WBEZ | National Public Radio http://www.wbez.org/tags/national-public-radio Latest from WBEZ Chicago Public Radio en Virgin Of Guadalupe Mosiac Surfs Into Calif. Town http://www.wbez.org/story/2011-05-17/virgin-guadalupe-mosiac-surfs-calif-town-86662 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org//npr_story/photo/2011-May/2011-05-17/surfing_madonna.jpg" alt="" /><p><p>The Virgin of Guadalupe been spotted on a piece of toast, a tortilla and on a griddle in a U.S. border town. Now, she has shown up beneath a viaduct near the ocean in San Diego County.</p><p>It all started on the side of a busy road in Encinitas, Calif., underneath the train tracks. The story that's made its way around town is that on the Friday before Easter, a construction crew showed up and a 10-foot by 10-foot brightly colored mosaic of the Virgin of Guadalupe riding a surfboard and catching a huge wave seemed to mysteriously appear. Along the side, it says "Save the Ocean."</p><p>"It definitely fits with the whole beach-city vibe down here," says Kyle Smith.</p><p>The mosaic is intricate and beautiful. The stones and glass the artist chose give the Virgin's face a sort of beatific look. Her hands even have stone knuckles.</p><p>The problem is that the piece just <em>appeared</em>. It's illegal.</p><p>Jim Gilliam, Encinitas' arts administrator, says the piece's guerrilla nature fits with the city's energy.</p><p>"The chakras out in the ocean make this to be a vortex of creativity and I think there has to be something legitimate to that because this is definitely a community that draws creative people," Gilliam says.</p><p>Encinitas Mayor James Bond says the piece "qualifies for graffiti." Bond says that because the artist ignored the city's rules, allowing the piece to stay would set a bad precedent.</p><p>"If I were an artist, I would think that anything I wanted to do, I could do anywhere I wanted to do it in the city. Because why? Because we left Madonna there, so, why wouldn't we do that for everybody else?" Bond says.</p><p>Bond has received hundreds of emails about the mosaic. Most, he says, ask him to leave it be. But, he says some caution that religious art has no place on public property. A few state that the piece is sacrilegious.</p><p>"So it puts us in an awkward position," Bond says.</p><p><strong>'Get Up And Catch The Wave'</strong></p><p><strong> </strong></p><p>St John's Catholic Church is about a mile up the hill from the mosaic. Father Brian Corcoran says he loves the piece so much he made it the cover of a recent church bulletin.</p><p>"I call her Our Lady of the Waves. If Our Lady of Guadalupe lived in Encinitas, she'd probably be surfing," Corcoran says.</p><p>Corcoran says a surfing Virgin isn't traditional. But he insists it is in keeping with what she represents. And, in this case, he says the message transcends religion.</p><p>"It could be anybody on the surfboard. Che Guevara, Buddha, Muhammad. You want to save this world? You want to save the ocean? You want to make a difference in this world? You want to change the economy? You want to change our society? You have to get involved. Get up and catch the wave," Corcoran says.</p><p>The mystery of the artist's identity has Encinitas buzzing.</p><p>A few people on the streets suggest confession would be a good way for the person to come forward. But Corcoran says that wouldn't work.</p><p>"That is between him and God or her and God, whoever it was. For confession, you have to be able to say, 'I'm not going to do it again.' And that's tough," he says.</p><p>Meanwhile, the City of Encinitas hasn't decided what to do with the piece. Officials are waiting on an art conservator to tell them if it's possible to move it. They'll put the final decision to the City Council on Wednesday. Copyright 2011 National Public Radio. To see more, visit <a href="http://www.npr.org/">http://www.npr.org/</a>.<img src="http://metrics.npr.org/b/ss/nprapidev/5/1305658823?&gn=Virgin+Of+Guadalupe+Mosiac+Surfs+Into+Calif.+Town&ev=event2&ch=1091&h1=Around+the+Nation,Religion,U.S.,Home+Page+Top+Stories,News&c3=D%3Dgn&v3=D%3Dgn&c4=136356178&c7=1091&v7=D%3Dc7&c18=1091&v18=D%3Dc18&c19=20110517&v19=D%3Dc19&c20=1&v20=D%3Dc20&c21=2&v21=D%3Dc2&c45=MDA0OTc2MjAwMDEyNjk0NDE4OTI2NmUwNQ001"/></p></p> Tue, 17 May 2011 13:47:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/story/2011-05-17/virgin-guadalupe-mosiac-surfs-calif-town-86662 German Boardrooms Lack Women. Can Quotas Help? http://www.wbez.org/story/2011-05-17/german-boardrooms-lack-women-can-quotas-help-86664 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org//npr_story/photo/2011-May/2011-05-17/von-der-leyen.jpg" alt="" /><p><p>A recent study in Germany shows that for women, business boardroom doors remain largely shut. They constitute a mere 2.2 percent of the executive boards of Germany's top 100 companies. And not one of those companies has a female CEO.</p><p>The figures have prompted meetings between government and business leaders on how to improve gender equity in the boardroom and in corporate leadership. But even the female members of Chancellor Angela Merkel's Cabinet are divided on how to remedy the imbalance.</p><p>In the heart of Berlin's central business district, about two dozen businesswomen wielding placards recently gathered to catch the attention of the pinstripe-suited men and well-dressed women passing by. Their placards feature a woman with a mustache and read: "Is this how I get to the top?"</p><p>"We've had it up to here with the various voluntary agreements, and now we demand that the government finally does something about the absence of women in top jobs and the boardroom," says Jenny Huschke, a 42-year-old demonstrator. She is the equal rights federal representative for the DGB, the Confederation of German Trade Unions.</p><p>She's not entirely comfortable with the notion of mandatory gender quotas, but she sees no viable alternative after voluntary agreements reached 10 years ago between business leaders and the former government failed to boost the number of women in German boardrooms.</p><p>"It's not as if we desperately want a quota," she says. "But it is an instrument with which we can achieve parity."</p><p>A recent study by the German Institute for Economic Research shows that out of more than 900 board members that make up Germany's top 200 companies, <a href="http://www.diw.de/sixcms/media.php/73/diw_wr_2011-04.pdf">only 29 of them are women</a>. The study showed that Europe's largest economy lags behind China and India — as well as much of the West — in matters of corporate equal opportunity.</p><p>The study prompted the government to host talks with members of the so-called DAX 30, Germany's 30 leading companies listed on Frankfurt's stock index.</p><p>One member is Deutsche Bank, whose CEO, Josef Ackermann, recently welcomed the idea of more women in the boardroom, saying it would make it "prettier and more colorful." He was ridiculed in the media for the comment, but to many in Germany, the remark underscored that Germany's corporate culture is not ready to join France, Spain, the Netherlands and Norway in embracing legally binding gender quotas for the boardroom.