Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Murders, suicides, the fallen

As noted yesterday, US soldiers Gebrah Noonan (above) and John Carrillo died in Iraq last week and are said to have been shot dead (with a third soldier wounded) by US soldier Neftaly Platero. Cindy Horswell (Houston Chronicle) reports efforts to reach the accused's wife and parents were unsuccessful "But neighbors across the street from a home on Birch Creek in Kingwood where he used to stay with family recall him as a quiet, unobtrusive person who didn't draw attention to himself. Military authorities said no charges have yet been filed and would not further discuss the pending investigation." Joe Goldeen (Stockton Record) reports John Carrillo Jr. died the day after the Thursday shooting and that he was "trying to break up a fight between two soldiers" when he was shot. His survivors include Reylene (wife) and two young children, Desiree and John Carrillo Sr. (his parents) and three young siblings.

Meanwhile an Iraq War and Afghanistan War veteran is accused of killing a woman, Stephanie Hershman, and her two toddlers, Jathan and Jaylon. Marcus Washington (Nashivlle's News Channel 5 -- link has text and video) reports that Sgt 1st Class Matthew Perkins family stated to the press at yesterday's arraignment (preliminary hearing is expected in November) that he suffered from PTSD. WSMV adds that Perkins allegedly made a confession to the police but will now be withdrawing it and his family states that, when the murders took place, Perkins was high on drugs. His stepfather tells Marcus Washington that Perkins was on drugs (including morphine) that he was prescribed but he was also high on meth. They state that being high is why Perkins confessed to police. His family maintains he is innocent and was too high to have carried out the crimes.

Meanwhile the Austin American-Statesman reports that Jessie Ann Franklin and her husband, Iraq War veteran Sgt Michael Timothy Franklin, were discovered dead in their Fort Hood home over the weekend and, while the deaths are under investigation, Forth Hood appears to have an increase in suicides (to be clear, it is alleged that the sergeant killed his wife and then took his own life) with two other soldiers dying over the weekend and one on Friday. None of the deaths have conclusive findings at present and all are under investigation. AP has more details on the Franklins and also notes, "So far this year, 14 confirmed suicides and six more suspected suicides have been reported among soldiers stationed at Fort Hood, according to figures released by the Army Suicide Prevention Task Force. The Army reported 11 suicides of Fort Hood soldiers in 2009, down from the previous record high of 14 in all of 2008."

Sgt John F. Burner III died this month while serving in the Iraq War. Susan McCord (Augusta Chronicle) reports that Verena Burner, John's wife, is explaining that her husband died because the military said "they were not set up to give him the necessary tests that he needed, and told him to come back on Friday, but he had passed away at that point -- leaving behind his wife and their two daughters (Celina and Caitlyn) among other survivors. She is fighting to make sure that what happened is not "swept under the rug. This dos not have to happen. They should have been set up." The impression that she gets its that "nobody really cares" and this is compounded by the fact that she can't get straight answers from the military including the actual cause of death ("Not knowing is the worst. Respiratory infection is not going to be good enough."). He is scheduled to be buried October 13th at Arlington National Cemetery.

The Iraq War has not ended -- despite Barack Obama's statements to Rolling Stone. Faye Fiore (Los Angeles Times) reports on the families of the fallen and zooms in on one mother:

When President Obama announced the conclusion of combat operations in Iraq this month, Lee Ann Doerflinger didn't feel any closer to that magical "closure" everyone talks about. In some ways, she felt worse.
It didn't help when, channel surfing, she caught footage of the Stryker brigade pulling out of Iraq for the last time. It was the end of a mission Thomas helped launch -- he drove a Stryker armored personnel carrier with a dashboard like a rocket ship's. For years she had prayed for the safety of the brigade; now they were out of harm's way and here she was sobbing on the couch -- "oddly bereft" was how she put it. Another earthly part of Thomas shutting down. No more pretending he wasn't really dead, just deployed.
"Maybe someone can understand this even if I can't. It's as if that last piece of Thomas now goes too," she wrote on her blog, "We Remember," a chronicle of losing a child to war. "His part of this conflict is over."
It isn't that they haven't all moved on. A friend of Lee Ann's remarked the other day that losing Thomas isn't the only thing she talks about anymore. At 55, she has three other children, a baby granddaughter and Richard, her husband of 33 years, who anguished in his own way. She isn't sure she ever saw him cry.

A few visitors have repeatedly e-mailed since last week to get something highlighted. It's at a site that hasn't noted the Iraq War since . . . 2007. And we have to note it!!!! It's not about the Iraq War, it is about veterans -- or 'about' veterans. It's a vanity piece by a vanity writer. In 2005, we dropped an activist we had previously noted because he was privately attacking (verbally) war resisters. In 2006, he went public with his comments. We were already done with him -- and had explained why publicly and named him. With this one, it's a woman. I've been kind and not named her. However, we dumped her in 2008 when she began attacking Peace Mom Cindy Sheehan for (a) running for the House against Nancy Pelosi and (b) supporting Cynthia McKinney for president. The woman was a member of the Cult of St. Barack and we have no use for her. This was noted in real time (without her being named though everyone should have known who we meant because of an interview she gave the week it was noted we were done with her). I'm not interested in her bad writing. Along with the generic Up With People crap site that posted her last week, there's one other outlet that is interested in her bad writing. We're not. When she attacked Cindy, she not only let her ego and jealousy run wild, she demonstrated that there was nothing independent about her.

This site's position has always been that your vote is your vote and you can use it -- or not use it -- as you see fit and that the more options -- candidates -- available in a race, the better; we do not support "Don't Run" campaigns and we called out the bad 'producer' of T&A flicks who attacked Cindy's run as well as faux 'feminist' Katha Pollitt who attacked Cindy.

