Ad Astra

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“This dog won’t hunt…”

Fighting is raging around three major cities in southern and western Afghanistan as Taliban militants seek to seize them from government forces.

Taliban fighters have entered parts of Herat, Lashkar Gah and Kandahar.

They have made rapid gains in rural areas since it was announced almost all foreign troops would go by September.

But the fate of these key cities could be crucial amid fears of a humanitarian crisis and how long government forces will be able to hold out.

The fundamentalist Islamist militia is already thought to have captured up to half of all Afghanistan’s territory, including lucrative border crossings with Iran and Pakistan.

One MP in Kandahar told the BBC the city was at serious risk of falling, with tens of thousands of people already displaced and a humanitarian disaster looming.

Gul Ahmad Kamin said the situation was getting worse hour by hour, and the fighting within the city was the most severe in 20 years.

He said the Taliban now saw Kandahar as a major focal point, a city they want to make their temporary capital. If it fell, then five or six other provinces in the region would also be lost, Mr Kamin said.” The Beeb

Comment: Us deplorables have a variety of folksy, countrified sayings. “This dog won’t hunt” is one such. In this case the dog is the Afghan armed forces (AAF). They massively outnumber the Taliban and other recidivist medieval freaks. They have all sorts of weapons in abundance. they still have the immense advantage of US tactical air support flying from places like Qatar. F-15E Strikeagle, AC-130 multi-engine gunships and god knows what else.

And still this dog won’t hunt. IMO they all have a sneaking feeling that the Taliban are in the right. As many very secularized Muslims told me over the decades when asked about the salafist inclinations of their children, “they are showing us what we should be.” pl

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Posted in Afghanistan, As The Borg Turns, Middle East | 8 Comments

Arianespace Vol VA254 – Star One D2 / EUTELSAT QUANTUM (FR)

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Posted in Space | 1 Comment

Yeah, the Dems really love yah. Ask them.

Condescension is Biden’s Middle name

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Posted in Politics | 7 Comments

Saving the Byzantine Pompeii of Thessaloníki

The following article by Alexis Georgoulis from Euronews reviews the dangers to the Late Roman and Early Byzantine (4th~9th Centuries AD) remains that were discovered in construction of the Venizelos metro station at Thessaloniki’s urban center. These are highly extensive (1,500m²) archeological findings of great historical and cultural importance. The problem is how to preserve them while completing the station. There are two approaches. Either to excavate beneath the ruins and build the station there, thus saving the ruins in situ, or to dismantle them into fragments and temporarily store them outside the city for later reassembly after the completion of station construction. Of the two approaches, dismantling the ruins for later reassembly is archeologically worthless. Infiltrating this decision we have the usual complex banking and EU political problems.

The major question here is simple: does the past matter to a woke generation that probably doesn’t know the difference between Late Roman and Early Byzantine periods. The Greek heritage deeply infused Roman culture and dominated Byzantine culture till its final conquest in 1453. We know for example that the poetry of Sappho with a bulk of the Greek literary inheritance was still available in Constantinople up to the 12th century, but much was lost during our European West’s destruction of the city during the Fourth Crusade (1202~04). Try to imagine what western culture would have achieved if the bulk of Greek poetry, history, philosophy, mathematics, science, engineering had been available in the early renaissance. What survived and we now have is just a fragment of the wealth.

Classical studies are now suffering from their sleeping obsolescence. Greek and Latin programs have being seriously cut or eliminated throughout the American university system. I see no end to that process, which has affected even our major research institutions. What value do Classics have to the economic importance of STEM or the influence of CRT? Still, the labor in Greek continues. The two-volume Cambridge Greek Lexicon has just been published, and mine will be arriving shortly. It represents a completely new review of Greek semantic usage by an extensive body of scholars. It doesn’t replace, but crucially supplements the old Liddell & Scott edition. All who love Greek or are hopefully trying to learn it should consider purchase.

Alexis Georgoulis

In Greece, an archaeological site of incalculable value is today at great risk of being irretrievably damaged.

In 2013, the construction of the Venizelos metro station in Thessaloniki led to the discovery of impressive remains dating back to the Late Roman and Early Byzantine period (4th-9th century AD), a time when Thessaloniki was considered a multicultural city at the crossroads of East and West.

These archaeological findings are of immense historical and cultural importance because nowhere in the world has archaeology found a city’s central urban area belonging to this period which is so well preserved and boasts such a sprawling surface (the site covers over 1,500 m²).

