Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Another US service member died in Iraq

ABC News Radio notes the US military has announced the death of a US service member in southern Iraq. The Defense Dept will announce the name of the fallen after his or her designated contact has been notified and, once that's done, the death will be counted in the Pentagon's official count.

Meanwhile he or she didn't die in 'a war.'

That's what Chris Weigant wants to argue.

When it comes to making the third and fourth trip through the buffet line, Chris Weigant is your go-to. Anything else is too taxing for him.

CW shows up at Huffington Post to pretend to be an expert on everything and demonstrates he's an expert on nothing.

If you doubt it, check the comments.

Generally speaking, when you have to, as CW does, pop up in the comments to respond "OK, technically they have . . ." you really shouldn't be writing about the topic you misrepresented.

If you don't grasp the legal concept of immunity, maybe you should find something else to write about?

Here's another tip, when all you've done in your column published yesterday evening is gas bag over an AP article published Saturday, you're hardly timely. When you're unaware of all the reports published since that contradict the sources speaking in the AP story, you're an idiot.

When you rush to say that anyone owes Nouri al-Maliki a thank you, you're just a lousy whore. I'm real sorry that actually following what happens in Iraq is beyond you. I'm sorry that you never had the time to follow Nouri's crackdown on protesters throughout the year or his attacks on journalists, I'm sorry too you're too stupid to read reports from Human Rights Watch or Amnesty International, I'm sorry that you're okay with Nouri's silence during the persecution of Iraq's LGBT community, I'm sorry that you're unaware of all the secret prisons Nouri's been over. Most of all I'm sorry that you are such a damn idiot you never grasp how insulting you are.

Case in point, "Less than 200 will remain, to guard the embassy, but all our other brave men and women in uniform will be home to celebrate the dawning of a new year." Really? All will return? All will celebrate? I can think of one that won't be returning or celebrating, the one announced dead at the top of this entry. I can think of 4481 more who won't be able "to celebrate the dawning of a new year." The fact that Chris Weigant can't goes to why he needs to either do the work required or find another topic to gas bag about.

As for the Iraq War not being a war, the ship sailed on that long ago. You can call it unconstitutional war, an illegal war, you can even call it (though I wouldn't) an immoral war (I don't base arguments on the ground of morality, on ethics, yes). But it's a little late to pretend it wasn't a war. When over 1.5 million Iraqis have lost their lives, when nearly 5,000 US trooops have, your semantics are neither timely nor helpful.

Chris Ames does great work at The Iraq Inquiry Digest. I'd love to note it and weigh in. But I honestly haven't had time to follow the developments he's been following for several months now. I haven't done the work required to weigh in on what's taken place since public testimony ended and even stupid me is smart enough to know that. It would be helpful in the future if the Chris Wiegants could grasp that reading one AP article doesn't make them qualified to weigh in. Let me go further, we covered every witness that appeared before the Inquiry in public. I poured over the transcripts and spoke with friends attending the hearing (some who were covering it for news outlets), I checked with London attorneys, all of that before writing one word about the testimony each day. But I'm not stupid enough to think that just because I can tell you X said ___ on day ___, I can jump into where Chris Ames is now with the various deals and developments since public testimony ceased and weigh in. I haven't done the work required for that. Chris Ames has. Chris Weigant would do well to grasp his own limitations.

And FYI, CW, if the Sadr bloc actually made Nouri the prime minister, there would have been no need for the Erbil Agreement or all the promises the US government made to Ayad Allawi -- the ones that have led him to speak publicly of being betrayed -- something you won't find covered in US outlets.

US Senator Patty Murray is the Chair of the Senate Veterans Affairs Committee and her office notes:

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE Contact: Murray Press Office - (202) 224-2834

Monday, October 17, 2011 Tester Press Office – (202)-228-0371

VETERANS: Chairman Murray and Senator Tester Call on VA to Provide Answers about Military Sexual Trauma Data

(Washington, D.C.) -- Today, Senate Veterans' Affairs Committee Chairman Patty Murray and Committee Member U.S. Senator Jon Tester sent a joint letter to Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) Under Secretary for Benefits Allison Hickey about the critical need to clarify VA's disability claims process related to Military Sexual Trauma (MST).

"Far too many servicemembers, both men and women, are returning home from service carrying the devastating wounds that result from MST," the Senators wrote. "After sacrificing so much to serve their county, they often face tremendous challenges in obtaining the services and benefits they desperately need. That is why we urge you to take further action to ensure that veterans who suffer disabilities related to MST will have their claims properly decided."

Chairman Murray and Senator Tester's letter requests explicit guarantees that concerns about the ability to correctly identify and adjudicate claims for disabilities based on MST are immediately addressed by Veterans Benefits Administration.

