If everyone is thinking alike, then somebody isn’t thinking. George S. Patton

If everyone is thinking alike, then somebody isn’t thinking. George S. Patton

“Do more than is required of you.” – General Patton

George Smith Patton Jr. (November 11, 1885 – December 21, 1945) was a general of the United States Army who commanded the U.S. Seventh Army in the Mediterranean theater of World War II, and the U.S. Third Army in France and Germany after the Allied invasion of Normandy in June 1944.

Born in 1885 to a family whose members had served in the United States and Confederate States armies, Patton attended the Virginia Military Institute and the U.S. Military Academy at West Point. He studied fencing and designed the M1913 Cavalry Saber, more commonly known as the “Patton Saber”, and competed in modern pentathlon in the 1912 Summer Olympics in Stockholm, Sweden.

Patton first saw combat during 1916’s Pancho Villa Expedition, America’s first military action using motor vehicles. He saw action in World War I as part of the new United States Tank Corps of the American Expeditionary Forces: he commanded the U.S. tank school in France, then led tanks into combat and was wounded near the end of the war. In the interwar period, Patton became a central figure in the development of the Army’s armored warfare doctrine, serving in numerous staff positions throughout the country. At the American entry into World War II, he commanded the 2nd Armored Division.

Patton led U.S. troops into the Mediterranean theater with an invasion of Casablanca during Operation Torch in 1942 and soon established himself as an effective commander by rapidly rehabilitating the demoralized U.S. II Corps. He commanded the U.S. Seventh Army during the Allied invasion of Sicily, where he was the first Allied commander to reach Messina. There he was embroiled in controversy after he slapped two shell-shocked soldiers, and was temporarily removed from battlefield command. He then was assigned a key role in Operation Fortitude, the Allies’ disinformation campaign for Operation Overlord. At the start of the Western Allied invasion of France, Patton was given command of the Third Army, which conducted a highly successful rapid armored drive across France. Under his decisive leadership, the Third Army took the lead in relieving beleaguered American troops at Bastogne during the Battle of the Bulge, after which his forces drove deep into Nazi Germany by the end of the war.

During the Allied occupation of Germany, Patton was named military governor of Bavaria but was relieved for making aggressive statements towards the Soviet Union and trivializing denazification. He commanded the United States Fifteenth Army for slightly more than two months. Severely injured in an auto accident, he died in Germany twelve days later, on December 21, 1945.

Patton’s colorful image, hard-driving personality, and success as a commander were at times overshadowed by his controversial public statements. His philosophy of leading from the front, and his ability to inspire troops with attention-getting, vulgarity-ridden speeches, such as his famous address to the Third Army, was met favorably by his troops, but much less so by a sharply divided Allied high command. His emphasis on rapid and aggressive offensive action proved effective, and he was regarded highly by his opponents in the German High Command. An award-winning biographical film released in 1970, Patton, helped solidify his image as an American folk hero.

Patton’s colorful personality, hard-driving leadership style, and success as a commander, combined with his frequent political missteps, produced a mixed and often contradictory image. Patton’s great oratory skill is seen as integral to his ability to inspire troops under his command. Historian Terry Brighton concluded that Patton was “arrogant, publicity-seeking and personally flawed, but … among the greatest generals of the war”. Patton’s impact on armored warfare and leadership were substantial, with the U.S. Army’s adopting many of Patton’s aggressive strategies for its training programs following his death. Many military officers claim inspiration from his legacy. The first American tank designed after the war became the M46 Patton.

Several actors have portrayed Patton on screen, the most famous being George C. Scott in the 1970 film Patton. Scott’s iconic depiction of Patton earned him an Academy Award for Best Actor, and it was instrumental in bringing Patton into popular culture as a folk hero. He would reprise the role in 1986 in the made-for-television film The Last Days of Patton. Other actors who have portrayed Patton include Stephen McNally in the 1957 episode “The Patton Prayer” of the ABC religion anthology series, Crossroads, John Larch in the 1963 film Miracle of the White Stallions, Kirk Douglas in the 1966 film Is Paris Burning?, George Kennedy in the 1978 film Brass Target, Darren McGavin in the 1979 miniseries Ike, Robert Prentiss in the 1988 film Pancho Barnes, Mitchell Ryan in the 1989 film Double Exposure: The Story of Margaret Bourke-White, Lawrence Dobkin in a 1989 episode of the miniseries War and Remembrance, Edward Asner in the 1997 film The Long Way Home, Gerald McRaney in the 2004 miniseries Ike: Countdown to D-Day, Dan Higgins in a 2006 episode of the miniseries Man, Moment, Machine, and Kelsey Grammer in the 2008 film An American Carol.

