Soldiers told to stay out of debate

U.S. military provides guidelines on what troops should say to reporters

By Larry Kaplow

Military press officers are telling U.S. troops to stay out of the fray if reporters ask them about the congressional debate concerning their
future in Iraq.

A “public affairs guidance” memo sent to units in Iraq from the Baghdad command offers talking points for soldiers if asked what they think of the nonbinding resolution passed by the Democratic-controlled House on Feb. 16 opposing the Bush administration’s troop increase in Iraq.

The unclassified memo, viewed by a Cox Newspapers reporter embedded with troops last week at Baghdad’s Camp Liberty, shows the workings of the military’s vast press operation on one of the hottest issues it handles — the civilian leadership debate on the war.

U.S. troops are instructed to “not make public comment” about the vote beyond a brief set of recommended talking points.

Army Lt. Col. Scott Bleichwehl, a spokesman for the Multinational Division-Baghdad, said the military often issues talking points concerning specific operations or policies.

He said it is not an order and knows of no cases in which soldiers were punished for varying from public affairs guidance.

“It’s a guidance,” Bleichwehl said. “It’s a normal procedure that we use. It’s a tool to help leaders and soldiers to communicate.”


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Bee vanishing act baffles keepers

Mark McCoy works with his honey bees on February 15, 2007 in Loxahatchee, Florida   Image: Getty
Honeybees are vanishing at an alarming rate from 24 US states, threatening the production of numerous crops.

The cause of the losses, which range from 30% to more than 70%, is a mystery, but experts are investigating several theories.

American bee colonies have been hit by regional crises before, but keepers say this is the first national crisis.

Bees pollinate more than $14bn (£7bn) worth of US seeds and crops each year, mostly fruits, vegetables and nuts.


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China’s radio-controlled pigeons

SCIENTISTS in eastern China claim that they have succeeded in controlling the flight of pigeons with micro electrodes planted in their brains, state media reported yesterday.

Scientists at the Robot Engineering Technology Research Centre at Shandong University of Science and Technology said the electrodes could command them to fly right or left or up or down, Xinhua news agency said.”The implants stimulate different areas of the pigeon’s brain according to signals sent by the scientists via computer, and force the bird to comply with their commands,” Xinhua reported. “It’s the first such successful experiment on a pigeon in the world,” Xinhua quoted the centre’s chief scientist, Su Xuecheng, as saying.


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So why does Charles think McDonald’s is the root of all food evil?

The prince has launched his own food range in...

HE HAS lambasted architects for their designs and criticised governments over their policies on the environment. But the Prince of Wales yesterday declared war on a new and even more powerful enemy – the global superbrand McDonald’s. The heir to the throne said banning the fast-food chain was the key to a healthier lifestyle for children.

But has the campaigning royal got it wrong by targeting a High Street restaurant which serves two million Britons every day, despite almost a decade of bad publicity over the effects of its food on its most enthusiastic consumers: children. And if so, how did the brand-name become so synonymous with poor quality and malnutrition that a future head of state should feel able to single it out for public denunciation?

Health campaigners and nutritionists yesterday said a ban on McDonald’s was “certainly not the answer” to Britain’s obesity epidemic, and that a generation of youngsters better-educated about the benefits of a balanced diet should be free to choose whether to indulge in a Big Mac and fries.

Prince Charles has long called for a less “abusive” relationship between Britain and its food, and his passionate advocacy of organic farming methods and criticism of genetically modified produce led him to launch his Duchy Originals range in 1992.


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