Wednesday, February 28, 2007

Punishing The Wounded!!!

This was in today's Progress Report ... there are bastards everywhere in this administration!!!:

“Soldiers at Walter Reed Army Medical Center’s Medical Hold Unit say they have been told they will wake up at 6 a.m. every morning and have their rooms ready for inspection at 7 a.m., and that they must not speak to the media,” the Army Times reports. Soldiers said an official told them “they must follow their chain of command when asking for help with their medical evaluation paperwork, or when they spot mold, mice or other problems in their quarters.”

Tuesday, February 27, 2007

Bush does NOT support the troops!!!

Hundreds of Iraq Vets Are Homeless
Hundreds of U.S. soldiers returning from Iraq and Afghanistan are ending up homeless. How could this happen?
By Sarah Childress
Updated: 11:41 a.m. PT Feb 24, 2007

Feb. 24, 2007 - Kevin Felty came back from Iraq in 2003 with nowhere to stay, and not enough money to rent an apartment. He and his wife of four years moved in with his sister in Florida, but the couple quickly overstayed their welcome. Jobless and wrestling with what he later learned was posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD), Felty suddenly found himself scrambling to find a place for himself and his wife, who was six-months pregnant. They found their way to a shelter for homeless veterans, which supported his wife during her pregnancy and helped Felty get counseling and find a job. A year later, he's finally thinking his future. "I don't want to say this is exactly where I want to be—it's really not," he says. "But it's what I can get at the moment."

Young, alienated and often living on their own for the first time, Iraq and Afghanistan veterans increasingly are coming home to find that they don't have one. Already, nearly 200,000 veterans—many from the Vietnam War—sleep on the streets every night, according to the Department of Veterans Affairs. But young warriors just back from the Mideast—estimated around 500 to 1,000—are beginning to struggle with homelessness too. Drinking or using drugs to cope with PTSD, they can lose their job and the support of family and friends, and start a downward spiral to the streets. Their tough military mentality can make them less likely to seek help. Advocates say it can take five to eight years for a veteran to exhaust their financial resources and housing options, so they expect the number to rise exponentially in a few years. "Rather than wait for the tsunami, we should be doing something now," says Cheryl Beversdorf, president of the National Coalition for Homeless Veterans.

The problem is mainly a lack of resources, advocates say. There are only about 15,000 beds available in VA-funded shelters or hospitals nationwide, and nearly every one is taken. In some smaller cities there simply aren't many places for a homeless veteran to go. And as affordable housing units shrink nationwide, veterans living on a disability check of, say, $700 a month, (which means a 50-percent disability rating from the VA), are hard-pressed to find a place to live. Most shelters require veterans to participate in a rehabilitation program, but a "fair amount" of veterans just go back to the streets once they leave, says Ed Quill, director of external affairs at Volunteers of America, the nonprofit housing group for veterans that helped Felty.

The VA says it's making a concerted effort to reach out to vets before they hit bottom, says Pete Dougherty, the VA's coordinator for homeless programs. Intake counselors are trained to ask questions, especially of newer veterans, to seek out mental health or other problems that could lead to homelessness. "We're much more sensitive than we were 40 years ago for signs of problems," he says. And they have expanded some services. Last week, the VA approved $24 million to boost aid for the homeless, which will allow them to add about 1,000 more beds and increase the number of grants to help the growing population of homeless women veterans and those with mental illnesses.

Much of the work with new veterans is being done one soldier at a time. At New Directions in Los Angeles, a center that rehabilitates homeless veterans, Anthony Belcher, a formerly homeless Vietnam vet who now works at the center, looks out for one particular Iraq veteran who shows up at the center about once a month, filthy, drugged out and tortured by PTSD. "He's a baby," Belcher says. "You can see it in his eyes." So far, the young vet is too wary to accept more than a night's bed or a hot meal. But as Belcher says, at least he has a place to go. That's more than many of the thousands of vets on America’s streets can say tonight.


GO AL!!!

