By Alan W. Dowd

Not Just Our Coast Guard
One of the most unlikely contingents among the multinational, multi-service force in land-locked Afghanistan is a tiny Coast Guard detachment at the US base in Bagram. As American Forces Press Service reports, the Coasties are in Afghanistan at the request of the Army, which appreciates “the Coast Guard’s reputation for keen attention to detail with paperwork, packing, customs and hazardous-materials shipping and storage.”

Down the Drain
A recent Economic Policy Institute study sketched out the consequences of shutting down all three U.S. automakers, and the picture is scary.

EPI concludes that an auto industry shutdown would eliminate 3.3 million jobs in the span of a year, with every state in the union affected. Worst hit would be: Michigan (losing 407,300 jobs), California (305,900), Ohio (219,100), Texas (200,000), Illinois (154,000), Indiana (147,300), New York (144,600), Florida (126,300), Pennsylvania (120,100) and Tennessee (106,400). Find out more at http://www.epi.org/.

From Enemy Stronghold to Girls School
With the help of US troops, the HudaGirlsSchool northwest of Baghdad has reopened. The significance of the school’s reopening is not just the fact that it provides education to 950 girls, but what it used to be: a nerve center for insurgent attacks.

US Central Command reports that insurgents and terrorists used the school as a sniper nest, launched ambushes from it, and built bombs inside it. Even after US and Iraqi forces ejected the insurgents, soldiers from the 1st Cavalry Division found rooms booby-trapped with charged artillery shells and propane tanks.

School administrators now face another problem: overcrowding.

Greenhouse Gas Guzzlers
Scientists have discovered that peridotite—a rock in the upper mantle of the earth’s crust—actually consumes greenhouse gases. Peridotite is so hungry for greenhouse gas that some scientists are proposing that we pump carbon dioxide emissions into the areas where the rock is abundant, such as in Oman, some Pacific islands, Croatia, Greece and parts of the US.

As The Economist reports, scientists believe that by drilling into the rock and fracturing it, they can increase the absorption rate. Oman alone might be capable of absorbing 4 billion tons of carbon dioxide each year—a substantial portion of the 30 billion tons of this greenhouse gas annually produced by burning fossil fuels.

As a contributing editor to The American Legion Magazine, Dowd writes columns and news briefs on national security, foreign affairs and U.S. politics each month for the magazine's "Rapid Fire" section.