Songs Of The Times
LWW Top 3,580 Songs - Listen Here
Do you have a protest or topical song available on the web? Send us a link for possible listing here.
Time - The Hardcore Meatsticks|
Our Comfortable Lives - Barry Keenan|
Lady of the Light - Bob Nicholson|
Peace In Our Time - Cy Taggart and Tam Seraph|
Things Of America - David Kraai|
What Would They Tell? - Larree|
Hello Baghdad - Benedict Arnold & The Traitors|
Marche Mon Ami - Egin|
WWIII - Larree|
The Rivers Still Flow - John Bunzli|
Send your song link to: email@example.com
Spread the word:
LWW Top 750 Videos - View Here
Know of a protest video that we should link to here? Send us the link.
Prayer for America - Catman Cohen|
Tic Toc War - Roy Muniz|
peace broke out - bill white|
Nobody For President - SoCal Committee to Elect Nobody|
Fallow Fields (The Face of War) - Kluso|
Late For The Bus - Ron Gletherow|
5 seconds to midnight - bill white|
Hello Mr President - Hemingway Christ|
Vietnam to Iraq - O'Connells / Filipowitsch / Farmer|
The Devil is Working Here - Nanette Natal|
Send a video link to: firstname.lastname@example.org
Click here to see this great video by Merle Haggard.
TO MY CONSERVATIVE BROTHERS AND SISTERS
by Michael Moore
I know you are dismayed and disheartened at the results of last week's
election. You're worried that the country is heading toward a very bad
place you don't want it to go. Your 12-year Republican Revolution has
ended with so much yet to do, so many promises left unfulfilled. You
are in a funk, and I understand.
Well, cheer up, my friends! Do not despair. I have good news for you.
I, and the millions of others who are now in charge with our Democratic
Congress, have a pledge we would like to make to you, a list of
promises that we offer you because we value you as our fellow
Americans. You deserve to know what we plan to do with our newfound
power -- and, to be specific, what we will do to you and for you.
Thus, here is our Liberal's Pledge to Disheartened Conservatives:
Dear Conservatives and Republicans,
I, and my fellow signatories, hereby make these promises to you:
1. We will always respect you for your conservative beliefs. We will
never, ever, call you "unpatriotic" simply because you disagree with
us. In fact, we encourage you to dissent and disagree with us.
2. We will let you marry whomever you want, even when some of us
consider your behavior to be "different" or "immoral." Who you marry is
none of our business. Love and be in love -- it's a wonderful gift.
3. We will not spend your grandchildren's money on our personal whims
or to enrich our friends. It's your checkbook, too, and we will balance
it for you.
4. When we soon bring our sons and daughters home from Iraq, we will
bring your sons and daughters home, too. They deserve to live. We
promise never to send your kids off to war based on either a mistake or
5. When we make America the last Western democracy to have universal
health coverage, and all Americans are able to get help when they fall
ill, we promise that you, too, will be able to see a doctor, regardless
of your ability to pay. And when stem cell research delivers treatments
and cures for diseases that affect you and your loved ones, we'll make
sure those advances are available to you and your family, too.
6. Even though you have opposed environmental regulation, when we
clean up our air and water, we, the Democratic majority, will let you,
too, breathe the cleaner air and drink the purer water.
7. Should a mass murderer ever kill 3,000 people on our soil, we will
devote every single resource to tracking him down and bringing him to
justice. Immediately. We will protect you.
8. We will never stick our nose in your bedroom or your womb. What you
do there as consenting adults is your business. We will continue to
count your age from the moment you were born, not the moment you were
9. We will not take away your hunting guns. If you need an automatic
weapon or a handgun to kill a bird or a deer, then you really aren't
much of a hunter and you should, perhaps, pick up another sport. We
will make our streets and schools as free as we can from these weapons
and we will protect your children just as we would protect ours.
10. When we raise the minimum wage, we will pay you -- and your
employees -- that new wage, too. When women are finally paid what men
make, we will pay conservative women that wage, too.
11. We will respect your religious beliefs, even when you don't put
those beliefs into practice. In fact, we will actively seek to promote
your most radical religious beliefs ("Blessed are the poor," "Blessed
are the peacemakers," "Love your enemies," "It is easier for a camel to
go through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to enter the kingdom
of God," and "Whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers
of mine, you did for me."). We will let people in other countries know
that God doesn't just bless America, he blesses everyone. We will
discourage religious intolerance and fanaticism -- starting with the
fanaticism here at home, thus setting a good example for the rest of
12. We will not tolerate politicians who are corrupt and who are
bought and paid for by the rich. We will go after any elected leader
who puts him or herself ahead of the people. And we promise you we will
go after the corrupt politicians on our side FIRST. If we fail to do
this, we need you to call us on it. Simply because we are in power does
not give us the right to turn our heads the other way when our party
goes astray. Please perform this important duty as the loyal
I promise all of the above to you because this is your country, too.
You are every bit as American as we are. We are all in this together.
We sink or swim as one. Thank you for your years of service to this
country and for giving us the opportunity to see if we can make things
a bit better for our 300 million fellow Americans -- and for the rest
of the world.
Writings of Holy Men
by Eric Benson
While I am thrilled, as most indie singer/songwriters would be, that one of
my songs is included on the LWWT page, and quickly rose toward the top ten
(Writings of Holy Men, as I write, listed at #14), bragging rights aren't
the only reason I submitted it in the first place. Neil Young has not only
solidified his already massive fan base by releasing a gem of an album with
"Living With War", but has garnered many new fans, namely those opposed to
what is happening in Iraq and Afghanistan. Vastly different tastes in music
have come together on one platform, and the sharing of passionate beliefs
has been made further possible through this forum.
As a Canadian, I was of course appalled at the CNN interview of Neil about
the album, when asked if he felt his was a legitimate voice of opposition
and fair, as he was in fact a Canadian. The outrageousness of that question
is beyond measure, particularly in a democracy. Neil handled it far better
than I could have articulated, trust me.
Also as a Canadian, I was grateful to have this outlet for my song that I
wrote at the beginning of the Gulf war, when Bush Sr. stated that sending
troops to Kuwait was "doing God's will". How many times has that line been
tightly wrapped around soldier's bodies, limbs and shattered emotions? As
most songwriter's will relate to, the song took about a half an hour from
the first chord strums, to the final lyric. When something so asinine and
obviously corrupt is being fed to the public from our "leaders", it stirs a
passion in writers of conscience like no other.
As a Canadian, I'd also like the troops that are fighting and dying right
now to know that as people, as human beings, I only wish them Godspeed home,
safe and sound, never to have to return to that bloody mess.
As a Canadian, I want my American cousins to understand that some of our
young men have been killed and permanently injured in Afghanistan, and
frankly, we're not sure if it's to help infuse democracy and human rights so
desperately needed in that country, build roads, schools, return women to
their rightful place in their own society, - and/or searching for Bin
Laden, or unknowingly aiding Haliburton complete the natural gas pipeline to
a huge consumer base in China.
As an averagely intelligent and curious person, I marvel at microscopic
images of dust particles from the surface of Mars, and photos from Hubble
that show images and light from a mere 300,000 years after the Universe
began - and once in a while watch to see if the much touted "String Theory"
of our very make up is unravelling - and yet, we can't find one very
recognizable and infamous person in a cave?
As a Canadian, I am concerned that our Prime Minister, Stephen Harper, a
very right wing man to be sure, is meeting with Blair and Bush. The
ramifications of this are suspect at best, and frightful at worst. Is Harper
going to "offer" more support in the form of thousands of young men and
women in the Iraq mess? Is he going to justify such a move using our latest
"terror threat" in Toronto? A few months ago, more than a dozen men of
middle eastern origin, and Muslims to boot, were arrested in a major
security operation that apparently uncovered explosives and a plot to blow
up strategic locations in the province. Given all the lame answers from the
9/11 Commission, and the unanswered ones uncovered from every direction and
source that pose there may be more of a threat emanating from right here
within our own political agendas than a cave in Afghanistan or a country
filled with weapons of mass distraction - it's difficult not to think that
the arrests in Toronto had more to do with political grandstanding and chest
pounding that will result in a deeper grab into the tax coffers for beefed
up security, and as an excuse for sending more young men and women to their
deaths. It's hard not to be skeptical.
As a man who's "religious" beliefs border on more spiritual doctrine than
ritual (I prefer to subscribe to Good Orderly Direction), of course it's
frustrating to think that anyone, Christian or Muslim, in this day and age
(omg, I'm becoming my grandfather....) think that whatever force is
responsible for creating life, could possibly sanction the wholesale
slaughter of any life at all. It would seem that life is about moving
forward, evolving, and creating. How many ingenious ideas, medicines, tools
etc., that would further our journey in the Universe, have met their demise
in a hail of bullets or shrapnel?
Therein lies the crux of my lyrics - the outrageous scenarios we see played
out everywhere on this beautiful planet. From brainwashed young men in
destitute circumstances in third world countries, to the wealthiest of
leaders, both political and religious. All touting "Writings of Holy Men",
that I would think was intended originally to move mankind (and womankind of
course...) forward, not purposely to our demise.
UNEMPLOYMENT AMONG RECENT VETERANS DROPS SHARPLY
The 7% figure now matches the rest of the U.S. population, federal statistics show. But the youngest veterans still lag.
By Alan Zarembo, Los Angeles Times, July 23, 2013
Unemployment among recent veterans has fallen sharply and now is the same as for the rest of the U.S. population, hovering just above 7%, new federal statistics show.
The figures suggest that a vexing and stubborn trend of higher joblessness among veterans who left the military after September 2001 has been reversed. It now appears that veterans are being hired at a faster rate than non-veterans.
Advocates credited a variety of public and private efforts, including major U.S. corporations beginning to make good on pledges to hire hundreds of thousands of veterans, federal tax incentives for employers and allowances for veterans to receive professional licenses based on their military training.
In the second quarter of this year, average unemployment among post-9/11 veterans was 7.4%, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. That is not statistically different from the rate of 7.2% for non-veterans.
Until recently, the jobless rate among those veterans remained stuck in double digits, even as U.S. unemployment peaked in early 2010 and began to decline.
Read more here.
RAILROADS HIRE MANY VETS RETURNING FROM WAR
By Josh Funk, The Associated Press, May 10, 2013
OMAHA, NEB. -- Mark Major once led a team of soldiers in combat in Iraq. Now he leads a team of railroad employees. The difference, he says, is obvious: "I'm not getting shot at anymore."
But it's the similarities between serving in the military and working for the railroad that draw Major and many other former military members to this type of work.
"For a veteran -- a person who thrives off excitement, a mission and a chain of command -- you tend to seek out companies like that," said Major, who has worked for Union Pacific for about two years.
As thousands of American soldiers return to the civilian workforce after service in Iraq or Afghanistan, many are finding jobs on the nation's rail lines. More than 25 percent of all U.S. railroad workers have served in the military.
Veterans have a long history of railroad work. Civil War veterans, for example, helped complete the transcontinental railroad in the 1860s. But railroad opportunities are especially welcome now because the unemployment rate for recent veterans remains higher than for the rest of the nation.
Major helps manage intermodal freight trains for the railroad in Oakland, Calif. He sought out a railroad job when he was getting ready to leave the military because of the challenges and independence it offered and because he had known other soldiers who went to work for a railroad and liked it.
"I'm infantry," Major said. "The 40-hour workweek, sitting in a cubicle doesn't really appeal."
Read more here.
IRAQ WAR VET PENS 'LAST LETTER' TO BUSH AND CHENEY
By Dylan Stableford, Yahoo! News, March 20, 2013
An Iraq War veteran who joined the U.S. Army two days after 9/11 has written a powerful open letter to former President George W. Bush and ex-Vice President Dick Cheney accusing them of war crimes, "plunder" and "the murder of thousands of young Americans--my fellow veterans--whose future you stole."
Tomas Young, who was shot and paralyzed during an insurgent attack in Sadr City in 2004, five days into his first deployment, penned the letter from his Kansas City, Mo., home, where he's under hospice care.
"I write this letter, my last letter, to you, Mr. Bush and Mr. Cheney," Young wrote in the letter published on Truthdig.com. "I write not because I think you grasp the terrible human and moral consequences of your lies, manipulation and thirst for wealth and power. I write this letter because, before my own death, I want to make it clear that I, and hundreds of thousands of my fellow veterans, along with millions of my fellow citizens, along with hundreds of millions more in Iraq and the Middle East, know fully who you are and what you have done. You may evade justice but in our eyes you are each guilty of egregious war crimes, of plunder and, finally, of murder, including the murder of thousands of young Americans--my fellow veterans--whose future you stole."
Read more here.
WAR VETERANS SAY MEDITATION COULD HELP
By Sebastian Smith, AFP News, February 4, 2013
Meditation might sound an unlikely activity for men trained in killing people and blowing things up in Afghanistan and Iraq.
But US war veterans say meditation could help heal the post-war mental disturbances that afflict a growing number of American soldiers, including possibly the ex-Marine who gunned down the country's most famous sniper over the weekend.
Luke Jensen, a former undercover police officer who fell apart mentally on arrival in Afghanistan, said that after trying to commit suicide in front of his family, he agreed to try transcendental meditation -- and was saved.
"There's a lot of coping methods out there that are offered to our veterans. This needs to be one of them," the heftily built man said in a shaking voice at a meeting of the David Lynch Foundation, which promotes meditation for treating post-traumatic stress disorder.
Jensen said he has since taken a job in the government's Department of Veterans Affairs, helping other stressed out vets. Just two weeks ago, one of those he worked with committed suicide.
Transcendental meditation "needs to be implemented. It needs to be an option," Jensen told the panel in New York.
Read more here.
In this Oct. 10, 2012, photo, musician Julio Fernandez, left, hands a guitar to U.S. Navy Petty Officer Mike Cordes during a class session at Montclair State University in Montclair, N.J.
PROGRAM HELPS VETERANS REINTEGRATE THROUGH MUSIC
By Samantha Henry, Associated Press, December 28, 2012
MONTCLAIR, N.J. -- During stressful times as a combat medic in Afghanistan, Mason Sullivan found solace in Vivaldi. New Jersey native Nairobi Cruz was comforted by country music, a genre she had never heard before joining the Army. For Jose Mercedes, it was an eclectic iPod mix that helped him cope with losing an arm during a tour of duty in Iraq.
These three young veterans all say music played a crucial role in alleviating the stresses of active duty. Now, all three are enrolled in a program that hopes to use music to ease their reintegration into civilian life.
Read more here.
COLLEGES OFFER VETERANS CLASSES TO EASE TRANSITION
By Eric Tucker, Associated Press, October 26, 2012
WASHINGTON (AP) -- The students in the Saturday morning class trickle in and, as they introduce themselves around a table, reveal far more intimate biographies than just name and hometown.
One confesses to demons he struggles to control. Another says he's here to find a community. "Forgive me," an Iraq war veteran begins haltingly. "I have to use notes. I have a brain injury."
The students are participants in a veterans writing seminar at George Washington University, where for two days they immerse themselves in the basics of the craft and learn how to plumb for therapeutic and creative purposes their experiences in places like Iraq, Bosnia and Vietnam. The class is a non-credit weekend seminar open to veterans and their relatives, but the university plans to soon adapt the model into a for-credit semester-long course for student veterans.
