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Author: TriSec    Date: 10/30/2012 10:12:43

Good Morning.

Today is our 4,041st day in Afghanistan.

We'll start this morning as we always do; with the latest casualty figures from our ongoing war, courtesy of Antiwar.com:

US Military Deaths - Afghanistan: 2,144
Other Military Deaths - Afghanistan: 1,069

We find this morning's cost of war passing through:

$ 1, 387, 912, 100, 000 .00


With the storm bearing down on us, I've been a bit lax in my research and bookmarking the last few days. Nevertheless, I've got an archive full of things, so let's take a look.

We'll start at Arlington National Cemetery. Most of us saw these pictures from yesterday:

http://a.abcnews.go.com/images/US/ht_facebook_uknown_tomb_soldier_rain_tomb_thg_121029_wblog.jpg


That is the "Old Guard", remaining on duty through the storm just like they have been every minute of every hour since 1948.

Honour and Duty are two concepts quite near and dear to me. Especially concerning our war dead. You may know that there aren't enough buglers to go around, and in recent years the Pentagon has sent an honour guard to many cemeteries with a "digital bugle" I myself am a member of Bugles Across America, although I have yet to take a mission. (Like most things, it's on the "after chemo" list, especially since my chops aren't in any shape to do it justice.)

But there's another shortage out there now, too. Of course it's money. There's word circulating through the military press that that the budget for military funerals has been cut nearly in half. After all the sacrifice we ask our soldiers to make while on duty and on the home front....for those that have earned the ultimate honour, it seems to me that the least we can do is give them a decent burial.


FORT GIBSON, Okla. As Spc. Jason Shorter and his colleague make each of the 13 folds in the American flag and his fellow soldier plays taps, he knows the family of a deceased soldier or veteran is watching and listening.

Presenting that folded triangle of blue with white stars to the family to honor their loved one is one last show of appreciation for their service and sacrifice, one that family wont forget.

Its a feeling thats indescribable, that this family knows why Im there and what were going to do, said Shorter, coordinator for the Eastern Office of the Oklahoma Army National Guards Military Funeral Honors Program. The job involves a lot of honor and a lot of pride.

Federal budget cuts are straining honor guard programs across the nation, reducing the number of full-time soldiers in Oklahoma who perform the service, coordinate the funeral details and maintain the skills of soldiers to the highest standards.

The Tulsa World reports funding for full-time soldiers to perform those services has been cut nearly in half in the last two years, while the number of services the Guard works has increased consistently, said Staff Sgt. Marvin Barbee, state coordinator for the Guards Military Funeral Honors Program.

With the start of the current federal fiscal year on Oct. 1, the Oklahoma National Guards budget for full-time staff to perform funeral details was about $287,000, Barbee said. The initial allocation in the last fiscal year was about $383,000, although an additional allocation in March added $169,000. In fiscal year 2010, the state was allocated nearly $550,000 for the function.

In the last fiscal year, the Oklahoma Army National Guard provided services for 1,464 funerals. In 2008, the Guard served at about 770 funerals, Barbee said.

While he could send more soldiers to services in the past, a typical funeral detail now consists of two soldiers, the minimum required to fold the flag and play taps.

You can always do more; we just have to do the minimum, Barbee said.

For a funeral with full honors, which includes a 21-gun salute and pallbearer service, the typical detail now would include nine soldiers, when 21 might have performed those duties in the past, Barbee said. Full honors are always used when a soldier is killed in action, Barbee said.

When the cuts for the current fiscal year went into effect, Barbee said his full-time staff was cut from 19 to six, with those soldiers who were cut moving to part time. There are 27 soldiers who are currently on part-time orders, he said.


And I think I'll stay with Arlington. Longtime readers of this column know about the years-long effort to straighten out all the issues that have been reported here previously. I will tip my hat to my Senator Scott Brown (R-MA). He's been one of the leaders on getting this cleaned up, and I've spoken to his office numerous times about this. As an active-duty Reservist, I'd have to say that our junior Senator is that rare Republican that actually does care about Veteran's issues. Now if the rest of his platform were as solid as this....but I digress.

