Sunday, September 9, 2012

President Barack Obama Visits Fort Bliss

I was fortunate to be selected to cover the speech by President Barack Obama at Fort Bliss. The following story appeared at http://www.borderzine.com.

Obama visits Fort Bliss to praise the sacrifice and dedication of U.S. troops after a decade of war

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EL PASO – President Barack Obama returned to Fort Bliss two years after his first visit at the end of the Iraq war to tell the troops that after a decade of war America has not forgotten its wounded warriors.
He promised the troops on August 31 more counselors, more clinicians, more care and more treatment. “Today we’re taking another step. I’ve signed a new executive order to give our troops, our veterans, and our families better access to mental health care,” Obama said.
The president said that he was here for a simple reason, but it was clear that his reasons went far beyond that. He was here with a plan to address the wounds of the decade of war that has sapped this country’s strength and of course, to try and sway as many military votes his way in the upcoming election.
As befits a man who has been called the rock star president, Obama received a warm welcome from the crowd of an estimated 2,000 soldiers and their families. Whatever their political leanings, there was no doubt that the personality of the Commander in Chief made a distinct impression on this group of men and women.
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The event was not open to the general public, rather the audience included selected soldiers and significant others, Gold Star Families, a cadre of pre-credentialed media, and elected officials. Major General Dana J.H. Pittard opened the event with some remarks followed by General Lloyd Austin, Deputy Chief of Staff of the Army who introduced the President of the United States.
The president initially made it clear that he had returned to Fort Bliss to mark the sacrifice and achievements of the U.S. military. “Two years ago, I was here to mark a historic moment in the life of our nation and out military – the end of major combat operations in Iraq. It was a chance for me to say on behalf of the American people to you and all who served there – welcome home and congratulations on a job well done.”
Two years ago, he stressed the need for more work to be done even though the war in Iraq was over. He had spoken of taking the fight to Al-Qaeda and he stressed the fact that in regard to this he had kept his word and, with allies and partners, more top Al-Qaeda terrorists had been taken out than at any time since 9/11 including Osama bin Laden.
Though he spoke of victories and achievements, he also had words for the many fallen and wounded warriors. Before the remarks, he had taken time from his schedule to meet with some Gold Star families and left them with the message that “their loved ones live on in the soul of our nation and we will honor them always.”
He said that the war in Afghanistan would continue until the U.S. turned over operational control to the Afghan military. We would end this war responsibly, he said, bringing to a close a full decade of war, but he stressed that the work would not end when the last soldier came home.
The next battle would be healing the wounds of war, he said. He made a pledge that, as president, he would insist that America serve the soldiers and their families as well as the soldiers and their families had served America.
The wounds of war would be addressed and, as much as possible, healed, he said. Just as America gave soldiers the best equipment and technology on the battlefield, it would also give soldiers the best support and care available when they return home.
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Prior to his official remarks, Obama said that he had taken part in a roundtable with some soldiers and their families, talking about the struggle of coming home, especially for the wounded warriors.
The government has poured a tremendous amount of resources into this effort, giving unprecedented support to the soldiers suffering from traumatic brain injury and PTSD.
Finally, he reiterated another promise that he made at Fort Bliss two years ago – that when a soldier takes off the uniform for the last time that he, or she, will be helped to fully participate in the economy. Every single soldier deserves his or her chance to live the American dream, he said.
In support of this pledge, the Transition Assistance Program has been overhauled, creating a kind of reverse boot camp. As soldiers transition through this program, they will receive help finding a job, pursue a degree or start a business. Soldiers and their families will be helped to pursue their education under the Post 9/11 GI-Bill.
He also stressed that the government would be cracking down on those schools that have been trying to take soldiers’ money and then rip them off by not giving them the education that they paid for.
He pledged that the government would keep hiring the newest veterans in the federal government and in communities as police officers and firefighters and first responders. As a result of tax credits more businesses can hire veterans and wounded warriors. He also spoke of new regulations that would make it easier for veterans to transfer their military skills to the licenses and credentials that are needed to get a civilian job.
After all, he said, if a veteran has been a medic in theater, he or she should not have to start at Nursing 101. He spoke of a challenge he had made to the private section to hire 100,000 veterans and he revealed that patriotic companies had hired 125,000 veterans to date.
Finally, in support of his plan for aiding returning veterans he called on Congress to pass the Veterans Jobs Corps that provides tax credits to businesses that hire vets.
He finished his remarks by describing a wounded warrior he met the last time he was in Afghanistan – Sergeant Chase Haag, then 22. This past spring, Haag and his team were hit by an IED shortly before the president landed.
So when Obama arrived at the hospital room, Haag and his team were in pretty bad shape. Haag’s injuries were extensive and the President did not want to intrude. However, Haag’s physician insisted that the president should speak to the young man even though he appeared to be sleeping.
Obama said a few words and then turned to go when the young man’s hand slowly came up from under the blanket that covered him giving the president a firm Army handshake. After a pause, the president said that the actions of that wounded soldier captured the spirit, the resilience, the tenacity, the discipline, the resolve, and the patriotism of all soldiers.