From today's Progress Report:

Action Rewarded

On Sunday, Vice President Al Gore's global warming film An Inconvenient Truth won two Academy Awards, including Best Documentary Feature (watch a video montage of Gore at the Oscars). Just as conservative critics blasted the Grammy-winning Dixie Chicks, many are claiming that An Inconvenient Truth was honored simply because Hollywood agrees with Gore’s views. The truth is, two years ago, global warming was still considered a fringe issue to many. Today, the debate is over -- Americans overwhelmingly agree that the climate crisis exists and that we must act now to reverse it. An Inconvenient Truth had a profound impact on how Americans view the issue of global warming. Al Gore deserved this award. Now, he's set to launch "a series of worldwide concerts to focus on the threat of climate change, with a powerhouse lineup from the Red Hot Chili Peppers to Snoop Dogg to Bon Jovi.” The 24-hour event on 7/07/07 is part of a campaign called Save Our Selves (SOS) -- The Campaign for a Climate in Crisis. “In order to solve the climate crisis, we have to reach billions of people,” Gore said today. “The climate crisis will only be stopped by an unprecedented and sustained global movement.” (For more, check out our blog dedicated to global warming, Climate Progress.)

ATTACKING GORE: The right wing is angry that Gore has won so much public attention and goodwill for his work on global warming. Determined to smear his efforts, influential Internet gossip Matt Drudge yesterday published details of Gore's electricity bills under the screaming headline: "Gore Mansion Uses 20x Average Household; Consumption Increase After 'Truth.'" (Drudge's attack comes two weeks after Fox News host Sean Hannity accused Gore of hypocrisy for taking a private jet to President Clinton's State of the Union in 2000, and a year after "a seemingly amateurish Youtube video mocking the 'An Inconvenient Truth' turned out to have been produced by slick...public relations firm called DCI, which just happens to have oil giant Exxon as a client.") Gore rebutted Drudge's recent attack, pointing out 1) that his family has taken numerous steps to reduce the carbon footprint of their private residence, including signing up for 100 percent green power through Green Power Switch, installing solar panels, and using compact fluorescent bulbs and other energy saving technology; and 2) Gore has consistently purchased carbon offsets to make up the family’s carbon footprint -- a concept the right-wing fails to understand. (Calculate your own carbon footprint.) These are the lengths that climate skeptics must go to suppress action on global warming. There is no meaningful debate within the scientific community, so the right-wing busies itself with talk about Gore’s electricity bill -- and even then it distorts the truth.

ACTION SPURS PROGRESS: While Gore continues to lead a shift in the public debate, the new leaders of the 110th Congress are leading a legislative shift on climate issues. Capitol Hill will see more than a dozen briefings on issues that impact global warming this week alone, and this kind of action is producing results. The Wall Street Journal reports today, "Seeking to shape legislation before Congress, three major energy trade associations [which include Edison Electric Institute and the American Gas Association] have shifted their stances and decided to back mandatory federal curbs on carbon dioxide and other man-made emissions that could accelerate climate change." This news -- yet another sign that corporate America is changing course on climate policy -- "underscores [the] belief that Congress is in a mood to pass some form of mandatory emissions controls, perhaps before the next election in 2008." Meanwhile, the states are taking action where the Bush administration has proved impotent. "Five Western U.S. states have formed the latest regional pact to bypass the Bush administration to cut emissions linked to global warming through market mechanisms," it was announced yesterday. "The Western Regional Climate Action Initiative requires Oregon, California, Washington, New Mexico and Arizona to develop a regional target in six months for reducing greenhouse emissions" through a market-based plan, such as a load-based cap-and-trade program. Several eastern U.S. states have signed a similar agreement called the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative.

