Monthly Archives: April 2008

Defense Secetary Gates Opposes New GI Bill!

Twenty-six veterans groups have come together to support an improved GI Bill which significantly raises benefits for those attending college. The 21st Century GI Bill has been pushed by former Marine, Senator Jim Webb, in an effort to ensure those who have served receive the similar benefits as to what was provided veterans of World War II and Korea. “We need,” said Webb, “to move expeditiously to get this vital piece
of legislation passed this year for our returning Iraq and Afghanistan veterans. The educational benefits in this bill are crucial to a service member’s readjustment to civilian life,and are a cost of war that should receive the same priority that funding the war has received the last five years.”

Secretary of Defense Robert Gates agreed to support the concept of “transferability” which allows family members access to edcuational benefits, but he reaffirmed his opposition to a veteran’s education bill that provides “too generous” benefits. The Webb bill is modeled on WWII benefits since it provides for full tuition payment and a monthly living stipend, but Gates prefers if members of the military use educational benefits while remaining in the service. The Pentagon believes having generous benefits is an inducement to leave the service and pursue a civilian career. As a Pentagon offiical noted: “Congress must understand that the volunteer force relies for its very life on retention– not departure incentives.”

Members of the National Guard and the Reserves had active civilian careers and were not envisioning a life in the military until forced to undergo one deployment after another which impacted their civilian careers. The United States government should not be deciding whether or not a member of the military leaves or remains. The original GI Bill of Rights was designed to recognize the heroic service of those who fought for their nation. Similar benefits should be provided this generation of warriors.

A Plug For Our Senior Citizens

As a 77 year-old member of the Medicare generation, I am concerned about the needs of those who have spent lifetimes working to develop this nation. I recently received some information from Robert Recht of St. Louis about a new piece of legislation which is sponsored by 90 Democratic congressmen. Like medicare, the new legislation allows individuals to select their own doctor and make individual medical decisions. Under the new proposed law, a family of four would pay an $160 a month premium and be assured of quality health care. Please examine the proposed HR 676 legislation. For more information about it, contact 1-866-338-1015.

I support all efforts to establish national health insurance for all Americans and a health care system in which drugs are free to those in need. A few years ago I fought the cancer battle, and, hopefully won, for the moment. We inhabit a world in which a single drug carries the cost label of $1000 a shot and only very rich people can afford such expenses.

Speaking for all senior citizens, a warm thank you to Congressman John Conyers of Michigan for this welcome piece of legislation.

Is Iran Turning Eastward?

The recent visit of President Ahmadinejad to Pakistan may well usher in a new Iranian thrust eastwards. As the nation gazes westward, it is confronted by hostile armed forces and competition for its oil, but an eastward glance reveals less economic competition and the two fastest growing economies in the world -India and China. Iranians are beginning to recognize that southeast Asia has a large Muslim population, expanding economies, and lucrative markets for their oil. The eastward gaze concides with Pakistan’s rethinking of its political and military situation. There is growing consensus within Pakistan for an end to turmoil in the frontier regions, something Iran can assist being achieved. Iranians recognize they now have an opportunity to create firm connections with the political realists who are assuming control of Pakistan.

Another plus to looking eastward is the ability of Iran to receive much needed investment funds from China which will make up for lost funding from the United States and the European Union. Perhaps, the world is in the beginning stages of a vast reconstruction of political and military alliances in which India, China, Pakistan, and Iran constitute a new economic and political bloc. The United States thought it could economically pressure nations to cease providing funds for Iran, but China and India are engaged in vast economic plans in which they assume leadership roles. They will not accept American pressure and will trod their own economic paths.

Canada Hope Of Omar Khadr In Guantanamo

The American defense attorney, Lt. Comdr. Bill Kuebler, told members of the Canadian parliament that Omar Khadr will be convicted if he goes to trial in Guanatanamo, not because he is guilty, but due to a stacked trial system which ensures convictions rather than justice for defendants. “Omar’s story is one of victimization by everyone who has ever had authority over him and punishment for misdeeds of others. It is not a question of giving this young man a second chance. He has never had a first one. The only blessing he’s had is being born in Canada and this country now represents his only hope.” The Pentagon alleges Khadr threw a grenade that fatally wounded U.S. Sgt. Christopher Speer, although recently disclosed documents question his culpability

Omar is being damaged by statements from relatives who admire al-Qaida and have attacked Canada. His father is allegedly a financial supporter of al-Qiada, but the evidence against the Kahdr(who was fifteen at the time of the alleged attack) is flimsy.

The real hero in this case is Bill Kuebler, who most probably has destroyed his career in the Navy as a result of defending his client in the manner expected of lawyers. To defend a client all-out is the not goal of the Guantanamo trial system.

Turkish Government Maintains Anti-Union Attitude

The European Union continues having misgivings concerning the attitude of the Turkish government toward the trade union movement. An EU report in 2004 noted: “the percentge of the labor force covered by collective greements remains extremely low.” Even as labor unions prepare for May Day celebrations the Turkish government is still hesitante about even allowing them to use the famous Taksim Square where in 1977 gunmen killed 37 people who were marching to celebrate May Day. Turkish trade unions believe the Erdogan government has to become more flexible and allow workers to organize and establish powerful organizations in order to raise salaries and improve working conditions.

