Police Work, Politics and World Affairs, Football and the ongoing search for great Scotch Whiskey!

Monday, December 11, 2017

These are the Voyages of Voyager I and Voyager 2

One of the few useful things from the Carter years, the launch of Voyager 1 on September 5, 1977. Ironically, Voyager 2 was launched on August 20, 1977. They were initially planned to go into the Jupiter area, but they have made it to the outer edge of the our solar system. 60 Minutes did a great story on the Voyagers a couple of months ago, and it's worth a few minutes of your time.

NASA fired up Voyager 1’s backup thrusters for the first time in 37 years

NASA is getting really good at squeezing every last bit of life out of its hardware. It recently extended the Dawn spacecraft’s mission over Ceres for a second time, while New Horizons is on its way to check out a small icy body called 2014 MU69 in January 2019. Yesterday, NASA announced that it has successfully fired up four of Voyager 1’s backup thrusters, which haven’t been used since 1980, which should extend its life by a couple of years.

Voyager 1 is the only human-made object flying outside of our solar system, and it’s still communicating with Earth by way of the Deep Space Network, which allows engineers to send it instructions. The probe currently uses its attitude control thrusters to make tiny corrections — firing for only milliseconds at a time — to rotate it to point its antenna towards Earth. However, since 2014, engineers have found that those thrusters have been wearing down, and aren’t as effective.

The JPL’s engineers began to look into alternatives, and found a new way to steer the spacecraft: the probe’s trajectory correction maneuver (TCM) thrusters. These are located on the back of the spacecraft and are identical to the thrusters that they’ve used so far. The last time these thrusters were active was in November 1980, when the probe zipped by Saturn. They haven’t been used since then, and on Tuesday, the Jet Propulsion Laboratory fired them up for the first time, and discovered that they worked. According to Voyager project manager Suzanne Dodd, the reactivated thrusters should help extend the life of the probe for another “two to three years.”

The team will switch over to the TCM thrusters in January, but there is a drawback: they require heaters to operate, which will draw on the probe’s limited power. The team will use the thrusters until they can no longer use the heaters, and will then switch back to the attitude control thrusters that they’ve been relying on. The JPL will also test out the TCM thrusters on Voyager 1’s twin, Voyager 2, although NASA says that that spacecraft’s attitude control thrusters are in better shape.

Well, we're not up to Voyager 6 yet, so we should not be worried about the VGER coming to attack us in the 23rd Century.

Sunday, December 10, 2017

What's going on in the World Today 171210


I don't know what to say really. Three minutes to the biggest battle of our professional lives all comes down to today. Either we heal as a teamor we are going to crumble.

Inch by inch, play by play, till we're finished.

We are in hell right now, gentlemen, believe me and we can stay here and get the s%^& kicked out of us or we can fight our way back into the light. We can climb out of hell.
One inch, at a time.

Now I can't do it for you. I'm too old. I look around and I see these young facesand I think I mean I made every wrong choice a middle age man could make. I uh....I pissed away all my money believe it or not. I chased off anyone who has ever loved me. And lately, I can't even stand the face I see in the mirror.

You know when you get old in life things get taken from you. That's, that's part of life.
But, you only learn that when you start losing stuff. You find out that life is just a game of inches.

So is football. Because in either game life or football the margin for error is so small.
I mean one half step too late or to early you don't quite make it. One half second too slow or too fast and you don't quite catch it. The inches we need are everywhere around us. They are in ever break of the gameevery minute, every second.

On this team, we fight for that inch On this team, we tear ourselves, and everyone around us to pieces for that inch. We CLAW with our finger nails for that inch. Cause we know when we add up all those inches that's going to make the f&*(ing difference between WINNING and LOSING between LIVING and DYING.

I'll tell you this in any fight it is the guy who is willing to die who is going to win that inch. And I know if I am going to have any life anymore it is because, I am still willing to fight, and die for that inch because that is what LIVING is. The six inches in front of your face.

Now I can't make you do it. You gotta look at the guy next to you. Look into his eyes.
Now I think you are going to see a guy who will go that inch with you.You are going to see a guy who will sacrifice himself for this teambecause he knows when it comes down to it,
you are gonna do the same thing for him.

That's a team, gentlemen and either we heal now, as a team, or we will die as individuals.
That's football guys. That's all it is.

Now, whattaya gonna do?


Figured it was a good start to this post after a great Army-Navy game.

HYPERLINKS MAY REQUIRE AN EMAIL:

USA

Arrests along Mexico border drop sharply under Trump, new statistics show

The number of people caught trying to sneak over the border from Mexico has fallen to the lowest level in 46 years, according to Department of Homeland Security statistics released Tuesday that offer the first comprehensive look at how immigration enforcement is changing under the Trump administration.

During the government’s 2017 fiscal year, which ended Sept. 30, U.S. border agents made 310,531 arrests, a decline of 24 percent from the previous year and the fewest overall since 1971.

The figures show a sharp drop in apprehensions immediately after President Trump’s election win, possibly reflecting the deterrent effect of his rhetoric on would-be border crossers; starting in May, the number of people taken into custody began increasing again.

Arrests of foreigners living illegally in the United States have surged under Trump. Immigration and Customs Enforcement officers made 110,568 such arrests between inauguration and the end of September, according to the figures published Tuesday, a 42 percent increase over the same period during the previous year.



Microwave weapon could fry North Korean missile controls, say experts

The U.S. has microwave weapons that proponents believe could stop North Korea from launching missiles by frying their electronics.

The weapons were discussed at an August White House meeting related to North Korea, according to two U.S. officials with direct knowledge.

The microwave weapons, known as CHAMPs, are fitted into an air-launched cruise missile and delivered from B-52 bombers. With a range of 700 miles, they can fly into enemy airspace at low altitude and emit sharp pulses of microwave energy to disable electronic systems.

"These high-powered microwave signals are very effective at disrupting and possibly disabling electronic circuits," said Mary Lou Robinson, who heads development of the weapons at the Air Force Research Laboratory in Albuquerque, in an exclusive interview with NBC News.

A CHAMP missile, short for Counter-electronics High Power Microwave Advanced Missile Project. The 700-mile range missiles are capable of flying into enemy airspace at low altitude, getting close to targets and emitting a series of sharp pulses of microwave energy to disable electronic systems. NBC News

Advocates say they could be used to stop North Korea from launching missiles by targeting the ground controls and the circuitry in the missiles themselves. The weapons are not currently operational.

How does a high-power microwave (HPM) weapon work?

"Think about when you put something in your microwave that has metal on it," said Sen. Martin Heinrich, D-N.M. "You know how badly that goes? Imagine directing those microwaves at someone's electronics."

Sen. Heinrich, a member of the Armed Services Committee, began his career as an engineer at the Air Force Research Laboratory in Albuquerque.

"Command and control centers are filled with electronic infrastructure which is highly vulnerable to high powered microwaves," said ret. Lt. Gen. David Deptula, who ran the air wars in Afghanistan and Iraq and retired as the head of Air Force intelligence.

The Air Force and other government agencies have been working on the weaponization of microwaves for over two decades. Various emitters have been employed on the ground — in Afghanistan and Iraq, they have been used to disable improvised explosive devices (IEDs) and small drones.

But turning a high-power microwave into a strategic weapon was slowed by the need to reduce the size and weight of the emitter and then match it with an onboard power source sufficient to drive the microwave pulses.

The Air Force Research Laboratory began work on CHAMP, which stands for Counter-electronics High Power Microwave Advanced Missile Project, in April 2009. The lab fitted the HPM emitter into a non-nuclear version of a Boeing-built air-launched cruise missile.


B-52s Fighting ISIS Soon Will Carry More Smart Bombs

AL UDEID AIR BASE, Qatar—The U.S. Air Force B-52 squadron fighting Islamic State terrorists in the Middle East soon will be the first to field a key upgrade that will allow the venerable “BUFF” to carry eight additional smart weapons into battle.

