Monday, July 30, 2012

Mitt's British Gaffe?


"Mitt, just don't give me any of those bloody DVDs"          AP Photo

The US Media slammed Mr Romney for insulting the Brits by asking if they thought the Olympics would be successful, and if they had enough security.  Mr Romney had some experience in this venue since he had managed the Olympics which were held in Utah a while back.  His questions bore legitimacy as Olympics success is measured in a variety of ways, from attendance, to revenue, to safety.  And, rather than being insulted by his remarks, it seems his opinion was sought by the Brits.

(c) timeout2




In this Olympic venture, Great Britain has been inundated by torrential rains and bad weather -- issues the Brits had likely not foreseen and definitely affecting attendance -- thus Romney's "success" comments.
Empty seats filled with students and soldiers  (c) Mirror



Adding to weather problems has been the "empty seats issue" as thousands of seats remain unfilled at major events -- while vendors tell fans that the seats are sold out.

There is an official investigation underway.





But, let's examine Mr Romney's security question.

Seems the Brits were somewhat uncomfortable and felt the available police and security forces were inadequate to provide the security necessary for the Games -- particularly after the security firm G4S failed to deliver the 10,000 security personnel it had promised, and then, there was that little incident which was construed as potential terrorism two weeks ago.

                                                         (c) David Horsey

So, the Government called up 18,200 military troops to provide security.

Now, according to the Guardian and the McClatchy News, the force providing security consists of 36,000 soldiers, police, and private security personnel, augmented by an undetermined number of US security officers. In addition, thousands of new security cameras have been installed along with UAV/drones aloft constantly to monitor ground activity.



HMS Ocean                    (c) Daily Mail


To ward off a potential major attack, the Brits have stationed their largest warship, the HMS Ocean, in the Thames, along with a Surface-to-Air missile deployment -- perhaps to cope with an airborne threat.  We'll assume the ship carries a large contingent of Marines and Special Operations forces as a quick reaction force to deal with potential terrorists.



And, the MSM has reported that Romney met with the British MI-6 [similar in function to our CIA].

Heaven help us!  Why would he meet with the British Spooks?

Turns out the British Prime Minister had requested the meeting so he could brief Mr Romney -- the potential next President of the US, on Syria.  This contradicts the American Press version of the event -- which accused Mr Romney of "blabbing secrets".

MI-6  Clandestine Services  [like DIA's Clan Services]

In reality, Mr Romney, at their request, met with the full range of senior British officials, including PM David Cameron, Deputy PM Nick Clegg, Labour Leader Ed Miliband, and former PM Tony Blair.


   Mr Romney's meeting with Sir John Sawers, head of MI-6, was at the request of PM Cameron; following the meeting at #10 Downing Street, Mr Cameron accompanied Mr Romney into the street where the contents of the meeting[s] were jointly disclosed to the Press.


So, the hand-wringing by the American Press establishment, our very own MSM, was all for show, once again, to accuse Mr Romney of being a lightweight in foreign affairs and in matters of national secrecy.  



We do have to admire Mr Obama's expert manipulation of the MSM to try to discredit Mr Romney.

But, what we take away from this episode of deception by the US Press Corps is that the Brits seem to have lost all confidence in Mr Obama, and have turned to Mr Romney as the presumptive President come next January.

British Poster


So, in contrast to what the US MSM has portrayed as a diplomatic blunder on the part of Mr Obama, we learn that our British Ally recognizes Mr Romney as someone they CAN trust, and have thus confided their closest secrets to him -- which they apparently have chosen NOT to do with Mr Obama.

Before we close, let's take a look at Mr Obama's history of insults with our British friends.

Shortly after his inauguration, Mr Obama made quite a show of contempt for the Brits by returning their 9/11 gift/loan of the Oval Office bust of Winston Churchill -- which act annoyed the Brits somewhat more than did Mr Romney's legitimate questions.

