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Archive for the month “February, 2013”


February 16, 2013


Havana, Cuba (JFK+50) 54 years ago today, February 16, 1959, Fidel Castro* was sworn in as Prime Minister of Cuba after the successful overthrow of dictator Fulgencio Batista.


Che Guevara & Fidel Castro
Photo by Alberto Korda (1961)


*Fidel Castro was born in Biran, Oriente Province on August 13, 1926.  Castro’s family ran a sugar plantation.He was a multi-sport athlete as a youth & was trained in law at the University of Havana.Castro married Mirta Diaz-Balart & the couple had one child, a son named Fidelito who was born in 1949.

As early as July 26, 1953, Castro led the effort to depose Batista by attacking Cuba’s 2nd largest military base in Santiago.

The attack failed & Castro was arrested, tried, found guilty for conspiring against the government & sentenced to 15 years in prison.

In 1955, however, Castro, along with all political prisoners, was released.  He then went to Mexico where he joined with his brother Raul & Argentina’s Che Guevara.

On December 2, 1956, the 3 revolutionaries launched an attack against Batisita’s forces on the coast but were forced into the mountains where they continued the fight.

Batista’s unpopularity demoralized his military forces & Guevara defeated them at Santa Clara forcing the embattled dictator to flee the island on January 1, 1959.

The Eisenhower Administration initially recognized the Castro regime, but withdrew support when he nationalized $850 million of US assets on the island & declared himself a Marxist.

A covert operation by the CIA was authorized by President Eisenhower to train Cuban exiles who would launch an invasion to overthrow Castro.

JFK inherited this plan & gave his approval for the invasion at the Bay of Pigs which took place on April 17, 1961.

The invasion failed & most of the CIA trained brigade were taken as prisoners.

Fidel Castro remained in power from February 1959 to February 2008.


Fidel Castro
at Jose Marti Monument
Photo by Ricardo Stuckert
Abr (2003)




February 2, 2013


Punxsutawney, Pennsylvania (JFK+50) Will we have six more weeks of winter weather or is an early spring in store?

We found our answer this morning when a groundhog named Punxsutawney Phil crawled out of his burrow & due to cloudy conditions did not see his shadow thus predicting an early spring.


Groundhog Day Ceremony
Punxsutawney, Pennsylvania
Photo by Aaro Silvers (2005)

This tradition began 126 years ago today, on February 2, 1887, when a newspaper editor in Punxsutawney declared Phil the groundhog the only accurate weather forecaster in America.

The editor was a member of the local groundhog hunters club.

The idea actually came from Germany where on CANDLEMAS DAY priests gave out candles for the winter & based the number needed on the predictions of hedgehogs.

German immigrants in Pennsylvania brought the tradition to America but used groundhogs* because of their abundance in the region.

*Groundhogs, aka woodchucks, have short, powerful legs & thick curved claws which are great for digging.  

They have 2 coats of fur & live in the wild on the average of 2 to 3 years.  Groundhogs in protective captivity live up to 14 years. 

 The male groundhog actually comes out of hibernation in the middle of winter to search for a mate, then returns to his burrow until spring.

Thousands of people, approximately 30,000 today, come to Punxsutawney’s “Gobbler’s Knob” to witness PP’s emergence from his burrow.


New England poet, Robert Frost, who participated in JFK’s 1961 inauguration, wrote a poem about the groundhog titled “A Drumlin Woodchuck”….the 1st 3 verses are…

One thing has a shelving bank

Another a rotting plank

To give it cozier skies

And make up for its lack of size.

My own strategic retreat

Is where two rocks almost meet

And still more secure and snug

A two-door burrow I dug.

With those in mind at my back

I can sit forth exposed to attack

As one who shrewdly pretends

That he and the world are friends.

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