Friday, May 12, 2006

Other Items

The Army has shaken up a program to heal recruits injured in basic training after soldiers and their parents said troops hurt at Fort Sill were punished with physical abuse and medical neglect.
The program, which treated more than 1,100 injured soldiers last year at five posts, normally returns three-fourths of its patients to active duty, according to Army statistics. But at Fort Sill, recruits said, injuries were often subject to derision, ignored or improperly treated.
Two soldiers in the program have died since 2004, one or possibly both of accidental overdoses of prescription drugs. The latest death, in March, remains under investigation, the Army said.

"I am an inmate," one soldier, Pfc. Mathew Scarano of Eureka, Calif., wrote in a letter home in January two months before he died. "I sometimes ask those friends of mine with jailhouse tattoos if they'd rather be back in jail, or here. So far, they are unanimous -- jail."

The above is from the opening of Ralph Blumenthal's "Army Acts to Curb Abuses of Injured Recruits" in this morning's New York Times. Blumenthal and 'staff' missed the Alphonso Jackson story (which they should have owned). Pair Blumenthal's article with an Associated Press that Jonah notes, "White House Opposes Parts of Defense Bill:"

The Bush administration does not see a need to increase the size of the armed forces right now. It believes that 2.7 percent is too much of a pay raise for the military. And it does not want to maintain its current fleet of 12 aircraft carriers.
On a 396-31 vote Thursday, the House approved a $512.9 billion military bill that includes those provisions and others that the White House and the Pentagon could do without.
The bill addresses lawmakers' concerns arising from wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, from combating makeshift roadside bombs to equipping more vehicles and troops with armor. The measure also includes a plan to spend $50 billion for the first part of next year's war costs.

And pair both up with this from Sabrina Tavernise's "As Violence Grows, Shiite Closes Town's Mosques:"

Thursday was also the deadliest day for the American military in a month, with the deaths of seven service members and the announcement of an eighth death that had occurred on Tuesday.

Meanwhile Monica Davey apparently missed the Tom Zeller memo (see sneearing article by Zeller in Nov. of 2004). Good thing. She contributes "New Fears of Security Risks in Electronic Voting Systems:"

With primary election dates fast approaching in many states, officials in Pennsylvania and California issued urgent directives in recent days about a potential security risk in their Diebold Election Systems touch-screen voting machines, while other states with similar equipment hurried to assess the seriousness of the problem.
"It's the most severe security flaw ever discovered in a voting system," said Michael I. Shamos, a professor of computer science at Carnegie Mellon University who is an examiner of electronic voting systems for Pennsylvania, where the primary is to take place on Tuesday.
Officials from Diebold and from elections' offices in numerous states minimized the significance of the risk and emphasized that there were no signs that any touch-screen machines had been tampered with. But computer scientists said the problem might allow someone to tamper with a machine's software, some saying they preferred not to discuss the flaw at all for fear of offering a roadmap to a hacker.
"This is the barn door being wide open, while people were arguing over the lock on the front door," said Douglas W. Jones, a professor of computer science at the University of Iowa, a state where the primary is June 6.

With regards to the issues in California, you can hear more on this by going to KPFA and listening to the archived broadcast of Living Room's Thursday April 27th, 2006 broadcast.
Among Kris Welch's guests for that broadcast were Bob Fitrakis of The Free Press, Bev Harris of Black Box Voting, and actress and national advisory board chair of Progressive Democrats of America Mimi Kennedy.

Mia notes Joshua Frank's "Save Darfur?" (CounterPunch):

Some little-known facts about the Darfur situation: Both sides in the conflict are black, and both sides are Muslim. So, despite what the major news media may say, this isn't an Arab-on-black or Muslim-on-Christian nightmare. And perhaps worst of all, there isn't a good side to be on. Both have committed horrible atrocities, and both want to slaughter the other. Not to mention that entering the region militarily would only feed right into bin Laden's rhetoric ­ much like we did when we shocked and awed Baghdad. So I think it's safe to say that hatred of the U.S. would only increase among closet jihadists in the Middle East and elsewhere if we invaded Darfur. That doesn't make us, or them, any safer.
You may recall that President Clinton did his part to end the violence in the Sudan when he fired a few missiles at a pharmaceutical plant in 1998. It didn't do much good; it led to countless deaths and probably prompted al-Qaeda to attack the United States quicker. There is no reason to believe that an intervention by Bush would result in anything different. And never mind that the United States isn't all that great at "humanitarian interventions".

She also recommends everyone check out "Darfur" and "Head on Home (a musical in four scenes)." And with Mother's Day approaching, Cindy notes Laura Billings' "Mother's Call For Peace Still Resonates" (St. Paul Pioneer Press via Common Dreams):

Her hoop skirt wouldn't fit in today's standard-issue minivan, and still Julia Ward Howe seems to be enjoying a fashionable comeback this Mother's Day.
Howe is best remembered by history buffs as the woman who wrote the words that became "The Battle Hymn of the Republic," the fiery Civil War anthem first published in the Atlantic Monthly in 1862.
Not so widely known is that eight years later, the woman who wrote "Let us die to make men free" wanted to end war forever. Having seen and survived the violence and economic devastation of the Civil War, Howe dreaded the gathering storm of the Franco-Prussian war. In Boston 1870, she delivered a "Mother's Day Proclamation for Peace," 274 words in which she envisioned "a great and earnest day of counsel" in which mothers of all nationalities would arrive "at the means the great human family can live in peace."
Included in her call to lay down arms: "Our sons shall not be taken from us to unlearn All that we have been able to teach them of charity, mercy and patience.
"We, the women of one country, Will be too tender of those of another country To allow our sons to be trained to injure theirs."

Which is a good reason to again note from CODEPINK:

Declare peace on Mother's Day with CODEPINK! We will be gathering in Washington DC for a 24-hour vigil outside the White House on May 13-14, and will be joined by amazing celebrity actresses, singers, writers, and moms, including Cindy Sheehan, Patch Adams, and Susan Sarandon! Bring your mother, children, grandmothers, friends, and loved ones. We will be honoring the mothers of the fallen by sending them organic roses. Click here to send your rose! We're also writing letters to Laura Bush to appeal to her own mother-heart, turning them into a book, "Letters to Laura." For event info click here, read our blogs and check out our online store for gift ideas.

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