Saturday, June 25, 2005


Information is not yet complete, but the AP is reporting via Yahoo News that two of America's best have paid the ultimate price serving our country. One was Lcpl Holly Charette.
050317-low-7364D-012.jpg(photo credit below)

BAGHDAD, Iraq - The lethal ambush of a convoy carrying female U.S. troops in Fallujah underscored the difficulties of keeping women away from the front lines in a war where such boundaries are far from clear-cut.
The suicide car bomb and ensuing small-arms fire killed at least four Marines, and a Marine and a sailor were missing and presumed dead, the military said Saturday. At least one woman was killed, and 11 of the 13 wounded troops were female.
The only other Marine identified is Cpl. Chad Powell. Unfortunately, I was unable to find any information on him. I say unfortunate because I do not want to make it seem that his death was in any manner less of a sacrifice than Lcpl Charette's. However, Lcpl Charette's gender raises different emotions.

From the photo caption below, and from her background information here, Lcpl Charette's mission as a Marine, and plan for her future, was to deliver mail. But being a Marine, she was first a rifleman, and was performing necessary duties as directed. Our women in the Armed Forces have performed admirably.

I extend my heartfelt sympathies to her fellow Marines, her friends, and especially her family.

UPDATE: (06/25/05) 3:50 PM CDT) CBS News (Click on video options on right side) is now reporting that the death toll in this attack may be much higher, with as many as five female Marines dead.

UPDATE: (06/26/05) 11:35 PM CDT) Watch Your Six points to a post at Chaotic Synaptic Activity about this attack The concern is equality vs. inequality, a must read. Personally, I refer you to my characterization above: she was first a rifleman. Our female members of the military may not possess the upper body strength, nor the endurance, of their male counterparts, but they remain warriors nonetheless. To willingly face the same dangers thusly handicapped demonstrates conviction and courage that leaves me shaking my head in wonder and admiration.

UPDATE: (06/27/05) 10:45 AM CDT) Here is some information on Cpl Chad Powell.

UPDATE: From Michael Yon's Online Magazine:
On 23 June 2005, the enemy rammed a vehicle loaded with explosives into a truck carrying our troops, ending the lives of one sailor and five Marines.
The 8th Regimental Combat Team of the United States Marine Corps held a memorial for six fallen comrades. [...]

All who gave their lives in this attack are named here. Michael is performing a fine and needed service, also.
LCPL Holly Ann Charette, USMC, of South Kingston, Rhode Island. Holly was born in 1983.

CS1 Regina Renee Clark, US Navy, of Centralia, Washington. Regina was born in 1962.

PFC Veashna Muy, USMC, of Long Beach, California, born in 1984. Veashna's friends said his parents are from Cambodia.

CPL Carlos Antonio Pineda, USMC, from San Salvador, El Salvador. CPL Pineda was the latest of many people from other countries who died in service to the United States. He was born in 1982.

CPL Chad Wayne Powell, USMC, born in 1983, from West Monroe, Louisiana.

CPL Ramona Magdalena Valdez, USMC, from the Bronx, New York. CPL Valdez was born in 1984.

Photo Caption:
Lance Cpl. Holly Charette, a 21-year-old from Cranston, R.I., delivers Headquarters Battalion Marines' mail, March 17. Charette recently deployed here from her home base at Camp Lejeune, N.C., to serve in Operation Iraqi Freedom. U.S. Marine Corps photo by Sgt. Stephen D'Alessio (RELEASED)

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Friday, June 24, 2005

MIT Weblog Survey

Take the MIT Weblog Survey

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Penny for your thoughts?

Penny for your thoughts? Penny for your thoughts? Penny for your thoughts? Penny for your thoughts? Penny for your thoughts? Penny for your thoughts? Penny for your thoughts? Penny for your thoughts? Penny for your thoughts? Penny for your thoughts? Penny for your thoughts? Penny for your thoughts? Penny for your thoughts? Penny for your thoughts? Penny for your thoughts? Penny for your thoughts? Penny for your thoughts? Penny for your thoughts? Penny for your thoughts? Penny for your thoughts? Penny for your thoughts? Penny for your thoughts? Penny for your thoughts? Penny for your thoughts? Penny for your thoughts? Penny for your thoughts? Penny for your thoughts? ......................

