General

Richard Davenport-Hines discusses the life of Victorian General Charles Gordon as part of a “British Studies Seminar” series at the Harry Ransom Center on Friday evening.
Photo Credit: Stephanie Tacy | Daily Texan Staff

Author Richard Davenport-Hines discussed the life and character of Victorian General Charles Gordon at the Harry Ransom Center on Friday, as part of its weekly “British Studies Seminar” series.

Davenport-Hines described Gordon’s rise from an artillery officer to a general and his eventual death during the evacuation of British troops at Khartoum.

“I’m going to look this afternoon at one of the oddest fish in the Victorian aquarium,” Davenport-Hines said. “A somber, menacing, grotesque creature who was idolized in his lifetime by English public opinion.”

According to Hines, Gordon grew fond of war after his involvement in 1856 in the Crimean War.            

“Gordon disliked military life but liked war,” Davenport-Hines said. “War was, for him, the only acceptable form of pleasure in life.”

Davenport-Hines said that, in 1862, Gordon led a group of Chinese officers fighting in the Taiping Rebellion, earning him the name of “Chinese Gordon.” Davenport-Hines also talked about Gordon’s intense Christian faith.

“All his actions were ruled by God’s presence,” Davenport-Hines said. “He saw himself living each day in the hands of God.”

According to Hines, Gordon’s death occurred during his evacuation of British troops in Sudan.

Martyn Hitchcock, an Austin resident who attended the lecture, said Hines’ lecture gave him a more detailed understanding of Gordon’s significance. 

“This talk was effectively a biography and character description, which enabled me to fill in my knowledge of him,” Hitchcock said. “[I learned more about] the strange person he was.”

Davenport-Hines said Gordon had a drinking problem toward the end of his life, despite his strong Christian faith.

Davenport-Hines also said Gordon had a disdain for women and preferred the company of men and prepubescent boys.

“He found all women either fearsome or repulsive,” Davenport-Hines said.

James Stratton, international relations and global studies senior, said he had limited knowledge of Gordon before coming to the event.  

“I had heard about the Mahdi rebellion in Sudan,” Stratton said.

Stratton said he was interested in learning more about Gordon’s sexuality.

“Also, [I was interested by] his sort of disdain for the female sex,” Stratton said. “[I’m interested in] how people back then interpreted sexuality and how they dealt with it. He totally repressed it and covered it up with religion, and so how people in the past dealt with sexuality and their feelings was very interesting to me because of my own background.”

In this June 29, 2012 file photo, Gen. David Petraeus testifies before the Senate Armed Services Committee on Capitol Hill in Washington.

Photo Credit: The Associated Press

WASHINGTON — Members of Congress said Sunday they want to know more details about the FBI investigation that revealed an extramarital affair between ex-CIA director David Petraeus and his biographer, questioning when the retired general popped up in the FBI inquiry, whether national security was compromised and why they weren’t told sooner.

“We received no advanced notice. It was like a lightning bolt,” said Democratic Sen. Dianne Feinstein of California, who heads the Senate Intelligence Committee.
The FBI was investigating harassing emails sent by Petraeus biographer and girlfriend Paula Broadwell to a second woman. That probe of Broadwell’s emails revealed the affair between Broadwell and Petraeus. The FBI contacted Petraeus and other intelligence officials, and director of National Intelligence James Clapper asked Petraeus to resign.

A senior U.S. military official identified the second woman as Jill Kelley, 37, who lives in Tampa, Fla., and serves as a social liaison to the military’s Joint Special Operations Command. A U.S. official said the coalition countries represented at the military’s Central Command in Tampa gave Kelley an appreciation certificate on which she was referred to as an “honorary ambassador” to the coalition, but she has no official status.

The official, speaking on condition of anonymity, said Kelley is known to drop the “honorary” part and refer to herself as an ambassador.

The military official, who spoke on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to publicly discuss the investigation, said Kelley had received harassing emails from Broadwell, which led the FBI to examine her email account and eventually discover her relationship with Petraeus.

