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Wednesday, November 30, 2005

Kelsey's Story

I'm a little slow on the uptake with this one, but I hope it's a case of better late than never.

Click on the picture to be taken to "Lost in Lima Ohio," where you can read the story of Kelsey Briggs, the daughter of a Hero, murdered because no one would step in and stop the abuse she endured.

This beautiful happy little girl was stolen from her family, by the hands of her stepfather. Allegations of abuse while her father was away serving our county in Iraq went unheard. After being removed from the home she shared with her mother and step father- amid the numerous allegations, she was returned to the very people responsible now for her death. It wasn't just a tragic death, it was a preventable horrifying act. A brave soldier fighting for his country returned home to this. That is no welcome for any of our heros.

It's not a pleasant story. It will make you sad, angry, and likely nauseous. But it needs to be told.

Hopefully, it will also make you motivated to express your feelings to those who are charged with finally bringing Kelsey some justice (links are at the referenced post).

There is just no way to excuse this, and no reason that ANY child should be so abandoned by a system that should have been protecting her.

UPDATE: Be sure to read the comment to this post left by Kelsey's grandmother, who passed along her thanks to those getting word out about this story.

Staff Sergeants Jeffrey and Joseph Langella are brothers serving on recruiting duty at Marine Corps Recruiting Station Portsmouth, N.H. Jeff is the staff noncommissioned officer-in-charge of Recruiting Substation Southern Maine and Joe is the staff noncommissioned officer-in-charge of RSS Brockton. Mass. Both are New England natives born and raised in South Portland, Maine.Photo by: Staff Sgt. Ken Tinnin

Received by Soldiers' Angels

To Whom It May Concern:

My name is Suzette Boler and I am the proud wife of a dedicated soldier in the United States Army. My husband was recently deployed to Iraq, with 18 months to serve.

My reason for writing this letter is to request that you use whatever political power at your disposal to provide our government with, and pass a bill, that would protect our military families during deployments and homecomings in regards to employers, just like that of our Family Leave Act.

I was fired from my job for taking 4 unpaid days off to be with my husband before he left. In my case the 4 days had been approved in writing and then, at the last minute, taken away. I was called at home and fired less then 24 hours after his departure.

The pain of deployment endured by our soldiers and their families is great. To have to worry about losing a job for taking the time needed to spend with a loved one is too much to ask of our military families. I believe that passing a bill of this nature is not too much to ask of our government. It is a request worthy of the men and women who put their lives on the line to protect the very companies that would terminate their loved ones for wanting to be with them before they leave or when they return.

Having been through the pain of being fired for this very reason, I have had the opportunity during my ordeal to speak with many military families that have brought up this very issue. The men and women serving in our military should not have to try to do their dangerous jobs while thinking about how their families are making it back home. I would like to believe that the majority of employers are not like my former employer. Unfortunately from what I'm hearing there are enough of them to warrant action being taken.

With no end in sight for our military being deployed overseas it makes this is a very important issue to our military families. I addressed this letter to "Whom It May Concern". If it has found it's way into your hands I hope you are one of the "Concerned." Please, do not put this on the back burner we need this bill now.


Suzette Boler
Caledonia, MI

UPDATE: Contacting the members of Congress, the President, the VP, or your state legislators is easy; for a one-stop-shopping website on how to do that, go here:
Al Asad, Iraq (Nov. 27, 2005) - U.S. Navy Petty Officer 1st Class Cornett, an explosive ordnance technician checks to make sure the rounds are 37MM AAA after removing them from in a hole hidden in the side of the ridgeline on Al Asad Air Base, Iraq. U.S. Marine Corps photo by Capt. Howard G. Mariott

Positive News? Can't Have That!

Peruse the news today, and you just may come across this story -

U.S. military secretly pays Iraqi newspapers for running stories trumpeting U.S. mission

Now, this looks bad, doesn't it - unless you have half a brain, of course, and can deconstruct the ever-present negativity in the mainstream press. It's from the Los Angeles Times, via the Seattle Times. Interesting note here; the L.A. Times' title for the same story on their site is "U.S. Paying Iraqi Press to Run Favorable Stories"). Anyone remember that "telephone" game...? By the time it gets across the country to the Washington Post, it will likely read, "U.S. Demands Iraqi Press Cover-Ups."

At any rate, the story requires some translation, and I don't want you to miss one absolutely inspiring word, so here goes:

What it says:
The articles, written by U.S. military "information operations" troops, are translated into Arabic and placed in Baghdad newspapers with the help of a defense contractor, according to U.S. military officials and documents obtained by the Los Angeles Times.

