Category: Fraud


Last I  checked the excuse for the shuffling that was  going on with  scheduling appointments.  Was not an  isolated incident as it was  being  done in more than one  VA Hospital.  Taking place due to  policies being implemented  to  monitor the productivity and efficiency of Hospital personnel and their respective departments. 

Protocols such as this are generally handed down from corporate hierarchy to regional and then local.   It is doubtful that regional or local management implemented these measures on their own and just happened to coincide with similar incidents in other  hospitals in the same way. 

If these protocols were being implemented and enforced  throughout all VA Hospitals , logic would dictate that  they originated higher up the food chain and that local as well as regional management had a stake in the ultimate outcome of these assessments.  After all ,  corporate politics would dictate that promotions and rewards would directly correlate with the outcome of said assessments as well as departmental records.

To establish unrealistic goals without providing adequate means to accomplish said goals effectively.  As well as establishing a competitive situation without adequate control measures to keep the  overzealous and unscrupulous from doing exactly what has been done.  Is an obvious failure on the part of corporate management, Eric Shineski, in this case.  To gloss over that fact is naive at best and criminal at worst.  But then Mr. Obama is no stranger to criminal negligence , gross ineptitude and just plain ignorance of the actions taking place around him.  So I suppose he can sympathize…..

 

~Desert Rose~

 

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VA Secretary Eric Shinseki. (Reuters/Jonathan Ernst).

VA Secretary Eric Shinseki. (Reuters/Jonathan Ernst).

 The Washington Post

 

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House votes 390-33 to speed up VA firings

The House on Wednesday overwhelmingly passed a bill to grant the Veterans Affairs secretary expanded authority to fire senior executives for poor performance.

The measure passed on a 390-33 vote amid allegations that veterans encountered delays in access to medical care at multiple VA hospitals across the country, leading to dozens of deaths. All 33 votes in opposition came from Democrats, including ledership Reps. Steny Hoyer (Md.) and James Clyburn (S.C.). House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) voted to approve the measure.

Under the bill, the VA secretary would be authorized to dismiss senior executives or demote them to the civil service. It would require the VA secretary to notify Congress of such a firing or demotion within 30 days.House Veterans Affairs Committee Chairman Jeff Miller (R-Fla.) said the measure would help rid the department of incompetent employees in light of the controversy.

“The committee has received nothing but disturbing silence from the White House and only excuse after another from the Department of Veterans Affairs,” Miller said.

Rep. Corrine Brown (D-Fla.) said the legislation would send a message that the VA would be held accountable.

“It is very important as we go into Memorial Day that we let the veterans know that we appreciate their service. And we also need to let them know that we’re going to do all we can to make sure they have the quality health care they deserve,” Brown said.

An administration official said the White House supports the overall goals of the legislation, but also had concerns that it could have unintended consequences.

 

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Obama vows fix to veterans’ health care troubles

 

WASHINGTON (AP) – With outrage mounting over veterans’ health care, President Barack Obama declared Wednesday that allegations of misconduct at VA hospitals will not be tolerated, and he left open the possibility that Secretary Eric Shinseki, a disabled war veteran, could be held to account.

“I will not stand for it – not as commander in chief but also not as an American,” Obama said following an Oval Office meeting with the embattled Shinseki.

Congress moved to keep up the pressure on the administration, with the House easily approving a measure Wednesday evening that would give the VA secretary more authority to fire or demote the 450 senior career employees who serve as hospital directors or executives in the agency’s 21 regions. The vote was 390 to 33.

Rep. Jeff Miller, R-Fla., chairman of the House Veterans Affairs Committee, sponsored the measure, saying VA officials who have presided over mismanagement or negligence are more likely to receive bonuses or glowing performance reviews than any sort of punishment. He declared that a “widespread and systemic lack of accountability is exacerbating” the department’s problems.

The White House said it supported the goal of seeking greater accountability at the VA but had unspecified concerns about the legislation.

The growing furor surrounding the Department of Veterans Affairs centers on allegations of treatment delays and preventable deaths at VA hospitals. The department’s inspector general’s office says 26 facilities are being investigated nationwide, including a Phoenix hospital facing allegations that 40 people died while waiting for treatment and staff kept a secret list of patients in order to hide delays in care.

The allegations have raised fresh concerns about the Obama administration’s management of a department that has been struggling to keep up with the influx of new veterans returning home from the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. Obama’s comments Wednesday – his first on the matter in more than three weeks – signaled a greater urgency by the White House to keep the matter from spiraling into a deeper political problem in a midterm election year.

 

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Possible drawbacks of the VA firing bill scheduled for Wednesday vote

The House is set to vote this week on a bill that would give the head of the Department of Veterans Affairs authority to fire or demote senior executives for perceived performance problems without going through the usual administrative procedures.

House Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R-Va.) added the measure to the weekly docket on Thursday, the same date VA Secretary Eric Shinseki testified about reports that VA health clinics throughout the country have cooked their books to hide treatment delays, some of which may have affected patients who died while waiting for care.

VA Secretary Eric Shinseki. (Reuters/Jonathan Ernst).

VA Secretary Eric Shinseki. (Reuters/Jonathan Ernst).

Ironically, the American Legion has called for Shinseki’s removal because of the alleged coverups, along with other problems such as a longstanding backlog of disability claims and preventable deaths at various VA hospitals. If the secretary departs, his critics would have to wait for a replacement to fire senior officials for the recent controversy.

Shinseki said during the hearing that he is “mad as hell” about the reported treatment delays, and he vowed to stick around until he improves VA services for veterans or President Obama asks him to resign.

MORE: Shinseki faces tough questions on VA scandal, vows to ‘accomplish a mission’

Although firing VA officials may quell the recent outrage over reported coverups, the Senior Executives Association has raised concerns about the House bill. Below is a summary of the measure’s drawbacks, as outlined in recent statements from the group:

* Due process: Senior executives can appeal firings and demotions to an administrative panel known as the Merit Systems Protection Board, which determines whether the personnel actions were warranted. However, the hearings are informal and the decisions are non-binding for agency executives, unlike with rank-and-file employees.

The SEA said the House bill would rob employees of the right to recourse when department chiefs wrongly punish their workers. They also noted that accountability processes already exist for senior executives.

Agencies must provide a 30-day written notice when they decide to remove senior executives. The officials can then argue against removal, choose to resign, or return back to work at a lower position. They may also be eligible for immediate retirement.

 

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Roll Call: Latest News on Capitol Hill, Congress, Politics and Elections

Obama Backs Shinseki Amid Calls to Resign (Updated)

VA Budget 03 042313 445x295 Obama Backs Shinseki Amid Calls to Resign (Updated)

Updated 6:22 p.m. | The White House is backing Veterans Affairs Secretary Eric Shinseki after he faced calls to resign Monday over allegations that veterans died waiting for care in Phoenix and other problems in his department.

“As the President said last week, we take the allegations around the Phoenix situation very seriously,” said Shin Inouye, a White House spokesman. “That’s why he immediately directed Secretary Shinseki to investigate, and Secretary Shinseki has also invited the independent Veterans Affairs Office of Inspector General to conduct a comprehensive review,” he said.

“We must ensure that our nation’s veterans get the benefits and services that they deserve and have earned. The President remains confident in Secretary Shinseki’s ability to lead the Department and to take appropriate action based on the IG’s findings.”

Earlier Monday, the American Legion called on Shinseki to resign, although the Veterans of Foreign Wars declined to do so. Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., said he wants the investigation to go forward first. 

 

 

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1987 photo of Mark 149 Mod 2 20mm depleted uranium ammunition for the Phalanx CIWS aboard USS Missouri (BB-63).

