Thursday, April 30, 2009
Big Guy called Bruno and Biden into the Oval about 15 minutes ago and he was pretty annoyed. There are rumors that Biden's comments on the "Today" show this morning, where he said he personally told his family not to ride public transportation or to even go into a mall out of concern for the porcine-induced disaster, caused a panic on the Washington Metro.
Bruno said he briefed Biden on what to say and not say, and that it just "went in one ear and out the other." At this point in the conversation, it appeared Biden was just staring out the window at a bee in the Rose Garden, just following it as it buzzed around.
I don't know what's worse: that the man has an attention span of a gnat, or his incurable case of foot in mouth disease.
And then there's the comments -
If either Napoleonatano or Joe the Plugger goes off script again, they may get the flu in the Chicago sense.
TOTUS....BO better get get a larger circus tent or lay-off some clowns...
It was about this post.
Here's their article -
Coast Guard Commandant Hearts Social Media
by Nathan Hodge
Here's the part I am in -
"On a recent visit to the cutter Boutwell off Djibouti, Allen taped some video shoutouts with crewmembers; those posts got a fair amount of love from milbloggers and other supporters."
Hey Nathan, I Heart ADM Thad Allen right back! And thanks for the linky-love.
I love the CVN. I love the CG. But you know I think the DDG is the prettiest, huh? Destroyers rule! What else did you expect from the daughter of a TinCan Sailor! 090428-N-9988F-815 ARABIAN SEA (April 28, 2009) Three U.S. Navy ships sharing the same hull number, the aircraft carrier USS Dwight D. Eisenhower (CVN 69), the guided-missile cruiser USS Vicksburg (CG 69), and the guided-missile destroyer USS Milius (DDG 69), are underway in formation in the Arabian Sea. The three ships are underway supporting the on-going rotation of forward-deployed forces to support maritime security operations and operate in international waters across the globe. (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Rafael Figueroa Medina/Released)
Wednesday, April 29, 2009
Voice of the Third Estate
The rise of military bloggers
By Grace Vuoto, BASE NEWS Thursday, April 30, 2009
They are passionate, committed and courageous. They work long hours without much hope of fame or fortune. They believe in their cause and are united by a strong urge to serve the troops. These are the military bloggers who attended the 2009 milblog conference at the Westin Arlington Gateway hotel Friday and Saturday.
Read the rest here.
Story Number: NNS090428-15
Release Date: 4/28/2009 3:48:00 PM
By Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Chantel M. Clayton, Navy Public Affairs Support Element West, Det. Northwest
SILVERDALE, Wash. (NNS) -- Individual augmentees (IA) and spouses from around the Kitsap area came together for an IA symposium held on board Naval Base Kitsap (NBK) Bangor April 28.
As part of his visit to the Northwest region, Master Chief Petty Officer of the Navy (MCPON) Rick West was on hand to deliver opening remarks to kick off the symposium.
"For all of the IAs, I want to personally thank you for raising your hand and going over there and doing a very difficult job for us," said West. "That is extremely awesome. We have more Sailors on the ground in the 5th Fleet Area of Responsibility than we have afloat. A lot of people don't know that, and it's incredible. Our Sailors over there are performing and doing the job extremely well."
IAs and their spouses were on hand to listen to guest speakers, while having the opportunity to share their personal and individual experiences. Guest speakers talked about topics such as programs available through Fleet and Family Support Center (FFSC), and preparing for deployment and reintegration.
"When the Navy came up with the operational stress control program we looked at all naval operations as stressful, and certainly with combat, stress is inevitable," said Leanne Braddock, a licensed marriage therapist, and retired Navy commander. "Even though we're going to be speaking specifically here at the symposium, we're looking at a range of stress reactions."
Braddock also feels that communicating the continuum of stress will develop a common language for all Navy members.
"When they come back from their tour, or even while they're on their assignment, other members around them could have a clearer idea of what needs to be done, rather than letting the stress issue get out of hand."
Service members and spouses found the symposium knowledgeable.
"This symposium is very informative," said Information Systems Technician 3rd Class Joseph Payne, from Naval Computer and Telecommunications Area Master Station Pacific Det. Puget Sound. "There's a lot of help out there for IAs and those who deal with a lot of stress.
"I didn't know how much support we had from the FFSC. I really didn't know what was going on in the 'big Navy' and how they're handling it. I've learned that they have us (IAs) in their forefront of thinking, which is good."
"I've gotten a lot of information as far as what signs to look for when my husband returns home," said Amy Cunningham, spouse of a deployed Sailor. "I know to let him come home and get used to living in a family environment."
The MCPON says the IAs are "extremely awesome".......and he's right!
H/T NavyNews on Twitter
Tuesday, April 28, 2009
H/T Navy News on Twitter
USCGC BOUTWELL Crew Gives Shoutouts With The Commandant - Give One Back
While onboard BOUTWELL this week in Djibouti, crewmembers had the rare opportunity to say “Hi” to their loved ones back home while they circumnavigate the globe supporting the 5th, 6th and 7th fleets. You can see their videos here (check back over the next couple days, we have more to upload).
Let’s try a social media experiment and show your support to the crew of BOUTWELL by sending them your thanks and best wishes. You can do it three ways:
– Comment to this post
– Leave a post on their fanpage
– Comment on individual videos in the photobucket
I encourage other milbloggers to take on this experiment and see how much support we can send toward the crew of the BOUTWELL from the blogosphere!
We will be sure they get all the messages, but we are sure they and their loved ones will also be checking themselves.
