FOD Fireball’s Observations of the Day February 1st through 7th 2018

Saying of the Day

I thought growing old would take longer

Friends of FOD

Running a bit late with this edition.  Actually I tried to publish last night, but the internet connection in my hotel was too slow to make it work, so I went to bed. Working on the ’31 Chevy is …. It’s almost like a job, but costs me instead of pays me.

 

How China Could Takeover Taiwan Without A Shot Fired

I’ve mentioned here in FOD how freedom of the seas and in particular the South China Sea is important not only to the Asian nations in the region, but for all nations who depend upon the free exchange of goods and services through those contested waters.  China’s ability to restrict trade to selective nations of their choice is a weapon as old as the sea.  Taiwan has long been a thorn in the side of China since the communist government has been in place.  And while Taiwan has military ties with Japan and the US there are likely limits established as to what we might do if China were to act militarily.  A few days ago Asian Times reported rumors have swirled on both sides of the Taiwan Strait since the beginning of last year that Chinese President Xi Jinping was mulling taking back the wayward, self-ruling island of Taiwan in one fell swoop amid growing militancy among the Chinese masses.  Some have gone so far as to suggest that by the early 2020s the two sides would be in a state of belligerence as Xi, unlike his predecessors, has no scruples against waging a full-blown war to recapture what Beijing considers a renegade province.  They say that the year 2022, the end of Xi’s second tenure as the general secretary of the Communist Party of China, would be the deadline for him to exert his unrestrained powers to redeem the glory of the Middle Kingdom, after Xi has made “China dream” and “great revitalization” the tag lines of his rule.  “Xi’s grand visions will become empty platitudes if he fails to take back Taiwan before his second term ends, and in that case his ‘China dream’ will become a pipe dream, and he is fully aware of that,” said one analyst.  No one will doubt that China’s Central Military Commission and the People’s Liberation Army have in place a host of all-encompassing combat plans of tactics and deployment to suit all war scenarios, as well as stratagems to deter or fend off intervention by the US or Japan.  The Chinese military must have been updating these plans from time to time to reflect changes in geopolitics and Taiwan’s own defenses, for Xi to choose from should he feel that the time is ripe for a once-and-for-all, momentous action to tame and reclaim the island.  Meanwhile, Beijing has also been on a spree of building or inaugurating aircraft carriers, missiles, corvettes, destroyers, amphibious battleships and stealth fighters, fueling further speculation over whether Taiwan stands a chance when Xi, armed with the will of the rank and file, is girding for a new Chinese civil war.  While many observers believe Xi is readying the military and the nation for a showdown, a bid that will decide how he will go down in history, veteran military commentator Andrei Chang noted in the Kanwa Defense Review that the PLA’s big guns and ships may be for show to make Washington and Tokyo think twice before stepping in, and a trigger doesn’t have to be pulled now that Xi has a slew of non-military options at his disposal.  The Hong Kong-based current-affairs monthly SuperMedia also reported that among the many diplomatic and economic means to subjugate the island is issuing Taiwan Special Administrative Region passports and granting hukou (Chinese household registration) and permanent residency to the 2 million Taiwanese already residing in mainland China.  Previous reports also suggest that the PLA’s first overseas base, which sits right on the Horn of Africa in Djibouti (and discussed here in FOD previously), is aimed at Taiwan, since the resource-scarce island relies substantially on the narrow waterway linking the Suez Canal and the Arabian Sea for oil imports from the Middle East as well as trade with Europe. From the Djibouti base PLA troops could intercept tankers ferrying oil to Taiwan and seal off the island’s trade artery in no time.  Beijing’s frenzied investment and acquisitions targeting stakes in mines, oilfields and energy firms in the Belt and Road countries could also jeopardize Taiwan’s economic security should Beijing decree an embargo of crude oil and other natural resources, according to Chang.  Something they have been unwilling to do when it comes to dealing with North Korea.  The raft of economic, trade, financial and logistical measures short of a shooting war to contain Taiwan won’t provide an opening for Washington to weight in, yet given time, they could work to coerce Taiwanese President Tsai Ing-wen into coming to terms with Xi and accepting whatever he has in store for a treaty to create a future Taiwan Special Administrative Region of the People’s Republic of China.

Continue reading “FOD Fireball’s Observations of the Day February 1st through 7th 2018”

FOD Fireball’s Observations of the Day January 14th through 18th 2018

Saying of the Day

Id est quod id est.   It is what it is, but it sounds a lot smarter in Latin.

