Tuesday, July 31, 2012

In AFGHANISTAN, " It Ain't Over 'Til It's Over "

The great Yogi Berra once said, " It ain't over 'til it's over "
That seems to be the mantra for all things Afghanistan....

IF the enclosed news story isn't the surest sign that the 2014 "yap-yap" about Afghanistan is as worthless as any other promise made by a Politician, I'll be shocked.  There are lies and then there are damned lies. 

If the POLS would just be straight up about things, it would be so much less painful for all involved.

We need to be here  in Afghanistan for the Afghan people, our own defense interests and as a stabilizing force in the region.

No my dear friends, this game is going into extra innings....and then some.

U.S., Pakistan sign deal to allow supply routes through 2015
By Richard Leiby, Tuesday, July 31, WASHINGTON POST

ISLAMABAD, Pakistan — Pakistan will allow NATO supply convoys to cross its territory into Afghanistan until the end of 2015, one year beyond the deadline for withdrawal of U.S. combat forces there, under an agreement signed on Tuesday by U.S. and Pakistani officials.

The pact seems to close, for now, one of the most contentious chapters in the long-turbulent relationship between Washington and Islamabad, cementing cooperation by Pakistan in winding down the war in Afghanistan at least in terms of logistical assistance. Washington also has urged Islamabad to step up its participation in the peace process by bringing to the negotiating table militant groups that shelter in Pakistani’s tribal belt and regularly cross the border to attack NATO troops.

The so-called “memorandum of understanding” signed on Tuesday also provides the option for both sides to extend the deal in one-year intervals beyond Dec. 31, 2015. And it would apply to other NATO nations if they sign separate pacts with Pakistan.

Although Pakistan ended its seven-month blockade of NATO supplies earlier this month, the pact formalizes some key details, including a ban on transporting lethal supplies. And it lays out security arrangements Pakistan will provide for the thousands of container trucks and oil tankers whose routes originate at the port of Karachi.

Last week, after the war-provisioning convoys began rolling in significant numbers, Pakistan once again shut down the routes when a trucker was fatally shot in an attack attributed to the Pakistani Taliban, which has vowed to kill anyone who drives for NATO.

Pakistani officials said Tuesday that the convoys would resume only after the routes – which span hundreds of miles -- are suitably protected. Under the new arrangement, police in cities and towns would handle security until the convoys reach the restive tribal areas bordering Afghanistan, where nation’s paramilitary Frontier Corps would take over.

The pact was signed in a ceremony at Rawalpindi by a senior Pakistani defense ministry official, Rear Admiral Farrokh Ahmed, and the U.S. Embassy Chargé d'Affaires, Richard Hoagland.
The agreement formalizes the verbal agreements that the United States reached in the past with Gen. Pervez Musharraf, Pakistan’s most recent military ruler, who was forced into exile in 2008 after civilians took power.

Musharraf was able to set foreign policy and forge alliances as he saw fit. The deal he struck in the wake of the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks was a quid pro quo: Pakistan would cooperate in the war against terrorism, including allow the U.S. supply routes, in exchange for billions in aid.

The U.S. eventually designated Pakistan a “major non-NATO ally,” but that alliance, severely tested by the U.S. raid that killed Osama bin Laden, essentially collapsed after a U.S. airstrikes killed 24 Pakistani soldiers at Afghan border posts last November.

The signed agreement is significant in that it appears to have been reached with the absence of overt Pakistani military involvement, U.S. officials have said the Pakistani generals stood back to allow civilian leaders to negotiate the pact, which proved to be a slow, politicized and unwieldy process.

Some Pakistani officials have described the NATO route agreement as a watershed moment, signaling that the “one phone call” days of Washington-Islamabad relations are over, and a sign that civilian rulers, for all their struggles in solving the nation’s social and economic ills, now have a voice in foreign policy.

Monday, July 30, 2012

PRESIDENT DEADBEAT - Obama's campaign will not pay for police security at a fundraiser in Newport Beach, CA

You can't make this SHITE up.....


President Dead-Beat.

What a joke....Time to Go Mr. President....you are an embarrassment.

He likes to spend our tax dollars BUT stiffs cities & towns for a campaign event -

OMG - Obama Must Go.
latimes.com

Secret Service won't pay Newport Beach for police at Obama event

Newport Beach billed President Obama's campaign for police security at a fundraiser. The Secret Service says that security is its job, not the campaign's, but that it can't reimburse the city.


By Mike Reicher, Los Angeles Times
 July 30, 2012

A Secret Service official said Newport Beach city administrators are asking the wrong people to pay for police protection at presidential campaign events.

It's the service that is responsible for the candidates' security, not the campaigns, said Max Milien, an agency spokesman. Any cost concerns should be directed to the agency.

Newport Beach City Manager Dave Kiff billed the campaigns of President Obama and presumptive Republican nominee Mitt Romney for police security at their separate fundraisers this year in the city.

Now that the Romney campaign paid its bill, the city is left in the awkward position of trying to collect from Obama.

"We cannot reimburse any agencies," Milien said. "We make that clear from Day 1."

Milien explained that an advance team works with local law enforcement to plan road closures and other measures before a candidate's visit. If the local agency cannot afford to pay for extra security or overtime, the local officials should inform the Secret Service ahead of time, he said.

In that case, Milien said, the Secret Service would seek help from other law enforcement groups — county or state police, for example, who would not charge for the service.

"There is adequate time if an agency cannot assist us and is strapped for manpower," he said, adding that the Secret Service does not have the budget for that type of expense.

Kiff says the Police Department did raise the issue with the Secret Service before the president's visit.

"At that time, our staff was told that the Secret Service would not reimburse the city," Kiff wrote in an email, "and that we should check with the president's campaign or the DNC."

The Romney campaign paid its bill last week, about a month after the city sent its invoice. The Obama bill, on the other hand, was sent in May and has not been paid.

City spokeswoman Tara Finnigan said the city's billing system would be sending past-due notices.

About three weeks ago, the Democratic National Committee contacted the city and told officials to deal with the Secret Service.

The DNC and the Republican National Committee split their Newport Beach event proceeds with the respective campaigns.

