This is such an amazingly moving, tragic, beautiful picture.
Home for the holidays … forever more. Thank you and sleep well.
[hat tip to Ace]
This is such an amazingly moving, tragic, beautiful picture.
Home for the holidays … forever more. Thank you and sleep well.
[hat tip to Ace]
Target Centermass will be hosting the next installment of the Life, Liberty, Property community‘s Carnival of Liberty. The carnival will be published on Dec. 27.
Entries can be submitted by sending an email to me, Gunner, at targetcentermass.net. An email subject of “Hey, carnival this!” is a guaranteed means of attention. Entries also can be submitted by any of the following means:
I look forward to hearing from y’all and reading your efforts. Merry Christmas, happy holidays and all that.
As the official filing deadline for Texas’ March primaries looms only days away, an interesting tale has come to light of an intriguing contact between a Republican campaign aide and a Democratic candidate’s wife.
A top aide to Republican gubernatorial candidate Carole Keeton Strayhorn called Democratic candidate Chris Bell’s wife last week and suggested that Bell drop out of the governor’s race and instead run for comptroller.
Strayhorn spokesman Mark Sanders said he told Alison Bell that “there would be support for him” if Chris Bell ran to succeed Strayhorn as comptroller. Sanders said that he and Alison Bell have known each other since they worked on a campaign together 15 years ago and that he wanted to advise his longtime friends that they could not win the governor’s race.
Sanders said that the call was not prompted by Strayhorn or any campaign donors and that he was not trying to clear the Democratic field for Strayhorn to switch parties.
“I made this call to Alison on my own out of a sense of concern for them and their family,” Sanders said. “And I did not make this call in reference in any way to the comptroller’s gubernatorial campaign.”
Chris Bell said that he will not run for comptroller and that there was no mention in his wife’s conversation with Sanders of Strayhorn running as a Democrat.
Although Sanders said that he did not call on Strayhorn’s behalf, the conversation follows a series of signs that Strayhorn’s effort to beat Gov. Rick Perry in next year’s Republican primary is struggling. Strayhorn has faced questions in recent weeks about whether she would abandon her GOP bid and instead run as an independent, and the campaign has not completely ruled out an independent run. Perry, meanwhile, has been piling up endorsements from conservative activists, trade associations and elected GOP officials.
Bell said it is not unusual for Sanders and his wife to talk.
“They did talk last week, and he mentioned the fact that if I were to exit the governor’s race and run for comptroller, he thought there would be some support for me from some unnamed individuals,” said Bell, a former congressman from Houston. “And obviously since that was the gist of the conversation, I didn’t take it the least bit seriously.”
Well, it’s a little under two weeks until the filing deadline and it seems that One Tough Grandma is have an identity crisis. With her poll number in the Republican primary in the sub-basement, it seems to me that Carol Four-Names is shopping around for a way to run for Governor.
First, as noted here at BOR she floated a poll about running as an Independent.
Now it seems as if she is trying clear the field in the Democratic Primary to run as a Democrat.
I disagree with McCullar’s thinking that Strayhorn is considering switching to the Democrat side — make that switching back to the Democrats, as she has already changed parties before (not an unusual occurrence over the last couple of decades in the always-conservative but once Democrat-dominated Texas). Were Strayhorn to switch back, Texans would shun her for the obvious opportunism. As it is, this ploy could sink her with conservatives; a candidate already carrying a Republican-in-name-only reputation should not have an aide trying to get a Democrat to run against a currently-unopposed Republican, Susan Combs, for comptroller.
No, I think the hope here was to thin the Democrat field but not for a party change. The current Democratic candidates, according to Politics1.com, are as follows:
Were either Bell or Gammage step aside, the Democratic candidate would essentially be settled, and that is precisely the hope of this maneuver. Texas is an open primary state; unlike some other states, voters do not have to declare a party affiliation upon registering and can vote in whichever party’s primary they choose. With Strayhorn campaign trending so bad, I feel that this ploy was meant to enable a high Democratic cross-over voting for the One Tough RINO, possibly Strayhorn’s best chance to knock off incumbent Perry.
… is generally considered to be a bad thing. Still, sometimes there’s a way to make the best of a bad situation. In the particular case I’m about to discuss, making the best would be a matter of improving the sling.