Mr Obama's rationale was that his Kenyan granddad had been imprisoned by the Brits during the Mau Mau rebellion -- which turned out to be untrue as his granddad sat out that conflict at a very safe distance; but it made for a great media splash for him.

Churchill Bust -- 9/11 GB-US Alliance Symbol


1) On the act of returning the bust, WH Communications Director Pfeiffer claimed the bust had never been sent back to the Brits, and to prove it, showed a photo of Obama caressing a similar bust in the WH "outside the Treaty Room".

But, those nasty Brits!

They responded that, in fact, they do have the bust that Obama tossed back to them and it has been on display in the British Ambassador's residence in DC ever since Obama returned it.

Charles Krauthammer gleefully reported that the bust that Obama was shown displaying was one given to Lyndon Johnson more than 50 years ago.


2) In exchange for several priceless gifts [an ornamental desk pen holder carved from the timbers of the Victorian anti-slaver HMS Gannet] presented by the British PM  to the POTUS, Mr Obama gave him a 25 DVDs from the WH Gift Shop] -- which were unusable in GB.

3) And, ending a long tradition of friendship, Mr Obama snubbed the PM by not giving him face time, or even the traditional State Dinner.

The Brits have fought alongside us for nearly a century in WWI, WWII, Korea, Iraq, and Afghanistan.  So, we are inclined to call them our Closest Ally.  So, when Mr Obama called France Our Closest Ally, our British friends felt insulted -- but, we didn't see that reported by the US Press Corps.
But, they're completely unbiased   (c) hyscience

We are disturbed that the US Press Corps seems to have become the close ally of Mr Obama -- to the extent that we can no longer trust any political news they report.

We also note that on nearly every digital page of The Washington Post, there is a digital Anti-Romney advertisement -- we assume posted by The Washington Post at their own expense.
[Do they list this as a campaign contribution?]



Freedom of the Press is paramount in this country -- but we are appalled when the US Press becomes a funnel of Political Propaganda from the Executive Office.


Saturday, July 21, 2012

Clinton Attacked in Egypt

Protesting Hillary's visit and support for President Morsi



Click here for related story [RT]

Secretary of State Hillary Clinton's motorcade was attacked [in July 2012] by Egyptian mobs in Egypt, with protestors shouting "Monica, Monica!" indicating that domestic politics in the US are world news.  In an extension of Tip O'Neal's observation that "All Politics is Local", we note that indeed the internal scandals in the US have an impact on our image throughout the world.

US Media reveled in shoe assault on Bush
(c) MSNBC

We recall that when President Bush was the target of a shoe thrown by an Iraqi "journalist", Bush became the object of derision and ridicule by the US Media -- which now expresses outrage that Ms Clinton's dignity has been abused.  Now, had she been a Conservative, she'd have received the Bush derisive treatment.

The New York Times alludes to GOP evil-doers engineering these protests, blaming it specifically on Michelle Bachman's rhetoric.



I did not have sex with this woman!


In this case, Hillary Clinton's linkage to Bill, as much as she would like to distance herself, will likely haunt her wherever she travels in the world.

Of course, she does have her own personal baggage which did not make international headlines, but we won't dwell on that, for now.





Pelted with shoes and tomatoes; they don't like her
According to on-the-scene reporting, Clinton was pelted with tomatoes and shoes to protest US interference in Egypt's internal affairs as well as in Iraq, Afghanistan, and Pakistan, and its failure to condemn Israel for its continued encroachment on Palestinian territory.

Clinton with President Morsi               (c) Politico







Protestors later demonstrated outside Clinton's hotel for her meeting with Egypt's newly elected President Mohammed Morsi, who is supported by the Islamist Brotherhood.








Much of the protest seems to have been inspired by Tawfik Okasha, a former Presidential candidate [dubbed the Egyptian Glenn Beck], who fears a US conspiracy with President Morsi to replace Egyptian military commanders with Muslim Brotherhood officers.
 

Okasha owns an Egyptian television station whose conspiracy theories have come under a great deal of ridicule by his opponents.

