FOD Fireball’s Observations of the Day January 5th through 8th 2018

Bama Beats Georgia

In a great national championship college football game that saw an amazing group of freshmen players on both sides, Alabama beat Georgia 26-23 in overtime.  And Mayhem is back!  The New Year’s resolution of the kinder, gentler, Mayhem didn’t even last two weeks…..

 

US Suspends Security Assistance to Pakistan

The relationship between the US and Pakistan has long been a complicated one.  The protracted 17 year war in Afghanistan has made us strained allies in the war against terrorism.  Defense Times is reporting the decision by the U.S. to suspend security assistance to Pakistan could have serious consequences for the American-led fight in Afghanistan, and potentially further strengthen ties between Islamabad and China.  As you’ll recall China is spending big money in Pakistan to develop and build the new silk road.  Our need to encourage Pakistan to assist the US conflicts with the government of Pakistan’s generally reluctance to put pressure on the tribal forces in Afghanistan they identify with more closely than those of western cultures.  Then there was that whole deal of allowing Osama bin Laden to hind in and flourish in Pakistan.  And it’s important to note that as we withdraw our influence or in this case money from the region, China is there to fill the gap.  Spokesperson for the United States Department of State Heather Nauert announced new restrictions on Thursday that cover security assistance above and beyond the $255 million for Pakistani purchases of American military equipment that the administration held up in August, but it was not immediately clear how much money and materiel was being withheld.  Nauert made clear the $255 million was still blocked. The new action targets payments of so-called Coalition Support Funds that the U.S. pays to Pakistan to reimburse it for its counterterrorism operations. Those funds are typically paid later in the year, and already require U.S. certification, so the effect of Thursday’s announcement was unclear.  The move comes days after President Donald Trump’s New Year’s Day tweet that accused Pakistan of playing U.S. leaders for “fools,” as well as a growing number of voices from the administration that have complained Pakistan is not doing enough to combat militants targeting U.S. personnel in neighboring Afghanistan.  On Monday, Trump said the U.S. had “foolishly” given Pakistan more than $33 billion in aid in the last 15 years and had gotten nothing in return but “lies & deceit.” He reiterated longstanding allegations that Pakistan gives “safe haven to the terrorists we hunt in Afghanistan.”  The big question facing the American effort in Afghanistan now becomes whether Pakistan retaliates by shutting down the supply lines for materiel into Afghanistan, known as the Ground Lines of Communication, or GLOC.  Hours before the announcement,  United States Secretary of Defense Jim Mattis was asked if there were any signals from Pakistan that cutting the aid would result in the GLOC being closed, to which he responded, “We have had no indication of anything like that.”  But closing the GLOC remains a long-standing concern for the U.S. Those lines represent the cheapest way of getting supplies to U.S. forces in Afghanistan, something the Pentagon learned the hard way between Nov. 2011 and July 2012, when Pakistan shut the GLOC routes down following an incident where 24 Pakistani soldiers were killed by NATO forces along the Afghanistan-Pakistan border.  Reporting in 2012 revealed that costs for getting needed supplies into Afghanistan went from $17 million a month to $104 million a month, a significant upcharge even by Pentagon budget standards. With significantly fewer troops in Afghanistan today than in 2012, the costs would not be quite so high, but could still hurt a Department of Defense that finds itself lacking budget stability.  Pakistan has for years tried to counterbalance its alliance with the U.S. with one from China, including with its military relationships. Industrially, Pakistan has agreed to work with China to produce a new submarine fleet as well as working together to develop what in Pakistan is known as the JF-17 jet fighter. In addition, China has developed the Azmat-class missile boat for Pakistan, which will carry Chinese-built weapons.  Notably, a Pentagon report from last June concluded that China will seek to develop a military base in Pakistan, which would represent only the second People’s Liberation Army military facility outside of China.  In an off-camera briefing with reporters on Friday, Mattis took a more conciliatory approach. He acknowledged Pakistan’s anti-terrorism efforts and emphasized that aid would be restored if the U.S. sees evidence of renewed effort by Pakistan.  So I’d say Pakistan has some choices to make.