Here are some examples of what BOUTWELL has been up to:
BOUTWELL Conducts Training with Malaysian Maritime Enforcement Agency (MMEA) (Feb. 4-7)
Three Day Engagement Visit to Chochin India (Feb. 17-20)
Law Enforcement Symposium with Maldives National Defense Force (Feb. 21-24)
BOUTWELL participates in the Multi-national exercise, AMAN 09 (Mar. 5-14)
Web Site: www.soldiersangels.org
Public Phone:615 676-0239
Statement: To provide meaningful services and support to deployed military personnel, veterans and military families through a grass-roots volunteer network, thus ensuring no soldier feels forgotten.
Federation: Military, Veterans & Patriotic Service Organizations of America
New York City Police Department
New York , NY
Officer Susan Porcello was responding to a 9-1-1 call regarding an elderly man sick at his home. After assisting him she befriended retired USMC PFC Gasper Musso and for the next six months, she along with her patrol partner provided what he needed to care for himself. He had no other family members alive and so Officer Susan Porcello and her partner took it upon themselves to have the resident honored and received full military burial privileges upon his passing away in November 2008.
In addition, she provided for his wake, the mass and final burial at her own expense. In December 2008 Officer Porcello received the Public Servant of the Year Award from Little Italy Merchant Association (LIMA) and she also received the Rocco Laurie Memorial Award for outstanding police work for the demonstration of compassion and dedication to retired USMC PFC Gasper Musso in Life and Death. She recently received THE SHIELDS of Long Island award for Police Officer of the month for her ability, courage and understanding, which have won the respect, confidence and admiration of her fellow police officers.
Officer Susan Porcello became a member of New York finest as a patrol officer in July 1998. After graduating the academy she was assigned to field training at the 68th precinct. Her trainings include cobra auto and motorcycle crime, CIMS, and is currently assigned to the Truancy Community Affairs Division. She is also a liaison between the public schools, district attorney office and the Board of Education. She has numerous memberships that include NRA, My Soldier Program, National Columbia Association, Policewomen's Endowment Association, Fraternal Order of Police Memorial lodge # 100 and she is a PBA union delegate for the Police Department. She is also a member of the polar bear club of Coney Island and the Society of Val Trebbia and Val Nure.
Vote for her here by clicking on the tab under her pic. You can vote every day until May 4th.
H/T to FlagGazer on Twitter
"Greta of Kiss My Gumbo Is Screamingly Funny"
As one would guess there are certain words that when I say them, non-Bostonians can guess where I come from. Many of these lesser beings comment on what they refer to as my accent.
Ridiculous! I speak properly, everyone "west of Worcester" has mangled the language. You need to watch "The Story of English" on PBS. The language came over from England to Boston and it was corrupted as it flowed south and west.
I went out in the comments of this BlackFive post and spit on the floor. But it was Greta's comment that actually brought tears to my eyes.
If I didn't love you so much Jimbo, I'd fly right back to DC and tie you to chair with that stupid thong and smile at you in the sunshine with a reflective mirror while Maggie recited poetry. You think waterboarding is bad!
April 28, 2009 at 06:45 AM
What a great idea!!!! *throat clearing noise*
One of my favorites is "Barbara Frietchie" by John Greenleaf Whittier
"Up from the meadows rich with corn, clear in cool September morn................."
Then we will move on to Marlowe.
Monday, April 27, 2009
She called one last time around 7 pm and asked if I didn't want to up it a little. I said come down now!!! LOL I knew I wasn't ready and it's not like she can take me or anything.
So in the middle of packing etc., Galrahn calls me and asks if he can give VADM Harvey my cell phone number. What!! He needed to ask? LOL
When does she show? Nearly 10:30 pm!!! What? LOL My boss is texting me "Have you left or are you late?" Late, I replied but not my fault.
So fine we are on the road at 11. First problem is that the TomTom doesn't recognize the new Route 44 and keeps trying to send us down 58. This makes Grace nervous. She doesn't trust the TomTom or any navigational device for that matter.
So Grace drove the whole way down. She likes to be in control and it was just as well because I was carsick. I rarely get carsick, very strange.
Anyway, we arrive in DC around 0800 or so. No traffic. No problems. It was great. We had requested early check-in but I remember thinking that there was no way they would have the room ready.
Side note - Everyone at the Arlington Westin was fabulous. The valet, the doorman, the concierge, the front desk clerks, the waiter. They did every possible thing to make our stay pleasant.
Anyway, I gave the front desk clerk my cell phone number and she said she'd call when our room was ready. We went in to eat breakfast and just as we were finishing - who calls? Yeah, VADM Harvey. He welcomed me to DC and told me that he had checked into my tour and regretted it wouldn't be near where he was.
I hung up the phone and Jen & Grace asked who I was talking to. I told them and they told me to shut up.
The cell phone rang again - the room was ready. Perfect! We paid the check and headed up to the room. On the way I saw Jeannie from Military.com in the lobby. I introduced myself and we arranged to meet in the lobby with the others who were headed to the Pentagon.
I was early for that meeting, lol.
It's not 1918. Wash your hands, observe good hygeine. Be smart. Don't panic.
Good. God. How far gone are we when *I* am the voice of reason?
My sister Jen & I agree that we will fall down laughing if Obama closes the border over this. How ironic would that be?
Not that it will help you. I attended a lecture where one of the speakers was Frances Townshend. She explained that it has never been part of the plan to shut the borders down in the case of a flu epidemic/pandemic.
All you can do is practice good hygeine and maybe store some water and tuna like Grace.
