7/02/2007

Things That Matter



Measure S. 1315, "Veterans' Benefits Enhancement Act of 2007"

The Honolulu Star Bulletin reports: "Equity provisions for Filipino vets were included in the Veterans' Benefits Enhancement Act of 2007, which was passed out of the Senate Committee on Veterans' Affairs yesterday (6/27/2007), Hawaii's senators announced yesterday....Roughly 120,000 Filipinos were drafted in 1941 to serve alongside U.S. forces in defending the Philippines -- an American commonwealth at the time -- during World War II. Those Filipinos were promised the same veterans' benefits as American servicemen, but Congress rescinded the pledge in 1946, when the Philippines gained independence."

It's been a long struggle to gain the promised benefits to these vets. Many have passed on. Many children and grandchildren still work to gain recognition for their fathers and grandfathers. About 18,000 vets still live, wait, hope, pray that the right thing will be done. I hope the wait will be over soon.

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House Resolution 121 passed by the House Foreign Affairs Committee on Capitol Hill in Washington, Tuesday, June 26, 2007

House Speaker Pelosi states: "Today, the House Foreign Affairs Committee made a strong statement in support of human rights by passing a resolution in support of the comfort women, who were coerced into sexual slavery by the Japanese Imperial Armed Forces during the World War II era...Out of 200,000 women that were exploited as comfort women by the Japanese Imperial Army, only a few hundred are still alive. This resolution calls on the government of Japan to accept responsibility for the coercion of young women into sexual slavery during the war by making an unambiguous statement of apology."

A significant step forward for this movement to gain recognition and reparations for this group of women who have suffered so much for such a long time. I am hopeful that this means we are becoming a society that will not tolerate the abuse of civilians, especially women and children, during time of war.

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How Antonio Taguba, who investigated the Abu Ghraib scandal, became one of its casualties.

"From the moment a soldier enlists, we inculcate loyalty, duty, honor, integrity, and selfless service,” Taguba said. “And yet when we get to the senior-officer level we forget those values. I know that my peers in the Army will be mad at me for speaking out, but the fact is that we violated the laws of land warfare in Abu Ghraib. We violated the tenets of the Geneva Convention. We violated our own principles and we violated the core of our military values. The stress of combat is not an excuse, and I believe, even today, that those civilian and military leaders responsible should be held accountable.”

I would have liked to have seen him at his June 25 speech to the San Francisco Commonwealth Club. I hear that the audience was packed and that Taguba does not see himself as a hero, just a soldier who got fired for doing his job.

Angry. Frustrated. Jaded. These words do not begin to describe how I feel about this, especially given today's news of Scooter's Escape

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Roy was a friend who believed in smiling, in encouraging others, in community. He's gone now. We know he is gone. And we, the living, are left to remember.

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Finally, this small thing...

100 Poets @ Greenlake

From the Poetess of Greenlake: "Here they are, the poems (by 100 local living authors) printed on t-shirts and put onto unsuspecting runners running around Green Lake (Seattle, WA) on Sunday 10 June 2007."

My hay(na)ku, Charm Against Headaches, ran around (or was run around?) Greenlake, one of my childhood haunts. Hanging with 99 other NW poets, even from T-shirts, is a cool, cool thing.

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