Operation AI

It was seventy years ago today . . .

Nation pauses to remember Pearl Harbor

Survivors of the surprise Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor gathered Wednesday to remember the 2,400 people who lost their lives exactly 70 years ago.

“Just as every day and unlike any other day, we stop and stand fast in memory of our heroes of Pearl Harbor and the Second World War,” Rear Adm. Frank Ponds, commander for Navy region Hawaii, told the gathering.

U.S. Secretary of the Navy Ray Mabus took note of the devastating legacy of the two-hour attack on Pearl Harbor 70 years ago.

“The history of December 7, 1941, is indelibly imprinted on the memory of every American who was alive that day. But it bears repeating on every anniversary, so that every subsequent generation will know what happened here today and never forget,” Mabus said.

See also:
Nation marks 70th anniversary of Pearl Harbor
Pearl Harbor Day: Survivors remember attack, pay respects on 70th anniversary
Nation marks 70th anniversary of Pearl Harbor
Survivors, veterans mark somber Pearl Harbor remembrance
Pearl Harbor survivor remembers day of infamy
Senator Inouye Recalls Pearl Harbor Attack’s ‘Black Puffs of Explosion’
Pearl Harbor survivors group says it will disband
Veteran Of Pearl Harbor Dies On Anniversary Of Attack
Pearl Harbor survivors return to ships after death
Pearl Harbor survivors who lived until their 90s have their ashes interred in their ships
Overview of The Pearl Harbor Attack, 7 December 1941
Attack at Pearl Harbor, 1941
Attack on Pearl Harbor

Never forget.

/and more importantly, never let it happen again

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When Countries Collide

China and Japan have a long history of animosity toward each other and the recent “boat collision incidents” in disputed waters are only inflaming age old territorial disagreements. Japan’s continuing arrest of the Chinese captain is further escalating this standoff by the day.

Japan-China island tensions rise

The ins and outs of the spat over a Chinese fishing boat captain

Tensions are growing daily over Japan’s arrest of a Chinese fishing boat captain following his ship’s collision with Japan Coast Guard vessels in the East China Sea.

Both countries have openly criticized each other over the incident, and the escalating diplomatic spat has led to public protests, the suspension of ministerial and higher-level exchanges, and the cancellation of a concert by pop group SMAP in Shanghai.

At the heart of the problem are a set of disputed islands in the East China Sea. Japan has administration of the islands, which it calls the Senkaku Islands, but both Beijing and Taiwan claim sovereignty as well, calling them the Diaoyu and Tiaoyutai, respectively. Following are basic questions and answers about the dispute:

Why was the Chinese captain arrested?

A JCG patrol vessel came across a Chinese fishing boat in Japanese-claimed territorial waters on the morning of Sept. 7.

After being warned to leave the area, the boat and JCG patrol ship Yonakuni collided. No details have yet been released as to who or what caused the collision. The Yonakuni then ordered the trawler to stop for inspection, which the Chinese captain refused, according to a JCG representative.

Later that morning, another JCG patrol ship, the Mizuki, was chasing the fishing boat to conduct an onboard inspection near Kuba Island when another collision occurred.

The Chinese captain, Zhan Qixiong, 41, was arrested the next day on suspicion of obstructing the public duties of coast guard personnel.

Japanese authorities are also looking into whether the captain engaged in unlawful fishing.

See also:
China-Japan relations sour as fishing boat dispute escalates
Japan-China row escalates over fishing boat collision
China Japan territorial spat over a fishing boat flares
Chinese fishing boat captain’s arrest reasonable
Japan rejects China’s claim over disputed island chain
Japan counsels against ‘extreme nationalism’ in row with China
China Severs Japan Ties Over Sailor Arrest
China’s Wen threatens new action in Japan boat row
China again urges unconditional release of trawler captain illegally held by Japan
Upping the Ante in China-Japan Clash
Hong Kong Activists Fan China-Japan Flames
Anti-Japan Sentiment Gains Strength in China
East China Sea Dispute: Why Japan’s Era of Quiet Power May Be at an End

Remember this? China has a history of physical confrontations at sea over disputed waters, so I’d bet good money that this latest incident was deliberately instigated by the Chinese and therefore I blame them. Japan has every right to fully investigate the Chinese captain until they get this episode sorted out to their satisfaction.

/I seriously doubt that this knock down, drag out diplomatic kerfuffle will ever boil over into a military conflict, but if it does, my money’s on Japan, last time these two countries went at it hammer and tongs, it didn’t go well for China

The M Star Mystery

What the hell happened here? Was it a collision, an explosion, a rogue wave, or something else? So far, your guess is as good as theirs.

Supertanker ‘was damaged by explosion or submarine’

A JAPANESE supertanker which sustained serious hull damage while sailing through the hyper-sensitive Straits of Hormuz was either hit by an explosion or in a collision with a submarine, officials in the United Arab Emirates said yesterday.

When the M Star supertanker reported it had been hit by an “explosion” late on Wednesday, officials in the UAE played down the claim, citing seismic activity and saying the vessel had been hit by “a freak wave”.

Yet yesterday, it was confirmed the crude carrier had been hit by an external force and a specialist on military attacks has been asked to help investigate damage to the 1,100-foot vessel laden with oil for Japan.

“What we know is some collision happened. We don’t know what it was,” said Captain Mousa Mourad, general manager at the UAE port of Fujairah.

See also:
Rogue Wave Is Suspected in Mideast Tanker Blast
Official: Wave not likely cause of Gulf ship blast
Plot thickens over tanker explosion
Cause of explosion on Japanese tanker in Hormuz remains unclear
Damaged oil tanker may have hit a mine
Mitsui O.S.K. Oil Tanker ‘Blasted From Outside’
Giant Supertanker Suffers Mystery Explosion
Japanese supertanker was in collision-official
Japanese tanker was damaged in collision, UAE official says
Japanese tanker may have hit submarine
Oil tanker ‘attacked’ off Oman
Mystery of Japanese tanker damage probed
Questions Swirl About Damaged Japanese Tanker
Oil Tanker Sails Back To Fujairah After Accident
Causes behind Oil Tanker, M. Star incident still mysterious
Japanese Supertanker Explosion Occurred Outside the Strait of Hormuz

A rogue wave sounds unlikely, at least to me. If it was an explosion, shouldn’t there be more discoloration and shrapnel marks or penetration, instead of just a big dent? And looking at the dent, if it was a collision with a submarine, the submarine would have had to be fully or at least partially surfaced. Why wouldn’t the M Star have seen it and where’s the damaged submarine?

/beats me, I have no idea

Return Of The Dustbuster From Outer Space

******************************UPDATE******************************

Touchdown, the crowd goes wild!

Space Probe Returns After 7-Year Asteroid Voyage

A Japanese space probe landed in the Australian outback on Monday after a 7-year voyage to an asteroid, lighting up the night sky and bringing what scientists hope is a rock sample, witnesses said.

The Hayabusa probe blazed a spectacular trail as it came in to hit the ground at a blistering speed, ending a journey to the near-Earth asteroid Itokawa that began in 2003.

An Australian defense spokesman told Reuters scientists monitoring the probe’s return had confirmed it had landed and identified its location, but it would not be retrieved until daylight. Only then would it become clear if a capsule thought to contain the precious sample was intact.

See also:
Space probe returns to Earth from trip to asteroid
Japan’s ‘Falcon’ Returns After Seven-Year Asteroid Mission
Probe returns to Earth after asteroid landing
NASA Aircraft Videos Hayabusa Re-Entry
Hayabusa completes fiery return to Earth
Mission Accomplished For Japan’s Asteroid Explorer Hayabusa

/now we just need to find out exactly what, if anything, Hayabusa brought back

******************************END UPDATE******************************

A long time ago, in a country far far away, the Japanese sent a spacecraft . . .

to land on an asteroid that looks like a giant space turd . . .

and bring back some dirt.

Japanese Probe Set to Land in Australian Outback Sunday, Returning First Asteroid Sample to Earth

A Japanese meteor-investigator probe will become a meteor itself when it returns to Earth over the weekend. The Hayabusa probe is screaming toward Earth at asteroid speed,
according to scientists at NASA’s Ames Research Center. Scientists hope it is carrying samples obtained from a 2005 visit to the small asteroid Itokawa.

The probe’s sample-return capsule will separate from the main probe and reenter the atmosphere at 7.58 miles per second early Sunday. Scientists from NASA, the Japanese Space Agency and other organizations are planning to watch its fiery descent to learn more about how objects behave and break up during high-speed reentry.

When Hayabusa (“falcon” in Japanese) reaches an altitude of 190,000 feet, its heat shield will reach temperatures of more than 5,000 degrees Fahrenheit, while the gas surrounding the capsule will reach 13,000 degrees Fahrenheit — hotter than the surface of the sun, NASA says. It is planned to fall over a large unpopulated area of Australia called the Woomera Prohibited Area.

There’s no guarantee of success — actually, scientists don’t even know if Hayabusa is carrying anything. The craft has been plagued with problems for five years.

