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News :: Peace & War

US Troop Suicide On the Rise In Iraq

Suicides of U.S. Troops Rising in Iraq -Pentagon
Wed January 14, 2004 03:26 PM ET


By Charles Aldinger
WASHINGTON (Reuters) - At least 21 U.S. troops have committed suicide in Iraq, a growing toll that represents one of every seven American "non-hostile" deaths since the war began last March, the Pentagon said on Wednesday.

"Fighting this kind of war is clearly going to be stressful for some people," Assistant Defense Secretary for Health Affairs Dr. William Winkenwerder told reporters in an interview.

He said the military was taking steps to prevent suicides, ascribed by one defense analyst to a perception among young soldiers that the U.S. force in Iraq was spread thin and faced an endless task.

"What you're really talking about here more than anything else is the perception that the future just looks indefinite and there are not enough troops coming in. It can look awfully bleak for an awful long time," said Ken Allard, a retired Army colonel who now works with the Center for Strategic and International Studies, a Washington think tank.

Winkenwerder said that of 21 confirmed suicides during the past year associated with the war in Iraq, 18 were in the Army and three others in the Navy and Marine Corps.

The suicide toll is probably higher than 21 because some "non-hostile" deaths are still being investigated, he added.

14 PERCENT OF 'NON-HOSTILE' DEATHS

A total of 496 U.S. troops have been killed in Iraq since the war began last March, 343 of them in combat and 153 in non-hostile incidents ranging from accidents to suicide, according to the Pentagon.

The 21 suicides represent nearly 14 percent of non-hostile deaths reported by the military, an increase over the proportion of 11 percent as of three months ago when the suicide number totaled 13.

Winkenwerder added that that nearly 400 troops had been evacuated from Iraq for stress-related problems.

The United States has about 123,000 troops in Iraq. The Pentagon plans to reduce that to about 110,000 by summer as it rotates those in the country home for rest.


Winkenwerder said the military was concerned over the suicides and was moving to deal with combat stress and other emotional problems triggered by armed conflict.
The military's responses to stress problems now include toll-free telephone numbers for troops to call for help as well as an increased number of military psychiatric specialists in Iraq to deal with problems before they become critical.
"Are those individuals who need (stress) support getting it? Are they being identified?," Winkenwerder asked. "We believe 'yes."'
Winkenwerder suggested that the Army had become more aware of stress after several domestic murders involving soldiers who returned to their base in North Carolina from Afghanistan in 2002.
Authorities say four soldiers at Fort Bragg killed their wives in June and July of 2002. Three of the cases involved Special Operations soldiers returning from Afghanistan. Two of the soldiers committed suicide and the other two were charged with murder. A fifth case involved a Special Forces major who was killed, with his wife charged with murder.
A November 2002 Army report concluded that the stress put on military families by frequent separations as the soldiers trained and fought may have contributed to the killings.

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News :: Peace & War

9 more US soldiers killed

The article makes no mention of Iraqi casualties.

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News :: Alternative Media

man arrested for ramming lockheed gate

A 25-year-old Fresno man was arrested Monday morning on suspicion of ramming his car into the front gate of the Lockheed Martin Facility at 16020 Empire Grade Road.

Brian Reddin from Fresno said voices in his head told him to ram his ’97 Mitsubishi 3000GT into the gate, said officer David Reed of the California Highway Patrol. Officers arrested him without incident at the gates about 8 a.m. on charges of trespassing and felony destruction of property.

Preliminary repair costs were estimated to exceed $5,000.

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News :: Alternative Media : Transportation

Bicyclist Hit Hard by SUV on Hiway 1

The cyclist was airlifted to Valley Medical Center in San Jose. His condition is serious to grave.

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News :: Civil & Human Rights : Gender & Sexuality

More Women Killed in Gautemala than in Juarez

Independent media journalist Marielos Monzon who, along with her two children, has received multiple death threats since 1998 but has kept reporting, invited Jane Fonda to visit Guatemala to publicize that more than 700 women and young girls have been killed in apparently motiveless attacks since 2001.

So far this year, the official count of women's bodies found is 270.

V-Day is a global movement to stop violence against women and girls.

http://www.vday.org

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Commentary :: Alternative Media : Police State

Fear and loathing In Miami

As the shouting in the streets is replaced by pleadings in the courtrooms, it is safe to say that Miami will be paying some hefty court settlements and judgments in the wake of the police state tactics its officers used to quell dissent last month.

Furious over the city’s handling of the protests during the Free Trade Area of the Americas conference, the ACLU and the AFL-CIO already are rolling out their legal cannons. While Police Chief John Timoney may be Miami’s man of the hour now, he likely will become the regime's scapegoat as the legal battles wear on. Elected officials who are now standing behind him will beat a hasty retreat.

But another culprit will probably escape any reproach, let alone punishment, for these outrages — the media. Across the continent, newspapers assured the public that tens of thousands of demonstrators were determined to disrupt negotiations on trade among the 34 western hemispheric democracies. Scary photos of masked marauders rampaging through the streets were standard illustrations.

The thought that the vast majority of those demonstrators had nothing more in mind than the exercise of their constitutionally protected right to speak their minds and petition for the redress of grievances never occurred to these reporters, editors and pundits.

Local TV stations were even worse offenders. Clips of the disturbances in Seattle were shown over and over on the evening news. Also frequently aired were sound bites promising destruction from the most outlandish looking among the prospective protesters, who were persistently identified as "anarchists" — although I heard none refer to themselves by that term.

