July 26, 2014

How Goes The Ukraine?

"In war, truth is the first casualty."

From my POV, trying to understand the situation in the Ukraine is like watching a cock fight after someone tosses a smoke grenade. Here's some angles on what may be happening and the risks involved.

Ukraine Army Advancing Against Rebels
The Kyiv Post (a Ukrainian news outlet) reported yesterday that Ukraine army units were advancing against the rebels and recovering previously lost territory after heavy fighting in the Donetsk region. Donetsk is the major metropolitan area in East Ukraine with a total population of about 2 million; the city itself is about 980,000. Rebel forces are reported to be retreating.
While most eyes of the world were focused on the July 17 downing of Malaysia Airlines Flight MH17 that killed 298 people, Ukraine’s government forces continued assaults that regained territory from Russian-backed separatist fighters.

Using everything from small arms and mortars to heavy artillery and airstrikes, they have managed to retake some key cities in Donetsk and Luhansk oblasts [an oblast is a Russian term for an administrative district ~sig94], home to 15 percent of Ukraine’s population, forcing the insurgents to retreat to provincial capitals and their outskirts.

The military is closer than ever to fully encircling the rebels. But the wins have come at a steep cost. Hundreds of civilians have been killed since the government launched its anti-terrorist operation in mid-April.

[...]Despite the significant gains, Ukraine’s military have not been able to close the Russian border completely, and alleges that its positions are shelled by artillery from Russian territory. NATO continues to see evidence of weapons being moved into Ukraine from Russia since the downing of a Malaysian airliner in eastern Ukraine last week, a NATO military officer said on July 23. So long as a corridor remains open for reinforcements and munitions, the rebels will likely continue to fight.

“We have noted an increase in the amount of weapons being transferred from Russia to Ukraine in the last several weeks. We continue to see evidence of the movement of weapons into Ukraine from Russia since the downing of (Malaysia Airlines flight) MH17, which is a cause for concern,” said the officer, speaking on condition of anonymity.
And what do the Russians have to say?
This story from Pravda and this one also.
The Moscow Times says this and this.
And you can date Ukrainian women here

Putin's Gamble?
This Forbes Magazine (not yet the property of the Chinese) opinion piece has a different take on the political acumen of Vlad Putin and the reasons why he apparently is blowing his wad on the Ukraine.
Why would the leader of a powerful country in reasonably good standing want to risk everything by putting himself in the same league with Muammar Gaddafi?

Many say that it is all part of Putin’s master plan, that he has been scheming for years to create a greater Russia and that he has been skillfully moving his chess pieces around the board in order to attain that objective. Yet most Kremlin experts say otherwise. They insist that he is a talented tactician with little taste for broad strategic thinking.

[...]Since the crisis began, he has been taking on ever greater risk—not to mention serious damage to the Russian economy—with negative return. Before the crisis began, Ukraine was slowly moving towards Europe, now it is actively running away from Russia. European public opinion, even before MH-17, has turned decidedly against Putin. Russia’s most talented citizens are leaving in droves.

So it appears that Putin is not only a poor chess player, he is an exceeding bad poker player, constantly raising the stakes while facing a decreasing expected return. If he ever could return Ukraine to the fold—an exceedingly unlikely prospect—he would accomplish no more than a return to the status quo ante.

[...]After the election of Petro Poroshenko to Ukraine’s Presidency came more setbacks. The rebel strongholds of Slaviansk and Kramatorsk were retaken by Ukrainian anti-terrorist troops and they began moving toward Donetsk and Luhansk. So Putin escalated again, sending heavy artillery and more sophisticated weapons, including the one that shot down MH-17.

Miscalculation. Failure. Escalation. The downing of MH-17 is a logical consequence of the pattern. Putin took the actions that lead to the downing of MH-17 because he believes that he has no other choice. He’s stuck, for lack of a better term and it’s not at all clear that he sees a way out. He must either continue to escalate or betray his own ambitions.
After spending two weeks vacation in Croatia, my Army daughter is home for a visit. I asked for her opinion on the events in the Ukraine. Her response, "If they pull us out of Afghanistan completely I don't think we'll be out of a job very long."  Yeah, she's a cynic.

