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America's hired guns in Iraq


Fri, Apr 13th, 2007
Posted in Commentary

Mercenary - a person who takes part in an armed conflict and is motivated to take part in the hostilities essentially by the desire for private gain.

As a young student studying the United States War of Independence I remember having a particular disdain for the Hessian mercenaries who fought for the British against our fore bearers. You might remember them, they were German mercenaries, about 30,000 of them and they constituted almost a third of the English forces facing George Washington and the Continental Army.

There was just something wrong with the idea of being paid to fight in some war they didn't even believe in, to kill other human beings for money. Even at the tender age of twelve my moral compass was offended by that idea. Surely we (USA) would never resort to that type of moral bankruptcy. Guess again!!

President George W. Bush in his January 2007 State of the Union speech talked about a major initiative that would represent a significant development in the war - a Civilian Reserve Corps. "Such a corps would function much like our military Reserve. It would ease the burden on the armed forces by allowing us to hire civilians with critical skills to serve on missions abroad when America needs them," Bush said.

Ah, but what is really disturbing is that we already have hired "civilians with critical skills to serve" much to the consternation of our military leaders. Our tax dollars are already paying for the outsourcing of violence in Iraq or as some put it, the "privatization" of the war. Sound familiar? You know, the now old Neo-Con babble that privatizing anything is a good thing, social security, schools, killing. It's all the same. Right?

According to a Government Accountability Report there are already 48,000 "private soldiers" working in Iraq. Some making $1000 per day.

Mercenaries!

These guns for hire are recruited in the US, South Africa, Chile and other countries as well. Besides the repugnance of killing for money there are some other very real downsides to the use of mercenaries.

• Mercenaries are not accountable to any law, the Geneva Convention or the type of chain of command often associated with regular armies.

• It's in the interest of mercenaries and the firms they work for, to keep Iraq in a constant state of war since their work is for money not our national interests. Their main goals may be diametrically opposed to our own military goals.
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99 bottles of beer in the ditch

Fri, Apr 6th, 2007
Posted in Commentary



Ahhh...must be spring in the Root River Valley...flood warnings, chocolate brown water cascading over the Lanesboro Dam, and beer cans leaving a trail in the ditch as if I were Gretel following them home. And by the way, on my last count the ..... 
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Who was the real fool on April 1?

Fri, Mar 30th, 2007
Posted in Commentary

Last week as I was checking my emails I came across an article The Old Farmer's Almanac had sent dealing with April Fools' Day. Reading the article, I was instantly transported back nearly 50 years ago when I was a pre-schooler playing on the sidewa ..... 
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In New Orleans, injustice and disaster team up to make recovery difficult

Fri, Mar 23rd, 2007
Posted in Commentary

Editor's note: The author spent a week in February as a volunteer working with the Unitarian Universalist Service Committee (UUSC), a non-governmental organization, working with disenfranchised populations in New Orleans.



"A societ ..... 
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Politicians and scientists should try a loveless marriage

Fri, Mar 9th, 2007
Posted in Commentary

The current administration has been, according to observers grounded in science, the most hostile and dismissive administration toward science and scientists ever. The Union of Concerned Scientists has catalogued the egregious episodes of ideologica ..... 
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It's time for Cheney to resign

Fri, Mar 9th, 2007
Posted in Commentary

It is time for Dick Cheney to resign his post and stand down as vice president. He is not fit to serve as the second highest official in the land, a mere heartbeat away from the presidency.

The trial of Cheney's chief of staff Lewis "Scooter ..... 
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Common Ground

Fri, Feb 23rd, 2007
Posted in Commentary



Let's face it - right now on the issue of global warming - there is going to be disagreement. There are people who don't believe that it is happening or that it is caused by human activity and there are the people who agree that global warmi ..... 
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The pause that refreshes *

Fri, Feb 16th, 2007
Posted in Commentary

Our Root River has put up with a lot. One hundred and forty years ago when my great grandfather settled here, he perched a log cabin on the river's edge and built a mill. We've not let the river alone since: we've straightened it then twisted it, dr ..... 
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A flower has more rights than a landowner

Fri, Feb 16th, 2007
Posted in Commentary

I am one of two property owners who has not agreed to sell my land for the Forestville Trail.

On Tuesday night, the Preston City Council may begin discussing whether to use eminent domain to acquire 2 1/2 acres that I own five miles away fr ..... 
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