WASHINGTON: Filipino-American vets seek benefits

Congress will consider a bill allowing 11,000 Filipino-American veterans to receive full VA medical benefits and recognition before the end of the year.

On Veterans Day, Filipino vets traveled to Arlington National Cemetery with banners reading, ‘Full VA benefits for Filipino-Americans.’ Although many Filipinos fought alongside Americans during World War II, Congress enacted a law in 1946 denying Filipino veterans VA benefits.

‘We are not second-class citizens. We have proven that we know how to defend and fight for the United States,’ said Faustino Baclig, who fought in Bataan and survived the infamous Death March. ‘It boils down to discrimination to me, and that is what we are fighting.’

Actor Lou Diamond Phillips, a Filipino-American, testified before the House’s subcommittee on veterans affairs in support of recognizing the Filipino veterans.

MONTEREY, Calif.: Navy may
need convincing on war with Iraq

When former Secretary of the Navy James Webb gave a speech Nov. 7 at the Naval Postgraduate School slamming the Bush administration’s threatened war with Iraq, assembled officers, filling the auditorium, responded with respect and admiration.

Webb is a decorated marine and served as assistant defense secretary and Secretary of the Navy under Reagan. He quit in 1988, protesting budget cuts in the Navy’s fleet expansion program.

Recently, Webb has been a public critic of the Bush war on Iraq. In a Washington Post op-ed, he charged that Iraq is a distraction from the fight against Al-Qaeda.

In his remarks to the primier military school for mid-level officers, Webb warned that war in Iraq and possible occupation would be a ‘critical mistake,’ adding, ‘I don’t think Iraq is that much of a threat.’

Haitian workers face fast track deportation

In a Nov. 8 statement using a ‘national security’ fig leaf, the Immigration and Naturalization Service said that Haitians and others, except Cubans, who attempt to enter the United States by sea will be detained and subject to an expedited process to send them back home.

Cheryl Little, an immigration advocate, said the effect is to deny Haitians their day in court, using national security as an excuse.

The action marks a departure from previous policy, under which Haitians were free on bail until the INS ruled on their cases. Cubans are exempted under a 1966 law.

The statement follows the Oct. 29 arrival in Key Biscayne, Fla., of 211 Haitians and three Dominicans who waded ashore after their wooden boat ran aground.

‘We’re not going to give up,’ Little said. ‘The discriminatory treatment of the Haitians is so blatant now, and the excuses given by the INS are so transparent, that it’s subject to challenge.’

Violent culture hits home

In June and July, four Fort Bragg soldiers murdered their wives. Two of the men committed suicide and the other two are charged with murder. Three of those cases involved Special Operations soldiers who had served in Afghanistan.

In a fifth case, a woman is charged with murdering her husband, a major in the Army’s Special Forces.

The Army issued a report, Nov. 7, saying that families were separated while the soldiers trained and fought. The separation, the report said, heightened existing marital tensions. The report called for mental health workers to be assigned to combat units.

Col. Dave Orman, a psychiatrist who led the study team, said a pilot program is being created to put mental health workers in combat battalions so ‘the troops can access us casually. There was a prevalent attitude that seeking behavioral health care was not career safe.’

Don’t drink the water, don’t breath the air

In January 2002, a Bush administration offical from the Department of Energy told West Virginia’s Charleston Gazette, ‘The biggest challenge is going to be how to best utilize taxpayers’ dollars for the benefit of industry.’

Less than a year later, profits have been beefed up at the cost of air, water and forests, according to a study released by Earthjustice (www.earthjustice.org).

The study, ‘Payback,’ details bulldozing of environmental protections in exchange for contribution checks to the Bush-Cheney campaign and the Republican National Committee.

‘These contributions and policy paybacks tell the story of how corporate interests brought the Bush administration to power so that it could weaken the law to benefit the companies’ bottom line,’ the study said.

‘Over 30 years of progress in addressing environmental problems – spurred by public servants and private individuals of all political persuasions – is being squandered by this administration,’ said Buck Parker, executive director of Earthjustice. ‘The Bush administration is giving away our nation’s clean water and air, national forests, and public lands to its corporate contributors.’

National Clips are compiled by
Denise Weinebrenner Edwards. If you have
a National Clip, send it to pww@pww.org