"Any local law enforcement organization contacted by the Secret Service to assist in security should discuss matters related to costs and how to effectively manage those costs with the Secret Service," DNC spokeswoman Melanie Roussell wrote in an email Wednesday.

Meanwhile, Kiff would like the issue to go away.

"I am very tired of this story, but it will have legs again," Kiff wrote in an email to the City Council after the Orange County Register inquired about the Romney campaign's payment.

The city was "honored" to have the president in town, Kiff said, but he viewed the campaign fundraisers as private events.

"Had this been a 'business trip' — if the president came to Newport Beach to talk about one of his policies with our residents — the city would not have sent an invoice," he wrote in an email.

Newport Beach is in strong fiscal shape, with about $98 million in reserves.

The city's Finance Department recently emailed the Obama campaign a reminder about the bill instead of turning to the Secret Service, Finnigan said. City administrators did not return messages asking about their next steps.

Councilwoman Leslie Daigle, a Republican, said, "It's the city's intention to apply its usual policies and send the bill to collections."

Obama spoke at a private home in Corona del Mar in February, and Romney held his May fundraiser at the Balboa Bay Club. The $35,000 bill for Obama was more than three times as much as Romney's. Kiff said the difference was due to the added street closures and additional security requirements for the president.

Costa Mesa police did not bill the Romney campaign for an event this week because it did not require additional police personnel, city spokesman Bill Lobdell said.


mike.reicher@latimes.com

Sunday, July 29, 2012

Local Weather Forecast in Boston.....Looks legit....

Being overseas in Afghanistan and away from home in the Boston area, I check in on the news & weather back home to see how things are back home.....When I logged on to the WBZ Weather page, it appears that "Global Warming" is really not happening in Boston -

Here is what the forecast was for Sunday 29 July 2012


Here is the link - http://weather.boston.cbslocal.com/US/MA/Boston/KBOS.html

I think if it gets down to " 4 " degrees tonight, a large number of locals will be caught by surprise.  It is likely they corrected their error by now but looking at the weather forecast they posted, it seems likely that the WBZ weather crew had quite a large number of beers last night.

Saturday, July 28, 2012

Momma Bird and the Moon over Kandahar

It is in places like this that you find the unexpected.....I was on the balcony for a cigar and there behind my A/C unit was Momma Bird sitting on her nest.....she was looking at me to make sure I wasn't there to hurt her or her eggs.....No worries Momma Bird, you are among friends.



The Moon was half full and lighting up the night

Thursday, July 26, 2012

" You didn't build that..."

It is very likely he would have been thrown over the side......sounds like a great idea.

What an idiot.  A failure who has been exposed by his own words....Time to go Mr.Obama.

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

New Issue at Olympics in London - SQUIRRELS!!!

The Olympic Volleyball players have to watch out for more than sand in their bikinis....now they have to watch out for the Squirrels !!!

Talk about a battle in Britain....

Squirrels disrupt beach volleyball at Olympics - Orange.uk News

Olympic beach volleyball players have come across an unexpected handicap - squirrels burying their nuts on their courts.

The rodents have been burying beechnuts and acorns on six sandy practice courts at London's St James's Park.
And bikini-clad players have been left grimacing as they land barefoot on the squirrel snacks.
Groundsmen now have to rake the sand before practice sessions, reports The Sun.
Six courts, two warm-up courts and a hospitality lounge have been created in the leafy lakeside park close to Buckingham Palace.
The 15,000-seat main competition arena in nearby Horseguards Parade has not been affected.
A London 2012 source told the newspaper: "It's nuts but true. It seems squirrels have been invading the courts and either hiding or dropping their nuts.
"But it won't affect the competition because the sand is regularly raked."

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Dealing with an impediment to success at work

Is there a person in your office who is an " impediment ' to your success and the success of others?? A real downer who is sucking the oxygen out of the room by just walking in ??

Let's look at the definition for impediment:

im·ped·i·ment/
Noun: 1.A hindrance or obstruction in doing something: "an impediment to progress".

Each of us runs into these kinds of people in our professional life.  They are the " trolls" of the workplace.  Their attitude, demeanor and other characteristics are like the smell of a corpse flower, driving away all others and foretelling that they are only here to slow you down.

Some have the unlucky stance of having these unprofessional idjits as their direct supervisor - then the issues are twice as crappy.

Why would anyone purposely act this way ??  Likely it is a mental defect or some learned behavior from when they were young and learned acting out got them more attention from teachers and parents.  The mistake made by their parents and teachers are now being experienced by all those who come in contact with these unprofessional and unmannered cretins.  Like many others, if they are able to make this behavior work for them, why would they change it ???  They certainly don't care about others or the effect their behavior has on workplace morale.

The best way to handle them is to just keep them at an arm's length. They thrive on trying to make your world a gloomier place but keeping them at arm's length will frustrate the life out of them.  They will likely try to get into your business but the only way to have this happen is if you let them.  Once they get bored and/or frustrated, they can move on to annoying others or maybe, if you're lucky, the real Boss will get the info on what the PIA ( Pain in the Arse) is doing and get rid of them.

The choice is yours but take my advice -

Keep the business trolls out of your life and you'll feel better. 

Like the Penguins in the movie Madagascar, the best thing is to do what the head penguin told his compadres:

 " Smile and Wave Boys. Smile and Wave..."

Sunday, July 22, 2012

NAVY Vet demonstrates commitment to serve his country

Those who took an oath to " protect and defend the US Constitution against all enemies, foriegn and domestic..." do not lay down that oath lightly.....many like Navy Vet Dave Nicholson want to serve after the time in uniform ends.  His dedication to serving his country is what makes him as much a part of those who serve as when he was in uniform.

Many try to paint civilian contractors as modern day pirates - plundering and pillaging.  I understand that some see private contractors negatively due to those who have acted dishonorably.

To paint all who work overseas in support of the military with distain is not only wrong, it is ignoring all the efforts of those like Dave Nicholson who serve alongside our military and provide the services they need to be mission ready.

I am a private contractor and have been there to support those in uniform as I still uphold my oath to protect the US Constitution and to serve our great country.  I am proud to be in service to our country and to those who need our help.  It is a honor and privilege to be here and know that each of us makes a difference in our own way.



