Switzerland’s Unique Travel System is the Best in the World

By Judy Zimmerman  |  2016-05-06

Bernina Express. Photo courtesy  www.swissrailsystem.com

You can set your clocks by Swiss trains, along with its postal busses, lake steamers, and city bus lines. All are connected in a dense travel system that is synchronized for amazingly easy and prompt connections that is an unforgettable experience.

Although Switzerland’s unique paradise is only 216 miles from north to south and 137 miles from east to west, it encompasses four diverse cultural regions where the people speak different languages: German – 64%, French – 23%, Italian – 8%, and Romansch – 1%.

After landing at Zurich’s airport, it's an easy walk to the airport’s own train station.  From here the route travels through eastern Switzerland to the Europe’s largest Rhine Falls and the city of Schaffhausen, with its landmark Munot fortress.

You pass Lake Constance which shares its shoreline with Germany and Austria, and in about an hour arrive in the university city of St. Gallen, founded in the seventh century. A popular attraction is the Abbey Library, which houses some 170,000 rare books and manuscripts.

The best way to discover all the delights of Switzerland is by taking its “Grand Train Tour” — eight inter-linked rail routes which bring together the highlights of Swiss public transport, placing the emphasis on must-see attractions. This wonderfully diverse journey will whisk you through spectacular scenery as you lean back, rest, and relax in comfort.

One of the most popular train routes is the famous Glacier Express which links the Alpine resorts of St. Moritz and Zermatt that is surrounded by snow-capped mountains and the majestic Matterhorn. The train crosses no fewer than 291 bridges, passes through 91 tunnels and travels along seven valleys. The journey from Canton Valais to the Engadine takes about eight hours, winding past glistening glaciers and crystal clear lakes.

The Glacier Express travels through the glorious Goms region with its typical timbered dwellings. The sunny valley of the Upper Goms is one of the most beautiful landscapes in Switzerland.

It then continues through the rugged splendor of the Rhine Gorge (the “Grand Canyon of Switzerland”).  From Chur, the route extends to the famous holiday resort of St. Moritz which became the birthplace of Alpine tourism in 1864.

The “Grand Train Tour of Switzerland” also includes three other panorama trains — the Bernina Express, the Golden Pass, and the William Tell Express.

The Bernina Express is one of the most unforgettable routes in Switzerland, offering breathtaking views of the Morteratsch Glacier, Lake Bianco, and the Poschiavo Valley in Italian-speaking Switzerland.

The Bernina Express Bus, the Palm Express, runs year-round past a cluster of quaint villages and Lake Como enroute to the palm trees that line Lugano's lakefront.

The Golden Pass Line links German-speaking central Switzerland with the French language part of the country.  This route passes countless lakes and waterfalls, including world-renowned destinations such as Lucerne, Interlaken, Gstaad, and Montreux on Lake Geneva.

And then there is the William Tell Express, which takes travelers to sun-kissed Canton Ticino with its Mediterranean-like magic.  The first part of the journey is by boat across Lake Lucerne, followed by the first class train trip in panoramic railcars along the wonderful historic Gotthard route, an outstanding engineering achievement that was opened in 1882.

The Swiss Travel Pass, valid for 3, 4, 8, or 15 days, is a single all-in-one ticket that covers travel by the Glacier Express, Bernina Express, Golden Pass Line, and William Tell Express. The only extra is the surcharge for a mandatory seat reservation (not required on the Golden Pass Line.)  For more information and to purchase a pass, visit www.swisstravelsystem.com

The Swiss have also created a perfect system for baggage transportation. Visitors from abroad can hand in baggage at any departure airport worldwide and have it delivered directly to their Swiss destination. With selected airlines, the system operates in the opposite direction when travelling back from Switzerland. And while traveling within Switzerland, visitors can also have their baggage forwarded from one destination to another. To find out more on this, visit www.SwissTravelSystem.com/baggage.

