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The Common Ills


Monday, November 24, 2014
Iraq snapshot

Iraq snapshot

Monday, November 24, 2104.  Chaos and violence continue,  Chuck Hagel is out as Secretary of Defense, Nouri al-Maliki continues to attempt to sew unrest in Iraq by attacking a deal between Baghdad and Erbil and by going to Shi'ite strongholds and saying Sunnis in Mosul's government plotted to take down the city, a former Sunni MP  faces execution,  Senators Patty Murray and Johnny Isakson call out efforts by the government to steal retirement benefits from veterans, and much more.

Chuck Hagel is now the departing Secretary of Defense. His rumored resignation is now official and AP notes that the resignation "comes as the president's national security team has been battered by crises including the rise of Islamic State militants in Iraq and Syria and Russia's provocations in Ukraine."

This afternoon at the White House, US President Barack Obama and Hagel announced the Secretary of Defense's resignation.  We'll skip Barack's repeated use of "Chuck" and instead note Hagel's words:


Mr. President, thank you -– thank you for your generous words, for your friendship, for your support which I have always valued and will continue to value. And to my not old, but my longtime, dear friend Vice President Biden, who I have always admired and respected, and both the President and I have learned an awful lot from the Vice President over the years -– thank you. And I want to thank the Deputy Secretary of Defense who is here, Bob Work, and the Chairman and Joint Chiefs of Staff, General Marty Dempsey, who also is here. I want to thank them for being here this morning.
I also want to thank you both for your tremendous leadership of the Defense Department and what you mean to our men and women and their families all over the world; and for the honor I’ve had to serve with each of you and the privilege it’s been in every way.
And I want to thank the entire leadership team at the Pentagon. Without their support and wise counsel over the last couple of years our many accomplishments, and the President noted some, I have been part of that -– but it’s a team. It’s all these tremendous men and women, as you know Mr. President, that make this happen and I couldn’t be prouder of them and what we have accomplished over the almost two years that I’ve had the honor of serving in this position.
And as the President noted I have today submitted my resignation as Secretary of Defense. It’s been the greatest privilege of my life; the greatest privilege of my life to lead and most important, to serve -- to serve with the men and women of the Defense Department and support their families. I am immensely proud of what we’ve accomplished during this time. We have prepared ourselves, as the President has noted, our allies and Afghan National Security Forces for a successful transition in Afghanistan. We bolstered enduring alliances and strengthened emerging partnerships while successfully responding to crises around the world.
And we’ve launched important reforms that the President noted -- reforms that will prepare this institution for the challenges facing us in decades to come. I believe we have set not only this department –- the Department of Defense -– but the nation on the stronger course toward security, stability and prosperity. If I didn’t believe that, I would not have done this job.
As our country prepares to celebrate Thanksgiving I want to –- you, Mr. President, and you, Vice President Biden, -– acknowledge what you have done and how grateful I am to both of you for your leadership and your friendship and for giving me this opportunity to serve our country once again.
I will continue to support you, Mr. President, and the men and women who defend this country every day so unselfishly; and their families, what they do for our country, so unselfishly. And as I have said –- and as the President noted –- I will stay on this job and work just as hard as I have over the last couple of years, every day, every moment, until my successor is confirmed by the United States Senate.
I’d also like to express my gratitude to our colleagues on Capitol Hill -- my gratitude to them for their support of me, but more importantly their support of our troops and their families and their continued commitment to our National Security.
I also want to thank my international counterparts for their friendship and their partnership and their advice during my time as Secretary of Defense. Their involvement with me and their partnership with me -- in so many of these important areas as we build these coalitions of common interests as you have noted, Mr. President –- are so critically important and to them, I am grateful I will be forever grateful.
And finally I’d like to thank my family. My wife Lilibet, who you have mentioned, Mr. President, who was with me this morning as she has been with me throughout so many years, and during so many tremendous experiences. And this experience and opportunity and privilege to serve as Secretary of Defense has been one of those; and to my daughter Allyn and my son Ziller.

Mr. President, again, thank you. To you and to all of our team everywhere, as we know Mr. President, Mr. Vice President, it is a team effort. And that’s part of the fun of it, to help build teams and to work together to make things happen for the good of the country and make a better world. For all of that I am immensely grateful. And to all of you, your families, happy Thanksgiving. Thank you very much.

The repeated use of "Chuck" in Barack's remarks were most likely an effort to make shoving Hagel out of a moving car seem far kinder than it was.

Selena Hill (Latin Post) notes:

[. . .] inside sources say that the former Nebraska senator was forced out by the president, CNN reports. According to officials, the White House lost confidence in Hagel's ability to effectively lead in the Pentagon. Plus, the former Republican senator faced pressure as criticism of the president's national security team on a series of global issues mounted, including the threat of the Islamic State.

 
NBC News correspondent and MSNBC talk show host Andrea Mitchell Tweeted the following:

  • " data-has-cards="true" data-has-native-media="true" data-item-id="536928152745152512" data-name="Think AgainTurn Away" data-screen-name="ThinkAgain_DOS" data-tweet-id="536928152745152512" data-user-id="2228393197" data-you-block="false" data-you-follow="false">

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  • " data-item-id="536916033765146624" data-name="Andrea Mitchell" data-screen-name="mitchellreports" data-tweet-id="536916033765146624" data-user-id="89820928" data-you-block="false" data-you-follow="false">
    Truth is brought in to manage troop draw down from 2 wars now U.S. is extending combat role in Afghanistan and "advising" in Iraq



    MONTAGNE: Well, get down to why Hagel is resigning right at this moment?

    LIASSON: Well, the president had conversations with Hagel in October about the final quarter of his presidency, and he essentially asked Hagel to step down. I think the biggest reason was that the mission has changed. When Chuck Hagel came in, his focus was on drawing down troops in Afghanistan and Iraq, shrinking the Pentagon, dealing with the sequester budget cuts. But now the world has changed. We're recommitting troops to Iraq to fight ISIS. In Afghanistan, we're going to be leaving some more troops behind. And the White House decided they needed a strategic thinker. And they've really struggled to stay one step ahead of all of these crises - Ebola, Ukraine, even conflicts in Asia. And I think the thinking was that they needed somebody else to run the Defense Department, more of a strategic thinker, in the remaining months of the president's term.

    MONTAGNE: And beyond that, were there problems with Hagel?


    LIASSON: Well, Chuck Hagel did occasionally seem not be on the same page as the White House. He famously said that ISIS was beyond anything we'd seen before. He was kind of out in front on that. He clashed with the national security advisor, Susan Rice, on Syria. And he never really made it into that very small insular inner circle at the White House.



    For all the lies and pretense, this was not a happy exit.  Early this morning, Helene Cooper of the New York Times attempted to spin pretty because she's honestly that useless.  She always has been and she always will be.   In 2006, Ava and I dubbed her the Bobble Head Pundit and nothing in all the years since has demonstrated that she has the skill or ability to actually report. 

    Helene had the story but she couldn't do a thing with it because she's never had the skill for context.

    After her embarrassing 'report' broke this morning, other outlets -- including the Associated Press -- brought the skill and context Helene was incapable of.  And the editorial board of the Contra Costa Times probably had the least stomach for spin of anyone working the story:

    The White House announced that Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel had submitted his resignation after he and President Obama "both determined that it was time for new leadership at the Pentagon."
    Time for new leadership? Really? Hagel's tenure is still being measured in months rather than years (18, to be exact), he has barely had time to locate all the elevators in the Pentagon. Yet it is somehow time for new leadership? This announcement is Washingtonspeak for "the guy we picked isn't working out." 


    TVNZ One News specifically notes,"Mr Hagel has had his own frustrations with the White House. In recent weeks, he sent a letter to national security adviser Susan Rice in which he said Mr Obama needed to articulate a clearer view of the administration's approach to dealing with Syrian President Bashar Assad. The letter is said to have angered White House officials."

    Aliyah Frumin (MSNBC) notes some Congressional reaction:


    “This announcement shows when you don’t have a strategy, it’s hard to come up w/a team to help you implement a strategy,” said GOP Sen. Roy Blunt of Missouri on Twitter. GOP Rep. Andy Harris of Maryland tweeted, “Pres Obama’s national security policy is failing & world is in turmoil. It will take more than changing the Sec of Defense to fix it.” Similarly, House Speaker John Boehner thanked Hagel for his service but added, “New #SecDef isn’t enough…” And in an expanded statement, Boehner said Hagel’s replacement must accompany a “larger re-thinking” of the America’s military strategy, suggesting GOP lawmakers will take a tough-as-nails approach during the next confirmation process.


    Hagel has agreed to hang on until his successor can be confirmed.  That person will be number four.  He or she will follow Robert Gates, Leon Panetta and Chuck Hagel.  Four.

    Since January 2009, Barack has required 4 US Ambassadors to Iraq as well: Chris Hill, James Jeffrey, Robert Steven Beecroft and Stuart Jones.   Four.

    When the US could have provided stability, it provided a non-stop state of flux.

    Mark Thompson (Time magazine) speaks with a wide range of observers and insiders.

    Retired Army general Jack Keane, who advocated for the surge in Iraq, says the White House has meddled with Pentagon prerogatives as the ISIS threat has grown over the past year, including videotaped beheadings of five Westerners, three of them American. “The policy is wrong and Hagel was pushing back on it,” Keane says, confirming what some Pentagon officials say privately.
    Defense officials say White House meetings on dealing with ISIS often ended without a decision, which would be made later by Obama, aided by National Security Advisor Susan Rice and her deputy, Ben Rhodes. “That’s very frustrating for a secretary of defense,” Keane adds, “who feels on the outside when it comes to issues that are in their domain.”

    Rice has long been a target inside the administration, even as she garnered sympathy as a Congressional scapegoat in the post-Benghazi hullaballoo. “The problems reach much higher than the secretary of defense,” a second Obama national-security aide said.

    Medea Benjamin (at Antiwar.com) offers:

    The talk about resetting President Obama’s security team is misplaced; we should be focusing instead on resetting his bellicose policies. Secretary Chuck Hagel’s resignation should be a time for the nation to step back and reexamine its violent approach to extremism, which has led to an expansion of terrorist groups, and inflated military spending. Let’s put more emphasis on the State Department and political solutions instead of continuing failed wars and starting new ones. We owe it to the youth of our nation who have never lived without war.