The Vietnam-era bomber that flies close-air-support, air interdiction and deliberate targeting missions in U.S. Central Command’s area of responsibility today is not your grandfather’s B-52, the airmen of the 69th Expeditionary Bomb Squadron (EBS) told Aviation Week during a visit here Nov. 6. The B-52s here came off the line in 1960 and 1961, but various avionics and weapon systems upgrades in recent years have allowed the aircraft to remain a critical contributor to the modern battlefield.

“How we operate as a crew, the interfaces we have with the avionics system, and the weapons themselves—it’s almost completely different than it was just a few years ago,” said Lt. Col. Paul Goosen, 69th EBS commander.

Sometime in the next few months, the 69th EBS will become the first B-52 squadron to complete a key upgrade of the aircraft’s internal weapons bay, adding both precision and firepower to the fight against militants in the Middle East. The addition of the conventional rotary launcher (CRL) and Mil Std 1760 interface will allow the aircraft to carry smart weapons in the internal bay for the first time, enabling it to drop eight additional smart bombs, Goosen said.

The upgrade is a matter of simply changing out the existing three-fingered bomb rack for a yoke in the front and aft of the bay that will connect to the CRL, a process that only takes a few hours per aircraft, Goosen explained. Some of the B-52s here are currently going through the upgrade, and the entire squadron is expected to complete the modification in the next few months.

The change will also allow the B-52s at Al Udeid to drop Lockheed Martin’s AGM-158 Joint Air-to-Surface Standoff Missile (Jassm), an advanced long-range, radar-evading cruise missile, from the internal weapons bay.


Feds Quietly Reveal Chinese State-Backed Hacking Operation

Prosecutors say Chinese hackers from a mysterious cybersecurity firm stole corporate secrets from three big firms.

Prosecutors in the United States this week quietly outed what appears to be a Chinese state-linked hacking ring, an escalation in Washington’s campaign to pressure China over its trade practices and efforts to steal intellectual property from U.S. firms.

In an indictment unsealed on Monday, federal prosecutors in Pittsburgh allege that a trio of Chinese nationals and their cybersecurity firm Boyusec hacked three companies — industrial giant Siemens, the economic analysis firm Moody’s, and the GPS navigation company Trimble — and made off with sensitive company documents.

The indictment names Wu Yingzhuo, Dong Hao, and Xia Lei. The first two are co-founders of Boyusec, while Xia was an employee. With prosecutors scrutinizing the firm, the Wall Street Journal reported Wednesday that Boyusec disbanded earlier this month.

Prosecutors made no mention in court documents of any links between Boyusec and the Chinese state, a departure from a high-profile case in 2014 from the same office that publicly linked alleged hackers to Chinese government ministries. Then, the local FBI office drew up wanted posters of the Chinese army hackers and published photographs of the accused in their army uniforms.

But a trove of public evidence and research by private security firms strongly suggests that Boyusec is an affiliate of China’s powerful Ministry of State Security and appears to operate as a cover for cyber-espionage.

“There has been a lot of accumulated evidence that these guys are tied to the state,” said John Hultquist, the director of analysis for the computer security firm FireEye.

Despite the seemingly clear links between Boyusec and the Ministry of State Security, American officials have described the case as a routine criminal prosecution rather than one that implicates a Chinese intelligence agency…


The Navy is planning fresh challenges to China's claims in the South China Sea

U.S. Navy and Pacific Command leaders want to ratchet up potentially provocative operations in the South China Sea by sailing more warships near the increasingly militarized man-made islands that China claims as sovereign territory, according to several Navy officials.

The freedom of navigation operations, also known as FONOPS, could be carried out by ships with the San Diego-based Carl Vinson carrier strike group, which is in the Pacific Ocean heading toward the South China Sea, according to three defense officials who spoke to Navy Times on condition of anonymity to discuss operations in the planning phase.

The military's plans likely call for sailing within 12 nautical miles of China's newly built islands in the Spratly and/or Paracel islands, a move that would amount to a new challenge to Chinese maritime claims there that has raised tensions between Washington and Beijing in the recent past…

Where the North Korean Crisis Meets the Iran Nuclear Deal

By virtue of its military might, the United States has the unique ability to quickly — and credibly — place its most intractable adversaries under existential threat. Command over the world's most powerful military gives a country options, and the option of regime change can be a tempting one for Washington as it tries to work through some of its more maddening foreign policy dilemmas.

A government living under the constant, lurking threat of decapitation does not particularly enjoy stewing in its own paranoia over what social fissures its enemies can exploit, which allies they can turn and what chain of events could finally push the United States into action. That's why a nuclear deterrent is such an alluring prospect: What better way to kill your adversaries' fantasy of regime change than to stand with them as near-equals on a nuclear plane?

This is North Korea's rationale as the country closes in on demonstrating that it has a fully functional nuclear weapon and delivery arsenal. But Washington's nuclear dilemma doesn't end with Pyongyang. Whether Tehran attempts to return to its treacherous path toward nuclear armament rests in large part on just how seriously the White House entertains and attempts to execute a policy of regime change.FKOREAN

AFRICA

NOTHING SIGNIFICANT TO REPORT

ASIA


Is Chabahar port a game changer in India-Afghanistan-Central Asia trade?

NEW DELHI (TCA) — On December 3, Iran’s President Hassan Rouhani inaugurated the first phase of the Chabahar port development project on the Gulf of Oman, with the participation of senior Afghan and Indian ministers, including the Indian Minister for External Affairs Mrs. Sushma Swaraj.

Iranian media quoted President Rouhani as saying that the port “will enhance trade in the region,” with a final aim to connect not just to Afghanistan via rail, but to the 7,200 km International North South Transport Corridor to Russia.

Chabahar is an open sea port in Iran’s Sistan Balochistan province next to the Gulf of Oman. The port has a great capacity of shipping goods and services especially for a land-locked country like Afghanistan.

India has committed $500 million to the port project and will develop a free trade area around the port. Its primary interest is developing trade with Afghanistan through the port, which will allow both countries to engage in trade bypassing Pakistan…

JAL Options Up to 20 Boom Supersonic Airliners

Japan Airlines (JAL) has entered into a strategic partnership with Boom Supersonic, the Mach 2-plus airliner developer, and has placed purchase options for up to 20 aircraft.

The Japanese flag carrier becomes the second airline after Virgin Atlantic to reveal its support of the Denver-based supersonic airliner project, which is targeting entry into service in the mid-2020s. Together with the 10 options announced by Virgin in mid-2017, the JAL commitment represents almost half of the 76 options received by Boom to date. Three additional operators for the remaining 46 aircraft remain unidentified.

The Boom concept is targeting supersonic travel at current business-class prices by bringing together a 55-seat design using structures, advanced aerodynamics and propulsion technology that was not available in the 1960s for the development of the Anglo-French Concorde, the world’s first operationally successful supersonic airliner. The delta-winged Boom trijet design is intended to rely on a 10% higher speed than Concorde to achieve high use and shorter sector times on 4,500-nm routes, most of which will be flown over water.


EUROPE

Germany Is Preparing to Send Refugees Back to Syria
Syria’s war isn’t over, but a growing number of German policymakers are trying to revoke asylum and send Syrians back home — against their will, if necessary.

Later this week, the interior ministers of the German states will be discussing, and voting on, a proposal to be begin forcibly repatriating Syrian refugees once their asylum status lapses — as early as next June. If they agree, it would then be up to the federal interior ministry to decide whether parts of Syria are safe for return. That is considered unlikely, at least for the moment.

But as Syrian President Bashar al-Assad mops up remaining opposition to his rule, and as the threat from the Islamic State melts away, Germany and other European states will have to judge — far sooner than they expected to — whether to send Syrians back to their devastated homeland, or to some portion of it. Given the political pressures, there is no reason to assume that the decision will be based on the best interests of the refugees themselves…

Parliament Joins the Battle Over Brexit

Highlights

The EU Withdrawal Bill that will transfer EU rules and norms into British law, a crucial part of the Brexit process, has entered the lower House of Commons for debate and is scheduled for final approval in early 2018.

