Guy Parent finds badly wounded soldiers not getting disability cheques

Aug 19, 2014

A new report by Canada’s veterans watchdog says nearly half of the country’s most severely disabled ex-soldiers are not receiving a government allowance intended to compensate them for their physical and mental wounds.

Veterans ombudsman Guy Parent also concluded that those who are receiving the permanent impairment allowance, along with a recently introduced supplement, are only awarded the lowest grade of the benefit.

The criteria used by federal bureaucrats to evaluate disability do not match the intent of the allowance, and the guidelines are too restrictive, the report said.

It doesn’t make sense to set aside cash to deal with a problem and then not spend it, Parent said. “You can flood programs with money, but of you don’t broaden the access, then you haven’t accomplished anything.”

It’s a pattern with the current government, he said, noting how the Conservatives poured funding into the burial program for impoverished ex-soldiers in 2013, but took a year to ease the eligibility criteria so people could actually qualify.

“The evidence presented in the report clearly demonstrates that many severely impaired veterans are either not receiving these benefits or may be receiving them at a grade level that is too low,” the ombudsman said.

“This is unfair and needs to be corrected.”

Investigators could find no evidence that Veterans Affairs adjudicators consider the effect of an enduring injury on an individual’s long-term employment and career prospects, he added.

Findings under review

In a statement, Veteran Affairs Minister Julian Fantino said the findings of the ombudsman’s latest report will be considered as the government prepares its response to a Commons committee review, which has recommended a series of improvements to the legislation governing veterans benefits.

“I have asked officials at Veterans Affairs to ensure that they consider the recommendations found in the veterans ombudsman’s PIA report as well as consult his office in the development of solutions to improve the New Veterans Charter,” Fantino said.

In defending itself against criticism that veterans are being short-changed, the Harper government has been quick to point to the allowance and the supplement as a sign of its generosity.

Fantino told a House of Commons committee last spring that some permanently disabled soldiers receive more than $10,000 per month, but figures from his own department show that only four individuals in the entire country receive that much.

The department went a step further and released a chart at the end of July that shows the maximum benefits soldiers of different ranks could qualify for under existing legislation — a “misleading” display that could raise “false expectations” among veterans, Parent said.

The latest report also noted that when a veteran dies, the spouse automatically loses the allowance, creating financial hardship for the family. Under the old Pension Act system, the widow or widower continued to receive support.

The permanent impairment allowance is a taxable benefit awarded to disabled soldiers in three grade levels as compensation for lost future earnings. The Harper government introduced a supplement to the allowance in 2011.

In some respects, that supplement contributed to a dramatic increase in the number of applications.

According to figures released by Veterans Affairs in June, some 521 ex-soldiers are deemed to be the most critically injured, but the vast majority of them — 92 per cent — receive the lowest grade of allowance support.

The ombudsman’s report estimates Canada has a total of 1,911 severely wounded soldiers, 924 of whom receive no allowance at all.

Ron Cundell, of the web site VeteranVoice.info, said the latest review doesn’t tell ex-soldiers anything they don’t know already.

“It’s a shame,” Cundell said. “The (office of the veterans ombudsman) reports are proving what the veteran community has known for a long time. Veterans Affairs is not treating veterans fairly.”

One of the best comments.

This also applies to most countries not just Canada.

 

Strange world this western world, give a man a helmet and a rifle, send him to a strange country, feed him some army rations, pay him as little as possible, send him home and try to forget about him, healthy or wounded.
Give a man a helmet and a football, fly him all over your own country, put him up in luxury hotels, feed him steaks and champagne, pay him more then his agent asks for, put his name and picture on the front pages of everything from magazines to breakfast cereal box, if he gets hurt provide him with his own private doctor and full staff, retire him in a mansion with full compensation and staff and talk about him for years at every sports program.

Seems Harper has followed what the US does to it’s Veterans. As little as possible or nothing.

More times then not these young men and women are sent to wars that are fabricated so weapons manufactures, banks, oil companies etc make profit.

ISIS in Syria are freedom fighters, but in Iraq they are the bad guys.

John McCain happens to be friends of those ISIS terrorists.

ISIS brags about links to US Senator John McCain

The US and the Harper Regime also support the Ukrainian Government,

which is killing people in Eastern Ukraine,

Both also support Israel who is killing people in Gaza.

Both supported the killing of people in Libya.

Both support the killing of Syrians.

All of the above are fabricated, wars based on Lies.

Those so called freedom fighters in Libya, Syria are Terrorist funded by the US.

The US started the war in the Ukraine. That is typical of the US however, they have been starting wars for years.

The main stream media is a disgrace. They push the propaganda and lies produced by the Governments.

Like the weapons of mass destruction in Iraq. All lies.

Those so called freedom fighter remind me of Death Squads.

Well we all know, who trains them, now don’t we?

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France: Passenger train derailed at Bretigny-sur-Orge station

Update July 14 2013 at bottom of page.

 

At least 6 believed dead after passenger train derails outside Paris

France train de rail
A view of the Bretigny sur Orge train station, south of Paris, after a train derailed Friday July, 12, 2013. A packed passenger train skidded off its rails after leaving Paris on Friday, leaving seven people believed dead and dozens injured as train cars slammed into each other and overturned, authorities said. (AP)

France train de rail 2

Screen capture from Video at CTV
July 12, 2013 3:32 PM EDT

PARIS — A packed passenger train derailed and crashed into a station outside Paris on Friday on the eve of a major holiday weekend. At least seven people were believed killed and dozens were injured, authorities said.

The crash at Bretigny-sur-Orge station was the deadliest in France in years. Some cars slid toward the station itself, crushing part of the metallic roof over the platform. Images from the scene shown on French television showed gnarled metal and shards on the platform, and debris from the crash clogging the stairwell leading beneath the platform.

Officials didn’t comment on reports that some passengers may still be trapped on the train. It was unclear whether all the casualties were inside the train, or whether some had been on the platform, or how fast the train was travelling. The head of the SNCF rail authority, Guillaume Pepy, called it a “catastrophe.”

The cause of the crash was under investigation. Two train cars, Nos. 3 and 4, initially derailed, then knocked the other cars off the track, Pepy said.

“Some cars simply derailed, others are leaning, others fell over,” he said.

Interior Minister Manuel Valls said at least seven people are believed dead and several dozen injured, but added that the casualty toll is “in constant evolution.”

The SNCF said the train was carrying about 385 passengers when it derailed Friday evening at 5:15 p.m. and crashed into the station at Bretigny-sur-Orge, about 20 kilometres south of Paris. The train was headed from Paris to Limoges, a 400- kilometre journey and was about 20 minutes into what would have been a three-hour journey.

The accident came as France is preparing to celebrate its most important national holiday, Bastille Day, on Sunday, and as masses of vacationers are heading out of Paris and other big cities to see family or on summer vacation.

All trains from Paris’ Gare d’Austerlitz were suspended after the accident.

A passenger speaking on France’s BFM television said the train was going at a normal speed and wasn’t meant to stop at Bretigny-sur-Orge. He described children unattended in the chaotic aftermath. He said there are swarms of emergency workers at the scene.

Source
Video at the Source as well.Death toll has been lowed from 7 to 6.
9 are in critical condition so the death toll may rise.More information, photos and video HERE and HEREFrance train 4

UntiFrance train 3

More information and video HERE
July 14 2013 update

Death toll remains at 6.

Video at site below as well

France train crash clean-up operations begin, as investigations reveal potential track fault to blame

 

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Published in: on July 12, 2013 at 8:19 pm  Comments Off on France: Passenger train derailed at Bretigny-sur-Orge station  
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Afghanistan’s hidden toll: Injured Troops

Afghanistan’s hidden toll: Troops invalided out triple in three years

Unpublished figures show thousands of ex-soldiers have sought financial help – many suffering with stress disorders. Brian Brady and Nina Lakhani report

Sunday, 30 August 2009

The numbers of ‘post-service’ claims has risen by a factor of almost 100, from 15 to 1,455 since 2005

At its bloodiest, the fighting around Sangin in Afghanistan’s Helmand Province, has been likened to Rorke’s Drift, the 1879 battle portrayed in the film Zulu. The military discourage the comparison but as one officer puts it: “The only difference is there are no Zulus at Sangin.”

The town has seen some of the deadliest fighting of the campaign. More British soldiers have been killed there and more medals won than anywhere else in Afghanistan. But the benefits the British troops have brought are seized on by officials, including decreased opium production and more Afghans being educated. But the benefits have come at a price, not all of which are as obvious as the monuments to the fallen British soldiers erected by their comrades.

Shortages of helicopters and surveillance equipment mean troops are only as safe as far as they can see with their rifle sights or binoculars. The Taliban also know it and are careful to lay their lethal mines and improvised explosive devices just out of sight. Soldiers work on the basis that every time they patrol there is a one in four chance one of them will die. Privately, senior British officers say they currently work on the assumption at least a “limb a day” will be lost.

The tally of dead currently stands at 208, but some senior officers believe this could rise sharply. The numbers of those wounded and maimed have soared by 300 per cent in the past three years as the increasingly bloody struggle to maintain order has intensified. New figures obtained by The Independent on Sunday also show that the numbers claiming compensation for injuries sustained in Iraq and Afghanistan are more than 12 times higher than the total in 2005.

Unpublished figures from the Armed Forces Compensation Scheme (AFCS) reveal in disturbing detail the “hidden costs” of the military action, with soaring numbers being forced out by wounds. The number of soldiers applying to the AFCS for financial assistance after being medically discharged rose from 200 in 2005-06, when the scheme opened, to 845 last year. Troops claiming for injuries suffered in service rose from 240 to 3,255 during the same period.

The disclosures follow revelations last week that service chiefs expect the number wounded in Afghanistan to have doubled by the end of the year. The total to the end of July was 299 – compared to 245 in the whole of 2008.

The figures also show that the numbers of “post-service” claims has risen by a factor of almost 100, from 15 to 1,455 since 2005. A Ministry of Defence spokesman admitted the heavy toll is due to the number of people experiencing post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) after leaving the services.

PTSD sufferers tell of how traumatic memories come back regularly and involuntarily, resulting in chronic anxiety and hyper-alertness. The numbers affected are contentious, but conservative estimates say that tens of thousands of British troops who have served in Afghanistan and Iraq are suffering.

The MoD’s latest assessment of psychiatric health problems within UK forces, completed late last month, showed there were 3,181 new cases of “mental disorder” in 2008 – 16 cases for every 1,000 personnel. Troops who had been deployed to Afghanistan or Iraq showed high rates of “neurotic disorders”, including PTSD, with the Royal Marines affected more than all the other services.

The MoD acknowledges the high rates of mental health problems caused by military operations. In documents, seen by the IoS, officials concede that “some personnel returned from operations with psychological problems particularly when tour lengths exceeded expectations”. The MoD has appealed for increased “X factor” payments, which recognise the extra difficulties faced by service personnel.

Critics insist it is too little, too late, and fails to acknowledge the scale of the problem. Lord Guthrie, the former head of the Army, said the authorities had been slow to recognise the problem’s scale and extent. “When we go to war, we just don’t have the wherewithal to look after the physical and mental needs of our service people. You have to make sure that when you go to war, you are prepared to look after people, and that hasn’t happened.

“Successive governments have had a very poor record and have cut, cut and cut again the care for our service people. Having to rely on the NHS is not good enough. It has no capacity to deal with the extra people who need medical attention, and all this has been compounded by the reluctance of the MoD to admit how big the problem is.

“We hear a lot about the dead, but rather less about the wounded. We haven’t been able to see the proper figures,” he said.

Problems grow once soldiers have gone home, Lord Guthrie said: “You no longer have people to talk to. Support is very hard to come by. The Government has woken up much too late to this. Ideally, you need a network of military people throughout the NHS, but how do you pay for that?”

James Saunders, 39, served in the first Gulf War in the Royal Artillery. Looking back, he was suffering from PTSD when discharged in 1993, but he believes the Army was glad to close the door on him and his problems.

“When I asked to get out, I’d already been AWOL for six months, totally off-track, so they were glad to get rid of me. I’d see guys who’d been in Northern Ireland, drinking and getting into fights, but they were never punished. I realise now that the sergeants knew it was because they were suffering mentally, but rather than talk about it, they just ignored it.”

Former SAS trooper Bob Paxman, 41, said veterans’ problems are exacerbated when they leave the forces and are “out of the family”. His GP “didn’t have a clue” where to send him and specialised counselling failed. He suffered a total breakdown in 2006.

“I was on a dangerous job in Africa. I was a total wreck, at rock bottom. If I was left alone for more than five minutes, the flashbacks would come big style. So I self-medicated and filled myself with as much booze as possible. One night, I sank a bottle of whisky and put my 9mm pistol in my mouth but I couldn’t pull the trigger,” he said.

After his experiences Mr Paxman helped set up the charity talking2minds to help others with similar problems. Combat Stress is another charity which has stepped into the vacuum created by the MoD and the NHS. It is helping around 4,000 ex-servicemen and women with combat-related mental health problems.

It takes, on average, 14 years after discharge for a veteran suffering problems to approach them. Most current patients were on active duty
in the Falklands, Northern Ireland and the first Gulf War; less than 10 per cent have served in Iraq or Afghanistan. Hundreds more are treated in private hospitals ever year, paid for by the NHS.

David Hill, Combat Stress’s chief executive, said: “The scale and size of the problem is not known and is not adequately mapped in the UK – unlike the US and Australia. We are currently seeing an unprecedented increase in demand. Since 2005, there has been a 66 per cent increase in referrals and we are already providing support for 316 veterans of recent conflicts.” He says the NHS has no accurate figures on its veteran patients, and without such figures, no effective planning can be done.

In contrast, in Scotland, veterans are more involved in planning mental health services. They work in collaboration with NHS and voluntary services to ensure they get the services they need. “This is a very good model, and one that we could all learn from,” said Mr Hill. “There is a real drive in Scotland to understand more about the size and scale of the problem, and the services required to properly meet the current and future needs of veterans.”

