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Member since: Wed Mar 16, 2005, 11:12 AM
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How NOT To Care For Your Veterans


Wounded Afghan vets take Ottawa to court over compensation
Bruce Campion-Smith, Ottawa Bureau chief
Published on Tuesday October 30, 2012

OTTAWA—Wounded and injured soldiers have launched a class-action lawsuit against the federal government, charging that they’ve been shortchanged compensation for their often horrific and life-changing injuries.


Canadian soldiers make an “extraordinary personal commitment” to risk their life, the lawsuit says. In return, it claims there’s an implicit promise that the country will look after them if they suffer injuries resulting from their military service.

But that vow is being shattered by the treatment of veterans today, Sorochan said.

“We, the people, made this promise. The problem is that our bureaucrats aren’t keeping it. And they aren’t keeping it because they don’t think they have to,” he said in an interview from his Vancouver office Tuesday.
Posted by unhappycamper | Wed Oct 31, 2012, 08:23 AM (1 replies)

Most U.S. Drones Openly Broadcast Secret Video Feeds


A MQ-9 Reaper drone on the runway in Ft. Drum, New York.

Most U.S. Drones Openly Broadcast Secret Video Feeds
By Noah Shachtman and David Axe
October 29, 2012

Four years after discovering that militants were tapping into drone video feeds, the U.S. military still hasn’t secured the transmissions of more than half of its fleet of Predator and Reaper drones, Danger Room has learned. The majority of the aircraft still broadcast their classified video streams “in the clear” — without encryption. With a minimal amount of equipment and know-how, militants can see what America’s drones see.

Unmanned aerial vehicles, or UAVs, have become the single most important weapon in America’s far-flung pursuit of violent extremists. Hundreds of American Predators and Reapers fly above Libya, Yemen, Somalia, Pakistan, and Afghanistan — watching suspected enemies, and striking them when necessary. Nearly 3,000 people have been killed in the decade-long drone campaign.

“If somebody could obtain reliable access to real-time Predator or Reaper video — without attribution or alerting U.S. military — that would a tremendous intel coup,” says Micah Zenko, a fellow at the Council on Foreign Relations. “There is an insatiable demand from Predator and Reaper imagery in Afghanistan and elsewhere. Any reluctance to use those for spying or missile strikes places operations in Afghanistan, Pakistan, Yemen, and Somalia at some risk.”

Military officials have known about — and mostly shrugged off — the vulnerability since the development of the Predator in the 1990s. But the problem drew increased attention in 2008, when drone video footage was found on the laptops of Shi’ite militants in Iraq, who were able to intercept the feed using a piece of $26 software. The Pentagon and the defense industry assured the public that they’d close the hole by retrofitting the robotic aircraft with new communications protocols and encrypted transceivers that would keep the video from being intercepted again.
Posted by unhappycamper | Wed Oct 31, 2012, 08:06 AM (2 replies)

Iraqi audit indicates money laundering, US says


Iraqi audit indicates money laundering, US says
By Adam Schreck | Associated Press
October 31, 2012

BAGHDAD — ]b\Iraqi auditors believe as much as $800 million in US dollars is being sent out of the country illegally each week, draining it of hard currency, according to a report by American inspectors released Tuesday.

The findings point to widespread money laundering and could focus further attention on oversight at Iraq’s central bank, which is at the heart of an investigation into alleged financial wrongdoing involving its former governor and other top officials.

The US special inspector general for Iraq reconstruction said in a report that auditors in Baghdad fear up to 80 percent of an estimated $1 billion leaving the country weekly lacks proper documentation.

The American watchdog said Iraq’s top auditor, Abdul-Basit Turki, disclosed the findings about the extent of the alleged money laundering to American officials last month.

