“BEIRUT, LEBANON (12:30 P.M.) - The jihadist rebels of Jund Al-Aqsa (Al-Qaeda franchise) and Harakat Ahrar Al-Sham clashed again in the Idlib Governorate, marking the end of this brief period of peace. According to local rebel activists, Jund Al-Aqsa carried out a surprise attack in the Jabal Al-Zawiyah area of rural Idlib on Friday, targeting a Harakat Ahrar Al-Sham prison that was holding 13 of their members.
Jund Al-Aqsa's surprise attack on this prison paid off, as they managed to free 13 of their members while also seizing a large cache of weapons from Harakat Ahrar Al-Sham in the village of Qaminas. These two rebel factions are no strangers to infighting, as they both have engaged in their share of attacks against one another in both Idlib and Hama.” (Reported in Al Masdar News on 20 Jan)
Release No: NR-019-17
Jan. 20, 2017
U.S. manned and unmanned aircraft conducted a precision air strike Jan. 19 against an al-Qaida training camp in Idlib Province, Syria. More than 100 al-Qaida fighters were killed in the strike.
The Shaykh Sulayman Training Camp was operational since at least 2013. The removal of this training camp disrupts training operations and discourages hardline Islamist and Syrian opposition groups from joining or cooperating with al-Qaida on the battlefield.
U.S. strikes have killed more than 150 al-Qaida terrorists since Jan. 1. These strikes include the removal of Mohammad Habib Boussadoun al-Tunisi, an external operations leader, on Jan. 17; Abd al-Jalil al-Muslimi, a facilitator associated with a network plotting terror attacks in the west, on Jan. 12; and Abu Hasan al-Taftanaz, an al-Qaida senior leader, on Jan. 6. These strikes, conducted in quick succession, degrade al-Qaida's capabilities, weaken their resolve, and cause confusion in their ranks. (official DOD press release)
Seems the growing pool of jihadis around Idlib are suffering from the dual effects of “multi-culti” overcrowding of different groups in too small an area and the loss of their sugar daddies. That’s enough to make anybody testy. Good. Let the bastards soften themselves up with all this infighting before the R+6 must inevitably deal with them.
What’s happening in Idlib now brought to mind one of the scenarios Colonel Land and I bandied about when we were developing the last war game.
“On the heels of the liberation of Aleppo, the Russian 45th Detached Reconnaissance Brigade received orders to prepare for deployment to Syria. A few days before Christmas and augmented with Hizbullah commando units its teams were inserted by ground infiltration, airdrop and helicopter insertion to conduct reconnaissance of the area north of Idlib to include the Kafriya/al-Fou'ah pocket and the Taftanaz Military Airfield.
Within days of their arrival on target, these Spetznaz and Hibzullah teams began targeting jihadi leadership in surrounding towns along with ATGM launchers and ammo stores. These attacks simulated a pattern of inter-group fighting among the jihadis through targeted killings, raids and ambushes. The locations of AA launchers and missiles were provided through GRU cooperation/penetration of Turkish suppliers. After the murder of Ambassador Karlov, Erdogan has quietly slowed the resupply of the Idlib rebels/jihadis and has deftly hampered the efforts of NATO and the Gulfies to effectively reorganize the rebels. It seems the Russians can be quite persuasive and know the value of discreet diplomacy. They are also masters of maskirovka. Russian and Syrian media outlets play up the apparent disunity and in-fighting among the Idlib rebels and attribute the increasing assassinations and attacks to that in-fighting.” (from an email between TTG and Turcopolier)
Developing this stuff was fun. It was so much fun, I went down to the cellar and dug my web gear out of my old rucksack. I fondled it and, just for a moment, wished to be a young man again. In this scenario, the boyos from the 45th were the invisible hand behind the growing jihadi distress and infighting among the Idlib jihadis. That’s probably not happening in Idlib today, but who knows. A man can dream, can’t he? I’m sure most of you heard about the nine IS jihadis who were rendered unconscious and killed by unknown assailants in the village of Hatleh outside Deir az-Zor on 19 Jan. In the nearby towns of al-Mayadeen and al-Ashareh,the locals stormed several IS centers and set them on fire. Whether this is a sign of popular uprisings against the jihadis or the result of some invisible hand gently nudging from behind, this is a damned good turn of events. DOL
" ... For too long, a small group in our nation's Capital has reaped the rewards of government while the people have borne the cost. Washington flourished -- but the people did not share in its wealth. Politicians prospered -- but the jobs left, and the factories closed.
By Patrick BAHZAD
Very shortly, Donald Trump will be sworn into office as the 45th President of the United States. By all accounts, his Inauguration will resemble no other in recent history. The country is deeply divided and the gap between the pro- and anti-Trump will be very visible, even today, when the whole country should regroup around its new elected leader. To a European audience however, Donald Trump's recent comments about NATO being "obsolete" and "not dealing with terrorism" matter much more than the internal dissent in the US itself. Those statements have created a spark of outrage across NATO members and triggered a salvo of reactions pointing to POTUS' ignorance about NATO's record in both regards. While Mr. Trump's statements are definitely debatable, there is lots to be said about his critics as well. Here are a few thoughts on the topic.
The latest controversy touches on two core issues: 1) NATO's commitment to defending its members and 2) NATO's record when it comes to dealing with terrorism in general, and global terror organisations in particular. Both issues are closely linked to highly volatile situations: the new "cold war" with Russia on the one hand, and the fight against IS (or AQ) on the other.
Remember what NATO was meant for ?
NATO itself was created in 1949 as a system of collective defence aimed basically at defending Western Europe (and North America) against the Soviets first, and more broadly against the Warsaw Pact after 1955. Large scale engagements in faraway lands were never supposed to be part of NATO's core business, which is one of the reasons some NATO members – Germany in particular – had a hard time adjusting to the concept of "out of area" missions, after the end of the Cold War. While there is no doubt as to NATO's essential contribution to peace and stability in Western Europe, NATO itself was not the only decisive factor in this achievement.
What has kept us safe from war is not so much the existence of the Alliance as the inherent risk of "mutually assured destruction" that any conflict between East and West could have morphed into. There has also been a dynamic at work in Western Europe , based on the realization that war as a means of achieving political gains was no longer an option. Without such fundamental awareness, it is difficult to imagine NATO could have united countries that had just emerged from the most devastating war the continent had witnessed since the 30 Years War. After the unravelling of the Soviet Union and the Warsaw Pact however, the main "raison d'être" of NATO disappeared and the Alliance should have undergone major restructuring, yet it maintained its "business as usual" stance.
The VMI Cadet Corps is in the middle ground of this Washington Post photograph, first the staff and then the two battalions with the color party between.
It snowed the day before. There was sleet in the night, and then the parade. The parade began in 3rd St. SE near the capitol. The route of march passed the equestrian statue of Grant, the one in which he is hunched over against the rain in the Wilderness. Then we came down Pennsylvania Avenue to this point. There were three inches of icy, salty, slush in the street. You can see a bare patch of pavement just in front of the regimental staff. The band in the foreground did not belong to us.
The street has changed. The "Occidental" restaurant still exists but it inhabits quarters on the lower floors of a large office building on the same site. Down the street there are a few familiar landmarks like the spire of the old Post Office and the capitol itself but nearly everything else is gone including the trolley car tracks.
We turned right here into 15th Street and then, a block later left again into Pennsylvania Avenue. The big reviewing stand was there in front of the White House. At "Eyes Left" all you could see was Jack Kennedy standing with his hat held over his heart. His beautiful wife was at his side.
We "fell out" at Washington Circle in the George Washington University campus half a mile away.
The buses waited there for the three hour trip back to school.
The VMI Corps will be in this inaugural parade. pl
The 3:10 to Yuma for Huma. I hear a train a comin'
They knew it was wrong, but there was an election a comin'
And the band played on.
The band. Huma and the Fifth Dimension. The immunity dimension. They knew it was wrong, but
The 227 has come and gone. The Trump train is scheduled in at 304 - though it may arrive early and under budget. Soon the train for Huma will be leaving the station to
Lock her up.
The content of the emails remain unchallenged; but who knows what they knew and when they knew it?
Hillary Clinton's former chief of staff, Cheryl Mills, received an immunity deal from the Justice Department during the year-long FBI investigation of Clinton's server. “Clinton and her staff exhibited "extreme carelessness" by sharing classified information on an unsecured server that was kept in Clinton's basement. Rep. Jason Chaffetz, chairman of the House Oversight Committee, said the immunity deals were "beyond explanation.””
"And he (Combetta) did indeed use Bleachbit on these records?" Chaffetz continued. (FOX)
Bryan Pagliano. We know more about Podesta’s emails than his testimony. Though it looks like Clinton's former IT aid was held to be in contempt of Congress for failing to comply with a subpoena for testimony and documents.
Paul Cometta, an employee an employee at the firm that managed her server after she left the State Department, appeared before the House Oversight Committee but refused to answer questions and invoked his Fifth Amendment rights. He does have that right. “According to the F.B.I. documents, Mr. Combetta told the bureau in February that he did not recall deleting the emails. But in May, he told a different story.” (NYT)
The FBI also granted immunity to 2008 Clinton campaign staffer Heather Samuelson and John Bentel, the former director of the State Department's Office of Information Resources Management.
BleachBit, the new Clorox. IT really does help clean things up. I wonder what IT will do to the"reconciling of holdings"? Soon though a new environmentally friendly man will be in the White House. Budgets will be cut and heads will roll. We'll have to go back to the old ways with lots of Sunlight.
But the song remains the same.
The content of the emails remains unchallenged. Neither named nor unnamed sources have linked the conduct of Huma nor any of the fab-five to Putin. But.....
Pardon me, but here is some bi-partisan backup:
|Talladega College Band||Talladega||Alabama|
|Russellville High School Band||Russellville||Arkansas|
|Merced County Sheriff's Posse||Hilmar||California|
|The Freedom Riders||Kersey||Colorado|
|Coastal Florida Police & Fire Pipes & Drums||Palm Coast||Florida|
|Palmetto Ridge High School Band||Naples||Florida|
|Kids Overseas||Richmond Hill||Georgia|
|Olivet Nazarene University||Bourbonnais||Illinois|
|Columbus North High School Band||Columbus||Indiana|
|Culver Academy Equestrian||Culver||Indiana|
|Indianapolis Metro Police Motorcycle Drill Team||Indianapolis||Indiana|
|1st Infantry Commanding General's Mounted Color||Ft. Riley||Kansas|
|Boone County Elite 4-H Equestrian Drill Team||Burlington||Kentucky|
|West Monroe High School Marching Band||West Monroe||Louisiana|
|Michigan Multi-Jurisdictional Mounted Police Drill Team & Color Guard||Ann Arbor||Michigan|
|Mid America Cowgirls Rodeo Drill Team||New Buffalo||Michigan|
|Tupelo High School Band||Tupelo||Mississippi|
|Marist College Band||Poughkeepsie||New York|
|Nassau County Firefighters Pipes & Drums||East Meadow||New York|
|NYPD Emerald Society Pipes & Drums||East Moriches||New York|
|North Carolina Vietnam Helicopter Pilots Association||Hillsborough||North Carolina|
|Cleveland Police Mounted Unit||Cleveland||Ohio|
|First Troop Philadelphia City Cavalry||Philadelphia||Pennsylvania|
|Franklin Regional High School Panther Marching Band||Murrysville||Pennsylvania|
|The Citadel Regimental Band & Pipes and Summerall Guards||Charleston||South Carolina|
|University of Tennessee Marching Band||Knoxville||Tennessee|
|1st Cavalry Division Horse Cavalry Detachment||Fort Hood||Texas|
|Lil Wranglers||College Station||Texas|
|Texas State University Strutters||San Marcos||Texas|
|Caisson Platoon, Fort Myer||Fort Myer||Virginia|
|Fishburne Military School Army JROTC Caissons Battalion||Fishburne||Virginia|
|VMI Corps of Cadets||Lexington||Virginia|
|Frankfort High School Band||Ridgeley||West Virginia|
|Boy Scouts of America||National|
|US Customs and Border Protection Office of Field Operations||National|
|Disabled American Veterans||National|
|Tragedy Assistance Program for Survivors||National|
|US Border Patrol Pipes & Drums||National|
This is the order of march of tomorrow's inaugural parade as it appeared in the Washington Post today. There are a lot of horses, a great many horses. The street sweepers will be busy. There is not a lot of representation of the US Armed Forces in this Order of March. Perhaps this representation does not appear in this list. We will see. pl
"Jackson's quick temper was notorious. Brands says, "His audacity on behalf of the people earned him enemies who slandered him and defamed even his wife, Rachel. He dueled in her defense and his own, suffering grievous wounds that left him with bullet fragments lodged about his body." However, Remini is of the opinion that Jackson was often in control of his rage, and used it (and his fearsome reputation) as a tool to get what he wanted in his public and private affairs.
Brands also notes that his opponents were terrified of his temper:
On the last day of the presidency, Jackson admitted that he had but two regrets, that he "had been unable to shoot Henry Clay or to hang John C. Calhoun. " Wiki on Jackson's Temperament
Some themes remain vital in human affairs for a very long time. A long standing one in the history of the English speaking peoples (Churchill's phrase) is the issue of whether or not government and its control over people's lives should be highly centralized in the service of the interest of metropolitan elites or widely dispersed among the people. This difference of opinion developed after Magna Carta and by the 17th Century had become a split in English life between the Country Party and the Court Party. That distinction was imported to North America and has remained an enduring feature of US political life to the present day.
In 1828, the main issues in the US presidential election were related to this old disagreement concerning governance. The incumbent president, John Quincy Adams, was in many ways an archetypical establishment figure. The son of the second president, he spent his entire life in the federal government, advocated positions that would be popular today in the Borg; emancipation, centralization of financial services and debt in the Second National Bank, etc. He so loved the federal government that, deprived of the White House in 1828, he ran for the House of Representatives where he then served for many years as a figure of the emerging Northern nationalist faction along with Daniel Webster and Henry Clay.
Opposing Adams was Andrew Jackson, the man he had defeated four years before when what was called a "corrupt bargain" was struck in the House of Representatives. Neither man had enough votes in the electoral college to be elected. Jackson was anything but an establishment creature. He was altogether a self made man who had clawed his way up from the bottom of the social order to become rich, powerful and a national military hero. He was rough and crude and he told the ordinary people that he would level the playing field for white men in the USA. He did not hesitate to encourage harsh and violent behavior and had himself personally supervised the removal to the trans-Mississippi of the highly Europeanized tribal Indians of the Southeastern US. Why? The Indians were in the way of the establishment of large scale agribusiness and the settlement of the region by whites and their black slaves. He was quite un-apologetic about all this. When Jackson was inaugurated he threw open the doors of the White House for a reception to which one and all were invited. The crowd famously tracked mud all over the rooms and carpets, stood on the needle point embroidered chairs and got gloriously drunk while they sang bawdy songs. He was re-elected for a second term and to this day is thought of by the Democratic Party as one of their two founding figures. The other being Thomas Jefferson, a somewhat different man, an aristocrat who chose to side with his beloved yeomen farmers.
Now we have Donald Trump, the grandson of a German immigrant from a little country town. The name was originally "Drumpf." Donald Trump's father and his son after him strove mightily and became rich in the dog eat dog world of New York City business where sharp elbows and an abrasive, abusive, bullying manner are requirements for success unless you have that magic commodity, "old money." If you have that, then you can be gracious. Donald trump's daughter, Ivanka, now has old money and is reported to me to be gracious. Donald Trump tells the mainly white spiritual descendants of Jackson's supporters that he will make them whole again both in their self image and in their pocketbooks. That is a powerful message in the face of left wing insistence that white voters are a wasting asset in America.
Opposing him we have the John Quincy Adams figures of the "modern" age; Hillary Clinton, who openly advocates minority interests in what Trump's supporters see as a zero-sum game of political and economic warfare, Bernie Sanders who seems a gentle, well mannered man but who nevertheless is openly in favor of the same kind of re-distributionist policies that most Trump supporters see as an effort to deprive them of control over their own destiny. And then in the background are the politicians, media flunkies, and political consultants for whom Trump threatens a re-definition of politics and parties. pl
Precious Snowflakes in the winter of their discontent.
There they were, poised to be part of the change we can all believe in; to carry on the work of Abraham, Maritn and John. Just like mom, and dad, and ……… Hillary. Free the slaves, desegregate the schools, end Jim Crow, ...... put a woman in the White House. What happened? What has become, they ask, of their hope, of their future?
It was a long, long time in the making, this generation of change. For a dozen or more years, most of their existence really, they have been told the twin tales. Important tales. That they need that degree -for a job, a future, for the money it will bring; and the social validation. That other tale? The victim’s story; the tale of innate disempowerment, of innate helplessness. The story of 1 in 5 women; of Fraternites as centers of racism and sexual assault. The tale well documented in last year’s Rolling Stone article, the one the President of the University of Virginia used to set policy.
What else is so prevalent in this college generation? Along with that feeling of teenage angst there is also, when young, whether in college or not, that deep, deep seated emotional need to belong, to be accepted. Such need will drive a man or woman – to fraternities, to sororities, to… social activism. We've sure seen a great deal of the latter this past year.
This election cycle the woman of the movement, the mothers of the movement, the blogs – Jezebel, Huffpost, the magazines - Glamour, Slate, and as always, the celebrities - Katy Perry, Beyonce, Madonna, and on and on; one and all – most of the main stream media too - told the young of the Republic that the inevitable was at hand. They all roared out: Demographics are destiny! For they knew black lives matter, immigrant lives matter, refugee lives matter, climate change is settled and …… then the election. And now the aftermath: no woman in the White House, no free college, no degree, no …. value. The racist, sexist, misogynist, - the Hitler(!) is coming and last of all many will remain …. Blue Collar!
Well, since celebrity is so important let’s let Hollywood explain it:
Old stories are often the best stories, aren’t they? They tell a tale worth telling - the tale of the human condition. It sure caught the feel of NYC in 1950. That vignette catches the mood of this generation too. Yep “YOU were supposed to look out for me.”…… " So much for self-reliance and individual responsibility. Can't have that now, so the colleges say. Well, anyhow, now you know how they feel. Their entire lives stretch out before them. An “undiscovered country” as the Bard put it; yet they feel helpless, as if their lives are over. Truly this is the winter of their discontent.
I wanted to forward to the readers of the site a bit of two chapters from my novel, Virtue’s Fool. The novel takes place during the Democratic Convention, notorious for its police violence.
The action takes place in the early hours of the morning. There are two characters, Harvey Stone, a man in his sixties, theSenio Deputy Managing Editor of Epoch, the Great American Magazine, and Peter fielding, a young reporter who has been with there only seven months. Peter has already gotten two national exclusives about the illegal bombing of North Vietnam, and the building of the U.S. spy plane, the SR-71, which was built “off the books,” its cost disguised as “engine overhauls” at the Wright-Patterson air base.
The Midwestern editor, Adrian Hall, has appointed Peter to head four teams of reporters and photographers to cover the street violence. When these chapters begin, Pater has been out late. He has been attacked, chased, tear-gassed and is entirely worn out. Harvey Stone is trying to mentor Peter, a shy ambitious man who remains very uncertain of his footing there.
