Opioids are killing thousands of veterans and the VA played a role in that

❝ Opioids, mostly illegally obtained counterfeit pills and heroin, now account for 63 percent of all drug deaths in the U.S., with fatalities climbing at an astounding rate of nearly 20 percent a year. In fact, the estimated number of drug deaths in 2016 topped the total number of soldiers killed in the Iraq and Vietnam wars. There’s a grim irony in that statistic, because the Department of Veterans Affairs has played a little-discussed role in fueling the opioid epidemic that is killing civilians and veterans alike. In 2011, veterans were twice as likely to die from accidental opioid overdoses as non-veterans. One reason…is that for over a decade, the VA recklessly overprescribed opiates and psychiatric medications. Since mid-2012, though, it has swung dangerously in the other direction, ordering a drastic cutback of opioids for chronic pain patients, but it is bungling that program and again putting veterans at risk…

❝ Today, the number of patients affected by the VA’s swinging opiate pendulum is staggering: 60 percent of veterans who fought in the Middle East and 50 percent of older veterans have chronic pain. Since 2012, though, there has been a 56 percent drop to a mere 53,000 chronic pain VA patients receiving opioids—leading to swift, mandated cutoffs regardless of patient well-being and with virtually no evidence that it’s a safe approach…

RTFA. The VA stumbles from one side of the wrong-way highway to the other. Crippled by the fake president and tame bureaucrats relying on positions already corrupt and ineffectual – our veterans’ medical treatment is on the way to being as useless as any Republican-designed healthcare system.

Life in an American Small Town – called Guantanamo

Click to enlarge

❝ Guantánamo Bay, known for orange jumpsuits and abuse of detainees, has school field trips. Also a McDonald’s, a bowling alley, a kickball league, Monday night flamenco lessons for parents and a pretty good water slide in the center of town. It’s the oddly small-town wholesome Guantánamo you rarely hear about.

A single main street runs through the base. It starts at the gate to Cuba, where diplomats from the two countries hold monthly meetings, and winds along the bay to the ivory-colored, century-old Windward Point Lighthouse, perched on a grassy cliff above rough beaches of crushed coral. Along the road are wharves, piers and warehouses to service ships, but also an outdoor movie theater, an espresso bar and a gift shop selling “GTMO” shot glasses and tank tops.

An enjoyable, informative read. Probably unnoticed by folks like our fake president or even policy wonks in the two political parties we’re allowed.

US soldiers reveal their location by jogging, working out

❝ An interactive map posted on the Internet that shows the whereabouts of people who use fitness devices such as Fitbit also reveals highly sensitive information about the locations and activities of soldiers at U.S. military bases, in what appears to be a major security oversight.

The Global Heat Map, published by the GPS tracking company Strava, uses satellite information to map the locations and movements of subscribers to the company’s fitness service over a two-year period, by illuminating areas of activity.

❝ Most parts of the United States and Europe, where millions of people use some type of fitness tracker, show up on the map as blazes of light because there is so much activity.

In war zones and deserts in countries such as Iraq and Syria, the heat map becomes almost entirely dark — except for scattered pinpricks of activity. Zooming in on those areas brings into focus the locations and outlines of known U.S. military bases, as well as of other unknown and potentially sensitive sites — presumably because American soldiers and other personnel are using fitness trackers as they move around.

❝ The U.S.-led coalition against the Islamic State said on Monday it is revising its guidelines on the use of all wireless and technological devices on military facilities as a result of the revelations.

You can file this under: barn door, horse already gone

Trump and the Pentagon still looking for a tidy model to kill civilians

Banned by 102 countries – NOT including the USA

The Pentagon will allow the United States military to once again arm itself with older cluster munitions, a type of weapon that has been banned by 102 countries largely because of concerns that they disproportionately harm civilians.

The change, detailed in a memo released on Friday, reverses a prohibition issued under President George W. Bush, and appears to be a concession by the United States that finding safer variants of the weapons has so far failed…

Though the United States is not a signatory to the international treaty banning the weapons, it pledged in June 2008 to sharply restrict their use and reduce risks to civilians.

None of which means a damned thing to our fake president.

