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News :: Alternative Media

Pirate Capital

For years, the Bay Area has been a leader of the pirate radio movement, with unlicensed micro-stations broadcasting counterculture messages across the region. But a crackdown by the FCC, including a raid last week on SF Liberation Radio, has local pirates fuming -- and vowing to fight back.

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Commentary :: Alternative Media

Moore Apologists Are Not What We Need

Critique of Michael Moore, re: Amy Goodman, Wesley Clarke, etc.

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News :: Peace & War

Army Concerned About Suicides of U.S. Troops in Iraq

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - At least 13 U.S. troops have committed suicide in Iraq, representing more than 10 percent of American noncombat deaths there, and the Army dispatched a suicide-prevention expert to assess the problem, officials said on Thursday.

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Commentary :: Alternative Media

Michael Moore: Answers Please Mr. Bush

Michael Moore Wants Some Answers From the Puppet in the White House. Read an excerpt from his new book, reprinted in the Guardian.

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News :: Peace & War

US wounded in the shadows

Oct 2, 2003

US wounded in the shadows

http://www.atimes.com/atimes/Middle_East/EJ02Ak01.html

By David Isenberg

On July 2, President George W Bush, in referring to combat operations in Iraq, said, "Bring them on." And bring it on they have. As everyone knows, coalition forces, primarily American, are being killed and wounded on a regular basis - 357 US and British fatalities to date. But while the US dead, whether in combat operations or from other causes, are reported publicly, the wounded have almost disappeared from public view. And their numbers are growing, and providing appropriate care is an increasing burden for the military and civilian health systems.

How many wounded and injured are there? Nobody really knows for sure. Understandably, it is difficult to be precise when more casualties are being created on a near daily basis. But gathering data is difficult for other reasons.

Casualties are first triaged "in country" and then sent to the Landstuhl Regional Medical Center (LRMC) in Germany. The LRMC processes every patient from Operation Iraqi Freedom and Operation Enduring Freedom, the military campaign in Afghanistan. It is the largest military medical center outside the United States, and remains at its 322-bed capacity, nearly twice the number of pre-war beds. As of September 16, Landstuhl had treated approximately 6,000 service members from Operation Iraqi Freedom.

From LRMC, the wounded go on to facilities in the US, such as the Army's Walter Reed Army Medical Center in Washington, DC. From there they are sent as soon as possible throughout the country - first to base hospitals where their unit is or to local Veterans' Administration and hometown hospitals. This makes it next to impossible to collect data on the total number of injured, types of injuries and dispensation of the injured. To make a true database, one would have to poll nearly every hospital in the country on a weekly basis to garner real-time information on these patients.

As was recently evidenced in the recovery of well-known former US prisoner of war Jessica Lynch, hospital employees are told not to talk about numbers or types of injuries. The Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act of 1996, which went into effect last October, states health care personnel can go to prison and/or be fined astronomical amounts for even talking to other health professionals or family members about the condition and/or treatment of anyone in health care in the US at this time.

The Washington Post reported on September 3 that the number of those wounded in action has grown so large and attacks have become so commonplace that US Central Command usually issues press releases listing injuries only when the attacks also kill one or more personnel. The result is that many injuries go unreported.

According to the Post article, C-17 transport jets arrive virtually every night at Andrews Air Force Base, outside Washington, on medical evacuation missions. Since the war began, more than 6,000 service members have been flown back to the United States. Aside from the wounded in action, and those with non-hostile injuries, the figure includes the mentally ill.

Interestingly enough, while the US Central Command website does post casualty reports, and even allows one to search back in time by day or month, there is no such feature on DefenseLink, the Pentagon's public website. It only lists fatalities.

According to Central Command figures, as of September 28, a total of 1,358 US people have been reported wounded in action, or an average of 7.07 a day since March 20, when Saddam Hussein's statue was toppled in Baghdad. Plus another 327, or 1.7 per day, wounded in non-hostile incidents. That is a total of 1,685, or 8.7 US military wounded per day. The numbers of course fluctuate day-to-day and don't appear to take in non-combat injuries (given the 6,000 plus figure mentioned as treated above) or are understated.

Fortunately for the soldiers, the percentage of those who die from their wounds is less than in past wars. The Boston Globe reported in August that roughly one in seven soldiers wounded in combat in Iraq has died. In previous conflicts dating to World War II, one in every three or four soldiers died after incurring combat wounds.

In World War II, 30.3 percent of soldiers wounded in combat died. That percentage fell during the Korean War to 24.1 percent, and held steady through the Vietnam War (23.6 percent) and the Gulf War of 1991(23.9 percent). But the number has declined sharply in Iraq, with 13.8 percent of battlefield wounds being fatal.

The types of wounds being seen in Iraq include gunshot wounds, shrapnel wounds from rocket-propelled grenades (RPGs) and mortars, burn injuries, motor vehicle accidents and many other injuries. Many of the wounded have required amputations.