</p><p><strong>Disagreements Over Solutions</strong></p><p>Meanwhile, government ministers are sharply at odds over how to improve things. Family Minister Kristina Schroder recently floated the idea of a voluntary, flexible quota that each company would set. But fellow Cabinet member Ursula von der Leyen, the labor minister, is firmly opposed to voluntary agreements.</p><p>"I expect more. I want to see concrete figures and results from the DAX top 30 post-haste," von der Leyen says. "Otherwise we will start negotiating with legal measures."</p><p>Bascha Mika, the former editor-in-chief of the daily broadsheet <em>Die Tageszeitung</em>, was the first woman to lead a national newspaper in Germany. Her successor is still the only female newspaper editor-in-chief in the country.</p><p>In her new book <em>The Cowardice of Women</em>, Mika partly blames women for giving up careers to look after the kids. Despite generous 12-month, state-subsidized paternity leave, it's still overwhelmingly Germany's women who put their careers on hold.</p><p>"In Germany, 75 percent of mothers with children under 18 years — not under 3 or 4, under 18 — are in part-time employment," Mika says, "whereas only 5 percent of fathers are in part-time employment."</p><p>Mika's left-leaning paper introduced its own 50/50 company-wide gender quota in the 1980s, which she readily admits she profited from. While Mika rejects the idea that her success was the result of the quota alone, she says until Germany's business culture changes, a quota may be the only solution.</p><p>"Men support each other, and although it's not called a male quota, it works like a quota, and a 100 percent quota at that," she says. "And then, I'm sorry to say, you get some really naive women saying, 'We don't want a quota' — as if men, de facto, didn't profit from it themselves."</p><p>With Germany's economy booming again, it's not clear whether there is much appetite now for change in its male-dominated business world. What is clear is that after more than a decade of false promises, it may take more than business-led self-regulation to boost women's numbers on corporate boards. Copyright 2011 National Public Radio. To see more, visit <a href="http://www.npr.org/">http://www.npr.org/</a>.<img src="http://metrics.npr.org/b/ss/nprapidev/5/1305658955?&gn=German+Boardrooms+Lack+Women.+Can+Quotas+Help%3F&ev=event2&ch=1124&h1=Europe,Business,World,Home+Page+Top+Stories,News&c3=D%3Dgn&v3=D%3Dgn&c4=136276792&c7=1124&v7=D%3Dc7&c18=1124&v18=D%3Dc18&c19=20110517&v19=D%3Dc19&c20=1&v20=D%3Dc20&c21=2&v21=D%3Dc2&c45=MDA0OTc2MjAwMDEyNjk0NDE4OTI2NmUwNQ001"/></p></p> Tue, 17 May 2011 13:43:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/story/2011-05-17/german-boardrooms-lack-women-can-quotas-help-86664 Flood-Threatened Towns Keep Vigil Over Levees http://www.wbez.org/story/2011-05-17/flood-threatened-towns-keep-vigil-over-levees-86663 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org//npr_story/photo/2011-May/2011-05-17/flood_wide.jpg" alt="" /><p><p>All along the swollen Mississippi River, hundreds of thousands of lives depend on a small army of engineers, deputies and even prison inmates keeping round-the-clock watch at the many flood walls and earthen levees holding the water back.</p><p>They are looking for any droplets that seep through the barriers and any cracks that threaten to turn small leaks into big problems. The work is hot and sometimes tedious, but without it, the flooding that has caused weeks of misery from Illinois to the Mississippi Delta could get much worse.</p><p>"For the most part, it's hot and boring until you find something," Col. Jeffrey Eckstein, commander of the Vicksburg, Miss., district of the Army Corps of Engineers, told The Associated Press as he toured the river last week.</p><p>Although the job requires 24-hour vigilance, Reynold Minsky, president of a north Louisiana levee district, said there are some places in his mostly rural district of forest and farmland where he will not ask anyone to go after sundown.</p><p>"Unless we've got a serious situation that we know we've found before dark, we don't ask these people to go into these wooded areas because of the snakes and the alligators," Minsky told the AP while taking a break from helicopter tours of the levees. "That's inhumane."</p><p>Minsky said his 5th Louisiana Levee District is plagued these days by "sand boils" — places where river water has found a way through earthen levees and bubbled up on the dry side like an artesian well. He insists they are no reason for alarm. If the water is clear, as it has been so far, that means the levee is not eroding. Stopping the boil involves ringing it with sandbags.</p><p>"We've got more sand boils than we've had in recent days, and we're going to have more. We know that," Minsky said. "They're popping up in different places that we've not had them before."</p><p><strong>Flooding 'A Fact Of Life' In Louisiana Bayou</strong></p><p>To take pressure off levees near Baton Rouge and New Orleans, the corps has opened two major spillways. After water was released over the weekend at the Morganza spillway near Baton Rouge, deputies and National Guardsmen fanned out to warn residents in its path, most of whom have heeded the call to seek higher ground.</p><p>New projections by the Army Corps of Engineers suggest fewer people will be flooded out when the Mississippi River crests in parts of Louisiana late this week, because tributaries are pouring less water into the Mississippi River than anticipated.</p><p>But that doesn't change the picture for people in bayou communities such as St. Landry Parish in Louisiana.</p><p>Wendy Moreau has already moved out of her home on the Atchafalaya River. She said the river is still going to flood, and if it's anything like the one in 1973, she won't expect to get back into her home until the end of the summer.</p><p>"It [the Atchafalaya] can get angry, and it's angry right now. When you live in the flood [zone], you're always, you know, going to expect it," Moreau told NPR.</p><p>Back then, she said, houses came floating down the river. This time, she'll be staying in nearby Melville, which is ringed by levees and should be safe from flooding.</p><p>Just down the road, Alec Dugas was rushing to get his property out of harm's way. He owns a fencing company and was working to move several hundred galvanized metal fence posts. He figured he has five days before the water covers the area.</p><p>Dugas says many people view flooding as a fact of life — part of what makes the Atchafalaya basin special. And he had nothing but compliments for the Army Corps of Engineers, even though the decision to open the Morganza spillway has added to flooding in the Atchafalaya basin.</p><p>"They're doing it right," Dugas told NPR. "They're doing it a little at a time to give animals a chance to get out. ... It's an abundance of wildlife in that basin, but you're going to see them all be coming across here and everywhere else, bears and everything else."