get the same treatment. The farmer shot him.

But the difficulty arose from the fact that the garden was an American garden and the pig was an English pig. A full-out war was narrowly averted by an English admiral who had the sense to decide that his country would not go to war over a porcine murder on his orders.

Blame for the brouhaha could also be traced to an 1846 treaty that granted everything east of “middle of the channel beside Vancouver Island” to the English and the rest, east to the Rocky Mountains following the 49th parallel, to the USA. Whether the surveyor used too thick of a quill or had too vague an understanding of the northwestern-most area of “Oregon Country,” we may never know, but nobody knew exactly where the border ran.

There are two channels on either side of the San Juan Islands and the unhappy pig lived in the shared area. There were American settlers, planting potato gardens, into which pigs could sneak, and there was the British Hudson’s Bay Company running a large operation raising sheep, cattle and pigs. They’d gotten along pretty well until 1859 when that ornery pig became discontented with his usual slop.

The San Juan Islands lie on the north end of the Puget Sound in Washington State. There are old growth forests and wide meadows dotted with freshwater lakes. The deep, rich soil is productive and grazing is abundant. Orcas and Minke whales, porpoises, sea lions, seals, otters, salmon and many other fish varieties grow fat in the cold, deep water. Even today, cattle and sheep graze in postcard picturesque valleys and the woods are lovely, dark and deep.

British authorities were incensed by the handling of the errant pig. They threatened the owner of the garden, Lyman Cutlar, with arrest and then eviction for all other Americans. Americans complained to Brig. Gen. William S. Harney, who was in charge of the Oregon Territory. The general dispatched George Pickett, (later of Gettysburg fame), to defend Americans’ rights to pig-free gardens.

Pickett encamped on the island with 64 soldiers. So the Brits sent Royal Navy Captain Geoffrey Hornby, three warships with a total of 62 guns,400 Royal marines, and two handfuls of engineers with instructions to oust Pickett but to avoid war. So Pickett called for reinforcements.

Soon there were two armies facing each other, the Americans, no doubt enjoying the succulent pig. But the Royal Navy had orders not to fire on those impudent Yankees unless they were fired upon. By then, the Americans had a handsome redoubt, with 5 cannon platforms on the end of the island, (it’s still there today.)

Word eventually got to Washington that the U.S. was on the brink of a third war with Britain over the killing of a pig. Both governments agreed to send Lt. Gen. Winfield Scott to cool the burning tempers. Once he arrived, the two sides quickly agreed to reduce each military presence to no more than 100 apiece and wait for someone to decide who truly owned the island.

They waited 12 years.

The British busied themselves building a sturdy military base, with snug barracks, a hospital, a formal garden for herbs and flowers and a large (fenced) vegetable garden.

The Americans also built a camp, but with remarkably less style.

The imaginary war became boring, so they took breaks to celebrate Queen Victoria’s birthday and the Fourth of July together.

At last, both parties asked Germany’s Kaiser Wilhelm to arbitrate. The kaiser gazed at the treaty and map through his dignified monocle and awarded the San Juan Islands to the Americans. The British gallantly took their pigs and went home.

So only one shot was fired and the casualty was a deserving pig.

Now, the San Juan Islands are romped by vacationers. Parks mark the remains of the camps. Lookout points abound for land-side whale/sea-life watching. Summer boasts an explosion of wildflowers. Kayaking tours venture out in hope of sighting resident orcas or whales. Fall colors light the woods like the sunset of summer. Recently, Jeff and I spent an afternoon there picking blackberries along rural roadsides in the tradition of marauding pigs.

Only in America, God bless it.


Publisher’s Pick
Shoulder season isn’t what it used to be.
Park City, like many mountain towns, used to be a two-season destination: visitors came to ski in the winter and to hike and bike in the summer. The town took a break in spring and fall, many restaurants and even shops closed. But the scene is changing, as the crowd on Main Street last Tuesday night showed.
We ventured out to eat and saw many restaurants were full.
Our destination was Oishi in the Marriott Courtyard on lower Main Street and it lived up to the meaning of its name: delicious. There’s a menu of main dishes that are more Asian-influenced than pure Japanese; organic chicken, salmon and Black Angus tenderloin all come with a teriyaki sauce and tempura shrimp is also a crowd-pleaser. But for those of us who lust for raw fish, two sushi chefs were working non-stop and although the crowds meant we had a short wait, the rolls were worth it.
Oishi offers a list of sushi and sashimi and a list of tempura rolls as well as a menu of specialty rolls—the Mexi Roll tops whitefish tempura with cilantro and a salsa-like spicy sauce. But we found our bliss from the night’s creative rolls: Tiger Lilli ! Sweet Jesus and Crispy Alaska—Amber jack and Alaskan salmon paired with shrimp and sweet sour sauces with a sprinkle of fresh jalapeño slices.
Shoulder season does have its advantages—during the fall, Oishi offers half off rolls and sushi nigiri every night from 5:30—9 p.m. (Dine in only.)
Oishi Sushi Bar & Grill, 710 Main Street, Park City.
Call 435-640-2997 for reservations or order to go at 435-615-2255.

