Minnesota National Guard Troops Screwed by Bush on GI Bill Benefits

The Other Mike sent over this link to a story by NBC on an amazing coincidence in the time served by Minnesota’s National Guard troops in Iraq. Had they served 730 days, they would have been eligible for the GI bill, helping them pay for educational costs and improve their careers after returning from war.

Any guesses how many days their tour ran? 729 Days.

[1st Lt. Jon] Anderson’s orders, and the orders of 1,161 other Minnesota guard members, were written for 729 days.

Had they been written for 730 days, just one day more, the soldiers would receive those benefits to pay for school.

“Which would be allowing the soldiers an extra $500 to $800 a month,” Anderson said.

That money would help him pay for his master’s degree in public administration. It would help Anderson’s fellow platoon leader, John Hobot, pay for a degree in law enforcement.

The Minnesota National Guard’s tour is the longer tour served by any group sent to Iraq to date. And I imagine it will continue to hold onto that record, knowing that anything longer would provide benefits to our soldiers upon return.

More on the CityPages Blotter.

Bibles and Bullets

Here’s a story about a soldier who got shot by a sniper in Iraq but lived due to the fact that a bible he was carrying stopped the bullet.

The story goes on to explain that he was very lucky that he was carrying the bible. It also mentions that he was the only person in his group that was shot.

Do bibles offer superior bullet stopping capabilities compared to, say, the Koran printed on similar paper?

Sadly, a kid in Oklahoma wasn’t carrying his camouflaged bible when an errant shot from police offers who were attempting to kill a snake killed him instead:

The Minnesota National Guard Troops are Almost Home

There is a great story on KARE 11 by Tricia Volpe reporting from Camp Douglas covering the arrival of MN National Guard troops back to the Midwest.

I can’t imagine what it must be like to smell a Midwestern summer after 22 months away, including 16 months in Iraq. Turning in their weapons must be a strange after being so attached to it for so long.

It’s too bad they didn’t come up with a way of getting the face of every guard member who’s returned onto the air. How many people watching that story were squinting looking for their friends and family?

Perspectives on Croatian War of Independence

I found this interesting nugget on the Croatian War of Independence at Wikipedia:

Croatian War of Independence

The USA was among the more conservative forces in the west, like the United Kingdom (with John Major as Prime Minister) in insisting for non-intervention at first. The administration was led by George Bush as President until end-1992. Matters changed with Bill Clinton, who took a more aggressive stance on the issue and played a more forceful intervention role. In 1995 the US, using the latest Predator and other tracking devices, thoroughly observed the movements or the Croat Army and Gotovina’s forces in preparation for Operation Storm.

On the Slovenia scene, we read in Rick Steves’ Croatia & Slovenia 2007 that told of a HUGE turn-out for Bill Clinton when he visited Ljubljana, Slovenia, yet hardly anyone showed up for King George II’s visit.

Somewhat related, check out the following cartoon from Cartoonstock on the differences between Yugoslavia and Iraq in their post-dictatorship histories:

Similar but Different

Is a united Iraq the right approach? Can it exist without a ruthless dictator like Saddam Hussein holding together the various factions making up that part of the world?

George Bush’s Army Burns Churches

Last week, I had a chance to spend a few days in Dubrovnik, Croatia. The city is ancient, and was founded around 11th century. It has a pharmacy that’s 400 years older than the United States, and LOTS of churches older than the US of A. The city has been attacked many times, and has – along with Croatia – fallen under rule by various governments over the past 1000 years.

Ed on Dubrovnik's City Wall

Yet, churches have survived the wars.

A Dubrovnik Church

Luckily for them, they’ve never been invaded by George W. Bush, who allows stuff like this to happen under his watch:

Actually, George W Bush’s army doesn’t just burn churches – it blows them up.

Darrel Austin on the Iraq War as a Software Project

Funny stuff:

If the Iraq War were a design firm/software vendor project:

Strategery Consulting Inc: You need to hire us to build you a web site.

People LLC: Oh. Really? Why?

SC: Well, our research has shown that your main competitor, Widgets Inc., is about to release a new killer app!

PL: Umm…our main competitor is Doodads And More.

SC: Whatever…that’s not important. What’s important is that you hire us.

PL: Well, OK. How much is it going to cost?

SC: It’s too risky to the project to specify any cost, but it shouldn’t cost more than 5 figures.

PL: How long will it take?

SC: A week? Maybe a month? We doubt more than 2 months.

And on it on it goes. Classic.

Baghdad Green Zone

I was watching this incredible video about media reporting on the war in Iraq when at around 10 minutes into the video, the reporter mentioned that the Green Zone is Baghdad is approximately 4.5 square miles. How big is that? For comparison, here is an approximately 4.5 square mile area of the Minneapolis lakes:

Minneapolis Lakes Green Zone

Here’s the same area from the perspective of the Twin Cities:

Minneapolis Green Zone

To check out the Green Zone on a Google Map, click here. Here’s a close-up with some helicopters.

I’ve heard that the traveling from the airport to the Green Zone is extraordinarily dangerous. Here’s a link to a map showing how far apart the two areas are. It looks closer than MSP to Uptown to me.

George W. Bush started this war four years ago next month.