Letters 10-24-2016

It’s Obama’s 1984 Several editions ago I concluded a short letter to the editor with an ominous rhetorical flourish: “Welcome to George Orwell’s 1984 and the grand opening of the Federal Department of Truth!” At the time I am sure most of the readers laughed off my comments as right-wing hyperbole. Shame on you for doubting me...

Gun Bans Don’t Work It is said that mass violence only happens in the USA. A lone gunman in a rubber boat, drifted ashore at a popular resort in Tunisia and randomly shot and killed 38 mostly British and Irish tourists. Tunisian gun laws, which are among the most restrictive in the world, didn’t stop this mass slaughter. And in January 2015, two armed men killed 11 and wounded 11 others in an attack on the French satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo. French gun laws didn’t stop these assassins...

Scripps’ Good Deed No good deed shall go unpunished! When Dan Scripps was the 101st District State Representative, he introduced legislation to prevent corporations from contaminating (e.g. fracking) or depleting (e.g. Nestle) Michigan’s water table for corporate profit. There are no property lines in the water table, and many of us depend on private wells for abundant, safe, clean water. In the subsequent election, Dan’s opponents ran a negative campaign almost solely on the misrepresentation that Dan’s good deed was a government takeover of your private water well...

Political Definitions As the time to vote draws near it’s a good time to check into what you stand for. According to Dictionary.com the meanings for liberal and conservative are as follows:

Liberal: Favorable to progress or reform as in political or religious affairs.

Conservative: Disposed to preserve existing conditions, institutions, etc., or to restore traditions and limit change...

Voting Takes A Month? Hurricane Matthew hit the Florida coast Oct. 6, over three weeks before Election Day. Bob Ross (Oct. 17th issue) posits that perhaps evacuation orders from Governor Scott may have had political motivations to diminish turnout and seems to praise Hillary Clinton’s call for Gov. Scott to extend Florida’s voter registration deadline due to evacuations...

Clinton Foundation Facts Does the Clinton Foundation really spend a mere 10 percent (per Mike Pence) or 20 percent (per Reince Priebus) of its money on charity? Not true. Charity Watch gives it an A rating (the same as it gives the NRA Foundation) and says it spends 88 percent on charitable causes, and 12 percent on overhead. Here is the source of the misunderstanding: The Foundation does give only a small percentage of its money to charitable organizations, but it spends far more money directly running a number of programs...

America Needs Change Trump supports our constitution, will appoint judges that will keep our freedoms safe. He supports the partial-birth ban; Hillary voted against it. Regardless of how you feel about Trump, critical issues are at stake. Trump will increase national security, monitor refugee admissions, endorse our vital military forces while fighting ISIS. Vice-presidential candidate Mike Pence will be an intelligent asset for the country. Hillary wants open borders, increased government regulation, and more demilitarization at a time when we need strong military defenses...

My Process For No I will be voting “no” on Prop 3 because I am supportive of the process that is in place to review and approve developments. I was on the Traverse City Planning Commission in the 1990s and gained an appreciation for all of the work that goes into a review. The staff reviews the project and makes a recommendation. The developer then makes a presentation, and fellow commissioners and the public can ask questions and make comments. By the end of the process, I knew how to vote for a project, up or down. This process then repeats itself at the City Commission...

Regarding Your Postcard If you received a “Vote No” postcard from StandUp TC, don’t believe their lies. Prop 3 is not illegal. It won’t cost city taxpayers thousands of dollars in legal bills or special elections. Prop 3 is about protecting our downtown -- not Munson, NMC or the Commons -- from a future of ugly skyscrapers that will diminish the very character of our downtown...

Vote Yes It has been suggested that a recall or re-election of current city staff and Traverse City Commission would work better than Prop 3. I disagree. A recall campaign is the most divisive, costly type of election possible. Prop 3, when passed, will allow all city residents an opportunity to vote on any proposed development over 60 feet tall at no cost to the taxpayer...

