Target Centermass

3/31/2005

Wrapping up a Crappy Day

Filed under: — Gunner @ 11:51 pm

Death

The long, sorrowful struggle over Terri Schiavo’s life ended Thursday morning when she died in her hospice bed almost two weeks after the removal of her feeding tube, her parents and siblings absent, the husband they reviled at her side.

Deaths

A U.S. military transport plane crashed in central Albania while on a training mission Thursday, and nine American personnel aboard were believed to have been killed, Albanian officials said.

Pushing Death

A frail and pained Pope John Paulwas battling on Friday to overcome a fever and urinaryinfection after his health took a dramatic turn for the worse,sending waves of anxiety around the Roman Catholic world.

A Vatican official said the condition of the 84-year-oldPontiff had stabilized during the night thanks to antibiotics,but medical sources said the next 24 hours would prove crucial.

Italian media reported that John Paul received on Thursdayevening the sacrament for the sick and dying commonly known asthe Last Rites. It is given to the very seriously ill but doesnot necessarily mean death is imminent.

And the one that hit me closest, my favorite comedian.

Death

Thanks again for the laughs, Mitch.

Tomorrow should be a better day, with an expected milestone for Target Centermass and the season finale for SciFi Channel’s Battlestar Galactica (hint: expect cliffhangers). Goodness knows, the day couldn’t be much worse. At least I hope not.

This is Gunner. Out.

U.S. Denies U.N. Claim Iraqis Malnourished

Filed under: — Gunner @ 10:40 pm

Though the conditions of the Iraqi populace certainly are a concern, doubly so for the children, the U.S. has reacted to United Nations’ claims of increasing child malnutrition by calling them questionable and political.

The U.S. human rights delegation Thursday rejected a U.N. monitor’s claim that child malnutrition had risen in Iraq and said, if anything, health conditions have improved since the overthrow of Saddam Hussein.

Jean Ziegler, the U.N. Human Right Commission’s expert on the right to food, cited U.S. and European studies Wednesday in telling the commission that acute malnutrition rates among Iraqi children under 5 rose late last year to 7.7 percent from 4 percent after Saddam’s ouster in April 2003. Ziegler blamed the war for the situation.

“First, he has not been to Iraq, and second, he is wrong,” said Kevin E. Moley, U.S. ambassador to U.N. organizations in Geneva and a member of the American delegation to the 53-nation U.N. Human Rights Commission.

“He’s taking some information that is in itself difficult to validate and juxtaposing his own views — which are widely known,” Moley said, referring to Ziegler’s opposition to the U.S. military intervention in the country.

Moley rejected the rate cited by Ziegler and said malnutrition in Iraq was notoriously difficult to gauge. He noted that some estimates had put it at 11 percent in 1996 and 7.8 percent in 2000, while Saddam was still in power.

“The surveys that have been taken … have indicated that the recent rise in malnutrition rates began between 2002 and 2003 under the regime of Saddam Hussein,” Moley said.

“If anything, vaccination, food aid … has improved dramatically since the fall of Saddam Hussein,” he added.

Also taking the UN claims to task is Captain Ed at Captain’s Quarters, who uses the UN’s own figures against them.

The report obviously aims itself at Washington, as the BBC reports. What the BBC fails to mention is that the report is dishonest, mathematically illiterate, historically inaccurate, and a terrific demonstration why the UN cannot be trusted with money or policy. Its timing appears to have been strategized to take the heat off of Kofi Annan and the massive and grotesque scandals wracking the United Nations.

Okay, a show of hands if you’re not sick of the UN. Anyone? Anyone?

Palestinian Security Reeling into Chaos

Filed under: — Gunner @ 10:10 pm

The last two days have seen attacks by Palestinians against their own government and police, underscoring the weak hand that Palestinian Authority president Mahmoud Abbas is holding.

Palestinian gunmen went on a rampage in the West Bank city of Ramallah on Wednesday night and Thursday morning, shooting at the office of the Palestinian Authority’s president and setting several restaurants and shops on fire, security officials said.

The identities of the gunmen were unclear, but several reports indicated they were Palestinian security officers and militants affiliated with the Fatah political movement — the party of the Palestinian Authority president, Mahmoud Abbas — who had been expelled from his headquarters.

[…]

A spokesman for the al-Aqsa Martyrs Brigades, the armed wing of Fatah, denied the men were members of the group, saying they were common thugs. Some government officials described the fracas as a street brawl among criminals.

In another example of the chaotic security situation in the West Bank, a group of angry Palestinians set fire to a Palestinian police checkpoint in the city of Tulkarm early Thursday after officers manning the post opened fire on a suspected stolen car, wounding at least one of its occupants.

[…]

Some Fatah activists said the clash in Ramallah erupted shortly before midnight when Palestinian security officials ordered about six militants and officials to turn in their weapons or leave the presidential compound, known as the muqata. The men, along with other militants wanted by Israel, had been given shelter there for several years by the former Palestinian leader, Yasser Arafat, who died in November.

Abbas, who was elected in January, also granted refuge to the men, but he has come under increasing pressure in recent weeks to make good on a pledge to begin disarming wanted militants.

Trouble should be expected when thugs are invited to the party.

As if a little gunplay in his direction wasn’t enough, Abbas now has to deal with an unexpected opening in his government after a key security official resigned in protest.

A Palestinian security chief has resigned, complaining to President Mahmoud Abbas that too little was being done to halt lawlessness in the West Bank and Gaza, officials say.

“I cannot work under these conditions,” Tawfik Tirawi, head of Palestinian Intelligence in the West Bank, wrote in a letter of resignation that he gave Abbas on Thursday after a meeting of security commanders at the president’s headquarters, the officials said.

