Bee News Daily Afternoon Spotlight: Five Leading Articles About the Use of Arbitrary Detention, Medal of Honor, Wisconsin COVID-19 Update, Blinkens Calls To Turkey and Greek Foreign Ministers

Secretary of State Antony J. Blinken Video Remarks on the Declaration Against the Use of Arbitrary Detention in State-to-State Relations

I’m honored to participate in the launch of this initiative, and I’m grateful to Canada for their leadership.

Arbitrary detention in state-to-state relations is a serious problem. Put simply, this is when someone traveling or living abroad – for example, a businessperson, a tourist, or someone visiting family – is detained by the government and falsely charged or sentenced because of the country on their passport. Then they’re used to gain leverage in state-to-state relations. They become a bargaining chip – a human pawn.

It’s completely unacceptable. And it’s already prohibited under international human rights conventions. But some countries still do it, and we as a global community have to stand against it.

This kind of arbitrary detention goes against the human rights of the people being held. It brings anguish to their families. And it’s a threat to anyone who travels, works, or lives abroad.

It’s time to send a clear message to every government that arbitrarily detains foreign nationals and tries to use them as leverage: this will not be tolerated by the international community.

The fact that so many countries are endorsing this declaration is a sign of its strength. Now let’s keep the momentum going. I urge more countries to join us in making it clear that arbitrary detention has absolutely no place in state-to-state relations. Human beings are not bargaining chips. This is a matter of human rights and the rule of law. We‘ll stand up for both – together.

Source: US Department of State

Launch of the Canadian-Drafted “Declaration Against the Use of Arbitrary Detention in State-to-State Relations”

I am honored to participate in the launch of this important initiative and to stand today with the international community against the use of arbitrary detention in state-to-state relations. I congratulate Canada on having led the way, especially for obtaining the endorsement of so many countries.

Arbitrary detentions are prohibited under international human rights conventions. When they are used, as too many nations do, to try to obtain leverage in state-to-state relations, they are a heinous act against the human rights of the individuals in question, and are an affront to international diplomatic norms. The broad coalition of governments endorsing this declaration sends a clear message that history remains on the side of human rights and the rule of law – not the cynical use of law as a political tool. Human beings are not bargaining chips. The United States wholeheartedly endorses this declaration and calls on all like-minded countries to work together to pressure the nations that engage in such detentions to put an end to this practice, to release those detained under such conditions, and to respect the rule of law and human rights.

Source: US Department of State

Secretary Blinken’s Call with Turkish Foreign Minister Çavuşoğlu

Secretary of State Antony J. Blinken spoke by phone with Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlüt Çavuşoğlu today.  Secretary Blinken emphasized the longstanding importance of the U.S.-Turkish bilateral relationship, our shared interest in countering terrorism, and the importance of democratic institutions, inclusive governance, and respect for human rights.  Both sides pledged to strengthen cooperation and support for a political resolution to the conflict in Syria.  The Secretary expressed condolences for the deaths of Turkish hostages in northern Iraq and affirmed our view that PKK terrorists bear responsibility.  Secretary Blinken urged Turkey not to retain the Russian S-400 surface-to-air missile system.  The Secretary also voiced support for ongoing exploratory talks between NATO Allies Turkey and Greece.

Source: US Department of State

Secretary Blinken’s Call with Greek Foreign Minister Dendias

Secretary of State Antony J. Blinken spoke with Greek Foreign Minister Nikolaos Dendias today.  Secretary Blinken and Foreign Minister Dendias emphasized their commitment to further strengthening U.S.-Greece bilateral relations, including through the U.S.-Greece Strategic Dialogue and the 3+1 process with Cyprus and Israel, and close cooperation on defense, energy diversification, and stability in the broader Eastern Mediterranean region.  Secretary Blinken welcomed Greece’s sustained leadership in advancing the Transatlantic and European integration of the Western Balkans.  The Secretary and the Foreign Minister reaffirmed the historic importance of North Macedonia’s NATO accession.  The Secretary voiced support for ongoing exploratory talks between NATO Allies Greece and Turkey and congratulated Greece on the occasion of the Greece Bicentennial celebrations this year.

