TROOP NEWS for September 5-11
Compiled by Cheryl Seal
Endangered Shore Bird Makes a Comeback Thanks to US Marines
North Country Times
"A tiny gray and white bird with a splash of yellow on its belly, and a song characterized by notes going up and down a scale, is making a comeback after almost being driven out of California two decades ago.
If the trend continues, the health of the least Bell's vireo population could improve within a decade to the point that the bird could be taken off the federal endangered species list, said Loren Hays, a biologist with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service's office in Carlsbad, in an interview Thursday.
The songbird's population had dwindled to perilously low numbers by the 1980s. There were just 300 known adult male birds left in California when the least Bell's vireo was listed as a federally protected, endangered species in 1986, Hays said. The number of adult males has rebounded to about 2,000 this year.
The improving condition of the species is something that environmental groups are closely monitoring."That's really heartening, especially in this day and age, when we are trying to defend the Endangered Species Act," said Monica Bond, a biologist for the Center for Biological Diversity in Idyllwild. "The least Bell's vireo is definitely an indicator species for the health of our riparian areas."
Two of the biggest chapters of the success story are in Riverside and San Diego counties. In 1986, a mere 19 males were counted in the Santa Ana River-Prado Basin area near Corona, which is thick with the willow trees and mulefat bushes that the bird prefers. About 50 miles to the south, there were only about 60 males living along the willow-lined streams of Camp Pendleton Marine Corps Base.
Both of those areas are now hot spots for the least Bell's vireo.
The Prado population has soared to 700 males and the Pendleton population has increased to 800, Hays said. On the base, the birds have been found along the San Mateo, San Onofre, De Luz, Horno, Piedra de Lumbre, Las Flores, Fallbrook, Pilgrim and Cristianitos creeks. More than 400 live on the Santa Margarita River, most on the base but some upstream in Southwest Riverside County.
"They're pretty proud of that, the Marines are, and well they should be," Hayes said. "They've done some major conservation efforts there."
Selfless Army Medic, Father of Five, Dies during Second Iraq Tour
The Clarion-Ledger of Mississippi: "Ross Holleyman, a pastor and high school teacher, has spoken at many funerals. But, he said, it felt odd looking out over the congregation Tuesday. Staring back at him were his own relatives and friends. Holleyman took a deep breath and began to speak at the service for his son.
Staff Sgt. [and medic] Aaron Holleyman, 26, was killed Aug. 30 when his Army convoy came under attack in Iraq. He is the 17th Mississippian to die in Iraq.
In August 2003, Holleyman, a medic, joined the 5th Special Forces Group based in Fort Campbell, Ky., leaving his wife and five children back home. His comrades were impressed by his calm demeanor and said he seemed to have experience beyond his years.
Normally, there are two medics in a company. Aaron was our only one," said Sgt. 1st Class Joe Briscoe, who served with Holleyman. "It was an awesome task to be placed on someone." Briscoe said it was Holleyman who treated his wounds after an attack.
"I was hurt, and I was looking up at Aaron while I was on a gurney," Briscoe said, fighting back tears. "He told me, 'You're going to be OK, Joe.' He put me at ease. It was a comfort to have him there...We lost a truly tremendous soldier, and that is hard to replace," he said.
Waid Prather, a family friend, said Holleyman did not have to return to Iraq after being injured last November. He was in a crash in Iraq and saved another soldier's life. After being decorated with the Purple Heart and Bronze Star, he returned to Iraq in July.
"We're all thankful for (Aaron's) willingness to put his life on the line and for the sacrifice he has made," said his uncle, Eric Holleyman.
Beating Swords into Plowshares: University of Kansas Agricultural College Start Five-Year Exchange Program with Agriculture Program in Baghdad
Witchita Eagle: "A low-profile visit to Wichita and other parts of Kansas by a group of Iraqi educators has led to an agreement between Kansas State University and the University of Baghdad. The five-year pact calls for the two schools to share information related to agriculture and education, and possibly exchange faculty and students in the future.