Given recent events, and his growing following, perhaps there is significant segment of the educated population of Egypt which now supports his theories.


There is a lot more to the Egytian political scene than what we see reported in the US, or even generally in the Western Press.  We'll do some digging and try to increase coverage of this situation; but, we do see some similarities between the rigging of the Egyptian military leadership, and like replacements in the US military hierarchy.


Friday, July 20, 2012

Miracle On the Hudson - Life or Death

Cell Phone Photo by Janis Krums


Click here for video link of US Airways Flight 1549 simulation




On 15 January 2009, US Airways Flight 1549 departed from New York City's LaGuardia Airport.

The pilot was Captain Chesley Sullenberger III.




Flocking Geese                       (c) K Fleming

Roughly a minute into the flight,
and at just under 3,000 feet,
the passenger jet flew through a flock of geese, incapacitating both engines. 

This event led to an extraordinary feat of white-knuckle flying, thinking outside the box, and emergency landing; it subsequently set in motion seemingly unrelated events of technological and reportorial magnitude.



After alerting the La Guardia control tower of the situation, the pilot focused on keeping his aircraft aloft and doing a visual search for a landing path that would not take him over a populated area where he could cause the least damage if he had to crash land, all the while with Air Traffic Controllers (ATC) asking him for status and providing him guidance.

Pilot's Perspective: River? or, crash into populated area?
Viewing the simulation, it's easy to see that Sullenberger had limited options.

1) Return to LaGuardia was over a densely populated flight path;
2) Diverting to Teterboro Airport in New Jersey was only five minutes away, but the flight path was over densely populated areas.
3) ATCs in NY and NJ were pressuring him to divert to a nearby airport for a conventional landing.

At this point, at a little over one minute of flight time, the plane was losing altitude at about 100 feet per second, and had already dropped to less than 1,000 feet. 
Sullenberger interrupts the NY ATC who was pressuring him to go to Teterboro [NJ]:

                                   "We can't do it; we have to do the Hudson."

By now, the plane has dropped to an altitude of less than 200 feet  and is flying over the Hudson River [which separates New York City from New Jersey]; the ATCs in New York and New Jersey have lost him on their radar and continue to press for updates.  Sullenberger is able to generate some lift, bringing the plane back up to 350 feet, but three seconds later, he has ditched in the Hudson River.

On the descent, the flight crew has prepared the passengers for the emergency landing.

NY Waterways Ferry Recovery             (c) Sacramento Bee

Within 30 seconds, they have opened the exits and have moved a number of passengers onto the wings of the aircraft and launched several life rafts.  A little over two minutes later, a NY Waterways ferry is on the scene collecting the passengers from the wings.



This was an amazing bit of flying, with Captain Sullenberger remaining calm and focused throughout the flight.  He had a unique background; a Texan of Swiss heritage, an honor student with a Mensa intellect, and a rated pilot before he finished high school.

USAFA Cadet Sullenberger

As a freshman at the US Air Force Academy, he was enrolled in the Glider program, and by the end of the year, he was rated as an Instructor Pilot.

After graduation, he attended graduate school at Purdue University, and then flew the Phantom F4 fighters.

He also served on an aircraft accident investigation board.


This event was extraordinary enough in its own right.

And, with coverage by the Main Stream Media [MSM], it would have appeared on the evening news as an "Item of Interest" with most potential viewers missing the visuals and the story.

Janis Krums - a Rawporter
But, 21st technology kicked in with Twitter and Instant Media corps of citizen reporters, on the scene with their camera phones -- iPhones and Droids, to capture events as they happened -- with network and print reporters hours away. 

Janis Krums was aboard a ferry when Flight 1549 landed on the Hudson River.  He tweeted his iPhone photo [our lead photo above] to 170 Twitter friends, and the photo went viral almost instantly to millions of viewers around the world, with consequent interviews on network TV.
[Click here for interview with Janis Krums]

The extraordinary thing about this event and Krums' photo is that it set in motion an entirely new generation of photo-journalism.  In the past, Media photographers lugged around large bags of cameras and special lenses, responding to editors' demands to
"Get photographers and a film crew to that news site now!
Given deadlines, those visuals might be delayed. 

With the accidental pioneer work of Krums, Media photographers and film crews became instantly obsolete.  Many cell phone cameras now have resolution comparable to the professional level cameras at 6 - 10 Megapixels, so the average person at the scene with a modern cell phone [Droid or iPhone] can capture dynamic photos or videos instantly and Tweet them around the world in seconds. 

Matthew Van Dyke's on the scene reporting in Libya
[Click here for link]

One issue remained from a professional perspective, which was that Krums, and instant reporters like him, were giving away their photos via Twitter, and the MSM could exploit the photos without benefit to the instant reporters.

It didn't take long for some bright entrepreneurs to remedy this problem by creating Rawporter, LLC [Rawporter.com] to become the interface between on the scene "instant reporters" and the News Media. 



Matthew Van Dyke's image [above] shows coverage of an anti-aircraft barrage in Libya -- as it happened.


Presto Chango, instant reporters became "Rawporters" sending in "raw" coverage of news as it was happening, via Rawporter, to the News Media -- and they now can get paid.  Rawporter launched this past year with a Beta version so Users could test and evaluate the App, and the company has upgraded appropriately. 

The implications for the news media are startling.  Overnight, technology has torn away control over what's available on the news and placed those decisions in the hands [or cameras] of average citizens who can now "seize the moment" and feed it to a broadcast venue anxious for instant coverage of a fast-breaking news event.

Ready for a Live Feed!            (c) Dreamworks

If a TV station wants to be competitive, it must adapt, and on a 24/7 basis. 

Staff reporters are an overhead expense, and can't be everywhere at once -- but individuals with iPhones and Droids are generally at the scene, witnessing the event -- and sharing it with their friends via their phones.

Technology becomes a political weapon as well, since citizen reporting carried the message of the Arab Spring, the Libyan Revolution, and the Syrian Civil War.

 These images appear around the clock, along with on-the-scene witnesses, capturing the event for history -- and the 11:00 news.
 








Tuesday, July 10, 2012

Combat Medals for Drone Controllers

Really? This is more deserving than a soldier in the field or an actual fighter pilot? Really?

We learned today that former Secretary of Defense, Mr Panetta, was not only able to keep this nonsensical medal alive, but that newly minted Secretary of Defense Hagel has apparently endorsed it [see Comment 1 below], and will keep it at a an order-of-merit level above the Bronze Star.

American Military Veterans recall that the Bronze Star and other combat-related medals have been awarded for heroism, valor, and exposure to hostile fire in a combat zone.

Vets immediately recognize those who earned this medal for serving in hostile fire zones where the individual was at physical risk while operational -- no matter what his or her position.  When awarded for Valor, with the "V" device, it meant that the recipient was at "deadly risk" in direct contact with enemy forces.  Though unusual, the "V" device could be added to Commendation Medals as well.




[Wikipedia Image]
The Distinguished Warfare Medal, yet to be awarded, can be given for meritorious service -- in support of combat actions -- but not for being "at risk or hostile exposure IN a combat zone." 

Initially, it ranked above the Soldier's Medal, but just below the Distinguished Flying Cross -- both awarded for heroism.







We wrote [below] about this medal back in July 2012, and we thought the ensuing outrage had put this [then] proposed medal completely out of the awards and decorations category. 

Looks like we were wrong, perhaps because we have so many flag-rank officers in our military who have NO combat experience.

---------------------
[Posted July 2012]

We learned today that the Department of Defense, [then] headed by none other than Leon Panetta - ex-budget guy, ex-congressman, ex-CIA chief, wants to create and issue a new combat medal for the heroic pilots flying those life-threatening combat missions via remote control.


Drone pilot flying combat mission         [USAF photo]

That's right: Drone Pilots.

