Tuesday, April 25, 2017

Northcom Commander Highlights Partnerships To Counter Transnational Crime

By Lisa Ferdinando at the DoD News offers the below report:

COZUMEL, Mexico, April 25, 2017 — The U.S. military is looking for ways to enhance cooperation with its Mexican and Central American partners to address the security challenges that threaten the stability in the region, the commander of North American Aerospace Defense Command and U.S. Northern Command said here today.

The issues of concern in Central America include migration and countering transnational organized crime, Air Force Gen. Lori J. Robinson said in closing remarks at the two-day Central America Security Conference.

"At U.S. Northern Command, we recognize that transnational organized crime does pose a challenge to stability of all the countries in the region," she said, adding that her command is working closely with Mexico and U.S. Southern Command to counter the challenges.

The conference, co-hosted by the United States and Mexico, provided a forum for Central American, Mexican and U.S. officials to examine ways to boost cooperation to address the evolving, multidomain threats.

Collective Willingness' to Address Challenges

Robinson urged the countries represented at the conference to continue to collaborate and pursue the ideas that emerged from this year's talks.

"I appreciated hearing a collective willingness to work together for stronger partnerships in the region," she told the forum, saying she looks forward to working with the partners to advance efforts for security.

Robinson thanked Mexico for its role in hosting the 12th iteration of the conference, which marked the first time the session was held outside Central America. Next year's forum is slated to take place in El Salvador.

The conference brought together chiefs of defense and ministers of defense from Central America, plus observers from Canada, Chile, Colombia, the Dominican Republic and Great Britain. Panama and Costa Rica sent public security representatives.

Navy Adm. Kurt W. Tidd, the Southcom commander, addressed the forum yesterday. He highlighted the need for a unified approach in confronting the threats in Central America that are "adaptive and dynamic, constantly reacting."

Transnational Organized Crime is 'Common Enemy'

According to the Mexican military hosts, the participants reached consensus on greater integration to make their regional security structures more efficient. A joint news release from Mexico's National Defense and Navy secretariats said the countries stressed that transnational crime threatens all nations in the region.

"Participant countries remarked that our common enemy is transnational organized crime, which respects no border and it is towards this objective that all our efforts must be focused, with an absolute respect of human rights," the news release said.

After the conference, the participating countries hold multilateral and bilateral discussions to define specific steps to achieve the objectives defined in the conference, Southcom spokesman Jose Ruiz said.

NoteIn the above Northcom photo taken by Air Force 1st Lt. Laruen Hill, U.S. Public Health Service Cmdr. Kiel Fisher and first responders from the Mexican states of Jalisco and Michoacán review various techniques using a rescue sled to save a water-based victim in Puerto Vallarta, Mexico on March 22, 2017.

U.S. Northern Command donated $270,000 of equipment and sent multiple representatives to Puerto Vallarta for a week of water search and rescue training with Mexican firefighters and lifeguards. This training took place in support of Northcom’s humanitarian assistance partnership with the Mexican government. 

You can click on the above photo to enlarge. 

USS Mahan Has Close Encounter With Iranian Fast Attack Craft

FoxNews.com reports that the USS Mahan, a guided-missile destroyer, had a close encounter with an Iranian Revolutionary Guard "fast attack craft" in the Persian Gulf Monday and had to alter course, sound the danger signal, fire flares and man its weapons.

You can read the piece and watch the video clip via the below link:


Note: The above U.S. Navy photo shows the USS Mahan at sea.

Is The IRS Truly Calling? Report Phone Scams To The FTC

 The Federal Trade Commission released the below information:

You get a call from someone who says she’s from the IRS. She says that you owe back taxes. She threatens to sue you, arrest or deport you, or revoke your license if you don’t pay right away. She tells you to put money on a prepaid debit card and give her the card numbers. The caller may know part of your Social Security number. And your caller ID might show a Washington, DC area code. But is it really the IRS calling?

No. The real IRS won’t ask you to pay with prepaid debit cards or wire transfers. They also won’t ask for a credit card over the phone. And when the IRS first contacts you about unpaid taxes, they do it by mail, not by phone. And caller IDs can be faked.

Here’s what you can do:

Stop. Don’t wire money or pay with a prepaid debit card. Once you send it, the money is gone. If you have tax questions, go to irs.gov or call the IRS at 800-829-1040.

Pass this information on to a friend. You may not have gotten one of these calls, but the chances are you know someone who has.

Please Report Scams

If you spot a scam, please report it to the Federal Trade Commission (FTC). Report a scam online or call the FTC at 1-877-FTC-HELP (1-877-382-4357) or TTY 1-866-653-4261. Your complaint can help protect other people. By filing a complaint, you can help the FTC’s investigators identify the imposters and stop them before they can get someone’s hard-earned money. It really makes a difference.

Monday, April 24, 2017

Air Force Photo: Heritage Flight

In the above U.S. Air Force photo taken by Staff Sgt. Jason Couillard an Air Force F-22 Raptor flies in formation with a World War II-era P-51 Mustang over Panama City Beach, Florida on April 22, 2017.

The flight was part of the opening ceremony of the Gulf Coast Salute Air Show. 

Note: You can click on the above phot to enalrge.

