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Saturday, May 27, 2006 11:12 AM

GI SPECIAL 4B9: 10/2/06

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[Thanks to David Honish, Veterans For Peace, for sending in.

IRAQ WAR REPORTS

Car Bomb Kills 2 Iraqi Soldiers, Wounds U.S. Marine

Feb. 9 (Xinhuanet) & AP

A car bomb blew up at a checkpoint near the Syrian border, killing killed two Iraqi soldiers and wounding two, and a U.S. marine, the U.S. military said on Thursday.

Their conditions were not reported. The incident occurred Wednesday when a bomber drove an explosive-borne vehicle into a checkpoint in the New Obeidi, about 20 km from the border with Syria, the military said in a statement.

Fort Wainwright Soldiers Killed


Staff Sgt. Christopher Morningstar, left, and Spc. Jeremiah J. Boehmer from Fort Wainwright near Fairbanks, Alaska, were killed Feb 5, 2006, when an explosive device detonated near their Stryker squad engineer vehicle in Al Husayniyah, Iraq. (AP Photo/U.S. Army)

Fort Wainwright Soldier Killed


2.9.06: Pfc. Patrick W. Herried, 29, of Sioux Falls, S.D. from Fort Wainwright near Fairbanks, Alaska was killed Monday in Iraq when a bomb detonated next to his Stryker vehicle near Rawah, Iraq according to the Army. (AP Photo/U.S. Army)

Marine Killed In Baghdad


Marine Cpl. Brandon Schuck died Feb. 6, 2006, from an improvised explosive device during combat operations in Baghdad, Iraq, according to the Pentagon. (AP Photo/Schuck Family)

Occupation Command Caught Lying Again:
“A Rebellion Whose Ability To Mount Attacks Has Steadily Grown In The Nearly Three Years Since The Invasion”


Ebb and Flow of Attacks in Iraq

But while American and Iraqi officials have often pointed to the downward edges of those fluctuations as evidence that the steam was going out of the insurgency, the numbers over all seem to tell a different story, Mr. Christoff said.

February 9, 2006 By JAMES GLANZ, New York Times Company [Excerpts]

Sweeping statistics on insurgent violence in Iraq that were declassified for a Senate hearing on Wednesday appear to portray a rebellion whose ability to mount attacks has steadily grown in the nearly three years since the invasion.

The statistics were included in a report written by Joseph A. Christoff, director of international affairs and trade at the Government Accountability Office, who testified before the Senate Foreign Affairs Committee during a hearing on Iraq stabilization and reconstruction.

The figures cover attacks on American and Iraqi forces and civilians.

The curve traced out by the figures between June 2003 and December 2005 shows a number of fluctuations, including several large spikes in insurgent activity, one as recently as October of last year.

But while American and Iraqi officials have often pointed to the downward edges of those fluctuations as evidence that the steam was going out of the insurgency, the numbers over all seem to tell a different story, Mr. Christoff said.

“It’s not going down,” he said. “There are peaks and valleys, but if you look at every peak, it’s higher than the peak before.”

Officials have recently noted that the numbers of attacks in the final two months of last year dropped after an October peak, which occurred around both Ramadan and a referendum on Iraq’s constitution.

But Mr. Christoff’s chart shows that the number of attacks in December, nearly 2,500, was almost 250 percent of the number in March 2004.

But the trend line began even before March 2004, when the number of attacks was already nearly double what it had been in July or August 2003.

Mr. Christoff’s paper cites a senior United States military officer saying that “attack levels ebb and flow as the various insurgent groups, almost all of which are an intrinsic part of Iraq’s population, re-arm and attack again.”

Attacks against Iraqi security forces have grown faster than the overall count; by December 2005 they had grown more than 200 percent since March 2004. Of course, as more Iraqis are trained and put into the field, more of them are targets.

The paper, citing a contracting office in Iraq, said that as attacks had fluctuated downward in the final two months of last year, attacks on convoys related to rebuilding efforts had risen. 

Twenty convoys had been attacked, with 11 casualties, in October 2005, while 33 convoys had been attacked, with 34 casualties, in January 2006, the paper says.

IMPOSSIBLE MISSION
FUTILE EXERCISE
BRING THEM ALL HOME NOW!


Marines from the 22nd Marine Expeditionary Unit (MEU) patrol the main highway during a search for weapons caches in the village of Muhmuddiyah, February 5, 2006. REUTERS/Bob Strong

AFGHANISTAN WAR REPORTS

Afghans Attack Occupation Military Bases:
“A U.S. Tour In Afghanistan Is Just As Deadly As One In Iraq”

A week before the protests, local Taliban fighters in Zabul said something similar: “We attack those NGOs that are here to profit from our country, but not those here to help.”

February 7, 2006 by CHRISTIAN PARENTI, The Nation [Excerpt]

Afghanistan has veered sharply and unexpectedly toward a profound new level of instability, as protests against cartoons originally published in a Danish newspaper and deemed insulting to Mohammed have gripped major towns and cities across the country.

So far four protesters have been killed by local Afghan security forces.  Three of the dead fell at a protest outside the huge US military base at Bagram, where at least a dozen others were wounded.

Some Western embassies and nongovernmental organizations (NGOs) have begun evacuating staff.  Foreigners are largely staying off the streets, as protests are expected to continue until midday prayers on Friday.

In Kabul on Tuesday, protesters gathered outside foreign embassies, military bases and a United Nations compound.

Turned away at each location by guards firing weapons in the air, a crowd of 1,000 or more headed to the Wazir Akbar Khan neighborhood, where they attacked UN vehicles and houses belonging, or believed to belong, to NGOs.

There were also major protests in the western city of Herat; at the office of the Aga Khan Foundation, one of the largest aid agencies operating in Afghanistan; and in Pul-i-Khumri, due north of Kabul, where crowds attacked a Dutch base.  The Dutch Parliament recently voted to send an additional 1,000 troops to Afghanistan’s violent southern central province of Uruzgan.