Lawmakers in both the governing Conservative party and the opposition Labour party are criticizing the bill and will need to address various controversial topics before the end of the year.

Political infighting could lead to the appointment of a new prime minister, though replacing British Prime Minister Theresa May with another Conservative politician won’t heal party divisions.

The British Parliament has begun answering important questions about the United Kingdom's departure from the European Union. On Nov. 14, the EU Withdrawal Bill, which will repeal the European Communities Act of 1973 and transfer EU rules and norms into British law, entered the committee stage in the lower House of Commons. The lower house will debate and vote on hundreds of amendment proposals until late December, when the bill will be sent to the upper House of Lords for discussion and approval in early 2018.

The bill has a simple goal: Ensure legal continuity after Britain leaves the bloc. Over time, British authorities will have the chance to decide what to keep, what to amend and what to scrap. But lawmakers in both the governing Conservative party and the opposition Labour party are criticizing this crucial step of the Brexit process. Although the government managed to agree on several proposed amendments during the first day of debate, the most controversial topics remain and will need to be addressed before the end of the year…

AFGHANISTAN

The Battle for Advantage in Afghanistan
Highlights
Both the U.S.-backed Afghan National Security Forces and the Taliban will ramp up their operations in the years ahead to break the stalemate in Afghanistan. 
The Taliban will seek to elevate its rural insurgency by seizing critical urban terrain, while Afghan security forces will transition to major offensive operations to regain key territory in the countryside. 
Both sides, however, will face substantial obstacles, impeding their efforts toward breaking the stalemate. 
The war in Afghanistan, which has embroiled U.S. and NATO forces in battle with Taliban insurgents for the better part of two decades, remains locked in a stalemate that both sides are trying to figure out how to break. Gen. John Nicholson, commander of the U.S. forces in the country,

acknowledged the impasse in a Nov. 23 interview, but added that he thinks a coming surge of U.S. troops into the country will help the Afghan National Security Forces conduct major offensives over the next two years that will turn the tide of the war in their favor. Meanwhile, on the other side of the conflict, the Taliban have been busy shoring up their positions and looking for ways to intensify their insurgency. For both sides, however, breaking the stalemate is much easier said than done, especially given the complexities inherent to the Afghan battlefield.

CHINA

Japan to help finance China's Belt and Road projects

The Japanese government plans to cooperate with China on its Belt and Road initiative by financially supporting private-sector partnerships, as Tokyo seeks to improve bilateral ties with its Asian neighbour, the Nikkei reported on Wednesday.

Cooperation will centre on the environmental sector, industrial modernization and logistics, according to guidelines compiled by the government, the Japanese business daily said.

Assistance will include loans through government-backed financial institutions to promote cooperation among private Japanese and Chinese firms working on projects in third-party countries, it said.

Chinese President Xi Jinping's Belt and Road initiative is an extensive infrastructure plan that will link Asia with the Middle East and Europe, although critics say it is more about spreading Chinese influence...

IRAN

Iran: The Prime Suspect in a Dissident's Death

Fred Burton

When I see news of a political activist's slaying, the first thing I look for is how the crime was committed. Often, the modus operandi will have characteristics in common with those from other cases of politically motivated murder that I have investigated in the past. The path to finding answers in some of those cases can be crystal clear, but investigators in others must follow a very murky trail, especially in those carried out by state-sponsored actors.

On Nov. 9, the Reuters news service reported on the murder of Iranian political activist Ahmad Mola Nissi, who was shot to death on a street in Amsterdam. Dutch police arrested a suspect who had fled the scene after the attack, but he has since been released from custody. Curiously, Nissi had been part of a group seeking to establish an independent state inside Iran, an aspiration that points toward a state-sponsored suspect in the case. As our Threat Lens team wrote: "The Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps has been implicated in carrying out surveillance on targets of interest in Europe, and could certainly carry out hits like this one. While nothing concrete so far links Iran to the killing, no motives more compelling than silencing a separatist have been put forward."

IRAQ

NOTHING SIGNIFICANT TO REPORT

ISRAEL

NOTHING SIGNIFICANT TO REPORT

KOREAN PENNSULEA

North Korea: The Limits of Chinese Pressure
Washington is becoming more and more concerned that North Korea will achieve its goal of creating a nuclear weapon capable of reaching the United States as early as next year. The United States is doing all it can economically, politically and militarily to stop it, but North Korea hasn't slowed the pace of its test launches, the latest of which it conducted Nov. 28. In response, U.S. President Donald Trump phoned Chinese President Xi Jinping on Nov. 30 to discuss the launch and to urge Beijing to cut its economic ties to North Korea. Less conspicuously but perhaps more notably, the day before the call, U.S. and Chinese military leaders engaged in rare security talks in Washington.
China has recently increased its economic pressure on North Korea and its compliance with U.N. sanctions, investigating companies with trade ties to North Korea and those under U.N. sanctions. But the efforts have done little to deter North Korea, and the United States wants China to do more. According to the White House, during the phone call Trump urged Xi to use all the levers at his disposal to convince North Korea to halt its nuclear program, including cutting all oil exports to the country. U.S. Ambassador Nikki Haley later warned in an emergency session of the U.N. Security Council that if China did not take that critical step itself, the United States would "take the oil situation into [its] own hands." China, for its part, is sticking fast to its demand that the United States and South Korea stop military drills in the region in exchange for North Korea halting its weapons program...

Securing North Korean nuclear sites would require a ground invasion, Pentagon says
The only way to locate and secure all of North Korea’s nuclear weapons sites “with complete certainty” is through an invasion of ground forces, and in the event of conflict, Pyongyang could use biological and chemical weapons, the Pentagon told lawmakers in a new, blunt assessment of what war on the Korean Peninsula might look like.
The Pentagon, in a letter to lawmakers, said that a full discussion of U.S. capabilities to “counter North Korea’s ability to respond with a nuclear weapon and to eliminate North Korea’s nuclear weapons located in deeply buried, underground facilities” is best suited for a classified briefing.
The letter also said that Pentagon leaders “assess that North Korea may consider the use of biological weapons” and that the country “has a long-standing chemical weapons program with the capability to produce nerve, blister, blood and choking agents.”
The Pentagon repeated that a detailed discussion of how the United States would respond to the threat could not be discussed in public…
The History of North Korea's Arsenal
Editor's Note
The war of words between the United States and North Korea is escalating, and the world is watching intently to see what each country does next. North Korean leader Kim Jong Un has even threatened to carry out an atmospheric nuclear test over the Pacific Ocean. But such a display would simply be the latest in a lengthy series of missile and nuclear tests that spans over a decade. Each new step that Pyongyang has taken in its development of missile and nuclear technology has been critical to its goal of acquiring a viable nuclear deterrent to U.S. military action against it. And further strides are on the horizon.
RUSSIA
NOTHING SIGNIFICANT TO REPORT
SYRIA
A Look at the Islamic State's Infiltration of a Syrian Air BaseSatellite imagery shows the damage inflicted to a Syrian airbase