Continue reading “FOD Fireball’s Observations of the Day January 5th through 8th 2018”

FOD Fireball’s Observations of the Day June 20 through 25, 2017

Friends of FOD

A bit delayed on this edition.  I’ve been moving the last few days.  It’s a pain in the butt.  And it doesn’t get easier with age or with the number of moves made in my lifetime.  Suffice it to say I’ve traded a great lake view for a great mountain view.   So things have gotten a bit behind.  Plus I had to wait until today to get my internet installed.  I know – excuses will be listened to, but not tolerated!

 

US Companies Providing Russians with Security Source Code

We have known for quite some time the Russians are employing every possible cyber tactic to undermine US computer systems, establish hacker networks and steal millions of dollars on a recurring basis.  So where are they getting some of the most critical product security secrets you might ask?  From the very companies developing the software.  Cisco, IBM and SAP have all acknowledged and acceded to the demands by Russia to review source code for security products such as firewalls, anti-virus applications and software containing encryption before permitting these products to be imported to and sold in Russia.  This, according to Reuters, has been going on for quite some time and those requests have increased since 2014.  Supposedly these requests are done to ensure foreign spy agencies have not hidden and “backdoors” that would allow them to borrow into Russian computer systems.  But in doing so Russian inspectors have the opportunity to find vulnerabilities in products’ source code and instructions that control both basic and advanced operations of computer equipment.  While a number of U.S. firms say they are playing ball to preserve their entree to Russia’s huge tech market, at least one U.S. firm, Symantec, told Reuters it has stopped cooperating with the source code reviews over security concerns. That halt has not been previously reported.  Symantec said one of the labs inspecting its products was not independent enough from the Russian government.  U.S. officials say they have warned firms about the risks of allowing the Russians to review their products’ source code, because of fears it could be used in cyber attacks. But they say they have no legal authority to stop the practice unless the technology has restricted military applications or violates U.S. sanctions.  (photo above left is the Russian Security Service Building).  From their side, companies say they are under pressure to acquiesce to the demands from Russian regulators or risk being shut out of a lucrative market. The companies say they only allow Russia to review their source code in secure facilities that prevent code from being copied or altered.  I wish I were making this up.  My recommendation – don’t sell them anything – let ’em rot.

Continue reading “FOD Fireball’s Observations of the Day June 20 through 25, 2017”

FOD Fireball’s Observations of the Day February 22 through 25, 2017

First Female Naval Aviator

On 22 February 1974, Lieutenant Junior Grade  Barbara Allen Rainey, receives her wings of gold and becomes the first female designated a naval aviator.  In early 1973, the Secretary of the Navy John W. Warner announced a test program to train female Naval Aviators.   Seeking a greater challenge and wanting to follow in the footsteps of her U.S. Marine Corps aviator brother, Bill, Allen applied to the program and was accepted into the U.S. Naval Flight Training School. She was assigned to fly C-1s in Alameda, California with a transport squadron and became the first jet qualified woman in the U. S. Navy flying the T-39.  Unfortunately she, then LCDR Rainey, and Ensign Donald B. Knowlton were killed in a  T-34C Mentor while practicing tough-and-go landings at  Middleton Field near EvergreenAlabama.  A few folks might remember the ensuing  product liability suit against Beech Aircraft Corporation, portions of which would eventually be heard by the United States Supreme Court in Beech Aircraft Corp. v. Rainey.  In this case the Findings of Fact and the Opinions and Recommendations of the JAG report made their way to the US Supreme Court.

 

Teddy Roosevelt welcomes back Great White Fleet

In this photo below, President Theodore Roosevelt (on the 12-inch (30 cm) gun turret at right) addresses officers and crewmen on Connecticut, in Hampton Roads, Virginia, upon her return from the Fleet’s cruise around the world, 22 February 1909.  The Great White Fleet was the popular nickname for the United States Navy battle fleet that completed a journey around the globe from December 16, 1907, to February 22, 1909, by order of United States President Theodore Roosevelt. It consisted of 16 battleships divided into two squadrons, along with various escorts.  Roosevelt sought to demonstrate growing American martial power and blue-water navy capability. Hoping to enforce treaties and protect overseas holdings, the United States Congress appropriated funds to build American sea power. Beginning with just 90 small ships, over one-third of them wooden, the navy quickly grew to include new modern steel fighting vessels. The hulls of these ships were painted a stark white, giving the armada the nickname “Great White Fleet.”  The purpose of the fleet deployment was multifaceted. Ostensibly, it served as a showpiece of American goodwill, as the fleet visited numerous countries and harbors. In this, the voyage was not unprecedented. Naval courtesy calls, many times in conjunction with the birthdays of various monarchs and other foreign celebrations, had become common in the 19th century.  Roosevelt’s stated intent was to give the navy practice in navigation, communication, coal consumption and fleet maneuvering; navy professionals maintained, however, that such matters could be served better in home waters. In light of what had happened to the Russian Baltic Fleet, they were concerned about sending their own fleet on a long deployment, especially since part of the intent was to impress a modern, battle-tested navy that had not known defeat. The fleet was untested in making such a voyage, and Tsushima had proven that extended deployments had no place in practical strategy.

 

Flag raised at Iwo Jima

The photograph below was taken on February 23, 1945, by Joe Rosenthal. It depicts six United States Marines raising a U.S. flag atop Mount Suribachi, during the Battle of Iwo JimaAs mentioned in earlier FOD thoughts, the photograph was first published in Sunday newspapers on February 25, 1945. It was extremely popular and was reprinted in thousands of publications. Later, it became the only photograph to win the Pulitzer Prize for Photography in the same year as its publication, and came to be regarded in the United States as one of the most significant and recognizable images of the war.  Three Marines depicted in the photograph, Sergeant Michael Strank, Corporal Harlon Block, and Private First Class Franklin Sousley were killed in action over the next few days. The three surviving flag-raisers were Corporals (then Private First Class) Rene GagnonIra Hayes, and Harold Schultz who first received Marine Corps recognition in June 2016.  The image was later used by Felix de Weldon to sculpt the Marine Corps War Memorial which was dedicated in 1954 to all Marines who died for their country past and present, and is located in Arlington Ridge Park, near the Ord-Weitzel Gate to Arlington National Cemetery and the Netherlands Carillon. The original mold is located on the Marine Military Academy grounds, a private college preparatory academy located in Harlingen, Texas.

 

First kids receive polio vaccine

On February 23, 1954, children at Arsenal Elementary School in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, receive the first injections of the new polio vaccine developed by Dr. Jonas Salk.  Polio vaccines are vaccines used to prevent poliomyelitis (polio).  There are two types: one that uses inactivated poliovirus and is given by injection (IPV), and one that uses weakened poliovirus and is given by mouth (OPV). The World Health Organization recommends all children be vaccinated against polio.  The two vaccines have eliminated polio from most of the world, and reduced the number of cases each year from an estimated 350,000 in 1988 to 74 in 2015.  The inactivated polio vaccines are very safe. Mild redness or pain may occur at the site of injection. Oral polio vaccines result in vaccine-associated paralytic poliomyelitis in about three per million doses.  This compares with one in two hundred who are paralysed following a polio infection.  Both are generally safe to give during pregnancy and in those who have HIV/AIDS but are otherwise well.  The first polio vaccine was the inactivated polio vaccine.  It was developed by Jonas Salk and came into use in 1955.  The oral polio vaccine was developed by Albert Sabin and came into commercial use in 1961.  They are on the World Health Organization’s List of Essential Medicines, the most effective and safe medicines needed in a health system.  The wholesale cost in the developing world is about 0.25 USD per dose for the oral form as of 2014.  In the United States it costs between 25 and 50 USD for the inactivated form.

