Archive for March, 2008
by Jason Forrester, Veterans For America Here are the top stories this week related to our soldiers here and abroad, taken from the Our Troops Newsladder. Sen. John McCain, running on his foreign policy expertise, told reporters in Jordan repeatedly that Iran was supplying al Qaeda, a Sunni group, when in fact officials believe they are supplying Shiite extremists in Iraq. The fact that we even have to wonder whether he believes that or that his wires are getting crossed is enough to cause a shudder. (vetvoice.com) The Iraq Winter Soldier hearings took place this week. Independent media were crucial to its occurrence and its viewership. (www.veteransforcommonsense.org) The Billings Gazette discusses the very successful overhaul of the Montana National Guard’s PTSD program. (www.billingsgazette.com) Sen. Barack Obama spoke in West Virginia on Thursday about the toll the war in Iraq has taken on the economy. With the economy having replaced the war as the voters’ chief concern, Obama made a case that a continuation of the war amounts to a continuation of our economic problems. (nytimes.com) Last, a The New York Times explored the problems widows and parents of fallen servicemen face balancing grief and windfall when they receive $500,000 in survivor benefits. Veterans of America is proud to sponsor the Our Troops Newsladder, a new tool to find the top news and articles in the progressive community by, about and for our troops.
(From NYTimes.com) Facebook, the vast and expanding social networking Web site, is about to confront users with a serious new question: What’s your blood type? A program to be officially introduced on Monday by a New York-area nonprofit organization called Takes All Types aims to better coordinate where and when people donate blood in response to shortages and crises while encouraging broader donation over all. For those who opt in, the system will send out alerts through Facebook — as well as by phone, fax, e-mail and text message — when their blood type is needed in their area. It will also send out reminders for regular donations. A high-technology, focused blood drive is the latest indication that Facebook, started in 2004 as a way for college students to stay in touch, has since become a place for people to link up for practically any reason, with civic-minded pursuits now playing a larger role. By late in 2006, when its founders decided to throw open the network to anyone interested, Facebook said it had 10 million active users. Today, according to the company, it has more than 65 million, and people 35 and older are its fastest-growing group. “The more people that are on Facebook, the more other people want to be on Facebook,” said Lisa Cosmas Hanson, managing partner of Niko Partners, a market research firm in San Jose, Calif. While the site may still be dominated by games, photos and the random thoughts of acquaintances (typical postings keep people of abreast of what others are reading, eating or seeing out the window) Facebook’s size alone now lends itself to a wide range of pursuits, from the whimsical and the bizarre to the serious and profit-minded. Presidential candidates now advise millions of people on their whereabouts through Facebook, while offering videos of appearances. People exchange information about the nutritional value of school lunches, the latest Britney Spears crisis, prospects for their favorite baseball team or efforts to combat malaria in Cambodia. Add to that list a volunteer network of people willing to contribute blood locally when supplies of their blood type are running low. “We were reacting to our sense that most of what was on Facebook was too academic or frivolous,” said Ben Bergman, a New York recruiter for online media companies who started the program with his partner, Richard Hecker. They enlisted others, including software developers and public relations people, and found immediate interest from hospitals and blood banks. “The whole thing was done in about three months, for about $500,” Mr. Bergman said. As Facebook continues to grow and mature, such undertakings seem likely to multiply, technology specialists say. “This suggests that you can do almost anything when you have a growing network,” said Michael A. Cusumano, a professor at the Sloan School of Management at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. “That’s the core of what Facebook’s value is — that you have this increasing network of people and you can lay almost anything on top of it.”