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Member since: Wed Mar 16, 2005, 11:12 AM
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After a decade, Afghan forces don't trust Americans


A billboard for Afghan National Security Forces in Kabul, Afghanistan, says, "We are tireless servants of our people and country," and, "Through the efforts of Afghans and with the cooperation of the United States of America, Afghanistan today has more than 150,000 national army personnel and more than 110,000 police officers."

After a decade, Afghan forces don't trust Americans
By Jon Stephenson and Ali Safi | McClatchy Newspapers
Posted on Thursday, March 8, 2012

KABUL, Afghanistan — Afghan soldiers and police say the recent burning of Qurans by U.S. personnel has seriously undermined their trust in their American counterparts, suggesting that the decade-long campaign to win hearts and minds has not only failed but also threatens the Obama administration's exit strategy.

"We are tired of the Americans here," said Mohammad Aziz, 20, a Kabul police officer. "We don't want them to stay because they keep insulting our religion."

The crisis of confidence has called into question the viability of the U.S.-led mission to have international soldiers and advisers train Afghan forces and hand security responsibilities to them before the end of 2014. The Afghans' abilities to safeguard their country against Taliban and other threats remain uncertain, and international trainers already have been forced to restrict their contact with Afghans after the violent backlash from the Quran incident.

"It has created a gap between us and the Americans," said Col. Rozi Khan of the Afghan army's commando brigade. "There is no trust between us."

unhappycamper comment: I doubt there will be helicopters landing on the Embassy roof this time, but the withdrawal of American Forces from Afghanistan will be fugly.

Posted by unhappycamper | Fri Mar 9, 2012, 08:56 AM (2 replies)

Waffle House Executive Pushes Georgia Anti-Picketing Law That Would Put Founding Fathers In Jail


Waffle House Executive Pushes Georgia Anti-Picketing Law That Would Put Founding Fathers In Jail
Zaid Jilani 3.8.2012 at 9:51 AM

To many in the South, Waffle House is a family-friendly restaurant that serves up some of the best grits and hashbrowns around. But behind that iconic sunny yellow sign is a corporate agenda aimed at stripping Americans of their rights.

State Senator Don Balfour of Snellville, Georgia — a Waffle House vice president who serves on the board of the Georgia Chamber of Commerce — is pushing a bill in his state’s legislature that would effectively outlaw picketing outside of private homes. Although the bill is aimed at suppressing union protests at the “private residences” of business executives, its scope is actually much further reaching.

The bill is written to make it illegal for picketers to take part in actions that would be “interfering with the resident’s right to quiet enjoyment.” But historically, one group of activists took part in protests aimed at private residences intended exactly to disrupt the peace to make their point: the Founding Fathers.

Prior to the Revolutionary War, Sam Adams and other Founding Fathers formed a group called the Sons of Liberty to protest the Stamp Act and similar oppressive legislation. The Sons of Liberty regularly protested outside of the homes of British colonial officials, including the homes of tax collectors. If Balfour and Georgia’s Big Business titans have their way, these protests would be illegal, and Adams and many of the other Founding Fathers would’ve been arrested.
Posted by unhappycamper | Thu Mar 8, 2012, 12:10 PM (13 replies)

PTSD: A Cancer of the Spirit


PTSD: A Cancer of the Spirit
by Robert C. Koehler
Published on Thursday, March 8, 2012 by CommonDreams.org

Can we squeeze the glory out of the word “war”? Can we talk about savage irrationality and lifelong inner hell instead? Can we talk about the wreckage of two countries?

Can we talk about spiritual cancer?

In the extraordinary documentary On the Bridge — an unstinting look at the reality of war and the terror of PTSD, directed by Olivier Morel — each of the six Iraq vets who opens his or her heart in the course of the film has a moment of deep, almost unbearable silence at the end, staring into the camera and through the camera at the viewer . . . and at the nation they are committed to waking up. In that silence, those are the questions that begin to emerge.

On the Bridge bares the deep psychic wounds of America’s returning vets — “I liken (PTSD) to the comedic scene of opening a closet and stuff keeps falling out,” Jason Moon said at one point — but it does much more than that as well. It puts these wounds into context: We are the aggressor nation, not simply at the geopolitical level, invading and occupying a nation and commandeering its resources, but at human level, with American GIs routinely dehumanizing and brutalizing Iraqis on the streets and in their homes.
Posted by unhappycamper | Thu Mar 8, 2012, 11:23 AM (1 replies)

Industry, Unions Step Up Pressure To Block Automatic Defense Cuts


Industry, Unions Step Up Pressure To Block Automatic Defense Cuts
By Otto Kreisher
Published: March 7, 2012

WASHINGTON: The aerospace industry and its largest union have started a new campaign to pressure Congress and the administration to prevent sequester, which they say could result in the loss of more than one million jobs from aerospace, defense and related activities.