 

The Great One scores

Jesus saves!  He passes to Gretzky and Gretzky scores. On 24 February 1984, Wayne Gretzky scores his 77th  goal in one season, a record thought to have been unbeatable.  He played twenty seasons in the National Hockey League (NHL) for four teams from 1979 to 1999. Nicknamed “The Great One.” He has been called “the greatest hockey player ever,” by many sportswriters, players, and the league itself. He is the leading scorer in NHL history, with more goals and assists than any other player. He garnered more assists than any other player scored total points, and is the only NHL player to total over 200 points in one season – a feat he accomplished four times. In addition, he tallied over 100 points in 16 professional seasons, 14 of them consecutive. At the time of his retirement in 1999, he held 61 NHL records: 40 regular-season records, 15 playoff records, and six All-Star records.  As of 2014, he still holds 60 NHL records.

 

 

 

 

UA 811 looses cargo door on climb out from PHNL

On February 24, 1989, United Airlines Flight 811, a Boeing 747-122 was on a regularly scheduled airline flight from San Francisco to Sydney, with intermediate stops at Los AngelesHonolulu, and Auckland.   16 minutes after takeoff, about 60 miles (97 kilometers) south of Honolulu, the 747 was climbing through an altitude of 22,000 feet (6,705 meters) at 300 knots (345 miles per hour/556 kilometers per hour) when, at 02:09:09 HST, the cargo door on the lower right side of the fuselage, just forward of the wing, failed, blowing outward. Explosive decompression blew a huge hole in the fuselage. Ten passenger seats were carried away along with nine passengers. A flight attendant was nearly lost, but was dragged back inside by passengers and crew.   serving the flight experienced a cargo door failure in flight shortly after leaving Honolulu. The resulting explosive decompression blew out several rows of seats, resulting in the deaths of nine passengers. Debris damaged the two engines on the right wing, causing them to lose power. Flames were visible. Both engines had to be shut down. Flight 811 declared an emergency, began descending and dumping fuel to reduce the airliner’s weight for an emergency landing. The 747 turned back toward Honolulu.  Because the wing had also been damaged, the flaps could not be fully extended and this required a much higher than normal approach speed. The 747 touched down at approximately 200 knots (230 miles per hour/370 kilometers per hour). After coming to a stop, Flight 811 was completely evacuated within 45 seconds. Every flight attendant suffered some injury.  The cause of the cargo door failure was determined to be a faulty design, combine with a short in the 747’s electrical system. The door was recovered by a U.S. Navy manned deep sea submersible Sea Cliff from a depth of 14,100 feet (4,298 meters).

 

These Greenbacks are Legal Tender

To finance the Civil War, the federal government on February 25, 1862 passed the Legal Tender Act, authorizing the creation of paper money not redeemable in gold or silver. About $430 million worth of “greenbacks” were put in circulation, and this money by law had to be accepted for all taxes, debts, and other obligations—even those contracted prior to the passage of the act.  A few years later, in Hepburn v. Griswold (Feb. 7, 1870), the Court ruled by a four-to-three majority that Congress lacked the power to make the notes legal tender. Chief Justice Salmon P. Chase, who as secretary of the Treasury during the Civil War had been involved in enacting the Legal Tender Act, wrote the majority opinion, declaring that the congressional authorization of greenbacks as legal tender violated Fifth Amendment guarantees against deprivation of property without due process of law.  On the day the decision was announced, a disapproving President Grant sent the nominations of two new justices to the Senate for confirmation. Justices Bradley and Strong were confirmed, and at the next session the court agreed to reconsider the greenback issue. In Knox v. Lee and Parker v. Davis (May 1, 1871), the Court reversed its Hepburn v. Griswold decision by a five-to-four majority, asserting that the Legal Tender Act of 1862 represented a justifiable use of federal power at a time of national emergency.