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Archive for November, 2012

November 28-December 4, Boris Brokerov & Moscow At Christmas

Wednesday, November 28th, 2012

Go to Moscow in winter and ride through forests on a horse-drawn sleigh or sail down the Moskva River on an ice-breaking boat; check out new artists in a converted wine factory or 19th-century paintings in a fairy-tale studio.

Ded Moroz in Moscow - Russia Now

Ho ho ho: Ded Moroz in Moscow

Ice age to space age

The old Soviet exhibition grounds, to the north of the city centre, are an intriguing destination for visitors. Founded as an agricultural expo in the Thirties, the VVTs (All-Russian Exhibition Centre) celebrated its seventieth birthday this year. People often call it VDNKh (the Exhibition of Economic Achievements), which was its title in the Fifties – and is still the name of the nearest Metro.

The ornate pavilions and fountains represent a colourful variety of styles, from the graceful golden figures of the “Friendship of Nations” to the huge dome of the former Cosmos Pavilion.

There is a new ice rink this winter, and plenty of weird and wonderful museums, shops and rides hidden in the huge two-kilometre complex: an Ice Age Museum in Pavilion 71, where you can have your photo taken with a woolly mammoth; an aquarium with sharks in Pavilion 11; and a Soviet-era IMAX in a round concrete building near the south exit.

Two major attractions in the area are back this year: the ultimate socialist realist sculpture, Vera Mukhina’s 1937 Worker and Farm Girl, which was unveiled again after lengthy renovation this month; and the Space Exploration Museum, underneath the soaring titanium Monument to the Conquerors of Space.

The museum’s collections include the stuffed bodies of Belka and Strelka, the two dogs who survived their trip into space in August 1960. The space theme is enhanced by the “Avenue of Cosmonauts” leading up to the museum and the Moscow monorail, which stops near the main gate.

Winter wonderlands

If all the fairground attractions, neon lights and piped Muzak get too much for you, you can always escape into the muffled acres of snow in the nearby Botanical Gardens. You don’t always realise it when you are in the centre of town, but Moscow actually has nearly 100 parks and gardens with three times as much green space per head as London.

“White space” might be a more accurate description at this time of year. You can snowball round Catherine the Great’s palaces at Tsarytsino, sledge through the ancient orchards at Kolomenskoe or take a troika (horse drawn sleigh) through the 18th-century landscaped park at Kuzminki.

The park is also the official home of Ded Moroz (“Grandfather Frost”), the Russian Father Christmas. At one end of a chain of frozen ornamental lakes is a collection of wooden cottages and carved animals. These include dachas for Ded Moroz and his granddaughter, Snegurochka, the snow maiden, as well as a theatre, ice rink and post office.

Not far away is one of Moscow’s hidden gems: the sphinx-guarded, silk-wallpapered palace at Kuskovo. A beautiful collection of buildings stands beside a lake, where the aristocratic Sheremetev family used to stage mock sea battles. The orangeries house the State Museum of Ceramics, ranging from ancient Greek vases through Alexander I’s Egyptian dinner service to Soviet-era plates, complete with slogans.

For pure winter fun, you might want to head to the island of Serebryany Bor (“Silver Pine Forest”), in a bend of the Moskva River on the other side of the city. “Walruses” (people who like swimming in holes in the ice) plunge into the winter ponds, especially around the Orthodox feast of Epiphany on January 19. At the western end of the island, an outdoor waterside skating rink, ice slides and a fancy log cabin café face the clifftop village of Troitse-Lykovo, with its baroque church, across the river. The village was home to the reclusive writer Alexander Solzhenitsyn before his death in 2008.

When the temperatures are cold enough, you can walk across the frozen Moskva to explore the wooden cottages. The woods here are a paradise for cross-country skiers, and the lake at nearby Strogino is a favourite of snowkiters and ice fishermen. Closer to the centre, the ski lift at Sparrow Hills, with its famous view over the city, takes you to the top of a 90-metre slope, popular with snowboarders.

Warm welcomes

If all this sounds too chilly, there is always the indoor option. From the cosy bar of a boat, you can sail past Sparrow Hills, Gorky Park and many other famous Moscow landmarks. The Radisson Hotel’s new ice-breaking yachts will be cruising all the way to the beautiful Novospassky Monastery, with a meal included in the £20-30 ticket prices.

Much cheaper is a 50p DIY sightseeing tour on one of Moscow’s trams. Besides the famously ornate underground Metro system, the city has a large network of trams and trolleybuses. The number 39 runs right across town, with views along the river to the Kremlin, passing the ancient Danilov and Donskoy Monasteries.

Moscow is world famous for its cultural and artistic traditions. There are more than 150 museums, many of them commemorating famous writers and artists who have lived in the city. Pushkin, Tolstoy, Chekhov and Dostoevsky all have “house-museums” in Moscow.

The artist Viktor Vasnetsov, who designed the façade of the Tretyakov Gallery, also built himself a picturesque cottage in 1894 on what was then the outskirts of town. You can visit the house, not far from the old Moscow Circus on Tsvetnoi Boulevard, and see huge canvasses of monsters, warriors and princesses in the wooden attic-studio.

There’s plenty of modern art in Moscow, too. Factories, bus stations and warehouses have been converted into museums. Winzavod has 30 different shops and galleries in the red brick buildings of an old wine factory, and the café serves a great business lunch on weekdays for 220 roubles (£4.50).

Their current offerings include an exhibition by Japanese photographer Masao Yamamoto, which runs until the end of January, and they frequently host markets of funky designer crafts.

The Moscow News – includes travel information

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November 26, 2012 Special Edition

Tuesday, November 27th, 2012

Interesting piece in Todays Times :

Two-State Solution on the Line

If the recent rocket attacks on Israel and Israeli air strikes on Gaza tell us anything, it is that the status quo in the Middle East is not a safe choice for Israelis or Palestinians.

In the current political climate, it is highly unlikely that bilateral talks between Israel and the Palestinians can restart. Action is needed that will alter the current dynamic. As Elders, we believe that the Palestinian statehood bid at the United Nations is such a moment.

On Nov. 29, U.N. member states will be asked to vote on a resolution to grant “non-member observer state status” to Palestine, a significant upgrade from its current “observer entity” status. We urge all member states to vote in favor.

In going to the General Assembly, Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas is not carrying out a provocative act. Nor is he undermining trust and distracting from the pursuit of peace, as his critics have said.

This is a vote for human rights and the rule of law. It is completely consistent with decades of commitment by the United States, Europe and the rest of the world to peace in the Middle East based on the creation of a viable and contiguous Palestinian state existing side by side with Israel. It is a lawful, peaceful, diplomatic act in line with past U.N. resolutions and international law.

Yet this is a sensitive vote, and we know that many countries are considering abstaining or voting no.

If this resolution fails, it will probably mark the death of the two-state solution and move us even closer to a one-state outcome, with uncertain and potentially catastrophic consequences for both Israelis and Palestinians.

Let us articulate what a one-state outcome means: it either means that Israel will annex the West Bank, and give Palestinians full, equal rights as citizens of Israel — which seems unlikely — eventually eroding the Jewish majority in the country, or it means that Israel will deny equal rights to its non-Jewish population. Neither outcome gives the Palestinians the state of freedom and dignity that is their right, nor does it provide a secure, democratic homeland for the Jewish people.

On the other hand, wide support for this resolution would affirm what an overwhelming majority of people around the world — including Israelis and Palestinians — believe: that the two-state solution remains the surest path to peace in the Middle East.

