Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Burn Pits

Martin C. Evans (Newsday) may be the only reporter at a major daily newspaper to cover yesterday's Burn Pits Symposium at Stony Brook College. Evans reports that the Army sent Veronique Hauschild from their "Public Health Command" to speak and she insisted that the military needs to do its own studies and added, "I don't want to say there's not a problem because I believe there is." But that "I" is herself and not the official position of the Army.

Her presence is encouraging, however. It attests to the reality that the Pentagon can no longer outright dismiss the very real damage of burn pits. If the government study (a bunch of subsidized scientists refusing to disclose their government funding as they posed as independent) from last fall had been a success, the Pentagon would not have felt the need to send someone to the conference. But the pushback on that non-scientific nonsense and the increased public awareness of the damage from burn pits was so great that the paper -- for all the fawning coverage it received from the New York Times -- is pretty much dead and rebuked.

Interesting, isn't it, that the New York Times covered that paper? As we noted here a few years back, the dumbed down New York Times no long covers scientific papers and other things that they used to. But they managed to cover a scientific paper finally. Strange isn't it, how this scientific paper just happened to dismiss burn pit injuries? Strange that that would be the one they'd finally cover. Just like it's strange that, having covered that scientific paper, they didn't bother to send anyone to the symposium. (Yes, they knew about it.) So they can make time and space to deny and belittle the injuries of burn pits, they just can't make time to cover those injured by burn pits?

It's a bit like their embarrassing denial of White Phosphorus being used in Falluja. Dexy on the spot was there. 'Forgot' to report that in real time back in November 2004. (Or maybe when the Army vetted his copy, they put a bix X across it.) Then the military admits that is was used and suddenly the New York Times can tell the truth. Remember those days of 2004 and 2005?

The paper really, really hopes you don't.

Evans notes a study Dr. Anthony Szema did "published in the September issue of the Journal of Occupational and Environmental Medicine, area soldiers who served combat tours in Iraq and Afghanistan were found to be about seven times more likely to display signs of damaged lungs than enlistees who never served there."

I had hoped Stony Brook media would cover the symposium but thus far Three Village Patch has nothing, the Stony Brook Independent (student newspaper) has nothing and the Times Beacon Record has nothing.

As we noted yesterday, it's a hell of a lot easier to write a column about a parade. And that's what people wasted their time on for the last two weeks. Newsflash: A parade didn't cure anyone, a parade didn't help a veteran with breathing issues breathe easier, a parade didn't put food on the table for a veteran or their family, a parade didn't suppy a steady job to veterans. There are real needs that need to be addressed. The Pentagon states that they plan a parade after troops are 'home' from Afghanistan and that, with so many veterans of the Iraq War deployed to Afghanistan, it's wrong to have a parade now (when those veterans can't attend). But that's not good enough for some people. (Possibly, with Iran and Syria in the White House's target zone, they're worried that other wars could prevent a parade. I wouldn't blame them for that fear.) So they stomp their feet and whine and moan and use up all the oxygen in the room that could go to real veterans issues by instead jabbering away about a parade. "I want! I want!" they holler proving that no team spirit was built by the military for them. For them, it's all about them and they're awfully fortunate to have not been injured but instead of being grateful for that and using their strong health to advocate for those who served that need help, they whine, "I want a parade! Wah! Wah!"

And the result is the press runs to that crap which doesn't cost them a thing to cover. They do a he-said/she-said story that writes itself. But if the last two weeks had seen the cry babies using their public forums to address burn pits, then it might have forced the press to cover the symposium.

A word of advice to the greedy whiners: There's a reason corporations donate to charity. It makes them look good. It makes it appear that they're interested in something other than themselves. By contrast, veterans who just keep whining about a parade and don't have any time to note those who served who are suffering? They don't come off so good to the public. If only to build some good will, you'd think some of the whiners would have had the good sense to focus on something other than their own personal wants. If you're confused as to what actual veterans issues might be, you can watch or read Ken Malloy's report for Fresno's CBS47.

[Again, I'm referring to the push for a national parade. I'm not referring to local efforts. There is a difference including but not limited to local communities will know and decide whether enough of their veterans are home -- as opposed to deployed -- to warrant a parade.]

Good for Evans and Newsday for covering the first ever burn pits symposium. At least one outlet is still interested in journalism. By contrast, I understand that Slate, having cleared up the 'mystery' of vests, is now eager to revive the old boxers or briefs debate and attempt to pass that off as journalism.

The following community sites -- plus Antiwar.com, Adam Kokesh, World Can't Wait, On The Wilder Side and Watching America -- updated last night and this morning:

Senator Patty Murray is the Chair of the Senate Veterans Affairs Committee. Her office notes:

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE Contact: Murray Press Office

Monday, February 13,
2012 (202) 224-2834

Murray Delivers Budget Win for JBLM Waste Water Treatment Project

President's budget request includes $91 million for 'Net Zero' Waste Water Treatment Project

(Washington, D.C.) -- Today, U.S. Senator Patty Murray, Chairman of the Senate Veterans' Affairs Committee and a member of the Defense Appropriations Subcommittee announced a budget win for Joint Base Lewis McChord. Part of the President's Fiscal Year 2013 Budget includes $91 million for a new waste water treatment plant, which will replace their outdated current facility that was not meeting current EPA standards. The new plant, which will treat effluent to Class A drinking water standards, will also set the stage for reclaimed water usage in the future, allowing Joint Base Lewis McChord to try and reach 'Net Zero Water' by collecting and reusing the water consumed on base. 'Net Zero' is an Army program that encourages an installation reuses the water it consumes, which is a zero water strategy as the base balances water availability and ensures a sustainable water supply for years to come.

"This is a major victory for Joint Base Lewis McChord, which has a strong history as a leader in sustainability and is one of the Army's earliest adopters of sustainable practices and net zero concepts," said Senator Murray. "I'm pleased the Administration has responded with the investment the community needs."


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