Imagery acquired by Stratfor working with its partners at AllSource Analysis illustrates the damage inflicted by an Islamic State infiltration attack on the Syrian loyalist air base at Deir el-Zour. A relief force recently reached the base and the Deir el-Zour garrison, which had endured more than three years of siege by the Islamic State. As can be seen from the attack, however, the Islamic State still maintains the capability to inflict damage and carry out attacks in the region even as it has technically ceased to control territory around Deir el-Zour and its airbase.
On Nov. 13, reports from loyalist sources indicated that the Islamic State had conducted a suicide infiltration attack on Deir el-Zour air base. Subsequent reports from loyalist sources in the days after the attack highlighted how a vehicle full of Islamic State fighters dressed as Russian troops and speaking Russian successfully talked their way onto the base before initiating their surprise attack. Satellite imagery from Nov. 18 depicts the aftermath of the attack, illustrating how the Islamic State fighters were able to penetrate about 600 meters through checkpoints, security fences and defensive fighting positions before reaching their key targets, the L-39 trainers used as light attack jets by the Syrian Arab air force. The attackers appear to have inflicted considerable damage, destroying up to four of the jets, which airbase personnel look to have subsequently pushed off the aircraft aprons. As of Nov. 18, satellite imagery points to six L-39 jets still being operational at Deir el-Zour air base, although one of these jets appears to have been lost in a crash on approach to the base on Nov. 21. All told, the Syrian Arab air force likely lost half of its L-39s at Deir el-Zour over the span of a couple of weeks, greatly reducing its capacity to provide air support for local counterinsurgency operations.
MIDDLE EAST GENERAL
Trump could let the UAE buy F-35 jets: The Trump administration has agreed to consider a long-standing request by the UAE to enter into preliminary talks on future procurement of the F-35 joint strike fighter.
WASHINGTON ― As part of a larger U.S. strategy for enhanced strategic cooperation with the United Arab Emirates, the Trump administration has agreed to consider a long-standing request by Abu Dhabi to enter into preliminary talks on future procurement of the F-35 joint strike fighter.
While no decision has been made, the willingness to consider extending a classified briefing to the UAE as the first significant step toward acquisition of the fifth-generation stealth fighter signals a departure from policy enforced under former President Barack Obama. The Obama administration had consistently rebuffed Emirati requests for the briefing dating back to 2011, citing Washington’s commitment to preserve Israel’s so-called Qualitative Military Edge, or QME...
The Defeat and Survival of the Islamic State
Several people have asked me lately whether I thought the Islamic State will become a "virtual caliphate" now that it has lost most of the terrain it once held, including the strategic cities of Mosul and Raqqa. At the same time, I've talked with people who claim that the Islamic State has been destroyed. Both viewpoints have some truth to them, but neither is the whole truth. Both miss where the Islamic State is really headed.
Charting the Islamic State
When attempting to chart the trajectory of the Islamic State pole of the jihadist movement, it is important to recognize that the group is more of a movement than an organization. As we see it, the Islamic State has three main components: the Islamic State core in Iraq and Syria; the Islamic State franchises in Libya and other parts of the world; and grassroots jihadists who are not connected to the core or to the franchise groups. While each element swears allegiance to Caliph Ibrahim, also known as Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, they are all distinct and will respond differently to the Islamic State's losses on the battlefield.
The core organization, of course, has taken the biggest hit from the coalition efforts against it in Iraq and Syria. In addition to losing huge stretches of terrain, the group has lost vast numbers of troops and heavy weapons systems, along with significant sources of funding. In this sense, it's true that the physical caliphate as it existed in 2014 has been destroyed. That doesn't mean, however, that the Islamic State core organization has been destroyed. The group has weathered defeats before…
The Rapid Rise of Mohammed bin Salman
Something extraordinary is happening in Saudi Arabia. The new crown prince, Mohammed bin Salman, or MbS, as many call him, has embarked on changes that could alter the world.
Breaking Taboos
His ambitious plan for the kingdom's future, Saudi Vision 2030 — worked out with help from the consulting firm McKinsey & Co. — envisages a whole panoply of reforms. The measures range from health care and education initiatives to a $500 billion project to build a new city to proposals for treating the Saudi economy's "addiction to oil." Along with reform, MbS is taking on his country's cultural and political taboos. He wants to break the taboo against selling off any part of the Saudi Arabian Oil Co., better known as Saudi Aramco, by floating an initial public offering for less than 5 percent of the huge company. Proceeds from the sale would go toward creating the world's largest sovereign investment fund, which, as MbS described in his first interview on Al-Arabiya television, would "take control over more than (10) percent of the investment capacity of the globe" and "own more than (3) percent of the assets on Earth." MbS is also breaking the long-standing taboo that forbids women from driving.
And perhaps most significant, he wants to break the hold of the hard-line Wahhabi clerics who came to power in 1979, when militants occupied Mecca's Grand Mosque at the time of the Islamic revolution in Iran. Public entertainment has been banned since then, but MbS will bring it back. As he said to a gathering of some 3,500 visitors he hosted at an economic development conference Oct. 24, Saudis "are returning to what we were before — a country of moderate Islam that is open to all religions and to the world ... We will not spend the next 30 years of our lives dealing with destructive ideas. We will destroy them today." He then vowed to "eradicate the remnants of extremism very soon…"
Exclusive: Yemen rebel missiles fired at Saudi Arabia appear Iranian - U.N.
UNITED NATIONS (Reuters) - Remnants of four ballistic missiles fired into Saudi Arabia by Yemen’s Houthi rebels this year appear to have been designed and manufactured by Riyadh’s regional rival Iran, a confidential report by United Nations sanctions monitors said, bolstering a push by the United States to punish the Tehran government.
The independent panel of U.N. monitors, in a Nov. 24 report to the Security Council seen by Reuters on Thursday, said it “as yet has no evidence as to the identity of the broker or supplier” of the missiles, which were likely shipped to the Houthis in violation of a targeted U.N. arms embargo imposed in April 2015.
Earlier this month, U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Nikki Haley accused Iran of supplying Houthi rebels with a missile that was fired into Saudi Arabia in July and called for the United Nations to hold Tehran accountable for violating two U.N. Security Council resolutions…
MISCA Key Intelligence Advisory Board Has No MembersPresident Trump’s antipathy toward the intel community extends to the Intelligence Advisory Board.
After more than a year, U.S. President Donald Trump has failed to nominate a single member to work on an advisory board that reviews the intelligence community, and which has played a low-profile, but sometimes critical role in previous administrations.
The President’s Intelligence Advisory Board, established in 1956 by President Dwight D. Eisenhower to track Soviet development of nuclear weapons and bombers, is a part-time independent committee typically made up of experts from outside government in law, industry, technology, and the military — and sometimes the president’s personal friends and political donors. The board tends to operate in the shadows, and many of its decades-old recommendations and meetings have only recently been declassified.
One diplomat's stinging resignation letter offers a glimpse into the weakening State Department under Trump.
While National Security Council spokesman Michael Anton told Foreign Policy Trump “will definitely be nominating members” in August, no names publicly surfaced as possible appointees, apart from September news reports suggesting that tech magnate and Trump confidante Peter Thiel might be in the running to be the chair.
While advisory board’s Wikipedia page was edited two months ago to include Thiel as an advisor, Anton insists the information is incorrect. “We haven’t named anyone,” Anton said. The Atlantic reported Thiel dropped out of consideration earlier this month.
Three senior White House sources told Vanity Fair in September that Thiel was a favored choice to hold the intelligence advisor post because Trump wanted a “fresh set of eyes” when it comes to overseeing the intelligence community. It’s unclear who else would be considered in Thiel’s place if he has, in fact, withdrawn his name from consideration.
The White House webpage where details about the board are meant to reside is currently blank, other than a note to “Check back soon for more information…”

The Prisoner Exchange...

Yesterday I, like millions around the globe, watched the annual Army-Navy game from Philadelphia. But a ceremony reminded of the 1989 Army-Air Force game at Colorado Spring, CO. The Army and other branch schools have exchange students each semester, and prior to the arrival of the teams, the "prisoners" meet a mid-field and rejoin their schools to cheer on their team. Long time friend and fellow blogger Darren Miller at RotLC explained the ceremony to me. Unfortunately AFA kicked WP's ass that day...but Army won this year, and if they beat Navy, they get the Commander-n-Chief's Trophy. And you gotta love the signs on the back of their jackets:

The Army-Navy Game Started With Traditional 'Prisoner Exchange' — But Their Coats Told the Real Story

Every year, just before kickoff of the Army-Navy Game, officials arrange a “prisoner exchange.”

The U.S. Military Academy (West Point) explains the tradition on its website:

For years West Point and the U.S. Naval Academy have swapped their cadets and midshipmen for a semester-long exchange to foster closer interservice relations between the sister academies.

But every year things get interesting around Army-Navy Week and exchange students become, in a sense, “prisoners” to be released to friendlier territory right before kickoff of the Army-Navy Game.