A month ago, we stood together on the Mount of Olives in East Jerusalem, on the grounds of the Augusta Victoria Hospital. This medical facility is a Palestinian model of excellence for cancer treatment and is only a few miles from the rest of the West Bank, yet Palestinians face enormously complicated Israeli permit requirements simply to access care.

From the hospital’s vantage point we looked over vast Israeli settlements spreading across the West Bank, as well as the wire fences, high walls and roads that increasingly separate the Jewish and Arab populations.

The rate of settlement growth in East Jerusalem and the West Bank is staggering. There are now more than 500,000 Israeli settlers living beyond the Green Line, in violation of international law. Their numbers have doubled since the Oslo peace accords of 1993. Thousands more settlement homes are planned or under construction.

The peace process established by Oslo has not just stalled; it is going backwards fast. With every Palestinian family evicted or home demolished, with every new Israeli settler home built, the integrity of the territory promised to the Palestinians becomes further compromised.

A vote for the resolution will help to safeguard the two-state solution and enhance prospects for future negotiations. We further hope that threats to punish the Palestinians financially or otherwise for exploring this option, using an avenue to which they are entitled, will be withdrawn. Some are calling for the vote to be delayed but this is simply a bid to do nothing.

The disillusionment and fatigue we found among Israelis and Palestinians compels a bold act of international leadership. We know that there are many Israelis who share our view that to re-engage with the two-state solution is to revive the very feasibility of peace, and is therefore in Israel’s fundamental interest. We especially urge the nations with the greatest influence on the parties — the United States, European Union and the Arab states — to vote together in favor and save the two-state solution before it is too late.

Gro Harlem Brundtland was prime minister of Norway when the Oslo Peace Accords were signed in 1993. Jimmy Carter was the 39th president of the United States and negotiated the 1978 Camp David Accords and the 1979 Egypt-Israel peace treaty. They are both members of The Elders, a group of independent leaders working for peace and human rights.

There is now a cease fire between Gaza and Israel. The following Story is from November 16th 2012.

CBS/AP/ November 16, 2012, 11:30 PM
Israel expands air assault on rockets in Gaza


GAZA CITY, Gaza Strip Israel expanded its fierce air assault on rocket operations in the Gaza Strip on Saturday, striking Hamas government and security compounds, smuggling tunnels and electricity sources after an unprecedented rocket attack aimed at the holy city of Jerusalem raised the stakes in its violent confrontation with Palestinian militants.

Israeli aircraft also kept pounding their initial targets, the militants’ weapons-storage facilities and underground rocket-launching sites. The Israeli military called up thousands of reservists and massed troops, tanks and armored vehicles along the border with Gaza, signaling a ground invasion of the densely populated seaside strip could be imminent.

Palestinian firefighters and rescue personnel work at a blast site following an Israeli air raid in Gaza City on November 17, 2012. Israeli air strikes hit the cabinet headquarters of Gaza’s Hamas government, the group said early on November 17, with eyewitnesses reporting extensive damage to the building.

Israel launched its military campaign Wednesday after days of heavy rocket fire from Gaza and has carried out some 700 airstrikes since, the military said. Militants, undaunted by the heavy damage the air attacks have inflicted, have unleashed some 500 rockets against the Jewish state, including new, longer-range weapons turned for the first time this week against Jerusalem and Israel’s Tel Aviv heartland.

Israel has slowly expanded its operation beyond military targets and before dawn on Saturday, the Gaza Interior Ministry reported, missiles smashed into two small Hamas security facilities as well as the massive Hamas police headquarters in Gaza City, setting off a huge blaze that engulfed nearby houses and civilian cars parked outside. No one was inside the buildings at the time.

The Interior Ministry said a government compound was also hit as devout Muslims streamed to the area for early morning prayers. So, too, was a Cabinet building where the Hamas prime minister received the prime minister of Egypt on Friday.

In southern Gaza, Israeli aircraft went after the hundreds of underground tunnels militants used to smuggle in weapons and other contraband from Egypt, people in the area reported. A huge explosion in the area sent buildings shuddering in the Egyptian city of El-Arish, 30 miles (45 kilometers) away, an Associated Press correspondent there reported. The tunnels have also been a lifeline for residents of the area during the recent fighting, providing a conduit for food, fuel and other goods after supplies stopped coming in from Israel days before the military operation began.

Missiles also knocked out five electricity transformers, plunging more than 400,000 people into darkness, according to the Gaza electricity distribution company.

A separate airstrike leveled a mosque in central Gaza, damaging nearby houses, Gaza security officials and residents said. The military had no comment on that attack and it wasn’t clear whether weapons or fighters were being harbored in the area.

Play Video
Israeli Defense Forces strike Hamas drone

One person was killed and three dozen people were wounded in the various attacks, Gaza health official Ashraf al-Kidra said. In all, 30 Palestinians and three Israelis have been killed since the Israeli operation began.

The Israeli military said it did not immediately have an accounting of its various overnight targets.

“The Palestinian government emphasizes its steadfastness and support for the Palestinian resistance,” government spokesman Ihab Hussein said in a text message to reporters after the wave of Israeli attacks. “It stands alongside its people, who are subject to this aggression.”

Palestinian rocket aimed at Jerusalem for first time as Hamas vows “more surprises”
Israel says it knocked out Hamas drone program

The widened scope of targets brings the two sides closer to the kind of all-out war they waged four years ago. Hamas, a group committed to Israel’s destruction, was badly bruised during that confrontation, but has since restocked its arsenal with more and better weapons, and has been under pressure from smaller, more militant groups to prove its commitment to armed struggle against Israel.

The attack aimed at Jerusalem on Friday and strikes on the Tel Aviv area twice this week dramatically showcased the militants’ new capabilities, including a locally made rocket that appears to have taken Israeli defense officials by surprise. Both areas had remained outside the gunmen’s reach in past rounds of fighting, and their use dramatically escalated the hostilities.

Just a few years ago, Palestinian rockets were limited to crude devices manufactured in Gaza. But in recent years, Israeli officials say, Hamas and other armed groups have smuggled in sophisticated, longer-range rockets from Iran and Libya, which has been flush with weapons since Muammar Qaddafi was ousted last year.

Israeli soldiers with armored vehicles gather in a staging ground near the border with the Gaza Strip, in southern Israel, Friday, Nov. 16, 2012. Fierce clashes between Israeli forces and Gaza militants are continuing for the third day.
/ AP Photo/Tsafrir Abayov

The eerie wail of air raid sirens sounded in Jerusalem after the start of the Jewish Sabbath in the holy city, claimed by both Israel and the Palestinians as a capital and located about 75 kilometers (47 miles) from Gaza. Jerusalem residents were shocked to find themselves suddenly threatened by rocket fire, which, for more than a decade, had been limited to steadily broadening sections of southern Israel.

The attack on the contested city was especially audacious, both for its symbolism and its distance from Gaza. Located roughly 50 miles (80 kilometers) from the Gaza border, Jerusalem had been considered beyond the range of Gaza rockets — and an unlikely target because it is home to the Al-Aqsa Mosque compound, Islam’s third-holiest shrine.

CBS News correspondent Allen Pizzey and his team — along with other news crews — were forced by the Israeli military to move away from the border of the Gaza Strip on Friday morning, another signal pointing to a possible ground incursion into the tiny Palestinian territory.