The new drive, kicked off with a news conference today (3/7), is called "Stop the Clock." It includes the gimmick of distributing a small computerized clock that counts down the days, hours, minutes and seconds until the automatic cut of $1.2 trillion in government spending -- more than half in national security, aerospace and homeland security funds -- would kick in.


Retired Air Force Gen. Charles Wald, now head of Deloitte's defense sector, said the threatened cut of more than $500 billion in defense funds would hurt national security at a time of rising threats from China and Iran. Because most of the funding cuts would have to come from procurement and research and development, the impact would be particularly harmful, given the advanced age of Air Force aircraft and decline in the traditional U.S. technological superiority.

AIA officials also warned that further cuts in FAA funding would stop work on the already delayed next generation air traffic control system, which could block the expected growth in commercial aviation. (The state-by-state data is available at www.secondtonone.org)
Posted by unhappycamper | Thu Mar 8, 2012, 11:16 AM (6 replies)

Air Forces Mothballs $3.8 Billion Dollars 'Worth' of Global Hawk Drones

Which begs the question: Why did we buy $3.87 billion dollars of these things in the first place?


Donley, Schwartz back planned Global Hawk cuts
By Brian Everstine - Staff writer
Posted : Tuesday Mar 6, 2012 16:59:14 EST

Air Force Secretary Michael Donley told lawmakers Tuesday that the Air Force is not sure what it will do with the money it saves by cutting the RQ-4 Global Hawk Block 30 aircraft and moving 18 of the $215 million unmanned aircraft into storage.
Posted by unhappycamper | Wed Mar 7, 2012, 11:20 AM (18 replies)

Gen. Fraser defends $744,000 Guantanamo soccer field


Gen. Fraser defends $744,000 Guantanamo soccer field
By Carol Rosenberg | The Miami Herald
Posted on Wednesday, March 7, 2012

The Air Force general in charge of Pentagon operations in Latin America and the Caribbean confirmed his upcoming retirement from military service in testimony at Congress Tuesday that included a defense of the controversial $744,000 soccer field at a Guantánamo prison camp as part of cost-saving measures.


During his testimony, Frasier defended the Pentagon’s decision to spend $744,000 on a new soccer field for cooperative captives at the U.S. Navy base at Guantánamo Bay, Cuba, a quality-of-life improvement that has drawn protest from some Republican members of Congress.

At the hearing Tuesday, Rep. Michael Conaway, R-Texas, an accountant from Odessa, called the investment “troubling, indeed head scratching.”

The general replied that the detention center had been downsizing to consolidate the prison camps while cutting contact between captives and captors as well as meeting U.S. obligations under the Geneva Conventions.
Posted by unhappycamper | Wed Mar 7, 2012, 09:19 AM (3 replies)

The Costs of War, Collective Amnesia and Learning From Experience


The Costs of War, Collective Amnesia and Learning From Experience
Joseph Bobrow
Posted: 03/ 6/2012 3:49 pm

Last year I attended the annual Memorial Day commemoration at a military cemetery. A retired general officer was among the speakers. I had seen him over the years in various settings and he was always super patriotic and upbeat. This time his presentation sounded different. He spoke of how acutely he felt the burden, more than 20 years on, of having sent men and women into harm's way, and how deeply he felt responsible for their injuries and deaths. You could hear his voice tremble. Then he said something that startled me. With complete conviction, this patriot's patriot said that the costs of war are so great that we just have to find ways to solve our problems that do not involve killing one another.

A decorated commander from the Fallujah conflict often speaks publicly about his experiences. As tough, dedicated and respected as they come, each time I've heard him speak, he will say "war is obscene." None of the scores of military personnel I've met over the past five years, especially those who know or work closely with returning service members, veterans, and their families have a hankering for war. They know the impacts too well. They know the costs are staggering and multi-dimensional. Then why this new cycle of loose talk and bellicose rhetoric on the part of some?

In a recent piece in the New York Times, news analyst Scott Shane writes that "Despite a decade of war, most Americans seem to endorse 'the politicians' martial spirit.' In a Pew Research Center poll this month, 58 percent of those surveyed said the United States should use military force, if necessary, to prevent Iran from developing nuclear weapons. Only 30 percent said no. Yet, 75 percent of respondents said that Mr. Obama was withdrawing troops from Afghanistan at the right pace or not quickly enough, a finding in keeping with many indications of war weariness."

