Thursday, November 03, 2011

At least 10 Sahwa dead in Baquba bombings

Just yesterday, we were noting, "Nouri's crackdown on 'Ba'athists' has taken a lot of attention off the continued targeting of Sahwa also known as 'Sons Of Iraq' and 'Awakenings'" They're getting press attention today and, as usual when it comes to Iraq, that means violence. Aseel Kami, Kareem Raheem, Jim Loney and Elizabeth Piper (Reuters) report there was a double bombing -- suicide bomber and car bombing -- in Baquba today apparently targeting Sahwa one of whom, Younis Mohammed, is quoted stating, 'We heard the sound of an explosion inside the headquarters followed by shooting. We felt panicked, fearful and confused and we started running to the main street in fear the explosion was to be followed by another. We saw a civilian car heading towards us and we felt it was a suicide car bomb. Then it went off and I felw into the air and then hit the ground." Sameer N. Yacoub (AP) explains those killed "all were members of Sahwa" and that they are now "targeted by insurgents who call them traitors." Sahwa is composed of former resistance fighters whom the US put on the payroll in order to get them to stop attacking the US military and its equipment and who were slowly turned over to Nouri al-Maliki from 2008 through 2009. Fang Yang (Xinhua) counts 10 dead and twenty-five injured and notes, "The victims were gathering at the entrance of the base to collect their salaries when the suicide bomber attacked them, the source said."

Baquba is in Diyala Province. Ayub Nuri (Rudaw) observes that Iraqiya members in Diyala are calling for the province to become semi-autonomous if their demands, such as the peshmerga leaving and that transferring prisoners from the province to other provinces immediately stop. They've set a time limit of three days for a decision to be made in Baghdad. If their demands are not met, they will follow Salahuddin Province's lead from last week. (The Provincial Council voted to become semi-autonomous, notified Baghdad and now a referendum on the matter -- per Article 119 of the Constitution -- should resolve the issue.) Last week also saw residents of Anbar Province call for a similar move.

Iraq War veteran Leroy Torres and his wife Rosie Torres have never stopped fighting on behalf of veterans exposed to burn pits and contiuned to educate the nation on the issue. The Torres have a website entitled BURNPITS 360. They are also on Facebook. It's a personal issue, Capt Leroy Torres was exposed to the burn pit on Balad Airbase. KZTV 10 reports on their trip to DC "to hopefully gain support from lawmakers. They're pushing for health care for victims of burn pits, and asking the government to establish a national registry similar to the Agent Orange registry from the Vietnam War." Rosie Torres explains, "This registry will allow people to start recognizing the association between the toxic exposure from the burn pits and the illnesses that are surfacing now and have claimed the lives of many soldiers." The Torres note that a member of Congress is working hard on the issue.

From: The Honorable W. Todd Akin
Dear Colleague;
Please sign on to be an original cosponsor to legislation that is important to our veterans.  Numerous veterans have suffered serious health problems after exposure to open burn pits in Iraq and Afghanistan. This legislation will establish a registry, similar to the Agent Orange Registry and the Gulf War Syndrome Registry.  This is the first step toward providing better care for veterans who have been affected by open burn pits.
This legislation is already supported by the Veterans of Foreign Wars (VFW), American Veterans (AMVETS) and the Association of the United States Navy (AUSN).  And the issue of burn pits was recently reported on in the October 24th edition of USA Today (which can be found here)
This bill will also be introduced in a bipartisan/bicameral fashion with companion legislation being introduced by Senator Tom Udall (D-NM)
This bill is scheduled to be introduced on November 3rd, so please contact my office soon to become an original cosponsor.
W. Todd Akin
Member of Congress


Rep. W. Todd Akin

Open Burn Pit Registry Act of 2011

Department of Veterans Affairs

Based on recent accounts of health maladies of veterans returning from Iraq and Afghanistan and a possible link to toxic fumes released in open burn pits it has become necessary to voluntarily track and account for these individuals. 
This registry will ensure that members of the Armed Forces who may have been exposed to toxic chemicals and fumes while serving overseas can be better informed regarding exposure and possible effects. This legislation
is modeled after legislation that created the Agent Orange Registry and the Gulf War Syndrome Registry.
As drafted, the purpose of the
Burn Pit Registry  (bill text found here) is to:
• Establish and maintain an open burn pit registry for those individuals who
may have been exposed during their military service;
• Include information in this registry that the Secretary of the VA determines applicable to possible health effects of this exposure;
• Develop a public information campaign to inform individuals about the
• Periodically notify members of the registry of significant developments associated with burn pit exposure.
In order to ensure that the Veterans Administration conducts the registry in the most effective manner, the legislation:
• Requires an assessment and report to Congress by an independent
scientific organization;
• This report contains an assessment of the effectiveness of the Secretary
of the VA to collect and maintain information as well as recommendations
to improve the collection and maintenance of this information;
• The report will also include recommendations regarding the most effective
means of addressing medical needs due to exposure;
• This report will be due to Congress no later than 18 months after the date
which the registry is established.
• CBO states that this registry would cost $2 million over 5 years
We learned from this country's issues with Agent Orange that the need to get
ahead of this issue is of paramount importance. 
The establishment of a burn pit registry will help the VA determine not only to what extent the ramifications of burn pits may have on service members but can also be of great use in information dissemination. 
If you have any questions please contact Rep. Akin's office at 5-2561 and speak
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