    Saturday, we did a mini-scorecard on new Prime Minister of Iraq Haider al-Abadi which included this:


    In fairness, Haider al-Abadi can point to one bit of success.  AFP reports, "The Iraqi government transferred $500 million to the autonomous Kurdish region on Wednesday as part of a deal aimed at ending long-running oil and budget disputes, the finance minister said."  Press TV explains:

    Hoshyar Zebari said in Baghdad on Wednesday that his ministry transferred the sum to the account of the Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) earlier in the day under the deal which requires Iraq to resume funding Kurdish civil servant salaries in return for a share of Kurdish oil exports.
    He said the KRG began supplying 150,000 barrels of crude oil per day to State Oil Marketing Organization (SOMO) storage tanks in the Turkish port city of Ceyhan on Tuesday.

    "This mutual implementation means that the two sides are ready to resolve all the other issues and all the issues are up for discussion," Zebari stated.



    That isn't minor.  For over a year now, the Kurds have been denied their part of the federal budget.  Nouri al-Maliki, the former prime minister and forever thug, attempted to use the federal budget to blackmail the Kurds.

    So resolving this isn't minor.


    What's that smell?

    Oh, thug and former prime minister Nouri al-Maliki emerged from the sewer he thrives in.  Rudaw reports Nouri belched up a critique of the deal:

     Iraq’s vice president and former prime minister, Nouri al-Maliki, has criticized a recent oil and budget agreement between Baghdad and Erbil, saying the deal “is merely a show of compassion.”

    Rudaw notes Nouri is also using his TV channel, Afaq TV, to attack the deal.

    Thug Nouri spent last week publicly meeting with various Shi'ite militias.

    Why he's being allowed to sew dissent is beyond me.  He needs to be kicked out of the prime minister's house because he's no longer prime minister and some of the laws he insisted upon should probably be applied to him and his actions -- if they are, he'll be behind bars.


    He's very fortunate that Haider al-Abadi seems to have more respect for freedoms -- including freedom of speech -- than Nouri himself did or does.



  • Details
  • " data-item-id="536952843362508800" data-name="iraqbusinessnews" data-screen-name="iraqbiznews" data-tweet-id="536952843362508800" data-user-id="105589480" data-you-block="false" data-you-follow="false">

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    " data-item-id="536951871215132673" data-name="Haider Al-Abadi" data-screen-name="HaiderAlAbadi" data-tweet-id="536951871215132673" data-user-id="80817491" data-you-block="false" data-you-follow="false">
    Free press is the hallmark of a free society. We have a collective responsibiity to preserve freedom in Iraq

  • Maybe justice will come to Nouri in the form of a bullet?  Live by the sword and all of that.

    Nouri is a criminal, a War Criminal.  Let's drop back to the December 30, 2013 snapshot:


    Sunday, December 22nd, Nouri yet again called peaceful protesters 'terrorists' and announced he would stop the protests.

    He wanted to attack last Tuesday but a last minute flurry of meetings by various officials and political blocs caused Nouri to withdraw the forces he had encircling the Ramadi protest square.  Then came Friday.  From that day's snapshot:

    Wael Grace (Al Mada) reports Nouri al-Maliki again threatened the protesters today.  He declared this will be their last Friday protest and that he will burn the tents in the protest squares down.  He declared that the protesters were guilty of sedition.  Sedition?  Nouri as William Bligh?  I can see it.  Kitabat notes that he made these remarks in a televised interview.  Kitabat also notes Nouri's been insisting 30 terrorist leaders are hiding in protest tents.  



    We still can't get to today yet.




    That's Falluja on Saturday as tons poured into the street to protest Nouri's latest stunt.


    They were protesting the Saturday dawn raid that Nouri's forces carried out on an MP.  MP Ahmed al-Alwani was illegally arrested.  But there's more.  Alsumaria reported that his home was stormed by Nouri's SWAT forces at dawn and that 5 people (bodyguards and family) were killed (this included his brother) while ten family members (including children) were left injured.

    By now, we all know the drill.

    What is al-Alwani?

    Yes, he's Sunni.

    And he's also, we all know this, a member of Iraqiya.

    If you're targeted by Nouri, then you are both things.

    Or, as conservative Max Boot (Commentary) put it today, "If it’s the end of December or the beginning of January, it must be time for Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki to arrest another prominent Sunni politician."

    The people of Anbar did not respond well to Nouri breaking the law and arresting an MP.




    Today,  All Iraq News reports it's been decided to put former MP Ahmed al-Alwani to death.  He was arrested December 29, 2013 the outlet notes.  His brother was killed in the arrest ordered by thug Nouri al-Maliki, an arrest that was actually a raid in the early, pre-dawn hours of the morning.

    This will have huge implications.

    For example, the tribe he belongs to is one of the key tribes in the fight against the Islamic State.  Equally true, his arrest (and the murder of his brother) outraged the Sunni community.


    This is the wrong time to be  executing a Sunni politician -- with the new prime minister Haider al-Abaidi having done nothing of significance to improve Sunni relations or to include them in the government.


    Salam Faraq and Ammar Karim (AFP) report:


    Sheikh Omar al-Alwani, a leader of the Albu Alwan, said that any decision about Alwani should be put on hold and that the verdict could harm the fight against IS.
    "All the Albu Alwan tribe is standing against (IS) on the side of the government," but "half of the Albu Alwan fighters will withdraw if they actually executed Alwani in these circumstances," the sheikh said, adding that even the former MP's guards were fighting against IS.

    He said the government should wait until the fighting is over and IS defeated, then "take any decision it considers appropriate."


    Back to Nouri.  NINA reports al-Abadia has dismissed Adman al-Asadi as Senior Under Secretary of the Ministry of the Interior.  al-Asadi is a Nouri cohort/crony. Nouri needs to be kicked out of the government himself that.  Throughout the weekend, he spoke in various parts of south Iraq and issued crackpot 'explanations' for the fall of Mosul that blamed the local government.  Nouri stated the local government allowed Mosul to fall in an attempt to destroy Iraq.  These baseless charges need to be called out and as Nouri continues to attempt to sew unrest in Iraq, his own post as vice president (he's one of three vice presidents) needs to be rethought.



    Senator Patty Murray serves on the Senate Veterans Affairs Committee and is the Chair of the Senate Finance Committee. Senator Johnny Isakson is a member of the Senate Finance Committee and also serves on the Senate Veterans Affairs Committee.  Senator Murray's office issued the following today:




    For Immediate Release                                                      CONTACT: Murray (202) 224-2834
    Monday, November 24, 2014                                                                                  Isakson (202) 224-7777

    Murray, Isakson Lead Bipartisan Letter Pressing Army Secretary on “Grave Concern” Over Retirement Benefits

    In letter to Army Secretary McHugh, Senators call for immediate reversal of policy forcing officers to retire at highest enlisted rank
     
    Current policy results in significant decrease in lifetime retirement benefits, for some as much as $1,000 per month or more

    WASHINGTON, D.C. – U.S. Senators Patty Murray (D-WA) and Johnny Isakson (R-GA) led a bipartisan group of colleagues in sending a letter to U.S. Army Secretary John McHugh over the Army’s treatment of a significant number of captains and majors who are former non-commissioned officers and are being forced to retire at their highest previous enlisted rank as a result of the Army’s use of Enhanced-Selective Early Retirement Boards (E-SERB). This will result in a significant decrease in lifetime retirement benefits for the impacted soldiers, for some as much as $1,000 per month or more, or just over $1 million over a 40 year retirement in the case of a captain forced to retire as a sergeant first class.   

    “These former non-commissioned officers answered the Army’s call for volunteers to attend Officer Candidate School as the Army expanded its officer corps to fight the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.  Now, despite having served for years as commissioned officers and rising through the ranks to become captains and majors, these dedicated soldiers will soon be forced to retire at their highest previous enlisted rank,” the Senators wrote in their letter. “To demote these soldiers in retirement is an injustice that devalues their service and will materially disadvantage them and their families for the rest of their lives… We strongly urge you to take the necessary steps to rectify this situation in order to allow these soldiers to retire at the rank they have earned and appropriately honor their service to our nation.”

    Under current law a soldier must serve at least 8 years of active service as a commissioned officer in order to retire as a commissioned officer.  Soldiers who serve 20 years total, but less than 8 years as commissioned officers are retired at their highest enlisted rank.  During the “Grow the Army” effort the Army dramatically increased the number of officers commissioned via its Officer Candidate School (OCS).  The Army expanded to a post 9-11 peak of 570,000 soldiers in 2010 and is currently executing an aggressive end strength reduction designed to shrink the Army to 450,000 soldiers.  Many of those OCS graduates are now being forced to retire through the E-SERB process as the Army shrinks.  Officers with more than 18 years active service are screened by E-SERB and those selected will be forced to retire on the first day of the month following the month they reach 20 years of service. These former non-commissioned officers stepped up and volunteered for OCS at a time the Army badly needed officers and served honorably for between 6 and 7 years.  Now, many are being retired at enlisted ranks they have not held in years.  This is particularly disturbing because had they ignored the Army’s call for officers most would have been promoted at least once more and been eligible to retire at a higher enlisted rank.

    Senators Murray and Isakson were joined in sending the letter by: Senators Sherrod Brown (D-OH), Maria Cantwell (D-WA), Saxby Chambliss (R-GA), Susan Collins (R-ME), Tom Harkin (D-IA), Mike Johanns (R-NE), Tim Johnson (D-SD), Amy Klobuchar (D-MN), Patrick Leahy (D-VT), Claire McCaskill (D-MO), Mark Pryor (D-AR), Bernard Sanders (D-VT) and Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH).

    Read a one-page summary of the issue here.

    The full text of the letter is as follows:

    November 19, 2014

    The Honorable John McHugh
    Secretary of the Army
    101 Army Pentagon
    Washington, DC 20301-0101

    Dear Secretary McHugh:

    We write to express our grave concern over the Army’s treatment of a significant number of Army captains and majors who are former non-commissioned officers.   These former non-commissioned officers answered the Army’s call for volunteers to attend Officer Candidate School as the Army expanded its officer corps to fight the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.  Now, despite having served for years as commissioned officers and rising through the ranks to become captains and majors, these dedicated soldiers will soon be forced to retire at their highest previous enlisted rank.  This will result in a significant decrease in lifetime retirement benefits for the impacted soldiers, approximately $1,000 per month or just over $1 million over a 40 year retirement in the case of a captain forced to retire as a sergeant first class.  This is simply unacceptable. 

    These former non-commissioned officers have been placed in this untenable position as a result of the Army’s use of Enhanced-Selective Early Retirement Boards (E-SERB).  Officers selected by the boards are forced to retire as soon as they reach 20 years of service. Unfortunately, under current law a soldier must serve at least 8 years of active service as a commissioned officer in order to retire as a commissioned officer.  Soldiers who serve 20 years total, but less than 8 years as commissioned officers are retired at their highest enlisted rank.  While this requirement makes sense in the case of soldiers who choose to retire, are passed over for multiple promotions, or are forced to retire due to misconduct, none of those cases applies to the soldiers in question.  On the contrary, Army Human Resources Command has explicitly acknowledged that E-SERB will separate fully qualified officers “who have rendered quality service to the nation.”  To demote these soldiers in retirement is an injustice that devalues their service and will materially disadvantage them and their families for the rest of their lives.

    Rather than forcing these officers to retire as soon as they reach 20 years of service, the Army could modify its E-SERB policy to delay the mandatory retirement date of affected soldiers until the first month after they become eligible to retire as commissioned officers.  For many of the affected soldiers this would extend their time in service by only a few months.  We strongly urge you to take the necessary steps to rectify this situation in order to allow these soldiers to retire at the rank they have earned and appropriately honor their service to our nation. 

    Sincerely,
                                                               
    Patty Murray                                                              
    United States Senator                                                 

    Johnny Isakson
    United States Senator

    ###
     
     
    ---
    Meghan Roh
    Press Secretary
    Office of U.S. Senator Patty Murray
    Mobile: (202) 365-1235
    Office: (202) 224-2834











    npr
    morning edition
     




    Posted at 09:27 pm by thecommonills
     

    More bad news for Iraq

    More bad news for Iraq

    Two things in the news this morning have serious implications for Iraq.

    Helene Cooper (New York Times via NBC News) reports that US President Barack Obama will announce the resignation of Chuck Hagel as Secretary of Defense.  Her report notes that the announcement will come today and that one of the reasons is the means of addressing the Islamic State.

    Helene could have been a bright reporter.  This is further proof that she won't be.  Hagel has, in one press conference after another, deflated the tires of the White House with regards to Iraq and Syria.  She misses that point.  She does include that Hagel planned to serve a full four year term.

    She misses the key point here:  Iraq needs stability.

    The White House has again failed to give it that.  The next Secretary of Defense (Helene thinks her list of possibles qualifies as reporting) will be (pay attention, you missed this, Helene) Barack's fourth Secretary of Defense in six years.  That's appalling.  And you can put it next to the fact that he's on his fourth US Ambassador to Iraq as well.

    There is no consistent strategy because there is no consistent team.

    The second big news is via All Iraq News which reports it's been decided to put former MP Ahmed al-Alwani to death.  He was arrested December 29, 2013 the outlet notes.  His brother was killed in the arrest ordered by thug Nouri al-Maliki, an arrest that was actually a raid in the early, pre-dawn hours of the morning.

    This will have huge implications.

    For example, the tribe he belongs to is one of the key tribes in the fight against the Islamic State.  Equally true, his arrest (and the murder of his brother) outraged the Sunni community.


    This is the wrong time to be  executing a Sunni politician -- with the new prime minister Haider al-Abaidi having done nothing of significance to improve Sunni relations or to include them in the government.


    Bonnie reminds that Isaiah's The World Today Just Nuts "Let's Be Whats!" went up last night.  New content went up at Third as well:




  • The e-mail address for this site is common_ills@yahoo.com.




    Posted at 09:24 pm by thecommonills
     

    Sunday, November 23, 2014
    Isaiah's The World Today Just Nuts "Let's Be Whats!"

    Isaiah's The World Today Just Nuts "Let's Be Whats!"

    lets be what



    Isaiah's The World Today Just Nuts "Let's Be Whats!."  US House Rep Corrine Brown (apparently soon to be the Ranking Member of the House Veterans Affairs Committee) and House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi take a ride (at veterans' expense) and star in the new film Let's Be Whats! -- "Fake Patriots. Real Pieces Of Work."  Corrine declares, "Screw veterans!" Nancy thumbs up and chuckles, "I hear you!"    Isaiah archives his comics at The World Today Just Nuts.










    Posted at 11:58 pm by thecommonills
     

    Hejira

    Hejira

    Yesterday, Al Jazeera reported:


    A total of eight civilians, including at least two women and four children, have been killed in an air strike that hit residential homes in Anbar province during an offensive against the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL), medical sources say.
    Five others were injured in Saturday's raids, which hit a house in the city of Heet, the sources told Al Jazeera.


    Maybe it signifies a change?  Possibly other outlets will follow suit in reporting on the near daily murder of civilians in these air bombings in this US-led campaign?

    I won't hold my breath.

    While the US and other nations bomb from the air, forces on the ground are mainly Iraqi.

    David D. Kirkpatrick (New York Times via Hamilton Spectator) reports problems with those forces:
                                 
    The Iraqi military and police forces had been so thoroughly pillaged by their own corrupt leadership that they all but collapsed this spring in the face of the advancing militants of the Islamic State — despite roughly $25 billion worth of U.S. training and equipment over the past 10 years and far more from the Iraqi treasury.


    Of course, some of the troops on the ground are US forces -- special-ops as well as 'advisers.'  Krstina Wong (The Hill) reported earlier that Barack's announced 1,500 additional US troops will not be waiting for the Congressional authorization Barack has stated he wants.  

    Along with US special-ops engaging in military actions in Iraq, so are their British equivalents.  RT reports:

    British SAS troops have been conducting secret missions that have killed hundreds of Islamic State militants. Using quad bikes and 4x4’s in Iraq, they have been seeking out enemy forces usually at night, killing up to eight terrorists a day.
    Sources from the Ministry of Defense had previously stated that the Special Air Service (SAS), which is an elite unit of the British Army, had only been involved in non-combat missions. However, aside from operating in a reconnaissance role in Iraq, they have also been taking part in eliminating IS militants, a special report by the Mail on Sunday found.


    The SAS has a huge image problem in Iraq due to their efforts to pose as 'militants' and set off bombs.  They were captured with the bombs in their car and with bad wigs on their heads. They were held in a jail but only after they shot dead 2 Iraqi police officers.

    They were held in a jail and the UK government wasn't going to let it get out what they were doing -- though even the New York Times covered this in real time -- so they sent tanks to destroy the jail and free the would-be-bombers.  

    The SAS was part of a counter-insurgency program at that time, they were conducting multiple bombings throughout the region to instill fear in the Iraqi people.

    The return of the SAS does not bode well for the Iraqi people.

    Margaret Griffis (Antiwar.com) counts 314 people killed in violence today and another sixty-nine left injured. 


    I'm traveling in some vehicle
    I'm sitting in some cafe
    A defector from the petty wars
    That shell shock love away
    -- "Hejira," written by Joni Mitchell, first appears on her album of the same name

     The number of US service members the Dept of Defense states died in the Iraq War is [PDF format warning]  4493.   

    The following community sites updated:



  • Gossip
    23 hours ago


  • Isaiah's latest will go up after this.  We're still working on Third and Jim wants to use Isaiah's latest comic in the editorial so I came over here to do this entry, get it up and then post Isaiah's comic.

                             


    The e-mail address for this site is common_ills@yahoo.com.






     


    Posted at 11:58 pm by thecommonills
     

    Nurses strike over lack of Ebola preparedness (E. Catalinotto, RN)

    Nurses strike over lack of Ebola preparedness (E. Catalinotto, RN)


    This is from Workers World:

    Nurses strike over lack of Ebola preparedness

    By on November 23, 2014


    Nurses at White House during national strike for health and safety.
    Nurses at White House during national strike for health and safety.



    National Nurses United held a day of strikes and demonstrations in 16 states on Nov. 12 demanding effective personal protective equipment and “continuous, rigorous interactive training for RNs and other health workers who might ­encounter an Ebola patient,” said Rose Ann DeMoro, NNU executive director. “That includes practice putting on and taking off the hazmat suits where some of the greatest risk of infection can ­occur. The lack of concern for nurses and ­patients in a world where corporations have taken over our community health care has been magnified during this deadly Ebola crisis.”
    In the African countries of Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone, Ebola kills at least half the people who contract the disease, according to a World Health Organization fact sheet. In the United States, as of Nov. 16, eight out of 10 Ebola patients have recovered. Survivors received early diagnosis and supportive care: prevention of dehydration with intravenous fluids, replacement of blood components, oxygen, nutritional support, and treatment for hemorrhage, shock and co-existing bacterial infections.
    It is unknown whether blood plasma from survivors, which in theory contains antibodies to fight the virus, or the drug Zmapp, played a role in their recovery. These have not yet been tested in human beings to determine their safety or effectiveness.

    Thomas Eric Duncan is the only Ebola patient treated in the U.S. to have died. An uninsured Liberian man, he was turned away from a Dallas hospital on Sept. 26 after a CAT scan, despite having fever and a history of travel to an area with much Ebola. He did not receive any treatment until several days later, when he returned by ambulance, critically ill. Two nurses at the nonunion hospital were infected with Ebola while caring for Duncan without proper training. They have recovered.


    It appears that basic supportive care can greatly reduce the Ebola death toll. However, since the 1980s, the International Monetary Fund has enforced policies that led to a deterioration of health care infrastructure in countries now hit by the disease.


    According to Rick Rowden in the Oct. 30 issue of Foreign Policy magazine, IMF policies that prevent “developing countries from scaling up long-term public investment in public health systems … have led to dilapidated health infrastructure, inadequate numbers of health personnel and demoralizing working conditions that have added to the ‘push factors’ driving the migration of nurses from poor countries to rich ones. All this has undermined public health systems in developing countries, including the ones now trying to cope with Ebola.”




