We’ve done pretty well with making our second president’s dream come true. In fact, last night from my front lawn, I could see two different displays being set off over two nearby lakes, one to the north and one to the south. I literally didn’t know which way to look. But there are a lot of people who won’t be able to watch the fireworks displays this year. No fireworks on military bases is now official congressional policy.
That’s right. Fireworks have been cancelled on most military bases this year. The “Sequester”, designed by congress to make everyone so miserable they would never let it take effect, has put an end to John Adams’ vision in our most patriotic of places.
A few lucky bases have found a philanthropic civilian backer. Fort Hood, in Texas, has dipped into profits from their recycling center to save their show. But most of the men and women who serve this nation, and the children who stoically endure their long absences, will see nothing but dark skies.
Pearl Harbor-Hickam in Hawaii, Camp Lejeune in North Carolina, Shaw Air Force Base, Parris Island, and the Cowpens National Battlefield, in South Carolina, McGuire-Dix-Lakehurst in New Jersey, are just some of the places that had to cancel their firework displays this year.
Two nights ago a truck transporting fireworks hit a moose on the Trans-Canada highway. The truck then caught fire and that, of course set off the fireworks. Luckily no one was hurt.
Only in Canada, eh.
Just how confident was Mitt Romney of being elected president?
Turns out the Republican nominee had planned to celebrate with a fireworks display over Boston Harbor, according to a story in The Boston Globe. There was also a website planned for his transition, complete with a quote from President-elect Romney saying he is “excited about our prospects as a nation.”
The Romney transition website briefly went live and was taken down, but not before Taegan Goddard of the Political Wire blog managed to save some screenshots.
The eight-minute fireworks show, which would have been in view from Romney’s election night event at the Boston Convention Center, didn’t happen. Atlas Professional Fireworks Displays ended up taking the pyrotechnics back to its headquarters in New Hampshire.
Fireworks displays are 1,000 years in the making: Modern technology perfects an ancient Chinese invention
As the legend goes, it all began with bamboo shoots and evil spirits.
When fireworks originated in China, they were not much more than tubes of bamboo packed with black powder. Still, their blast was so ferocious that firecrackers were thought to dispel demons.
Now, 1,000 years later, throngs of visitors are expected to line the banks of the Charles River Wednesday to see pyrotechnicians blast shells into the night, painting the Boston skyline with resplendent sparks.
The art of fireworks has evolved dramatically in the last millennium, from the fields of Asia to Renaissance workshops in Italy. Modern displays like the annual Boston Pops Fireworks Spectacular have benefited from years of advances in chemistry and circuitry.
“It’s truly a synthesis of thousands of years of effort,” said John Steinberg, former president of the nonprofit Pyrotechnics Guild International, which brings together amateur and professional fireworks enthusiasts.
The timing of the State of the Union is perfect, with President Obama addressing joint sessions of Congress Tuesday, January 31st. Why then?
Traditionally the speech is on the last Wednesday in January, but with the South Carolina primaries pulled so far forward, there was a clash.
Obama’s detractors will likely say that he moved the SOTU to diminish the news cycle swell from the South Carolina GOP primary, while supporters will say he moved them to avoid taking people’s attention away from the circus acts there.
Either way the SC primary is the reason this year’s SOTU was likely moved, and by Tuesday which GOP contender President Obama will run against in 2012 will become clearer, which presents the opportunity to fine tune SOTU.
State of the Union addresses have always been a demarc — a stake in the ground to put the past year behind us and to look forward at where we are headed in the coming year. Most people ignore them and those who don’t mostly can’t remember the prior year’s speech, but in many SOTU speeches you normally get a few new directions.
There are likely to be bones thrown to the disaffected progressives on the left, and some realpolitik work towards regaining the center’s votes. I don’t expect fireworks, and perhaps that Joe guy, the congress-critter who thinks that Presidential addresses to joint sessions of congress are opportunities for Tea Party Demonstrations, will stay home.
Vilified on the campaign trail by Republicans, President Barack Obama will stand before the nation Tuesday night with a State of the Union address designed to reframe the election-year debate on his terms, suggesting a stark contrast with his opponents on the economy and promising fairness and help for hurting families.
