Archive for May, 2010

Memorial Day is a United States federal holiday observed on the last Monday of May (May 31 in 2010). Formerly known as Decoration Day, it commemorates U.S. soldiers who died while in the military service. First enacted to honor Union soldiers of the American Civil War (it is celebrated near the day of reunification after the Civil War), it was expanded after World War I to honor dead Americans from all wars.

By 1865 the practice of decorating soldiers’ graves had become widespread in the North. General John Logan, National Commander of the Grand Army of the Republic–the society of Union Army veterans–called for all GAR posts to celebrate a “Decoration Day” on May 30, 1868. There were events in 183 cemeteries in 27 states in 1868, and 336 in 1869. The northern states quickly adopted the holiday; Michigan made “Decoration Day” an official state holiday in 1871 and by 1890 every northern state followed suit. The ceremonies were sponsored by the Women’s Relief Corps, with 100,000 members.

By 1870, the remains of nearly 300,000 Union dead had been buried in 73 national cemeteries, located mostly in the South, near the battlefields. The most famous are the Gettysburg National Cemetery in Pennsylvania and the Arlington National Cemetery, near Washington.

The Memorial Day speech became an occasion for veterans, politicians and ministers to commemorate the war–and at first to rehearse the atrocities of the enemy. They mixed religion and celebratory nationalism and provided a means for the people to make sense of their history in terms of sacrifice for a better nation, one closer to God. People of all religious beliefs joined together, and the point was often made that the Germans and Irish soldiers had become true Americans in the “baptism of blood” on the battlefield. By the end of the 1870s the rancor was gone and the speeches praised the brave soldiers both Blue and Gray. By the 1950s, the theme was American exceptionalism and duty to uphold freedom in the world.

Soldiers reflect on Memorial Day worth

Written by Spc. Shantelle Campbell, 4th Brigade Combat Team, 1st Infantry Division

TIKRIT – For many Americans, Memorial Day is just another government holiday – a day off from work or school – but for the families and friends of service members who died while serving their country, it’s the day their fallen are honored.

For Capt. Simon Welte, commander of Bravo Battery, 2nd Battalion, 32nd Field Artillery Regiment, 4th Infantry Brigade Combat Team, 1st Infantry Division, out of Fort Riley, Kan., Memorial Day evokes deep emotion and deserves to be recognized by all Americans for what it represents and who it honors.

“When you sit down and think about where we are and where we came from, a lot of that is due to the veterans who gave their lives to serve this country [and] didn’t get to enjoy those freedoms that they provided for other people,” said the Augusta, Ky., native, who is currently on his second deployment to Iraq. “It is a hugely significant [holiday]; and if you take the time to sit back and think about it, I think you’d be hard-pressed not to find some emotions tied to that [day].”

Welte recalled the time he returned home from his first deployment. He remembered how even with people thanking him on Memorial Day and Veterans’ Day for his service and sacrifice, he never really thought of himself as a veteran.

“It never really donned on me that at such a young age, at 24, that I was a veteran and had served my country,” he said. “It’s kind of humbling to think about. It [evokes] a lot of proud feelings and allows you to step back and put a lot of things into perspective.”

Cambridge, Maine, native Sgt. William J. Coyle, an infantryman with Headquarters and Headquarters Company, 4IBCT, is currently on his third deployment and his second deployment to Iraq. He said that Memorial Day is one of the most important holidays because it embodies the sacrifices made by the ones who fought for our country’s freedoms.

“It symbolizes the sacrifices of the people who have gone before me …,” he said.

A Tale of Two Americas On Memorial Day 2010

Fox News – By William Forstchen

So what the hell do these conservatives want out of Obama? And does it matter if Obama throws some leaves on a tomb?

–David Corn

Memorial Day. Those of us old enough to remember might recall a parent or grandparent who referred to it as “Decoration Day.” We might recall as well that “Memorial Day,” was not on the last Monday in May, serving as an endcap for a three day weekend of sales and vacations, but instead was observed on May 30, no matter what day of the week that was.

It started shortly after the Civil War when General Logan, who was part of the forces occupying the South, supposedly observed Southern women laying spring flowers on the graves of both Confederate and Union dead. Logan wrote of it, urged a national day of commemoration and thus “Decoration Day” became a tradition in nearly all states.

After World War One, the fallen of that conflict became part of the memorial services as well.

After World War Two, with hundreds of thousands of new graves to tend, the tradition evolved that “Decoration Day,” would be a day of national commemoration for those who gave “the last full measure of devotion,” and that “Armistice Day,” November 11, would become a day of honoring all veterans who served.

And thus it was until 1971 when Congress, creating three day weekends for government employees, including themselves, reordered Memorial Day to the last Monday of the month.

As a boy growing up in the 1950s I recall Memorial Day in my town as one of solemn dedication. With streets blocked off a procession would weave through the community, visiting the various cemeteries. I marched with the boy scouts, my father with his American Legion post, and at each cemetery prayers would be offered, wreaths laid, followed by a volley salute and taps, which even then made my throat constrict.

We were a single America, united in memory. Yes there was already the blaring of ads on a new thing called television, about Memorial Day sales, and the exodus to the beach by some, but as a shared culture, Memorial Day was a day of memory, recollection and prayer.

We are two Americas today. Presidents have “missed” visiting Arlington before this day but this time, the reasons why and what commentators have said in defense so clearly shows a national divide.

Earlier this week a notice from the White House announced that the first family would “vacation” this weekend in Chicago. The First Lady was quoted as saying that this time the children “decided” where they would spend their mini-vacation.

Vacation? So Memorial Day is a vacation weekend now, even for the first family? Of course,  it was quickly pointed out that the president would visit a military cemetery near Chicago. Of course.

But that is not Arlington. Arlington is the symbolic center of our national memory for those who died in service to our country. It is as well where the Tombs of the Unknown from most of our 20th century wars are located. The ritual of the Unknown Soldier, as symbolic of all the fallen emerged after World War One, when from the torn battlefields of Europe, America and other nations recovered the unidentified remains of one soldier, to thus symbolize the millions whose final resting places are “known but to God.” To honor the Unknown is the symbolic act of honoring all and thus it became a sacred ritual.

Arlington is “the vision place of souls,” and the Tombs of the Unknown, are the focal point of that memory. When a president lays a wreath before those tombs, it is a symbolic act of memory and mourning on behalf of all of us. The laying of a wreath in and of itself is also a tradition that harkens back to biblical times. For a president, it is one of the highest honors and obligations that comes with his office.

Is that too much to ask of our president? Is it too much to ask of a president to set such an example and rather than have a vacation defined by “the kids” that instead, as the first family together they lead the nation in a day of contemplation and prayer?

We are now so clearly two Americas and this conflict about how to observe Memorial Day symbolizes a cultural divide which started in the 1960s and now seems all but unfathomable. That divide was brutally and crudely stated this week by the “progressive” journalist David Corn, editor with “Nation” Magazine, when he wrote in defense of the first family’s decision to treat this weekend at a “vacation”:

So what the hell do these conservatives want out of Obama? And does it matter if Obama throws some leaves on a tomb?

David, I will tell you what we want. We want a president who holds sacred certain beliefs and traditions that are the very essence of what we see as being an “American.” In a world of such political correctness where we are constantly ordered not to offend, we are the people who on this sacred day are offended beyond any ability to express, offended by our president’s actions, offended by your soulless mocking words. . .”throws some leaves on a tomb. . .”

If that is indeed your belief, and the belief of those who are apologists for yet another insult by our president to sacred traditions, there is only one answer. We are a house divided against itself, we have become two Americas with all which that implies and such a divide, in the end, will be resolved one way or the other and come November, of this year and in 2012 we will remember.

Please Pray for Our Military and their Families

Related Links:

Society of the Honor Guard Tomb of the Unknown Soldier

HotAir:  The price of freedom

Federal Review: Obama’s Memorial Day: Honoring the Dead by Playing Basketball

Flopping Aces Memorial Day Weekend Post

The Strata-Sphere: President Obama Is Not Inspiring, Innovative Or A Leader

WaPo: Obama Memorial Day speech rained out

RCP: Obama Rained Out Of Memorial Day Ceremony In IL

TWC: Arlington VA Weather

American Thinker: ABC Bashes Bush on Memorial Day

UPDATED LINK: Barack Obama Ignores D-Day Anniversary – Goes to Theatre Party


Dark Hope…

Even Sopranos Get the Blues


FOR months now, the acclaimed soprano Renée Fleming, her recording company and her public relations agency have been working hard to make one thing clear: “Dark Hope,” her new Decca recording of indie rock songs, is not a crossover project.

Crossover! Heaven forbid! To many classical music critics and tradition-minded artists, the commercial crossover projects in the last two decades are sure signs, in the words of the esteemed British baritone Thomas Allen, that “well-organized hijackers” and “money-grabbing, P.R.-led” marketers are using “wet T-shirted” violinists to — horror or horrors — sell classical records.

Whew. No wonder Ms. Fleming is at pains to distinguish “Dark Hope” from crossover. But what is crossover exactly?

In her liner notes for the album, just released in Europe and due in the United States on June 8, she writes that the “genre referred to as ‘crossover’ usually has performers singing popular music in a classically trained style with amplification and traditional instrumentation.” Her goal, she explains, is “to bypass the middle ground and get to the other side of the divide entirely.” In an interview included with the promotional materials, she is blunter, asserting that “this album is not crossover,” that it occupies the “other extreme of the spectrum,” that making the recording was like visiting “a parallel universe.”

…Ms. Fleming has fared well with her own ventures into jazz, scatting away and shaping phrases with the subdued beauty of Betty Carter. Yet sounding every bit like herself. Not so in “Dark Hope.” Why did she undertake this radical transformation?

As she has explained in interviews, the project was not her idea. Metallica’s managers, Cliff Burnstein and Peter Mensch, had long wanted to pair a classically trained singer with rock songwriters. After listening to some of the songs, she was intrigued enough to speak with the producer David Kahne. “David is so thoughtful and articulate that I become even more fascinated by the prospect of exploring a completely different use of my voice,” she writes in her liner notes.

They settled on 11 songs, chosen for their suitability for her voice, the meaning of the lyrics and overall qualities of mystery and elusiveness that reminded her of classical works she loves — songs like “Intervention” by Arcade Fire, “With Twilight as My Guide” by the Mars Volta, and a few older pieces, like Peter Gabriel’s “In Your Eyes” and, in a bold move, the Jefferson Airplane ballad “Today.”

Adapting her voice to rock took hard work. She and Mr. Kahne realized that it was best for her to sing in the range of her speaking voice, which is sometimes two octaves lower. Any idea that she would discard technique and just jam was quashed by Mr. Kahne, who, Ms. Fleming writes, enforced “stringent stylistic rules,” including a softening of diction and rhythm, less overt drama and no dropping of the ends of the phrases…

Related Links:  Renée Fleming (Wiki)

Secrets uncovered at the Sistine Chapel

Catholic Online – By Greg Goodsell

Michelangelo hid anatomical sketches in art, experts say

LOS ANGELES, CA (Catholic Online) – According to Ian Suk and Rafael Tamargo, in their paper in the current issue of Neurosurgery, Michelangelo hid his sketches of the human brain, including the spinal column inside his depiction of God.