1987 photo of Mark 149 Mod 2 20mm depleted uranium ammunition for the Phalanx CIWS aboard USS Missouri (BB-63).

Gunner’s mates inspect linked belts of Mark 149 Mod 2 20mm ammunition before loading it into the magazine of a Mark 16 Phalanx close-in weapons system aboard the battleship USS MISSOURI (BB-63). (Uploader’s note, those are probably Firecontrolman, the maintainers of Phalanx, not Gunners mates.)

ID:DNST9400420

Service Depicted: Navy
Camera Operator: PHAN BRAD DILLON

Wkimedia.org

Depleted Environment, Depleted Lives

Uranium Weapons Still Making Money, Wreaking Havoc

by JOHN LAFORGE

The US Army has awarded General Dynamics a $12 million contract to deconstruct and dispose of 78,000 depleted uranium anti-tank shells. The Pentagon’s May 6 announcement calls for “demilitarization” of the aging shells, as newer depleted uranium rounds are added to the US arsenal.

In the perpetually profitable business of war production, General Dynamics originally produced and sold some of the 120-millimeter anti-tank rounds to the Army. One of the richest weapons builders on earth, General Dynamics has 95,000 employees and sells its wares in 40 countries on six continents.

The International Coalition to Ban Uranium Weapons in Manchester, England, reports the armor-piercing shells to be disassembled are thought to be the large 105-millimeter and 120-millimeter anti-tank rounds.

Depleted uranium, or DU, weapons are made of extremely dense uranium-238. More than 700,000 tons of DU has been left as waste in the US alone from the production of nuclear weapons and nuclear reactor fuel rods. The urankum-238 is left when fissionable uranium-235 is separated for H-bombs and reactor fuel. DU is only ‘depleted’ of this U-235. It is still a radioactive and toxic heavy metal. A tax and ecological liability, DU is given away free to weapons builders.

 

Read More Here

 

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NYU EDU

Sources

Depleted uranium is a byproduct of the enriching of natural uranium for use in nuclear reactors. When most of the fissile radioactive isotopes of uranium are removed from natural uranium, the residue is called depleted uranium. A less common source of the material is reprocessed spent reactor fuel. The origin can be distinguished by the content of uranium-236,[1] produced by neutron capture from uranium-235 in nuclear reactors.

As a toxic and radioactive waste product that requires long term storage as low level nuclear waste, depleted uranium is costly to keep but relatively inexpensive to obtain. Generally the only real costs are those associated with conversion of UF6 to metal. It is extremely dense, 67% denser than lead, only slightly less than tungsten and gold, and just 16% less dense than osmium or iridium, the densest naturally occurring substances known. Its low cost makes it attractive for a variety of uses. However, the material is prone to corrosion and small particles are pyrophoric. [2]

History

Depleted uranium was first stored in stockpiles in the 1940s when the U.S. and USSR began their nuclear weapons and nuclear power programs. While it is possible to design civilian power reactors with unenriched fuel, only about 10% of reactors ever built utilize that technology, and both nuclear weapons production and naval reactors require the concentrated isotope. Originally, DU was conserved in the hope that more efficient enrichment techniques would allow further extraction of the fissile isotope; however, those hopes have not materialized.

In the 1970s, The Pentagon reported that the Soviet military had developed armor plating for Warsaw Pact tanks that NATO ammunition couldn’t penetrate. The Pentagon began searching for material to make denser bullets. After testing various metals, ordnance researchers settled on depleted uranium. DU was useful in ammunition not only because of its unique physical properties and effectiveness, but also because it was cheap and readily available. Tungsten, the only other candidate, had to be sourced from China. With DU stockpiles estimated to be more than 500,000 tons, the financial burden of housing this amount of low-level radioactive waste was very apparent. It was therefore more economical to use depleted uranium rather than storing it. Thus, from the late 1970s, the U.S., the Soviet Union, Britain and France, began converting their stockpiles of depleted uranium into kinetic energy penetrators.

Photographic evidence of destroyed equipment suggests that DU was first used during the 1973 Arab-Israeli war. Various written reports cite information that was obtained as a consequence of that use.[1]

However, while clearing the decades-old Hawaii Stryker firing range, workers have found chemical weapons from World War I era and depleted uranium ammunition from the 1960s [3].

The U.S. military used DU shells in the 1991 Gulf War and the 2003 Iraq War (Associated Press, August 12, 2006, free archived copy at: http://www.commondreams.org/headlines06/0812-06.htm most recently visited November 1, 2006).

Production and availability

Natural uranium metal contains about 0.71% U-235, 99.28% U-238, and about 0.0054% U-234. In order to produce enriched uranium, the process of isotope separation removes a substantial portion of the U-235 for use in nuclear power, weapons, or other uses. The remainder, depleted uranium, contains only 0.2% to 0.4% U-235. Because natural uranium begins with such a low percentage of U-235, the enrichment process produces large quantities of depleted uranium. For example, producing 1 kg of 5% enriched uranium requires 11.8 kg of natural uranium, and leaves about 10.8 kg of depleted uranium with only 0.3% U-235 remaining.

The Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) defines depleted uranium as uranium with a percentage of the 235U isotope that is less than 0.711% by weight (See 10 CFR 40.4.) The military specifications designate that the DU used by DoD contain less than 0.3% 235U (AEPI, 1995). In actuality, DoD uses only DU that contains approximately 0.2% 235U (AEPI, 1995).

 


Depleted Uranium Stocks as of end of 1999
Holder Country Approximate DU Stocks [t U]
as UF6 as U3O8 as metal TOTAL
DOE external link, USEC external link USA a) 470,000 10,000 480,000
Russia b) 450,000 10,000 460,000
COGEMA external link, EURODIF France 50,000 140,000 190,000
BNFL external link United Kingdom 30,000 30,000
Urenco external link Germany, Netherlands, UK 16,000 16,000
JNC external link, JNFL external link Japan c) 10,000 10,000
CNNC external link China d) 2,000 2,000
KAERI external link Rep. of Korea 200 200
South Africa 4 69 73
TOTAL 1,028,204 160,069 1,188,273

t = metric tonne
a) As of mid-2000. See also: Compostion of the U.S. DOE Depleted Uranium Inventory (70k PDF).
For more recent and detailed data, download Inventory of depleted uranium tails, Oct. 2, 2007 external link (PDF – U.S. House Committee on Energy and Commerce)
b) Estimate based on: Depleted Uranium from Enrichment, Uranium Institute, London 1996
c) As of February 2001
d) As of end of 2000
Source: OECD NEA 2001

Source: WISE Uranium Project

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 P R O G R E S S I V E  R E V I E W

Depleted uranium
Recycling death
 

URANIUM MEDICAL RESEARCH CENTER

 

NEW YORK TOWN PROVIDES EVIDENCE OF TRUE DANGER OF DEPLETED URANIUM 

Parrish’s team has found that DU contamination, which remains radioactive for millions of years, is in effect impossible to eradicate, not only from the environment but also from the bodies of humans. Twenty-three years after production ceased they tested the urine of five former workers. All are still contaminated with DU. So were 20 per cent of people tested who had spent at least 10 years living near the factory when it was still working. . .

MORE DAMAGE FROM DEPLETED URANIUM FOUND

GUARDIAN, UK – Depleted uranium, which is used in armor-piercing ammunition, causes widespread damage to DNA which could lead to lung cancer, according to a study of the metal’s effects on human lung cells. The study adds to growing evidence that DU causes health problems on battlefields long after hostilities have ceased.0508 05 1DU is a byproduct of uranium refinement for nuclear power. It is much less radioactive than other uranium isotopes, and its high density – twice that of lead – makes it useful for armor and armor piercing shells. It has been used in conflicts including Bosnia, Kosovo and Iraq and there have been increasing concerns about the health effects of DU dust left on the battlefield. In November, the Ministry of Defense was forced to counteract claims that apparent increases in cancers and birth defects among Iraqis in southern Iraq were due to DU in weapons.