Pizzey reported that as dawn broke in the Israeli town of Sderot, on the Gaza border, the extent of the force massed along the frontier made it clear Israel was preparing for a ground fight — 16,000 Israeli reservists were called up on Thursday. The last invasion was four years ago, and analysts say Hamas will be better prepared this time.

In Israel, Pizzey reported, a funeral Friday was interrupted by a warning siren that another missile was on its way. There is a growing fear that Hamas has vastly improved its arsenal.

Most of the militants’ rockets do not have guided systems, limiting their accuracy, though Israeli officials believe the militants may have a small number of guided missiles that have not yet been used.

Israeli police spokesman Micky Rosenfeld said the rocket landed in an open area southeast of the city — near the Palestinian city of Bethlehem and just a few miles from Al-Aqsa.

Earlier on Friday, Gaza gunmen fired toward Tel Aviv for the second straight day, causing no injuries.

“We are sending a short and simple message: There is no security for any Zionist on any single inch of Palestine and we plan more surprises,” said Abu Obeida, a spokesman for Hamas’ armed wing.

Israeli leaders have threatened to widen the operation if the rocket fire doesn’t halt. Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman said options included the possible assassination of Hamas’ prime minister, Ismail Haniyeh, and other top leaders.

“Every time that Hamas fires there will be a more and more severe response,” he told Channel 2 TV on Friday. “I really recommend all the Hamas leadership in Gaza not to try us again. … Nobody is immune there, not Haniyeh and not anybody else.”

Watch: White House reacts to Israel’s Gaza operation
3 Israelis killed in rocket fire from Gaza
Egypt asks U.S. to stop Israel operation against Hamas in Gaza

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu huddled with his emergency Cabinet on Friday night. Israeli media reported the meeting approved a request from Defense Minister Ehud Barak to draft 75,000 reservists. Earlier this week, the government approved a separate call-up of as many as 30,000 soldiers. Combined, it would be the biggest call-up of reserves in a decade.

Lt. Col. Avital Leibovich, a military spokeswoman, said 16,000 reservists were called to duty on Friday and others could soon follow.

She said no decision had been made on a ground offensive but all options are on the table. Dozens of armored vehicles have been moved to Israel’s border with Gaza since fighting intensified Wednesday.

The violence has widened the instability gripping the region, straining already frayed Israel-Egypt relations. The Islamist government in Cairo, linked like Hamas to the region-wide Muslim Brotherhood, recalled its ambassador in protest and dispatched Prime Minister Hesham Kandil to the territory on Friday to show solidarity.

Kandil called for an end to the offensive while touring Gaza City’s Shifa Hospital with Haniyeh, the Gaza prime minister who was making his first public appearance since the fighting began.

In one chaotic moment, a man rushed toward the two leaders, shouting as he held up the body of a 4-year-old boy. The two prime ministers cradled the lifeless boy who Hamas said was killed in an Israeli airstrike. Israel vociferously denied the claim, saying it had not operated in the area.

Fighting to hold back tears, Kandil told reporters the Israeli operation must end.

“What I saw today in the hospital, the wounded and the martyrs, the boy … whose blood is still on my hands and clothes, is something that we cannot keep silent about,” he said.

Pizzey reported that Kandil said he had come to plea for peace, but his rhetoric supported Hamas. He called the violence “a tragedy,”and said Egypt will “not spare any effort”to stop what he termed “this aggression”.

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November 21-27, 2012

Friday, November 16th, 2012

Myles Standish (c. 1584 – October 3, 1656; sometimes spelled Miles Standish) was an English military officer hired by the Pilgrims as military advisor for Plymouth Colony. One of the Mayflower passengers, Standish played a leading role in the administration and defense of Plymouth Colony from its inception.[2] On February 17, 1621, the Plymouth Colony militia elected him as its first commander and continued to re-elect him to that position for the remainder of his life.[3] Standish served as an agent of Plymouth Colony in England, as assistant governor, and as treasurer of Plymouth Colony.[4] He was also one of the first settlers and founders of the town of Duxbury, Massachusetts.[5]

A defining characteristic of Standish’s military leadership was his proclivity for preemptive action which resulted in at least two attacks (or small skirmishes) on different groups of Native Americans—the Nemasket raid and the Wessagusset massacre. During these actions, Standish exhibited considerable courage and skill as a soldier, but also demonstrated a brutality that angered Native Americans and disturbed more moderate members of the Colony.[6]

One of Standish’s last military actions on behalf of Plymouth Colony was the botched Penobscot expedition in 1635. By the 1640s, Standish relinquished his role as an active soldier and settled into a quieter life on his Duxbury farm. Although he was still nominally the commander of military forces in a growing Plymouth Colony, he seems to have preferred to act in an advisory capacity.[7] He died in his home in Duxbury in 1656 at age 72.[8] Although he supported and defended the Pilgrim colony for much of his life, there is no evidence to suggest that Standish ever joined their church.[9] However, Standish was one of the forty-one signers of the Mayflower Compact which states the colony’s purpose was to advance the Christian faith for the Glory of God. Forty-one of the ship’s one-hundred and one passengers signed the Compact in the cabin of the Mayflower while anchored in what is now Provincetown Harbor within the northern tip of Cape Cod.

Several towns and military installations have been named for Standish and monuments have been built in his memory. One of the best known depictions of Standish in popular culture was the 1858 book, The Courtship of Miles Standish by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow. Highly fictionalized, the story presents Standish as a timid romantic.[10] It was extremely popular in the 19th century and played a significant role in cementing the Pilgrim story in American culture.[11]


Historical background of Plymouth Colony

Main article: Plymouth Colony

Standish was associated for most of his life with a congregation of Protestants known as Separatists. Unlike Puritans, who sought to reform the Church of England, Separatists believed that the Church of England was beyond reform and wished to break from it to form independent congregations.[12] One group of Separatists formed in Scrooby, Nottinghamshire, led by ministers Richard Clyfton and John Robinson, and by a lay minister or “elder” William Brewster. English authorities outlawed and persecuted such congregations. In 1608, the Scrooby congregation relocated to Holland in the Dutch Republic, where freedom of religion was permitted.[13] The group eventually settled in Leiden, Holland, where it remained for 12 years.

Although they enjoyed religious freedom in Holland, the members of the Scrooby congregation were troubled by the foreign culture of Leiden and they wished to raise their children in a strictly English environment. In 1620, with the permission of King James I of England and backing from a group of financial investors in London known as the Merchant Adventurers, the Scrooby congregation departed for the New World aboard the Mayflower to establish a colony in North America.[14]

Not all the Mayflower passengers were Separatists. The Merchant Adventurers recruited a number of colonists seeking financial opportunity in the New World.[14] Others, such as Myles Standish, had been hired by the Separatists specifically for their expertise in certain areas. Standish’s religious leanings have been the source of some debate. He was one of the forty-one signers of the Mayflower Compact which states the colony’s purpose was to advance the Christian faith for the Glory of God. Whatever his denomination, he sympathized with the Separatists, supporting and defending Plymouth Colony for much of his life, although there is no evidence as to whether he joined their church.[15]

In what is now Plymouth, Massachusetts, the passengers of the Mayflower established a colony referred to at the time as “New Plymouth” (although the name and spelling varied). The term “Pilgrims” is now used primarily to refer to the Separatist congregation, although it is often applied to all the original settlers of Plymouth Colony (both Separatist and Anglican).

