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A Unique Man
As a proud native of Susquehanna and a graduate of Oakland High School Class of 1952, I have many fond memories of my youth growing up in this small all American town; none more memorable than that of Ira Reynolds, my teacher and mentor. I was delighted and amazed to learn of Ira's continued longevity, now 108 years young! Many, many years ago when Ira was the scout master of Troop 81, I was one of the many boys he guided and schooled in the skills and values of scouting. Ira taught us many things, not the least of which was my delight in learning how to tie a square knot correctly, and how to display the American flag properly, a skill that seems lost in today's secular world. Most of all however, Ira taught and emphasized the values of personal honor, duty and love of country. (I still carry with me the memory of the Boy Scout oath: "On my honor, I'll do my best: To do my duty to God and my country....") He is a unique man and a patriot in the true historical sense. I join with many others who have had the personal privilege of knowing you Ira, in simply saying thanks. God bless you.
Professor Richard E. French (Ret.)
The Long And Winding Road To Yemen
Yemen: the most bedeviled nation on earth. Its only export of significance is a negligible amount of oil and its oil reserves are dwindling. The average income of $1.50 a day is shaved under crushing inflation and siphoned away through endemic corruption. The nation is torn apart by warring Muslim sects and an ongoing 15-year civil war between the North and the South. It is 97 percent desert, little more than a California-sized sandbox, but it is the most strategically important sandbox on the planet.
Like the two carotid arteries on either side of the neck that carry oxygen to the brain, 50 percent of the world's supply of petroleum passes through two chokepoints. On the East side of the Arabian peninsular, it is the Strait of Hormus. Iran is crucially located to disrupt this artery. On the West side of the peninsular, it is the Strait of Bab-el-Mandeb. Here it is Yemen that holds the key position to this waterway.
Of these two oil corridors, the Iranian route bears most of the traffic, but the government of Yemen is by far the most unstable and that makes the Yemeni passageway the more vulnerable.
It is this instability that makes Yemen a fertile ground for anti-U.S. organizations, principally, al Qaeda. It can align itself with almost any faction: the Shiites or Sunnies, the North or the South civil war antagonists, or the entire improvised mass of 23 million.
The tortuous journey to Yemen began in 2001. According to then President George Bush, God told him, "George, go and fight these terrorists in Afghanistan.” And he did.
Two years later, President Bush received another heavenly edict. “God told me to end tyranny in Iraq.” The U.S. made a U-turn to Iraq.
But once again, the U.S. focus of operations had to do an about-face back to Afghanistan. This time not because of a divine mandate but because of political necessity.
We're in Afghanistan because, like Iraq, it is the worse for our presence. Al Qaeda had slipped away into neighboring Pakistan and we are left supporting a puppet government that is corrupt, incompetent, unpopular, and fragile. Without the U.S. military, the Karzai government could crumble and be taken over by Muslim extremists. We have been drawn into the interminable task of nation building.
And al Qaeda? It found a safe haven in Pakistan. The Pakistani government does not permit foreign troops on its soil. But the U.S. has what it believes is the ideal solution to pursue al Qaeda: unmanned aircraft, drones.
Drones can be armed with Hellfire missiles or 500-pound bombs. The military can fire these weapons in complete safety. But for those on the receiving end of a quarter-ton bomb, the picture is not so rosy. Even if accurately aimed, the explosive power of these weapons is bound to kill civilians. And that is exactly what happened in Pakistan.
More than 700 people were killed by drone strikes in the last three years. According to Pakistani authorities, the vast majority were civilians.
But on Christmas day, the centerstage of U.S. operations was to change for the fourth time. Enter the skivvies bomber.
A Nigerian devout Muslim with less than three ounces of explosives sewn into his underwear by al Qaeda leaders planned to blow up an American passenger jet. It was in retaliation, he said, for a December 21 bombing in Yemen.
In that attack, two cruise missiles, each carrying 1,000-pounds of high explosives, killed 23 children and 17 women, according to a local Yemeni official.
Fortunately, the bomber's device failed. But the connection between the foiled terrorist and al Qaeda was clear and so was the president's reaction.
Mr. Obama pledged to “defeat the violent extremists who threaten us.” All well and good, Mr. President. But exactly who are the “violent extremists?”
New Milford, PA
Never Before Seen
The Senate has accomplished the passage of the Health Care Bill. Never before in our history has the wanton behind door dealings, or the open bribes to members of the Senate been seen. The so-called protection for citizens who feel abortion is immoral is non existent. To make us pay for abortion is totally unacceptable to all people of conscience. Even those who favor abortion agree it is not right to make those of us who believe it is the death of an innocent child should be mandated to pay for the procedure.
The underhand deals and the ramming of a bill down the throats of Americans defies all reason and our Constitution. The bill will now return to the House. I urge all people who find this take over of our government and shameful refusal to respect citizen's consciences to call our representative Chris Carney and tell him so. Getting through to the Washington office (202-225-3731) is almost impossible but I recommend you try. Rep. Carney also has a toll free number (1-866-846-8124) where your voice can be heard.
We (Susquehanna County Library Board of Directors) welcome all feedback on the cuts we've had to make to our services, which continue to be a work in progress. We are doing our best to apply all cuts fairly across the board. Every employee's hours (and pay) were cut by 10% at every location. Each branch has one full-time and two part-time employees, resulting in a reduction of the hours of operation to 32 per week per branch. We were going to revisit the schedule in any case, as it was decided to try these operating hours for a month to see how it went. The three branch librarians gave their input, initially recommending that the hours be uniform between branches and choosing the schedule based on patterns of use and what they perceived the community needs to be. We are very open to changing the schedules.
The Board of Directors would like to clarify some issues raised in the letter to the editor. The ultimate goal of all decisions made about the budget cuts is to preserve crucial services and programs to all county residents without jeopardizing the financial future of the organization. There is no desire or intention to close any branches. Please help us in fighting these rumors!
The new library project is financially a completely separate entity from the operating budget, so we are not able to reallocate funds. When it eventually comes to fruition, which may be a long way off in this economic climate, it will not replace any branches. Instead it will enable the many centralized services which benefit the branches and the communities with no library - like Outreach Services, item ordering and processing, technical support, personnel, and much more - to be expanded and administered more efficiently for all residents.
We deeply appreciate the outpouring of support our libraries have received and everyone's patience during this very frustrating and challenging time. When our major funding sources rebound, restoring hours and removing the DVD fee are our first priorities.
President Susquehanna County Historical Society & Free Library Association Board of Directors
The Trojan Horse
I read recently that the esteemed representative to Congress, Chris Carney, secured a $300,000 Federal grant for our Montrose library project. How very nice. Little does it matter that the US government borrows, mostly from the Chinese, half of the money it spends. So, $150,000 would be added to the deficit, to be paid by our children directly plus indirectly through increased interest payments to China and others on our debt, not to mention the increased danger of default or downgrade of our nation’s credit rating. I don’t know about you but I think that we can pay for the library ourselves, thank you. We are sitting on one of the highest quality formations of natural gas in the Mid-Atlantic and there are many millionaires in the making in Susquehanna County. All we have to do is be a little patient and we’ll get’er done. I, along with many others, am fulfilling my pledge to the library fund and Kim Harwood advised me over the summer that a million dollars has been already raised.
Two additional problems with this grant. While Congressman Carney may view himself as bringing home the bacon, he is actually bringing home the pork. Pork is a corrupting force used by politicians to ingratiate themselves with the voters and therefore increase the likelihood of re-election. Pork is what you saw in the vote buying process surrounding Senator Ben Nelson of Nebraska’s healthcare vote. Remember, your pork comes out of someone else’s rump. Where is our shame? The budget is ballooning out of control and cutting out the pork is a small measure in regaining budgetary control and reducing Congressional corruption. “A journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step,” attributed to Confucius.
I am thrilled that Kim Harwood has a long memory and helpful friends like librarian Susan Stone who were instrumental in his rejection of this pork. Pork like this is the Trojan Horse that leads the unwary into ballooning construction costs and government interference. I would also prefer that Congressman Carney honor his oath of office at least to the extent that he refrain from “fundamentally transforming the United States of America” (candidate Obama speaking on Oct 31, 2008).
Does anyone know how much the government will have to say about our hospital now that the Federal camel has his nose under the tent?
Elk Lake, PA
TO THE EDITOR POLICY
Thank you, Susquehanna County Transcript
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