Janet's Conner

This Blog tell the Truth and will never not tell the Truth. Impeach Bush

Saturday, May 20, 2006

STATEMENT FROM DEMOCRATIC WHIP STENY H. HOYER (D-MD).........................


Hoyer: House Republicans Slash Military Funding, Even as They Provide Huge Tax Cuts to the Wealthy

"This vote is the Result of the Republicans' Misguided Budget Priorities," says Democratic Whip

WASHINGTON, D.C.---House Democratic Whip Steny H. Hoyer (MD) released the following statement today after Republican Members struck more than $500M in critical funding from the Military Quality of Life and Veterans Affairs Appropriations Act for Fiscal Year 2007. The funding that was struck from the bill was specifically requested by President Bush:


"The Republican Party is at war with itself, and today the men and women in the United States military unfortunately were caught in the crossfire.

"Less than 48 hours ago, House Republicans passed a budget that betrays our nation's values and fails to meet our priorities. For example, the Republican budget---at a time of record deficits and exploding national debt---calls for an additional $228B in tax cuts over five years while under-funding crucial priorities such as military construction.

"In an attempt to address this matter, President Bush specifically requested an additional $507M for military construction and that funding was designated as an 'emergency' so that it could not count against the spending caps in the Republican budget that passed early Thursday morning. Today, $507M---which was requested by the President to support our troops---was struck from the Military Quality of Life and Veterans Affairs Appropriations Act by Members of the President's own party.

"This entire episode is the direct result of the Republican Party's irresponsible economic policies, which put tax cuts above all other national priorities---even our men and women in uniform and our national security. The Republican Party, after adding more than $3T to the national debt over the last 64 months, still clings to the reckless and discredited notion that we do not have to pay for what we buy. Today, it is the United States military that paid the price for the Republican Party's midguided priorities."


Source: Office of House Democratic Whip
Rep. Steny H. Hoyer
May 19, 2006

*These people need to be taken out of office! This is not the way to support our troops! This President is taking from the poor and giving to the rich! This is not a man with any kind of "christian morals." He is a phoney and I was able to see right through him since the day he got into office. It's just a shame that he was able to put over on the people for such a long time! Now we know what the Republicans are "truly" like! This is not the way to treat our troops. Hasn't he taken enough away from them?

I don't care if you Bush supporters out there don't care for what I have to say. You can leave all of the messages that you want and I'm not going to care. Epecially the ones that are in my computer watching everything that I have to say! Get over it! Nobody but people who are just like this administration, like them and their congressional puppets anymore. And from what I see, you are not even his base anymore!

Source: ME
May 20, 2006
PELOSI: REPUBLICAN BUDGET HURTS OUR TROOPS...............................................


Washington, D.C.---House Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi released the following statement today on a procedural motion offered by Republican Members that cut $507M for military construction projects from the Military Quality of Life and Veterans Affairs Appropriations Act:

"Once again, it is clear that the failed budgetary policies and misplaced priorities of Republicans are hurting our troops and our veterans.

"House Republicans today cut vital funding for militry construction projects, including training facilities for the Army National Guard and the Army Reserve. Democrats offered a solution to simply pay for these crucial projects by scaling back tax cuts for millionaires, but it was defeated by Republicans on a party-line vote.

"I urge my Republican colleagues to join Democrats in our commitment to our veterans and troops, and ensure that their needs are not sacrificed because of tax breaks given to the wealthiest Americans."


*Source: News From House Democrtaic Leader
Nancy Pelosi
May 19, 2006

*It is quite obvious that this president and his Republican puppets give two hoots about what happens to our troops and I don't care what kind of come-back you Republican operatives have to say to me. The troops and veterans deserve everything they can get for putting up with a war that shouldn't be happening in the first place! The rich already have everything they need to live in the life of luxury. This is the president and the congress of the wealthy!

REP. EDWARDS' STATEMENT ON CUTS TO MILITARY QUALITY OF LIFE ..............


(WASHINGTON, DC)---U.S. Representative Chet Edwrads (D-TX) released the following statement after deep cuts were made to vital military programs under the 2007 Military Quality of Life and Veterans Affairs Appropriations bill.

"This sends a terrible message to our troops here at home, in Iraq and Afghanastan that this Congress would cut $507M in vital military construction projects and $735M from military healthcare in order to pay for the tax cuts they passed just a few days ago," said Edwards, ranking member of the Military Quality of Life and Veterans Affairs Appropriations Subcommittee. "This is a shameful process and I understand why the American people hold this Republican Congress in low esteem."


*Source: News Release from the Office of Chet Edwards
May 19, 2006
IRAQ IS DISINTEGRATING AS ETHNIC CLEANSING TAKES HOLD..........................

Across central Iraq, there is an exodus of people fleeing for their lives as sectarian assassins and death squads hunt them down. At ground level, Iraq is disintegrating as ethnic cleansing takes hold on a massive scale.