Birthplace and early military service

Little is definitively known of Myles Standish’s origins and early life. His place of birth has been subject to debate among historians for more than 150 years.[15] At the center of the debate is language in Myles Standish’s will, drafted in Plymouth Colony in 1656, regarding his rights of inheritance. Standish wrote:

I give unto my son & heire apparent Alexander Standish all my lands as heire apparent by lawfull decent in Ormskirke Borscouge Wrightington Maudsley Newburrow Crowston and in the Isle of man and given to mee as Right heire by lawfull decent but Surruptuously detained from mee My great Grandfather being a 2cond or younger brother from the house of Standish of Standish.[15]

The places named by Standish, with the exception of the Isle of Man, are all in Lancashire, England, leading some to conclude that Standish was born in Lancashire—possibly in the vicinity of Chorley where a branch of the Standish family owned a manor known as Duxbury Hall.[16] However, efforts to link Standish to the Standishes of Duxbury Hall have proven inconclusive. A competing theory focuses on Standish’s mention of the Isle of Man and argues that Myles belonged to a Manx branch of the Standish family. No definitive documentation exists in either location to provide clear evidence of Standish’s birthplace.[15]

Possibly the best source, however brief, on Standish’s origins and early life is a short passage recorded by Nathaniel Morton, secretary of Plymouth Colony, who wrote in his New England’s Memorial, published in 1669, that Standish:

…was a gentleman, born in Lancashire, and was heir apparent unto a great estate of lands and livings, surreptitiously detained from him; his great grandfather being a second or younger brother from the house of Standish. In his younger time he went over into the low countries, and was a soldier there, and came acquainted with the church at Leyden, and came over into New England, with such of them as at the first set out for the planting of the plantation of New Plimouth, and bare a deep share of their first difficulties, and was always very faithful to their interest.[17]

Head and shoulders portrait of a man in 17th century military attire.  He wears a breastplate and a thick, fur collar.  He has a short, brown beard and mustache and a very slight smile.

Sir Horatio Vere was the commander of English troops in Holland during the Siege of Ostend, under whom Standish likely served.

The circumstances of Standish’s early military career in Holland (the “low countries” to which Morton referred) are vague at best. At the time, the Dutch Republic was embroiled in the Eighty Years War with Spain. Queen Elizabeth I of England chose to support the Protestant Dutch Republic and sent troops to fight the Spanish in Holland. Some historians, such as Nathaniel Philbrick, refer to Standish as a “mercenary,” suggesting that he was a hired soldier of fortune seeking opportunity in Holland.[14] Others, such as historian Justin Winsor, claim that Standish received a lieutenant’s commission in the English army and was subsequently promoted to captain in Holland.[16] Jeremy Bangs, a leading scholar of Pilgrim history, noted that Standish likely served under Sir Horatio Vere, an English general who had recruited soldiers in both Lancashire and the Isle of Man, among other places, and who led the English troops in Holland at the time Standish was there.[15]

Whether commissioned officer, mercenary, or both, Standish apparently came to Holland around 1603 and may, according to historian Tudor Jenks, have seen service during the Siege of Ostend in which Vere’s English troops were involved.[18] The subsequent Twelve Years’ Truce (1609–1621) between Spain and the Dutch Republic would have ended Standish’s service, although scholars are uncertain if Standish was still in active service.

Standish first appears in the written record in 1620 when, living in Leiden, Holland, he was hired by the Pilgrims to act as their advisor on military matters.[19] At that time he already was using the title of “Captain.” When considering candidates for this important position, the Pilgrims had at first hoped to engage Captain John Smith. As one of the founders of the English colony at Jamestown, Virginia, Smith had explored and mapped the North American coast. When the Pilgrims approached him to return to the New World, Smith expressed interest. His experience made him an attractive candidate, but the Pilgrims ultimately decided against Smith: His price was too high and the Pilgrims feared his fame and bold character might lead him to become a dictator.[20]

Standish, having lived in Leiden with his wife Rose, was apparently already known to the Pilgrims.[15] In the summer of 1620, Myles and Rose Standish embarked with the Pilgrims for the New World.[21]

On the Mayflower

The Mayflower Compact, a painting by Jean Leon Gerome Ferris which was widely reproduced through much of the 20th century

The Mayflower departed Plymouth, England on September 6, 1620 with 102 passengers and about 30 crew members in a small 100 foot ship. The first month in the Atlantic, the seas were not severe, but by the second month the ship was being hit by strong north-Atlantic winter gales causing the ship to be badly shaken with water leaks from structural damage. There were two deaths, but this was just a precursor of what happened after their Cape Cod arrival, when almost half the company would die in the first winter.[22][23]

On November 9, 1620, after a month of delays off the English coast and about two months at sea, they spotted land which was Cape Cod. After several days of trying to get south to their planned destination of the Colony of Virginia, strong winter seas forced them to return to Cape Cod and the harbor that is now the site of Provincetown, Massachusetts.[24] They anchored there on November 11. When it became apparent that, due to a shortage of provisions, they would have to settle on or near Cape Cod, the leaders of the colony decided to draw up the Mayflower Compact to ensure a degree of law and order in this place where they had no legal rights to settle. Myles Standish was the fourth to sign the compact.[23][25][26]

Establishment of Plymouth Colony

While the Mayflower was anchored off Cape Cod, Standish urged the colony’s leaders to allow him to take a party ashore to find a suitable place for settlement.[27] On November 15, 1620, he led 16 men in a foot exploration of the northern portion of Cape Cod.[28] On December 11, a group of 18 settlers, including Standish, made an extended exploration of the shore of Cape Cod by boat.[29] Spending their nights ashore surrounded by makeshift barricades of tree branches, the settlers were attacked one night by a group of about 30 Native Americans. At first the Englishmen panicked, but Standish calmed them, urging the settlers not to fire their matchlock muskets unnecessarily.[30] The incident, known as the First Encounter, took place in present-day Eastham, Massachusetts.

After further exploration, in late December 1620 the Pilgrims chose a location in present-day Plymouth Bay as the site for their settlement. Standish provided important counsel on the placement of a small fort in which cannon were mounted, and on the layout of the first houses for maximum defensibility.[2] Only one house (consisting of a single room) had been built when illness struck the settlers. Of the roughly 100 who first arrived, only 50 survived the first winter.[31] Standish’s wife, Rose, died in January.

Standish himself was one of the very few who did not fall ill and William Bradford (soon to be governor of Plymouth Colony) credited Standish with comforting many and being a source of strength to those who suffered.[32] Standish tended to Bradford during his illness and this was the beginning of a decades-long friendship.[33] Bradford held the position of governor for most of his life and, by necessity, worked closely with Standish. In terms of character, the two men were opposites—Bradford was patient and slow to judgment while Standish was well known for his fiery temper.[34] Despite their differences, the two worked well together in managing the colony and responding to dangers as they arose.[35]

Defense of Plymouth Colony

By February 1621, the colonists had sighted Native Americans several times, but there had been no communication. Anxious to prepare themselves in the event of hostilities, on February 17, 1621, the men of the colony met to form a militia consisting of all able-bodied men and elected Standish their commander. Although the leaders of Plymouth Colony had already hired him for that role, this vote ratified the decision by democratic process.[3] The men of Plymouth Colony continued to re-elect Standish to that position for the remainder of his life. As captain of the militia, Standish regularly drilled his men in the use of pikes and muskets.[36]