    Articles copyright 1995-2014 Workers World. Verbatim copying and distribution is permitted in any medium without royalty provided this notice is preserved.








    Posted at 11:49 pm by thecommonills
     

    Saturday, November 22, 2014
    Iraq snapshot

    Iraq snapshot

    Saturday, November 22, 2014.  Chaos and violence continue, Haider al-Abadi's 'leadership' continues to be questionable, the Veterans Affairs Dept continues to do an awful job -- in public -- as they demonstrated before the Senate Veterans Affairs Committee, and much more.

    Iraq has a new prime minister, Haider al-Abadi -- or rather their prime minister has a new name.  Otherwise, things are pretty much the same in Iraq.



  • Human Rights Watch issued an alert Friday which includes:


    An attack on November 19, 2014, targeting Erbil’s governorate building killed at least 10 civilians and wounded dozens more. Attacks the same day in Baghdad killed or wounded 18 civilians. In early October, at the beginning of Muharram, the first month of the Islamic calendar and especially holy for Shia worshippers, five car bomb attacks in Karbala killed at least 15 people and injured another 48. Since then, other bombings have killed dozens more in Baghdad, Kirkuk, and elsewhere.
    “Bombings across Iraq are killing and maiming civilians in attacks so frequent they barely make the local news,” said Joe Stork, deputy Middle East director. “But a government response that too often includes arbitrary arrests and summary executions will only fuel the cycle of abuses.”
    Iraq’s central government and the Kurdistan Regional Government should redouble efforts to protect all civilians – Sunni and Shia, Arab and Kurd, and other minorities – in their fight against the militant group Islamic State (also known as ISIS), which has claimed responsibility for many of the attacks. Iraqi authorities have frequently responded to ISIS attacks with human rights abuses against Sunni civilians, including arbitrary arrests and detentions. In July, Human Rights Watch documented government-backed militias’ summary execution of dozens of Sunni civilians in areas where they are battling ISIS.


    Does that sound like a new Iraq?

    No.  And Robert A. Manning (National Interest) observes:


    The strategy, as announced, had a coherent logic to it. But it required some large leaps of faith. As Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Gen. Martin Dempsey told the House Armed Services Committee last week, “One of our assumptions is that the government of Iraq will be inclusive. One of the assumptions is that the Iraqi security forces will be will to take back al-Anbar province…If those assumptions are rendered invalid, I will have to adjust my recommendations.”
    The strategy assumed that once Maliki was removed as Iraqi prime minister, a new leader would form a more inclusive government, one that Sunnis would not reject. Bombing would buy time until Iraqis could be trained to fight ISIS—boots on the ground that would complement our air war.

    But so far, Iraq’s new prime minister, Haider al-Abadi, has done little to change Sunnis’ perceptions of Baghdad. Appointing the head of the Badr Shia militia to the powerful post of minister of the interior hasn’t helped. Will Baghdad fully allow the fostering of Sunni national guard forces? A recent shake-up in Iraq’s defense ministry and senior military leadership may be a step in that direction. But it will be at least six to eight months before it is possible to judge whether Sunnis have any confidence in the new government.





    In fairness, Haider al-Abadi can point to one bit of success.  AFP reports, "The Iraqi government transferred $500 million to the autonomous Kurdish region on Wednesday as part of a deal aimed at ending long-running oil and budget disputes, the finance minister said."  Press TV explains:

    Hoshyar Zebari said in Baghdad on Wednesday that his ministry transferred the sum to the account of the Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) earlier in the day under the deal which requires Iraq to resume funding Kurdish civil servant salaries in return for a share of Kurdish oil exports.
    He said the KRG began supplying 150,000 barrels of crude oil per day to State Oil Marketing Organization (SOMO) storage tanks in the Turkish port city of Ceyhan on Tuesday.

    "This mutual implementation means that the two sides are ready to resolve all the other issues and all the issues are up for discussion," Zebari stated.


    That isn't minor.  For over a year now, the Kurds have been denied their part of the federal budget.  Nouri al-Maliki, the former prime minister and forever thug, attempted to use the federal budget to blackmail the Kurds.

    So resolving this isn't minor.

    But it's also true that the only resolution Haider al-Abadi can claim thus far also involves oil.  Stick a pin in that, we'll come back to it.

    I would argue you could even give him credit for a meet-up/photo-op this week.  Mu Xuequan (Xinhua) reports that  Haider met in Baghdad with Turkey's Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoglu and the two held a joint-press conference at which Haider declared, "There is an agreement on information exchange and security cooperation (with Turkey), and moreover, the Turkish prime minister has offered military cooperation in fighting against the terror of Daash (IS' Arabic acronym), which is not only a threat against Iraq but also against Turkey and the whole region,,"


    That's news.

    And not because Xuequan reports, "Turkey will train Iraqi Kurdish Peshmerga forces to fight Islamic State militants in Iraq, local Hurriyet Daily News reported on Friday.  Turkey and the Iraqi Kurdistan Regional Government have been in cooperation for a training program in northern Iraq for a month, according to the daily report."  That's an arrangement between the Turkish government and the Kurdish government and the two have been getting along amazingly well for several years now.

    The same cannot be said of the Turkish government and the central government out of Baghdad.

    And the only person to blame for that is Nouri al-Maliki.

    He repeatedly called the government of Turkey (which shares a border with Iraq) terrorists.  He insulted them non-stop and did so in a public fashion.  Nouri also attacked the governments of Jordan, Qatar, Saudi Arabia -- pretty much every government in the region except for the government of Iran.

    So Haider can get some credit for that as well.

    But what else can he get credit for?

    The UN News Centre reports:



    In an interview with UN Radio, Nickolay Mladenov, head of the UN Assistance Mission in Iraq (UNAMI), said that there is “general agreement,” not just in the UN but in Iraq as well, that the security element of dealing with ISIL is one part of the solution, but is not the comprehensive solution to the problems facing the country.
    “What also needs to happen is a political process, and a political process that allows for the various communities of Iraq to come back together,” Mr. Mladenov stressed.
    “The last decade has seen a lot of violence that has been driven by divisive politics, that [in turn] has been driven by the communities looking more inwardly rather than working together, and it is time now to address that,” he added.


    The political solution.

    Remember when Barack used to note that.

    Before he got sucked into military fantasies?

    It was only months ago that Barack was insisting a political solution was the only answer.

    But he and his administration pour all their time into military issues -- building a bombing coalition, finding a country or countries stupid enough to put 'boots on the ground,' etc.

    Whatever happened to the political solution?


    Back in August, Mike Whitney (CounterPunch) felt Barack was lying when he spoke of a political solution:


    So how does Obama’s bombing of ISIS jihadis outside of Ebril (N Iraq) fit with his earlier comments that he wouldn’t help defend Iraq unless their was movement on the political front? (In other words, until Maliki was removed from office.)
    He sure changed his tune fast, didn’t he? But, why?
    Oil, that’s why.   Let’s put it this way: There are 10 reasons why Obama bombed ISIS positions outside of Ebril. They are:
    1–Exxon Mobil
    2–Chevron
    3–Aspect Energy
    4–Marathon Oil Corporation
    5–Hillwood International Energy
    6–Hunt Oil
    7–Prime Oil
    8–Murphy Oil
    9–Hess Corporation
    10–HKN Energy
    So what’s the message here? What is Obama telegraphing to ISIS about US policy?

    It’s simple. “You can kill as many Arabs and Christians as you want, but if you lay a finger on even one oil well, we’ll nuke you into oblivion.”


    More and more, it appears Mike Whitney made the correct call.

    And remember that the Kurdish oil issue -- noted earlier -- is an oil issue.

    Earlier this week, David Ignatius (Washington Post) observed, "U.S. officials believe that Sunni support has been galvanized by the removal of polarizing Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki, a Shiite. That’s true, but fighting the jihadists will be a long uphill road."


    Regardless of whether or not that would work -- at this point or months ago, the fact remains that this 'plan' has been on the table for months and nothing's happening on it.

    Al-Monitor and other outlets can -- and have -- reported on that failure.

    It's only in the US that news consumers are 'sheltered' from the truth.

    Well alright
    You gave it all up for a dream
    Fate proved unkind
    To lock the door and leave no key
    -- "Shelter," written by Maria McKee and Steven Van Zandt, first appears on Lone Justice's Shelter



    The US government won't help on a political solution but they'll gladly keep bombing.  US CENTCOM bragged yesterday:

    U.S. and partner nation military forces conducted 23 airstrikes in Iraq using fighter, attack, bomber and remotely-piloted aircraft against ISIL terrorists.
    Six airstrikes near Bayji destroyed three ISIL buildings, a bunker, two ISIL transport vehicles, five ISIL tactical units, an ISIL checkpoint and damaged another ISIL building. Near Sinjar, four airstrikes destroyed two ISIL barracks, an ISIL bunker and storage facility, an ISIL guard post, at least eight ISIL armored vehicles and a truck in a vehicle storage yard, as well as two tactical ISIL units. West of Kirkuk, three airstrikes destroyed five bunkers, two ISIL vehicles and an ISIL tactical unit. Near al Asad, four airstrikes destroyed four ISIL vehicles, an ISIL building, and struck three ISIL tactical units. Near Mosul, three airstrikes destroyed an ISIL guard post, an ISIL vehicle and two ISIL tactical units. Near Ramadi, two airstrikes destroyed an ISIL vehicle and an ISIL tactical unit, while also damaging an ISIL armored vehicle and an ISIL-occupied building. Finally, in Tal Afar, an airstrike damaged an ISIL-occupied airfield.
    All aircraft returned to base safely. Airstrike assessments are based on initial reports.

     The strikes were conducted as part of Operation Inherent Resolve, the operation to eliminate the terrorist group ISIL and the threat they pose to Iraq, the region and the wider international community. The destruction of ISIL targets in Syria and Iraq further limits the terrorist group's ability to project power and conduct operations.


    Bombings?

    The last thing Iraq needs more of is bombings.

