Michael's Dispatches Michael's Dispatches

From the Hearts of Thai People

6 Comments

28 November 2013

Government opposition has grown in Thailand to historical proportions.  Millions of Thai people from all walks of life, and from across the political and economic spectrum, are uniting to overthrow the current government, which is corrupted to the core.

So far, the massive anti-government rally has been peaceful.  Many government buildings have been peacefully seized and are being occupied.

Read more: From the Hearts of Thai People

How you Got Hit

4 Comments

25 November 2013

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Some people love war.  For most others, the disease is difficult to live with.

Parents have it bad.  They are challenged to safeguard children while showing strength when schools close, food runs out, and fetching water can end with a sniper’s bullet.

An oft-repeated parental worry is that they will be killed and nobody will care for their children.  Some orphans fall into the safety net of a large family, while for others the loss of a father can leave the mother begging for a lifetime along the roadways, the children spread to the winds as prostitutes, beggars, thieves, or in rare cases, suicide bombers.

Read more: How you Got Hit

Guncotton in Syria

15 Comments

11 November 2013

image001Guncotton used to launch homemade artillery.

War has shattered Syria.  Heavily armed government forces will stop at nothing to destroy opposition to retain power.  The government uses airstrikes, artillery barrages, and tanks against its own people.

Assad’s army is literally scorching the earth under the feet of women and children.  If Assad’s Air Force has a single rule of engagement, the rule seems to be never to waste a bomb.  This abject cruelty has led to a brutal war that eclipses Iraq and Afghanistan combined.

While the Syrian government uses heavy weapons, many opposition fighters scramble for ammunition and to invent homemade cannons, large catapults, and giant slingshots that launch grapefruit-sized grenades.

Read more: Guncotton in Syria

Syria Coverage

2 Comments

Published: 09 November 2013

More than 100,000 people are estimated to have died already in the Syrian Civil War with no end in sight.

Myriad outsiders have become involved with foreign fighters from around the world, including from the United States and Europe. More recently, President Obama threatened to go to war with Syria.

image001-1000US Patriot Missiles at Gazianthep, Turkey. (US Army photo.)

Estimates of refugees vary from 2.5 million to 9 million.  Many have fled to Turkey, Lebanon, Iraq, Jordan, Africa, and to Europe.

Though I publicly opposed US military intervention for various reasons, the refugee issue cannot be ignored forever.

Read more: Syria Coverage

Warning to Judge and Jurors in Grisham Trial

1 Comment

20 October 2013

image001Mouse mutilated and published by US soldier on trial: CJ Grisham

This week, the trial of CJ Grisham ended in a hung jury.  A source in the courtroom told me that the jury was 5:1 in favor of conviction.

A retrial has been set for 18 November 2013.

The judge and jury are warned: Grisham is not to be trifled with.  Jurors should ask to shield their personal information if possible.  After the trial, if Grisham is found guilty, jurors likely will meet the fate of others who have dared to cross CJ Grisham.  This person is a professional victim and victimizer.

Read more: Warning to Judge and Jurors in Grisham Trial

Afghanistan: A Bigger Monster

28 Comments

10 October 2013

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Just months ago Pentagon officials dismissed the idea of a total pullout from Afghanistan.  Today we are on the verge of ending negotiations on our future there, leading to the “zero option.”  Total withdrawal.

If we execute a zero option, this is my basic worst-case prediction, which is not far from my most likely scenario prediction:

President Karzai and his government seem to believe we need Afghanistan and will not abandon him, or that we will cave to ridiculous demands.  We will not.  Remember Iraq.  Look at our own current shutdown.  The US is in serial crisis mode and Afghanistan is overplaying its hand.

Read more: Afghanistan: A Bigger Monster

Marine Statement on Bastion Attack

10 Comments

01 October 2013

Commandant Announces Decision in Afghanistan Attack Investigation

HEADQUARTERS MARINE CORPS, Washington, D.C. - The Commandant of the Marine Corps, Gen James F. Amos, has concluded that  two high-ranking Marine commanders must be held accountable for the consequences of last year's insurgent attack on Camp Bastion, Afghanistan.