We had a life, we had a love,
But you don't know what you've got 'til you lose it
Well that was then and this is now
And I want you back
How many times do I have to say I'm sorry
How can something so good go so bad
How can something so right go so wrong
I don't know, I don't have all the answers
But I want you back
How many times can I say I'm sorry
You can run, and you can hide
But I'm not leaving less you come with me
We've had our problems but I'm on your side
You're all I need, please believe in me
I only wanted someone to love
But something happened on the way to heaven
It got a hold of me and wouldn't let go
And I want you back
How many times do I have to say I'm sorry
You can run...They say you can't take it with you
When you go
And I believe it
But taking what I've got or being here with you, you know
I'd rather leave it
You can run...
My sisters sang that all the way up the New Jersey Turnpike.
I'm home, I'm wiped.
I have tons to say. I had a marvelous time.
thanks Lindy Kyzer.
Thanks Jack Holt & LT Jennifer Cragg.
And the highlight of the weekend was Friday afternoon with CDR Junge & ADM Harvey. Thanks to you both and to Galrahn. who made it possible.
Tomorrow there will be links and posts. Promise.
Thursday, April 23, 2009
What did it say?
Iranian president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad calls Rush Limbaugh and tells him, "Rush, I had a wonderful dream last night. I could see America, the whole country, and on each house I saw a banner."
"What did it say on the banners?" Rush asks.
Mahmoud replies, "UNITED STATES OF IRAN."
Rush says, "You know, Mahmoud, I am really happy you called, because believe it or not, last night I had a similar dream. I could see all of Tehran, and it was more beautiful than ever, and on each house flew an enormous banner."
"What did it say on the banners?" Mahmoud asks.
Rush replies, "I don't know. I can't read Hebrew."
The first ten people who find me win a prize.
Strangely, even though it's a Blogger weekend, blogging here will be sparse. I am not that technologically advanced, so no cool Blackberry. And I plan to spend the weekend interacting with my peeps. Any free time is going to go to my sisters. Both Jen & Grace are coming with me. Mrs. Diva is questioning the wisdom of this. "Have you lost your mind? You're bringing WITNESSES??? LOLOLOL"
We are driving and leave tonight around 2200 hours.
Tuesday, April 21, 2009
So here it is - Stockdale Commissioning - "The Navy will commission it's newest Arliegh Burke class-ship Stockdale (DDG 106)."
Monday, April 20, 2009
Here is a link to a Navy.mil video about the man behind the destroyer.
I can't download and embed it. I don't know why. Don't they know who I am????
Anyway, it's a good vid. You should watch.
Then there is this snippet of Navy news that includes my friend ADM Keating speaking at the commissioning on Saturday.
Jen IM's me this afternoon and says she is passing on "24".
What? We're a team. How can Jack save the world if we are not there to cheer him on....or yell at him when he is "wasting time, damnit!"
She is too upset about Tony Almeida.
How am I going to go on?
Well I have all my friends at Blogs.4Bauer.
And there is always SB, who would ridicule anyone who deserted "24" as cowardly.....but not his BFF. Noooooo. Jen will get off scot-free on this too.
She is at the library. I told her she was becoming quite the nerd.
Join Twitter and follow "USArmy".
U.S. Army uses Facebook page, tweets to declare war on Ashton Kutcher's top Twitter spot
BY Stephanie Gaskell DAILY NEWS STAFF WRITER
Monday, April 20th 2009, 4:35 PM
The U.S. Army wants you - to be its friend on Facebook.
You can also follow the Army on Twitter. Or post a comment on its new blog. They're all part of the Army's new mission: social networking.
"If Ashton Kutcher can do it, the U.S. Army can do it," said Lindy Kyzer, who posts the Army's "status updates" on Facebook and "tweets" on Twitter.
Kyzer issued a public challenge - to get more followers on Twitter than Kutcher, an actor and social networking fiend who recently won a bet with CNN that he could reach 1 million followers first.
"We know that our ability to share the Army story is shaped by how we tell it and where we tell it," said Lt. Col. Kevin Arata, who heads the Army's new Online and Social Media Division. "Using social media platforms allows us to tell our story where we know people are at and are listening."
Even Gen. Ray Odierno, the top U.S. commander in Iraq, is on Facebook. With nearly 5,000 "friends," the four-star general is updating his status straight from the battlefield - something unheard of in past conflicts.
Gen. Michael Oates, commander of the 10th Mountain Division based at Fort Drum, N.Y., has been blogging from Iraq for months.
"Six soldiers honored for bravery in Afghanistan; are reminded, 'of those who didn't come back,'" reads one Army "tweet."
"Drill Sergeants work hard to debunk Hollywood stereotypes about their role," reads another.
The Facebook and Twitter messages are really an extension of the press releases and stories that Army officials put out through the Division of Public Affairs. But it's also a place for soldiers and their families to connect.
"Most [wall posts] are shout-outs," Arata said. "They're people saying, 'My son's in the Army, my granddaughter's in Iraq.'"
The Army's not alone. The Air Force is on Twitter and the Coast Guard is on Facebook.
"It's an instant support network," Kyzer said. "We've seen a ton of parents on there."
Officially launched on Thursday, the Army's Facebook page already has more than 3,000 "friends."
The page is an "open forum," but there are rules of engagement: keep it clean and courteous.
"There have been very few negative comments," Kyzer said. "It's self-regulating - that's the beauty of social networking."
With more than 4,000 followers on Twitter, Army officials said they hope to gain a worldwide following.
