Friday, December 09, 2011

The continuing Air Force scandal

Starting with the Defense Dept scandal over the Air Force dumping the remains of the fallen into a landfill, Charley Keyes and Barbara Starr (CNN) report:

Backtracking on initial information about how it handled the remains of American service members killed in Iraq and Afghanistan, the Air Force now says the cremated body parts of hundreds of the fallen were burned and dumped in the landfill.
Earlier, the Air Force said only a small number of body parts had been buried in a commercial landfill and claimed it would be impossible to make a final determination of how many remains were disposed of in that manner.

Yesterday Craig Whitlock and Mary Pat Flaherty (Washington Post) reported that the number of troops whose remains have been dumped is much greater than the Defense Dept has acknowledged, that the "partial remains of at least 274 American troops" have been dumped "in a Virginia landfill."

Jill Laster and Markeshia Ricks (Marine Corps News) report, "Air Force Chief of Staff Gen. Norton Schwartz said he believes the service has found and fixed problems at Doer Port Mortuary and that a Defense Department panel will back up that belief." If that belief is backed up, that's disgusting. As Keyes and Starr report the Air Force's position is that they will apologize to any family . . . who objects. They are not contacting families and informing them of what happened. The families have to contact the Air Force. Who does the Air Force work for? Having already disrespected the fallen, they now can't even offer an apology. This is not accountability, this is not a sign of a government that works for the people. This is about bureaucrats who feels they shouldn't be bothered and that their mistakes are justifiable because they don't have to answer to anyone.

Mike Bowersock (Ohio's NBC 4i -- link has text and video) speaks with Iraq War veteran Daniel Hutchison who states, "I served in Iraq in 2006 and four of my really good friends were killed and it makes my blood boil to think they may be in a landfill right now. The argument can be made that it is difficult to try to identify all the pieces to bring it back home, but it's difficult to fight in a war."

In other news, Ryan Abbott (Courthouse News Service) reports 28 firefighters are part of a class action lawsuit against "Wackenhut, KBR and Halliburton [who they allege] forced them to work around the clock in Afghanistan and Iraq but paid them for only half their time." Zoe Tillman (The BLT) quotes one of the attorneys representing the firefighters, Scott Bloch, stating, "This case is about very big government contractors making billions off of the back of firefighters and other people who work over there in Iraq and Afghanistan. They're going to make billions if they pay for work performed, but somehow that's not enough for them."

The following community sites -- plus -- updated last night and this morning:

David Bacon's latest book is Illegal People -- How Globalization Creates Migration and Criminalizes Immigrants (Beacon Press) which won the CLR James Award. We'll close with this from Bacon's "Just Cause and Occupy Oakland Fight Fannie Mae and Banks" (Longshore & Shipping News):

Activists from Causa Justa:Just Cause and Occupy Oakland protested foreclosures, and demanded that banks stop foreclosures and allow families to move into foreclosed and vacant homes in Oakland. The action was one of over two dozen carried out by Occupy activists and supporters across the country to protest foreclosures and the refusal of banks to renegotiate loans.
After a march, people occupied a home owned by Fannie Mae, and announced they would make it a community center, as part of an effort to force Fannie Mae to allow people to live in the many vacant homes it owns as a result of foreclosures. In front of the occupied home, poets recited, activists made speeches, and neighbors poured through the gates.
Causa Justa announced it was holding the occupied house to demand that Fannie Mae turn it into low-income housing, and in support of the Ramirez family, whose home was improperly foreclosed on by Fannie Mae. Bank of America sold the Ramirez home while suppossedly renegotiating the loan, and the family now rents the home they once owned. Fannie Mae took $169 billion in bailout money, while its six top executives received $35 million in income, including bonuses.
A statement by Causa Justa asked, "If we can ensure that big banks don't go under, why can't we ensure that American families stay in their homes? ... To stop the displacement of long-term residents from Oakland and amplify the fight to keep families in their homes, we are OCCUPYING our homes in solidarity with 27 cities across the nation! We are the 99%!"

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