I present to you the Cooper Sling, a privately-supplied improvement for gunners on humvees and a collection of other military vehicles and a great improvement on the standard-issue, seat-belt-narrow nylon strap.
How did such an innovation come about? Mix one part each soldier-with-complaint and friend-who-can-help.
It started out as a simple gift made of leather for an Army friend with orders to Operation Iraqi Freedom. But in a flash, Kyle Greenwoodâ€™s Cooper Sling Gunner Seat has become a hot item with hundreds of Humvee crews in Iraq, Afganistan and stateside.
“The idea behind the new Cooper Sling Gunner Seat is simple,” says Greenwood, 34, owner of Black Mountain Industries in Bryan, Texas. “It helps make gunners in Humvees and other tactical vehicles more effective soldiers and improves their chances of coming home alive.”
Greenwood designed the Cooper Sling for a close friend, SGT William Hartmann. His invention replaces current standard issue nylon strap seats intended to help turret gunners maintain a combat-ready posture.
“However, those straps are as uncomfortable as they are unsafe,” says Greenwood. “Gunners say they cause severe pain in their lower backs and buttocks on long patrols and make their legs go to sleep. They also do nothing to prevent the two leading causes of injury and death to Humvee gunners in Iraqâ€”ejection from the vehicle due to the violent impact of mines and roadside explosives, and rollovers.”
Greenwood and Hartmann became close friends while selling office equipment in Bryan, Texas, several years ago.
“In late 2004, William was serving as a Humvee gunner and knew his unit would be sent to Iraq before long,” says Greenwood. “He called to ask if I knew anyone who could make something out of leather, since I have horses. Thatâ€™s when he told me about the problem Humvee gunners have trying to sit on the standard issue strapsâ€”if I could make something to improve on them. He also said, â€˜While youâ€™re at it, find some way to tie me into this thing so I donâ€™t get thrown out or crushed in a rollover.â€™
“I thought, â€˜Sure, glad to do it,â€™” recalls Greenwood. “Williamâ€™s a good friend and I have been looking for a way to help him while heâ€™s in Iraq defending our country.”
Greenwoodâ€™s first problem was attaching an improved gunner seat in the Humvee turret. Once he solved that, he set out to meet four basic requirements for the gunner seat: durability, comfort, easy to move and safer than the standard issue straps.
“Thatâ€™s how I came up with the original design of the Cooper Sling, with its 7×24-inch web seat made of saddle leather,” says Greenwood. “From there, I started thinking about a safety restraint to keep these guys from getting ejected or crushed.”
In November, Greenwood took the gunner seat heâ€™d designed for Hartmann to Fort Hood, Texas, to see how well it fit a Humvee gun turret.
“As I was demonstrating it to William a lot of G.I.s saw us and started asking questions,” recalls Greenwood. “Before I knew it, there was a crowd around the Humvee wanting to know where they could get a Cooper Sling. At that point I realized there was a need for this product that extended way beyond my friend.”
In the interest of full disclosure, that SGT Hartmann from the article is none other than my dear friend and former tank crewmate Billy-boy, whose Iraq deployment I’ve blogged about here, here and here.
I’m not getting a single shiny cent for conveying the news of the Cooper Sling. Bill, a.k.a. SGT William Hartmann, may or may not be in for a cut, but I do know that my dear friend (above on the far right from a 1993 Ft. Hood photo) is now home safe from Iraq and can stand up front with me (above on the far left, much younger then) at my wedding in May. If he believes in the value of the product, I will.
Besides, how could I resist an entrepreneurial endeavor meant to help American military personnel and whose site includes an Adopt-a-Gunner program?
OBVIOUS PLUG: Mark your calendars for Carnival of Liberty XXVI, to be hosted by yours truly next Tuesday, December 27. Yeah, I took the Christmas holiday burden and its probability of little traffic. Hey, sometimes ya gotta take one for the LLP team. Expect more plugs to follow.
Long overdue, I’ve finally thrown in some additions to my links section and my blogroll. I encourage the reader to visit all of these fine sites.
Links added are as follows:
Blogs added — some relatively new and some glaring oversights and all excellent in their own way — are as follows:
As always, I’m always open to suggestions for other blogs to consider.
