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Letters to the Editor for Sunday, November 5, 2006

European and Mideast editions

(EDITOR’S NOTE: These are the letters that appeared in each edition of Stripes on this publication date. Click here to jump ahead to the Pacific edition letters)

Where was the Kerry headline?

Whoever at Stars and Stripes decided not to put any headlines about John Kerry slamming the military on the front page of the Nov. 1 edition should be fired.

Let’s review what was on [my version of] the front page for that day: “AAFES seeks input on gas pricing policy”; “Sniper hunt” in Iraq; U.S. agrees to joint exercises with Russia; elephants can recognize themselves in the mirror; Army seeks GIs to become nurses; and finally, a study about the NBA ball behaving differently.

Stars and Stripes should feature news mostly about the military, but yet you chose to talk about elephants over John Kerry slamming the military. Then, you decided not to even mention this news on Page 3. It was on Page 9. So, it’s truly buried in that paper.

I understand you want to put different headlines on the paper, but a story like this over elephants is a no-brainer. I hope you make better decisions in the future.

Chief Warrant Officer 3 Mike Erickson
Mannheim, Germany

Democrats aren’t perfect

CNN, in an attempt to display its unbiased approach, shows a video of an insurgent killing an American soldier. Next, it has an ongoing piece called “Broken Government.”

In these journalistic attempts to portray “reality,” it has left out important aspects of each of these politically motivated pieces.

What it doesn’t portray in the first piece is that these insurgents would shoot and kill any non-Muslim and any Muslim who works with non-Muslims, not just Americans in Iraq. What CNN failed to show is that whether we confront the problem now or wait until another Sept. 11 happens, we would still be attacked again like we were attacked in the 1990s. Anderson Cooper plays the perfect dupe and airs the propaganda like it’s not his job to choose sides and root for the home team.

The only people it mentions as being corrupt are Republicans. What a crock. Harry Reid should have been censured for his real-estate scandal, Ted Kennedy should be in jail for a drunken-driving incident that resulted in the drowning death of a young woman riding with him, and Bill Clinton’s henchman, i.e., Sandy Berger, who sought to cover up his incompetence, should be locked up for taking top-secret archived information. Where was the hit piece on the broken government of Clinton?

What makes me smile is that, I think the Democrats and their allies — i.e. CNN, MSNBC, ABC, CBS — [soon] are going to be scratching their heads wondering why none of their hit pieces worked. Answer: The American people can see that, even though the Republicans have problems, the Democrats are not the solution.

Sgt. Ammon Cox
Tallil, Iraq

Keep monthly gas adjustment

With great satisfaction I saw “AAFES wants your thoughts on its gas pricing policy” (article, Nov. 1, European edition). The Army and Air Force Exchange Service is finally going to review how it determines the price of gas in Europe. My satisfaction quickly dropped when I read the first sentence that stated the only thing AAFES is looking at is how often it adjusts the price it charges in Germany.

My main problem is not how often it sets the price, it is how it sets the price in the first place. It could set the price hourly and it would still be overcharging.

It is not based on how much AAFES pays for gas in Europe (the wholesale price). The response to this is, if it charged the actual price for gas, those overseas would see their cost-of-living allowance go down. Clearly, AAFES has set a policy to artificially charge higher prices in Germany since taxpayers will pay the increased COLA. To its credit, a portion of these profits go to Morale, Welfare and Recreation. While this sounds like fraud, waste and abuse of tax dollars, I [would be] willing to concede if we were paying the same price as [those using AAFES U.S. stations].

My recommendation is to keep the monthly adjustment, but base it on how much AAFES charges at U.S. stations. Take the 45 cents it collects for taxes but does not pay and subtract the 17-cent dispensing cost. That would still give AAFES in Europe 28 cents’ profit over U.S. AAFES stations. Overseas prices would be closer to stateside prices and AAFES would still get an artificially higher profit.

Chris Kiser
Ramstein Air Base, Germany

Humane Society applauds article

The Humane Society of the United States appreciated “Troops warned that dealers are selling sick, dying puppies” (article, Oct. 30, European edition).

This is a serious problem both in the U.S. and abroad. The HSUS agrees that anyone contemplating buying a puppy must insist on meeting the breeder and also visiting the facility where the animal was born and raised. We encourage anyone considering buying a puppy to get further information on how to buy a healthy pet from a responsible breeder.

