Sunday, January 31, 2010

Dinosaur news

A very cool column with news of a 'mohican' dinosaur:

Dinosaur had ginger feathers

By Victoria Gill
Science reporter, BBC News

Sinosauropteryx had a "Mohican" of ginger-coloured feathers and a stripy tail

Meet Sinosauropteryx, a very spiky little dinosaur.

A team of scientists from China and the UK has now revealed that the bristles of this 125-million-year-old dinosaur were in fact ginger-coloured feathers.

The researchers say that the diminutive carnivore had a "Mohican" of feathers running along its head and back. It also had a striped tail.

The team revealed details of the dinosaur's coloured feathers in an article published on Nature's website.

The team began by studying the fossilised remains of a bird, Confuciusornis, which also lived during the early cretaceous period.

Confuciusornis' feathers were preserved in extraordinarily complete fossils that were recently discovered in northern China.

There is more, and it is fascinating. Really it is, and you can find it here.

Every Day Hero

U.S. Army Staff Sergeant Philip Crosby

Meet SSgt Philip Crosby:

Staff Sergeant Philip Crosby exhibited extraordinary leadership and courage during his deployment from November 2007 to October 2008 in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom.

Crosby, assigned to 10th Marine Regiment, 2nd Marine Division, was serving as the assistant effects advisor for Military Transition Team 133, Multinational Force West.

His Military Transition Team and he were embedded with the 3rd Battalion, 3rd Brigade, 1st Iraqi Army Division, and were assigned to protect the Iraqi people and support the local government in the Diyala and Baghdad provinces.

“Our main role was to support the Iraqis by controlling air assets, gathering intelligence, planning operations and organizing support from units, such as AH-64 Apache helicopters and explosive ordinance disposal,” said Crosby.

On February 17, 2008, Crosby was assigned to a group of 20 Iraqi scouts when their unit was ordered to join 20 members of a U.S. Army team to conduct a combined raid on the Iraqi village of Bodija.

After capturing multiple enemy suspects, Crosby and the Iraqi scouts set out on foot with U.S. Army soldiers in pursuit of possible insurgents that had been spotted by U.S. air assets.

After a two-kilometer chase, the U.S. and Iraqi forces encountered a fierce ambush from insurgent forces.

During the ensuing battle, Crosby demonstrated unwavering heroism by exposing himself to enemy fire all the while maintaining constant communication with his forces

Ultimately he organized and coordinated a counter-attack with the U.S. Army forces.

While the team continued to receive sporadic enemy attacks, Crosby once again exposed himself to enemy fire, assisting wounded soldiers and transporting them to a helicopter landing zone for evacuation to a medical facility.

“He stepped up to the occasion, and exhibited some incredible bravery that day,” said Lt. Col. John Orille, who worked with Crosby in Iraq. “He intuitively thinks on his feet and executes with confidence. His judgment is spot-on at the snap of a finger. No matter what you throw at home, he’s able to assess the situation and take action.”

“The last time I’d been to Iraq was during the invasion,” said Crosby. “I saw a lot of differences from before. Mostly with the people in the towns we went and cleared. You could see the difference two or three days later, because there would be kids playing in the street that weren’t there before.”

For his outstanding bravery, Crosby was awarded the Bronze Star with combat distinguishing ‘V’ device.


Thank you for your service, SSgt Crosby.

Music and Me


Saturday, January 30, 2010

Why I Stand with Geert Wilders

From Radical Islam:

Why I Stand with Geert Wilders
by Daniel Pipes
National Review Online
January 19, 2010

Who is the most important European alive today? I nominate the Dutch politician Geert Wilders. I do so because he is best placed to deal with the Islamic challenge facing the continent. He has the potential to emerge as a world-historical figure.

That Islamic challenge consists of two components: on the one hand, an indigenous population's withering Christian faith, inadequate birthrate, and cultural diffidence, and on the other an influx of devout, prolific, and culturally assertive Muslim immigrants. This fast-moving situation raises profound questions about Europe: will it retain its historic civilization or become a majority-Muslim continent living under Islamic law (the Shari'a)?

Wilders, 46, founder and head of the Party for Freedom (PVV), is the unrivaled leader of those Europeans who wish to retain their historic identity. That's because he and the PVV differ from most of Europe's other nationalist, anti-immigrant parties.

The PVV is libertarian and mainstream conservative, without roots in neo-Fascism, nativism, conspiricism, antisemitism, or other forms of extremism. (Wilders publicly emulates Ronald Reagan.) Indicative of this moderation is Wilders' long-standing affection for Israel that includes two years' residence in the Jewish state, dozens of visits, and his advocating the transfer of the Dutch embassy to Jerusalem.

In addition, Wilders is a charismatic, savvy, principled, and outspoken leader who has rapidly become the most dynamic political force in the Netherlands. While he opines on the full range of topics, Islam and Muslims constitute his signature issue. Overcoming the tendency of Dutch politicians to play it safe, he calls Muhammad a devil and demands that Muslims "tear out half of the Koran if they wish to stay in the Netherlands." More broadly, he sees Islam itself as the problem, not just a virulent version of it called Islamism....

Read the rest here, and PAY ATTENTION!

Comfort Our Troops Initiative

From CJ:
CJ Comfort Our Troops Initiative
January 30th, 2010 by CJ

Sleepy’s, the mattress retailer, is partnering with Give2TheTroops to give the men and women who serve our country a little piece of home. Beginning January 28, consumers who visit a Sleepy’s store and purchase a Tempur-Pedic pillow will automatically send a travel pillow to the troops overseas in a care package from the Give2TheTroops organization.

