Photo - Wounded Warrior Volleyball
U.S. Marine Corps Staff Sgt. Dorman, Bilbrey and a member of the Wounded Warrior Battalion East, practices his sitting volleyball skills during the 2014 Marine Corps Trials on Camp Pendleton, Calif., March 4, 2014. The event involves four competing teams comprised of active duty Marines, veterans and international service members. U.S. Marine Corps photo by Lance Corporal Ashton Buckingham
Need A Pick Me Up Today?
Go over to This Ain't Hell and read this heartwarming story about what happens to a horrible skag crone gorgon crow harpy slattern shrew fishwife "person" when she travels abroad...
Photo - Flintlock Wind Speed
As seen through a night-vision device, a U.S. airman provides wind speed and aircraft direction to a C-130 H3 aircraft during night airfield operations on an airfield during Joint Exercise Flintlock 2014 over Niger, Feb. 28, 2014. National Guard photo by U.S. Air Force Tech. Sgt. Eugene Crist
Book Review - "Moving Target" by J.A. Lance
The following book review is a special for BlackFive readers provided by Elise Cooper. You can read all of our book reviews by clicking on the Books category link on the far right sidebar.
Best-Selling author J.A. Jance has written her 50th novel, Moving Target. It features the character Ali Reynolds and her supporting cast: fiancé and computer expert B. Simpson, longtime gay household assistant, Leland Brooks, and good friend, Taser carrying nun, Sister Anselm. It also introduces a powerful character, Lance Tucker, a talented teenage computer hacker.
This book involves two plotlines that take place in Arizona, Texas, and England. Although the plots are basically unrelated Jance is able to weave them together through Ali and B’s relationship. The first plot explores Leland’s background, why his parents supposedly disowned him for being gay, and a cold case that Ali helps to solve involving Leland’s family. This plot is wrapped up mid-way through the book, which allows readers to concentrate on the very suspenseful plot that explores online research. This is where Jance introduces the character Lance Tucker, an incarcerated juvenile offender for hacking into the San Leandro School District’s Computer system. While setting up Christmas decorations in the lockup rec room he is severely burned. Because B. Simpson’s testimony helped to find Lance guilty he now feels bad and is obliged to get to the bottom of what really happened to Lance. Simpson, the founder of the high-tech security company High Noon Enterprises, elicits the help of Ali and Sister Anselm, and is determined to hire Lance for his GHOST program. It is a revolutionary computer software that allows users to surf any part of the web completely undetected.
Jance commented to blackfive.net about some of her characters, “Although I made Leland gay he is a person who is gay, not a gay person. His homosexuality does not define who he is or is not. He is a wonderful person who has a true blue nature. I made sure his gayness did not get into people’s faces. It’s a telling story of one character that happens to be gay.”
Regarding newcomer Tucker, “Lance is a great character that will be in future books. I cannot have a character like that show up and then drop him. Basically this was a story about people where I intentionally compared the two character’s families. One family was very supportive with unconditional love while the other family was not very supportive.”
She gave a heads up about her next few books, or as she calls them “books 51.4.” Due out this July will be a Johanna Brady book where readers will find out what happened to her dog Tigger, based on the Winnie the Pooh character. Jance is currently working on her next Ali Reynolds book. It takes place in Minnesota during the wintertime, and has a plot that delves into certain religious cults treatment of women.
Jance explained why she always includes some form of discrimination against women in all of her books. “I was a feminist that was not allowed into the University of Arizona’s creative writing program because I was a woman. Although today in looking back I think the early day feminists lost their sense of humor and never got it back. I enjoy writing about things I really care about and what is important to me. In Moving Target I put that scene in where a character was barred from being accepted into Oxford by an all male admissions board. I had her hiring only women for the lab and loved the line, ‘Payback is a bitch.’”
Moving Target has a fast paced plot with very likeable and sympathetic characters. Through a riveting plot it explores the technological world while also allowing readers to get to know the human side behind the characters.