Mike the cat

Mike the cat

If you like cats, you will adore Mike. Why do we find this creature so irresistible? Perhaps like us, you’ve owned a cat — or more likely, been owned by one. You know the joy that cats can bring, even when they’re being obnoxious. What is it about cats that capture our hearts and enslaves us through their charm?

UN must not cut vital aid lifeline to north-west Syria amid Russian and Syrian war crimes

UN must not cut vital aid lifeline to north-west Syria amid Russian and Syrian war crimes

The UN Security Council must not cut a vital aid lifeline for civilians in the context of war crimes and crimes against humanity in north-west Syria, Amnesty International urged today, as a resolution allowing humanitarian assistance to reach Idlib across Syria’s borders is set to expire in the coming weeks.

A new Amnesty International report, Nowhere is safe for us’: Unlawful attacks and mass displacement in north-west Syria, details 18 cases – the majority in January and February 2020 – where Syrian and/or Russian government forces targeted medical facilities and schools in Idlib, western Aleppo and north-western Hama governorates.

As a result, before the March 5 ceasefire almost 1 million people in Idlib – many of whom had been displaced repeatedly – were forced to flee again and languished in dire conditions in recent months.

“Even by the standards of Syria’s calamitous nine-year crisis, the displacement and humanitarian emergency sparked by the latest onslaught on Idlib has been unprecedented. The UN Security Council must not cut the vital lifeline of cross-border humanitarian aid while thousands of lives hang in the balance,” said Heba Morayef, Amnesty International’s Middle East and North Africa Director.

“The latest offensive continued an abhorrent pattern of widespread and systematic attacks aimed at terrorizing the civilian population. Meanwhile, Russia has continued to provide invaluable military support – including by directly carrying out unlawful air strikes – despite evidence that it is facilitating the Syrian military’s commission of war crimes and crimes against humanity.”

Extensive evidence corroborates witness accounts

Amnesty International interviewed 74 people for the report, including internally displaced people, teachers, doctors and humanitarian workers. Witness accounts were corroborated by videos and photographs as well as expert analysis of satellite imagery, reports by flight spotters on the ground and intercepted Russian and Syrian air force flight communications.

These audio recordings of transmissions from the cockpits of warplanes provide strong evidence of the Russian military’s involvement in at least one unlawful attack that put a hospital out of service.

Attacks on hospitals

According to the Idlib Health Directorate, Syrian or Russian attacks damaged or destroyed 10 medical facilities in Idlib and Aleppo between December 2019 and February 2020, killing nine medical and other staff. Dozens of other medical facilities had to close altogether.

Amnesty International documented attacks resulting in the closure of five hospitals in areas under armed opposition group control.

A doctor who survived one of these attacks – three Russian air strikes that hit the vicinity of al-Shami hospital in Ariha on 29 January 2020 – told Amnesty International that the strikes flattened at least two residential buildings around the hospital, killing 11 civilians including one of his colleagues, and injuring more than 30 others.

“I felt so helpless. My friend and colleague dying, children and women screaming outside,” he said, adding that “it took the civil defence two days to remove the bodies” from the rubble.

Based on corroborating witness statements and other credible information, particularly observations by flight spotters, Amnesty International concluded this unlawful attack was carried out by Russian forces.

Attacks on schools

According to the Hurras Network (Syrian Child Protection Network), a Syrian NGO, 28 schools were hit by air and ground attacks in January and February 2020. Ten schools were targeted on a single day alone – February 25 – killing nine civilians.

Amnesty International investigated attacks on six schools in this period, which included the Syrian forces’ use of air-dropped barrel bombs and ground-fired cluster munitions against two schools on January 28 and February 25, respectively.

