May 16, 2009 archive

Homeless Heroes: Veterans Struggles

Like a recent tragic event in Iraq brought out a number of reports on PTSD around the country there have also been a number of other reports as well that focussed on the homeless veterans, the first one just below is in and around this Nations Capital:

Homeless War Veterans Abound in D.C. Region

A new report is giving sobering statistics about how homeless veterans are treated in the Washington area.

The report says beds are available for only 10% of the homeless vets in Virginia, 8% have beds in Maryland and in the District, there is room is less than 2%.

From the Iraq War with the Army’s First Calvary Division to fighting a battle to find homes for fellow veterans, Chad Lego says he never imagined when he came home, he would find some 200,000 service members homeless. >>>>>More

Sunday music retrospective: 1964 – Part III


Roy Orbison:  Pretty Woman

The Animals:  House of the Rising Sun

Dystopia 8: The Touch

“There stands, my friend, in yonder pool

An engine called the ducking-stool;

By legal power commanded down

The joy and terror of the town.

If jarring females kindle strife,

Give language foul, or lug the coif,

If noisy dames should once begin

To drive the house with horrid din,

Away, you cry, you’ll grace the stool;

We’ll teach you how your tongue to rule.

The fair offender fills the seat

In sullen pomp, profoundly great;

Down in the deep the stool descends,

But here, at first, we miss our ends;

She mounts again and rages more

Than ever vixen did before.

So, throwing water on the fire

Will make it but burn up the higher.

If so, my friend, pray let her take

A second turn into the lake,

And, rather than your patience lose,

Thrice and again repeat the dose.

No brawling wives, no furious wenches,

No fire so hot but water quenches.”

Benjamin  West  1780

[Note from the author:  Okay…I know this is out of order.  Sorry about breaking tradition, but I just couldn’t get what I wanted out of the next Utopia chapter so I am still working to make it better.

In the mean time I had this pretty well cooked.  So here is the 15th chapter of the Utopia/Dystopia series.]

For Afghans, a lifetime of war, life expectancy of 44

By Abdul Malik Mujahid

According to the CIA World Factbook, an Afghan’s life expectancy is merely 44 years.

That's 20 to 30 years less than neighboring Pakistan and all other surrounding countries. It is just one result of the ongoing devastation in that country.

The war in Afghanistan did not start in 2001 with the US invasion. It began 30 years ago in December 1979, when the former Soviet Union invaded the country. The human toll of the conflict is staggering: more than a million Afghans have been killed and 3 million maimed.

Five million (one third of the pre-war population) were forced to leave their country and became refugees. There are still 3.1 million Afghan refugees today, making up 27 per cent of the global refugee population. Most of them live in Pakistan.

Another two million Afghans were displaced within the country. In the 1980s, one out of two refugees in the world was an Afghan. Most Afghans alive today have seen nothing but war.

Daily life in Afghanistan is miserable.  

The Pelosi/Panetta clown circus

An amusing cone of silence has descended over the CIA and Congress. Like the comical cone of silence in the old TV spy comedy, its purpose is to preserve secrecy, but it actually prevents communication. Both Panetta and Pelosi are telling the public that there is no way to determine the truth of what occurs during a CIA briefing. Why, then, are these briefings conducted? Is it just to pretend that the CIA is not a rogue agency?

Our news media seem not to be troubled at all by the manifest absurdity of state secrets being discussed in informal and undocumented circumstances, leading to confusion and nasty allegations of deceit. We are supposed to believe that this is standard procedure for intelligence professionals and high ranking members of Congress.

This clown circus of finger pointing confirms that the CIA has been nothing more than an unaccountable political tool of the Executive branch. These are the people who do the dirty work of the USA, and their briefing “procedures” ensure that no dirt stains the fingers of our elected officials.

Barak Obama has zero credibility in making the CIA accountable. His choice of the weak and malleable Panetta to “head” the agency is as big a mistake as Bush’s choice of Porter Goss. At the CIA, the inmates are running the asylum, and their antics are growing increasingly absurd.

Weekend News Digest

Weekend News Digest is an Open Thread

From Yahoo News Top Stories

1 India’s ruling Congress alliance wins election

By Sanjeev Miglani, Reuters

Sat May 16, 11:06 am ET

NEW DELHI (Reuters) – Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh’s ruling coalition won an overwhelming election victory on Saturday, boosting hopes of a stable government as the emerging Asian power faces economic downturn and tensions with Pakistan.

Singh’s Congress-led coalition, riding on the back of years of economic growth, did better than expected and will probably be only just short of an outright majority, according to data from the election commission and projections by TV channels.

“The people of India have spoken, and spoken with great clarity,” Singh told reporters.

Spastic Melodrama from the Great Magnet

I’ve been getting the shakes lately, and it’s starting to kind of freak me out. At first I thought it was just the same old inexorable onset of carpal tunnel that affects all designer-wordsmith-rockstars, but its rapid spread outward from my wrists led me to believe that it was in fact something much worse. My heart began to feel jittery, something lumpy and weird began growing in my right arm, and then I got the sweats and couldn’t sleep. I noticed that I was worrying more about what other people thought about me-an impulse that we all suffer from of courseā€š but one I thought I’d finally put way behind me. It seemed the daily stresses of life as a Big-Chilling Thirtysomething were starting to pile up like 405 traffic through Sepulveda, physically manifesting themselves in my pudgy suburban physique. A distant howling of melodramatic paranoia began threatening my every waking moment.

Good Democrats MUST Back Pelosi

Simulposted at Daily Kos

We have all watched the Republican attack machine turn its sights on and destroy many and various people and entities over the last eight years.

Now, one of the “leaders” of the Democratic Party has become their target. The Speaker of the House, Nancy Pelosi (bio). Third in line to be President, second only to Harry Reid in political importance during this time of Change, first woman Speaker, and someone who has done as much if not more to take back the government from the Republicans and give it to the current coalition of Democrats than anyone. At any cost.

Throughout her life, Nancy Pelosi has done all she could for the powerful Democratic Machine in the San Francisco Bay Area, has worked tirelessly to promote electing Democrats in California at every level, has done an extraordinary job at the same task on the national level and has been the very definition of a team player. She has been a key force in electing more Democrats and advancing the Democratic Party’s agenda.

And now she is under attack.

We, as Good Democrats, must now do all that we can to make sure that Speaker Pelosi is paid back for all of her efforts on behalf of The Party.


‘Black Shirts’: The Guantanamo Bay ‘Extreme Repression Force’

Crossposted from Antemedius

The picture at left,  from The First Statement of David Hicks,  at  the UC Davis Center for the Study of Human Rights in the Americas, depicts an Immediate (or Initial)  Reaction Force (IRF) training exercise, demonstrating the manner and formation in which an IRF team would rush at a detainee, slamming the detainee to the ground. Normally, however, members of the team would be wearing body armour, helmets and shin guards,  and would be accompanied by dogs.

‘Soon after arriving at Guantanamo Bay, it became apparent that physical force would be used against the detainees. This was done most openly by the Initial Reaction Force (“IRF”), which consisted of a group of approximately half a dozen soldiers, wearing body armour, helmets and shin guards, and carrying shields and accompanied by dogs. The IRF team would rush in to a cell and slam the detainee to the ground, at which point, in the majority of cases, the soldiers would also strike or kick the detainee”, said Hicks in his opening statements taken from an affidavit filed in the United Kingdom in support of his efforts to retain his British citizenship, in that article.

The remainder of David Hicks  ‘first statement’ goes on to describe much worse treatment of Guantanamo detainees.

I also witnessed many other types of physical abuse of the detainees. I witnessed a Saudi detainee being beaten by an Army guard while at Camp X-Ray. The Saudi, whose name is Jumma, was arguing with a guard by the name of Smith, who was a member of the IRF team and wore kneepads and IRF gear. This incident happened close to when I was transferred from X-Ray to Camp Delta. Jumma was ordered to lie on his stomach in his cell. Jumma lay down as ordered, but continued to argue with Smith, who became very angry, jumped up and came down with his knees on Jumma’s back. Smith then grabbed Jumma by the head and slammed his face into the concrete 10 to 20 times.

Congratulations to Sanctuary!

Amid all the various woes and glooms about the state of journalism today, a bright spot has appeared.

Sanctuary, a wonderful blog whose editors represent the cutting edge when it comes to work on educating and enlightening folks on migrant issues, is to receive the NAM journalism award for journalism in ethnic media.

If you have a chance, go over and give them some love and congratulations.

If you want to know why they’ve received the award, I suggest you read this outstanding post, written by the Editors, entitled The Luis Ramirez Murder: A Logical Step in the Process of Establishing a Subhuman Class.

These writers are changing the face of journalism — individual bloggers who got together and pooled their talents to create something new in the world.

Congratulations to Nezua, Kyle, Duke, Edmundo, Kai and Kety.

Docudharma Times Saturday May 16

Torture Is A Crime  

Saturday’s Headlines:

Cheney said Gitmo detainees revealed Iraq-al Qaida link

Sri Lankan army ‘encircling’ last refuge of Tamil rebels

Refugees’ plight worsens in searing heat

Prison, revolution and reconciliation

The ‘H’ word came… and the Berlin audience roared with laughter

Iraq’s fledgeling navy takes possession of its first naval patrol boat

Pressed on Palestinian state, Netanyahu changes the subject – to Iran

‘Hostage killed’ in Nigeria Delta

CIA Chief Rebuts Pelosi’s Charges

Panetta Says Lawmakers Were Told About Use of Interrogation Methods

By Perry Bacon Jr. and Joby Warrick

Washington Post Staff Writers

Saturday, May 16, 2009

CIA Director Leon Panetta yesterday rejected  House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s charge that the agency misled her about its use of coercive interrogation methods, escalating a controversy that has dogged the speaker for weeks and intensifying a debate over Bush administration policies that the Obama administration has tried to avoid.

Panetta, whom President Obama tapped to lead the CIA this year, reasserted the agency’s claim that it told congressional leaders about the use of such methods during a closed-door briefing in September 2002.

Pelosi (D-Calif.) has acknowledged attending the briefing but says she was told only that the CIA was considering the use of waterboarding, a technique that simulates drowning.

Rumsfeld’s renegade unit blamed for Afghan deaths

Special Forces group implicated in three incidents that claimed the lives of hundreds of innocent civilians / MarSOC was set up by former defence secretary despite opposition from within the Marine Corps

By Jerome Starkey in Kabul

Saturday, 16 May 2009

A single American Special Forces group was behind at least three of Afghanistan’s worst civilian casualty incidents, The Independent has learnt, raising fundamental questions about their ongoing role in the conflict.

Troops from the US Marines Corps’ Special Operations Command, or MarSOC, were responsible for calling in air strikes in Bala Boluk, in Farah, last week – believed to have killed more than 140 men, women and children – as well as two other incidents in 2007 and 2008. News of MarSOC’s involvement in the three incidents comes just days after a Special Forces expert, Lieutenant-General Stanley McChrystal, was named to take over as the top commander of US and Nato troops in Afghanistan. His surprise appointment has prompted speculation that commando counterinsurgency missions will increase in the battle to beat the Taliban.


The machinery behind health-care reform

Lobbyists score unexpected victory channeling billions to electronic records

By Robert O’Harrow Jr.

Washington Post Staff Writer

WASHINGTON – When President Obama won approval for his $787 billion stimulus package in February, large sections of the 407-page bill focused on a push for new technology that would not stimulate the economy for years.

The inclusion of as much as $36.5 billion in spending to create a nationwide network of electronic health records fulfilled one of Obama’s key campaign promises — to launch the reform of America’s costly health-care system.

But it was more than a political victory for the new administration. It also represented a triumph for an influential trade group whose members now stand to gain billions in taxpayer dollars.

Late Night Karaoke

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