After reviewing the findings of a four-month investigation conducted by U.S. Central Command at the Commandant's request, Gen Amos agreed that MajGen Charles M. Gurganus and MajGen Gregg A. Sturdevant "did not take adequate force protection measures within the range of responses proportionate to the threat."

Read more: Marine Statement on Bastion Attack

Army Times: Fort Hood soldiers can face UCMJ if they won't show ID to cops

4 Comments

24 September 2013

According to the Army Times and many other publications, soldiers from Fort Hood are turning many Texans against them.  The base commander has finally put his boot down as a direct result of one Master Sergeant CJ Grisham who has been staging armed confrontations with police.

Please recall that this same person also staged confrontations with me -- I never met him -- and a school board in Alabama in 2009, whose members he so frightened that they nearly got a restraining order.  In 2013, he was arrested and promptly raised more than $50,000 for a legal defense for a weapons related charge.   He does not need the $50,000 because he is being represented free of charge.  His first lawyer mysteriously quit without a word just before the trial, which remains pending.

Read more: Army Times: Fort Hood soldiers can face UCMJ if they won't show ID to cops

Syria: Outrage is Not a Strategy

39 Comments

02 September 2013

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Never Go to War without the Support of Your People

In 2006, the talking points from London and Washington insisted we had won the war in Afghanistan, and Iraq was not in civil war.  To say otherwise was apostasy.

In 2006, British Defense Secretary John Reid was famously quoted on Afghanistan:

"We are in the south to help and protect the Afghan people construct their own democracy.

"We would be perfectly happy to leave in three years and without firing one shot because our job is to protect the reconstruction."

Adversaries made Mr. Reid’s comment more infamous by misquoting him that British forces would leave "without a single shot being fired."

By 2008, the British alone had fired 4 million shots.  They were just getting warmed up.  Nor was this the first British intervention in Afghanistan. Coalition Casualties from 2009-2012 eclipsed those from the first eight years by more than two-fold.  Today the casualties continue.  For what?

Read more: Syria: Outrage is Not a Strategy

Afghanistan to Syria

3 Comments

30 August 2013

Before reading my Monday dispatch on Syria, please read this previous dispatch from Afghanistan. British Member of Parliament Adam Holloway is a prominent figure in both.

There be Dragons.

Monkey Business: Our Broken Army

35 Comments

20 August 2013

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The senior sergeant at the Army’s Warrior Adventure Quest (WAQ) at Fort Hood has been fired after allegedly endangering the lives of Boy Scouts.

The accusation comes from a staff member at WAQ who claims that the Army Master Sergeant abused his position while using Army kayaks, without lights or permission, on a lake with Boy Scouts on the night of 13 August.

Lights are important safety measures to prevent collisions with speedboats.

According to Texas law, “All vessels including motorboats, sailboats, canoes, kayaks, punts, rowboats, rubber rafts, or other vessels when not at dock must have and exhibit at least one bright light, lantern or flashlight visible all around the horizon from sunset to sunrise in all weather and during restricted visibility.” http://www.tpwd.state.tx.us/fishboat/boat/safety/vessel_requirements/

Fatalities involving unlighted boats are common.  At another Texas lake in 2011, a boat crashed into three unlighted kayaks killing a man.  Unlighted boating accidents are so frequent that some attorneys specialize in those and related cases.

Read more: Monkey Business: Our Broken Army

Utah beauty queen accused of throwing bombs resigns title

5 Comments

15 August 2013

Wed Aug 14, 2013 2:25am EDT

(Reuters) - A Utah beauty queen accused along with three friends of throwing homemade bombs in a Salt Lake City suburb resigned her Miss Riverton title...

...Miss Riverton Pageant that Kendra Gill, 18, had resigned her position effective that day.....Gill, crowned Miss Riverton in June, and three other 18-year-olds were arrested earlier this month following a bomb-throwing spree...

The bombs were constructed from household chemicals, aluminum foil and plastic water bottles...

When questioned by police, one of the teens said he had spent the evening "‘pranking' with fireworks with friends,"...

They were charged on Friday with four counts each of felony bomb possession....

Please see:

http://www.indiegogo.com/projects/the-bomb-boys-book-project?c=activity

Jalalabad Urination: Facebook Censorship

36 Comments

 

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06 August 2013

On Saturday a suicide attack unfolded near the Indian Consulate in Jalalabad, Afghanistan.  A dozen people were reported killed with another twenty wounded.   Eight of the killed were reported to be children.