In the normally peaceful northern town of Maymana, a crowd breached a base manned by Norwegian troops, threw stones, lobbed grenades, torched an armored vehicle and wounded several soldiers with the NATO-led International Security Assistance Force.

The troops shot tear gas and rubber bullets, and called in low-flying aircraft to ward off the protesters.  

British troops sent in a rapid-reaction force from Mazar-i-Sharif.  Eventually, the crowd dispersed, with one person reported dead and several wounded (some of the wounded are said to have later died).

Given the breadth and scope of the violence and its overtly anti-Western themes, it is clear that after four years of occupation and $8 billion of poorly managed development aid, a significant number of Afghans have grown tired of the “international community” and its military occupation.

Complementing the wave of violent protests was a massive suicide bombing at the central police station in Kandahar on Tuesday morning.  That blast, the twentieth suicide bombing in the past four months, left at least thirteen dead and thirteen wounded.  The victims, both police and civilians, had been standing in a queue at the police station.

The three days preceding the wave of protests saw major battles between local police and Taliban fighters in the southern province of Helmand, which is both a Taliban stronghold and a major poppy cultivation center.  Those battles killed more than twenty people and ended with coalition air support and a US mop-up operation.

A development worker in Helmand said that just before the violence flared, a local eradication plan was announced suggesting a connection between poppy farmers, smugglers and Taliban guerrillas, but the nature of that connection is hotly debated.

Sources close to the Taliban as well as the Ministry of the Interior have said that about a month ago a column of some 200 Taliban fighters entered Afghanistan from Pakistan via the southern province of Zabul, and from there spread out, some heading to Helmand, others to Uruzgan.

The protests over cartoons deemed offensive to Islam have straightforward, purely religious origins:-people are infuriated by the insult.

But the unrest in Afghanistan is also fueled by specifically local political and economic grievances.

One Kabul resident dismissed the suggestion of broader political connections to Palestine and Iraq, saying: “The people are just angry about the cartoon.”

But as one former Taliban leader who is now reconciled with the government said, “The NGOs don’t do enough. They just drive around.”

A week before the protests, local Taliban fighters in Zabul said something similar: “We attack those NGOs that are here to profit from our country, but not those here to help.”

Even a moderate shopkeeper in Ghazni expressed growing frustration with the international presence.  ”They spend their money on cars and expensive houses, and most of it ends up outside of the country.”  

Not helping matters are coalition-led house searches, random detentions and last year’s revelations of torture at Bagram air base.

The larger backdrop to the recent mayhem has been a steady deterioration of security for civilians and military personnel over the past three years.  In the past few months, Taliban insurgents have begun to claim credit for suicide bombings as well as for deliberately targeting civilians with improvised explosive devices.

The UN and others report that Taliban attacks are becoming more frequent and more sophisticated.

This seems to be borne out by higher casualties among American troops and ISAF forces.  

Statistically, a US tour in Afghanistan is just as deadly as one in Iraq.

One recent attack in Kandahar managed to kill a Canadian diplomat.

Even high-level political and intelligence officers from European countries are now writing and circulating highly pessimistic reports.

TROOP NEWS

THIS IS HOW BUSH BRINGS THE TROOPS HOME:
BRING THEM ALL HOME NOW


Apple Garcia, wife of Filipino-American U.S. army chief warrant officer Ruel Garcia, at a burial ceremony for her husband in his hometown in Obando, Bulacan province February 7, 2006.  Garcia, 34, a pilot, died along with his co-pilot in a crash after their Apache helicopter was shot down by a surface-to-air missile on the morning of January 16 in Taji, Iraq.  REUTERS/Romeo Ranoco

The Gold Star Mother Vs. The Bullshitting Maj. General

02/09/06 By PATRICIA GUTHRIE, NANCY BADERTSCHER, The Atlanta Journal-Constitution

Under the Gold Dome, House and Senate members gave a hero’s welcome Wednesday to Maj. Gen. William G. Webster Jr., commanding general of the 3rd Infantry Division and Fort Stewart.

Webster had an upbeat account of the progress that he and Georgia troops have witnessed in Iraq, including a massive buildup of Iraqi security forces in Baghdad and three elections.

Outside the Capitol, Patricia Roberts said she had a different perspective.  Her son, Spc. Jamaal Addison of the Army’s 507th Maintenance Company, was the first Georgia soldier to die in Iraq.  He was 22 and left behind a 1-year-old son who lives with Roberts.

“Live our lives just for one week, then you might understand our view,” said Roberts, one of about a dozen people who stood across from the Capitol, waving banners and signs and encouraging horn-honks of support for bringing the troops home.

Command Blasted Over Soldier’s Body Armor:
Asshole General Schoomaker Sneers At Soldier Again

[Thanks to Clancy Sigal, who sent this in. He writes: I love the quote: “How kind of them.”]

“We certainly have procedures that account for battle loss, and I just find it a highly unusual story. But we’ll certainly follow up and correct it if there’s any truth to it.”

08 February 2006 By Eric Eyre, The Charleston Gazette & By ALLISON BARKER, AP

West Virginia’s two US senators asked top military leaders Tuesday to explain why 1st Lt. William “Eddie” Rebrook IV had to reimburse the US Army $700 last week for body armor and other gear damaged after he was seriously wounded by a roadside bomb in Iraq.

More than 200 people, from West Virginia and across the country, donated more than $5,700 to Rebrook after reading about his body armor payment to the Army.

Rebrook, 25, who was medically discharged from an army base in Fort Hood, Texas, last week, said he wouldn’t keep the donations.  He’s passing along the money to charity and a Louisiana woman who lost her home in Hurricane Katrina.  He said the woman’s son helped save his life in Iraq.

At a US Senate hearing Tuesday, Sen. Robert Byrd, D-W.Va., asked why Rebrook was forced to pay for body armor damaged when he was wounded in Iraq.