U.S. Stands By Afghan People After Taliban’s Heinous Acts, Defense Secretary Mattis Says

Terri Moon Cronk at the DoD News offers the below report:

WASHINGTON, April 24, 2017 — During a visit to the headquarters of NATO’s Resolute Support mission in the Afghan capital of Kabul today, Defense Secretary Jim Mattis had stern words for the April 21 Taliban attack on an Afghan military base and mosque, in which more than 100 people were killed.

The secretary spoke at a news conference alongside Army Gen. John W. Nicholson, commander of the Resolute Support mission and of U.S. forces in Afghanistan.

“As if we needed a reminder of the type of enemy we’re up against, the killing of Afghan citizens and soldiers -- protectors of the people -- just as they were coming out of a mosque, a house of worship, it certainly characterizes this fight for exactly what it is,” Mattis said. “These people have no religious foundation. They are not devout anything, and it shows why we stand with the people of this country against such heinous acts perpetrated by this barbaric enemy and what they do.”

Talks With Afghan President

The secretary said he had met earlier with Afghan President Ashraf Ghani and thanked him for his leadership in the midst of difficult times and for the inclusive approach of this unity government.

“We discussed his initiative to make the government … more responsive to all of the Afghan people, and we all recognize the challenges to this government of that effort presented by enemies of the Afghan people who refused to renounce violence,” Mattis said.

The secretary pointed out that President Donald J. Trump has directed a review of U.S. policy in Afghanistan. “This dictates an ongoing dialogue with Afghanistan’s leadership,” he said, “and that’s why I came here: to get with President Ghani and his ministers and hear directly and at length from … General Nicholson to provide my best assessment and advice as we go forward.”

That advice, he added, will go not only to the president, but also to the NATO secretary general and all the troop-contributing nations with which the United States coordinates and collaborates.

The teamwork between the U.S. and Afghan governments, their diplomats and their international military contingents has achieved high levels of partnership, the secretary said. “In a word, I find it impressive,” he added.

2017: Difficult Road Ahead

The review in Washington of the Afghanistan mission is a dialogue that includes Secretary of State Rex Tillerson, the president and his staff in the White House, and “I’d say we’re under no illusions about the challenges associated with this mission,” Mattis said

2017 will be another tough year for the Afghan security forces and the international troops who will continue to stand shoulder to shoulder with Afghanistan and against those who seek to undermine the nation’s legitimate government, Mattis said. He called on the Taliban to work honestly for a positive future for the Afghan people.

“They need only to renounce violence and reject terrorism,” he added. “It’s a pretty low standard to join the political process.”

Note: In the above DoD photo taken by Air Force Tech. Sgt. Brigitte N. Brantly Defense Secretary Jim Mattis and Army Gen. John Nicholson, the Resolute Support commander, meet with some of the mission's senior leaders and command staff at the Resolute Support Headquarters in Kabul, Afghanistan on April 24, 2017.  

You can click on the above photo to enlarge. 

Sunday, April 23, 2017

My Washington Times Review Of The Pierre Hotel Affair: How Eight Gentleman Orchestrated The Largest Jewel Heist In History

My review of The Pierre Hotel Affair appeared in the Washington Times.

In the predawn hours of Jan. 2, 1972, eight armed thieves dressed in tuxedos and transported by limousine invaded the Pierre Hotel in New City. Wearing sunglasses, fake noses, beards and mustaches with their formal wear, the crooks tied up the security guards, the night shift staff and any residents and guests they came across. They even trapped two NYPD officers in the basement after the freezing cops came into the luxury hotel for coffee.

As the hostages were rounded up and detained in an alcove, two members of the gang ripped through selected safety deposit boxes in the hotel vault. The gang escaped with reportedly $28 million dollars in cash, bearer bonds and jewelry. To this day the case is considered to be unsolved, although the two primary crooks, Bobby Comfort and Sammy ‘the Arab” Nalo, went to prison on related charges.

But as David Simone tells us in ‘The Pierre Hotel Affair,” the organized, professional and bold gang of thieves who committed “the perfect crime” did not thrive with their “swag.” The greedy and duplicitous gang members promptly double-crossed each other. The two leaders held out some of the jewels from the rest of the gang while two other members of the gang escaped to Europe with most of the stolen jewels. Three of the thieves were later murdered by other gang members.

Nick “the Cat” Sacco, a former jewel thief and the sole survivor of the gang, wrote the book with David Simone. Written in a sensational and lurid style, reminding me of an early Mickey Spillane crime thriller, the book recounts the detailed planning of the robbery, the robbery itself and the bloody aftermath. The book also introduces us to the motley crew of crooks, which included a stone cold hitman for the mob, a degenerate gambler and serial double-crosser, and professional jewel thieves like Comfort and Sacco.

Sacco, then an associate of Lucchese organized crime family consigliere Christie “the Tick” Furnari, received the backing of the Cosa Nostra boss for the Pierre robbery.

You can read the rest of the review via the below link:

On This Day In History William Shakespeare Was Born

As History.com notes, on this day in 1564 William Shakespeare was born.

According to tradition, the great English dramatist and poet William Shakespeare is born in Stratford-on-Avon on April 23, 1564. It is impossible to be certain the exact day on which he was born, but church records show that he was baptized on April 26, and three days was a customary amount of time to wait before baptizing a newborn. Shakespeare’s date of death is conclusively known, however: it was April 23, 1616. He was 52 years old and had retired to Stratford three years before.

You can read the rest of the piece via the below link: