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An Int’l Trail of Death and Heartbreak: How the Bush Wars came home with the Vets


An Int’l Trail of Death and Heartbreak: How the Bush Wars came home with the Vets
By Juan Cole | Apr. 18, 2014
(By Ann Jones)


War Comes Home

During the last 12 years, many veterans who had grown “worse” while at war could be found on and around bases here at home, waiting to be deployed again, and sometimes doing serious damage to themselves and others. The organization Iraq Veterans Against the War (IVAW) has campaigned for years for a soldier’s “right to heal” between deployments. Next month it will release its own report on a common practice at Fort Hood of sending damaged and heavily medicated soldiers back to combat zones against both doctors’ orders and official base regulations. Such soldiers can’t be expected to survive in great shape.

Immediately after the Lopez rampage, President Obama spoke of those soldiers who have served multiple tours in the wars and “need to feel safe” on their home base. But what the president called “that sense of safety… broken once again” at Fort Hood has, in fact, already been shattered again and again on bases and in towns across post-9/11 America — ever since misused, misled, and mistreated soldiers began bringing war home with them.

Since 2002, soldiers and veterans have been committing murder individually and in groups, killing wives, girlfriends, children, fellow soldiers, friends, acquaintances, complete strangers, and — in appalling numbers — themselves. Most of these killings haven’t been on a mass scale, but they add up, even if no one is doing the math. To date, they have never been fully counted.

The first veterans of the war in Afghanistan returned to Fort Bragg, North Carolina, in 2002. In quick succession, four of them murdered their wives, after which three of the killers took their own lives. When a New York Times reporter asked a Special Forces officer to comment on these events, he replied: “S.F.’s don’t like to talk about emotional stuff. We are Type A people who just blow things like that off, like yesterday’s news.”
Posted by unhappycamper | Fri Apr 18, 2014, 07:54 AM (0 replies)

Egypt’s gay community fears government crackdown


Egypt’s gay community fears government crackdown
By Patrick Kingsley, The Guardian
Thursday, April 17, 2014 8:51 EDT

Egypt’s gay community fears it is the latest target of the country’s authoritarian government, after a series of recent raids on gay people.

Activists interviewed by the Guardian said they had collectively documented up to nine raids across the country since October 2013 – an unusually high rate of arrests. Most significantly, at least seven raids have seen people arrested at home rather than at parties or known meeting places, raising concerns that the community is facing the start of a targeted crackdown.

The latest and most concerning raid saw four men seized from their east Cairo apartment on 1 April, within hours of signing the lease, according to activists. Within a week, the four were given jail-terms of up to eight years – sentences unusual for both their length and the speed of their application.

Interviewees warned against exaggerating the oppression levelled at a flourishing underground gay community. But almost all agreed the recent arrests had frightened and perplexed many of its members.
Posted by unhappycamper | Fri Apr 18, 2014, 07:42 AM (1 replies)

Study: People of color breathe air that is 38 percent more polluted than white people’s


Study: People of color breathe air that is 38 percent more polluted than white people’s
By Scott Kaufman
Thursday, April 17, 2014 8:06 EDT


“We were quite surprised to find such a large disparity between whites and nonwhites related to air pollution,” Marshall told The Minnesota Post. “Especially the fact that this difference is throughout the U.S., even in cities and states in the Midwest.”

Across the country, the study found, people of color are exposed to 38 percent more NO2, which comes from vehicle exhaust and power plants, and which has also been linked to an increase in asthma and heart disease. The Environmental Protection Agency considers NO2 concentration one of the most significant threats to air quality, and monitors it alongside other pollutants, such as ozone, carbon monoxide, and lead.

According to Marshall in the article, “the researchers studied NO2 levels in urban areas across the country and compared specific areas within the cities based on populations defined in the U.S. Census as ‘nonwhite’ or ‘white.’”

“The health impacts from the difference in levels between whites and nonwhites found in the study are substantial,” Marshall continued. “For example, researchers estimate that if nonwhites breathed the lower NO2 levels experienced by whites, it would prevent 7,000 deaths from heart disease alone among nonwhites each year.”
Posted by unhappycamper | Fri Apr 18, 2014, 07:20 AM (4 replies)

‘Liking’ companies on Facebook could give away your right to sue them


‘Liking’ companies on Facebook could give away your right to sue them
By Travis Gettys
Thursday, April 17, 2014 9:57 EDT

Be careful what you like online, Facebookers.

General Mills has quietly added fine print alerting consumers that they give up their right to sue the food manufacturer when they download coupons, interact with the company on social media, or enter company-sponsored sweepstakes, the New York Times reported.

These new terms now require consumers who receive anything that could be perceived as a benefit from the company to go through arbitration instead of filing a lawsuit, the paper reported.