UPDATE: While your checking out my new blogroll additions, be sure to look at this tank porn over at the Officers’ Club. Ever wonder what the spawn of a cross between a tank and a battleship would look like? Well, apparently the Russkies did during WWII. I’m surprised I hadn’t heard of this intriguing vehicle before now.
Tuesday, the twentieth of December, 2005 A.D. (or C.E. if you would prefer), has been absolutely craptastic.
Let’s just start with waking up, which is how I tend to start my days. Normally, though, I don’t wake up with a fever and what can only be described as an immovable wall of mucous in my sinuses. I notify work that I’ll be in late, if at all. Hours later, with fever now abating, I decide to head on in to the office. Well, that was the decision, anyway.
Flat freakin’ tire.
I could’ve just called it a day and given up, but that only would have been delaying dealing with the tire, and there’s no guarantee I’d be feeling better tomorrow. Maybe it was the slight fever, as I’m just as bad at procrastinating as the next man.
Did I mention it was 39 degrees out and raining? And let’s not forget the insidious biomass claiming squatters rights in my sinus cavity. Sure, I have covered parking, but there was no way I could maneuver the car completely under the shelter. I worked on the jack and tire in dry conditions but managed to get pretty darned damp while dealing with anything in the trunk (i.e. getting out the spare and jack, putting in the tire that had betrayed me).
Okay, the spare was now in place, and I inspected the flat. A screw. Well, screw you, too, screw! It was a pretty new tire and still under warranty, so I hopped in and drove to the nearest franchise of the tire store where I’d purchased it. No problem, they said. No charge, they said. Just leave the tire overnight, they said. What?!! There’s a few things I expect to find at place of business specializing in the area of automobile tires, things such as tires, wheels and patches. Patches? They apparently don’t need no stinkin’ patches. In an astounding failure of inventory control, this wondrous facility was completely out of patches. Quick thinkers that they were, they had ordered some from another outlet when they realized they had absolutely zero in stock. Delivery was expected in under two hours; as it was now around two in the afternoon, I told them to fix it as soon as possible and then went to get some lunch, pick up some means of self-medicating and run a quick Christmas-related errand in the neighborhood.
Eventually I checked back and was told my tire was ready. Luckily they were a little more efficient in actually putting it on the car and I was able to stroll into the office as the daily exodus home was beginning for most. Did I say stroll? Struggle would be more accurate as, by this time, I had realized that I had apparently strained something in my back while dealing with the flat. Stupid tiny-ass, manufacturer-supplied tire iron.
So now I sit, slightly feverish with an aching back and what may be a new form of life dwelling in my sinuses.
How was your day?
Mohammed Ali Hamadi, a convicted terrorist with American blood on his hands and long wanted by the U.S., sat for years in a German prison. Four days ago, Germany quietly set him free.
German authorities have paroled Mohammed Ali Hamadi after he served 19 years of a life sentence for the 1985 hijacking of a TWA jetliner and the killing of a US Navy diver.
Hamadi has been released from prison and has left Germany, said Doris Moeller-Scheu, a spokeswoman for the Frankfurt prosecutorâ€™s office. She said she did not know his destination.
She said Hamadiâ€™s case came up for a regular legally mandated review by a parole court and he was released after an expert assessment and a hearing.
TWA flight 847 from Athens to Rome was hijacked to Beirut, where the hijackers shot US Navy diver Robert Dean Stethem, 23, of Waldorf, Maryland, and dumped his body on the tarmac.
A spokesman for the Foreign Ministry, Martin Jaeger, said there was no connection between his release and that of Susanne Osthoff, a German woman released at the weekend after spending more than three weeks as a hostage in Iraq.
Hmmm … tit for tat?
Stethem, 23, was beaten and shot on June 15, 1985, while the plane was in Beirut. He was the only casualty during the hijacking ordeal, in which 39 Americans were held hostage for 17 days. He received the Bronze Star and Purple Heart decorations, and a US Navy guided missile destroyer is named in his honour.
Hamadi was arrested at Frankfurt Airport on January 13, 1987, when customs officials discovered liquid explosives in his luggage.
Germany insisted on trying Hamadi, refusing to hand him over to the U.S. in opposition to the American death penalty.
Well, ain’t that great. We don’t want to be overly harsh to killers and terrorists. Meanwhile, Hamadi has already returned to Lebanon and is in contact with the terrorists of Hezbollah.
