Thursday, March 12, 2020

The List 5238

The List 5238 TGB

To All,

I hope that your week has been going well.



Today in Naval History

March 12

1864—During the Civil War, Union screw gunboat Aroostook captures the schooner Marion near Velasco, Texas and the screw steamer Massachusetts captures the sloop Persis in Wassaw Sound, GA.

1904—The Marine detachment from USS Cincinnati (C 7) provides protection and assistance during the evacuation of Americans from Chemuplo (Inchon) and Seoul, Korea, when they are endangered by the Russo-Japanese War.

1942—President Franklin D. Roosevelt designates Adm. Ernest J. King to serve as the Chief of Naval Operations, as well as the Commander-in-Chief, United States Fleet (he was appointed on Dec. 30, 1941).

1943—USS Champlin (DD 601) sinks German submarine U-130, which had previously sunk 25 Allied vessels, including three US Navy ships during Operation Torch.

1956—The first missile firing aircraft squadron, Attack Squadron 83, is deployed overseas aboard USS Intrepid (CVA 11).

Thanks to CHINFO

Executive Summary:

• Secretary Thomas Modly spoke with reporters on Tuesday over discrepancies between the Navy and DoD shipbuilding plans, Breaking Defense Reports.

• The Department of Defense announced significant travel restrictions for service members, civilian employees and family members to curb the spread of coronavirus, multiple outlets report.

• Multiple outlets report that three service members, two Americans and one British, were killed in a rocket attack in Iraq.

Today in History March12


The Jews are expelled from Syria.


Cesare Borgia dies while fighting alongside his brother, the king of Navarre, in Spain.


The Bermuda Islands become an English colony.


New Jersey becomes a British colony.


The United States Post Office is established.


Great Britain signs a treaty with Persia forcing the French out of the country.


President Jefferson Davis delivers his State of the Confederacy address.


The British Zulu War begins.


Mississippi establishes the first U.S. state college for women.


Coca-Cola is sold in bottles for the first time.


The Czar of Russia issues a decree providing for nominal freedom of religion throughout the land.


British Parliament increases naval appropriations for Great Britain.


Dr. Fletcher of the Rockefeller Institute discovers the cause of infantile paralysis.


Juliet Low founds the Girl Scouts in Savannah, Georgia.


Russian troops mutiny as the "February Revolution" begins.


Gandhi begins his march to the sea to symbolizes his defiance of British rule in India.


President Paul von Hindenburg drops the flag of the German Republic and orders that the swastika and empire banner be flown side by side.


President Roosevelt makes the first of his Sunday evening fireside chats.


German troops enter Austria without firing a shot, forming the anschluss (union) of Austria and Germany.


Pius XII is elected the new pope in Rome.


Great Britain bars all travel to neutral Ireland, which is suspected of collaborating with Nazi Germany.


Diarist Anne Frank dies in a German concentration camp.


The U.S. House of Representatives joins the Senate in approving the statehood of Hawaii.


Lebanese President Gemayel opens the second meeting in five years calling for the end to nine-years of war.


The United States and the Soviet Union begin arms control talks in Geneva.


The Church of England ordains women priests.


Thanks to NHHC. Click on the Battle of the Sundra Strait below to learn more

U.S., Australian, Indonesian Sailors Commemorate WWII Battle of Sunda Strait

To commemorate the 77th anniversary of the Battle of Sunda Strait, Sailors from mine countermeasures ship USS Chief attended a wreath laying ceremony aboard Indonesian navy ship Kri Usman Harun, March 1. The ceremony honored the crews who lost their lives on USS Houston and HMAS Perth during the World War II battle. “It is important to remember the sacrifice of the Sailors that have gone before us to pay tribute to shipmates who have made the ultimate commitment while personifying the essence of duty,” said Lt. Cmdr. Fred Crayton, commanding officer of Chief. “It is events like the commemoration of the Battle of Sunda Strait that captures the fighting spirit and significance of Sailors who chose obligation over existence. These were heroes that embodied honor, courage, and commitment and who should always be remembered.” To learn more, read the article. Also read H-Gram 003: The Valor of the Asiatic Fleet, Lest We Forget at NHHC’s website, and Lost but not forgotten: Ocean relics of WWII battle that discusses efforts to preserve the wrecks.