Contact with the Native Americans came in March 1621 through Samoset, an English-speaking Abenaki who arranged for the Pilgrims to meet with Massasoit, the sachem of the nearby Pokanoket tribe. On March 22, the first governor of Plymouth Colony, John Carver, signed a treaty with Massasoit, declaring an alliance between the Pokanoket and the Englishmen and requiring the two parties to defend each other in times of need.[37] Governor Carver died the same year and the responsibility of upholding the treaty fell to his successor, William Bradford. As depicted by historian Nathaniel Philbrick, Bradford and Standish were frequently preoccupied with the complex task of reacting to threats against both the Pilgrims and the Pokanokets from tribes such as the Massachusett and the Narragansett.[35] As threats arose, Standish typically advocated intimidation to deter their rivals. Although such behavior at times made Bradford uncomfortable, he found it an expedient means of maintaining the treaty with the Pokanoket.[38]

Standish’s raid had done irreparable damage to the human condition of the entire area. Not only had the Pilgrims proved violent and revengeful, but Indian leader Massasoit had betrayed his former Indian compatriots. These events had initiated a new and terrifying era for New England and it took a long time before balance came back to the region. The raid had ruined their ability to trade with the Indians, and without furs as a source of income, the Pilgrims were forced to rely on cod fishing, which had poor results.[39][40]

A group of nine 17th century militiamen carrying muskets and marching over a sandy path. A Native American man with feathers in his hair and carrying a musket is leading them. The soldier at the front of the group is wearing a helmet and a breastplate. In the background is a beach.

An 1873 lithograph depicting the expedition against Nemasket led by Standish and guided by Hobbamock

Nemasket raid

The first challenge to the treaty came in August 1621 when a sachem named Corbitant began to undermine Massasoit’s leadership. In the Pokanoket village of Nemasket, now the site of Middleborough, Massachusetts, about 14 miles (23 km) west of Plymouth, Corbitant worked to turn the people of Nemasket against Massasoit.[35] Bradford sent two trusted interpreters, Tisquantum (known to the English as Squanto) and Hobbamock, to determine what was happening in Nemasket. Tisquantum had been pivotal in providing counsel and aid to the Pilgrims, ensuring the survival of the colony. Hobbamock, another influential ally, was a pniese—a high-ranking advisor to Massasoit—and a warrior who commanded particular respect and fear among Native Americans. When Tisquantum and Hobbamock arrived in Nemasket, Corbitant took Tisquantum captive and threatened to kill him. Hobbamock escaped to warn Plymouth.[41]

Bradford and Standish agreed that this represented a dangerous threat to the English-Pokanoket alliance and decided to act quickly. On August 14, 1621, Standish led a group of 10 men to Nemasket, determined to kill Corbitant.[35] They were guided by Hobbamock who quickly befriended Standish. The two men would be close for the remainder of their lives. In his old age, Hobbamock became part of Standish’s household in Duxbury.[42]

Reaching Nemasket, Standish planned a night attack on the wigwam in which Corbitant was believed to be sleeping. That night, Standish and Hobbamock burst into the shelter, shouting for Corbitant. As frightened Pokanokets attempted to escape, Englishmen outside the wigwam fired their muskets, wounding a Pokanoket man and woman who were later taken to Plymouth to be treated. Standish soon learned that Corbitant had already fled the village and Tisquantum was unharmed.[43]

Although Standish had failed to capture Corbitant, the raid had the desired effect. On September 13, 1621, nine sachems, including Corbitant, came to Plymouth to sign a treaty of loyalty to King James.[44]


A modern day photograph of a village consisting of small, primitive wooden houses.  Most of the houses have thatched roofs.  In the distance is a large expanse of ocean and a clear blue sky.  The village is surrounded by a wall consisting of tall, thick wooden planks.

Plimoth Plantation, a reconstruction of the original Pilgrim village in Plymouth, Massachusetts, includes a replica of the palisade surrounding the settlement

In November 1621, a Narragansett messenger arrived in Plymouth and delivered a bundle of arrows wrapped in a snakeskin. The Pilgrims were told by Tisquantum and Hobbamock that this was a threat and an insult from the Narragansett sachem, Canonicus.[45] The Narragansett, who lived west of what is now known as Narragansett Bay in present day Rhode Island, were one of the more powerful tribes in the region. Bradford sent back the snakeskin filled with gunpowder and shot in an effort to show they were not intimidated.

Taking the threat seriously, Standish urged that the colonists encircle their small village with a palisade made of tall, upright logs. The proposal would require a wall more than half a mile (or 0.8 km) long.[46] In addition, Standish recommended the construction of strong gates and platforms for shooting over the wall. Although the colony had recently been reinforced by the arrival of new colonists from the ship Fortune, there were still only 50 men to work on the task. Despite the challenges, the settlers constructed the palisade per Standish’s recommendations in just three months, finishing in March 1622. Standish divided the militia into four companies, one to man each wall, and drilled them in defending the village in the event of attack.[47]


A more serious threat came from the Massachusett tribe to the north and was precipitated by the arrival of a new group of English colonists. In April 1622, the vanguard of a new colony arrived in Plymouth. They had been sent by merchant Thomas Weston to establish a new settlement somewhere near Plymouth. The men chose a site on the shore of what is now the Fore River in present-day Weymouth, Massachusetts, about 25 miles (40 km) north of Plymouth. They called their colony Wessagusset. The settlers of the poorly managed colony infuriated the Massachusett tribe, through theft and recklessness.[48] By March 1623, Massasoit had learned that a group of influential Massachusett warriors intended to destroy both the Wessagusset and the Plymouth colonies. Massasoit warned the Pilgrims to strike first. One of the colonists of Wessagusset, Phineas Pratt, verified that his settlement was in danger. Pratt managed to escape to Plymouth and reported that the English in Wessagusset had been repeatedly threatened by the Massachusett, the settlement was in a state of constant watchfulness, and that men were dying at their posts from starvation.[49]

Bradford called a public meeting at which the Pilgrims decided to send Standish and a small group of eight, including Hobbamock, to Wessagusset to kill the leaders of the alleged plot to wipe out the English settlements.[50] The mission had a personal aspect for Standish. One of the warriors threatening Wessagusset was Wituwamat, a Neponset who had earlier insulted and threatened Standish.[51]

Arriving at Wessagusset, Standish found that many of the Englishmen had gone to live with the Massachusett. Standish ordered them called back to Wessagusset. The day after Standish’s arrival, Pecksuot, a Massachusett warrior and leader of the group threatening Wessagusset, came to the settlement with Wituwamat and other warriors. Although Standish claimed simply to be in Wessagusset on a trading mission, Pecksuot said to Hobbamock, “Let him begin when he dare…he shall not take us unawares.”[52] Later in the day, Pecksuot approached Standish and, looking down on him, said, “You are a great captain, yet you are but a little man. Though I be no sachem, yet I am of great strength and courage.”[53]

The next day, Standish arranged to meet with Pecksuot over a meal in one of Wessagusset’s one-room houses. Pecksuot brought with him Wituwamat, a third warrior, an adolescent boy (Wituwamat’s brother) and several women. Standish had three men of Plymouth and Hobbamock with him in the house. On an arranged signal, the English shut the door of the house and Standish attacked Pecksuot, stabbing him repeatedly with the man’s own knife.[53] Wituwamat and the third warrior were also killed. Leaving the house, Standish ordered two more Massachusett warriors put to death. Gathering his men, Standish went outside the walls of Wessagusset in search of Obtakiest, a sachem of the Massachusett tribe. The Englishmen soon encountered Obtakiest with a group of warriors and a skirmish ensued during which Obtakiest escaped.[54]

Having accomplished his mission, Standish returned to Plymouth with Wituwamat’s head.[55] The leaders of the alleged plot to destroy the English settlements had been killed and the threat removed, but the action had unexpected consequences. The settlement of Wessagusset, which Standish had, in theory, been trying to protect, was all but abandoned after the incident. Most of the settlers departed for an English fishing post on Monhegan Island. The attack also caused widespread panic among Native Americans throughout the region. Villages were abandoned and, for some time, the Pilgrims had difficulty reviving trade.[56]

Pastor John Robinson, who was still in Leiden, criticized Standish for his brutality.[57] Bradford, too, was uncomfortable with Standish’s methods, but defended him in a letter, writing, “As for Capten Standish, we leave him to answer for him selfe, but this we must say, he is as helpfull an instrument as any we have, and as careful of the general good.”[58]

Dispersal of Merrymount settlers

A pen and ink drawing of a soldier with a large musket over his shoulder.  He wears elaborate 16th century clothing including puffy knee breeches and a wide brimmed, tall hat with a plume.