Now researchers at the University of Southern Maine have shown that DU damages DNA in human lung cells. The team, led by John Pierce Wise, exposed cultures of the cells to uranium compounds at different concentrations. The compounds caused breaks in the chromosomes within cells and stopped them from growing and dividing healthily. “These data suggest that exposure to particulate DU may pose a significant [DNA damage] risk and could possibly result in lung cancer,” the team wrote in the journal Chemical Research in Toxicology. . . Prof Wise said it is too early to say whether DU causes lung cancer in people exposed on the battlefield because the disease takes several decades to develop.
“Our data suggest that it should be monitored as the potential risk is there,” he said.

http://www.commondreams.org/archive/2007/05/08/1059/

DEPLETED URANIUM BACK IN THE NEWS

AUDREY PARENTE, DAYTONA BEACH HERALD, FL – Lori Brim cradled her son in her arms for three months before he died at Walter Reed Army Medical Center in Washington. Dustin Brim, a 22-year-old Army specialist had collapsed three years ago in Iraq from a very aggressive cancer that attacked his kidney, caused a mass to grow over his esophagus and collapsed a lung. The problems she saw during her time at Walter Reed, including her son screaming in pain while doctors argued over medications, had nothing to do with mold and shabby conditions documented in recent news reports. What this mother saw was an unexplainable illness consuming her son.

And what she has learned since her son’s death is that his was not an isolated case. Lori Brim has joined other parents, hundreds of other sick soldiers, legislators, research scientists and environmental activists who say the cause of their problems results from exposure to depleted uranium, a radioactive metal used in the manufacture of U.S. tank armor and weapon casings.

Health and environmental effects of depleted uranium are at the heart of scientific studies, a lawsuit in the New York courts and legislative bills in more than a dozen states (although not in Florida). . .

Despite a 1996 U.N. resolution opposing its use because of discovery of health problems after the first Gulf War, the military studies have concluded there was no evidence that exposure to the metal caused illnesses. . .

To the military, the effectiveness of weapons and armor made with depleted uranium outweighs any residual effects. Their bottom line: Depleted uranium saves soldiers’ lives in combat. . .

But Brim and others think there will not be enough known until soldiers are tested for exposure. They compare the debate over depleted uranium to the controversy surrounding Agent Orange, the toxic herbicide used to defoliate the jungles of Vietnam. Speculation over its effects continued for more than two decades before the Defense Department agreed to compensate veterans who suffered from ailments linked to its use. . .

http://www.news-journalonline.com/special/uranium/DUFOLO041507.htm

CANADIAN REPORT: U.S. USE OF DEPLETED URANIUM RAISED RADIOACTIVITY 300 TIMES

MNA – Canadian research centers have reported that during the war against Iraq the U.S. military used depleted uranium weapons which caused the radiation level to rise at least 300 times above normal, and the weapons caused similar effects in Afghanistan.

U.S. troops have recently begun removing contaminated topsoil in Iraq, taking it to an unknown location. Scientists believe the next generation of children of citizens of both countries exposed to DU will suffer from higher rates of birth defects and cancer.

The Uranium Medical Research Center issued a report based on a 13-day survey throughout the primary conflict zones in urban and rural areas of central and southern Iraq on October 2003, according to Risq News. . .

The most disturbing circumstance was observed in the U.S. occupied base in southwestern Baghdad in the Auweirj district. It is close to the international airport and hosts one of the largest coalition bases around Baghdad, occupying the operational headquarters of the Iraqi Special Republican Guard. . . Departing the coalition-occupied base was a long, a steady stream of tandem-axle dump trucks carrying full loads of sand, heading south away from the city. Returning from the south was a second stream of fully loaded dump trucks waiting to enter the base. As the team passed the base’s main entrance, the gates were opened to reveal bulldozers spreading soil while front-end loaders were filling the trucks that had just emptied their loads of soil (silt and sand). The arriving trucks were delivering loads of sand into the base while the departing trucks were hauling away the base’s topsoil.

DEPLETED URANIUM FOUND IN TROOPS

JUAN GONZALEZ, NY DAILY NEWS – Four soldiers from a New York Army National Guard company serving in Iraq are contaminated with radiation likely caused by dust from depleted uranium shells fired by U.S. troops, a Daily News investigation has found. They are among several members of the same company, the 442nd Military Police, who say they have been battling persistent physical ailments that began last summer in the Iraqi town of Samawah. . . A nuclear medicine expert who examined and tested nine soldiers from the company says that four “almost certainly” inhaled radioactive dust from exploded American shells manufactured with depleted uranium. Laboratory tests conducted at the request of The News revealed traces of two manmade forms of uranium in urine samples from four of the soldiers.

 

CARD GIVEN BRITISH TROOPS IN IRAQ 

 


NOTE: THE MINISTRY OF DEFENSE WEB PAGE HAS BEEN TAKEN DOWN 

 

BRITISH ISSUE DEPLETED URANIUM WARNING CARDS TO ITS TROOPS IN IRAQ 

WORLD HEALTH ORGANIZATION SUPPRESSED STUDY ON DEPLETED URANIUM

ROB EDWARDS, SUNDAY HERALD, UK – An expert report warning that the long-term health of Iraq’s civilian population would be endangered by British and US depleted uranium weapons has been kept secret. The study by three leading radiation scientists cautioned that children and adults could contract cancer after breathing in dust containing DU, which is radioactive and chemically toxic. But it was blocked from publication by the World Health Organisation, which employed the main author, Dr Keith Baverstock, as a senior radiation advisor. He alleges that it was deliberately suppressed, though this is denied by WHO.

Baverstock also believes that if the study had been published when it was completed in 2001, there would have been more pressure on the US and UK to limit their use of DU weapons in last year’s war, and to clean up afterwards. Hundreds of thousands of DU shells were fired by coalition tanks and planes during the conflict, and there has been no comprehensive decontamination. Experts from the United Nations Environment Program have so far not been allowed into Iraq to assess the pollution.

U.S. LEFT 75 TONS OF DEPLETED URANIUM TO POLLUTE IRAQ

U.S. FORCES UNLEASHED at least 75 tons of toxic depleted uranium on Iraq during the war, reports the Christian Science Monitor. An unnamed U.S. Central Command spokesman disclosed to the Monitor last week that coalition forces fired 300,000 bullets coated with armored-piercing depleted uranium during the war. “The normal combat mix for these 30-mm rounds is five DU bullets to 1 — a mix that would have left about 75 tons of DU in Iraq,” wrote correspondent Scott Peterson. Peterson measured four sites around Baghdad struck with depleted uranium munitions and found high levels of radioactive contamination, but few warnings to this effect issued among the populace at large. While the Pentagon maintains that spent weapons coated with the low-level, radioactive nuclear-waste are relatively harmless, Peterson notes that U.S. soldiers have taken it among themselves to print leaflets or post signs warning of DU contamination. “After we shoot something with DU, we’re not supposed to go around it, due to the fact that it could cause cancer,” said one sergeant requesting anonymity.

DEPLETED URANIUM

PAUL KRASSNER, NY METRO – The officer came around a row of missiles, and Ethan asked him the question he had for him about his TAD request, and then asked him, “What the hell kind of missiles are these?”

“Those aren’t missiles; they’re cobalt jackets.”

“What are they for?”

“Well, this is ‘need to know,’ so keep your mouth shut, but they are designed to slide on over most of our conventional ordinance. They’re made out of radioactive cobalt, and when the bomb they’re wrapped around detonates, they contaminate everything in the blast zone and quite a bit beyond.”

