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20 Feb 2012 20:43


Culture: New Jersey residents, others upset about flying flags half-staff for Whitney

  • cause To honor one of the state’s greatest pop stars, New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie had state buildings fly flags at half-staff (usually reserved for military or politicians) ahead of Whitney Houston’s funeral this past Saturday.
  • reaction Reactions to the decision have been strong — one New Jersey town basically ignored the order and a Michigan man (whose son was killed in Iraq back 2005) burned a replica of the state’s flag on his outdoor grill.
  • response Christie defended his decision last week, prior to Houston’s funeral: “For those people who say, ‘I don’t think she deserves it,’ I say to them, ‘I understand that you don’t think that. I do, and it’s my executive order.’” source

01 Jan 2012 16:23


U.S.: Military member charged with bringing explosives into Texas airport

  • No word on his motive or intent: 30-year-old Trey Scott Atwater, who was visiting family in Midland, Texas before heading back to Fort Bragg, was taken into custody Saturday after airport security officials found out he was carrying military-strength C-4 explosives in his bag. Atwater is expected to be charged Tuesday over the incident — a rare direct catch by the TSA. (Photo by Heather Leiphart Odessa American/AP) source

16 Sep 2011 15:48


U.S.: Tucson Air Force base: No shooting, but unconfirmed gunman reports

  • first Reports of gunfire at Tucson’s Davis-Monthan Air Force riled up Twitter users nine months after the Gabrielle Giffords shooting.
  • then Details were scarce from the beginning, with word of gunfire, ambulances on the scene — but ultimate news coming in drips rather than buckets.
  • now The reports now suggest suspicious activity, not a shooting. “No shots have been fired and no one has been hurt,” the Air Force base sayssource

06 Jul 2011 13:29


U.S.: President changes military condolence policy for suicides

  • This issue is emotional, painful, and complicated. But these Americans served our nation bravely … we need to do everything in our power to honor their service, and to help them stay strong for themselves, for their families and for our nation.
  • President Barack Obama • Reversing a previous policy that didn’t send military families condolence letters if their family member had committed suicide. This is definitely a good thing, because suicide is actually a common cause of death in Iraq and Afghanistan. Just because a soldier isn’t killed by the enemy, doesn’t mean their life means any less — military families deserve a letter from the president, regardless of the cause of death. source

22 Jun 2011 21:35


World: Afghanistan troop withdrawal won’t bring us back to pre-Obama levels

  • 65k number of US troops in Afghanistan once the withdrawal is complete (September 2012)
  • 33k number of US troops in Afghanistan when Barack Obama took office (January 2009) source

08 Jun 2011 16:44


World: Are Syrian soldiers defecting instead of combating protests?

  • The Syrian army vs. security: It’s being reported that defections among soldiers in the Syrian military are on the rise, thanks in part to the grisly nature of the deeds they’re being asked to carry out. So says Human Rights Watch researcher Nadim Houry: “…in Daraa, for example, we know there have been some defections and in some cases some soldiers have come under fire from the security forces for defecting.” This allegation isn’t new; security forces have reportedly turned their guns on soldiers unwilling to shoot at civilians for some time now. (Warning: the source article features a graphically unpleasant image of a Syrian policeman who’s been shot dead.) source

31 May 2011 16:33


World: Egyptian general says female protesters got “virginity checks”

  • “Not like your daughter or mine”: An Egyptian general, speaking on condition of anonymity, has alleged a heinous violation of the women of Egypt, though he doesn’t see it that way. The general admitted that during protests on March 9th, the military performed “virginity checks” on women. The reason? “We didn’t want them to say we had sexually assaulted or raped them, so we wanted to prove that they weren’t virgins in the first place. None of them were.” It goes without saying that this rationale is nonsensical, disgusting, and beneath the contempt of a modern civil society. General Mamdouh Shaheen has denied these charges. source

23 May 2011 14:27


World: Captured Gaddafi soldier claims campaign of rape in Misrata

  • …we shot every one of them in the leg. … Then the officers took the girls upstairs, and we were told to go on the roof [to keep guard] until the officers had finished the rape and then we were told to rape the girls too.
  • A 17-year-old member of Muammar Gaddafi’s forces, currently in opposition custody • Describing what he saw as a soldier. Andrew Harding of the BBC News, who wrote this article, makes the point that he isn’t positive whether the young man was telling the truth, considering the vested interest opposition forces might have in coercing him to portray his former colleagues in the worst possible light. That said, his remarks about what’s been happening in Misrata (through an interpreter) are harrowing. He describes being instructed to rape women, on threat of being beaten if they refused. He admits to committing a rape himself, and claims to have received about $8 reward for it. It’s a gruesome read, but worthy of being informed about. These are hardly the first reports of rape to come out of Libya in the midst of its civil war, but this new suggestion takes the brutality to new, horrible levels. source

18 May 2011 16:14


World: A little good news coming out of Tripoli

  • 4 journalists freed from their detention by Gaddafi’s military source
  • » At long last: Gaddafi’s authorities have set Nigel Chandler, Manu Brabo, Claire Gillis and James Foley free — and authorities said that they may stay in the country if they wish (though journalistic professionalism aside, one could understand if they didn’t especially want to). Brabo, Gillis and Foley were all captured near Brega on April 5th. As for Chandler, however, who Libyan authorities believed worked with the BBC (they have since said they have no journalist in their employ by that name, and no other organization has claimed him), no location of his detainment is yet known. The four are now under consular care of Tripoli’s South African embassy.

25 Apr 2011 11:48


World: NATO airstrikes rattle Gaddafi’s home/military compound

  • NATO unleashes attacks in Tripoli: The strikes early Monday morning came with reports from NATO officials that nobody had been badly harmed, though Libyan state TV later claimed 45 civilian casualties. The odds of civilian death in this regard aren’t negligible, as Gaddafi has hosted throngs of still-loyal citizens at his sprawling residence to act as human shields, fully hoping that the risk of killing them would deter NATO from launching attacks like this one — be warned that there is a small amount of graphic imagery in the video. source