From a 16th century Dutch manual on the use of the arquebus, a type of matchlock used by the Pilgrims

In 1625, another group of English settlers established an outpost not far from the site of Wessagusset. Located in what is now Quincy, Massachusetts, about 27 miles (43 km) north of Plymouth, the settlement was officially known as Mount Wollaston, but soon earned the nickname “Merrymount.” Thomas Morton, leader of the small group of Englishmen, encouraged behavior that the Pilgrims found objectionable and dangerous. The men of Merrymount built a maypole, drank liberally, refused to observe the Sabbath and sold weapons to Native Americans.[59] Bradford found the latter particularly disturbing and, in 1628, ordered Standish to lead an expedition to arrest Morton.[60]

Standish arrived with a group of men to find that the small band at Merrymount had barricaded themselves within a small building. Morton eventually decided to attack the men from Plymouth but, allegedly, the Merrymount group was too drunk to handle their weapons.[60] Morton aimed a weapon at Standish, which the captain purportedly ripped from Morton’s hands. Standish and his men took Morton to Plymouth and eventually sent him back to England. Later, Morton wrote a book, New English Canaan, in which he referred to Myles Standish as, “Captain Shrimp,” and wrote, “I have found the Massachusetts Indians more full of humanity than the Christians.”[61]

Penobscot expedition

Having defended Plymouth from Native Americans and other Englishmen, Standish’s last significant expedition was against the French.[62] On the Penobscot River, in what is now Castine, Maine, the French established a trading post in 1613. English forces captured the settlement in 1628 and turned it over to Plymouth Colony. It was a valuable source of furs and timber for the Pilgrims for seven years. However, in 1635, the French mounted a small expedition and easily reclaimed the settlement.[63] Determined that the post be reclaimed in Plymouth Colony’s name, William Bradford ordered Captain Standish to take action. This was a significantly larger proposition than the small expeditions Standish had previously led. To accomplish the task, Standish chartered a ship, the Good Hope, captained by a man named Girling.[63] Standish’s plan appears to have been to bring the Good Hope within cannon range of the trading post and to bombard the French into surrender. Unfortunately, Girling ordered the bombardment before the ship was within range and quickly spent all the powder on board. Standish gave up the effort.[63]

By this time, the neighboring and more populous Massachusetts Bay Colony had been established. Bradford appealed to leaders of the colony in Boston for help in reclaiming the trading post. The Bay Colony refused. The incident was indicative of the rivalry which persisted between Plymouth and Massachusetts Bay colonies.[63] In 1691, the two colonies merged to become the royal Province of Massachusetts Bay.

Settlement in Duxbury

A lithograph of a small, one and a half story shingled house

The Alexander Standish House (still standing) built by Myles Standish’s son on the Captain’s farm in Duxbury, Massachusetts

In 1625, Plymouth Colony leaders appointed Standish to travel to London to negotiate new terms with the Merchant Adventurers. If a settlement could be reached and the Pilgrims could pay off their debt to the Adventurers, then the colonists would have new rights to allot land and settle where they pleased. Standish was not successful in his negotiations and returned to Plymouth in April 1626.[64] Another effort later in 1626, this time negotiated by Isaac Allerton, was successful, and several leading men of Plymouth, including Standish, paid off the colony’s debt to the Adventurers.[65]

Now free of the directives of the Merchant Adventurers, the leaders of Plymouth Colony exerted their new-found autonomy by organizing a land division in 1627. Large farm lots were parceled out to each family in the colony along the shore of the present-day towns of Plymouth, Kingston, Duxbury and Marshfield, Massachusetts. Standish received a farm of 120 acres (49 ha) in what would become Duxbury.[66] Standish built a house and settled there around 1628.[67]

A monument featuring four black cannon barrels mounted on a stone wall in the middle of a small cemetery.  The ground is partly covered with snow.  Many trees stand in the background.  The sky is cloudy.

Standish grave site in the Myles Standish Cemetery in Duxbury

There are indications that, by 1635 (after the Penobscot expedition), Standish began to seek a quieter life, maintaining the livestock and fields of his Duxbury farm.[68] About 51 years old at that time, Standish began to relinquish the responsibility of defending the colony to a younger generation. A note in the colony records of 1635 indicates that Lieutenant William Holmes, Standish’s immediate subordinate, was appointed to train the militia.[69] When the Pequot War loomed in 1637, Standish was appointed to a committee to raise a company of 30 men, but it was Holmes who led the company in the field.[69]

The families living in what had come to be referred to as Duxbury (sometimes “Duxborough”) requested to be set off from Plymouth as a separate town with their own church and minister. This request was granted in 1637. Some, including historian Justin Winsor, have insisted that the name of the town of Duxbury was given by Standish in honor of Duxbury Hall, near Chorley in Lancashire, which was owned by a branch of the Standish family.[70] Although the coincidence would suggest that Standish had something to do with the naming of Duxbury, Massachusetts, no records exist to indicate how the town was named.[71]

During the 1640s, Standish took on an increasingly administrative role. He served as a surveyor of highways, as Treasurer of the Colony from 1644 to 1649, and on various committees to lay out boundaries of new towns and inspect waterways.[72] In 1642, his old friend Hobbamock, who had been part of his household, died and was buried on Standish’s farm in Duxbury.[42]

Standish died on October 3, 1656, of “strangullion” or strangury, a condition often associated with kidney stones or bladder cancer.[16] He was buried in Duxbury’s Old Burying Ground, now known as the Myles Standish Cemetery.[73] [74]

Marriages and Family of Myles Standish

Myles Standish married:

  • Rose _____ by about 1618. She died on January 29, 1621.[75] She was buried in an unmarked grave at Coles Hill Burial Ground in Plymouth as were many others who died the first winter. She is named on the Pilgrim Memorial Tomb on Coles Hill as “Rose, first wife of Myles Standish”.
  • Barbara _______[76] by about 1624. Per Banks, she had come to Plymouth in 1623 on either the ‘Anne’ or ‘Little James’, and they were married the following spring. In the past, historians have suggested that she may have been a sister of Standish’s first Rose, and that he specifically sent for her. They had seven children. She died after October 6, 1659 and her burial place is unknown.[77]

Children of Myles and Barbara Standish:

  • Charles (1) was born in 1624. He died between May 22, 1627 and 1635.
  • Alexander was born about 1626 and died July 6, 1702. He was buried in Myles Standish Burying Ground in Duxbury, Mass.
Alexander married first: Sarah Alden by about 1660 and had eight children. She died before June 13, 1688. Her father was Mayflower passenger John Alden. Second, he married Desire (Doty) (Sherman) Holmes by 1689 and had three children. She died in Marshfield on January 22, 1731. Her father was Mayflower passenger Edward Doty.
  • John was born about 1627. No further record.
  • Myles was born about 1629 and died at sea after March 20, 1661. His body was lost at sea.