The full text of the Senators' letter is below:

The Honorable Allison A. Hickey
Under Secretary for Benefits
Department of Veterans Affairs
810 Vermont Avenue, NW
Washington, DC 20420

Dear Under Secretary Hickey:

We are writing to commend your recent efforts to improve the recognition of disabilities related to Military Sexual Trauma (MST). These efforts are long overdue and more work remains to be done. Far too many servicemembers, both men and women, are returning home from service carrying the devastating wounds that result from MST. After sacrificing so much to serve their country, they often face tremendous challenges in obtaining the services and benefits they desperately need. That is why we urge you to take further action to ensure that veterans who suffer disabilities related to MST will have their claims properly decided.
A December 2010 VA Office of Inspector General Report, Review of Combat Stress in Women Veterans Receiving VA Health Care and Disability Benefits, found that VBA had not fully assessed available MST-related claims data. As a result, there is no clear understanding of how consistently these claims are being adjudicated. We understand that you recently directed a review of MST-related claims and request that you provide us with the results of this review and the actions taken in response to the review findings. There are also additional steps you can take to ensure that veterans who suffer disabilities related to MST will have their claims properly decided. These actions include ensuring that regulations and policies concerning MST are based upon sound medical research and are providing VBA decision makers with the training and supervision needed to correctly adjudicate these claims.
In 2002, VA implemented universal MST screening after research found that medical and mental health conditions associated with MST were unreported and thus untreated. VA's own research, The Veterans Health Administration and Military Sexual Trauma, (December 2007), found that 22 percent of screened female veterans and one percent of screened male veterans reported MST. This research found that the likelihood of a mental health diagnosis, including but not limited to PTSD, more than doubled for veterans exposed to MST. This underscores the need for VBA to properly recognize mental and physical health conditions associated with MST.
Additionally, we have concerns regarding the evidentiary standard for adjudicating PTSD claims based on in-service personal assault such as MST. Under the current standard, evidence such as records from law enforcement authorities or rape crisis centers may be used to corroborate the veteran's account of the stressor incident. However, research shows that MST is severely underreported in both military and civilian settings. As a result, the evidence described in the regulation may not exist.
Although the current regulation allows medical or mental health professionals to consider evidence, such as behavioral changes, and to provide an opinion as to whether the evidence indicates that a personal assault occurred, claims processors may not correctly interpret evidence used by a medical professional in the context of a particular case. A clinician skilled in diagnosing and treating disabilities associated with MST should make determinations as to whether the post-MST behavior change is consistent with the reported MST experience. We request that you consider our concerns as you explore potential regulatory changes that may be necessary to resolve the issues surrounding the reported improper adjudication of PTSD claims based on MST.
We are also aware of the steps you have taken to require training concerning MST, and are pleased that you are focused on improving VBA's ability to correctly identify and adjudicate claims for disabilities based on MST. While much attention has been given to PTSD claims, we urge you to provide training on other mental health and medical conditions that may result from MST.
Thank you for your attention to this request. We look forward to continuing to work with you on behalf of our nation's veterans.


Patty Murray

Jon Tester
U.S. Senator


Meghan Roh

Deputy Press Secretary

Office of U.S. Senator Patty Murray



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The following community sites -- plus Antiwar.com and World Can't Wait -- updated last night:

Plus Stan's "Fire Seth Meyers" and Betty's "Desperate Housewives." And like Trina, I'll note this from Libby Liberal's Occupy Wall Street report for Corrente:

My first verbal contact with a fellow protester was a woman in a bright green slicker, with bright red hair and an even brighter smile. She seemed younger than me, but older than the protesters I had seen so far. Forty-something? The others around us seemed predominantly twenty- and thirty-something year olds.

The rain was not conducive to chatting but we tried. She was trying to locate the place to stow the personal baggage she had brought earlier in the day. She said they had all been working hard with various focuses, renewing the little park. She had tended to the flower beds. Through the veil of rain I noted even in the dark how pretty and well groomed they were.

She disclosed that she had decided to take a week’s vacation from her job in western New York state and spend it with the occupation. I loved it. Here was one of my full-out Close Encounters of the Third Kind committed ones who had responded to the call. In fact, I suddenly felt like a pathetic part-timer. Only committing to the next seven or so hours.

She was so enthusiastic and confident about the upcoming experience. I was worried that the occupation might be sabotaged to end by morning, she was confidently intending to be there for the next week. The occupiers needed fresh and optimistic recruits and were getting them, thank God. I wished her luck. I told her I was looking for a friend somewhere on the square along with whoever one turned over food donations to. We parted ways but both expressed hope we would reconnect before morning and that a showdown between police and activists did not happen.

At that point the heavens opened up and the rain was merciless. I stood there getting helplessly and thoroughly drenched, despite the umbrella. Was I really going to spend the next seven hours in such a ridiculously soaked condition? Thank God it was not colder. I told myself at the end of seven hours I would be able to peel off the wet oppressive clothes and have a nice warm shower back at home. A luxury many of my fellow activists would not get to enjoy.

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