Sunday, August 26, 2007

Conflict in Our World

I watched the movie Blood Diamonds last night late. I couldn’t go to sleep right away. When I woke up this morning it was on my mind. Yes, it was an action movie with Leonardo DiCaprio, one of the reasons I wanted to watch it. If you take the almost unbelievable action fantasy out of it and look at the backdrop of the movie you see the scenes for which the World Relief and Humanitarian Aid section of Good News Now exists. The war torn nations of the world are not the works of the imagination of a Hollywood script writer nor the journalist type that the Maddy Bowen represented. This is our world.

There are questions the movie raises. Will it make the news, the blood baths? Will seeing the city of a million refugees make anyone care about what is happening in Africa? Will the western world care? The answer was probably not. I think that is why these movies are made. We won’t watch the news and care, but we might listen to a story if well produced. This was a highly effective well produced story. It brought to our attention problems in Africa, the history, the motive for the conflicts. It introduced us to the people who suffer and those who try to make a difference. There was a side story about a man who rescues children soldiers. It showed us the refugee cities and the unimaginable task of rescuing and sustaining a million people. It brought me to a closer understanding about the work of the people behind the NGOs that respond to world conflict that we like to post on Good New Now. It makes me more grateful to them.

When I post a World Relief and Humanitarian Aid story, it is the success stories that make the cut. For every success story there are ten pleas for more help in conflict regions. There are more attempts to expose the problems so people will care and at the very least as Maddy Bowen says in the movie, they may write a check. Or maybe they will write their congressman and ask what we are doing.

This leads me to my email this morning from Iraq. I have not received one for a month or so, but from time to time I am sent article from the field. This morning it had a very powerful effect on me because I woke up with a real sense of the heaviness and horror of war and conflict.

Iraq is a difficult situation. But the reality is our nation committed to help. Right or wrong, popular or not. There in the desert our troops risk their lives to make a difference. This is not indifference. This is action, thought out, supported with the goal of leaving one day and leaving behind a legacy of peace. There is a lot of cynicism among us. Can there ever be peace? Should we even be there? Whatever your persuasion the reality is we are there. This is a story about people trying to make a difference at the risk of their own lives. The stories of our men in Iraq need to be told.

Most dangerous job; 38th Engineers clear routes of IEDs for Stryker Brigade

By Staff Sgt. Russell Bassett, 4th Stryker Brigade Combat Team, 2nd Infantry Division Public Affairs Office

TAJI, Iraq – Improvised explosive devices are the enemy’s deadliest weapon in Iraq, accounting for a large percentage of all coalition fatalities.

The weighty task of clearing IEDs from all the routes in the 4th Stryker Brigade Combat Team, 2nd Infantry Division’s area of operations falls on the shoulders of the 38th Engineer Company. On a daily basis, the engineer Soldiers are out on the roads working to ensure they are safe for the rest of the brigade to travel on.

“My whole company and I take it very personally every time the brigade loses a Soldier to an IED,” said Capt. Adam Harless, commander of the 38th Eng. Co. “A lot of my guys would like to be on the roads 24-7, because it seems like the times a unit gets hit is when we haven’t been on that road.”

Harless is a testament to the dangerous nature of the 38th Engineers’ work.
On Thursday, the commander traveled back to the United States to receive further treatment of a leg injury obtained when an IED went off near him.

“The blast got me pretty good,” Harless said, referring to the Aug. 7 incident. “I felt like I got blown up, but I felt okay. I was able to walk. It was the adrenaline, I guess.”

The full extent of his injuries are unknown at this time, but the commander said he had a bad concussion and he may have a torn his Anterior Curciate Ligament (ACL).

“I just want to get it fixed and then come back,” the Chester, Va., resident said adjusting the knee brace that barely conceals the bruising on his leg. “Me and my guys will never quit.”

Harless’ attitude is typical of his engineer Soldiers. They seem to understand the importance of their work, and despite its dangerous nature, morale remains high.

“We are able to keep our morale up.” said Sgt. 1st Class Wade Lawson, platoon sergeant with the 38th Engineers’ 2nd Platoon. “The most rewarding part of the job is knowing that Soldiers in the brigade are able to travel up and down these routes safely. I have a lot of guys that don’t really know me, but they know that I am part of the route clearing team, and they have come up and thanked me for keeping the roads safe.”

While the engineers don’t always find an IED on their patrols, many times they do. Lawson, a resident of Pittsburg, Pa., told the story of finding four IEDs in one day, all of which were spaced 100 meters apart from each other.

“It’s a good feeling knowing that we have saved some Soldiers lives,” he said.

Brigade commander Col. Jon Lehr said the 38th Engineers are the Stryker brigade’s “unsung heroes.”

“Those guys go out there everyday and put their lives on the line clearing routes, and I will tell you they are having an impact,” said Lehr, a resident of Dover, Pa. “If it wasn’t for them, we would have a lot more successful enemy attacks against us. I am amazed everyday with their bravery. I wish I had nine 38th Engineer Companies.”

In order to do their mission, the 38th uses a wide variety of specialized vehicles. These vehicles include: the RG-31 and Cougar reconnaissance vehicles, the Husky rolling mine detector, and the Buffalo route clearance vehicle.

