Saturday, December 31, 2011

I'll be back next year!

Have a GREAT New Year, and stay safe out there. PLEASE!

Welcome Home: Lest We Forget

From DSL Chuck Shuck:

Our Military Police brothers home in the United States. We will be forever grateful. May we never forget their sacrifice.

From War On Terror News:

Thursday, December 29, 2011

WELCOME HOME: Lest We Forget.

Friday, December 30, 2011

NASA: Fastest Rotating Star Found in Neighboring Galaxy

All - and always - about the kids

HAD to share this one. War On Terror News shared this picture with this cutline:

Afghan Kids are just happy to have a chance to learn. A classroom to them, doesn't need computers, iPads, or necessarily even walls, roofs, chairs, or desks. While a big tree, a teacher, and a blackboard will do, textbooks, paper, and pencils are a nice bonus.

Being the intrepid researcher that he is, WOTN also found the original story that this picture comes from: Canadians Come Together to put Desks in Two Area Kabul Schools

In these days when the msm still runs their ink perpetuating the myth of our Troops as murdering Rambos on steroids, wantonly killing innocent women and children, a picture like this reminds us ALL what our Military actually fights for around the world: The Kids.

All - and always - for the kids.

Back in February, War On Terror News wrote about the power of the pencil for Afghan kids, and how eager they are to learn. Out of all the columns WOTN writes, this is one my my favourites, so of course, I had to add it here for those who may have missed it. It IS a must read. Promise!

How Your #2 Pencil Can Save Afghanistan!

And then there is this from 2009:

Dust Devils Spawned of Candy Sins

Last Friday of 2011 To Support Our Troops!

As usual, the Canada Geese are ON the job!!!

PLO Plans to 'Disengage' From Israel

From Israel National News:

by Gavriel Queenann PLO Plans to 'Disengage' From Israel

Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO) officials said Friday their decision to return to 'popular resistance' is aimed at 'disengaging' from Israel.

PLO Executive Committee member Tayseer Khalid said the new unified Fatah-Hamas strategy will be based on 'popular resistance' which will spread into PA enclaves in Judea and Samaria.

"The popular resistance will reshape the Palestinian relationship with Israel... to reach total disengagement with Israel," Khalid said.

"We will never accept to be an agent for the Israeli occupation," he added.

Khalid's statements are only the latest in the intransigent unilateralist mantra coming out of Ramallah and have led analysts to suggest that Fatah has decided to turn the PA enclaves in Judea and Samaria into a second Gaza.

Last week PLO officials officially adopted a strategy based on "continuous efforts along with the international community to secure full recognition and full United Nations membership, pursuing internal reconciliation, and keeping up the popular resistance."

They have also threatened to end economic and security ties with Israel.

Israeli officials have said the unilateral track adopted by their counterparts in Ramallah are a direct violation of the bilateral 1993 Oslo Accords - and warn unilateral moves on final status issues by PA officials will result in Israel making unilateral moves of its own.

It remains unclear what PA officials believe is to be gained by cutting all ties with Israel and returning to an all-or-nothing unilateral path.

PA security officials expressed concern earlier this year that a direct confrontation with Israel could have disasterous consequences, while Ramallah's senior economic advisers have warned discontinued Israeli participation in the PA economy would lead to fiscal insolvency.

A recent and short-lived decision to halt tax revenue transfers to the PA by Jerusalem sent Ramallah into a fiscal tail spin.

In addition, Israeli leaders have made it clear that attempts to realize territorial claims by force would result in Israel moving to secure its own communities in Judea and Samaria and could trigger Israel's annexing areas it prefers to retain in future negotiations.

Israel provides all critical infrastructure to Ramallah's enclaves, including electricity, water, telecommunications, and Internet.

Nonetheless, PA officials seem bent on confronting Israel while fomenting 'popular resistance.' While ostensibly non-violent, the so-called ‘popular resistance’ resulted in two violent Intifadas which and were accompanied by a spike in terror attacks that resulted in thousands of Israelis being killed.

Regional observers note Article 9 of the PLO charter continues to assert, "Armed struggle is the only way to liberate Palestine. This it is the overall strategy, not merely a tactical phase.”

It also maintains “Palestine” is defined by the British Mandate and is “indivisible” – thus leaving no room for Israel to exist at all.

With Israeli military leaders saying Israel can "not escape" a major operation in Hamas-run Gaza saying such a move is fast becoming "essential" – some observers say the PLO is making a dramatic strategic blunder.

(c) Israel National News

The Iran Decision: the pros and cons of the military option -1

From Homeland Security News Wire:

Analysis by Ben Frankel

Short of unforeseen developments, the real decision U.S., Israeli, and European leaders will face in 2012 is not whether to use military means or other means to stop Iran from acquiring nuclear weapons or the capability to produce them; the real decision, rather, will be between using military means to stop Iran’s confident march toward the bomb, and accepting the reality of a nuclear-armed Iran; those who support a military attack on Iran argue that the choice is thus between two very bad options: a nuclear armed Iran or a war to prevent it from going nuclear; each of these options has its costs, but the costs of allowing Iran to become a nuclear weapon state far outweigh the costs of using a military attack to prevent it from becoming one

The coming year will likely be the year during which a decision is made as to whether or not to use military action to prevent Iran from acquiring nuclear weapons.

To be more precise: Iran may well decide that it would serve its interests better to stop short of building a bomb, and instead be in a position where it is one screw turn away from the bomb. This is a stage at which it has sufficient amount of highly enriched uranium for several bombs, a credible warhead design and the machining capabilities to put it together, and the missiles to carry nuclear warheads to their targets. At that stage, Iran will be able to produce nuclear weapons within a few short months after making the decision to do so.

The decision for those who do not want to see a nuclear-armed Iran must thus include not only the determination of whether or not to prevent Iran from actually building a bomb, but also a determination regarding what bomb building-related capabilities Iran would not be allowed to acquire, and how close to building a bomb would Iran be allowed to get.

The coming year is likely to be the year of decision because of two reasons:...

