Friday, November 25, 2011
Saturday, October 22, 2011
Following service in the military, many servicemen and women think their most complicated battles are behind them. Unfortunately, many veterans suffer long-lasting mental and physical health issues. Scientists and doctors are continually making connections between veterans and the multiple diseases and health conditions that seem to plague them.
Though it has long been known that the nation's veterans are at high risk for developing asbestos cancer or mesothelioma, other cancer risks are newly emerging. In fact, as recently as early October 2011, the Environmental Protection Agency warned that anyone who served or lived on base at Camp Lejeune in North Carolina between the 1950s and 1980s is at risk for developing a number of cancers related to water contamination on the base. Though multiple cancers are listed as possible risks, the EPA specifically linked consumption of the water's contaminants to breast cancer, kidney cancer, non-Hodgkin lymphoma and liver cancer.
Apparently, trichloroethylene - known as TCE - made it into the water supply at the base. TCE is highly toxic to humans and causes multiple types of cancer. Exposure to the contaminant is responsible for claiming many lives, including children living at the base. Some diseases related to the exposure are latent, meaning it may take many years before they develop in the body. Unfortunately, those effects may continue for many years to come. According to the EPA, individuals who lived or worked on the base between the 1950s and 1980s were exposed to the chemical, placing them at risk for many years to come.
The discovery is no surprise to the countless men, women and children who have fallen ill due to exposure to the water at Camp Lejeune. What else could account for the more than 70 recorded cases of male breast cancer at the base? Despite decades of suspicion surrounding the water at Camp Lejeune, previous studies from the National Research Council found no confirmation of a link between the base's water and the multiple diseases that service members and their families were suffering. However, the recent discoveries by the Environmental Protection Agency disprove those previous reports, raising hope and awareness for veterans who have long sought out answers and recompense for their suffering.
Sunday, September 11, 2011
We are getting all types of new gadgets in our autos and on our person these days, but common sense is not being programmed into them. We become different creatures in our cars - financed to the hilt, full of ourselves and distracted. We feel entitled, tending our technologies and our powerful machines.
I am a pedestrian, now retired, who has walked the last 5 years by choice from the Veterans Home to a volunteer job daily at the Hastings Library. The journey is 3 miles one way. Some of my journey takes me through city traffic. I have found myself sprawled across the hood of a car after the driver turned right without looking to a green light crosswalk because she was talking on a cell phone. I have been cursed for being in the middle of the road in a clearly marked pedestrian right of way by a speeder late to work running a red light who had to brake to avoid killing me. I could recount other similar near- miss incidents, too numerous to mention.
Having driven for 36 years both in the US and abroad, and having spent 2 hours a day in an automobile on the D.C. Beltway at the end of my aerospace career, I am very familiar with the driving experience. I saw it all in Washington; from cars driving down in the ditch avoiding traffic jams to people late for a meeting running wildly around their auto, screaming at the world in general. During the sniper episode in Washington, I observed a man pull into a gas station, laying a loaded high powered rifle across the top of his car while he filled up. The hammer on that 30/30 lever action was cocked. No one was going to hurt his chariot.
There is a new kind of monkey these days - the technology monkey. That sucker will bury us if we don't learn to deal with him. We are so busy tending our gadgets and feeling entitled that we lose site of priorities, get wound up in minutia and end up in a meaningless zoo. Road rage is becoming a certifiable illness. Perhaps we should slow down, assess what is important, savor the time we have and consider respect for others. It is not difficult. It can become habit forming. And it just might feel good.
Saturday, August 13, 2011
"The Marine Corps whistleblower who exposed the Department of Defense's (DoD) delay in providing troops with Mine Resistant Ambush Protected vehicles (MRAPs) has received notice that he can return to work, ending a four-year ordeal in which he had lost his security clearance and faced the loss of his job.
The Navy’s decision (the Marine Corps is within the Navy) to reinstate Gayl’s security clearance came after the Office of Special Counsel (OSC) intervened in the case in October by asking the Merit Systems Protection Board (MSPB) to stay a decision to give Gayl, a Marine Corps science advisor, an indefinite suspension without pay. Gayl's decision in 2007 to tell Congress and the public about the delays in providing troops the heavily armored MRAPs forced the DoD to speed up production of the vehicles and, as a result, likely saved the lives of thousands of troops and prevented serious injuries to many thousands more.
In its request to the MSPB, the OSC cited a petition that the Project On Government Oversight (POGO) and the Government Accountability Project (GAP) had submitted to Defense Secretary Leon Panetta. Nearly 4,000 people signed the joint POGO/GAP petition. The OSC agreed with petitioners that “there are reasonable grounds to believe” Gayl's suspension violates the Whistleblower Protection Act.
The MSPB issued a 45-day stay on Oct. 13 to give the OSC time to investigate whether Gayl had been retaliated against. After Gayl blew the whistle, he lost his security clearance, which kept him from returning to work. His attorneys at GAP argued that the indefinite suspension without pay was a way to "starve him out" of the Marine Corps.
"As former Secretary of Defense Robert Gates noted, thousands and thousands of Marines owe their lives and safety to the brave actions of Franz Gayl," POGO Executive Director Danielle Brian said. "What Gayl has endured is a gross injustice. It's not the way this country should treat its heroes and only underscores the need for Congress to immediately pass the Platts-Van Hollen Whistleblower Protection Enhancement Act of 2011."
Gayl issued the following statement through GAP:
“I want to express my deepest thanks to all who have supported me throughout this ordeal. It goes without saying that absent the continuous advocacy of GAP and POGO, I would have been forced from government service years ago. However, the Office of Special Counsel (OSC) under the inspiring leadership of Carolyn Lerner has been the godsend that enabled this recent turn-around. OSC's determination to request a stay, and the MSPB's willingness to support it, allowed enough time for the Department of the Navy to deliver a considered and favorable security adjudication that now permits me to get back to work. I am as committed as ever to return to my Marine Corps to work hard in support of all Marines in the capacities for which I was hired. Again, without OSC, GAP, POGO, and the MSPB, this renewed opportunity would not be possible!”
“…..made a name for himself a few years ago as a Marine Corps whistle blower, a civilian scientist who helped push the Pentagon to shift its Iraqi weapons strategy. Senators called him a hero for disclosures that helped get heavily armored vehicles known as MRAPs to the battlefield.
But a few weeks ago, Gayl found himself booted from a room where confidential materials are handled and stripped of his security clearance. His superiors accused him of "a disregard for regulations, a pattern of poor judgment and intentional misconduct" - behavior that they said "indicates you are unreliable and untrustworthy."
The article goes on to explain that incidents sited in the clearance removal decision were not reported officially as security breaches, but were judgement calls on the part of Gayl's immediate superiors, upon whom his disclosures in the whistle blower incident had applied considerable pressure.
The Project on Government Oversight (POGO) has mounted an electronic mail-in campaign to get the decision reversed:
Will the public respond to this project and can we continue to tolerate this kind of behavior on the part of military officials in a bloated Pentagon spending billions of tax payer dollars each year?
Thursday, August 04, 2011
Is the US Citizenry willing to Save a $Trillion By Shaving the Fat From the Military Industrial Complex (MIC) ?
He asks some disturbing questions:
"Across Washington, all sorts of people are starting to ask the unthinkable questions about long-sacred military budgets. Can the U.S. really afford more than 500 bases at home and around the world? Do the Air Force, Navy and Marines really need $400 billion in new jet fighters when their fleets of F-15s, F-16s and F-18s will give them vast air superiority for years to come? Does the Navy need 50 attack submarines when America's main enemy hides in caves? Does the Army still need 80,000 troops in Europe 66 years after the defeat of Adolf Hitler?"
It concludes with the following statement:
"For too long, an uninterested and distracted citizenry has been content to leave the messy business of national defense to those with bottom-line reasons for force-feeding it like a foie gras goose. It's long past time, Ike might have added today, for U.S. taxpayers to demand that its government spend what is needed to defend the country — not a penny more."
Watchdog Groups Identify Nearly $600 Billion in National Security Spending Cuts:
The spending cuts targeted by POGO and Taxpayers for Common Sense, include:
* $300 billion by reducing Department of Defense (DoD) service contracts by 15 percent;
* $72 billion by reducing non-DoD service contracts by 15 percent;
* $60 billion through reforms to the DoD’s TRICARE health care system;
* $44 billion by replacing two of the three F-35 variants with the less expensive F/A-18 E/F’s;
* $30 billion by withdrawing 20,000 troops from Europe, and
* $12 billion by not renewing the procurement contract for the V-22 Osprey.
These actions must be taken and pose no risk to national security. Tell your government representatives to get on with it.
Saturday, June 25, 2011
PLEASE CLICK ON IMAGE TO ENLARGE
This was a very enjoyable ceremony.
The Department of Agriculture is doing many good things for Small Business these days and rates at the top of the heap among all the others in my book.
There were awards in the Veteran-owned business category, HUB Zone, Small Business and Woman-owned business, in which one of my clients, pictured here, was named the national winner.
More Pictures at:
Monday, May 02, 2011
The death of this tyrant simply brings to the fore an old threat that had assumed a place of insignificance on the world stage.
We created Bin Laden and many more like him today by military incursions, fought in the memory of 3,000 dead civilians who were attacked because we did not leave the Middle East after the first Gulf War. These incursions were fed by foul, intentionally staged intelligence, fronted by agencies and industries bent on economic gain.
We fought a just and honorable war assisting many Middle East allies and other countries to free Kuwait. General Schwarzkopf is a true American hero. You will note he came home and stayed home. His successors then hung around with an imperialist attitude, resented by cultures that have hated that type of control for thousands of years.
These incursions have killed thousands of our finest youth and maimed the lives of countless others. We learned nothing from the Russians, our own experiences in Vietnam and similar outings in the past.
The average American will pay for this ruin in decades to come through taxes supporting hospital care, social services and veteran's homes.
At the bottom line, the death of Bin Laden will serve to continue motivation that will feed the Military Industrial Complex.
It would have been best if this death had gone virtually unnoticed into the annals of time. The war racket in America will continue until we are totally broke and lack credit in the world community. It will then cease.
That is the death I look forward to. The death of monetary tyranny in war fighting.
Tuesday, March 29, 2011
12 Names on a Wall in Washington D.C.
Forgotten by Many but Not By Me
Database of the 58,195 Names on The Wall in Wash,D.C. This is the most accurate database online.
Wednesday, March 02, 2011
We also applaud Secretary of Defense, Robert Gates (left) for the following statement:
“Any future defense secretary who advises the president to again send a big American land army into Asia or into the Middle East or Africa should have his head examined.”
Considering the events in the Middle East and the struggles by the young population in those countries to progress, the US has learned the hard way that our purposed reasons for going to war would have taken care of themselves had we not been pressured by the Military Industrial Complex and the Intelligence Communities to stage fruitless incursions that enriched large corporations at the expense of American lives.
"In saying this, Gates was repeating a dictum laid down by Douglas MacArthur after the Korean War, who urged the United States to avoid land wars in Asia. Given that the United States has fought four major land wars in Asia since World War II — Korea, Vietnam, Afghanistan and Iraq — none of which had ideal outcomes, it is useful to ask three questions: First, why is fighting a land war in Asia a bad idea? Second, why does the United States seem compelled to fight these wars? And third, what is the alternative that protects U.S. interests in Asia without large-scale military land wars?
The alternative is diplomacy, not understood as an alternative to war but as another tool in statecraft alongside war. Diplomacy can find the common ground between nations. It can also be used to identify the hostility of nations and use that hostility to insulate the United States by diverting the attention of other nations from challenging the United States. That is what happened during the Iran-Iraq war. It wasn’t pretty, but neither was the alternative.
Diplomacy for the United States is about maintaining the balance of power and using and diverting conflict to manage the international system. Force is the last resort, and when it is used, it must be devastating. The argument I have made, and which I think Gates is asserting, is that at a distance, the United States cannot be devastating in wars dependent on land power. That is the weakest aspect of American international power and the one the United States has resorted to all too often since World War II, with unacceptable results. Using U.S. land power as part of a combined arms strategy is occasionally effective in defeating conventional forces, as it was with North Korea (and not China) but is inadequate to the demands of occupation warfare. It makes too few troops available for success, and it does not know how many troops might be needed.
This is not a policy failure of any particular U.S. president. George W. Bush and Barack Obama have encountered precisely the same problem, which is that the forces that have existed in Eurasia, from the Chinese People’s Liberation Army in Korea to the Taliban in Afghanistan, have either been too numerous or too agile (or both) for U.S. ground forces to deal with. In any war, the primary goal is not to be defeated. An elective war in which the criteria for success are unclear and for which the amount of land force is insufficient must be avoided. That is Gates’ message. It is the same one MacArthur delivered, and the one Dwight Eisenhower exercised when he refused to intervene in Vietnam on France’s behalf. As with the Monroe Doctrine, it should be elevated to a principle of U.S. foreign policy, not because it is a moral principle but because it is a very practical one."
From Vietnam to Iraq and Afghanistan this writer has traveled a road of combat illness, weapons odysseys, recovery and lessons learned over 40 years. Has our leadership become wiser and learned their lessons as well?