“So they turn regular ordinance into nukes?”

“No, not exactly. The cobalt doesn’t detonate itself. It just scatters everywhere.”

“Well, what? Does the radiation kill people?”

“Not immediately. Cobalt jackets will not likely ever be used. They’re for a situation where the U.S. government is crumbling during a time of war, and foreign takeover is imminent. We won’t capitulate. We basically have a scorched earth policy. If we are going to lose, we arm everything with cobalt ­ and I mean everything; we have jackets at nearly every missile magazine in the world, on land or at sea ­ and contaminate the world. If we can’t have it, nobody can. . .

I emailed the anecdote to no-nukes activist Harvey Wasserman, author of The Last Energy War and co-author of The Superpower of Peace. I asked him to comment in a couple of hundred words:

“This nightmare has now essentially come true with the use of depleted uranium on anti-tank and other shells in Yugoslavia, Afghanistan and Iraq. The military rationale is that the super-hard depleted uranium helps shells penetrate tanks and other hard structures. But the long-term effect is that the uranium vaporizes upon explosion and contaminates everything for hundreds of yards, if not miles.”

STUDY FINDS DEPLETED URANIUM USED IN AFGHANISTAN

IRAQI CITIES HOT WITH DEPLETED URANIUM

SARA FLOUNDERS, COASTAL POST, CA – In hot spots in downtown Baghdad, reporters have measured radiation levels that are 1,000 to 1,900 times higher than normal background radiation levels. It has also opened a debate in the Netherlands parliament and media as 1,100 Dutch troops in Kuwait prepare to enter Iraq as part of the U.S./British-led occupation forces. The Dutch are concerned about the danger of radioactive poisoning and radiation sickness in Iraq. Washington has assured the Dutch government that it used no DU weapons near Al-Samawah, the town where Dutch troops will be stationed. But Dutch journalists and anti-war forces have already found holes in the U.S. stories, according to an article on the Radio Free Europe website. . .

In this year’s war on Iraq, the Pentagon used its radioactive arsenal mainly in the urban centers, rather than in desert battlefields as in 1991. Many hundreds of thousands of Iraqi people and U.S. soldiers, along with British, Polish, Japanese and Dutch soldiers sent to join the occupation, will suffer the consequences. The real extent of injuries, chronic illness, long-term disabilities and genetic birth defects won’t be apparent for five to 10 years.

By now, half of all the 697,000 U.S. soldiers involved in the 1991 war have reported serious illnesses. According to the American Gulf War Veterans Association, more than 30 percent of these soldiers are chronically ill and are receiving disability benefits from the Veterans Administration. Such a high occurrence of various symptoms has led to the illnesses being named Gulf War Syndrome.

DEPLETED URANIUM: DON’T ASK, DON’T TELL

JAY SHAFT, COALITION FOR FREE THOUGHT IN MEDIA – In three separate interviews a U.S. Special Operations Command Colonel admitted that the U.S. and Great Britain fired 500 tons of DU munitions into Iraq. He has also informed me that the GBU-28 BLU 113 Penetrator Bunker Buster 5000 pound bomb contains DU in the warhead. Until now, as far as I know, the materials used to make the warhead of the GBU-28 have remained shrouded in mystery. He admitted that privately the Pentagon has acknowledged the health hazards of DU for years. . .

J.S.: What about the cities? Did you deliberately use DU on them?

U.S.C.: Let’s just say that we didn’t do anything to avoid using DU in cities or heavily populated areas. I know that I selected some DU bunker busters because of the fact that they have a high penetration factor. I used DU weapons exclusively on some targets so as to ensure maximum damage on those targets. You don’t want to just halfway destroy some targets, you want maximum damage. . .

J.S.: What about the health risks that are associated with DU? Or do you deny there are any?

U.S.C.: You are determined to get me to make a statement about the health risks aren’t you?

J.S.: If you will, I want to see what the behind the scenes view of DU is in the Pentagon.

U.S.C.: Well. . . (long pause, followed by heavy profanity). . . Okay, I’ll give you some dirt if that’s what you’re looking for. The Pentagon knows there are huge health risks associated with DU They know from years of monitoring our own test ranges and manufacturing facilities.

There were parts of Iraq designated as high contamination areas before we ever placed any troops on the ground. The areas around Basra, Jalibah, Talil, most of the southern desert, and various other hot spots were all identified as contaminated before the war. Some of the areas in the southern desert region along the Kuwaiti border are especially radioactive on scans and tests.
One of our test ranges in Saudi Arabia shows over 1000 times the normal background level for radiation. We have test ranges in the U.S. that are extremely contaminated; hell, they have been since the 80’s and nothing is ever said publicly. Don’t ask don’t tell is not only applied to gays, it is applied to this matter very heavily.

I know at one time the theory was developed that any soldier exposed to DU shells should have to wear full MOP gear (the chemical protective suit). But they realized that just wouldn’t be practical and it was never openly discussed again.

J.S.: So the stories that they know DU is harmful are true?

U.S.C.: Yes, there is no doubt that most high level commanders who were around during the 80’s know about it.

J.S.: So how do you feel about the fact that you exposed your own men to DU?

U.S.C.: F…k you!! What do you know about my job? I did what I had to do to take out the targets I was given. If it was necessary to use DU, than I put it in my target analysis reports. I didn’t actually fire the rounds myself; I work in a remote office.

J.S.: So you’ll never have to worry about being exposed to DU huh? Very brave.

U.S.C.: (lot’s of profanity) this interview is over with (more profanity, followed by the phone slamming down)

U.S. TO USE DEPLETED URANIUM AGAIN

BBC – A United States defense official has said moves to ban depleted uranium ammunition are just an attempt by America’s enemies to blunt its military might. Colonel James Naughton of US Army Materiel Command said Iraqi complaints about depleted uranium shells had no medical basis. “They want it to go away because we kicked the crap out of them,” he told a Pentagon briefing.

If war starts, tons of depleted uranium weapons are likely to be used by British and American tanks and by ground attack aircraft. Some believe people are still suffering ill health from ammunition used in the Gulf War 12 years ago, and other conflicts. In the House of Commons in London on Monday, Labor MP Joan Ruddock said a test of the UK Government’s pledge to keep civilian casualties to a minimum in an attack on Iraq would include not using depleted uranium weapons.

Apparently anticipating complaints, the US defense department briefed journalists about DU – making it plain it would continue to be used. . .

Cancer surgeons in the southern Iraqi port of Basra report a marked increase in cancers which they suspect were caused by DU contamination from tank battles on the farmland to the west of the city. . . Depleted uranium is mildly radioactive but the main health concern is that it is a heavy metal, potentially poisonous. The likelihood of absorbing it is increased significantly if a weapon has struck a target and exploded because the DU vaporizes into a fine dust and can be inhaled. . .

A 1995 report from the US Army Environmental Policy Institute, for example, said: “If DU enters the body, it has the potential to generate significant medical consequences.”

 

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Collapse in pay lies behind Britain’s return to work: Self-employed are hidden victims of recession, report warns

The study by the Resolution Foundation think tank reveals the dark side of the sharp growth in self-employment, which has helped the Government to maintain its boast that unemployment is falling as more and more people find work.

Since the start of the recession five years ago, the number of self-employed has risen by 650,000 to 4.5 million. They now represent 15 per cent of the active workforce.

But the new analysis reveals that the average weekly income of someone in self-employment is 20 per cent lower than in 2008.  As a result, a typical self-employed worker now earns 40 per cent than a typical employee.  An Ipsos-Mori survey commissioned as part of the report also found that 27 per cent of those who became self-employed in the past five year do so because they had no other choice – up from 10 per cent five years ago.

