28 December 2016

Russians again

From The New York Times, an article by Rebecca Ruiz about the doping scandal:

Russians no longer dispute Olympic doping operation
The officials ended their long denial, but insisted that the state had no role in the doping and that it was not responsible for the institutionalized cheating. Russia is for the first time conceding that its officials carried out one of the biggest conspiracies in sports history: a far-reaching doping operation that implicated scores of Russian athletes, tainting not just the 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi, but also the entire Olympic movement.
Over several days of interviews with The New York Times, Russian officials said they no longer disputed a damning set of facts that detailed a doping program with few, if any, historical precedents. “It was an institutional conspiracy,” Anna Antseliovich, the acting director general of Russia’s national anti-doping agency, said of years’ worth of cheating schemes, while emphasizing that the government’s top officials were not involved.
A lab director tampered with urine samples at the Olympics and provided cocktails of performance-enhancing drugs, corrupting some of the world’s most prestigious competitions. Members of the Federal Security Service, a successor to the KGB, broke into sample bottles holding urine, and a deputy sports minister ordered cover-ups of top athletes’ use of banned substances.
Russian sports officials had vehemently denied the doping operation’s existence, despite a detailed confession by the nation’s former anti-doping lab chief, Dr. Grigory Rodchenkov, in a New York Times article in May of 2016 that was subsequently confirmed by global anti-doping regulators.
Richard McLaren, an investigator appointed by the World Anti-Doping Agency, published more extensive evidence this month that prompted the International Olympic Committee to open disciplinary proceedings against dozens of additional Russian athletes.
Russia’s drastic shift in tone may be motivated by a desire to reconcile with the regulators, who have stipulated that the nation accept the findings of the recent investigation before the country is recertified to conduct drug testing and be a host of Olympic competitions again.
Anna Antseliovich, the acting director general of Russia’s national anti-doping agency, said the country’s doping operation “was an institutional conspiracy", while emphasizing that the government’s top officials were not involved.
The officials, however, continue to reject the accusation that the doping program was state-sponsored. They define the Russian state as President Vladimir V. Putin and his closest associates. Antseliovich, who has not been directly implicated in the investigations, said she was shocked by the revelations.
Vitaly Smirnov, 81, a top sports official whose career dates to the Soviet era and who was appointed this year by Putin to reform the nation’s anti-doping system, said he did not want “to speak for the people responsible”. Smirnov said he had not met most of the individuals implicated in a report by McLaren, emphasizing that they had been dismissed as a result, nor did he know where they were. “From my point of view, as a former minister of sport, president of Olympic committee, we made a lot of mistakes,” he said, echoing Putin’s broad denials of a state-sponsored system, and noting that he would defer to the global governing bodies of each sport to rule on the evidence.
McLaren said that he was pleased Russian officials were no longer disputing his findings, suggesting they may have been motivated to stop further investigations into the scope of cheating. “It’s damage control,” McLaren said. “There are a number of different labels you can put on the facts, and they take a different view of government, but it’s a bit of a vocabulary game.”
The 2014 Olympics in Sochi were a pet project for Putin, who was closely involved in politicking for and preparing for them. Proud references to the Sochi Games overwhelm the Russian Olympic Committee’s offices (photo, above) along the Moscow River, including a nesting doll standing roughly six feet tall in the building’s lobby signed by Russian Olympians.
Many of the athletes whose pictures decorate the Olympic committee’s offices have been implicated in this year’s doping scandal, with scores formally disciplined and more than six hundred others now accused. One photo shows Russians kissing medals and another shows Paralympians in wheelchairs holding victory bouquets above their heads.
“We have to find those reasons why young sportsmen are taking doping, why they agree to be doped,” Smirnov said, expressing eagerness to move forward rather than assign responsibility for previous violations. But even as he and other officials signaled their acceptance of the fundamental findings of McLaren’s investigation, they were largely un-conciliatory, suggesting that cheating to benefit Russia had served to offset what they perceived as preferential treatment for Western nations by global sports authorities.
“Have you seen the Fancy Bear records?” Smirnov said, invoking medical records hacked by a cyberespionage group believed to be associated with the GRU, the Russian military intelligence agency suspected of hacking computers at the Democratic National Committee. The medical records revealed that hundreds of Western athletes had been given special medical permission to take banned drugs for legitimate therapeutic reasons.
“Russia never had the opportunities that were given to other countries,” Smirnov said.
“The feeling in Russia is that we did not have a chance,” he added, acknowledging that anabolic steroids like those taken by Russian athletes have never been deemed medically excusable by regulators.
The supposedly tamper-proof bottles that held Russian athletes’ doping samples in Sochi were manipulated, enabling officials to switch out their steroid-laced urine. Smirnov and his advisers suggested that the same thing had happened at other Olympics.
“It’s lucky that the WADA had Rodchenkov,” said Victor Berezov, a lawyer for Russia’s Olympic Committee. “Maybe in China, London, and everywhere, maybe the same things could happen. Because the system is broken.”
Now, as Russia’s global track and field athletes remain barred from competition and its drug-testing operations decertified, Smirnov and a team of about two dozen people are focused on overhauling Russia’s anti-doping system to satisfy global authorities. The group, selected over the summer, includes Russian politicians, Olympians, business people, and even a celebrated pianist.
The commission has studied the antidoping systems of countries like France, Germany, and Britain, Smirnov said, conducting seminars for the national governing bodies of various sports and deliberating about how to change cultural mentalities.
Beyond reputational concerns, there are economic considerations also motivating the commission’s work. Mikhail Kusnirovich, the owner of Bosco, which outfits the Russian national team and the International Olympic Committee, is a member of Smirnov’s commission. “We created the idea that it’s cool to be Russian,” Kusnirovich said, speaking proudly about his company’s designs from his office on Red Square, overlooking the Kremlin and decorated with numerous commemorative Olympic torches, including one from this year, signed by the president of the IOC.
Hundreds of the uniforms for which his company had fitted Russian Olympians and Paralympians were not worn in Rio de Janeiro, site of the summer Olympic Games, because so many athletes were barred from competition. Russian government officials were also denied accreditation for the Games. The doping scandal, Kusnirovich said, had hurt his company’s bottom line, depressing sales of Russian national team merchandise.
Russia’s place as a frequent host of global sports competitions has also been affected. Numerous competitions that were to take place in various parts of the country in early 2017 have been relocated to other nations.
But, as officials communicated their sense of resigned acceptance, they also expressed disinterest in assigning specific accountability for systematic transgressions. “I don’t believe we have enough time in life to clarify everything, to understand who’s the winner and the loser, who’s right and who’s wrong,” Kusnirovich said, calling on the authorities not to penalize the nation at a future Olympics for what happened at previous Games. “Even during Stalin’s times there was a saying: ‘The son is not responsible for his father’s sins.’”
Rico says that, if you believe that, he's got a bridge in Moscow to sell you...

