Archive for November, 2012


Source: (NAF): The Year of the Drone

Estimated Total Deaths from U.S. Drone Strikes in Pakistan, 2004 – 2012*

Year Militant Low Militant High Unknown Low Unknown High Civ Low Civ High Total Low Total High
2012 207 328 2 4 1 1 210 333
2011 336 535 27 58 3 9 366 599
2010 579 991 16 20 11 16 608 1028
2009 266 538 59 158 23 27 350 721
2008 176 289 21 22 20 32 219 344
04-07 54 88 5 6 95 107 155 200
Total 1618 2769 130 268 153 192 1908 3225

*Through October 24, 2012

4 More Drones! Robot Attacks Are on Deck for Obama’s Next Term

Mission

The mission of the Navy Unmanned Combat Air System (UCAS) Aircraft Carrier Demonstration (UCAS-D) is to mature technologies for a carrier (CV) suitable, low observable (LO) relevant, unmanned air system (UAS), while reducing risk for UAS carrier integration and developing the critical data necessary to support potential follow-on acquisition programs.

Description

In the 2005 Quadrennial Defense Review, the Navy was directed to restructure the Joint Unmanned Combat Air System (J-UCAS) program and develop an unmanned, longer- range carrier-based aircraft capable of being air-refueled to provide greater aircraft carrier standoff capability, to expand payload and launch options, and to increase naval reach and persistence.

The Navy UCAS program will develop and demonstrate a CV suitable, LO relevant, unmanned air system in support of persistent, penetrating surveillance, and penetrating strike capability in high threat areas.

The Navy UCAS program will evolve technologies required to conduct Launch, Recovery, and Carrier Controlled Airspace (CCA) operations and Autonomous Aerial Refueling (AAR) of an LO platform. In FY13, the Navy plans to achieve UCAS CV demonstration objectives.

In FY14, the Navy plans to achieve probe & drogue (USN style) and boom/receptacle (USAF style) AAR demonstration with an unmanned platform.

The X-47B made a successful first flight in February 2011 and  is now at NAS Patuxent River, Md., undergoing shore-based carrier suitability testing in preparation for sea trials in 2013.

Specifications

Overall Length: 38.2 feet
Wingspan: 62.1 Feet
Height: 10.4 feet
Aircraft Carrier Takeoff Gross Weight: approximately 44,500 pounds
Speed: High subsonic
Power Plant: one Pratt & Whitney F100-220U engine
Payload Provisions: 4500 pounds, plus allowance for electro-optical, infrared, radar and electronic support measures sensors
Autonomous Aerial Refueling Provisions: US Navy and US Air Force styles
Contractor: Northrop Grumman Corporation

Program Status

ACAT: Pre-Major Defense Acquisition Program (MDAP)
Production Phase: Demo
Inventory: 2

US Navy’s X-47B UCAS successfully completes first shore-based trials

The US Navy and Northrop Grumman have successfully completed first shore-based trials of control display unit (CDU), in support of the X-47B unmanned combat air system (UCAS) demonstrator at Naval Air Station Patuxent River, Maryland, US.

During the testing earlier this month, the team used Northrop-built CDU to control the X-47B’s engine thrust to move the aircraft forward, brake and stop, as well as executed precision turns using nose wheel steering.

The new wireless, handheld device also validated its capability to efficiently manoeuvre the X-47B UCAS into a catapult or out of the landing area following a mock carrier landing.

Northrop Grumman’s UCAS-D test director Daryl Martis said: “The CDU will help streamline and enable many of the flight test operations required for UCAS-D shore-based carrier suitability testing.

“Instead of towing the aircraft out to the flight line, we can now start the X-47B outside its hangar, then use the CDU to taxi it out to the runway, or into a catapult for launch.”

The UCAS-D programme is scheduled to conduct first shore-based catapults of X-47B aircraft to demonstrate CDU capability onboard aircraft carrier, later this month.

In 2013, the programme aims to validate the X-47B performance to safely operate from a US Navy aircraft carrier, including launch, recovery, and air traffic control operations.

As part of UCAS-D programme, the team is also planning to mature technologies required for potential future navy unmanned air system programmes.

Northrop-led team for UCAS-D programme comprises GKN Aerospace, Lockheed Martin, Pratt & Whitney, Eaton, General Electric, UTC Aerospace Systems, Dell, Honeywell, Moog, Wind River, Parker Aerospace and Rockwell Collins.

Mission

Beginning in mid-December 2008, in response to a Secretary of Defense Deployment Order, BAMS-D dispatched a portion of its system in support of the Warfighter as part of an active Navy maritime patrol unit.

Over the course of eight months, BAMS-D flew over 800 combat hours in support of the U.S. Fifth Fleet. During that time, BAMS-D has continued to collect lessons learned for BAMS UAS and the Navy ISR Family of Systems in an operational arena—while maintaining the capability for experimentation and demonstration at NAS Patuxent River.

The Navy’s RQ-4A BAMS-D is currently directed by Commander, Patrol and Reconnaissance Wing 5, and will transition to Wing 2 in September 2009. The BAMS-D team continues to support Fleet operational requirements in theater while concurrently providing training and testing capabilities at Patuxent River, Md.


Specifications

Primary Function: Specifically tailored for maritime and littoral intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance missions. The BAMS-D system currently consists of two Block 10 RQ-4A air vehicles, one Mission Control Element (MCE), two Launch and Recovery Elements (LRE) plus one Tactical Auxiliary Ground Station (TAGS).

Contractor: Northrop Grumman
Date Deployed: January 2009
Propulsion: 1 Rolls-Royce AE3007H turbofan
Endurance: 31 hours (with reserves)
Length: 44.0 feet (13.4 meters)
Wingspan:  116 feet (35.4 meters)
Height: 15.2 feet (4.6 meters)
Weight: Max design gross take-off: 25,600 pounds (11,612 kilograms)
Airspeed: 340knots (approximately 391 mph)
Ceiling: 60,000 feet (18,288 meters)
Range: 10,500nautical miles (19,446 kilometers)
Crew: 4 per ground station (2 pilots and 2 sensor operators)
Sensors: Automatic Identification System (AIS) receiver, Electronic Support Measures (ESM) and the following side-looking sensors: Electro-Optical/Infrared(EO/IR) camera, maritime-enabled Synthetic Aperture Radar (SAR) and Inverse Synthetic Aperture Radar (ISAR)

Program Status

ACAT: Non-ACAT Program
Production Phase: Low Rate Initial Production (LRIP), all systems delivered
Inventory: 2 (Navy)
Projected Inventory: 2 (Navy)

The Next Wave – Swarming Underwater Drones

Experimentation with large numbers of low cost quadrotors operating in swarms has produced some interesting results, including potential for future military applications.

Now some researchers in Germany are working to transition these concepts to the underwater realm, building autonomous underwater vehicles (AUVs) that behave like fish in a school.

A team at the University of Luebeck’s Institute of Computer Engineering has developed an affordable AUV designed for environmental surveys called MONitoring System and Underwater Navigation Robot (MONSUN) II.

Another challenge with conventional AUV operation is underwater navigation.  Because at least one of the AUVs will always be at the surface, the entire swarm can get an idea of its position relative to the fix from the surfaced vehicle’s GPS.

Currently, MONSUN uses very short range infrared sensors to maintain the relative position of each vehicle, but eventually, the vehicles will be equipped with acoustic modems capable of communicating with each other out to approximately 50 meters.  A second well known UUV issue is limited duration and energy consumption.

The MONSUN AUVs are positively buoyant, so the surfaced vehicles can save battery power by turning off their vertical thrusters and cameras. In this manner, the energy load is balanced throughout the swarm, leaving the vehicles underwater to continue their surveys, and extending the mission duration for the entire swarm. The surfaced vehicles can also transmit data collected by the swarm to a ship or other base.

Drones: Here to stay

CBSA: ANALYSIS OF THE FY 2013 DEFENSE BUDGET AND SEQUESTRATION (PDF)

Historical Perspectives

Three metrics are commonly used to compare the current level of defense spending to previous levels, each of which can lead to different conclusions about the current state of

the defense budget. The first is defense spending in inflation-adjusted dollars. A total of $647 billion is included in the FY 2013 request for national defense (both the discretionary and mandatory parts of the 050 budget function).

 As Figure 4 shows, defense spending since World War II has risen and fallen in cycles. The most recent buildup in defense spending began in FY 1999 and accelerated after the terrorist attacks of 9/11. Spending on national defense remains relatively high by post-World War II standards when viewed in inflation-adjusted dollars.

 By this measure, total national defense spending, even if war funding is removed, remains near the previous peak in FY 1985 of $561 billion (in FY 2013 dollars). The FYDP projects that the base national defense budget will stay at this level through FY 2017.

 

Figure 4

The national defense budget is 4.0 percent of GDP in the FY 2013 budget request and 3.4 percent if war funding is excluded. This is well below the post-World War II average of 6.4 percent of GDP.

Moreover, the FYDP projects that the base national defense budget will decline as a percentage of GDP to 3.0 percent in FY 2017—roughly the level it was in FY 2001. The apparent discrepancy between defense spending being near a peak level in inflation-adjusted dollars but not as a percent of GDP is due to the different rates of growth in the defense budget and national economic output.

National defense spending has grown and declined several times since the end of World War II. GDP, in contrast, has grown at a relatively steady pace, averaging real annual growth of 3.2 percent from 1947 to 2012. In periods when defense spending and GDP grow at nearly the same rate, defense spending as a percent of GDP remains steady.

