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calendar   Monday - November 02, 2009

KILLED ON THE VERY LAST DAY OF HIS TOUR IN AFGHANISTAN ….

Bad enough these brave young kids are dying and being maimed. That’s always a damn sad thing.
But somehow, to die on your last day of the tour .... I don’t know.  Something seems extra sad about that. Especially when you consider the lives this one Battling Brit saved.
I truly am nothing but upset and very depressed reading this.  Wish I hadn’t.  But then, hell.  Every time I see the reports I feel bad. Which means almost every day because there isn’t any way to avoid it.  And I shouldn’t avoid it anyway.  Neither should my fellow Americans.  These are the kids dying along side our guys.  Just as brave, just as young, just as sad.

Bomb expert who saved ‘countless lives’ killed in Afghanistan
One of the Army’s most prolific bomb disposal experts who saved “countless lives” has been killed on the last day of his operational tour, the Ministry of Defence has disclosed.

By Thomas Harding, Defence Correspondent
Published: 2:00PM GMT 02 Nov 2009

Despite “staring death in the face on a daily basis” Staff Sgt Olaf “Oz” Schmid continued to defuse bombs in Sangin, the most lethal town for IEDs (Improvised Explosive Devices) in Helmand province.

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The soldier, described as a man of “extreme courage”, was killed instantly as he attempted to make safe a bomb left in the town.

He is the third IED Disposal soldier to be killed in the last year as the Taliban increase their bombing campaign against the British force.

Among the great skill and courage in the ordnance disposal teams S/Sgt Schmid, 30, was marked as the “best of the best” defusing 64 of the estimated 1,200 IEDs found by British troops this year.

As well as taking part in Operation Panther’s Claw, a major assault on a Taliban stronghold, he found 31 IEDs during a single operation to clear a road near Sangin in August.

Following his death on Saturday his wife Christina said her husband had been “cruelly murdered on his last day of a relentless 5 month tour”.

“The pain of losing him is overwhelming. I take comfort knowing he saved countless lives with his hard work.”

Lt Col Robert Thomson, commanding officer of the 2Bn The Rifles, who recently returned from Afghanistan, described S/Sgt Schmid “simply the bravest and most courageous man I have ever met”.

“Under relentless IED and small arms attacks he stood taller than the tallest.

“He saved lives in 2 RIFLES time after time and for that he will retain a very special place in every heart of every Rifleman in our extraordinary battle group.”

In one 24 hour operation clearing possibly the most dangerous route in Afghanistan known as Pharmacy Road, he found 31 IEDs.

Lieutenant Colonel Gareth Bex, the commanding officer of the counter-IED task force, said many soldiers in Helmand owed their lives to S/Sgt Shmid’s “gallant actions”.

“The tag ‘legend’ is frequently bestowed nowadays but in his case it is rightly justified - SSgt Schmid was a legend. His courage was not displayed in a fleeting moment of time; he stared death in the face on a daily basis. His sacrifice will never be forgotten.”

He added that the soldier “takes his rightful place” alongside other bomb disposal experts who had been killed - Warrant Officer O’Donnell, who was awarded the George Medal and bar and Capt Dan Shepherd, who died during Operation Panther’s Claw.

The soldier, born in Truro Cornwall, also took part in Operation Panther’s Claw this summer which saw a bloody death told as British troops cleared Taliban strongholds ahead of the flawed presidential elections. S/Sgt Schmid, who worked in a High Threat Operator role sometimes alongside special forces, secured 11 finds of bomb making equipment many of them during the operation.

“SSgt Oz Schmid was a man of extreme courage who revelled in this the most challenging and dangerous of environments,” said his colleague Major Tim Gould.

His actions are likely to make him a strong candidate for a gallantry award, defence experts have said.

The total British lives lost in Afghanistan now stands at 224 with 87 lost this year alone.

SOURCE


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Posted by peiper   United Kingdom  on 11/02/2009 at 11:47 AM   
Filed Under: • Battling Brits HeroesUKWar-Stories •  
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JUST ONE OF THE BENEFITS OF BELONGING TO THE EUROPEEON UNION

Provided of course you’re willing to hand over a bit of national sovereignty.  Which you do if you happen to be England.

At first glance I thought this was going to be a boring story, but I read it and found it to be interesting after all, and frustrating as well.

Meanwhile, construction continues next door on what has to be (when done and paid for) a million pound project.  As in, £1,000,000. I think at today’s rate of exchange, in American dollars it comes to something in the way of $1,600,000. 
Our water supply sits very scarily only a few inches below the surface and at one point is above ground, and runs across the property next door. It’s how they did it when these places were built.  But something happening, or will when they fill in the driveway area in a few weeks time.  Our water pipe will be covered of course BUT .... based on what I see of the area to be covered, that water line is going to be dangerously close to the surface.
Spoke to the foreman this morning who could only shrug and say he didn’t know what was going to happen outside of simply tossing some dirt on top of the line.

So ......  We have called the Water Dept. and they are sending out an inspector on the morning of the fifth.