In fact, the Times reported, the company made additional changes Tuesday, after a reporter contacted General Mills, suggesting that even a purchase of their products – which include Betty Crocker, Bisquick, and Fiber One – would bind customers to the new terms.
Posted by unhappycamper | Fri Apr 18, 2014, 07:05 AM (4 replies)

UnitedHealth's 1Q profit tumbles 8 percent


UnitedHealth's 1Q profit tumbles 8 percent
AP Business Writer
April 17, 2014 Updated 12 minutes ago

UnitedHealth Group's first-quarter net income slid 8 percent as fees and funding cuts from the health care overhaul helped dent the performance of the nation's largest health insurer.

UnitedHealth said Thursday it earned $1.1 billion, or $1.10 per share, in the three months that ended March 31. That's down from $1.19 billion, or $1.16 per share, a year earlier. Revenue rose nearly 5 percent to $31.71 billion.

Analysts expected earnings of $1.09 per share on $32.01 billion in revenue, according to FactSet.

The Minnetonka, Minn., company said the overhaul and government budget cuts added about 35 cents per share in costs during the quarter. The overhaul aims to provide coverage for millions of uninsured people, but it also began charging an industry-wide fee this year, and the law is scaling back funding for Medicare Advantage plans, which are privately run versions of the government's Medicare program.


Is it time for a single-payer health care yet?
Posted by unhappycamper | Thu Apr 17, 2014, 08:53 AM (6 replies)

Chinese auto brands limp into Beijing show


In this photo taken Wednesday April 16, 2014, vehicles are parked outside a factory of SGMW, a joint venture between Chinese carmakers and General Motors in Qingdao in east China's Shandong province. China’s automakers are the underdogs heading into next week’s Beijing auto show, where foreign and domestic brands will jostle for attention in a crowded market. Facing intense competition from General Motors, Volkswagen and other global rivals, local brands such as Chery, Geely and SUV maker Great Wall have seen sales and market share shrink this year while China’s overall market grew.

Chinese auto brands limp into Beijing show
AP Business Writer
April 16, 2014 Updated 12 minutes ago

BEIJING — China's automakers are the underdogs heading into next week's Beijing auto show, where foreign and domestic brands will jostle for attention in a market that is increasingly difficult for homegrown models.

Facing intense competition from General Motors, Volkswagen and other global rivals, local brands such as Chery, Geely and SUV maker Great Wall have suffered shrinking sales and market share this year while China's overall auto market has grown. That is a blow to Chinese leaders who have made it a national priority to catch up with neighboring Japan and South Korea by creating globally competitive automakers.

"I am pretty pessimistic about the domestic brands," said Wang Chao, auto editor for the newspaper China Youth Daily. "They have to work even harder to win customers."

China is the world's biggest auto market, with last year's sales rising 15.7 percent from 2012 to 17.9 million vehicles. That has supported the rapid growth of Chinese brands. But it also has attracted U.S., European, Japanese and Korean automakers that have more advanced technology and are spending heavily to appeal to local tastes in a market they see as a key to their future growth.
Posted by unhappycamper | Thu Apr 17, 2014, 08:49 AM (2 replies)

Practice for a Russian Invasion: Ukrainian Civilians Take Up Arms


It remains unclear what Russia might have in store for eastern Ukraine, but nationalist groups are preparing for the worst. The right-wing scene in the country is varied and complex, but one thing is certain: It is attracting an increasing number of followers.

Practice for a Russian Invasion: Ukrainian Civilians Take Up Arms
By Benjamin Bidder and Uwe Klussmann
April 16, 2014 – 04:23 PM

On the outskirts of Kiev, men lay on the ground, rifles at the ready. For the moment, they're firing at cardboard, but soon the targets could include Russian soldiers or eastern Ukrainian separatists. The black-red banners of Ukrainian nationalists flap above them -- among the trees of the derelict troop training area where Soviets once learned how to shoot.

Ready, aim, "breathe deeply and think before you fire," yells Mykola Ishenko, 48. Two decades ago, he was a drill sergeant in the Ukrainian army. Now he's stuffed himself back into a uniform and wants to make the transition from civilian to fighter. They exercise, throw knives, engage in hand-to-hand combat. Due to a lack of sandbags, they kick and punch logs.

Their unit is called the group of "Three Hundreds," and it is comprised of dozens of civilian defense leagues that were formed during the insurgency on the Maidan, Kiev's Independence Square. Their ideal is that of the national partisan and they have organized in order to defend the Ukrainian state. They include cosmopolitan, Western-oriented students, but also hard-boiled right-wing extremists who view the toppling of President Viktor Yanukovych as only the first step of a "national revolution." Many Maidan activists have been showing up at the military training camp since Russia's annexation of Crimea, with around 50 men turning up at the site in Kiev each day.

