Army hospital commander removed during PTSD probe


Medical aid in the snow — does it matter which war?

The Army has removed the head of the Madigan Army Medical Center in Washington state during an investigation into whether soldiers had diagnoses of post-traumatic stress disorder reversed to reduce medical costs.

“This is a common practice during ongoing investigations and nothing more,” Maj. Gen. Phillip Volpe, who heads the Western Region Medical Command, said Monday about the removal of Col. Dallas Homas.

Homas is a West Point graduate whose career has included deployments to Afghanistan and Iraq, where he served as command surgeon. His military honors include two Bronze Stars…

The focus of the Army Medical Command investigation is a Madigan forensic psychiatric team that has the lead role in screening soldiers being considered for medical retirement due to PTSD, a condition that results from experiencing or seeing a traumatic event, such as a battlefield casualty.

Symptoms can include recurrent nightmares, flashbacks, irritability and feeling distant from other people. Soldiers diagnosed with PTSD gain at least a 50 percent rating of disability, and qualify for pensions, family health insurance and other financial benefits.

In 2011, an ombudsman investigated complaints from soldiers who said the forensic psychiatric team had reversed earlier diagnoses of PTSD and tagged some of them as possible malingerers.

The ombudsman also wrote a memo about a lecture in which a member of the forensic psychiatric team talked about the need to be good stewards of taxpayer dollars and not rubber stamp PTSD diagnoses that could result in a soldier earning $1.5 million in benefits over a lifetime…

I didn’t know there was a specific field of psychiatric study dedicated to oversight by beancounters.

The ombudsman investigation resulted in more than a dozen soldiers getting a chance for a second PTSD screening by doctors from Walter Reed National Military Medical Center outside Washington, D.C.

Fourteen of those soldiers will have the results of their Walter Reed reviews detailed in individual meetings at Madigan with Col. Rebecca Porter, chief of behavioral health, Office of the U.S. Army Surgeon General.

One would hope the analysis reverts to psychiatric concerns rather than saving the budget.

I’ve mentioned my closest friend being the most decorated WW2 veteran from our home state and the months he spent in hospital after the war. That helped his physical wounds. There wasn’t any broad definition of PTSD available for those vets. So, he received nothing – either for what he suffered in battle – or what he saw and felt at the liberation of Hitler’s Death Camps.

But, I shall never forget the times he woke in the middle of the night and rolled under his bed because he thought there was incoming artillery fire – and that he was back in Bastogne in the winter of 1944-45.

Nagoya Mayor denies historic massacre – Nanjing suspends relations with Nagoya

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Nanjing Massacre Museum
Daylife/Reuters Pictures

The Chinese city of Nanjing has suspended its sister-city relationship with Nagoya, Japan, after Nagoya’s mayor expressed doubts that the Japanese Army’s 1937 Nanjing Massacre actually took place…

The falling out began Monday, when Nagoya’s mayor, Takashi Kawamura, told a visiting delegation of Chinese Communist Party officials from Nanjing that he doubted that Japanese troops had massacred Chinese civilians. Most historians say that at a minimum, tens of thousands of civilians were slaughtered in Nanjing in one of the most infamous atrocities of Japan’s military expansion across Asia in the early 20th century.

The falling out underscored how differing views of history remain a problem in Japan’s ties with the nations that it once conquered. While such denials are common by Japanese conservatives like Mr. Kawamura, they are rarely raised in such a public manner, or directly to Chinese officials…

Still, the Japanese government scrambled to head off a full-blown diplomatic quarrel. The top government spokesman restated Japan’s official position that the massacre did, in fact, take place…

On Wednesday, Mr. Kawamura remained unrepentant, saying that he did not intend to retract the statement or apologize…

Such disagreements between Japan and its neighbors have quieted from the early 2000s, when Junichiro Koizumi, then prime minister, angered many in China and South Korea by visiting the Yasukuni shrine in Tokyo that honors Japan’s war dead, included executed war criminals.

I’ve written about this before. People in China haven’t forgotten. Why should I?

Another green data center for Oregon — this one for Apple


Facebook’s data center in Prineville, OR

Last December, people familiar with the matter indicated that Apple was “nearing a decision” to build a server farm in Oregon. After a filing with the Crook County clerk’s office emerged last week with Apple’s name on it, the Cupertino, Calif., company has publicly confirmed the development, which is known as “Project Maverick…”

“We purchased the land and it’s for a data center,” said Apple spokeswoman Kristin Huguet, adding that the facility will be “green.” Earlier this week, the company revealed in a Facilities Environmental Report that its massive server farm in North Carolina will utilize the largest end-user-owned onsite solar array and the largest non utility fuel cell installation in the U.S., making it the only facility in its class to earn LEED Platinum certification.

According to the report, county commissioners signed the deed for the purchase on Feb. 15, the same day that the state senate voted in legislation that removed an earlier threat of property taxes for data centers in the area.

Officials said they were bound by non-disclosure agreements and offered few details on the project, though one judge did say that he’s confident it will be “good for Prineville and Crook County.”

These folks have been wonderful to work with,” said Judge Mike McCabe. “We will look forward to a long-term relationship with them.”

Apple’s facility will be just minutes from a Facebook server farm that opened last year. McCabe revealed that the social networking site “kind of helped recruit” Apple to come to Prineville. Facebook reportedly allowed Apple representatives to tour its facility last summer.

Keep on rocking in the Geek World. Oregon is one of those places where anyone who is hip should consider living – unless you prefer being as dry as I am in New Mexico.

Koran burning triggers Afghan protests — anyone surprised?

About 2,000 Afghans protested outside the main US military base in Afghanistan on Tuesday over a report that foreign soldiers improperly disposed of copies of the Koran. US helicopters fired flares to try to break up as many as 2,000 demonstrators who massed outside several gates to the base, chanting anti-foreigner slogans and throwing stones.

Roshna Khalid, the provincial governor’s spokeswoman, said copies of the Muslim holy book had been burnt inside Bagram airbase, an hour’s drive north of the capital Kabul, citing accounts from local labourers.

“The labourers normally take the garbage outside and they found the remains of Korans” Khalid said. Nato’s top general in Afghanistan attempted to contain fury over the incident, which could be a public relations disaster for the US military as it tries to pacify the country ahead of the withdrawal of foreign combat troops in 2014.

“When we learned of these actions, we immediately intervened and stopped them. The materials recovered will be properly handled by appropriate religious authorities,” said general John Allen, head of the International Security Assistance Force ( ISAF). “This was NOT intentional in any way…”

Is this general an idiot? Is every officer in his command an obedient puppet idiot? Every military force in the West has a book to go by. And doing it “by the book” while stationed abroad is how you do it. Believe me – there already are rules and regulations governing everything from how and why the military acquired copies of the Koran – how they were used by the military – and what was appropriate when that use was completed.

Bagram also houses a prison for Afghans detained by US forces. The centre has caused resentment among Afghans because of reports of torture and ill-treatment of suspected Taliban prisoners, with president Hamid Karzai demanding the transfer of prisoners to Afghan security.

Winning the hearts and minds of Afghans is critical to US efforts to defeating the Taliban but critics say Western forces often fail to grasp Afghanistan’s religious and cultural sensitivities.

American-led forces often fail to grasp the religious and cultural sensitivities of anyone whose kin weren’t on the losing side of the American Civil War. Much less lands outside the territorial boundaries of the 50 states. It doesn’t have to be that way.

There is no shortage of bright, inquisitive, studious, able folks who have joined our military in recent decades. They’re dedicated to bringing our military and our politics into the 21st Century. They just don’t happen to be in charge of a whole helluva lot.

Radical Girl Scouts out to destroy American family values

There’s an agenda behind those cookies the Girl Scouts sell, one bent on promoting communism, lesbianism and subverting “traditional American family values,” according to an Indiana lawmaker. That’s the reason Rep. Bob Morris, a Republican representing Fort Wayne, insists he won’t go along with a resolution meant to honor the Girls Scouts on the organization’s 100th anniversary…

“After talking to some well-informed constituents, I did a small amount of Web-based research, and what I found is disturbing,” Morris wrote Saturday to Republican House colleagues in a letter obtained by the Fort Wayne Journal Gazette.

Morris alleged that the Girl Scouts of America and the World Association of Girl Guides and Girl Scouts “have entered into a close strategic affiliation with Planned Parenthood,” which he claimed is trying to “sexualiz(e) young girls through the Girl Scouts.”

Even worse, he wrote, only three of the 50 role models promoted by the Girl Scouts have even “a briefly-mentioned religious background.” “All the rest are feminists, lesbians, or Communists,” he wrote.

As proof, Morris notes that the “radically pro-abortion” Michelle Obama is honorary president of Girl Scouts of America, which “should give each of us reason to pause before our individual or collective endorsement of the organization.”

After learning all this, he wrote, he pulled his two daughters out of the Girl Scouts and instead put them in American Heritage Girls Little Flowers, a parent-run group best described as a center for recovering Girl Scouts.

Heartwarming to view consistency in the ideology of our politicians. Even if it’s consistent dementia.

China’s Great Wall Motors opens first European plant


Carlos Sousa driving a Great Wall Haval to 7th overall in Dakar 2012

Great Wall Motor has become the first Chinese carmaker to open an assembly plant in Europe as it aims to lift sales in the region.

The factory, in the northern village of Bahovitsa in Bulgaria, will eventually produce 50,000 vehicles a year.

The facility was built together with Great Wall’s Bulgarian partner Litex Motors. It will manufacture Great Wall’s Hover SUV, Steed pick-up and Voleex city car models.

The plant will initially employ 150 workers capable of making 4,000 vehicles per year, rising to 2,000 employees when at full capacity in 2013.

Great Wall’s plans to build a plant in Bulgaria and produce automobiles here are aimed at boosting our production capacity and exporting these automobiles for the European market,” company president and chief executive Feng Ying Wang said. “We estimate that in three to five years we will have a wide range of models made here and that these cars will be sold in all European countries.”

The sort of enterprise following on economic growth and market penetration by the Asian countries preceding China into Western markets. I expect this will continue with sensible entry and growth models – in Europe. It’s all part of sensible, interconnected globalising of economies. That doesn’t require ideology, prayer or xenophobia.

I think Cold War conservatism will continue to get in the way of similar job creation in the United States. A ship of fools.