Sunday, February 28, 2010
Obama signs one-year extension of Patriot Act
Sat Feb 27, 9:08 pm ET
WASHINGTON – President Barack Obama has signed a one-year extension of several provisions in the nation's main counterterrorism law, the Patriot Act.
Provisions in the measure would have expired on Sunday without Obama's signature Saturday.
The act, which was adopted in the weeks after the Sept. 11, 2001 terror attacks, expands the government's ability to monitor Americans in the name of national security.
Three sections of the Patriot Act that stay in force will:
_Authorize court-approved roving wiretaps that permit surveillance on multiple phones.
_Allow court-approved seizure of records and property in anti-terrorism operations.
_Permit surveillance against a so-called lone wolf, a non-U.S. citizen engaged in terrorism who may not be part of a recognized terrorist group.
Obama's signature comes after the House voted 315 to 97 Thursday to extend the measure.
The Senate also approved the measure, with privacy protections cast aside when Senate Democrats lacked the necessary 60-vote supermajority to pass them. Thrown away were restrictions and greater scrutiny on the government's authority to spy on Americans and seize their records.
Wednesday, February 24, 2010
But the nine-year-old canine, who has seen more of a warzone than most people will in a lifetime, is now the proud recipient of the animal equivalent of a Victoria Cross for his life-saving skills sniffing out roadside bombs in Afghanistan.
The Dickin Medal, the highest accolade a military animal can expect, will be presented to Treo and his handler Sergeant Dave Heyhoe in a special ceremony organised by the PDSA at the Imperial War Museum today.
Military working dog Treo with his handler Sergeant David Heyhoe
Treo, who saw frontline action patrolling with soldiers in Afghanistan in 2008, is now retired and has been enjoying life at home.
He and Sgt Heyhoe have returned to their former base 104 Military Working Dogs Support Unit, in North Luffenham, Rutland.
Sgt Heyhoe said: 'Treo and I have been working together for the last five years.
'We started our time together in Northern Ireland, then moved to North Luffenham, where we then went out to Afghanistan in 2008.'
Treo joined soldiers patrolling in Afghanistan in 2008
During his time on the frontline, he save countless lives by finding two IED devices
While there, Treo saved lives as he patrolled with Sgt Heyhoe in Sangin, Helmand Province.
At that time the army had 25 dogs deployed in Afghanistan to support troops in various roles, including as protection dogs and as detection dogs, working both in vehicle searches and as arms and explosives search dogs - like Treo.
'Treo's work involves searching for arms and explosives out on the ground to the forefront of the troops,' Sgt Heyhoe said.
'What we're trying to do is make sure there are no death-dealing agents out there to make sure there is no harm to the troops behind us.
'It's very important. We are part and parcel of the search element. We're not the ultimate answer but we are an aid to search.
'Another aid would be the metal detector - but Treo is a four-legged variety.'
Treo in action. The nine-year-old canine is the 63rd animal to be awarded the Dickin medal
On August 1 2008, while working as a forward detection dog in Sangin, Treo found a 'daisy chain' improvised explosive device (IED) - made of two or more explosives wired together - that had been carefully modified and concealed by the Taliban at the side of a path.
A month later, his actions saved another platoon from guaranteed casualties, again with the discovery of a daisy chain IED.
Sgt Heyhoe says he has more than just a professional relationship with Treo
Treo started his career at the Defence Animal Centre, based in Melton Mowbray, Leicestershire, when he was a year old.
He did a 12-week training course before being deployed to Northern Ireland, where he worked for three years with his first handler before Sgt Heyhoe took over.
But their relationship is now far more than just a professional partnership, Sgt Heyhoe said.
He explained: 'Basically, me and the dog have got to get a rapport. We've got to understand each other and without that we can't be effective on the ground.
'He must know when I want him to go somewhere to search, that's where he goes.
'Everyone will say that he is just a military working dog - yes, he is, but he is also a very good friend of mine. We look after each other.'
Treo is the 63rd animal to receive the Dickin Medal - introduced by PDSA founder Maria Dickin in 1943 to honour the work of animals in war - and the 27th dog to receive the prestigious award.
Since its introduction it has also been presented to 32 Second World War messenger pigeons, three horses and one cat.