The seminar is part of a trend of veterans-only courses offered at colleges and universities, part of a concerted effort to cater to a population that tends to be older, more experienced and farther removed from the classroom than traditional undergraduates.
Read more here.
SOLDIER WHO LOST 4 LIMBS BACK IN MICHIGAN HOMETOWN
By Mike Householder, Associated Press, October 4, 2012
VASSAR, Mich. (AP) -- Army Staff Sgt. Travis Mills had been a lot of places since losing his four limbs in Afghanistan. The one place he hadn't been was where people knew him best.
He finally returned to his Michigan hometown this week -- six months after the explosion that cost him his arms and legs -- to serve as the grand marshal of his old high school's homecoming parade.
"I didn't come to Vassar yet, because I wasn't ready for people to see me without my legs. ... Because in Vassar, everybody knows everybody," Mills said in an interview hours before the parade Thursday. "Great town, but I just wasn't comfortable with them seeing me in a wheelchair."
Mills is still undergoing rehabilitation at Walter Reed Medical Center in Washington, D.C. But he's been able to get out and about. In the past few weeks alone, he took part in a 5K benefit walk in New York and celebrated his daughter's first birthday on the base at Fort Bragg, N.C.
His hometown has pulled for him from afar. Hair salons, American Legion posts and many others hosted fundraisers this spring and summer as the small, tight-knit community rallied around him.
Read more here.
MORE INJURED VETERANS SEEK REHABILITATION THROUGH SPORTS, COMPETE IN LONDON PARALYMPICS
By Kelly Zhou, TakePart, August 27, 2012
On a September day in Afghanistan last year, Lt. Brad Snyder was running to help a group of fellow servicemen who had been struck by an improvised explosive device.
As he ran, a second IED buried in the dirt exploded -- and Snyder ended up losing the sight in both of his eyes.
Exactly a year later, on Sept. 7, Snyder will compete for a gold medal in the London Paralympic Games, an international celebration of athleticism.
Snyder, who took up swimming after his injury to help with rehabilitation, reflects much of the spirit of the Paralympic movement.
"The Paralympic movement really originated from injured service members and veterans, post WWII," Charlie Huebner, chief of Paralympics for the U.S. Olympic Committee, said to TakePart. "Injured veterans using physical activity as a part of rehabilitation is really how it began."
In 1948, a doctor in Great Britain was tasked with finding better ways to treat soldiers and civilians with disabilities.
Dr. Ludwig Guttman started a competition for athletes with spinal cord injuries at Stoke Mandeville Hospital. At the time, the Stoke Mandeville Games were comprised of British athletes competing in archery, but the competition has evolved into a global event boasting hundreds of international atheltes and a wide range of sports.
"The Paralympic movement in the United States is honestly in its infancy," Huebner said. "The movement continues to grow throughout the world."
The Paralympics, which arrive in London on Aug. 29, are less publicized than the Olympic Games, but the stories of the athletes competing are just as inspiring. In just a few days, about 4,200 athletes with disabilities from 160 countries will descend upon the capital -- more than in any other Paralympic Games thus far.
Read more here.
Gregory Buckley Sr. and Marina Buckley gripped the flags on Saturday at the burial of their son Lance Cpl. Gregory T. Buckley Jr. of the Marines, on Long Island. He was the 1,990th service member killed as the death toll made its way to 2,000.
IN TOLL OF 2,000, NEW PORTRAIT OF AFGHAN WAR
By James Dao and Andrew W. Lehren, New York Times, August 21, 2012
His war was almost over. Or so Marina Buckley thought when her son Lance Cpl. Gregory T. Buckley Jr. told her that he would be returning from southern Afghanistan to his Marine Corps base in Hawaii in late August, three months early.
Instead, Lance Corporal Buckley became the 1,990th American service member to die in the war when, on Aug. 10, he and two other Marines were shot inside their base in Helmand Province by a man who appears to have been a member of the Afghan forces they were training.
A week later, with the death of Specialist James A. Justice of the Army at a military hospital in Germany, the United States military reached 2,000 dead in the nearly 11-year-old conflict, based on an analysis by The New York Times of Department of Defense records. The calculation by The Times includes deaths not only in Afghanistan but also in Pakistan and other nations where American forces are directly involved in aiding the war.
Nearly nine years passed before American forces reached their first 1,000 dead in the war. The second 1,000 came just 27 months later, a testament to the intensity of fighting prompted by President Obama's decision to send 33,000 additional troops to Afghanistan in 2010, a policy known as the surge.
Read more here.
US VETS MIX REGRET, DETACHMENT ON IRAQ VIOLENCE
By Julie Watson, Associated Press, posted August 9, 2012
SAN DIEGO (AP) -- Just months after the U.S. military departed, violence in Iraq is increasing. Hundreds of people have died in recent weeks in bombings and drive-by shootings, some claimed by al-Qaida insurgents.
How do the U.S. troops who fought in Iraq for nearly nine years, and in December completed withdrawing from what was supposed to be an emerging democracy, view the turmoil? What do they feel it means to the legacy of their time on the ground? Associated Press reporters who cover military bases and communities in the U.S. asked some of those veterans.
More than 1.5 million Americans served in the Iraq War, and these are just a handful of voices from among those ranks, offering a range of perspectives. Some worry the sacrifices may have been for nothing. Others have put all news of Iraq behind them as they focus on their civilian lives. Some take a long view and say history has yet to decide the war's outcome. Here are their views.
Former Marine Lance Cpl. Andrew Rothlein, from League City, Texas, fought in a unit in Fallujah in 2004, going building to building hunting insurgent snipers in one of the bloodiest battles of the war. He joined the Marines fresh out of high school, emboldened to do something for his country after the 9/11 terror attacks. He left the service six years ago and Iraq's unrest this year leaves him wondering why nearly 4,500 American military members died in the war.
"What did we lose our lives for?" Rothlein asks. "We never really saw justice. Sure we took out Saddam but none of the other lives needed to be lost. Iraq's not free. Afghanistan is not free. They're still basically at the same stage as they were when we went in."
Read more here.
FOR TOO MANY VETERANS, THE ULTIMATE DEFEAT
By Phil Stewart, Reuters, July 26, 2012
CHAMPION, Ohio (Reuters) - On a warm summer afternoon in Champion, Ohio, Michael Ecker, a 25-year-old Iraq war veteran, called out to his father from a leafy spot in their backyard. Then, as the two stood steps apart, Michael saluted, raised a gun to his head and pulled the trigger.
"His eyes rolled back," his father, Matt, said softly as he recounted the 2009 suicide. "There was just nothing I could do."
Weeks before he killed himself, Michael received a letter from the Department of Veterans Affairs accusing him of "over-reporting" the extent of his psychiatric problems. It was the culmination of a long struggle that Ecker, diagnosed with post-traumatic stress disorder and traumatic brain injury related to his service, had waged since returning home from the war to try to hold down a steady job, obtain VA disability benefits and resume a life as close to normal as possible.
"I've often thought about finding that doctor and saying, 'Over-reporting?!' and giving him the death certificate," Matt Ecker said.
About once every half hour in America, a veteran within the VA healthcare system tries to commit suicide, according to VA figures for fiscal year 2011.
Read more here.
THEY LOADED MORTARS IN THE WAR, SO NOW WHAT?
By Pauline Jelinek, Associated Press, July 25, 2012
WASHINGTON (AP) -- U.S. combat troops patrol dusty pathways in Afghanistan, look for hidden roadside bombs, load and fire mortar shells at insurgents' positions. So when they come home, how will that help them land a civilian job?
They can "be a mercenary," muses Capt. John Rodriguez, who'll leave the Army soon after six years.
That's the kind of thinking the government wants to change, both among American employers and members of the armed forces. In fact, the skills troops use in combat can be useful for many types of civilian jobs, but employers often don't understand them and people leaving the military need help with presenting those skills or developing new ones.
Rodriguez was attending a recent resume-writing class, part of the Transition Assistance Program, which is run by the departments of Defense, Labor and Veteran Affairs to help soldiers, sailors, airmen and Marines successfully make the transition back to the civilian world.
Read more here.
In a July 2, 2012 photo, Army veteran Chester Dixon, right, works with William Moore, Georgia Department of Labor veterans representative, to apply for a a new skills-based program to get out-of-work veterans trained and back in the job market in Atlanta.
THOUSANDS OF VETERANS SIGN UP FOR JOB EDUCATION
By Ashley Hopkinson, Associated Press, July 5, 2012
ATLANTA (AP) -- Unemployed veterans may be heading back to school in mass under a federal program to get out-of-work veterans trained and back in the job market.
Officials at the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs say there has been an enormous response to a new skills-based program that pays for up to a year of education toward an associate degree or a non-college-degree or certificate.
In fewer than seven weeks since the VA began accepting applications for the Veteran Retraining Assistance Program (VRAP), 27,080 unemployed veterans have applied. That's more than half the maximum amount the VRAP program will allow in its first year, VA spokesman Randal Noller said this week.
The VA introduced the program on May 15 and received 12,000 applications within the first two weeks of the announcement. But while the response is encouraging, Noller said they will continue to promote the program until every slot is filled.
Read more here.
AMONG POST-9/11 VETERANS, DEEPENING ANTIWAR SENTIMENT
by Gloria Goodale, Christian Science Monitor, May 26, 2012
Despite the end of the Iraq war and the scheduled drawdown in Afghanistan, this Memorial Day arrives against a backdrop of deepening - and some say more troublesome - antiwar sentiment among military veterans.
U.S. war veterans raise their hands in solidarity after throwing their medals towards the site of the NATO Summit in Chicago May 20, 2012.
One of the most vivid and replayed images of protesters at the NATO summit last weekend in Chicago was a group of some 40 vets lined up to toss their war medals over the chain-link fence to protest what former naval officer Leah Bolger calls "the illegal wars of both NATO and America."
According to a recent Pew Research Center study, 33 percent of post-9/11 veterans say that neither the war in Iraq nor the war in Afghanistan was "worth the cost," and this among a highly motivated cohort who chose to serve.
What this means, says retired US Army Col. Ann Wright, who resigned from a State Department post in 2006 over US policies in Iraq, is that there is a widening gap between the government, military policies, and the soldiers that carry them out.
"Military personnel know America will always have a military, but there is growing concern over the way it is being used," says the 29-year veteran, adding that an increasing list of concerns include "the use of torture, illegal detentions, and both soldiers and the public being lied to about the actual reasons for going into combat."
But in contrast to the extremely vocal and visible antiwar movements of the Vietnam War era, many veterans in the all-volunteer military have found it harder to mobilize effective actions, says Cameron White, a former marine who served two tours in Iraq before joining "Iraq Veterans Against the War."
Read more here
ALMOST HALF OF NEW VETS SEEK DISABILITY
by Marilynn Marchione, AP Chief Medical Writer, May 27, 2012
America's newest veterans are filing for disability benefits at a historic rate, claiming to be the most medically and mentally troubled generation of former troops the nation has ever seen.
A staggering 45 percent of the 1.6 million veterans from the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan are now seeking compensation for injuries they say are service-related. That is more than double the estimate of 21 percent who filed such claims after the Gulf War in the early 1990s, top government officials told The Associated Press.
Army Pfc. Kevin Trimble, 19, adjusts his myoelectric upper limb prosthetic for occupational therapy at the Center for the Intrepid at Brooke Army Medical Center in San Antonio.
What's more, these new veterans are claiming eight to nine ailments on average, and the most recent ones over the last year are claiming 11 to 14. By comparison, Vietnam veterans are currently receiving compensation for fewer than four, on average, and those from World War II and Korea, just two.
It's unclear how much worse off these new veterans are than their predecessors. Many factors are driving the dramatic increase in claims -- the weak economy, more troops surviving wounds, and more awareness of problems such as concussions and PTSD. Almost one-third have been granted disability so far.
Government officials and some veterans' advocates say that veterans who might have been able to work with certain disabilities may be more inclined to seek benefits now because they lost jobs or can't find any. Aggressive outreach and advocacy efforts also have brought more veterans into the system, which must evaluate each claim to see if it is war-related. Payments range from $127 a month for a 10 percent disability to $2,769 for a full one.
As the nation commemorates the more than 6,400 troops who died in post-9/11 wars, the problems of those who survived also draw attention. These new veterans are seeking a level of help the government did not anticipate, and for which there is no special fund set aside to pay.
Read more here
US MILITARY SUICIDES HIGH EVEN AS WARS WIND DOWN
The military has finally admitted to the problem, but hasn't been able to curb the deaths
Michael Moran, Global Post, February 10, 2012
Even as the wars of Iraq and Afghanistan wind down, the US military remains embroiled in what seems to be a losing battle: the fight against the growing number of suicides by active duty troops, and Iraq or Afghanistan veterans.
Statistics on Iraq and Afghanistan veterans, obtained in 2011 through a Freedom of Information Act request by a San Francisco newspaper, found that more than 2,200 soldiers died within two years of leaving the service, and about half had been undergoing treatment for post-traumatic stress or other combat-induced mental disorders at the time.
Senior commanders concede that during some recent years, more American veterans of the Iraq and Afghanistan wars have died of their own hand than through contact with the enemy.
In the wake of previous wars, the stigma attached to suicides led the military to downplay the problem, particularly in the ranks of the US Army and Marine Corps, where grueling ground combat often took the heaviest psychological toll.
While the services still struggle to prevent such tragedies, this time, at least, they have taken steps to address the issue. One of the few detailed independent studies of the problem, by the Center for New American Security, a Washington-based think tank, gave the Army credit for designing early warning and intervention programs that may well have prevented an even bigger death toll.
Peter Chiarelli, a four-star general who has seen more than his share of war, ran the Army's suicide prevention efforts until his retirement last week from the Army's second-highest post, vice chief of staff. Back in 1972, when Chiarelli was commissioned as a second lieutenant in the US Army, the service was embarking on the long, difficult process of extricating itself both physically and psychologically from the Vietnam War.
Now, forty years later, the army once again is consumed with winding down complex, frustrating deployments -- this time in Iraq, which it left last month, and Afghanistan, where it aims to leave by the end of 2014.
The irony was not lost on Chiarelli, who spent his final two years in the service tending to soldiers psychologically scarred by the multiple deployments and harsh realities of the "wars of 9/11," overseeing the Army's Suicide Prevention Program, an initiative to identify at-risk soldiers and raise awareness of post-traumatic stress disorder, or PTSD.
I met Chiarelli last year at Washington, DC's official commemoration of the 10th anniversary of the 9/11 attacks. The general was on a panel about resilience, the theme of the conference. As much as everyone wanted to focus on the towers and the first responders who perished that day a decade ago, Chiarelli's focus was pitched forward.
"One of the things that's going to test our mettle is going to be our ability to focus on (injuries) after the wars' end," he said.
Chiarelli led the Army's 1st Cavalry Division through two bloody deployments in Iraq -- losing some 635 troops along the way. The general then devoted his final two years in uniform to eliminating the lingering stigma of war's psychological toll -- PTSD.
But there's been no dent made in the near-epidemic suicide rates since the wars after 9/11 began.