    Since the start of this year, the Iraqi government has illegally bombed the residential areas of Falluja.  Bombing civilians as a form of retribution is known as "collective punishment" and is legally recognized -- both by the US government and the international community -- as a War Crime.

    On September 13th, Iraq's new prime minister Haider al-Abadi called out these actions and promised the bombing would now cease.

    It didn't even cease for twenty-four hours.  The Iraqi military continues to bomb the residential neighborhoods of Falluja.

    Iraqi Spring MC issued the following early Friday:



    : اطفال تتراوح اعمارهم بين 6 الى 12 سنة هم ضحايا قصف الجيش الحكومي للفلوجة.
    0 replies6 retweets2 favorites



    The video features the dead children of Falluja and a soundtrack of wailing family members mourning the deaths.



    And the news never ends on how the children of Iraq are repeatedly attacked.



     "



    And this was

                               Retweeted 414 times

    Shia Gangs support by goverment burend yeastrday innocent civilians from sunnis
    0 replies 414 retweets 1 favorite



    Yes, gangs supported by Haider al-Bahdi's government terrorize the children of Iraq.

    And kidnap and kill them.  We'll note this Tweet.


  • Details
  • " data-has-cards="true" data-item-id="535903210058571778" data-mentions="mehdirhasan" data-name="Head to Head " data-screen-name="AJHeadtoHead" data-tweet-id="535903210058571778" data-user-id="1222240146" data-you-block="false" data-you-follow="false">

  • " data-has-cards="true" data-has-native-media="true" data-item-id="535900750766153729" data-name="Milk Sheikh" data-screen-name="dujanaaljanabi" data-tweet-id="535900750766153729" data-user-id="2808692674" data-you-block="false" data-you-follow="false">
    | Ali al-Dulaimi 12 years old, got kidnapped by backed Shia militias and was found killed in a garbage dump
    0 replies 28 retweets 9 favorites



    That's the side Barack Obama's chosen and his refusal to have his administration work towards a political solution ensures that's the only side that gets heard.

    The Veterans Affairs Department keeps getting heard.

    Maybe it shouldn't?

    If you don't know what you're doing, maybe you should just say, "I'm sorry, I'm wasting taxpayer dollars because I'm too stupid to do the job I was hired to do."

    Wednesday, the Senate Veterans Affairs Committee held a hearing on veterans suicide and VA officials appeared.  Let's stress this was not a pop quiz, the senators did not invite the VA and then spring a different topic on them.  But has the VA ever been more unprepared for a hearing?

    Senator Bernie Sanders is  the Chair of the Senate Veterans Affairs Committee and Senator Richard Burr is the Ranking Member.   The first panel was the VA's Dr. Harold Kudler (Chief Consultant for Mental Health Service), Dr. Caitlin Thompson (Deputy Director, Suicide Prevention) and Dr. Dean Krahn (Deputy Director in the Office of Mental Health Operations).


    Wednesday we noted an exchange that's we're including again.


    Senator Patty Murray: I wanted to ask you, we are seeing the suicide rate of middle-aged veterans who use the VA decrease -- you mentioned that.  But [the suicide rate for] female veterans who use the VA has increased by 31%.  What is happening?

    Dr. Caitlin Thompson: Yeah, thank you so much for asking that, Senator. We are as concerned as you are and trying to better understand that, why that is.  Why the rates of -- rates of suicide among women are increasing as well as that youngest male population.  One thing that I just also want to say is that we also know that veterans use firearms more than non-veterans during -- when they are feeling suicidal.  And we know that women veterans are using firearms at an increased rate than non -- than non-women veterans.  And we know that, uhm, firearms in fact -- If you use a firearm when you're suicidal, there's a 90% chance that you will die.  If you use prescriptions, medications, which is what most women non-veterans tend to use, there's a 3 to 4% chance that you will die because there's that opportunity to reach them before they die --

    Senator Patty Murray:  I --

    Dr. Caitlin Thompson (Con't): -- and so -- I'm sorry, go ahead.

    Senator Patty Murray:  I appreciate that response but I think we also have to look at if the VA is meeting women's specific needs --

    Dr. Caitlin Thompson: Absolutely.

    Senator Patty Murray (Con't):  -- and why are they increasing dramatically?  Are the programs not effective? Are they not feeling that they should ask about it?  Is it something else?  This is really concerning to me and it's something I'll be following very closely as well. 


    When did the VA official answer Senator Murray's question?

    Never.

    And I want to focus on Thompson for a moment.

    You're on the taxpayer dollar, in public, act accordingly.  Thompson needed chewing gum to complete her performance, chewing gum she could smack as she declared "Yeah" and "Yep" throughout the hearing.  You're an official with the VA testifying before Congress, you learn to say "Yes, ma'am" and "Yes, sir."

    I never cease to be appalled by government officials who show such disrespect to the people's representatives.

    But a basic question about the increased rate of suicide among women veterans led to a lot of babbles from Thompson but no answer and not even a babble that could provide a statistic.


    Thursday's snapshot noted the lengthy exchange Senator Richard Blumenthal had with the officials.  Did he get an answer?

    No.

    We don't have space for the full exchange (see Thursday's snapshot for that) but notice how the VA can't provide any answers at all but can and will try to steer the conversation away from the real issues.


    Dr. Caitlin Thompson:  I don't have the actual -- I believe it's up to 70 -- uh -- and this is, uh, over time.  The rates -- uh . . . I'd have to find the exact number.

    Senator Richard Blumenthal:  I think that is a -- I think that is the elephant in the room.


    Dr. Caitlin Thompson:   Is . . what's . . .

    Senator Richard Blumenthal:  The elephant in this room.   That younger group.  You're giving us middle aged veterans 

    Dr. Caitlin Thompson:  No --

    Senator Richard Blumenthal:  -- who use your services .

    Dr. Caitlin Thompson:  We do -- I mean, we certainly do acknowledge that that rate is increasing and so what-what are we doing about this?  We need to provide and we are providing very, very specific outreach to those youngest veterans that --

    Senator Richard Blumenthal:  Well we're talking about more than just outreach with all due respect.  We're talking about -- and this is the really critical point here -- we're talking about a group here that uses your services.

    Dr. Caitlin Thompson:  Absolutely.

    Senator Richard Blumenthal:  We've reached out to them.

    Dr. Caitlin Thompson:  Yep.

    Senator Richard Blumenthal:  They're in your doors, they're using your services -- 

    Dr. Caitlin Thompson: Yep.

    Senator Richard Blumenthal:  And they're committing suicide at a higher rate.

    Dr. Caitlin Thompson:  Yes.  So we're -- Yes.  We're trying to understand why is this?  We are -- We are at a loss as much -- as much as a lot of people are.  We --



    Senator Richard Blumenthal: This is -- with all of the publicity surrounding wait time, people dying -- are they dying because of the wait time, are they not?  People are dying at a higher rate --

    Dr. Caitlin Thompson:  Yes.

    Senator Richard Blumenthal:  -- who use your services.



    Yep. Yeah. Yep.

    Again, you're being paid to do a job by the taxpayers.  When you're public, you conduct yourself with some dignity.  "Yep" and "Yeah" aren't appropriate responses to members of Congress when you're a government official.  (Non-government officials, We The People, can speak however they want.  They're individual citizens, not people paid by the taxpayers.  The Congress is supposed to be working for We The People.)

    With the above in mind, let's now go to Senator Boozman from the hearing.


    Senator John Boozman:  Thank you and following up on Senator Blumenthal, what is the average age of the veteran that decides to take their life?

    Long pause. VA officials shuffle through paper.

    Senator John Boozman:  In the VA?  What's the average age of veterans who are taking their lives?

    Dr.  Caitlin Thompson: Who die by suicide?  Uh, well we -- I don't know the average age.  But we do know that 70% of veterans who die by suicide are 50-years-old and older.

    VA officials all begin shaking their heads in the affirmative.


    Senator John Boozman:  Older?  Good.

    Dr. Caitlin Thompson:  Yeah.


    Senator John Boozman:  So --

    Dr Dean Krahn:  And that's by far the largest group of veterans.  That's why we focused on it.


    No, it's not.

    No one is as stupid as Krahn wants them to be.

    The VA officials focus on that figure because the more damning figure -- the elephant in the room, Senator Blumenthal called it -- is that young veterans using the VA services are committing suicides at higher numbers.

    The message, which the VA would rather bury, is that things are so bad at the VA that young veterans -- trying to readjust to civilian life -- reaching out to the VA for a lifeline are more at risk of suicide than young veterans who avoid the VA.

    Nothing says failure more than that.

    This is a national disgrace and it needs to be addressed immediately, not swept under the rug.

    It won't be addressed in the House if Corrine Brown becomes Ranking Member of the House Veterans Affairs Committee.  She'll find a way to blame veterans, no doubt, as she always does.


    Let's finish out by dropping back into the hearing and we'll focus gain on Senator Boozman.

    Senator John Boozman:  I'm a little concerned or a little confused about the wait times.  You know, you said that it's mandated that it's a day.  If a family practitioner sees a patient and in the course of that examination he's concerned that perhaps this individual is having problems and he writes down on the chart, you know, "Needs a consult," how long does that take?

    Dr. Harold Kudler: Actually, at over 90% of facilities and at over 90% of CBOCs, there will be a co-located collaborative mental health person in the -- in the building and they should be able to walk that person over to the office and see him and --

    Senator John Boozman:  Well they should be able to.  Where does the 30 days come in?  What's that?

    Dr. Harold Kudler:  That is a prospective, that's like if you make an appointment by phone -- say calling by phone, say, "When's the next appointment?" It's that' far out.  But if you come in --

    Senator John Boozman:  They walk the person over, they see you and they say, "Well you need to come back," then it's 30 days?


    Dr. Dean Krahn:  And-and that's a very important point, Senator, because what often happens is --

    Senator John Boozman:  That's, you know, it's checking a box.  But it's really not seeing a patient.

    Dr. Dean Krahn:  We -- Our-our standard is that they will beseen that day but that doesn't get shown, that's not reflected in that longer wait time, that's to get the next official appointment.  Quite frankly, they'll often be seen in other ways or in other clinics earlier.  They will be seen that day by a mental health professional.  If they need that help.  And anyone can refer them.  And they can self-refer there.