To give troops a soft spot to rest their heads, Sleepy’s, the family-owned east coast mattress company, has developed a pillow donation program in partnership with Give2TheTroops, a non-profit organization which sends care packages to the military. Through a program called “Comfort Our Troops,” when consumers purchase any Tempur-Pedic pillow at one of Sleepy’s 700 retail locations between January 28 and February 28 Sleepy’s will send a travel pillow to troops overseas via care package from the Give2TheTroops organization. The pillows will be packaged with other “comforts of home” such as snacks and toiletries....

Read more here.

Silly Saturday

My personal favourite - of course!

Yes, these are all oldies, but they still give me a chuckle!

God bless our (sometimes very silly) troops.

H/T Brat big sister

Friday, January 29, 2010

Clara Hughes: Canada's Olympic flag bearer

Clara Hughes will add the honour of flag-bearer to her illustrious resumé when the Canadian team enters BC Place in Vancouver on Feb. 12. (Paul Chiasson/Canadian Press)

Yes, I have many issues with the 2010 Olympics, including - but not limited to - financial decisions made since before Vancouver was even a contender. More on that another time.

Today, I must say a decision to name Clara Hughes Canada's flag bearer is probably one of the very few decisions that I fully support. Clara Hughes IS a role model for many young Canadians, not only for what she strives for, and accomplishes within the sports arena, but for how she conducts the rest of her life:

Clara Hughes, multiple Olympic medallist, champion cyclist and star speedskater, will lead Team Canada into BC Place Stadium carrying her country's flag at the opening ceremony of the 2010 Vancouver Games.

Ingrid Paul, a coach with the Canadian long-track team, made the news public when she tweeted in Dutch, "Clara will carry the flag for Canada into the stadium. Good choice."

The official announcement is set to be made Friday at City Hall in Richmond, B.C.

Many agree it is an honour she deserves.

"[She is] the best choice," said CBC Sports' Scott Russell. "She soars above most of the rest."

While carrying Canada's flag isn't a task embraced by every athlete, most consider the role as one of the most esteemed. And in a year when Canada is hosting the Winter Games, it has become an even more extraordinary position....

Read more here.

Goooooooo Clara!


01/26/2010 - Earthquake survivors sing and dance on Toussant Boulevard in Port-au-Prince, Haiti, Jan. 26, 2010. Department of Defense assets have been deployed to assist in the Haiti relief effort following a 7-magnitude earthquake that hit the city on January 12, 2010. (DoD photo by Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Justin E. Stumberg, U.S. Navy/Released)

01/26/2010 - U.S. Soldiers assigned to the 325th Airborne Infantry Regiment, 82nd Airborne Division provide security for recovery efforts in downtown Port-au-Prince, Haiti, Jan. 26, 2010, during Operation Unified Response. The operation, led by the U.S. Agency for International Development, is part of the Department of Defense’s effort to provide aid and relief to Haitian citizens affected by the 7.0-magnitude earthquake that struck the region Jan. 12, 2010. (U.S. Air Force photo by Tech. Sgt. Prentice Colter/Released)

01/25/2010 - U.S. Marines and Sailors from the 24th Marine Expeditionary Unit board a MV-22 Osprey aircraft during the medical evacuation of an earthquake victim Jan. 25, 2010, in Grand Saline, Haiti. Department of Defense assets have been deployed to assist in the Haiti relief effort following a 7-magnitude earthquake that hit the city on January 12, 2010. (DoD photo by Sergeant Andrew J. Carlson, U.S. Marine Corps/Released)

01/26/2010 - U.S. Marine Corp Lance Cpl. Preston Lea, assigned to Fleet Anti-terrorism Security Team (FAST) Company Europe, carries a box of ammunition to the firing range in Sierra Del Retin, Spain, Jan. 26, 2010, during Exercise Lisa Azul. Lisa Azul is a bi-lateral training exercise that promotes partnership and maritime security while improving a cultural understanding between Spain and the United States. (DoD photo by Mass Communication Specialist 1st Class Paul Cage, U.S. Navy/Released)


First Afghan police graduate from Helmand training centre

A Defence Policy and Business news article

29 Jan 10

The first 138 new Afghan policemen, who have been trained by a mixture of British soldiers, MOD police and other security sector personnel at the Interim Helmand Police Training Centre located in Lashkar Gah, graduated yesterday, Thursday 28 January 2010.

Company inspection

The company of new recruits is inspected before the graduation ceremony at the Interim Helmand Police Training Centre in Lashkar Gah
[Picture: Copyright Private First Class Luke Rollins 2010]

Helmand Deputy Governor Sattar Marzakwal, Major General Ghulam Ali Wahdat, the Afghan Chief of Police in Regional Command South, and Brigadier James Cowan, the Commander of Task Force Helmand, all attended the graduation ceremony to send off the 138-strong graduating class.

Addressing the graduates, Mr Marzakwal said:

"You have the responsibility of serving the Afghan people with dignity.

"Our people face problems in this country; however, we can solve them because you can solve them. The only wish our people have is security for our country. Fortunately, we have brave and honourable forces who can bring us peace."

Brigadier Cowan reiterated Mr Marzakwal's call for provincial security and said the newly-trained policemen were the first step toward a safe, happy, and prosperous Helmand. He added:

"The task ahead is to bring security to Helmand in order to allow development and economic prosperity. In that task, a professional and effective police force is crucial....

Another great B*N*S*N story away from the headlines. Go read the rest here.


Guardmembers in three states called out for weather responses

By Air Force Master Sgt. Mike R. Smith
National Guard Bureau

ARLINGTON, Va. (1/22/10) - National Guard members in at least three states were responding today after winter storms crossing the nation brought a multitude of weather warnings, advisories and a state of emergency.

In California, where high surf, floods, landslides and severe winds were reported, National Guard officials reported yesterday the state's joint force headquarters in Sacramento received two mission requests as a result of the heavy rainfall and storms.