Sgt Heyhoe said the praise was symbolic for all dogs and their handlers working in warzones.
He said: 'I'm very proud indeed, not only for myself and Treo, but it's for every dog and handler that's working out in Afghanistan or Iraq.
'That's what the medal means to us - taking it for the rest of the guys and their dogs.'
Major Chris Ham, officer commanding the Canine Division at the Defence Animal Centre, said dogs were playing an increasingly important role, particularly in Afghanistan.
He said: 'It's being recognised more and more in this day and age that the key capability the armed explosives dog does have lies particularly in finding IEDs.
'They give a unique contribution to the troops on the ground searching for these devices on a daily basis.
'This medal is a unique honour for all of our dog handlers, particularly all the military working dogs and their handlers that are serving in Afghanistan.'
But Major Ham also said they are still keen to recruit more dogs like Treo - especially gun dog breeds including springer spaniels, Labradors, golden retrievers, retrievers and their crosses, and larger breeds such as German shepherds.
He added: 'It's very difficult at the moment to recruit dogs and we are constantly campaigning.
'We need to recruit military working dogs all the time so we can carry on the good work they are doing
Sunday, February 21, 2010
I am always glad to put out Good News !!! Give that Puppy an extra big treat!!!
Family dog keeps lost Ariz. tot safe on cold night
by Weston Phippen and Brittany Williams - Feb. 20, 2010 12:00 AMThe Arizona Republic
Victoria was lost, lying amid the brush and rocks.
The 3-year-old's feet were swollen, her body covered in dirt and scratches. The temperature had dipped into the mid-30s, and she was wearing little more than a T-shirt. She had been out all night.
With her in the cold was her best friend, one she had known her whole life. He was a Queensland heeler named Blue.
As the sun rose over the pair Friday morning, a Department of Public Safety helicopter hovered overhead. Searchers saw Victoria. The girl was lying on the ground. The dog was right next to her.
For nearly 15 hours, relatives and authorities had been looking for Victoria Bensch, a little girl who wandered away from her Cordes Lakes home north of the Valley. A massive ground search ran throughout the night.
In the morning, after the rescue, Victoria was taken by helicopter to Phoenix Children's Hospital. She was treated for mild frostbite on her feet and was expected to stay overnight only so that doctors could make sure she was in good shape.
And Blue was doing just fine.
"The dog kept her alert, warm and gave her companionship throughout a very cold night," said Dwight D'Evelyn, spokesman for the Yavapai County Sheriff's Office.
The family, the search party, everyone was elated that the girl was found safe after her night in the cold. One sergeant, D'Evelyn said, had called it a "miracle."
"We have to give a lot of credit to Blue," Kim Rayfield, the girl's aunt said. "He pretty much stayed with her all night."
Only Victoria and Blue know what they saw that night. But her family and state and county authorities pieced together what they believed happened.
Early Thursday, Victoria and Blue were bouncing on a trampoline at her family's home in a rugged part of Cordes Lakes that borders open state land. Later that day, they were playing on the porch. About 5 p.m., Victoria wandered off to find the family's other dog, Rusty, which she mistakenly thought had walked off.
Not long after, her parents noticed her missing. They searched for Victoria for more than an hour but could not find the precocious and independent girl. Authorities were called; a search was launched.
Rescue teams scoured the area all night. They donned large down jackets and scarves as the temperature dropped. They yelled her name and walked through the brush.
The whole community pulled together, using horses, scent dogs and all-terrain vehicles. Some of the searchers carried high-intensity lights; others wore night-vision goggles. But the brush was heavy and the terrain was rocky.
Cars leaving the area were stopped and searched for signs of the girl all night long. Detectives and officers spent the night contacting registered sex offenders in the area.
By 7 a.m., they had almost completely ruled out the possibility of abduction. About 30 minutes later, the DPS helicopter launched.
After only about five minutes in the air, DPS pilot Matthew Uhl and medic Eric Tarr spotted Blue. He was in a dry creek bed about a half-mile away from Victoria's home. Then, they saw Victoria.
"She wasn't moving when we first came upon her," Uhl said. "She was kind of just looking face-down on the ground."
She rose to her knees next. The helicopter landed about 50 yards away, and Tarr, the medic, approached the girl.