July 25, 2014

Food Inflation

My wife is incensed over the price of food. We eat well, not extravagant but well and we pay for it. Some say that the price of food has outstripped wages. The following analysis posted by Carpe Diem refutes that.

The blue line in the chart shows the 11% increase since June 2009 in the broadest CPI food category “Food and Beverages,” which is one of the eight major CPI groups according to the BLS, and includes (among hundreds of other items that cover all food and beverage groups): breakfast cereal, milk, coffee, chicken, wine, full and limited service meals away from home, and snacks (Note: This is a sample, see the full list of items here). It should be noted in any discussion about food prices that “food away from home” is almost 50% of total food spending for Americans, according to the most recent USDA data (see Table 10). Therefore, I’m using the most comprehensive measure of food and beverage prices, which would most accurately reflect the prices of food for the typical American household. Using different CPI measures doesn’t change the analysis much – the “CPI-Food” has increased 11.3%, “CPI-Food Away from Home” has increased the same 11.3%, and “CPI-Food at Home” increased 11.36%.

Here’s the key point – over the last five years, the BLS wage series “Average Hourly Earnings of Production and Nonsupervisory Employees: Total Private” has increased by 10.8% from $18.57 to $20.58 per hour (see red line in chart). Therefore, the broadest measure of food and beverage prices has increased by only slightly more (11%) than the increase in average hourly earnings (10.8%). Food inflation is not “blowing away wage growth” – it’s basically almost exactly matching it! The BLS wage series used here starts in 1964 and is the measure of hourly earnings used most frequently for historical analysis, given its 50-year history. A more recent measure of hourly earnings was introduced by the BLS in 2006 — “Total Private Average Hourly Earnings of All Employees: Total Private” — and that measure has shown a slightly lower increase in hourly wages since June 2009 of 10.4%, but is still just slightly below the 11% increase in food prices, and provides no statistical support for the claim that “food inflation blows away wage growth.”

July 24, 2014

Who Is She?

Who's that pretty girl? 
Where does she live? 
Why would anybody be angry at her?

She lives in the village of Voorschoten, Netherlands, with her boyfriend who has had cushy jobs with several Russian companies. And why shouldn't he? She's Maria Putin, 29, daughter of Russian President Vladimir Putin.

It is rapidly becoming apparent that the Dutch are none too pleased that she is enjoying herself in a country that just lost 193 of its citizens because her father decided that he wanted a bigger piece of the Ukraine.
Maria Putin’s presence in the grieving nation sparked outrage during a national day of mourning, with the arrival of the first wave of coffins carrying victims from Malaysia Airlines Flight 17.

Ukrainians living in the Netherlands were planning to protest outside Maria’s swanky apartment, and Dutch Twitter users targeted the pretty blonde, with one fuming, “Its time you leave B*TCH” over her photo.

[..] The somber Dutch were disgusted to learn that Maria Putin, 29, was living with beau Jorrit Faassen in the penthouse of a building in Voorschoten, a wealthy suburban village near The Hague. All the apartments are listed with the names of inhabitants except for the top plate, which was left blank, a Dutch paper reported.

In a fitting coincidence, the neighborhood is named “Krimwijk” — Dutch for “Crimean District.”
There really isn't a whole lot to the story, but more here and here.

Also, information on other Putin relatives here. Vlad plays his family cards very close to his chest.

I Know The Feeling...

The Difference Between Texas And New York

On Hannity, Texas Gov. stated the following:
“Sean, there have been over the course of the last five years, since the fall of ’08, over 203,000 individuals who have come into Texas illegally who have been booked into our county jails. Those individuals have accounted for over 3,000 homicides and over 8,000 sexual assaults. We can’t afford to wait for Washington to secure this border. We’ve had enough.”
I decided to take a look.