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Recent revelations by the Pentagon’s inspector general indicates that U.S. Central Command, which bears responsibility for military operations in the Middle East, altered intelligence analyses to support the Obama administration’s contention that limited air strikes have “contained ISIS.” If so, that’s unfortunately nothing new. Politically skewed intelligence has a history.

In November 1967, President Lyndon Johnson ordered Gen. William Westmoreland, Military Assistance Command for Vietnam (MACV), home for a public relations tour. Facing re-election in 1968, Johnson needed another term to implement his Great Society. He needed Westmoreland to reassure a war-weary public and bolster his upcoming re-election campaign.

Starting in 1966, MACV conducted massive ground sweep operations compiling impressive “quantitative” victories; these victories focused on obtaining body counts of 10-enemies-to-one-American. Numbers of enemy dead, wounded, and captured, plus compilations of weapons and rice caches captured, along with expanded secure areas within South Vietnam, were all considered indications of progress.

During his “victory tour,” Westmoreland told a joint session of Congress that the war would be won by 1970. He repeated the story on CBS’s “Face the Nation.” Assured by Westmoreland that there was “light at the end of the tunnel,” Time magazine named Lyndon Johnson 1967’s “Man of the Year.”

Two months later the Viet Cong—backed by North Vietnamese forces—launched attacks in 38 of South Vietnam’s 44 provincial capitals. During the Tet Offensive, the enemy struck American and South Vietnamese military headquarters in Saigon and broached the U.S. embassy outer compound. The North Vietnamese Army captured the ancient imperial capital at Hue, holding if for a month. Almost 4,000 American soldiers and Marines, along with 5,000 South Vietnamese troops, were killed in the fighting. An estimated 15,000 South Vietnamese citizens also died. The administration’s optimistic assertions heightened the devastating impact on the public’s will to continue the struggle.

On March 31, 1968, rather than lose the Democratic nomination to Robert Kennedy, LBJ withdrew from the campaign. Johnson’s dreams of a “Great Society” died, along with American soldiers—needless victims of intelligence skewed to satisfy Johnson’s domestic political agenda.

During the 1968 presidential campaign, Republican Richard Nixon touted a “secret plan to end the war” during his first term. After eeking out a close victory, Nixon and National Security Advisor Henry Kissinger unveiled “Vietnamization,” a plan to slowly turn the war back to the South Vietnamese while withdrawing U.S. forces. American air power, including secret bombing of Cambodia and intensification of the bombing of the Ho Chi Minh Trail in Laos, Operation Command Hunt, would cover the withdrawal.

Nixon feared another Tet-style offensive might jeopardize withdrawal. In May, Nixon ordered U.S. troops into communist sanctuaries in Cambodia where they stayed for two months. Vietnamization continued. Then in February and March 1971, U.S. air power supported an Army of the Republic of Vietnam (ARVN) invasion of Laos to cut the Ho Chi Minh Trail. Operation Lam Son 719 was a debacle that cost half the lives of half the 15,000-man ARVN invading force, 108 U.S. Army helicopters shot down, and 289 American lives. Nevertheless, Nixon dubbed Lam Son 719 “South Vietnam’s greatest victory so far.” Vietnamization continued and so did skewed intelligence.

To support the Nixon administration’s Vietnamization policy, U.S. Air Force intelligence depicted Commando Hunt as an air-power success with 85 percent of enemy supplies and troops entering the Ho Chi Minh Trail never reaching South Vietnam. Air Force and the Defense Intelligence Agency claimed Commando Hunt destroyed thousands of North Vietnamese trucks. These were lies to support the efficacy of Vietnamization.

Things looked so good by late March 1972 that the American ambassador to South Vietnam, Ellsworth Bunker, was in Nepal spending Easter week with his wife, the ambassador to Katmandu. MACV commander Gen. Creighton Abrams traveled to Bangkok to celebrate Easter Sunday with his family.