Neither the three-week visit, which took place last month, nor the agreement would likely have taken place while Saddam Hussein was in power. "Part of what needs to be rebuilt (in Iraq) is ties with other faculty around the world," said Steven Graham, the assistant to the dean of K-State's College of Agriculture who coordinated the visit. "Most of them haven't been out of the country for quite a number of years."
"We are so far behind," Fadhil Al-Sahaf, assistant dean for the College of Agriculture at the University of Baghdad, said in a news release distributed by K-State.
With Al-Sahaf were Mohammed Salman, head of the Baghdad university's horticulture department; Riad Abdul-Latiff, a civil engineer in the agriculture college; and Atheer Kassab, head of the college of veterinary medicine. The University of Baghdad has about 4,000 undergraduate and 400 graduate students. Graham said he decided not to publicize the Iraqis' visit until it was over because he "just wasn't sure how things would be perceived and what they would be like." By all accounts, it went well.
In the Wichita area, the Iraqis visited Botanica, the Sedgwick County Extension Service office, Wyldewood Cellars, the John C. Pair Horticultural Center and Sedgwick County Zoo.They also spent time on K-State's Manhattan campus and looked at food crops around the state. Pat McKernan, garden supervisor at Botanica, said the Iraqis "were impressed with several of our plants, which they said were native to Iraq," including weeping willows. The two horticulturists wanted to stay longer but they were on a pretty tight schedule.
John Brewer, owner of Wyldewood Cellars, said the Iraqis are interested in grapes and elderberries, both of which he grows. Although most Iraqis are Muslim and do not consume wine, the crops could be used to produce juice, he said. One of the Iraqis who is not Muslim tried Wyldewood's wine and liked it, Brewer said.
"They were nice guys, just like any other college group that would come through," he said.
OFFICERS AND LEADERS BEHAVING BADLY
Oil-Driven Coup Plot in Africa Engineered and Funded by British Aristocrats Foiled
Once again....it's all about the oil! In the mid-1990s, an incredibly vast reserve of oil was discovered in Equatorial Guinea. Now a plot to try to topple the country's government and put in a UK-friendly puppet was discovered - and you'll never guess who was allegedly funding the operation (or at least operating as chief money launderer):The son of former British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher! The point man for the operations was Simon Mann, a British aristocrat and former special forces officer. Now the big question is - who was BEHIND Thatcher and Mann? My guess is BP or Shell. Here are two stories on the caseL
Former UK Special Forces Officer Sentenced to Seven Years for Attempted Coup in Equatorial Guinea
AP via Seattle Post-Intelligencer: " Former British special forces soldier Simon Mann, the alleged leader of a foiled coup plot in oil-rich Equatorial Guinea, was sentenced Friday to seven years in prison for trying to buy weapons from Zimbabwe's state arms manufacturer.
Magistrate Mishrod Guvamombe handed down the sentences in a makeshift courthouse inside the Chikurubi maximum-security prison near Harare where Mann and other accused mercenaries have been detained since their March 7 arrest.
Most were taken into custody after their Boeing 727 landed at the Harare International Airport during what prosecutors say was a plot to stage a coup in oil-rich west African nation of Equatorial Guinea - a scandal that also has implicated Mark Thatcher, the son of former British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher. Mark Thatcher, a neighbor of Mann's in an upscale suburb of Cape Town, South Africa, is accused of helping to finance the alleged plot.
Former British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher's Son Implicated in African Coup
International Herald Tribune: "Mark Thatcher has been subpoenaed to appear before a South African magistrate to answer questions related to his alleged financing of a failed coup in Equatorial Guinea, a lawyer said Wednesday [9/8]. .Equatorial Guinea had submitted questions it wanted put to Thatcher, the son of Margaret Thatcher, the former British prime minister. Mark Thatcher, who is free on bail, is to appear on Sept. 22, said his lawyer, Alan Bruce-Brand. He is charged with violating the Foreign Military Assistance Act.
Mark Thatcher has been subpoenaed to appear before a South African magistrate to answer questions related to his alleged financing of a failed coup in Equatorial Guinea, a lawyer said Wednesday.
Equatorial Guinea had submitted questions it wanted put to Thatcher, the son of Margaret Thatcher, the former British prime minister. Mark Thatcher, who is free on bail, is to appear on Sept. 22, said his lawyer, Alan Bruce-Brand. He is charged with violating the Foreign Military Assistance Act.
Acting Like a Mafia Don, Dick Cheney Tries to Scare Americans into Voting for Bush
Even conservative news sources were stunned by the outrageous statement made by Dick Cheney that if Americans voted the "wrong way" - ie, not for him and Bush - that American might get hit by a big terrorist attack. While most folks found this statement disgusting (the NY Times called it "disgraceful") because of its over-the-top efforts to exploit terror for votes, I found it scary for another reason. Why? Because Dick Cheney's ability to "engineer" a terrorist attack simply by ignoring warnings (just as I believe he and Bush did in 2001) makes the possibility of a "revenge" attack (revenge by Bush/Cheney, not terrorists) between November 2 and January frighteningly real.
NY Times Editorial via IHT:
Friday, September 10, 2004
"There are some things a presidential campaign should steer clear of, through innate good taste, prudence or just a sensible fear of a voter backlash. We'd have thought that both the Kerry and Bush camps would instinctively know that it would be appalling to suggest that terrorists were rooting for one side or another in this race. But Vice President Dick Cheney seemed to breach that unspoken barrier this week in Des Moines, Iowa. If John Kerry was elected president, Cheney warned the crowd, "the danger is that we'll get hit again." In a long, rather rambling statement, he said the United States might then fall back into a "pre-9/11 mind-set" that "these terrorist attacks are just criminal acts." At the very best, Cheney was speaking loosely and carelessly about the area in this campaign that deserves the most careful and serious discussion. It sounds to us more likely that he stepped across a line that the Bush campaign team had flirted with throughout its convention, telling his audience that re-electing the president would be the only way to stay safe from another attack.
There is a danger that America will be hit again no matter who is elected president this November, as President George W. Bush himself has said on many occasions. The danger might be a bit less if the current administration had chosen to spend less on tax cuts for the wealthy and more on protecting ports, securing nuclear materials in Russia and keeping better track of people who enter the country from abroad.
Immigration and homeland security are policy fights, fair game for a political campaign. What's totally unacceptable is to tell the American people that the mere act of voting for your opponent opens the door to a terrorist attack. For Cheney to suggest that is flat wrong. There was a time when elected officials knew how to separate the position from the person. The American people, we're sure, would like to return to it.
24 American Soldiers Competed in the Olympics in a Tradition Begun by Patton
Twenty-four Americans in uniform are competing in the Athens Olympics, according to the Department of Defence. The Army has sent four shooters, two modern pentathletes, a race walker, a rower, a wrestler, a marathoner who may double in the 10,000 meters, a boxing head coach, a Greco-Roman wrestling coach, a rifle coach, and a gunsmith. The Air Force has three Olympic athletes: a hammer thrower, a race walker, and a fencer. There is one Navy rower on US team. The Department said: "American tradition of soldier-athletes participating in the Olympics began with George Patton in 1912, and since then, American soldiers have captured 131 Olympic medals."
Poetry in Wartime
"Over 100 libraries and community groups across North America will commemorate 9/11 with an advance screening of a remarkable new documentary film -- POETRY IN WARTIME. This feature-length film looks at war through images and the words of poets -- unknown and world-famous -- to bring the experience of war into sharp focus. Soldiers, journalists, historians and experts on combat provide diverse perspectives on war's effects on soldiers, civilians and society.
"This film aims to change the way we all look at the phenomenon of war," said Director Rick King. "It uses powerful poetry and compelling stories to distill the emotional essence of war. The movie communicates a very clear lesson -- in war, everyone pays a price. The poetry balances the terrible reality of war with a humanity that put the experience into a context. The movie seemed an effective way to communicate important truths about war -- a topic of vital importance in the 21st century," King added.
