Wednesday, November 30, 2011

The Lads from Top Gear Take 10 Downing Street

Well, not exactly "take" 10 Downing Street....they used the residence of the British Prime Minister as a backdrop for filming a Top Gear Challenge. Jeremy Clarkson and British Prime Minister David Cameron are friends and it was all done to highlight British Goods via a road trip to India for the Top Gear Boffins.

The US version of Top Gear was dreadful and the presenters they had could not replicate the chemistry that goes on between Clarkson, Hammond and May.

Can't wait until this episode shows up on BBC America. They are Brilliant.

Don't mind us Prime Minister: Jeremy Clarkson and crew films Top Gear's Christmas special... outside Number 10
By Amy Oliver UK Mail
29th November 2011

Those worried that Jeremy Clarkson has designs on Number 10 and a new career in politics shouldn't panic.

The 51-year-old presenter was only outside the Prime Minister's residence today to shoot scenes for the Top Gear Christmas special.
He was joined by fellow presenters James May, 48, and Richard Hammond, 41.

All were tight-lipped about the reason for their visit and a BBC spokesman refused to confirm or deny whether David Cameron is likely to star in the 90-minute show. They had to stop filming when Mr Cameron emerged from Number 10 to go to hear George Osborne's Autumn Statement.

Clarkson is a friend of the Prime Minister and the pair exchanged a few words before Mr Cameron was driven away.

They had to stop a second time because of a news helicopter hoping to film Mr Cameron's journey, that was hovering overhead.

The Top Gear trio journey to India this year in yet another epic adventure that sees them try to fix Britain's economy through trade promotion.

The show's producer Andy Wilman, today explained on the Top Gear blog that the team were trying to assist Mr Cameron, who a few months ago, said Britain must become a favoured trading partner of India.

'Top Gear, we thought, could help solve this problem with a trade mission, flying the flag for UKPLC,' Wilman wrote.

'Our plan was to drive across India, drumming up interest in British goods, advertising the peerless standards of British skills, British nous, British Britishness.

'We would make the Indians think: “No, we shall not buy mayonnaise from Belgium, but Angel Delight and Kendal Mint Cake from the British."'The three men were given a rather handsome budget of £7,000 each to purchase a car that would not only get them from one end of India to the other, but also represent dear old Blighty.

Clarkson chose a 1995 Celebration edition Jaguar XJS 4.0 litre, while Hammond purchased a classic Mini Cooper.Meanwhile May decided he wanted a Rolls-Royce, but had to make do with a 1976 Rolls-Royce Shadow.

They started in Mumbai before driving North through Delhi and into the Himalayas.

Whether all three motors made it to 14,000 feet is unknown.
'You'll just have to tune in to find out,' the BBC spokesman said.

All three presenters say they are recognised in countries around the world, but Hammond insists they never set out to make such a popular show.

Speaking to the Huffington Post he said: 'All we set out to do ten years ago was make the best car show we possibly could. The minute we start trying to contrive it to be something else, I'm sure it will stop working.'

And of the unique chemistry between the threesome he added: 'It's never changed. From day one, if Jeremy crashes into something, I will laugh, and I expect him to in return. You couldn't fake it, people would soon suss us out.


Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Sorry OWS, they've been busy protecting your freedom


To the OWS crowd, the media and their political allies - While OWS has been causing trouble for the citizens of our cities, having no impact on the 1% they protest, driving up overtime costs on our taxpayers and making a general health hazard/crime issues for all, others were busy providing all with FREEDOM.

Of course, that isn't as "trendy" as camping out in the city and protesting. After all, who wants to be reminded that while OWS whines about the need for others to pay their bills, our military pays for their freedom each and every day.

Remember that while we sit home safe, others risk all to provide that freedom. They are the true 1% as they represent the BEST our country has to offer.

Marines and Dogs.....Semper Fidos

Marines love Dogs. The USMC are the best fighting force devised by man but most of them have a real soft spot when it comes to our 4 legged friends.

Case in point - A small puppy wandered up to U.S. Marines from Alpha Company, 1st Battalion 6th Marines, in Marjah, Afghanistan. After following the Marines numerous miles, a soft hearted Marine picked the puppy up and carried the puppy in his drop pouch.

I can understand and while it is against regulations for the Marine to have the puppy, Command turns a blind eye to this as at places like Marjah, having a dog there provides both security and something to give the Marines a touch of home.

Caring for a small pup gives each Marine in that Battalion something to warm their heart. To see the caring this pup will get shows that our Marines care for those who need them the most.

Semper Fidos to the U.S. Marines from Alpha Company, 1st Battalion 6th Marines, in Marjah, Afghanistan. Take care of that pup.

Monday, November 28, 2011

Let's get ready to rumble.....U.S. Rep. Barney Frank will not seek re-election

Let the games begin....There are 5 professional sports in Massachusetts - Baseball, Football, Hockey, Basketball and POLITICS (with the latter being a blood-sport)

Rep. Frank stepping down will set off a donnybrook of candidates vying for this open seat. The DEMS (statewide, Ms. Pelosi and The President) are likely wetting themselves with worry as there is a real possibility that this open seat could go to the GOP.

Well sit back and watch the fireworks as this story will dominate the political news here like the Patriots running up on the Super Bowl. Let's hope we get someone who can do more for the taxpayers than Barney did as he was a tool of the DEMS and ineffective as a watch guard of the taxpayer's money. His record will be seen as a major reason Freddie Mac/Fannie Mae were able to waste Billions of taxpayers $$$.

Don't let the door hit you on the way out Barney.


U.S. Rep. Barney Frank will not seek re-election
By Hillary Chabot And Natalie Sherman Monday, November 28, 2011 http://www.bostonherald.com U.S. Politics

Longtime U.S. Rep. Barney Frank won’t be running for re-election in 2012 ending a sometimes controversial, all the time outspoken tenure.

Frank, 71, has served in Congress since 1980. He will take questions about his decision to relinquish his seat at 1 p.m. today at Newton’s City Hall, his office said.

Frank represents the 4th Congressional District, which was redrawn this fall as part of a series of redistricting changes prompted by the state’s relatively slow population growth.

Frank’s district, which previously looped from Brookline around some of the more conservative suburbs down to New Bedford, lost that Democratic stronghold. The map also eliminated one of the state’s 10 seats in the House, a change that had prompted widespread speculation that the 16-term congressman could retire.

In 2010, Frank faced an unusually tough re-election campaign against Republican Sean Bielat, a former Marine and already, Republican Elizabeth Childs of Brookline, a state mental health commissioner under former Gov. Mitt Romney, had announced her intention to challenge Frank in next year’s race.

Bielat said the changes made during the redistricting process likely made re-election more difficult for Frank.

“I think the realities of this district are a lot less favorable now and he had a tough time last time,” said Beilat, who isn’t sure whether he will run again. He and his wife just had a baby. “I’m still making up my mind about that. We’re talking very seriously about it, but we haven’t made any decisions.”

Frank sits on powerful committees in Washington, including the Financial Services Committee and in 2010, he ushered through the landmark financial regulation bill that bears his name. But his ties to mortgage agencies Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac made him a target for Republicans.

New England Patriots take down Philly

Sunday was a good day for football. The Patriots rolled over the Eagles like they were playing a Junior Varisty team. Philadelphia gave up any credibility when they hired Michael Vick, and while he didn't play yesterday, I was glad that New England ripped Philly apart to demonstrate who is the best in the league.

Philly fans were all over their team and staff....Boos were heard early and often. Rightly so. Philly is a tough town and they expect better from their team. For my part, I was glad to see Tom Brady do his best to embarrass Philadelphia at home.

Next week, the 0-11 Indianapolis Colts come to Foxboro. May be the UN will step in to stop the slaughter before game time....we shall see.


Patriots 38, Eagles 20
Brady (three TDs) and Patriots soar against Young and Eagles
By Shalise Manza Young
Boston Globe / November 28, 2011

PHILADELPHIA - Early on yesterday - very early on - it looked as if the Patriots would be challenged by the backs-against-the-wall Eagles.

But then Vince Young showed why he’s been relegated to backup status, Philadelphia showed the type of undisciplined play that’s led to a talented roster being now a near-certainty to miss the playoffs, Tom Brady showed that he is still the reigning NFL MVP, and the Patriots rolled to a 38-20 win at Lincoln Financial Field.

New England is 8-3 and remains tied with Houston, Baltimore, and Pittsburgh for the best record in the AFC. The Patriots even got some help yesterday from their nemeses, the Jets, when New York pulled out a home win over the Bills. New England already has swept the Jets, with one of their three losses coming in Buffalo in September.

“It was a tough week, definitely it was a tough week,’’ a chatty coach Bill Belichick said. “The Eagles are a hard team to get ready for, they have a lot of good players. And the players had a short week [because of a Monday night game against the Chiefs], we were banged up.

“So I give the players a lot of credit for sucking it up and not just physically being out there, but mentally . . . all the preparation and film work and the studying that they did, the extra meetings that they did to really prepare for this game.’’

Eagles fans grew so frustrated by the ineptitude of their team - the squad Young called a “dream team’’ in the preseason thanks to the high-profile free agent signings and trades it made - that they began chanting “Fire Andy!’’ in the third quarter, calling for longtime coach Andy Reid to go.

Reid is the longest-tenured coach in the NFL, having been at the helm in Philadelphia since 1999.

“The way we played, I can understand,’’ said Reid.

The Eagles (4-7) took a 7-0 lead just 2:17 into the game.

Young hit Riley Cooper on a 58-yard bomb on the third play of the game. Cooper, a 6-foot-3-inch second-year wideout, was on the field because Philly’s top receiver, Jeremy Maclin, was injured and unable to play.

Cooper was brought down at the 4, and after two handoffs to NFL leading rusher LeSean McCoy, the Eagles were in the end zone.

The Patriots did little on their first drive, and the Eagles went ahead, 10-0, on their second possession after another long play.

This time Young hit DeSean Jackson for 44 yards over the middle, which put Philadelphia well into Patriots territory. The Eagles got to the 25 before the drive stalled with a tipped pass and two drops. Rookie Alex Henery converted a 43-yard field goal at 8:19 of the first.

“The Eagles, they’re a great team despite their record,’’ defensive lineman Andre Carter said. “We knew they were blessed with offensive weapons. Unfortunately they got us on a deep ball; that’s something we have to eliminate. That will be key for us, as well as stopping the run and getting off the field on third down.’’

They did that yesterday, as Philadelphia didn’t convert a third-down opportunity until the third quarter and finished 4 for 13.

The Patriots settled in during their second chance on offense. Aided by two third-down penalties on Philly - one for 12 men on the field and the other for offsides - that gave them a fresh set of downs in each case, Brady was 4 for 4 on the 12-play drive. BenJarvus Green-Ellis also got the ball six times, the final one for a 4-yard touchdown with 1:27 left in the first.

“We have a lot of veteran-type guys that understand it’s a long game,’’ receiver Wes Welker said. “Even though we were down, 10-0, we put a touchdown on the board and put pressure on them. I think it’s guys stepping up and knowing we have to stay resilient no matter what happens in the game.’’

Brady finished with his seventh 300-yard game of the season, completing 24 of 34 passes for 361 yards, three touchdowns, and no interceptions. He was sacked once and took a few early hits.

Logan Mankins said it took time for the Patriots’ offensive line to adjust to the speed of Philadelphia’s defensive linemen. He tipped his cap to Cullen Jenkins, whom he was tasked with containing; Jenkins got the first hit on Brady, during New England’s opening possession.

New England took the lead early in the second quarter and never looked back.

Deion Branch, who was questionable for the game with a hip injury, had a pretty 63-yard catch-and-run, by far his longest play of the season. Just before he would have been forced out of bounds, Branch stopped and cut back toward the middle of the field, gaining 15 more yards before being brought down at the 1. He lowered his shoulder to try to get the touchdown.

“I tried to run over the tackler, but I didn’t get in,’’ Branch said. “I didn’t make the play myself; all credit goes to the front line and Tom. When Tom scrambles, everybody wants the ball. We work on that in practice all the time.’’

Green-Ellis got the touchdown from a yard out with 13:12 to go in the second, with reserve offensive lineman Donald Thomas acting as fullback.

The play before Branch’s catch, on-the-roster-again Tiquan Underwood missed his chance to announce himself to New England fans. Underwood, a long, fast receiver, received snaps ahead of Taylor Price, who was active but essentially glued to the bench.

Brady hit a wide-open Underwood streaking down the left numbers with an on-the-money pass - and it went off his hands. By his reaction, he may have lost the ball in the lights.

A couple of plays after the Patriots touchdown, Antwaun Molden may have gotten away with pass interference, but he made a nice play on a ball intended for Jackson and returned it to the Philadelphia 34. But the turnover went for naught when Stephen Gostkowski missed a 39-yard field goal attempt wide right.

Still, the Patriots went into the half with a 24-13 lead after a broken coverage led to Welker finding himself wide open near the goal line for a 41-yard touchdown and Gostkowski hit from 45 yards out with 51 seconds to go before the half. In between, the Eagles couldn’t get into the end zone despite having a goal-to-go at the 5 and settled for a chip-shot field goal.

Welker said of his touchdown that the Patriots had run the same play earlier in the game and he noticed that safety Nate Allen bit hard on the play fake. If they called the play again, Welker told Brady he’d run a stutter-go.

It unfolded exactly as the receiver thought it would - Brady ran play-action to Danny Woodhead, Allen bit, and Welker blew past him.

New England got the ball back to start the second half and stayed in the no-huddle it had used with such efficacy late in the first half. Welker scored again, this time on a 9-yard pass, diving over the goal line at the left pylon (he was close enough to being out of bounds that the play was reviewed but upheld) to give the Patriots a 31-13 lead.

It was the eighth touchdown of the season for Welker, tying the career high he set in 2007, his first season with New England.

Rob Gronkowski caught a 24-yard pass from Brady at 8:35 of the fourth quarter to close out the Patriots’ scoring.

“He’s a great player,’’ Philadelphia cornerback Asante Samuel said of Brady. “They had the running game working and they had the passing game working. They were working on all cylinders. We couldn’t figure anything out.’’

Sunday, November 27, 2011

Not the answer NH voters or anyone else needs....

The Manchester Union Leader has been NH's most conservative newspaper and has been a key endorsement for any GOP candidate looking to win NH. While it is a sought after distinction, by no means is it an automatic lock for the endorsed candidate to win NH's primary based off this endorsement.

That brings us to the 2012 primary and the Union Leader's endorsement of Newt Gingrich. Intellectually, Gingrich has the ability to work ideas and review complex problems. He can give thoughtful reviews of key issues and history, but lacks the type of presentation that allows voters to want him as a leader. His style is abrasive and dismissive. He holds a pretty high opinion of his own thoughts and acts condescending to others. He may attract some of the "hard right" of the GOP but he doesn't get the center right or the middle which are both key to winning the White House.

In short, a vote for Newt ( How can anyone think a guy with a name like " Newt " can be President ?) is a vote to keep the feckless idiot that is President in the White House. Gingrich will alienate too many voters and give the left all the ammunition they need to prop up the " Vacationer-in-Chief". The GOP is not strong on leaders this election cycle but I am sure that Newt Gingrich is not the answer, and that is why his rise in the polls has been a delight to President Clinton and other DEMS.

NH will have to think long & hard about the choice they make but if I know my neighbors to the north, they have no more love for Newt than I. He is not the answer we need after suffering for the past three years under the lefty loon that is keeping the seat warm at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue. Sorry Union Leader, you whiffed on this one.

If the Union Leader thinks Newt Gingrich is the "answer", it must have been a pretty dumb question they were asked.

Union Leader endorses Gingrich
By MAGGIE HABERMAN 11/27/11 Politico.com

The Manchester Union Leader, New Hampshire's most influential paper, picks Newt Gingrich as its candidate of choice in an editorial today (no link yet, but text provided by POLITICO's Ginger Gibson) across the top of the front page.

Key points in the endorsement, made by publisher Joe McQuaid:

America is at a crucial crossroads. It is not going to be enough to merely replace Barack Obama next year.

We are in critical need of the innovative, forward-looking strategy and positive leadership that Gingrich has shown he is capable of providing...

Readers of the Union Leader and Sunday News know that we don’t back candidates based on popularity polls or big-shot backers. We look for conservatives of courage and conviction who are independent- minded, grounded in their core beliefs about this nation and its people, and best equipped for the job.

We don’t have to agree with them on every issue. We would rather back someone with whom we may sometimes disagree than one who tells us what he thinks we want to hear.

Newt Gingrich is by no means the perfect candidate.

But Republican primary voters too often make the mistake of preferring an unattainable ideal to the best candidate who is actually running.

It's the most significant and impactful endorsement in the GOP race so far, and solidifies Gingrich's standing as the alternative to Romney as the race heads into the final pre-Iowa caucuses stretch.

The endorsement, of course, has no bearing on Gingrich in Iowa, and given the competition between the two states, is not likely to be a boost there.

Close observers of the Union Leader had assumed Gingrich as the likely choice when the paper's edit-heads said yesterday there would be an endorsement within the next 24 hours. It was never going to be Jon Huntsman, who despite working the state for months has been the subject of criticism by the editorial page.

Mitt Romney, however, who is ahead in the polls in a state where he has invested years campaign, had worked hard to court Union Leader officials. Reid Epstein took a memorable picture of Romney sitting next to McQuaid at a recent Manchester event, in stark contrast to Herman Cain, who had blown off the paper's editorial board meeting after his campaign couldn't agree with the paper on the length of the interview.

Romney has assiduously courted the paper, and so it remains to be seen whether all that effort amounts to a lessening of the editorial page's boosting of Gingrich (and any negativity about Romney), especially after 2007, when the paper endorsement McCain and was sharply critical of the former neighbor state governor.

The best outcome for Romney would have been an endorsement, but the second-best would be a bit of restraint in the paper's approach to him

Saturday, November 26, 2011

US Navy SEAL Ethos - A Leadership Lesson

I was watching a video posted on Neptunus Lex which featured a General from the Netherlands describing why he had chosen to take up the life of a warrior. It is a question many in service are asked as many who have not served wonder why anyone would choose the life of a Soldier, Marine, Sailor or Airman.

The Ranger Up website features a T-shirt that talks about wolves and sheep. Wolves are those who wish the sheep harm and the sheep are the citizens. The term sheep is not used derogatorily, as it stands to say that most people look to live peaceably and do not wish harm to others. Then there are Sheepdogs. While they looks like the wolf, no Sheepdog will ever harm a sheep. Their purpose is to protect and defend. Rangers are a special breed, just like the Sheepdogs. They live to protect the flock.

I am a student of Leadership, and came across the US Navy SEAL Ethos. While I was not a SEAL, I was able to know a few during my time in service. They are the pinnacle of what all warriors drive to achieve. Their Leadership and Ethos succinctly describes the reasons why we serve.

Enclosed is the SEAL Ethos. While only a few will be a SEAL, they serve as an example to all others in service. All can benefit from their "Leadership by Example".


From Navyseals.com -

SEAL ETHOS

United States Navy SEAL

In times of war or uncertainty there is a special breed of warrior ready to answer our Nation’s call. A common man with uncommon desire to succeed. Forged by adversity, he stands alongside America’s finest special operations forces to serve his country, the American people, and protect their way of life.I am that man.

My Trident is a symbol of honor and heritage. Bestowed upon me by the heroes that have gone before, it embodies the trust of those I have sworn to protect. By wearing the Trident I accept the responsibility of my chosen profession and way of life. It is a privilege that I must earn every day.

My loyalty to Country and Team is beyond reproach. I humbly serve as a guardian to my fellow Americans always ready to defend those who are unable to defend themselves. I do not advertise the nature of my work, nor seek recognition for my actions. I voluntarily accept the inherent hazards of my profession, placing the welfare and security of others before my own.

I serve with honor on and off the battlefield. The ability to control my emotions and my actions, regardless of circumstance, sets me apart from other men.Uncompromising integrity is my standard. My character and honor are steadfast. My word is my bond.

We expect to lead and be led. In the absence of orders I will take charge, lead my teammates and accomplish the mission. I lead by example in all situations.

I will never quit. I persevere and thrive on adversity. My Nation expects me to be physically harder and mentally stronger than my enemies. If knocked down, I will get back up, every time. I will draw on every remaining ounce of strength to protect my teammates and to accomplish our mission. I am never out of the fight.

We demand discipline. We expect innovation. The lives of my teammates and the success of our mission depend on me - my technical skill, tactical proficiency, and attention to detail. My training is never complete.

We train for war and fight to win. I stand ready to bring the full spectrum of combat power to bear in order to achieve my mission and the goals established by my country. The execution of my duties will be swift and violent when required yet guided by the very principles that I serve to defend.

Brave men have fought and died building the proud tradition and feared reputation that I am bound to uphold. In the worst of conditions, the legacy of my teammates steadies my resolve and silently guides my every deed. I will not fail.

USMC to leave Helmand in 2012 - A case of what is needed or is this being done for political gains ?

The Commandant of the Marines was out in Helmand Province to see the troops and to spend Thanksgiving Day with them, but he was also there to let them know that this mission is not going to continue for long. It appears the USMC has been given new marching orders and they are preparing to depart Afghanistan much sooner than previously planned.

This is likely based on fiscal and political issues, not what is needed on the ground. While it is true that Afghanistan needs to stand up for itself, and man it's own defense, the nature of the fight there shows that if we leave too soon, the country will fall back into chaos. The efforts we have provided over 10 years could all be for naught.

I am glad the Marines will be leaving but is it the right move or are they being pressured to fulfill the President's political goals?? There have been too many times over the last three years where Obama's personal political goals have been placed ahead of what is right and I hope that this is not one of those cases.

Semper Fi to the USMC and the troops in Helmand. I was there and have a greater understanding what you are dealing with on a daily basis than the POLS in Washington DC.


Marines to wind down Afghan combat in 2012
By ROBERT BURNS AP –
CAMP LEATHERNECK, Afghanistan (AP)
— U.S. Marines will march out of Afghanistan by the thousands next year, winding down combat in the Taliban heartland and testing the U.S. view that Afghan forces are capable of leading the fight against a battered but not yet beaten insurgency in the country's southwestern reaches, senior U.S. military officers say.

At the same time, U.S. reinforcements will be sent to eastern Afghanistan in a bid to reverse recent gains by insurgents targeting Kabul, the capital.

Gen. James F. Amos, commandant of the Marine Corps, said in an Associated Press interview that the number of Marines in Helmand province will drop "markedly" in 2012, and the role of those who stay will shift from countering the insurgency to training and advising the Afghan security forces.

The change suggests an early exit from Afghanistan for the Marine Corps, even as the prospects for solidifying their recent successes are uncertain.

"Am I OK with that? The answer is 'yes,'" Amos said. "We can't stay in Afghanistan forever."

He added: "Will it work? I don't know."

At stake is President Barack Obama's pledge to win in Afghanistan — the war he touted during his 2008 presidential campaign as worth fighting, while pledging to get out of Iraq. Facing a stalemate in 2009, Obama ordered an extra 30,000 U.S. troops to Afghanistan — including about 10,000 Marines to Helmand province — on the belief that if the Taliban were to retake the government al-Qaida would soon return to the land from which it plotted the 9/11 attacks.

Also at stake are the sacrifices of the nearly 300 Marines killed in Afghanistan over the past three years.

Weighing against prolonging the conflict is its unsustainable cost and what author and former Defense Department official Bing West has called its "grinding inconclusiveness."

In a series of pep talks to Marines in Helmand this past week, Amos said the Marine mission in Afghanistan would end in the next 12 to 18 months. That is as much as two years before the December 2014 deadline, announced a year ago, for all U.S. and other foreign troops to leave the country.

"Savor being out here together," Amos told Marines on Thanksgiving at an outpost along the Helmand River called Fiddler's Green, "because it's going to be over" soon.

He was referring only to the Marines' role, which is limited mainly to Helmand, although there also are Marine special operations forces in western Afghanistan. The U.S. military efforts in Kandahar province and throughout the volatile eastern region are led by the Army, along with allied forces.

Helmand and neighboring Kandahar for the past two years have been the main focus of the U.S.-led effort to turn the tide against a resilient Taliban insurgency. In that period, the Taliban and other insurgent networks have grown bolder and more violent in Afghanistan's eastern provinces where they have the advantage of sanctuary across the border in Pakistan and where U.S. and NATO forces are spread more thinly than in the south.

During two days of visiting Marine outposts throughout Helmand this week, Amos touted progress against the Taliban and was told by Marine commanders that plans are well under way to close U.S. bases, ship war equipment home and prepare for a major drawdown of Marines beginning next summer. Amos declined to discuss the number of Marines expected to leave in 2012, but indications are that 10,000 or more may depart.

There are now about 19,400 Marines in Helmand, and that is due to fall to about 18,500 by the end of this year.

Marine Gen. John Allen, the top overall commander of U.S. and NATO forces in Afghanistan, was ordered by Obama last summer to pull out 10,000 U.S. forces by the end of this year and another 23,000 by the end of September 2012. That has driven the move to accelerate a transition to Afghan control.

Allen said in an interview Thursday that winding down the Marine combat mission in Helmand makes sense because security "has gotten so much better now." He said the pullout of 23,000 U.S. forces in 2012, including an unspecified number of Marines, likely will begin in the summer, which historically is the height of the fighting season in Afghanistan. Allen said Afghan security forces, often criticized for weak battlefield performance, desertion and a lack of will, are closer to being ready to assume lead responsibility for their nation's defense than many people believe.

"The Afghan national security forces are better than they thought they were, and they're better than we thought they were," Allen said.

That is why he thinks it's safe to lessen the Marine's combat role in Helmand, reduce their numbers and put the Afghans in charge.

That approach also allows Allen to build up elsewhere. He said that in 2012 he will put more U.S. forces in eastern Afghanistan, increase the number of U.S. special operations forces who are playing a key role in developing Afghan forces, and add intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance resources. He said he plans to add "several battalions" of U.S. forces in the east. He gave no specific troop number, but a battalion usually totals about 750.

"I'm going to put a lot more forces and capabilities into the east," he said. "The east is going to need some additional forces because our intent is to expand the security zone around Kabul."

The top Marine in Helmand, Maj. Gen. John Toolan, said he is not convinced that 2012 is the best time to shift the focus to eastern Afghanistan, where the Haqqani network has taken credit for a series of spectacular attacks recently, including suicide bombings inside Kabul, the heavily secured capital. He said he believes the Taliban movement in southern Afghanistan is still the biggest threat to the viability of the central government.

Toolan said the Marines continue to make important progress against a Taliban whose leaders are showing signs of frustration and division.

"They're starting to break up," Toolan said. "There's still a lot to be done to see that these insurgents stay on their backs."

Stephen Biddle, a defense analyst at the Council on Foreign Relations and who recently visited U.S. forces in Afghanistan, said there is a risk to putting the Afghans in the lead role in Helmand as early as 2012.

"If you throw them into the deep end and put them in the lead in really tough neighborhoods you run the risk that they get their noses bloodied early in ways that could make it hard for them to recover because they lose confidence," Biddle said in an interview in Washington. On the other hand, if the U.S. and its allies wait until 2013 or 2014 to hand off to the Afghans in the most challenging areas, there would be less chance to bail them out.

