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21 state guardsmen bound for Balkans

Families and friends dressed in red, white and blue filled the 39th Brigade headquarters in North Little Rock to see off 21 Arkansas National Guardsmen for a nine-month mission Thursday morning. Among them, Shannan Rozenberg, who watched through tears the brief deployment ceremony for the troops heading to Kosovo and Bosnia-Herzegovina. It comforted Rozenberg to know that her husband’s mission, his third deployment, is a noncombat one. Nonetheless, it was difficult to say goodbye.

“It’s still not easy,” she said.

Thursday’s sendoff marked the final installment of the 39th Infantry Brigade Combat Team’s three-part deployment this spring. The 130 soldiers will support the Kosovo Force, an ongoing NATO peacekeeping mission that began in response to the end of the war between the Serbian government and its autonomous province of Kosovo. The initial purpose of the mission was to help that nation recover from the conflict by relocating displaced people, removing mines, providing medical assistance, protecting ethnic minorities and supporting the establishment of civilian government. Now, the mission’s purpose is to maintain peace across the Balkans. Brig. Gen. Kirk Van Pelt told the soldiers that their work will continue to stabilize the region.

“The peace and support operations that you are about to undertake will be instrumental in maintaining the local security and to ensure the safety of the citizens of Kosovo for the next year,” Van Pelt said.

Kosovo Force involves roughly 4,500 military members from 29 countries, according to the mission’s website. Thirty Arkansas National Guardsmen were sent May 8, and 80 were sent May 29, Lt. Col. Joel Lynch said. They serve as the headquarters staff in Kosovo, while the troops sent off Thursday will work in training, advisory, supply and administration. In addition to the 21 at the ceremony, two soldiers from the same brigade have already been sent over for training, and four are completing a postal mission in Germany, Lt. Col. Miriam Carlisle said.

“We’re going to do this mission, and we’re going to be back soon,” Carlisle told the families. “Sooner than you think. I hope.”

The troops fly today to Fort Bliss in Texas for training before splitting up to leave for either Pristina, Kosovo, or Sarajevo, Bosnia-Herzegovina. Van Pelt thanked the families for their sacrifices.

“It’s your love and support that allow these soldiers to do what they do to serve our country and our nation,” he said. Toddlers in their mothers’ laps waved small American flags. One soldier put his arm around his wife. His young son, sitting on the other side, grabbed his hand from behind the chair.

The Arkansas National Guard drills one weekend a month, so most of the members deployed Thursday have full-time jobs. Rozenberg’s husband will leave his job as a school superintendent in Bearden.

Living in a town with fewer than 1,000 people an hour and a half from Little Rock, Rozenberg isn’t part of a family support group. But this deployment will be easier than past ones, she said, because she’ll be able to video chat with her husband every day. She also knows it’s what her husband is meant to do.

“He could have retired 10 years ago, but he loves it,” Rozenberg said. “He’s going where he needs to go. He needs to do his part.”

Metro on 06/23/2017

The work ethic is fading among millennials. That applies to royals too

Once upon a time, brother would happily have murdered brother to wear the crown. Families were ripped asunder in pursuit of it, pretenders to the throne routinely met grisly ends, and even marrying into the proximity of royalty could be lethal.

How puzzled Prince Harry s ancestors would be, then, by the interview[1] he has just given in America explaining that nobody really wants to be king any more. The royals are, he explained, only still in business now for the greater good of the people , not because they actually enjoy the gig. Is there any one of the royal family who wants to be king or queen? I don t think so, but we will carry out our duties at the right time, he told the US edition of Newsweek. Like celebrities who tire of fame, or titled families moaning about the cost of maintaining the ancestral pile, princes gloomy about one day having to be king do not exactly invite instant sympathy. After all, if the burden of all that unearned wealth and privilege is so terrible then they could always give it up. Renounce the throne, hand back the keys to Kensington Palace, and see if the life of a commoner forced to earn your own living but free to wander down the street on a sunny day without trailing clouds of close protection officers and paparazzi really is as appealing from the inside as it must sometimes look. Hell, why not go the whole hog and come out for an elected president instead of a monarchy? Let the cursed burden fall to someone who actively wants it although, as ever, the glaring flaw in this argument is imagining the sort of person who might want it. (President Blair? President Richard Branson? God help us, President Farage?)

But constitutional implications aside, there is a human story here that will be recognisable to many distinctly un-regal families, and that s the creeping renunciation of what previous generations have unquestioningly assumed work should be. William and Harry are certainly not alone among millennials in not wanting to slog their guts out as their parents did, and choosing to allow more space for relationships and families. And instead of dismissing them as spoilt brats, older generations might usefully reflect on what it could possibly be about their burnt-out, grumpy, professionally insecure parents that they don t wish to emulate.

It s true that the vast majority of young people can t afford to be so picky. Thousands would be grateful for a job full stop, let alone a crown; others are busy stringing together several precarious half-livings to make the rent, and the great whoosh of twentysomething rage unleashed at the last election[2] is testament to how very far from professionally secure they feel. But it s precisely that insecurity and anxiety, rather than laziness, that seems to be increasingly shaping attitudes to work. If the payoff for doing well at school and slogging through a good degree is a pile of debt, a starter job that could have been done by a school leaver and zero chance of ever having a mortgage, then why pour every ounce of energy into work that seems to offer so little back? Exposure does have consequences; it changes the nature of any job, and who is likely to be attracted to it

Even among those lucky enough to be on relatively secure career paths, something is clearly changing.

Only a third of trainee GPs, according to a survey carried out recently for the King s Fund[3], plan to be working full-time even straight after qualifying. They ve seen the stress older doctors are working under, taking life or death decisions, back to back, all day and then catching up with paperwork late into the night, and they re afraid of burning out if they do the same. Further up the career ladder, the NHS is struggling in some parts of the country to find hospital chief executives because of the pressure that comes with the top job; the knowledge that you ll be held very publicly accountable if anything goes wrong, in a funding climate where things may be increasingly likely to go wrong. Stay one rung below the top, and at least you ll sleep at nights. Governors looking to recruit headteachers[4], especially in challenging neighbourhoods, report similar problems in getting junior teachers to step up. Why take the professional risk of trying to turn schools with deeply entrenched problems around, when it will be your head on the block if Ofsted deems you to have failed? All this may be horrifying to older doctors and headteachers, driven by a strong sense of public service and self-sacrifice and a desire to put something back. But younger professionals who want to work like this aren t necessarily shirking their duty to those they serve, so much as interpreting that duty differently; wanting to be rested enough to take good decisions rather than lurching into sleep-deprived mistakes for which they could find themselves in court. It s failure they may fear, more than hard work.

Obviously, the job the young royals are so gloomily contemplating a bit of light ribbon-cutting, plaque-unveiling and Christmas message-filming, rather than anything life or death is infinitely less demanding by comparison. But again it s the intense public scrutiny[5] to which the princes seem to object, rather than the workload; the daily intrusion[6] into their private lives that is the price now paid for privilege, but which didn t apply in the same way to a previous generation of royal babies. And before dismissing that as whingeing, it s worth remembering that their mother blamed anxiety induced by marrying into the spotlight for fuelling her bulimia, that she died in a car crash while being chased by paparazzi, and that as bereaved children they were expected to walk behind her coffin under the open gaze of millions of strangers[7]. It would be more alarming in the circumstances if William hadn t chosen to hide his children away in rural Norfolk[8], if Harry hadn t grown up with deeply conflicting feelings about the family business.

There s no going back to a time before public servants were held publicly accountable for their mistakes, any more than it is possible for the royals to retreat to an era when all we expected them to do was smile and wave. But exposure does have consequences; it changes the nature of any job, and who is likely to be attracted to it. Princes William and Harry have a perfect right to grapple with these questions, publicly as well as privately. Even if they would be wise to expect precious little sympathy for doing so.

References

  1. ^ interview (www.theguardian.com)
  2. ^ unleashed at the last election (www.theguardian.com)
  3. ^ survey carried out recently for the King s Fund (www.kingsfund.org.uk)
  4. ^ to recruit headteachers (www.nfer.ac.uk)
  5. ^ intense public scrutiny (www.theguardian.com)
  6. ^ daily intrusion (www.theguardian.com)
  7. ^ expected to walk behind her coffin under the open gaze of millions of strangers (www.theguardian.com)
  8. ^ hide his children away in rural Norfolk (www.theguardian.com)

Legal clinic challenges Ontario panhandling law as unconstitutional

TORONTO A Toronto legal clinic has launched a constitutional challenge against an Ontario law that targets panhandling. The Fair Change clinic argues that the Safe Streets Act violates the rights of people who beg for money, including freedom of expression, the right to life, liberty and security of the person and the right to be free from cruel and unusual punishment. The clinic says the law enacted in 2000 to address aggressive panhandling and squeegeeing criminalizes poverty. It says people ticketed under the act are unable to pay the fines.

Gerry Williams, a former Fair Change client, says he faced nearly $10,000 in tickets for panhandling, which the clinic helped him appeal. Williams, who says he had a traumatic upbringing on a fly-in First Nation, says the fines he could never have paid added an extra burden to his homelessness, alcoholism and post-traumatic stress disorder. A previous constitutional challenge failed after the courts agreed the law infringed on individual charter rights, but said the infringement was justified in the interests of public safety.

A spokesman for Ontario s attorney general did not immediately respond to a request for comment.