Rumsfeld and Gen. Peter Schoomaker, the Army’s chief of staff, attended the hearing.

“That is a very unusual story,” Schoomaker responded. “I have no idea why we would ever do something like that. We have issued body armor, the very best that exists in the world.  Every soldier has it.

“We certainly have procedures that account for battle loss, and I just find it a highly unusual story. But we’ll certainly follow up and correct it if there’s any truth to it.”

[Rebrook] is getting a refund after being forced to pay for his missing body armor vest, which medics destroyed because it was soaked with his blood, officials said Wednesday.

Told of the refund, Rebrook said: “How kind of them.”

The bulk of money for Rebrook was raised Tuesday after the soldier’s story was posted on americablog.com, a popular liberal political blog.

Donations ranged from $1 to $400, said John Aravosis, who runs the Internet blog. More than 187 people gave money. About 200 people posted to the blog.

“Everybody thinks liberals hate soldiers,” Aravosis said. “But the majority of people get that it’s not right to abuse our troops.”

800 From Connecticut Off To Bush’s Imperial Slaughterhouses

February 9, 2006 Norwich Bulletin

HARTFORD: Two Connecticut National Guard units, including a military police unit from Norwich, will be deployed to Iraq this spring, Maj. Gen. Thaddeus J. Martin announced Wednesday.

Martin said approximately 300 soldiers from the 1048th Transportation Company of Stamford and the 134th Military Police Company of Norwich will be deployed as part of Operation Iraqi Freedom.

Currently, 40 soldiers from G Company, 126th Aviation of Windsor Locks and six soldiers from Detachment 6, U.S. Army Operational Support Airlift Command, also of Windsor Locks are stationed in Iraq.

In addition, 500 soldiers from the 102nd Infantry Battalion of New Haven are training at Fort Bragg, N.C., before shipping out to Afghanistan

THIS IS HOW BLAIR BRINGS THE TROOPS HOME:
BRING THEM ALL HOME NOW


The body of British Corporal Gordon Alexander Pritchard of the Royal Scots Dragoon Guards arrives at RAF (Royal Air Force) Brize Norton in Oxfordshire, central England February 8, 2006.  Pritchard was the 100th British soldier to be killed in the Iraq war. REUTERS/Shane Wilkinson/MoD/Handout

Soldiers Can’t Sue Incompetent Doctors Who Maim Them

2.7.05 Honolulu Advertiser

An Army staff sergeant who suffered digestion and breathing problems after a military surgeon mistakenly severed two nerves during an operation at Tripler Army Medical Center cannot sue the physician for malpractice.

Under the Federal Tort Claims Act and a Supreme Court ruling from 1950, active-duty military personnel are barred from suing the U.S. government for injuries “incident to service,” even if gross negligence was the cause.

Military Families Fight The Hospital From Hell:
Hawaiis’ Tripler Army Medical Center “Beset By Malpractice Claims”

“There’s a difference between warehousing a patient and treating a patient,” Archuleta said. “Tina was warehoused.”

February 08, 2006 By Rob Perez, The Honolulu Advertiser [Excerpts]

Tina Long, 26 and pregnant, was admitted to Tripler Army Medical Center in April, complaining of headaches, vision problems and swelling. Her blood pressure was elevated and she had protein in her urine. All were symptoms of a potentially serious disorder called preeclampsia.

The hospital ran tests on Long, who was 8∏ months along, then placed her in a room without monitoring her closely, her family says.

About 90 minutes after someone from the nursing station last spoke to Long via a speaker system, she was discovered unresponsive in her bed. Resuscitation efforts failed, and Long and her unborn baby, Hunter, were pronounced dead, according to the autopsy report.

Two months later, a newborn boy, Romi’re Dupuy, experienced respiratory problems at Tripler, prompting medical personnel to place a breathing tube down his throat. But instead of maneuvering the tube through the trachea, a doctor mistakenly guided it into the esophagus, which leads to the stomach, puncturing that passageway and causing serious injury, the family said. Romi’re spent more than two months in the hospital recovering.

Both cases happened several months after a Tripler physician in January 2005 mistakenly gave a newborn baby, Izzy Peterson, carbon dioxide instead of oxygen almost immediately after his birth. The baby inhaled the wrong gas for more than 40 minutes before the error was discovered. He nearly suffocated and suffered permanent brain damage.

In all three cases, the families are pursuing medical malpractice claims or lawsuits, seeking compensation for what they allege was substandard care at Tripler.

The cases have generated questions about the overall quality of care provided at the landmark pink O’ahu hospital that serves as the major treatment facility for thousands of Hawai’i’s military, their families, veterans and others. It is ranked among the busiest hospitals in the military, with a coverage area that spans half the globe.

Four physicians contacted by The Advertiser who have expertise in treating children or in surgical procedures said the three cases were unusual. But while the doctors were reluctant to make judgments about the two more recent incidents, not knowing the complete details, they said the Baby Izzy case was particularly troublesome.

“It seems the system is broken that would allow such a severe mistake to happen,” said Dr. Timothy Craig, a Penn State professor of medicine and pediatrics who has practiced at military hospitals and generally gives them good marks. “This raises red flags.”

Hawai’i hospitals as a group do not fare well in those national comparisons. In one recent survey, for example, local hospitals scored below the national averages in all 11 categories rated for treatment of heart-attack and heart-failure patients.

Tripler officials did not provide requested information for some important healthcare quality measures, including patient satisfaction surveys, lists of certifications and accreditations, and internal and external evaluations that the officials said verify Tripler is a first-class institution with an outstanding treatment history.

Prompted by the Baby Izzy case and others with troubling outcomes, The Advertiser examined available quality-of-care and medical malpractice data at the 229-bed military hospital.

Among the findings:

The federal government has spent tens of millions of dollars over the past two decades to resolve about 170 cases among more than 600 filed in which patients or their families accused Tripler of shoddy care.