We’re now 7 or 8 months into probate and still no freekin end to it AND ... the postal service is calling out more strikes while (it is reported) 130 million envelopes are stacking up undelivered.  The service has hired thousands of workers to fill in for the strikers.  But we had mail delivered today.

Notice from our credit card folks we’ve been charged $15 late payment on our USA card for the last statement period.  Not surprised. It arrived at our door only four days before it was due, and the statement showed the payment was only three days late.

Taxpayers give £20m benefits to Polish children - even if they have never stepped foot in Britain

By Andy Dolan
02nd November 2009

Taxpayers are funding child benefit for more than 50,000 children of migrant workers - even though the youngsters still live in their home countries.

Treasury figures show that Poles make up the vast majority of the payments made under a loophole in EU legislation.

Benefits are paid to 37,941 children in the former Eastern Bloc country, who have one or both parents working in the UK.

The cost is estimated at more than £24million a year.

The number of Polish children being subsidised by British taxpayers has jumped by 6,542 in two years despite a slowdown in immigration because of the recession.

Under ‘social responsibility coordinating regulations’ drawn up in Brussels, EU migrant workers who pay taxes in their host country are able to claim benefits and tax credits as soon as they start work, even if they have left their families behind.

The tax credits could produce an additional £100 a week to a migrant with children.

Workers from Poland and seven other Eastern European countries who joined the EU in 2004 are entitled to out-of-work benefits only after 12 months of taxed work.

British handouts are much higher than many other countries’ payments - particularly in Eastern Europe.

In some EU countries, such as Poland and France, child benefit is means-tested.

Migrants living and working in the UK claim the benefit in their home country, but if that works out to be less than the UK allowance, the Treasury tops up the difference.

Where a family is ineligible for child benefit in their homeland - possibly because they earn too much - they can claim the full UK rate of £20 a week for the first child and £13.20 for others.

In Poland, the equivalent of child benefit amounts to between £3 and £5 a week.

The Treasury has refused to put a figure on the total cost of supporting youngsters abroad through child benefit and tax credits.

But even if most of the Polish claimants are not getting the full rate from Britain, the total cost of the payouts to Polish families alone is estimated at more than £24million a year.

The total for all 50,586 EU children would come to around £33million.

Philip Hammond, the Tory Treasury spokesman, said: ‘With Britain facing a debt crisis and the Government’s child poverty strategy in tatters, it beggars belief that Gordon Brown is continuing to send millions of pounds of taxpayers’ money to children who don’t even live in this country.

‘It’s yet more evidence that he is completely out of touch with the concerns of ordinary families struggling to make ends meet.’

Ania Heasley, who runs a website which helps Poles settle in Britain, said: ‘Originally people were surprised and said “This is great”, but now there is so much information in Poland about the benefits that they all know about it.

They are so happy about the welfare system.’

SOURCE

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Posted by peiper   United Kingdom  on 11/02/2009 at 10:20 AM   
Filed Under: • EconomicsUK •  
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calendar   Sunday - November 01, 2009

durnk blaggin 2

Flashback time ... remember Jan Michael Vincent and Ernest Borgnine in Airwolf? Vincent played Stringfellow Hawke, which had to be the most bullshit Native American name going, flying his own Cobra attack helicopter to rout the bad guys. Because everybody has access to multi-million dollar miltary hardware, right? With that swishy guy with the designer eye patch and his Nam era flashback dog named “Tet”. Gak. How could you do that to a dog?

Ok. Fine. It wasn’t a Cobra. It was some other helicopter thingy. With missiles. And automatic weapons at least as accurate as those on the A-Team ( 0 hits for 200,000 rounds expended ). Fine. But a Cobra would have been far cooler. And JMV was just the epitome of cool. Until he lost his battle with the bottle. And the series tanked. And he turned into another Hollywood burnout. And McHale Borgnine wound up on late night HSC schlepping his wife’s beauty cream products.

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Posted by Drew458   United States  on 11/01/2009 at 09:34 PM   
Filed Under: • Miscellaneous •  
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drunk bloggin

I had a hankering for cheese fondue the other day. We used to do that all the time when I was a kid, but I don’t think I have had any in 25 years. I don’t own a fondue pot, and the prices are out of this world these days.

So I used a regular pot, and Italian bread since I couldn’t find French bread at the grocery store. But I made as authentic a recipe as I could.

1/2 pound Emmentaler (aka Swiss ) cheese
1/2 pound Gruyere cheese
1 clove garlic
2 cups strongly flavored dry white french wine. I used a 90% Sauvignon Blanc blend from the Loire valley.
1 tbs lemon juice
ground pepper - white pepper if you have it
freshly grated nutmeg to taste
3 tbs or a bit more of Kirschwasser
1/8 cup flour
French bread, cut into slices and the slices halved. Leave them out to stale up a good 3 hours before cooking. Overnight is Ok too.

Cut the cheese into matchsticks. Toss it in a bowl with flour and mix it around until everything is evenly coated.

Rub the bottom of the pot with the garlic clove. Give the clove a bash to break it up, and drop it in the bottom of the pot. If you have a deep no-stick pan, use it.

