Friday, June 18, 2010

Is it mental illness or a sane reaction?

Leila Fadel (Washington Post) introduces readers to Asmaa Shaker, an Iraqi woman. Asmaa can't sleep without medication. The real surprise is that she can even manage to sleep with it. If your home was damaged in one bombing, you'd be on edge. For Asmaa, it's three times and, in one of the bombings, her husband lost a leg. In addition to all of that, like many Iraqis, Asmaa struggles with mounting debt. Excuse me, like many Iraqis not serving in Parliament. She tells Fadel, "I found my neighbors on the ground, children dead on the ground. I'm scared. I'm very scared." Again, it's amazing she can sleep even when medicated.

Fadel's examining what she and the paper call mental illness but is it really that? If your home is damaged in three bombings, if your neighbors are dying, if this has been going on for seven years, is it really mental illness?

I guess mental illness is better than the paper attempting to blame Asmaa's problems on PMS -- though not by much. And most people would see Asmaa's issues a natural reaction to what she's lived through and continues living through. In Iraq, Fadel notes, there are few psychiatrists. Not at all surprising since the bulk of Iraq's educated class got out long ago -- that's what was dubbed the "brain drain" and it predates what is known as the "civil war" of 2006 and 2007.

AFP reports a car bombing in Baquba today has resulted in at least thirty-two people injured while Reuters notes a US interpreter, Hameed al-Daraji, was shot dead last night in his home by his son and his nephew due to being seen as a collaborator and traitor to Iraq. In addition, Reuters notes a Falluja rocket attack which claimed 4 lives and left seven more people injured and a Baghdad home invasion in which a Water Resources Ministry worker, his wife and their two sons were all shot dead. Of the Baghdad home invasion, DPA notes that the wife was pregnant while adding that Hossam al-Majmaai ("chief of the Awakening Councils tribal security force in Diayala province") survived an assassination attempt.

Let's switch over to the US. Senator Daniel Akaka is the Chair of the Senate Veterans Affairs Committee. His office notes:


Senators call for specific actions from Departments of Defense and Veterans Affairs

WASHINGTON, D.C. – In a letter to the secretaries of Defense and Veterans Affairs sent yesterday, Senate Veterans' Affairs Committee Chairman Daniel K. Akaka (D-Hawaii) and a bipartisan group of Veterans’ Affairs and Armed Services committee members urged stronger coordination and better follow up on traumatic brain injury (TBI).

“For the past nine years we have been a nation at war, and traumatic brain injury has become the signature wound. The Departments of Defense and Veterans Affairs have taken commendable steps to understand and treat TBI, but they must improve collaboration and share what they have learned. Veterans and their families should not have to wait nearly a decade for the government to adapt to the needs of the wounded,” said Akaka.

The Senators called for specific improvements from Secretary of Defense Robert Gates and Secretary of Veterans Affairs Eric Shinseki, including:

  • Prompt action to finalize and implement DOD’s draft policy mandating evaluation and rest periods for individuals with TBI, and to ensure that existing policies are being adhered to by each military service branch;
  • Action to ensure documentation of TBI and follow-up during Post-Deployment Health Assessments and Reassessments;
  • Expedited establishment of DOD centers of excellence for military eye injuries, and for hearing loss and amputations;
  • Quicker progress to make VA/DOD collaboration and data transfers more robust, comprehensive, and seamless; and
  • Making full use of authority granted by Congress for VA to partner with state, local, and community providers to improve access to care and reduce the burden on veterans receiving treatment for TBI, and their family members.

Last month, the Veterans' Affairs Committee held an oversight hearing on the state of care for troops and veterans suffering from TBI. In January 2008, Congress passed provisions authored by Chairman Akaka and approved by the Veterans' Affairs Committee to reform VA/DOD collaboration and care related to TBI as part of the National Defense Authorization Act. Akaka continues to work with committee members and others to ensure effective implementation.

