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French Foreign Legion

Date: 04-24-10
Host: Ian Punnett
Guests: Adrian D. Gilbert

Author and war expert Adrian Gilbert discussed the French Foreign Legion, a unique military organization established in 1831 and comprised mainly of foreign nationals wishing to serve in the French Army. Once known for attracting criminals looking for a clean start, the elite unit now performs extensive background checks on potential recruits. They do not accept murderers or people who have committed serious crimes, Gilbert said.

Those who are accepted into its ranks take on a new identity, and swear to live and die by the motto "The Legion is our Country," he continued. Gilbert cited the Battle of Camarón (1863) as evidence of the Legion's legendary toughness. In that battle, an outnumbered group of one hundred men fought against an advancing army of 2,000 Mexican revolutionaries until only three Legionnaires remained.

The Legion made its headquarters in Algeria, North Africa, until the 1960s. Their remote location from France allowed them to play only a small role in World War II. After Nazi Germany took over France, part of the Legion continued fighting against Axis forces while another part served the new Vichy regime, Gilbert explained. He also commented on stories about Nazi gold and other hidden WWII treasures, pointing out that he has found no documentary evidence to support their existence.

With no French Empire to defend, the contemporary Legion has morphed into a compact special forces unit of about 9,000 troops, Gilbert estimated. They are sent to troubled spots around the world, such as Afghanistan and the Ivory Coast, and paid reasonably well for their efforts, Gilbert noted. After serving faithfully in the Legion for five years, a member may apply to become a French citizen, he added.

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Ian Punnett's Blog Post 4/24/10

Ian Punnett's Blog Post 4/24/10

Of all the mysteries in the world tonight--and there are many--which one do you suppose is getting all the buzz?

It’s not the story from the Santa Maria Times confirming that the most recent DARPA experiment failed--or at least that’s what they’re saying:

A military experiment of hypersonic technology apparently ended in failure shortly after a Minotaur 4-Lite launched Thursday afternoon from Vandenberg Air Force Base, officials said late Friday.

The Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency launched its Falcon Hypersonic Technology Vehicle 2 at 4 p.m. Thursday from South Base.

In the statement released Friday night, DARPA said preliminary review of technical data reveals that the rocket “successfully delivered the HTV-2 glide vehicle to the desired separation conditions.”

“The launch vehicle executed first-of-its-kind energy management maneuvers, clamshell payload fairing release and HTV-2 deployment,” the DARPA statement said. “Approximately 9 minutes into the mission, telemetry assets experienced a loss of signal from the HTV-2. An engineering team is reviewing available data to understand this event.”

HTV-2 is an unmanned maneuverable hypersonic air vehicle designed to glide through Earth’s atmosphere “at incredibly fast speeds — Mach 20 and above,” DARPA said. Something traveling at Mach 1 is moving at the speed of sound.

This is not to be confused with the latest Mach 5 missile project that the Obama Administration has just confirmed:

HAUNTED by the memory of a lost opportunity to kill Osama Bin Laden before he attacked the World Trade Center in New York, US military planners have won President Barack Obama’s support for a new generation of high-speed weapons that are intended to strike anywhere on Earth within an hour.

Obama’s interest in Prompt Global Strike (PGS), a nonnuclear weapons programme, has alarmed China and Russia and complicated nuclear arms reduction negotiations.

White House officials confirmed last week that the president, who won the Nobel peace prize last year, is considering the deployment of a new class of hypersonic guided missiles that can reach their targets at speeds of Mach 5 — about 3,600mph. (Times UK)

Shooting around some of my favorite blogsites, nobody is all that interested in the slightly nuanced claim that the dinosaurs died because of a massive temperature drop brought on by climate change as opposed to climate change brought on by a comet.

British researchers claim that a sudden plummeting in the sea temperature of 16F (9C) more than 137 million years ago was the first step towards their eventual road to extinction.

While studying fossils and minerals from the Arctic Svalbard, Norway, they concluded the sudden change in the Atlantic Gulf Stream during the Cretaceous period would almost certainly have wiped out the ''abundance'' of the world's dinosaurs.

Some experts believe the creatures were wiped out by one cataclysmic event 65 million years ago – such as a meteor hitting the planet.

But the new research suggests they were wiped out by a series of environmental changes, starting with a drop in sea temperatures.

Gregory Price, from Plymouth University, who led the study, said his team's research showed the drop in temperature happened when the Earth was in a ''greenhouse'' climate, which was very similar to now.

He found the drop in temperatures was so severe that numerous species of dinosaur previously living in warm, shallow seas, land and swamps would have died out.

''We believe dinosaurs were most likely to be cold-blooded creatures and would have needed the warmth to keep them alive,” he said.

The big buzz item on the net might have been the new gay character coming to Archie Comics.

The comic, which dates to the 1940s and for decades has revolved around a love triangle between Archie Andrews and Riverdale High classmates Betty and Veronica, is debuting its first openly gay character. The new student, Kevin Keller, is scheduled to appear in issue #202, out in September, and will add diversity to a Riverdale community that has been criticized as being too homogeneous. (Wall Street Journal/blogs)

Kevin Keller? I thought the smart money was on Reggie. By the way, with Riverdale High becoming inclusive enough for a gay character to come out, what’s taking you so long Velma of Scooby-Doo?

Anyway, maybe that story is too new because the one story that I see getting talked about the most in the blogs is the mystery of how a California Sea Lion got on the roof of Newport Beach condo.

http://latimesblogs.latimes.com/unleashed/2010/04/sea-lion-pup-found-on-newport-beach-rooftop.html

Is it impossible to think that this pup just went up the stairs to the roof of this condo just like the owners did? I’m not sure why that seems so impossible. That having been said, it sure would be a weird way to wake up in the morning.

Oh, and just for the record, I don’t think Velma is the only lesbian cartoon character, with her jealous looks at Fred every time he would go off with Daphne, I just think she is the most obvious.

I’m still on the fence on Peppermint Patty and her devoted assistant, Marcie but I’m guessing at least one of the Powerpuff Girls and definitely Smurfette.

Don't Talk to Aliens

Stephen Hawking has warned against trying to make contact with extraterrestrials in a new documentary series. The world-renowned physicist, who is almost certain alien species exist throughout the universe, believes a few of them could be both intelligent and dangerous. According to Hawking, such ETs might raid Earth for resources and move on. More from Times Online.

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