Target Centermass

9/30/2004

Initial First Debate Thoughts

Filed under: — Gunner @ 10:10 pm

Kerry performed better, but no knockout blows. Kerry had to win the debate and not just the show, though. There were no major gaffes by either Kerry or Bush, and that still leaves Bush in the lead.

Bush most assuredly had more of the message I wanted to hear. By a long shot.

More analysis to follow.

9/29/2004

Welcome to DFW, Hugh

Filed under: — Gunner @ 11:26 pm

Just back from a day spent away from reality, gorging myself on junkfood at the State Fair of Texas.

Before I go surfing around for news, I wanted to point out that I’ve found a new talk radio station has launched in the Dallas area, KSKY 660 AM. To my surprise, the station is carrying the Hugh Hewitt show. Not the greatest time slot (8-11 p.m.), but a big plus for the DFW airwaves.

9/28/2004

Female Italian Captives Freed, Possibly Ransomed

Filed under: — Gunner @ 10:03 pm

It seems the story of the deaths of two Simonas was greatly exaggerated. The pair of Italian women, held hostage since Sept. 7, are now home free.

Two Italian women aid workers held hostage in Iraq for three weeks have returned home to cheers and tears, with Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi leading the welcome party at Rome’s Ciampino airport.

Simona Pari and Simona Torretta were freed by their Iraqi captors earlier on Tuesday and were immediately whisked by plane back to Italy, where they have unwittingly become national heroines thanks to their ordeal.

News of their release sparked scenes of joy across the country, while Italian and world leaders breathed a sigh of relief that the crisis had ended without bloodshed.

When the women were first seized, I posted a handful of possible outcomes, including the following:

The Italian government may have to make some hard choices – bail out of the war, deal with the scumbags, or stand firm and risk the lives of women, possibly leading to an upheaval on the home front….

I then concluded that there may end up being no winners and a “quick release is the only way to prevent losses for all involved.”

Well, it seems that the Italian government did end up having to face those hard choices and, according to the Reuters article, apparently decided on dealing with the Islamist bastards.

A Kuwaiti daily said earlier on Tuesday the women’s captors had agreed to free them for a $1 million (550,000 pounds) ransom.

An Italian political source told Reuters a ransom was paid but it was less than $1 million. Berlusconi himself made no mention of a ransom when he announced the release of the two women to parliament.

He said the secret services had located their whereabouts earlier this week, but rather than risk using violence to secure their release, the Italian government had preferred to negotiate.

Italy bought temporary peace at home and secured a far better deal than the Philippines managed in their $6 million wimp-out. One has to ask, though, at what future price? How many deaths can be financed with this ransom?

Italy is still in the game, but they just handed a lot of chips to the bad guys playing by a different, ruthless set of rules.

Abducted CNN Producer Released

Filed under: — Gunner @ 9:34 pm

Let me take a moment to pat my own back. Last night, after CNN producer Riad Ali was kidnapped by Palestinian bandits, I posted the following:

First, Hamas and the Palestinian Authority have to disavow involvement and, if it turns out they have any influence on these bandits, will work to ensure a safe and quick release. They have to avoid biting the hand that feeds them which, in this case, is a friendly international media.

Today, CNN is reporting that Ali has been set free by his captors.

CNN producer Riad Ali was released Tuesday, almost 24 hours after he was abducted by armed gunmen, and is now in the custody of Palestinian police.

….

Shortly before his release, a videotape surfaced in which Ali explained he was being held by the Al Aqsa Martyrs Brigades, a militant offshoot of Arafat’s Fatah movement.

I called it, but it seemed pretty obvious, to be honest.

A Worthy Request of Bloggers

Filed under: — Gunner @ 12:23 am

Greyhawk has gone to war. Now, Mrs. Greyhawk has asked a favor

I call to my fellow bloggers to do what the mainstream media refuse to do, and that is to report the truth about the success of rebuiling Iraq.

….

You know, my husband is over there and seeing that he may be limited to what he can read, I sure don’t want him to read something that makes him feel his efforts are in vain.

And what of the Iraqi People? If all they see and read focuses almost exclusively on the violence without reports of the monumental progresses being made, what will they think? How will they have the courage to fight the insurgents (terrorist) if they have no hope. If you watch the satellite channels from Arab countries you would imagine there’s no rebuilding going on at all. This is encouraging terrorists and demoralizing those who supported democracy.