Photo - Loading Up
Crews load U.S. Marine Corps vehicles onto a landing craft air cushion from the multipurpose amphibious assault ship USS Bataan in Rota, Spain, Feb. 26, 2014. The Bataan Amphibious Ready Group is supporting maritime security operations and theatre security cooperation efforts in the U.S. 5th and 6th Fleet areas of responsibility. U.S. Navy photo by Seaman Michael J. Lieberknecht
Book Review - "Busted: A Tale of Corruption and Betrayal in the City of Brotherly Love"
The following book review is a special for BlackFive readers provided by Elise Cooper. You can read all of our book reviews by clicking on the Books category on the far right sidebar.
Philadelphia Daily News reporters Wendy Ruderman and Barbara Laker won a Pulitzer Prize for their series of articles, “Tainted Justice,” investigating police corruption. Their book, Busted: A Tale of Corruption and Betrayal in the City of Brotherly Love, is based on these articles. It reads like something out of a Michael Connelly crime novel where they behaved more like a pair of detectives than journalists.
The story begins in 2009 when a law enforcement source of Wendy’s sent over a drug addict informant, Benny Martinez, to inform them about the illegal activities he had conducted with Philadelphia narcotics officer Jeffrey Cujdik. Readers soon realize that the search warrants become the key that opened up the investigation. With Benny’s help Jeff would fabricate search warrants in order to enter a suspected drug dealer’s house. People might ask why this is a big deal since many times drugs were found in the house and the occupant was a known drug dealer. Laker explained to blackfive.net, “The problem is if you lie with these rules what is to stop someone from lying on search warrants to get into your home, my home, or any law-abiding citizen’s house. This is not how the police should work in a Democratic society.”
But as the reporters investigated further they saw this to be only the tip of the iceberg. Search warrants were used to bust into retail shops owned by legal immigrants under the guise of selling drug-related supplies. After the narcotics team disabled security cameras they would steal cash and merchandise. One shop owner had a hidden backup hard-drive that he later gave to the reporters, which broke the case wide open. Wendy explained that he had lost his store, house, and dignity, while trying to fight this injustice.
A third scandal was discovered in the course of the investigation, how one officer sexually assaulted women. He chose women who were large breasted, demure, and would not fight back. Wendy and Barbara feel strongly that these women were targeted because they were poor. They commented, “Nothing pisses us more than men in power who preyed on vulnerable women. Officer Thomas Tolstoy, nicknamed the ‘Boob Man’ by his colleagues would fondle them, and in one instance shoved his hand up a woman’s vagina. There is no doubt in our mind that these women are telling the truth. We had them come in individually and watch a video of a raid. They all picked out Tolstoy as the abuser.”
Unfortunately none of these officers involved have been fired. These officers still collect their paychecks, the same salary minus the overtime. Although they have been taken off policing on the streets and now are on desk duty they have yet to face any criminal charges, including Tolstoy. The police commissioner’s excuse is that he is waiting for the FBI to make a decision to indict or not. What is ridiculous is this “holding pattern” is now over four years.
Busted is a riveting account of how a few bad cops can tarnish the good deeds done by so many police officers. It explores the drug underworld and exposes how some bad cops became corrupt and thought they were above the law, completely unafraid of getting caught.
Photo - Kharkrezwal Cleared
A U.S. Special Forces soldier talks on his radio after successfully completing a clearing operation in Darazkol village in Afghanistan's Kandahar province, Feb. 23, 2014. The U.S. soldiers, assigned to Special Forces Operational Detachment Afghanistan, assisted Afghan commandos with clearing operations to disrupt insurgents from using Kharkrezwal village as a safe haven. U.S. Army photo by Staff Sgt. Bertha A. Flores
The Army of the Future
Apparently British recruiting came up with the slogan "Tomorrow's Army" and "The Army that's Going Places." This ad is newly relevant.
Also, h/t Ranger Up, the following joke.