Air Force intelligence—chocked full of optimism—didn’t tally when on Wednesday, March 29, 1972, ten North Vietnamese and two Viet Cong Divisions (mostly composed of North Vietnamese) invaded South Vietnam. The South Vietnamese military, massively backed by U.S. air power, eventually contained the invasion during Operation Linebacker, the most effective aerial interdiction operation of the war.

In January 1973, the warring parties signed a treaty allowing the withdrawal of U.S. remaining forces. North Vietnam released 591 American prisoners of war. Two years later, in less than three months, a North Vietnamese invading force reunited Vietnam under a communist regime.

It took a generation after all of this to rebuild trust in the U.S. military.

Today, false claims that limited air strikes are working on ISIS track with the facile assertion that an Internet video prompted the September 11, 2012 Benghazi murders of U.S. Ambassador Christopher Stevens and three other heroic Americans. Lying in matters of national security, especially to support partisan political ends, can be deadly and is worsened by its callously self-serving nature.


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Letter Carriers Stamp Out Hunger

Source: Willie Henderson, Carmichael post office food drive coordinator, Nalc branch 4494  |  2016-05-02

Participating in this year’s Letter Carriers Stamp Out Hunger Food Drive is simple: just leave a non-perishable food donation in a bag by your mail box on Saturday, May 14th and your Letter Carrier will do the rest. Photo courtesy United States Postal Service

Saturday, May 14th marks the 24th anniversary of one of America’s great days of giving: the National Association of Letter Carriers Stamp Out Hunger Food Drive.

Letter carriers walk through the community every day, often coming face to face with a sad reality for too many, hunger. So each year on the second Saturday in May, Letter Carriers across the country collect non-perishable food donations from our customers. These donations go directly to local food pantries to provide food to people in Sacramento who need their help.

Last year they collected over 71 million pounds of food nationally, feeding an estimated 30 million people. Over the course of its 23-year history, the drive has collected well over one billion pounds of food, thanks to a postal service universal delivery network that spans the entire nation, including Puerto Rico, Guam and U.S. Virgin Islands.

The need for food donations is great; currently 49 million Americans (one in six) are unsure where their next meal is coming from. Sixteen million are children who feel hunger's impact on their overall health and ability to perform in school. And over 5 million seniors over age 60 are food insecure, with many who live on fixed incomes are often too embarrassed to ask for help.

This food drive’s timing is crucial. Food banks and pantries often receive the majority of their donations during the Thanksgiving and winter holiday seasons. By springtime, many pantries are depleted, entering the summer low on supplies at a time when many school breakfast and lunch programs are not available to children in need.

Participating in this year’s Letter Carriers Stamp Out Hunger Food Drive is simple. Just leave a non-perishable food donation in a bag by your mail box on Saturday, May 14th and your Letter Carrier will do the rest. You are invited to join in America’s great day of giving and help fight to end hunger.

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Public Library to Shake Taboo on Death

Source: Sacramento Public Library  |  2016-04-29

In her memoir, Smoke Gets in Your Eyes, Doughty helps to demystify death by sharing her experience working in a Bay Area crematorium. Photo courtesy The Order of the Good Death

Sacramento Public Library will shake the taboo off of death during the second session of its new community discussion series called “Let’s Talk About.”

The discussion will focus on why our society doesn’t openly talk about death. Facilitating the discussion will be author Caitlin Doughty and local law enforcement Chaplain Jenny Ebinger.

In her memoir, Smoke Gets in Your Eyes, Doughty helps to demystify death by sharing her experience working in a Bay Area crematorium. Today, as a modern mortician, she has founded the death acceptance collective, The Order of the Good Death, and reaches nearly 75,000 people with her “Ask a Mortician” YouTube series.

Chaplain Jenny Ebinger helps local families to acknowledge and cope with death. As an active law enforcement chaplain volunteer, she supports local officials, families and victims as they deal with death.

