Northwest Military Blogs: Walkie Talkie Blog

Posts made in: May, 2014 (120) Currently Viewing: 1 - 10 of 120

May 1, 2014 at 7:27am

Thursday Morning Joe: Army brass defend budget, Pakistani militant watch, bad guys on the rise, flying car, commissary cuts rejected, Lego Simpsons ...

Morning Joe History: Seabees assigned to Naval Mobile Construction Battalion 7 fire an AT-4 coffee launcher on a target during a live-fire training course. Original photo by Petty officer 2nd Class Michael Lavender

GRAB A CUP AND READ THE MORNING REPORT FOR 5.1.14 >>>

Secretary of the Army John M. McHugh and Army Chief of Staff Gen. Ray Odierno say the fiscal year 2015 Army budget submitted to Congress "is lean, stark but critical to meeting the needs of our nation and our soldiers."

Air Force Secretary Deborah Lee James outlined the service's progress in leveraging the talent and capabilities of the Air National Guard and the Air Force Reserve within the total force concept.

Reports of sexual assaults by members of the military rose 50 percent after the Pentagon began a vigorous campaign to get more victims to come forward.

The Philippines-China-U.S. Triangle: A precarious relationship.

A former commander of U.S. and NATO forces in Afghanistan said Wednesday that corruption, not the Taliban, is the worst threat to the future of the war-torn country.

Five Pakistani militants we should be paying more attention to.

Afghanistan needs more than U.S. troops to survive.

The number of terrorist attacks, kidnappings, deaths and injuries across the globe rose by 43 percent last year.

A top VA health official says there is no evidence the Phoenix VA hospital kept a list of patients unable to get appointments.

The commander of 2nd Brigade Combat Team, 82nd Airborne Division has been relieved of command.

The U.S. Senate late Wednesday confirmed Robert Work as deputy defense secretary.

Defense Intelligence Agency Director Lt. Gen. Michael Flynn and his deputy, David Shedd, will retire by early fall.

Natick researchers develop combat cooler.

Storied 4th Brigade Combat team "Currahee," 101st Airborne Division (Air Assault), prepare to inactivate.

French flying car undergoes testing for Special Forces.

DoD official defends training Afghan military on Russian helos.

Sen. John McCain said the Air Force's recent contract with a Lockheed-Boeing joint venture prevents potential new competitors from bidding for some of the work.

House panel rejects commissary cuts, delays other changes.

Sen. Mark Udall (D-Colo.) and Rep. Scott Peters (D-Calif.) announced a bill Wednesday to push military operations to be more energy efficient and rely less on fossil fuels.

The fascinating untold history of war and prosthetics.

The filmmakers for Godzilla were given access to Navy flattops and other support from the Defense Department.

Google now can remember where you parked.

Vice catches up with the woman formerly known as Miss Cleo.

Tips: What to choose on Free Comic Book Day.

This abandoned igloo hotel in Alaska can be yours for $300,000.

Salon looks at the gender politics in Star Wars.

Why?: These album cover faces are a little creepy.

Nice: Guide to sitcom writers on Twitter.

The Simpsons' Lego Spectacular is here. ...

LINK: Original photo by Petty Officer 2nd Class Michael Lavender

May 1, 2014 at 7:46am

5 Things To Do Today: Green Drinks, Broadway Farmers Market, Oso fundraiser, "Chamber Music," and more ...

Proof VeloFemmes like to drink liquids. Photo courtesy of Facebook.

THURSDAY, MAY 1 2014 >>>

1. It ain't easy being green, which means that committed folks such as the Tacoma Green Drinks contingent are worth their weight in gold. Over the past five years or so, this Mother Earth loving group has gathered every month at a local watering hole to talk sustainability, conservation and the environment, while tossing back drinks. It's a beautiful thing. Also a beautiful thing is the VeloFemmes, a grassroots group dedicated to providing opportunities for more women to cycle. Tacoma Green Drinks and VeloFemmes will collide at 6 p.m. in The Office Bar and Grill. You're totally invited - unless you insist on driving that Dodge Ram SRT10. These fine folks suggest you ride a bike.

2. From 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. the Broadway Farmers Market invites everyone to experience the fine wears of the land, and the natural abilities of camaraderie and free spirits, support the local farmers and eat food all at on Broadway between Ninth and 11th in downtown Tacoma.

