Archive for January 10, 2014


Jaunty Alouette

(French navy photo by Chief Petty Officer Frederic Duplouich)

(French navy photo by Chief Petty Officer Frederic Duplouich)

An Aerospatialie Alouette III helicopter assigned to the 35th squadron of the French aircraft carrier Charles de Gaulle (R 91) hovers near the guided-missile destroyer USS Bulkeley (DDG 84) in the Gulf of Oman.

The Bulkeley, part of the Harry S. Truman Carrier Strike Group, is conducting operations with ships assigned to French Task Force 473 to enhance cooperation and interoperability, as well as mutual maritime capabilities.

BTW, alouette is the French name for lark and also an old French song about plucking the feathers off the tiny bird. Relax francophiles and francophones, we know the first line of the song in French is “Alouette, gentille alouette,” but we also know that millions of American summer campers on bus trips and around camp fires, mangled the phrase to Jaunty Alouette (and we think this French helicopter looks pretty jaunty).

Et aussi, mes amis — the USS Bulkeley is named for Vice Admiral John Bulkeley, a PT boat skipper in both the Pacific and European theaters of war who battled shortages of supplies, spare parts and fuel — as well as the Japanese — in the defense of the Philippines in early 1942. For his heroism and leadership in the P.I. from December 1941 to April 1942, he was awarded the Medal of Honor. Two years later, Bulkeley was in command of PT boats patrolling the waters off the Normandy beaches on D-Day. The highly decorated Bulkeley was probably best known for commanding the risky PT boat mission that spirited Gen. Douglas MacArthur off the island of Corregidor through enemy patrolled waters during the bleak early days of the War with Japan. Robert Montgomery’s character in the John Ford World War II film, “They Were Expendable” was modeled on Bulkeley’s exploits in the Philippines.

Corrects the reason Bulkeley received the Medal of Honor: His combat leadership in the Philippines — not the MacArthur evacuation (for which he received the Silver Star medal).

January 10, 2014 at 2:20 am Leave a comment

AROUND AFRICA: South Sudan, Central African Republic, Tunisia

South Sudan

Ugandan authorities are struggling with the increasing number of people fleeing the continued fighting in neighboring South Sudan, the BBC reports.

Sudan and South Sudan from CIA World Factbook

Sudan and South Sudan from CIA World Factbook

More than 20,000 South Sudanese are now crammed into a refugee camp meant to hold 400. And the numbers keep growing as more than 2,000 arrive every day. Food is inadequate, there is no shelter and hardly any water. The BBC’s the camp’s health centre is overflowing with pregnant women, children and the elderly.

There are also reports of ethnic fighting between the Dinka and the Nuer at the camp which is only a transit centre, so authorities cannot separate the warring ethnic groups yet.

Meanwhile, South Sudan’s army is advancing on the key rebel-held centres of Bentiu and Bor, as rebels strengthen defences in Bentiu. Reports say hundreds have fled violence in Bor and at least 1,000 people have been killed in fighting since December 15.

Thousands have fled Bentiu, capital of oil-rich Unity state. The city was said to be a ghost town with even the hospital reportedly deserted, the Guardian said.

And in Addis Ababa, the capital of Ethiopia, peace talks between the rival South Sudanese factions appear deadlocked, the Voice of America reported Thursday (January 9). The stumbling block appears to be


Central African Republic

Central African Republic (CIA World Factbook)

Central African Republic
(CIA World Factbook)

The entire transitional assembly of the Central African Republic (CAR) has flown to Chad to attend a summit aimed at restoring peace in the country, the BBC reports. Regional leaders said the 135 member-assembly had been summoned because only they could decide the fate of their country.

The CAR’s interim leader, Michel Djotodia, is facing pressure to step down at a summit of regional leaders on Thursday because of his inability to halt the bloodshed that has forced about a million people to flee their homes, according to The Guardian.

Djotodia, who seized power in March at the head of the Seleka rebels, already lacked legitimacy in the eyes of other African governments. But he is considered an even greater liability as the country has descended into chaos amid reprisal attacks from mainly Christian militias against the largely Muslim rebel group. However, the VoA says Djotodia’s spokesman insists he will not resign.

The fighting in the CAR is neither a jihad nor a crusade, according to the Christian Science Monitor. The battle is over political power and the capital city of Bangui is the prize.

Tunisian Shift

Tunisia in Africa (CIA World Factbook)

Tunisia in Africa
(CIA World Factbook)

Tunisia’s Islamist prime minister resigned Thursday (January 9). The action by Ali Larayedh of the Ennahda Party, ends the two-year-old rule of his party, which has dominated the country’s political scene since the popular uprising that initiated the Arab Spring, the New York Times reported.

The resignation makes way for an interim government of independents under a plan to end months of political deadlock and mounting social unrest, the state news agency said, according to Aljazeera America.



January 10, 2014 at 1:02 am 2 comments


January 2014


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