Some Good News For A Change

CNBC reported today that all twelve soccer players have been rescued from the cave in Thailand where they have been trapped for more than two weeks. Unfortunately Petty Officer Saman Gunan, a former Thai navy diver, died while delivering oxygen to the trapped boys.

The article reports:

The eight boys brought out on Sunday and Monday were in good health overall and some asked for chocolate bread for breakfast, officials said earlier.

Two of the boys had suspected lung infections but the four boys from the first group rescued were all walking around in hospital.

Volunteers from as far away as Australia and the United States helped with the effort to rescue the boys. U.S. military personnel also helped.

…The boys were still being quarantined from their parents because of the risk of infection and would likely be kept in hospital for a week for tests, officials said earlier.

This is news we can all celebrate.



The Mystery Deepens

The world is searching for the missing Malaysia Airlines flight MH370. The Diplomat posted an interesting story yesterday about the flight. There were at least two passengers on the plane with stolen passports.

The article notes:

“The counterfeiting of all sorts of identifications is very widespread, particularly out of Thailand,” Steve Vickers, a Hong Kong-based risk consultant, told The Wall Street Journal. “It’s pretty easy to pick up a stolen or a counterfeit passport.”

…“Any flight of that size in Asia would be carrying a couple of people with false passports,” said Clive Williams, a counter-terrorism expert at Macquarie University in Australia. “When you think about the number of passports that have been stolen or gone missing around the world, it could be related, but it is probably not.”

This morning, Malaysia’s Transport Minister Hishamuddin Hussein said that a total of four passengers are being investigated: the two impersonating Kozel and Marald, as well as two other travelers with European passports described as “possibly Ukrainian.”

There are a lot of theories as to what has happened to the plane. One commenter on the article in The Diplomat explained how an empty fuel tank could have exploded. While that explanation is as feasible as any other, it doesn’t explain why the plane would have changed direction and dropped below the radar. I would also wonder if there are any old World War II airfields in the area that could be used without raising suspicion. But what would be the purpose of stealing an airplane? Why has no one demanded ransom or claimed credit?

It is also somewhat odd that we have not heard stories from anyone who is relieved that by some chain of events that they missed the plane. Usually after a plane crash, at least one person comes forward explaining that they got caught in traffic and missed the plane. I personally know a soldier who was coming home from Iraq and had to change planes in an American airport and missed at least three flights because kind, patriotic Americans kept on buying him drinks!

Like everyone else, I really have no clue as to what has happened.

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The Need For Fiscal Accountability At Some Of Our Colleges

The cost of a college education has skyrocketed in recent years. Parents and students are going into serious debt to finance a higher education. So where is the money going? Some of it is going to repairing buildings on campus, building better physical education facilities, better science laboratories, and other things that provide a better environment for the students. However, not all colleges are spending their increased tuition money responsibly.

Yesterday the Daily Caller posted an article about a recent controversy at Westfield State College. Since one of my daughters and one of my sons-in-law graduated from Westfield State in the 1990’s, I am somewhat familiar with the school. It is a small state college with a beautiful campus. Their website shows tuition, housing costs, and fees for resident students ranging from about $15,000 per year for state residents to about $23,000 per year for out-of-state residents. I believe that when my daughter went there in the 1990’s, the cost was about $6,000 a year.

So what is the controversy at Westfield State?

The article at the Daily Caller reports:

John P. Walsh, owner of a cosmetics company, has decided to withdraw his $100,000 donation to Westfield, a public university in Westfield, Massachusetts.

The reason? Walsh is fed up with the spending habits of Westfield President Evan Dobelle, who charged thousands of dollars in luxury hotel and shopping bills to the university’s credit card.

…Dobelle charged the university $8,000 for a four-night stay in a luxury hotel in Bangkok, Thailand. He has also traveled out-of-state on Westfield’s dime some 76 times during his 5 years as president, according to Inside Higher Ed.

Dobelle has defended the expenses, calling them a necessary component of his plan to increase Westfield’s national and international renown.

After being presented with evidence of Mr. Dobelle’s financial violations, the board of trustees at Westfield State gave him their full confidence.

Obviously, more information is needed to determine exactly what is going on here, but I will admit that $6,000 for four nights in Thailand seems a bit much. I question why the Board of Trustees approved the spending habits of Mr. Dobelle.

Because of the dramatic expansion of student aid by the federal government in recent years, colleges have been able to raise their tuition without having to worry about students’ ability to pay. While I think student aid is a really good thing, it has created an unreal situation where tuition is not subject to free market forces. We definitely need some balance here. At the moment we are encouraging young people and their families to go into serious debt to receive training for jobs that are not available. That does not make sense.

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The War In Burma

Michael Yon recently posted an article about the war in Burma. I will admit that I was not really aware that there was a war in Burma, and when I googled it, there was not much available. The New Republic posted an article on May 21, but that was pretty much all I could find.

The war in Burma is a civil war that has been going on for 63 years. The post at Michael Yon’s website has pictures of what is currently happening. This is one of the pictures from Michael’s website:


Michael talks about the group in the picture:

In Thailand, I continue to come into contact with a group called Free Burma Rangers [FBR], who are based in the northern Thai city of Chiang Mai.  FBR is an American faith-based operation operated by Dave Eubank, a former Army Ranger and Special Forces officer.  In these parts, Eubank is something of a living-legend.  He speaks English, Thai and Karen and has spent years inside Burma.

I often bump up against his organization.   It has a solid feel.  FBR seems on the surface and from all accounts to consist of serious people doing important work: training guerrillas in medicine, reconnaissance and other military matters, while documenting endless war crimes inside of Burma.  FBR receives no help, to my knowledge, from the Thai or US governments.

Please follow the links to both articles about this war. It does seem odd that no one in the American media is reporting on what is going on in Burma.


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