    Senator John Boozman:  But if they need follow up appointments, it's probably 33 days?

    Dr. Dean Krahn:  Yes.  I think that's right.

    Senator John Boozman:  So it's -- they're actually not starting treatment for an extended period of time.

    Dr. Dean Krahn:  They don't get an official mental health appointment but they may be seen in other ways.  And unfortunately our system doesn't yet capture all the ways we do it.  For instance, we might have them come back to the emergency room and that will not be recorded as a mental health appointment, none the less, they may have that mental health appointment -- or a phone call which may not be registered as a mental health appointment, but yet.


    Did you see the song and dance?

    Did you catch the repeated attempts to distract and defocus?

    Boozman didn't let them slide off the hook.

    That's what veterans need right now from the Congress.  They need the Patty Murrays, the Richard Blumenthals, the John Boozmans, etc.  They need members of Congress willing to hold the VA accountable.

    Corrine Brown proved she could . . . when Bully Boy Bush occupied the White House.  Since Barack moved in, Brown's refused to hold the VA accountable, felt the need to praise them -- even when the topic of a hearing was the latest VA scandal, gone out of her way to blame veterans for VA problems and much worse.

    She's not fit to serve as Ranking Member.  Veterans groups have rejected her for a reason.

    The current Congress is failing veterans.  You wouldn't think they could fail them even more but you wouldn't think an incompetent like Corrine Brown would be on the verge of becoming Ranking Member of the House Veterans Affairs Committee either.












    the washington post
    david ignatius











    Posted at 07:41 pm by thecommonills
     

    How many more children will the Iraqi government kill in Falluja?

    How many more children will the Iraqi government kill in Falluja?

    Since the start of this year, the Iraqi government has illegally bombed the residential areas of Falluja.  Bombing civilians as a form of retribution is known as "collective punishment" and is legally recognized -- both by the US government and the international community -- as a War Crime.

    On September 13th, Iraq's new prime minister Haider al-Abadi called out these actions and promised the bombing would now cease.

    It didn't even cease for twenty-four hours.  The Iraqi military continues to bomb the residential neighborhoods of Falluja.

    Iraqi Spring MC issued the following earlier this morning:


    : اطفال تتراوح اعمارهم بين 6 الى 12 سنة هم ضحايا قصف الجيش الحكومي للفلوجة.
    0 replies6 retweets2 favorites



    The video features the dead children of Falluja and a soundtrack of wailing family members mourning the deaths.

    If you're puzzled as to why these are termed War Crimes, you especially need to stream the video.

    If you've been silent for eleven months as these bombings have been carried out daily, you're pretty much required to stream the video.


    Among the violence already today in Baghdad, Alsumaria notes a roadside bombing left four people injured and 2 corpses were dumped in the streets (both men had been shot to death).

    But today's real trend story appears to be theft (though one or two more kidnappings today could change that -- especially after ten relatives of Anbar politicians were kidnapped today).


    Iraq Times reports late yesterday, cars with no license plates but containing several masked individuals forced a car in Basra to a stop and stole at least 60 million dinars -- money that was supposed to pay the salaries of an oil drilling company.  Meanwhile, Alsumaria notes police are telling the press of an even bigger haul.  An employee of one of the Iraqi banks has disappeared after embezzling 40 billion dinars.  Alsumaria also notes that over 100 million dinars were stolen from a Baghdad pharmacist today by an armed militia.


    The following community sites updated:




  • The e-mail address for this site is common_ills@yahoo.com.




    Posted at 07:37 pm by thecommonills
     

    Thursday, November 20, 2014
    Iraq snapshot

    Iraq snapshot

    Thursday, November 20, 2014.  Chaos and violence continue, the Kurdish government is too eager to please the US government, VA officials attended a Senate hearing on veteran suicides without even bothering to brush up on basic figures (figures they should already know to perform their jobs), and much more.


    AFP notes, "A suicide bomber driving a car packed with explosives blew himself up in the capital of Iraq’s Kurdistan region on Wednesday, killing at least five people in the first big attack there in more than a year."

    While Baghdad, the capital of central Iraq, and surrounding areas have been plagued with violence, the same has not been true of northern Iraq and the provinces making up the semi-autonomous Kurdish Regional Governments and especially not true of the city of Erbil.

    The attack in the KRG capital on Wednesday should have caused some soul searching on the part of the government.


    The Peshmerga are an elite Kurdish fighting force that's done a strong job protecting the KRG.

    The attack yesterday should make the KRG re-evaluate the decision to send the KRG here, there, everywhere outside the KRG.

    The attack should have the KRG questioning the decision to send the Peshmerga to Kobani.

    Not only is that not a city bordering the KRG, it's not even in Iraq.

    Why is the Peshmerga being deployed to Syria, to an area bordering Turkey?

    This started at the beginning of the month.

    The Peshmerga should be used to protect the KRG and any areas that immediately border the KRG.

    Kobani is a Syrian border town -- it borders Turkey.  It's not even remotely near a Kurdish border.

    Seems the Kurdish government's a little too eager to assist the US -- so much so that it's leaving their own region in danger.

    Maybe it's the hope that, yet again, if they just try a little harder, the US will be a loyal partner?

    That pathetic need has never accomplished anything for the Kurds.

    And this week, they've been slamming the US government for not supplying them with weapons.

    Press TV reports:

    Iraq’s Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) has blamed the West for failing to meet its promises about arming Kurdish fighters with sophisticated weaponry, Press TV reports.
    KRG Masoud Barzani President criticized the West and the US-led coalition fighting the Takfiri ISIL group for not providing Kurdish Peshmerga forces with heavy weapons to help them counter the ISIL.


    There has been an effort from some member of the US Congress to send arms to the Kurds.  Julian Pecquet (Al-Monitor) reports:


    Foreign Affairs Chairman Ed Royce, R-Calif., and ranking member Eliot Engel, D-N.Y., introduced temporary legislation to arm the Peshmerga forces in their fight against the Islamic State (IS). Doing so would mark a reversal of current US policy, which has sought to reinforce the central government in a bid to stop the country from splintering along ethnic and sectarian lines.
    "We thought a long time ago that our appeals to Baghdad to do the right thing would be heard and [former Prime Minister Nouri al-] Maliki's government turned a deaf ear month after month. We've reached the point where we have allies to our cause of defeating [IS] fighting in the field, without adequate equipment, and we are determined to see that they obtain it," Royce told Al-Monitor. "We want the weapons in the hands of the Peshmerga that are on the front line, now."
    The bill comes in the wake of an international public relations push by the Kurdish Regional Government (KRG). Top Kurdish officials — including Minister Falah Mustafa Bakir, Head of the Department of Foreign Relations, and presidential Chief of Staff Fuad Hussein — were in Washington this week handing out a list of demands to lawmakers and administration officials, while President Massoud Barzani berated western powers for not providing his forces enough weapons during an interview on French television Nov. 19.

     


    They've gotten no weapons from the US.  All Iraq News notes the US government did issue a statement condemning the bombing, as did the United Nations and the United Kingdom.

    None of those statements will provide protection to the KRG.

    And there was one more important statement issued.

    India TV reports the Islamic State issued a statement claiming credit for the bombing in Erbil -- claiming credit for the bombing All Iraq News notes is the worst Erbil's seen "since September 29, 2013." Mitchell Prothero (McClatchy Newspapers) adds, "The city has remained largely untouched by Iraq’s violence, even after the Islamic State seized nearby Mosul in June and pushed the front lines to within about 30 miles. Kurdish security officials, however, have feared a campaign of terror, noting that hundreds of thousands of refugees have pressed into Kurdish areas from regions now dominated by the Islamic State."



    The issue of arming the Kurds was raised in today's State Dept press briefing moderated by spokesperson Jeff Rathke:


    QUESTION: Okay. Last night, I ran into the chief of staff of the Kurdistan president’s – Barzani, he’s the chief of staff of Barzani. And he talks about perhaps 100,000 – upward of 100,000 ISIL members in Iraq and Syria. Do you have any comment on that?


    MR. RATHKE: I don’t have any update on numbers that --


    QUESTION: Okay.


    MR. RATHKE: We’ve spoken to numbers in the past --


    QUESTION: Right.


    MR. RATHKE: -- and the general estimates, but I don’t have an updated number to share.


    QUESTION: Do you think these kind of figures that are staggering, I mean, would they, let’s say, influence U.S. policy in terms of having boots on the ground or having forces on the ground, at least in Iraq or in the near future?


    MR. RATHKE: Well, again, I’m not going to comment on that particular number. I’m just not familiar with it. And I think also, the President and the entire Administration have been quite clear about our policy with respect to troops in combat roles.


    QUESTION: Okay. I mean – okay. In view of the additions that took place last week – we’re talking about maybe an additional 1,500 whatever, advisors, military advisors and so on, and perhaps a discussion, as was done with General Dempsey last week, there is an indication that these forces might be involved in combat. Is there a likelihood that these forces might be involved in combat, if not directly, in an advisory kind of capacity?


    MR. RATHKE: Again, I think the President has spoken to this quite clearly in just recent days. I don’t have anything to add to his words. There’s – we do not envision U.S. forces in combat roles.


    QUESTION: Now, also, there are reports that the Iraqi forces, with American advisors, are getting ready to recapture Heet. It’s a town, a township called Heet or a city that’s called Heet. Do you have any comment on that?


    MR. RATHKE: I don’t have a specific comment on that particular location. I did comment at the start about the success of Iraqi forces in breaking the siege at Baiji refinery, but I don’t have operational comments on every particular location.
    Anything staying – wait, staying with Iraq?


    QUESTION: Yeah.


    MR. RATHKE: Okay. Go ahead.


    QUESTION: Chairman Royce today introduced legislation that would provide the President with authority to give arms directly to the Kurds. Do you have any comment or reaction on that?


