Too Close for Comfort

They might be one of the most hated insects in the world but as these extraordinary images show, even wasps can look good – if you capture them with the right lighting.

These remarkable pictures show the insects in a completely different way, revealing a more tranquil and beautiful side to the humble wasp.

Photographer, Irina Kozorog, enticed the insects using sweet foods such as raspberries after setting up her macro photography equipment in her garden.

Another creature, caught in a split-second, heads for a drink from a suspended drop of waterAnother creature, caught in a split-second, heads for a drink from a suspended drop of water
Join the party! Wasps hold a gathering on top of a berry, and were captured by macro-photography
 
Join the party! Wasps hold a gathering on top of a berry, and were captured by macro-photography
Glorious colour: A wasp tackles another bead of water as it explores Irina's garden in Moscow, RussiaGlorious color: A wasp tackles another bead of water as it explores Irina’s garden in Moscow, Russia
Photographer, Irina Kozorog, enticed the insects using sweet foods such as raspberries after setting up her macro photography equipment in her gardenPhotographer, Irina Kozorog, enticed the insects using sweet foods such as raspberries after setting up her macro photography equipment in her garden

The 35-year-old from Moscow, who was stung three times in the process, waited patiently for the wasps to succumb to her tasty treats before snapping away.

Strangely, the mother-of-two admitted she didn’t even like wasps before taking these pictures.

She said: “I usually prefer to photograph ants but this year I decided to try and make friends with the wasps too.

“The wasps are actually much smarter than I thought they were.

“I had to wait up to half-an-hour each time for one to come over but it was well worth the wait.’

The remarkable pictures show the pesky insects in a more tranquil light as they flit from flower to flowerThe remarkable pictures show the pesky insects in a more tranquil light as they flit from flower to flower
Hang on! A wasp grabs onto a single stalk of grass to grab a treat from the bud at the topHang on! A wasp grabs onto a single stalk of grass to grab a treat from the bud at the top

“As with all other animals, wasps like you to talk to them. They like a calm voice and don’t like quick movements.

“Their behavior seemed to depend on the weather. The better the weather, the friendlier the wasps were.

“While I was taking these pictures I was stung three times but it was always my fault. They would never sting without a reason.

“I just kept in mind that I was on their territory and I was a guest there.”

Life through a lens: Irina Kozorog with her set-up, including a DSLR camera and a ring flashLife through a lens: Irina Kozorog with her set-up, including a DSLR camera and a ring flash
The wasps at play
Lining up the shot: Irina sometimes had to wait half an hour to get the perfect picture, making a stage on where the wasps could play
 Lining up the shot: Irina sometimes had to wait half an hour to get the perfect picture, making a stage on where the wasps could play
Wasp's eye view: A wasp flies directly past the camera, giving us a little insight of the world it lives inWasp’s eye view: A wasp flies directly past the camera, giving us a little insight of the world it lives in
A wasp sucks at a bud on top of a single blade of grass, hovering delicately in placeA wasp sucks at a bud on top of a single blade of grass, hovering delicately in place
Choose a petal: To the wasps, the world is a big, big place, with every flower a brand new adventure
Buzzy work: Irina enticed the insects using sweet foods such as raspberries after setting up her macro photography equipment in her gardenIrina enticed the insects using sweet foods such as raspberries after setting up her macro photography equipment in her gardenAttribution: Eddie Wrenn

Our Hundred Years’ War

by: John Myers

with a few comments thrown in by the Common Constitutionalist [ ]

The race for the Presidency has been interesting, not because of what either GOP nominee Mitt Romney or President Barack Obama has said, but because of what has been ignored.

The most notable taboo topic is the Nation’s continued involvement in Afghanistan as well as the progressive deterioration of American strategic goals for the Mideast.

Neither candidate has been candid on a geopolitical blunder in Afghanistan that continues to rack up hundreds of billions of dollars in additional debt and potentially thousands of American deaths.

Phyllis Bennis, a fellow at the Institute for Policy Studies and author of Ending the US War in Afghanistan: A Primer, contends that neither candidate has a way for America to extricate itself from Afghanistan. [ I do. Like every superpower before, admit it is a fools errand and leave ]

In an interview1, Bennis said:

Candidate Obama has now stopped talking about Afghanistan this time around. Candidate Romney has said that Obama is not tough enough, but what he has called for has not been different in any substantive way. He has said that we should keep troops there, not pull out right away. President Obama is not pulling out right away, so there’s very little substantive difference.

What is inescapable is that this month marks the beginning of the 12th year of war in Afghanistan; it is America’s longest war. What has been ignored by American strategists is that Afghanistan is a desolate, Stone Age nation that refuses to be civilized and has successfully resisted past and present superpowers, a group that includes not only the United States but also the British Empire and the Soviet Union.

Washington has ignored this historical truth and has so far invested nearly over a half a trillion dollars in fighting a losing struggle that has cost us more than 2,000 dead. [ Not so fun fact: 1) Cost of Afghan war in 12 years is over $580 billion, but over $360 billion has been spent in just 3-1/2 years under Obama. 2) More than 2,000 U.S. soldiers killed; 69% killed in just 3-1/2 years on Obama’s watch ]

Obama has promised to end the U.S. combat role in Afghanistan by December 2014, although the United States has pledged to continue some undefined military and economic support well beyond that date. How far the United States will offer support beyond that date is open to speculation. Given the growing conflict with millions of radical followers of Islam, it doesn’t seem impossible that right now America has a future President who is in college and who, decades from now, will be deciding his strategies to defend America from an ever-expanding Muslim mob. [ Myers is right and that is sad. The way I see it, we either stay and finish the job, which can’t be done, or pack up everyone and everything and leave. So I guess that’s really only one choice ]

Afghan war strategists in the Obama Administration agree there is little chance of negotiations with the Taliban that would bring a political settlement to the war.