Yes Vote Explained A “yes” vote on Prop 3 will give Traverse City the right to vote on developments over 60 feet high. It doesn’t require votes on every future building, as incorrectly stated by a previous letter writer. If referendums are held during general elections, taxpayers pay nothing...

Beware Trump When the country you love have have served for 33 years is threatened, you have an obligation and a duty to speak out. Now is the time for all Americans to speak out against a possible Donald Trump presidency. During the past year Trump has been exposed as a pathological liar, a demagogue and a person who is totally unfit to assume the presidency of our already great country...

Picture Worth 1,000 Words Nobody disagrees with the need for affordable housing or that a certain level of density is dollar smart for TC. The issue is the proposed solution. If you haven’t already seen the architect’s rendition for the site, please Google “Pine Street Development Traverse City”...

Living Wage, Not Tall Buildings Our community deserves better than the StandUp TC “vote no” arguments. They are not truthful. Their yard signs say: “More Housing. Less Red Tape. Vote like you want your kids to live here.” The truth: More housing, but for whom? At what price..

Home · Articles · News · Features · Roadside Bombs
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Roadside Bombs

Robert Downes - August 25th, 2005
Adrian Butler of Detroit, Eric Burri of Wyoming, and Stephen Frank of Lansing probably never knew each other, but all had something in common. All three Michigan soldiers were killed by roadside bombs while on the front lines of Operation Iraqi Freedom.
And they were hardly alone among fallen soldiers in Iraq. Of the 54 Michigan soldiers who have died in the war over the past two years, 20 have been victims of roadside bombs, suicide bombs and improvised explosive devices (IED) against which there is little defense.
For Army Spc. Adrian J. Butler, 28, death came on July 27 when an IED detonated near his HumVee while on patrol in the town of Ashraf.
Spc. Eric T. Burri, 21, died on June 7 when a homemade bomb exploded near his vehicle in Baghdad.
Capt. Stephen W. Frank, 29, was in Diyarah on April 29 when he was killed by a bomb detonated in a car passing through his traffic checkpoint.
These and the details of other fatalities among Michigan soldiers are chronicled “Michigan’s Fallen Soldiers” on www.detroit.about.com. It’s a running total of fatalities which reveals that approximately 40% of Michigan casualties in Iraq have been victims of some form of a roadside bomb or suicide bomber.

“These kinds of bombs are historically what’s been done -- bombs are the weapons of choice for terrorists and despotic regimes,” says Dave Page, who served as a sergeant with the 745th Ordnance Company of Camp Grayling during the Gulf War. Today, he’s in charge of safety, security and abatement procedures at the Building 50 redevelopment project in Traverse City.
The 745th is a bomb disposal unit. During Sgt. Page’s service in the early ‘90s, the unit was active in disposing of unexploded munitions and bombs littering the deserts of Kuwait. Today, the 745th is faced with a new war and new weapons: tracking down and neutralizing IEDs along with other munitions in Iraq.
Roadside bombs can be concealed in pavement and curbs and camoflaged with plaster of paris; stored in vehicles with the doors welded shut; or even hung in trees and then detonated by an observor watching from a distance for U.S. troops to pass by.
“They can conceal them pretty effectively, but there are also very sophisticated methods being developed to detect them,” Page says.
“A lot of the countermeasures they’re using to defeat these things are classified,” he adds, noting that secrecy is needed to keep Iraqi insurgents in the dark on how bombs are being detected. “It’s kind of like spy-versus-spy, but on a deadly scale. There’s a lot of technical support going into learning how to defeat these bombs. The more devices we can recover, the more we can learn about them.”
Page notes that the military and its contractors are working on diagnostic tools and technology to head-off bombings. “The analogy is similar to diagnostic medical technology,” he notes. “They’re trying to look inside a package without exploding it.”
But that technology isn’t foolproof even for the experts of the 745th which has suffered two “blow-downs” (explosions) in Iraq, along with casualties.
“In bomb disposal work, you may do a couple in a career and remember it forever,” Page recalls of his own days in the field. “These guys did dozens in a couple of months. They don’t get time to deal with the stress or how it’s affecting them -- they just have to keep working on the mission.”

There’s an urgency to bomb detection and disposal because casualties are on the rise in Iraq.
According to Department of Defense records, some 1,884 servicepersons have died in Iraq since the war began in March, 2003. Of that number, 494 U.S. soldiers have been killed by roadside bombs, according to www.icasualties.org, a statistics website that catalogs the dead and wounded.
The number has spiked dramatically upward since January of this year The website notes that just four soldiers died from IEDs in July 2003, but that number has risen to 39 in July of 2005. Since the beginning of this year alone, a total of 229 soldiers have been killed in IED attacks, including eight from Michigan.
U.S. soldiers are hardly alone in facing death by roadside bombs. Among private contractors assisting in the war effort, there have been at least 255 fatalities thus far, according to www.icasualties.org, including 57 deaths from car bombs, suicide bombers or IEDs.
And needless to say for those who watch the nightly news on television, Iraqi citizens have faced an even greater toll in the many marketplace bombings and car bomb attacks which seem to be a daily occurrence.
Bombing attacks are reportedly increasing in frequency and power. On April 29, for instance, 17 bombs, including four suicide blasts, went off almost simultaneously in the town of Azamiyah, with 13 car bombs exploding in Iraq, according to Britain’s “Independent” newspaper. The blasts left 50 people dead, including two U.S. soldiers, along with 114 Iraqis and seven Americans wounded.
On Aug. 17, the day this story was written, 40 Iraqis died from bomb attacks by insurgents.

Figures on soldiers wounded by roadside bombs are harder to come by. Department of Defense records show that 6,759 troops have incurred wounds serious enough to remove them from duty. But details on soldiers wounded by IEDs are sketchy.
What has been widely reported, however, is that these bombs often leave devastating wounds.
Pfc. Derrick Harden of Johannesburg is one local soldier who spent the spring at Walter Reed Army Medical Center in Washington, D.C. recovering from a bomb attack.
The 2003 Gaylord High School student was serving with an Army Ranger unit in Al-Ramadi, Iraq on Jan. 17 when a car bomb exploded only 15 feet from his post.
In addition to being shot in the left arm, Harden suffered massive injuries from the blast which buried him under concrete debris and a steel door. The blast broke bones in his face, both arms and legs. Shrapnel wounds to his face required multiple surgeries. He lost his right leg below the knee to amputation, and narrowly lost the other at an Army hospital in Germany. Fortunately, Harden woke up in time to prove to doctors there that he could move his left leg at both the knee and hip, according to a published account.

Advances in trauma medicine and surgery along with physical and occupational therapy at Walter Reed Army Medical Center are bringing soldiers such as Pfc. Harden back from the brink of death.
“Many soldiers who would have previously died of their injuries are now living with severe disabilities,” notes Operation Truth, an anti-war veterans group. “Although media attention is regularly given to the rising death toll in Iraq, far less scrutiny has been given to the number of troops wounded, and often permanently disabled, in the war effort. Because of better equipment and medical treatment, the survival rate for injured soldiers is higher than in previous wars.”
Currently, U.S. troops are reportedly trying to keep a step ahead of insurgent bombers through the use of better armor. The New York Times reported this month that the Pentagon is on its second round of scrambling to obtain better armor for military vehicles as well as body armor for troops in the wake of this summer’s increase in bombing attacks.
As has also been widely reported, troops are trying to beef up their lightly armored HumVees through the addition of “hillbilly armor” composed of sand bags and scrap metal.
One infantryman who identified himself as simply Futomara, described his experience with hillbilly armor on the Operation Truth website:
“...In Baghdad our vehicles (were) low armor, light skin HUMMVVs... We lined our vehicles with sandbags and proceeded with our missions. Toward the end of our rotation in Iraq we were performing a routine TCP mission when a small truck swerved in front of one of our squad leader’s vehicles and dropped an IED. It exploded immediately, tore through the sandbags, shattering both of the squad leader’s legs and sending shards of metal into the head of his driver. That is just one example of many where an up-armored HUMMVV would have saved these soldiers from injury...”
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