More US Deaths–2019

With all the debate on whether we are pulling out of Syria or not there is one thing that never changes….the chance of being killed in service to the country.

4 American soldiers were killed in Manjib, Syria by a suicide bomber…..

Described as the deadliest attack against US troops in Syria, a suicide bombing in the city of Manbij killed at least 15 people, including four US troops, and wounded a number of others, including three US troops.

The attack was claimed by ISIS, and that started an immediate furor among opponents of the announced US withdrawal from Syria, notably Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC), who suggested the very idea of the pullout had provoked the attack by emboldening ISIS.

This is almost certain to grow dramatically, with huge numbers of lawmakers and media pundits opposing the Syria pullout bound to present this as vindication for keeping the war going.

This is not just a convenient case for hawks to be mad, but also for ISIS themselves. ISIS, like its al-Qaeda predecessors, is very keen to keep US forces in the immediate vicinity as a way to keep them globally relevant. As with al-Qaeda in places like Afghanistan, the US has long been willing to give them exactly what they want.

So while now many are gearing up to try to further slow, if not outright stop, the Syria pullout, the reality of the situation is that if the US had kept to the reported 30-day pullout in the first place, the troops attacked today almost certainly would’ve already been out of Syria.

The names have not been released….I shall update this post as soon as the names are available…..

The sad thing is to see the media and war hawks try and use this incident of sadness as a rallying cry to stay the course in Syria. (A separate post to follow soon)

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112 Years Of Service

Closing Thought–28Dec18  #2

I was derelict in my duty over the last few days…..I try to give our troops and veterans all the respect they deserve….sad to say that from time to time I miss a chance to tell their story…..as it was over the days after Christmas that I decided to take a “few days”…..

Another sadness is that we lost another veteran of World War Two….their numbers are dwindling fast….the oldest veteran has died……

A family member says the nation’s oldest World War II veteran, who was also believed to be oldest living man in the US, has died in Texas. Richard Overton was 112. Shirley Overton, whose husband was Richard’s cousin, says the Army veteran died Thursday evening at a rehab facility in Austin, the AP reports. Overton had been recently hospitalized with pneumonia. Overton was in his 30s when he volunteered for the Army and was at Pearl Harbor just after the Japanese attack in 1941. He once said that one secret to his long life was smoking cigars and drinking whiskey, which he often was found doing on the porch of his Austin home. In 2013, he was honored by former President Obama at a Veterans Day ceremony at Arlington National Cemetery.

I apologize that I missed his passing and did not post an obit……our greatest generation is slowly dying off…soon they will be all gone and the next will be the Korean War many of whom were fighting in WW2….then my generation will be the ones that they talk about….probably not lovingly.

Mr. Overton….Thank you for your service to your country……May you Rest In Peace.

Closing Thought–14Dec18

Today I must go to the hospital and let the doctors poke and prod….so this should be it for the day and I shall return tomorrow…..but tomorrow is my wife’s day with her cardio doctors…..so another light posting day as well.

I have written here on IST many times about the problem of suicide with our active duty service people and our Veterans…..there are many different approaches to try and curb this spiraling problem…..

The mounting toll of military suicides since 2003 — an intractable problem highlighted again Friday with a murder-suicide at Joint Base San Antonio-Lackland — has surpassed the number of troops killed in Iraq.

The latest Pentagon statistics on suicides in all service branches, combined with previously-released data compiled by the San Antonio Express-News, brought the total to 4,839 for the years 2003 through 2015. In the same period, 4,496 American were lost serving in Iraq.

https://www.expressnews.com/news/local/amp/Suicides-in-military-since-2003-now-exceed-U-S-7237308.php

The military now has a novel approach for active duty personnel to try and head off this in advance……

The U.S. Army‘s top official said Thursday that he wants to see sergeants making regular visits to the barracks on weekends to help reduce the number of soldiers who die by suicide.

Suicide is a problem that every service struggles to prevent. In calendar year 2017, 509 U.S. military personnel died by suicide, according to Defense Department numbers. Of that number, the Army suffered 298 deaths by suicide across the active duty, National Guard and Reserve.