The question is why would the Taliban want to negotiate with the United States? Some 12 years into this war, American soldiers on patrol can’t determine who the biggest threat is: the enemy fighters in the countryside or their Afghan allies who once protected their backs but have increasingly been taking aim at them. [ The real question is, why would we think we could negotiate with them? What would we negotiate? That they would be so kind as to kill us last? ]

Gareth Porter, a historian and investigative journalist on U.S. foreign and military policy, said: “The Taliban have been able to carry out spectacular attacks on U.S. bases that have gotten much farther and done much more damage than anything the Vietcong and North Vietnamese were ever able to do during the Vietnam War.” [ Of course they have, considering how pitifully weak and restrictive our rules of engagement are ]

In an interview with The Guardian newspaper2, NATO Secretary General Anders Fogh Rasmussen admitted the killings of almost 50 allied troops this year by Afghan security forces has damaged the relationship between the international forces and the Afghan police and military. [ Damaged our relationship? Screw our relationship. Our all-volunteer heros are being murdered ]

The Much Bigger War

Unspoken by both Presidential candidates is how America can win the war far beyond Afghanistan, a war without borders against elusive enemies with unspecific goals united only in their hatred of the United States. [ They have very specific goals; kill all of us ]

“The enemies we face in the future will look a lot like al Qaeda: transnational, globalized, locally franchised, extensively outsourced–but tied together through a powerful identity that leaps frontiers and continents,” wrote Mark Steyn in America Alone: The End of the World as We Know It.

“All dominant powers are hated–Britain was, and Rome–but they’re usually hated for the right reasons. America is hated for every reason. The fanatical Muslims despise America because it’s all lap-dancing and gay porn; the secular Europeans despise America because it’s all born-again Christians hung up on abortion; the anti-Semites despise America because it’s controlled by Jews. Too Jewish, too Christian, too godless, America is George Orwell’s Room 101: whatever your bugbear you will find it therein; whatever you’re against, America is the prime example of it.” [ As usual, Steyn is dead-on right ]

We no longer face a monolithic enemy like communism. What we do face is an enemy that will persist in its extremism and its hatred of the United States long after the upcoming occupant leaves the Oval Office.

And yet our policymakers continue to be like old generals and persist with fighting the last war. That war was won by outspending the enemy. Eventually, the Soviet Union imploded because that empire simply could not afford the cost of the Cold War. Today, America’s strategists are spending even more money on everything from nuclear aircraft battle groups to ultra-sophisticated fighter-interceptors like the Raptor F-22 which costs $420 million per plane.

Expenditures on these types of weapons put the Pentagon’s budget at $670 billion this year, about 18 percent of total Federal spending. The dollar amount has more than doubled since 2001 when the United States began its wars against Islamic extremists. It is hard for me to see how jet inceptors or nuclear submarines can effectively combat the growing radical contingent within Islam which continues on its jihad. [ They can’t, but Jihadists won’t always be the only threat to America. As long as there are communist countries we will need to also retain those convential forces ]

From Yemen to Libya, revolt rolls forward. Not long ago, nations like Egypt were our vanguards, influencing at least some stability on the region. In the past three years, one regime after another has been toppled, and there is growing radicalization inside the governments of almost each of these former allies. That could, as Steyn suggests, leave America alone. [ I might add, as bad as these regimes were, their successors are worse, and virtually all have been toppled with the help of our idiot government. We have absolutely no business getting involved in any of these overthrows. We have no stragetic or national interest there ]

When I was a kid, there was a joke about the IQ test for dummies. One of the questions was: Who is buried in Grant’s Tomb? Another was: How long did the Hundred Years’ War last? This second question isn’t so easy because it turned out to be a series of conflicts between England and France that lasted from 1337 to 1453.

That is trivia. But there is another question we should all be asking: How long will America’s war with Islam last? Tragically, we are into the second decade of this conflict and there is no end in sight.

End of Israel?

Rupert Murdoch Predicts ‘Nightmare for Israel if Obama Wins,‘ Accuses White House of ’Still Lying About Benghazi’

from:  at The Blaze

News Corp. CEO Rupert Murdoch went on a bit of a Twitter tear Saturday morning, predicting a “nightmare for Israel if Obama wins” re-election and accusing the White House of “still lying about Benghazi.”

The media mogul — whose company owns Fox News, the Wall Street Journal, the New York Post and others — said Vice President Joe Biden “threw [the] CIA under the bus“ and ”now [White House] throws State [Department]!” He also came down on Mitt Romney, saying the Republican presidential nominee needs to ignore personal attacks at the next debate and focus on his jobs plan:

Rupert Murdoch Predicts Nightmare for Israel if Obama Wins, Accuses White House of Still Lying About Benghazi

Image source: Twitter

Rupert Murdoch Predicts Nightmare for Israel if Obama Wins, Accuses White House of Still Lying About Benghazi

Image source: Twitter

Rupert Murdoch Predicts Nightmare for Israel if Obama Wins, Accuses White House of Still Lying About Benghazi

Image source: Twitter

Murdoch has been fairly free with his Twitter advice for Romney in the past: Last month he said he needed to “stop fearing [the] far right” and take more of a big tent approach to win the election. During the summer, he wondered, “when is Romney going to look like a challenger?” He subsequently defended himself from an apparent barrage of negative tweets from Romney supporters, saying, “of course I want him to win, save us from socialism, etc.”

As Mediaite noted, when a Murdoch-type figure in the media espouses such clear-cut political beliefs so publicly, “the question arises as to whether these opinions will eventually trickle down through their outlets.”

Post Debate

by: the Common Constitutionalist

At the start of the Vice Presidential debate, I thought Joe Bidens strategy might be a winner, but his condescension soon started to grate on me. The constant interruption of Paul Ryan was deplorable.

In fact, Biden interrupted Ryan 82 times during the 40 minutes Ryan was able to speak. That’s an interruption approximately every 30 seconds. Way to do your job Martha.

As Rush says, the Joe Biden you saw last night, was the real Joe Biden and the real modern-day democrat party. Mean, arrogant and patronizing.

I don’t know how Ryan felt, but I was worn out, watching Old Uncle Joe (not Stalin; Biden) cackling, grinning, wagging his finger and lecturing me.

I always thought the media, and the left in general, were disgusted by angry old white men. Yet, watching and listening to the main stream and lefty cable shows, post-debate, one would think the democrats were, in fact, the party of angry old white guys.

When discussing Iran’s nuclear capabilities, Ryan repeatedly stressed that they (Iran) had four additional years to develop fissionable materials and thus develop a nuclear weapon.

Biden’s retort was to agree, that Iran has more fissionable material but forcefully stated, “that we have no need to fear because they don’t a weapon to put it in.”

Well, that sure is good news Joe. And, of course, they’ll never find anyone willing to sell them one.

Biden turned to the camera and stated, “ Folks, we’re going to knowwwwww if Iran acquires a weapon.” “WE’LL KNOW!”

Really Joe; you’ll know? Just like you knew that the Benghazi attack was terrorism and not due to a video?

How Joe, will you find out they have a weapon? Will you receive that information from your intelligence community? You know, the one you threw under the bus, when you said they gave you the wrong info regarding Benghazi, and were unable to get you the correct intelligence for a two solid weeks. Is that where you will get the information regarding Iran’s bomb?

I’m not in the intelligence community, but even I could let this administration know two weeks after Iran gets a nuclear weapon.

It will be fairly evidently from the giant crater and nuclear fallout that was Israel.

Also, I would add that terrorists don’t need missiles. All they need are suitcases or backpacks and several brainwashed idiots willing to blow themselves for Allah.

As for the rest of the debate, it was more of the same; Old Joe, smiling, cackling and lying about all of the administrations domestic positions. In between, was Joe’s constant attempt at belittling Paul Ryan. By the close of the debate it was clear that Biden looked the village idiot.

One of the barometers of how well Old Joe did is how much time the mainstream media will continue to spend on breaking the debate down.

If he pulled off a clear and concise victory, the press will be discussing his brilliance up until the second the second presidential debate begins next week.

But the AP (Associated Press) , which, for all intent and purpose, is the media arm of the White House, is already speaking of the next Presidential debate. That debate is still a week away. That tells me they don’t want to discuss Old Joe’s performance. Evidently, the sooner they can put it behind them, the better.

Reports have also surfaced that the debate “Moderator” Martha Raddatz actually visited Old Uncle Joe Biden in the White House sometime prior to the debate. I’m sure it was to just stop by and say howdy and not to discuss the questions she would ask during the debate.

As it turns out Martha did Paul Ryan a huge favor by siding with Old Joe. Martha unwittingly preformed a valuable service to the viewing public by allowing all to see Old Uncle Joe, as he really is, an angry, insipid and shrill liberal.

The old saying is, if someone insists on making a fool of themselves, just get out their way and let them.

Ryan, I thought, may have been a little too polite for my taste, but it worked for him. The consensus opinion is that Paul Ryan won and Joe Biden surely lost, both the debate and his mind.

Mystery Solved

The mighty drone of 600 bombers filled the night air as they flew the length of eastern England. As planes thundered overhead, people peeped through their blackout curtains to see if they could  glimpse what was then one of the largest bombing forces ever assembled.

On board the Lancasters, Stirlings, Halifaxes and Wellingtons were more than 4,000 airmen — and all knew they stood a very  good chance of not returning to base the following morning.

Among that awesome mass of metal pounding  through the dark sky was a Lancaster bomber with the marking  ED427.

 
Fallen hero: Pilot F O Alec Bone
Fallen hero: Sergeant Norman Foster
Fallen heroes: Respected Flying Officer Alec Bone, upper,  piloted the plane which had seven crew members including flight engineer  Sergeant Norman Foster, lower
 
Target: The men in the Lancaster Bomber were attacking factories in the Czech brewing town Pilsen

Target: The men in the Lancaster Bomber were attacking  factories in the Czech brewing town Pilsen

As part of 49 Squadron, the bomber and its  seven crew had taken off at precisely 21.14 on the evening of April 16, 1943,  from Fiskerton airfield five miles east of Lincoln. It was the second time the  plane’s crew had flown together, and they were hoping this raid would go as  successfully as their bombing of Stuttgart two nights before.

The Lancaster was piloted by Flying Officer  Alexander ‘Alec’ Bone, who, at 31, was by far the oldest and most experienced of  the crew.

An instructor who had taught many Battle of Britain pilots to fly, Bone was one of the most respected and able pilots in all of Bomber Command. A champion fencer, tall and charming, Bone was what we would  today call an alpha male.

The rest of the seven-strong crew — flight  engineer Norman Foster, navigator Cyril Yelland, wireless operator Raymond  White, bomb aimer Raymond Rooney, air gunner Ronald Cope and air gunner Bruce  Watt were aged 19 to 23, and all looked up to Bone.

One of six brothers, his father described him  as ‘the pick of the bunch’, and he was well qualified to command of a bomber  crew.

As he sat at the controls, Bone’s mind might  well have wandered temporarily from the mission to his own recent tragedy. Just  four months earlier, he had lost his wife, Menna, 22, to tuberculosis. He had  received the news of her illness when stationed in Canada, but by the time he  had returned, Menna was already dead and buried.

 
 
On board: Sergeant Ronald Cope
Sergeant Cyril Yelland
On board: Air gunner Sergeant Ronald Cope, pictured  upper, and navigator Sergeant Cyril Yelland, lower

The planes that night had two targets. Fewer  than half the aircraft were heading for various factories in and around Mannheim  some 40 miles south of Frankfurt. Bone’s Lancaster, however, was part of the  larger element heading more than 200 miles further east to the Czech brewing  town of Pilsen, where they were to attack the massive Skoda works that produced  armaments for the Nazis.

After a flight of nearly 800 miles, in which Bone successfully outwitted night fighters and dodged numerous flak batteries,  ED427 safely arrived over what he presumed was the target at around 1.30am on April 17.

Below was a hellish inferno, and Bone would  have felt confident he was dropping his two 1,000lb bombs and one 4,000lb ‘Cookie’ bomb — made of a thin steel casing to carry more explosives, and  devastating in its impact — in the right place.

However, unknown to him, the leading Pathfinder aircraft had dropped their flares which indicated the target in the wrong place: they fell on the harmless village of Dobrany five miles to the south-west of Pilsen.

To make matters more tragic, a nearby psychiatric hospital had been mistaken for the Skoda works, and it took the  brunt of the raid. According to a German casualty report, some 300 patients were killed, and some 1,000 German soldiers and 250 civilians were killed or wounded.

Unfortunately for the Allies, the Skoda works were untouched, and the entire raid — called Operation Frothblower in  recognition of Pilsen’s brewing history — was one of Bomber Command’s biggest  failures.

 
The men were part of a 600 strong squadron of RAF Lancaster bombers - at that time, one of the largest bombing forces ever assembled

The men were part of a 600 strong squadron of RAF  bombers – at that time, one of the largest bombing forces ever assembled
 
Air gunner Bruce Watt
Wireless operator Raymond Charles White, aged 21
Lost: Air gunner Bruce Watt, upper, and Wireless operator  Raymond Charles White, aged 21, lower

This would of course have been unknown to Bone and his crew, who had dropped their payload and were now bearing west for the five-hour flight home.

They were looking forward to breakfast and some sleep, as well as Easter the following weekend. However,  the men of ED427 were never to enjoy another breakfast.

At some point during the flight something went badly wrong, and the Lancaster failed to return. In  the squadron’s operations records book, the bald statement was simply typed: ‘Missing without trace.’

Until last week, nearly 70 years after the raid, the fate of ED427 was still a mystery. But now, thanks to an archaeological excavation in Germany, the truth of what happened can finally be told.

The story that emerges from the German soil is a heart-wrenching tale not only of tragedy, but of incompetence and an unforgiveable bureaucratic slip-up which kept the families of the crew in the dark for decades.

A week after the raid, Wing Commander Johnson of 49 Squadron wrote to Bone’s mother, telling her ‘so far we have received no news of any kind, but you can be sure that as soon as any is received, it will be passed to you immediately’.

No concrete news was ever to come. According  to Bone’s brother, Arthur ‘Alf’ Bone, 91, their mother suspected the worst. ‘I  think she knew he had gone in her mind,’ he says, ‘and I think I did,  too.’

Pieces of history: The team sorted the fragments they found into boxes at the site

Pieces of history: Sixty-nine years after their burning  plane plunged to the ground after being shot by German anti-aircraft fire the  remains of most of the Lancaster bomber crewmen have been recovered.The team  sorted the fragments they found into boxes at the site
 
Burnt out: The remains of a scorched parachute

Burnt out: The remains of a scorched parachute. The site  was discovered by a British military historian and a team of German  archaeologists who spent hours digging a muddy field looking for the RAF crew  after an eye-witness who saw the plane crash guided them to the precise  spot.
Damage: The crater made by the impact of the engineDamage: The crater made by the impact of the engine. A  Rolls Royce engine and landing gear of the World War Two aircraft was found  followed by ‘hundreds’ of fragments of human bones in what would have been the  cockpit

Alf was an RAF pilot as well, and heard  about his brother when he was about to take a Wellington up in a  practice  flight. A telegram was delivered to the cockpit a few minutes  before take off. ‘For the first time, I felt a panic attack,’ Alf  recalls. ‘Alec was so dear to  me. Normally I liked the smell of the  inside of a Wellington, but on that  occasion I just smelled death.’

Alf  idolized Alec. The last time he saw him was in Canada in 1941. ‘I was stationed  at an airfield called Swift’s Current,’ Alf says. ‘One day Alec flew his  two-seater Harvard 120 miles from Moosejaw to pay me a surprise visit.’ Alec told Alf to put on a parachute, and took his brother up in the training  aircraft. ‘We did lots of acrobatics,’ Alf remembers. ‘We dived, climbed, looped  the loop — you name it. I loved it.’

In October 1943, the family received a letter  informing them the Air Council had determined that ‘they must regretfully  conclude that he has lost his life’, and that Alec’s death was presumed to have  occurred on April 17.

For the rest of her life, Alec’s mother lived  in what Alf described as ‘a vacuum’, in which she was never to know what had  happened to her son. Officials of every stripe simply told the families of the crew they had no idea what had happened to ED427.

However, it now emerges the RAF did know what  had happened to the plane and the bodies of its crew but, disgracefully, the families were never told. In October 1946, Squadron-Leader Philip  Laughton-Bramley of the RAF’s Missing Research and Enquiry Unit was investigating the fates of crashed aircraft in the Mannheim area.

Fatal flight: A graphic of the site in Laumersheim, Germany, where the Lancaster crashed 69 years ago

Fatal flight: A graphic of the site in Laumersheim,  Germany, where the Lancaster crashed 69 years ago
 
Birds eye view: An aerial Luftwaffe picture showing the crash site at Laumersheim, GermanyBirds eye view: An aerial Luftwaffe picture showing the  crash site at Laumersheim, Germany

His research took him to the village of  Laumersheim, 14 miles west of Mannheim, where a former police constable told him that on April 16-17 a ‘four-engined aircraft crashed in flames  200 yards  east of the village and exploded on contact with the ground’.

According to the German, the trunk of one body was  found, along with the remains of some six or seven men. The body parts were  removed, but nobody could remember where they had been taken. Laughton-Bramley was persistent, and continued to hunt.

Eventually, he found two graves in the military section of the Mannheim cemetery, whose inscriptions stated that they  contained the bodies of ‘Unknown British flyers shot down in  Laumersheim  17.4.43’, and who were buried on 24 April — the same day Wing Commander Johnson  had written to Mrs Bone.

One can only imagine the terrifying last  moments of ED427. It was almost certainly hit by the flak battery at Frankenthal, five miles from the  crash site. Flying at around 200 miles per  hour, and at a height of  perhaps 10,000 feet, it may well have taken over two minutes to have plummeted to the ground.

Alec Bone, if he had survived the impact of  the flak, would have used all  his considerable skill to try to keep the plane  steady enough to allow the crew to bail out. If anybody could have done it,  Bone could. But clearly the flak battery had done its work too well. Death  would have been instantaneous as the plane ploughed five metres deep into the  soft  earth.

Volunteers dig within the crater, exhuming the fateful planes remains

Excavation: Volunteers dig within the crater, exhuming  the fateful planes remains. The team dug five metres deep in a 100 square metre  area and found sections of the fuselage, cockpit, landing gear, a tyre, a burnt  parachute, tools and ammunition
Commemoration: A minutes silence was held in respect by the volunteers. Members of the Bundeswehr reserve, part of the German army, are in uniform

Commemoration: A minutes silence was held in respect by  the volunteers. Members of the Bundeswehr reserve, part of the German army, are  in uniform
 
It is thought the remains of the men will be buried in the same coffin in a single grave at a Commonwealth War Graves Cemetery in Germany.

Respect: A poppy memorial was erected as a mark of  remembrance. It is thought the remains of the men will be buried in the same  coffin in a single grave at a Commonwealth War Graves Cemetery in Germany

On May 15, 1947, Laughton-Bramley filed his  report to the Air Ministry in London, in  which he concluded that the bodies  were the crew of ED427, and that the  plane had been shot down by flak. For some inexplicable reason —perhaps  simply an oversight — the information was never passed on to the families as it should have been. And so the crew’s poor relatives remained in ignorance.

Light was only shed on the case when, in  2006, military historian Peter  Cunliffe found a copy of the report in  the  Canadian Archives while  researching the raid for his book. A Shaky Do, in the  file of Pilot  Officer Bruce Watt, a Canadian member of ED427’s crew.

Cunliffe made a copy of  Laughton-Bramley’s report, and passed it to the German archaeologist Uwe Benkel, who had been investigating the fate of ED427. It jibed with  the story told by Peter Menges, now 83, who was a child in the next village when the plane was shot down.

‘Peter saw the plane coming down on fire,’ says Mr Benkel, ‘and saw the explosion. His parents didn’t allow him to go and see the plane that night. He went the next morning and the German military were there. From what he saw the majority of the body parts were on the surface and taken away.’

Last week, Benkel and his team unearthed the  remains of Lancaster ED427. Contrary  to Bramley-Laughton’s report, which suggested all the bodies had been  recovered by the Germans in the war, Benkel  says that there were still  body parts in the cockpit. Benkel concludes that they were those of Alec Bone.

For Alf, this finally ends the mystery of what happened to his beloved brother. ‘You  have closed the missing page of our memory book,’ he told Uwe Benkel.

Sacrifice: 53,573 members of Bomber Command were killed during the Second World WarSacrifice: 53,573 members of Bomber Command were killed  during the Second World War
 
Momentous: The men of Bomber Command were witness to events that have shaped our historyMomentous: The men of Bomber Command were witness to  events that have shaped our history

‘My mother would have been so relieved that we at last know something,’ he says.

‘I now want to go and pay my last respects on behalf of the family. My brother was a real professional — we were all amateurs.  He was a gentleman and a gentle man.’

Families of other crew members share that sense of a chapter finally being closed. ‘It is a great relief to know what did happen,’ says Hazel Snedker, 72, the daughter of Sergeant Norman Foster, the plane’s Flight Engineer.

‘At least he will now have a grave with a  headstone.’

The plan is for the remains of all the crew  to be buried together. ‘They flew together and died together,’ says Mr Benkel. ‘It is only right that they should stay together.’

Attribution: Mail Online

Ostentatious Europe

They were once filled with courtiers, kings, and other members of the aristocracy. But stunning images capture the silent galleries, corridors, and libraries of Europe in a whole new light.

Captured by Italian photographer Massimo Listri, the images span from Portugal to Sweden, France, and Italy, and show the intricate masterworks from ages past.

His images evoke a certain solemnity, both beautiful and isolating at once.

Included in his portfolio are pictures from the library of Wiblingen Abbey, which was once a Benedictine abbey and has since been transformed into housing medical facilities for the University of Ulm in Germany.

Another image shows the the Malatestiana Library, located in Cesena, Italy, which was the first European civil library that allowed everyone -including the common people – access to its books.

Sounds of silence: These images of grand halls have been captured by Italian photographer Massimo Listri; here, the Royal Palace of Stockholm in SwedenSounds of silence: These images of grand halls have been captured by Italian photographer Massimo Listri; here, the Royal Palace of Stockholm in Sweden
Royalty: Another vast room from the Royal Palace in Stockholm; the Swedish monarchy still resides here todayRoyalty: Another vast room from the Royal Palace in Stockholm; the Swedish monarchy still resides here today
 
Rococo: The Queluz National Palace in Lisbon, Portugal was built in the 18th century; the grand checkered marble floors are juxtaposed against a chandelier and and painted murals on the ceilingRococo: The Queluz National Palace in Lisbon, Portugal was built in the 18th century; the grand checkered marble floors are juxtaposed against a chandelier and and painted murals on the ceiling

WiblingenRoom with a view: Wiblingen Abbey, once a Benedictine abbey, has since been transformed into housing medical facilities for the University of Ulm in Germany; this is a stunning shot of the abbey’s beautiful library

Monochrome: One of two Medici Chapels, located in the Basilica of San Lorenzo in Florence, Italy; the structure dates to around the 16th century Monochrome: One of two Medici Chapels, located in the Basilica of San Lorenzo in Florence, Italy; the structure dates to around the 16th century

All made of marble: The Marble Gallery in the Ducal Palace in Northern Italy is a hauntingly beautiful reminder of times gone byAll made of marble: The Marble Gallery in the Ducal Palace in Northern Italy is a hauntingly beautiful reminder of times gone by

From antiquity: The Malatestiana Library, located in Cesena, Italy, was the first European civil library, allowing everyone access to its books, and is more than 500 years oldFrom antiquity: The Malatestiana Library, located in Cesena, Italy, was the first European civil library, allowing everyone access to its books, and is more than 500 years old
Less austere: This room in the Palazzo Martelli in Florence shows a painted mural on the wall, but a room void of furniture, save for one lone wooden tableLess austere: This room in the Palazzo Martelli in Florence shows a painted mural on the wall, but a room void of furniture, save for one lone wooden table
Roman holiday: This is a corridor from the Capitoline Museums, located in Capitoline Hill in Rome; part of the piazza was thought of by none other than famed Renaissance artist Michelangelo Roman holiday: This is a corridor from the Capitoline Museums, located in Capitoline Hill in Rome; part of the piazza was thought of by none other than famed Renaissance artist Michelangelo
Hollywood aspirations: A room from the Chateau de Pierrefonds in Oise, France, north of Paris; it later became a filming location for the 1998 film Man In The Iron MaskHollywood aspirations: A room from the Chateau de Pierrefonds in Oise, France, north of Paris; it later became a filming location for the 1998 film Man In The Iron Mask
Wealth of knowledge: The stunning library from Kresmunster Abbey in Austria was built in the late 1600s, though the abbey's history predates the 9th centuryWealth of knowledge: The stunning library from Kresmunster Abbey in Austria was built in the late 1600s, though the abbey’s history predates the 9th century
Intricate: Sammezzano Castle, built in 1605, is in the scenic Tuscany region of Italy and features Moorish designs throughoutIntricate: Sammezzano Castle, built in 1605, is in the scenic Tuscany region of Italy and features Moorish designs throughout
Wide halls: The Palace of Caserta, located in southern Italy, was built for the kings of Naples, and has the honour of being one of the largest built in Europe during the 18th century Wide halls: The Palace of Caserta, located in southern Italy, was built for the kings of Naples, and has the honour of being one of the largest built in Europe during the 18th century
Other-worldly: The Gallery Grande is part of the Palace of Venaria, located in Turin, Italy, built in the later part of the 17th century; the stark contrast and diffused light gives it a ghostly glowOther-worldly: The Gallery Grande is part of the Palace of Venaria, located in Turin, Italy, built in the later part of the 17th century; the stark contrast and diffused light gives it a ghostly glow
 
Trade paths: The General Archive of the Indies, in Seville, Spain, was built in the 1570s; a lone cannon lays on the floor of the arched libraryTrade paths: The General Archive of the Indies, in Seville, Spain, was built in the 1570s; a lone cannon lays on the floor of the arched library

Release the Sheikh

It’s difficult not to question the Obama regime on a number of issues. Foreign policy is becoming a major issue to be questioned. First we are told the Arab Spring in Egypt was a good and democratic thing; that raadicals were not involved. Then they tell us the new president Morsi is NOT a Muslim Brotherhood plant; that he is secular and does not want to destroy Israel. We were told that there is not now, nor will there be any discussion for the release of the Islamic terrorist known as the Blind Sheikh. All lies. Time to shine some more light on this administrations next wrong-doing. As you read, just surplant the word “transfer” with the words, “outright release”.

by:  of The Blaze

Egypts Mohammed Morsi: I Will Do Everything in My Power to Secure Freedom for Blind Sheikh

Blind Sheikh Omar Abdel Rahman sits and prays inside an iron cage at the opening of court session, 06 August 1989 in Cairo. (Credit: AFP/Getty Images)

Just weeks after TheBlaze’s exclusive report that claimed the U.S. State Department was “actively considering” transferring Omar Abdel-Rahman, or the “Blind Sheikh” to Egypt, Egyptian President Mohammed Morsi publicly called on the U.S. to allow the convicted terrorist to serve out the rest of his sentence at home in Egypt, state media reported on Thursday, according to AFP.

“I will do everything in my power to secure freedom for… detainees, including Sheikh Omar Abdul Rahman,” Morsi said.

“What I want is to intervene for humanitarian reasons, not to interfere in a court ruling,” Morsi reportedly told members of the Egyptian community in New York while he was in the U.S. for the UN General Assembly.

The Blind Sheikh was sentenced to life in prison after he was convicted for his role in the 1993 World Trade Center bombing, plotting to bomb other New York sites and plotting to assassinate former Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak.

“We want his family to be allowed to visit him and to serve his sentence in Egypt as part of a prisoner swap between Egypt and the United States,” Morsi said, according to the official MENA news agency.

Egypts Mohammed Morsi: I Will Do Everything in My Power to Secure Freedom for Blind Sheikh

Morsi, of the radical Muslim Brotherhood, said that “recent incidents around the US embassy in Cairo have delayed efforts in this regard,” MENA reported.

<a href=”http://ad.doubleclick.net/jump/prnd/prn-theblaze;prntype=web;prngenre=conservative_talk;prnpage=interior;pos=bottom;sz=300×250;u=prntype*web!prngenre*conservative_talk!prnpage*interior!pos*bottom!sz*300×250;ord=123456789?” target=”_blank” ><img src=”http://ad.doubleclick.net/ad/prnd/prn-theblaze;prntype=web;prngenre=conservative_talk;prnpage=interior;pos=bottom;sz=300×250;u=prntype*web!prngenre*conservative_talk!prnpage*interior!pos*bottom!sz*300×250;ord=123456789?” border=”0″ alt=”” /The Egyptian leader was clearly referencing the angry protest on 9/11 where radical Islamists stormed the U.S. embassy and tore apart an American flag and replaced it with a black Islamic flag while chanting things like “Death to America.” Officials still claim this particular protest was over an anti-Muslim film that mocked Islam and the prophet Muhammad and was not directed at the United States or the Obama administration.

“On June 29, on the eve of his inauguration, Morsi told a rally in Cairo that he would work to free Abdul Rahman, commonly referred to as ‘the blind sheikh,” AFP reports.

Remember, this is the same Muslim Brotherhood-controlled Egypt that the Obama administration wants to send $450 million to, and eventually a total of $1 billion.

From TheBlaze’s exclusive report:

The U.S. State Department is actively considering negotiations with the Egyptian government for the transfer of custody of Omar Abdel-Rahman, also known as the “Blind Sheikh,” for humanitarian and health reasons, a source close to the the Obama administration told TheBlaze.

That seems to line up directly with what Morsi is now calling for. As previously mentioned, Morsi told Egyptians in New York, “What I want is to intervene for humanitarian reasons.”

The State Department, Justice Department and the White House have all denied that they are considering transferring or releasing the Blind Sheikh.

Egypts Mohammed Morsi: I Will Do Everything in My Power to Secure Freedom for Blind Sheikh
Sheikh Omar Abdel Rahman (Credit: AFP/Getty Images)

State Department spokeswoman Victoria Nuland said earlier this month that there is no plan to “release” the Blind Sheikh and that, to her knowledge, no “senior” Egyptians had made the request “recently.” Well, now she has the Egyptian president telling the U.S. to transfer him this week. Maybe that will get the federal government’s attention.

The Blind Sheikh is the former leader of the radical “Islamic Group” in Egypt, which now holds 13 seats in the Egyptian Parliament. The Obama administration recently hosted a member of the designated terrorist organization at the White House named Hani Nour Eldin. Eldin met with senior State Department and Obama administration officials and reportedly urged the National Security Council to consider Rahman’s release from U.S. custody.

How Depressing

Another shoe falls in Europe. Note the references to similar events in early 1930’s Europe which just happen to lead to the rise of a certain German promising to lead them back to prosperity. It’s a bit of a dry and cumbersome read, but important.

The French Depression

Ambrose Evans-PritchardBy  of the UK Telegraph

His tragically-misguided budget offers no strategic plan to reverse — or even to stop — thirty years of slow national decline. He offers no worthwhile measures to slim the Leviathan state, now a Nordic-sized 55% of GDP (Gross Domestic Product), without Nordic labour flexibility or Nordic free markets.

He does not tell us how he will stem the slide in France’s share of eurozone exports over the last decade, down from 17% to 13%, or what he will do about the disastrous swing in France’s trade balance from a surplus of 2.5% of GDP to a deficit of 2.4% since 1999.

He proposes nothing credible to restore France’s viability within EMU (Economic and Monetary Union), or to stop public debt spiralling beyond 90% of GDP. Instead he has served up the most drastic retrenchment in forty years, at the worst possible time, and in the worst possible way. And markets are supposed to applaud?

The budget will tighten discretionary fiscal policy by 2% of GDP next year into the teeth of deepening depression, without offsetting monetary stimulus or exchange rate relief.

Mr Hollande likes to quote Leon Blum, the Popular Front leader of the interwar years. The reality could hardly be more cruel. He is replicating the disastrous deflation policies of Labour Chancellor Philip Snowden in 1931, before the Labour Party woke up to the delicious possibility that you could lift two fingers to the forces of reaction and leave the Gold Standard.

Worse yet, he is perilously close to re-enacting the desperate deflation decrees of Pierre Laval — an ex-Socialist dreamer, pacifist, and utopian who lost his way, and ultimately cleaved too closely to foreign ideologies — and like Laval he is doing so to uphold a fixed exchange system that is slowly asphyxiating his country and no longer makes any sense.

His budget is pro-cylical error of the first order, carried out to meet an EU (European Union) deficit target of 3% of GDP that has no economic logic and is plucked out of thin air to meet bureaucratic tidiness and enshrined like so much other idiocy into EU treaty law. The certain result will be hundreds of thousands of lost jobs.

“To save the dogma of single currency, they are imposing absurd hyper-austerity on France,” said Marine Le Pen from the National Front, France’s unlikely apostle of Keynesian doctrine.