The 2007 progress report from the EU notes “Turkey fails to fully implement the International Labor Organization(ILO)conventions in particular as regards the right to organize, the right to strike and the right to bargain collectively.” Turkish law still maintains many provisions which hinder development of a strong union movement.

Islamic Jihad-Cease Fire Possible

The Islamic Jihad expressed a willingness to accept an Egyptian-mediated cease-fire in the Gaza Strip on the condition there would be “removal of the siege on the Palestinian people and the opening of the crossings” on the Gaza border. Ziad al-Nahia said he would accept the deal because it would benefit the Palestinian population. The Islmic Jihad and other militant groups are agreeing initially to focus on a cease fire in the Gaza Strip but hope eventually the end of fighting would also extend to other areas such as the West Bank. The Egyptian news agency, MENA, said “all of the Palestinian factions have agreed to the Egyptian proposal on a truce with Israel.”

The Israel government has already indicated several objections to the truce proposal because it believes such a cease fire might allow militant factions to resupply and obtain additional weapons. The central issue is whether the Palestinians are prepared for a short or long term period of truce. It obviously makes sense to seek the longer term truce and accept the reality of breaches. But, unless one begins the process, the process will never achieve a fruition of purpose. The road to peace begins with a single step.

Barack Obama Denounces Reverend Wright

Barack Obama was finally compelled by the course of events created by the Reverend Wright’s performance at the National Press Club to speak out against a man with whom he had felt a genuine kinship. He termed Wright’s comments as “appalling” and a “distractor” to the American scene which requires those of all backgrounds to address issues of concern for the nation. “The problems we have as a country are too great to continue to be divided. What we saw yesterday out of Reverend Wright was a resurfacing and an exploitation of those old divisions.” Obama emphasized Wright’s performance was “antithetical to our campaign, it is antithetical to what I am about, it is not what I find America stands for. The person I saw yesterday was not the pastor tht I met 20 years ago.”

Barack Obama, as usual, was polite and dignified in his comments about the outrageous performance of Wright. The Reverend Wright put on a performance, he did not give a talk. He mocked, he was glib, he manipulated information by citing the famous Tuskeegee project in order to make his dangerous comment that AIDs was invented by the US government in order to kill off black people. Reverend Wright today is a sad caricature of the man who met Barack Obama twenty years ago.

Fighting Breaks Out In China Over Tibet

A Chinese policeman was shot dead while pursuing an “alleged riot leader” in the ethnically Tibetan part of western China. A riot had broken out in Qinghai’s Dari County incited by a “handful of people” alleged to be insurgent seeking “Tibetan independence” according to Chinese news sources. The supposed leader of Tibetan nationalists was approached by police officers when he fired, killing the policeman. In the ensuing exchange of gunfire, the supsect was killed.

Since outbreaks of violence in Tibet, there have been riots in many areas of China containing large numbers of Tibetans. The Chinese government has admitted jailing supsects and then sentencing them to prison terms ranging from a few to several years. This has only accentuated feelings against the Chinese government.

The Dalai Lama must be engaged in dialogue which would result in recognizing the cultural values of Tibetans while still including Tibet within the framework of the Chinese republic.

German Police Raid Suspected Islamic Terrorist Homes

German police conducted widespread raids across the county aimed at smashing a suspect Islamic terrorist operation to wage jihad both in Germany and elsewhere in the world. The raids were designed to disrupt a network that was attempting to radicalize Muslim Germans and get them involved in terrorist activities. Nine men were seized who were supsected of “forming a criminal network” of terrorism. The center of their activities was a former community center called the Multicultural House in Neu-Ulm. The men focused on converting Germans to the Muslim religion and inciting racial hatred via means of literature and audio and video reccordings.

Outwardly, the Geman police smashed a “terrorist” operation, but, so far, the nine men did not implement any plan of action even though they may well have been planning action. One is back to the proverbial issue of yelling fire in a crowded movie theater. Is the act of spreading “hate” a crime? Are there certain forms of “hate” which are more prone to result in violence than others?

Flirting In Saudi Arabia Hazardous To Hair!

During the 1960s in America, conservatives their cvilizaion was headed for collapse because young men wore their hair long. Prince Fahd bin Badr, governor of an area in northern Saudi Arabia, has decided long hair on the part of men might be OK, but long hair on the part of men who hang around female high schools and flirt with young women on their way home violates the basic values of Muslim society. He has ordered authorities to seize such young men, and, on the spot, cut off their long hair because the men are violating Muslim restrictions against “emulating” female attire or physical appearance. For some reason, flirting has now been linked to male long hair on the ground since women have long hair, then males with long hair are emulating women.

If one pursues the logic of the governor’s dictum, since women have two arms and males have two arms, at least one of the male arms should be amputated in order to eliminate any resemblance to female physical appearance. After all, amputating arms and legs is a well known procedure in Saudi Arabia, and in this case it would serve a purpose by ending flirting in public. There is no doubt, flirting is the major factor in destroying family life in Saudi Arabia. Of course, flirting does often result in males and females marrying, so…….