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23 February 2009

Through a glass darkly...

There are few films which accurately portray the terror, boredom and camaraderie of armed conflict.  Many movies, even the documentaries, provide a significant slant or bias on their presentation.  We have seen a plethora of movies about soldiers in the last few years, certainly since the start of armed conflict in Afghanistan.  HBO's documentary, Generation Kill, has been lauded and lambasted.  I have not seen this presentation.  I truly enjoyed Gunner Palace, a well made film with little editorializing. 
 
The experience of combat (to which I have only remote experience) is a truly individual experience.  The behavior in combat of a nation's armed forces is reflective upon the nation's values and the upbringing of their citizenry.  There is widespread agreement, even among strong anti-war / military groups, that the behavior of the United States military has continued to set new standards for behavior, adherence to rules of conflict and protection of innocent citizenry. 
 
It is with this in mind that I share the attached information about an upcoming documentary.  At no time in our history have we been able to review the recent past with such clarity.  Thousands of hours of recorded video, audio and millions of pages of documents exist chronicling our actions in the current conflicts.  It is our responsibility as engaged citizens to examine this record, objectively, to determine the successes and opportunities for our military forces and by extension our foreign policy. 


From: info106@info.govdelivery.com [mailto:info106@info.govdelivery.com] On Behalf Of American Forces Press Service
Sent: Monday, February 23, 2009 12:52 PM
Subject: Documentary Depicts Commitment, Sacrifice of Soldiers, Families

Documentary Depicts Commitment, Sacrifice of Soldiers, Families
Mon, 23 Feb 2009 11:47:00 -0600

American Forces Press Service


Documentary Depicts Commitment, Sacrifice of Soldiers, Families

By John J. Kruzel
American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON, Feb. 23, 2009 - On location in the Middle of Nowhere, Iraq, filmmaker Jake Rademacher focuses his lens on a unit of young reconnaissance troops with whom he's embedded.

Click photo for screen-resolution image
David Scantling, chief executive officer of private equity firm Scantling Technology Ventures; Producer Norman S. Powell; Army Capt. Isaac Rademacher, actor Gary Sinese and filmmaker Jake Rademacher pose for photos after an advance screening of "Brothers at War," a film that documents Jake Rademacher's experience in Iraq as he sought to understand what motivates his two military brothers. The sneak preview took place Feb. 20, 2009, at the National Press Club in Washington, D.C. The film releases at theaters across the country March 13. DoD photo by John J. Kruzel

(Click photo for screen-resolution image);high-resolution image available.
For five days they wait in the desert near Syria, watching idly for smugglers bringing weapons, cash or foreign fighters across the border. Conversation is the only thing that colors the monotony of the blank horizon.

One soldier says he joined the ranks to make his father proud. Another is confident his duty will benefit posterity. And a crew-cut junior enlisted troop says through a wad of chewing tobacco he's not sure why wears the uniform.

"If you find out, let me know," he tells Rademacher.

At the heart of Rademacher's documentary "Brothers at War" are the kind of open-ended questions many civilians have about what U.S. servicemembers do and why. Using his own family as a microcosm, Rademacher paints an intimate portrait that seeks to understand the commitment and sacrifice attendant to military service.

The Rademacher clan represents a compelling cross-section, with two of Jake's brothers, Isaac and Joe, serving as active-duty soldiers.

The film follows Jake to Iraq, where he shadows Isaac, a captain in the Army's 82nd Airborne Division, on his second deployment in Mosul. Jakes also walks a mile in the shoes of Joe -- a 23-year-old staff sergeant sniper and Army Ranger also in the 82nd Airborne -- when he joins snipers at "hide sites" in the Sunni Triangle.

The culmination of Rademacher's multiple journeys to Iraq amounted to 35 interviews, 25 missions and 400 hours of tape, which he distilled into a feature-length film. Brothers at War releases nationally on March 13.

"I wanted to dive right into the front lines," Rademacher said at the National Press Club here last week after an advance screening of the film. "And I learned about my brothers through their brothers in arms."

On the home front, the documentary illustrates the effects that repeated deployments have on spouses and children. But the film is far from a social commentary, and there is a distinct absence of a political or moral agenda.

After the Feb. 20 screening, Isaac revealed that Jake's motivation for making the film was two-fold. He wanted to document Isaac's life as a memento for his young daughter, Hunter, in case Isaac didn't return from duty.

