Thursday, March 31, 2005

Terri Schiavo, RIP

Terri Schiavo's ordeal has ended.

In deference to the family, I won't say anything else except to note that her loving, kind, and understanding husband refused to allow her parents to be at her bedside when she died.

What a class act.

Episode III of El-ahrairah’s Continuing Iraqi Saga: Arrival in the Land of Sand and Terrorists.

Note: Due to problems with his server, ol' El has requested that I post this edition for him.

It’s amazing what a night of rest will do. As luck would have it, the aircrew was able to fix the airplane (if there was a problem at all) and we boarded the plane (a C-17) which took us to Iraq. The inside of the plane is bare like a warehouse and it was full of cargo on pallets down the center, but there were webbed seats facing towards the center along the sides of the plane. We found a seat and were issued ear plugs and given a box lunch. It contained two sandwiches, a soda, a bottle of water, a bag of Fritos, some Oreos, a Dole fruit cup, a Jello cup and an apple. It’s not first class, but I bet I ate more on that flight than I ever had on a commercial airline. We got intoIraq at around midnight Iraqi time. After the formalities of getting our baggage, I was taken to my new home for three months were I tried to get some sleep.

Although I often bad-mouth the Air Farce, there was one incident which made me smile. Apparently, the day that I got to Germany, there was another flight to Iraq which was cancelled due to aircraft problems (what else is new?). On this flight, there was a army colonel and his sergeant-major. They were told not to worry since the Air Farce would take care of them and notify them when their flight was ready. Believing the Air Farce, they went to wait in their hotel rooms. The next day, since they had not been contacted by the Air Farce, the sergeant-major decided to see what was going on. Seeing that there were flights leaving for Iraq with Space-A seats available, he contacted the colonel and they returned in a haste to see why they had not been called by the Air Farce. The colonel went up to the airman behind the Space-A counter and demanded to know why he had not been contacted, etc. The airman tried to explain, but the colonel was not listening. He went on and on about how important he was and how important it was for him to get to Iraq TODAY! Finally, he banged his boarding pass down on the counter and ordered the airman (an E-5) that he had to get him to Iraq NOW! I guess the colonel was used to making soldiers jump when he talked and assumed that an O-6 making demands would have some pull with an Air Farce E-5. The E-5 told him that he was right, but he could not put him on an aircraft with authorization from someone at Scott AFB. Seeing that the E-5 wasn’t crumbling under his presence, he asked who was in charge, thinking that it was some 1st lieutenant that he could bully around. The person in charge was an E-6 who came out and told him the same thing which was essentially, “Okay, I agree with you but I cannot do anything to help you.” Finally, he slunk off, having been put in his place by an E-5. The sergeant-major then started talking to them, trying to see why they were not contacted and again, the E-5/E-6 agreed with everything he said about there needing to be a procedure in case of situations like this, yada, yada, yada, but he wasn’t to blame and he can’t do anything else besides put their names on the Space-A list. I just gave me a warm feeling inside to see an Air Farce E-5 put a colonel in his place.

Tuesday, March 29, 2005

Liberals bet on the wrong horse...again

Captain Holly has recognized the political significance of the Terri Schiavo case for some time now. And unlike the MainStreamMedia, I recognize that this issue has the potential to blow up in the faces of the embodiment of America's Left wing, the Democrat party. Sure enough, three news stories have surfaced today that demonstrate maybe the Democrats and the pro-death liberals have bet on the wrong horse...again.

The first is the somewhat surprising appearance of Jesse Jackson at Terri's hospice. Now it's not surprising the good Reverend Jackson would seek out the cameras; what is surprising are his staunch pro-life views. While Rev. Jackson is not a spokesman for all African-Americans, he does represent the generally pro-life views of the majority of religious blacks. Strike one against the liberals.

The second is the announcement that the Pope might have a feeding tube inserted into him. What, you say? You mean the Pope, arguably the most recognized man in the world, will be getting the same treatment as Terri Schiavo? And he's not brain-damaged? Strike two against the liberals.

The third is this column in that far-right journal, the Village Voice. In it, ultra-conservative ideologue Nat Hentoff unloads both rhetorical barrels on his fellow leftists, demonstrating that not all who are opposed to Terri's starvation are "snake-handlers" and "theocrats". Strike three against the liberals.

In truth, one didn't need these stories to understand that the MSM's hysteria about fracturing Republicans and Christian Mullahs running the government were bunk. Just a quick review of all the moderate, red-state Congressional Democrats who voted for the bill allowing federal review of the case, or the fact that no prominent Democrat has even gotten near Michael Schiavo, provides all the necessary evidence. This issue is political poison for them, and the Democrats know it.

And once again, they've bet on the wrong horse.

Monday, March 28, 2005

El-ahrairah's Continuing Iraqi Saga: Waiting for a milair flight to Iraq

In our last installment of El-ahrairah's Continuing Iraqi Saga, we find our hero being tortured by being forced to wait and wait and wait for a milair flight to Iraq. However, things started looking up when a flight was found with lots and lots of seats available. Our hero was very happy now that he could leave the land of bier and bratwurst and fly to the land of sand and terrorists. However, his joy was short-lived due to his flight being delayed due to thunder and lightning. But, after two hours, he was again happy because things were moving ahead and he was loaded on a bus with the rest of the travellers and taken out to the airplane. However, his joy was again dashed to bits on the rocky crags of reality because when they arrived at the airplane, they were told to return the terminal because the airplane was broken. At the terminal, our hero and the other travellers were told that the Air Farce would fix the plane and that they would only have to wait for an hour and half. But alas, the evil "mandatory crew rest" demon raised it's ugly head and forced the aircrew to stop all work for the night and go to bed. Our intrepid hero and his fellow travellers were told to return to the air terminal the next day and "fer sure" they would soon be on their way to the land of sand and terrorists. It was said that the depending on where the aircrew happens to be, the evil "mandatory crew rest" demon can be ignored. For example, if the aircrew found themselves in the evil land of burkas and terrorists, they would ignore the demon so that they could leave very quickly. However, since they were in the land of bier, bratwurst and buxom bar maids by the name of Brunhilda, they decided that they should appease the evil "mandatory crew rest" demon and make the mandatory "sacrifice".

So, as we leave our hero, he is still waiting for the "freedom flight" to the land of sand and terrorists. The aircrew has satisfied the "mandatory crew rest"demon and hopefully, the Air Farce will have fixed the plane. If not, whoo-hoo, another night of lodging in the land of bier and bratwurst.

