death


If we (the United States) turned everything over to the Iraqi government and we’re so proud of how democratic things are becoming there, then why are we (Condi Rice) trying to overturn their rules? We have nearly run out of soldiers and marines to send to Iraq, but the private
mercenaries are not as reliable since they are not subject to any laws or rules. The article in the Guardian points out that:

The dilemma for the US government is that it needs private security firms but a reversal of the Iraqi government decision
would undermine the credibility of assertions by the Bush
administration that the Iraqi government is autonomous.

No wonder the Iraqi Government wants the mercenaries security contractors out.

The private security firms are controversial, often hated by Iraqis who regard them as trigger-happy. US soldiers can face court martial if accused of unprovoked assaults or over-reaction, though the ratio of those convicted is low. But the law in relation to private security firms is vague.

Here is more of the article:

Iraq orders expulsion of US security firm

· Decision taken after killing of Iraqi civilians
· Rice tries to overturn ban on Blackwater guards

Ewen MacAskill in Washington
Tuesday September 18, 2007
The Guardian

The Bush administration faced an embarrassing stand-off yesterday when the Iraqi government ordered the immediate expulsion of all employees of the security firm Blackwater USA.

The Iraqi ministry of interior took the decision after eight Iraqi
civilians were killed and 13 wounded in Baghdad when shots were fired from a US state department convoy on Sunday.

Iraqis, quoted by news agencies, reported seeing helicopters, protecting the convoy, opening fire.

The secretary of state, Condoleezza Rice, was forced to intervene to try to have the ban reversed. She was planning to call the Iraqi prime minister, Nuri al-Maliki. “She is going to express regret for the loss of life … (and) make it clear that we are investigating this incident,” the state department spokesman, Sean McCormack, said. The state department has refused to confirm whether Blackwater was involved. The state department and reconstruction workers rely heavily on protection by Blackwater.

Like most of my political posts, this is cross-posted at
Political Teen Tidbits and at YouThinkLeft.

 

    My brother was 6 when he decided to join the military and 18 when he did. He was not drafted. It was his choice. I do not want to get drafted when I turn 18 in 2 yrs (and a few months). Do you? If Bush doesn’t ever let this war end, and if Congress never pushes for it to end, then we all might end up fighting. Even with enlistment bonuses and 5th tours of duty, the military is going to run out of soldiers and marines.

This is an ad that is being run in Maine where Susan Collins is up for re-election, but it could run anywhere. Watch it. Share it with people. Keep me and my friends and our classmates and our generation from having to get drafted to fight Bush’s war.

Are you ready to fight? Are you ready to go on 3 or 4 or 5 deployments? Are you ready for PTSD? Are you ready to die?

funeral.jpgMy dad left when I was five. He did not die. He was not in a war. He just left. After he left I was angry at him and sad, but I did not have a grief camp. Maybe it would have made things easier for me and for my brother.  They’re probably very helpful and I am glad they exist. My brother and I  were just angry for a while and then dealt with other issues and then FINALLY went to therapy about it more than six years later.

But now our country has grief camps for kids, because of the Iraq War.  Great idea, HORRIBLE reason for needing it.

At Camp Good Grief, all the children are mourning for a parent or other relative who died while serving in the military.

“Age doesn’t matter. The grief process is the same,” said Vanessa
Gabrielson, a camp counselor whose father was killed in Iraq in 2003. “Every time I go, it gets easier, and I learn something from them.”

Some of the campers have never discussed their parent’s death.
Others describe the grisly details of war matter-of-factly. But being with children who have endured a similar loss provides comfort, counselors said.

More than 20 children ranging from 7 to 19 years old attended the one-day camp this past week in Salado, near Fort Hood. About 40 parents and other adults attended a separate survivor seminar,
also run by the Tragedy Assistance Program for Survivors.

The nonprofit organization known as TAPS has held an annual children’s camp in Alexandria, Va., since shortly after the group was founded in 1994. It began holding camps and adult seminars nationwide last fall in cities near military bases.

The children and their parents grieve for family members who were killed by roadside bombs, snipers or crashes. Others lost relatives to accidents, illness or suicide after their loved ones returned to the U.S.

The United States should not need to have a camp where kids can
grieve because their parents died as soldiers in Iraq and Afghanistan.
We should not be in this war. We should not have started this war.

We need to get out of Iraq and as part of the money we pay them
to repair what we did for their country, maybe we should set up grief
camps there for all of the kids who lost a brother or a sister or a mom or a dad or a best friend because of this war.  I bet there are a lot of kids in Iraq who need a grief camp.

 

tanksIt is very wrong for the Pentagon to operate this way. It is wrong to the soldiers that work for them and to their families. Who is making a profit from this?