A former associate of Petraeus confirmed the target of the emails was Kelley, but said there was no affair between the two, speaking on condition of anonymity to discuss the retired general’s private life. The associate, who has been in touch with Petraeus since his resignation, says Kelley and her husband were longtime friends of Petraeus and wife, Holly.

Petraeus resigned while lawmakers still had questions about the Sept. 11 attack on the U.S. Consulate and CIA base in Benghazi, Libya, that killed four Americans, including U.S. Ambassador Chris Stevens. Lawmakers said it’s possible that Petraeus will still be asked to appear on Capitol Hill to testify about what he knew about the U.S. response to that incident.

Rep. Peter King, chairman of the House Homeland Security Committee, said the circumstances of the FBI probe smacked of a cover-up by the White House.

“It seems this (the investigation) has been going on for several months and, yet, now it appears that they’re saying that the FBI didn’t realize until Election Day that General Petraeus was involved. It just doesn’t add up,” said King, R-N.Y.

Petraeus, 60, quit Friday after acknowledging an extramarital relationship. He has been married 38 years to Holly Petraeus, with whom he has two adult children, including a son who led an infantry platoon in Afghanistan as an Army lieutenant.

Broadwell, a 40-year-old graduate of the U.S. Military Academy and an Army Reserve officer, is married with two young sons.

Attempts to reach Kelleyand Broadwell were not immediately successful.

Petraeus’ affair with Broadwell will be the subject of meetings Wednesday involving congressional intelligence committee leaders, FBI deputy director Sean Joyce and CIA deputy director Michael Morell.

Petraeus had been scheduled to appear before the committees on Thursday to testify on what the CIA knew and what the agency told the White House before, during and after the attack in Benghazi. Republicans and some Democrats have questioned the U.S. response and protection of diplomats stationed overseas.

Morell was expected to testify in place of Petraeus, and lawmakers said he should have the answers to their questions. But Feinstein and others didn’t rule out the possibility that Congress will compel Petraeus to testify about Benghazi at a later date, even though he’s relinquished his job.“I don’t see how in the world you can find out what happened in Benghazi before, during and after the attack if General Petraeus doesn’t testify,” said Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C.

Graham, a member of the Senate Armed Services Committee, wants to create a joint congressional committee to investigate the U.S. response to that attack.

Feinstein said she first learned of Petraeus’ affair from the media late last week, and confirmed it in a phone call Friday with Petraeus. She eventually was briefed by the FBI and said so far there was no indication that national security was breached.

Still, Feinstein called the news “a heartbreak” for her personally and U.S. intelligence operations, and said she didn’t understand why the FBI didn’t give her a heads up as soon as Petraeus’ name emerged in the investigation.

“We are very much able to keep things in a classified setting,” she said. “At least if you know, you can begin to think and then to plan. And, of course, we have not had that opportunity.”

Clapper was told by the Justice Department of the Petraeus investigation at about 5 p.m. on Election Day, and then called Petraeus and urged him to resign, according to a senior U.S. intelligence official who spoke on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to discuss the investigation publicly.

FBI officials say the committees weren’t informed until Friday, one official said, because the matter started as a criminal investigation into harassing emails sent by Broadwell to another woman.

Concerned that the emails he exchanged with Broadwell raised the possibility of a security breach, the FBI brought the matter up with Petraeus directly, according to the official, who spoke on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to publicly discuss the investigation.

Petraeus decided to quit, though he was breaking no laws by having an affair, officials said.

Feinstein said she has not been told the precise relationship between Petraeus and the woman who reported the harassing emails to the FBI.

Georgia Sen. Saxby Chambliss, the top Republican on the Senate intelligence committee, called Petraeus “a great leader” who did right by stepping down and still deserves the nation’s gratitude. He also didn’t rule out calling Petraeus to testify on Benghazi at some point.

“He’s trying to put his life back together right now and that’s what he needs to focus on,” Chambliss said.