Obama is expected to offer new proposals to make college more affordable, to ease the housing crisis still slowing the economy, and to boost American manufacturing, according to people familiar with the speech. He will also promote unfinished parts of his jobs plan, including the extension of a payroll tax cut soon to expire.
In essence, this State of the Union is not so much about the year ahead as the four more years Obama wants after that.
Obama’s splash of policy proposals will be less important than what he hopes they all add up to: a narrative of renewed American security. Obama will try to politically position himself as the one leading that fight for the middle class, with an overt call for help from Congress, and an implicit request for a second term from the public.
The timing comes as the nation is split about Obama’s overall job performance. More people than not disapprove of his handling of the economy, he is showing real vulnerability among the independent voters who could swing the election, and most Americans think the country is on the wrong track.
So his mission will be to show leadership and ideas on topics that matter to people: jobs, housing, college, retirement security.
Thousands of dead blackbirds rained down on a town in central Arkansas last New Year’s Eve after revelers set off fireworks that spooked them from their roost, and officials were reporting a similar occurrence Saturday as 2012 approached.
Police in Beebe said dozens of blackbirds had fallen dead, prompting officers to ban residents from shooting fireworks Saturday night. It wasn’t immediately clear if fireworks were again to blame, but authorities weren’t taking a chance.
Officer John Weeks said the first reports of “birds on the streets” came around 7 p.m. as residents celebrated the year’s end with fireworks in their neighborhoods.
“We started shutting down fireworks,” he said. “We’re working on cleaning up the birds now.”
He said police were working with animal control workers and others to remove the birds and determine a death count.
“We’re not sure if they’re going to continue to fall throughout the night. I can’t tell you,” Weeks said.
Scientists say the loud cracks and booms from celebratory fireworks likely sent the birds into such a tizzy that they crashed into homes, cars and each other before plummeting to their deaths last New Year’s Eve. The birds landed on roofs, sidewalks, streets and fields. One struck a woman walking her dog. Another hit a police cruiser.
Glittering fireworks in the shapes of butterflies, hearts and a cascading waterfall exploded over Sydney’s Harbour Bridge on Sunday as cheering revelers welcomed 2012 and bid a weary adieu to a year marred by natural disasters and economic turmoil.
More than 1.5 million people crowded onto yachts and along the shores of the city’s harbor to watch the shimmering pyrotechnic display designed around the theme “Time to Dream” - a nod to the eagerness many felt in moving forward after the rough year.
“It’s about giving people the opportunity to dream of the year ahead and that hopefully it is a bit better than the year we’ve had,” said Aneurin Coffey, producer of Sydney’s New Year’s festivities.
Some of the fireworks formed the shape of clouds - “Because every cloud has a silver lining,” Coffey said. Colorful lights beamed onto the center of the bridge formed an “endless rainbow” symbolizing hope.
Many were eager for a fresh start.
3 men claiming to be Occupy Portland protesters arrested in Marion County for possession of explosives
The fireworks mortars could cause serious injury or even death if used against police officers, so I’m happy that they left without using them.
nside the car, the deputy also found a number of firecrackers and two commercially made mortars inside glass canning jars, designed to be fired into the area during professional pyrotechnic displays. One was found in the floorboard of the vehicle, and the other was allegedly in Luff’s jacket.
The deputy also found two gas masks, protective eye goggles and a safety helmet. All three men told the deputy that they had spent the night at the Occupy Portland demonstration, and they brought the mortars and safety equipment to the demonstration in preparation of the expected confrontation between police and protesters Sunday morning.
The three had been at the demonstration during the confrontation Sunday morning and had left about an hour before the vehicle was stopped. During that confrontation, a police officer was injured by a firework, but the three men denied being involved in the incident.
When asked about the explosives, the three men told authorities that they knew the canning jar would explode, causing glass shrapnel to fly and possibly cause injury.
All three men were arrested and booked at the Marion County jail. Patterson is charged with unlawful possession of fireworks and possession of a controlled substance. He was released from jail.
Don’t forget the coming hot dog contest, either!