The discussion takes place on Sunday, May 15th from 1 to 2:30 p.m. at the Tsakopoulos Library Galleria located at 828 I Street in Sacramento. Seating is limited. Register for the event at www.letstalksacramento.org.

Sacramento Public Library’s new discussion series called, “Let’s Talk About” is designed to engage the local community in the lost art of conversation. It’s a meetup for your mind.

The series addresses topics society doesn’t often discuss and provides resources for people to educate themselves on those topics.

Sacramento Public Library will provide a respectful environment for the discussions to take place. The community is invited to join the discussion as an observer or a thoughtful contributor.

For more information, visit www.letstalksacramento.org.

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SCSO Caps 20th Season with European Masterworks and New CD Release

Source: SCSO  |  2016-04-21

The Sacramento Community Center Theater will cap their 20th season with a performance featuring three contrasting choral orchestral works by Haydn, Vaughan Williams, and Dvoràk. Photo courtesy SCSO

Conductor Donald Kendrick and the SCSO plan to cap their landmark 20th season on May 14th at 8 p.m. at the Sacramento Community Center Theater with a performance featuring three contrasting choral orchestral works by Haydn, Vaughan Williams, and Dvoràk. But the celebration doesn’t end there! The evening will also serve as a huge CD release party as the SCSO plans to unveil its 9th professionally mastered CD — Carmina Burana II — at this year-end performance.

Haydn’s Harmonimesse will serve as the evening’s main musical fare, complemented by Vaughan Williams’ An Oxford Elegy, and Dvoràk’s Psalm 149 on the first half of the concert.

“The Harmoniemesse will bring back so many warm memories as this was the amazing work that we featured during our first self-funded European tour to Munich, Prague, Vienna, and Budapest in 2004,” said Conductor Donald Kendrick. Four outstanding soloists and narrator Phillip Rider will join the SCSO Team on stage for this performance.

“A post concert reception, projected supertitle translations, and Don Kendrick’s electric and educational pre-concert talk at 7 p.m. will enhance the evening’s enjoyment for our concert attendees,” added SCSO Board Member Charlene Black.

According to SCSO President James McCormick, “Our new CD is a live recording of our very well-received Carmina Burana performance on March 5th, 2016 at the Community Center Theater. We’re thrilled that the CD will also showcase the American première of English composer Jonathan Dove’s Psalms for Leo. The amazing 12-page color CD insert promises to add great value to the CD itself.”

SCSO European Masterworks tickets are $30 to $45 with a 50 percent discount for students. For tickets, call the Sacramento Community Center Box Office at (916) 808-5181 or visit sacramentochoral.com for both tickets and information.

For more information about this press release, please contact Jeannie Brown, Director of Marketing at (916) 496-0175 or President, James McCormick at (916) 536-9065.

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Coming of Age During the Holocaust: A Day of Remembrance

By Elise Spleiss  |  2016-04-18

A young Gina Parker. From the age of 15 to 22, Parker survived five labor concentration camps from 1939 to 1945, three in Poland and two in Germany. Photo courtesy of Tamara Theodore

Holocaust Remembrance Day is May 5th, 2016. On Sunday, May 1st, 2016 the Sacramento region will have an opportunity to learn about the experiences of two Holocaust survivors during World War II. This is a highly educational event and children and teens are encouraged to attend with their families.

The theme for this year’s Sacramento Yom HaShoah (Day of Remembrance) Commemoration is: “The Holocaust: Coming of Age during the Holocaust.”

The stories of survivors Gina Parker and Rita Rimalower-Nettler will be told by their daughters, Tamara Theodore and Michele Gold. Both survivors were 15-years-old when their stories began.

Theodore will tell her mother, Gina Parker’s story in public for the first time.  From the age of 15 to 22, Parker survived five labor concentration camps from 1939 to 1945, three in Poland and two in Germany. She also suffered through but survived two “death marches.” She was finally freed from the second march by Russian troops on April 23rd, 1945 at the age of 22. She weighed 65 pounds and was wearing only a prison dress, a high heel shoe and a boot. The march began with 10,000 prisoners but only 20 had survived from her group.