King appeared on CNN’s “State of the Union.” Feinstein was on “Fox News Sunday,” Graham spoke on CBS’ “Face the Nation,” and Chambliss was interviewed on ABC’s “This Week.”

The drive through the Hill Country is filled with unexpected sights and experiences, including exotic scenery, local color, and delicious food. All UT students would benefit from this short, inexpensive road trip.

Photo Credit: Ricky Stein | Daily Texan Staff

Of all the beautiful drives in the world, few afford such an excellent opportunity for escape and reflection as the rich, scenic ramble through the Texas Hill Country. Oak-covered hills, grazing livestock and amaranthine skies paint the backdrop along U.S. Highway 290, tempting the mind to wander along every dried-up creek bed and solitary country road.

An hour-and-a-half drive west leads you past dozens of roadside diners, town squares and homegrown peach stands before ultimately arriving at the picturesque German town of Fredericksburg. Its proximity to Austin, small-town charm and strong local flavor make it an excellent daytrip for Longhorns, perfect for getting away from the books for a little while.

After stopping at one of the region’s famed peach stands to whet your appetite, head for the Ausländer Restaurant and Biergarten, a local institution for over two decades. Try either the Reuben or Opa’s sausage sandwich. Either way you can’t go wrong, especially if you wash it down with any number of the dozens of Eastern European beers offered on tap.

Next stroll down the über-Deutsch Main Street (or ‘Hauptstrasse,’ as it was originally known to the first German settlers in the 1840s). Brewers, bakers, chandlers, winemakers, chocolatiers, antique-and-art dealers, jam-and-salsa makers and fruit-and-veggie picklers represent only a cross section of the vendors to whom you will feel compelled to give money (this writer fell victim to the General Store’s free sample of pecan honey butter — best $8.99 ever spent.)

After taking your fill of small-town Texana, drive 18 miles north on FM 965 to world-famous Enchanted Rock State Park for some of the best hiking and most mesmerizing vistas in the state of Texas. A geographical wonder, the 425-foot pink granite batholith challenges adventurers to a 30-minute trek to the summit. Once reached, climbers are rewarded with a hefty breeze and an unobstructed view of some of the most beautiful natural landforms known to man. Admission to the park is $6, overnight camping $17.

Before dusk, head back south through Fredericksburg and take a right on Old San Antonio Road. A winding, looping country byway conducts you to Old Tunnel State Park, named after a ghostly abandoned railroad underpass. Each evening at sunset between May and October, the spectral nature of the scene is intensified when three million Brazilian free-tailed bats come billowing out of the tunnel in search of their evening meal. The bat colony, along with the abandoned tunnel, qualifies the site as one of the spookiest haunts in the Texas Hill Country.

Another famous haunt (though hardly spooky) awaits 10 miles to the northeast. Luckenbach Dance Hall and General Store has been a legendary hangout for generations of Central Texans. Made famous by Jerry Jeff Walker’s seminal 1973 album Viva Terlingua and popularized worldwide by Waylon Jennings’ smash hit single, the ‘town’ is as rustic as it gets, consisting of the dance hall, the store (which serves equally as a saloon) and whoever happens to be hanging around at any given point in time.

The venue hosts popular regional acts on the weekends, but the best time to go is when it’s still light outside. If you play guitar, bring it with you. If you know any Jerry Jeff songs, you’ll have friends for life.

Cold beer, warm smiles and the best $7 pulled pork sandwiches west of the Balcones Fault flow together like harmony lines in a familiar country song at this Central Texas cultural gem. An hour-and-a-half drive later, you’re back in Austin with plenty of time left to go out on a Saturday night.

Printed on Friday, September 28, 2012 as: Uncovering gems in Hill Country

An Afghan protester gestures towards a US soldier in front of the US base of Bagram during an anti US demonstration in Bagram north of Kabul, Afghanistan, Tuesday, Feb. 21, 2012. More than 2,000 angry Afghans, some firing guns in the air, protested on Tuesday against the improper disposal and burning of Qurans and other Islamic religious materials at an American air base in Bagram north of Kabul.