The tab to taxpayers has totaled more than $60 million in court judgments, out-of-court settlements and resolution of medical malpractice claims. The government, for instance, has paid more than $14 million to resolve about 150 claims since 1985. In one 1998 claim, a family received $130,000 for an incident in which a Tripler patient allegedly needed corrective surgery to remove a sponge left behind during an earlier operation.

Court judgments and out-of-court settlements have added about another $47 million to the tab. But that isn’t a complete accounting, given that out-of-court settlements sometimes are not disclosed publicly.

Tripler and other federal entities have been unwilling or unable to quantify how much malpractice cases at Tripler have cost over the past decade, leaving taxpayers in the dark about a tab they ultimately covered.

Since 1985, the government has lost 14 of 23 nonjury trials in which malpractice was a key issue.  The government has lost five of its past six cases since 1995, including one it lost on appeal, according to Personal Injury Judgments Hawaii, a publication that tracks tort verdicts in state and federal courts here. In the 14 losses, a federal judge determined that substandard care contributed to a patient’s death or injury, and in all but one instance awarded damages of at least six figures to the plaintiffs. The largest judgment, $11.3 million in 1997, was awarded to a family whose baby suffered brain damage because of negligent care.

While some of the more costly cases occurred in the 1980s and early ‘90s, allegations of poor care continue to dog Tripler. Patients or their families filed 331 medical malpractice claims from January 1995 through July 2005, according to Army data obtained by The Advertiser through the Freedom of Information Act. In the previous 10 years, 312 claims were filed.

In November, Tripler officials told The Advertiser they would no longer respond to requests for information, directing further inquiries to the hospital’s Mainland headquarters. Since then, that Texas office has not provided most of the information sought by the newspaper.

Some patients are reluctant to pursue claims, while active-duty members are prohibited from doing so. 

Military personnel, about a third of Tripler’s patient pool, are barred by law from filing malpractice claims against the U.S. government for injuries linked to their military service, even if an injury stems from gross negligence by a government worker.

For those patients or families who formally seek compensation, the first step is to file a malpractice claim with the government. If that isn’t resolved within six months, a lawsuit can be filed in federal court. A judge, not a jury, renders a verdict.

Among the Army’s seven medical centers in the U.S., Tripler’s 331 claims and 61 paid claims over the past decade were second only to the totals at William Beaumont Army Medical Center at Fort Bliss, Texas, that has 94 licensed beds. The Army didn’t respond to requests asking about Beaumont’s numbers.

Tripler officials said the hospital’s malpractice claim statistics can’t be compared with Army medical centers elsewhere because of differences in state laws, malpractice tort reform, the aggressiveness of malpractice attorneys and other local factors unrelated to quality of care.

Three local malpractice attorneys dispute that, saying a legitimate claim will be valid anywhere, regardless of the idiosyncrasies of a particular area.

Even lawyers who have filed malpractice lawsuits involving Tripler say the hospital provides better care today than years ago.

Yet developments over the past year have once again raised questions about quality of care.

In the Baby Izzy case, a portable carbon dioxide tank was used instead of an oxygen tank, resulting in a “sentinel event,” according to a federal patient safety alert on the mishap. Sentinel events typically refer to medical incidents that unexpectedly result in death or serious injury.

After the gas mix-up, the hospital apologized to the family and said immediate corrective action was taken.

“Providing carbon dioxide instead of oxygen is inexcusable,” said Dr. Peter Lurie, deputy director of health research for Public Citizen, an advocacy group that focuses on healthcare and other consumer issues.

Izzy’s brain damage was so severe, he is dependent on medical devices for his survival. He will need 24-hour nursing care the rest of his life.

Shalay Peterson, Izzy’s mother, said Izzy will never be able to lead a normal life or do the typical things that kids do together with their families.

“We’ve been robbed of all that,” she said.

Izzy’s parents have sued the government for malpractice, and plaintiff attorneys say a judgment, if the case goes to trial and the family wins, could be one of the highest in Tripler history. The current record is the $11.3 million award in 1997 to the family of the brain-damaged baby. With interest, the government paid about $12.5 million.

The government denied in court documents that Tripler was negligent with Izzy’s care.  The case is pending.

Tina Long was admitted last April with these symptoms: high protein levels in her urine, severe headaches, swelling, blurred vision and elevated blood pressure of 159/100 when it had been an average of 120/77 in prior months, according to Michael Archuleta, the family’s attorney in Texas. All those general symptoms were noted in the autopsy report.

For pregnant women, high blood pressure and protein in the urine are the key symptoms of preeclampsia, according to Eleni Tsigas of the Preeclampsia Foundation. Preeclampsia is a rapidly progressing hypertensive condition that affects pregnant women and can be harmful to the unborn baby and mother. Severe headaches, swelling of the hands and face, and blurred vision are among other indicators.

Women who have high blood pressure during pregnancy typically are closely monitored because that condition may progress to preeclampsia, Tsigas said.

When Long was hospitalized in April, the diagnosis, made about 12 hours before she died, was to “rule out preeclampsia,” according to the autopsy report. A “rule-out” diagnosis usually means the disorder is suspected but not enough evidence is available at the time to make a definitive call, doctors say.

Archuleta said Long’s case was a textbook one for preeclampsia. Yet Tripler not only failed to monitor the patient adequately but didn’t do the one thing that would have taken care of the problem, deliver the baby, according to Archuleta, who also is a doctor and says he has delivered about 100 babies.

The cause of Long’s death was listed as probable peripartum cardiomyopathy (a weakened, damaged heart during pregnancy), with toxemia of pregnancy, another name for preeclampsia. noted as a contributing cause, according to her autopsy.

“There’s a difference between warehousing a patient and treating a patient,” Archuleta said. “Tina was warehoused.”

Long’s family filed several malpractice claims against Tripler, seeking $40 million in compensation. The claims are pending.

The family of Romi’re Dupuy, the baby whose esophagus allegedly was punctured, also filed several claims, seeking $15 million. 