Jake also wanted to open the eyes of the American public to the reality of the front lines, Isaac said.

"I've never seen anything that shows so much truth and then steps away," he added.

Gary Sinese, one of the film's executive producers, attended the screening along with a group of soldiers recovering at the Walter Reed Army Medical Center here. Sinese was eager to sign onto the project after it was screened for him last year, he said.

"Brothers at War presents such a positive depiction of military families," he said. "It's a great American documentary that speaks my language."

Army Sgt. 1st Class Jorge Pineiro, a liaison for wounded troops recovering at Walter Reed, said he could see the emotion worn on the faces of the 10th Mountain Division soldiers with him at the screening.

"Rademacher did an excellent job representing what the soldiers go through while stationed in Iraq," Pineiro said. "And you could see it on the faces of the soldiers over here.

"Some of them you could see some emotion, some of them were reliving what they went through over there," he said. "It was pretty emotional."

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18 February 2009

If nothing else comes from Iraq...

A model of opportunity for women in Iraq is being delivered.  In Iran, a burgeoning set of freedoms for women was derailed by the Islamic Revolution.  Although women still enjoy some freedoms, in neighboring countries this is not the case.  Don't even get me started on the treatment of homosexuals.  The culture of many nations under Islamic influence is severely restricted in the category of human rights, equality and freedom.  In the case of Pakistan, the Pakistani government agreed to enforce Sharia in order to mitigate the influence of Taliban militants.  Let me be clear, any religion, government or system of laws in which a portion of the population is treated unequally due to class, gender, faith, race, personal orientation (providing it's not sociopathy) or other "uncontrollable" aspect is wrong and should be challenged.  Proposition 8 in California is a bad example in the United States.  However, there is much work to be done in the rest of the world.  The UN, not my favorite organization - but better than Sea Shepherd - even codifies these beliefs in their Human Rights charter.  It is politically tough to address these issues as a government when we must "play nice" with our neighbors and "respect cultural differences".  At times we must stand firm on our principles, while not ignoring our own shortcomings, and place the scrutiny clearly where it belongs.   
 

Initiative Improves Iraqi Women's Quality of Life
Wed, 18 Feb 2009 10:14:00 -0600

American Forces Press Service


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Have another inquiry? Visit the online FAQ at www.defenselink.mil/faq/comment.aspx for up-to-date information.

Get the help you, your family, and fellow servicemembers need, when you need it. Visit www.WarriorCare.mil to learn more.

Check out the National Resource Directory at www.nationalresourcedirectory.org, a new web-based resource for wounded, ill and injured service members, veterans, their families, families of the fallen and those who support them from the Departments of Defense, Labor, and Veterans Affairs.

This service is provided to you at no charge by U.S. Department of Defense. Visit us on the web at http://www.defenselink.mil/.

GovDelivery, Inc. sending on behalf of the U

Initiative Improves Iraqi Women's Quality of Life

By Army Spc. Debralee P. Crankshaw
Special to American Forces Press Service

CAMP VICTORY, Iraq, Feb. 18, 2009 - A rash of suicide bombings by women in Iraq in 2008 led officials to create a program to empower Iraqi women by fostering equality and the ensuring their basic human rights are met.

Click photo for screen-resolution image
Army Capt. Jennifer Glossinger, Women's Initiative program coordinator, speaks with a woman about issues Iraqi women face near Baghdad, Feb. 16, 2009. Courtesy photo

(Click photo for screen-resolution image);high-resolution image available.
The first component of the three-part Women's Initiative Program is to reverse the trend in female suicide bombings, which increased from seven in 2007 to 38 last year, officials said.

"The thought behind it is that the women have lost so many of the men in their families -- fathers, brothers, husbands, friends," said Army Capt. Jennifer Glossinger, Women's Initiative coordinator for the 10th Mountain Division's 413th Civil Affairs Battalion. "What happens to so many is they become very vulnerable, because they don't have many resources. A lot of times they're left with many [children] to take care of. They may not be able to read or write.

"The Women's Initiative looks to fill in the gaps and provide some of those basic needs to mitigate some of those female suicide bombings," she said.

The second part of the initiative is economic development. "Eighty percent of employment comes from the agricultural sector in [the Multinational Division Center area of operations]," Glossinger said. "Seventy percent of that work force is composed of women. Women do just about all of the work."

The initiative works with provincial reconstruction teams and agriculture teams, which can include women's programs at extension centers.