Kathleen Summers
Program assistant, puppy mills
The Humane Society of the United States
Washington, D.C.

Pacific edition

Not a military-only paper

I’ve been deployed to Iraq for 14½ months and always enjoy my read of Stars and Stripes when I can get it.

Stars and Stripes is a newspaper, not a military-only newspaper. “Why run article on gays?” (letter, Nov. 1), denouncing “Programs surfacing to help meet needs of aging gay population” (article, San Francisco Chronicle, Oct. 25 Stripes), is not only devoid of logic, but it bears the sting of homophobia.

Stars and Stripes runs hundreds of articles that focus on things that have nothing to do with the military. Some of those articles are about things that are incompatible with military service, such as crime, politics, drugs and a multitude of others. Why did the letter writer not denounce those articles as well? He writes: “Frankly, I am offended and view it as an attempt to push the homosexual agenda on the military population.” Does this mean that every time Stars and Stripes runs an article on something incompatible with military service, it is an attempt to push some deviant agenda onto its readership? Of course it doesn’t.

Stars and Stripes runs these articles because it is a newspaper, and these stories are news. As I recall, the “Don’t ask, don’t tell” policy, by virtue of its existence, allows that homosexuality is compatible with military service, as long as it is kept a secret and not practiced.

As for me, I’m an infantryman who has been in Iraq for a very long time. I like to read articles about things other than the Army, and I like to read articles about different people. This diversity and ability to be diverse are the quintessential American values that are the reason we have the armed forces. Cheers to you, Stars and Stripes!

First Lt. James R. Snoddy
Camp Taji, Baghdad

Keep monthly gas adjustment

With great satisfaction I saw “AAFES: How fast should gas prices adjust?” (article, Nov. 3). The Army and Air Force Exchange Service is finally going to review how it determines the price of gas. My satisfaction quickly dropped when I read the first sentence that stated the only thing AAFES is looking at is how often it adjusts the price it charges [overseas].

My main problem is not how often it sets the price, it is how it sets the price in the first place. It could set the price hourly and it would still be overcharging.

It is not based on how much AAFES pays for gas in Europe (the wholesale price). The response to this is, if it charged the actual price for gas, those overseas would see their cost-of-living allowance go down. Clearly, AAFES has set a policy to artificially charge higher prices [overseas] since taxpayers will pay the increased COLA. To its credit, a portion of these profits go to Morale, Welfare and Recreation. While this sounds like fraud, waste and abuse of tax dollars, I [would be] willing to concede if we were paying the same price as [those using AAFES U.S. stations].

My recommendation is to keep the monthly adjustment, but base it on how much AAFES charges at U.S. stations. Take the 45 cents it collects for taxes but does not pay and subtract the 17-cent dispensing cost. That would still give AAFES [overseas] 28 cents’ profit over U.S. AAFES stations. Overseas prices would be closer to stateside prices and AAFES would still get an artificially higher profit.

Chris Kiser
Ramstein Air Base, Germany

Another way on organ donation

The doctor’s radical proposal regarding suspending most organ transplant procedures (“‘Grey’s’ not far-fetched,” letter, Nov. 2) is interesting, but it won’t work, and he knows it, for the reasons he identified in his letter. Perhaps one needs to step outside the box of the medical profession to come up with a truly radical proposal.

I’m not a doctor, but I do know a little bit about market forces. If cheating occurs with regard to how high on the transplant list a given patient is, and socioeconomic biases exist, it is for one reason and one reason only: There are not enough organs available for transplant given the number of patients who could benefit from them. Proposing that most procedures be suspended until we solve the problem will not solve it — if anything, it will kick the socioeconomic bias into a higher gear.

A truly radical proposal would be to allow individuals to sell organs that are in demand for transplants. Now I’m not suggesting that any organs from any living person should be allowed to be sold. What I am suggesting is that $20,000 for a heart (or a kidney, or a couple of corneas) from someone who no longer needs them (because they are no longer with us) can be a powerful motivator for some surviving family members in some cases, and can increase the available supply of transplantable organs (which would be a step in the right direction to solve the problems the doctor identified).

I don’t think anyone would disagree that money talks (which is the driving force behind the socioeconomic), but with a little bit (OK, maybe a lot) of foresight and planning, perhaps we can get it to talk for the people who really need it, such as the surviving family members of the recently departed.

Jeffrey W. Haak
Bethesda, Md.


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