Another pending case that surfaced last year involved a Marine now stationed on the Mainland who in May sued the federal government on behalf of his late wife’s estate, alleging that Tripler’s negligent care led to her death and their newborn son’s brain injury. Vincent Adams said in the lawsuit that an improperly administered epidural, a type of anesthesia procedure used for childbirth, led to complications in December 2002 during delivery and afterward that injured their son and caused the death of Jennifer Adams four months later in Florida.

Vincent Adams said in a March 2003 videotaped interview that a Tripler doctor told him a high epidural caused his wife to stop breathing.

William Copulos, Adams’ attorney, said a high epidural or high spinal epidural refers to one that is administered in such a way that the anesthetic travels upward in the body. In Jennifer Adams’ case, the epidural needle was inserted in her cerebral spinal fluid space instead of the epidural space, allowing the anesthetic to travel up the spinal column, anesthetizing her heart and diaphragm, Copulos said.

A Florida medical examiner determined in May 2003 that Jennifer Adams’ death was due to complications from a high spinal epidural, according to the examiner’s report. The Adams lawsuit is pending. 

The government denied in court documents that the care was negligent.

The issue of quality of care also came up in an August court ruling by U.S. District Judge Susan Oki Mollway. A woman patient who was sexually molested by a male licensed practical nurse at Tripler in 2001 subsequently sued the government, accusing Tripler of negligence.

Mollway awarded the woman and her husband $906,000, finding that Tripler’s inattention to the patient and inadequate supervision of the male nurse who treated her were substantial factors in the sexual assault. The nurse pleaded guilty to sexual abuse and was sentenced in 2002 to 6 1/2 years in prison.

A first-year intern and a supervisory nurse who oversaw the care of the woman at the intensive-care unit paid little attention to the patient that night, even though the woman kept losing and regaining consciousness and a diagnosis was unclear, according to Mollway’s ruling.

The government is appealing the ruling. The U.S. attorney’s office, which is handling the appeal, declined comment.

Plaintiff attorney Mark Davis, who noted that his law firm over the years has won all 15 or so of its Tripler malpractice cases that went to trial, said common issues tended to surface: understaffing, poor continuity of care, lapses in record-keeping, inadequate supervision of personnel.

In the sexual assault case, Judge Mollway noted that the supervisory nurse had asked for more help that night, expressing concern that the intensive-care unit where the eventual assault occurred was understaffed. The nurse received no response to her request, according to the ruling.

In the Tina Long case, the patient never saw the same doctor regularly, contributing to her inconsistent or poor care, the family said. During her hospitalization in April, a physician asked Long’s mother to retrieve medication for her daughter from a downstairs pharmacy because no hospital staffer was available to get it, the family said.

In the Baby Izzy case, Shalay Peterson said that when she asked for Izzy’s records in preparation for a move to the Mainland, she was given a file that included documents from a different case, one of a boy who died at Tripler.

In the Adams case, the epidural was administered by a nurse anesthetist, but once the patient started having problems, the anesthesiologist should have been summoned to intervene, according to Copulos, the family’s attorney. That didn’t happen, he said.

Bush Proposes To Force Vets Out Of The V.A. Medical System:
“Doubling Their Co-Payments Is Enough To Break Them”

[Check the words below from Bush regime scum, like this one: “There is a limit to taxpayer funding.” So, there is enough money to keep Bush’s hopeless Imperial war in Iraq going. There is enough money to feed the war profiteers hundreds of billions for weapons for the Empire. There is enough money to hand out more billions to Bush buddies like Halliburton. There is enough money to give huge tax cuts to millionaires and billionaires and the biggest corporations in America.

[But there is “a limit to taxpayer funding” for veterans.

[The conclusion is not rocket science.

[Iraqis and U.S. Troops have a common enemy, and it’s not each other. There is no enemy in Iraq. The enemy is in Washington DC, running the government, and stealing everything that isn’t nailed down, at home and abroad, Iraq being a perfect example of these mob bosses at work. They are the “enemy domestic” that every member of the armed forces is sworn to protect us again. Make it so. T]

“I know many, many veterans in Groups 7 and 8 who have five, seven, 10 or more prescriptions,” Bock said. “Doubling their co-payments, while they are trying to get by on fixed incomes or small pensions, is enough to break them.

2/8/2006 By Andrea Stone, USA TODAY & Ramona E. Joyce & Joe March, American Legion, U.S. Newswire

Bush has proposed increasing spending on medical care for veterans 8.1% to $33.2 billion and wants $2.8 billion to come from some of the 7.7 million veterans who receive care.

Bush proposes that the VA budget be covered in part by an enrollment fee and hiking drug co-payments for veterans who make above a certain amount of income. Those with incomes generally above $27,000 would pay $250 a year to enroll in the VA system and $15 for each prescription. Currently there is no enrollment fee and prescriptions cost $8.

Senate Veterans’ Affairs Committee Chairman Larry Craig, R-Idaho, said, “There is a limit to taxpayer funding.”

“We can only take care of people to the extent that we have the money,” VA spokesman Phil Budahn says.

American Legion National Commander Thomas L. Bock, reiterated that he cannot accept a budget that deliberately aims to send more than one million veterans out of the VA system in search of health care elsewhere.

A chart in the president’s budget request anticipates approximately 1.2 million fewer veterans in Priority Groups 7 and 8 in 2007. Those groups are forced in this budget request to pay new $250 enrollment fees and nearly double in pharmaceutical co-payments.

“I know many, many veterans in Groups 7 and 8 who have five, seven, 10 or more prescriptions,” Bock said. “Doubling their co-payments, while they are trying to get by on fixed incomes or small pensions, is enough to break them.

“I cannot abide by a policy that pits veterans against veterans where the government decides who shall have care and who shall be denied.”

