Memorial Day 2011: Two Names That Matter

 

by Walter Brasch

 

Unless you were in a coma the past few years, you probably know who Charlie Sheen, Lindsay Lohan, and Paris Hilton are.

You heard about them on radio, saw them on television.

You read about them in newspapers and magazines, on Facebook, Twitter, and every social medium known to mankind.

 Because of extensive media coverage, you also know who dozens of singers and professional athletes are.

Here are two names you probably never heard of. Sergeant First Class Clifford E. Beattie and Private First Class Ramon Mora Jr.

They didn't get into drug and alcohol scandals. They didn't become pop singers or make their careers from hitting baseballs or throwing footballs. They were soldiers.

Both died together this past week from roadside bombs near Baghdad.

Sgt. 1st Class Beattie, from the small rural suburb of Medical Lake, Wash., spent 17 years in the Army, and was in his third tour of duty in Iraq. On the day he was killed, according to the Spokane Spokesman–Review, he had participated in a run to honor fallen soldiers. Sgt. Beattie was 37 years old. He leaves two children, one of whom was three weeks from graduating from high school; four sisters, a brother, and his parents.

PFC Mora, from Ontario, Calif., a city of about 170,000 near Los Angeles, was in his first tour in combat. He was 19 years old. "He was a very serious student, and education was important to him," Carole Hodnick, Mora's English teacher and advisor, told the Ontario Daily Bulletin. Hodnick also remembers him as having "a charisma about him, and the students just fell in line with him."

Clifford E. Beatttie and Ramon Mora Jr. were just two of the 6,049 Americans killed and 43,418 wounded in Iraq and Afghanistan in war the past decade, the longest wars in American history.

You can't know or remember all of their names. But you can remember two.

Clifford E. Beattie. Ramon Mora Jr. 

Two Americans. One near the end of his Army career. One not long out of Basic Training. A White Caucasian and a Hispanic. Two different lives. Two different cultures. Two Americans.

Clifford E. Beattie. Ramon Mora Jr. Killed together more than 7,000 miles from their homes.

As you prepare for Memorial Day barbeques, surrounded by celebrity-laden news, remember the names of Clifford E. Beattie and Ramon Mora Jr., and all they stood for. Theirs are the names that matter.

 

[Walter Brasch is a social issues columnist and author. His next book is Before the First Snow: Stories from the Revolution, available at amazon.com and other stores after June 20. For more details, see YouTube.]

 

 

Weekly Diaspora: Lawless Judges, Immigrant Soldiers, and Deportee Pardons

by Catherine A. Traywick, Media Consortium blogger

Here’s the harsh truth about our immigration system: When 392,000 immigrants are detained per year and 33,000 more are detained everyday with limited staff and minimal federal oversight, institutional misconduct is inevitable.

The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) is moving record-breaking numbers of immigrants through its ancillary agencies and, in the process, immigrant women are being raped by Border Patrol agents, LGBT detainees are being sexually assaulted at Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) facilities, and citizens and legal residents are certainly being deported.

How can such things come to pass? Simple: a combination of overworked and overzealous officials are enforcing overly broad immigration laws. It should be no wonder that people, inevitably, slip through the cracks—whether immigrant, citizen, or soldier.

Immigration judges subverting the law

Misconduct, corruption and a general inability to handle impossibly high caseloads aren’t exclusive to DHS and its many agencies. On the contrary, organizational mismanagement plagues every aspect of the immigration process.

As Jacqueline Stevens reports at the Nation, immigration courts are rife with lawlessness and corruption. Charged with adjudicating the hundreds of thousands of immigrants thrown their way by DHS every year, judges are authorizing deportations without even seeing the defendants, issuing rulings at mass hearings (usually with no lawyers present), and abandoning due process for a quicker turn-around.