"We'll see where it goes," Arata said. "We're not fearful of what's out there. We really want to see what the world has to say."
Crossposted at US Army on Facebook
Sunday, April 19, 2009
Isn't it great to live in Boston? A city so steeped in history........we are so lucky. In other parts of the country, it may occur to some people that it's Patriot's Day. Here, we keep it alive.
I can remember taking Frankie and Tommy here.
Good deal Bull!
So, if you are on Twitter follow Soldier's Angels and see if you can give them a hand with this.
Hugh Jackman, the actor is going to give $100K to the favorite non-profit of a person on Twitter. You have to use Twitter to convince him.
Greta has the best line yet -
"My wings are real and they are spectacular http://soldiersangels.org"
Navy commissions destroyer honoring Coronado's Stockdale
By Matthew T. Hall Union-Tribune Staff Writer
2:16 p.m. April 18, 2009
PORT HUENEME, Calif. — The U.S. Navy commissioned its newest guided-missile destroyer Saturday in a ceremony honoring Coronado's own Vice Adm. James Stockdale, the ship's namesake.
Four thousand folding chairs stood on the dock at the Naval Base Ventura County near Oxnard, in front of a gray behemoth there to be christened the USS Stockdale, in remembrance of one of the Navy's most highly decorated officers.
Most of those seats were filled before the hour-long ceremony began under a bright, cloudless sky at 11 a.m. Attendees reserved their loudest applause for the dozens of veterans and prisoners of war on hand, a group that included four Medal of Honor recipients.
Former presidential candidate Ross Perot, who chose Stockdale as his running mate in 1992, called his late friend a man of steel, a moniker made for Superman but fitting for someone who now has a ship named after him.
Stockdale was “tougher than steel when he was challenged on his principles” as a prisoner of war in North Vietnam, Perot said. “He did not bend, he did not break.”
Adm. Timothy Keating, commander of the U.S. Pacific Command, later urged the crew of the Stockdale to “remember that name, wear your uniforms and execute your missions with honor.”
One of Stockdale's granddaughters drew cheers when she uttered the ceremonial words: “Officers and crew of the USS Stockdale, man our ship and bring her to life.”
With that, a parade of white-uniformed sailors sprinted single-file onboard the destroyer, which will soon head back to San Diego, where it arrived in late March after being built in Maine. Within moments, the sailors were all positioned at points on the ship, hands clasped behind their backs.
Smoke erupted from the ship and four planes zoomed overhead as a horn blew. The ceremony concluded with a private tour of the ship for the veterans and prisoners of war who attended with wives and guests.
The group strode through narrow corridors, past white painted walls and across pristine floors. Some commented they had never seen a ship so spotless.
Bill Stark is a retired Navy captain who lives in Coronado, is friends with the Stockdales and also was a prisoner of war. He said the day brought him full circle.
“And this is the best part of the whole circle, to see this magnificent ship with (Stockdale's) name on it,” Stark said. “The role of this ship is similar to his role in life. It's at the tip of the spear, as he was the tip of the spear in the P.O.W. community.
“He's the reason a lot of us are here today.”
Stockdale died at age 81 at home in Coronado in 2005, surrounded by his wife, Sybil, and four grown sons. A fighter pilot who flew 201 carrier-based missions, he was the highest-ranking naval officer captured during the Vietnam War, spending 7½ grueling years in captivity after being shot down.
Stockdale received the Medal of Honor in 1976. His 26 combat decorations include two Distinguished Flying Crosses, two Purple Hearts and four Silver Stars.
The USS Stockdale's motto is “Return with honor.”
H/T FlyNavy on Twitter
Left to right sit Raiders' historian Carroll Glines of Dallas, Texas, Tom Griffin of Cincinnati, Ohio, David Thatcher of Mizzoula, Mont., and Richard Cole of Comfort, Texas, during a luncheon in their honor. – Rich Glickstein
Descendents of Doolittle Raiders celebrate alongside the war heroes
By JEFF WILKINSON - email@example.com
For Todd Joyce of Louisville, Neb., the annual Doolittle Raiders reunion is more than just a gathering of old warriors.
It’s a family reunion.
Joyce is the son of the late Raider Dick Joyce, pilot of Plane No. 10 and crew mate with the late Raider Horace “Sally” Crouch of Columbia.
He was one of about 40 Raider children and grandchildren who traveled to Columbia from across the nation for this week’s 67th anniversary reunion of his father’s famous Tokyo Raid.
“We would find it real hard to sit home on April 18,” Joyce said.
On that date in 1942, the 80 Raiders flew 16 Army bombers off a Navy carrier and bombed Japan just four months after Pearl Harbor. It is the most famous air raid in U.S. history.
Each year but two since 1946, the Raiders and their families have gathered to remember those who have passed, drink a toast to those who died in the past year and catch up with what they refer to as their extended family.
This year’s reunion, sponsored by the Celebrate Freedom Foundation, was the third in Columbia. The Raiders volunteered for their mission at the old Columbia Air Base, now Columbia Metropolitan Airport, and because of that, feel a special bond with the city, Joyce said.
While the Raiders drew thousands to an air show and autograph session on Saturday, family members were everywhere, quietly working behind the scenes or just enjoying the day.
Cindy Cole Chai of Comfort, Texas, daughter of Raider Dick Cole, worked the merchandise table along with John Griffin of Murray, Ky., son of Raider Tom Griffin, proud that their parents are still being honored for their heroism.
Tom Griffin keeps a full public schedule back in Cincinnati where he lives, his son said, and it helps keep him young.
