Saturday, November 17, 2007

The Secret to a Long Life...

is knowing when it's time to go:
Soldiers strained by six years at war are deserting their posts at the highest rate since 1980, with the number of Army deserters this year showing an 80 percent increase since the United States invaded Iraq in 2003.


Friday, November 16, 2007

The War on Gay Continues

This incident is absolutely disgusting, and I hope Brown gets millions from these homophobic bigots:
A 47-year old gay man has filed a federal civil rights lawsuit against the Markham, Illinois Police Force alleging officers burst into his home, physically abused him and made repeated gay slurs against him.

Armed with a search warrant for drugs police smashed through the door of Frankie Brown's home in suburban Markham on May 31, handcuffed Brown to chair in the front doorway and in full view of neighbors, and continually berated him for being gay, the lawsuit claims.

Police also told neighbors that Brown is HIV-positive, something that Brown had wanted to keep quiet.

"All my neighbors were standing around," Brown told CBS News in Chicago. "They kept asking, 'why you all doin' him like this?"

The lawsuit alleges that police told neighbors that they needed to know who they were living next to.

As the search warrant was being executed police called Brown a number of homophobic names. When a teenage male nephew who lives with Brown and is Brown's legal ward, arrived at the home police accused Brown of having sex with the youth.

Brown sat handcuffed to the chair for more than two hours as police ransacked his home looking for drugs. No drugs were ever found and Brown has no prior record for drugs.

Still, according to the lawsuit, he was taken to jail and held for 17 hours even though no charges were ever laid.

"I’ll sleep better tonight knowing there is one less fag on the street," one police officer allegedly said as Brown was led away.

Neighbor Jeffrey Nowden who went to the front of Brown's home when he heard the commotion backs up Brown's allegations against the police.

"They was making all kinds of homosexual innuendoes and jokes about him," Nowden told CBS.

"They had a picture of his family up there and they were making all kind of remarks. It was just sad."


Unhappy 100th

Oh, lordy

Chanting "no justice, no peace," American Indians and their supporters marked the state's centennial Friday with a march on the state Capitol to denounce the events that led to Oklahoma's statehood.


Thousands of people streamed into Guthrie for the festivities, which included a re-enactment of a ceremonial wedding between Miss Indian Territory and Mr. Oklahoma Territory.

Back at the Capitol, Indian marchers carrying a banner that read "Why Celebrate 100 Years of Theft" said they are struggling to preserve their heritage.

John Momaday, a member of the Kiowa tribe and nephew of N. Scott Momaday, the state's centennial poet and a Pulitzer Prize-winning writer, said history books do not teach children about the injustices suffered by Indians following statehood.

"They need to know the truth about what went on," he said.



The United States once again displays its arrogance and amorality:

A confidential 2003 manual for operating the Guantánamo detention center shows that military officials had a policy of denying detainees access to independent monitors from the International Committee of the Red Cross.

The manual said one goal was to “exploit the disorientation and disorganization felt by a newly arrived detainee,” by denying access to the Koran and by preventing visits with Red Cross representatives, who have a long history of monitoring the conditions under which prisoners in international conflicts are held. The document said that even after their initial weeks at Guantánamo, some detainees would not be permitted to see representatives of the International Red Cross, known as the I.C.R.C.

It was permissible, the document said, for some long-term detainees to have “No access. No contact of any kind with the I.C.R.C.”

Some legal experts and advocates for detainees said yesterday that the policy might have violated international law, which provides for such monitoring to assure humanitarian treatment and to limit the ability of governments to hold detainees secretly.


Boom Time

Thanks to us, certain people in Afghanistan are getting very rich:
Profits from opium fuel the Taliban insurgency, the United Nations said on Friday, in a new call on NATO to tackle Afghanistan's burgeoning drugs trade.

The U.N. Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) said the total export value of Afghan opiates stood at about $4 billion, equivalent to more than half of the country's legitimate gross domestic product, confirming estimates it made in August.

Taliban insurgents, warlords and drug traffickers shared the bulk of that total, while farmers received about a quarter of the total with district officials taking a percentage through a levy on the crops.


Thursday, November 15, 2007

And the Nation Weeps

One can only hope that the door does in fact hit him on the way out of the House:
Rep. Dennis Hastert, R-Ill., has informed House GOP leadership he intends to resign this year, relinquishing the rest of his term, it was reported Wednesday.


Poor Kenny-Boy

Being Bush's buddy just doesn't pay (for some):

The government may go ahead with its bid to seize assets from Ken Lay's estate, a judge ruled Wednesday, denying a request from the Enron chairman's widow to stop the effort.

U.S. District Judge Ewing Werlein's ruling allows the government to seek nearly $13 million from Lay's estate, including the upscale condominium he and wife Linda Lay shared.