Photo Credit: The Associated Press

KABUL, Afghanistan — The U.S. apologized Tuesday for the burning of Muslim holy books that had been pulled from the shelves of a detention center library adjoining a major base in eastern Afghanistan because they contained extremist messages or inscriptions.

The White House echoed military officials in saying the burning of Qurans and other Islamic reading material that had been tossed in a pile of garbage was an accident.

But more than 2,000 Afghans protested the incident outside the Bagram Air Base that stoked rising anti-foreign sentiment and fueled Afghan claims that foreign troops disrespect their culture and Islamic religion even as the Americans and other NATO forces prepare to withdraw by the end of 2014.

Demonstrators who gathered outside Bagram Air Field, one of the largest U.S. bases in Afghanistan, shouted, “Die, die, foreigners!” Some fired rifles into the air. Others threw rocks at the gate of the base and set tires on fire.

U.S. Gen. John Allen, the top commander of American and NATO forces in Afghanistan, said the books had been mistakenly given to troops to be burned at a garbage pit at Bagram, a sprawling U.S. military base north of the Afghan capital, Kabul.

“It was not a decision that was made because they were religious materials,” Allen said. “It was a mistake. It was an error. The moment we found out about it we immediately stopped and we intervened.”

The Quran is the most sacred object in the daily lives of Muslims and burning it is considered an offense against God. The Quran is so important in the faith that Islamic teaching spells out how it should be handled, including directing anyone who touches it to be in a state of ritual purity. Muslims can only dispose of Qurans in very specific ways, including burning or burying those that have been damaged or corrupted to prevent God’s word from being defiled.

A Western military official with knowledge of the incident said it appeared that the Qurans and other Islamic readings in the library were being used to fuel extremism, and that detainees at Parwan Detention Facility, which adjoins Bagram, were writing on the documents to exchange extremist messages. He spoke on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to release the information.

The military official said that several hundred Islamic publications, including Qurans, were removed from the library. Some of the publications had extremist content; others had extremist messages written on their pages by detainees, the official said. The official said the documents were charred and burnt, but none of them were destroyed.

“We will look into the reason those materials were gathered,” Allen said. “We will look into the manner in which the decision was made to dispose of them in this manner.”

Allen issued a new directive ordering all coalition forces in Afghanistan to complete training in the proper handling of religious materials no later than March 3. The training will include the identification of religious materials, their significance, correct handling and storage, he said.

The White House also apologized, with press secretary Jay Carney saying it was a “deeply unfortunate incident” that doesn’t reflect the respect the U.S. military has for the religious practices of the Afghan people. Carney did not address details about what occurred.

U.S. Defense Secretary Leon Panetta added his voice, saying he disapproved of the conduct. He promised to review the results of the coalition’s investigation to ensure that all steps are taken to prevent it from happening again.

In a statement, Afghan President Hamid Karzai condemned the incident and appointed a delegation to investigate. He said initial reports were that four Qurans were burned.

Early Tuesday, as word of the incident spread, about 100 demonstrators gathered outside the base in Parwan province. As the crowd grew, so did the outrage.

One protester, Mohammad Hakim, said if U.S. forces can’t bring peace to Afghanistan, they should go home.

“They should leave Afghanistan rather than disrespecting our religion, our faith,” Hakim said. “They have to leave and if next time they disrespect our religion, we will defend our holy Quran, religion and faith until the last drop of blood has left in our body.”

Ahmad Zaki Zahed, chief of the provincial council, said U.S. military officials took him to a burn pit on the base where 60 to 70 books, including Qurans, were recovered. The books were used by detainees once incarcerated at the base, he said.

“Some were all burned. Some were half-burned,” Zahed said, adding that he did not know exactly how many Qurans had been burned.