Pentagon criticized for armor contracts

By RICHARD LARDNERandANNE FLAHERTY

The Defense Department put U.S. troops in Iraq at risk by awarding contracts for badly needed armored vehicles to companies that failed to deliver them on time, according to a review by the Pentagon’s inspector general.

The June 27 report, obtained Wednesday by The Associated Press, examined 15 contracts worth $2.2 billion awarded since 2000 to Force Protection Inc. and Armor Holdings Inc.

The contracts were issued without the normal competition for government work because the military determined these companies were the only ones capable of supplying the vehicles fast enough to meet the demands of deployed troops.

Yet the inspector general’s report concluded otherwise.

Overall, Force Protection of Ladson, S.C., received 11 contracts from the Army and Marine Corps worth $417 million for a variety of vehicles, including its Buffalo and Cougar mine-resistant trucks.

Force Protection failed to meet all delivery schedules, according to the report, and acquisition officials knew there were other manufacturers that might have supplied some of the vehicles in a more timely fashion. The report does not provide the names of those possible alternative sources.

Mike Aldrich, a Force Protection vice president, acknowledged the delays and said the problems were caused by an inability to get essential manufacturing materials.

The company’s production and delivery schedules have improved greatly in recent months, Aldrich added, noting that 100 of the Buffalo vehicles have been delivered.

“Government reports are largely written by lawyers and look intimidating when you pick them up,” Aldrich said. “But our vehicles perform well in theater and have saved the lives of troops.”

The inspector general’s report agreed that Force Protection’s vehicles have been of substantial value since they arrived.

The report, not yet publicly released, also criticizes the Army’s award of a $266 million contract for crew protection kits to Simula Aerospace and Defense Group, a subsidiary of Armor Holdings of Jacksonville, Fla.

Simula lacked the internal controls necessary to ensure delivery of the kits, which were needed to make military vehicles less vulnerable to roadside bombs and small-arms fire, according to the report.

The Army received kits “with missing and unusable components, which increased installation time and required additional reinspection of kits,” according to the report.

In describing the scope of the problem, the report said that some of the Simula kits delivered to the troops had two left doors, were missing side plates and contained brackets that needed re-welding.

Overall, the problems “resulted in increased risk to the lives of soldiers,” the report states.

Armor Holdings received three other contracts worth $1.5 billion for armored Humvees and armor kits to strengthen older-model vehicles.

Spokesman Michael Fox said the company had not seen the report and had no immediate comment.

The review was requested by Rep. Louise Slaughter, D-N.Y., in April 2006, after she learned the Pentagon was relying on just a few small companies to supply bomb-resistant vehicles to troops in Iraq.

With improvised explosive devices accounting for the majority of combat deaths and injuries, Slaughter said that strategy needed to be examined.

“It’s been business as usual,” Slaughter said Wednesday after reviewing the report. “The lives of our soldiers took a back seat to who got the contracts.”

Slaughter said the report raises more questions than answers and that she wants to know if the awards were the result of “influence peddling or insider connections.”

In written comments to the inspector general, the Marine Corps defended its acquisition decisions for the vehicles.

The armored vehicle contracts “were executed within the law, spirit and intent of the current acquisition rules and regulations,” according the comments.

In separate written comments, the Army did not object to the report’s findings.

No NiggerWhen I was in 8th grade, I had the coolest social studies teacher ever. We were always acting things out, holding mock trials and having debates in class, and it really made a difference in what we learned.

Today, the NAACP did something in Detroit that made a difference. They had a mock funeral for the word “nigger”. They used a coffin, but people were cheering instead of crying. According to the AP,

Delegates from across the country marched from downtown Detroit’s Cobo Center to Hart Plaza. Two Percheron horses pulled a pine box adorned with a bouquet of fake black roses and a black ribbon printed with a derivation of the word.

The coffin is to be placed at historically black Detroit Memorial Park Cemetery and will have a headstone.

One of the speakers was Detroit’s Mayor:

“Today we’re not just burying the N-word, we’re taking it out of our spirit,” said Detroit Mayor Kwame Kilpatrick. “We gather burying all the things that go with the N-word. We have to bury the ‘pimps’ and the ‘hos’ that go with it.”

He continued: “Die N-word, and we don’t want to see you ’round here no more.”

They even had a preacher giving a eulogy:

The Rev. Wendell Anthony, pastor of Detroit’s Fellowship Chapel and member of the NAACP national board of directors, said the efforts were not an attack on young people or hip-hop.

He said they were a commentary on the culture the genre has produced.

“We’re not thugs. We’re not gangstas,” Anthony told the crowd. “All of us has been guilty of this word. It’s upon all of us to now kill this word.”