In a further step toward returning to the radicalism of their 1979 revolution, the leaders of Iran have made a very dumb move.
The Iranian president, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, has banned western music from state radio and TV stations, it was announced today.
In a move reminiscent of the 1979 Islamic revolution, when popular music was outlawed, Mr Ahmadinejad – the head of the Supreme Cultural Revolutionary Council – ordered the implementation of a ruling prohibiting all forms of western music.
It means music including classical compositions will be barred from public service broadcast outlets, local media said. “Blocking indecent and western music from the Islamic Republic of Iran Broadcasting is required,” a statement on the council’s website said.
The move will silence the hip-hop that can frequently be heard blaring from car radios in Tehran’s streets.
It means music including Rush, by Eric Clapton, and Hotel California, by the Eagles, both of which regularly accompany Iranian broadcasts, will be outlawed.
Sending popular music underground will only further chafe large portions of the Iranian population already restless. As they race towards becoming a nuclear power, the radical Iranian rulers apparently weren’t satisfied with just stirring the international pot. Now, they’ve decided to kick some stones at home.
Make no mistake, the Islamist movement is not just about the destruction of Israel, but also the demise of Western culture and civilization. Unfortunately, the Iranian tyrants may find the many of their own populace want, at least to some degree, Western culture.
So many stories, so little time on my accursed dial-up connection.
A Canadian terror suspect confessed to buying guns and rocket launchers for al-Qaida to use against U.S. forces in Afghanistan, according to a court filing Monday.
In an affidavit submitted to the Superior Court of Justice in Toronto, where Abdullah Khadr appeared at a preliminary hearing, Royal Canadian Mounted Police Sgt. Konrad Shourie said Khadr admitted ties to senior al-Qaida members and confessed to buying guns and rocket launchers for them in Afghanistan or Pakistan. Khadr also admitted to a role in an unspecified plot to assassinate Pakistan’s prime minister, Shourie wrote.
Khadr, 24, who entered no plea at the hearing, faces extradition to the United States on charges of possessing, and conspiracy to possess, a destructive device in furtherance of a crime of violence, according to the U.S. attorney’s office in Boston, where the charges were filed. He faces a maximum of life in prison if convicted.
Khadr was arrested Saturday. A bail hearing could come as soon as Wednesday.
He is alleged to have bought AK-47 and mortar rounds, rocket-propelled grenades and containers of mine components for al-Qaida. The weapons purchases were made at the request of his father, Ahmed Said Khadr, an Egyptian-born Canadian who was killed in 2003 when a Pakistani Cobra helicopter fired on a house where he was staying with senior al-Qaida operatives, authorities said.
Abdullah Khadr was born in Canada in 1981 and settled with his family in Pakistan in 1997.
The U.S. attorney in Boston said he received military training at a camp in Afghanistan for four months in the mid-1990s. Pakistani intelligence officers picked him up in a car in Islamabad on Oct. 12, 2004, and he was returned to Canada in early December.
Some may ask Abdullah why he deals with terrorists. Well, it’s a family tradition.
All three of Khadr’s brothers have been detained at various times and linked to terrorism.
One brother, 19-year-old Omar Khadr, is the only Canadian detainee at the U.S. camp for terror suspects at Guantanamo Bay. He faces trial on charges of murder and attempted murder for allegedly throwing a grenade that killed a U.S. army medic.
Spanish police arrested early Monday 15 people suspected of recruiting fighters for Iraqi terrorist groups, the Interior Ministry said in a statement.
The suspects, arrested in coordinated police raids in several provinces across Spain, were accused of belonging to a group which recruit, train and send fighters for Iraq to fuel the insurgency.
Police also seized a great amount of documents, fake credentials, cash and components for explosive devices in the raids.
According to the statement, eight of the 15 are Moroccans, and the seven others include an Iraqi, a Saudi Arabian, an Egyptian, a Belarussian, a French, a Spaniard and a Ghanaian.
The group, led by a 25-year-old Iraqi who had close contact with al-Qaida’s leader in Iraq, Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, was well-organized, the statement said.
Police intelligence showed that the suspects themselves had also been engaged in terrorist activities in Iraq and other Islamic countries, but there was no sign they had any plans to launch terrorist attacks in Spain.