"The extension center's main goal is to create a place where people can come and learn about new technology," Glossinger said. "They can come together and pool their money to buy equipment or work as a team and help strengthen each other."

Glossinger said she also would like to see youth programs and a promotion of literacy at the extension center.

While rural areas are the main focus of the program, the initiative also encourages women in urban areas to obtain grants to start businesses.

The initiative's third area of focus is human rights. One way to ensure these rights is to encourage women to help other women.

"In Dhi Qar there are 12 women lawyers, and they are talking about opening a women's center there and providing legal services to women," Glossinger said.

The initiative's goal is to provide information and support to better assist Iraqi women.

"Our main goal is not to change the culture, but to strengthen what they have in terms of employment and education," Glossinger said. "I think it's important to be realistic in what you focus on. Most of the women in the [Multinational Division Center] area are rural and need the most basic things like jobs and education."

(Army Spc. Debralee P. Crankshaw serves in Multinational Division Center.)

Related Sites:
Multinational Corps Iraq
.S. Department of Defense · 380 Jackson Street, Suite 550 · St. Paul, MN 55101 · 1-800-439-1420

03 February 2009

No to EFCA...

Folks should take some time to educate themselves about the EFCA. This is a dangerous, union developed, piece of legislation which will effectively eliminate any privacy, discussion and freedom regarding an individual's right to organize. Imagine your workplace placed under the bargaining agreement of a union, without a fair hearing or vote. Think it can't happen? Take a look at some of the targets outlined by the AFL-CIO, SEIU and others.


From: chamber_list@mailmanager.net [mailto:chamber_list@mailmanager.net] On Behalf Of Bill Miller, U.S. Chamber of Commerce
Sent: Tuesday, February 03, 2009 4:32 PM
Subject: Action Alert: No to EFCA - the Time is Now



The time has come. The Employee Free Choice Act is here.

As Roll Call reported this morning, labor unions are staging a theatrical event on the Hill tomorrow, and EFCA is expected to be introduced in the House of Representatives this week. The preliminaries are over, this is the main event--and as we continue to hear from you--our economy can't afford a defeat.

Union leaders want to change the rules of how unions are recognized by encouraging legislators to do away with the proven practice of holding free and fair secret ballot elections. By forcing workers out of the voting booth and subjecting them to a public 'card check' scheme, the bill would take privacy, power, and choice away from America's workers.

Save the Secret Ballot, Save the Economy. Join our Virtual March on Washington, and join the fight.

Write to your Congressmen now and tell them to say No to EFCA and protect secret ballots for America's workers.


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02 February 2009

Sinupret, con or cure...

There is a wave of marketing on television, in print and over the internet of an “herbal remedy” called Sinupret.  Sinupret is a concoction of a German company named Bionorica.  Sinupret falls into the grey area of a supplement, largely unregulated by the FDA.  There is no guarantee of standardization of dosage and the rules for efficacy are non-existent as compared to OTC (over-the-counter) medications.  Ironically, a pan European court ruled Sinupret “superfluous” and “ineffective” as early as 1992.   

 

Some have spent some time pondering the possible negative effects of the  "herbal remedy".  The product itself is 8% alcohol and many are under the mistaken impression that this is a homeopathic medicine, which it is not.  I am always very wary of any company claiming to have a “proprietary” claim on their ingredients.  This product is clearly an herbal, akin to St. John’s Wort and other herbs which have proven to be problematic for individuals when combined with other medicines. 

 

Sinupret is marketed by Dr. Bob Sears, a paid physician spokesman on Bionorica’s staff.  He carefully excludes any claims of efficacy and dances around the edges as to exactly what the mechanism of action is behind the drug.  Much like the bally hooed Head-On product, it is likely that any review of the product’s capabilities will come up far short.

 

Parents who administer this product to their children do so with good intent.  However, the lack of oversight, trials and data supporting even the most benign claim puts their children at risk.  There is no scientific data supporting the claims of stronger immune systems.  A stronger immune system is best enhanced by a healthy diet, good hygiene and rest.  Children who are stressed from too little of the aforementioned and placed in close contact (i.e. school or preschool) with other similar germ factories are likely to get colds.

 

In a world where the Snugli can sell more than 40 million units in a few months, a slickly promoted bottle of snake oil, pushed by the fears of millions of parents, can gain equal, if unearned profits. 

 

At least the Snugli will keep you warm.

 

Caveat emptor.