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July 3, 2014

This Week In The Civil War: The Battle For Washington, DC

Editors Note Primary sources for the series are historic newspaper databases and other archival records.
By The Associated Press

This Week in The Civil War, for week of Sunday, July 6: ``The Battle That Saved Washington, D.C.’’

Some 15,000 Confederate troops under the command of Jubal Early surged northward into Maryland in the summer of 1864, reaching the outskirts of Frederick, Md., hoping to slide around toward the lightly defended nation’s capital. The Confedreate surge northward came amid a bid by Robert E. Lee to pressure Washington, D.C., even as the Union was plunging deep into Virginia. But Northern railroad agents, detecting the Confederate incursion, quickly alerted federal authorities. By July 9, 1864, the rival sides were battling each other fiercely along the Monocacy River in Maryland, the Union throwing some 5,800 fighters into the fray.

It would be the final time the Confederates took the battle to the North. ``INVASION!!’’ a headline in the Philadelphia Inquirer blared. ``EXCITING NEWS FROM WASHINGTON. THE NATIONAL CAPITAL IN DANGER.’’ Fighting raged for hours that day, but the Union pressure on the Confederates gave the Union time to reinforce defenses around the nation’s capital. The fight subsequently became known as the ``Battle That Saved Washington.’’ And an Associated Press, in a dispatch July 12, 1864, confirmed the Confederates had been driven out of Frederick, Maryland. One smaller outcome, AP noted, Frederick residents complained hungry rebel foraging parties had rounded up their livestock and horses. ``At times the main streets of Frederic were literally filled with horses and cattle, all of which were driven down to the fords and sent across into Virginia,’’ AP noted.

PBS To Air Dick Cavett Special On Watergate August 8, 9 PM

By David Bauder

AP Television Writer

New York (AP) PBS is marking the 40th anniversary of President Richard Nixon’s resignation by running a documentary on the Watergate scandal as seen through the prism of Dick Cavett’s late-night talk show at the time.

People with memories of Watergate remember developments unfolding on the evening news or the gripping Senate hearings shown on daytime TV, but fewer recall that Cavett’s ABC program featured appearances by an array of pivotal figures. Even the former host.

“I didn’t remember how much there was,” Cavett told The Associated Press on Monday. “I watched some of it the other day and they were new to me.”

From 1972 to 1974, Cavett interviewed many major Watergate figures, including Nixon aides John Ehrlichman, Alexander Haig, G. Gordon Liddy and Jeb Magruder, as well as several members of the Senate committee investigating the case.

Cavett in the 1970s

Cavett’s show even taped a special edition from the room where the Senate hearings were held.

The documentary “Dick Cavett’s Watergate” features fresh interviews with reporters Bob Woodward and Carl Bernstein, former Nixon aide John Dean and Cavett. PBS announced Tuesday it would air Aug. 8 at 9 p.m. EDT - 40 years to the hour after Nixon announced to the nation that he was quitting.

“I had no choice” but to spend time on it, Cavett, 77, recalled. “It was just the most fascinating thing in the world.”

Cavett’s coverage didn’t earn him friends in high places. He’s mentioned in Nixon’s infamous White House tapes some 26 times, including once when the president mused aloud in colorful language about ways the government could get back at him. Cavett later learned that virtually every member of his program’s staff had their tax returns audited.

“It’s a strange feeling to see the most powerful man in the world, not yet a criminal one, denouncing you,” he said. “It’s kind of a creepy feeling.”

He had no explanation for why so many members of the administration came on his show, since he was clearly no friend. A clip of an Ehrlichman appearance shows the Nixon aide looking at Cavett with barely disguised contempt. In one passage, the just-confirmed Vice President Gerald Ford tells Cavett that based on the evidence he’d been shown, he saw no criminal wrongdoing on the part of the White House.

Richard Nixon, resigning in 1974 Photo: Harry Benson

Cavett asked Ford in 1979, after he’d left the presidency, if he felt he’d been duped. “I got a raw deal,” Ford replied.
Yet the program also shows how the passage of time changes opinions. Former Washington Post reporter Bernstein was furious when Ford pardoned Nixon, yet decades later he sees the wisdom in that decision, said John Scheinfeld, the documentary’s producer.

Scheinfeld, who produced a well-regarded theatrical documentary on the U.S. government’s pursuit of John Lennon, was brought in by Robert Bader, who has combed through Cavett’s tapes for various projects. Scheinfeld said the Cavett tapes provided an interesting way to get inside an oft-told tale.

“We’re not just regurgitating things that everyone knows,” he said. “There’s a freshness to it.”

Cavett’s low ratings at the time didn’t make him popular with ABC executives. His concentration on Watergate probably didn’t help - competitor Johnny Carson had Charo as a guest the night Cavett did his show from the Senate hearing room - but Cavett said he was shielded from most of what the network was saying about him.

It’s a far different late-night world today. A Jon Stewart and Stephen Colbert may have talked about Watergate, but it’s difficult to imagine any non-news program investing in the time Cavett used for conversations in those days.

He doesn’t necessarily view that as a point of pride.

“If anything, the fact that we’re a country that elected a man to the presidency why, by right, should have been in striped pajamas if Gerald Ford hadn’t pardoned him, is kind of shameful for everybody,” Cavett said.

Seniors (or almost anyone) Can Increase Strength With Parkour

By MARIA CHENG

AP Medical Writer

London (AP) -- On a recent morning in London, Lara Thomson practiced spinning on benches, swinging from metal bars and balancing off raised ledges - all elements of a daredevil discipline known as “parkour.”