The next day, 04 August, another bomb exploded in Jalalabad, wounding another sixteen people for a two-day total of about forty-five killed and wounded.

An Afghan friend forwarded the image above, saying this was a suicide bomber who was shot before he exploded and that his vest had been removed.  The man who forwarded the image said that even the kids hate these people.  Needless to say, this image, bad as it is, marks an important “atmospheric” in the war and is newsworthy.

For people unfortunate enough to experience a few suicide attacks, the image of the child urinating is not shocking.  The thunder of the bombs, the inevitable automatic weapons fire from security forces, follow on attacks, the frequent secondary explosions, the shrieks, the stunned children and adults stumbling in the smoke, the fully electrified high tension wires dangling waiting to fry people, the ambulance that arrives filled with explosives, the clothes and body parts up in the trees along with thick smells of petroleum and flesh all create a screaming chorus.

Read more: Jalalabad Urination: Facebook Censorship

Forgotten Combat Video from Afghanistan

3 Comments

 30 July 2013

Last week the Kopp-Etchells series experienced another revival.  For four years the work has been translated into dozens of languages and seen ‘round the world in hundreds if not thousands of outlets ranging from Ripley’s Believe it or Not!, to the Smithsonian.  A Google search of "Kopp Etchells Effect" returns about 60,000 hits.

Last week Kyle Hill performed an analysis of the Effect (not caused by static) on the Nautilus blog, which was picked up by the Scientific American blog, which was picked up by the Daily Mail (UK), which was picked up by the Examiner (UK), and picked up by Fox at least twice, which inspired this excellent video

Read more: Forgotten Combat Video from Afghanistan

Fox and Friends at 0820 EST Sunday

2 Comments

27 July 2013

Jill Stephenson and I will be guests on Fox and Friends tomorrow morning.  


Jill is the courageous and inspirational mother of Benjamin Kopp, the hero who literally was killed but did not die.  Army Rangers are hard to stop.


Please read this before watching the show: The Kopp-Etchells Effect

 

Note for Non-Americans on Race relations in the USA

31 Comments

22 July 2013

Having spent about twenty years in dozens of countries, I have some idea about how we are viewed abroad. When it comes to race, many people look at America as black and white. In fact, nothing could be farther from the truth. We are a bunch of mixed breeds.

One of my siblings recently got a genetic test. We are all over the map, including a trace from Sub-Saharan Africa. Apparently I have black grandmother or grandfather in my tree.  Mostly it turns out we apparently are Northern European, but still we are mutts.  My incredible wife is darker than many so called African Americans.

Insofar as "white" culture in America, there is no definite white culture that most whites belong to.  Many whites are with some form or another of black, Asian, or Hispanic culture, and the inverse is true. Keeping in mind there is no "Asian" culture any more than there is a "white" or "black" or "Hispanic" or "European" or "Thai." We truly are mixed up with each other, which is one of our primary strengths.

Do you know how many cultures there are in Thailand?  There are so many that I do not even have an idea. There must be a hundred, and even more if we count fusions. Just as Europeans -- I spent about six years in Europe -- often think America is black and white, we project the same onto other countries.

Read more: Note for Non-Americans on Race relations in the USA

Race Baiting and Lies in America

40 Comments

21 July 2013

image001-1000George Bush Senior -- Naval Aviator at 18, then off to war.

(Many Americans will be familiar with much of what is in this dispatch, yet many international readers never stepped foot inside the United States.  This case is getting international ink, and so here we go.)

Trayvon Martin was 17 when he was shot.  Many people say he was just a “child.”

Let's look at the evidence.  17 year-olds can, and do, join the US military.

At 17, I joined the military and reported for duty when 18.  Before graduating from high school, I could bench press 300 pounds and hoist 225 pounds from the floor to over my head with arms locked, weighing less than 148 pounds.

At 17, my high school friend Scott Helvenston became a Navy SEAL.  The youngest ever.  Some people say this is not possible.  To save embarrassment, naysayers might take a minute to Google “Youngest Navy SEAL.”

Read more: Race Baiting and Lies in America

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