Getting an education on the geography of Kosovo

    Little did I know when I left my office last Wednesday afternoon that I’d be off for the rest of the week, under the weather. So I didn’t bring home with me some of the numerous items readers have been kind enough to submit to me. Several are lying on my desk awaiting my return. So I guess I’ll just have to “dog it” for now.
    I’m writing this column from my computer at home, which has become somewhat of a stranger to me lately. But it’s good to know I won’t have to “miss a beat” in keeping up with my columns and editorials.
    I was pleased to see in the Exponent and Telegram one day last week a close-up map of the Baltic region of Eastern Europe and Channel 5’s Ken Kerr’s special segment, “Kosovo 101.”
    United States road atlases don’t change all that often, except when a new segment of highway or interstate opens somewhere. But world atlases — we don’t seem to refer to them as much — are changing all the time.
    About 10 years ago, most of the area that was shown in the map was all part of the former nation of Yugoslavia. And although we still often refer to it as Yugoslavia here in the U.S., Belgrade — I think it’s supposed to be pronounced bel’-grod with a roll of the “r” — is the capital of Serbia, technically speaking.
    While nations such as Czechoslovakia, Bulgaria and Romania have pretty much rejected communism, there continues to be struggling in the nations that comprise the “old” Yugoslavia — Serbia, Croatia, Bopsnia and Herzegovina, Montenegro, the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, Albania and, of course, the center of attention now, Kosovo. (Which doesn’t rhyme with Kokomo.)
    Look at an older world atlas or in an encyclopedia. The publishers can’t keep up with the changes, it seems. But I thought the map was a great help and Ken Kerr’s “Kosovo 101” were of great assistance in learning about the troubles. I clipped the map out. ‘Hope you saved yours, too.
    There has been civil strife in that region for many years. That unenlightened despot, Slobodan Milosevic, has wreaked much havoc and may seem to some as though he’s Adolph Hitler reincarnated with his ethnic cleansing and ethnic slaughter.
    Heaven knows, I’m no expert on the subject. But I have real trouble wondering why NATO and the United States are getting into perhaps another Vietnam. Although President Bill Clinton maintains that ground troops won’t be needed, it’s beginning to look as if he and NATO are on the verge of it even now. Sending American service men and women over there into harm’s way as ground troops would be, as Joint Chiefs of Staff Chairman Shelton termed it, “a long and drawn-out process.”
Remember Vietnam? Hello?
    From what I’ve picked up on the whole matter, there’s been a long civil war over there that’s in danger of quickly escalating into a major world war. I can’t believe this is what anyone can look in the mirror and tell himself that he wants. Not even Bill Clinton!
    As American people, I think we should pray in earnest to our God for the plight of innocent people everywhere — refugees as well as service people. And also for the prompt removal, by whatever means necessary, of Slobodan Milosevic and his loyal followers. I believe that God has a way of straightening out the messes that his people get themselves into.
    But the reality is that air strikes are continuing. And there’s a NATO (and U.S.) presence over there. So by having the map appear, at least we’ve been given a closeup of the “playing field” over in the Baltics. Now when we hear of Podgorica or Skopje or Sarajevo or Tirana or Pristina, we’ll know where they are.
    I don’t pretend that this Bob’n’Along in any way competes with Ken Kerr’s explanation last week. His was factual. Mine was commentary.
    In conclusion, my computer keeps asking me if I’m sure I want to stay on-line. I keep clicking onto “Yes.” Is it trying to tell me something?