Those cadets temporarily attending the Naval Academy cross the field and return to the warm embrace of the Corps of Cadets in the bleachers and those middies at West Point take their seats among the Brigade of Midshipmen.

But as the teams exchanged their captives on the field Saturday, their coats sent a message to the fans:




Navy's “revenge” was a nod to Army's upset win in 2016 — the Black Knights managed to come back after blowing a 14-point lead, breaking a 14-game losing streak against Navy.

And Army's “repeat” — well, that goes without saying...
It was a hell of a game and for the first time since 1996, Army gets the CmC Trophy!

Germany rising. Should we be concerned?

There is an old story about the founding of NATO. NATO was founded to "Keep the Americans in, the Russians out, and the Germans down." Understandable, seeing Germany was instrumental in the First World War and arguable the cause the of Second. There was legitimate unease, if you will, when Germany unified in 1990, but it was become an economic and political powerhouse of Europe. Now there is a question of if Germany wants to become more assertive in European affairs, militarily.

In a recent article in Foreign Policy, there review this interesting change in German military orientation.
Germany Is Quietly Building a European Army Under Its Command

Berlin is using a bland name to obscure a dramatic shift in its approach to defense: integrating brigades from smaller countries into the Bundeswehr.

Every few years, the idea of an EU army finds its way back into the news, causing a kerfuffle. The concept is both fantasy and bogeyman: For every federalist in Brussels who thinks a common defense force is what Europe needs to boost its standing in the world, there are those in London and elsewhere who recoil at the notion of a potential NATO rival.

But this year, far from the headlines, Germany and two of its European allies, the Czech Republic and Romania, quietly took a radical step down a path toward something that looks like an EU army while avoiding the messy politics associated with it: They announced the integration of their armed forces.

Romania’s entire military won’t join the Bundeswehr, nor will the Czech armed forces become a mere German subdivision. But in the next several months each country will integrate one brigade into the German armed forces: Romania’s 81st Mechanized Brigade will join the Bundeswehr’s Rapid Response Forces Division, while the Czech 4th Rapid Deployment Brigade, which has served in Afghanistan and Kosovo and is considered the Czech Army’s spearhead force, will become part of the Germans’ 10th Armored Division. In doing so, they’ll follow in the footsteps of two Dutch brigades, one of which has already joined the Bundeswehr’s Rapid Response Forces Division and another that has been integrated into the Bundeswehr’s 1st Armored Division. According to Carlo Masala, a professor of international politics at the University of the Bundeswehr in Munich, “The German government is showing that it’s willing to proceed with European military integration” — even if others on the continent aren’t yet.

European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker has repeatedly floated the idea of an EU army, only to be met with either ridicule or awkward silence. That remains the case even as the U.K., a perennial foe of the idea, is on its way out of the union. There’s little agreement among remaining member states over what exactly such a force would look like and which capabilities national armed forces would give up as a result. And so progress has been slow going. This March, the European Union created a joint military headquarters — but it’s only in charge of training missions in Somalia, Mali, and the Central African Republic and has a meager staff of 30. Other multinational concepts have been designed, such as the Nordic Battle Group, a small 2,400-troop rapid reaction force formed by the Baltic states and several Nordic countries and the Netherlands, and Britain’s Joint Expeditionary Force, a “mini-NATO” whose members include the Baltic states, Sweden, and Finland. But in the absence of suitable deployment opportunities, such operations-based teams may as well not exist.

But under the bland label of the Framework Nations Concept, Germany has been at work on something far more ambitious — the creation of what is essentially a Bundeswehr-led network of European miniarmies. “The initiative came out of the weakness of the Bundeswehr,” said Justyna Gotkowska, a Northern Europe security analyst at Poland’s Centre for Eastern Studies think tank. “The Germans realized that the Bundeswehr needed to fill gaps in its land forces … in order to gain political and military influence within NATO.” An assist from junior partners may be Germany’s best shot at bulking out its military quickly — and German-led miniarmies may be Europe’s most realistic option if it’s to get serious about joint security. “It’s an attempt to prevent joint European security from completely failing,” Masala said.

“Gaps” in the Bundeswehr is an understatement. In 1989, the West German government spent 2.7 percent of GDP on defense, but by 2000 spending had dropped to 1.4 percent, where it remained for years. Indeed, between 2013 and 2016 defense spending was stuck at 1.2 percent — far from NATO’s 2 percent benchmark. In a 2014 report to the Bundestag, the German parliament, the Bundeswehr’s inspectors-general presented a woeful picture: Most of the Navy’s helicopters were not working, and of the Army’s 64 helicopters, only 18 were usable. And while the Cold War Bundeswehr had consisted of 370,000 troops, by last summer it was only 176,015 men and women strong.

Since then the Bundeswehr has grown to more than 178,000 active-duty troops; last year the government increased funding by 4.2 percent, and this year defense spending will grow by 8 percent. But Germany still lags far behind France and the U.K. as a military power. And boosting defense spending is not uncontroversial in Germany, which is wary of its history as a military power. Foreign Minister Sigmar Gabriel recently said it was “completely unrealistic” to think that Germany would reach NATO’s defense spending benchmark of 2 percent of GDP — even though nearly all of Germany’s allies, from smaller European countries to the United States, are urging it to play a larger military role in the world.

Germany may not yet have the political will to expand its military forces on the scale that many are hoping for — but what it has had since 2013 is the Framework Nations Concept. For Germany, the idea is to share its resources with smaller countries in exchange for the use of their troops. For these smaller countries, the initiative is a way of getting Germany more involved in European security while sidestepping the tricky politics of Germany military expansion..."

NATO's commander has always been an American, while the NATO Secretary General has always been an European. While there is no statutory requirement for this, this has been tradition. But Germany, the Czech Republic and Romania are working on joint command. France tried that, alone, in the 1960s and that didn't work out well. We'll see how this works out now.

Friday, December 8, 2017

Officer Down


Deputy Sheriff James Martin Wallace
Richmond County Sheriff's Office, Georgia
End of Watch: Thursday, November 2, 2017
Age: 61
Tour: 7 years

Deputy Sheriff James Wallace suffered a fatal heart attack while participating in the department's annual physical fitness assessment at the Wilson Family YMCA on Wheeler Road.

Other deputies on scene immediately started CPR. He was transported to Doctor's Hospital where he passed away a short time later.

Deputy Wallace had served with the Richmond County Sheriff's Office for seven years.
Rest in Peace Bro…We Got The Watch

Nemo me impune lacessit

Day is done, Gone the sun, From the lake, From the hills, From the sky. All is well, Safely rest, God is nigh. 

Wednesday, December 6, 2017

Officer Down


Trooper Daniel Keith Rebman, Jr.
South Carolina Highway Patrol, South Carolina
End of Watch: Tuesday, October 24, 2017
Age: 31
Tour: 1 year, 1 month
Badge # T716

Trooper Daniel Rebman was killed in a vehicle crash when his patrol car was struck by another vehicle on I-385, near Bridges Road, in Greenville County.

He was parked on the shoulder of I-385 when a pickup truck left the roadway and struck his patrol car from behind at approximately 12:20 am. Trooper Rebman was transported to a local hospital where he died later in the afternoon.

Trooper Rebman had served with the South Carolina Highway Patrol for 13 months and was assigned to Post C. He was also a dispatcher in Greenville County for four years. Trooper Rebman is survived by his wife, three children, parents, and sister.
Rest in Peace Bro…We Got The Watch

Nemo me impune lacessit

Day is done, Gone the sun, From the lake, From the hills, From the sky. All is well, Safely rest, God is nigh. 

Monday, December 4, 2017

Officer Down


Police Officer Justin A. Leo
Girard Police Department, Ohio
End of Watch: Saturday, October 21, 2017
Age: 31
Tour: 5 years
Badge # 324

Police Officer Justin Leo was shot and killed while responding to a domestic disturbance call at 408 Indiana Avenue at approximately 10:15 pm.

The subject was intoxicated and was known to have firearms inside the home. Responding officers made contact with the subject, who produced a handgun and shot Officer Leo. Another officer returned fire and killed the subject.