THREADING THE ANTI-SCIENCE NEEDLE: At this point, most global warming deniers have tipped into hysteria -- blaming climate change on dinosaur flatulence, a secret plot by socialists, or Satan. Others -- namely, Vice President Dick Cheney -- are taking a more subtle approach. The White House released an "open letter" this month stating that President Bush has "consistently" acknowledged "humans are contributing" to global warming. But as science writer Chris Mooney points out, it "depends on what the meaning of 'contributing' is." Last week, Cheney unveiled a new effort the thread the needle on climate change science, saying that while "we’re in a period of warming," there "does not appear to be a consensus, where it begins to break down, is the extent to which that’s part of a normal cycle versus the extent to which it’s caused by man, greenhouse gases, et cetera." In other words, humans may have some impact on warming, but that impact may be minor. Cheney added later in the interview, “I don’t know. I’m not a scientist." No kidding. Real scientists -- like those who produced the gold-standard Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) report -- state that the climate crisis is caused primarily by human activities. [More at] Even the White House's Office on Science and Technology acknowledged in a statement this month, "human activities have very likely caused most of the warming of the last 50 years."

Sunday, February 25, 2007

They Don't Believe in the "Noble Cause"!!!

This is a good article from BuzzFlash this morning:

Not ONE Member of the Bush Extended Family Has Served in Iraq! Not One! Take a Look.

By Created 02/25/2007 - 6:31am

Yet, not one -- not one -- of any of Bush's children or his nieces and nephews have volunteered for service in any branch of the military or volunteered to serve in any capacity in Iraq. Not one of them has felt the cause was noble enough to put his or her life on the line.

If Iraq is such an "honorable" cause, how come not one -- not one -- of Bush's extended family has joined the military to fight there? Not one.

Same for Cheney's family.

Bush and Cheney were cowards who avoided service in Vietnam, sending other men to die for them. Now, they've made elitist craven "warmongering" a family affair.

They are frauds who send off the children of other American families to die in one of their many delusional "fiascos." And then they mistreat the wounded veterans, after not giving them sufficient protective gear to begin with.

It's the treason borne of men who personally lack the courage of their convictions.

It is like playing millionaire's poker with someone else's money and doubling down after a series of non-stop losses -- only this involves the children of Americans needlessly dying -- as well as the children of Iraqis.

This is a crime of cowards.

And there are grandparents and parents dying in Iraq too -- our reservist GIs -- so the Cheney girls aren't too old to serve, either, not to mention Jeb's children and the Bush twins.

Put your lives where your mouths are -- and take Sean Hannity and all the age-eligible propagandists at FOX News with you.

Remember, not one -- not one -- of the vast Bush dynasty members has served in Iraq, let alone even join the military during the "War on Terror." Not one.

Source URL:

Saturday, February 24, 2007

Walter Reed Army Medical Center is HELL!!!

Walter Reed Is a Second Hell for Injured Vets

By Brady van Engelen,
Posted on February 23, 2007

I served in Iraq and survived being shot in the head.

I came back to Walter Reed and survived a different kind of hell.

The Washington Post's articles exposing the conditions of Walter Reed Army Medical Center has prompted much media attention. The attention is refreshing for those of us who have long been appalled by this neglect and betrayal by the government.

After I was shot, I was no longer of any use to the U.S. Military, and they made that very apparent. The conditions I witnessed during my eight months at Walter Reed, when I lived in Building 38, which is comparable to the now-infamous Building 18, made it clear that the care I had been guaranteed in return for my sacrifice was an empty promise.

Our wars have been void of any political accountability and -- as usual -- media attention has not prompted any meaningful political action. It has been announced that there will be "investigations" into conditions at Walter Reed. This is insulting. Anything short of calling for the immediate resignation of those responsible for this care is insulting.

I am tired of our President, his Cabinet, and Members of Congress ducking accountability and proposing hollow legislation that does nothing to affect the status quo.

Yesterday, White House Press Secretary Tony Snow announced that it was up to those who "work on the other side of the river" to get the bottom of the mess at Walter Reed -- Excuse me? I served in Iraq at the orders of the President -- my Commander in Chief. I will not sit by and allow our President and his Press Secretary to punt responsibility over to the Pentagon when the pressure begins to mount. It is the responsibility of the Commander in Chief to ensure that we are properly cared for before we fight, as we fight, and when we come home.

Walter Reed has been the quintessential campaign stop/photo-op for countless elected officials since the start of our most wars. They have already seen this first hand and have chosen to ignore it.