Sunday, March 27, 2005

A Question for all you Michael Schiavo fans

Over at the Sandleford Warren, Bigwig had his obligatory Terri Schiavo post. In the comments, I ask a question to Michael Schiavo supporters that bears repeating:

Doesn't it make anyone feel just a teensy bit uncomfortable that the only person, the only person, who says that Terri would not want to live this way is her adulterous husband who stands to benefit financially from her death?

So, what's your answer? Think about it.

Live "waiting for a mil-flight" blogging

While most everyone else is going to church on Easter, I'm here sitting in an AMC passenger terminal in Germany trying to get myself to Iraq. I started my travel adventure yesterday when I left Italy for Germany by a commercial flight. I arrived in Germany about 1200 noon and proceeded immediately for the air base where the AMC passenger terminal was (it's just on the other side of the commercial German runway). I signed up for Space-Available travel and now I've been here for 24 hours waiting for a seat on a cargo flight. Where I'm going, there are no direct passenger flights, so either I wait here for a flight or route thru Kuwait and do what I'm doing here in Kuwait. Anyway, I'm hoping that I will be able to get on a flight later tonight. If not, well, there is always tomorrow.

It could be worse. At least I have a rental car and I'm able to sleep at the local Air Farce Inn, so I'm pretty well just wasting my time. Everything is pretty well shutdown for the Easter weekend so there is not much to do, even if I wanted to leave the base. So, I wait and wait and wait and wait. Some may wonder as to the reason that I'm waiting so long. The reason is that the Air Farce gets points for moving cargo, not warm bodies, ergo, cargo has priority. If there is an opening, they will put people on the plane. If not, oh well. So, when people complain about how badly run certain US airline companies are, just remember that there is always a worse one called "Air Farce".

Saturday, March 26, 2005

Grim irony

I don't know if the editors at Pravda intended to do it, but one the lead items on the front page of today's web edition is this story. The Terri Schiavo story, arguably the biggest news item in America, is not displayed on the front page.

So, let me get this straight: 5 starving elk in central Utah were shot because it was considered to be too cruel to let them suffer any further, but a disabled woman in Florida is being allowed to die of dehydration because her adulterous husband told a court that's what she wanted?

I simply don't get it at all.

On March 26th in military 1943

On this day in military history….in 1943. The US fleet stops a Japanese re-supply convoy at the Battle of the Komandorski Islands. In June 1942, to decoy the US from their planned invasion of Midway Islands, the Japanese invaded the Aleutian islands of Attu and Kiska. Although the Japanese were defeated at Midway, they did not immediately retreat from the Aleutians, continuing to send convoys to re-supply the garrisons. As during the Battle of Guadalcanal, the re-supply convoys usually consisted of a number of fast ships (converted warships or destroyers) which could either fight or run away if confronted by enemy forces. In March 1943, the US knew about an impending convoy and sent a force of four destroyers, one light cruiser (USS Richmond) and one heavy cruiser (USS Salt Lake City AKA “Swayback Maru”) out to intercept and destroy the convoy. However, un-beknownst to the US fleet, the escort for the convoy consisted of two heavy cruisers, two light cruisers and four destroyers.

On the morning of 26 March, the two forces met each other south of the Komandorski Islands. The Komandorski Islands are located above 53 degrees N. latitude (the Artic Circle is at 66 degrees N. latitude) to the east of the Kamchatka Peninsula in the Bering Sea. The outside air temperature was just below freezing and the water temperature was just above freezing. The Japanese fleet started firing when the fleets were 11 miles apart. The Japanese concentrated their fire on the Salt Lake City since its 8-inch main guns were the only US weapons that could reach the Japanese at that distance. The battle went on so long (3 and ½ hours) that the Salt Lake City ran out of armor-piercing ammunition and had to switch to high-explosive ammunition. The she was hit three times by enemy shells before a fourth shell hit which flooded the engine room and cause her to go dead in the water. At this time, the Salt Lake City was low on ammunition and listing to port. The US destroyers started making smoke to hide the ship, but things weren’t looking good and preparations were being made to remove the crew from the ship before she sank or the Japanese arrived to finish her off. It looked like the end for the Salt Lake City when the Japanese, not knowing the extent of damage to the ship, decided to turn away. The reasons given were that they were low on fuel and ammunition and were afraid of being attacked by US bombers (who were at least a five-hour flight away). It also could have also been due to the fact that the Japanese believed that they were already under air attack since the misses from high-explosive ammunition that the Salt Lake City was firing looked like bombs dropped by airplanes. Whatever the reason, the Japanese decided to withdraw from the battle and leave the Salt Lake City to fight another day.

The result of the battle was a tactical draw with both sides receiving damage. However, it was a strategic victory for the United States as it hastened the defeat for the Japanese in the Aleutian Islands as they were no longer able to resupply their forces there by surface ship. It also added to the folklore surrounding the USS Salt Lake City during World War II. She was commissioned in December 1929 and when Pearl Harbor was attacked, she was at sea with the USS Enterprise. She unofficially participated in more enemy engagements than any other ship in the fleet. She earned 11 battle stars during the war and the Navy Unit Commendation for her actions during the Aleutians Campaign. After the war, she was used to evaluate the effects if atomic blasts on surface ships and survived two blasts in 1946. She was eventually sunk as a target hull off the coast of California in 1948.

Friday, March 25, 2005

Great Minds and All That

So I'm reading Instapundit today, and I come across this link to a StrategyPage post by James Dunnigan about the economic impact on China if the ChiComs ever went to war with the US over Taiwan. And this statement caught my attention:

If China goes to war with the United States, the first impact would not be bombs, but an end to exports to the United States. Putting over a hundred million Chinese out of work would have a larger impact than any bombing campaign. Taiwanese companies also control over $50 billion of economic activity in China. Taking Taiwan, in one piece, would add about ten percent to China's GDP. But the loss of American markets would be far greater. (emphasis added)

Hmmmm. That sounds familiar. So I went looking around and sure enough, I found a comment I made on a discussion thread at Kim du Toit's Nation of Riflemen Forum over a week ago, wherein I expressed the conviction that China would not invade Taiwan:

Why? Money. Taiwan is China's biggest investor; the US is China's biggest market. If there's a war, China's economy, and that of East Asia, will go into the tank. And 100 million suddenly unemployed Chinese peasants are much more worrisome to Beijing than an independent Taiwan. (emphasis added)

Great minds do indeed think alike.

Mr. Dunnigan, I don't mind that you might have taken some inspiration from my comments, but could you see your way to giving The Warren a link? We need all the help we can get.

Thursday, March 24, 2005

On March 24th in military 1944

On this day in military history….in 1944. 76 Allied air force personnel escape from Stalag III. Stalag III was a prisoner of war camp run by the German Luftwaffe for air force personnel located near Sagan (Zagan in modern day Poland), 160 kms south of Berlin. The story of the escape was later made into a movie entitled The Great Escape (duh!) starring Steve McQueen, Richard Attenbourgh, Donald Pleasance, James Garner, James Coburn and Charles Bronson which followed the events more closely than would be expected for a Hollywood movie.