But when GDP grows at a faster rate than defense spending, defense spending as a percent of GDP declines. Defense spending as a percentage of GDP does not indicate whether or not defense spending is increasing or decreasing.

Rather, it indicates the share of national economic output devoted to defense. Given the size of the U.S. economy, the current level of defense spending appears affordable by historical standards.

Another metric often used for comparison is national defense spending as a fraction of overall federal government spending. By this measure, national defense has ranged between 16 percent and 70 percent since the end of World War II, averaging 33 percent of the federal budget.

Over the past 20 years, national defense spending has averaged 18.5 percent of the federal budget, the same level proposed in the FY 2013 request including war funding, or 15.2 percent if war funding is excluded.

This compares to 23 percent for social security, 14 percent for Medicare, 7 percent for Medicaid, 6 percent for interest on the national debt, and 14 percent for all non-defense discretionary spending in the FY 2013 request.

Together, these three metrics—national defense spending in inflation adjusted dollars, as a percentage of GDP, and as a percentage of total federal spending—indicate that defense spending is at a high level by historical standards but is affordable given the size of the U.S. economy and is consistent with modern-day norms as a portion of overall federal spending.

 

Sequestration

When Congress passed the Budget Control Act of 2011, it set into motion a process for cutting federal spending across both defense and non-defense accounts. Because the

Super Committee did not agree to additional deficit reduction, the law requires an automatic sequestration of funds beginning on January 2, 2013. The following section walks through how sequestration would affect the DoD budget and the impact it would have on major accounts.

Mechanics

The mechanics of how sequestration would be implemented in the DoD budget can be divided into two parts. The first part is the calculation of the dollar amount of the reduction required. The BCA sets a cap on total national defense funding, defined as the 050 budget function. For FY 2013, this cap starts at $546 billion.

Funding is then reduced by $54.7 billion because the Joint Select Committee on Deficit Reduction (a.k.a. the Super Committee) failed to achieve any of the $1.2 trillion in deficit reduction it was charged to find. The effective budget cap for the FY 2013 discretionary national defense budget is $491 billion. The budget caps for future years would be reduced by an identical amount of $54.7 billion.

The BCA requires that the national defense budget for FY 2013 be reduced to $491 billion through a process known as sequestration. The amount of the reduction depends on the budget in effect at the time.

If a continuing resolution is in effect, for example, the amount of the reduction would be the difference between the annualized amount of budget authority under the continuing resolution and $491 billion. This analysis assumes the level of funding in the FY 2013 budget request is effect. If a higher level of funding is in place, the reduction required will be larger.

The total amount of discretionary national defense funding in the FY 2013 request is $639 billion, including $88.5 billion for OCO. The BCA specifies that any funding designated as OCO-related is not counted against the budget cap.

Thus, the total amount of national defense funding in the request that would count against the budget cap is $551 billion, or $59.2 billion higher than the effective budget cap of $491 billion. The base DoD budget is $525 billion, or 95.4 percent of the 050 national defense budget function. DoD would therefore receive 95.4 percent of the cuts, or $56.5 billion.

The second part of sequestration is the application of these cuts to defense accounts. The BCA specifies that the reductions be applied as a uniform percentage cut across all accounts, which means virtually every part of DoD would be affected. The only significant discretion allowed under the law is that the president can exempt military personnel accounts, which the Obama administration has already notified Congress it intends to do.

But exempting these accounts does not decrease the dollar amount of cuts required. The same amount of reduction must be divided among all non-exempt accounts, resulting in larger cuts to O&M, procurement, RDT&E, and military construction.

The uniform percentage cut is applied to total available funding in non-exempt accounts at the time of sequestration. The total available funding includes whatever budget authority is in place for FY 2013, including OCO funding, and unobligated balances from previous years.

While OCO funding does not affect the dollar amount of the cuts because it does not count against the budget cap, it does affect the calculation of the percentage cut required across non-exempt accounts. The FY 2013 request includes $525 billion for the base DoD budget and $88.5 billion for OCO.

The DoD Comptroller also projects that $81.6 billion will be carried forward in unobligated funds, although the exact amount of unobligated balances will not be known until just before sequestration occurs. Using these values, a total of $696 billion would be available in DoD accounts. Some $149 billion of this is in military personnel accounts, which would be exempt from sequestration.

What Sequestration Will Not Do

While sequestration will affect nearly every part of DoD, it also important to note several things sequestration will not do.

  • No Base Closures: The law specifically states that “No actions taken by the President … may result in a domestic base closure or realignment that would otherwise be subject to section 2687 of title 10, United States Code.”
  • No Layoffs or Furloughs of Military Personnel: Because the president has already given notice to Congress that he will exempt military personnel accounts in the event of sequestration, no members of the uniformed military, whether in the active or reserve component, would be separated from the Service because of sequestration.
  • No Reductions in Pay for Military Personnel: Basic pay, allowances for housing and subsistence, retirement pay, special pays and bonuses, and many other benefits would not be affected by sequestration because they are funded through military personnel accounts. The one notable exception is military healthcare, which is primarily funded through the Defense Health Program in the O&M section of the budget. Because this is an O&M account rather than a military personnel account, it would be subject to sequestration. To avoid a reduction in healthcare services, DoD would need Congressional approval to reprogram approximately $3 billion from other accounts to restore full funding for military healthcare.
  • No Immediate Program Terminations: While sequestration will reduce funding for nearly all acquisition programs across DoD, it will not directly terminate programs. An across-the-board reduction will force DoD to renegotiate many contracts to be able to buy in smaller quantities since less funding will be available. This would likely cause unit costs to rise and reduce the Department’s purchasing power, which could cause DoD to reconsider continuing some acquisition programs in the future, particularly if the cuts currently mandated under the BCA for FY 2014 to FY 2021 remain in effect. But sequestration alone will not result in the immediate termination of acquisition programs.

Military Personnel Costs

Total military personnel-related costs, including the Defense Health Program, are $168 billion or 32 percent of the proposed FY 2013 base defense budget, as shown in Figure 5.

The budget request includes a number of initiatives designed to reduce personnel costs, including raising the fees military retirees pay for healthcare and reducing the annual  raise in basic pay for FY 2015 and beyond.

If enacted these changes would reduce personnel costs by $30 billion over the FYDP, but Congress has shown little inclination to support these changes.

If DoD cannot control the growth in military personnel costs by changing the compensation system, it will have little choice but to reduce the number of personnel by more than is already planned or take deeper cuts in modernization or readiness.

Over time this will limit the range of military options available to future presidents and, if left unchecked, would eventually result in a military too small or unprepared for even the most basic missions.

Figure 5

Instead of focusing on what to cut and how much it would save, the Department could instead focus on getting better value from its compensation resources. To do so, the Department must first understand how service members value different forms of compensation and how they make tradeoffs between different forms of compensation.

Do service members prefer cash compensation up front rather than a larger amount of deferred compensation in the future, and by how much? Do they prefer some types of benefits, such as free dependent healthcare, to other types of benefits, such as commissary privileges? Do service members value benefits commensurate with what it costs the government to provide them?

Understanding these preferences would make it possible to identify opportunities to both reduce costs and maintain or improve the attractiveness of the compensation system by shifting resources from undervalued forms of compensation to more highly valued forms of compensation.

China Unveils New Killer Drones, Aims Them At Russia

Push to step up domestic use of drones

;(

PILLAR OF CLOUD AND PILLAR OF FIRE

The earliest traditions of the Exodus from Egypt refer to the pillar of cloud by day and of fire by night, which accompanied the Children of Israel on their way through the desert (Ex. 13:21–22).

The visible symbol of the presence of God caused a panic among the Egyptians as it cut them off from the Israelites (Ex. 14:19b, 24a), and continued to guide and protect the latter uninterruptedly throughout their wanderings.

Later generations remembered it as a special sign of divine favor (cf. Ps. 78:14), no less important than the parting of the Sea of Reeds itself. Another early tradition connected the cloud with the *Tent of Meeting.

According to the view attributed by critics to the author of the Elohist account (E), the pillar of cloud served not as a regular escort marching at the head of the people, but as an intermittent presence, descending from time to time to the entrance of the Tent of Meeting when God conversed with Moses (Ex. 33:9–10; Num. 11:25; 12:5).

The priestly authors, on the other hand, taught that “a cloud of the Lord” (not a pillar) with a fiery appearance by night, permanently covered the Tabernacle from the day of its completion, lifting only to signal the breaking of camp for a new journey (Ex. 40:34–38; Num. 9:15–23; 10:11–12, 34; 14:14).

The Divine Presence in Solomon’s Temple was similarly accompanied by the descent of the cloud (I Kings 8:10–11; cf. Ex. 16:10; Lev. 16:2) though the pillar of cloud and of fire did not accompany the Israelites into the Promised Land.

Various explanations have been sought for the origin of these traditions. Among them is the attested use of braziers filled with burning wood at the head of caravans or armies, sometimes placed before the tent of the chief or carried before him.

Others derive the imagery from the *pillars before Solomon’s Temple, which, they contend, were fiery cressets emitting clouds of smoke and flame by day and by night at the time of a festival. Still others point to the smoke that rose from the altar of the burnt offering as the origin of the representation.

The most commonly accepted theory connects the pillar of cloud and fire with the theophany at Sinai, when the descent of the Lord was marked by a thick cloud (Ex. 19:9), by thunder, lightening, smoke, and fire.

