Niagara Escarpment

The Niagara Escarpment is a long escarpment, or cuesta, in the United States and Canada that runs predominantly east/west from New York, through Ontario, Michigan and Illinois. The escarpment is most famous as the cliff over which the Niagara River plunges at Niagara Falls, for which it is named; the Escarpment is a UNESCO World Biosphere Reserve. It has the oldest forest ecosystem and trees in eastern North America; the Escarpment is composed of the Lockport Formation of Silurian age, is similar to the Onondaga Formation, which runs parallel to it and just to the south, through western New York and southern Ontario. The Escarpment is the most prominent of several escarpments formed in the bedrock of the Great Lakes Basin. From its easternmost point near Watertown, New York, the escarpment shapes in part the individual basins and landforms of Lakes Ontario and Michigan. In Rochester, New York, three waterfalls over the escarpment are where the Genesee River flows through the city; the escarpment thence runs westward to the Niagara River, forming a deep gorge north of Niagara Falls, which itself cascades over the escarpment.

In southern Ontario, it spans the Niagara Peninsula following the Lake Ontario shore through the cities of St. Catharines and Dundas, where it takes a sharp turn north in the town of Milton toward Georgian Bay, it follows the Georgian Bay shore northwestwards to form the spine of the Bruce Peninsula and Manitoulin Island, as well as several smaller islands in northern Lake Huron, where it turns westwards into the Upper Peninsula of northern Michigan, south of Sault Ste. Marie, it extends southwards into Wisconsin following the Door Peninsula through the Bayshore Blufflands and more inland from the western coast of Lake Michigan and Milwaukee, ending northwest of Chicago near the Wisconsin–Illinois border. Study of rock exposures and drillholes demonstrates that no displacement of the rock layers occurs at the escarpment: this is not a fault line but the result of unequal erosion; the escarpment's caprock is dolomitic limestone known as, more resistant and overlies weaker, more eroded shale as a weathering-resistant "cap".

The escarpment thus formed over millions of years through a process of differential erosion of rocks of different hardnesses. Through time the soft rocks erode by the action of streams; the gradual removal of the soft rocks undercuts the resistant caprock, leaving a cliff or escarpment. The erosional process is most seen at Niagara Falls, where the river has quickened the process, it can be seen at the three waterfalls of the Genesee River at Rochester. In some places thick glacial deposits, such as the Oak Ridges Moraine, conceal the Niagara Escarpment, such as north of Georgetown, where it continues under glacial till and reappears farther north; the dolomite cap was laid down as sediment on the floor of a marine environment. In Michigan, behind the escarpment, the cuesta capstone slopes to form a wide basin, the floor of an Ordovician-Silurian-age tropical sea. There the constant deposition of minute shells and fragments of biologically-generated calcium carbonate, mixed with sediment washed in by erosion of the lifeless landmasses formed a limestone layer.

During the Silurian period, some magnesium substituted for some of the calcium in the carbonates forming harder dolomite layers in the same fashion. Worldwide sea levels were at their all-time maximum in the Ordovician; this dolomite basin contains Lakes Michigan and Erie. The Welland Canal allows ships to traverse the escarpment between Lake Erie and Lake Ontario on the Niagara Peninsula of Ontario; the escarpment was a major obstacle in the construction of the Erie Canal in New York and was traversed by a series of locks. In southern Ontario, the Bruce Trail runs the length of the escarpment from Queenston on the Niagara River to Tobermory on the Bruce Peninsula. Highway 401, Canada's busiest crosses the Niagara Escarpment, beginning its long descent through rolling hills and towns west of Milton. Rock exposed on the face of the escarpment can be seen along Highway 26 from Owen Sound eastwards towards Meaford, Ontario. Hamilton, Ontario is on the escarpment in such a way that the north end of the city is below and the south part above.

Affectionately referred to as "The Mountain" by its residents, many roads or "mountain accesses" join the urban core below with the suburban expansion above. From 1892 to 1936, the Hamilton Incline Railway transported people up and down "The Mountain". High Cliff State Park in Wisconsin shows how modern and prehistoric humans used the escarpment for not only cultural reasons, but economic gains, as well. A number of different animal and geometric effigy mounds and the remains of an early 20th-century limestone quarry and kiln are within the park; the relief and exposed edge are used by several wind farms stretching from Pipe, to Brownsville in Wisconsin. Wind speeds average 18 mph along this stretch; the Niagara Escarpment is a prominent feature just east of Fond du Lac, it is known there as "The Ledge". Some local organizations take their name from it, including The Ledgers, the sports teams at St. Mary's Springs Academy, perched on the side of the escarp

Belostok Offensive

The Belostok Offensive was part of the third and final phase of the Belorussian Strategic Offensive of the Red Army in summer 1944 known as Operation Bagration. The Belostok Offensive was part of the third, or'pursuit' phase of Operation Bagration, was commenced after the completion of the encirclement and destruction of much of Army Group Centre in the Minsk Offensive. Belostok is the Russian name of the Polish city of Białystok. After completing its mission of liquidating the pocket east of Minsk, in which the Fourth Army had been trapped, the bulk of the 2nd Belorussian Front was issued new objectives: to capture Volkovysk and advance towards Białystok; the 49th Army, was further employed in reducing the encirclement until mid-July. The 4th Air Army continued its mission of providing support for the Front's ground forces. After the fall of Minsk the Oberkommando des Heeres could call on few reserves to stop the Soviet advance. On the Białystok axis, the remaining forces were organised into a'blocking group' under the command of General Helmuth Weidling.

