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Member since: Wed Mar 16, 2005, 11:12 AM
Number of posts: 60,364

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Motor vehicle crashes: A little-known risk to returning veterans of Iraq and Afghanistan


Steven Acheson, an Iraq War veteran, at his apartment in Platteville, Wis., May 3, 2013.

Motor vehicle crashes: A little-known risk to returning veterans of Iraq and Afghanistan
By David Brown, Published: May 5

For men and women who have fought in the country’s wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, death behind the wheel is becoming another lethal aftereffect of combat.

After they leave military service, veterans of the two wars have a 75 percent higher rate of fatal motor vehicle accidents than do civilians. Troops still in uniform have a higher risk of crashing their cars in the months immediately after returning from deployment than in the months immediately before. People who have had multiple tours in combat zones are at highest risk for traffic accidents.


That’s probably not the whole story, however. Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), suffered by thousands of veterans, increases aggressive driving. Drunken driving and thrill-seeking also are more common after combat, according to a few studies and the testimony of many veterans.

If further research supports the observations, motor vehicle crashes will join suicide and interpersonal violence as a fatal, if indirect, consequence of the war on terrorism.
Posted by unhappycamper | Tue May 7, 2013, 08:12 AM (0 replies)

Why is Obama withholding secret torture report from Americans?


A massive report on torture reveals it's far less effective than reported. But the CIA refuses to declassify it

Why is Obama withholding secret torture report from Americans?
By Marcy Wheeler
Monday, May 6, 2013 02:08 PM EDT

Much of what you’ve been told (or seen in movies) about George W. Bush’s supposedly effective torture program is false and overhyped. At least, that’s one of the conclusions of the 6,000-page review of the program the Senate Intelligence Committee completed last year.


Before the end of the Bush administration, Sen. Jay Rockefeller, D-W.Va. — then the chairman of the Senate Intelligence Committee — started investigating the torture program. When Sen. Dianne Feinstein, D-Calif., took over as chairwoman of the committee in 2009, she intensified the investigation and negotiated with the CIA to get access to its files. After almost four more years of work and reviewing 6 million pages of documents, the committee voted out the report in December on a mostly party line vote.


In short, the report rebuts claims that torture worked — and specifically the claim made by torture boosters from Dick Cheney to former Counterterrorism Center head Jose Rodriguez that it helped to find Osama bin Laden.

Accounts of the reports’ findings are not limited to whether torture worked. According to Sen. Ron Wyden, D-Ore., it shows “the CIA repeatedly provided inaccurate information about its interrogation program to the White House, the Justice Department, and Congress.”
Posted by unhappycamper | Tue May 7, 2013, 07:47 AM (4 replies)

4 Big Pushers of War in Iraq Now Gunning for Intervention in Syria -- Consequences be Damned!


4 Big Pushers of War in Iraq Now Gunning for Intervention in Syria -- Consequences be Damned!
By Alex KaneMay 6, 2013 |

The news from Syria over the past week has been dizzying. But if you can keep your head on straight you’ll recognize an uptick in strident calls for American intervention in Syria, though it remains unlikely the Obama administration will commit to full-scale war.

The Israeli strikes have been hailed by war hawks as proof that the U.S. and Western allies can easily pummel the Syrian regime to the ground and pave the way for a rebel victory. Calls for intervention have been ratcheting up since Israel, Britain, France and finally the U.S. concluded that there had been chemical weapons use by the Assad regime--a “red line” the Obama administration has warned Syria not to cross. But the chemical weapons use claims were muddied up yesterday when a UN investigator said that it may have been the Syrian rebels that used sarin gas--not the Assad regime. If the UN investigator is right--and there’s no guarantee of that--it should complicate the calls for the U.S. to directly arm the rebels. But considering their track record, proponents for more intervention can’t be stopped by much.

Since the news broke of chemical weapons use, war hawks and their allies in the U.S. have taken to the airwaves and Op-Ed pages to push for U.S. intervention. What’s missing from their analysis is recognition that U.S. intervention to depose Assad would lead to a power vacuum with unknown consequences; that the U.S. would become a target for those opposed to the West, including among the rebel groups; that America has a poor track record of intervening in the Middle East; and that the vast majority of Americans have no desire to get embroiled in another war. Also not on the table: a serious attempt to negotiate, with all international powers, an agreement to end the fighting and begin a transition in Syria. While that won’t be easy, the U.S. and allies have stymied chances of that in the past.