More Ukrainian than Russian

Trainer Ishenko has been here for two weeks now, but he also served guard duty during the Maidan protests. He says he has nothing against the Russians -- on the contrary, he even earns money from them. He works as a tour guide, and many of his customers are Russian visitors. At the same time, Ishenko says he's a Ukrainian patriot and that he considers Russian President Vladimir Putin to be an aggressive dictator.
Posted by unhappycamper | Thu Apr 17, 2014, 08:42 AM (0 replies)

Curse of Cybersex: The Lost Children of Cebu


Cybersex is a big business in a city on the Filipino island of Cebu. To escape poverty, parents force their children to strip in front of webcams. City officials are fighting back in an attempt to prevent sexual exploitation from destroying a generation.

Curse of Cybersex: The Lost Children of Cebu
By Katrin Kuntz
April 17, 2014 – 01:21 PM

Behind the closed door of her office, Angeles Gairanod is sitting in front of her laptop, replaying the video that changed everything in her small city. The clip shows three girls lying naked on a bed in their hut. The girls are 11, 9 and three. What ensues is sexual abuse. Three minutes into it, their mother appears in the picture and also engages in acts of sexual abuse with her children. The video, shot in Gairanod's city, not far from her office, is three years old.

It's February 2014, she says after showing the video. "This sort of thing happens here every day."

Gairanod, 53, is a petite woman with a bob hairstyle and pearl earrings, the deputy mayor of Cordova, a sleepy city on the eastern coast of the Filipino island of Cebu. The densely populated municipality of 53,000 also includes large numbers of children. Banana and mango trees grow along the roads. During the day, the men drive their rickshaws along gravel paths, and at night they go fishing in rowboats. The women do the laundry and cook rice over sooty fire pits. Scruffy dogs, some that hardly seem alive, lie beneath the trees. More than 40 percent of the population of Cordova lives below the poverty line. There are few cars and most of the homes here are wooden huts.

Gairanod says her city wasn't a bad place before it gained worldwide notoriety as a production site for cybersex, and adults began selling their children on camera. Everything changed three years ago, when the children's aunt, no longer able to stomach what was happening, brought a memory stick containing the film to her office.

Posted by unhappycamper | Thu Apr 17, 2014, 08:36 AM (1 replies)

Why the U.S. must cut Afghanistan loose


Why the U.S. must cut Afghanistan loose
Brahma Chellaney
Special to The Globe and Mail
Published Wednesday, Apr. 16 2014, 6:00 AM EDT
Last updated Wednesday, Apr. 16 2014, 12:20 PM EDT

Afghanistan’s presidential election, now apparently headed for a runoff stage, will mark the first peaceful transition of power in the history of that unfortunate country, ravaged by endless war since 1979. Displaying courage in the face of adversity, Afghans braved Taliban attacks and threats to vote in large numbers on April 5.

After almost 35 years of bloodletting, Afghans are desperate for peace. President Hamid Karzai’s successor will have his work cut out for him, including promoting national reconciliation by building bridges among the country’s disparate ethnic and political groups; strengthening the fledgling, multiethnic national army; and ensuring free and fair parliamentary elections next year.

The role of external players, however, overshadows these internal dynamics. Two external factors will significantly influence Afghanistan’s political and security transition: the likely post-2014 role of U.S.-led North Atlantic Treaty Organization forces; and interference by Pakistan, which still harbours militant sanctuaries and the command-and-control structure for Afghan insurgency.


It is past time for Afghanistan to be in charge of its own security and destiny. Outside assistance should be limited to strengthening the Kabul government’s hand.

Posted by unhappycamper | Thu Apr 17, 2014, 08:27 AM (1 replies)

For some vets, the war will never end


For some vets, the war will never end
Jamal Doumani
Published — Thursday 17 April 2014

Accompanied by the first lady, President Obama flew to Fort Hood, Texas, last week to console a mourning military community and eulogize three soldiers, all veterans of the Iraq war, who had been killed there a week earlier by Ivan Lopez, a fellow Iraq vet who had been under treatment for depression.

It was Obama’s second visit to the sprawling army post. His first was in November 2009, which he made to console relatives of the victims of a similar, more deadly rampage, that one by Maj. Nidal Hasan, an American-born Muslim whose parents had emigrated to the US from the West Bank and who, embittered by the United States wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, had opened fire at a medical center on the post, killing 13 people. (The then 39-year-old psychiatrist and Medical Corps officer was convicted of the murder and sentenced to death. He awaits the results of appeals by his defense team.)

Addressing an estimated 3,000 people, a grim-faced Obama said: “Part of what makes this so painful is that we’ve been there before. This tragedy tears at wounds still raw from five years ago. Once more, soldiers who survived foreign war zones were struck down here at home, where they’re supposed to be safe. We still do not yet know exactly why.”

The why of it may not be readily clear, but what is clear is that in wars such as those waged by a big power — in far away places, against little peoples with cultures American soldiers do not grasp, in pursuit of a cause no one seems to comprehend — violence is rampant, incessant and traumatizing, visited on the soul of the invader as on that of the invaded. In a way, the war comes home with the soldiers.
Posted by unhappycamper | Thu Apr 17, 2014, 08:14 AM (1 replies)
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