They gut it out in mortal combat in padded chairs using hand controllers, watching monitors to zap the bad guys.  Based on the edge of the combat zone, in Creech Air Force Base a half hour's drive from Las Vegas, these folks live a "white-knuckle" existence.

And, to unwind, they put on a video game.


Sometimes, they're not sure if they're on a real mission or playing a video game.

According to Air Force Major Dave Blair, quoted in the Air & Space Journal:
"... how much difference is there in terms of risk between 10,000 feet and 10,000 miles!" 

In other words, do you have to really be "at risk" to qualify for a combat medal? 


Shot down at 65,000 feet

If you're pushing the red button on a joy stick just outside Las Vegas, versus flying over a combat zone at say 50,000 feet pushing the button, what's the difference in risk since there's no risk to a pilot flying over 10,000 feet.

According to Blair, the combat pilot has nothing to worry about if he's flying above 10,000 feet. 

Same level of danger, no real threat.


But, we seem to recall the Soviet technology of 50 years ago brought down a US U2 spy-plane at 65,000 feet, along with its pilot, Gary Powers.  Gary would likely tell you that he was at risk.



Of course, it was the loss of the U2 that prompted the creation of the drone under Project Red Wagon in 1961.
 
Major Blair advises that the drone pilots are more at risk because they are prime targets for "terrorists".

Why, while a drone pilot plays the slots in Las Vegas, a terrorist could walk right up to him, put a grenade in his daiquiri, and steal his roll of quarters.

The Joy Stick Medal would actually be designated the Distinguished Warfare Medal, and, in the order of merit, would rank between the Soldier's Medal and the Distinguished Flying Cross "for exceptional conduct outside a combat zone."  Both the Distinguished Flying Cross and the Soldier's Medal are awarded for "heroism." 


DFC


The Distinguished Flying Cross (DFC) is awarded for heroism or extraordinary achievement while participating in aerial flight. 

[It is often an interim medal for those who have been recommended for the Medal of Honor.]

Soldiers's Medal


The Soldier's Medal is awarded for those who distinguish themselves by heroism not involving actual conflict with the enemy.

 
Mr Panetta would degrade both medals with his new addition which has no linkage whatever to heroism, but rather, is tied to skill with a joy stick. 

Now operating a gaming joy stick does take some skill, and if the joy stick operator takes out enemy positions or personnel while sitting in a Las Vegas easy chair, then he/she should get a Commendation Medal or even a Meritorious Service Medal.

Come to think of it,
a Bronze Star can be awarded for administrative excellence
-- oops, for service in a hazardous duty zone, which Las Vegas is not, unless you count getting mugged in a back alley.

But, the future is not about heroism; it is about accomplishing the mission without sacrificing pilots -- why, the savings on medals alone would be phenomenal!

Predator; no passenger toilet facilities  [USAF photo]
Now, we do not disdain modern technology.  And there is no question that the drones will likely replace our combat pilots, and eventually, even our transport pilots. 

Risk to our personnel will essentially be eliminated, and G forces will no longer restrict the speed or maneuverability of aircraft -- although the crews did survive the accelleration of the SR-71 at Mach 5. 




But the drones will be far more maneuverable and some can even now stay aloft in a reconnaissance mode for as much as three months, or longer -- exceeding the capacity of the average pilot to control his bladder or bowels..  And speed?  The fastest on record is the Low Earth Orbit drone which flies at around 100 miles up and speeds around 17,000 miles per hour, give or take a Mach or two.

Then again, there IS this possible [probable?] scenario:

"Firebase Tango! 
"Our system has been hacked and has crashed; we're attempting to reboot, which may take several hours. But, in the meantime, be advised the drone is no longer capable of distinguishing between friend or foe, so you may be at risk!  

Firebase Tango, Firebase Tango!  Please acknowledge. 
"Damn!  Looks like comms are out too; let's head over to the Strip for a beer while the system reboots."




Purple Heart for gamer's thumb [Epson]



So, let's not be handing out medals of heroism to some dweeb who is essentially a "gamer" on a slick computer console with a souped up joy stick.  If they do well, and blow up lots of stuff, and cause the enemy to bleed without killing innocent civilians, then we can give them a medal for their skill and accomplishment
-- but not for heroism.