Four search and rescue helicopters with hoist capabilities were on standby, including two Air Guard aircraft in the north and two Army Guard aircraft in the south, and six armories were tasked to support evacuations. Sixteen Soldiers and 16 Airmen were called up for state active duty.

Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger's office reported Jan. 18 that the California Guard stood "ready to support flood-fighting efforts with personnel and over 20 aircraft if needed" after he ordered civilian and Guard response units on standby.

"We must work together to prepare for and remain safe throughout these storms. I encourage everyone, especially those living around burn areas that have resulted from recent fires, to monitor the latest weather information and follow instructions given by local authorities," said Schwarzenegger in a press release.

The California Emergency Management Agency is on 24-hour standby.

In Arizona, Gov. Jan Brewer declared a state of emergency yesterday in response to incoming winter storms. The state's emergency operations center was activated.

State officials predicted snow and rain for Arizona during the next several days. "This precipitation may cause localized flooding in low-lying areas making roads impassable and resulting in flooded washes, creeks and rivers," reported state officials.

As a result, the state's joint force headquarters in Phoenix placed 58 Soldiers on state active duty status in anticipation of various response missions.

In South Dakota, where citizens were bracing themselves for a shellacking of freezing rain, 13 Soldiers were on state active duty in response to the incoming winter storm there.

Gov. Mike Rounds' office urged state residents to "prepare for a winter storm" predicted to "bring significant amounts of freezing rain across much of the state on Friday and Saturday, followed in many areas by six to 12 inches of snow and winds up to 50 mph from Saturday through Monday morning."

"Those conditions will make travel treacherous at best and perhaps impossible for much of the weekend," Tom Dravland, secretary of the Department of Public Safety, said in a state press release. "We are recommending that people with significant medical issues plan to take care of those needs if at all possible before the storm hits during the day on Friday."




From my friend over at Little Drops.....In the pool of Life:

Monday, January 25, 2010

Two Boys~One Condition...

I'd give all wealth that years have piled,
The slow result of Life's decay,
To be once more a little child
For one bright summer day.
~~~~~Lewis Carroll, "Solitude"

In my quest for those little drops of kindness that will forever change another person's life, I read this story at Christian Science Monitor. If this doesn't create a lump in your throat and more than a touch of pride for what 'Our Guys' are doing while they are residing in a hostile environment, then all I can say is... You should check to see if you still have a heart!

Read on...

Combat Outpost Penich, Afghanistan

An Afghan laborer at Combat Outpost Penich was carefully maneuvering a forklift when an attack almost caused him to lose control of the vehicle.

“Scrappy,” an Afghan orphan who works on the United States Army base, had pinned the forklift driver down with a Super Soaker squirt gun and was blasting him in the face.

Call it both the hazard and the joy of keeping two orphan kids on the payroll, but few soldiers at this remote base in eastern Kunar Province regret having them around.

The orphans, who go by Scrappy and Donovan, are both the base’s unofficial mascots and charity project. They live with their extended family in a nearby refugee camp and spend afternoons after school working on the base. How they ended up here is something of a happy coincidence and the US intersection with Afghan culture.

It’s not uncommon for the Afghan military to hire young boys to do odd jobs around the base. When Attack Company, 1-32 Infantry Battalion moved into the area for the first time, they found Donovan working for the local Afghan Army unit in exchange for meals and foodstuffs for his family.

Donovan’s father had been killed by the Taliban, leaving no one to support his family of four, so as the oldest son, even though he was only 12, Donovan had quit school and begun working. The only job he could find was working with the Afghan soldiers in exchange for the meager provisions.

When the soldiers in Attack Company learned about this arrangement, they invited Donovan to work on the US outpost for the same rate as the adult day laborers. Three months later, Attack Company also hired Scrappy, who came from similar circumstances as Donovan – but with a family of 10 to support. The main condition of their employment is that they attend school every day.

“Our friends think this is good work. They also want to work with the Americans to learn English,” says Donovan, who lives in a camp for internally displaced people most of whom are friendly with US forces.

Though the two are technically employed as laborers, they don’t work for more than 20 or 30 minutes a day, watering plants, picking up trash, or helping with other odd jobs around base. Most of their time is spent having water-gun fights and hanging out with soldiers. They also race bikes, which they were awarded last spring for doing well on their final exams.

“We try to encourage them to have fun, because they are treated like adults – they do have to provide for their families, be contributors, and yet at the same time they’re like 10- or 12-year-old kids,” says Spc. Adam Rowe, the base "mayor," in charge of logistics, who's from Philadelphia....

You won't find this story on any msm front page. *Gasp* but you can find the rest of it here. While you are over there, check out all the other great stuff, which all qualifies as B*N*S*N!

Thursday, January 28, 2010

Afghan Army Training

From the MoD:

IN PICTURES: Training the Afghan Army to take on the Taliban themselves

A Military Operations news article

27 Jan 10

At the Afghan Army's Military Training Centre (KMTC) just outside Kabul, British, American and other NATO troops are working together to train and mentor thousands of Afghan National Army (ANA) soldiers each month.

Afghan soldiers

Afghan soldiers at the Military Training Centre outside Kabul
[Picture: Lt Sally Armstrong RN, Crown Copyright/MOD 2010]

The training centre, with its vast exercise area littered with rusting Soviet-era tanks and derelict buildings, is located in the mountainous outskirts of the Afghan capital.

The ANA trainee soldiers at KMTC are recruited from all over Afghanistan. They pass through an eight-week training package of basic infantry and core military skills essential for fighting the Taliban - such as weapon handling, live firing, section attacks and compound clearances - before graduating and deploying to the various provinces in ethnically-mixed teams.

Some deploy to live and fight alongside British soldiers in Operational Mentoring and Liaison Teams in Helmand province's Green Zone, where fierce fighting with insurgents takes place.

Others deploy to work alongside units like 1st Battalion The Royal Welsh, whose soldiers are partnered with ANA soldiers, and over the course of the next three months numbers will grow until an entire Kandak (the equivalent to a British battalion) will live and fight alongside the Royal Welsh soldiers.

Click here to see more pictures of Afghan soldiers at the Military Training Centre.

British infantry commander Lieutenant Colonel Nick Ilic is the UK Leadership Training Team's Commanding Officer, based at Camp Alamo, near KMTC.

He heads up a team of 64 British military personnel charged with overseeing the ANA's officer and senior non-commissioned officer training. The training of junior ANA soldiers is run by US military teams.

Lieutenant Colonel Nick Ilic (right)

Lieutenant Colonel Nick Ilic (right)
[Picture: Lt Sally Armstrong RN, Crown Copyright/MOD 2010]

Lt Col Ilic explained why training the Afghan National Army is crucial to British success in Afghanistan:

"It is absolutely fundamental we get this right. This is our exit strategy. The guys down south in Helmand and elsewhere are holding the line, creating a safe environment for us to train the Afghan National Army to the right standard and quality so they can take on the fight when they're ready."...

To see all the pictures, and get the FACTS from those who know what they are talking about, go to the MoD here.

British Navy: "...hamstrung by ...human rights laws and political correctness'...?

A story from MailOnLine in England about the Royal Navy treatment of Somali pirates, has the MoD responding. The Mail story:

Navy gives Somali pirates food and water... then lets them sail off scot free

By Jason Groves
Last updated at 7:43 AM on 27th January 2010

Suspected Somali pirates captured by the Royal Navy are being given fuel, food and water and sent on their way.

In three cases they were released even though hostages had been found on board their vessels.

The extraordinary revelations yesterday by Defence Minister Baroness Taylor will add to concern about the role of the Navy in tackling piracy.

Royal marines board a suspected pirate vessel off Somalia last June

Hands up: Royal marines board a suspected pirate vessel off Somalia last June - the gang were later released

In November it emerged that a Navy ship had stood by as pirates kidnapped British sailors Paul and Rachel Chandler. They are still being held and threatened with death by their captors.

Baroness Taylor said there had been four instances in the last year when heavily armed gangs operating off Somalia had been given supplies on humanitarian grounds. None of the 66 suspects captured by the Navy in the last year have been taken into custody.

One former Navy commander said the Navy appeared to be operating a 'maritime welfare system' rather than enforcing law on the high seas.

Mike Critchley, publisher of Warship World magazine, said: 'I feel pretty sorry for Navy officers these days who have to phone a lawyer in London before they are allowed to do anything.

'In the old days the captain would have been told to just go and sort it out.