The actual escape was carried out by mostly British and Canadian air force personnel since they made up most of the prisoners of the camp. The camp was built to discourage any tunneling escapes by elevating the barracks up on stilts so that the guards could see underneath. Microphones were placed in the ground to listen for digging and the ground underneath was also a light, sandy color that would be easily spotted by guards if found outside on the clothes of a prisoner. Even with these problems, the prisoners constructed three tunnels named “Tom”, “Dick” and “Harry”. They used everyday items to make digging implements and pieces of wood from their bunks to shore up the sides of the tunnel and even constructed an underground rail line to help them move the soil from the digging. Eventually, the entrance to “Tom” was discovered by guards, but work still proceeded on “Dick” and “Harry”. Finally, “Harry” was ready and on the 24th of March, a moonless night, the escape began. Unfortunately, the prisoners had miscalculated the length of the tunnel. It was originally supposed to open up into a wood outside the fence of the camp, but was too short so that it opened up in a clearing before the wood. Even with this problem, 76 men were able to escape from the camp before the escape was detected. Of the 76 men, three were able to evade capture. The three were two Norwegians who escaped thru the port of Stettin on the Baltic Sea on a Swedish cargo ship and a Dutch officer who escaped thru Holland to Belgium and then to France across the Pyrenees into Spain and finally to Gibraltar. Of the 73 others who were re-captured, 50 of them were shot on Hitler’s orders (he wanted all of them shot, but was dissuaded) and the other 23 were sent to other prisoner of war camps.

On the murder of Terri Schiavo

I've been unbelievably busy the past few days, to the point of not being able to blog on the biggest story in the news: The judically-ordered murder of Terri Schiavo.

I would love to write many lines about her disgusting, cheating, lying turd of a "husband" Michael, but I just don't have time. Or energy.

But I will link to someone who does, and who says about the same things I would have said (albeit with more profanity than I would have used).

Go and read.

Tuesday, March 22, 2005

On March 22nd in military 1942

On this day in military history….in 1942. The Italian Regia Marina wins the Second Battle of Sirte. The Battle of Sirte took place east of the island of Malta to the north of the Gulf of Sirte. Because of the stepped up bombing campaign of Malta by the Axis, the British needed to re-supply the garrison there and a convoy was sent out from Alexandria, Egypt on the 21st of March. Since the British had found the Italian Regia Marina quick to avoid surface engagements, a light escort that was heavy on anti-aircraft capabilities and light on surface-to-surface warfare capabilities was assigned to the convoy. If the Italian Regia Marina decided to attack, the British were expecting only light surface ships.

The next day, the British fleet spotted smoke on the horizon, but instead of light surface ships, there was a force of Italian heavy cruisers and destroyers followed by the battleship Littorio and more destroyers. The British forces started laying smoke to obscure the convoy and although the Italians outgunned the British forces and could have completely destroyed the convoy, they never pressed home the attack. As night fell, the Italians decided to break off the attack and return to harbor. The British had three cruisers and six destroyers damaged and the Italian suffered no real damage but two destroyers were lost later in a storm while returning to base. Most of the British escorts were short on fuel and turned back to Alexandria. The next day, the German/Italian air forces found what was left of the convoy and were able to sink a cargo ship and damage an oil tanker. After the convoy arrived at Malta, the harbor was attacked and the oil tanker was struck by bombs and rolled over and two more cargo ships were sunk. However, the British were able to salvage the oil in the tanker by making a hole in hull of the ship. Of the 26,000 tons of supplies which left Alexandria, only about 5,000 were ever unloaded at Malta.

Sunday, March 20, 2005

Finally a diplomat with balls

This link from LGF (what is the real meaning of "little green footballs"?) about President Bush's new nominee for ambassador to the UN, John Bolton. It links to another website which contains a Mark Steyn column from the U.K Spectator which talks about Mr. Bolton and just what he thinks about the UN. A few of Mr. Bolton's thoughts on the United Nations:

On the UN: "There is no such thing as the United Nations."

On the UN building: "If you lost ten storeys, it wouldn't make a bit of difference." (Note: In the run-up to the Iraq War, I found myself wondering what the world would have been like if the 9/11 terrorists had targeted the UN instead of the World Trade Center. I guess we will never know.)

On the reform of the Security Council: "If I were redoing the Security Council, I'd have one permanent member ...the United States."

On the International Criminal Court: "Fuzzy-minded romanticism ...not just naive but dangerous."

On international law in general: "It is a big mistake for us to grant any validity to international law."

On offering incentives to rogue states: "I don't do carrots."

Sounds like he has attended the Great El-ahrairah's School on International Diplomacy and Social Etiquette . I have often thought that the US needed a UN ambassador who would do a little bit less UN "butt-licking" and a bit more UN "butt-kicking". It looks like we may have found that man. Now if we could only get rid of "Kofi the Appeaser".

Six Nations Rugby Round-Up IV

This weekend was the last round of play in this year's edition of the Six Nations Rugby Tournament and Ireland travelled to Wales, France travelled to Italy and Scotland travelled to England. When the dust had cleared from the playing field, Wales beat Ireland 32 to 20, France had their way with Italy, 56 to 13 and England dominated Scotland 43 to 22. The winner of the tournament was Wales who also won the Grand Slam (no losses) and the Triple Crown (best record against the other anglophone teams). France was next with 4 wins and 1 loss followed by Ireland (3 wins, 2 losses), England (2 wins, 3 losses), Scotland (1 win, 4 losses) and finally bringing up the rear and the winner of the "pretigious" Wooden Spoon, Italy (0 wins, 5 losses). A rather interesting result seeing how over the last few years, the "powers" in European rugby have been France, England and Ireland. It gives Italy something to hope for since joining the Six Nations, Italy has "won" the wooden spoon 3 of 5 years. Maybe they need to find a better coach?

Just what caliber was that capgun, Tim?

This link on Instapundit led me to the webpage of Tim Lambert, who discusses a controversy brewing with fellow Australian blogger (and Warren Blogroll Member) Tim Blair. I am completely unfamiliar with the issue at hand, and don't really have the time and desire to get familiar, but I couldn't help but chuckle when I read this comment from an Instapundit reader:

UPDATE: Andy Freeman emails: "What is Lambert doing defending himself with a gun?"

For those who are not familiar with Mr. Lambert, he is an anti-gun blogger who seems to have made it his lifetime goal to turn pro-gun researcher John Lott into a conservative version of Michael Bellesiles. While his arguments against Lott's research are well-written and sophisticated, they have an air of abstract irrelevance about them, similar to a theologian arguing about the number of angels that can dance on the head of a pin. In short, Lambert relies upon complex statistical methods to argue that Lott's assertion that guns prevent crime is bunk. And he does it in a way that is so frightfully dull it fails to appeal to anyone but the true believers or hard-core statisticians.

Anyway, Lambert's response to the above comment is instructive. He reveals a picture of himself as a child, dressed as a cowboy and holding a toy gun and uses it as evidence he is not against guns per se. My first instinct was that he was being silly, but after reading the post several times it appears that is seriously arguing that his childhood ownership of a capgun means he has no anti-gun inclinations. That's roughly akin to an anti-war protestor arguing he's pro-military because he owned a GI Joe as a child.

While Mr. Lambert claims to never have explicitly stated a preference for gun control, his single-minded pursuit of Lott and skepticism of the benefits of liberalized concealed carry and widespread gun ownership would suggest the contrary. The truth is, nearly 5 million Americans now can legally carry concealed weapons, and that number is growing every year, as more and more states adopt "shall-issue" laws. Yet the US violent crime rate continues to decline. In Utah, for example, the number of concealed carry permittees has skyrocketed from 3,000 to almost 60,000 in the past 10 years, but the homicide rate has steadily declined during that period of time, reaching a 40-year low just last year.

It is possible that the two phenomena are not connected; after all, one of the first things I learned in graduate-school statistics was that correlation does not necessarily equal causation. Yet the data certainly do show that the nightmare scenarios of the anti-gunners -- increased homicide rates, shootouts at every traffic accident, wild-eyed vigilantes killing innocent bystanders -- have not materialized. That is reality. No amount of sophisticated statistical arguments can change it.

Saturday, March 19, 2005

On March 19th in military 2003

On this day in military 2003. The US, Great Britain, Australia and Poland, supported by other countries invade Iraq to remove Saddam Hussein from power. Saddam Hussein had spent the previous twelve years doing all in his power to avoid complying with the the surrender document that he had signed at the end of the First Gulf War. He was still trying to develope weapons of mass destruction and funding terrorists around the world. Finally, spurred on by the events of 9/11 and the successful "takedown" of Al Qaeda and the Tailban in Afghanistan, President George Bush throws down the gauntlet to the UN and Saddam Hussein: Either comply fully or be invaded. The UN, lead by Kofi the Appeaser, France, Russia and Germany, huffed and puffed and did essentially nothing, saying that any invasion of Iraq would not be legal. The US and it's allies told the UN to "stick it where the sun don't shine", and started Operation Iraqi Freedom, the invasion of Iraq to remove Saddam Hussein from power. After two years, Saddam is sitting in a jail cell waiting for his trial on war crimes to begin, his two sons are dead (thanks to the 101st Airborne), Iraq had completed its first democratic elections and terrorists are being killed "for the cause". Anyone with half-a-brain can see that the world is a better place thanks to President George Bush.

Thursday, March 17, 2005

Back to my home away from home away from home

Due to circumstances beyond my control (and the fact that I really, really like to sweat and eat sand), it's my turn to go on a three-month "bender" to the "Garden Spot of the Middle East", AKA "the Sandbox", "the S**thole", "I-Whack" or otherwise known as Iraq. As most readers of "The Warren" know, I spent the summer of 2003 sweating myself to death in Baghdad, or as I called it then, "Fragdad". I was located at coalition base were the Al-Faw Palace found (I contributed to the construction of a very prominent landmark while there) and where a certain LTC keeps sending Bigwig photos of Iraqi birds. Unfortunately, I won't be going back to Fraggie this time. I'll be located at another base. From what I have been told, things have gotten much better vis-a-vis living conditions from the last time I was there.

I do not know how much "blogging" I will be able to do since I don't know what Internet access will be. Depending on the base, the access could be rather "wild 'n' wooly" (everything open except porn sites) or "locked down" (everything blocked including and not limited to Yahoo!, CNN, FOX, etc.). Sometimes the military goes overboard on network security to the point that it affects the users ability to do their jobs which is what happens when "amateurs" are put in charge of network security. Example: Many years ago when I was working on an airbase in Saudi Arabia (another sandbox), Hotmail webmail was blocked, but not Yahoo! or Excite. The reason was the words "hotmail" had a pornographic connotation for the military who were controlling the Internet, ergo, it had to be blocked. BTW, anything with naked or scantily-clad women was off-limits in Saudi. The Saudis would even open and censor our mail ("opened for your protection") that arrived in country just to make sure nobody from the states was sending us subversive things like Vic's Secret catalogs or Sports Illustrated.

Anyway, I'll see what exactly I can do when I get there. If worse comes to worse, I'll send stuff to the Cap'n and he can post it for me. Some may think that three months is a hardship, but since I don't drink "adult beverages", this will be kind of like a vacation from the real world. For three months, I only have to worry about working, eating, sleeping and running in my spare time. What happens anywhere else will not be important since I won't be able to leave until my three months is up. So, like they say in Jamaica, "Don't worry, mon. Be happy."

On March 17th in military 1942

On this day in military history….in 1942. Belzec Concentration Camp opens. The Belzec Concentration Camp was the first of the Nazi extermination camps opened to implement Operation Reinhard, the extermination of Polish Jews. Operation Reinhard was named after SS-Obergruppenführer Reinhard Heydrich (who happily was assassinated by the Czech resistance in May 1942), the coordinator of the Final Solution, the extermination of the Jews living in German-occupied areas of Europe. Whereas camps like Auschwitz were “labor” camps, the three camps that were opened for Operation Reinhard (Belzec, Sobibor and Treblinka) were “death” camps. Jews were taken there only to be killed, just like an abattoir or slaughterhouse.

It was thru Operation Reinhard that the Nazis were able to perfect the ability to kill large amounts of human beings and dispose of the bodies. Belzec was in operation for only 9 months until it was shutdown due to the main reason that all the Jews in the surrounding areas had been exterminated and that the concentration camp at Auschwitz would be able to handle the rest. It is estimated that between 550,000 and 600,000 Jews and gypsies were gassed at Belzec. Only two people are known to have survived.