Statistics for 2011 released last month indicate that the Army and National Guard and Reserves lost 164 active-duty troops to suicide, compared with 159 in 2010 and 162 in 2009, the figures reported. That doesn't include Navy, Marine Corps and Air Force active-duty suicides -- which are reported differently and not easy to intermingle with the Army's figures.
Veterans groups say that suicides among those who have left the military add up to 200 extra deaths a year, depending on how such tragedies are classified.
For five years, beginning in 2005, a service member died by suicide every 36 hours, according to the report by the Center for New American Security.
The report found that US Army suicides climbed steadily since 2004, and in the Marine Corps, the rate increased from 2006 to 2009, though it dipped slightly in 2010.
And while it said it was "impossible," given the lack of data, to accurately determine the number of veterans that have killed themselves, the report said that the Department of Veterans Affairs estimated that a veteran dies by suicide every 80 minutes.
The difficulty of accurately tracking and classifying those who take their own lives after leaving the military -- let alone tracing the causes back to combat -- are legion.
VA figures obtained by an advocacy group for combat soldiers, Veterans for Common Sense, indicate that the incidence of suicide is far more likely among those deployed to a war zone, those identified as afflicted with PTSD, as well as those who divorce while overseas or are abusing drugs or alcohol.
"If there's anything this experience has taught me, it's that we simply do not know enough about the human brain to diagnose and treat these symptoms effectively," Chiarelli told me in September.
"I'm afraid we may have to be satisfied in this war with merely treating symptoms -- especially removing any stigma that still exists that prevents someone from seeking treatment. But some of the causes of suicide, even the best neuroscientists in the world will tell you, remain a deep mystery."
Soldiers from the 3rd Brigade Combat Team, 1st Cavalry Division stand in line to pack their weapons for shipment back to the United States. The Division was the last U.S. Military unit to depart Iraq.
photo: REUTERS/Lucas Jackson
LAST U.S. TROOPS LEAVE IRAQ, ENDING WAR
by Joseph Logan, Reuters, December 19, 2011
K-CROSSING, Kuwait (Reuters) - The last convoy of U.S. soldiers pulled out of Iraq on Sunday, ending nearly nine years of war that cost almost 4,500 American and tens of thousands of Iraqi lives, and left a country grappling with political uncertainty.
The war launched in March 2003 with missiles striking Baghdad to oust President Saddam Hussein closes with a fragile democracy still facing insurgents, sectarian tensions and the challenge of defining its place in an Arab region in turmoil.
As U.S. soldiers pulled out, Iraq's delicate power-sharing deal for , Sunni and Kurdish factions was already under pressure. The Shi'ite-led government asked parliament to fire the Sunni deputy prime minister, and security sources said the Sunni vice president faced an arrest warrant.
The final column of around 100 mostly U.S. military MRAP armoured vehicles carrying 500 U.S. troops trundled across the southern Iraq desert from their last base through the night and daybreak along an empty highway to the Kuwaiti border.
Honking their horns, the last batch of around 25 American military trucks and tractor trailers carrying Bradley fighting vehicles crossed the border early on Sunday morning, their crews waving at fellow troops along the route.
"I just can't wait to call my wife and kids and let them know I am safe," Sgt. First Class Rodolfo Ruiz said as the border came into sight. Soon afterwards, he told his men the mission was over, "Hey guys, you made it."
For U.S. President Barack Obama, the military pullout is the fulfilment of an election promise to bring troops home from a conflict inherited from his predecessor, the most unpopular war since Vietnam and one that tainted America's standing worldwide.
Read more here.
END THE WAR, TAX THE RICH,
WE'RE THE 99%,
OCCUPY WALL STREET
October 15, 2011
Video by Clinica Estetico.
Shot by Jonathan Demme, edited by Shane Bissett.
COVER OF NEIL YOUNG CLASSIC "OHIO" TO BE RELEASED
October 13, 20011
Kent, Ohio musician Ryan Kralik, and Josh Hisle announced that they are releasing a cover single of the CSNY classic "Ohio" that features collaborations with musicians Rick Rosas, Dave Krusen, and Keith Lowe.
You can preview and download the single here at iTunes.
PORTRAITS OF THE FALLEN
May 18, 2011
An artist named Kaziah Hancock paints portraits of fallen soldiers free of charge for their families as part of Project Compassion.
Video by KARE 11/ Minneapolis/ St. Paul.
When OHIO was written 40 years ago it was a thing done on instinct. I felt moved to do it and I'm glad I had Crosby Stills and Nash there with me. 40 years later I feel the same way. It was all just too real and that hasn't changed. To those who knew the 4 and survived to see today, I say peace and love be with you.
WHAT I LOST AT KENT STATE
by Elaine Holstein
(from the Philadelphia Inquirer)
On Tuesday, it will be 40 years since my son Jeff was shot and killed on the campus of his college. He and three of his classmates were murdered by the National Guard at an antiwar demonstration at Kent State.
During a 13-second fusillade of rifle fire, Jeff, Allison Krause, Sandy Scheuer, and Bill Schroeder were killed and nine of their fellow students were wounded.
The students who had gathered that day - all unarmed - held a large range of opinions about the seemingly endless war in Vietnam.
Some, including Jeff, objected intensely to the increasing escalation of a war that had begun when they were barely in their teens. In fact, Jeff had written a poem about the war titled "Where Does It End?" in February 1966, shortly before he turned 16.
Others in the crowd had mixed feelings. Some were just onlookers. Some, like Sandy, were on their way to their next class.
And so, May 4, 1970, became one of the blackest days in the history of our country.
It was the day I not only lost my child but also lost my innocence.
I could no longer take on faith what I had been taught all my life about my "constitutional rights," the rights that supposedly made our country different from so many others.
The decade that followed was filled for me with grief, anger, disillusionment, and lawsuits. At the end of our legal battles, we were pressured by the judge and by our lawyers into accepting a settlement in which the parents of the dead students discovered that their sons' and daughters' lives were worth a mere $15,000 each.
It was never about the money for me. I wanted an admission of culpability, and more than that, I wanted an assurance that no mother would ever again have to bury a child for simply exercising the freedom of speech. But all we got was a watered-down statement that better ways must be found, etc., etc.
I also discovered what I perhaps should have known already: that so many of my compatriots did not feel as I did. They believed that the students who were killed or wounded got what they deserved and, as I heard far too often, the National Guard "should have killed more of them." And now - 40 years later - those wounded students are almost senior citizens.
Jeff, however, remains in my memory forever as that bright, funny, passionate 20-year-old.
I have spent 40 years watching my son Russ, Jeff's big brother, grow older. I've valued (perhaps more than I would have if Jeff had not died) the close, satisfying relationship we share.
I've had the great joy of seeing my grandchildren, Jeff (yes, another Jeff Miller) and Jamie, evolve from cute little children into a couple of the most admirable adults I know. I've danced at their weddings and have been made happy by their happiness.
But, once in a while, I wonder about my son Jeff's future, which had so needlessly been cut short.
What would he have been like now at age 60? What sort of career would he have had? Would he have married? And what about those other grandchildren that my husband and I might have enjoyed? Now, as I watch the news on TV each night, I deplore the increasing ugliness of politics, and I'm afraid. I know too well what can happen when hatred takes over.
Please, let us lower the volume and be civil toward one another. For Jeff's sake. And for all of ours.
40 YEARS SINCE 4 DEAD IN OHIO: Kent State Massacre Remembered
The Four Dead in Ohio
Allison Krause - Age: 19, 110 Yards
On Monday, May 4, 1970 at 12:24 PM, twenty-eight Ohio National Guardsmen began shooting into a crowd of student anti-war protesters at Kent State University. In thirteen seconds, the guardsmen had fired sixty-seven rounds and four students lay dead.
William Schroeder - Age: 19, 130 Yards
Jeffrey Miller - Age: 20, 90 Yards
Sandra Scheuer - Age: 20, 130 Yards
Immediately after the Kent State shooting (sometimes referred to as the "Kent State Massacre"), Neil Young composed the song "Ohio" after looking at photos appearing in Life magazine. Crosby, Stills, Nash, and Young went to the studio and recorded the song which was released to radio stations shortly after the killings. Soon, the lyrics "Four dead in Ohio" became an anthem to a generation.
In the liner notes of the Decade album, Neil wrote:
"It's still hard to believe I had to write this song. It's ironic that I capitalized on the death of these American students. Probably the most important lesson ever learned at an American place of learning. David Crosby cried after this take."
There is more, including photos, audio, and videos, at: thrasherswheat.org.
This Just In From Canada.
Follow The Link And Give What You Can.
Peace, -- LWW
'We Are All One Nation (in God's Eyes)'
- Brian Moniz
U.S. ARMY SUICIDES SET TO HIT NEW HIGH IN 2009
by Phil Stewart, Reuters, 11/17/09
- Army suicide rate nearly double U.S. national rate
- Many suicides among soldiers who never fought abroad
- U.S. military not near tipping point, top officer says
WASHINGTON - Suicides in the U.S. Army will hit a new high this year, a top general said on Tuesday in a disclosure likely to increase concerns about stress on U.S. forces ahead of an expected buildup in Afghanistan.
The findings, released as President Barack Obama inches toward a decision to send up to 40,000 additional troops to Afghanistan, show the number of active-duty suicides so far in 2009 has already matched last year's record of 140 deaths.
"We are almost certainly going to end the year higher than last year," General Peter Chiarelli, the Army's vice chief of staff, told a Pentagon briefing.
"This is horrible, and I do not want to downplay the significance of these numbers in any way."
Another 71 soldiers committed suicide after being taken off active duty in 2009 -- nearly 25 percent more than the end-year total for 2008. Some had returned home only weeks before taking their own lives.
The figures applied only to the U.S. Army. Data from other branches of the armed services was not immediately available.
Chiarelli cautioned against generalizing about the causes of the suicides, or assuming links to combat stress on forces stretched thin by the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.
He said the causes were still unclear and noted that roughly a third of the soldiers who took their own lives had never been deployed abroad.
The Army recently revealed that about one in five lower rank soldiers suffered mental health problems like depression.
The latest data and this month's shooting spree at a base in Fort Hood, Texas attributed to an Army psychiatrist have raised new questions about the effects of combat stress and the state of the military's mental health system.
The top U.S. military officer said on Tuesday deployments were still manageable even though troops would be operating in a "stress window for the next couple of years."
"I certainly don't underestimate, or I would not want to understate the seriousness of the stress issue," Admiral Mike Mullen, chairman of the U.S. military's Joint Chiefs of Staff, told a gathering of business leaders in Washington.
The Army has announced it would take a "hard look" at itself to discover how accused shooter Major Nidal Malik Hasan, who is charged with killing 13 people in the Nov. 5 rampage, slipped through the cracks.
President Barack Obama has said he would hold to account those who missed warning signs, which U.S. officials say included Hasan's communications with an anti-American cleric in Yemen sympathetic to al Qaeda.
As the largest branch of the U.S. armed forces with 1.1 million active duty and reserve soldiers, the Army has done the brunt of the fighting in Iraq and Afghanistan, including years of extended duty and repeated deployments.
In 2008, there were 268 active-duty suicides across the U.S. armed forces, most in the Army.
The military's suicide rate among active-duty soldiers was about 20 per 100,000, nearly double the national U.S. rate of 11.1 suicides per 100,000 people, as reported by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
Chiarelli said the Army was investigating whether stress related to a future deployment could be a factor in the deaths of soldiers yet to be sent abroad. He said a study being carried out in conjunction with the National Institute of Mental Health could shed some light. (Editing by Alan Elsner)
AFTER COMBAT, VICTIMS OF AN INNER WAR
SUICIDE'S RISING TOLL
by Erica Goode, New York Times, 08/01/09
Sgt. Jacob Blaylock, seated left, one of four in his Guard unit to commit suicide, at the grave of Sgt. Brandon Wallace. Photo: Clinton Gill
Sgt. Jacob Blaylock flipped on the video camera he had set up in a trailer at the Tallil military base, southeast of Baghdad.
He lit a cigarette, inhaled deeply, blew the smoke upward.
"Hey, it's Jackie," he said. "It's the 20th of April. We go home in six days. I lost two good friends on the 14th. I'm having a hard time dealing with it."
For almost a year, the soldiers of the 1451st Transportation Company had been escorting trucks full of gasoline, building materials and other supplies along Iraq's dark, dangerous highways. There had been injuries, but no one had died.
Their luck evaporated less than two weeks before they were to return home, in the spring of 2007. A scout truck driving at the front of a convoy late at night hit a homemade bomb buried in the asphalt. Two soldiers, Sgt. Brandon Wallace and Sgt. Joshua Schmit, were killed.
The deaths stunned the unit, part of the North Carolina National Guard. The two men were popular and respected -- "big personalities," as one soldier put it. Sergeant Blaylock, who was close to both men, seemed especially shaken. Sometime earlier, feeling the strain of riding the gunner position in the exposed front truck, he had switched places with Sergeant Wallace, moving to a Humvee at the rear.
"It was supposed to be me," he would tell people later.
The losses followed the men and women of the 1451st home as they dispersed to North Carolina and Tennessee, New York and Oklahoma, reuniting with their families and returning to their jobs.
Sergeant Blaylock went back to Houston, where he tried to pick up the pieces of his life and shape them into a whole. But grief and guilt trailed him, combining with other stresses: financial troubles, disputes with his estranged wife over their young daughter, the absence of the tight group of friends who had helped him make it through 12 months of war.
On Dec. 9, 2007, Sergeant Blaylock, heavily intoxicated, lifted a 9-millimeter handgun to his head during an argument with his girlfriend and pulled the trigger. He was 26.
"I have failed myself," he wrote in a note found later in his car. "I have let those around me down."
Over the next year, three more soldiers from the 1451st -- Sgt. Jeffrey Wilson, First Sgt. Roger Parker and Specialist Skip Brinkley -- would take their own lives. The four suicides, in a unit of roughly 175 soldiers, make the company an extreme example of what experts see as an alarming trend in the years since the invasion of Iraq.
Read more here.
52% OF WOUNDED U.S. SOLDIERS DIAGNOSED WITH TBI
from The Mainichi (Japan) Daily News, 07/23/09
Washington - Some 52 percent of soldiers severely injured in Iraq and Afghanistan who have come to the U.S. Army's largest hospital for treatment have been diagnosed with traumatic brain injuries (TBI), an internal study has found.
The results of the study, carried out by Defense and Veterans Brain Injury Center (DVBIC) at Walter Reed Army Medical Center, also showed a steep increase - from 33 percent - in TBI cases since the end of 2008.
Army Sgt. Ryan Kahlor returned from two combat tours in Iraq with a post-traumatic brain injury.
(Photo: Rick Loomis / Los Angeles Times)
Diagnoses of TBI are rising steadily as arrangements for TBI checks improve, while at the same time improvised explosive device (IED) attacks - the primary cause of TBI - in Afghanistan are intensifying, with 46 U.S. soldiers killed by the homemade bombs so far this year. Casualties from these attacks flow into Walter Reed, which provides treatment to badly wounded soldiers unavailable anywhere else.