So, if you could have a funeral for a word or for an idea, what would you bury? Please leave a comment


comic by Bill Day

When I get lazy, or busy with exams, I don’t think, write and then post. Instead I just pick the best of the day’s political cartoons and post those. Here ya go!

stamp mail email price

moderate republican

cartoons_051907_a1.jpg

Tinkie Winkie Jerry Falwell

cp-1.gif

no more bushies

wolfie world bank

elephants

Dua Khalil honor killingI have a boyfriend and my family does not want me to have sex with him. They say I am too young and so is he. (Kissing and hugging are fine, but hands must always stay above the waist.) They want me to be older, to be in love, and to be safe when I do choose to have sex. Maybe I will wait until I am married and maybe I won’t.

If I were to have sex at my age, they would be disappointed in me and angry with me. If I stayed out all night, I would definitely get grounded, lose internet access, and probably have a thousand new chores. But they would NOT kill me and NEVER let other people kill me because of sex, even if I had sex with a person of a different religion.

It is different in the middle east. There, girls can be stoned to death for having sex too early and with the wrong people. Look at what happened to Dua Khalil, a 17 year old in Northern Iraq. (She is the girl in the photo above.)
According to CNN:

Authorities in northern Iraq have arrested four people in connection with the “honor killing” last month of a Kurdish teen — a startling, morbid pummeling caught on a mobile phone video camera and broadcast around the world.

The case portrays the tragedy and brutality of honor killings in the Muslim world. Honor killings take place when family members kill relatives, almost always female, because they feel the relatives’ actions have shamed the family.

In this case, Dua Khalil, a 17-year-old Kurdish girl whose religion is Yazidi, was dragged into a crowd in a headlock with police looking on and kicked, beaten and stoned to death last month. (Watch the attack, and what authorities are doing about it Video)

Authorities believe she was killed for being seen with a Sunni Muslim man. She had not married him or converted, but her attackers believed she had, a top official in Nineveh province said. The Yazidis, who observe an ancient Middle Eastern religion, look down on mixing with people of another faith.

National Geographic estimates that thousands of women and girls are killed every year, because their families value family honor more than the lives of the women and girls.

Hundreds, if not thousands, of women are murdered by
their families each year in the name of family “honor.” It’s difficult to get precise numbers on the phenomenon of honor killing; the murders frequently go unreported, the perpetrators unpunished, and the concept of family honor justifies the act in the eyes of some societies.

Most honor killings occur in countries where the concept of women as a vessel of the family reputation predominates, said Marsha Freemen, director of International Women’s Rights Action Watch at the Hubert Humphrey Institute of Public Affairs at the University of Minnesota.

Reports submitted to the United Nations Commission on Human Rights show that honor killings have occurred in Bangladesh, Great Britain, Brazil, Ecuador, Egypt, India, Israel, Italy, Jordan, Pakistan, Morocco, Sweden, Turkey, and Uganda. In countries not submitting reports to the UN, the practice was condoned under the rule of the fundamentalist Taliban government in Afghanistan, and has been reported in Iraq and Iran.

But while honor killings have elicited considerable attention and outrage, human rights activists argue that they should be regarded as part of a much larger problem of violence against women.

. . . .

The practice, she said, “goes across cultures and across religions.”

Complicity by other women in the family and the community strengthens the concept of women as property and the perception that violence against family members is a family and not a judicial issue.

“Females in the family—mothers, mothers-in-law, sisters, and cousins—frequently support the attacks. It’s a community mentality,” said Zaynab Nawaz, a program assistant for women’s human rights at Amnesty International.

Some organizations that are fighting to stop this violence against girls and women are UNICEF and Amnesty International.

UPDATE: You can also sign this petition and find out more from STOP Honour Killings.

Like most of my political posts, this is cross-posted at Political Teen Tidbits and at YouThinkLeft.

While I was looking for photos of Bush using the troops as props for his photo ops for a different story, I came across this: “War President,” a recent likeness of President Bush made up of photographs of soldiers killed in Iraq. And he never went to a single one of their funerals!

Bush's face made from the photos of soldiers killed in Iraq

There should be more stories like this, and the public should be more involved in helping the troops and their families. 365 deaths from just one military base!!!! And for what??? Why are we still in Iraq? The mission is over.

—-Freckles

memorial picture


Fort Hood support center: http://www.goldstarfamilysupport.org/

Army families: http://www.armyfamiliesonline.org/skins/WBLO/home.aspx

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Military Faces Growing Ranks of Bereaved


AP National Writer
One of the first sights greeting visitors to Fort Hood is a day-care center’s playground, brightly colored evidence of the Army’s commitment to be family friendly.

A few blocks away is a more poignant symbol: an office building recently converted into a first-of-its-kind support center for women and children whose husbands and fathers have died in Iraq and Afghanistan. From Fort Hood alone, the toll has passed 365.

