Thursday, August 27, 2009

Those Republican death panels

In Iraq, "extremism" is too mild a word to describe the acts of those who abuse gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender people. The situation is so hideously haunting that Human Rights Watch released a new report this week titled, "'They Want Us Exterminated': Murder, Torture, Sexual Orientation and Gender in Iraq."
According to the report, the post-Saddam sadists "practice grotesque tortures, including gluing men's anuses shut as punishment." Human Rights Watch spoke to doctors who said that hospitals and morgues have received dozens of mutilated bodies, living and dead.
"Murder and torture are no way to enforce morality," said Rasha Moumneh, Middle East and North Africa researcher at Human Rights Watch. "These killings point to the continuing and lethal failure of Iraq's post-occupation authorities to establish the rule of law and protect their citizens."

The above is from Wayne Besen's "VIEWS: Didn't we invade Afghanistan & Iraq to secure freedom?" (Windy City Times). For HRW's "'They Want Us Exterminated': Murder, Torture, Sexual Orientation and Gender in Iraq" 67-page report [PDF format warning] click here.

Turning to veterans health care and Republican 'death panels,' a visitor e-mails asking that we note James Dao's "Proposal to Ease Aid for G.I.'s With Stress Disorder." That ran in yesterday's New York Times and will be noted in a snapshot either today or tomorrow. Yesterday was catch up on the refugees. What Dao's reporting on we have already covered this week (in the snapshots and out). Background from Monday's snapshot:

Today the Dept of Veterans Affairs announced that compensation claims for PTSD would be simplified: "The VA is publishing a proposed regulation today in the Federal Register to make it easier for a Veteran to claim service connection for PTSD by reducing the evidence needed if the stressor claimed by a Veteran is related to fear of hostile military or terrorist activity. Comments on the proposed rule will be accepted over the next 60 days. A final regulation will be published after consideration of all comments received. Under the new rule, VA would not require corroboration of a stressor related to fear of hostile military or terrorist activity if a VA psychiatrist or psychologist confirms that the stressful experience recalled by a Veteran adequately supports a diagnosis of PTSD and the Veteran's symptoms are related to the claimed stressor."

From Dao's article:

But veterans' advocates have argued that many noncombat troops, including truck drivers and supply clerks, have experienced such events, which include roadside bombs, firefights, mortar attacks or the deaths of friends. Despite receiving diagnoses of PTSD, many of those troops struggle to receive disability compensation.
The proposed rule would eliminate the requirement to document triggering events, provided veterans with PTSD could show that they were in places and performed duties where such events might have occurred. Their symptoms must also be consistent with the trauma they claim to have experienced.

This has been among the signature issues for US House Rep John Hall and remains one. He issued a statement on Tuesday. (And we noted that already.) DoD's proposal is an improvement but it does not do enough and Hall's got a proposal that will benefit even more veterans. DoD requires an establishing incident, a single incident. Though they seem to grasp that combat zone is 'blurry' today, they're operating under the belief that PTSD results from a single initiating incident when that does not have to be the case and, for lack of better term, a state of being 'shell shocked' can set in that is a combination of several events and the situation itself. There may be no one initiating incident. That is the biggest problem with DoD's proposal. Dao notes that some are balking at the price tag for the legislation proposed by Hall. If Dems know how to fight, they put that to a floor vote and point out, "We're willing to send them overseas to fight but we're not willing to pay to treat their injuries?" At a time when Dems' re-election chances continue to remain iffy, a move like that would be a sure crowd pleaser and Republicans who didn't go along with the Dems would have to explain what was the 'acceptable' cost for veterans health care and why they are, in effect, supporting 'death panels' -- refusing to cover PTSD treatment can sentence some veterans (some) to death.

And, to be clear, I'm calling it a 'death panel.' That's not Hall, the Times or the visitor. Tuesday's snapshot went over some of the recent events (some of which may be PTSD related, some may not) of violence against others and themselves by Iraq War and Afghanistan War veterans. And, repeating, that is not saying that veterans -- suffering from PTSD or not suffering from it -- are a threat to society. That is not true. Even those with PTSD or other conditions are not a threat. But there are a number, a small number at present, of veterans who are struggling and are resorting to violence. And, more importantly, there is a higher number of veterans who are struggling and doing so in the dark without any help and because their struggle does not lead to violence, they are easy to render invisible.

"They gave me a gun" he said
"They gave me a mission
For the power and the glory --
Propaganda -- piss on 'em
There's a war zone inside me --
I can feel things exploding --
I can't even hear the f**king music playing
For the beat of -- the beat of black wings."
[. . .]
"They want you -- they need you --
They train you to kill --
To be a pin on some map --
Some vicarious thrill --
The old hate the young
That's the whole heartless thing
The old pick the wars
We die in 'em
To the beat of -- the beat of black wings"
-- "The Beat of Black Wings," words and music by Joni Mitchell, first appears on her Chalk Mark In A Rainstorm.