Tuesday, March 15, 2005

On March 15th in military 44 B.C. and 1939

On this day in military 44 B.C. Gaius Julius Caesar, dictator of Rome, is stabbed to death by Marcus Junius Brutus during the Ides of March. Although many people admire Caesar for his military prowess, the fact of the matter is that after defeating Pompey the Great and the Roman Senate during the Roman Civil War, he installed himself as the Roman emperor. Caesar had overthrown a representative-form of government (a democracy more-or-less) and had installed himself as a dictator (like Hitler, Stalin, Mao, Saddam Hussein, etc). He was assassinated by Brutus and his co-conspirators who were hoping to restore the Roman Republic. Looking at his death thru the lens of today makes what the conspirators did seem much more along the lines of our own American revolution. Unfortunately, the Roman republic never returned since Caesar's death ignited a new round of civil wars and the ultimate winner was Caesar's grand-nephew, Octavian, who would later change his name to Augustus and become the first Roman emperor.

On this day in military 1939. Germany occupies the rest of Czechoslovakia. Since Hitler had already been "given" the Sudentenland by the other European powers if he "played nice" at the Munich conference in 1938, he decided to just take the rest of Czechoslovakia without asking. After Slovakia declared its independence on 14 March, Czechoslovakia "allowed" German troops to pass thru its borders after Hitler threatened to bomb Prague. I'm sure Neville Chamberlain was very happy to know that "peace in our time" really meant "peace until Hitler decides otherwise."

Even dumber than Republicans

I used to think that Republicans, next to Libertarians, were the dumbest political party in America. Republicans in Congress and the White House (remember "Read my lips"?) would routinely surrender the high ground on an issue in order to please the editorial staff of the New York Times or Washington Post. Despite their obvious policy flaws, the Democrats at least tried to avoid pushing the hot buttons of a majority of Americans, especially during the Clinton years.

Not any more. After reading this and this, I have concluded the Democrats are giving the Republicans a run for their money for the title of Stupidest Political Party. Someone should tell Howard Dean that if he wants to make inroads into Red America, he'd better distance himself from the Liberal Loonies that make up his base.

For those who do not wish to see the Republicans destroy the Democrats in 2006, have no fear: The GOP will find a way to squander any advantage, and thus keep the races competitive.

You can count on it.

Sunday, March 13, 2005

Six Nations Rugby Round-Up III

The Six Nations Rugby Tournament picked up again this weekend after short hiatus and things are getting a bit more interesting. Before the last round of matches, both Ireland and Wales were undefeated and looking towards the Wales-Ireland match on the weekend of the 19th of March to crown the winner. BUT, the French decided to rain on this parade and went to Dublin and won against the Irish, 26 to 19. I tuned into the game when the score was 18-9. Ireland and France traded field goals to bring the score to 12-21 when Ireland scored a try with conversion for 19-21 in the last 10 minutes. All Ireland had to do was get a field goal and win the game when Benoit Baby, playing in his first international match, scored a try that knocked the wind out of Ireland’s sails and won the match. In other games, England outclassed Italy in London, 39 to 7 and Wales manhandled Scotland in Edimbough, 46 to 22. I caught the first half of the Wales-Scotland game and Wales looks really good this year. Although the score at the end of the game was 46 to 22, by the half, Wales was already ahead by over 30 points, so the game wasn’t all that close.

Next week is the final round in this years edition of the Six Nations and France travels to Rome, Ireland travels to Wales and England hosts Scotland. If Wales wins against Ireland, they win the Grand Slam and also the Triple Crown (the winner of the games between the English-speaking teams). France will probably win against Italy and Scotland will probably loose to England. So, the final standings will have Wales first with five wins followed by France and Ireland with four wins and one lost each (France wins on points). England will be next with two wins and three losses followed by Scotland with one win and four losses and Italy with no wins and five losses bring up the rear and “winning” the “wooden spoon”.

Thursday, March 10, 2005

On March 10th in military 241 BC

On this day in military history….in 241 BC. The Roman fleet defeats the Carthaginians at the Battle of the Aegates Islands which ends the First Punic War. Before the rise of the Roman Empire, the Carthaginian Empire ruled the Mediterranean. From Carthage (in present day Tunisia), Carthaginian trading ships roamed throughout the Mediterranean. As such, Carthage was extremely powerful and wealthy. After the Romans had finished conquering the assorted peoples of the Italian peninsula, they naturally set their sites on Sicily. This brought them in direct conflict with the Carthaginians since Sicily was firmly in Carthage’s sphere of influence. The First Punic War was mostly fought in and around Sicily and lasted for 23 years. Since the island of Sicily is very hilly, most of the land warfare was limited to besieging the various ports and strongholds. The decisive battles were conducted at sea where the Carthaginians were the strongest. However, the Romans showed that they were quick learners who were able to overcome their shortcomings as a seafaring nation against the Carthaginians.

The decisive battle during the First Punic War was the Battle of the Aegates Islands. The Aegates Islands (now known as the Egadi Islands) are located to the west of Trapani between Tunisia and Sicily. After the Carthaginian naval victory over the Romans at the Battle of Drepana (now Trapani), the Roman fleet was more or less destroyed. The Carthaginians ruled the seas around Sicily, but instead of pressing home their advantage, they sat back and were content to slowly build up their land forces under General Hamilcar Barca (the father of famous General Hannibal) on Sicily. The Romans knew that they would have to gain control of the seas before being able to defeat the Carthaginians, so they set about to build another naval fleet from scratch. Because of the length of the war (up to that point, 20 years), the Republic’s treasury was empty, so to show their patriotism, wealthy citizens banded together to finance the construction of the needed ships. As a result, 200 ships were built, equipped and manned without the use of public money.

The Roman consul Gaius Lutatius Catulus was entrusted with this fleet and he quickly set out to put it to its best use. His first move was to blockade the port of Lilybaeum (now Marsala) and cut Hamilcar Barca’s lines of communication and supplies with Carthage. The Carthaginians raised a fleet to relieve the city of Lilybaeum under the command of Hanno the Great and set sail for Sicily. The wind was in the Carthaginians favor when they arrived at the Aegates Islands. The direction of the wind put the Roman fleet at a disadvantage but Catulus decided that it was better to attack the Carthaginian fleet in unfavorable wind conditions rather than allow Hanno to relieve Lilybaeum and Hamilcar’s army. Perhaps due to the superior training of the Roman crews or the overloaded condition from all the supplies of the Carthaginian ships, whatever the reason, the Romans were able to destroy more than half the Carthaginian fleet and prevent the relief of Lilybaeum. After the battle, Catulus was able to conquer Lilybaeum, thereby isolating the rest of Hamilcar’s army on Sicily. Carthage did not have the resources to build another fleet or reinforce Hamilcar’s army, so they sued for peace. As a result, Carthage was forced to give up Sicily to the Romans and pay a large indemnity for 10 years to Rome, but like Treaty of Versailles which ended World War I lead directly to World War II, the peace treaty terms that Rome imposed on Carthage lead directly to the Second Punic War and that scourge of Roman armies, Hannibal.

Tuesday, March 08, 2005

Only you can save Toby

Thanks to Free Market Fairy Tales, it has come to my attention that one of our kindred spirits needs our help in the form of money (of course!). Apparently, poor Toby will be "executed" on the 30th of June unless enough money (50,000 smackeroos) is raised to prevent this tragedy. Knowing just how big-hearted all readers of The Warren are, I thought that we could all pull together and save this "cute wittle bunny wabbit". What do you think Cap'n? Bigwig? Anyone that you know?

On March 8th in military 1862

On this day in military history….in 1862. The ironclad warship, CSS Virginia sinks two Union frigates at the Battle of Hampton Roads. In the spring of 1961, Confederate forces were able to capture Norfolk, Virginia. This gave the Confederacy its only major shipyard and a large cache of heavy guns, but before the Union forces retreated, they burned what they couldn’t take with them, including nine warships. One of them, the USS Merrimack, was eventually raised by the Confederacy and renamed the CSS Virginia. The CSS Virginia was rebuilt with a reduced superstructure and slanted iron plating. She was also equipped with a ram in the bow in order to cause the most damage to wooden warships.

After the loss of Norfolk, the Union forces began a total naval blockade of Hampton Roads. On the morning of 8 March, 1962, the CSS Virginia set sail to break the blockade with a small number of gunboats as escort. She immediately headed strait for the Union frigate, USS Cumberland and rammed the ship below the waterline, which sank very quickly (duh!). Unfortunately, as the Virginia was backing away from the Cumberland, she left a part of her ram in the ship. After the Cumberland, the Virginia headed for the USS Congress. The captain of the Congress ran aground to avoid being sunk like the Cumberland and traded shots with the Virginia for about an hour until the Congress surrendered. After that, the Virginia headed towards the USS Minnesota, which had run aground on a sandbank while trying to escape from the Virginia. However, because of the deep draft of the Virginia, she was not able to get close enough to the ship to do any damage, and retired back to the safety of Confederate-controlled waters.

The Virginia expected to head out the next day and complete the destruction of the Union fleet, but during the night, the Union’s answer to the Virginia was hurried down to Hampton Roads to protect the Union fleet. The next morning, when the Virginia returned to the scene of the previous day’s battle, there was a “cheese box on a raft” standing between it and the Union fleet. The ship was the USS Monitor. It was conceived by a Swedish immigrant named John Ericsson and the ship was built entirely of metal. It consisted of heavy, round metal turret which housed two cannon on an armored deck. The deck was barely above the surface of the water with the bulk of the ship’s systems under the water line to protect them from enemy fire. The Virginia and the Monitor fought for four hours without either side sinking or seriously damaging the other. Although the battle ended in a draw, it was a tactical victory for the Union since the Virginia was prevented from destroying the rest of the Union fleet and also a strategic victory since the Union was able to continue its blockade of Hampton Roads.

After the battle, neither ship met each other in battle again. The Confederates were forced to evacuate Norfolk in May 1962 due to Union attacks. Since the Virginia would not be able to breakthrough the Union blockade and was too large to sail up the James River to Richmond, it was run aground and burned by the Confederates. The Monitor became the prototype for a whole number of river monitors. However, although it was well-suited for fighting on rivers, the low decks made it rather un-seaworthy. As a result, in December 1862, it floundered and sank off Cape Hatteras while it was being towed back to New York.

In 1973, the wreck of the Monitor was found off Cape Hatteras by a team of scientists. She was found upside down with the hull resting on the turret. The area of the wreck was declared a National Historic Landmark (later National Marine Sanctuary) and a number of artifacts have been salvaged and can be seen in Newport News, Virginia at the Mariner’s Museum.

Monday, March 07, 2005

On March 7th in military 1936 and 1945

On this day in military history….in 1936. Hitler sends troops into the Rhineland and breaks the Treaty of Versailles. At the end of World War I, Germany was forced to sign the Treaty of Versailles by the winning powers. The Treaty forced Germany to give up parts of its territory and pay war reparations. Another one of the stipulations was that the Rhineland, a name for the land of both sides of the Rhine River in Germany, was to be de-militarized. After Adolph Hitler came to power in Germany, he moved troops into the Rhineland in direct violation of the Treaty of Versailles. The occupation of the Rhineland was done with very little military support and could have been stopped by France and Britain if not for the foreign policy of “appeasement to prevent war at any cost” that was reigning in Europe at that time. Yet another example how World War II could have been avoided if someone on the continent would have found a pair.

On this day in military history…in 1945. The Remagen Bridge is captured by elements of the 9th Armored Division. In December 1944, as the Allies approached the Rhine River, Hitler ordered all the bridges across it to be destroyed to prevent an Allied crossing. In March 1945, the 9th Armored Division was moving south along the west bank of the Rhine River. They had been ordered not to cross the Rhine, but to link up with General Patton’s 3rd Army when they stumbled onto a bridge that was still standing just outside the town of Remagen, between Cologne and Koblenz. The bridge was called the Ludendorff Bridge and was left open to allow some German tanks and artillery to escape Allied capture on the west bank.

When the bridge was seen to be still standing, the commander of the unit violated his orders and immediately crossed the bridge in force to secure it from destruction. The Germans were caught with their proverbial “pants down” and although they tried to destroy the bridge with explosive charges, bombs and even V-2 rockets, they were unable to. Eventually, the severely damaged bridge collapsed into the Rhine on the 17th of March, but by that time, the Allies had put enough men and material across the Rhine that it enabled them to encircle 300,000 German troops east of the Rhine and shorten the war.

Sunday, March 06, 2005

Just another day at the office

If you ever wanted to know what Captain Holly does for a living, go here.

UPDATE: There's more on this incident here and here and here.

Speeding Italians and Stop signs

Being the resident Italian expert here at The Warren, I thought I would weigh in on my take on the whole Italian journalist-cum-hostage-cum-target controversy. I haven't said anything before now since I was busy doing other things over the weekend and wanted the intial reports to calm down before getting all excited over it.

Already some of Blogdom and weighed in with LGF and Wizbang giving there take on the story. (Hat Tip: Wizbang thinks the military is incompetent). They comment on the Al-Guardian report that the military used 300 to 400 rounds to stop the car. Mad Ogre and LGF both have actual photos of the car that they were riding in. Mad Ogre's shows only three holes in the car, so I guess in loony-lefty speak, one hole equals 100 bullets.

Italian TV showed some video that may explain a bit better what happened. The report that I saw showed what the road ("the most dangerous stretch of road in the world") looks like in the daytime and it's pretty busy. They then said that at the time of the shooting (9:00 P.M. -ish), the road was dark and deserted. They also said that the car was travelling at a very fast speed. From what I read on the internet, the US sentries flashed the headlights on a Humvee to alert the driver to slow down, waved their arms, fired warning shots and finally fired at the motor to stop the car.

