Monday, November 08, 2010

Veterans issues

Lore Croghan (New York Daily News) reports on the Wounded Warrior Project and zooms in on Iraq War veteran Ray Sumner:

"A guy runs out of a house with his mask on, just his eyes are showing, with an AK-47, and he's yelling, 'Allah Akbar, Allah Akbar.' I felt myself falling down," he said. "I knew I had been hit."
In a tent hospital, doctors worked to repair his femoral artery. He woke up 10 days later, his mother holding his hand.
"Mom, what are you doing in Iraq?" he said, not realizing he was at Bethesda Naval Hospital in Maryland.
It took 18 months to relearn how to walk. After medical retirement from the Marines in 2007, he was accepted at Vanderbilt University's MBA program.
The U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs told him the school was too pricey, but the Wounded Warrior Project support group convinced them to pay.

Meanwhile Robert Kodosky (Philadelphia Inquirer) notes that West Chester University is doing an oral history of the wars by interviewing undergraduate and graduate students who served in Iraq and Afghanistan. Today Boston's City Council will hear witnesses on the topic of the difficulties Iraq and Afghanistan War veterans face upon returning to their own communities.

David Voreacos (Bloomberg News) reports that it appears there will be no hearing for the Louis Berger Group, Inc. which has entered an agreement with the Justice Department to pay $69.3 million dollars in order to avoid criminal prosecution for the company's overbilling in Iraq and Afghanistan. Should the corporation uphold its end of the agreement, the charges against Louis Berger Group will be dismissed in 2012. It's called corporate justice -- which is never about accountability or paying for crimes, it's always just about a slap on the wrist.

Speaking of slaps on the wrist, a number of e-mails are coming in regarding Keith Olbermann's suspension. At Third, we did "It's time to sit down with David Carr and Greg Sargent" and you can refer to that. In terms of adding anything? You break the guidelines -- the ethical guidelines -- you agreed to, you take your suspension and you quit whining. Other than that, I'll add Chris Hayes did not, DID NOT, turn MSNBC down. I have no problem saying that because I found out -- before Chris did -- that he would not be substitute hosting last week. That was MSNBC's decision and it had to do not only with political contributions but with the fact that Chris' wife works for the White House. I have no idea why some want to lie about this. But MSNBC retracted their offer and I know because I got a "let me run this by you" phone call right before Hayes was informed the offer was retracted. Last point, anyone who 'wrote' a profile on Keith Olbermann for H**tler magazine? Anyone who took money from Larry F**nt? They're not a journalist. They are a whore. They're not a journalist. And they cheapen their so-called committment to human rights when they enrich their own pockets off the suffering of women. That's not open to debate. Were it not for the last point, I wouldn't even be weighing in here. I find it very telling that the echo chamber on the faux left could again be utilized for a non-issue while many of the participants raked in the money on Iraq -- through begging, through films, through books -- but can't write a damn word about it today. Let the idiot Olbermann get the slap on his wrist he earned and watch all the whores pretend that ethical guidelines don't matter. We've stayed on, focused on, what matters. They've engaged in a circle jerk. And the refusal of an 'independent' journalist to call out the sexism in 2008? Well obviously if, at the same time, you're publishing in H**tler magazine, it goes a long, long way towards explaining why you can't call out sexism but why your organization has faced so many charges of sexism -- so many charges of sexism that your ex-girlfriend is more than happy to document in e-mail after e-mail. And the left's silence and/or encouragement of the sexism? When the bulk of the left stayed silent as Amy Goodman, Greg Palast, et al made the decision to publish in H**tler magazine, the hatred -- the instilled hatred -- of women by so many 'left' 'leaders' was on full display.

And to wash away the cesspool of those self-appointed 'leaders,' let's note this from Hillary Clinton, US Secretary of State, speaking in Melbourne, Australia yesterday:

QUESTION: In your opinion, Madam Secretary, how close are we to achieving true gender equality here in the Western world?

SECRETARY CLINTON: We’ve made a lot of progress and we are constantly in societies like Australia’s and America’s pushing forward. So on balance, again, I think we’ve made a lot of progress. But if you look at much of the rest of the world, that progress has not moved forward. I was recently in Papua New Guinea and met with a large group of women leaders there, and the violence against women in that society is debilitating. It interferes with girls going to school, it interferes with women being able to be productive members of their families and communities. And it was one of the most important issues that the women raised with me.

If you look at many other societies where women are not given the right to go to school, to get healthcare, to get access to credit, where they are diminished, marginalized, where crimes against them are considered marginal if at all, we have a lot of work to do. And why do I emphasize that? Because I think that there’s very clear evidence, it’s irrefutable at this point, from the World Bank and other respected international organizations, that societies that do not expand opportunities for women are societies that are more prone to authoritarianism, more prone to extremism, less likely to develop, more likely to be left out of the 21st century’s opportunities.

I also think there’s a lot of unfinished business about the LGBT community. We believe strongly that there needs to be more attention paid to the persecution and abuse of LGBT people around the world.

MODERATOR: Just explain what that means.

SECRETARY CLINTON: Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender people. That’s what we call sort of our shorthand in the United States. And we’re very concerned about legislation, in some parts of Africa in particular, that actually calls for the death penalty for people who are LGBT. A lot of persecution, a lot of terrible abuse.

So the human rights agenda is a very active one and needs to remain so. Because I do think when any group of people or any individual, as we’ve seen with the recent Nobel Prize winner in China, are persecuted for either who they are or what they say or what they believe, as opposed to what they do, that diminishes freedom far beyond the individual cases.

So, we are making progress on these human rights agendas, but I think it's everyone's business to not only expect your government to try to put into place a framework for regulatory protections, but to stand up against sexist jokes or homophobia or prejudice against people with head scarves, whatever you see that is really chipping away at someone else's humanity, to say, "No, we don't do that. We don't do that in Australia. We don't do that in the United States."

So, it's not just a government-to-government thing with a lobbying pass, but it changes the attitudes of how we interact with each other on a daily basis.

Bonnie reminds that Isaiah's The World Today Just Nuts "MSNBC's Boldest Lie" went up Sunday morning and we'll close with this from Kelley B. Vlahos' "Anatomy of a Pentagon Lie" (

It shouldn’t startle anyone to find that the Pentagon has blatantly ignored a congressional mandate to start reducing its use of burn pits at U.S. bases overseas.

It was only a year ago that Pentagon officials openly doubted that the black hellfire released from tons of burning hazardous waste in the open air could possibly have any long-term health effects on anyone unlucky enough to be breathing it in everyday.

“When we look at respiratory effects on a population-wide basis,” said Dr. Craig Postlewaite, director of DoD’s force readiness and health assurance, in an interview last September, “we’re not seeing a cause for concern.” The DoD’s official view has so far not changed. So, even as more and more service members come home sick – some of them irreparably, terminally – it would seem the Department of Defense has gone into classic default mode: stall until it becomes impossible to stall any longer.

That may buy the DoD ten years at least, and by then it’ll be the Veterans Administration’s problem.

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