Go read here.

IDF's 2011 Year in Review

on Dec 28, 2011

As the new year approaches, the IDF looks back on the major events of 2011 - a year full of hope and growth, but also overshadowed by terrorism and unrest. May all of our challenges help us grow into a better future, and may the coming year be a happy and peaceful one.

Thursday, December 29, 2011

Some AAA offer safe rides over New Year..

Some AAA Clubs Offer Safe Driving Alternatives During New Year’s Holiday Weekend

ORLANDO, Fla., (Dec. 28, 2011)

As millions of Americans prepare to ring in the New Year, AAA urges motorists to remember the safety precautions they should take during this festive season. Drive only while drug and alcohol-free, select a designated driver for the evening, plan to take a cab or stay with a friend.

While not a nationwide program, a number of AAA clubs offer Tow-to-Go or Tipsy Tow service during certain holidays for members and nonmembers. This service is not available everywhere. AAA strongly encourages family and friends to pick a designated driver before they head out on New Year’s Eve.

The following AAA Clubs currently offer Tipsy Tow programs:...

Go check it out here for more information - ahead of time.

Some Gave All: Captain Tom Jennings

Captain Tom Jennings killed in Afghanistan

29 Dec 11

It is with great sadness that the Ministry of Defence must confirm the death of Captain Tom Jennings, Royal Marines, who was killed in Afghanistan on 22 December 2011.

Capt Jennings died after the vehicle he was travelling in struck an explosive device whilst on an operation to the south of Kabul.

Squadron Leader Anthony Downing RAF, whose death was announced separately by the Ministry of Defence, had been travelling in the same vehicle.

Captain Tom Jennings, Royal Marines

Capt Jennings died after the vehicle he was travelling in struck an explosive device whilst on an operation to the south of Kabul.

Capt Jennings, aged 29, was a true leader, selfless in his professional approach serving those who were his responsibility. Dedicated and humble, he was an archetypal Royal Marine with a keen sense of humour even when faced with adversity. Whilst working with the Afghan forces that he partnered, he displayed empathy and a broad cultural understanding that ensured he was highly valued by the Afghans as well as his Royal Marine brothers.

He was devoted to his wife and their two young sons whose loss cannot be portrayed in words. The Royal Marines have lost a brother, they have lost their world.

Capt Jennings family have asked that their privacy is respected.

My heart and prayers are with all who know and love Captain Jennings.

Some Gave All: Sqn Ldr A Downing

Squadron Leader Anthony Downing dies of wounds sustained in Afghanistan

29 Dec 11

It is with great sadness that the Ministry of Defence must confirm the death of Squadron Leader Anthony Downing, who died on 23 December 2011 following an incident in Afghanistan.

Squadron Leader Anthony Downing
[Picture: via MOD]

He had been seriously wounded when the vehicle he was travelling in was caught in an explosion south of Kabul on Thursday 22 December. He was flown back to the UK where sadly, he died of his wounds at the Queen Elizabeth Hospital in Birmingham. His family were with him when he died.

Captain Tom Jennings, Royal Marines, whose death was announced separately by the Ministry of Defence, had been travelling in the same vehicle.

Squadron Leader Anthony Downing RAF

Known as Ant, 34-year-old Squadron Leader Downing was, by trade, an Engineering Officer in the Royal Air Force. He ran the last Nimrod Line Squadron before its disbandment.

His unassuming and modest demeanour belied a hugely professional officer and an extremely determined individual. His work in Afghanistan typified this as he had studied hard at the Defence School of Languages, Beaconsfield, coming top of his language course, and travelled to Tajikistan in his own time to further his studies. However, Ant was no book-worm and found the time to train for, and compete in, a series of Iron Man Triathlons and Ultra Marathons.

This physical and professional drive lent him a rare confidence, the sense of being comfortable in his own skin that made him an utterly charming individual with whom it was so easy to pass the time. This dynamic allowed him to interact effectively with the Afghans and his British colleagues alike.

Ant's generous nature and interest in Afghanistan and her people, led to his intimate involvement in the planning and subsequent conduct of outreach patrols. Tragically, on 22 December whilst on patrol he was mortally wounded when the vehicle he was travelling in was caught in an explosion. There is some solace for his comrades in knowing that Ant died among his friends doing a job he felt so passionate about.

Ant was professionally respected and hugely appreciated for his skills, and built a strong rapport with the Afghan soldiers and their British mentors; his loss is felt greatly among both. He leaves behind his parents, a brother, a girlfriend and a dedicated following of friends, with whom this great loss is shared.

Squadron Leader Downing's family have paid the following tribute:

"Anthony was still a child when he announced that he wished to join the RAF. From a young age it was evident that he was dedicated and self motivated to achieve the goals he would set himself. As a member of the Dover Grammar School Combined Cadet Force he was committed to getting the most out of the organisation and encouraged others to do so too.

"At the age of 17 he joined the Deal Striders and Velo Club Deal which started a lifelong love of endurance events that culminated in completing ultra marathons and double Ironmans. He also took to distance events in swimming and cycling and had planned to complete in 2013 the Arch to Arc event despite swimming being his weakest discipline, the event requiring a cross channel dip.

"His parents had an easy ride with his upbringing; he was always kind and helpful although quiet and reserved. His brother had someone to look up to as Ant eagerly embraced adulthood. He continued these traits into his working life, keen to listen, help and inspire others to travel and reach for high goals. We treasure the memories and the achievements of his fantastic life and without him our lives have been diminished."..

Go here to spend time getting to know this Fallen Hero.

Rest In Peace, Sir.

Iran Detains Sunday School Kids Celebrating Christmas

From The Christian Post:

By Anugrah Kumar | Christian Post Contributor
Dec. 26 2011

Iranian authorities raided a church that was celebrating Christmas and detained everyone in the building, including children attending Sunday school, a U.K.-based Christian charity said.

Officials in the southern town of Ahwaz raided an Assemblies of God-affiliated church last week and herded the entire congregation into two buses, according to the Christian Solidarity Worldwide.