“He could just sit back and watch television,” said John Griffin, 67. “But the reception he gets is always so overwhelming. And he loves it. It has really helped him since the death of my mother.”
Cities usually vie for the honor of hosting the Raiders. They are wined, dined, feted and flown for free from coast to coast each year.
The children would also be the beneficiaries of that attention.
“We got into some trouble,” remembered Beverly Daigle, 64, of New Orleans, who was visiting Columbia with siblings Barbara Lewis of Dallas, Connie Townsend of Cocodrie, La., and Tommy Bourgeois of Kingsport, Tenn.
They are the children of the late Raider Robert C. Bourgeois, bombardier of Plane No. 13.
Beverly remembers a $400 room service tab the four rang up in a Los Angeles hotel in the 1960s. “We thought, ‘This is Hollywood!’ Oh, well.’”
Gen. Davy Jones, who led the Raiders after Jimmy Doolittle’s death in 1990s, used to have a special greeting for their hosts each year, John Griffin remembered.
“He would say, ‘We’re the world’s greatest freeloaders. Thanks for having us!’”
Jones died last year, along with Master Sgt. Ed Horton Jr. Only nine Raiders are still alive. Jones
and Horton were toasted by the four Raiders in attendance and their families in a legendary but very private tribute held behind close doors at the Columbia Marriott on Thursday morning.
The toast was made with silver goblets donated by the city of Tucson in 1959 that are always guarded by at least two cadets from the U.S. Air Force Academy.
This year one of those cadets was Meghan Wildner, granddaughter of the late Raider Carl Wildner, navigator on Plane No. 2.
She handed the goblets to Raiders Dick Cole, Robert Hite, David Thatcher and Griffin.
“I was nervous; I didn’t want to spill it,” she said. “It was very emotional. It was touching, for sure.”
Joyce said the Raider children and grandchildren will keep meeting on April 18 each year, even after the last of the old heroes has raised his glass.
“We won’t draw crowds and we won’t sign autographs, but we’ll be with our extended families,” he said. “It’s a way to give back, share memories and remember.”
Tyler Bourgeois, 8, of Kingsport, Tenn., looks through the nose area of a B-25J Mitchell named Panchito on display. Bourgeois' grandfather was the bombardier on No. 13, "The Avenger." – Rich Glickstein
Saturday, April 18, 2009
Friday, April 17, 2009
I want to blog about this cool pic I got in email.
I want to blog about how beautiful it was to be on the waterfront this morning.
I want to blog about the SecDef being at the NWC in Newport today.....and no one invited me!!!! WTF?
But my head is killing me and I am superstressed about Jen, money, DC and life in general.
In anticipation of the trip to DC I have been making accelerated payments on the one credit card I have. A good chunk of the cost will be reimbursed, but I still have to front it. So I have been preparing (I know, unusual for me), and now I've lost the card. I've searched everywhere. So I called to cancel it and get a new one. I explained that I need it for the trip. They are expediting it, but now I will worry until I have it. If I don't get it in time, I am screwed. It was already going to be tight.
I got together all the paperwork for the fitness benefit for Blue Cross. I got everyone forms. I got everyone's documentation. I gave everyone the fax number. Everyone got checks but me. Blue Cross says they have up to two weeks to do it, but it's been three weeks today.
Jen and I went to her doctor Monday. It was a good visit, we love Dr. V. But it's still stressful and now she doesn't feel well. Will she be better by the time we head for DC? I don't know.
I'm going into the office kitchen and see if there is any chocolate.
Thursday, April 16, 2009
By Carol GlatzCatholic News Service
VATICAN CITY (CNS) -- Pope Benedict XVI celebrated a low-key birthday with his brother at the papal villa in Castel Gandolfo.
The pope, who turned 82 April 16, had a very informal "family celebration" that included a visit by a small group of top Vatican officials, the Vatican's spokesman, Jesuit Father Federico Lombardi, told reporters.
The officials, including the secretary of state, Cardinal Tarcisio Bertone, visited the pope in the morning to offer their birthday wishes.
The pope then had a private lunch with his brother, Msgr. Georg Ratzinger, who turned 85 early this year, Father Lombardi said.
The Vatican spokesman said the pope received from government and church leaders worldwide many letters wishing him a happy birthday and "even some sweets."
Italian President Giorgio Napolitano, who sent a special written message for the pope's birthday and the fourth anniversary of his election as pope April 19, thanked Pope Benedict for his support of those hit by the April 6 earthquake in central Italy.
The president thanked him for his words and gestures, which he said "comforted the whole nation and encouraged us to deeply embrace the message of hope that comes with the celebration of Easter."
Father Lombardi said the German band that had been in St. Peter's Square during the pope's weekly general audience April 15 had gone out to Castel Gandolfo where the pope was staying.
He said band members played "a small concert" of two musical interludes in the courtyard of the papal villa for the pope on the eve of his birthday.
During the general audience at the Vatican, pilgrims had broken into a spontaneous rendition of "Happy birthday, dear Benedict" followed by an encore with musical accompaniment by the German band, whose members wore traditional German costumes.
Smaller groups of pilgrims also sang birthday greetings in their native languages at different moments during the audience.
