Archive for the ‘News Stories’ Category

Howard ROTC Conducts Military Ball

Cadets and Guests gather for Annual event

by Terrance Williams

The Howard University Army Reserve Officer Training Corps (ROTC) conducted its annual Military ball this weekend at the Crystal City Hilton Hotel. A myriad of cadets and guests arrived for the event dressed in their Army Greens, as well as formal dresses and tuxedos for the gentlemen.

A Tradition of Excellence

The Howard University ROTC program was one of the first in the nation started for the training of black officers in the military. The program is nearly as old as Howard University itself, and has over 10 General Officers. Participants take military science classes and participate in weekend trainings, as well as physical training (PT) three times a week, and other optional and mandatory and optional events. Cadets who excel have the option of attending summer trainings such as Airborne, Air Assault, Mountain Warfare, and Combat Diver school. Upon completion of the program, a cadet is commissioned as a Second Lieutenant in the Army and has an obligation to serve at least 5 years on active duty.  The military ball is one of the yearly events which cadets also participate in.

The keynote speaker for the event was the 51st Quartermaster General, and first woman to be awarded the General’s Star in the Quartermaster corp, Brigadier General Gwen Bingham. A native of Alabama, she graduated and commissioned from the ROTC program at The University of Alabama in 1981. She holds a B.A. in General Business Management, and Masters in Administration and in National Security Strategy and Resources. She spoke to the cadets about making sure you do not let others define how far you can go or how high you can achieve.

A Great Opportunity

In addition to cadets and their guests, the military ball is also attended by alumni, distinguished guests, and active and reserve officers in the military. This provides a rare opportunity for cadets to make connections with possible people who have been in their shoes, and are already at the place where they are heading. “Military ball is a great time for cadets to interact with officers,” says Junior ROTC Cadet Terrie Hoover. ” It gives us a chance to ask questions about our future careers and possibly find a mentor to successfully guide us along the way.”

For the guests it is an equally exciting event. Wilsar Johnson, a Junior at Georgian Court University in New Jersey who was invited by a cadet, commented on how much she enjoyed the experience. “It was an honor to be invited to such a prestigious event. The men and women were very disciplined and poised. As a student, it inspired me to work harder,” she said.

In addition to dinner, dancing, and a quest speaker, select cadets also received various awards and were able to participate in a raffle for gifts which varied from Howard University Bookstore gift bags to a PlayStation 3. Though the dates, speakers, and venues change, it is clear that in this regard, the Howard University Bison Battalion is committed to continuing their tradition of excellence well into the future.


Taking Down Osama

US Special Forces Team Kills Bin Laden in Pakistan

By Terrance Williams

Late in the night of April 30, 2011, President Barack Obama announced to the nation that the FBI’s most wanted Terrorist, Osama Bin Laden, was killed by a US Navy Seal team in Abbottabad Pakistan. The news was met with celebrations at the White House and in New York City at Ground Zero, the former site of the Twin Towers.  Over the coming days, more details would be released about the way in which the raid was carried out and executed, and how the Al-Qaeda leader was finally brought to justice.

Newspapers around the globe reported on the morning of May 2 that Bin Laden was killed at the hands of a US Special Forces Team inside a compound in Pakistan. President Obama shared the news with the American people around 11:00pm EST the previous night. The raid was reportedly carried out with ‘textbook precision’, and executed nearly perfectly. “A small team of Americans carried out the operation with extraordinary courage and capability. No Americans were harmed. They took care to avoid civilian casualties. After a firefight, they killed Osama bin Laden and took custody of his body,” the President said to the American people.

A Long Time Coming

The death of Bin Laden comes nearly 11 years after the attack on the World Trade Center on September 11, 2001. This single attack, which Al-Qaeda took credit for, was the worst attack on American soil in history, causing over 2,700 casualties in a single day. Many see it as retribution, and some family members of 9-11 victims cited a sense of relief.

