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Australia Day

flag of Australia

The anniversary of the landing of the First Fleet under Captain Arthur Phillip at Port Jackson in New South Wales on January 26th, 1788.

Here’s the official site, and more information at Wikipedia.

[I should note that recently this has taken on most of the controversy of Columbus Day in the US, with some people noting the event being celebrated was actually an invasion. I have no right to an opinion on the controversy. Also, the 25th in the US is the 26th in Australia.]

January 25, 2020   No Comments

Burns Night

flag of Scotland

This is the anniversary of the birth of Robert Burns in Ayr, Scotland. The Burns Night celebrations conducted by Scots all over the world with haggis, whisky¹, and poetry.

Wikipedia has a description of the standard celebration, but easy on the malt or you may end up with a William McGonagall morning.

In honor of the occasion a bit of Robby Burns for the GOP “leadership”:

The best-laid schemes o’ mice an’ men
Gang aft agley
An’ lea’e us nought but grief an’ pain
For promis’d joy!

To a Mouse

1. This is the correct spelling when referring to Scotland’s “water of life”.

January 25, 2020   No Comments

Happy New Year 4717

Year of the White Metal Rat

Happy New Year
Happy New Year

Chinese New Year
[Spring Festival]

[Note: The New Year is tied to the New Moon, which is on the 24th in my time zone and the 25th in China.]

January 24, 2020   No Comments

Terence Graham Parry Jones 1 February 1942 – 22 January 2022

The BBC notes his passing with – Monty Python’s Terry Jones: Master of the absurd.

The Register notes one of his signature bits: The Foot of Cupid emits final burst of flatulence in honour of fallen Python Terry Jones.

The Australian Broadcasting offers – Terry Jones: Monty Python star’s best moments on screen.

Whether playing an organ in nothing more than a tie or watching the penguin on top of the ‘telly’ explode, Terry Jones appealed to a sense of humor normally associated with middle school. He wrote, directed, and acted in television shows and films. He wrote children’s books and serious history books (his Oxford degree).

January 22, 2020   2 Comments

How Cold Is It?

National Weather Service warns of falling iguanas

Iguanas

Note: this is not a photoshop or a dropbear gag. That is a real National Weather Service warning and people have been injured when walking under trees and getting hit in the head by this invasive species.

January 21, 2020   2 Comments

News Of The Weird

The purple haze over Arizona was caused by a marijuana farm which you would know if you listened to Jimi and were “experienced”.

The Internet has gone full mock mode over the uniforms of the “new” Space Force. They are going to change the service tapes on the utility uniforms and not much else because they will probably revert back to the Air Force Space Command and 14th Air Force when there is a new administration. Everyone currently has an Air Force uniform and no one wants to buy a new set of uniforms. You are issued uniforms at basic training but have to buy them after that.

There isn’t going to be a Secretary of the Space Force, it falls under the Department of the Air Force, just like the Marine Corps falls under the Department of the Navy. So far the costs are the US SPACE FORCE cloth tapes for the BDU/Utility uniforms.

January 19, 2020   No Comments

Real Life

I have had uncertainty concerning the power as they are replacing utility poles all around me and have noted that there will be “minor interruptions” until they finish moving the lines and equipment from the old poles to the new.

To avoid any problems with my equipment I have been powering down whenever anyone gets into a bucket truck or I have to leave the house. Hopefully they will finish in the next few days and will stop deciding another pole needs to be replaced.

Update: They finally finished the poles that provide power to my street after I was without power for 3½ hours.

January 15, 2020   8 Comments

Rivet Ball

Fifty-one years ago, in the early hours of January 13th, 1969 I was forced to accept something that I had known for a while, but had pushed to the back of my mind: I was mortal and was going to die.

This was the first of several incidents when my chance of survival was a good deal less than 1 in 2. This wasn’t the scariest, but it was the first, and following on the heels of the terrible events of 1968, it had the biggest impact.

In the end the only “death” was an airplane, Rivet Ball, the Air Force’s only RC-135S. The military version of the Boeing 707, the fuselage broke in half, like an eggshell, on impact. A very talented pilot, John Achor, the aircraft commander, was responsible for that miracle.

I provide more detail on my other site.

January 13, 2020   No Comments

Unintended Consequences?

From the BBC – Qasem Soleimani: Why his killing is good news for IS jihadists:

The Islamic State (IS) group has welcomed the death of Iranian general Qasem Soleimani, the head of the elite Quds Force.

In a statement, it described the general’s demise as an act of divine intervention that benefited jihadists. However, it made no mention at all of the US, which carried out the deadly drone strike against Soleimani in Baghdad on 3 January.

President Donald Trump’s decision to assassinate Gen Soleimani set off a chain of consequences – one of the first was on the unfinished war against jihadists.