Written by NBVC Public Affairs
Wednesday, 15 April 2009
Sailors aboard PCU Stockddale (DDG 106) man the rails April 14 during their arrival at Naval Base Ventura County in preparation for the ship's upcoming commissioning ceremony. Stockdale is scheduled for commissioning April 18 in Port Hueneme, Calif. and will be Commander, U.S. 3rd Fleet's newest addition to the destroyer fleet. Destroyers like the Stockdale provide multi-mission offensive and defensive capabilities and can operate independently or as part of carrier strike groups, surface action groups, amphibious ready groups, and underway replenishment groupsdependently or as part of carrier strike groups, surface action groups, amphibious ready groups, and underway replenishment groups.
Seriously, I like LT Nixon's better.
Tuesday, April 14, 2009
Ship Captain Rescued 13th Marine Expeditionary Unit Video by Cpl. Oscar GarciaDate Taken: 04.13.2009Posted: 04.13.2009 10:01Somolia,
XSB-roll of Maersk-Alabama Capt. Richard Phillips, being welcomed aboard USS Boxer (LHD 4), April 12, after being rescued by U.S Naval Forces off the coast of Somalia. Philips was held hostage for four days by pirates. Produced by Cpl. Oscar G. Garcia.
H/T to MCPONPOA on Twitter
Also, "God Bless the Easter Seals!"
I want something from you all. I won't cost anything. Just a few clicks with your mouse.
Roselle Portin is a Soldier's Angel and her adopted soldier is coming home soon. She wants to do something special for him and his family. She found a "'Win a Family Dude Ranch Vacation" contest.
All I am asking is that you go to the website and vote for Roselle.
It's very easy.
Step One - Click on this link for the "Red Horse Mountain Ranch"
Step Two - On the right, just under the banner, click on "Win A Famile Dude Ranch Vacation at Reg Horse Mountain Ranch"
Step Three - Vote for Roselle Portin, she is the first entry.
How easy is that?
Hurry up, it ends soon, and pass it along.
Each computer can only vote once so you need your friends and family to vote! The winner will be chosen April 15, 2009 at 12 pm PST.
*****UPDATE***** Apparently I am a little slow on my Amoxicillin/Keflex/Oxycodone regemin. Skip Step One. Go right to Step Two.
Vote for Roselle Portin.
They don't let you embed it. You have click the link. It's totally worth the time.
Click. The. Link.
Here is the most important short-term answer -
Somali Pirates:"Convoys Could Work"
There are a multitude of things we need to do in the long term. But for now - Convoy.
Monday, April 13, 2009
Of course the Pope said no.
I am a Catholic and I can not think of anything more offensive than the Obama administration floating a trial balloon on Caroline Kennedy as envoy to the Holy See.
What's next? Maybe a Hassidic Jew to Saudi Arabia? I know! One of those Hamas fundraiser guys to Israel......or better yet, a Holocaust denier. Maybe David Duke to Kenya?
What an incredibly tone deaf move. Did they really think Pope Benedict wasn't going to notice? It's not like there wasn't a clue or twenty to be gleened from the Pelosi visit.
You know I am so sick and tired of listening to people tell me how truly brilliant Obama is. What a load of crap.
Posted by Chad Finn, Globe Staff April 13, 2009 05:42 PM
Mark Fidrych, a Northborough native whose aw-shucks charm and on-the-mound antics helped make him a national phenomenon as a Detroit Tigers rookie pitcher in 1976, was killed in an accident in his hometown this afternoon while working on his pickup truck. He was 54.Fidrych, who won 19 games as a rookie before injuries derailed his career, was found dead on his 107-acre farm this afternoon, according to the office of Worcester District Attorney Joseph D. Early Jr. Fidrych was found by a family friend underneath his truck at about 2:30 p.m.
Sunday, April 12, 2009
I am very lucky
I will head up to Boston in a few minutes and spend this day with various members of my family. I bought a card for my parents that plays "A Tisket A Tasket" and it tickled me to no end. I managed to refrain from buying a book for my mother that I wanted to read as opposed to one I knew she wanted to read, lol.
I am lucky and I am mindful that many are not so lucky. I am also mindful that in many respects my happiness is owed to those who would willingly give up their comfort for mine.
I am grateful.
There is a Facebook page that you can join to show support for the family of CAPT Richard Phillips. I would encourage everyone to join.
Saturday, April 11, 2009
Here is commentary that Tom wrote over at CNN.
Commentary: Take fight to the pirates
By Tom Wilkerson
Special to CNN
Editor's note: Tom Wilkerson is chief executive officer of the United States Naval Institute, a nonprofit professional association which describes itself as an independent forum for examining issues related to the Navy, Marines and Coast Guard. He spent 31 years in the military, rising to major general of Marines and, in his last assignment, serving as commander, Marine Forces Reserve.
CNN) -- It is well past time to take a serious look at piracy off the coast of Africa.
Initially, the U.S. ignored the threat, and when public outcry about our seeming indifference became louder, we formed a combined task force of international navies in the Gulf of Aden under command of a U.S. Navy rear admiral to "deter, disrupt and thwart" the pirates.
Today, it is clear that initiative has failed. In fact, this bit of muscle-flexing did so little to intimidate pirates operating out of Somalia that they have actually increased the number of attacks in the last month.
Significant among those attacks, pirates on Wednesday boarded and temporarily held a U.S.-flagged vessel, the container ship Maersk Alabama. The U.S. crew and its captain retook the vessel, but at the price of the captain becoming a hostage to the four pirates in one of the Maersk Alabama's lifeboats. Several hours later a U.S. warship, the Aegis destroyer USS Bainbridge, arrived on scene and, as I write, the standoff with the pirates continues.