The planning of the raid which eventually brought down the Al-Qaeda leader was 5 years in the making. Through information obtained from Guantanamo Bay detainees, intelligence officials obtained the name of a courier who was said to have information. No one was able to provide a real name however. Upon finding and following the individual and setting up surveillance, they were led to a compound in Pakistan which was said to be over 5 times larger than everything around it, with 10-18ft. walls around it, three stories, and a seven-foot wall on the top-level as if to hide someone over six feet tall. Despite the novelty of the compound as well, various clues led officials to believe something strange was occurring inside. The dwellers burned all their trash rather than have it taken out, and the building had no internet, phone, or cable. After several years of constant around the clock surveillance, it was determined that there was a high probability that Osama Bin Laden lived inside.

Prepared for Anything

After discovering the compound and gathering enough intelligence, the SEAL team which would raid the house earlier this week began to run rehearsals. A full scale replica of the compound was built, and drills were run from August 2010 until it was time to go ahead with the mission. The team had enough time to prepare for almost any contingency.

On the morning of May 2, the SEAL team was dropped by helicopter inside the compound, and after a firefight, killed Osama Bin Laden. The entire operation took 40 minutes and ended with no American casualties.

The body was DNA tested for verification of the identity, then taken aboard an aircraft carrier to be buried at sea, ensuring that it would not be dug up or that it would become a rally point for other extremist. All Muslim burial customs were observed as well in the burial of the body.

More details will continue to surface as the days and weeks continue. However one detail remains constant, this is a huge win. A win for Obama, for America, and for the War on Terror.

Facebook App to help Students find Money for College

By Terrance Williams

Coming soon to Facebook, an app for Financial Aid. Devin Valencia, a recent graduate of the University
of Nevada; Las Vegas is developing an application with the help of The College Board and The Bill and
Melinda Gates foundation which will take information from a persons Facebook page and match them
with scholarship, grant, and loan opportunities.

Valencia entered a competition sponsored by the College Board called the Get Schooled College
Affordability Challenge. The challenge, which came with $10,000 in prize money, was to find a way to
simplify the financial aid process. In an interview with Fox Business, Valencia said her idea for the app
stemmed from the amount of information people put on Facebook. “Facebook is someplace where
people feel okay sharing information about themselves, and it’s easy and comfortable to use, so I
thought it was a good starting point — guiding someone through this process.”
Skepticism among Students

Some students however, are skeptical about the application and its usefulness. “I don’t see how it can
be any more useful than scholarship search engines and seeing advisors, ” said Charla Boveland, a Junior
Broadcast Journalism major. “I would use it because free money is always nice, but I don’t think its

According to Valencia, the application would demographic information provided on Facebook, such
as gender, age, interests, and the school you attend. “You can also enter more information to narrow
it down. Say you want to major in journalism, you can input that information and Connect Fund will
connect you directly to opportunities in that field. It will also explain how grants work, how to apply
for and repay loans, etc., so students have an idea of how to apply and get funded,” she explains in her
interview with Fox Business.

Terrie Hoover, a Junior Accounting major shared a similar skepticism however. “It would be useful in
certain situations. If they’re different offers that no one had seen, from other websites then yes, it
would be more beneficial. But if it’s the same scholarships that other search engines like Fastweb had,
then probably not. I would check it out maybe once or twice to see if there’s something different, that I
hadn’t seen from other search engines, but if it’s the same stuff then no.”

View From the Top
Derek Kindle, from the Office of Student Financial Services at Howard University provided an administrative view of such an app. “We do believe that social networking sites provide a convenient and quick way for students to learn about various educational funding sources. The type of Facebook application the UNLV is developing will certainly assist students in identifying funds,” he said.

“Our team is currently working on plans to use more social media to communicate general messages and scholarship information to students. We hope to launch such plans in the 2011-2012 academic year. As we are in the early stages of this process, we have not yet made a final decision on what social media networks would be used (and to what extent). However, we will be using Howard University students to assist us through the development process.”
In addition to the prize money, Valencia was awarded $100,000 in start-up money to develop the app.
She hopes to have it up and running this fall, or by January 1, 2012 at the latest in order to have it
available for students in the upcoming school year.

