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Stokes's Bristol Nightclub incident in detail (From: The Comeback Summer by Geoff Lemon)

IF YOU’RE LOOKING for a place where misadventure could begin, you can’t go past Mbargo. The nightclub’s streetfront is painted a purple so bright you’ll see it in your dreams. Strings of giant sequins shimmer in the breeze. Its phonically inventive name is spelt in silver letters that climb its three-storey terrace facade. Inside are strips of burning neon, a few booths, floorboards so marinated in drink that they have an ingredients list. Bristol is a student city on England’s south coast crowded with music and nightlife and street art. This is Banksy’s home town, and the tourism board suggests in rather strong terms that ‘you would be a fool not to see his amazing work firsthand’. The same organisation describes Mbargo as ‘intimate’, which is fair for a place where you can catch an STI standing up. Students cram into its modest dimensions while people with names like DJ Klaud battle for billing with £1.50 drink deals over seven sloppy nights a week. To get a sense of the story about to come, consider that it’s the kind of place open until two o’clock on a Monday morning, and that at two o’clock on a Monday morning, Ben Stokes still thought it had closed too early.
The Ashes of 2017–18 had disciplinary bookends. It was after that series that Australia’s two leaders went off the rails in South Africa. It was a few weeks before that Ashes tour that England’s biggest star windmilled his way into his own disaster.
In the early hours of 25 September 2017, Stokes and teammate Alex Hales were barred from re-entering Mbargo after a night out on the piss. A Sunday thrashing of an abject West Indies in an ignored series at the fag-end of the season apparently required ample celebration. After arguing with the bouncer and hanging about at the door for a while, they wandered off to find a casino in the hope of more drinking. They’d barely made it around the corner before getting in the middle of a conflict between four locals. As is said on the internet, it escalated quickly.
The 26 September reporting was bloodless. Withholding names, police stated that a man ‘was arrested on suspicion of causing actual bodily harm’ while another went to hospital with facial injuries. England’s director of cricket Andrew Strauss separately confirmed that Stokes was the arrestee, adding that he had been released without charge and that Hales had gamely offered to ‘help police with their enquiries’. Administrators had a good chance of hiding behind that investigation, and the next day Stokes was named in the upcoming Ashes squad as expected. But that night the video emerged.
Bristol student Max Wilson had shot it on his phone, then offered it to The Sun. What he thought was playing hardball was actually lowball: his opening price of £3000 was snapped up by a tabloid that would have paid ten times that. The Sun went on to make a mint by syndicating the rights worldwide. From a window above the fray, the vision showed six men on the street below performing the muddled choreography of a melee. One was right at the centre of it. One was waving a bottle, one dipped in and out, one tried to calm it. Two others floated around the edges. The central figure was unmistakable: red hair burning even in the streetlight as he launched into a series of blows against two of the men, falling to grapple with them on the ground, then following both across the street, swinging punches the whole way. Hales trailed behind, repeatedly and impotently shouting ‘Stokes! Stop! Stokes! Enough!’ The ECB could fudge issues that existed only in thickets of legalese, but not those captured in moving colour. Stokes was stood down from the next West Indies match, then suspended indefinitely. It emerged that he had broken his hand during the fight, something he’d done twice before while punching objects in dressing rooms.
The response in Australia was fierce: Stokes was a thug, a lowlife, a selection that would disgrace England. It was not entirely coincidental that a ban for England’s best player would be handy for the Aussie team, but there was also a cultural split. In England, plenty of people still minimise pub fights as lads letting off steam. In Australia, heavy media coverage as a succession of young men were killed had inverted that tolerance. The discourse now saw any punch as potentially deadly and accordingly reckless. This was more poignant in a cricket context given that David Hookes, the dashing Test batsman and state coach, was killed in 2004 by a pub bouncer’s fist.
The PR situation was bad for Stokes as details emerged of the injuries to the men he’d hit, and that one was a young war veteran and father. Stokes wasn’t officially removed from the Ashes squad through October but stayed behind when his teammates left, hoping for police to dismiss the matter in time for a late dash to Australia. His annual contract was renewed on the due date in case that came to pass. Then 29 October brought a twist in the tale.
‘Ben Stokes praised by gay couple after defending them from homophobic thugs,’ ran the headline. Kai Barry and Billy O’Connell had emerged. Not entirely out of nowhere: while Stokes had made no public comment, this story in his defence had initially been leaked to TV host Piers Morgan after the fight, as soon as the video appeared. Police body-camera footage played in court would later show that Stokes had given the same story to the arresting officer on the night. But no-one knew the identities of the fifth and sixth men in the video, and police appeals had turned up nothing.
It was The Sun again with the breakthrough. Kai and Billy were perfect for a readership not keen on nuance. ‘We couldn’t believe it when we found out they were famous cricketers. I just thought Ben and Alex were quite hot, fit guys,’ said Kai, who was memorably described as a ‘former House of Fraser sales assistant’. The paper had the pair do a full photo shoot: layering the fake tan, showing off chest waxes, mixing Ralph Lauren and Louis Vuitton into a range of outfits. Their best shot had them standing back to back, heads turned to the camera, in a mirror-image Zoolander moment.
Suddenly The Sun was the England team’s best friend. ‘Their claims could lead to the all-rounder being cleared over the punch-up and freed to play in the First Test in Australia next month,’ it gushed, then gave a tasting platter of quotes: ‘We were so grateful to Ben for stepping in to help. He was a real hero.’ ‘If Ben hadn’t intervened it could have been a lot worse for us.’ ‘We could’ve been in real trouble. Ben was a real gentleman.’ Would it be known forever as Kai and Billy’s Ashes? No. While the Bristol boys provided spin for Stokes’ reputation they didn’t influence the police. With charges still pending there was little choice – not given Strauss had previously sacked Kevin Pietersen for being annoying. Stokes remained suspended through the Ashes and a one-day series in Australia, and lost the vice-captaincy. It was January 2018 before the Crown Prosecution Service laid a charge.
That charge surprisingly came in as affray, a crime that can carry prison time but is classified as ‘a breach of the peace as a result of disorderly conduct’. The men he had punched, Ryan Ali and Ryan Hale, faced the same count, charged as equal participants in a fight rather than Stokes being charged with assaulting them. Alex Hales was not charged, despite being seen in the video to aim several kicks when Ryan Ali was lying on the ground. Given the underwhelming standing of the offence, Stokes was cleared by the ECB to tour New Zealand, and kept playing until his trial in August 2018, which he missed a Test to attend. None of the three defendants would be convicted.
The reasoning behind the charges was never released and was attributed vaguely to ‘CPS lawyers’. The service gave the case to Alison Morgan, a prosecutor of a class known as Treasury Counsel who usually handle serious criminal matters. Morgan had a scheduling clash and never ended up court for the case, but in 2018 and 2019 she would go on to win damages and admissions of libel from The Daily Mail, The Times and The Daily Telegraph variously for incorrectly reporting that she had been responsible for the inadequate and inconsistent charging decisions.
Morgan’s successor on the case was Nicholas Corsellis QC, who on the first day of trial was permitted by the CPS to request two assault charges be added against Stokes. ‘Upon further review,’ claimed a CPS statement, ‘we considered that additional assault charges would also be appropriate.’ This was patent nonsense from the service that eight months earlier had chosen the lesser charge. Any lawyer knows that no judge will allow new charges once a trial has begun, because the defence hasn’t had time to prepare. But such a request could deflect criticism of the prosecution service by technically making the judge the one who disallows the charge.
Working through the story from the trial and the tape is complicated. You had a Ryan and a Ryan, a Hale and a Hales, a Billy and a Barry and a Ben. You had several versions of events as to who knew whom, who was drinking with whom, who had insulted whom and who had merely engaged in ‘banter’, a word that in modern Britain has to do an unconscionable amount of lifting. The reporting had constantly mixed up the Ryans as to who had which injury, who was in hospital, who had played which part in the fight, and whose mum had which stern words to say about it.
Let’s agree that from now Ryan Ali is Ryan One, the firefighter who ended up with a fractured eye socket and a cracked tooth. Ryan Two can be Ryan Hale, the soldier who scored concussion and facial lacerations. Mr Barry and Mr O’Connell are best known per The Sun as Kai and Billy. In scorecard parlance we’ll leave the cricketers as Stokes and Hales.
Amid the confusion, Stokes and his lawyers built his case in a straightforward way. The UK legal definition of affray is ‘if a person threatens or uses unlawful violence or force towards another person, which causes another person of reasonable firmness present at the scene to fear for their safety’. That means it doesn’t account for violence that harms a target, but violence that might frighten a theoretical bystander. The wiggle room for Stokes was with ‘unlawful’, because the charge excuses violence in defending oneself or others.
This interpretation hinged on the beginning of the video, where Ryan One waves a beer bottle about and takes a swing at Kai. The version from Stokes was that he was minding his own business walking down the street when he heard homophobic abuse. He intervened verbally and was threatened verbally by Ryan One – something that Ryan One denied but that couldn’t be proved or disproved. In fear for his safety Stokes had to nullify that threat by bashing Ryan One before it went the other way. He registered Ryan Two in his peripheral vision as another possible threat, and again had only one recourse.
Stokes also had to convince the jury to disregard testimony from Mbargo’s bouncer that he had been looking for a fight. A solid lump of a man, Andrew Cunningham had not enjoyed his patron’s attempts to get back into the club after the bouncer declined an offer of a bribe. ‘He got a bit verbally abusive towards myself. He mentioned my gold teeth and he said I looked like a cunt and I replied, “Thank you very much.” He just looked at me and told me my tattoos were shit and to look at my job.’ Cunningham described these words as coming in ‘a spiteful tone, quite an angry tone’, and said that Stokes still seemed angry as he walked away.
These were details the doorman had nothing to gain by inventing, but each of them Stokes denied. By his own accounting he had drunk a beer at the game and three pints at his hotel, then ‘potentially had some Jägerbombs’ along with half a dozen vodkas at the club. He insisted that after all of this he was not drunk.
If I may take a moment here to call upon the wisdom of experience – a person who cannot definitively say whether they have had any Jägerbombs has definitely had some Jägerbombs. A Jägerbomb is an experience that does not pass one by. Further to that, a person who says they have ‘potentially’ done something has definitely done that thing and doesn’t want to admit it. A person who has had between 15 and 24 standard drinks in one evening is shitfaced. A person who tries to bribe a bouncer £300 – three hundred quid! – to get into Mbargo – Mbargo! – is beyond shitfaced.
If Stokes admitted that he was drunk then the prosecution could say he was out of control. He claimed clear recall of assessing a threat, feeling fear and deciding to protect himself with force. He confidently denied details from the bouncer’s testimony, like using the word ‘cunt’ or mentioning gold teeth. Yet on other details he claimed a ‘significant memory blackout’. He didn’t remember the punch that saw Ryan One taken away by ambulance. He didn’t remember what the Ryans had said to Kai and Billy, only that those words were homophobic. With no head injury, as one of the few people who hadn’t been hit, he had supposedly suffered this memory loss despite being sober.
The version from Kai and Billy was compatible but vague: they had been walking along, they ‘heard … shouts’ of abuse from an unspecified source, then Stokes ‘stepped in’ and thus they avoided possible harm. They claimed to have been bought a drink by Stokes at Mbargo, although CCTV showed them meeting outside. The overall implication from both accounts was that the cricketers had been pals with Kai and Billy, while the Ryans as per The Sun’s headline were a roving band of thugs.
The reality though is that the Ryans were the ones hanging out with Kai and Billy at Mbargo. Police discussed CCTV from inside the club in questioning and at trial. On that footage the four Bristolians bought drinks for one another, danced together, and Kai was noted to have variously touched Ryan Two’s crotch and Ryan One’s buttock. Ryan One told police that all of this was taken lightheartedly and wasn’t a problem. Indeed, when the Ryans called it a night the other two left with them.
This much is clear from footage out the front of Mbargo, which shows Kai and Billy exit the club and start talking with a subdued Hales and a demonstrative Stokes, who are stuck outside. The vision was played in court to determine whether Stokes was antagonistic towards Kai and Billy, as he appears to impersonate them and to throw a lit cigarette their way. More interesting is that after a few minutes the Ryans emerge, and all six actors in the fight video briefly form a prequel in the one frame.
Ryan Two pats Billy on the chest in friendly fashion with his right hand before clapping him on the back with his left. He moves past and does the same to Kai before leaving the shot. Ryan One stops to speak to Kai. They lean in for a moment, talking, then Kai turns and they walk out of frame together. Billy hangs around for a few seconds at the door and then looks after them and races to catch up. Stokes and Hales remain outside the club to remonstrate further with the bouncers. Whatever discord develops around the corner is between four men who left amicably together minutes earlier.
There’s no way to know what caused that friction. If Ryan One did use homophobic slurs, he might have been drunkenly obnoxious for no reason. He might have had an insecure macho response to some extra flirtation. He might have thought unkindness was funny – ‘banter’ once again. Or he might have said something that was misunderstood, as both Ryans insisted in court that they had not used nor had the impulse to use any abusive language.
What clearly didn’t happen was an attack by bigots on random passers-by. This kind of crime is regular enough that an audience understands the horror of it, and this is what was evoked by the public accounts of Stokes, Billy and Kai. All we know is that there was some verbal dispute among the Bristol locals, and that Stokes came along behind them and put himself in the middle of it. Ryan One responded to the interference aggressively and away they went. There are plenty of reasons to look sideways at the idea that Stokes was a saviour. Foremost, neither Kai nor Billy was called upon as witnesses in court. You’d think it would be ideal to have Stokes’ story backed up by those who benefited from his selflessness. But his defence team had developed the impression that the pair had shown a changeable recall of events amid a hard-partying lifestyle, and would be dismantled by the prosecution on the stand.
That raises the question of whether The Sun coached their quotes for the 2017 interview. Despite missing court, Kai and Billy clearly enjoyed the attention. In 2018 after the trial they did a follow-up spread in the same paper about how poor Ben had been mistreated. They got a television spot on Good Morning Britain and glowed about his heroism. In 2019 The Sun wheeled them out once more to say that Stokes should get a knighthood. In 2017 they had ‘never watched cricket’ but by 2019 were supposedly volunteering sentences like, ‘He saved us, now he’s saved the Ashes.’ Whether they were paid for these appearances is not known, but the chance to be famous for a day can be lure enough.
If you find this cynical, consider that on the night in question, the Bristol boys were so deeply moved and thankful for Ben’s intervention that they left him to be arrested and never attempted to find out who he was. Seconds after the video ended, an off-duty policeman reached the scene. You might think that someone grateful to a saviour would speak on his behalf. Instead, said Kai, ‘it all got a bit scary so we walked off. It was too much for me and we went to Quigley’s takeaway for chicken burgers and cheesy chips.’ They didn’t give their hero a thought for over a month while police issued multiple appeals for witnesses.
As for Stokes, he told his arresting officer that ‘his friends’ had been attacked. After three minutes of chat outside a nightclub, these friends were so dear to him that he has never contacted them again: not after the newspaper piece, not after the verdict. He didn’t want to see how they were or thank them for their support. He didn’t mention them by name in his solicitor’s statement after the trial.
The Stokes defence rested on Ryan One’s bottle, which he had carried out of Mbargo to finish a beer, not to use in a Sharks versus Jets amateur production. But once he turned it over to hold it by the neck it became a weapon. Intent and interpretation can change the material nature of things. Part of Stokes’ justification in court was that the bottle implied that the two Ryans might have ‘other weapons’ hidden away. You can understand how a jury could decide that created doubt.
Not being convicted, though, doesn’t give the contents of the video a big green tick. It does not, as his lawyer claimed, vindicate Stokes. Looking in detail, Ryan One is belligerent but his movements telegraph a bluff. Hales is the person he’s gesturing at, but they’re several metres apart when Ryan One cocks his arm ostentatiously, showing off the bottle rather than bracing to swing. He skips forward but Hales skips back and Ryan One doesn’t follow. Kai stretches out an arm to impede Ryan One, who has a drunken stumble, nearly eats pavement, then staggers towards Kai and hits him in the back. That hand is still holding the bottle, but his strike is a side-arm cuff on a soft part of the body. It’s all pretty tame.
This is where Stokes gets involved. Having moved across to protect Hales, he now takes three large steps to run around Kai and booms his first punch at Ryan One. They fall to the ground and the bottle clinks away. Stokes gets to his feet to punch down at the fallen man, while Hales arrives to kick him ineffectively then runs off across the street for some unknown reason. Ice-cream van? Stokes is soon back in the grapple having his shirt pulled up to show off his Durham tan. Ryan Two steps in for the first time to pull Stokes away, prompting a couple more random punches at this new target, then Stokes trips backwards over Ryan One and sprawls in the street. Hales chooses this moment to return and aim some solid kicks at the head of the man on the ground. Nothing so far is a triumph of moral philosophy or the pugilistic arts. But if it all stopped here, perhaps you could say it was somewhere approaching fair. Ryan One has behaved like a turnip and it’s not an entirely unjust world that would give him a whack across the chops. The antagonists have disentangled, Stokes has some distance, it’s time to dust off and go home. Ryan Two steps forward for this purpose with his palm raised in conciliatory style and says, ‘Settle down, stop.’
So Stokes punches him.
It’s roughly his fifth punch overall, and he really winds up into this one. He misses so hard that he stumbles away into the shadows of the shop awnings along the road.
Hales starts shouting for him to stop. Ryan Two backs into the street, still holding his palm up. Stokes closes on him from about five metres away, six large steps, to where Ryan Two is standing on his own. Stokes pushes him a couple of times, as Ryan Two keeps trying to placate him and saying ‘Stop.’ Stokes throws his sixth punch, largely missing as his target ducks.
Ryan Two keeps pulling away and reversing, into the middle of the street now. Stokes follows him, grabbing his sleeve to drag him back. By this point Ryan One has found his feet and walked around behind his friend. Both of them are in the same line of sight for Stokes, and both are backing away. Stokes aims his seventh and his eighth punches, which Ryan Two tries to deflect, as Hales walks up behind Stokes to grab him.
Stokes yanks away from his friend and switches to Ryan One instead, taking seven paces to grab him before throwing his ninth punch of the night. He grabs again; Ryan One blocks that arm and pushes himself back away from Stokes. Ryan Two again intercedes, putting himself between the two with his palms up and his arm extended.
Stokes throws his tenth punch, a right-hander at the face of Ryan Two, then shoves him backwards. Ryan Two backs away once more, four paces. Stokes follows, steadies, lines up, then launches his strongest punch yet, his eleventh, a proper right hook from a solid base, one that cracks across the man’s head and gives him concussion. Ryan Two ends up flat on his back in the middle of the street, his hands still outstretched for a moment in useless protest until they twitch and drop to the blacktop.
Stokes isn’t done. He once more shoves away the restraining Hales and follows Ryan One, who keeps backing away saying, ‘Alright, alright, alright.’ Five more paces from Stokes before another blow at the man’s head. Kai and Billy are now standing over the poleaxed Ryan Two. The video ends, but seconds later Stokes will punch Ryan One hard enough to knock him out too, before off-duty cop Andrew Spure arrives on the scene to bring down the curtain. When the body-camera footage kicks in some minutes later, Stokes is in handcuffs but Ryan One is still laid out in the street. Ryan Two has regained consciousness, folded his shirt under his friend’s head and is asking police for an ambulance.
‘At this point, I felt vulnerable and frightened. I was concerned for myself and others.’ This was how Stokes described that sequence to the court. An elite athlete with years of gym work and training to snap a bat through the line of a ball with astounding power and precision, swinging fists as hard as he can at men with none of those advantages. Punching so hard that he breaks his hand, and repeatedly shoving away a friend so he can punch some more. Frightened and threatened by two targets shouting ‘Get back!’ and ‘Stop!’
The off-duty officer testified that Stokes ‘seemed to be the main aggressor or was progressing forward trying to get to’ Ryan One, who was ‘trying to back away or get away from the situation’. The student who filmed the video can be heard on the tape at one stage exclaiming ‘Fuck!’ and testified that it was because ‘I felt a little bit sorry about the lad that had been punched and it looked like he had his hands up’. That tallied with the prosecutor’s depiction of ‘a sustained episode of significant violence that left onlookers shocked at what was taking place’.
The defendant stuck to his strategy. ‘No, my sole focus was to protect myself.’ All up, in the 33 seconds of footage after he falls over, Stokes takes 35 steps forward to keep hitting two men who keep trying to get away. Not once is he hit back.
After the verdict, Stokes’ solicitor positioned him as the victim. It had been ‘an eleven-month ordeal for Ben … The jury’s decision fairly reflects the truth of what happened that night … He was minding his own business … It was only when others came under threat that Ben became physically engaged. The steps that he took were solely aimed at ensuring the safety of himself and the others present …’ The statement was impossibly self-righteous and self-absorbed.
If there was anyone to feel sorry for it was Ryan Hale, the second of our two Ryans. He’s the one who emerged from the club with a friendly arm around the shoulder for Kai and Billy. He’s the one who interposed himself to end the fight, then kept putting himself back in the firing line, trying to calm an intimidating stranger while dodging blows. For his show of restraint he got laid out regardless, concussed in the street, then was issued a criminal charge equal to that of the man who hit him, and described in national media as a violent bigot in an untested story to support that man’s defence.
Lawyers for Ryan Two made a more convincing post-trial statement, noting that Kai and Billy, ‘neither of whom were relied upon by the prosecution or the defence team for Mr Stokes, have taken the opportunity to speak with various media outlets about the alleged homophobic abuse that they received in the early hours of September 25. Mr Hale has passionately denied this allegation throughout the course of this case,’ it continued.
‘It is upsetting to Mr Hale that although he was acquitted, the accusation that he was the author of such abuse remains. Both Mr Hale and Mr Ali were knocked unconscious by Mr Stokes, and although Mr Stokes has been acquitted of an affray, Mr Hale struggles with the reasons why the Crown Prosecution Service did not treat him as a victim of an unlawful assault.’Good question. Avon and Somerset police were the investigating force, and they were frustrated by the decision. Ryan Two was filmed clearly not hurting anyone, but police were instructed by the CPS to proceed with a charge. Hales (the cricketer) was filmed fighting but ‘a decision was made at a senior level of the CPS’ not to proceed. Police expected Stokes to be charged with assault but the CPS declined. It doesn’t take a wild cynic to think that placing the same lukewarm charge on three men for vastly divergent behaviour might ensure that none would be convicted, even as the trial would maintain the pretence that a defendant of influential standing had not been given a free pass.
A couple of years down the line, the original interview with Kai and Billy has disappeared. All traces have been scrubbed from The Sun website, its social media history, and even from the Wayback Machine internet archive. Given its headline of ‘homophobic thugs’ and text that names Ryan Two but not Ryan One, the libel liability isn’t hard to spot. Later interviews with Kai and Billy take the passive voice – they ‘suffered homophobic slurs outside a Bristol nightclub’.
The article that was once claimed to exonerate brave Ben Stokes now links only to a missing content page, with a picture of a dropped ice-cream cone and the phrase ‘legal removal’ inserted into the web URL. In terms of consequences, Stokes missed one tour. When he resumed his career in January 2018, the Australians hadn’t yet ruined theirs. Their year-long bans looked much more stringent. But the Stokes case dragged on in other ways. With no criminal liability, the Australians confessed promptly enough for the sporting world to give them the full length of the lash. Their situation was ugly but there was closure. Stokes got stuck in legal stasis, unable to be fully backed or condemned. Instead his issue was always present, a browser full of open tabs that the ECB swore they would read any day now.
Through 2018 Stokes was back but he wasn’t back, in the sunglasses and finger-guns sense. In his return one-day series he nearly cost England a match with 39 from 73 balls in Wellington. His first Test hit was a duck as England got rolled in Auckland for 58. At Trent Bridge while Stokes was injured, England posted a world record 481 against Australia. With Stokes three weeks later at the same ground they made 268. He crawled to 50 from 103, the second-slowest any Englishman had reached that milestone in 20 years. That span covered Alastair Cook’s whole career. It was apologetic batting, acting out responsibility via the scorecard. Stokes was creeping back into the team like he’d been kicked out in a blazing row and was hoping to tip-toe to the sofa.
It was December 2018 before the ECB disciplinary committee ruled on him and Hales. In a ‘remarkable coincidence’, wrote Simon Heffer in The Telegraph, ‘the punishment both players faced in terms of bans from playing at international level was covered by the amount of games they had already missed when dropped by England’s selectors, in the furore that followed the incident’. The verdict compounded the omissions around the case by not addressing the violence at its heart. Nor did Stokes, apologising only ‘to my team-mates, coaches and support staff’, and then ‘to England supporters and to the public for bringing the game into disrepute’.
The implicit next step was to rebuild that reputation. It might have been easier had his court defence not meant that he wasn’t game to admit any fault at all. It might have been easier if he or his advisers had been willing to change tack once the trial was done. Imagine a world where Stokes had stood outside court and apologised for overreacting, for the injuries he’d caused, and for the time and energy he had sucked out of other people’s lives. That would have been a show of responsibility beyond a scorecard. When the time came around to assess forgiveness, it might have meant forgiveness was deserved.
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Covid-19 Update for November 24: 1,115 new cases, 916 recoveries, 16 deaths + Announced Restrictions to Limit Covid-19 Spread