3. The Harmon Brewing Company will host an all-day fundraiser to help the families affected by the Oso mudslide. You may drop off donations of clothing, blankets or money at the Harmon Brewery & Eatery in downtown Tacoma, The Hub and Harmon Tap Room in Tacoma's Stadium District and The Hub at the Narrows Airport in Gig Harbor, and the Harmon folks will forward them to the Red Cross. Bonus: Steve Stefanowicz will be live at the downtown Tacoma Harmon from 6-9 p.m., and the band Yowees will perform 6:30-9 p.m. at the Gig Harbor Hub.

4. Chamber Music by Arthur Kopit is an absurdist one-act play set in 1939 and performed by Theater Artists Olympia, or TAO. It is TAO's 11th season and their website states, "TAO is a collective of local artists committed to producing high quality theater. TAO's focus is on producing more thematically provocative materials, and experimental interpretations of classics than generally found in the Olympia area. Our mission is to present creative theatrical pieces that are under-represented in the community." Chamber Music definitely fills that role. Read Joann Varnell's full review of Chamber Music in the Music & Culture section, then catch the show at 8 p.m. in The Midnight Sun.

5. C Average, Lord Dying and Vanguard will rock The Brotherhood Lounge beginning at 9 p.m. 

LINK: Thursday, May 1 arts and entertainment events in the greater Tacoma and Olympia area

May 1, 2014 at 9:35am

Cinco de Crafto: My search for Mexican craft beer in Tacoma

Connecticut-based Drinks Americas imports Cerveceria Minerva's Day of the Dead beer to a couple local beer stores.

"Cinco de Mayo," Spanish for "the sink is full of mayonnaise." OK, not really. I made that up, which is only fitting, because the idea that May 5 is a big holiday celebrated throughout Mexico is also made up. This yarn was spun by some PR hack for Corona beer back in the '80s, when the company was looking for a way to get Americans to drink more beer.

Since this is not an especially hard task, they didn't work especially hard on the idea, not even hard enough to note that Mexico's real Day of Independence is Sept. 16. Cinco de Mayo commemorates The Battle of Puebla, where Mexicans defeated the French army, and in Mexico is mostly a regional holiday. Ordinarily, Americans don't cotton to anyone except Oliver Stone replacing facts with fabrications, but in this case, with beer consumption at stake, we were more than willing to overlook a little lie.

So here we are, decades later, stuffing our faces with nachos (another American invention) and toasting each other with mugs of Corona as we celebrate the truly American tradition of making up holidays to boost sales.

Holy mole! Why celebrate the fake holiday by drinking tasteless beer? It's the perfect opportunity to celebrate Mexican culture and drink Mexican craft beer.  Mexico's beer market is the 5th largest in the world by volume: 1.77 billion gallons per year to be exact. Certainly beer-loving Tacoma has a few Mexican craft beer bottles ready for Monday's holiday.

OK, a little research proves grabbing a craft beer created South of the Border might be a challenge. Apparently, of those billions of gallons that are exported - 58 percent of it is Anheuser Busch (Modelo, Corona, Dos Equis) and 41 percent of it is Heineken (Tecate, Sol) - (divide number x by number y, then multiply by 100) that leaves a mere one percent for other Mexican brewers, fighting for space on shelves and taps.

I'm still up for the challenge.

Read more...

May 1, 2014 at 9:49am

Judging by the Trailer: "The Amazing Spider-Man 2"

Spider-Man does the same things Spider-Man always does.

Can I be honest with you, for just a moment? Usually, this column is full of blowhard nonsense that just comes from a deep insecurity in my abilities as an artist, thus necessitating my shitting on films that I will never see. This week, I interviewed Ira Glass. Ira fucking Glass. I've been holding my breath to puff my chest out, and now I'm deep into a bottle of whiskey. It feels great.

And now, reality reaches out and gives me a wet willy, because I've been FORCED to watch the trailer for The Amazing Spider-Man 2. I never saw the first (read: fourth) Spider-Man movie, because I magically found better things to do with my time than watch a reboot of a five-year-old franchise. What I gathered from the brunette, be-hoodied Peter Parker was that Spider-Man was finally being given the completely necessary Dark Knight treatment. Everything is gloomy and sad in comic book world, just like your miserable life! Cartoons!