“It’s a tragedy that we have suicide in our ranks, but it’s coming into our ranks from society writ large,” Army Secretary Mark Esper told an audience at the American Enterprise Institute. “Every week, I am signing letters to families offering my condolences for soldiers who have taken their lives.”

https://www.military.com/daily-news/2018/11/08/army-wants-sergeants-barracks-weekends-prevent-suicides.html

Something needs to be done for this problem….but I think this approach is a band-aid for a sucking chest wound…..I do not think that this approach will do much to lessen the attempts of suicide to be honest…..

Anyone have anything they would like to add?

Closing Thought–12Dec18

It appears that things are not getting better for the citizens of the US when it comes to life expectancy…..

In 1918, the double whammy of World War I and the worldwide flu pandemic drove down American life expectancy for a third year in a row. A century later, another triple-year decline has been recorded—and this time, suicide and drug overdoses are major causes. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s annual report, US life expectancy dropped to 78 years and 7 months in 2017, down around a month from the year before, the AP reports. Men could expect to live 76.1 years, and women 81.1. Public health experts called the statistics alarming, noting that early deaths among middle-aged people did the most to bring life expectancy down. After 22 years of steady rises, life expectancy dropped in 2015 and again in 2016, though it will need to drop a lot more to reach the level of 1918, when life expectancy was 39.

“These sobering statistics are a wake-up call that we are losing too many Americans, too early and too often, to conditions that are preventable,” CDC Director Robert Redfield said in a statement. Another CDC report found that the number of drug overdose deaths rose almost 6,600 in 2017 to 70,237, CNN reports. The suicide rate rose to its highest in at least 50 years, with rates much higher in rural counties than in urban ones. Another factor was a harsh flu season. Experts say they find it worrying that in the US, life expectancy is going in a different direction than in most developed nations. “Life expectancy is improving in many places in the world. It shouldn’t be declining in the United States,” Joshua Sharfstein at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health tells the Washington Post. (A recent study predicted that by 2040, there will be 63 countries with higher life expectancy than the US.)

Technology and medical leaps have done little to make the life span of an American get any longer……we can only hope that these stats get better…..but I do not feel they will….not in today’s world.

Death In Mali–Update

I have been following the story of the death of an American Green Beret at the hands of 2 SEALs and 2 Marine Raiders in the West African nation of Mali…….

https://lobotero.com/2018/01/13/death-in-mali-2/

https://lobotero.com/2018/11/27/death-in-mali-continued/

I have been following and writing about this situation since I first learned about the death and the investigation.

The 4 Special Ops troopers were set to go to trial on 10 December and news has come out that the trials will be postponed……

A preliminary hearing for two Virginia Beach-based Navy SEALs and two Marines Raiders charged in connection with the death of an Army Green Beret in Africa in 2017 has been pushed to 2019.

Article 32 hearings, the military’s equivalent to a civilian preliminary court hearing, were originally set for Dec. 10 at Naval Station Norfolk. The Navy did not say why the hearings were pushed back but indicated it expected to hear the case in March.

https://www.military.com/daily-news/2018/12/07/hearings-postponed-seals-marines-charged-green-berets-death.html

The family of the deceased deserve  speedy end to their ordeal….and yet the Navy is dragging its feet….why?

Could this delay have anything to do with the discipline problems that are rumored?

https://lobotero.com/2014/11/10/squabbling-seals/

https://lobotero.com/2018/10/19/its-about-the-discipline/

The Navy needs to bring this chapter to a close as quickly as possible and allow the widow and family time to grieve and find some closure.

Death Comes To Yemen

***Once again I apologize for the length of this post but all the information is there and needs to be read….there is more to this situation than the 30 seconds it gets in the news***

There has been a lot of back and forth about the Saudi led war on the Arabian country of Yemen, the poorest country in the Middle East…..not many natural resources to covet…..if so then why try to bomb them into extinction?

The oldest reason around these days….religion.

It is the age old shia/sunni divide……Saudi is mainly Sunni and Yemen mainly Shia…..but if you are not sure of the conflict……

Hope that was helpful…..but I want to post on the massive amounts of deaths this war has created…..

More and more Westerners are starting to realize just how brutal this war is on the civilian population of Yemen…..the bus attack that killed many school children ….so along those lines  I want to talk about these and other deaths…..

In a week there have been about 123 deaths…..(an exact total is damn near impossible thanx to the Saudi onslaught)…….

According to the UN refugee agency, some 1,500 civilian casualties were inflicted in Yemen from August through October. Broken down, the agency says this is an average of 123 casualties per week.

This large number of casualties is unsurprising, as throughout that period the Saudi-backed invasion forces have been attacking heavily populated areas, and Saudi airstrikes kill civilians several times a week.

Civilian casualties are an ongoing problem throughout the war in Yemen, and the UN’s report came with a call for both sides to “do more” to protect civilians during the fighting. That they named both sides was likely necessary to prevent the Saudis from reacting furiously.

(antiwar.com)

Since the beginning of this conflict the civilians have been the targets (or so it appears)…….

In Yemen, a place where things couldn’t get worse, things have gotten worse.

85,000 children under the age of five may have died during the war in Yemen, according to the international charitable group Save the Children.  This figure was arrived at using data gathered by the United Nations International Children’s Emergency Fund (UNICEF).  Save the Children’s November 20 press release states that the children died from “extreme hunger and disease.”  Saudi Arabia’s naval blockade of Yemen’s port of Hodeidah is a huge factor in Yemen’s catastrophic food shortage.

Haven’t we already read this story?  It has been only a month since the New York Times ran a series of photos of Yemen’s dead and dying.  The lead photo is of a 7-year-old Yemeni girl, Amal Hussain, in a state of advanced starvation.  Amal has died since the photo appeared.

(look at the photos if your stomach can take it)

https://www.counterpunch.org/2018/12/06/yemen-85000-dead-kids/

Should peace on the Arabian Peninsula be given a chance?

In September, the UN envoy to Yemen, Martin Griffiths, failed to bring the parties to the table in Geneva after last-minute wrangling. This time he hopes to have better success. The Huthis arrived in Sweden on 4 December, with the internationally recognised government due to arrive the next day.

The talks in Sweden are preliminary consultations to set the stage for eventual negotiations. Griffiths hopes that the two sides will agree on some basic confidence-building measures, including prisoner swaps, the reopening of Sanaa airport and perhaps an agreement to stabilise Hodeida, as well as a broad roadmap for future talks. The two Yemeni delegations – representatives of the Huthi Ansar Allah movement and of the government of Abed-Rabbo Mansour Hadi – are not scheduled to meet face-to-face on this occasion; instead, the UN will shuttle between them. But given that every round of talks has collapsed – the last meaningful negotiations took place in Kuwait more than two years ago – even these limited goals may prove to be a stretch.

https://www.crisisgroup.org/middle-east-north-africa/gulf-and-arabian-peninsula/yemen/yemen-giving-peace-chance

The Congress is set to vote on the US involvement in the war on Yemen……

This week, the Senate will be holding floor debates on a resolution which challenges the legality of the US war in Yemen under the War Powers Act. The bipartisan bill would require the US to withdraw support for the Saudi-led conflict. The vote is expected some time this week.

A number of senators have expressed growing support for the bill in recent weeks, seeing it as a rebuke of the Saudi murder of Jamal Khashoggi. This has meant testimony to the Senate so far has centered on the murder, not the war.

The State Department has insisted that the administration intends to continue the war, spinning it as part of regional efforts against Iran. This is the Saudi narrative of the war, based on the other side being Shi’ites.

Speaking in the United Arab Emirates, State Dept. official Tim Lenderking pushed for the US to continue supporting the Saudi-led coalition in Yemen, saying that withdrawing from the war would send “a wrong message.”

(antiwar.com)

A group that I have some dealings with has issued a call for action in Yemen after the Congressional vote……

The U.S. Congress is notoriously reluctant to take tough decisions on matters of war and peace, which makes the Senate’s 29 November vote on the conflict in Yemen all the more remarkable.

https://www.crisisgroup.org/middle-east-north-africa/gulf-and-arabian-peninsula/yemen/six-steps-make-most-us-senates-yemen-vote

And now the Brookings Institute has issued a paper on the possibilities after a Saudi withdrawal…….