At first, Blue seemed apprehensive, as if he was protecting Victoria. The girl smiled, and Blue's mood changed.
"I think once the dog realized we were there to help them out, he was very excited," Uhl said. "He ran around while the medic tended to the little girl, and when it was time to go, he jumped right into the helicopter and was ready to go."
The word went out over the police radios that the girl was safe.
"These kind of things weigh heavy on our rescue teams, so they were just excited when they found her," D'Evelyn said. "I could hear the excitement over the scanner when the crews found her."
At the hospital, Victoria's mother and father were by her side. She was all smiles. Ernest Bensch, her Dad, said he was going to get her some of her favorite food: chicken. "I am so very much relieved to have her back," Bensch said. "I will finally be able to sleep tonight."
Tuesday, February 16, 2010
But her mommy tried to tell her, that she probably should stay home Why the kids might not understand, if she went to school alone.
But she was not afraid; she knew just what to say. What to tell her classmates of why he wasn't there today.
But still her mother worried, for her to face this day alone. And that was why once again, she tried to keep her daughter home.
But the little girl went to school eager to tell them all. About a dad she never sees a dad who never calls.
There were daddies along the wall in back, for everyone to meet. Children squirming impatiently, anxious in their seats
One by one the teacher called a student from the class. To introduce their daddy, as seconds slowly passed.
At last the teacher called her name, every child turned to stare. Each of them was searching, a man who wasn't there.
And from somewhere near the back, she heard a daddy say, "Looks like another deadbeat dad, too busy to waste his day."
The words did not offend her, as she smiled up at her Mom. And looked back at her teacher, who told her to go on.
And with hands behind her back, slowly she began to speak. And out from the mouth of a child, came words incredibly unique.
"My Daddy couldn't be here, because he lives so far away. But I know he wishes he could be, since this is such a special day.
And though you cannot meet him, I wanted you to know. All about my daddy, and how much he loves me so.
He loved to tell me stories he taught me to ride my bike. He surprised me with pink roses, and taught me to fly a kite.
We used to share fudge sundaes, and ice cream in a cone. And though you cannot see him. I'm not standing here alone.
"Cause my daddy's always with me, even though we are apart I know because he told me, he'll forever be in my heart"
With that, her little hand reached up, and lay across her chest. Feeling her own heartbeat, beneath her favorite dress.
And from somewhere there in the crowd of dads, her mother stood in tears. Proudly watching her daughter, who was wise beyond her years.
For she stood up for the love of a man not in her life. Doing what was best for her, doing what was a right.
And when she dropped her hand back down, staring straight into the crowd. She finished with a voice so soft, but its message clear and loud.
"I love my daddy very much, he's my shining star.. And if he could, he'd be here, but heaven's just too far.
You see he is an American Soldier who died when his convoy was hit by a roadside bomb just this past year.
But sometimes when I close my eyes,it's like he never went away." And then she closed her eyes, and saw him there that day.
And to her mother's amazement, she witnessed with surprise. A room full of daddies and children, all starting to close their eyes.
Who knows what they saw before them, who knows what they felt inside. Perhaps for merely a second, they saw him at her side.
"I know you're with me Daddy," to the silence she called out. And what happened next made believers, of those once filled with doubt.
Not one in that room could explain it, for each of their eyes had been closed. But there on the desk beside her, was a fragrant long-stemmed pink rose.
And a child was blessed, if only for a moment, by the love of her shining star. And given the gift of believing, that heaven is never too far.
Monday, February 15, 2010
Dogs for Vets: a great idea....
There has been an increase of media coverage dealing with the growing number of non-profit organizations providing much needed companion pets for our returning troops requiring such companionship, and Pets for Vets is one of these great ideas.
This story is in two parts. The first part will cover what groups like Pets for Vets have to offer. The second part will cover the reasons why Veterans need to be screened and prepared to accept such animals just as much as the dog needs to be appropriate for the Veteran.
For example, Veterans coping with PTSD or exhibiting signs of domestic abuse must have our own demons under control before even thinking about such companionship. In most cases non-profit groups like Pets for Vets screen potential Veteran applicants to ensure a stable environment for the Pet and Vet.
