Shalala pledges to continue fight for wounded soldiers
Shalala said she and Dole have every intention of continuing to push the administration and Congress for changes, including amending the Family Medical Leave Act to allow for up to six months leave for a family member of a wounded service member. Most of the recommendations can be implemented by the administration, though some would require legislative approval. To that end, Dole and Shalala made the rounds on Capitol Hill the day after the report's release, meeting with House and Senate leaders to gain their support. Shalala balanced the demands of the commission — visits to various veteran health care facilities around the country and seven public hearings — along with her duties at the university. She also taught a class on the politics of health care to 150 students. "She's type triple A," Dole said, laughing. "I'm a type A, but she's triple A. She's either got the cell phone going, or the Blackberry or she's in a conversation. She doesn't waste any time. She's all business, 'Let's get this done and get this done right."' "I was at the White House when they asked me about the commission and we sort of kicked names around," Dole said. "Donna's name came up and that was the end of the conversation. "I knew it wasn't going to be partisan, but solution driven," Dole said. "We knew there were problems, otherwise there wouldn't be a commission, but we weren't there to review complaints, we were there to solve the problem." University of Miami President and former Clinton Cabinet member Donna Shalala served as a Peace Corps Volunteer in Iran in the 1960's. Read more.
Caption: President Bush, right, meets veteran Sgt. Major Mike Welsh who is using the 'Nu Step Machine' as he visits the rehabilitation room at the Washington Veterans Affairs Medical Center in Washington, Monday, Aug. 13, 2007. Former Senate Majority Leader Bob Dole, left, and former Health and Human Services Secretary Donna Shalala, second from left, co-chairs of the President Commission on Care for America's Returning Wounded Warriors look on. (AP Photo/Charles Dharapak)
Morocco RPCV Sue Hilderbrand brings energy, experience to Peace and Justice Center
Since April, Hilderbrand has been director of Chico Peace and Justice Center. A self-described political theorist, she speaks freely and articulately about what she thinks and believes, about what she has read and where she has been. Stopping funding of the war in Iraq is paramount to Hilderbrand. "Right now things like health care and the environment are taking a back seat." Hilderbrand came to Chico two years ago when her partner, cartographer Seth Paine, got a job at the Nature Conservancy. Living in Phoenix and thinking about perhaps a trip to sub-Saharan Africa, the prospect of moving to a California valley town didn't thrill Hilderbrand at first. But she warmed to the idea when she found Chico's Peace and Justice Center online. Hilderbrand met Paine while they were serving in the Peace Corps in Morocco. "I was a rural-socio-economics planner. I worked on a national park, which was the largest cedar forest in Africa. I dealt with social, economic and political forces and saw that they all work together." Read more.
Caption: Sue Hilderbrand, director of Chico Peace and Justice Center, invited people to call Congressman.
Sarah Chayes writes: NATO didn't lose Afghanistan
"In 2003, NATO moved peacekeeping forces into Kabul and parts of northern Afghanistan. But not until 2005, when it was clear that the United States was bogged down in Iraq and lacked sufficient resources to fight on two fronts, did Washington belatedly turn to NATO to take the Afghan south off its hands. And then it misrepresented the situation its allies would find there. NATO was told, in effect, that it would simply need to maintain the order the United States had established and to help with reconstruction and security. In fact, as was clear from the ground, the situation had been deteriorating since late 2002. By 2004, resurgent Taliban were making a concerted push to enter the country from Pakistan, and intensive combat between American forces and Taliban fighters was taking place north of Kandahar." Morocco RPCV Sarah Chayes has made a home in Kandahar, Afghanistan, became fluent in Pashto, one of the main Afghan languages, and devoted her energies to rebuilding a country gutted by two decades of war. Read more.
Caption: Sarah Chayes of NPR and Adam Brooks of the BBC, after the fall of Kabul, but before the Taliban fell, in a town just inside Afghanistan called Spin Boldak. People on the walls stare at the journalists while they apply sunscreen to their faces.
Uzbekistan RPCV John Smart writes: U.S. embassy or is it George W. Bush's palace?
It's not only the largest embassy in the world, it's the largest embassy ever constructed by any nation, anywhere, at any time in history! It's larger than Vatican City and much more secure — the outer walls are 15 feet thick. In a country that has only a couple of hours of electricity a day, the new embassy will have its own generators, and in a society where drinkable water is a scarce and precious commodity, it will have its own water filtration system. The people outside those 15-foot walls might get a bit testy about this display of wealth, don't you think? The Iraqis, accustomed as they were to Saddam's numerous marble extravaganzas are referring to this mega-complex as "George W's Palace." Again, I wonder why? It's costing us billions for sure, although that information is apparently classified. Don't you think we should know what it's for? Or maybe we do know what it's for. Maybe it's all of a piece with the expensive and evidently permanent military bases that the Bush administration is building in Iraq. Maybe the plan all along was to occupy this keystone country in the Middle East for the foreseeable future. Maybe that's why George W. Bush is so angered by the congress's repeated attempts to put timelines and deadlines on our occupation forces: He has no intention of us ever leaving. Read more.
Caption: Blueprints for the new US Embassy in Iraq.
Chris Dodd says no easy election for Democrats in 2008
Democratic presidential hopeful Chris Dodd warned his fellow party members not to get lulled into believing the 2008 election will produce the same sweeping victories that Democrats enjoyed last November. "There’s an assumption that people are making that any Democrat can win in ’08," said Dodd, a U.S. senator from Connecticut who has won seven elections since arriving in Congress in 1974. "I don’t believe that." "This is about leadership, it’s about proven ability, it’s about the ability to go with bold ideas and not half measures that I think the country is desperate and hungry for," said Dodd, who attended a minor league baseball game, a farmers market and addressed Iowa’s largest state employees’ union during his latest campaign swing. Read more.
RPCVs speak out on the issues. Read more.