The JTA staff has published “In the spirit of the holiday season, … its annual ode to the non-Jews who helped write the Jewish story this past year.”1
I’m quite uncertain about the practice of 0.65 percent of the world’s population2 determining who outside of them is to be singled out as a “Gentile” of the year.
I never call myself a Gentile, and I’d prefer if other people not refer to me in a way I do not wish to be identified. Human is sufficient for me. I am a human just like every other member of Homo sapiens. I see no need to separate myself out. Admittedly, this poses a bit of a logical conundrum because my inclusive preference has already, in essence, separated me from those who wish to separate themselves from others. Other physical and behavioral traits will also allow others to categorize me relative to other humans. This is true. Despite all this, I remain human and so does every other person: Muslim, Jew, Hindi, Arab, European, Chinese, White, Black, Green, Blue, gay, old, young, female, male, etc.
Eleven individuals were selected by the JTA staff on the basis of what they are not: they are not Jews. They were also selected on the basis of how they served Jewish interests.
To become a “Gentile of the year” all French-born choreographer Benjamin Millepied had to do was marry one of Hollywood’s most fetching actresses — Natalie Portman. Obviously the bar is quite low for Gentiles to ingratiate themselves with JTA staff.
Actress Claire Danes just had to do her job, acting in the Showtime series Homeland, “an adaptation of an Israeli TV show,” part of which was filmed in Israel.
The deputy speaker of Hungary’s parliament, Istvan Ujhelyi, took a stand that was rightful and public. He showed solidarity with the country’s Jewish community against extremist right-wingers. One wonders, however, about the plight of the comparatively more downtrodden Roma in Hungary. Which politician will take a stand for them?
“NBC sportscaster Bob Costas took it upon himself to remember the slain athletes and coaches,” writes JTA. What kind of person only shows concern about certain slain people? Has Costas ever publicly held a moment of silence for the dispossessed Palestinians? Did he hold a moment of silence for the victims of Zionist Israel’s massacre of Gazans? Does Costas’s public silence to the murders of Palestinians (fellow humans) make him worthy of being singled out as a Gentile of the year?
Newt Gingrich, who calls Palestinians an “invented people,” was also singled out since he “stood his ground, however, saying he supported a negotiated peace but that the onus was on the Palestinians.” What kind of topsy-turvy world is it in which the dispossessed, the occupied, the oppressed have the onus for peace placed upon them by the dispossessors, occupiers, oppressors?
Singer Chaka Khan is a Gentile of the year for “raising $14 million to support the well-being of Israeli soldiers.” These soldiers are the lethal force of the dispossession, occupation, and oppression. Singer Stevie Wonder saw fit to back out of the concert benefiting occupation forces; Chaka Khan decided otherwise. For this she is singled out by JTA.
British tabloid reporters Brian Flynn and Ryan Parry proved “it’s never too late for justice.” They helped nab a suspected war criminal Ladislaus Csizsik-Csatary, 97, implicated in Jewish deaths during World War II. I share no sympathy for war criminals, and there is no statute of limitations on war crimes. That is something Israeli war criminals ought to bear in mind.
JTA considers Mohamed Morsi worthy of singling out for the importance he has and will have for Israel. Barack Obama is an important figure for Israel as well. Strangely enough, arch-Zionist collaborator Mahmoud Abbas was not “honored” as a Gentile of the year.
Special praise, however, was bestowed upon Canadian prime minister Stephen Harper:
an unabashed Israel supporter is an understatement. In the last few months, Harper has shuttered Canada’s embassy in Tehran, listed Iran as a state sponsor of terrorism, personally pressured Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas (unsuccessfully) to drop the Palestinians’ bid for statehood at the United Nations and signed a series of defense pacts with Israel. Israeli President Shimon Peres has called him “an extraordinary friend.”
Yet Harper is extraordinarily biased against Palestinians. That is not surprising, as Harper also takes a strongly colonialist line against First Nations in Canada.
Couldn’t JTA come up with a worthier list from 99.35 percent of the planet’s population?
I am not much for lists of personalities. However, if I were to draw up a list of people, I would refrain from singling out a specific segment of humanity. First, I would attempt to determine what special traits should make people worthy for singling out on a list. I submit that those who dedicate themselves or sacrifice themselves for the good of the greater humanity are worthy of recognition.