ACLU Wants Apology To V.A. Nurse Working With OIF Vets:
She Was Investigated By V.A. For ‘Sedition’:
She Wrote A Letter Criticizing Bush

Albuquerque Journal, Wednesday, February 01, 2006

The American Civil Liberties Union of New Mexico wants the government to apologize to a nurse for seizing her computer and investigating her for “sedition’’ after she criticized the Bush administration.

The ACLU said Wednesday the Department of Veterans Affairs found no evidence Laura Berg used her VA office computer to write the critical letter.

VA human resources chief Mel Hooker said in a Nov. 9 letter that his agency was obligated to investigate “any act which potentially represents sedition,’’ the ACLU said.

It seeks an apology from Hooker “to remedy the unconstitutional chilling effect on the speech of VA employees that has resulted from these intimidating tactics.’’

Even if Berg had used an office computer, neither that nor her criticism approached “unlawful insurrection,’’ said Peter Simonson, executive director of the ACLU.

“Is the government so jealous of its power, so fearful of dissent, that it needs to threaten people who openly oppose its policies with charges of sedition?’’ he said.

Berg, a clinical nurse specialist, wrote a letter in September to a weekly Albuquerque newspaper criticizing how the administration handled Hurricane Katrina and the Iraq War. She urged people to “act forcefully’’ to remove an administration she said played games of “vicious deceit.’’

She signed the letter as a private citizen, and the VA had no reason to suspect she used government resources to write it, the ACLU said.

“From all appearances, the seizure of her work computer was an act of retaliation and a hardball attempt to scare Laura into silence,’’ the ACLU said.

*********************************

This Is Her Letter:

Wake Up, Get Real
Dear Alibi,

I am furious with the tragically misplaced priorities and criminal negligence of this government. The Katrina tragedy in the U.S. shows that the emperor has no clothes! Bush and his team partied and delayed while millions of people were displaced, hundreds of thousands were abandoned to a living hell. Thousands more died of drowning, dehydration, hunger and exposure; most bodies remain unburied and rotting in attics and floodwater. Is this America the beautiful?

The risk of hurricane disaster was clearly predicted, yet funds for repair work for the Gulf States barrier islands and levee system were unconscionably diverted to the Iraq War. Money and manpower and ethics have been diverted to fight a war based on absolute lies!

As a VA nurse working with returning OIF vets, I know the public has no sense of the additional devastating human and financial costs of post-traumatic stress disorder; now we will have hundreds of thousands of our civilian citizens with PTSD as well as far too many young soldiers, maimed physically or psychologically—or both—spreading their pain, anger and isolation through family and communities for generations. And most of this natural disaster and war tragedy has been preventable … how very, very sad!

In the meantime, our war-fueled federal deficit mushrooms, and whither this debt now, as we care for the displaced and destroyed?

Bush, Cheney, Chertoff, Brown and Rice should be tried for criminal negligence. This country needs to get out of Iraq now and return to our original vision and priorities of caring for land and people and resources rather than killing for oil.

Katrina itself was the size of New Mexico. Denials of global warming are ludicrous and patently irrational at this point.

We can anticipate more wild, destructive weather to occur as a response stress of the planet.

We need to wake up and get real here, and act forcefully to remove a government administration playing games of smoke and mirrors and vicious deceit. Otherwise, many more of us will be facing living hell in these times.

Laura Berg
Albuquerque

Do you have a friend or relative in the service? Forward this E-MAIL along, or send us the address if you wish and we’ll send it regularly. Whether in Iraq or stuck on a base in the USA, this is extra important for your service friend, too often cut off from access to encouraging news of growing resistance to the war, at home and inside the armed services. Send requests to address up top.

Sex Freak Brig. General Demoted And Kicked Out Of Air Force

2.9.06 Washington Post

An Air Force general who oversaw the career development of senior service leaders will be demoted to colonel and will retire in March after commanders determined he sexually harassed female subordinates, engaged in unprofessional relationships and created a hostile work environment, the Air Force announced.

According to a military investigation, Brig. Gen. Richard S. Hassan, former director of the Air Force Senior Leader Management Office, made advances toward women in his office, suggested they wear more revealing clothing and change their appearances, and sent sexually explicit e-mail and graphic photographs to them via his government computer.

IRAQ RESISTANCE ROUNDUP


An oil refinery is seen in front of billowing black smoke from an oil pipeline fire, Thursday, Feb. 2, 2006, in the northern Iraqi city of Kirkuk, Iraq. (AP Photo/Yahya Ahmed)

IF YOU DON’T LIKE THE RESISTANCE
END THE OCCUPATION

OCCUPATION REPORT

U.S. OCCUPATION RECRUITING DRIVE IN HIGH GEAR;
RECRUITING FOR THE ARMED RESISTANCE THAT IS


Foreign occupation troops from the 22nd Marine Expeditionary Unit (MEU) and their interpreter stop and search an Iraqi citizen near the town of Hit, February 3, 2006. REUTERS/Bob Strong

[Fair is fair. Let’s bring 150,000 Iraqis over here to the USA. They can kill people at checkpoints, bust into their houses with force and violence, overthrow the government, put a new one in office they like better and call it “sovereign,” and “detain” anybody who doesn’t like it in some prison without any charges being filed against them, or any trial.]

[Those Iraqis are sure a bunch of backward primitives. They actually resent this help, have the absurd notion that it’s bad their country is occupied by a foreign military dictatorship, and consider it their patriotic duty to fight and kill the soldiers sent to grab their country. What a bunch of silly people. How fortunate they are to live under a military dictatorship run by George Bush. Why, how could anybody not love that? You’d want that in your home town, right?]

Mercenaries Butcher More Iraqi Citizens

2.9.06 Washington Post

Private security workers under contract to the State Department shot and killed two Iraqi civilians Tuesday in Kirkuk, police, U.S. officials and relatives of the dead said.  The U.S. Embassy launched an investigation but did not identify the security company.

OCCUPATION ISN’T LIBERATION
BRING ALL THE TROOPS HOME NOW!