by Marg Shuff

CLOSE

Filmmakers Ken Burns and Lynn Novick discuss their new PBS documentary series ‘The Vietnam War’ and the importance of remembering the war at the Vietnam Veterans Memorial. USA TODAY

About a dozen of us strolled wearily and unhappily into the Greyhound bus station early that morning on a date that we would never forget. It was Nov. 19, 1969, the date that our government told us to report for the military draft.

Suddenly, as we were looking around the bus station to see which line to stand in next, the peaceful echoes in the vast, cathedral-like waiting room were disrupted by a musical blast, the opening notes of a popular hit by the African-American female vocal group The Shirelles:

“So-o-ol-dier boy,” they sang. “Oh, my little so-o-ol-dier boy/ I’ll be true to yoo-oo-ou … .”
We were strangers still, but suddenly we all turned to each other in stunned, wide-eyed disbelief and pointed in the direction of the music, as if to say, “Can you believe this?” We were unsure of whether some unseen disc jockey was giving us sad sacks a salute or playing a cruel joke.

Forgive me. Obviously, I have entered my anecdotage, a stage of life in which you can’t stop retelling old stories.

This particular bout has been triggered by the early episodes on PBS of “The Vietnam War: A Film by Ken Burns and Lynn Novick,” that, for me, marks the capstone of Burns’ long-running efforts to suggest how we Americans should think about ourselves.

Like most draftees, as it turned out, I never was sent to Vietnam. But like just about every American who was around at the time, the war had an impact on my life that often drives me to movies, books and documentaries about the period to try to make sense of it.

In that regard, it is appropriate and, as Burns has said in interviews, virtually inevitable that his filmmaking stardom, which began with his stunning 1990 nine-part PBS series “The Civil War,” would lead to his new 10-part series, co-directed by Novick, on Vietnam.

The Civil War era created the two-party system as we know it today, although the parties’ agendas have shifted over time, particularly on race. Yet, as we can see in the recent racially enflamed violence over a Civil War monument in Charlottesville, Va., William Faulkner’s line still applies: “The past is never dead. It’s not even past.”

The Vietnam era, including the civil rights revolution and anti-war movements, similarly created the left vs. right political and cultural landscape over which we fight today. As Burns and Novick show us, the war was one of many issues and tragedies that shook up our national innocence and caused widespread questioning of our national leaders in ways unmatched since the Civil War.

I served my two years in the Army and returned home as many did, looking for some silver lining in a war that, as Burns’ documentary shows, did not have to happen. The best I could come up with was to hope that, at least, we Americans had learned enough from our tragedies in Southeast Asia that we won’t make that kind of mistake again. No, we have learned how to make new ones.

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That was illustrated by our ill-fated quest to find “weapons of mass destruction” in Iraq.
“If we are forced to fight, we must have the means and the determination to prevail or we will not have what it takes to secure the peace,” declared President Ronald Reagan, denouncing the “Vietnam syndrome.” “And while we are at it, let us tell those who fought in that war that we will never again ask young men to fight and possibly die in a war our government is afraid to let them win.”

That’s a wonderful thought. Yet here we are again, trying to find ways to prop up Iraq, fight the so-called Islamic State in Syria and somehow withdraw from Afghanistan, even as we try to figure out what “winning” is supposed to look like in that region.

The Vietnam War left us with more than 58,000 dead Americans, more than 3 million dead Vietnamese and a new cynicism about our leaders. The “Vietnam syndrome” has its virtues. It should not make us afraid to fight for what we know is right, but it should make us extra careful about questioning what we think we know — before we are confronted tragically by the awful truth.

Email Clarence Page at cpage@chicagotribune.com.

 

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