- I propose the following list of humans to recognize. No particular ranking is meant to be imparted, and the list is not to be considered exhaustive:
- • peace activists
• anti-poverty activists
• supporters of the dignity of labor
• environmental activists
• resistance movements
• Indigenous rights activists
• supporters of LGBTQ rights
• justice/prison rights activists
• women’s rights supporters
There are many people toiling on behalf of others less fortunate in the world. It, therefore, seems remiss to focus on any one or a few persons. Ultimately, it is the mass of humanity that determines what kind of world we all live in. Apathy, inactivity, and insouciance are enemies of a Brave New World for which there are repercussions. Such surrender is very much partially to blame for why the world is beset by war, killing, massive inequality in income and wealth, resource exploitation for private profit with nary a regard for the wider public’s use and enjoyment of the environment, oppression, as well as other social injustices. Consequently, it is a must for a society inclined toward progressivism to cultivate the desired traits among the people that lead to the desired world.
- JTA Staff, “Gentiles of the Year 2012,” JTA, 28 December 2012.
- Aaron Kalman, “Global Jewish population grows by 88,000 over past year,” Times of Israel, 9 September 2012.
Kim Petersen can be reached at: firstname.lastname@example.org.
In a potentially precedent-setting decision, the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals ruled Monday that a Guild lawyer’s challenge to military spying on peace activists can proceed. The ruling marks the first time a court has affirmed people’s ability to sue the military for violating their First and Fourth Amendment rights.
“This has never been done before,” said NLG member attorney Larry Hildes, who is handling the case. “The U.S. government has spied on political dissidents throughout history and this particular plot lasted through two presidencies, but never before has a court said that we can challenge it the way we have.”
The ruling is the latest development in the lawsuit, Panagacos v. Towery, first brought by Hildes in 2009 on behalf of a group of Washington state antiwar activists who found themselves infiltrated by John Towery, an employee at a fusion center inside a local Army base. Fusion centers are multi-jurisdictional intelligence facilities which house federal and local law enforcement agencies alongside military units and private security companies. Their operations are largely secret and unregulated. There are currently 77 fusion centers in the United States.
The lawsuit names Towery as well as the Army, Navy, Air Force, FBI, CIA, Department of Homeland Security, and other law enforcement agencies. For at least two years, Towery posed as an activist with the antiwar group Port Militarization Resistance (PMR), a group that sought to oppose the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan through civil disobedience. The infiltration came to light when public records requests filed with the City of Olympia unearthed documents detailing an expansive surveillance operation. In addition to PMR, Towery targeted Students for a Democratic Society, the Olympia Movement for Justice and Peace, the Industrial Workers of the World, Iraq Veterans Against the War, an anarchist bookstore in Tacoma, and other activist groups.
The latest ruling denies the government’s appeal on the basis that the allegations of First and Fourth Amendment violations carried out by Towery are “plausible.” His lawyers have until December 31 to appeal the decision. If they do not appeal, the case will return to district court and the discovery phase will begin.
The National Lawyers Guild is the oldest and largest public interest/human rights bar organization in the United States. Its headquarters are in New York and it has members in every state.
Chile’s Court of Appeal on Friday arrested seven retired servicemen over their suspected involvement in the 1973 killing of folk singer Victor Jara, one of the highest-profile victims of the Augusto Pinochet dictatorship, Latin American media reported on Friday.
On September 12, 1973, after the military coup which overthrew the democratically elected socialist government of Salvador Allende, Jara, was arrested and then held prisoner at the Estadio Chile along with thousands of Chileans. The 40-year-old singer was tortured for four days in the stadium that now bears his name. On September 15 he was machine-gunned, with 34 bullet wounds later found on his body.
To date, Ret. Col. Mario Manríquez Bravo, the former chief of the Estadio Chile internment camp, is the only person convicted for the killing.
Jara’s relatives earlier called for the masterminds and immediate perpetrators of the killing to be held to account.
- His Hands Were Gentle: Selected Lyrics of Victor Jara (irishleftreview.org)
Egyptian Ambassador to Lebanon Ashraf Hamdy says his country plans to forge “tight” relations with the Lebanese resistance group Hezbollah.
“You cannot discuss politics in Lebanon without having a relationship with Hezbollah,” Hamdy said in an interview with the Lebanese newspaper Daily Star published on Saturday.
In a clear policy shift from Egypt’s Mubarak-era policy, the envoy described the resistance movement as “real force on the ground” with “big political and military influence.”