Texas murders, 2008 through 2012

2008 2009 2010 2011 2012         Total
1,373 1,327 1,248 1,089 1,144 6,181

If what Gov. Perry says is true, and I have absolutely no reason to believe that he is prevaricating like our own NYS governor (stymies State ethnics investigation once his own people are indicated), then illegal aliens are responsible for almost fifty percent (48.5%) of all murders in the State of Texas.

Yeah,  I'd say that Texans have had more than enough.

And here's what our POS governor is up to;  it certainly isn't  looking out for the citizens of New Yawk. This happened a few months ago.

From the NY Post:
ALBANY — The devastating New York Times story on Gov. Cuomo’s political interference with his Moreland Commission panel’s investigation of public corruption pulled the veil from one of the biggest open secrets at the state Capitol: The governor is a liar and almost anything he promises will turn out to be false.

Cuomo’s betrayal of major pledges is well known: the promise to cut taxes in a meaningful way, encourage job creation without government handouts, reduce local mandates, conduct public work transparently and have science — not politics — determine if fracking can be done safely.

But it wasn’t until it Cuomo violated his No. 1 pledge to rid New York of the “culture of corruption’’ that has dominated Albany for decades that the full extent of his betrayal of the public became clear.

People who have known Cuomo for years, including some who go back to the days he served as the thuggish chief enforcer of his father, then-Gov. Mario Cuomo, say they aren’t surprised Cuomo’s penchant for lying has finally exploded in full public view.

“What took so long?” quipped a Cuomo associate who has known the governor for more than 20 years.
These critics, who include several longtime Cuomo friends, described the governor as a master of what one called “making up narratives’’ — story lines that, whether true or not, become incorporated in a political or governmental strategy.

“Cuomo did this with Moreland as he’s done it with so many things: He creates a narrative, ‘crack down on corruption, we’ll get to the bottom of this,’ but it’s totally cynical, manufactured and never real or sincere from the start,’’ said a former public official who has counted the governor as a friend.

Cuomo once privately described himself as a “control freak’s control freak.’’ He selected the commission over a year ago in a move designed to deflect criticisms over his failure to get the Legislature, scarred with yet another round of scandal, to pass a package of ethics reforms.

He promised the commission would pursue all leads involving public corruption in the Legislature and, if necessary, in his own executive branch of government.

But earlier this year, with the heat largely off, Cuomo unceremoniously cut a deal with the Legislature and folded the commission, which had little more than a milquetoast report to show for its efforts.
I usually don't do the NY Slimes, but when this liberal rag criticizes a Democrat (04/10/14), the story has to be truly appalling. Preet Bharara is the US Attorney for the Southern District Of New York.
The governor, many lawmakers believe, had created the commission last July in a bid to burnish his image as a corruption buster. Instead, Mr. Bharara’s decision to inject himself into the issue put a spotlight on Mr. Cuomo’s tactics, not those of the rogue legislators originally targeted by the governor.

The confrontation followed a request from Mr. Bharara’s office to top commission officials asking them to refrain from destroying investigative files, the first step in a possible shift to federal prosecutors pursuing any leads discovered by the panel. Mr. Bharara’s comments came less than two weeks after Mr. Cuomo announced that he had agreed to disband the anti-corruption commission in exchange for approval of new bribery and corruption laws. The commission handed over its files to Mr. Bharara’s office on Thursday.

Several commission members have said that though the files contained some cases that could result in criminal prosecutions, there was no material likely to result in scandals or the arrests of high-profile officeholders.

Mr. Bharara’s comments were unusual in that United States attorneys rarely speak out so forcefully about an elected official who is not a defendant in a pending case. But he has sharply focused on public corruption since his appointment in 2009 and often singles out Albany, which he once said could be found on a map at “the intersection of greed and corruption.”
Greed and Corruption, it's the NY State motto doncha know.

Cupiditas et Corruptione

(Cuomo's Justice - The Blindfold and the Gloves Are Off)

Double Your Fun

The Gilboa Snake, available in semi- or full automatic.