Here, we find ourselves at the threshold of what Marvel has promised to be a series of sequels and offshoots that will distract us from financial ruin for at least another 15 years. Instead of bread and circuses, we get multiple yearly superhero extravaganzas that increasingly lean less toward escapism and more in the direction of human despair. In response, Lars Von Trier was heard to have sighed and swiftly taken an eraser to his chalkboard.

Jamie Foxx is featured in this film as a human Otter Pop, fully completing his arc from In Living Color to Oscar winner to middling comic book villain. Part of me suspects that his music video with Ron Howard is at fault. Paul Giamatti also dons a CGI rhino suit, in a move that would have made his Sideways character commit suicide with a wine bottle.

Raul Julia let his swan song be the Street Fighter movie, because his kids talked him into it. For future reference: your kids are assholes. Every movie could be your last, so err on the side of not letting that movie feature you in a goofy rhino costume.

May 2, 2014 at 7:44am

Friday Morning Joe: Ukrainian helicopters down, Benghazi update, Soldier for Life goes live, 50 awesome albums ...

Morning Joe History: The 7th Engineer Support Battalion, 1st Marine Logistics Group, Alpha Company practice their tosses. Original photo by Cpl. Laura Gauna

GRAB A CUP AND READ THE MORNING REPORT FOR 5.2.14 >>>

Pro-Russian rebels shot down two Ukrainian helicopters today, killing two crew.

NATO official: Russia undermining global security.

U.S. military personnel knew early on that the Benghazi attack was a "hostile action" and not a protest gone awry, according to a retired general who served at U.S. Africa Command's headquarters in Germany during the attack.

How the Iraq War crippled U.S. military power.

House Armed Services Committee Ranking Member Rep. Adam Smith of Washington urged his colleagues to embrace some of the Obama administration's proposed weapon program cuts, arguing the savings will allow the military to buy new platforms and remain ready for war.

American and Gulf Cooperation Council air defense commanders are still calling for development of an integrated missile defense system in the region as Iran reveals a new series of ballistic missile tests.

NATO leaders plan to push European countries to increase defense spending at September's meeting of alliance members in Wales.

A House Armed Services subcommittee passed its markup of its part of the annual defense bill that would - among many other things - freeze some funding for the Army's Armored Multi-Purpose Vehicle Program.

Pentagon officials unveiled a new sexual assault prevention strategy that directs the services to review alcohol policies after the military saw the number of sexual assault reports increase 50 percent last year.

Commissary case lot sales are returning.

Experiment grows new muscle in men's injured legs.

VA budget bill bonuses for senior executives.

Nine U.S. Army Air Forces airmen who were interned at the Wauwillermoos Camp in Switzerland seven decades ago finally were honored with the Prisoner of War Medal.

The Army's "Soldier for Life" website is designed to be a new online home for retired Soldiers.

An all-female team of four students from Worcester Polytechnic Institute recently developed a design to make the Army-issued rucksack hip belt more comfortable for female soldiers

A full-auto dart blaster that is a science-fueled dream play gun.

Watch a trailer for the new Elliott Smith documentary.

After domestic dispute, Paul Simon and Edie Brickell released a new duet.

Cool: New footage of Kim Deal and Kelley Deal playing "Gigantic" and "Cannonball."

List: 50 albums you may not know (but need to).

Finally Star Wars Vans.

Don't sweat it, Courtney. You're only human. ...

LINK: Original photo by Cpl. Laura Gauna

May 2, 2014 at 8:00am

5 Things To Do Today: Downtown Music Crawl, Spring Fling, Argonaut cinnamon roll, new DJ night and more ...

Barcelona closes out the Downtown Music Crawl tonight at UrbanXChange. Photo courtesy of Facebook

FRIDAY, MAY 2 2014 >>>

1. Dubbed the Downtown Music Crawl, tonight will feature three downtown businesses showcasing three brief, consecutive concerts. Starting at Anthem Coffee & Tea at 6:30 p.m., moving on to Bleach at 7:30 p.m. and ending at UrbanXChange around 8:30 p.m., the event is designed to reward those who do the crawl and hit all three stores. If you attend all three concerts, you'll receive 15 percent off at each store. Even for those who pick and choose, these are three shows totally worthy of your time. Anthem will be showcasing the slick blue-eyed soul of the BGP, while Bleach has the dusty folk-rock of the Owl Parliament, and UrbanXChange ends the night with the richly melodramatic indie rock of Barcelona.