In Tuesday's snapshot, we noted "Posttraumatic Stress Disorder as a Risk Factor for Suicidal Ideation in Iraq and Afghanistan War Veterans" (Journal of Traumatic Stress, Vol. 23, No. 4, August 2009, pp 303 - 306). When we had a functioning media, as opposed to 24-7 Celebrity Death Watch, published studies in peer reviewed scientific journals were news. Apparently, if it doesn't make E!, it's not considered news by the daily papers. The study was composed of sample of 435 Iraq and Afghanistan War veterans. Half of the sample was diagnosed with PTSD (49.6%) prior to study. The findings included:

Prior research with Vietnam veterans with chronic PTSD has established an association between PTSD and suicide (Bullman & Kang, 1994). This study extends these findings by demonstrating an association between suicidal ideation and PTSD in treatment-seeking OIF/OEF veterans with more acute forms of PTSD. PTSD was significantly associated with suicidal ideation after accounting for age, depression and substance abuse, with PTSD veterans over four times more likely to report suicidal ideation than veterans who did not screen psotive for PTSD. Among veterans who screen positive for PTSD, there was no significant increase in risk for suicidal ideation associated with a single comorbid disorder. However, the likelihood for suicidal ideation was 5.7 times greater in veterans with PTSD who screened positive for two or more comorbid disorders relative to veterans with PTSD alone. Results suggest that veterans with PTSD who have multiple psychiatric comorbidities may be at greater risk for suicidal ideation. This increased likelihood of suicidal ideation associated with comorbidity is notable because, of those OIF/OEF veterans diagnosed with a mental disorder, 27% have three or more different mental health diagnoses.

E-mails about KPFA. They can't get their act together. Do not try to stream them from KPFA when you repeatedly can't see the site (i.e. when you get an error message). If you have iTunes, just pick it up via iTunes. You can go to radio (at iTunes), go to public, scroll down and find KPFA. There archives are a joke because they're too damn cheap to pay. KPFA was builidng the largest public radio archives accessible to the public. That's all gone because (a) they're too cheap to pay songwriting royalites and (b) they're too stupid to grasp how to handle it. (The same way you handle someone saying a 'dirty' word. KPFA is rarely 'live' these days. It's generally on a delay. They can edit out -- while 'live' -- a 'dirty' word. They can do the same with songs to keep their archives.)

Brandon e-mailed about Flashpoints. He couldn't hear it, now that KPFA's finally back up online, there are no archives for the week's Flashpoints (or for any other programs -- KPFA has become cheap and stupid). Flashpoints has its own website. That was down earlier but it was redesigned and fixed and, at either the end of July or the start of August, Nora Barrows-Friedman explained that you might get a message saying the site was dangerous but to ignore it, the site had been fixed and it was trojan free.

If you go to Flashpoints and you need a laugh check out the fabulist Raed Jarrar. He was on last Wednesday trying to be an expert on Iraq as an Iraqi but, as he admitted later in the broadcast, "I haven't visited Iraq for the last five years [. . .] I'm a US citizen now [. . .] I'm not in daily touch with what's happening in Iraq." Raed's whored for Barack since 2008. He can't admit the truth. He was still digging into the trash Bush bag of tricks. Bush is out of office. Punish him for his crimes, sure, but let's stop pretending the Iraq War is continued because of Bush.

Raed so far from the truth, he's been marooned. He seems confused regarding what the SOFA says versus what the Security Agreement does (they are different agreements). He falls into the paranoid fantasy that Bush was forced to agree to a vote on the SOFA (which he confuses with the Security Agreement) when Bush was forced into no such thing. Raed's delusional. If the Iraqi Parliament had power, they wouldn't have all gone into hiding. Does Raed not get how many went into hiding to avoid voting on the Status Of Forces Agreement?

But then Raed never had any 'authority' from which to speak. He's not an Iraqi refugee. He's a pampered son whose family chose to come to the US. One who didn't make a hejira to the US, but ran. And his 'attitudes' (which are why a number of Iraqi women in this country do not want to even be on a panel with him) are such that the HRW report that we noted at the top, the one released Monday of last week? Raed didn't mention it last Wednesday on KPFA. He never has. He probably never will. The Denver Post, the New York Times, the BBC and others were covering the targeting of Iraq's LGBT community back in April. All this time later, Raed can't talk about it because he's a has a problem 'stomaching' certain types of people.

And speaking of idiots, someone explain to Amy Goodman that Martha's Vineyard is an island. You go "on" it. You don't go "in" it. What an idiot. And grasp that tools like Amy and Raed are part of the effort to render Cindy Sheehan invisible.

Yesterday was Women's Equality Day and we'll again note:

To commemorate the anniversary of the Nineteenth Amendment, August 26th, the HerStory Scrapbook website ( is a compilation of over 900 links to articles, editorials, and letters in The New York Times Archive regarding the final four years of the fight for women's suffrage.
And Ms. magazine notes:

Ms. Magazine

Gloria Steinem photo by Jenny <span class=Warburg" src="" width="215" border="0" height="254">

Celebrate Women's Equality Day by joining Ms. in saluting Gloria Steinem in honor of her 75th birthday.

As Gloria turns 75, Ms. is providing supporters an opportunity to wish her a happy birthday in the magazine. That's right. Ms. will print the names of supporters who want to celebrate with Gloria this extraordinary landmark -- not only of years, but of her amazing achievements for women.

To participate, we are asking you to make a special gift of $75 - or $15 - or $150 - or whatever multiple of $75 you can afford, to not only celebrate Gloria's birthday but to keep her legacy of Ms. strong for future generations. Whatever the size of your contribution, we will make sure your name is printed in Ms. wishing Gloria happy birthday.

Half her lifetime ago, Gloria launched Ms. magazine - a brazen and rebellious act of independence in the 1970s when the feminist movement was either denigrated or dismissed in the mainstream media - if it was mentioned at all. Today, Ms. is recognized as one of the top 51 U.S. magazines of all time.

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joni mitchell

thomas friedman is a great man

oh boy it never ends