Source: US Department of State

Research Program Leads DOD Participation in STORM CHASER Study

A nurse prepares to vaccinate a woman.

While COVID-19 vaccinations are being distributed across the world, the threat of contracting the virus remains, and the population still waiting on vaccinations continues to be at risk of infection. However, help may be on the horizon by way of STORM CHASER. Read more…..

15 FEBRUARY UPDATE: Wisconsin National Guard continues COVID-19 testing throughout the state

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MADISON, Wis. – Wisconsin National Guard specimen collection teams continue supporting local COVID-19 testing efforts this week as they operate a number of regional community-based testing sites. All Guard testing sites will be closed Monday in observance of President’s Day.

Teams have collected a cumulative total of over one million specimens since April 2020 at community-based testing sites and institutional-based testing missions. The Wisconsin National Guard’s collection activities support the Wisconsin Department of Health Service’s efforts to expand COVID-19 testing throughout the entire state.

The teams, which are tailorable to meet the needs of a specific facility or community, are dispatched from a larger task force of several hundred Citizen Soldiers and Airmen. They have established mobile testing sites since early April at locations ranging from correctional facilities, health clinics and institutional facilities, to private businesses, senior-living facilities, and community-based testing sites.

Most community-based testing sites across the state are conducted on a regularly scheduled basis at the request of local health departments. Testing is conducted at a variety of facilities and extreme cold temperatures may impact some testing sites to the point where a local health department may close its site. All visitors seeking a test are urged to contact their local health department for more information about a particular testing day.

Those seeking a test at a Wisconsin National Guard community-based specimen collection site are urged to register online in advance using the Dynamics Testing and Registration Application (DTRA) program, which is also known as COVID Connect.

After collecting the specimens at each site, the test kits are sent to a lab for analysis, and individual citizens receive their results via an email or a phone call within three-to-seven days following the test.

Wisconsin National Guard specimen collection sites operating the week of Feb. 15-21 along with cumulative testing site totals since late December are listed below. Additional information on these testing sites and others is available at the Wisconsin Department of Health Services website.