Data is taken from the Covid-19 portal and today's media availability by Premier Jason Kenney, Minister of Health Tyler Shandro, and Dr Deena Hinshaw. Minister of Eduation Adriana LaGrange, Deputy Minister of Eduation Andrew Courbold, and AHS CEO Verna Yiu were also present, but did not speak. Dr Hinshaw will be available every day this week.
There are currently enhanced measures in effect for multiple regions of Alberta. This link provides a quick summary of which ones are in effect for different regions of Alberta.
Top line numbers:
Value Current Change Total
Total cases +1,115 49,536
Active cases 13,349 +183
Cases with "Unknown source" 7,538 (88.0%) in last 7 days +168 (-1.6%)
Tests +13,617 (~8.19% positive) 2,141,346
People tested +5,871 1,426,119 (~330,350/million)
Hospitalizations 349 +20/+15 based on yesterday's post/portal data 1,652 (+31)
ICU 66 +4/+1 based on yesterday's post/portal data 298 (+5)
Deaths +16 (3x 60-69, 70-79, 10x 80+) 492
Recoveries +916 35,695
Spatial distribution of people tested, cases, and deaths (since yesterday):
  • All other values are compared with respect to yesterday
Zone Active Cases New People Tested Total New Cases Total New Deaths Total
Calgary 4,903 (+58) +2,501 576,317 +426 20,609 +0 186
Central 830 (+18) +558 122,306 +65 2,175 +2 14
Edmonton 5,991 (+512) +1,921 476,491 +541 19,692 +14 208
North 764 (+16) +615 136,174 +79 3,343 +0 44
South 640 (-15) +235 91,712 +31 3,559 +0 40
Unknown 75 (-31) +41 23,119 -27 158 +0 0
Spatial distribution of cases for select cities and regions (change since yesterday) (cities proper for Calgary and Edmonton):
City/Municipality Total Active Recovered Deaths
Calgary 17,106 (+367) 3,884 (+105) 13,053 (+262) 169 (+0)
Edmonton 16,311 (+427) 4,815 (+114) 11,306 (+299) 190 (+14)
Brooks 1,271 (+4) 46 (+2) 1,212 (+2) 13 (+0)
Lethbridge 886 (+4) 171 (-5) 708 (+9) 7 (+0)
Fort McMurray 626 (+17) 158 (+11) 466 (+6) 2 (+0)
High River county 600 (-1) 29 (-2) 564 (+1) 7 (+0)
Grande Prairie 444 (+2) 78 (-4) 362 (+6) 4 (+0)
Mackenzie county 428 (-1) 8 (-2) 409 (+3) 13 (+0)
Red Deer 425 (+12) 141 (+0) 284 (+12) 0
Medicine Hat 228 (+9) 103 (+2) 123 (+7) 2 (+0)
I.D. No 9 (Banff) 186 (+5) 152 (+0) 34 (+5) 0
Cardston county 156 (+1) 34 (+1) 117 (+0) 5 (+0)
Wheatland county 138 (+2) 23 (-4) 115 (+6) 0
Wood Buffalo municipality 100 (+3) 27 (+1) 73 (+2) 0
Warner county 98 (+1) 17 (+1) 80 (+0) 1 (+0)
Rest of Alberta 10,533 (+263) 3,663 (-37) 6,791 (+298) 79 (+2)
Municipalities with 10+ active cases is given at this link
Schools with outbreaks are listed online.
Quick numbers (since yesterday):
  • 65 schools are on Watch (+1)
  • 117 schools have 2-4 cases (+3)
Spatial distribution of hospital usage (change based on yesterday's post):
  • Hospitalization zone are where the patient is receiving care, not zone of residence
Zone Hospitalized ICU
Calgary 115 (+10) 16 (+2)
Edmonton 169 (+6) 39 (+0)
Central 18 (+0) 3 (+1)
South 25 (+0) 5 (+0)
North 21 (+4) 3 (+1)
Statements by Premier Kenney
Opening Statements
  • Pandemic is "once in a century" event that has affected everyone
  • Has received lots of heartbreaking/heartfelt letters and read some out of them in the meeting last night
  • Letters include concerns about family impacts and economic impacts, as well as the loss of life
  • Has phoned front line healthcare workers over weekend and sought out their advice
  • Has noted the hesitation of further restrictions before and focus on targeted measures. The vast majority of Albertans have worked to the guidelines
  • Spread is speeding up and is significant at long term care. We need to do "everything we can" to protect them. That requires dedicated work from the community
  • Must also protect healthcare system. Healthcare system is at risk, and Edmonton Zone is an example of the trade offs that now must be made. Other services will have to be put on hold if the trend continues, even with the spending in it
  • Measures below were not taken lightly. These are the "minimum restrictions needed" right now to protect healthcare system and avoiding widespread damage to livelihoods
New Measures
  • Declaring a State of Public Health Emergency in the province of Alberta
  • Series of mandatory measures also approved:
  • For social gatherings: No indoor social gatherings will be permitted in any setting and outdoor social gatherings will have a limit of 10 people
  • For funerals and weddings: 10 in-person limit and no receptions will be permitted
  • Social events have been one of the biggest driver of cases. Weddings and funerals are one of the biggest widespread drivers of transmission ("This is just a reality")
  • These social gathering restrictions are province-wide and can be subjected to fines
  • An emergency alert will be sent to all Alberta phones this week to make Albertans aware
  • Gatherings of worship services will be capped of 1/3 of Fire Code with mandatory masking if region is under enhanced status. This is now mandatory. This will be evaluated mid-December
  • Effective Friday, for regions under enhanced status, three temporary restrictions will be added at businesses and services:
  • (1) The following will be closed: banquet halls, conference centres, trade shows, concert venues, community centres. All levels of sport too, but must apply and have an approved exemption
  • (2) Retail businesses and services will be limited to 25% of occupancy limit
  • (3) Hair salons, personal wellness services, hotels, and professional services will be limited by-appointment
  • In-person dining and bars can continue, but must abide by guideline. Each dining tables will be limited to 1 household
  • Asking all workers that can work from home to do so. Government of Alberta will do so
  • These will be reviewed in mid-December
  • On November 30th, Grades 7-12 will end in-person schooling for 2020 and Winter break will begin December 18. In-person learning will be delayed until January 11, 2021
Closing Statements
  • Effective immediately, masks are mandatory in Edmonton and Calgary Zone
  • The measures are tough, but necessary to protect Albertans from a "crushing lockdown"
  • Knows this will be hard and encourages people to shop local
  • Will give a chance to review before Christmas
  • If the measures do not have meaningful impact, further restrictions will be made in December
Q&A - Announced Restrictions
  • Alberta has had some of the least stringent measures and highest cases rates. Is today's announcement that it failed? Why are we doing the "minimum"?: Thinks the response has been effective for a long stretch of time. Obviously an issue has cropped up in the past few weeks. Also notes a "chase after 0 [cases]" shutdown won't be the goal and that restrictions and interventions, in accordance with Charter of Rights, should be limited to minimizing infringement of rights to achieve a goal
  • How will you enforce gathering restrictions?: No "snitch line", but will be expanding enforcement officers (Level 1 and 2 peace officers) to enforce orders and writing the tickets (up to $1,000/person). Anticipates officers will see if obvious "large gathering signs" will be noticed
  • How is in-person dining not "indoor gatherings"? How do you feel about doctors recommending closing in-person dining?: Notes dining is one household and limited spread in dining centres and asks those with a secure paycheck ("particularly a government paycheck") to think about those who sink life savings in dining services
  • Why are stores being restricted if they are not a significant cause of spread?: Compares well to other provinces who have fully closed retail. Thinks it was a grave mistake to allow big box stores to remain open because they had grocery/pharmaceutical sections while small businesses must close. That said, restrictions must be made to limit social spread
  • Due to challenges with Albertan spread information, what data is being used to make the decisions?: Points to data from previous 8 months
  • Are you confident that these measures will control cases by December 15?: Yes. Notes the challenging balance between infringement of rights and controlling cases. Also hopes this will be a "wake up call" to those not following the guidelines
  • (Interjection - I felt this was important and it needs to be separated from the above question). Kenney recognizes he will get quite a few people "on [his] Facebook page" angry at the restrictions. Wants to emphasize this is not a lockdown. Nor is this an abstraction. If you know someone waiting for surgery, this is to protect them. It's not about politics, but for them. It's not something he wants to do and is upset about the situation. But it's not enough to complain. Challenges people to explain how to grapple with timely healthcare access if Covid continues to spread and more need care
Q&A - Future Restrictions
  • How bad will it have to be to announce a lockdown?: Would like to avoid it if possible. Key metric will be hospitalization (in particular, ICU), measured against capacity. (Interjection - The wording of the rest of the response was focused on more targeted measures if these restrictions do not limit spread within 3 weeks)
  • Are there specific thresholds for lift measures/add more measures?: On 15th of December, reproductive value (R) must be <1 to lift measures. Ideal target is 0.80. We are currently at 1.3 in Edmonton, 1.1 in Calgary
Q&A - Other
  • Where is Alberta when it comes to vaccine and rapid testing?: Alberta depends on the federal government. Notes disappointment in the slow roll out of rapid testing (though 577,000 tests have been delivered). Hopes to announce more roll out details in the week. For vaccine, Oxford trial has also headed to mass production (giving Canada 3 incoming vaccines). When it arrives, will likely begin with healthcare workers and vulnerable populations
Statements by Minister Shandro
Further details on the above guideline
  • Indoor social contact should be limited to you household. If you live alone, you may have two non-household social contacts
  • Indoor social gathering gatherings doesn't apply to home based services
  • Funeral/wedding gathering limits can result in $1,000 fine, up to $100,000 through courts
  • Additional details for restaurants/bars/pubs/lounges: Must follow 4 points: (1) 6 person/table limit, all from one household, (2) same note as above for single person household (and limited to the same two people), (3) only seated eating/drinking allowed, (4) no other services are allowed (e.g. billiards/darts)
  • Encourages takeout/delivery/curbside pick up when possible
  • Enhanced screening of measures will begin
  • Retail services extends to bingo halls, fitness, pools, etc. No group fitness is allowed, nor team practice or games
  • Casinos can be open for slots only and follow the liquor laws of bars and casinos
  • 25% limit includes grocery, pharmacies, clothing, computer, hardware, automotive stores, etc
  • Doctors can continue in-person care
  • Diploma exams will be optional - parents may choose to seek an exemption
AHS Capacity
  • Working with AHS to expand capacity
  • Commits that AHS will have all the resources needed to respond
  • But AHS also needs people to change their behaviour
Statements by Dr Hinshaw
Numbers
  • Dip in case number was due to fewer tests
  • Active Alerts/Outbreaks (1+ active cases) in 318 schools (~13%), with 1,135 cases. 181 schools with outbreaks (2+ active) with 65 on watch list (5+)
  • 103 deaths in last 2 weeks. Of them, 62 were in continuing care and 12 in acute care. Of the 29 community deaths, 14 were <70 years old
Additional information will be logged below:
submitted by kirant to alberta [link] [comments]