Officer Leo was transported to a local hospital where he succumbed to his wounds.

Officer Leo served with the Girard Police Department for five years. He worked for the Mahoning County Sheriff's Department and the Vienna Police Department prior to joining the Girard Police Department in 2012. Officer Leo is survived by his parents, aunt, and extended family.
Rest in Peace Bro…We Got The Watch

Nemo me impune lacessit

Day is done, Gone the sun, From the lake, From the hills, From the sky. All is well, Safely rest, God is nigh. 

Friday, December 1, 2017

Officer Down


Trooper Daniel Keith Rebman, Jr.
South Carolina Highway Patrol, South Carolina
End of Watch: Tuesday, October 24, 2017
Age: 31
Tour: 1 year, 1 month
Badge # T716

Trooper Daniel Rebman was killed in a vehicle crash when his patrol car was struck by another vehicle on I-385, near Bridges Road, in Greenville County.

He was parked on the shoulder of I-385 when a pickup truck left the roadway and struck his patrol car from behind at approximately 12:20 am. Trooper Rebman was transported to a local hospital where he died later in the afternoon.

Trooper Rebman had served with the South Carolina Highway Patrol for 13 months and was assigned to Post C. He was also a dispatcher in Greenville County for four years. Trooper Rebman is survived by his wife, three children, parents, and sister.
Rest in Peace Bro…We Got The Watch

Nemo me impune lacessit

Day is done, Gone the sun, From the lake, From the hills, From the sky. All is well, Safely rest, God is nigh. 

Wednesday, November 29, 2017

Officer Down


Police Officer Marcus Anthony McNeil
New Orleans Police Department, Louisiana
End of Watch: Friday, October 13, 2017
Age: 29
Tour: 3 years
Badge # 741
Cause: Gunfire

Police Officer Marcus McNeil was shot and killed while investigating a suspicious person near the intersection of Tara Lane and Lake Forest Boulevard shortly after midnight.

He and three other officers had just exited their vehicles to investigate. Officer McNeil located the man nearby and attempted to speak to him. A struggle ensued during which Officer McNeil attempted to deploy his taser without the desired effect. The man then opened fire on Officer McNeil, killing him.

Responding officers shot and wounded the man, who fled to a nearby apartment complex. He was taken into custody after remaining barricaded for several hours. He was charged with first degree murder and several firearms and felony narcotics offenses.

Officer McNeil had served with the New Orleans Police Department for three years. He is survived by his wife and two young children.
Rest in Peace Bro…We Got The Watch

Nemo me impune lacessit

Day is done, Gone the sun, From the lake, From the hills, From the sky. All is well, Safely rest, God is nigh. 

Church threat in Houston....



I don't know if I should call this good or bad news. A few weeks after a nutcase murdered 26 people in a church in Sutherland Springs TX, and now we have this moron, Keanu Randolph, threatening a deacon and the man's daughter. But the Houston Police Officer's Union is offering training for the churches

HPD teaching church members how to protect themselves | abc13.com

The Houston Police Department wants to make churches a safe place for members to worship and gather. Today they're hosting a seminar on safety and security for churches.

The training comes just two days after a man walked into a Houston church and threatened to kill a church deacon, the deacon's toddler daughter and to rape and kill his wife...

...Today's seminar will include the Houston Police Department Police and Clergy Alliance (PACA) and members of the Houston Area Pastors Council (HAPC).

The training is going to focus on two things: How to survive an active shooter and parking lot security. It will be led by officers, and is open to the public...

Another disgrace of the incident in Houston. The suspect originally got a bail of $7,000. Which means a felon suspect can make bail on 700 dollars. Fortunately his bail for raiser to one million and I'm pretty sure this punk would have issues coming up with $1,000, much less $100,000.

Being Net Neutral means being net slow....

I’ve been in a Facebook
debate over so-called “Net Neutrality,” where the FCC, using the 1934 Telecommunications Act (back when computers were the size of 18 wheelers), declared they had the statutory authority to regulate Internet service providers (ISPs). I believe this has been challenged in court, but fortunately the Trump administration is moving to end that lasted power grab by he Obama regime.

Looking through Facebook and found a good look at what happens when the federal government plan ISP service.
Americans Taxed $400 Billion For Fiber Optic Internet That Doesn’t Exist

America's rate of fiber optic penetration is half the OECD average
Americans Paid $400 Billion in Taxes & Internet Surcharges for Fiber Optic Upgrades that Never Came

South Korea is the poster child for high-speed internet: its fixed-connection and mobile download speeds are consistently among the fastest in the world, and its capital city, Seoul, is completely saturated with Wi-Fi. How did they do it?

Being densely populated helped: it’s easier and cheaper to wire-up crowded cities than empty countrysides. But the key element was the government’s pro-broadband policies. Not only did they open up the market for competition among internet service providers, but they also invested in hard infrastructure.

Back in 2011 the New York Times reported that the South Korean planned investments of $24.6 billion in digital infrastructure. It paid off: South Korea’s internet remains among the world’s fastest, according to testing done by Speedtest—and this is in spite of massive recent gains and investments made by other countries.

Meanwhile, America’s internet connections are slow. This summer Forbes Magazine reported:
The US ranks 9th in the world in fixed broadband speed at 70.75 Mbps average download and 27.64 Mbps average upload. Ranking in the top ten is good but the US’s average download speed is less than half top-ranked Singapore’s 154.38 Mbps. Both upload and download speeds increased steadily from July 2016 to July 2017 and the US’s rank increased from 11 to 9.
...
The picture for the US is not nearly as good when you look at mobile internet speed where the US ranks 46th, just ahead of Albania and behind Oman. Average download speed in the US is 23.05 Mbps which is less than half the average download speeds in Norway, the Netherlands and Hungary. Average upload speed in the US is 8.26 Mbps. While mobile download speed increased by almost 20% from July 2016 to July 2017, the US’s world ranking fell from 44th to 46th. Not good.

Since then America’s fallen down to 11th place in terms of fixed connection download speed, and 47th in terms of mobile download speed. Basically, America’s internet is slow, and it’s getting relatively slower. This will have big economic consequences down the road as the world grows increasingly digital.


But that’s not the real story here. More important is America’s failure to keep pace with countries like South Korea despite absolutely astronomical investments in broadband technology.

According to a fairly recent book (2015) called The Book of Broken Promises, the American people have been charged some $400 billion by telecom companies (at the instance of government) for fiber optic upgrades that have not materialized. The author writes:

By the end of 2014, America will have been charged about $400 billion by the local phone incumbents, Verizon, AT&T and CenturyLink, for a fiber optic future that never showed up. And though it varies by state, counting the taxes, fees and surcharges that you have paid every month (many of these fees are actually revenues to the company or taxes on the company that you paid), it comes to about $4000-$5000.00 per household from 1992-2014, and that’s the low number.

You were also charged about nine times to wire the schools and libraries via state and federal plans designed to help the phone and cable companies...
I’ll turn 53 in January. I have lived through he Oil Crisis on the 1970s, the breakup of Ma Bell in the 80s, the seizure of the health insurance market in 2010. Reagan deregulated oil, and now were are independent in oil production. After some initial growing pains we have practically free telecommunications (Really, when is the last time you paid for a call from Houston to Dallas, or Denver?). But with the federal government in charge of health insurance, choice, and quality have gone down, and cost have skyrocketed.

Lesson learned, keep the federal government out of the market.

