Archive for April, 2011


No Slack Honored

Eye on China, Navy boosts Eastern Command

Times Of India

NEW DELHI: With an eye on China as well as in keeping with India’s “Look East” policy, the Navy is slowly but surely bolstering force levels on the eastern coast with new warships, aircraft and spy drones as well as forward-operating bases (FOBs).

So much so that the Navy has now upgraded the post of the chief of staff (CoS) at the Eastern Naval Command (ENC), which is next only to the flag officer commanding-in-chief, to a three-star general rank. Vice-Admiral S Lanba will take over as the new CoS at ENC on May 1, 2011. The other full-fledged naval operational command, the Western Naval Command (WNC) based at Mumbai, has had a vice-admiral as the CoS for quite some time now.

Additions to the ENC, which has around 50 warships at present, include the new indigenously-manufactured stealth frigate INS Shivalik, which is packed with weapons and sensors, and the 16,900-tonne INS Jalashwa, the huge strategic sea-lift amphibious warship second only to aircraft carrier INS Viraat in size.

“The next two indigenous stealth frigates being built at Mazagon Docks, INS Satpura and INS Sahyadri, which should be commissioned by 2012, will also be based in ENC. Tuticorin and Paradeep are being developed as FOB and OTR (operational turn-around) bases,” said a source.

Then, the new fleet tanker, INS Shakti, which should come to India from Italy by September, and the P-8I Poseidon long-range maritime patrol aircraft will also be based in ENC. India is acquiring 12 P-8I aircraft, the first of which is slated for induction by early-2013, from the US for over $3 billion to plug the existing gaps in its surveillance of the entire Indian Ocean Region (IOR).

While these aircraft will be based in Rajali, Navy is also going to deploy spy drones or UAVs at the Parundu air station in Tamil Nadu. At present, Navy has two UAV squadrons based at Kochi and Porbandar, with Parundu and Port Blair next on the agenda. As part of Navy’s three-tier aerial surveillance grid for IOR, the drones are already being used for the innermost layer reconnaissance up to 200 nautical miles.

U.S. Provides Support for NATO’s Libya Operations

By Jim Garamone
American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON, April 11, 2011 – The United States continues to support NATO efforts in Libya, as Moammar Gadhafi’s forces continue attacks on Misrata and Ajdabiya.

Gadhafi has said he will accept a cease fire, but “the latest reports are that Gadhafi is continuing to carry out attacks,” said Pentagon spokesman Marine Col. Dave Lapan.

“Talk of a cease fire is just that: Talk,” Lapan added.

The African Union has proposed a ceasefire. “Since the start of the crisis, NATO has been in constant touch with the African Union as well as other regional and international organizations,” NATO Secretary General Anders Fogh Rasmussen said today in Brussels. “I want to be clear: There can be no solely military solution to the crisis in Libya. NATO welcomes all contributions to the broad international effort to stop the violence against the civilian population. Any ceasefire must be credible and verifiable.”

NATO aircraft are striking with care and precision while minimizing the danger to civilians, Rasmussen said.

“This is in stark contrast to the pro-Gadhafi forces,” he said, “who are besieging their own cities and shelling city centers.”

Since April 9, NATO aircraft have flown almost 300 sorties, the secretary general said, destroying 49 tanks, nine armored personnel carriers, three anti-aircraft guns and four large ammo bunkers.

Meanwhile, Gadhafi’s forces continue offensive operations against rebels in eastern Libya. The no-fly zone has blunted the effects of the regime force’s attacks, but has not ended them.

“We’ve talked all along about the nature of a no-fly zone and how that restricts the regime’s forces, but that doesn’t stop them,” Lapan said.

NATO officials said the Libyans are using schools and mosques as shields for their armored forces. The proximity to civilians means these targets are off-limits for NATO.

The DOD comptroller estimates the cost of U.S. operations in Libya to be $40 million per month. Total U.S. cost from the beginning of operations in mid-March through April 4 was $608 million, Lapan said.

American forces are not conducting strike missions in Libya. U.S. forces are supporting NATO with air-to-air refueling, reconnaissance and surveillance capabilities and unmanned aerial vehicle support. U.S. ships are also participating in the arms blockade off Libya in the Mediterranean.

Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates said before Congress on March 31 that he did not expect the department would need a supplemental request to fund the operation. The department is working on a funding strategy.

B-1B Lancer upgrade will triple payload

Air Force – By Airman Charles Rivezzo, 7th Bomb Wing Public Affairs

4/11/2011 – DYESS AIR FORCE BASE, Texas — Airmen from the 337th Test and Evaluation Squadron began their first phase of demonstrations of a multiple ejector rack on a B-1B Lancer here March 22.

If fielded, 16-carry modified rotary launchers will increase the number of 500-pound joint direct attack munitions and laser-guided JDAMs carried by the B-1B from 15 to 48, a 320 percent increase in capability.

“Currently a B-1 can deliver twice the payload of a B-52 (Stratofortress), meaning, theoretically, with the MER upgrade, one B-1 will be able to deliver the same amount of payload as four B-52s,” said Col. Gerald Goodfellow, the 7th Operations Group commander.

Also, the MER has a mixed-load capability, meaning each bomb bay can hold an assortment of joint air-to-surface stand-off missiles, and both 2,000-pound and 500-pound JDAMs, giving the aircrew much greater flexibility during combat missions.

“The war we are in requires target specific weaponry that is capable of destroying a single room of a building,” said Tech Sgt. David Koscienski, the 337th TES weapons suitability NCO in charge. “With the addition of the MER, B-1 operators have the ability to conduct numerous individual attacks and massive air-strikes as needed, without needing to stop to reload.”

Aircrews from the 337th TES and 419th Flight Test Squadron from Edwards Air Force Base, Calif., flew a Dyess AFB B-1B equipped with a MER and successfully released two inert 500-pound JDAMs over China Lake Missile Range, Calif, March 22. An additional mission was also successfully flown March 24 to test drop the weapons again.

“The B-1 is absolutely a choice war-fighting platform considering it can carry multiple weapons, each with specific capabilities, and deploy those weapons at a moment’s notice,” Sergeant Koscienski said. “The adaptation of the MER, along with the sniper pod and laser-guided JDAMS, will only increase that same lethal capability to an even greater level.”

