Trump Calls Potential Brain Injuries to U.S. Troops, ‘Headaches and a Couple of Other Things’ (UPDATES)

Reporters view damage at Al Asad Air Base, Iraq, Jan. 13, 2020. DoD photo

UPDATE II:

The Pentagon, taking the alleged “headaches” seriously, has just announced that 34 service members have now been diagnosed with traumatic brain injuries following the missile strikes by Iran on Ain al-Asad air base in Iraq on January 8.

Pentagon spokesman Jonathan Hoffman told reporters that eight service members who have been previously transported to Germany have now been moved to the United States for additional treatment.

Seventeen service members, who were flown to the Landstuhl Regional Medical Center in Germany, have returned to duty in Iraq and nine service members are still being treated in Germany, CNN reports.

UPDATE I:

The number of troops who suffered a concussion or more serious brain injuries during the Jan. 8 missile strike on Iraq’s Al Asad air base continues to increase — now “in the teens” – The Wall Street Journal reports.

At the same time, veterans and veterans groups are pointing out the seriousness of such injuries and voicing their disdain over Trump’s cavalier attitude towards the injured troops.

The Journal quotes Randy Reese, executive director of the million-member Disabled American Veterans: “…effects such as blurred vision or irritability can linger far longer, with complications that ripple into work performance and personal relationships…”

Reese also says, “It just appears the commander-in-chief is somewhat out of touch regarding the seriousness of this injury…”

Paul Rieckhoff, founder of Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America, calls Trump’s comments “really counterproductive because we’ve worked for the last decade-and-a-half to highlight and educate people about the invisible injuries of war…” He adds, “[Trump] really displayed remarkable ignorance about what could be the signature injury of our generation.”

For more reactions, please read “Veterans Differ with Trump Over Injuries from Iran Missile Attack

Original Post:

With fast-evolving national and world events and with the nation’s attention riveted on the impeachment of Donald J. Trump, it seems like a very long time ago when Iran retaliated for the U.S. killing of Iranian Maj. Gen. Qasem Soleimani.

But in fact, the launch of 11 Iranian missiles against Ain al-Asad air base west of Baghdad, where approximately 1,000 U.S. troops are based, occurred only two weeks ago.

At the time, the Pentagon claimed that there were zero “casualties” and Trump touted that “No Americans were harmed in last night’s attack by the Iranian regime. We suffered no casualties. All of our soldiers are safe…”

“All is well,” Trump said.

As recently as January 13, Trump claimed he had been told no American had been harmed in the Iranian missile strike, according to The Military Times. The Times continues:

The question of American casualties was especially significant at the time because the missile attack’s results were seen as influencing a U.S. decision on whether to retaliate and risk a broader war with Iran.

But all was not well.

After subsequent claims by the Pentagon that several service members were treated for concussion symptoms from the blast and were still being assessed, 11 U.S. service members were air-evacuated to U.S. medical facilities in Germany and Kuwait for evaluation of concussion-like symptoms.

According to The Military Times, a few days after the attack, Jonathan Hoffman, chief Pentagon spokesman told reporters that the symptoms of traumatic brain injury, or TBI, often don’t materialize until days after an incident.

Yesterday, The Washington Post reported that additional U.S. service members have been flown out of Iraq “for closer evaluation of potential concussion injuries from the Iranian missile attack of Jan. 8.”

Today, the commander in chief who felt that alleged bone spurs in his heels were sufficient to keep him from serving his country in the military, minimized the injuries suffered by our troops during the Iranian missile attack.

“I heard that they [sic] headaches and a couple of other things, but I would say and I can report that it’s not very serious,” Trump told reporters at a press conference in Davos, Switzerland.

Mr. President, your impeachment may be a political “headache” to you, but please don’t downplay or politicize serious injuries suffered by our military while serving our nation.

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Controlled fires or uncontrolled fires: Which do you prefer?

Which do you prefer, controlled fires or uncontrolled fires?

People living in Australia and California ought to be asking themselves that question.