Thanks to Dr. Rich

March 10-11 in aviation history are speed days.

In 1948 – NACA test pilot Herbert Henry Hoover becomes the first civilian to fly faster than the speed of sound, reaching 703 mph (Mach 1.065) aboard the No. 2 Bell XS-1.

In 1956 – The British-built Fairey Delta 2 research aircraft flown by Lt Cdr Peter Twiss sets a new world airspeed record of 1,132 mph, becoming the first plane to exceed 1,000 mph in level flight. The new mark bests the previous record by 300 mph, set a year earlier by a North American F-100 Super Sabre.

In 1957 – The prototype Boeing 707 jet lands after a press demonstration flight from Seattle, Washington to Baltimore, Maryland during which it covers 2,350 miles in a record time of 3 hours 48 minutes, an average speed of 618 mph.

And this notable sunset:

In 1960 – The last flight by a United States Air Force-operated North American B-25 Mitchell takes place, when TB-25 J-25-NC, 44-30854, the last Mitchell in the U. S. Air Force inventory, lands at Eglin Air Force Base, Florida, for preservation.

Thanks to Doctor Rich

Yeager won’t be happy w. this announcement (below) … or did he change his name …

Actually, I believe a North American test pilot, broke the sound barrier before Yeager … twice I think, before they forbid him to retract his gear during flights until Yeager flew the X-1 … sonic booms heard clearly at Happy Bottom before Yeager made the attempt ...



thanks to Hal and Dutch

Compare the Wuhan virus to the Spanish Flu of 1918

I think our leaders know about how a local disease becomes a pandemic. No doubt they know of the results of the Spanish Influenza that went global in 1918. After WWII, I lived for a while in Daisy, Tennessee. Just a very rural country village, not big enough to be a town. Not even one stop sign or stoplight on Highway 27. I remember the cemetery there in a pine forest and you soon notice that about half of the village died within three weeks of each other. That was the Spanish Flu. Worldwide the Spanish flu left hundreds of thousands of children orphaned. The population of the USA then was 103,208,000. Today we count 327,200,000.

I have heard some people disagree with the current Wuhan virus victims being taken to military bases, and to military hospitals. You need to know that our military is trained to take care of biological and chemical casualties on the battlefield. They are not only equipped, but they are likely the best trained in our country. Most city hospitals are not.

As I have said before, China owns this one. After SARS and MERS, this virus has crashed the stock markets, disrupted production of goods worldwide, caused the cancellation of hundreds of events and the closure of colleges and schools. And it isn't over yet. Be smart and protect yourself and your families. It may not dissipate until hot weather comes.




March 11

First cases reported in deadly Spanish flu pandemic

Just before breakfast on the morning of March 11, Private Albert Gitchell of the U.S. Army reports to the hospital at Fort Riley, Kansas, complaining of the cold-like symptoms of sore throat, fever and headache. By noon, over 100 of his fellow soldiers had reported similar symptoms, marking what are believed to be the first cases in the historic influenza pandemic of 1918, later known as Spanish flu. The flu would eventually kill 675,000 Americans and an estimated 20 million to 50 million people around the world, proving to be a far deadlier force than even the First World War.

READ MORE: Why October 1918 Was America's Deadliest Year

The initial outbreak of the disease, reported at Fort Riley in March, was followed by similar outbreaks in army camps and prisons in various regions of the country. The disease soon traveled to Europe with the American soldiers heading to aid the Allies on the battlefields of France. (In March 1918 alone, 84,000 American soldiers headed across the Atlantic; another 118,000 followed them the next month.) Once it arrived on a second continent, the flu showed no signs of abating: 31,000 cases were reported in June in Great Britain. The disease was soon dubbed the Spanish flu due to the shockingly high number of deaths in Spain (some 8 million, it was reported) after the initial outbreak there in May 1918.