According to DVBIC at Walter Reed, since January 2003 - just before the beginning of the Iraq War - 52 percent of soldiers wounded in Iraq and Afghanistan by bombs and treated at the hospital have been diagnosed with TBI. According to figures uncovered by the Mainichi, this would mean the number of diagnosed TBI cases has risen to well over 10,000 since the end of 2008, when the figure stood around 9,100. Furthermore, in more than 90 percent of those diagnosed with TBI, the patient had no visible head injuries.
On the battlefield, TBI is caused by the supersonic shockwave produced by an explosion - often from an IED - which damages or destroys brain cells. A soldier caught in the blast may not even know he or she has been injured.
The U.S. Department of Defense began conducting cognitive ability tests on all military personnel to be deployed to Iraq or Afghanistan in November 2007. The servicemen and women who took the tests began returning from their combat tours early this year, allowing for greater chances of discovering a TBI and probably leading to the increased numbers of diagnosed cases.
The Department of Defense estimated in March this year that the final tally of TBI cases would reach 10 to 20 percent of all personnel deployed to Iraqi and Afghani battlefields.
VETS' MENTAL HEALTH DIAGNOSES RISING
by James Dao, New York Times, 07/16/09
A new study has found that more than one-third of Iraq and Afghanistan war veterans who enrolled in the veterans health system after 2001 received a diagnosis of a mental health problem, most often post-traumatic stress disorder or depression.
The study by researchers at the San Francisco Department of Veterans Affairs Medical Center and the University of California, San Francisco, also found that the number of veterans found to have mental health problems rose steadily the longer they were out of the service.
The study, released Thursday, was based on the department health records of 289,328 veterans involved in the two wars who used the veterans health system for the first time from April 1, 2002, to April 1, 2008.
The researchers found that 37 percent of those people received mental health diagnoses. Of those, the diagnosis for 22 percent was post-traumatic stress disorder, or PTSD, for 17 percent it was depression and for 7 percent it was alcohol abuse. One-third of the people with mental health diagnoses had three or more problems, the study found.
The increase in diagnoses accelerated after the invasion of Iraq in 2003, the researchers found. Among the group of veterans who enrolled in veterans health services during the first three months of 2004, 14.6 percent received mental health diagnoses after one year. But after four years, the number had nearly doubled, to 27.5 percent.
The study's principal author, Dr. Karen H. Seal, attributed the rising number of diagnoses to several factors: repeat deployments; the perilous and confusing nature of war in Iraq and Afghanistan, where there are no defined front lines; growing public awareness of PTSD; unsteady public support for the wars; and reduced troop morale.
Dr. Seal said the study also underscored that it can take years for PTSD to develop. "The longer we can work with a veteran in the system, the more likely there will be more diagnoses over time," said Dr. Seal, who is co-director of the mental health clinic for Iraq and Afghanistan veterans at the San Francisco veterans medical center.
The new report joins a growing body of research showing that the prolonged conflicts, where many troops experience long and repeat deployments, are taking an accumulating psychological toll.
A telephone survey by the RAND Corporation last year of 1,965 people who had been deployed to Iraq or Afghanistan found that 14 percent screened positive for PTSD and 14 percent for major depression. Those rates are considerably higher than for the general public.
"The study provides more insight as to just how stressed our force and families are after years of war and multiple deployments," said Rene A. Campos, deputy director of government relations for the Military Officers Association of America. "Our troops and families need more time at home -- more dwell time, fewer and less frequent deployments."
The study was posted Thursday on the Web site of The American Journal of Public Health.
Dr. Seal cautioned that, unlike the RAND study, the results from her research could not be extrapolated to the roughly 1.6 million veterans who have served in Iraq or Afghanistan because about 60 percent of them were not receiving health care through the veterans system.
But she noted that the number of Iraq and Afghanistan war veterans receiving care through the veterans system was at a historic high, 40 percent, potentially making the study's results more universal.
The study also found that veterans older than 40 with the National Guard or the Reserves were more likely to develop PTSD and substance abuse disorders than those under 25. A possible reason, Dr. Seal said, is that older reservists go to war from established civilian lives, with families and full-time jobs, making combat trauma potentially more difficult to absorb.
"It's the disparity between their lives at home, which they are settled in, and suddenly, without much training, being dropped into this situation," she said.
In contrast, the study found that among active-duty troops, veterans under 25 were more likely to develop PTSD and substance abuse problems than those over 40, possibly because those younger troops were more likely to have been involved in front-line combat, Dr. Seal said.
PATRICK MURPHY DEFENDS OBAMA, VOWS DADT REPEAL
by Jason Linkins, Huffington Post, 07/16/09
Last week, we noted that Pennsylvania Representative and Iraq War veteran Patrick Murphy had assumed the role of chief sponsor for the Military Readiness Enhancement Act, which is the bill that would repeal the longstanding "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" rule forbidding gays and lesbians from serving openly in the military. At the time, Murphy told his constituents, "I have been speaking out against for many years against "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" -- first as an ROTC cadet, then as a professor at West Point, and later as a candidate and a congressman. To now take the lead on such an important piece of legislation is an honor and a privilege beyond words." Yesterday, in a live comment chat on AMERICAblog, Murphy answered questions, and spoke on the matter in greater detail.
Murphy came ready to outline his approach to getting the MREA passed:
"I'm a very aggressive person and we have a multi-tiered plan of attack on this. First, I'm meeting one-on-one with all my colleagues in Congress (especially conservative Democrats and reps in tough districts) on both sides of the aisle. Secondly, we're doing the Voices of Honor Tour going around to hit strategic congressional districts where we can most effect change. If you have an idea for additional places we should visit email me at letthemserve.com. Obviously, I'm working closely with the White House and have been having discussions with the Department of Defense.
"It's hard to nail down a firm timeline at the moment, but it's something I want to happen as soon as possible. The key is making sure we have the votes -- 218 -- to pass it. We're getting closer every day. Today we're at 162 and we're not going to quit until we get it done."
Asked why President Barack Obama hadn't done more with his executive authority to repeal the law (for example such as using his stop-loss powers), Murphy defended the president's approach:
"I think that this is a really tough issue and there have been a lot of calls for the President to do this. I know I mentioned it before, but the President -- to his credit -- seems not to want to ignore standing law that was passed by the Congress.
"We had a saying at West Point "Take the harder right over the easier wrong." The President doesn't want to clearly contradict US law, even though I feel that this law is fundamentally wrong and discriminatory. It shows why Congress needs to change it. We've gotten 16 congressmen and women in the first week to come on board, but we're not stopping until we get the job done. In fact, we just got an additional cosponsor today -- so we're up to 162."
Frankly, as much as I admire the fight in Murphy's belly, I think that when it comes to the elocution of first-order principles for elected officials, Murphy hits this on squarely on the head:
"A lot of folks are asking me if this is in the best interests of my political future, especially considering I only won my first election by 0.6%. But too often in Washington people worry about keeping their own seats safe as compared to doing the right thing and bringing about the change our country needs. So in this matter specifically, national security and equality trump political expediency."
PENTAGON TO ALLOW PHOTOS OF RETURNING WAR DEAD
by Anne Gearan, Huffington Post, 02/26/2009
WASHINGTON -- The Obama administration is reversing an 18-year ban on news coverage of the return of war dead, allowing photographs of flag-covered caskets when families of the fallen troops agree, Defense Secretary Robert Gates said Thursday.
"My conclusion was we should not presume to make the decision for the families," Gates said in announcing results of a quick review of a ban that had stood through Republican and Democratic administrations.
Although details are being worked out, the new policy will give families a choice of whether to admit the press to ceremonies at Dover Air Force Base in Delaware, the entry point to the United States for the caskets of overseas war dead.
President Barack Obama asked for a re-examination of the blanket ban and supports the decision to change it, White House press secretary Robert Gibbs said.
"I have always believed that the decision as to how to honor our fallen heroes should be left up to the families," Vice President Joe Biden said. "The past practice didn't account for a family's wishes and I believed that was wrong."
Critics including some Democrats and liberal groups claim the government was trying to hide the human cost of war by preventing modern versions of an iconic image from long-ago wars: a line of flag-wrapped coffins coming home.
"We should honor, not hide, flag-draped coffins," said Sen. Frank Lautenberg, D-N.J. "They are a symbol of the respect, honor and dignity that our fallen heroes deserve."
Lautenberg had written Obama this month asking him to consider lifting the ban put in place by President George H.W. Bush in 1991, at the time of the Gulf War.
From the start, the ban has been cast as a way to shield grieving families.
Advocates for veterans and military families are split on the issue; some say they want the world to honor fallen troops or see the price of defending the country.
"There has never been a greater disconnect between those who serve in harms warm and those back home," said Paul Rieckhoff, executive director of Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America. "All too often, the sacrifices of our military are hidden from view."
But John Ellsworth, who lost a son in Iraq in 2004, said photographs of the coffins could be used as anti-war propaganda. "It's pretty obvious that the Pentagon did not discuss this with us," said Ellsworth, president of Military Families United.
He said lifting the ban was arbitrary and poorly thought-out. His organization asked, for example, what would happen if different members of the same family disagree on news coverage.
Gates said he is setting up a team to address such questions. It is not clear when the new policy will be fully in effect.
Gates is the only member of Republican President George W. Bush's Cabinet asked to stay in his job under the new Democratic administration. Gates said he was "never comfortable" with the media ban and had looked at lifting it more than a year ago, under the old administration.
Gates said that at the time, he deferred to advisers inside the Pentagon who argued that the prospect of media coverage could be an onus on vulnerable families.
"I was much happier with the answer I got this year," Gates said.
Gates said there remains a division of opinion inside the Pentagon about whether the ban is appropriate. But he dismissed as "ancient history" a question about whether the ban originated as a public relations strategy.
As of Wednesday, at least 4,251 members of the U.S. military had died in the Iraq war since it began in March 2003, according to an Associated Press count.
As of Tuesday, at least 584 members of the U.S. military had died in Afghanistan, Pakistan and Uzbekistan as a result of the U.S. invasion of Afghanistan in late 2001, according to the Defense Department.
Under pressure from open-government advocates, the Pentagon in 2005 released hundreds of the military's own images of flag-draped coffins from the two ongoing wars, previous wars and from military accidents. The photographs were released in response to a Freedom of Information request and lawsuit.
Associated Press writers Pauline Jelinek and Anne Flaherty contributed to this report.
ARMY REPORTS ALARMING SPIKE IN SUICIDES
by Pauline Jelinek, Associated Press, 02/05/2009
WASHINGTON - The Army is investigating an unexplained and stunning spike in suicides in January. The count is likely to surpass the number of combat deaths reported last month by all branches of the armed forces in Iraq, Afghanistan and elsewhere in the fight against terrorism.
"In January, we lost more soldiers to suicide than to al-Qaida," said Paul Rieckhoff, director of the Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America. He urged "bold and immediate action" by the departments of Defense and Veterans Affairs.
According to figures obtained by The Associated Press, there were seven confirmed suicides last month, compared with five a year earlier. An additional 17 cases from January are under investigation.
There was no detailed breakdown available for January, such as the percentage of suicides that occurred in Iraq and Afghanistan or information about the dead. But just one base -- Fort Campbell in Kentucky -- reported that four soldiers killed themselves near the installation, where 14,000 soldiers from the two war have returned from duty since October.
Some Fort Campbell soldiers have done three or four tours of duty in the wars. "They come back and they really need to be in a supportive environment," said Dr. Bret Logan, a commander at the base's Blanchfield Army Community Hospital. "They really need to be nourished back to normalcy because they have been in a very extreme experience that makes them vulnerable to all kinds of problems."
Officials said they did not know what caused the rise in suicides last month and that it often takes time to fully investigate a number of the deaths. "There is no way to know -- we have not identified any particular problem," said Lt. Col. Mike Moose, a spokesman for Army personnel issues.
Yearly suicides have risen steadily since 2004 amid increasing stress on the force from long and repeated tours of duty in Iraq and Afghanistan.
The service has rarely, if ever, released a month-by-month update on suicides. But officials said Thursday they wanted to re-emphasize "the urgency and seriousness necessary for preventive action at all levels" of the force.
The seven confirmed suicides and 17 other suspected suicides in January were far above the toll for most months. Self-inflicted deaths were at 12 or fewer for each of nine months in 2008, Army data showed. The highest monthly number last year was 14 in August.
Usually the vast majority of suspected suicides are eventually confirmed. If that holds true, it would mean that self-inflicted deaths in January surpassed the 16 combat deaths reported last month in all branches of the armed forces in Iraq, Afghanistan and other nations considered part of the global fight against terrorism.
Army leaders took the unusual step of briefing congressional leaders on the information Thursday.
An annual report last week showed that soldiers killed themselves at the highest rate on record in 2008. The toll for all of last year -- 128 confirmed and 15 pending investigation -- was an increase for the fourth straight year. It even surpassed the civilian rate adjusted to reflect the age and gender differences in the military.
"The trend and trajectory seen in January further heightens the seriousness and urgency that all of us must have in preventing suicides," Gen. Peter Chiarelli, the Army's vice chief of staff, said Thursday.
The other services did not immediately provide information on their suicide figures for January. But the Army in the past few years has posted a consistently higher rate of suicides than the Navy, Air Force and Marines as it has carried the largest burden of the two largely ground wars.
In announcing the 2008 figures last week, the Army said it would hold special training from Feb. 15 to March 15 to help troops recognize suicidal behaviors and to intervene if they see such behavior in a buddy. After that, the Army also plans a suicide prevention program for all soldiers from the top of the chain of command down.
Yearly increases in suicides have been recorded since 2004, when there were 64 all year. Officials have said over the years that they found that the most common factors were soldiers suffering problems with their personal relationships, legal or financial issues and problems on the job.
But Army Secretary Pete Geren acknowledged last week that officials have been stumped by the spiraling number of cases.
The relentless rise in suicides has frustrated the service, which has tried to address the issue through additional suicide prevention training, the hiring of more psychiatrists and other mental health staff, and other programs both at home and at the battlefront for troops and their families.
In October, the Army and the National Institute of Mental Health signed an agreement to do a five-year study to identify factors affecting the mental and behavioral health of soldiers and come up with intervention strategies at intervals along the way.
EX-FORT BLISS SOLDIER
by Stephanie Sanchez, El Paso Times, 07/07/2008
Joseph Dwyer was photographed in March 2003 carrying an Iraqi boy who had been injured during fighting. Dwyer died late last month. (Warren Zinn / Army Times)
Former Fort Bliss Army Spc. Joseph Dwyer, whose photograph depicting him carrying a wounded boy to safety during the first days of the ground war in Iraq became a symbol of the U.S. Army, died late last month of an overdose at home in North Carolina, Army officials and police said Sunday.
Officials with the Pinehurst Police Department in North Carolina said no one would be available to talk about the ex-soldier's death until today, but Jean Offutt, a Fort Bliss spokesperson, said Fort Bliss officials were aware of the former soldier's death. The Army Times reported the day Dwyer died that he had apparently taken pills and inhaled the fumes from an aerosol can.
"He was certainly a hero. ... He did have some difficulty dealing with it," Offutt said. She added that Dwyer was treated at Beaumont Army Medical Center. "It is certainly a tragedy."
In 2003, Dwyer returned to Fort Bliss after serving four months in Iraq with the 3rd Squadron of the 7th Cavalry Regiment. A native of Mount Sinai, N.Y., he had joined the Army as a medic two days after the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks, according to El Paso Times archives.