Sunday, July 29, 2012

22 YEARS ON THE AIR

This year is something of a milestone for me. It was 1989 when I aired my first radio show, called "Adventure Radio" on KORG in Anaheim, California.. I was just learning the business and I have to say it was a blast. I began to talk about unsolved mysteries, last treasures, unidentified flying objects and of course, ghosts on that first show and the audience loved it. I began my radio journey during afternoon drive time doing a one hour show each afternoon, Monday through Friday. The problem was that the audience wanted ore stories and guest interviews and the station had no additional time to give to me. As a result, I switched to 9:00 PM - 11:00 PM in the evening. The response was overwhelming.
I began my career with a co-host, a lovely young lady who I thought could help me build the show into something that I could syndicate nationally onto other stations. In the beginning, a show is not profitable, hard work is required to make an income stream from such a venture. Of course to even do a show on one station requires an enormous amount of work and unfortunately, she believed that as "talent" she was not required to work outside the studio, selling ads or getting guests for example, but she most assuredly expected to have ownership of half of the show handed to her as her due. Well, it did not work like that. She did take me to the labor board claiming ownership of half of the show. They laughed at her demands.
My second full time co-host was a remarkable young lady who wanted to use the show as her springboard to Hollywood fame and fortune. She also began to play politics with various power players in the area, and worst of all, she began to  decide which advertisers I should do business with in order to enhance her own personal image. To her the show came second and her potential Hollywood career came first. She was a superb manipulator, but in the end, her manipulation brought that first show to an end.
My next radio venture was creating what we might call a podcast today for broadcast on various stations. This venture opened up an entirely new world for me. I began to understand how best to create shows and how to use those shows in order to develop a stream of income. I also first saw the potential of internet radio.
Since those early days, I have been on a number of stations and witnessed why radio was surpassed by television/ It was not the fascination with the visual imagery, but rather it was the attitude of the station managers that treated radio like a toy. On a daily basis, the average listener is in range of a radio much more than a television. The American fascination with radio is still a powerful factor, but when left in the hands of complete jackasses, this medium is still in danger of fading away.
Now I do an internet radio show at http://www.kenhudnall.com (this is my website and a link there takes you to the show). I broadcast from 6:00 PM Mountain time - 9:00 PM Monday through Friday. Come and join us.

Thursday, July 19, 2012

PLAZA CLASSIC FILM FESTIVAL TO WELCOME AL PACINO




Oscar Winner Al Pacino
EL PASO - Nostalgia is a wonderful thing when you are well along in life. The memories of youth many times built around classic films are resurrected during the very rare film festivals held from time to time. Well, more than 80 classic films will be shown in El Paso in August.

The Plaza Classic Film Festival will be held August 2 – 12 at the historic Plaza Theater. The festival was created in 2008 to celebrate this country’s rich cinema history and rekindle the joy of going to the movies. Movie going in El Paso was a special time as the historic Plaza theater was an integral part of culture in El Paso for many years and seeing a movie there was a special event.

The Plaza Theatre, located in downtown El Paso, just up the street from the iconic Camino Real Hotel, was built during the Great Depression begun by Louis Dent and finished by Paramount-Publix of New York, at a cost of $1 million. In its youth the Plaza was referred to as one of the most beautiful theaters in the country and heralded as the “Southwest’s most perfect theater”. When it opened on September 12, 1930, crowds swarmed the theater, enjoying its “atmospheric” architectural style. The design of the main auditorium was such that it made you feel that you were sitting in the courtyard of a Spanish hacienda. There was little argument that the Plaza Theatre was the grandest of the region’s movie palaces and the crown jewel of El Paso’s theater district.

Eva Marie Saint

The Plaza was originally intended to accommodate road shows and grand opera but it was primarily intended to show motion pictures, However all things must come to an end and after a continuous run of over four and a half decades, the Plaza closed for good in the late 1970s. In a move toward modernization, there was even a plan in the works to demolish the grand old theater. However, the plan to do away with what had long been part of El Paso life for over 4 decades angered a number of residents and grassroots efforts arose to save the Plaza from the wrecking ball. In answer to the demands of the community, the El Paso Community Foundation stepped in to take up the challenge of saving, preserving and finally restoring the Plaza Theatre to its original grandeur. After many years of effort and almost $30 million in renovation costs, the Plaza Theatre once again reopened as the Plaza Theatre Performing Arts Center on March 17, 2006.

Mary Badham


The Plaza Theater is now the home of the El Paso Symphony Orchestra and El Paso’s finest venue for music concerts and Broadway shows, however, movies have not been forgotten. The El Paso Community Foundation took the lead to fully restore this venerable movie palace to its historic glory: in the spring of 2008 the Foundation purchased and installed a state-of-art film and digital projection system and an enormous 50’ wide screen.

For generations of El Pasoans, going to the movies, meant going to the Plaza Theatre. It was the first public building in El Paso to have air conditioning and refrigerated water fountains. Such things are long remembered by the older movie going public. So it was with great anticipation that people looked forward to going to the movies at the Plaza once again. Thanks to the overwhelming community and corporate support during the Plaza Classic Film Festival’s first year, the festival has become one of the most anticipated events in the region’s cultural calendar.

The Plaza Classic Film Festival is more than a nostalgia trip down memory lane for older El Pasoans. One of the goals of the festival is to educate audiences about the history and art of the cinema and reawaken the joy of watching great films. With the help of special presenters and through educational outreach programs and film talks, the festival provides many opportunities to expand your knowledge and appreciation of these “classics”.

Tippi Hedren

The Plaza Theatre is, without a doubt, once again one of the finest movie palaces in the country. It is also interesting to note that the Plaza Classic Film Festival is a non-commercial, all-volunteer effort and a special project of the El Paso Community Foundation. All proceeds from the festival go to the Plaza Film Fund to be used to provide grants to local filmmakers, underwriting for alternative film festivals and to support educational film initiatives in the area.

This year the Plaza Classic Film Festival will include more than 80 films including Breakfast at Tiffany’s. Duck Soup, To Kill a Mockingbird, American in Paris and many others. Among the presenters will be such luminaries as Tippi Hedren, star of Alfred Hitchcock’s classic “The Birds”, Eva Marie Saint, star of Alfred Hitchcock’s classic “North by Northwest”, Mary Badham of “To Kill a Mockingbird” and last but not least, the one and only Oscar winning actor Al Pacino. Mr. Pacino will perform an intimate evening detailing his illustrious career in Al Pacino: One Night Only at the historic Plaza Theatre in El Paso, Texas, on August 4, 2012 at 7:30 pm.

During this 10 day festival, the Plaza Theater, the gem of the southwest will once again shine as brightly as she did almost 80 year ago. Come be a part of the brilliance as once again, we go down memory lane during a night at the movies.

Wednesday, July 4, 2012

Galaxy Fest


            This year was the 65th anniversary of the alleged crash of an Unidentified Flying Object at Roswell, New Mexico. As has been the custom for many years, around the fourth of July, a dual celebration of this event was held in Roswell, one sponsored by the town and the other by the UFO Museum and Study Center.