The flu showed no mercy for combatants on either side of the trenches. Over the summer, the first wave of the epidemic hit German forces on the Western Front, where they were waging a final, no-holds-barred offensive that would determine the outcome of the war. It had a significant effect on the already weakening morale of the troops—as German army commander Crown Prince Rupprecht wrote on August 3: poor provisions, heavy losses, and the deepening influenza have deeply depressed the spirits of men in the III Infantry Division. Meanwhile, the flu was spreading fast beyond the borders of Western Europe, due to its exceptionally high rate of virulence and the massive transport of men on land and aboard ship due to the war effort. By the end of the summer, numerous cases had been reported in Russia, North Africa and India; China, Japan, the Philippines and even New Zealand would eventually fall victim as well.

READ MORE: How America Struggled to Bury the Dead During the 1918 Flu Pandemic

The Great War ended on November 11, but influenza continued to wreak international havoc, flaring again in the U.S. in an even more vicious wave with the return of soldiers from the war and eventually infecting an estimated 28 percent of the country’s population before it finally petered out. In its December 28, 1918, issue, the American Medical Association acknowledged the end of one momentous conflict and urged the acceptance of a new challenge: fighting infectious disease.


The World Clock

thanks to Donna and Dutch


thanks to Ben

The consequences of a no bail law are easily predictable to anyone with half a brain, something apparently the members NY State Dim legislature have even less of.

The Big Apple's Big Crime Wave

By Lewis Morris for the Patriot Post

The results are in on New York's new "bail reform" law that prohibits requiring cash bail for people arrested for misdemeanors and nonviolent felonies. Shock of shocks, it's a complete disaster.

Just two months after the new law implementing so-called bail reform went into effect, crime in New York City has skyrocketed. Major crimes are up 22% compared to a year ago. And the New York Police Department reports, "In the first 58 days of 2020, 482 individuals who had already been arrested for committing a serious (felony) crime such as robbery or burglary were rearrested for committing an additional 846 crimes. Thirty-five percent, or 299, were for arrests in the seven major crime categories — murder, rape, robbery, felony assault, burglary, grand larceny and grand larceny auto — that is nearly triple the amount of those crimes committed in the same 58 days in 2019." This doesn't distinguish between crime committed by citizens and illegal aliens, but the latter are responsible for a vastly disproportionate number of crimes.

Bail reform was rammed through the New York State Legislature after Democrats seized control of both houses in the last election. The goal was to remove cash bail to help reduce the city's prison population. It was also believed that cash bail was unfair because a large number of suspects couldn't afford it and would be stuck in jail awaiting trial. In some extreme cases this has led to suspects spending extraordinary amounts of time behind bars before having their day in court.

This is another great example of leftist cost transference. Prisons are less crowded, but everything else is much, much more expensive.

The right to a speedy trial is enshrined in the Constitution, but there are surely better ways to address prison overcrowding than to remove a judge's power to determine a suspect's danger to the public and guarantee whether a suspect shows up for trial. According to the law, judges can set a cash bail in situations where it is proven that the suspect is a flight risk. There are also ankle monitors and police check-ins to ensure the suspect hasn't flown the coop.

The problem with the bail-reform law is that the criminals being released are often serial offenders who many times proudly exhibit their lack of respect for the law.

Take turnstile jumper Charles Barry, who, after being arrested 139 times for various subway infractions, was let back out on the street. He told a reporter from the New York Daily News, "I'm famous! I take $200, $300 a day of your money, cracker! You can't stop me!"

Then there is Gerod Woodberry, who committed four bank robberies between December 30 and January 8. But because he did not use a gun to pull off the stickups, he is out on the street. He could commit a fifth robbery tomorrow, and the NYPD would have to let him go. "I can't believe they let me out," Woodberry told the New York Post. "What were they thinking?"

The short answer is, not much. As might be expected, leftist groups like the Legal Aid Society have doubled down on support for bail reform, claiming that publicizing stories like Barry's or Woodberry's is a "scare tactic." It has even started a TV ad campaign running throughout New York State urging citizens to reject any changes to the law.