While the majority of the members were “interrogated, threatened and eventually released,” the church’s senior pastor, identified only as Farhad, remained in detention, along with his wife and some church leaders, at press time....


Raids and detentions during the Christmas season are not uncommon in Iran, a Shi’a-majority country that is seen as one of the worst persecutors of religious minorities....

Much more here. Pay attention.

Video: Afghan Special Forces

on Dec 19, 2011

Afghanistan's own Special Forces unit have been demonstrating their skills on a camp just outside Kabul. Engaged in special training under US supervision, these soldiers have been conducting many successful operations on their own.

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

UPDATED: 9/11 Survivors deadline approaches

[*** Scroll down for clarification update]

From New York Post:

Zero hour for 9/11 victims

More than 1,600 people who filed lawsuits claiming their health was ruined by dust and smoke from the collapsed World Trade Center must decide by Jan. 2 whether to keep fighting in court, or drop the litigation and apply for benefits in a federal compensation fund.

For some, the choice is fraught with risk. Federal lawmakers set aside some $2.76 billion last winter for people who developed illnesses after spending time in the ash-choked zone.

But to be considered for a share of the aid, all potential applicants must dismiss any pending lawsuits by the deadline and give up their right to sue forever over 9/11 health problems. Anyone with a lawsuit still pending on Jan. 3 is barred from the program for life...

More important information here.

In my email, I got an update from a 9/11 group that clarifies the who and the what of this confusing situation:

January 2, 2012 deadline regarding the Victims Compensation Fund

There has been great confusion over the January 2, 2012 deadline regarding the Victims Compensation Fund. I want to use this email to help clarify some points and help you protect your rights.

First, the January 2, 2012 deadline only applies to those men and women who have CURRENTLY PENDING LITIGATION BEFORE A STATE OR FEDERAL COURT. For those who have currently pending litigation, it is imperative that you discuss this matter with your attorney and decide whether to continue your litigation or withdraw such court action so that you may enter the Victims Compensation Fund. If you do not withdraw the pending litigation prior to January 2, 2012 you will be barred from entering the Victims Compensation Fund. This appears to be a steadfast statute of limitations issue and there will be no exceptions. Please do not miss this deadline without giving this issue due and proper consideration.

Please note, that if you have previously settled all your court claims and are simply awaiting your final payments, this deadline does not apply to you. However, if you are uncertain whether you have currently pending litigation before any federal or state court, I urge you to contact your attorney immediately to ascertain this information. No one should miss this deadline due to lack of information!

For those that know they have currently pending litigation, and are uncertain whether their attorney has withdrawn the matter, I again urge you to contact your counsel immediately and advise them of your wishes. If you are unable to contact counsel timely, but wish to withdraw your claims, I urge you to write letters both to your attorney and Judge Hellerstein advising of your desire to have your claims withdrawn. I would suggest that you send these letters via certified, overnight mail or FedEx in order to properly track them and show proof that you attempted to withdraw your matters in a timely fashion.

In closing, for those that have currently pending litigation, please do not take this issue lightly. It is a very difficult choice that you face and I urge you all to listen to the advise of your attorneys. Neither I nor anyone other than counsel can properly inform you which avenue to choose, but I can advise you that inaction will make the choice for you. ..

All the First Responders who worked within the madness that was 9/11 need to be sure they have the FACTS to protect their rights to what they so selflessly EARNED on that day, and in the weeks and months following.

US Troops leave Iraq but War is NOT over

From The Grand Rapids Press:

Families of troops in Afghanistan want Americans to remember 'there is still a war going on'

Tuesday, December 27, 2011
Ted Roelofs | The Grand Rapids Press

As the last U.S. troops trickle home from Iraq, military families throughout West Michigan might like to send a reminder to America: There is still another war.

“I think a lot of people have forgotten about Afghanistan, that there is still a war going on,” said Ottawa County resident Jeff Miller.

“There are still people in harm’s way.”

Miller, 50, and his wife, Brenda, 52, have dual reasons for their interest in the war in Afghanistan.

Their daughter, Victoria, 20, is a Marine Corps lance corporal there. Their son, Kyle, 18, is in Marine Corps boot camp and could be headed to Afghanistan as well.

Miller is justifiably proud of their service...

The Global War On Terrorism is NOT over, no matter what Biden or Obama would like Americans to believe. We STILL have our Troops serving in harm's way.

Go read the rest of this here.

Biden and Obama's DC Adventure

A Perspectives column from War on Terror News that, as usual, cuts through all the bafflegab and noise which is the political scene in DC these days:

Oh, I'm sorry, he already thinks he's done more than George Washington!?!? Evidently, he thinks Truman did more than Thomas Jefferson, John Adams, and George Washington as well. The Founding Fathers, supposedly did less than the guy that came along 240 years later? Winning the Cold War was less influential than "ending" the War in Iraq?

The Washington Post would have us believe that he not some type of egomaniac that puts himself above the First President, but a dupe who fell for a gotcha moment. But Obama did in fact say that ONLY his first two years, when he had absolute power with an absolute majority in both houses were enough to outshine even Thomas Jefferson, who put an end to piracy in his time, on Foreign Policy, that he has more legislative achievements than George Washington who oversaw the implementation of the Bill of Rights in his own first two years.

Meanwhile, Biden sits in his back office and opines that though we went to war with the Taliban, that we tossed them out of power, though they regularly throw acid in the faces of girls learning to read, that they are not the enemy. And that's the guy who tried to comfort us by saying he would always be in the room when Obama was making important decisions?...

With all the shenanigans going on behind closed doors during this "most transparent government ever," even as Obama rushes to any microphone within the DC city limits at every opportunity, in his attempts to convince us all of how "presidential" he really is, observers such as War On Terror News cut through all the fog and poinys out the FACTS! Go here to read this one, which is a WOTN classic, in my opinion.

It is the DUTY of every Voter to be informed. Now, more than ever, it is critical for the future well-being of America that Voters seek out the truths.