According to Major Gene Delaune, a US Air Force reserve physician interviewed by Minnesota Public Radio, since arriving in Baghdad July 16, virtually every injured soldier he has seen had been hurt seriously enough to require transport out.

"We see a lot of amputations," Delaune said. "Initially I was probably seeing one or two amputations a day. Now we're down to maybe one every two or three days," said Delaune. "The limbs just get damaged to a point where they can't be salvaged, and in the field hospitals where they're initially treated, an amputation is performed. We see a lot of eye injuries as well."

While the issue of emotional or psychological disorders has received almost no public attention, it is very much on the minds of the medical community. One publication, prepared for clinics treating returned Iraq war veterans, stated, "Post-traumatic stress disorder is one of many different ways a veteran can manifest chronic post-war adjustment difficulties. Veterans are also at risk for depression, substance abuse, aggressive behavior problems, and the spectrum of severe mental illnesses precipitated by the stress of war."

According to a report in the July 9 Christian Science Monitor, the US military took unprecedented steps to prepare for the inevitable psychological problems among returning troops. It reported, "Early intervention, officials hope, will lessen the amount and severity of post traumatic stress, depression, substance abuse, as well as domestic violence and marital breakdowns."

Caring for the wounded has become more difficult due to lack of space. In August it was reported that Walter Reed Army Medical Center was referring some outpatients to nearby hotels because casualties from operations in Afghanistan and Iraq have overloaded the hospital's convalescence facility. At that time they were referring about 20 patients or their relatives to hotels each day. Walter Reed has been at maximum capacity since Operation Enduring Freedom began in Afghanistan in 2001.

The hospital staff is working 70- or 80-hour weeks, and Walter Reed is so full that it has taken over beds normally reserved for cancer patients to handle the influx.

Sometimes the lack of needed items borders on the surreal. Back in July, the Chaplain's Office at LRMC sent out an appeal for useable clothing for male soldiers injured in Iraq. Many of these soldiers were airlifted to the hospital in medical dressing gowns and had no access to clothes for onward transportation.

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News :: Peace & War

General: 3 to 6 GIs Dying in Iraq a Week

General: 3 to 6 GIs Dying in Iraq a Week

http://www.guardian.co.uk/worldlatest/story/0,1280,-3218908,00.html

October 2, 2003
By TINI TRAN
Associated Press Writer

BAGHDAD, Iraq (AP) - Nearly six months after the fall of Baghdad, U.S. troops are suffering an average of three to six deaths and 40 wounded every week, the commander of American forces in Iraq said Thursday.

``The enemy has evolved - a little bit more lethal, a little more complex, a little more sophisticated, and in some cases, a little bit more tenacious,'' said Lt. Gen. Ricardo Sanchez. ``The evolution is about what we expected to see over time.''

American forces are being attacked 15-20 times a day, counting roadside bombs, mostly in Baghdad and the surrounding Sunni stronghold to the west and north of the capital, Sanchez said.

Since May 1, when the U.S. declared the end of major combat, an estimated 90 soldiers have died in combat, according to an Associated Press tally. A total of 314 American service members have died since the war started March 20, according to the U.S. Defense Department.

Soldiers whose wounds are not severe are treated in field hospitals in Iraq. Those with more serious wounds are sent to the American military hospital in Landstuhl, Germany, after their conditions are stabilized. Some of the most seriously wounded are being sent to the United States. The military would not give a breakdown.

Landstuhl Regional Medical Center has been getting an average of 40 to 44 patients a day from Iraq, about 10 to 12 percent of whom are classified as ``battle injuries,'' said spokeswoman Marie Shaw.

Since the start of the conflict, the hospital has seen 6,684 patients - 5,377 coming after May 1, Shaw said.

``What we don't see a lot of, though we see some, is gunshot wounds,'' Shaw said. ``We see a lot of shrapnel wounds, some amputations, some burns - mostly from individual explosive devices.''

Sanchez blamed the changing nature of the conflict on an influx of militants and other terrorist elements coming in from Syria and northern Iran to join the core resistance of Saddam loyalists.

``We believe there is, in fact, a foreign fighter element. There is a terrorist element focused on the coalition and international community in general and the Iraqi people to try to disrupt the progress being made,'' he said.

In the latest violence, U.S. soldiers came under fire Thursday near the Fallujah mayor's office and killed one of their attackers, an American officer said, while a witness said a U.S. convoy was attacked southeast of the volatile city.

Those incidents came a day after three American soldiers were killed in separate attacks as the U.S.-led coalition faced an increasingly sophisticated resistance movement.

None of the Americans was hurt in the attack by three gunmen in Fallujah, a major city 30 miles west of Baghdad in the so-called ``Sunni Triangle,'' but two girls were injured in the crossfire, Lt. Col. Brian Drinkwine said.

