It is not a humor comic. And we should all be appalled by the fact that (a) the remains of the fallen were dumped in a landfill, (b) that when whistle blowers raised the issue they were fired, and (c) while claiming he takes responsibility, Air Force General Schwartz Norton Schwartz (in the comic above) has yet to discipline those who punished the whistle blowers.
Alright. Solyndra. If you do not know what it is, you will in a second. This is from today's Diane Rehm Show (NPR -- link goes to transcript and you can also stream audio):
REHM10:13:54On Veterans Day, indeed, for all those who serve and have served our country. Let's turn to the question of Solyndra and what we have learned from the emails that were released by the House Energy and Commerce Committee that's investigating Solyndra. Sheryl.
STOLBERG10:14:18Well, the committee is investigating Solyndra, and this week, it released a package of emails. The Republicans on the committee are trying to show that an Obama donor, George Kaiser, tried to pull strings to get the loan that -- loan guarantees that went to Solyndra. Now...
STOLBERG10:14:35Right. Now, Republicans on the committee say that these emails, which show some correspondence about this, prove that Kaiser was, in fact, pulling strings. Democrats say the emails don't show the whole story. They say that, in fact, George Kaiser sat next to Obama during a lengthy dinner in Las Vegas and the subject of these loans never even came up. So I guess what, you know, it depends on where you sit, you know, what it proved.
REHM10:15:06But is this...
STOLBERG10:15:07I will see next week. Steven Chu will testify...
REHM10:15:10Steven Chu, yeah.
STOLBERG10:15:10...on this. So there'll be more to come.
I thought that was a very fair and reasoned discussion (applause for Ms. Rehm and guest Sheryl Gay Stolberg); however, it continued bringing in Susan Page and Reid Wilson who seemed less interested in facts and more interest in fretting over Barack Obama. I believe it is called "the news round up" and not "Presidential glorification."
Remember Ms. Stolberg said she would wait to hear Mr. Chu's testimony? Well Patrick Reis (POLITICO) reports, "Months before Solyndra’s collapse, a former high-ranking official in President Barack Obama’s 2008 campaign called for Steven Chu’s ouster, saying the Energy secretary lacked the chops for turning green technology into green jobs." Maybe we will find out if Mr. Chu was aware of this. If he was, when he became aware of it. Bob King (POLITICO) reports:
This is C.I.'s "Iraq snapshot" for today:
Scott Pelley: Just when you thought the scandal over mishandled remains of fallen American troops at Dover Air Force Base couldn't get any worse. It did today. David Martin has been reporting on the investigation that led to a career ending letter of reprimand for the commander of the mortuary and tonight David is at the Pentagon with new developments.
David Martin: A landfill is no one's idea of a fitting resting place for a soldier fallen in battle.
Gari-Lynn Smith: No service member, no human being at all, should be placed into a landfill -- no matter if it's a finger nail, a foot or an entire body
David Martin: Yet that is what happened to Gari-Lynn Smith's husband, Sgt 1st Class Scott Smith, who was blown apart by a roadside bomb in Iraq in 2006. Without her knowing part of his body was incinerated and disposed of as medical waste in this Virginia landfill. She found out two years after his funeral.
Gari-Lynn Smith: I have honestly no idea what we buried of him because they forbid me to see him in the casket.
NIQASH: The process of reconciliation has been criticised – some say that it's avoided putting the blame on certain parties – such as insurgent groups who carry out armed attacks - even though they may have engaged in criminal behaviour.
Al-Khuzaei: In our efforts to reconcile, we want to open up channels of communication with the insurgents and to negotiate with them. The government will pardon those who put down their arms to join in the reconciliation process. But this doesn't mean that the rights of ordinary Iraqi citizens are compromised. Reconciliation may be able to make compromises in the public interest. But it cannot compromise on individual rights.
NIQASH: Can you tell us more about the kinds of dialogue that you have been having with armed factions?
Al-Khuzaei: We have been engaged in a positive dialogue with some of the factions for whom Harith al-Dhari [head of the conservative and mostly anti-US and anti-Iraqi-government Association of Muslim Scholars, a mainly Sunni Muslim group] is a spokesperson. We have also been fully engaged with the [Sunni Muslim] 1920 Revolution Brigade, the [Sunni Muslim] Mujahideen Army, the [Sunni Muslim] Islamic Jihad Brigades and the [Sunni Muslim] Ansar al-Sunnah group in Diyala. Also [the Sunni Muslim armed group] al-Naqshbandia, [the Sunni Muslim armed group] Hamas Iraq and the [Shiite Muslim] League of the Righteous. The dialogue and the agreements we have come to differ from group to group. Some of them were made on a collective level, others were on an individual level. In terms of the latter, we've had members of armed groups approach us and say that they wanted to quit their armed activities and return to their ordinary lives. We have no objection to this -- in fact, we welcome it.
Alsumaria TV reports that yesterday in Baghdad, a sticky bombing claimed the life of 1 Ministry of Health employee. In Baghdad today, Aswat al-Iraq reports, "Hundreds of Electoral Authority employees demonstrated today in Firdous Square, mid Baghdad, demanding to be appointed in their full capacity, while other NGOs talked for next Friday demonstration. Aswat al-Iraq correspondent said that the demonstrators came from different provinces to demand that the martyrs of the Authority should be given their lawful privileges."