Attempts to provide a natural basis for this narrative have pointed to the possible existence of volcanic action in the vicinity of Sinai – which is highly unlikely – or to the sudden outbreak of a raging desert storm. In any event, there can be little doubt that the imagery is as old as the time of Moses, and that the cloud, and, in a lesser degree, the fire symbolism proved effective in communicating the presence of God to the people.

Post-biblical legend embellished the biblical account. Thus, not one but seven clouds descended at Sukkot to envelop and protect the Israelites, one on each of the four sides of the camp, one above and one below, and one which went before them to raise the valleys and lower the mountains.

The Israelites were protected against the elements and wild beasts; even their garments did not wear out or become dirty. Eliezer maintained that the Festival of Sukkot commemorated the “clouds of glory” (Suk. 11b) which were considered among God’s special creations in the “twilight” of the first six days (ARN2 37, 95).

Operation Pillar of Defense (Hebrew: עַמּוּד עָנָן, ʿAmúd ʿAnán, literally: “Pillar of Cloud“) was an Israel Defense Forces (IDF) operation in the Gaza Strip from 14 to 21 November 2012.

It started with the killing of Ahmed Jabari, chief of the Gaza military wing of Hamas. The stated aims of the operation were to halt the indiscriminate rocket attacks originating from the Gaza Strip[ and to disrupt the capabilities of militant organizations.

The Israeli government said the operation began in response to Gaza militants rocket fire, and attacks against Israeli soldiers on the Israel-Gaza border. Gaza militants said the blockade of the Gaza Strip, and occupation of West Bank and East Jerusalem, justify the rocket attacks on Israeli civilians.

The IDF launched more than 1,550 air, tank, and naval strikes against targets in the Gaza Strip during the operation,including rocket launching pads, weapons depots, individual militants, and numerous government buildings, fields, and dozens of houses and apartment blocks.

According to the PCHR, 158 Palestinians had been killed in the conflict by 22 November, including 102 civilians, 55 militants and one policeman.Eight Palestinians were summarily executed by the Izz ad-Din al-Qassam Brigades for alleged collaboration with Israel. The United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs estimated that, as of 21 November, 219 Israelis and 1,202 Palestinians had been wounded.

Declaring that Jabari’s assassination had “opened the gates of hell”,the al-Qassam Brigades and the Palestinian Islamic Jihad further intensified their rocket attacks on Israeli cities and towns, in an operation code named Operation Stones of Baked Clay (Arabic: حجارة سجيل‎, ḥijārat sajīl) by the al-Qassam Brigadesand Operation Blue Sky (Arabic: السماء الزرقاء‎, as-samā’ az-zarqā’ )by members of the PIJ.

The Palestinian militant groups fired over 1,456 Iranian Fajr-5, Russian Grad rockets, Qassams and mortars into Rishon LeZion, Beersheba, Ashdod, Ashkelon and other population centers; Tel Aviv was hit for the first time since the 1991 Gulf War, and rockets were aimed at Jerusalem.

The rockets killed four Israeli civilians – three of them in a direct hit on a home in Kiryat Malachi – two Israeli soldiers, and a number of Palestinian civilians.

By 19 November, over 252 Israelis had been physically injured in rocket attacks.  Israel’s Iron Dome missile defense system had intercepted about 409 rockets, another 142 rockets had fallen on Gaza itself.A bomb attack against a Tel Aviv bus that wounded over 20 civilians received the “blessing” of Hamas.

The United States, United Kingdom, Canada and other Western countries expressed support for Israel’s right to defend itself, and/orcondemned the Palestinian rocket attacks on Israel.  Iran, Egypt, Turkey and several other Arab and Muslim countries condemned the Israeli operation. The United Nations Security Council held an emergency session on the situation but did not reach a decision.

On 21 November a ceasefire was announced after days of negotiations between Hamas and Israel mediated by Egypt. Both sides claimed victory.

Israel said that it had achieved its aim of crippling Hamas’s rocket-launching abiliity,while Hamas triumphed that “The option of invading Gaza after this victory is gone and will never return” and thanked Iran and Egypt for their help.

Iron Dome (Hebrew: כִּפַּת בַּרְזֶל, kipat barzel) also known as “Iron Cap” is a mobile all-weather air defense system developed by Rafael Advanced Defense Systems.

It is a missile system designed to intercept and destroy short-range rockets and artillery shells fired from distances of 4 to 70 kilometers away and whose trajectory would take them to a populated area.

The system, created as a defensive countermeasure to the rocket threat against Israel’s civilian population on its northern and southern borders, uses technology first employed in Rafael’s SPYDER system.

Iron Dome was declared operational and initially deployed on 27 March 2011 near Beersheba. On 7 April 2011, the system successfully intercepted a Grad rocket launched from Gaza for the first time.

On 10 March 2012, The Jerusalem Post reported that the system shot down 90% of rockets launched from Gaza that would have landed in populated areas.

The Iron Dome system is also effective against aircraft up to an altitude of 32,800 ft (10,000 m).

During the operation “Pillar of Defense” Iron Dome made 421 interceptions.After several rockets targeted Tel-Aviv, a fifth battery was quickly installed there on 17 November 2012.

CNN relayed an estimate that Iron Dome’s success rate in Pillar of Defense was about 85%.

Statistics of the operation

Senior Operatives Targeted:

14.11 – Ahmed Sai’d Halil Jabri, head of Hamas’ military wing.
15.11 – Hab’s Hassan Us Msamch, senior operative in Hamas’ police.
16.11 – Ahmed Abu Jalal, Commander of the military wing in Al-Muazi
16.11 – Khaled Shayer, senior operative in the anti-tank operations.
17.11 – Osama Kadi, senior operative in the smuggling operations in the southern Gaza Strip.
17.11 – Muhammad Kalb, senior operative in the aerial defense operations.
19.11 – Ramz Harb, Islamic Jihad senior operative in propaganda in Gaza city.

Number of Rocket Launches Toward Israel During the Operation:

14.11 – 75
15.11 – 316
16.11 – 228
17.11 – 237
18.11 – 156
19.11 – 143
20.11 – 221
21.11 (Until 21:00) – 130

Rocket Launched Towards Israel:

Total number of rockets launched from the Gaza Strip – 1,506

Open areas – 875
Urban areas – 58
‘Iron Dome’ Interceptions – 421
Failed launching attempts – 152

With the United States on track to greatly increase funding for Iron Dome, there have been calls for technology transfer and co-production of Iron Dome in the United States. Just as the US and Israel share co-production of the Arrow III missile system, with Boeing manufacturing 40–50 percent of the production content, there has been support in the U.S. Congress, media and think tanks in favor of co-production.

The U.S. House of Representatives included report language in its FY-2013 Defense Authorization Act supporting Iron Dome with $680 million but also instructing that the Director of the U.S. Missile Defense Agency, Lt. Gen. Patrick O’Reilly, “should explore any opportunity to enter into co-production of the Iron Dome system with Israel, in light of the significant U.S. investment in this system.”

There are media reports that the Pentagon is requesting similar language in the Senate Defense Authorization Act as well as the respective House and Senate defense appropriations bills for 2013.

Adding Iron Dome to the list of high-tech military programs built jointly by both nations would help further strengthen ties between Israel and America

In exchange for the second tranche of deployment funding, the United States is asking Israel for access to, and a stake in, elements of the system’s technology.

On 17 May 2012, when Israeli Defense Minister Ehud Barak met with U.S. Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta, the Pentagon issued a statement from the Secretary saying in part, “I was pleased to inform Minister Barak that the President supports Israel’s Iron Dome system and directed me to fill the $70 million in assistance for Iron Dome that Minister Barak indicated to me Israel needs this fiscal year.”

On 18 May 2012, the United States House of Representatives passed the Fiscal Year 2013 National Defense Authorization Act, H.R. 4310, with $680 million for Iron Dome in Section 227.

The report accompanying the bill, 112-479, also calls for technology sharing as well as co-production of Iron Dome in the United States in light of the nearly $900 million invested in the system since 2011.

On 4 June 2012, the U.S. Senate Armed Services Committee included $210 million for Iron Dome, in its version of the National Defense Authorization Act for 2013, S.3254.

The bill has been reported out of committee and is waiting to be assigned a date for consideration by the full Senate.

Sitrep: Explosions in Khartoum

Soldiers spell out critique of Netanyahu as a ‘loser’ for not using ground forces in Gaza

In 2010, Iron Dome was criticized by Reuven Pedatzur, a military analyst, former fighter pilot and professor of political science at Tel Aviv University for costing too much compared to the cost of a Qassam rocket (fired by Palestinian forces), so that launching very large numbers of Qassams could essentially attack Israel’s financial means.

The estimated cost of each Tamir interceptor missile is US$35,000–50,000 whereas a crudely manufactured Qassam rocket costs around $800.

Rafael responded that the cost issue was exaggerated since Iron Dome intercepts only rockets determined to constitute a threat, and that the lives saved and the strategic impact are worth the cost.

In an op-ed in Haaretz, Jamie Levin suggests that the success of the Iron Dome system will likely increase demands to field additional systems across Israel.

Budget shortfalls mean that Israel will be forced to weigh spending on missile defenses against other expenditures. Such funds, he argues, will likely come from programs intended to help the most vulnerable sectors of society, such as social welfare.

Iron Dome has been criticized as ineffective in countering the Qassam threat for the southern city of Sderot, given the short distance and flight time between the much-attacked city and the rocket launching pads in the Gaza Strip.