What was unusual about the scene is that Thomson is 79 and all of her classmates are over 60.

They are members of a unique weekly class for seniors in a sport more commonly known for gravity-defying jumps than helping people with arthritis.

Invented in the 1980s in France, parkour is a sport usually favored by extremely nimble people who move freely through any terrain using their own strength and flexibility, often using urban environments such as benches, buildings and walls as a type of obstacle course. It’s also known as free running.

The London parkour class of about a dozen students is taught by two instructors who have adapted the sport’s main elements to a level that can be handled even by those over 60 who have replacement joints or other medical conditions.

Woman in a parkour class


“I wondered whether it was a government plot to get rid of old people when I heard about the class,” Thomson joked. She said she has balance problems and that the class helps her feel more confident about getting around. “Being able to get outside and do silly things like hugging trees is great,” she said, referring to a stretching exercise.

While most fitness classes aimed at seniors focus on calmer activities such as dance or yoga, experts say parkour is a reasonable, if unorthodox, option.

“When I first heard about this, I had a picture in my mind of elderly people jumping off of walls and I thought there was no way this could be appropriate,” said Bruce Paton, a physical therapist who works with the elderly at the Institute of Sport, Exercise and Health at University College London. He is not connected to the program. “But when you look at the things they’re doing, it’s actually quite gentle and could increase their strength and flexibility to help them with their daily activities.”

Still, Paton said parkour could potentially be dangerous for people with serious heart problems and warned anyone with a joint replacement or muscle weakness should be careful.

The parkour instructors said everyone who takes the class fills out a health form and they are particularly careful to dissuade participants from doing too much; several students have artificial joints, arthritis or a pacemaker.

“Every single technique in parkour can be changed so that anyone can do it,” said Jade Shaw, artistic director of Parkour Dance, who teaches the class. The parkour sessions initially began as a pilot project last year and Shaw is hoping to get more funding to expand it further. For now, the classes are free and held at a Tibetan Buddhist center in South London.

“I think it’s very beneficial and I’m hoping we’ll soon have a lot more older people bouncing around the parks,” she said.

David Terrace, a health and fitness expert for the charity Age U.K., said any efforts to get older people more active should be welcomed. He said adaptations have been made to other sports to help the elderly exercise more, such as turning soccer into walking soccer and building customized boats to accommodate wheelchairs for sailing.

“There’s no age limit for exercise, it’s just about the individual and what they feel comfortable doing,” he said.

At 85, George Jackson is the oldest participant in the London parkour class.

“I really enjoy it and wish I could do more,” said Jackson, an army veteran and former boxer. “I just sometimes forget how old I am and that I can’t do certain things.”

He said he struggles with a swollen ankle and knee but that the class has helped. “I was limping around before and now I can walk straight,” Jackson said. “But I still don’t plan to jump off of anything higher than a bench.”

NC’s NAACP Seeks To Extend Extend Eugenic’s Deadline

By JEROME BAILEY JR.

Associated Press

Raleigh, NC (AP) North Carolina’s NAACP chapter and others are calling on legsialtive leaders and Gov. Pat McCrory to extend last Monday’s deadline for victims of the state’s 20th century eugenics program to formally apply for compensation.

The civil rights organization and the Forward Together Moral Movement involved in recent demonstrations in Raleigh want the legislature to push back the deadline by another year until June 30, 2015. That’s the same date in which the legislature directed payments to qualified applicants from a $10 million fund. State law set Monday’s deadline.

The Rev. William Barber, president of the North Carolina NAACP, said that the state hasn’t done a good enough job with reaching out to survivors of the program, in which the state sterilized what it considered inferior citizens incapable of caring for children.

``We shouldn’t have a deadline that would victimize them more,’’ Barber said in an open letter first released over the weekend. ``There was no arbitrary deadline for the eugenics program.’’

Some 7,600 others were sterilized from 1929 to 1974 under the state’s program, but only a fraction are still alive. Most were either forced or coerced into the procedure, though a small number of people chose to be sterilized. As of last week, about a third of the estimated living victims had submitted claims.

The deadline for victims to file a claim was set for 5 p.m., although Chris Mears, a spokesman for the state department that houses the Office for Justice of Sterilization Victims, said it would accept mail postmarked by Monday. Mears said state law would have to be changed or a judge would have to sign an order to shift the deadline.

The House version of the budget passed in June would accelerate the first payment date. Extending the deadline would jeopardize that effort, said Anna Roberts, spokeswoman for House Speaker Thom Tillis, R-Mecklenburg.

``Extending the deadline would delay the payment to some qualified recipients,’’ Roberts wrote in an email. She said the sterilization victims’ office had sent ``direct mail pieces, made hundreds phone calls and partnered with other agencies to attempt to reach as many victims as possible ... It’s time for the qualified recipients to receive their compensation.’’

Officials for McCrory and Senate leader Phil Berger, R-Rockingham, didn’t immediately return messages seeking comment Monday.

House Minority Leader Larry Hall, D-Durham, filed a bill this year to extend the claim-filing period, but no action has been taken on the measure.

Barber’s letter questions the state’s commitment to making amends with victims of the decades-long sterilization program.

``If state legislators work to extend this deadline, they will show they are serious about making amends,’’ the letter said. ``If they do not, we will know that this restitution program is merely a political ploy to get political points in an election year.’’

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


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