Hamdy said that the government of President Mohamed Morsi would pursue a policy to stretch “[its] hand out in the proper, balanced way to all regional powers” including Hezbollah, in order to forge “tight” contacts with Lebanon’s rulers.
Hamdy also said that he had met with Hezbollah’s political bureau members in efforts “to understand each other better.”
“Resistance in the sense of defending Lebanese territory … That’s their primary role. We … think that as a resistance movement they have done a good job to keep on defending Lebanese territory and trying to regain land occupied by Israel is legal and legitimate,” he said.
The relations between Egypt and Hezbollah reached rock bottom in 2008 during the previous Gaza war, when Hezbollah Chief Seyyed Hasan Nasrallah criticized Cairo for failing to support Palestinians. The ties generally were strained under former President Hosni Mubarak, in large part due to Egypt’s peace treaty with Israel.
Egyptians launched a revolution against Mubarak’s regime in January 2011, which brought an end to over three decades of dictatorship by him in February 2011.
- New Egypt warms up to Hezbollah: ambassador (dailystar.com.lb)
- Egypt to strengthen ties with Hezbollah (rt.com)
- US pressures Europe to label Hezbollah a “terrorist group” (alethonews.wordpress.com)
Israeli soldiers tried to evict an illegal settlement outpost, erected by extremist Israeli settlers near the Bet EI illegal settlement, north of the central West Bank city of Ramallah; the settlers attacked the soldiers who left the scene without evicting the structures.
Israeli sources reported that five Israeli policemen were injured during the clashes with the settlers, and were treated by field medics.
Political sources in Tel Aviv claimed that the army decided to stop the eviction and leave the area due to pressures practiced by a number of government officials.
It is worth mentioning that the government of Benjamin Netanyahu has several coalition members who are settlers, including Foreign Minister, Avigdor Lieberman, head of the extreme right-wing “Israel Our Home” party.
Israeli Yedioth Aharonoth reported that hundreds of settlers clashed with the army and the police, and hurled stones at them after the army ordered them to disperse.
The army later apprehended several settlers but left the scene without evicting the illegal outpost.
An Israeli security video recently leaked to the media shows that a Palestinian teenager who was killed at a checkpoint on December 12th was actually walking away from soldiers when he was shot in the back. The video shows absolutely no indication of the boy carrying any object that could be mistaken for a gun, as the Israeli military originally claimed.
After originally releasing an edited version of the security footage on December 17th, some journalists tried to get the Israeli military to release a full, unedited copy of the video. An unedited version was leaked by Israeli channel 10 television on Wednesday December 26th, which includes 19 seconds that was edited out – including the final (probably fatal) of the three shots fired at Mohammed Abu Salaymeh, which hit him in the back when he was already doubled over from the impact of the first two shots.
Abu Salaymeh, 17, was a student at the circus school in Hebron, and was killed while on his way to get his birthday cake. He was killed on his 17th birthday. In a statement issued the day after Mohammed’s death, the Palestinian Circus School (PCS) issued a statement saying, “Mohammed Salaymeh, 17 years old, our beloved student at the Palestinian Circus School since one and a half years, was brutally killed by the Israeli army in Hebron yesterday. Rest in Peace, dear Mohammed. You will always stay in our hearts. Today we can only be sad, and be close to the family in our thoughts and prayers.”
The Palestinian Circus School (PCS) is a program of the Middle East Children’s Alliance, and has branches in four Palestinian cities: Ramallah, Jenin, Hebron and Jerusalem. The school’s website states, “The PCS team has witnessed the positive effects of the circus workshops on the well-being of the children and the youth. We are encouraged to see them become more self confident, engage in respectful relationships with each other, and develop more trust, team spirit, and a higher concentration. Most importantly, they get a new taste for life. PCS also wants to be a model for promoting diversity and cooperation. The school enrols students from different socio-economic backgrounds and has been very successful in creating spaces where all these young people work together as one big circus family. Where they come from or what party or religion they belong to doesn’t matter. What is important is their common passion for circus arts and the joint motivation to offer something positive for their society.”
The video released this week of Mohammed’s death at the hands of Israeli soldiers further brings into question the Israeli military’s initial account of the incident. When the soldiers shot Mohammed on December 12th, the Israeli military issued a statement through a spokesperson that was widely reported in the media. In that statement, the military claimed that the teen appeared to have wielded a toy gun that was mistaken for a real gun, and that is why the soldier shot him.
