May 26, 2010 archive

Blast-Induced Brain Injuries from Iraq and Afghanistan

What has been called the “signature wound” of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan- the mild brain damage troops suffer from a roadside bomb – might be so unique in its destruction that it could be a newly discovered disease, scientists say.

Army field studies have shown that more than 10% of troops in Iraq and Afghanistan have suffered at least one concussion or brain injury, the vast majority of those from exposure to a homemade bomb or improvised explosive device. Five percent to 15% of mild TBI patients develop lasting problems with concentration, short-term memory, fatigue and chronic headaches.

One of those is former Army Spec. Michael Cain, who lost his right leg below the knee in a roadside explosion in Iraq in 2003. Today, he is still plagued with short-term memory loss, difficulty concentrating and irritability.

“If they tell me some important stuff, like appointments, if I don’t write it down or put it in my BlackBerry right away, I’m not going to remember,” Cain says.

Unemployed and living on a medical retirement income, Cain says he is uncertain about his future.

“I really wish that they’d go away,” he says of symptoms such as short-term memory loss and his tendency to startle easily. “I didn’t want them to tell me I had a brain problem, because I was a pretty smart person before. I had straight A’s. … It really frustrates me.”

Wednesday 5/26 “Top Kill Is A Go ” thread

edit update(See Thursday morning update at bottom of diary)

Rr. Admiral Landry granted approval for BP to begin plugging the well. (Wednesday am)

5/26/10  11:53 am CST


Federal On-Scene Coordinator Rear Admiral Mary Landry, acting on the validation of government scientists and in consultation with the National Incident Commander Admiral Thad Allen, has granted approval for BP to begin proceeding with their attempt to cap the well using the technique known as the “top kill.”

This expedited step provides the final authorization necessary to begin the procedure.

Per the Joint Information Center Unified Command,…   “TOP KILL” is a Go at the blown out BP Oil rig a mile under the Gulf of Mexico, and the oil company will attempt to block the well with drill mud pumped in thru new lines connected to the Blow Out Preventer on the well head, which run up to the ships above.

I will be updating this diary during the day as news progress.

I just turned off the television idiots who could not tell me whether or not this was happening.  If there is a delay, it is because BP feels like they are not ready or have hit a technical problem, but the Govt says “go.”  

Obama dines with the Getty’s as Gulf dies

President Obama is scheduled to make a visit to the Gulf on Friday.  First things first though:

Scoop du jour: Forget politics. What inquiring, food-centric minds really want to know is, exactly what did President Barack Obama dine upon Tuesday night at the home of philanthropists Ann and Gordon Getty, where Sen. Barbara Boxer held a $17,600-a-plate dinner in support of her re-election campaign?

Who is Gordon Getty? Oh, nobody in particular:

[T]he fourth child of oil tycoon J. Paul Getty…. When his father died in 1976, Gordon assumed control of Getty’s US$2 billion trust. According to the Forbes 400, as of September 2008 his net worth is $2.5 billion, making him number 163 on the list of the richest Americans.

Of course, I’m sure there’s absolutely no connection whatsoever with the crisis in the Gulf and the timing of Obama’s fundraising dinner with a rich oil magnate.

Besides, the meal sounds positively scrumptious!

With gourmet Getty chef Jennifer Johnson at the stoves, you can be sure the 100 or so supporters who were expected got their money’s worth.

So Tuesday night, the plan was passed hors d’oeuvres, including quail egg with caviar and salmon ceviche with jicama and avocado on a tortilla chip.

Johnson’s first course featured a spring onion-asparagus tartlet with Meyer lemon vinaigrette-dressed frisee salad.

A main course of braised Kobe beef short ribs with potato puree and a salsa verde-topped spring vegetable ragout was followed by buckwheat crepes with roasted cherries and almond ice cream.

Rumor has it the quail eggs appetizer was a last minute substitute, because good Gulf shrimp is just too hard to find nowadays.  

Those Damned Gitmo Defense Attorneys Must be Watched!



From the New York Times “Bill Puts Scrutiny on Detainees’ Lawyers:”

WASHINGTON – A provision tucked into a defense bill before Congress would direct the Pentagon’s inspector general to investigate any suspected misconduct by lawyers for Guantánamo Bay detainees, opening a new chapter in a recurrent political controversy over legal ethics and the representation of terrorism suspects.


Lawyers for Guantánamo detainees have reacted with outrage to the proposal, saying it would have a chilling effect on their efforts to help detainees get habeas corpus hearings or to defend them in military commission trials. They are organizing to try to persuade Congress to strip the language before enacting the final bill, which must also still pass the Senate.

“No lawyers could possibly predict what conduct might fall within the law,” said David Remes, who represents several detainees. “It would therefore be impossible for Guantánamo lawyers to represent their clients effectively and zealously.”

We’ve already seen journalists banned from Guantanamo for reporting the name of an interrogator that had already been made public.

First the Pentagon came for the journalists.  Now lawmakers are targeting the defense lawyers.  Not just Republicans, though it was a Republican who introduced the legislation – Congressional Democrats in the House Armed Services Committee unanimously allowed this provision to be added to a defense bill “that the full House of Representatives is expected to begin debating this week.”

Anyone see a pattern here?

Accountability for those who ordered torture?  Nope.

Accountability for those who lied us into war?  Nope.

Accountability for Cheney’s top secret energy meetings that have resulted in the mess we now see in the Gulf, the mess that was once our Department of the Interior?  Nope.

Unfair power mongering towards those who defend the rights of human beings we tortured?  Yep.

Unfair power mongering towards those journalists who allow us to be an informed citizenry?  You betcha!

Open Gamble


Okay guys, They Think I’ts Over. They Won!

I’ve been watching a lot of television lately, since I twisted my ankle and am trying to stay off my feet.  

And I see and hear a pretty clear thread:  It’s just a matter of how we cut and “finesse” SS and Medicare.  It’s in the works.

Here’s an example.  This morning, on Morning Joe, Candidate Toomey was being interviewed.  BTW, shortly before his appearance, Mika said something to the effect, “…or Sestak is crazy and just lied.”  And someone picked that up — using Sestak is crazy as an opening to another thought but repeating the words.  Okay, it’s out there now dancing it’s way onto Dancing with the Stars. Joe Sestak may be crazy.

the circuitous path of tracking those undersea oil plumes

Gulf oil plume darker; not good news, expert says

By SETH BORENSTEIN — May 25, 2010

The color of the oil gushing from the main pipe has changed in color from medium gray to black. Two scientists noticed the change, which oil company BP downplayed as a natural fluctuation that is not likely permanent.

But engineering professor Bob Bea at the University of California at Berkeley says the color change may indicate the BP leak has hit a reservoir of more oil and less gas. Gas is less polluting because it evaporates.

Bea has spent more than 55 years working and studying oil rigs.

Sounds serious.

Too bad we can’t get any submarines down there to start tracking all that Oil, which scientists previously reported, looked to be spreading far and wide, at the mid-levels of the Gulf waters.

Luckily, the Scientist behind the first effort to track the underwater oil plumes, is mounting a second effort, with some new sciencey gadgets …

Muse in the Morning

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Muse in the Morning


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Late Night Karaoke


So NOW we need to be realistic about the issues of operating in a mile of water?

So said BP CEO Tony Hayward yesterday when he was discussing the chances of a successful end to the worst manmade disaster in history.

BP’s top officer downplayed the likelihood that the desperate effort will succeed in actually sealing the pipe, which is spewing hundreds of thousands of gallons of crude into the Gulf each day.

“If it was on land we would have a very high confidence of success, but… we need to be realistic about the issues around operating in a mile of water,” BP CEO Tony Hayward told reporters on Monday.

Ahh, yes, NOW we need to be realistic about those issues.  Were you being realistic about the issues around operating in a mile of water when you applied for the rights to drill offshore in the Gulf of Mexico Mr. Hayward?

Was the government being realistic in April?

Life on Planet Obama

On Planet Obama, the White House responds to the hemorrhaging of millions of gallons of crude oil into the Gulf of Mexico by ordering 1200 National Guard troops to the Arizona desert.

On Planet Obama, the EPA, citing the emergency in the Gulf, approves without delay or debate the unprecedented use of massive quantities of highly toxic chemical dispersant Corexit.

On Planet Obama, the EPA fails to approve for more than a month Louisiana’s request to build sand berms to protect the state’s fragile coastline from the impending inundation of crude oil.

On Planet Obama, the reason the EPA gives for failing to approve the protective berms is that it wants more time to study their environmental impact.

On Planet Obama, the EPA can’t rescind approval of Corexit because BP won’t let it.

On Planet Obama, the US Coast Guard takes its sailing orders from BP.

On Planet Obama, the White House declares a moratorium on new offshore drilling permits but continues to issue permits anyway.

On Planet Obama, the EPA denies that fumes from crude oil slicks are harmful.

On Planet Obama, BP hires 40 vessels for spill mitigation work and keeps them in port while the slick coats the shoreline around the boats.

On Planet Obama, BP can order journalists away from beaches where the oil has come ashore.

On Planet Obama, the Federal government  

The peasants are getting restless

   Strikes and protests from Greece to Spain to Slovenia to Ireland to Romania have followed riots and bloodshed.

  The corporate media has reported this unrest with the following narrative:

 The Greek people are angry because their government pledged to make cuts in social spending…

 Fox News correctly observed that “Greece lived for years beyond its means, borrowing money and spilling red ink to finance excessive government spending, offer socialized health care and provide lavish wages for federal workers.”

 It’s a rather convenient spin: greedy, lazy, leftists workers that are getting their comeuppance. It’s the same narrative that the corporate media rolls out whenever social services are being cut anywhere in the world.

  It’s a convenient story because it is a complete story. Nothing more needs to be done. Good guys win. Bad guys lose. Roll the credits.

 Except that this isn’t the whole story by a long shot.

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