Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Weirdly Warm:South Central Pennsylvania's Shuttered Ski Resorts

Liberty Mountain,Roundtop Mountain and Whitetail Resorts have yet to open so much as one trail.It has simply been too warm and wet.Not only has it not snowed;it hasn't been possible to make snow,either.The target maximum temperature of 28 degrees F has been frequently exceeded.
Skiers are getting impatient,asking the resorts by Tweet just when they plan to open this year.All they've been able to reply is that they don't know,but there will surely be some skiing eventually.As long as a stubborn jet stream keeps the Arctic air bottled up in Canada,there won't be any relief for them.The local economy will continue to miss the business the skiers bring up from D.C. and Baltimore,as well as close-in towns in Pennsylvania and Northern Maryland.
The three resorts are owned by Snow Time,Inc.,a privately held firm based in York,Pennsylvania.They have a four season business model,offering golf,along with wedding and conference amenities,as well as fly fishing.Given ski seasons like this one,it's a good thing they do.
Tuesday saw torrential rain pelt the resorts,but the company says Wednesday night is forecasted to be ideal for snowmaking,with temperatures in the low 20s F.Next week is looking even better,with the prospect for several consecutive nights of 25 degrees F or below as an Arctic blast buffets the region.
Update:All three resorts have now opened for skiing and snowboarding on limited terrain.There is no top of the mountain access or tubing as of yet.Expect rudimentary quality conditions-at least until next week,when Arctic air will be drifting in.

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Operation New Dawn Concludes As Colors Return From Iraq

The colors of U.S. Forces Iraq-the unit's flags-arrived home on Tuesday,carried by the last troops to return from Operation New Dawn,General Lloyd J. Austin III,U.S. Army,commander,and his staff.The soldiers flew to Joint Base Andrews,Maryland,where they were greeted by President Barack Obama;Vice President Joe Biden;Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff General Martin Dempsey,U.S. Army;and Deputy Defense Secretary Ashton B. Carter,as well as the returning soldiers' families.
In a brief address to mark the occasion,General Austin,who is incidentally one of the highest ranking African Americans in the U.S. Army,declared that U.S. Forces Iraq has accomplished its mission.I am proud to safely return our colors to the United States of America.They have safely been passed from commander to commander.
A significant number of our troops answered the call after 9-11.Many of them have re-enlisted.What our troops achieved is truly remarkable.They removed a brutal dictator and gave the Iraqi people their freedom.
Success in Iraq cannot be soley defined as a military effort.Thank you to all of our State Department comrades who are here with us today.
The general went on to thank our Gold Star families-those who lost family members in the war-for their sacrifice,and also the great American public for their care packages and letters-often sent to soldiers they didn't even know.It was a big boost to morale.
Finally,the general thanked our military men and women who served in Iraq.I am truly humbled by your many sacrifices.Thank you for a job extremely well done,General Austin said emphatically.
Genral Austin goes on to be Vice Chief of Staff,U.S. Army.The colors will eventually be put on display.
Members of all five branches of the U.S. military served in the Iraq War:Army,Marine Corps,Navy,Air Force and Coast Guard.

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Reality T.V.,Coast Guard Style

The Weather Channel has been exploiting the U.S. Coast Guard for its own purposes of generating ratings and making a profit.The question is,is the Coast Guard getting a fair amount in return?
"Coast Guard Alaska" documents life at the Kodiak air station in seven 60 minute episodes.It does make for compelling viewing.For human interest,it's hard to top search and rescue,which the Kodiak Island unit appears to spend most of its time on.Even those who really aren't interested in the Coast Guard as an institution,nor understand the service fully,will be drawn in by the life and death situations which are the bread and butter of this particular outpost.The documentary has the added virtue of being amenable to the viewing habits of many of TWC's viewers,who mainly watch the channel in short snippets to-let's face it-get the local forecast on the way out the door or in airport lounges and hotel rooms.You can watch the episodes rescue by rescue,since the events are sufficiently self-explanatory. In short,the show is a winner for TWC.As to whether the Coast Guard is winning equally is more difficult to quantify.Ultimately,the service's leadership will have to ponder that one and render the appropriate decision.
The Weather Channel's goal is to reward its investors through profitable entertainment.The Coast Guard's goal is neither to entertain nor to make a profit,but to preserve the homeland security of the United States through its various missions.
The Weather Channel is co-owned by NBC Universal,Bain Capital and The Blackstone Group,L.P.In turn,NBC Universal is co-owned by Comcast and General Electric."Coast Guard Alaska" is a production of Al Roker Entertainment,whose CEO is the popular NBC personality.
The Weather Channel is seen by more than 100 million U.S. viewers.Other TWC long-form original content series include "Twist of Fate" and "From the Edge with Peter Lik."

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

DIA Honored With Joint Meritorious Unit Award

The Defense Intelligence Agency,a Pentagon organization that provides strategic military intelligence to warfighters and defense policy makers,received a Joint Meritorious Unit Award,or JMUA,from Defense Secretary Leon Panetta at a 13 October ceremony.The award,the eighth in the agency's history,was given for exceptional achievement during the period of August 1,2008 to July 31,2011.
The extraordinary dedication of agency personnel was directly responsible for the identification,pursuit and capture or death of key adversaries,as well as the provision of vital information essential to maintaining our national security,the award citation said.
Within the past year,the agency helped manage emerging threats related to North Korean aggression against South Korea;the Arab Spring;and the Libya crisis;as well,a DIA team supported humanitarian and disaster relief to Japan following the tsunami and nuclear disaster at Fukushima.Agency teams are frequently deployed with military and interagency partners to defend U.S. national security interests.
The award device,a streamer,was attached to the DIA flag by Mr.Panetta and DIA Director Lieutenant General Ronald Burgess,Jr.,U.S. Army.Looking on was James Clapper,Director of National Intelligence.
The DIA has more than 16,500 military and civilian personnel worldwide.The agency is celebrating its 50th anniversary.