Obama’s Christmas Gift to Iran

From Front Page Magazine:

Posted by

As the last American troops roll south to Kuwait, the end of the war in Iraq invites unsettling comparisons to another war America declared over before losing its nerve and snatching defeat from the jaws of victory. Then as now, Democrats have taken the lead in putting at risk the gains purchased with a trillion dollars, and nearly 4,500 dead and tens of thousands wounded American soldiers.

For all of the obvious differences between the conflicts in Vietnam and Iraq, the effects of an overhasty withdrawal on American prestige promise to be similar. The period following the fall of Saigon in 1975 was one of Soviet expansionist aggression in Latin America and Africa, even as Democratic president Jimmy Carter scolded Americans for their “inordinate fear of communism.” Carter embodied the spirit of national self-loathing and guilty retreat––the “crisis in confidence” as he called it ––seemingly validated by the failure in Vietnam. In his inaugural speech he confessed the nation’s “recent mistakes,” advised us “even our great nation has its recognized limits,” and warned that America can “simply do its best.” This public pusillanimity was also noticed by the clerics in Iran, who began their modern jihad with the overthrow of the Shah, America’s ally abandoned by an administration devoted to “human rights” and disarmament, and addled by specious anti-colonial rhetoric. The mullahs confirmed their contempt for us by sacking our embassy and holding 52 Americans hostage for 444 days.

The audacity and success of this assault inspired the other jihadist groups––many trained and funded by Iran––that began attacking more boldly American and Western interests across the globe. The geopolitical lesson of American weakness was also noticed by a Saudi named Osama bin Laden, who preached to his trainees the cultural bankruptcy of America that Vietnam illustrated and that made America vulnerable to Allah’s warriors. “The Americans did not get out of Vietnam,” bin Laden preached, “until after they suffered great losses. Over sixty thousand [sic] American soldiers were killed until there were demonstrations by the American people. [The Americans] won’t stop until we do jihad against them.” After 9/11, bin Laden demanded “the American people to take note of their government’s policy against Muslims. They described the government’s policy against Vietnam as wrong. They should now take the same stand they did previously.” America is a “weak horse,” as bin Laden famously said, noting American retreat from Vietnam, Iran, and Mogadishu, and our failure to retaliate for the other terrorist attacks that culminated in the carnage of 9/11...

This is an important article, with insights we all need to be aware of, as our last US Combat Troops have left Iraq. GO read the rest of it here.

Pay attention.

Iran blocks UK Foreign Office website

The Iranian government has blocked access to the British embassy website for people in Iran, William Hague says.

The UK foreign secretary called on Iran's censors to reverse the "counter-productive and ill-judged" move.

He said it showed Tehran was determined to hide the "international community's legitimate concerns about Iran's policies and behaviour" from Iranians.

Mr Hague said Britain would continue to "engage with the Iranian people, including through the internet".

In a statement, Mr Hague said: "Britain's website in Iran has now been added to the list of thousands of other internet sites deliberately censored by the Iranian authorities."

He said the move would make it harder for Iranians to access information about visiting Britain and that it was "further proof to the rest of the world the Iranian government's dire record on freedom of speech and human rights in general".

'Anti-British rhetoric'

The Foreign Office website recommends against all but essential travel to Iran and against any travel to some parts of the country.

It states: "There has been a dramatic increase in anti-British rhetoric from parliamentarians and demonstrators. The Iranian parliament and Guardian Council voted on November 27 and 28 respectively to expel the British Ambassador to Iran.

"During a demonstration on November 29 the British Embassy in Tehran was attacked, entered and set on fire. British nationals have been arbitrarily detained in Iran in 2010 and 2011."...

Much more on the BBC here.

From Canada The Best of 2011: Paratroopers conduct winter jump

Princess Patricia's 3rd Battalion makes first jump together since Task Force 3-09

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Global threats? What threats?

The world is a dangerous place, and it appears that Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper just woke up to this news. He recently announced a call for tenders to 'assess potential threats' to Canada's foreign embassies around the world.:
The Canadian Press

Posted: Dec 18, 2011

Haitians wait outside the Canadian Embassy in Port-au-Prince on Jan. 20, 2010. The Foreign Affairs Department plans to commission an intelligence study of potential threats to Canada's foreign embassies and missions. Haitians wait outside the Canadian Embassy in Port-au-Prince on Jan. 20, 2010. The Foreign Affairs Department plans to commission an intelligence study of potential threats to Canada's foreign embassies and missions. (MINUSTAH/Marco Dormino/Reuters)

The Foreign Affairs Department plans to spend up to $5 million next year for a sweeping intelligence study of potential threats to Canada's foreign embassies and missions.

The department is soliciting bids from seasoned security intelligence firms to tell them about the possible threats to its diplomatic corps from terrorism, instability and natural disasters in 174 countries, including 46 major cities...

More from the CBC here.

Really? Hello? I always thought that it was the ongoing mandate of DFAIT and our embassies to know about local and global malcontents and terrorists, and that was what taxes paid for. Apparently not, and yet, even if that is not the case, I find it hard to believe that somebody within the government hasn't been aware of the ongoing - very visible - attacks on embassies. I find it incomprehensible that the Canadian government hasn't connected the dots as the daily news has blared headlines from Libya, Egypt, Syria, Africa, Turkey, etc etc etc... The list is long of countries where terrorism - whose face IS Islam - stalks and murders innocent citizens. (Just one example from Christmas Day in Nigeria, or in Iran.)

Maybe the recent blatant attack on the British embassy in Tehran gave Harper a clue.

The Canadian contract may be worth up to $5 million, but some of us who HAVE been paying attention can tell any global leader, for free, about the who and the what of ongoing threats around the world.

War On Terror News is one who watches closely, and understands what PM Harper seemingly needs to pay big bucks to understand:


Much more here.

Yes, the Islamists are better organised and opportunitistic. As has been proven over the years, Islamists always exploit civil unrest to further their oft-stated goal of domination of local citizenry, either through the mass murder of nay-sayers, or at the ballot box - and often both in concert. Nobody needs a PoliSci degree to see the growing threat of Islam around the world.

