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Proud To Have Served
Each year about this time, I get goose bumps just thinking about my service in the military. Protecting our freedom is not free.
I know. I made it home safely after serving in the Persian Gulf War, spending four months in Combat Operation Restore Hope, Somalia during Desert Shield/Desert Storm.
Not everyone can serve in the military. For 28 years, the Navy was good to me and my family. I remember your letters, getting local newspapers overseas, and those famous chocolate chip cookies my sister made and sent. They were a touch of home. Continue to pray for other service men and women from Susquehanna County.
Please contact your local VFW or American Legion to ask how you can help support their efforts supporting our very own.
Ray G. Osburn,
Command Master Chief (ret)
United States Navy
Some Questions To Answer
After reading an article in the October 12 issue of The Weekly Almanac, and noticing that Mr. Paul Everett appeared to have numerous comments at the Starrucca Borough Council meeting held on October 4, it came to mind that perhaps Mr. Everett could answer some or all of the following questions.
Mr. Everett, what is the litigation the 2006 council is facing? Did you review the litigation when you met the Starrucca Borough solicitor, Ron Bujag, in May, 2006 or in a telephone conversation in October, 2006?
Are you referring to any litigation while you served on council in 2003-2005, Paul Everett? If so, why didn’t you refer it to the borough solicitor at that time? Should this alleged litigation be the 2006 council’s responsibility to be addressed?
Mr. Everett, what are the possible legal issues anyone would face serving as mayor and working with council?
It is my understanding that the borough solicitor, Ron Bujag, sent a letter to you, M. Everett, asking you to set a meeting night to review information you could offer to him and to Starrucca Borough Council. Why haven’t you honored his request?
Mr. Everett, you indicate that the 2006 council isn’t working for the borough as a whole. Why haven’t you brought these issues to council’s attention?
Also, Mr. Everett, what issues did you address as a prior council member? Was the road work from Ivan, in September, 2004 and April, 2005 completed while under your watchful eye?
According to borough solicitor Ron Bujag, and me, it is our understanding that moneys applied for the Shadigee Creek Wall project was not eligible funding. Why was that, Mr. Everett? Was this applied for through FEMA? Did you use legal advice throughout the whole wall project? If so, what was the legal advice, Mr. Everett?
Please come to the next council meeting to start resolving both past and current borough issues.
Thank you for your personal concern for all of Starrucca Borough.
Should The Hospital Suffer?
In his column last week, P. Jay Amadio states, “Barnes-Kasson is no different than half the hospitals across the nation.” He further states, “We do not – or at least should not – condemn a facility that has been providing medical treatment to many, many people for more that 100 years.” I agree that the facility should not be condemned, but what of a management system, which has their own interests above that of the facility they run?
In two recent $900 million federal lawsuits by the government against Tenent and St. Barbara’s for allegedly inflated cost-to-charge ratios triggering higher Medical outlier payment issues, an unlikely whistleblower, Peter Salvatori stands to split a whistleblower’s fee of approximately $200 million. Mr. Salvatori, a casket salesman’s only visible connection to the case? He is married to Amy Foley, the daughter of John Foley, a healthcare financial consultant and managing director of Parente Randolph. Parente Randolph performs the audits for Barnes-Kasson Hospital. Now the plot thickens.
Who is Mr. Salvatori splitting the $200 million with? You guessed it, Sara Iveson, the Executive Director of Barnes-Kasson. It would seem strange to me that someone who would have no knowledge of the alleged Medicare overages except through work product, would bring suit benefiting only herself and not include the hospital. Meanwhile Sara Iveson has set herself up for a tidy retirement, while the 300 employees have their retirement benefits from the hospital halted.
According to the bond agreement with the county, the Board of Directors of B-K, on which Commissioner Kelly holds a seat, may be directed to hire an outside consulting firm to review their financial affairs. This the board has voted to do. However, the hospital’s financial woes make it difficult to find a firm that will accept the job without payment up front.
I have heard from sources close to the situation that while the three default payments have been made to the county, B-K’s board has requested that a waiver be granted relating to the default of the last two years’ financial reports. Commissioners Loomis and Warren appear to be adamant, however in holding the hospital to its agreements. I applaud these two commissioners for their diligence and resolve in keeping with the county’s interests.
Finally, Commissioner Kelly stated that a full report would be given to the county after the meeting with all principals. That meeting having occurred, I will be at the commissioners’ meeting on November 8 to ask for the report.
Write A Book
Hey, Bob Scroggins! (My opinion) ever think about writing a book? No, I don’t read your “letters to the editor,” only twice, but seeing your name is enough. Try it, you might become famous. Right now, you’re just boring and taking up space.
New Milford, PA
Juba: One Shot - One Kill
He lay there for hours, undetected, not moving, as still as the rubble that covered him. Some distance away a Humvee pulled to a stop. Boots got out. One lit a cigarette and took an easy drag. Suddenly, he crumpled. One quarter of a second later, before his body hit the ground, the distinctive craaack of a Dragunov sniper rifle rang out. The bullet traveled 2.6 times faster than the speed of sound. The young Marine never knew what hit him.
Immediately search teams were deployed. Hours later they found the sniper's nest and his calling card. A single rifle casing atop a handwritten note in Arabic: "What has been taken in blood cannot be regained except by blood." It was signed, "The Baghdad Sniper." It was Juba, the name given to the sniper by U.S. troops. The note and casing were found 650 feet from the fatally shot Marine – more than the length of two football fields. The Dragunov is accurate to more than twice that distance.
"He's good," said Specialist Travis Burress, 22, a Marine sniper. "Every time we dismount I'm sure everyone has got him in the back of their minds. He's a serious threat to us."
Juba does not just shoot at a soldier, he aims at the seams between his body armor. His body count of between 100 and 140 victims mark him as a high-priority target. Jack Coughlin, a former Marine sniper said one good sniper can strike fear in an entire military unit. "It's the fear of the unknown," he said. "You don't know if you're going to be next. You don't know where you're going to get hit."
Juba is as elusive as Bigfoot and as ephemeral as a phantom – one shot, never more, and he's gone. Sometimes he works with a video cameraman who documents his hits. These videos have made their way to Al Jazerra – the Iraqi TV station – and street markets, and recently to CNN. To many Iraqis he is a hero, killing only the occupiers, not other nationals. To coalition forces he's an ever-present threat, sapping the morale of every soldier out on patrol.
In a larger sense, Juba is a sign of the growing sophistication of the insurgents. No longer just malcontents and criminals taking occasional potshots at Marines, but highly-skilled marksmen (Juba may be more than just one sniper). Roadside bombs are no longer just cobbled together artillery shells, but packets of the more powerful military explosive, semtex. The RPGs may not only be armed with ordinary explosive warheads, but with shaped charges capable of penetrating a Humvee or a Bradley. The insurgents, themselves, show signs of leadership and organization, changing targets and locations to whatever and wherever they deem to be advantageous.
And just how is the administration adapting to the tactics of the insurgents? The construction of the $1.3 billion United States Embassy in Iraq gives some insight. The compound is being constructed with the future in mind. It will be circled by a 15-foot high blast wall mounted with guard towers, ground-to-air missiles, and the main building will have bunkers for use during air offensives. The embassy presents a very different prognosis than the upbeat outlook doled out to the American public.
The "George W palace," as the locals call it, also points to where true power and authority shall reside for years to come. The blast wall encompasses 104 acres generously "transferred" by the Iraqi government to the U.S. It will be the largest embassy in the world requiring a staff of 8,000, eight times larger than the present one. The enclosure, resembling a 13th Century fortified village, will be a completely self-contained command post in the heart of Iraq.
Meanwhile, American fatalities accelerate: July 43, August 65, September 71, and October 100. The total number of KIA 2,812 and WIA is 21,077 (as of October 30).
The number of Iraqis killed during this period (2003 to present) is estimated to be between 400,000 and 900,000. This statistic is based on a study undertaken by the Johns Hopkins School of Public Health and published in the Lancet, England's premier, peer-review medical journal. The president of Zogby Polling, John Zogby said, "I can't vouch for it 100 percent, But I'll vouch for it 95 percent, which is as good as it gets in survey research." President Bush dismissed the findings: "[T]hey guessed. [I]t's not credible."
Today in Iraq, as in the past three-and-a-half years, the sounds of slaughter reverberate: the occasional roar of a car bomb or is it a roadside bomb, the rapid rattle of machine guns, the pop-pop-pop of small arms; and among these the sharp craaack of a rifle and its inevitable consequence.
New Milford, PA
TO THE EDITOR POLICY
Thank you, Susquehanna County Transcript
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