Another $21 Billion Worth of Pentagon Welfare Orphans?

How much healthcare would this have paid for?

The new F-35 Program Executive Officer, Vice Admiral Mat Winter, said his office is exploring the option of leaving 108 aircraft in their current state because the funds to upgrade them to the fully combat-capable configuration would threaten the Air Force’s plans to ramp up production in the coming years. These are most likely the same 108 aircraft the Air Force reportedly needed to upgrade earlier in 2017. Without being retrofitted, these aircraft would become “Concurrency Orphans,” airplanes left behind in the acquisition cycle after the services purchased them in haste before finishing the development process.

Left unsaid so far is what will become of the 81 F-35s purchased by the Marine Corps and Navy during that same period. If they are left in their current state, nearly 200 F-35s might permanently remain unready for combat because the Pentagon would rather buy new aircraft than upgrade the ones the American people have already paid for. What makes this particularly galling is the aircraft that would be left behind by such a scheme were the most expensive F-35s purchased so far. When the tab for all the aircraft purchased in an immature state is added up, the total comes to nearly $40 billion. That is a lot of money to spend on training jets and aircraft that will simply be stripped for spare parts.

Sum up all the money wasted by the Pentagon preparing for global thermonuclear war – throw in the minimum cost of our military stationed in 150-170 countries [varying according to who we’ve pissed off this month] – and you have the biggest cumulative waste of GDP in the history of the world.

Flynn’s lawyers have stopped talking to Trump’s lawyers. Still talking to Mueller, though.

TweedleDee & TweedleDumb

❝ Lawyers for former national security adviser Michael Flynn have told President Donald Trump’s legal team that they are no longer communicating with them about special counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation into Russian election interference.

The decision could be a sign that Flynn is moving to cooperate with Mueller’s investigation or negotiate a deal for himself. Flynn’s legal team communicated the decision this week, said a person familiar with the move…blah, blah, blah

In large criminal investigations, defense lawyers routinely share information with each other. But it can become unethical to continue such communication if one of the potential targets is looking to negotiate a deal with prosecutors…

❝ In addition to scrutinizing Flynn’s contacts with Russia during the transition and campaign, Mueller has been investigating the retired U.S. Army lieutenant general’s role in $530,000 worth of lobbying work his now-defunct firm performed for a Turkish businessman during the final months of the 2016 presidential campaign.

I guess becoming a pimp for one or another segment of the American Military-Industrial Complex like his peers wasn’t sufficiently rewarding.

The Militarization of America’s Cities by Maj. Danny Sjursen

❝ I can remember both so well.

2006. My first raid in South Baghdad. 2014. Watching on YouTube as a New York police officer asphyxiated — murdered — Eric Garner for allegedly selling loose cigarettes on a Staten Island street corner not five miles from my old apartment. Both events shocked the conscience.

It was 11 years ago next month. My first patrol of the war and we were still learning the ropes from the Army unit we were replacing. Unit swaps are tricky, dangerous times…

❝ Officers from incoming units like mine were forced to learn the terrain, identify the key powerbrokers in our assigned area, and sort out the most effective tactics in the two weeks before the experienced officers departed. It was a stressful time…

Major Sjursen quickly learned to rearrange his response and definitions to war, honesty, actual military and political goals to the realities of the American War on Iraq. Short, worthy read on its own.

❝ Years passed. I came home, stayed in the Army, had a kid, divorced, moved a few more times, remarried, had more kids — my Giants even won two Super Bowls. Suddenly everyone had an iPhone, was on Facebook or tweeting or texting rather than calling.

Somehow in those blurred years, Iraq-style police brutality and violence — especially against poor blacks — gradually became front-page news. One case, one shaky YouTube video followed another. Michael Brown, Eric Garner, Tamir Rice, Philando Castile and Freddie Gray, just to start a long list.

So many of the clips reminded me of enemy propaganda videos from Baghdad or helmet-cam shots recorded by our troopers in combat, except that they came from New York or Chicago or San Francisco…

The tactics, intent, goals began to more than resemble his life in an occupying army thousands of miles from home. And that’s what the rest of his article is about.