Located at the Steven F. Udvar-Hazy Center (the Smithsonian National Air and Space Museum annex near Dulles Airport), this Boeing B-29 Superfortress was the first aircraft to drop an atomic bomb as a weapon of war. On August 6, 1945, the Enola Gay dropped an atomic bomb code-named “Little Boy” over the Japanese city of Hiroshima, causing extreme damage and immediately killing 70,000 people.
This statue near Red Square depicts Marshal of the Soviet Union Georgy Zhukov, the most decorated general in the history of both Russia and the Soviet Union.
I still have a ton of Costa Rica photos to upload, but here are a few photos from this past weekend when Liz, Nick, and I went to the Joint Service Open House at Andrews Air Force Base. You basically spend the day checking out all the cool military equipment that your tax money buys and eating junk food like hamburgers and funnel cake. Mmm tanks and funnel cake. What could be more American?
Cockpit of a DC Air National Guard F-16
The Golden Knights (U.S. Army parachute team)
Liz and I in the Huey
Crazy Red Bull helicopter that did a bunch of tricks
Manning the Mk 19 grenade launcher atop the Stryker. Liz and I had to wait in a line full of seven year-olds for our turn to climb up there. No, seriously, everyone playing in the Stryker was at least 20 years younger than us.
Patriot missile battery
I’m on a boat, I’m on a boat, everybody look at me
USAF Thunderbirds. These guys put on an amazing show.
Plummeting oil prices may force Iraq’s government to slow ambitious reconstruction plans, and the country could face a budget shortfall by next summer, U.S. and Iraqi officials said.
“We’re in a situation where Iraq is … potentially going to be in a deficit mode next year,” said Paul Brinkley, who leads Pentagon efforts to aid Iraq’s economy.
The trend worries U.S. officials who say a strong economy is needed to lock in the security gains made over the past year. “The long-term stability of the country heavily depends on a vibrant economy,” Brinkley said.
“For next year, with the oil prices going down, we’re going to have a problem,” said Samir Sumaidaie, Iraq’s ambassador to the United States.
If prices decline after that, “it’s not even going to be enough to pay salaries, never mind reconstruction of the infrastructure,” he said in a speech Tuesday.
For many detainees who grew up in Afghanistan — where music was prohibited under Taliban rule — their interrogations by U.S. forces marked their first exposure to the pounding rhythms, played at top volume.
The experience was overwhelming for many. Binyam Mohammed, now a prisoner at Guantanamo Bay, said men held with him at the CIA’s “Dark Prison” in Afghanistan wound up screaming and smashing their heads against walls, unable to endure more.
“There was loud music, (Eminem’s) ‘Slim Shady’ and Dr. Dre for 20 days. I heard this nonstop over and over,” he told his lawyer, Clive Stafford Smith.
Justice officials revealed shocking new details of the attacks at a DOJ press conference today, which they said included shooting a grenade into a nearby girl’s school and the killing of an Iraqi man who has his hands up in the air.
All of the victims were unarmed and none were insurgents, officials said.
“Many were shot while inside civilian vehicles that were attempting to flee from the convoy,” said Jeffrey Taylor, the U.S. Attorney. Taylor said the guards knew that they were not allowed to use suppressive fire, engage in offensive military action, or “exercise police powers.”
In documents filed in connection with his guilty plea, Ridgeway acknowledged killing at least one civilian, a female doctor, with “multiple rounds” into a vehicle.
Ridgeway, in the document, acknowledged the government evidence would prove he and the others “opened fire with automatic weapons and grenade launchers on unarmed civilians.”
He agreed none of the civilians “was an insurgent, and many were shot while inside of civilian vehicles that were attempting to flee.”
Ridgeway also admitted one victim was shot in his chest “while standing in the street with his hands up.”
Ridgeway also admitted to prosecutors “there was no attempt to provide reasonable warning” to the driver of a vehicle that was first targeted.
“If you fail to stop the Germans getting our oil, you will be shot. And when we have thrown the invader out, if we cannot restart production, we will shoot you again.”
Nikolai K. Baibakov, the former Soviet oil commissar and head of Gosplan, passed away yesterday at the age of 97. His life story, as described in the below NYTimes article, is certainly a fascinating one:
In an interview with Petroleum Economist in 1998, Mr. Baibakov remembered being summoned to meet with Stalin on a hot day in July 1942. Hitler was advancing to the Caucasus to try to seize the strategically essential oil fields near Baku.
Stalin pointed two fingers at Mr. Baibakov’s head, he recalled. “If you fail to stop the Germans getting our oil, you will be shot,” Stalin said. “And when we have thrown the invader out, if we cannot restart production, we will shoot you again.”
As the deputy to the oil commissar until 1944, and then as commissar himself, Mr. Baibakov accomplished both missions. He also built a pipeline under the ice to bring gasoline to besieged Leningrad, now St. Petersburg.