A check by The Associated Press at the town's two hospitals showed one dead and four wounded - a policeman, a 17-year-old boy who underwent surgery for an abdominal wound, and a mother and her 4-year-old daughter. All were in stable condition.

Drinkwine said the attack was aimed at the city building.

``While we were conducting a meeting in the city council building (mayor's office), we were fired upon. We returned fire and killed one enemy,'' Drinkwine said.

Shortly before the attack, a fuel tanker in a U.S. convoy near Amiriyah, southeast of Fallujah, was hit by a mine or roadside bomb, according to Mohammed Hamid, who lives nearby. He said a soldier in the passenger seat of the cab pulling the tanker was killed and the driver was wounded. The military had no information on that attack.

Twenty miles to the east in Khaldiyah, a roadside bomb exploded as a U.S. convoy was passing, but did not damage the American vehicles.

Witness accounts of the Fallujah attack were at odds with those of the military, with some claiming the gunmen fired from a passing car on a U.S. foot patrol. Others said a single gunman attacked from the street.

Ali Jassim, commander of the Fallujah Protection Force, also said the dead man was not an attacker but an innocent bystander. He said policeman Mohammed Muafaq, 27, was shot in the hip.

Walid al-Jumaly, a tire shop owner, said more than 10 soldiers were walking across the main street in front of the mayor's office and an adjacent U.S. Army post when a man stepped from a side street, shouted ``God is great!'' and started firing with an assault rifle.

He said the Americans used tear gas and returned fire.

Afterward, residents of the Euphrates River city said they were happy the soldiers came under attack, calling the assailant a freedom fighter.

Assou Nadim Hamid, a policeman himself and brother of one of eight Fallujah police mistakenly killed by U.S. troops Sept. 12, voiced anger at the Americans.

``Whenever they come inside Fallujah, they will be attacked. Saddam Hussein is gone. But now we have the same kind of regime,'' he said.

A bomb was found at the mayor's office last week and defused. U.S. troops routinely are in the office to coordinate reconstruction projects in the region.

Fallujah, a wedge of land west and north of Baghdad, has been the scene of repeated attacks by resistance fighters opposed to the American occupation.

On Wednesday, a soldier from the 1st Armored Division was shot and killed while on patrol in the al-Mansour district of western Baghdad, the U.S. command said. A female soldier from the 4th Infantry Division also died Wednesday when a roadside bomb exploded about 300 yards from the main U.S. base in Tikrit, Saddam's hometown. Two other soldiers were wounded in the blast. U.S. troops in Tikrit fired mortars overnight into empty fields near the base in a show of force.

Another soldier from the 4th Infantry Division died following a rocket-propelled grenade attack on a convoy Wednesday near Samara, about 60 miles north of the Iraqi capital, according to the military.

In Tikrit, the military said the Baath Party official was arrested overnight near Baqouba. His name was not released, but the military said he was believed to have been helping Izzat Ibrahim al-Douri, a longtime Saddam confidant and one of the most senior members of the former regime still at large.

Al-Douri, Saddam's Revolutionary Command Council vice chairman, is No. 6 on the most-wanted list of 55 Iraqis. His daughter was married to Saddam's son, Odai, who was killed with his brother, Qusai, in a U.S.-led attack in July.

Meanwhile, troops of the 4th Infantry Division killed one Iraqi and wounded another after assailants fired rocket-propelled grenades and small arms fire at a U.S. patrol near Balad, division spokeswoman Maj. Josslyn Aberle said.

In New York, U.S. diplomats circulated a new draft U.N. Security Council resolution calling for a strengthened U.N. role in rebuilding Iraq. The draft provided no timetable for a handover of authority to Iraqis, according to a copy of the document obtained by AP.

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News :: Peace & War

U.S. Military Deaths in the Conquest of Iraq

U.S. Military Deaths in the Conquest of Iraq

http://www.ac.wwu.edu/~stephan/USfatalities.html

Remember how they showed a counter every night while US hostages were being
held in Iran? Here's the chart I'd like to see on the nightly news these
days. The URLs on the chart and the two events indicated by dots on the line
are hyperlinked - just click them.

Also, see: http://lunaville.org/warcasualties/Details.aspx

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News :: Peace & War

Latinos On The Line

Latinos On The Line

http://www.tompaine.com/feature2.cfm/ID/9059

Bill Berkowitz is a long time political observer and columnist.
10/3/03

Lance Cpl. Jose Gutierrez grew up as an orphan on the streets of Guatemala City, and crossed the border illegally from Mexico at age 14. He eventually managed to get legal resident status and attended to high school and college in California. Gutierrez joined the Marines in March 2002, because "he wanted to give back a little bit to his adopted country," says his foster mother, Nora Mosquera. He was killed last March, becoming one of the first U.S. soldiers to die in combat in Iraq.