Kramer and Putin
A Request For Assistance
First, if you would be so kind as to check out the brand-new Mission: VALOR website, it would be appreciated. The content is still a bit rough, but it gives you an idea of what we want to put in place. Those of you who like This Ain't Hell (liking the snazzy new look!) might enjoy one particular policy we are putting in place. Constructive suggestions for improvements, features you want, etc. are VERY much appreciated.
Second, we have already been asked to take part in two events this month and do other work that can help address the crisis in veteran employment. So, I'm trying to raise funds to help with start-up costs since everyone from the IRS on down has their hand out, er, fees and such. You can donate via my GoFundMe, or hit the tip jar in the upper right at Laughing Wolf and select second best to use PayPal. I'm glad to tell you exactly where the money goes/how it is spent too.
There are very good reasons to wish good things for the revolutionary movement in Ukraine. However, we aren't going to support them openly with any real strength. This is because of logistics. Not the logistical problems identified by Zenpundit -- that is, the ones that pertain to the possibility of fighting in Ukraine. Those problems are real enough, but they aren't the reason.
The real reason is identified correctly by Charles Hoskinson of the Washington Examiner: our logistics in Afghanistan. He obviously has good contacts who understand how the pieces are moved.
Meanwhile, there's also the problem of Afghanistan — the "real war," as Obama, Vice President Joe Biden and Secretary of State John Kerry used to describe it. Now they want to disengage, and the Ukraine crisis creates a very uncomfortable problem: The U.S. needs Moscow's cooperation as it withdraws the more than 33,000 troops left in Afghanistan because one of its main withdrawal routes runs through Russia.
The Pentagon began developing a supply route from Afghanistan through Central Asia and Russia because of frequent disruptions on the main routes through Pakistan....
Russia has allowed NATO to develop a transit hub at a base in Ulyanovsk to move cargo by air, road and train from Afghanistan through the country to its northern ports. At least a third of the cargo coming out of Afghanistan is expected to move by that route -- if Moscow doesn't shut it down.
If we were going to fight a real war against Russia, of course, we could view our forces in Afghanistan as a kind of pre-positioned task force that could turn its guns around and operate for a while as a second front. That possibility is precluded by Russia's status as a first-rate nuclear power, as well as the challenge of resupply: we'd have to figure out not only how to fight on the Western front, but how to link up a reliable supply to this Eastern front. Either of those problems is huge by itself.
One reason the Russians are moving so confidently is that they have done the math on this. It's possible we might become embroiled in a war because of some basic error on our part. Wars do sometime start by accident. If we do find ourselves there, we've got to tackle those huge logistical problems first.
Clandestine and diplomatic support are the more likely fields of action. Even diplomatic support, however, will be limited by the need to maintain the supply lines to our forces in Afghanistan. It may well be that the Russians will look for any pretext to shut those down, because it would slow our withdrawal. Like the Norse god Tyr, we've stuck our hand in the wolf's mouth, and as long as it remains there it serves as a kind of guarantee of our good behavior.
That's probably just a coincidence.
The Rules For Successful Platoon Sergeants...
A good read for the weekend as we watch events in Russia unfold.
This is my own take on how the next guy down in the platoon can help the next guy up be better, and maybe make the next guy down better for it as well....
I have much to say about the Bear going over the Mountain (again), but that will come later.
Offered without apology....
ENLISTED is back - New Episodes
Ok.the Olympics is over and TV shows are back to their new episode line ups.
Enlisted on Fox is back tonight at 9PM Eastern/8 Central.
To pique your interest, the show is running a contest. You can win a custom duffel bag. All you have to do is tune in to Enlisted on Fox at 9pm eastern, 8pm central and answer a question that we will ask here on our Facebook page after the episode airs.
You’ll have three and a half hours to e-mail the response to firstname.lastname@example.org.
I posted an initial review of the show here.
Interview: Nick Francona - Battlefield to Major League Baseball
The following interview is a special provided for BlackFive readers by Elise Cooper.