Department of Defense stories authorized for public release are translated so Iraqis can read them, but the U.S. is a little busy what with the war and all, so they hired a translator. We spent a whole lot of time and effort finding that out - aren't you impressed?

What it says:
While the articles are basically truthful, they present only one side of events and omit information that might reflect poorly on the U.S. or Iraqi governments, officials said. Records and interviews indicate that the U.S. has paid Iraqi newspapers to run dozens of such articles — with headlines such as "Iraqis Insist on Living Despite Terrorism" — since the effort began this year.

OK, unfortunately for us, the U.S. and Coalition troops actually ARE winning this thing, but we'd much rather present negative information that creates an impression that the war is being lost, and dammit, they should, too! In fact, we're relatively sure we'd burst into flames if we said anything good about the war - and we're not taking any chances. And come on - they're presenting information that implies that the terrorists aren't completely running the show - we can't have that. It's as bad as that Iraq War Today blog presenting links to DoD and Centcom press releases!

What it says:
The military's effort to disseminate propaganda in the Iraqi media is taking place even as U.S. officials are vowing to promote democratic principles, political transparency and freedom of speech to a country emerging from decades of dictatorship and corruption. It comes as the State Department is training Iraqi reporters in basic journalism skills and Western media ethics, including one workshop titled "The Role of Press in a Democratic Society."

OK, let's get this straight:
Propaganda: anything that is positive, patriotic, or supports our troops.
News: anything that is negative, anti-American, or trashes our troops.

Come on, people - haven't you learned anything?

And in addition to presenting the positive elements of the U.S. and Coalition presence, which people certainly wouldn't hear about watching Al-Jazeerah, they're actually trying to teach responsible journalism! How dare they?!

Sometimes, I really think my head is in danger of exploding when I read the news.
Trick Pony brings season's greetings to troops
TURKEY (AFPN) -- From left to right, Ira Dean, Heidi Newfield, John Popper and Keith Burns thank the troops. Trick Pony, country music award winners, join up with Blues Traveler's John Popper to entertain U.S. troops in Germany, Turkey, and forward operating bases in Southwest Asia, with a final stop at Keflivik, Iceland. (U.S. Air Force photo by Ken Hackman)

Gift-Giving Rules for Troops

from DefendAmerica

Americans Open Their Hearts to Servicemembers

By Gerry J. Gilmore
American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON, Nov. 29, 2005 – As the traditional gift-giving season gets under way, American people, corporations and service groups are showing their gratitude to American servicemembers, especially those who are deployed, in combat zones, or have been wounded.

"The outpouring from the public of good will, compassion and recognition for the sacrifices of these military personnel is remarkable and very gratifying," said Stephen Epstein, director of the Standards of Conduct Office within DoD's Office of the General Counsel.

However, Epstein added, recent misunderstandings that have been reported in the media have surfaced about what can and can't be donated to servicemembers, including those who've been wounded.

Federal gift-giving rules apply to all servicemembers and their families. There is no distinction between wounded or nonwounded.

In general, military personnel and their family members may accept unsolicited gifts as long as they are not offered because of their official position or from a "prohibited source."

A prohibited source is any person or group that:

Seeks official action from the employee's agency; Does or seeks to do business with his or her agency; Conducts activities regulated by his or agency; or Has interests that may be substantially affected by the individual employee's official duties.
Federal rules define a gift as any gratuity, favor, discount, entertainment, hospitality, loan, forbearance, or other item having monetary value. It also includes services such as training, transportation, local travel, lodging and meals.

"The general rule is that you can't accept gifts from defense contractors," Epstein said, noting such situations may be perceived by the public as attempts to curry favor or influence official decisions. As a result, defense contractors tend to make donations to relief organizations and charitable groups that support the armed forces, he said.

Ethics officials point out that since the rules involve many exemptions and exceptions, military personnel should consult their local judge advocates, legal counsel or ethics officials before accepting gifts.

For example, troops may accept coffee, doughnuts and other food and refreshments offered other than as part of a meal. They may accept greeting cards, plaques, certificates and trophies and other items with little intrinsic value. They also may accept awards and prizes in contests open to the public.

Another exception -- commonly known as the $20 rule -- applies when gifts (other than cash) from a single source have a market value of $20 or less. However, an employee may not accept over $50 in gifts from the same source in a single year.

Troops may receive discounts from commercial companies if the discount is offered to all government or military personnel. Two of the nation's largest home-improvement retailers, Home Depot and Lowe's, for example, recently recognized Veterans Day by offering discounts for all active-duty military, reservists, retirees and their families.