The theory was first posited by physician Frank Meshberger in 1990, who maintained that the artist’s rendering of the central panel on the ceiling, depicting God creating Adam was a perfect anatomical illustration of the human brain in cross section. Meshberger speculated that Michelangelo surrounded God with a shroud representing the human brain, suggesting God was endowing Adam with supreme human intelligence.

Michelangelo took four years to complete the ceiling of the Sistine Chapel. Proceeding from east to west, the artist started from the entrance of the Chapel to finish above the altar. The last panel he painted depicts God separating light from darkness. This is where the researchers say that Michelangelo hid the human brain stem, eyes and optic nerve of man inside the figure of God directly above the altar.

Suk and Tamargo say that in the panel, The Separation of Light from Darkness, leading up the center of God’s chest and forming his throat, the researchers have found a precise depiction of the human spinal cord and brain stem.

The researchers note that a roll of fabric extends up the center of God’s robe in a peculiar manner. The clothing is bunched up here as is seen nowhere else, and the fold clashes with what would be the natural drape of fabric over God’s torso. The scholars say it is the human spinal cord, ascending to the brain stem in God’s neck. At God’s waist, the robe twists again in a peculiar crumpled manner, revealing the optic nerves from two eyes, precisely as Leonardo Da Vinci had shown them in his illustration of 1487.

The theory receives credence by the fact that at the age of 17, Michelangelo began dissecting corpses from a church graveyard. To conceal this secret, the artist destroyed almost all of his anatomical sketches and notes.

Rush Limbaugh to marry galpal Kathryn Rogers next week in Palm Beach

The Palm Beach Post – Posted by Jose Lambiet

Palm Beach radio talker Rush Limbaugh swore off marriage after three ill-fated attempts at domestic bliss.

But that was before he met striking West Palm Beach resident Kathryn Rogers, a woman half his age and a direct descendant of founding father John Adams; Before she nursed him through a heart attack; And before she laid some balm on the Conservative firebrand’s bruised ego when the NFL rejected him as potential owner of the St. Louis Rams.

For once, El Rushbo is eating his words.

Limbaugh, 59,  is set to marry the 33-year-old Rogers next week in an intimate ceremony at his beachfront compound.

Limbaugh didn’t confirm any details but asked for privacy in an email to Page2Live.

“We try to live our lives as normal people,” Limbaugh wrote. “We do NOT seek media attention, we do not want it, especially for this. It is very special, obviously, and we just don’t want any media attention.”

Rogers, a VIP liaison on the last two super bowls in South Florida, has been sporting a blinding sparkler on her ring finger for more than a year now.

No word yet on the guest list, menu or dress code but stay tuned.

The couple sent out invitations to family and friends in February. If you haven’t received yours, don’t bother crashing. Security will be tight.

Limbaugh and Rogers first met in 2004 when she ran a golf tournament/fund-raiser for legendary golfer Gary Player’s charity. Limbaugh was a celebrity guest. At the time, Limbaugh was getting divorced from Marta Limbaugh, his third wife and one of his radio “ditto-heads.”

Rush and Marta finalized their split later that year. By the summer of 2007, the GOP’s favorite radio personality and Rogers, the daughter of one of Sen. John McCain’s classmates at the Naval Academy, were an item…

UPDATE:  People:  Rush Limbaugh Weds for 4th Time, and Elton John Sings

Stage invader disrupts Spanish Eurovision Song Contest entry

The Eurovision Song Contest was disrupted by early drama when a stage invader joined in a performance.

Telegraph – By Rebecca Lefort

A man wearing a black T-shirt and red stocking hat jumped on stage just seconds into the Spanish entry.

He knelt before singer Daniel Diges and appeared to try to join in with the song, Algo Pequeñito, waving his arms energetically before he was chased from the stage by security guards.

As a result of the commotion Diges, who was second on stage, was allowed to sing again at the end of the show.

James Dylan from bookmakers Ladbrokes said to website Betting Pro: “We thought it was part of the show but after the security guards chased him off stage we realised it had been the best stage invader since Jarvis.”

Jarvis Cocker, the former Pulp frontman, dropped his trousers during Michael Jackson’s performance at the Brit Awards in 1996.

Following tonight’s stage invasion the odds on a Spain victory were cut.

This year’s UK entry has been written by Pete Waterman, the producer responsible for launching Kylie Minogue’s singing career.

His song That Sounds Good to Me was performed by 19-year-old Josh Dubovie.

The contest was held in Oslo after Norway took home the crown last year.

IBM’s Traffic Lights Can Remotely Halt Your Car Engine

Inhabitat – By Ariel Schwartz

Thinking about zipping through that red light? Well, you won’t physically be able to if IBM has anything to say about it. The technology giant’s recent patent application for  “A System and Method for Controlling Vehicle Engine Running State at Busy Intersections for Increased Fuel Consumption Efficiency” prevents cars from running red lights by–get this–remotely stopping vehicle engines.

The patent describes a system that can receive position data from all vehicles waiting at traffic lights and send a “stop-engine” notification to cars waiting for more than a specified amount of time. The patent explains, “The method may comprise..responding to a proceed status indicated by the traffic signal, further comprising: sending a start-engine notification to a first vehicle in the queue; calculating an optimal time for an engine of a second vehicle in the queue to start when the first vehicle starts moving; and sending the start-engine notification to the second vehicle in the queue at the optimal time.”

This seems at first glance like a simple way to prevent traffic accidents, but we’re not thrilled about the idea of a traffic light having access to car engines. What happens if hackers get a hold of the system? And what if there are glitches? We’ll be watching to see if this patent application brings about any actual products.

Deepwater Oil Spill – The LMRP Attempt Continued

The Oil Drum – Posted by Gail the Actuary

BP and Admiral Landry just held a Press Conference in which they said that, based on a decision 90 minutes ago, by the “best and brightest minds” that it was time to move on the next option, the Lower Marine Riser Package (LMRP). BP was unable to block sufficient flow out of the well to make the injection of cement possible, and thus to kill the well. They had made, I believe he said, three attempts to inject material (the junk shots) without being able to get that material to block the passages through the Blow-Out Preventer (BOP). (Unfortunately I missed a large part of his opening remarks, and thus have only the question response to go on at present.) The volume of mud used did not appear to have changed from earlier reports at some 30,000 barrels.

Mr Suttles said that they had given the technique every chance, but could not get it to start to provide an effective seal. They had, however, determined that the majority of the pressure restrictions to the flow of oil was coming from some resistance within the well itself, and from the BOP. Since the riser above the BOP was not contributing much to the resistance, and thus to control of the oil flow, the next plan is to remove it, using a band saw device (of which pictures will be available) and then to lower the LMRP onto the existing BOP. They intend to cut the surface flat that the LMRP will sit on, so that it will give a good, but not perfect, seal. Thus there will be some leakage around the joint, and they will monitor that and use dispersant as appropriate.

The new change should take somewhere between 4 and 7 days to implement. The assembly, which has been constructed, is not the Top Hat assembly built earlier, to fit on the bottom of a riser. Flow of oil from the LMRP will rise up a 6 7/8 inch drill pipe within the riser (the same size as the one currently fitted to the RIT). The riser will also carry hot water down to the LMRP to protect against the formation of hydrates.

He noted that their inability to stop the well “scares everybody” but is reasonably confident (no success percentage estimates) that this will collect the majority of the oil and gas. Because they do not know the flow path of the oil below the seabed, it is difficult to estimate what is actually going on in terms of oil path below the BOP. Thus they are, again, trying something that has never been done before, but expect, based on the RIT, that it will work.

On being asked about the cleanup of the dispersed oil – he pointed out that the reason that the dispersant was used was to break the oil into small droplets. These are small enough to be consumed by the microbes in the sea, and thus there is no plan to do other than let nature take its course. For the oil on the surface, they are getting better at spotting oil pools and sending skimmers to deal with them.

The Admiral drew attention to the article on Hurricanes and the Oil Spill which is available at the Unified Command Web site.

The relief well is about half-way through the rock it must drill (about 6,000 ft below sea level) but progress will slow as the well deepens…

Related Link:  Live feeds from remotely operated vehicles (ROV)

Why men use prostitutes

The reasons why many men pay for sex are revealed in the interviews that make up a major new piece of research

Guardian – By Julie Bindel

Seven hundred men were interviewed for the project, which aimed to find out why men buy sex. Photograph: Christina Griffiths/Getty Images/Flickr RM

Only 6% of the men we spoke to had been arrested for soliciting ­prostitutes. “Deterrents would only work if ­enforced,” said one. “Any negative would make you reconsider. The law’s not enforced now, but if any negative thing happened as a consequence it would deter me.” Perhaps the new law will make Albert think twice about paying for sex. He told me, “If I’d get in trouble for doing it, I wouldn’t do it. In this country, the police are fine with men visiting prostitutes.”

Although some of the men said they thought the women they bought ­enjoyed the sex, many others admitted that they thought the women would be feeling “disgusted”, “miserable”, “dirty” and “scared”. Ahmed said he thought the woman might feel “relief that I’m not going to kill her”.

Many men seemed to want a real relationship with a woman and were disappointed when this didn’t develop: “It’s just a sex act, no emotion. Be prepared to accept this or don’t go at all. It’s not a wife or girlfriend.” ­Others were clear that they paid for sex in order to be able to totally control the encounter, including Bob, who said, “Look, men pay for women because he can have whatever and whoever he wants. Lots of men go to prostitutes so they can do things to them that real women would not put up with.”

‘I don’t get anything out of sex with prostitutes except for a bad feeling,” says Ben. An apparently average, thirtysomething, middle-class man, Ben had taken an extended lunchbreak from his job in advertising to talk about his experiences of buying sex. Shy and slightly nervous, he told me, “I am hoping that talking about it might help me work out why I do it.”

I, too, was hoping to understand his motives better. Ben was one of 700 men interviewed for a major international research project seeking to uncover the reality about men who buy sex. The project spanned six countries, and of the 103 customers we spoke to in London – where I was one of the researchers – most were surprisingly keen to discuss their experiences.

The men didn’t fall into obvious stereotypes. They were aged between 18 and 70 years old; they were white, black, Asian, eastern European; most were employed and many were ­educated beyond school level. In the main they were presentable, polite, with average-to-good social skills. Many were husbands and boyfriends; just over half were either married or in a relationship with a woman.