Citizen support for bail reform, which was never great to begin with, has plummeted. Even Democrat New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio admitted publicly that the recent sharp rise in crime was due to the bail-reform law. Whether he will put his diminishing political power behind changing the policy is yet to be determined.

In sharing the recent crime statistics with reporters, NYPD Police Commissioner Dermot Shea said, "Each number represents a victim." He's right, and the victims are who law enforcement and the court system should be most concerned with, not serial offenders with no respect for the law.

Thanks to Dutch

The great coronavirus war is upon us By staying calm and rational we can defeat COVID-19, the living, breathing enemy

“As of early this week, the relatively lightweight bug had killed fewer than 30 Americans. But we seem to be acting as if it has already killed 200,000 of us.”

The great coronavirus war is upon us

By staying calm and rational we can defeat COVID-19, the living, breathing enemy

By Victor Davis Hanson

Try this thought experiment. Envision the coronavirus, also known as COVID-19, as a living, breathing enemy — which, of course, is exactly what it is.

But imagine for a moment that we are in real war with a cognizant, thinking and clever enemy whose sole reason to live is to hurt, maim or kill as many of us as it can.

COVID-19 may not have jets, tanks or nukes, like our past enemies. But its arsenal, numbers, cunning and willpower are said to be formidable.

To win its war against Americans, COVID-19 must infect and sicken lots of Americans each day. If it cannot infect enough victims to multiply and sustain a hungry army of viruses, COVID-19 will soon sputter and die. It will get trapped in just a few hosts among an otherwise victorious and healthy nation of about 330 million.

Nature has given COVID-19 some weapons that its defeated cousins — the H1N1 swine flu and the MERS and SARS viruses — lacked.

It is more clever by being less lethal — and a little tougher in its ability to live outside a host. Viral resiliency ensures that it rarely turns into a suicide bomber by dying with a terminally sick host, and that it does not perish so quickly when orphaned in the air and on surfaces.

The coronavirus has allies. It infiltrates our defenses by using our own weapons against us — our dirty hands, the habitual touching of the face, and indiscreet sneezing and coughing.

Poor personal and public hygiene gives the virus some sustenance and camouflage. To win — defined as sickening or killing thousands of us — COVID-19 counts on our laxity. It hates careful individuals who block its invasion into the eyes, nose and mouth.

Remember, unlike our past human enemies, COVID-19 is invisible to the naked eye, even more so than the most stealthy terrorists or underground enemy agents. It does not leave a smell. It cannot be heard. It certainly cannot be touched. We know COVID-19 only by the damage it does to us, even after it has left, leaving its trail of fever, fatigue, congestion and labored breathing.

COVID-19 also relies on ignorance of its complexity and sophistication. It assumes that our experts will not learn how this new virus originated, how it spreads and how it sickens or kills.

So the virus hopes that we cannot effectively quarantine the sick, or at least not before a pandemic spreads.

In desperation, the enemy virus hopes that even if our researchers can quickly infiltrate the COVID-19 master borg and learn its deepest secrets, we will still be unable to treat it with medicines or prevent it with vaccines — or at least not before it becomes a plague of biblical proportions.

To a popular culture that laps up creepy zombie movies, the virus certainly knows how to use its greatest weapons: fright and panic. As of early this week, the relatively lightweight bug had killed fewer than 30 Americans. But we seem to be acting as if it has already killed 200,000 of us.

If COVID-19 can create fear that we will end up like the grotesque monsters on television, perhaps we, its enemy, will go on hoarding binges that result in shortages of masks, gloves and supplies for the health providers who need them most. Or, if the virus can scare us enough that we cease working and interacting, our canceled- out economy will grind to a halt. Or maybe the coronavirus can cleverly keep hopping on jets between countries and states, sowing dissension as nations blame one other for its creation and contagion, and politicians seek to destroy each other rather than band

As of early this week, the relatively lightweight bug had killed fewer than 30 Americans. But we seem to be acting as if it has already killed 200,000 of us.

together to kill the virus. COVID-19 counts on globalization as it sneaks onto jets and ships. In a few hours, it can find a new home and new hosts to terrify — even thousands of miles away. It is a vengeful enemy. It knows we have killed off or rendered impotent most of its fellow viruses. Its cousin, the flu, has not since 1918 translated its annual tactical wins into a strategic pandemic victory. Viruses and anti-human microbes have not had a major win in America in decades, perhaps not since polio used to terrorize, cripple and kill thousands of Americans annually.

COVID-19 believes our progress, confidence and sophistication are not our strengths but rather our greatest weakness, as our vanity and assumed invulnerability render us ripe for panic.

The battle is upon us. But if we stay calm and rational, we can easily defeat the enemy, whose reputation is likely far scarier than its reality.

Victor Davis Hanson, a classicist and historian at the Hoover Institution at Stanford University, is the author of “The Second World Wars: How the First Global Conflict Was Fought and Won” (Basic Books, 2017).

Copyright (c) 2020 Washington Times , Edition 3/12/2020

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Daily News from Military Periscope for 12 March

USA—30-Day Ban On Travelers From Europe Aims To Stem Tide Of Coronavirus NPR News | 03/12/2020 President Donald Trump has announced a 30-day ban on travelers entering the U.S. from Europe in an effort to stymie the growth of novel coronavirus (COVID-19), reports NPR News. On Wednesday, Trump said that the new policy would enter effect Friday at midnight. The Dept. of Homeland Security said that the policy would only apply to foreign nationals arriving from Europe's Schengen area, which allows visa-free travel between members. Ireland and the U.K. are not part of the pact. Permanent residents would also be exempted, noted CNBC. The State Dept. urged Americans to reconsider travel abroad. Cargo and trade would not be affected, noted USA Today. There are 1,135 confirmed cases of the virus in the U.S., with 38 deaths to date. Many experts expressed skepticism that the measures would affect the growth of the virus, noting that most of Europe has the same or fewer cases than the U.S. Others emphasized that the focus now needed to be on mitigating the spread of COVID-19 in the U.S. rather than expending limited resources trying to keep it out.

USA—Marine Dies In Training Exercise In U.A.E. Marine Corps Times | 03/12/2020 A U.S. Marine has been killed and two others injured in a training accident in the United Arab Emirates, reports the Marine Corps Times. On Tuesday, a Medium Tactical Vehicle Replacement (MTVR) truck operated by Marines from Combat Logistics Battalion 1 at Camp Pendleton, Calif., rolled over while driving on a road, reported the Orange County Register. The Marine, a motor vehicle operator, was pronounced dead at the scene. Another suffered serious injury and one non-life-threatening injuries. The Marines were in the Emirates as part of exercise Native Fury, a joint service, biennial exercise focusing on responses to natural disasters, reported KNSD (San Diego, Calif.).

USA—Marines Revamps MUX Drone Program USNI News | 03/12/2020 The U.S. Marine Corps has decided to take a different direction with its MUX uncrewed aerial vehicle (UAV) program, reports USNI News. The project, unveiled in 2016, sought to acquire a large UAV capable of performing a wide variety of missions and taking off and landing vertically from amphibious ships. The system was to be able to conduct missions such as command, control and communication (C3); early warning; persistent fires; escort; electronic warfare; reconnaissance, intelligence, surveillance and target acquisition (RISTA); and tactical distribution. Following discussions with industry, the service realized that the requirements were too ambitious, said program officials. For example, a UAV capable of both airborne early warning and communications relay missions as well as vertical takeoff would have been very challenging to develop. The Corps now plans to develop a family of UAVs featuring a large ground-launched UAV and a medium-sized drone to operate from warships.

USA—National Guard Activated To Help Contain Coronavirus Outbreak In New York British Broadcasting Corp. | 03/12/2020 New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo has ordered the deployment of the National Guard to a suburb of New York City to help contain a cluster of coronavirus (COVID-19) cases there, reports BBC News. On Tuesday, Cuomo announced that the Guard would be sent to New Rochelle to deliver food to quarantined people and clean public school buildings, public transit and bus depots, reported the Washington Post. The state of New York has reported 173 cases of COVID-19, of which 108 are in New Rochelle. Cuomo has also ordered the creation of a 1-mile (1.6-km) diameter containment zone around the city, ordering the closure of public schools and other large gathering places in the city for two weeks. People who are not personally quarantined will be free to go to work and local businesses can remain open, reported the Military Times.

USA—Lockheed ATACMS Replacement Aces Second Test Lockheed Martin | 03/12/2020 Lockheed Martin has successfully test-fired its offering for the Army's Precision Strike Missile (PrSM) program for the second time. On Tuesday, the missile was launched from a High Mobility Artillery Rocket System (HIMARS) at White Sands Missile Range, N.M., Lockheed said in a release. The missile accurately hit its target at a distance of about 112 miles (180 km), the company said. This was a shorter range than the previous PrSM test, but more challenging since the missile must ascend and descend more quickly, Lockheed officials told Defense News. The trial was designed to confirm the missile's flight path, range and accuracy, warhead lethality, integration with the HIMARS launcher and overall missile performance. A third test scheduled for May is expected to demonstrate the missile’s performance at an even shorter range, company officials said. Raytheon is also competing for the PrSM program, which is intended to replace the Army Tactical Missile System (ATACMS), with its DeepStrike missile. Testing has been delayed due to technical issues. The Army seeks to field the PrSM in 2023.

United Kingdom—Saab Wins ARTHUR Radar Upgrade Work Saab | 03/12/2020 The U.K. Ministry of Defense has awarded Saab a contract to modernize its ARTHUR weapon-locating radars, reports the Swedish defense firm. The US$57.7 million deal covers a mid-life update and service support intended to keep the radars in service for another 15 years, said a Saab release on Tuesday. The upgrade will focus on replacing obsolescent components with modern technology. Deliveries are scheduled for 2022 and 2023, with service support work to run from 2020 to 2026, said the company. The U.K. has been operating the ARTHUR since 2003, including deployments in Afghanistan and Iraq.

Norway—Cold Response Drill Cut Short Over Coronavirus Concerns U.S. European Command | 03/12/2020 Norway has called off the remaining elements of the multinational Cold Response exercise over concerns about the spread of the novel coronavirus (COVID-19), reports U.S. European Command. The exercise began March 9 and had been scheduled to conclude on March 18, noted the Military Times. The drills were designed to increase the ability of the participants to operate above the Arctic Circle. The military needs to conserve its ability to respond and support society during and after the outbreak, said Lt. Gen. Rune Jakobsen, the chief of operations staff with the Norwegian military, as quoted by the High North News. The Norwegian armed forces have already quarantined 244 personnel due to the virus. Work is also underway to prevent large gatherings of troops, including canceling a Home Guard exercise. Multiple exercises have been canceled or scaled back due to the spread of COVID-19, including Juniper Cobra in Israel, African Lion in Morocco and annual joint exercises in South Korea. Around two dozen U.S. personnel are believed to have been quarantined in Norway ahead of the exercise for possible exposure to the novel coronavirus, reported the Stars and Stripes. The Finnish military announced on March 8 that it was withdrawing its 400 troops from Cold Response due to coronavirus concerns.

Netherlands—Mladic Hearings Postponed For Health Reasons Balkan Insight | 03/12/2020 An appeals hearing for Bosnian Serb military leader Ratko Mladic has been delayed due to health concerns, reports the Balkan Insight. On Wednesday, the Mechanism for International Criminal Tribunals in The Hague postponed Mladic's hearing, which was scheduled for March 17-18. The convicted war criminal is scheduled for surgery to remove a polyp in his colon. Recovery is expected to take up to six weeks. His lawyers are appealing a life sentence handed down in November 2017 for crimes that include the genocide in Srebrenica in 1995 and siege of Sarajevo. A date for the final verdict has not been set but will be held before the end of the year, said a court official.