Monday, November 27, 2017

Officer Down

Officer Smith
Officer Shannon
Manager Darden

Correctional Officer Justin James Smith
North Carolina Department of Public Safety - Division of Prisons, North Carolina
End of Watch: Thursday, October 12, 2017
Age: 35
Tour: 5 years
Cause: Assault
Weapon: Blunt object
Offender: Charged with murder

Correction Enterprises Manager Veronica Darden
North Carolina Department of Public Safety - Division of Prisons, North Carolina
End of Watch: Thursday, October 12, 2017
Age: 50
Tour: 10 years
Weapon: Blunt object
Offender: Charged with murder

Correctional Officer Wendy Shannon
North Carolina Department of Public Safety - Division of Prisons, North Carolina
End of Watch: Monday, October 30, 2017
Age: 49
Tour: 4 years
Cause: Assault
Incident Date: 10/12/2017
Weapon: Blunt object
Offender: Charged with murder

Correctional Officer Wendy Shannon, Correction Enterprises Manager Veronica Darden, and Correctional Officer Justin Smith were killed during an escape attempt from the Pasquotank Correctional Institute at approximately 3:00 pm.

On October 12th, 2017, several inmates ignited a fire inside the prison's Specialty Sewing Plant as a diversion. The inmates then attacked responding corrections officers with hammers and scissors obtained in the sewing plant. Prison personnel and responding fire department crews were able to bring the fire under control and prevent the escape.

Officer Shannon was transported to Sentara Norfolk General Hospital where she passed away on October 30th, 2017.

Four inmates were charged with first degree murder as a result of the incident.

Officer Smith had served with the North Carolina Division of Prisons for five years.

Correction Manager Darden had served with the North Carolina Division of Prisons for 10 years.

Officer Shannon had served with the North Carolina Division of Prisons for four years.
Rest in Peace…We Got The Watch

Nemo me impune lacessit

Day is done, Gone the sun, From the lake, From the hills, From the sky. All is well, Safely rest, God is nigh. 

Sunday, November 26, 2017

An ordinary American..

In extraordinary times...

There is an old saying that everyone is famous for fifteen minutes. My fifteen minutes was getting on TV after camping out with some friends for the premier of Return of the Jedi (young and stupid), but this gentleman got a bit more than a quarter of an hour.

Retired Dallas Police detective Jim Leavelle was stationed at Pearl Harbor on December 7, 1941. After living through "...a date which will live in infamy...", he moved on to the Dallas Police Department in 1950. And his image is engraved in history. He was handcuffed to suspected presidential assassin Lee Harvey Oswald when Jack Ruby murdered him.



From this month's American Legion Magazine, an interview with veteran and retired police detective Leavelle, 97 years young.
Two Bouts With Infamy

By John Raughter Nov 20, 2017

Jim Leavelle just may be indestructible. The 97-year-old member of American Legion Post 23 in Garland, Texas, is a living, breathing participant in two of the 20th century’s most significant events.

A sailor serving aboard USS Whitney, he was at Pearl Harbor on Dec. 7, 1941. Twenty-two years later, on Nov. 24, 1963, Leavelle witnessed the slaying of John F. Kennedy assassination suspect Lee Harvey Oswald.

How close was he? He was handcuffed to Oswald at the time.

“Those weren’t even my closest calls,” Leavelle chuckles, noting times he faced gunfire during his 25 years with the Dallas Police Department. But none compares to the sheer firepower he saw as a 21-year-old ship’s storekeeper in Hawaii.

“I was on deck and a boatswain’s mate was standing beside me and we were looking across the harbor,” he recalls. “He saw the first plane coming in. I didn’t notice it. He said, ‘Look at that plane. It’s got a red ball on the wing.’ He said they must have been using it for practice. But that was the plane that was sent first. Then he dropped his bombs and went back.”

Whitney was spared as a target due to its location. About a mile and a half from Ford Island, the destroyer was not at the center of the large fleet that bore the brunt. “The Japanese would come over Ford Island and make a turn to the right because that’s where most of the action was, but we were on the other side,” Leavelle says. “One came our direction. I don’t know how he got lost. He fired a few rounds, I guess at several of us, as it passed over.”

Still, Whitney’s crew saw much of the attack. “We did have a good view of everything. A mile and a half at sea looks like 150 yards on the ground because you can see a lot further on the open sea.”

Though his memories of Pearl Harbor are troubling, Leavelle understands the importance of giving an eyewitness account.

“We saw some destroyers going out with big fires on the back end of them where they had got hit,” he says. “The battleship Nevada was trying to get out of there, burning on each end, front and back, and you could see the firemen fighting it, and they had their guns going. They made a lot of wartime movies later on, but none could match what the scene looked like to us.”

Leavelle manned his battle station, although it was not an effective one. “I was a loader on a 5-inch gun,” he says. “It would shoot 40 or 50 miles, so if you fired it could kill someone in Honolulu, but it was useless here.”

While Leavelle did incur an injury during his time in the Navy, it happened prior to Dec. 7, 1941. A wake from a rough Pacific storm struck Whitney and threw him over the rail of a stairwell onto a steel floor, shattering his knees. “After the attack, the doctors would only assign me to shore duty,” he says. “One doctor said he would never approve sea duty because he was afraid my knee wouldn’t hold up, and I couldn’t man a battle station. Since they weren’t going to send me to sea, I got out.”

After a few jobs in the civilian workforce, Leavelle joined the Dallas Police Department in 1950. “I thought my previous injuries might hinder me, but I passed the physical test without any problems, and the rest is history.”

Major history, actually. Wearing a light suit and a cowboy hat, Leavelle is a prominent figure in the Pulitzer Prize-winning photograph of Lee Harvey Oswald grimacing in pain the moment he is shot by Dallas nightclub owner Jack Ruby. Leavelle, by this time a homicide detective, had earlier interrogated Oswald for the slaying of Dallas police officer J.D. Tippit, who was killed about 45 minutes after President John F. Kennedy.

“I started talking to him,” Leavelle says of the interrogation. “He was real polite. He wasn’t arguing or anything. Of course he wasn’t answering them truthful. He answered one question that I snapped on real quick. When I asked him about shooting the police officer, he said, ‘I hadn’t shot anybody!’ Well, that’s not the answer to that question.”

His interrogation was interrupted by a police captain who asked Oswald where he worked. When Oswald answered that he worked at the School Book Depository, Leavelle lost his prisoner and Oswald became the prime suspect of a much bigger murder case.

Media quickly descended on the Dallas police station. Moving Oswald from station offices to jail became a logistical challenge as reporters crowded the halls. During a walk-through prior to the Ruby encounter, Leavelle felt something move near his legs.

“There was a reporter with a camera trying to take a picture,” he says. “I gave him the backside of my foot and tried to send him about 10 feet down the hallway. I didn’t have any trouble with him after that.”

The trouble began at 11:21 a.m. Nov. 24. Moments earlier, Leavelle had prepared Oswald for another walk from the station offices. “I said, ‘Lee, if anybody shoots at you, I hope they’re as good a shot as you are,’ because he had a marksmanship rating in the Marines. And he started laughing at that. But that’s another mistake. I complimented him and he liked the compliment about his good shooting. That’s what he wanted people to think about him – to think good things about him.”

When they walked into the basement, Leavelle instantly recognized Ruby. Years earlier as a beat officer, Leavelle had been responsible for ensuring the city’s nightclubs closed by midnight in accordance with Texas law. Leavelle describes Ruby as one of the more pleasant club owners he dealt with. “If I ever asked him anything, he’d tell me, and he always told me the truth,” he says.

This encounter was different.

“When I turned the corner and was facing Ruby, I recognized him, but he had that pistol in his left hand pressed against his left leg,” Leavelle says. “But all those reporters and police officers weren’t looking down. They were looking up here (face-level) when I came in, to see what he (Oswald) looked like. But (Ruby) switched that pistol over to his right hand, and I knew immediately what was going to happen. So I tried to grab Ruby. I got my hand on his shoulder, not good enough to do much with him, and I was pulling Oswald behind me at the same time.”

Ruby got his shot off into Oswald, but Leavelle credits his police partner L.C. Graves with saving his own life by grabbing the pistol. “L.C. had the cylinder of that pistol and I knew he wasn’t going to turn it loose, and I knew that nobody could pull that trigger as long as L.C. held that,” he says. “But he already moved over enough. Ruby was still working his finger on his trigger trying to get off a shot. Had he gotten it off, I would have caught it here (the chest). If my partner hadn’t grabbed that cylinder, I wouldn’t be here talking to you today.”