On the latter, since I've brought that up, a number of e-mails came in since Katha was called out asking about the editing of that piece? After it went up -- and this is up somewhere, probably Rebecca's site in 2008 -- in fact, Rebecca has the original entry, a copy of it -- a friend of Katha's repeatedly lobbyied me to remove one specific insult of Katha. I originally said no. I then thought about all the times I've lobbied for friends -- to be clear, I've asked people in the press to go easy, I've never asked them to ignore something but if someone's career is shaky, I'm thinking of one actress, and it's become popular to bash them, I have, for example, asked a friend and an editor at Vanity Fair to go easy on my friend -- and I did respect what Katha's friend was attempting. I explained that to her friend and pulled what the friend was objecting to -- the part that truly upset Katha. However, in the time since, we now go there regularly and I have no regrets about it. And the fact that it riles Katha, that it upsets her? Just means we'll go there all the more often. As a general rule, Katha's been ignored since then except when she makes a total ass out of herself -- example, in the summer of 2008, 'feminist' Katha didn't realize what she was confessing to in The Nation. Feminism is not something you turn on and off like a faucet. But there was Katha admitting that she was avoiding calling out sexism because she didn't want to risk Barack's run for the presidency. Thanks, Big Girl, you sure helped us all by waiving the sexist through. And that's what makes Katha a faux feminist. It also explains why it took over a year of lobbying and shaming to get Katha to finally mention the name Abeer. Abeer, for those who don't know, was the young Iraqi girl -- girl, not a woman -- who was gang-raped by US soldiers -- all of whom either entered guilty pleas or were convicted. She was gang-raped in her living room while she could hear her parents being killed in the other room -- shot to death -- and the cries of her five-year-old sister who was then shot to death. She was gang-raped and then she was murdered. And then, in an attempt to destroy evidence, the US soldiers set her body on fire. 'Feminist' Katha had nothing to say on the matter. Shamed and pressured, she finally 'wrote' of Abeer in a column -- giving Abeer a FULL half-sentence. That's our brave feminist. And, please note, this was long after confessions by US soldiers involved had been made and had been made publicly. In fact, the US military brass showed more alarm and more outrage than did 'feminist' Katha Pollitt.

But don't worry, boys and girls, she had time to do her bulls**t columns where she whines about The Atlantic or this periodical and how they said this mean thing about 'career gals' like Katha. She also made time for her near yearly column about how the New York Times publishes so few women . . . while failing to note that her own publication was publishing so few women (for 2007, the bylines were 491 male and 149 female). It's a curious and unexamined world Katha lives in. But that's how you become the Charlotte Rae of the 'Do Me' push-up bra 'feminist' set.

The following community sites updated last night and this morning:

And Ruth's "Ruth's Report: What if it were George W. Bush saying it?" which isn't showing up. The next entry is dictated, we're rushing to get to Congress for hearings today. It will probably post late. We'll close with this from Senator Daniel Akaka's office (he is the Chair of the Senate Veterans' Affairs Committee):


Chairman Akaka posts information on committee website to help veterans and advocates

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Following oversight requests from Senate Veterans’ Affairs Committee Chairman Daniel K. Akaka (D-Hawaii), the Department of Veterans Affairs has agreed to review the cases of nearly 17,000 “Brown Water” and other Vietnam Era veterans who claimed disabilities related to Agent Orange. VA had previously denied a number of claims without properly determining whether veterans served in Vietnam’s inland waterways (“Brown Water”) or otherwise served in locations where veterans may have been exposed to herbicides, such as Agent Orange.

“I commend VA for responding to data showing that many Navy vessels thought to have stayed at sea actually traveled into the inland waters of Vietnam. As a result, veterans who served on these vessels are eligible for the same benefits as Vietnam veterans who served on land. I urge veterans and advocates to visit the Senate Veterans’ Affairs Committee website to determine if evidence of ships in inland waters or service on the perimeter of Air Force bases in Thailand entitles them or someone they know to health care and benefits,” said Senator Akaka.

Akaka successfully urged VA to reconsider cases in which claims by Vietnam veterans potentially exposed to Agent Orange were denied without obtaining relevant military records, such as deck logs. These claims had been held in abeyance by VA while litigation was pending concerning so-called “Blue Water” veterans and their exposure to Agent Orange and other herbicides, and were subsequently denied. Akaka discovered that many of these veterans actually served in so-called “Brown Water” or inland waters of Vietnam, and should have received the same presumption of service-connection as veterans who had “boots on the ground” in Vietnam. By law, VA presumes that veterans who served in inland waterways were exposed to Agent Orange or other herbicides. Any of those veterans who suffer from certain diseases, and their survivors, may qualify for monetary benefits and health care.

With this review, certain veterans who were previously considered “Blue Water” veterans will have their claims re-evaluated for evidence of “Brown Water” service, or evidence of service in other locations where VA acknowledges that herbicides may have been used, such as the perimeter of Air Force bases in Thailand.

The Senate Veterans’ Affairs Committee website provides a list of the ships VA has acknowledged traveled in inland waters, as well as evidence about other ships that the committee has received. A list of the ships identified to have traveled in Vietnam’s inland waters by VA is available here: LINK

Akaka’s committee staff has compiled an additional list of ships with evidence or suggestion of service in Vietnam’s inland waters. That list is available here: LINK

For a list of the conditions Vietnam veterans are presumed exposed to, please click here: LINK.

In addition, monetary benefits and care are provided to Vietnam veterans’ offspring with spina bifida, and to children of women veterans who served in Vietnam who have birth defects (more information here: LINK).


Kawika Riley

Communications Director and Legislative Assistant

U.S. Senate Committee on Veterans' Affairs

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

The e-mail address for this site is

thomas friedman is a great man

oh boy it never ends