When common sense
does not compute

    It’s good that Lewis County resident Ralph Hinzman can still keep his sense of humor. It must be awfully hard to make jokes after he was trampled on by some pea-brained bureaucrat in Washington.
    Hinzman, who is 87, sells mutual funds. He must be a pretty good salesman because he still has about 500 customers.
What he didn’t have for a long time was a computer. And that got him in hot water with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission.
    He was recently sent a form by the SEC asking him how he planned to comply with Y2K. Hinzman simply wrote on the form: “Not applicable. We don’t have a computer.”
    That would seem simple enough. He doesn’t have a computer, ipso facto, he doesn’t have a Y2K problem.
The SEC replied that the response was “not sufficient,” and after some communication by mail and on the phone, the agency fined Hinzman $5,000 for failing to properly respond to its inquiry.
    “We brought action against his firm and 36 others,” said SEC spokesman Tim Warner. “The rule did not say whether or not you have a computer.”
    We sympathize with Mr. Warner. He’s a PR guy who has to articulate, as best he can, the stupidity of his employers.
Whether or not the SEC started off by asking if Hinzman had a computer — which apparently it did not — what did he have to do to make them understand that HE DID NOT HAVE A COMPUTER!
How can one have a plan for Y2K when one does not have a computer?
    Still, the SEC leveled a $5,000 fine and Hinzman dutifully paid it. In addition, Hinzman broke down and bought himself a computer so as not to be sandbagged again by Uncle Sam.
    This story has received a good bit of publicity lately. It’s one of those water cooler kinds of stories that get people incensed, if only for a little while. We hope that the SEC is sufficiently embarrassed by this sad episode and returns the $5,000 to Mr. Hinzman.
    But we’re not going to hold our breath.

Today’s editorial reflects the opinion of the Exponent editorial board, which includes John G. Miller, Julie R. Cryser, James Logue, Kevin Courtney and Cecil Jarvis.



President Clinton
has embarrassed
this nation enough
    Just when it seemed that self-respecting Americans had heard enough on the seemingly unending parade of embarrassments brought upon us by a chief executive that a majority of U.S. voters elected not once, but twice, last week there was one more item.
    Last Monday, a federal judge held him in civil contempt of court for his “willful refusal” to be truthful about his relationship with Monica Lewinsky during his Jan. 17, 1998, deposition in the Paula Jones sexual harassment case. The ruling by U.S. District Judge Susan Webber Wright — she oversaw the Jones case — is a legal sanction.
    “False, misleading and evasive answers” that were designed to “obstruct the judicial process” was the ruling against the president of the United States. This ruling came two months after Clinton was acquitted by the U.S. Senate on perjury and obstruction charges.
    American historians say it’s the first time a president has been found in contempt by a judge. Wright plans to refer the matter to the Arkansas Supreme Court’s Committee on Professional Conduct for review, and that panel could disbar William Jefferson Clinton, 42nd President of the United States, from practicing law.
    The $1,202 he was ordered to reimburse the court for Wright’s travel to Washington for the January 1998 deposition and the “reasonable expenses, including attorney’s fees” to Paula Jones are “small potatoes” in contrast to the possibility of disbarment from a historical perspective.
    It is the fact that a sitting president was involved sexually with a young White House intern to begin with, even after incidents involving Gennifer Flowers and Paula Jones had surfaced, that has shocked and disgraced this nation at one of the worst possible times in history.
    And we are only referring to his immoral acts here, not any shady dealings in the Whitewater scandal involving Bill and Hillary Rodham Clinton, or the numerous lies he has been documented as having told in office since first being inaugurated Jan. 20, 1993.
    We feel that the immorality of a U.S. president alone brings a nation to a point of crisis. But it was unthinkable that Clinton’s popularity soared to virtually heroic proportions, even after some really ugly truths were brought out. And then there was the acquittal in mid-February.
    Will these eventualities be a sign to future presidential candidates — and presidents — that it is all right to behave in such a manner because, after all, it is the President of the United States and he can get away with most anything?
    When will a lethargic, ultra-tolerant nation of people begin to realize that the rest of the world looks upon such permissiveness as a sign of great weakness?
    More importantly — much more importantly — how will God Himself regard a country that has seemed to be saying “the sky’s the limit” on the very behavior the Holy Bible has warned about for centuries?
    The United States and its chief executive have been disgraced in the court of world opinion, regardless of what select polls in this nation have announced to the contrary. If ever there has been a time for an awakening by a nation, that time is surely now.
    What happens in the 2000 election is one way to tell if we are still asleep.

 Robert F. Stealey
Telegram Editorial Board chairman



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