By the time any embassy is under attack from terrorists masquerading as students, it is already far too late to be asking about global threats.

This is really no time to be asleep at the wheel. Mr Harper? Pay attention.

Welcome Home USS Oak Hill

U.S. Sailors with the amphibious dock landing ship USS Oak Hill (LSD 51) debark and greet family members upon arrival at Virginia Beach, Va., Dec. 21, 2011, after a three month deployment in the Caribbean. The Oak Hill supported Southern Partnership Station 2012, an annual deployment of U.S. Naval assets in the U.S. Southern Command area of responsibility. (DoD photo by Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Joshua Mann, U.S. Navy/Released)


Monday, December 26, 2011

Military Wives Number One!

Military Wives choir hits Christmas number one

26 December 2011

The Military Wives choir outsold X Factor girl group Little Mix by five to one, beating them to the coveted Christmas number one spot.

Their single, Wherever You Are, sold 556,000 copies in the last week, more than the rest of the top 12 combined, the Official Charts Company said.

Proceeds are being donated to the Royal British Legion and the Soldiers, Sailors, Airmen and Families Association (SSAFA), and the Government has said it will waive VAT on sales of the single.

Wherever You Are became the fastest-selling single since Alexandra Burke’s Hallelujah sold 576,000 in its first week in December 2008, and also scored the 7th biggest first week for any single since electronic records began in 1994.

Official Charts Company managing director Martin Talbot said this year’s race for number one was “one of the greatest of all time”. (More here)

on Nov 30, 2011 Amazon: iTunes:

The official video for Paul Mealor's Wherever You Are by Military Wives with Gareth Malone.

Help the Military Wives raise money for two wonderful charities who work tirelessly to support the armed forces and their families. Buy the single and make this Christmas No 1 to make a difference to these wonderful people both at home and abroad.

'Wherever You Are' is a moving love song written by Royal Wedding composer Paul Mealor for the choir to sing at The Royal British Legion's Festival of Remembrance. The music is set to a poem compiled from letters to and from the servicemen and their wives on a 6-month tour of duty in Afghanistan. It is the raw emotion of the song that has touched so many of the British public.

Order now:

Universal Official Store:
Official webpage:

Find out more about the wonderful charities we are supporting:
British Legion:

Video directed by Razor Edge:

"contains footage licensed courtesy of Twenty Twenty Productions Limited and ITN Source"

Sunday, December 25, 2011

A Soldier's Christmas Letter

As always - for ALL our Coalition Troops, and their families...with my gratitude and love.

Camouflage and Christmas Lights

With my gratitude to ALL coalition Troops - wherever you are on this day. You have my heart, as I celebrate with my family. In Freedom.

Uploaded by

"Camouflage and Christmas Lights" from Rodney Carrington's Make It Christmas CD. This video is for all those in the military that will be away from home this Christmas. Thank you for all you do!

(H/T Marilyn)

Merry Christmas from Bratville

GrandBabyBrat last year (we haven't got any pictures this year - yet - because he will NOT sit still.Go figure)

And of course, a much younger Bratdog, who was not happy with her reindeer role...;)

Saturday, December 24, 2011

Christmas cheer for deployed soldiers' kids

The kids also serve. From the MoD:

Sergeant Ryan Lewis and his children with Major General Norton CBE at the My Daddy is a Soldier Adventures Christmas Party [Picture: Harland Quarrington, Crown Copyright/MOD 2011]

23 Dec 11

Christmas arrived early this year for nearly 200 children who have parents serving overseas in the Armed Forces when they received gifts from Father Christmas at a party in the Victory Services Club in London.

The event was organised by fledging charity, My Daddy is a Soldier Adventures, whose founders Louise Fetigan and Linda Trickett are both military wives and mothers and have experienced their partners being away over the festive period.

The Christmas Party is the first event the charity has organised since it was formed in June 2011.

Major-General George Norton, General Officer Commanding London District and representing both the Chief of the Defence Staff and the Chief of the General Staff, attended the party to give his support to those who had loved ones on operations.

He said:

"Christmas is a particularly difficult time for Service families who have loved ones overseas, so we are hugely grateful to the Army wives who have set up this charity and made today's party for the children possible.

"It is wonderful to see military families caring for one another in this way, and to experience again the generosity and support of the general public towards the Service community.

"Public support is hugely appreciated throughout the year, but particularly so during the run-up to Christmas, when the children will be more conscious than ever of the separation from their fathers or mothers."...

Go read more here, and remember the children of our Troops.

Families Use Creativity to Connect With Deployed Loved Ones

Army Maj. Darren LoRe sends a message to his son, Sendoa, from Afghanistan, where he’s been deployed since May. He’ll connect with his family over the holidays using Skype and instant messaging. Courtesy photo

By Elaine Sanchez
American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON, Dec. 23, 2011 – Molly Blake will unveil a special guest on Christmas, someone who is an even bigger hero to her daughters than Santa Claus: their dad.

She’ll use technology to enable her deployed husband, Marine Corps Lt. Col. Peter Blake, to participate in the morning festivities.

“We’ll prop him up on the fireplace on the computer,” she explained.

From his fireplace perch, their dad’s computer persona, which they’ve dubbed “Digital Daddy,” will be able to watch as his daughters, Leah and Helen, open gifts.

The lieutenant colonel’s deployment to the Pacific marks his fifth in the couple’s 10-year marriage. His wife, like many military family members, is accustomed to relying on creativity, and a heavy dose of technology, to keep her family connected throughout the holidays.

“He’s been gone for more Christmases than he’s been home,” said Blake, whose family is stationed at Marine Corps Air Station Yuma, Ariz. Her husband is the commander of Marine Attack Squadron 311.

To help speed through this separation, Blake used aluminum foil to fashion a bucket in the shape of a chocolate kiss, which she calls a “kiss jar.” The girls counted out one candy kiss for each day of their dad’s six-month deployment and loaded them into the jar. They’ll eat a kiss each day until he comes home, she explained.