Posted by unhappycamper | Wed Oct 31, 2012, 07:58 AM (0 replies)

Survival and Dignity in an Afghan Winter


Children at Charahi, Qambar refugee camp

Survival and Dignity in an Afghan Winter
by Kathy Kelly
Published on Tuesday, October 30, 2012 by Common Dreams


There were many such casualties, the New York Times reports, in the deadly January of 2012, Afghanistan's coldest January in 20 years. The United Nations notes that, in camps around Kabul, as many as 35,000 refugees from the fighting had only tents and mud huts to protect them from the cold. In those camps alone, 26 Afghan children froze to death this past winter, with nationwide casualties in triple digits.

Among Afghanistan's ongoing burdens of destitution and war, of course temperatures are now dropping again.


It is a sign of desperation that families have allowed the women to gather each morning at the Afghan Peace Volunteer home to try to eke out a living. Several of the participants had already told me that they felt like they were losing their minds, "going mad,” or becoming mentally unstable from the crushing knowledge that they could not adequately feed their families, that with rising costs even a diet of bread was escaping from their families' grasp.


In this election season, here in the U.S., it can seem as if there are few choices but hard compromises having little to do with peace. But, if we look past the distractions, we can remember that there are always ways to act for peace, even in strangled political climates such as that under which the Afghan Peace Volunteers are working. They hope to build options for impoverished people when they cannot work directly to bring justice to all Afghans. We will continue supporting them in their ceasefire campaign, and we have hope that Afghans and internationals will be eager to help fellow human beings live with dignity.
Posted by unhappycamper | Wed Oct 31, 2012, 07:44 AM (1 replies)

Name Storms After Oil Companies (The Ones Most Responsible for Climate Change)


Name Storms After Oil Companies (The Ones Most Responsible for Climate Change)
by Bill McKibben
Published on Tuesday, October 30, 2012 by New York Daily News Blog

As gutsy New Yorkers begin the task of drying out the city, here’s one thought that occurred to me last night watching the horrifying pictures from a distance. It’s obviously not crucial right now — but in the long run it might make a difference. Why don’t we stop naming these storms for people, and start naming them after oil companies?

Global warming didn’t “cause” this hurricane, of course — hurricanes are caused when a tropical wave washes off the coast of Africa and begins to spin in the far Atlantic. But this storm rode ocean waters five degrees warmer than normal, so it’s no great shock that it turned into a monster. By the time it hit land, it had smashed every record for the lowest barometric pressure, and the largest wind field.

Most of its damage, of course, came from the savage storm surge, washing over the Rockaways, into the Holland Tunnel. It was astonishing to watch on TV as the Lower East Side became a part of the East River. And one reason that surge was so high? The sea level in New York harbor has gone up a foot as the climate has warmed. Sandy had a big head start on flooding out the city.

The fossil fuel companies have played the biggest role in making sure we don’t slow global warming down. They’ve funded climate denial propagandists and helped pack Congress with anti-environmental extremists, making sure that common sense steps to move toward renewable energy never happen. So maybe it’s only right that we should honor their efforts by naming storms for them from now on. At the very least it’s fun to imagine the newscasters: “Exxon is coming ashore across New Jersey, leaving havoc in her wake.” “Chevron forces evacuation of 375,000.”
Posted by unhappycamper | Wed Oct 31, 2012, 07:30 AM (5 replies)

Iraq's youngest casualties of war


Iraq's youngest casualties of war
Posted By David Kenner Monday, October 29, 2012 - 9:56 AM


The Bulletin of Environmental Contamination and Toxicology published a study in September titled "Metal Contamination and the Epidemic of Congenital Birth Defects in Iraqi Cities." The study, which was funded by the University of Michigan's Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology, examines the prevalence of birth defects in the Iraqi cities of Basra and Fallujah, both of which experienced heavy fighting during the worst days of the Iraq war. As originally noted by U.S. analyst David Isenberg, the study found an "astonishing" increase in the number of birth defects in a Basra maternal hospital when compared to before the war.