In 2007 Parker visited the classroom of Janet Smith, a teacher at Lincoln High School. Her talk was readily received by the students. Theodore will have thank you notes from these students at her talk. Gina Parker died on February 19th, 2013 of COPD, a pulmonary disease, related to enforced testing done on her by doctors during her incarceration.

Theodore said that she often felt guilty when she asked her mother about her experiences. Even though those memories made her physically ill Parker maintained, “I will go to the grave with the pain I have and the loss I have. But I don’t have any bitterness towards the Germans. They were duped.”

Michele Gold is an educator at the Los Angeles Museum of the Holocaust and author of “Memories that Won’t Go Away: A Tribute to the Children of the Kindertransport.” Gold’s mother was Rita Rimalower-Nettler who was 15-years-old when became one of 10,000 Jewish refugee children brought from Germany to Great Britain from 1938 to 1940 on the Kindertransport. She arrived in England on March 3rd, 1939 and was taken in and raised by a loving family. Gold uses the more than 40 post cards discovered in her mother’s belongings following her death in 2008 to tell her story. The cards which had been written to her aunt and uncle in Switzerland tell the of Rita’s attempts to discover what had happened to her parents.

This special event will include a candlelight procession at 6:15 p.m., a poetry reading and recognition of the student winners of the “Tribute to the Rescuers” essay contest. The international contest, sponsored by the Institute for Holocaust Education, asks contestants to recognize an historical individual or group who showed moral courage with a tie into the Holocaust.

The commemoration is Sunday, May 1st from 6:30 to 8 p.m. at Mosaic Law Congregation, 2300 Sierra Boulevard, Sacramento. For more information: (916) 488-1122.


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SOARing to Healthy Heights

By Elise Spleiss  |  2016-04-18

Students hold signs to help promote SOAR’s annual health fair. Photo courtesy SOAR

In the words of writer and activist Betty Friedan, “Aging is not lost youth but a new stage of opportunity and strength.” Get ready to get healthy, stay healthy, or help others get healthy!

Citrus Height’s 9th annual nation award winning “SOAR to Healthy Heights” spring senior health fair is upon us again. The event has become an annual fixture in Citrus Heights. This year will bring everything you look for in a health fair and more.

The free event will take place on Thursday, May 12th from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. at the Citrus Heights Community Center, 6300 Fountain Square Drive, next to Sam’s Club.

Honorary Chair, County Supervisor Roberta MacGlashan, will great attendees, setting the tone for a fun and informative day.

Wear your walking shoes and comfortable clothes. The four hours will go fast with 60 exhibitors dedicated to senior issues and concerns. Plan to join dance instructor Thomas Spencer at 9 a.m. for a good 30 minutes of rejuvenating chair exercises. At 10 a.m. enjoy a healthy 1.35 mile round trip walk from the Community Center to the Stock Ranch Nature Preserve and back.

Three workshops will give information on Fall Prevention along with Balance Assessment by specialist Kelly Ward; Senior Safety and Crime Prevention by Lt. Jason Russo, CHPD; and Becoming Dementia Aware and the Importance of Caregiving with “Dementia Whisperer” Laura Wayman.

At noon be sure to be seated and ready for a panel of experts answering questions and discussing all topics related to caregiving of all kinds.

Health screenings include blood pressure, diabetes, hearing, and vision testing.

All participants will receive a goodie bag provided by SAS Shoes.

Sponsors and partners include Neighborhood Area10, Arcade Creek Neighborhood 4, Northwest Neighborhood Area 1, Citrus Heights Lions, Republic Services, SMUD, and Sunrise Recreation and Park.

For more information contact Dr. Jayna Karpinski-costa at (916) 599-3647 or at vetlaw@drjayna.com.


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