What’s more: the Executive Office of Immigration Review (EOIR)—a separate agency from DHS—is actively shielding this misconduct from the public and trying to avoid federal oversight:

The public’s ignorance of the idiocies endemic to the EOIR’s business as usual and the calamities these entail is no accident. The agency deliberately withholds basic information from the media and researchers, and its top officials routinely decline requests for interviews […] Complaints about immigration judges fall under the jurisdiction of the Office of Professional Responsibility (OPR), and people may file there directly, but the EOIR instructs immigration court stakeholders to lodge complaints with the EOIR itself. Instead of passing complaints on to the OPR, as the website promises, the EOIR top brass, to protect their cronies and avoid outside scrutiny, sweeps complaints under the rug.

Consequently, American citizens—as well as immigrants who could qualify to remain in the country—are being deported indiscriminately by judges whose decisions are rarely, if ever, questioned.

Immigrant soldiers deported after serving in the U.S. military

Immigrant soldiers serving in the U.S. military are among those routinely cheated by deportation-happy immigration judges.

Julianne Hing reports at ColorLines that 17,000 non-citizens are on active duty in the armed forces, and 4,000 immigrant veterans have already been deported or are facing deportation because of criminal convictions. Hing argues that, while some of those veterans are certainly guilty of violent crimes, many others have committed only minor crimes, like drug possession, and have already served time in jail. Deportation is a secondary, and wholly incommensurate, punishment.

A double standard is at play. Veterans, regardless of immigration status, are more likely than the general population to abuse drugs and alcohol and to commit violent crimes. But while non-citizen soldiers are indiscriminately deported for minor offenses, thousands of American military rapists have deftly avoided punishment in the past 15 years.The U.S. government’s prejudicial treatment of non-citizen soldiers isn’t new (to date, Filipino veterans who fought alongside American soldiers in WWII are still waiting to receive the benefits promised to them), but it remains reprehensible.

The unique plight of immigrant veterans certainly puts into perspective the ongoing push for passage of the DREAM Act—proposed legislation that would provide a path to citizenship for immigrant youth who serve in the military.

New York governor to pardon deportees?

Fortunately, some government officials are working towards a fairer immigration system. Elise Foley at the Washington Independent reports that New York governor David Paterson (D) has created a panel to review thousands of pardon requests from immigrant detainees awaiting deportation:

The idea behind the panel is to allow relief from the “extremely inflexible” federal law for green card holders “who have contributed as New Yorkers and who deserve relief from deportation or indefinite detention,” Paterson said when he announced its creation in May. […] While Paterson’s pardon panels would not change the way immigration courts are run, the effort is arguably a push to add a bit of discretion back into the system.

Paterson’s laudable commitment to protecting the interests of immigrants, particularly when doing so is far from politically expedient, is proof positive that rectifying our broken immigration system is entirely within the reach of our politicians. Misconduct and corruption within our immigration agencies are not merely the product of overcrowding and understaffing, but rather persistent inaction on the part of powerful lawmakers and government officials.

As Stevens wryly notes for The Nation: President Barack Obama, whose own citizenship is repeatedly questioned, ought to get on board.

This post features links to the best independent, progressive reporting about immigration by members of The Media Consortium. It is free to reprint. Visit the Diaspora for a complete list of articles on immigration issues, or follow us on Twitter. And for the best progressive reporting on critical economy, environment, and health care issues, check out The Audit, The Mulch, and The Pulse . This is a project of The Media Consortium, a network of leading independent media outlets.

 

 

U.S. Crimes Against Guatemala

File this under: U.S. Crimes Against Humanity

No wonder black, brown and red people don't trust U.S. Government researchers. Get this, U.S. scientific researchers infected hundreds of Guatemalan mental patients with sexually transmitted diseases from 1946 to 1948 -- a practice that only came recently to light thanks to the work of an academic researcher.

Professor Susan M. Reverby, a professor of history and women's studies at Wellesley College, discovered the shocking scientific experiments conducted by U.S. scientists in Guatemala while doing research in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.

Reminding many of the Tuskegee Experiments, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius issued a formal apology to the Central American nation, and to Guatemalan residents of the United States. 

