Monday, January 30, 2006

Chaplain shares reality of Iraq; Exxon sets record profit;

The Albany Times Union reports today on Army Chaplain Lt. Col. Eric Olsen of Saranac Lake, NY. Olsen, a Lutheran Minister, addressed the First Unitarian Society in Schenectady Sunday about his experiences in Iraq and since coming home after serving 10 months with the 108th Infantry Battalion.

When Olsen came home in August he said he could not go into a bar or diner in uniform without someone buying him a beer or cup of coffee.

"I would rather have the answers than all the beer I can drink," Olsen said.

Olsen says he thinks a better method for showing support for the troops is a public debate about the war that brings answers as to why 135,000 troops are still in Iraq.

Since returning to the United States, Olsen said he is finding that soldiers coming home from Iraq often have a difficult time figuring out what it is they have achieved while serving. He said he has had to deal personally with the deaths of three soldiers -- two from drug overdoses and one from suicide.

"When you are in the service, you only have to make it through until the next day," Olsen said. "We are there for the guy next to us, we're there for the mission."

Olsen doesn't care much for yellow ribbon magnets.

But when servicemen and women get home they enter a gray area, he explained, as they leave the structured world of the military and re-enter the civilian world where there are no visible signs of sacrifice by the general population and the war is reduced to a nightly news feature and headlines.

"We are so isolated," Olsen said of the all-volunteer U.S. military. "We no longer represent the American people."

I debate how much I should discuss the Iraq War with my granddaughter. How can she understand the reality of war when there are no signs of it here at home? I was her age during Vietnam and the signs were there everyday in our living room. Even more so after my sister brought her Marine future husband home.

Today's "modern war" is so sanitized for American consumption that there is reality of it brought home through traditional media. And there is no effort being made by the government here at home to reduce dependence on foreign oil and therefore the causes of this war.

By contrast my parents told me the tales of gathering old pots, pans and other metals to support the war effort during WWII. He did that until he was old enough to sign up for the Army. After the war she went to Europe to help as a nurses aide.

Before leaving he asked the congregation if it would be willing to accept gas at $6 a gallon instead of the cost of a war.

"Part of the problem is we are not troubled at all," Olsen said of the public. "We are very bold as long as it does not require sacrifice."

In related news...

Exxon Mobil reported a second straight record setting quarter of profits. The highest quarterly profits of any U.S. company ever. They also reported a second straight year of the highest profits of any U.S. company ever.

AP reports:
Exxon Mobil Corp. posted record profits for any U.S. company on Monday -- $10.71 billion for the fourth quarter and $36.13 billion for the year -- as the world's biggest publicly traded oil company benefited from high oil and natural-gas prices and solid demand for refined products.

The results exceeded Wall Street expectations and Exxon shares rose more than 3 percent in afternoon trading.

The company's earnings amounted to $1.71 per share for the October-December quarter, up 27 percent from $8.42 billion, or $1.30 per share, in the year ago quarter. The result topped the then-record quarterly profit of $9.92 billion Exxon posted in the third quarter of 2005.

Exxon's profit for the year was also the largest annual reported net income in U.S. history, according to Howard Silverblatt, a senior index analyst for Standard & Poor's. He said the previous high was Exxon's $25.3 billion profit in 2004.

The company said its average sale price for crude oil in the U.S. during the quarter was $52.23 a barrel, compared with $38.85 a year earlier. It sold natural gas in the U.S., on average, for $11.34 per 1,000 cubic feet, compared with $6.61 during the same period a year ago.


To put that into perspective, Exxon's revenue for the year exceeded Saudi Arabia's estimated 2005 gross domestic product of $340.5 billion, according to statistics maintained by the Central Intelligence Agency.

And finally, Wind Power projects begin to take hold in New York State despite the objections of some that "say the benefit of clean energy does not outweigh the cost of a marred view."

1 comment:

kimmy said...

"Olsen said he is finding that soldiers coming home from Iraq often have a difficult time figuring out what it is they have achieved while serving"

"no longer represent the American people..."

I have heard this from my friend who came back a little while ago....