Gavin Kelly, chief executive of the Resolution Foundation, said: “Self-employment is often a highly precarious existence which isn’t that well supported by public policy. High levels of self-employment seem likely to be here to stay and policy-makers have some catching up to do.”

The grim truth about pay and living standards in some the regions of the UK has also been highlighted by official EU figures showing that parts of Britain are effectively poorer that countries from  former communist countries in Eastern Europe.

People in Cornwall and the Welsh Valleys are worse off than residents of Estonia and Lithuania, according to Eurostat figures comparing wealth across the EU using a measure known as “purchasing power standards” – which takes into account GDP per person and cost of living.

In addition, Durham and the Tees Valley, in the north east of England, are poorer than those in the wealthiest regions of Bulgaria and Romania, the two most deprived countries in the EU.

By contrast, the Eurostat figures show that London is the richest place in Europe.

According to the Resolution Foundation report, self-employed people are more likely than people in full time employment to complain of being under employed.

 

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Pension fears for rising number of self-employed

Higher levels of self employment have become a permanent feature of the UK economy as a result of Britain’s ageing workforce and a greater desire for Britons to “work for themselves”.

The Resolution Foundation said the increase in self-employment also presented a “worrying picture of the security and vulnerability of self employed people”, who have traditionally saved less for retirement than employees. Photo: PA

Higher levels of self employment have become a permanent feature of the UK economy as a result of Britain’s ageing workforce and a greater desire for Britons to “work for themselves”.

The number of people who are self employed has grown by 650,000 since the 2008 financial crisis, to 4.5m, meaning one in seven workers is now self employed.

While some of the shift towards self-employment has been caused by cyclical factors, the Resolution Foundation said 73pc of workers had chosen to become self-employed. “The high self-employment numbers are here to stay,” said Laura Gardiner, a senior policy analyst at Resolution Foundation.

The rise in self employment has attracted attention from the Bank of England, where policymakers have argued over whether the increase reflects structural changes in the UK economy or “disguised labour market slack” because many of these workers would prefer to be working full-time.

While the Foundation said there was less slack in the economy caused by self-employment than some policymakers believed, it said underemployment among these workers was “marginally worse than for employees”, representing a reversal of the pre-crisis trend.

 

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Ukraine crisis leaves stain on West: Analyst

A cyclist rides past a burned Ukrainian army vehicle in the eastern Ukrainian village of Oktyabrskoe, near Kramatorsk, on May 14, 2014.

A cyclist rides past a burned Ukrainian army vehicle in the eastern Ukrainian village of Oktyabrskoe, near Kramatorsk, on May 14, 2014.
Wed May 14, 2014 12:22PM

The prevailing crisis in Ukraine following a US-backed coup will remain a stain on the reputation of Western governments, an analyst writes in a column for the Press TV website.

“The killings in East Ukraine by sending in the Right Sector thugs to do the dirty work will be remembered as an example of Western moral bankruptcy,” Jim W. Dean wrote.

He stated that the US Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) and the coup government in Kiev organized a “stupid anti-terror operation” which led to dozens of deaths in the southern city of Odessa on May 2.

Dean described the status quo in Ukraine as “a disgraceful episode” for the Western governments, adding, “Some political careers deserve to be destroyed for their ill-planned and motivated failure. It was a criminal plan.”

The analyst said the Western governments “have made fools of themselves” in the eyes of people.

 

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Ukraine Crisis Leaves Stain on West: Analyst

873604_original

Ukraine crisis leaves stain on West: Analyst

… by  Jim W. Dean, VT Editor,   … with Press TV,  Tehran

 

This poor woman must be avenged

[Update:  Our VT crisis team analysis concluded that the photographic evidence showed  the inconsistent burn injuries to be indicative of obscuring how and what was used to kill many of these people.

The only options really on the table was lethal gas, and we surmized Vx...something that lung tissue analysis would confirm or not.

We now have partial confirmation that we were right from RT today. "Victims of the Odessa fire massacre died within seconds, but not from smoke or carbon monoxide suffocation, the head of Odessa's emergency service department, Vladimir Bodelan, said on his Facebook page."

Witnesses reported bodies and people being herded into the basement, and then this dissapeared from the news. Not a word about "missing" people was mentioned by the Odessa authorities. And of course it is easy to have confusion here with witnesses hiding out who would like to stay alive.

Despite all the witnesses to building escapees being beaten to death by the Right Sector mob, Kiev preferred to give tag them as "jumpers". Of course on a frame of video of a jumped has emerged. I wonder why?

Smoke inhalation deaths can be confirmed by visual autopsies simply from the visible soot residue in the lungs. The good news is that foreign experts are supposed to be involved, but after all of thise time the chain of command of the evidence will be in question.]

 

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Senator demands independent investigation as VA scandal spreads

By Jeremy Schwartz

The chair of the Texas Senate’s veteran affairs committee on Monday called for an independent investigation into allegations that wait time data was manipulated at Department of Veterans Affairs clinics in Central Texas and San Antonio.

Sen. Sen. Leticia Van de Putte, D-San Antonio, made her comments as the burgeoning scandal over VA patient care reached the Rio Grande Valley, where a former VA doctor accused the department of delaying colonoscopies for veterans with cancer and jeopardizing veterans’ visits to non-VA specialists because the agency took so long to reimburse private providers.

In Austin, Van de Putte demanded accountability from top VA leaders over claims that scheduling clerks were trained to falsely input appointment data to make it appear that waiting times were far shorter than they really are. The VA aims to see patients within 14 days of their desired appointment dates, and medical centers are graded on their ability to hit those targets.

“It appears the motivation for the deception…was a personal pay day in the form of a VA performance bonus,” Van de Putte said. “Someone is responsible. These scheduling clerks didn’t just decide to falsify reports all over the country at the same time…The allegations show a pattern that crosses multiple clinics and shows the actions were condoned at a pretty high level.”

The claims of whistleblower Brian Turner, a VA scheduling clerk who said he saw data manipulation in Waco, Austin and San Antonio, were first reported by the American-Statesman last week.

On Monday, new allegations emerged against the VA Health Care Center in Harlingen, and officials with the VA’s Texas Valley Coastal Bend Health Care System, which oversees the facility. Dr. Richard Krugman, former associate chief of staff at the center, told investigators that “patient care was impacted by the VA’s requirements to cut costs,” according to documents obtained by the American-Statesman.

 

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Cornyn Demands Answers From VA Secretary

May 13 2014

WASHINGTON – U.S. Senator John Cornyn (R-TX) today announced on Fox News he has sent a letter to Veterans Affairs Secretary Eric Shinseki after several reports surfaced of abuse and mismanagement in VA clinics in Texas and across the country.  The letter asks several questions of Sec. Shinseki, and calls on the Secretary to provide answers during his testimony before the Senate Veterans’ Affairs Committee on Thursday, May 15. A video of Sen. Cornyn’s Fox News interview regarding VA failures can be viewed here. Sen. Cornyn’s questions for Sec. Shinseki include:

“Can you confirm that supervisors at VA facilities in Texas have not and are not ordering employees to ‘game the system’ by concealing wait times?

“Can you confirm that veterans diagnosed with cancer of any kind that requires chemotherapy are provided that treatment in a timely manner by the VA? 

“Can you confirm that any bonuses or pay raises are on hold for senior leaders at VA facilities in San Antonio, Austin, Waco, Harlingen, and all VA facilities where similar allegations have been made?

“Can you confirm that staff at facilities currently under investigation for allegations of falsified reports will not be assigned to investigate other VA facilities? 

“Can you confirm that documents are being preserved at all Texas VA facilities?”

The full text of the letter is below and attached.