We could always formally recognize them with a John Kerry "Owie Purple Heart" like the one he was awarded for burning his finger on the hot barrel of a machine gun.


Saturday, July 7, 2012

Libya's Democracy


This isn't Chicago; you can only vote once!


Click here for related story [AFP]

Your majesty, I'll get rid of Qaddafi for you!


In the aftermath of Obama's obeisance to King Saud to eliminate that recalcitrant Qadaffi so OPEC could manipulate oil prices without interference, and amid all the exuberance that the West is expressing over the Democratization of Libya, there are a few issues influencing the landscape.


As with the US move to Democracy in 1776, Libya's move has started with a bang!  Lots of gunfire and threats of violence.  It's almost like an election in Chicago!  The difference though is that Libya, as opposed to Chicago, has no unions, and voters must show IDs and can only vote once.

We're ready for Democracy, whatever that is!            (c) F-Se
Heavily armed rival tribes are facing off and occasionally clashing.  The BBC reports violent clashes between Western tribes, with beatings and torture common with an estimated 150 dead.  In Chicago though, the death tolls are far lower, while beatings and torture might be a bit higher.

Makeshift "brigades" are being formed as provisional armies, and there is no firm central government yet, although we are assured that, once the new government is formed, law and order will replace the current civil war, almost instantly -- well, it might take a little while.

Although the US and NATO supported the Libyan revolution, the West appears to become a target, at least symbolically, as Allied war cemetaries, the British Ambassador's convoy, the UN and the Red Cross have all been attacked.

The East may secede (c) Times of Malta


What may occur is that the East may secede since it has viewed this election as a fraud.  Will the West intervene?  Probably not, advises a knowledgeable diplomat -- unless the oil fields are threatened. 


[After all, NATO  fought valiantly to free up those oil fields for Europe's exploitation!]




  
                                                     A Primer on the Election

The Muslim Brotherhood, easily the best organized political unit in the country, will likely end up with a majority position, and the Islamists, e.g., the Watan Party, seems to have strong support and may also be dominant.

Roughly 2.7 million Libyans, 80% of the eligible electorate, are expected to vote in the election for the National Assembly.  There are 200 seats available for the 3,707 candidates running. 

Some of the Tribal Leaders   (c) Voltaire Network


 To make things run smoothly, there are only 142 political parties; in reality, there are about 2,000 parties, but they have apparently coalesced as one for each tribe.

This could be a challenge as they attempt to achieve political unity now that there is no common enemy, i.e., Qaddafi.




The East may secede - keeping 80% of Libya's oil.     (c) Reuters
The primary ethnic groups are Arabs, Berbers, Ancient Berbers, Jews, Tebo, and 1.5 million "immigrants", mostly from Egypt, Tunisia, Europe, and a few Americans.  Qadafi's tribe Qadafa was formerly linked to the Warfalla, the most populous tribe, but neither seems to have much clout these days.


The Eastern Capital of Benghazi is mumbling about secession since it was allocated only 60 of the 200 seats -- and it controls 80% of the oil reserves.  Meanwhile, the West got 120 seats. The dozens of tribes in the South who have no understanding whatever of Democracy or how it works -- got the remaining 38 seats.



Benghazi controls roughly 80% of Libya's oil reserves,  and was the nexus of the rebellion.  It was in the Eastern town of Braga that the militias have been on a rampage -- shooting down a helicopter.  The importance of the Eastern part of Libya is that it has, for quite some time, declared that it will secede from Libya and establish its independence.  This will likely cause a bit of tension within Libya since, without the oil revenue, Libya becomes simply another sand-trap in the African golf course.

Libya's oilfields are under NATO's protection


Meanwhile, if Benghazi does declare its independence and cuts an oil deal with Europe, NATO will likely leap to its defense to ensure it retains sovereignty over its land [or should we say oil fields?].