This included several new formations in addition to the few troops that had escaped from east of Minsk. To the south, the defence was conducted by the northern wing of Second Army, reinforced, notably with the 28th Jäger Division, in the hope of mounting an attack to break through to the units of Army Group Centre still trapped east of Minsk; the Germans' defence efforts were aided by the presence of old fortifications and defence works from World War I and earlier. Remnants of Fourth Army Sperrgruppe Weidling 50th Infantry Division Kampfgruppe Florke Kampfgruppe von Gottberg 5th Panzer Division Part of 3rd SS Division Totenkopf Northern wing of Second Army LV Corps The above units were under the overall command of Army Group Centre. 2nd Belorussian Front 49th Army 50th Army 4th Air Army By 11 July the 50th Army had forced crossings of the Neman south of Dokudovo and moved forward against Weidling's forces. It crossed the Kotra River by 13 July, reached Grodno by 15 July, its 69th and 81st Rifle Corps stormed Grodno on the morning of the next day.

The Soviet 3rd Army, on the northern flank of the neighbouring 1st Belorussian Front, took Volkovysk in fighting against Herrlein's LV Corps. On 23 July, the Fourth Army commander, Hoßbach, in agreement with Model, committed the newly arrived 19th Panzer Division into a counter-attack with the intention of cutting off the Soviet spearheads in the Augustow Forest. One regiment surprised the Soviet forces in Grodno before being forced back southwards towards Białystok. A second regiment recaptured Lipsk, but was forced to withdraw to assist the first regiment's disengagement. Due to a lack of resources, the German counter-offensive failed, but revealed the exhaustion of both the Soviet and German troops in comparison to fresh units; the 2nd Belorussian Front had forced the entire length of the Neman and Svisloch by 24 July. There was intense fighting as the German 50th Infantry Division attempted to defend the highway between Grodno and Białystok. In the meantime, the 3rd Army had reached the outskirts of Białystok itself, despite strong resistance from the LV Corps.

It took it by 27 July, after several days of street fighting. The Belostok Offensive had proved successful in terms of its immediate tactical objectives: by the end of July the Soviets were in possession of the communications centres of Grodno and Białystok. However, their supply lines were becoming dangerously extended and their troops exhausted; the 2nd Belorussian Front's final objective in Operation Bagration was to advance to the Narew River in the Osovets Offensive. Glantz, David M.. Belorussia 1944: The Soviet General Staff Study. Routledge. ISBN 0714651028. Hinze, Rolf. Ostfrontdrama 1944: Rückzugskämpfe der Heeresgruppe Mitte. Stuttgart: Motorbuch Verlag. ISBN 9783613011380

Wanda Toscanini Horowitz

Wanda Giorgina Toscanini Horowitz was the daughter of the conductor Arturo Toscanini and the wife of pianist Vladimir Horowitz. As a child, Wanda studied voice, she never pursued a professional music career, fearing she could never live up to her father's exacting standards. Despite this, she was one of the few people, willing to stand up to her father; when Arturo Toscanini refused to speak with her sister, following her affair with a married man, it was Wanda who confronted her father and insisted he reestablish contact. At a Toscanini concert, she spotted the critic Virgil Thomson dozing during the performance. Knowing that Thomson gave her father negative reviews, she approached him and announced, “I am Wanda Toscanini Horowitz, I saw you sleep from the first note to the last. I hope you enjoyed the performance.” She was direct with her husband, whom she married in 1933. In the 1950s, when Horowitz was playing a Schubert sonata, she complained of the work’s length, which persuaded the pianist to forgo a repeat.

She pointedly declined to accompany her husband for much of his 1983 tour, when he refused to accept that medications were adversely affecting his playing. Wanda and Horowitz separated in 1948. Byron Janis, one of Horowitz's students, has written that he and Wanda were involved in a brief affair during this period. Horowitz and Wanda reconciled in 1951. In the aftermath of Horowitz’s 1953 nervous breakdown, she remained by his side. While she took pride in being married to the legendary virtuoso, she confided that it was, at times “a cross to bear.” However, others have implied. Arthur Rubinstein stated that "Wanda was a hard woman—hard as stone, this was undoubtedly a factor that led to Volodya's collapse." Wanda referred to their daughter, stating that Sonia's death was the greatest agony a mother could bear. More than a decade after Sonia's death, she was observed bursting into tears at the mention of Sonia's name. Despite being raised Catholic, Wanda was opposed to the Catholic Church’s positions on many issues including birth control.

Like her husband, Wanda held liberal political views. She once referred to Ronald Reagan as “a second-rate actor and a second-rate President.”Following Horowitz's death in 1989, Wanda bought a 200-year-old farm house that she named "Pinci's Acres" in Ashley Falls and stocked it with American antiques and Horowitz memorabilia. She divided her time between this home and the New York City townhouse. An animal lover who volunteered for the ASPCA, she adopted several stray cats; as Horowitz's sole heir, Wanda was in charge of her late husband's musical legacy. In the 1990s, she approved the release of several unavailable recordings, she rejected several recordings, most notably Balakirev's Islamey, which she said was "flashy" repertoire that did a disservice to her husband's memory. Copies of the recording surfaced on the Internet, leading to requests for its release. In 2009, the recording was issued. Wanda was buried alongside her husband in the Toscanini family tomb at Cimitero Monumentale in Milan.

In May, 2004, vandals broke into the crypt and opened her coffin searching for jewelry. Wanda Toscanini Horowitz appeared in several filmed documentaries about her husband, most notably The Last Romantic, in which she responded to her husband's artistry and reflected on her life in the world of music as daughter and wife of two incomparable musicians. A friend of Woody Allen, she had a small speaking part in his film Crimes and Misdemeanors