The looming extent of problems created by Afghanistan has prompted the US to act. Earlier this month, it announced controversial plans to train all 1.1 million of its soldiers in emotional resilience. The training, the first of its kind for any military, hopes to prevent mental health problems from developing by helping soldiers to recognise and cope better with stressful situations in combat and civilian life. The $117m (£72m) scheme, to be rolled out by next summer, is unproven but the rising rates of suicide, PTSD and substance misuse has convinced military commanders to try it.

British experts aren’t convinced it is the correct route to take. Professor Simon Wessely, director of military health research at the Institute of Psychiatry in London, said: “I don’t think, to be honest, that there is a great call for this, I doubt it will be well received by the armed forces themselves anyway, and any benefits are likely to be slim… so no, I wouldn’t be pushing this. But if the US funds the research and show a significant benefit, then I am happy to be persuaded.”

Evidence strongly suggests that attempts to prevent PTSD work poorly, he said. “We have established and successful treatments;, the problem is acceptability and delivery.”

War wounds: ‘I was on a self-destruct train. There was no help’

James Saunders, 39, from Hampshire, joined the Army aged 17. Three years later, he flew to Iraq and spent six months fighting in the first Gulf War where he was involved in a terrifying friendly fire incident that injured five soldiers. On his return, his life spiralled out on control and he sought, and got, a discharge in 1993. It took another 12 years for him to find the psychological help he needed.

“We would drive down Basra Road, looking at the carnage left behind by allied air forces. It was like a slow motion film with body parts everywhere, sitting in cars. These images were burnt into my memory.

“When we flew home, a sergeant handed us all a piece of paper which said that we might experience problems with relationships. I was 21; I laughed and threw it in the bin. Eighteen months later, my son was stillborn and that sped up the self-destruct train. I ruined my relationship; cut myself off from family; I was taking every drug you can think of; went awol for months and eventually ended up in prison. I met at least six other army guys inside, all with similar problems, but there was no help.

“It wasn’t until a friend told me about Combat Stress four years ago that like so many guys, I realised I had PTSD.

“If I’d told anyone in the Army about the nightmares or how I felt I’d have been considered unreliable. That’s the way the military was, and still is. They train you physically but not mentally, which means good people are lost unnecessarily. If I’d had help back then, I’d still be in the Army now, coming up to my 22nd year of service.”
Source

Symptoms of mental illnesses.

  • PTSD
  • Clinical depression
  • Anxiety states
  • Adjustment disorders
  • Phobic disorders
  • Obsessive Compulsive Disorder
  • Bi-polar illness (manic depression)
  • Issues relating to past and present substance abuse/dependence (drug and alcohol)
  • Psychotic conditions in a non-acute phase
  • Issues relating to anger

Operation Enduring Freedom

Casualties of Troops By Country

More times then not, someone is watching their comrades dieing. That leaves a long term memory of sorrow and loss.

They may even be holding them in their arms as they die.

To September 18 2009

Country Total
Australia 11
Belgium 1
Canada 131
Czech 3
Denmark 24
Estonia 6
Finland 1
France 31
Germany 33
Hungary 2
Italy 21
Latvia 3
Lithuania 1
Netherlands 21
Norway 4
Poland 13
Portugal 2
Romania 11
South Korea 1
Spain 25
Sweden 2
Turkey 2
UK 216
US 838
Total 1403

Coalition Military Fatalities By Year

To September 18 2009

Year Total
2001 12
2002 69
2003 57
2004 59
2005 131
2006 191
2007 232
2008 294
2009 358
Total 1403

Source

Names of soldier,  dates  of deaths, cause of death

Each year the number of casualties are risisng.

The spin doctors try to make us believe things are getting better in Afghanistan, when in fact they are deteriorating.

Population of Afghanistan: In 2008  32,738,376

They are helping Afghanistan are they? Well I don’t see any improvements.

What you don’t hear much about in the News Media.

Unemployment rate In Afghanistan: No improvement there?

Year Unemployment rate (%)
2000 8
2006 40
2007 40
2008 40

Infant Mortality Rate is Rising: No improvement there?

Year Infant mortality rate (deaths/1,000 live births)
2000 149.28
2001 147.02
2002 144.76
2003 142.48
2004 165.96
2005 163.07
2006 160.23
2007 157.43
2008 154.67

Literacy Rate is Declining: Improved a bit for 5 years and is now below the 2000, 15% . No improvement there?

Year Literacy (%)
2000 15
2001 15
2002 21
2003 21
2004 21
2005 21
2006 21
2007 12.6
2008 12.6

Afghan Poverty rates are rising: No improvement there?

Year Population below poverty line (%)
2004 23
2005 53
2006 53
2007 53
2008 53

Afghans fit for Military Service: So one has to wonder, how many may decide to fight against NATO forces? They are seeing their friends and family die at the hands of NATO.

Year Manpower fit for military service
2000 3,432,236
2001 3,561,957
2002 3,696,379
2003 3,837,646
2004 3,642,659
2005 2,662,946
2006 2,508,574
2007 2,508,574
2008 3,946,685

Source

There have been over 56,000 Afghan Civilians injured and over 8,000 who have died because if the war.  They to suffer from all the same things soldiers suffer from as well.  The numbers on both side are growing.

The number of civilians killed in fighting between the Taliban and foreign forces in Afghanistan is rising.

March 9, 2009

The United Nations says the toll in 2008 was 40 per cent more than in the previous year, and things could get worse with the arrival of more US troops.

Al Jazeera’s Zeina Khodr reports from Kabul.

Within the first 6 months of 2009 over 1,000 Civilians were killed.

Since then many, many more have died.

Things have escalated in Afghanistan since the arrival of the troops from the US. The US is not wanted there.

The number of soldiers who die and get injured have risen as well.

Even the recent election was fraudulent.

So what are the soldiers dieing for?  Certainly not for “democracy” that is just a sham.  Something the spin doctors like to feed the public.

“We are making progress” something else the spin doctors like to feed the public.

The spin doctors tell us “Our soldiers die for a noble cause”. What a crock.

They actually want to control the middle east and it’s people. They want to control the resources of gas and oil.

That is really why men, women and  children  are dieing or becoming severely injured, civilian or military makes little difference.

Lost arms, lost legs, lost eyesight, mental health problems are just a few of the injuries that occur.  Permanent  injures that last for the rest of their lives.

On both sides there are thousands upon thousands of victims who will suffer for the rest of their lives.

Where do we draw the line? When do we say enough.

Usama Bin Ladin has never been connected to 9/11.

Has Usama Bin Ladin been dead for seven years – and are the U.S. and Britain covering it up to continue war on terror? FBI never linked him to 9/11

So why is NATO in Afghanistan?

More than half of British public against UK mission in Afghanistan

(Afghanistan 9) A Picture is Worth A Thousand Words

Elusive threats boost PTSD risk in Afghanistan

Traumatic brain injuries the signature wound of troops in Afghanistan and Iraq

British officer leaked 8,000 Civilians killed in Afghanistan

(Afghanistan 6) A Picture is Worth A Thousand Words

84577858_PB0013BLAST.JPGKABUL, AFGHANISTAN -February 01:  Afghan and ISAF (International Security Assistance Force) troops examine the scene after a suicide car bomber hit a convoy of foreign troops on the outskirts of the Afghan capital, wounding two Afghan civilians and a French soldier, according to Afghan officials, February 1, 2009 in Kabul, Afghanistan. The Independent Election Commission has postponed the country’s presidential election until August 20th, from late April, for security reasons.  (Photo by Paula Bronstein/Getty Images)

AfghanistanThe wrapped body parts of a lawmaker Dad Mohammad Khan and others who were with him are seen in a blanket on the back of a police vehicle following a roadside bomb in Helmand province south of Kabul, Afghanistan on Thursday, March 19, 2009. The lawmaker who was a vocal Taliban critic in Afghanistan’s insurgency-plagued south was killed Thursday by a roadside bomb, family and officials said. (AP Photo)

AFGHANISTAN ISAF Canadian soldiers of NATO-led International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) inspect the wreckage of a vehicle used in a suicide car bomb attack targeting a Canadian military convoy in Kandahar, southern Afghanistan, 12 March 2008. A suicide attacker detonated his explosives-filled vehicle targeted at a Canadian military convoy killing an Afghan civilian and wounding four others, including a Canadian soldier, officials said. Around 2, 500 Canadian forces are stationed in the southern province of Kandahar, a strong-hold for Taliban militants, whose government was toppled in late 2001.  EPA/HUMAYOUN SHIAB

Afghanistan

U.S. soldiers inspect near the wrecker of a car used by a suicide bomber in Chaparhar district of eastern Nangarhar province east of Kabul, Afghanistan, Saturday, March 21, 2009. A suicide bomber in a car blew himself up at a police checkpoint in Chaparhar district of eastern Nangarhar province where officers were searching cars, killing six people, including five civilians and one policeman, said police spokesman Gafor Khan. The blast also wounded four civilians and a policeman, he said. (AP Photo/Rahmat Gul)

18afghan01-650

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Pakistan

Rows of destroyed Humvees and military trucks are seen at the Portward Logistic Terminal in Peshawar, Pakistan, Sunday, Dec. 7, 2008. Militants blasted their way into two transport terminals in Pakistan on Sunday and torched more than 160 vehicles destined for U.S.-led troops in Afghanistan, in the biggest assault yet on a vital military supply line. (AP Photo/Mohammad Sajjad)

Armed Forces, Police

(Afghanistan 9) A Picture is Worth A Thousand Words

(Afghanistan 8 ) A Picture is Worth A Thousand Words

(Afghanistan 7) A Picture is Worth A Thousand Words

Civilians

(Afghanistan 5) A Picture is Worth A Thousand Words

(Afghanistan 4) A Picture is Worth A Thousand Words

(Afghanistan 3) A Picture is Worth A Thousand Words

(Afghanistan 2) A Picture is Worth A Thousand Words

(Afghanistan 1) A Picture is Worth A Thousand Words

Published in: on September 7, 2009 at 5:58 pm  Comments Off on (Afghanistan 6) A Picture is Worth A Thousand Words  
Tags: , , , , , , , , ,

(Afghanistan 5) A Picture is Worth A Thousand Words

NATO aircraft opened fire on hijacked fuel trucks in Kunduz, Afghanistan before dawn on Friday September 4 2009, killing as many as 90 people in an incident that could trigger a backlash against Western troops. NATO initially said it believed the casualties were all Taliban fighters, but later acknowledged that large numbers of civilians were being treated in hospitals in the area.

90 victims died and numerous ones were injured.

Below are just a few of the injured.

AfghanistanInjured people by a NATO airstrike are brought to a hospital in Kunduz, Afghanistan, Friday, Sept. 4, 2009. (AP Photo)

Injured ChildSeptember 7 2009 Child being treated in hospital.

AFGHANISTAN/A wounded man is transported in a taxi to a hospital after an airstrike killed scores of people in Kunduz September 4, 2009. REUTERS/Wahdat

AfghanistanA Doctor treats an injured full of burns, of NATO air strike, at a hospital, in Kunduz, Afghanistan, Friday, Sept. 4, 2009.  (AP Photo)

AFGHANISTANAfghan hospital workers carry an injured Afghan villager in hospital after Friday’s NATO air strike  in northern Kunduz September 4, 2009.    REUTERS/Omar Sobhani

AfghanistanRahmatullah, 19, a victim of Friday’ NATO air strike, tries to sit up on his bed in a hospital in Kabul, Afghanistan, Saturday, Sept. 5, 2009. (AP Photo/Manish Swarup)

AFGHANISTAN/An Afghan doctor in a regional hospital treats a villager injured in Friday’s NATO air strike in northern Kunduz September 4, 2009. REUTERS/Omar Sobhani

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AFGHANISTANAn Afghan villager injured lies in hospital after Friday’s NATO air strike on a Taliban target in northern Kunduz September 4, 2009.

AFGHANISTANAfghan police inspect the site of an airstrike in Kunduz September 4, 2009. NATO aircraft opened fire on hijacked fuel trucks in Afghanistan before dawn on Friday. REUTERS/Wahdat

AfghanistanAfghani policemen look at one of two burnt fuel tankers, near Kunduz, Afghanistan, Friday, Sept. 4, 2009.

Afghanistan

Local Afghani people burry their villagers killed in a NATO air strike, in a mass grave  near Kunduz, Afghanistan, Friday, Sept. 4, 2009.

Afghanistan

AFGHANISTAN/Afghans bury some of the victims of an airstrike in a mass grave near Kunduz September 4, 2009.setting off a huge fireball Friday that killed up to 90 people on Friday in northern Afghanistan when NATO aircraft struck hijacked fuel tankers as villagers came to collect fuel, Afghan officials said. REUTERS/Stringer
AfghanistanLocal Afghani people bury their villagers killed in a NATO air strike, in a mass grave  near Kunduz, Afghanistan, Friday, Sept. 4, 2009. (AP Photo)

AfghanistanLocal Afghani people burry their villagers killed in a NATO airstrike, in a mass grave  near Kunduz, Afghanistan, Friday, Sept. 4, 2009. (AP Photo)

Armed Forces, Police

(Afghanistan 8 ) A Picture is Worth A Thousand Words

(Afghanistan 7) A Picture is Worth A Thousand Words

(Afghanistan 6) A Picture is Worth A Thousand Words

Civilians

(Afghanistan 4) A Picture is Worth A Thousand Words

(Afghanistan 3) A Picture is Worth A Thousand Words

(Afghanistan 2) A Picture is Worth A Thousand Words

(Afghanistan 1) A Picture is Worth A Thousand Words

Published in: on September 7, 2009 at 12:38 pm  Comments Off on (Afghanistan 5) A Picture is Worth A Thousand Words  
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(Afghanistan 4) A Picture is Worth A Thousand Words

Injured Child

Injured Child

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Injured Child

Afghanistan ViolenceAn Afghan child, who was  wounded by coalition airstrikes in the Zerko area of Shindand district stands with his father at a hospital in the city of Herat province southwest of Kabul, Afghanistan on Thursday, July 17, 2008.  (AP Photo/Fraidoon Pooyaa)

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19Two American soldiers are escorted a detainee in fob Robinson who is going to be flown back to Kandahar base in a Chinook for further questioning.