Meanwhile, professors, clerics, union members, retirees and other more mainstream participants were hardly ever shown or interviewed. After a few weeks of this conditioning, it’s not hard to understand how the public might have concluded that Miami was about to be invaded by a hostile aliens from the planet Anarchy — rather than fellow Americans wanting only to express their peaceful disapproval of a plan they believed would do them and their children serious economic and environmental harm.

The program published by the “civil society? groups organizing the protests made it clear that demonstrations and marches composed only a small portion of the week's scheduled events. There were far more meetings, forums, teach-ins, workshops and other gatherings, where people could discuss subjects like corporate globalization and environmental dangers.

As far as I could determine, however, the media were notable by their absence from these talky assemblies, having found street commotions so much more exciting.

Miami New Times, the alternative newsweekly, provided some analysis of the issues, as did the Daily Business Review. New Times provided no information about where the civil society alternative gatherings were being held, and what subjects would be considered, though the Daily Business Review did provide such information.

Demonizing free speech

If there was any consistent message sent out by the media, it was to demonize the protesters, and, by implication, protest itself. That’s a rather strange activity for institutions that depend for their professional existence on the First Amendment. To hear the media tell it, anyone going downtown during those days was asking for trouble and should not complain if he or she found some.

It’s safe to say that police officers read newspapers and watch TV like the rest of us, and they have no immunity to media fear mongering. It’s quite possible that many of them sincerely believed from what they read and watched that they were being sent into desperate battle against a savage horde bent on the ruin of civilization.

Their built-up anxiety and anger — fed by the antics of a few itinerant street skirmishers, as well as Chief Timoney's harangues — found an outlet in assaults on peaceful demonstrators who had no thought of being violent themselves.

Once the media found their own minions among the arrested, bruised, beaten and — in the case of professional photographer Carl Kesser — nearly killed, some reporters and pundits began to treat the police response to the protests with greater skepticism.

While the Herald ran a full page "community announcement" celebrating the "success" of the FTAA conference on Nov. 23, Miami New Times has published several strong stories detailing police mistreatment of its reporter and other people who were unwise enough to be downtown during these Days of (Police) Rage.

But the media have yet to examine their own agent provocateur role in these disturbances. It remains to be seen whether they are capable of learning anything that might help them cover the next mass protest more responsibly.



John Gorman is a freelance journalist based in Miami.

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News :: Education & Youth

Teens plan anti-governor march

Teens plan anti-governor march
LATINO GROUP'S PROTEST OF LICENSE LAW REPEAL TO STOP IN S.J. MONDAY
By Edwin Garcia
Mercury News

A group of Bay Area teenagers has it in for Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger. Angry that the movie star-turned-politician abolished a law that would have let illegal immigrants apply for driver's licenses, the teens are trying to persuade a million students to join them in a statewide protest against Schwarzenegger -- and anyone else who has opposed licenses for the undocumented.



Latino Focus, a Redwood City-based group of about 50 students, plans to boycott Schwarzenegger's movies, mount a large-scale voter registration campaign and organize a Million Student March on Cinco de Mayo, or May 5.



Most of the group's members have friends and relatives who don't qualify for driver's licenses because of their illegal status, so they are determined to show that Schwarzenegger is ``excluding immigrants from something they need to make their lives better,'' said Yvette Perez, 15, one of the group's leaders.



A spokeswoman for Schwarzenegger declined to comment on the effort, but suggested that the governor early next year may consider a new law, more restrictive than the one he repealed, to allow some illegal immigrants to obtain licenses.



Members of the Bay Area-wide Latino Focus will promote their cause during a two-day, statewide bus tour with their first stop at 9 a.m. Monday at San Jose's Tropicana Shopping Center. The teens will spread their message later in the day in San Francisco, Oakland and Sacramento, before a final stop the next day at Olvera Street in Los Angeles, a Mexican theme plaza.



In addition to announcing the march, the youths will denounce a campaign by a political group known as Save Our State, which seeks to place an initiative on an upcoming ballot asking voters to ban public services for illegal immigrants, similar to what Proposition 187 intended to accomplish nine years ago.



While most teenagers would find organizing boycotts, marches and voter registration campaigns a daunting task, 15-year-old Erica Sandoval says ``it's not that difficult.'' Her father, Salvador Sandoval, founded Latino Focus 10 years ago to improve a Redwood City neighborhood rife with gunfire. The youths also are getting tips from the American Civil Liberties Union's Northern California Web site.



Erica is confident Schwarzenegger will get their point. ``We're going to hurt him in the pocket, we're not going to buy his movies,'' she said.



Schwarzenegger repealed the license law Dec. 3, less than a month before it was scheduled to go into effect. The repeal came after the Assembly and Senate voted to overturn it, and after polls showed that the law, approved by former Gov. Gray Davis, was unpopular across California.



Schwarzenegger's staff and aides to the law's author, state Sen. Gil Cedillo, D-Los Angeles, are discussing a more restrictive version of the bill that could be introduced as early as January.



Schwarzenegger Press Secretary Margita Thompson said both parties ``will look into the issues further'' as long as the driver's license applicants can be screened ``for background checks and insurance.''





IF YOU'RE INTERESTED



Students interested in joining the Latino Focus activities should e-mail Salvador Sandoval at: latinofocus@aol.com. Leaders of the Million Student March will hold a public meeting at 9 a.m. Monday in San Jose, in the Newberry building of the Tropicana Shopping Center at Story and King roads.

Contact Edwin Garcia at egarcia@mercurynews.com or (408) 920-5432

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News :: Globalization & Capitalism : Health & Drugs : Peace & War

Electronic Iraq Article Points To Coverup of US Weapons Used in War

Iraqi doctors are unable to diagnose new respiratory, skin, and hair loss illnesses while US 'relandscapes' bombing target.

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