A teacher told Amnesty International:

“A [cluster munition] bomblet exploded close to my feet, blowing the flesh off… The pain was unbearable. I felt heat as if my feet were burning. Two students were walking in front of me. One died instantly and the other one, miraculously, survived. I am sure it was a cluster munition because I heard several explosions. I know the sound of a cluster munition attack very well. You hear a series of small explosions. As if the sky were raining shrapnel instead of water.”

Amnesty International identified the remnant as a surface-fired, 220mm 9M27K cargo rocket, manufactured in Russia and transferred to the Syrian army. It contains 9N210 or 9N235 cluster munitions, which are prohibited under international law.

Civilians targeted deliberately

The incidents documented in the report exemplify how Syrian and Russian forces continue to deliberately target civilians and civilian objects. These are serious violations of international humanitarian law, which requires warring parties to distinguish between military targets and fighters, and civilian objects and civilians, and to direct their attacks only at the former. They are also war crimes and those who order or commit such acts are criminally liable. In addition to the immunity from attack deriving from their status as civilian objects or civilians, hospitals and other medical facilities, health workers and children are also subject to special protections during armed conflict.

Additionally, many of the medical facilities targeted were on a “deconfliction” list the UN previously shared with Russian, Turkish and US-led Coalition forces in Syria to highlight which sites must not be attacked.

Staggering displacement and dire conditions

The latest onslaught on Idlib forced close to a million people – more than 80% of them women and children – to flee towards areas close to the Turkish border between December 2019 and March 2020.

A woman who has three children and whose family was displaced twice in the past eight months told Amnesty International: “My daughter, who’s in first grade, is always afraid… She asked me [after we were displaced]: ‘Why doesn’t God kill us?… Nowhere is safe for us.’”

Cornered in an ever-shrinking space, these civilians continue to suffer intolerable living conditions amid a massively overstretched humanitarian response. Timely and sustained aid is needed more than ever.

Vital aid lifeline under threat

In July 2014, the UN Security Council unanimously passed a resolution authorizing cross-border aid into north-west Syria and other parts of the country held by armed opposition groups, without requiring the consent of the Syrian government. The resolution has been repeatedly extended since then – although with extreme difficulty in recent years and a reduction of scope in January 2020. It is due to expire on 10 July.

Syria and its allies are seeking to end this arrangement and channel aid through Damascus instead, which would make it very difficult for the UN and its humanitarian partners to deliver timely and sustained aid. The government has regularly sought to restrict aid operations through bureaucratic requirements. It has also “blacklisted” and persecuted aid workers associated with opposition-held areas. Armed groups like Hay’at Tahrir al-Sham have also hampered humanitarian organizations from doing their jobs effectively.

“UN officials have already called Idlib a humanitarian ‘horror story’ – this will only worsen unless the Security Council sees beyond political ploys and sustains the precious lifeline of cross-border humanitarian aid,” said Heba Morayef.

Inslee issues guidance for partially resuming the dine-in restaurant and tavern industry in Phase 2

Inslee issues guidance for partially resuming the dine-in restaurant and tavern industry in Phase 2

May 11, 2020

Gov. Jay Inslee issued guidance today for partially resuming the dine-in restaurant and tavern industry for counties granted variance under the Safe Start Phase 2 recovery plan laid out last week.

Through the Washington “Safe Start” plan, more businesses and activities will re-open in subsequent phases with adequate safety and health standards in place. Each phase will be at least three weeks — metrics and data will guide when the state can move from one phase to another. 

Through the Safe Start approach, counties with a population of less than 75,000 that have not had a new case of COVID-19 in the past three weeks can apply for a variance to move to Phase 2 of “Safe Start” before other parts of the state. County variance applications will be approved or denied by the secretary of the Department of Health. Eight counties have received the variance. 

For counties granted variance to move to Phase 2, restaurant operations may resume with limitations after meeting specific criteria, effective May 11, 2020.

“No restaurant or tavern may operate indoor or sit-down services until they can meet and maintain all requirements, including providing materials, schedules and equipment required to comply,” the guidance states. 

Guidance documents: 

Full list of guidance for all current businesses.