To view the letter, click here: LINK


Kawika Riley

Communications Director and Legislative Assistant

U.S. Senate Committee on Veterans' Affairs

Senator Daniel K. Akaka (D-Hawaii), Chairman

In addition, Wednesday the Senate Veterans Affairs Committee held a hearing which Chair Akaka brought to order noting, "Today we will discuss VA health care in rural areas. Rural settings are some of the most difficult for VA and other government agencies to deliver care. I beieve, and I know many of my colleagues on this Committee share the view, that we must utilize all the tools at our disposal in order to provice access to care and services for veterans in rural and remote locations." We covered the first panel in Wednesday's snapshot and we'll attempt to cover the second panel (it was very brief, a little over 20 minutes minus opening statements) in today's snapshot.

Monday April 5th, WikiLeaks released US military video of a July 12, 2007 assault in Iraq. 12 people were killed in the assault including two Reuters journalists Namie Noor-Eldeen and Saeed Chmagh. Monday June 7th, the US military announced that they had arrested Bradley Manning and he stood accused of being the leaker of the video. Philip Shenon (Daily Beast) reported Friday that the US government is attempting to track down WikiLeaks' Julian Assange. Mike Gogulski has started a website entitled Help Bradley Manning. Simon Lauder (Australia's ABC News) provides this update:

It has since been reported that American officials are searching for Mr Assange to pressure him not to publish the cables.
But an unnamed source in the Obama administration has told Newsweek that the US government is not trying to convince Mr Assange not to release the cables, but it is trying to contact him.
The World Today has also received an email from Mr Assange which says: "Due to present circumstances, I am not able to easily conduct interviews".
In an email to supporters this week, Mr Assange denies Wikileaks has 260,000 classified US department cables.
But he confirms the website has a video of a US air strike on a village in western Afghanistan in May last year.
The Afghan government said at the time of the attack that 140 civilians died.

TV notes. On PBS' Washington Week, Charles Babington (AP), Joan Biskupic (USA Today), Juliet Eilperin (Washington Post) and Doyle McManus (Los Angeles Times) join Gwen around the table. Gwen's column is "Covering the oil disaster." This week, Bonnie Erbe will sit down with Jehan Harney, Melinda Henneberger, Eleanor Holmes Norton, Tara Setmayer and Genevieve Wood on the latest broadcast of PBS' To The Contrary to discuss the week's events. And at the website each week, there's an extra just for the web from the previous week's show and this week's online bonus is a discussion on the press' latest attempt to start Mommy Wars. And turning to broadcast TV, Sunday CBS' 60 Minutes offers:

Assault on Pelindaba
Scott Pelley investigates the boldest assault ever on a facility containing weapons-grade uranium, a still-unsolved crime that could have had calamitous consequences had it been successful. | Watch Video

The Liquidator
The man in charge of recovering assets from Ponzi scheme king Bernard Madoff says there is about 18 billion still out there that he hopes to recover for victims of the scam. But it won't be easy. Morley Safer reports. | Watch Video

A Living For The Dead
Marilyn Monroe, James Dean and Elvis are dead and now, so is Michael Jackson. But as Steve Kroft reports, they are very much alive when it comes to earning money for their estates. | Watch Video

60 Minutes, Sunday, June 20, at 7 p.m. ET/PT.

Radio. Today on The Diane Rehm Show (airs on most NPR stations and streams live online beginning at 10:00 am EST), Diane is joined the first hour (domestic news roundup) by Naftali Bendavid (Wall St. Journal), Doyle McManus (Los Angeles Times) and Karen Tumulty (Washington Post). For the second hour (international), she's joined by Tom Gjelten (NPR), David Ignatius (Washington Post) and Nancy Youssef (McClatchy Newspaper).

The Senate Democratic Policy Committee continues addressing a number of issues, check out the DPC's video page, and one issue they've especially led on this year is the Gulf Disaster (another issue they've led on is the economy). This is Senator Jeanne Shaheen addressing why subpoena power is needed to get to the bottom of the Gulf Diaster.

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the diane rehm show