Research published in 2005 found that the numbers of men who pay for sex had doubled in a decade. The ­authors attributed this rise to “a greater acceptability of commercial sexual contact”, yet many of our ­interviewees told us that they felt ­intense guilt and shame about paying for sex. “I’m not satisfied in my mind” was how one described his feelings after paying for sex. Another told me that he felt “disappointed – what a waste of money”, “lonely still” and “guilty about my relationship with my wife”. In fact, many of the men were a mass of contradictions. Despite finding their experiences “unfulfilling, empty, terrible”, they continued to visit prostitutes…

Read the research project’s report here (pdf)


Mary of Modena (Maria Beatrice Eleonora Anna Margherita Isabella d’Este; 05 October [O.S. 25 September] 1658 – 7 May [O.S. 26 April] 1718) was Queen consort of England, Scotland and Ireland as the second wife of King James II. A staunch Catholic, Mary was married, in 1673, to James, Duke of York. He was the younger brother and heir of England’s incumbent king, Charles II, and would later succeed him as King James II. Uninterested in politics, she was devoted to James, and bore him two children who survived to adulthood: Louise Mary and the Jacobite claimant to the English, Scottish and Irish thrones, James Francis Edward Stuart, known to history as “The Old Pretender”.

Born a princess of the Italian Duchy of Modena, Mary is primarily remembered for the controversial birth of James Francis Edward, her only surviving son. The majority of the English public believed he was a changeling, brought into the birth-chamber in a warming-pan, in order to perpetuate King James II’s Catholic dynasty. Although this accusation was completely false, and the subsequent privy council investigation only re-affirmed this, James Francis Edward’s birth was a contributing factor to the Glorious Revolution, in which King James II was deposed by his daughter Mary and her husband William III of Orange.

Exiled to France, the “Queen over the water”—as Jacobites (followers of James II) dubbed Mary—lived with her husband and children in the Château de Saint-Germain-en-Laye, courtesy of Louis XIV of France. Mary was popular among Louis XIV’s courtiers; James was considered a bore, however. In widowhood, Mary spent a lot of time with the nuns at the Convent of Chaillot, where she and her daughter stayed in summer.

In 1701, when James II died, James Francis Edward became King in the eyes of Jacobites. As he was too young to assume the nominal reins of government, Queen Dowager Mary acted as regent until he reached the age of 16. When “James III” was expelled from France as part of the Treaty of Utrecht, Mary was left without any family in France, Princess Louise Mary having died of smallpox. Fondly remembered by her French contemporaries, Mary died of cancer in 1718.

Source:  Wiki

Italian experts found a new picture of Rafael in the archives of a museum

EL PAÍS – MIGUEL MORA – Roma (English Translation)

The little book lay abandoned with its sumptuous frame in a warehouse in the Galleria Estense in Modena for many years now, thanks to the intuition of the interim superintendent of the city, Mario Scalini, which assessed several elements “troppo Raphael as to make it a mere copy “technology has confirmed the find: the hand of the” divine “Raphael painted this sweet face, pink and vaguely sensual seems porcelain.

The face, painted on a board of 35 x 30 inches, according Scalini is a fragment of an early version of the Madonna della Perla, and Raphael was painted between 1518 and the year of his death, 1520.

The scholar has explained that the first sign that made her think that this very first plane was more than a duplicate was “fine” line drawing. “Although what put me on the right path was the framework, a magnificent piece of sixteenth-century museum would never have used if the painting had been of poor quality.”

The restorer Lisa Venerosi, coordinator of scientific analysis, he discovered that the painting was retouched several times between the XVII and XIX, which indicates that it was “highly valued” in the past…

Scalini has dubbed the table Sanzio as the Pearl of Modena after matching that in the inventory of the Palazzo Ducale Estense Quadreria (Art Gallery of the Este family), developed in 1663, contained a “portrait of a woman” attributed to Raphael never found and should be it.

The investigation has concluded that, on the death of Raphael, his pupil Giulio Romano retouched painting. “In fact,” concludes Scalini, “the table is a fragment that survived of the first version of the Pearl of the Prado, which many experts now attribute to Romano and Raphael.” Scalini ha dicho hoy a Il Corriere Della Sera that the 27th will feature the work of Modena and then the superintendent will travel to Madrid to ask on loan from the Prado Lady of the Pearl to present the two works together.

Considered the best painter of history, Rafael was described by Vasari as a modest, good, excellent and funny “not only in art but also in manners.” His epitaph in paired, because Pietro Bembo, was carved in Latin over Sanzio’s tomb in the Pantheon in Rome, and says, more or less, this: “Here lies that famous Raphael, which was afraid of being conquered nature as he lived, and when he died thought she would die with him. “

The little pill that could cure alcoholism

When an alcoholic doctor began experimenting with Baclofen, he made what could be the medical breakthrough of the century

Guardian – James Medd

The Hotel Lutetia is a beautiful belle époque building in Paris’s sixth arrondissement. It’s a place steeped in history: Josephine Baker was a resident, and it was here that General de Gaulle spent his wedding night. It was also here, on 26 January 2000, that Dr Olivier Ameisen, first official physician to the prime minister of France under Raymond Barre, noted cardiologist at Cornell University, talented pianist and friend of both Nobel Peace Prize-winner Elie Wiesel and record producer Arif Mardin, received the Légion d’Honneur for his “contribution to the image of France abroad and to cardiology”.

A proud moment in a life of excellence and achievement, you would imagine, but you’d be wrong. Sitting in the bar of the Lutetia 10 years later, Ameisen, now 57, recalls how he felt: “When Barre and all those guys were kissing my cheeks, I thought: ‘Where are their brains?’ I mean, when I was accepted at Cornell I looked at those guys and I thought that they were mediocre – that if those guys want me, they are idiots.”

The truth was that Ameisen, for all his successes in life, was consumed with self-loathing and shame. He was a hopeless alcoholic – hopeless in the sense that, though he seemed able to achieve anything else he put his mind to, he could not stop drinking. Despite running a thriving private practice in New York, in his late thirties he had become a binge drinker and by 1997 was regularly being admitted to hospital.

He tried any treatment available: tranquillisers including Valium and Xanax, antidepressants and specific alcohol medications including Antabuse and Acamprosate. He underwent acupuncture and hypnosis, took regular exercise and practised yoga. He attended cognitive behavioural therapy and up to three meetings of Alcoholics Anonymous a day. But his drinking only got worse: “The more I drank to ease my anxiety, stave off panic and counter draining insomnia, the more I had to drink for the same effect.” No longer trusting himself to treat his patients responsibly, he stopped working altogether. Finally his doctors told him he had “at best” five years of life left.

It’s a dramatic but not unusual story. According to the World Health Organisation, approximately two million people around the world die from the effects of alcohol each year, more than from any single form of cancer. In the UK, government figures estimate that one in 13 people is dependent on alcohol. For all the efforts of doctors, therapists, social workers and support groups, only a fraction of those addicted to alcohol manage to stop drinking and remain abstinent for a significant period.

It’s not extraordinary that, despite all his efforts and his obvious intelligence and commitment, Dr Ameisen failed to overcome his addiction. What is extraordinary is that he eventually discovered a drug he claims has cured him of alcoholism and that he claims can cure all addictions, including cocaine, heroin, smoking, bulimia and anorexia, compulsive shopping and gambling. Because that is, according to all other schools of thought, simply impossible…

Western troops join Russia’s Victory Day parade

Moscow, Russia (CNN) — Troops from the United States, Britain and France marched in the annual Victory Day parade through Red Square for the first time Sunday, a step Russia’s president called a nod toward their “common victory” in World War II.

The annual parade celebrates the defeat of Nazi Germany by the former Soviet Union and its Western allies and serves as a demonstration of Russian military might. More than 120 aircraft flew overhead and more than 10,500 troops paraded through the capital this year.

“The victory won in 1945 was our common victory, a victory of good over evil, of justice over lawlessness,” Russian President Dmitry Medvedev said at a reception honoring veterans after the parade.

Including military representatives from other countries in Sunday’s parade, Medvedev said, “is indicative of our solidarity, and of the understanding that universal humanistic values are becoming increasingly important for the development of the modern world.”

Chinese President Hu Jintao and German Chancellor Angela Merkel were among the parade’s invited guests.

Millions of Russians watched the parade on television and attended smaller parades in cities across the country, and more than half of Russians greeted the invitation to foreign troops with approval, according to a poll by the independent Levada Center in April.

But leaders of the Communist Party and right-wing organizations have criticized the change. And in a country that still regards the U.S.-led NATO alliance as its primary security threat, 20 percent of respondents to Levada’s poll said they disapproved of inviting international troops to march in the parade, and 8 percent were strongly against it.

The Soviet Union suffered the most losses of any country during World War II, with more than 7.5 million soldiers killed and 5 million wounded, along with millions of civilian deaths.

Most Russians say they believe the Red Army would have defeated Hitler without Western assistance, Levada’s research shows.

Transcript of President Barack Obama’s Commencement Address at Hampton University

THE PRESIDENT: Thank you. (Applause.) Thank you very much. Thank you. Thank you, Hampton. Thank you, Class of 2010. (Applause.) Please, everybody, please have a seat.


THE PRESIDENT: I love you back. (Applause.) That’s why I’m here. I love you guys.

Good morning, everybody.

AUDIENCE: Good morning.

THE PRESIDENT: To all the mothers in the house: As somebody who is surrounded by women in the White House — (laughter) — grew up surrounded by women, let me take a moment just to say thank you for all that you put up with each and every day. We are so grateful to you, and it is fitting to have such a beautiful day when we celebrate all our mothers. Thank you to Hampton for allowing me to share this special occasion — to all the dignitaries who are here, the trustees, the alumni, parents, grandparents, aunts, uncles, cousins — that’s a cousin over there. (Laughter).

Now, before we get started, I just want to say, I’m excited the Battle of the Real H.U. will be taking place in Washington this year. (Laughter.) You know I am not going to pick sides. (Laughter.) But my understanding is it’s been 13 years since the Pirates lost. (Applause.) As one Hampton alum on my staff put it, the last time Howard beat Hampton, The Fugees were still together. (Laughter.)

Well, let me also say a word about President Harvey, a man who bleeds Hampton blue. In a single generation, Hampton has transformed from a small black college into a world-class research institution. (Applause.) And that transformation has come through the efforts of many people, but it has come through President Harvey’s efforts, in particular, and I want to commend him for his outstanding leadership as well as his great friendship to me. (Applause.)

Most of all, I want to congratulate all of you, the Class of 2010. I gather that none of you walked across Ogden Circle. (Laughter.) You did? Okay.

You know, we meet here today, as graduating classes have met for generations, not far from where it all began, near that old oak tree off Emancipation Drive. I know my University 101. (Laughter and applause.) There, beneath its branches, by what was then a Union garrison, about 20 students gathered on September 17th, 1861. Taught by a free citizen, in defiance of Virginia law, the students were escaped slaves from nearby plantations, who had fled to the fort seeking asylum.

And after the war’s end, a retired Union general sought to enshrine that legacy of learning. So with a collection from church groups, Civil War veterans, and a choir that toured Europe, Hampton Normal and Agricultural Institute was founded here, by the Chesapeake – a home by the sea.

Now, that story is no doubt familiar to many of you. But it’s worth reflecting on why it happened; why so many people went to such trouble to found Hampton and all our Historically Black Colleges and Universities. The founders of these institutions knew, of course, that inequality would persist long into the future. They were not naïve. They recognized that barriers in our laws, and in our hearts, wouldn’t vanish overnight.

