Wait no more; take the murderous Assad out


Last Friday, Syrian President Bashar Assad ordered his thugs to go out and kill more people, to send a message that rising up against his government will cost them their lives.

But half of the 108 people who were massacred (execution-style) were children. Many under 10. Assad -- the mini-Hitler -- knew that these kids were not out in the streets protesting. But he had them and their parents killed anyway.

Now the Obama administration says that it will continue to rely on diplomatic, political and economic pressure on Assad. Ditto from special envoy Kofi Annan at that joke the United Nations.

Everyone says to keep talking; maybe that will help. Talking did not help those 54 kids on Friday who did not have a chance at life, like you and me.

Time for action. Time for President Obama to step up and help save Syrian children. Send in the Navy SEALs to take out Assad.


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Accusations often are swept away with money


In a fit of frustration sometime back, I accumulated articles on financial-sector settlements over about a 24-month period. This was not intended to be an exhaustive review and was limited to situations where law violations were alleged but a settlement was reached in which the defendants "neither admitted nor denied the charges" or "have denied and continue to deny each and all of the claims" or "have denied all of the allegations of wrongdoing."

You get the picture? Without conducting a careful and exhaustive search of multiple sources, I found 10 cases in which settlement was deemed a better course than litigation, although the settlements ranged between $27.5 million and $2.5 billion. Six of them were worth more than $100 million. That would pay for a lot of legal fees for no wrongdoing or guilt.

Then I read the May 27 article about the Facebook IPO, raising the possibilities of insider trading, selective disclosures, inside-track information flow and precious tips to favored clients. In an environment where more regulation is a risk, is there a chance that management and boards will decide to admit wrongdoing? Or will they decide to vigorously fight for a court decision on no guilt? Or do I have to update my "Huge Settlements Without Admitting Wrongdoing" list?


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This week, pay statistics on pay for CEOs were released. To quote from the Associated Press: "Profits at big U.S. companies broke records last year, and so did pay for CEOs." CEOs received an average raise of 6 percent, while the average worker received a 1 percent raise. The average CEO now makes 244 times the salary of the typical worker.

My question to Republicans is how much more profit and pay, above the current record profits and salaries, do the job creators need before they actually create jobs for us? Perhaps this exposes a flawed logic in the party's beliefs.

The truth is that businesses hire based on demand for their products, not based on tax breaks. What we need are tax increases, especially on the wealthy, to provide funds for the common good and other beneficial works of the government that will increase demand for products, causing companies to hire to meet the demand for their products.


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Want estate certainty? Draw up a will


The recent article about a gay man who was not able to inherit part of his partner's assets (" Marriage law stymies inheritance," May 26) was merely a story about two intelligent, successful people whom the author portrayed as "careful" but who want a do-over on a probate matter because in 25 years together they never took the time to express their estate-planning intentions as a couple. All they needed was a simple will.

A license recognizing their union as a California marriage was not the issue. These two apparently neglected to open a sizable financial account in their names jointly; failed to designate beneficiaries on life insurance, and failed to do what every Minnesotan, gay or not, already has the right and option to do: put in writing their joint intentions to avoid the longstanding distribution and inheritance law written by the state.

The inheriting parents of the deceased now have multiple options if they think his partner deserves the money. If there are any actual tax consequences, they are the unfortunate result of lack of planning. But please don't make these folks out to be victims of federal and state marriage laws or suggest that Minnesotans now must validate, or adopt, a redefinition of marriage or whatever else comes out of California.


Food stamps

Fraud focus is really an attempt to demolish


Regarding the May 25 article "Food stamp program targeted": This reminds me of the way the safety-net program of welfare was brought down. From President Ronald Reagan onward, we read and heard stories about "welfare queens," until President Bill Clinton pretty much destroyed the program. It's no accident now that there are stories in major newspapers about food stamp fraud. They will continue until the food stamp program is brought down.

When I read about the 1 percent fraud rate of the food stamp program, I wanted to say, "Really?" The military should receive such scrutiny. Sixty percent of the food stamps that are issued feed children, and 19 percent go to the elderly. The cost of this program is so small relative to the total federal budget that it would be like taking a child's allowance away in order to pay the mortgage.


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Wrong spirit is applied


How ironic. On one day, President Obama gives a speech decrying the treatment of troops returning from the Vietnam War, and the next day he confers the nation's highest civilian award ("Dylan, a dozen others get Medal of Freedom," May 30) upon a man whose music and lyrics gave voice to the very people who did most of the spitting.