Other anti-rocket systems, such as the Nautilus laser defense system, were argued to be more effective. From 1995 to 2005, the United States and Israel jointly developed Nautilus but scrapped the system after concluding it was not feasible, having spent $600 million. The US Navy continued R&D on the system. American defense company Northrop Grumman proposed developing a more advanced prototype of Nautilus, Skyguard.

Skyguard would use laser beams to intercept rockets, with each beam discharge costing an estimated $1,000–$2,000. With an investment of $180 million, Northrop Grumman claims it could possibly deploy the system within 18 months.

Israeli defense officials have rejected the proposal, citing the extended timeline and additional costs. Officials also insist that with recent improvements to Iron Dome, the system is fully able to intercept Qassams.

David’s Sling (Hebrew: קלע דוד‎), also sometimes called Magic Wand (Hebrew: שרביט קסמים‎), is an Israel Defense Forces military system being jointly developed by the Israeli defense contractor Rafael Advanced Defense Systems and the American defense contractor Raytheon, designed to intercept medium- to long-range rockets and cruise missiles, such as those possessed by Hezbollah, fired at ranges from 40 km to 300 km.

The interceptor is a two-stage missile, with two targeting and guidance systems installed in its nose-tip (a radar and an electro-optical sensor). In 2006 Rafael was awarded a contract to develop a defense system to counter the threat of medium- to long-range rockets with ranges between 70 km and 250 km.

In order to enable Israel to make use of the financial aid provided by the United States to further develop the system and to produce it, a partnership was established with Raytheon which will develop the missile firing unit and overall logistic system and assist Rafael with developing the interceptor.

In some of Raytheon’s publications, the interceptor is referred to as “Stunner.” As of May 2012, David’s Sling was expected to enter operational service in 2013.

The increasing danger of rocket and missile fire against Israel (Qassam rocket fire from Gaza, Katyusha rocket fire from southern Lebanon, and Iran’s ballistic missile arsenal) has led to the development of defense systems to counter this threat.

In addition to the David’s Sling system, which is designed to intercept medium- and long-range rockets, the Iron Dome system, with which it will be used in conjunction, designed to intercept short-range rockets (4–70 km), and the Arrow missile, designed to intercept ballistic missiles, are already in use.

According to Lieutenant General Henry Obering, former director of the U.S. Missile Defense Agency, “We wanted a truly co-managed program because the United States will be very interested in this for our own purposes.”

On 17 November 2010, in an interview Rafael’s Vice President Mr. Lova Drori confirmed that the David’s Sling system has been offered to the Indian Armed Forces.

On 25 November 2012, Israel successfuly tested the Stunner interceptor missile. The David’s Sling battery, stationed at an undisclosed desert location in Southern Israel, fired and destroyed the incoming missile with a two-stage interceptor.

😉

Since the Iranian revolution, Iranian female solo vocalists are only permitted to perform for all-female audiences. Some women have also been allowed to conduct classes for female students in private homes. Female vocalists may perform for male audiences only as a part of a chorus, never individually.

The prominent classical singer Fatemeh Vaezi, has given concerts accompanied by a female orchestra. She has also performed widely in Europe and the United States. Parisa (Ms. Vaezi’s stage name) has also assembled a five-piece female orchestra.

After 1986 Maryam Akhondy, the classical trained singer from Teheran, started working with other Iranian musicians in exile. With Nawa and Tschakawak she performed in Germany and Scandinavia.

At the same time she founded Ensemble Barbad, another group of traditional Iranian art music, which has been touring all over Europe for the past years. In 2000 Maryam Akhondy created the all-female a cappella group named Banu as a kind of musical expedition to the different regions and cultures of Iran.

For this project Maryam Akhondy over years collected old folk songs, which were sung only in private sphere, where women are alone or among themselves: at the cradle, doing housework, working in the fields, and women’s celebrations.

Maryam Akhondy made it her business to bring traditional women’s songs back to life again. The well-known classical and folk singer. Sima Bina, who is also a visual artist, has taught many female students to sing. She has also been permitted to give concerts for women in Iran, and has performed widely abroad.

Qamar ol-Molouk Vaziri is believed to have been the first female master of Persian music to introduce a new style of music and receive a positive reputation among masters of Persian music during her own lifetime.

Several years later, Mahmoud Karimi trained several female students who later became masters of Persian traditional music.

Him [1927]
Him is a play in three acts that combines elements of vaudeville, the circus, and expressionism. The play was first produced at the Provincetown Playhouse in New York in 1928.
The idea of a dream play may have been suggested to Cummings by the Provincetown Playhouse’s production of Strindberg’s The Dream Play, which EEC characterized as having a “luminous existence” (Miscellany 144).
Strindberg’s play is more dream-like than Cummings’ Him and contains no circus or vaudeville scenes, but it does feature two minor characters named “He” and “She,” a character named “The Poet,” and a central female character (Indra’s daughter) who observes all the scenes and participates in many of them.
The Dream Play premiered January 20th, 1926 and was directed by the same James Light who directed Him (see Deutsch and Hanau 141-42, 158-62, and 285-287).
Him may also have benefited from the examples of John Dos Passos’ play The Garbage Man (1924) and John Howard Lawson’s Processional (1925). The drawing [above] appeared on the cover of the first edition and illustrates the passage in Act I, scene two when Him explains that being an artist is like performing a high-wire act in the clouds.

Jesus was born years earlier than thought, claims Pope

Telegraph (UK) – By Nick Squires

The ‘mistake’ was made by a sixth century monk known as Dionysius Exiguus or in English Dennis the Small, the 85-year-old pontiff claims in the book ‘Jesus of Nazareth: The Infancy Narratives’, published on Wednesday.

“The calculation of the beginning of our calendar – based on the birth of Jesus – was made by Dionysius Exiguus, who made a mistake in his calculations by several years,” the Pope writes in the book, which went on sale around the world with an initial print run of a million copies.

“The actual date of Jesus’s birth was several years before.”

The assertion that the Christian calendar is based on a false premise is not new – many historians believe that Christ was born sometime between 7BC and 2BC.

But the fact that doubts over one of the keystones of Christian tradition have been raised by the leader of the world’s one billion Catholics is striking.

Dennis the Small, who was born in Eastern Europe, is credited with being the “inventor” of the modern calendar and the concept of the Anno Domini era.

He drew up the new system in part to distance it from the calendar in use at the time, which was based on the years since the reign of the Roman emperor Diocletian.

The emperor had persecuted Christians, so there was good reason to expunge him from the new dating system in favour of one inspired by the birth of Christ.

The monk’s calendar became widely accepted in Europe after it was adopted by the Venerable Bede, the historian-monk, to date the events that he recounted in his Ecclesiastical History of the English People, which he completed in AD 731.

But exactly how Dennis calculated the year of Christ’s birth is not clear and the Pope’s claim that he made a mistake is a view shared by many scholars.

The Bible does not specify a date for the birth of Christ. The monk instead appears to have based his calculations on vague references to Jesus’s age at the start of his ministry and the fact that he was baptised in the reign of the emperor Tiberius.

Christ’s birth date is not the only controversy raised by the Pope in his new book – he also said that contrary to the traditional Nativity scene, there were no oxen, donkeys or other animals at Jesus’s birth.

He also weighs in on the debate over Christ’s birthplace, rejecting arguments by some scholars that he was born in Nazareth rather than Bethlehem.

John Barton, Professor of the Interpretation of the Holy Scripture at Oriel College, Oxford University, said most academics agreed with the Pope that the Christian calendar was wrong and that Jesus was born several years earlier than commonly thought, probably between 6BC and 4BC.

“There is no reference to when he was born in the Bible – all we know is that he was born in the reign of Herod the Great, who died before 1AD,” he told The Daily Telegraph. “It’s been surmised for a very long time that Jesus was born before 1AD – no one knows for sure.”

The idea that Christ was born on Dec 25 also has no basis in historical fact. “We don’t even know which season he was born in. The whole idea of celebrating his birth during the darkest part of the year is probably linked to pagan traditions and the winter solstice.”

Victoria and Albert Museum

Light From The Middle East

13 November 2012 – 7 April 2013. The first major exhibition of contemporary photography from and about the Middle East, Light from the Middle East: New Photography features over 90 works by some of the most exciting artists from across the region.

Photography is a powerful and persuasive means of expression. Its immediacy and accessibility make it an ideal choice for artists confronting the social challenges and political upheavals of the Middle East today.

Light from the Middle East: New Photography presents work by artists from across the Middle East (spanning North Africa to Central Asia), living in the region and in diaspora.

The exhibition explores the ways in which these artists investigate the language and techniques of photography. Some use the camera to record or bear witness, while others subvert that process to reveal how surprisingly unreliable a photograph can be.

The works range from documentary photographs and highly staged tableaux to images manipulated beyond recognition. The variety of approaches is appropriate to the complexities of a vast and diverse region.

Light from the Middle East is divided into three sections, Recording, Reframing and Resisting, each of which focuses on a different approach to the medium of photography.

New Rolling Stones video released featuring Dragon Tattoo star Noomi Rapace

The Rolling Stones have released a new video for their single Doom and Gloom which features a topless Noomi Rapace.

The controversial video for new single Doom and Gloom comes complete with actress Noomi Rapace topless, vomiting and with her head exploding.

The film – to promote the band’s single Doom And Gloom, which came out last month – also shows her shooting the heads off zombies, flashing at motorists and with her teeth smeared with blood.

Swedish star Rapace found worldwide acclaim when she starred in the screen adaptation of The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo, and its follow-ups.

