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Recovered from the 1941 shipwreck, letters reveal the love and sacrifice of war

“Imagine having my lips pressed tight to yours with my arms around you tight… hearts beat in unison,” a serviceman stationed in India told his beloved, Iris, in 1941.

This passionate prose comes from a love letter from World War II – one of more than 700 letters found aboard the wrecked SS Gairsoppa that restorers strive to piece together.

On February 16, 1941, as the Gairsoppa, a British freighter, was heading for Ireland, a German U-boat torpedoed the ship near the coast, killing all but one of the 86 crew on board. It remained uncovered three miles under the Atlantic Ocean until 2011, when a US company, Odyssey Marine Exploration, found the wreckage. From 2012 to 2013, the company recovered various treasures: personal items of crew members, more than 200,000 pounds of silver and 717 undelivered letters.

The artifacts were eventually donated to the Postal Museum in London. In 2018, the museum exhibited some of the letters in an exhibit titled “Voices From the Deep”.

So far, around 100 letters have been completely processed, according to Jackie Coppen, senior curator at the Postal Museum. The final treatments, including the love letter to Iris, began after Christmas. The Guardian reported this month on efforts to reconstruct the letters.

“We were there really long before the pandemic,” said Eleni Katsiani, another conservator of the Postal Museum. “Now we’re just putting our notes together and hoping we can go back and continue.”

That so many letters were found intact after nearly seven decades under the ocean was extraordinary, agreed Ms Katsiani and Ms Coppen. Discovered in the ship’s cargo storage under piles of mail bags and sediment, the letters were isolated from decaying forces such as currents, light, heat and oxygen, according to the museum.

After the letters were collected, they went through “a gentle cleaning process” that involved fresh water washing and freeze drying, Ms. Katsiani said.

“The rescue operation did a lot for their immediate survival because if they were allowed to dry out they would turn to dust – they would completely disintegrate,” Ms. Katsiani said.

Some of the letters are so fragmented and delicate that it’s nearly impossible to put pieces together, the curators said. Ultimately, they hope to digitize the letters, making them even more accessible to the public, like what was done for the “Voices From the Deep” exhibition.

“It’s like a puzzle, putting them together, which is why we end up reading a lot of them,” Ms. Coppen said.

Correspondence discovered on board the Gairsoppa ranged from Christmas cards to commercial documents. The Conservatives also noted that the correspondence was written on notepaper from countries such as India, Norway and Sweden. The destinations of the letters varied, with most going to Britain and the United States. Ms Katsiani said many were heading to the Salisbury Plain area in southern England, an area known as a training ground for British soldiers.

Two notable pieces of correspondence come from a Major Wilson to his two children, Pam and Michael. The letters, stamped on December 1, 1940, bore the address of an Inglewood hotel in Torquay, England, where Tories believed the two children could have been evacuated during the war.

The letters were found side by side almost 70 years later, according to the Postal Museum.

“They are now in my storage box, next to each other,” Ms. Coppen said. “It feels like they were related to something more than luck.”

In his letter to Pam, the father writes, “You can be sure Mom will send you back to Wycombe as soon as it becomes practical politics. In the meantime, we all need to make the most of things as they are. The war has changed the plans and lifestyles of most people – mine included! “

In the letter to his son, he congratulated him on his improved writing and for joining the Cubs and encouraged him to improve his spelling. The letter also came with a small gift: a glass envelope of used stamps from around the world.

In 2019, the Postal Museum, with the help of the BBC’s ‘The One Show’ program, helped reunite a recipient with a letter addressed to them almost 80 years ago.

In a letter to Phyllis Aldridge, Pvt. Will Walker, of the First Wiltshire Regiment in Allahabad, expressed his excitement over Mrs Aldridge’s acceptance of her marriage proposal, writing: “I cried with joy, I couldn’t help myself. If you could only know how much it made me happy, honey, to know that you accepted me and that you will be mine forever.

However, Mrs. Aldridge – at that time Mrs. Ponting – never received the kind words of Private Walker.

It wasn’t until after the letter was featured on an episode of “The One Show” that Ms. Ponting was reunited with the letter, according to the museum.

Following the 80th anniversary of the Gairsoppa sinking this month, Ms Coppen said, the 700+ letters showed the poignant power of connection and the value of just putting a pen on paper.

“These are people’s stories, aren’t they?” Mrs. Coppen said letters. “This is the everyday, mundane thing written on a piece of paper.”

Travel News

Georgian officials reveal third Trump call to influence election results

ATLANTA – More than a week before President Trump called Georgia’s Secretary of State, pressuring him to “find” votes to help reverse his electoral defeat, the president issued another call, this- ci to a Georgian election investigator, in which he asked the investigator to “find the fraud” in the state.

The previous phone call, which Mr. Trump made in late December, was first reported by the Washington Post on Saturday. The contents of the Post’s report were verified by a state election official who requested anonymity because the official was not authorized to speak about the matter.

During the December appeal, Mr Trump said the investigator would be a “national hero” to find evidence of fraud. The call came as Secretary of State Brad Raffensberger’s office was conducting an audit of over 15,000 ballots in Cobb County, a populated suburb of Atlanta that was once a Republican stronghold but voted against Mr. Trump in 2016 and 2020.

The audit appeared to be an effort to appease Mr Trump and his allies, who repeatedly and baselessly claimed he had lost the Georgia election by around 12,000 votes due to a “rigged” system. “. The president has also repeatedly claimed that there are problems with the signature matching system by which state election officials verify the identity of absent voters.

On December 29, the office of Mr. Raffensperger, a Republican, announced that the audit had found no evidence of fraud.

