Saturday, February 21, 2009

Army Mother Arrested for Desertion 10 Years Later

What do you do when forced to choose between your children and service to your country? That is the incredibly difficult decision ex-soldier Giselle Flynn faced 10 years ago, shortly after she joined the military.

Unfortunately, Flynn's choice was not without consequence. On Saturday, she was arrested at her San Diego home, a decade after she made her fateful decision.

In 1998, Flynn enlisted in the Army after being homeless and spending considerable time on welfare.

Due to her financial situation, and the state of her deteriorating marriage, she felt that joining the military would allow her to establish financial security for her son and daughter, then ages 4 and 8.

When Flynn attended basic training in South Carolina, she left her children with a friend. Shortly after, she started a 17-week communications class at Fort Gordon in Georgia.

According to the San Diego-Union Tribune:

In February 1999, she flew home and found that her son, Vidal, was suffering from ringworm, anemia and pneumonia. She brought him to the San Diego Naval Medical Center, where he was hospitalized for several weeks. ...

Army officials granted Flynn 10 days of emergency leave. When Vidal's recuperation took longer than expected, they told her to check in with them regularly, according to the newspaper story.
Flynn eventually sought permission to bring her children to Fort Gordon, but Army officials said trainees are not allowed to have children on base. In the newspaper story, Flynn said Army officials instructed her to put the children in foster care and turn herself in. Flynn declined out of worry that it would take months or even years to get her kids back.

To compound things, her family members were unwilling to take the children, and Flynn balked at the prospect of leaving them with friends given her son's illness. She was declared absent without leave in 1999, dropped from the roster and marked as a deserter. Her salary payments stopped not long after.

But here's the kicker. She actually tried to turn herself in at least twice at local Navy installations but was rebuffed. Army officials asked the Navy to tell her to go home both times, according to naval authorities in an earlier story by the newspaper.

Flynn got a job as a bus driver and remarried. Her children are now 14 and 18. Sadly, she was taken into custody at 1 a.m. while at her home. And on a Saturday no less. Now, she is in a jail cell awaiting for the Army to assume custody.

For anyone who has ever been in the military or who is familiar with people in the service, you know that desertion is one of the worst possible allegations that a soldier can face. Of course, this is a unique situation and the circumstances surrounding it are atypical. It's not every day that soldiers are faced with a decision like this one.

But I'm curious to know how many people would have done the same were they in Flynn's shoes? I think she made the right decision. It's a travesty that after all these years, she has to face these charges. This is a sad case of government not working for the people. She should have been given an honorable discharge on account of a hardship case.

Hopefully, this wrong will be righted soon. What are your thoughts?

Despite rhetoric, Obama continues Bush policy on detainees

In a stunning departure from his rhetoric on Guantánamo Bay prison, President Barack Obama signaled Friday he will continue Bush Administration policy with regard to detainees held at a US airbase in Afghanistan, saying they have no right to challenge their detentions in US courts -- and denying them legal status altogether. "This Court’s Order of January 22, 2009 invited the Government to inform the Court by February 20, 2009, whether it intends to refine its position on whether the Court has jurisdiction over habeas petitions filed by detainees held at the United States military base in Bagram, Afghanistan," Acting Assistant Obama Attorney General Michael Hertz wrote in a brief filed Friday. "Having considered the matter, the Government adheres to its previously articulated position."

Conan O’Brien’s Last Late Night

Conan O’Brien’s 16 year run as host of the Late Night has come to an end, and his last night on the show didn’t disappoint. Will Ferrell made an appearance as George Bush thanking Conan for “humortastical wonderment,” and the host’s former sidekick Andy Richter crowed, “I told you you’d never last without me!”
Musical guests included John Mayer who wrote an original song for the show which included the lyrics “LA’s gonna eat you alive,” and the White Stripes performed a acoustic version of “We’re Going To Be Friends.”
Finally Conan gave a long and gracious speech thanking everyone including his producer Lorne Michaels for taking a guy “with no television experience and bad skin” and giving him a show. His voice cracked just a little when he finally told the audience that he would “never grow up” in taking over The Tonight show.
It was an awesome way to exit the Late Show and I can’t wait to see him on The Tonight Show, and I can’t wait to see Jimmy Fallon as new host on the Late Show.

Clinton focuses on climate change, not human rights, in China

Secretary of State Hilary Clinton is in China, talking about the environment and other issues, but not talking much about human rights, a different tone from when she was first lady.

The New York Times reports:

It was a stark contrast to 1995, when Mrs. Clinton, then first lady, gave a now-legendary speech in Beijing at a United Nations conference, in which she cataloged abuses against women and concluded, “human rights are women’s rights and women’s rights are human rights.”

Her change in direction might an indication of the Obama administration’s focus on global climate change. Still, some human rights groups, including Amnesty International, were upset that Clinton would not significantly address human rights on her first visit to China as secretary of State.

Amnesty released a statement saying it was shocked that Clinton would not consider human rights as a top priority. The statement said, in part:

The United States is one of the only countries that can meaningfully stand up to China on human rights issues. But by commenting that human rights will not interfere with other priorities, Secretary Clinton damages future U.S. initiatives to protect those rights in China.

Clinton defended her decision not to focus on human rights. As CNN reported:

“Human rights cannot interfere with the global economic crisis, the global climate change crisis and the security crises,” Clinton said in talks with China’s foreign minister.

The AP reported that dissidents were being detained while Clinton was visiting.

Should human rights vioaltions in China be an integral part of our foreign relations with that nation? Is the Obama adminsitration, including Clinton, moving in the right direction with China by focusing on global issues, including climate change?