During his tour in Iraq, an Army Times photographer captured Dwyer as he helped a young boy to safety after his family was caught in the crossfire of a battle near Faysaliyah, Iraq. The photo ran in newspapers nationwide, including the El Paso Times.
In October 2005, Dwyer's friends told the El Paso Times he had returned from the war a different person. At first he was a religious man, but then problems including drinking, sniffing inhalants and nightmares started occurring, his friends said. Dwyer suffered from post traumatic stress disorder, or PTSD, they said.
Dwyer was involved an incident in early 2005 in which he crashed his car and said he saw a box he thought was a bomb in the middle of the street, his friends told the El Paso Times. In October 2005, he was arrested for shooting up his East El Paso apartment in which the police SWAT team negotiated with him for more than three hours. No one was hurt.
Offutt said Dwyer's death should make people aware of PTSD symptoms. Details of Dwyer's mental-health history and treatment at Beaumont Army Medical Center were not available Sunday.
"He served his country," Offutt said. "It is unfortunate that these things sometimes happen to soldiers when they return. Our thoughts are with his family, spouse and children."
Valerie Miller Topp, a friend of Dwyer's, said she met him when Dwyer's wife, Matina, was pregnant with their daughter in 2005.
"When I first met him he was heavily medicated. ... He didn't really talk much," she said. "As the pregnancy progressed he began to open up and talk more. They were just a really nice couple."
Miller Topp said Dwyer said the couple moved to North Carolina from El Paso in 2006.
"He (Dwyer) said, 'I just want to go fishing. I don't want anything to do with violence, guns or war. I just want to meet my daughter and go fishing,'" she said.
IS CHANGE COMING?
by Tony Meehan
Music, like books has never been able to change the world alone. Only people and their mass reaction and the unity of that in the celebration of music can and did.
At a time when the masses are for many reasons at their most politically indifferent, it is hard to disagree with Neil's recent comments regarding music and it's role in shaping the world we live in.
There are few protest songs or politically motivated artists in these times. Why? My take is the absolute consumerism that consumes us as a force.
The majority of people are so wrapped up in their own desires to really care about others.
In terms of artists, the irony is that in an age when the distribution of ideology and music is at its most open; it is not being used for political or spiritual communication in the main.
This is in my belief proof that apathy and selfishness and greed and ego have replaced the desire to create art as a political statement.
In the consumerist and uber-capitalist world we now live in, the corporate machine governs, and the successive generations have fallen for it, hook line and sinker.
Musically, most new bands or artists I see today are a reflection of that society; one that desires fame, riches and worst of all 'celebrity' before artistic satisfaction.
The decline of the independent labels that Punk spawned has left us in a musical vacuum. As an internet pioneer, I have always believed that a new wave of music would spread the world, and once more music with a message would inspire people for change.
I still believe that, and have not lost hope that people via music, will create new communities with political agendas that will drive change.
Watch this space. Apathy is our worst enemy.
Love and Peace
4 SOLDIERS KILLED IN BAGHDAD, PUSHING A.P. COUNT TO 4,000 KILLED IN IRAQ
3860 Deaths Since Mission Accomplished
New York Times, 3/24/08
The U.S. military said four American soldiers were killed by a bomb in Baghdad, raising The Associated Press's count of the U.S. death toll in the war to at least 4,000.
GEORGE & DICK'S EXCELLENT ADVENTURE
by David Robb
George W. Bush said recently that American troops fighting in Afghanistan are taking part in an "exciting" and "romantic" adventure.
During a video conference with US military and civilian personnel working and fighting in Afghanistan, Bush said, "I must say, I'm a little envious. If I were slightly younger and not employed here, I think it would be a fantastic experience to be on the front lines of helping this young democracy succeed. It must be exciting for you and in some ways romantic, you know, confronting danger."
Such an immature and foolish statement is particularly galling coming from a guy who in 1968 dodged combat duty in Vietnam by using the influence of his father -- who was then a Congressman representing Texas's 7th District -- to get into the Texas Air National Guard, which was used by the sons of prominent Texas families as a convenient way to be assigned stateside duty during the Vietnam War. Young George Bush scored the minimal points on a qualifying test, but with the help of Lieutenant Governor Ben Barnes, was given one of two remain flying slots in the Guard Unit, which was known as the "champaign unit." At the time there was a waiting list of over 100,000 people trying to get into the Air National Guard. But young George W. Bush didn't think the Vietnam War was "romantic" enough for him. Over 58,000 Americans died in that war, and as many as 5 million Vietnamese were killed in a war that saw more tons of explosives dropped on that tiny country than were dropped by U.S. bombers in all of World War II -- in Europe and Asia combined. Another three million Cambodians also lost their lives when the war and resulting chaos spilled over into their country.
As any combat veteran will tell you, war is not "romantic." It's bloody and brutal. It's only romantic in the movies -- especially in movies that have been sanitized by the Pentagon, as hundreds of films and TV shows have been over the last 50 years. (Film and TV producers who want access to the Pentagon's planes and ships and tanks for their projects have to submit their scripts to the Pentagon, which takes out anything that paints war in a less than "romantic" light.)
On a recent trip to the Richard Nixon Library in Yorba Linda, I came across some correspondence between Nixon and his psychiatrist, Dr. Arnold A. Hutschnecker. In several letters, Hutschenecker urged Nixon to be a man of peace, and long before Rep. Dennis Kucinich had the idea, proposed to Nixon that he establish a "Department of Peace." "Nothing would serve the interest of peace more than the creation of a Department of Peace," Hutschnecker told Nixon in 1959, when Nixon was still Vice President. "Not only would such a move immensely increase the prestige of the country throughout the world, but it would be to the credit of this administration to have created an innovation of historical and far reaching significance. All governments have General Staff, and Strategic Commands for War or Defense. Ours would be the first to have a governmental body to devote part of its efforts to explore and to develop the potentials of peace..."
Nixon, of course, didn't listen to him. When he became president in 1969, Nixon continued the war in Vietnam for another six years -- and several million more lives.
And yet, Nixon still thought of himself as a man of peace. "The greatest honor history can bestow," reads the inscription on Nixon's black granite tombstone in California, "is the title of peacemaker."
In his novel 1984, George Orwell wrote: "War is Peace; Freedom is Slavery; Ignorance is Strength." He could have added: "War is Romantic."
A SONG ALONE
by Neil Young
No one song can change the world. But that doesn't mean it's time to stop singing.
Somewhere on Earth a scientist is alone working. No one knows what he or she is thinking. The secret is just within reach. If I knew that answer I would be singing the song.
This is the age of innovation. Hope matters. But not hope alone. In the age of innovation, the people's fuel must be found. That is the biggest challenge. Who is up to the challenge? Who is searching today? All day. All night. Every hour that goes by. I know I am.
My friends write to me don't give up. I am not giving up. I know this is the time for change. But I know that it's not a song. Maybe it was. But it isn't now. It's an action, an accomplishment, a revelation, a new way. I am searching for the people's fuel. Will I find it? Yes. I think so. I don't know why I may have been chosen to help enable a discovery of this magnitude. I know I can only write a song about it when I find it. Until then I can write a song about the search or spend all my time looking. But a song alone will not change the world. Even so, I will keep on singing.
I WAS THERE
by John Bruhns, former US Army Infantry Sergeant
I'm John Bruhns and I served in Baghdad as an army sergeant for the first year of the war. Within my first days there, I realized that so much of what I had been told--about weapons of mass destruction, connections to 9/11--was just White House spin to sell the war.
image of John Bruhns from "Finding Our Voices" video
I'm seeing the same thing all over again now. Even with this being the bloodiest summer for US troops in Iraq, even with Iraqi casualties running at twice the pace of last year, and even with 15 of 18 of President Bush's own benchmarks unmet, the White House is at it again. They're telling us that black is white, up is down, and things in Iraq are going just great thanks to the troop "surge."
This month Congress is going to vote on war policy for the next year--and Bush is hoping all this "progress" talk will scare Congress away from voting for withdrawal. We can't let that happen. Almost 4,000 US troops have died. We've spent half a trillion dollars in Iraq. Every day you turn on the news and more people are killed. We need Congress to stand up and fight to bring our troops home this fall.
I need your help to make sure that happens. Can you sign this petition demanding that Congress begin a fully funded redeployment and start bringing our troops home from Iraq immediately? I'll deliver your comments to Congress myself next week.
By clicking here you can add your name.
I left Iraq on February 27, 2004 and from what I hear from my friends who are still there--many on their third or fourth deployments--it's worse now than ever before. The "surge" was a failure and it's time to draw down our troops.
This president can't be trusted, his policy is reckless and it's more and more dangerous every day.
Here's what's happened in Iraq since the escalation went into effect.
Violence has gone up in Iraq. This summer is on track to be one of the bloodiest summers for Iraqis and U.S. troops, with nearly twice as many U.S. troops killed this July than the previous July. (1)
The surge has not created political stability. The central premise of the surge was that it would increase political stability. Two years after Sunnis were brought into the political transition, a Sunni bloc withdrew from the government. (2)
This week's original Government Accountability Office report showed that 15 out of 18 of Bush's own political benchmarks remain unmet. (3)
We've poured weapons into Iraq's civil war. Another Government Accountability Office report earlier this summer showed that the Pentagon lost track of nearly 200,000 weapons given to Iraqis. We distribute weapons and then they disappear and we don't know what happens to them. What we do know is that violence increases--both among Iraqi sectarian groups and against American troops. (4)
Ethnic cleansing is happening in Baghdad. The once Sunni dominated city is now dominated by Shiites. Here is a quote from the most recent Newsweek: "When Gen. David Petraeus goes before Congress next week to report on the progress of the surge, he may cite a decline in insurgent attacks in Baghdad as one marker of success. In fact, part of the reason behind the decline is how far the Shiite militias' cleansing of Baghdad has progressed: they've essentially won." (5)
As an Iraq war veteran I felt so much relief after the November of 2006 election -- I felt like we would finally end this mess and start bringing our troops home from Iraq. I've been let down a lot over this last year and I want to do everything I can to make sure it doesn't happen again.
Congress has the power to force redeployment and they have to use that power this fall. Nothing is more important to me than making sure we start bringing all our troops home--and I need your help to make sure that's what happens.
Please sign the petition today by clicking here .
Thanks for all you do.
(1) "Diplomatic Surge for Iraq, But New Steps Require Credible Redeployment Plan for U.S. Forces," Center for American Progress, August 9, 2007
(3) "Report Finds Little Progress On Iraq Goals," Washington Post, August 30, 2007
(4) "Stabilizing Iraq," United States Goverment Accountability Office, July 2007
(5) "Baghdad's New Owners," Newsweek, September 10, 2007
DRAFT MACHINE UP AND RUNNING
by R.B. Warford, LWW
The machine is starting to prepare us for the draft. We are hearing about it more and more through the machine's usual channels (spineless media afraid to tell the truth). Of course Bush does not want the draft because the Republicans would lose the election. That is why we haven't had a draft yet and why we might not ever, but it's looking like that is what is needed if the US stays on in IRAQ.
Thousands of our overworked soldiers are exhausted and ready to make huge mistakes that could cause deaths that don't need to happen. Bush and the rest of the war supporters learned well that a draft is bad for elections. Vietnam taught them that. So there as been no draft so far.
When Bush suggests that we are in a war with Islamic Fascists and the future of our democratic way of life is at stake, you would think that in itself would be ample cause to re-instate the draft. But it isn't. We send the same people over there again and again, wearing them out and getting them killed as they make mistakes and commit crimes born of fatigue. This is all so the Republicans can get re-elected.
Blood for politics.
Fatigue Cripples US Army In Iraq
by Peter Beaumont in Baghdad, The Observer, August 12, 2007
Exhaustion and combat stress are besieging US troops in Iraq as they battle with a new type of warfare. Some even rely on Red Bull to get through the day. As desertions and absences increase, the military is struggling to cope with the crisis
US marines asleep at their base in Falluja, Iraq. Photograph: Nicolas Asfouri/AFP/Getty images
Lieutenant Clay Hanna looks sick and white. Like his colleagues he does not seem to sleep. Hanna says he catches up by napping on a cot between operations in the command centre, amid the noise of radio. He is up at 6am and tries to go to sleep by 2am or 3am. But there are operations to go on, planning to be done and after-action reports that need to be written. And war interposes its own deadly agenda that requires his attention and wakes him up.
When he emerges from his naps there is something old and paper-thin about his skin, something sketchy about his movements as the days go by. The Americans he commands, like the other men at Sullivan - a combat outpost in Zafraniya, south east Baghdad - hit their cots when they get in from operations. But even when they wake up there is something tired and groggy about them. They are on duty for five days at a time and off for two days. When they get back to the forward operating base, they do their laundry and sleep and count the days until they will get home. It is an exhaustion that accumulates over the patrols and the rotations, over the multiple deployments, until it all joins up, wiping out any memory of leave or time at home. Until life is nothing but Iraq.
Hanna and his men are not alone in being tired most of the time. A whole army is exhausted and worn out. You see the young soldiers washed up like driftwood at Baghdad's international airport, waiting to go on leave or returning to their units, sleeping on their body armour on floors and in the dust.
Where once the war in Iraq was defined in conversations with these men by untenable ideas - bringing democracy or defeating al-Qaeda - these days the war in Iraq is defined by different ways of expressing the idea of being weary. It is a theme that is endlessly reiterated as you travel around Iraq. 'The army is worn out. We are just keeping people in theatre who are exhausted,' says a soldier working for the US army public affairs office who is supposed to be telling me how well things have been going since the 'surge' in Baghdad began.
They are not supposed to talk like this. We are driving and another of the public affairs team adds bitterly: 'We should just be allowed to tell the media what is happening here. Let them know that people are worn out. So that their families know back home. But it's like we've become no more than numbers now.'
The first soldier starts in again. 'My husband was injured here. He hit an improvised explosive device. He already had a spinal injury. The blast shook out the plates. He's home now and has serious issues adapting. But I'm not allowed to go back home to see him. If I wanted to see him I'd have to take leave time (two weeks). And the army counts it.'
A week later, in the northern city of Mosul, an officer talks privately. 'We're plodding through this,' he says after another patrol and another ambush in the city centre. 'I don't know how much more plodding we've got left in us.'
When the soldiers talk like this there is resignation. There is a corrosive anger, too, that bubbles out, like the words pouring unbidden from a chaplain's assistant who has come to bless a patrol. 'Why don't you tell the truth? Why don't you journalists write that this army is exhausted?'
It is a weariness that has created its own culture of superstition. There are vehicle commanders who will not let the infantrymen in the back fall asleep on long operations - not because they want the men alert, but because, they say, bad things happen when people fall asleep. So the soldiers drink multiple cans of Rip It and Red Bull to stay alert and wired.
But the exhaustion of the US army emerges most powerfully in the details of these soldiers' frayed and worn-out lives. Everywhere you go you hear the same complaints: soldiers talk about divorces, or problems with the girlfriends that they don't see, or about the children who have been born and who are growing up largely without them.
'I counted it the other day,' says a major whose partner is also a soldier. 'We have been married for five years. We added up the days. Because of Iraq and Afghanistan we have been together for just seven months. Seven months ... We are in a bad place. I don't know whether this marriage can survive it.'