</p><p><strong>Major Shipping Route Is Shut Down<br /></strong></p><p>In another high-stakes decision meant to protect homes and businesses along the Mississippi, the Coast Guard said Tuesday that it has interrupted shipping along the major artery for moving grain from farms in the Midwest to the Gulf of Mexico.</p><p>The Coast Guard said it closed the Mississippi River at the port in Natchez, Miss., because barge traffic could increase pressure on the levees. Heavy flooding from Mississippi tributaries has displaced more than 4,000 in the state, about half of them upstream from Natchez in the Vicksburg area.</p><p>Several barges were idled at Natchez at the time of the closure, and many more could back up along the lower Mississippi. It wasn't clear when the river would reopen, but port officials said the interruption could cost the U.S. economy hundreds of millions of dollars per day.</p><p>Economic pain from the flooding could be felt far from the South because of the river closure. During the spring, the Mississippi is a highway for towboats pushing barges laden with corn, soybeans and other crops brought down from the Ohio, Missouri and Mississippi river systems. Farm products come down the river to a port near New Orleans to be loaded onto massive grain carriers for export.</p><p>At least 10 freight terminals along the lower Mississippi River between Baton Rouge and New Orleans have suspended operations because of the high water, said Roy Gonzalez, acting president of the Gulf States Maritime Association. In many cases, he said, their docks are already at water level or going under.</p><p>Vessels scheduled to use the terminals will either have to wait out the high water or divert to other terminals or ports. Additional costs for delaying any one vessel routinely run $20,000 to $40,000 per day, port officials say.</p><p><em>NPR's Greg Allen reported from Baton Rouge, La., for this story, which contains material from The Associated Press.</em> Copyright 2011 National Public Radio. To see more, visit <a href="http://www.npr.org/">http://www.npr.org/</a>.<img src="http://metrics.npr.org/b/ss/nprapidev/5/1305658823?&gn=Flood-Threatened+Towns+Keep+Vigil+Over+Levees&ev=event2&ch=1091&h1=Around+the+Nation,U.S.,Home+Page+Top+Stories,News&c3=D%3Dgn&v3=D%3Dgn&c4=136395923&c7=1091&v7=D%3Dc7&c18=1091&v18=D%3Dc18&c19=20110517&v19=D%3Dc19&c20=1&v20=D%3Dc20&c45=MDA0OTc2MjAwMDEyNjk0NDE4OTI2NmUwNQ001"/></p></p> Tue, 17 May 2011 12:28:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/story/2011-05-17/flood-threatened-towns-keep-vigil-over-levees-86663 Area 51 'Uncensored': Was It UFOs Or The USSR? http://www.wbez.org/story/2011-05-17/area-51-uncensored-was-it-ufos-or-ussr-86655 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org//npr_story/photo/2011-May/2011-05-17/1968.jpg" alt="" /><p><p>Seventy-five miles north of Las Vegas sits a land parcel in the middle of the desert. Called Area 51, the parcel is just outside of the abandoned Nevada Test and Training Range, where more than 100 atmospheric bomb tests were conducted in the 1950s. Officially, the U.S. government has never acknowledged the existence of Area 51. Unofficially, it has become a place associated with conspiracy theories, alien landings and tiny spaceships.</p><p>Journalist Annie Jacobsen tells <em>Fresh Air</em>'s Terry Gross that the site has remained classified for many years — not because of aliens or spaceships, but because the government once used the site for top-secret nuclear testing and weapons development.</p><p>In <em>Area 51: An Uncensored History of America's Top Secret Military Base</em>, Jacobsen details how several agencies — including the Atomic Energy Commission, the Department of Defense and the CIA — once used the site to conduct controversial and secretive research on aircraft and pilot-related projects, including planes that traveled three times faster than the speed of sound and nuclear-propelled, space-based missile launch systems.</p><p><strong>Operation Plumbbob</strong></p><p><strong> </strong></p><p>In the summer and fall of 1957, a series of atmospheric nuclear tests — called Operation Plumbbob — were conducted above ground at the Nevada testing and training range, located just outside of Area 51. Twenty-nine explosions were set off while tests were conducted on troop readiness, accidental detonations and the effects of flying debris on living targets.</p><p>During the explosions, security officer Richard Mingus stood guard outside many of the weapons-testing sites, including one with the largest atmospheric bomb that has ever exploded in the United States.</p><p>"The bomb goes off. Richard Mingus is at ground zero, safe away in a bunker somewhere, and suddenly someone realizes, 'My God, Area 51 is unsecured,' " Jacobsen says. "And so they send Richard Mingus through ground zero, 45 minutes to an hour after this nuclear bomb has exploded, so that he can get to Area 51 to guard the gate."</p><p>Mingus survived, as did many other atomic veterans who stood close to ground zero during other Plumbbob tests.</p><p>"You can absolutely drive through an atmospheric bomb test and not be affected," Jacobsen says. "Richard Mingus also stood guard at a test at a subparcel of Area 51 ... [during] a dirty bomb test."</p><p>During the dirty bomb test, the Department of Defense and the Atomic Energy Commission simulated a plane crash where plutonium was dispersed on the ground, to see what would happen if an aircraft carrying a nuclear weapon were to crash on American soil. The resulting fallout and structural damage made much of the land uninhabitable.</p><p>"The area out at Area 51 that was part of the Operation Plumbbob test continues to be contaminated," she says. "It was not cleaned up until the '80s. And at that point, they sent in men in hazmat suits to scrape the land."</p><p><strong>Rockets Into Space With Nuclear Powered Explosions</strong></p><p><strong> </strong></p><p>The nuclear tests at Area 51 gave the Department of Defense ideas about how the technology could be used to help the United States' newly minted space program. And during the space race with the Soviet Union in the 1950s, the Department of Defense proposed using space itself as a weapon. One of its ideas was to develop a nuclear-powered space-based missile launch system that would sit outside Earth's atmosphere and have the capability to launch missiles — from outer space — into the Soviet Union.</p><p>"This didn't end up happening, but it almost did," Jacobsen says. "They were testing the rocket to see whether it would actually work. And to do that meant spewing vast quantities of radiation into the air. It's very controversial [and] it was kept very top-secret."</p><p>After the U.S. ratified the 1963 Partial Test Ban Treaty, which prohibited nuclear testing in the atmosphere, the tests continued to take place.</p><p>"It comes right up to the edge of violating the treaty when an accident occurs," she says. "In one example, a 148-pound chunk of radioactive debris shoots up into the sky and lands, rending [a subparcel of Area 51] a place that no one could go, not even in a hazmat suit, for six weeks."