18Private Dan Burris of the 82nd Airborne’s 1/508 Parachute Infantry Regiment, Alpha Company, Third Platoon kicks in a door after staging a nighttime air assault into Sangin, Helmand province, the largest air assault in Afghanistan since the beginning of the war, on Thursday, April 5, 2007.

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AfghanistanAfghan demonstrators gather at a demonstration as black smoke billows from burning tires in the background, following a U.S. operation on their village in Qarabagh district of Ghazni, west of Kabul, Afghanistan, Monday, Feb. 2, 2009.  (AP Photo/Rahmatullah Naikzad)

14

13

12

Afghanistan ViolenceAfghan men surround a child who was  wounded by air strikes as he lays in a hospital after he was transported from Helmand to Kandahar province for treatment on Saturday, July 28, 2007.   (AP Photo/Allauddin Khan)

Armed Forces, Police

(Afghanistan 8 ) A Picture is Worth A Thousand Words

(Afghanistan 7) A Picture is Worth A Thousand Words

(Afghanistan 6) A Picture is Worth A Thousand Words

Civilians

(Afghanistan 5) A Picture is Worth A Thousand Words

(Afghanistan 3) A Picture is Worth A Thousand Words

(Afghanistan 2) A Picture is Worth A Thousand Words

(Afghanistan 1) A Picture is Worth A Thousand Words

Published in: on September 7, 2009 at 11:26 am  Comments Off on (Afghanistan 4) A Picture is Worth A Thousand Words  
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(Afghanistan 3) A Picture is Worth A Thousand Words

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afghan boy in aasad abadAfghan boy in Aasad Abad

air strikes in Ganj Abad of Bala Buluk district, in Farah provin_15

air strikes in Ganj Abad of Bala Buluk district, in Farah provin_16

AfghanistanTala 9, an Afghan girl who was wounded in coalition air strike on Monday night in Bala Baluk district of Farah province recovers in a hospital in Herat, Afghanistan, Saturday, May 9, 2009. A joint U.S.-Afghan investigation has found that civilians were killed during a battle in southern Afghanistan, but officials have not been able to determine how many.(AP Photo/Fraidoon Pooyaa)

APTOPIX AfghanistanHaji Barkat Ullah speaks with her daughter Frishta, 7, who was wounded in coalition air strike on Monday night in Bala Baluk district of Farah province recovers in a hospital in Herat, Afghanistan, Saturday, May 9, 2009. A joint U.S.-Afghan investigation has found that civilians were killed during a battle in southern Afghanistan, but officials have not been able to determine how many. (AP Photo/Fraidoon Pooyaa)

AS AfghanistanAfghan paramedics treat a wounded Afghan boy in a hospital after he was wounded in a roadside bomb in Kandahar, Afghanistan, Saturday, April 18, 2009.  A roadside bomb targeting a police vehicle in Kandahar city killed a woman and wounded five other people including three civilians, said Abdullah Khan, the provincial deputy police chief.(AP Photo/Allauddin Khan)

AFGHANISTAN-DEVOLOPMENTS

A villager looks at an infant boy who died after a military raid in a village in Gurbuz district of Khost province April 9, 2009. U.S. and Afghan forces killed four militants, including two women, and detained three others on Wednesday near Khost city, some 150 km (95 miles) southeast of Kabul, U.S. forces said in a statement. But local residents disputed the military’s account, saying five civilians, a female teacher, her son, brother in-law and two more non-combatants were killed in the raid. Another woman was wounded, they said. REUTERS/Kamal Sadat

AFGHANISTAN/The body of an infant boy who died after a military raid is seen in a village in Gurbuz district of Khost province April 9, 2009. U.S. and Afghan forces killed four militants, including two women, and detained three others on Wednesday near Khost city, some 150 km (95 miles) southeast of Kabul, U.S. forces said in a statement. But local residents disputed the military’s account, saying five civilians, a female teacher, her son, brother in-law and two more non-combatants were killed in the raid. Another woman was wounded, they said. REUTERS/Kamal Sadat

Afghanistan

A wounded Afghan boy, seen, in an ambulance, in Asadabad the provincial capital of Kunar province, east of Kabul, Afghanistan, Monday, April 13, 2009. A NATO operation killed six civilians Monday, including a woman and a young girl, in a mountainous region of eastern Afghanistan, villagers and officials said. But the military alliance said its force killed four to eight militants.(AP Photo)

If it wasn’t bad enough there is a war they also had two earthquaks as well.

AS AfghanistanAfghan villagers pray opposite the bodies of victims of an earthquake, during a funeral in Sherzad district, Nangarhar province, east of Kabul, Afghanistan, Friday, April 17, 2009. Two earthquakes shook eastern Afghanistan early Friday, collapsing mud-brick homes on top of villagers while they slept and killing at least 21 people. (AP Photo/Rahmat Gul)

 Afghanistan

AS Afghanistan

 Afghanistan

 Afghanistan

 Afghanistan

Armed Forces, Police

(Afghanistan 8 ) A Picture is Worth A Thousand Words

(Afghanistan 7) A Picture is Worth A Thousand Words

(Afghanistan 6) A Picture is Worth A Thousand Words

Civilians

(Afghanistan 5) A Picture is Worth A Thousand Words

(Afghanistan 4) A Picture is Worth A Thousand Words

(Afghanistan 2) A Picture is Worth A Thousand Words

(Afghanistan 1) A Picture is Worth A Thousand Words

Published in: on September 7, 2009 at 10:08 am  Comments Off on (Afghanistan 3) A Picture is Worth A Thousand Words  
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(Afghanistan 2) A Picture is Worth A Thousand Words

AFGHANISTAN-CIVILIANS/

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prison2

prison

Prisoners

prisoner

The  bags that are put on prisoners is cruel and inhibits breathing.

injured child 6

Afghanistan

injured 1

Children 2

Grieving

Armed Forces, Police

(Afghanistan 8 ) A Picture is Worth A Thousand Words

(Afghanistan 7) A Picture is Worth A Thousand Words

(Afghanistan 6) A Picture is Worth A Thousand Words

Civilians

(Afghanistan 5) A Picture is Worth A Thousand Words

(Afghanistan 4) A Picture is Worth A Thousand Words

(Afghanistan 3) A Picture is Worth A Thousand Words

(Afghanistan 1) A Picture is Worth A Thousand Words


Published in: on September 7, 2009 at 9:41 am  Comments Off on (Afghanistan 2) A Picture is Worth A Thousand Words  
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(Afghanistan 1) A Picture is Worth A Thousand Words

Afghanistan has suffered many casualties.

Many children have been killed and many injured.  Their injuries are extreme.

child_khost

injured child 4

injured child 3

injured child

Injured Child 2

Death 2

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Children

Afghanistan

Qila%20i%20Jangi%20massacre9

Qila%20i%20Jangi%20massacre5

Qila%20i%20Jangi%20massacre

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prisoners%20massacres%2029%2011%202001

out of tens of civilines killed in jalal abad

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MUJAHID2

mohammed ullah is injured in panjwaye village by coalitions forcs

These are the pictures you will never see in our mainstream media.

This is the true face of war in Afghanistan.

Armed Forces, Police

(Afghanistan 8 ) A Picture is Worth A Thousand Words

(Afghanistan 7) A Picture is Worth A Thousand Words

(Afghanistan 6) A Picture is Worth A Thousand Words

Civilians

(Afghanistan 5) A Picture is Worth A Thousand Words

(Afghanistan 4) A Picture is Worth A Thousand Words

(Afghanistan 3) A Picture is Worth A Thousand Words

(Afghanistan 2) A Picture is Worth A Thousand Words


Afghanistan’s hidden toll: Injured Troops

‘Hush’ over Afghan mission must end

US-NATO Using Military Might To Control World Energy Resources

Indexed List of all Stories in Archives

Published in: on September 7, 2009 at 9:19 am  Comments Off on (Afghanistan 1) A Picture is Worth A Thousand Words  
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Israel Broke Ceasefire From Day One

Ceasefire Broken From Day One

Sunday, Jan 18

After a 22-day assault on Gaza in which  1314 Palestinians were killed and 13 Israelis were killed, Israel and Hamas each declared a ceasefire. Within several hours, the first breach took place, when Israel killed a Palestinian civilian:

The UN reports: “One Palestinian farmer was killed on the morning of 18 January in Khuza’a east of Khan Yunis following the Israeli-declared cease-fire.”

Monday, Jan 19

Once again the ceasefire was breached when Israel killed another Palestinian civilian. Palestinian militants did respond, but caused no damage or injuries:

The UN reports: “On 19 January, a Palestinian farmer was killed by Israeli gunfire east of Jabalia. The same day, Palestinian militants fired a number of mortars towards Israel and also shot at Israeli troops still inside the Gaza Strip. No injuries or damage were reported.”

Wednesday, Jan 21

Israeli naval boats fired at the Gaza coastline, causing some damage.

IMEMC reports: “On Wednesday, the boats fired shells at the coast line, causing damage but no injuries.”

Thursday, Jan 22

A Palestinian child was wounded by gunfire from Israeli troops, between 4 and 7 Palestinian civilians (fishermen) were injured when they were fired upon by Israel’s navy, and a home was set fire by shells from the Israeli navy:

The UN reports: “Four Palestinians were injured on 22 January by a shell fired from an Israeli gunboat off the Gaza coast. The same day, a house was set on fire by a shell fired from an Israeli gunboat. No injuries were reported. Also on 22 January, IDF troops shot and injured a child east of Gaza City near the border.”

IMEMC reports: “On Thursday of last week, Israeli Navy forces opened fire at Palestinian fishermen just off the shore of Gaza City, injuring seven civilians.”

Saturday, Jan 24

Israeli tanks fired on the border town of Al Faraheen, causing damage to homes and farms. Also, Aid agencies call on Israel to finally open all crossings into Gaza:

IMEMC reports: “On Saturday, the Israeli army opened fire at residents homes and farmlands located in Al Faraheen village located in the southern part of the Gaza strip. Local residents said that Israeli tanks stationed at the borders opened fire at their homes and farms; damage was reported but no injuries.”

Maan News reports: “A coalition of international aid agencies urged the Israeli government on Saturday to open the Gaza Strip’s border to allow vital goods into the territory… The agencies, including Oxfam, Save the Children, and the Palestinian NGO Network (PNGO) held a news conference on Saturday at the intensive care unit of Gaza’s Ash-Shifa Hospital to point up an ongoing humanitarian crisis stemming from Israel’s blockade.”

Sunday, Jan 25

Israeli F-16s flew over Gaza, causing schools, government offices, and banks to close and causing Egypt to rapidly evacuate all of its personnel from the Rafah crossing in fear that an attack was imminent.

Haaretz reports: “On Sunday Israeli F-16s flew over Gaza, terrifying people who thought Israel was launching a new offensive. A number of banks, government offices and schools were closed, occupants running to their homes as the Israeli warplanes flew overhead.”

Maan News reports: “Egypt suddenly and rapidly evacuated its personnel from the Rafah border crossing with Gaza on Sunday fearing a possible Israeli airstrike on the Palestinian side of the crossing, Egyptian security sources said.” 

Source

By Eva Bartlett

January 26 2009

GAZA CITY

At 7.30 am Jan. 22, five days after Israeli authorities declared a ‘ceasefire’ following their 22-day air, land and sea bombardment of the Gaza Strip, Israeli gunboats renewed shelling off the Gaza city coast, injuring at least six, including four children.

Mu’awiyah Hassanain, director of Ambulance and Emergency Services, reported more shelling in the north-western coastal area As Sudaniya the same morning. Five fishermen were injured in the attacks, he said.

About 9.45 am that morning in Sheyjaiee district to the east of Gaza city, seven-year-old Ahmed Hassanian was outside his house with friends when Israeli soldiers fired from the eastern border. A bullet lodged in his brain, causing brain haemorrhage. Dr. Fawzi Nablusi, director of the ICU at Shifa hospital, says the boy is not expected to survive.

Three Palestinians have been killed since the ceasefire and 15 injured, including the ten injured Jan. 22, according to both Mu’awiyah Hassanain and Dr. Hassan Khalaf.

Hours after the ceasefire was said to have come into effect Jan. 18, Israeli warplanes flew extremely low over areas of Gaza. Drones capable both of photographing and of dropping targeted missiles continued to circle overhead. At 8.30 am Jan. 18, one of these drones dropped two missiles in the Amal area east of Beit Hanoun, killing 11-year-old Angham Ra’fat al-Masri and injuring her mother.

The Palestinian Centre for Human Rights (PCHR) reports further violations of the ceasefire, including the killing of Maher abu Rjaila, 23, shot in the chest by Israeli troops at 10.40 am Jan. 18 as he walked on his land east of Khan Younis city.

Israeli soldiers fired on residents of Al-Qarara, near Khan Younis, at 1 pm Jan. 20, shooting Waleed Al-Astal, 42, in his right foot.

In Shifa hospital, Yasser Abed, 15, from Gaza’s Beach camp, explained how he received a shard of shrapnel in his forehead. “I went out of my house to see what was happening,” he said. “I didn’t see the gunboat, didn’t see anything.” His father explains that Yasser was rushed to Shifa after the shrapnel hit him, and that there was a girl nearby aged about four who was also hit by a piece of shrapnel.