The anecdotal evidence on the ground confirms what others - prominent among them General Colin Powell, the former US Secretary of State - have been insisting for months now: that the US army is 'about broken'. Only a third of the regular army's brigades now qualify as combat-ready. Officers educated at the elite West Point academy are leaving at a rate not seen in 30 years, with the consequence that the US army has a shortfall of 3,000 commissioned officers - and the problem is expected to worsen.
And it is not only the soldiers that are worn out. The wars in Iraq and Afghanistan have led to the destruction, or wearing out, of 40 per cent of the US army's equipment, totalling at a recent count $212bn (#105bn).
But it is in the soldiers themselves - and in the ordinary stories they tell - that the exhaustion of the US military is most obvious, coming amid warnings that soldiers serving multiple Iraq deployments, now amounting to several years, are 50 per cent more likely than those with one tour to suffer from acute combat stress.
The army's exhaustion is reflected in problems such as the rate of desertion and unauthorised absences - a problem, it was revealed earlier this year, that had increased threefold on the period before the war in Afghanistan and had resulted in thousands of negative discharges.
'They are scraping to get people to go back and people are worn out,' said Thomas Grieger, a senior US navy psychiatrist, told the International Herald Tribune in April.
'Modern war is exhausting,' says Major Stacie Caswell, an occupational therapist with a combat stress unit attached to the military hospital in Mosul. Her unit runs long group sessions to help soldiers with emerging mental health and discipline problems: often they have seen friends killed and injured, or are having problems stemming from issues at home - responsible for 50 to 60 per cent of their cases. One of the most common problems in Iraq is sleep disorders.
'This is a different kind of war,' says Caswell. 'In World War II it was clear who the good guys and the bad guys were. You knew what you would go through on the battlefield.' Now she says the threat is all around. And soldiering has changed. 'Now we have so many things to do...'
'And the soldier in Vietnam,' interjects Sergeant John Valentine from the same unit, 'did not get to see the coverage from home that these soldiers do. We see what is going on at home on the political scene. They think the war is going to end. Then we have the frustration and confusion. That is fatiguing. Mentally tiring.'
'Not only that,' says Caswell, 'but because of the nature of what we do now, the number of tasks in comparison with previous generations - even as you are finishing your 15 months here you are immediately planning and training for your next tour.' Valentine adds: 'There is no decompression.'
The consequence is a deep-seated problem of retention and recruitment that in turn, says Caswell, has led the US army to reduce its standards for joining the military, particularly over the issue of no longer looking too hard at any previous history of mental illness. 'It is a question of honesty, and we are not investigating too deeply or we are issuing waivers. The consequence is that we are seeing people who do not have the same coping skills when they get here, and this can be difficult.
'We are also seeing older soldiers coming in - up to 41 years old - and that is causing its own problems. They have difficulty dealing with the physical impact of the war and also interacting with the younger men.'
Valentine says: 'We are not only watering down the quality of the soldiers but the leadership too. The good leaders get out. I've seen it. And right now we are on the down slope.'
'War tsar' calls for return of the draft to take the strain
America's 'war tsar' has called for the nation's political leaders to consider bringing back the draft to help a military exhausted by wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.
In a radio interview, Lieutenant General Douglas Lute said the option had always been open to boost America's all-volunteer army by drafting in young men in the same way as happened in Vietnam. 'I think it makes sense to consider it,' he said. Lute was appointed 'war tsar' earlier this year after President Bush decided a single figure was needed to oversee the nation's military efforts abroad.
Rumours of a return to the draft have long circulated in military circles as the pressure from fighting two large conflicts at the same time builds on America's forces. However, politically it would be extremely difficult to achieve, especially for any leader hoping to be elected in 2008. Bush has previously ruled out the suggestion as unnecessary.
Lute, however, said the war was causing stress to military families and, as a result, was having an impact on levels of re-enlistment. 'This kind of stress plays out across dinner tables and in living-room conversations within these families. Ultimately the health of the all-volunteer force is going to rest on those sorts of personal family decisions,' he said.
A draft would revive bad memories of the turmoil of the 1960s and early 1970s when tens of thousands of young men were drafted to fight and die in Vietnam. Few other policies proved as divisive in America and the memories of anti-war protesters burning their draft cards and fleeing to Canada are still vivid in the memory.
'Don't Want No More Lies,'
Cries The Restless Consumer
by Jim Munn, Gloucester Daily Times, July 27, 2007
The Restless Consumer:
View / Free Download: quicktime /
In Neil Young's, "The Restless Consumer," the third track on his 2006 CD, "Living With War," the veteran rocker rails against the corrosive influence of America's consumer culture by repeating, again and again, "Don't want no more lies."
That plaintive refrain sums up my own sentiments about practically everything seen on commercial television and in the movies these days, as well as what's printed in most newspapers and aired on the radio.
Today, Corporate America, ably aided and abetted by its ingenious Madison Avenue marketing strategists, offers a quick fix for just about every fear, weakness, obsession, and troublesome condition known to humankind.
Young and awkward? Drink Coors Beer, you'll be the life of the party. Worried about under-performing in the bedroom? There's a little purple pill made just for that. Got unsightly wrinkles? Try "Wrinkles-Away," it works like a charm. And, finally, want to impress that special someone with an enduring token of your affection? Give her diamonds, the gift that will last forever.
But Young was protesting more than just the herding of an entire people into the cattle pen of mindless consumerism. He was also singing about the making and marketing of criminal wars, such as the current one in the Middle East that Washington sold to the American people four years ago.
The invasion of Iraq was neatly wrapped and peddled in what Washington conveniently likes to call "the national interest," just as its sinister meddling in the politics of the so-called Banana Republics of Central America was marketed and sold to the American consumer, or rather people, during the decades following World War II.
But whose interests were really being served in each of those unholy CIA-backed coups and assassinations in Latin America 50 years ago, those of ordinary working Americans, or the interests of big corporations, like the giant Rockefeller-owned United Fruit Company, that were raking in enormous profits exploiting the people and resources of the region at the time.
Show me a politician who stood up and opposed the U.S. invasion of Iraq at the start, and I will show you a politician that the people of this country can at least respect, if not believe in.
Too many - in fact, nearly all - of today's so-called public-servants have tried to play it both ways on the Iraq war issue. And that includes the presidential contenders on both sides of the political aisle.
The proof is in the timing, for not until the war was lost and President Bush's approval rating had fallen to one of the lowest levels in history, would those who initially supported the invasion begin to jump ship faster than the crew of the S.S. Titanic.
Nearly everyone in Washington now claims to have been "misled" by the president. In other words, they were lied to, or so they insist.
Of course they were being lied to. But the Democrats and Republicans knew that at the time, What they lacked was the courage and will to safeguard the interests of more than just that enterprising minority of Americans who seek to dominate and control by any means necessary the world's markets, resources and economies.
Congress could have climbed up off its knees and said, "No," to a morally indefensible foreign policy game plan, the failed initial execution of which this nation will be paying for long after most of us are gone. But the members of that now-tarnished body chose to accept then pass along to its many constituents what it knew full well to be a very shoddy bill of goods.
If, during the summer of 2001, this ordinary working person would have read the one report that best revealed the Bush White House's foreign policy intentions, where were the members of the two parties in Congress, out somewhere reading "The Further Adventures of Harry Potter?"
Anyone who took the time to read and reflect upon the neo-conservative Project for the New American Century's chilling 80-page report, "Rebuilding America's Defenses," would have had no trouble anticipating newly elected President George W. Bush's intentions in the Middle East - and that's with or without the then shortly-to-occur terrorist attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon.
It's all there in easy-to-read black and white, the radical, no-holds-barred foreign policy recommendations of Dick Cheney, Richard Pearle, Paul Wolfowitz, and the dozen other chief architects of the PNAC think-tank, the majority of whom would assume top positions in the new Administration within minutes of the former Texas governor's entry into the White House.
Operation "Rolling Thunder" or "Enduring Freedom," or whatever name it was given by the Pentagon's Madison Avenue branch, had nothing to do with a nuclear threat, Al Qaeda, or weapons of mass destruction.
The invasion of Iraq and the taking out of Saddam Hussein would, however, make possible the establishment of a "large and permanent American military presence" in the oil-rich Middle East, which indeed was the first major step in the PNAC-dominated Bush Administration's long-range plan for securing U.S. global supremacy.
But first, some fortuitous event or opportunity was needed for that bold initial step to be packaged and sold to Congress and the American people.
That "opportunity," as one White House adviser would describe it, came on the morning of Sept. 11, 2001, and the rest, the many lies that Neil Young sings about in "The Restless Consumer," is history.
Jim Munn is a writer, house painter and high school track coach who lives and works in Gloucester.
(Jim Munn died in 2011. Read about him here.)
FLAGS OF FREEDOM
View: quicktime /
A New Generation's Protest Music
Living with War shows a side of Neil Young we haven't seen yet
by Jessica Coggins, Harvard Political Review, January 18, 2007
With his newest release Living with War, Neil Young has proven that he's still rockin' in the free (and not free) world. The venerable left-leaning musician, known for his brazenly anti-war sentiments, has produced an album that addresses the confusion, chaos, and anger surrounding this post-Iraq era. Canadian Young has never shied from any topic--this is the man who, after all, prompted to Lynyrd Skynyrd to pen "Sweet Home Alabama" after Young's "Southern Men" derided the racism of the American South. The release of Living with War prompted a fury of controversy and media attention that Young hadn't encountered in nearly a decade, but all the hoopla missed the point that this is perhaps the artist's most skillful work to date. The album still boasts Young's trademark political consciousness, but it also heralds a foray into musical philosophy that mixes rebellion and rock--tinged with soul and blues.
The Politics is Musical
The tracks that make up the album run the gamut from melancholy musings on fallen soldiers to direct indictments against the Bush administration. With songs like "Let's Impeach the President," Young is sending a clear message of disapproval and disappointment with the administration's handling of Iraq. This particular song includes sound bytes from some of Bush's speeches amidst a chorus of voices that shout "flip-flop." The lyrics reach a crescendo when Young's raspy voice practically shouts, "What if Al Qaeda blew up the levees, would New Orleans have been safer that way, sheltered by our government's protection, or was someone just not home that day?"
But it is unfair to claim that Young's album is limited to unsubtle bashing of the Bush administration; he is in fact quite keen on coming to terms with what war means for everyone in the world. The song "Living with War," from which the album derives its title, opens with a profusion of trumpets that heralds the calls of peace heard during the Vietnam War. Young evokes the sentiments of the bygone hippie era when he sings "And when the dawn breaks I see my fellow man/ and on the flat-screen we kill and we're killed again/ and when the night falls I pray for peace/ try to remember peace." Peace becomes a thread for Young throughout, as if he is actually pleading with every person in the world.
In songs like "Shock and Awe" and "Flags of Freedom," Young brings out the electric guitar that made him so famous to begin with. Amidst the strums of strings are poignant lyrics that encapsulate the sadness, confusion, and anger on both sides of the crossfire. "Thousands of children scarred for life/ millions of tears for a soldier's wife/ both sides are losing now/ Heaven takes them in/ thousands of children scarred for life." The words are stinging, but ultimately profound.
Shaped by a Long Career
Living with War is the culmination of a thoroughly introspective Young, who considers the wartime turmoil at home and abroad. His lyrics are brimming with a political consciousness unseen from younger musicians, who perhaps did not live (and write) through Vietnam, the Kent State massacre, and the fall of the Berlin Wall. Each of the songs on the album shows the great depth to Young's image of America, peppered with his unique brand of pacifism.
Young has offered a critical and uplifting voice for a generation, and at this point in his career it is almost hard to consign him to one particular musical genre. This is certainly demonstrated by the eclectic roster within Living with War. The album does not try to disguise its message, but Young is poignantly reflective about what exactly "war" entails. And despite his Canuck roots, it's clear that Young is still a patriotic American--after all, the last song on the album is a choral rendition of "America the Beautiful."
Click here for more Pro & Con reviews.
STILL LIVING WITH WAR
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IN THE BEGINNING
by RB Warford, LWW Today
Living With War has been released in a new CD/DVD version that includes the original mixes done the day of each session. These raw mixes do not include the choir that was added in L.A. the week after the original recordings were done. These recordings are not remixed. They are the first mixes that were made in the heat of the moment. Although they are not polished, they represent the essence of Living With War, in the beginning.
Included in the new set is a DVD of all 10 of the videos done in the LWW network form, as well as all 10 of the documentary videos of the original sessions. These Living with War documentary videos show the choir and the sessions, day by day, as the project was evolving.
The version "In the Beginning" is a separate CD within the package. This new LWW package, including the CD and the DVD of the videos, with a new cover featuring art by Amber Young, is available now, in stores and on I-Tunes.
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The DVD "Living With War: In The Beginning" was given a Developer Award for Excellence In Menus & Presentation by the DVD Association.
ROGER AND OUT:
A Veteran's Memorial
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SHOCK AND AWE
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LET'S IMPEACH THE PRESIDENT
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LONG WALK HOME
by Jack Flak, LWW Today
From The Neil Young Archives, Volume 3:
Long Walk Home Neil Young & Crazy Horse 1986
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The president says that itis time to legalize secret prisons around the world, run by our CIA.
Traditional American values say that is not right.
But we do need to be vigilant. We the people have an opportunity to stand up to the terror around us, and also to the undoing of the national fabric. We have the power and the right to preserve our way of life for generations to come.
Will we let congress back the legalization of terror torture camps around the world?
If this country is in such grave danger that we need all these illegal things that the president has done to be legalized retroactively, if our very way of life is threatened by ifascisti terrorists in Iraq, if we need to defeat them there to stop them from coming here, then why does the president not call for the draft to be reinstated?
Would that not be the logical solution for the situation the president says we are in? Our military generals tell us we are under-manned and stretched to the limit.
However, even talk of a draft now would ensure that our Republican incumbents would lose the elections.
This begs one more question.
Does this mean soldiers who are returning to Iraq for the third and fourth time might have been replaced by fresh troops had it not been for the political fallout of the draft? Are our troops in harms way for three and four tours in Iraq for political reasons?
We all want to fight terrorism. Why do the same 150 thousand troops have to do it over and over again?
It is a long walk home.
LOOKIN FOR A LEADER
A trip down memory lane
by RB Warford, LWW Today
Think about all the presidents who have come before. What was it that set them apart? How are we doing now?
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AFTER THE GARDEN
by Jack Flak, LWW Today
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I asked a man on the street what he thought about the war in IRAQ. He said "Won't need no shadow man
runnin' the government. Won't need no stinkin' war." He looked at me, checking me out. "Won't need no
haircut! Won't need no shoe shine after the garden is gone! What will people say after the garden is
gone? What will people do after the garden?" He just kept lookin' at me like I was crazy askin' about
the war. He had bigger things on his mind. He looked like he was a hippie at one time. I don't really
know what it was about him that made me think that, but he sure had an intense way about him.
He wasn't finished with me. He had been walking away but he turned and looked right at me.
