Tuesday, June 15, 2010. Chaos and violence continue, the US military announces another death, the UNHCR releases a new report on refugees, Senator Jim Webb says the costs for recognizing Agent Orange effects are too much, and more.
Today the US military released the following: "CONTINGENCY OPERATIONS BASE SPEICHER, Iraq -- A U.S. Division -- North Soldier died today as a result of a non-combat related wound in northern Iraq. The cause of death is still under investigation. Task Force Marne extends its deepest sympathies and condolences to the Family of the fallen Soldier. The name of the deceased is being withheld pending notification of next of kin and release by the Department of Defense. The names of service members are announced through the U.S. Department of Defense official website at http://www.defenselink.mil/releases/. The announcements are made on the Web site no earlier than 24 hours after notification of the service members' primary next of kin. The incident is under investigation." This brings the total number of US service members killed in the Iraq War to 4406. (ICCC has not updated yet and still lists 4405.)
Friday a bombing attack on US service members resulted in the deaths of 2 US soldiers. Yesterday's snapshot included the statement US Senator Blanche Lincoln's office issued on the death of SPC William Yauch. Arkansas' other US senator is Mark Pryor and his office issued the following:
Senator Mark Pryor made the following statement on the death of Specialist William C. Yauch of Batesville, Arkansas, who was killed by an IED in Jalula, Iraq. Specialist Yauch was assigned to B Company, 5th Battalion, 20th Infantry Regiment, 2nd Infantry Division, Joint Base Lewis-McChord in Washington.
Today I join all Arkansans in lifting up the family and friends of U.S. Army Specialist William C. Yauch, who paid the ultimate sacrifice for his country. He served our nation with great courage, honor, and distinction, and embodied the meaning of "a true patriot."
Specialist Yauch had the greatest love for his country, and his country will always remember his selfless service. My prayers and thoughts are with his wife and family during this difficult time.
Two US soldiers died on Friday. As noted in yesterday's snapshot, Sgt Israel Obryan of Newsbern, Tennessee was the other soldier killed, he was twenty-four years old and on his second tour of Iraq and his US senators (Bob Corker and Lamar Alexander) and his governor (Phil Bredesen) have issued no statements noting the loss thus far; however, Governor Mike Rounds of South Dakota's office has issued a statement:
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: Monday, June 14, 2010
CONTACT: Joe Kafka or Roxy Everson, 605-773-3212
Stryker Brigade Soldier Killed in Iraq, Wife from Sisseton
PIERRE, S.D. - The Department of Defense announced today that Sgt. Israel Paul O'Bryan, 24, of Newbern, Tenn., died Friday, June 11, 2010, from wounds suffered when insurgents attacked his unit with a vehicle-borne improvised explosive device near Jalula, Iraq.
Sgt. O'Bryan's widow, Brenna (Oey) O'Bryan, is from Sisseton, S.D.
According to U.S. Army records, Sgt. O'Bryan enlisted Feb. 27, 2006, at Memphis, Tenn. and reported to Fort Benning, Ga., for initial training in Military Occupational Specialty 11C (Indirect Fire Infantryman), and Airborne Training.
He reported to then-Fort Lewis, Wash., on Dec. 30, 2006, and was assigned to 5th Battalion, 20th Infantry Regiment, 3rd Stryker Brigade Combat Team, 2nd Infantry Division. The brigade deployed in August 2009 to Iraq in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom; it was O'Bryan's second Mideast deployment with the brigade. His first deployment was in 2007.
O'Bryan's civilian and military education included a high school diploma, two years of college credits, Military Occupational Specialty 11C (Indirect FireInfantryman) Qualification Course, Warrior Leader Course (2008), DLI-Arabic studies (2009).
His awards and decorations included the Army Commendation Medal, Army Achievement Medal, Army Good Conduct Medal, National Defense Service Medal, Iraqi Campaign Medal, Global War on Terrorism Service Medal, NCO Professional Development Ribbon, Army Service Ribbon, and Combat Infantry Badge.