France now joins Italy, Spain, Portugal, Greece, Ireland, and parts of Eastern Europe in synchronized tightening, with the Netherlands and Belgium cutting too, all dragging each other down in a 1930s style slide into the political swamp.

Mr Hollande has not been entirely passive. He threw his weight behind the Latin revolt earlier this summer, forcing German Chancellor Angela Merkel to sanction mass bond purchases by the European Central Bank. This would not have been possible in the Merkozy era, when Nicholas Sarkozy sacrificed all else on the altar of the Franco-German unity.

But he has not followed through and there were in any case two quid pro quos to this deal with Germany. One was that Spain and Italy must submit to Troika Hell before the ECB (European Central Bank) buys a single bond. The second was that France must submit to fiscal Hell.

Mr Hollande has his own motives for bowing to austerity demands. He learned the lesson as an aide to François Mitterrand that you cannot deviate too far from Germany if you share a currency peg. There will be no repetition of 1983, the epic U-turn or `tournant de la rigueur’.

He may judge it tactically clever to get his recession out-of-the-way early in the electoral cycle. If so, it is a very risky strategy.

Professor Jacques Sapir, director of the École des hautes études en sciences sociales in Paris, says the more likely outcome is a downward economic spiral, pushing the declared numbers of jobless from 3m towards 4m — and the real number to 6m — by the end of next year. The economy will not spring back of its own accord this time because the contractionary structure of EMU has jammed the mechanism.

Prof Sapir fears global markets will turn on France with “full fury” before long, at which point, events will slip entirely beyond political control. “François Hollande is making a dangerous bet that he can only lose,” he said.

The French economy has already been in quasi-slump for five quarters. Dominique Barbet from BNP Paribas says the latest crash in the manufacturing PMI (Purchasing Managers Index) to 42.6 — the lowest since April 2009, and lower that at any time in the dotcom bust — is “potentially alarming”.

Indeed it is. Data collected by Simon Ward at Henderson Global Investors shows that a key leading indicator of the money supply –`six-month real M1 money’ — is now contracting even faster in France than in Spain. The shock will hit over the winter. “The budget looks increasingly misguided and self-defeating,” he said.

Mr Hollande thinks his budget will safeguard jobs. The fiscal burden will fall on the rich with a top tax rate of 75%, and on industry. Barclays Capital says three-quarters of the total will come by raising revenue, with the taxes “front-loaded” while spending cuts are “back-loaded”. The ratio of taxes to gross wages will rise to an all-time high of 46.3%. (Finance ministry estimates). [ Notice that like in the U.S., tax hikes always come first with hollow promises of mythical spending cuts later, that, of course, never materialize.]

Harvard Professor Alberto Alesina says this flies in the face of all we have learned about austerity. “The accumulated evidence from over 40 years across the OECD ( Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development) peaks loud and clear: spending cuts are less recessionary than tax increases,” he said.

France, above all, screams out for a blast of tax-cutting Thatcherism and pension reform. The IMF (International Monetary Fund) says the country’s “tax wedge” – or tax as a share of labour costs – is one of highest in the world at almost 50%.

Just 39.7% of those aged 55 to 64 are in work, compared with 56.7% in the UK and 57.7% in Germany. Early retirement incentives are to blame. “French workers spend the longest time in retirement among advanced countries,” says the Fund.

France coasted through the last decade, losing 20% unit labour cost competitiveness against Germany as it screwed down wages and pushed through the Hartz IV reforms. French industry has been losing 60,000 jobs a year for a decade. Manufacturing has shrunk to 12% of GDP, as bad as Britain.

Renault chief Carlos Ghosn warned last week that France’s biggest car company would “cease to exist” in its current form unless there was a radical change in the country’s work climate. “Not over three or six months perhaps, but over three years, or five years, yes, the danger is real,” he said.

The whole economic structure of France is an anachronism in a Chinese world and a German currency union. “We are consuming the leftovers of a past prosperity,” says Jean Peyrelevade, ex-head of Credit Lyonnais.

Sovereign debt strategist Nicholas Spiro says growing doubts about the “credibility of French fiscal and economic policy” may soon bring Mr Hollande’s strange honeymoon to a close. It is a widely-shared view. Danske Bank’s bond team sees a “significant risk that the market will turn on France in 2013”.

Huw Pill from Goldman Sachs said the detonator may be activation of the European Stability Mechanism to bail out Spain and then Italy.

The potential ESM demands are too large for the “vulnerable core” of France, Belgium, and Austria. Their own fiscal health would come under the microscope. The shock would push them “from one equilibrium to another.”

Mr Hollande has swallowed the argument that drastic cuts are the only way to cap debt at 90% of GDP and keep the debt trajectory under control.

Yet we already know from Greece, Ireland, Portugal, and Spain that fiscal shock therapy makes little dent on the deficit without monetary shock absorber. It causes nominal GDP and the tax base to shrink, making debt ratios even worse.

France does not have to put up with destructive 1930s policies imposed by Germany. It is not a vassal state. It remains a great nation, the beating heart of Europe and the EU’s balancing force.

It can break out of this awful trap by leading a yet more determined Latin revolt, this time marshalling its voting majority in the Council to force an end to contractionary policies.

A French-led growth bloc can strike back by inflicting an intolerable level of inflation on Germany. It can, if necessary, cause the North Europeans to walk out of EMU altogether — the optimal solution for the North and South respectively.

For that, Mr Hollande must be willing to abandon the Franco-German condominium, the central tenet of French foreign policy for almost sixty years. The cautious, plodding Enarque from the Limousin is not the type for fireworks, but give him time.