So to begin with, I have to shout out my friend Will McGrath (follow him on twitter @Ouill) for indirectly contributing to this blog entry. As promised I will be featuring another up and coming artist as my May entry did, but first;


Now I will admit that this may be pre-emptive and in fact over-confident.  There was a time about 2 or 3 years  ago when everyone was excited about a Fugees comeback. They released a song, and Lauryn released a song which was included at the end of the Shark Tale Movie if I remember correctly, and every hip-hop head got excited. She and Macey Gray actually both released singles which were included on movie soundtracks that years, but nothing much came of either. Regardless, both the Fugees, and a solo Lauryn return turned out to be smoke and mirrors.

So whats different now?

Well to begin with, we have this NPR Article by Zoe Chace. Zoe, as it seems, is one of those who was growing up at the time when Lauryn was hot. So around my age, albeit a bit older. When Mis-education dropped in 1998 I was 10, so my appreciation for the meaning behind the lyrics didn’t come until later although the enthusiasm for the music was still there. Now however, I can honestly say it remains one of my favorite albums to date.  In addition to this article however, we have performance dates. ACTUAL performance dates. Not rumors that she will be in a city for one night for one hour and never be heard from again for about 10 years. Performance dates such as Rock The Bells in DC, Chicago, New York, and other city’s as well.

Chance’s article of course doesn’t cover the rumors that fans have been hearing for years about the whereabouts of Ms. Hill. But why should it? The important thing is that we may once again have the woman who many looked at as something of a hip-hop savior in the booth once again. Nikki, sit down and watch a pro do it effortlessly.

And now, without further ado, Ladies and Gentleman I present to you Selah J Rauw. 19 year old Californian who may very well herself be on the way to do great things.

I first heard about Ms. Rauw through my good friend mentioned earlier, Will McGrath in one of his #FF (follow friday) shoutouts. (Follow her on Twitter @SelahJRauw). Later on when doing my profile of the beautiful and talented Ms. Gabrielle Baty (@GabrielleBaty), a comment was left on the blog also telling me to check out Ms. Rauw’s work. Well, while away at Airborne school I didn’t check out anything, so this morning was actually the first time I was exposed to any of her work. This is not to say I am rushing to put her into my blog or anything such as that, I had planned this for some time. That being said, my initial impression is I am impressed.

Selah has a style and a voice which immediately sound like a mix of Avril Levigne chords on her guitar, and Kerry Underwood/Natasha Beddingfield type vocals. And I mean that in a good way. A bit country, a bit pop, and a good mix of both.

I am especially impressed with the amount of original music that she has, as most times it seems artists today rely more on Covers and less on original work. Not that there is anything wrong with covers. Besides, she has a really great cover up right now anyway. However, as a writer/poet, I especially appreciate the work that goes into writing an original piece, so she gets major props for that.

What probably impressed me the most however, was the song she has called “Lemonade”, another original, which also features her playing the Ukulele! The sound of both the music and her voice, as well as the tone and rhythm of the song immediately reminded me of the Israel Kamakawiwo’ole version of “Somewhere over the Rainbow”. Love that song.

Like any hard-working, up-and-coming artist, she of course has a Myspace music page, and a Facebook fan page. Dont just take my word for it, check out her music. Check out any of these pages, but especially the YouTube page so you can hear the music that she is making.

Ladies and Gentlemen, the multi-talented Selah J Rauw


It has literally been over a month since the last time I posted. This is not a good look! But better late than never, and I’m back now, so the past is the past.

Hopefully this week will see a post from me everyday. Im working on New Poetry so that I have enough to submit to The Smoking Poet, an eZine which I found and will discuss more later. I will be profiling 2 new artists; one who I know personally and another whom I have never met.  In addition I will also of course be bringing news stories, commentary, movie reviews, and all those things all of you know and love me for.   To begin with however, we will start with news, followed by personal achievement story.

Army. Airborne. McChrystal.

These are the three operative words for today’s post. We’re gonna start from the end and move forward. To begin with; McChrystal.