As the video shows, there was no such object in Mohammed’s hand, and the claim that the soldier felt threatened is obviously false, in that the boy was nowhere near the soldier when he was shot three times and killed. There was a struggle with one of the officers, in which Mohammed appears to be fighting with the soldier. But it is after he has backed away from the soldier that the initial shots are fired, and a soldier moves in from another direction and kills him.
The Israeli military frequently issues statements immediately after the killing of Palestinians by its soldiers, making claims that are later proven to be false. In this way, media reports initially following these incidents often contain misinformation, as many media agencies simply report the military’s statements verbatim.
A new unedited video surfaced Thursday showing an Israeli soldier firing what appeared to be the ‘kill shot’ that ended the life of a 17-year-old Palestinian at a Hebron checkpoint earlier this month.
The video shows the soldier fire three shots at Mohammed al-Salamey after provoking the boy to throw several punches on December 12.
The first shot was fired at point blank range. A second shot was fired three seconds later from a distance of about 2 meters as Salamey attempted to gain his balance thrown off by the first shot.
The third and final shot was fired from a distance of about three meters several seconds later after Salamey had already been incapacitated.
A shorter, edited version of the video had previously been released by Israel’s army that omitted about 14 seconds in the middle, and another five seconds at the end which showed the final gunshot.
It is not clear what the soldier said to provoke the boy, but Israelis routinely harass and humiliate Palestinians at checkpoints.
The killing occurred as Salamey was reportedly travelling to buy a cake to celebrate his 17th birthday.
- Family denies Hebron teen killed by Israel was carrying toy gun (alethonews.wordpress.com)
- Israeli forces kill teenager on his 17th birthday in Hebron (alethonews.wordpress.com)
- Second group of journalists beaten in Hebron (alethonews.wordpress.com)
“Not only crop destruction, but US policies of extensive bombing, defoliation, and relocation of people from the countryside seem clearly to fall within the definition of crimes against humanity and war crimes,” wrote the Stanford Biology Group in a report entitled The Destruction of Indochina.
As part of a deliberate campaign of environmental destruction during its war against Vietnam, the US sprayed the countryside with herbicides containing carcinogenic chemicals to destroy tropical forest foliage and agricultural crops. The objectives of this diabolical program, which perhaps should be called “death by defoliant,” were threefold: first, to deprive the Vietnamese resistance fighters of the National Liberation Front (NLF) of hiding places and cover; second, to starve them into surrender by wiping out their food supply; and third, to drive rural peasants to urban areas controlled by the US-backed regime in an attempt to decimate popular support for the NLF.
Code-named Operation Hades and later Ranch Hand, the aerial application of the defoliant known as Agent Orange, which was manufactured by Dow Chemical and Monsanto, extended from August 1961 until August 1970, before being suspended by Deputy US Secretary of Defense David Packard. Some 49 million liters of the lethal herbicide were sprayed over 12 percent of the land area of Vietnam using average application rates 13 times higher than those recommended by the US Department of Agriculture for domestic weed control.
Agent Orange, so called because of the herbicide’s orange striped container, is a mixture of 2,4-dichlorophenoxyacetic acid (2,4-D), and n-butyl-2,3,4-trichlorophenoxyacetate (2,4,5-T), both of which are likely carcinogens according to the International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC), which is affiliated with the World Health Organization (WHO).
Over 18 million kilograms of 2,4,5-T, which constitutes 50 percent of Agent Orange, were sprayed on Vietnam as part of the fiendish US war crimes there.
By 1966, 2,4,5-T had been shown to cause greatly increased rates of birth defects, a fact which was suppressed by the US Government but confirmed by news reports from Saigon of increased birth deformities. The 2,4,5-T was also found to have been contaminated with TCDD (2,3,7,8-Tetrachlorodibenzo-p-dioxin), a known carcinogen described as “perhaps the most toxic molecule ever synthesized by man.” That the executives at Dow Chemical were well aware of the toxicity of the dioxin-contaminated 2,4,5-T was confirmed by an intra-company memo dated 22 February 1965.
As a result of the immoral and irresponsible herbicide spraying by the US under Operation Ranch Hand, it is estimated: 4.8 million Vietnamese were directly exposed to Agent Orange; 800,000 people suffer serious health problems and require constant medical attention; and 50,000 deformed children were born to parents who were either directly sprayed with defoliant or were exposed through consumption of contaminated food and water.
