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Restore the Wetlands. Reinforce the Levees.

Posts Tagged ‘army’

Good Riddance to “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell”

Sunday, December 19th, 2010

This will make for happier holidays.

We applaud the long-awaited, hard-fought repeal of the destructive policy commonly known as Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell by a Senate vote of 65 to 31. It is good for American society and its individuals, and it’s good for the U.S. armed forces and for national security. After weeks of depressing developments, something we can say “Yes” to. Now, we admit this is not one of the issues we’ve been working on, though we’ve given DADT repeal a lot of thought—it makes sense in so many ways and it’s the morally right thing to do. For months now it has been high on the list of issues about which we’re “this close” to writing a piece and making phone calls and faxing letters to members of Congress to get with it already. (As we understand it, the House of Representatives had already passed repeal twice; as usual it’s the filibusted Senate—or a certain obstructionist minority therein—that’s holding everything up.)

The endless, disheartening news reports of Arabic-speaking translators outed and fired for no offense other than being quietly, discreetly gay (as if the U.S. can afford to dismiss even one trained Arabic translator) . . . the personal accounts of army, air force, and navy personnel and military institute students on The Rachel Maddow Show . . . articles about  the U.S. armed forces’ desperate recruitment of mentally challenged youths to meet quotas . . . and the serious, thoughtful advocacy of Joint Chiefs chairman Admiral Mike Mullen and Defense Secretary Robert Gates—not exactly radicals—all these have demonstrated to the nation that it’s far past time to repeal the policy and focus our attention on more pressing concerns. The nation has been held back socially and militarily by this misguided and backward policy, and America’s service members have been put under undue and unfair torment, for far too long. (As if military service were not stressful enough already.) This policy should never have been instituted in the first place, and to it we say good riddance.

Here’s a map and list of which senators voted “aye” and which “nay.” It would be a good thing to phone or fax your senators to thank them for their “Yes.” An aye for an aye.


LSU Fires van Heerden of LSU Hurricane Center; Director Marc Levitan Resigns in Solidarity

Sunday, April 12th, 2009

Photo of Ivor van Heerden by The New York Times.

Photo of Ivor van Heerden by The New York Times.

This is definitely one for the Fresh Hell file: Just before the Easter weekend LSU notified Ivor van Heerden, deputy director of the LSU Hurricane Center, that it would not renew his contract (he is not tenured) and he will be out of a job by May 2010. The university is not saying why—not to him, and not to the public. The firing comes after the university has imposed limits on his contacts with the media, demoted him, and retracted storm surge modeling responsibilities from his direction, among other limitations. Ubiquitous on CNN and in print after Hurricane Katrina—he is reported to have Anderson Cooper’s cell phone number—van Heerden is well known as a critic of the Army Corps of Engineers’ design of levees and the nation’s general unpreparedness for catastrophic hurricane flooding. He is also the author of the impressive and constructively critical book The Storm: What Went Wrong and Why During Hurricane Katrina—The Inside Story from One Louisiana Scientist (2006). (See Levees Not War’s interview with van Heerden here.)