Our Voice: Thumbs up to Chiawana High School's remarkable Riverhawks

December 16, 2013 

To Chiawana High School's football program for an amazing year that ended with what is arguably the most exciting minute in state high school football history and for helping head coach Steve Graff earn his second State Coach of the Year award.

Trailing Camas by two touchdowns with 1 minute, 5 seconds remaining, the Riverhawks refused to give up, staging an impossible comeback that no one watching will ever forget.

By now, the story is familiar to most sports fans in the Tri-Cities. Quarterback Joey Zamora shot the ball into the hands of Dre Dorton at the 10-yard line, who raced into the end zone.

Then came the successful onside kick recovered by Deion Singleton, followed by a never-say-die drive that put the Riverhawks at the 4-yard line with seven seconds left.

With two Camus defenders closing in, Zamora hit Blake Bishop in the end zone with a short pass to win the game.

Herald sports reporter Craig Craker wrote a compelling account of the final moments of the game. It's available online at tinyurl.com/TCH-Craker and well worth the trouble of finding and reading.

It's one thing to believe that anything is possible but inspirational to prove it.

Billion-dollar error

Thumbs down to the senior Pentagon officials responsible for brokering a $1 billion deal to buy dozens of Russian Mi-17 rotorcraft for Afghanistan's security forces.

In trying to assure skeptical members of Congress that the purchase was a good idea, the officials repeatedly cited a top-secret 2010 study they said named the Mi-17 as the best choice.

Even if that were true, it would still make more sense to go with an American-made helicopter. After all, they are good enough for our troops and the sale would provide much-needed jobs in a sluggish economy.

But it wasn't true. The secret study found the U.S. Army's workhorse Chinook, built by Boeing in Pennsylvania, to be "the most cost-effective single platform type fleet for the Afghan Air Force over a twenty year" period, according to excerpts obtained by The Associated Press.

In other words, Pentagon officials lied to justify a terrible decision that hurt American workers. Unacceptable.

Ungrateful guests

Thumbs down to Russian diplomats and their families for allegedly swindling American taxpayers. Participants in the alleged insurance fraud were diplomats posted to New York City. They are now accused of fraudulently applying for Medicaid benefits over nine years.

Prosecutors characterized the scheme as an audacious swindle of the federal health benefits program for the needy, orchestrated by officials in the Russian Consulate in New York and its mission to the United Nations, The Associated Press reported.

Of the 63 babies born to Russian diplomats and their spouses in New York City between 2004 and 2013, 58 births -- 92 percent -- were in families that received Medicaid benefits, the according to the criminal complaint.

The complaint says an 18-month investigation of the 49 defendants' applications revealed "general patterns of misrepresentations, which allowed them to qualify for Medicaid."

"Diplomacy should be about extending hands, not picking pockets in the host country," said Preet Bharara, the United States attorney in Manhattan, whose office announced Thursday that it had charged 49 past or present Russian diplomats and their spouses in the $1.5 million Medicaid fraud case.

The defendants all had diplomatic immunity, so none had been arrested. Bharara said the state department could seek a waiver of immunity from the Russian government to allow a prosecution to go forward.

While he's at it, maybe he can get a $1 billion refund for Russian helicopters the U.S. shouldn't have bought in the first place.

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