Troops also may accept items provided as "bulk gifts" to the military, such as 100,000 pairs of sunglasses. A service branch or appropriate commander can accept items and then re-distribute them as part of authorized morale, welfare, and recreation activity or patient support service.

DoD personnel may not solicit gifts, even for others, unless the solicitation is part of an official fundraising program, such as the Combined Federal Campaign.

Troops may, however, advise groups, or individuals seeking to assist servicemembers, of their needs. Web sites run by charitable organizations offer troops the opportunity to request specific items to match them with donations. For example, deployed troops in Iraq have identified the need for, and received, air conditioners, boots, DVD players and other items.

The families of deceased DoD personnel, assuming they are not federal employees themselves, are not bound by these rules, Epstein said.

"We have put out guidance, available on our Web site, to assist ethics counselors and commanders in the field so they understand what the rules are as far as accepting gifts," he said. A complete list of rules regarding gifts to servicemembers is posted on the site.

Gifts of money to aid military personnel, including deployed or wounded servicemembers and their families, should be made to private relief organizations that provide assistance to affected personnel, officials advised.

These include the Armed Forces Relief Trust (, Army Emergency Relief Society (, Navy & Marine Corps Relief Society (, Air Force Aid Society (, and Coast Guard Mutual Assistance (

Related Sites:
Gifts to Servicemembers
2005 Deskbook Gifts
HIDDEN WEAPONS — U.S. Army Pfc. Brock Schild shovels out hay looking for weapons during a joint foot patrol with the Iraqi army in Shumait Village, Iraq, Nov. 27, 2005. U.S. Air Force photo by Tech. Sgt. Andy Dunaway

In Today's News - Wednesday, November 30, 2005

Quote of the Day
"Arm yourselves, and be ye men of valour, and be in readiness for the conflict; for it is better for us to perish in battle than to look upon the outrage of our nation and our altar."
-- Winston Churchill

News of Note
Operation Iraqi Freedom
Bush: It Would Be a Terrible Mistake to Leave Iraq
Video of Four Hostages Airs on Al-Jazeera
Observers: Pressure Threatens Saddam Trial
Training Iraqi Police Remains Hard Task

Operaton Enduring Freedom
Goss: CIA Knows More Than We Say About Bin Laden

Supreme Court
Precedent at Stake in Supreme Ct. Abortion Case

Hurricane Season
Katrina Aid May Lead to Spike in U.S. Drug Trafficking
26th Tropical Storm Forms- Disastrous Season Ending

Did Ronald MacDonald rob Wendy's?

Fox News
Chinese Rescuers Say 33 Miners Missing After Blast
1000th Execution Halted
Astronomers Say Possible Mini Solar System Found
Minn. Teen Pleads Guilty in School Shooting Case
Group: Cannibalism in Video Games Is Too Violent
Rallying the Troops - Bush begins string of speeches
Bush Tries to Help GOP Candidates Build Campaign War Chests
Lieberman Expresses Confidence in Iraq After Thanksgiving Visit

Reuters: Top News
Iraq likely to face violence for years: White House
Vatican edict on gays divides U.S. Catholics
Indonesia says woman dies of bird flu
New climate change deal to take years: U.N. chief
Egyptian Islamists blame America for poll abuses (Oh, give me a break!)
New US envoy to Seoul not encouraged by N.Korea tactics
Army aims to coax back former troops
Bush to unveil new Iraq plan as violence continues
Bush says congressman taking bribes 'outrageous'
Workers in booming UAE struggle to get paid

AP World News
8 Reported Dead in Pakistani Quake Zone
Officials: 33 Chinese Miners Still Missing
Peres Signals Plans to Leave Labor Party
Sudan Gov't, Darfur Rebels Open New Talks
Venezuela's Chavez Vows Clean Elections
Canadian PM Holds Slim Lead in Polls
Blair Says Britain Considering Nuke Power
Milosevic Argues Against Speeding Up Trial (Can't imagine why he wants to delay his trial for War Crimes...)
Deal Nears for Peres to Quit Labor Party
Mexican Court Overturns Extradition Ban
Official: U.N. Could Face Budget Crisis
Gabon President Omar Bongo Re-Elected
U.S. Asks Security Council to Eye Myanmar
U.S. Environmental Stance Draws Heat
France Tightens Controls on Immigration
Mexican Presidential Race Tightens Up
Polish Archive Outlines Soviet Attack Plan