The judge wrote that prosecutors had provided "ample allegations" of criminal activity tied to the cash and property in question to pursue its case.


Hungry for Social Justice

Also, for food:
More than 35.5 million people in this country went hungry in 2006 as they struggled to find jobs that can support them, a figure that was virtually unchanged from the previous year, the Agriculture Department said Wednesday.

Single mothers and their children were among the most likely to suffer, according to the study.

The 35.5 million people represented more than 1 in 10, or 12.1 percent, who said they did not have enough money or resources to get food for at least some period during the year, according to the department's annual hunger survey. That is compared with 35.1 million people who made similar claims in 2005.

"This is encouraging, but we know we have more work to do," said Kate Houston, USDA's deputy undersecretary for food, nutrition and consumer services. She said the numbers aren't much different from 2005, which saw a decline after five straight years of increases.



Wednesday, November 14, 2007

A New Record!

Um, hooray?
More than 1 million cases of chlamydia were reported in the United States last year — the most ever reported for a sexually transmitted disease, federal health officials said Tuesday.

"A new U.S. record," said Dr. John M. Douglas Jr. of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

More bad news: Gonorrhea rates are jumping again after hitting a record low, and an increasing number of cases are caused by a "superbug" version resistant to common antibiotics, federal officials said Tuesday.

Syphilis is rising, too. The rate of congenital syphilis — which can deform or kill babies — rose for the first time in 15 years.

Clearly, Bush's sex education policies are working like a dream.


Monday, November 12, 2007

Army in Denial

Well done, Congress.

Meanwhile, the Army denies any connection between combat and PTSD? You've gotta be kidding me:

On November 6, the Joshua Omvig Suicide Prevention Bill became law. The bill was named for a 22-year-old Iowa reservist who took his own life eleven months after coming home from Iraq. Though Josh is one of hundreds of combat veteran suicides since the wars began in 2001, it is his name that has become symbolic of the campaign to get the military to take the mental health of America's vets seriously.

With the exception of the unspeakable images of Abu Ghraib, which were e-mailed home by soldiers themselves, for six years Americans have been effectively insulated from the human cost of our wars. This insulation is not an accident; it is policy. Images from the Vietnam years, like the naked child trying to outrun her own burning skin, or the anguished women and children waiting their turn to be executed at My Lai, were catalysts that helped turn public opinion against that war. This time, the government wanted to ensure that would not happen. On the eve of the invasion of Iraq in 2003, the Pentagon issued a directive to the media forbidding any coverage of returning American coffins. No coffins, no funerals, no wounds, no tears. No empathy.

Randy and Ellen Omvig's success in drawing long overdue attention to the issue of veteran suicide in an environment that has dismissed or derailed other worthy causes, can be explained, I believe, by their insistence on going public with the most intimate details of their tragedy. They complicated and humanized a debate that has been stalled for decades in a morass of misinformation, disinformation and other evasion tactics.

They described how his tour in Iraq had changed him, how he suffered all of the symptoms they now recognize as classic PTSD: the nightmares, the shaking, the dark moods and consuming fears. They admitted that they had failed to convince him to go for counseling, accepting his argument that the stigma would wreck his career plans. And then came the morning when Ellen discovered him locked in his pick up truck. He had a gun. As she tried frantically to reason with him, he put the gun to his head and pulled the trigger. It's a horrific image: she, banging on the window, terrified, pleading, while, on the other side of the glass, her son tells her he will always love her, but that now she must leave. "Go!" he says, and when she refuses, he raises his gun, angles his head so the bullet will not hit her, and fires. She was powerless to stop anything, the hand, the gun, the bullet, the blood. There must have been a lot of blood.

In spite of a suicide rate among solders that has now reached a 26-year record high, and contradicting the evidence of their own increasingly ominous studies, the Army continues to insist that they have yet to find a connection between combat stress injuries (PTSD) and suicide.


You've Come a Long Way, Bushie

It's sad that he forgot his own opinion:
Sig Christenson, a founding member of Military Reporters and Editors who has worked five assignments in Iraq since the war began, reached back some 10 years for a Veteran's Day piece that noted President George Bush's early opposition to an Iraq invasion.

Christenson, who covers the military for the San Antonio (Tex.) Express-News, penned the piece for Sunday's paper that cited Bush's comments on Veteran's Day 1997 as governor of Texas. He pointed to Bush's defense of his father's decision during the Gulf War not to remove Saddam Hussein.

"There are a lot of Americans (who say), 'Why didn't you go get him?'" Bush told the Express-News back in 1997, according to Christenson. "Well, I'm confident that losing men and women as a result of sniper fire inside of Baghdad would have turned the tide of public opinion very quickly," Bush added.

Bush said efforts to ferret out Saddam from his many Baghdad hideouts would have transformed the battle from a desert conflict to an unpopular "guerrilla war," Chistenson recalled.