The monumental ensemble includes parts of the Roman marble paved avenue Decumanus Maximus, its intersection with the main road of the city (the cardo maximus), workshops, shops and residencies, and portions of a square surrounded by colonnades. Some experts are even referring to the complex as the “Byzantine Pompeii” because it is found in excellent condition, and, as in the case of Pompeii, it gives a clear idea of how everyday life looked like back then.

But the way the Greek government has decided to handle the spectacular discovery has sparked a fierce debate, both at national and international level, and deserves the attention – and perhaps the intervention – of the European institutions.about:blank

In March 2020, despite the significance of this monumental complex and against the majority opinion of the archaeological community, the government decided to dismantle the ancient findings into bits and pieces and temporarily move them to a storage unit outside the city, with the intention of placing them back after the station’s construction. The main argument behind this decision was the need to finish the station’s construction in time and avoid any repercussions by the European Investment Bank, which finances the works of Thessaloniki’s metro.

In doing so, the government ignored a scientifically and technically solid solution for a win-win construction plan to build the station in time while keeping the antiquities in situ. This alternative scenario, which is both realistic and respectful, was proposed by a group of experts: to excavate and build the station under the archaeological layers.

According to archaeologists, the procedure of removing the findings destroys underlying archaeological strata and exposes them to external risks.

Moreover, the project of moving the delicate pieces is remarkably time-consuming: in case of removal, a new archaeological excavation must take place because under the level of the current complex lie another three meters of archaeological layers, estimated to be 700 years old.

The archaeological remains date back to the the Late Roman and Early Byzantine period.SAKIS MITROLIDIS/AFP or licensors

The Greek government should learn the lessons from previous unsuccessful attempts. A similar plan was implemented when extremely important findings were discovered near the square of Hagia Sophia, also in Thessaloniki. The archaeological site was dismantled and stored outside the city. Unfortunately, after construction work was concluded, the effort to put the findings back in their original place proved to be impossible because they could no longer fit in the space from which they had been extracted.

We must make sure the remains found in the Venizelos station do not suffer the same fate.

Public opinion is overwhelming opposed to the removal: according to a recent survey, two out of three residents in Northern Greece don’t support the extraction .

Neither does international law approve the strategy: all the international conventions on cultural heritage – namely the Charter for the Protection and Management of the Archaeological Heritage (Lausanne, 1990), UNESCO’s World Heritage Convention (revised on 10th of June 2019), the Nara Document on Authenticity (1994) and the Venice Charter (1964) – underline the need to preserve monuments of cultural importance in the location where they are originally discovered.

This is an essential precondition, regarding integrity and authenticity, for any monument to be considered for the World Heritage Monument list of UNESCO.

A possible awarding of the new archaeological site as a World Heritage Monument would be most beneficial for Thessaloniki, helping to promote the city as a tourist destination and bringing economic gains. It would be a pity to lose this potential title and all its advantages.

For all the above reasons, cultural institutions, such as Europa Nostra and the International Council on Monuments and Sites (ICOMOS), academics, civil society and legislators are being mobilised in order to stop the removal process and prevent a destructive scenario from happening.

Time is running out: Greece’s highest administrative court, the Council of State, has already green-lighted the extraction, rejecting all three appeals by a thin margin of 13 out of 25 votes.

This problem concerns the whole Europe – and only Europe can act now.

My colleagues of the European Parliament and I have already addressed a question to the European Commission, asking if the executive intends to intervene and defend the preservation in situ of the Thessaloniki antiquities before the damage becomes irreparable. Going forward, the European Union must establish guidelines for similar cases to guarantee the substructure works doesn’t entail the erosion of our ancient history.

We must seize this unique opportunity to build a modern metro line that benefits the city’s development and connectivity while preserving and highlighting our common European cultural heritage.

Alexis Georgoulis is a Greek Member of the European Parliament who belongs to The Left group and sits on the committee on culture and education.

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Posted in Current Affairs, Fine Art, History, Policy, Politics, Willett | 14 Comments

Save our comrades, and their families, please, please.