Still, the Obama administration has been cautious. While the “red line” remark was ill-advised, the administration has not rushed into fully diving into the Syrian conflict, although they have helped militarize the civil war by facilitating weapons transfers to Syrian rebels via the CIA.

Posted by unhappycamper | Tue May 7, 2013, 07:43 AM (1 replies)

Air Force sexual assault prevention officer arrested for fondling woman


USAF Lt. Col. Jeff Krusinski

Air Force sexual assault prevention officer arrested for fondling woman
By Eric W. Dolan
Monday, May 6, 2013 16:49 EDT

An officer tasked with preventing sexual assault in the U.S. Air Force has been arrested and charged with a sex crime in Arlington, local media reported.

According to a crime report, Lt. Col. Jeff Krusinski — described as “a drunken male” — allegedly approached a women around 12:35 a.m. in a parking lot, and groped her breasts and butt. The women fought him off, but Krusinski tried to grab her again. The victim did not know 41-year-old man.

Police arrived at the scene and Krusinski was arrested for sexual battery. He was held on a $5,000 bond.

A mugshot obtained by ARL Now showed Krusinski with several scratches on his face. Police could not confirm how he received the minor injuries.
Posted by unhappycamper | Tue May 7, 2013, 06:56 AM (1 replies)

N.C. fracking rule pulled after Halliburton objects


N.C. fracking rule pulled after Halliburton objects
The Associated Press
Saturday, May 4, 2013

RALEIGH – A new rule set for approval by the North Carolina Mining and Energy Commission requiring some disclosure of chemicals used in hydraulic fracturing has been withdrawn at the request of industry giant Halliburton.


The rule-writing panel is under intense pressure from the Republican-controlled legislature to create rules that don’t discourage hydraulic fracturing and energy exploration. Those pressures were exposed in full view this year when legislation was proposed to remove two members from the commission, including the state geologist.

The chemical disclosure rule, as approved March 25 by the commission’s Environmental Standards Committee, would exempt certain chemicals from public disclosure if the company demonstrated they are trade secrets. But the rule is contentious because it would require operators to submit those trade secrets under seal to the N.C. Department of Environment and Natural Resources, in case the data is needed to treat injuries during an emergency.

Agency officials, however, don’t want to keep sensitive data on file because the information is a likely target for legal challenges. And Halliburton doesn’t want the government to safe-keep proprietary information that competitors could try to pry loose under freedom of information laws.
Posted by unhappycamper | Mon May 6, 2013, 09:07 AM (3 replies)

From the Lion's Den: An Open Letter (and Invitation) to Vietnam Veterans


From the Lion's Den: An Open Letter (and Invitation) to Vietnam Veterans
Mark A. Ashwill
Posted: 04/29/2013 1:01 pm

"Find the cost of freedom, buried in the ground, Mother Earth will swallow you, lay your body down..." Listening to this '70s antiwar anthem on a recent afternoon, 38 years after the American War in Vietnam drew to a quick and blessed close, I am staggered by the emotional realization of something I have known on an intellectual level for many years.

In few countries do these words ring truer, purer and more poignantly than in Vietnam, where over 3 million men, women and children died a martyr's death in a war of national liberation. In America, the cost of freedom can be found on the battlefields of Concord, Gettysburg, and Normandy. It also echoes throughout the mountains, valleys, and deltas of Vietnam.

A generation of young Americans went to Vietnam, willingly, unwittingly or by force of law, as pawns of a policy elite, itself a prisoner of a Cold War containment and exceptionalist mentality, ignorant of Vietnamese history and culture and, like those before them and those to follow, utterly incapable of seeing the world through other peoples' eyes.

