Medal Of Honor

A former Army staff sergeant who helped fight  off one of the largest and most brutal attacks against U.S. forces in  Afghanistan will receive the Medal of Honor next month, the White House said  Friday.

President Barack Obama will bestow the medal on Clinton Romesha of Minot, North Dakota, for his ‘courageous actions’ in  Afghanistan in 2009 while he was serving as a section leader during combat  operations against armed enemy forces at Combat Outpost Keating in the country’s  Nuristan Province.

Romesha, 31, will become the fourth living  service member to receive the nation’s highest award for valor for overseas duty  in Afghanistan or Iraq.

Romesha
Romesha's team
 Deadly battle: The attack against Romesha and his  comrades remains one of the deadliest against coalition forces in  Afghanistan

Seven other service members have been  posthumously awarded the Medal of Honor for their actions in those  wars.

The husband and father of three was a section  leader in B Troop, 3rd Squadron, 61st Cavalry Regiment, 4th Brigade Combat Team,  4th Infantry Division, during the October 3, 2009, attack on the remote  mountaintop in eastern Afghanistan.

The attack remains one of the deadliest  against coalition forces in Afghanistan and is chronicled in the book ‘The  Outpost: An Untold Story of American Valor’ written by CNN’s Jake Tapper.

Eight U.S. soldiers were killed and two dozen  others were wounded in the battle in Nuristan as they fought against an  overwhelming Taliban insurgent force that launched the hostile attack to overrun  them.

The Taliban had been harassing the troopers  at Keating for several months, attacking them three or four times a week,  according to an account of the battle on Examiner.com.

Location of attack: The October 3, 2009, attack took place on the remote mountaintop in eastern Afghanistan's Nuristan ProvinceLocation of attack: The October 3, 2009, attack took  place on the remote mountaintop in eastern Afghanistan’s Nuristan Province

In total, 50 American, 20 Afghan and two  Latvian soldiers were stationed at the post in addition to a dozen or so Afghan  Security Guards.

Nearby, 19 American and 10 Afghan soldiers at  Observation Post Fritsche also came under heavy fire as well.

The enemy quickly brought mayhem on the two  posts firing a recoilless rifle, rocket-propelled grenades, mortars, machine  guns and rifles.

Two minutes into the attack, the first U.S.  soldier was killed as the enemy targeted the COP’s mortar pit and pinned down  the soldiers stationed at Fritsche, preventing them from providing supporting  fire to Keating.

The Afghan troops and security guards  reportedly abandoned their posts, leaving the Americans and Latvians to fight  alone.

Up close look: The attack occurred at Combat Outpost Keating in Afghanistan's Nuristan Province while Romesha was serving as a section leader during combat operations The attack occurred at Combat Outpost  Keating in Afghanistan’s Nuristan Province while Romesha was serving as a  section leader during combat operations

Within the first three hours of the battle,  mortars hit the two stations every 15 seconds, and in less than an hour, the  enemy swarmed Keating, eventually setting fire to the outpost and destroying  almost 70 per cent of it.

Romesha and his fellow soldiers fought back  for hours as heavy enemy fire came down on them from all directions.

The staff sergeant moved under intense enemy  fire to observe the battlefield and then went to seek reinforcements from the  barracks, according to the citation  accompanying Romesha’s Medal of Honor.

He returned to action with the support of an  assistant gunner, who is identified in ‘The Outpost’ as Corporal Justin  Gregory.

Romesha ‘took out an enemy machine gun team  and, while engaging a second, the generator he was using for cover was struck by  a rocket-propelled grenade, inflicting him with shrapnel wounds,’ according to  the citation.

Despite his injuries, Romesha continued to  fight, and as another soldier arrived to aid him he ‘rushed through the exposed  avenue to assemble additional soldiers.’

Romesha then mobilized a five-man team, which  he led back to the battle.

Recorded history: The deadly attack on Romesha and his team is chronicled in the book ¿The Outpost: An Untold Story of American Valor¿ written by CNN¿s Jake Tapper The deadly attack on Romesha and his  team is chronicled in the book ¿The Outpost: An Untold Story of American Valor  written by CNN’s Jake Tapper

‘With complete disregard for his own safety,  Romesha continually exposed himself to heavy enemy fire as he moved confidently  about the battlefield, engaging and destroying multiple enemy targets, including  three Taliban fighters who had breached the combat outpost’s perimeter,’ the  citation reads.

As the insurgent group attacked the outpost  with even ‘greater ferocity, unleashing a barrage of rocket-propelled grenades  and recoilless rifle rounds,’ Romesha ‘identified the point of attack and  directed air support to destroy over 30 enemy fighters.’

As soon as he learned that soldiers at the  other battle position were still alive, he and his team provided covering fire,  allowing three of their wounded comrades to reach the aid station, according to  the citation.

Romesha and his team also ran 100 meters  under fire to recover the bodies of their fallen comrades.

Romesha, the son of a leader of the Church of  Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints Church in Cedarville, California, has been  described as intense, short and wiry, according to Gannett’s Army  Times.

The 31-year-old war veteran will be awarded  the Medal of Honor at the White  House on February 11, according to  the announcement.

Attribution: Daily Mail

No Peace

Shimon Peres: Israel’s government does not want to make peace with Muslim world

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comments by: the Common Constitutionalist [ ]

Intervening in the country’s general election campaign, Israel’s elder statesman warned of the perils of his country isolating itself from America.

President Barack Obama was “not convinced” that Israel’s current leaders truly wanted peace, he said.

“If there is no diplomatic decision, the Palestinians will go back to terror. Knives, mines, suicide attacks,” Mr Peres said in an extensive interview with the New York Times Magazine .

“The silence that Israel has been enjoying over the last few years will not conrocket attackstinue, because even if the local inhabitants do not want to resume the violence, they will be under the pressure of the Arab world. Money will be transferred to them, and weapons will be smuggled to them, and there will be no one who will stop this flow.” [ The Silence that Israel has enjoyed? Really? In 2012 alone, over 2200 Palestinian rocket and motar attacks have rained into Israel. Nice silence Mr. Peres. ]

Most of the world would then blame Israel for the violence and brand it a “racist state”, warned Mr Peres. [ Most of the world already has been convinced they are a racist state by the politically correct left and the Islamic radicals ]

Israel’s current government has offered peace talks with the Palestinian Authority, but has also expanded Jewish settlements in the occupied West Bank.

Indeed in recent weeks Mr Netanyahu has angered the US by announcing plans for more than 6,000 new homes for Jewish settlers in the occupied West Bank and East Jerusalem. Mr Peres said this policy risked losing US support by undermining Washington’s belief in Israel’s desire for peace. [ Let’s clear this up once and for all;  Israel does not “Occupy” the West Bank. Israel specifically told King Hussein of Jordan that if his country stayed out of the 1967 war, Israel would not fight against him. Hussein ignored the warning Hamasand attacked Israel in 1967. While fending off the assault and driving out the invading Jordanian troops, Israel came to control the West Bank. Had Hussein heeded the warning, the Palestinians of the West Bank would in all likelihood be living as Jordanian citizens.  By rejecting Arab demands that Israel be required to withdraw from all the territories won in 1967, the UN Security Council in Resolution 242 acknowledged that Israel was entitled to claim at least part of these lands for new defensible borders.]

Asked if Mr Obama believed that Israel shared his ambitions for peace in the Middle East, Mr Peres replied: “Of course he’s not convinced. He demanded an end to settlements and got a negative response, and they [members of Mr Netanyahu’s government] are to blame for the ongoing activity in the settlements. President Obama thinks that peace should be made with the Muslim world. We, the State of Israel, do not appear to be thinking along those lines. [ THE COVENANT OF THE HAMAS (1988): ‘Israel will exist and will continue to  exist until Islam will obliterate it, just as it obliterated others before it.’  Yes, Mr President, the Muslim World wants peace. Right! ]

“We must not lose the support of the United States. What gives Israel bargaining power in the international arena is the support of the United States.”

He added that standing alone from the US, Israel would be “like a lone tree in the desert”.

Mr Peres, 89, became president in 2007 after a 50-year career in the center-left of Israeli politics during which he served as prime minister three times. His comments will draw accusations from Mr Netanyahu’s right-wing Likud-Beiteinu bloc that Mr Peres is breaking the convention that the ceremonial president should remain above party politics. Israel will hold an election on Jan 22 and the polls suggest both that Mr Netanyahu will be re-elected – and most voters are pessimistic or apathetic about the prospects of peace.msg from hamas

Mr Peres shared the Nobel Peace Prize in 1993 with the then prime minister, Yitzhak Rabin, and Yasser Arafat, the late Palestinian leader, for jointly forging the ill-fated Oslo agreement. [ Says a lot for the Nobel prize, that the terrorist Arafat won one. Something to be proud of ]

In his series of interviews with the New York Times Mr Peres told the Israeli journalist, Ronen Bergman, that Mr Netanyahu was not providing positive leadership.

“I think that if the people of Israel heard from the leadership that there is a chance for peace, they would take up the gauntlet and believe it,” he said. “There are two things that cannot be made without closing your eyes – love and peace.” [ Quote from a leader of the Muslim Brotherhood: “Every night when I go to bed, I pray to wake up the next day to see Israel is wiped off the map” ]

Although Mr Netanyahu publicly committed himself in 2009 to the principle of Palestinian statehood, he has been dismissive of Mahmoud Abbas, the president of the Palestinian Authority and the leader of the moderate Fatah faction. The two men have not met for more than two years. Mr Peres, by contrast, said he had met Mr Abbas several times with Mr Netanyahu’s knowledge and described the Palestinian as an “excellent” negotiating partner. [ Moderate Fatah? You mean the moderate Fatah that has aligned with the Hamas? That one? ]

Mr Peres alluded to Israel’s possession of nuclear weapons by claiming credit for creating hamas-fatah-unity-flagthe country’s nuclear program. “I do not think there are many people in the world who can say they managed to create a nuclear option in a small country,” he said, while reciting the achievements of his long career. Israeli leaders have always held to a policy of “strategic ambiguity”, neither confirming nor denying the possession of an atom bomb.

Mr Netanyahu renewed his attack on Mr Abbas on Thursday by criticizing him for meeting Khaled Meshaal, the Hamas leader, in Cairo this week.

“Abu Mazen [Mr Abbas] embraces the head of a terrorist organization that declared only last month that Israel must be wiped off the map,” said the prime minister. “This is not how someone who wants peace behaves.” [ Bully for Mr Netanyahu! At least someone has the stones to tell the truth!  There can never and will never be peace with islamists. They must be defeated at all cost. Only then would there be peace. ]

This Ain’t Your Grandpas Field Rations

The Military Is Pushing the Bounds… of Food Science

Tremendous breakthroughs are often born out of military pursuits. In the past, military research has directly or indirectly led to technological innovations like the microwave oven, nuclear power, and the Internet.

You can also add M&M’s to that list — yes M&M’s. Those delightfully crunchy and satisfyingly chocolatey candies that melt in your mouth (not in your hand) were originally intended for American troops in World War II.m & m

Legend has it that Forrest Mars, Sr., while traveling in Spain during the Spanish Civil War, found soldiers eating tiny chocolate pellets coated in hard, sugar shells. Returning to the states in 1940, Mars perfected the candy and negotiated an amicable deal with the Hershey Corporation, which already had an agreement to provide chocolate to the army. When World War II rolled around, M&M’s became an instant hit with the troops because the candies could travel well and withstand high temperatures without melting.

shutterstock_120239824.jpg

Today, M&M’s remain a troop favorite, but the battleground has changed. While the first rendition of the delectable candies could withstand the temperatures of Europe, Africa, and the Pacific fairly well, they were found to be no match for the incessant heat of the Middle East. So, in the midst of Operation Desert Storm, food technologist Tom Yang led a team that redesigned M&M’s so they wouldn’t turn into a “sticky mess.”

“Regular chocolate is protein in the center coated with fat, so that fat can easily melt,” Yang explained to PBS’ NOVA. “So we came up with sort of a reverse phase chocolate, putting the protein on the outside and the fat in the center. And protein is not that easy to melt.”

A Meat Roll-Up

Yang isn’t solely focused on the sweet side of food, however. He’s recently been investigating a method called osmotic dehydration for use in military MREs (meals, ready-to-eat). The process involves rolling meat into thin sheets, extracting water via osmosis, osmotic dehydration of meatthen running the product through a brine composed primarily of an oligosaccharide food additive called maltodextrin. The end product is a meat roll-up, very much like a fruit roll-up.

Yang plans to adapt osmotic dehydration to all sorts of foods. “The beauty of this technology is you can use beef, you can use  pork, you can use poultry or you can even use fish or a combination of  fruit, vegetable and meat together,” Yang said.

Years of Freshness

An American army soldier’s “meat and potatoes” is the MRE. Available in 24 different varieties, the meal must — as described by Director of Combat Feeding Program Jerry Darsch — have at least “a minimum shelf life at three years at 80 degrees Fahrenheit, six months at 100. It has to be stored, distributed for minus 60 degrees Fahrenheit to 120 degrees Fahrenheit.  It has to be able to be thrown — free fall out of a chopper at 100 feet, and obviously airdropped with parachutes from about 2,000 feet and higher.”

320px-MRE_20071124.PNGIt also has to be at least mildly pleasurable to eat. Military food scientists’ constantly try to balance taste and longevity — a difficult task — but recently they made a breakthrough by creating a sandwich that can stay fresh for three years! The key to the near immortal sandwich was limiting moisture, which is necessary for bacteria to grow. The scientists utilized three surprisingly simple ingredients — honey, sugar, and salt — to retain moisture and seal it off at the same time, thus keeping the sandwich fresh and safe-to-eat. Oxygen, a primary cause of food deterioration, was also limited. A small package of iron filings placed within the sandwich bag traps the gas in a layer of rust.

Another part of the food pleasure equation is warmth. All MREs come equipped with a flameless heater. It’s a small pad filled with magnesium dust, salt, and a little iron dust. Add water, and an oxidation reaction begins that releases a good amount of heat, which can be used to warm the food packages.

Military food scientists continue to push the envelope. During the Civil War, salted pork and hardtack was the faire du jour. Today, it’s lemon pepper tuna, chicken pesto pasta, and beef roast with vegetables. Vast improvements have been made, but the work is never done.

Soldiers have been clamoring for pizza, but technologists have yet to master a version that fits to the MRE’s stringent requirements.

Attribution: Ross Pomeroy, Real Science

Round Trip Ticket

Deported Criminals Return Illegally at Alarming Rate

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There are hundreds of thousands of aliens crossing the US border illegally every year.  Less than half of them are ever detained and even fewer of the detainees are ever deported back to their home countries.  Working under President Obama’s orders most illegal aliens are rewarded for their actions and released back into our society where they steal jobs, food and medical benefits from US citizens and often ruin neighborhoods and property values.

Supposedly, the government concentrates mostly on illegals who already have a criminal record.  (Doesn’t violating our immigration laws automatically classify them as a ICEcriminal?)  In the fiscal year of 2011, a total of 188,380 illegals with criminal records were deported.  However, 86,699 of them had been previously deported at least once.  That’s a return rate of 46%, which indicates that we have a complete failure to secure our borders from known criminal elements.

Additionally, there were another 43,307 illegals without criminal records who had been previously deported and again illegally entered the US.  Even though it is a crime to cross the US border illegally, none of the 43,307 are considered to have criminal records.

According to a report issued by the Center for Immigration Studies:

“It cannot be ascertained from the available data how many of the 86,699 previously deported criminals committed new crimes other than their illegal return, but unless they were detained shortly after re-entering the United States, it is likely that they came to the attention of the immigration authorities as a result of new crimes (committed after their illegal re-entry) for which they were convicted or arraigned.”

“The 46 percent may also be understated due to reclassification of criminal deportees. Thus existing data indicate that a minimum of 46 percent of the 2011 criminal deportees were previously deported and returned to the United States.”

“The high percentage of repeat deportees is due in part to the mexicali-deporteesease of re-entry to the United States for earlier deportees and the knowledge that if apprehended there is only a small chance that they will serve any prison time for illegal re-entry.”

“In nearly all cases the deportee will go undetected unless charged with another crime or if the deportee returns to his old neighborhood and is recognized by local law enforcement officials. Thus the number of deportees who make an illegal re-entry is possibly much higher than indicated.”

“The extent of our revolving door for deported criminal illegal immigrants points to failures in securing our nation’s borders. These failures do not bode well for our future ability to intercept known and unknown terrorists who try to gain access to our country.”

Reports like this clearly indicate that the Department of Homeland Security is doing very little to secure our borders.  Their cavalier attitude towards illegal immigration is a disgrace and an affront to most US citizens.  If this many illegals are returning and many going completely undetected, then how many terrorists are also crossing into our country illegally?

The US-Mexico border is an open door for anyone, including terrorists, to just walk rightbig sis in to the country, where they can then carry out the planning and execution of their jihad activities.

I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again.  Bring our troops home from Iraq and Afghanistan and station them along the US-Mexico borders with orders to detain and shoot if necessary.  Military patrols should be stationed in a line of sight with each other across the entire extent of the border.  They should also be the ones to man and operate all border crossing stations.  This would result in a drastic cut in the amount of illegal aliens and drugs that are currently flowing into the US across the Mexican border.  It would also make it harder for terrorists to gain entry in to the country.  I believe it’s a win-win answer to illegal immigration, drugs and keeping our military safe at home securing our borders instead of the borders of countries that hate us.

Iran Endorsement

Iran Endorses Obama Pick Hagel for U.S. Secretary of Defense

Iran’s Foreign Ministry dumped more fuel on the fire of former Senator Chuck Hagel’s (R–NE) nomination for Secretary of Defense by announcing its approval for President Obama’s pick.

It’s no secret that Hagel, an outspoken critic of sanctions on Iran, has preferred a policy of engagement and direct talks with the rogue state. In 2001, Hagel voted not to renew the Iran–Libya Sanctions Act, denying said countries money that would be spent on funding terrorism and/or acquiring weapons of mass destruction.

Then, in 2007, Hagel voted against designating Iran’s Revolutionary Guards Corps as a terrorist organization, despite the force’s role in orchestrating attacks against U.S. troops in Iraq. Hagel further opposed the Iran Counter–Proliferation Act and sent a letter to President George W. Bush, urging him to engage in “direct, unconditional, and comprehensive talks with the Government of Iran.”  Continue Reading at Heritage

A Pilot Encounter

An American bomber pilot was fighting for his life and the lives of his six wounded crew members when he tried desperately to keep the plane from nose-diving into German territory during World War II.

Adding to his concerns, 2nd Lt. Brown feared a new threat when he spotted a German plane directly next to his plane, so close that the German pilot was looking him directly in the eyes and making big gestures with his hands that only scared Brown more.

The moment was fleeting however, as the German quickly saluted the American plane before peeling away as soon as one of Brown’s men went for the gun turret to attack their enemy.

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Saved: Charlie Brown was the lone pilot controlling an American bomber in 1943 when a German soldier decided not to shoot at the bloodied soldier
Saved: Charlie Brown was the lone pilot controlling an American bomber in 1943 when a German soldier decided not to shoot at the bloodied soldier
Saved: Charlie Brown was the lone pilot controlling an American bomber in 1943 when a German soldier decided not to shoot at the bloodied soldier
Re-enactment: The German plane came purposefully close to the American plane Re-enactment: The German plane came purposefully close to the American plane

The New York  Post details the ensuing struggle that Brown dealt with after he was able to fly and land his battered plane safely and go on to live a happy and full life following the war, all because that German pilot decided to go against orders and spare the Americans.

As soon as he landed, Brown told his commanding officer about the spotting of the German soldier, but he was instructed not to tell anyone else for fear of spreading positive stories of the German enemy.

The kind pilot’s was Franz Stigler, 26-year-old ace pilot who had 22 victories to his name with just one alluding him before being awarded the Knight’s Cross.

His moral compass was more powerful than his need for glory, however, as the lesson he learned from an earlier mentor kept him from shooting at the American plane.

Mercy: Franz Stigler thought it was wrong to shoot at the damaged plane because it was like aiming at a 'parachute'
Mercy: Franz Stigler thought it was wrong to shoot at the damaged plane because it was like aiming at a 'parachute'
Mercy: Franz Stigler thought it was wrong to shoot at  the damaged plane because it was like aiming at a ‘parachute’

His officer told him ‘If I ever see or hear of you shooting at a man in a parachute, I will shoot you down myself. You follow the rules of war for you — not for your enemy. You fight by rules to keep your humanity.’

The test of his humanity came when he saw Brown’s plane, trying to fly while half of it’s wing was blown apart and as crew members were rapidly trying to help one another tend to their injuries.

‘For me it would have been the same as shooting at a parachute, I just couldn’t do it,’ Stigler said.

In 1987, more than 40 years after the December 20, 1943 incident, Brown began searching for the man who saved his life even though he had no idea whether his savior was alive, let alone where the man in question was living.

Honoring past moves: Brown and Stigler met with then-Florida governor Jeb Bush in 2001Honoring past moves: Brown and Stigler met with  then-Florida governor Jeb Bush in 2001

Brown bought an ad in a newsletter catering to fighter pilots, saying only that he was searching for the man ‘who saved my  life on Dec. 20, 1943.’

Stigler saw the ad in his new hometown of Vancouver, Canada, and the two men got in touch.

‘It was like meeting a family member, like a brother you haven’t seen for 40 years,’ Brown said at the pair’s first meeting.

Their story, told in the book “A Higher Call”,  ended in 2008 when the two men died within six months of one another, Stigler at age 92 and Brown 87.

Attribution: Daily Mail

Bush Didn’t Lie and More May Die

Remember the Lefty chant, “Bush lied, People died”?

The infamous mantra regarding the revelation that George W. Bush knew Saddam Hussein had no “Weapons of Mass Destruction (WMD)” prior to the invasion of Iraq.

Apparently there were top-secret CIA briefings that “W” dismissed or kept from Congress and the American people, thus cementing a positive Congressional vote for force against Iraq.

It was indeed a scandal and one that seemed to leave egg on the facebush-lieds of the administration. I believe Colin Powell still has not forgiven Bush for that.

The fact that virtually every country with an intelligence service emphatically stated that Hussein did have WMD was of no account.

In 2006 CBS even interviewed a former CIA agent who claimed documentary evidence for the lack of mass destruction weapons.

So why were all these countries intelligence services so convinced Saddam did have WMD? Could it be that the dictator used chemical weapons to put down his own people years before? That may have been a factor. Could it also be that Iraq did in fact try to acquire yellowcake uranium despite the fraudulent reports to the contrary?

Could all these countries, including our CIA and the Israeli Mossad, quite possibly the best intelligence agency in the world, have been mistaken?

According to some sources, Bush and the “NeoCons” warmongers had already written the script. Regardless of what was known or not known of WMD, Americwmdsa was going to invade Iraq and depose Hussein. That’s what “NeoCons” do, don’t ya know.

I was not a big fan of George W. Bush, but I believe he would never invade a country without actionable intelligence. One important factor that was not widely publicized and that in most are unaware of even today, is what I and very few others were convinced of, both in 2002 and still today.

By all accounts of numerous intelligence agencies, Saddam did have stockpiles of weapons and evidently, just like magic, they disappeared.

The press hailed Charles Duelfer, chief of the Iraqi survey group, when he reported no WMD findings and the transfer of WMD did not occur.

But the press, as they too often do, failed to give us the specifics of Duelfer’s report. Deep within his report he concluded that he could not confirm WMD or its movement, due to poor security situations.

Satellites and dissCharles Duelferident intelligence did however confirm the movement of some 50 trucks and two aircraft from Iraq to Lebanon and Syria in 2002 and in March 2003.

I surmised, as some others had, working off this intelligence, that the Russians were helping move the WMD to the Bekaa Valley in Lebanon, a wholly-owned subsidiary of Iran and Syria,  where it could be stashed away in a remote location or locations.

This Russian maneuver was exactly what the Soviets used to do during the Cold War. The Soviets called these types of covert movements, “Operation Sarinder”, which would scrub any evidence of underhanded Soviet weapons involvement.

I believe that then and still do now, that George W. Bush knew it was the Russians moving WMD from Iraq to Lebanon and Syria.Bekaa Valley

I also believe he purposely-kept quiet about it so as to not provoke an international incident with the Russians.

So what is the point of this history lesson?

Well, it’s simple. Syrian President Assad is said to have authorized the use of chemical weapons against the rebel forces trying to depose him. Where, pray tell, did he acquire said weapons?

Gee, I wonder. Maybe from the Bekaa Valley? Could it be he has had them in his possession for all these years with the knowledge and blessing of the Russians?

I guess the question we should be asking isn’t whether he will use the WMD, but whether Vladimir Putin will alloPutin, Assadw him to.

If Putin does, or even if he doesn’t, would it be possible to trace them back to Iraq and then to their origin, Russia?

If Assad is deposed, I doubt Vladimir would allow those weapons into rebel hands.

The last question might be, where will the Russian WMD turn up next?

Sunshine and Swastikas

This collection of rare color photos of Berlin in 1937, taken by Thomas Neumann and uncovered from Norwegian archives,  show life in the German capital during a tumultuous decade.

They capture scenes in the vibrant city,  which was under the iron grip of Adolf Hitler and his Third Reich at the very height of his power. Yet just eight years later the city was in ruins as Russians and Allies occupied it in victory.

But at the time these images were taken,  Hitler’s Berlin was vibrant. Hitler had taken power after the collapse of the democratic Weimar Republic in 1933 as severe economic problems caused by the Depression drove ordinary Germans into the Nazi party’s arms.

As well as chilling pictures of  buildings emblazoned with swastikas, there are scenes of ordinary life as Germans go about their business. They show a child in a sun-drenched square, smiling friends at a train station, a cart selling bananas and a food vendor in a sunny  park.

Regal: These rare color photos of Berlin in 1937 give a unique perspective of the capital's pre-war period. The Stadtschloss, or Berlin City Palace. It was heavily damaged during bombing and demolished by East German authorities after the warThese rare color photos of Berlin in 1937 give a  unique perspective of the capital’s pre-war period. The Stadtschloss, or Berlin  City Palace, was heavily damaged during bombing and demolished by East German  authorities after the war
Devastated: The Stadtschloss after it was gutted by Allied bombs. It was torn down by East German authorities after the war but is currently being rebuiltThe Stadtschloss after it was gutted by Allied bombs. It was torn down by East German authorities after the war but is  currently being rebuilt
Ominous: In 1937 Hitler was at the very peak of his power. Ordinary Germans were content and opposition was being ruthlessly crushed In 1937 Hitler was at the very peak of his power. Ordinary Germans were content and opposition was being ruthlessly crushed
Smiling: An unknown trio at a train station. it is likely they were friends or colleagues of the photographer An unknown trio at a train station. It is  likely they were friends or colleagues of the photographer
Rally: Soldiers and civilians at a rally on the decorated streets in Berlin. This photo is believed to have been taken on Labour Day (May 1) in 1937Soldiers and civilians at a rally on the decorated streets in Berlin. This photo is believed to have been taken on Labor Day (May 1) in 1937
Bustle: A cart sells fruit on a busy Berlin streetA cart sells fruit on a busy Berlin  street

Norwegian engineer Thomas Neumann (1901-1978)  took the photos while working in Germany. The film he used was the first of its kind, and there are few similar images preserved in Norwegian collections. His colored pictures gives historians a valuable view of the interwar period.

In 2007 his photo gallery given to the  National Archives of Norway by his daughter.

Thomas Neumann trained as an electrical engineer in Dresden. After graduating in 1928 he worked in Berlin until 1933.  Neumann was a member of the National Unity party, a fascist organization and was appointed its propaganda leader in Oslo and Akershus. He left the party in 1937 and in October 1944 he was arrested for illegal activities and sent to the notorious Grini concentration camp.

Echoes of history: This street scene shows the Augustiner Keller, a beer cellar in central Berlin. Few buildings were not festooned with Nazi regalia This street scene shows the  Augustiner Keller, a beer cellar in central Berlin. Few buildings were not  festooned with Nazi regalia
Power: Hitler had consolidated his power by the mid-1930s, thanks to widespread disillusionment with the Weimar Republic Hitler had consolidated his power by the  mid-1930s, thanks to widespread disillusionment with the Weimar Republic
Youth: A little boy outside an unknown sunny square in BerlinA little boy outside an unknown sunny square in  Berlin
Order: This intimidating picture shows troops lining a boulevard festooned with swastikas in anticipation of a parade This intimidating picture shows troops lining a boulevard festooned with swastikas in anticipation of a parade
Relaxation: Berliners enjoy snacks in a sun-soaked park Berliners enjoy snacks in a sun-soaked park
Crowds: The pictures were taken by Thomas Neumann, a Norwegian engineer who worked in Germany The pictures were taken by Thomas Neumann, a  Norwegian engineer who worked in Germany
Church and state: Swastikas and a maypole outside Berlin CathedralSwastikas and a maypole outside Berlin Cathedral
Docking: Two men in suits aboard the steamer Preussen, presumably approaching GermanyTwo men in suits aboard the steamer Preussen,  presumably approaching Germany
Quiet moment: A driver leans against a state car and enjoys a cigarette. The photos show candid moments among Berliners A driver leans against a state car and enjoys a cigarette. The photos show candid moments among Berliners

One candid picture shows a Brownshirt  (a member of Hitler’s paramilitary force) lounging against a state car  in front of a building draped with the maligned Nazi symbol.

On 30 January 1933, President Hindenburg, under pressure from Franz von Papen, appointed Hitler as Chancellor of Germany.  Shortly after the Fuhrer seized power.

The Nazi government restored prosperity and ended mass unemployment using heavy military spending. Extensive public works were also undertaken, including the construction of the Autobahns, to boost employment.

Just two years later Germany would invade Poland and begin the most destructive war the world has ever seen. An estimated 60 million people lost their lives as a result of the Second World War and the global political landscape changed forever.

Ripple: The 1937 May Day celebration was also a celebration of 700 years of Berlin's history The 1937 May Day celebration was also a  celebration of 700 years of Berlin’s history
Grand: The Messe Berlin situated in Berlin-Westend. It was completed in 1937The Messe Berlin situated in Berlin-Westend. It  was completed in 1937 yet heavily bombed by Allied aircraft
Masses: A lkarge crowd in Berlin, presumably in connection with Labour Day A large crowd in Berlin, presumably in  connection with Labor Day
Force: In this picture we see military personnel father beneath decorations. An officer appears to be inspecting the men  In this picture we see military personnel father beneath decorations. An officer appears to be inspecting the men
Overseer: A guard in a pristine white uniform looks on at a gathering crowdA guard in a pristine white uniform looks on  at a gathering crowd
Civilians: Walkers on a mystery German street. Eight years later it would have been filled with Russian, British and American troopsWalkers on a mystery German street. Eight years later it would have been filled with Russian, British and American  troops
Serene: An unknown park in Berlin. The heat of the summer of 1937 meant sprinklers were required to keep the grass verdantAn unknown park in Berlin. The heat of the summer of 1937 meant sprinklers were required to keep the grass verdant
History: Flags snap and flap in the breeze among a throng of Germans celebrating May day Flags snap and flap in the breeze among a throng of Germans celebrating May day
Colourful: Berliners gather to look at a giant maypole outside the Berlin City CathedralBerliners gather to look at a giant maypole outside the Berlin City Cathedral

Attribution: Sam Webb

As Much Fun as Stripping Paint

Prototype robots autonomously strip paint from aircraft using lasers

Team of robots decoating a cargo plane
Team of robots decoating a cargo plane

If you think stripping paint off an end table can be a messy, time consuming job, imagine removing paint and other coatings from an aircraft like the C-130 transport plane. Tasked with developing a robotic system that would take such a chore out of the hands of maintenance personnel, Carnegie Mellon University’s National Robotics Engineering Center (NREC) and Concurrent Technologies Corporation (CTC) of Johnstown, Pennsylvania, developed a team of robots that gets the job done – using laser beams, no less.

Close up of Laser Removal Arm

The prototype robots are being tested at the Hill Air Force Base in northern Utah as part of a program sponsored by the National Defense Center for Energy and Environment to develop ways to cut down on the labor costs, health hazards and environmental problems of repainting military planes. CTC is building six autonomous, mobile robots that work in teams to remove paint and other exterior coatings from fighter and transport planes.

Coating removal system

The large robots consist of a mobile platform on which is mounted a large, articulated arm that moves up and down on hydraulic lifts. On the end of each arm is an array of sensors that allow the arm to glide evenly over the plane’s surface and a continuous wave laser that removes the paint in selective layers. The sensors can also assess the plane’s condition as they go. The speed at which they work needs to remain even so that the laser can strip the paint without overheating the plane’s skin. Meanwhile, a custom High Efficiency Particulate Air (HEPA) system safely collects paint debris as it is removed from the aircraft.

How many robots are required for each team depends on the aircraft. Two robots are enough for a fighter, but four robots might be needed for a cargo plane. The system controlling the robots generates plans for stripping the plane, which can be updated as the job proceeds. It also “virtually” masks areas of the plane that shouldn’t be touched, so maintenance crews don’t have to run about with masking tape and paper.

Mobile robot teams

Using robots means that plane maintenance can carry on around the clock, but it also offers other advantages. For one thing, since they operate autonomously, crews aren’t exposed to harmful chemicals or laser light. According to Jim Arthur, CTC principal process engineer and project manager, “automated laser decoating is expected to significantly reduce labor, waste volume, environmental risk, and overall cost.”

The system is currently in the testing and demonstration phase, but NREC/CTS foresee the robots being used to not only strip, but to also apply paints and coatings as well as inspecting aircraft and doing maintenance and repair work.

Attribution:  , Real Clear Science