Blake also created a “Daddy Journal” for each of them with their picture on the cover. On a recent night when they went out for sushi, they brought the journals along and wrote about the experience. “When he gets home he can relive some of these things,” she said.

Overall, the girls are staying positive. They understand the importance of their dad’s mission, she said.

Blake said she, too, is focusing on the positive. Her husband left for his deployment shortly after Thanksgiving. But while he won’t be home for Christmas, she said she takes comfort knowing other Marines will.

“It takes the sting away when someone else will be able to be with their family,” she said...

Much more here.

Wounded Warrior Celebrates Life - A Christmas Miracle

Iowa Army National Guard Spc. Dustin Morrison, right, pictured here with longtime friend and hunting buddy Ethan Hess, has set his sights on establishing a nonprofit hunting organization for wounded warriors. Morrison continues his own recovery from life-threatening combat injuries he’d received in Afghanistan. Courtesy photo

by Donna Miles

American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON, Dec. 23, 2011 – This weekend, when Army Spc. Dustin Morrison gathers with his family to celebrate the holidays, he said he knows he’ll be experiencing a Christmas miracle.

The 21-year-old Iowa Army National Guard soldier discovered a new appreciation for what matters most in life after an improvised explosive device nearly took his life in Afghanistan.

Morrison, a member of the 168th Infantry Regiment, was severely wounded in April when his mine-resistant, ambush-protected vehicle struck the roadside bomb in eastern Afghanistan’s Paktia province. Army Spc. Brent Maher, the vehicle’s gunner, was killed, and two other members of the unit were injured in the attack.

Morrison’s prognosis was touch-and-go as the military medical system rallied, quickly moving him out of Afghanistan to progressively advanced levels of care.

When his mother, Kelli Pederson, arrived to see her wounded son at Landstuhl Regional Medical Center in Germany, the staff explained the facts.

“They told me how very close we came to losing him,” she said.

Morrison’s lungs were so severely damaged from the blast that the staff put him into a medically induced coma. He also suffered a burst lumbar vertebra, a shattered left femur and right ankle and right hand injuries. Doctors warned him that he might never walk again.

But Morrison has proved them wrong, defying all odds through a recovery that’s amazed even his health care providers.

After weeks of fighting for his life, he made the initial breakthrough while still in Germany as he began breathing independently.

He later underwent multiple surgeries during two months at the former Walter Reed Army Medical Center in Washington, D.C., and another three months at the Veterans Affairs Medical Center in Minneapolis.

Morrison got a temporary reprieve from his treatment so he could return to Iowa to welcome home his fellow soldiers as they redeployed in July.

A month later, he transferred to the Warrior Transition Unit at Fort Leonard Wood, Mo.

Morrison was able to return home to New Market, Iowa, for good in mid-October. He continues to receive physical therapy twice a week at a local hospital to improve his mobility, balance and range of motion....

A must read here.

Midnight Masses Cancelled in Iraq

Disturbing news of the ongoing dangers Christians face in the Middle East:

Midnight Masses canceled in Iraq because of growing security concerns

By Catholic News Service

LONDON (CNS) -- Chaldean Catholic officials have canceled traditional Christmas Eve midnight Masses because of security risks.

Chaldean Archbishop Louis Sako of Kirkuk in northern Iraq told the agency Aid to the Church in Need that Christians will spend Christmas in "great fear" because of the risk of new attacks.

All services and Masses have been scheduled for daylight hours, he said in an interview with Rome-based AsiaNews.

"Midnight Christmas Mass has been canceled in Baghdad, Mosul and Kirkuk as a consequence of the never-ending assassinations of Christians," he said, citing the Oct. 31, 2010, attack on the Syrian Catholic cathedral that left 57 people dead in the Iraqi capital....

More here.

Friday, December 23, 2011

President Ronald Reagan: The Candle's Beacon of a Foregone Era of Strength

"They have answered the stirrings of liberty with brute force..."

Those words were part of an address given by President Ronald Reagan on December 23, 1981, as a response to the brutal imposition of Martial Law in Poland.

On a cold and snowy Sunday morning on December 13, 1981 the Poles woke up to find their country under Martial Law (literally - The State of War or "stan wojenny"). The Martial Law was imposed by the Military Council for National Salvation lead by, then, prime minister Gen. Wojciech Jaruzelski and consisting of 20 other high ranking military officers.

The WRON declared Martial Law to "defend socialism". They felt threatened by the members of the first independent trade union behind the Iron Curtin - the Solidarity (Solidarnosc). The Solidarity had been founded only 18 months earlier, in August of 1980 after several weeks of strikes. The workers had gone on strike to protest poor living conditions and lack of independent representation. With the birth of the Solidarity hopes were high that the new trade union would help to pressure the government to introduce economical reforms and ease restrictions. The government quickly realized that the Solidarity was a threat to the system. Several road blocks were created to derail the Solidarity but the union seemed to grow stronger. The situation made the Soviets very worried and they, on he several occasions, pressured the Polish government and the Polish Communist Party (PZPR) to de-legalized the Solidarity. For the Polish government it soon became apparent that the union was too strong and far too popular to simply de-legalize it. A drastic action was need to oust the Solidarity, so martial law was imposed.

The Constitution stated that martial law could be imposed for defense or national security reasons. The Constitution allowed the State Council (Rada Panstwa) to impose a martial law while the parliament (Sejm) was not in session. Although the parliament was in session, the State Council headed by Henryk Jablonski unconstitutionally passed the law under pressure from the military. Only one member of the Council, Ryszard Reiff, voted against the resolution. The vote took place in the early morning hours of December 13 while Martial Law was under way: people arrested, restriction imposed. The State Council merely rubber stamped the decision of the military that took over the control in the country.

Thousands of Solidarity leadership and activists were arrested and imprisoned without court sentence. Among those arrested was Lech Walesa, the legendary Solidarity leader. The WRON, in an obvious public relations stunt, also arrested some prominent figures from the previous government....