Pressure is mounting on Saudi Arabia to pull out of Yemen. The Pentagon announced on November 9 that it would stop aerial refueling of Saudi planes conducting operations in Yemen, ending assistance that began under President Obama in 2015, when Riyadh first began its bombing campaign. Last week, the Senate broke with the White House voted 63 to 37 to advance a resolution to end U.S. military support for the Saudi-led war. Democrats in the House of Representatives have promised to use their impending majority to end U.S. support for the Saudi war. So far, the president himself remains unconvinced and loyal to his Saudi friends, but Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and Secretary of Defense James Mattis both called for a ceasefire, suggesting the administration position on the Yemen war may be softening.

https://www.brookings.edu/blog/order-from-chaos/2018/12/05/yemen-after-a-saudi-withdrawal-how-much-would-change/

My personal feelings are that the Saudis have enough Congress people in their pockets to head off any blow back about the death and destruction of Yemen and the crisis they have created because of some religious bullshit.

Further Reading:

https://lobotero.com/2018/07/05/yemen-made-simple/

https://lobotero.com/2018/08/10/yemen-finally-the-media-has-noticed/

https://lobotero.com/2018/10/01/yemen-the-war-best-forgotten/

Death Of A Journalist

Let say from the onset that the death of a journalist is unacceptable!  Any Journalist!

We all know after months of coverage of the death of WaPo journalist Jamal Khashoggi….all the drama and lies and denial…..it was a tragic situation….and the drama around MbS was just too suspicious to ignore.

But why is his death, Khashoggi, more important than the deaths of other journalists…..about here someone will ask….well if it is such a problem just how many journalists have been killed?

That is an excellent question……in 2017 a total of 81 were killed while doing their job of reporting…..but what about 2018?  Another good question….at last count 48 journalist have been killed this year….if you would like to check the stats then this site will help…..https://cpj.org/data/killed/

I asked these question because of a piece I read in the Gatestone Institute site…….

  • Ironically, the same members of the media who have been obsessed with Khashoggi and the Saudi-US alliance have devoted little space to the reality that Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s government has been imprisoning, torturing and killing journalists for years.
  • The ongoing story of Khashoggi’s murder at the Saudi Consulate in Istanbul, more than being a function of concern for the Saudi journalist, was less important to Western journalists than attacking the Trump administration.

While the October 2 murder of the Saudi journalist, Jamal Khashoggi, continues to be discussed across the world, the November 23 assassination of a Syrian journalist, Raed Fares, and his devoted friend and cameraman, Hammoud al-Jneid, gunned down in Fares’s home village of Kafrandel, Syria.

https://www.gatestoneinstitute.org/13375/journalists-murder

Like I said any death of a journalist because of his job should be unacceptable and each and every one needs the attention of the world. Stifling the free exchange of opinions should be a crime against humanity and a war crime punishable by death.

All that aside…I have been asked why would this person would want a journalist dead?

Twenty-one years ago, the rising toll of attacks on journalists – and the fact that almost all of the crimes went unpunished – led Unesco to pass a resolution condemning violence against the media. It stressed that assassinations not only cut short individual lives, but attack freedom of expression, exacting a broader toll on society. Today, those concerns are more serious and widespread than ever. Nine in 10 of the more than 1,000 killings condemned by Unesco between 2006 and 2017 remain unsolved. Almost all were local journalists rather than foreign correspondents. Some were killed by criminals, armed groups and terrorists; but others by or on behalf of politicians or parts of the state.

https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2018/oct/09/the-guardian-view-on-the-killing-of-journalists-the-truth-in-peril

This seems to be a spiraling problem….the killing of journalists……

Further Reading:

https://www.poynter.org/news/why-they-kill-journalists

Then we have d/bags like this one……https://www.splcenter.org/hatewatch/2018/06/27/milo-wants-vigilantes-start-killing-journalists-and-hes-not-being-ironic