Sgt. O'Bryan's wife, Brenna, a former active-duty U.S. Army Soldier assigned to the same brigade, met him on a previous deployment to Iraq. She moved to Sisseton with their son, Turner, age 1, to be with her family during his second deployment. His mother, Denise Jones, lives in Newbern, Tenn., and his father, Richard O'Bryan, resides in Portland, Tenn.
Details for memorial and funeral services are pending and will be released later, but they are expected to be held in Wilmot, S.D.
FOR MORE INFORMATION: Contact JBLM PAO by calling 253-967-0147 or 253-967-0152. After duty hours, call 253-967-0015 (ask for the Public Affairs Officer on call).
I'd planned to address the above Friday death's at the end of the snapshot but today's meant that we really need to keep all of this together. We didn't note politicians' official statements on deaths until a friend with the governor's office pointed out one morning that Arnold had issued one and why didn't I include it? Because he was a Republican? No. I could care less about that. So we included it and have since. Sometimes a friend will pass it on, sometimes the office of politician will pass it on. My problem with it is imbalance. Which is why we usually ignore them in the snapshots and they appear instead in morning entries at The Common Ills. There are some of the fallen who don't get the attention that others do. Maybe they don't have the same number of survivors, maybe they don't live in a press intensive area. When you've got six soldiers dying -- and I'm thinking of one incident in particular -- and two get no reporting at all other than they died, it makes me uncomfortable because it appears some lives matter a lot and some don't. That was my concern with politician's statements as well.
I find it appalling that neither of Tennessee's US senators -- Lamar Alexander and Bob Corker (both Republicans) -- have issued a statement on their native son Israel Obryan. It's great that Governor Mike Rounds issued a statement -- Governor of South Dakota -- but one of the two Tennessee senators (if not both) should have issued a statement. Both of Arkansas' senators (Blanche Lincoln and Mark Pryor) issued statements on their native son William Yauch.
We included Blanche Lincoln's statement in yesterday's snapshot because a friend with the DSCC caught me (phone) before I dicated the snapshot and because there were 2 US soldiers killed on Friday and it was pretty much ignored. For example, on NPR Fridays, The Diane Rehm Show does two hours -- one domestic panel, one international panel. Ava and I found it very strange that Diane and the gang didn't have time for the two deaths or for Iraq: "It seemed strange to us since the day started, hours before Diane's program began broadcasting live, with the news that there was an attack on US soldiers in Iraq which left 2 dead and six wounded. Setting aside all the other news coming out of Iraq last week, that bombing attack should have insisted that Iraq was discussed. Somehow there was no time for Iraq as a topic on Diane's show. However, Helen Thomas, who apologized and resigned on Monday, was. Which is actually news? Which is international news?" They had time to trash Helen Thomas with a bunch of lies -- during the 'international' hour -- but they didn't have time to note that 2 US soldiers -- William Yauch and Israel Obryan, we now know -- died while serving in Iraq. That's disgusting and appalling and everyone participating in that ___ should hang their heads in shame. And it's going get worse and worse until people make it very clear that they're not going to stand for it. Friday a bombing in Iraq claimed the lives of 2 US soldiers (and left six more injured) and Diane Rehm didn't think that qualified as "news" for her "international" hour. That's disgusting.
Today Pravda features a report entitled "The Pentagon of Democrats: the War Continues, But it is Not Seen." The article opens, "Barack Obama's smile is nicer than George W. Bush, but is even more aggressive and warmongering. In the era of budgetary constraints and public relations, the White House has waived the televised Live bombings preferring secret interventions in the four cardinal points. Through covert operations by special forces, the U.S. is at war today in 75 countries. War is more than we can see daily. In addition to the military operations taking place in Iraq and Afghanistan, the Pentagon is waging a secret war in which Iran is one of the main targets." A real shame when you grasp that Russia's Pravda has more guts than the left 'independent' media in this country (such as Pacifica Radio, The Nation, et al).
The UNHCR notes their High Commissioner for Refugees, Antonio Guterres, declared 2009 "not a good year for voluntary repatriation." The refugee crisis and the lack of returns are dealt with in the agencies "2009 Global Trends: Refugees, Asylum-seekers, Returnees, Internally Displaced and Sateless Persons" which was released today. Among the reports findings:
* "Afghan and Iraqi refugees accounted for almost half of all refugees under UNHCR's responsibility worldwide; one out of four refugees in the world was from Afghanistan (2.9 million). Afghans were located in 71 different asylum countries. Iraqis were the second largest refugee group, with 1.8 million having sought refuge primarily in neighbouring countries."
*38,037 Iraqis returned to Iraq in 2009 (a small and insignificant figure).
Meanwhile Joelle Farrell (Philadelphia Inquirer) reports on an Iraqi refugee who was granted asylum in the US: "For nearly two years, as more and more Iraqis came to view U.S. soldiers not as saviors but as jackals, Safa Ismael showed up for work outside the concrete barricades surrounding the U.S. military base in Mosul."
In today's news cycle, Reuters notes a Mosul roadside bombing claimed the lives of 2 Iraqi soldiers, a Mosul mortar attack wounded a police officer and, dropping back to Monday for all that follows, a Baghdad roadside bombing which claimed the lives of 2 Iraqi police officers and left four more injured, a Baghdad sticky bombing which injured three people and 1 corpse discovered in Kirkuk. UPI notes a Mosul home invasion last night in which 3 members of one family were slaughtered. On the Mosul bombing which claimed the lives of 2 Iraqi soldiers, Xinhua explains eight people were wounded and that an Abu Ghraib roadside bombing claimed the life of 1 Iraqi soldier and left a police officer injured while an Abu Ghraib shop bombing resulted in four people being wounded. Meanwhile Reuters notes Mosul's Bou Saif was the locations for clashes which began last night and resulted in at least 7 deaths. Press TV notes 1 Turkish soldier was killed from a PKK bombing on the border between Turkey and Iraq.
Raad Kadhim Nouri asks Leila Fadel (Washington Post), "Where is the security if, for an 18-minute session, they close all the streets? It means there is no security." He's a street vendor in Baghdad dealing with the lack of services in Baghdad -- his home has "only one hour of electricity every five hours" -- as well as the "120-degree heat." The man's been a vendor since before the start of the Iraq War and his thoughts include, "Nothing will change from the last parliament."
"Frankly, the politicians are just wearing us out," a shop owner, Saif Ali, tells Anthony Shadid (New York Times). "Unemployment? Electricity? Housing? Since 2003 -- for seven years now -- no one has solved it yet. [. . .] Even the water is dirty."
Elections held only weeks away from the seventh anniversary of the Iraq War and this is what the Iraqi people are seeing. The mood's captured in a cartoon posted to McClatchy's Inside Iraq which asks, "Is there any Iraqi official who cares about people's pain and suffering?" There's no progress. There was no progress under Bully Boy Bush, there will be no progress under Barack. A foreign power can't make democracy. An occupied land does not embrace the (publicly expressed) ideals and goals of the occupied power.
And if that doesn't disturb you, maybe this will from Anthony Shadid's article:
"There is clearly a divide," said Ryan C. Crocker, the former American ambassador to Iraq and a longtime diplomat in the Middle East.
He described an "elitist authoritarianism that basically ignores the people."
"Right now, what I'm concerned about is the persistence of the political culture in which the governors simply do not really care about the governed," he said. "Saddam didn't invent it. This is part of a persistent Iraqi political culture, and it did not produce a happy state after 1958 at any point, and I would worry that it will not now."
Good for Shadid for going to Crocker. He has to be appalled by what he's seeing. The US has failed diplomatically and any hopes of a pretty red bow being tied around the whole thing are long gone. Fate and Chris Hill have ensured that. Ned Parker (Los Angeles Times) reports some disturbing news:
However, Allawi's supporters are wagering that Maliki's coalition will still fall apart because of the competing interests of its different Shiite parties. Allawi has warned that a government formed without him could unleash a new round of sectarian fighting. Maliki has issued similar warnings.
Some lawmakers from Maliki's list suggested that a deal on who will be prime minister could be hammered out within a few weeks, but most lawmakers believe it will take at least until August before a government is seated. Internal U.S. military projections, viewed by The Times, say the government is likely to be seated in October, or in a best-case scenario September, if negotiations gain speed.
