Friday, May 25, 2012

Mass Military Heroes Fund Flag Memorial Event

Theodore Roosevelt: Man in the Arena

"It is not the critic who counts: not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles or where the doer of deeds could have done better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood, who strives valiantly, who errs and comes up short again and again, because there is no effort without error or shortcoming, but who knows the great enthusiasms, the great devotions, who spends himself for a worthy cause; who, at the best, knows, in the end, the triumph of high achievement, and who, at the worst, if he fails, at least he fails while daring greatly, so that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who knew neither victory nor defeat." "Citizenship in a Republic," Theodore Roosevelt Speech at the Sorbonne, Paris, April 23, 1910

BBC News - Mexican navy finds fake uniforms for use by drug gangs

BBC News - Mexican navy finds fake uniforms for use by drug gangs


The security forces in Mexico have raided a workshop making fake Mexican military uniforms and body armour.
Officials said the uniforms were used by Mexican drug cartels to set up road blocks and carry out kidnappings.
They said the uniforms made it easier for criminals to approach their victims, who did not realise they were being targeted until it was too late.
President Felipe Calderon deployed the military six years ago to help fight Mexico's drug gangs.
Marines found the workshop in the northern town of Piedras Negras across the border from Eagle Pass, Texas, after receiving an anonymous tip-off.
They seized hundreds of combat trousers and shirts, as well as body armour, some with the Marine logo....

Army refining long-term MRAP plan

Army refining long-term MRAP plan


WASHINGTON (Army News Service, May 24, 2012) -- The U.S. Army is in the process of refining a long-term plan for its fleet of 20,000 blast-deflecting, mine-resistant, ambush-protected vehicles, known as MRAPs, service officials explained.
Some of the MRAPS will be placed in brigade combat team configurations for as-needed troop transport and route clearance missions; some will be put in storage facilities and others will be kept for training purposes, according to Department of the Army G-8 officials....

-bth: this is a common sense move.  I was concerned that the MRAP program which saved so many lives and was so expensive might be abandoned.  

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Feds: AWOL soldier found guilty in Fort Hood bomb plot - CNN.com

Feds: AWOL soldier found guilty in Fort Hood bomb plot - CNN.com


(CNN) -- A U.S. soldier charged with plotting to blow up troops from the nation's largest Army post has been found guilty of a battery of federal charges, prosecutors announced Thursday.
Naser Jason Abdo was found guilty of attempted use of a weapon of mass destruction, attempted murder of federal employees, and weapons charges, the U.S. attorney's office in Waco, Texas, said. Prosecutors said the 22-year-old private first class wanted to bomb a restaurant frequented by soldiers from Fort Hood, in Killeen, Texas....

-bth: surprising how little news there is on this.

Propaganda firm owner ran smear campaign against USA TODAY journalists – USATODAY.com

Propaganda firm owner ran smear campaign against USA TODAY journalists – USATODAY.com

 WASHINGTON – The co-owner of a major Pentagon propaganda contractor publicly admitted Thursday that he was behind a series of websites used in an attempt to discredit two USA TODAY journalists who had reported on the contractor.

 The online "misinformation campaign," first reported last month, has raised questions about whether the Pentagon or its contractors had turned its propaganda operations against U.S. citizens. But Camille Chidiac, the minority owner of Leonie Industries and its former president, said he was responsible for the online activity and was operating independently of the company and the Pentagon....

-bth: compliments to USA Today for running this to ground.

Thursday, May 24, 2012

Food Fight: Contractor Accused of $750 Million Overcharge for Wartime Grub | Danger Room | Wired.com

Food Fight: Contractor Accused of $750 Million Overcharge for Wartime Grub | Danger Room | Wired.com


In 2008, the Pentagon began investigating whether the main supplier of food to troops in Afghanistan overcharged taxpayers. Since then, there have been audits, recriminations and the discovery that the supplier may have overbilled the military as much as $756.9 million. Now lawmakers are squeezing both the Pentagon and the contractor in an attempt to find out what happened.
That’s according to a statement released today from the two heads of the House Subcommittee on National Security, Homeland Defense and Foreign Operations. The congressmen want documents and information within 10 days from both the Pentagon’s Defense Logistics Agency (DLA) and the Switzerland-based company, Supreme Foodservice GmbH. This might be difficult, because the Pentagon has alleged Supreme Foodservice — which has been paid $5.5 billion since 2005 to supply food to more than 250 bases and outposts – did not maintain invoices and truck manifests (.pdf) while transporting food, water and other materiel; nor did the company provide data to investigators on fuel costs, price estimates and even correct flight plans.
“It is outrageous that DLA could ever be in the position of possibly overpaying any vendor by three quarters of a billion dollars — especially at a time when troop levels are being scaled back because funding is tight,” said subcommittee chairman Rep. Jason Chaffetz in a statement. “The Subcommittee will work with the Department of Defense to investigate the facts and circumstances surrounding this apparent lack of oversight.”...