Dutch IVF centre probes suspected sperm mix-up

From the BBC, an article about a screwup in The Netherlands:

A Dutch IVF treatment centre has said that more than two dozen women may have been fertilized by sperm from the wrong man.
The Utrecht University Medical Centre said a "procedural error" between April of 2015 and November of 2016 was to blame.
Half of the couples who underwent treatment are pregnant or have already had children. They have been informed, the medical center said. "The UMC's board regrets that the couples involved had to receive this news," the center said in a statement. The statement said: "During fertilization, sperm cells from one treatment couple may have ended up with the egg cells of 26 other couples. "Therefore there's a chance that the egg cells have been fertilized by sperm other than that of the intended father." Although the chance of that happening was small, the possibility "could not be excluded," the center added. 
What went wrong?The UMC carries out between six hundred and seven hundred ICSI procedures every year The technique at the center of the mistake involved a single sperm being injected directly into a woman's egg with a pipette (photo). It is called intra-cytoplasmic sperm injection (ICSI), and differs from in vitro fertilization.
From April of 2015 to November of 2016, one of the lab technicians is believed to have used an inappropriate pipette to inject the sperm.
Although the pipette was changed each time, the technician used the same rubber top until he found traces of sperm in it and raised the alarm. The rubber top would normally have a filter, but in this case it did not, a hospital spokesman told the BBC.
Of the couples involved, nine have had children and four women are pregnant. The other thirteen embryos were all frozen.
All the couples are due to meet doctors from the center in the coming days, and will be offered the option of a DNA test. Dutch fertility support group Freya reacted with shock to the news. "Wanting a child is a very delicate thing, especially when it doesn't involve the normal bedroom way. So people need to have one hundred percent confidence in the method they adopt," it said.
In 2012, a mother in Singapore sued a clinic after it mixed up her husband's sperm with that of a stranger. The woman, who was ethnically Chinese, suspected something was wrong when her baby had markedly different skin tone and hair color from her Caucasian husband.
Rico says that a bad oops...