            The Galaxy Fest, the event sponsored by the UFO Museum and Study Center, held its opening ceremonies in the UFO Museum at 9:00 AM, Friday, June 29th. Each year the Museum invites stars from the world of science fiction as well as the leading researchers and authors in the field of UFO phenomenon. Attending this event was Denise Crosby, the actress that played Tasha Yar on the first season of the television program Star Trek: The Next Generation. She signed autographs and talked with the fans of that long running show.

            There were also a number of UFO researchers and authors present, including Tom Carey, Diana Perla Chapa, Stanton Friedman, Paola Harris, Frank Kimbler, Kathleen Marden, Steve Pierce, Kevin Randle, David Rudiak, Robert Salas, Freddy Silva, Don Schmitt, Derrel Sims, Yvonne Smith, abductee Travis Walton, Larry Holcombe, myself, Sharon King, Tom Kirkbride, K. Lorraine, Jull Amariah Mara and Linda Mooney.

The event attracted visitors from as far away as Australia and introduced a large number of people to the various aspects of the UFO mystery through displays, books and lectures. As might be expected, the lectures covered the gamut of topics related to the alleged crash of a craft from another planet. Additionally, since UFOs tend to be lumped in with what are referred to as “new age” subjects, there were talks regarding other “new age” subjects that were not directly related to UFOs, such as Freddy Silva’s talk on “The Coding of Earth: Crop Circles, Sacred Sites and the Coming of Human Evolution”.

Kathleen Marden, the niece of abductees Betty and Barney Hill spoke on “The E.T. Agenda: Why Don’t they land on the White House Lawn?” and “Captured: The Betty and Barney Hill UFO Experience”. Larry Holcombe spoke on “The Nixon Administration and the TV Documentary UFOs: Past, Present and Future” and “The History of Modern Presidents and the UFO Enigma”. David Rudiak spoke on “The Ramey Memo”. Travis Walton and Steve Pierce discussed Walton’s abduction by aliens which became a book and a movie entitled “Fire in the Sky”. Stanton Friedman, the “rediscoverer” of the Roswell Crash discussed “Man’s Place in the Universe”. Linda Mooney discussed “How to Love an Alien”. Frank Kimbler presented a talk on “Roswell Artifacts”. Diana Perla Chapa talked about “The Mayan Predictions: Extra Terrestrial Input” and “The Mayan Predictions and the Importance of the Pyramid Shape”. Don Schmitt and Tom Carey presented two talks, one entitled “Deathbed Confessions: The Truth of Roswell Finally Revealed” and the other was “Roswell Generals Talk: What They Said Really Happened”. I spoke on “UFOs and the Supernatural”. Paola Harris presented “A UFO Update – The International Perspective”. Kevin Randle presented “Reflections of a UFO Investigator”. Yvonne Smith presented “Chosen: Recollections of UFO Abductions through Hypnotherapy”. Derrel Sims talked about “Alien Implants: New Secrets Unveiled and Cases on the Horizon” and “Who Is the Alien?” K. Lorraine presented talks on the “Lonely Alien” and “The Apple Trick”. Robert Salas presented “UFOs, Nuclear Weapons and Extreme Secrecy”. Jill “Amariah” Mara presented talks entitled “Meet Benevolent Extraterrestrials” and “Telepathic ET Contact”. Tom Kirkbride presented “Science Fiction Heroes and Today’s Politics” and “Freedom and Science Fiction”.


Lest readers begin to think that Roswell is just known for an alleged UFO crash, the area also has a tremendous amount of history. A group of pioneers from Missouri attempted to establish a settlement, called Missouri Plaza, about 15 miles southwest of what is now Roswell in 1865 but were forced to abandon the site because of a lack of water. Cattleman John Chisum had his famous Jingle Bob Ranch, the largest ranch in the country, about 5 miles from the center of Roswell, at South Spring Acres. The first buildings to be established in Roswell were two adobe buildings built in 1869 by Van C. Smith, a businessman from Omaha, Nebraska, and his partner, Aaron Wilburn. The two buildings became the settlement's general store, post office, and sleeping quarters for paying guests.

In 1871, Van C. Smith filed a claim with the federal government for the land around the buildings, and on August 20, 1873, he became the town's first postmaster. Van C. Smith was the son of Roswell Smith, a prominent Indiana lawyer and Annie Ellsworth, daughter of U.S. Patent Commissioner Henry Leavitt Ellsworth. Smith named the town Roswell, after his father's first name.

During World War II, a prisoner of war camp was located in nearby Orchard Park. The German prisoners of war were used to do major infrastructure work in Roswell, such as paving the banks of the North Spring River. Some POWs used rocks of different sizes to create the outline of an iron cross among the stones covering the north bank. Later, the iron cross was covered with a thin layer of concrete. In the 1980s, a crew cleaning the river bed cleared off the concrete and revealed the outline once more. The small park just south of the cross was then known as Iron Cross Park. On November 11, 1996 the park was renamed POW/MIA Park. The park displays a piece of the Berlin Wall, presented to the City of Roswell by the German Air Force. In the 1930s, Roswell was a site for much of Robert Goddard's early rocketry work. Roswell was a location of military importance from 1941 to 1967, at which time Walker Air Force Base was decommissioned. After the closure of the base, Roswell capitalized on its pleasant climate and began to gain a reputation as a retirement community.

There are always questions as to how Roswell became so well known in regard to UFOs, to the following is quick synopsis of the Roswell Incident. On July 8, 1947, the Roswell Army Air Field (RAAF) public information officer Walter Haut in Roswell, New Mexico, and the father of the current director of the Roswell UFO Museum and Study Center issued a press release stating that personnel from the field's 509th Bomb Group had recovered a crashed "flying disk" from a ranch near Roswell, sparking intense media interest. The following day, the press reported that Commanding General of the Eighth Air Force Roger M. Ramey stated that, in fact, a radar-tracking balloon had been recovered by the RAAF personnel, not a "flying disc." A subsequent press conference was called, featuring debris said to be from the crashed object, which seemed to confirm the weather balloon description.