Oswald lost consciousness and died that day.

Leavelle doesn’t buy into conspiracy theories surrounding the Kennedy assassination. “We didn’t leave anything out,” he says. “We had run everything down to the last inch.”

So why did Ruby kill Oswald? “Same reason Oswald did it,” Leavelle says. “He wanted recognition. He wanted to be thought something of.”

When it came time to transfer Ruby to jail, the suspect was understandably nervous. “He was wanting to borrow my hat and get my jacket and camouflage himself. I said, ‘Jack, nobody’s going to shoot you. In the first place, you ain’t worth killing.’ He said, ‘Well, all I wanted to do was be a hero, but it looks like I just messed things up.’ I said, ‘You can say that again.’”

Leavelle is a beloved figure by the Dallas Police Department, which named its Detective of the Year Award after him. Although Pearl Harbor led the United States into the bloodiest war of the 20th century, Leavelle says it’s the JFK assassination he is asked about most often. “So many people were too small back during the Pearl Harbor days,” he says. “I (also) think it’s because the president they saw and were closer to.”

Born just a year after The American Legion’s founding, the legendary lawman has witnessed a lot of history. As far as Kennedy goes, Leavelle is neither a fan nor a critic. “I’m like everybody else,” he says. “I don’t think I voted for him, but I don’t think I disliked him. I don’t know that I ever hated any politician. If you try to hate somebody, you’re just wasting your time.”

Well done sir, well done.

Friday, November 24, 2017

Officer Down


Police Officer Floyd East, Jr.
Texas Tech University Police Department, Texas
End of Watch: Monday, October 9, 2017
Age: 48
Tour: 5 months
Badge # 635

Police Officer Floyd East was shot and killed inside of the Texas Tech University Police Department while questioning a narcotics suspect at approximately 8:30 pm.

Officers were conducting a welfare check on a freshman student after receiving reports from his family that he was suicidal and possibly possessed a weapon. Responding officers discovered narcotics and paraphernalia inside of his room as they checked on his wellbeing. The subject was taken into custody and transported to the police station for further investigation.

The subject, who was not handcuffed, shot Officer East in the back of the head with a .45 caliber pistol as he completed paperwork. The man then stole Officer East's bodycam and fled the police station. He was arrested a short time later and charged with capital murder.

Officer East had served with the Texas Tech University Police Department for five months. He is survived by his wife and two daughters.
Rest in Peace Bro…We Got The Watch

Nemo me impune lacessit

Day is done, Gone the sun, From the lake, From the hills, From the sky. All is well, Safely rest, God is nigh. 

The New York Times shows its ignorance of basic economics, again.

I subscribe to a group on Facebook called "Fans of the Best of the Web," and a few days ago an author (I regret I deleted his name, I wanted to give credit...sorry.) had a link to a New York Times iditorial (At least they didn't put it on the front page as news, give them credit.), wondering why so many store fronts are empty right now. And they go forth with one leftest idea after another to get the stores filled, but "...much like the neutered dog, they just don't get it!" (From the late great Sam Kinison.) It would be funny, if it were not the fact that many powerful people read this rag and think it means something.

From last week's Manhattan tabloid, with comments.
Why Is New York Full of Empty Stores?

By THE EDITORIAL BOARD NOV. 19, 2017

In his classic 1949 essay “Here Is New York,” E. B. White described the city as “a composite of tens of thousands of tiny neighborhood units,” each “virtually self-sufficient” with shops that met most residents’ basic needs, from groceries to shoes, from newspapers to haircuts. Every neighborhood was so complete, White wrote, “that many a New Yorker spends a lifetime within the confines of an area smaller than a country village.”

Nearly seven decades later, that observation is still largely valid, but it is being sorely tested by a scourge of store closings that afflicts one section of the city after another, notably in Manhattan and parts of Brooklyn. This plague has been underway for several years, but its familiarity does not diminish the damage inflicted on the economic and the psychic well-being of neighborhoods. One by one, cherished local shops are disappearing, replaced by national chains or, worse, nothing at all. To borrow from Tim Wu, a Columbia University law professor who has examined the issue, “Blight extracts a social cost.”

Thus far, coming to grips with the problem has not been a de Blasio administration priority. But it should be high on any to-do list in its second term.

“For lease” signs all but define every block in some neighborhoods, rich as well as poor. Take the Upper West Side. Its City Council member, Helen Rosenthal, reports that her staff recently surveyed shops along Broadway and Amsterdam and Columbus Avenues, and on some side streets. Of 1,332 storefronts, 161, or 12 percent, were unoccupied. The situation, Ms. Rosenthal correctly says, is a threat to the area’s character, its “sense of community” and even its residents’ sense of safety. While a comparable citywide census of empty storefronts is needed, the Upper West Side is obviously not alone.

On one level, there’s just so much the city can do. Online shopping is here to stay, and it takes an inevitable toll on brick-and-mortar stores.

But landlords can be blamed mightily for this blight — the greedy among them who raise rents to stratospheric levels, figuring that some deep-pocketed company will pay top dollar for the space. Speculative behavior has led to boom-or-bust cycles, as on Bleecker Street in Greenwich Village. It was fancy boutique heaven for a while. But how many $400 T-shirts does even the wealthiest New Yorker need? Boutique heaven turned into vacancy hell...

No, it's not greed, but the market that drives rents. You have a company that will pay $5,000 a month for your storefront, or $20, 000 a month, who do you go with? Or put another way NYT, if someone is ready to purchase your paper for a quarter (Much more than it's worth,) or another buyer willing to pay a buck, who do you sell it to. We know who you will sell to, and in your mind that's not greed. That's different.
"...What kind of lifeline might be thrown to imperiled local businesses and their neighborhoods? One idea floated among lawmakers is to restructure the commercial rent tax, a 54-year-old levy that principally affects business tenants in Manhattan below 96th Street. If their annual rent bill exceeds $250,000, they must pay the city 3.9 percent of it. This is on top of any real estate taxes they may also owe. It’s a burden. One proposal from some officials is to raise the threshold to $500,000 for the rent tax to kick in.

Another idea that merits consideration — and is likely to need Albany’s approval — is some sort of a “vacancy tax” on those landlords who leave storefronts unoccupied for years, hoping against hope that Sephora or Marc Jacobs or whatever will move in someday. Details would, of course, have to be worked out, including how steep a tax after how long a period of vacancy.

The core point is that all these dead spaces hurt, and neighborhoods have a right to protect themselves. “The city is losing what makes it appealing, what makes it New York,” Professor Wu said. Amen to that. The last thing anyone wants is a sequel to the E. B. White essay that might well be titled, “There Goes New York...”

This may shock you, but that is exactly the wrong thing to do. You make it too expensive to do business in your town, guess what? The business goes under. At some point the owner may even say, "Screw it, I'm out of here, I'll sell at a loss, but there is no way I can break even, much less make a profit. At least I'll stop the hemorrhaging..."

Forbes magazine caught on this a few days ago and made an excellent point. And I've made this point countless times to people who think they can artificially (i.e. without the influence of the market) raised wages without negative impact:
"...What happened? For starters, the state of New York embarked on an unprecedented experiment in raising the minimum wage. At the start of 2016, the city's tipped minimum wage increased by 50 percent, and the minimum wage for fast food workers jumped by nearly 17 percent to $10.50. At the start of 2017, the wage floor rose higher to $12 an hour, and the minimum wage for all businesses in the city rose by 22 percent to $11 an hour..."

I would say there may be some hope, but not right now. In a city that had as a legitimate canidate for mayor a petafile (Anthony Weiner), a communist (de Blasio) and another communist (Christine Quinn), and no Giuliani on the horizon to undo the damage of 20 years of democratic rule, it's gonna be bad. God knows they would be expecting a bail out from DC if Mrs. Bill Clinton had won last fall. I still think they will try and get the nation's taxpayers to bail them out soon enough. And I think it's time to remember the wisdom of former President Gerald Ford. "Drop dead!"