  • Adams County: A team conducts a community-based testing site each Monday through Mar. 8 at the Adams County Highway Department in Adams and has collected nearly 300 specimens as of Feb. 15.
  • Barron County: A team conducts a community-based testing site each Tuesday through Mar. 9 at the Barron Fire Department building and has gathered over 450 specimens as of Jan 25.
  • Bayfield County: A community-based testing site operates at the Iron River Community Center Feb. 5, Feb. 19 and Mar. 5 and has gathered nearly 330 specimens as of Feb. 15. The Red Cliff Nation hosts a community-based testing site Feb. 13 and Mar. 6 and has collected over 75 specimens as of Feb. 15.
  • Brown County: A team collects specimens on a regularly scheduled basis at the Brown County Youth Detention Center and at a Wisconsin Department of Veterans Affairs facility in Green Bay.
  • Burnett County: The St. Croix Tribe of Ojibwe hosts a community-based testing site Feb. 19 and Mar. 5 and had collected nearly 300 specimens as of Feb. 15.
  • Chippewa County: Cornell hosts a community-based testing site Feb. 17 and has collected over 50 specimens as of Feb. 15. A second site operates Mar. 3 at the Lafayette Town Hall in Chippewa Falls. A team also collects specimens regularly at a Wisconsin Department of Veterans Affairs facility in Chippewa Falls.
  • Columbia County: A community-based testing site operates in Cambria Feb. 12 and Feb. 26 and had collected nearly 200 specimens as of Feb. 15. A second site operates Mar. 2 in Columbus and has collected nearly 100 specimens as of Feb. 15.
  • Crawford County: Prairie du Chien hosts a community-based specimen collection site Feb. 9 and Mar. 9 and has gathered over 30 specimens as of Feb. 15. Gays Mills hosts a community-based testing site Feb. 23 and has gathered over 20 specimens as of Feb. 15.
  • Dane County: A team collected nearly 275 specimens Feb. 9 at the Oak Hill Correctional Institution.
  • Dodge County: A community-based testing site operates each Monday and Wednesday in Beaver Dam through Mar. 10 and has collected nearly 3,500 specimens as of Feb. 15. A team will gather specimens Feb. 16-17 at the Dodge Correctional Institution.
  • Door County: A community-based testing site in Sister Bay collected nearly 120 specimens and a second site in Sturgeon Bay gathered nearly 170 specimens between Jan. 4 and Feb. 11.
  • Douglas County: Superior hosted a community-based testing site Dec. 18 through Feb. 12 and collected over 100 specimens.
  • Dunn County: A community-based testing site operates Feb. 23 and Mar. 9 in Menominee and has gathered nearly 70 specimens as of Feb. 15.
  • Eau Claire County: A regional community-based testing in Eau Claire operates each Monday, Friday and Saturday through Mar. 8 and has collected nearly 1,200 specimens as of Feb. 15. A second site in Augusta operates each Wednesday through Mar. 10 and has collected nearly 200 specimens as of Feb. 15.
  • Florence County: Florence hosts a community-based testing site Mar. 5 and has gathered nearly 50 specimens as of Feb. 15.
  • Fond du Lac County: A team operates a community-based testing site each Thursday through Mar. 4 at the Fond du Lac County Fairgrounds and had gathered 1,350 specimens as of Feb. 15.
  • Grant County: Lancaster hosts a community-based testing site each Tuesday through Mar. 9 and has gathered 625 specimens as of Feb. 15. A second site operates in Platteville each Friday through Mar. 5 and has gathered over 350 specimens as of Feb. 15.
  • Iron County: Hurley hosts a community-based testing site Feb. 9 and Mar. 9 and has collected over 70 specimens as of Feb. 15.
  • Jackson County: One team operates a community-based testing site each Wednesday through Mar. 10 in Black River Falls and has gathered over 400 specimens as of Feb. 15.
  • Jefferson County: One team conducts a community-based testing site each Friday and Saturday through Mar. 6 at the Jefferson County Fairgrounds in Jefferson and has collected over 1,700 specimens as of Feb. 15.
  • Juneau County: Mauston hosts a community-based testing site each Thursday through Mar. 4 and has gathered nearly 425 specimens as of Feb. 15.
  • La Crosse County: La Crosse hosts a community-based testing site each Monday through Mar. 8 and has gathered 1,650 specimens as of Feb. 15. West Salem operates a second community-based site each Saturday through Mar. 6 and had collected nearly 550 specimens as of Feb. 15. A third site operates at the Wisconsin Department of Transportation in La Crosse each Friday through Mar. 5 and has gathered nearly 600 specimens as of Feb. 15. Holmen hosts a fourth site each Wednesday through Mar. 10 and has gathered nearly 1,150 specimens as of Feb. 15.
  • Langlade County: Antigo hosts a community-based testing site Feb. 12 and Feb. 26 and had gathered nearly 90 specimens as of Feb. 15.