Turkey—Military Continues To Hammer Out Details Of Joint Patrols With Russia In Idlib Anadolu News Agency | 03/12/2020 Turkish officials say that talks are progressing with their Russian counterparts over the details of a cease-fire reached last week in northwestern Syria, reports Turkey's Anadolu Agency. A Russian military delegation is in Ankara to finalize the details of joint patrols along the strategic M4 highway in Idlib, Defense Minister Hulusi Akar told reporters on Thursday. Officials have largely agreed on the details of the cease-fire, Akar said, as cited by Al Jazeera (Qatar). Turkish forces will respond with force to any violations of the March 5 truce, the minister said. Many Turkish troops are collocated with Syrian rebels fighting the government in Damascus. Turkey has paused Operation Spring Shield, launched in February after 34 of its troops were killed in regime attacks, in an effort to reach a comprehensive solution in the northwestern Syrian province. Syrian regime advances, backed by Russia, have substantially reduced rebel and Turkish control in the province, the last bastion of Syria's armed opposition.

China—U.S. Destroyer Conducts FONOP Near Paracel Islands In S. China Sea Global Times | 03/12/2020 The Chinese military has accused a U.S. warship of entering Chinese territorial waters near the disputed Paracel Islands in the South China Sea, reports state-run Global Times (China). On Tuesday, the guided-missile destroyer USS McCampbell sailed into territorial waters claimed by China near the islands, said a People's Liberation Army's Southern Theater Command spokesman. The U.S. warship did not seek permission before entering, he said. The Southern Theater Command mobilized air and naval assets to follow, monitor and identify the U.S. ship, which left without incident. The U.S. Navy 7th Fleet confirmed the freedom of navigation operation to Agence France-Presse. A 7th Fleet spokeswoman said that the operation demonstrated that the islands are beyond what China can lawfully claim as its territorial sea and that Beijing's claimed baselines in the region are inconsistent with international law.

China—Xi Pays 1st Visit To Wuhan Since COVID-19 Outbreak Xinhua | 03/12/2020 Chinese President Xi Jinping has made his first visit to Wuhan, the capital of the central Hubei province, since the start of the coronavirus outbreak there last year, reports Xinhua, China’s state-run news agency. On Tuesday, Xi visited a hospital treating patients infected with COVID-19, speaking with doctors via video link. He was also expected to meet with first responders, government and military personnel and members of the community. During the visit, Xi emphasized that China's efforts to control the outbreak have "turned the tide." Xi’s visit is a sign that the government believes the outbreak to be under control, noted experts cited by the Taipei Times. Analysts cited by the Guardian (U.K.) said hat the visit was designed to signal that the worst was over as part of efforts to restart the economy after its freeze over the last six weeks. The number of new cases of COVID-19 has declined rapidly in recent days, with only 19 new cases announced in Hubei province on Monday and none elsewhere in China over the previous three days. The decline in new cases in conjunction with the spikes elsewhere provided a propaganda opportunity for the Communist Party to stress the strength of the Chinese system and drown out criticism of how Beijing's initial inaction and information controls contributed to the spread of the virus, experts said.

China—Beidou Satellite Network Nears Completion With Successful Launch Spaceflight Now | 03/12/2020 China’s Beidou indigenous precision navigation and timing (PNT) network is approaching completion after the successful launch of the penultimate satellite, reports Spaceflight Now. On Monday, the spacecraft was placed into a geosynchronous transfer orbit on a Long March-3B rocket from the Xichang Satellite Launch Center in the southwestern Sichuan province, reported Xinhua, China’s state-run news agency. This was the 54th Beidou satellite to be launched overall and the 29th as part of the third-generation Beidou system, noted the South China Morning Post. The final satellite in the third-generation fleet is scheduled for launch in May. The third-generation constellation consists of 24 satellites in medium earth orbit, three satellites in geosynchronous earth orbit and three satellites in an inclined geosynchronous earth orbit. China began launching the third-generation Beidou satellites three years ago. The first-generation Beidou satellites have all been removed from service.