"Won't need no strongman walkin' through the night to live a weak man's day!" What the hell was he talking
about? "Won't need no purple haze. Won't need no sunshine after the garden is gone!" That was it. He
was definitely a hippie who had taken acid in the 60s. I pondered this. Did this mean he knew more or
less than I did? Was his opinion tainted by taking drugs in the 60s? Had he been an environmentalist
before it was cool? I remembered George Bush senior saying that Al Gore was crazy. Something about
"chicken little." Look at them now, Al Gore is right and Bush was and still is wrong on global
warming. Al Gore was worried about saving the planet and Bush was worried about saving cash. I was
getting pissed. The man on the street just stood there looking at me going through my thought process.
"What will people know after the garden is gone?" he asked. "What will people do after the garden?"
AMERICA THE BEAUTIFUL
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Reports From The CSNY Tour
BIO-TOWN WELCOMES CSNY
by Scoop Asphalt, Road Reporter
Crosby, Nash and Youngis iFreedom of Speech Touri buses pulled in to Bio-Town this afternoon
and fueled up. They were met by hundreds of people from the town and surrounding areas. Bio
Town has about 500 people and 176 bio powered vehicles, according to a local source. The
enthusiasm here is astounding.
The town is all about green fuel. Some residents see it as a way to make a change toward
independence from foreign oil. Others see it as a new way to make money in a staggering farm economy.
The local USA restaurant is a gathering place in town where folks talk about Bio-fuel and the
future of this farming community. One local enterprise is called The Good Oil Company. The
townis BP station is being converted to Good Oil and will open soon.
A local Hog farm is selling waste to be refined into fuel. After the waste is processed,
the leftover is pure nitrates that are added back to the soil, and the rest goes toward a
methane based fuel.
This is a community to watch. Good people trying to make a change. Itis starting right here
Iill be following the group to Chicago tomorrow in my Bio-Diesel powered pick-up. The
conversion is easy. There is no conversion! Just put Bio in your tank.
LET'S IMPEACH THE PRESIDENT
by RB Warford, LWW Today
LWW cameras captured the day the song was written and recorded, and the day the choir sang at Capitol Records in LA.
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SHOCK AND AWE
by RB Warford, LWW Today
This LWW footage of the Shock and Awe sessions reveals some of the details behind the scenes. The song actually was recorded twice and this footage
features some of the unused take.
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Call For Peace Goes Out Around The World
by Elwood Redding, Canadian Free Press
From The Neil Young Archives, Volume 3:
Around The World Neil Young & Crazy Horse 1986
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I've been sitting on the dock late into the summer night waiting for some celestial movement from the Northern Lights - looking for a sign. It's a Canadian thing. But Aurora Borealis is laying low and I get the meaning - I read the signs. We gotta get still, take a deep breath and think this Lebanon situation out. There's an opportunity here and we better not waste it - not again. This is not the time to turn our backs on the United Nations.
The call has gone out to UN member nations in support of a Peacekeeping Force to maintain the tenuous truce between Israel and Lebanon. The French stepped up, so did Italy along with Brunei, Malaysia, Turkey and Indonesia. The Germans have promised naval support. The US declined but that's always the case. American military ego is far too fragile to even consider allowing US Troops to operate under any command other that its own. Britain said "sorry". Then Canada declined too and that's an embarrassment. We built this country on peace.
Canada's Prime Minister Stephen "George W" Harper does a terrific imitation of his hero the US President. He nailed it last week by falling asleep at the wheel. While Canada was being called to contribute to world peace, Stevie - as the real G Dubya likes to call him, was in the Arctic expounding on Canada's northern sovereignty. He appears to be clearing the way for the construction of a previously unavailable supply route for Arctic oil. A route made possible by global warming the bosom buddy of the oil industry. Yep, now that the ice is melting we're gonna be able to get in there and make some very rich Texans very much richer. Harper plays big in Calgary - our version of Houston - a bastion of rational thought for sure.
Harper also missed the 16th International Aids Conference in Toronto. Not his crowd I guess. Bill Clinton was there, Bill Gates made it, most of the world was watching but Harper didn't see the importance. He spent his time up in the Arctic crushing hope and driving the Northern Lights into hiding.
Instead of taking a stand on peace Stephen Harper unveiled a plan to put more Canadian troops onto the deadly ground of Afghanistan where the death toll is mounting daily. Under the new plan 30% per cent of those lured in by the recruiting ads will be enrolled in basic training within a week. 35% more will start within a month and the rest will be subjected to more intense psychological screening. Don't want any loose screws in Canada's military you know. The good news here is that Canada's youth is staying away from the recruiting offices in droves. Record numbers of young Canucks are not signing up for the all expenses paid trip into the hell that Afghanistan has become.
France, Italy and the rest all see it. We don't. It's that simple. We just can't read the signs. So here's the abridged version for our alleged leaders: Let's re-think this. The war we're waging is going nowhere. When the bad guys can bring world commerce to its knees by simply threatening to blow up planes, as in last week's commercial airline fiasco, we need a new plan. Maybe it's time to wage a little love. Support the United Nations!
Not your grandpa's America...
by R.B. Warford, LWW Today
Remember those close calls on election night? Howard Dean does too. So does Al Gore. Check out our U.S. computer voting system in action.
From The Neil Young Archives, Volume 3:
Mideast Vacation Revisited
How long has NY been writing these songs?
by Jack Flak, LWW Today
Neil Young & Crazy Horse, 1986
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I used to watch "Highway Patrol" whittlin' with my knife,
but the thought never struck me I'd be black and white for life.
I was raised on law and order in a community of strife,
became a restless boarder, and I never took a wife.
I went lookin' for Osama aboard Air Force One,
but I never did find him and the C.I.A. said "Son, you'll never be a hero,
your flyin' days are done.
It's time for you to go home now.
Stop sniffin' that smokin' gun."
I was travellin' with my family in the Mideast late one night.
In the hotel all was quiet, the kids were out like little lights.
Then the street was filled with jeeps! There was an explosion to the right!
They chanted "Death to America" I was feelin' like a fight.
So I ran downstairs and out into the street.
Someone kicked me in the belly, someone else kissed my feet.
I was Rambo in the disco, I was shootin' to the beat.
When they burned me in effigy my vacation was complete.
Neil Young on The Colbert Report 8/17/06
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CNN Showbiz Tonight Interview 4/18/06
Freedom of Speech Tour '06:
CSNY LIVING WITH WAR DOCUMENTARY PREVIEW
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a picture from the tour
Click here for a Tour Map.
Click here for reviews debate.
by Graham Nash, LWW Today
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windows low -
So.. In 1970, there I was at the airport in Vancouver, waiting with the rest of the band to get back into the United StatesOe waiting to go to San Francisco. We'd just done a wonderful show and I was anxious to get back home..
At the Immigration desk the man was watching me with a look in his eye that meant troubleOe..Every one else was let through with a minimum of fussOe then came my turn.
Now I don't know if Canadian Immigration people have a thing about Englishmen but this guy wasn't about to let me in without a great deal of scrutiny. What I'd done to deserve this especial' treatment I don't know but it was taking a long, long time to process meOe
The silly thing was I was being asked for my autograph constantly by people who knew who I was yet the guy, who was watching all this was still giving me a hard time. In 1970 I was, and still am, a hippy and I looked the part. Maybe this was why I was being treated differently.. Frankly this infuriated me.
Now, I don't know about you, but I don't take rejection well.. quite frankly I was not at all happy about thisOe I was watching the rest of the guys walking down the corridor and I wasn't with themOe
When something affects me like this I have to do something about it and the way I do it is to write..
We are and have always been a country populated by immigrants. They, without question, helped to build and make this country what it is today.
On the plane my fury changed into words and by the time I was home this song was almost finished...
I wrote it in the fly leaf of the book I was reading, a Robert Heinlein book, The Silver Locusts. I have it to this day to remind me of that momentOe. The moment that Immigration Man was created.
From The Neil Young Archives, Volume 4:
R.B. Warford, LWW Today
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Shortly after the tragic attack on the City of NewYork on 9/11/01, the song Let's Roll was written
and recorded. It was a tribute to the heroic passenger/citizens onboard who gave everything to stop
hi-jacked flight 93 from attacking a prime target in the Washington area. The song was picked up by
radio and played often.
Some interpreted the song as a war cry. Some saw it for what it was: an attempt to
chronicle the story of Flight 93 from the perspective of a passenger talking to his wife on a cell
phone, and then moving down the aisle to stop the terrorists from accomplishing their goal. When the
"Living With War" collection of protest songs was released, some writers reviewing the new record
mentioned "Let's Roll" as a statement supporting Bush's war on terror and the war in IRAQ.
PFC Josh Stein, 22, a double amputee rehab patient, lost his legs to an explosion in Iraq in 2006. (Getty Images)
VA STOPS RELEASING DATA ON INJURED VETS
By Jamie Reno, International Business Times, November 01, 2013
The United States has likely reached a grim but historic milestone in the war on terror: 1 million veterans injured from the fighting in Iraq and Afghanistan. But you haven't heard this reported anywhere else. Why? Because the government is no longer sharing this information with the public.
All that can be said with any certainty is that as of last December more than 900,000 service men and women had been treated at Department of Veterans Affairs hospitals and clinics since returning from war zones in Iraq and Afghanistan, and that the monthly rate of new patients to these facilities as of the end of 2012 was around 10,000. Beyond that, the picture gets murky. In March, VA abruptly stopped releasing statistics on non-fatal war casualties to the public. However, experts say that there is no reason to suspect the monthly rate of new patients has changed.
VA ceased to disclose this data despite President Obama's second-term campaign pledge that his administration would be open and transparent. Absent information about the number of soldiers that have sought government medical help and about the types of injuries they had, policymakers, Capitol Hill and health care professionals may be hamstrung in making decisions about funding for crucial veterans' health programs and the treatments and diagnostic tools that should be researched and targeted. The reliability of future military strategies could be in jeopardy as well.
Read More Here.
THE WAIT WE CARRY
Using Data Visualization to Capture America's Failure to Take Care of Its Veterans
By Rebecca J. Rosen, The Atlantic, June 24, 2013
To explore "The Wait We Carry," a new data-visualization project from Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America (IAVA), is to confront bureaucratic failure writ large. Scroll through the graph charting more than 1,700 veterans; see their names, ages, the lengths of their deployments; and then see, highlighted in burnt orange, just how many days they've been waiting to receive there benefits -- an average of 558 days.
The backlog for veterans' benefits claims is a mounting, slow-moving tragedy. Some 600,000 claims are "backlogged," meaning they've sat around waiting, unanswered, literally in a pile somewhere, for more than 125 days. A statement provided to the New York Times in May said that Eric Shinseki, the secretary of veteran's affairs, "is confident that we will end the backlog in 2015." To which The Daily Show's Jon Stewart replied: "In only two more years, they are hoping to have you wait only four more months."
"The Wait We Carry," which was funded by the Knight Foundation, is designed to communicate both the enormity of the problem and what the delay means in more human terms, by sharing the stories of individual veterans. For many of the veterans, visitors to the site can actually click on the words "I want to connect with this vet about his experience" and get in touch to learn more about his or her situation, send words of comfort and support, and perhaps even help.
Read More Here.
COST OF IRAQ, AFGHANISTAN WARS WILL KEEP MOUNTING
Together they'll be the most expensive in U.S. history, costing as much as $6 trillion over time, a new analysis says. Veterans' care will probably be the biggest future expense.
By Alan Zarembo, Los Angeles Times, March 29, 2013
The wars in Iraq and Afghanistan will ultimately cost between $4 trillion and $6 trillion, with medical care and disability benefits weighing heavily for decades to come, according to a new analysis.
The bill to taxpayers so far has been $2 trillion, plus $260 billion in interest on the resulting debt. By comparison, the current federal budget is $3.8 trillion.
The costs of the wars will continue to mount, said the study's author, Linda Bilmes, a public policy expert at Harvard University.
The largest future expenses will be medical care and disability benefits for veterans, Bilmes predicted. "The big, big cost comes 30 or 40 years out," she said.
The wars, taken together, will be the most expensive in U.S. history -- and not just because of their duration. The government has greatly expanded the services available to veterans and military personnel over the last decade. Compared with past conflicts, a far greater proportion of returning service members are seeking medical care and benefits.
Read More Here.
MICHELLE OBAMA URGES CEOs TO HIRE MORE VETERANS
Michelle Obama urges chief executives to 'think outside the box,' hire more veterans
By Darlene Superville, Associated Press, March 13, 2013
WASHINGTON (AP) -- Michelle Obama challenged America's top CEOs on Wednesday to "think outside the box" and hire more veterans.
The first lady said that, while declines in overall unemployment are encouraging, joblessness among the 9/11 generation of veterans -- those who served in the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan -- is nearly two points higher than the national average, at 9.4 percent. She said that figure means that about 200,000 veterans don't have jobs, not including their spouses and those who will return home after the U.S. ends its combat mission in Afghanistan.
Unemployment nationwide fell two-tenths of a point last month to 7.7 percent, its lowest level in more than four years.
Addressing a meeting of the Business Roundtable, which represents chief executive officers of the 200 largest U.S. corporations, Mrs. Obama said the "Joining Forces" campaign she launched two years ago with Jill Biden, the vice president's wife, to rally the country around its military members, has led businesses to hire or train more than 125,000 veterans and military spouses. The private sector also has pledged to hire or train 250,000 more veterans by the end of 2014.
But, the first lady said, "we've still got a lot more work to do."
Read More Here.
FROM THE BATTLEFIELD TO THE FARM FIELD
by Clare Leschin-Hoar, Takepart.com, January 11, 2013
Ever since military veterans began to stream home from the waning wars in Afghanistan and Iraq, we've been keeping our eye on what kinds of work they end up doing after their service ends. For some, physical injuries have made reentering the workforce difficult or even impossible. For others, lingering posttraumatic stress disorder symptoms made traditional nine-to-five desk jobs unmanageable.
As we reported before, a number of veterans have found solace (and successful careers) in farming. What's better is that we're seeing signs that this is a trend with staying power--good news, given that the Department of Labor estimates 1.5 million service members will leave the military in the next five years.
There's plenty of help out there for veterans interested in farming. Groups like Veterans Sustainable Agriculture Training program, Combat Boots to Cowboy Boots, and the Farmer Veteran Coalition, provide training, funding and support to get veterans working again, often in the rural communities they call home.
Read more here.
9 MORE IRAQ, AFGHAN WAR VETERANS JOINING CONGRESS
ABC OTUS News, Nov 24, 2012
As Tammy Duckworth sees it, her path to Congress began when she awoke in the fall of 2004 at Walter Reed Army Medical Center. She was missing both of her legs and faced the prospect of losing her right arm.
Months of agonizing therapy lay ahead. As the highest-ranking double amputee in the ward, Maj. Duckworth became the go-to person for soldiers complaining of substandard care and bureaucratic ambivalence.
Soon, she was pleading their cases to federal lawmakers, including her state's two U.S. senators at the time -- Democrats Dick Durbin and Barack Obama of Illinois. Obama arranged for her to testify at congressional hearings. Durbin encouraged her to run for office.
She lost her first election, but six years later gave it another try and now is one of nine veterans of the Iraq and Afghanistan wars who will serve in next year's freshman class in the of House of Representatives.
Read more here.