The Roswell incident was quickly forgotten and almost completely ignored, even by UFO researchers, for more than 30 years. Then, in 1978, physicist and Ufologists Stanton T. Friedman interviewed Major Jesse Marcel the former intelligence officer at RAAF who was involved with the original recovery of the debris in 1947. Marcel expressed his belief that the military had covered up the recovery of an alien spacecraft. His story spread through UFO circles, being featured in some UFO documentaries at the time. In February 1980, The National Enquirer ran its own interview with Marcel, garnering national and worldwide attention for the Roswell incident.

Additional witnesses added significant new details, including claims of a huge military operation dedicated to recovering alien craft and aliens themselves, at as many as 11 crash sites, and alleged witness intimidation. In 1989, former mortician Glenn Dennis put forth a detailed personal account, wherein he claimed that alien autopsies were carried out at the Roswell base.

In response to these reports, numerous questions from the media and after congressional inquiries, the General Accounting Office launched an inquiry and directed the Office of the Secretary of the Air Force to conduct an internal investigation. The result was summarized in two reports. The first report, which was released in 1995, concluded that the reported recovered material in 1947 was likely debris from a secret government program called Project Mogul, which involved high altitude balloons meant to detect sound waves generated by Soviet atomic bomb tests and ballistic missiles.

The second report, released in 1997, concluded that reports of recovered alien bodies were likely a combination of innocently transformed memories of military accidents involving injured or killed personnel, innocently transformed memories of the recovery of anthropomorphic dummies in military programs like Project High Dive conducted in the 1950s, and hoaxes perpetrated by various witnesses and UFO proponents. The psychological effects of time compression and confusion about when events occurred explained the discrepancy with the years in question. These reports were dismissed by UFO proponents as being either disinformation or simply implausible. However, numerous high-profile UFO researchers discount the possibility that the incident had anything to do with aliens.

In 1978, nuclear physicist and author Stanton T. Friedman interviewed Jesse Marcel, the only person known to have accompanied the Roswell debris from where it was recovered to Fort Worth where reporters saw material said to be part of the recovered object. Over the next few years, the accounts he and others gave elevated Roswell from a forgotten incident to perhaps the most famous UFO case of all time.

By the early 1990s, UFO researchers such as Friedman, William Moore, Karl T. Pflock, and the team of Kevin D. Randle and Donald R. Schmitt had interviewed several hundred people who had, or claimed to have had, a connection with the events at Roswell in 1947. Additionally, hundreds of documents were obtained via Freedom of Information Act requests, as were some apparently leaked by insiders, such as the disputed "Majestic 12" documents. Their conclusions were that at least one alien craft had crashed in the Roswell vicinity, that aliens, some possibly still alive, were recovered, and that a massive cover-up of any knowledge of the incident was put in place.

Of course there are also an equal number of investigators who believe that until a UFO lands on the White House lawn the entire story is a hoax. The intent of Galaxy Fest is to present the story to the world and let each visitor make up their own minds. Whatever may be the end result, the event is a fun way to spent four days and it gives people the opportunity to meet television stars, well known researchers and authors. As Mr. Spock used to say “Live Long and Prosper!”



Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Power For Power's Sake


It is a heady intoxication that once achieved is always craved. People jump when you snap your fingers, kowtow to you in all the little ways that make you feel above the crowd, better than anyone else. That is the feeling of power.

            Once again, we have public officials in El Paso caught with their hands in the cookie jar. Dr. Lorenzo Garcia, Superintendent of the El Paso Independent School District (EPISD) was arrested by the Federal Bureau of Investigation in August of 2011 for alleged corruption. The indictment charged Garcia with one count of conspiracy to commit mail fraud, two counts of mail fraud and one count of aiding and abetting theft from programs receiving federal funds. However, the specifics of the indictment are not really germane to this article. What is germane is the underlying cause of this debacle – the good ole boy (and girl) system that is rampant in El Paso.

            The interesting thing is that, in regard to Dr. Garcia, while he was the superintendent, he had a Board of Directors that he had to answer too. In theory, the Board was there to make sure that he followed the rules. The same was true in regard to Robert E. (Bob) Jones, the President/CEO of the National Center for Employment of the Disabled (NCED). In both cases the Boards were made up of prominent individuals who were local powers in their own right. In the case of EPISD, the Board members were elected by the voters of El Paso County. So the question to be asked is how did such improper conduct happen with the eagle eyed members of their respective Boards watching both of these men? The answer is greed and ego.

            In the case of NCED, though each board member was well aware of their fiduciary duty to the Company, they were also aware of Bob Jones’ world famous temper as well as his unending generosity to those that could help him achieve his goals. A phone call from Bob Jones could open doors beyond the imagining of most of us. Keep in mind that the Board members were not average individuals but well off, well educated, powerful people in their own right. Yet none of them dared question what Bob Jones wanted and therein lay the problem that led to prison for Mr. Jones and several others. None of them dated question the President of NCED because he was El Paso’s Entrepreneur of the Year and had the ear of the Mayor, the Governor and even the President of the United States. His ego and success in some odd way became their ego and their success. They felt even more powerful that than actually were because they were directors of a powerful company. The one individuial that did question him was considered a disloyal and disgruntle employee and literally shunned.

            In the case of Dr. Garcia, he ruled as a benevolent despot. He committed EPISD funds and gave out contracts without the mandatory bid process because he was so entrenched in the system that no one dared to question him. In spite of the contractual requirements that any contract over a certain dollar amount had to go out for bid he gave a $40,000.00 contract to a local individual to be a morale booster for the students. This contract, according to my sources never went out for bid nor was it approved by the Board. However, the Board did nothing about it when it became public. After all, to question Dr. Garcia was to question their own judgment since their job was to make sure he followed the rules. If he failed to follow the rules then it reflected badly on them, thus his decision to grant that contract for a morale booster was rubber stamped. The good ole boy system kicked in and, as usual, the game became, look innocent and stay quiet, which is something that most Boards of Director excell at. In El Paso negative publicity blows over really fast, the public quickly forgets.