In 1990, in order to keep the Agent Orange atrocities under wraps, the White House under President Ronald Reagan ordered the cancellation of a 1987 Center for Disease Control study, which had concluded that Vietnam veterans ran a 50-percent increased risk of developing non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma (NHL), a type of blood cancer, as compared to veterans who had been stationed elsewhere. Today, the US Veterans’ Administration assumes that all military personnel who served in Vietnam from 1962 to 1975 were exposed to Agent Orange.
Since then, research has linked Agent Orange exposure to the following cancers: Soft tissue sarcoma; NHL; Hodgkin’s disease; and Chronic lymphocytic leukemia (CLL), including hairy cell leukemia and other chronic B-cell leukemias. Evidence also suggests a link between Agent Orange exposure and respiratory cancers, prostate cancer and multiple myeloma. Also, sufficient evidence exists suggesting Agent Orange exposure is linked to Chloracne, Amyloidosis, Transient peripheral neuropathy, Parkinson’s disease, Porphyria cutanea tarda, High blood pressure, Ischemic heart disease, Type 2 diabetes, and Spina bifida in children of those exposed.
In addition, exposure to the dioxin-laden chemical has been shown to be a risk factor in a number of cancers, diseases and other conditions, including: immune deficiency; reproductive and developmental abnormalities; central and peripheral nervous system pathology; endocrine disruption; diabetes; decreased pulmonary functions and bronchitis; eyelid pathology; altered serum testosterone levels; skin rashes; and thyroid disorders.
And the remnants of Agent Orange from the US war against Vietnam continue the legacy of death by defoliant:
The environment around many former US military bases is still contaminated,
Heavily sprayed areas remain a source of dioxin contamination,
Dioxin levels around Da Nang are 300 to 400 times higher than internationally accepted limits,
Over a million hectares of forests have been destroyed, causing a loss of ecological equilibrium,
Birds and animals have been destroyed along with forests either by direct spraying or as a result of destruction of food sources,
Barren, dry lands still exist in provinces in southern Vietnam where nothing grows,
And higher rates of birth defects exist among residents of sprayed regions and among families of veterans who fought in the south.
Agent Orange defoliation operations by the US were not limited to Vietnam, either, but were also conducted in Korea in the demilitarized zone (DMZ). From 1968 to 1969, over 220,000 liters of Agent Orange were sprayed over some 8,500 hectares of Korean land near the DMZ, affecting an estimated 4,000 US and 30,000 Korean soldiers. Others claim that the deadly defoliant was used there as far back as the late 1950s. According to a US Veterans’ Administration press release, “VA will presume herbicide exposure for any Veteran who served between April 1, 1968, and Aug. 31, 1971, in a unit determined by VA and the Department of Defense (DoD) to have operated in an area in or near the Korean DMZ in which herbicides were applied.”
The use of Agent Orange in Korea is particularly relevant to the writer, since I served in the US Army from August 1969 to August 1970 as a driver with the 2nd Supply and Transport Battalion at Camp Jessup, Munson, Korea located a few kilometers south of the DMZ. I was shocked to learn that I, too, must have been exposed to Agent Orange while carrying out my driving duties all around the region. Perhaps exposure to Agent Orange caused my thyroid problems or my children’s developmental disorders; lacking clear evidence, I don’t know for certain. But I would find comfort in knowing the truth – as no doubt would every victim of this horrific herbicide – even 40+ years after the fact.
Veteran Chuck Searcy, who returned to Vietnam to help with humanitarian programs for disabled children, said, “For me, the evidence is clear. I know it’s difficult to say 100 percent that this is the result of Agent Orange, but if you can find no other reason, then I agree with these families who believe the problem is the result of Agent Orange.”
In a February 2008 decision, the US second circuit Court of Appeals dimmed Agent Orange victims’ hopes of bringing to justice the criminal US government and complicit chemical companies responsible for Agent Orange. The Vietnamese plaintiffs then appealed to the US Supreme Court, which on 2 March 2009 refused to hear the case, bringing an end to litigation, but not the decree on the victims of death by defoliant.
Thus, almost 40 years have passed since the end of the US war against Vietnam, but for over 4 million Vietnamese and other victims of exposure who suffer profoundly both mentally and physically each day, this crime against humanity remains unpunished.