Tirawi, the most senior security official to resign since Abbas’s election in January, quit a day after half a dozen gunmen from the ruling Fatah faction fired at the presidential Muqata compound in Ramallah and then rampaged through the city.

There was no immediate word if Abbas, who officials said gets along well with Tirawi, would ask him to reconsider.

The officials said Tirawi complained that other heads of Palestinian security organisations had not done enough to impose the rule of law Abbas had promised after taking over from the late Yasser Arafat.

Quagmire, anyone?

And the Laughter Fades Away

Filed under: — Gunner @ 1:44 pm

Who’s the best stand-up comedian alive today? Well, tragically, I now need a new answer.

Strangely enough, I just bought his Mitch All Together cd/dvd two weeks ago and have been introducing my coworkers to the off-beat entertainer.

Thanks for the laughs, Mitch.

Looking at U.S. Tanks in Urban Iraq

Filed under: — Gunner @ 12:44 am

Heading to bed, but wanting to point other dumbass tankers (DATs) towards this and this about the M1’s employment in urban Iraq (hat tip to Argghhh!). Check out the graphic on urban upgrades — intriguing stuff. It’s interesting that the external phone is a flashback to WWII and the exhaust barrier is a big duh, but there’s no change that the TC’s Ma Deuce is still externally loaded. Too big a mod for a quick change, I guess.

Very cool stuff, all considered.

When RadIslam and Catholicism Meet

Filed under: — Gunner @ 12:18 am

I’ll admit I chuckled.

3/30/2005

When MilBloggers Blog

Filed under: — Gunner @ 11:49 pm

The rhymes they will log.

See Eric, and here he will plug.
See how he plugs a harbor that’s Snugg.

On this very important matter concerning Terri Shiavo,
I haven’t blogged, staying well clear of the beehive-o.

[Fine, I ain’t the next coming of freakin’ Dr. Seuss, but I like Snugg Harbor‘s treatment of the importance of rule of law by GuyS. I may not be in complete agreement, but it’s closer to my beliefs than most on my blogroll have come in this fiasco. As for Eric, he put some good points here before sailing into Snugg Harbor]

I also would like y’all to take a look at another GuyS post, first referring to an excellent column about how our military always is declared to be wrong but ends up doing right and then to a vet commenter’s putting the notion to rhyme.

While I’m at it, thanks to Eric and Guy. Thank you for serving and thank you for blogging.

For the Harry Potter Fans

Filed under: — Gunner @ 11:15 pm

It looks like the sixth book, Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince, will be a publishing event worthy of the “mega” prefix.

You already know a new Harry Potter book is coming this summer. Here are some bells and whistles.

First, expect enough books out there to fill all of Hogwarts. Scholastic, Inc., the U.S. publisher of J.K. Rowling’s fantasy series, has announced a first printing of 10.8 million copies of “Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince,” the largest such printing for a hardcover release in this country.

The previous record holder was “Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix,” which came out in 2003 with a first run of 8.5 million.

“We have worked very closely with all of our accounts to anticipate the level of demand for Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince,”‘ Scholastic Children’s Books president Barbara Marcus said Wednesday in a statement. “Once again, we are hearing from our accounts that the pre-orders are phenomenal.”

“Half-Blood Prince” has topped the best seller lists of Amazon.com and Barnes & Noble.com ever since its release was announced in December.

To make sure that nobody could miss the book’s arrival, Scholastic also announced Wednesday a range of marketing gimmicks, including a Harry Potter crossword puzzle in The New York Times in July, promotional spots on the Times Square billboard, Google ads and video commercials on domestic flights of Continental Airlines and American Airlines.

Bookstores already are planning their traditional parties to mark the midnight, July 16 publication of “Half-Blood Prince,” the sixth of seven planned books. Worldwide sales have topped 250 million for the fantasy series, which has been translated into 62 languages.

As silly as it is, the girlfriend and I will probably find ourselves in a Barnes & Noble at midnight again. The HP5 release was a good wrap for us to an evening at the movies watching X2. Hey, she’s been a geek-in-the-making since I dragged her to The Fellowship of the Ring. Besides, she started reading the HP series before me. It’s not my fault.

My Apologies for Any Glitches

Filed under: — Gunner @ 8:32 pm

I’m getting pretty sick of fighting a comment spam attack. Please bear with me.

UPDATE: Attack over, 13 IP addresses denied, Target Centermass victorious.

Expect outages this weekend, as I anticipate a WordPress upgrade and will be investigating better defenses against comment spam.

3/29/2005

Amputees Begin Returning to Battlefield

Filed under: — Gunner @ 11:13 pm

I sit here, barely able to blog, overcome by awe.

Cpl. Jemel Daniels was a gunner on patrol with his unit in Iskandere, Iraq, when his Humvee hit a makeshift bomb on the side of the road.

“I shot out of the turret 30 feet into the air and fell into a ditch on the side of the road. My friends dragged me across the road. Just two of us actually got out and three passed away,” the corporal said.

Daniels works out hard without appearing to give much thought now to his injuries — an amputated left leg, a battered arm and a shattered right foot now stabilized by painful steel pins running through it. None of his wounds have deterred his future plans.

“I’m staying active duty,” he said.

Go read the rest. Seriously. Between tales of perserverence such as this and sacrifice such as that of Sergeant First Class Paul Smith, I can only shake my head at the valor of our troops, both on and off the battlefield.

Does the service bring out the best in a person, or is it that our best are drawn to the service? Perhaps a mixture of both, as honorable people see their fortitude strengthened by camaraderie and shared burden. Either way, we are truly blessed as a society to have such heroes among us.

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