  • Lincoln County: A community-based testing site operates each Wednesday through Mar. 10 at the Merrill Festival Grounds in Merrill and had gathered nearly 300 specimens as of Feb. 15.
  • Manitowoc County: A team conducts a community-based testing site Feb. 9, Feb. 23 and Mar. 9 at the Manitowoc County Expo Center and has collected over 450 specimens as of Feb. 15.
  • Menominee County: A team operates a community-based testing site Feb. 2, Feb. 16 and Mar. 2 in Keshena and has collected over 480 specimens as of Feb. 15.
  • Milwaukee County: A Wisconsin National Guard specimen collection team operates a community-based testing site in South Milwaukee at 1525 Tenth Ave. The site is open each Tuesday, Friday and Saturday through Mar. 10 and has gathered over 6,800 specimens as of Feb. 15.
  • Monroe County: The Monroe County Highway Department in Tomah hosts a community-based specimen collection site Feb. 18 and Mar. 4 and had collected over 150 specimens as of Feb. 15.
  • Oconto County: Mountain hosts a community-based testing site Feb. 16 and Mar. 2 and has gathered over 300 specimens as of Feb. 15.
  • Oneida County: A community-based testing site operates each Tuesday and Thursday through Mar. 9 in Rhinelander and has gathered over 1,200 specimens as of Feb. 15.
  • Outagamie County: A team conducts a community-based specimen collection site each Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday through Mar. 10 in Appleton and has collected over 1,700 specimens as of Feb. 15.
  • Pierce County: A team operates a community-based specimen collection site in Ellsworth Feb. 22, Mar. 1 and Mar. 8 and has gathered over 600 specimens as of Feb. 15.
  • Polk County: Balsam Lake hosted a community-based specimen collection site Dec. 16 to Feb. 10 and gathered over 370 specimens.
  • Portage County: Stevens Point hosts a community-based testing site each Monday through Mar. 8 and has collected nearly 200 specimens as of Feb. 15.
  • Racine County: A community-based testing site operates at the Racine County Fairgrounds in Union Grove each Wednesday through Mar. 10 and has gathered more than 700 specimens as of Feb. 15. A second site operates at Festival Hall in Racine each Thursday through Mar. 4 and has collected over 900 specimens as of Feb. 15. A team collects specimens on a regularly scheduled basis at a Wisconsin Department of Veterans Affairs facility in Union Grove. A team will collect specimens Feb. 15 at a community-care facility in Racine.
  • Rock County: A team conducts a community-based specimen collection site each Wednesday and Thursday through Mar. 10 at Blackhawk Technical College and has gathered over 1,800 specimens as of Feb. 15.
  • Richland County: A team operates a community-based testing site each Thursday through Mar. 10 at the Richland County Fairgrounds and had collected over 200 specimens as of Feb. 15.
  • Sawyer County: A team conducts a community-based testing site each Wednesday through Mar. 10 at the fire hall in Winter and has collected over 300 specimens as of Feb. 15.
  • Shawano County: A team operates a community-based site for the Stockbridge-Munsee Nation in Bowler Feb. 9-10, Feb. 23-24 and Mar. 9-10 and has collected nearly 1,400 specimens as of Feb. 15.
  • Sheboygan County: A team conducts a community-based testing site each Wednesday and Friday through Mar. 10 in Sheboygan and has gathered nearly 1,300 specimens as of Feb. 15.
  • Taylor County: A team conducts a community-based testing site Feb. 19 and Mar. 5 in Medford and had collected over 200 specimens as of Feb. 15.
  • Trempealeau County: Independence hosts a community-based testing site Feb. 12 and Feb. 26 and has collected over 110 specimens as of Feb. 15.
  • Vernon County: A team operates a community-based testing site Feb. 23 and Mar. 9 in Viroqua and has gathered nearly 500 specimens as of Feb. 15.
  • Walworth County: A team conducts a community-based testing site each Tuesday between Dec. 15 and Mar. 9 at the Walworth County Fairgrounds and had collected over 1,400 specimens as of Feb. 15.
  • Waukesha County: One team operates a community-based testing every Monday, Wednesday and Friday at the Waukesha County Expo Center between Dec. 14 and Mar. 10 and has gathered nearly 4,100 specimens as of Feb. 15.
  • Waupaca County: A team operates a community-based testing site each Wednesday through Mar. 10 at the Waupaca County Fairgrounds and has collected over 630 specimens as of Feb. 15.
  • Winnebago County: One team operates a community-based testing site Tuesday through Friday through Mar. 10 at the Sunnyview Expo Center in Oshkosh and had gathered over 5,200 specimens as of Feb. 15.
  • Wood County: A team operates a community-based testing site each Wednesday through Mar. 10 in Wisconsin Rapids and has collected over 230 specimens as of Feb. 15.