Heat the wine and the lemon juice. Add the nutmeg and the pepper. Don’t boil the wine, but get it pretty hot.

Add the cheese a little at a time, and stir things constantly. When all the cheese is in, and melted, stir it around for another 5 minutes.

Reduce the heat to very low. Spear a bit of bread and dunk it in. Let it soak up for about 10 seconds, then drop it onto a plate. Serve. Repeat until out of bread or cheese sauce.

Damn that was good. It came out perfect. Stale bread soaked with soured white wine and covered in strongly flavored cheese sauce. You can’t beat that with a fargin’ stick.

So I gave some to my wife, the Italian. She hated it. “It’s too salty. And it has too much wine.” Arrggh. Culinary delicacies that only white people can appreciate.

Fine. So I ate the whole thing over the course of 2 days. And it was fucking fantastic. I ate until I was in pain. It was that good.

And tonight it’s spaghetti sauce. Oh joy. A jar and a half of the Classico brand stuff, mixed with 2 cans of Tuttorosso tomato chunks. And garlic. And onion. And basil and oregano. With browned ground pork and beef. Simmering away. After an antipasto appetizer of giardaneria (pickled veg) and soppresata (dry sausage). And some “naked redhead” red wine. Oh well. If you can’t beat ‘em, join ‘em.

So I took the extra juice from the tomatoes and made myself a Bloody Mary. We keep a big bottle of Gordon’s gin in the freezer. And some Noilly Prat dry vermouth in the fridge. So I had my Bloody, and added a bit of Kirschwasser to it. Possible fail? Let’s just say that that could be an acquired taste. Not so great. Fine. So I made dirty martinis afterwards. What the hell, I have a fresh bottle of olives. And the sauce will take at least half an hour. Hey, maybe I can use up the last of the Italian bread. I’ll make some melted garlic butter.

I gather this kirschwasser stuff is booze used mainly for cooking. It’s the real thing, not the sugary sweet shit sold by Leroux. Nasty evil bitter orange brandy, from Germany. Actually, I rather like it. But it packs a wallop and takes some getting used to when drunk straight up.

Have to check to see if the sauce needs a stir. I know my martini needs a refill and another olive. CheerS!


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Posted by Drew458   United States  on 11/01/2009 at 07:53 PM   
Filed Under: • Miscellaneous •  
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No More Excuses

Just wondering ... now that Karzai’s opponent Abdullah Abdullah has bowed out bowed out of the runoff runoff, making that event moot ... does this mean that the planes are flying and the ships are sailing, all full of more troops and gear for Afghanistan? That was the hold up, right? Couldn’t Support The Troops until a more stable government was enabled by another round of voting?

But in the end, the Obama administration is likely to stick by the Afghan president. It has few other good options.

Karzai is far from the strong and capable partner that Washington had hoped would emerge from the electoral process that it and Western allies had pushed for in Afghanistan. They hoped the elections would stabilize the country and bleed support from the Taliban.

But the process effectively ended in turmoil Sunday, even as the war with the Taliban intensifies. Karzai’s challenger, Abdullah Abdullah, bowed out only six days before a scheduled runoff, charging that no fair election was possible.

Now the United States, barring other developments, must find a way to work with Karzai, who was widely favored to win the runoff anyway, and encourage him to embrace supporters of Abdullah and other groups opposed to the Taliban.

Unless such groups are brought into the government, the Taliban are likely to grow in strength, capitalizing on widespread public discontent with the ineffectual government.

“The government is more of a headache for us than the Taliban,” said Ahmed Shah Lumar, a businessman in Kandahar in the south, who complains that development plans in his area gather dust waiting for government approval.

Karzai enjoyed close ties with President George W. Bush’s administration, which maneuvered him into power when the Taliban first collapsed in 2001.

But he fell out of favor when Barack Obama took the White House. U.S. officials have since been openly critical of Karzai as a weak leader, beholden to warlords whom he cultivated as allies.

Nevertheless, the Obama administration clearly concluded at some point that for all his faults, Karzai was the best it could get, given the ethnic and political realities of this impoverished country.

“We are going to deal with the government that is there,” White House presidential adviser David Axelrod. “And obviously there are issues we need to discuss, such as reducing the high level of corruption. These are issues we’ll take up with President Karzai.”

So I’m expecting to hear the good word on the Monday morning news. Right?




Bleh. Ok, time for me to go to my second Sunday job. Only a little painting left there this week. L8ter.


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Posted by Drew458   United States  on 11/01/2009 at 01:50 PM   
Filed Under: • Obama, The OneWar On Terror •  
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Not that very many people ever read this far down, but this blog was the creation of Allan Kelly and his friend Vilmar. Vilmar moved on to his own blog some time ago, and Allan ran this place alone until his sudden and unexpected death partway through 2006. We all miss him. A lot. Even though he is gone this site will always still be more than a little bit his. We who are left to carry on the BMEWS tradition owe him a great debt of gratitude, and we hope to be able to pay that back by following his last advice to us all:
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