When all was said and done, the U.S. government walked, or rather, scurried away, leaving behind a shameful legacy of death, destruction and human suffering on a Draconian scale that haunts Vietnam to this day. The ghosts of the American War in Vietnam continue to haunt the U.S., as evidenced by the number of veteran suicides, considerably more than the number killed in action, the broken lives of so many survivors and the country's costly inability to come to terms with its past as prologue.
Posted by unhappycamper | Mon May 6, 2013, 08:50 AM (4 replies)

A Hundred Hungry Men at Guantánamo


A Hundred Hungry Men at Guantánamo
May 1, 2013
Posted by Amy Davidson

Is Guantánamo falling? The Navy sent reinforcements to the prison there on Monday—forty medics, added to the cohort guarding a hundred and sixty-six prisoners, watching them in their cells, and, increasingly, pulling them into rooms where they are strapped to chairs and have rubber tubes stuck into their noses and snaked down to their stomachs, then pumping in a can’s worth of a liquid nutritional supplement. That is what our sailors are assigned to do now. Two weeks ago, according to press reports, guards in riot gear were sent into what had been a cell block for compliant prisoners—a raid on our own jail—to transfer more than sixty of them into single-cell lockdown. It took five hours. The guards ended up firing what the military called “less-than-lethal rounds”—rubber bullets and pellets—while the prisoners threw “improvised weapons” at them. But mostly the prisoners have been starving themselves.

A hundred prisoners are taking part in the hunger strike at Guantánamo now—a hundred angry men, or ones who are in a state of despair. There may be more, since that is the military’s count, and the lawyers for the prisoners have been saying for some time that the number is higher. There are not, it should be said, a hundred prisoners at Guantánamo who even the United States government considers dangerous enemy combatants; that means it’s a mathematical necessity that there are hunger-strikers who shouldn’t be there, either. Eighty-six prisoners have been cleared for release, one way or the other, many of them years ago now, but have not been released. (For many, the problem is that they are from Yemen.) That leaves just eighty. They are roughly divided between those the Administration says it might bestir itself to bring a case against someday, and those it acknowledges it doesn’t have enough evidence against, but finds somehow unsettling, and so is locking up anyway. There are only six prisoners who are now facing military commissions. A month ago, there were only thirty-one hunger strikers by the military’s count, or five times as many as those being tried. Now the ratio is more than sixteen to one.

One doesn’t need to do the math to know that some of the prisoners trying to kill themselves are not enemy combatants, or suspected terrorists, or militants, or any of the phrases we turn to when we are scared and give up on courts. The military hasn’t released the names of all the hunger-striking prisoners, but, as Carol Rosenberg of the Miami Herald, whose coverage of Guantánamo at every stage has been invaluable, notes, it does tell their lawyers when it decides they are weak enough to put on a list for force-feeding. There are twenty-one in that category now. (There are five who are hospitalized—the top level in the hunger-strike hierarchy. The Herald has a timeline showing the growth of the strike.) Rosenberg learned the names of eight, four of whom—Jihad Diyab, a forty-one-year-old Syrian; Mohammed al-Hamiri, a Yemeni in his thirties; and Nabil Hadjarab, thirty-three, and Ahmed Bel Bacha, forty-four, both Algerians—had been cleared for release. The others hadn’t been charged with any crime.

“Is it any surprise, really, that they would prefer death rather than have no end in sight to their confinement?” a reporter asked during a White House press conference on Tuesday. President Obama was aware: “It is not a surprise to me that we’ve got problems in Guantánamo,” he said, and then talked about how he said so back in 2007, and how that was part of his campaign, and how Congressional Republicans had made things very hard. They have; but he, for a couple of years now, has made it easy for them to do so. He said he knew that it wasn’t “sustainable.”
Posted by unhappycamper | Mon May 6, 2013, 08:44 AM (0 replies)

Not Ready for War Drones


Not Ready for War Drones
ZEIT, Germany
By Thomas Wiegold
Translated By Tania Struetzel
30 April 2013
Edited by Bora Mici

Unmanned armed aircraft, also called war drones or killer drones depending on the political context, are a controversial topic in Germany. This is why the announcement that the U.S. has approved the sale of Reaper drones to the German armed forces will foment an intense debate. Yet, a small misunderstanding in this debate is knowingly being tolerated: The consent of the U.S. Congress to deliver war drones to an ally is by far not the same as a German decision to actually purchase them.