What an embarrassing and frustrating event! A bunch of maritime thugs brazenly seized a vessel flying the flag of the nation with the most powerful navy the world has ever known. The fault does not lie with the ships and sailors of Combined Task Force-151. They have been given the proverbial mission impossible -- stop pirate attacks in an area four times the size of Texas with only three U.S. Navy ships and a total of 12 to 15 allied/friendly warships. Not gonna happen!
But embarrassment aside, there is real potential for loss of life and for continued attacks on vessels plying these waters. The issue is simple but difficult -- how do we eliminate the pirate threat?
Strangely, we seem unable to learn from our own history. In 1804 President Thomas Jefferson said "Enough" to paying 20 percent of the U.S. national budget as tribute to Barbary pirates. His response was clear and successful -- build a strong naval task force, equip it with a sizeable contingent of Marines, and send it to attack and defeat the pirates in their lair. The sailors and Marines sent on that mission did just that -- and in the process wrote a stirring page in our nation's early history.
The problem today is that we have refused to take the Jefferson model. We've confined our anti-piracy efforts to the open seas and left the pirates' home bases on land as a sanctuary. Thus, the pirates continue to operate with relative freedom and stealth. We and our allies only respond, never seizing the initiative.
The Jefferson model is a better answer: Take on the pirates where they are, rather than guessing where they will be. In short, attack them at their home bases.
There they are vulnerable. There is where they plan and prepare for raids on vessels. There is where they arrange ransom for held ships and crew members. From these bases, pirates are free to conduct raids without fear of reprisal, let alone interference from organized justice. They are free to venture out to prey upon one of the 33,000 ships that pass near their coast each year, knowing that they can return to the absolute security of their land bases and enjoy their spoils.
It is time to change strategy and take the fight to the pirates, as our military predecessors did with great success more than 200 years ago.
In the 21st century, anti-piracy measures should ideally be the responsibility of local and regional law enforcement. Unfortunately, the non-functioning government of Somalia is unable to bring police or military forces to bear against criminal piracy launched from its own territory.
The predicament has done much to foster piracy, greatly growing the number of pirates and further encouraging their lawless behavior. They are well aware that the rewards of their activities far exceed the risks. With the potential to make millions of dollars through extortion, the Somalia-based pirates take comfort in having no fear of being arrested in their homes for their crimes, and obviously have little fear of being caught on the high seas despite the presence of the combined task force.
Of course, attacking pirate land bases in Somalia as the U.S. did against the Barbary pirates in Tripoli two centuries ago is not a simple proposition. Even without a functioning government present in Somalia, the U.S. and other countries whose ships are threatened are not free to conduct military operations on Somali soil at will.
There are many complicated legal issues concerning sovereignty and laws of armed conflict that need to be thought through before any real action can be initiated. However, these issues must be explored so that the option of a more forceful policy can be duly considered.
Some may argue that the destruction of the ships and bases of pirates is merely attacking the symptom without curing the disease. They believe that piracy cannot be defeated until its causes are sufficiently addressed. These causes are usually identified as abysmal economic conditions and the lack of a strong national infrastructure.
Previous attempts to undertake larger scale law-and-order projects in Somalia, however, have resulted in a tragedy now memorialized in the national psyche simply as Black Hawk Down. Hence my argument for consideration of smaller-scale actions targeted specifically against the criminal pirates.
Retaliatory and preemptive strikes on known bases are certainly not the only options in dealing with the Somalia pirates, but current policy has already proven to be fairly futile in dissuading attacks.
Those who desire to combat piracy by bringing stability to Somalia must accept that the noble effort will take several years, potentially leaving thousands of ships vulnerable to attack in the meantime. One thing is for certain: Allowing the pirates to have sanctuary while also giving them a clear advantage in the rules of engagement is not going to stop their activities any time soon.
The opinions expressed in this commentary are solely those of Tom Wilkerson
CNN) -- An Italian tugboat sent a distress call to a NATO ship Saturday before it was hijacked by pirates in the Gulf of Aden, the tug's owner told CNN.
Claudio Bartolotti owns Micoperi Marine Contractors, based in the Italian city of Ravenna. He said he spoke with the captain of the Buccaneer at 11 a.m., and all was well.
An hour later, Micoperi received an e-mail from the captain saying the boat had been seized by pirates, Bartolotti said. He has heard nothing since.
The Buccaneer, which flies an Italian flag, has 16 crew members -- 10 Italians, five Romanians and one Croatian. It was pulling two barges.
The Gulf of Aden is off the East African nations of Eritrea, Djibouti and Somalia.
Earlier Saturday, Cmdr. Chris Davies from the Northwood Maritime Command center in the United Kingdom, said a NATO ship about 100 miles away from the tug picked up its distress call, but was too far away to help.
Davies had described the Buccaneer as American-owned, flying an Italian flag. He said the pirates approached the tug at 11:46 a.m., and within about five minutes it was in their hands.
This is being discussed at Information Dissemination in depth and with much more knowledge than you will find here.
A Placid Man on Land, Caught in a Drama at Sea
By SERGE F. KOVALESKI and ABBY GOODNOUGH
Published: April 10, 2009
UNDERHILL, Vt. — At sea he is intense and resolute, so when Capt. Richard Phillips tried to escape his pirate captors Friday by leaping off their slow-moving lifeboat, some of his closest friends did not blink.
But at home, friends and relatives said, Captain Phillips, 53, is a consummate regular guy who worships Boston sports teams, particularly the Celtics, shoots hoops at the Y.M.C.A., plays golf with retirees and faithfully picks up muffins for Sunday brunch with his family. When he is away, plying dangerous ocean waters as a merchant ship captain, the image his neighbors here remember is of him placidly riding his lawnmower.