I implored the readers to remember this is a conversation, not a term paper.
Harvey was looking commiseratingly at Cheryl, who was gathering up her tings, about to leave. He looked up and saw the figures in the doorway. They came in slowly, like old men.
“Well, well,” he said to them. “The wanderers.”
It was almost two in the morning. Their faces were white as chalk, but Harvey instantly saw that something was wrong with their eyes. He got to his feet, and waited for them. Howard came first; his body bulging with equipment, Peter just behind, and behind him came Duane, a bundle of nerves. They moved feebly, utterly worn out. Peter and Howard were bareheaded. Duane was holding a helmet.
“You look like shit,” Harvey observed.
“You know, a simple ‘good evening’ or a ‘how the hell are you, would probably suffice,” Howard said.
“Not to guys who look the way you look,” Harvey said. And he realized then that their eyes were swollen from tear gas.
“What are you doing here?” Peter asked. His face was utterly worn out. “You should be in bed,” he told Harvey.
“Waiting for you guys. Christ, I was beginning to think you’d been sent to jail.”
“We went to check out the streets of Old Town. After they cleared the Park the cops forced a lot of kids into Clark Street,” Howard said. His eyes were swollen small.
“Clark Street, I heard. So what happened?”
“Everything. We saw all kinds of stuff,” Peter said, blinking. His blue eyes were swollen.
“Like what stuff?”
“Oh, I don’t know. They had cops piling out of unmarked cars and beating people. They hit residents, forced some out of their houses...” Peter said. “...we saw some guy trying to drive his car, and the cops stopped him and, leaning in his window, he said, ‘Listen, you goddamn mother fucker, get this fucking car out of here’. And then...” Howard was saying. “He was a guy just trying to get home,”
"A few minutes after launch, the Falcon 9's first stage separated from the upper stage, then headed back down to Earth to attempt a touchdown on "Just Read the Instructions," one of SpaceX's two robotic "drone ships," which was stationed in the Pacific Ocean off the California coast.
The rocket stuck the landing eight minutes after lifting off. SpaceX has now pulled off seven such touchdowns during orbital launches, with five coming on drone ships and two rockets flying back to their launch sites on terra firma. (The previous six landings all occurred after launches from Florida's Cape Canaveral Air Force Station, between December 2015 and August 2016.)
These rocket touchdowns are part of SpaceX's effort to develop fully and rapidly reusable launch vehicles, a key priority for SpaceX's billionaire founder and CEO, Elon Musk. Such technology could cut the cost of launches dramatically, potentially enabling much greater access to space, Musk has said." Space.com
Musk is just amazing. He must have nerves of steel. The landing of the first stage booster was only a few feet from the bull's eye on the barge. pl
By Patrick BAHZAD
The snow ball effect keeps on growing. Three days after Buzzfeed published the incendiary private intelligence report that had been circulating inside the Beltway for months, there is still no end in sight to the whole media frenzy. And today's breefing of the House certainly was not intended at making the whole thing fade away. As the endgame emerges more and more clearly, with words such as "treason" and "impeachment" being mentioned with a striking regularity, it looks like caution – once again – is being thrown into the wind. History shows that the inevitable fallout from such an incredible turn of events will be far reaching. What is unclear, is who will benefit from it and who will pay the price. Vae victis !
After each piece of information – or disinformation – that comes to light, we are litteraly bombarded with new speculations that are basically useless at figuring out what is going on. As Inauguration Day approches, chances are, we have not seen the end of it and there still is room for yet another layer of hyperbole.
Hysteria taking over, once again
There are legitimate concerns about what went on, but the current media circus is not the appropriate way to address those questions. Two official reports have now been released, and a third private intelligence report that reads like an indictment also found its way into the press. Elected officials are pursuing an agenda of their own that has nothing to do with the national interest.
Look at the evidence, they are telling us. What evidence ? Asking us to disqualify Trump on the basis on some poorly drafted intelligence reports, or a pile of garbage that could have come right out of a British tabloid, that is a bit of a tough proposition when it comes to the Presidency. Is this what it is all about ? Convincing enough among the American public and in particular among members of Congress that Trump is unfit for office? Or is it just about forcing him into making the policy concessions his opponents in both parties are so eagerly awaiting ?
Up until Tuesday, both courses of action were conceivable, but the leak of the Trump "dossier" changes the equation: unsubstantiated allegations that all major news outlets had refused to publish found their way into the MSM and added what some may have expected to be the final nail in Trump's coffin. There are gaping holes in that narrative though and public opinion as a whole does not seem to buy into it. The question is, however, whether Congress will take the bait. Something very dangerous is looming in the shadows and I can assure you, it is not Vladimir Putin…
With the overnight reports of Israel missile attacks on Mezze Air Base near Damascus certain questions arise:
Nope. Nothing political. No elections. No fake news. Just hockey. The greatest sport in the entire world. Last night the Pittsburgh Penguins came to a sold out Verizon Center here in Washington DC to face their arch-rivals, the Washington Capitals. The air was electric. Alexander Ovechkin, the face of the Capitals, no, the face of the NHL, was poised to score his 1,000th NHL career point and cement his position as a hockey legend.
Only 35 seconds into the first period, “Ovi’s favorite assist man Nick Backstrom got him into the offensive zone, and then Ovi took it from there. A spectacular move to center and an even better shot.” OVI SCOARS!! The crowd goes wild. Well, even more wild than it normally does. Listen to John Walton call it.
Ovi went on to score a second goal and the Caps beat the Penguins 5-2. The Caps moved into second place in the league. What a night.
Among many other things, Ovi is famous for answering “Russian machine never breaks” when asked about a potential injury after being hit with a puck. He barely spoke English at the time. Ovi is as tough as T-34.
He comes from good stock. This is part of an interview with Mama Ovechkina in today’s “Sovetskii Sport.”
"Pavel Lysenkov: What did this 1000th point mean for you? Only four Russians have ever reached this level – aside from Ovechkin, Kovalev, Mogilny and Fedorov.
Tatyana Ovechkina: I am not thinking a whole lot about Kovalev and Fedorov scoring. I am more interested in my son. I am glad he got his 1000th point and accomplished this minimum task.
Pavel Lysenkov: And what is the maximum?
Tatyana Ovechkina: The Stanley Cup, of course. You know that. I am happy for our other guys who played so well in the NHL, Fedorov and the rest. But I am even happier for my son.
Pavel Lysenkov: Now Ovechkin is the headline news on every website, the face on every newspaper front page tomorrow.
Tatyana Ovechkina: Please don’t focus your attention on that. He scored, and forgot about it. You know, I really don’t like all this fuss, don’t give interviews often. Let Sasha play, and that’s it. Nothing else."
Na pravda, Mama Ovechkina, na pravda. “Let Sasha play, and that’s it. Nothing else.”
"Rebuilding in devastated parts of eastern Aleppo has begun now that the entirety of the city has been purged of terrorist groups.
A video released on Wednesday shows tractors and forklifts in the Saif al-Dawla district clearing the streets of sandbags and rubble amid efforts to help civilians return to normal life to eastern Aleppo, which had been under militant control since 2012, PressTV reported.
A mobile hospital in eastern Aleppo has also been established by Russian rescue workers.
“At the moment two tents are deployed: surgical and therapeutic and paediatric. At the moment about 100 people got assistance, we plan to provide help to 100 more,” said Ruslan Guzeev, head of the Russian medical department of special purpose.
Workers have begun returning to factories with Syrian Prime Minister Imad Khamis stating that the return of Aleppo's industrial capacities being a top priority." AMN News
IMO this place will be rapidly re-built. The Chinese, the Indians, the Europeans, etc. will pour money into a myriad of projects.
Out in the eastern desert the SAA and friends are pushing IS back from around Tiyas air base. NW of Damascus the water supply is going to be turned back on soon as the springs are liberated from the jihadis. The SAA are making noises about an offensive toward Quneitra. I don't understand why. The jihadis there have full Israeli support and the population is much reduced because of the nearby Israeli threat and their long ago destruction of the city of Quneitra.
TTG and I remain committed to the thought that the main threat to the long term viability of the Syrian Government is continued jihadi possession of and now consolidation in Idlib Province. We can only hope that the R+6 alliance is waiting for a visible result from the coming Astana negotiation before deciding on a decisive campaign. pl
"The U.S. director of national intelligence extended an olive branch of sorts to Donald Trump late Wednesday — denouncing media leaks, casting skepticism on reports that Russia has compromising material on the president-elect, and assuring Trump that America's spies stand ready to serve him.
In a statement, James Clapper said he had spoken Wednesday evening with Trump, days after the spy chief and some of his counterparts met with the incoming president to discuss the U.S. intelligence community's assessment that Russia tried to interfere in the 2016 election, possibly to help him win.
On Tuesday, CNN, BuzzFeed and other media outlets reported that the intelligence officials had told Trump about an unsubstantiated private report that detailed how Russia's government allegedly had salacious information about him. BuzzFeed published the apparent dossier, which Trump has denounced as false.
"I expressed my profound dismay at the leaks that have been appearing in the press, and we both agreed that they are extremely corrosive and damaging to our national security," Clapper said of the information that has come out since last week's intelligence briefing." Politico
I can hear it now. "I told Brennan we should not get involved but he wouldn't listen."
(irony alert) Jimmy Clapper is GOOD, one of the best. My hat is off to him.
It sounds like Obama held out on him in the end for something he wanted, and that was enough ...
By Patrick BAHZAD
There are nine days left until Inauguration Day and it feels like each one of these days is going to count. A shit-storm of epic proportions is blowing over the US, coast to coast, and I cannot remember having witnessed anything of this magnitude since, well, since 9/11 and the case for WMDs. You might think that is a bad analogy. Maybe. But I can smell when something is not right from a mile away and, believe me, something is not right here. I will not engage in lengthy speculations about what is going to happen now, or whether or not someone colluded with someone else. What I am going to do though is present a brief reminder of the facts (the evidence if you like) and then throw in a couple of thoughts based on my personal experience and gut feeling.