Iraqi Construction Funds Go To Pay For Repression

2.9.06 Washington Times

The State Department has spent nearly half the U.S. money allocated for Iraqi reconstruction on security, not on the projects themselves, according to testimony at a Senate hearing.  Terrorists are so lethal at knocking out power and water that huge sums of money must be diverted to protect the sites.

FORWARD OBSERVATIONS

“President Bush And His Secretary Of State Should Shut Up”

[Thanks to PB, who sent this in. He writes: SO LET’S GET THIS STRAIGHT. IT’S OK TO USE VIOLENCE TO GET CONTROL OF THE WORLD’S SECOND LARGEST OIL SUPPLY, BUT NOT OK WHEN YOUR RELIGION HAS BEEN PISSED ON BY THE SAME PEOPLE WHO ARE TRYING TO STEAL YOUR REGION’S OIL?]

Feb 9 By SAM F. GHATTAS, Associated Press Writer

The leader of Hezbollah, heading a march by hundreds of thousands of Shiite Muslims Thursday, said President Bush and his secretary of state should “shut up” after they accused Syria and Iran of fueling protests over cartoons of the Prophet Muhammad.

What do you think? Comments from service men and women, and veterans, are especially welcome. Send to thomasfbarton@earthlink.net. Name, I.D., withheld on request. Replies confidential.

OCCUPATION PALESTINE

“Canine Terror Is Rearing Its Head, Exposing Its Teeth”

By Gideon Levy, Ha’aretz 2/2/2006

About a month ago, we wrote in these pages about 12-year-old Mohammed Qassam, who was the victim of an IDF dog that grabbed his leg with its teeth and dragged him down two flights of stairs in his home in the Jenin refugee camp, in the middle of the night. 

This time it was Grandma Salha Al-Dik, 78, who was sleeping in her home when the soldiers sent out their dogs as part of a search for her wanted grandson, Rami. This week Al-Dik underwent the third operation on her arm, which refuses to heal.

In the nearby Balata refugee camp, Basel Abu Daoud, 11, another victim of the dogs, wanders about. He also lay in Rafidia, about two months ago, for 10 days, as a result of the IDF’s watchdogs. In his case, the dog bit deeply into his feet and hands.

Canine terror is rearing its head, exposing its teeth. Instead of the “neighbor policy” that was declared illegal by the High Court of Justice, there is a new policy, the “dog policy,” and a new world, of man-eating dogs.

A bad smell wafts from the emergency room of the Rafidia government hospital in Nablus, through which all those who are admitted must pass.

Sheets stained with blood and other bodily discharges await the next ill or injured person.

The appearance of this hospital, the largest one in Nablus, the second-largest city in the West Bank, is reminiscent of the most miserable of Third World facilities, with the exception of the new burn unit that was recently dedicated here, the only one in the West Bank.

[To check out what life is like under a murderous military occupation by a foreign power, go to: <www.rafahtoday.org>www.rafahtoday.org The foreign army is Israeli; the occupied nation is Palestine.]

DANGER: POLITICIANS AT WORK

The Political Lynching Of A School Teacher:
How Backstabbing Rats At The Indiana ACLU Left Her Defenseless

Comment: T

As this story reports, an old and dishonorable Indiana ACLU tradition of betrayal, cowardice and abandoning the weak and defenseless to the tender mercies of authoritarian scum is alive and well.

The Indiana ACLU has a long, sordid history of betrayal. 

During the late 1950s, a privileged group of underclassmen, hand picked by the administration, and known by the silly name of “The Board Of Aeons,” spied on a men’s toilet on the second floor of the Indiana University library through a hole cut in the ceiling that allowed viewing of toilet stalls. Their mission was to find “queers.” They took photos, and recorded names, including names of faculty.

When the Indiana University chapter of the ACLU at Bloomington found out, and went to the state chapter office in Indianapolis to ask for action against this outrage, they were told to shut up and stop meddling. 

Ralph Fuchs, Indiana University Law School Faculty, and sponsor of the Indiana U. ACLU chapter, and John Ward, attorney for the ACLU in Indianapolis, gave the orders.

The students were told to forget what they had found out, and never to mention what happened again, to anyone, ever. They were told it would hurt the reputation of the University and ruin the reputation of the faculty members who had been caught, and could also cause “problems” for themselves at I.U. The Board of Aeons were unofficially told to stop it, the hole in the ceiling covered up, and the gay faculty members were “allowed” to resign and, along with some graduate and undergraduate students, encouraged to get out of town.

I know. I was one of the students in the I.U. ACLU, not decent or honorable as I should have been. I shut up, and am still ashamed.  T

************************************************

Mayer contacted the ACLU about her case three years ago, but was told to hire an attorney if she could afford it. “At the time I could afford it, but now I’m out of money,” she said. And when Indiana author Kurt Vonnegut heard of her case, he contacted the Indiana chapter of the ACLU on her behalf, but they refused to intervene.

February 9, 2006 Carlos Miller, RAW STORY [Excerpts]

Just over three years ago, as the nation readied for war with Iraq, elementary school teacher Deb Mayer stood in front of her class and uttered the word that would get her blacklisted from her profession.

It was a word that got her deemed “unpatriotic” by an angry parent. A word that led to her termination from the Bloomington, Indiana school district. A word that got her labeled as a potential sex offender and ruined her chances of finding work elsewhere.
That word was “peace.”

Today, after spending more than $50,000 in legal fees in a lawsuit against the Monroe County Community School Corporation, Mayer awaits a decision from a Reagan-appointed federal judge as to whether or not she will be granted a jury trial.

“If Judge Barker doesn’t grant us a jury trial, it would really be criminal,” Mayer said from her son’s home in Wisconsin, where she was forced to live after finding herself unable to support herself. “It means I would have spent all this money for nothing.”

Mayer is one of at least three teachers in the country who have filed lawsuits against their employers since the beginning of the war, claiming their First Amendment rights were violated after they were fired for what they said was an opposition to the war.