'I am sure that word will soon get round the pirate community that even if you run out of fuel 200 miles off shore a large grey vessel will come and help you on your way.

'If we are going to make a difference then we have to shake a fist at people.'

Former Tory chairman Lord Tebbit, who has tabled a series of Parliamentary questions on the issue, said ministers had indicated privately that suspected pirates were not being arrested because of fears they might claim asylum in the UK.

Lord Tebbit said the Navy appeared to be hamstrung by the 'morass of human rights laws and political correctness'.

He said the release of armed suspects, some of whom were holding hostages, 'illustrates how absurd our laws on immigration and asylum have become.'...

They have more, of course, and you can read that here. [Be sure to check out the readers' comments.)

The Ministry of Defence has this in rebuttal:

Treatment of pirates
An article in the Daily Mail claims 'suspected Somali pirates captured by the Royal Navy are being given fuel, food and water and sent on their way'. The Royal Navy treats encounters with suspected pirates seriously and in each case will carry out detailed analysis of all physical evidence and witness statements.

The reality is that when patrolling some 1.5 million square miles (four million square kilometres) of international waters and operating legally within the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea, the Royal Navy regularly stops and searches mariners who routinely carry a variety of weapons for self-protection. If there is sufficient additional evidence that gives confidence that there is likely to be a successful prosecution, suspected pirates are transferred to Kenya, and more recently the Seychelles, for trial.

It is only when there is insufficient evidence and uncooperative or unreliable witnesses to ensure a successful prosecution in a regional state that equipment is destroyed and the suspected pirates and any claiming to be hostages are released. They are released only with enough fuel and supplies to allow them to return to land, in accordance with our international legal obligations.

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

International Holocaust Remembrance Day

The General Assembly Resolution 60/7

The Resolution 60/7 establishing 27 January as an International Holocaust Remembrance Day urges every member nation of the U.N. to honor the memory of Holocaust victims, and encourages the development of educational programs about Holocaust history to help prevent future acts of genocide. It rejects any denial of the Holocaust as a historical event and condemns all manifestations of religious intolerance, incitement, harassment or violence against persons or communities based on ethnic origin or religious belief. It also calls for actively preserving the Holocaust sites that served as Nazi death camps, concentration camps, forced labor camps and prisons, as well as for establishing a U.N. programme of outreach and mobilization of civil society for Holocaust remembrance and education.

The essence of the text lies in its two-folded approach: one that deals with the memory and remembrance of those who were massacred during the Holocaust, and the other with educating future generations of its horrors.

This day, this year, marks 65 years since the liberation of Auschwitz-Berkenau. Since 27th January was designated Holocaust Remembrance/Memorial Day, each year has a different theme. This year it is Legacy of Hope.

HMD 2010 The Legacy of Hope

27th January 2010 – Holocaust Memorial Day – marks the 65th anniversary of the liberation of Auschwitz-Birkenau. On this day, the Holocaust Memorial Day Trust is challenging everyone across the UK to become part of a Legacy of Hope. HMD 2010 offers an opportunity to listen to the voices from the Holocaust and Nazi persecution, and to make the lessons of hope for a safer, inclusive society where the differences between us are respected a reality today and in the future.

Holocaust survivors have played an immense role in bringing our attention to the lessons of the Holocaust. They speak of pain and loss, of strength and survival, of despair and their wish for a Legacy of Hope. They encourage us to look within and without, to be sure of our moral compass, to be certain of our choices and to use our voice, whenever we can, to speak out. They have translated difficult experiences to create a future that is free from the dangers of exclusion and persecution. They have passed a message of resilience and hope to the next generation.

Our responsibility is to remember those who were persecuted and murdered, because their lives were wasted...(read more here)

British Prime Minister Gordon Brown this week signed the Holocaust Memorial Day Book of Commitment at Number 10. As he signed, two very special men witnessed this event, as they each - in different ways - bear witness to the atrocities of the Holocaust:

Friday 22 January 2010

POW’s Auschwitz story gives hope for the future - PM

The Prime Minister has described former British Prisoner of War at Auschwitz-Birkenau, Denis Avey, as a truly remarkable man, after meeting him in the run up to Holocaust Memorial Day. Denis Avey helped a Jewish prisoner survive the camp by swapping clothes with him and taking his place in the camp on two separate occasions, allowing the Jewish prisoner to receive vital food and rest in the British camp.

Mr Brown and his wife Sarah welcomed Mr Avey along with Holocaust Survivor Ben Helfgott MBE, Chairman of the Holocaust Educational Trust, Lord Janner, and two student ambassadors to Downing Street.

PM signs Book of Commitment; Crown copyright

Gordon Brown said:

“As we approach Holocaust Memorial Day, a time to reflect on the horrors of the past, it is people like Denis Avey and his extraordinary acts of kindness and compassion for others, that give us hope for the future.

“His story is even more poignant on this, the 65th anniversary of the liberation of Auschwitz-Birkenau; a reminder of the unimaginable cruelty faced by those held there and why we must continue to fight persecution and intolerance wherever it is found.” (here)

Mr Avey's story is truly amazing:

The man who smuggled himself into Auschwitz

Children in Auschwitz
More than a million people died in Auschwitz
By Rob Broomby
BBC News

When millions would have done anything to get out, one remarkable British soldier smuggled himself into Auschwitz to witness the horror so he could tell others the truth.

Denis Avey is a remarkable man by any measure. A courageous and determined soldier in World War II, he was captured by the Germans and imprisoned in a camp connected to the Germans' largest concentration camp, Auschwitz.

But his actions while in the camp - which he has never spoken about until now - are truly extraordinary. When millions would have done anything to get out, Mr Avey repeatedly smuggled himself into the camp.

Now 91 and living in Derbyshire, he says he wanted to witness what was going on inside and find out the truth about the gas chambers, so he could tell others. He knows he took "a hell of a chance".

"When you think about it in today's environment it is ludicrous, absolutely ludicrous," he says.

"You wouldn't think anyone would think or do that, but that is how I was. I had red hair and a temperament to match. Nothing would stop me."

He arranged to swap for one night at a time with a Jewish inmate he had come to trust. He exchanged his uniform for the filthy, stripy garments the man had to wear. For the Auschwitz inmate it meant valuable food and rest in the British camp, while for Denis it was a chance to gather facts on the inside.