            Currently, there is a call in the El Paso Times for the EPISD Board to resign, but the President of the Board is standing her ground. She knows that in six months or so, if she can hold, out everyone will forget what happened and it will business as usual. She has experienced that heady wine known as power and she has no intention of giving it up and she will get away with it though she and the rest of the Board certainly have questions to answer. Such is politics in El Paso.  

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

UFOs and the Supernatural

Today, I went to press with my newest book, UFOs and the Supernatural. In spite of the title, I am not of the opinion that every Unidentified flying object is related to the supernatural, but certainly there is evidence that not every unidentified flying object is  a potential craft from another planet. Are some of the mysterious lights in the sky really connections to the supernatural? 
It is amazing to note that there have been reports that point to a link between unidentified flying objects and such things as Sasquatch, Shadow People and ghosts. In this new book, I go to great lengths to explore these connections. Why have there been a number of reports of Sasquatch being found at landings by UFOs? Why have hauntings been reported by people who just recently were witnesses to landings of what appear to be space craft from another world?
There have also been many tales of ancient gods arriving in what appear to be space craft, which would certainly classify as supernatural or paranormal. Every ancient religious tenet has stories that could well be alien visitation. These tales are explored as well. UFOs and the Supernatural has something for everyone whether you believe in UFOs are not. 

Monday, May 21, 2012

A Cultural Event

Among the many smells in the air were grilled chicken and a number of others that I could not identify. However, the mixture was certain to draw anyone in the area who liked good food.
This was the Festival of St. George, an annual, in its 46th year, even that took place this past weekend at the St. George Antiochian Church Orthodox Church on Festival. The core of the congregation are families from Syria, Lebanon and other part of the middle east. While these families have ssimilated into our culture, they have not forgotten their own and they make sure that their children have an appreciation for the way of life in the old country.
There was no question that the members enjoyed each other's company and they welcomed guests with open arms. I have never seen such dancing and socializing since the last major fiesta I attended in Panama over thirty years ago. I want to go on record as saying that the congregation of St. George knows how to conduct a fundraiser and throw a superb party. At most events that I attend I stay only a short period of time, I left this one at the last minute for another appointment.
The entertainment was sponsored by Westwind Pediatric, Doctors Hassan and Maha Salloum, and Las Palmas Medical Center. Dr. Salloum was the master of ceremonies and while he may be a fine doctor, he is unparalleled in his ability to thrown a complete blowout of a party. The main entertainment was furnished by a singer by the name of Farah and even though he sang in Arabic, he was an outstanding entertainer. Add to his unbelievable performance were dances performed by very lovely young ladies in the tradtional style.
If you did not attend the Festival of St. George, you truely missed a spectacular event. It should definitely be on your list for next year.

Monday, May 14, 2012

Smoke and Mirrors

I have a lot of listeners to my radio show at http://www.kenhudnall.com and the questions I receive from listeners certainly cover the gamut of topics. The format of the show is primarily the paranormal, bit we do get into other areas such as politics. One of my guests has been Jesse Ventura who certainly raises a storm of controversy every time he comes on the show. However, this time, the question was from way out in left field. The question was what did I think about the President's statement regarding same sex marriage?
Well first of all, personally, I don't care if you want to marry a turnip, as long as you don't expect me to do the same. However, there are many in this country who firmly believe a marriage is between a man and a woman. Interestingly enough, a review of history will show that, while gays have always been with us, there is a push for mainstream recognition going on at this point in history. I wish them well, though I tend to be on the conservative side in my beliefs.
However, in all of the hoopla going on about President Obama and his evolving beliefs, one thing seems to be missed by most commentators. If you look at the big picture, he has done something to grab the media's attention every time the Republicans have taken an action or accomplished some milestone that would be headline worth. In other words, I believe that his "evolving" position is just more of the smoke and mirrors for which he is very famous. At this point in his administration, many of his policies have failed and he is facing a very serious opposition in Mitt Romney. As a result he would do anything he possibly can to keep the cameras focused on himself.
You also have to take into consideration that his "evolving" position has cost him support of many of the Black religious leaders who are not in favor of gay marriages. So why risk losing that critical support so close to the election? One reason is that he is counting on the Hollywood crowd to be a cash cow and many of them are firm supporters of gay and lesbians having the right to marry. It cannot be a coincidence that he made his announcement just two days before the fundraiser at George Clooney's house.
This election is going to be a pivotal one. Will we elect someone simply because of their color, which is one of the drawing cards that the President is starting to use more and more, or will be elect someone based on the issues and the appearance that the person elected can solve the issues. President Obama's 2008 campaign of "Hope and Change" has turned into "hope you have at least some change left in your pocket". Of course his excuse is it's all George W. Bush's fault. I am not saying that Romney can do any better. I am saying that all of these issues being raised at this point are just smoke and mirrors and we need to see the truth. Let's hope the this election brings a change for the better. 

Saturday, May 12, 2012

Same old Same old

I inserted some video for this entry showing one way in which our troops attempt to win the hearts and minds of the Afghanis.  The humming noise heard on the video is the engine of the Stryker just outside the building. In the video you can see the squad leader talking to the village elder about the needs of the village. You can also see the interpreter and a security team with the squad leader. As I said the training is very realistic and it was a fascinating process to watch how it is done today and compare this procedure to how we did it back in the old days. The picture below shows American troops caring for an injured Afghani.
On other news, another semester has ended with the usual race to get every assignment in before the end. It was interesting to watch some of my fellow students try and negotiate themselves out of a corner in regard to missed assignments. The problem they have run in to with this approach is that most of the professors have heard it all before. This is my fifth university degree that I am working on; thinking back, I wonder if I was that ill prepared the first time around. I simply don't remember, it was too long ago.
I will say that this program has taken me places that I never dreamed I would be going. Just recently, as I discussed in the last installment, I spent time with a Stryker unit, going through some of their training prior to their deployment at the end of this year. Without this involvement though the class there is no way I would have spent a day out in the "boonies" with a military unit. Though equipment changes, and training gets more sophisticated, the attitudes and actions of the average soldier does not.
The next semester will see me interning for Borderzine Magazine, leaning the operation from the ground up. Not only will this be a platform for me to dig deeper into areas of interest, but it also gives me an outlet for many of my stories other than through this blog. As you can see, I am also moving more into videos, and some of them will be placed inside these blog entries in the future. This is forcing me to learn more and more about both editing as well as how the blog software works.