Alsumaria TV quotes a political analyst on the US and Iraq who states, "U.S. leaked through some of the media they would go to the Security Council to consider The Iraqi government is a competent and this allows again to return to Iraq and I think this Klha means of pressure, because America did not like its the issue of withdrawal. According to observers, the U.S. troops stay in the Gulf comes the desire of them fear for their own interests or fear of potential Iranian expansion, as well as standing desire of the United States to stay close to Iran in anticipation of launching a military strike after sunburn Israel to do so."
Since his return stateside in 2004, Weathers often is unable to shake habits of vigilance he cultivated to stay alive while fighting in the town of Ramadi, often reported as the site of some of the Iraq war's most fierce fighting.
"If you stopped at a stoplight in Iraq, you were going to get shot at," said Weathers. "There was a lot of chaos; it was just … it was just hectic."
Weathers is currently in therapy in an attempt to manage the nightmarish memories and persistent symptoms of post-traumatic stress disorder that have continued since he first received his honorable discharge from the armed services.
There is also what military commanders have called the signature wound of the current wars, TBI -- Traumatic Brain Injury. Sgt Laura Todd is among the many with TBI. Colleen Flaherty (Killeen Daily Herald) reports:
"There was an explosion off the (base) and the concussion blast blew me off my feet," said Todd. She finished her deployment with the rest of 3rd Battalion, 82nd Field Artillery Regiment. "We just run on pure adrenaline." It was only upon returning home that Todd noticed something was wrong.
"I couldn't figure out which slot the fork went into in the drawer, or I couldn't (remember) how to tie my shoes, things like that," she said.
As with every war, there are also those who lost limbs, those who have had their hearing and/or vision harmed or lost, those who suffered burns and much more. On today's Fresh Air (NPR), Terry Gross spoke with journalist David Wood about some of the severely war wounded. Those who served in the war include the fallen and that's those killed while serving and those service members who took their own lives and veterans who took their own lives. Yesterday on The Diane Rehm's Show's first hour, Diane and her guests explored military suicides (link has audio and transcript). We noted that in yesterday's snapshot; however, the link was not included. My apologies.
Yesterday, November 8, 2011, BurnPits360 stormed capitol hill, kicking off a three day campaign. The second week in a row being in our nations capitol, this event displays the dedication and tenacity this great organization exudes in support of veterans who have been negatively affected by toxic burn pits. It also comes just a few short days after the introduction of the Open Air Burn Pits Registry Act of 2011 by Congressman Todd Akin -- R -- Missouri.
The burn pit issue is one that there should be strong support from Congress on. But there really hasn't been. When some -- then-US Senater Evan Bayh in 2009 and 2010, for example -- have attempted to lead on the issue by introducing a bill for an Iraq Burn Registry, others have refused to allow a bill out of committee. Milan Simoniah (Las Cruce) reports Iraq War veteran Master Sgt Jessey Baca is working on the issue:
Baca was the first veteran from New Mexico to publicly say burn pits were killing soldiers. He stood with the state's two U.S. senators last week after they introduced legislation to create a registry that would track veterans who were exposed to open burning and help them get medical treatment. America's military created the burn pits as a practical means to keep bases in Iraq and Afghanistan functional.
"They burn constantly to get rid of trash, metal, batteries, chemicals, human waste, plastics, paint. Contaminated jet fuel is used for the fire," Baca said one recent afternoon.
As awareness increases, we see efforts to minimize the realities of Burn Pits. Last week, the Institute of Medicine published a silly study researched by several people who depend upon government funding to finance their other studies. Even then, they couldn't come out and say there was no link between burn pits and serious damage to respiratory systems, forms of cancer, etc. The most they could offer was that further study was needed because they couldn't prove or disprove. J. Malcolm Garcia (The Investigative Fund) published a brilliant take-down of that 'study' today and he also noted:
Last year, long before the IOM report, the US government acknowledged the injurious effects of burn pits. According to a report released last year (PDF) by the United States Government Accountability Office, "burn pits help base commanders manage waste, but also produce smoke and harmful emissions that military and other health professionals believe may result in acute and chronic health effects to those exposed."
The VA states on its own webpage that chemicals, paint, medical and human waste, metals, aluminum, unexploded ordnance, munitions, and petroleum products among other toxic waste are destroyed in burn pits. Possible side effects, the department notes, "may affect the skin, eyes, respiration, kidneys, liver, nervous system, cardiovascular system, reproductive system, peripheral nervous system, and gastrointestinal tract."
There were crappy times when you realize how much you've got left over there, but overall it was good.
I learned the values of hard work, team work, and leadership.
One thing I'd like for people to know is that not all young enlisted servicemen are loud, MMA gear wearing douchebags, although most are.
We do not get wasted and have a grand ole time in Iraq and Afghanistan like some movies portray.
It really bothers me that a lot of people think we're just getting hammered and running around shooting camel spiders, of which I never saw a single one.
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