"It's a dilemma with no obvious solution to it," he said

Friday, November 25, 2011

Leading from the front - Commandant of the US Marines General James Amos spends Thanksgiving Day in Helmand Province

Leadership is about taking action and being visible to those who you lead. This tennant of leadership is not lost on the Commandant of the US Marines General James Amos.

Semper Fi to the US Marines, as I spent a significant amount of time with them in Iraq and Afghanistan. They are the best and I am grateful for all that they do.

Top Marine spends Thanksgiving in Afghanistan
By ROBERT BURNS AP –


COMBAT OUTPOST HANSON, Afghanistan (AP) — A turkey trot it was not.
The U.S. Marines' top general, James Amos, sprinted up and down the Helmand River Valley in southern Afghanistan on Thursday, visiting frontline Marines at nine remote outposts to share Thanksgiving and applaud their gains against the Taliban in a region where al-Qaida hatched the 9/11 plot a decade ago.

Traveling mostly in an MV-22 Osprey, the hybrid that flies like an airplane and takes off and lands like a helicopter, Amos began shortly after daylight and finished 14 hours later — and, improbably, managed to confront just one turkey dinner.

Amos shook hands with hundreds of Marines, all veterans of tough fighting in Helmand Province, which has been a focal point of the U.S.-led strategy to counter the Taliban and other insurgent groups. The Marines have vastly improved security in Helmand over the past year, but with President Barack Obama having ordered 33,000 U.S. troops to withdraw from Afghanistan by next September, the prospects for sustaining those gains are uncertain, and the subject of debate at home.

At each stop Amos struck similar themes in pep talks to his Marines: they are coming close to winning, and when the Marine Corps leaves Afghanistan it will shift its focus to the Pacific, where he said "a whole lot of opportunities" will await a Corps no longer bogged down by land wars in the greater Middle East. He also said Thanksgiving is a time for Marines to reflect on "the unique fraternal bond" among men and women at war.

Marine Sgt. Maj. Michael Barrett, the top enlisted Marine, who accompanied Amos, said that for most troops Thanksgiving was just another day at war — until they finished their work.

"Then they'll have a meal of a lifetime," he said.
The feast was finally set for Amos when he arrived after dark at Camp Dwyer, the southern-most stop on his trip. He helped heap plates with roast turkey, baked ham and prime rib — with all the traditional fixings — and then sat amongst the troops to finish it off.

Amos said "Happy Thanksgiving" at each Marine outpost, but the troops did not seem in a festive mood — at least in the presence of their commandant. The business of war does not take a holiday. When he asked the Marines what was on their minds, they asked about the future of the Corps, the latest of Washington's stalled budget debate, the possibility of seeing some of their retirement benefits go away, and internal Marine issues.

Some conveyed a sense of confidence that Afghanistan would soon be behind them.
At Combat Outpost Hanson, one member of the 3rd battalion, 6th Marine Regiment asked, "Who do you want us to fight next, sir?" Amos said he did not know, but he reassured the Marine that there would be no shortage of security crises in the years ahead.

At Combat Outpost Alcatraz, in Sangin district where fierce fights against the Taliban have waned only recently, the top overall commander of the war, Marine Gen. John Allen, joined Amos for a pep talk to several dozen Marines.

Allen said Marines will "go home under the victory pennant," but he stressed that the struggle to degrade Taliban influence and build up Afghan security forces — in Helmand and throughout Afghanistan — is far from over.

"As big as this is, and as hard as it has been, we are going to be successful here," Allen said. "We're going to win this. We're going to liberate these people, we're going to set this country up to be a free country in one of the toughest regions in the world."

There are now about 97,000 U.S. troops in Afghanistan. All are scheduled to leave by the end of 2014.

Amos clearly relished the chance to see so many combat Marines, but his trip was no joy ride. His itinerary was a closely-held secret, and the aircraft on which he flew was heavily armed.

As a CH-53 helicopter lifted off from a barren field across a dirt highway in the northern Helmand village of Puzeh, with Amos and part of his entourage aboard, a bearded special operations Marine quipped, "Cross your fingers." And then, as the chopper rose above a billowing wall of powdery dust, the Marine added, only half jokingly, "Whew! Getting the commandant shot down at your (outpost) would not be a good thing."

Thursday, November 24, 2011

Mayflower Myths and interesting facts about Thanksgiving Day

This blog is published not far from Plymouth, MA where the Pilgrims landed in November 1620. There are many items about the Pilgrims and Thanksgiving Day which are misunderstood or have been muddled through-out history. When the Pilgrims made their first landfall on outer Cape Cod, the first Indians they encountered were the Nausets. The Nausets were not peaceful Indians and were very unhappy to see the Pilgrims as the only other Europeans they had encountered had taken men as slaves. That first encounter pushed the Pilgrims to go on to Plymouth instead.

When they arrived at Plymouth, they found signs of settlements, but no Indians. The winter was upon them and they struggled to make shelter and survive. Many were sick from the voyage and many died that first cold winter. In the Spring, they were barely hanging on when they greeted by an Indian named Samoset. He spoke english and that shocked the Pilgrims. Samoset was friendly which delighted the Pilgrims as they thought they would have to fight all Indians.

Samoset had spent time on the Maine coast and had learned english from the European fishermen who he encountered there. Samoset was the last surviving member of his tribe who had lived in the area where the Pilgrims landed. There had been a plague that had come along in the years between 1616 -1619 that had killed all the other members of his tribe and he was tasked with mourning for them as he alone survived by being away at that time.

Samoset took pity on the Pilgrims as they were pathetically sick and malnourished. He helped them and showed them what to eat, how to grow crops and where they could find food. He also brought them to meet Massasoit, the Chief of all the tribes in the area that comprised present day SE Massachusetts and Rhode Island. Massasoit heard from Samoset that the Pilgrims were good people and Massasoit asked them their intentions. They asked to be able to stay in Plymouth and maintain a settlement.

Massasoit told them that as far as he was concerned, the land in Plymouth was cursed. Everyone there had died, and his people viewed the land as a bad place. If the Pilgrims wanted that land, they were welcome to it. This occurrence of events paved the way to the first permanent settlement of a colony in America.

Here are a few other items you might not know one of which is there is no record of the Pilgrims eating turkey. There were turkeys in the woods here but likely they enjoyed a meal of venison as there were many deer here too. The Pilgrims enjoyed a first harvest after help from Samoset and other Native Americans.


Enjoy this Thanksgiving Day with family & friends. I hope that all give thanks for what you have been given and that all enjoy a good meal today in remembrance of the Pilgrims and their Wampanoag friends.

Mayflower Myths - From History.com

The Mayflower brought the group of English settlers now known as the Pilgrims to North America. Leaving England in the fall of 1620, the Pilgrims were attempting to land near the mouth of the Hudson River, but instead ended up in Cape Cod Bay. Plymouth, the colony established there by the Pilgrims in 1621, became the first permanent European settlement in New England. The story of the Pilgrims and their harvest feast has since become one of best-known in American history, but you may not know it as well as you think. Discover the facts behind these well-known Thanksgiving myths!

Myth: The first Thanksgiving was in 1621 and the pilgrims celebrated it every year thereafter.
Fact: The first feast wasn't repeated, so it wasn't the beginning of a tradition. In fact, the colonists didn't even call the day Thanksgiving. To them, a thanksgiving was a religious holiday in which they would go to church and thank God for a specific event, such as the winning of a battle. On such a religious day, the types of recreational activities that the pilgrims and Wampanoag Indians participated in during the 1621 harvest feast--dancing, singing secular songs, playing games--wouldn't have been allowed. The feast was a secular celebration, so it never would have been considered a thanksgiving in the pilgrims minds.

Myth: The original Thanksgiving feast took place on the fourth Thursday of November.
Fact: The original feast in 1621 occurred sometime between September 21 and November 11. Unlike our modern holiday, it was three days long. The event was based on English harvest festivals, which traditionally occurred around the 29th of September. After that first harvest was completed by the Plymouth colonists, Gov. William Bradford proclaimed a day of thanksgiving and prayer, shared by all the colonists and neighboring Indians. In 1623 a day of fasting and prayer during a period of drought was changed to one of thanksgiving because the rain came during the prayers. Gradually the custom prevailed in New England of annually celebrating thanksgiving after the harvest.

During the American Revolution a yearly day of national thanksgiving was suggested by the Continental Congress. In 1817 New York State adopted Thanksgiving Day as an annual custom, and by the middle of the 19th century many other states had done the same. In 1863 President Abraham Lincoln appointed a day of thanksgiving as the last Thursday in November, which he may have correlated it with the November 21, 1621, anchoring of the Mayflower at Cape Cod. Since then, each president has issued a Thanksgiving Day proclamation. President Franklin D. Roosevelt set the date for Thanksgiving to the fourth Thursday of November in 1939 (approved by Congress in 1941.)

Myth: The pilgrims wore only black and white clothing. They had buckles on their hats, garments, and shoes.
Fact: Buckles did not come into fashion until later in the seventeenth century and black and white were commonly worn only on Sunday and formal occasions. Women typically dressed in red, earthy green, brown, blue, violet, and gray, while men wore clothing in white, beige, black, earthy green, and brown.