The purpose of the 16-carry demonstration program is to validate the release and safe separation of 500-pound class weapons from a modified B-1B rotary launcher.

“This upgrade will not only save the Air Force money, but will also put less of our Airmen at risk; and that is our main priority,” Colonel Goodfellow said.

General Petraeus Honors Six Fallen During Tough Fight in Afghanistan

ABC News – By MIKE BOETTCHER and KRISTINA WONG

…The 101st Airborne Division is one of the most decorated divisions of the U.S. Army. Today, a stack of stars and hearts – medals in silver, bronze, and purple – were pinned on the chests of 20 soldiers by their commander, Gen. David Petraeus. Rarely, if ever, have so many medals been given to a single unit for a single battle in Iraq or Afghanistan.

The U.S. troops from the 2nd Battalion, 327th Infantry Regiment, Task Force No Slack, 1st Brigade Combat Team, 101st Airborne Division (Air Assault) came to a Taliban hideout in Kunar province — a hornets’ nest along the treacherous Afghanistan-Pakistan border — to take the battle to them.

So often in this region, the enemy remains far from sight. But not this time — not in this battle.

They were patrolling close to the border on March 29 when they were fired upon from three sides by Taliban fighters.

The firefight lasted hours, with the U.S. soldiers and Afghan forces digging into a muddy hillside.

Capt. Ed Bankston organized his troops by radio one moment. And fired at Taliban the next. Today, for his valor, Bankston was awarded the Silver Star – the nation’s third-highest decoration – pinned to his uniform by Gen. Petraeus, himself a former commander of the 101st.

Sgt. Matthew Mendez took a bullet to the chest in the battle and kept fighting. Saved only by his body armor, today Mendez was awarded the bronze star for his bravery.

Sgt. Jeremy Sizemore was shot too – while leading his platoon into the thick of the battle. Amazingly, the bullet – he told us – deflected off a plastic Tang bottle in his pocket. Today, Sizemore received the Bronze Star as well. His commanding general understood what moved these men to heroics. “It just kicks in and it’s their fierce determination not to let down their buddies,” Petraeus said.

With bagpipes playing “Amazing Grace” in the background, Petraeus honored six of their buddies who didn’t make it, and another six who were wounded, at a solemn memorial.

Afghanistan: 20 Medals for a Combat Team

Sgt. 1st Class Ofren Arrechaga, 28, of Hialeah, Fla; Staff Sgt. Frank E. Adamski III, 26, of Moosup, Conn.; Spc. Jameson L. Lindskog, 23, of Pleasanton, Calif.; Staff Sgt. Bryan A. Burgess, 29, Cleburne, Texas; Spc. Dustin J. Feldhaus, 20, Glendale, Ariz.; and Pvt. Jeremy P. Faulkner, 23, Griffin, Ga. all lost their lives that day.

For Pfc. Brian Smith, the youngest in this close-knit squad, the loss ran deep as he knelt – and wept – to remember the sergeant he looked up to.

Yet he, as every soldier from this mighty crew honored today, would gladly trade every medal in the world for the lives of their fallen comrades.

Taliban occupy abandoned US outpost in Kunar

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May God Bless Jared Monti

end

Combat roles offered to women

The Australian – By Mark Dodd

WOMEN will be allowed to serve in frontline combat roles after the Gillard government ordered the Australian Defence Force to bring forward the removal of bans that have stopped women from applying for the most dangerous and demanding military jobs.

The historic decision by Defence Minister Stephen Smith means women who meet the tough physical standards required of their male counterparts will now be able to serve in elite special forces units such as the SAS, work as naval clearance divers and join general infantry and armoured units.

The decision to fast-track women into combat roles coincided with the announcement of a raft of reviews and inquiries into the treatment of women in the defence force spurred by the Skype sex scandal.

About 93 per cent of all jobs in the military are currently open to women, including serving in submarines and piloting fighter jets, with the 7 per cent of jobs closed to women mostly in the army.

The changes mean Australia will soon join New Zealand, Canada and Israel, which have no restrictions on any defence jobs, including forward combat units.

Mr Smith and the head of the defence force, Air Chief Marshal Angus Houston, yesterday said that as long as women met the physical and academic requirements, any job was now open to them. However, meeting the rigorous entry standards for combat formations is likely to prove challenging. The Australian Defence Association lobby group remains sceptical about the use of women in combat, as does Keith Payne, the nation’s oldest surviving holder of the Victoria Cross for gallantry.

Mr Payne said that aside from the demanding physical requirements of combat infantry, a big concern for commanders would be responding to women wounded in action or captured.

“If you’re in a tight situation and one of the ladies goes down – and one of the blokes stops to pick her up – then that is the wrong thing to do,” he said. “You’re priority is to fight your way through to the bloody objective and then you come back and look after the casualties later.”

…No date was set for achieving the fast-tracked timetable. Air Chief Marshal Houston said it was imperative that women were able to apply for all ADF jobs. “What we’re looking at here is the last 7 per cent (of roles), which are all combat-related and mainly in the Australian army,” he said. “We are all 100 per cent unanimous that this has to happen if we are to be a truly women-friendly organisation. We should have all positions open to women.”

Mr Smith said any military opportunity for women “should be determined on the basis of physical and intellectual capacity, not on gender. So the Chief of the Defence Force will bring forward that matter as a matter of priority.”

Defence was already assessing the physical requirements of all military roles in a $2.5 million study as a precursor to removing gender bars on combat roles.’

…Entry selection to the SAS requires at least one year served in an army unit, typically the commando regiment or combat engineers. What follows is a combination of some of the most gruelling physical and mental tests designed to weed out all but the most dedicated.

Tests vary, but can involve carrying an 80kg pack on endurance marches lasting several days. A test this year required entrants to each carry two 20-litre jerry cans of water in addition to their combat rucksacks.

Psychological tests involved long question-and-answer sessions to test cultural sensitivities, being woken in the middle of the night to write essays or ordered to strip in the presence of women.

Shooting turns strangers into ‘family for life’

Air Force Times Staff report

Maria Soto and Amanda Schneider didn’t know each other a month ago. Today, they’re what Amanda Schneider calls “family for life” after all the pain they’ve suffered through together — the shooting of their loved ones, both airmen, at the airport in Frankfurt, Germany. Senior Airman Edgar Veguilla, the son of Soto, and Staff Sgt. Kris Schneider, the husband of Amanda Schneider, are recovering from injuries they suffered March 2 when a gunman boarded an Air Force bus from Ramstein Air Base, Germany, and opened fire.