This weapon uses the gas piston system from one barrel to actuate the sear on the other barrel; this is very handy when you  absolutely, positively gotta have a double tap and only want to pull the trigger once.

Unfortunately this violates federal law in that a single trigger pull sends more than one bullet down range. So the gun is being reconfigured for the US civilian market with two triggers and 16" barrels. Since the triggers are close together, you can pull them both at once. Bada bing.

The rifle is manufactured by Silver Shadow, an Israeli arms manufacturer who markets the Gilboa rifle. Apparently Gilboa is in the process of completing an assembly plant in the US and will be marketing this rifle perhaps in the fall.

I can't say how useful this rifle would be but I understand the tactical reasoning for its development and I sure would like to have one just to hear people go "huh?"

And if that's not enough double barreled goodness for ya, there's this DIY pump action:

July 23, 2014

Real Jihadis Of Genius

Seriously Hamas, why do you keep messing with these people?

IDF tanks staging near Gaza

IDF preparing one of their Whoop-Ass Delivery Systems (WADS)

So go ahead. Keep tossing those unguided missiles indiscriminately into Israeli residential areas.

Let God do the aiming because your heart is pure and your goat is still a virgin.

This Bud's for you, Hamas.

Real Jihadis of Genius
(Real Jihadis of Genius!)

Today we salute you, Mr. Jihadi Waging Person
(Mr. Jihadi Waging Person!)

Like Adolph Hitler's idiot children, you continue to muck up Satan's unholy War Against the Jews
(Gotta kill Jews to get to Heaven!)

Your staging of  rockets in Gaza hospitals, schools, nurseries and playgrounds tells the world that you love your children slightly less than the condoms you don't use while pleasuring your livestock.
(Our children love the smell of C4!)

You think the Nation of Israel is going to fold its tents and steal away because you blew 
up a gas station, a soft ice cream stand and Mr. Lebowitz's lawn mower. 
(But we're yelling Allah Akbar!)

Iron Dome missiles make your bottle rockets look like BB's bouncing off a block of granite; despite billions in foreign aid, the stench of failure permeates the miserable slums of Gaza like a falafel left out in the sun too long. 
(Rotting falafels make us stronger!)

So crack open a cold Bud Light, Mr. Jihadi Waging Person, for without you, 
the IDF would be running out of paper targets. 
(Just stand still a little longgger!)

Here's the real thing.

The Ukraine Is In An Unenviable Position

Su-25 Frogfoot
The UAF had 36 of these jets.

Designed for close air support, the Sukhoi Su-25 "Frogfoot" was first deployed by the Soviet  Union
in 1978. It is still used by the Russian, Belarusian, Ukrainian and North Korean Air Forces. During the 1991 Gulf War, the Iraqi Air Force deployed the Su-25 only once. Both jets were shot down.

At least three of these aircraft have been downed by pro-Russian separatists. 

The Ukraine military was armed by the Russians and trained by the Russians. It's tough fighting a war when your enemy knows your tactics, your equipment, your comms and has heavily penetrated your ranks. This is what Ukraine is facing in its struggle with Russian backed separatists.

It's like trying to fight with your right hand while your left hand is punching you in the face.

The Ukrainian government has been requesting military assistance from the US for months. Finally, aid was authorized but restricted to non-lethal equipment in order to appease Putin - and it was slow in coming (I suspect that Obama would only send a few bottles of Listerine, tubes of  KY jelly and condoms). Then last month (June) Obama upped the ante:
After initially denying Ukrainian military requests for key nonlethal aid, the White House on Wednesday approved urgently needed equipment for troops battling pro-Russian insurgents.

The new military assistance includes body armor, night vision goggles, and communications equipment requested by the Ukrainians, but initially rejected by the Obama administration as part of its efforts to avoid upsetting Moscow.