Zahed said five Afghans working at the pit told him that the religious books were in the garbage that two soldiers with the U.S.-led coalition transported to the pit in a truck Monday night. When they realized the books were in the trash, the laborers quickly worked to recover them, he said.

“The laborers there showed me how their fingers were burned when they took the books out of the fire,” he said.Afghan Army Gen. Abdul Jalil Rahimi, the commander of a military coordination office in the province, said he and other officials met with protesters, tribal elders and clerics to try to calm their emotional response. “The protesters were very angry and didn’t want to end their protest,” he said.

Later, however, the protesters ended the rally and said they would send 20 representatives from the group to Kabul to talk with Afghan parliamentarians and demanded a meeting with Karzai, Rahimi said.

The governor’s office in Kandahar province in southern Afghanistan called the incident a “shameful move by some stupid individuals.”

Zia Ul Rahman, deputy provincial police chief, said between 2,000 and 2,500 protesters demonstrated at the base.

“The people are very angry. The mood is very negative,” Rahman said while the rally was going on. “Some are firing hunting guns in the air, but there have been no casualties.”

Police said a similar protest on Tuesday just east of Kabul ended peacefully.

In April 2011, Afghans protesting the burning of a Quran by a Florida pastor turned deadly when gunmen in the crowd stormed a U.N. compound in the northern city of Mazar-e-Sharif and killed three staffers and four Nepalese guards.

Also on Tuesday, NATO said four NATO service members were killed in southern Afghanistan — three in a roadside bombing and one in a non-battle related injury. The international military coalition did not give any other details about their deaths. So far this year, 47 NATO service members have been killed in Afghanistan.

Photo Credit: Fanny Trang | Daily Texan Staff

According to the highest ranking alumnus in the U.S. army, four-star general Robert W. Cone, UT is changing the world through its research studies and by implementing that research in the field.

Cone visited UT this Saturday with his wife to return home to visit one of his alma maters. Cone landed in Austin at 1:30 p.m. and was escorted around campus by ROTC professor Lt. Col. Joseph Kopser. While on campus Cone visited with President Powers, the football team and head football coach Mack Brown.

“I personally believe that all the academic programs here are headed in the right direction. They will change the world,” Cone said. “All of the professors, faculty and students are top notch. Thank you for doing what you do.”

UT spokesman Gary Susswein said Gen. Cone has fulfilled UT’s motto because of the high rank he has achieved — Cone has been able to change the world. After Gen. Cone attended UT he taught at West Point from 1987 until 1990, Kopser said. Kopser also said Gen. Cone’s former teacher, Johnny Butler, is now a professor at McCombs School of Business, and in charge of the IC2 institute. Butler was a professor of sociology when Cone attended UT.

According to a list recently published by GI Jobs magazine, UT is ranked as military friendly. Cone agreed with this statement.

“I graduated from West Point in 1979, then from UT with a master’s degree in sociology in 1987 studying under Butler. When I was here then it was military friendly and it still is,” Gen. Cone said.

Architecture freshman Esther Kuo said Kopser and Cone were correct in their analysis of UT’s military friendliness.

“I think UT has a great deal of military acceptance. I mean, you never see any of the cadets being disrespectful or being disrespected. It is a harmonious campus,” Kuo said.

Gen. Cone said UT’s current programs are exceeding his expectations.

“There is a lot of great technology, energy saving products and technology, research — I just got a briefing from Kopser about the research — that is going on here,” Gen. Cone said. “There is robots networking, a lot of things that are especially important to what we in the military do. Great things are really going on here.”

Cone said he was impressed with Butler’s work with entrepreneurship at UT. Butler is the Herb Kelleher Chair in entrepreneurship for the Red McCombs School of Business. Butler focuses on research in the areas of organizational behavior and entrepreneurship. Cone said he was impressed that 24 years after his time at UT, the University still maintains a highly-effective academic, military friendly setting.

“I hope to continue to see the great things out of this school that I have already seen,” Cone said.