Two airmen, Airman 1st Class Zachary R. Cuddeback and Senior Airman Nicholas J. Alden, died in the attack. Cuddeback was the bus driver, and Alden was one of 15 security forces airmen on their way from RAF Lakenheath, England, to Ramstein before they deployed to Afghanistan. The alleged shooter, apprehended by the German police shortly after the assault and now in jail awaiting trial, wounded Veguilla and Schneider so seriously that the doctor overseeing their treatment describes them as “the miracle of Frankfurt.”

‘God’s grace’

“They were really, really lucky,” Dr. Kai Zacharowski told Air Force News Service. “It’s a combination of God’s grace and God giving us the ability to treat patients who are so severely sick, injured and almost dead basically.” The airmen have been released from Frankfurt’s Johann Wolfgang Goethe University Hospital, but U.S. Air Forces in Europe is not disclosing their whereabouts.

Neither Veguilla’s mother nor Schneider’s wife knew just how badly their loved ones had been hurt, they told Air Force News Service in an exclusive interview. Air Force Times requested to speak with the women as well, but they declined. Soto learned the news from Maj. Joe Wildman, commander of the 82nd Security Forces Squadron, who traveled from Sheppard Air Force Base, Texas, to her home in Wichita Falls, Texas. A day and a half later, she was with her son.

“I didn’t know how critical he was, but knew he was hurt,” she said in the interview with Air Force News Service. Amanda Schneider had been patiently waiting in England for her husband to let her know he had landed safely in Germany when she read a story about the attack on the Internet. Within minutes, she received a visit from a security forces team.

“All I wanted, at that time, was to learn something about whether or not Kris was safe,” she said. It seemed like an eternity, but Amanda Schneider arrived at the hospital in less than 10 hours from the time she heard the news, according to Air Force News Service.

Until Soto arrived, Amanda Schneider stood watch over Veguilla as well as her husband. Once at the hospital, Soto and Amanda Schneider took turns standing guard. “We’ve had each other to lean on, get some emotions out and vent to one another,” Amanda Schneider said. “We’re family now. I think that’s helped everybody through this situation. [We] are ‘family for life’ because of this shared experience.”

The women praised the hospital staff members for their professionalism and support, they told Air Force News Service. “It’s just amazing,” said Soto, who works in a hospital. “There is a doctor here who lent me his phone because I hadn’t talked to my other children in a few days.” Added Amanda Schneider: “They’re unbelievable. They’re compassionate, have a great work ethic and are friendly. … They were supportive and went out of their way to make sure we were comfortable, and the boys were safe and had everything they needed.”

Soto helped the doctors and nurses care for her son, too, she told Air Force News Service. She gave him hand massages, love — and pep talks. “I don’t want him to give up,” Soto said, looking at her son and holding his hand. “I will keep encouraging him to make things better even when he wants to give up.” Veguilla’s response to the attention — “Typical mom” — made Soto laugh. “I know he likes it,” she said, “and is taking advantage of it.”

Amanda Schneider is convinced a healthy dose of humor is a big reason behind her husband’s speedy recovery. “He’s been joking and being sarcastic ever since he woke up,” she said. “He is still able to crack a joke or two, even with all the pain he is in. I couldn’t ask for anything better than that.” Even Zacharowski, the doctor, believes in the healing power of a positive attitude. Schneider and Veguilla, he told Air Force News Service, are proof.

“Both were smiling, and they both made it happen consciously,” he said. “That was a great sign for me.” The airmen’s first order of business out of the hospital is to simply have some “quiet time.” “Honestly,” Veguilla said, “I just want to sit down for a bit in a quiet room.” Then, the airmen contend, they’ll be ready to go back to work and be with their team again. Schneider wants his co-workers to know he’s doing fine and he’s grateful for their encouragement…

MLD Test Moves Navy a Step Closer to Lasers for Ship Self-Defense

By Geoff S. Fein, Office of Naval Research

ARLINGTON, Va. — Marking a milestone for the Navy, the Office of Naval Research and its industry partner on April 6 successfully tested a solid-state, high-energy laser (HEL) from a surface ship, which disabled a small target vessel.

The Navy and Northrop Grumman completed at-sea testing of the Maritime Laser Demonstrator (MLD), which validated the potential to provide advanced self-defense for surface ships and personnel by keeping small boat threats at a safe distance.

“The success of this high-energy laser test is a credit to the collaboration, cooperation and teaming of naval labs at Dahlgren, China Lake, Port Hueneme and Point Mugu, Calif.,” said Chief of Naval Research Rear Adm. Nevin Carr. “ONR coordinated each of their unique capabilities into one cohesive effort.”

The latest test occurred near San Nicholas Island, off the coast of Central California in the Pacific Ocean test range. The laser was mounted onto the deck of the Navy’s self-defense test ship, former USS Paul Foster (DD 964).

Carr also recognized the Office of the Secretary of Defense’s High Energy Joint Technology Office and the Army’s Joint High Powered Solid State Laser (JHPSSL) program for their work. MLD leverages the Army’s JHPSSL effort.

“This is the first time a HEL, at these power levels, has been put on a Navy ship, powered from that ship and used to defeat a target at-range in a maritime environment,” said Peter Morrison, program officer for ONR’s MLD.

In just slightly more than two-and-a-half years, the MLD has gone from contract award to demonstrating a Navy ship defensive capability, he said.

“We are learning a ton from this program—how to integrate and work with directed energy weapons,” Morrison said. “All test results are extremely valuable regardless of the outcome.”

Additionally, the Navy accomplished several other benchmarks, including integrating MLD with a ship’s radar and navigation system and firing an electric laser weapon from a moving platform at-sea in a humid environment. Other tests of solid state lasers for the Navy have been conducted from land-based positions.

Having access to a HEL weapon will one day provide warfighter with options when encountering a small-boat threat, Morrison said.

But while April’s MLD test proves the ability to use a scalable laser to thwart small vessels at range, the technology will not replace traditional weapon systems, Carr added.