 The video has been directed by fellow Swede Jonas Akerlund who made Madonna’s Ray Of Light video, as well as a controversial video for Prodigy hit Smack My Bitch Up.

Rapace is seen taking over vocal duties for the Rolling Stones from Sir Mick Jagger, as well as filling the drum stool alongside Charlie Watts.

The band filmed their section in a warehouse in Paris, where they had been staying during rehearsals for their handful of live shows which begin at London’s O2 Arena on Sunday.

The actress, who played abused Lisbeth Salander in the Dragon Tattoo films, based on Stieg Larsson’s Millennium trilogy, is seen playing a range of wild characters. In one scene in the Stones video she is topless on a bed of US bank notes.

The band released the single last month and their latest greatest hits album Grrr! is out this week. When the Rolling Stones take the stage at the O2 Arena in London on Sunday to celebrate their 50th anniversary, they will be joined by their longtime bassist, Bill Wyman, and the guitarist Mick Taylor, who played with them in the early 1970s, the band announced on its Web site today.

Jane Fonda Finally Apologizes

Front Page Magazine – By Ben Shapiro

It only took 40 years. But finally, actress-turned-workout-specialist Jane Fonda has apologized for sitting on a Viet Cong anti-aircraft gun during her 1972 visit to North Vietnam.

Fonda, who used her fame to push her radical leftism during her heyday, traveled to Hanoi in 1972 in solidarity with the Viet Cong. While there, she proceeded to blame the US for supposedly bombing a dike system, and did a series of radio broadcasts stating that US leaders were “war criminals.”

Those broadcasts were replayed for American POWs being tortured by the Viet Cong. Later, when POWs spoke about their experiences of torture, Fonda would call them “hypocrites and liars,” stating, “These were not men who had been tortured.

These were not men who had been starved. These were not men who had been brainwashed.” She explained that these POWs were “careerists and professional killers.”

Now, four decades removed, sitting in the lap of luxury, Fonda has decided that the pictures on the anti-aircraft gun were a mistake. Not the actual visit – she stands by that.

“I did not, have not, and will not say that going to North Vietnam was a mistake,” she said. “I have apologized only for some of the things that I did  there, but I am proud that I went.”

But when it comes to those gun photos, then she wishes she’d done something different: “Sitting on that gun in North Vietnam. I’ll go to my grave with that one.”

… Jane Fonda should rightly have been written off by America’s most powerful institutions four decades ago. Instead, she still kicking – and next, she’s playing Nancy Reagan, whom she brags she’ll prevent from looking “too mean.”

“I had to feel history in my bones”

Veteran Spanish journalist Enrique Meneses left his “sordid” country in the 1950s to rove the world, covering major events such as the Cuban revolution

EL PAÍS – By Víctor Núñez Jaime

Fast-forward to the present. Meneses is 83. His face sports insolent wrinkles etched by personal experiences, a thin-lipped mouth that keeps producing one story after another, blue eyes gazing out alertly from behind delicate glasses, a wide forehead, hair that refuses to turn white, and a nose permanently connected to an oxygen bottle. This proud face, now worn out from disease, belongs to one of the leading figures in contemporary Spanish journalism…

It was the afternoon of August 28, 1947 and a collective shiver ran down Spain’s spine when a bull named Islero gored the famous matador Manolete at Linares, in Jaén province. Meneses was in Madrid when he heard the news on the radio and he felt here was his big chance for his first journalistic adventure.

He went out, hailed a cab, and paid 450 pesetas (under three euros) for the 300-kilometer ride. It was night when he got there. He managed to see the doctor who treated Manolete, talked to a few people on the street. The bullfighter died in the early hours of the morning.

He was born on October 21, 1929, just when the New York Stock Exchange was crashing. The Spanish Civil War caught him in Biarritz in southern France, where he was vacationing with his family.

Because of their republican past, the Meneses went straight to Paris, where they would later experience the German occupation during World War II. Later still they moved to Portugal, and when Enrique was a teenager they returned to Spain.

“It was a sordid country, with a very plain, provincial kind of journalism that only discussed three things: soccer, bullfighting and soap operas. Maybe that is why I went for the Manolete story.”

Maybe that is also why he decided to leave. In 1954, after two years at the Spanish edition of Reader’s Digest, Meneses went to Marseille and bought a one-way ticket to Alexandria.

He explored Egypt and made a living teaching French and Spanish, and dubbing tourist documentaries. Then, one day, he thought he would see Africa “from Cairo to Cape Town.”

He covered 27,000 kilometers in four months, returning to Cairo just in time for the Suez Crisis. This was the beginning of his freelance work for the prestigious magazine Paris-Match.

Back in Madrid in 1957, he decided to go to Costa Rica to stop an arranged marriage between his cousin and a “very important man.”

Before that, he thought he would stop in Cuba to check out rumors about a “little revolution” being prepared in the Sierra Maestra mountains by a “bunch of bearded fellows.” Paris-Match thought it was a good idea.

Sending his photo equipment inside a crate of whisky and then flying down to Santiago, he managed to penetrate the sierra, succeeding where many had failed and becoming the first journalist to meet the revolutionaries.

He met Fidel Castro, his brother Raúl, Ernesto Che Guevara and 100 other members of the Cuban revolution. For one month, his exclusive reports made headlines across the globe and have since become prized historical material…

“Wherever history was being made, I wanted to be there to feel it in my bones. There are thousands and thousands of faces that I have committed to memory, like shadows of a life full of joy and sorrow, of silliness and suffering, of pettiness and heroism,” he wrote in his 2006 memoir, Hasta aquí hemos llegado (or, This is as far as we’ve got).

“I regret nothing that I did, but I do regret what I could have done but did not.”

Plenty of Gods, but Just One Fellow Passenger

NYT – By A. O. SCOTT

It is spoiling nothing to disclose that Pi Patel, the younger son of an Indian zoo owner, survives a terrible shipwreck during a storm in the Pacific Ocean.

That much you know from the very first scenes of “Life of Pi,”Ang Lee’s 3-D film adaptation of the wildly popular, arguably readable novel by Yann Martel.

A middle-aged Pi (the reliably engaging Irrfan Khan) tells the tale of his earlier life to a wide-eyed Canadian novelist (Rafe Spall), so we know that he made it through whatever ordeal we are about to witness…

Until the Bengal tiger shows up, and thank the divinity of your choice for that. Or, rather, thank Mr. Lee and the gods of digital imagery, who conjure up a beast — named Richard Parker, for mildly amusing reasons — of almost miraculous vividness.

His eyes, his fur, the rippling of his muscles and the skeleton beneath his skin, all of it is so perfectly rendered that you will swear that Richard Parker is real.

What is and isn’t real — what stories can be believed and why — turns out to be an important theme of “Life of Pi,” albeit one that is explored with the same glibness that characterizes the film’s pursuit of spiritual questions. But Mr. Lee and his screenwriter, David Magee, have the good sense to put all of that aside for a while and focus on the young man, the tiger and the deep blue sea…

 The movie invites you to believe in all kinds of marvelous things, but it also may cause you to doubt what you see with your own eyes — or even to wonder if, in the end, you have seen anything at all.

Piedmont officer is fired over public urination ticket

NewsOK – By Robert Medley

A police officer who wrote a $2,500 ticket to a mother on a public urination complaint against her 3-year-old son has been fired, City Manager Jim Crosby said Tuesday.

Crosby said he fired officer Ken Qualls on Friday, following a hearing Nov. 14.

Prosecutors at the Canadian County district attorney’s office declined to pursue the case against the mother, Crosby said.

Police Chief Alex Oblein said the ticket was written to the mother for public urination, and the complaint was amended to contributing to the delinquency of a minor.

Crosby said Piedmont City Council members received emails about the ticket from as far away as Canada, England and Australia.

“Of course we did receive a lot of notoriety over that,” he said.

Qualls plans to appeal the decision, Crosby said. A hearing will be scheduled before a Piedmont personnel board.

Ken Qualls is 45 years old. Qualls has been in Piedmont over a year and has about 18 years experience in law enforcement, said Police Chief Alex Oblein.

Qualls’ attorney Jarrod Leaman said Qualls is a member of the Oklahoma Police Pension and Retirement System and is looking at options to appeal his termination in Piedmont. A hearing has not been set.

Qualls issued the ticket Nov. 4 to Ashley Warden after he saw her son, Dillan, drop his pants in the front yard of the family home at 4505 Ryan Drive.

Crosby said Qualls didn’t see the boy urinate in the yard, but reported seeing a teenager in the Warden family lead the boy to a spot in the yard.

Oblein said the ticket given to the mother did not fit the situation. It could have resulted in a fine of up to $2,500, he said.

😉

RIP: Larry Hagman

It is with sad news that we announce Larry passed away this afternoon, Friday, Nov. 23, 2012. His family has released this statement:

“Larry was back in his beloved Dallas re-enacting the iconic role he loved most. Larry’s family and close friends had joined him in Dallas for the Thanksgiving holiday. When he passed, he was surrounded by loved ones. It was a peaceful passing, just as he had wished for.” The family requests privacy at this time.

“I was blessed to … witness his heart that was so full of passion and charity and mischievousness,” Mr. Cain said. “His friendship will be missed by many, including me.

Recently on a trip to Santa Monica, I was initiated into a celebration, a ritual that Larry performed with guests as the sun set over the ocean, where we shouted out to the sun as the final sliver passed over the hills. … I know he would want us to stand and shout and celebrate his life and the passion with which he loved and lived it.”

