Combat veterans may be helped by talking about killing

The act of killing is as fundamental to war as oxygen is to fire. Yet it is also the one thing many combat veterans avoid discussing when they return home, whether out of shame, guilt or a deep fear of being misunderstood.

But a new study of Iraq war veterans by researchers in San Francisco suggests that more discussion of killing may help veterans cope with an array of mental health problems stemming from war.

The study, published in The Journal of Traumatic Stress, found that soldiers who reported having killed in combat, or who gave orders that led to killing, were more likely to report the symptoms of post-traumatic stress disorder, alcohol abuse, anger and relationship problems…

Shira Maguen…the principal investigator on the study, said the results suggested that mental health professionals need to incorporate killing more explicitly into their assessments and treatment plans for veterans. That would include finding ways to discuss the impact of killing, in public forums and in private treatment, to reduce the stigma and shame, she argued…

Mental health experts said the new study confirmed findings from research on Vietnam veterans and did not break much new ground. But they said it underscored that treating stress disorder among veterans is often very different from treating it in people who, say, have been raped or have been in car accidents.

People don’t understand the moral ambiguity of combat and why it is so hard to get over it,” said Rachel Yehuda, a professor of psychiatry at Mount Sinai School of Medicine in New York. “What makes combat veterans ill is not always about being a victim, but, in some instances, feeling very much both a perpetrator and a victim at the same time…”

Some experts said military law had also complicated therapy by having unclear rules about when a soldier’s conversations with a therapist are protected from legal action. The mere threat that those conversations could be used in war crimes prosecutions discourages many troops and veterans from seeking counseling, those experts say.

My closest friend was our home state’s most decorated soldier in WW2.

He was in parachutes reconnaissance – dropped behind enemy lines to work his way back and record everything of military importance. Still, the toughest memory he tried to excise from those missions was crawling through a field up to a German sentry apparently sleeping against a tree – plunging a knife into his chest to kill him – and discovering that he already was dead from a bullet wound.

Something we revisited time and again.

Marines looking over their shoulders for Taliban

It’s only been six days since NATO launched a major assault against the Taliban and some Afghans are already asking Marines when they can reopen their shops.

But it’s hard to say whether that’s a sign the Taliban had faded away, or just a false sense of security in Marjah, the heart of the last Taliban stronghold in Helmand, Afghanistan’s most violent province…

NATO’s largest assault in Afghanistan since the start of the war is aimed at driving the Taliban from their stronghold to make way for Afghan authorities to take over.

NATO said in a statement that a number of enemy fighters remaining in Marjah were engaging in direct combat, although combined forces have taken key areas…

But the Taliban are not far away. And they have only one objective — killing foreign forces to hold on to what Western countries say is a poppy cultivation center that funds their insurgency…

Marines are now comfortable enough to mount foot patrols. But the Taliban are unpredictable.

“As our company continues to increase its security in one area we will work to secure the rest of our battlespace,” said Marine Lieutenant Mark Greenlief.

No solutions to a work in progress. But, knowing this much, seeing what’s coming out of Marjah in the world press – not just network talking heads – is positive.

Potentially deadly infection linked to frequent exposure- to cows!

A common bacteria found in many healthy adult females that can cause life-threatening infections when passed to newborns could be introduced to some women through frequent contact with cows, according to a research team led by a Michigan State University pediatrician.

The recently published findings that Group B streptococcus could be a zoonotic disease — transmitted between different species — may have significant public health implications, said Dele Davies, chairperson of MSU’s Department of Pediatrics and Human Development.

Isn’t this how HIV got started among humans?

GBS, first recognized as a bacterium that leads to infections in the breasts of cows, is now found in up to 36 percent of pregnant women in their digestive or genital tracts. When passed to newborns during pregnancy, the infection can be severe — leading to death — though not all infants become sick…

“The possibility of ongoing transmission between humans and their livestock has not been systematically examined, and future studies are needed.”

Uh, oh. Got milk? may become a completely different kind of slogan.

Christian state in India confiscates ‘blasphemous’ Jesus textbooks

The government in the Indian state of Meghalaya has confiscated textbooks showing pictures of Jesus Christ holding a cigarette and a can of beer.

The book has been used for primary classes and has caused a furore in the north-eastern state, where more than 70% of the population are Christians.

State Education Minister Ampareen Lyngdoh said legal action against the publishers was being contemplated.