The Seattle Times
Bush's speech seen as gamble
Rumsfeld pushes new description for Iraqi "insurgents" (gasp - we're going to call them 'enemies'? Oh, nooo....his term is at least more fit for public use than the one I usually use.)
Fewer auditors, Pentagon secrecy hinder oversight
Payback time for D.C. politicos?
Bush touts plan for border control
Inmate spared, delaying 1,000th execution
Don't bank on big raise next year
Highest-wage states are on East Coast
Clerk at vandalized liquor store kidnapped
Housing helps plug generation gap
First snowstorm on Plains hits hard
Baby panda tumbles into the public view
Toxic spill could linger for years in China river
U.S. blasts gay arrests in Emirates
Panel blames Russian authorities for botching rescue attempt during militants' school siege
Stan Berenstain co-wrote classics

Chicago Sun-Times
Groups here slam guest worker plan
Israel court: Drug trafficker can be sent to U.S.
Legislator guilty of using fake address to win election
Hastert: Call 'Holiday Tree' a Christmas tree
Boy, 9, who took bullet for little brother honored
Report: Distracted U.S. faces coke problem
FCC chairman: Cable TV must protect kids or feds will
U.S. relaxes ban on poultry imports
Kansas prof apologizes for e-mail mocking religious right
U.S. troops fly rescued cubs to Ethiopian capital
Iraq fails to deliver results of torture probe
Sen. Clinton defends her vote for Iraq war

Boston Globe: World
Rice: US will respond to inquiry about CIA prisons
N. Ireland police arrest four in fatal 1972 car-bomb attacks
Brazil public may give up on reform
Pan-European high-speed train line draws fire from environmentalists
Abbas suspends Fatah party primaries
3 parties withdraw from Venezuela vote
Swedish pastor acquitted in antigay case
Terror leader Zarqawi disowned by hundreds of his clan members
Former US official meets Hussein
Analysts See Bleak Road Ahead
U.S. Acknowledges Secret-Prison Concern

CENTCOM: News Releases

Department of Defense
Victory Needed Before Troops Leave - Story
Rumsfeld: Quitting No Exit Strategy for Iraq - Story Video
Iraqi Security Forces Steadily Improving
War on Terror Strategy is About Ideology
Officials Decry Use of Outdated Gitmo Images - Story Special
Report: Afghan Body Burning Not War Crime - Story

Elite Marine Unit to Train Georgian Soldiers - Story
Afghan Border Police Prepare Airport for Hajj - Story
Paratroopers' Missions Yield Mixed Results - Story

84th Engineers Prepare for Iraq Deployment

Scout Chose ‘Road Less Traveled’ - Story

Care Packager Honored for Support

Iraq Transition of Power

Troops Find Car Bombs, Detain Nine
Roadside Bomb Kills Two Soldiers
Elections Will 'Stake Out' Future
Judge Grants Saddam Trial Delay
Patrol Finds Weapons, Bomb Parts
Soldiers Nab 20 Terrorists
Baquba Rebuilds Its Future
Iraq Daily Update
This Week in Iraq (pdf)
Multinational Force Iraq
Eye on Iraq Update (pdf)
State Dept. Weekly Iraq Report (pdf)
'Boots on the Ground' Audio Archive
Iraq Reconstruction

Afghanistan Daily Update

U.S. Helping Fight Narco-Terror
High Troop Morale Key to Success
N.J., Ind. Guard Teams Certified
Conference: Joint Ops, Preparation
Fact Sheet: War on Terror
Fact Sheet: Terror Plots Disrupted
Waging and Winning the War on Terror
Terrorism Timeline
Terrorism Knowledge Base

National Guard, Reserve Update

Al Azamiyah Al Basrah Al Hillah Al Karkh Al Kazimiyah Al Kut An Nasiriyah Baghdad Baqubah Mosul Najaf Nineveh Tall Kayf