    MR. RATHKE: I’m not familiar with the legislation that you have referred to, so I don’t want to comment on that. But we have spoken on several occasions about the matter of arms for Kurdish security forces and overall to the Iraqi Security Forces. Our position on that hasn’t changed. We continue to be supporters of Iraq’s Security Forces, of the Kurdish security forces as well.
    And it’s our understanding that there was some discussion yesterday, which you may recall, about whether there were delays in shipments. I’d just like to point out, to kind of close that loop from yesterday, that the Government of Iraq has cleared and inspected incoming aircraft carrying weapons deliveries, but we are not aware that it has constrained or delayed the emergency supply of weapons to the Kurdistan Regional Government. That was a point made or a question raised yesterday.
    And as well, the Government of Iraq itself has delivered over 300 tons of supplies in Iraqi air force aircraft to the KRG. We are committed to helping the Iraqi Security Forces and the Kurdish security forces. Also, many of our coalition partners have been very supportive of Iraqi Kurdish forces. So we plan to continue that kind of support going forward.

    QUESTION: Okay. So I guess the question is: Are you happy with the way things are currently going, with the current state of affairs, and thus do you not see any need for a change, any need for what’s contained in this legislation as a general proposition?


    MR. RATHKE: Well, it remains the U.S. Government policy that all arms transfers should be coordinated through the sovereign, central Government of Iraq. We have no plans that I’m aware of to change that.


    QUESTION: Yeah, but the legislation calls for direct supplies to the Kurds without the --


    MR. RATHKE: I understand that question, but again, I’m not familiar with that legislation, so I don’t want to comment on it. But I simply want to indicate that our policy remains the same. Now, are we happy with the overall situation in Iraq? Of course not. That’s why we are leading a global coalition to disrupt and defeat ISIL. But that’s – we are very supportive of Iraqi and Kurdish security forces in that effort.


    So  that was -- Uh, wait.  What was that about Heet?

    QUESTION: Now, also, there are reports that the Iraqi forces, with American advisors, are getting ready to recapture Heet. It’s a town, a township called Heet or a city that’s called Heet. Do you have any comment on that?


    MR. RATHKE: I don’t have a specific comment on that particular location. I did comment at the start about the success of Iraqi forces in breaking the siege at Baiji refinery, but I don’t have operational comments on every particular location.
    Anything staying – wait, staying with Iraq?


    Earlier today Iraqi Spring MC shared this on Tweet:







    : اغتنام نحو (15) عجلة نوع همر تركتها القوات الحكومية بعد هروبها من معارك منطقة الدولاب في قضاء هيت .
    0 replies32 retweets20 favorites





    That's the Islamic State taking over the vehicles of Iraqi forces -- after Iraqi forces fled Heet to avoid combat with the Islamic State.  They fled, leaving behind 15 Hummers.



    So much for the US government's propaganda effort -- amplified by the US press -- insisting the Islamic State is on the run.

    As that propaganda effort falls apart, Johnlee Varghese (IBT) reports:

    The US-led coalition against the ISIS seems to be crumbling as there have been reports on social media that several "Saudi pilots" have allegedly refused to fly missions to bomb ISIS targets.
    The report, which was confirmed by an Iraqi journalist and political analyst, is bound to have severe repercussions not only on the coalition, but it may also spread the seeds of rebellion among other branches of the Saudi armed forces.


    Violence continued throughout Iraq today.  Margaret Griffis (Antiwar.com) reports, "At least 142 people were killed across Iraq, and another six were wounded. Almost all the casualties belonged to militants; however, there is a report that several children died from exposure after being forced to flee their homes in Anbar province."


    Let's move over to the US Congress.  David Swanson Tweets:



  • Details
  • " data-item-id="535642817557979137" data-name="CatoTheYounger" data-screen-name="catoletters" data-tweet-id="535642817557979137" data-user-id="15063486" data-you-block="false" data-you-follow="false">


  • " data-has-cards="true" data-item-id="535640959447752704" data-name="David Swanson" data-screen-name="davidcnswanson" data-tweet-id="535640959447752704" data-user-id="19884044" data-you-block="false" data-you-follow="false">
    Iraq War III's "opponents" in Congress are fine with it lasting a few years or more







    In other news, Katherine Skiba (Chicago Tribune) reports US House Rep Tammy Duckworth gave birth this week to a baby girl Abigail O'kalani Bowlsbey.  Duckworth was in the news last week and this week because House Democrats voted on various leadership positions this week and Tammy had requested to vote by proxy because she was unable to fly to DC per doctor's orders.

    That didn't matter for House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi who led the "no" against Tammy's request.  Tammy Duckworth is also an Iraq War veteran who lost both legs while serving in Iraq.  That didn't matter to Nancy either.

    Craven liar and plastic surgery victim Nancy Pelosi went on to Tweet this crap:





    No, the picture doesn't reflect the nation's diversity.


    Our nation has many returning veterans from the Iraq and Afghanistan wars -- where are they in the photo?

    They're not there.

    And this week, the liar Nancy used weasel nonsense to weasel out of supporting veterans.


    US House Rep Tim Walz was running to be Ranking Member of the House Veterans Affairs Committee.

    He had the support of veterans groups and he himself had over 20 years in the Army National Guard.

    He was clearly qualified.

    Nancy Pelosi's pet US House Rep Corrine Brown is clearly not qualified.

    To ensure that the deeply ignorant Brown get the post, Nancy and her cronies insisted Tim Walz did not serve on the House Veterans Affairs Committee.

    Huh?

    Well, he had a waiver.  You can only serve on two Committees.  Tim served on the House Veterans Affairs Committee under a waiver.


    Because he served under a waiver, Nance and her goons argued, Tim didn't serve.

    No, that's not how it's supposed to work.

    But that is how whorish and crooked and unethical Nancy Pelosi is.

    She Tweeted the following earlier this month:




    As she proved by spitting on Tammy Duckwork and Tim Walz and on the publicly expressed wishes of veterans groups, her so-called claims to "salute" those who served are nothing but more lies from Nancy's mouth.

    She's an embarrassment to the country and she's lethal to the Democratic Party.

    Her disrespect of veterans will not be forgotten but will be her legacy, what the elderly woman will be remembered for.


    The House Veterans Affairs Committee needs real leadership.

    The VA has had one scandal after another in the last six years.

    When Corrine Brown managed to haul herself to a HVAC hearing, she didn't serve veterans.  She made excuses for the VA, she offered non-stop praise for the VA, she went out of her way to blame the VA's problems and scandals on veterans.

    And now this idiot -- thanks to Nancy Pelosi -- is a vote away from being the Democratic leader on the House Veterans Affairs Committee.


    If you don't get what liars the VA officials are, let's drop back to yesterday's Senate Veterans Affairs Committee hearing.

    The first panel was the VA's Dr. Harold Kudler (Chief Consultant for Mental Health Service), Dr. Caitlin Thompson (Deputy Director, Suicide Prevention) and Dr. Dean Krahn (Deputy Director in the Office of Mental Health Operations).

    The topic was veterans suicides.

    This topic wasn't a surprise.

    This wasn't the Senate's attempt to spring a pop quiz on the VA.

    The topic was announced.

    The witnesses knew what it was.

    They offered written statements ahead of the hearing.

    Remember that as we go through this exchange.



    Senator Richard Blumenthal:  I want to pursue the line of questioning that Senator Johans began because I think it is absolutely critical. I've held meetings around my state with veterans. Some of them have occurred at what are called oasis which are basically college and school based centers. They're not medical, they're just meeting rooms.  They are literally a room where veterans can come together and call that place their own.  And they put up their posters, they have a coffee machine, they have doughnuts and they just come together "without medication" -- in quotes.  I met with a group just a week or so ago and they talked to me about -- in very graphic, moving terms -- about what it meant just to be with each other.  So I know that peer support specialists are part of this program.  With all due respect to the peer support specialist, I would respectfully suggest that this kind of resource may not always require a trained specialist but may just require a veteran -- and I have in mind the kind of veteran who got involved in part because I reached out to him at the suggestion of another veteran -- just made a call to him out of the blue.  And he came to one of these meetings.  So I don't think it involves necessarily a doctor, a nurse, a medical person but just a veteran who is empowered and enabled to perform this function.  So I don't want to use too much of my time with a statement about the importance of this topic but I would like to know -- and maybe you could provide this in writing -- specifically what the current peer support program embodies and how it could be expanded to fund meeting rooms on state campuses -- state schools which already which already should be a part of this program, private colleges and universities.  But then beyond the college or school setting, in communities, how that outreach function could be expanded and I -- I know this is a topic you are thinking about so I would appreciate your expanding on the testimony that you've given already.  I do want to ask you about your testimony because I do think that there are some very important questions about the age group that you don't cover.  We're talking about middle aged veterans which, as I understand it, are the 35 to 64-year-old group?  And in that group, rates of suicide have come down by 16% for those adults who use VHS services.  In the population as a whole, the rates have remained stable.  Correct?

    Dr. Dean Krahn:  [witness off mike]

    Senator Richard Blumenthal:  Well they've gone up for the -- Exactly, they've gone up from 35.5 to 37.5 percent. Right?  So the rates are coming down for middle aged adults who use VA services.  Rates have gone up a little bit for the overall group.  But they seem fairly stable -- 35 to 37%

    Dr. Dean Krahn:  Uh -- authenticate the time with numbers -- uh, yeah, go ahead.

    Senator Richard Blumenthal:   Well here's where I'm going, what that says to me is that among other age groups, suicide rates have risen dramatically for veterans who use your services. 

    Dr. Dean Krahn:  Yes.

    Senator Richard Blumenthal:  Not just women but men.

    Dr. Dean Krahn:  Yes.

    Senator Richard Blumenthal:  Can you tell me how much they've risen, for example, for -- and this is, so far as I can see, no where in your testimony for the age group 18 to 25 for 20 to 29, for the younger population of veterans because after all most of the veterans who are leaving the service right now are in that younger age group, right?  So what's the rate there 

    Dr. Caitlin Thompson:  Yeah, we are -- we are extremely concerned about this population --

    Senator Richard Blumenthal:  Yes, I know you're concerned but --

    Dr. Caitlin Thompson:  I don't have the actual -- I believe it's up to 70 -- uh -- and this is, uh, over time.  The rates -- uh . . . I'd have to find the exact number.