This is not a new thing, as Spain has earlier claimed to have cut terrorist pipelines to Iraq. After an earlier Spanish round-up, I blogged the following:
I would like to point out, however, that the success probably is not nearly grand as it sounds â€” the country is merely treating symptoms of the Islamist movement within its borders, having already run away from the attempt in Iraq to provide an alternative to the Arab world, a possible last ditch to salvage a huge chunk of the worldâ€™s population from falling hopelessly into sheer barbarism and madness.
This kind of success, while dramatic and helpful, is fleeting. Al Queda will find other ways to move its jihadists, much as the human nervous system can sometimes find alternate routes when nerve pathways are severed. Unfortunately for Spain and the rest of Europe, other paths already exist and this one will be replaced, thus making it obvious that simply treating local symptoms of radical Islam while ignoring the global disease is not enough.
The Spanish have yet to heed my warning.
A barabaric video believed to show the killing of Ronald Schulz, an American security contractor kidnapped in Iraq two weeks ago, was released on the internet yesterday.
It depicts a man with his hands handcuffed behind his back and blindfolded by an Arab headdress kneeling in an empty, open area of dirt.
A gunman standing two yards behind him then shoots him in the back of the head, toppling the figure to the ground, before his body is then shot repeatedly.
Although the victim cannot be identified, any hope that the former US marine may still be alive appears extinguished by a picture of him alive that appears on a split screen as the footage is aired. His identity card is shown briefly.
The Islamic Army in Iraq claimed responsibility for his death.
For those still ignorant of the bloody, cowardly nature of our enemy, the Jawa Report is always a good place to find such videos. As for me, I don’t need them and see no need to host them. Those who are blind will still refuse to see and continue to shriek “Abu Ghraib” as they try to demonize any allegation of atrocities thrown against American soldiers.
About 24 top former officials in Saddam Hussein’s regime, including a biological weapons expert known as “Dr. Germ,” have been released from jail, while a militant group released a video Monday of what it said was the killing of an American hostage.
An Iraqi lawyer said the 24 or 25 officials from Saddam’s government were released from jail without charges, and some have already left the country.
“The release was an American-Iraqi decision and in line with an Iraqi government ruling made in December 2004, but hasn’t been enforced until after the elections in an attempt to ease the political pressure in Iraq,” said the lawyer, Badee Izzat Aref.
Among them were Rihab Taha, a British-educated biological weapons expert, who was known as “Dr. Germ” for her role in making bio-weapons in the 1980s, and Huda Salih Mahdi Ammash, known as “Mrs. Anthrax,” a former top Baath Party official and biotech researcher, Aref said.
“Because of security reasons, some of them want to leave the country,” he said. He declined to elaborate, but noted “some have already left Iraq today.”
Lt. Col. Barry Johnson, a U.S. military spokesman in Baghdad, would say only that eight individuals formerly designated as high-value detainees were released Saturday after a board process found they were no longer a security threat and no charges would be filed against them.
It may take years to correctly judge the wisdom of these releases. Because of that, I’ll refrain.
Europe’s top diplomat warned Sunday the European Union might cut off aid to the Palestinian Authority if Hamas militants win next month’s parliamentary election, reflecting international alarm over the Islamic group’s strong showing in West Bank local voting.
Javier Solana, the EU’s foreign policy chief, said during a tour of the region that European taxpayers would have a hard time supporting the Palestinian government if it included a party that supports violence and advocates Israel’s destruction.
The U.S. House of Representatives approved a similar declaration Friday. The Palestinian Authority counts on foreign aid for half its budget.
The main challenge facing the Palestinian Authority now is the Jan. 25 election for parliament, where Hamas is fielding legislative candidates for the first time to challenge Fatah, which has ruled Palestinian politics for decades.
Last week, the younger generation of Fatah leaders split from the party and formed their own group, Future, leaving Palestinian leader Mahmoud Abbas and other Fatah old-timers with a candidate list filled with Fatah veterans that many Palestinians consider corrupt.
The split was expected to weaken Fatah just as Hamas got a large boost its string of victories last week in West Bank local elections.
Hey, why foot the medical bills when the lunatics are running the asylum? Still, I have little faith in Europe to actually enforce such a strong stance at this time.
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