Nick Francona has returned from the war torn battlefield of Afghanistan to become the Los Angeles Angels’ coordinator of major league player information. If the last name sounds familiar it should, since his father is the famous baseball manager Terry Francona. Blackfive.net had the privilege of interviewing Nick.
After graduating from the University of Pennsylvania’s Wharton School of Business he decided to become a Marine. He cherishes the fact that the military allows people to accept a lot of responsibility just out of college, something he points out does not happen with many other careers. He told blackfive.net that he decided to volunteer because of the affect 9/11 had on him when he was a sophomore in high school. “I think that was very much a defining moment with my generation. A couple of kids at my school lost parents. It made it a little more personal. Each generation has a defining event, and that happened at a very formative time in my life. It changes your outlook on things. In the military I was in charge of a sniper platoon. I learned the basics of leadership including infantry officers course, ground intelligence officers course, and a scout’s commander course. I went on a broad array of missions from establishing a presence to reconnaissance.”
After retiring he sent his resume to the Angel GM Jerry Dipoto, and was offered a job. The reason he decided to take it, “I was thinking it is probably not a good idea to work for a team where my dad is a manager. I think it might open a can of worms as far as nepotism which would definitely create for awkward moments.”
Will he be able to use the skills learned in the military in baseball? Absolutely said Nick. “What I learned as an officer I will carry with me for the rest of my life, which is how to take charge whether its just concerning myself or leading others.” He will most certainly have to do that considering one of his duties is to be the Angel point person for reviewing instant replays. He will be the person to call the dugout and say “appeal. As on the battlefield, instincts and making decisions with very little time available will come into play in his new position.
The other part of his job will be to find trends with the use of statistics. He is looking to see how the other team approaches the Angels and how they can approach the other team, basically identifying strengths and weaknesses to find an advantage. He cited the example, “To identify where one pitcher might be better suited to face a certain hitter. We have a lot of new resources available and need to utilize all of them. That is similar to what happens in the military where you get a ton of information from hundreds of sources, whether it's satellites, drones, guys on the ground. I had to go through that and determine what I could turn into actionable intelligence. The challenge in baseball and in Afghanistan was to combine the human element with technology. There is the need to put everyone in a position to succeed. I learned from being a Marine how to take all these inputs and synthesize them to make useful information which I will use in this new baseball job.”
The other aspect of Nick’s job is to sit down with the coaching staff before every series and analyze the data available. “In the military I became very innovative, bringing different approaches to certain problems. In this baseball job I will need to filter out information to find what is important and what is not. How can we take the information on a piece of paper and usefully apply it on the field?”
General Manager Jerry Dipoto is described as someone who is into new-aged statistics while Manager Mike Scioscia is of the old-school mentality, literally a “field” manager. How do you think you will be able to merge the two philosophies? “My task in the military was to lead experienced guys. I took suggestions and ideas. I can use that experience here with the Angels. Mike and I are building a good relationship. He is the one with all the experience and successes so he tends to do things he has in the past, which is justifiable. But I think he is receptive to discuss how the organization can be better. There will be a lot of give and take as well as open discussions.”
Nick wants to have a career in baseball, maybe some day becoming a General Manager. Looking back at his life it is obvious his dad influenced him to be a part of baseball and he has influenced his parents to be involved with the military. His mom works with Massachusetts General Hospital and the Boston Red Sox to help veterans with TBI. Nick feels he is one of the lucky ones since he was honored to serve his country and can now serve in a job with America’s pastime, baseball.
Photo - Qualifying Jump
U.S. Navy Petty Officer 2nd Class Daniel Russell, left, watches as Navy Petty Officer 1st Class Nicholas Casamassa jumps from a C2-A Greyhound during jump requalification in San Diego, Feb. 11, 2014. Requalification included static line and free fall parachute jumps conducted by Explosive Ordinance Disposal Training and Evaluation Unit 1. U.S. Navy photo by Seaman Eric Coffer