The engineers travel slowly along the routes, stopping to check out any suspicious object.
“We spend a lot of hours in the truck,” said Sgt. Joshua Brown, 2nd Platoon team leader. “Sometimes it’s five or six hours, but some have lasted 19 hours. We’ve taken a few hits, but by the grace of God no one has been killed.”

Brown, of Cincinnati, Ohio, said the toughest part of the job is knowing that “we go out and hunt for the most dangerous thing in country. We are a small piece of the big picture, but we are a key element. It’s good knowing that other elements in the task force can get down their routes safely and accomplish their mission.”

Wednesday, August 22, 2007

Ruthieonart’s Top Articles List for August 22, 2007

Here are this week’s articles that are just plain ole fum (fun). Or as Mary one of our new webettes would say, hysterical. Mary is easily amused. She is the person posting all the “odd” stories officially on Good News Now. There are some new changes on the website (! We have helpers… Mary, Mary Beth and Margaret. I am still the webmaster. Yikes! We are hoping to bring in a broader ranges of stories from different parts of the country.

I am posting stories from Texas, Mary from Alabama, Margaret from Ohio and Mary Beth from Chicagoland. Welcome ladies and thank you for your selections this week.

Next, add to this article to my new exercise routine for my inner dancer list!

2. Hula hoopla: Hula hooping to good health

Some articles need no comments. I will put this on the why I am just proud to be from Ohio list.

3. Ohio Market Wins Nation's 'Best Restroom' Award

For the who doesn’t love Weird Al list?

4. Weird Al's Imitation: A Funky Form of Flattery

Ending on a more serious note, an article for the serious blogger in me list.

5. Bloggers to the Ramparts! (Stop First at the Registration Booth)

This is about a Blogger Convention in Las Vegas. What does that mean for bloggers? It means blogging is business and business is good.

And last but not least the picture I won’t put on the homepage award because it belong on my even the most intolerant of us need an editor list.

Tuesday, August 7, 2007

Favorites and Fun...what I won't post on the main site

This was my favorite article today. I wish I could find more articles like this.

This could be sock-monkey heaven

Sock Monkey Ministry is alive and well. I am personally excited to see people doing what they love and reaching out to people. And who doesn’t love and cherish sock-monkeys? I think it was my Aunt Margaret who made one for us. I think there was just one… so my question is, who has the sock-monkey? Come on sisters fess up!

I knew if I searched Flickr for photos I would come up with a creative person who makes sock-monkeys and sells them on the internet. YES. My search paid off.


And our Sockmonkey maker has a web business. Please visit both her sites for a good time.
From Tamara the sock-monkey creator extraordinaire's website:

“Tamara has dedicated her life to international bible education and she often finds herself in far off countries doing just that. Yet regardless of where she is, she spreads her enjoyment of knitting, crocheting and making Sock Monkeys to those around her. Her knitting seminars are usually attended by 10-20 people and her "Sock Monkey School" is world famous.”

Thank you Tamara the Sock-monkey maker for making it such a good news day. And helping spread Sock-monkey Ministry.

And just to prove there is a God... I am not making this up.

Airline asks, 'Is that a monkey in your ponytail?'

And now for what I would not post on the main website but wanted to share with our blog readers… that actually turned out to be good news!

Woman's ashes back after accidental sale

This morning when the Boston Globe arrived in my mailbox the ashes were still missing. I want you to read this for yourself. We always love a happy ending at Good News Now!

OK here are the humor photos I rejected for the humor section of Good News Now.

Why I don't surf!

Original sock-monkey.


Friday, August 3, 2007

From the Heart

There are several stories out there in the news on the internet that have spoken to the issues of the heart. They are about human relationships, people seeing others in need and responding. People overcoming struggles.

The first is a story within the story about the bridge collapse. Jeremy Hernandez is a worker for the Waite House. He is the gym coordinator for the group. He was on the bus when the 35W bridge collapsed and he and 6o others plunged towards the river below. They were returning from a Waite House sponsored trip to a local water park.

Hernandez sprung into action and broke out the back of the bus and helped all the children in the bus escape. The story is from the NY Times and is an excellent read.

Stunned Victim Turns Hero

The second story is about an artist who as the result of her struggle with breast cancer and in the midst the loss of loved ones thrives.

For artist, dire prognosis was creative push

Jeanne Bonine a watercolor painter returns to her home town of St. Paul Minnesota for the Uptown Art Fair, which runs today through Sunday in Uptown Minneapolis at Lake Street and Hennepin Avenue. Jeanne is among 350 artists who will exhibit work this weekend.

Last and not least from the Orange County Register…

Quiksilver co-founder niece finds her "sister" in the jungle

This is a very interesting tale. It is about how two young women came together from very different backgrounds, making the same life changing decision and having their lives become intertwined with the common goal to help the people of the island of Sumba, a primitive Indonesian island.

Finding and posting the Shot of the Day is one of my favorite assignemts as webmaster for Good News Now. I find most of the photography from two sites; Flickr and Gather. Good News Now hosts groups on both sites where member submit photography for Shot of the Day. I want to thank all our members for their contributions.

Shot of the Day for August 3, 2007 is called Colorful Fruit by Flickr Member ninjaneil902.