Even if Lieutenant General Karl Müllner, commander of the German Air Force, would like to have Reapers with their Hellfire rockets in his arsenal, officers in aircraft uniform do not decide whether he gets them. Only a few years ago, Müllner's predecessor Klaus-Peter Stieglitz wanted to buy the Reaper’s predecessor model Predator drones — at that point still unmanned — for the Afghanistan operation from the U.S. Despite the unanimous opinion of experts at the Air Force and the Ministry of Defense, politics yielded a different result: Germany leased the control system type Heron from an Israeli producer, not least because certain German companies were involved in the deal.

When a decision has to be made soon about the Heron successor, a U.S. model will be competing against an Israeli drone again. And again, the German Air Force favors U.S. systems. The outcome of this decision, however, will now be determined by a completely different problem: Rather than military officials, the aviation regulatory authority, which sets high standards before it approves departures and landings outside no-fly zones in Europe — and by the way also in the U.S. — will determine where these drones are allowed to fly outside of war and crisis zones.

To approve of an aircraft without a pilot, the authorities want to know many details, which they do not receive from U.S. drone manufacturers. U.S. companies rarely allow foreigners insight into the black box — the heart of the control system. Even the Heron recon drone, which is used by the German armed forces in northern Afghanistan, would not be allowed to fly over Germany.
Posted by unhappycamper | Mon May 6, 2013, 07:22 AM (0 replies)

Authorization for Use of Military Force: a blank check for war without end


Authorization for Use of Military Force: a blank check for war without end
By Michael Shank, The Guardian
Sunday, May 5, 2013 9:20 EDT

A handful of Democratic and Republican senators are considering a rewrite of 60 of the most consequential words to ever pass through Congress. The Authorization for Use of Military Force (AUMF), passed after the attacks of 11 September 2001, and provides the legal cornerstone for the so-called US “war on terror”. Only one brave Congress member opposed it. It allows the US government to wage war at anytime, any place and on anyone deemed a threat to national security – with remarkably little evidence needed.

The consequential nature of these words is self-evident: the AUMF opened the doors to the US wars in Iraq, Afghanistan and Libya; attacks on Pakistan, Yemen, Somalia and Mali; the new drone bases in Niger and Djibouti; and the killing of American citizens, notably Anwar al-Awlaki and his 16-year-old noncombatant son. It is what now emboldens the hawks on the warpath to Syria, Iran and North Korea.

Rather than doubling down on war policy, as some senators are inclined to do, Congress should repeal the 2001 law. This “blank check” approach to warfare has to stop. And while the rewrite is being framed by members of both chambers (Senators John McCain and Bob Corker, Representative Buck McKeon and others) as an act of congressional oversight, it is doubtful that these hawks will curb any military authority. They have only ever called for more wars, not fewer. That means more Libyas, Yemens and al-Awlaki‘s.

It is time for members of Congress who truly care about rule of law, oversight and the financial security of this country to speak up. Why? Because, first and foremost, the AUMF continues to contravene congressional oversight. For example, when the Obama administration sent 100 “military advisors” to Uganda in the name of counterterrorism in 2011, Congress received a simple note from President Obama. No oversight.
Posted by unhappycamper | Mon May 6, 2013, 06:26 AM (0 replies)

Chuck Yeager: F-35 Not The Right Stuff


Gen. Chuck Yeager

Chuck Yeager: F-35 Not The Right Stuff

Chuck Yeager, the first pilot to break the sound barrier, had some trenchant comments on the $397 billion F-35 Joint Strike Fighter on his Twitter feed last week:

“I was asked my opinion about the F-35. It's a waste of money. Far too expensive. Give me an F-15 E -- less expensive, will do the job,” he Tweeted.

Yeager, who broke the sound barrier piloting the rocket-powered Bell X-1 on Oct. 14, 1947, turned 90 in February. Judging by his Twitter posts, he has no intention of slowing down.

Yeager shows that Twitter is definitely not the exclusive province of the young.
Posted by unhappycamper | Sun May 5, 2013, 08:55 AM (3 replies)
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