As reported by Cindy Adams at the Examiner.com, on Friday, the United States government apologized for experiments conducted in Guatemala in the 1940s, reminiscent of the Tuskegee study beginning in the 1930s, in which hundreds of African American men with late-stage syphilis were observed, but not treated for the disease. 

Nearly 400 impoverished men were recruited for the study, which took place in Tuskegee, Alabama and lasted until 1972. The men were told they were being treated for having bad blood and were enticed into participating with free medical examinations, free meals, and free burial insurance. Even after penicillin was found to be a cure for the syphilis in the 1940s, researchers failed to treat the Tuskegee participants with the drug.

In the Guatemalan fiasco, U.S. scientists infected prostitutes with syphilis or gonorrhea, who were then told to have unprotected sex with prison inmates and soldiers, later testing them in order to find possible cures.

According to the Ottawa Citizen, Wellesley College Professor Susan M. Reverby found evidence of the secret Guatemalan tests when she was examining papers regarding the Tuskegee study.

"Although these events occurred more than 64 years ago, we are outraged that such reprehensible research could have occurred under the guise of public health," said Clinton and Sebelius in a joint statement. "We deeply regret that it happened, and we apologize to all the individuals who were affected by such abhorrent research practices."

UPDATE: According to the LA times, Guatemala condemned the experiments and said it would study whether there were grounds to take the case to an international court.

"President Alvaro Colom considers these experiments crimes against humanity and Guatemala reserves the right to denounce them in an international court," said a government statement, which also announced the creation of a commission to investigate the matter.

Guatemalan human rights activists called for the victims' families to be compensated, but a U.S. official said it was not clear whether there would be any compensation.

President Obama called Colom to offer his personal apology for what had happened, a White House spokesman said.

The experiment, which echoed the infamous 1960s Tuskegee study on black American men who were deliberately left untreated for syphilis. More HERE

AAP says:  I'm glad to hear the President Alvaro Colom considers these experiments crimes against humanity and the people of Guatemala. He is right to denounce the US experiments in an international court. The United States government should quickly make sure that the victims' families are compensated.

Read more of my opinions and observations on social and political issues at: African American Pundit

 

There's more...

U.S. Crimes Against Guatemala

File this under: U.S. Crimes Against Humanity

No wonder black, brown and red people don't trust U.S. Government researchers. Get this, U.S. scientific researchers infected hundreds of Guatemalan mental patients with sexually transmitted diseases from 1946 to 1948 -- a practice that only came recently to light thanks to the work of an academic researcher.

Professor Susan M. Reverby, a professor of history and women's studies at Wellesley College, discovered the shocking scientific experiments conducted by U.S. scientists in Guatemala while doing research in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.

Reminding many of the Tuskegee Experiments, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius issued a formal apology to the Central American nation, and to Guatemalan residents of the United States. 

As reported by Cindy Adams at the Examiner.com, on Friday, the United States government apologized for experiments conducted in Guatemala in the 1940s, reminiscent of the Tuskegee study beginning in the 1930s, in which hundreds of African American men with late-stage syphilis were observed, but not treated for the disease. 

Nearly 400 impoverished men were recruited for the study, which took place in Tuskegee, Alabama and lasted until 1972. The men were told they were being treated for having bad blood and were enticed into participating with free medical examinations, free meals, and free burial insurance. Even after penicillin was found to be a cure for the syphilis in the 1940s, researchers failed to treat the Tuskegee participants with the drug.

In the Guatemalan fiasco, U.S. scientists infected prostitutes with syphilis or gonorrhea, who were then told to have unprotected sex with prison inmates and soldiers, later testing them in order to find possible cures.

According to the Ottawa Citizen, Wellesley College Professor Susan M. Reverby found evidence of the secret Guatemalan tests when she was examining papers regarding the Tuskegee study.