</p><p><strong>The Oxcart</strong></p><p><strong> </strong></p><p>In addition to testing nuclear weapons, Area 51 was often used as a training ground for overhead surveillance planes. One plane, called the Oxcart, was designed by the CIA to travel three times the speed of sound at 90,000 feet to spy on the Soviet Union and Cuba.</p><p>The Oxcart, in use from 1963 to 1968, worked beautifully, though it was never used over the Soviet Union or Cuba. Never once shot down, it was used in missions over North Vietnam and during the Pueblo Crisis with North Korea.</p><p>"It absolutely kept us safer and kept us out of nuclear war," Jacobsen says. "The idea that Area 51 was this test facility working to move science and technology faster and further than any other nation is true and is one of the great hallmarks of Area 51. There are other areas of the base that are controversial — but they both exist simultaneously — out there in the desert."</p><p><hr /></p><p><h3>Interview Highlights</h3></p><p><em>The secrecy surrounding Area 51 has made it fertile ground for conspiracy theories, including one about a UFO cover-up and another about the moon landing having never happened. Jacobsen addresses these conspiracy theories in the book and speculates about what led to them. She says her book is based on interviews with 74 individuals with rare firsthand knowledge of the secret base. Thirty-two of the people she interviewed lived and worked at Area 51.</em></p><p><strong>On flying discs and conspiracy theories</strong></p><p><strong> </strong></p><p>"The UFO craze began in the summer of 1947. Several months later, the G2 intelligence, which was the Army intelligence corps at the time, spent an enormous amount of time and treasure seeking out two former Third Reich aerospace designers named Walter and Reimer Horton who had allegedly created [a] flying disc. ... American intelligence agents fanned out across Europe seeking the Horton brothers to find out if, in fact, they had made this flying disc.</p><p>"The idea behind it remains, why? Why were they looking for a flying disc? And conspiracy theorists have had their hands on this declassified file for over a decade now, and they say it proves that this flying disc came from outer space. If you read the documents, the takeaway that I found fascinating was that at the end of it, the Army admits finding the Horton brothers, and that the Horton brothers admitted their contact with the Russians and that's where the file ends. Everything after that is classified."</p><p><strong>On why Area 51 is actually classified, according to a source</strong></p><p><strong> </strong></p><p>"The Horton brothers were involved in the flying disc crash in New Mexico. And that is from a single source. ... There was an unusual moment where that source became very upset and told me things that were stunning that's almost impossible to believe at first read. And that is that a flying disc really did crash in New Mexico and it was transported to Wright-Patterson Air Force Base, and then in 1951 it was transferred to Area 51, which is why the base is called Area 51. And the stunning part of the reveal is that my source, who I absolutely believe and worked with for 18 months on this, was one of the engineers who received the equipment and he also received the people who were in the craft.</p><p>"The people were, according to the source, were child-sized pilots, and there's a lot of debate about how old they were. He believes they were 13, although other people believe they may have been older. But this is a firsthand witness to this, and I made a decision to write about this in the very end of the book, after I take the traditional journalist form of telling you everything in the third person, I switch and I kind of lean into the reader and I say, 'Look, this is not why Area 51 is classified to the point where no one in the government will admit it exists. The reason is because what one man told me.' And then using the first person, I tell you what I was told. And there's no doubt that people are going to be upset, alarmed and skeptical of this information, but I absolutely believe the veracity of my source, and I believe it was important that I put this information out there because it is the tip of a very big iceberg."</p><p><strong>On the Soviet human experiments her source told her about</strong></p><p><strong> </strong></p><p>"The child-sized aviators in this craft [that crashed in New Mexico] were the result of a Soviet human experimentation program, and they had been made to look like aliens a la Orson Welles' <em>War of the Worlds,</em> and it was a warning shot over President Truman's bow, so to speak. In 1947, when this would have originally happened, the Soviets did not yet have the nuclear bomb, and Stalin and Truman were locked in horns with one another, and Stalin couldn't compete in nuclear weaponry yet, but he certainly could compete in the world of black propaganda — and that was his aim, according to my source. ...</p><p>"What is firsthand information is that he worked with these bodies [of the pilots] and he was an eyewitness to the horror of seeing them and working with them. Where they actually came from is obviously the subject of debate. But if you look at the timeline with Josef Mengele, he left Auschwitz in January of 1945 and disappeared for a while, and the suggestion by the source is that Mengele had already cut his losses with the Third Reich at that point and was working with Stalin."</p><p><strong>On why the Soviets would have undertaken such a hoax</strong></p><p><strong> </strong></p><p>"The plan, according to my source, was to create panic in the United States with this belief that a UFO had landed with aliens inside of it. And one of the most interesting documents is the second CIA director, Walter Bedell Smith, memos back and forth to the National Security Council talking about how the fear is that the Soviets could make a hoax against America involving a UFO and overload our early air-defense warning system, making America vulnerable to an attack." Copyright 2011 National Public Radio. To see more, visit <a href="http://www.npr.org/">http://www.npr.org/</a>.<img src="http://metrics.npr.org/b/ss/nprapidev/5/1305652334?&gn=Area+51+%27Uncensored%27%3A+Was+It+UFOs+Or+The+USSR%3F&ev=event2&ch=1033&h1=History,National+Security,Nonfiction,Author+Interviews,Books,Interviews,Arts+%26+Life,U.S.&c3=D%3Dgn&v3=D%3Dgn&c4=136356848&c7=1033&v7=D%3Dc7&c18=1033&v18=D%3Dc18&c19=20110517&v19=D%3Dc19&c20=1&v20=D%3Dc20&c21=13&v21=D%3Dc2&c45=MDA0OTc2MjAwMDEyNjk0NDE4OTI2NmUwNQ001"/></p></p> Tue, 17 May 2011 12:07:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/story/2011-05-17/area-51-uncensored-was-it-ufos-or-ussr-86655 Pakistan Says NATO Helicopters Violated Its Airspace http://www.wbez.org/story/2011-05-17/pakistan-says-nato-helicopters-violated-its-airspace-86641 <p><p>Pakistan's army lodged a "strong protest" over what it called an airspace violation after NATO helicopters exchanged fire with Pakistani troops at a military post early Tuesday.</p><p>The incident could further aggravate relations between the U.S. and Pakistan already strained over the American raid that killed Osama Bin Laden more than two weeks ago.</p><p>Pakistani army officials said that troops positioned at a guard post in the tribal area of North Waziristan fired on the NATO helicopters after the aircraft crossed the border from Afghanistan, and that two soldiers were injured by return fire.</p><p>The incident took place near an area thought to be a Taliban and al-Qaida sanctuary that has been targeted repeatedly by CIA drone strikes.</p><p>A Western military official in Kabul said two NATO helicopters supporting a base in Eastern Afghanistan had returned fire and that details were being investigated.</p><p>`We're investigating the incident to determine a flight path by examining GPS waypoints in the helicopter computer, to construct a sequence of events and ultimately determine what led to the exchange of fire," said NATO coalition spokesman Lt. Col. John Dorrian.</p><p>He declined to say which coalition country was involved. But most of the helicopters that fly in that part of Afghanistan are American.</p><p>Pakistan has demanded a meeting with NATO officials to discuss the incident.</p><p>Last year, American helicopters killed two Pakistani soldiers near the border, mistaking them for insurgents. In response, the Pakistani government shut down NATO's main supply route for 11 days.</p><p>U.S.-Pakistan relations have since become so fraught that they have been pushed to the breaking point over the Navy SEAL strike that killed Bin Laden in a Pakistani garrison town.</p><p>The Pakistani government is outraged that the U.S. carried out the operation without telling Pakistan first, and many American officials have expressed disbelief that bin Laden could have lived in the town of Abbottabad for at least five years without the authorities' knowledge. However, the U.S. has also said it has not found any evidence yet that Pakistani leaders knew of bin Laden's whereabouts.</p><p>The helicopter incident comes a day after U.S. Sen. John Kerry wrapped up a 24-hour visit to the capital, Islamabad, in which he worked to salvage the relationship with Pakistan. But the Massachusetts Democrat — the most high-profile American to visit Pakistan since the raid on bin Laden.-- also warned the government that "actions, not words" were needed to get ties back on track.</p><p>Kerry said Pakistan had agreed to immediately take several "specific steps" to improve ties, but did not say what they were. The only tangible signs of progress were a remark by Kerry that Pakistan had agreed to give America the tail of a classified stealth helicopter destroyed by U.S. commandos when it malfunctioned during the raid and a statement that Secretary of State Hillary Clinton would soon announce a trip to the country.</p><p>But there have also been signs of Pakistan's anger.</p><p>The Pakistani government sent the United States a written request following the bin Laden raid, asking Washington to reduce the number of American military personnel in the country, a U.S. military official, speaking on condition of anonymity because of the sensitivity of the issue, told The Associated Press.</p><p>There are currently more than 200 U.S. military personnel in Pakistan, some of whom are tasked with training Pakistani troops, said the official. Pakistan has asked the U.S. to reduce the number of trainers in the country, but the official would not specify the numbers involved.</p><p><em>With reporting from NPR's Julie McCarthy in Islamabad, Pakistan, and Quil Lawrence in Kabul, Afghanistan. Material from The Associated Press was used in this story. </em> Copyright 2011 National Public Radio. To see more, visit <a href="http://www.npr.org/">http://www.npr.org/</a>.<img src="http://metrics.npr.org/b/ss/nprapidev/5/1305637338?&gn=Pakistan+Says+NATO+Helicopters+Violated+Its+Airspace&ev=event2&ch=1004&h1=Asia,World,Home+Page+Top+Stories,News&c3=D%3Dgn&v3=D%3Dgn&c4=136389482&c7=1004&v7=D%3Dc7&c18=1004&v18=D%3Dc18&c19=20110517&v19=D%3Dc19&c20=1&v20=D%3Dc20&c45=MDA0OTc2MjAwMDEyNjk0NDE4OTI2NmUwNQ001"/></p></p> Tue, 17 May 2011 07:38:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/story/2011-05-17/pakistan-says-nato-helicopters-violated-its-airspace-86641 Monkey Bars No More: Trying The Money Playground http://www.wbez.org/story/2011-05-16/monkey-bars-no-more-trying-money-playground-86633 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org//0" alt="" /><p><p><em>Part of a <a href="http://www.npr.org/series/136275928/money-counts-young-adults-and-financial-literacy">series</a></em><em> </em><em>on young people and financial literacy</em></p><p>Fairfax County in the Washington, D.C., suburbs has plenty of shopping malls. Finance Park, though, is the only one exclusively for tweenagers. Every eighth-grader in this large, suburban school system must show up at this mock-up of the real world, spend money, and act like an adult for a day. Jacque Weir says she was magically transformed into "a single mom with an eight-year-old."</p><p>That's the identity that student Weir ended up with; it wasn't her choice, just the luck of the draw. She's pretending to earn good money, $82,000 a year. But in order to complete <a href="http://www.ja.org/programs/programs_mid_park_mobile.shtml">the program at Finance Park</a>, she still has to walk around to the furniture store, the supermarket, and get a home loan from the bank. She must do all that and more without going over budget before she checks out in the afternoon.</p><p>That won't be easy since she, like most of these students, is obsessed with one thing:</p><p>"I'm buying a really expensive car," Weir says. "I have to pay almost $2,000 for it each month."</p><p>As they go from storefront to storefront, students are reminded over and over to save, be thrifty, don't overspend. But that doesn't stop the fantasies. In fact, the brush with adulthood just seems to whet their appetites.</p><p>One students stares at a computer screen that offers him a choice of cars. Or rather, a choice of VWs, since the German carmaker is the corporate car sponsor in this Finance Park. He muses, "I wish I could buy a Lamborghini."</p><p>Well, you can't, because if you don't keep your budget in the black, you'll be sent back to go, and you won't get $200.</p><p>Further down "Ernst and Young Avenue," volunteers in another storefront try to help students sort through the same array of TV/phone/Internet bundles that drive average adults insane.</p><p>The Verizon Store looks like the real thing, thanks to the self-interested generosity of the corporate sponsors who teamed with Junior Achievement, a nonprofit group that helps educate young people about the world of business.</p><p>If all that makes this place seem like a product placement laboratory, that's part of the idea, says Kristen Charnock, who teaches physics at Washington Irving Middle School.</p><p>"I think it brings some reality to it," she says. "It's nice that they've designed the storefronts to make it look authentic."</p><p>And as grownups know, budgeting is not just a math exercise. David van Vleet of the Fairfax County Schools says the point of places like Finance Park is to teach good decision-making.