Michael Cain, founder of the Dallas International Film Festival

Larry Martin Hagman (September 21, 1931 – November 23, 2012) was an American film and television actor best known for playing ruthless businessman J. R. Ewing in the 1980s primetime television soap opera Dallas, and befuddled astronaut Major Anthony “Tony” Nelson in the 1960s sitcom I Dream of Jeannie.

His supporting film roles include appearances in Fail-Safe, JFK, Nixon, and Primary Colors.

His television appearances also included a handful of short-lived other series, guest roles on dozens of shows spanning from the late 1950s up until his death, and a reprisal of his signature role on the 2012 revival of Dallas. He also occasionally worked as a producer and director on television.

Hagman was the son of the actress Mary Martin. A long-time drinker, he underwent a life-saving liver transplant in 1995, and although a member of a 12-step program, he publicly advocated marijuana as a better alternative to alcohol. He died on November 23, 2012, of complications from throat cancer.

In August 1995, Hagman underwent a life-saving liver transplant after he was diagnosed with liver cancer in July. Numerous reports state he was drinking four bottles of champagne a day while on the set of Dallas. He was also a heavy smoker as a young man, but the cancer scare was the catalyst for him to quit.

He was so shaken by this incident that he immediately became strongly anti-smoking. He recorded several public service announcements pleading with smokers to quit and urging non-smokers never to start.

He was the chairman of the American Cancer Society‘s annual Great American Smokeout for many years, and also worked on behalf of the National Kidney Foundation.

Hagman died on November 23, 2012, at Medical City Dallas Hospital in Dallas, Texas, from complications of throat cancer. The cancer had reached stage 4 complications and he had been suffering with this for a period of six months.

Hagman was born in Weatherford, Texas, near Fort Worth. His mother, Mary Virginia Martin, later became a Broadway actress, and his father, Benjamin Jackson “Jack” Hagman, was an accountant and a district attorney.

His father was of Swedish descent.  Hagman’s parents divorced in 1936, when he was five years old. He lived with his grandmother in Texas and California while his mother became a contract player with Paramount in 1938.

In 1940, his mother met and married Richard Halliday and gave birth to a daughter, Heller, the following year. Hagman attended the strict Black-Foxe Military Institute (now closed).

When his mother moved to New York City to resume her Broadway career, Hagman again lived with his grandmother in California.  A couple of years later, his grandmother died and Hagman joined his mother in New York.

In 1946, Hagman moved back to his hometown of Weatherford, where he worked on a ranch owned by a friend of his father. After attending Weatherford High School, he was drawn to drama classes and reputedly fell in love with the stage and, in particular, with the warm reception he received for his comedic roles.

He developed a reputation as a talented performer and in between school terms, would take minor roles in local stage productions. Hagman graduated from high school in 1949, when his mother suggested that he try acting as a profession.

Hagman began his career in Dallas, Texas, working as a production assistant and acting in small roles in Margo Jones‘ Theater in 1950 during a break from his one year at Bard College.

He appeared in The Taming of the Shrew in New York City, followed by numerous tent show musicals with St. John Terrell’s Music Circus in St. Petersburg, Florida, and Lambertville, New Jersey.

In 1951, Hagman appeared in the London production of South Pacific with his mother, and stayed in the show for nearly a year.

In 1952, during the Korean War, Hagman was drafted into the United States Air Force. Stationed in London, he spent the majority of his military service entertaining U.S. troops in the UK and at bases in Europe.

After leaving the Air Force in 1956, Hagman returned to New York City where he appeared in the Off-Broadway play Once Around the Block, by William Saroyan. That was followed by nearly a year in another Off-Broadway play, James Lee’s Career.

His Broadway debut occurred in 1958 in Comes a Day. Hagman appeared in four other Broadway plays, God and Kate Murphy, The Nervous Set, The Warm Peninsula and The Beauty Part.

During this period, Hagman also appeared in numerous, mostly live, television programs. Aged 25, Hagman made his television debut on an episode of Decoy. In 1958, he joined Barbara Bain as a guest star in the short-lived adventure and drama series Harbormaster.

Hagman joined the cast of The Edge of Night in 1961 as Ed Gibson, and stayed in that role for two years. In 1964, he made his film debut in Ensign Pulver, which featured a young Jack Nicholson. That same year, Hagman also appeared in Fail-Safe with Henry Fonda.

After years of guest-starring in television series, Hagman’s profile was raised when he was cast as Barbara Eden‘s television “master” and eventual love interest, Air Force Captain (later Major) Anthony Nelson in the sitcom I Dream of Jeannie for NBC ran for five seasons from 1965.

The show entered the Top 30 in its first year and was NBC’s answer to both successful 1960s magical comedies, Bewitched on ABC and My Favorite Martian on CBS.

The show ended in 1970. Two reunion movies were later made, both televised on NBC: I Dream of Jeannie: 15 Years Later (1985) and I Still Dream of Jeannie (1991), though Hagman did not appear in either of them.

In November 1999, after 29 years, Hagman agreed to reunite with Jeannie co-stars Barbara Eden and Bill Daily and creator/producer Sidney Sheldon on the The Donny and Marie Show.

In 2002, when I Dream of Jeannie was set to join the cable channel TV Land, Hagman once again took part in a I Dream of Jeannie reunion with Eden and Daily, this time on Larry King Live.

On the TV Land Awards in March 2004, Hagman and Eden were the first presenters to reunite on stage. The following October, Hagman and Daily appeared at The Ray Courts Hollywood Autograph Show. And the following year, 2005 brought all three surviving stars from I Dream of Jeannie to the first ever cast reunion at The Chiller Expo Show.

Hagman reunited with Eden in March 2006 for a publicity tour in New York City to promote the first season DVD of I Dream of Jeannie. He reunited once again with Eden on stage in the play Love Letters at the College of Staten Island in New York and the United States Military Academy, West Point, New York.

The appearance marked the first time the two performers had acted together since Eden appeared with Hagman on Dallas in 1990.

In 1977, Hagman was offered two roles on two television series that were debuting. One was for The Waverly Wonders and the other for Dallas. Maj Hagman told Larry Hagman to take the role in Dallas. In Dallas, Hagman was cast as the conniving elder son and businessman J. R. Ewing, a man whom everybody loved to hate.

When Hagman read the script for the role of J.R. at his wife’s suggestion, they both concluded it was perfect for him. Seen in over 90 countries, the show became a worldwide success and Hagman became one of the best known television stars of the era. Dallas inspiring several prime-time soaps. Producers were keen to capitalize on that love/hate family relationship of J.R.’s, building anticipation to a fever-pitch in the 1980 cliffhanger season finale in which J.R. is shot.

At the beginning of the third full season later that year, audience and actors were trying to guess “Who shot J.R.?“, now one of fictional TV’s most famous questions to have ever been asked. During the media buildup, Hagman was involved in contract negotiations, delaying his return in the fourth season.

Holding out for a higher salary, Hagman did not appear in the first episode of the show until the final few minutes. Producers were faced with a dilemma whether to pay the greatly increased salary or to write J.R. out of the picture. Lorimar Productions, the makers of the series, began shooting different episodes of Dallas which did not include Hagman.

In the midst of negotiations, Hagman took his family to London for their July vacation. He continued to fight for his demands and network executives conceded that they wanted J.R. to remain in Dallas. From then on, Hagman became one of the highest-paid stars on television.

At the beginning of the 1980-81 season, writers were told to keep the storylines away from the actors until they really found out who actually shot J.R., and it took three weeks until the culprit was revealed on November 21, 1980 in a ratings record-breaking episode.

For his performance as J.R. Ewing, Hagman was nominated for two Emmy Awards for Outstanding Lead Actor in a Drama Series in 1980 and 1981, but did not win. He was also nominated for four Golden Globe Awards, between 1981 and 1985.

He was nominated for a Soap Opera Digest Award seven times for Outstanding Villain on a Prime Time Serial, Outstanding Actor in a Leading Role on a Prime Time Serial, Favorite Super Couple: Prime Time and Outstanding Actor in a Comic Relief Role on a Prime Time Serial, and won five times.

In 1984, co-star (Barbara Bel Geddes) left the show after suffering a heart attack. At one point, Hagman suggested to his real-life mother (Mary Martin) that she play Miss Ellie, but she rejected the suggestion and Bel Geddes was briefly replaced by Donna Reed. Reed was fired from the show, just months before her death in 1986, aged 64, from pancreatic cancer. Bel Geddes returned to the role in 1985 and stayed until 1990.

By the end of its thirteenth season in 1991, ratings had slipped to the extent that CBS decided to end Dallas. Hagman was the only actor to appear in all 357 episodes. He had also made five guest appearances on the Dallas spin-off series Knots Landing in the early 1980s. Some years after Dallas ended, Hagman appeared in two subsequent Dallas television movies: J.R. Returns in 1996, and War of the Ewings in 1998.

Hagman reprised his role as J.R. Ewing in TNT’s continuation of Dallas, which began in 2012.

Rest In Peace Larry

You Were One Of Us…

;(

Marijuana Use Causes Brain Damage Confirmed

Medical Daily – By Christine Hsu

Scientists have confirmed the long-held suspicion that frequent heavy marijuana use damages the brain’s memory and learning capacity.

Australian researchers have showed for the first time that the earlier people start their marijuana habit, the worse the brain damage.

“Our results suggest that long-term cannabis use is hazardous to white matter in the developing brain.  This was especially true for those who had started in adolescence, as we know the brain is still developing during this time,” Lead researcher Dr. Marc Seal, from Melbourne’s Murdoch Children’s Research Institute said in a university release.