Yuram Abdullah Weiler is a freelance writer and political critic who has written dozens of articles on the Middle East and US policy. A former engineer with a background in mathematics and a convert to Islam, he currently writes perspectives on Islam, social justice, economics and politics from the viewpoint of an American convert to Shia Islam, focusing on the deleterious role played by the US in the Middle East and elsewhere.
Punto Fijo – Venezuela’s economy grew by 5.5 percent in 2012, fuelled largely by public spending and government housing programs, according to statistics released yesterday by Venezuela’s central bank.
The 5.5 percent growth in gross domestic product makes for 9 consecutive quarters of growth, higher than the 4.8 percent growth reported for 2011, and higher than the 5 percent growth forecast by the government.
A heavy push by the government to construct hundreds of thousands of homes in 2012 created a growth of 16.8 percent in construction, whereas government services expanded 5.2 percent, according to preliminary figures.
Commerce grew by 9.2 percent and communications by 7.2 percent, whereas manufacturing grew by only 2.1 percent, and the oil sector grew by 1.4 percent.
“We are above what we had forecast, even as the world is submerged in a crisis,” said central bank president Nelson Merentes.
Statistics released from the National Institute of Statistics (INE) also showed that unemployment had decreased to 6.4 percent, while formal employment had grown from 48 percent to 57 percent of total employment.
“Informal employment has continued to decrease from 51 percent to 42.5 percent, and around three million new formal jobs have been created during this period,” said INE president Elías Eljuri.
Some analysts have predicted that the Venezuelan economy could be hit hard in 2013 as the state is forced to devalue the currency and reduce spending from 2012.
However, government officials have forecast 6 percent growth for 2013, and assure that the economy is entering a period of consolidated growth.
“The negative events of the economy are behind us. We have entered a stage of growth, and we are among the five fastest growing economies in Latin America,” said finance minister Jorge Giordani.
Officials did not make any mention of a devaluation of the currency, but said that those kinds of adjustments are not announced beforehand.
According to calculations by Bank of America, Venezuela’s fiscal deficit for 2012 is around 8.8 percent of GDP, much lower than the 20 percent number that has been circulating among opposition sources and used to criticize government spending.
- Economic BS in Rich Countries is Reinforced by BS about Venezuela (alethonews.wordpress.com)
- The Achievements of Hugo Chavez (alethonews.wordpress.com)
- Venezuela Among the Most Positive Countries, Gallup Says (alethonews.wordpress.com)
Either 21st century Americans are saner than ever before or we’re too sick as a society to properly care for the mentally ill among us, but the fact is that fewer of us are receiving mental health care in psychiatric hospitals. According to “No Room at the Inn: Trends and Consequences of Closing Public Psychiatric Hospitals,” a study by the Treatment Advocacy Center, per capita state psychiatric bed populations plunged in 2010 to 14 beds per 100,000 population, identical to 1850, when the movement to treat seriously mentally ill persons in hospitals began. The number peaked at 300 beds per 100,000 in 1950, and has been declining ever since.
Using data from the National Association of State Mental Health Program Directors (NASMHPD) Research Institute, Dr. E. Fuller Torrey and four co-authors show that just from 2005 to 2010, the number of state psychiatric beds decreased by 14%, from 50,509 to 43,318. Noting that states have continued to eliminate beds since 2010, the report concludes that “many states appear to be effectively terminating a public psychiatric treatment system that has existed for nearly two centuries. The system was originally created to protect both the patients and the public, and its termination is taking place with little regard for the consequences to either group.”
Given the lack of hospital care, many of the most severely mentally ill, especially those whose conditions make it difficult for them to conform to social norms or control behaviors, wind up in hospital emergency departments, jails and prisons, all of which suffer as a result.
• Hospital emergency rooms are overcrowded with acutely ill patients who wait days or weeks for a psych bed to open; many are released without treatment.
• In some communities, as many as two-thirds of the homeless population is mentally ill, leading to frequent encounters with law enforcement.
• Jails and prisons are increasingly filled with the mentally ill, with some facilities reporting that one-third or more of their inmates are severely mentally ill.
Not surprisingly, the study found that states that cut funding for public hospitals experienced increased arrest-related deaths, as well as higher rates of violent crime generally, especially aggravated assault.