Burma—2 Civilians Killed In Land Mine Blast In Shan State Irrawaddy | 03/12/2020 Two civilians have been killed and another wounded by a land mine in Burma's northern Shan State, reports the Irrawaddy (Burma). On Tuesday, the device detonated near a group foraging near Kham Sar village, Kyaukme township, said police. Two men died at the scene. A third was transferred to a local hospital. It was unclear who placed the device. The Restoration Council of Shan State (RCSS), Ta’ang National Liberation Army (TNLA) and Burmese army are involved in fighting in the area. The conflict and presence of land mines has made investigating the attack difficult, said police. The Burmese government says that it continues to use land mines on a "limited basis," according to the Landmine and Cluster Munition Monitor. There were 176 land mine casualties reported in 2017, 278 in 2018 and 168 from January to September 2019, most in Burma's northern states, according to UNICEF.

Iraq—3 Coalition Members Killed In Attack On Base N. Of Baghdad Rudaw | 03/12/2020 Two U.S. troops and a British servicemember have been killed in a rocket attack on a military base north of Baghdad, reports Rudaw (Iraqi Kurdistan). On Wednesday, 15 Katyusha rockets struck Camp Taji, about 17 miles (27 km) north of the Iraqi capital, said a spokesman for the U.S.-led coalition for defeating ISIS. Another U.S. defense source told CNN that 18 107-mm rockets hit the base. The Iraqi military found a pickup truck with a launcher with three unfired rockets in the southern Baghdad neighborhood of Rashidiya along the Tigris River, according to a U.S. military statement. The source said the launcher could fire up to 30 rockets but many did not work. At least 12 personnel sustained wounds ranging from light to serious, a coalition official told Agence France-Presse. The British Defense Ministry confirmed the death of a member of the Royal Army Medical Corps on Thursday and announced that it was investigating the attack. U.S. officials blamed Iran-backed Iraqi militias for the attack. Meanwhile, pro-Iranian militia bases on the Iraqi border with Syria were hit by a series of airstrikes, reported the U.K.-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights late Wednesday. At least 26 Iraqi members of pro-Iran militias were killed, reported BBC News. It was unclear if the strikes were related to the rocket attack. Israel and the U.S. are both believed to have attacked Iranian assets in the region in the past, said analysts.

Syria—Russia Denies Turkey Destroyed Pantsyr Air Defense Systems In Syria Tass | 03/12/2020 The Russian Ministry of Defense has rejected Turkish reports that its military destroyed eight Pantsyr air defense systems operated by the Syrian government during recent operations in Idlib province, reports Russia’s Tass news agency. Only two Pantsyrs were damaged during the operation, both of which were expected to return to service following repairs, the Russian Ministry of Defense said on Tuesday. The Syrian military had only deployed four of the systems to Idlib province at the time, with the rest stationed around Damascus, the ministry said. On Tuesday, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan claimed that shelling during the Turkish offensive destroyed eight Pantsyrs, reported the Daily Sabah (Ankara). Video footage released by the Turkish Ministry of Defense last week appeared to show the destruction of at least one Pantsyr.

Zimbabwe—U.S. Sanctions Former Presidential Guard Commander, Security Minister U.S. Treasury Dept. | 03/12/2020 The U.S. Treasury Dept. has imposed sanctions on two Zimbabwean officials for their involvement in human-rights abuses. Announced on Wednesday, the sanctions target Minister of National Security Owen Ncube and Anselem Sanyatwe, currently the Zimbabwean ambassador to Tanzania. Ncube is accused of overseeing a campaign of harassment and violence against members of the opposition. Sanyatwe is believed to ordered attacks on peaceful protesters in 2018, when he was commander of the army's Presidential Guard Brigade. In a separate statement on Wednesday, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo urged the Zimbabwean government to end its "state-sponsored violence including against peaceful protesters, civil society, labor leaders and members of the opposition" and hold violators accountable, reported Reuters. Six protesters were killed in the 2018 movement that arose in opposition to the election of Emmerson Mnangagwa.


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THE MYSTERIOUS PHONE CALL Jack Blanchard's Column February 13, 2021

        Thousands of readers around the world ...