But they also recognized the larger truth; a distinctly American truth. They recognized, Class of 2010, that the right education might allow those barriers to be overcome; might allow our God-given potential to be fulfilled. They recognized, as Frederick Douglass once put it, that “education…means emancipation.” They recognized that education is how America and its people might fulfill our promise. That recognition, that truth – that an education can fortify us to rise above any barrier, to meet any test – is reflected, again and again, throughout our history.

In the midst of civil war, we set aside land grants for schools like Hampton to teach farmers and factory-workers the skills of an industrializing nation. At the close of World War II, we made it possible for returning GIs to attend college, building and broadening our great middle class. At the Cold War’s dawn, we set up Area Studies Centers on our campuses to prepare graduates to understand and address the global threats of a nuclear age.

So education is what has always allowed us to meet the challenges of a changing world. And Hampton, that has never been more true than it is today. This class is graduating at a time of great difficulty for America and for the world. You’re entering a job market, in an era of heightened international competition, with an economy that’s still rebounding from the worst crisis since the Great Depression. You’re accepting your degrees as America still wages two wars – wars that many in your generation have been fighting.

And meanwhile, you’re coming of age in a 24/7 media environment that bombards us with all kinds of content and exposes us to all kinds of arguments, some of which don’t always rank that high on the truth meter. And with iPods and iPads; and Xboxes and PlayStations — none of which I know how to work — (laughter) — information becomes a distraction, a diversion, a form of entertainment, rather than a tool of empowerment, rather than the means of emancipation. So all of this is not only putting pressure on you; it’s putting new pressure on our country and on our democracy.

Class of 2010, this is a period of breathtaking change, like few others in our history. We can’t stop these changes, but we can channel them, we can shape them, we can adapt to them. And education is what can allow us to do so. It can fortify you, as it did earlier generations, to meet the tests of your own time.

And first and foremost, your education can fortify you against the uncertainties of a 21st century economy. In the 19th century, folks could get by with a few basic skills, whether they learned them in a school like Hampton, or picked them up along the way. As long as you were willing to work, for much of the 20th century, a high school diploma was a ticket into a solid middle class life. That is no longer the case.

Jobs today often require at least a bachelor’s degree, and that degree is even more important in tough times like these. In fact, the unemployment rate for folks who’ve never gone to college is over twice as high as for folks with a college degree or more.

Now, the good news is you’re already ahead of the curve. All those checks you or your parents wrote to Hampton will pay off. (Laughter.) You’re in a strong position to outcompete workers around the world. But I don’t have to tell you that too many folks back home aren’t as well prepared. Too many young people, just like you, are not as well prepared. By any number of different yardsticks, African Americans are being outperformed by their white classmates, as are Hispanic Americans. Students in well-off areas are outperforming students in poorer rural or urban communities, no matter what skin color.

Globally, it’s not even close. In 8th grade science and math, for example, American students are ranked about 10th overall compared to top-performing countries. But African Americans are ranked behind more than 20 nations, lower than nearly every other developed country.

So all of us have a responsibility, as Americans, to change this; to offer every single child in this country an education that will make them competitive in our knowledge economy. That is our obligation as a nation. (Applause.)

But I have to say, Class of 2010, all of you have a separate responsibility. To be role models for your brothers and sisters. To be mentors in your communities. And, when the time comes, to pass that sense of an education’s value down to your children, a sense of personal responsibility and self-respect. To pass down a work ethic and an intrinsic sense of excellence that made it possible for you to be here today.

So, allowing you to compete in the global economy is the first way your education can prepare you. But it can also prepare you as citizens. With so many voices clamoring for attention on blogs, and on cable, on talk radio, it can be difficult, at times, to sift through it all; to know what to believe; to figure out who’s telling the truth and who’s not. Let’s face it, even some of the craziest claims can quickly gain traction. I’ve had some experience in that regard.

Fortunately, you will be well positioned to navigate this terrain. Your education has honed your research abilities, sharpened your analytical powers, given you a context for understanding the world. Those skills will come in handy.

But the goal was always to teach you something more. Over the past four years, you’ve argued both sides of a debate. You’ve read novels and histories that take different cuts at life.


THE PRESIDENT: You’ve discovered — see, I got a little “Amen” there, somebody — (laughter) — you’ve discovered interests you didn’t know you had. You’ve made friends who didn’t grow up the same way you did. You’ve tried things you’d never done before, including some things we won’t talk about in front of your parents. (Laughter.)

All of this, I hope, has had the effect of opening your mind; of helping you understand what it’s like to walk in somebody else’s shoes. But now that your minds have been opened, it’s up to you to keep them that way. It will be up to you to open minds that remain closed that you meet along the way. That, after all, is the elemental test of any democracy: whether people with differing points of view can learn from each other, and work with each other, and find a way forward together.

And I’d add one further observation. Just as your education can fortify you, it can also fortify our nation, as a whole. More and more, America’s economic preeminence, our ability to out compete other countries, will be shaped not just in our boardrooms, not just on our factory floors, but in our classrooms, and our schools, at universities like Hampton. It will be determined by how well all of us, and especially our parents, educate our sons and daughters.

What’s at stake is more than our ability to out compete other nations. It’s our ability to make democracy work in our own nation. Now, years after he left office, decades after he penned the Declaration of Independence, Thomas Jefferson sat down, a few hours’ drive from here, in Monticello, and wrote a letter to a longtime legislator, urging him to do more on education. And Jefferson gave one principal reason – the one, perhaps, he found most compelling. “If a nation expects to be ignorant and free,” he wrote, “it expects what never was and never will be.”

What Jefferson recognized, like the rest of that gifted founding generation, was that in the long run, their improbable experiment – called America – wouldn’t work if its citizens were uninformed, if its citizens were apathetic, if its citizens checked out, and left democracy who those — to those who didn’t have the best interests of all the people at heart. It could only work if each of us stayed informed and engaged; if we held our government accountable; if we fulfilled the obligations of citizenship.

The success of their experiment, they understood, depended on the participation of its people – the participation of Americans like all of you. The participation of all those who have ever sought to perfect our union.

I had a great honor of delivering a tribute to one of those Americans last week, an American named Dorothy Height. (Applause.)

And as you probably know, Dr. Height passed away the other week at the age of 98. One of the speakers at this memorial was her nephew who was 88. And I said that’s a sign of a full life when your nephew is 88. Dr. Height had been on the firing line for every fight from lynching to desegregation to the battle for health care reform. She was with Eleanor Roosevelt and she was with Michelle Obama. She lived a singular life; one of the giants upon whose shoulders I stand. But she started out just like you, understanding that to make something of herself, she needed a college degree.

So, she applied to Barnard College – and she got in. Except, when she showed up, they discovered she wasn’t white as they had believed. And they had already given their two slots for African Americans to other individuals. Those slots, two, had already been filled. But Dr. Height was not discouraged. She was not deterred. She stood up, straight-backed, and with Barnard’s acceptance letter in hand, she marched down to New York University, and said, “Let me in.” And she was admitted right away.

I want all of you to think about this, Class of 2010, because you’ve gone through some hardships, undoubtedly, in arriving to where you are today. There have been some hard days, and hard exams, and you felt put upon. And undoubtedly you will face other challenges in the future.

But I want you to think about Ms. Dorothy Height, a black woman, in 1929, refusing to be denied her dream of a college education. Refusing to be denied her rights. Refusing to be denied her dignity. Refusing to be denied her place in America, her piece of America’s promise. Refusing to let any barriers of injustice or ignorance or inequality or unfairness stand in her way. (Applause.) That refusal to accept a lesser fate; that insistence on a better life, that, ultimately, is the secret not only of African American survival and success, it has been the secret of America’s survival and success. (Applause.)

So, yes, an education can fortify us to meet the tests of our economy, the tests of our citizenship, and the tests of our times. But what ultimately makes us American, quintessentially American, is something that can’t be taught – a stubborn insistence on pursuing our dreams.

It’s the same insistence that led a band of patriots to overthrow an empire. That fired the passions of union troops to free the slaves and union veterans to found schools like Hampton. That led foot-soldiers the same age as you to brave fire-hoses on the streets of Birmingham and billy clubs on a bridge in Selma. That led generation after generation of Americans to toil away, quietly, your parents and grandparents and great-grandparents and great-great grandparents, without complaint, in the hopes of a better life for their children and grandchildren.

That is what makes us who we are. A dream of brighter days ahead, a faith in things not seen, a belief that here, in this country, we are the authors of our own destiny. That is what Hampton is all about. And it now falls to you, the Class of 2010, to write the next great chapter in America’s story; to meet the tests of your own time; to take up the ongoing work of fulfilling our founding promise. I’m looking forward to watching.

Thank you, God bless you, and may God bless the United States of America. (Applause.)

The Moral Life of Babies


Not long ago, a team of researchers watched a 1-year-old boy take justice into his own hands. The boy had just seen a puppet show in which one puppet played with a ball while interacting with two other puppets. The center puppet would slide the ball to the puppet on the right, who would pass it back. And the center puppet would slide the ball to the puppet on the left . . . who would run away with it.

Then the two puppets on the ends were brought down from the stage and set before the toddler. Each was placed next to a pile of treats. At this point, the toddler was asked to take a treat away from one puppet. Like most children in this situation, the boy took it from the pile of the “naughty” one. But this punishment wasn’t enough — he then leaned over and smacked the puppet in the head.

This incident occurred in one of several psychology studies that I have been involved with at the Infant Cognition Center at Yale University in collaboration with my colleague (and wife), Karen Wynn, who runs the lab, and a graduate student, Kiley Hamlin, who is the lead author of the studies. We are one of a handful of research teams around the world exploring the moral life of babies.

Like many scientists and humanists, I have long been fascinated by the capacities and inclinations of babies and children. The mental life of young humans not only is an interesting topic in its own right; it also raises — and can help answer — fundamental questions of philosophy and psychology, including how biological evolution and cultural experience conspire to shape human nature. In graduate school, I studied early language development and later moved on to fairly traditional topics in cognitive development, like how we come to understand the minds of other people — what they know, want and experience.

But the current work I’m involved in, on baby morality, might seem like a perverse and misguided next step. Why would anyone even entertain the thought of babies as moral beings? From Sigmund Freud to Jean Piaget to Lawrence Kohlberg, psychologists have long argued that we begin life as amoral animals.

One important task of society, particularly of parents, is to turn babies into civilized beings — social creatures who can experience empathy, guilt and shame; who can override selfish impulses in the name of higher principles; and who will respond with outrage to unfairness and injustice. Many parents and educators would endorse a view of infants and toddlers close to that of a recent Onion headline: “New Study Reveals Most Children Unrepentant Sociopaths.” If children enter the world already equipped with moral notions, why is it that we have to work so hard to humanize them?

A growing body of evidence, though, suggests that humans do have a rudimentary moral sense from the very start of life. With the help of well-designed experiments, you can see glimmers of moral thought, moral judgment and moral feeling even in the first year of life. Some sense of good and evil seems to be bred in the bone.