So far, one case has been settled out of court in favor of the teacher. In 2004, former New Mexico high school teacher Bill Nevins received a $205,000 settlement from the Rio Rancho School District. A year earlier, one of his students recited a poem over the school’s intercom system that questioned the war in Iraq. Nevins, a 10th-grade Humanities teacher, was also the coach of the Rio Rancho High School poetry team. His contract was terminated within months of the incident.

In Mayer’s case, she says it was an article in Time Magazine for Kids that lead to her termination. 

In January 2003, she was teaching a Current Events class to fourth, fifth and sixth graders at Clear Creek Elementary School. They had been discussing the articles in the magazine, which dedicated an issue to the situation in Iraq. One student asked Mayer if she had ever participated in a peace march.

“I said that peace marches are going on all over the country and that whenever I pass the courthouse square where the demonstrators were, I honk for peace because they hold up signs that say honk for peace.”

That night, a sixth-grade student girl told her parents that Mayer was encouraging them to protest against the war, igniting a furor that Mayer said she’d never before experienced in her 20-year teaching career.

Three days later, the girl’s father showed up to the school for a meeting with Mayer and principal Victoria Rogers. Mayer explained that she had simply explained to the children that there are two sides to the story.

When the father asked if she had any children in the military, she told him her son had recently enlisted. But that only seemed to antagonize him even further.

“He kept getting angrier and angrier,” she said. “He stood up and started pointing his finger in my face. I felt very threatened.”

The father turned to Rogers with a request.

“I want her to promise never the mention the word peace in her class again,” Mayer remembered him saying.

Rogers assured him that could be done, and Mayer reluctantly agreed never to mention the word “peace” in her class again.

“I wanted to calm the parent down,” she said. “I didn’t want to be insubordinate.”

Later that afternoon in a faculty meeting, Rogers circulated a memo announcing the cancellation of “Peace Month,” a traditional month-long series of activities beginning on Martin Luther King Jr. Day that taught children how to settle differences through mediation.

“She said that we can talk about war, but not about peace,” Mayer said.  ”That for now on, nobody is allowed to have a stance on the war.”

Rogers, who declined to go into specifics about Mayer’s case, said that Peace Month was never cancelled but that it “died a natural death.”

“We felt we were working on it all year round,” said Rogers, who has since retired as principal of the school.  ”We were already working on life skills throughout the year so it became incorporated into what we were doing every day.”

But Peace Month was scheduled to begin less than two weeks before she sent out the original memo on Jan. 13, 2003 announcing the cancellation of the five-year tradition.

Over the next few months, as President Bush declared Mission Accomplished and the country became increasingly divided, the angry father rallied other parents against the teacher.

At least two parent complaints against Mayer were typed up on Title IX Sexual Discrimination and Harassment grievance documents and placed in her personnel file.

“There was no substance to it,” Mayer said. “This complaint was very mysterious. I never saw it until I was deposed (in September 2005).”

That likely explains why she had been unable to find work since losing her teaching job on the Gulf Coast of Florida in 2005, where she had been hired as a teacher in Boca Grande, an upscale community and long-time retreat for the Bush family.

Mayer, who is certified to be an administrator, applied to be a principal when a position came open within the Boca Grande school district.  

But when they checked on her references, the sexual harassment complaint came to light.

“I did not get the principal’s job. I got fired again,” she said.

Even though it was typed on an official sexual harassment document, the actual complaint against Mayer accused her of “harassing” children because she would put up her hand to silence a child if the child had interrupted a conversation between herself and another student.

“The parent had signed it, but nobody on the school administration has signed it,” she said.  ”When we tried to find out who did it, nobody admitted to it.”

She then found another complaint against her on the same sexual harassment form, this one accusing her of announcing to the class about a student’s medication.  Mayer denies the allegation.

When Mayer’s attorney looked into why the complaints were typed up on Title IX forms, they told him they had been writing all complaints against teachers on the federal forms for a decade.

Mayer contacted the ACLU about her case three years ago, but was told to hire an attorney if she could afford it.

“At the time I could afford it, but now I’m out of money,” she said. And when Indiana author Kurt Vonnegut heard of her case, he contacted the Indiana chapter of the ACLU on her behalf, but they refused to intervene.

If Judge Barker grants Mayer a trial by jury, it would begin on Mar. 6. “Usually they give you at least a month’s notice as a courtesy, but February 6th already passed and I haven’t heard anything,” she said. “So I’m still waiting to hear from her.”

Mayer said her case is such a clear cut example of a First Amendment violation that she can not comprehend why it has not already been settled. “At first, the contention of the school was that my speech wasn’t protected because the war in Iraq wasn’t a matter of public concern,” she said. “Then they changed their contention and said that my speech wasn’t protected because the classroom wasn’t a public forum.”

She believes small-town politics may play a role. The teacher’s union refused to help her; Mayer notes that the principal comes from an “old family” and that she was married to the former president of the union.

“If the judge rules against me, she will be saying that a teacher doesn’t have a right to free speech at school,” Mayer said. “If the classroom is not a public forum, then a teacher has no right to free speech.”

OCCUPATION ISN’T LIBERATION
BRING ALL THE TROOPS HOME NOW!

NEED SOME TRUTH? CHECK OUT TRAVELING SOLDIER

Telling the truth – about the occupation or the criminals running the government in Washington – is the first reason for Traveling Soldier. But we want to do more than tell the truth; we want to report on the resistance – whether it’s in the streets of Baghdad, New York, or inside the armed forces. Our goal is for Traveling Soldier to become the thread that ties working-class people inside the armed services together. We want this newsletter to be a weapon to help you organize resistance within the armed forces. If you like what you’ve read, we hope that you’ll join with us in building a network of active duty organizers.  www.traveling-soldier.org/  And join with Iraq War vets in the call to end the occupation and bring our troops home now! www.ivaw.net

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