-bth: here is a suggestion.  Stop paying them.

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Father Plants Flags to Remember Son, Soldiers - YouTube

Father Plants Flags to Remember Son, Soldiers - YouTube




A quick shout out to my friend Paul Monti for an excellent interview concerning the placement of 30,000 flags in the Boston Common each representing one soldier from Massachusetts killed from the Civil War to the present.

NightWatch 20120523 - KGS - On the resignation of Ambassador Crocker

NightWatch 20120523 - KGS


...Afghanistan-US: The US announced the pending replacement of its ambassador in Kabul this summer. Ambassador Crocker is leaving after ten months of a two year assignment.
Comment: The early replacement of an ambassador or a commanding officer always and in every country signifies a change of policy. Ambassadors and generals who are associated with the prior policy cannot be credible spokespersons for the new policy. Thus they are always changed when a new policy is set in motion.
The new policy in Afghanistan is that the US is pulling out its soldiers by the end of 2014 regardless of conditions on the ground. That was not the policy ten months ago when Crocker came out of retirement to head the US Embassy in Kabul.....

Probability of nuclear reactor core meltdown higher than expected | Homeland Security News Wire

Probability of nuclear reactor core meltdown higher than expected | Homeland Security News Wire
Currently, there are 440 nuclear reactors in operation, and sixty more are planned; new research finds that reactor accidents involving a core meltdown, as were the Chernobyl and Fukushima, may occur once every ten to twenty years — some 200 times more often than estimated in the past; the authors of the study note that they did not take into account potential contributing factors to accidents such as the age and type of reactors, or whether reactors are located in regions of enhanced risks such as earthquakes
Catastrophic nuclear accidents such as the core meltdowns in Chernobyl and Fukushima are more likely to happen than previously assumed. Based on the operating hours of all civil nuclear reactors and the number of nuclear meltdowns that have occurred, scientists at the Max Planck Institute for Chemistry in Mainz have calculated that such events may occur once every ten to twenty years (based on the current number of reactors) — some 200 times more often than estimated in the past....

Shakil Afridi, Pakistan Doctor Who Helped Find Osama Bin Laden, Sentenced To Prison

Shakil Afridi, Pakistan Doctor Who Helped Find Osama Bin Laden, Sentenced To Prison


PESHAWAR, Pakistan — A Pakistani doctor who helped the U.S. track down Osama bin Laden was sentenced to 33 years in prison on Wednesday for conspiring against the state, officials said, a verdict that is likely to further strain the country's relationship with Washington.
Shakil Afridi ran a vaccination program for the CIA to collect DNA and verify bin Laden's presence at the compound in the town of Abbottabad where U.S. commandos killed the al-Qaida chief last May in a unilateral raid. The operation outraged Pakistani officials, who portrayed it as an act of treachery by a supposed ally.
Senior U.S. officials have called for Afridi to be released, saying his work served Pakistani and American interests. But many Pakistani officials, especially those working for the country's powerful spy agency, do not see it that way.
"He was working for a foreign spy agency. We are looking after our national interests," said a Pakistani intelligence official, speaking on condition of anonymity in line with the agency's policy...

-bth: Why is foreign aid going to Pakistan at this point?  

Afghan girls poisoned in second anti-school attack | Reuters

Afghan girls poisoned in second anti-school attack | Reuters


(Reuters) - More than 120 schoolgirls and three teachers have been poisoned in the second attack in as many months blamed on conservative radicals in the country's north, Afghan police and education officials said on Wednesday.

The attack occurred in Takhar province where police said that radicals opposed to education of women and girls had used an unidentified toxic powder to contaminate the air in classrooms. Scores of students were left unconscious.

Afghanistan's intelligence agency, the National Directorate of Security (NDS), says the Taliban appear intent on closing schools ahead of a 2014 withdrawal by foreign combat troops.

"A part of their Al Farooq spring offensive operation is ... to close schools. By poisoning girls they want to create fear. They try to make families not send their children to school," NDS spokesman Lutfullah Mashal said.
Afghanistan's Ministry of Education said last week that 550 schools in 11 provinces where the Taliban have strong support had been closed down by insurgents....