In another room at Shifa, 11-year-old Nisreen Al-Quqa tells how she was out walking on the beach with her brother when the Israeli navy began to fire upon Palestinian fishermen. A piece of shrapnel from the shelling got lodged in her right calf muscle. “What ceasefire?” the girl’s mother said, looking down at her daughter. But she knows Nisreen is lucky to have only a minor leg injury; it could have been much worse.

Others injured after the ceasefire include a 14-year-old boy hit in the thigh by shrapnel fragments, and a 35-year-old man also with shrapnel injury.

Israel‘s assault on Gaza killed at least 1,330 people, with as many as 200 more bodies expected to be recovered from under the rubble of more than 4,000 destroyed houses and 20,000 buildings.

Ninety percent of the cases in Shifa’s ICU are civilian, and of these half are women and children, says Dr. Fawzi.

Ceasefire violations are not new. During the six-month ceasefire that began Jun. 19, Israeli forces killed 22 Palestinians, many of them members of resistance groups. Thirty-eight fishermen and farmers were abducted.

Israeli soldiers routinely fired upon fishermen and farmers along Gaza’s eastern and northern borders, injuring 62, according to Palestinian sources.

Source

Dr. Norman Finkelstein speaking on Gaza Massacre Video

Illegal Israeli settlement construction in the West Bank increased sharply in 2008

Aid Workers Protest Restricted Access to Gaza

Israeli aircraft strike Gaza Tunnels-Residents Again

Army rabbi ‘gave out hate leaflet to troops’,Israel: ’We Could Destroy All European Capitals’

79 % of the time: Israel caused conflicts not Hamas

Indexed List of all Stories in Archives

Published in: on January 29, 2009 at 4:05 am  Comments Off on Israel Broke Ceasefire From Day One  
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EU member states urged to sign, ratify, implement cluster bomb ban treaty

December 1 2008

OSLO: Some 100 countries will ban the use of cluster bombs with the signing of a treaty Wednesday in Oslo but major producers such as China, Russia and the United States are shunning the pact.

The treaty, agreed upon in Dublin in May, outlaws the use, production, transfer and stockpiling of cluster munitions which primarily kill civilians.

“It’s only one of the very few times in history that an entire category of weapons has been banned,” said Thomas Nash of the Cluster Munitions Coalition (CMC) umbrella group that comprises some 300 non-governmental organisations.

It’s unlikely now that you’re going to see large scale use of cluster bombs,” he said.

Dropped from planes or fired from artillery, cluster bombs explode in mid-air to randomly scatter hundreds of bomblets, which can be three inches (eight centimetres) in size.

Many cluster bomblets can fail to explode, often leaving poverty-stricken areas trying to recover from war littered with countless de-facto landmines.

According to Handicap International, about 100,000 people have been maimed or killed by cluster bombs around the world since 1965, 98 per cent of them civilians.

More than a quarter of the victims are children who mistake the bomblets for toys or tin cans.

“This is not about disarmament, this is not about arms control. This is a humanitarian issue,” said Annette Abelsen, a senior advisor at the foreign ministry in Norway which played a key role in hammering out the international agreement.

In Laos, the most affected country in the world, the US Air Force dropped 260 million cluster bombs between 1964 and 1973, or the equivalent of a fully-loaded B52 bomber’s cargo dropped every eight minutes for nine years.

Dispersed in fields and pastures, the weapons make it perilous to cultivate the land and can claim numerous lives for decades after the end of a conflict.

On Wednesday, France and Britain will be represented by their foreign ministers, Bernard Kouchner and David Miliband. Japan, Canada, Germany and Australia will also sign the treaty.

But, as was the case with the Ottawa Convention that outlaws landmines, key countries such as the United States, Russia, China and Israel have objected to the ban and will not sign it because they are the biggest producers and users.

The election of Barack Obama as president may however bring about a change in the US position, activists hope.

“Obama has voted for, previously, a national regulation in the US for cluster ammunitions,” said Grethe Oestern, a policy advisor at the Norwegian People’s Aid organisation and a co-chair of the CMC.

“So that’s not just a theoretical possibility at all that we could see the US onboard this treaty sometime in the future,” she added.

In 2006, Obama voted in the US Senate to ban the use of cluster munitions in heavily populated areas, but in the end the motion was rejected.

The Oslo Convention is nonetheless expected to stigmatise the use of the weapon even by non-signatory countries, according to activists.

While the United States, Russia and China “seem to have an allergy to international law in general,” there are signs that “the stigma against this weapon is already working,” Nash said.

NATO’s decision not to use cluster bombs, including in Afghanistan, and the lightning-quick denial from Moscow when it was accused of using the munitions against Georgia in the August war shows that these countries also find the weapon “morally unacceptable,” Nash said.

“Even big countries like Russia don’t want to be associated in the media with having used cluster bombs.”

Source

November 21 2008

BRUSSELS,

The European Parliament on Thursday urged European Union (EU) member states to sign and ratify the Convention of Cluster Munitions (CCM) as soon as possible and to take steps toward implementation even before it is signed and ratified.

The resolution was adopted with 471 votes in favor, 6 against and 21 abstentions in Strasbourg, France.

The European Parliament requests EU member states not to use, invest in, stockpile, produce, transfer or export cluster munitions even though the CCM has not entered into force.

EU member states which have used cluster munitions are called on to provide assistance to affected populations and to provide technical and financial assistance for the clearance and destruction of cluster munitions remnants.

The European Parliament urged the European Commission to increase financial assistance through all available instruments to communities and individuals affected by unexploded cluster munitions.

Cluster bombs scatter over a wide area when dropped from the air or used in artillery shells. Many do not explode and it is often children who pick them up, with devastating consequences.

The charity Handicap International estimates that 98 percent of the victims of cluster bombs are civilians, of whom 27 percent are children.

EU member states are also requested to refrain from taking action, which might circumvent or jeopardize the CCM and its provisions. In particular, the parliament called on all EU members not to adopt, endorse or subsequently ratify a possible Convention on Conventional Weapons (CCW) Protocol allowing for the use of cluster munitions which would not be compatible with the CCM.

Source


How Big is the Problem?

Timeline and Use


Laos still paying the price of Vietnam war
November 5 2008

Cluster bomb survivor Ta with examples of the weapons that maimed him. Photo by Stanislas Fradelizi.

Cluster bomb survivor Ta with examples of the weapons that maimed him. Photo by Stanislas Fradelizi.

Xieng Khouang, Laos –

Imagine growing up in a country where the equivalent of a B52 planeload of cluster bombs was dropped every eight minutes for nine years. Then imagine seeing your children and grandchildren being killed and maimed by the same bombs, three decades after the war is over.

Welcome to Laos, a country with the unwanted claim to fame of being the most bombed nation per capita in the world. Between 1964 and 1973, the U.S. military dropped more than 2 million tons of explosive ordnance, including an estimated 260 million cluster munitions – also known as bombie in Laos.

To put this into perspective, this is more bombs than fell on Europe during World War Two.

The U.S. bombing was largely aimed at destroying enemy supply lines during the Vietnam war which passed through Laos. The war ended 35 years ago, yet the civilian casualties continue.

According to aid agency Handicap International, as many as 12,000 civilians have been killed or maimed since, and there are hundreds of new casualties every year.

Take Ta, a father of seven who lives in a remote village in Khammoune Province in southern Laos. One morning four years ago, he saw something that looked like a bombie. He knew it was dangerous, but he had also heard that the explosive inside could be used for catching fish, so he decided to touch it with a stick. That one small tap cost him both arms and an eye. Ta had to travel nine hours to get medical help. He sold his livestock to pay hospital bills, and when he ran out of things to sell, he went home.

Ta says he had to ‘eat like a dog’ for four years, before non-governmental organisation COPE provided him with prosthetic arms. Now he is able to help in small domestic chores.

When $50 is too much:

Then there is 31-year-old Yee Lee. He was digging around in his garden in August when suddenly his hoe came down hard on a bombie. He lost both legs and two fingers.

I met Lee at Xieng Khouang provincial hospital where he was having a moulding done for prosthetic legs. He was unsure and worried about what the future held. “I have five very young children, and my wife is six months pregnant,” he said. For now, his elderly parents and younger brother help his family. “I hope, with the prosthetic leg, to get back to work either in the field or around the house.”

Unfortunately, most survivors are unable to continue physical work, even if, like Lee, they receive free treatment and prosthetic limbs from agencies such as COPE and World Education . A prosthetic leg that can last up to two years costs as little as $50, yet in a country consistently ranked one of the region’s poorest and where almost 30 percent of the population live on less than $1 a day, this is more than most families can afford. Worse, loss of a breadwinner means loss of income and increased poverty.

Cluster bombs are dropped by planes or fired by mortars. They open mid-air releasing multiple explosive sub-munitions that scatter over a large area. These bomblets are usually the size of tennis balls.

Aid agencies say the indiscriminate nature of these weapons and the fact many bomblets fail to go off mean they have a devastating humanitarian impact.

On December 3 this year, over 100 nations will sign an international treaty to ban the use of cluster bombs.

Legacy of Vietnam War:

In Laos, it’s thought that around 30 percent of bombies failed to explode on impact, leaving about 80 million live munitions lying on or under the soil which has posed a serious threat to people’s lives and livelihood.

So far, fewer than 400,000 bombies have been cleared, a meagre 0.47 per cent. The United Nations estimates almost half of all cluster munition victims are from Laos.

Even with community awareness programmes run by national authority UXO Laos, with support from numerous aid agencies, the injuries and deaths continue. Sometimes people touch the bombies out of ignorance, other times it’s out of curiosity (children) or for economic reasons (adults).

With scrap metal going at $1 to $3 a kilogramme, some people collect war remnants to sell, and this includes unexploded ordnance.

In a private foundry on the outskirts of Phonsavanh, the capital of Xieng Khouang, the humanitarian organisation Mines Advisory Group (MAG) sorted through five years’ worth of scrap metal, and discovered over 24,000 live items, including 500 cluster munitions.

Xieng Khouang, in northern Laos, is one of the most affected areas – more than 500,000 tons of bombs were dropped here.

The mountainous and beautiful terrain is marred by craters of all sizes – locals liken it to the surface of the moon – and littered with metal shrapnel.

Children are at constant risk. In a small village school 20 minutes from the provincial capital, 248 bombies were found in a 4,200 sq metre area.

The province is also famous for the Plain of Jars – a vast plateau of ancient stone jars whose origins remain a mystery. But the amount of war debris scattered between the giant jars has seriously hampered archaeologists’ efforts to find out more about them.

David Hayter, country director of MAG, says the sad truth is that Laos will never be 100 percent rid of cluster bombs. “The priority is in clearing the land where people are living and working,” he said. “We are teaching them to learn to live safely within the environment. It’s a mixture of education and clearance.”

Source

Cluster Bomb

Thursday, 29 May 2008

cluster_big.png

More than 100 nations have reached an agreement on a treaty which would ban current designs of cluster bombs. Diplomats meeting in Dublin agreed to back an international ban on the use of the controversial weapons following 10 days of talks. But some of the world’s main producers and stockpilers – including the US, Russia and China – oppose the move. Prime Minister Gordon Brown called it a “big step forward to make the world a safer place”.

He announced earlier that Britain would be taking cluster bombs out of service. The final draft of the treaty went before delegates from a total of 109 countries on Wednesday afternoon.

How a Cluster Bomb Works (Source: Handicap International)

Cluster bombs are complex weapons. The following sequence explains its functioning and why bomblets cover a large area.

cluster1.pngStep 1: The cluster bomb CBU-87 is dropped from a plane. It weighs about 430 kg and carries about 200 bomblets. This bomb can be dropped from a wide range of aircrafts from many different countries. The bomb can fly about 9 miles by itself before the bomblets are released.


cluster2.pngStep 2: A short time before the bomblets are released the cluster bombs begin to spin. The canister opens at an altitude between 100m and 1000m. The height, velocity and rotation speed determine what area will be covered by the bomblets.


cluster3.pngStep 3: Each bomblet is the size of a soft drink can. They deploy a little parachute that stabilizes them and makes sure that they descend with their nose down. Each of the bomblets holds hundreds of metal pieces, which can pierce armour.


cluster4.pngStep 4: Depending on the altitude from which the bomblets were released and on the wind conditions, the bomblets can cover an area of up to 200m by 400 m. When the bomblets explode, they cause injury and damage across a wide area. The blast of one bomblet can cause deadly shrapnel injuries of in a radius of up to 25 metres.


cluster5.pngThis map shows the area of Trafalgar Square, London. It illustrates the radius of the bomblets. One cluster bomb could spread bomblets covering the red area. The green area shows the radius in which the bomblets could cause fatal injuries.

‘Bomblets’

Cluster bombs have been used in countries including Cambodia, Kosovo, Afghanistan and Lebanon.They are made up of a big container which opens in mid-air, dropping hundreds of smaller individual sub-munitions, or “bomblets”, across a wide area.

Source


All politicians around the world should be “Urged” to sign and ratify this Treaty.

Don’t hesitate to give your “Government” a call or e-mail them.

Some times a bit of encouragement is needed.

War “Pollution” Equals Millions of Deaths

Landmine Treaty Ignored, 5,400 killed or injured in 2007

Landmine Treaty Ignored, 5,400 killed or injured in 2007

November 21 2008
15 countries including Britain will miss their 2009 landmine clearance targets
Greece, Turkey and Belarus continue to violate an international treaty by not destroying their stock of landmines, according to a report that says more than 5,400 people were killed or maimed by landmines last year.

The Landmine Monitor Report released by the International Campaign to Ban Landmines (ICBL) says that 15 other countries including Britain will miss their 2009 clearance targets.

According to Stuart Casey-Maslen, editor of the Landmine Monitor, “It is not acceptable that [these] countries have failed to clear a single mined area in the last nine years and expect to be granted extensions,” he told reporters ahead of a meeting of the treaty’s 156 signatory states to be held in Geneva next week.

The ICBL report says that anti-personnel mines, cluster munitions and other ordnance can lie dormant for decades before exploding.