Bost/Laskar Ghurian Herat Kabul Qandahar


National Hurricane Center

Today in History
0306 - Saint Marcellus I begins his reign as Catholic Pope
1782 - Britain signs an agreement recognizing U.S. independence.
1803 - Spain cedes her claims on the Louisiana Territory to France.
1804 - The impeachment trial of Supreme Court Justice Samuel Chase begins.
1864 - Battle of Franklin, Tennessee.
1866 - In Chicago, work begins on the first U.S. underwater highway tunnel.
1886 - In Buffalo, the first commercially successful AC electric power plant opens.
1887 - Chicago is the site of the first indoor softball game.
1907 - In Seattle, Pike Place Market is dedicated.
1924 - The first photo facsimile is transmitted across the Atlantic by radio.
1936 - London's Crystal Palace (built in 1851) is destroyed by fire.
1939 - The U.S.S.R. invades Finland over a border dispute.
1941 - The 101-year-old Nyack-Tarrytown (NY) ferry makes its last run.
1947 - Jewish settlements are attacked, one day after a U.N. decree for Israel.
1948 - Baseball's Negro National League disbands; Soviets set up a separate municipal government in East Berlin.
1949 - Chinese Communists capture Chungking.
1954 - Liz Hodges becomes the first woman known to have been struck by a meteorite (an 8 lb. one in Sylacauga, AL).
1958 - In Bath, Maine, the first guided missile destroyer is launched (USS Dewey).
1961 - The U.S.S.R. vetoes Kuwait's application for U.N. membership.
1962 - U Thant of Burma is unanimously elected to as Secretary-General of the U.N.
1964 - The U.S.S.R. launches Zond-2 towards Mars; no data is returned.
1966 - Barbados gains independence from Britain
1967 - Britain cedes the Kuria Muria islands to Oman; the People's Republic of South Yemen (Aden) gains independence from Britain.
1975 - Dahomey becomes Benin.
1979 - Ted Koppel becomes anchor of the nightly news on the Iran Hostage Crisis (ABC).
1982 - The submarine USS Thomas Edison collides with the USS Leftwich (a destroyer) in the South China Sea; both remain operational.
1983 - Radio Shack announces the Tandy Model 2000 computer (80186 chip).
1988 - A cyclone lashes Bangladesh and Eastern India; 317 are killed; for the first time in 38 years, the Soviets stop jamming Radio Liberty; the U.N. General Assembly (151-2) censures the U.S. for refusing the PLO's Arafat a visa.
1990 - Actor Burt Lancaster suffers a stroke; President George H.W. Bush proposes a U.S.-Iraq meeting to avoid war.
1991 - During a dust storm, 17 die in the pile-up of 93 cars and 11 trucks near San Francisco.

- Saint Gregory of Tours, chronicler/bishop
1466 - Andrea Doria, Genoese statesman/admiral
1554 - Philip Sidney, English poet/statesman/soldier (Arcadia)
1667 - Jonathan Swift, satirist (Gulliver's Travels, A Modest Proposal)
1793 - Johann Lukas Schonlein, helped establish scientific medicine
1810 - Oliver Fisher Winchester, rifle maker
1817 - Theodor Mommsen Germany, historian/writer (Nobel 1902)
1835 - Samuel Clemens [Mark Twain], author (Tom Sawyer, Huckleberry Finn)
1863 - Andres Bonifacio, leader of 1896 Philippine revolt against Spain
1874 - Sir Winston Churchill, British PM (1940-45, 1951-55, Nobel 1953)
1915 - Angier Biddle Duke, U.S. Ambassador (Spain); Henry Taube, chemist (Nobel 1983)
1924 - Shirley Chisholm (Rep-NY), first Black congresswoman/presidential candidate
1928 - Chic Hecht (Sen-NV)
1933 - Linwood C. Ivey (Mayor-Garysburg NC)
1936 - Abbie Hoffman, a.k.a. Free, Yippie/activist/author (Steal this Book)
1937 - Richard Threlkeld, newscaster (ABC-TV)

30 BC
- Cleopatra, Egyptian queen, suicide
1016 - Edmund II Ironsides, King of the Saxons (1016)
1631 - Rabbi Samuel Eliezer ben Judah ha-levi Edels
1694 - Marcello Malpighi, father of microscopic anatomy
1900 - Oscar Wilde, Irish author
1979 - Zeppo Marx, comedian
1987 - Arthur H. Dean, lawyer/advisor to FDR
1990 - Norman Cousins, editor (Saturday Review)
1996 - Tiny Tim, singer with the falsetto warble and ukulele ("Tiptoe Through the Tulips")

Reported Missing in Action
Richardson, Stephen G., USN (WA); F8E crashed, Killed, body not recovered

Kushner, Floyd H., US Army (VA); UH1H crashed, released by PRG March, 1973 - alive and well as of 1998

The following US Army SF personnel lost when the CH34 they were in was shot down:

Bader, Arthur E., Jr. (NJ); remains returned by SFG July, 1989 - ID'd February, 1990

Fitts, Richard A. (MA); remains returned April, 1989

La Bohn, Gary R. (MI); remains returned March, 1989 - ID'd February, 1990 (questionable)

Mein, Michael H. (NY); remains returned March, 1989 - ID'd February, 1990

Scholz, Klaus D. (TX); remains returned March, 1989 - ID'd February, 1990

Stacks, Raymond C. (TN); remains returned March, 1989 - ID'd February, 1990

Toomey, Samuel K. III (MO); remains returend March, 1989 - ID'd February, 1990

Stringer, John C. II, US Army (NY); fell into water crossing a stream