28 July 2014

Update no.658

Update from the Heartland
21.7.14 – 27.7.14
To all,

The follow-up news items:
-- The situation in Eastern Ukraine continues to fester and deteriorate [640, 657].  Now, we have reports of the Russians firing artillery and rockets into the Ukraine in support of the “separatists” and so-called “rebels.”  If true, it is an act of war.
            At least, the Netherlands and Australia were able to recover the remains of most of the victims of Malaysian Airlines Flight MH-17 [657] and transport them to Endhoven Air Base for forensic identification.  The “rebels” are playing quite a lot of power-trip games with the investigators.  Close-up images of parts reportedly among the MH-17 wreckage certainly appear to have numerous penetrations – consistent with a fragmentary warhead from a missile.  Clearly, the Russians (Putin) do not want anyone to know the truth.  We need to know who ordered the shoot and who pulled the trigger (or pushed the button or turned the launch key) to establish criminal culpability. 
            I think the Buk Mk-I (SA-11) SAM platform that shot down MH-17 was owned by either Ukraine or Russia.  The missile(s) was fired in Ukrainian rebel held territory.  I doubt Ukrainian separatists had the knowledge, skill or training to operate a sophisticated SAM system like the Buk Mk-I – it is not a simple point and shoot weapon.  MH-17 was in cruise flight at FL330 (33,000 feet) – not an easy target to find or identify.  Regardless of where the missiles or launcher came from, I suspect a Russian crew under Russian orders operated the launcher.  Whoever fired that missile, it was an irresponsible act.  So, whether it was a stolen launcher operated by an ill-trained and improperly controlled crew, or a Russian launcher with a Russian crew, Putin remains the instigator.  He is ultimately responsible.
-- The situation in Gaza [657] remains quite tenuous.  Cease fire, no cease-fire, who knows?  Israel is taking heat for an artillery strike on a UN school / sanctuary.  Why are the Press and public condemning Israel?  Did anyone “see” what led up to the strike?  Hamas terrorists repeatedly have attacked Israel from Gaza.  So, is this conflict all about who can generate the most “civilian” casualties on their side to invoke public sympathy?  It is truly tragic that innocent Palestinian citizens in Gaza must endure the brutality of Israeli attacks all because the Hamas militant wing is bent upon Israel’s destruction.  The solution is quite simple – respect each other and live in peace.

A friend and frequent contributor sent along this article:
“Global Warming Denial Linked To... Speaking English?”
by Chris Mooney
Posted: 07/23/2014 1:47 pm EDT; Updated: 07/23/2014 1:59 pm EDT
Interesting hypothesis!
 . . . to which he added:
“Hypothesis? Correlation at the very least. More than one study has found that viewers of Fox News have a less accurate picture of the world than those who watch no news at all.”
 . . . and I replied:
So you say.  I'm not convinced as to correlation, and I speak English, so I guess that explains my reticence.

On Sunday, 27.July.2014, the wreckage of SS Costa Concordia [527] arrived in Genova, Italia, after being erected [614] and towed for salvage – one hellava engineering achievement.  Hopefully, during the salvage process, they will find the remains of the Russel Rebello, the last missing person from the cruise ship capsizing disaster.  Most folks may remember the accident.  However, I doubt very many care about or are even aware of the engineering that went into just the parbuckling operation [614] – the most complex and sophisticated salvage operation in human history.  We should all offer our congratulations to the engineering and salvage team for their accomplishment.  Well done, everyone!