To Learn More:
No Room at the Inn: Trends and Consequences of Closing Public Psychiatric Hospitals (by E. Fuller Torrey, M.D., et al., Treatment Advocacy Center) (pdf)
Newtown Shooting Put Spotlight on U.S. Mental Health Care–Again (by Sydney Lupkin, ABC News)
- Bullets Are Safety Net as 64 Mentally Ill Die at Hands of Police (bloomberg.com)
- Newtown shooting shines light on gap in mental health services for young adults (charlotteobserver.com)
- A heart attack and psychiatric crisis are equally deserving of treatment (pattidudek.typepad.com)
Tom Friedman has been getting better on the Middle East lately, though he still has a long way to go before he can be taken seriously, at least in terms of his analytical acuity as opposed to his unfortunate influence. For example, consider today’s column on Obama and Chuck Hagel: not bad at all (though certainly not up to Steve Walt on the same topic, at http://walt.foreignpolicy.com/), with the rather large exception of his remarkable contention that Israel “is surrounded by more implacable enemies than ever.”
Well, let’s see about that. To the west of Israel is Egypt–ok, probably not as “friendly” to Israel as in the Mubarak days, but with no indication that the new regime intends to abandon its peace treaty with Israel. To the north is Lebanon, too weak to threaten anyone but itself and with no intention–that includes Hezbollah–of embarking on an unprovoked attack (maybe not even a provoked one) against Israel. To the northeast lies Syria, which under the Assads, father and son, has not only rigorously prevented any attacks on Israel from its soil but has been willing to sign a peace treaty with it, if only Israel would withdraw from the Golan Heights.
To the east is Jordan, if anything a de facto ally of Israel. Finally, close by lies Saudi Arabia–the same Saudi Arabia that for thirty years has been the leader of the Arab Peace Initiative, which offers Israel not only a peace treaty but full normalization of diplomatic and economic relations, provided that Israel ends its occupation and agrees to a two-state settlement with the Palestinians.
Who’s left? Well, Iraq is over 500 miles away, possibly a threat to Israel under Saddam Hussein, at least in theory, but obviously not today. Ok, Iran, the single implacable enemy of Israel, but at 1000 miles away, hardly “surrounding” Israel, and in any case lacking all capability or any apparent intention of attacking Israel–as opposed to the other way around.
Perhaps Friedman was sick during the week when they taught world geography in the third grade. Even so, that hardly explains why the Times would allow such mind-boggling absurdity to be published.
Almost half of all US women deployed to Iraq or Afghanistan say they were sexually harassed, while nearly one-quarter claim they were sexually assaulted. The findings shed light on the additional stress military women face when they work abroad.
Research by the Department of Veterans Affairs shows that sexual misconduct is a much greater problem than previously believed, since the Pentagon asserts that few reports were filed alleging sexual assault.
Only 115 such reports were filed in 2011, even though about 20,000 women were serving in Afghanistan in February. One of the study’s lead researchers, Amy Street, believes the data demonstrates an emotional cost of war that has hardly been considered.
The “lion’s share of the attention… has focused on combat exposure,” she told USA Today.
Of the 1,100 women who served in Iraq or Afghanistan and were surveyed by Street’s team, 48.6 percent admitted to being sexually harassed and 22.8 percent admitted to being sexually assaulted – and in some cases raped – while serving in a war zone.
But regardless of the new findings, the Pentagon has not promised to take any action to tackle the problem of sexual misconduct. Nate Galbreath, a senior adviser for the Pentagon’s sexual assault prevention office, said that he is not assessing Street’s research until he learns more about how it was conducted.
“It comes down to culture. (It) hasn’t changed, no matter what the generals or the secretaries of Defense say about zero tolerance,” California Rep. Jackie Speier told USA Today. “They have not scrubbed the sexism… out of the military.”
Many of the women who reported sexual harassment allege that the perpetrators were US military men. Earlier this year, dozens of female recruits at an Air Force base in Texas said they were sexually assaulted by their male instructors, while an Army brigadier is being forced to appear in court for sexually assaulting lower-ranking women while serving in Iraq and Afghanistan. In Street’s study, 47 percent of women who suffered from sexual misconduct said the offenders held a higher rank.
And the problem has been on the rise: reports of sexual assault at US military academies have increased from 65 in 2011 to 80 in 2012 – although most such cases seem to go unreported. The Pentagon estimated last year that the number of reports of sexual assaults on women is less than 20 percent of the number of actual incidents.
“Women in the armed forced are now more likely to be assaulted by a fellow soldier than killed in combat,” Newsweek’s Jesse Ellison wrote last year.