The ten most deadly drugs

From Time, an article by Alice Park about deadly drugs:

Overdose deaths are up over twenty percent in four years. Here are the top causes:
From 2010 to 2014, the number of people dying from drug overdoses in the US increased by 23%, according to data from the National Vital Statistics System, which tracks cause of death from death certificates. The top ten drugs responsible fell into one of three main categories: opioids (which includes heroin, painkillers like oxycodone, hydrocodone, morphine, and fentanyl as well as methadone, which is used to treat heroin addiction); benzodiazapines (like alprazolam, which is used to treat anxiety, often under the brand name Xanax, as well as other drugs that treat depression, insomnia, and nausea, among other conditions); and stimulants like cocaine and methamphetamine. 
In order, for 2014, the top ten drugs involved in lethal overdoses were:
• Heroin
• Cocaine
• Oxycodone
• Alprazolam
• Fentanyl
• Morphine
• Methamphetamine
• Methadone
• Hydrocodone
• Diazepam
Rico says only the families of the dead are likely to care, but he still advocates dropping bags of pure heroin on urban street corners to remove the problem...

Sweden's unique defense against Russian submarines

From War History Online:


Rico says that the 'Whiskey on the rocks' incident is still funny...

The Farr Rifle

From Shooting Sports USA:


Rico says another long-forgotten gub...

Russian plane crash: flight recorder 'reveals faulty wing flaps to blame'

From the BBC:


Rico says the Russians might've been happier with a bomb...

China to launch first Mars probe by 2020


Rico says that ought to get more funding or NASA...

The Government lost money on every penny It made in 2016

From Money:


Rico says it's high time for it to go...

Obama administration is close to announcing measures to punish Russia for election interference

Rico says a little late...

‘Holocaust on ice’: Performance by Putin spokesman’s wife sparks outrage

Rico says the Met needs to do a Gulag ballet...

A Taiwanese teacher asked his students to vote on a parade theme. They chose Adolf Hitler.

From The Washington Post:

Rico says Santayana was right...

Obama administration is close to announcing measures to punish Russia for election interference

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Mark Seymour

27 December 2016

Neo-Nazis planning an armed march against Jews

From Slate, an article by Osita Nwanevu about some neo-idiots:

The founder of the neo-Nazi website the Daily Stormer has announced that the site’s campaign of harassment against Jews in alt-right leader Richard Spencer’s hometown of Whitefish, Montana, will continue with an armed march in January of 2017. Andrew Anglin claimed on Thursday that two hundred people are already expected to participate in the march “against Jews, Jewish businesses, and everyone who supports either”, which will take demonstrators carrying “high-powered rifles” through the center of the town.
“We will be busing in skinheads from the Bay Area,” he wrote. “I have already worked out most of the details with the leaders of the local groups. Several of our top supporters from Silicon Valley have offered to provide significant support for the march, but we may need to solicit donations to pay for gas/food for the skinheads.”
Anglin’s announcement of the armed march immediately followed a reminder to his readers to avoid “suggestions of violence” against Whitefish’s Jews. The site has been targeting the town’s Jewish population since a post on Dec. 16 listing the names, pictures, contact information, and addresses of Jews in Whitefish, including members of the anti-hate group Love Lives Here and real-estate agent Tanya Gersh, who allegedly called on Richard Spencer’s mother, Sherry Spencer, to sell a downtown mixed-use building and donate the proceeds or face protests. “This is the Jews for you, people,” Anglin wrote at the time. “They are a vicious, evil race of hate-filled psychopaths.” Anglin’s targets for harassment also included Gersh’s husband and young son.
On Tuesday, The New York Times reported that local police had “stepped up patrols” and were working with the FBI in response to Anglin’s campaign. Despite Anglin’s warnings to his readers against “threats of violence or anything even close to that,” the Times reported that messages referencing violence were, in fact, received:
Rachel Carroll-Rivas, a co-director of the Montana Human Rights Network, said in a telephone interview they have received threatening messages by telephone, through website forms, and on social media accounts.
She quoted one message as saying: “All of you deserve a bullet through your skull. Choke on a shotgun and die. All of you would be of greater worth to society as human fertilizer than citizens.”
On Wednesday, Anglin issued the following further instructions to Stormer readers:
Buy or borrow a copy of Mein Kampf and host a story hour for your neighborhood kids. Share the story of what happened in Billings, Montana in the 1990s, when they rallied around a Jewish family to harass goyim.
Get a Nazi flag for your window (window cling or candle holder) to show solidarity with your Aryan brothers and sisters during the Hanukkah holiday (24 December to 1 January).
Print off a pdf of the Nazi swastika and post it in your car or home or business.
The event in Billings, Montana that Anglin refers to was a harassment campaign initiated by white supremacists in 1993 after that town’s residents responded to the throwing of a brick through the window of a Jewish boy by putting up menorahs. “Over two weeks in December,” The Associated PressTom Laceky wrote in 1994, “white supremacists broke windows at two Jewish homes and two churches that displayed menorahs, shot bullets through windows at Billings Central Catholic High School, and stomped and battered six vehicles at homes displaying menorahs, telling two owners in phone calls to ‘go look at your car, Jew-lover.’ ”
Anglin’s Thursday post announcing the armed march included a new list of contact information for Collaborators with Jew Racketeers, including local small businesses thought to support Love Lives Here, Gersh’s employers, and the clients of Gersh’s husband, who is an attorney.
Anglin followed the post on Friday with a list of demands for Gersh and Love Lives Here, including a call for Gersh to write “a public, written apology to Richard Spencer’s mother, an admission of wrongdoing, and a statement that she hopes Mrs. Spencer’s business will succeed.”
Anglin claims the march and harassment campaign will be called off if the demands are met. If not, the march will go on. “We’re shooting for the second week of January,” Anglin writes. “Just before the inauguration.”
Rico says he's known some Jews to be armed, and Anglin sounds like the very definition of a hate-filled psychopath.

Nominated for an Oscar, when it comes to the nuances of transracial adoption, Lion falls short.

From Slate:


Rico says it'll do until somebody makes a better film...

Obscure nomenclature

Rico says it's in all the car dealer ads now, but what is the difference between a 'used' and a 'pre-owned' vehicle?

Lucasfilm addresses Rogue One controversy

Gizmodo has an article by Germain Lussier about Rogue One:

It's been almost two weeks since the release of the latest Star Wars film, Rogue One, but much of the talk surrounding the movie is about characters from forty years ago. Now, in an interview with The New York Times, several of Rogue One’s most prominent contributors have given their accounts of the film’s controversial decisions.
Those decisions have to do with using digital effects to both bring back the late Peter Cushing (photo, above) as Grand Moff Tarkin and inserting Carrie Fisher’s young Princess Leia in the film, just as both of them appeared in 1977's A New Hope.
The first question is, why you need to see those characters at all. Kiri Hart, a producer on the film and head of Lucasfilm’s Story Group, explained that, in the case of Tarkin, he’s crucial to the story. “If he’s not in the movie, we’re going to have to explain why he’s not in the movie,” she said. “This is kind of his thing”—meaning, of course, the Death Star, which of course Tarkin ends up in charge of by the time A New Hope begins.
However, the filmmakers weren’t sure how the CG effect of Tarkin was going to look and, because of that, alternative solutions were planned. “We did talk about Tarkin participating in conversations via hologram, or transferring that dialogue to other characters,” said John Knoll, a producer on Rogue One who is also the CCO of Industrial Light and Magic.
To complete the effect, actor Guy Henry was on set, dressed as Tarkin, with full performance capture rigs on his head. “We’re transforming the actor’s appearance to look like another character, but just using digital technology,” Knoll explained. That data was sent to ILM, where they did their best to capture Cushing’s nuance. However, they quickly realized that was no simple task, especially after the realization that the lighting in A New Hope was different than Rogue One. Both things upped the challenge of recreating Cushing as Tarkin considerably, but the team eventually felt like they hit a strong balance. It’s “a super high-tech and labor-intensive version of doing make-up,” Knoll said.
As for Princess Leia, Hart believes she’s an essential part of the story, too. “To deliver on that moment of hopefulness, that is really underscored by the fact that you do get to see her face,” Hart said. “That’s the best possible use of effects, to enhance the meaning and the emotion of the experience for the viewer.” Like Tarkin, Leia was played by an actor on set (Ingvild Deila) and then digitally altered to look like a young Carrie Fisher.
Cushing’s estate approved the use of the actor’s likeness and, though it seemingly raises many questions about ethics, Knoll believes its a technique that can and should only be used sparingly. “It is extremely labor-intensive and expensive to do. I don’t imagine anybody engaging in this kind of thing in a casual manner,” Knoll said. “We’re not planning on doing this digital re-creation extensively from now on. It just made sense for this particular movie.”
You can read even more about this in the article by Dave Itzkoff in The New York Times (Warning: this article contains spoilers about Rogue One: A Star Wars Story:
Lucasfilm and Industrial Light & Magic said their re-creation of Cushing was done with the approval of the actor’s estate, but the technique has drawn criticism from viewers and writers. The Huffington Post called it “a giant breach of respect for the dead,” and The Guardian said it worked “remarkably well” but nonetheless described it as “a digital indignity.”
Knoll said he and his colleagues were aware of the “slippery slope argument”, that their simulated Cushing was opening the door to more and more movies using digital reproductions of dead actors.
“I don’t imagine that happening,” Knoll said. “This was done for very solid and defendable story reasons. This is a character that is very important to telling this kind of story.” He added: “It is extremely labor-intensive and expensive to do. I don’t imagine anybody engaging in this kind of thing in a casual manner.”
If Star Wars films are still being made in fifty or a hundred years, Knoll said audiences would probably not see likenesses of Mark Hamill or Harrison Ford playing Luke Skywalker or Han Solo. (He noted that Alden Ehrenreich had already been cast to play the young Han Solo in a coming film about that character.) “We’re not planning on doing this digital re-creation extensively from now on,” Knoll said. “It just made sense for this particular movie.”
The filmmakers also pointed to a scene at the end of Rogue One, when the intercepted Death Star plans are delivered to Princess Leia, who has ben digitally recreated to look like Carrie Fisher (photo, below) in the original Star Wars as an appropriate and effective use of the technology. (Fisher died on Tuesday.) 
In her first shot, when Leia is seen from behind (with her trademark hair buns), she is played by a flesh-and-blood actor, Ingvild Deila. Then, in the reverse angle, when Leia is seen from the front, her face, hair and costume are a digital re-creation of Fisher, based on footage from A New Hope. (The character’s extended hand is Deila’s.)
“To deliver on that moment of hopefulness, that is really underscored by the fact that you do get to see her face,” Hart said. “That’s the best possible use of effects, to enhance the meaning and the emotion of the experience for the viewer.”
The Rogue One filmmakers reviewed the dailies from Star Wars and turned up other 'Easter eggs' to add to their movie. They included unused footage of the X-Wing fighter pilots known as Red Leader (played by Drewe Henley) and Gold Leader (played by Angus MacInnes), who help wage the rebels’ attack on the Death Star.
(Some of that original film, Knoll said, was “somewhat underexposed”, requiring some digital repair work. The actors were then transferred by rotoscope from that footage and inserted into computer-generated cockpits for Rogue One.)
Knoll said he did not come across a “vast gold mine” of footage that Lucas did not use. “George was pretty economical in the way he shot the films,” Knoll said. “When he was happy with a performance, he’d go, ‘All right, I got it.’”
Rico says he looks forward to seeing it... (With Carrie Fisher dying, they'd've had to replicate her, anyway...)

She's just drawn that way

Rico says he had to turn to his friend Kelley for the answer:

re: Ashley Graham Isn't Bad, She's Just Drawn That Way
The line hails from the Disney movie Who Framed Roger Rabbit?, a live action with cartoon characters film. The movie studio section of Hollywood has a brick wall running down the center. On one side is real life, on the other is Toon Town, where the 'toons' live. Roger, a zany, highly popular character is suspected of murdering a studio head. He is married to Jessica Rabbit, a sultry nightclub singer in Toon Town. Jessica hires Eddie Valient (played by Bob Hoskins), a down-at-the-heels private detective, to prove Roger's innocence. Eddie hates 'toons' because his brother was killed by one that dropped a safe on his head. Eddie was hired to shadow Jessica and take compromising photos which led to the murder. She knows Eddie did it, and Eddie accuses her of cheating on Roger. That's when she delivers the line: "I love my husband, Mr. Valient. I'm not really bad, I'm just drawn this way."
With Jessica, Disney management mousetrapped themselves (you should pardon the expression) by creating a very popular character for a very popular film, but who was too blatantly sexual for Disney's squeaky-clean world. There are no Jessica Rabbits walking around at DisneyLand or Disney World. 
Rico says that Disney's locations could use a little Jessica Rabbit...

Iconic Star Wars Actress Carrie Fisher dies at sixty

Iconic Star Wars Actress Carrie Fisher Dies at 60

Carrie Fisher, the actress best known as Princess Leia Organa in Star Wars, has died after suffering a heart attack. She was 60.

Family spokesman Sim…


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Mark Seymour

Carrie Fisher, dead at sixty

From People:


Rico says having a heart attack on an overseas flight didn't help...

How a half-billion-dollar statue is dividing India

From The Washington Post:

Rico says it's typical politician idiocy...

Four Cabinet nominations that could blow up in Donald Trump’s face

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Mark Seymour

Lt. Gen. John Kelly, USMC, "The Last Six Seconds"

Rico's friend Dave, son of a Marine, forwards this:

Sent from my iPhone

Mark Seymour

Begin forwarded message:

From: "Dave Kitterman" <davek@cbcarriagehouse.com>
Date: December 27, 2016 at 8:49:10 AM EST
To: "Bill Perry" <wperry21@cfl.rr.com>, dfreeman@cbcarriagehouse.com, "Mark Seymour" <mseymour@proofmark.com>, "Dick Slay" <dslay8@gmail.com>
Subject: FW: Fwd: Lt. Gen. John Kelly, USMC, "The Last Six Seconds"

Lt. Gen. John Kelly, USMC, "The Last Six Seconds"

(Trump's pick for Homeland Security, USMC Gen. John Kelly)

On Nov 13, 2010, Lt General John Kelly, USMC, gave a speech to the Semper Fi Society of St. Louis, MO. This was four days after his son, Lt Robert Kelly, USMC, was killed by an IED while on his 3rd Combat tour. During his speech, General Kelly spoke about the dedication and valor of our young men and women who step forward each and every day to protect us.

During the speech, he never mentioned the loss of his own son. He closed the speech with the moving account of the last six seconds in the lives of two young Marines who died with rifles blazing to protect their brother Marines.
"The Last Six Seconds"

"I will leave you with a story about the kind of people they are, about the quality of the steel in their backs, about the kind of dedication they bring to our country while they serve in uniform and forever after as veterans. Two years ago when I was the Commander of all U.S. and Iraqi forces, in fact, the 22 ND of April 2008, two Marine infantry battalions, 1/9 "The Walking Dead," and 2/8 were switching out in Ramadi. One battalion in the closing days of their deployment going home very soon, the other just starting its seven-month combat tour. Two Marines, Corporal Jonathan Yale and Lance Corporal Jordan Haerter, 22 and 20 years old respectively, one from each battalion, were assuming the watch together at the entrance gate of an outpost that contained a makeshift barracks housing 50 Marines. The same broken down ramshackle building was also home to 100 Iraqi police, also my men and our allies in the fight against the terrorists in Ramadi, a city until recently the most dangerous city on earth and owned by Al Qaeda. Yale was a dirt poor mixed-race kid from Virginia with a wife and daughter, and a mother and sister who lived with him and whom he supported as well. He did this on a yearly salary of less than $23,000.

Haerter, on the other hand, was a middle class white kid from Long Island. They were from two completely different worlds. Had they not joined the Marines they would never have met each other, or understood that multiple America's exist simultaneously depending on one's race, education level, economic status, and where you might have been born. But they were Marines, combat Marines, forged in the same crucible of Marine training, and because of this bond they were brothers as close, or closer, than if they were born of the same woman.

The mission orders they received from the sergeant squad leader I am sure went something like, "Okay you two clowns, stand this post and let no unauthorized personnel or vehicles pass. You clear?"