From October 1994 to October 1995, there were 1.37 birth defects at Al Basrah Maternity Hospital per 1,000 live births. By 2003, at the beginning of the war, the number of birth defects skyrocketed to 23 per 1,000 live births -- a 17-fold increase. Then the number of birth defects doubled again: By 2009, the maternity hospital witnessed a staggering 48 birth defects per 1,000 live births. In 2011, the last year for which data is available, there were 37 birth defects per 1,000 live births.

These figures are wildly out of proportion to the prevalence of birth defects elsewhere in the world. Hydrocephalus, a build up of fluid in the brain, is reported in 0.6 infants per 1,000 live births in California. In Basra, reported cases of hydrocephalus occurred six times more frequently. Neural tube defects (NTDs), brain and spinal cord conditions, are reported in one infant per 1,000 live births in the United States. In Basra, it is 12 per 1,000 live births, "the highest ever reported."

What is the reason for this drastic increase in birth defects? The study proposes that exposure to metal contamination -- notably mercury and lead -- is to blame. To test their hypothesis, the scientists involved in the study conducted a case study of 56 families in the central Iraqi city of Fallujah, which witnessed some of the fiercest fighting of the war. Among the families, more than half of infants were born with a birth defect from 2007 to 2010. Most importantly, the study found that hair samples of babies born with birth defects contained five times more lead and six times more mercury than healthy children. This high level of metal contamination was also found in the parents of children with birth defects in Basra.
Posted by unhappycamper | Tue Oct 30, 2012, 10:05 AM (0 replies)

Romney's Return of the Project for the New American Century, Which Brought Us the Iraq War


Romney's Return of the Project for the New American Century, Which Brought Us the Iraq War
Monday, 29 October 2012 17:39

On October 6, 2011, Mitt Romney announced his foreign policy and national security team. About this advisory team, Romney glowing stated, "I am deeply honored to have the counsel of this extraordinary group of diplomats, experts, and statesmen. Their remarkable experience, wisdom, and depth of knowledge will be critical to ensuring that the 21st century is another American Century." The 21st century will be another American Century?

With less subtlety than Batman's Riddler, this language hauntingly mirrors the title of the (allegedly) defunct Project for the New American Century (PNAC), a well connected group of neoconservatives (including such notables as Dick Cheney, Donald Rumsfeld, and Paul Wolfowitz), which controlled the George W. Bush administration. PNAC was, in fact, the network of deceivers behind the dummied up intelligence that led us blindly into a bloody war in Iraq. But like the Phoenix, this bellicose old bird has risen from the grave, and has now reincarnated itself as leading foreign policy advisors to Mitt Romney. Wearing the sheep's garb of centricity, it has attempted to reestablish itself in the White House; but what can we really expect from a Romney administration should this resurrected PNAC once again succeed in pulling the proverbial wool over American voters' eyes?

In 2000, shortly before George W. Bush took office, PNAC was quite clear about what it wanted the new administration to do. Its chief goal for another "American Century" was to transform America into a high-tech fighting machine that would routinely fight multiple wars simultaneously, including one in Iran. Its transformation would require increasing the budget for military expenditure to about 3.8 percent of the gross domestic product. It is therefore not surprising that Romney has followed suit in setting his proposed budgetary floor for national defense to no less than 4 percent of the gross domestic product (in contrast to Obama, who wants to reduce the budget to pre-2001, which was close to 3 percent of the GDP).