One expert who has studied security threats since the Cold War found it puzzling: "You'd think there would be an instinctive reason to hold back after two bloody noses in Iraq and Afghanistan." Another expert on conflict prevention said, "Faced with an intractable security challenge, both politicians and ordinary people want to 'do something,' and nothing 'does something' like military force." He sees an old pattern. And here's the line that jumped out at me:
Posted by unhappycamper | Wed Mar 7, 2012, 07:57 AM (7 replies)

Caught in an ambush by Agent Orange


Caught in an ambush by Agent Orange
Updated: March 5, 2012, 8:13 AM

Thirty-five years after the fact, Frank B. Brochowicz received a nasty reminder of his service in the Vietnam War. In late 2006, he lost 25 pounds and attributed it to a lack of appetite after a beloved family member had died.

But when the pounds kept falling off, he went to a doctor who directed him to a cancer specialist.

“The oncologist said my hemoglobin count was very low. It wasn’t transferring oxygen into my blood. I was told I’d been working on a half a tank of gas,” Brochowicz said.

Further testing determined he had multiple myeloma attributable to his exposure to Agent Orange, the carcinogenic defoliant used to clear dense jungle vegetation in Vietnam.
Posted by unhappycamper | Tue Mar 6, 2012, 09:14 AM (0 replies)

Cigna CEO sees compensation jump 25 pct in 2011


Cigna CEO sees compensation jump 25 pct in 2011
TOM MURPHY, AP Business Writer
Updated 09:10 a.m., Monday, March 5, 2012

Cigna Corp. CEO David M. Cordani's total compensation climbed 25 percent last year, as the nation's fourth-largest health insurer launched a $3.8 billion acquisition, and its stock outperformed the broader market.

Cordani, 46, received compensation valued at $18.9 million last year from the Bloomfield, Conn., company, according to an Associated Press analysis of a regulatory filing Monday.

That included the same salary Cordani received in 2010 — $1 million — and a performance-related bonus that climbed 27 percent to $9.3 million. Cordani's stock and options awards totaled nearly $8.5 million, also up 27 percent from the previous year.

The executive, who became CEO in 2010, also received $62,865 for security alarm installation and maintenance in 2011 after the company gave him $48,733 for the same thing the previous year.
Posted by unhappycamper | Mon Mar 5, 2012, 12:24 PM (1 replies)

Some in Congress object to new soccer field at Guantanamo


Some in Congress object to new soccer field at Guantanamo
By Carol Rosenberg | McClatchy Newspapers
Posted on Sunday, March 4, 2012

Some members of Congress are questioning the wisdom of the Pentagon's spending $744,000 on a soccer field to keep captives busy outside a $39 million penitentiary-style building at the U.S. Navy base at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba.

"Seven hundred and fifty thousand dollars for crying out loud?" Rep. Gus Bilirakas, R-Fla., said in a television interview. "Our deficit this year is $1.2 trillion and we're spending this kind of money on terrorists?"

Prison camp commanders unveiled the 28,000-square-foot soccer field during a visit last week by reporters to cover a Pakistani man's guilty plea to war crimes. Commanders called it part of the cost of doing business at the remote outpost and keeping captives diverted at the detention center.

The yard opens in April after contractors install latrines and goals.

unhappycamper comment: Gitmo costs the United States around $800 grand per detainee per year.

In other related news,

Detroit Bus Service Is Cut At Nighttime, While Private Contractor Is In Line For Bonus
Posted: 03/02/12 04:34 PM ET | Updated: 03/02/12 08:27 PM ET

Detroit's beleaguered bus riders already have little love for the Motor City's transit system. Now service is about to get worse.

Beginning Saturday, some Detroit bus routes will stop running as early as 8 p.m. and service will be halted between 1 a.m. and 4 a.m. The changes will leave about 3,200 of the 110,000 to 120,000 people who ride Detroit’s buses every day without nighttime transportation and likely cost some their jobs, say public transit advocates. Meanwhile, the private companies who run Detroit's transit system are in line for large bonuses if cost-cutting measures succeed.

Facing an ever-tightening budget noose, Detroit officials are trying to stave off a fiscal takeover by the state. When the bus service cuts go into effect on Saturday, the city's transit system will save $11 million and help Detroit move toward more reliable service during peak hours when buses are most in demand, said Chris Brown, Detroit's chief operating officer, who oversees transit operations.

Officials insist that the changes will affect the smallest number of riders possible. These riders might be the transit system's neediest users, though.

Posted by unhappycamper | Mon Mar 5, 2012, 09:38 AM (2 replies)
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