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The Price We Pay

(Updates below)

I ran across a post in a blog today (Organizing Notes) that made a claim that the 1700 plus U.S. military killed in the Iraqi theater of the Global War on Terror was inaccurate. Not just inaccurate, but dramatically underestimated. Here is the text:

Recently two separate sources have claimed that the U.S. military is dramatically underestimating the number of GI's killed in Iraq. The claim is the current estimates of 1,700 dead do not count those who died after being evacuated to Germany or other destinations. The sources state that internal Pentagon documents reveal over 9,000 have died. Wouldn't it be nice if the media would lock onto this story as hard as they did the Michael Jackson trial? By keeping the public honoring of U.S. war dead to a bare minimum, Bush has so far been successful in keeping the inquires suppressed.
Disregarding the fact that this blogger has a leftward slant, this post made me realize that I had not considered that the number of military deaths attributable to wounds received in Iraq might not include those that died elsewhere. Unfortunately, the sources were not identified. I left a comment, and later sent an email, requesting the sources, but at this time have received no reply. Searching on my own, Nexis and Google provided no supporting documentation.

I did find one entry from the New England Journal of Medecine, speaking of the lethality of wounds, but with no distinction provided as to where the deaths took place.
Though firepower has increased, lethality has decreased. In World War II, 30 percent of the Americans injured in combat died.3 In Vietnam, the proportion dropped to 24 percent. In the war in Iraq and Afghanistan, about 10 percent of those injured have died.
The Department of Defense offers several breakdowns of casualties here. Nothing that I could find in them to support the above theory.

So what I would like to know is exactly how are deaths attributable to wounds received in Iraq counted, when the death occurs elsewhere? Is this number already incorporated into the reported 1700 plus, is it not reported at all, or is it reported elsewhere, and if so, where?

I hesitated to ask this question, as the last thing I would want to do is provide further ammunition to the anti-American crowd, both foreign and domestic. However, I feel that we should be as transparent as possible is assessing the overall situation, to avoid surprises in the future. I would appreciate any information available. I would also hope and pray that these deaths are already included in the presently reported numbers.

* * * * * * * * * * * *
Update: (06/24/05 9:30 Am CDT) I received an email in response to my request for sources noted above. Here is an excerpt from one (boldface in original):

by Brian Harring, Domestic Intelligence Reporter

Note: There is excellent reason to believe that the Department of Defense is deliberately not reporting a significant number of the dead in Iraq. We have received copies of manifests from the MATS that show far more bodies shipped into Dover AFP than are reported officially. The educated rumor is that the actual death toll is in excess of 7,000. Given the officially acknowledged number of over 15,000 seriously wounded, this elevated death toll is far more realistic than the current 1,400+ now being officially published. When our research is complete, and watertight, we will publish the results along with the sources. [...]

So it seems that the research remains incomplete, and leaky. Apparently what we have is a voice crying in the wilderness, with the determination yet to be made whether that voice is prophetic, or lunatic.

The second source is presented as speech on the House floor by Rep. Cynthia McKinney. I have been busy this morning searching the congressional record for references to this, to determine whether or not she cites authoritative sources for comments made, or we're dealing with either rhetoric, or circular references pointing to the first source.

So far, I have seen nothing that would convince me that the reporting of military deaths related to the Iraq Campaign has been inaccurate, misleading, or false. Comments?

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Wednesday, June 22, 2005

Note to La Shawn

Hmmm. I'm curious about something. La Shawn Barber has apparently been having problems with, I'm assuming, someone who sent an email to her. There has to be a line crossed somewhere, and judging by the actions she is proposing, it must have been a very firm line (again, assumption on my part).