Off the Base: Navy Vet, Private Contractor Dave Nicholson - http://www.wusf.usf.edu/

Navy veteran Dave Nicholson is on a mission to raise public awareness about the role of private contractors in Afghanistan and Iraq and to dispel myths about their work.

The fit, 56-year-old visited WUSF’s studios and talked with reporter Bobbie O’Brien as part of our ongoing series, Off the Base, that focuses on the lives of military families and veterans.


Nicholson wore a "Fly Navy" cap and a blue polo shirt with a Lockheed Martin logo.  He has served both. The certified aviation mechanic served 12 years in the Navy before being medically discharged due to a blood disorder.

Nicholson worked in the public realm but missed the travel and sense of service he had in the military. So, he joined the ranks of private contractor because he felt he still had something to give.

He worked in Germany, Italy, Saudi Arabia and most recently at an undisclosed Combat Out Post in Afghanistan for Lockheed Martin on a classified project.

That’s where on April 28, 2011 – during a rocket attack  which happened daily – Nicholson and his Lockheed teammates didn’t make it to a concrete bunker in time.

A rocket exploded 10 feet in front of them killing two of his teammates and severely injuring Nicholson.

“A lot of people say, ‘Are you bitter you lost both your legs trying to be a contractor in Afghanistan?’ and I look at it from a different perspective,” Nicholson said. “That’s a small price I personally paid so that others don’t have to. I protected them, that’s priceless. You can’t put a dollar amount on the good that we did.”

His recovery as a double amputee and a private contractor is different than that of active duty military injured in Afghanistan. He has to rely on Workers Compensation for his prosthetics, crutches, wheelchair and things like a van.

Nicholson is up to the challenge with the aid of his two bionic legs.

“It took a lot of hard physical therapy,” Nicholson said, but it’s paying off. He’s at about 85 percent when walking on his computer-controlled bionic legs. He’s ridden a horse, but says the real test will be when he can dance.

Saturday, July 21, 2012

Got some disposable $$$ ?? Some seriously older Ferraris are up for sale

Wow.....that is all I have......wow.

The guy who owned these was from BOSTON.....awesome.

Got $20 million? 4 'very important' Ferrari cars to go on block

By Jerry Hirsch - LA TIMES
July 19, 2012,


A rare collection of four Ferrari cars is expected to sell for a combined $20 million or more at the Pebble Beach Concours d’Elegance next month.

Santa Monica auction house Gooding & Co. landed the Ferrari collection, which was the property of Sherman Wolf, a Boston paging service and amphitheater entrepreneur who died earlier this year.

“It is a very important collection of cars,” said David Kinney, publisher of the Hagerty Price Guide for collector cars.  “This is causing heartburn for some of the other auction companies that Gooding has grabbed this very important collection.”

The rarest vehicle in the collection is a 1960 Ferrari 250 GT LWB Alloy California Spider Competizione. Gooding & Co. said it is one of only nine alloy-bodied LWB – long wheel base - California Spiders ever built and is expected to sell for $7 million to $9 million.

The other cars include a 1953 Ferrari 340 MM Competition Spider, a 1957 Ferrari 500 TRC and a 1985 Ferrari 288 GTO.

“The Gooding sales have always been high-end and they seem to bring the right buyers to the room. The estate of Mr. Wolf will do very well,” Kinney said.

Although the GTO is fairly new by collector car standards, Kinney said its stature has grown, in part because not many were made.  It could sell for close to $1 million. The other vehicles are expected to go for $3.75 million to $6.5 million each.

Ferraris are among the hottest part of what has become a strong collector-car market over the last year.

An index of rare Ferrari values calculated by the Hagerty Insurance Agency has risen 16% to $3.5 million as of April from the same month a year earlier.

Wolf was well-known in classic car collector circles, both for his collection and for his mechanical ability.

Jon Shirley, the former president of Microsoft and a collector, remembers meeting Wolf at Ferrari rally in Colorado in 1995.

Shirley was having trouble getting his 1951 Ferrari to run properly at the high altitude.
“He went over to his Ferrari 340MM Spyder and pulled out more tools and small parts in carefully marked plastic cases than I thought possible to store in a Ferrari,” Shirley said.

Wolf tinkered with Shirley’s Ferrari, tuning it “by ear until the car sounded quite good” he recalled.

Friday, July 20, 2012

MARSOC MARINES HUNT TALIBAN ON MOTORCYCLES

SEMPER FI -   Go get'em Devil Dogs !!! - We need more Marines like these brave warriors who can take the fight to the bad guys on their own turf......awesome.

 
Motorcycle-borne MARSOC Marines prey on Taliban
July 18th, 2012 - Marine Times

This photo makes the Hell’s Angels look about as threatening as a litter of kittens.

Those are Marine special operators in Afghanistan, looking like something akin to a well-organized motorcycle gang. The photo is courtesy of former Staff Sgt. Michael Golembesky, who spent two years with Marine Corps Forces Special Operations Command, serving as a joint terminal attack controller.

As Marine Corps Times first reported back in March, MARSOC teams use these small-engine bikes to get around in the Afghan mountains. Before some units deploy, the command sends them through a super-sensitive training program that provides five days of schooling on off-road riding and general motorcycle maintenance.

Golembesky published his photos on SofRep.com, a site that tracks U.S. and British special operations news. An accompanying narrative describes how Marine special operations teams have been using dirt bikes and ATVs to track down Taliban fighters in the dead of night. The small vehicles allow them to swiftly maneuver in areas where larger vehicles can’t, and the noise they make keeps the enemy guessing by blending in with the sound of local traffic, Golembesky writes. Is it another villager — or one of the world’s most elite warriors swooping in for a kill? In some cases, where foreign bikes and ATVs are difficult to keep running, MARSOC Marines have used the same small motorcycles that Taliban fighters ride to make quick escapes after planting IEDs or taking potshots at U.S. patrols.

Golemesky is writing a book about MARSOC. Titled Level Zero Heroes, the account will examine his experiences in Bala Morghab, Afghanistan, during 2009 and 2010. It is set for release in 2013.

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Retired US NAVY SEAL launches anti-Obama PAC

ALL I can say is BRAVO ZULU to this retired US NAVY SEAL.....

This is just what we need - Those who swore an oath promising that " I will support and defend the Constitution of the United States against all enemies, foreign and domestic" need better leadership than what we have seen from the grandstanding idiot from Chicago.

Based on the actions of the sitting President, he acts in the manner of a domestic enemy of the US Constitution.


Retired US NAVY SEAL launches anti-Obama PAC
Asbury Park Press - July 18, 2012

A new super PAC that includes retired special operations personnel and other veterans announced plans Wednesday to raise money to run ads in swing states against President Obama.

The group, Special Operations for America, filed paperwork Monday with the Federal Election Commission. It is headed by retired Navy SEAL Commander Ryan Zinke. During his 23-year career, Zinke spent time in the Navy’s elite SEAL Team 6, the same team that killed Osama bin Laden in a commando raid last year.

Zinke said he and other members of the special operations community are outraged that SEAL Team 6 was identified as the commando unit that carried out the raid, saying it put its members and their families at risk. Zinke said he believes the president has politicized his role as commander in chief to win re-election.

“Who was it at risk?” he said. “Was it the president? Or was it the young SEAL with the wife and kid at home? That’s the arrogance.”

Zinke, a Republican state senator from Montana, said the group also objects to deep military cuts and increases in health care costs to veterans. While he agreed there’s room for cuts in military spending, he said the $1.1 trillion in cuts over 10 years that could start at the end of the year are too deep.

Special Operations for America is registered as a 527 group, and it can take unlimited amounts of money from contributors. Whatever money the organization eventually raises, Hommel said, would be used to air ads in swing states targeted on veterans issues.

Rob Diamond, the national veterans and military families vote director for the Obama campaign, said the president “has their backs” when it comes to veterans and military families, and the president’s record is a “stark contrast” to Mitt Romney’s. He said Romney has refused to outline plans for veterans, has suggested that health services provided by Veterans Affairs be privatized and has failed to put forth a specific jobs proposal to get veterans back to work.

“Even worse, his reckless and nave statements about the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan show that he would prefer our servicemen and women remain overseas, indefinitely fighting in wars he has no strategy to lead and no plan to end,” Diamond said in a statement.

Not all members of the new super PAC are veterans, Zinke said. Members are “people who have been successful on the battlefield or in business.” Its board includes former Republican Sen. Conrad Burns of Montana and former Nevada Gov. Jim Gibbons, and it has ties to the conservative groups Stand Up for America and Veterans for a Strong America.

“It’s a good group of guys, and they’re going to come out swinging,” said Joel Arends, an Iraq Army veteran and chairman of Veterans for a Strong America.

But Larry Sabato of the University of Virginia’s Center for Politics said there’s debate over how much influence these types of groups have in presidential elections.

Sabato thinks macro issues drive presidential elections, issues such as the economy, war and peace and scandals. In this election, the campaigns for Obama and presumptive Republican nominee Mitt Romney have been competently run so far, he said.

Still, polls generally give Romney an edge with veterans, he said, and such groups can have an effect on the margins. But they aren’t the deciding forces.

“I don’t think it will be one of the things we’ll cite after the election’s over,” he said.

Motorcycles in Kandahar

Had a chance to photograph a few motorcycles today at our location.....one with a local riding it.

It is the main vehicle here as the weather is dry and the operation of one of these is much cheaper than having a car.....pretty basic transportation.






Monday, July 16, 2012

Learning a lesson

Many times, the lessons we learn are not all in textbooks

Today, I was heading back to our office at lunch time...I was walking across the area that is in between our villa and the offices....

I had a bag of sodas for the guards. On a regular basis, I bring cold water/sodas with me for the security gurds as it is hot ( today it was 112 F in the shade) and they stand out in the heat all day, keeping us safe.

There was a young man (age 11-12) walking by heading home from school.  He spoke great english and he asked me for a soda, seeing that I had a bag full of them.

I said sure and gave him a soda.

He asked for another with a big smile - I said why ?? 

He said " For my brother "

So I asked him - " Where's your brother??" as he was alone - I gave him a kidding and asked him " Is he in your back pack??"

He looked at me and said, " At home...." - I asked him if he really had a brother at home and he said he did.

So I gave him two sodas......he was smiling like you wouldn't believe. He was so happy over something so easy for me to do - sharing sodas that are plentiful for us, and likely not as easy for him to get on a regular basis.

 This was another one of the encounters I have had here in Afghanistan that demonstrate why we are here.  Here was a young man from Kandahar and an Old Seabee like me, meeting for a few minutes, sharing friendship and being able to share a laugh and a smile.


As it was written, " And the King shall answer and say unto them, Verily I say unto you, Since you have done it unto one of the least of these my brethren, you have done it unto me." - Matthew 25:40

Sunday, July 15, 2012

He doesn't know enough to come in out of the rain...

From a dictionary of Idioms:

Not smart enough to come in out of the rain
Fig. to be very stupid. Bob is so stupid he doesn't know enough to come in out of the rain. You can't expect very much from somebody who doesn't know enough to come in out of the rain.
 

This picture was taken at a campaign stop yesterday in Glen Allen.

He is obviously too stupid and doesn't know enough to come in out of the rain.

The Prosecution rests its case.....The man is an idiot.
 

Friday, July 13, 2012

How's that Hopey-Changey" thing working out for you ??" - current unemployment rate for young folk is at 16.5%

As a fairly Famous pundit likes to say,

" How's that Hopey-Changey" thing working out for you ??"

Obama and his failed economic plans have hurt his two main constituencies, Younger Voters and Minorities.  Unemployment among both groups is sky high, higher than it has ever been and much higher than when the GOP was in control.

So the overriding question is:

WHY would anyone in either group vote for more of the same ???

Because they are uninformed, voting based on the color of the candidates skin, or they are gullible enough to give President OBOZO another 4 years to muck things up.

The bottom line is that the President has failed and the idea of anyone under 25 giving him another 4 years proves that P.T. Barnum was correct when he said;

"  There's a sucker born every minute. "

----------------------------------------------------------------

Recession erases 2.7 million youth jobs, widens employment gap
By Tiffany Hsu - LA Times
July 13, 2012


Had the recession never happened, there would now be an additional 2.7 million jobs for young workers, according to a report this week.