"Although these events occurred more than 64 years ago, we are outraged that such reprehensible research could have occurred under the guise of public health," said Clinton and Sebelius in a joint statement. "We deeply regret that it happened, and we apologize to all the individuals who were affected by such abhorrent research practices."

UPDATE: According to the LA times, Guatemala condemned the experiments and said it would study whether there were grounds to take the case to an international court.

"President Alvaro Colom considers these experiments crimes against humanity and Guatemala reserves the right to denounce them in an international court," said a government statement, which also announced the creation of a commission to investigate the matter.

Guatemalan human rights activists called for the victims' families to be compensated, but a U.S. official said it was not clear whether there would be any compensation.

President Obama called Colom to offer his personal apology for what had happened, a White House spokesman said.

The experiment, which echoed the infamous 1960s Tuskegee study on black American men who were deliberately left untreated for syphilis. More HERE

AAP says:  I'm glad to hear the President Alvaro Colom considers these experiments crimes against humanity and the people of Guatemala. He is right to denounce the US experiments in an international court. The United States government should quickly make sure that the victims' families are compensated.

Read more of my opinions and observations on social and political issues at: African American Pundit

 

There's more...

U.S. Crimes Against Guatemala

File this under: U.S. Crimes Against Humanity

No wonder black, brown and red people don't trust U.S. Government researchers. Get this, U.S. scientific researchers infected hundreds of Guatemalan mental patients with sexually transmitted diseases from 1946 to 1948 -- a practice that only came recently to light thanks to the work of an academic researcher.

Professor Susan M. Reverby, a professor of history and women's studies at Wellesley College, discovered the shocking scientific experiments conducted by U.S. scientists in Guatemala while doing research in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.

Reminding many of the Tuskegee Experiments, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius issued a formal apology to the Central American nation, and to Guatemalan residents of the United States. 

As reported by Cindy Adams at the Examiner.com, on Friday, the United States government apologized for experiments conducted in Guatemala in the 1940s, reminiscent of the Tuskegee study beginning in the 1930s, in which hundreds of African American men with late-stage syphilis were observed, but not treated for the disease. 

Nearly 400 impoverished men were recruited for the study, which took place in Tuskegee, Alabama and lasted until 1972. The men were told they were being treated for having bad blood and were enticed into participating with free medical examinations, free meals, and free burial insurance. Even after penicillin was found to be a cure for the syphilis in the 1940s, researchers failed to treat the Tuskegee participants with the drug.

In the Guatemalan fiasco, U.S. scientists infected prostitutes with syphilis or gonorrhea, who were then told to have unprotected sex with prison inmates and soldiers, later testing them in order to find possible cures.

According to the Ottawa Citizen, Wellesley College Professor Susan M. Reverby found evidence of the secret Guatemalan tests when she was examining papers regarding the Tuskegee study.

"Although these events occurred more than 64 years ago, we are outraged that such reprehensible research could have occurred under the guise of public health," said Clinton and Sebelius in a joint statement. "We deeply regret that it happened, and we apologize to all the individuals who were affected by such abhorrent research practices."

UPDATE: According to the LA times, Guatemala condemned the experiments and said it would study whether there were grounds to take the case to an international court.

"President Alvaro Colom considers these experiments crimes against humanity and Guatemala reserves the right to denounce them in an international court," said a government statement, which also announced the creation of a commission to investigate the matter.

Guatemalan human rights activists called for the victims' families to be compensated, but a U.S. official said it was not clear whether there would be any compensation.

President Obama called Colom to offer his personal apology for what had happened, a White House spokesman said.

The experiment, which echoed the infamous 1960s Tuskegee study on black American men who were deliberately left untreated for syphilis. More HERE

AAP says:  I'm glad to hear the President Alvaro Colom considers these experiments crimes against humanity and the people of Guatemala. He is right to denounce the US experiments in an international court. The United States government should quickly make sure that the victims' families are compensated.

Read more of my opinions and observations on social and political issues at: African American Pundit

 

There's more...

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