Wow, Americans suck

In nearly as many months, American “sport” hunters have killed two animals whose deaths have led to worldwide condemnation. Well done, America.

First, in May, a Texas hunter killed an endangered black rhino in Namibia, simply because he had $350,000 to waste on such an endeavor.

Then, earlier this month, a Minnesota dentist paid upwards of $50,000 to kill a well-known lion in Zimbabwe, for no reason other than he’s a “big game” hunter.

As a person, I’ve nothing but ill will and intention aimed at these men. As an American, I’m embarrassed, appalled, and enraged that I’m associated with these barbarians. Their personal, financial, and social ruin is the least they should suffer. Physical injury seems warranted, even justified.

I’m boiling over with anger, and there’s nothing I can do, because I don’t have $400,000 to spend superfluously.

Image care of @jelleprins on Flickr, under a Creative Commons license:

One Company of Marines Finds Success in Afghan Village

Writing today for Slate Magazine, Vanessa Gezari recounts the success of the 1st Battalion, 5th Marines in securing Nawa, Afghanistan and returning control of the village to its residents. Under the direction of Lt. Col. Bill McCollough, the specially-trained Marine battalion eradicated hard-line Taliban elements and has begun the difficult process of reconciling less-committed insurgents with the community, all while building lasting ties with the village that aim to ensure its long-term security. The 1st Battalion’s success demonstrates the approach Coalition Forces (International Security Assistance Force, or ISAF) should be taking in many parts of the country, but as Ms. Gezari points out, the Marines’ approach is very troop intensive and requires long-term commitment.

Continue reading One Company of Marines Finds Success in Afghan Village

Seven Years On, Anthrax Mystery Comes to an End

The Los Angeles Times is reporting today that the government’s primary suspect in the 2001 anthrax attacks committed suicide Tuesday, just as the Justice Department prepared to charge him with mailing the anthrax-tainted letters that killed five people. Bruce Ivins, 62, worked at the U.S. Army Medical Research Institute of Infectious Diseases at Fort Dietrich, MD for 18 years, where he had access to anthrax, as well as other biological weapons. Mr. Ivin’s brother confirmed the death to CNN.

The anthrax scare, coming just months after the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001, has been a particularly troublesome and embarrassing incident for the federal government. In the early days of the attacks, it was not clear whether the anthrax letters were related to the terrorist attacks. When it became clear that the incidents were unrelated, the government was left without much direction in its investigation. The focus eventually fell on Steven J. Hatfill, another scientist at Fort Dietrich, but this proved misguided (the government settled with Mr. Hatfill in June for the tidy sum of $5.82 million). It now appears that the misdirection may have come from Mr. Ivins. In a particularly ironic twist in this seven-year saga, Mr. Ivins assisted the government in its initial investigation focused on Mr. Hatfill.

In 2006, after five years of floundering following its focus on Mr. Hatfill, the FBI appointed new agents to investigate the letters. Agents returned to Maryland to re-interview lab employees, and particular attention was paid to Mr. Ivins after investigators learned he had covered up an anthrax contamination beginning in December of 2001. His actions during and following the contamination made investigators suscipcious, and it would appear for good reason. The government’s settlement with Mr. Hatfill put further pressure on Mr. Ivins, who was already being treated for depression. A collegue reported he was considering suicide as early as June, as the FBI appeared to be closing in on him. He was placed on administrative leave and committed to a psychiatric treatment center, where he spent a few days in June. Following his release, his emotional state deteriorated further, and a collegue reported he was emotionally broken by the federal scrutiny. Mr. Ivins died Tuesday in a Frederick, Maryland hospital after ingesting a lethal dose of Tylenol with codeine.

The Department of Justice is expected to make an announcement regarding Mr. Ivin’s death later today.


UPDATE: Additional Sources (last updated 08/01/08 at 10:05 am):

What Ever Happened to Mullah Mohammed Omar?

When the Taliban government collapsed in 2001, some notable individuals escaped and have evaded capture since. Bin Laden not withstanding, the Taliban’s leader from 1996 to 2001, Mullah Mohammed Omar, also escaped. According to Mullah Mohammad Hassan Rahmani, personal adviser to Mullah Omar, the mullah is still in contact with and making decisions for the Taliban and is in good health, wherever he may be. Mullah Rahmani emphasized the fact that while Mullah Omar is in hiding, “strong contacts are maintained with him.”

So I ask, “What ever happened to to Mullah Mohammed Omar?”

Source:Afghan Taleban Leader Lauds Pakistan, Militants Peace Move,”, July 26, 2008. Accessed July 29, 2008 (For English translation from Al-Jazeera TV, Doha, in Arabic 1430 25 Jul 08).