</p><p>"These concepts are taught in civics classes," he says. "We teach taxes in mathematics courses. So they have these concepts that they are learning in school, but they need to see the practicality of those."</p><p><strong>Being An Adult Can Be Un-fun. Who Knew?</strong></p><p>Many of these students say they had no idea how tough it is for their parents to keep their suburban lifestyles on track.</p><p>Student Lauren Katington says when finances come up at her house, "they tell me to go out of the room." But Katington says she would rather not know about her parents' financial struggles "because then I would feel bad for, like, asking for things."</p><p>Which raises an important point: if this stuff is so important, do parents need to share more, and discuss it at home?</p><p>Most kids told me they had fun in Finance Park, although much of the experience stresses how un-fun it is to be an adult — how you can be earning good money and still be broke.</p><p>Of course, Finance Park is not reality — students are cut a lot of slack here. They only have to choose between baskets of food, not between hundreds of items with confusing food nutrition labels. They do not face the credit card hucksters and used car dealers who will prey on them later in life.</p><p>Here, if they enter the checkout line and find they screwed up their budget, the kindly checkout clerk, one of the teachers, can rejigger the numbers, and make it all better.</p><p>There is some research indicating this kind of thing works, that students come out of this process better prepared to spend and save smarter. The question is: Will it stop them from buying into the next real estate bubble, or from blowing their savings on a Lamborghini?</p><p><em><br /></em> Copyright 2011 National Public Radio. To see more, visit <a href="http://www.npr.org/">http://www.npr.org/</a>.<img src="http://metrics.npr.org/b/ss/nprapidev/5/1305614531?&gn=Monkey+Bars+No+More%3A+Trying+The+Money+Playground&ev=event2&ch=136275928&h1=Money+Counts%3A+Young+Adults+And+Financial+Literacy,Around+the+Nation,Your+Money,Education,Business,U.S.,Home+Page+Top+Stories,News&c3=D%3Dgn&v3=D%3Dgn&c4=136363695&c7=1013&v7=D%3Dc7&c18=1013&v18=D%3Dc18&c19=20110517&v19=D%3Dc19&c20=1&v20=D%3Dc20&c21=3&v21=D%3Dc2&c31=136275928&v31=D%3Dc31&c45=MDA0OTc2MjAwMDEyNjk0NDE4OTI2NmUwNQ001"/></p></p> Mon, 16 May 2011 23:01:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/story/2011-05-16/monkey-bars-no-more-trying-money-playground-86633 Southeast Asian Slums Network For Housing Rights http://www.wbez.org/story/2011-05-16/southeast-asian-slums-network-housing-rights-86634 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org//0" alt="" /><p><p>Fast economic growth in many countries often carries a high price for some of the poorest residents: Vast slums are cleared by urban planners and commercial developers, sometimes by force.</p><p>But there's a growing international movement of activists who are fighting for slum-dwellers' housing rights.</p><p><strong>Phnom Penh: A Rising Lake</strong></p><p>Workers pump sand and water into Phnom Penh's Boeung Kak Lake in the heart of the Cambodian capital. Residents say developers are doing this to force them out of their ramshackle homes in exchange for minimal compensation.</p><p>Glassmaker Cham Phutisak looks helplessly at the mud gushing toward his house.</p><p>"We residents are living through great difficulties now. The sand and water are flooding our homes," Phutisak says. "We are afraid we might be electrocuted in the water or bitten by poisonous insects."</p><p>Residents say the developer behind this project is a senator from the ruling party, backed by Chinese investors. Community organizers have lobbied the U.N. and launched protests in Phnom Penh and at Cambodian embassies overseas. In recent weeks, protesting lake residents have clashed with riot police.</p><p>But activist Tuol Srey Po says it's hard to unite the frightened residents. She's part of a loose alliance of nongovernmental organizations called the Four Regions Slum Network.</p><p>"Some people are afraid of joining our network. They moved away, feeling our efforts were as futile as trying to break a rock with an egg," Po says. "Cambodia has only just recovered from civil war, and they don't want to face death again."</p><p><strong>Manila: Slum Dwellers Want Autonomy</strong></p><p>Neighbors chat and children play as the fetid green waters of the Estero De San Miguel flow by their shacks. Community organizer Filomena Cinco shows visitors around.</p><p>"Around maybe 200 meters from here is the passage to Malacanang Palace, where our president lives," Cinco says. "That's why the government wants this community to be demolished and be relocated in a far, far place."</p><p>The government also wants to clean up the estero, or canal, to prevent flooding. But residents don't want to move, says Cinco, because their jobs are here. The community has hired architects to draft renovation plans for the neighborhood. Cinco says that if the government approves the plan, the community will come up with funding.</p><p>"There are slum dwellers who really want to develop themselves, to upgrade their places," Cinco says. "The slum upgrading is the best for them because they know what they want and let the people decide what is best for them."</p><p>Denis Murphy, executive director of the NGO Urban Poor Associates, has lobbied Philippine President Benigno Aquino III, who has declared a moratorium on demolishing the slum.</p><p>Murphy says activists here are inspired by the tactics of Saul Alinsky, the activist who organized Chicago's slums in the 1930s. He says the slum dwellers carry a clear political message for city hall.</p><p>"Look, we are hundreds of thousands of urban poor people here, squatters," he says. "If we're on your side, governing the city is much easier. If we're the enemy, you'll have no end of problems.</p><p>"Every time you want to do something, we'll oppose it."</p><p><strong>Bangkok: A Transitional Period</strong></p><p>In Bangkok, farmers and slum dwellers are camped out in front of the old parliament. There are so many demonstrations going on , it's hard for this group to find an empty street corner.</p><p>Nutchanart Thantong, a Four Regions Slum Network activist, says the upcoming Thai elections present her group with an opportunity to press its cause.</p><p>"At the moment, it's a transitional period and it's a good time to inform the current government that if they don't solve the problem, they surely won't get our vote," Thantong says.</p><p>Civil society groups, fighting to make sure development does not come at the expense of the poor, may be taken for granted elsewhere. But their survival has been hard won under authoritarian and post-authoritarian governments in Southeast Asia. Copyright 2011 National Public Radio. To see more, visit <a href="http://www.npr.org/">http://www.npr.org/</a>.<img src="http://metrics.npr.org/b/ss/nprapidev/5/1305614540?