Scientists from MCRI, Melbourne University and Wollongong University compared MRI scans of the brain for 59 people who had been using marijuana for an average of 15 years to 33 healthy people who had never used the drug.

After measuring changes to the volume, strength and integrity of white matter in the brains of all participants, researchers found that long-term heavy cannabis users had disruptions in their white matter fibers.

The brain’s white matter is responsible for information passed between different areas of grey matter within the nervous system, and unlike grey matter, which are the brain’s thinking areas that peaks at age eight, white matter continues to develop as people age.

Seal and his team found that there was more than 80 percent reduction of white matter in the brains of users.

Additionally, researchers found that the average age of participants in the study started using cannabis when they were 16 years old, participants who started using the drug at a younger age like 10 or 11 had even more severe brain damage.

“This is the first study to demonstrate the age at which regular cannabis use begins is a key factor in determining the severity of the brain damage,” Seal said, according to AAP.

He explained that marijuana interferes with naturally occurring cannabinoid receptors in the brain and by introducing external cannabinoids into a person’s system it stops their white matter from maturing.

Researchers linked the significant changes in the white matter in the brain’s hippocampus and commissural fibers, suggesting that long-term marijuana use may lead to memory impairment and deficits in learning and concentration ability.

“These people can have trouble learning new things and they are going to have trouble remembering things,” Seal said.

“We don’t know if the changes are irreversible but we do know that these changes are quite significant,” he added.

Researchers said that the findings could not be explained by recreational drug and alcohol use. Researchers will monitor participants for the next two years to detect any further changes.

The latest findings add to results from previous smaller studies that showed that the brain’s memory center, the hippocampus, shrunk in heavy marijuana users.

Wanted for one last mission: call for Bletchley Park codebreakers to crack the D-Day pigeon cipher

Telegraph (UK) – By Hannah Furness

The coded message had been carefully filed in a small red capsule and attached to a carrier pigeon to be delivered 70 years ago.

But instead of arriving safely at its destination, the unfortunate bird got stuck in a chimney en-route and lost.

The message was found by homeowner David Martin, who ripped out a fireplace to find the skeleton while renovating his house in Bletchingley, Surrey.

Historians believe the bird was almost certainly dispatched from Nazi-occupied France on June 6, 1944, during the D-Day invasions.

The mysterious message, which was written in unfamiliar code, was passed to Government Communications Headquarter (GCHQ) in Cheltenham, Glos, in the hope a contemporary professional codebreaker could decipher the words.

Today, experts have admitted they have been unable to unravel the puzzle without knowing more about the cryptographic context in which it was sent.

They have now appealed to retired codebreakers who worked at GCHQ’s predecessor, Bletchley Park, and others who may have worked in military signals, during the war to come forward to offer their expertise.

Those who are still alive are likely to be in their nineties but their memories may be sharp enough to recognise the type of code used, and explain how it could be deciphered.

Amongst their number is Baroness Trumpington, 90, a Conservative life peer who worked in Naval Intelligence at Bletchley Park.

A GCHQ historian, known only as Tony for security reasons, told BBC Radio 4’s Today Programme it would be easier to identify the code if anyone could provide further information.

“We know in other contexts that there are still quite a lot of people alive who worked in communication centres during the war,” he said.

“It would be very interesting if people did have any information if they could put it in the pot and we could see if we can get any further with it.”

He explained modern codebreakers had so far been stumped by the secret message, with no clues as to who sent it or who was intended to receive it.

He added: “The sort of codes that were constructed to be used during operations were designed only to be read by the senders and the recipients. Unless you get rather more idea than we have about who actually sent the message and who it was sent to we are not going to be able to find out what the underlying code was.”

The message in full reads:

AOAKN HVPKD FNFJW YIDDC

RQXSR DJHFP GOVFN MIAPX

PABUZ WYYNP CMPNW HJRZH

NLXKG MEMKK ONOIB AKEEQ

WAOTA RBQRH DJOFM TPZEH

LKXGH RGGHT JRZCQ FNKTQ

KLDTS FQIRW AOAKN 27 1525/6

It is believed to have been dispatched by British forces during the D-Day invasion to relay secret messages back across the Channel, after a radio blackout left them reliant on homing pigeons.

The Royal Pigeon Racing Association believe the bird probably either got lost, disorientated in bad weather, or was simply exhausted after its trip across the Channel.

Due to Winston Churchill’s radio blackout, homing pigeons were taken on the D-Day invasion and released by Allied Forces to inform military Generals back on English soil how the operation was going.

Speaking earlier this month, Mr Martin said: “It’s a real mystery and I cannot wait for the secret message to be decoded. It really is unbelieveable.”

It is thought that the bird was destined for the top secret Bletchley Park, which was just 80 miles from Mr Martin’s home.

The message was sent to XO2 at 16:45. The destination X02 was believed to be Bomber Command, while the sender’s signature at the bottom of the message read Serjeant W Stot.

Pigeon enthusiasts – commonly known as “fanciers” – have called for Mr Martin’s mysterious military bird to be posthumously decorated with the Dickin Medal; the highest possible decoration for valour given to animals.

The dead pigeon was likely to be a member of the secret wing of the National Pigeon Service – which had a squadron of 250,000 birds during the Second World War.

They can reach speeds of 80mph, cover distances of more than 1,000 miles and are thought to use the Earth’s magnetic fields to navigate.

A spokesman for GCHQ said: “Although it is disappointing that we cannot yet read the message brought back by a brave carrier pigeon, it is a tribute to the skills of the wartime code-makers that, despite working under severe pressure, they devised a code that was indecipherable both then and now.”

It’s your funeral – burial culture changes

The Local (GE)

The van of bodies was ready to be driven from Berlin to a cut-rate crematorium in Saxony last month when it was stolen. Families waited for weeks to reclaim the bodies of their loved ones, which were eventually found in Poland.

Their distress was a result of what macabre critics are starting to call ‘corpse tourism’ – increasing numbers of bodies are being driven hundreds of miles to discount crematoria in distant parts of the country.

Reports suggest that some are even making grim farewell tours as far as the Czech Republic in a bid for knock-down prices.

Many German undertakers are deeply uneasy with these developments, blaming tight-fisted relatives for driving down costs – and standards.

Cheapskate loved ones

“Maybe it’s got something to do with this cheapskate mentality we’ve got,” Carsten Pohle, chairman of the Union of German Undertakers told The Local.

“Price is very important. Many of the bereaved are now more careful with money. And eight years ago insurance companies stopped contributing to burial costs, which has certainly sped up the development.

“There are now a lot more discount undertakers advertising,” he added. “You could say there was a price war going on.”

The growth of price-comparison websites certainly indicates a sea-change in attitudes: the days are long gone when it would have appeared inappropriate for the bereaved to make financial calculations.

Domestic coffin producers have been struggling in the face of competition from foreign imports, mostly from Eastern Europe. Discount providers now import two-thirds of their coffins, while domestic industrial production fell by 30 percent between 2003 and 2011, according to figures from the German association of funeral suppliers.

More cremations

Cremation, once a rarity, is fast becoming the norm, and overtook burials for the first time last year. In urban areas the trend is overwhelming: 67 percent of Berliners that die are now cremated, said Pohle.

“This also has cost reasons,” Pohle said. “The funeral is cheaper and you can have a cheaper coffin. People are also more used to the idea of cremations. I’ve had many conversations with people who find the idea of cremations simply cleaner and more hygienic.”

At the same time, speedy anonymous burials – usually following cremation – are on the rise.

Something significant is happening with how the nation is treating its dead. But what does it mean? Does the demise of traditional funerals, ornate coffins and regular grave-tending suggest a culture that no longer respects the dead?

Hamburg researcher Norbert Fischer said the picture was not so clear-cut. On the one hand, he agreed that anonymous burials suggested “a pragmatic, demystified way of dealing with death.”

Less ritual

Yet he stressed that other trends seemed to point in a different direction. “Overall, the biggest tendency had been towards a departure from ritual,” he told The Local.

“This is connected with the personalisation and privatisation of the mourning process, as well as a turning away from the crematory as the traditional place of mourning and remembrance,” he said.

He pointed to the rapid growth in alternative burials, which place a greater emphasis on the identity of the deceased. Innovative gravestones are on the rise, as are communal graves with a certain identity, such as the “Garden of Women” in the Hamburg-Ohlsdorfer cemetery, and burial areas set aside for stillborn babies.

The internet has provided fertile ground for the bereaved seeking new ways to keep memories alive. Electronic condolence books, mourning blogs, even a “virtual graveyard” of obituaries where visitors can leave comments suggest a common desire to commemorate in more immediate and personal ways.

Pohle also said he had noticed relatives placing more demands on funeral companies personalising their farewell. “They have many more individual wishes. They often want a more secular burial with new rituals. The music in the funeral service, for example, reflects this,” he said.

“People no longer want just an organ playing standard pieces, but want to pick music that was special to the deceased. So a widow might select the music played at her wedding.”

Woodland cemeteries growing

The increase in the number of woodland cemeteries represents yet another facet of this diversification. They have grown dramatically since legal restrictions were relaxed in 2000.

“Originally there were no options apart from a traditional burial. Since alternatives were introdcued, more and more people are taking them up”, Corinna Brod told The Local.

Brod is spokeswoman for the alternative woodland burial organisation FriedWald, which scatters the ashes of the dead at the roots of a tree. The company opened in 2001 with one location; it now has 44 across Germany, and is aiming for 80 by 2018.