It made two touchdowns on Itokawa in 2005 to collect rocks and soil, but apparently failed to fire a metal bullet designed to dislodge the samples. Then, a fuel leak left its chemical propellant tanks empty, so engineers had to use Hayabusa’s ion engines to guide it home. Still, Hayabusa was the first spacecraft to land on a celestial object other than the moon and take off again.

See also:
Japan’s “Falcon” Spacecraft Returns—Asteroid Dust On Board?
Japan’s Asteroid Mission Set For Fiery Re-entry Over Australia
Japan Itokawa asteroid mission set for re-entry
Asteroid spacecraft makes its way back to Earth
Japanese space probe returns home Sunday
Japan asteroid probe to make historic return to Earth
Hayabusa just hours from home
Scientists wait in Outback for Japanese spacecraft
Japan’s ‘Falcon’ Set to Land After Seven-Year Asteroid Mission
Ames Research Center
Ames Research Center
JAXA | Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency
Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency
Hayabusa
Hayabusa

Well, I wish JAXA luck and hope they retrieve lots of asteroid dirt to play with. Otherwise, it’ll be a lot like Geraldo opening Al Capone’s vault.

/let’s all hope Hayabusa didn’t pick up any cosmic hitchhikers like in The Andromeda Strain

Operation Iceberg

It was 65 years ago today . . .

Battle of Okinawa: Operation Iceberg

When two United States Marine and two Army divisions landed abreast on Okinawa on Easter Sunday, April 1, 1945, they faced an estimated 155,000 Japanese ground, air and naval troops holding an immense island on which an estimated 500,000 civilians lived in cities, towns and villages. Operation Iceberg was to be, in every way, vast when compared to any other operation undertaken by Allied forces in the Pacific War under U.S. Navy command. Indeed, using mainly divisions that had already undertaken island-hopping operations in the South and Central Pacific since mid-1942, the U.S. Pacific Fleet stood up the Tenth U.S. Army under Lieutenant General Simon Bolivar Buckner Jr., consisting of III Amphibious Corps and XXIV Army Corps — the largest land command ever assembled under the Navy’s direct control.

To those Japanese who thought the war was winnable, Okinawa was the last chance. The island lay within 350 miles — easy flight distance — from the Japanese homeland and was, by American design, to be the base from which the southernmost Home Island, Kyushu, would be pummeled to dust ahead of the expected follow-on invasion. Anything short of complete victory over Allied air, naval and ground forces spelled doom for Japan — and no such victory was remotely in the cards. Thus, from the Japanese view Okinawa was and could be no more than a delaying battle of attrition on a grand scale. The few Japanese who knew that their country’s war effort was in extremis were content to fight on Okinawa simply for reasons of honor, for all military logic pointed to the same dismal conclusion: Japan was vanquished in all but name as soon as the first Boeing B-29s left the ground in the Marianas, as soon as American carrier aircraft hit targets in Japan at will, as soon as even twin-engine bombers could strike Japanese ports from Iwo Jima, as soon as Japan dared not move a warship or cargo vessel from a port in any part of the shrinking empire for fear it would be sunk by an Allied submarine. By April 1, 1945, all those events were taking place routinely.

Although the Japanese commanders counted 155,000 defenders, of whom 100,000 were soldiers of Lt. Gen. Mitsuru Ushijima’s Thirty-second Army, the rest were of widely mixed abilities, and there were not nearly enough troops to cover the ground the way 23,000 troops had covered Iwo Jima. Therefore the forces on Okinawa were concentrated in a number of sectors that offered the best prospects for a robust, attritional defense. The northern half of the island was virtually conceded, and the south was turned into four extremely tough hedgehog defense sectors. The proportion of artillery and mortars to infantry was the highest encountered in the Pacific War.

Coming to put their defense arrangement to the test was the Tenth Army. The new 6th Marine Division (1st Provisional Marine Brigade plus the 29th Marines and attachments) would land over the northernmost beaches on the western side of Okinawa a little south of the island’s midpoint. It was to strike across the island, then turn north to pacify a little more than half of Okinawa on its own. To the right, the 1st Marine Division was also to strike across the island, then become part of the Tenth Army reserve. The Army’s 7th and 96th Infantry divisions were to land side by side in the southern half of the Tenth Army beachhead and pivot south to cover the width of the island. Also on April 1, the III Amphibious Corps’ (IIIAC) reserve, the 2nd Marine Division, made a feint toward a set of beaches in southeastern Okinawa. This feint was in line with where the Japanese predicted the main landing would take place, so for once a feint actually held large numbers of defenders in place looking the wrong way. Other units, including the Fleet Marine Force’s Pacific Reconnaissance Battalion, were assigned objectives elsewhere in the Ryukyu Islands, most of which were taken or at least assaulted before what was dubbed L-day on Okinawa.