“From a science and technology point of view, the marriage of directed energy and kinetic energy weapon systems opens up a new level of deterrence into scalable options for the commander. This test provides an important data point as we move toward putting directed energy on warships. There is still much work to do to make sure it’s done safely and efficiently,” the admiral said.


Newest F-22 upgrade set for later this year

Air Force Times – By Dave Majumdar

The F-22 Raptor is a work in progress. The Air Force is pushing hard to upgrade the planes to Increment 3.1, a hardware and software upgrade scheduled to be operational later this year.

Increment 3.1 will:

• Add synthetic aperture radar.

• Add the ability to drop Small Diameter Bombs.

• Add electronic attack capabilities.

The operational test force has been putting Increment 3.1 through its paces at Nellis Air Force Base, Nev., since November. But even once Increment 3.1 is installed, the F-22 still will only be able to designate two targets in total for its eight SDBs. And the upgrade will not resolve the Raptor’s basic inability to connect with other aircraft.

A future upgrade, Increment 3.2, was originally supposed to include the Multifunction Advanced Data-link developed for the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter, but the Air Force canceled funding for the F-22 data link last year. Canceling it was a huge mistake, said retired Air Force Lt. Gen. David Deptula, the service’s former intelligence chief.

“It’s doesn’t do a whole lot of good to build the world’s most advanced aircraft, and not then be able to share the data automatically with other aircraft in the constellation,” he said. “That’s penny-wise but pound-foolish.”

The B-2 is also supposed to receive the MADL upgrade, which would have enabled the entire Air Force stealth aircraft fleet to be connected during operations inside hostile airspace. Other capabilities planned in the Increment 3.2 include:

• The ability to independently retarget eight SDBs at eight separate targets.

• Support the AIM-9X air-to-air missile, which allows pilots to target enemy aircraft off axis to the aircraft’s direction of flight.

• Integrate the new longer-range AIM-120D missile that improves upon the current AIM-120C.

That upgrade is included in the Air Force’s 2012 budget, and would upgrade all 150 F-22s currently coded for combat use.

END ;)

William Cuthbert Faulkner (September 25, 1897 — July 6, 1962) was an American writer of novels, short stories, poetry and occasional screenplays.

William Cuthbert Faulkner was born in New Albany, Mississippi, the first of four sons to Murry Cuthbert Faulkner (August 17, 1870 – August 7, 1932) and Maud Butler (November 27, 1871 – October 19, 1960). He had three younger brothers: Murry Charles “Jack” Faulkner (June 26, 1899 – December 24, 1975), author John Faulkner (September 24, 1901 – March 28, 1963) and Dean Swift Faulkner (August 15, 1907 – November 10, 1935).

Faulkner was born and raised in, and heavily influenced by, his home state of Mississippi, as well as by the history and culture of the American South altogether. Only four days prior to his fifth birthday, the Faulkner family settled in Oxford, Mississippi on September 21, 1902, where he resided on and off for the remainder of his life.

Faulkner demonstrated an aptitude for painting in water colors and for writing verses in songs as a child, but grew increasingly disillusioned with any and all artistic pursuits in the sixth grade. He instead directed his attention to literature, and later stated that he modeled his early writing on the Romantic era in late 18th century and early 19th century in England.He attended the University of Mississippi (Ole Miss) in Oxford, and was a member of Sigma Alpha Epsilon social fraternity. He enrolled at Ole Miss in 1919, and attended three semesters before dropping out in November 1920.

The younger Faulkner was greatly influenced by the history of his family and the region in which he lived. Mississippi marked his sense of humor, his sense of the tragic position of Black and White Americans, his characterization of Southern characters, and his timeless themes, including fiercely intelligent people dwelling behind the façades of good old boys and simpletons. Unable to join the United States Army due to his height (he was 5′ 5½”), Faulkner enlisted in the British Royal Flying Corps, later training at RFC bases in Canada and Britain, yet never experienced wartime action during the First World War.

In 1918, upon enlisting in the RFC, Faulkner himself made the change to his surname. However, according to one story, a careless typesetter simply made an error. When the misprint appeared on the title page of his first book, Faulkner was asked whether he wanted a change. He supposedly replied, “Either way suits me.” Although Faulkner is heavily identified with Mississippi, he was residing in New Orleans, Louisiana in 1925 when he wrote his first novel, Soldiers’ Pay, after being directly influenced by Sherwood Anderson to attempt fiction writing. The miniature house at 624 Pirate’s Alley, just around the corner from St. Louis Cathedral in New Orleans is now the premises of Faulkner House Books, where it also serves as the headquarters of the Pirate’s Alley Faulkner Society.

Faulkner served as Writer-in-Residence at the University of Virginia at Charlottesville from February to June 1957. He suffered serious injuries in a horse-riding accident in 1959, and died from a myocardial infarction, aged 64, on July 6, 1962, at Wright’s Sanitorium in Byhalia, Mississippi. He is buried along with his family in St. Peter’s Cemetery in Oxford, along with a family friend with the mysterious initials E.T

The majority of his works are based in his native state of Mississippi. Faulkner is considered one of the most important writers of the Southern literature of the United States, along with Mark Twain, Robert Penn Warren, Flannery O’Connor, Truman Capote, Eudora Welty, Thomas Wolfe, Harper Lee and Tennessee Williams. Though his work was published as early as 1919, and largely during the 1920s and 1930s, Faulkner was relatively unknown until receiving the 1949 Nobel Prize in Literature. Some now consider Faulkner to be the greatest writer of all time.

Source:  Wiki

William Faulkner: Nobel Prize Speech

Stockholm, Sweden
December 10, 1950

I feel that this award was not made to me as a man, but to my work–a life’s work in the agony and sweat of the human spirit, not for glory and least of all for profit, but to create out of the materials of the human spirit something which did not exist before. So this award is only mine in trust. It will not be difficult to find a dedication for the money part of it commensurate with the purpose and significance of its origin. But I would like to do the same with the acclaim too, by using this moment as a pinnacle from which I might be listened to by the young men and women already dedicated to the same anguish and travail, among whom is already that one who will some day stand where I am standing.

Our tragedy today is a general and universal physical fear so long sustained by now that we can even bear it. There are no longer problems of the spirit. There is only one question: When will I be blown up? Because of this, the young man or woman writing today has forgotten the problems of the human heart in conflict with itself which alone can make good writing because only that is worth writing about, worth the agony and the sweat. He must learn them again.