From the World Wildlife Fund:

Every year it seems like there’s another disastrous wildfire in the American West. In 2018, nearly 9 million acres were burned in the US alone. Uncontrolled fires often started accidentally by people, rampage and decimate forests.

For most people, forest fire is synonymous with disaster. But there are some kinds of forest fires that actually benefit the environment.

A controlled burn is a wildfire that people set intentionally for a specific purpose. Well-thought out and well-managed controlled burns can be incredibly beneficial for forest management—in part because they can help stop an out-of-control wildfire. . .

Controlled burns are also used to prevent forest fires. Even before human involvement, natural, low-intensity wildfires occurred every few years to burn up fuel, plant debris, and dead trees, making way for young, healthy trees and vegetation to thrive. That new growth in turn supports forest wildlife. Forest managers are now replicating this natural strategy when appropriate, starting manageable, slow-burning fires to make room for new life that will help keep the forest healthy in the long term.

The Nature Conservancy reports the following about Oregon’s forests:

“Fire has always been a part of Oregon’s landscape. Many plants and animals depend on the recycled nutrients and healthy ecosystems that nature wildfires produce. But after more than a century of suppressing wildfires, our dry forests are overgrown with fuel that causes larger, more intense and severe wildfires.

The science is clear. Controlled—or prescribed—burns combined with ecological thinning are a proven way to restore Oregon’s dry forests. By managing the natural process of fire on the landscape, instead of preventing it, we can improve habitats for native plants and animals and reduce the risk of out-of-control wildfires.”

A January 2020 headline from the Sacramento Bee asks an important question:

From the U.S. Forest Service:

“Fire exclusion practices have resulted in forests being plagued with a variety of problems, including overcrowding resulting from encroachment of species normally eliminated by fire; vulnerability of trees to insects and disease; and inadequate reproduction of fire resistant species. In addition, heavy accumulation of fuel — dead vegetation of forest floors– can cause catastrophic fires, threaten public safety, impair forests and ecosystem health, and degrade air quality.”

So, why aren’t there more controlled burns? The above-cited Sacramento Bee story gives an answer:

Even as fires have ravaged California in recent years — killing dozens and leveling entire neighborhoods — controlled burns haven’t expanded much, researchers said.

To understand what’s stopped prescribed burns, the researchers interviewed legislative aides, state and federal employees, nonprofit leaders, academics and more.

Those interviews revealed an overarching problem, identified by “almost everyone” who was asked: There’s “a risk-averse culture in the shadow of liability laws that place financial and legal responsibility for any prescribed burn that escapes on the burners,” the researchers said.

Landowners are afraid of going bankrupt if a prescribed burn escapes control, the interviewees told researchers. Meanwhile, state and federal workers see little praise for successful controlled burns, and face fears and possible backlash from a risk-averse public, wary of wildfire smoke and mishaps.

The resulting build-up of wildfire fuel is made worse by human misbehavior as a January 2020 report by Newsweek reveals:

“Police in Australia have arrested and charged two dozen people they say deliberately lit blazes during the wildfire season that has so far killed at least 18 people, destroyed thousands of homes and ravaged over 10 million acres of land. New South Wales police said that since the beginning of November [2019], 24 people have been charged over allegedly deliberately lighting fires as officers continue to investigate the role that arson has played in the devastation. Starting a wildfire can result in a jail sentence of up to 21 years. . . Police in the state have also taken legal action against a further 159 people. Among them are 53 people who allegedly failed to comply with a total fire ban and 47 people who allegedly discarded a lit cigarette or match on land.”

As CNN reports, wildfires in Australia could be prevented by using the burning practices that Aboriginal Australians have been using since before white men discovered Australia.

“The fires in Australia have been burning for months, consuming nearly 18 million acres of land, causing thousands to evacuate and killing potentially millions of animals. They’re showing minimal signs of slowing down. The Australian state of New South Wales, where both Sydney and Canberra are located, declared a state of emergency this week, as worsening weather conditions could lead to even greater fire danger. But a 50,000-year-old solution could exist: Aboriginal burning practices.”

CNN cites Australian historian Bill Gammage as saying, “Where the Aboriginal people are in charge, they’re not having big fires. In the south, where white people are in charge, we are having the problems.”

As it turns out, some people would rather have uncontrolled fires than controlled ones, as the Australian Broadcasting Corporation reported via Facebook in 2019:

Click here to read more about opposition to controlled fires in Australia.


Featured Image from U.S. Bureau of Land Management.

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GREAT MUSIC – Chapter 60

Don’t get whiplash but this week we are heading to the opposite end of the musical spectrum from last week’s rock and roll song. This week we are featuring a piece of music written by the American composer, Samuel Barber.

Barber was born in 1910 and grew up in West Chester, Pennsylvania in a comfortable musical family. While his father was a doctor, his mother was a pianist and some of his aunts sang with the Metropolitan Opera in New York. Barber’s mother tried to discourage Samuel in music, insisting he play football and other sports like a normal boy. Needless to say, Barber resisted and found ways to pursue his interest in Music, eventually enrolling in the Curtis Institute of Music in Philadelphia.

After graduation he continued his interest in composing, creating music for various instruments and voices. He was successful in a minor way until he composed the music we are featuring today – Adagio for Strings in 1936. He later adapted the piece for choirs under the name Angus Dei. I am going to provide YouTube versions of both the string and chorale versions because in my experience the versions seem to evoke different emotions. The human voice is a unique musical instrument and deserves top billing along with orchestras. Listen to the music with your eyes closed and take the trip to whatever destination the music takes you. That is the neat thing about music, each piece can take you to a different place, evoking memories and emotions long thought to be buried but literally raised from the dead of the past or a future that does not yet exist.

String Version

Chorale VersionSam

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Report: Neo-Nazi Rinaldo Nazzaro running militant group The Base from Russia

Things that make you go “hmmmm.”

Or is it “umm humm.” The BBC reports:

The American founder of US-based militant neo-Nazi group The Base is directing the organisation from Russia, a BBC investigation has found.

Rinaldo Nazzaro, 46, who uses the aliases “Norman Spear” and “Roman Wolf”, left New York for St Petersburg less than two years ago.

The Base is a major counter terrorism focus for the FBI.

Seven alleged members were charged this month with various offences, including conspiracy to commit murder.

Court documents prepared by the FBI describe The Base as a “racially motivated violent extremist group” that “seeks to accelerate the downfall of the United States government, incite a race war, and establish a white ethno-state”.

And:

A video posted online in March 2019 shows Nazzaro in Russia wearing a t-shirt bearing an image of President Vladimir Putin along with the words “Russia, absolute power”.

We traced Nazzaro and his Russian wife to an upmarket property in central St Petersburg purchased in her name in July 2018 – the same month to which the FBI dates the creation of The Base.

Records show that, before moving to Russia, Nazzaro ran a company registered in New York that offered access to a “network of security professionals” with expertise in intelligence, counterterrorism, counterinsurgency, and psychological operations.

A website for the firm – Omega Solutions – once stated: “Our associates have worked with various government and military agencies, including multiple wartime deployments to Iraq and Afghanistan”.

When we visited the company’s one-time address it was little more than a mail drop, although the firm officially remains active and has a current insurance policy.

Property records show that an apartment associated with Nazzaro in New Jersey was given as the address for an entity called “Base Global” when it purchased land in the US state of Washington.

The Guardian reported this:

The Guardian has learned the true identity of the leader and founder of the US-based neo-Nazi terror network the Base, which was recently the target of raids by the FBI after an investigation into domestic terrorism uncovered their plans to start a race war.

Members of the group stand accused of federal hate crimes, murder plots and firearms offenses, and have harbored international fugitives in recent months.

The Base’s leader previously operated under the aliases “Norman Spear” and “Roman Wolf”. Members of the network do not know his true identity due to the group’s culture of internal secrecy.

But the Guardian can reveal that “Norman Spear” is in fact US-born Rinaldo Nazzaro, 46, who has a long history of advertising his services as an intelligence, military and security contractor. He has claimed, under his alias, to have served in Russia and Afghanistan.

The revelation of his identity comes after a months-long investigation by the Guardian into Nazzaro and the activities of the Base.

The Base – which is an approximate English translation of “al-Qaida” – began recruiting in late 2018. The white supremacy group, which has regional and international cells, extols the virtues of an all-out race war while specifically targeting African Americans and Jewish people.

Using encrypted apps, members of the highly organized group planned terror campaigns; vandalized synagogues; established armed training camps and recruited new members.

The US attorney for Maryland, Robert K Hur, speaking after the recent arrest of three members of the Base, said that they “did more than talk – they took steps to act and act violently on their racist views”.

Few traces of him exist anywhere..

Members of The Base have recently been arrested in Georgia, Wisconsin and three alleged members of the group were arrested by the FBI at the recent Richmond, VA gun rights rally. Court documents showed they were considering various acts of domestic terrorism which they hoped might spark a civil war.

Three alleged members of a white supremacist group were plotting to murder demonstrators at Monday’s gun rights rally at the Virginia Capitol before they were arrested by the FBI last week, according to court documents.

The men were caught discussing their plans on a hidden camera set up in their Delaware apartment by FBI agents.

“We can’t let Virginia go to waste, we just can’t,” said Patrik J. Mathews, one member of the hate group “the Base” that promotes violence against African-Americans and Jews.

According to authorities, the 27-year-old former Canadian Armed Forces reservist also discussed creating “instability” in Virginia by killing people, derailing trains, poisoning water, and shutting down highways in order to “kick off the economic collapse” and possibly start a “full blown civil war.”

Mathews also discussed the possibility of “executing” police officers and stealing their belongings and remarked that, “We could essentially be like literally hunting people.”

“Virginia will be our day,” said 33-year-old Brian M. Lemley Jr., adding, “I need to claim my first victim.”

“Lemley discussed using a thermal imaging scope affixed to his rifle to conduct ambush attacks,” the court filings read.

The two were arrested along with a third man, 19, last Thursday. They are charged with federal firearms violations and “transporting and harboring an alien,” referring to Mathews, who is a Canadian national. Four more members of The Base have also been arrested and charged in Georgia and Wisconsin.

In a search of the apartment, prosecutors said that FBI agents found propaganda fliers for The Base, communications devices, empty rifle cases, “go bags” with “numerous Meals-Ready-to-Eat,” knives, and materials for building an assault rifle.

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How to Prevent Falls at a Construction Site

Construction can be a dangerous profession. The use of power tools and heavy machinery can cause severe damage, even death, if not handled properly. The most prominent danger construction workers face, however, is falling.

In the U.S., falls account for more than 300 deaths each year in construction. They are the leading cause of construction worker fatalities. On top of that, more than 10,000 employees are seriously injured by falls.

Most construction staff don’t work at extreme heights, but they can still be at risk. Even falls from shorter distances can be fatal.

Falls can happen for several reasons, including:

  • Inexperienced or improperly trained workers
  • Overloading ladders or scaffolds
  • Improper equipment
  • Working in extreme weather
  • Lack of fall protection

No matter what the specifics are, all construction falls have one thing in common— they are preventable. If employers and workers alike work to ensure proper training, planning, equipment and behavior, they can save lives.

Training

The first step in fall prevention is training. People are likely to get hurt if they don’t know how to work safely. Employees should be up-to-date on OSHA requirements as well as the safety procedures of their companies.

All workers should know how to set up their equipment and use it correctly. If they work on ladders, they should know to set them up securely, including how to maintain at least three points of contact while working and climbing. Employees on scaffolds should know how to install guardrails and to follow load limits.

If someone works on roofs, they should know to wear a harness and how to inspect it. Workers should train on how to install anchors and lifelines.

If any changes occur, such as the introduction of new equipment or moving to a more hazardous jobsite, workers should retrain. The same goes for if safety guidelines get updated. All employees need to be up-to-date on current standards.

Planning

A lack of planning can lead to any number of dangerous mistakes. Before a construction job begins, project managers should thoroughly inspect the worksite. Inspections should include taking note of uneven surfaces, tripping risks, electrical hazards and excessive noise.

With all these potential dangers in mind, leaders should plan the job accordingly. They must decide what tools and equipment are needed not just to finish the job, but to work safely within the given environment.

When budgeting for a job, employers should take safety equipment into account. Meeting basic legal requirements may not be enough. Responsible managers should account for special equipment needed for any location-specific hazards.

Construction crews should be ready for any emergency that might happen. Emergencies can be anything from equipment failure to extreme weather. Organizations should have a plan in place and educate all employees on their roles. Unforeseen situations do arise, so all workers should be equipped with the knowledge and tools necessary to work around them.

Equipment

If workers do not have the right tools for the job, they can be at risk. Many jobsite falls are due to issues with equipment. These problems may be due to faulty equipment or something as simple as materials not matching the project at hand.

When scaffolds are needed, project managers should ensure they select the right equipment for height and weight requirements. If the scaffolding is too short, workers may attempt to climb on the guardrails or place a ladder on top, leading to a higher risk of falling. Mismatched weight capacities could lead to collapse. Similar issues apply to ladders, as well.

Apart from the tools needed to do their jobs properly, workers should have all the necessary safety equipment. All employees should wear helmets, and those at heights should have fall protection, such as harnesses and guardrails.

Even experienced workers risk falling with improper or insufficient equipment. Before use, a competent employee should check all gear to make sure it’s in working order.

Behavior

Safe, appropriate equipment and well-inspected job sites, although critical, are all but useless if workers don’t practice smart, safe routines. Employees should follow OSHA construction safety standards at all times. It may be beneficial to have other protocols in place too.

Going above and beyond the minimum legal requirements will further ensure safety. While these regulations do help a great deal, asking more of employees will leave less room for mistakes. Additional procedures may seem redundant, but you can’t be too careful with lives at risk.

Safety measures are also pointless if no one enforces them. An accountability system can help make sure workers are behaving safely. Managers can look for specific risky actions and call out dangerous behavior when they see it.

Preventing Falls at Construction Sites — What to Know

People don’t have to fall far to get severely injured. Taking the time and effort to reduce risks is necessary to potentially save the lives of hundreds of construction employees.

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Sundance 2020: Crip Camp

Courtesy of Sundance Institute - Photo by Steve Honigsbaum
Courtesy of Sundance Institute – Photo by Steve Honigsbaum

Everybody deserves to have their story told. No matter your race or ethnicity, sexual orientation or gender identity, your ability or disability.

Crip Camp is one of those stories. Directed by James LeBrecht and Nicole Newman, this documentary is an account of pivotal moments within the disability rights movement, taking place through the 1970s and 1980s. It picks up with a group of people, through archival footage and interviews, who attended Camp Jened.

This summer camp was a place for those with disabilities, from polio to cerebral palsy, to be themselves and to be around other people similar to them. While there, these teens learned about who they were, developed their voices, discovered their sexuality, and, overall, just had a great time. They did all the things they couldn’t do at home.

After Camp Jened, Crip Camp traces the lives of some of the campers and what they went on to do with their careers. These pursuits include sound design and mixing, disability advocacy, university degrees, human sexuality, and much more.

At the core of this documentary is a human depiction of people too often considered as “others,” or “untouchable.” Looked upon with apprehension and fear, the recognition of people with disabilities came at a time when many were still being institutionalized. In the United States, there was no Americans with Disabilities Act, ensuring equitable access to public spaces and services. The world was mostly unfriendly to the disabled fifty years ago. In many ways, that would be unthinkable today.

Crip Camp is a political story about the people who fought for change. They staged marches and sit-ins, worked with their elected officials, and demanded attention from those in power, all the way up to the White House. There are clear parallels to the Civil Rights movement of the 1950s and 1960s, painting these efforts as a natural extension. At one point in the documentary, it’s recalled that the Black Panther Party helped to feed protesters staging a sit-in of a federal building, further driving home the support that was steadily mounting.

This is a profoundly emotional and important film with people who have simply sought to live their lives and to be their best selves, away from scrutiny and discouragement. Crip Camp releases on Netflix in March 2020.

This review originally appeared on Salt Lake Film Review

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A HILL TO DIE ON

“When I die, I want to die like my grandfather who died peacefully in his sleep. Not screaming like all the passengers in his car.” – Will Rogers

Dear Senator Cory Gardner (R) CO:

I implore you to vote to convict Donald Trump in the Senate. To permit this impeached president to remain in office is not only an act that gravely threatens our democracy, it is a vivid display of the same contempt for the rule of law that this imperious president subjects us to on a daily basis – the same autocratic response to the tenets of democracy and accountability that he displays to our great shame on the world stage. The Senate’s refusal to see the House’s inculpatory evidence concerning Trump’s extortion of Ukraine or hear from witnesses with firsthand knowledge of his bribery is nothing, if not the same self-serving abuse of power for which Donald Trump has been impeached.

Look in the mirror, Senator Gardner, and see if you can legitimately defend Donald Trump in light of the House’s unassailable evidence of Donald Trump’s abuse of power and obstruction of justice. Can you tell yourself that, by smothering this trial in the Senate, you are not also participating in Donald Trump’s offenses? By failing to insist on a legitimate trial of Donald Trump and refusing to remove this corrupt president from office, you are effectively motivating him to continue his misdeeds. When Attorney General William Barr lied to America about the findings of the Mueller Report, his misrepresentations empowered Trump to establish a sprawling network of sycophants for the purpose of cheating to win the 2020 Presidential Election. Ask yourself whether you became a United States Senator in order to play a role in this kind of official misconduct.

Others who have joined Donald Trump in his impeachable acts have confessed to the crimes for which Trump is being tried, and a virtual rogues’ gallery of enablers are either in prison, awaiting trial, or negotiating a plea deal for their actions. They are complicit in misusing their positions in government, but by the same token, the Republican Party is also complicit because of its decision to protect this criminal president by obstructing this proceeding.

Moreover, Mitch McConnell’s attempt to smother this impeachment in the Senate sets the stage for a further deterioration of our tripartite form of government by failing to maintain the integrity of this deliberative body as it was established to be. McConnell’s commitment to work hand-in-glove with the president is nothing short of the collusion Trump is accused of. And by demanding absolute fealty among his caucus with the threat of primarying them in their campaigns for reelection, McConnell extinguishes the very definition of representative government guaranteed by American democracy. His is precisely the same tactic Donald Trump uses to ensure loyalty among his supporters: a thuggish threat to sully their reputations if they refuse to become accomplices in his schemes. The world recognizes this tactic in government as autocratic. In fact, it is so obvious that Ukraine can see it in the dark.

So, Senator Gardner, we are passengers in the car that you are driving, and yes, we are screaming. If you are the patriot you profess to be, 70% of your fellow Americans are wondering why you continue to maintain solidarity with your fellow Senate Republicans by obstructing this trial. Is it because you reject the proof that this president committed the reprehensible acts for which he has been impeached, even though you haven’t even seen them? Or is it because you do so only to preserve your own seat in the Senate.

If it is either, then you will surely lose your seat as Colorado’s Senator on November 3rd, 2020 anyway – as well you should.

 

Image: wikimedia commons

Deborah Long is a Principal at Development Management Group, Inc. and founder of several non-profit charitable organizations.  If you find her perspectives interesting, provocative, or controversial, follow her at:  https://www.facebook.com/debby.long.98499?ref=br_rs

 

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Saying Trump did ‘nothing wrong,’ White House opens Senate defense

Washington (AFP) – White House lawyers began presenting their defense of Donald Trump at his historic Senate impeachment trial on Saturday, saying the president had done nothing wrong in his dealings …

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Will the clouded leopards, found at almost 12000 feet in Nepal’s Himalayas, survive climate change?

Clouded leopard. Image by Charles Barilleaux for Flickr. CC BY 2.0Clouded leopards, one of the most elusive cats, were found for the first time[when were they found? on the 28th?]at an altitude of 349…

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