The film has a global scope, with participants ranging from the Superintendent of West Point to long-time peace advocate, Jonathan Schell
Tolkien's Inspiration for Lord of the Rings: Working thru Horror of War, Deaths of Comrades
From Tolkien Biography: "[Tolkien] was sent to the Western Front, just before the Battle of the Somme. After four months of horror in the trenches of the Somme, he caught trench-fever (fortunately for him), and was returned to England. Most of the friends he had formed at University [who also went to war] did not return. recovered and stayed with wife Edith at Great Haywood in Staffordshire. Here, Tolkien began to write what was to become the Silmarillion, which was to serve as a framework for the some of the ideas in The Lord of The Rings. Part of his motivation was a need to do something for all the friends he had lost. He says that he had an ambition to write a "Mythology of England"
Vets - as in Veterinarians - Keep Food and Water Safe for Troops
Napoleon Bonaparte first noted that an Army moves on its stomach. But that Army isn't likely to do much moving -- except maybe to the latrine or hospital -- if its chow happens to be infected with a waterborne bacteria or pathogen. Ensuring that doesn't happen is the job of the Defense Department's Veterinary Food Analysis and Diagnostic Laboratory at Fort Sam Houston, Texas.
The lab analyzes food bound for troops in Iraq, Afghanistan and elsewhere around the world, as well as military dining facilities, commissaries, exchanges, clubs, and other outlets, to ensure it's free of pathogens, heavy metals and chemical contamination. Col. Les Huck, the lab's director, said these threats could quickly put troops out of commission -- something he acknowledges terrorists understand and could easily take advantage of -- without proper safeguards.
Staci Mitchell, a microbiological lab technician at Fort Sam Houston who also served as a technician at Veterinary Lab Europe in Landstuhl while on active duty, said the procedures in place "give me immense confidence in the safety of the food" the troops and their families receive.
HOT TIP! How to Make a Solar Cooker
Here's some information that many Afghan and Iraqi families who are without electricity, gas, or wood for cooking would probably appreciate having passed on. There may not be enough electricity and wood to go around in particularly hard hit areas in Afghanistan and Iraqi, but there is plenty of sunlight.
Solar cookers made out of various scrap materials have been successfully created in many remote settings where cooking fuel is hard to come by. The more "sophisticated" ones are made out of metal and mirror pieces and look like wacky satellite dishes. This one is a real down and dirty version made out of cardboard and aluminum foil. Maybe some ambitious soldier with extra time on their hands can try it out. If it works, who knows, maybe you can go into business! There's probably a big demand out there in the boonie villages.
Bush Ranch in Crawford Raided, Huge Marijuana Growing Operation Revealed
Local law enforcement officers seized a large quantity of marijuana from the ranch owned by President George W. Bush. In an early morning raid, undercover officers swooped into the old ranch house, which was being used to grow hundreds of marijuana plants. Sheriff Culpepper said, "This is a shame! George W. Bush may be President, but that doesn't give him the right to break the law. He even had DEA officers standing guard around the place, but we knew what was going on in there---you could just smell all that weed from a mile away! We confiscated hundreds of pot plants to use as evidence and then just piled up and burned all the rest." More....
Bin Laden Slams US Pilots for Unnecessary Carpet Bombing While He's Trying to Bake Souffles and Watch TV
Osama bin Laden has slammed US pilots who have been carpet bombing near his cave. In a tape forwarded to Al Jazeera, bin Laden says that it is pointless taking out a contract for cable TV, if he is unable to get a clear picture.
Bin Laden went on to say that while he appreciates that the US Forces may well be looking for enemy troops, he must be allowed full enjoyment of his cave. He said he was planning to bring this up at the next meeting of the Cave Body Corporate.
It is unacceptable he told Al Jazeera viewers, when one has a souffle baking in the oven, fresh goats milk in hand and "Sex in the City", just starting, when an almighty series of explosion completely distorts your picture and collapses the souffle.
"I'd be lying if I told you I could get a decent picture at any time during the show. I mean what is the point in having over a hundred channels if a picture of snow would have the equivalent entertainment value."
Transvestites go down fighting in elephant polo match
Snoring Dog Evicted from Apartment
Playboy Does Spread of Video Game Cuties
Sebian Politician's Son Launches a 'Don't Vote for My Dad' Campaign'
(Now why didn't Jenna and Barbara think of this??
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