South Korea Sends 10K Masks to Navajo Nation to Honor Their Service as ‘Code Talkers’ During Korean War

Navajo code talker Thomas Begay-2017-JASON JIMENEZ/U.S. MARINE CORPS

When the South Korean government realized that the Navajo Nation had been suffered infection rates of COVID-19 rivaling that of New York City, it shipped them 10,000 masks and other PPE to honor their service seven decades years ago to the East-Asian nation.

During the Korean War around 800 members of the Navajo Nation used their native language as an unbreakable code for radio messages, ensuring complete secrecy around any military movements by the United States, an ally to South Korea.

While this little-known story in the famous ‘police action’ that was the Korean War often goes untold, the South Koreans have never forgotten the Native American contributions.

According to the Ministry of Patriots and Veterans Affairs in South Korea, around 130 of these “Code Talkers” are still alive today.

“We hope our small gifts will console the veterans in the midst of the COVID-19 crisis,” said committee co-chairman Kim Eun-gi.

“The government remembers those who made a noble sacrifice to defend a strange country 70 years ago, and we hope they will proudly tell their posterity about the choice they made so many years ago.”

South Korea, which has so far handled the COVID-19 pandemic quite well by essentially testing anyone and everyone, has sent masks all over the world—including one half million to the Department of Veterans Affairs in honor of American soldiers who fought and died on the Korean peninsula, and those who serve their country today.

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Landmark Ruling Finally Grants Women Equal Rights in the Indian Military

Despite years of ongoing legislative grief and gender bias, the Supreme Court of India has upheld a 2010 verdict that women be offered the same militaristic opportunities in commissioning as men.

The landmark ruling—which the government will be required to uphold within the next three months—means that women in the armed forces can now assume the post of colonel, brigadier, major general, lieutenant general, and chief of army staff. Furthermore, they will be eligible for the same benefits and pensions as their male colleagues regardless of their years of service.

Although the Delhi High Court had already approved equal treatment for female officers 9 years ago, the government attempted to overturn the ruling by arguing that women were not eligible for promotion or intelligence positions because of their “physiological limitations”.

“Women officers must deal with pregnancy, motherhood, and domestic obligations towards their children and families and may not be well suited to the life of a soldier in the armed forces,” stated the central government, according to CNN.

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Thanks to last month’s ruling from the Supreme Court, however, female officers will no longer be subjected to such archaic discrimination.

“[The] time has come that women officers are not adjunct to their male counterparts. Physiological features of women have no link to their rights. The mindset must change,” Justice D.Y. Chandrachud and Justice Ajay Rastogi said in their ruling. “To cast aspersion on gender is an affront to their dignity and to the country.”

“All the lady officers in the Indian Army are very happy and very elated by the landmark judgment,” Lt. Col. Sandhya Yadav said after the verdict on Monday, as reported by The Associated Press. “It was a long wait and has ended. We are happy about it.”

Photo by Suyash Dwivedi, CC

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Australian Soldiers Are Using Their Time Off to Care for Koalas Displaced by the Fires

As rainfall continues to extinguish the bushfires still burning across Australia, this brigade of soldiers has been doing their part to help recovering wildlife by using their rest periods to help injured koalas.

The 9th Brigade of the Australian Army recently posted a photo of their soldiers from the 16 Regiment Emergency Support Force bottle-feeding koalas at the Cleland Wildlife Park in the Adelaide Hills.

According to the Brigade’s Facebook post, the soldiers have been using their time off from bushfire relief work to care for the koalas and build climbing structures for all the recovering marsupials.

Since the photos were posted to social media a few weeks ago, they have been shared more than 45,000 times.

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Not only have the soldiers been offering a helping hand to the wildlife center, they have also been helping to clear away burnt debris, hosting community benefits, offering emotional support to affected Australians, and tidying up residential properties.

Thankfully, the torrential rainfall across New South Wales and the Australian Capital Territory has extinguished more than 30 of the region’s the active bushfires—and officials say the downpour could put out the rest of the fires by the end of the week.

Although the downpour has resulted in some flooding across the provinces, the NSW Rural Fire Service says they are “over the moon” to see the rainfall aiding them in their fight against the bushfires.

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5 Years After Turning Disused Military Bases into Nature Reserves, Wolves Return and Use Bases as Havens

In a remarkable legislative move that increased the amount of protected areas for wildlife in Germany by 25%, the German government moved in 2015 to convert 62 disused Cold War-era military bases into wildlife refuges.

This added up to about 76,600 acres of additional protected land in the country, according to The Independent.

Environment Minister Barbara Hendricks said at the time: “We are seizing a historic opportunity with this conversion — many areas that were once no-go zones are no longer needed for military purposes.”

“We are fortunate that we can now give these places back to nature,” Hendricks said.

During the 50-year-long dreary standoff at the Iron Curtain between East and West Germany, minimal human activity along the old Soviet/NATO border allowed the wildlife that had been chased out of other parts of Europe to recover in relative peace. After the fall of the Soviet Union in 1991, scientists and voices for nature of all kinds realized that the lack of human activity had created natural sanctuaries for endangered European wildlife all along the international and ideological border.

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The 62 decommissioned German military bases were located on the West German side of the Iron Curtain, where they became a habitat for the middle-spotted woodpecker and lesser spotted eagle, as well as a top tier species that, like the last remains of the Old World shattered by World War II, was gone from Europe by the time the Iron Curtain descended across the continent—wolves.

Wolves at the Gate

Sport hunting competitions and the desire to protect livestock herds led to the regional  extermination of the wolf. Writing for Science Magazine, Erik Stokstad reported that the wolf has returned to parts of Germany, in large part due to the reformed military bases which proved to be perfect havens.

“In the late 1990s, wolves began to dart into Germany from the forests of Poland,” he wrote. “The first litter of pups in Germany was reported in 2001 in Saxony-Brandenburg. They’ve since spread westward into six more of Germany’s 16 federal states, and monitoring data show their numbers are rising.”

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Due to poaching, it was found that almost all wolf packs across Germany favored military bases over wildlife refuges, even though the refuges possessed fewer roads, and larger, denser sections of forest.

Guillaume Chapron, a wildlife ecologist at Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences in Uppsala, suggested that since deer populations on military bases aren’t managed by hunting, it means fewer poachers or hunters are coming in contact with wolves there.

Coupled with the lack of soldiers and wars, Chapron suggests that, like the 62 decommissioned sites in 2015, all military bases slated to be closed should be turned into nature reserves for this reason.

LOOK: This Woman and Her Pet Otters Have Spent the Last 40 Years Protecting the Species From Extinction in England

Bases and military installations in other countries along the Iron Curtain were closed down and turned into wildlife refuges, thanks, in part, to the European Green Belt initiative led by former Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev and his grassroots nonprofit International Union for the Conservation of Nature.

Today the backbone of green runs from the very northern tip of Finland down into Greece and eastward across the Carpathians before halting at the border with Turkey.

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