GEN Stanley McChrystal, 4 Star, Ranger, Special Forces, JSOC (Joint Special Operations Command) Commanding Officer, who has been in the army for 34 years, nearly long enough for two full careers is in the hot seat right now. He has gone from the top commander in the War in Afghanistan to the General no one wants to be seen with in a matter of days. Why? Because he let a reporter publish things which were probably not intended to be heard by anyone but his staff.

Rolling Stone Magazine reporter Michael Hastings interviewed the General in relation to his strategy in Afghanistan. No harm there. Right? Right. Unless the General begins to forget that a reporters job is to do just that, report. Therefore nothing said is off-limits, and nothing is off the record.

As a General, or even as a soldier in general, you are expected to show support for your leaders, and follow their commands and directives without question or pause UNLESS it will get someone killed or puts the lives of your troops in danger. No one should ever know your PERSONAL opinion about a higher up. That’s the way I understand it anyway. And after 34 years you would think he would know it as well.

To me, it appears that what happened was the reporter simply recorded comments that the General intended as jokes, and to be only for his staff, or for the people immediately in the room. I honestly don’t believe that he intended the American People to hear what he had to say about Obama and his staff being wimps. As always though, I leave it for you to decide. A long article, but a good general profile of the General as well. The fact that he still goes on foot patrols with his soldiers is also a huge indication of just what kind of soldier he is; a good one.

The article is here


Now, if you follow me on Twitter (@TMothaPhukinW), or are a friend of mine on Facebook then you surely saw my #tweetsfromAIRBORNE for 3 weeks. If you are not one of those people then heres the story.

For 3 weeks, I was in Ft. Benning, GA at the US Army Airborne School. Its a 3 week-long course culminating in making 5 successful jumps from a C-130 Hercules or C-17 Aircraft using a T-10Delta or T-11 parachute. Mouthful? Yes. Basically, I went to GA and learned how to jump out of planes and land correctly so I could walk off the drop zone. If you walk off the drop zone, you had a successful jump.

I will admit that Airborne is said to be one of the easiest schools the Army has to offer, but make no mistake, that does not mean that the training is a cake walk. Going to sleep at 11, waking up at 4am and doing physical work the entire day for 3 weeks will do something to you. And PLF’s (Parachute Landing Falls), I promise are no joke. But the mindset was, and always is that I won’t quit. The 3 weeks included Ground, Tower, and Jump weeks. Ground was mostly learning the correct way to land, which is the PLF. Tower week introduced the 34ft Tower, which in truth is harder to exit from than the plane actually is, and proper body position for the drift. Jump week is exactly what it sounds like. And when you finally get to Jump Week, everything you did before, the mental hazing and the Marines, early mornings, late nights, horrible food, keeping yourself from a single drink for 3 weeks (my personal struggle) all becomes worth it. Once you exit that aircraft and you float down, no noise, it’s all worth it.

I’m very proud of myself for completing that endeavor. It’s the first real Army training school I have ever attended, and I hope for many more to follow. My dad, who was also Airborne, came down to pin my wings on me. That was an important moment for me, and I appreciated it more than he probably knows.

Finally, the 265 Anniversary of the US Army just passed a few days ago. This is a simple Thank you to all the Men and Women in Uniform who are out there serving, fighting, and sacrificing so that we can enjoy the lives that we live here in this country. One day I will join you, but until then you are simply paving the way for me when I get there.

Now go hug a soldier and tell him Thank You.

Okay, another news article. I promise that soon I will get back to the poetry people, but after the poem a week in March, I’m taking a short break.

Ok, we have a New York Times article released today about a site called. This site apparently leaks secret government, military, and other hands-off information through informants and whistleblowers in different areas.  The article is about a video that was obtained from someone within the military, decrypted through whatever process they were able to use, and is now posted on YouTube and being broadcast to the world.

So if you only read the headline article, your first thought would be that the military is killing civilians in Iraq and covering it up.