He describes Auschwitz as "hell on earth" and says he would lie awake at night listening to the ramblings and screams of prisoners...

Go over to the BBC site here, watch the video interview with Mr Avey, and read more of what he has to say. A hero in any sense of the word.

Ben Holfgott is now a MBE, but the story of his early life has been well documented. uas the Nazi brutality accelerated with murder, violence and terror.

The children of Holocaust

...Ben Helfgott was sent to a labor camp but miraculously survived. He was weak and emaciated when he was liberated from the camp Theresienstadt at the close of the war in 1945, 15 years old.

Together with some hundreds of youngsters he was sent to England. Soon, in London, he took up weight lifting and Ben Helfgott is the only known survivor of a Nazi concentration camp to compete in the Olympic Games.

Within a few years, he was winning local championships and becoming British middleweight weightlifting champion and record holder. He captained the British Olympic Weightlifting Teams of 1956 and 1960.

Ben Helfgott went to university to study economics, married, had three boys and ended up in business: today he is a retired clothing manufacturer.

Memorial to the martyrs of Piotrkow murdered in the Rakow ForestIn 1995 he was elected to the International Jewish Sports Hall of Fame. The Hall of Fame honors Jewish men and women worldwide who have accomplished extraordinary achievements in sports and those who have made significant contributions to society through sports.

Desiring to help the young men and women who had come with him from the hell of Europe, Ben Helfgott decided to devote himself entirely to their welfare. Founder of ’45 Aid Society for Holocaust Survivors in UK, Chairman 1963-1970, 1970-present. Chairman of Yad Vashem Committee of Board of Deputies of British Jews. Former Chairman, Central British Fund-World Jewish Relief. Member, Council of the Conference on Jewish Material Claims Against Germany.
Ben Helfgott noted in a speech in 1976:

'We have shown that the misery, cruelty, despair and injustice that were inflicted on us did not break our indomitable will. It did not consume us with hatred to the point of destroying our own and other peoples' lives. Instead we set out to create a new life.'

There is much more about Mr Helfgott (and other stories) on an official Auschwitz site here.

The Guardian of London has an in-depth interview with Mr Helfgott. A very brief excerpt:
Memories of the Holocaust: Ben Helfgott
Stuart Jeffries
The Guardian
27th January, 2010

'Ben Helfgott, Holocaust survivor


What does Ben ­remember of those camps? "We didn't have any mirrors," he says. "So you thought it was the others who looked terrible, that you didn't have the ­swollen eyes and deep sockets that come from starvation." He remembers sharing a 2ft 6in-wide bunk with another boy. "There wasn't enough room to sleep on our backs. If you wanted to move in bed, you had to move together. So we lay there, eaten by bugs and lice, packed like sardines."

Ben was finally liberated in ­Theresienstadt in Czechoslovakia in May 1945. He then learned that his ­father had been shot a few days earlier as he tried to escape from a death march that was headed to Theresien­stadt. "I was suddenly an orphan. I had heard that my mother and little sister were killed two-and-a-half years before when I was still with my father and my sister Mala. We were able to comfort each other. When I heard what ­happened to my father, I was alone. Theresienstadt was where I did all my crying. I cried for 24 hours." His father was 38 when he was killed....

Go to the Guardian - here - and read the rest of his story. While there, also check out the links to other Holocaust survivors' stories.

This day IS an international remembrance of those terrible days in our human history. In the US, there is the Holocaust Memorial Museum.

The United States Holocaust Memorial Museum (USHMM) is the United States' official memorial to the Holocaust. Adjacent to the National Mall in Washington, D.C., the USHMM provides for the documentation, study, and interpretation of Holocaust history. It is dedicated to helping leaders and citizens of the world confront hatred, prevent genocide, promote human dignity, and strengthen democracy. [1]

With an operating budget of just under $78.7 million ($47.3 million from Federal sources and $31.4 million from private donations) in 2008, the Museum has a staff of about 400 employees, 125 contractors, 650 volunteers, 91 Holocaust survivors, and 175,000 members. It has local offices in New York, Boston, Boca Raton, Chicago, Los Angeles, and Dallas. [2]

Since its dedication on April 22, 1993, the Museum has welcomed nearly 30 million visitors, including more than 8 million school children. It has also welcomed 88 heads of state and more than 3,500 foreign officials from over 132 countries. The Museum's visitors come from all over the world, and more than 90 percent of the Museum's visitors are not Jewish. Its website had 25 million visits in 2008 from an average of 100 different countries daily. 35% of these visits were from outside the United States, including more than 238,000 visits from Muslim-majority countries. [3]

The USHMM’s collections contain more than 12,750 artifacts, 49 million pages of archival documents, 80,000 historical photographs, 200,000 registered survivors, 1,000 hour of archival footage, 84,000 library items, and 9,000 oral history testimonies. It also has teacher fellows in every state in the United States and has welcomed almost 400 university fellows from 26 countries since 1994. [4] (Read more here )

To commemorate International Holocaust Remembrance Day, the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum hosts a candle-lighting ceremony attended by the Washington, D.C. diplomatic community, Holocaust survivors, and the general public...

International Holocaust Remembrance Day

Join us in observing International Holocaust Remembrance day by lighting a candle and adding your name to the list of people who are showing their support for international recognition of the day.

If you go here, you can add your name to the list of those who remember. That is a direct link to the US Holocaust Museum's page of remembrance. The home page is here, and is well worth the time to explore all the different sections.

As the official page of the Holocaust Memorial Day Trust says(in part):

HMD provides a time for us to:

  • Remember the victims and survivors of the Holocaust, Nazi persecution and those affected by subsequent genocides in Cambodia, Rwanda, Bosnia and during the ongoing atrocities in Darfur.
  • Ensure that the historical events associated with the Holocaust continue to be regarded as being of fundamental importance.
Raise awareness and understanding of the events of the Holocaust... (more here)

One of the comments on the US Holocaust Memorial Museum says, succinctly:

We must never forget, and we must teach our children so they never forget.


And that IS the truth. It is said that those who forget history, are doomed to repeat it. We are today living in a time of global terrorism threats. As some choose to remain oblivious to the evil again stalking our world, we would be beyond foolish to forget - or ignore - the terrible price paid by so many during the Holocaust of 60+ years ago.

Ever vigilant.

Wednesday Hero

This Weeks Post Was Suggested By Pet

Specialist Brandon K. Steffy
Specialist Brandon K. Steffy
23 years old from Sault Sainte Marie, Michigan
178th Military Police Detachment, 89th Military Police Brigade, III Corps
October 29, 2009
U.S. Army

He came into to this world a rather large baby, so big the doctor thought that he’d just walk home with his mother. Brandon was well mannered, polite, and tough with a contagious laugh that lit up those around him. In 2005 he graduated from Brimley High School and in 2006 enlisted in the United States Army, following a tradition of family military service.