I know from personal experience that most shelter pets sent out for adoption have been rescued from an abusive situation as puppies, so potential owners are screened within reason to prevent further abuse.
Simply put we do not take a dog that has had a traumatic experience of their own (PTSD if I may) and place them with someone with PTSD unless that person is undergoing treatment and has the condition pretty much under control that is the Veteran is stabilized. The addition of such a companion may serve as a compliment to any other therapy the Veteran receives.
I have ’stabilized’ type 2 bipolar meaning not only is it under control enough for me to live a normal [for me] life, but I never have required hospitalization for Mental Illness (MI). Shiba pictured here is my companion dog that I trained myself and love very much. She had been abused and battered before I got her to include having her tail cut off by the previous owner and tied to a tree with no shelter year round in Ohio including the dead of winter. It was a miracle Shiba survived; when decent neighbors reported the abuse. She looked nothing like this photo and was near starvation, fearing human contact. I intend ensuring all those demons in her experience go away, and she never suffers again for the rest of her days.
Lastly, it must be noted and clear that there is a vast difference between companion dogs like mine for people with MI and Service Dogs for people with physical combined with MI or Cognitive Impairment Disorders.
Robert L. Hanafin, Major, U.S. Air Force-Retired, Veterans Today News
(THE PETS FOR VETS LOGO IS COPYRIGHT OF THE PETS FOR VETS PROGRAM LINKED BELOW)
The Pets for Vets program is dedicated to providing a second chance for shelter pets by rescuing, training and pairing them with America’s veterans who want a companion animal.
This is a win-win way to give back to our troops who have given so much to us. They fought hard for our country and made us proud. Pets for Vets are a concrete way to say thank you and to benefit our returning veterans.
Many of our Operation Iraqi Freedom and Operation Enduring Freedom veterans suffer from physical and emotional injuries making it difficult to transition back to civilian life. Pets for Vets can help! Our goal is to heal their wounds by bringing together man’s best friend and our returning soldiers while showing them both that we have not forgotten.
Every veteran who is able to care for an animal is eligible to receive a Pets for Vets companion animal.
The Pets for Vets program is dedicated to providing a second chance for shelter pets by rescuing, training and pairing them with America’s veterans who want a companion animal.
3 to 4 million dogs and cats are euthanized each year. These dogs can make excellent companion animals but never have that chance. Our dedicated animal trainer will evaluate and rescue the shelter animals and provide additional training to ensure that they are able to assimilate into a home, which is quite different from a shelter environment.
Sadly, there are alarming statistics of suicide, family abuse and Post Traumatic Stress Disorder facing Veterans returning to civilian life after military duty. This can cause a downward spiral of apathy, unemployment, broken relationships, addiction and depression. It is believed, as I believe, that companion animals can be the life saving therapy or friend that many returning service men and women need.
Medical studies have shown that companion animals significantly improve mental and physical health, including reducing stress, depression and anxiety, symptoms experienced by many serving in the military.
The Pets for Vets team interviews each Veteran to ascertain exactly what he or she is looking for in a companion animal; they pair this with his or her personality and lifestyle to make the perfect pet/veteran match. Once the perfect pet is selected for the Veteran, he/she then spends time in the home of a trainer who teaches him/her basic obedience and other valuable behaviors needed to live with his/her new owner. This can include becoming comfortable with wheel chairs or behaviors needed to help with PTSD and TBI.
Your support helps groups such as Pets for Vets match a rescued companion dog (or pet) with an American veteran who would benefit from having a companion. In accomplishing this mission, a decent effort like Pets for Vets does not want to create an additional burden on the Veteran; with each dog/Veteran match they provide all of the necessary equipment for them to start their new life together.
VT Editor’s note: It is the responsibility of each Veteran and Military Family to check out the credentials and what an organization like Pets for Vets offers, because the focus and provisions of equipment and support may vary. In addition, a good non-profit like Pets for Vets will provide a pet that is healthy and up to date on all vaccinations.
Your donations helps to ensure these non-profits have everything they need.
In the case of Pets for Vets, in order to not create an additional burden on us Veterans, with each dog /Veteran they match they provide all of the necessary equipment for us to start our new life together.