As of Feb. 15, Wisconsin National Guard teams have collected 1,033,625 specimens statewide.

Approximately 20 troops since late December are assisting the Wisconsin Department of Health Services with managing COVID-19 vaccine inventory at undisclosed sites across the state. The Wisconsin National Guard since Jan. 19 also supports the state’s vaccination efforts by providing mobile vaccination teams to local health departments who request assistance. These teams have assisted in administering 13,806 vaccines as of Feb. 15.

The Wisconsin National Guard experienced an unprecedented year in 2020 of assisting Wisconsin residents and supporting local officials respond to COVID-19, election worker support and civil disturbance support operations.


Nearly 600 Citizen Soldiers and Airmen from the Wisconsin National Guard are currently serving in direct support of the state’s on-going response to COVID-19 in a variety of statuses.

Source: DOD

Photo: Citizen Soldiers and Citizen Airmen from the Wisconsin National Guard collect specimens for COVID-19 testing Feb. 11 at a community-based testing site at Blackhawk Technical College in Janesville, Wis. The Wisconsin National Guard has multiple COVID-19 specimen collection teams operating throughout the state. Wisconsin National Guard photo by Staff Sgt. Katie Theusch.

Medal of Honor Monday: Army Staff Sgt. Robert J. Miller

Army Staff Sgt. Robert J. Miller, a Green Beret, was only 24 when he saved the lives of nearly two-dozen coalition force members pinned down during an intense 2008 firefight in Afghanistan. He sacrificed his own life for theirs, and that bravery and valor earned him the Medal of Honor. 

Miller was born in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania, on Oct. 14, 1983. He was one of eight kids — four boys, four girls — and came from a line of military men; both his grandfathers had fought in World War II, and his father has been a translator for the Army in Berlin during the Cold War. 

 

 
A man sits with his elbows propped on his knees.

 

When Miller was 5, his family moved to the Chicago suburb of Wheaton, Illinois, where he thrived. Miller was a Boy Scout and grew up playing several sports. Although he was an avid gymnast by the time he was in high school, he also played the trumpet and tuba. 

As a teen, Miller wanted to go to the U.S. Naval Academy, but those dreams were dashed due to his colorblindness. Instead, he spent a year at the University of Iowa before joining the Army in August 2003 from Oviedo, Florida, where his family had just moved. 

Miller enlisted as a Special Forces trainee and earned his Special Forces Tab on Sept. 30, 2005. He was immediately assigned to Company A, 3rd Battalion of the 3rd Special Forces Group (Airborne) at Fort Bragg, North Carolina.

 

 
A man in uniform and cap looks at the camera.

 

During his first deployment to Afghanistan in 2006-2007, Miller’s actions earned him two Army Commendation Medals for Valor. He returned to the country in October 2007 as part of Combined Joint Special Operations Task Force-Afghanistan. He was a weapons sergeant with Special Forces Operational Detachment Alpha 3312, Task Force 33. According to his colleagues, he spoke French, German, some Russian and Pashto, which made him a good point man during missions; he could talk with the locals with whom they worked. 

On Jan. 25, 2008, Miller’s detachment was sent to the Gowardesh Valley, a remote area in northwest Afghanistan near the Pakistani border. Their mission: to clear out insurgents who had been attacking Afghan forces and terrorizing villagers. 

Surveillance intel had shown a group of armed men holed up at a compound in the valley. Miller’s detachment and about 15 Afghan National Army soldiers were tasked with determining if they were insurgents and, if confirmed, calling in close-air support to bomb the compound. 

 

 
A man poses in between two soldiers holding guns.

 

In the frigid pre-dawn morning, Miller volunteered to serve as point man on the patrol, which had to go through “ambush alley,” an area with 300-foot near-vertical cliffs surrounding it. The route wasn’t easy to traverse – snow packed the way, and they had to blow up two insurgent-placed boulders in their path. So, they were prepared for resistance. 