The new details of the president’s personal pressure campaign on Georgian officials come as Democrats in the House of Representatives announced plans to introduce an impeachment article against the president for “deliberately inciting violence against the government of Georgia. United States, ”a reference to the pro-Trump mob that fiercely attacked the US Capitol on Wednesday. Mr Trump also faces growing calls to resign, as his cabinet is under pressure to invoke the 25th Amendment to remove him from office.

The December appeal to the investigator, like the appeal Mr. Trump made to Mr. Raffensperger, was taped, the official said, but unlike the appeal directly to the Secretary of State, the audio of the newly signaled call was not made public.

A number of legal scholars have said that Mr. Trump’s appeal to Mr. Raffensperger, in which the President appeared to vaguely threaten Mr. Raffensperger with “a criminal offense,” may have violated state and federal laws prohibiting the interference. election, although some have also said it may be difficult for prosecutors to pursue the case.

Earlier in December, Mr Trump issued a third appeal, this one to Governor Brian Kemp, urging him to call a special session of the Georgian legislature in the hope that lawmakers would overturn the election results.

Mr. Kemp and Mr. Raffensperger have rejected all efforts by Mr. Trump to get them to help him overturn the election results, even though they are both conservative Republicans and Trump supporters. Mr Trump publicly attacked the two, spreading a baseless conspiracy theory about Mr Raffensperger’s brother and promising he would back a Republican primary candidate to challenge Mr Kemp, who is due for re-election next year .

In a television interview on Monday, Mr Raffensperger was asked if his office would open an investigation into the president’s phone call with him. He responded that because he had been on the Jan. 2 call he might have a conflict of interest and instead suggested that such an investigation could be ongoing by Fulton County District Attorney Fani Willis.

Last week, a spokeswoman Ms Willis said no investigation had been opened. But Ms Willis, in a statement released last week, did not rule out the possibility and called the news of Mr Raffensperger’s president’s appeal “disturbing.”

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NYC says 3% of its coronavirus tests reveal infections. Why does the state not agree?

A positive rate of 3% in coronavirus tests is a critical threshold for New York. That’s when the mayor closed public schools last week. The governor says a sustained level of 3 percent in the city will result in a ban on indoor dining, the closure of gymnasiums and barber shops, and capping 25 people on attendance at places of worship, even as the holidays approach.

But as important as that 3% rate is, it seems the city and state can’t agree on whether it’s been reached.

This conflict unfolded over the past week, with Mayor Bill de Blasio claiming 3% had been violated, while Governor Andrew M. Cuomo said the rate of positive tests was much lower than that. Each relies on its own statistics, which are compiled and reported in different ways. And it turns out that the state and the city can’t agree on which tests to include in the calculation, either.

The gap can be striking: On Saturday, for example, the city said its seven-day average was 3.11%. Mr. Cuomo’s office, however, put the city’s rate more than half a point lower, at 2.54%.

It’s the latest jarring post between two rivals that unfolded throughout the pandemic, adding a level of dysfunction and confusion to the response.

The cause of the deviation lies both in the tests included and in the time frame in which the statistics are reported. The state considers a new case to arise on the day the test result arrives. The city dates each new case at the time the sample was provided.

So if an infected person is tested on Monday and the result is reported to health officials on Wednesday, the state would include the positive test in Wednesday’s tally of new cases, while the city would add it to Monday’s column.

Since the 3% threshold is based on a seven-day moving average, it is important to know which day a new case is recorded.

Another factor is that antigen tests, although generally faster, are less likely to detect infection in people with a low viral load. New York State includes antigen test results in its official measurements. The city does not. It is based solely on the more sensitive test known as the polymerase chain reaction. That’s why the state – which counts both antigen and PCR testing – may have a higher number of overall cases in New York City, but a lower percentage of positives.

Travel News

Nevada Police Reveal New Details on Episode That Killed 4

It started with a call to police in Henderson, Nevada on Tuesday about a shooting at an apartment complex. It ended with the deaths of four people, including an armed suspect and a 12-year-old boy.

Police released additional details of the episode on Wednesday, including the circumstances under which they shot the gunman, who they said took the boy hostage after killing two women.

The episode began around 11 a.m. Tuesday, when police were called to an apartment complex on Stonelake Cove Avenue, officials said. The appellant had heard gunshots and saw someone with a possible gunshot wound in a doorway, police said.

When officers arrived at the compound, they found two women in their 30s who had been fatally shot, police said on Wednesday. They also found a 16-year-old girl who had been shot but was alive, police said.

Then, police said, officers found the shooter, a resident of the compound who they identified as Jason Neo Bourne, 38. He was “barricaded in a nearby vehicle” and was holding a boy hostage.

“As the police attempted a de-escalation dialogue with the suspect, the suspect brought his gun to the juvenile’s head, resulting in a shootout involving a police officer,” police said in a statement Wednesday.

The 12-year-old boy and Mr. Bourne both died at the scene, police said. Police said they determined that Mr. Bourne fired “inside the vehicle several times”.

Police did not say how many shots were fired or by whom they were fired. It was also unclear what led to the initial shooting, but they said Mr. Bourne lived in the apartment above the victims. The names of the victims have not been released.

Police Department spokesperson Officer Katrina Farrell said the case was “still under investigation” and declined to provide further information. There are police body camera footage from the episode, and that is “usually” released in a week or two, she said.

The murders took place in a three-story building of an apartment complex, the Douglas in Stonelake, which one resident, Amber Belmonte, said was generally calm.

She counted more than two dozen marked police vehicles in addition to unmarked vehicles, fire engines and ambulances at the scene on Tuesday.

In general, she says, life runs smoothly at the resort. “I figured the only thing I was going to insist on was the election,” she said.