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Wednesday, May 14, 2008

How to see this mission accomplished

In their otherwise thoughtful analyses none of your writers discussed how America was going to pay for the war. To pass the cost on to our children would be terribly unfair.

We need an income tax surcharge and a forced war loan program.

This would enable all of us to partially share the terrible sacrifices
being made by our troops.

Sent to New York Times

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

City Offers Bank $4M Tax Break

Giving tax breaks to big business to encourage them to locate in a given area (City offers bank $4m tax break to relocate: From downtown, a move to waterfront, Boston Globe, April 30 :A1) is a beggar-thy-neighbor proposition.

Right now a bill going through the legislature is proposing an inter-state compact to bypass the electoral college to ensure that the President is elected by all the people. We urgently need an inter-state, inter-city, inter-town compact that will disallow these ridiculous handouts to the wealthy top managers of corporations. Where do you think that $4m rebate will go: right into the pockets of the CEO and top management through their profit related bonuses.

It is time to say no to the corporate welfare bums (Quote from former Canadian NDP leader, David Lewis).
Sent to Boston Globe

George Schultz on the run-up to the Iraq War

I have long been an admirer of George Shultz. He was also a very successful dean at the University of Chicago School of Business.

However there are several criticisms to be made about his comments of the run-up to the Iraq war.

While it is true that most Intelligence agencies were fooled, in part, about what Iraq was doing. They were not completely taken in.

The Germans told the Americans long before the war -- and Colin Powell's unfortunate UN speech -- that the information about Iraq's WMD capabilities was very shaky. The US administration knew this, yet still tried to make the case.

Second, after the vote to support war in November 2002, the Iraqis allowed UN inspectors into Iraq with extensive opportunities to search anywhere in the country. The US refused to give the inspectors specific information about where to look claiming that it would, endanger sources but, as we now know, because they did not have any. By mid-February, the inspectors reported that they could find no WMD's in Iraq. Yet Bush took us to war in March 2003.

I fear that it is Mr Shultz who has hijacked the truth. It is unfortunate that oft repeated falsehoods attain the patina of truth.

Sent to NPR: On Point

State Secrets

Although Mr Keefe (State Secrets, New Yorker, April 28, 2008: 28 - 34) carefully explains the flawed origins of the state-secret doctrine, he does not tell us that after the information relevant to the 1953 Reynolds case became public, the Third Circuit Court of Appeal refused to reconsider the original state secret case. It is important that this case be carefully re-examined to ensure that the privilege rests on sound grounds.

Also he does not tell your readers of the appalling uses to which the doctrine has been put by the current administration. In addition to the el-Masri case* which he cites, the state secret defense was invoked in the case of Mr. Arar, a Canadian, who was also the victim of mistaken identity. He was arrested in New York while in transit between Egypt and Toronto, and suffered rendition to Syria where he was tortured. In Canada the case was subject to a full scale judicial inquiry which reported in September 2006 that Mr Arar had no connection to al-Qaeda and that Canadian and American officials were negligent in their duties. The American Government refused to cooperate in the inquiry -- what good neighbors we are.

The Congress must refine the legislation. Legislation that sets up a court where claimants could test the validity of the state secret defense would be useful -- as it is, judges just have to accept the Government's word. And we know what that is worth these days -- as perhaps it was in 1953 when the doctrine was first promulgated.

* He was seized by the CIA in Macedonia, held by the CIA for five months in a prison cell in Afghanistan to which he had been rendered, and when it was discovered that the CIA had the wrong man he was returned to Macedonia and dumped on the side of an abandoned road. Note that: dumped on the side of a road, not taken to a decent hotel, not fed and given clothes, and not given help in re-establishing his life. Who decided on this treatment. Was it just some insensitive lower level bureaucrat or did the decision emanate from the highest levels of the CIA?

Sent to New Yorker

Cape Employers

We never learn. This year hotel owners and restaurateurs on the Cape are facing the same problem as they did in previous years.

Mandy Knutson (letters, April 19: A8) suggested matching up Cape employers with unemployed Boston teenagers. I had a similar letter in the Globe in June of 2005; almost three years ago.

I also suggested: "that we start planning now for next year's summer. Let our high schools offer evening programs in waiting, bussing, and room cleaning - perhaps Boston's hotels and restaurateurs can offer experts to staff the courses and sites for students to practice. Then next year we will have a trained labor force ready to fill those dormitories on the Cape with willing and capable workers."

One criterion of an ineffective organization or society is that the same problems recur. Let's not have that happen again. This year let us do the necessary training so that next year we can balance supply and demand on the Cape.

Sent to Boston Globe