In 1981, I was in university, and the birth of Solidarnosc was one of the few rare occasions when I became politically active. Sure, I had been aware of world events up until then, but the events in Poland jarred me from my sleep-deprived new motherhood and prompted me to join with thousands of others - on my own campus, and with other campuses and free citizens around the world - to protest the brutal regime stomping on the liberties of ordinary men and women in Poland. I was compelled to raise my voice, and get involved to speak out, to act, against opppression. And so I did.

I was reminded of this just yesterday when a friend (thanks, Maggie) shared a column she had found:

Christmas 1981: A Flame for Freedom in Poland

by Paul Kengor

December 2011 might not be an anniversary on the minds of American Catholics, but it is close and near and dear to the hearts of Polish Catholics. As American Catholics, we ought to pause here, today, to consider why. The reasons are historically and even spiritually inspiring.

It was 30 years ago, December 13, 1981, that martial law was imposed upon Poland by the communist government. Poles were aghast, horrified, frightened. And so was the man in Rome, a Polish native named John Paul II, and so was another man thousands of miles away in Washington, DC, President Ronald Reagan.

When word of the communists’ actions reached the White House, President Reagan was furious. He wanted to help the people of Poland in any way he could. At that very moment, Reagan committed to save and sustain the Polish Solidarity movement as the wedge that could splinter the entire Soviet bloc, as the first crack in the Iron Curtain.


On that date, Reagan held a private meeting in the White House with the Polish ambassador, Romuald Spasowski, and his wife, both of whom had just defected to the United States. Michael Deaver, a close Reagan aide, witnessed the meeting. Deaver later recorded:

The ambassador and his wife were ushered into the Oval Office, and the two men sat next to one another in plush-leather wingback chairs. Vice President Bush, and the ambassador’s wife, sat facing them on a couch.


Then, almost sheepishly, [the ambassador] said, “May I ask you a favor, Mr. President? Would you light a candle and put in the window tonight for the people of Poland?”

And right then, Ronald Reagan got up and went to the second floor, lighted a candle, and put it in the window of the dining room....

This really IS a must read column here.

As Americans may remember, President Reagan addressed the nation on December 23 (yes, this day in 1981) as he was also reaching out to the Pope John Paul II behind the scenes - you know, away from the media cameras.

Take a look, and listen (carefully)

on Oct 2, 2009

(December 23,1981)

In August 1980, a worker's strike began in Gdansk, Poland in reaction to the struggling economy and massive shortages. In a compromise, the Communist government legalized Solidarity, but this only increased tensions. Imports from the Soviet Union and the West failed to improve the economy, with more strikes becoming endemic throughout 1980 and 1981. Fearing a Soviet military invasion to restore order, President Ronald Reagan issued a stern warning to Moscow in the spring of 1981. On December 13, the Polish Communist Party, prodded by the Soviets, declared martial law and outlawed Solidarity. Reagan wished to quarantine the Soviets & Poland with no trade, or communications across their borders, he told the National Security Council, and tell our NATO allies & others to join us in such sanctions or risk an estrangement from us. In the following televised address, however, the president issued more modest sanctions on Poland.

I couldn't figure out how to access Part 2 for the end of the President's speech, but if you go here, you'll find a video (without embedding options) of the whole thing. GO watch. You'll also find the transcript of the speech. Link

This speech is amazing, as President Reagan first talks about Christmas and America:

We've lived here as your tenants for almost a year now, and what a year it's been. As a people we've been through quite a lot—moments of joy, of tragedy, and of real achievement—moments that I believe have brought us all closer together.

[...] we've begun the long, hard work of economic recovery. Our goal is an America in which every citizen who needs and wants a job can get a job. Our program for recovery has only been in place for 12 weeks now, but it is beginning to work. With your help and prayers, it will succeed. We're winning the battle against inflation, runaway government spending and taxation, and that victory will mean more economic growth, more jobs, and more opportunity for all Americans...

President Reagan then goes on to discuss the situation in Poland, and what he intends America's response to be:

As I speak to you tonight, the fate of a proud and ancient nation hangs in the balance. For a thousand years, Christmas has been celebrated in Poland, a land of deep religious faith, but this Christmas brings little joy to the courageous Polish people. They have been betrayed by their own government.

The men who rule them and their totalitarian allies fear the very freedom that the Polish people cherish. They have answered the stirrings of liberty with brute force, killings, mass arrests, and the setting up of concentration camps. Lech Walesa and other Solidarity leaders are imprisoned, their fate unknown. Factories, mines, universities, and homes have been assaulted...


As I speak to you tonight, the fate of a proud and ancient nation hangs in the balance. For a thousand years, Christmas has been celebrated in Poland, a land of deep religious faith, but this Christmas brings little joy to the courageous Polish people. They have been betrayed by their own government.

The men who rule them and their totalitarian allies fear the very freedom that the Polish people cherish. They have answered the stirrings of liberty with brute force, killings, mass arrests, and the setting up of concentration camps. Lech Walesa and other Solidarity leaders are imprisoned, their fate unknown. Factories, mines, universities, and homes have been assaulted...


These actions [sanctions] are not directed against the Polish people. They are a warning to the government of Poland that free men cannot and will not stand idly by in the face of brutal repression. To underscore this point, I've written a letter to General Jaruzelski, head of the Polish government. In it, I outlined the steps we're taking and warned of the serious consequences if the Polish government continues to use violence against its populace. I've urged him to free those in arbitrary detention, to lift martial law, and to restore the internationally recognized rights of the Polish people to free speech and association....

The rest of the transcript is here.

As I watched the video, and read the transcript of this great speech and declaration of America's power being brought to bear in the name of freedom around the world, of course my thoughts turned to today. The state of the world today, and the current resident (Mouth In Chief) in 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue highlighted for me - yet again - the sorry shape we are all in, as BHO tries to destroy America's standing in the world, and yes, the dire straits America is in at home.

