Brian Montopoli (CBS News, Political Hotsheet) reports on a new CBS poll which finds, not surprisingly, that respondents say the US military is spread too thin and we'll zoom in on this section of Montopoli's report:
They also say the U.S. is not doing enough for veterans of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. Seventy-one percent of those surveyed say the government has fallen short when it comes to addressing the needs and problems of troops returning from those conflicts. Just 22 percent say the government is doing enough.
This as Dionne Searcey (Wall St. Journal) reports this morning on the National Guard members in Indiana who are suing for their exposure to a known cancer causing agent while serving in Iraq:
In a lawsuit filed in federal court in Indiana, the Guardsmen allege that oil company KBR Inc. "disregarded and downplayed" the fact that the site at Qarmat Ali was coated with the hazardous chemical sodium dichromate. They were exposed, they say, to the chemical that is used as an industrial anti-corrosive agent to protect pipes.
As a result, the soldiers suffered "unprotected, unknowing, direct exposure to one of the most potent carcinogens and mutagenic substances known to man," alleges the suit, which seeks monetary compensation for health problems the soldiers say they have suffered.
The lawsuit was filed last month and has to do with the Qarmat Ali water plant. December 3rd, Sgt Mark McManaway told Scott Bronstein and Abbie Boudreau (CNN), "The worst part is that the military has only just recently advised us that the stuff we were exposed to was much worse than they thought while we were out there. It's in our bodies, but we don't know how bad it is. Maybe within the next five years cancers could start showing up. You've got a ticking time bomb in you -- and when's it going to go off?"
Evan Bayh is one of Iraq's two US Senators. Bayh has introduced a bill that would create a federal registry similar to the one for Agent Orange exposure during Vietnam -- the bill, if passed, would allow those exposed to avoid the long struggle Agent Orange victims had to go through attempting to establish their exposure at a time when the US government was denying exposure and minimizing it. The bill was referred to the Senate Veterans Affairs Committee months ago and is currently buried there. (Bayh does not serve on the Veterans Affairs Committee.)
Meanwhile the Iraq War continues. Caroline Moses (WAFB) reports Louisiana is deploying 3,000 soldiers to Iraq and Barry Riley tells Moses: "The goodbye is still the hardest. The job is not that bad." This is echoed by Brandon Andrews who tells Adam Hoope (KPLCTV), "It's hard to leave the family. That is the hardest part. I don't really worry about the overseas part. It is just the back home." Bill Capo (WWLTV's Eyewitness News -- link has text and video) reports approximately 400 of these National Guard members are "from the New Orleans area." The Lynchburg News Advance reports a send-off ceremony will take place "Friday [111:00 a.m.] at Liberty University for about 400 Virginia National Guard soldiers from a Lynchburg-based unit who have been mobilized for duty in Iraq."
Nationally, it seems more and more the only reporting most newspapers carry on Iraq takes place in the how-to. Martha Stewart joins Hints for Heloise in awarness on the Iraq War -- an awareness lacking in the bulk of the national press corps. From her latest nationally syndicated column Ask Martha (link goes to Boston Globe):
Q. I'd like to send cookies to my nephew, who is serving in Iraq. What types will survive the journey, and how should I package them?
A. Home-baked cookies are a wonderful way to give your nephew (and undoubtedly his friends) a taste of home. Transit time may take more than two weeks, so look for cookies with a long shelf life. Shortbread is a good bet, and you can add variety with flavors such as chocolate or lemon. Oatmeal-raisin also has staying power, because dried fruit helps the cookies stay moist. Gingerbread men are a sturdy choice around the holidays. Steer clear of chocolate chips, which are likely to melt; candy-coated M&M’s are a good substitute. Also, label any baked goods that contain nuts.
For maximum freshness, freeze the cookies until the day you’re ready to send them. An efficient and economical way to mail them is in a Priority Mail Army Post Office/Fleet Post Office flat-rate box, which is 12 by 12 by 5 inches; it costs $11.95 to ship. Wrap the cookies individually if you like, for easier distribution. Place them in a cushioned airtight container, and fit that inside the flat-rate box. (You can pad the space between the two containers with extra socks for your nephew.) Then seal the edges with packing tape.
If you want to send a package but don’t have someone in mind, skip the baked goods: Soldiers are required to throw away homemade foods unless they know the sender. But prepackaged treats, as well as magazines and toiletries (packed separately), are certainly welcome. For soldiers’ requests and addresses, go to www.anysoldier.com/wheretosend. For more nonprofit organizations that help those in the armed services, visit www.ourmilitary.mil/help.shtml.
John Marzulli (New York Daily News) reports, "A former U.S. Army officer was acquitted Wednesday of charges he took bribes from contractors to help them steal truckloads of oil from Camp Liberty in Iraq. The federal jury in Brooklyn deliberated 45 minutes before finding ex-Chief Warrant Officer Joseph Crenshaw not guilty of the two-count indictment." We haven't covered that story. For a number of reasons. To be clear, there are stories we ignore. A number of e-mails are asking for a highlight. We're not highlighting the article. If the State Dept promised Blackwater mercenaries that their statements would not be used against them (this is the case that Judge Ricardo Urbina dismissed for prosecutorial abuse and misconduct) then the statements shouldn't be in court documents. I'm not interested in it.
Francis A. Boyle is an international law expert and a noted professor and he's interested in this year's Nobel Peace Prize.
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE – JANUARY 6, 2010
George H. Ryan is nominated for the 2010 Nobel Peace Prize
Francis A. Boyle, long-standing, distinguished Professor of International Law and Human Rights, announces his nomination of retired Illinois Governor George H. Ryan for the 2010 Nobel Peace Prize.
“The lives of about 3297 people on death rows throughout the United States of America stand in the balance. For the sake of them all, I respectfully request that you award the 2010 Nobel Peace Prize to George Ryan,” Boyle states in nominating Ryan.
The former Illinois governor’s courageous opposition to the death penalty initiated the groundwork for the Moratorium Movement when in the year 2000 he declared the Illinois death penalty moratorium and emptied Illinois’ death row, the first such action in this country.
Due directly through Gov. Ryan’s pioneering efforts, the number of death sentences and the number of executions carried out in this country has reached a historical low, and has given promise to the end of the death penalty in the United States.
The year 2009 marked a historical landmark with the publication of The Death Penalty Information Center’s report "The Death Penalty in 2009: Year End Report” on December 18, noting that the country is expected to finish 2009 with the fewest death sentences since the U.S. Supreme Court reinstated the death penalty in 1976. Eleven states considered abolishing the death penalty this year, a significant increase in legislative activity from previous years, as the high costs and lack of measurable benefits associated with this punishment troubled lawmakers. In 2009 New Mexico became the 15th American state to repeal the death penalty.
According to Boyle: "Nothing could strike a more powerful blow against the death penalty in the United States and around the world" than for the Nobel Peace Prize Committee to give their 2010 Award to Ryan.
FOR INFORMATION CONTACT:
Francis A. Boyle
504 E. Pennsylvania Ave.
Champaign, IL 61820 USA
The following community sites updated last night:
President Obama is sending as many as 30,000 more troops to combat Taliban and al Qaeda forces in Afghanistan this year, but are we missing the true target? On Friday, January 8 at 8:30 pm (check local listings), NOW reports directly from Pakistan's dangerous and pivotal border with Afghanistan, where Pentagon war planners acknowledge many of the enemy fighters and their leaders are based. The U.S. has been relying on Pakistan to act against Taliban militants there, but the Pakistani army's commitment is in question. NOW takes you to the true front lines for an eye-opening, inside lookyou haven't seen before, and won't soon forget.
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