Thursday, May 10, 2012

Back In The Saddle Again

It was Marlon Brando in Apocalypse Now who said "I love the smell of napalm in the morning." For me it is the sound of powerful diesel engines idling, hinting just a promise of the power at your command and diesel fumes filing the air that takes me back to an earlier time when it was my company waiting to move out to the field.
I had been a career Infantry Officer until my injury. I took the uniform off long ago, but the feel and the thrill of moving a company of men and vehicles to engage an enemy is a feeling that is never forgotten. So when this assignment came along, I did not have to think long before agreeing to work as an embedded reporter in a military exercise at Fort Bliss, Texas.
I was assigned to Bravo Company, 341. The Company Commander was Captain Aaron Daniele. He commanded a company of IAV Strykers, the new mobile personnel carriers. I had commanded a company of mechanized infantry some 30 years ago when our main transport was the M113 Armored Personnel Carrier. The M113 was a fully tracked armored personnel carrier that has formed the backbone of the United States Army's mechanized infantry units from the time of its first fielding in Vietnam in April 1962. The M113 was the most widely used armored vehicle of the U.S. Army in the Vietnam War. The ride was rough, the interior was dark, cramped the seats had little, if any padding, and with the hatches closed it was hotter than Hades inside, so I was curious to see how the Stryker stacked up. Let me tell you it was no contest.
The IAV Stryker is an eight-wheeled, 4-wheel-drive (8x4), armored fighting vehicle derived from the Canadian LAV III. The ride is as smooth as any car I have ever been inside of and the air conditioning was better than my car. The seats were luxurious compared to the old M113. However, where the Stryker beat the old M113 hands down was in the armament.
With the M113, the primary armament was one .50 caliber machine gun mounted on top in front of the vehicle commander's cupola. A lot of fire power to be sure, but to use the gun required the gunner to be exposed to enemy fire. The Stryker's weapons system was like something out of Star Wars. With the exception of some specialized variants, the primary armament of the Stryker is a Protector M151 Remote Weapon Station with .50-cal M2 machine gun, 7.62 mm M240 machine gun, or Mk-19 automatic grenade launcher as needed.  The gunner sits at a computer console and aims and fires the weapon system remotely.
The extensive computer support helps soldiers fight the enemy while reducing friendly fire incidents. Through a computerized monitor, each vehicle can track friendly vehicles in the field as well as detected enemies. The driver and the vehicle commander have periscopes that allow them to see outside the vehicle without exposing themselves to outside dangers. The vehicle commander also has access to a day-night thermal imagine camera which allows the vehicle commander to see what the driver sees. The vehicle commander has almost a 360-degree field of vision; the driver, a little more than 90 degrees.
Another impressive aspect to the mission was the type of training that was being conducted. It was as realistic as humanly possible. I had trained in mocked up Vietnamese Villages 30 years ago, but the Afghan village we arrived at could have been in Afghanistan. Even some of those who were acting as villagers were Afghani, the language spoken was an Afghani dialect. The troops were forced to use interpreters just as they would in country. If you did not know you were in Texas, you could easily be convinced you were in Afghanistan.
I have to say that the operation was impressive, at least to this reporter. I kept up a running mental commentary comparing this training to what I had received and given so many years ago. The Army has come a long way. However, one important factor has not changed and will never change as long as there is an army in combat. When all is said and done, no matter how sophisticated the weapons systems, how sensitive the satellite imagery or how advanced the ride, it all comes down to that 11B Infantry soldier who has to leave the safety of his vehicle and meet the enemy Mano a Mano (sorry ladies). It is the soldier that is the backbone of our military, not weapons systems or vehicles, no matter how impressive.
Lastly, I want to recognize a true gentleman, Lieutenant Colonel Anderson, the Battalion Commander of 341. He made all of us there for this training feel welcome and made sure that we wanted for nothing. He was a commander who was sure enough of himself to be himself and not a tin soldier. To him I offer a salute, something I have not done in thirty years.

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Arizona's Law











As these words are written, Arizona law 1070 is before the United States Supreme Court. This is the Arizona law that requires all police to check with federal officials if they suspect that someone is in the country illegally. You would think, with all the talk about illegal immigrants that this would be a logical move. It would increase the number of those enforcing the immigration law by a large factor. However, it would seem that this current Administration does not want to know who is here illegally. President Obama has fought this law tooth and nail. Now it is before the court of last resort, the U.S. Supreme Court.
Supreme Court justices took a dim view of the Obama administration’s claim that it can stop the State of Arizona from enforcing immigration laws, telling government lawyers during oral argument Wednesday that the state appears to want to push federal officials to carry out the law, not conflict with them.
The court was hearing arguments on Arizona’s immigration crackdown law, which requires police to check the immigration status of those they suspect are in the country illegally, and would also write new state penalties for illegal immigrants who try to apply for jobs.
The Obama administration has sued, arguing that those provisions conflict with the federal government’s role in setting immigration policy, but justices on both sides of the aisle struggled to understand that argument.
“It seems to me the federal government just doesn’t want to know who’s here illegally,” Chief Justice John G. Roberts, Jr. said at one point in the proceeding.
The Arizona law in question requires all Arizona police to check with federal officials if they suspect someone is in the country illegally. There can be no stops simply to check status, but if there is a stop due to another violation of the law, immigration status can be checked. The government argues that this is OK when it’s on a limited basis, but said having a state mandate for all of its law enforcement is essentially a method of trying to force the federal government to change its priorities.
Many are protesting the possible passage of this law stating, in effect, that illegal immigrants have as much right to live in the United States as legal citizens. In fact one of Time Magazine's Top 100 most influential people in the world is an undocumented alien (read illegal immigrant). In spite of what amounts to a confession of her status, this administration is doing nothing to address this issue. Makes you wonder about President Obama's promise in 2008 to "support and defend the Constitution and enforce the laws of the land."