&gn=Southeast+Asian+Slums+Network+For+Housing+Rights&ev=event2&ch=1125&h1=Asia,World,Home+Page+Top+Stories,News&c3=D%3Dgn&v3=D%3Dgn&c4=136370629&c7=1125&v7=D%3Dc7&c18=1125&v18=D%3Dc18&c19=20110517&v19=D%3Dc19&c20=1&v20=D%3Dc20&c21=3&v21=D%3Dc2&c45=MDA0OTc2MjAwMDEyNjk0NDE4OTI2NmUwNQ001"/></p></p> Mon, 16 May 2011 23:01:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/story/2011-05-16/southeast-asian-slums-network-housing-rights-86634 As U.S. Military Exits Iraq, Contractors To Enter http://www.wbez.org/story/2011-05-16/us-military-exits-iraq-contractors-enter-86635 <p><p>A U.S. Army helicopter brigade is set to pull out of Baghdad in December, as part of an agreement with the Iraqi government to remove U.S. forces. So the armed helicopters flying over the Iraqi capital next year will have pilots and machine gunners from DynCorp International, a company based in Virginia.</p><p>On the ground, it's the same story. American soldiers and Marines will leave. Those replacing them, right down to carrying assault weapons, will come from places with names like Aegis Defence Services and Global Strategies Group — eight companies in all.</p><p>All U.S. combat forces are scheduled to leave Iraq by year's end, but there will still be a need for security. That means American troops will be replaced by a private army whose job will be to protect diplomats.</p><p>Already, the State Department is approving contracts, but there are questions about whether it makes sense to turn over this security job to private companies.</p><p><strong>Security For The State Department</strong><strong><br /></strong></p><p>Overseeing the armed personnel is Patrick Kennedy, a top State Department official.</p><p>"I think the number of State Department security contractors would be somewhere in the area of between 4,500 and 5,000," Kennedy says. <strong> </strong></p><p>That's roughly the size of an Army brigade, and double the number of private security contractors there now.</p><p>The State Department has an in-house security force, but it has just 2,000 people to cover the entire world. They handle everything from protecting Secretary of State Hillary Clinton to guarding embassies and consulates.</p><p>Kennedy says for a tough job like Iraq, he needs help.</p><p>"In a situation like this where you have a surge requirement that exceeds the capability of the State Department, it is normal practice to contract out for personnel to assist during those surge periods," Kennedy says.</p><p><strong>A Shaky Record</strong></p><p>But the State Department has a shaky record overseeing armed guards. A recent congressional study found that many contractor abuses in Iraq were caused by those working for the State Department, not for the Pentagon.</p><p>The most notorious was the shooting of 17 Iraqi civilians at a Baghdad traffic circle in 2007. Guards with the private security contractor Blackwater opened fire while protecting a State Department convoy. A U.S. investigation later found there was no threat to that convoy.</p><p>Among those contractors who will be working in Iraq next year is International Development Services, a company with links to Blackwater, now renamed Xe Services.</p><p>State Department officials say they've made changes since that deadly incident in Baghdad. There are now more State Department supervisors; contractors must take an interpreter on all convoys; and companies can be penalized for poor performance.</p><p>But Grant Green, a member of the Commission on Wartime Contracting created by Congress, says that's not enough. He told a House panel recently that the State Department still isn't ready to assume responsibility for Iraq next year.</p><p>"They do not have enough oversight today to oversee and manage those contractors in the way they should be," Green says.</p><p>Kennedy of the State Department disputes that contention. He says there are plenty of supervisors who shadow these private contractors.</p><p>"We have trained State Department security professionals in every convoy in every movement in Iraq," Kennedy says.</p><p><strong>'Beef Up' State Department Forces?</strong></p><p>But that raises a broader question: Should the State Department be turning over these inherently military jobs to private contractors?</p><p>Pratap Chatterjee doesn't think so. Chatterjee, who is with the Center for American Progress and writes about contractors, says these are government roles that demand accountability to the public. He has another idea about what should be done.</p><p>"You might as well beef up the Bureau of Diplomatic Security," he says.</p><p>That means greatly expanding that State Department security force of 2,000 that now covers the entire world.</p><p>"And make sure you have the capability for future operations in countries like Libya or wherever it is, rather than assuming the private contractors will do a good job because you've written a good contract. That's just not good enough," Chatterjee says.</p><p>It may be impractical to hire thousands more State Department security personnel. Stuart Bowen, the Special Inspector General for Iraq Reconstruction, says today's wars are different — they're lengthy and ambitious. So it doesn't make sense to build a large force to protect diplomats.</p><p>"I don't expect that the United States is going be engaged in a stabilization operation of the size of either Iraq or Afghanistan in the near future," Bowen says.</p><p>That may be true. But for the time being, private security contractors — thousands more — will soon be on the job in Iraq. Copyright 2011 National Public Radio. To see more, visit <a href="http://www.npr.org/">http://www.npr.org/</a>.<img src="http://metrics.npr.org/b/ss/nprapidev/5/1305614540?&gn=As+U.S.+Military+Exits+Iraq%2C+Contractors+To+Enter&ev=event2&ch=1001&h1=World,Home+Page+Top+Stories,News&c3=D%3Dgn&v3=D%3Dgn&c4=136357821&c7=1001&v7=D%3Dc7&c18=1001&v18=D%3Dc18&c19=20110517&v19=D%3Dc19&c20=1&v20=D%3Dc20&c21=3&v21=D%3Dc2&c45=MDA0OTc2MjAwMDEyNjk0NDE4OTI2NmUwNQ001"/></p></p> Mon, 16 May 2011 23:01:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/story/2011-05-16/us-military-exits-iraq-contractors-enter-86635 As Egypt Moves Toward Elections, Anxiety Grows http://www.wbez.org/story/2011-05-16/egypt-moves-toward-elections-anxiety-grows-86636 <p><p>In Egypt, political parties are frantically trying to organize, register and make themselves known before elections scheduled for this fall.</p><p>In addition to the short timeline, people are increasingly worried about lawlessness and sectarian strife that could lead ordinary Egyptians to support postponing the revolution in favor of stability.</p><p><strong>Reaching Out</strong></p><p>Decades of repression and corruption have left Egyptians in all walks of life with deep scars and a hunger for justice.</p><p>At the Cairo Medical Union recently, doctors gathered to prepare for a strike. Pediatrician Ahmed Baht says the No. 1 demand is to keep the revolution going, which for the doctors means ousting the health minister and his colleagues, who Baht says are irrevocably tainted by their long ties to the old, corrupt Mubarak regime.</p><p>"We want to remove this gang because they are the same men who shared for a long time in the worst Cabinet of health in Egypt and all over the modern history," he says.