“The United States is working to bolster Ukraine’s ability to secure its borders and preserve its territorial integrity and sovereignty in the face of Russian occupation of Crimea and a concerted effort by Russian-backed separatists to destabilize eastern Ukraine,” the White House said in a statement announcing the aid.
Now after the downing of Flight MH17, more missile action from the Russkies as reported by USA Today:
Russian-backed separatists shot down two Ukrainian fighter jets Wednesday in the eastern regions of the country, according to the Ukrainian Defense Ministry.

The ministry said on its Facebook page that the jets were among four Russian-built fighters that were returning to base after providing air support for Ukrainian troops near the border.

The pilots of both jets ejected from the aircraft, the ministry said. Their condition was not immediately reported.

Defense Ministry spokesman Oleksiy Dmitrashkovsky said the Sukhoi-25 fighters were downed in an area called Savur Mogila in the Shaktersky region near the Russian border.
Su-24 Fencer 
The UAF had 36 of these aircraft. One has been been reported lost to the conflict.

Wow. If the Su-24 isn't a twin of the USAF F-111 Aardvark. Judge for yourself.
Both aircraft have variable-sweep wings. The F-111 entered service in 1967, the Su-24 in 1971.


The site is only a few miles from where a Malaysia Airlines jetliner crashed last week after apparently being shot down by a surface-to-air missile with 298 people aboard.

The latest shootdowns are the first reported downing of a plane over eastern Ukraine since the Malaysia Airlines incident.
Now Ukraine is requesting radar jamming equipment from the US.
According to a former senior U.S. defense official who has worked closely with Ukraine’s military and a former head of state who has consulted with the government there, Kiev last month requested the radar jamming and detection equipment necessary to evade and counter the anti-aircraft systems Moscow was providing the country’s separatists.

Those anti-aircraft systems were almost certainly used to shoot down MH17, the Malaysian air passenger jet shot out of the sky last Thursday. U.S. officials have pointed the finger at Russia for providing that equipment, though no final assessment has been made of culpability for the incident.

Philip Karber, a former strategy adviser to Secretary of Defense Caspar Weinberger, has conducted detailed assessments of the country’s military since the crisis began this year. Karber returned from the Ukrainian front earlier this month. He told The Daily Beast, “I was told in June by the Ukrainians that one of their top five priorities that they had conveyed to the United States and NATO that month was to get help in electronic warfare,” which gives a military the ability to detect, spoof and jam the radars of enemy anti-aircraft missile batteries.
The Ukraine Air Force inherited hundreds of Russian aircraft when the Soviet Union collapsed in 1991. Many, mostly strategic bombers, were sold back to Russia. Unable to provide the funding to maintain these planes, many are now useless and were mothballed or scrapped.

Ukraine military resources as listed by the International Institute for Strategic Studies (IISS) Defense Analysis blog, dated March 2014:

SU-27 Flanker

Mig-29 Fulcrum

July 22, 2014

Sending Aladdin Off With A Bang

Warning: This is pretty gruesome.  

And now I lay me down to die
I pray at my funeral nothing goes awry
But if these fools don't remove my vest
They'll wind up with my femur inside their chest

H/T BlazingCatFur

July 21, 2014

Jonesin' For The Nuggets

Pro-Israeli Rally In NYC

Despite threats of violence, over ten thousand people showed up in NYC to support Israel's fight against Islamic terror.

From Pam Geller's website.
Despite threats of violence, the huge rally for Israel drew tens of thousands of Israel lovers. What an awesome site. The event is under the hashtag #NYClovesIsrael — tweet it, post it, share it. Let Israel know she is not alone in the fight for freedom and life.

I was honored to speak before the crowd and was not deterred by savage threats of carnage and violence.


July 20, 2014

Chicago Marksmanship

There may be some kind of weird gangland contest underway in Chicagotown.

Sunspots Disappear

The sun has the most powerful influence on every planet in our solar system. The sun, not man, is responsible for the development of weather systems and patterns on our planet and scientists still don't understand how the sun works.
"It all underlines that solar physicists really don't know what the heck is happening on the sun," Phillips said. "We just don't know how to predict the sun, that is the take away message of this event."
Story here.