That is in such marked contrast to the b.s. Hill keeps serving up. Why do we allow that? Why do we allow our public servants -- whom we pay -- to lie to us?
Chris Hill's inclination to lie was well known long before he finally dragged his tired to Baghdad. At some point, history will ask: What made Barack pick Chris Hill as an ambassador?
Turning to veterans issues. WAVY reports (link has text and video) that victims of Agent Orange (specifically Vietnam era veterans) could recieve addition beneifts for B-Cell Leukemia, Parkinson's disease and coronary heart disease. Could? A US Senator is objecting to the proposed changes by VA. Jim Webb has written VA Secretary Eric Shinseki that ". . . this single executive decision is estimated to cost a minimum of $42.2 billion over the next ten years. A regulatory action of this magnitude requires proper Congressional review and oversight." Besides, Webb wrote, "Heart disease is a common phenomenon regardless of potential exposure to Agent Orange." That is really embarrasing and especially embarrassing for the Democratic Party (Webb is a Democrat today, having converted from a Reagan Republican). It also goes a long way towards explaining Webb's refusal to get on board with Senator Evan Bayh's bill to create a national registry that would allow those Iraq and Afghanistan War veterans to be able to receive treatment for their exposures without having to jump through hoops repeatedly.
A friend with People magazine always asks for a link, we're linking to this article they did on David Arquette. I know David and he's a strong supporter of Operation Mend and, as the article notes in passing, he was at an Operation Mend benefit Monday night. He actually spoke and so did retired Marine Cpl Aaron P. Mankin who shared his story which includes an IED attack in May of 2005 in which claimed four lives and left eleven wounded. Cpl Mankin's wounds included severe burns on over a quarter of his body. He discusses that for the program here (Flash Video) and here (Windows Media Video). The Ronald Reagan UCLA Medical Center, San Antonio's Brooke Army Medical Center and the VA Greater Los Angeles Health Care System partnered together for Operation Mend. Operation Mend assists wounded service members. They explain: "The costs associated with one wounded warrior's Operation Mend care is approximately $500,000. These expenses include patient evaluation, plastic and reconstructive surgieries, transportation and housing, care coordination, and other patient services. The single largets cost is the multiple, lenghty and complex plastic and reconstructive surgeries required for these heroes. With private support, Ronald Reagan UCLA Medical Center is able to expand the treatment options available using some of the best surgeons and clinicians in the country." Operation Mend is for all branches of the military and you can even be active duty and use the services. You can find out more about the program by clicking here. Gunnery Sgt Blaine Scott allowed Los Angeles Times' Spencer Weiner to photograph his exam and surgery and you can click here for that essay.
And we'll close with this from the Senate Democratic Policy Committee:
Despite the billion-dollar costs associated with the Gulf Coast oil spill, Big Oil companies enjoy the protection of a $75 million dollar cap on liability. Unless the cap is increased, these companies, earning profits in excess of $24 billion in the first quarter of 2010, will only have to legally pay for a fraction of the overall economic impact of this preventable disaster. In recent weeks, Senate Democrats have brought forward legislation that would ensure Big Oil companies pay for their own mistakes by raising the liability cap for offshore oil well spills. Senate Democrats have also released a letter to BP CEO Tony Hayward, calling on the company to put aside $20 billion in a special account to ensure repayment to victims of the spill.
Blindly trusting Big Oil to take full responsibility, Senate Republicans have blocked this legislation and left hard-working American families at risk of paying for the economic damage caused by oil spills. Last month, Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell defended the oil industry by stating that BP would "pay for this."
Have Republicans forgotten about Big Oil's track record?
Here is a look back at the oil companies' record of negligence in some of the biggest domestic oil spills:
Outer Continental Shelf Civil and Criminal Penalties. Oil companies have also continued to violate the Department of the Interior's regulations stipulated under the Minerals Management Service Outer Continental Shelf Civil and Criminal Penalties Program. Here are just a few examples:
Senate Republicans should stop trusting Big Oil to own up to its responsibility, and allow this important legislation to pass.
the new york times
the washington post
all things considered