Monday, January 31, 2022

State of the author at the end of January 2022


It's been a very, very busy month.

My latest Western novel, "Wood, Iron, and Blood" (first in a new series titled "The Annals of Ash") was published on January 11th.

As of the time of writing on January 31st, it's attracted 114 reviews and ratings, almost all very positive, and is selling steadily.  Needless to say, I'm very grateful for that, and for all your support.  It's still ranked as the #1 new release in Amazon's category "Classic Action & Adventure" after three weeks, which is very pleasing.

One of the infuriating things, though, is that negative ratings are so often left with no review to say what the reader found to be bad about the book.  I actually take the time to read my reviews, so that I can improve future books where necessary.  To get a one-star review with no comment at all means that I can't improve whatever the reader disliked.  Then there are the reviews that have nothing to do with the book's content.  For example, last week the new Western received this one-star review:

The third time it skipped pages, no idea how many, I gave up on this book - not bad writing and it was proofread. A rarity in these books.

So the reader had no problem with the book itself, but he still gave it a one-star review, dragging down its ratings because of a technical problem that had nothing to do with its content.  That's obnoxious, to say the least, but there's nothing I can do about it except to shake my head in disbelief.  It's not the first time that's happened to me.

Anyway, on to my current activities.  As I mentioned recently, the sixth volume of the Maxwell Saga, "Venom Strike", was running into problems.  Too much of it was wandering around, getting nowhere, losing focus.  I therefore decided that surgery was required, and chopped out something like 22,000 words from the manuscript.  The remaining "core" of 30,000-odd words was sound and in good shape, and I'm using that as a foundation on which to build a new approach.

As part of that re-focusing, I spent a couple of weeks re-editing and re-formatting the first five volumes of the Maxwell Saga.  It was my first series, and some features (e.g. excessive use of the exclamation mark, some word repetition, etc.) could have been better done.  With the benefit of greater experience and hindsight, I've tried to clean those up - not changing the story at all, just making the books read more smoothly and easily.  I'll be reissuing them all during February, with new covers as well.  Here, for example, is the new cover for "Take The Star Road":

Friend, artist and author Cedar Sanderson is designing the covers.  You can read about her creative process and how she develops them in this article.  It's been a lot of fun collaborating with her on the designs.

Doing all that editing (over 500,000 words of it!) on the Maxwell series helped to re-focus my mind on what's needed in its sixth book.  At my wife's suggestion, I'm trying something different:  narrating it from the perspective of a protagonist who isn't Steve Maxwell, but who travels with him and observes how he handles various situations.  It'll bring in a few familiar characters from the past, including the attractive and intriguing reporter whom we met in "Stoke The Flames Higher".  I hope you'll enjoy it.

I hope to have "Venom Strike" ready for publication during March.  Thereafter I have lots more projects on the back burner.  The first in a naval trilogy set during the Civil War era will hopefully be next (I published a short story based on its opening chapter in the recent anthology, "Tales Around The Supper Table Vol. 2");  then, the third and final novel in the Laredo War trilogy (also giving them new covers).  After that will be the next Ames Archives Western novel, then I want to give some attention to a Viking-era fantasy novel and a brand-new science fiction story.  Most of the books I've mentioned are already in progress, some with several tens of thousands of words written, so I hope to be able to produce them in fairly rapid succession.

So, that's the state of this author as of today.  I'll do my best to keep you entertained!


Renewed interest in the 10mm Auto as an optimum defensive round


The 10mm Auto pistol round has been controversial almost since its inception back in the early 1980's.  It's more powerful than the famous .45 ACP, and appears to be at least as (if not more) effective than the latter when a suitable defensive bullet (i.e. hollow-point) is used.  It has the big advantage that the same size pistol can carry more 10mm rounds than .45's.  However, it also kicks harder and is less controllable by the average shooter, particularly in rapid fire.  I'm not going to go into all the details here.  If you're interested, consult any or all of these articles:

At present, only a relatively few enthusiasts carry the 10mm for personal protection.  However, two circumstances are causing shooters I know (and myself) to reconsider that.  Sure, the round has its disadvantages, but the changing threat environment means that its advantages may now outweigh them.

Firstly, we have the growing phenomenon of urban crime and unrest in the form of "flash mobs" or extremist demonstrations (a.k.a. "riots").  We've discussed criminal flash mobs here on several occasions.  They've now developed into organized shoplifting gangs and mobs of hoodlums, assaulting not just specific stores but entire shopping districts, sometimes hitting several stores at once.  If you happen to be shopping in the area at the time, don't expect the cops to be there to protect you.  They'll either be keeping clear, under orders from politically correct District Attorneys and city leaders, or they'll be swamped with incidents all over the place, so that you have to wait your turn.  As for rioters and "demonstrators", we've already discussed the threat they pose to our neighborhoods, added to which is the fact that in many cities, they're a protected species;  they're allowed to get away with their criminal behavior, while those seeking to defend themselves against it may be officially targeted.  See these two articles:

For the most recent example of such politically correct prosecutions, see here.  It's a travesty of justice - for heaven's sake, the shooter had already been found by a police investigator to have acted in legal, legitimate self-defense! - but when you get a rogue, politically motivated D.A., all bets are off.  I hope and trust that the jury will dismiss the prosecution for what it's worth - namely, nothing at all.

In so many words, if you're confronted by multiple criminals, you may (and probably will) need multiple rounds to deal with them.  A pistol chambered in 9mm Parabellum, the single most popular handgun round in the USA and worldwide at this time, certainly has sufficient magazine capacity to provide those multiple rounds;  and, if an effective defensive bullet is used, will probably be successful in most cases - but not all, because there's another factor that enters into the equation.  That factor is illegal drug use.

The drugs available "on the street" have typically not enhanced criminal performance during the commission of crimes, with the exception of the notorious PCP (a.k.a. "angel dust").  I had occasion during my work as a prison chaplain to deal with PCP addicts, and the effect of the drug on their psyches was staggering.  Many of them were left permanently mentally impaired, and were unpredictably violent, aggressive and confrontational.

Sadly, today other drugs are coming to the fore that have an equally devastating effect on those who use them, particularly when they're mixed together.  Fentanyl is being combined with synthetic marijuana (a.k.a. "spice"), methamphetamine, cocaine, heroin, etc. to produce far more dangerous behavior and behavior-altering effects than with the latter drugs alone.  Veteran street cops with whom I've had contact tell me it reminds them of the earlier PCP plague.  In particular, they're finding that felons shot with a 9mm pistol are simply not being stopped fast enough to prevent them causing serious injury or death to their victims, because the round isn't causing enough damage to put them down rapidly in their chemically-'enhanced' state.  One of them wrote (I paraphrase it below, to clean up his language):

Our department mandates that we carry a pistol chambered in 9mm, but we're allowed to carry any backup weapon of our choice, provided we can qualify with it. I and a few others have switched to Glock 29's, chambered in 10mm Auto, for our backup guns.  If we meet up with one of these drugged-up guys, we reach for our backup gun even before our 'primary' weapon, because we know we're going to need something more powerful than a 9mm to stop him.

There are those who'll argue that more accurate shot placement would allow the smaller round to perform just as well as a larger one.  That's fine in theory, but when you've got a moving target (the perpetrator) closing on you rapidly, possibly with a weapon in his hand, and you're moving to avoid his attack, and your stress and adrenaline levels are off the charts . . . it's a whole world away from shooting slowly, calmly and without stress on the square range at paper targets that don't move and aren't threatening you.  Some (very few) shooters can perform as well under such extreme stress as they do during training.  Most of us can't.  We should expect to be less accurate - which places more of a burden on the rounds we're shooting to do the best job they can when they hit whatever they hit.

