Oil pressure

A barrel of Texas Intermediate crude fell as low as $67.82 in early trading and was at $67.98 Friday afternoon Eastern Time -- a whopping 7.8% drop.

The lower price for oil helps Americans, obviously -- gasoline gets cheaper, and those of us in the northeast and elsewhere who use oil to heat our houses can save a bit. But the lower the price goes, the more pressure there is on Iran's economy, which is already battered by sanctions. It's no coincidence that OPEC - whose Muslim members are mostly Sunni and feel threatened by Iran's Shia government - is doing everything it can to keep the prices low. (That's only one reason oil prices have plummeted, but it is an important one.)

Will it be enough to force a nuclear deal?

Probably not. For the Iranians, arming themselves with nukes has a logic beyond the economy. If the West wants to keep Iran from building a weapon, ultimately it will have to damage the weapons development infrastructure. The problem is that even the best attack will only delay development, not stop it.

What Thanksgiving is like . . .

. . . for us:
Italian-Americans are a gluttonous tribe, and when we look at the calendar, we don’t see big moments and small ones, peaks and valleys. We see occasions to eat a lot and occasions to eat even more than that.

Except that he forgot the gelato making session, the cigars, and the walk around the block just before the cold cuts.

Break It Down

These guys are so good they make me sound intelligent:


We talked about American Sniper, Code Name Johnny Walker, and why there won't be great rock bands in ten years.

Check out their show here.
Thanks, Audible . . .

(From this week's NYT book section.)

Whether you listen to it or read it, it's still a great book.
Adventures in BS

Russia tries to pretend the Ukaranians shot down MH17:

The amazing thing is that some news media will report it straight. Pulll - eeze.

On the other hand, they are getting better at Photoshop.

Chris Kyle Frog Foundation announced

Taya says it best:

Hello friends,
 I can’t think of a better day than Veterans Day to be able to make this announcement!
 In the past year and 9 months since Chris was taken from us, I have worked with a single goal in mind: to keep his legacy of service to God, family and country alive, I am passionate about serving the families who serve our country so heroically. Today, I am humbled, honored, and thrilled to announce the launch of The Chris Kyle Frog Foundation, a nonprofit dedicated to serving military and first responder families. Our goal is to provide experiences helping families reconnect after deployments, military involvement, and time spent serving those in crisis here at home. We will help couples create the new common ground they need to build a future together after the trauma of time apart. Our vision is to create a country of connected and thriving service members and first responder families.
 My vision for CKF foundation grew out of the common experiences all military and first responder families go through. Chris and I loved each other with all our hearts, and his deployments put a terrible strain on our marriage. Each time he came home, we each had to adjust to knowing another layer of our spouse. We had to adjust to the roles the other had taken on in our time apart and figure out how to manage them back into a working family structure until the next deployment. It was hard. 
When Chris was home from deployments, he often had to go on training trips. On one rare occasion he had a couple of days off from work during a training trip. My mom offered to buy me a plane ticket to go spend two days with him while she watched our kids. It was something we couldn’t afford at the time, and it was such a blessing. Escaping the stresses of everyday life — even for just a few days — let us reconnect and feel everything we loved about each other. It was stronger than anything that could ever tear us apart. It gave us new energy in our relationship, and strength to handle the challenges ahead. 
Chris and I both believed in paying it forward, and we wanted to give this same opportunity to the other families in our community — first responder and military families. They serve bravely, but are struggling on the home front.
We know there is a real need that isn’t being met. Right now, these American families are paying a huge price. Nearly three in four married veterans are likely to have had family problems after a deployment, and half say deployments have had a negative effect on their marriage. Divorce rates of over 80% in both groups effect not just the couple but the children too. These families don’t need handouts; they need hand-ups — just an opportunity to find their feet, to reconnect with those roots of committed love and support that gave them the strength to serve so proudly in the first place. We want to treat them to experiences that will make finding the way home a little bit easier and help to build the resilience needed to continue in service to this country.  
In the coming weeks, we’ll be launching our website and sharing more details about opportunities to support the Chris Kyle Frog Foundation. We’ve filed for 501c3 status, and will be announcing a series of events around the country to spread the word about our mission. With your help, the Chris Kyle Frog Foundation will be a one-of-akind force for good, celebrating core values of loyalty, empowerment, integrity and excellence, and honoring God and family for our country. We know we can make a real difference in the lives of so many families. 
Chris and I together, believed in this so strongly.  There aren’t words enough to say what it means to me to have the opportunity to bring our vision to life. His spirit, our marriage, and the challenges and triumphs of our friends are all guiding us.  
We’ve been blessed by the support of so many.  Thank you, to everyone who has generously blessed our family in your own unique way. Every one of you played a part in this foundation. You all allowed us the time and resources to make this day a reality. I can’t thank you enough and I cannot wait to see what the future holds! 
God Bless,
- Taya 
Russia brings back the Cold War

The European Leadership Network recently reviewed incidents involving Russian military units engaging in aggressive and generally reckless behavior over the past year. The picture is basically that of a bumbling schoolyard idiot cum bully who keeps bumping into people until finally someone beats the sense into him.

From the report:
Since the Russian annexation of Crimea, the intensity and gravity of incidents involving Russian and Western militaries and security agencies has visibly increased . . . almost 40 specific incidents . . . have occurred over the last eight months.

The Russians appear to be going all out to make themselves feel good. But look at some of the incidents closely - a Russian spy plane nearly collides with a passenger jet, a Russian submarine comes close to sinking . . . They're trying to project prowess, but what they're displaying is near criminal ineptness.

The frum and drum will undoubtedly have one beneficial effect: They're making it a lot harder to cut the U.S. military budget.

Star Trek, the next next generation . . .

Tell me the APEC photo isn't a still from the next Star Trek series . . . Putin as Soran?

Telling it like is

Robert Hannigan of GCHQ in FT:

Terrorists have always found ways of hiding their operations. But today mobile technology and smartphones have increased the options available exponentially. Techniques for encrypting messages or making them anonymous which were once the preserve of the most sophisticated criminals or nation states now come as standard. These are supplemented by freely available programs and apps adding extra layers of security, many of them proudly advertising that they are “Snowden approved”. There is no doubt that young foreign fighters have learnt and benefited from the leaks of the past two years.

Standing tall

One World Trade Center opened Monday with the beginning of Condé Nast’s relocation into the tower.

One World Trade Center is open for business. Item:

Take that, Osama Bin Laden!
More than 13 years after the 9/11 terrorist attacks, a resurrected World Trade Center — bigger and better than ever — reopened for business Monday.
“The New York City skyline is whole again,” Patrick Foye, executive director of the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey, declared.

Sharp-eyed readers needed

Hog Born, a novella featuring Michael Knowlington, is now available on Kindle here.

It's been proofed - several times! - but I've always found a way to baffle even the sharpest copy editor. So we're asking for some help:

If you find mistakes or typos, please send a note to author(at)jimdefelice.com - we'll send you a hard copy of Code Name: Johnny Walker (or another book, if you've read that one).


(Unfortunately, due to our arrangements with Amazon, you do have to pay $1.99 for the novella, but the book we'll send you free is worth more than that.)