Revolutionary War battlefield of Saratoga to be excavated

One of the most important battlefields of the Revolutionary War is going to be excavated by archaeologists ahead of an EPA cleanup.

Back in the 1950s, 60s, and 70s, General Electric dumped polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs) into the Hudson River near Saratoga, New York. The dumping was banned in 1977 due to risks to public health, and the EPA has ordered GE to dredge up the affected silt from the river. Dredging destroys archaeological sites, though, and has already damaged Fort Edward, a British fort in the area dating to the mid 18th century. Archaeologists are working to excavate the stretch of river near Saratoga before the dredgers arrive.

Saratoga was on the frontier for much of the 18th century and played a large part in the French and Indian Wars (1755-1763) and the Revolutionary War (1775-1783). During the two battles of Saratoga in September and October of 1777, the American army stopped the British advance down the Hudson River Valley, then surrounded them and forced them to surrender. It was a major victory that led to the French coming into the war on the American side. French help was one of the deciding factors in an ultimate American victory, and the creation of the United States.

The Saratoga National Historical Park 9 miles south of Saratoga, New York, includes the battlefield, a visitor center, the restored country house of American General Philip Schuyler, a monument, and Victory Woods where the British surrendered on October 17, 1777.

Archaeologists hope to find artifacts from both wars and are currently looking for a British army camp.

[Image courtesy U.S. government]

Airport puffer program scrapped – millions wasted

It is no secret that the government can be a huge source of wasteful spending, but seldom is money wasted as swiftly as when it comes to purchases for our “national security”.

In 2004, the Department of Homeland Security purchased 207 “puffer machines” to deploy around the various airports.

These machines cost $160,000 each, and despite this insane price, they would break down quite regularly. Simple things like dirt and humidity could render the machines unusable, raising the yearly operating costs to just under $50,000 (per machine!).

Total loss: $33 Million.

Worst of all, only 94 of these expensive contraptions were actually put into service protecting us – the rest are still in a warehouse awaiting airport deployment, something that will never happen.

I hope they’ll be able to get a good price for them on Ebay, though I doubt they’ll ever fetch anything close to the $17 Million the taxpayer spent on them, even if they are new in box.

Scrapping the program won’t bother the TSA too much, they are about to spend close to $50 Million on those nifty new full body image scanners.