Instead, there’s a Chicago-sized hole in the employment market for people between 16 and 24 years old, according to nonprofit, nonpartisan advocacy group Young Invincibles.
And there’s a good chance that gap will never close, to potentially devastating effect, according to the"No End in Sight?" report.

“The scary thing is that the recession may never end for young people,” said Rory O’Sullivan, policy director for the group, in a statement.

The current unemployment rate for young folk is at 16.5% -- double the national 8.2% rate. More than two in 10 Latino youth are jobless, while three in 10 black youth are unemployed, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.

But that’s only considering people still in the job hunt. Fewer than half of young Americans hold any kind of job at all. And the flood of youth who hid in higher education instead of taking their chances looking for a job during the recession doesn’t make up the disparity.
If the youth labor market expands at the rate it did during 2004 – the best year of the last decade – it could reach its pre-recession health by 2016. If it grows at the 1990s rate – during the longest economic expansion in the country’s history – it could recoup its losses by 2021.

The Young Invincibles report, however, takes a more pessimistic stance, echoing earlier predictions from the Bureau of Labor Statistics that young people may never regain their 2007 employment levels.

The high rates of youth unemployment and underemployment will likely lead to lower earnings for life and more young people who are neither in school nor working, according to the report.

Thursday, July 12, 2012

The reason

Like the man said, a picture is worth a thousand words.

Many have asked, " Why are we in Afghanistan ???  Why would we want to be there ??? What good could come from being there??"

The enclosed picture answers those questions and a hundred like it.
 
These two kids were on the street area between our villa and the office area. They were playing in the street like kids their age do everywhere.  I gave them cold bottles of water as it was very hot today in Kandahar, reaching 106 degrees.

My heart went out to these two kids - two young lives in a country where the news is usually bad and life is taken for granted.

In March 2012, Sgt. Dennis Weichel Jr, 29-year-old Providence National Guardsman was struck and killed by an armored vehicle on March 22 in Laghman Province after moving an Afghan boy to safety who was trying to retrieve something underneath the vehicle.  He knew the reason why we are here....He freely gave his life for that same reason. He was remembered by his fellow soldiers for having the "courage of a warrior" and the "heart of a father."

These children are the reason why we are here as they (and thousands like them) are Afghanistan's future.

Step away from your busted ass vehicle.....

The level of desperation on display by the failing Idjit-In-Charge at the White House is the sad sign of how badly he has done over the last three years.....Watching the White House manufacture lie after lie is pathetic. Real Unemployment ( the U6 figure which counts those on unemployment and those who have expired the ability to collect benefits) is near 15%.

It makes me think about what the Men In Black said when they were arresting the bad guy at the end of their first movie:

Kay: You're under arrest for violating (The US Constitution ).

Jay
: So hand over whatever (documents) you might be carrying, step away from your busted ass vehicle, and put your hands on your head


That's what we should do - send the Men In Black after him.....

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Public-school employees have doubled in 40 years while academic results have stagnated...

Americans don't understand how the education system has been rigged to create more high-paying jobs ( mainly administrators and staff people) than there ever was in the past.

This means higher costs and more pensions for educators and their connected political friends.

Schools are not educating our children to the proper level.  Some do well but the majority of kids do not get the level of education that you or I did 20-30 years ago.  We are over paying and getting less back for our tax dollars.  They keep telling us that there will be less and less people working in the future as the population ages, so why would we need so many more people to work in our schools??

If anything, the number of people needed to work in schools should be going down as the number of children educated slows with our aging population.   That is logical but when it comes to public unions, teachers and education, nothing is logical.

Here is what was written in the Wall Street Journal.  I bet there was plenty of educators on summer break ( something no one else in America gets) howling mad at seeing this in print.


America Has Too Many Teachers
Public-school employees have doubled in 40 years while student enrollment has increased by only 8.5%—and academic results have stagnated..

By ANDREW J. COULSON - Wall Street Journal

President Obama said last month that America can educate its way to prosperity if Congress sends money to states to prevent public school layoffs and "rehire even more teachers." Mitt Romney was having none of it, invoking "the message of Wisconsin" and arguing that the solution to our economic woes is to cut the size of government and shift resources to the private sector. Mr. Romney later stated that he wasn't calling for a reduction in the teacher force—but perhaps there would be some wisdom in doing just that.
 

Cato Institute scholar Andrew Coulson on how public school employment has soared over the past 40 years even as student enrollment has flat-lined.
.
Since 1970, the public school workforce has roughly doubled—to 6.4 million from 3.3 million—and two-thirds of those new hires are teachers or teachers' aides. Over the same period, enrollment rose by a tepid 8.5%. Employment has thus grown 11 times faster than enrollment. If we returned to the student-to-staff ratio of 1970, American taxpayers would save about $210 billion annually in personnel costs.

Or would they? Stanford economist Eric Hanushek has shown that better-educated students contribute substantially to economic growth. If U.S. students could catch up to the mathematics performance of their Canadian counterparts, he has found, it would add roughly $70 trillion to the U.S. economy over the next 80 years. So if the additional three million public-school employees we've hired have helped students learn, the nation may be better off economically.

To find out if that's true, we can look at the "long-term trends" of 17-year-olds on the federal National Assessment of Educational Progress. These tests, first administered four decades ago, show stagnation in reading and math and a decline in science. Scores for black and Hispanic students have improved somewhat, but the scores of white students (still the majority) are flat overall, and large demographic gaps persist. Graduation rates have also stagnated or fallen. So a doubling in staff size and more than a doubling in cost have done little to improve academic outcomes.


Nor can the explosive growth in public-school hiring be attributed to federal spending on special education. According to the latest Census Bureau data, special ed teachers make up barely 5% of the K-12 work force.
The implication of these facts is clear: America's public schools have warehoused three million people in jobs that do little to improve student achievement—people who would be working productively in the private sector if that extra $210 billion were not taxed out of the economy each year.
We have already tried President Obama's education solution over a time period and on a scale that he could not hope to replicate today. And it has proven an expensive and tragic failure.

