Friday, May 20, 2011


Barack gave another of his series of endless speeches yesterday and Mr. Pretty Words underwhelmed in a Baghdad cafe. Salar Jaff and Ned Parker (Los Angeles Times) report on the reaction and quote college student Ahmed Qoraishi stating, "Don't tell me the 'Arab Spring' is due to his efforts. On the contrary, I can tell that, deep inside, the Americans prefer a dictator here or there if they take care of the American national interests."

In other non-surprising news, ABC News Radio reports on the annual mental health survey for the Army which finds "actue stress and combined psychological problmes in 2010 is more than double what it was in 2005." That's surprising how? This issue's been raised before Congress in one hearing after another during the last five years. Lot of talk, lot of promises from the Defense Dept Secretary Robert Gates. No changes. Anna Mulrine (Christian Science Monitor) reports of the study:

Senior US military officials say they are hopeful that the research will provide insights into better caring for American soldiers currently facing “incredibly high” levels of combat.
The increased exposure to heavy fighting appears to be the No. 1 reason for the decrease in morale among soldiers, according to US military officials. “As a group, we were struck by the fact that levels of combat are extremely high,” says Col. Paul Bliese, director of the division of psychiatry and neuroscience at the Walter Reed Army Institute of Research in Washington.
Nearly two-thirds of the respondents in the survey, for example, reported having roadside bombs explode “near” them, and more than three-quarters of troops surveyed say that they had seen a fellow soldier in their unit killed.
Some 80 percent reported “shooting at [the] enemy,” and nearly half, 48 percent, said they were “responsible for the death of [a] combatant.”

So "senior US military officials say they are hopeful that the research will provide insights," are they? Again, five years of this nonsense. The definition of insanity may need to be changed to "expecting Congress to solve the nation's problems."

Zooming in on women veterans, Shari Roan (Los Angeles Times) reports from the American Psychiatric Association, "In the study, presented this week, researchers studied 922 National Guard members -- including 91 women -- under mandatory deployment to Iraq in 2008. The guard members were screened using mental-health measures before deployment and three months after deployment. The study found that women were much more likely than men to meet the criteria for PTSD after returning home -- 18.7% of women had PTSD compared with 8.7% of men. There were no significant differences between men and women in their level of combat exposure. The women were much less likely to feel well-prepared for combat before deployment and were more likely to report a lack of unit cohesion during deployment." Why might there be a problem with unit cohesion?

WENDY BARRANCO: My first experience with sexual harassment was with my recruiter...

NATHAN PELD: There was a young girl who I went to nuke school with who was working in our divisional office...

BARRANCO: Through that whole deployment I was harassed like every single day, I dreaded every day I went to work...

PELD: And she had a direct superior come in, and they had talked for a while, just genuine conversation, and then he dropped his pants and exposed himself to her...

BARRANCO: And I never reported it because it was just - I knew command wasn't going to do anything about it so there was no point...

PELD: When this reached the senior enlisted commander in my department he took it and tried to initiate a cover up...

BARRANCO: The last thing I would've imagined would've been joining an organization where by my own peers, by my own comrades I would've been harassed in that way.

PELD: Those members who try to play games of male dominance, you know, they receive all but a free pass.

That's from a text and audio report by Holly Kernan, Martina Castro and Rahsida Harmon for KALW News and the San Francisco Chronicle. One sexual assault victim explains in the report, "I felt really powerless and really helpless. You know, I was in this foreign country on a U.S. military base, an institution that wasn't really backing me up but that was in complete control of my life."

And in Connecticut, the News Times reports, "The Field of Flags -- a display of some 6,000 American flags, one for each American casualty in Iraq and Afghanistan -- will be set up starting at 8:30 Friday morning, rain or shine, at Immanuel Lutheran Church, 18 Clapboard Ridge Road. The display is expected to take about five hours to complete." The display will run through June 11th.

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thomas friedman is a great man

oh boy it never ends