He must teach himself that the basest of all things is to be afraid: and, teaching himself that, forget it forever, leaving no room in his workshop for anything but the old verities and truths of the heart, the universal truths lacking which any story is ephemeral and doomed–love and honor and pity and pride and compassion and sacrifice. Until he does so, he labors under a curse. He writes not of love but of lust, of defeats in which nobody loses anything of value, and victories without hope and worst of all, without pity or compassion. His griefs grieve on no universal bones, leaving no scars. He writes not of the heart but of the glands.

Until he learns these things, he will write as though he stood among and watched the end of man. I decline to accept the end of man. It is easy enough to say that man is immortal because he will endure: that when the last ding-dong of doom has clanged and faded from the last worthless rock hanging tideless in the last red and dying evening, that even then there will still be one more sound: that of his puny inexhaustible voice, still talking. I refuse to accept this.

I believe that man will not merely endure: he will prevail. He is immortal, not because he alone among creatures has an inexhaustible voice, but because he has a soul, a spirit capable of compassion and sacrifice and endurance. The poet’s, the writer’s, duty is to write about these things. It is his privilege to help man endure by lifting his heart, by reminding him of the courage and honor and hope and pride and compassion and pity and sacrifice which have been the glory of his past. The poet’s voice need not merely be the record of man, it can be one of the props, the pillars to help him endure and prevail.

Uncontacted tribes

Slim pickings: inside the museum of the world’s richest man

Mexico’s Carlos Slim opens stunning new complex to house art collection

EL PAÍS – By PABLO ORDAZ

It was two years ago that Mexican magnate Carlos Slim was named the world’s richest man by Forbes magazine. But it was long before then – since his marriage to Soumaya Domit in 1966 – that he began collecting art. “It was during our honeymoon around Europe,” he says. “My wife was always very sensitive to art. I fueled that passion by buying an important collection of Mexican colonial art. I later realized that there were no museums with international art in Mexico. [...] So I started to buy European art, which was as expensive as it is now.”

As his empire grew, so did his art collection. And now Slim has just opened the Soumaya Museum in Mexico City to house his 60,000-piece collection, the name a tribute to the memory of the woman who inspired it all.

The first thing you notice about the 563-million-euro complex are the sparkles of light it gives off. Engineer Slim gave his architect son-in-law Fernando Romero the job of creating a building that would disappoint no one. Held up by 28 steel columns of different diameters, it is built over six floors, but natural light only penetrates the last one. The rest is protected by 17,000 hexagonal panels that reflect the sun’s rays and evoke the “beehive and family work.”

The second thing you notice is the apparent disorder of the works on show. Picasso, Rodin, El Greco, Van Gogh, Monet, Cézanne, Leonardo da Vinci – to name but a few – share space with a coin and medal collection, a mural by Diego Rivera and an Alexander McQueen dress. But there’s a reason for the haphazard nature, says museum director Alfonso Miranda. “Slim’s collection is so extensive that we have the chance to establish analogies, bridges of communication between the history of art in Mexico and the history of art in the West. It’s interweaving the collection in a daring way, as it is the same building.”

It certainly met the approval of Mexican President Felipe Calderón. “[This museum] places Mexico at the vanguard in the world of culture,” he said at the opening ceremony, which was also attended by writer Gabriel García Márquez and US talk-show host and art collector Larry King.


How Evolution Explains Altruism

SUPERCOOPERATORS – Altruism, Evolution, and Why We Need Each Other to Succeed – Martin A. Nowak with Roger Highfield – 330 pp. Free Press. $27

New York Times Book Review – By OREN HARMAN

What do colon cancer, ant colonies, language and global warming have in common? This might sound like the front end of a joke, but in fact it’s a serious challenge to the standard view of evolution. Martin A. Nowak, the director of the Program for Evolutionary Dynamics at Harvard, has devoted a brilliant career to showing that Darwin, and particularly his followers, batted only two for three.

Random mutation and natural selection have indeed been powerful motors for change in the natural world — the struggle for existence pitting the fit against the fitter in a hullabaloo of rivalry. But most of the great innovations of life on earth, Nowak argues, from genes to cells to societies, have been due to a third motor, and “master architect,” of evolution: cooperation.

“SuperCooperators” (written with Roger Highfield, editor of New Scientist magazine) is an absorbing, accessible book about the power of mathematics. Unlike Darwin with his brine bottles and pigeon coops, Nowak aims to tackle the mysteries of nature with paper, pencil and computer…

At the heart of Nowak’s ideas is the haunting game of Prisoner’s Dilemma. The game involves two accomplices who are caught for a crime, interrogated separately and offered a deal. If one player incriminates the other, or “defects,” while the second remains silent, or “cooperates,” he will be given a sentence of one year, while the other player gets four.

If both remain silent, they will be sentenced to only two years, but if both defect, they will receive three years. The rational choice for either prisoner is to defect, getting three years — though had both cooperated, they’d have been out in two. In the absence of trust, reason can be self-destructive…

In “SuperCooperators,” Nowak argues that two of his mechanisms, indirect reciprocity and group selection, played an important role in human evolution. Think of a proto-simian trying to figure out whether to trust another in an exchange: Should I provide sex now for food and protection later? The proto-simian may have observed the behavior of its prospective partner, or it may not have; chances are good that others have, though. Reputation becomes important.

The proto-­simian evolves into a hominid, with a bigger brain allowing for more precise communication about reputation. Moral instincts evolve to produce shame, guilt, trust, empathy; social intelligence and conscience are born. Before you know it, Yogi Berra is summing it all up: “Always go to other people’s funerals, otherwise they won’t come to yours.” Language, cognition and morality, Nowak argues, are evolutionary spinoffs of the fundamental need of social creatures to cooperate…

Love Song (from “Vision in Spring”, 1921)

“Change and change: the world revolves to worlds,
To minute whorls
And particles of soil on careless thumbs.
Now I shall go alone,
I shall echo streets of stone, while evening comes
Treading space and beat, space and beat.
The last left seed of beauty in my heart
That I so carefully tended, leaf and bloom,
Falls in darkness.”

by William Faulkner

end ;)

“The deal that was reached tonight is a disappointment for me and for millions of Americans who expected $100 billion in cuts, who wanted to make sure their tax dollars stopped flowing to the nation’s largest abortion provider, and who wanted us to defund ObamaCare,” Bachmann said in a statement.”