To avoid Greece's fate we must create new, productive private-sector jobs to replace our unproductive government ones. Even as a tiny, mostly nonprofit niche, American private education is substantially more efficient than its public sector, producing higher graduation rates and similar or better student achievement at roughly a third lower cost than public schools (even after controlling for differences in student and family characteristics).


By making it easier for families to access independent schools, we can do what the president's policies cannot: drive prosperity through educational improvement. More than 20 private-school choice programs already exist around the nation. Last month, New Hampshire legislators voted to override their governor's veto and enact tax credits for businesses that donate to K-12 scholarship organizations. Mr. Romney has supported such state programs. President Obama opposes them.

While America may have too many teachers, the greater problem is that our state schools have squandered their talents on a mass scale. The good news is that a solution is taking root in many states.

Mr. Coulson directs the Cato Institute's Center for Educational Freedom and is author of "Market Education: The Unknown History" (Transaction, 1999).

A version of this article appeared July 9, 2012, on page A13 in the U.S. edition of The Wall Street Journal, with the headline: America Has Too Many Teachers.

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

Kandahar Police repel a VBIED attack

The local Afghan Police station in our section of Kandahar endured a VBIED ( Vehicle Born Improvised Explosive Device) attack Monday afternoon.

A VBIED went off and there was light arms fire and grenade fighting back and forth from 14:30 until 18:00 or so.  The loss of life is the saddest aspect as this kind of attack is cowardly and the sign the Taliban do not value the lives of the people of Afghanistan, only killing the innocents.

Just another day in Kandahar.  We are well protected and our security was doubled to ensure we would not be next.


For us, all else has been quiet....really.  This was the first issue we have seen in the last three - four weeks ( other when I was awoken by things going Rat-a-tat-tat at midnight)

83 days until R&R.....Here is the news account on what happened - I have enclosed a picture from the scene - sad stuff.



Two children killed in Taliban attack on local Police Station in Kandahar

In Afghanistan, a pitched battle took place in the Taliban stronghold region of Kandahar, as suicide bombers detonated explosives at the entrance to a police compound. At least five people have been killed, including two children.

­The Monday attack targeted governmental, police and military buildings in Kandahar, the regional capital in the country’s south. Speaking to journalists, Governor Tooryalai Wesa explained that militants had explosives attached to their bodies.


Three bombers were on a motorcycle when their explosives went off prematurely as they tried to attack the police compound. Two children who were playing nearby were killed and six others injured, provincial spokesman Jawed Faisal told AFP. They were aged between eight and 12.

The attack continued when at least three more insurgents took over a nearby school and fired on police. They were gunned down by police before they could get into the compound, according to the spokesman. The gun battle lasted for two hours.

Official figures list 23 people killed, with 17 presumably being the terrorists, three being members of police, and three civilians, including the two children. Local medical personnel report about 40 wounded, including 18 police officers.

Monday, July 9, 2012

Saturday, July 7, 2012

People joining SSI Disability Outpaces New Jobs last three years

This is the key indicator that the present occupant of the White House isn't getting it done.   It pretty poor when more people take advantage of DISABILITY than are able to get new jobs.

Obama has got to go......really.  We need a President that understands how to create jobs and not act like a petulant teenager.

Obama is a one term President.....this is the clearest indicator he is a failed leader.


Disability Ranks Outpace New Jobs In Obama Recovery
 By JOHN MERLINE - INVESTOR'S BUSINESS DAILY


More workers joined the federal government's disability program in June than got new jobs, according to two new government reports, a clear indicator of how bleak the nation's jobs picture is after three full years of economic recovery.

The economy created just 80,000 jobs in June, the Bureau of Labor Statistics reported Friday. But that same month, 85,000 workers left the workforce entirely to enroll in the Social Security Disability Insurance program, according to the Social Security Administration.

The disability ranks have outpaced job growth throughout President Obama's recovery. While the economy has created 2.6 million jobs since June 2009, fully 3.1 million workers signed up for disability benefits.

In other words, the number of new disability enrollees has climbed 19% faster than the number of jobs created during the sluggish recovery. (Even after accounting for people who left the disability program because they died or aged into retirement, disability ranks have climbed more than 1.1 million in the past three years.)

And the disability ranks will continue to swell. In just the last month, almost 275,000 put in applications for disability benefits. Experts say that more people try to get on disability when jobs are scarce, and changes to eligibility rules enacted back in 1984 have made it far easier to qualify.

In addition, while hiring has been very weak during the recovery, the number of people who have dropped out of the labor force entirely has exploded by 7.3 million since June 2009, an IBD analysis of BLS data show. Some aged into retirement, but most either signed up for disability, stayed in school, moved back in with parents, or just quit looking for a job.

As a result, the "labor force participation rate" — the number of people who have jobs or are actively looking for one compared with the entire working-age population — is now 63.8%, down from 65.7% in June 2009. This participation rate is at the lowest levels in 30 years. In previous recoveries, the participation rate has almost always risen, not fallen.

Other indicators show that the three-year-old economic recovery isn't producing jobs in adequate numbers:

The unemployment rate has been above 8% for 41 consecutive months. In the previous 60 years, the jobless topped 8% in a total of only 39 months.

The number of people with jobs is still nearly 5 million below its pre-recession peak.

The number of long-term unemployed — those out of work 27 weeks or more — is still 5.4 million — almost 1 million higher than when the recovery began, and almost twice the level it ever reached prior to Obama's recovery.




Friday, July 6, 2012

Marine Sergeant Enrique Trevino will do 1 Million Push-ups to help the Wounded Warriors Project

SEMPER FI Sgt. Trevino.  An awesome effort for a good cause.

Marine Doing 1 Million Push-Ups to Help Veterans
South Florida Marine is halfway toward his goal
By Justin Finch -Thursday, Jul 5, 2012 -
www.nbcmiami.com 

South Florida Marine Sergeant Enrique Trevino is more than halfway to his goal of completing one million push-ups to raise money and awareness for American veterans.

"In the very beginning, there were a lot of people who said your body can't handle it," Trevino told NBC 6. "That's their first mistake was telling a Marine you can't do something."

Trevino began his one million push-up pursuit as a New Year's fitness resolution, but soon realized he could turn it into an opportunity to help the Wounded Warriors Project. The organization helps veterans of the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq, where Trevino himself has served, get reacquainted into post-military life.

