Letters: Ranger School Grad, Kangal Dogs

Liane Hansen reads e-mail from Weekend Edition listeners about the first Iraqi officer to graduate from U.S. Army Ranger school, Kangal dogs and the world's oldest democracy.

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LIANE HANSEN, host:

You're listening to WEEKEND EDITION from NPR News.

Time now for your letters.

The story by Deborah Amos on the first Iraqi officer to graduate from the U.S. Army's Ranger School prompted Donald Walkup(ph) of Tuckahoe, New York to write:

How this qualifies as a major improvement in the Iraqi Army escapes me. If this brave individual lives long enough, his most likely fate will be similar to the many Vietnamese officers who have fled to the U.S. following the collapse of the puppet government we left behind when we pulled out of Vietnam. A sad waste.

HANSEN: Many of you wrote to us about Ivan Watson's pieces on the Kangal dogs of Turkey. The sheepherding dog is so much apart of that country's heritage that the government has allocated money to protect the breed's distinctive characteristics.

We heard from many Kangal owners and breeders who all enjoyed the story, but said that we were incorrect to refer to the dogs as white.

Kangal dogs are fawn, tan, cream or gray, but not white, writes Kathy Lambert of Falber(ph), California. Lambert is a board member of the Kangal Dog Club of America, so she knows.

HANSEN: We have one correction to make. In his May 7th commentary, Daniel Schorr referred to Britain as the oldest democracy. Though there are conflicting claims from different countries, it appears that the Isle of Man probably holds the record for the oldest continuous democracy. Their bicameral legislature, the Tynwald, was formed in 979 AD and is still meeting today.

The Isle of Man is not part of the United Kingdom though it is a Crown possession, and it self-governs its internal affairs. The Magna Carta, the source of British democracy, was issued in 1215 AD.

Correct us, compliment us, criticize us, write to us. Go to our website, npr.org, and click on the Contact Us link. In the body of your message, please tell us how to pronounce your name and where you live.

One final note. Our editorial assistant and utility infielder, Claudine Ebid, is playing her last game for WEEKEND EDITION SUNDAY today. She's moving back to Boston to play for the WBUR News Team and to reacquaint herself with the Green Monster at Fenway Park. We'll miss her spunk and her family stories, but our loss is Beantown's gain.

Take care, kiddo.

(Soundbite of song)

Unidentified Singers: (Singing) Let's go. Batter up. We're taking the afternoon off! It's a beautiful day for a ballgame, for a ballgame today. The fans are off to get a ticket or two, from Walla Walla, Washington to Kalamazoo. It's a beautiful day for a homerun, or even a triple's okay. We're going to cheer, and boo, and raise a hullabaloo, at the ballgame today. Batter up! Strike one! Yes, the game has just begun, and the home team...

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