Once they got to the compound, they secured a perimeter and sent in a drone to confirm that there were, indeed, 15-20 insurgents inside who had already taken up fighting positions. Miller kicked off the battle using his vehicle’s turret-mounted Mk-19 grenade launcher. He then called in the enemy’s positions, and the Air Force dropped bombs on them. 

When the air cleared, about two-dozen coalition members moved in on foot to assess the damage. Miller was again their point man. 

As they crossed a bridge and neared the steep, narrow valley through which the enemy had come, about 150 insurgents pounced, launching rocket-propelled grenades and automatic weapons fire from elevated positions and hiding spots on the ground. Miller’s patrol had nowhere to hide. 

 

 
A man in combat gear points a large weapon into the air. Mountains line the background.

 

Since Miller was out front, he yelled to his comrades to pull back while he charged the enemy — some of whom were within 20 feet — to draw their fire, giving the others a chance to find cover. Once they were out of immediate danger, Miller tried to find cover himself but was shot in the upper torso under his body armor. 

At about the same time, the detachment’s commander, Capt. Robert Cusick, was also wounded. He ordered the rest of the team to fall back. Miller, however, knew he had the most firepower out of all of his comrades, so he stayed in that forward position, crawling through the snow to draw the fire in his direction.

“Rob seemed to disappear into clouds of dust and debris, but his team could hear him on the radio, still calling out the enemy’s position,” President Barack Obama recounted at Miller’s Medal of Honor ceremony. “They could hear his weapon still firing as he provided cover for his men.”

Miller continued to move from position to position until he was shot and killed. 

His team heard his gun fall silent over the radio, Obama’s remarks stated. So, two of his teammates rushed forward to find him and be by his side for his last moments. They were soon forced back by more enemy fire, but after several more hours, the detachment was finally able to bring the 24-year-old’s body out of the valley. 

 

 
A man looks to the side as the wind sweeps his hair.

 

Five coalition force members were injured that day, but thanks to Miller’s extraordinary efforts, 15 Afghan soldiers and seven members of his own team made it out alive. 

According to post-battle intelligence reports, of the more than 40 insurgents killed and roughly 60 who were wounded that day, Miller was credited with killing 16 and injuring more than 30. 

Miller’s body was returned to the U.S. and buried with full military honors in All Faiths Memorial Park in Casselberry, Florida. At his funeral, one of his friends referred to him as “a loyal friend, a caring brother and son and a great patriot.” 

 

 
A man holds a medal in a box. On the left, a woman looks down. On the right, a man applauds.

 

On Oct. 6, 2010, Obama presented the Medal of Honor to Miller’s parents, Philip and Maureen, during a White House ceremony. More than 100 of the soldier’s friends, family and fellow soldiers attended. 

“He loved what he was doing, and he was very good at it,” Miller’s father said at the time. “He was extremely enthusiastic about it, and it was very clear he really embraced the work, the mission and the people he worked with, American and Afghan.”

“When we learned about the details of what Robby had done to receive the Medal of Honor nomination, we weren’t surprised, and we also weren’t surprised at his reaction (in the field), because that was the sort of person he was — that’s what his training taught him to do and be,” Maureen Miller said. “I think the fact that he died doing something that he loved and thought was worthwhile was an important factor in helping us deal.”

 

 
A woman in the foreground applauds as soldiers stand at attention in the background. Others in the audience also applaud.

 

The Afghans who Miller saved wanted to honor him, too. ANA soldiers presented his parents with an Afghan rug. The couple has it hanging in their home as a symbol of their son’s sacrifice and the important partnership between the two countries.

In 2011, the commons area of Miller’s high school was named Robert J. Miller Commons. In 2014, the 3rd Special Forces Group’s headquarters building on Fort Bragg was also dedicated in his honor. 

Miller is one of 18 men to have earned the nation’s top award for valor during actions in Afghanistan. 

Source:DOD

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