He said not all vets return with wounds that one can easily see.

"People who are suffering from PTSD. Those are scars that are not seen, but people don't notice everyday," Trevino pointed out. "I'm just trying to bring awareness to those veterans who're transitioning into civilian life, and just make sure they're never forgotten."

Thanks to his push-ups and presence on Facebook and Youtube, Trevino has earned more than $9,000 for his cause. Still, his sights are set much higher.

"My goal is to reach $20,000, but if we can do more than that, which I know we can, I'm all for it," he said.

Last week, Trevino cracked the 500,000 mark, but he said that has not made his push up routine any easier.

"I'd be lying if I said it got easier, but my endurance has gotten better."

Thursday, July 5, 2012

In our lifetime....

Place this along the lines of " The beatings will continue until morale improves..."


IF we could have a mature competent person in the White House, instead of the present occupant who acts like a petulant teenager who is partying on his parent's credit card, we might see improvement on the economy sooner.

The Campaigner-In-Chief is NOT the person we need running our country for the next 4 years.  Time to go Obama, and take your Nanny-State Wife with you.....We have had enough of your brand of "do as I say, not as I do" crappola.....really.

Wednesday, July 4, 2012

Happy 4th of July from Kandahar City, Afghanistan

It is the 4th of July here in Kandahar City, Afghanistan.

The day arrived earlier than stateside due to we are 8 1/2 hours ahead of the US.  Most back home are preparing for a night's rest along with some going out on the night before a day off.

Here in Afghanistan, it is just another day.

On military bases here, there will be a bit of celebration and some good food at the DFACs ( Dining Facilities).  At the same time, many will carry out their normal work of going in harm's way, working to guard the freedom of the people here.  All will go about the normal business of the work that occurs here in the war zone.

Likewise, the work here will go on for me also.  It is another work day and one that has become a bit of a habit for me.  This is the 3rd year in a row that I have been here for the 4th of July.  I have been working contract work for the past three years and that means being here for most of the year including the summer.

There will be no BBQs to attend or fireworks ( as the fireworks here are usually a bad thing).  The holiday passes quietly here and that is understandable.  It is what we have agreed to as part of the deal of working overseas, away from home and family.

Back home in the USA, things are not all "beer & skittles" either.  1.4 million people in the Mid-Atlantic area are still w/o power due to the thunderstorms that came through earlier this week, 14 million people are unemployed or underemployed ( leaving them w/o work or the type of work they usually would perform) and the majority of our citizens are unhappy with the direction our government has taken over the last 4 years.

Being away from home is tough at times like this, but so is being at home without work.  I have had to deal with that and it is a terrible place to be.  Like many others, I have spent a significant number of years working as a manager in HR and now face the new reality that what was of value to employers in the past is undervalued now.  The degree and experience I have is treated in the same manner as some look upon an older car.

Employers are hiring younger workers and paying them 1/2 of what someone like me should earn.  This is not just happening to HR professionals, but professionals from all different professions.  The recession has given businesses the ability to shed older workers, who carry larger wage & benefit costs and hire younger workers who seek less.

This trend will wind up hurting companies as they will spend more in traning and loss of customer satisfaction.  They are acting shortsighted and it is only making things worse economically.

Don Henley is on my IPAD with the song The Heart of the Matter and sings, " These times are so uncertain, there's yearning undefined and people filled with rage..." - very true and accurate even after the 20 years since he wrote the song.

America finds itself in perilous straits - The economy is sluggish and that is partly due to the 14 million people who are effectively unemployed.  They don't have the income they need and that means they are not purchasing goods and services.  That in turn holds the economy back.  We have a President who acts like an insolent teenager and thinks that it is cool to hang out with Hollywood types.  Instead of seeking maturity and competance, his supporters want to act like eternal high schoolers on a spending spree with their parent's credit card. The Middle class is struggling more than ever and all we get from the President is " Party on..." as he parties on the taxpayer's dime.

We deserve better leadership and the person sitting in the White House ain't it.....He needs to go back to Chicago.

The 4th of July is one of the days that makes me think more about the country I love and how difficult it was back in 1776.  The signers of the Declaration of Independence faced tough times.  It must have seemed as difficult as our times seem to us. My family has been in America since 1635 so many of my ancestors were there when the Revolutionary War freed our nation.

The key is that as Americans, we will continue to make our country and the world a better place by our actions.  Though we will disagree with each other and argue about what is needed, the outcome will still be an example to others about what can be accomplished if we set our minds to doing something.

That is essentially what I am doing here in Kandahar City - working to help the people of Afghanistan by leading them to create a better country for themselves and their children.  That is the lesson we learned back in 1776 and one we still honor and celebrate today.

Happy 4th of July to all our military serving abroad, our colleagues working to support them and all back home in the USA.

Monday, July 2, 2012

Female Warriors in the line of fire - Our Female Military teach the Taliban a lesson

The whacky Afghans prove they understand that a Woman in Combat can help win the battle - I have served side-by-side with our female warriors and they are a force to be reckoned with - The female Marines and Seabees are top-notch and were in the line-of-fire just as much as the men were.......

Read this excerpt from the article in The Christian Scientist Monitor - The Taliban got an education on what they were up against - 

Women in combat: US military on verge of making it official

In the opening days of America's war in Afghanistan, Capt. Allison Black's AC-130H gunship thundered low through the night sky. Below, US Special Operations Forces (SOF) were fighting alongside Northern Alliance warlords.

A navigator with the Air Force 1st Special Operations Group, Black was strapped in behind the pilots on a flight deck bristling with radios, gauges, and monitors that kept her in constant contact with SOF forces on the ground, helping them identify targets. It was Black giving the final "clear to fire" consent for the crew to release a barrage from a Gatling gun and other artillery on
Taliban forces.
And it was Black's voice that special operators on the ground heard as they fought. Afghan soldiers overheard the chatter, too. On a mission over the northern Afghanistan city of Kunduz in 2001, one particularly fierce warlord, Gen. Abdul Rashid Dostum, "found it amazing" that a woman was directing fire on the Taliban forces, says Black. "He thought it was so hilarious. He asked, 'Is that a woman?' "
When SOF fighters confirmed it was, Dostum, she says, was incredulous – and impressed: "America is so determined to kill the Taliban that they send women," he said.