I am also sure Yale and Haerter then rolled their eyes and said in unison something like, "Yes Sergeant," with just enough attitude that made the point without saying the words, "No kidding, we know what we're doing." They then relieved two other Marines on watch and took up their post at the entry control point of Joint Security Station Nasser, in the Sophia section of Ramadi, Al Anbar, Iraq.

A few minutes later a large blue truck turned down the alley way - perhaps 60-70 yards in length, and sped its way through the serpentine of concrete jersey walls. The truck stopped just short of where the two were posted and detonated, killing them both catastrophically. Twenty-four brick masonry houses were damaged or destroyed. A mosque 100 yards away collapsed. The truck's engine came to rest two hundred yards away knocking most of a house down before it stopped. Our explosive experts reckoned the blast was made of 2,000 pounds of explosives. Two died, and because these two young infantrymen didn't have it in their DNA to run from danger, they saved 150 of their Iraqi and American brothers-in-arms.

When I read the situation report about the incident a few hours after it happened I called the regimental commander for details as something about this struck me as different. Marines dying or being seriously wounded is commonplace in combat. We expect Marines regardless of rank or MOS to stand their ground and do their duty, and even die in the process, if that is what the mission takes. But this just seemed different. The regimental commander had just returned from the site and he agreed, but reported that there were no American witnesses to the event - just Iraqi police. I figured if there was any chance of finding out what actually happened and then to decorate the two Marines to acknowledge their bravery, I'd have to do it as a combat award that requires two eye-witnesses and we figured the bureaucrats back in Washington would never buy Iraqi statements. If it had any chance at all, it had to come under the signature of a general officer.

I traveled to Ramadi the next day and spoke individually to a half-dozen Iraqi police all of whom told the same story. The blue truck turned down into the alley and immediately sped up as it made its way through the serpentine. They all said, "We knew immediately what was going on as soon as the two Marines began firing." The Iraqi police then related that some of them also fired, and then to a man, ran for safety just prior to the explosion. All survived. Many were injured, some seriously. One of the Iraqis elaborated and with tears welling up said, "They'd run like any normal man would to save his life." "What he didn't know until then," he said, "And what he learned that very instant, was that Marines are not normal."
Choking past the emotion he said, "Sir, in the name of God, no sane man would have stood there and done what they did. No sane man. They saved us all."

What we didn't know at the time, and only learned a couple of days later after I wrote a summary and submitted both Yale and Haerter for posthumous Navy Crosses, was that one of our security cameras, damaged initially in the blast, recorded some of the suicide attack. It happened exactly as the Iraqis had described it. It took exactly six seconds from when the truck entered the alley until it detonated.

You can watch the last six seconds of their young lives. Putting myself in their heads I supposed it took about a second for the two Marines to separately come to the same conclusion about what was going on once the truck came into their view at the far end of the alley. Exactly no time to talk it over, or call the sergeant to ask what they should do. Only enough time to take half an instant and think about what the sergeant told them to do only a few minutes before, "Let no unauthorized personnel or vehicles pass." The two Marines had about five seconds left to live.

It took maybe another two seconds for them to present their weapons, take aim, and open up. By this time the truck was half-way through the barriers and gaining speed the whole time. Here, the recording shows a number of Iraqi police, some of whom had fired their AKs, now scattering like the normal and rational men they were - some running right past the Marines. They had three seconds left to live.

For about two seconds more, the recording shows the Marines' weapons firing non-stop the truck's windshield exploding into shards of glass as their rounds take it apart and tore in to the body of the ( I deleted) who is trying to get past them to kill their brothers - American and Iraqi-bedded down in the barracks totally unaware of the fact that their lives at that moment depended entirely on two Marines standing their ground.

If they had been aware, they would have known they were safe because two Marines stood between them and a crazed suicide bomber. The recording shows the truck careening to a stop immediately in front of the two Marines. In all of the instantaneous violence Yale and Haerter never hesitated. By all reports and by the recording, they never stepped back. They never even started to step aside. They never even shifted their weight. With their feet spread shoulder width apart, they leaned into the danger, firing as fast as they could work their weapons. They had only one second left to live.

The truck explodes. The camera goes blank. Two young men go to their God. Six seconds. Not enough time to think about their families, their country, their flag, or about their lives or their deaths, but more than enough time for two very brave young men to do their duty into eternity. That is the kind of people who are on watch all over the world tonight - for you.