    Senator Richard Blumenthal:  I think that is a -- I think that is the elephant in the room.


    Dr. Caitlin Thompson:   Is . . what's . . .

    Senator Richard Blumenthal:  The elephant in this room.   That younger group.  You're giving us middle aged veterans 

    Dr. Caitlin Thompson:  No --

    Senator Richard Blumenthal:  -- who use your services .

    Dr. Caitlin Thompson:  We do -- I mean, we certainly do acknowledge that that rate is increasing and so what-what are we doing about this?  We need to provide and we are providing very, very specific outreach to those youngest veterans that --

    Senator Richard Blumenthal:  Well we're talking about more than just outreach with all due respect.  We're talking about -- and this is the really critical point here -- we're talking about a group here that uses your services.

    Dr. Caitlin Thompson:  Absolutely.

    Senator Richard Blumenthal:  We've reached out to them.

    Dr. Caitlin Thompson:  Yep.

    Senator Richard Blumenthal:  They're in your doors, they're using your services -- 

    Dr. Caitlin Thompson: Yep.

    Senator Richard Blumenthal:  And they're committing suicide at a higher rate.

    Dr. Caitlin Thompson:  Yes.  So we're -- Yes.  We're trying to understand why is this?  We are -- We are at a loss as much -- as much as a lot of people are.  We --



    Senator Richard Blumenthal: This is -- with all of the publicity surrounding wait time, people dying -- are they dying because of the wait time, are they not?  People are dying at a higher rate --

    Dr. Caitlin Thompson:  Yes.

    Senator Richard Blumenthal:  -- who use your services.


    Dr. Caitlin Thompson:  Yes.  Yes, in this youngest age group.  Aboslutely.  We are very, very focused on this.

    Senator Richard Blumenthal:  I don't know what more to say because my time has expired.  I apologize Mr. Chairman --

    Dr. Caitlin Thompson:  We hear you.

    Senator Richard Blumenthal:  -- but,--  okay, thank you. 



    They came to talk about suicides but they didn't have the basic figures?

    I don't believe "we hear you" from the VA.

    Not when the officials can't -- or more likely won't -- provide answers to basic questions like the suicide rate for young veterans.

    This was such a basic detail that if the VA officials really didn't have that figure handy at the hearing, that may be an even more damning example of how unprepared the VA is and how little thought and effort they put into addressing issues.

    Her job, Caitlin Thompson's job, is to know that figure.

    Forget that she should have prepared for the hearing by having that and other figures handy.

    Doing her day-to-day job requires her to know that figure.  Her failure to do so goes to her failure at the job.

    Senator Blumenthal questioned the VA.

    Corrine Brown only compliments and sees her role as to excuse its actions and blame VA problems on veterans.

























    Posted at 11:11 pm by thecommonills
     

    Mom of Marine Lost to Suicide Calls On Congress to Pass Critical Legislation (IAVA)

    Mom of Marine Lost to Suicide Calls On Congress to Pass Critical Legislation (IAVA)

    Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America issued the following Wednesday:



    Washington D.C. (November 19, 2014) – This afternoon before the Senate Veterans’ Affairs Committee (SVAC), Susan Selke, mother of Clay Hunt, a Marine veteran who died by suicide in 2011, urged Congress to take swift action in passing the Clay Hunt Suicide Prevention Bill of 2014. The bill (S.2930), introduced Monday and spearheaded by IAVA, is sponsored by Senators John McCain (R-Ariz.), Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.), Richard Burr (R-N.C.), Roy Blunt (R-Mo.), Lisa Murkowski (R-Ala.) and Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.).


    Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America (IAVA) calls on Congress for urgent passage of the bill before the end of the year. IAVA members attended the SVAC hearing and held 22 flags – to represent the 22 veterans who die by suicide each day – as attendees entered the room.


    “Not one more veteran should have to go through what Clay went through with the VA after returning home from war. Not one more parent should have to testify before a congressional committee to compel the VA to fulfill its responsibilities to those who served and sacrificed,” said Selke during her testimony. “The reforms, evaluations, and programs directed by this legislation will be critical to helping the VA better serve and treat veterans suffering from mental injuries from war. Had the VA been doing these things all along, it very well may have saved Clay’s life. We know that time is short in this Congress, but we hope that Majority Leader Reid will prioritize getting this done for our veterans before you all leave for the holidays.”


    Learn more about Clay’s story and the Clay Hunt Suicide Prevention bill here. You can read Susan Selke’s testimony here. Valerie Pallotta, mother of Joshua Pallotta, Vermont National Guard combat veteran who died by suicide in September, also joined Susan Selke at the hearing.


    According to IAVA’s 2014 Member Survey, 47 percent of respondents know at least one Iraq or Afghanistan veteran who has attempted suicide, while 40 percent of respondents know someone who has died by suicide, up three points from 2013.


    “Holding hearings is great, but veterans and their families need comprehensive support – they need mental health care resources now. A week after Veterans Day when lawmakers rallied around the veterans community, we are holding them accountable,” said IAVA CEO and Founder Paul Rieckhoff. “IAVA urges members of Congress to step up and pass the Clay Hunt Suicide Prevention Bill before the end of the year. We call on Majority Leader Reid and Speaker Boehner to get together and bring this to the floor for a vote now. It’s long past time to put our veterans above partisan politics. Combating suicide is not just an issue that the veterans community should be concerned about. Mental health care for veterans concerns all Americans, especially as our country continues to send troops to the Middle East. Twenty-two veterans die by suicide each day. Veterans need immediate passage now.”


    IAVA urges supporters to visit iava.org and click take action to sign the petition to support the Clay Hunt Suicide Prevention bill. To date, more than 44,000 people have signed the petition.
    IAVA connects veterans to mental health services, including partnering with the VA’s Veterans Crisis Line to ensure that every servicemember, veteran, family member and provider knows that there is free and confidential help available 24 hours a day through phone, text and online. Veterans, or those concerned about veterans, can call 800-273-8255 and press 1 to be directly connected to qualified responders.




    Note to media: Email press@iava.org or call 212-982-9699 to speak with IAVA CEO and Founder Paul Rieckhoff or IAVA leadership.


    Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America (www.IAVA.org) is the nation's first and largest nonpartisan, nonprofit organization representing veterans of Iraq and Afghanistan and has nearly 300,000 Member Veterans and civilian supporters nationwide. Celebrating its 10th year anniversary, IAVA recently received the highest rating - four-stars - from Charity Navigator, America's largest charity evaluator.






    Posted at 11:10 pm by thecommonills
     

    VETERANS—MENTAL HEALTH: Murray Concerned That VA and Local Communities Unprepared to Help Veterans in Crisis

    VETERANS—MENTAL HEALTH: Murray Concerned That VA and Local Communities Unprepared to Help Veterans in Crisis

    Senator Patty Murray


    Senator Patty Murray is the Chair of the Senate Budget Committee and serves on the Senate Veterans Affairs Committee (which she formerly Chaired).  Her office issued the following:





    FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE                                      CONTACT: Murray Press Office
    Wednesday, November 19, 2014                                                        (202) 224-2834
    VETERANS—MENTAL HEALTH: Murray Concerned That VA and Local Communities Unprepared to Help Veterans in Crisis
     
     
    (Washington, D.C.) – Today, U.S. Senator Patty Murray, a senior member of the Senate Veterans’ Affairs Committee, attended a hearing to examine mental health and suicide among veterans. According to recent data, suicide rates have continued to increase among female veterans who use VA care and among male veterans ages 18-24 who use VA, the rate has skyrocketed to 79 per 100,000.
    “There is no issue as pressing as providing quality, timely mental health care and suicide prevention programs to our nation’s heroes. The problem is familiar to all of us, but the solutions still seem elusive,” Senator Murray said at the hearing. “Just one suicide, just one veteran in crisis, or just one family struggling to make it through is just one too much.”
     
    Senator Murray’s full remarks as prepared:
    “Thank you, Mr. Chairman, for holding this hearing today. There is no issue as pressing as providing quality, timely mental health care and suicide prevention programs to our nation’s heroes. The problem is familiar to all of us, but the solutions still seem elusive.
     
    “Twenty-two veterans per day die by suicide. Rates have continued to increase among female veterans who use VA care. Among male veterans age 18 to 24 who use VA, the rate has skyrocketed to 79 per 100,000. And finally, according to VA’s access data, wait times for new mental health patients are virtually unchanged -- at 36 days -- over the five months that VA has provided this data.
     
    “Mr. Chairman, I am very concerned about whether VA and local communities are prepared with the resources, policies, and training to help veterans in serious crisis. When our men and women in uniform have the courage to come forward and ask for help, VA must be there with not only high quality and timely care, but also the right type of care to best meet the veteran’s needs. We must demand progress on each of these areas.
     
    “Mr. Chairman, a few months ago we passed a VA reform bill to help veterans get into care.  It included a temporary authority to improve access to community providers for veterans having trouble accessing VA care.  However, a recent report by the RAND Corporation raises serious concerns about whether private sector providers are ready to give high quality care to veterans. It suggests we need to do more to expand use of evidence-based treatments - and much more to help providers understand the unique needs and culture of servicemembers and veterans. The reform bill also included critically needed funds to build and strengthen the VA for the long-term. 
     
    “But there will be more needs going forward. VA must start planning and requesting the necessary resources now, so it will be prepared to meet the growing demand for mental health care far into the future. There is clearly much, much more work to be done. 
     
    “Just one suicide, just one veteran in crisis, or just one family struggling to make it through is just one too much. So I want to take a moment to thank Mrs. Selke, Mrs. Pallotta and Mr. and Mrs. Vanata for being here today. It’s incredibly difficult to talk about these issues. We admire your courage and your strength for being willing to share your stories with us.
     
    “Thank you, and your family, for your service and sacrifice to our nation.
     
    “Mr. Chairman, I hope as we head into a new Congress that stories like theirs will continue to be told as we work together to fulfill the promises we have made to those who have served. Thank you.”
    ###
    ---
    Meghan Roh
    Press Secretary
    Office of U.S. Senator Patty Murray
    Mobile: (202) 365-1235
    Office: (202) 224-2834











    Posted at 11:10 pm by thecommonills
     


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