Letters to the Editor for Saturday, May 7, 2005


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)

Gas prices a ‘great deal’

I just wanted to comment on “Buying from ‘company store’” (letter, April 23): Although the Army and Air Force Exchange Service gets a deal on the prices it pays for a gallon for gas, it is still a company, and a company needs to make money to keep passing on the benefits to us. We are still getting a great deal on the prices we pay at the pump and on many other products that AAFES provides.

I bought gas in the Netherlands without any trouble. There is a nice little ESSO station in Den Haag that has an AAFES sign right in its parking lot, and it takes the super unleaded coupons without any trouble.

My father is visiting here from the States and he told me that all gasoline produced in Utah is from Western states’ crude oil and the prices of gas are about the same as AAFES charges here.

Yes, sometimes we feel we get ripped off because we don’t have any other choice. But, we are still getting better gas prices per gallon than the folks back home.

Pamela Swenson
Ramstein, Germany

Myth of the ‘liberal media’

During the “Golden Age of Broadcasting,” the Fairness Doctrine required broadcasters to cover controversial issues by offering the public balanced views. It lasted from 1949 until 1987 and was discontinued by President Reagan-appointed Federal Communications Commission commissioners. Several attempts were made to reinstate the doctrine but were vetoed by Presidents Reagan and George H.W. Bush.

The current President Bush appointed Michael Powell, son of Colin Powell, to head the FCC. Two days after Sept. 11, 2001, Powell moved to eliminate the few remaining restraints on media concentration. In 1983, 50 corporations controlled the majority of all news media in the United States. Today only six do: Time Warner, Disney, archconservative Rupert Murdoch’s News Corp. (Fox’s parent company), Bertelsmann, Viacom and General Electric Co.

These corporations have been a major force in creating and promoting conservative and far-right politics, stateside and on U.S. bases abroad. They are the means by which the United States began its generational commitment to “democratize” the oil/natural gas-producing/transporting nations. Unlike National Public Radio and the Public Broadcasting System, which are partially publicly funded, these are money-driven corporations. They are heavily invested in the defense industry and are lobbying for permanent tax cuts. It should be obvious how these conflicts of interest interfere with news-gathering and reporting.

Media consolidation is how “liberal” morphed into America’s deleted-expletive-du-jour, adding to the litany of “Made in America” pejoratives associated with race, creed, color, etc. It’s how “the liberal media” became America’s most cherished myth, followed by “Saddam is responsible for Sept. 11.” It’s how our country became mired in a chasm of international aggression and domestic deterioration, as discussed before the House of Representatives last month.

Before you dismiss this discussion as just one more “liberal anti-military filth kook-theory scare-the-people diatribal spew,” note that [among those furthering] the discussion [is] Ron Paul, a heterosexual white “family values/pro-life” Republican Air Force veteran/congressman from Texas. I wonder why his speeches, available on his congressional Web site, aren’t being broadcast on American Forces Radio?

Michele Winter
Würzburg, Germany

Can’t ignore evolution

Once again a letter from a religious person who fails to practice what he preaches (“It’s about what you believe,” April 25): “If you think you came from an animal, then you will act like an animal, i.e., shootings in schools by kids who don’t have hope.”

Thank you for judging me.

It’s very ironic that the author blames violence on those who do not have God in their heart. He referenced the Book of Genesis but failed to mention that in that same book God killed every living thing on the planet (except for Noah and his floating zoo). In Exodus 2:12, Moses kills an Egyptian and hides him in the sand.

I guess they both just ran out of hope.

As for creationism, it exists only for religious, not scientific, purposes. Creationism teaches the magical creation of life in which all humans are related to two white people. Creationists do almost no scientific research. Most, if not all, of their work involves trying to debunk evolution.

There are two observations associated with evolution that cannot be ignored:

  • Living things come only from living things. Spontaneous generation is not possible when living things are already in existence.
  • Fossil remains show that living things in the remote past were very different from living things today.

Finally, here is the Declaration of Belief from the Institute for Creation Research: “The creation account is accepted as factual, historical, and perspicuous, and is thus foundational to the understanding of every fact and phenomenon in the created universe. Theories of origins and development which involve ‘evolution’ in any form are thus recognized as false and sterile intellectually.”