Now he is at the center of an extraordinary international incident. “When he went for that swim today, it didn’t surprise me at all,” said Peter Wakefield, who grew up with the captain outside Boston and visited him last month. “He’s got good intuition, and he’s a very determined guy.”
A few weeks ago, Captain Phillips was wrapping up three months of downtime with ordinary fun. He snowboarded during Mr. Wakefield’s visit, filled out brackets for a college basketball tournament pool and had a quiet farewell dinner with his extended family before heading back to sea.
“He has never been into big goodbyes,” said Tom Coggio, his brother-in-law, who lives nearby. “For Richard, it’s just a job.”
As Captain Phillips spent a third day as the lone hostage of Somali pirates who attacked his cargo ship Wednesday off the Horn of Africa, friends and relatives here in Underhill and around New England spoke of the two sharply contrasting sides of the man: the professional one, meticulous and highly competent; and the off-duty one, affable, humorous and content to play pickup basketball, go snowmobiling and do chores around the house.
“He was a different guy when he was out to sea,” Mr. Coggio said Friday. “He was very by-the-book.”
Captain Phillips grew up with seven brothers and sisters in Winchester, Mass., a close-knit town where his father coached high school basketball. He played varsity football, lacrosse and basketball, said Donald Carey, a childhood neighbor who recalled him as modest and wryly funny.
“Never any fanfare out of this guy,” said Mr. Carey, who has not seen the captain in years. “If you went to a picnic and forgot your lunch, he’d give you half of his.”
While Captain Phillips’s family hunkered down on Friday, the standoff near the coast of Somalia intensified as American naval reinforcements moved in. There were also reports that the four pirates, desperate to reach shore with their captive, also had called in additional vessels and men.
The French authorities, meanwhile, said they had sent forces to end a separate hostage-taking by pirates elsewhere off Somalia, one of the most notoriously lawless stretches of international waters. The operation left one hostage and two pirates dead.
American defense officials have so far been reluctant to take such an aggressive approach to rescuing Captain Phillips, who was seized when the pirates commandeered his American-flagged container ship, the Maersk Alabama. The Navy has asked F.B.I. officials trained in hostage negotiations for help.
A separate group of pirates on a hijacked German ship attempted to aid their comrades Saturday, but they were forced to return to the Somali coast when they failed to locate the drifting lifeboat. "We almost got lost because we could not find the bearing of the lifeboat," one pirate on the German ship told Reuters.
Mr. Coggio, whose sister, Andrea, married Captain Phillips in 1987 after they met in Boston, said that his brother-in-law had acknowledged the dangers of his job and spoke of the protocols and tools he and his crew had to repel pirates. “He has talked about air horns that would blow your ears out,” Mr. Coggio said, “or fire hoses that would knock you right down.”
Mr. Wakefield said Captain Phillips was used to working hard to get what he wanted. He drove a cab in Boston to pay his way through college, Mr. Wakefield said, at the University of Massachusetts and later at the Massachusetts Maritime Academy, where he graduated in 1979.
“With eight kids, his parents couldn’t be sending everybody off to Harvard,” he said. “Nothing was ever given to him; everything he’s ever gotten, he had to work for.”
Despite his low-key demeanor at times, Mr. Wakefield and others said, Captain Phillips is a hard-charging athlete whose strength and agility could help him survive the ordeal. He plays a ferocious game of basketball — “one of these guys who was all over the court,” said Kevin Hatin, the fitness director at the Greater Burlington Y.M.C.A. — and he broke his neck trying to make a catch during an informal football game a while back.
“The doctors were like, ‘One more millimeter and you would have been a quadriplegic,’ ” Mr. Coggio recalled. “That was a blessing, and we could use another one like that right now.”
Captain Phillips has also refereed basketball games at a middle school and plays golf with a group of retirees at courses around the state. Barney Kelley, 75, said that on the golf course, the captain likes to tell stories about life at sea and jokes he heard on his trips.
“He talked mostly about the ocean, ships and boats,” Mr. Kelley said. “He loves what he does and I don’t think he would do anything else in life.”
Two of Captain Phillips’s brothers-in-law and a close friend here are also merchant seamen, Mr. Coggio said, and they are among the few people he socializes with at home.
But most of his attention goes to his wife, who is an emergency room nurse, and their college-age children, Mariah and Danny, Mr. Coggio and others said. He sticks close to his modest white house with a picket fence, doing the chores that mount in his absence.
“I know when he’s home his wife gives him a ‘Honey to-do list,’ ” Mr. Kelley said.
On Friday morning, Mr. Coggio recalled that the captain played his saxophone from time to time, although he was more shy about it than he was when he played in the high school band. He also enjoys listening to the blues and shares, with his wife, a liking of the blues singer Taj Mahal. But by the afternoon, Mr. Coggio and other family members appeared increasingly anxious about the escape attempt and the extended wait for good news.
Captain Phillips was in the water for a short time before the pirates hauled him back on board, said an American defense official who asked not to be identified because he was not authorized to speak about the matter. He was not hurt, the official said.
But Catherine Coggio, his mother-in-law, was rattled.
“Just when we thought he was safe, this happens,” Ms. Coggio said, weeping as she spoke. “This is so terrible.”
Serge F. Kovaleski reported from Underhill, and Abby Goodnough from Boston. Sharon Otterman contributed reporting from New York, Elisabeth Bumiller from Washington, and Dirk Van Susteren from Underhill.