When Claudette Soden put up a sign asking motorists to beep for Jesus outside her business in Naugatuck, Conn., fellow business owner Phil Young took exception. He thought it smacked of religious intolerance, so he erected his own sign.
Jon Town has spent the last few years fighting two battles, one against his body, the other against the US Army. Both began in October 2004 in Ramadi, Iraq. He was standing in the doorway of his battalion’s headquarters when a 107-millimeter rocket struck two feet above his head. The impact punched a piano-sized hole in the concrete facade, sparked a huge fireball and tossed the 25-year-old Army specialist to the floor, where he lay blacked out among the rubble.
“The next thing I remember is waking up on the ground.” Men from his unit had gathered around his body and were screaming his name. “They started shaking me. But I was numb all over,” he says. “And it’s weird because… because for a few minutes you feel like you’re not really there. I could see them, but I couldn’t hear them. I couldn’t hear anything. I started shaking because I thought I was dead.”
Eventually the rocket shrapnel was removed from Town’s neck and his ears stopped leaking blood. But his hearing never really recovered, and in many ways, neither has his life. A soldier honored twelve times during his seven years in uniform, Town has spent the last three struggling with deafness, memory failure and depression. By September 2006 he and the Army agreed he was no longer combat-ready.
But instead of sending Town to a medical board and discharging him because of his injuries, doctors at Fort Carson, Colorado, did something strange: They claimed Town’s wounds were actually caused by a “personality disorder.” Town was then booted from the Army and told that under a personality disorder discharge, he would never receive disability or medical benefits.
Town is not alone. A six-month investigation has uncovered multiple cases in which soldiers wounded in Iraq are suspiciously diagnosed as having a personality disorder, then prevented from collecting benefits. The conditions of their discharge have infuriated many in the military community, including the injured soldiers and their families, veterans’ rights groups, even military officials required to process these dismissals.
They say the military is purposely misdiagnosing soldiers like Town and that it’s doing so for one reason: to cheat them out of a lifetime of disability and medical benefits, thereby saving billions in expenses.
Terry, the veterans’ advocate from IWVO, notes that unlike doctors in the private sector, Army doctors who give questionable diagnoses face no danger of malpractice suits due to Feres v. U.S., a 1950 Supreme Court ruling that bars soldiers from suing for negligence. To maintain that protection, Terry says, most doctors will diagnose personality disorder when prodded to do so by military officials.
Microsoft will be forced to hand over to rivals what the group claims is sensitive and valuable technical information about its Windows operating system for next to no compensation, according to a confidential document seen by the Financial Times.
The group is required to license the technical information to competing groups under the terms of the European Commission’s antitrust ruling issued three years ago. Brussels hopes the order will allow rivals to design server software that runs more smoothly with Windows.
The Commission last month accused Microsoft of demanding excessive royalties from licences.
Microsoft wants up to 5.95 per cent of companies’ server revenues as a licence fee.
But the confidential statement of objections from the Commission in the long-running dispute makes clear that Microsoft will at best be allowed to levy a tiny fraction of the royalties it is demanding.
According to calculations by the Commission’s technical expert, Prof Neil Barrett, Microsoft’s demands would mean that rivals could recoup their development costs after seven years.
The Commission’s expert, who was suggested for the post by Microsoft, goes on to calculate that even an average royalty rate of 1 per cent would be unacceptable for licensees. Prof Barrett states that a 0 per cent royaltywould be “better” and adds: “We can only conclude on this basis that the Microsoft-proposed royalties are prohibitively high [...] and should be reduced in line with this analysis.”