May 13, 2014

The Honorable Eric K. Shinseki
Secretary of Veterans Affairs
810 Vermont Avenue, NW
Washington, DC  20420

Dear Secretary Shinseki:

I write to reiterate my deep concern regarding the numerous, troubling reports that continue to surface regarding mistreatment of our nation’s veterans at Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) facilities across the country.  These reports indicate that incidents—including the withholding of life-saving care from some veterans—were the result of a culture of cover-ups, indifference as to the health and welfare of our veterans, and a complete lack of accountability that pervades your Department.  Yet, the Administration’s response to these troubling revelations has been lethargic and its inaction puzzling.

During your testimony before the Senate Veterans’ Affairs Committee on Thursday, I call on you to provide direct, clear answers to these questions:

1.         According to recent reports, you have ordered a “face-to-face audit” of all Department of Veterans Affairs clinics.  Can you describe in detail how you intend for this audit to be conducted, its timeline for completion, and what measures are being taken to ensure these audits are conducted in an independent and transparent manner?  If the allegations are substantiated, what type of action are you willing to take to right these wrongs, and how will the responsible officials be held accountable?

2.         A whistleblower in Texas claims that during his time as a scheduling clerk for VA facilities in Austin, San Antonio, and Waco, he was directed by supervisors to hide true wait times by inputting false records into the VA’s scheduling system.  VA officials in San Antonio deny this, while VA officials in Austin claim employees may have been discouraged from using the electronic scheduling tool that would reveal long wait times, but that those orders did not come from “executive leadership.”  Can you confirm that supervisors at VA facilities in Texas have not and are not ordering employees to “game the system” by concealing wait times?

3.         An Austin-based surgeon recently contacted my office to inform me he is not accepting any further subcontracts from the VA due to failures in patient care that he has personally witnessed.  Specifically, he saw a veteran in August of 2013 who was referred to him by the VA after they detected a lesion they suspected was cancerous.  Already two months had lapsed between the time they detected the lesion and the time he saw the veteran.  This surgeon performed a biopsy and diagnosed it as laryngeal cancer.  He informed the VA that the veteran needed immediate chemotherapy – that they had a real chance to treat his cancer if they started chemotherapy right away.  Almost two months later, he followed up on his case only to learn the VA never provided chemotherapy, with no good excuse as to why.  The veteran died several days later.  Can you confirm that veterans diagnosed with cancer of any kind that requires chemotherapy are provided that treatment in a timely manner by the VA?

4.         A whistleblower in South Texas who formerly served as associate chief of staff for the VA Texas Valley Coastal Bend Health Care System in Harlingen, TX, told the Washington Examiner this week that roughly 15,000 patients who should have had the potentially life-saving colonoscopy procedure either did not receive it or were forced to wait longer than they should have.  He also claims that approximately 1,800 records were purged to give the false appearance of eliminating a backlog.  Can you confirm that veterans requiring colonoscopies to detect cancer are provided with the procedure in a timely manner?

5.         In 2012, VA medical facilities in Central Texas reported that 96 percent of veterans were seen by providers within 14 days of their preferred appointment date.  In the South Texas region that includes San Antonio, the statistics were even more impressive: 97 percent of veterans were seen within two weeks, according to annual performance reports.  Can you produce documents that show the original dates of veterans’ requests for appointments for 2012?

6.         According to public records, the director of the Phoenix VA hospital, where news investigations have discovered at least 40 veterans died while waiting for care and languishing on secret lists, received more than $9,000 in bonus pay in 2013.  Can you confirm that any bonuses or pay raises are on hold for senior leaders at VA facilities in San Antonio, Austin, Waco, Harlingen, and all VA facilities where similar allegations have been made?

7.         My staff attended a Quarterly Congressional Staffer and Veterans Service Organization Representative Meeting at the Central Texas Veterans Health Care System (CTVHS) Friday, May 9, 2014.  Sallie Houser-Hanfelder, director of the Central Texas Veterans Health Care System, told meeting attendees that, as part of the face-to-face audits you have ordered, a quality systems manager from CTVHS would be sent to another VA facility to assist with investigations there.  Can you confirm that staff at facilities currently under investigation for allegations of falsified reports will not be assigned to investigate other VA facilities?

8.         A former VA employee at the VA Greater Los Angeles Medical Center told the Daily Caller that employees at the Center destroyed veterans’ medical files in a systematic attempt to eliminate backlogged veteran medical exam requests.  The former employee said, “The waiting list counts against the hospital’s efficiency.  He said the chief of the Center’s Radiology Department initiated an “ongoing discussion in the department” to cancel exam requests and destroy veterans’ medical files so that no record of the exam requests would exist, thus artificially reducing the backlog.  In addition, you have been subpoenaed by the House Veterans Affairs Committee over concerns by Chairman Jeff Miller that evidence in Phoenix may have been destroyed after the Committee issued a document-preservation order on April 9.  A top VA official testified on April 24 that a spreadsheet of patient appointment records, which may have been a “secret list” proving misconduct, was shredded or discarded.  Can you confirm that documents are being preserved at all Texas VA facilities?

I look forward to your prompt and detailed responses to these pressing questions.

Sincerely,

JOHN CORNYN
United States Senator

 

 

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Ukrainian military simulate gunfight near Kramatorsk — self-defense militia

May 15, 21:35 UTC+4
The man who witnessed the events said “they were shooting at nowhere, in the sky and into the open field as there aren’t any woods nearby”

© EPA/ROMAN PILIPEY

KRAMATORSK, May 15. /ITAR-TASS/. Ukrainian military “simulated armed clashes” against a self-defense group on the outskirts of the city of Kramatorsk in the Donetsk region, a representative of voluntary guard of the self-proclaimed Donetsk People’s Republic told ITAR-TASS on Thursday.

 

“A ten-vehicle-strong armored column under the cover of six helicopters entered the township of Solntsevo” and the entry was followed by brisk fire involving large-caliber automatic weapons,” he said. 

The man who witnessed the events said “they were shooting at nowhere, in the sky and into the open field as there aren’t any woods nearby.” Upon hearing the shooting, locals “took shelter in cellars.”

“There were no self-defense fighters in this area, to say nothing of bases,” he said.

 

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Ukrainian military storm Kramatorsk, 1 dead, 9 injured

 

Published time: May 02, 2014 20:05
Edited time: May 03, 2014 03:58

The Ukrainian army’s assault on Kramatorsk has finished, witnesses say, adding that the military did not enter the town. Preliminary reports say that one self-defense activist was killed and nine were injured.

It is unclear whether there are any casualties on the army’s side.

Meanwhile coup-appointed interior minister Arsen Avakov has said on his Facebook page that Kiev is not planning to stop the special military operation in Kramatorsk, adding that the military assault will continue at sunrise. He added that the military took control of a TV tower in Kramatorsk overnight.

“The military attacked the barricade on the road to Yasnogorka (town adjacent to Kramatorsk),” an eye-witness in Kramatorsk told RT when the assault started late on Friday. “The lights have been turned off on the nearby street. Shots are being heard across the city, signal rockets light up the sky from time to time. People are saying the Ukrainian army is shooting at everything that moves right now.”

Medics told RIA Novosti that 10 people sustained wounds, one of whom died in hospital. At least one of the injured is a woman. It was earlier reported that dozens had been killed or injured.

Meanwhile, the army has resumed its special operation in Slavyansk on Friday evening. The headquarters of the people’s self-defense is under snipers’ fire, according to Itar-Tass. There are reports of injuries among protesters.

 

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Three injured as Ukrainian military take control of Kramatorsk military airfield in Donetsk Oblast

The poster reads “Don’t shoot the citizens of Kramatorsk.”
© Anastasia Vlasova

KRAMATORSK, Ukraine — For 30-year old Oleksiy, April 15 wasn’t a good day. He was one of 300 or so Russian-backed militants from Kramatorsk who attempted to take over the Ukrainian military airfield in Donetsk Oblast’s Kramatorsk.

But Ukraine’s army repelled them, in one of the first — and Ukrainians hope not the last — battlefield victories since April 6, when Kremlin-supported and heavily armed insurgents started taking over key government buildings and installations throughout Ukraine’s most populous oblast.

But contrary to Russian media reports that 11 people were killed, the Ukrainian military operation left only three wounded — including Oleksiy, who refused to give his full name. He was lucky to get away with a grazed hip when Ukrainian officers shot him. Two others weren’t so lucky and were hospitalized with more serious gunshot wounds. They are expected to live, however.

“Our guys only had three machine guns with them, and they weren’t the first to shoot. The soldiers started shooting at us when we just tried to enter the base,” said Oleksiy, who sounded surprised that he couldn’t enter a Ukrainian military base with a machine gun. His side got off some gunshots, but all missed their targets.

However, the crowd was ready for more violent attacks: They prepared dozens of Molotov cocktails, but never used them — just left them there, near the airfield gates.

The military airfield near Kramatorsk, a city of some 250,000 people, has been out of use for years.

However, when pro-Russian separatist protests escalated in Donetsk Oblast over the weekend, the old airfield sparkled suspicion among the local protesters. They expected the Ukrainian army to put it to use to bring troops to suppress the uprising, so they kept watch over it since April 12 and tried to gain entry on April 15 — which turned out to be a poor decision.

 

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Response to Ukraine’s use of UN symbols near Ukraine’s Kramatorsk matter of UN secretariat

May 15, 14:09 UTC+4

“This (use of UN symbols) is inadmissible according to UN rules,” Russian deputy minister of foreign affairs said
A helicopter seen in the background of a UN flag (archive)

A helicopter seen in the background of a UN flag (archive)

© EPA/MAZEN MAHDI

 

 

ST. PETERSBURG, May 15. /ITAR-TASS/. A response to Ukraine’s use of UN symbols on helicopter gunships which Ukrainian military forces use in a punitive operation near the eastern Ukrainian city of Kramatorsk is a matter of the international organization’s secretariat, Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Gennady Gatilov told reporters on Thursday.

 

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The Heritage Foundation

Armed Services Chairman on Obama: ‘Our Foreign Policy Is a Mess’

Chairman of the House Armed Services Committee Congressman Buck McKeon. (Photo: Erin A. Kirk-Cuomo/Newscom)

President Obama’s wrongheaded view of the world has weakened America’s military and turned foreign policy into a “mess” — and Republicans bear some of the responsibility, the chairman of the House Armed Services Committee said yesterday.

“It is no accident that the expansion of Russia and China has come at the exact moment when we are dismantling our military and retreating from the world,” Rep. Buck McKeon (R- Calif.) said in a speech at The Heritage Foundation aimed at drawing attention to defense and national security issues.

“With Russia invading Ukraine, China provoking our Pacific allies, al-Qaeda regrouping, North Korea banging the drum, and ongoing turmoil in the Middle East, I think the president has lost sight of his purpose here,” McKeon said.

McKeon’s appearance at Heritage was part of “Protect America Month” events organized by the think tank.

Americans, McKeon argued, ought to be asking what the nation’s central foreign policy goal is, and what role the U.S. military has in advancing it.  He said:

“Put plainly, our foreign policy is a mess. We have no coherent strategy.  I’m not sure if we’re supposed to be pivoting to Asia, pivoting to the Middle East, or pivoting back to Europe.”

The California Republican, who announced four months ago that he will retire next January after 22 years in Congress, argued that most Americans want to live “in peace and security,” free to prosper and make their own decisions without worrying about what’s going on in “faraway lands.”

He cited Abraham Lincoln’s formula that government’s legitimate aim is “to do for a community of people whatever they need to have done, but cannot do for themselves.”

“An individual can go out and find health care coverage without the government,” McKeon said. “They can save for retirement without the government. They can start a business without the government. But they cannot resist foreign aggression without a strong standing military.”

 

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No Russians among Slavyansk self-defense forces – NYT reporters

Published time: May 04, 2014 20:47

Kramatorsk, in eastern Ukraine May 2, 2014. (Reuters / Marko Djurica)

Kramatorsk, in eastern Ukraine May 2, 2014. (Reuters / Marko Djurica)

Self-defense forces in the anti-Kiev stronghold of Slavyansk are Ukrainians, not Russians, who distrust the new regime and the Western powers that support it, New York Times reporters have discovered. The forces also said they are not being paid to fight.

Two New York Times reporters have spent a week in the city of Slavyansk in eastern Ukraine, talking to members of the self-defense forces. The journalists visited self-defense checkpoints and observed the forces as they battled Ukrainian troops amid a military assault on the city on Friday.

The resistance fighters of the 12th Company, part of the People’s Self-Defense of the self-proclaimed Donetsk People’s Republic, deny claims made by Kiev and its Western sponsors that Russia or private tycoons are paying them to fight.

“This is not a job,” one of the activists, Dmitry told the NYT reporters. “It is a service.”

Armed with dated weapons, the self-defense activists said they would have bought new weapons if they had financial support. The NYT journalists reported seeing weapons from the 1980s and 1990s in checkpoints and warehouses.

 

The eastern Ukrainian city of Slavyansk on April 14, 2014. (AFP Photo / Anatoly Stepanov)

The eastern Ukrainian city of Slavyansk on April 14, 2014. (AFP Photo / Anatoly Stepanov)

The activists explained that they purchased some of their weaponry from corrupt Ukrainian soldiers, while taking others from seized police buildings or confiscating them from captured Ukrainian armored vehicles.

“Much of their stock was identical to the weapons seen in the hands of Ukrainian soldiers and Interior Ministry Special Forces troops at government positions outside the city,” the NYT reporters said in an article published on Saturday.

“These included 9-millimeter Makarov pistols, Kalashnikov assault rifles, and a few Dragunov sniper rifles, RPK light machine guns and portable antitank rockets, including some with production stamps from the 1980s and early 1990s.”

The head of Slavyansk self-defense, Yury, also chuckled at claims made by Kiev authorities and the West that Russians are fighting side by side with them.

“We have no Muscovites here,” Yury told the journalists. “I have experience enough.”

 

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Reuters

People wait in line to meet a job recruiter at the UJA-Federation Connect to Care job fair in New York March 6, 2013. REUTERS/Shannon Stapleton

People wait in line to meet a job recruiter at the UJA-Federation Connect to Care job fair in New York March 6, 2013.

Credit: Reuters/Shannon Stapleton

 U.S. job growth jumps, but shrinking labor force a blemish

WASHINGTON Fri May 2, 2014 4:52pm EDT

(Reuters) – U.S. employers hired workers at the fastest clip in more than two years in April, pointing to a rebound in economic growth after a dreadful winter and keeping the Federal Reserve on track to end bond purchases this year.

The brightening outlook was, however, tempered somewhat by a sharp increase in the number of people dropping out of the labor force, which pushed the unemployment rate to a 5-1/2-year low of 6.3 percent. Wage growth also was stagnant.

Nonfarm payrolls surged 288,000 last month, the Labor Department said on Friday. That was largest gain since January 2012 and beat economists’ expectations for only a 210,000 rise.

“It lends significant legitimacy to the positive tone in the wide array of post-February economic reports, which have all been consistently pointing to a significant pick-up in economic growth momentum this quarter,” said Millan Mulraine, deputy chief economist at TD Securities in New York.

March and February’s data was revised to show 36,000 more jobs than previously reported.

U.S. stocks briefly rallied on the report, which was later eclipsed by rising tensions in Ukraine. Stocks ended lower, while safe-haven bids pushed the yield in the 30-year U.S. government bond to its lowest level in more than 10 months.

The dollar was flat against a basket of currencies.

About 806,000 people dropped out of the labor force in April, unwinding the previous months’ gains. That helped to push down the unemployment rate 0.4 percentage point to its lowest level since in September 2008.

The labor force participation rate, or the share of working-age Americans who are employed or unemployed but looking for a job, also fell four-tenths of a percentage point to 62.8 percent last month, slipping back to a 36-year low touched in December.

Overall, however, the data suggested the economy was gathering strength and led investors to pull forward their bets on when the Fed will start to raise interest rates.

The strong payrolls growth added to upbeat data such as consumer spending and industrial production in suggesting that sputtering growth in the first quarter was an aberration, weighed down by an unusually cold and disruptive winter.

 

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Factbox

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Reuters

Discouraged job seekers behind shrinking labor force

WASHINGTON Fri Apr 5, 2013 6:58pm EDT

People wait in line to meet a job recruiter at the UJA-Federation Connect to Care job fair in New York March 6, 2013. REUTERS/Shannon Stapleton

People wait in line to meet a job recruiter at the UJA-Federation Connect to Care job fair in New York March 6, 2013.

Credit: Reuters/Shannon Stapleton


(Reuters) – Americans giving up the hunt for jobs were likely behind a sharp drop in the U.S. workforce last month, a bad sign for an economy that is struggling to achieve a faster growth pace.

The number of working-age Americans counted as part of the labor force — either with a job or looking for one — tumbled by 496,000 in March, the biggest fall since December 2009, the Labor Department said on Friday. That pushed the so-called workforce participation rate to a 34-year low of 63.3 percent.

March marked the second month in a row that the participation rate declined — 626,000 people have dropped from the work force since January.

Friday’s report showed a decline in the number of discouraged job seekers last month after a pop in February, which at first glance might suggest the drop in the workforce was mainly because of shifting demographics.

But a closer look at the underlying numbers raises questions about the notion that retiring baby boomers were the driving force behind the shrinking workforce.

“You have to think that it’s a large part demographics, but demographics are not really going to have such a big effect on month-to-month changes,” said Keith Hall, senior research fellow at George Mason University’s Mercatus Center.

Of the nearly 500,000 people dropping out, just 118,000 were aged 55 and older, meaning more than three-quarters of the increase came from below-retirement-age adults.

Also, the number of people 65 and older counted as part of the workforce actually rose by 27,000, which followed a 72,000 increase in February.

Hall said the sluggish economy was forcing some older Americans to continue working to rebuild retirement nest-eggs that were shattered during the 2007-09 recession.

Indeed, the participation rate for Americans between 55 and 64 years old held steady at a relatively high 65 percent. On the other hand, participation by the 25-29 age group was the lowest since record-keeping started in 1982.

“People are just giving up the search for work. A lot of them would like to work and they aren’t, that is a serious sickness in the economy,” said Peter McHenry, assistant economics professor at the College of William & Mary in Williamsburg, Virginia.

The drop in participation helped to lower the unemployment rate by a tenth of a percentage point to 7.6 percent. If the workforce had not contracted, the jobless rate would have risen two-tenths of a percentage point to 7.9 percent in March.

 

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Yahoo Finance
In this April 10, 2014 photo, Jennifer Stickney, a recruiter for Right at Home, which provides in-home care and assistance, answers questions from nursing students at a job fair on the campus of Kaplan University in Lincoln, Neb. The Labor Department on Friday, May 2, 2014 said U.S. employers added a robust 288,000 jobs in April, the most in two years, the strongest evidence to date that the economy is picking up after a brutal winter slowed growth. (AP Photo/Nati Harnik)
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View photo

In this April 10, 2014 photo, Jennifer Stickney, a recruiter for Right at Home, which provides in-home care and assistance, answers questions from nursing students at a job fair on the campus of Kaplan University in Lincoln, Neb. The Labor Department on Friday, May 2, 2014 said U.S. employers added a robust 288,000 jobs in April, the most in two years, the strongest evidence to date that the economy is picking up after a brutal winter slowed growth. (AP Photo/Nati Harnik)

Any period of unemployment can have a crippling effect on a worker’s career and finances. But to be both young and unemployed in America presents its own set of unique challenges.

Workers under the age of 30 have contended with five solid years of double-digit unemployment — 19% for 16- to 19-year-olds and 10.6% for 20- to 24-year-olds at last count. The economy is slowly improving and there are jobs to be had again. The overall U.S. unemployment rate dropped to 6.3% in April as 288,000 jobs were added — the highest in two years, the Labor Department announced Friday.  But young people who haven’t been able to find work are now struggling to compete in a tough job market with little experience.

“The longer you’re not in the workforce, the harder it is to get back in,” says Rory O’Sullivan, deputy director of the Young Invincibles. “Employers look at resumes and there are a lot of young people working outside of their field of study. You can imagine all those things can make it harder to build a career.”

As many as one in five high school graduates and one in 10 college graduates are considered “disconnected youths,” those who are not working or enrolled in college, according to a new report by the Economic Policy Institute, a liberal think tank.

“There is little evidence that young adults have been able to ‘shelter in school’ from the labor market effects of the Great Recession,” the authors write. “Increases in college and university enrollment rates between 2007 and 2012 were no greater than before the recession began—and since 2012, college enrollment rates have dropped substantially.”

If these “idle” young people were factored into unemployment rates, it would raise the combined rate of unemployment for 16- to 25-year-olds from 14.5% to 18.1%.

And of those young people who have managed to find work, nearly half are considered to be underemployed, often working in part-time jobs that may have little or nothing to do with their chosen career path. What’s more, young people who graduate in 2014 will likely earn less than they would have if they had graduated in a stronger economy, the EPI report says.

Wages for high school graduates have dropped by 9.8% since the recession and wages for young college graduates fell by 6.9%.

Youth unemployment isn’t just a “young people” problem either. A recent report by the Young Invincibles estimates it has cost the U.S. economy nearly $9 billion in lost tax revenue since 2007. Each unemployed 18- to 24-year-old represents an estimated $3,200 in lost tax revenue, and each 25- to 34-year-old costs more than twice as much: $7,000.  And with nearly one-third of millennials living at home with their parents, parents who might have otherwise been enjoying the relief of an empty nest must instead continue their roles as financial guardians.

The reality is that young people are disproportionately impacted by economic downturns and no matter how much the U.S. economy improves, they will be feeling the effects of the recession for many years to come.

We spoke with several young people under the age of 30 — all solidly in the “underemployed” camp — who are struggling to launch their careers.

 

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Photo: Sara Beck

“My resume is a work of art.”

Sara Beck, 28, has spent the better part of a year trying and failing to find a full-time marketing position in Plymouth, Minn.

Her troubles have little to do with her lack of education or job skills: She has an MBA in international business, spent six years working abroad, and speaks perfect Spanish.

“My problem is that I’m either too experienced or not experienced enough for some of the jobs I want,” she says. “I had a really promising interview, but I got an email recently that they decided to go with candidates whose experience aligned more with the requirements. It was an entry-level position.”

While Beck pursues a career in the U.S., her husband, a Chilean national, stayed behind in Santiago to work on obtaining a work visa. She’s caring for their daughter on her own while living with relatives until she can find work.

“I can’t send my daughter to the daycare of my choice because I’m saving money,” she says. “I have more than $70,000 left in student loan debt. It’s insane to think about.

In the meantime, she has cobbled together enough freelance work to stay afloat — writing, editing and translating gigs that put food on the table but don’t necessarily improve her odds of landing a marketing job.

“I try to take a job in, say, content writing and apply it to a job as a business analyst,” she says. “My resume is a work of art.”

 

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