</p><p>In an office building not far away, Egyptians wait to sign up at the launch of yet another new political party — the Justice Party. It joins a slew of other moderate, secular parties: the Popular Alliance, the Free Egyptians, the Democratic Labor Party and many others.</p><p>Ehab El Kharrat, a psychiatrist, helped found the Egyptian Social Democratic Party. He says like other center and left parties, his group is attracting lots of civil society leaders and intellectuals.</p><p>But the key to success, he believes, will be their effort to reach out to ordinary Egyptians — the ones who don't want to hear about separating religion and state, but also have their doubts about Islamist groups such as the Muslim Brotherhood.</p><p>"Most of the villagers ... find themselves religious but they find the Muslim Brotherhood a little bit ... weird. This is not us. So they are joining us, and they are looking for us," he says. "How fast will they find us and how fast will we be able to organize ourselves is the issue."</p><p><strong>Fear Returns</strong></p><p>But if the key to the Arab uprisings was breaking the wall of fear that kept autocratic regimes in place, then Egyptians are right to be worried these days, because fear is returning.</p><p>Rising street crime in the absence of a strong police presence has increased uncertainty about where the revolution is heading. Even more chilling has been the sectarian bloodshed between Muslims and Coptic Christians that left more than a dozen people dead earlier this month.</p><p>Large crowds gathered at Tahrir Square on Friday to demand an end to sectarian strife and a return to the rule of law.</p><p>Hussein, a teacher at Al-Azhar University, said remnants of the Mubarak regime were probably behind the sectarian violence, hoping to derail the revolution.</p><p>"Some people try to make some problems against Muslims and Christians, but we are one. The Muslims and the Christians are one!" Hussein said.</p><p>Others have suggested that Saudi Arabia is supporting the hard-line Salafists in Egypt, who were blamed for provoking the sectarian violence.</p><p>Analyst Emad Gad at the Al-Ahram Center for Political and Strategic Studies says chaos in Egypt now would give regimes such as the Saudis a stronger argument for quelling discontent at home.</p><p>"They want to deliver a message to their people: You are saying that we are corrupted? Yes, we are corrupted. You are saying that we are not democratic? Yes, we are not democratic. But it's better for you to live under our regime more than imitating the Egyptian model," he says.</p><p>For now, against a backdrop of growing anxiety and uncertainty, Egyptians are trying to hang on, get organized and shepherd their revolution into the next, electoral phase. Copyright 2011 National Public Radio. To see more, visit <a href="http://www.npr.org/">http://www.npr.org/</a>.<img src="http://metrics.npr.org/b/ss/nprapidev/5/1305614540?&gn=As+Egypt+Moves+Toward+Elections%2C+Anxiety+Grows&ev=event2&ch=1009&h1=World,Home+Page+Top+Stories,News&c3=D%3Dgn&v3=D%3Dgn&c4=136288936&c19=20110517&v19=D%3Dc19&c20=1&v20=D%3Dc20&c21=3&v21=D%3Dc2&c45=MDA0OTc2MjAwMDEyNjk0NDE4OTI2NmUwNQ001"/></p></p> Mon, 16 May 2011 23:01:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/story/2011-05-16/egypt-moves-toward-elections-anxiety-grows-86636 Veterans Compete For Gold At Warrior Games http://www.wbez.org/story/2011-05-16/veterans-compete-gold-warrior-games-86629 <p><p>The U.S. Olympic Training Center in Colorado Springs is hosting 220 servicemen and woman who are wounded, injured or ill this week for the 2<sup>nd</sup> Annual <a href="http://usparalympics.org/usoc-paralympic-military-program/warrior-games-presented-by-deloitte" target="_blank">Warrior Games</a>.</p><p>"We have the Army, the Navy, the Marines, the Air Force, the Coast Guard and Special Operations Command all participating," says Charlie Huebner, chief of paralympics for the U.S. Olympic Committee.</p><p>Huebner says a primary goal of the games is to encourage people with disabilities to be physically active.</p><p>Some of the athletes are the soldiers you've heard a lot about — injured by a roadside bomb or another combat-related injury. Others are accident victims or suffering from an illness.</p><p>Participants compete in seven sports: archery, cycling, basketball, shooting, swimming, track and field, and sitting volleyball. They are chosen proportionately from the various service branches.</p><p>In sitting volleyball the net is low so that it touches the ground. And the players don't use wheelchairs, like in basketball, they sit on the floor and propel themselves however they can.</p><p>"Everybody's got different injuries," says Savage Margraf, 24, with the Marine Corps sitting volleyball team. "Some of the guys are double-amputees, some are single-amputees below the waist.</p><p>"This is actually a sport where having legs is a disadvantage because they get in the way," Margraf says. She's one of the few team members who still has both arms and legs.</p><p>Margraf suffers from traumatic brain injury (TBI). She says doctors attribute her TBI to two bad falls she took while serving in Iraq. One was from a watch tower on the Syrian border.</p><p>"I was helping get a 50-[caliber] barrel down — it's a machine gun," Margraf explains. "We had to change out the barrels because there was a sand storm. As I was coming down the stair, the second stair from the top broke and I fell."</p><p>Now Margraf says she has trouble with her vision. She was medically retired from the military in 2008 at 21 years old. Many of those participating in the Warrior Games are young.</p><p>Teammate Jese Schag, 21, had his right leg amputated after a motorcycle accident in 2009. He played sitting volleyball in the first Warrior Games last year.</p><p>"It's all about speed and you got to have good hands," Schag says. "You got to be able to react — put your hands on the floor and then bring them up to get the ball."</p><p>Margraf says the competition is fun, but she's really here for inspiration.</p><p>"We have a swimmer who is a double-amputee and blind," Margraf says. "How can you not come to this and leave with some sort of motivation and know that there are people that are way worse than you and they are trying?"</p><p>The Defense Department and the U.S. Olympic Committee organize the Warrior Games. Opening ceremonies were on May 16. The sitting volleyball finals will wrap up the competition on May 21. Copyright 2011 National Public Radio. To see more, visit <a href="http://www.npr.org/">http://www.npr.org/</a>.<img src="http://metrics.npr.org/b/ss/nprapidev/5/1305607027?&gn=Veterans+Compete+For+Gold+At+Warrior+Games&ev=event2&ch=1055&h1=On+Disabilities,Health,Around+the+Nation,Sports,U.S.,Home+Page+Top+Stories,News&c3=D%3Dgn&v3=D%3Dgn&c4=136360318&c7=1055&v7=D%3Dc7&c18=1055&v18=D%3Dc18&c19=20110516&v19=D%3Dc19&c20=1&v20=D%3Dc20&c21=3&v21=D%3Dc2&c45=MDA0OTc2MjAwMDEyNjk0NDE4OTI2NmUwNQ001"/></p></p> Mon, 16 May 2011 16:45:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/story/2011-05-16/veterans-compete-gold-warrior-games-86629