I know how to trace the path of an e-mail, but is it possible to track down the sender’s IP address through the e-mail? Contact me with the technical info.

Update: I figured it out. :) Now I’m going to try to get somebody fired. Stay tuned…

I've only had a few face-to-face conversations with La Shawn, and she certainly didn't seem like the type to get all bent out of shape for nothing. On the other hand, she did seem like she would not hesitate to refer information to authorities as the situation warranted - say physical threats. I'm certainly gonna stay tuned in....

Also, personal aside to La Shawn... You realize, of course, that since you stated publically that you were going to try to get someone fired, that you are now so far out of the mainstream that you will never get that coveted UN Ambassadorship

Eight Sheets In The Wind

solarsail.vlarge.jpg Babakin Space Center / Planetary Society
An artist's conception shows the Cosmos 1 solar sail fully unfurled in orbit. The sail is pushed by the pressure of solar radiation on its eight thin panels, and would be visible to the naked eye from Earth.

Update: (06/22/05 12:08 PM CDT) Looks like it's back to the drawing board for Cosmos. Not for the craft itself, but for the launching platform.
The world's first solar sail spacecraft crashed back to Earth when its booster rocket failed less than two minutes after Tuesday's takeoff, Russian space officials said Wednesday. [...]
Several of the tracking stations reported what could have been weak signals indicating that Cosmos 1 was orbital:
[...] The [Russian] Navy reported first stage firing. Then the signal of the spacecraft was detected over the temporary ground station at Petropavlovsk. But it wasn't detected over Majuro, which had us concerned. And then U. S. Strategic Command reported that they did not see our spacecraft in the sky. Later in the afternoon, we heard back from our man in Majuro that he thought actually he may have detected a weak signal. And then we heard the same from Panska Ves via Lou. That all seemed to add up to a consistent story that while there may have been a problem on board, our spacecraft likely was in orbit. [...]
I have thought long and hard about how to say this without denigrating the efforts, and expertise, of the entire mission. Realizing that the Project has operated on a minimal budget (~$4 million), and thusly lacks a NASA-like plethora of personnel, equipment and facilities, the end result appears to external observers as somewhat amateurish. I'm sure that there were many reasons that they chose an undersea launch from a submarine, probably all financial (see budget!), instead of a land based launch. Note also that another launch was made the same day, of a communications/military satellite, and it also failed. NASA and the U.S. military have also had some spectacular and not-so-spectacular failures in the past. The difference? Monitoring and communications. Money.

So, back to the drawing board. At $4 million a pop, one can launch a bunch of these without coming anywhere near NASA's budget.

Update: (06/21/05 9:15 PM CDT) Here's hoping that no news is good news. After what was reported as a successful launch up until time for orbital insertion, contact was lost with Cosmos 1. From The Planetary Society's Cosmos 1 Weblog:
...we don't know where the spacecraft is. Again, given the lack of detection by Strategic Command the two most likely scenarios at this point are failure to enter orbit at all, or entry into an unexpected orbit. If we don't know where the spacecraft is, we don't know where the radio antennas should be pointed and when they should be listening, which could make it a long search. Hours, days, maybe even a week. We don't know. [...]
I know that all involved are terribly disappointed that the entire launch sequence culminating in a proper planned orbit did not go off like clockwork. Given hard work, perserverance, and maybe a bit of luck, they'll be able to find and activate Cosmos 1. Here's hoping...
Go there and read it, if you can. And many thanks to Emily Lakdawalla, the Project Operations Assistant and Image Processing Coordinator for Cosmos 1, and the blogger.
Update: (06/21/05 4:35 PM CDT) Things are still in limbo:
Here's what we know and don't know. Indications are that orbit burn was received over Kamchatka. That data cuts off. This could be normal, related to the rocket firing; or it could indicate an anomaly. This is unknown. We also know that no signal was received at Kamchatka, and we also know that no signal was recieved at Majuro. From here on in, there's no communication at all wth the spacecraft until it goes over Panska Ves in the Czech Republic. A contingency plan for this is now being put into effect. The Panska Ves, Tarusa, and Bear Lakes stations will send commands to the spacecraft to try to turn it on. So in sum we have some precious data and a lot of silence. We have to wait at least 30 minutes before any possible contact, and possibly longer. It looks like it may be a long night here in Moscow and a long day in Pasadena.
Waiting, waiting....
Update: (06/21/05 4:00 PM CDT) Launch success! Maybe:
A privately-backed solar sail soared skyward Tuesday on a mission to use sunlight for propulsion, though flight controllers are still awaiting confirmation that the spacecraft reached Earth orbit
The PS blog is non-responsive again.
Update: LOL, seems like this is a real MOM and POP operation!
POP is Project Operations Pasadena
MOM is Mission Operations Moscow
Update: The Planetary Society website and Blog are now up and running!
And from the Blog:

Heads up: there are TWO Russian launches taking place today, both of satellites named Cosmos-something. The one besides our own Cosmos 1 was a communications satellite. Apparently that one may have crashed. Some members of the press are mis-reporting this as a crash of us as well. WE HAVE NOT CRASHED. WE HAVE NOT EVEN LAUNCHED YET. We launch at 19:46:09 UT. Stay tuned.

Yep, appears that there was a crash, of the OTHER rocket/satellite.
Russian space officials have called off the search for an unmanned rocket and its military satellite payload that crashed just after liftoff from Plesetsk Cosmodrome Tuesday.[...]

**************** Original post *************************
At 2:46 PM CDT today (9:48 PM GMT) June 21, 2005, Cosmos 1 will be launched atop a Volna rocket from a submerged Russian submarine in the Barent Sea.
Articles available here, here, here, and here. Much more information is available on the website of The Planetary Society, but I cannot bring it up at this writing. The Planetary Society has even set up a blog(latest) about this project (thanks to River Tyde for the pointer to that), but again, their site is currently not coming up.

Cosmos 1 is a privately funded test vehicle to explore the feasibility of using solar sails for propulsion. The project is reported to have cost in the neighborhood of $4 million (hear that, NASA? $4 million, not billion, or trillion!). Private and governmental cooperation is also scheduled:
An experiment to accelerate Cosmos 1 with a microwave beam from Earth will be conducted during a later stage of the mission, making use of a NASA Deep Space Network radar antenna. The Planetary Society must approve the activation of the experiment and will do so only after the prime mission objective of controlled solar sail flight is achieved.
From it's planned circular polar orbit at an altitude of approximately 500 miles, Cosmos 1 should be visible to the unaided eye. Information on when and where to look, and what to look for, is located here.

Hopefully, this project will succeed, and my post title will not prove predictive.

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Tuesday, June 21, 2005

....The Whites Of Their Eyes

Seems that the lede de jour is Space.

As the Deep Impact probe approaches to within 20 million miles of the comet Tempel 1, locked and loaded, ready to fire 'a stake into it's heart', NASA has released new images.
Images taken in May by Deep Impact have been processed to reveal the nucleus, according to a NASA statement released today. The atmosphere has been subtracted from the image to reveal the core.
Go see the pretty pictures! Don't fire 'til you see the whites of their eyes!

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Monday, June 20, 2005

Marking Time, Impatiently

Glenn sez: "BRING IT ON: 'Faster, please.'"

I say: Indeed!

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Latest on Zarqawi

Now this thought had never crossed my mind! It certainly would explain the failure to kill Z. Maybe UBL, too.

Thanks to virtual matter for the pointer.

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Social Security - What's In It For Me?

Courtesy Patrick Ruffini, comes this Social Security calculator. Use it to estimate what your return would be at retirement assuming President Bush's ideas are incorporated in a reform package. Not as pressing as some issues, but foresight and planning now will avoid that Oops! feeling down the road.

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