 

Five Officers Referred To An Article 32 Hearing

In an extremely rare event, the Navy has decided to charge five officers with negligent homicide for their roles in the two fatal ship collisions, the USS John S. McCain (DDG-56) (being moved aboard MV Treasure below left) and the USS Fitzgerald (DDG-62).  In the early morning hours of 17 June 2017, the USS Fitzgerald (also being moved below right) was involved in a collision with the container ship MV ACX Crystal, seriously damaging the destroyer. Seven of Fitzgerald‘s crew were killed. Several others were injured, including her commanding officer, Commander Bryce Benson. The John S. McCain was involved in a collision with the merchant ship Alnic MC on 21 August 2017 off the coast of Singapore, which resulted in the deaths of ten of her crew, and left another five injured. I don’t recall a case in recent Navy history where accident at sea has triggered such criminal charges.  Navy Times is reporting The Navy on Tuesday laid out the charges that would be presented at what is called an Article 32 hearing, which will determine whether the accused will go to trial in a court-martial. No doubt paving the way for the severe charges was the significant loss of life in the two collisions.  “What’s different here is the loss of life,” said Eugene Fidell, an expert in military law who teaches at Yale Law School. “The victims’ families are obviously devastated by this, the Navy obviously feels it has an obligation to them as well to its own standards.”  The Fireball guess would be the cases will end with plea bargains and the officers are more likely to be dismissed from the service, lose their retirement or receive other administrative punishments.  Again according to Navy Times, in one of the few relatively recent similar cases, two Marine officers were tried on charges of negligent homicide and manslaughter for piloting a small twin-engine military plane into a cable holding a gondola in Italy in 1998. The wing of the twin-engine Prowler was flying too low when it sliced through the cable, sending 20 civilians in the cable car plummeting to their deaths. The two officers were found not guilty of those charges, but were later found guilty of obstruction of justice for destroying a video taken during the flight.  (There were a number of issues in this case which certainly warranted dismissal of the charges).  Commanders involved in other ship collisions have largely avoided any type of homicide or manslaughter charges.  In the case of the Ehime Maru and USS Greeneville collision on 9 February 2001, Greenville (SSN-772) conducting an emergency main ballast tank blow off the coast of Oahu while hosting several civilian “distinguished visitors”, mainly donors to the Battleship Missouri Memorial, the Greeneville struck the 191-foot (58 m) Japanese fishery high school training ship Ehime Maru (えひめ丸), causing the fishing boat to sink in less than ten minutes with the death of nine crew members, including four high school students.  The commander of the Greeneville, Commander Scott Waddle, accepted full responsibility for the incident. However, after he faced a court of inquiry, it was decided a full court-martial would be unnecessary and Commander Waddle’s request to retire was approved for 1 October 2001 with an honorable discharge.  The Navy said Wednesday that preliminary hearings for the five officers charged in the Fitzgerald and McCain collisions will likely be held in the coming weeks in the Washington, D.C., region, but exact locations and dates are not set yet. The hearing officer will decide whether there is enough evidence for the cases will go to a trial by court-martial and what specific charges will be brought against the officers, based on that evidence.  The maximum punishment for negligent homicide is three years in prison and dismissal from the Navy. For a conviction on that charge, Fidell said, prosecutors must prove the officer was guilty of “simple negligence” that resulted in the deaths.  In addition to the negligent homicide charge, several officers are also facing charges of dereliction of duty and endangering a ship. The maximum punishment for the dereliction of duty charge is three months in jail, and the maximum punishment for endangering a vessel is two years in jail.  The Navy conducted a series of investigations and reviews into the two collisions, concluding that the accidents were the result of poor judgment, bad decision-making and widespread training and leadership failures by the commanders and crew who didn’t quickly recognize and respond to unfolding emergencies.

Continue reading “FOD Fireball’s Observations of the Day January 14th through 18th 2018”

FOD Fireball’s Observations of the Day November 20th through 22nd, 2017

Friends of FOD – Happy Thanksgiving

 

COD Aircraft Crashes in Philippine Sea

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 State Rex 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.”

 

Continue reading “FOD Fireball’s Observations of the Day November 20th through 22nd, 2017”

FOD Fireball’s Observations of the Day November 7th through 9th 2017

Fireball Rant of Day – The End of the Driving Your Automobile Is In Sight

In the beginning there were no automobiles and there was darkness along the roads.  And man said let us have cars that will move us along the road more efficiently than the horse.  At first man created basic transportation vehicles.  Once two cars were created, they raced them to see which was better.  Man then designed cars to reflect specific needs; functionality combined with beauty and style.  The brothers August and Frederick Duesenberg, Henry Ford , Louis Chevrolet, Ferdinand Porsche,  Enzo Ferrari all designed and built cars to go beyond transportation befitting our dreams of how to drive and what to drive.  I’ve been a car guy all my life.  My first car at age 3 was a pedal car very similar to this photo (below right).  David Dikowski lived two houses down from us.  He had a fire engine pedal car (below left).  We raced each other routinely ‘cause that’s what guys do.   I worn out three sets of tires on that pedal car.  The first car I bought was a tangerine orange ’69 Porsche 911 E Targa.  I purchased it from my high school French teacher, another car guy.  I’ve had Porsche 911’s ever since.  That’s mine below right.  Why?  Because they’re fun to drive; they were built to drive; to drive fast; to take corners with ease; to make a statement; to be the statement.  I’ve also had a couple street rods over the years and as most of you know I’m building a ’31 Chevy 5 Window Coupe.  (photo of a 3 window coupe – not mine) Your imagination and your wallet establish the design parameters for these most personalized vehicles.  Today’s cars are already being homogenized so as to look nearly identical.  They’re either black, white, one of the 50 shades of grey with one red and one blue car per 100 thrown into the mix.  I noted that on 07 November, Waymo, a subsidiary of Google has partnered with several other big name corporations to introduce driverless ride-sharing within the next few months, beginning in Phoenix.  Those partners include: Fiat-Chrysler for minivans, AutoNation for vehicle service, Avis for fleet management and Lyft for their ride-share technology.  Every big name automobile manufacturer is employing all available technology to create driverless ride-share.   It will only be a few years until driverless vehicles are accepted as the norm.  Children born today will never need to obtain that rite of passage – a driver’s license.