To be honest, I don't like Trump. He is a successful businessman though and I respect that. He campaigned hard, said a lot of things (some of which I found disgusting), but he also – obviously – touched on something that is dear to a significant segment of the electorate. He won the election fair and square, in line with the provisions of the US Constitution, and I would challenge anyone to prove otherwise. As far as I'm concerned, that is the end of the story. Now of course, the issues that we have been dealing with since early December are not linked to the election as such. Remember ? The current debate started when the dust had settled on all the claims about "Hillary won the popular vote", "let's do a recount" and so on. I'm not sure this is a coincidence, but that is just me ...
The DHS/FBI "Joint Analysis Report"
Fact is however that the first official IC report to look into the matter of the DNC hack was the DHS/FBIS "Joint Analysis Report" of December 29th 2016. And what a strange report that was, starting with a disclaimer which read that the report was "provided for information purposes only. The Department of Homeland Security does not provide any warranties of any kind regarding any information contained within". Admittedly, you need to take a few basic precautions with Intel reports. But claiming as a matter of baseline, that you can't be held accountable to anything you're writing does sound a little weird.
There were weirder elements still in the report itself, which is basically a summary of findings made by private cybersecurity companies which dealt with the DNC hack, in particular "Crowdstrike". But those findings only make up for 3 pages out of the 13 contained in this JAR. The rest is related to barely relevant technical details or to mitigation strategies and practices any 5 year old should be aware of. There was also a list of suspicious IP adresses that organizations should be on the lookout for, because they could be linked potentially to the entities that attacked the DNC. Funny enough, some 40 % of these addresses were TOR exit nodes (you can make up your own mind about what this could mean) and some addresses were even attributed to the wrong country: IPs in Switzerland were identified as "Swaziland", Danish IPs as Germans (probably because ".dk" can be easily misread as ".de").
Typos and misunderstandings you might say. But that kind of error, in addition to the global layout of the report, definitely points to a very rushed approach, not to an intel report that is careful worded and thought through. Talking about intel, what did the JAR have to say in that regard ? Well, not much actually, at least not much more than the reports published weeks and months before by cybersecurity experts who had analyzed the DNC hack.
The "Birther" meme attached to President Obama was a cleverly crafted and slimy attempt to derail his Presidential campaign. While it developed a life of its own after his inauguration it never was going to be a call to action by patriots. The Trump - Russia meme in my opinion is a much more serious information operation because it is designed to question the legitimacy of a President Trump defence and foreign policy actions.
To put that another way, this IO is not political point scoring, its attempting to influence U.S. foreign and defence policy in a very direct way - precluding a whole raft of policy options related to normalizing relations with Russia, winding back NATO expansion and other areas that I don't even know about. I don't know if this is against the law or not.
CNN has just led with a story that the intelligence community presented Trump with a dossier alleging five years work by the Russian Government to both compromise Trump and promote his presidential prospects and allege collusion between the Trump campaign and the Russian Government.
"....(CNN)Classified documents presented last week to President Obama and President-elect Trump included allegations that Russian operatives claim to have compromising personal and financial information about Mr. Trump, multiple US officials with direct knowledge of the briefings tell CNN.
The allegations were presented in a two-page synopsis that was appended to a report on Russian interference in the 2016 election. The allegations came, in part, from memos compiled by a former British intelligence operative, whose past work US intelligence officials consider credible. The FBI is investigating the credibility and accuracy of these allegations, which are based primarily on information from Russian sources, but has not confirmed many essential details in the memos about Mr. Trump...."
Buzzfeed obligingly then leaks all 35 pages of the alleged "Memos" on which the summary is allegedly based, that go into scatalogical detail about Trump in Russia.
Folks, to me, it doesn't seem to me that American politics can get more surreal. I don't think I've seen more flaky conglomerations passing as intelligence summaries, ever..... and CNN apparently bought it,..... and the liberal media follow suit. Trump wanted to defile the bed that President Obama slept in at a hotel in Moscow, so he arranged a sex party???
The Alt right are now digging and it seems that at least the plot for that particular memo ( the sex party one) was fed by a prankster to one DNC operative Wilson, who appears to have run with it. CNN, Fake News all of the time.
I'm half a world away in opposite time zones, please tell us what your morning brings... It seems to me that a "Trump the Traitor" meme is a very dangerous creation.
A journey in the cold snows of winter, to the land of my forebears. A light snow fell as I walk to the cathedral my ancestors prayed in before they embarked on their journey to a new life in the New World. A day much like this; at the end of one year, before the birth of the new. Long ago when the world was lit only by fire.
I wonder what they would make of the lights of ours? Electric lamps and guards before the door to the house of God. They would recognize what was within; the joy at the birth of the hope of salvation. Even now, in the winter of such contentment, the song and the joy remains the same.
Such was the day on my arrival in the City of Light that Christmas Day. A chill wind and soft snow with just enough warmth to threaten a thaw. No throngs of gawking tourists; just a long, thin, line of worshipers moving ever forward past the barriers and the watchful eyes of the CRS. Few seats were vacant. Only a few were filled with visitors from distant lands. A sermon in French and in Latin. My ancestors would recognize the temper of our times.
Guards and tourists too at one end. At the other? No throngs at the door, no CRS, no guards visible at all. A few tourists, a few parishioners. Just we few, we happy few. Lost souls hearing the echo of the Word. The soft baa, baaing of the black sheep is heard within the cathedral, though most do not know their condition, nor how close damnation - or salvation, lies. For there at the edge of the Nave stood Mephistopheles with - a bag of cookies. His hand out stretched in temptation to his pupils. His eyes gleaming as he tempts in mockery of the communion.
How close to evil we come, so close, when an anger equal to that of pagan Achilles rises in our breast. Lead us not into temptation and deliver us from evil, so goes the prayer. A softer passion moved me. I took a few short steps when at the edge of the transept I was brought to a stop by what I beheld at a nativity display. Just beyond the velvet rope, stretched out full length, giving coins and prayers to the baby Jesus, a woman of middling age. Tears ran down her faces; and down the faces of the French women who stood in amazement, in compassion. They crossed themselves and spoke soft prayers to God. Life played out before me in all its sadness and hope and glory. The third calendar day from the one we mark as the birth of our savior. A trinity indeed.
It was a short walk, though one long in contemplation, toward the Cluny and the Medieval Age. How did Goethe put it? Das Ewig Weibliche zieht uns hinan? Long I stood in contemplation in front of her. “I’m with her” has such different meaning here.
Hours later a different longing, a secular one? A primal one? Growling out, from the stomach. A simple longing, for mothers cooking? Such a shift from food for thought, and the soul. I ventured out again, on a different road, one well paved, well traveled:
A few turns, a darkened street, a single lite. So much like that first night in France, in the century passed.
Here it lies, just beyond....an adventure.
This must be the place, for romance,
for, shall I say it, dinner?
Mmm, mm. A full day, a full belly, satiated I journeyed forth again, to find just how late the hour.
Even the night owls had ventured home to bed. An example I was looking forward to follow. Just a few steps more, a minute or two only from this very cafe. It was then, so unsuspectingly, at the very threshold of the Inn that I was set upon so suddenly - by a fierce beast with black hair and white fangs. I thought can it be, the hound, the Hound of the Baskervilles!? Why here is the scoundrel:
Well, he is a hound. More Puppy of Paris than diabolical beast. Lemon (pronounced the French way) the Puppy of Paris. Well there is only one thing to do after being set upon by such as he. Uphold the tradition - of Americans abroad. I took him (with the owners permission) into the courtyard for a round of fetch. It was then the urge struck me; and yes, I did the deed, just like so long ago with Lil' Yeller. I taught a young dog a new trick. There were some hastily concealed smiles, betrayed by flashing eyes, from the ladies behind the counter when they heard young Lemon sound forth the proper greeting to the master when he returns home: "Baarrrooooo!". I wonder how that greeting sounds in French? At least in the future no one will mistake him for a puppy. I know, it was, in a word, Deplorable.
Thus concluded the most important events in the tale of a winter journey.
"The eagerly awaited report on the alleged Russian influence operation and hack linked to the recent American presidential election finally appeared on Friday. It is quite possible that President Obama, the intelligence community, and Congress now hope that the case has been definitively made to tighten the screws on Russia. If that is so, they are delusional. Moscow and Vladimir Putin may or may not be guilty as charged, but the paucity of the evidence being presented by the White House and the Director of National Intelligence suggests that the American people are being very poorly served by those who have been entrusted with protecting the nation.
The report from the Office of the Director of National Intelligence was entitled “Background to ‘Assessing Russian Activities and Intentions in Recent US Elections’: The Analytic Process and Cyber Incident Attribution.” It followed the short “Joint Analysis Report” that appeared on December 29, produced by the Department of Homeland Security and FBI. The earlier paper was entitled “Grizzly Steppe—Russian Malicious Cyber Activity” but, apart from assertions of suspected Russian activity connected to an unnamed political party, it provided absolutely no evidence that the alleged intrusions into the Democratic National Committee (DNC) servers and John Podesta emails were anything beyond probing for vulnerabilities to collect information, and carried out by unknown parties. In fact, it didn’t even provide the evidence for that and was instead largely a primer on how to avoid being hacked." Giraldi
There is a refreshing amount of skepticism concerning the unclassified Clapper Report. Good. pl
There appears to be a new shared sentiment among the "I hate Trump and the Deplorables" wing of the Democratic Party and the "I hate Russia, er, the USSR, er foreign devils" wing of the Republican Party.
This shared sentiment is continuously voiced with vehemence and certitude on the basis of an evident belief among the intelligentsia/ignorami that anyone who wishes to improve relations with Russia has demonstrated prima facie evidence of treason in the service of a foreign and malevolent power. Perhaps Vladimir Putin is actually Dr. Moriarty returned with new and improved air guns at his disposal.
IMO the present media campaign against Trump is intended to de-legitimize him as a legally elected chief executive. If that can be accomplished then a bill of impeachment against him for something like "failure to defend the country," or "failure to execute legally binding sanctions" is likely.
Would the insurgents have the needed votes in the senate to convict and expel him from office? Only the event would demonstrate that.
The Deplorables are watching and waiting. pl
" ... how tenable is this for Trump? How long can he go on questioning the information he receives from intelligence briefings, as he seems intent upon doing?" Washpost
Wait for it! The answer to the question is - indefinitely. I would think that the Trump Administration will go through the ranks of the SES/SIS position holders at CIA/DIA/NSA, etc. like a scythe. These folks, of whom I was one (SES-4) are not career protected like the lower members of the federal civil service. In return for their elevated rank (equivalent to military flag officers) they lack actual legal job security and can be much more easily removed. They are usually highly politicized schemers and enablers for their presidential appointee bosses at the very top of the food chain. But who will run things!? Well, pilgrims there are lots of eager beaver GS-15s awaiting their turn and eager to prove their loyally to the administration.
Hey, why not ? Payback is a bitch and people like Clapper and Brennan could not have staged this intelligence "coup" without the cooperation of the SES corps.
And then there is the little matter of the chain of command in the federal government. NEWS FLASH!! The IC agencies work for the president. He does not work for them. If he does not accept their analysis - so be it! They are not semi-divine creatures endowed with some special gift of understanding the world, Well, some are, but not many.
Any intelligence is destined to support decision making for policy. It should NEVER be prescriptive. The news idiots keep asking old intelligence hands what policy should be... What a sad joke.
For Trump, the IC is just another consultant group. pl
Having had fifteen and a half million visits since 2005 in the last eleven years, I have decided once again to seek underwriters (sponsors) for my blogging efforts. This is a small operation. It takes a lot of time. There are opportunity costs for me.
Foundations (preferred) or corporations that make grants to my blogs should understand that the money will go in my pocket in payment for what I do. I will pay whatever costs the blogs have.
What the underwriters will get is an acknowledgement on the blogs (if they want that). They will also assure that I continue doing this for a while. What they will not get is editorial control, content control or title.
I hope that pranksters do not bother me with foolishness that wastes my time. Enquiries should include full contact data; website, phone numbers, a responsible person to contact, etc.
I am grateful to all those individuals who have made donations in the past. pl
"The jihadist rebels of Jabhat Fateh Al-Sham (formerly Al-Nusra Front) have obstructed the water supply to the estimated 5 million civilians in Greater Damascus for the 13th consecutive day, creating a humanitarian crisis inside Syria's historic capital.
According to an Al-Masdar field correspondent in Damascus, water has become so scarce in Damascus that the price of bottled water has risen exponentially, forcing many to find alternatives in order to deal with this two week long crisis.
Several civilians have also been reportedly hospitalized as a result of poisoning due to drinking water provided by supply trucks, a local source informed Al-Masdar this afternoon.
The water provided by these supply trucks is intended for basic hygienic purposes like showering; it is not meant to drink.
However, due to crisis, many civilians in Damascus have begun boiling the water supplied by these trucks in order to have readily available drinking water." AMN
McCain and Graham love these guys. pl
Hannity on his interview of Assange.
A technical refutation of the "Russia done it" meme.
Real life in Aleppo
By Patrick BAHZAD
We are now over two months into the battle for Mosul, and the initial optimism has definitely faded away. The palpable sense of doggedness about the urban combat taking place in the Eastern parts of the city, reflecting an atmosphere of almost trench-like warfare, contrasts sharply with the easy territorial gains achieved by Iraqi security forces in the first days of the offensive. Early announcements about the imminent liberation of the city and the final fall of the "Islamic State" now sound hollow and premature. The truth about Mosul – that much should have been clear from the outset – is that this will be a costly battle. Costly in time, costly in energy, equipment and planning, and most of all, costly in lives. Overall, a rather sobering and grim outlook. Happy new year…
It is winter in Northern Iraq: the weather is bad, the terrain is muddy, and around Mosul, the morale of the Iraqi forces is low. Weeks of house-to-house fighting have taken their toll, not just in terms of casualties. There had not been any doubts in the initial phase of the offensive, but uncertainties gradually crept into the Iraqi battle plan, so much so that a complete overhaul of the tactical and operational approach to taking back the city was recently announced.
Loopholes in the operational planning
The basic issue is that the Iraqis went in with one plan in mind, and no backup solution in case things did not go as expected. To be fair, looking at it from the safe distance of a D.C. based think tank, this was a "slam dunk" situation. The numerical advantage of the Iraqi "armada" assembled at the gates of Mosul was quite overwhelming and the first days and weeks, although bloodier than many observers imagine, looked encouraging.
In short, the idea was to isolate Mosul from the main LOCs to and from the city, cut of the centre from its immediate hinterland, disrupt IS' territorial continuity along the Tigris valley and thereby shape a battlefield that would be conducive to offensive operations towards the city, while at the same time containing IS attempts at disrupting the logistical trail up to Nineveh plains. The "shaping" phase, although first delayed and then extended a number times, worked reasonably well. Taking back Qayyarah airbase, with its nearby bridge over the Tigris, dealt a severe blow to the Jihadis and laid the groundwork for planning an assault onto the city.
"The New York Times was more aggressive, writing flatly, "Obama Strikes Back at Russia for Election Hacking." It backed up its story with a link to a joint FBI/Homeland Security report that details how Russian civilian and military intelligence services (termed "RIS" in the report) twice breached the defenses of "a U.S. political party," presumably the Democrats.
This report is long on jargon but short on specifics. More than half of it is just a list of suggestions for preventive measures.
At one point we learn that the code name the U.S. intelligence community has given to Russian cyber shenanigans is GRIZZLY STEPPE, a sexy enough detail.
But we don't learn much at all about what led our government to determine a) that these hacks were directed by the Russian government, or b) they were undertaken with the aim of influencing the election, and in particular to help elect Donald Trump.
The problem with this story is that, like the Iraq-WMD mess, it takes place in the middle of a highly politicized environment during which the motives of all the relevant actors are suspect. Nothing quite adds up.
If the American security agencies had smoking-gun evidence that the Russians had an organized campaign to derail the U.S. presidential election and deliver the White House to Trump, then expelling a few dozen diplomats after the election seems like an oddly weak and ill-timed response. Voices in both parties are saying this now." Matt Taibbi
We've been here before, pilgrims. We've been here before. I wrote the Iraq War hysteria generation up extensively in my 2003 article "Drinking the Koolaid," (link below)
The Bush '43 administration deliberately lied in the media to get the US public to accept war and occupation in Iraq. Paul Wolfowitz admitted that while testifying before the US Senate. There had been Iraqi nuclear weapons and chemical weapons programs before the First Gulf War but they were destroyed by UN search parties of inspectors after the war. In this work they were assisted by US intelligence who sent the inspectors to the right places to find the elements of the programs. The inspectors got just about everything, all the enrichment devices for fissionable material, all elements of the chemical program. In the case of the latter the UN took masses of material, piping, etc., and gave the Iraqi government no receipts. As a result after the Bush '43 Administration decided to go to war with Iraq it was possible to claim that the declared inventory of the chemical program was larger than the materiel on hand and that this was "proof" that some of the materiel was hidden somewhere, somewhere... BTW the Iraqi biological weapons program was ever anything but a research program.
Now, we have yet another attempt to generate mass hysteria through the manipulation of public consciousness. In this case the "enemy" is Russia against which an aura of hostility is being created that is part ignorance, part hyper-nationalist aggressiveness, and part residual fear of the USSR (which has not existed for decades). This in spite of the simple truth that if such hostility proceeded to its logical conclusion in a nuclear exchange there would be many millions of dead and wounded on both sides.
As the "icing on the cake" the media now proclaim that the Intelligence Community is a vessel of integrity and patriotic self-sacrifice that, since it hints to us that "the Russians done it," must be believed without question. Well, pilgrims, those who really know the Intelligence Community know that these agencies are run be self-serving political hacks who may once have been people of integrity but who, by the time, they reach the top will say or proclaim anything that advances their personal interest.
Are we mad enough to believe such people? Perhaps Trump is not. pl
For the past eight years, Israel's Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has been able to retain power with a shrinking and ever-more extremist coalition of settlers, religious parties and his own Likud by fending off critics. Hardline critics in his own fragile coalition have pressed for even more extreme territorial grabs in the West Bank and Jerusalem and have in some cases demanded mass expulsions of Palestinians from inside the Green Line. And Netanyahu has been able to explain to them that, while his heart is with them, he cannot go to such extremes because of pressure from the Obama Administration in Washington. Never mind that the Obama Administration never really put any serious pressure on Israel, and poured more money than any previous administration into Israeli security. Bibi cultivated his personal animus towards Obama and Obama's personal animus towards him into a balancing act that kept him in power, even as a growing number of Israelis, including within the powerful security establishment, became more and more disillusioned with him.
Well now, at least as of January 20, 2017, even that feeble excuse is gone. With the appointment of David Friedman as the new U.S. Ambassador to Israel, Netanyahu has an ally, not a critic, coming to town. Donald Trump has contributed to Israeli settlement schools through his charities, and he vows that he will actually implement what every Presidential candidate promises and then drops once in office: to move the U.S. embassy to Jerusalem.
This apparent "blessing" could come at a very high price for Netanyahu. No longer able to blame the United States for his "moderation" of his coalition radicals, Netanyahu now must defend his position upfront. And the Attorney General of Israel is expected to soon decide whether to follow National Police investigators recommendations and indict Netanyahu on corruption and graft charges. The last time he was ousted from power, it was on similar corruption charges.
With or without Netanyahu, Israeli is facing an existential decision: to accept a two-state solution and retain a Jewish majority state of Israel, or to go for annexation and repression of a growing Palestinian Arab majority (former President Jimmy Carter called it "apartheid"). Faced with the same dilemma, Netanyahu's rival Ariel Sharon had decided on the core tenet of Zionism: a Jewish majority. He unilaterally withdrew from the Gaza Strip, and even sent in Israeli Defense Force units to clear out the Gaza settlers who refused to accept relocation. In a speech in Washington a few years back, a retired IDF General told the audience that Israel has similar plans for removing West Bank settlers from areas to be turned over to the Palestinians. If Israel were to repeat the Sharon example and unilaterally pull out of significant portions of the West Bank--without negotiations or UN intervention--who would object?
The UN Security Council resolution passed this month should serve as a warning: it is becoming less and less feasible to maintain the status quo of creeping settlement expansion and territorial grabs for much longer. Netanyahu should not count on a President Donald Trump covering his back at the UN. It's just not on Trump's list of priorities. If he could throw Rudy Giuliani and Chris Christie under the bus, he could do the same with Bibi.
Game situation on 18 January, 2017.
1. Following Task Force Suheil's crushing victory over advancing jihadi reinforcements on the M5 axis east of the Takhtanaz airhead, the task force was loaded on the HETs and other trucks that had followed it and transported back through Aleppo past the Kurdish YPG held Sheikh Maqsood neighborhood at the north end of the city and up through the Syrian Government and Kurdish controlled territory to the north on their way to the Minagh military airfield which was in the control of the Efrin Kurds. This cooperation was made possible by the Assad Government's indication to the Syrian Kurds that some degree of autonomy for them would be granted in a post-war Syria. This route allowed the Suheil Task force to reach Minagh without further fighting and casualties. At Minagh the Suheil Force went into national and area reserve to refit and rest. From this position they could move in several directions to influence future outcomes. Soldiers' families have been flown to Minagh for family time.
2. Some 5th Assault Corps units and the Syrian Marines invested Iblid City to control jihadis trapped within while negotiations are conducted for their surrender.
3. 5th Corps minus those units by-passed Idlib City to the east and relieved Takfaya and al-Fu'a village while being supported from the Taftanaj airhead with artillery and air support to include SU-25 Frogfoot.
4. As soon as the 5th Corps relieved the Shia pocket, the Russians launched an assault in echelon of two battalion tactical groups (BTG) from Taftanaz towards Al Dana some 30 km to the north. The high ground along the Bab al-Hawa Highway just south of Al Dana was taken by a battalion from the uncommitted airborne regiment of the 106th inserted by helicopter. All this was preceded by intense reconnaissance-sabotage activities of Spetsnaz teams of the 45th Brigade. The aim of the operation was to screen the flank of the 5th Assault Corps’ final push to the Bab al-Hawa crossing and to prevent any jihadi reinforcement of the crossing from northern Idlib and Aleppo provinces. The lead BTG reached Al Dana in less than 24 hours. The Russian airborne troops let unarmed refugees and jihadist supporters stream towards the border, even assisting them at times. Armed jihadists attempting to move north with the refugees were dealt with quickly and lethally. As soon as this operation was completed, Russia Today began broadcasting high quality footage of dramatic military action of the BMD-4M airborne assault vehicles, 2S9 Nona-S self-propelled mortar systems and Night Hunter attack helicopters interspersed with images of Russian paratroopers aiding civilian refugees. Correspondents reminded their viewers of the words of the incoming American Secretary of Defense, “No better friend, no worse enemy.”
5. Syrian 5th Corps proceeded to the north pushing irreconcilable jihadis and their supporters before them like herding cats. From Idlib the Bab a-l-Hawa crossing into Hattay, Province, Turkey is about 20 miles as the crow flies (ATCF) or 30 mile by the route to Al-Dana. In response to this oncoming flight of AQ connected jihadis the Turks tried to close their border except for emergency medical attention in Antakya (ancient Antioch) Syria has announced that it will allow the creation of refugee camps under UN supervision and sealed off by the SAA.
6. In the period of this turn Iran with the consent of the Iraqi government relieved Deir-al Zor from the east with a large Iranian task force. The US objected but was ignored. The Iranians then moved NW toward Raqqa and west to link up with the R+6 west of Palmyra.
7. By 18 January the situation in western Syria has been consolidated by the SAR with minor pockets of resistance being mopped up.
When you come in from the field in a US Army field exercise, the first thing you do is take your vehicles to the motor pool to wash all the mud or dust from them. The officers go to the motor pool with the men and usually stand around watching the work and discussing the just finished field problem. It is thought that it is best to get fresh impressions while memories are still "wet." Formal reports and analyses are written later.
1. The long cherished mantra and childish belief of the Poly/Sci/IR/State Department/NSC (Borgist) establishment that war does not provide an answer is incorrect. All of American history: War of Independence, Civil War, Spanish American War, US War Against the Filipino People, WW1, WW2, Vietnam, etc. all demonstrate that war is often decisive in history. For someone to believe that it is not is simply either a refection of what might be called over-education or a lack of knowledge of actual history.
2. The 29 December cease fire in Syria does not affect our game play since it does not apply to IS generally and AQ connected jihadis in western Syria.
"Is it not high time for Israel’s public to wake up to Netanyahu’s deceptions? The countries that voted for this Security Council resolution are not anti-Semitic outliers. They included every major democratic country that belongs to the Security Council. Not one of them voted for the Zionism is Racism resolution, to which Netanyahu so demagogically compared this resolution. Are UK Prime Minister Theresa May or German Chancellor Angela Merkel, whose foreign minister warmly welcomed the Security Council’s action, anti-Semites? It was only yesterday that Netanyahu boasted of his friendship with Russia’s Putin and China’s Xi Jinping, who voted for the resolution. Are they now Israel’s enemies?
If there has been a betrayal in this latest chapter of America’s relations with Israel, it is Netanyahu who has betrayed President Obama." Henry Siegman
I used to work with Siegman in his peace mongering expeditions across the ME and NA. I have a lot of respect for him. He is an ordained rabbi, whatever ordained means in this context. He was a US Army chaplain in the Korean War. He volunteered for deployment to Korea with the Eighth Army. He has relentlessly pursued justice for the Palestinians because as an ardent Zionist he thinks that if there is not justice Israel is doomed in the long run. I haven't talked to him for a long time but this is vintage Siegman.
IMO there will be neither peace nor justice in the Holy Land. IMO there is not enough good will between the sides to make a peace in which neither side can claim to have vanquished the other. I have been saying that that for twenty years or so. There was a Camelot moment when Ehud Barak was PM and Teddy Kolleck was mayor of Jerusalem when it seemed to be just barely possible that there might be a peace without victors, but the revisionist Zionists like Bibi and Naftali Bennett rallied and that moment passed.
I was recently tasked by someone I trusted with the crime of "approaching anti-Semitism" in my 2 November, 2016 post. "Marc Rich, Clinton and Israel."
"A plague o'both their houses." pl
Administration. Remains the Same.
Scenario Turn 3
January 2 to 10 January 12
The Syrian government has now made it clear through broadcasts on SANA that it intends to clear Idlib Province and other west Syria pockets of jihadi control before the US presidential inauguration and then turn its attention to elimination of IS in eastern Syria hopefully with some degree of coordination with the US led coalition.
Large scale leaflet drops began on 1 January on known areas of jihadi control in Idlib Province exhorting jihadis and in fact all those now under arms in the rebellion to surrender under a government offer of amnesty with UN supervision and to return to their homes if not known to be foreign fighters or jihadi group cadres. The same offer is being made on radio and television 24/7.
Government forces continue offensive action along a number of axes in Idlib Province:
1. Against Jisr al-Shugur. The Syrian Marines continue to be the lead element on this axis. Progress is slow but pressure is continuous. Earlier reports of the presence of Russian armor following the marines have proven to be inaccurate. The vehicles involved are a 12 gun battalion of Russian self propelled 152 mm. howitzers who are engaged in firing into the Jisr al-Shugur defenses in support of the marines and NDF militia in this column.
2. Around the western and northwestern perimeters of government held Aleppo forward pressure continues at what might be called a measured pace.
3. LTG Suheil's Tiger Forces/Desert Hawks division attacked SW along Axis M5 on 2 January followed by the Republican Guard brigade that had taken Khan Touman on 1 January. A column of Heavy Equipment Transporters (HET) accompanied the force.
4. Russian 106th Guards Airborne Division was moved to the Lattakia and Tartous base areas from Tula in Russia in a well coordinated and covert sea and air transfer and was inserted on 3 January into an airhead on and around the former Syrian AF Taftanaz air base five miles east of Al-Fuah' village. Elements of the 45th Guards Airborne Brigade, which were reconnoitering the area since Christmas, seized strongpoints and marked the DZ. A Russian airborne battalion then parachuted onto the airfield to secure it. This was followed by helicopter insertions of the rest of that infantry regiment's men as well as sling loads of much of the division's artillery and mortars. Air landing operations began on the 3,000 foot runway within a few hours bringing in many of the division's armored vehicles. The division's artillery ranged to the Route 60 and M5 approaches from the north as well as in defense of the two Shia villages five miles west of the airhead. Revetments for artillery and aircraft are under construction. 106th airborne division minus the regiment at Taftanaz remains in reserve around Tartous.
5. Spetsnaz teams are adjusting fires for airborne artillery as well as the Russian 152. mm. SP artillery supporting the Syrian Marines and NDF west of Jisr al-Shugur.
6. On 3 January 5th Assault Corps makes steady progress across Idlib Province toward Idlib City against resistance that seems much weakened by the need to send reinforcements to the jihadis defending against threats to Jisr al-Shugur, Taftanaz and the oncoming menace of Suheil Hassan's task force.
7. Russian and Syrian tactical air continues to strike throughout Idlib Province on 2 and 3 January with a focus on road interdiction. Russian strategic air (Blinders) flying from Russian and Iranian bases struck repeatedly on 3 January along the M5 highway targeting jihadi reinforcements going north to engage the Tiger Force coming south to meet them. There were several Russian AF TU-95 Bear heavy bomber attacks on the St. Simeon Mountains west of the M5 crossing of those heights.
On 4 and 5 January there are repeated assaults against both the Taftanaz airhead and the villages of Takfaya and Al-Fu'a. these are repulsed with heavy losses to the lightly armed and somewhat disorganized jihadis. These assaults appear to have been executed to cover the movement north of a large group of insurgents past the flank threats of the Taftanaz airhead and the Shia villages.
On 6 January Suheil Hassan's task force fought a large and sustained meeting engagement astride the M5 highway NE of the Taftanaz airhead and within supporting range of the airhead's artillery and armed helicopters. After several hours of grinding the insurgent lines fell apart and they began to flee south on the M5 engaged along the way by ambushes set up by Spetsnaz, Russian airborne infantry and Hizbullah commandos brought into the area by helicopters. Jihadi casualties were very heavy and many attempted to surrender.
From 7 January onward 5th Assault Corps moved steadily northward toward Idlib City against diminishing resistance that demonstrated a weakness at least partly brought on by the heavy losses experienced in the Aleppo battle and the defeat suffered on 6 January NE of Taftanaz.
As 5th Assault Corps approaches the Jisr-al-Shugur to Idlib City road from the south on 10 January, jihadi forces withdrew from Jisr al-Shugur to avoid being by-passed and cut off.
On 11 January jihadi forces evacuated Idlib City and withdrew to the north through ambushes and interdicting airstrikes.
On 12 January 5th Assault Corps entered Idlib City.
Requirement: Give your opinion as to what further actions R+6 will take before the game ends on 18 January in game time and what the political situation will be on 18 January. pl & TTG
"When we've been there ten thousand years,
Bright shining as the sun,
We've no less days to sing God's praise,
Than when we first begun."
“Twas in the moon of wintertime, when all the birds had fled,
That God the Lord of all the earth sent angel choirs instead
Before their light the stars grew dim
and wandering hunters heard the hymn
Within a lodge of broken bark, the tender babe was found.
A ragged robe of rabbit skin enwrapped his beauty round;
But as the hunter braves drew nigh,
the angel song rang loud and high
The earliest moon of wintertime is not so round and fair,
As was the ring of glory on the helpless infant there.
The chiefs from far before him knelt
with gifts of fox and beaver pelt
Jean de Brebeuf, S.J. Martyr and Author of
Christmas in Vietnam.
"The war went on in the central highlands. At Christmas time I decided to hold a detachment Christmas party. I mentioned this to the battalion commander of 3/525, MI Group, LTC Paul Langford during a visit by Langford to Song Be. As we discussed this, a five gallon water jug of home made “hootch” bubbled happily in a corner of my office under the beneficent warmth of an electric light. Pineapple juice, brewer’s yeast and a daily “feeding” of sugar were creating something within that obviously was alive. The application of sugar invariably produced a tempest in the bottle. The men began to think of it as a pet.
Langford ignored the bottle. “Are you going to leave someone to man each station?” he asked. “That’s all right then,” he said when assured. “Let’s not tell Group. They already think you and I are nuts.” I bought cases of Mumm’s Cordon Rouge and other goodies in Saigon, and on the appointed day mysterious personages began to arrive from all over the Border on Air America’s scheduled service. All in all, there were about twenty party goers. The province senior advisor, LTC Ray Suarez and the local CIA boss attended. There was much singing of Christmas carols, as well as a ham, a turkey and such cooked by the kitchen in the Special Forces "B" camp in town. The bald headed, middle aged light weapons man in the team was also mess sergeant. He had been a feldwebel in the Grossdeutschland and later an adjutant-chef in the 2nd REI. Like most of the men in that B Team he felt sorry for me in my exile from SF. He and several others from the B Team were at the party.
The guests sang the "Huron Carol" (in English) to humor me.
“For every boot that tramped in battle,
every cloak rolled in blood,
will be burned as fuel for flames.
For a child is born to us, a son is given...”
Isaiah, 9:1-3, 5-6
At midnight, celebration was interrupted by the sound of machine gun fire in the distance. The revelers trooped outside to see if they were going to have to fight on Christmas Eve. There were hard words concerning the ancestry of the enemy. Across the wire, across the outpost line, across the valley of no-man’s land were the crests occupied habitually by the “opposition.” From these heights there rose a stream of green, Soviet made “tracer.” The celebrants contemplated this for a minute, and then Suarez suggested a reply. An M-60 machine gun emerged from the house, and while one man fired red tracer into the air, another held the bipod above his head and another fed the gun its belted ammunition. The streams of bullets crossed in the black, star-studded sky. The VC gun fell silent, as did the American. There was a hush as warriors waited for some sign that the hope of common humanity yet lived. The VC fire resumed. Now there were three guns shooting green stars into the blackness. The MI men’s gun chattered merrily, spilling a river of shell casings into the street. Red and green filled the night. "
Every Christmas I post this excerpt from an autobiographical sketch I wrote once. This incident is reminiscent of the legendary football game in no man's land in 1914. The men at the party were of the Third Combat Battalion, 525th Military Intelligence Group, MACV CORDS Advisory Team 94, the CIA and the 5th Special Forces Group. The place was Song Be, Phuoc Long Province. It was 1968.
There is a statue in Charlottesville, Virginia. On the pediment is inscribed, "Love makes memory eternal."
The party-goers are long gone. Some never saw another Christmas. Some died a couple of months later when the men across the way nearly took the town.
They tried for what seemed an eternity but was actually less than a week. We killed six hundred of them in repelling their valiant effort. Some died around my house and in the street in front of my gate. We buried four hundred bodies found in front of and in our (US and Vietnamese) positions. The Second Brigade of the First Cavalry Division was ordered into the fight halfway through the battle. Without them the VC would have killed or captured us all. PW survivors told us how many the enemy lost. They were of the 211th, 212th and 165th VC battalions under VC Military Region 10. By that time these units were mostly North Vietnamese in their manning. They were "foemen worthy of our steel."
God rest all these worthy gentlemen. pl
"La chorale des orphelines de la Fondation de l’Imam Moussa al-Sadr venue chanter Noel à l’église Saint-Elie de Beyrouth en est la parfaite illustration. Ce spectacle, a priori anodin, peut représenter un exemple à suivre pour les autres pays, notamment en Europe, où malgré les vaines tentatives de formatage artificiel des esprits, les uns et les autres vivent dans une méfiance réciproque sans cesse grandissante." claudeelkhal blogspot
On this day in 1776, General Washington led his cold, ill fed and ill equipped army across the Delaware River to attack and decisively defeat the Hessian garrison at Trenton, New Jersey. It was a morning of bloody footprints in the snow and supreme audacity.
My son captioned the image above after we joked about the idea. Some may find this inappropriate black humor, but we like it. There are a number of inaccuracies. The Hessians were not sleeping off a night of holiday merriment. They were stone cold sober. Washington crossed the Delaware in the dead of the night, not in the light of dawn. That particular flag was not created until six months after the battle. Nevertheless, I like it. It stands for the Army that I remember and love. The Army of the FIDO attitude. (Look it up if you don't understand.) This is the Army that Churchill aptly described when he said, "We sleep safely at night because rough men stand ready to visit violence on those who would harm us."
Some pictures from a Karachi newspaper on a rally and procession on Karachi's main street — as part of the Xmas celebrations by the Christian community (in which many local Muslims join). There are more pictures in the paper (at this link).
Administration. All remains the same.
Scenario Turn 2.
Christmas Day to 1 January.
R+6 elements have continued to eliminate pockets of jihadi/unicorn resistance in the Damascus region with many former opposition fighters accepting government pardons and amnesty. Those not willing to do so have been bussed north into Idlib Province. Most of the 5th Assault Corps of the SAA moved north into Hama Directorate after 25 December and attacked to eliminate the Rastan Pocket just north of Homs. By 1 January the pocket was largely gone and the 5th Corps had deployed most of its forces northward to the southern border of Idlib Province where they were positioned by New Year's Eve.
Evacuations from east Aleppo had largely ended by New Year's Eve with UN observer parties wandering about searching for mass graves in east Aleppo and getting drunk at New Year's Eve parties in the nightclubs of the western part of the city.
YPG/SDF forces captured the Tabqa dam on the Euphrates River on the day after Christmas.
Deir al-Zor remained firmly in government hands having been reinforced with air delivered supplies and equipment.
The newly promoted Tiger Force Commander, Fareeq (LTG) Suheil al-Hassan was seen in the streets of Aleppo in the days immediately following Christmas leading many to conclude that the reports of his troops (Tiger Forces and Desert Hawks) having remained in the Damascus area were a ruse de guerre.
The day after Christmas jihadi forces attempted to take the two Shia villages of Kafraya and al-Fu'a just north of Idlib City by storm. They were repulsed after hours of fighting with losses on both sides. Russian airborne engineers were airlifted into the villages the next day as well as Hizbullah and IRGC troops to bolster the defenses of the two villages. The engineers have used farm vehicles and explosives to demolish a number of roadside buildings along the 4700 ft. stretch of straight road between the villages. This road is in use as of New Year's Eve as an improvised airstrip for STOL aircraft and helicopters.
SOHR in London has been reporting in late December that Russian Spetznaz and Hizbullah raiding and reconnaissance parties have been engaged in acts of assassination of local jihadi leaders all over Idlib Province and in several cases have left messages pinned to the bodies designed to implicate rival jihadi groups in the area. Among the places raided was the area between the old Taftanaz air base east of the two Shia villages and the national M5 highway a few miles east of the air base.
Near the Bab al-Hawa border crossing three Turkish border guards were abducted the day after Christmas. They were found hanging from telephone poles on the Syrian side of the line. On the chest of the senior man was pinned a note in Turkish, Arabic and Russian that read "Measure for Measure."
It was reported on SANA on New Year's Eve that it is the opinion of the R+6 allies that the jihadis/the unicorns and their foreign supporters are merely stalling for time with talk of nation wide cease fires and negotiations and that the stalling is just an attempt to gain time to consolidate jihadi power in Idlib Province. SANA stated that the Syrian Government and its friends would act in accordance with this belief.
New Year's Day.
Coordinated concentric attacks began at Beginning Morning Nautical Twilight (BMNT) all around the perimeter of Idlib Province:
1. East from Lattakia in the direction of Jisr al-Shugur. The Syrian Marines seem to be the lead element, but there are reports of Russian armor with them.
2. North by 5th Assault Corps in the general direction of Idlib City. Initial priority of supporting fires seems to be tasked to them.
3. All around the western and NW perimeters of the government positions at Aleppo City, attacks began en echelon from south to north in a series of rolling offensives apparently designed to draw jihadi attention and reserves toward the north. R+6 forces have had some success in all these attacks. Khan Touman on the M5 highway fell to the Republican Guard at 1000 AM. Souhail's mobile reserve remained unlocated and uncommitted by the end of the day.
Russian air activity remained heavy throughout the day.
Requirement. State your opinion as to the likely development of game action in the period beginning 2 January to 10 January. pl &TTG
On December 19, the Florida Bulldog, an online news publication, released an October 2012 FBI document, revealing that the Bureau's investigation into Saudi support for the September 11, 2001 terrorists continued for at least a decade after the Joint Congressional Inquiry completed their report and eight years after the 9/11 Commission report partially exonerated the Saudi regime. Attorneys for the Florida publication filed a Freedom of Information Act lawsuit in Federal Court earlier this year, to obtain records relating to the Bureau's internal 9/11 Review Commission.
That internal review commission, chaired by former Reagan Administration Attorney General Edwin Meese, denied that there were new leads on the 9/11 attack, the worst terrorist assault on U.S. territory in history, and sought to discredit an FBI memo citing a second Sarasota, Florida Saudi businessman with close dealings with the Royal Family, who hosted lead hijacker Mohammed Atta and other 9/11 terrorists, and who fled the United States weeks before the attacks.
As part of the Court-ordered document release, the FBI turned over a heavily redacted copy of an FBI "Updates and Initiatives" report dated October 5, 2012 (which was not scheduled to be declassified until December 31, 2037). That document showed that the FBI was still actively investigating leads on 9/11 co-conspirators, and that at least two individuals had been identified as collaborators of two of the hijackers who lived in San Diego for more than a year, prior to the attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon. At least one of those newly identified individuals was working on behalf of Saudi intelligence agents Osama Basnan and Omar al-Bayoumi, and was assigned to assist hijackers Khalid al-Mihdhar and Nawaf al-Hazmi in their "day-to-day" activities. Basnan and al-Bayoumi were subjects of the recently declassified 28-page chapter from the original December 2002 Joint Inquiry Report, which was suppressed by Presidents George W. Bush and Barack Obama until July of this year. The two Saudi spies were paid at least $50,000 by then-Saudi Ambassador to the United States Prince Bandar bin-Sultan, and one of the pair received regular monthly "salary and expense" payments from a Saudi Ministry of Defense and Aviation contractor.
Although the names of many of the newly identified contacts with the San Diego terrorists were blacked out of the document, two names were released, because both have criminal ties. Osama "Sam" Mustafa owned a gas station near San Diego, where hijacker al-Hazmi worked in 2000. Mustafa was already a subject of FBI terrorism investigations prior to that time frame, and in 2012, Mustafa was arrested in Tampa, Florida on charges he was part of a $17 million tax fraud scheme. Convicted a year later, Mustafa skipped out on a bond and remains a fugitive to this day. He was sentenced ultimately to 20 years in prison.
The other individual, Mohdar Abdullah, was identified in the FBI document as one of two people assigned by al-Bayoumi on February 4, 2000 to assist the two San Diego-based hijackers in their daily lives. Abdullah, the FBI report explained, "played a key role in facilitating the daily lives aned assisting future Flight 77 hijackers." Abdullah was arrested by the FBI on September 19, 2011 and deported on immigration fraud charges. While in detention awaiting deportation, according to the FBI document, "he bragged to two fellow inmates that he assisted the hijackers. The FBI and SDNY have debriefed these individuals."
The heavily redacted FBI four-page memo, which is one of an estimated 1,100 documents to be released to the Florida Bulldog under the FOIA suit, referenced investigations still underway in Copenhagen, Denmark; London, England; and New York City.
Members of Congress are continuing to work with former U.S. Senator and Florida Governor Bob Graham on pursuing full release of all of the still-classified materials relating to 9/11. Graham told the Bulldog that "This [document] has never been disclosed before and it's to the contrary of everything the FBI has produced so far that has indicated that 9/11 is history. It's interesting that it took them 11 years to get there, and a FOIA to get this information to the public."
While the newly released document shows that the FBI continued to develop new leads on the network of support for the hijackers more than a decade after the attacks, and it reinforced leads first contained in the long-suppressed 28 pages, detailing possible Saudi regime backing for the terrorists, it more importantly suggests that U.S. law enforcement and intelligence agencies will be under renewed pressure to make full disclosure--no matter how it impacts on the already strained U.S.-Saudi relationship.
"Near-complete surprise was achieved by a combination of Allied overconfidence, preoccupation with Allied offensive plans, and poor aerial reconnaissance. The Germans attacked a weakly defended section of the Allied line, taking advantage of heavily overcast weather conditions, which grounded the Allies' overwhelmingly superior air forces. Fierce resistance on the northern shoulder of the offensive around Elsenborn Ridgeand in the south around Bastogne blocked German access to key roads to the northwest and west that they counted on for success. Columns of armor and infantry that were supposed to advance along parallel routes found themselves on the same roads. This and terrain that favored the defenders threw the German advance behind schedule and allowed the Allies to reinforce the thinly placed troops. Improved weather conditions permitted air attacks on German forces and supply lines, which sealed the failure of the offensive. In the wake of the defeat, many experienced German units were left severely depleted of men and equipment, as survivors retreated to the defenses of the Siegfried Line." wiki
Long ago and far away I served with a man named Bill Harris. This was in Turkey in a big NATO headquarters. Harris was a full colonel and a WW2 paratrooper. I was a very young major just back from Vietnam.
Bill was from Missouri, had attended the University of Missouri and had left that institution in the mid-30s when he ran out of money. He joined the pre-WW2 US Army and had reached the rank of sergeant before the Japanese attacked the fleet at Pearl Harbor.
He spent a few months improving the training of National Guard troops as they mobilized for war and then was sent to the Infantry Officer Candidate school at Fort Benning, Georgia. To his surprise he was assigned to the emerging paratroop force at graduation. He served with the 505th Parachute Infantry Regiment of the 82nd Airborne Division throughout the war in Europe.
Bill jumped into; Sicily and Salerno in Italy, Normandy and Holland with the 505th Regiment. He was the only man I ever saw who had four stars embedded in his parachute badge, one for each of his combat jumps. At the end of the Market Garden operation in Holland the 82nd Division was pulled back to a rest and training area outside Paris. There, the division built itself a camp and settled down to wait for spring and an anticipated jump across the Rhine. By that time, Bill Harris was a major and the chief operations staff officer (S-3) of the 505th.
Christmas approached and the division prepared to party. Officers' Class A uniforms were brought over from storage in England so that they would look resplendent for an anticipated grand Christmas gala to be held a few days before the holiday. The front was far to the east and the intelligence people thought the Germans would be inactive for a while, certainly long enough for the 82nd to celebrate. The division's engineers built an amphitheater made of canvas and wood in which to hold the officers' party. The structure had concentric circular platforms on which tables for four were placed at higher and higher levels as one moved away from the center. In the very center of the big tent was a dance floor. The division's band combined forces with part of the Air Corps' Glenn Miller Orchestra to provide music. "Chattanooga Choo Choo" and "American Patrol" sounded through the wintry night for the party. Women and booze were pre-requisites for such an event. Paris was an easy source for the liquor. Army nurses, Red Cross girls and French women from the city were invited and eagerly accepted.
A video is worth a thousand words.
Well, pilgrims, this is the Aziziya neighborhood in West Aleppo. It is a very multi-confessional district. I particularly like the brass band in Santa suits. They appear to be playing the Syrian National Anthem. Note the two comely teen aged girl scouts standing near the band. The display of flags is interesting; Syria, Russia, Hizbullah. One of our German correspondents on SST informed us the other day that there are now some Christian members of Hizbullah, the Lebanese Shia militia. This would make sense because after the 2006 war against Israel Hizbullah assigned priority of its own reconstruction money to Christians in south Lebanon. The tree has a Lebanese cedar emblem on it so I suppose it came from there. The MSM portrays Aleppo as a smoking ruin. What do you say about this, Joe? pl