While trade in landmines is now virtually non-existent, many countries are moving too slowly to get rid of the crippling weapons, the 1,155-page report said.

The ICBL, which was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in 1997, said that while Denmark, Ecuador, Nicaragua, Peru, Britain and Venezuela, are seeking more time to clear their mined areas, de-mining operations should have been finished by now.

But Britain has not even begun mine-sweeping in the Falkland Islands, where it fought a war with Argentina in 1982, while Venezuela has said it gains some benefit from mines that keep Colombian guerrillas off its territory, Casey-Maslen said.

Greece and Turkey have a combined stockpile of 4.2 million anti-personnel mines, and Belarus has 3.4 million yet to be destroyed under the Ottawa Convention, which regulates the use, stockpiling, production and transfer of anti-personnel mines and monitors their destruction.

Source

A lesson in landmines

IN DEPTH: Landmines


Sad Plight of Landmine Blast Survivors

Uganda, Africa

November 21 2008

Government pledging to help victims, often shunned by friends, families and employers.

By Gloria Laker Aciro in Gulu (AR No. 193, 20-Nov-08)

Irene Laker said she’d had a restless night because her village near Gulu had just been attacked by members of the rebel Lord’s Resistance Army, LRA.

In the morning, she walked out the back of her house. “As I moved, [there was] a big bang. I had stepped on a landmine the rebels had planted at night,” she said, recalling the incident in May 2001 that wrecked her life.

Laker was taken to the local Lacor Hospital, where her leg was amputated. After two months, she was fitted with an artificial limb donated by an Italian organisation.

Over the years, thousands of people in northern Uganda have either been maimed or killed by landmines and other forms of unexploded ordnance such as hand grenades and mortars.

Laker, now 29, said her life was devastated by her injury. The man she was set to marry called off the wedding when he saw her condition in hospital.

Then she said all her good friends deserted her and finally she lost her job.

“Before the accident, I had got a job as secretary in the office of the resident district commissioner. But when I reported for work one day, I was told to leave because I had become disabled,” she said.

Women have been particularly hard hit by the landmine problem, say experts, because they generally are the ones who gather firewood and cultivate gardens.

William Odong, a Gulu district councillor who represents people with disabilities, said women constitute 70 per cent of landmine cases in the north.

“The fact that … women are more engaged in agricultural work, collecting fire wood, and fetching water [puts] them [more] at risk of being hurt,” he told IWPR.

Women with amputated limbs are often shunned by family and friends.

“Most of the women who are victims of landmines have been abandoned by their husbands, who either marry another woman or send them away,” he said.

Small children are also victims of landmines, says Odong, because they accompany their mothers to collect firewood, work in gardens or go to fetch water.

He adds that landmine survivors can also face workplace discrimination because some jobs can’t be performed by the disabled, and some are disqualified simply because of discrimination against amputees.

“People see landmine survivors as a [undesirables] and try not to get close or give them support,” continued Odong. “Unless we move away from this kind of behaviour, the survivors will never be happy.”

Odong was also critical of demining operations which he said wait for people to report suspected landmines rather than go out searching for them.

He says it’s risky to have villagers look for landmines and other unexploded devices – something that should only be handled by experts.

Mark Livingstone, a landmine expert with a Danish de-mining group, said progress has been made to remove these hazards from northern Uganda during the past couple of years.

“We have deployed more men on the ground lately in smaller teams so that they can identify, respond and clear larger areas a lot faster,” he said.

“However, the main threat in northern Uganda is unexploded ordnance, [as] people move back to their villages and start to clear the ground for agriculture.”

More is being done to warn locals of the dangers of landmines and other unexploded devices, he says, through school programmes and local radio.

“We teach them that if they see an object like a landmine, they should mark the area … and quickly report [it], [so we can] move to verify and detonate,” he said.

But, said Livingston, the de-miners fear that in the next year more casualties are likely as people clear more land for cultivation.

Despite the setbacks, life has begun to improve for some landmine victims.

Laker, for example, joined the Gulu-Amuru Association of Landmine Survivors and now works with the organisation as a secretary, helping to set up support projects for victims.

One such project provides small solar panels to victims who live in villages where there is no electricity. The survivors earn money by using the panels to recharge mobile phone batteries.

Association coordinator Stephen Okello, who is also a landmine victim, said others are engaged in bricklaying, pig-raising and poultry projects.

In addition, homes are being built for some victims in Gulu and Amuru – and the first 15 are almost complete, says Okello.

More help may also be coming from the Ugandan government.

Gulu resident district commissioner Walter Ochora says documentation of victims of war who have lost limbs or been mutilated began last year.

“Victims of war including landmine survivors are faced with a number of challenges,” said Ochora. “They are categorised as persons with special needs, and soon all will be compensated by government of Uganda.”

Gloria Laker Aciro is an IWPR-trained reporter.

Source

The Ottawa Treaty (also known as the Convention On The Prohibition Of The Use, Stockpiling, Production And Transfer of Anti-Personnel Mines And On Their Destruction) bans the use of anti-personnel mines around the world.

In 1992, Handicap International and five other NGOs, completely appalled by the suffering and the horrifying consequences of the use of anti-personnel mines on civilians, decided to create the International Campaign to Ban Landmines (ICBL). For Handicap International, the decision to take part in the creation of ICBL was motivated by the fact that our staff saw daily victims of landmines in countries such as Cambodia or Kosovo.

Three years later, in March 1995, Belgium became the first country to ban anti-personnel landmines. This brave move bya small country was the result of a fruitful cooperation between Handicap International and two visionary members of the Parliament.

By March 1997, 53 countries had announced their support for a total ban on landmines, 28 countries had renounced of suspended the use of mines, and 16 began destroying some of their stockpiles.

By September 16, 1998, the Treaty to Ban Landmines, which had been opened for signature in December 1997, had been ratified by the 40 countries required to make it a binding international convention. The treaty entered into force on 1st March 1999, faster than any international treaty in history. The Treaty:

  • prohibits the manufacture, trade and use of anti-personnel mines
  • obliges countries to destroy stockpiles within 4 years and clear their own territory within 10 years
  • urges governments to help poorer countries clear land and assist landmine victims

The Treaty to Ban Landmines has already had some tangible effects on the production and trade of landmines, even among countries that have not yet signed the treaty. By 1999, only 16 of the original 54 mine-producing countries continued to manufacture anti-personnel landmines or their components, and all traditional exporters of mines, except Iraq, have officially ceased their activities.

As of 20 March 2006, there are 154 signatories/accessions to the Treaty more than two-thirds of the world’s nations. Those who have still not signed include the US, Russia, China, Pakistan, Finland and India.

Map of the countries that signed the Treaty to Ban Landmines


A landmine victim every hour in the world

  1. • Indiscriminate: landmines kill and maim civilians, soldiers, peacekeepers and aid workers alike. Landmines lie dormant in the ground and become a permanent threat to civilians in peacetime.
  2. • Inhumane: It is estimated that there are between 15,000 and 20,000 new casualties every year. Many people die in the fields from lack of emergency care. Those who survive will most likely suffer from amputations, will face long hospital stays and require extensive rehabilitation. Hundreds of thousands of people have been killed or injured in the last decades.
  3. • Development disaster: landmines deprive people in some of the poorest countries of land and infrastructure. Landmines also hold up the return of refugees and displaced people. They hamper reconstruction and the delivery of aid, whilst killing livestock and wrecking the environment.
  4. • Landmines are everywhere: 84 countries and 8 territories are affected in the world. Afghanistan, Angola, Bosnia, Cambodia, Chechnya and Iraq are some of the worst affected countries.
  5. • Still work to be done: Landmines are still being planted today and minefields dating back decades continue to lie in wait of innocent victims. Over 10 countries are still producing landmines.


Source

War “Pollution” Equals Millions of Deaths

Published in: on November 24, 2008 at 1:44 am  Comments Off on Landmine Treaty Ignored, 5,400 killed or injured in 2007  
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Sierra Leone: A mission for MSF(Doctors Without Borders)

One the young children at the therapeutic feeding center at the MSF-run Gondama Referral Center in Sierra Leone.

MSF

November 17 2008

By James Blunt

I was a reconnaissance officer in the British army in the Kosovo conflict of 1999. As such, I was the eyes and ears of my commanders, send ahead to give them information about what their main formations might encounter as they advanced. As the Vanguard, we thought we were doing a tough job, but on ­numerous occasions we would run into a hut or shed in the middle of nowhere with a queue of civilians waiting to see the doctor inside.

These doctors and nurses from all over the world were volunteers for Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF), and selflessly risked their safety to bring medical attention to the civilian victims of man-made or natural disasters. In a celebrity-obsessed world, I clearly remember thinking that these are the people who should be celebrated.

Today in the Democratic Republic of Congo, Médecins Sans Frontières teams are working to meet the immense humanitarian needs of hundreds of thousands of people who have been displaced by renewed fighting in the North Kivu ­region of Eastern DRC and are living in extremely precarious conditions. The teams are providing water and sanitation services, life saving surgical support, and primary medical care to people injured in the fighting or who have been uprooted and have fled for their lives.

Even at a time of financial crisis, people uprooted by war and conflict and those affected by disease and malnutrition remain just as vulnerable and in need of assistance. That is why it is vital that we maintain support to those in desperate need right now. Doctors Without Borders relies on the generosity of individuals to carry out its essential life-­saving work.

Contributions can be made online at doctorswithoutborders.org

Life with the MSF

Metro followed Médecins Sans Frontières onsite as the organization works to improve the ­conditions for those living in Sierra Leone, one of the worst countries to live in, according to the United Nations.

“This is what I wanted to do for a very long time,” says Monica Thallinger. It’s the 29-year-old Norwegian pediatrician’s first MSF mission.

Monica Thallinger ­enjoys working for Médecins Sans Frontières even though it’s not quite the same as her job back at the hospital in Fredrikstad, Norway: “It’s interesting, but hard work, but it also gives you a lot back.”

Malaria is just one of the diseases she never treats back home, and child mortality at the Gondama Referral Center outside Bo is much higher. Here, two or three children die every day as many parents wait too long to seek help. By then it’s often too late.

“Back home a child dies very seldom, so it’s quite tough,” Thallinger says.

But things have improved since Medecins Sans Frontieres set up their operation in the area. “You can imagine how it would be if we weren’t here.”

Even though many traditional doctors have seen the number of clients dwindle since MSF started providing free health care, it happens that patients come in with two conditions — even though it ought only be one.

“Traditional herbs are very common. Some of them actually work but some have been given herbs for months and are intoxicated when they come in.”

But still, Thallinger sees her job as very rewarding. “You see children become better even if they are very ill when they come in and it’s very rewarding to see most of them become healthy.”

Malnutrition is also a common problem in the area. “I especially remember one patient. I had seen malnourished children before, but she was just skin and bones. But for some reason she kept her head up. She was too unstable for x-rays, but we gave her TB drugs and two weeks later she was smiling. Now she is this healthy child running around and you cannot see she was sick.”

Patrick Ekstrand, Metro Sweden

Prevention part of the plan

A young girl is treated for malaria in MSF’s intensive care unit at the Gondama Referral Centre. Her condition is aggravated by herbs given to her by a traditional doctor. The case is far from unique, says MSF doctor Monica Thallinger.

In Sierra Leone, malaria is the main cause of death among children under five. Statistics compiled by the World Health Organization (WHO) explains part of the reason: only 5 per cent of children under five sleep under an insecticide-treated net. The percentage is higher around Bo, where MSF has provided communities with 65,000 insect nets. A survey done last year in the area where MSF operates shows two-thirds of children sleep under nets. Also, under-five mortality decreased by two-thirds in 2007 compared to the previous year.

Malaria is a child killer. Out of an estimated 1 million malaria deaths in Africa, 900,000 occur among children under the age of five. It is also a disease of poverty — and a cause of poverty. The WHO estimates that malaria costs Africa $12 billion US annually. Breaking this evil circle is as easy as breaking the life cycle of malaria. There is no vaccine, but insecticides, mosquito netting and medicines are part of the ­solution.

However, the GDP per capita in Sierra Leone is only $600 US and health expenditure is just over 3 per cent of the GDP — $20 US per person per year — and those without access to adequate health care have to find other ways. Those living around Bo are better off as MSF provides free health care for children and expecting mothers.

Working with community volunteers to fight malaria

MSF volunteer Mohamed Sandi tests a child for malaria.

Mohamed Sandi, a carpenter, rips open a packet of latex gloves, dons them and pricks the finger of Massah, a two-year-old girl with a fever.

A droplet of blood is placed in a paracheck, a malaria test kit similar in appearance to an off-the-shelf pregnancy test. He keeps looking at his battered digital watch. ”She’s positive,” he says after 15 minutes.

By then Massah has forgotten the sting of the lancet and snatches the foil-enclosed strip of anti-malarials from Sandi’s hand as if they were sweets.

Sandi is one of some 140 community malaria volunteers (CMV), trained by Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) to diagnose and treat malaria. He also knows which patients to refer to a clinic, among them pregnant women.

“Sometimes a person is very weak and at times they are bleeding from their nose and I send them to the clinic,” he says. By the end of next year the number of CMVs will double to nearly 300, as the project has been highly successful.

“Malaria was very plenty here, at times maybe seven or eight per week, but it is better now,” Sandi says. “I’m not a doctor, but people in the village call me doctor.”

Anyone can be a CMV as long as they are committed and literate — writing journals and collecting statistical data is a vital part of the job. In return for their voluntary work, other villagers supply the CMVs with food and help them tend to their gardens.

The most severe cases end up at the Gondama Referral Centre, an MSF-run hospital outside Bo, the second largest city in Sierra Leone. The GRC provides free health care for children and expecting mothers.

“A Cesarean section at the government hospital is 100 dollars and it’s impossible for the patients to pay,” explains Noemie Larsimont, the Belgian doctor responsible for the GRC.