As the situation in Iraq continues to deteriorate, the U.S. military is "turning increasingly to Latinos — including tens of thousands of non-citizen immigrants — to do the fighting and dying on its behalf," Andrew Gumbel reported recently in the London-based newspaper The Independent. Indeed, Latinos make up a disproportionate percentage of the lowest ranks in the armed services. And now they also make up a disproportionate number of the wounded and dying in Iraq.

Dr. Jorge Mariscal of U.C. San Diego is a Vietnam veteran and a member of the counter-recruitment organization called the Project on Youth and Non-Military Opportunities (Project YANO). He says little has been reported on the ethnicity of casualties in Iraq, but judging by names and photos provided on the CNN Web site describing the victims, his group estimates some 20 percent have been Latinos.

Mariscal attributes these high numbers to active recruitment by the military. Latinos are especially responsive to recruitment, he wrote in a spring issue of the anti-militarism newsletter Draft Notices, because "Mexican American or Chicano/a youth — that is, the children of families who have been in the U.S. for many decades, if not centuries — continue to have a relatively limited range of life opportunities." More than a third of Latinos in the United States are under 18 years of age, he points out, and their high school dropout rate hovers around 40 percent. That, combined with high incarceration rates (in California, Latinos are 36 percent of the prison population but only 32 pecent of the state population), means "many Latino youth see little hope for the future."

Mariscal's organization goes into schools to talk with students about the realities of military life. He says rising educational costs means that attending even community college is increasingly out of reach for many Latino high school graduates, so that "joining the military is one of the few options that are appealing to them."

Gumbel agrees. The military, he says, views Latinos "as by far the most promising ethnic group for recruitment, because their numbers are growing rapidly in the U.S. and they include a plentiful supply of low-income men of military age with few other job or educational prospects."

In fact, the armed services are quite open about this emphasis on gaining new Latino recruits, although they frame the effort solely in terms of population growth. John McLaurin is the Deputy Assistant Secretary of the Army for Human Resources, and spoke recently about the size of the Hispanic recruiting market. The goal, he says, is "to boost the Latino numbers in the military from roughly 10 percent to as much as 22 percent." His words are reflected by a recent report in which the U.S. Army Recruiting Command asserts that "since the Hispanic population is the fastest growing demographic in the United States and is projected to become 25 percent of the U.S. population by the year 2025," it has become a "priority area" for recruitment.

Recruiting Latinos has been on the military's radar screen for several years. In February 1999, Harold Jordan, then coordinator of the American Friends Service Committee's National Youth and Militarism Program, wrote that in response to "a difficult recruiting climate," the military had "stepped up their attempts to get Latinos to join the services." Since that time, the military has put together a vast array of advertising campaigns aimed at recruiting Latino youth: "Visit any high school with a large Latino population and you will find JROTC units, Army-sponsored computer games, and an overabundance of recruiters, often more numerous than career counselors," says Dr. Mariscal.

Both citizens and non-citizens are seen as fertile ground. While both groups face the growing lack of employment opportunities, non-citizens are being induced into the military with promises of a fast track to citizenship. The Bush administration has told non-citizens they can apply for citizenship the day they join instead of waiting the usual five years after receiving their green card. Between 35,000 and 40,000 non-citizens — most of them Latino — are currently enlisted, and recruiters have reportedly even crossed into Mexico looking for U.S. school dropouts who still carry U.S. residency papers.

Has the military's emphasis on Hispanic recruitment been successful? According to a 2003 Pew report on Hispanics in the military, the overall strength of the military dropped by 23 percent between 1992 and 2001, while the number of Hispanics in uniform increased by 30 percent. "Latino enlisted personnel are... overrepresented when compared to the civilian labor force of the appropriate age that possess both the necessary educational credentials and immigration status," the report states.

Referring to the Pew statistics, Dr. Mariscal says Latinos made up some 13.5 percent of the civilian labor force 18 to 44 years old — the age range for military service — and they made up nearly 10 percent of the military as of September 2001. "These numbers are deceiving," he says. "In reality, nearly 25 percent of Latinos in the military are involved in combat or hazardous duty occupations. They are basically the grunts."

As a green-card holder, Lance Cpl. Jose Gutierrez was granted citizenship under a 2002 executive order allowing the family of military personnel killed in combat to apply for posthumous citizenship. But the citizenship is "primarily symbolic," says Francisco Arcaute of the U.S. Bureau of Citizenship and Immigration Services, as there are no benefits for relatives go along with it.

Engracia Sirin Gutierrez, Lance Cpl. Jose Gutierrez's sister, traveled from Guatemala to Los Angeles for her brother's funeral: "I do feel proud, because not just anyone gives up their life for another country," she told reporters. "But at the same time it makes me sad because he fought for something that wasn't his."

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