- Associated Press - Tuesday, April 8, 2014

Recent editorials from Georgia newspapers:

April 4

Savannah (Ga.) Morning News on an Iranian radical’s request for a U.S. visa:

In 1979, Hamid Abutalebi was among the Iranian radicals who illegally seized the U.S. Embassy in Tehran and held 52 Americans for 444 days.

Today, he wants a U.S. visa so he can enter this country and serve as Iran’s ambassador to the United Nations.

This request is an insult to America.

President Obama shouldn’t just deny it. He should send back Abutalebi’s application form in tiny little pieces.

Many younger Americans weren’t alive when Iranian demonstrators burst through the doors at the American embassy and took everyone inside hostage. President Jimmy Carter correctly called these captives “victims of terrorism and anarchy.” Some were beaten and tortured. Others were forced to undergo mock executions or play Russian roulette.

Not surprisingly, Abutalebi argues he was an interpreter and negotiator. Not someone who had a pistol or rifle in his hand.

But there’s no difference between these roles. He was a terrorist who was part of this criminal mob. He has no business in this country.

This week, a bipartisan group of 29 U.S. senators sent Obama a letter, urging that the State Department reject Abutalebi’s request. It includes liberals like Chuck Schumer of New York and conservatives like Ted Cruz of Texas. Georgia senators Johnny Isakson and Saxby Chambliss have signed it as well. …

Isakson has called on the Senate to approve a bill that would compensate the hostages, who were released shortly after President Reagan took office. Each have received $50 per day, or about $22,000 each, from the U.S. government for their days in captivity. Isakson wants to boost that amount, using a surcharge added to penalties assessed against companies that do business with Iran in violation of U.S. sanctions.

His bill deserves support. In the meantime, older Americans haven’t forgotten the misery of the hostage crisis and the daily updates on “Nightline.” Iran’s radicalized leaders haven’t done much to change their ways since then either.

None of the hostage-takers are welcome on American soil. They are goons, not diplomats.

Abutalebi’s selection as Iran’s envoy to the U.N. is an obvious slap in this country’s face. Obama must return the favor.




April 4

The Albany (Ga.) Herald on the need for mental health for the military:

Investigators may never know exactly why a U.S. soldier, Ivan Lopez, went on a homicidal rampage at Fort Hood, killing three people and wounding 16 more before, when confronted by a military police officer, he turned his gun on himself.

On Thursday, however, Lt. Gen. Mark Milley did make a statement on what most likely was the underlying cause - mental disorder. “We have very strong evidence that he had a medical history that indicates unstable psychiatric or psychological conditions,” Milley told reporters.

Speaking to a U.S. Senate committee, Army Secretary John McHugh said the 34-year-old Lopez “was undergoing a variety of treatments and diagnoses for mental health conditions, ranging from depression to anxiety to some sleep disturbance.”

Lopez, who served in the Puerto Rico National Guard and who had been in the Army since 2008, was prescribed medications to deal with the mental health issues, McHugh said. …

This is the second time a deadly shooting has taken place at Fort Hood. In 2009, former psychiatrist Nidal Hasan, then an Army major, created an even bigger bloodbath by killing 13 and wounding 32 others. In Hasan’s case, the murders and assaults were steeped in his twisted view of religion. Convicted of the murders, he is awaiting lethal injection. Beside the location, another common element was where Lopez bought the .45-caliber weapon he sneaked on base - the same Guns Galore store where Hasan bought his.

It also follows the Washington Navy Yard shooting in September in which a dozen were slain and four were hurt before police killed the gunman, and last month’s killing of a sailor by a civilian aboard a Navy ship at Norfolk, Va.

These attacks on our military by those they should be able to trust point to two things. One, security at our bases must continually be reviewed and improved. We send these brave men and women to protect freedom from those who would do us harm. We should ensure their safety, especially on U.S. soil.

Second, more needs to be done in the way of treating active military personnel and veterans who are facing mental challenges from their work on behalf of their country. With two long-term wars since Sept. 11, 2001, those who serve in our armed forces have been asked to carry a heavy burden, one that, according to findings of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, leaves them at greater risk for physical and mental problems. …

What’s in place is not working as well as it needs to. Getting the proper help for men and women who have placed their health and their lives on the line for our nation needs to be a greater priority for the military, the politicians in Washington and the American people. Those of us who live in freedom because of what our military has done for us should demand it.




April 7

The Augusta (Ga.) Chronicle on a youth movement in golf:

Some people still misjudge golf as exclusively an older person’s sport.

Really, now - where do you think older golfers come from?

We’ll tell you where - from places such as the Drive, Chip and Putt National Finals.

More than 17,000 boys and girls ages 7 to 15 competed in local and regional qualifiers to win one of 88 coveted spots in the finals Sunday at Augusta National Golf Club. Competitors were scored after executing their best drives and chips, and their best putts from distances of 6, 20 and 30 feet. Eight winners topped their age brackets.

This is the event’s first year, a team effort by the Augusta National, the U.S. Golf Association and the PGA of America. The young golfers got to use the club’s Tournament Practice Range facilities, the clubhouse putting green and the National’s iconic 18th hole. …

The Augusta area has long been synonymous with golf, but in recent years has moved to the forefront of encouraging youth golf. Across the Savannah River, later this month, the Junior Invitational at Sage Valley Golf Club will get underway. Only three years old, the invitation-only tournament showcases the best junior golfers from around the world, and already is widely considered to be the best junior tournament on the planet.

And no discussion of younger golfers can continue without mentioning The First Tee, the wonderful national organization that encourages and cultivates the best traits in its members. The First Tee takes the lessons of golf and passes them on to children as lessons for life - how to set goals, manage emotions, resolve conflicts and even how to communicate better. Other sports arguably impart similar lessons, but none in the way that golf does, especially when it comes to respecting others and respecting yourself.

The burgeoning youth movement in golf isn’t just encouraging for the game of golf itself. It provides a framework to allow children to grow into better, responsible adults - and have fun doing it.

You find that refreshing mix of poise and enthusiasm in Drive, Chip and Putt golfers such as California’s Kelly Xu, who at age 9 became the first female golfer Sunday to notch a tournament victory at the Augusta National. How many fourth-graders make history like that?

A lot of folks were fortunate enough to see all these sharp kids perform Sunday. If you didn’t see it live and in person, you might have caught it on the Golf Channel, where they devoted five hours of coverage to it. Imagine how many kids saw the finals unfold on TV and got bitten by the golfing bug.

The energy of the Drive, Chip and Putt National Finals was overwhelming - both from the kids who competed and the adults who marveled at them. The newest tradition of Masters Week combined superb athletic fun with an important sense of purpose.



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