Sunday, May 22, 2005

"Be, All That You Can Be..." Somewhere else, this place kinda blows... (trust me)

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Army may be facing exodus of young officers

Officers Plot Exit Strategy

By Mark Mazzetti
L.A. Times Staff Writer
Sun May 22, 7:55 AM ET

KILLEEN, Texas — Army Capts. Dave Fulton and Geoff Heiple spent 12 months dodging roadside bombs and rounding up insurgents along Baghdad's "highway of death" — the six miles of pavement linking downtown Baghdad to the capital city's airport. Two weeks after returning stateside to Ft. Hood, they ventured to a spartan conference room at the local Howard Johnson to find out about changing careers.

Lured by a headhunting firm that places young military officers in private-sector jobs, the pair, both 26, expected anonymity in the crowded room.

Instead, as Fulton and Heiple sipped Budweisers pulled from Styrofoam coolers next to the door, they spotted nearly a dozen familiar faces from their cavalry battalion, which had just ended a yearlong combat tour in Iraq.

The shocks of recognition came as they exchanged quick, awkward glances with others from their unit, each man clearly surprised to see someone else considering a life outside the military.

"This is a real eye-opener," said Fulton, a West Point graduate who saw a handful of cadets from his class. "It seems like everyone in the room is either from my squad or from my class."

More than three years after the Sept. 11 attacks spawned an era of unprecedented strain on the all-volunteer military, it is scenes like this that keep the Army's senior generals awake at night. With thousands of soldiers currently on their second combat deployment in Iraq or Afghanistan and some preparing for their third this fall, evidence is mounting that an exodus of young Army officers may be looming on the horizon.

It is especially troubling for Pentagon officials that the Army's pool of young captains, which forms the backbone of infantry and armored units deployed in Iraq and Afghanistan, could be the hardest hit.



BONUS: "Surf's Up!"


Protesters Heckle Laura Bush in Jerusalem

Associated Press Writer
1 hour, 54 minutes ago

JERUSALEM - Laura Bush waded into Middle East tensions on Sunday during chaotic visits to sacred religious sites, where crowds and hecklers grew so rowdy that armed guards had to restrain them.

America's first lady said what she witnessed showed that passions are running high among Palestinians and Israelis. "The United States will do what they can in this process," she said, urging both sides to work for peace.

Before entering the ruins of an 8th-century palace in the West Bank town of Jericho, Mrs. Bush told reporters, "As you can tell from our day here, this is a place of emotion, everywhere we went, from the Western Wall to the Dome of the Rock to here."

At the Western Wall, Judaism's holiest shrine, protesters demanded that the U.S. release of an American Jew imprisoned for spying for Israel. At her stop nearby at the Dome of the Rock, she faced heckling from angry Palestinians. One man yelled, "How dare you come in here! Why your husband kill Muslim?"



U.S., Iraq Troops Launch Baghdad Offensive

Associated Press Writer
15 minutes ago

BAGHDAD, Iraq - Seven Iraqi battalions backed by U.S. forces launched an offensive in the capital on Sunday in an effort to stanch the violence that has killed more than 550 people in less than a month, targeting insurgents who have attacked the dangerous road to Baghdad's airport and Abu Ghraib prison.

Aides to a radical anti-American Shiite cleric, meanwhile, sought to defuse tension between Sunnis and the majority Shiites after a recent series of sectarian killings.

Iraq's government took the diplomatic offensive, joining the United States in its oft-repeated demands that Syria close its porous border to foreign fighters.

A senior Iraqi Trade Ministry official was killed in an ongoing terror campaign that has killed more than 550 people in less than one month.



Gas Prices Drop by Average of 6 Cents

1 hour, 10 minutes ago

CAMARILLO, Calif. - The average gasoline price nationwide for all grades tumbled 6 cents in two weeks, continuing a slide in pump prices that began last month, an industry analyst said Sunday.



U.S. Forces Kill 12 Rebels in Afghanistan

Associated Press Writer
2 hours, 10 minutes ago

KABUL, Afghanistan - U.S. airstrikes and ground troops killed 12 insurgents who had attacked a coalition patrol in eastern Afghanistan's border region in the latest wave of fighting with Taliban-led rebels, the U.S. military said Sunday.

The United Nations called for Afghan human rights investigators to be allowed into Bagram, the main U.S. base in Afghanistan, after the New York Times reported poorly trained U.S. soldiers there had repeatedly abused prisoners.

