Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Army Emergency Fund: More Revelations

News of Army Emergency Relief (AER) being linked with the United States Army, and giving out zero-interest loans, is still bouncing around local and regional news outlets.

The Associated Press didn't come up with another article today, about this shocking breach of the public trust.
Zero-Interest Loans: Shocking Breach of Public Trust?!
You see, according to The Associated Press, since money for those loans stays on the Army Emergency Relief books unless a GI defaults on a loan, the AER is "stockpiling" the money.

We're also supposed to be shocked and distressed that AER - and the Army - actually expects the loans to be repaid. The next thing we know, The Associated Press will discover that there's a military code of conduct, and that soldiers are expected to follow orders.

The Army, on Army Emergency Relief

Considering the internal contradictions that plagued the AP stories, I'm a bit more willing to believe what the Army says about an Army relief fund that's run - big surprise - by the Army.

Particularly since the American armed forces have a track record of studying their operations - and publishing what they found, good and bad.

Yesterday's article revealed that "each year, AER provides more aid to Soldiers than what was collected through donations -- the remainder of the money comes from the dividends paid on investments made by AER...." That means that for every dollar that's given to AER, AER spends about $1.84 on programs. If that's "stockpiling," I think other charities might try doing the same.

And Now for Something Completely Different

There are quite a few opinions about why the American newspaper industry seems to be on the skids. Sound familiar? I've posted about this before.

I think that transparently biased, or possibly incompetent, reporting of the sort The Associated Press indulged in recently, isn't helping traditional American news services - except possibly in very limited markets.

These days, many or most Americans with an interest in national and world affairs have many sources of information. And, are nobody's fools.

This isn't the sixties and seventies any more, with three coastal networks (four, counting PBS), and a handful of major newspapers and magazines controlling what most Americans read. It's the information age, and some guy in central Minnesota can read what Reuters, Al Jazeera, Xinhua, or any of thousands of bloggers, have to say about an issue or an event.

I think it's high time that The Associated Press and other traditional, old-school news agencies, realize that, put less effort into a futile quest for the glory days of My Lai and Watergate, and more into professional, accurate, reporting.

Who knows? It might save the American newspaper industry.

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Note! Although I believe that these websites and blogs are useful resources for understanding the War on Terror, I do not necessarily agree with their opinions. 1 1 Given a recent misunderstanding of the phrase "useful resources," a clarification: I do not limit my reading to resources which support my views, or even to those which appear to be accurate. Reading opinions contrary to what I believed has been very useful at times: sometimes verifying my previous assumptions, sometimes encouraging me to change them.

Even resources which, in my opinion, are simply inaccurate are sometimes useful: these can give valuable insights into why some people or groups believe what they do.

In short, It is my opinion that some of the resources in this blogroll are neither accurate, nor unbiased. I do, however, believe that they are useful in understanding the War on Terror, the many versions of Islam, terrorism, and related topics.