We Marines believe that God gave America the greatest gift he could bestow to man while he lived on this earth - freedom. We also believe he gave us another gift nearly as precious - our soldiers, sailors, airmen, U S Customs and Border Patrol, Coast Guardsmen, and Marines - to safeguard that gift and guarantee no force on this earth can ever steal it away.

It has been my distinct honor to have been with you here today. Rest assured our America, this experiment in democracy started over two centuries ago, will forever remain the "land of the free and home of the brave" so long as we never run out of tough young Americans who are willing to look beyond their own self-interest and comfortable lives, and go into the darkest and most dangerous places on earth to hunt down, and kill, those who would do us harm.

God Bless America , and SEMPER FIDELIS !"


Remini taunting Scientology

Esquire has an article by Megan Friedman about Scientology:

Actress Leah Remini, best known for her role on The King of Queens, is now making a name for herself as one of the most vocal critics of the Church of Scientology. Formerly a member of the secretive organization, she has written a book and produced a television series, Leah Remini: Scientology and the Aftermath, about what it's like both inside and outside of the group. She and other ex-Scientologists have accused the church of defrauding its members, plus a number of other horrific abuses.
The Church of Scientology has created an entire website to respond to Remini's show; the website claims that Remini and the other ex-Scientologists she talks to, are lying to get money. But Remini is willing to defend herself in court, should the secretive organization want to take her on.
On his television show Larry King Now, Larry King read aloud Scientology's statement about her show. The program, the church says, is "a scripted, rehearsed, acted, and dramatized work of fiction" that is "featuring liars that who have, for a profit, been telling different versions of the same false tales of abuse for years, many reviewed and discredited in courts of law."
Remini had a succinct response: so sue me:
They should sue us. I mean, it's as simple as that. Listen, they say this on every outlet they can, they have said that about every single person who has spoken out, and not one lawsuit has been brought against anybody. This is not a group that is scared of a lawsuit. They're a litigious group, and so if that were true, they would simply sue us. And I welcome them to do that.
She elaborated to King that she's standing up to speak out against a church that she believes is doing major harm. "What I'm not gonna stand for is an organization with this kind of money to continue to do things like that, to bully people, to harass people, to defraud people out of their lives, their money, and more importantly, their families," she said. "I'm not going to sit around and watch it happen."
Rico says she'll be lucky if it's just a lawsuit; them people is crazy...

Model Elsa Hosk Wears a Red Leather Bikini for the Love Advent Calendar Video



Sent from my new iPad

"Alien: Covenant" brings enough chills to rival the original


Rico says the original scared the shit out of him...

Sex Robots may fuck us to death


Rico says he'll pass...

Robot device transmits kisses


It's a start...

Micah Tyler's "You've Gotta Love Millennials"

Check out this video on YouTube:


Rico says too true...

Hawai'i Ran An Incredible Fake Punt And Won Their First Bowl Game In Ten Years



Whatever works!


History for the day: 1941: Churchill addresses Congress

On 26 December 1941, Winston Churchill became the first British prime minister to address a joint meeting of the United States Congress.

The iPhone at ten: How the smartphone became so smart

From the BBC:


Rico says he's still awaiting his iPhone 7...

Tibetans in anguish as Chinese mines pollute their sacred grasslands

From The Washington Post:


Rico says we get cheap shit from China and the Tibetans, as ever, get screwed...

History for the day: 1946: Bugsy Siegel opens Flamingo Hotel

 1946: Bugsy Siegel opens Flamingo Hotel

This day in History
Bugsy Siegel opens Flamingo Hotel
On December 26, 1946, in Las Vegas, Nevada, mobster Benjamin "Bugsy" Siegel opens The Pink Flamingo Hotel & Casino at a total cost of $6 million. The 40-acre facility wasn't complete and Siegel was hoping to raise some revenue with the grand opening. Well-known singer and comedian Jimmy... read more »
American Revolution
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Civil War
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Churchill addresses Congress »
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The Exorcist opens »
King Lear performed at Court »
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Old West
Moses Austin asks Spanish for Texas colony »
Truman dies »
Jack Johnson wins heavyweight boxing title »
Vietnam War
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U.S. jets strike North Vietnam »
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U.S. government takes over control of nation's railroads »
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