Afghan President Hamid Karzai, on the eve of his Monday meeting with President Bush in Washington, said he was angry about the reported abuse and called for more Afghan control over the operations of the 16,700 U.S. troops in his country as well as punishment for any U.S. soldiers who mistreat prisoners.



'Star Wars' earns $108.5 million in first U.S. weekend

Sunday May 22, 3:03PM ET

George Lucas' final "Star Wars" movie scored the second-best three-day weekend of all time on Sunday, but the Force was not strong enough to prevent overall ticket sales in North America from posting a year-on-year-decline for the 13th consecutive weekend.

"Star Wars: Episode III -- Revenge of the Sith" sold an estimated $108.5 million worth of tickets for the Friday-to-Sunday period, taking its total to $158.5 million since it opened after midnight on Thursday.

Its four-day haul sets a new record, surpassing the $134.3 million tally of 2003's "The Matrix Reloaded." Its Thursday tally of $50 million also set a one-day record, beating the $44.8 million sum for "Shrek 2" last year.

The three-day weekend record is held by "Spider-Man," which opened to almost $115 million in 2002. "Revenge of the Sith" narrowly pipped "Shrek 2," which opened with $108 million. Rankings could change when final data are issued on Monday.



Third House panel begins steroids inquiry with letters to leagues

AP Sports Writer
May 20, 2005

WASHINGTON (AP) -- A third congressional committee opened an investigation into steroids in U.S. sports, asking Major League Baseball, the NBA, NFL, NHL and their unions to turn over documents about their drug programs.

House Judiciary Committee chairman James Sensenbrenner, a Wisconsin Republican, and ranking Democrat John Conyers of Michigan sent 13 letters Friday asking for ``any and all policies, protocols, guidance, instructions, standards, methods, e-mail messages, and memoranda explaining or describing (your) anti-doping efforts.''

The Judiciary Committee plans to have the information it receives from the leagues analyzed by a nonpartisan research arm of the Library of Congress.

``This is the broadest, most comprehensive investigation planned by any committee and is being performed by a neutral entity,'' Conyers said. ``This should equip ... the Judiciary Committee with the information we need to oversee and consider possible legislation in this arena.''

The House Government Reform Committee and a House Energy and Commerce subcommittee already were carrying out separate inquiries into steroid use.

``The more the merrier. This is an important issue, and we're glad other committees agree,'' said Dave Marin, spokesman for Government Reform chairman Tom Davis, a Virginia Republican.



San Antonio 121, Phoenix 114

AP Sports Writer
May 22, 2005

AP - May 22, 6:54 pm EDT

PHOENIX (AP) -- Although they're still known for defense, the San Antonio Spurs might soon start convincing people to respect their offense, too.

They certainly proved it Sunday to the scoring experts in Phoenix.

With Tim Duncan, Tony Parker and Brent Barry leading the way, the Spurs outscored the league's top offensive team down the stretch, beating the Suns 121-114 in the opener of the Western Conference finals.

The first playoff series featuring the league's highest-scoring offense against the stingiest defense was supposed to be a contrast of styles, but San Antonio turned the tables instead. Coach Gregg Popovich has been saying that his team's scoring ability was underrated -- and they wasted no time proving it.

Despite ankle problems, Duncan helped the Spurs score 30 points in the first quarter and 55 in the first half. Even when their 11-point lead turned into an 8-point deficit in the third quarter -- when things looked to be falling in place for Phoenix -- San Antonio answered with an 11-0 run. They sealed it by scoring 43 points in the fourth quarter.

SOURCE -;_ylc=X3oDMTBpYTg2ZTBwBF9TAzk1ODYxOTQ4BHNlYwN0bQ--?gid=2005052221


Most Iran Reform Candidates Disqualified

Associated Press Writer
2 hours, 21 minutes ago

TEHRAN, Iran - Iran's hard-line constitutional watchdog has rejected all reformists who registered to run in next month's presidential elections, approving only six out of the 1,010 hopefuls, state-run television reported Sunday.

The announcement prompted a crisis meeting by reformers, who immediately threatened to boycott the election.

"We are warning the Guardian Council that we will not participate in the election if it doesn't reverse its decision," Rajabali Mazrouei, a top member of the reformist Islamic Iran Participation Front, told The Associated Press.

"Barring reform candidates means there will be no free or fair election," he said.

There was similar outrage last year when the Council — which supervises the elections — disqualified more than 2,000 reformists from legislative elections, leading to a low turnout. Reformists denounced that vote as a "historical fiasco."

The council's announcement, however, appeared to be the final decision and effectively leaves reformers seeking democratic changes within the ruling Islamic establishment without a candidate.



Reclusive 'Mockingbird' Author Appears

Sun May 22, 1:49 PM ET

LOS ANGELES - Harper Lee, who has been dodging publicity for decades since she published her only book, "To Kill a Mockingbird," made a rare step into the limelight to be honored by the Los Angeles Public Library.

Lee, 79, stopped giving interviews a few years after she won the Pulitzer Prize for her 1960 coming-of-age book exploring racial prejudice in the South. She has turned down most request for appearances.

But she couldn't refuse an invitation from Veronique Peck, the widow of actor Gregory Peck, who won an Oscar for his starring role as lawyer Atticus Finch in the 1962 film version of the book and became a lifelong friend with Lee.

"Mockingbird" co-star Brock Peters, who played the black man falsely accused of rape in the film, presented the award to Lee.

After Veronique Peck whispered in her ear, Lee gave her only remarks of the evening: "I'll say it again. Thank you all from the bottom of my heart."

Veronique Peck said Lee is "like a national treasure."

"She's someone who has made a difference with this book," she said. "All the kids in the United States read this book and see the film in the seventh and eighth grades and write papers and essays. My husband used to get thousands and thousands of letters from teachers who would send them to him."

She said Atticus Finch was her husband's "favorite role, and he felt that in his professional life, it was probably the best performance he ever gave."

The awards dinner Thursday drew more than 600 supporters and raised $700,000 for computers, computer training and literacy programs.



Hecklers Target Ariel Sharon in New York

Associated Press Writer
16 minutes ago

NEW YORK - Visiting Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon was heckled during a speech to Jewish leaders on Sunday, and about 1,500 demonstrators staged a noisy street protest against the Gaza disengagement plan he was defending.

Several protesters stood up during Sharon's speech, one shouting "Jews don't expel Jews." The prime minister had to pause when the interruption grew louder and the protesters were escorted out of the Baruch College auditorium in Manhattan. He then received a warm ovation from the crowd.

Under Sharon's plan, Israel will remove all 21 Jewish settlements in Gaza and withdraw from four small settlements in the West Bank beginning in mid-August.

"I said in the past, and I say it also today: I am willing to make painful compromises for peace," Sharon said. "I think that the entire world can now see how hard such compromises are. There is one thing on which we will not make any compromises — not now and not in the future — and that is our security."

Sharon's opponents accuse him of caving in to Palestinian violence and warn the moves will lead to further territorial concessions. Many protesters wore orange T-shirts Sunday, the color adopted by Gaza settlers who oppose his plan.

Security was tight for Sharon's visit, as police barricaded sidewalks to prevent protesters from getting too close to the auditorium. Chants of "Never again!" and "Let our people stay!" reached a crescendo when Sharon's motorcade passed through an intersection 100 yards away.

"To retreat in the face of terrorism is to invite more of it — not less," Rabbi Yosef Yitzchok Jacobson shouted during the street rally. "What have these Jews done to be thrown out? Why are they being expelled? Why not expel the terrorists?" he said.

Sharon arrived in New York for a three-day visit to the United States to bolster ties with American Jews, but also to discuss domestic issues like the plan to pull out of the Gaza Strip.



Ex-Guantanamo Prisoner Was Troubled Youth

Associated Press Writer
1 hour, 17 minutes ago

LONDON - A former Guantanamo prisoner says he battled shyness, loneliness and suicide attempts before discovering Islam on a backpacking trip through Europe, according to a handwritten biography that paints a picture of a troubled London youth.

Feroz Abbasi's 100-plus page account is one of the most detailed written personal stories from a former detainee. He submitted it to a tribunal at the U.S. prison camp in Cuba.

The document was among nearly 2,000 pages of tribunal testimonies that the U.S. government released to The Associated Press under a Freedom of Information Act lawsuit.

Shy around girls and hobbled by low self-esteem, Abbasi's melancholy memoirs begin in London where he was raised in an Arab family disconnected from its roots. He doesn't identify his national heritage, but describes himself as a restless boy with an "insecurity complex."