The world’s forgotten crises, according to MSF

Burma. Humanitarian aid is limited in Burma since the military seized power in 1962. Despite enormous needs there are few relief organizations that work in the country. Only a small amount of the regime’s budget is allocated to health care.
Central African Republic. The political crisis has caused a collapse of the health care system. Poor living conditions cause illnessess.
Colombia. After more than 40 years of civil war with the military more than 3 milion people have fled their homes. Children are forced to be soldiers.
Democratic Republic of Congo. One of the world’s poorest countries. Several hundred thousands have fled their homes the last year. The Congolese have a high prevalence of malnutrition and malaria.
Somalia. The country has lived through chaos for 15 years. But the humanitarian aid has decreased. Violence makes the situation difficult for aid organisations.
Sri Lanka. The conflict between the government and Tamil rebels LTTE has struck hard against the civilian population. Bombings, mines and suicide attempts are everyday events.
Chechnya. The Caucasus is still unstabile after the war against Russia. There is shortage of basic health care.
Zimbabwe. Political instability, inflation and shortage of food has weakened the country. Three million people have fled the country. Prospects for the future are not good, medical staff is leaving the ­country.
Malnutrition. Every year five million children under the age of 5 die from malnutrition. Despite new forms of treatment, starvation is still an enormous problem, especially in Africa.
Tuberculosis. Every year 11 million people are infected with tuberculosis. Two million die from the disease. Most victims live in poor countries without sufficient health care.

Source

More information:

Doctors Without Boarders Providing Assistance in North Kivu, DRC

US Kills Dozens of Wedding Guests in Afganistan

By JESSICA LEEDER AND ALEX STRICK VAN LINSCHOTEN

November 4, 2008


Dozens of Afghan civilians are dead and dozens more are wounded after a series of air strikes aimed at Taliban fighters fell short of their target and exploded in the middle of a wedding party in a mountainous region north of Kandahar city, tribal elders and wedding guests told The Globe and Mail on Tuesday.

Survivors of the attacks, which occurred in the village of Wech Baghtu in the district of Shah Wali Kowt on Monday evening, said the majority of the dead and injured were women – the bombs struck while male and female wedding guests were segregated, as is customary in Kandahar province.

They said the bodies of at least 36 women have been identified, and hundreds more men and women have been injured. Local leaders have yet to establish a firm casualty count because many of the victims remain buried beneath rubble, said Abdul Hakim Khan, a tribal elder from the district.

In interviews at Mirwais Hospital in Kandahar city, where at least 16 male victims and dozens of female victims were being treated Tuesday night, several villagers described the attack. While Mr. Khan corroborated much of the information witnesses gave during a separate interview, it was not possible to independently verify their account or the numbers of dead and injured they gave.

Witnesses gave conflicting statements about the identity of troops who arrived at the scene after the air attacks, with some saying they saw Canadian soldiers while others said they saw U.S. troops.

It was not immediately clear which international forces were responsible for the air strikes.

A Canadian military source denied that Canada, which has responsibility for Kandahar province, had any involvement. “Task Force Kandahar has not been in any significant military engagement in Shah Vali Kowt in the last two days,” the source said.

The sparsely populated mountainous region surrounding the village is a known Taliban stronghold. In the past the area has been a target of various anti-insurgent special operations.

Mr. Khan said his village is situated at the foot of a mountain frequented by Taliban insurgents. At the time of the wedding, insurgents on the mountain had attempted to attack troops in the area with an improvised explosive device, Mr. Khan said. Fighting broke out between troops and insurgents after the Taliban began firing from the top of the mountain, which triggered the air strike, he said.

Abdul Zahir, 24, the brother of the bride, said fighting broke out between Taliban and international troops near a crossroads in the village early on Monday. Wedding guests first heard shots from the mountain about 4 p.m. Air strikes followed about half an hour later and lasted about five hours, he said.

While Mr. Zahir was not injured, his sister was severely hurt, as were three of his young cousins, Noor Ahmad, Hazrat Sadiq and Mohammad Rafiq, who range in age from three to five years old. During the interview, they lay sprawled out next to him on tiny hospital cots. Mr. Zahir said that in all eight members of his family were killed, including two of his brothers, Qahir and Twahir, and his grandmother. Fourteen other family members were injured.

The bombing wasn’t the end of the ordeal, witnesses said. When the air strikes were over, they said, international troops arrived in three sand-coloured armoured vehicles.

Villagers reported they were intimidated and prevented from leaving to seek medical treatment while the soldiers took pictures.

The governor of Kandahar province will hold a press conference on the incident Wednesday morning, a spokesman said.

“We are collecting information right now about this incident. It’s not complete,” the spokesman said.

Alex Strick van Linschoten is a freelancer based in Kandahar

Source

Taliban insurgents in a remote village northeast of Kandahar provoked an attack by coalition troops that devastated a wedding party on Monday and resulted in dozens of civilian deaths, the top politician in Kandahar has told The Globe and Mail.

Ahmed Wali Karzai, chairman of Kandahar’s provincial council, said he and his brother, President Hamid Karzai, were told by villagers during a teleconference on Wednesday that between 300 and 350 Taliban fighters invaded Wech Baghtu, a mountain village in the district of Shah Wali Kowt, 60 kilometres northeast of Kandahar city, during the lead-up to a wedding ceremony. Inside the village, insurgents stationed themselves on rooftops, including those of homes that were holding wedding events.

From there they began firing rocket-propelled grenades at a convoy of four military vehicles, Ahmed Karzai said he and his brother were told. The troops retaliated on a massive scale, killing and injuring dozens of villagers, including several family members of the bride and groom.

The precise number of casualties has yet to be determined, but figures reported by witnesses and district leaders range from 38 to 90 dead. As of Wednesday, about 50 victims, most of them women, had checked into Mirwais Hospital in Kandahar with serious injuries, including burns and severed limbs. Some with more severe injuries were taken to Quetta, Pakistan, district elders said.

It remains unclear from reports gathered from survivors whether troops launched an air strike or a mortar attack on the village. Women who were helping the bride plait her hair before the wedding told a Globe researcher they remembered hearing shooting, but they blacked out when bombs struck the mud-walled home.

When the women awoke, they said, they were with the bride in hospital. While none of the coalition forces fighting in Afghanistan has taken responsibility for the attack, the U.S. military and the Afghan Ministry of the Interior announced a joint investigation into the incident.

“Though the facts are unclear at this point, we take very seriously our responsibility to protect the people of Afghanistan and to avoid circumstances where non-combatant civilians are placed at risk, said Commander Jeff Bender, a spokesman for the U.S. military. “If innocent people were killed in this operation, we apologize and express our condolences to the families and the people of Afghanistan. We have dispatched coalition personnel to the site to quickly assess the situation and take actions as appropriate.”

Although Canadian troops are responsible for Kandahar province, the Canadian Forces is adamant about its lack of involvement in the attack, which came to light late Tuesday after victims began arriving at Mirwais Hospital.

Major Jay Janzen, a spokesman for the Canadian military, said troops occasionally patrol the district centre of Shah Wali Kowt, but they rarely venture the 20 kilometres north to the village that was attacked.

At an afternoon press conference Wednesday, Rahmatullah Raoufi, the governor of Kandahar, identified U.S. forces as the troops involved in the attack. He also said the troops called in an air strike on the village in response to enemy fire. His office is still working to confirm numbers of casualties. In the meantime, Ahmed Karzai and the President said they have dispatched a team of trusted elders from the Shah Wali Kowt district to conduct a separate investigation.

Ahmed Karzai said the attack is a sign of the Taliban’s increasing reliance on terrorist tactics to turn locals against the government and coalition forces.

“People go against the government when civilian casualties happen,” Mr. Karzai said. “But the people know it’s because of [the Taliban] these casualties are happening.”

The issue of civilian casualties has been an increasing point of friction between Afghan government officials and coalition forces.

Between 2006 and 2007, there was a three-fold increase in civilian deaths from aerial attacks, according to a report released in September by the New York-based group Human Rights Watch. The deaths are largely due to unplanned air strikes called in by U.S. forces, said the report, which put the number of civilian deaths due to air strikes at more than 300 for 2007.

This year, the use of air power has increased. During the past three months alone, more than 100 civilians have died in unplanned air strikes in southern Afghanistan, including at least 17 in Helmand province two weeks ago and 90 in Herat in August. A U.S. military investigation into that raid acknowledged the death of only 33 civilians.

Ahmed Karzai acknowledged that Afghan security forces have been hard-pressed to counter insurgents in the remote areas where militants control swaths of land and frequently exploit villagers to provoke attacks. He said that locals in rural Shah Wali Kowt rely mainly on police for protection, but their ranks are thin.

“The police have a problem there. They aren’t really able to control the area,” he said. “The job of the police is to maintain law and order.

“They are not trained to fight guerrilla war. That’s the job of the military,” he said.

Problems are compounded by the poor economic state of the region, which suffered further in Monday’s attack when farm fields were destroyed.

“I feel sorry for them,” Ahmed Karzai said. “If the people could be armed, or if they were able to create a group to fight the Taliban, a lot of people would pick up arms.”

Source

Senator John McCain’s Record on Troop and Veterans’ Issues


In recent presidential debates, Senator John McCain has said things like, “I know the veterans.  I know them well.  And, I know that they know that I’ll take care of them.”  It was stunning, because nothing could be further from the truth.  It’s something that our friend Charlie Fink even made an issue of in his new video at Lunatics and Liars.

A lot of you have asked VoteVets.org to explain why Senator McCain gets consistently low ratings from veterans groups.   Below is a full list of votes, statements, and positions of Senator McCain’s, which shows that Senator McCain has consistently bailed on troops and veterans.

It’s a very long, but comprehensive list.  I encourage you to take a look and pass it around.  An even more robust list, complete with video, can be found at VetVoice.com, as well.

Sincerely,

Brandon Friedman
Iraq and Afghanistan War Veteran
Vice Chairman, VoteVets.org

Senator John McCain’s Record on Troop and Veterans’ Issues

· Veterans Groups Give McCain Failing Grades. In its most recent legislative ratings, the non-partisan Disabled American Veterans gave Sen. McCain a 20 percent rating for his voting record on veterans’ issues.  Similarly, the non-partisan Iraq & Afghanistan Veterans of America gave McCain a “D” grade for his poor voting record on veterans’ issues, including McCain’s votes against additional body armor for troops in combat and additional funding for PTSD and TBI screening and treatment.

· McCain Voted Against Increased Funding for Veterans’ Health Care. Although McCain told voters at a campaign rally that improving veterans’ health care was his top domestic priority, he voted against increasing funding for veterans’ health care in 2004, 2005, 2006 and 2007. (Greenville News, 12/12/2007; S.Amdt. 2745 to S.C.R. 95, Vote 40, 3/10/04; Senate S.C.R. 18, Vote 55, 3/16/05; S.Amdt. 3007 to S.C.R. 83, Vote 41, 3/14/06; H.R. 1591, Vote 126, 3/29/07)

· McCain Voted At Least 28 Times Against Veterans’ Benefits, Including Healthcare. Since arriving in the U.S. Senate in 1987, McCain has voted at least 28 times against ensuring important benefits for America’s veterans, including providing adequate healthcare. (2006 Senate Vote #7, 41, 63, 67, 98, 222; 2005 Senate Votes #55, 89, 90, 251, 343; 2004 Senate Votes #40, 48, 145; 2003 Senate Votes #74, 81, 83; 1999 Senate Vote #328; 1998 Senate Vote #175; 1997 Senate Vote #168; 1996 Senate Votes #115, 275; 1995 Senate Votes #76, 226, 466; 1994 Senate Vote #306; 1992 Senate Vote #194; 1991 Senate Vote #259)

· McCain Voted Against Providing Automatic Cost-of-Living Adjustments to Veterans. McCain voted against providing automatic annual cost-of-living adjustments for certain veterans’ benefits. (S. 869, Vote 259, 11/20/91)

· McCain Voted to Underfund Department of Veterans Affairs. McCain voted for an appropriations bill that underfunded the Departments of Veterans Affairs and Housing and Urban Development by $8.9 billion. (H.R. 2099, Vote 470, 9/27/95)

· McCain Voted Against a $13 Billion Increase in Funding for Veterans Programs. McCain voted against an amendment to increase spending on veterans programs by $13 billion. (S.C.R. 57, Vote 115, 5/16/96)

· McCain Voted Against $44.3 Billion for Veterans Programs. McCain was one of five senators to vote against a bill providing $44.3 billion for the Department of Veterans Affairs, plus funding for other federal agencies. (H.R. 2684, Vote 328, 10/15/99)

· McCain Voted Against $47 Billion for the Department of Veterans Affairs. McCain was one of eight senators to vote against a bill that provided $47 billion for the Department of Veterans Affairs. (H.R. 4635, Vote 272, 10/12/00)

· McCain Voted Against $51 Billion in Veterans Funding. McCain was one of five senators to vote against the bill and seven to vote against the conference report that provided $51.1 billion for the Department of Veterans Affairs, as well as funding for the federal housing, environmental and emergency management agencies and NASA. (H.R. 2620, Vote 334, 11/8/01; Vote 269, 8/2/01)

· McCain Voted Against $122.7 Billion for Department of Veterans Affairs. McCain voted against an appropriations bill that included $122.7 billion in fiscal 2004 for the Department of Veterans Affairs, Housing and Urban Development and other related agencies. (H.R. 2861, Vote 449, 11/12/03)

· McCain Opposed $500 Million for Counseling Services for Veterans with Mental Disorders. McCain voted against an amendment to appropriate $500 million annually from 2006-2010 for counseling, mental health and rehabilitation services for veterans diagnosed with mental illness, posttraumatic stress disorder or substance abuse. (S. 2020, S.Amdt. 2634, Vote 343, 11/17/05)

· McCain opposed an Assured Funding Stream for Veterans’ Health Care. McCain opposed providing an assured funding stream for veterans’ health care, taking into account annual changes in veterans’ population and inflation. (S.Amdt. 3141 to S.C.R. 83, Vote 63, 3/16/06)

· McCain Voted Against Adding More Than $400 Million for Veterans’ Care. McCain was one of 13 Republicans to vote against providing an additional $430 million to the Department of Veterans Affairs for outpatient care and treatment for veterans. (S.Amdt. 3642 to H.R. 4939, Vote 98, 4/26/06)

· McCain Supported Outsourcing VA Jobs. McCain opposed an amendment that would have prevented the Department of Veterans Affairs from outsourcing jobs, many held by blue-collar veterans, without first giving the workers a chance to compete. (S.Amdt. 2673 to H.R. 2642, Vote 315, 9/6/07)

· McCain Opposed the 21st Century GI Bill Because It Was Too Generous. McCain did not vote on the GI Bill that will provide better educational opportunities to veterans of the Afghanistan and Iraq wars, paying full tuition at in-state schools and living expenses for those who have served at least three years since the 9/11 attacks. McCain said he opposes the bill because he thinks the generous benefits would “encourage more people to leave the military.” (S.Amdt. 4803 to H.R. 2642, Vote 137, 5/22/08; Chattanooga Times Free Press, 6/2/08; Boston Globe, 5/23/08; ABCNews.com, 5/26/08)

· Disabled American Veterans Legislative Director Said That McCain’s Proposal Would Increase Costs For Veterans Because His Plan Relies On Private Hospitals Which Are More Expensive and Which Could Also Lead To Further Rationing Of Care. “To help veterans who live far from VA hospitals or need specialized care the VA can’t provide, McCain proposed giving low-income veterans and those who incurred injury during their service a card they could use at private hospitals. The proposal is not an attempt to privatize the VA, as critics have alleged, but rather, an effort to improve care and access to it, he said. Joe Violanti, legislative director of the Disabled American Veterans, a nonpartisan organization, said the proposal would increase costs because private hospitals are more expensive. The increased cost could lead to further rationing of care, he said.” (Las Vegas Sun, 8/10/08)

Lack of Support for the Troops

· McCain co-sponsored the Use of Force Authorization. McCain supported the bill that gave President George W. Bush the green light–and a blank check–for going to war with Iraq. (SJ Res 46, 10/3/02)

· McCain Opposed Increasing Spending on TRICARE and Giving Greater Access to National Guard and Reservists. Although his campaign website devotes a large section to veterans issues, including expanding benefits for reservists and members of the National Guard, McCain voted against increasing spending on the TRICARE program by $20.3 billion over 10 years to give members of the National Guard and Reserves and their families greater access to the health care program. The increase would be offset by a reduction in tax cuts for the wealthy. (S.Amdt. 324 to S.C.R. 23, Vote 81, 3/25/03)

· McCain voted against holding Bush accountable for his actions in the war. McCain opposed the creation of an independent commission to investigate the development and use of intelligence leading up to the war in Iraq. (S.Amdt. 1275 to H.R. 2658, Vote 284, 7/16/03)

· McCain voted Against Establishing a $1 Billion Trust Fund for Military Health Facilities. McCain voted against establishing a $1 billion trust fund to improve military health facilities by refusing to repeal tax cuts for those making more than $1 million a year. (S.Amdt. 2735 to S.Amdt. 2707 to H.R. 4297, Vote 7, 2/2/06)

· Senator McCain opposed efforts to end the overextension of the military–a policy that is having a devastating impact on our troops. McCain voted against requiring mandatory minimum downtime between tours of duty for troops serving in Iraq. (S.Amdt.. 2909 to S.Amdt. 2011 to HR 1585, Vote 341, 9/19/07; S.Amdt. 2012 to S.Amdt. 2011 to HR 1585, Vote 241, 7/11/07)

· McCain announced his willingness to keep U.S. troops in Iraq for decades–a statement sure to inflame Iraqis and endanger American troops. McCain: “Make it a hundred” years in Iraq and “that would be fine with me.” (Derry, New Hampshire Town Hall meeting, 1/3/08)

· McCain voted against a ban on waterboarding–a form of torture–in a move that could eventually endanger American troops. According to ThinkProgress, “the Senate brought the Intelligence Authorization Bill to the floor, which contained a provision from Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-CA) establishing one interrogation standard across the government. The bill requires the intelligence community to abide by the same standards as articulated in the Army Field Manual and bans waterboarding.”  McCain voted against the bill.  (H.R. 2082, Vote 22, 2/13/08)

· McCain Also Supported Outsourcing at Walter Reed. McCain opposed an amendment to prevent the outsourcing of 350 federal employee jobs at Walter Reed Army Medical Center–outsourcing that contributed to the scandalous treatment of veterans at Walter Reed that McCain called a “disgrace.” (S.Amdt. 4895 to H.R. 5631, Vote 234, 9/6/06; Speech to VFW in Kansas City, Mo., 4/4/08)

· Senator McCain has consistently opposed any plan to withdraw troops from Iraq–a policy that has directly weakened American efforts in Afghanistan. Senator McCain repeatedly voted against a timetable for withdrawing troops from Iraq. (S.Amdt. 3876 to S.Amdt. 3874 to H.R. 2764, Vote #438, 12/18/07; S.Amdt. 3875 to S.Amdt. 3874 to H.R. 2764, Vote #437, 12/18/07; S.Amdt.3164 to H.R. 3222, Vote #362, 10/3/07; S.Amdt. 2898 to S. Amdt. 2011 to H.R. 1585, Vote #346, 9/21/07; S. Amdt. 2924 to S.Amdt. 2011 to H.R.1585, Vote #345, 9/21/07; S.Amdt.2 087 to S.Amdt. 2011 to H.R. 1585, Vote #252, 7/18/07; S.Amdt. 643 to H.R. 1591, Vote #116, 3/27/07; S.Amdt. 4320 to S. 2766, Vote #182, 6/22/06; S.Amdt. 4442 to S. 2766, Vote #181, 6/22/06; S.Amdt. 2519 to S.1042, Vote #322, 11/15/05)

· McCain said it’s “not too important” when U.S. troops leave Iraq. This exchange occurred on NBC’s Today Show with Matt Lauer:

LAUER: If it’s working, senator, do you now have a better estimate of when American forces can come home from Iraq?
McCAIN: No, but that’s not too important.

(NBC, Today Show, 6/11/08)

Cheerleading for War with Iraq–While Afghanistan was Unfinished

· McCain suggested that the war in Iraq could be won with a “smaller” force. “But the fact is I think we could go in with much smaller numbers than we had to do in the past. But I don’t believe it’s going to be nearly the size and scope that it was in 1991.” (CBS News, Face the Nation, 9/15/02)

· McCain said winning the war would be “easy.” “I know that as successful as I believe we will be, and I believe that the success will be fairly easy, we will still lose some American young men or women.” (CNN, 9/24/02)

· McCain also said the actual fighting in Iraq would be easy. “We’re not going to get into house-to-house fighting in Baghdad.  We may have to take out buildings, but we’re not going to have a bloodletting of trading American bodies for Iraqi bodies.” (CNN, 9/29/02)

· Continuing his pattern, McCain also said on MSNBC that we would win the war in Iraq “easily.” “But the point is that, one, we will win this conflict. We will win it easily.” (MSNBC, 1/22/03)

· McCain argued Saddam was “a threat of the first order.” Senator McCain said that a policy of containing Iraq to blunt its weapons of mass destruction program is “unsustainable, ineffective, unworkable and dangerous.” McCain: “I believe Iraq is a threat of the first order, and only a change of regime will make Iraq a state that does not threaten us and others, and where liberated people assume the rights and responsibilities of freedom.” (Speech to the Center for Strategic & International Studies, 2/13/03)

· McCain echoed Bush and Cheney’s rationale for going to war. McCain: “We’re going to win this victory. Tragically, we will lose American lives. But it will be brief.  We’re going to find massive evidence of weapons of mass destruction . . . It’s going to send the message throughout the Middle East that democracy can take hold in the Middle East.” (Fox News, Hannity & Colmes, 2/21/03)

· “But I believe, Katie, that the Iraqi people will greet us as liberators.” (NBC, 3/20/03)

· March 2003: “I believe that this conflict is still going to be relatively short.” (NBC, Meet the Press, 3/30/03)

· McCain echoed Bush and Cheney’s talking points that the U.S. would only be in Iraq for a short time. McCain: “It’s clear that the end is very much in sight . . . It won’t be long . . . it’ll be a fairly short period of time.” (ABC, 4/9/03)

Staunch Defense of the Iraq Invasion

· McCain maintained that the war was a good idea and that George W. Bush deserved “admiration.” At the 2004 Republican National Convention, McCain, focusing on the war in Iraq, said that while weapons of mass destruction were not found, Saddam once had them and “he would have acquired them again.” McCain said the mission in Iraq “gave hope to people long oppressed” and it was “necessary, achievable and noble.” McCain: “For his determination to undertake it, and for his unflagging resolve to see it through to a just end, President Bush deserves not only our support, but our admiration.” (Speech, Republican National Convention, 8/31/04)

· Senator McCain: “The war, the invasion was not a mistake. (Meet the Press, 1/6/08)

· McCain said the war in Iraq was “worth” it. Asked if the war was a good idea worth the price in blood and treasure, McCain: “It was worth getting rid of Saddam Hussein. He had used weapons of mass destruction, and it’s clear that he was hell-bent on acquiring them.” (Republican Debate, 1/24/08)

Dangerous Lack of Foreign Policy Knowledge

· When questioned about Osama bin Laden after the 1998 U.S. missile strikes in Afghanistan, McCain surmised that the terrorist leader wasn’t as “bad” as “depicted.” “You could say, Look, is this guy, Laden, really the bad guy that’s depicted?  Most of us have never heard of him before.” (Interview with Mother Jones magazine, 11/1998)

· McCain was unaware of previous Sunni-Shia violence before the Iraq War. “There’s not a history of clashes that are violent between Sunnis and Shias. So I think they can probably get along.” (MSNBC, Hardball, 4/23/03)

· McCain said our military could just “muddle through” in Afghanistan. While giving a speech, McCain was asked about Afghanistan and replied, “I am concerned about it, but I’m not as concerned as I am about Iraq today, obviously, or I’d be talking about Afghanistan.  But I believe that if Karzai can make the progress that he is making, that in the long term, we may muddle through in Afghanistan.” (Speech to the Council on Foreign Relations, 11/5/03)

· McCain stated that Sunni al Qaeda was “supported” by the Shia Iranians. (2/2008)

· McCain again confused Sunni Muslim al Qaeda operatives with Shi’a Muslim insurgents. The Washington Post reported of McCain: “He said several times that Iran, a predominately Shiite country, was supplying the mostly Sunni militant group, al-Qaeda. In fact, officials have said they believe Iran is helping Shiite extremists in Iraq.

“Speaking to reporters in Amman, the Jordanian capital, McCain said he and two Senate colleagues traveling with him continue to be concerned about Iranian operatives ‘taking al-Qaeda into Iran, training them and sending them back.’

“Pressed to elaborate, McCain said it was ‘common knowledge and has been reported in the media that al-Qaeda is going back into Iran and receiving training and are coming back into Iraq from Iran, that’s well known. And it’s unfortunate.’” (Press conference, Amman, Jordan, 3/18/2008)

· Yet again, McCain demonstrated that he didn’t know whether al Qaeda was a Sunni or Shiite organization. While questioning General David Petraeus during a Senate hearing, the following exchange occurred:

MCCAIN: Do you still view al Qaeda in Iraq as a major threat?
PETRAEUS: It is still a major threat, though it is certainly not as major a threat as it was say 15 months ago.
MCCAIN: Certainly not an obscure sect of the Shi’ites overall?
PETREAUS: No.
MCCAIN: Or Sunnis or anybody else.

(Senate Armed Services Committee Hearing, 4/8/08)

· McCain incorrectly thought General David Petraeus was in charge of Afghanistan. The Army Times reported: “Speaking Monday at the annual meeting of the Associated Press, McCain was asked whether he, if elected, would shift combat troops from Iraq to Afghanistan to intensify the search for al-Qaida leader Osama bin Laden.

‘I would not do that unless Gen. (David) Petraeus said that he felt that the situation called for that,’ McCain said, referring to the top U.S. commander in Iraq.

“Petraeus, however, made clear last week that he has nothing to do with the decision. Testifying last week before four congressional committees, including the Senate Armed Services Committee on which McCain is the ranking Republican, Petraeus said the decision about whether troops could be shifted from Iraq to Afghanistan was not his responsibility because his portfolio is limited to the multi-national force in Iraq.” (Annual meeting of the Associated Press, 4/14/08)

· McCain credited the “surge” for the “Anbar Awakening”–even though the Anbar Awakening preceded the surge by nearly a year. (7/22/08)

· John McCain has also recently demonstrated either serious knowledge gaps in terms of foreign policy, or mounting confusion, when discussing an array of other countries:

Spain: McCain refused to commit to meeting with the president of Spain, a NATO ally, after becoming confused about America’s relationship with Spain, its leader, and, possibly, exactly where Spain is located. (9/17/08)


Czech Republic and Slovakia: McCain referred to the two countries using the name “Czechoslovakia” several times–despite the fact that Czechoslakia split apart and hasn’t existed since 1993. (
7/15/08; (7/14/08))


Venezuela: McCain said that Venezuela was a Middle Eastern country. (
9/30/08)

This man it seems would not protect our men and women who risk their lives every day.

Know who your voting for.  I would never vote for this man. I love my troops too much to leave them in his hands. The majority of the money in 612 billion budget for defense goes to contractors etc. The majority goes to the profiteers of war and there are many.

Not for the troops or the veterans. Very little actually is used to take care of them.

One can decide what they will but, always consider the running record of any candidate.

McCain’s record in this area is rather bleak. One would think of all the people, he would understand, the needs of these ones the most. But he doesn’t.