The controversial picture of Jesus was discovered in cursive writing exercise books being used at a private school in the state capital, Shillong…

The minister said that…his government has taken speedy action by seizing all the copies of the textbook from schools and bookshops.

We are deeply hurt by the insensitivity of the publisher. How can one show such total disrespect for a religion?” asked Dominic Jala, the Archbishop of Shillong…

The Catholic Church in India has banned all textbooks by Skyline Publications from all its schools.

Doesn’t it warm the cockles of your heart to see such understanding and tolerance for all rational religious points of view?

Run, Dick, Run? Har!

[Wiping away the drool]
Daylife/AP Photo used by permission

I was asked yesterday whether I would be going to CPAC, the annual Conservative Political Action Conference, which is currently being held a half-hour’s walk from my office in D.C. It was a logical question, not only since the meetings are so close at hand but also because for five years I chaired CPAC.

CPAC brings together conservative activists from every corner of America. As national chairman of the American Conservative Union, a founding trustee of the Heritage Foundation, and director of the policy task forces for Ronald Reagan’s 1980 presidential campaign, speaking at CPAC and shaping the program were high priorities on my personal agenda every year, even while serving in Congress.

But the answer to yesterday’s question was “no.” No, I’m not going to CPAC. And, truth be told, most of the folks there wouldn’t want me there. They wouldn’t think I’m a conservative; many wouldn’t think Barry Goldwater was a conservative; many, had this been three decades ago, might have been seeking a “true” conservative to run against Ronald Reagan. I don’t begrudge these activists their views and they are entitled to use the term “conservative” to describe themselves if they so choose. But the views many of them profess have little in common with the distinctly American kind of conservatism that gave birth to CPAC and the modern American conservative movement…

I’m not at CPAC because I believe in America. I believe in liberty. I believe that governments should be held in check. I believe people matter. I believe in the flag not because of its shape or color but because of the principles it stands for–the principles in the Constitution, the principles repeated and underlined and highlighted and boldfaced and italicized in the Bill of Rights. The George W. whose presidency and precedents I admire was the first president, not the 43d. It is James Madison I admire, not John Yoo. Thomas Paine, not Glenn Beck. Jefferson, not Limbaugh.

Ronald Reagan would not have been welcome at today’s CPAC or a tea party rally, but he would not have wanted to be there, either. Neither do I.

As I’ve mentioned before, I have friends and family who left the Republican Party after 50 years dedicated membership. Most left during the reign of King George W.. None would be inclined to return to the fold as designed and led by Dick Cheney, Dick Armey and the Birchers. Traditional American conservatism never marched to goosestep drums.

Taliban arrest spotlights Afghan insurgents in Karachi

The arrest of a top Taliban commander in Pakistan highlights the militant nexus in Karachi, where crime bankrolls violence and the teeming metropolis offers the perfect hiding place.

Karachi, home to 16 million people, has two sea ports which are a gateway to the world and transit hub for NATO supplies heading to the war effort in neighbouring Afghanistan.

For decades Karachi has been connected with the criminal underworld and since the September 11, 2001 attacks, with extreme Islamist networks too…

While officials refuse to confirm details of how, when and where Taliban number two Mullah Abdul Ghani Baradar was arrested, American media reported that US and Pakistani spies captured him in Karachi.

The arrest of a top Afghan Taliban commander proves the premise that some Afghan Taliban are present in Pakistan,” said security analyst Hasan Askari.

“Karachi has become the most attractive hideout for militants because it is a massive city and there are all kinds of ethnic and linguistic groups, where Pakistani and Afghan Taliban can disappear,” he added.

Around 2.5 million Pashtuns from the northwest are estimated to live in Karachi, a migration that began in the 1950s but accelerates with each successive offensive against Pakistani Islamists in the region…

This also serves to illustrate the steady turnaround in Pakistan’s commitment to a fight for democracy and modernity in their own land – since the departure of Musharraf and his Bush League lackeys.

Britain releases new UFO files

Which is the real UFO?

Reports of “flying Toblerones” and objects travelling at 1,100 mph across the Scottish sky have been released by the Ministry of Defence.

The files detail how unidentified objects have been witnessed flying over a range of locations across Scotland.

The Scottish accounts are among the thousands of reports made of close encounters with UFOs across the UK which have been released in a joint project between the MoD and the National Archives.

I think flying chocolate bars is a terrific idea.