Congress also needs a reality check. The solutions offered to date have been nothing more than hollow, quick fixes.

The system we have in place is broken.

We cannot fix this system by simply throwing money at it. Instead, we need to completely overhaul the existing, antiquated programs that ignore the specific needs of our newest generation of veterans.

A system designed for World War II veterans or a 19-year-old GI can never be sufficiently adequate or comprehensive to meet the needs of a 33-year-old guardsman or any of the 16,000 single mothers serving in Iraq and Afghanistan.

Our wars in Iraq and Afghanistan are extremely violent, and it is certain that more of us will return home with irrevocable physical and mental injuries.

Less 0.5% of the US population has served in Iraq and Afghanistan -- we represent too small a portion of the US population to fight for change alone. The American public needs to step up. They have indicated their discontent for the war in Iraq and now it's time for them to make clear their disgust with the way America treats service members.

Brady Van Engelen is an Iraq war veteran, and is currently the Associate Director at Veterans for America.

© 2007 Independent Media Institute. All rights reserved.
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Tuesday, February 20, 2007

Bush Still HATES Vets!!!

This is from today's Progress Report:

A Bleak Homecoming

Next year, the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) health care system expects to treat 263,000 veterans from Iraq and Afghanistan, a number three times what the VA initially projected. "The number of veterans coming into the VA health care system has been rising by about 5 percent a year, as the number of people returning from Iraq with illnesses or injuries keep rising." President Bush has promised that our nation would "keep its commitments to those who have risked their lives for our freedom." "We owe them all we can give them," Bush said after a visit to Walter Reed Army Medical Center. "Not only for when they're in harm's way, but when they come home to help them adjust if they have wounds, or help them adjust after their time in service." Yet as the number of soldiers injured in Iraq continues to grow, the VA health care system is "buckling under a growing volume of disability claims and rising demand for medical attention." As of last month, the VA system was experiencing a backlog of 600,000 cases, "with about 168,000 pending for at least six months." "There are VA facilities that were fine in peacetime but are now finding themselves overwhelmed," said Steve Robinson, director of Veterans for American. Recent reporting has brought more dire news: the Washington Post discovered soldiers housed at Walter Reed face the "bleakest" of homecomings; McClatchy found the VA is "ill-equipped" to handle the increasing number of returning soldiers who need treatment for mental health; and the Associated Press revealed that the recent Bush budget contains funding cuts for veterans. (See where major veterans service organizations believe funding levels for veterans should be in their annual Independent Budget.) "Our veterans' mental and physical health is not something to play games with," the Macon Telegraph wrote recently. "They have served their country, and their country has an absolute obligation to return the favor."

WALTER REED IS NO 'CROWN JEWEL': Dana Priest and Anne Hull of the Washington Post revealed over the weekend that Walter Reed, once perceived as the "crown jewel of military medicine," has become "something else entirely -- a holding ground for physically and psychologically damaged outpatients." "While the hospital is a place of scrubbed-down order and daily miracles," Priest and Hull write, "the outpatients in the Other Walter Reed encounter a messy bureaucratic battlefield nearly as chaotic as the real battlefields they faced overseas." The "legions" of injured soldiers housed at the facility has "grown so exponentially" that "they take up every available bed on post and spill into dozens of nearby hotels and apartments leased by the Army." Building 18, which for many soldiers "symbolizes the indifference and neglect that many of the wounded say they experience at Walter Reed," "has been plagued with mold, leaky plumbing and a broken elevator." Life for many in the hospital resembles a chapter out of the novel "Catch-22": "The wounded manage other wounded. Soldiers dealing with psychological disorders of their own have been put in charge of others at risk of suicide." Priest admitted Walter Reed's dilapidated condition was "surprising." "We think that the American -- we know that the American people support the troops, no matter what they think of the war," Priest said on last night's edition of PBS Newshour. "And so, when we started hearing these stories of neglect, and in some cases indifference, it was unbelievable."

