Monday, December 24, 2012

NORAD is ready to track Santa's flight

From NORAD's website:

PETERSON AIR FORCE BASE, Colo. -- The North American Aerospace Defense Command is getting ready to track Santa’s yuletide journey! The NORAD Tracks Santa website,, went live today featuring a Countdown Calendar, a Kid’s Countdown Village complete with holiday games and activities that change daily, and video messages from students and troops from around the world. With the addition of Brazilian Portuguese, the website is now available in eight languages: English, French, Spanish, German, Italian, Japanese, Brazilian Portuguese, and Chinese.

Starting at midnight MST on Dec. 24, website visitors can watch Santa as he makes all the preparations for his flight. Then, at 4 a.m. MST (6 a.m. EST), trackers worldwide can talk to a live phone operator to inquire about Santa’s whereabouts by dialing the toll-free number 1-877-Hi-NORAD (1-877-446-6723) or by sending an email to NORAD’s “Santa Cams” will also stream videos as Santa makes his way over various locations worldwide.

NORAD Tracks Santa has truly become a global experience, delighting generations of families everywhere. It is due, in large part, to the efforts and services of numerous contributors. New to this year’s program are Acuity Scheduling, Big Fish Worldwide, Carousel Industries, the Colorado Springs Chamber of Commerce Military Affairs Council, General Electric, the National Tree Lighting Ceremony, RadiantBlue Technologies Inc., thunderbaby studios, the U.S. Coast Guard Band, the U.S. Merchant Marine Academy Band, Visionbox, and the West Point Band. Returning collaborators include the Air Force Academy Band, Analytical Graphics Inc., Air Canada, Avaya, Booz Allen Hamilton, Colorado Springs School District 11, the Defense Video & Imagery Distribution System, the Federal Aviation Administration, First Choice Awards & Gifts, Globelink Foreign Language Center, Google, the Marine Toys for Tots Foundation, Meshbox, the Naden Band of the Maritime Forces Pacific, Naturally Santa’s Inc., the Newseum, OnStar, PCI Broadband, the Space Foundation, tw telecom, Verizon and UGroup Media.

It all started in 1955 when a local media ad directed kids to call Santa direct – only the number was misprinted. Instead of reaching Santa, the phone rang through to the Crew Commander on duty at the Continental Air Defense Command Operations Center. Thus began the tradition which NORAD has carried on since it was created in 1958.

“NORAD stands the watch protecting the skies of North America 365 days a year, but on Christmas Eve the children of the world look to NORAD, and our trusted partners, to make sure that Santa is able to complete his mission safely,” said General Charles H. Jacoby, Jr., NORAD Commander.

“This mission is a duty to the children of the world and a privilege we've enjoyed for 56 consecutive years, but the effort could not be carried out without the superb assistance of numerous government and non-government contributors. It is the generosity of these contributors, the hard work of the more than 1,200 volunteers who man the NORAD Tracks Santa Operation Center, and vigilance of the Canadian and U.S. forces who work at NORAD that guarantees the program's success each and every year."

BTW: This is based on Google Earth. If you press the plus sign, you can zoom in close enough to see buildings and such, and maybe catch Santa actually going down a chimney

Friday, December 21, 2012

The Fallout Begins

As Diplopundit and the media have noted, four senior State Department employees have lost their jobs over the attacks in Benghazi. We have been silent, for reasons having nothing to do with those events, but feel the need to say the following:

Benghazi was a terrible tragedy. Four good men, patriots, colleagues, family members, lost their lives in service to the American people.  They were killed, in part, because they were not adequately protected. That is hugely sad and unfortunate.

Of the four people punished for that event by being let go, the highest-ranking should have left long ago. Another, the lowest in the DS chain, had made some difficult decisions badly. The other two were, like our colleagues in Benghazi, in the wrong place at the wrong time. One will be sorely missed by DS, which would have benefited greatly from his continued service.

A very large part of the problem has not been addressed. Yes, bad decisions were made. And yes, the results were tragic.

Congress is currently saying, every day, that when there is not enough money, difficult choices have to be made. State, which received less than adequate security funding from that same Congress, made difficult choices.

Security funding is insurance. And like all insurance, you pray you will never need it. It is expensive. And if the security works well, it looks like a lot of money has been spent for nothing. In this climate, government officials who look like they are spending a lot of money for nothing get hammered. Particularly if you have to get waivers for other rules in order to spend that money. So people send their limited resources to the places that look like they need it most, and hope for the best.

The problem is that the enemy looks for weak spots. And the enemy has eyes now all over the world. So they find the spots where the money has not been spent for insurance. Very quickly, a place that looks "safer" in comparison, can become, in retrospect, the place that needed it the most.  Monitoring that takes resources as well. And again, when all goes well, the money spent monitoring that looks wasted.

Bad choices were made, and heads should roll. But if bad choices were made, they were made because the funding to make the best choices was not there. That does not excuse what happened. But there is blame to go around, and a lot of it lies with those high up on a Hill, who, while talking a strong game now, considered the amount State asked for, for insurance, too expensive to fund.