When these blob vehicles reach a critical mass of say 75%; governments will say, driverless cars all obey the speed limits all the time, they reduce the number of accidents, cars driven by individuals are responsible for 90% of vehicle accidents; therefore you have five years to cease driving your vehicles on public roads – you may keep them in your own personal museum – under certain qualifying rules of course.  What I see developing is a culture where we can’t and don’t drive.  Vehicles will be owned, operated, maintained by conglomerates.  People will just pay for a service provided ride from point A to B.  The building of great automobiles and the experience of driving those automobiles will be gone forever.  I will be both mad and sad. Comments please!

Continue reading “FOD Fireball’s Observations of the Day November 7th through 9th 2017”

FOD Fireball’s Observations of the Day October 23 through 29, 2017

Joe Girardi Will Not Return To The Yankees

David Kaplan of ESPN 1000 and NBC Sports Chicago reports that Yankees manager Joe Girardi will not return for the 2018 season.  It was the team’s decision to part ways. Girardi guided a youthful Yankees core to this year’s American League Championship Series, but there had been growing chatter that a change might be coming both before and at various points during that impressive postseason run. Girardi finishes up his 10-year tenure in New York with a 910-710 managerial record and one World Series championship (2009). He’ll be a hot name on the open market if he wants to jump right back into managing somewhere else. There are a few managerial candidates out there.  The Boston Red Sox hired the Houston Astros’ bench coach, Alex Cora, to be their manager on Sunday.  The Red Sox announced the hire a day after the Astros eliminated the Yankees in the American League Championship Series. With two days off before Houston opened the World Series against the Los Angeles Dodgers, Boston had a chance to hire Cora without running afoul of Major League Baseball’s ban on major moves during the Series.  He may end up being a good manager, but he has no managerial experience.  While there are some people who speculate he should have been a leading candidate for the job, I disagree.  You can’t come to the Yankees with no experience.  I like Don Mattingly for the job, but the Yankees will have to hire him away from the total rebuilding effort planned for Derek Jeter’s Miami Marlins.   Mattingly served as captain of the Yankees from 1991 through 1995.  Returning to the Yankees as a coach in 2004 for manager Joe Torre, he followed Torre to the Dodgers in 2008, and succeeded him as the Dodgers’ manager in 2011. The Dodgers and Mattingly mutually parted ways after the 2015 season, and he became manager of the Miami Marlins.  “Donnie Baseball” – where would you rather be – Yankees of Marlins?

 

 

World Series – Games 2, 3 and 4

A great comeback in the second game of the World Series on October 25th.by the Houston Astros to win the game in Los Angeles tying the Series

at one game apiece.  The great Vin Scully was in the audience and  I was reminded of another great World Series game finish in 1986, when  with one strike from defeat, the Mets tie the game on a wild pitch and then, thanks to Red Sox’s Bill Buckner’s error (let the ball go through his legs) (below right), win Game 6, knotted the Fall Classic at three games apiece. This event was selected as one of baseball’s 30 most baseball memorable moments.  “If one picture is worth a thousand words, you have seen about a million words, but more than that, you have seen an absolutely bizarre finish to Game 6 of the 1986 World Series.” – Vin Scully, describing the aftermath of the play after a long silence.  And of course the Mets went on to beat the Red Sox.  Game three showed the value once again of home field.  A good back and forth game with the Astros prevailing.  Game 4 was moving along with some really good pitching as you would expect until the eighth inning and then the train came off the tracks.  The Dodger’s first baseman Cody Bellinger‘s struggled through the first three games of the World Series. He went 0-for-4 with four strikeouts in Game 3, which ran his hitless streak up to 11 at-bats in the Fall Classic. Bellinger turned his fortune around in Game 4, helping the Dodgers even the World Series at two games apiece with a 6-1 victory at Minute Maid Park.  And we’re tied at two games apiece going into tonight’s game at publishing time.

Continue reading “FOD Fireball’s Observations of the Day October 23 through 29, 2017”