Immediate objectives were Yontan and Kadena airfields, in the IIIAC and XXIV Corps zones, respectively. As soon as these airfields could be brought to operational status, combat-support aircraft would operate from them. Also, many aircraft carriers would remain on station off Okinawa for as long as their air groups were needed. The land-based component was a Marine command named the Tactical Air Force and consisting of several Marine air groups of fighters and light bombers. Marine fighter squadrons based aboard fleet carriers and several new Marine carrier air groups (fighters and torpedo bombers) based aboard escort carriers would be available throughout the land operation.

The landings were made against zero opposition and with almost no casualties. Far from going into a state of optimism, however, the many veterans in the assault force realized that a very hard road lay before them, that the Japanese had chosen to dig deep and fight on their own terms.

Yontan Airfield fell by midmorning, after Marines overcame very light opposition along the juncture of the 1st and 6th Marine divisions. Reinforcements moved to fill gaps that developed due to rapid advances by the 4th, 7th and 22nd Marines. Marines of the 1st Division captured an intact bridge across a stream at the IIIAC-XXIV Corps boundary and overcame hastily built field fortifications all across the division front. Divisional and IIIAC artillery battalions landed routinely, and many batteries were providing fire by 1530 hours. The IIIAC advance halted between 1600 and 1700 to avoid more gaps and to help the Marines on the far right maintain contact with the 7th Infantry Division, whose left flank outpaced the 1st Marine Division right-flank unit by several hundred yards. The halt also gave artillery units outpaced by the rapid advance time to move forward and register night defensive fires.

Basically, all of L-day’s headaches arose from the light-to-nonexistent defensive effort, and not the usual spate of battle problems. Both airfields, Kadena and Yontan, were firmly in American hands by nightfall, and engineers were already at work to get them operational in the shortest possible time.

See also:
Chapter I: Operation Iceberg
Operation Iceberg: The Assault on Okinawa – The Last Battle of World War II (Part 1) April – June 1945
Operation Iceberg: The Assault on Okinawa – The Last Battle of World War II (Part 2) April – June 1945
Battle of Okinawa
Operation Iceberg – Okinawa Invasion
Operation Iceberg: The Battle of Okinawa

Although the initial landings were practically unopposed, the fight for Okinawa quickly deteriorated into a nightmare.

The Battle of Okinawa, which began on Easter Sunday, April 1, 1945, and lasted for three months, was a descent into hell. At no place, at no time, was combat worse than on Okinawa – not at Gettysburg, not in the trenches in World War I, not on the Eastern Front in World War II, not on Iwo Jima. Losses were dreadful: 12,520 U.S. dead, 36,631 wounded; 110,071 Japanese soldiers killed, 7,401 captured (almost all badly wounded); and 140,000 Okinawan civilians dead.

As horrific as the Battle of Okinawa was, Operation Downfall, the invasion of the Japanese mainland, would have been far worse by many orders of magnitude.

/so, don’t let anyone tell you that the U.S. dropping of the two atomic bombs didn’t save lives, on both sides

Stay Classy Chuck

Iowa Senator Says AIG Executives Should ‘Resign or Commit Suicide’

Iowa Sen. Charles Grassley suggested on Monday that AIG executives should take a Japanese approach toward accepting responsibility for the collapse of the insurance giant by resigning or killing themselves.

The Republican lawmaker’s harsh comments came during an interview with Cedar Rapids, Iowa, radio station WMT. They echo remarks he has made in the past about corporate executives and public apologies, but went further in suggesting suicide.

“I suggest, you know, obviously, maybe they ought to be removed,” Grassley said. “But I would suggest the first thing that would make me feel a little bit better toward them if they’d follow the Japanese example and come before the American people and take that deep bow and say, I’m sorry, and then either do one of two things: resign or go commit suicide.

“And in the case of the Japanese, they usually commit suicide before they make any apology.”

Grassley spokesman Casey Mills said the senator is not calling for AIG executives to kill themselves, but said those who accept tax dollars and spend them on travel and bonuses do so irresponsibly.

Se also:
Grassley on AIG execs: Resign or commit suicide
Senator Urges AIG Execs To Commit Suicide
US Senator Chuck Grassley from Iowa
AIG

/if there’s anyone who should apologize to the American people and either resign or commit suicide, it’s Congress