This photo, provided by war widow Melissa Storey, shows Melissa with her 4-year-old daughter, Adela, Dec. 16, 2006, on a hotel balcony in Anaheim. Calif., where they were attending a holiday gathering for families of fallen service members. Melissa, whose husband, Army Staff Sgt. Clint Storey, was killed in Iraq last August, is pregnant with a son conceived during her last days with her husband. (AP Photo/Courtesy Melissa Storey)

“It’s our sanctuary,” said Ursula Pirtle, whose daughter frequents a playroom at the center. Three-year-old Katie never met her father, Heath. He was killed in Iraq in 2003.

Over the past 15 years, America’s armed forces have taken huge strides to retain married service members — improving schools, health programs and child care. But now, as never before in this family-embracing era, the military is struggling with the toughest home-front problem of all: Doing right by the often outspoken and ever-growing ranks of the bereaved.

Of the 3,350 Americans who died in Iraq and Afghanistan through early January, 1,586 of them — 47.3 percent — were married. Those fallen warriors left behind 1,954 children, according to the Pentagon’s Manpower Data Center. More recent deaths have pushed that figure past 2,000.

Compared to the heavily draftee combat troops of the Vietnam war, today’s volunteer fighting force is older, more reliant on National Guard and Reserve citizen-soldiers, and more likely to be married.

And more so than their Vietnam counterparts, the new generation of bereaved spouses has been vocal — on their bases, at congressional hearings — in pressing for more compassionate, effective support.

It’s a constituency that politicians and generals do not want to alienate. The result has been numerous policy changes, ranging from improved benefits to better training for the officers who break the grim news of war-zone deaths. Even the Fort Hood support center materialized due to pressure from widows and their allies.

But the learning process is ongoing and the results are mixed.

“The war on terror has presented us with new challenges we haven’t seen before, in terms of number of casualties,” said an Army spokesman, Lt. Col. Kevin Arata. “We know we’re not perfect — there are things families have said we can do better, and we’ve listened to that.”

Interviews with a dozen widows at Fort Hood and across the country reveal varied experiences, but also some common bonds.

Across the board, the widows are proud of their husbands — even if they disagree on the wisdom of the Iraq war. Each woman is still grieving, and those with children have extra worries — financial and psychological — that extend far into the future.

Some are deeply grateful for the support provided by the military after their husbands’ deaths; others are critical. Among the common complaints — that notification and assistance officers were sometimes ill-informed or aloof, and that they were bounced through different parts of the military bureaucracy when seeking help.

“We have to have someone who knows what they’re talking about,” Pirtle said. “The blind-leading-the-blind system isn’t working out.”

(more…)

In the past few days, two people died who’ve affected my life indirectly. The first was Molly Ivins, one of my role models and a great liberal Texas voice. The second was Kenneth Kincaid, who I never met, but who must have done something right to raise Bob Kincaid and to be so admired by him.

I’ve also been touched by a few other deaths in the past year. The most horrible was the sudden death of a 7th grade girl that I knew, a girl I went to elementary school with. She was younger than me and died only a few hours after getting sick. That was super sad for her family and for the whole community. She died while she was on a school trip, and that made it even worse.

The other death was of a 38 year old man who was the father of a friend of mine. He spent almost three years dying, and a lot of that time preparing his family and himself for his death. He wrote letters that Elyse will read when she graduates high school and when she gets married. He also recorded videos for her and her mom.

dove

I have an internet friend who is dying of cancer, and who talks about it. Yesterday he said that he will soon be visiting with Molly, and that got me thinking even more about death. I will miss him a tremendous amount when he dies, but I don’t know what will happen to him. The real him, the soul and not the body.

I have no idea what happens to us after we die. I don’t know if our mind or soul goes to the places we visit in our best dreams or if we see the people that died before us or if nothing at all happens and it’s just over. I don’t know if we go with angels or with God or old friends. I don’t know if this is something I will understand better when I get older or if it’s just something to think more about.

I also think about how I never met my grandparents and about how I will feel when my parents die. I think I probably won’t feel too much about my dad’s death because he hasn’t been in my life since I was five. But I think about my mom dying a lot. She’s an addict and she’s in prison, so her chances of dying early are pretty high. I worry about her and hope she gets better. She also abused me really badly for a long time and part of me thinks it will be easier to finish getting past all that myself after she dies. I don’t wish her dead, but I don’t know how I will react when she does die.

My brother is in the military, but he is safe and sound in Texas. I can not even imagine life without him, so I refuse to even consider the idea that he will die before he turns 100.

—————–

I also think about the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. If you asked a kid my age there, how many people would they know that died? Would they be people that died from accidents and diseases? Or from bombs and bullets? How scared are the kids there about never seeing their families again? Or about dying themselves?

—————-

There is no solution to death. But if everyone had all the medical care they needed and if no one started wars, a lot of people would live a lot longer and have a beautiful dignified death with the people they love sitting by their beds.


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