In any case, Arlington has finally entered the 21st century by debuting an interactive digital map of all the gravesites. While it may seem like a routine thing, a titanic effort was required to track down and map all the graves....and during the course of the research, finding and correcting a number of missing or misplaced soldiers and headstones. It's a good thing; and if you have more than a passing interest, you can access the maps through the Arlington website here.


WASHINGTON Arlington National Cemetery on Monday made available to the public a massive electronic database detailing the gravesites of the roughly 400,000 people buried there.

Cemetery officials built the database over the last two years to verify the accuracy of their records brought into question by reports of misidentified graves. Prior to 2010, the cemetery used paper records and maps to track who is buried where.

On Monday at the Association of the United States Army convention in Washington, the cemetery debuted an interactive map available through its website and through a free smartphone app. It uses geospatial technology to hone in on specific graves and can also be searched by name.

It can be accessed through the cemetery's website www.arlingtoncemetery.mil

When a name is called up, a viewer can see when the person was buried and the dates of their birth and death. Photos of the front and back of the headstone can also be viewed. Monuments and memorials that commemorate the service of specific military units are also included in the database.

The application also highlights some of the notable graves throughout the cemetery that are popular with the roughly 4 million visitors annually that the cemetery draws.

"This is a great day for veterans and our families," said Kathryn Condon, executive director of the Army National Military Cemeteries, which includes Arlington.

Officials say the new app makes it easier for people walking the cemetery to locate a loved one's burial place. The app can be downloaded at the cemetery's visitor center.

The database has been the subject of a painstaking review and even now is not 100 percent complete. Katharine Kelley, the cemetery's director of accountability, said that about 99.4 percent of the nearly 260,000 gravesites, niches and markers have been verified.


And I think we'll leave it at that. Be careful out there today as you travel about - today is the day that any limbs weakened by the storm but not knocked down already may fall. And no driving through floodwaters, people!

110 comments (Latest Comment: 10/31/2012 03:13:48 by Will in Chicago)
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Comment by trojanrabbit on 10/30/2012 12:27:23
Hope everyone made it through the storm OK. We lost power just after it started and it's still out. Very aggravating that power is on across the street. But the McDonald's and the supermarket are on the side with no power. Decided to stay home today and hope power comes back on so I can see whether my tv or my dvr went boom when the power went out.

Comment by wickedpam on 10/30/2012 12:29:16
Morning - checking in. Doing okay, only lost a large rose bush. Anyone heard from Scoop or Liv?

Comment by wickedpam on 10/30/2012 12:39:28
have to get ready to head to work - we open at noon. I'll see everyone when I get in.

Comment by TriSec on 10/30/2012 12:50:43
Morning, folks. Made my 38-mile commute with no ill effects this morning. Drove through a couple of downpours, but that's all.

We had some significantly large branches down in my neighborhood, but no whole trees were lost. Power blinked for about a minute yesterday - enough to knock me offline and mess up all the clocks, but that's all.

The back half of my neighborhood has been out since about 2pm yesterday - branch came down and took out the wires on the way by, so they need Union Thug help to fix that.


Comment by TriSec on 10/30/2012 12:52:39
I am a wee bit concerned about Liv...I know he lives on the island, but the video coming out of Manhattan last night was incredible.

Providence closed the storm barriers, so unless they overtop like Katrina, Scoop should be OK.



Comment by TriSec on 10/30/2012 12:55:22
And although they are not approved for civilian wear, I've got my Woodbadge beads on today...which I finally received Saturday night.

<-- Yay me!

http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/7/7f/Scout_woodbadge_beads.jpg


Comment by Raine on 10/30/2012 13:06:12
Quote by TriSec:
I am a wee bit concerned about Liv...I know he lives on the island, but the video coming out of Manhattan last night was incredible.

Providence closed the storm barriers, so unless they overtop like Katrina, Scoop should be OK.

Liv appears to have lost power about 15 hours ago. He lives in North Massapequa. He also said he was north of the Southern State Parkway, so as far as flooding, I think he is ok.


Comment by Mondobubba on 10/30/2012 13:15:43
Ugh. Great day so far. Our network services aren't functioning, but I can get on the internets.

I checked El Libro de Caras and was pleased to see how many of my northeastern peeps have power and are otherwise fine.

Comment by trojanrabbit on 10/30/2012 13:20:33
Just went out to get breakfast and saw a dozen utility trucks. They're either taking a well deserved break or they're about to fix our problem.

Comment by BobR on 10/30/2012 13:22:33
Quote by TriSec:
And although they are not approved for civilian wear, I've got my Woodbadge beads on today...which I finally received Saturday night.

<-- Yay me!

http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/7/7f/Scout_woodbadge_beads.jpg



Comment by Mondobubba on 10/30/2012 13:28:49
Quote by Raine:
Quote by TriSec:
I am a wee bit concerned about Liv...I know he lives on the island, but the video coming out of Manhattan last night was incredible.

Providence closed the storm barriers, so unless they overtop like Katrina, Scoop should be OK.

Liv appears to have lost power about 15 hours ago. He lives in North Massapequa. He also said he was north of the Southern State Parkway, so as far as flooding, I think he is ok.



Vibes for Liv :worried:

Comment by Raine on 10/30/2012 13:30:59
OMG, I didn't know they had to evacuate NYU hospital.

A tanker ran aground on Staten ISland.

Comment by Raine on 10/30/2012 13:32:31
https://pbs.twimg.com/media/A6bizcACMAERzNe.jpg


Amazing.

Comment by Raine on 10/30/2012 13:38:07
The entrance to the Holland tunnel, posted around 830 this morning. Not sure when it was actually taken.

Comment by Mondobubba on 10/30/2012 13:43:56
Quote by Raine:
OMG, I didn't know they had to evacuate NYU hospital.

A tanker ran aground on Staten ISland.



I saw that! Jesus H. Christ.

Comment by Raine on 10/30/2012 13:46:50
Quote by Mondobubba:
Quote by Raine:
OMG, I didn't know they had to evacuate NYU hospital.

A tanker ran aground on Staten ISland.



I saw that! Jesus H. Christ.
JEEBUS.


Comment by Raine on 10/30/2012 13:52:12
breezy point, Brooklyn. I talked to Honeybear, and she is fine... she said she can still smell this.

Comment by TriSec on 10/30/2012 13:56:35
Jon Kelleher, WBZ (Boston)


We escaped the worst of it around here, but we still had nearly 400,000 homes in the dark last night, and pretty much everyone can see the dangerous mess that was left behind. That’s the bad news.

The good news is, this storm also showed us a positive side of life that’s all too easy to forget about. I spent all day and most of the evening Monday at the Massachusetts Emergency Management Agency bunker in Framingham, watching the first responder agencies and their executive branch bosses go through their paces, and it was an impressive sight.

It was professional, well-coordinated and reflected government at its best – a enterprise devoted to serving a clear public need as quickly and efficiently as possible with no grandstanding, ego trips or fakery.

And it was also impressive to watch two institutions that are usually at odds with each other, government and the news media, working as cooperatively as you’ll ever see them work.

The folks from MEMA and the governor’s office were unfailingly polite and helpful despite obvious stress and fatigue. And we animals in the press corps were also as well-behaved as we get.

During one press briefing, after the governor recited the growing number of power outages, I suggested he have the state fire marshal warn people about the safety hazards of makeshift heat sources. On his way out, the governor thanked me. I said, ‘You’re welcome.’

Believe me, it doesn’t get more civil than that, and never will.

No one’s asking for a medal here. It’s just that, for once, everyone was working toward the same goal – helping our fellow citizens make it safely through the storm.


Comment by Raine on 10/30/2012 14:03:25
Quote by Raine:
breezy point, Brooklyn. I talked to Honeybear, and she is fine... she said she can still smell this.
50-80 houses so far have been lost to this fire.

I believe they may still be trying to fully put it out.


Comment by Raine on 10/30/2012 14:04:43
Quote by Raine:
Quote by Raine:
breezy point, Brooklyn. I talked to Honeybear, and she is fine... she said she can still smell this.
50-80 houses so far have been lost to this fire.

I believe they may still be trying to fully put it out.
You may remember Breezy point, they had a rare tornado back in September.


Comment by Mondobubba on 10/30/2012 14:08:16
Quote by Raine:
Quote by Mondobubba:
Quote by Raine:
OMG, I didn't know they had to evacuate NYU hospital.

A tanker ran aground on Staten ISland.



I saw that! Jesus H. Christ.
JEEBUS.



At least it was a water tanker

Comment by BobR on 10/30/2012 14:08:32
Quote by Raine:
Quote by Raine:
Quote by Raine:
breezy point, Brooklyn. I talked to Honeybear, and she is fine... she said she can still smell this.
50-80 houses so far have been lost to this fire.

I believe they may still be trying to fully put it out.
You may remember Breezy point, they had a rare tornado back in September.

Aptly named, apparently.

Comment by BobR on 10/30/2012 14:10:30
Comment by Raine on 10/30/2012 14:14:42
This Op-Ed from the NYT needs to be passed around. It's EXCELLENT

Comment by Mondobubba on 10/30/2012 14:14:54
Comment by TriSec on 10/30/2012 14:16:59
It appears that after the "FU" from Governor Christie, first responders did the right thing anyway.


New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie ® said residents in three trailer parks in Moonachie had to await rescue on roofs.

“We’ve rescued hundreds of folks out of there,” Christie said on CNN. “We’ll have to rescue hundreds more throughout the day.”



Source

Comment by Mondobubba on 10/30/2012 14:17:29
Quote by BobR:
Quote by Raine:
Quote by Raine:
Quote by Raine:
breezy point, Brooklyn. I talked to Honeybear, and she is fine... she said she can still smell this.
50-80 houses so far have been lost to this fire.

I believe they may still be trying to fully put it out.
You may remember Breezy point, they had a rare tornado back in September.

Aptly named, apparently.



Oh it is that fire. I saw something about it somewhere. Wow.

Comment by Raine on 10/30/2012 14:19:14
My heart is really aching for my beloved city today.

Comment by trojanrabbit on 10/30/2012 14:19:34
Glad I stayed home. There are crews up in the attic applying insulation. Poor Lucky is terrified. Trying to keep him calm.

Comment by Mondobubba on 10/30/2012 14:25:24
Big round of applause for the nurses at the NYU Tisch Hospital for keeping their critically ill patients alive after the backup generator crapped out. Thanks! You all rock! I've not mentioned this lately, but I nurses!

Comment by TriSec on 10/30/2012 14:31:50
Quote by Raine:
My heart is really aching for my beloved city today.



I posted on FB last night:

"As a Bostonian, I generally hate New York.

Not Tonight. Let's be careful out there."



Comment by Mondobubba on 10/30/2012 14:35:29
Quote by TriSec:
Quote by Raine:
My heart is really aching for my beloved city today.



I posted on FB last night:

"As a Bostonian, I generally hate New York.

Not Tonight. Let's be careful out there."



It may sound trite and cliched, but we are all residents of New Jersey and New York (city and state) today.

I can't find fault with Romney collected relief donations at his campaign stops.

Comment by clintster on 10/30/2012 14:36:02
Morning all! Well, we still have power (obviously) here in NC. However, they're predicting 12-18 inches of snow before the winter storm warning expires tomorrow morning. The wind is whipping around something fierce right now, and we've been advised to not do any unnecessary travel. So, I'm gonna sit in the house, maybe take a walk to get some pics, and watch some movies.

Comment by Raine on 10/30/2012 14:42:43
Well, I;m not sure if I'd heard about this before, but Romney’s lax regulation may have fueled meningitis outbreak

It mentions William Koch -- I remember Tri posted a link about that man a few weeks ago.



Comment by velveeta jones on 10/30/2012 14:45:30
Checking in. We got snow, but power. Hope everyone is okay.

Comment by Raine on 10/30/2012 14:47:28
Quote by clintster:
Morning all! Well, we still have power (obviously) here in NC. However, they're predicting 12-18 inches of snow before the winter storm warning expires tomorrow morning. The wind is whipping around something fierce right now, and we've been advised to not do any unnecessary travel. So, I'm gonna sit in the house, maybe take a walk to get some pics, and watch some movies.
Sounds like a lovely way to spend the day!


Comment by Raine on 10/30/2012 14:47:53
Quote by velveeta jones:
Checking in. We got snow, but power. Hope everyone is okay.
Hi Vel!

Enjoy the Halloween snow!


Comment by clintster on 10/30/2012 14:50:49
Quote by velveeta jones:
Checking in. We got snow, but power. Hope everyone is okay.


Good to hear. If you feel like you don't have enough, drive on up this way and I'll give you all you can handle. :)

Comment by Mondobubba on 10/30/2012 14:52:45
About this snow. Guess what is going to happen when it melts? Flooding! Just sayin...

Comment by Mondobubba on 10/30/2012 14:53:36
Does anybody have Liv's phone number? We should see if he's okay?

Comment by Raine on 10/30/2012 15:39:25
Quote by Mondobubba:
Does anybody have Liv's phone number? We should see if he's okay?
I think Either Bob or I may. I'll check.



Comment by Raine on 10/30/2012 15:44:20
Quote by Raine:
Quote by Mondobubba:
Does anybody have Liv's phone number? We should see if he's okay?
I think Either Bob or I may. I'll check.

He's got Liv on the phone as we speak!


Comment by BobR on 10/30/2012 15:44:37
Just called Livin - he's fine, but no power

Comment by Mondobubba on 10/30/2012 15:49:19
Quote by BobR:
Just called Livin - he's fine, but no power



Woohoo! I was worried about our Long Island buckaroo.

Comment by BobR on 10/30/2012 15:51:08
Quote by BobR:
Just called Livin - he's fine, but no power

He's in his car charging his phone and going through news withdrawal

Comment by Scoopster on 10/30/2012 15:53:03
Mornin' all..

We didn't get too much more than a lotta wind and a lotta squally rain up this way, unless you're right on the coast then you had some pretty hardcore flooding & beach erosion from the storm surge.

Comment by Raine on 10/30/2012 15:53:50
Comment by wickedpam on 10/30/2012 15:56:58
Been at work since 11 but they just now turned the servers back on.

Glad to here Liv is okay!

Comment by Raine on 10/30/2012 15:57:05
Quote by Scoopster:
Mornin' all..

We didn't get too much more than a lotta wind and a lotta squally rain up this way, unless you're right on the coast then you had some pretty hardcore flooding & beach erosion from the storm surge.


Glad to see you are ok. I believe we have all the regulars checked in!


Comment by Scoopster on 10/30/2012 15:59:49
Quote by Raine:
Quote by Scoopster:
Mornin' all..

We didn't get too much more than a lotta wind and a lotta squally rain up this way, unless you're right on the coast then you had some pretty hardcore flooding & beach erosion from the storm surge.


Glad to see you are ok. I believe we have all the regulars checked in!

It was a bit hairy there with the cancelled bus coming back from Philly. I heard that many of the players who made the 2nd day of the tournament (including many pro players from around the world) are STILL stuck there or got stuck out in Pittsburgh trying to outrun the storm.