Comments and contributions from Update no.657:
“A couple of points.  Speaking of soccer (football) went to a Sporting KC game this week- great game and venue.  You should get to a game. A soccer stadium built specifically for that game- and full of rabid fans.  SKC beat the LA Galaxy, 2-1.
“Regarding the operation in Gaza, there is a bit more to the story.   After the three Israeli youth were kidnapped, the IDF went into Gaza, ostensibly looking for them.  It has come to light that the Government knew the three had been killed very soon after their abduction- and they were found in a field about three weeks after they were taken.  From where they were found, it was odd that they hadn’t been found before.  The IDF apparently used the search for the youths as a pretext for operations- and that led to the firing from Gaza.  Now the IDF has gone into Gaza in force, and things are getting ugly.  And the Arab boy that was murdered in retaliation for the deaths of the three Israeli youth was burned alive.  To add to that, two Arab youth had been killed about a month before this all started, in dodgy circumstances- but with no one held culpable.  This all shows how things can spiral out of control very quickly. 
“On MH17, an odd factoid has arisen. Apparently the MH17 flight on that day was flying about 300 miles off the usual course for that flight.  It isn’t clear why, was it weather or what.  But why was the plane flying that far off the normal route and into more dangerous territory?
“And remember the VINCENNES shootdown-initially we denied responsibility, only to find out that our ship had made a horrible mistake.”
My reply:
            Indeed.  We really should attend an SKC match.  I’ve always enjoyed futbol.  We’ve gone up to KC for several Chiefs games, so there is no excuse.
            Re: Gaza.  There are always two sides of every coin.  Indeed, things have been spiraling out of control for decades, approaching a century, in that area.  OK, who took the three Israeli boys, and why?  That appears to be the catalytic event of this latest episode.
            Re: MH-17.  I am a little suspicious of the 300 mile off course information.  To my knowledge, MH-17 was in radar coverage under active air traffic control.  I have not flown an aircraft over Ukraine or Russia, so I do not have first hand knowledge, but it is my understanding flight paths are strictly monitored and controlled over that part of the world.  ATC jumps on folks who deviate in far smaller amounts from planned/cleared airways.  If it was off planned track, I do not know why.  The investigators should figure out that part in short order.
            Re: Iran Air 655.  Yes, there was initial denial.  The Vincennes crew truly believed they had an active threat that was unresponsive to challenge calls.  Whether the Iran Air 655 crew heard or ignored the challenges will never be known; they did not respond.  I suspect when we hear the CVR data (assuming is has not been compromised) I suspect we will not see any warning or challenge.
Round two:
“Yes, and get your tickets well before the game- with their success, (they are MSL champions and are leading their division) tickets are at a premium.  BTW, with Die Mannschaft winning the cup, it is fußball!! 
“Also went to the WWI Memorial- if you haven’t gone there, or haven’t been in a while, it is a worthwhile trip.  Esp now on the century anniversary of the end of WWI.  There is a special
“Be Home by Christmas” exhibit now.
“On MH17- I can’t find it now, but saw a flight-tracker of the flight that indicated that it was off the normal flight route track. No ideas why, and concur that the flight should have been under control and would have had to have been routed there.  Another question to answer, as to why it was off the normal flight route.
“Good question on who kidnapped and killed the three Israeli boys.  Haven’t heard much on that in a while.  The suspects were originally described as two or three from a clan that is somewhat estranged from the PA and Hamas- they apparently have a record of going off the reservation.  Also question why it took so long for the bodies to be found.  The IDF seemed to be using the search for the youth as a pretext for search and destroy – which in turn led to rockets, which led to the incursion into Gaza.   There are a number of questions around that aspect.
“Also re the FAA and some European airlines cancelling flights.  Don’t blame them, in light of MH17.  Hamas had sent communications to the airlines, saying that they were going to target Ben Gurion.  So it was prudent to halt flights.  Also a bit of two-facedness on the Israeli side. On one hand they are saying the reason that they are going into Gaza and having the operation is because Israel is being bombarded by rockets (thank goodness, to not much avail.)  Now when the airlines quit flying, they are saying that all is ok and they are safe as can be. Can’t have it both ways.   And worse, if the Gaza operation continues much longer, Hitzbollah, in Lebanon, might start shooting rockets at Israel- and they have much more powerful rockets and would surely target the airport.”
  . . . my reply to round two:
            Re: futbol.  I switched to Spanish rather than German.  I tend to mix them up in usage, to differentiate soccer from football.
            Re: WW1 museum & memorial.  Absolutely.  It is on my “ride” list of targets.
            Re: MH-17.  I do not know the ATC rules over Ukraine.  I know in the U.S. & E.U., ATC would not tolerate that sort of deviation without clearance.  We do not yet know if they were cleared to deviate.  Even when cleared “direct,” they still get huffy when you deviate from your expected track.  Perhaps they are more liberal in their control of flight tracks over there.  Don’t know!
            Re: Palestine. I don’t know who got the Palestinian boy either, but probably retribution by a Jewish rogue group.  So then, Hamas starts launching rockets into Israel.  So, now hundreds of people die on both sides because of some rogue, criminal groups.  Insanity!
            Re: flight ban.  Yes, given MH-17, quite understandable.  Yet, it is precisely what Hamas sought, which will do nothing but encourage them to try harder.  Just like al-Qa’ida, go after the transportation system to cripple a modern economy.
            Re: Hezbollah.  I think they have already fired a few rockets, but nothing major.  More sophisticated rockets . . . yes, it is much easier for the IRI to resupply Hezbollah than Hamas.
Round three:
“Concur..not sure if IRI supplies Hamas…esp now as Hamas is Sunni.  Hitzbollah is Shi’a, like Iran. But Hitzbollah’s leader made comments of support for Hamas and indicated they might start in.  If so, that would be a huge game changer.”
 . . . my reply to round three:
            Since 1979, the IRI has remained at the pinnacle of state sponsors of terrorism.  In that time, their objective has been and remains the elimination of Israel.  They have supplied arms and other supplies to anyone willing to attack Israel – Hamas qualifies.  The Israeli Navy intercepted and boarded several ships transporting a wide variety of weapons from Iran to Gaza.
            Rumblings have already begun on the West Bank.  I suspect Hezbollah is not far behind.
            We shall see how this plays out.
Round four:
“This article just came out on the VINCENNES case….FYI
“As I recall – from Navy JAG colleagues, the Captain of the ship was considered a bit of a loose cannon.  They were not happy with him.”
 . . . my reply to round four:
            The information we have is the same . . . a bit of a Rambo-type with an Aegis-class cruiser as his weapon.  There were sufficient circumstances around the event; it was very shades of grey.