Sunday, April 22, 2012

A Step Back In Time

Apple IPad - a newsroom in a box















El Paso - In certain circumstances a casual stroll through the woods can get you captured or killed. Certain skills that are learned in these environments are not acceptable in polite society. It is a world at war.
It seems like only yesterday, but 35 years ago, I was an Infantry officer who spent more time in the jungle than in garrison. In those days a week or more in the boonies was no big deal; sleeping on the ground was not a hardship, but actually rather confortable. Now, at my advanced age, I am being asked to go to the field once again, though this time, not as a leader but as a follower, an embedded reporter with an Infantry unit.
Three decades ago, reporters with military units filed stories when they returned to garrison. It was the nightmare of every young Infantry officer, to have a reporter dogging your footsteps, revealing to the world the decisions you made, good or bad. Now reporters can actually file stories, almost in real time, from the field using the Internet. Now, rather than being under the microscope, I'll be putting someone else in the spotlight. How times have changed.
Technology has progressed so far and so fast that using an IPad you can take photos, edit them, write the story and file it from wherever you may be. It is really an age of electronic miracles, at least it can be. Of course, there are drawbacks, such as the ever lessening privacy that we all have to endure. Nothing can happen without someone pulling out a camera phone and videoing every nuance of any given situation.

Saturday, April 21, 2012

Another Piece of History Gone

The former apartment and office of John Wesley Hardin












EL PASO, Texas -- As these words are written the once white gleaming walls of the building where attorney and fast gun John Wesley Hardin had his apartment and his office are collapsed in on themselves. The second and third floors of one of the most historic buildings in El Paso is a burned out ruin. In minutes, a large chunk of El Paso history is ashes.
The well known building, located at the intersection of San Antonio Ave. and S. El Paso Street and directly across the street of the Camino Real Hotel, went up in flames shortly after 6:30 p.m. Thursday. Eventually, more than 100 firefighters were called to the scene where heavy smoke and flames could be seen shooting out of the first floor windows. From the apparent ignition point on the first floor, the fire soon spread to the second and third floors.
The fire raged for hours, eventually destroying the historic old building to the point that the structural integrity is in doubt. The top two floors were knocked down by firefighters to both help control the blaze and keep the building from collapsing.
An official cause for the fire had not yet been determined, but fire investigators are working to try and figure out how and why the fire broke out and spread so rapidly. As of Saturday, both San Antonio Avenue and South El Paso Street are both still blocked by barricades. There is still a police presence as of Saturday evening to ensure that no one goes in or near the building.
Another historic piece of El Paso is a thing of the past. It is sad that a town known as the gateway to the old west is allowed to literally crumble while City leaders argue over who among El Paso's first families gets the next tax abatement to built a new hotel or open a new business. El Paso could rival or even surpass San Antonio in regard to history but not at the rate we are losing it. Too bad, so sad!

Friday, April 20, 2012

The Future of Broadcasting

Vincent Brisebois, Steve Wozniak and Robert Legato

What do film maker James Cameron, Apple co-founder Steve Wozniak, Cinematographer Robert Legato and bloggers and broadcasters from around the world have in common? They are all looking toward the future of the world of film making, broadcasting and information dissemination in general.
Every year, broadcasters, film makers, cinematographers, actors and would be actors from around the world gather in Las Vegas, Nevada for the National Association of Broadcasters' annual convention. It is at this meeting that the cutting edge in technology is revealed to the world. For 2012, James Cameron revealed his new 5D process which will make the old 3-D glasses obsolete. Steve Wozniak, formerly of Apple and now chief scientist for Fusion-io revealed the new computer card that has more internal memory than most hard drives. One of these $2,400.00 cards in a computer will take it to the very edge of current hardware technology.
The Las Vegas Convention Center covers an area equivalent to four footballs and every square inch was filled with some of the most sophisticated equipment in the industry. There was such an overflow of displays and meetings that a portion of the conference was set up in the Las Vegas Hotel (formerly the Hilton) next door. Every item the attendee had ever heard of in the world of broadcasting could be found here. Every type of camera, for the amateur to the ultimate professional could be found at one of the hundreds of booths as well as a broad array of the newest in the way of lenses and attachments. This conference had something for everyone.
In addition to equipment, there were dozens of classes covering all aspects of the broadcast world from print to the state of the art satellite programming. Adobe conducted an entire block of classes revolving around production and post production that was considered so valuable that it was actually guarded by a team of security guards. Only those with the correct passes were allowed to enter. This was also the venue for the announcement of the release of Adobe's newest products.
For those who were suffering from information overload in regard to software and hardware, there also numerous personalities to be met, from the Titanic's James Cameron to Betty White to Emmanuel Lewis (Webster), Kevin Sorbo (Hercules) and Corbin Benson (Psych). What takes place at these meetings can truly change the electronic world. This is the time and place broadcasters from around the world get together to discuss the future of when, where and how we all get our news and entertainment.   