Reminds me of the Catholic Church accusing Galileo of being a heretic for believing in all that “sciency stuff.” Yeah, that worked out well.

Tech. Sgt. Mark Mastrorocco
Naples, Italy

Pacific edition

Seabees fit to fight in Iraq

The May 2 article “Unprepared for Combat?” contains some inaccuracies on which I would like to comment.

First, according to the official Departemnt of Defense casualty reporting Web site, as of April 23, there were 30 confirmed Navy members killed in Operation Iraqi Freedom — not 37, as the story reports. Ten of those Navy members killed were Seabees. Now that is only a third overall, but when compared to the other 20 personnel, all of whom represent different naval communities (shipboard, aviation, security, Special Warfare, medical, etc.) I think it is clear to see who is closest to the action in greater numbers — and thereby more likely to become casualties, regardless of prior combat training.

I cannot comment on Air Force, Coast Guard or other naval personnel’s combat training, but I can tell you that after doing three tours with Naval Mobile Construction Battalions, the Seabees in Iraq, Afghanistan and every other corner of the world are doing exactly “what they signed up for" and they are doing it with the best equipment and training as possible and as applicable to our unique mission.

I do not think Seabees are getting killed due to “less training than military personnel who normally perform those missions.” Last I heard the Seabees are in Iraq and elsewhere because no other military engineering unit in the DOD can do what we do and have done since 1942!

Seabees have two jobs — build and fight. This has not changed since our inception during World War II. Every Seabee, regardless of being active or reserve, gets continual defensive combat training throughout his or her career. Will any amount of combat training (offensive, defensive or otherwise) prepare our troops for every event encountered in a war zone? No.

Is every military member in a war zone a potential target regardless of his or her job? Yes. Give additional training to those going in harm’s way who really need it. The Seabees can hold their own: Just ask the Marines.

Petty Officer 1st Class Thomas D. Andrus
Naval Air Facility Atsugi, Japan

Nothing newsworthy there?

This is in response to “‘Roundup’ ignores territories” (letter, April 26).

The letter writer said that the U.S. territories are being ignored. Well, did you ever think that there just may not be anything happening there worth reporting?

The territories the writer mentioned have a total combined population of under 4 million people. That’s less than Brooklyn, N.Y. Not only that, the territories of Midway Island, Wake Island and Johnston Atoll have no inhabitants at all, excluding the military and contractors assigned there. Do these territories even have a news source to get any information from?

So, in all fairness to Stars and Stripes, there has to be something newsworthy before it can be reported.

Ann Saunders
Kitzingen, Germany

Voters got what they asked for

I had a drill sergeant in basic training who would make us say, as we did the dying cockroach or squat thrusts, “I brought this [stuff] upon myself.”

Let’s address those commanders complaining about reduced training budgets who voted for an administration insistent on cutting taxes while waging expensive operations in Afghanistan and Iraq. Let’s speak to those complaining about second and third rotations to Iraq who voted for an administration that resisted expansion of the military while alienating allies in Europe. What about those families who pine over reduced base services who voted for a president intent on ensuring that chief executive officers continue to receive millions at reduced tax rates while cutting work forces and shifting operations overseas.

Finally, to those complaining about high gas prices who voted for an administration whose main energy policy goals included squeezing a few million barrels of oil out of Alaska while encouraging Americans to continue to commute from the suburbs in their SUVs, repeat after me: “I brought this [stuff] upon myself.”

James Danielson
Osan Air Base, South Korea

GIs’ postwar help appreciated

Finding the “Stripes archives” pages on the Internet recently has brought back a flood of good, memorable images of servicemembers and dependents attached to the U.S. military community in Frankfurt, West Germany, during the Cold War years of 1945 to 1952.

I want to commend the fine, informative service Stripes provided then, and continues to do after all these years.

More importantly, though, I’d like to extend a heartfelt “thank you” to the hundreds, perhaps thousands, of American GIs and dependents who served in Frankfurt’s Gibbs Kaserne during those difficult reconstruction years, still, taking the time to befriend a young, impressionable 10-year-old German shoeshine boy. I am most grateful. The contribution that these fine young Americans left behind for my generation of Germans is immeasurable.

Now 67 years old, a proud Canadian citizen, I continue to maintain contact with and visit many of these great American veterans. Stars and Stripes made my day. Thank you.

Eduard Witzmann

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