Witness: AWOL Soldier Planned Lunchtime Attack On Local Restaurant

Witness: AWOL Soldier Planned Lunchtime Attack On Local Restaurant


WACO (May 22, 2012)—AWOL Army Pfc. Naser Jason Abdo planned to detonate a homemade bomb in a Fort Hood area restaurant frequented by soldiers and then to shoot anyone who survived the explosion to "martyr himself" for the people of Iraq and Afghanistan, FBI Special Agent C. Michael Owens testified Tuesday.
Owens, who was the first prosecution witness in Abdo’s trial in U.S. District Court in Waco, testified that Abdo told him he planned to target a Chinese restaurant because soldiers like to eat Chinese food.
Owens testified that Abdo planned to fill a pressure cooker with shrapnel and gunpowder and to use a clock as a timer.
Owens said Abdo told him he got instructions on how to build the bomb from a magazine he read online at a public library.
Owens testified Abdo planned to carry out the attack between 11 a.m. and 2 p.m. because that’s when married soldiers would be eating.
He testified that Abdo told him he chose to target a restaurant in the Fort Hood area rather than at Fort Bragg, where he was stationed, because he wanted to credit the faith of Maj. Nidal Hasan, who’s awaiting trial for the deadly November 2009 shooting rampage on post.
Owens quoted Abdo as saying of Hasan, "People think he's crazy. But he's not."...

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Dover mortuary officials punished for retaliating against whistleblowers - The Washington Post

Dover mortuary officials punished for retaliating against whistleblowers - The Washington Post


The Air Force said Monday that it had fined the former commander of the Dover Air Force Base mortuary $7,000 and suspended his top deputy for 20 days without pay for retaliating against whistleblowers, but it allowed both men to keep their jobs.

The punishment came in response to an independent federal investigation that concluded the mortuary’s leadership had wrongfully tried to fire two subordinates after they reported missing body parts, lax management and other problems at the base that handles America’s war dead.

The former commander, Col. Robert Edmondson, was assessed the fine and given a letter of reprimand for committing reprisals, according to an Air Force statement. Edmondson was also reprimanded in November after the Air Force found that he was responsible for “gross mismanagement” at the mortuary.

His top civilian deputy, Trevor Dean, was suspended for the reprisals. He still works for the Air Force at Dover but voluntarily moved to a non-supervisory job.

The disciplinary measures were imposed after members of Congress and Defense Secretary Leon E. Panetta urged the Air Force to take stronger personnel action late last year at Dover. Some lawmakers pointedly asked why the Air Force had not fired anyone after disclosures that the body of a Marine was mutilated and the partial remains of other service members dumped in a landfill.

Air Force Secretary Michael Donley reviewed the final punishments for Edmondson and Dean and “considers them appropriate,” the Air Force said in its statement. Edmondson and Dean did not respond to e-mails seeking comment.

A third supervisor, Quinton “Randy” Keel, resigned under pressure in February.

The Office of Special Counsel, an independent federal agency that concluded in January that the Dover supervisors had retaliated against whistleblowers, said it was “encouraged” by the moves....

-bth: what was encouraging about this?  The retaliation should have resulted in termination, not a small fine or 20 day suspension. The message the Air Force is sending is that whistle blowers can expect retaliation and the reprisal will result in a slap on the wrist.

Taliban tightens grip on Afghan schools - CNN.com

Taliban tightens grip on Afghan schools - CNN.com


Kabul, Afghanistan (CNN) -- In parts of rural Afghanistan a fierce battle is going on between the Taliban and the country's government. And the victims in this battle, it seems, are school children.
Recently, the Taliban demanded the closure of some schools in two eastern provinces. In Ghazni province, the closure of schools was in retaliation for the government's ban on motorbikes often used by insurgents. In Wardak province, the Taliban has been a little more compromising, locals say, and has allowed some schools to open late after making changes to the curriculum....

Sunday, May 20, 2012

Panetta refuses paying $5k per container - thenews.com.pk

Panetta refuses paying $5k per container - thenews.com.pk


WASHINGTON: US Defense Secretary Leon E. Panetta ruled out paying Pakistan $5,000 for each truck carrying supplies across its territory for Nato troops waging the Afghanistan War.

In an interview with US newspaper before his arrival in Chicago, where the summit is scheduled to begin Sunday, Panetta said "Considering the financial challenges that we're facing, that's not likely."

According to the newspaper, Pakistani officials had demanded the amount as a condition for reopening supply routes that have been closed to the alliance since fall.

US officials say they remain hopeful they can resolve the dispute, perhaps at the summit. Pakistani President Asif Ali Zardari accepted a last-minute invitation to attend the meetings, although he is not expected to meet one-on-one with President Obama, officials said.