DEMOCRATS.COM'S TROOP NEWS
Compiled by Cheryl Seal
As a thankyou to US troops around the world for your ongoing sacrifices and hard work, we will be presenting a special "news log" for our troops and their families, which will appear on Saturdays, hopefully in a regular manner.
US Field Artillery Unit Pitch in to Help Save School for Severely Disabled Iraqi Children
by John Koopman, San Francisco Chronicle
It's moving day at the Dina Institute.
A big, green U.S. Army truck pulls up to the curb. Soldiers in full battle dress -- helmets, body armor, automatic weapons -- jump out and start loading the truck like college students moving into a new dorm.
They file into a small, cramped concrete-and-tile house. In the rooms, children of various ages and infirmities sit, stand or crawl. The children have Down syndrome, cerebral palsy and a host of other developmental disabilities. Army Capt. Evans Hanson, from a nearby field artillery unit, spots a young man walking in a sideways, awkward gait and extends a hand.
"Hi, buddy. Remember me?"
The boy smiles and offers his hand for a limp shake.
The soldiers are here to move the institute to a new home more than twice as big, in a nicer neighborhood, with no rent. The Army's good deed might just keep the Dina Institute afloat.The private school cares for more than 60 children, all of whom have slight to severe disabilities. Some live there, others come for the day. There are far too many children, but the headmistress, Inam Jawad, can't say no.
"It's very difficult for these children in Iraq, if they have no place to go," she said through an interpreter.
The institute was on the verge of collapse a couple of months ago, with too many children and rent three months overdue. The prospect of sending children home or closing altogether loomed.
Then soldiers from Alpha Battery of the 3rd Battalion, 82nd Field Artillery, knocked at the door.
The unit commander, Capt. Mike Burgoyne, had heard about the institute from local leaders and decided to check it out. Jawad told him the institute had no money, and food was scarce. They had had no meat for more than a month.
Moved to action by what he had witnessed, Burgoyne worked with Hanson, the battalion's civil affairs officer, to tap the Army's civil affairs funds and give the institute $3,000. They brought a pallet loaded with food and supplies....
Doomed Pilots Make Heroic Effort to Save Villagers' Lives as Their Plane Goes Down in So. Korea
Stars and Stripes: ASAN, South Korea : It was around 2:30 p.m. last Aug. 12, a clear day, when rice farmer Chang Yong-geun heard the loud impact and rushed outside.
A small U.S. Army aircraft, a C-12 Huron, already reportedly in flames on its way down, had plunged into a small rice plot and broken into pieces. Part of the aircraft ended up yards over in a second small rice field, one very near Chang's reddish brick house.
Wednesday, the pilots' immediate families and former unit gathered near the shade of a large tree about 70 yards from the accident site for a short, simple memorial service for Capt. Kevin M. Norman, 30, and Chief Warrant Officer David W. Snow, 37, two Army aviators killed in what had been a routine training flight.
And because Chang and many others in this small rural community about 20 minutes from Camp Humphreys agree with the Army that the pilots, knowing they were going to crash, made a special effort to try to steer the plane away from buildings and people, about 40 village residents, including the local vice mayor, braved the afternoon heat to attend the service.
Each pilot's widow was presented a plaque of "meritorious service" from Asan city officials. The plaques honor each pilot for steering "his malfunctioning aircraft away from a crowded restaurant during his last few moments of flight."
Speaking through an interpreter just before the ceremony, Asan Vice Mayor Kim Young-ho told Stars and Stripes that local residents turned out to honor the pilots because, "they understand the pilots tried not to damage any local residents" or buildings. The residents credit the pilots with acting in a "spirit of sacrifice to protect others," Kim said.
Mindanaon Villagers Have Trouble Accepting Help from Well-meaning US Troops
Minda News: "Fewer villagers than expected sought medical and dental civic action jointly initiated today by Filipino and American soldiers here, a fact which barangay chairman Guinaed Dalid attributed to his constituents' alleged ignorance and their fears that the Americans were bringing medicines laced with poison despite assurance from village leaders and municipal health employees.
"Matakot na masaktan kung Amerikano gumamot ibang gamot ang ibigay sa kanila ba, matakot sila mamatay. Ignorante ba talaga ba. (They are afraid the Americans will harm them by giving medicines that will kill them. They are really ignorant)," he said.
He said the reaction also betrayed the sharp divisions between the pre-dominantly Maguindanao Moro residents here, most of whom are members of his clan, and the neighboring communities over the presence of US troops here.[what's really sad about this story is that the US troops are doing more for these poor villagers - at least trying to - than the US corporations who exploit areas like this ever dreamed of doing.]
COMMANDING OFFICERS AND LEADERS BEHAVING BADLY
Abu Ghraib Report: More Lies and Whitewash that is Leaving the Good Guys at the Pentagon Seething
London Telegraph: "Critics are arguing that [the Abu Ghraib Report's] final conclusions, some of which were leaked last week to the Baltimore Sun, amount to a deliberate cover-up to protect senior military and civilian figures in the Pentagon.The report will call for disciplinary procedures to be launched against up to two dozen military intelligence officers." Rumsfeld has slithered off the hook, even tho' there is direct evidence he authorised the use of "dogs, food deprivation and sleep deprivation"."This is a whitewash - a carefully orchestrated one," said one lawyer. "People in the Pentagon have been coming to me in a fury because of the way this has been handled. By naming military intelligence officials as well as the seven military police who have been charged, it will look like action has been taken. But basically it's still the same storyline of just a few bad apples, way down the food chain." Typical Bush - let the little guys pay for your sins.
Tribal Leaders in Afghanistan Rip Off US Vehicles and Gear
Stars and Stripes: "Lt. Col. Scott McBride was suspicious of Abdul Ghani from the very beginning. Ghani had been nominated by the governor of southern Afghanistan's Zabul province to lead a district north of Qalat in an area known as the Kaki-Afghan Valley. In a gathering of regional leaders a few months ago, Ghani stood up alongside the newly selected police chief for the district denouncing the Taliban and swearing allegiance to Hamid Karzai's central government in Kabul. "They said all the right things," said McBride, commander of the 25th Infantry Division's 2nd Battalion, 35th Infantry Division, which is responsible for providing security for the area. Despite the pledge, McBride said he wasn't so sure..."
US Soldiers Forced to Stay Away from Humanitarian Mission
Sun Star Davao: "The American soldiers were a no-show during Wednesday's conduct of humanitarian mission in Barangay Ranzo. Some of the members of the media where baffled why the American soldiers participating in the RP-US Military Exercises were not present during the humanitarian mission that served hundreds of residents of the village, some nine kms from the town proper.
The military, however, quickly dismissed speculations about the American soldiers' failure [yeah right! As if it were the SOLDIERS' fault!] to attend the activity, which is another important component of the military exercises dubbed as Balance Piston 04-03.
Col. Isagani Cachuela, chief of the Army's 602nd Infantry Battalion, said the Americans just wanted their Filipino counterparts to spearhead the activity although the foreign contingent shouldered all the expenses for the mission, amounting to $10,000. [Maybe Col Cachuela had a golf game he didn't want to miss that day! Meanwhile, US soldiers again miss out on a chance to do what they would do quite well if their "leaders" didn't get in the way: build bridges of goodwill].
Military Brass Tries to Block Troops from Seeing 'Fahrenheit 9/11' '
Xinhuanet reports: "Distributors of the popular US anti-war documentary "Fahrenheit 9/11" accused the US Army of stonewalling efforts to show the film at military bases. The Fellowship Adventure Group, IFC Films and Lions Gate Films said the organization in charge of booking films for 160 US military base theaters was obviously stonewalling because the film is anti-war themed. "We have made all requested materials available to them, but unfortunately, a commitment to show the film has not been made," a Lions Gate spokeswoman said. They noted that the army usually quickly booked a film that has been very successful at the box office. "Fahrenheit 9/11" has grossed over 113 million US dollars so far at domestic box offices. "
Air Force Cuts Drug Benefits at Base Pharmacies
Tom Philpott Stars and Stripes: "Phyllis Ramm, wife of an Air Force retiree, got a surprise Aug. 7 when she called the Keesler Air Force Base pharmacy to refill routine prescriptions. She learned that some popular brand-name drugs no longer would be dispensed on base, after patients get a final 30-day supply.
The Air Force directed its 74 pharmacies in July to drop Allegra, for allergy relief, and Celebrex, for arthritis pain, from their formulary, and to recommend instead lower-cost alternatives of equal effectiveness.
Patients using Allegra, a non-drowsy antihistamine, can take a generic form of Claritin instead, said Maj. Gen. Joseph E. Kelley, Air Force assistant surgeon general, in a July memo to commands. Users of Celebrex and Bextra, "inhibitors" for arthritis, should switch to Vioxx. Patients using the insulin Humalog should be offered Novolog instead.
The changes, meant to control spiraling drug costs without sacrificing patient care, reflect "an extremely challenging budget year for the Air Force Medical Service," said Kelley.
The change also upset some patients, including Phyllis Ramm's husband.
"My feeling is that our entitlement, of which pharmaceutical service is a part, is being chipped away," said retired Chief Master Sgt. Charles Ramm, a resident of Gautier, Miss.
Air Force pharmacies are only the first to tighten drug inventories in this way. The Army and Navy are expected to make similar moves this fall, during a more formal process to shape a Uniform Formulary.
BITS N' PIECES
'Somebody' Up there Liked these Guys!: Four US Soldiers Escape Death when Their Copter Crashes and Burns over Japanese Campus
Reuters:"A U.S. military helicopter crashed and burst into flames on the grounds of a university on the southern Japanese island of Okinawa on Friday, injuring three military personnel, but there were no civilian injuries.
The incident, which took place during the summer school vacation, is likely to fan simmering resentment of the U.S. military on Okinawa, which has long felt it bears an unfair burden of hosting U.S. personnel in Japan.
A fire department official in the city of Ginowan said the three injured were believed to be the helicopter's crew. Earlier, the fire department had said four were injured.
Tunes for Troops: US Military to Have Discounted Access to Napster
MacWorld: "Napster is to bring digital music to the US military. Under the deal all branches of the US military, including the Army, Navy, Air Force, Marines and Coast Guard, and retired military personnel and their families, will get access to Napster's catalogue of 750,000 tracks. Napster will offer authorised customers specially discounted rates on its subscription service and download store.
Napster CEO Chris Gorog said: "When we learned of the demand for digital music within the military community, particularly from overseas, we immediately dedicated resources to meeting that need. Whether our military personnel are working on a base overseas or here in the United States, whether they are on active duty or in the reserves, all members of the armed forces and their families can now securely and safely access their favourite music when they want it, wherever they are in the world."
Silver Lining: Suffering in Miserable Heat May Increase Life Expectancy in the Long-term
Several recent studies - and we don't mean the sort you see in Weekly World News! - show that conditions that increased tolerance to heat (as in being subjected to a hot tank in Baghdad for hours at a time) extends life expectancy. Seems that "heat shock proteins," which kick in when you are subjected to high temperatures, undergo changes that also promote extended lifespan.In fact, the drug companies, ever eager to turn a quick buck, are actually trying to turn heat shock proteins into a cancer vaccine. (see http://www.clinicaltrials.gov/ct/show/NCT00030303)
So, as you are sitting there sweating your butt off in the desert, just tell yourself "Aha! I can just feel my heat shock proteins kicking in! If I make it outa here, I'm gonna have the last laugh and outlive Rumsfeld and the rest of the bums that stuck me here!"
Robbing Peter to Pay Paul: Biggest Logistical Undertaking Since Korean War Completed as Miltary Shifts 3,600 Troops from Korea to Iraq
Korean Times: "The U.S. military here ended its 10-day airlift operation on Wednesday to shift its 3,600 frontline troops from the Korean peninsula to Iraq, according to the U.S. Forces Korea on Thursday.
"The final planeload in the airlift of the 2nd Infantry Division's 2nd Brigade Combat Team departed from the U.S. Air Base in Osan, about 70 kilometers south of Seoul, Wednesday morning, to be airlifted to the Middle Eastern gulf nation. The U.S. military has said the operation was one of its biggest logistical undertakings on the peninsula since the 1950-53 Korean War.
"The pullout is part of Washington's new U.S. military strategy known as the Global Defense Posture Review, which calls for a leaner and more flexible overseas troop deployment to better deal with various contingency situations. [Which, of course, is just military brass-D.C. politico speak for "We don't know where the hell we're gonna get enough soldiers to go around without starting a new draft."]
RECOMMENDED READING: 'Lawrence of Arabia's' Seven Pillars of Wisdom
In World War I, Thomas Edward Lawrence, better known as "Lawrence of Arabia" was recruited by the British to try to organize Arab tribesmen into a fighting force that could overthrow the despotic Ottoman Empire (Turks) who ruled most of the Middle East at that time. This book is filled with Lawrence's observations on the triumphs, suffering, betrayals and heartbreaks that went with working, living, and fighting with a people he cared for yet struggled to understand, and trying to bridge the gap between western bureaucracy and the deep-rooted tribal code of life. Lawrence was emotionally tormented, yet still fought, till his death in 1945, to reconcile east in west.
There is, incredibly enough, an online copy of the book: http://etext.library.adelaide.edu.au/l/l42s/
HUMOR, SATIRE AND SPOOFS
Bionic Locusts Swarms Sent to Dafur in Military Experiment
Spoof: "An exercise designed by the US military to stem the violence in Darfur, has millions of locusts organized and in flight, on their way to Sudan. Pest control experts said on Wednesday, "this will be the most violent attack created by humans, and will result in a disaster of biblical proportions."
"When locust swarms do hit, what little security is in place will be devastated by our control operation", Lt. General Mark Toledo said.
"Our swarms should arrive in Sudan any day now, but of course that's classified," said SMSgt. Cleveland Potts, senior officer in charge of the locust group at the Anwar Sadat Air Base in Egypt.
"The military is working with Sudanese rebels to overthrow the Arab militia, and had been in contact with the authorities in Sudan. Our coordinators in Cairo are working with the countries around the Red Sea to get as prepared as possible for an invasion from the west," he said. SMSgt. Potts said, He had no information to suggest locusts had already swept into Sudan, but a pest control expert in the region said they may have already hit their targets".
The study of locust and their value to war began with experiments in the early 1990's. At top secret laboratories in Southern Carolina, researchers experimented with implanting nanotechnology into locust. Dr. Karl Mannheim stated, "We used small pumps to drive their cellular activity, creating super locust, if you will. Our big breakthrough came after we had implanted tiny nano-chips in their brains and learned we could control their flight. After that experiment, we applied for a military grant".
"At present, we have indications that swarms of locust are devastating neighboring Chad, and may be slightly off course," SMSgt. Potts said. "We may have also affected Sudan's western region of Darfur, but we'll have to wait for the next satellite pass for recon photos.
US Military Clears A-Team of Charges
The Onion: WASHINGTON, DC: "After more than 30 years spent hiding in the Los Angeles underground as wanted criminals, the members of the crack commando unit Alpha Team, commonly known as the A-Team, were cleared of all charges brought against them by the U.S. military, an army official announced Monday.
"In 1972, we arrested the members of the A-Team for a crime they swore they didn't commit," Gen. Stephen Lupo said. "They broke out of our maximum-security stockade, and from that moment forth, I thought of nothing but their recapture. However, a recent audit of their file has revealed that the arrest of the Alpha Force members was made in error. The U.S. military deeply regrets the mistake."
According to Lupo, the A-Team members' exoneration will occur before the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Armed Forces on Aug. 24.
Just hours after Lupo's announcement was made, Cpt. H.M. "Howlin' Mad" Murdock, the A-Team's pilot, resurfaced to speak with journalist Amy Allen, who often reported on the mercenaries' charitable acts.
"For decades, we've been forced to live in the shadows," Murdock said. "Somehow, we always found a way to help people who had nowhere else to turn, but we operated under the constant threat of recapture. Finally, the nightmare is over."
Idiot Terrorist Threatens to Behead Self with Broomstick if US Fails to Withdraw Troops
WASHINGTON -- "Go for it" President Bush said on Meet the Press this morning. "Idiot. Go for it". Islamic extremist Abdul Musab al-Lebe yesterday released a video tape showing himself in a darkened room warning that if the United States did not immediately withdraw all forces from all foreign soils he would behead himself with a broom stick on live video tape.
Al Jazeera network says they received the initial tape yesterday morning and immediately broadcast it before it was even fully unwrapped. Said station director Sahi Malu-sei, "We pride ourselves on offering our viewers the news AS it happens if not before."
State Department officials say that they will in all probability NOT withdraw all American forces world wide and that Mr al-Lebe unfortunately will have to simply "do what he feels must be done."