A U.S. Navy C-2 Greyhound engaged in Carrier Onboard Delivery aircraft carrying 11 people crashed in the Philippine Sea south of Japan on Wednesday as it flew to the aircraft carrier Ronald Reagan and three people were missing. “Search and rescue efforts for three personnel continue with U.S. Navy and Japan Maritime Self-Defense Force (JMSDF) ships and aircraft on scene,” the U.S. Seventh Fleet said in a news release. The C-2 has had a good safety record and has not been involved in a fatal accident since 1973 and has been in service for more than fifty years.
North Korea Back On The List As A State Sponsor of Terrorism
I was a bit surprised North Korea was not already on the list of State Sponsors of Terrorism. President Trump announced on 21 November his administration would redesignate North Korea to this category which carries with it additional sanctions (how many more can there be?). So, practically speaking this redesignation is more symbolic than practical, as the most serious sanctions have already been put in place, and to date those sanctions have not had the desired effect of persuading North Korea to either abandon or negotiate regarding their nuclear weapons program. The North spent 20 years on that list before being removed in 2008 by the George W. Bush administration for meeting nuclear inspection requirements. Pyongyang later violated the agreement. In a speech to the South Korean national assembly two weeks ago, Trump cited atrocities carried out by the Kim regime and called the North “a hell that no person deserves.” Among other acts, Kim’s regime stands accused of carrying out the assassination of his half brother, Kim Jong Nam, with a chemical nerve agent at a Malaysian airport in February. “Importantly, this is just continuing to point out North Korea’s illicit, unlawful behaviors internationally,” United States Secretary of StateRex Tillerson said at the White House daily briefing Monday. “And we felt it was important to reimpose the designation for that reason.” Tillerson cited other recent sanctions from the United States and the United Nations on the North and added that the redesignation “continues to tighten the pressure on the Kim regime, all with an intention to have him to understand, ‘This is just going to get worse until you’re ready to come and talk.'” Iran, Sudan and Syria also are on the list, which is administered by the U.S. Department of State. According to that agency, sanctions for those nations on the list include “restrictions on U.S. foreign assistance; a ban on defense exports and sales; certain controls over exports of dual use items; and miscellaneous financial and other restrictions.”
Charles Manson, the sinister hippie cult leader who declared himself “the Devil” and dispatched his followers to commit a series of Hollywood murders in 1969 that shocked the country, died Sunday night in a California hospital. Good. Manson was sentenced to death in 1971 for directing the brutal murders of Tate and six other people, but he was spared two years later and was sentenced to life behind bars when California did away with the death penalty.
Baseball’s Most Valuable Player Awards
In the American League, Jose Altuve convincingly won the 2017 MVP Award. He received 27 of 30 first-place votes, racking up 405 total points. Yankees outfielder Aaron Judge finished in second place with 279 points and Indians third baseman Jose Ramirez finished in third place with 237 points. Altuve played well all year, was great in the World Series and was particularly supportive of his teammates during his post award interviews. And at 5’6” it shows you don’t have to be a big guy to play baseball at the highest level. Altuve, 27, led all of baseball with a .346 batting average and led the AL with 204 hits en route to helping the Astros win the AL West with 101 wins, then dispatched of the Red Sox, Yankees, and Dodgers to win the World Series. He also had a .410 on-base percentage, a .547 slugging percentage, 39 doubles, 24 home runs, 32 stolen bases, 81 RBI, and 112 runs scored in 662 plate appearances during the regular season. He is the first Astro to win the MVP Award since Jeff Bagwell in the strike-shortened 1994 season. Marlins outfielder Giancarlo Stanton was named the 2017 National League Most Valuable Player as voted on by the Baseball Writers Association of America. He narrowly edged out Reds first baseman Joey Votto, as both received the same number of first-place votes,
but Stanton received one more second- and third-place vote. Stanton had 302 total points to Votto’s 300. It was the closest balloting in years. Stanton, 28, led all of baseball with 59 home runs and 132 RBI, and led the National League with a .631 slugging percentage. He also hit .281 with a .376 on-base percentage, scoring 123 runs in 692 plate appearances. Stanton is the first member of the Marlins to win the MVP Award since the team came into existence in 1993.
I am on vacation this week! I’m not quite sure how that differs from my other weeks these days, but I’m calling it vacation.
Well anyway, I’m enjoying some time with a group of good friends, mostly old Navy guys. We spend a few days fishing, shooting at pumpkins filled with Tannerite, brushing up on our much unpracticed Texas Hold’em skills and sharing some great meals at The High Country Inn – Home. I’m sad to report no fish were harmed on our first day of fishing, but we’re picking up some today!
Friends should help you move. I can call on these friends to help move the bodies.