I know many shooters blindly trust the "official" figures, charts and data, which claim that a quality 9mm hollowpoint will deliver as much expansion, penetration and energy as a bigger round.  They're right, on paper.  However, real life doesn't take place on paper, and drug-addled criminals can and will make a mockery of what "the book" says should happen when they're shot.  I discussed this issue in an article some years ago:

Bullet and cartridge effectiveness for self-defense

If you didn't read that article at the time, I strongly suggest that you click over there and read it now.  In particular, read the whole thing, not just the beginning.  There's a lot of "meat" in there, and it's all important.  In brief, size (projectile cross-section, bullet weight and overall expansion potential) does matter;  and bigger bores have benefited from the same technological advances that have improved the 9mm.  They've all gotten better than they were.

In brief, due to the possible need to repel multiple assailants, cartridge capacity is important.  While the 9mm is champion in that regard right now, the 10mm (and its smaller cousin, the .40 S&W) is pretty close on its heels, and all of them usually outperform the venerable .45 ACP.  (For example, comparing full-size models, the 9mm Glock 17 holds 17+1 rounds;  the 10mm Glock 20 and the .40 S&W Glock 22 both hold 15+1 ;  and the .45 ACP Glock 21 holds 13+1.)

On the other hand, there's the need to hit a potentially hopped-up assailant as hard as possible, to make him cease his attack on you.  The 9mm is no slouch, but it hits less hard than the .40 or .45 - and the 10mm outperforms all of them, if a full-power round is used.

So, with the 10mm Auto, you have a lot of power - probably as much as a good shooter can control in accurate, high-speed firing - and a higher-capacity pistol.  That combination is looking increasingly like a winner in today's self-defense environment.

I'm testing some Glock 10mm's right now, and I'll report back on how I find them in some practical, real-world-related shooting tests in due course.  I'm sure my disability and pain level will make it a difficult exercise.  To help with that, I'm trying a few aftermarket accessories like a heavier tungsten recoil spring guide rod, combined with a stronger spring.  Are they worth it?  (To be answered in the context of another question - "What's my life worth?")  Are the advantages of the more powerful round worth the pain it'll cost me to use it?  We'll see.


Memes that made me laugh 94


Gathered from around the Internet over the past week.  Click any image for a larger view.

Sunday, January 30, 2022

Sunday morning music


How many of you remember the 1970's and 1980's group Supertramp?  They grew from progressive rock roots into a pop/rock combo that was very popular for a time, but then seemed to drop out of sight in the late 1980's and beyond.  I always found their music frustrating:  neither rock nor pop, catchy, but somehow not satisfying, like the froth on top of a cup of coffee - no substance.  Nevertheless, they were hugely successful in their time, and influenced a great many other musicians and groups from then onward.

Here are five of their big hits.  First, from their 1974 album "Crime of the Century", here's "Dreamer".

From the album "Even In The Quietest Moments…" in 1977, here's "Give A Little Bit".

Their next album, "Breakfast In America", proved to be their most successful, spawning several hit singles.  Here are two of them.  First, "The Logical Song".

Next, from the same album, "Take The Long Way Home".

Finally, from their 1982 album "…Famous Last Words…", here's "It's Raining Again".

I was never a big fan of Supertramp, but I have to admit, their tunes were catchy.  I can still remember tramping out a military route march in bad weather, only to hear some damnfool troopie start wailing, "It's Raining Again" (to a chorus of disapproving epithets from his buddies).

Oh, well.  They were certainly major stars of their era.


Saturday, January 29, 2022

Saturday Snippet: A blast (literally) from the past


A couple of years ago, I was invited to submit a short story to the third of a series of anthologies about warfare ancient, modern and future.  It was published as "Trouble In The Wind", edited by Chris Kennedy and James Young.

I wrote about it at the time of its launch in 2019.

My story was set during the Angolan War, also known as the South African Border War, in which I played a minor and insignificant part.  It was partly autobiographical, in that some of the incidents I described were from memory;  and it was certainly realistic in terms of the terrain, combat, weapons, etc.  I was never a member of any Special Forces unit (I'm what you might call "low speed, high drag", the opposite of their style!), but I worked with a number of them from time to time, so I got to hear and see a lot.  The specific incident that's the heart of the story - the capture of a visiting Soviet general, and the resulting repercussions - didn't happen;  but other Soviet personnel were captured, and almost everything else in the story actually happened at one time or another (sometimes involving yours truly).  I simply brought the details together and wove them into a unified story.

Now that more than a year has passed from publication, I'm allowed to republish my story.  It's too long to include in its entirety, but here's the first part of it.  I hope you enjoy it.

Unintended Consequences by Peter Grant

Southern Angola, 1986

       The four-man Reconnaissance Regiment stick moved slowly and carefully along the half-overgrown footpath through the African bush. Few people still used it after several years of warfare between the Angolan government’s FAPLA forces and their Cuban supporters on the one hand, and UNITA guerrillas and their South African allies on the other. Most of the villagers in or near the fluid, ever-shifting combat zone, with its unpredictable troop movements that could transform an area from tranquil to terrifying without warning, had long since fled.
       The point man brushed sweat from his eyebrows yet again, waving away the flies that buzzed around his head, trying to drink it. He began to repeat the gesture, then stopped dead in his tracks and sank to his haunches, making a sign that the others understood. Enemy ahead.
       First Lieutenant Viljoen moved up beside him, eyes flickering left and right. The brush ended abruptly ahead of them at the edge of an open area, probably a former cornfield, now covered with low vegetation as the African bush reclaimed it. On the far side were a few broken-down mud huts, between which at least a dozen dark olive Soviet military trucks could be seen. A bulldozer was parked at the edge of an eighty-by two-hundred-foot patch it had cleared and leveled in the field. Well over half of it was already covered with a layer of concrete, two to four inches thick.
       “What the hell is FAPLA doing here, Hannes?” the officer murmured to the scout. “This is just a transit route for troops and supplies. They’ve never had a base here—there’s no need for one.”
       “Ja, sir, but maybe they’ve changed their minds. There’s a waterhole nearby, and that looks like a foundation slab.”
       “It’s not thick enough for that, and there’s no rebar or wire frame—although both might be because it’s a slipshod, half-done job of work, which would be nothing new for Angolans. Whatever it is, the brass will want to know more.”
       The patrol took up observation positions along the edge of the field, staying hidden in the thick brush as they observed the Angolan troops. Several of them were unloading cement sacks from the back of a truck, while others worked on the engine of a portable cement-mixer. Idlers lounged around, not making any real effort to maintain security over the area. The smell of cooking rose from a line of fires over to one side, where the evening meal was being prepared.
       As the sun dipped towards the horizon, the engine of the cement-mixer finally spluttered to life, and its drum began to revolve. The troops standing around it gave a cheer, then looked towards an officer for instructions. He began to shout orders. Some of the troops began to mix more concrete, while others lined up with wheelbarrows to take it to the next section of the slab to be laid. The officer hurried over there, to ensure that the planks placed around it were still in position, to hold the concrete until it had dried enough to remain in place without support. He summoned a soldier with a can of paint and had him mark a big black X equidistant from the three concrete edges on the finished portion of the pad.
       “It’s already late afternoon, but they’re still working. Whatever this is, they’re in a hurry,” a Recce corporal muttered.
       “You’re right, Boeta,” the patrol commander agreed. “They don’t usually work this hard or this late.” He thought for a moment. “Remember that intel we got last month, about the helicopters?”
       The other nodded thoughtfully. Another Recce patrol had spent a week infiltrating the port of Namibe, watching Soviet cargo vessels unloading materials to be ferried to the battlefront hundreds of miles to the east. They’d noted a major transport bottleneck, with warehouses overflowing into immense stacks of supplies exposed to wind and weather. Some ships were forced to wait at anchor in the bay, because there was no room to unload their cargoes. Shortly before they left Namibe, the patrol had reported the arrival of a squadron of Mil Mi-8 transport helicopters, flown by Angolan and Cuban pilots. The squadron had established its base at the rundown airport south of Namibe and had begun flying covering missions for road convoys. However, the Mi-8’s carried no weapons. The Angolans had Mi-24 gunships, so why were they misusing unarmed transports for a job that might well lead to combat?
       “Those choppers don’t have the range to ferry supplies all the way from Namibe to the battlefront,” the lieutenant pointed out, “but if they built a refueling point, they could. That cleared area’s the right size, and we’re halfway between Namibe and Cuito Cuanavale—just the right place for it. That big X is a give-away. A second, on the other side of the pad, will make this a two-helicopter landing pad, with plenty of space between them for their rotors to turn.”
       “And there’s two fuel tankers in that convoy,” Sergeant Bothma commented, pointing at the vehicles in question. “Thing is, why use concrete? Why not just bare earth?”
       “Could be so the rotors will throw up less dust and dirt. That’ll make visibility very poor during landing and takeoff. Also, during the rainy season, the ground gets so muddy it’s like a swamp. I think we should discourage them. I’m going to call this in.”
       His encrypted message, sent on a frequency-hopping tropospheric-scatter radio system, caused a flurry of activity in an Operations Center in northern South West Africa. Approval for the patrol’s proposed course of action was transmitted within the hour, along with instructions for a nearby UNITA patrol to rendezvous with the Recces the following day.
* * *
       The same evening, an Antonov An-24 twin-engined transport aircraft of the Angolan Air Force landed at the airport south of Namibe. It taxied to the terminal building in the last of the sunlight, where a guard of honor had been hastily assembled. Its members—local levies unfamiliar with drill of any sort, let alone an honor guard—shambled to a ragged semblance of attention and falteringly presented arms as a man disembarked, wearing a major-general’s uniform of the Soviet Union. Tabs identified him as an officer of the Strategic Rocket Forces.
       An East German major stood to one side. He came forward, snapped to attention, and saluted stiffly. “Welcome to Namibe, General Shpagin! It is an honor for us to receive a visit from so senior an officer.”
       The new arrival peered at his name tag. “Not that much of an honor, Major Brinkerhoff. I was at loose ends between postings. That’s why Moscow sent me to investigate this logistics mess—I just happened to be the most senior officer available. I wasn’t impressed to see stacks of supplies all over the place as we came in to land. Lobito looked no better as we overflew it on the way down here from Luanda. Why haven’t both ports been better organized? Why is it taking so long to clear this bottleneck?”
       “I can’t speak with any authority, sir, as I’m not involved in port operations or military logistics. Local officers will brief you in the morning.” He lowered his voice to a confidential murmur. “If you ask me, sir, it’s largely because they’re incompetent and bone idle. In the Warsaw Pact, we’d be shot if we worked this way!”
       The general eyed him carefully. Brinkerhoff was a professional like himself. As such, his judgment was probably as accurate as it was damning. “Hmpfh! We’ll see about that. Take me to the visiting officers’ quarters, Major. I need a bath, a good meal, and a night’s sleep.”
       His aide followed with the general’s suitcase as his boss strode to a waiting utility vehicle.
       Next morning, General Shpagin’s invective blistered the hides of the staff as they tried to make excuses for the logistics bottleneck. He pointed out acidly, “The Soviet Union has generously provided thousands of trucks to Angola, free of charge, yet you claim you don’t have enough vehicles to move these supplies. Where are they, then?” As to claims that the roads weren’t good enough, he noted bluntly that South Africa appeared to have few difficulties supplying UNITA rebels with material support over a much greater distance, through terrain that often had no roads at all. “If they can do it, why can’t you? Your inefficiency is causing weeks of delay to valuable ships that are needed elsewhere. This must stop!”
       Nor would he give credence to claims of the mass destruction of transport vehicles by South African forces. “We know beyond doubt, through satellite reconnaissance and other intelligence sources, that South Africa currently has only a few hundred troops north of the South West African border. You have thousands of Cuban troops, fighting alongside tens of thousands of Angolan soldiers—far more than enough to defend against such a small number, no matter how skilled or well-equipped they may be.”
       A timid Angolan Air Force officer offered what he hoped would be good news. “S-sir, our new helicopter route will open within a day or two. We’re building a refueling pad halfway between here and Cuito Cuanavale, so that Mi-8’s can fly there with a full four-ton cargo of urgently needed materials. If Moscow gives us the heavy-lift Mi-26’s we have asked for, we will be able to lift twenty tons on every flight!”
       Shpagin’s eyebrows rose. “That will help, although it’ll be much more expensive than road transport. When’s the first mission?”
       “In three days’ time, sir.”
       “Book seats on it for myself and my aide. I want to see this refueling pad for myself, and inspect the cargo handling facilities at Cuito Cuanavale too.”
       That evening over supper, his aide tried to remonstrate. “But, sir, the Defense Ministry’s instructions were clear. You were not to enter the combat zone or expose yourself to danger.”
       “Pshaw! They sent me here to investigate a problem and solve it. The only way I can do that properly is to see everything for myself. UNITA and the South Africans don’t know I’m here, and they can’t possibly be aware of the new helicopter route. It hasn’t even been used yet! As for the combat zone, there’s no major fighting going on right now. All anyone’s doing is local patrolling. I don’t think there’ll be any risk.”
* * *
       As the two Soviet officers finished their meal, Lieutenant Viljoen welcomed a UNITA officer to the camp the patrol had set up, half a mile from the Angolan work site. The two shook hands, and got down to business without preamble.
       “The signal said to deliver to you all our explosives,” the UNITA man began. “We have four TM-46 anti-vehicle land mines.”
       “That’s great! Just what we need. Here, let me show you what’s going on.” The South African officer drew a quick map in the dirt using a stick. “The enemy is here. On a circle surrounding their positions, we’re here. I’d like you to place your patrol in an arc behind their positions, a third of the way around the circle from where we are. That way we won’t shoot at each other through them. I’m guessing the helicopter pad will be ready in the next two days—the first half is already dry. As soon as it’s complete, I reckon they’ll send out a proving mission, to make sure everything’s as it should be. I want to hit them when they come in.”
       “How can you be sure they’ll land on the mines? The pressure plates won’t work unless they have enough weight on them.”
       “We’ll make sure they go off. I want your people to stay quiet until they blow, then shoot the hell out of the Angolan vehicles and positions for two minutes, no more. As soon as two minutes are up, get out of here. The main convoy route isn’t far away, so the Angolans may be able to get a reaction force here quickly. We aren’t strong enough to take them on.”
       “All right. You head south and we’ll head east, to divide any enemy attempt to follow us.”
       “Agreed. Use anti-tracking, too, to make it as difficult as possible for them.”
       The twenty-man UNITA patrol headed into the bush to work their way around the enemy’s position. The lieutenant laid out the four big steel landmines in a row, and started removing their pressure plates.
       “What’s the idea, sir?” Sergeant Piet Bothma asked as he knelt down to help.
       “We have to make sure these blow, even if the chopper doesn’t land right on top of them,” the officer explained. “We’re going to replace their pressure plates with plastic explosive and a command detonator. We’ll connect them all to a firing position at the edge of the bush, and let the enemy lay concrete over them.”
       “Will they have enough blast to take out a chopper through concrete, sir?” another asked.
       “Four TM-46’s have as much explosive between them as a couple of 155mm artillery shells. I think that’ll be more than enough.”
       The questioner winced. “That’s headache city all right!”
       After midnight, when all the Angolan soldiers were asleep—including the sentries, because what possible threat could there be so deep in the bush, and so far from the battlefront?—the South Africans crept out into the cleared area. The lieutenant estimated where the second X marker for a landing helicopter would most likely be painted, then dug holes for the four mines close together around that point. The others covered them, then led the detonator wire to and beyond the edge of the cleared area, burying it. They patted down and smoothed the disturbed earth, then brushed it with leafy branches as they withdrew, removing all signs that they’d been there.
       As the sun rose and the Angolans began to pour more concrete, covering the mines, the Recces settled down to wait.
* * *
       Antennae all over the operational area, and up and down the coast, fed their intercepted harvest to the South African electronic warfare station at Rooikop, near Walvis Bay in South West Africa, eight hundred miles to the south. In the underground operations center, the signals were analyzed, decrypted if possible, then forwarded to interested parties for further action.
       Late the following night, an operator called the Officer of the Watch to come to his station. “Sir, a visiting general is making life difficult at Namibe. The Angolans are complaining to their HQ in Luanda that he’s ‘insensitive to the difficulties of operating in a war zone.’”
       “Awww, my heart bleeds for them,” the OOW joked as he began to read the signal. “Hey, that’s not a Cuban or East German name. ‘Shpagin’—that sounds Russian. Have we seen it before?”
       “Nothing in the database, sir.”
       “Then let’s get this off to the Ops Room at Defense HQ in Pretoria. They may know who he is.”
       They didn’t, but the Operations Room knew who would. By early the following morning, the CIA in Langley, Virginia confirmed to their representative in the United States Embassy in Pretoria that a major-general in the Soviet Union’s Strategic Rocket Forces bore the same name. What would a man of that rank and importance be doing in an out-of-the-way place like Angola? Questions flashed from Langley to the U.S. Embassy in Moscow, but the answers didn’t satisfy anyone.
       “Why the hell would they send a senior strategic missile commander to untangle logistics snarl-ups in the third world?” an American analyst demanded. “That makes no sense. They’ve got to be up to something!”
       South African Defense HQ duly ordered Rooikop and other facilities to be on the lookout for any further mention of Shpagin’s name and mission, while interested eyes in America sharpened their focus on southern Africa. Cuba was the main Soviet surrogate in the region, after all, and Angola’s ally. Could the general’s visit be the first move in a new Cuban missile crisis, more than two decades after the last one?
* * *
       The day of the first helicopter resupply mission dawned fine and clear. General Shpagin dressed carefully, the rows of award ribbons on his chest making a colorful display. He inspected his boots with displeasure, and insisted that his Angolan servant polish them again.
       “Wouldn’t it be better to wear battledress, like the Cuban officers do, sir?” his aide asked.
       Shpagin shook his head disapprovingly. “They’re playing at being fighting soldiers. They aren’t even in the combat zone, yet they all look casual and sloppy. Let’s show them what it means to be proud of one’s uniform!”
       “As you say, sir.”
       Sighing inwardly, the aide resigned himself to another day of tugging at his tight collar, while sweating buckets beneath his heavy jacket.
       Why is it, he wondered, that generals can go through the whole day looking as fresh as a daisy, while their underlings wilt? Must go with the rank.
       A utility vehicle took them to two Mi-8 helicopters parked on the airport hardstand. They were already loaded with urgently needed supplies, strapped down in their cabins. An officer motioned the general and his aide towards the first helicopter, but Shpagin held up a hand.
       “Captain, you go in the second helicopter. Nothing’s likely to happen, but let’s travel separately, just in case. If anything goes wrong, one of us must survive to submit a report to Moscow, and you already know what I plan to say to them.”
       “Yes, sir.”
       The crew chief pulled down a folding chair against the bulkhead. General Shpagin strapped himself into it, frowning at the memory of many uncomfortable hours spent in similar transports. At least, here in the southern African heat, he wouldn’t freeze his ass off.
       “What’s our flight time?” he asked the crew chief.
       “Two hours, ten minutes to the refueling point, sir, then another two hours, twenty minutes to Cuito Cuanavale.”
       The general grimaced, already regretting his second cup of coffee over breakfast. “I’ll need a pee break very badly by the time we land to refuel.”
       The Cuban NCO guffawed as he handed him a set of headphones with a boom microphone.
       “Just don’t piss out the open door as we fly, sir,” the man stated, his tone turning morose as he continued. “The rotor wash will blow it back all over you, and everyone else in here. Ask me how I know that.”
       Shpagin had to laugh as he nodded in response.
       The helicopters lifted off with a snarling clatter of rotors, and turned west, staying low over the trees and bushes. A few minutes later the An-24 transport also took off, to fly high overhead and serve as a communications relay if required. A routine signal was dispatched to the Angolan air defense network at Cuito Cuanavale, to confirm that the flights had departed. The identity of the VIP passenger was emphasized, to ensure that no missiles were launched at him in error. Their Soviet benefactors would not be amused by such a mistake.
       The routine signal was duly intercepted at Rooikop, and General Shpagin’s name noted. Within minutes a message was on its way to Pretoria.
* * *
       The concrete had dried quickly under the hot African sun, and the Angolans clearly weren’t going to waste any time putting the landing pad into service. The fuel tankers had been driven closer to the edge of the pad, and the encampment had been tidied up. The construction crew were dressing in clean uniforms, while their NCO’s marked out parade positions for them.
       Lieutenant Viljoen ordered everyone to pack their gear and be ready to move out on the run.
       “If they come this morning, and we blow them up, they’re not going to be very pleased with us,” he pointed out with a grin. “We’ll have to get away before they can get organized. I’ll be on the detonator. Hannes, we don’t have anyone else to spare, so the two of us will have to be a quick-and-dirty snatch party. If we see an opportunity to take a prisoner, let’s grab him during the confusion when UNITA joins in. He can answer questions later. Boeta, you’re on the missile.” He nodded to the team’s sole SA-14 shoulder-launched ground-to-air missile, captured from the Angolans like all their weapons and equipment.
       “Give them a chance to land,” Viljoen emphasized. “If one doesn’t, and you get a clear shot, take it down. Piet, you provide covering fire for the snatch team if we need it, then take point when we leave. Head back down the footpath we used to get here. As soon as we’ve broken contact we’ll change direction and start using anti-tracking to stop them following us.”
       They waited in the thick brush as the sun rose higher, and the heat began to grow oppressive. At last, shortly after ten, the distant sound of helicopter rotors intruded on the silence and began to grow louder. “They’re coming!” the lieutenant exclaimed, his face lighting up. “Packs on, weapons ready, and stand by!”
       Two familiar silhouettes appeared over the bushes and trees. The leading helicopter slanted down towards the pad in a curving approach, while the second circled above the clearing, obviously looking for any signs of danger. They ignored it. By now, camouflaging their positions against aerial observation was second nature to them. Boeta picked up the SA-14 launch tube, trying to get a clear view of the second helicopter.
       The lead helicopter settled almost exactly where Lieutenant Viljoen had anticipated it would. His finger trembled on the detonator switch as he waited, hoping for the second aircraft to land, so that blast and fragments from the mines might damage it as well. Instead, as the engines of the first helicopter began to shut down, a smartly uniformed figure jumped down from it and hurried directly towards them, ducking beneath the rotor blades, one hand holding his cap on, the other fumbling with the fly of his trousers.
       “Holy shit, boss, he’s coming right for us!” Hannes whispered urgently.
       “Stand by to grab him!”
       Viljoen waited until the new arrival had almost reached the bush behind which he was concealed, then hit the switch. With a colossal blast, the four landmines blew up beneath the concrete, sending fragments flying in all directions, including into the fuselage and fuel tanks of the helicopter above them. It came apart, erupting in flames as its undercarriage collapsed.
       Instantly, chaos broke out. The UNITA patrol opened up with AK-47’s, RPK light machine-guns, RPG-7 rockets, and hand grenades. Both tanker trucks exploded, one after the other, in massive orange-red fireballs and billowing smoke, spraying burning fuel and debris in every direction. Many of the Angolan soldiers, who’d been drawn up in formation to honor the new arrivals, were mown down as if by a scythe. The survivors scattered in panic.
       In the confusion, Hannes leapt to his feet and tackled the man who’d run towards them, clouting him a mighty blow on the jaw that knocked him out. His cap came off. Hannes picked it up, staring at it, then at his victim.
       “Lieutenant! This guy isn’t Angolan or Cuban! It’s a white man, and he’s wearing a ****load of medal ribbons and what look like general’s stars. Who is this ****er?”
       “I don’t know, but he’s got to be important. Come on! Let’s grab him and get out of here!”
* * *
       In the second Mi-8, the pilot was screaming into his microphone. “Emergency! Emergency! The refueling pad is under attack! The lead helicopter has crashed and blown up! General Shpagin has been captured by the enemy—I saw them tackle him and bring him down! For God’s sake, somebody help us!”
       Looking out of the open side door, Shpagin’s aide saw a trail of smoke erupt from a clump of bushes and head straight towards the helicopter. There was a loud explosion over his head, and pieces of the rotor blades flew in all directions. The aircraft dropped like a stone. The last thing he saw was the whirling ground coming up very fast before his eyes as the helicopter spun in.
       High in the sky, the An-24 radio relay plane saw and heard it all. Even as its pilots hauled the plane around and clawed for more altitude, to put as much distance as possible between themselves and any other ground-to-air missiles, its radio operator passed the news to Namibe. From there, a message was broadcast at full power across southern Angola, in clear, to all FAPLA and Cuban forces. “General Shpagin has been captured in an enemy ambush at the new refueling pad! All available forces are to converge on that location and rescue him!” Map coordinates were provided. MiG fighters and Sukhoi strike aircraft scrambled, and helicopters launched to carry responding forces to the scene at top speed.
       Almost as fast as the message spread through the Angolan armed forces, it reached South African Defense Force HQ in Pretoria via the Rooikop listening station. The initial reaction was one of shocked incredulity. Who could have launched such an attack, against such a high-value target? It didn’t take long for the Special Forces liaison officer to inform the Operations Room about Lieutenant Viljoen’s patrol, and his intention to take out the first helicopter to use the landing pad they had discovered. Was that what the Angolans were talking about?
       “Send a signal to Viljoen at once!”
       “We can’t, sir. He won’t be listening—in fact, if that was him, he’ll be running like hell to get clear before reaction forces arrive. His next scheduled communications window is tonight.”
       “And until then, we’ll have the top brass jumping down our throats, demanding to know what’s going on. What are we going to tell them?”

* * *

       The patrol had covered only a few hundred yards, dragging their unconscious prisoner with them, when they heard the roar of an overstressed engine drawing nearer from behind them. They scattered to either side of the narrow footpath as a Soviet ZIL-131 six-by-six military truck appeared, gears whining in low ratio, wheels churning in the thick soft sand, bashing through the bushes on either side of the track, its fear-crazed driver intent only on escape from the carnage behind him.
       Sergeant Bothma spun in his tracks, shouldered his AK-47, and squeezed off a pair of snap shots that went through the door and killed the driver instantly. His foot came off the accelerator and the truck slowed to a standstill, jerking as its engine cut out. Bothma ran after it, pulling open the door to check on the driver.
       “Well done, Piet!” Viljoen called breathlessly. “Throw him in the back, so he won’t be found, and take his place. I’ll join you. The rest of you, get in the back with the prisoner.”
       Within moments, the truck was bouncing down the track again. Viljoen consulted his map. “This footpath comes out at the main east-west trail in about two clicks. When we get there, turn west towards the coast.”
       “West, sir? But that’s closer to the enemy!”
       “Yes, it is, but if our prisoner’s as important as he looks, they’re going to be after us with everything they’ve got. They’ll expect us to head east and south, towards our own forces. Let’s throw them off the scent by doing what they won’t expect. The truck’s wheels will leave ruts in the sandy soil, but you can’t tell from the rut which direction it was moving. Once we hit the main trail, they won’t know which way we went. We’ll abandon this truck somewhere convenient, and head south from there.”
       “OK, sir. That guy’s uniform and insignia looked different from anything we’ve seen before. He may be Soviet. If he is, they’ll be flying in search parties from all directions. Moscow will be baying for our blood.”
       “If you’re right, we’ve got less than an hour before aircraft will be overhead, looking for us. A truck moving alone will stick out like a sore thumb. Remember that convoy the Air Force hit two months ago, just west of here?”
       “Yessir! The Angolans dragged all the wrecked trucks off to the side of the road, and abandoned them.” He sniggered. “The Air Force uses them as a navigational landmark now.”
       “That’s right. It’s about thirty clicks from here. Let’s park this truck with them. I reckon no-one will bother to count, to see if there’s one more vehicle than there was before. That’ll buy us time to get away clean.”
       “Great idea, sir!”
       It took them thirty-seven agonizing minutes to reach the trucks, peering out of the windows all the while to spot any other vehicles or a fast-moving aircraft coming towards them. At last they reached the place. The lieutenant pointed. “Take us around the back there, into the bush, on the far side of the wrecks. That’ll put this one furthest away from passing traffic, so they’re less likely to notice it’s not damaged like the others.”
       They parked the truck, then Viljoen hurried around to the rear while the sergeant started to knock the valve stems out of every tire. The prisoner had regained consciousness, and was sitting nursing his jaw, looking around balefully.
       The lieutenant tried his meager, halting Spanish, learned in case he needed to interrogate Cuban prisoners. “¿Quién eres tú? ¿Cuál es su nombre?” No response. He switched to English. “Who are you? What is your name?”
       “I am Major-General Shpagin of the Soviet armed forces. That is all I shall tell you.”
       “What the hell are you doing out here in the middle of bloody Africa?” Silence. “Are you attached to the Angolan armed forces?” Silence. “What is your mission?” Silence.
       “We can’t waste time making him talk, sir,” Boeta warned. “Listen!” They cocked their heads. Faintly, but growing louder, they heard the sound of jet engines at high altitude.
       “Those will be MiGs, looking for us,” Lieutenant Viljoen agreed. He looked back at the general. “Sir, you’re a prisoner of war of the Republic of South Africa’s armed forces. We’re going to take to the bush and head south until we can arrange to be picked up. If you don’t make trouble, we’ll allow you to walk unrestrained. If you make trouble or try to escape, we’ll tie your hands, put a tether round your neck, and bring you with us the hard way. Understand me?”
       “I understand.” Another baleful glare.
       “Right. Everyone, fill your canteens.” Viljoen gestured to the drum of water tied down in the load bed. “When you’ve done that, drink as much as you can, then we’ll drain the rest of the water. Take what you need from that box of ration packs. They’re Angolan, so they won’t be very tasty, but they’re better than nothing. We’ll carry seven days’ food per man. Empty that backpack.” He pointed to what had presumably been the personal gear of the late driver. “Fill it with ration packs and the driver’s canteens. General, you’ll carry it. If you refuse, you’ll have nothing to eat or drink, so don’t argue. Hannes, make sure he’s unarmed—no dinky little officer’s pistol concealed anywhere. The rest of you, take the canvas cover off the truck, fold it a few times, and lay it in the load bed over the driver’s body. From the road or a low-flying chopper, this truck’s got to look like just another abandoned wreck.”
       “Not going to booby-trap it, sir?” the sergeant asked as he straightened from removing a valve stem.
       “No. If it explodes or burns, the Angolans will wonder why.”
       Within ten minutes, the patrol moved out in single file, heading south, sticking to the cover of the trees and bushes, moving slowly and carefully, covering or disguising their tracks whenever possible. Their prisoner walked in the center of the formation. General Shpagin seethed inwardly, but made no trouble. South African troops had a well-earned reputation for violence towards anyone who resisted them. He had no doubt that any attempt at obstruction or escape would have extremely painful consequences.

* * *
       The atmosphere in the meeting room at Soviet military headquarters in Moscow seethed and roiled with barely suppressed tension. The Defense Minister glared at the assembled senior officers. “How do you know it was the South Africans who got him? It could have been UNITA!”
       “Minister, the reaction forces captured two UNITA guerrillas, part of a larger force trying to escape after the ambush. Under separate interrogation, both said their unit was ordered to join a South African Reconnaissance Regiment patrol, to help them attack the refueling pad. UNITA took no prisoners during the attack, so General Shpagin must be in South African hands.”
       “And who the hell thought it was a good idea to send a Strategic Rocket Forces general to Angola in the first place? He knows our nuclear target lists for every NATO country! If the South Africans get him back to their base, the Americans will give their eye teeth and sell their own mothers to interrogate him!”
       “H-he was just… available, Minister,” a hapless official stammered. “The Foreign Ministry said they wanted someone senior enough to impress the Angolans. General Shpagin had just returned from a period of leave. He said he was tired of sitting around, waiting for his predecessor to depart so he could take up his new post, and volunteered for the Angolan inspection mission in the interim. No one even thought about his branch of service.”
       A wordless glare from the Minister promised retribution for so grievous an error of judgment. “What do you propose, Marshal?” he demanded, turning to the Commanding Officer of the Strategic Rocket Forces.

So, there you have it.  The first half of a fictional mission, heavily - very heavily - based on fact.  I hope you enjoyed it.


Friday, January 28, 2022

"How the world's deepest shipwreck was found"


That's the title of a fascinating article at the BBC about the search for the wreck of USS Johnston, a Fletcher class destroyer sunk during the Battle off Samar in 1944.  For her actions during that battle, her commanding officer, Commander Ernest E. Evans, was posthumously awarded the Medal of Honor and the ship was awarded the Presidential Unit Citation, both being the highest awards in their respective classes conferred by the United States.

The search for USS Johnston was aided by recently developed technology, but still presented a monumental challenge.  It lay more than 21,000 feet beneath the ocean surface, which makes it the deepest shipwreck ever surveyed.  Here's a photograph from the article, showing one of the ship's anti-aircraft gun mounts.  Click the image for a larger view.

The article is long and filled with detail, which I found very interesting.  Here's a short excerpt to illustrate how much information it provides.

Most of the world's shipwrecks are found in shallow coastal waters. Ships follow trade routes to ports, and coastal waters offer the chance of sanctuary if the weather turns nasty. So this is where most ships founder and sink. But the waters Johnston sank in are very different. Rather than a smooth decline, they instead drop steeply to great depths.

Samar Island sits on the edge of a vast marine canyon known as the Philippine Trench, which runs for some 820 miles (1,320km) along the Philippines and Indonesian coastline. It skirts around the eastern side of Samar Island, on the seaward side of Leyte Gulf. It is very, very deep. If you were to drop Mt Everest at the deepest point of the Philippine Trench, the Galathea Depth, its summit would still be more than a mile (1.6km) underwater.

No-one knows quite how long it took for USS Johnston to reach the ocean floor. She sank through layer after layer of the Philippine Sea, distinct stages which grow ever darker, colder and inhospitable. Past 100m (328ft) sunlight would have begun to fade. Past 200m (656ft) Johnston would have entered the twilight zone, a vast layer nearly a kilometre deep which marks the end of the effect of the Sun's light on the ocean. The temperature would have plummeted the further she sank. At 1,000m (3,280ft) Johnston's ruptured hull would have would have plunged through waters only a few degrees above freezing into what oceanographers call the Bathyal Zone, also known as the midnight zone.

No plants or phytoplankton grow here as the Sun's light cannot penetrate this far down. The water is freezing cold and this gloomy zone is sparsely inhabited by life. The animals that do live here have evolved to do so in cold and relentless dark. Eyes are useless, and so are fast-twitch muscle fibres, which elsewhere prey might rely upon to escape predators. But down here they consume too much energy to be worth it. The fish that live here look little like the ones that swim near the surface. They are soft and slippery to the touch. Some are blind and others almost transparent. What use are camouflaging scales when your predators – nightmarish creatures that hang suspended in the dark – have no eyes?

The average depth of the world's oceans is 3,688m (12,100ft), more than two miles deep. It is in waters as deep as this that the RMS Titanic sank on its ill-fated maiden voyage in 1912. But Johnston's death dive went far, far beyond this.

Past 4,000m (13,123ft) is the Abyssal Zone, with water temperatures hovering just above freezing and dissolved oxygen only about three-quarters that at the ocean surface. The pressure is so intense that most creatures cannot live here. Those that do differ from their shallow-water cousins in almost every way – fish have antifreeze in their blood to keep it flowing in the intense cold, while their cells contain special proteins that help them resist the intense water pressure that would otherwise crush them. But the ocean goes deeper still.

Drop further and there is the Hadal Zone, another layer found below 6,000m (19,685ft) from the surface. The Hadal Zone is found in the deepest ocean trenches, mostly in the Pacific Ocean, where giant tectonic plates push together far beneath the waves. Danish oceanographer Anton Frederik Bruun coined the term in 1950s, when technology had advanced enough for the first cautious exploration of these submarine chasms. The term hadal came from Hades, the Ancient Greek god of the underworld. It is in complete darkness, temperatures hover just about freezing, and the pressure is around 1,000 times that at sea level.

Finally, this is where the bottom of the Philippine Trench emerges. Many of the points measured along its length are around 10,000m (32,808ft or 6.2 miles) deep and at its lowest point reaches 10,540m (34,580ft) below sea level.

Somewhere within this vast underwater trench, the USS Johnston finally came to rest. But the exact location was very difficult to predict. The ocean's surface is by no means featureless, but its anonymity can make finding the exact locations of naval battles a challenging task. There are no monuments, and no topographical features which aid identification. Underneath the waves, currents and tidal patterns can pull wrecks far from the spot where they sank.

It would be 75 years before human beings saw Johnston again.

There's more at the link.  Fascinating reading for military history buffs and those interested in underwater exploration.


Money talks (with a little help from gasoline)


I've heard of having difficulty in making a withdrawal from your bank, but this isn't the normally recommended way of resolving them.  (A tip o' the hat to Andrew in Australia for sending me the link.)

A man who held up a bank to withdraw his own money has been hailed as a hero by Lebanese furious at being prevented from accessing their savings amid a financial collapse.

Abdallah Assaii is accused of holding seven staff hostage at a bank in Lebanon’s Bekaa Valley last week, dousing them in petrol and threatening to set them alight unless they gave him $US50,000 cash from his account.

Lebanese banks introduced informal capital controls to restrict withdrawals in late 2019 to prevent bank runs. Since then, depositors with US dollar accounts have only been able to withdraw small amounts in Lebanese pounds at an exchange rate far below market value.

With 80 per cent of the population without at least one essential service such as public utilities or health care, many Lebanese excused Assaii, with members of his community saying the 37-year-old needed money to pay for stock at his cafe after a robbery.

“Abdallah managed to do what nobody could do in all of Lebanon,” said an NGO worker from Assaii’s home town. “He didn’t steal the money. It was his.” Many Lebanese say the country’s leaders are to blame for the worsening economic situation.

. . .

Assaii reportedly apologised to the staff he took hostage after he surrendered to police.

While he was arrested, in the confusion he was reportedly able to pass the money to his wife, who remains at large.

There's more at the link.

I wouldn't try that trick at a Texas bank.  Too many of the customers - and probably of the bank staff, too - would be armed!


The clearest predictor yet of out-of-control inflation


Sundance points out that the latest wholesale price increases from Kraft-Heinz amount not just to inflation, but to embryonic hyperinflation.  Bold, underlined text is my emphasis.

Last year, when CTH discussed the original Kraft-Heinz wholesale notification for January 2022, we warned it was only the first round.  The reason for waves of price increases is specifically, because each of the processed food categories is impacted differently depending on the amount of processing involved.  Each category is different.

This understanding is why we warned everyone in October of last year to make as much preparation as possible for waves of food inflation.  The original notification for contracted terms in 30, 60 and 90 days was +20%.  Meaning this month, on those group and sectors, prices to retailers went up by 20%, and you are seeing that in the supermarket now.

For the next wave, Kraft-Heinz is telling wholesalers the fulfillment shipments arriving in March will be up to +30% on the next categories.  Oscar Mayer proteins will be the biggest increase at the top end (+30%), Maxwell House coffee on the lower end (+5-10%) and the juice and drink category around +20%.  [A $5 beverage pack will cost $6 in a few short weeks.]

The processing sector is still dealing with cumulative cost increases.  The fulfillment terms are still catching up with the increased costs.  These announcements are ON TOP OF the current price increases we are feeling.  We are entering hyper-inflation.

. . .

Keep in mind the points we noted in December:

(1) The outlined price increases noted are against current price terms and contracts.  Meaning, these are price increases from right now to the next fulfillment.  These are not inflation price increases which are compared to a year ago.  These are increases from the current price right now.

(2) The price increases are not the final price increase.  This is the price of a contract today from the field to the distribution center.  The retailer also has additional price increases (transportation, energy, labor, etc) which they need to add to the wholesale price before you see the final price at retail (grocery store).

The final field to fork price is not yet known but will be higher than noted above.  We are only seeing the notifications from field through processing and into warehousing and distribution.

Additionally, the more an item needs to be processed, the higher the price increase will be.  Food items that require multiple raw materials, ingredients and bases for processing (ex. condiments), when combined with increased packaging costs (oil, energy), will be much higher than foods with less processing, handling and packaging.

There's more at the link.

So, let's consider a hard number.  If a product costing $1.00 in November went through a 20% wholesale price increase in December, it would have cost the retailer $1.20 to buy it in January (plus the additional costs described above, for which we can't account here) and put it on his shelves.  Given that he'll charge a percentage profit on it, the actual price increase would be more than 20%.

Now, on that same product, a 30% wholesale price increase is to be implemented in March.  That means, in April, a retailer will have to pay $1.56 to put it on his shelves, plus additional costs, plus profit, plus blah blah blah.  In other words, from November to April - six months - the price of that product will have increased by 56c, or 56%.  Over the course of one year, if that rate of increase continues, the item's price will have more than doubled.  Not all product prices will go up by that much, but in our example case, it will.

That's more than 100% inflation in that product's price in a single year - getting perilously close to hyperinflation territory.

There's no point in repeating my frequent warnings to prepare as best you can.  You're now starting to see those warnings become reality.


Thursday, January 27, 2022

A mind-dump from Michael Yon: "Ukraine is a diversion"


In a stream-of-consciousness post from Michael Yon, he puts together what's going on in Ukraine and Taiwan, the invasion of the USA via our southern border, and the COVID-19 brouhaha, and comes up with some disturbing conclusions.  I'm going to take the liberty of copying most of his post here, and highly recommend that you click over to his place to read the rest.  While you're there, consider subscribing to his feed, and supporting him, as I already am.  There are precious few trustworthy independent reporters doing this sort of work.

I've been warning about pandemics for a long time, including a great deal in mid to late 2019. And since January 2020, I've been warning about PanFaWar: Pandemic, Famine, War -- they run together like Three Musketeers. One for all, all for one.

All three -- Pan, Fa, and War -- generate HOP: Human Osmotic Pressure. HOP leads to migration. Sometimes stampedes. Permanent demographic shifts.

It's not difficult to imagine a future where the people in charge of our nuclear arsenal are from places like Somalia. It's bad enough that the monkeys today want to fight Russia deep in Asia -- on Russia's doorstep for a country, that does not care about America and has real nazi lovers in uniform.

Russian can easily counter by putting incredible weapons and other capabilities in Cuba, Venezuela, Central America, and they are experts at many types of information and other sorts of warfare. Russians are serious hombres.

This information war from many sources has already brought brain cancer to America.

Imagine a world in which someone like Lady Gaga or AOC is President. Bradley Manning is Secretary of Defense and some chick with purple hair and a nose ring is Commander of Ranger Regiment.

We've got the military equivalent of Fauci as Chairman of the Joint Chiefs. But Fauci is 10x smarter and more evil. General Mark Milley and SecDef Austin are the slow kids in class, but they are trained monkeys.

Evil is the right word. I am careful with my words. And those who squirmed when Lara Logan compared Fauci to Mengele don't know much about Fauci, or Mengele.

Read NAZI DOCTORS, and Kennedy's book THE REAL ANTHONY FAUCI. Those are good starts.

Lara's comparison was center mass.

Truth is often far more dangerous than lies. Lara got fired but ultimately that is a great thing. Lara is more dangerous as a Lone Ranger from MSM shackles. She's got a lot of friends.

In any fair world, Fauci would be on trial for at least thousands of murders, if not millions.

The more I learn about Fauci's history, the more I suspect he may be doing something even more sinister than just trading lives for money/power. Fauci appears to be committing subtle-genocide since at least his HIV/AIDs days.

I realize...this may sound like moon-howling, but long-time readers know that anytime I talk like this, there turns out to be something in the dark that we eventually find, and it's always something big.

Is genocide a Fauci-aim? I am not a mindreader. Fauci walks like a duck. The duck behaves as a psychopath. We have a psychopath Duck on our hands.

Fauci's galaxy of fraudsters is accruing massive wealth and power while literally committing mass murder. That much is clear and true. What is unknown to me is whether the mass murder is intentional genocide, or just coincidental genocide.

Because, we know, correlation is not causation. (Obligatory statement -- check).

We do not know Fauci's intent. But if his intent is to create subtle genocide while creating a Pharma-Reich, he's doing a great job other than that finally millions of people see it. And that's a setback for Herr Fauci.

Take AIDS, for instance. AZT has been pumped into HIV-positive people who were healthy. AZT itself Causes AIDS. Patient soon dies possibly from the AZT-induced AIDS, all while safer, cheaper medications were blocked by FDA.

So basically, they create the AIDs with AZT, blame it on HIV, and continue cow-milking operations. The United States has spent more than 600 billion dollars on AIDs-craze.