Which is not to say that parents are wrong to concern themselves with moral development or that their interactions with their children are a waste of time. Socialization is critically important. But this is not because babies and young children lack a sense of right and wrong; it’s because the sense of right and wrong that they naturally possess diverges in important ways from what we adults would want it to be…]

Franco is no longer a secret

35 years after Franco’s death, copies of your documents are freely available on the Center of Historical Memory in Salamanca

EL PAÍS – TEREIXA CONSTENLA – Salamanca (English Translation)

Franco’s papers are already in a public archive. Anyone can view them at the Documentation Center of Historical Memory in Salamanca, which was in October rolls of microfilm that had been kept six years safe in the Ministry of Culture. Hidden, as if burned. 27 490 are copies of documents (more than 100,000 pages) belonging to the Fundación Francisco Franco, who has kept the original guarantees secrecy and without access to a public archive.

Since Franco’s death, the papers remained until the eighties in the house of his widow, Carmen Polo. It was she who invited the medieval historian Luis Suárez Fernández-examined. “I discovered a messy and valuable documentation, which cost me five years to order, but I had no monopoly. I tried to help many people,” he told this newspaper. Suarez, who demanded work with photocopies “to avoid problems,” published the results of their research in Franco’s time, revised and corrected in Franco. Chronicle of a time. In addition, he oversaw the publication of six volumes of documents until 1942. “After the project was halted due to lack of money,” he said.

The truth is that historians such as Paul Preston, author of a celebrated biography of Franco, did not have access to the material of the foundation, which goes from 1938 to 1976. Even Javier Tusell turned to Luis Suarez access to papers on the attack in Carrero Blanco. After the help of 150,841.22 euros granted by the Ministry of Culture between 2000 and 2003 to digitize the papers, the Fundación Francisco Franco gave in return a copy to the Administration which, paradoxically, remained stored in the safe ministry. THE COUNTRY has selected some interesting papers are already available in Salamanca…

United States, Kennedy, benevolent

Always vital relations with the United States can be traced in numerous documents. There are telegrams and letters from 1952 Lequerica ambassador reporting persons and obstacles that torpedo the agreement between the two countries (bases in exchange for financial aid) as respect for religious freedom (Protestant demand) and dislike of President Truman to the Franco dictatorship.

Nothing to do with the attitude that shows President Eisenhower in March 1960, following his visit to Spain. Their common anti-communist front outweighs the lack of Spanish freedoms. “I share your view that the Communist offensive today is not only military but political and economic main (…) We must continue our policy of collective security and measures connected with it to contain communist expansion,” he wrote to Franco .

Three years later, with Kennedy in the White House, the relationships are not muddy. The ambassador then, Antonio Garrigues, recounts a dinner and “informal and intimate” with the clan: “The president turned to me and said, ‘Well, now Spain is a rich country, I think that you are already in the 1300 billion of reserves are far richer than us. I do not think they will have no choice but to give us a Marshall Plan for the United States.

“We all laughed and explained naturally in this same light tone how poor we were.” No longer humorous winks, Kennedy was “very pleased” by the Spanish economic improvement, but worried about “the problem of succession in Spain and in Portugal” and the future of Latin America. The ambassador invited to visit Spain to Robert Kennedy, his brother’s right hand. With Nixon, shake the relationship. On August 17, 1971, sent a personal message to Franco to anticipate withering anti-crisis measures will announce hours later that will impact on Spain. Wage and price freeze, tax cuts, suspension of the dollar’s convertibility into gold and temporary surcharge on imports. “I recognize that these measures affect Spain while vital for us,” he writes…

The Italian government is boycotting the Cannes Film Festival

The Italian Minister of Culture intends to protest against the selection of “Draquila,” a film about post-earthquake L’Aquila, who wants to be “a reflection on the authoritarian drift of this country,” says its director.

Le Figaro (English Translation)

The Italian Minister of Culture Sandro Bondi, has decided not to go to the Cannes Film Festival. The reason for his anger: the selection of “Draquila”, a “propaganda film” he said on the post séisme à L’Aquila d’avril 2009, which had 308 deaths and 80,000 private housing.

«Draquila – l’Italia che trema» (Draquila – Italy trembling “), Sabina Guzzanti, an expert mimic of political satire, contained in the official selection, out of competition and must be screened in” special session “. According unused footage seen on television, Sabina Guzzanti, the grim picture of the Italian prime minister Silvio Berlusconi denounced, just as U.S. filmmaker Michael Moore, a close male stranglehold on power reconstruction projects in the city.

In an interview with website Articolo 21, The director said she wanted to show that “the inhabitants of L’Aquila stayed in tents for six months only because the government wanted to see the ‘miracle’ houses’ issued with great fanfare disaster from September last. “This film is a meditation on the authoritarian drift of this country,” added the director.

The only Italian director contained in the official selection at Cannes this year with “La Nostra Vita, Daniele Luchetti, strongly criticized the boycott by the Minister Bondi, very close to Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi. “I do not know what to say about a minister who is ashamed of a free artist,” he told Italian media on Saturday. “A free country must show what type of shows. Be proud to take it abroad as a demonstration of freedom, “said the filmmaker whose film will be released May 21 in Italian theaters.

The MEP party Italy of Values (center-left opposition), Luigi De Magistris has been even harder against the government. “Those who insult the free and the Italian people, it is neither art nor information, but a minister who, instead of honoring its commitments recites the institutional role of loyal servant of the Prime Minister by deserting” Cannes.


New MC-12 unit activated at Kandahar Airfield

USAF – Tech. Sgt. Renni Thornton, 451st Air Expeditionary Wing Public Affairs

5/4/2010 – KANDAHAR AIRFIELD, Afghanistan (AFNS) — Officials activated the Air Force’s newest MC-12 Liberty squadron in a ceremony here May 1.

The 361st Expeditionary Reconnaissance Squadron has been reactivated many times in the squadron’s fairly unique history, said Col. John A. Cherrey, the commander of the 451st Expeditionary Operations Group and host of the ceremony.

“It started in 1943 in World War II when the members of the unit flew B-17 (Flying Fortresses) and B-24 (Liberators),” he said. “Later, they were reactivated during Vietnam when they flew EC-47s and did a lot of work with a special operations wing back then. In 2002, the unit was reactivated again, flying other aircraft.”

The commander of the newly-activated squadron, Lt. Col. Darren Halford, shared his enthusiasm with the 80-member unit.

“This is a tremendous team perfectly suited for the challenges ahead,” Colonel Halford said.

“The MC-12 is a critical capability, fielded at a critical time,” he said. “Your actions will drastically improve joint and combined counterinsurgency capabilities, assist Afghanistan with defeating the insurgency, and ultimately save American and coalition lives.”

Related:  MC-12W Liberty ISR Aircraft, USA & MC-12 flies first combat mission

Falcon Hypersonic Technology Vehicle 2 (HTV-2)

National Security Challenge

The U.S. military seeks the capability to respond, with little or no advanced warning, to threats to our national security anywhere around the globe.

Program Objective

DARPA’s Falcon HTV-2 program objective is to create new technological options that enable capabilities that address urgent threats to our national security. The program is developing and testing an unmanned, rocket-launched, maneuverable, hypersonic air vehicle that glides through the Earth’s atmosphere, at incredibly fast speeds – Mach 20 and above.

Program Goal

The specific goal of the program is to conduct flight tests that demonstrate and validate technologies crucial to flight at hypersonic speeds. The first flight test, scheduled for April 20, 2010, is a rocket launch of a new gliding air vehicle known as HTV-2. Designed for DARPA by Lockheed Martin, the vehicle will be launched from Vandenberg Air Force Base, California on an Orbital Sciences’ Minotaur IV Lite rocket.

HTV-2 will be accelerated into the Earth’s upper atmosphere, separate from the rocket, descend into the atmosphere, and glide across the Pacific Ocean at more than 13,000 miles per hour. HTV-2 will reach its destination in less than 30 minutes and impact in the ocean north of the Reagan Test Site in the Kwajalein Atoll, a total distance from lift-off to impact of about 4,100 nautical miles.

The key technical challenges and achievements of the HTV-2 program are the design of an innovative high lift-to-drag aerodynamic shape, advanced lightweight but tough thermal protection structures, materials and fabrication technologies, autonomous hypersonic navigation guidance and control systems, and an autonomous flight safety system.

Critical Enabling Technologies

Critical enabling technologies include elements necessary for hypersonic aerothermodynamics, high-temperature materials and structures, the navigation guidance and control system, and thermal protection techniques. The program demands a multidisciplinary approach and relies on expertise in such areas as aerothermodynamics, materials science, hypersonic navigation, guidance and control systems, endo- and exo-atmospheric flight dynamics, telemetry, range safety analysis, and space launch.

Partnership with the Services

DARPA is working in cooperation with many Services and Agencies, including the U.S. Air Force, Missile Defense Agency, U.S. Navy and Army. The extensive flight data collected will increase the understanding of long-duration hypersonic vehicle flight and enable future advances in this technology area.

Program Milestones: HTV-2 is in its third and final phase.

DARPA Falcon HTV-2: Frequently Asked Questions

1. How many flights are in the HTV-2 program?
The HTV-2 program has two flights planned. Two flights are required to validate performance characteristics of HTV-2’s design including high temperature structures and materials, autonomous precision navigation, guidance, and control (NG&C), aerothermal performance, and an autonomous flight safety system.

2. Do the HTV-2 vehicles have onboard propulsion or are they unpowered?
HTV-2 is an unmanned, rocket-launched maneuverable hypersonic air vehicle (with no on-board propulsion system) that flies through the Earth’s atmosphere at incredibly fast speeds – Mach 20 and above.

3. For the first HTV-2 flight (scheduled for April):

a. What role will the Minotaur IV Lite booster fill? To accelerate the HTV-2 to the needed speed and carry it to the needed altitude?
The Minotaur IV Lite rocket will provide the needed acceleration and altitude for the test. The Minotaur IV Lite is a 3-stage solid rocket vehicle developed by Orbital Sciences Corporation which utilizes decommissioned Peacekeeper missile stages.

The Minotaur IV Lite consists of three main vehicle sections: a government-furnished equipment 3-stage solid-propellant booster, guidance and control assembly, and a payload assembly. More detail (PDF)

b. To what speed/Mach number will the Minotaur IV Lite booster accelerate the HTV-2?
HTV-2 will reach speeds of Mach 20 and above.

c. To what altitude will the Minotaur IV Lite booster carry the HTV-2?
Jettison of the third stage fairing and HTV-2 vehicle separation occur just outside the atmosphere at an altitude of several hundred thousand feet.

d. After booster/HTV-2 separation, will the HTV-2 maneuver or fly in a straight line?
Following separation, HTV-2 will use autonomous flight control to maneuver during the hypersonic glide portion of the test flight. Three types of maneuvers are planned for the HTV-2 flight test program:

  • Energy management maneuvers (the vehicle turns at moderate bank angles to bleed off excess energy)
  • Maneuvers to measure aerodynamic control characteristics (short pitch, roll and yaw maneuvers)
  • A dive maneuver to impact the ocean within the area defined by range safety as “safe.”

e. Will the HTV-2 splash in the ocean, impact land, or land like an airplane?
It will fly over the Pacific Ocean and impact into the broad ocean area (BOA) site north of the U.S. Army Kwajalein Atoll/Reagan Test Site.

f. Will the HTV-2 be recovered after flight?
The HTV-2 will impact/splashdown in the broad ocean near Kwajalein 40 to 80 nautical miles north of Roi-Namur Island. The debris, primarily metal components, is expected to sink and DARPA does not plan to recover or reuse it.

g. How far will the HTV-2 fly? (please tell me if you are using nautical or statute miles)
Total distance from lift-off to impact is approximately 4,100 nautical miles and the Falcon HTV-2 glides for approximately 3,100 nautical miles.

h. Where will the HTV-2 flight end? Near Kwajalein?
The HTV-2 will impact/splashdown in the broad ocean near Kwajalein 40 to 80 nautical miles north of Roi-Namur Island.

i. How long (from liftoff at Vandenberg AFB to HTV-2 splashhown/impact/landing) will the HTV-2 flight last?
The mission will last approximately 30 minutes.

j. What are the objectives of this flight?
DARPA seeks to improve on existing technologies that enable hypersonic flight by developing and testing the HTV-2, an unmanned, rocket-launched maneuverable hypersonic air vehicle that flies through the Earth’s atmosphere at incredibly fast speeds – Mach 20 and above.