I just really love the Fallout Universe.

High all! I really recently fell in love with the Fallout Universe, with all its complexities and unique stories. In particular, I very much enjoy the subjectivity of interpretations of the games and their outcomes, and I wanted to create my own personal contribution by writing a story specifically set after the Second Battle of Hoover Dam. The Courier is referenced once in passing and there's no mention of a next of kin for the Courier. The story is completely original with entirely unique characters that I've made and it takes place after a non-specific timeline in which Mr House wins the fight for the Mojave Desert. I wanted to share some of my work with my fellow Fallout fans and see what you think. I sincerely hope you enjoy it.
Beginning:
After the guns fell silent during the Second Battle of Hoover Dam, the world was forever changed. Mr House’s City State of New Vegas gained full sovereignty and control over the Mojave Desert, and his Securitron Army pushed the exhausted NCR and broken Legion out. In the following years, Mr House rapidly expanded the city of New Vegas, and reignited the production of old Pre-War Technology automobiles, bus lines, and a high speed train line appeared. The Strip itself expanded beyond the Three Families; Strip clubs, pubs, casinos, all you can eat buffets filling the area, with some residential apartments and houses now beginning to be sold to the highest bidder, just as it was in the old world.
The expanded city of Vegas outside the Strip itself however is a slum, crime, inequality, and denigration is all but abundant, and unrest is growing. Following the removal of President Kimball, his Vice President Donald Watson took over and inherited a State in crisis. Faith in the government had rapidly deteriorated, and the economy of the NCR began to suffer as many relocated to the Strip to live a life of luxury and excess. The NCR is now a shadow of its former self, with Military Police now required to keep order on the streets of its towns and cities. The poverty level is rising. In the East, Caesar’s Legion too is changing, and not for the better. With the Western Campaign a failure by all accounts, resources dwindling, questions about the strength of their Leader Caesar are cropping up in the minds of those closest to him.
By 2295, the pieces had fallen into place. The fate of these States and the people who uphold them is uncertain. One thing is for sure. Whatever happens, the Wasteland will be changed unlike it has ever been before.
‘I appreciate your respectful and restrained response to my contact. It is a pleasure to interact with the less agitated members of your State.’
Aminta barely heard Mr House, and instead stared out the windows of the Lucky 38. The skyline of the Strip extended seemingly forever, pushing away the surrounding darkness with neon light. Just beyond the city outskirts, the silhouette of Mr House’s newly created Launch Pad. It was one of five, and she could just see the other four, each slightly further away from the city than the last. She scrutinised them, and was struck by the boundless possibilities of such technology; the opportunities provided. How exciting it would be! Mr House’s voice then cracked her thoughts and brought back to the present. She listened, without comment.
‘Roughly 18 hours ago, a team of five extraordinarily skilled individuals ascended Hoover Dam from the base of the structure,’ The ostentatiously large screen in which Mr House’s face sat suddenly changed to show grainy footage. ‘This was captured by one of our cameras on the perimeter of the dam. I apologise for the bad quality, it has been surprisingly difficult obtaining improved camera lenses, and As you can see, they used some kind of Grapnel Launcher and ascended via the rope.’
On the screen, it was possible to just make out five distinct figures at the base of the dam. They were clearly dressed in dark clothing, though the quality was too poor and the camera was too far away to make out any of the fine details of the material. Aminta scrutinised the footage, watching intently as the five figures used an oblong object, reminiscent of a hunting rifle to fire a rope, or cord up the side of the dam; high enough to catch the top. The operator of the device then disconnected it from the gun, and pressed it into the ground. It appeared to stick. They then ascended the rope. The camera feed then cut to show three of the attackers subdue and restrain two security guards. Due to the light, it was clear that the clothing the criminals were wearing was Recon Armor, though there were no insignia or identifiable characteristics. The two men were then held down by two and clubbed across the face by the third member with the butt of a 10mm pistol. He then turned to the computer and retrieved something from his pocket. Then the screen went black.
‘At this point, at roughly 1:27 am a Trojan was fitted onto the system. It temporarily disabled all the security cameras in the sector. It was one of the strongest Trojans I’ve ever come across, but I was able to get the system back up and running within 15 minutes. Unfortunately we cannot recover any footage from the corrupted data files that detail how the robbers escaped. I hope you can understand why I decided to contact you.’
Aminta pondered to herself. Why would Mr House, a man who controlled Rockets and owned and governed an entire city and it’s enterprises, would need to contact the New California Republic for assistance in a robbery? From where they were standing, he appeared to be in a position any high ranking NCR official would kill for. She didn’t say anything. There had to be more to this meeting than what Mr House was implying. She looked to her left, trying to be casual. Sitting next to her with an overexaggerated grave look on his face was Political Officer Neville Dawson, and next to him was Dennis Crocker, former Ambassador to the Strip. They too were quiet, their faces frustratingly hiding what they were thinking. Not sure where to look, Aminta turned back to the screen Mr House’s caricature face was on. She had to say something.
‘Mr House, why exactly do you think these people targeted Hoover Dam? There are many casinos and places full of money on the New Vegas Strip. Is there anything of massive value at Hoover Dam?’
‘Well Chief Aminta Marr, no, ostensibly speaking, there is nothing there of real value to anyone, unless they have the ability to take and control the Dam and source it’s hydraulic generated electricity,’
‘Then why would someone do this?’ Aminta said curtly. She tensed up, not meaning to sound dismissive.
‘Well Aminta, they did take one thing from what we've deduced,’ Mr House said, appearing to ignore her tone.
‘And what was that Mr House?’ Neville cut in. He was leaning forward, hands clasped tightly together. He was trying - and failing - to ease the tension in the room.
‘Well, before I contacted you Neville, and to answer your question Aminta, I ran through my storage records from 2285 to the present. I had Mr Harvey Shwarze, my ‘Representative in Government’ review them in paper form in our archives. Three things - completely inconsequential things mind you, were missing. Three Platinum Chips.’
Three Platinum Chips?’ Neville said concertedly, as if he knew exactly what Mr House was talking about.
‘That’s right. It’s a data storage device, well it was a data storage device. Designed by me before the Great War of 2077. Perhaps once upon a time this would’ve been valuable to somebody, but after the Second Battle of Hoover Dam I had access to all kinds of ruined facilities all over the Mojave to reform to working order. I began reprinting hundreds of Platinum Chips which were variations of the original Platinum Chip. They continuously upgrade and encrypt my software to prevent any outside programmers from accessing my highly sensitive data. I have no idea what a group of hooligans would want with three. I can easily replace them, and since they’re only usable on my systems, well they would simply be useless.’
‘Perhaps they wanted to sell them,’ Aminta proposed. It wasn’t impossible, she thought. People pay top dollar for things with perceived value, isn’t that the cardinal rule of the Strip?
‘To whom?’ Mr House replied. ‘The point still stands. Nobody has any use for them but me.’
‘Well, perhaps they thought they were valuable.’ Dennis remarked.
‘In any case, they will soon learn they are not valuable.’
‘If you have no problems with this Mr House,’ Aminta cut in. ‘Why do you need us here? The NCR has its own problems, big problems, and from where we’re standing, you seem to have everything under control.’
‘That’s precisely the issue!’ Mr House exclaimed. ‘The very fact they managed to steal anything from me at all is deeply disconcerting! I spent days and nights running statistical simulations for all possible scenarios in and formulated the best plans for countering every scenario I came across!’
‘I guess my point is, I do not understand, in any capacity, why you, YOU of all people would need to call us for assistance in a matter that you - whether intentional or not - have spent the last fives minutes telling us it isn’t an issue.’
The room fell quiet. Aminta pulled her hands back from the table and into her lap, and looked down at them, pretending to be occupied analysing them. She had exposed the true, unspoken meaning of this meeting, and they all knew it. She bit her lip. Dennis wiped the sweat off his face. Neville breathed in deeply, as though he was going to speak. But Mr House did first.
‘As I understand it, the NCR has fallen on hard times since the Second Battle of Hoover Dam. My Lieutenant after the battle was admittedly curt in regards to handling our relations, and since then it seems your economy is really struggling with extremely poor unemployment and satisfaction levels,’ Mr House paused.
Neville looked at Aminta with a look of understanding, and regret but he didn’t say anything. Mr House was right. Of course he was right.
‘It just so happens that while it may look from the outset I’m doing well, with the occasional launch of one of my experimental rockets, crime in Greater New Vegas is extraordinarily high. To be clear, the Strip is not, but the extended city state with the newly constructed buildings - those areas are. I want to make a proposition for the mutual benefit of the NCR, and New Vegas. Neville, think carefully about what I’m about to say.’
Neville spoke up. ‘Alright, I’m all ears.’
‘Dennis Crocker here can once again become the Ambassador to the Strip, and the NCR can once again have an Embassy. I will also give the NCR access to some of my technologies to help your state re-stabilize after everything that’s happened. In return however, I would like Aminta here, who is your Chief and Commander of both your military and normal police forces, to assist my Securitrons in patrolling Outer Vegas. Securitrons don’t make the best police, and security guards are in short supply and are not equipped, in any sense, to be police. I also would like your help in tracking down the culprits of this robbery; that being an extension of the aforementioned policing stipulation. Such a breach of security cannot happen again. Neville Dawson, I’m willing to sign a treaty pertaining to these terms, or any terms the NCR may propose, unless of course it does mutually benefit both states.’
Aminta felt her twang strike her deep in her heart. For years, the NCR Police Force had been absorbed into the Military Police Unit, and they could barely contain black market dealings of Chems and military grade weaponry on the streets of NCR’s cities. They did not have the resources or power Mr House seemed to think they did. For nearly 3 years straight she had been bombarded with evidence of killings by her own subordinates, illegal incarcerations, and illicit behavior between colleagues within her own chain of command, with no power to rehabilitate or prosecute those involved. Meanwhile, those that had the money to escape fled to New Vegas, desperate to find a life of comfort. It was possible that through re-establishing trade and mutual respect with Mr House, they could rebuild the NCR’s respectability on the international and internal level. She found herself hoping the treaty would be signed.
‘This... is a huge proposition. I hope you can understand the overwhelming nature of what you’re telling us, it’ll take a bit for us to come to a conclusion.’ Neville exhaled, as though he had been holding it for the last minute.
‘I understand.’ Mr House responded.
‘Maybe I ask,’ Donnie piped up. ‘What specific kinds of technology will you provide to the NCR?’
Mr House ran down a checklist. ‘Vehicles. Remade pre-war cars. Excavation machines. Cement mixers. Would provide jobs and improve your infrastructure in the process, whilst also giving me business and improving the situation here. Mutually beneficial for both sides.’
‘I see.’
Aminta struggled to contain her happiness. She had become a police officer to enforce safety and protect those who abide by the law. This was a way back to such operations, in which she could help those in need, rather than sit idly while their situation worsened.
‘I’ll also be willing to give 10% of the electricity produced by Hoover Dam to the NCR. It produces more than I need.’ Mr House offered.
Dennis shifted his weight, and opened his mouth. It was a second before anything came out.
‘15% would be great, if possible.’
‘Done.’ Mr House concluded.
‘Well, we’ll definitely have to confer this back to President Watson. As previously said by Mr Dawson, this is a huge offer.’
‘I understand. Aminta, I can only hope you also support this.’
Aminta smiled. ‘I am willing to establish a NCR Police Force here in New Vegas, and assist in establishing prosperity and stability, for the benefit of both states.’
‘Excellent. I’ll arrange for a Taxi to take you back to the border.’
*****
Nobody said a word in the ride in the elevator down to the entrance of the Lucky 38. There was a perpetual sense of being watched, and listened to, and Aminta supposed they probably were. She sensed from the stiffness of Donnie and Neville’s postures they felt the same way. As the three left through the ground level of the building, the desolate casino indicated a time long past, preserved in pristine condition yet uncannily lifeless; inhabited only by robots. Aminta felt a shiver flow throughout her body, prompting her to hurry outside.
Upon exiting, Aminta was greeted by the fantastic lighting she had seen from the Lucky 38. Buildings stretched high into the now night sky, perpetually lit up and calling for you to spend a few short hours in their luxurious suites and lose all the money you have without knowing it. She had visited the Strip a couple of times before the Second Battle of Hoover Dam. Back then, whilst still grand, its exterior walls felt cobbled-together, layered pieces of steel to preserve what glory the pre-war days had. Now, the Strip felt open, almost a complete return to complete pre-war glory, though there was no way of her knowing what such a time looked like. Polished, beetle like cars with extravagant interwoven pieces of silver and gold making up their hubcaps cluttered the road, filled with nicely dressed young women chattering incessantly.
Boys, ranging from teenagers to old men stumbled around, drunk and happy, their legs falling beneath them as though they were wet noodles. To the left, the Ultra Luxe Casino hotel stood at the far end of the street, intoxicatingly ostentatious and alluring for any hoping to climb the social ladder, despite the many rumors of cannibalism attempting to tarnish the brand. The fountain outside the front sprayed sparkling water into the night air which caught the light of the strip and reflected it like the jewels the building it was in front of was embroidered in. However, Aminta was not taken by the hotel, and watched two NCR troopers, still in their military uniforms be forced to dance in front of a crowd of onlookers. They were pushed and shoved as they struggled to dance, their arms and legs barely keeping to any rhythm as they fell to the ground, vomiting a putrid yellow substance onto the asphalt. She looked away in disgust and embarrassment for the two men.
A man in an expensive looking suit and bowtie greeted the three. Behind him stood a long polished black car.
‘Shall I take you to the crossing point?’
‘Yes.’ Donnie answered. Aminta and Neville followed his lead. He had more experience on the Strip than the majority of the tourists around them. She started the car once they were all inside, the engine barely kicking as it began to drive. Aminta marvelled at its power, it’s sleekness, at the strength and confidence of its movement and the luxury of it’s exotic wood plated interior.
The chauffeur drove to the large South Gate of the Strip, passing multitudinous buildings of similar grandeur and spectacle, all the same though uniquely different, until they all blurred into one mix of different colours and moving forms. The chauffeur leaned out of the side window, showed an identification pass to a Securitron, and the gate opened. Aminta’s car was the only car that left. As the gate closed, the car picked up speed and tore through the rest of Vegas.
Immediately outside the Strip, the buildings were noticeably more dilapidated. Aminta watched as the varied prosperity of the Strip curtailed rapidly into a mess of buildings, barely recognisable as residential or industrial, though they were unmistakably new creations. She almost didn’t notice it at first, but they were all the same. Row after row of buildings with the same geometric exterior, though placed at odd angles to each other, as if a child had been playing with them and haphazardly threw them into where they now stood. As the car moved further and further away from the Strip, lights in these buildings became scarce, and the brickwork became exposed to reveal pipelines and shreds of electrical appliances, some still spitting sparks. When the light of the Strip was nothing more than a flicker of light on the night horizon, the copied buildings were replaced with houses, roofs sagging, walls crumbling. As the car zipped passed, Aminta caught wisps of figures; people moving about the ruins and the darkness like ghosts, until they passed the last house, and all that could be seen was the night sky and desert shrubbery.
submitted by Professional_Panda_5 to Fallout [link] [comments]