Where does the Blogshere come in? A place to start would be this blog “Chrenkoff“, a Polish Australian blogger who compiles a periodic roundup of “good news from Iraq.”
Link him, better yet post good news you find on your blog as often as possible, photos a plus. Our soldiers lives and the state of Iraq could depend on it.

Target Centermass is young and barely visited, but I will do what I can for this good cause. At least I’ll try, which is what our country has asked of Greyhawk (on a vastly different scale, of course). I plan on revising my blogroll in the next day or two, and Chrenkoff is among those to be added.

9/27/2004

Quote of the Week, 27 SEP 04

Filed under: — Gunner @ 10:56 pm

Okay, it obviously won’t always be on Sunday, but here’s this week’s quote.

Victory at all costs, victory in spite of all terror, victory however long and hard the road may be; for without victory there is no survival.

—Winston Churchill

CNN Producer Abducted in Gaza

Filed under: — Gunner @ 10:38 pm

CNN is reporting that one of its Gaza Strip contingent was brazenly kidnapped today.

A group of armed men abducted a CNN producer [Riad Ali] in Gaza City on Monday.

….

CNN correspondent Ben Wedeman said he, Ali and CNN photographer Mary Rogers had left their Gaza office in a taxi when a white Peugeot pulled in front of them, blocking their way, around 6:35 p.m. (11:35 a.m. ET).

Wedeman said a man in his early 20s and dressed in civilian clothes emerged from the car, stuck a revolver through the taxi window and “said to me in Arabic, ‘Which one of you is Riad?’ ”

“We were dumbstruck at first, but Riad then said, ‘I am Riad.’ And then other men got out of the car that had pulled in front of us, and they were carrying AK-47 assault rifles, and they said to Riad, ‘Get out of the car,’ ” Wedeman said.

He said Ali was forced into the back of the Peugeot, which then drove away. No one was injured.

Wedeman said the kidnappers made no attempt to cover their faces.

Wedeman said CNN has contacted Palestinian security authorities in Gaza, but there was no new information on Ali’s status.

Ali, who is an Arab, has worked for the network for about two years, traveling extensively in Gaza and the West Bank as part of his assignments.

The article states that no claims of responsibility have been made. Hamas has condemned the act, stating “this ugly incident is a violation of the sanctity of journalism and contradicts the morals of the Palestinian people.”

I have little faith in Hamas’ concern with contradicting morals. However, I do have a couple of thoughts on this, which should be pretty obvious or I wouldn’t have blogged it.

First, Hamas and the Palestinian Authority have to disavow involvement and, if it turns out they have any influence on these bandits, will work to ensure a safe and quick release. They have to avoid biting the hand that feeds them which, in this case, is a friendly international media.

Unless, of course, I’m right about my second thought. Noting that Ali was specifically targeted, he may be suspected of collaborating with the Israelis. If this is the case, and it should be noted I base this possibility on little but suspicion, Riad Ali is a dead man.

France Wants U.S. Pullout on Agenda

Filed under: — Gunner @ 10:12 pm

France is placing restrictions on its participation in a possible international conference on Iraq. The unusual thing is that I have no problems with the French demands, as they are stated in this article.

France said Monday that it would take part in a proposed international conference on Iraq only if the agenda included a possible U.S. troop withdrawal, thus complicating the planning for a meeting that has drawn mixed reactions.

Fine, a possible U.S. withdrawal can be discussed. Our representatives, however, are allowed to smirk and chuckle at will. During this portion of the conference, speaking with a mockingly silly French accent is encouraged.

Paris also wants representatives of Iraq’s insurgent groups to be invited to a conference in October or November, a call that would seem difficult for the Bush administration to accept.

Fine, we’ll invite the terrorists. There will be no promises of safe passage, or even survival. Body cavity searches to be expected prior to each session.

Otherwise, I couldn’t care less if France participates. They bring no value to the table unless they are bearing croissants.

France needs to realize that, short of a Kerry victory in November, they could be whining and cringing their way into international obsolescence. I, personally, do not think of them as an ally. Instead, they are an obstruction, freely selling arms to any country, be that customer friend or foe to the U.S., and occasionally asking us to rescue them or take over their messes.

9/26/2004

U.S. to Enter Iraq No-go Zones

Filed under: — Gunner @ 9:23 pm

Secretary of State Colin Powell has said the U.S. will soon move to put an end to the “no-go” zones that currently dot several areas in Iraq.

The U.S. military in Iraq will move into insurgent-filled “no-go zones” to stabilize them in advance of elections in January, Secretary of State Colin Powell said Sunday.

The Bush administration is hoping free elections will help stabilize the country and build a sense of legitimacy for the new government.

Administration officials have acknowledged that violence in many parts of the country could make voting dangerous or perhaps even impossible in some places.

This move, while needed for the long-term success of the Iraqi venture, will most assuredly be bloody and may have an impact on the November U.S. elections. That said, it needs to be done despite this danger for the Bush administration.

“The major thrust of our political and military and diplomatic efforts over the next several months will be to make sure there are no ‘no-go zones,'” [Powell] added.

U.S.-led forces have been avoiding those areas of Iraq.

Powell said the military is putting together plans to “return these zones to government control.”

The man in charge of winning the war in Iraq, Gen. John Abizaid of U.S. Central Command, said on NBC’s “Meet the Press” that “we will have to fight our way all the way through elections.”

He would not say where U.S. forces would go on the offensive.

“We never want to tip off our hands about what we want to do,” he said. “It’s clear, however, that, through a combination of political and military action, we will do whatever is necessary to bring areas of Iraq under the control of the Iraqi government … by the January elections.”

Best wishes to those men in uniform, be they American, Iraqi, or some of our other allies, in this endeavor. On a personal note, this is the kind of steadfastness I honestly don’t expect to see from a possible Kerry administration but it is exactly the kind needed in the long term for our nation’s security.

Battleship Texas in Jeopardy

Filed under: — Gunner @ 8:56 pm

I’ve previously posted about the christening of the latest USS Texas, the second member of the Virginia class of submarines. In that post, I briefly mentioned one of her predecessors, the battleship Texas. The Dallas Morning News did a feature piece today on the aging vessel, describing the dire condition and expensive needs she faces (registration required, try bugmenot.com).

Age, relentless saltwater corrosion and tight budgets are doing what no bombs, torpedoes or bullets could – destroying the Battleship Texas.

Sixteen years after the state spent $14 million to help preserve it, the nearly century-old Texas – the only remaining battleship to survive World Wars I and II – needs an overhaul to keep it from rusting away.

“The ship is in need of significant repair,” said Steve Whiston, director of the infrastructure division of the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department. The department maintains the 573-foot-long, 34,000-ton vessel in a berth on the Houston Ship Channel. “There is corrosion at the water line. We’re continuing to experience problems that cause us concern. And the ship, given its age, is pretty fragile.”

This ship has quite the storied past, serving significantly in both World War I and II.

The Texas is the oldest of the eight remaining American battlewagons and the last of the Dreadnought class, patterned after the British battleship that featured unprecedented speed and armaments at the turn of the 20th century. Launched in 1912 and commissioned two years later, the Texas was touted as the world’s most powerful weapon.

In World War I, it served as U.S. flagship in the British Grand Fleet. In 1940, it was named flagship of the U.S. Atlantic Fleet, took part in D-Day in 1944, later experienced casualties when hit by German artillery off France and provided Pacific support for World War II battles at Iwo Jima and Okinawa.

Alas! The current outlook for the Texas is not good, with funding not the only issue.

In 1988, the ship underwent its first major restoration in 40 years. It was towed to a Galveston shipyard where the hull essentially was replaced.

The ship again needs extensive renovations, but there is no money or a convenient place for repairs.

“A ship like that really needs significant dry-dock repairs every eight to 10 years, so we’re really past our cycle,” Mr. Whiston said.

The Texas Legislature approved about $12 million for bonds to pay for renovations but didn’t provide a way to pay off the bonds, Mr. Whiston said. Park officials hope to remedy that with a budget request during the legislative session that begins in January.

But since the last round of repairs, the Galveston dry-dock where the Texas was towed closed, and there’s doubt any shipyard in Texas can do the job. Officials are also not sure that the ship could survive a move.

“It’s fine floating in one place, but when you put a ship of that age in open water, that stress, we were concerned we may lose it,” Mr. Whiston said.

One proposal calls for building a dam around where the ship’s now docked, along with a dry dock, allowing engineers to remove the water as needed to make repairs. Another idea is to permanently raise the ship from the water on a kind of cradle.

It would be a tragedy to lose this piece of our state and national history. I honestly do not see the Lone Star State failing to take care of this lady, though. At least that’s what I’m hoping.

More on the battleship Texas can be found here.

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