President Trump Moves To Decertify Iran Deal
As predicted in the previous edition of FOD (and some of those other media institutions) President Donald Trump is expected to put the 2015 Iran nuclear deal squarely in the hands of Congress, refusing to certify that Iran is in compliance with the deal but letting lawmakers decide whether to tear it up. Congress will now have to decide if they will reimpose sanctions on Iran with regard to the country’s nuclear program, or attach new conditions to the agreement. Those sanctions were lifted as part of the 2015 agreement, and reimposing them would effectively destroy the deal, known as the JCPOA. I watched his short speech announcing his actions. He focused on many actions Iran has taken over the years to destabilize nations in the region as well as their strident and continual support of terrorism around the globe. That terrorism includes state and non-state militant Moslem actions, cyber attacks, threats to freedom of navigation on the high seas coupled with their development of ballistic missiles in conjunction with their own nuclear development program. One of the big issues of concern to Tehran is how the president would treat the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps, the hardline military wing that had already been sanctioned for weapons proliferation under prior administrations. This is also of concern to European countries that do business with shell companies actually owned by the IRGC. According to a senior administration official, Trump intends to designate the corps as a supporter of terrorism, but will stop short of calling it a foreign terror organization. The administration is required to make the designation under legislation Trump signed in August covering sanctions against Iran, Russia and North Korea. Although officials had until Oct. 31 to decide, they are including the designation in today’s speech of the larger Iran strategy. Those in the administration who are worried about Iran misinterpreting or overreacting are eager to emphasize the distinction between being a supporter of terrorism and an actual terrorist organization. They also emphasize that it has no practical effect because of other existing IRGC designations, but that it could enrage the Iranians.
A lot of FOD to pick up. Comments welcomed of course.
Hurricane Maria Relief Efforts
We’re just beginning to grasp the scope of the devastation to Puerto Rico. This American territory has been holding on by a thread for years and has been on the verge of bankruptcy several times. Its infrastructure was already substandard and in need of major overhaul prior to Maria. Military Times is reporting, two U.S. Navy ships, National Guard, Air National Guard, Reserve troops and Army helicopters are providing aid to Puerto Rico. But questions are mounting over whether the U.S. is doing enough for its territory and people, who are American citizens. To date, the amphibious assault ship Kearsarge and dock landing ship Oak Hill have “conducted eight medical evacuations, 148 airlifts and delivered 44,177 [pounds] of relief supplies and cargo to Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands,” U.S. Northern Command said in a statement. U.S. forces have also restored a mobile communications tower at St. Thomas International Airport to enable the airport to receive additional aircraft to evacuate residents. The amphibious assault ship Wasp has been conducting similar rescues in Dominica, but that ship will be departing the region to head to the Pacific, where it will eventually relieve the Bonhomme Richard, a Navy official said. Approximately 2,600 U.S. military personnel and National Guard members are currently involved in Hurricane Maria relief efforts, the Pentagon said. Currently, more than 700 Air National Guard airmen are deployed to Florida, the U.S. Virgin Islands and Puerto Rico to support relief efforts. Most of Puerto Rico has no electricity or cell phone capabilities because of Hurricane Maria’s damage to the electrical grid and cell towers. There are long lines for food and water. Likely we’ll need to do more and the more is likely to continue for years.
USS Fitzgerald and USS John S. McCain Take Another Top Officer
I’ve stated before here in FOD, I don’t believe sanctions against North Korea will have the desired effect of divesting their efforts to develop nuclear weapons. Kim Jong Un has consistently pursued a path of acquiring nuclear weapons and the missiles to deliver them in spite of the world’s desires for diminish his resolve to the point of allowing millions of his own people to die of starvation. Lack of cash however, might have the effect of at least slowing North Korea’s efforts. China’s banks in particular have been willing to launder Kim Jong Un’s money for years. Only recently, the Department of the Treasury took actions against the Bank of Dandong over concerns that it was participating in illicit financial activities with North Korea — an early signal to Chinese financial institutions of U.S. willingness to increase pressure on entities that do business with Pyongyang. On 21 September 2017, President Donald Trump announced Thursday that he had signed an executive order authorizing additional sanctions against North Korea by targeting individuals, companies and financial institutions that do business with what he called “this criminal rogue regime.” Speaking before a meeting with South Korean President Moon Jae-in and Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, Trump said his goal is the “complete denuclearization” of North Korea and added that the nation led by Kim Jong Un posed a “grave threat to peace and security in our world.” Trump noted that he’d signed the executive order just as China’s central bank “has told their other banks … to immediately stop doing business with North Korea.” The president praised Chinese President Xi Jinping for the “very bold move.” Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin (photo right) confirmed that he did call the People’s Bank of China early Thursday morning to alert them to this coming action, but skirted the question when asked if these sanctions were specifically aimed at China. “This action is directed at everyone,” Mnuchin said, calling the executive order a significant expansion of Treasury’s power to target the Kim regime and those financial entities and individuals who seek to do business with it. The executive order is “forward looking,” meaning Treasury will consider new designations on a “rolling basis” from Thursday on. So far, the administration has sought to pressure Pyonyang largely through forceful economic steps, including Thursday’s latest action and U.N. Security Council sanctions earlier this month. The President has this right.