The AZT murder-scam sounds an awful lot like the poison 'vaccines' and Remdesivir.

People test positive for the virus and are admitted to hospital. Pumped with Remdesivir, denied HCQ/ivermectin, etc. Put on vent. They suffer, die, and are cashed in as pandemic victims when in reality they may well be victims of the Fauci-madness that includes Remdesivir and fake vaccines that appear to be causing many problems such as miscarriage. All this while team-Fauci kills off the 'control group' that does not really exist.

All this works in part due to the incredibly efficacious information campaigns. Fauci is infinitely brighter at information war than he is at medicine. If we could hire Fauci to fight China, he'd probably convince Xi to blow up Three Gorges Dam to stop a pandemic.

Some American hospitals have become death camps. You should see my inbox or sit in some of many perpetual meetings. I would not step foot into a hospital for a "covid" one-way-trip.

Ukraine is a diversion. Suck our Army out there and kill off a bunch of Soldiers while we are being invaded from the south. Recently, a jihadist flew in and took Jews hostage in a Texas Synagogue and The Beast is still talking about white-terror. I recently visited the Pulse nightclub in Orlando where a jihadist burst into the gay nightclub and capped about a hundred people, killing almost 50.

Fauci and jihadists are hell on gay people. There is a memorial at the Pulse nightclub. Go see it. Notice there is little evidence of truth about what really happened. Straight up mass murder. Fauci and jihadists have that in common.

Taiwan is naked and alone but does not seem to realize it.

Xi can easily take Taiwan.

Taiwan does not even have a draft. How many Taiwanese can fire a rifle?

Japan must toss out Article 9 and start talking about compulsory military service. This is a matter of life and death.

Our borders are wide open. It's getting worse. They are cutting trails in Darien Gap to make that invasion route simpler.


There's more at the link.

As for President Biden's threat to intervene militarily in Ukraine (which he's apparently withdrawn or toned down now), I think this meme currently circulating on social media says it all.

No s***, Sherlock!  I daresay President Xi's reaction to US threats over Taiwan is rather similar, if not more so.  Anything the hapless, feckless Biden administration tries to do in the geopolitical sphere is likely to elicit this reaction right now . . .


A Supreme Court solution?


With the rumor of the impending retirement of Justice Breyer, Matt Walsh has a suggestion (with his tongue firmly in his cheek, of course).

The thought of a fully costumed furry clad in SCOTUS judicial robes, seated on the bench, is . . . intriguing, to say the least!


"These people hate… absolutely ****ing HATE… the unvaccinated"


That's the conclusion of Bitter Centurion, a Canadian blogger who's found himself kicked out of the Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP) up there because he refused to accept COVID-19 vaccination.

Speaking of two former RCMP colleagues who are going public with their own resistance, he has some interesting things to say.  In my opinion, he exaggerates to a considerable extent, but that's what it is - opinion.  Neither of us can be sure, but both of us see enough to be highly concerned.  He sees enough from his perspective to convince him, and I have to admit, he makes strong points.  I submit his observations can be directly applied to the USA as well.

At this point, it's becoming glaringly obvious to anyone with a functional brain cell that the reactions by the state and media towards the unvaccinated are ONLY about punishment and hurting people who didn't comply, and less to do with protecting anyone.

. . .

Unfortunately, in my humble opinion, these two are more than a bit behind the curve.

They are making some very dangerous assumptions, one of which being that there's anything left to save in our 'democracy' and the status quo.  With the socio-political schisms that were already present (but maybe not apparent to many) in western society even prior to the scam-demic thanks to those miserable Marxist assholes pushing their 'woke' bull****, I'd say we were already on the fast train to Hell.  People were already at daggers drawn, waiting for an excuse to have a go at each other. This is exactly why the pandemic issue became so easily politicized.

Which brings me to the second dangerous assumption these two made, which is that they're assuming that the hardcore pro-vaxx acolytes, fuelled by the likes of PM Blackface, are actually interested in having any kind of meaningful dialogue with the 'unclean', even in spite of this entire narrative falling apart faster than a motorcycle made of the finest grade of Chinesium.

Here's the thing, gents: they're not.  These people hate… absolutely ****ing HATE… the unvaccinated.  They want them to starve.  They want them in camps.  They want them dead.  They don't have the balls to do it themselves, of course, but they certainly aren't interested in hearing a ***damn thing people like them or I might have to say.

Don't believe me?  Try talking sense into one of these stupid mother****ers.  Like one of those idiots out there you see, who wears a mask AND face shield when they're alone in their car.  Walk inside a building with one of them and not wear a mask, or better yet, get within the arbitrary and un-scientifically proven '2 meters' of these people and watch the magic unfold.  Social media is littered with this sort of stuff too, if you want to save yourself the grief.

These people, for all intents and purposes, have been radicalized, no different than any other religious or ideological fanatic.  One might make the suggestion that those PsyOps the Canadian Forces were waging on the public in the last year (reference my previous blog post) might have been leading to this very thing and that suggestion might not be too far out in left field.

. . .

Canada is far more likely to share the same fate as the Balkan conflicts of the 90's because if/when things get bad, there will likely be instability that will lead it to become a failed state, very much like the former Yugoslavia.

Are they going to throw us in camps or force vaccinate us?  Like I said before, I highly doubt it.  But if the economy crashes or we wind up with a massive supply chain crisis, resulting in food and essential supply shortages, both scenarios being highly likely, camps and forced vaccinations might well be the least of our worries.  I don't think it's outside the realm of possibility to see desperate people resorting to some really crazy **** in the course of dealing with the people they're convinced are the cause of all their woes - this being the 'unclean', of course.  THAT is the ****ing 'Boogaloo', not a bunch of unarmed morons walking into the House of Representatives, getting a guided tour by the Capitol Police, and maybe breaking a few windows.

For **** sakes, two years ago these stupid *******s were having Battle Royales over ****ing toilet paper in Walmart.  This is the extent of the imagination and intellect, not to mention a glimpse into the window of savagery, of a radicalized mainstream public that's scared and desperate beyond the point of mania.  2020 should have been a shot across the bow for many people out there, after seeing the extent of the mass hysteria society experienced.  This next bout of fun and games… well, it ain't gonna be pretty. We'll see who was taking notes and studied for the final exam.

There's more at the link.

I have to say that the reaction of Prime Minister Trudeau and his government to the massive truck convoy (described as "likely the world’s largest vehicle convoy in history") heading for Ottawa to protest Canadian anti-COVID policies is very much along the lines Bitter Centurion describes.  They simply don't care about the truckers' point of view, and absolutely refuse to take them seriously.  They're determined to inflict their point of view upon the Canadian nation, and they're treating any opposition to their policies as almost high treason.

We're seeing growing opposition to similar policies here in the USA, and an equal determination on the part of Democratic Party representatives, senators and operatives to ignore such opposition and continue to ram through their failed policies at any cost.  They're doubling down on failure.  Will they wake up before it's too late? - or will we have to get rid of them the hard way?  They may not accept defeat at the polls.  The cheating which led to their takeover of national power in 2020 was unprecedented in its scope, but there's nothing to stop them trying the same shenanigans again - and that will simply not be accepted by at least half the nation.  It's a recipe for disaster, and it's getting perilously close.

I daresay we'll soon see whether Bitter Centurion's forecasts for Canada are equally applicable to the USA.  I hope he's wrong.  I fear he may be right.  In case he is, remember Luke 11:21 and Luke 22:36, and apply them to protecting your family and loved ones.  There may be nobody else willing and/or able to do so, whether they're sworn to "protect and serve" or not.