Then, as Black called in another round of fire, Dostum dialed enemy fighters by phone, so they, too, could hear her voice on his walkie-talkie: "He really berated them, saying 'You're so pathetic, American women are killing you. You need to surrender now,' " Black says.
Taliban forces did surrender the next morning, and the first female navigator to open fire in combat came to be known as the "Angel of Death" among the Afghans. That battle – and others – also made Black, now a major, the first woman to earn the Air Force's combat action medal.
http://www.minnpost.com/christian-science-monitor/2012/07/women-combat-us-military-verge-making-it-official
 

Sunday, July 1, 2012

Boston salutes the USS CONSTITUTION and all the men who sailed her

She is the flagship of  the US NAVY.  I was privleged to be a member of her crew in 1997 when she went undersail (untethered) for the first time in 116 years.

The ship and the men who sailed her are united in history with their ship.  The staff of the USS Constitution Museum have made an extraordinary effort to bring the history of the crew to life. 

I salute these brave men as the ship is majestic but she was only able to be the success she was because she was manned by men who knew their duty and served on her decks, in peace and war.

BRAVO ZULU to the crew and captains of the USS CONSTITUTION - You made her proud.


Majesty and history
Constitution's forgotten crew and the War of 1812
 By Peter Schworm
 Boston Globe Staff / July 1, 2012


Undefeated in battle, a wooden vessel so stalwart it became known as Old Ironsides, the USS Constitution is perhaps the nation’s most famous warship, an abiding symbol of national pride and naval might.

Yet for two centuries, the hundreds of ordinary sailors who served aboard the great frigate during its most famous victories have been forgotten by history, with little known of their lives or sacrifice. They were celebrated in their day, honored with parades on their triumphant returns to Boston. But as the ship’s legend grew, they faded to obscurity.

Now, as Boston joins the nation in commemorating the bicentennial of the War of 1812, their stories are finally being told.

After a decade of poring over archives here and abroad, researchers at the USS Constitution Museum in Charlestown have pieced together the lives of hundreds of seamen and Marines who served on the Constitution during the war. Among the many characters are James Bennett, a freeborn black man who plugged holes from enemy shot and was later killed in the Battle of Lake Erie, and Asa Curtis of Scituate, the ship’s gunner, who was “weatherbeaten and scarred from many years at sea.”

Often starting with little more than a name, researchers spent long hours combing through pension applications and military documents, personal correspondence, and British prisoner-of-war records, to compile profiles of the sailors and provide a fuller picture of the ship’s history.

“It’s always been the missing piece of the story,” said Anne Grimes Rand, the museum’s president, as she walked through an exhibit that highlights individual sailors and the experience of life at sea.
It was a daunting task, one that scholars warned was nearly impossible given the passage of time. But the museum staff, joined by a host of volunteers, pursued the project with a sense of obligation, determined to give the men their due.

“The Constitution is talked about as if it’s its own agent,” said Sarah Watkins, the museum’s director of collections and learning. “We wanted to tell the story of the men who sailed, who steered, who fought.”

Armed with a solid list of crewmen, researchers began searching through archives for leads, relying heavily on pension records and protection certificates that seamen used as proof of citizenship.
“It was like a passport of the day,” said Lauren McCormack, the museum’s bicentennial programs coordinator. “And in the pension records, you really had to tell your story.”

Those archives often provided a foothold that led researchers to other documents — marriage and death records, wills, and census records.

Slowly, breakthroughs came, and lives came into focus. As researchers learned more, they were drawn into the stories, forging bonds with the figures from long ago.

“They started out as names, and they evolved into individuals,” Watkins said. “For us, it’s not just an intellectual pursuit, it’s an emotional connection.”

The bond was particularly strong with David Debias, a freeborn black from Beacon Hill who was just 8 when he joined the crew, becoming a servant for a master’s mate.

Debias was among the crew chosen to sail on the HMS Levant after it was captured by the Constitution. That vessel was in turn seized by the British on its return to the United States. He was imprisoned in Barbados for a few months before being sent home to his family.

He was discharged in 1815, earning $32 for his seven-month stint.

But Debias was soon back on the seas again, joining the merchant fleet and then reenlisting on the Constitution. In 1838, he left his ship while it was docked in Alabama and was seized in Mississippi as a runaway slave.

Researchers found a letter that a lawyer for Debias wrote the secretary of the Navy, asking for proof of his military service. But they couldn’t find a response and worried the path had gone cold.
“We all wondered, ‘What happened to David?’ ” Watkins said.

Then one day, the National Archives called, saying they had tracked down the Navy’s response affirming his military service. When the news came, yelps of delight filled the museum’s library. They never found out whether he regained his freedom. But there was hope.

Another riveting, if tragic, story was that of Philip Brimblecom. Born in 1786 in Marblehead, he grew up fishing cod, and in 1809 he sailed on his uncle’s schooner to Spain. But the ship was taken off the coast of Spain and impounded by the French government. Brimblecom went to work aboard a French merchant ship, but then it was seized, and Brimblecom was jailed in England.

He eventually escaped and found an America-bound ship. But by this point the war had begun, and Brimblecom was captured again. In September 1812, he was exchanged as a prisoner of war.
Undeterred, he signed up for the Constitution the same month. During a battle in December 1812, a cannonball took away his arm at the elbow.

“Everything bad that can happen in seafaring happened to him,” said Matthew Brenckle, the museum’s research historian.

He could not find work, and wrote the Navy seeking a job and increase in his $6 monthly pension.
Brimblecom was given a job in the Charlestown Navy Yard in 1816, but later wrote and asked them to “look after a poor distressed crippled sailor.” He died at 38.

Such stories show the dangers and unforgiving nature of life at sea, and the sacrifice of those who served during what many consider the country’s second war of independence.

Yet hundreds of crew members remain just names on a muster, and researchers say their work is far from done. As word of the project has spread, descendants of sailors have contacted the museum with potential leads, and researchers are hopeful they will continue to make progress.

“We find out more practically every single day,” Brenckle said.

Peter Schworm can be reached at schworm@globe.com