This would add about $2.1 trillion to the national defense budget; and while PNAC was clear about what the increased budget would include, Romney is just not saying. But we can take an educated guess! PNAC's proposal included selectively modernizing current US forces; developing and deploying global missile defenses "to provide a secure basis for U.S. power projection around the world,"--a euphemism for invading other nations without fear of retaliation; controlling the "new international commons of space and cyberspace," which would "pave the way for the creation of a new military service—U.S. Space Forces—with the mission of space control"; and exploiting the "revolution in military affairs" by not only updating conventional forces through advanced technologies, but producing "more profound improvements in military capabilities" by "encouraging joint-service experimentation efforts."
Posted by unhappycamper | Tue Oct 30, 2012, 09:13 AM (1 replies)

Sequester This: Of FEMA Budgets and a GOP Mindgame


Sequester This: Of FEMA Budgets and a GOP Mindgame
By Charles P. Pierce
at 2:23PM


And the centers of wingnut powers, when it comes to budget cuts and discretionary spending, well, they surely are up to the job these days.

There are two lessons in this, the second deriving completely from the first, and I'm not sure that the president fully has learned either one of them yet.

Lesson The First: nothing, n-o-t-h-i-n-g, is beneath these people in pursuit of political advantage and political power. The barrel has no bottom to scrape any more. The proper job of a modern Republican candidate like Willard Romney is to frown ruefully when the barbarians come out to play, but to profit completely from whatever wreckage they leave behind. The man is still running that ad for Richard Mourdock. You think he'd be doing it if he didn't think there was something in it for him?

Lesson The Second: Because of Lesson The First, there is no compromise, no modus vivendi, to be reached with these people in which any reasonable person would bestow an ounce of faith. Sequestration was a jerry-rigged attempt to keep the government functioning because the Republicans in the Congress blew up two previous compromises — the SuperCommittee and the debt-ceiling, the latter a compromise that had held for decades before we elected a Congress full of vandals in 2010. Now, because the president agreed to the sequestration deal, the conservatives will beat him over the head with the details of it and hope that nobody remembers what the whole thing was about.
Posted by unhappycamper | Tue Oct 30, 2012, 09:08 AM (0 replies)

Michael Byers & Stewart Webb on the F-35: The plane that keeps on billing



Michael Byers & Stewart Webb on the F-35: The plane that keeps on billing
Michael Byers & Stewart Webb | Oct 30, 2012 12:01 AM ET

“If you went out and bought yourself a new minivan and you wanted to drive it off the lot, you wouldn’t calculate the gas, the washer fluid, the oil and give yourself a salary to drive it for the next 15 or 20 years.”

That was Defence Minister Peter MacKay’s response to Michael Ferguson in April, after the Auditor-General used “life-cycle costs” to calculate the full impact that buying F-35 stealth fighter jets would have on the federal treasury.

But buying an F-35 is nothing like buying a minivan. Nobody buys a new car in the expectation that key components — engine, windshield, electronics — will need to be replaced or upgraded within a few years, while still perfectly functional.


Lockheed Martin, the manufacturer of the F-35, admits that it has only a “notional” outline of the content of the blocks. Many of the upgrades will be to the 9.5 million lines of computer code that are still being written for the F-35, but others will be upgrades to the hardware of the aircraft itself. For instance, Lockheed Martin foresees that Block 6 will include canopy extensions and improvements to the range and propulsion of the aircraft — in other words, new engines.
Posted by unhappycamper | Tue Oct 30, 2012, 08:58 AM (1 replies)

Apparent insider attack kills 2 NATO troops


The attack by a man in an Afghan police uniform killed two NATO troops, further straining relations between Afghan and international forces.

Apparent insider attack kills 2 NATO troops

October 30. 2012 - KABUL, Afghanistan (AP) - A man wearing an Afghan police uniform killed two NATO troops in southern Afghanistan on Tuesday, the international military alliance said.

The assault appeared to the be the latest in a string of insider attacks that have threatened to sever the partnership between international troops and the Afghan forces they are trying to train to take over responsibility for the country's security. There have also been cases of insurgents donning Afghan uniforms in assaults.

A statement from NATO gave no further details, saying the shooting is still under investigation.

Afghan officials said there was an attack in Helmand province's Nahri Sarraj district but also could not confirm any details.
Posted by unhappycamper | Tue Oct 30, 2012, 08:47 AM (0 replies)
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