Meanwhile Patricia Murphy (KUOW) reports on the wear and tear on US service members serving in Iraq and Afghanistan who "routinely carry from 60 to more than 100 pounds of gear" and notes, "Veterans Affairs (VA) disability payments to veterans of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan retired with muscular skeletal conditions are around $500 million a year. That's a conservative estimate. The figure could soar much higher as tens of thousands of military personnel leave the armed forces and file for disability."
Today is Valentine's Day and Mark Maroney (Sun Gazette) reports that Spc Ashelee Standifer and her husband Spc Spencer Standifer will be celebrating it on base in Balad. Though his article contains no photo of a cute baby (a photo of the Standifer's two-year-old Riley is featured in the previous article), Jim Arkedis (Politico) notes today is something, the day the federal budget is supposed to be released and he declares that "it's time Congress put an end to a tricky Pentagon maneuver that has already cost taxpayers according to my calculations, $200 billion since 2001. The Defense Department must stop defying 70 years of historical precedent in military spending." Today is also when, at 11:00 a.m., faith organizations gather for "a prayer vigil in front of the White House in support of persecuted Christians and religious freedom for all in Iraq. The groups will be joined by staff from the Embassy of Iraq and Christians in Iraq via a conference call." October 31st the latest wave of attacks on Iraqi Christians began with an assault on Our Lady of Salvation Church in Baghdad. Iraqhurr.org reports that 54-year-old Iyad David Solomon, Iraqi Christian, was kidnapped from his Kirkuk home last night and that the kidnappers are asking for a $30,000 ransom and threatening to kill him if the ransom is not paid. Alsumaria TV reports on the kidnapping here.
Bonnie notes that Isaiah's The World Today Just Nuts "Little Julie From Jolly Farm" went up last night, Kat's "Kat's Korner: PJ Harvey sets the standard" went up earlier that morning and Betty's "Betinna's fall" went up last night. This week on Law and Disorder Radio (begins airing this morning on WBAI at 9:00 EST and around the country throughout the week), Michael Ratner, Heidi Boghosian and Michael S. Smith address the Mexican revolution with historian Dr. James Cockcroft and Gaza with history professor Illan Pappe. We'll close with this from Andy Worthington's "Guantánamo Prisoner Dies After Being Held for Nine Years Without Charge or Trial" (World Can't Wait):
The Second World War lasted for six years, and at the end of it prisoners of war were released to resume their lives. At Guantánamo, on the other hand, the prison has just marked the ninth anniversary of its opening, and on Thursday the Pentagon announced that Awal Gul, a 48-year old Afghan prisoner, who had been held for nine years without charge or trial and was scheduled to be held forever, died in a shower after suffering a heart attack. Gul had never been held as a prisoner of war, and despite the US government’s assertions that he could be held forever, no one in a position of authority — neither President Bush nor President Obama — had ever adequately demonstrated that he constituted a threat to the United States.
From what is known of Gul’s story, he had run a weapons depot in his home town in eastern Afghanistan, after the end of the Soviet occupation, and had then run it on behalf of the Taliban after their rise to power in 1996. However, in his tribunal at Guantánamo, as I explained in a profile of him two years ago:
Gul said that he had resigned from the Taliban … and, in a volte-face that was typical of Afghan politics, had begun working with the pro-US warlord Hazrat Ali, one of three Afghan commanders who had fought at Tora Bora on the Americans’ behalf [Tora Bora being the site of a showdown, in December 2001, between al-Qaeda and senior Taliban supporters on the one hand, and a proxy Afghan army directed by US Special Forces on the other]. He explained that, on Ali’s advice, he handed himself in to Northern Alliance commanders in Kabul in February 2002, in an attempt to quell rumors about his involvement with the Taliban, but was then handed over to the Americans.
Whether there was any truth to this story had still not been clearly established after nine years, when, as Navy Cmdr. Tamsen Reese, a Guantánamo spokesman, explained, Gul had been working out on Tuesday night in Camp 6, and then “went to go take a shower and apparently collapsed in the shower.”
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