If he can’t fathom the needs of troops and veterans, I am afraid he would never be able to lead the American people into a new and brighter future. But that’s just my opinion.

Would you want the lives of you children, brothers, sisters, uncle, aunts, families or friends left in his hands?

That is the ultimate question we all have to ask ourselves.

Anyone who has had an adversarial relationship with John McCain will tell you that there are few with less self-control than the senator from Arizona. Many have questioned his ability to maintain a clear head in a time of crisis. For those of us who have seen these sparks of insanity from McCain, we know all too well that what lies beneath is something dark, ominous and certainly not presidential. John McCain makes reference to his service to our great nation by almost daily reminding us of his five and a half year captivity in the Hanoi Hilton. Yet few have been able to look beyond McCain, the POW, to examine his political record, as if it were taboo somehow to be critical of a former prisoner of war. But what about this former prisoner of war and his criticism of the very same people who fought to bring him home from the dark dank cell he likes to remind us about so much? – The POW/MIA Families of those less fortunate than McCain, those who still have yet to be returned to the soil they gave their lives for.

Since his return from Hanoi, McCain has …

~Ignored pleas of POW/MIA Family Members for his political influence in the overall POW/MIA Issue as well as with their individual cases

~Verbally abused POW/MIA Family Members in public and private

~Attempted to negatively influence those who testified before the 1992 Senate Select Committee on POW/MIA Affairs

~Diminished legislation that gave oversight and protection to the families

~Dismantled protection to any future servicemen that go missing.

Source

Published in: on October 17, 2008 at 12:46 pm  Comments Off on Senator John McCain’s Record on Troop and Veterans’ Issues  
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Clashes erupt in Montenegro over Kosovo

Oct 14 2008
Clashes erupt in Montenegro over Kosovo

Blasts were heard and ambulances streaming out of the centre of Montenegro’s capital as pro-Serb demonstrators clashed with police during a rally against Montenegro’s recognition of Kosovo’s independence.

Some 10,000 pro-Serbian protesters took to the streets of Podgorica for a rally against the government’s decision last week to recognise the independence of Kosovo, as the opposition harshly criticised the ruling coalition for “stabbing Serbia in the back.”

The protesters chanted “Treason! Treason!” and “Kosovo is Serbia!”, as opposition leaders gave Premier Milo Djukanovic a 48 hour deadline to annul the recognition of Kosovo, or face a referendum on the issue.

Both demonstrators and police officers were among the injured and witnesses saw a number of ambulances taking the wounded to a nearby hospital.

It is not clear what exactly triggered the clashes, but the violence broke out as protesters marched by the government building, reportedly throwing firecrackers and molotov cocktails towards the police cordon which was securing the area.

Demonstrators also demolished the fence around the government building, and police responded by firing the tear gas into the crowd.

In addition, police helicopters hovered over the centre of Podgorica.

Police have made at least a dozen arrests.

Following the violence, protesters dispersed across the capital but sporadic clashes were still being reported.

Miodrag Vukovic, a high-ranking official from the ruling Democratic Party of Socialists, blamed the incidents on the opposition, saying their political rivals have chosen a wrong tactic to express their dissatisfaction.

“This looks like the 1997 attempt to overthrow the government… But Montenegro has matured since then,” Vukovic said.

About a third of Montenegro’s population declare themselves as Serbs, while ethnic Albanians make up around seven per cent of the population of this small coastal republic.

Montenegro was also in a loose federation with Serbia up until a referendum on independence in 2006.
Podgorica recognized Kosovo`s independence on October 9, leading Belgrade to expel Montenegro’s ambassador.

Montenegro’s decision came just a day after the United Nations General Assembly voted in favor of Belgrade’s request for the International Court of Justice to render an opinion on the legality of Kosovo’s unilaterally declared independence in mid-February.

Source

Montenegro opposition to rally over Kosovo

The pro-Serbian opposition in Montenegro will hold a rally in the afternoon of October 13, to urge the government to withdraw its decision to recognize Kosovo’s independence, or call a referendum on the issue.

Podgorica’s decision to recognise Kosovo as an independent state has seriously disrupted relations between the ruling coalition and the opposition, which has also called for early parliamentary elections.

“We want to articulate the popular will on this issue”, the president of the opposition Socialist Peoples Party Srdjan Milic said. He said most Montenegrins do not support the government’s move to recognise Kosovo’s independence.

Despite harsh language between the government and opposition over the weekend, local analysts expect the overall situation to remain calm, and both sides have called on their supporters to remain calm.

About a third of Montenegro’s population declare themselves as Serbs, while ethnic Albanians make up around seven per cent of the population of this small coastal republic.

Montenegro’s police chief, Veselin Veljovic, said that police were prepared to prevent any disturbances during the rally. “The organisers have been warned to respect their obligations and responsibilities regarding public order,” he said.

Podgorica recognised Kosovo’s independence on October 9, leading Belgrade to expel Montenegro’s ambassador.

Montenegro’s decision came just a day after the United Nations General Assembly voted in favor of Belgrade’s request for the International Court of Justice to render an opinion on the legality of Kosovo’s unilaterally declared independence in mid-February.


Serb Paramilitaries on Trial for Kosovo War Crimes
October 6 2008
Belgrade
The trial of the so-called ‘Scorpion’ paramilitary group, who are accused of crimes during the 1998-1999 Kosovo conflict, resumed Monday at Belgrade’s War Crimes Chamber.

Zeljko Djukic, Dragan Medic, Dragan Borojevic and Miodrag Solaja are accused of attacking 19 civilians, all women and children, in Podujevo on March 28, 1999. Fourteen people were killed during the attack although five children survived.

Six other members of the Scorpion Paramilitary have already been tried and sentenced for the same attack the four are standing trial for now.

Scorpion Unit Commander Slobodan Medic was sentenced to 20 years in prison, member Sasa Cvijetin was sentenced to 20 years behind bars, Pera Petrasevic received 13 years, Branislav Medic’s jail term was reduced from 20 to 15 years, Aleksandar Vukov was cleared of all charges and Aleksandar Medic, who was originally sentenced to five years, was granted a retrial by the court.
Source

Olli Rehn

Olli Rehn
October 16 2008
Brussels _ The EU has urged Serbian officials to be constructive over Kosovo, especially in regards to the deployment of the bloc’s EULEX law and order mission.

“It is important that we all, including the Serbian government, work towards making EULEX’s deployment a success, and in this regard we expect a constructive approach”, said the bloc’s Enlargement Commissioner, Olli Rehn.

“After the vote at the United Nations General Assembly, the result of which was no drama or no surprise, it is now important that we all work in order to ensure overall regional stability and the enhancement of rule of law in Kosovo and elsewhere in the region,” he added.

This was the commissioner’s response to the latest message from Serbian President Boris Tadic that they would cooperate with the mission but only under certain conditions.

In the interview for Belgrade daily Vecernje Novosti, Tadic emphasised that Belgrade would condition the European mission’s presence in Kosovo on a green light from the UN Security Council, ask the current United Nations Mission to retain its neutral stance towards the status of Serbia’s former province and, last but not least, call for plans to implement the blueprint for Kosovo’s independence devised by former UN envoy and Nobel Peace Prize laureate, Martti Ahtisaari, to be dropped.

Rehn also reminded Serbia’s politicians that good neighbourly relations are of outmost importance under a EU pre-membership deal called the Stabilisation and Association Agreement, which Belgrade signed with Brussels at the end of April.

“We underline the importance of overall regional stability, and for that it is important that Serbia has a constructive approach to the Kosovo issue and the deployment of the EULEX mission which aims to ensure stability in Kosovo and the region, and citizens rights and rule of law for all the citizens of Kosovo,” Rehn said in Brussels.

Rehn earlier met Serbian deputy prime minister Mladjan Dinkic on Thursday to whom he congratulated the decision of the government to unilaterally start the implementation of trade-related parts of the Stabilisation and Association Agreement.

According to Rehn, this will be very useful in building a convincing track record when Serbia gets EU candidate status.

October 16 2008

Belgrade _ Serbia’s President Boris Tadic says a compromise with Brussels is possible over the deployment of the European Union’s new law-and-order mission to Kosovo.

Tadic said Belgrade wants to find a compromise to the deployment of the 2,200-strong European Union mission to Kosovo, known as EULEX but with blessing of the United Nations Security Council.

The world’s top security body remains divided on the issue since veto-wielding member Russia, strongly backs Serbia’s territorial integrity and has previously echoed Belgrade’s concerns that EULEX seeks to formalise Kosovo’s independence.

“We are working on that in all international forums, with the UN Security Council and the EU, with officials from Russia and the United States, with everyone who is vitally important in the future of Kosovo and Serbia,” Tadic told Belgrade daily Vecernje Novosti.

However Tadic emphasised that Belgrade would condition the European mission’s presence in Kosovo on a green light from the UN Security Council, ask the current United Nations Mission to retain its neutral stance towards the status of Serbia’s former province and, last but not least, call for plans to implement the blueprint for Kosovo’s independence devised by former UN envoy and Nobel Peace Prize laureate, Martti Ahtisarri, to be dropped.

“Anyone who finds fault with these principles has a problem with logic. There are political parties that are trying to fool Serbian citizens and ‘guarantee’ that EULEX will implement independence in Kosovo. We are going to fight to make sure that does not happen,” Tadic said.

The move towards a compromise between Belgrade and Brussels was also signalled by the EU’s special representative in Kosovo, Pieter Feith, who said that “recent consultations” between Serbia, the EU and New York opened the possibility for a widely acceptable solution for EULEX.

“There is a possibility that consultations between Belgrade, the EU and New York result with some kind of solution and the UN’s authorisation for EULEX. But I believe there is no real need for that,” Feith said, adding that the EU looks forward to cooperation with Belgrade on the matter soon.

The positive signals followed warnings from international think-tanks such as the International Crisis Group that divisions between Kosovo’s ethnic Albanian majority and some 100,000 remaining Serbs have widened following Kosovo’s unilateral declaration of independence from Serbia on February 17.

The United Nations Mission in Kosovo, UNMIK, which has administered Kosovo since the end of the 1998-1999 conflict between Serb forces and ethnic Albanians, has been wrapping up its mission under a procedure it calls ‘reconfiguration.’

EULEX is due to become the main international body in Kosovo, although its powers will be largely supervisory – particularly relating to the fields of policing and the judiciary.

But EULEX’s ability to fully deploy some eight months after Brussels okayed its biggest ever security and defence policy operation has given western powers cause for concern.

Critically it lacks a mandate from the UN Security Council since Russia has vowed to block any changes to Kosovo’s status which do not have approval from Serbia.

Belgrade and Moscow have also used this shortcoming to argue Kosovo’s independence is in fact illegal under international law.

Adding to EULEX’s woes is the question of whether it could ever deploy across the whole territory of Kosovo.

Kosovo Serbs, particularly those living north of the River Ibar, where they make up a majority, have so far defied Kosovo’s independence thanks to political and financial assistance from Belgrade.

They are also likely to put up stiff resistance against the EULEX mission.

“UNMIK remains our only legitimate partner in Kosovo,” Serbia’s Minister for Kosovo Goran Bogdanovic said, rejecting the EU’s announcements that its mission will be fully operational by December on the whole territory of Kosovo.

The UN mission has tried to take up Serbia’s concerns by opening up direct negotiations on local governance in Serb-dominated areas of Kosovo.

Such talks are to focus on areas such as police, courts and customs but little progress has been made so far.

Not only have the areas of dispute proved too complex for both sides to address but Kosovo’s ethnic Albanian leaders have also vented their frustration at being left out of the talks, expressed in their arguments that Kosovo’s sovereignty ‘cannot be compromised.’
Rehn also reminded Serbia’s politicians that good neighbourly relations are of outmost importance under a EU pre-membership deal called the Stabilisation and Association Agreement, which Belgrade signed with Brussels at the end of April.

“We underline the importance of overall regional stability, and for that it is important that Serbia has a constructive approach to the Kosovo issue and the deployment of the EULEX mission which aims to ensure stability in Kosovo and the region, and citizens rights and rule of law for all the citizens of Kosovo,” Rehn said in Brussels.

Rehn earlier met Serbian deputy prime minister Mladjan Dinkic on Thursday to whom he congratulated the decision of the government to unilaterally start the implementation of trade-related parts of the Stabilisation and Association Agreement.


October 16 2008 Belgrade _ Serbia’s government has unanimously backed a move to begin implementing reforms outlined in a key pre-membership deal with the EU despite the bloc having frozen the agreement.

Serbia hopes that by unilaterally taking up the key reforms prescribed in the Stabilisation and Association Agreement, Belgrade will be able to become a European Union candidate once the deal is unfrozen.

“The main goal is to shorten the time between implementation of the agreement and Serbian candidature for EU membership,” Premier Mirko Cvetkovic said after the open session of the Serbian government.

The parts of the key agreement with the EU will be implemented immediately but the rest of package, including new, lower custom taxes on the import of cars, will come into force from January, Serbian officials said earlier.

European officials have urged Serbia to begin implementing the deal unilaterally, despite the fact that there has been no EU consensus on backing Belgrade’s drive for membership.

Only one country, the Netherlands, has opposed ratification of the interim trade agreement with Belgrade.

The main reason behind such a stance according to the Dutch Foreign Minister Maxime Verhagen, was Belgrade’s failure to arrest and extradite to The Hague the former military chief of Bosnian Serbs, Ratko Mladic, wanted for genocide and war crimes committed during the 1992-1995 conflict.

Serbia’s pro-European government has made EU integration its key priority. EU officials earlier signalled that Serbia could achieve candidate status next year.

When the Serbian parliament ratified the Stabilisation and Association Agreement last month, the hardline opposition Radical Party, which has traditionally opposed EU membership, abstained from voting, a move which may signal the emergence of a greater national consensus on Serbia’s European objectives.