Myth: The pilgrims brought furniture with them on the Mayflower.
Fact: The only furniture that the pilgrims brought on the Mayflower was chests and boxes. They constructed wooden furniture once they settled in Plymouth.

Myth: The Mayflower was headed for Virginia, but due to a navigational mistake it ended up in Cape Cod Massachusetts.
Fact: The Pilgrims were in fact planning to settle in Virginia, but not the modern-day state of Virginia. They were part of the Virginia Company, which had the rights to most of the eastern seaboard of the U.S. The pilgrims had intended to go to the Hudson River region in New York State, which would have been considered "Northern Virginia," but they landed in Cape Cod instead. Treacherous seas prevented them from venturing further south.

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

The Scott Brown effect & " All Politics is local "

Things are moving in the right direction politically here in the bluest of blue states. Voters are finally seeing that having one party dominate the political landscape is NOT best for the taxpayers or citizens.

Case in point, US Senator Scott Brown from Massachusetts. He was known in his district as a State Rep. and a State Senator but not much well known statewide. He put his message out to the voters and was elected to the Senate seat that Ted Kennedy had held for over 48 years. The voters were starting to see that they needed someone who would speak for them and not just lock step to what the Democratic majority wanted.

2nd case in point is much more local, as there was an election to fill a vacant state rep's seat in my home district. The seat had been held by a democrat for over 30 years. A son of a well known political family ran with backing from the Unions.

HE LOST even though he out spent his opponent, a not as well known citizen who decided that we needed someone who could make a difference. The Unions bet heavy that they would get their candidate in but lost as voters saw that having another rubber stamp in place for the Unions was not in the best interest of the district.

IF we can get the voters to see this with the nationwide elections next November, there is a better chance for our country to move forward. If we stay as it is now, with an ineffective President and a do-nothing Senate controlled by the Democrats, we will be stuck in place. We need to elect people who will work to really make a change, not just lecture us and call us "lazy" like the President does.

It can happen and it did happen here in Massachusetts. Let's make it happen for the rest of the country too. Former Speaker of the House Tip O'Neil said, " All Politics is local." He was right.

Lakeville Republican Keiko Orrall won after being outspent
State House News Service
Posted Nov 22, 2011



LAKEVILLE Lakeville Republican Keiko Orrall bucked a campaign finance trend by defeating an opponent who outspent her during the run up to a special election in September.

Orrall’s win flipped the 12th Bristol seat from Democratic control for the first time in more than 30 years. In addition to New Bedford and Lakeville, the district includes parts Taunton, Middleboro and Freetown.

Campaign finance statistics released Monday show Middleboro Democrat Roger Brunelle, a commercial and industrial painter and 19-year member of a painters union, outspent Orrall, $39,727 to $26,179 and also benefited from $11,475 in independent expenditures from the Massachusetts Teachers Association and $6,301 from 1199 SEIU. Brunelle also received support from Lt. Gov. Tim Murray.

Orrall’s campaign contributions included $8,636 from the Marlborough Republican City Committee and $3,241 from the Republican State Committee.

Orrall won the seat given up by Stephen Canessa, a New Bedford Democrat who left to take a post at Southcoast Health Systems. Voters in Lakeville turned out in greater numbers than nearby New Bedford precincts, choosing Orrall by a three-to-one margin.

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

A year ago today....and then some










What were you doing a year ago today ? It was a Monday so many were going to work, taking care of the kids, running errands in preparation for Thanksgiving Day, etc.

But if I asked you specifically what you were doing a year ago today, would you be able to tell me ? Probably not as the days meld into each other as time passes and we lose memory of specific actions on a date as far back as a year ago.

I can tell you as it is a day that held much importance to me and many others.

A year ago today on November 22, 2010, I traveled to Washington, DC for the funeral of Lt. Robert M. Kelly, USMC. He had died in Afghanistan and was part of the contingent of Marines who had kept me safe while I spent time out in Helmand Province. Unknown to me at the time, was that he was also part of the Marine Battalion that I had served under while I was in Fallujah also. We were shipmates and had likely crossed paths while in Fallujah. I went to his funeral after learning of this splendid Marine's death and that he was in Afghanistan in Sangin. I had the honor of speaking with many Marines who were working in that area and they are our nation's best.

Back to the original point, a year ago I was in Washington, DC. 48 years ago, I was a small child at home when the news broke that we had lost President Kennedy in Dallas. I can't tell you much about that day other than my Mom wouldn't stop crying, and to a young lad like myself, that was odd. The memory of that day was being a small boy with a very sad Mom. The loss we suffered that day was great. History would be very, very different if not for the loss of President Kennedy.

Time passes and the world moves on. A thought not lost on me today as we think about those lost to war and to a sniper's bullets 48 years ago today.

Enclosed is the post I made a year ago regarding Lt. Robert M. Kelly, USMC and the services for him at Arlington National Cemetery. He was a good man and a fine Marine, serving our country. We remember him and all others who gave the ultimate sacrifice in defense of our nation.



Semper Fi Lt. Kelly, we have the watch.




US Navy Jeep - 11/22/10



ALCON -

As I have witnessed, many of the readers of this blog hold the mission that our military undertakes as serious business. There can be no more serious business than putting men & women in the uniform of our country in harm's way. I deeply appreciate the support that each of us give to this mission.

Today, I was able to fulfill part of that mission by attending the funeral services for Lt. Robert M. Kelly, USMC today at the Fort Myer Chapel, located next to Arlington National Cemetery in Washington, DC. I was able to do so because I work for an Airline since arriving back in Boston from Afghanistan, and they are the kind of company that not only allows you to get on a jet anytime you want to (or need to) but also encourages you to do so. I was encouraged to do this by my colleagues and it was approved by my supervisor. I thought about it and decided in a very short time, that it was the absolutely right thing to do, I can do it, and I should do it.

Monday Morning, Nov. 22nd, I got on a flight out of Boston and arrived at Reagan National Airport in just over an hour. Arlington National Cemetery is very close (2 1/2 miles) and I got a cab there. Of Course, the cabby didn't know about the location for the ceremony and he was able to bring me deep into the middle of Arlington National Cemetery. I got turned around for a minute and wound up back near the entrance. It gave me the opportunity to pay my respects to President Kennedy, Jacqueline Kennedy and their children who are buried there. The fact that this was November 22nd was not lost on me and seemed ironic that I would be travelling there to honor a Marine and still it happens to be November 22nd of all days. I also paid my respects at his brother's gravesites Senator Robert Kennedy and Senator Edward Kennedy. Each are buried close together near the front of the park.

Afterwards I had to find my way to the other side of the cemetery and was helped out by a park employee. I wound up on a brisk walk across Arlington National Cemetery, and emerged at the back gate which leads into Ft. Meyer. The Gate Guards pointed the way and the chapel was only 1000 yards across the base. I arrived slightly warm but no worse for the wear.

I was in line with hundreds of others, and spent part of my time speaking to young Marine Sgt. who was with friends who are also Marines, but were in civilian dress. The line was a who's-who of military with enough Two Star & Three Star Generals, Navy Captains, Marine Colonels and so many other officers that you could have filled an antique shop with all the brass. Many others there also including Policemen, Firemen and people from various groups to pay their respects. We were ushered in to the Chapel and directed to our seats by Marines as attendants. The Chapel is a bright and airy space, modern but at the same time, providing you with a sense of history.

The ceremony began with a presentation to Lt. Kelly's wife and family of the commendations awarded to him. A Purple Heart for wounds sustained in the battle he died in and a Navy/Marine Corps Commendation medal with Combat Distinguishing Device.authorized for valor (heroism) for a number of missions he accomplished including the one where he lost his life.

The services were very appropriate and the Navy Chaplain gave a great sermon about the meaning of how Christ died for us and he conquered death so that we would not need to be afraid. That Robert had simply gone on to eternal life with our Lord Jesus Christ and was waiting for friends & family when they got there. He ended his sermon with a traditional Irish Blessing (given in Gaelic) saying, " Farewell, God Bless you and see you when we meet again. "

The eulogies were given by his Brother, Capt. John Kelly, USMC and his father Lt. General John F. Kelly, USMC. His Brother went first and spoke about how his brother was a fine man, happy and as expected, the light of his families' life along with his bride, Heather. It was in the middle of his Brother's eulogy that I realized why I was drawn to be there on this day for this Marine.

Captain Kelly detailed about his Brother's career and spoke about the different assignments that Robert had held including Operation Iraqi Freedom, and specifically Operation Al Fajr in Fallujah in November 2004. It was at that moment that the Good Lord's desire to have me go became apparent to me. I was struck by the fact that not only had I been in Afghanistan with this splendid young Marine, but we had served together in Fallujah when I was there in 2004-2005. He & I were not personally acquainted, but we had served under the same Marine Command, and he was there providing security for me & my fellow Seabees. I found myself welling up and thanking the Lord for his will to push me to be there to honor this Marine as Robert was one of those who helped me while I was deployed.

His brother spoke about that the streets of our country and other countries around the world were guarded by United States Marines. He said that he was confident that the streets in Heaven were also guarded by United States Marines. He then stated, " And my Brother is one of those Marines, guarding the streets in heaven." Very touching and true, I am sure.

His father spoke next, saying first and foremost, that he was not there to eulogize his son. He stated "Anyone who is laid out for his final resting place dressed in the uniform of his country's finest, the United States Marines, and wrapped in his country's flag did not need eulogizing and his life's accomplishments are evident to all." Lt. General Kelly went on to describe that we as a country are at war with an enemy that will not go away and only wants our destruction and submission. He spoke eloquently regarding his opinion of the threat our nation faces and how that we as a country are protected by a small number of men & women who volunteer, give up their regular lives and go out to defend our nation against those who would do it harm. He said that many doubt our country but he said as long as our country produced men & women like those he spoke of, there was much hope that we would rid the world of the vile filth that wages terror against innocents.

His last statement was poignant as he described how as a Commander, he had to speak to many families and wounded Marines about the loss of their friends, sons, brothers, fathers and others. Each time, whether he wrote them a letter from overseas, or visited with them in person, he tried to imagine what they were going through and empathize with their loss.

He then stated, " I owe each and every one of them an apology as I could not imagine the depth of the pain they were going through as my wife and I have been going through it since we were notified of the loss of our son. It is unbearable. " His statement speaks volumes to a Father's love & pride for his son.

I was honored and privileged enough to be in attendance among many of our country's finest warriors, Robert's friends & family and felt that I had been called there by a force much greater than anything I can explain here with my paltry words. It was a moment I will not forget.

I had to leave at the end of the ceremonies as I had to catch the return flight to Boston and the services ended close to 2:10 with my return flight at just after 3:00. I was able to walk back across Arlington National Cemetery to the main entrance where they have cabs standing by. I imagined that somewhere in heaven, there was a Marine Lt. laughing as he watched this old Seabee hump his way back across the cemetery to the cab stand. I hope it provided all of them up there in heaven a good laugh. I regret that I was unable to attend the graveside ceremonies, but being there for his services was extraordinary. The time schedule only allowed me time to be there for the service in the chapel.

I caught a cab to the airport, checked in for the flight and was able to be back in my office in Boston by 17:00, no worse for the wear & tear but feeling that I had fulfilled and important mission Monday. Honoring one of our Country's finest, a warrior, son, brother, friend, husband and defender of our Flag.

There could be no finer mission than the one he fulfilled and I wanted to make sure I did not fail in my mission to honor him as we had shared many of the same places and experiences. He as a United States Marine and me, as a US Navy Seabee in Iraq and a contractor supporting the Marines at Camp Leatherneck, Afghanistan. He & I share a bond that was not apparent until his passing but carried no less importance after his death than it did in life. We were brothers-in-arms and that was all that mattered.

Fair Winds & following seas, shipmate. Rest easy Marine, we have the watch
.

Monday, November 21, 2011

For US Soldiers, last Thanksgiving in Iraq comes a few days early

It was November 2004 and I, along with 5000 of my Marine and Seabee shipmates were spending Thanksgiving Day in Fallujah. The Battle of Fallujah had kicked off in early November and was still going well into December 2004. Thanksgiving Day was a quiet one and all were looking forward to a good meal as during the weeks before, things had been so crazy we only got one hot meal a day. Supply convoys were having difficulty making it from Baghdad to Fallujah due to insurgents and that limited the fresh food we got.

This year, 7 years later, the troops are finishing up in Iraq and had to have Thanksgiving Day Dinner a few days early as the last DFAC will be closing down. The troops are coming home and that is a good thing. Iraq is a free country and I feel we have done what we can to assist them. From here on, it will be up to the Iraqis to develop their country and get on with self governing.

This week when you sit down with your family for Thanksgiving Day Dinner, remember that there are many still out there on duty, in many other locations, doing what is needed to ensure our freedoms. Keep them in your thoughts and prayers.


US soldiers mark last Thanksgiving in Iraq
By W.G. Dunlop (AFP) – 11/21/11
VICTORY BASE COMPLEX, Iraq
— US soldiers gathered for an early Thanksgiving dinner on Sunday due to an impending switch to field rations at a base near Baghdad, saying they are glad they will soon be going home.

The official Thanksgiving holiday in the United States is later this week, but the last "dining facility," or DFAC, at the sprawling Victory Base Complex (VBC) on Baghdad's outskirts closed on Sunday, as US forces prepare to depart.

Soldiers and contractors, about 6,600 of whom are still at VBC, dined at tables decorated with colourful paper turkeys and "Happy Thanksgiving" signs hanging overhead.

"We're going to do the Thanksgiving meal here today instead of on Thursday, because we're closing out," said 38-year-old Staff Sergeant Christopher Quimbly, the DFAC manager.

"Today on the menu, we have crab legs, turkey, ham, dressing, yams, green beans, rolls, corn bread, mashed potatoes, (and) a variety of deserts," he said.

"Over 2,000 pounds (almost 900 kilograms) of turkey, over 2,000 pounds of ham" and "probably about 3,000 pounds of mashed potatoes" are being served, he said.

But starting with dinner on Sunday, soldiers will have to make do with bagged field rations, Quimbly said.

"I'm thankful for everything here, I'm thankful every day. ... This means a lot. I've started off over here, seen this DFAC stood up, and I'm over here when it's closing down," he said.

Quimbly, who is married and has two sons and three daughters, said he is "definitely looking forward to getting home."

He arrived for this tour, his fifth, in May 2011.

"I think it's a good morale boost for everyone," Specialist Shawna McNeil, a 23-year-old on her first tour of duty in Iraq, said of the meal.

"It's good for us because we know that time's dwindling down, it's not much longer, it's the last meal -- we're at the home stretch, ready to go home.

"I think it's good for everyone to be together and have a good meal. I know a lot of people probably miss their families, so just a little something helps out," she added.

"Seeing that this is the last (cooked) meal for the soldiers here ... it's a good thing, 'cause we know we're moving out," said 45-year-old Sergeant James Scott, who is on his second Iraq deployment.

"It's been a really good experience, and they've done a really good job," he said of the meal.

"It's the beginning of closing it down, and having a new year back home," he said, adding: "I'm ready to head back to Kentucky -- just get back and relax, and be with the family."

President Barack Obama announced on October 21 that US forces would leave by the end of this year, bringing to a close an almost nine-year war.

Sunday, November 20, 2011

US Marine Sergeant Scott Moore enjoys an evening with Mila Kunis

The Marine invited Mila Kunis to the Marine Corps Ball via YouTube. She accepted and they went in style...Bravo Zulu !

Belle of the ball! Mila Kunis smoulders in stunning black gown at Marine Corps gala
By Anita Bennett - UK Mail
20th November 2011

It's proving to be quite the celebrity trend with Justin Timberlake and Kristen Cavallari among the famous faces attending military balls in recent weeks.

And last night it was the turn of Mila Kunis, who added Hollywood glamour to the annual Marine Corps Ball in tiny Greenville, North Carolina.

The Black Swan star arrived at the gala wearing a fitted black gown

According to local television station WNCT, the Oscar-nominated actress was quickly greeted by her date, Sergeant Scott Moore as she walked into the North Carolina Convention Center.
Even the military brass there seemed honoured to have the star in their midst.

'She’s going to get a chance to learn about the Marine Corps and were all going to have a great time celebrating the Marine Corps birthday,' Captain Scott Sasser told WNCT.

When asked about the event's significance, Sasser added: 'They're celebrating all of our Marine Corps history as well as the accomplishments and sacrifices they make while overseas and celebrating the lives of the fallen marines and sailors they lost while the were over there.'

Mila's date, Sgt Moore, just recently returned to the U.S. from seven months of service in Afghanistan.

He sent the actress an invitation to the Marine Corps Ball via YouTube in July while he was in Afghanistan.

In the video Sgt Moore said: 'Hey Mila, it's Sgt. Moore, but you can call me Scotty.'

Dressed in combat gear he added: 'I just want to take a moment out of my day to invite you to the Marine Corps Ball with yours truly. Take a second to think about it and get back to me. All right, bye now.'

The gathering was bittersweet after Moore's unit, lost seven of their own overseas.

While the media was not allowed inside the Ball, Mila posted pictures from the gathering on her website. Moore's unusual invitation sparked a wave of service members to invite celebrities to attend Marine Corps Balls around the country.

Justin Timberlake, who pressured his Friends with Benefits co-star to accept the invitation during an interview about their then-upcoming movie received his own YouTube invitation shortly after Kunis

The Grammy award-winning singer and actor accompanied Cpl. Kelsey De Santis to her Marine Corps ball last weekend in Richmond, Virginia.

Reality TV star Kristin Cavallari also attended a Marine Corps ball last night near Camp Pendleton in Southern California.

Cavallari attended per the request of Lance Cpl. Jonathan Burkett, who invited her around the same time Kunis received an invitation

Friday, November 18, 2011

Picture of the month

Here is the picture of the month.

November is more than half over and it is the week before Thanksgiving, the most American of all holidays.

Next week, you will likely be sitting down with family for the annual Thanksgiving Day feast. Military men & women will be doing their jobs and serving overseas away from family. Most will get a hot meal and the DFACs in Afghanistan will put on a feast. I have been there on the holiday and have seen how well our Soldiers, Sailors, Marines & Airmen get fed on this special day.

At the same time, there are those who will be at the point of the spear, like the soldier pictured here. He & his troops along with their K-9 mates will likely spend the day doing their job and hoping that a pre-packaged holiday meal finds it's way to their COP (Combat OutPost) as not all troops can be back at base to use the DFAC, regardless of the day.

Something to think about as you head to the mall, go shopping or have a drink with friends. They are out there, 24/7/365 allowing you the ability to enjoy your freedoms. Make sure they are in your thoughts and prayers. This week, Thanksgiving Day and always.

Inflation is on the rise regardless of what the idiots in Washington DC say

You don't need an economics degree to see that it costs much more today for the basics than three years ago.

Gasoline was $1.68 a gallon in early 2009 - now it is $3.35 a gallon, double the cost. The cost of food has risen by a third, hurting those who are lower income or on a fixed income (re: seniors) more than anyone. The hypocritical First Lady can bleat on all she wants about helping people eat better but her husband has made it harder for the poorest citizens to eat healthy as good food costs more, making it inaccessible to those on the lowest incomes.

Wages are stagnant as workers are not asking for raises as they fear layoffs. The basics for Thanksgiving Day Dinner will cost between 9-12% more than a year ago.

This is the " Hopey/Changey " thing we were promised by the "Vacationer in Chief"??

The American voters need to put Obama on permanent vacation and make sure his cronies go with him. They have failed in every measure of what should be done and placed the American Taxpayer in a worse place than we were three years ago. He & the Democratic Congress wasted Billions on spending to fatten up the unions and their political allies which provided no appreciable economic gains.


It is time to get back to reality, bring in some "adult" leadership and throw out President Obama and his failed administration. I only hope the GOP can place a decent candidate on the ballot.....But at this juncture, how much worse could it be ? We should have elected John McCain and that is why the McCain stickers are still on the back of my p/u truck as I want others to know where I stood three years ago. I may live in Massachusetts but I am not part of the Blue State mental midgets that voted the President into place or his feckless ally the Governor of Massachusetts, Deval " Spend-it-all " Patrick.

90% Say They're Paying More For Groceries Compared To A Year Ago
Wednesday, November 16, 2011 - Rasmussen Polls

Fed Chairman Ben Bernanke insists that the Federal Reserve is keeping inflation down, but Americans overwhelmingly say they are paying more for groceries these days and expect to pay even more in a year's time.

The latest Rasmussen Reports national telephone survey of U.S. Adults shows that 81% are at least somewhat concerned about inflation, including 47% who are Very Concerned.

Thursday, November 17, 2011

President Obama is the one who is "lazy"

The infantile idiot who has been keeping the chair warm in the White House for the last three years said that he feels that the United States has gotten a "little bit lazy" when it comes to bringing in new businesses in to the states.

Businesses have been hesitant to hire more workers due to excessively high costs and economic uncertainty. I feel businesses need to bring on more people and provide wage increases that have been missing for the past 3 years BUT the President has no room to call anyone in America " lazy " after his piss poor work ethic.

This lecturing fool has been on vacation more than any President in recent time and between him and his cow of a wife, they have been overtly lazy and wasteful with our tax dollars. If they think they can stand there and lecture Americans who have been working harder for much less over the three years of Obama's term, then they will find out how much free time they will have when the voters send Obama packing in November 2012.

Mr. President, the American people can do without your insults and lectures. Here's the opinion of a resident of Hawaii who wishes the President would stay away from Hawaii. Having been to Hawaii many times, I have to agree. Stay in Washington DC and do the work you are being paid for. YOU and your wasteful lecturing wife have had enough time off on the taxpayer's dime.

Hawaii Can Do Without President Obama's Style of Aloha

BY JAY ZABLAN - Hawaii Reporter
- I just read the Hawaii Reporter article on the cost of President Barack Obama’s last Christmas vacation and wondered why he isn't more considerate of the costs he runs up every time he visits here. With America in such dire financial straits he still thinks nothing of spending a few million here or there, especially lately on his cross-country campaign jaunts and on Canadian buses.

I endured the Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation traffic snarls when I carelessly left my Honolulu condo to visit a friend in Wahiawa, and had to wait quite a bit while the Obama entourage passed last year in Kailua. And now he announces the “good news” that he’ll be back with his family AGAIN during the holidays.

I was furious when he claimed, “Americans have been lazy and need to do a better job of selling America”. Yet his own type of “laziness” was thoughtlessly evident in not asking leaders to wear the custom-made Hawaiian shirts for the APEC group photo shoot, which would have been seen worldwide and been a boon in promoting Hawaii. He just doesn’t get it.

I believe it would be a good time for a poll on how Hawaii residents feel about his multi-million dollar Hawaii vacation expenditures and the traffic delays he causes every time he visits. Many are already upset at him for dissing Hawaii and our Aloha shirt. Oh, and Hawaii is NOT Asia.

P.S. I would gladly sign an online petition asking him to please not come back here. Hawaii can do without his manner of “Aloha”.

Jay Zablan is a resident of Oahu

The SEIU supports re-electing the President, allowing them greater access to taxpayers $$$ and more waste

Birds of a feather flocking together...It is no secret that President Obama has provided Billions of tax dollars to his union pals. Money that didn't create jobs, only fattened the coffers of his political allies. The same unions that support the OWS crowd who wants to " redistribute wealth", i.e. take it from others who earn it. The Unions have been doing that for years.

While the idea of bonuses for failing banks offends many, the idea of the unions getting more control over workers is equally offensive. Union membership is down to 12% of all workers because the Unions are there to only support the union, not the workers. The Union Leaders are no different than the businesses who they rail against. They take union dues and spend it to prop up feckless pols like President Obama, who by all measures is a failure. In that manner, they spend workers money to fund political campaigns for Pols who supply access to larger shares of our tax dollars.

The President doesn't deserve re-election and his Union thug pals need to be sent a message at the same time. Voters know that the system has been rigged in the union's favor and that's why the POLS that the unions support will be voted out. Unions served a purpose in the past, but now only exist to take taxpayers money, fatten their own coffers and drive the cost of good & services up.


Service employees union to boost efforts for Obama
By SAM HANANEL, Associated Press – 17 hours ago


WASHINGTON (AP) — The Service Employees International Union endorsed President Barack Obama's re-election bid on Wednesday, saying it would deploy its formidable political machine earlier and on a wider scale than it did four years ago.

SEIU President Mary Kay Henry said the union plans to reach out to all 2.1 million members by Labor Day and focus on getting more Hispanic and black voters to the polls.

"We're trying to do it on a scale that we've never done before," she said.

The politically powerful union is the latest labor organization to jump in with an early endorsement of the president, following the United Food and Commercial Workers Union and the National Education Association. It could signal even broader campaign spending by labor groups, which poured about $400 million to help elect Obama in 2008.

The SEIU is starting early, in part, because of reports that some Obama supporters are less enthusiastic than they were four years ago, Henry said. But while some union leaders have expressed disappointment with Obama's commitment to create jobs and willingness to back the union agenda, the SEIU has remained a steadfast supporter.

One of Obama's earliest backers in 2008, the SEIU spent about $60 million to help him win the presidential race. That led the union to become an influential voice in forming administration policy, particularly on Obama's health care overhaul plan. Former SEIU president Andy Stern has been one of the most frequent White House guests and is a member of Obama's debt commission.

Obama's campaign manager, Jim Messina, welcomed the endorsement, saying the SEIU and Obama "share many common goals,"....

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Weber the black Labrador gets a new home in England after being rescued

All for the love of a dog....It is amazing what people will do for a dog as it is something innate that humans feel for our 4-legged friends.

Our Black Lab was the same. I was walking with our two pups in a local forest area in the dead of winter when he came ambling out of the woods and took right to us. I was amazed as it was very cold and here was this little black lab all alone in the woods with no collar. I took him home as it was not the weather you would leave an animal out in for any length of time. I called the local pound and found out he was a stray who had been abandoned by a family that moved out of town. The dog officer stated he had been on the run for a few weeks. My wife and I decided that he should stay as it was inconceivable that this nice little lab could be abandoned in such a cold-hearted way. He has become part of our family and we can't imagine life without him.

This couple from England must have felt the same way about Weber as they went above and beyond, all for the love of a dog.

Couple spend £2,000 flying stray dog to Britain after falling in love with her on Caribbean holiday By Emily Allen - UK Mail

When they met on a Caribbean beach it was love at first sight - and when the holiday was over, nothing was going to keep them apart.

And finally Weber the black Labrador cross has been reunited with her loving new owners, 4,000 miles from his old home.

Paul Booth, 43, and wife Lorraine, 36, rescued the dog after spotting her wandering across a beach in Antigua as it hunted for scraps.

They decided to adopt the malnourished animal and give her a permanent home back in Britain.Now after paying £2,000 and waiting for vet checks to be completed and the six-month quarantine period to be over, the couple have been reunited with their dog.

She bounded into their arms after stepping off a long-haul flight from the Caribbean island to Gatwick Airport last week.

Mrs Booth said: 'It feels great to finally have her here. She looks exactly the same as before, but is now super-healthy.'We fell in love with her after she started following us around. In the end we just could not leave her there.'I think it is fate that led us to her and now she is settling in so well here.'

The couple, from Cotham, Bristol, headed to Antigua's idyllic Cocobay resort for a two-week holiday in January this year.They were living in a hut on a stretch of the island's scenic beach when they first noticed the black dog wandering the sands.

Mrs Booth, who owns retro sweet shop Fizzy Lips in Bristol's Broadmead shopping centre with her husband, said: 'We were in a resort where we had a hut on the beach.




'My husband went running on the beach in the morning, near an unpopulated wasteland, and this little dog came out and ran over to him.'He stopped and rubbed its nose and patted it, and she was all patchy and malnourished, and she had mange.'But she followed him up the beach and ran with him and when he got back to the hut he said to me, 'you have got to come and see this dog'.'

The couple befriended her and she began follow them around and they in turn would feed her.
Mrs Booth said: 'We were there two weeks and we went to see her every day.
'She would come to see us and sit outside our hut to wait for us, and she had such a lovely personality.'She was so thin and slept on the beach with no food, water or companions, either canine or human. It was very sad.

'How she got there no one will ever know, but she was not likely to survive for long.
'Despite, this she seemed so delighted to have any attention.'The problem in Antigua with stray dogs is very bad, and the few people over there who are trying to educate people, rescue and re-home dogs are fighting an uphill battle.'

They left money for her to be looked after when they returned home.

But when they got back to Bristol they realised they wanted the dog to be with them permanently.
Mrs Booth said: 'I just couldn't bear to go home and not find out what happened to her.
'It seemed so sad that she would probably end up getting hit by a car or just dying of starvation.
'We had two other dogs and when we got back from holiday we found out our black labrador Merlin had a cancerous tumour and later died.'

After persuading Ms Corbin to let them apply to bring Weber home, the young dog was put in quarantine at the Humane Society in Antigua for six months.The Booths also paid hundreds of pounds for her to be cleaned up and given its rabies jabs. Her flight to Gatwick cost £1,000.

Weber has now settled in to her home in the city and is already best friends with the Booths' other dog - six-year-old Labrador Cosmo. Mrs Booth said: 'She was a bit timid to start with but now is just racing around everywhere.'We take her up to the park and she absolutely loves it. She always comes back to me too. 'We could not be happier.

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Batman sees his doctor.....

For those who are not acquainted with medical charts, this may seem a little clunky but what would Bruce Wayne's doctor write into his medical record???

Likely it would read something like this :


Patient BW, DOB 2/16/1971

by Russell Saunders (Russell Saunders is the ridiculously flimsy pseudonym of a pediatrician in New England.)
November 14, 2011

Patient: Wayne, Bruce

DOB: 2/16/1971

Occupation: Industrialist

Insurance: Self-pay

Emergency Contact: Dick Grayson, XXX-269-9637

Interval History: Patient was seen for his last annual physical approximately one year ago. Since that time he has had numerous visits for acute illnesses or injuries, generally accompanied either by his companion Mr. Grayson or Alfred, a senior member of his household staff. These recent maladies appear to be in keeping with the pattern that has emerged over the past several years, in which significant medical problems are associated with odd or incongruous explanations. Most recently, patient was seen for numerous areas of lower extremity cutaneous blistering, erythema and thickening, consistent with moderate to severe frostbite. Patient had reportedly gotten lost while camping in the mountains, but could not account for how he had sustained these injuries in mid-August.

Past Medical History: As stated, patient has a somewhat lengthy and complicated medical history, best summarized by system –

Orthopedic: By far the greatest contributor to patient’s ongoing morbidity are his multiple and seemingly ceaseless musculoskeletal injuries. The most significant of these was sustained several years ago, when he was rushed to GCGH with several fractures of his lumbar vertebrae, reportedly after falling while rappelling. Skeletal series obtained at that time revealed numerous (>20) areas of orthopedic injury in various states of healing, which could not be fully explained by recent fall, including areas of all extremities and many ribs; confirmatory bone scan similarly showed many areas of increased uptake. Patient’s robust stature is not consistent with osteogenesis imperfecta, and skin biopsy was negative for abnormal collagen and P3H1 or CRTAP genetic defects. Malignancy was suspected, but eventually ruled out following oncology consultation. Patient explained most of these (and most subsequent) injuries as being the result of membership in a private and apparently quite intense mixed martial arts club. Patient has denied being the victim of domestic abuse by Mr. Grayson following indirect and direct questioning on numerous occasions.

Neurologic: Patient has been evaluated numerous times over the past several years with complaints of headache, blurry vision, memory deficits, nausea and emotional lability. As with above injuries, most of these symptoms occur following some blow to the head during MMA sparring or competition, and were diagnosed as consistent with concussion. (Patient reports that the club frowns upon protective headgear, a stand with which he seemingly complies despite numerous exhortations to do otherwise.) Following the third such episode, patient was referred to neurology due to significant concern about second-impact syndrome. While no gray matter changes in the cingulate gyrus or white matter hyperintensities were noted on magnetic resonance imaging, given history and known risk factors neurology has recommended MRI to be repeated every two years, and they are arranging for diffusion tensor imaging in the near future.

Allergic: Earlier this year, patient was again rushed to GCGH for what appeared to be severe anaphylaxis, with marked angioedema of the face and hands, and widespread urticaria. After administration of high-dose IV Solu-Medrol, patient’s angioedema resolved sufficiently for him to report “tripping into a bunch of weeds” while hiking, and he eventually left the emergency department against medical advice. On outpatient follow-up, patient was referred for urgent allergy testing given the severity of his reaction. Skin-prick testing was negative for all food allergies, but was markedly and instantly positive in reaction to all plant allergens, such that a dose of IM Decadron was administered by allergist in the office. Despite was appears to be an extraordinary hypersensitivity to phytochemicals, patient has had no further symptoms following the one episode.

Psychiatric: During most visits, patient displays a somewhat somber and flat affect. Numerous inquiries into his mood yield answers that it is “just fine,” followed by requests to change the topic of questioning. While dysthymia or frank depression is suspected (particularly considering patient’s voluntary participation in flagrantly harmful recreational activities), patient seems to have avoided any major depressive episodes. More worrisome was an episode about a year and a half ago, during which patient appeared to have a psychotic break. On arrival at GCGH, patient was found to be suffering from vivid, terrifying hallucinations, rendering him essentially incoherent and requiring high doses of both benzodiazepines and haloperidol to abate. After regaining consciousness several hours later, patient stated that the “stress of [his] job” had gotten to him. He vehemently refused evaluation by Arkham consulting psychiatrist, and eventually left the ED AMA.

Social History: Patient denies smoking, drinking or taking any illegal controlled substances. He resides with Mr. Grayson, reportedly without romantic involvement. Diet consists largely of meals prepared by private household cooking staff. He reports serially monogamous sexual relationships with female partners. When asked, he states that he “usually has proper equipment,” which is interpreted to mean that condoms are used for contraception and STI prevention.

Family History: Both parents deceased (homicide). Generally assumed to be non-contributory

Physical exam:

Temp 98.7, HR 60, RR 12, BP 113/68

General – well-nourished, well-appearing adult male in NAD; alert, oriented, cooperative

Skin – confluent, symmetrical, faintly erythematous rash extending from anterior hairline onto malar region (“from the hazmat mask they make me wear when I visit the lab”); four linear, well-healed lacerations on left pectoral (“fencing accident”). Numerous ecchymotic areas in various stages of healing

Ext – well-defined (borderline hypertrophic) musculature. Limited active ROM in shoulders, elbows, wrists, knees, ankles, consistent with healing contusion/sprain or overuse injuries in numerous joints. Normal tone, strength UE/LE bilat.

Psych – well-groomed, pleasant and conversational. A & O x3. Affect somewhat flat (baseline, as stated above)

Assessment/Plan — 40-year-old male with complicated past medical history as noted. Generally normal exam, excepting the following:

Rash — Patient advised that mask seems to be causing an irritant rash, and advised him to have lab personnel fit him with another, less occlusive size.

Resting tremor — Given risk factors stated above, there is some concern about early Parkinsonism. Will contact patient’s neurologist to have next follow-up appointment moved up.

Joint stiffness — As with previous visits, patient was advised to consider recreational activities that carry less risk of ongoing physical injury, or at very least allow himself to heal fully from previous trauma before returning to participation. Given the apparently quite aggressive tendencies of patient’s MMA club, advised him that almost any other activity he might choose is likely to confer less risk of ongoing morbidity (or even mortality). Patient responded to this advice with his usual polite indifference.

Looking more globally, there is some concern that there is an underlying illness that accounts for some of patient’s extensive symptomatology. Discussed with patient that there may be some obscure syndrome that includes brittle bones, but also propensity for severe hypersensitivity, psychiatric symptoms and skin damage. Advised him that many journals publish reports of puzzling cases, which may allow other physicians to comment helpfully about treatments or diagnoses that might be pertinent. Patient politely but emphatically refuses consent for such publication at this time.

Advised patient to limit stress, continue with (hopefully more benign form of) physical activity, continue with healthy diet. Flu shot administered. Planned follow-up in one year, sooner as needed.