He served in Iraq as a gunner from May 2007 until July 2008 and was deployed to Afghanistan in June 2009 where he was a canine tracker handler for Forward operating Base Fenty Kennel in the Laghman Province. He and his K-9 dog Maci were inseparable, working on tracking terrorists; Maci specialized in tracking the scents of IED making materials.

Spc. Brandon Steffy was killed when the vehicle he was riding in was attacked. His decorations and awards include the Army Commendation Medal, Army Good Conduct Medal, National Defense Service Medal, Afghanistan Campaign Medal, Iraq Campaign Medal-Campaign Star, Global War on Terrorism Service, the Bronze Star and the Purple Heart.

Spc. Steffy is survived by his wife, daughter, parents and his sister.

Brandon made people laugh and he made them cry. There was not one dry eye at his funeral, from every day townsfolk, to big construction workers to police officers; they all recalled Brandon, this "Gentle Giant." They want everyone to know that if you never knew Brandon, then you really missed out.

All Information Was Found On And Copied From & Freedom Remembered

These brave men and women sacrifice so much in their lives so that others may enjoy the freedoms we get to enjoy everyday. For that, I am proud to call them Hero.
We Should Not Only Mourn These Men And Women Who Died, We Should Also Thank God That Such People Lived

This post is part of the Wednesday Hero Blogroll. For more information about Wednesday Hero, or if you would like to post it on your site, you can go here.
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Tuesday, January 26, 2010

IDF Team rescue Haitian man buried for 10 days

During the day, January 22, 2010, an IDF search and rescue team in Port-au-Prince, Haiti, rescued a 22 year old man, who had been trapped under the rubble of a building near the presidential palace for nearly 10 days. He was taken to the IDF field hospital in stable condition.

A search conducted by Population Management officers from the Home Front Command, headed by Lt. Col. Rami Peletz, were directed to the location of the trapped man by local residents.

American and French doctors were unable to rescue the trapped man and called upon the Israeli delegations search and rescue teams who rescued the man within half an hour, from a tunnel, 2.5-3-meters long and were able to release him whole and healthy, said Maj. Zohar Moshe, a member of the rescue team.

Israel in Haiti (continued)

From Israeli Soldier's Mother:

Monday, January 25, 2010

In a Place Where there Are No Men - A Haiti Story

Hillel is often quoted as saying, "In a place where there are no men, strive to be a man." The interpretation of this simple phrase is often taken to mean standing against evil. Where others won't stand...this is where you should. There is a simpler meaning, as we saw in the last two weeks in Haiti - simply...when there is a need to action, act.

Israel combined this concept with another that is inherently part of our army, the "Follow me" concept. In those first shocking hours when the world was still assessing what was happening, Israel had already mobilized its rescue and medical squads. A mere 15 hours after the earthquake had struck, Israeli planes were lifting off the ground, fully loaded, completely prepared.

They arrived to find a hell on earth that few can imagine and without hesitation, they dug in, and in so doing, saved dozens of lives, even hundreds. Over the last fourteen days, almost 1,000 patients were treated, several hundred life-saving operations were performed, more than a dozen babies delivered who might otherwise never have been born.

BBC and other news agencies tried to ignore the Israeli presence, at least to downplay it.

Never mind the Jewish star on the uniform, the Israeli army insignia...we mustn't do anything to make Israel look too good.

And good Israel did look because what BBC and others tried to do, didn't succeed. ...

IF you were paying attention, you knew/know that Israel is on the ground in Haiti. Go read the rest of this column here.

Thank you, Israel.

Muslim terrorists... find Great Britain a convenient place

No surprise here:

Islamic Terrorists 'Made in Britain'

by Dalit HaLevy and Hillel Fendel

( A Hamas website proudly reports on two young British citizens who have moved to Gaza to join the jihad against Israel.

The website did not provide many details on the two. One of them, known as Ibrahim al-Majersi, is reported to have “left his home in order to the join the jihad in Gaza,” and was scheduled to deliver a lecture in the famous Large Mosque of Gaza. He apparently met with Hamas and Al-Kassam Brigades terrorists.

The other, known only as Mustafa, is reported to have served in the British Army in Iraq.

Muslim terrorists apparently find Great Britain a convenient place to study and grow in their dedication to the cause. Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab, who attempted to blow up a Northwest Airline flight from Nigeria to Detroit via Amsterdam last month, studied at University College London for three years, graduating in 2008 with a degree in mechanical engineering. Though he was always known to be religious, family members claimed that the terrorist had been “recruited” to a more militant form of Islam in London. He spent his elementary school days at the British School in Togo, West Africa....

Read the rest here.

Pay attention!

Israel in Haiti

IDF, Israel CEOs Start Haitian Orphanage, Israelis Want to Adopt

by Malkah Fleisher

( Israeli citizens are hoping to give opportunities for new life to children who have been orphaned by Haiti's January 12 earthquake.

Emergency humanitarian aid group Israel Flying Aid and Orange Israel Telecommunications announced January 25 that they will establish an orphanage to accommodate over 200 children in Haiti. At least 70 children will be taken in immediately. To assist the project, the Israel Defense Forces will create infrastructure for fresh running drinking water, an electric generator, tents, and primary medical supplies.

The orphanage will essentially be a re-creation of one destroyed in the earthquake. CEOs of the two companies visited the ruins of a girls' orphanage in Port-au-Prince to find the children without food and suffering from severe malnutrition. These are the orphans who will benefit first from the new project. They are between the ages of 2 and 14, and will be cared for by Haitian and Israeli volunteers.

"From showers to electricity and computers, from water, food and clothing we will rebuild this orphanage," said Orange Israel CEO David Avner. "As for today we will take a yard and put up tents as it is unsafe for the children to remain in these cracked and unstable buildings."...

Read more here.

Monday, January 25, 2010

Virtual Vietnam Wall

I hadn't seen this before:

Click on a state and a town.
It will list soldiers who died in Viet Nam from that town. It will
provide a bio and a list of medals awarded. In some cases, there will be
a picture of the soldier.

May we ALWAYS remember and honour them.

H/T Mike

TAPS/Military Widows to receive unique recognition

Military widows and daughters to be honored at Miss America Pageant

TAPS families offered royal treatment via ‘Project Gratitude’

Twenty-two bereaved widows and daughters of fallen military members will attend the Miss America pageant weekend courtesy of a new initiative called Project Gratitude.

The ladies will travel from around the country courtesy of American Airlines to take part in pageant festivities at Planet Hollywood as well as a number of special events planned specifically for the women.