Myles married Sarah Winslow in Boston on July 19, 1660, but there are no recorded children.

  • Loara (Lora) was born about 1631 and died by March 7, 1655/6. Unmarried.
  • Josiah was born about 1633 and died in Preston CT on March 19, 1690. He was historically known as Capt. Josiah Standish. His burial place is unknown.[78]
Josiah married first: Mary Digley in Marshfield on December 19, 1654 and died in Duxbury on July 1, 1655. Second, Sarah Allen after 1655 and had eight children. She died after September 16, 1690.
  • Charles (2) was born by about 1635. He was still living on March 7, 1655/6. No further record._______[79][80]


A very tall stone tower with a statue of a man at the top. It stands on a steep, grassy hill.  A pathway and stairs lead to a door on the front of the tower.  A person is walking along the pathway away from the tower.

Myles Standish Monument in Duxbury, Massachusetts

Standish’s true-life role in defending Plymouth Colony (and the sometimes brutal tactics he employed) were largely obscured by the fictionalized character created by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow in his book The Courtship of Miles Standish. Historian Tudor Jenks wrote that Longfellow’s book had “no claim to be considered other than a pleasant little fairystory, and as an entirely misleading sketch of men and matters in old Plymouth.”[81] However, the book elevated Standish to the level of folk hero in Victorian America. In late 19th century Duxbury, the book generated a movement to build monuments in Standish’s honor, a beneficial by-product of which would be increased tourism to the town.[11]

The first of these monuments was the largest.[11] The cornerstone was laid for the Myles Standish Monument in Duxbury in 1872 with a crowd of ten thousand people attending the ceremonies.[11] Finished in 1898, it was the third tallest monument to an individual in the United States, surpassed only by the first dedicated Washington Monument (178 feet) in Baltimore, Maryland finished in 1829 and the Washington Monument (555 feet) in Washington, D.C. dedicated in 1885.[11] At the top of the monument, which is 116 feet (35 m) overall, stands a 14-foot (4.3 m) statue of Standish.[11]

A second, smaller monument was placed over the alleged site of Myles Standish’s grave in 1893.[73] Two exhumations of Standish’s remains were undertaken in 1889 and 1891 to determine the location of the Captain’s resting place. A third exhumation took place in 1930 to place Standish’s remains in a hermetically sealed chamber beneath the grave-site monument.[73]

The site of Myles Standish’s house, revealing only a slight depression in the ground where the cellar hole was, is now a small park owned and maintained by the town of Duxbury.[82]

Standish, Maine, is named for the Captain, as well as the neighborhood of Standish, Minneapolis. At least two forts were named after Standish—an earthen fort on Plymouth’s Saquish Neck built during the American Civil War and a larger cement fort built on Lovells Island in Boston Harbor in 1895. Both forts are now abandoned.[83]

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November 14-20, 2012

Tuesday, November 13th, 2012

From our friends at FOX NEWS LATINO.

WASHINGTON–  Since the re-election of President Obama, much of the nation’s political focus has shifted toward what U.S. Federal Reserve chairman Ben Bernanke has aptly named the impending doom of the U.S. “fiscal cliff.”

A package of tax increases and spending cuts that will take effect Jan. 1, 2013, the “fiscal cliff” will affect every American that pays income tax — and even some that do not.

Unless congress can passes a budget deal before the first of the year, the economy will be hard hit by these cuts.

Some economists have even said the drastic budget changes could plunge the country back into a recession in the first half of the year.

Doctors who accept Medicare, people who get unemployment aid, defense contractors, air traffic controllers, national park rangers, no matter who you are, it will be all but impossible to avoid the pain.

Middle income families would have to pay an average of about $2,000 more next year, the nonpartisan Tax Policy Center has calculated.

Up to 3.4 million jobs would be lost, the Congressional Budget Office estimates. The unemployment rate would reach 9.1 percent from the current 7.9 percent. Stocks could plunge. The nonpartisan CBO estimates the total cost of the cliff in 2013 at $671 billion.

Collectively, the tax increases would be the steepest to hit Americans in 60 years when measured as a percentage of the economy.

“There would be a huge shock effect to the U.S. economy,” says Mark Vitner, an economist at Wells Fargo.

Most of the damage — roughly two-thirds — would come from the tax increases. But the spending cuts would cause pain, too.

The bleak scenario could push the White House and Congress to reach a deal before year’s end. On Tuesday, Congress returns for a post-election session that could last through Dec. 31. At a minimum, analysts say some temporary compromise might be reached, allowing a final deal to be cut early next year.

Still, uncertainty about a final deal could cause many companies to further delay hiring and spend less. Already, many U.S. companies say anxiety about the fiscal cliff has led them to put off plans to expand or hire.

A breakdown in negotiations could also ignite turmoil in financial markets, Vitner said. It could resemble the 700-point fall in the Dow Jones industrial average in 2008 after the House initially rejected the $700 billion bailout of major banks.

Since President Barack Obama’s re-election, nervous investors have sold stocks. The Standard & Poor’s 500 index sank 2.3 percent last week, its worst weekly drop since June. The sell-off resulted in part from anxiety over higher tax rates on investment gains once the fiscal cliff kicks in.

Last week, Obama said he was open to compromise with Republican leaders. But the White House said he would veto any bill that would extend tax cuts on income above $250,000.

Every worker in America is going to see a reduction in their paycheck in the first pay period of 2013.

– Mark Vitner, economist at Wells Fargo

Republican House Speaker John Boehner countered that higher tax rates on upper-income Americans would slow job growth. Boehner argued that any deal must reduce tax rates, eliminate special-interest loopholes and rein in government benefits.

More than 50 percent of the tax increases would come from the expiration of tax cuts approved in 2001 and 2003 and from additional tax cuts in a 2009 economic stimulus law.

The first set of tax cuts reduced rates on income, investment gains, dividends and estates. They also boosted tax credits for families with children. Deductions for married couples also rose. The 2009 measure increased tax credits for low-income earners and college students.

About 20 percent of the tax increase would come from the expiration of a Social Security tax cut enacted in 2010. This change would cost someone making $50,000 about $1,000 a year, or nearly $20 a week, and a household with two high-paid workers up to $4,500, or nearly $87 a week.

The end of the Social Security tax cut isn’t technically among the changes triggered by the fiscal cliff. But because it expires at the same time, it’s included in most calculations of the fiscal cliff’s effects.

And it could catch many people by surprise.

“Every worker in America is going to see a reduction in their paycheck in the first pay period of 2013,” Vitner noted.

An additional 20 percent of the tax increase would come from the end of about 80 tax breaks, mostly for businesses. One is a tax credit for research and development. Another lets companies deduct from their income half the cost of large equipment or machinery.

Mark Bakko, a Minneapolis accountant, says many mid-size companies he advises are holding off on equipment purchases or hiring until the fate of those tax breaks becomes clear. Bakko noted that the research and development credit typically lets a company that hired an engineer at a $100,000 salary cut its tax bill by $10,000. The credit has been routinely extended since the 1980s.

The rest of the tax increase would come mainly from the alternative minimum tax, or AMT. It would hit 30 million Americans, up from 4 million now.

The costly AMT was designed to prevent rich people from exploiting loopholes and deductions to avoid any income tax. But the AMT wasn’t indexed for inflation, so it’s increasingly threatened middle-income taxpayers. Congress has acted each year to prevent the AMT from hitting many more people.

Under the fiscal cliff, households in the lowest 20 percent of earners would pay an average of $412 more, the Tax Policy Center calculates. The top 20 percent would pay an average $14,000 more, the top 1 percent $121,000 more.

All this would lead many consumers to spend less. Anticipating reduced sales and profits, businesses would likely cut jobs. Others would delay hiring.

Another part of the cliff is a package of across-the-board spending cuts to defense and domestic programs — cuts the CBO says would total about $85 billion. Congress and the Obama administration agreed last year that these cuts would kick in if a congressional panel couldn’t agree on a deficit-reduction plan. The magnitude of the cuts was intended to force agreement. It didn’t.

Defense spending would shrink 10 percent. Defense Secretary Leon Panetta has said those cuts would cause temporary job losses among civilian Pentagon employees and major defense contractors. Spending on weapons programs would be cut.

For domestic programs, like highway funding, aid to state and local governments and health research, spending would drop about 8 percent. Education grants to states and localities; the FBI and other law enforcement; environmental protection; and air traffic controllers, among others, would also be affected, the White House says.

Hospitals and doctors’ offices could also cut jobs if an $11 billion cut in Medicare payments isn’t reversed.

Extended unemployment benefits for about 2 million people would end. The extra benefits provide up to 73 weeks of aid.

“It would be nice if we could … address these issues before the very last moment,” said Donald Marron, the Tax Policy Center’s director.

Based on reporting by the Associated Press.

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November 12, 2012 Special Edition

Tuesday, November 13th, 2012

05:13 PM ET

By Samuel Burke, CNN

Sadi Othman, the senior adviser to General David Petraeus throughout the U.S. campaign in Iraq, says that his affair with biographer Paula Broadwell was “uncharacteristic of the general, and was the only time he was unfaithful to his wife.

In an interview with CNN’s Christiane Amanpour on Monday, Othman said he is still in close contact with Petraeus and spoke with him earlier in the day.

“He’s very sad,” Othman said. “Very remorseful about what happened – about what he did. His focus now is on his family and to repair the damage that has been done because of this mistake that he made.”

Othman remained a confidant of Petraeus after their time in Iraq. “There was no hint. General Petraeus was a very professional solider – a great leader. And very careful about how he handled himself with people in general, not just with women.”

Othman says a “reliable source” told him that the affair started after Petraeus left his post in Afghanistan in 2008. Othman discounted any speculation of an affair with the other woman in the scandal, Jill Kelley.

Officials say the investigation began when Kelley complained to the FBI about receiving harassing emails. These were then tracked back to Paula Broawell, and the FBI says that is how they stumbled on email communications between Broawell and Petraeus – clearly demonstrating their affair.

Othman says Petraeus told him Monday that he resigned because “for him, that’s doing the honorable thing – for having done the dishonorable.”

Petraeus’ most lasting military legacy will likely be turning the tide in the Iraq war – through the 2007 surge in troops. But Othman says another legacy will be the close relationships he built with leaders in Iraq and across the Middle East.

Who will replace Petraeus at CIA?

“Personal relationships matter in everything, but especially in that part of the world. And that’s where I’m worried,” Othman told Amanpour.

Othman speculated that Petraeus could still have a role to play on the international stage even if it’s not an official government role.

Like many close to Petraeus, Othman is left reconciling the man he knew as a disciplined four-star general with the man who has admitted to an extramarital affair with a woman twenty years his junior.

“You could tell me anybody else and I would say ‘yes,’ but not him… What happened? I do not know. How? I do not know.”

Fallout continues over affair of CIA director Petraeus

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November 7-13, 2012

Thursday, November 8th, 2012

President Barack Obama will begin his second term in the White House with a U.S. Congress that closely mirrors what he faced in his first term.

Republicans still control the U.S. House of Representatives. Democrats still control the U.S. Senate. Sequestration, that raft of automatic, across-the-board, spending cuts set to take place if Congress exceeds authorized spending limits or fails to pass the Budget Control Act of 2011, still looms. Questions on taxes and entitlements remain.

With the balance of power left largely unchanged, leaders agree that it will take a concerted bipartisan effort to take on and solve pressing problems. However, they differ in their ideas on how to get there, indicating, perhaps, that gridlock will persist.

Democrats are still miffed over Sen. Mitch McConnell’s 2010 statement that the Republican Party’s “top priority” should be to make Obama a “one-term president.” Republicans haven’t yet forgotten that Obama passed the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, more commonly known as “Obamacare,” without a single Republican vote.

Rep. Frank Wolf, R-10th, who has been in Congress since 1981 was re-elected Tuesday, said he thinks Republicans will be looking to Obama for a signal.

“I think a lot of it’s going to depend on the president,” said Wolf, who supported the bipartisan Simpson-Bowles Commission. “If he gives the message that we’re going to work together, I think you’re going to find people in the Republican Party ready to work with him.”

Wolf said Obama would have to take charge to achieve Republican support.

“Unless the president of the United States provides the leadership, it won’t happen,” said Wolf, who has worked on legislation with a number of Democrats including former  Va. Sen. Chuck Robb, former Va. Congressman Jim Moran, as well Rep. Steny Hoyer, D-Md., and former Congressmen Tony Hall, D-Ohio, Donald M. Payne, D-N.J., and James McGovern, D-Mass.

Rep. Gerald E. “Gerry” Connolly, D-11th , who has also worked with Wolf on bipartisan legislation, won re-election Tuesday and said he doesn’t think gridlock has to rule during an Obama second term.

“I don’t think it has to be a status-quo. With a re-elected president who cannot think re-election again, hopefully the Republicans may be willing to deal with him in a way that they were not in the first term,” said Connolly, who was first elected to Congress in 2008.

But Connolly doesn’t think the burden of reconciliation should fall to Obama.

“This president reached out to them from day one. He went to their retreat. He went to their caucus. He went to their conference. He asked them for ideas,” Connolly said. “They’re the ones who decided, on day one, that they wanted him to be a one-term president and they weren’t going to do anything to help him succeed.”

Connolly said Republicans should make the first move.

“They’re the ones who are going to have to decide what happens,” Connolly said.

At a press conference Wednesday from his campaign headquarters in Richmond, Senator-elect Timothy M. Kaine said he was optimistic that legislators would come together for the good of the country.

Kaine, who prevailed over former Sen. George Allen, a Republican, in the race for the seat that was left open at the retirement of Democratic Sen. Jim Webb, said he learned about compromise and bipartisanship when he served as the mayor of Richmond when he had a split state government.

According to a transcript of the press conference, Kainesaid he and the state legislators found things on which they could agree and got those things done while they worked to find common ground on their disagreements.

“I’ve said from the very beginning of this campaign, that that was what was missing in Congress. That was what was turning a 2010 to 2012 Congress into essentially a do-nothing Congress. It was not only an inability, but an affirming unwillingness to listen, to find common ground, and to compromise,” Kaine said.

Kaine said he looked forward to finding common ground

“The thing that we most need to do in both houses of Congress is really commit to compromise and working together, he said.

Senior reporter Keith Walker can be reached at 703-369-6751.

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