RETURNING VETERANS SWELL RANKS OF US ENTREPRENEURS
By Michael Melia, Associated Press, October 13, 2012
HARTFORD, Conn. (AP) -- As a truck driver for the U.S. military in wartime Iraq, Ed Young racked up 7,000 miles, facing a constant threat of attack that left him struggling with depression and suicidal thoughts.
Four years later, he is driving long hauls again, but now in the U.S. as one of a growing number of veterans turning entrepreneur. The Navy veteran who had seen his post-war life spiraling out of control says his Connecticut-based car transportation business has helped to put him on the road to recovery.
Young received training to run his enterprise through a program for disabled veterans at the University of Connecticut, one of many efforts emerging nationwide to help returning service members start small businesses.
"The biggest thing I got out of it was, no matter what, don't give up on your idea," said Young, 26. "Basically it's like in the military. Just accomplish the mission. That is your job, to accomplish your mission, no matter what."
Read more here.
ARMY 'STAND DOWN' FOCUSES DAY ON SUICIDE TRAINING
By Pauline Jelinek, Associated Press, September 26, 2012
WASHINGTON (AP) -- In a service-wide "stand down," the Army has ordered soldiers to put aside their usual duties Thursday and spend the day on suicide prevention training as the military struggles with a spike in the number of self-inflicted deaths this year.
The plan will focus on making sure that troops know what behavioral health programs are available to them and helping them get over the embarrassment that keeps many from seeking help.
There are limited exceptions to Thursday's stand down: Troops with duties such as combat operations in Afghanistan or medical duties in Army hospitals will schedule their training when possible.
"The Army has decided that this issue is so important to us that we're going to devote an entire day ... that was otherwise devoted to something else and say 'That's not as important as this,'" the Army's top enlisted man, Sgt. Maj. Raymond Chandler, told a news conference Wednesday.
Read more here.
ARMY SUICIDES DOUBLED LAST MONTH FROM JUNE'S TOTAL
By Robert Burns, Associated Press, August 16, 2012
WASHINGTON (AP) -- Suicides among active-duty soldiers in July more than doubled from June, accelerating a trend throughout the military this year that has prompted Pentagon leaders to redouble efforts to solve a puzzling problem.
The Army, which is the only branch of the military that issues monthly press statements on suicides, said 26 active-duty soldiers killed themselves in July, compared with 12 in June. The July total was the highest for any month since the Army began reporting suicides by month in 2009, according to Lt. Col. Lisa Garcia, an Army spokeswoman.
The Marine Corps had eight suicides in July, up from six in June. The July figure was its highest monthly total of 2012 and pushed its total for the year so far to 32 -- equal to the Marines' total for all of 2011. The Marines' July figure is being posted on its website but was provided first to The Associated Press.
Read more here.
1ST IRAQ VETERAN OPERA PUTS INNER TURMOIL ON STAGE
By Julie Watson, Associated Press, July 2, 2012
After returning from the battlefields of Iraq, Christian Ellis found the only way to soothe the war wounds in his soul was by losing himself singing opera's powerful, haunting songs.
Now the 29-year-old former Marine machine gunner-- who has attempted suicide four times -- is putting his pain on stage in the first opera believed written about the war: "Fallujah."
The two-hour performance is an unnerving musical journey into his head.
"Fallujah" was developed in Vancouver, Canada, by City Opera Vancouver with the help of a playwright, a composer, nine actors and an 11-member orchestra in a kind of performance laboratory. It will debut July 2 on explore.org/fallujah and will be marketed to opera houses. It is an example of how battlefield trauma after a decade of war is shaping American art as countless veterans, like Ellis, find themselves fighting an even tougher battle at home against horrifying memories, survivor's guilt and sorrow.
Read more here.
VET USES MUSIC TO HEAL - BUT SAYS HE'S NO 'HERO'
By Martha Irvine, Associated Press, July 9, 2012
GLENDALE, Calif. (AP) -- Don't call Iraq War vet Jason Moon a hero. Don't phone him on Memorial Day or July 4th or Veterans Day to say thank you.
Instead, just listen as he strums his guitar and sings about the "things I've seen I won't forget," about the sacrifices, emotional and physical, that a warrior must bear.
It can get raw, as it did one evening in a backyard in suburban Los Angeles, a recent stop on a concert tour that has taken him all over the country.
"All this welcome home, good job, we're-so-proud-of-you bull---- is wearing thin," he said, half-singing, half-speaking, as firelight flickered on his audience's faces.
There was a brief pause, then laughter -- a moment of understanding shared veteran to veteran.
Read more here.
EMPLOYMENT KEY TO HELPING VETERANS ADJUST TO LIFE BACK HOME
In study, money worries raised risk for violent behavior more than PTSD
by Robert Preidt, HealthDay, June 25, 2012
Having a job and social support are among the factors that greatly reduce the risk of violence by U.S. veterans, a new study finds.
Researchers analyzed the responses of nearly 1,400 veterans who served in Iraq and Afghanistan and participated in a survey conducted between July 2009 and April 2010. The veterans were from all branches of the military and all 50 states.
One-third of the veterans said they had committed acts of aggression towards others in the past year. Most of those incidents involved minor aggression, but 11 percent of the veterans reported more serious violence.
The researchers found that certain factors were important in preventing violence by veterans: having a job; meeting basic needs; living stability; social support; spiritual faith; ability to care for oneself; the ability to adapt to stress; and the sense of having control over one's life.
Veterans with these factors in their lives were 92 percent less likely to report severe violence than those without these factors. More than three-quarters of the veterans did have these factors and thus posed a low threat of violence, according to the study published June 25 in the Journal of Clinical Psychiatry.
"When you hear about veterans committing acts of violence, many people assume that post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) or combat exposure are to blame. But our study shows that is not necessarily true," study leader Eric Elbogen, research director of the Forensic Psychiatry Program in the University of North Carolina School of Medicine and psychologist in the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs, said in university news release.
Instead, the study found that veterans who didn't have enough money to cover basic needs were more likely to be violent than those with PTSD.
"Our study suggests the incidence of violence could be reduced by helping veterans develop and maintain protective factors in their lives back home," Elbogen concluded.
More information: Afterdeployment.org has more about veterans' health and well-being.
FOR COMBAT VETS, BRAIN INJURY SYMPTOMS CAN LAST YEARS
'Mild' injury doesn't mean quick recovery, researchers say
By Lisa Esposito, HealthDay, June 20, 2012
Lingering symptoms from combat-related traumatic brain injuries -- even "mild" cases -- may persist for years, according to a new study of U.S. veterans who served in Iraq and Afghanistan.
Veterans were still battling headaches, depression, dizziness and other symptoms up to eight years after their head injury occurred, researchers found.
The study looked at 500 veterans who underwent general health and depression screenings between 2008 and 2011 at the Oklahoma City VA Medical Center and were found to have symptoms of mild traumatic brain injury and post-concussion syndrome.
The participants, mostly men, were grouped according to whether their head injury had occurred within the previous two years, three to four years, five to six years, or seven to eight years.
The patients self-rated six symptoms: headache, dizziness, balance problems, poor coordination, difficulty with decisions, and depression.
Whether the injury had occurred two years or eight years earlier made no significant difference in frequency or intensity of symptoms. And the type of injury made no difference.
"There was a tendency for depression to be a bit more common in the five-to-eight [year] group," said study author Dr. James Couch, a professor of neurology at the University of Oklahoma Health Sciences Center in Oklahoma City. "So not only does this not go away, which is what we figured we would probably find -- it may tend to get worse."
Traumatic brain injury is considered a hallmark combat injury.
Read more here.
SUICIDES ARE SURGING AMONG US TROOPS
by Robert Burns, Associated Press, June 8, 2012
WASHINGTON (AP) -- Suicides are surging among America's troops, averaging nearly one a day this year -- the fastest pace in the nation's decade of war.
The 154 suicides for active-duty troops in the first 155 days of the year far outdistance the U.S. forces killed in action in Afghanistan -- about 50 percent more -- according to Pentagon statistics obtained by The Associated Press.
The numbers reflect a military burdened with wartime demands from Iraq and Afghanistan that have taken a greater toll than foreseen a decade ago. The military also is struggling with increased sexual assaults, alcohol abuse, domestic violence and other misbehavior.
Because suicides had leveled off in 2010 and 2011, this year's upswing has caught some officials by surprise.
The reasons for the increase are not fully understood. Among explanations, studies have pointed to combat exposure, post-traumatic stress, misuse of prescription medications and personal financial problems. Army data suggest soldiers with multiple combat tours are at greater risk of committing suicide, although a substantial proportion of Army suicides are committed by soldiers who never deployed.
Read more here.
AS WARS END, YOUNG VETERANS RETURN TO SCANT JOBS
by Shaila Dewan, New York Times, December 17, 2011
COLUMBUS, Ohio -- In Afghanistan, Cpl. Clayton Rhoden earned about $2,500 a month jumping into helicopters to chase down improvised explosive devices or check out suspected bomb factories.
Now he lives with his parents, sells his blood plasma for $80 a week and works what extra duty he can get for his Marine Corps Reserve unit.
Corporal Rhoden, who is 25, gawky and polite with a passion for soldiering, is one of the legions of veterans who served in combat yet have a harder time finding work than other people their age, a situation that officials say will grow worse as the United States completes its pullout of Iraq and as, by a White House estimate, a million new veterans join the work force over the next five years.
Veterans' joblessness is concentrated among the young and those still serving in the National Guard or Reserve. The unemployment rate for veterans aged 20 to 24 has averaged 30 percent this year, more than double that of others the same age, though the rate for older veterans closely matches that of civilians. Reservists like Corporal Rhoden have a bleak outlook as well.
In July 2010, their unemployment rate was 21 percent, compared with 12 percent for other vets.
Read more here.
Review of "CSNY/DÉJÀ VU":
(Read more pro & con reviews here)
YOU MUST SEE CROSBY STILLS NASH AND YOUNG DEJA VU
by Paul Cashmere
August 3 2008
'Deja vu', the Neil Young film documenting the Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young 2006 Freedom of Speech tour is essential viewing.
To understand this movie, lets pretend there is a prequel. That story would be about the worst president in US history, a disgrace to the global politics and people of the planet. He is a man without domestic economics policies and succeeded to the oval office without even having the largest number of votes. This man, incapable of leading a nation, starts a war on a lie with a country that has done nothing to his.
This man is responsible for the deaths of 4127 US soldiers since his War On Terror began. 30,464 US soldiers have been wounded because of his lie.
This man is responsible for the deaths of 1,251,944 Iraqis but maybe we should forgive him because his marketing statement 'War On Terror' is pure advertising industry genius.
There are positives. He has given Rupert Murdoch the chance to make even more billions by broadcasting war like it's a football match. And he has given vile puppets like O'Reilly and Hannity the chance to make themselves celebrities. Lets face it, it this was a plot for the 60s Batman TV show, O'Reilly and Hannity would be called Biff and Ka-Pow up against Bush as The Riddler and Murdoch as The Joker.
So, lets now introduce four 60+ aging hippies named David Crosby, Steven Stills, Graham Nash and Neil Young and get to 'Deja vu', a documentary of their 2006 tour. (Hang on a sec. Two of these weren't even born the USA. Quick, someone call O'Reilly and Hannity, sorry I mean Biff and Ka-Pow).
Thank God for CSNY because there is no one in the current music world with the guts to stand up and say what needs to be said.
'Deja vu' follows CSNY on their trek across the US. The movie shows a divided audience, those for, those against. I personally witnessed the show in Irvine, California. I was amazed that so many people could go to a CSNY show and NOT expect it to be political. To them I say, sorry guys, even that nice Graham ballad 'Teach Your Children' had a message and his 1970's hit 'Military Madness' was a little bit more than a pop song, don't you think. (Wow, Tony Orlando really did destroy their brains back then).
The centerpiece for the movie, and as I recall and can confirm from the Irvine show, was Neil's provocative song 'Let's Impeach The President'. I can still hear the couple sitting behind me at the show, shocked, saying "I can't believe he is singing that about our President". Sorry lady, turn off Fox, google the world.
People walked out of the Irvine show when CSNY sang that song. Neil commented on it in the movie when talking about being booed in Atlanta. "It was no worse than Irvine," he says in the movie.
However, CSNY are not the stars of 'Deja vu'. Lt. Ken Ballad is a star of the movie. He was one of Bush's casualties. His mother tells of not only the pain of losing her son, but the lengths that the US government is prepared to go to hide the truth. She breaks down at a show when the impact of the number of deaths confronts her.
Another true star of the movie is Josh Hisle, an Iraq veteran who gets to jam with Neil Young in a hotel room during the tour. "Thanks for jamming with me," he tells Young after the song. Young is moved. He is the one who is honored.
'Deja vu' was previewed in Australia at the Melbourne Film Festival last week. It is screening in cinemas in the US currently. See this movie ... please. An American election is impending. America cannot afford to make the same mistake again.
by RB Warford, LWW Today
The documentary series of LWW recording sessions is complete.
All ten songs and their sessions are represented in the following series of clips.
The Fourth of July.
Fact: On this day many years ago Thomas Jefferson and John Adams died...
Today is the fourth of July.
Mourn for America, my friends.
Democracy is dead.
The president would be king.
Benedict Arnold is next in line.
Oh, for revolution again,
Paul Revere to rouse the Patriots,
Tom Paine to steel our spine,
George Washington to lead us,
Sam Adams furious mob
to tar and feather
the traitorous swine,
torch their greedy mansions,
ride them out of town on a rail.
Today is the fourth of July.
Celebrate America, my heroic friends.
Revive Democracy again.
Exclusively For LWWToday:
Time Line Analyzer Unveiled
by Sam Pullenold, LWW Today
History before, during, and after Living With War can be tracked using the unique Time Line Analyzer
from LWWToday's Research Laboratory.
Waveform monitors display events from Print, Radio, TV News, and LWW itself, along with a display
of combined information.
Use the arrows to change the dates displayed. Touch a bump in a waveform to reveal details of
that day's events.
Click here to use the Time Line Analyzer.
POETRY FROM THE FRONT
The ghosts of American soldiers
wander the streets of Balad by night,
unsure of their way home, exhausted,
the desert wind blowing trash
down the narrow alleys as a voice
sounds from the minaret, a soulful call
reminding them how alone they are,
how lost. And the Iraqi dead,
they watch in silence from the rooftops
as date palms line the shore in silhouette,
leaning toward Mecca when the dawn wind blows.
With a master's degree in poetry from the University of Oregon, Army Sgt. Brian Turner - who now teaches English in Fresno - wrote frequent verse during his 11 months in Iraq.
Video by The Count
Song by Neil Young, LWW Today
I'm a vampire baby, suckin' blood from the earth. I'm a vampire baby, suckin' blood from
the earth. Well I'm a vampire baby, sell you twenty barrels worth.
I'm a black bat baby, bangin' on your window pane. I'm a black bat baby, bangin' on your
window pane. I'm a black bat baby, I need my high octane.
Good times are comin', I hear it every were I go. Good times are comin', I hear it every
were I go. Good times are comin', but they sure are comin' slow.
Well I'm a vampire baby, suckin' blood from the earth. I'm a vampire baby, suckin' blood
from the earth. Well I'm a vampire baby, I'll sell you twenty barrels worth. Good times