The event was the idea of Sharlene Hawkes, 'Remember My Service' president and a former Miss America. With the assistance of Darci Hansen, Founder/Editor-In-Chief of Elan Woman magazine, the friends created 'Project Gratitude.'

"With major partners lending a hand including American Airlines, The Miss America Organization, Planet Hollywood, and a huge list of generous participants, the event flourished into a four day escape for the mothers and their daughters," said Hansen.

Activities will include attending the Donny and Marie show with backstage passes to meet the celebrities; make-over's and a shopping spree courtesy of Macy's; and attending formal affairs affiliated with the Miss America Organization.

"This is all about remembering the great service and ultimately, the great sacrifice that so many families make to preserve our way of life, and defend our liberties," said Hawkes.

"Giving these women a royal weekend is the very least we can do for America's greatest treasures. I hope that we can make this a tradition."

The weekend will also include a full day at FINO, courtesy of the owner Alejandro Hormechea, and stylists Andeen Rose-Clark and Zhane Richer (Celine Dion's personal hair stylist). Donating their time and space, all 22 moms and daughters will receive manicures, pedicures, make-up, and hair styles in preparation for the televised segment of the Miss America Pageant.

"I have been asked who is the official sponsor for the event and my response is, 'Two blondes with big hearts and generous friends.' said Hansen.

"We simply wanted to do something to honor our military families. Our partners have enabled us to provide an event with loaded with surprises and a lot of bling!"

Taking part in this type of experience is part of a long road of grief and recovery which TAPS facilitates for any person who has lost a military loved one, regardless of the relationship to the deceased or the circumstances of the death.

"The Project Gratitude organizers reached out to TAPS knowing our military survivors would benefit from a weekend of bonding and sharing a healthy, fun experience," said Elizabeth Kreft, TAPS Director of Communications.

"TAPS is the first place families and friends can turn when they've lost a military loved one. We enable survivors to join together and work through their grief in a healthy way."

The Tragedy Assistance Program for survivors is a network of more than 25,000 mothers, daughters, sons, and fathers who have lost loved ones in military service.

Media wishing to cover this event or interview any of the TAPS families can call Elizabeth Kreft at 202-905-7262.


WELCOME HOME No 2 Force Protection Wing

Personnel from No 2 Force Protection Wing march through the streets of Bedale in North Yorkshire [Picture: SAC Carruthers, Crown Copyright/MOD 2010]

My favourite stories! What better way to start ANY week? Read on:

Town shows support to RAF Wing returning from Afghanistan

A History and Honour news article

22 Jan 10

The streets of Bedale in North Yorkshire were lined with well-wishers and proud families as personnel from No 2 Force Protection Wing, RAF Regiment, celebrated their homecoming from Afghanistan yesterday, Thursday 21 January 2010.

The parade through the town was accompanied by the Band of the RAF Regiment and marked the end of a difficult seven-month commitment for the Wing, which lost Corporal Marcin Wojtak to an improvised explosive device blast on 1 October 2009.

Following the parade, personnel from the Wing, who are based at RAF Leeming, were presented with their campaign medals in a ceremony attended by Deputy Lord Lieutenant of North Yorkshire, Air Commodore Simon Bostock RAF (Retired), RAF Leeming Station Commander, Group Captain William Gibson, and Mayor of Bedale, Councillor Wanda Reynolds. The event concluded with a reception for parade personnel.

Those on parade were deeply touched by the support shown by the people of Bedale. Squadron Leader 'George' Formby, Officer Commanding 34 Squadron RAF Regiment, who are part of No 2 Force Protection Wing, said:

"It was an emotional day and we were very impressed by the turn-out. We certainly didn't expect that many people, it was a very warm welcome.

"The guys have now seen for themselves just how respected they are and how appreciative people are of the job they are doing. It was a very poignant day with the high point of coming back set against the low point of losing Corporal Wojtak. It was a fitting opportunity for the whole squadron to remember him together." [Yes, emphasis mine]

There is more here.

WELCOME HOME, and thank you ALL for your service. This BritBrat is so proud of all of you. Do not EVER doubt how respected and appreciate you are.

Sunday, January 24, 2010

Canadian SAR in Haiti

Photo of the Day

January 20, 2010 - Toussaint Louverture International Airport, Haiti

Master Corporal (MCpl) Nicolat Meunier, member of the Search and Rescue team of 424 Squadron, Trenton, Ontario, gives basic medical attention to an elderly women after she and her family arrived in the Canadian camp at Toussaint Louverture International Airport, Haiti on January 20, 2010, 8 days after a natural catastrophy had hit their country.

Operation HESTIA is the Canadian Forces participation in humanitarian operations conducted in response to the catastrophic earthquake that struck Port-au-Prince, Haiti, on 12 January 2010. Op HESTIA is part of a whole-of-government effort that also involves Foreign Affairs and International Trade Canada and the Canadian International Development Agency.

Canada has consistently demonstrated strong support for humanitarian assistance and disaster relief operations throughout the world...

Photo: Cpl Julie Bélisle, Canadian Forces, Combat Camera (DND here)

Every Day Hero

Meet Major Shannon Fortner:

U.S. Army Major Shannon Fortner

When U.S. Army Major Shannon Fortner arrived in Iraq in March of 2003 it was during the initial phase of the invasion.

“It was my first deployment in any arena,” so being in the ramp-up portion was particularly interesting and illuminating, she said.

Fortner’s job title was “Adjutant”, in the Logistics Cell of a Battalion.

“I just helped run [the battalion],” she said. “It was interesting to get all the soldiers ready and account for them and get them on the planes and go through the readiness portion, getting them to Kuwait and then forward into Iraq.”

Stationed in Tikrit, Fortner “quickly sorted through the chaos to focus on those tasks essential to the battalion’s successful deployment,” states the citation of the Bronze Star Medal she earned for the deployment.

Fortner’s efforts ensured that personnel deployment was properly phased, and also worked to facilitate a “rapid building of combat power in theater,” according to the citation.

“It was through her personal efforts that the Battalion was able to precisely track soldiers dispersed in a 3500 square kilometer area of operation,” as well as those that were medically evacuated from that theater of operation, the citation states.

Interacting with the soldiers as they arrived and deployed within Iraq, as well as being part of their career progress and participating in their promotion ceremonies are among the things that Fortner liked best about her duties. She also tracked injured soldiers on their journeys back to the United States and through their recoveries as well, she said.

Fortner demonstrated “brilliant leadership qualities” as Adjutant and “Battalion Captain”, the citation states.

“Her ability to remain focused on the commander's priorities ensured that all staff sections remained synchronized,” the citation states.”...

Go here to read more about this Every Day Hero. Thank you for your service, Major.