Paul voted against the short-term resolution that will give negotiators time to hash out the larger deal. “As I have said before,” he said in a statement, “there is not much of a difference between a $1.5 trillion deficit and a $1.6 trillion deficit – both will lead us to a debt crisis that we may not recover from.” Source:  Politico

It is the duty of every Republican Congressman to vote no on this terrible deal. It violates our campaign promises to the American people. We promised $100 billion of cuts and we delivered $38 billion ($62 billion on a twelve month basis). In the Republican House’s first real test out of the box it has broken the promise over which it was elected. Only in Meat Loaf’s music is “two out of three not bad.” Dick Morris

Government shutdown averted

Politico – By: David Rogers

The bottom line to Friday night’s spending deal is a record $40 billion cut in domestic and foreign aid appropriations – and a hard lesson in the tough and almost permanent disorder of Washington’s budget politics.

This weekend, the grind goes on with House and Senate Appropriations Committee clerks now doing the hard work of making the pieces actually fit in the new top line, just under $1.050 trillion. And having played hard-to-get, House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) becomes the suitor, having to sell the deal to his young and restless Republican Conference before a floor vote next week.

Racing the clock in a long, dizzying long day of trading offers, Boehner and President Barack Obama only reached agreement hours before what would have been an unprecedented wartime shutdown of the government that threatened both men. Down to the end, Boehner was still pressing for a lower top line when Obama called him in the early evening. And the deal was only sealed in the midst of the speaker making his own presentation to fellow Republicans during a closed door party caucus.

Both men later cast the agreement as the best available, but the grueling, often distrustful process testified to how tough this legislative year will be and the immense pressure on Boehner from the right.

The administration largely succeeded in blocking the most controversial policy riders impacting the environment and abortion-rights. But the spending cut is one of the single largest in history, and a preview of what lies ahead when Republicans move their 2012 budget plan next week and fight with Obama over raising the debt ceiling in May and June.

“Like any worthwhile compromise, both sides had to make tough decisions and give ground on issues that were important to them,” Obama said. “And I certainly did that.”

“We didn’t do it at this late hour for drama,” said Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.), the third major player in the talks, “We did it because it has been hard to arrive at this point.”…]

President Obama’s Statement on the Bipartisan Agreement on the Budget

White House Blog – Posted by Macon Phillips

REMARKS BY THE PRESIDENT ON THE BUDGET

11:04 P.M. EDT

THE PRESIDENT:  Good evening.  Behind me, through the window, you can see the Washington Monument, visited each year by hundreds of thousands from around the world.  The people who travel here come to learn about our history and to be inspired by the example of our democracy — a place where citizens of different backgrounds and beliefs can still come together as one nation.

Tomorrow, I’m pleased to announce that the Washington Monument, as well as the entire federal government, will be open for business.  And that’s because today Americans of different beliefs came together again.

In the final hours before our government would have been forced to shut down, leaders in both parties reached an agreement that will allow our small businesses to get the loans they need, our families to get the mortgages they applied for, and hundreds of thousands of Americans to show up at work and take home their paychecks on time, including our brave men and women in uniform.

This agreement between Democrats and Republicans, on behalf of all Americans, is on a budget that invests in our future while making the largest annual spending cut in our history.  Like any worthwhile compromise, both sides had to make tough decisions and give ground on issues that were important to them.  And I certainly did that.

Some of the cuts we agreed to will be painful. Programs people rely on will be cut back.  Needed infrastructure projects will be delayed.  And I would not have made these cuts in better circumstances.

But beginning to live within our means is the only way to protect those investments that will help America compete for new jobs — investments in our kids’ education and student loans; in clean energy and life-saving medical research.  We protected the investments we need to win the future.

At the same time, we also made sure that at the end of the day, this was a debate about spending cuts, not social issues like women’s health and the protection of our air and water.  These are important issues that deserve discussion, just not during a debate about our budget.

I want to think Speaker Boehner and Senator Reid for their leadership and their dedication during this process.  A few months ago, I was able to sign a tax cut for American families because both parties worked through their differences and found common ground.  Now the same cooperation will make possible the biggest annual spending cut in history, and it’s my sincere hope that we can continue to come together as we face the many difficult challenges that lie ahead, from creating jobs and growing our economy to educating our children and reducing our deficit.  That’s what the American people expect us to do.  That’s why they sent us here.

A few days ago, I received a letter from a mother in Longmont, Colorado.  Over the year, her son’s eighth grade class saved up money and worked on projects so that next week they could take a class trip to Washington, D.C.  They even have an appointment to lay a wreath on the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier.

The mother wrote that for the last few days the kids in her son’s class had been worried and upset that they might have to cancel their trip because of a shutdown.  She asked those of us in Washington to get past our petty grievances and make things right.  And she said, “Remember, the future of this country is not for us.  It’s for our children.”

Today we acted on behalf of our children’s future.  And next week, when 50 eighth graders from Colorado arrive in our nation’s capital, I hope they get a chance to look up at the Washington Monument and feel the sense of pride and possibility that defines America — a land of many that has always found a way to move forward as one.

Thank you.

end – ;(

2011 Masters Tournament Features Surprise Last Minute Entrant

The American Catholic – By  LarryD

For golf aficionados (of which I am one), the “official” start of the golf season commences today, with the first round of the Masters tournament at Augusta.  One of four Majors (the British Open, the US Open and the PGA Championship being the other three), this herald of Spring features the world’s best golfers at one of America’s premiere golf courses.  Phil Mickelson seeks to defend his title against a field laden with incredible talent and fierce competitors.

Along with an unexpected last-minute contender.

Teeing off at 8:18 AM, with Ben Crenshaw, Brent Snedecker and Kevin Na is none other than…

…President Barack Obama.

In what is undoubtedly the surprise sports story of the decade, President Obama worked out a deal with Chairman Billy Payne to participate in this year’s tourney, despite the fact he is not a professional golfer.

At an impromptu press conference on Wednesday afternoon, Payne explained how the decision came about.