Your help is needed to ensure that they have everything they require. Please donate any of the items from their wish list to:
Address for equipment donations:
Long Beach VA Medical Center
5901 east 7th Street Building 50 (03/135)
Long Beach, CA 90822
Crates (all sizes), Beds (all sizes), Towels, Metal food bowls
Kong chew toys (all sizes), Stuffed dog toys, 6 foot leashes
Dog Collars (all sizes), No slip collars EZ walk harness,
Dog food, Dog treats, Grooming equipment (brushes, nail clippers).
(It is the policy of Veterans Today to help promote groups like Pets for Vets, but we do not endorse nor solicit funds on their behalf. Major Hanafin says
Monday, February 8, 2010
Saving Cinnamon: The Amazing True Story of a Missing Military Puppy and the Desperate Mission to Bring Her Home.”
15000 years ago, Man & the ancestors of our K9 friends made a pact - We would provide warmth & shelter from the elements - They would provide protection from all the things that lurked in the darkness that threatened us. To this day, the pact remains sacrosanct, likely the longest standing and most treasured unwritten agreement in the history of Man......
I am devoted to Man's best friends....life without them is not the same.....recently I saw a dog handler walking his pal on base here in Kandahar. I stopped and yelled out to him, " You are the luckiest bastard on this base....you get to have your pal with you wherever you go...." He replied, Yes, Yes I am....I am the luckiest bastard in this place ! " Never more truer words were spoken in this god-forsaken land.....
Here is an overview of a story of Cinnamon, rescued from here by a NAVY Reservist - GO NAVY ! The Navy saves many, including lost little puppies named Cinnamon....From Dogchannel.com
A Special Dog Rescue Mission
New book details one dog’s journey from war-torn Afghanistan to his American home.
When Christine Sullivan’s brother, Navy Reservist Mark Feffer, was deployed to Afghanistan, she worried. But when she learned that he had befriended a stray puppy in the war-torn country, she was relieved that he had a little canine company so far from home.
Thus begins the amazing journey relayed in Sullivan’s new book “Saving Cinnamon: The Amazing True Story of a Missing Military Puppy and the Desperate Mission to Bring Her Home.”
What began as an occasional canine acquaintance between Feffer and a sweet dog named Cinnamon, who wandered into his military base outside Kandahar, soon blossomed into a deep soul connection between puppy and soldier. Sullivan enjoyed hearing the secondhand accounts of her brother’s new canine companion and understood why when he prepared to return home, Feffer couldn’t imagine leaving behind his new best friend.
unbreakable bond between owner and dog.
But little did the siblings know that Cinnamon’s transport would entangle them in a 44-day international search when the dog is abandoned by her handler at the airport and goes missing in a foreign country. What follows is an amazing tale of love and determination, heartbreak and redemption and the
Told through Sullivan’s eyes, the book details the harrowing experience of coordinating an international rescue mission to bring her brother’s dog home safely. Through e-mail exchanges, her own detective work and Sullivan’s pure determination, readers follow Cinnamon’s extraordinary journey from her difficult beginnings to the unlikely reunion with her beloved owner.
“Saving Cinnamon: The Amazing True Story of a Missing Military Puppy and the Desperate Mission to Bring Her Home” by Christine Sullivan is on sale now.
Wednesday, February 3, 2010
SEMPER FI !! Go get'm Devil Dogs!
In Afghanistan, Marines ready attack on Taliban redoubt
A major assault on the town of Marja in southern Afghanistan's Helmand province is being prepared.
By Tony Perry February 4, 2010
Reporting from Camp Leatherneck, Afghanistan
U.S. Marines and the Afghan army plan a major assault on Taliban fighters in Marja, the last main community under the militants' control in what had been a largely lawless area of the Helmand River Valley, a top Marine said Wednesday.
"We are going to gain control," Col. George "Slam" Amland told reporters. "We are going to alter the ecosystem considerably."
Amland, deputy commander of Marine forces in southern Afghanistan, would not discuss the timing of the assault or how many thousands of troops would be involved. But the attack, he said, would involve Marine units that were part of the troop buildup authorized by President Obama in December.
The operation also will show how the Afghan army is growing in numbers and competency, he predicted."This is a big leap for the government of Afghanistan," he said