Comment to the Blog:
“With respect to Malaysian Airlines Flight 17, I doubt very much that Putin would have ordered such a thing in any direct way. Your statements that the rebels are his creatures are not well supported as of now, but there's a simpler reason. Putin is not stupid enough to order a move that would turn the entire world against him. That is the predictable result of attacking unarmed and uninvolved craft that were following the appropriate directives and is what has happened. Whether the rebels are essentially independent lunatics/incompetents or are merely a poor choice of tools by Putin, we may not assume insane stupidity on Putin's part without considerably more evidence. The shoot-down was most likely a mistake. Time will tell whose mistake it was.
“The true fate of Flight 800 is likely to remain unknown until some future time when historians gain access to the information, as most such controversies do. By that time, the only effect it will have on society will be to deepen the cynicism of history students like me.
“Your linked article by Mr. Kagan of the Washington Post fails to account for two major factors. First, the Vietnam event cost much more than the immediate loss of United States lives and treasure. The harm to the United States image worldwide continues to this day. The disillusionment at home paired with that of the Watergate scandal caused permanent damage to Americans' view of our political system that I think has led to much of the conflict between people who grew up before those two events versus those roughly my age and younger who came along during or after those events and were permanently affected by them. On top of that, the effects of that conflict on Vietnam veterans and the United States government's shameful treatment of those veterans have rippled nationally and continue to do so.
“The other factor not recognized by Mr. Kagan is simply that the United States is not only not responsible for leading/policing the developed world today but has lost both the leadership and the capacity to sustain it. We are today neither the most prosperous nation by most measures nor the most socially advanced. Measures that seek to understand “happiness” leave us in the dust. Let those who benefit by leadership exercise it.
“Citigroup has made another civil settlement for their wrongdoing. Even if they complain about it, “too little, too late” still applies.
“In reference to the Middle East, the Pax Romana never truly took hold there per many sources and the Pax Brittania came to grief as well. The Babylonians failed before those two and we have failed since, as has the UN. The Mongolians probably did better than the others, but only in a relative way. The area from the Jordan to the Mediterranean has seen conflict ever since the Canaanites (ancestors of the Jews) returned from Egypt to find others living in what had been their territory. I cannot suggest a rational way to end that conflict.
“In reference to the debate over ‘death with dignity,’ I know several of the disabled and may fall into that category myself soon. Abuse of such laws concerns us. In addition, I am well acquainted with quite a number of people whose heirs are untrustworthy to the point of shortening lives for their own benefit. I also spent several months last year doing what I could to support a man who died of lung cancer following a long bout with throat cancer. Thus, I can understand more of the sides of this debate than most. Today, I stand in favor of some sort of death with dignity process but with very stringent controls.
“Also, whatever results from the death with dignity debate, suicide is a separate issue. Laws against the actions of those who are dead are ludicrous, and those who attempt suicide, whether or not we see them as “serious,” need other kinds of help, not prosecution.”
My response to the Blog:
            Re: MH-17.  I agree.  There is no evidence of and I do not suspect Putin ordered the shoot down of MH-17.  I do believe Putin did order Russian military and special forces to support a publicly perceived separatist movement in Crimea and Eastern Ukraine to carve off more territory for Russia.  Whether he specifically and expressly ordered Buk Mk-1 (SA-11) SAM units into Eastern Ukraine to provide air defense for the “separatists” may not be known for many years.  The publicly available information strongly suggests the Russians directly enabled those SAM units either by direct operation (as Soviet pilots did in North Korea and North Vietnam) or they inadequately trained the “separatists” to a sufficient level to launch a missile at a target – any target.   Yes, I doubt anyone intended to shoot down a scheduled commercial aircraft in transit.  There is no doubt in my mind that Putin is supporting directly the “separatist” movement in Eastern Ukraine – his surrogate for Russian expansion.
            Re: TWA 800.  Probably so.
            Re: Kagan.  Vietnam was a complicated history in a complicated time.  Yes, he did not wax on expansively about Vietnam or the political complication of Watergate.  I am not sure what your point is relative to his central topic?  As we discussed before, we do not share the same assessment of the future for this Grand Republic.  The issue is, where do we draw the line with the use of force?
            Re: Citigroup.  Agreed . . . hardly punishment for those corporate officers who made the decisions and/or enabled those actions.
            Re: Pax Romana.  As with so many of our discussions, definitions become vital to perception.  There were centuries of commerce and comparatively good standard of living.  Sure, those times were not without crime or tensions, but it was a time of prosperity for many, not all, in the context of those days.  Peace will only come when they accept the geographic reality and respect each other, so that they can move on to focus on the future of their land and people.
            Re: Death with Dignity.  Concern with such questions is healthy.  We should all be concerned.  I have a goodly portion of examples of malicious relatives or relations in such circumstances.  The system must provide those protections.  It is absolutely a condition when such authority cannot and must never be delegated.  If an individual does not have demonstrable and recordable mental and emotional competency for such decisions, then they do not qualify, period.  I absolutely agree . . . with stringent controls; however, those controls or administration of the process must not become de facto prohibitive.  We are talking about citizens at their end of days, and allowing each individual the choice of death with dignity, when appropriate.
            Re: suicide.  Here we go back to the shameful mental health treatment system in this country . . . or actually lack of same.  The law must stand squarely against suicide, but I have always thought the existing laws are meant more for “supporters” or “enablers” of such events.  This is part & parcel to the DwD process.  We must find the will to vastly improve our mental health care system.

My very best wishes to all.  Take care of yourselves and each other.
Cap                        :-)