4. What is the purpose of the HTV-2 program?
The specific goal of the HTV-2 program is to accelerate development of technologies and capabilities that are essential to aircraft flight at hypersonic speeds, culminating in actual flight testing of a revolutionary new hypersonic aircraft – HTV-2.

The key technical challenges and achievements of the HTV-2 program to date are the design of an innovative high lift-to-drag aerodynamic shape, advanced lightweight but tough thermal protection structures, materials and fabrication technologies, autonomous hypersonic navigation guidance and control systems, and an autonomous flight safety system.

Upgraded F-15Cs to protect F-22s

Aviation Week – Posted by David A. Fulghum

F-22 stealth fighter production is capped, so USAF officials are upgrading their best F-15C with advanced, long-range radars to beef up the air dominance force.

Because of the larger size of the F-15s radar and the aircraft’s greater flight endurance, they also will serve as “stand-in” electronic warfare jamming and attack aircraft as part of the Air Force’s composite air dominance force that also includes stealthy F-22s stationed at Langley Air Force Base, Va.

Each fighter type will shoulder 50% of the air dominance mission now that the F-22 force has been capped at 187 aircraft. The upgraded F-15Cs will carry the larger APG-63(V)3 active, electronically scanned array (AESA) radar. The radar’s long range and small target detection capability will allow F-22s to operate in electronic silence with their low observability uncompromised by electronic emissions.

The first F-15C modified with the Raytheon radar was declared operational with the Florida Air National Guard’s 125th Fighter Wing last week.

“Our objective is to fly in front [of any strike force] with the F-22s, and have the persistence [because of larger fuel loads] to stay there while the [stealthy fighters] are conducting their LO attack,” says Maj. Todd Giggy, the wing’s chief of weapons and tactics. Giggy was formerly with the chief of weapons and tactics for the 1st Air Dominance Wing at Langley. “That persistence is something we can add that no one else can in the air dominance world.”

The Florida, Louisiana and Oregon ANG will field the first 48 V3 radar-equipped F-15Cs. Massachusetts and Montana ANG units will follow so that the East, West and Gulf coasts have a cruise missile defense capability.

“We’re embracing an air-launched concept for theater ballistic missile defense as a deterrent and as a tactical capability to protect our forces in theater and for homeland defense,” Giggy says.

One of the missiles in consideration for the theater ballistic missile mission is Raytheon’s NCADE variant of the AIM-120 AMRAAM.

“We’re talking to the ANG about a demonstration of an air-launched, hit-to-kill system, says Ramon Estrada, Raytheon’s F-15 AESA program manager. “It takes the AMRAAM body and extends the range to support a ballistic missile mission.” The AIM-120C-6 and AIM-120D AMRAAM models were optimized in part to attack small-signature cruise missiles.

The Air Force will deliver up to six AESA radars this summer for installation on F-15Cs at the Weapons School and 442 Sgdn. at Nellis AFB, Nev. The fleet will eventually grow to 176 Golden Eagles that are slated to serve until 2030.

The F-15Cs also will provide electronic jamming and attack capability, self-protect the force against enemy missiles and aircraft, shoot their beyond visual range missiles to supplement limited numbers carried by the F-22s and use the radar to create situational awareness for everyone else…]

League Sea-Air-Space Exposition

Remarks as Prepared for Delivery by Secretary of Defense Robert M. Gates, Gaylord Convention Center, Nationa Harbor, Maryland, Monday, May 03, 2010

Thank you for that introduction. And my thanks to the Navy League, which has been, for more than a century, a firm and at times fierce advocate for sea power and American engagement abroad.

It is a real pleasure to be here this afternoon. While I have spoken to the military service organizations for the Army, Air Force, and Marine Corps, this is my first opportunity to attend your annual gathering. To start on the right foot, I should note that, for the first time in history, the Pentagon has now had officers from the sea services in back-to-back terms in the top two positions in America’s military – a Marine chairman of the joint chiefs and Navy vice chairman, followed by a Navy chairman and Marine vice chairman. I suspect many of you think we finally got the line-up right.

The topic of this year’s exposition is: “Responding Globally: Engaged at Sea and Ashore.” Considering our military’s unprecedented level of global engagement – especially the sea services – I cannot think of a better subject.

The pattern of engagement is reflected in a range of activities around the world that would no doubt leave Alfred Thayer Mahan spinning in his grave: building partnership capacity through the Africa Partnership Station in the Gulf of Guinea; training with friends and allies to secure vital shipping lanes in Southeast Asia; digging wells and building schools in Djibouti; leading multinational efforts to counter the scourge of piracy around the Horn of Africa; dispatching hospital ships to treat the poor and destitute; helping with crises like the oil spill along the Gulf Coast; and responding to natural disasters, most recently in Haiti – efforts that demonstrate our servicemembers’ incredible compassion and decency.

Then there are the wars. With roughly 25 ships – and more than 20,000 sailors – in the CENTCOM area of operations, there is no doubt that this is a Navy at war. Every time I visit Iraq or Afghanistan, I am struck by the number of sailors on the ground – one of the great unappreciated stories of the last few years. Tens of thousands of sailors have been to theater – including officers commanding provincial reconstruction teams, finance clerks, riverine crews, engineers, the SEALs and the Corpsmen, and our “devil docs.” These men and women are vital to the mission and helping to ease the strain on our ground forces – and doing so without fail and without complaint.

And then, of course, there is the role of the Marine Corps, whose impact has been a game-changer: first in Anbar province, key to the turnaround in Iraq, and now in southern Afghanistan, the center of gravity in that war. In March, I had a chance to meet with Marines at the tip of the spear in a town called Now Zad – a place that had been, for nearly four years, a ghost-town under the jackboot of the Taliban. Then came a battalion of Marines, who, after months of hard work and sacrifice, have slowly brought the town back to life – creating a model for operations elsewhere.

For years now, the Corps has been acting as essentially a second land army. As General Conway has noted, there are young, battle-hardened Marines with multiple combat tours who have spent little time inside of a ship, much less practicing hitting a beach. Their critical work well inland will be necessary for the foreseeable future.

Many of the tasks and roles I’ve just mentioned would have been unthinkable as recently as a decade ago, and are with our sea services to stay. But we must always be mindful of why America built and maintained a Navy, Marine Corps, and Coast Guard in the first place. Indeed, it was an Army general, Ulysses S. Grant, who said that “[m]oney expended in a fine navy, not only adds to our security and tends to prevent war in the future, but is very material aid to our commerce with foreign nations in the meantime.” In fact, this country learned early on, after years of being bullied and blackmailed on the high seas, that it must be able to protect trade routes, project power, deter potential adversaries, and, if necessary, strike them on the oceans, in their ports, or on their shores. We cannot allow these core capabilities and skill sets to atrophy through distraction or neglect.

This is even more important considering that, with America’s ground forces dedicated to the campaigns in the Middle East and Central Asia, the weight of America’s deterrent and strategic military strength has shifted to our air and naval forces. So in the next few minutes I’d like to offer some perspective on the challenges facing America’s sea services as they strive to field and fund the capabilities our nation will need for the decades ahead – focusing on three central questions:

  • What kind of qualities should the maritime services encourage in a new generation of leaders?
  • What new capabilities will our Navy-Marine Corps team need, and which ones will potentially be made obsolete?
  • How can we be sure that our procurement plans are cost-effective, efficient, and realistic?

As a starting point, given the complex security challenges America faces around the globe, the future of our maritime services will ultimately depend less on the quality of their hardware than on the quality of their leaders. I addressed this question to the midshipmen at the Naval Academy a month ago by citing some of the towering figures from our sea services. Leaders like:

  • Lieutenant General Victor Krulak, the visionary behind the Higgins boat who later contributed greatly to our understanding of counterinsurgency in Vietnam;
  • Admiral Chester Nimitz, who as a young officer helped develop the circular formation for carrier escorts, used to great effect in World War II and for decades afterwards;
  • Admiral Hyman Rickover, whose genius and persistence overcame the conventional wisdom that nuclear reactors were too bulky and dangerous to put on submarines; and
  • Finally, Roy Boehm, who after World War II designed and led a special new commando unit that became the Navy SEALs. Boehm’s legacy is at work every night, tracking down our country’s most lethal enemies in Afghanistan and elsewhere around the world.

The reason I wanted to talk to midshipmen about these leaders – and why I am citing them today – is not that they were always right. Nor that they should be emulated in every way – to put it mildly. What is compelling about each of these leaders is that they had the vision and insight to see that the world and technology were changing, they understood the implications of these shifts, and then they pressed ahead in the face of often fierce institutional resistance.

The qualities these legends embody have been important and decisive throughout the history of warfare. But I would contend that they are more necessary than ever in the first decades of this century, given the pace of technological changes, and the agile and adaptive nature of our most likely and lethal adversaries – from modern militaries using asymmetric tactics to terrorist groups with advanced weapons. Our officers will lead an American military that must have the maximum flexibility to deal with the widest possible range of scenarios and adversaries.

Second, in order to be successful, the sea services must have the right make-up and capabilities. Surveying our current force, it is useful to start with some perspective – especially since the Navy, of all the services, has been the most consistently concerned about its size as measured by the total number of ships in the fleet.

It is important to remember that, as much as the U.S. battle fleet has shrunk since the end of the Cold War, the rest of the world’s navies have shrunk even more. So, in relative terms, the U.S. Navy is as strong as it has ever been.