“The first group of translators and interpreters who helped US soldiers and diplomats in Afghanistan arrived in the US on Friday, even as thousands more wait in Afghanistan in increasing fear of Taliban reprisals.The first group of approved Afghan applicants for a Special Immigrant Visa touched down and traveled to Fort Lee, Virginia, on Friday, according to the Biden administration. The flight carried about 200 people, including applicants and their families, part of a priority group of 700 Afghan SIV applicants who have completed the majority of the background process required to get a visa. Along with their families, they number about 2,500.”Today is an important milestone as we continue to fulfill our promise to the thousands of Afghan nationals who served shoulder-to-shoulder with American troops and diplomats over the last 20 years in Afghanistan,” President Joe Biden said in a statement.

Secretary of State Antony Blinken said the Afghans would finish the “remaining steps on their path to becoming America’s newest immigrants” at Fort Lee, adding that “it is my great pleasure to say to them: ‘welcome to your new home.'”” CNN

Comment: I was in MACVSOG and its successor rump, STDAT-158. This was the Unconventional Warfare Task Force for SE Asia during the VN War. The other names were just “cover.” We had 10,000 native auxiliary troops (mercenaries I suppose) at the height of the war. These were not ARVN soldiers, not Kit Carson Scouts. These were altogether ours. They were designated Special Commandos in what were then classified documents. Most of them served in projects for cross border reconnaissance and raiding in Laos and Cambodia against communist forces and their logistics. Alan Farrell served with them. We did not operate in SVN itself. Others had that task. At the armistice, there was a great moral dilemma posed by the existence of these folks and their families. Like the Taliban with our Afghan friends, the communists wanted nothing more than to get their hands on them. The implementation period for the armistice lasted a couple of months. The four power military observer group were in country then and NVA and VC officers were in town and drinking at the USAF officers’ club at Ton Son Nhut every night. This was in ’73. One of the compartmented projects we had was called “Earth Angel.” This was about a hundred men who were actual NVA officers and men who operated for us in NVA uniform in North Vietnam. I worked closely with them and had recruited some of them from PW camps and the National Interrogation Center outside Saigon. We paid them well, but what every one of them wanted was to be moved to the states after the war. After some travail and argument with brass hats and diplomats we managed to get the “Earth Angels” evacuated to the US where they were re-settled. This left the problem of several hundred people who had been in cross border raiding and reconnaissance for us under US leadership. The US government was unwilling to do anything for them in terms of re-settlement. These were the bravest of the brave. The most loyal people on earth. Creighton Abrams described them as “the finest light infantry on earth.” We tried to get the US Government to evacuate these soldiers to Palau, maybe maybe the Marianas, somewhere under US control but our arguments were to no avail. With the withdrawal reaching its final stages all around us and them. We gathered them all up and moved them by air and then truck to a stretch of road between Pleiku and Kontum. It ran through the forest in the Central Highlands. They secured the road, and then off-loaded the masses of supplies, weapons, ammunition, medical gear and expendables that we had provided from our warehouses. They moved all this stuff into the woods all day along with their women and kids Then we said goodbye standing there in the road. I remember what a beautiful day it was. NSA listened to them on the radio. They were last heard a couple of years later begging for re-supply drops.

It looks like we will try to do better this time. pl

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Posted in Afghanistan, As The Borg Turns, History | 7 Comments

Who? What?

Peter Doucy’s friend

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Posted in government, Media, Politics | 10 Comments

Starliner Orbital Flight test 2

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Posted in Space | 1 Comment

Sinema and Manchin should go GOP.

“Conservative commentator Charlie Kirk said Arizona Senator Kyrsten Sinema, a Democrat, is “more of a Republican than John McCain ever was” while speaking at a rally in Arizona.

Kirk praised Sinema for her opposition to ending the filibuster, despite calls from many in her own party to do so. “At least she’s holding the line on the filibuster,” he said.

He made the comments while speaking at the “Rally to Protect Our Elections,” ahead of a speech by former President Donald Trump. The remarks were tweeted by Jeremy Duda, a reporter at Arizona Mirror, and others.” Newsweek

Comment: Amen. These two do not belong in the neo-Marxist Democratic Party. Manchin represents a state as Red as Oklahoma. His change of color would only solidify his position in the senate. The Arizona Left is going to crucify Sinema as soon as they get a chance. Make the move now! pl

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Posted in government, Politics | 6 Comments

Biles is a weakling.

strength versus weakness overcome problems by being strong and not weak accept the challenge to success

People admire her? What nonsense! We used to raise, educate and train men and women to be strong and to overcome their mental and physical frailties. If we admire this creature we are doomed as a people and should be. pl

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Posted in Current Affairs | 22 Comments