2. The Washington Capital Museum's Coach House hosts A Sale For All Seasons Spring Fling, it's annual sale featuring a wide array of handcrafted items for spring and summer occasions, such as jewelry, honey, paper crafts, handpainted items, fabric totes, painted silks, ceramics, floral décor, yard and garden art, aprons, baby blankets, potted flowers, wooden benches, textile and fiber art, bullet casing pens, boxes, stoppers and botanically-themed gifts from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Spring Fling organizers ask attendees to bring canned food for the Food Bank.

3. Today, Sasquatch Cinnamon Rolls at Freighthouse Square unveils "The Argonaut," a massive cinnamon roll filled PB&J (raspberry jam) and toasted coconut, in honor of Tacoma's heavy rock band Argonaut. Sasquatch is a bakery operating out of the same space that previously hosted Peggy's Cinnamon Rolls.

4. The Rafael Tranquilino trio will rock Jazzbones at 8 p.m. with Stephanie Anne Johnson and the Robin Moxey Duo.

5. A new monthly dance party launches tonight at The New Frontier Lounge. From some of the same people that brought us the very popular Future Bass DJ night, we now have Smart People. The DJs will be drawing from all sorts of influences, even outside of the usual R&B and electronica, bringing in indie rock, boogie-woogie and disco. Doors open at 9 p.m., $5 cover hits at 10:30 p.m.

LINK: Friday, May 2 arts and entertainment events in the greater Tacoma and Olympia area

May 2, 2014 at 10:03am

2-2 SBCT headed to National Training Center this summer

Soldiers with Company C, 1st Battalion, 17th Infantry Regiment, 2-2 Stryker Brigade Combat Team, 7th Infantry Division secure an avenue of approach during platoon urban-operations training. Courtesy photo

1st Lt. Zachary Simons from the 2-2 SBCT files this report:

JOINT BASE LEWIS-MCCHORD, Wash. - The 2-2 Stryker Brigade Combat Team, 7th Infantry Division is slated to deploy to the National Training Center in Fort Irwin, Calif., later this summer, where it will certify as a globally-available and regionally-aligned combat brigade.

The NTC is one of the nation's premier training facilities, and to prepare, the Lancers sent senior leadership from the brigade down to the subordinate companies to a Leader Training Program in Fort Irwin, April 14 - 23.

However, training doesn't stop when leaders are away.

"First Lt. [Henry] Hart has performed very well multiple times with minimal guidance and oversight. He is a very strong leader that shows great potential and understanding of combined arms maneuver," said Capt. Justin Shine, commander of Company C, 1st Battalion, 17th Infantry Regiment, 2-2 SBCT, 7th ID.

Hart, a Philadelphia native, is a mobile gun system platoon leader with C Company, 1-17 Infantry, and during LTP, he assumed command.

During Hart's time in command, the company conducted urban operations training April 14-18.

"The Platoon Leaders showed great initiative and discipline during my absence. They have taken ownership and have worked with their NCOs to develop great teams," said Shine.

Hart is slated to be promoted to captain Friday, May 2.

May 2, 2014 at 10:14am

Mac and Cheese Madness: Paesan Kitchen & Bar

Get baked at Paesan!

It's Friday, which means I tempt you with another South Sound mac and cheese dish I believe is worthy of the Tournament of Mac and Cheese next spring. Of course, you, the reader, will ultimately decided the fate of the dish when nominations open in February 2015.

First, a touch of mac and cheese history. Thomas Jefferson helped make macaroni and cheese popular in the United States after sampling it in Italy. He brought home a pasta maker and introduced the dish in 1802. Mac and cheese is obviously the food of presidents, for it was also Ronald Reagan's favorite. Reagan enjoyed a little dry mustard and Worcestershire in his mac and cheese.

OK, on to this week's mac and cheese suggestion. ...

Paesan Kitchen & Bar serves a delicious, gooey baked penne pasta ($9) that had me gazing out its floor to ceiling windows, weighing the options of ordering another serving of the dish.

It's that good.

Fontina cheese is the star ingredient, although the leeks, egg, mustard, chile flakes, grated Parmesan and breadcrumbs would tell you different, if they could.

It's baked, which is an important and defining factor for what makes a fine mac and cheese, and the best selling point for Paesan's version. Baking it gives mac - or, in this case, penne - and cheese the yummy, crusty-crunchy bits of dairy goodness on the ends of the noodles, which prevents this dish from becoming a gooey mess.

Try it and let me know what you think.

Also, Paesan will be celebrating May the 4th Be With You.

PAESAN KITCHEN & BAR, 7 a.m. to 10 p.m. Monday-Thursday, 8 a.m. to midnight Friday and Saturday, 8 a.m. to 10 p.m. Sunday, 1715 Dock St., Tacoma, 253.301.2396

May 2, 2014 at 3:42pm

Nine Inch Nails and Soundgarden co-headline summer concert at White River Amphitheatre

Bring it!

Big concert announcement on a Friday? You bet. The tour includes a Aug. 30 show at White River Amphitheatre in Auburn. That's a Saturday night people! ...

Nine Inch Nailsand Soundgardenare teaming up for a North American tour that will kick off on Saturday, July 19, at Planet Hollywood in Las Vegas, NV. The co-headline run, presented by Live Nation, is their first outing together and will include shows at Red Rocks Amphitheatre in Morrison, CO (July 21), the Nikon at Jones Beach Theatre in Wantagh, NY (August 1) and the Hollywood Bowl in Hollywood, CA (August 25). Both bands will play full sets nightly. Special guest Death Grips will open on most dates.

Tickets for the White River Amphitheatre date will go on sale to the public Friday, May 9, through the Live Nation mobile app and at www.livenation.com. The fan pre-sale begins Monday, May 5 at 10am local time at www.nin.com and www.soundgardenworld.com, with additional pre-sales going live on Tuesday, May 6.

May 3, 2014 at 8:33am

Saturday Morning Joe: Ukraine street battles, Hagel calls out NATO, Tomahawk 2.0, China's warship plan, new element discovered ...

Charlie Company, 3rd Assault Amphibian Battalion, throws a cup of joe during a training exercise. Original photo by Cpl. James Gulliver

GRAB A CUP AND READ THE MORNING REPORT FOR 5.3.14 >>>

At least 42 people were killed in street battles between supporters and opponents of Russia in southern Ukraine, bringing the country closer to war. 

The Kremlin is receiving "thousands" of calls for assistance from Russian speakers in eastern Ukraine.

The United States has warned its citizens of a plan to attack one of two Sheraton hotels near Lagos, Nigeria's main commercial hub, which so far has been spared by the country's violent Islamist militants.

U.S. Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel urged large NATO nations to step up their defense spending and contributions to the alliance as Russian military movements have shown Europe "still lives in a dangerous world."

What Obama should tell Americans about Ukraine.

Obama vowed to continue using his executive authority whenever possible this year, but Republicans countered that the commander in chief's lack of action on Ukraine hurts the U.S. at home and abroad.

Why American can't contain China.

Army prepares new tack for deploying forces in Pacific.

With lawsuits and mergers, U.S. space market primed for changes.

It took 18 months for Judicial Watch to unearth the emails on Benghazi.

Over the past four years, the Defense Department's logistics agency threw away a significant portion of the spare parts it purchased via a $21-million contract with the manufacturer of Mine-Resistant Ambush-Protected trucks.

The Navy and Raytheon are looking at starting planned Tomahawk missile re-certification and modernization efforts at least one year ahead of the 2019 planned time frame.

Learning more about China's new massive warship plan.

Nine of the 10 Medals of Honor from the Afghanistan war have been earned in Nuristan and Kunar Provinces.

Army (and Boston) Strong: Colonel awarded for heroism at marathon.

Science has finally figured out how to win Rock-Paper-Scissors.

Passenger films one of his airplane's engines on fire.

Make some room on your periodic table, there's a new metal in town.

Don't forget Sunday is Star Wars Day. Why not celebrate with some Chewy cufflinks?

The five best new songs of the week.

Hundreds (if not thousands) of copies of a badly reviewed Atari E.T. game were found buried in the New Mexico desert.

How many days of your life would it take to whip through all of the TV that's worth binge-watching?

Cool ...

LINK: Original photo by Cpl. James Gulliver

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