In assessing risks and requirements even in light of an expanding array of global missions and responsibilities – everything from shows of presence to humanitarian relief – some context is useful:

  • The U.S. operates 11 large carriers, all nuclear powered. In terms of size and striking power, no other country has even one comparable ship.
  • The U.S. Navy has 10 large-deck amphibious ships that can operate as sea bases for helicopters and vertical-takeoff jets. No other navy has more than three, and all of those navies belong to allies or friends. Our Navy can carry twice as many aircraft at sea as the rest of the world combined.
  • The U.S. has 57 nuclear-powered attack and cruise missile submarines – again, more than the rest of the world combined.
  • Seventy-nine Aegis-equipped combatants carry roughly 8,000 vertical-launch missile cells. In terms of total missile firepower, the U.S. arguably outmatches the next 20 largest navies.
  • All told, the displacement of the U.S. battle fleet – a proxy for overall fleet capabilities – exceeds, by one recent estimate, at least the next 13 navies combined, of which 11 are our allies or partners.
  • And, at 202,000 strong, the U.S. Marine Corps is the largest military force of its kind – exceeding the size of most world armies.

Still, even as the United States stands unsurpassed on, above, and below the high seas, we have to prepare for the future. As in previous eras, new centers of power – with new wealth, military strength, and ambitions on the world stage – are altering the strategic landscape. If history shows anything, it’s that we cannot predict or guarantee the course of a nation decades from now – the time it takes to develop and build the next generation of ships, a process that has been likened to building a medieval cathedral: brick by brick, window by window – over decades.

Our Navy has to be designed for new challenges, new technologies, and new missions – because another one of history’s hard lessons is that, when it comes to military capabilities, those who fail to adapt often fail to survive. In World War II, both the American and British navies were surprised by the speed with which naval airpower made battleships obsolete. Because of two decades of testing and operations, however, both were well prepared to shift to carrier operations. We have to consider whether a similar revolution at sea is underway today.

Potential adversaries are well-aware of our overwhelming conventional advantage – which is why, despite significant naval modernization programs underway in some countries, no one intends to bankrupt themselves by challenging the U.S. to a shipbuilding competition akin to the Dreadnought race prior to World War I.

Instead, potential adversaries are investing in weapons designed to neutralize U.S. advantages – to deny our military freedom of action while potentially threatening America’s primary means of projecting power: our bases, sea and air assets, and the networks that support them.

We know other nations are working on asymmetric ways to thwart the reach and striking power of the U.S. battle fleet. At the low end, Hezbollah, a non-state actor, used anti-ship missiles against Israel’s navy in 2006. And Iran is combining ballistic and cruise missiles, anti-ship missiles, mines, and swarming speedboats in order to challenge our naval power in that region.

At the higher end of the access-denial spectrum, the virtual monopoly the U.S. has enjoyed with precision guided weapons is eroding – especially with long-range, accurate anti-ship cruise and ballistic missiles that can potentially strike from over the horizon. This is a particular concern with aircraft carriers and other large, multi-billion-dollar blue-water surface combatants, where, for example, a Ford-class carrier plus its full complement of the latest aircraft would represent potentially $15 to $20 billion worth of hardware at risk. The U.S. will also face increasingly sophisticated underwater combat systems – including numbers of stealthy subs – all of which could end the operational sanctuary our Navy has enjoyed in the Western Pacific for the better part of six decades.

One part of the way ahead is through more innovative strategies and joint approaches. The agreement by the Navy and Air Force to work together on an Air-Sea Battle concept is an encouraging development, which has the potential to do for America’s military deterrent power at the beginning of the 21st century what Air-Land Battle did near the end of the 20th.

But we must also rethink what and how we buy – to shift investments towards systems that provide the ability to see and strike deep along the full spectrum of conflict. This means, among other things:

  • Extending the range at which U.S. naval forces can fight, refuel, and strike, with more resources devoted to long-range unmanned aircraft and intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance capabilities.
  • New sea-based missile defenses;
  • A submarine force with expanded roles that is prepared to conduct more missions deep inside an enemy’s battle network. We will also have to increase submarine strike capability and look at smaller and unmanned underwater platforms.

These changes are occurring even as the Navy is called on to do more missions that fall on the low end of the conflict spectrum – a requirement that will not go away, as the new naval operational concept reflects. Whether the mission is counterinsurgency, piracy, or security assistance, among others, new missions have required new ways of thinking about the portfolio of weapons we buy. In particular, the Navy will need numbers, speed, and the ability to operate in shallow water, especially as the nature of war in the 21st century pushes us toward smaller, more diffuse weapons and units that increasingly rely on a series of networks to wage war. As we learned last year, you don’t necessarily need a billion-dollar guided missile destroyer to chase down and deal with a bunch of teenage pirates wielding AK-47s and RPGs.

The Navy has responded with investments in more special warfare capabilities, small patrol coastal vessels, a riverine squadron, and joint high-speed vessels. Last year’s budget accelerated the buy of the Littoral Combat Ship, which, despite its development problems, is a versatile ship that can be produced in quantity and go places that are either too shallow or too dangerous for the Navy’s big, blue-water surface combatants. The new approach to LCS procurement and competition should provide an affordable, scalable, and sustainable path to producing the quantity of ships we need.

There has been some talk that the rebalancing effort of the last couple of years – where resources and institutional support have shifted towards what is needed in the current conflicts and other irregular scenarios – has skewed priorities too far away from high-tech conventional capabilities. In reality, in this fiscal year the Department requested nearly $190 billion for total procurement, research, and development – an almost 90 percent increase over the last decade. At most, 10 percent of that $190 billion is dedicated exclusively to equipment optimized for counterinsurgency, security assistance, humanitarian operations, or other so-called low-end capabilities. In these last two budget cycles, I have directed a needed and noticeable shift – but hardly a dramatic one, especially in light of the significant naval overmatch that I described earlier.

These issues invariably bring up debates over so-called “gaps” between stated requirements and current platforms – be they ships, aircraft, or anything else. More often than not, the solution offered is either more of what we already have or modernized versions of preexisting capabilities. This approach ignores the fact that we face diverse adversaries with finite resources that consequently force them to come at the U.S. in unconventional and innovative ways. The more relevant gap we risk creating is one between the capabilities we are pursuing and those that are actually needed in the real world of tomorrow.

Considering that, the Department must continually adjust its future plans as the strategic environment evolves. Two major examples come to mind.

First, what kind of new platform is needed to get large numbers of troops from ship to shore under fire – in other words, the capability provided by the Expeditionary Fighting Vehicle. No doubt, it was a real strategic asset during the first Gulf War to have a flotilla of Marines waiting off Kuwait City – forcing Saddam’s army to keep one eye on the Saudi border, and one eye on the coast. But we have to take a hard look at where it would be necessary or sensible to launch another major amphibious landing again – especially as advances in anti-ship systems keep pushing the potential launch point further from shore. On a more basic level, in the 21st century, what kind of amphibious capability do we really need to deal with the most likely scenarios, and then how much?

Second – aircraft carriers. Our current plan is to have eleven carrier strike groups through 2040. To be sure, the need to project power across the oceans will never go away. But, consider the massive over-match the U.S. already enjoys. Consider, too, the growing anti-ship capabilities of adversaries. Do we really need eleven carrier strike groups for another 30 years when no other country has more than one? Any future plans must address these realities.

And that bring me to the third issue: the budget. I have in the past warned about our nation’s tendency to disarm in the wake of major wars. That remains a concern. But, as has always been the case, defense budget expectations over time, not to mention any country’s strategic strength, are intrinsically linked to the overall financial and fiscal health of the nation.

And in that respect, we have to accept some hard fiscal realities. American taxpayers and the Congress are rightfully worried about the deficit. At the same time, the Department of Defense’s track record as a steward of taxpayer dollars leaves much to be desired.

Now, I know that part of the problem lies outside the Defense Department – and it has been this way for a long time. One of my favorite stories is about Henry Knox, the first secretary of war. He was charged with building the first American fleet. To get the necessary support from the Congress, Knox eventually ended up with six frigates being built in six different shipyards in six different states.

In this year’s budget submission, the Department has asked to end funding for an extra engine for the Joint Strike Fighter as well as to cease production of the C-17 cargo aircraft – two decisions supported by the services and reams of analysis. As we speak, a fight is on to keep the Congress from putting the extra engine and more C-17s back in the budget – at an unnecessary potential cost to the taxpayers of billions of dollars over the next few years. The issues surrounding political will and the Defense budget are ones I will discuss in more detail at the Eisenhower Library on Saturday.

None of that, however, absolves the Pentagon and the services from responsibility with regards to procurement. These issues are especially acute when it comes to big-ticket items whose costs skyrocket far beyond initial estimates. Current submarines and amphibious ships are three times as expensive as their equivalents during the 1980s – this in the context of an overall shipbuilding and conversion budget that is 20 percent less. Just a few years ago, the Congressional Budget Office projected that meeting the Navy’s shipbuilding plan would cost more than $20 billion per year – double the shipbuilding budget of recent years, and a projection that was underfunded by some 30 percent. It is reasonable to wonder whether the nation is getting a commensurate increase in capability in exchange for these spiraling costs.

The Navy’s DDG-1000 is a case in point. By the time the Navy leadership curtailed the program, the price of each ship had more than doubled and the projected fleet had dwindled from 32 to seven. The programmed buy is now three.

Or consider plans for a new ballistic missile submarine, the SSBN(X). Right now, the Department proposes spending $6 billion in research and development over the next few years – for a projected buy of twelve subs at $7 billion apiece. Current requirements call for a submarine with the size and payload of a boomer – and the stealth of an attack sub. In a congressional hearing earlier this year, I pointed out that in the later part of this decade the new ballistic missile submarine alone would begin to eat up the lion’s share of the Navy’s shipbuilding resources.

To be sure, the most recent 30-year shipbuilding plan is a step in the right direction. Secretary Mabus and Admiral Roughead have worked hard to create reasonable budgets and reset the service “in stride” to reduce operational disruptions. At the same time, the Navy’s innovative energy security and independence initiative not only helps the environment, but also will save money in the long term.

Even so, it is important to remember that, as the wars recede, money will be required to reset the Army and Marine Corps, which have borne the brunt of the conflicts. And there will continue to be long-term – and inviolable – costs associated with taking care of our troops and their families. In other words, I do not foresee any significant top-line increases in the shipbuilding budget beyond current assumptions. At the end of the day, we have to ask whether the nation can really afford a Navy that relies on $3 to 6 billion destroyers, $7 billion submarines, and $11 billion carriers.

Though I have addressed a number of topics today, I should add that I don’t pretend to have all the answers. But, mark my words, the Navy and Marine Corps must be willing to reexamine and question basic assumptions in light of evolving technologies, new threats, and budget realities. We simply cannot afford to perpetuate a status quo that heaps more and more expensive technologies onto fewer and fewer platforms – thereby risking a situation where some of our greatest capital expenditures go toward weapons and ships that could potentially become wasting assets.

A concluding thought. The number and kind of ships we have – and how we use them – will be ever changing, as they have for the last 200-plus years. What must be unchanging, what must be enduring, is the quality of the sailors and Marines onboard these ships and serving ashore. They must have moral as well as physical courage; they must have integrity; they must think creatively and boldly. They must have the vision and insight to see that the world and technology are constantly changing and that the Navy and Marine Corps must therefore change with the times – ever flexible and ever adaptable. They must be willing to speak hard truths, including to superiors – as did their legendary predecessors.

