Saturday, January 21, 2012

All these gifts and it's not even my birthday - yet

It's not quite the light at the end of the tunnel, but the Navy has announced it plans to offer voluntary early retirement to certain Sailors who must separate from the military due to the recent decisions of the Enlisted Retention Board (ERB).

The Temporary Early Retirement Authority (TERA) is a temporary program that offers eligible members with 15 to 20 years of active service the option of  voluntary, early retirement at a reduced monthly stipend.

According to the official website of the Navy,
Sailors who will have completed at least 15 years of active service as of Sept. 1, 2012, and who were not selected for retention by the ERB, will be eligible for early retirement benefits under TERA.

Eligible Sailors who desire early retirement under TERA must submit an application. As TERA is not an entitlement, all eligible members must apply to receive benefits, and all applications may not necessarily be approved. Detailed application procedures will be promulgated in a future NAVADMIN. Eligible Sailors who wish to apply for TERA will have their ERB results held in abeyance to facilitate their application for voluntary retirement.

Sailors whose TERA application is approved will be retired voluntarily no later than Sept. 1, 2012, and will not be entitled to involuntary separation pay (ISP). However, Sailors will remain qualified for enhanced ERB transition benefits until their retirement date.
This news won't brighten the days of those sailors with 14 years, 11 months and 29 days of service, but it is potentially good news for those who have served one day longer.

There is more information about the Enlisted Retention Board, visit the ERB site or call 1-866-U-ASK-NPC. 

On another note, Congress has dropped SOPA and PIPA - for now. Thirteen million Americans chose Jan. 18 to tell their elected officials to protect free speech rights on the Internet, while the world watched. Major sites were blacked out and we learned how much we might be missing if legislation passed that would, in effect, censor much of what we have come to expect from our Internet over the past 10 years or more.

This unprecedented grassroots activism may have changed the way people fight for the public interest and basic rights.

Two of my three elected officials responded to my emailed concern.
One told me, among other things:
I, and many others, have some very serious and legitimate concerns about SOPA, the way it is written, and its broad implications. Intended or not, the implications of SOPA as it was introduced in the House can be far beyond what its advocates say is the intent. SOPA needs to be subject to extensive Congressional hearings so that all of its implications can be fully understood by everyone. This is a perfect example of why legislation should not be rushed through Congress. . . .

SOPA was introduced out of a concern that an increasing number of overseas-based websites are selling or making available pirated intellectual property, which is a violation of U.S. intellectual property laws. There are already processes in place to handle U.S. based websites that violate intellectual property rights. But if these websites are operating overseas, U.S. individuals and companies who are having their property stolen and misused do not have judicial recourse to shut them down or force them to pay back the profits they've made off of the stolen property. Movies are one example of property that is often stolen and then streamed from an overseas location. I think we need to continue to look at how this concern might be addressed, but SOPA as introduced in the House went far beyond addressing that issue and created a host of problems, even for inadvertent violations.
The other wrote:
As you may be aware, on May 12, 2011, Senator Patrick Leahy (VT) introduced the Preventing Real Online Threats to Economic Creativity and Theft of Intellectual Property Act of 2011 (PROTECT IP/ PIPA, S. 968), which is meant to curb the online theft of intellectual property, much of which is occurring through rogue websites overseas in China. As a senator from Florida, a state with a large presence of artists, creators and businesses connected to the creation of intellectual property, I have a strong interest in stopping online piracy that costs Florida jobs. It was with this in mind that I was previously a co-sponsor of the PROTECT IP Act. I believe it's important to protect American ingenuity, ideas and jobs from being stolen through Internet piracy. However, we must do this while simultaneously promoting an open, dynamic Internet environment that is ripe for innovation and can promote new technologies.
Last summer, the Senate Judiciary Committee passed the bill unanimously and without controversy. Since then, I've heard from a number of Floridians who have raised legitimate concerns about the impact this bill could have on Internet access, as well as a potentially unreasonable expansion of the federal government's authority to impact the Internet. Congress should listen and avoid rushing through a bill that could have many unintended consequences.
Therefore, I have decided to withdraw my support for the PROTECT IP Act. Furthermore, I have encouraged Majority Reid to abandon his plan to rush the bill to the floor. Instead, we should take more time to address the concerns raised by all sides, and come up with new legislation that addresses Internet piracy while protecting free and open access to the Internet. Please know that I will remain mindful of your concerns should this, or similar legislation, such as the Stop Online Privacy Act (SOPA, H.R. 3261), come before the Senate for consideration.
Maybe someone really is paying attention.
My final gift (for this week) arrives tomorrow in the form of  the online debut of Fragile House.