MISHANDLING MENTAL HEALTH: "[I]t is the invisible psychological harm -- primarily post-traumatic stress disorder -- that is the most pervasive and pernicious injury from this war and that is emerging as its signature disability," the Philadelphia Inquirer wrote. "Veterans' advocates say it is the number-one issue facing soldiers returning from Iraq and Afghanistan." Thirty-five percent of Iraq veterans received mental health care after returning home, and 12 percent were diagnosed with a mental health ailment. Despite the staggering figures, the "VA isn't prepared to give these returning soldiers the care that could best help them overcome destructive, and sometimes fatal," illnesses. McClatchy Newspapers found the "average veteran with psychiatric troubles gets almost one-third fewer visits with specialists than he would have received a decade ago." In addition, treatment quality differs dramatically across the country: "Montana, for example, ranks fourth in sending troops to war, but last in the percentage of VA visits for mental healthcare in 2005." Funding problems have plagued the VA's ability to provide proper mental health care. A Government Accountability Office report found last year the VA "did not spend all of the extra $300 million it budgeted to increase mental health services and failed to keep track of how some of the money was used."

CONGRESS CAN HELP SOLDIERS STILL IN THE FIELD: Nearly four years since the Iraq war began, soldiers still lack proper equipment on the battlefield. In a survey conducted last year, the Pentagon Inspector General's office "found that U.S. troops in Iraq and Afghanistan lack sufficient armored vehicles, heavy weapons such as artillery or large machine guns, devices designed to jam signals used to detonate roadside bombs, and communications equipment." "As a result," the survey found, "service members performed missions without the proper equipment, used informal procedures to obtain equipment and sustainment support, and canceled or postponed missions while waiting to receive equipment." Military families are still raising money on their own to buy their loved ones the most state-of-the-art body armor. The Center for American Progress has repeatedly called for Congress to provide full equipment reset funding for the Army and Marines. Rep. John Murtha (D-PA) has said he will unveil legislation next month that would set strict standards for troop readiness before soldiers are sent to Iraq as part of Bush's escalation plan. Under the Murtha plan, troops would have to be "full combat ready" before deploying, "troops must have at least one year at home between combat deployments; combat assignments could not be extended beyond one year;" and "a 'stop-loss' program forcing soldiers to extend their enlistment periods would be prohibited." Learn more about the Murtha plan here.

Bold Move Oz!!!

This is a great idea in Australia ... but, it looks like Peter Garrett (former-Midnight Oil singer) isn't too keen on it:

Australia pulls plug on old bulbs

Australia has announced plans to ban incandescent light bulbs and replace them with more energy efficient fluorescent bulbs.

The environment minister said the move could cut the country's greenhouse gas emissions by 4 million tonnes by 2012.

"It's a little thing but it's a massive change," Malcolm Turnbull said.

The decision will make Australia the first country to ban the light bulbs, although the idea has also been proposed in the US state of California.

Fluorescent first

Mr Turnbull said that he hoped the rest of the world would follow Australia's lead in banning the traditional bulbs.

"If the whole world switches to these bulbs today, we would reduce our consumption of electricity by an amount equal to five times Australia's annual consumption of electricity," he said.

The incandescent light bulb, which wastes energy in heat dispersed while the light is switched on, is based on a design invented in the 19th century by engineers including Thomas Edison and Joseph Swan.

The bulbs will be completely phased out by 2010 and replaced with the more fuel efficient compact fluorescent models which use around 20% of the electricity to produce the same amount of light.

Matt Prescott of the UK-based Ban the Bulb campaign said he was delighted that Australia and California are moving forward on this issue, which he highlighted in an article for the BBC News website a year ago.

"I'm now hoping that Arnold Schwarzenegger and John Howard make firm commitments to support these proposals, explore other energy saving technologies which are already available and enable their economies to reduce their carbon emissions, save money and benefit from rapid innovation," he said.

Green campaigners and the opposition party in Australia picked up the same theme, suggesting that ratifying the Kyoto Protocol would be a more powerful way for the country to reduce its greenhouse gas emissions.

"The major producers of emissions in this country are not individuals, they're governments and business," Peter Garrett, the opposition's environment spokesman, said.

Story from BBC NEWS: