Uncle Sam decides life and death
Secretary of State John Kerry recently proclaimed to the international community we are saying once again the United States will be the world's policeman. Which translates to Uncle Sam is judge, jury and executioner as to what countries we invade, support and of course who gets bombed. War kills and Kerry's hypothesis says Uncle Sam, in the best tradition of a past "decider," ultimately mandates who lives and dies.
A chemical weapon by any other name is still a chemical weapon. Three million Vietnamese died during our invasion of that country. Perhaps a million plus by the 400,000 tons of napalm and 20 million gallons of Agent Orange we dumped on that country. In 2012 the American Red Cross estimated there are a million people in Vietnam with disabilities related to the chemical dioxin. We also dropped 8 million tons of conventional explosives on that small country.
Like napalm, white phosphorus kills by incineration, a chemical weapon used by our military while fighting at Fallujah. Several websites listed under "white phosphorus bombs" and "10 chemical attacks Washington doesn't want you to know about" reported that from 2002 to 2010, half the babies born in Fallujah were born with birth defects due to our military littering the environment with depleted uranium, a toxic radioactive nuclear waste.
Then there's the old standby tear gas, which is barred from use against enemy soldiers but is used liberally in this country to disperse demonstrations, including peaceful occupiers in Oakland, Calif.
Death by any other name is still death. America's invasion of Korea, Vietnam, Lebanon, Iraq and Afghanistan has killed and maimed millions of people and proved only one thing, America has the best weapons to do the job.
To the Gibraltar Town Board
The greatest quality of leadership is the ability to delegate authority. There are just too many time-consuming decisions to be made to get caught up in the minutia of every project. The Town Board has the opportunity to allow a group of like-minded citizens with an intense passion for Fish Creek to push the envelope forward on the beautification of the rural roads of the town of Gibraltar. The "luck of the draw" is on your side. What a gift!
The smart move is to form a citizens committee that will do the heavy lifting on the brush and tree clearing along the rural roads. These people "love" the area and only want the best for now and the future. They are all gifted people that have a vision. Show your leadership and use their talents.
The citizens committee would easily take the burden off your shoulders. You would stop being criticized and you wouldn't have to read my letters anymore. The town board should hire a landscape architect consultant to work with the committee in designing the "complete package." There might be state help through their many departments. The board has a "perfect storm" to look good and leave a historical mark for Fish Creek. Now is your time to define leadership.
I recently walked the new Gibraltar Bluff Road north and found the character of the "legacy road" completely altered and degraded. In my opinion you have damaged the property value and scenic beauty of the road by overzealous cutting of trees and brush. Your lack of "vision" is blatantly obvious.
Hikers and bikers, bird watchers and artists, joggers and tree huggers agree my road is aesthetically superior to your road. Let's leave it that way.
Are we as famous as the "17-mile drive of Pebble Beach"? Not yet, but we are working on it!
Alan J. Stover
Blackmail: Not an acceptable form of government
As part of the Fox Cities-Kurgan Sister City Program with Russia over the past 23 years, my husband and I have watched with alarm as the Russian government failed to pay its teachers and public employees for months (or years) and our friends were forced to barter for their food. But we never imagined that this would happen here in a society with more than 225 years of government "of, by and for the people" under its belt.
We know a young couple among the 800,000 federal employees who will not be paid for their labor again until the Congress adopts a budget or passes a "continuation" of the current budget. Like our Russian friends who did not stop teaching when their pay was canceled, they will not stop working in their labs.
They cannot run the risk of losing the results of their work because it is part of a large project involving several institutions, and each part must be completed in order for the study to be meaningful. Their research is designed to prevent, or at least to mitigate, a global famine resulting from massive crop failure due to disease. In addition to wasting millions of dollars, the loss of this work could have significant consequences for huge numbers of people across the world in the not-too-distant future.
Even if the current crisis is resolved in days or weeks, there is no guarantee that they will be paid for their labor in this period of uncertainty. Like most young people near the beginning of a career, they do not have sufficient savings to pay their bills without the income they have budgeted. They chose these jobs over the more lucrative private sector because they wanted to work on long-term projects rather than short-term products, and they wanted, ironically, the relative security of government employment for their young family.
Some pundits have called for compromise. But in a situation that involves blackmail (unless you do x, we will take away y), there can be no meaningful compromise. While no knees have been broken yet, many lives are already being damaged in other ways. The tea party has used a strategy that falls outside our democracy, where the job of representatives is to serve all the people, not a single economic or ideological sector, no matter how powerful its backers claim to be.