National News

Q-and-A on the News

Posted January 10, 2018 2:03 p.m. EST

Q: After most elections, someone always refuses to concede to a victor, such as in Alabama with the U.S. Senate race between Doug Jones and Roy Moore. What does that matter? The winner is declared by the most votes. The loser can fail to concede and it still does not change the results. Why is so much written and broadcast about failure to concede?

-- Robert H. Parrish Jr., Thomasville, Ga.

A: Since the nation's earliest days, losers in presidential elections typically acknowledged the outcome in private, and, given the time it took to tally and report national votes, often days or weeks after Election Day. In 1896, the public concession was born when William Jennings Bryan sent a congratulatory telegram to William McKinley, explained Scott Farris in his book, "Almost President."

"Sen. Jones has just informed me that the returns indicate your election, and I hasten to extend my congratulations," Bryan reportedly wrote in his telegram. "We have submitted the issue to the American people and their will is law."

As technology changed, so did the mode of the concession -- from telegram and telephone to radio to television. Media interest in electoral concessions at the presidential and other levels also grew.

In a 2016 Time report, historian and political theorist Paul Corcoran said concessions today are generally demanded by the media, but rarely "concede" a loss. The loser usually follows a formula, he said, of congratulating the winner, but importantly calling for unity and rallying supporters to accept the results.

Q: On Dec. 27, we went to The Hall of Presidents exhibit at Disney World where this exhibit was interrupted by an outburst of "Lock him up" by Jay Malsky, former executive assistant at NBC, at the end of the exhibit when President Donald Trump was speaking. What did Disney do with him afterwards?

-- Brenda Brettschneider, Atlanta

A: "I was asked to leave the attraction after meeting with Disney security, who were professional and courteous," Malsky told Q-and-A on the News via email.

Q: I noticed (in December) when watching the Washington, D.C., news shows that the foliage surrounding the White House and Capitol Hill was still beautiful. Does fall foliage routinely peak later in D.C. than in the Southeast?

-- Joel Wilkerson, Atlanta

A: Fall foliage color would peak earlier in D.C. as compared to locations further south, John R. Seiler, a professor of forest biology at Virginia Tech, told Q-and-A on the News via email.

Q: With the Atlanta Falcons making the playoffs, it raises an interesting question. How much money does each player get for making the playoffs and how much do they get for each game?

-- Eddie Webster, Douglasville, Ga.

A: For the wild-card games, the bonus money for players is $28,000 for the division winner and $26,000 for other winners, according to media reports. During the divisional playoffs, players on both the winning and losing teams earn $28,000.

For the AFC and NFC championship games, the amount rises to $51,000 per player, according to nj.com. For this year's Super Bowl LII, players on the winning team earn a $112,000 bonus and those on the losing team earn a $56,000 bonus.

A player can earn a maximum of $219,000 in bonus money (in this case, the player would be on a team that wins the division, participates in a wild-card game and wins the Super Bowl), according to cbssports.com and nj.com.

The Falcons won an NFC wild-card game over the Los Angeles Rams last Saturday and will play at Philadelphia in the next round on Saturday.

Q: Does the sun in Alaska shine in the same place once every six months? I want to know why in December is the shortest daylight hours and in June the longest daylight hours. Is this the way we travel around the sun?

-- Robert Hand, Stockbridge, Ga.

A: Because the Earth's axis is tilted 23.5 degrees, the North Pole of Earth is tilted toward the sun in June -- our summertime -- while the southern hemisphere is tilted away from the sun, Mark Lancaster, an astronomer at Fernbank Science Center, told Q-and-A on the News. As a result, our summer is their winter.

"As the Earth orbits the sun, six months later just the opposite occurs, as the southern hemisphere is pointed towards the sun and the northern hemisphere is pointed away from the sun," he wrote.

The sun's altitude is higher in the summertime, leading to more daylight hours. For example, in Anchorage, Alaska, the sun on June 20 will get to about 52 degrees above the horizon (straight overhead being 90 percent) but on Dec. 20, the sun will barely get to 5 degrees above the horizon.

"At the North Pole in winter, the sun won't get above the horizon at all for a period of time, while at the South Pole the sun doesn't set for that same period of time," he wrote.

Q: Can you tell me how Chuck Yeager is doing?

-- Don Penovi, Atlanta

A: Yeager, the World War II fighter pilot ace who broke the sound barrier in 1947 and was also the first person to fly faster than Mach 2, is active on Twitter -- (at)GenChuckYeager. There, answers are provided about the retired general's career and present day life.

On Jan. 2, a Twitter user asked, "How is your vision nowadays compared to the 20/10 or so that I hear it was decades ago?" Yeager tweeted: "It was 20/7. It depends on what I'm looking for -- if bandits, bogeys, targets, whatever I'm huntin' -- it's still very good."

The website, chuckyeager.com, provides information about his career and life and ways to reach out for him to autograph items, and his wife, Victoria, blogs at victoriayeager.com. Yeager will turn 95 in February.

Q: How many American ships were sunk by Germany off the coast of Georgia during World War II?

-- Bob Markert, Roswell, Ga.

A: In the early days of the United States' involvement in World War II, Georgia's maritime industries and the merchant ships in its waters attracted unwanted attention from German U-boat skipper Reinhard Hardegen. The commander was already prowling the waters off the East Coast as early as January 1942, when his U-123 submarine sank the unarmed and unescorted 5,200-ton Allied freighter the City of Atlanta, a Savannah-based ship, off of North Carolina.

Hardegen sank four more merchant ships before entering Georgia's shallow waters off St. Simons Island, Bainbridge State College professor John Vanzo wrote for the New Georgia Encyclopedia.

It was there on April 8, 1942 that his U-boat ambushed two merchant ships within an hour -- first sinking the 9,200-ton oil tanker Oklahoma before sinking the 8,000-ton Esso Baton Rouge tanker, Vanzo wrote. (Because they sank in such shallow waters, both were salvaged and rejoined the war effort.)

The next day, U-123 claimed the steamship SS Esparta about 14 miles south of Brunswick before heading south to Florida, Vanzo wrote. Those three sinkings -- and the 23 crewmen who were killed in the attacks -- were the closest German U-boat attacks to the Georgia coast.

However, in summer 1943, the Germans sank two more ships in the waters about 150 miles east of Brunswick. On June 10, 1943, the turbine tanker Esso Gettysburg was sunk by U-66, which also claimed turbine tanker Bloody Marsh on July 2.

Fast Copy News Service wrote this column for The Atlanta Journal-Constitution. Do you have a question about the news? We'll try to get the answer. Call 404-222-2002 or email q&a(at)ajc.com (include name, phone and city).

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