Now, put yourself in the shoes of the sentries. It's dark outside and the road is deserted. Suddenly, a car starts driving towards you at a very fast speed. You try to warn it to slow down but it keeps coming. What do you think is going thru your head? If you said anything besides a car bomb, you obviously are a liberal idiot.

I believe the military version of the story due to one main reason. I know how Italians drive and for them, a Stop sign is merely a suggestion. I also hate to have to say this, but knowing the political leanings of the reporter (a communist), I can see how they thought to engineer an international incident by getting fired at. Unfortunately, they probably only wanted the car shot at, not get anyone killed, but you never can tell with communists. It has already been suggested by some that the whole hostage-taking episode was staged and with the details of her release is not very clear at this time, you draw your own conclusions.

Although the MSM are wringing their hands over this, I have only heard one Italian say anything about this. Nobody else seems to know or care about the shooting or even the fact that she was released. Maybe they know something that we don't, ya think?

On this day in military 1836 and 1990

On this day in military history….in 1836. The Mexican Army captures the Alamo after killing all the Texan (or Texican) defenders. In December 1835, during the Texas Revolution, the Mexican commander of San Antonio was forced surrender his garrison and supplies, which included the Alamo, to the forces from the Republic of Texas. Because of its strategic importance, Mexican General Santa Ana launched an offensive to retake San Antonio with 6,500 troops and he crossed the Rio Grande in January 1836. Because Texas had declared itself independent a few days earlier (and was recognized by the United States), the taking of San Antonio was only an intermediate objective. The ultimate objective was to capture the Texas government and restore Mexican rule over Texas.

The Alamo was an old Spanish mission that was not designed as a fortress, but the Texans fortified the mission with 18 cannon. The mission overlooked the road to the northeast which lead further into Texas and was ideal to control all traffic to and from San Antonio. The Mexican forces could not bypass it and would be forced take the Alamo. The defenders were members of the Texas militia that came from many places outside of Texas. Two of the more famous were the New Orleans Greys (whose company flag was captured by the Mexicans is on display in the National Historical Museum in Mexico City) and the Tennessee Mounted Volunteers lead by Davy Crockett.

The Mexican army arrived on 23 February and immediately surrounded the mission. Before doing so, the commander of the garrison, Lt. Col. William Travis, was able to dispatch riders to tell the Texas government of his situation and to ask for help. The circle around the mission wasn’t very good since midway thru the siege, 32 men were able to make it thru Mexican lines and join the defenders.

The final attack began at 5:00 AM and by 6:30 AM, the mission was in Mexican hands. Before the final battle, the Mexican army “raised the red flag” indicating that no quarter would be given. As such, any defenders that were captured were executed. Only two dozen women and children and two slaves were released from the Alamo.

Unfortunately for the Mexicans, the taking of the Alamo (and the massacre at Goliad) became a battle cry for the Texan forces. The payback for the Alamo came when Santa Anna’s forces were defeated the Texan forces of Sam Houston at the Battle of San Jacinto later in April and won Texas its independence.

On this day in military history….in 1990. The SR-71 reconnaissance aircraft officially becomes the fastest aircraft ever built. Just after the first retirement of the SR-71, as the military was deciding what to do with the various airframes, it was decided to give one aircraft to the Smithsonian Museum in Washington as a display. Since the aircraft in question was sitting in Edwards Air Force Base in California, either thru design or accident, the decision was made to fly the aircraft to Dulles airport just as fast as possible. On March 6, 1990, tail number #64-17972 (in Air Force lingo, just “972”) was flown by Pilot Lt. Col. Ed Yielding and RSO Lt. Col. Joseph T. Vida from Edwards Air Force Base (close to Los Angeles) to Washington DC. The journey took 1 hour, four minutes and 20 seconds with an average speed of 2,124 miles per hour. At the conclusion of the flight, Lt. Col. Vida became the longest serving crewman by logging 1,392.7 hours of flight time in the SR-71. The aircraft itself had accrued 2,801.1 hours of flight time and spent 24 years in the service of the US Air Force.

I worked at one time on the SR-71 and watching the ground crews “light up” those two Pratt & Whitney J-58 engines (“In thrust we trust”) was a sight to behold. Now that was a “jet”.

Saturday, March 05, 2005

On this day in military 1770 and 1946

On this day in military history….in 1770. Five colonists are killed by British troops in what has been called the Boston Massacre. In the run up to the Revolutionary War, one of the factors was taxation without representation. British troops had been sent to Boston in 1768 to enforce the unpopular (duh!) taxation measures and on the night of 5 March, 1770, a group of American colonists had gathered outside the Customs House in Boston. They were taunting the British soldiers who were guarding the building. Seeing the crowd outside, the British troop commander ordered his men inside to fix bayonets and join the other soldiers guarding the building. The colonists responded by throwing snowballs at the soldiers. One thing lead to another, and in a precursor to the Battle of Lexington, a soldier accidentally discharged his musket after being hit by a snowball. At the sound of the gunshot, the rest of the soldiers started shooting into the crowd and when the dust settled, five American colonists, one of whom was an African-American, were lying dead on the snow. These five are considered as the first casualties in the American War of Independence.

On this day in military history….in 1946. Winston Churchill gives his “Iron Curtain” speech at Westminster College, in Fulton, Missouri. This speech and Ronald Reagan’s “Tear down this wall” speech are two the greatest speeches of the Cold War. It is no wonder that Winston Churchill was awarded honorary American citizenship.

Friday, March 04, 2005

My sentiments, exactly

Kim du Toit provides his opinion on the possibility that the anti-free speech mess of a law known as McCain-Feingold will be applied to bloggers.

It mirrors my own.

Captain Holly promises now to openly and proudly flout any and all regulations prohibiting certain types of political speech.

This is yet another reason why I refuse to give a single penny to the Republican Party.

Frickin' idiots.

UPDATE: The revolution is spreading. The Warren is proud to join in, but first we have to figure out how to post that cool Jolly Roger pic.

I changed the letterhead, though.

Next time, try to be more subtle...

If you ever wondered if there actually is bias in the MainStreamMedia, the Deseret News provided yet another example today. Look at this list, and keep in mind that it appeared in the local news section, not the editorial page.

I especially like the snippy comments about the Legislature "helping" hatemongers by refusing to pass Hate Crimes laws. It would be more accurate to say that the Legislature upheld the First Amendment by refusing to institute a legal concept that in other states and countries is increasingly used against religious persons.

But that would be a biased comment, I suppose. The only difference is that The Warren is proudly and openly biased in favor of free speech.

The Deseret News is supposed to be neutral.

On this day in military 1941

On this day in military history….in 1941. The British navy launches Operation Claymore. Operation Claymore was an operation to try and capture a working Enigma coding machine. German U-Boats were running rampant in the north Atlantic and German High Command communicated with its U-Boat fleet by means of encoded messages decrypted by the Enigma decoding machine. In order to be able to read the German messages, the British were working hard to decrypt the messages, but due to the complexity of the task, were not having much luck. It was thought that capturing a working Enigma decoding machine would enable the British to learn exactly how the machine worked and then allow them to break the German codes. The operation was named Operation Claymore and took place off the coast of Norway inside the Artic Circle. An armed German trawler was found in the Lofoten Islands and attacked by British commandos. The trawler was heavily damaged and the crew either killed or taken prisoner, but the Germans were able to toss the Enigma machine overboard before the trawler was captured. However, enough documents were recovered from the trawler that British intelligence was able to piece together how the Enigma worked and use that to break the German coding system and track German naval activity for about a month.

Wednesday, March 02, 2005

On this day in military 1943

On this day in military history….in 1943. US and Australian air forces destroy a Japanese convoy at the Battle of the Bismarck Sea. In late 1942, after falling back from their losses during the Guadalcanal campaign, the Japanese High Command decided to focus their energy on reinforcing New Guinea and transfer troops from China and Manchuria to New Guinea. The troops would be used reinforce Japanese forces at Lae where an Allied counterattack was expected. The transfer would involve transporting troops from the Japanese naval base of Rabaul (sometimes called the “Pearl Harbor of the South Pacific”) in New Britain. The troops needed to be ferried around Cape Gloucester thru the Dampier Strait to Lae in New Guinea. Due to Allied air power being very strong in the area, the convoy would be afforded fighter protection.

The convoy set sail with 8 transports and an escort of 8 destroyers. It was soon spotted by Allied scout planes, but using the cover of darkness and bad weather, it was able to proceed to Cape Gloucester with the lost of only one transport. However, as the convoy got closer to Lae, the weather cleared and the attacks became more frequent due to being much closer to Allied airbases. The Allies had determined that a convoy of that size had to be stopped, so over the next few days, they threw anything and everything at the convoy to stop it. High-altitude bombing, dive bombing, torpedo attacks and strafing were all used to stop the convoy. The most famous of these were attacks B-25 medium bombers using a new bombing technique called “skip bombing”. The aircraft would fly at 50 ft above the water and release its bomb. The bomb would “skip” along the surface of the water like a stone until it hit the target in the side. The technique sank the most Japanese ships than all the other attacks combined.

The attacks could be described as “shooting fish in a barrel” as Japanese fighter cover was either non-existent or destroyed by Allied fighters and Allied bombers were essentially free to bomb and strafe the convoy “at will”. The convoy was finally stopped when it was about 200 kms from Lae. All eight of the transports and four destroyers were sunk. Only 800 troops of about 7,000 ever made it to their final destination. Because of the proximity to Lae and the coast of New Guinea, the Allies ordered that all Japanese rescue vessels be attacked and the survivors of the sunken transports be strafed while floating in the water. This was a direct violation of the Geneva Convention Rule of War, but was justified by the fact that Japan was not a signatory of the convention and that the Japanese had done the same against civilians and Allied forces.

The Battle of the Bismarck Sea was a perfect example of just how deadly air power can be when allowed to attack shipping that is not protected by air cover. The British had learned that in the Mediterranean sailing convoys from Gibraltar to Malta. Apparently the Japanese hadn’t.

Tuesday, March 01, 2005

On this day in military 1896 and 1954

On this day in military history….in 1896. Ethiopian troops defeat the Italian forces at the Battle of Adowa and bring an end to the First Italo-Abyssinian War. By the end of the 1800’s, almost all of Africa had been divided up by the European powers except for Liberia and Ethiopia. Having started late in the European Great African Land Grab, Italy was stuck with only two territories on the Horn of Africa, Eritrea and Italian Somaliland (now Somalia). Since Ethiopia was between these two territories and it was not currently claimed by any European power, Italy decided to invade Ethiopia to unite its two territories. Instead of quickly conquering the country, the campaign degenerated into a stalemate at the border town of Tigray between Eritrea and Ethiopia. With his supplies running low, the Italian government ordered the Italian commander to stop wasting time and to attack. On the night of 29 February, the Italian forces moved out, but were quickly divided into small groups by the rough terrain. The Ethiopian commander, Ras Makonnen (the father of Haile Selassie), saw this and ordered his forces to counterattack. The Italian forces (which numbered less than 15,000) were heavily outnumbered by the Ethiopian army (which numbered upwards around 120,000) and were quickly surrounded and defeated. The Italians lost 10,000 men to the Ethiopian losses of 11,000. Soon after, the Italy signed the Treaty of Addis Ababa which recognized Ethiopia as an independent state. It was one of the few instances where an African country defeated a European power. The defeat was a great embarrassment to the Italians that was later exploited by Benito Mussolini as an excuse to invade Ethiopia again in 1935 during the Second Italo-Abyssinian War.

On this day in military history….in 1954. The United States explodes the largest hydrogen weapon ever tested at Bikini Atoll. In 1954, the US conducted a series of hydrogen weapon tests code named Operation Castle. Most notable was the Bravo test which due to a miscalculation generated 2.5 times more energy that was designed (15 megatons to 6 megatons). Oops! Pesky Slide Rules! It also created the worst radiological disaster in US history as the mushroom cloud reached a height of 130,000 ft and 100 miles in diameter in less than 10 minutes. It blasted a crater 6,500 ft in diameter and 150 feet in depth. The unfavorable weather conditions spread the fallout across the atolls of Rongelap and Rongerik where inhabitants have suffered birth defects ever since. A Japanese fishing boat was also blanketed with fallout and one of the crew members eventually died.

The culprit for the extra blast energy was lithium-7. Hydrogen bombs use a small fission reaction to start a larger, more powerful, tritium-deuterium fusion reaction, which depending on the bomb, starts another fission reaction to get that cool, fallout effect. The bomb was designed to get the tritium for the fusion reaction from the bomb’s uranium tamper and the deuterium would come from the lithium-6 deuteride which was in cased in the uranium tamper. However, included in the enriched lithium-6 was an isotope of lithium, lithium-7. Lithium-7 is inert by itself, but when bombarded with neutrons it splits into tritium and helium. Since tritium is a fantastic fusion fuel, the addition of the extra tritium contributed to the fusion reaction and greatly increased the weapon’s yield. Nothing like accidentally throwing gas on a fire. Oops!