Thursday, April 19, 2012

Heroes Fall


Heroes falter and fall before the
 ladies of the night in Colombia                                                                                                 
By Ken Hudnall
Borderzine
EL PASO -- Prostitution is routinely accepted as part of the culture in the third world countries of the southern hemisphere and success in that field can be a source of pride.
         In the United States, however, prostitution is still shunned and often associated with scandal, which is why a successful high-priced Colombian prostitute has landed on the front pages of major American newspapers.
         In this bizarre situation, the local customs of Colombia, vis-à-vis, sex and prostitution have become intertwined with the customs and practices of the United States Secret Service.
         So now the extra- curricular sexual practices of various senior Secret Service agents are the subject of hearings in the U.S. Congress. The twists and turns of this tale make an interesting story.
         When the President of the United States travels overseas, an advance team comprised of Secret Service agents and members of the U.S. military are sent ahead of the President to make sure that it is safe for him to travel to that part of the world. That is the official function of these teams. The advance-team agents carry with them the glamour and mystique of the Secret Service that has become a part of our society based on history and depicted in movies and books. As a result of this mystique these agents are viewed as larger than life and somehow better than the rest of us, so when they stumble, so to speak, it is a major shock to the American sense of values.
         These agents are men like the rest of us, with the same weaknesses and flaws as the rest of us. However, their judgment is expected to be beyond reproach, since their judgment can affect the safety of the most powerful man in the world, the President of the United States. To become involved with a prostitute and then let the situation play out in world headlines shows not only a lack of judgment, but also a complete disregard of their status as representatives of the President of the United States.
         In final analysis, what happened was not a crime in Colombia and is something that most, if not all, of the congressmen who want to sit in judgment have been guilty of at one time or another. However, these agents brought disgrace not only on the service but also the country they serve.
         It is a sad thing for any culture when its heroes turn out to be just ordinary human beings and that is at the crux of the uproar over the trials and tribulations of a Colombian hooker.

Sunday, April 8, 2012

An Out Of This World Story

After 65 years, events at Roswell, NM, still evoke thoughts of extraterrestrials

An illustration of the incident can be found at the Roswell UFO Museum. (Courtesy of Roswell UFO Museum)
An illustration of the incident can be found at the Roswell UFO Museum. (Courtesy of Roswell UFO Museum)
EL PASO – Rapidly moving and unusually powerful storms do hit the southwest of United States from time to time and one of them struck near Roswell, NM, in the late hours of July 4, 1947.
An aerial craft of unknown design was attempting to cross a rather desolate area some 75 miles northwest of Roswell when it was hit by a powerful bolt of lightning, according to witnesses, and crashed. So began a series of events that have had repercussions to this day.
Interview with Julie Schuster, Director of the Roswell UFO Museum
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It should be noted that neither the craft nor the crash went unnoticed. Rancher Mac Brazel heard a loud noise different from the normal sounds of thunder. Two nuns at St. Mary’s Hospital in Roswell saw what they believed was an airplane crash in the distance. The tower at Roswell Army Airfield tracked the flight of the object and reported a “descending flash.” However, at the time no one knew just what had taken place.
The morning of July 5, 1947 Brazel went for the morning inspection of his range. Riding with him was his neighbor’s seven-year-old son, Dee Proctor. To his shock, they came upon a debris field 300 hundred yards wide and ¾ of a mile long. Brazel and his young helper dismounted and began to collect some of the smaller pieces of wreckage and soon filled a sack with what were described as strange pieces of metal.
The following morning Brazel went to see Sheriff George A. Wilcox in Roswell and made him aware of what had taken place. Wilcox, realizing he was out of his depth placed a call to the commander of Roswell Army Airfield, Colonel Blanchard who in turn alerted the base intelligence officer, Major Jesse Marcel. Marcel took a military sedan and followed Brazel out to his ranch. In 1947 over the primitive roads that crisscrossed the area, this was an all day trip so Marcel spent the night at Brazel’s ranch and on July 7, began the initial investigation of the crash site.
Marcel and Brazel spent the morning investigating the debris field and Marcel loaded his car with the strange material found at the site before leaving for town. Before returning to base, Marcel stopped by his home and his 11-year-old son Jesse Marcel, Jr. had the opportunity to handle the odd metal. Later Marcel showed his boss Colonel William Blanchard what he had found.
The military moved fast because the same day, July 7th Glenn Dennis, a local mortician got a call from Roswell Army Airfield asking about the number of child size caskets he had in stock and how soon he could get more. He was also asked how to preserve bodies that had been exposed to the weather. He answered questions as best as he could.
Later than day Dennis took an airman who had been riding a motorcycle and struck a cattle trick to the base hospital and at the emergency entrance saw an ambulance containing some strange items. Curious, Dennis went into the base hospital to see a nurse friend. She reacted strangely and told him to get out of there immediately. On the way out of the hospital he was stopped by military police and told he would die if he told anyone what he had seen.
The next day, July 8, 1947, Blanchard instructed 1st Lieutenant Walter Haut to issue a press release about recovering a flying saucer. At 2 p.m. the press release was issued and the world went nuts. The press release was later labeled a hoax by higher headquarters. That same day Colonel Blanchard sent Marcel and some of the debris to report to General Roger Ramey in Ft. Worth. Ramey had the debris spread out on the floor, sent Marcel out of the room and when he returned the debris he had brought had been replaced with pieces of a weather balloon.
Ramey ordered Marcel not to say a word, called in reporters and told them the weather balloon had been misidentified as a flying saucer.
At the same time, Brazel was held in custody by the military at Roswell and was “convinced” to modify his story to support the crashed weather balloon story. Brazel was not released until the afternoon of July 12th having been held in solitary for three days. Dennis met his nurse friend who drew him pictures of what he had seen on the examining table – a big-eyed alien. She had written down everything she could about what she had seen and heard. Shortly after this meeting, the next day, she was transferred to England and was then reported as having died. Ramey issued a press release to the Associated Press saying that the saucer story was just a weather balloon.
So ended the story of the alien crash at Roswell.
However, in the early 1990’s Stanton Friedman, a well-known UFO researcher and a nuclear physicist became aware of the story and began to investigate. The result was to become one of the best-known UFO events in the world.
Haut and Dennis opened the UFO museum and study center in Roswell. Every July 4 there is a UFO celebration in Roswell and the town is overwhelmed with visitors. This past year the UFO museum reported that more 150,000 persons visited the center, which have been so highly rated that NASA is in the process of lending it numerous artifacts that are integral parts of the history of man’s travels into space.
Did a flying saucer crash just outside of Roswell, New Mexico on July 4, 1947? Has our government conducted a cover up of the real facts for the last 65 years? The jury is still out, but if you have any interest in the question you should go to Roswell and visit the UFO Museum and Study Center.