She attributed the change to demographics and practical considerations.

“There are a lot of single people, and families are smaller. This means there are fewer people to tend to graves. Often there’s simply nobody to do it. Our service takes care of that, which makes it attractive for some people”, she said.

But the main reason for people to opt out of traditional ceremonies was more spiritual, she said. “In a recent survey we found that most people connected the woodlands with the hope that death wouldn’t be so bad.

“They come and find the place just incredibly peaceful, the trees comforting, and the surroundings beautiful, she said. “They think: maybe it wouldn’t be so bad to die. Our society is always confronted by death, and in the end we all just hope that it won’t be so terrible. This sense can be part of the attraction of alternative burials.”

Though the established ways of mourning may be on the wane, it would be hard to argue that Germans are forgetting their dead.

A tale of two cities

The Sydney Morning Herald

Hanoi has the beautiful, other-worldly Lake Hoan Kiem, but Ho Chi Minh City, nee Saigon, has the disturbing, confronting War Remnants Museum. Hanoi has graceful, stately French colonial public buildings, but in Ho Chi Minh City, old Saigon’s historic hotels overlook the Belle Epoque Opera House.

To compare the capital of the Socialist Republic of Vietnam with the first city of the vanished nation of South Vietnam is as absurd as contrasting, for example, Sydney and Melbourne. And who doesn’t love that?

I’ve been asked where I’d go if I only had the time to “do” one place. Well, it would depend on whether I was looking for pho or Ho, a lake or a river, the body of a leader or the ghost of a war …

Hotels

Among old Saigon’s historic cluster of the Majestic, Continental and Caravelle hotels, it’s still just possible to feel you’re in the city of Graham Greene’s The Quiet American, particularly since street vendors try to sell you pirated copies of the novel every time you stand still.

The vastly expanded Caravelle, where many of the press corps lived during the war, retains a little of its former atmosphere in the old wing. At the Continental, you can ask to stay in room 214, where Greene actually wrote every journalist’s favourite novel.

Greene, and various other writers and spies, also enjoyed a drink in the Majestic. Both the Majestic and the Caravelle have rooftop bars that rival the more feted joint on the roof of the Rex.

But the best hotel in all of Vietnam is surely Hanoi’s Sofitel Legend Metropole, a gorgeous, tasteful colonial classic, like the Raffles Singapore, where the bunker that served to protect guests from air raids during the “American War” was rediscovered only last year.

Food

Vietnamese food is some of the best in Asia, if not the world. But you already know that, right? That’s why you’re going. You love Vietnamese mint and lemongrass, Thai basil and turmeric, cinnamon and dill. But most of all, you adore the earthy, hearty, deliciously meaty noodle soup known as pho (but pronounced closer to “fur”).

While Ho Chi Minh City, with its thousands of small restaurants and street stalls, might be the food capital of Vietnam, Hanoi is the true homeland of pho. Try the pho at its finest at Pho Gia Truyen in Hanoi and discover why locals are prepared to queue for half an hour to buy a dish that can be found on every other street corner.

Pho Gia Truyen is hot and crowded and faintly primeval. It looks very much like you could avoid the queue and sit in the fan-cooled restaurant next door, from which they send out a bus boy to collect the pho every five minutes.

In Ho Chi Minh City, the pho at Pho 2000 is reliable. Nationally, the Pho 24 chain is sterile and efficient. If, for some reason, you don’t feel like pho, try the marvellous Lemongrass on the top floor of the Palace Hotel. The Ly Club in Hanoi is laid-back and atmospheric, a romantic place to have dinner while listening to traditional music.

For something cheaper, there is excellent food hall-style dining (except in a prettier setting, with every stall specialising in a single Vietnamese dish) at Nha Hang Ngon in Ho Chi Minh City.

Day trips

Tours from Ho Chi Minh City to the Cu Chi tunnels, a network of subterranean guerilla lines, are hugely and deservedly popular. It is incredible to see how the Viet Cong lived and fought under the noses of the South Vietnamese and foreign armies. Stretches of tunnel have been widened, cleaned and opened to the public.

From Hanoi, it’s a three-hour drive to Halong City, the gateway to the gorgeous Halong Bay, although a day trip barely does justice to the 2000 islands. Most travellers take cruises from here, and they are unforgettable.

Opera houses

The Caravelle Hotel looks out over the Opera House (known officially as the Municipal Theatre) in old Saigon. The Hanoi Opera House, modelled after the Opera Garnier in Paris, is close to the Hilton Hanoi Opera Hotel.

Hanoi has the better-looking opera house, but Ho Chi Minh City’s is arguably more significant, as it was once the meeting place of the National Assembly of South Vietnam.

The Hilton Hanoi takes its name from the opera house because the name “Hanoi Hilton” carries certain negative connotations. But, let’s face it, nobody goes from Australia to Vietnam to look at an opera house.

Water

The lovely Lake Hoan Kiem, with the mystical Turtle Pagoda at its centre, is a symbol of Hanoi and the place to come to watch locals practise tai chi, martial arts and ballroom dancing, but watch out for thieves.

I had to break up a fight between a pickpocket and a tourist outside the toilet block earlier this year. The Saigon River is filthy and widely reviled, but there are stretches between the city and Vung Tau that offer fascinating and sometimes lovely views of life in the city and on the water. Honestly.

Museums

The War Remnants Museum in Ho Chi Minh City, formerly the Museum of American War Crimes, was never supposed to be a tourist attraction but the travellers came anyway. It used to be viscerally moving, a true atrocity exhibition, but has been toned down to suit the sensibilities of the post-embargo US.

But nobody, even the French, cares what anyone says about the horrors of French colonialism any more, and the Hoa La Prison Museum, where the French tortured and executed Vietnamese rebels from 1896, retains all its gloomy, brutish horror.

Later, Hoa Loa became the famous “Hanoi Hilton”, where former US presidential candidate John McCain, a bomber pilot shot down in the skies over Hanoi, was incarcerated – and tortured – for 5½ years. A stilted, unconvincing display shows the lighter side of McCain’s imprisonment.

The Australian War

The Vietnamese call it the “American War”, but about 61,000 Australians served in South Vietnam from 1962-72. Most were based at the 1st Australian Task Force in Nui Dat, about 100 kilometres from Ho Chi Minh City, of which little remains but the Luscombe Field airstrip, now a main road through a village.

Support troops were stationed at the 1st Australian Logistics Support Group in nearby Vung Tau, now a lively, slightly sleazy holiday resort with a so-so beach and a visible sex industry.

From Tommy’s Bar, former Australian infantryman Glenn Nolan (who is knowledgable but not a Vietnam vet), runs tours to Australian war sites, including Long Tan.

It’s a 90-minute drive from Ho Chi Minh City to Vung Tau. The hydrofoils are 15 minutes faster, but they may cover the windows, in which case you won’t be able to see out.

In Hanoi, the only evidence of Australian involvement in the war is a couple of photographs of Melbourne anti-war demonstrations in the Hoa La Prison Museum.

Ho Chi Minh

Hanoi is the place to get your fix of Ho Chi Minh, the Vietnamese guerilla leader and first president of North Vietnam, who declared independence from the French in 1945 but died in 1969, five years before the fall of Saigon and the unification of his country.

You can visit Uncle Ho’s simple Stilt House behind his final resting place and hear unlikely stories about how even the fish in the lake rose to his call. You can take an unenlightening look at the cars in which he drove, and follow the masses around the lake to the One Pillar Pagoda.

But more startling, and unaccountably moving, is a visit to Ho Chi Minh himself, lying embalmed and on public display at the Ho Chi Minh Mausoleum, looking part Confucius, part Mao, part Abraham Lincoln and part Colonel Sanders.

He was a merciless politician whose saintly bearing belied his ruthlessness, but the communist president embodied the hopes of generations of nationalist Vietnamese.

There is little Ho Chi Minh to speak of in Ho Chi Minh City, apart from the name, although the rarely visited Ho Chi Minh Museum in District 4 is home to his sandals and spectacles, which might be of interest to chiropodists and opticians.

Shopping

Hanoi’s old quarter is a captivating maze of 36 streets of shophouses selling the products of ancient and modern trades as diverse as tombstone masonry and DVD piracy.

Reproduction retro-trendy propaganda posters at the Hanoi Gallery include such standards as “Following the road that Uncle Ho has chosen” and “Bravo the great victory of the people and soldiers in the frontier”, along with the lesser-known “Be zealous in injecting the insecticide for spring rice” and “Grow lots of chilli to increase the product for exportation”.

Shopping in Hanoi’s old quarter is one of the great delights of Vietnam, and Ho Chi Minh City really has nothing to compare, although Ben Thanh Market is worth a look for cheap clothing, street food and pirated everything. Designer boutiques are found around the top-end hotels.

Bars

The rooftop bar of the Rex Hotel is often rated as one of the great bars of south-east Asia, but you need a high tolerance of note-perfect but passionless 1970s covers bands to spend any time here in the evening. Chill Skybar, with great views of Ho Chi Minh City from its glass balconies, is a much trendier alternative – although even here there is a retro night on Wednesdays.

Younger locals rate the Yoko Bar, a laid-back live-music venue with covers bands but no cover charge. More cutting-edge is Hanoi’s Cama Atk, a self-styled speakeasy where you might even catch a dubstep act. The Rooftop Bar on the 19th floor of Pacific Place is the spot to see Hanoi from the sky. And don’t forget the Bamboo Bar at the Sofitel Legend Metropole Hanoi.

;(