Lost in the Sauce: March 22 - 28

Welcome to Lost in the Sauce, keeping you caught up on political and legal news that often gets buried in distractions and theater… or a global health crisis.
Figuring out how to divide the COVID-19 content from the “regular” news has been difficult because the pandemic is influencing all aspects of life. Some of the stories below involve the virus, but I chose to include them when it fits into one of the pre-established categories (like congress or immigration). The coronavirus-central post will be made again this Thursday-Friday; the sign up form now has an option to choose to receive an email when the coronavirus-focused roundup is posted.
House-keeping:
  1. How to support: If you enjoy my work, please consider becoming a patron. I do this to keep track and will never hide behind a paywall, but these projects take a lot of time and effort to create. Even a couple of dollars a month helps. Since someone asked a few weeks ago (thank you!), here's a PayPal option and Venmo.
  2. How to get notifications: If you’d like to be added to my newsletter, use this SIGNUP FORM and you’ll get these recaps in your inbox!
Let’s dig in!

MAIN COURSE

Congress passes stimulus

Last week started out with a Republican-crafted stimulus bill that was twice-blocked by Senate Democrats, who objected to the lax conditions of aid to corporations, too little funding for hospitals, and a $500 billion “slush fund” for big companies to be doled out by Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin with no oversight.
Conservative-Democrat Joe Manchin (WV) even criticized the GOP bill:
“It fails our first responders, nurses, private physicians and all healthcare professionals. ... It fails our workers. It fails our small businesses… Instead, it is focused on providing billions of dollars to Wall Street and misses the mark on helping the West Virginians that have lost their jobs through no fault of their own.”
Through negotiations, Democrats shifted the bill in a more-worker friendly direction. The version that passed includes the following Democrat-added provisions: expanded unemployment benefits, $100 billion for hospitals, $150 billion for state and local governments, direct payments to Americans without a phase-in (ensuring low-income workers get the full amount), a ban on Trump and his children from receiving aid, and oversight on the “slush fund” (see next section for more info). Senate Democrats also managed to remove a provision that would have excluded nonprofits that receive Medicaid funding from the small-business grants.
Echoing sentiments expressed during debate on the previous coronavirus bill (the second, for those keeping track), Republican senators derided the $600 a week increase in unemployment payments as “incentivizing” workers to quit their jobs. Sens. Ben Sasse (Neb.), Rick Scott (Fla.), Tim Scott (S.C.) and Lindsey Graham (S.C.) delayed passage of the bill in order to force a vote on an amendment removing the extra unemployment funding. "This bill pays you more not to work than if you were working," Graham said. Fortunately for American workers, the amendment failed and the improved bill passed the Senate and the House.

The giveaways in the bill

While Senate Democrats were able to add worker-friendly provisions, the bill still required bipartisan support to pass the chamber and some corporate giveaways remained in the final version.
Politico:

Trump’s signing statement

While signing the latest coronavirus relief bill, the president also issued a signing statement undercutting the congressional oversight provision creating an inspector general to track how the administration distributes the $500 billion “slush fund” money.
The newly-created inspector general is legally required to audit loans and investments made through the fund and report to Congress his/her findings, including any refusal by the executive office to cooperate. In his signing statement, Trump wrote that his understanding of constitutional powers allows him to gag the special IG:
"I do not understand, and my Administration will not treat, this provision as permitting the [inspector general] to issue reports to the Congress without the presidential supervision required" by Article II of the Constitution.
The signing statement further suggests that Trump does not have to comply with a provision requiring that agencies consult with Congress before it spends or reallocates certain funds: "These provisions are impermissible forms of congressional aggrandizement with respect to the execution of the laws," the statement reads.
While some have said that Congress fell short in this instance, one Democratic Senate aide told Politico that Congress built in multiple layers of oversight, including “a review of other inspectors general and a congressional review committee charged with overseeing Treasury and the Federal Reserve's efforts to implement the law.”
Legal experts have pointed out that a signing statement is “without legal effect.” But that ignores the fact that oversight is not equal to enforcement. The problem, in my opinion, isn’t that Congress won’t be notified of any abuses of power by Trump. The problem is that congressional Republicans and the judiciary have largely failed to hold him accountable and enforce our laws even after learning of his abuses.

Concerns about the IG

Another potential weakness in the oversight structure is the inspector general position itself. The special inspector general for pandemic recovery, known by the acronym S.I.G.P.R., is nominated by the president and confirmed by the Republican-controlled Senate. As we’ve seen from Trump’s previous nominees, particularly judicial, many unqualified individuals have been confirmed. The Democrats will not have the power to stop the president and Mitch McConnell from jamming through a loyalist to fill the SIGPR role.
Former inspector general at the Justice Department Michael Bromwich: “The signing statement threatens to undermine the authority and independence of this new IG. The Senate should extract a commitment from the nominee that Congress will be promptly notified of any Presidential/Administration interference or obstruction.”
You may recall that Trump has already proven that he’s willing to interfere with the legally-mandated work of an inspector general. When the Ukraine whistleblower filed a complaint last year, the IG of the Intelligence Community, Michael Atkinson, investigated and determined the complaint to be “urgent” and “credible.” Atkinson wrote a report and gave it to Director of National Intelligence Joseph Maguire to hand over to Congress. However, the White House and DOJ interfered and instructed Maguire not to transmit the report to the Senate and House Intelligence Committees. Chairman Adam Schiff had to subpoena Maguire to turn over the report and testify before his committee.
Further, there are already five IG vacancies in agencies that have a critical role in responding to the pandemic. The Treasury itself has not had a permanent, Senate-confirmed IG for over eight months now, and Trump hasn’t nominated a replacement. The Treasury Dept. has taken a lead role in the coronavirus response, with Secretary Mnuchin handling most of the negotiating with Congress on Trump’s behalf. The fact that the lead agency doesn’t have IG oversight should be troublesome in itself; replicating the situation with a special IG doesn’t seem to be a promising solution.
UPDATE: The nation's inspectors general have appointed Glenn Fine, the Pentagon's acting IG, to lead the committee of IGs overseeing the coronavirus relief effort.
This is one of several oversight mechanisms built into the new law. They include:
A committee of IGs (now led by Fine), a new special IG (to be nominated by Trump), a congressional review panel (to be appointed by House/Senate leaders)

Direct payments

Included in the stimulus bill is a $1200 one-time direct payment for all Americans who made less than $75,000 in 2019 (less than $150,000 if couples filed jointly). More details can be found here. I have read that the Treasury will use 2018 information for those who have not filed yet this year, but I am not 100% sure that’ll happen.
Mnuchin has said that Americans can expect to receive the money within three weeks, but many experts expect that timetable to be pushed into late April. Additionally, that only applies to Americans who included direct deposit information on their 2019 tax returns. Those who did not include their bank’s information will have to be sent a physical check in the mail… which could take anywhere from two to four months.
Other options are being discussed, including partnering the Treasury Dept. with MasterCard and Visa to deliver prepaid debit cards. Venmo and Paypal are reportedly lobbying the government to be considered as a disbursement option.
Future payments?
House Speaker Pelosi is already planning another wave of direct payments to Americans, saying that the $1,200 is not enough to mitigate the economic effects of the pandemic: “I don’t think we’ve seen the end of direct payments.” Republicans, meanwhile, are taking a ‘wait and see’ approach, using the next couple of weeks to measure the impact of the $2 trillion bill passed last week.
House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy: “What concerns me is when I listen to Nancy Pelosi talk about a fourth package now, it’s because she did not get out of things that she really wanted...I’m not sure you need a fourth package...Let’s let this work ... We have now given the resources to make and solve this problem. We don’t need to be crafting another bill right now.”
For the fourth legislative package, Democrats have said they would like to see increased food stamp benefits; increased coverage for coronavirus testing, visits to the doctor and treatment; more money for state and local governments, including Washington, D.C.; expanded family and medical leave; pension fixes; and stronger workplace protections.
Trump’s signature
Normally, a civil servant signs federal checks, like the direct payments Americans are set to receive. According to a Wall Street Journal report, Trump has told people that he wants his signature to appear on the stimulus checks.

THE SIDES

War on the poor continues

Amid the coronavirus crisis, Trump has defended his continued support of a Republican-led lawsuit to dismantle the Affordable Care Act, which would result in 20 million Americans losing health insurance if successful. The Supreme Court agreed to hear arguments in the case this fall. Contrasting with his position that the ACA is illegal, Trump is considering reopening enrollment on HealthCare.gov, allowing millions of uninsured individuals to get coverage before potentially incurring charges and fees related to COVID-19.
Joe Biden called on Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton, who is leading the charge against the ACA, and President Trump to drop the lawsuit:
“At a time of national emergency, which is laying bare the existing vulnerabilities in our public health infrastructure, it is unconscionable that you are continuing to pursue a lawsuit designed to strip millions of Americans of their health insurance and protections under the Affordable Care Act (ACA), including the ban on insurers denying coverage or raising premiums due to pre-existing conditions.”
The Trump administration is also pushing forward with its plan to kick 700,000 people off federal food stamp assistance, known as SNAP (Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program). The USDA announced two weeks ago that the department will appeal Judge Beryl Howell’s recent decision that the USDA’s work mandate rule is “arbitrary and capricious."
Additionally: The Social Security Administration has no plans to slow down a rule change set for June that will limit disability benefits, the Department of Health and Human Services still intends to reduce automatic enrollment in health coverage, and the Department of Housing and Urban Development will continue the process to enact a rule that would make it harder for renters to sue landlords for racial discrimination.

Lawmakers’ stock transactions

The Justice Department and Securities and Exchange Commission are beginning to investigate stock transactions made ahead of the economic crisis caused by the coronavirus pandemic. CNN reports that the inquiry has already reached out to Senator Richard Burr for information. “Under insider trading laws, prosecutors would need to prove the lawmakers traded based on material non-public information they received in violation of a duty to keep it confidential,” a task that won’t be easy.
Sen. Burr is facing another consequence of his trades: Alan Jacobson, a shareholder in Wyndham Hotels and Resorts, sued Burr for allegedly using private information to instruct a mass liquidation of his assets. Among the shares he sold were an up to $150,000 stake in Wyndham, whose stock suffered a market-value cut of more than two-thirds since mid-February.

Environmental rollbacks

Using the pandemic as cover, the Trump administration has begun to more aggressively roll back regulations meant to protect the environment. These are examples of what Naomi Klein dubbed “the shock doctrine”: the phenomenon wherein polluters and their government allies push through unpopular policy changes under the smokescreen of a public emergency.
On Thursday, the EPA announced (non-paywalled) an expansive relaxation of environmental laws and fines, exempting companies from consequences for pollution. Under the new rules, there are basically no rules. Companies are asked to “act responsibly” but are not required to report when their facilities discharge pollution into the air or water. Just five days before abandoning any pollution oversight, the oil industry’s largest trade group implored the administration for assistance, stating that social distancing measures caused a steep drop in demand for gasoline.
  • Monday morning update: In an interview with Fox News this morning, Trump said he was going to call Putin after the interview to discuss the Saudi-Russia oil fight. A consequence of this "battle" has been plummeting prices in the U.S. making it difficult for domestic companies (like shale extraction) to turn a profit. It's striking that the day after Dr. Fauci told Americans we can expect 100,000 to 200,000 deaths from COVID-19 (if we keep social distancing measures in place), Trump's first action is to talk to Fox News and his second action is to intervene in an international tiff on behalf of the oil and gas industry.
Gina McCarthy, who led the E.P.A. under the Obama administration, called the rollback “an open license to pollute.” Cynthia Giles, who headed the EPA enforcement division during the Obama administration, said “it is so far beyond any reasonable response I am just stunned.”
The EPA is also moving forward with a widely-opposed rule to limit the types of scientific studies used when crafting new regulations or revising current ones. Hidden behind claims of increased transparency, the rule would require disclosure of all raw data used in scientific studies. This would disqualify many fields of research that rely on personal health information from individuals that must be kept confidential. For example, studies that show air pollution causes premature deaths or a certain pesticide is linked to birth defects would be rejected under the proposed rule change.
Officials and scientists are calling upon the EPA to extend the time for comment on the regulatory changes, arguing that the public is unable to express their opinion while dealing with the pandemic.
“These rollbacks need and deserve the input of our public health community, but right now, they are rightfully focused on responding to the coronavirus,” said Representative Frank Pallone of New Jersey, the chairman of the House Energy and Commerce Committee.
Other controversial decisions being made:
  • A former EPA official who worked on controversial policies returned as Administrator Andrew Wheeler’s chief of staff. Mandy Gunasekara helped write regulations to ease pollution controls for coal-fired power plants and vehicle emissions in her previous role as chief of the EPA’s Office of Air and Radiation. In a recent interview, Gunasekara, who played a role in the decision to exit the Paris Climate Accord, pushed back on the more dire predictions of climate change, saying, “I don't think it is catastrophic.”
  • NYT: The plastic bag industry, battered by a wave of bans nationwide, is using the coronavirus crisis to try to block laws prohibiting single-use plastic. “We simply don’t want millions of Americans bringing germ-filled reusable bags into retail establishments putting the public and workers at risk,” an industry campaign that goes by the name Bag the Ban warned on Tuesday. (Also see The Guardian)
  • Kentucky, South Dakota, and West Virginia passed laws putting new criminal penalties on protests against fossil fuel infrastructure in just the past two weeks.
  • The Hill: The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) said Friday that it will extend the amount of time that winter gasoline can be sold this year as producers have been facing lower demand due to the coronavirus. It will allow companies to sell the winter-grade gasoline through May 20, whereas companies would have previously been required to stop selling it by May 1 to protect air quality. “In responding to an international health crisis, the last thing the EPA should do is take steps that will worsen air quality and undermine the public’s health,” biofuels expert David DeGennaro said.
  • NYT: At the Interior Department, employees at the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service have been under strict orders to complete the rule eliminating some protections for migratory birds within 30 days, according to two people with direct knowledge of the orders. The 45-day comment period on that rule ended on March 19.
  • WaPo: The Interior Department has received over 230 nominations for oil and gas leases covering more than 150,000 acres across southern Utah, a push that would bring drilling as close as a half-mile from some of the nation’s most famous protected sites, including Arches and Canyonlands National Parks… if all the fossil fuels buried in those sites was extracted and burned, it would translate into between 1 billion and 5.95 billion metric tons of carbon dioxide being released into the air. That upward measure is equal to half the annual carbon output of China