Over the past three and a half years, in the fury of two wars, I have seen the future of the Navy and Marine Corps onboard ships, on the ground in Iraq and Afghanistan, at Navy bases and Marine camps, and at the Academy. These young men and women fill me with confidence that the future of our sea services is incredibly bright and that our nation will be secure in their hands.

Thank you.

USNI – Sea Dogs


Students Kicked Off Campus for Wearing American Flag Tees

Freedom of expression or cultural disrespect on Cinco de Mayo?


On any other day at Live Oak High School in Morgan Hill, Daniel Galli and his four friends would not even be noticed for wearing T-shirts with the American flag. But Cinco de Mayo is not any typical day especially on a campus with a large Mexican American student population.

Galli says he and his friends were sitting at a table during brunch break when the vice principal asked two of the boys to remove American flag bandannas that they wearing on their heads and for the others to turn their American flag T-shirts inside out. When they refused, the boys were ordered to go to the principal’s office.

“They said we could wear it on any other day,” Daniel Galli said, “but today is sensitive to Mexican-Americans because it’s supposed to be their holiday so we were not allowed to wear it today.”

The boys said the administrators called their T-shirts “incendiary” that would lead to fights on campus.

“They said if we tried to go back to class with our shirts not taken off, they said it was defiance and we would get suspended,” Dominic Maciel, Galli’s friend, said.

The boys really had no choice, and went home to avoid suspension. They say they’re angry they were not allowed to express their American pride. Their parents are just as upset, calling what happened to their children, “total nonsense.”

“I think it’s absolutely ridiculous,” Julie Fagerstrom, Maciel’s mom, said. “All they were doing was displaying their patriotic nature. They’re expressing their individuality.”

But to many Mexican-American students at Live Oak, this was a big deal. They say they were offended by the five boys and others for wearing American colors on a Mexican holiday.

“I think they should apologize cause it is a Mexican Heritage Day,” Annicia Nunez, a Live Oak High student, said. “We don’t deserve to be get disrespected like that. We wouldn’t do that on Fourth of July.”

As for an apology, the boys and their families say, “fat chance.”

“I’m not going to apologize. I did nothing wrong,” Galli said. “I went along with my normal day. I might have worn an American flag, but I’m an American and I’m proud to be an American.”

The five boys and their families met with a Morgan Hill Unified School District official Wednesday night. The district released a statement saying it does not agree with how Live Oak High School administrators handled this incident.

The boys will not be suspended and they were told they can go back to school Thursday. They may even wear their red, white, and blue colors again, but this time, the day after Cinco de Mayo, there will be no controversy.

School District: Flag Clothing Incident “Extremely Unfortunate”

Morgan Hill high school under national microscope


Some parents of students at Live Oak High School in Morgan Hill are keeping their kids home from school after tension related to an incident involving students wearing American flag clothing on Cinco de Mayo spilled out onto the streets.

The students wore T-shirts depicting the flag to school on Wednesday. Administrators told the boys the clothes could be “incendiary” and asked them turn the shirts inside-out or face suspension. The boys refused so they were sent home.

The controversy quickly spread over the Internet and became national news.

Now, the school district is sending a message to parents about the heated issue, assuring them that students will not be suspended, and that students are allowed to wear patriotic clothing.

The message was delivered from Superintendent Wesley Smith through both a letter and a voicemail. Here is the full text:

Good evening. This is Dr. Wesley Smith, Superintendent of the Morgan Hill Unified School District. The Morgan Hill Unified School District does not prohibit nor do we discourage wearing patriotic clothing. The incident on May 5 at Live Oak High School is extremely unfortunate. While campus safety is our primary concern and administrators made decisions yesterday in an attempt to ensure campus safety, students should not, and will not, be disciplined for wearing patriotic clothing. This situation and our response are under review.

We know that this is an emotionally charged topic. We would ask you to encourage your students to be safe and focus on their academics while in school. If conversations and/or activities are necessary to express their feelings on this issue, we will find appropriate venues that do not disturb student learning or jeopardize the safety of our students. Furthermore, we encourage everyone to demonstrate respect for each other, open communication, and responsibility.

Thank you for your support and understanding.
Dr. Wesley Smith

On Thursday, about 200 Mexican-American students walked out of class in protest of the flag clothing incident. Members of the group waved the Mexican flag and said they were marching for respect and unity. They also demanded the school suspend the boys who wore the U.S. flag-adorned clothing.

As a result of this heated debate, other Bay Area schools by the name of Live Oak have been threatened. The Live Oak School District in Santa Cruz County has received several calls from people angry about the issue, even though they are in no way involved in the Morgan Hill school’s issue. That district’s superintendent believes it’s just a same-name misunderstanding and lack of clarity in reporting the school’s location.

Administrators at Live Oak High School in Sutter County say they’ve also recieved violent threats. The sheriff there is concerned that a person who threatened to shoot up the school or plant a bomb may follow through.

The story has sparked an outcry from groups and individuals  across the country, including a high school student in Yorktown, Va., who  created a Facebook page titled “I support the 5 students from Morgan Hill  high school.” As of Friday morning, the fast-growing group had more than 1,850 members.

Battle of Puebla

Holiday of Cinco de Mayo is minor event in Mexico

Houston Chronicle – By OSCAR CASARES

With a brutal drug war still raging in the Mexican border towns of Reynosa and Ciudad Juarez, and now the fear of a strict immigration bill in Arizona that makes it a crime to not carry immigration documents, you might think Mexicans would look forward to something worth celebrating, like Cinco de Mayo. But for most Mexicans today is just another Wednesday, or el miércoles, the third day of the week.

If they had to get up this morning for a job they are not particularly fond of, then they might have referred to it as el pinche miércoles! Today is also just a few weeks after Holy Week, the last time those who could afford it may have taken time off from work to celebrate anything. But otherwise, for the average Mexican, regardless of which side of the border they happen to live on, today is just another Wednesday. All of which is worth noting only because hundreds of cities across the United States, including some in Arizona, are about to celebrate Cinco de Mayo.

Though many people in the U.S. regard this date as a celebration of Mexico’s independence, in truth, Cinco de Mayo marks the Battle of Puebla and the Mexican army’s defeat of a much larger and better-equipped French army attempting to conquer its weakened government. The victory was short-lived, as the French took over the country a year later and remained in power for the next three years.

The battle itself reportedly lasted only from dawn to early evening on May 5, 1861. Compared to Mexico’s fight for independence against the Spanish empire, a struggle that lasted for more than 10 years, or the U.S.-Mexico War, which led to the defeated nation losing two-thirds of its territory — including those areas now known as Texas, New Mexico, Arizona, and California — the Battle of Puebla was little more than a skirmish in the country’s long and bloody history. Today in Mexico, Cinco de Mayo will be commemorated primarily in the state of Puebla and recognized during a small ceremony in the capitol.

The holiday, which has never really been much of one in Mexico, crossed over to this side of the border in the 1950s and 1960s, as civil rights activists were attempting to build harmony between the two countries and cultures. The date gained more attention in the 1980s when marketers, particularly beer companies, saw this as a perfect opportunity to capitalize on the celebratory nature of the holiday. This week Cinco de Mayo will be celebrated with festivals and parades in places like Raleigh, North Carolina; Midvale, Utah; Atlanta, Georgia; Omaha, Nebraska; some with large Mexican or Mexican-American populations but many without.

Truth is the more significant holiday for Mexicans is Dieciséis de Septiembre, the start of Mexico’s struggle for independence after almost 300 years of Spanish dominance. In this case, the celebration begins late on September 15, the eve of the actual call for arms. The president of Mexico stands on the balcony of the national palace, gazing out at the hundreds of thousands of his countrymen gathered in the zocalo, and declares Mexico’s independence from outside rule.

So why do we celebrate the lesser of the two Mexican holidays? One reason may be that Cinco de Mayo happens to fall closer to the start of the summer season, only a few weeks before Memorial Day; while Dieciséis de Septiembre, clearly more notable of the two holidays, has the misfortune of falling after summer and Labor Day, when everyone has gone back inside.

Of course, if you happen to not speak Spanish, Cinco de Mayo is much easier to pronounce, no matter of how many margaritas are involved. So a facility with the language and how this lends itself to marketing products around the holiday certainly must also play a role.

Just imagine a beer company trying to fit Dieciséis de Septiembre on a beer koozie.

Every year we prefer to celebrate Mexico’s history on our terms, whether that history is accurate or only convenient. But then again, isn’t the United States’ relationship with Mexico all about convenience?

We want the cheap labor of undocumented workers — cheaper construction workers, cheaper maids, cheaper nannies, cheaper day laborers — but in many places like Arizona, they don’t actually want these same people in our country. We want the benefits they provide, but we don’t want to have to think about the cost of those benefits.

We want their labor, but we don’t want to have to think about them as anything other than labor. To do so would be to acknowledge them as people, acknowledge that they come with a history worth honoring, and maybe, even acknowledge that we are part of the reason they are now here in this country.

Casares, a native of Brownsville, is the author of “Amigoland” and teaches creative writing at the University of Texas at Austin.

Students booted from school for wearing American flag T-shirts; Roger Ebert proposes solution

LA Times

Sure, it all makes sense.

Why should American kids be allowed to wear T-shirts with the American flag printed on them in America?

Thankfully one high school administrator was equally outraged and sent the offenders home for it.

Five kids attending Live Oak High School in Morgan Hill, Calif., decided to wear patriotic clothing (T-shirts and bandannas with the American flag on them) on Cinco de Mayo.  Assistant Principal Miguel Rodriguez told them that the clothing was inappropriate for the holiday and to ditch the bandannas and turn their shirts inside out or go home.

The kids chose option B.  And now the town of Morgan Hill finds itself in the middle of a controversy.

One of the students, Daniel Galli, said school officials told him they could wear their patriotic garb any other day, but “but today is sensitive to Mexican Americans because it’s supposed to be their holiday so we were not allowed to wear it today.”

That’s what Annicia Nunez, another Live Oak High student, thinks: “We don’t deserve to be get disrespected like that. We wouldn’t do that on Fourth of July.”

The school district seems to be wincing at the whole affair releasing a statement Thursday explaining that they “don’t prohibit nor do we discourage wearing patriotic clothing.”

“The incident on May 5 at Live Oak High School is extremely unfortunate,” the statement reads. “While campus safety is our primary concern and administrators made decisions yesterday in an attempt to ensure campus safety, students should not, and will not, be disciplined for wearing patriotic clothing. This matter is under investigation and appropriate action will be taken.”

Meanwhile, the issue has erupted in the blogosphere.

“What country is Morgan Hill in again?” asks conservative blogger Conn Carroll. “When Americans celebrate St. Patrick’s Day or Columbus Day, don’t we always see American flags flying right along side Irish and Italian ones? Why are the Mexican Americans at Live Oak High so insulted by the flag of the country that they live in? Do they not consider themselves Americans first?

Progressives might disagree with Carroll.  They may argue that the students’ actions fly in the face of all President Obama has done to apologize to the rest of the world for our country.

Like film critic Roger Ebert.  He has a solution.

“Kids who wear American Flag T-shirts on 5 May should have to share a lunchroom table with those who wear a hammer and sickle on 4 July,” he tweeted.

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