“On Monday, I received a call from the White House – it was the president.  He said he was a big fan of the game, and wanted to come down.  At first I thought he just wanted to attend and watch the tournament; but when he started asking if he could get an exemption and actually play…I figured, what the heck.  With Tiger playing so badly, I was worried about tv ratings.  Having President Obama play will attract a lot of viewers and spark even greater interest.”

With the president joining the field, additional security measures have been added, as well as a few modifications to the rules:

  • Obama gets two mulligans per nine holes
  • He’s permitted to tee off from the forward tees (formerly called the “ladies’ tees”)
  • He gets to use a specially constructed bullet proof golf cart
  • Any putt under a foot from the cup is in the “circle of friendship”, and will be considered a “gimme”.
  • Obama is permitted to carry a “foot wedge” in his bag.
  • Teleprompters will be allowed on the course for the first time in the tournament’s 77 year history.

“Purists might be upset with these concessions,” Payne said at his news conference, “but since he’s given the PGA a waiver on Obamacare, I felt it’s only fair we give him a waiver on some of the rules.”

White House Press Secretary Jay Carney was barraged with questions from the press late Wednesday over this development…

Field abuzz before start

Augusta Chronicle – By David Westin

There’s something in the air at the 75th Masters Tournament, and it’s not the pollen swirling around the pines.

It’s the feeling that something special is about to transpire over the next four days at Augusta National Golf Club.

Defending champion Phil Mickelson heads the largest field in 45 years (99 starters), including a group of Europeans who are desperate to end their Masters drought.

It would be appropriate for a European to win since this is the 50th anniversary of Gary Player’s breakthrough as the first international winner of the Masters.

Maybe one of the older stars, such as 51-year-old Fred Couples, will make a run at the record Jack Nicklaus set in 1986 as the oldest champion at age 46. Couples led after the first round of the 2010 Masters with 66 before finishing sixth.

The spectre of Augusta National and Masters co-founder and lifelong amateur Bobby Jones is even in the air. It was 40 years ago that Jones died. Perhaps one of the six amateurs in the field will make a run at the title.

“You can feel the buzz and excitement,” said U.S. Open champion Graeme McDowell. “There’s good buzz in the locker room and good buzz in the crowd.”

Three-time Masters champion Nick Faldo, who played in 23 Masters, has picked up on what McDowell is feeling.

“Augusta National has an amazing buzz now and it will continue,” Faldo said.

With the mixture of Masters stars like Mickelson and Tiger Woods (winners of six of the past 10 Masters) and Ernie Els, there is no telling who will be slipping on the green jacket Sunday night.

“I think the way the world of golf has gone over the last year or so, there are so many guys that have come through and really shown their form,” Els said.

Indeed, if this week’s winner is an international player it would mean all four major championship titles would be held by non-Americans.

“It’s open,” Hunter Mahan said of the tournament. “For a while there were three guys. Now 20 that have the talent and ability to win.”

“I wouldn’t be surprised if there are a dozen guys coming down the stretch on the back nine Sunday,” said Faldo, who will be calling the action along with Jim Nantz for CBS.

Faldo sat down and created a list of 40 possible winners this year, which is more than normal, he said.

Mahan, who is ranked 18th in the world, is included in that number.

“My game is very close to erupting and being good for four days,” said Mahan, who has finished in the top-10 the past two Masters. “I feel like my game is good enough, I’ve played well here in the past. This is one tournament I think where experience counts.”

It all starts at 7:40 this morning with honorary starters Nicklaus and Arnold Palmer

Woods practices quietly; fans fawn over Mickelson

Augusta Chronicle – By Billy Byler

…Mickelson’s first trip around Augusta National this week was a bit more adventurous.

The reigning Masters champion was the first on the course Wednesday when he teed off at 8 a.m. with 1992 Masters winner Fred Couples and Kevin Streelman.

The threesome hit their usual tee shots on the eighth hole but had to pause on their walk up the fairway when a small deer bounded across their path.

According to accounts from patrons and gallery guards, the deer entered the golf course from the right side of the first hole and raced across the first and ninth fairways before meeting up with Mickelson at eight.

The deer darted toward the second and third fairways and eventually ended up near the fifth and sixth holes, where it left the course.

“I’ve been out here 25 years, and I’ve never seen anything like that,” gallery guard Steve Churm said to a group of patrons.

Mickelson, who pushed his tee shot into the pine straw down the left side of the eighth fairway just before the deer encounter, tried to play his errant shot. A large group of patrons, however, still buzzing about the deer sighting, lingered dangerously close to Mickelson’s line of sight and had to be persuaded away with a little humor.

“Seriously, sir, it’s going to hurt if it hits you,” Mickelson said, drawing laughs from the patrons. “Me? I’ll just drop another (ball).”…]

Thursday tee times
Starting time (ET), players
7:40 a.m.: Arnold Palmer, Jack Nicklaus
7:45 a.m.: Jonathan Byrd, Ross Fisher, Sean O’Hair
7:56 a.m.: Sandy Lyle, Alexander Cejka, David Chung
8:07 a.m.: Jerry Kelly, Camilo Villegas, Jeff Overton
8:18 a.m.: Ben Crenshaw, Brandt Snederker, Kevin Na
8:29 a.m.: Mark O’Meara, Anders Hansen, Heath Slocum
8:40 a.m.: Dustin Johnson, Adam Scott, Nick Watney
8:51 a.m.: Vijay Singh, Tim Clark, Aaron Baddeley
9:02 a.m.: Gregory Havret, Carl Pettersson, Ryan Palmer
9:13 a.m.: Martin Laird, Mark Wilson, Bo Van Pelt
9:24 a.m.: Rory McIlroy, Rickie Fowler, Jason Day
9:35 a.m.: Mike Weir, Hiroyuki Fujita, Retief Goosen
9:57 a.m.: Padraig Harrington, Ryo Ishikawa, Bill Haas
10:08 a.m.: Larry Mize, Rory Sabbatini, Jin Jeong
10:19 a.m.: Martin Kaymer, Lee Westwood, Matt Kuchar
10:30 a.m.: Hunter Mahan, Ernie Els, Francesco Molinari
10:41 a.m.: Tiger Woods, Graeme McDowell, Robert Allenby
10:52 a.m.: Arjun Atwal, Sergio Garcia, Robert Karlsson
11:03 a.m.: Charl Schwartzel, Stuart Appleby, Charle Hoffman
11:14 a.m.: Ian Woosnam, D.A. Points, Ben Crane
11:25 a.m.: Craig Stadler, Kevin Streelman, Nathan Smith
11:36 a.m.: Peter Hanson, Kyung-Tae Kim, Ryan Moore
11:47 a.m.: Angel Cabrera, Ian Poulter, David Toms
12:09 p.m.: Trevor Immelman, Lucas Glover, Hideki Matsuyama
12:20 p.m.: Zach Johnson, Y.E. Yang, Miguel Angel Jimenez
12:31 p.m.: Jose Maria Olazabal, Davis Love III, Lion Kim
12:42 p.m.: Tom Watson, Ricky Barnes, Jason Bohn
12:53 p.m.: Fred Couples, Luke Donald, Steve Stricker
1:04 p.m.: Anthony Kim, Henrik Stenson, Steve Marino
1:15 p.m.: Bubba Watson, Paul Casey, Edoardo Molinari
1:26 p.m.: Stewart Cink, Jim Furyk, Yuta Ikeda
1:37 p.m.: Justin Rose, K.J. Choi, Louis Oostuhuizen
1:48 p.m.: Phil Mickelson, Geoff Ogilvy, Peter Uihlein
1:59 p.m.: Jhonattan Vegas, Gary Woodland, Alvaro Quiros

Ranking Masters field, top to bottom

ESPN – By Jason Sobel

According to oddsmakers, three-time Masters champion Phil Mickelson is the favorite at this week’s edition of the event, followed closely by four-time winner Tiger Woods.

Either of them could win it. Then again, so could anyone else.

If we’ve learned anything during the year’s first three-plus months, it’s to expect the unexpected — perhaps even more so than ever before…

Player Analysis Best finish
1. Paul Casey  What do each of the last two Masters champions have in common? They not only hit the ball a long way, but they both hit it extraordinarily high, which is a major advantage at Augusta. Same goes for Casey, who has been knocking on the door at big events for a while and appears finally ready to win one. This might provide his best opportunity of the four majors, too. In six career starts at Augusta, the 33-year-old Brit owns four results of 20th or better. He’s going to win this tournament someday — and that someday might very well be this Sunday. T-6, 2004
2. Phil Mickelson  Doesn’t it seem like just recently that Tiger Woods owned Augusta National and Mickelson was the guy still searching for his first career major title? Well, don’t look now, but with a victory this week, Lefty would tie Woods and Arnold Palmer with four Masters victories, good for second place behind Jack Nicklaus. Does Lefty’s recent win in Houston help or hurt? Well, remember: Even though he won last year after posting just one prior top-10 for the year, his previous win came one week after prevailing at the preceding BellSouth Classic in 2006. Win, 2004 & 2006 & 2010
3. Matt Kuchar  Can somebody please explain why Kuch isn’t mentioned more frequently in discussions of the game’s best players? If nothing else, he is among the most consistent, with 17 top-10 results in 34 starts dating to the beginning of last season. There’s already a comfort level for him at Augusta National, too. As a Georgia Tech sophomore in 1998, he finished T-21. After seven years of failing to reach the field, he returned last year with a T-24 result. T-21, 1998
4. Justin Rose  He’s finished 39th or better in all five career starts at this event, but the truth is, Rose’s record could be even better. He has often negated some very strong play at Augusta by posting a few big numbers. Expect the two-time PGA Tour winner to eliminate those major mistakes this time around while continuing to climb the leaderboard. One of the game’s better ball-strikers, his robust greens in regulation percentage should help those matters. T-5, 2007
5. Francesco Molinari  Known for his ball-striking prowess, Augusta National should be right up Molinari’s alley. In fact, he finished T-30 at this tournament in his debut performance a year ago. With another year of experience playing against elite fields in the world’s biggest events, he should be primed to start seriously contending in major championships. A victory at last year’s HSBC Champions tournament — in which he held off Lee Westwood and lapped the rest of the field — proved he can triumph on a big stage. T-30, 2010
6. Luke Donald  Often considered an underachiever thanks to just two wins in his first nine seasons as a PGA Tour member, Donald turned that around in a hurry by winning this year’s WGC-Accenture Match Play Championship and vaulting to No. 3 in the world. A short-game artist who can make par from anywhere, he excels in events where par is a good score, as evidenced by top-five results in three of the four majors, including a T-3 in his first Masters start six years ago. T-3, 2005
7. Bubba Watson  Big hitter, the Bubba. As we’ve found out, though, that’s not all he is. In fact, no top professional is more creative and alters his swing more often within the course of a round than Watson, who owns two victories in the past 10 months. For those who believe he’s too wild, fidgety, anxious or emotional to seriously contend at a major championship, kindly refer to the 2007 U.S. Open at Oakmont, where he finished T-5. And that was well before he developed into the player he is today. T-20, 2008
8. Nick Watney  Don’t let anyone fool you: Watney might be a solid pick for this week’s tournament, but he’s not a surprise pick. After all, according to some oddsmakers, following Woods and Mickelson, the Doral champion is the favorite in this field. That’s not without reason, of course. In his Masters debut three years ago, he finished T-11. In 2009, he was solo 19th and last year he finished solo seventh. Horses for courses and this horse has been a thoroughbred so far this season. 7, 2010
9. Tiger Woods  Is he the Tiger of old? No. Is he still struggling with both his swing and his short game? Yes. Ponder this question, though: Isn’t Woods in much better shape with his game at this point in the season than he was last year? As you’ll recall, he ended a self-imposed hiatus at this event in 2010, only to finish in a share of fourth place. While his game has looked shaky this season, Woods has often said there are only four times per year that he needs to be at his best. This is the first one of ‘em. Win, 1997 & 2001 & 2002 & 2005
10. Stuart Appleby  They can’t all be top-25 players on the leaderboard, so consider this one the first unexpected name this high on the list. That said, Augusta has always been a course that suited Appleby’s game. Though he failed to qualify for last year’s event due to a brief lack of productivity, he has made the cut in six straight, including as the 54-hole leader in 2007, when a final-round 75 dropped him into a share of seventh place. With three top-15 finishes in his last six starts, the Aussie might be ready to contend again.

end – ;)

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