However there is a second article also published in the paper which highlights details that the first leaves out about the video and the situation. The second article is intended to focus on the reaction of the family of the deceased Reuters reporter who was killed in the attack.  However it also points on that when viewing the video, there appears to be AK-47s and RPG’s on the group at a location very near the fighting position of ground troops in the area.

Now of course I wanted to see the raw footage of whatever they were talking about, so I watched both the 17-minute and the 39-minute versions of this video. In truth, these are really two different videos. The biggest thing about them that you wouldnt get if you only watched the short version is this enlarged, labeled mess that these ‘reporters’ tried to pull. When looking at the original video you see that this is clearly absent, because it doesnt happen in real life. There is no way that these soldiers would have known from a helicopter circling 300+ ft above the ground that the individuals being fired upon were reporters. There is no blinking tag that everyone is issued that says ‘dont shoot me, I carry cameras not guns’.

Now of course I want you all to make your own decision about the video so here is the link so you can watch it yourself. I only ask that if you do watch, you watch the full version FIRST.

Its a muddled situation.

I want to say more but Im extremely tired right now. Ive been working all day and starting tomorrow I’m going on a Field Training Exercise (FTX) thats going to last 4 days. Completely ridiculous.

I’ll follow up on this later.

In the New York Times today is an article about Special Forces Command in Afghanistan. Apparently, during a nighttime raid three women were killed, and it is being reported that the bullets were removed from the bodies in an apparent cover up. Originally, NATO forces were saying that there was no cover-up and that the women were found dead, not killed by any direct action from the Special Forces operation being conducted.

Now, as a future soldier there’s a few things about this that must be commented on. First, reviewing the partial article and comments left on the Huffington Post website, it seems that some people believe that all the facts aren’t being supplied for this article. Perhaps. The New York Times is said to be a rather slanted Newspaper, and just as well news agencies are not, and should not in my opinion, be given 100% information when dealing with military, defense, or intelligence operations because you do not know how these reports will affect the troops or individuals still in that dangerous situation.

Secondly, if this is true, it is disturbing and unfortunate. And I am not going to say that it is excusable in any way because they are soldiers. However I will say that we do not know the situation. Perhaps details are being left out, perhaps there was some pressing reason for the actions that took place that night. I am simply saying that people should read. Not just one side, try to find multiple sources. Get as many facts as you can. Make your own judgments and decisions. Stay informed people.


Hot-tub Time Machine

“Great White Buffalo”

This movie was hilarious. I cannot recommend that you  go see it enough.  At first glance I will admit I thought it would be stupid and a waste of time. However it turned out to be quite the opposite. Its a great party movie about 4 friends who go back in time and have an opportunity to relive a weekend in the 80’s. It’s really 3 friends, one is a nephew of a main character and wasn’t born yet, but that also leads to an interesting, hilarious twist. Overall, great movie. Highly recommended.

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Clash of the Titans

This was a pretty good 3D movie. It had a high degree of action, and Liam Neeson is always a good actor to watch for. He does quite well as the bearded God Zeus, and it shows yet another degree of how versatile he is as an actor (Taken, Love Actually, Star Wars: Episode I).

The most interesting part of this movie would have to be the creature creations which were drawn up. The winged demons that Hades transforms into are reminiscent of the vampire women in Hugh Jackman’s Van Helsing. The Kracken(sp?) was probably the most imaginative variation which I’ve seen. Anyone who remembers the old ‘Clash of the Titans’ from Greek Mythology in High School will probably remember a claymation, stop-motion, cut-and-paste produced monster which inspired nothing more than laughs and snickers. This beast was more of a combination of Disney’s tentacled beast in Pirates of the Caribbean, the 2000 version of Godzilla, and the hunted aliens from Alien vs. Predator. Even the disgraced King and father of Perseus looked like a creation of another movie, seemingly a combination of the hunchback from 300 and a centaur.

The 3D element made the movie exciting, but overall the movie was pretty predictable, as is to be expected from a remake. I still give it pretty high marks tho. Just as with ‘Dragons’ however, I wouldn’t pay 3D price.

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