Court updates

Press freedom case
Southern District of New York District Judge Lorna Schofield ruled that a literary advocacy group’s lawsuit against Trump for allegedly violating the First Amendment can move forward. The group, PEN America, is pursuing claims that Trump “has used government power to retaliate against media coverage and reporters he dislikes.”
Schofield determined that PEN’s allegation that Trump made threats to chill free speech was valid, providing as an example the White House’s revocation of CNN correspondent Jim Acosta’s press press corps credentials:
”The threats are lent credence by the fact that Defendant has acted on them before, by revoking Mr. Acosta’s credentials and barring reporters from particular press conferences. The Press Secretary indeed e-mailed the entire press corps to inform them of new rules of conduct and to warn of further consequences, citing the incident involving Mr. Acosta… These facts plausibly allege that a motivation for defendant’s actions is controlling and punishing speech he dislikes.”
Twitter case
The president suffered another First Amendment defeat last week when the full 2nd Circuit Court of Appeals declined to review a previous ruling that prevents Trump from blocking users on the Twitter account he uses to communicate with the public. Judge Barrington D. Parker, a Nixon-appointee, wrote: “Excluding people from an otherwise public forum such as this by blocking those who express views critical of a public official is, we concluded, unconstitutional.”
Trump-appointees Michael Parker and Richard Sullivan authored a dissent, arguing the free speech “does not include a right to post on other people’s personal social media accounts, even if those other people happen to be public officials.” Park warned that the ruling will allow the social media pages of public officials to be “overrun with harassment, trolling, and hate speech, which officials will be powerless to filter.”
Florida’s felon voting
U.S. District Judge Robert Hinkle ripped into Florida Governor Ron DeSantis’s administration for failing to come up with a process to determine which felons are genuinely unable to pay court-ordered fees and fines, which are otherwise required to be paid before having their voting rights restored.
“If the state is not going to fix it, I will,” Hinkle warned. He had given the state five months to come up with an administrative process for felons to prove they’re unable to pay financial obligations, but Florida officials did not do so. The case is set to be heard on April 28 (notwithstanding any coronavirus-related delays).

ICE, Jails, and COVID-19

ICE
One of the most overlooked populations with an increased risk of death from coronavirus are those in detention facilities, which keep people in close quarters with little sanitation or protective measures (including for staff).
Last week, U.S. District Judge Dolly Gee ordered the federal government to “make continuous efforts” to release migrant children from detention centers across the country. Numerous advocacy groups asked for the release after reports that four children being held in New York had tested positive for the virus:
“The threat of irreparable injury to their health and safety is palpable,” the plaintiffs’ lawyers said in their petition… both of the agencies operating migrant children detention facilities must by April 6 provide an accounting of their efforts to release those in custody… “Her order will undoubtedly speed up releases,” said Peter Schey, co-counsel for the plaintiffs in the court case.
On Tuesday, 13 immigrants held at ICE facilities in California filed a lawsuit demanding to be released because their health conditions make them particularly vulnerable to dying if infected by the coronavirus. An ACLU statement says the detainees are “confined in crowded and unsanitary conditions where social distancing is not possible.” The 13 individuals are all over the age of 50 and/or suffering from serious underlying medical issues like high blood pressure.
“From all the evidence we have seen, ICE is failing to fulfill its constitutional obligation to protect the health and safety of individuals in its custody. ICE should exercise its existing discretion to release people with serious medical conditions from detention for humanitarian reasons,” said William Freeman, senior counsel at the ACLU of Northern California.
Meanwhile, ICE is under fire for continuing to shuttle detainees across the country, with one even being forced to take nine different flights bouncing from Louisiana to Texas to New Jersey less than two weeks ago. That man is Dr. Sirous Asgari, a materials science and engineering professor from Iran, who was acquitted last year on federal charges of stealing trade secrets. The government lost its case against him, yet ICE has had him in indefinite detention since November.
Asgari, 59, told the Guardian that his Ice holding facility in Alexandria, Louisiana, had no basic cleaning practices in place and continued to bring in new detainees from across the country with no strategy to minimize the threat of Covid-19...Detainees have no hand sanitizer, and the facility is not regularly cleaning bathrooms or sleeping areas…Detainees lack access to masks… Detainees struggle to stay clean, and the facility has an awful stench.
Jails
State jails are making a better effort to release detained individuals, as both New York and New Jersey ordered a thousand people in each state be let out of jail. The order applied only to low-level offenders sentenced to less than a year in jail and those held on technical probation violations. In Los Angeles County, officials released over 1,700 people from its jails.
A judge in Alabama took similar steps last week, ordering roughly 500 people jailed for minor offenses to be released to lessen crowding in facilities. Unlike in New York and New Jersey, however, local officials reacted in an uproar, led in part by the state executive committee for the Alabama Republican Party and Assistant District Attorney C.J. Robinson. Using angry Facebook messages as the barometer of the community’s feelings, Robinson worked “frantically” to block inmates from being released.
  • Reuters: As of Saturday, at least 132 inmates and 104 staff at jails across New York City had tested positive for COVID-19, the disease caused by the coronavirus… Since March 22, jails have reported 226 inmates and 131 staff with confirmed cases of COVID-19, according to a Reuters survey of cities and counties that run America’s 20 largest jails. The numbers are almost certainly an undercount given the fast spread of the virus.

Tribe opposed by Trump loses land

On Wednesday, The Federal Bureau of Indian Affairs announced the Mashpee Wampanoag Tribe’s reservation would be "disestablished" and its land trust status removed. Tribal Chairman Cedric Cromwell called the move "cruel" and "unnecessary,” particularly coming in the midst of a pandemic crisis. Rep. Bill Keating (D-Mass.), who last year introduced legislation to protect the tribe's reservation as trust land in Massachusetts, said the order “is one of the most cruel and nonsensical acts I have seen since coming to Congress.”
The administration’s decision is especially suspicious as just last year Trump attacked the tribe’s plan to build a casino on its land, tweeting that allowing the construction would be “unfair” and treat Native Americans unequally. As a former casino owner, Trump has spent decades attacking Native American casinos as unfair competition. At a 1993 congressional hearing Trump said that tribal owners “don’t look like Indians to me” and claimed: “I might have more Indian blood than a lot of the so-called Indians that are trying to open up the reservations” to gambling.
More than his past history, however, Trump has current interests at play in the Mashpee Wampanoag’s planned casino: it would have competed for business with nearby Rhode Island casinos owned by Twin River Worldwide Holdings, whose president, George Papanier, was a finance executive at the Trump Plaza casino hotel in Atlantic City.
In the Mashpee case, Twin River, the operator of the two Rhode Island casinos, has hired Matthew Schlapp, chairman of the American Conservative Union and a vocal Trump supporter, to lobby for it on the land issue. Schlapp’s wife, Mercedes, is director of strategic communications at the White House.
submitted by rusticgorilla to Keep_Track [link] [comments]

A Thorough Review of Robins AFB

COPY PASTA from my post at AirForce!
A Thorough Review of Robins AFB
Hello Everyone,
This is my review of Robins AFB after living here for the past 5 years. Hope you find this helpful!
If you’re familiar with using Google Map/GPS to help you get to a military base, it can be difficult to find an open gate without your GPS telling you to turn/U-Turn into a closed gate!
Put in your GPS, “Martin’s BBQ, 102 S Armed Forces Blvd, Warner Robins, GA 31088.” It will take you to Watson Blvd and to the only 24hr gate; Watson Gate. This is also the gate to get visitor passes for your friends/family.
The other gate you’ll be using a lot is Russell gate which is connected to Russell Pkwy. I’ll be assuming you’re driving from the Atlanta airport, so south of Highway 247. GPS the “Museum of Aviation” and about 100 yards before you arrive at the MoA, exit right to Russell Gate. Note, Russell Gate closes at 2400 (0100 on Fri and Sat only) and opens up at 0430 on weekdays and 0500 on the weekends. Hours subject to change, check online for more specific hours!
Green Gate and MLK Gate are two other notable gates mainly for inbound and outbound traffic in the morning rush/afternoon rush.
Bowling Alley: 908 Ninth Street (478-926-2112)
Fitness CenteBase Gym: 826 Eighth Street (478-926-9128)
Fitness Annex/24 Hour Gym: Bldg 301 (478-926-2840)
Finance: 236 Milledgeville Street Suite 526 (478-926-4022)
Heritage Club/Restaurant: 956 Ninth St (Various Numbers)
ITT/Outdoor Recreation: Bldg 984 (Located next to the Main BX) (478-926-4001)
Medical Clinic: 655 Seventh St (478-327-7850 Appointment Line)
MPF/MPS: 660 Macon St (478-327-5666)
Warner Robins - The main city outside of Robins AFB is Warner Robins. WR will be referenced a lot while you are here at Robins. WR can be summed up in a few words as a small-sized southern city with churches and chain restaurants. The city consists of two main counties; Houston (pronounced “House Ton” and not “Hugh’s Town.” People will correct you on this!) and Peach County.
Macon - Located about 15 miles north of Robins AFB/Warner Robins. Macon has a lot of history and is nicknamed the “Heart of Georgia” because it is in the center of GA. Honestly IMO, Macon is pretty ghetto… What happened to Macon is similar to Detroit.. Both places were once thriving industrial cities until their main asset collapsed. You’ll see a lot of abandoned buildings when you drive to downtown Macon. It is pretty sad. There are some nice areas in Macon to visit though, like around Zebulon Road. I’d still recommend going downtown to eat at some nice mom and pop stores. Make sure to never go alone, however.
Savannah - Located about 2 ½ hours to 3 hours South-East/East of Robins. It is the #1 “Most Haunted” city in the United States apparently. It is really fun to visit. Eat seafood and go on some ghost tours while you’re there. The #3 Ice Cream Shop in the U.S. is in Savannah, Leopolds, if you love ice cream. The vibe can be described as a cross between Florida and South Carolina and “hipster-ish” thanks to SCAD there. Be prepared to walk a lot. Free parking on the weekends! Almost every store gives military discounts since there is an Army Base nearby. Give yourself 3 days and 2 nights to really have a grasp and enjoy Savannah.
Atlanta - The capital of GA and the place to be! It is located about 100 miles north of Robins which takes about 2 ½ hours to drive, thanks to the good ol’ Atlanta traffic! There is an abundant amount of things to do and sightsee that I will talk about later in this post.
Owen’s Boarding House is one of my favorite mom and pop stores in WR and it's really close to the base for a quick lunch! Owen’s is an all-you-can-eat lunch-only southern restaurant, dig in those chicken wings! It’s about $10.50, cash only.
The Rookery, in downtown Macon, is one you’ll hear a lot of. It is an old southern/burger joint. The store has a fancy dining upstairs; The Dovetail, if you’re into that.
Martin's BBQ, I referenced it earlier as a good point to locate Robins AFB but it is also a popular BBQ!
WR really loves Mexican food, and so do I! Taco Shed is next to the Museum of Aviation, it is American Mexican food. Salsa’s which is a dining American Mexican restaurant. My Grandma’s Empanadas and Luis for more authentic Mexican food. Cuban Cafe sells pretty good Cuban food. Tacos and More, I wasn't a huge fan of it but one of the comments mentioned it and it does sell $1 tacos, try it out!
Wasn't a fan of Saigon Noodle in WR, its close to base, which is why I believe their portions are small for a Vietnamese place. Plus, the Pho soup has MSG!
Pho Saigon in Macon is great, however. Good portions, and no MSG in their soups!
Stir King is a nice American Chinese place which gives good portions. I am not a fan of the “Japanese” food in WR, better go to Atlanta for real sushi and ramen. Also… screw all of WR’s Hibachi restaurants.
I did not mention any corporate/franchise restaurants since you may already be familiar with them and only want to mention the mom n pop stores.
They’re also “Senior Airmen” dorms for Airmen who’ve stayed longer in the dorms. Essentially, a SrA dorm is a larger dorm with no suite-mate and no kitchen. If the dorms have no availability, Airmen with the longest TOS (Time-on-Station) will be allowed to leave early. You can ask regularly if the dorms are full and maybe you can leave ahead of others.
Certain circumstances can allow you to leave the dorms early such as being a mature age (like over the age of 30) or being married but your spouse is currently living elsewhere due to service, school, etc.
My personal experience: I lived in the dorms and I would describe the overall experience as “okay.” It can be hit or miss with a good suite-mate and your dorm might have mold in them... I didn’t though. Typically activities of dorm airmen include going clubbing, the gym, and/or playing video games. Overall, I enjoyed living in the dorms because of the access to network with other Airmen, not cooking my own food, because of the DEFAC, and friends were just close by.
I lived in Warner Robins after I moved off base from the dorms, and the area was okay. Generally speaking, the further you live off base, (and this goes for all military bases) the safer the environment becomes.
If you’re wanting to live in a nicer area and/or have kids. Look into living in cities Kathleen and/or Bonaire. The area and school system (like Houston County High School) is much nicer than the rest of the public school system.
Cities like Perry and Bryon have far commutes of at least 20 minutes but can be described as “rural” if like not knowing your neighbors.
IMO, please do yourself a favor and do not live off or near Green St. (Hint. It’s right off Green St Gate!) I would also not recommend living in Macon. Imma be real and say Macon is pretty ghetto in most parts of the city (unless you live off Zebulon Rd) and the commute to work is going to be at least 20 mins to work. Edit: Forgot to mention Riverside in Macon. It is still relatively new and the area is nice and so are the neighborhoods. The Riverside Mall is an outdoor mall, very safe and clean. Don't go to the Macon Mall, however.
Essentially, South-West of Warner Robins is the best place to live. Where Feagin Mill Rd and Highway 96 is.
Off Base Housing community is called Huntington Chase, it’s ghetto from what my co-workers have told me as they’ve gunshots go off frequently and cars are breaking into. Off-Base housing is open to civilians and not just military.
Coca Cola Factory - Entry is free for military (does not include dependents) and it is a nice place to go on a date. Try flavors of coke from around the world!
Aquarium - IMO, the experience felt it was geared towards children, I would only pay during special military days because $33 is not worth the visit!
Atlanta Zoo - Never been but it is another sight seeing opportunity.
Dragon Con - A.K.A. “Comic Con of the East.” Where 80k of your “best friends” come meet in a 4-day comic/pop culture/movie/ convention which spans across 5 hotels! Most people get turned off when they hear “comic” as they associate this con with sweaty nerds… Well, they aren’t wrong! But I can guarantee you’ll be missing out if you did not attend this con at least once while you’re at Robins. Even if you don’t love comics, movies, anime, or pop culture (who doesn’t like at least one of the 4?) you can open drink in public for the duration of the con! It is always during Labor Day weekend every year. And if you don’t mind paying for the price of a host hotel, they’re worth it. Good luck because they get booked fast!
Anime Weekend Atlanta - An Anime Con that specializes on having Japanese pop/rock stars to play in the con!
MomoCon - An Anime Con that specializes in 24hour gaming/arcade gaming for the entire weekend!
Ponce City Market - A hipster food and shopping market that used an abandoned factory as their shopping district. Please do yourself a favor and park in Ponce City Market’s parking and not try to get “free” parking from the plaza across the street. You’ll get a “boot” on your car when you come back and have to pay a fine… Ask me how I figured that out...
Caffeine and Octane - A huge car meet in Atlanta that meets regularly.
Mardi Gras: The drive to Louisiana is about 6 hours but I know some Airmen who made the trip to be there for Mardi Gras.
Florida: The drive will take at least 3 hours to cross the Florida border. Florida is fun, do I need to say more?
Professional Sports: Altanta Hawks, Braves, and Falcons! Look for special discounts near Veterans days like Hoops for Troops. The Falco
Don’t forget to check the ITT office for free or reduce price activities for “single Airmen!” Seriously, I’ve gone skydiving, deep sea fishing, paintballing, etc for free or reduced prices! 50% of Disney Park passes!
Obviously, there are more things to do than the list I provided, DYOR and maybe you’ll find a place and/or hidden gem you’ll love!
A lot of your co-workers will most likely talk crap about Robins. Well, they’re probably the same salty Airmen who put Robins AFB, 9th, on their dream sheet and how trying to figure out how Eglin or Macdill wasn’t chosen even though it was #1 and #3 on their dream sheet. But even if they aren’t those types of Airmen.... Robins is one of those “what you make of it bases.”
You. Yes you, Airman, have to create your own experiences and be willing to leave your dorm and not be a dorm rat to make memories at Robins. This base isn’t centrally located to anything known for “fun” like all the bases in San Antonio, all Florida bases, Travis, Keesler and the casinos, etc. Even that hot A1C still has to make an effort to venture out and explore new roads and can’t rely on other people to do it for them.
“Robins-ism.” For whatever reason, “Robin-ism” is basically AFIs and the proper order of how to do things in the Air Force... does not apply the same for Robins. You’ll hear a lot of “that’s not how we did that at my last base.” People say it's because the amount of civilians outnumbers the military 3:1. And with that, if the civilians don’t like the AFI/protocol, it will slowly but surely die out and a “Robin-ism” method of how to do things soon takes over. I am not blaming the large civilian population, it is just what Airmen accept is the reason why some people on this base can be lazy at times.
Allergies. If you never experienced allergies or have in the past. Well, Warner Robins has a surprise for you... Seriously, you could potentially suffer from bad allergies.
I hope you found this review helpful if you're incoming to Robins whether it'd be a PCS or TDY, or if you just wanted to read my review.
Edit: Added more info.
Edit 2: I have since PCSed from Robins in 2020.
submitted by Be-a-better-wingman to RateMyAFB [link] [comments]

A Thorough Review of Robins AFB

Hello Everyone,
This is my review of Robins AFB after living here for the past 5 years. Hope you find this helpful!
If you’re familiar with using Google Map/GPS to help you get to a military base, it can be difficult to find an open gate without your GPS telling you to turn/U-Turn into a closed gate!
Put in your GPS, “Martin’s BBQ, 102 S Armed Forces Blvd, Warner Robins, GA 31088.” It will take you to Watson Blvd and to the only 24hr gate; Watson Gate. This is also the gate to get visitor passes for your friends/family.
The other gate you’ll be using a lot is Russell gate which is connected to Russell Pkwy. I’ll be assuming you’re driving from the Atlanta airport, so south of Highway 247. GPS the “Museum of Aviation” and about 100 yards before you arrive at the MoA, exit right to Russell Gate. Note, Russell Gate closes at 2400 (0100 on Fri and Sat only) and opens up at 0430 on weekdays and 0500 on the weekends. Hours subject to change, check online for more specific hours!
Green Gate and MLK Gate are two other notable gates mainly for inbound and outbound traffic in the morning rush/afternoon rush.
Bowling Alley: 908 Ninth Street (478-926-2112)
Fitness CenteBase Gym: 826 Eighth Street (478-926-9128)
Fitness Annex/24 Hour Gym: Bldg 301 (478-926-2840)
Finance: 236 Milledgeville Street Suite 526 (478-926-4022)
Heritage Club/Restaurant: 956 Ninth St (Various Numbers)
ITT/Outdoor Recreation: Bldg 984 (Located next to the Main BX) (478-926-4001)
Medical Clinic: 655 Seventh St (478-327-7850 Appointment Line)
MPF/MPS: 660 Macon St (478-327-5666)
Warner Robins - The main city outside of Robins AFB is Warner Robins. WR will be referenced a lot while you are here at Robins. WR can be summed up in a few words as a small-sized southern city with churches and chain restaurants. The city consists of two main counties; Houston (pronounced “House Ton” and not “Hugh’s Town.” People will correct you on this!) and Peach County.
Macon - Located about 15 miles north of Robins AFB/Warner Robins. Macon has a lot of history and is nicknamed the “Heart of Georgia” because it is in the center of GA. Honestly IMO, Macon is pretty ghetto… What happened to Macon is similar to Detroit.. Both places were once thriving industrial cities until their main asset collapsed. You’ll see a lot of abandoned buildings when you drive to downtown Macon. It is pretty sad. There are some nice areas in Macon to visit though, like around Zebulon Road. I’d still recommend going downtown to eat at some nice mom and pop stores. Make sure to never go alone, however.
Savannah - Located about 2 ½ hours to 3 hours South-East/East of Robins. It is the #1 “Most Haunted” city in the United States apparently. It is really fun to visit. Eat seafood and go on some ghost tours while you’re there. The #3 Ice Cream Shop in the U.S. is in Savannah, Leopolds, if you love ice cream. The vibe can be described as a cross between Florida and South Carolina and “hipster-ish” thanks to SCAD there. Be prepared to walk a lot. Free parking on the weekends! Almost every store gives military discounts since there is an Army Base nearby. Give yourself 3 days and 2 nights to really have a grasp and enjoy Savannah.
Atlanta - The capital of GA and the place to be! It is located about 100 miles north of Robins which takes about 2 ½ hours to drive, thanks to the good ol’ Atlanta traffic! There is an abundant amount of things to do and sightsee that I will talk about later in this post.
Owen’s Boarding House is one of my favorite mom and pop stores in WR and it's really close to the base for a quick lunch! Owen’s is an all-you-can-eat lunch-only southern restaurant, dig in those chicken wings! It’s about $10.50, cash only.
The Rookery, in downtown Macon, is one you’ll hear a lot of. It is an old southern/burger joint. The store has a fancy dining upstairs; The Dovetail, if you’re into that.
Martin's BBQ, I referenced it earlier as a good point to locate Robins AFB but it is also a popular BBQ!
WR really loves Mexican food, and so do I! Taco Shed is next to the Museum of Aviation, it is American Mexican food. Salsa’s which is a dining American Mexican restaurant. My Grandma’s Empanadas and Luis for more authentic Mexican food. Cuban Cafe sells pretty good Cuban food. Tacos and More, I wasn't a huge fan of it but one of the comments mentioned it and it does sell $1 tacos, try it out!
Wasn't a fan of Saigon Noodle in WR, its close to base, which is why I believe their portions are small for a Vietnamese place. Plus, the Pho soup has MSG!
Pho Saigon in Macon is great, however. Good portions, and no MSG in their soups!
Stir King is a nice American Chinese place which gives good portions. I am not a fan of the “Japanese” food in WR, better go to Atlanta for real sushi and ramen. Also… screw all of WR’s Hibachi restaurants.
I did not mention any corporate/franchise restaurants since you may already be familiar with them and only want to mention the mom n pop stores.
They’re also “Senior Airmen” dorms for Airmen who’ve stayed longer in the dorms. Essentially, a SrA dorm is a larger dorm with no suite-mate and no kitchen. If the dorms have no availability, Airmen with the longest TOS (Time-on-Station) will be allowed to leave early. You can ask regularly if the dorms are full and maybe you can leave ahead of others.
Certain circumstances can allow you to leave the dorms early such as being a mature age (like over the age of 30) or being married but your spouse is currently living elsewhere due to service, school, etc.
My personal experience: I lived in the dorms and I would describe the overall experience as “okay.” It can be hit or miss with a good suite-mate and your dorm might have mold in them... I didn’t though. Typically activities of dorm airmen include going clubbing, the gym, and/or playing video games. Overall, I enjoyed living in the dorms because of the access to network with other Airmen, not cooking my own food, because of the DEFAC, and friends were just close by.
I lived in Warner Robins after I moved off base from the dorms, and the area was okay. Generally speaking, the further you live off base, (and this goes for all military bases) the safer the environment becomes.
If you’re wanting to live in a nicer area and/or have kids. Look into living in cities Kathleen and/or Bonaire. The area and school system (like Houston County High School) is much nicer than the rest of the public school system.
Cities like Perry and Bryon have far commutes of at least 20 minutes but can be described as “rural” if like not knowing your neighbors.
IMO, please do yourself a favor and do not live off or near Green St. (Hint. It’s right off Green St Gate!) I would also not recommend living in Macon. Imma be real and say Macon is pretty ghetto in most parts of the city (unless you live off Zebulon Rd) and the commute to work is going to be at least 20 mins to work. Edit: Forgot to mention Riverside in Macon. It is still relatively new and the area is nice and so are the neighborhoods. The Riverside Mall is an outdoor mall, very safe and clean. Don't go to the Macon Mall, however.
Essentially, South-West of Warner Robins is the best place to live. Where Feagin Mill Rd and Highway 96 is.
Off Base Housing community is called Huntington Chase, it’s ghetto from what my co-workers have told me as they’ve gunshots go off frequently and cars are breaking into. Off-Base housing is open to civilians and not just military.
Coca Cola Factory - Entry is free for military (does not include dependents) and it is a nice place to go on a date. Try flavors of coke from around the world!
Aquarium - IMO, the experience felt it was geared towards children, I would only pay during special military days because $33 is not worth the visit!
Atlanta Zoo - Never been but it is another sight seeing opportunity.
Dragon Con - A.K.A. “Comic Con of the East.” Where 80k of your “best friends” come meet in a 4-day comic/pop culture/movie/ convention which spans across 5 hotels! Most people get turned off when they hear “comic” as they associate this con with sweaty nerds… Well, they aren’t wrong! But I can guarantee you’ll be missing out if you did not attend this con at least once while you’re at Robins. Even if you don’t love comics, movies, anime, or pop culture (who doesn’t like at least one of the 4?) you can open drink in public for the duration of the con! It is always during Labor Day weekend every year. And if you don’t mind paying for the price of a host hotel, they’re worth it. Good luck because they get booked fast!
Anime Weekend Atlanta - An Anime Con that specializes on having Japanese pop/rock stars to play in the con!
MomoCon - An Anime Con that specializes in 24hour gaming/arcade gaming for the entire weekend!
Ponce City Market - A hipster food and shopping market that used an abandoned factory as their shopping district. Please do yourself a favor and park in Ponce City Market’s parking and not try to get “free” parking from the plaza across the street. You’ll get a “boot” on your car when you come back and have to pay a fine… Ask me how I figured that out...
Caffeine and Octane - A huge car meet in Atlanta that meets regularly.
Mardi Gras: The drive to Louisiana is about 6 hours but I know some Airmen who made the trip to be there for Mardi Gras.
Florida: The drive will take at least 3 hours to cross the Florida border. Florida is fun, do I need to say more?
Professional Sports: Altanta Hawks, Braves, and Falcons! Look for special discounts near Veterans days like Hoops for Troops. The Falco
Don’t forget to check the ITT office for free or reduce price activities for “single Airmen!” Seriously, I’ve gone skydiving, deep sea fishing, paintballing, etc for free or reduced prices! 50% of Disney Park passes!
Obviously, there are more things to do than the list I provided, DYOR and maybe you’ll find a place and/or hidden gem you’ll love!
A lot of your co-workers will most likely talk crap about Robins. Well, they’re probably the same salty Airmen who put Robins AFB, 9th, on their dream sheet and how trying to figure out how Eglin or Macdill wasn’t chosen even though it was #1 and #3 on their dream sheet. But even if they aren’t those types of Airmen.... Robins is one of those “what you make of it bases.”
You. Yes you, Airman, have to create your own experiences and be willing to leave your dorm and not be a dorm rat to make memories at Robins. This base isn’t centrally located to anything known for “fun” like all the bases in San Antonio, all Florida bases, Travis, Keesler and the casinos, etc. Even that hot A1C still has to make an effort to venture out and explore new roads and can’t rely on other people to do it for them.
“Robins-ism.” For whatever reason, “Robin-ism” is basically AFIs and the proper order of how to do things in the Air Force... does not apply the same for Robins. You’ll hear a lot of “that’s not how we did that at my last base.” People say it's because the amount of civilians outnumbers the military 3:1. And with that, if the civilians don’t like the AFI/protocol, it will slowly but surely die out and a “Robin-ism” method of how to do things soon takes over. I am not blaming the large civilian population, it is just what Airmen accept is the reason why some people on this base can be lazy at times.
Allergies. If you never experienced allergies or have in the past. Well, Warner Robins has a surprise for you... Seriously, you could potentially suffer from bad allergies.
I hope you found this review helpful if you're incoming to Robins whether it'd be a PCS or TDY, or if you just wanted to read my review.
Edit: Added more info.
submitted by Be-a-better-wingman to AirForce [link] [comments]

OBLIGATORY FILLER MATERIAL – Just take a hard left at Daeseong-dong…11

Continuing…
That being handled, I leave a wakeup call for 0430 as I want a shower and a couple shower-sunrisers before we leave. It takes me about 10 minutes to pack. I call home to let Es know what’s going on. She’s not in, so I leave a message. Same for my friends Rack and Ruin of the Agency. They’re thrilled so far with my reports.
The security forces here are absolutely going to freak if they reverse-review my phone records once we leave.
Covert? Schmovert. I’m too old for playing such games.
The next morning, after a sudsy shower and a couple of vodka-infused shower-beers; I’m in the lobby with all my kit, checked-out, and waiting on the tour leader. My passport was stamp-stamp-stampity-stamped here at the hotel, which I thought was weird, but after spending time in this here country, not all that unusual.
At 0545 on the dime, the tour bus pulls into the lot. Without a word, bellhops grab near all my kit and escort it out to the waiting bus.
After tipping each extravagantly, I fire up a huge cigar, and wander around outside, loitering by the bus. I see members of my team at the front desk, checking out. Everything’s been paid for already, they just have to sign documents that they’re not secreting hotel towels or televisions or errant nationals in their luggage.
It’s a weird country.
I see them loading box breakfasts for us as well as box lunches on the bus.
Hell, they’re actually doing ‘field trip’ correctly.
If the bus us fueled up, we can go for days at this rate. There are several coolers bearing the hotel’s brand and I sidle over to see what they’re carrying.
Case after case of iced-down beer and a couple of cases of various high-octane potables; and over there? A couple of boxes of mixers…ah, soda…pop…carbonated citrusy goodness.
“OK”, I sigh, “All is as it should be. Now the field excursion may begin.”
My teammates filter outside as does their luggage. I suggest they get out and keep what is necessary for preliminary outcrop excursions; such as a backpack or knapsack, hammer, acid bottles, field notebooks, Brunton compass, lighters, cameras, personal tobacco products, and the like in the bus. That way, we don’t have to go tearing through all the luggage at every stop.
I pull out a bundle of 100 Hubco™ large geological dual-sample bags. That’s right: ‘dual’ sample…
I distribute these to everyone on the team. I ask that they devise their own numbering system and make absolutely certain I have a copy of it when we’re done. I’ll be correlating and curating all the samples when we get back to the world.
I ask that a cooler of drinks are left on board the bus, rather than in the hold. It’s humid, sticky, and muggy today. We must expend valiant effort in remaining hydrated and this will help.
Luckily, the bus has on-board lavatory facilities.
We are seated on the bus, my 10 collective team members, myself, our 4 ‘guides’, ‘Yuk’, ‘No’, ‘Man’, and ‘Kong’; our driver, relief driver, one incredibly shy national geologist, Myung-Dae Soo, and four of the shiny suit clan.
The hotel wheels out a large cart laden with pastries and a huge coffee urn. A bit of a “Bon Voyage” from the casino and bar crowd, as they put this together for us when they heard we were leaving.
“Hey. That’s really nice of them.” Dax notes.
Dax handed over our raw “elevator waiting” funds as we didn’t have time to run it through the casino-machine before we left. We donated over 75,000 won to our friends at the bar, casino, and massage parlor. The ones delivering our going away present assured us it would be divided equitably.
“It best be”, I laughed, “You never know when one of us might be back!”
There was a collective horrified look on their faces for the merest moments. Then they all laughed and said that they hoped we would return someday soon.
“Nice folks”, I thought, “Stupid as shit country, but nice folks.”
We had all separately left tips for the room maids, bellmen, and matrons back before we checked-out.
There was a flurry of handshaking and goodbyes. Not a bad hotel experience here in the so-called land of Best Korea.
Serious dark coffee was passed out amongst the riders, but Ivan, myself, and Dax were already giving one of my emergency flasks a workout.
Ivan smiled and said: “We drink our coffee the Russian way. That is to say we had vodka before it and vodka afterward. HA!”
Ivan and I are cut from the same bolt.
Faux-doughnuts, pseudo-bear claws and fake-long johns all distributed; the bus is fired up, and rumbling. We are exhorted to watch our drinks as we pull away from the hotel and into the wilds of Northern Korea.
I’m humming away:

On the road again -Just can't wait to get on the road again,
The life I love is bashing rocks in the field with my friends.
And I can't wait to get on the road again
On the road again.
Goin' places that we've never been,
Seein' things that we may never see again…
--
“Rock?”, Dax inquires.
“Yes?” I reply.
“Do please shut up.”
“Music hater”, I muse and comply.
We’re rolling down the highway, as it were, headed generally north. We all have cameras of one kind or another; and rather than relieve us of them, they quietly and without much fuss, slowly darken the windows.
They claim it’s to keep the sun out and temperatures down, but just before things go all black, we’re seeing sights and scenes of the true North Korea. They’re trying to keep us from seeing that en route to the outcrops.
This new bus has some sort of electronic tint-control gizmo for the windows. However, if one has a pair of polarizing sunglasses, as all good field geologists do, you see right past that and can view the passing scenery unencumbered.
I return from a quick beer-recycling loo trip and am amused to see 10 Western scientists, sitting in a blacked-out bus, all wearing polarizing sunglasses.
It was just the surreal note this trip needed as we left the confines of the capital city.
We traveled north, and the empties pile began to grow. We had a few trash bags we had liberated from the hotel, but the shiny suits were very insistent that every empty can, bottle, and bag, yes they had beer in bags…had to be repatriated to a box in the far back of the bus.
Evidently, they either were paid a bounty on each container or were accountable for each vessel. They were soon to realize just the capacity for drink that a group of 11 seasoned very Senior Field Geologists, and one stowaway geologist-in-training can amass.
As we ply our way northward, we see the agricultural side of North Korea. The contrast between rural areas and the capital was striking. There were miles of rice paddies being harvested by people with sickles in their hands. And no cars on the highway. It was most destabilizing for this Westerner.
I think we saw a maximum of three tractors, as most of the work was done with ox power, there was very little evidence of rural electrification. Oh, hold on. We saw many more tractors, I should correct that: we saw three running and not rusted into oblivion tractors.
The farmers we see are using equipment that is quite literally medieval - single-share plows pulled by large, cranky bovines; sweeping sickles to bring in the harvest, and twin-engine, bilateral, botanical-fired ox-carts to transport it. It’s hard to believe that this third-world level of poverty exists in the same country that’s capable of building rockets, nuclear weapons, and tall, well-appointed hotels.
But when we stop at a motorway service station for fuel - a bizarre alien spaceship-like building squatting over the empty carriageways - we do encounter a jangmadang, or semi-official market. Here they are selling cans of knock-off Vietnamese Red Bull and Malaysian-made King Cobra™ Cola.
It reminds me of Russia right after the wall fell. Off the Trans-Siberian Railway in Krasnoyarsk, the Gateway to Eastern Siberia. You can buy Chinese hams, Chinese sodas, Chinese knock-off liquor, and those bloody delicious little bullets of Vitamin-C, Chinese mandarins.
Here, it’s similar. You can get most anything you desire, except it isn’t of Korean manufacture. That stuff is even too shitty to pawn off on tourists.
Instead, it’s knock-off Malaysian, Chinese, or Indonesian beer, wine, or soft drinks.
“Tiger-brand energy drink. Now with 40% more real tiger.” Here? I believe them.
Vodka from everywhere not known for its vodka distilling prowess. Rural hotel shops sell nastily stale crisps, gummy gummies, filling-ripping ‘chewy’ taffy or caramel, and biscuits with a severely limited choice. Rural hotels do not have full electricity so beer is warm and often tossed on the table, waiting for tourists to arrive - as is the food. We were warned to be prepared for cold rice, cold fish, cold potato – and plenty of kimchi and tofu.
Back on the road again, we’re passing small burgs that are not on any of our maps; even the ones we traded for back in the hotel that are specially marked: “For Internal Use ONLY!”.
They were amazingly the same. Clean. Bright. Uncluttered. And attended by cadres of prim, uniform-clad, though non-military people. They were all doing a day’s work keeping everything neat and clean.
There were no cars, trucks, forklifts…only rickshaws and ox-carts. However every one of these ‘towns’ were identical, and exactly, as Ivan pointed out, ‘X’ number of minutes apart.
“Watch! Is so!”, Ivan said. We passed one of these villages, and exactly 3 minutes later, an exact copy. Three minutes later? Another one. 3 more minutes? Xerox-city.
“What the fuck?” Dax asked.
“Potemkin village.” Comrade Dr. Academician Ivan replied.
A Potemkin village is any construction, literal or figurative, whose sole purpose is to provide an external façade to a country which is faring poorly. It is for making people believe that the country is faring better, although statistics and data would suggest otherwise.
“Russia pioneered the process,” Ivan noted with no small amount of pride. “During Cold War with West, entire cities were built, moved, raised, and razed. Ever hear of Krasnoyarsk-25? Atomic Research City? Supposed place of weapons study and manufacture. Huge ‘accident’. Entire city demolished, total populace relocated supposedly, after massive nuclear calamity.”
“Is that true? Cliff asks.
“No. Not at all.” Ivan smiles, “Deliberate misinformation. At least for K-25. It was diversion for actual towns where accidents; nuclear, biological, or worse, had happened. West so concerned about K-25 because it was big, near big capital city of Krasnoyarsk and suitably located out in the taiga. Easy to spot, easy to watch. Kept Western satellites busy while real towns of I-33, U-10, and AR-13 out in the forest were quietly demolished and people relocated or mass buried after some horrible, horrible accidents...”
“You think it’s the same here?” I asked Ivan.
“No, Dr. Rock”, Ivan smiled, and helped himself to my freshly constructed, but untouched, Yorshch, “This is all fake and bluster. Make West think everything is all A-OK, is that right idiom?”
“Yep.” I reply, “Precisely.”
“Make West believe all is OK and green”, as he winks at me, “And bustling and growing. Cover up what is real case here. We all see it and we see right through. Shoddy even for Asians.”
We all had to snicker and smirk as the shiny suit squad, who sat up at the front of the bus, and were not supposed to be listening; reacted like every cell in their bodies were just hit with a drop of pure lemon juice.
“Comrade Dr. Academician. Decorum, please.” I snickered.
“Oh, fuck them!”, Ivan replied, “I am old Russian. They try and pull burlap over my eyes? St. Petersburg? Moscow? Krasnoyarsk.? I’ve been there, seen them. They think this display of tawdriness…Even goofy American and Canadian can see the fakes they are. Britisher? I’m not so sure…”
“Damn, Doctor., I said to Ivan, “You’re just making friends all over the planet today.”
We all knew it was in jest; but the shiny suit squad certainly had their feathers ruffled and either didn’t care or wanted us to know we were under their observation.
“Fuck them twice”, Ivan said, “Ask them for bottle opener. I’m too lazy to search for my field jackknife.”
I hand him my pocket Leatherman and he pries the top of another bottle of ‘Budveiser’ beer.
“They can’t even make fake the name correctly”, he smirks and drains the bottle.
‘Town’ after ‘town’ and even that parade gets uninteresting. We’re headed north and finally come to a crossroads.
The bus driver, who must be a regular paranoid-maniac because he actually stopped to look for oncoming traffic, which we have seen precisely none since leaving the capital city, made a hard right. We’re heading back and up into the hills, leaving the bright lights of the big city far behind.
After an hour or so of driving, we pull off to the left-hand side of the road.
“Rock, Ivan, Cliff…holy shit, look at this!” Dax was uncharacteristically excited.
It was an open field that leads to a series of low outcrops of polychromatic, obviously sedimentary rocks. Magentas, greens, purples, rust-reds, browns, blacks, olive greens…holy shit. A real sedimentary pile.
We filed out of the bus with our field gear. The shiny suit squad started in with a bullhorn.
“You will wait for tour guides!”
“You will listen to group leaders!”
“You will not stray from the designated paths set up…”
No one heard them as the group of 11 remaining Western geoscientists were already across the highway and hieing for the exposures like outcrop-seeking multiple-warhead re-entry vehicles.
“You must wait!” we heard from exasperated voices back at the bus. “You must stop!”
“You must piss off!” Cliff said, “This is what we’ve been waiting over two weeks to see!”
“They are very angry with us”, Myung-dae the young Korean geologist said. “I find that just too bad.”
“And you are?” I asked.
Myung-dae Soo, the young Korean geologist, introduced himself.
“Well”, I said, “Welcome aboard. I’m Dr. Rock.”
“They are very, very angry”, he repeats.
“So? Are you tagging along to give them internal reports?” I asked.
“No, Doctor”, he replied, “I too am a geologist. I want to get away from those assholes and see some real rocks.”
“Who are you with?” I ask, “What group?”
“I am 5th-year student at Pyongyang College. I am not officially here. We were told in class that you were coming. I decided to see if I could join you. This morning, I was standing by bus and they thought I was hotel worker or orderly. I was given cooler full of beer and told to find place for it on the bus. I did and after that, just stayed in the back. I am stowaway. I am ashamed, but I had to see for myself. But, I like Western field trips so far!”
“No shit? Well, then”, I said, “Double welcome aboard. None of this ‘I am ashamed’ shit. You’re a geologist, but you haven’t even worked through your first field-evening get-together with us. But this is no pleasure cruise. It’s real work, real geology, real serious science shit. You savvy?”
“Yes, sir, Doctor Rocknocker from Sultanate in the Middle East.” Myung-dae smiled.
“And you fucking stay close to me”, I smirked.
I fired a couple of BLAAATS! from my portable air horn.
“Field Meeting! Field Meeting! Assholes & Elbows!” I called aloud.
Everyone gathered within earshot.
“OK, guys, here’s the deal. We do not know how long we’ve got here. So, let’s split up into teams. Geophysicists, go do your structural thing. Stratigraphers? Field relations. Geologists? Let’s go talk to some ronery-rooking-rocks. No offense, Mr. Myung.”
Myung-dae was laughing up a storm. He got that reference. He later told us all around the campfire he thought ‘Team America’ was a “fucking hilarious movie.”
Oh, we are going to be a real bad influence on this poor kid.
The groups spontaneously broke up into 4 or 5 sub-groups. They headed for areas they thought were important and they were photographing, measuring, pounding on rocks, and arguing within minutes.
“No, you idiot! It’s continental. Look at those adhesion ripples.”
“The fuck you know. It’s only a little low-level eggbeater tectonics. Where the fuck would you get continental collision-size energy around here?”
“Oh, the fuck you say. It’s non-marine. Those are mud cracks. Look at the sandy aeolian infill, fer chrissake.”
Formal? Proper? Detached Doctors of Geology?
Not when you’re in the field. It all goes out the window when different opinions collide like subducting plates.
“The music of my people!” I said to Morse.
“I thought that was the ‘Safety Dance’?” he chided.
“We’re a big family. We can have more than one.” I snickered.
We’re wandering around the site, with individual purpose.
We are looking for or looking at items of interest.
We’re hacking at the outcrops.
We’re all looking at…things.
It’s hard to describe. Get a load of geologists or geology students out of the office, lab, or classroom; stick them out on a bare expanse of heavily weathered rock and it’s simply…numinous.
We’re rebuilding worlds here.
This rock says this.
This rock says that.
And you’re not fluent in that dialect. Here, let me interpret for you…
We’re at each other’s throats, in the academic-metaphorical sense. Tempers have been known to run hot. There has been the occasional bloody nose or rocks sailing down an outcrop without the obligate “HEADACHE!” call. Hammers and Marsh Picks have ended up swimming without the owner’s knowledge.
But once we’re back; settled in the hotel room, tavern, or around the campfire, we’re all a Band of Brothers again. It’s an odd thing to watch; as if you’re not of the clan, you’d need an interpreter. It defies all boundaries: political, sexual, educational, geographical, linguistic, social, et cetera.
We’re all geologists first. We share the common scientific bond of Geology.
That’s why Geology is the First Science.
Plus we tend to drink a serious fucking whole bloody awful lot.
We’ve all been on that ‘crawlin’ home puker’.
We’ve also been to the ends of the earth: the deepest depths, the highest heights, we deal with the greatest pressures, the hottest temperatures; we’ve been to the mountain, we’ve seen the elephant, and we’ve held a bear’s nose to dogshit.
We wear the scars attained in our travels like badges of honor.
We’re God-Damned Scientists.
Back off, man. Geologist comin’ through.
Anyways, I’m looking at the bedding-plane boundaries between the purple unit and the underlying olive-green unit. The upper unit it looks, to me, continental in origin. Fluvial, perhaps. The lower unit is much finer-grained. Marine mudstone, perhaps? But what age?
The cadged Korean Geological maps are worse than useless. They never would go down to the outcrop scale. Consulting them, they don’t even note these exposures in a field sense.
Myung-dae, who is working about 35 meters down-section from me calls out, “Doctors! Sirs! Look here! I’ve found something!”
We all wander over as he is hacking away at the dusty, eroded rock. He stands and dusts off his find.
It’s a very large, nearly 1-meter diameter, coiled fossil cephalopod.
I wander over for a closer look. Dax, Cliff, Morse, and Ivan do as well.
“Blimey! Will you look at that? Outstanding, Mr. Myung!” Cliff says.
“Well, that confirms it. This layer, at least, is marine. Look at that suture pattern”, I say, dusting off an unweathered bit.
“Look at the radius of coiling.”, Cliff joins in.
We’re slowly wresting information out of this silent witness.
“Ornamentation?”, Dr. Ivan asks. “Knobs, bosses, and excrutions?” Oh, yes.”
In unison, we declare: “Hyphoplites!”
Morse adds, “And therefore…these rocks are middle Cretaceous. Marine. Not bad…”
“Need to get some samples for geochemical analysis. Dig deep, gentlemen, we need unweathered samples for TOC (Total Organic Carbon) content.”, Dr. Erlen Meyer notes.
With that, we have a relative age of the rock, a good idea of its depositional environment, and therefore extent, ideas of field relationships, and an indication of some of its fauna.
Could it be source rock worthy?
Samples? Best get diggin’, Beaumont.
That unit is right smack in the middle of this pile of rocks. Dax and I will work up-section and Ivan and Cliff will work down-section. We’re going to see what lies above, what lies below, what trends we can discern, and develop an idea of what happened here some 100 million years ago.
This is what happens when you get geologists out in the field with the proper amounts of field gear, outcrops, and alcohol.
Overall, the deeper down-section, and therefore, earlier in geological time you go, the more marine the rocks are. Conversely, the higher you go in the column, i.e., up-section, into younger rocks, the more continental it appears.
We find fragments of marine fish fossils, sea-crocodile scutes and teeth, heaps of mosasaur coprolites, i.e., fossil shit piles, and other indications that the lower, older rocks are Lower Cretaceous ocean basin-fill.
But up higher; we find mud cracks, rain prints, land turtle shells, land-snails (Bellerophontid gastropods), and what may actually be a fossil feather. All indications of a more continental, i.e., fluvial (river), floodplain, lacustrine (lake), and paludal (swamp) deposition.
That’s my particular bailiwick.
I’m ‘elephant walking’ along the upper outcrops looking for fossils. You basically bend over at the waist and sweep from left to right as you take exaggerated step after step, scanning the ground looking for…well…it takes years, but once you see it, you never forget it.
“Fossil sign”.
A disjunct endemism. Something not in situ. Something out of place. A bit of a different, out of context color. Out of context texture. Out of context size. Out of context context.
Something that looks like it shouldn’t ought to be there.
I’m picking up 1 cm. square hunks of what look like an ordinary rock. I taste them. Well, I stick them to my tongue. If it liquefies and runs away, it’s ordinary mudstone, shale, or the like.
If it sticks…well, it might just be fossil bone.
“PTWTWOO!”
“Damn right, Rock”, Cliff says from behind me, “Fucking North Korea tastes terrible.”
“Still, it’s the best way I know to…” I paused.
“Got something?” Cliff asked.
“Look here.” I said, “Anthill. Big, nasty buggers. Look around the edges. Pieces of flat, cream-colored rock on this gaudy purple stuff. Tongue test? They stick like cockleburs. Let’s look upslope, see if there’s a drainage…”
There it was, a nice little drainage incised about 1.5 meters deep into the nearly horizontal rocks we were walking on.
“Any float?” I asked.
“Not yet,” Cliff said.
We followed the weak, little drainage that was cut into the outcrop, up another couple of meters.
There were very scrappy, very small, very scattered pieces of that same cream-colored rock. Some were ornamented with a scroll-work or some sort of striations. Most un-geological. More biological. We followed the trail, up here, around here, over there.
Cliff noticed it first, a soccer-ball sized lump of completely out-of-place crème-colored ‘rock’ working its way out by gradual erosion of the variegated pastels of the continental rocks upon which we were treading.
I got there first and began to clear the area with my Estwing.
“Careful. Careful”, Cliff admonished.
“Yeah, yeah, yeah. Mind your Mincies. [Mince pies = eyes]”, as I’m swinging away at the reluctant, reticent, rocks.
The excavation grew, slowly. From the rounded dome, we could see small sutures that had developed…
Then condyles, fenestrae, then more ‘bone’. Then a jaw, teeth, vertebrae…
“HOLY DOUBLE-DAMN SHIT!” I tootled my air horn. We needed the group to see this.
It was a skull. A dinosaur skull. A small, non-avian dinosaur skull.
Everyone has crowded around and looked at the small quarry we had just built.
“Whatcha got, Rock? Cliff?” Joon asked.
“Fuck me, but I think we’ve got us a dinosaur skull,” I said.
Professor Doctor Academician Ivan walked over and cleared the area.
As Professor Emeritus, he had pole position priority.
“I agree.” is all he said.
I cleared the area and let others take a whack at opening up the quarry.
We may have been low on power tools, but we had a surfeit of opinions.
“OK,” I said, “Let’s look at the facts…”
  1. Age? Cretaceous. Probably lower to lower-middle Cretaceous.
  2. Continental deposits. That’s very fine sand we’re hacking away. Fluvial, without a doubt. Or, possibly aeolian; there’s no such thing as a geological certainty. Dunes? Ephemeral creeks? Low floodplain? Geo-talk… .
  3. Small size. Potentially a juvenile?
  4. Nope. Not a juvie. Sutures are closed, fused. This is, well was, an adult; perhaps a subadult, given its size.
  5. In situ? In place? Or washed in?
Hard to tell when all you’ve exposed is half the critter’s brain box.
“Look at that!” Myung-dae exclaimed, “Squamosal bones and the inner parietals…temporal fenestrae. It had a frill; a small one.”
“OK,”, I said, looking closely at the exposed scrappy remains, “Fucking-A Bubba. Nailed it.” I said, giving him the thumbs up.
“Ceratopsian. Look at those greens-grinder molars. There’s some small osteoderms on the skull; knobby old bastard. Early critter.” I continued.
Others looked around and confirmed my observations.
“Reminds me of Protoceratops from when I was back in Mongolia,” I said.
Dax chimed in with, “Looks something like Psittacosaurus from back in the Cretaceous Belly River of Canada.”
Drs. Ivan and Morse agree. “Most assuredly. It is definitely proto-ceratopsian. Young adult, as Dr. Rock notes by the cranial sutures. Do they have a record of proto-ceratopsians here?”
Myung-dae replies, “I have read reports of Korean proto-ceratopsian found in South Korea. Not long ago, 2019, it is called…ah… Auroraceratops. It is a genus of bipedal basal neo-ceratopsian dinosaur.”
“Bipedal?” I query. “Well, there’s a fine how do you do. All the proto-ceratopsians I’ve known were obligate quadrupeds.”
“Well”, Ivan, Dax, Cliff, and Morse agree, “That should give the shiny suit squad something to report. That’ll keep them the hell out of our hair for a while.”
We photograph each step as we excavate the critter. It’s more or less in situ, buried where it fell. Probably killed by a sand slip off a dune, or a river sandbar slip and burial. It’s not complete, but we do have the skull and a good portion of the post-cranial elements to about just before the pelvis. A good pectoral girdle, skull, jaw, frill, forelimbs, forefeet…easily half-a cute little herbivorous dinosaur. About the size of a smallish Highland Coo or large Great Dane.
We flag it with the team particulars, it’s GPS position, and carefully rebury the animal. We don’t have any of the equipment nor time to excavate it properly, but we can conserve it. Of course, we’ll be informing the proper authorities of our discovery.
I have an absolutely ancient Polaroid instant camera. Before re-internment, I take several pictures of our “Koreasaurus”, as we’ve dubbed the animal, with items for scale; like a hammer, cigar, and oddly enough, a photographic scale. Then I get a photo of the whole crew standing around, drinking warm beers from their individual day packs, smiling about the find ‘they‘ made.
We hear the melodious tootle of the bus’s horns. We make sure to pack out all our trash and wander back to our terrestrial transport.
“You were gone too long!” the chief shiny suited character goes all ballistic on me.
“Watch yourself, Herr Mac.”, I calmly said, “You’re going to burn your nose on my cigar.”
“You left without your handlers…err…guides!” he fumed.
“Hey, Scooter. Cool out. We’re geologists. We never get lost.” I said.
It sometimes just takes us longer to get back than it took us to leave…
“Your impertinence will be reported.” He smoldered.
“Report this, Mother Chuckler”, I observed and held out the pictures of our newly discovered Koreasaurus.
“Show those photos to your handlers,” I said in a mocking tone. “We found a brand new species of God-damned dinosaur for you geezers. It took us less than two hours. You can spin it that it’s a new, never-before-seen species of very specialized dinosaur found right here in beautiful Korea del Norte. Be quite the scientific coup, don’t you think? Trust us. We won’t say anything.”
He immediately shut up and went into conference with the rest of the shiny suit squad.
“Doctor”, one of the clan covert asked, “This is a new dinosaur?”
I had a thunderbolt of an idea.
“Oh! Yes, it is. I’d stake my reputation on it. You’ve had no concerted search here for the beasts and well, with the normalizing of relations between your country and the world, it allowed your specialists to perform real science. In fact, on the bus is the young North Korean geoscientist who made the discovery.” I said. “Give me a minute. I’ll go and get him. I think he was off taking a shi…ah, using the lavatory. Just give me a minute.”
I did have an idea. A wonderful idea. A wonderfully evil idea.
Back on the bus, I ordered the doors closed.
“Gentlemen! Ears and eyes! Please.” I said loudly.
Continuing…
“The shiny suits have their knickers all a-twist because we don’t want to listen to them; the assholes. Fuck that. I’ve got an idea. Let’s make our young acolyte here, Mr. Myung-dae Soo, a national hero. He would probably get his ass in a crack for sneaking on board the Western bus today the way he did. Well, double fuck that. Let’s all say he found the dinosaur. Let him take the glory for the homeland. No one else will ever need to know.” I said smiling.
“Fuck Yeah! You bet! Замечательное! Ihmeellisiä! Maravilhoso! Geweldig!”
Good to know we’re all on the same page. Geologists. You can always count on them…
“Mr. Myung-dae Soo? Front and center. Time to go and become ‘Hero of Best Korea’.” I smiled.
He was absolutely terrified.
“Doctor…I …don't…wait…no…” he stammered.
Cliff, Dax, Ivan, and I trotted him out to confront the shiny suit squad.
“Don’t worry, Myung. We’ve got your back. Trust us.” I said in a low conspiratorial tone.
The shiny suit squad turned as one and gave Mr. Myung the Stink Eye treatment.
“Here you go. The man of the hour. Mr. Myung-Dae Soo, young geologist and up and coming paleontologist.” I say loudly and with the utmost honor.
They look at him and the Korean erupts in rapid-fire staccato bursts.
Cliff just wanders in and interjects, “Yes. Righto. Top form. Found the float. Tracked down that dino like he was on safari. Highest marks. Good man!”
Dax adds more fuel to the fire. “Like he knew where to go, knew where to look. He’s a natural.”
Dr. Academician Ivan blustered forth: “Excellent scholar. Excellent field man. Banner geologist.”
I couldn’t have added more. The shiny suit squad was gobsmacked.
I asked Myung-dae what they were saying.
“They were talking about reprisals. Reporting to authorities. Then, they stopped. You have them completely confounded.” He said.
“How so?” I asked, quietly.
“Between an international incident where we don’t listen to our handlers and this potential important scientific discovery.” Mr. Myung-dae reported, trying hard to parse the evolving situation.
“Yes”, I added to Ivan’s bluster.
To the shiny suits: “I’ve worked as visiting Dinosaurian Vertebrate Paleontology Curator at all the major American museums. This is a find quite unlike anything known. It is a watershed discovery. It will help unravel the evolution and distribution of the clan Dinosauria for the whole Korean Peninsula. Perhaps, even with international impact on the recent finds in China.”
I laid it on with a trowel.
I hit all the buzzwords.
“Yes. Yes, perhaps.”, the head shiny-suiter said. “I will report this bit of very good news to the proper authorities. Myung-dae, with us. We require more information.”
“Ah, we’d prefer him to ride in back with us if you don’t mind. Scientific courtesy, old man. He needs to be classically de-interviewed after such a find.” I insisted, making certain I stand as tall, wide, and menacing as possible while smiling like a damned Cheshire cat, one smoking a very large cigar.
“Very well. We are not far from our evening stop. We can talk later.” He agreed.
We all moseyed, laughing silently, back to the bus; literally supporting our young hero Mr. Myung-dae as he seemed to have gone all wobbly of late.
Myung-dae was ashen-white. He looked like he had just given birth to a basketball. He was visibly shaking.
We get on the bus and I whip up a stout Yorshch for the young hero of the hour.
“Here! This is for you. If you’re going to be a world-class geologist, you’d damn sure better start acting like one.” I smile broadly.
There were hoots, cheers, and cat-calls.
Beers were popped, bottles uncorked; cigars, cigarettes, and pipes lit.
“Damn Skippy!” some anonymous reveler added.
Myung-dae slurped a good half the drink. I offered him a cigar. He stopped shaking enough to accept the novel offer.
Remember “crawlin’ home puker”? He’s taken his first step into a larger world.
OK, just to recap. Here are the dramatis personae left on the bus…
Bus driver (Kim) and his relief (Won).
My team and I. That’s 11 Western geoscientists: Morse, Cliff, Volna, Ack, Viv, Graco, Erlen, Dr. Academician Ivan, Joon, Dax, and myself.
Then there are our guides: Yuk, No, Man, and Kong.
Our stowaway hero geologist-in-training: Myung-dae Soo, aka, “Mung”.
And the four members of the shiny suit clan: Pak, Mak, Tak, and Jak. At least, that’s the names we used when we addressed them.
The bus was rumbling down the deserted highway. We were headed more or less due east, passing the occasional Potemkin Village. They knew we cracked their code long ago, so they didn’t bother with darkening the windows any longer.
We are passing a series of highway road cut outcrops. We’re only going approximately 35 or 40 miles per hour. Suddenly, Morse jumps out of his seat and runs up to the driver.
“STOP! STOP! Back up! We almost missed it!” he barks in heavily Russian inflected English.
The driver, shaken to the core, just slams on the brakes. The bus grinds to a stop. Good thing there’s no traffic out here.
Or anywhere else, for that matter.
Jak of the suit clan jumps up and asks “What is the problem?”
“How could you miss that?” Morse shouts. “Huge fault. Mineralization. I saw that from a glimpse. We must return to investigate.”
“Is not possible. We have appointment at the hotel.” Jak replies.
“Fuck that!”, Morse shouts. I guess he’s just really into faults…
I wander up and try to defuse the situation.
“OK, guys, cool out. Let’s be reasonable. Do it our way. Go back to that road cut. We spend a half-hour there then we go on to the hotel. The hotel will still be there when we arrive, won’t it? Even if we’re a bit late?” I ask.
Jak looks to Pak, who converses with Mak and Tak. They know they’re outgunned.
The driver shifts the bus into reverse and we back down the luckily deserted highway over a mile to the outcrop in question.
We had to admit, it was a mother beautiful normal fault. In perfect, textbook cross-section.
Morse and Joon were on it like white on rice; given the mineralization along the fault plane. All sorts of implications for the thermal and geological history of the area. But with just one exposure like this, more or less just a real interesting geo-oddity.
We spent precisely 30 minutes at the exposure, and when our handlers requested we re-board and head to the motel, we complied like nice, normal sort of folks.
I believe the appropriate maxim here is: “Lull them into a false sense of security…”
Once more down the road we travel. Beers popped, bottles uncorked; you know, the usual.
Forty-five minutes later, we pull into, I kid you not, a replica US of A 1950s Motor-Inn.
“Mr. Myung”, I ask, “What the hell is this?”
To be continued…
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South Point Casino Hotel Las Vegas Walk Around - June 1 ...

Welcome back to Vegas! This is the South Point Casino Hotel at 9777 S. Las Vegas boulevard, a few miles south of the Las Vegas strip. It boasts a 24 story ho... Took a walk thru Michael Gaughan's South Point located on the south end of the Las Vegas Strip. The Andalusion World Cup Horse Competition is an annual event... We decided to go off the Las Vegas strip for dinner. We're having dinner at Garden Buffet inside the South Point Hotel And Casino. Because of the pandemic th... Today we wonder about South Point Hotel and Casino on Las Vegas Blvd. South Point is another off the strip option with lots of food choices. Even though it i... The South Point Las Vegas hotel and room walkthrough might just surprise you, the small casino located on the very south end of Las Vegas boulevard and the s... The South Point Hotel and Casino consists of a 25 story hotel tower and 90,000 square feet (8,400 m2) convention center located on a 60 acres (24 ha) site along Las Vegas Boulevard in Enterprise ... Walk with us and explore The South Point Casino & Buffett. Camera link - https://amzn.to/2ITp6in THANKS for watching. #LiLV - Living in Las Vegas Please subs... South Point Hotel Casino and Spa details: The South Point Hotel and Casino comprises of a 25-story inn tower and 90,000 square feet (8,400 m2) tradition focu...

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