Mr. Baibakov, who was believed to be the last living commissar who had served under Stalin, went on to revive his country’s oil industry, which remains the engine of the Russian economy. He then oversaw the Soviet Union’s vast central planning apparatus, known by the acronym Gosplan.
In that job, he directed the planners who set and enforce investment, production and other targets for hundreds of ministries and industrial enterprises. During Mr. Baibakov tenure at Gosplan, the Soviet Union expanded its industrial output fivefold and constructed thousands of five-story apartment buildings, many of which are still inhabited. But agriculture faltered.
In 1985, after two decades as chief planner, he was fired by Mikhail S. Gorbachev, who was seeking younger aides and new economic directions. “Not all of our managers have broken away from inertia, from old approaches,” Mr. Gorbachev said.
Mr. Baibakov indeed never stopped admiring Stalin, had a picture of Lenin on his office wall and was not convinced that free-market economics trumped central planning. In an interview with Reuters in 2001, he said: “The market and private initiative are the wings in the sail, but the plan and planning are the rudder which guide the ship of the economy to its goal.”
At his death, Mr. Baibakov was president of the board of trustees of the Gubkin Russian State University of Oil and Gas and chairman of the All-Russian Association of Drilling and Service Contractors.
Nikolai Konstantinovich Baibakov was born in 1911 in Sabunchi, Azerbaijan. The son of a workman, he graduated from the Azerbaijan Petroleum Institute in 1932 and went to work in the oil fields. He served in the Red Army from 1935 to 1937, and then did various engineering and administrative jobs in the oil industry.
He emerged from World War II with the title people’s commissar of the oil industry. Oil production almost quadrupled over the next decade.
For a time in the 1950s, Lavrenti Beria, head of the secret police, also oversaw important industries, including oil. He granted all Mr. Baibakov’s requests for workers and materials to rebuild the oil industry.
Still, it was a delicate relationship. Once, Mr. Baibakov’s wife, Klaudia, told Mr. Beria that her husband could not come to the phone because he had the flu. Mr. Beria was outraged. He ordered Mr. Baibakov to wear galoshes, as he did, and to fly immediately to a faraway refinery. He did.
Petroleum Engineer asked Mr. Baibakov if Mr. Beria had ever had any of his fellow oil officials shot. “Yes, several,” he replied.
Khrushchev appointed Mr. Baibakov head of Gosplan in 1955, but removed him two years later. The reason may have been Mr. Baibakov’s disagreement with Khrushchev’s push to diminish Stalin’s reputation.
In 2006, the British Broadcasting Corporation interviewed Mr. Baibakov about Khrushchev’s historic speech denouncing Stalin, delivered in 1956 at the 20th congress of the Soviet Communist Party. He was one of the last surviving witnesses to the speech.
“Maybe there were individual incidents of repression, but what Khrushchev denounced Stalin for, that never happened,” Mr. Baibakov said. “Khrushchev just said those things to try and give himself more authority as a leader.”
After serving in regional and industrial posts for a decade, Mr. Baibakov was asked by Brezhnev to run Gosplan once again, which he did for 20 years.
Brezhnev was hardly a micromanager. The Moscow Times in 2001 reported that when Mr. Baibakov tried to brief him in the late 1970s about deterioration in the economy, Brezhnev said, “Take your manuscript away, so I never have to see it again.”
In another discussion of economics, Brezhnev declared that there were “too many figures” and suggested that the two go hunting instead. Mr. Baibakov shot 14 wild ducks, Brezhnev 21.
Russian announcements made no mention of any survivors of Mr. Baibakov. But the story of how he met his wife, Klaudia, was bandied about on Russian Web sites. She was an aide to the deputy construction commissar and went to his office for a signature. He fell for her, and asked her to lunch. She said no, but accepted an invitation to the movies. At dinner afterward, he said he was too busy for courting and asked her to marry him.
In character as a no-nonsense central planner, he gave her exactly a half-hour to weigh the proposal. They married the next day.
“I have heard of ‘the dead lying in heaps’, but never saw it till this battle. Whole ranks fell together.” – Captain Emory Upton, 2nd U.S. Artillery, at Antietam
I visited Antietam National Battlefield in Maryland back in August, but didn’t get around to uploading the photos until now. I’ve been to Gettysburg a few times, but have never made it out to Antietam (or Manassas, for that matter) despite its proximity to Washington DC.
The Battle of Antietam, fought on September 17, 1862, was the bloodiest single-day battle in American history, with 3,600 killed and over 17,000 wounded.
“Every stalk of corn in the northern and greater part of the field was cut as closely as could have been done with a knife, and the slain lay in rows precisely as they stood in their ranks a few minutes before.” – A Union officer
View of Bloody Lane from the observation tower
Burnside’s Bridge. Much smaller than I imagined.
Obligatory pose with artillery
Cannons at site of the “final attack”
Antietam National Cemetery
The base of this memorial reads “Not for themselves but for their country”
Reenactors about to perform a weapons firing demonstration
The rest of the photos are here.