From Juan Cole – “Don’t close your eyes, American troops in Iraq” – provoked by Trump’s crazed attack, Shiite militias threaten US military. The Iranian government responded in a very measured way to the death of their general. but the Iraqi militias are going to want American blood for the death of Abu Mahdi al-Muhandis.

US dismisses Iraq request to work on a troop withdrawal plan

BAGHDAD — Iraq’s caretaker prime minister asked Washington to start working out a road map for an American troop withdrawal, but the U.S. State Department on Friday bluntly rejected the request, saying the two sides should instead talk about how to “recommit” to their partnership.

The US took unilateral action on foreign soil without any consultation with the government of Iraq, there is no partnership to talk about. Trump wants NATO to do more, but there was no consultation with the commanders of NATO forces on the ground before the assassination took place. Now Canada and Germany are reviewing their efforts in Iraq. Trump has already abandoned the Kurds, so there is no one left who wants to be a partner with the US.

Meanwhile Trump’s BFF Vlad has his navy play bumper cars with US vessels:

(CNN) — A Russian warship “aggressively approached” a US Navy destroyer while it was operating in the North Arabian Sea Thursday, ignoring warnings from the US vessel and increasing the risk of a collision, the US Navy said Friday.

Trump has managed to alienate everyone that we need to accomplish stated US goals around the world while sucking up to people and governments who want to see us fail.

January 10, 2020   6 Comments

Missing The Point

Satellite photos reveal extent of damage from Iranian strike on al Assad air base in Iraq. In the official Iranian government response to the assassination of Qassem Soleimani, dozens of missiles were launched against the Irbil and Ain al Assad air bases. Iran contacted Iraqi officials and notified them of the intended targets. Iraq notified other nations of the impending attack which resulted in no loss of life, but a demonstration of Iranian weapons. It was a clear message to the US as to the abilities of the Iranian military.

The government of Iran is finished for the moment, but the Quds Force and the Kataib Hezbollah may launch their own response to the US assassination of their leaders.

Saudi Arabia sought dialogue with Iran. Then the US-Iranian conflict escalated:

She (Emily Hawthorne, a Middle East specialist at Stratfor) says Saudi Arabia’s efforts toward a Saudi-Iranian detente are in a very early stage and being mediated by other countries, such as Pakistan and Iraq.

In fact, Iraqi Prime Minister Adil Abdul-Mahdi told parliament last Sunday that he was mediating between Iran and Saudi Arabia. He said Soleimani had been bringing a message from Iran for the Saudis on the day he was killed in Baghdad.

(US Secretary of State Mike) Pompeo threw cold water on any notion that Soleimani was on a diplomatic mission. “Is there any history that would indicate that it was remotely possible that this kind gentleman, this diplomat of great order, Qassem Soleimani, had traveled to Baghdad for the idea of conducting a peace mission?” he said on Tuesday. “We know that wasn’t true.”

The Trump administration has said it conducted the drone strike against Soleimani to prevent planned attacks against Americans.

Yes, it is absurd to have generals like George C. Marshall, Alexander Haig, Colin Powell, or Directors of the CIA like Mike Pompeo become diplomats 😈

January 9, 2020   7 Comments

The US Started It (Part 2)

Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action

The Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action, known commonly as the Iran nuclear deal or Iran deal, is an agreement on the Iranian nuclear program reached in Vienna on July 14, 2015, between Iran and the P5+1 (the five permanent members of the United Nations Security Council—China, France, Russia, United Kingdom, United States—plus Germany) together with the European Union.

On 8 May 2018 Trump announced United States withdrawal from JCPOA.

Obama did it so Trump had to undo it. No matter what it is or whether it is actually good or bad, the Trumpers and Trumpettes demand their ‘god’ smite the works of the evil Kenyan, Muslim demon who was twice democratically elected (both popular vote and electoral college without foreign assistance).

December 27 – US contractor killed in a rocket attack on an Iraqi military base. The attack was blamed on the Kataib Hezbollah militia.

December 29 – Kataib Hezbollah camps in Iraq and Syria were hit by US airstrikes in retaliation for the death of the contractor.

December 31 – the US Embassy in Baghdad was attacked by a mob in retaliation for the airstrikes.

January 3 – US assassinates Qasem Soleimani Major General commander of the Quds Force and Abu Mahdi al-Muhandis, an Iraqi who commanded the Iranian-backed Kataib Hezbollah group, in retaliation for the embassy attack and Republican fear of another ‘Benghazi’.

Trump vows to hit 52 Iranian targets if Iran retaliates

Iran’s foreign minister says U.S. targeting of cultural sites would be ‘a war crime’ and Khamenei’s adviser Iran’s response to US will be military. Iran rolls back nuclear deal commitments.

Iraqi MPs back call to expel US troops which leads to a NATO suspension of Canadian-led Iraq training mission after Soleimani killing. Naturally the Trump administration only informed drunks at Mar-a-Lago and the Russians of their intentions, not Congress and US allies.

Trump threatens Iraq with sanctions if US troops are expelled.

This is to the point that Rand Paul sounds sane – paraphrase: you would have to be brain dead to believe that killing Soleimani would make Americans safer or bring the Iranians to the negotiating table.

Soleimani was not a nice guy. He was the equivalent of the Director of the CIA and Commander of Special Operations for Iran. Nice guy is not what you look for in those jobs. He was, however, an aid to US efforts to combat al Qaeda, the Taliban, and ISIS. He was a Shi’ia warrior who could unite various Shi’ia factions throughout the Middle East and would get along with anyone who was fighting his enemies. Not that anyone in this US government understands but our real problems have been caused by Sunni Muslims, not Shi’ia.

An “eye for an eye, tooth for a tooth” attitude always results in a lot of blind people feeling for their dentures.

January 7, 2020   6 Comments

Orthodox Christmas

Russian Christmas Card

С Рождеством Христовым to my Orthodox friends who are still waiting to see how the calendar reform works out.

January 7, 2020   No Comments

The US Started It (Part 1)

The Australian Broadcasting Corp. provides a nice little explainer on Why America and Iran hate each other, beginning with the CIA/US backed coup that removed the newly elected prime minister – Mohammad Mosaddegh.

I would go back to World War II and the Anglo-Soviet invasion of Iran. In 1943 the US sent 30,000 troops to Iran to help the UK-Soviet occupation.

Though Iran was neutral, the Allies considered Reza Shah to be friendly to Germany, deposed him during the subsequent occupation and replaced him with his young son Mohammad Reza Pahlavi.

Iran had to put up with regime change by the West that long ago.

The Iranian nuclear program began in the Eisenhower administration based on the Atoms for Peace initiative. The US sold Iran its first reactor and encouraged the purchase of more. Now the Iranians are criminals for wanting to power their country with their own mined uranium, rather than using their most important export for electrical production.

Mohammad Reza Shah become more of tyrant as he aged and the Iranian people started fighting back in the 1970s. The US supported him as a bulwark against the Soviet Union and communism, as we did in many places around the world. Fascists and dictators were the preferred leaders for the US policy makers for too long.

The Iranian Revolution dislodged the Shah and “Iran voted by national referendum to become an Islamic republic on 1 April 1979 and to formulate and approve a new theocratic-republican constitution whereby Khomeini became Supreme Leader of the country in December 1979.” The US gave the Shah refuge which antagonized the new leaders of Iran. The Shah’s extradition was the primary demand of the students who seized the US Embassy in Tehran.

The Iran–Iraq War began on 22 September 1980, when Iraq invaded Iran, and it ended on 20 August 1988. The US backed Iraq, which led Saddam Hussein to believe that no one would complain if he invaded Kuwait after the war.

During the war the US sent Naval vessels to the Persian Gulf to protect “neutral” (ship owners who switched the flagging of their vessels to the US) shipping. This led to another reason for Iran to dislike the US: Iran Air Flight 655:

Iran Air Flight 655 was a scheduled passenger flight from Tehran to Dubai via Bandar Abbas, that was shot down on 3 July 1988 by an SM-2MR surface-to-air missile fired from USS Vincennes, a guided missile cruiser of the United States Navy. The aircraft, an Airbus A300, was destroyed and all 290 people on board, including 66 children, were killed. The jet was hit while flying over Iran’s territorial waters in the Persian Gulf, along the flight’s usual route, shortly after departing Bandar Abbas International Airport, the flight’s stopover location. Vincennes had entered Iranian territory after one of its helicopters drew warning fire from Iranian speedboats operating within Iranian territorial limits.

It is important to remember the hundreds of Iranian deaths that the US is responsible for when talking about the number of US troops that the US claims Major General Soleimani was responsible for.

Considering that the US can’t get over the Civil War after 150 years, Iranians can’t be expected to forget what the West has done to them over the last 80.

January 6, 2020   2 Comments

Feast of the Epiphany

Epiphany

Today marks the Feast of the Epiphany, end of the twelve days of Christmas, and Día de los Reyes in Spanish-speaking countries.

This is the customary day for gift exchanges in many Christian cultures because it is the day that the Magi finally arrived in Bethlehem with their totally inappropriate gifts after putzing around for a week and a half because they didn’t want to ask for directions.

[Give me a break! They bring soft metal, smelly tree sap, and bitter medicine associated with embalming to people who could use a hot meal, baby clothes, and diapers.]

January 6, 2020   No Comments