But even though the problem has long been known, little action has been done to tackle it and only six percent of cases lead to a conviction, causing the women to “suffer in silence”, The Huffington Post reported.
While Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta has claimed a no-tolerance policy for sexual assaults in the military, Sgt. Rebekah Havrilla believes his promises have no meaning.
“This whole concept of ‘zero tolerance’, it’s just words and no action,” she told The Huffington Post. The woman said that while the violence of war was brutal, she was most disturbed by the way the military men sexually harassed and assaulted her.
“Suicide bombers in pieces, [people] pulling dead American soldiers out of Humvees – I have seen a lot of stuff people should never see,” she said. “It was part of my job; death was something I had to deal with. I never, ever thought I was gonna have to deal with my supporters being the ones that did the most damage.”
During a one-year period between 2010 and 2011, the Pentagon received 3,192 reports of sexual assault, which equates to about 52 a day.
The new study by the Department of Veteran Affairs simply brings forth more evidence of the problem of sexual assault in the US military, which is especially prevalent in war zones. The Pentagon has so far refused to comment on the survey results.
- VA finds sexual assaults more common in war zones (usatoday.com)
US officials have finally acknowledged responsibility for a September assassination drone attack in Yemen that killed civilians, including women and children, after futile attempts by the Yemeni government to falsely claim blame in a bid to cover-up the American involvement.
The Yemeni government initially announced that “its Soviet-era jets” had carried out the September 2nd attack, killing alleged al-Qaeda militants, but the country’s tribal leaders and officials later admitted that it was an American assassination drone strike that caused the killing and that “all the victims were civilians who lived in a village near Radda, in central Yemen,” The Washington Post reported on Tuesday.
US officials, the daily notes, acknowledged last week “for the first time that it was an American strike.”
According to the report, over three months after the deadly US terror drone strike, the incident sheds light into “the Yemeni government’s efforts to conceal Washington’s mistakes and the unintended consequences of civilian deaths in American air assaults.”
Three weeks after the Radda strike, US-sponsored Yemeni President Abdu Rabu Mansour Hadi visited Washington and “praised the accuracy of US [assassination] drone strikes” in an interview with Washington Post editors and reporters, as well as publicly,” the daily notes.
“They pinpoint the target and have zero margin of error, if you know what target you’re aiming at,” Hadi reportedly said to an audience at the US think tank, the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars.
Washington played a key role in ousting Yemen’s former President Saleh and installing his ex-defense minister Hadi, the daily further adds, noting that the United States provides the Yemeni regime with “hundreds of millions of dollars” in military and “counterterrorism assistance.”
“US officials regard Hadi as an even stauncher counterterrorism ally than [former US-sponsored ruler Ali Abdullah] Saleh.”
US assassination aerial strikes have murdered numerous civilians in Afghanistan, Pakistan and other parts of the world, the daily confirms, adding that “those governments have spoken against the [drone] attacks.”
“But in Yemen, the weak government has often tried to hide civilian casualties from the public, fearing repercussions in a nation where hostility toward US policies is widespread. It continues to insist in local media reports that its own aging jets attacked the truck.”
The US daily also refers to another US terror drone strike in 2009 which the Yemeni regime claimed responsibility for. “We’ll continue saying the bombs are ours, not yours,” said a US Embassy e-mail leaked by the whistleblower Web site WikiLeaks, quoting then Yemeni ruler Saleh as telling the head of US Central Command at the time, General David Petraeus.
This is while the Obama administration has publicly remained silent about the deadly strike, “neither confirming nor denying any involvement, a standard practice with most US airstrikes in its clandestine counterterrorism fight in this strategic Middle Eastern country,” the Post underlines.
The daily further quotes unnamed US officials, who spoke on condition of anonymity, as confirming that “it was a Defense Department aircraft, either a drone or a fixed-wing warplane, that fired on the truck [in the Radda attack].” It notes that the Pentagon, as well as “senior US officials in Yemen and senior counterterrorism officials in Washington,” have declined to comment on the incident.
Meanwhile, the reports reiterated, public outrage is growing in Yemen as demands “for accountability, transparency and compensation go unanswered amid allegations by human rights activists and lawmakers that the government is trying to cover up the attack to protect its relationship with Washington.”
- Thousands of Yemenis hold anti-US, anti-Israeli Protest in Sana’a (jafrianews.com)
- 1000s of Yemenis hold anti-US, anti-Israeli demo (realisticbird.wordpress.com)