For me, it is impossible to watch this speech without lamenting that those days when America stood up for the oppressed in the world, and was very open and clear what her views on tyranny were, apparently are but a mere shadow of the past. In those days, NObody doubted for one minute that America would stand 'for the innocent and the weak' no matter where in the world they happened to be born.

Don't believe that times have changed, and that America's response to governments' oppressing and killing their own citizens is now a mere shrug?

Remember this picture?

That's Iran, and images like that went around the world, as did the video of Neda, a protestor being killed on the streets of Iran, also went global. Remember THIS? I do, as I also remember the placards begging the world to help them, as they fought for democracy.

BHO's answer on behalf of America? Harsh words for the Iranian regime. Period. Today the violence and killing in Iran still continues, and Obama spouts disapproval - and does nothing. I am reminded as I watch America's response to Iran, of the day Ronald Reagan became President of the US. On that day, those held hostage in the American Embassy in Tehran were released. This after many months of that other great appeaser president, Jimmy Carter, talk talk talking in his futile attempts to reason with the Iranian terrorists holding Americans for ransom.

Iran is not the only stark example of the differences between the days of the Ronald Reagan presidency and the inept tool who holds that globally respected office today - well, at least it was respected back in those days. Today? Not so much.

Today, BHO and his minions go on camera and express 'outrage' in empty platitudes as daily news of governments killing their citizens assail us all, and the killings continue. Syria, anyone? Many countries on the African continent are also still killing their own citizens.

Now, as back in the Reagan era, and as Ronald Reagan said so eloquently in this speech:

The world is full of peril, as well as promise. Too many of its people, even now, live in the shadow of want and tyranny.

Obama makes pretty speeches, and does NOTHING, and the murderers around the planet continue their crusades of tyranny. When Ronald Reagan spoke for America, the thugs around the world KNEW that swift and measured - just - action would follow. And it DID.

'Pretty speeches...' Much has been made of the inspirational speeches BHO delivers. Yes, for some I suppose his oratory sounds good, but the tyrants of the world KNOW he is an empty suit, spouting empty words written by someone else. Yes, Ronald Reagan previously was an actor, used to delivering lines someone else may have written for him, but even in this speech, the listener hears the sincerity, knows he means those words.

Ronald Reagan knew and demonstrated that he knew that he spoke FOR America. In this speech, alone, he talks of being the 'tenant in the people's House.'

Compare and contrast.

Yes, I am sure the Obamabots will say I am being petty, and picking at straws, but this picture symbolises, for me, just one of the obvious, myriad, differences between the respect and dignity Ronald Reagan and BHO hold for the highest office in the land, and as Leader of the Free World.

Leader of the Free World? Used to be that the American President was revered and respected as such. Today, not so much. Used to be (as Tony Blair once famously said, and I paraphrase here,) that America and all she stood for was so envied around the world that escapees from despots struggled to arrive in the USA. Nowadays? Not so much, except of course, the illegals that are pouring across America's southern borders. And yes, note well that many of those illegals are terrorists of various stripes. Why not, since Obama is working almost overtime on ensuring that those very same illegals are given the sames rights and privileges that native American citizens are born into. You know, those GOD-given rights.

And there again, another difference between Reagan and BHO: Regean always had a humility about him as he performed his duties, as he acknowledged - often - his Christian faith. BHO? How many times have we all seen him kowtow to every muslim leader? I am no conspiracy theorist - no, really I'm not! - but why it is only recently that we see or hear Obama
make reference to our Christian God, as he bows and scrapes to the Muslim leaders? Hmmmmmm?

I won't even get into a discussion of the American economic state, and the obvious differences between the Reagan administration and BHO administration solutions to address the - again - almost parallel state of the nation of the two presidents. Listen to President Reagan's speech and compare and contrast.

All of these differences are well documented elsewhere, but for me the most stark contrast is in the foreign policy arena.

In this speech, Ronald Reagan says:

I want emphatically to state tonight that if the outrages in Poland do not cease, we cannot and will not conduct "business as usual" with the perpetrators and those who aid and abet them. Make no mistake, their crime will cost them dearly in their future dealings with America and free peoples everywhere. I do not make this statement lightly or without serious reflection...

He then goes on to itemise all the steps he has already ordered the US government to take in response to the crushing of liberty in Poland.

BHO's response to the madness marauding so many places today? Pretty words, and wagging of fingers. Sure, economic sanctions have been put in place, but even those or anything beyond those pretty words of Obama's are usually only after the global community has taken the lead.

Compare and contrast - again:

They are a warning to the government (of Poland) that free men cannot and will not stand idly by in the face of brutal repression.

America today is not seen as a force to be reckoned with (and yes, I'll leave the discussion of America's Military to those more qualified to speak on that topic, like the Veterans, such as War On Terror News etc.)

One of the last paragraphs in President Reagan's speech has this:

Once, earlier in this century, an evil influence threatened that the lights were going out all over the world. Let the light of millions of candles in American homes give notice that the light of freedom is not going to be extinguished. We are blessed with a freedom and abundance denied to so many. Let those candles remind us that these blessings bring with them a solid obligation, an obligation to the God who guides us, an obligation to the heritage of liberty and dignity handed down to us by our forefathers and an obligation to the children of the world, whose future will be shaped by the way we live our lives today.

As a foreigner who has come to know and love many wonderful Americans, and count them as my family, I often despair for the future of not only America, but for the children of our world. I do.

But I still - and will always - hang on to, and believe in the strength and moral courage of every day Americans, of whom Obama is but a dimly lit caricature. Despite BHO's best effforts, I really DO believe that America's standing in the world will revert back to those halcyon days when America did more than talk of the outrages daily wrought against innocent citizens globally; those days when America spoke, and terrorists and despots quaked in their boots, because they KNEW America meant what she said. I do hold firm to the knowledge that America's Candle (the) Beacon of a Foregone Era of Strength will shine as ever brightly around our world, as it did in other dark days in world history.

In the meantime, as President Reagan ends this speech:

“God bless us, every one.”