The state of Iraq now resembles Bosnia at the height of the fighting in the 1990s when each community fled to places where its members were a majority and were able to defend themselves. "Be gone by evening prayers or we will kill you," warned one of four men who called at the house of Leila Mohammed, a pregnant mother of three children in the city of Baquba, in Diyala province north-east of Baghdad. He offered chocolate to one of her children to try to find out the names of the men in the family.

Mrs. Mohammed is a Kurd and a Shia in Baquba, which has a majority of Sunni-Arabs. He husband, Ahmed, who traded fruit in the local market, said: "They threatened the Kurds and the Shia and told them to get out. Later I went back to try to get our furniture but there was too much shooting and I was trapped in our house. I came away with nothing." He and his wife now live with nine other relatives in a three-room hovel in Khanaqin.

The same pattern of intimidation, flight and death is being repeated in mixed provinces all over Iraq. By now Iraqis do not have to be reminded of the consequences of ignoring threats.

In Baquba, with a population of 350,000, gunmen ordered people off a bus, seperated the men from the women and shot dead 11 of them. Not far away police found the mutilated body of a kidnapped six-year-old boy for whom a ranson had not already been paid.

The sectarian warfare in Baghdad is sparsely reported but the provinces around the capital are now so dangerous for reporters that they seldom, if ever, go there, except as embeds of US troops. Two months ago in Mosul, I met an Iraqi army captain from Diyala, who said Sunni and Shia were slaughtering each other in his home province. "Whoever is a minority runs," he said. "If forces are more equal they fight it out."

It was impossible to travel to Baquba, the capital of Diyala, from Baghdad without extreme danger of being killed on the road. But I thought that if I took the road from Kurdistan leading south, kept close to the Iranian border and stayed in Kurdish-controlled territory I could reach Khanaquin, a town of 75,000 people in eastern Diyala. If what the army captain said about the killings and mass flight was true there were bound to be refugees who had reached there.

I thought it was too dangerous to go beyond the town into the Arab part of Diyala province, once famous for its fruit, since it is largely under insurgent control. But, as I had hoped, it was possible to talk to Kurds who sought refuge in Khanaquin over the past month.

Salam Hussein Rostam, a police lieutenant in charge of registering and investigating people arriving in terror from all over Iraq, gestured to an enormous file of paper beside him. "I've received 200 families recently, most of them in the last week," he said. This means that about one thousand people have sought refuge in one small town. Lt. Rostam said that the refugees were coming from all over Iraq. In some cases they had left not because they were threatened with death but because they were fired from their jobs for belonging to the wrong community. "I know of two health workers from Baghdad who were sacked simply because they were Kurds and not Shia," he said.

This was simply because the Health Ministry in Baghdad is controlled by the party of Muqtada al-Sadr, the Shia cleric.

The flight of the middle class started about six months after the invasion in 2003 as it became clear Iraq was becoming more, not less, violent. They moved to Jordan, Syria and Egypt. The suicide bombing campaign was largely directed against Shias who only began to retaliate after they had taken over the government in May last year. Interior Ministry forces arrested, tortured and killed Sunnis.

But a decisive step towards sectarian civil war took place when the Shia Al-Askari shrine in Samarra was blown up on 22 February this year. Some 1,300 Sunnis were killed in retaliation.

Kadm Darwish Ali, policeman from Baquba and also a refugee, said: "Everything got worse after Samarra. I had been threatened with death before but now I felt every time I appeared in the street I was likely to die."

Every community has its own atrocity stories. The cousin of a friend was a Sunni Arab who worked in the wholly Shia district of Qadamiyah in west Baghdad. One day last month, he disappeared. Three days later his body was discovered on a rubbish dump in another Shia district. "His face was so badly mutilated, said my friend, that "we only knew it was him by a wart on his arm."

Since the destruction of the mosque in Samarra sectarian warfare has broken out in every Iraqi city where there is a mixed population. In many cases the minority is too small to stand and fight. Sunnis have been fleeing Basra after a series of killings. Christians are being eliminated in Mosul in the north. Shias are being killed or driven out of cities and towns north of Baghdad such as Baquba or Samarra itslef.

Dujail, 40 miles north of Baghdad, is the Shia village where Saddam Hussein carrying out a judicial massacre, killing 148 people after an attempt to assassinate him in 1982. He is on trial for the killings. The villagers are now paying a terrible price for giving evidence t his trial.

In the past few months Sunni insurgents have been stopping them at an improvised checkpoint on the road to Baghdad. Masked gunmen glance at their identity cards and if under place of birth is written "Dujail" they kill them. So far 20 villagers have been murdered and 20 have disappeared.


Source: The Independent
By: Patrick Cockburn in Khanaqin, North-East Iraq
May 20, 2006

BUSH USES FDA TO SHIELD BIG PHARMA FROM LAWSUITS---PART I...................


In January 2006, the FDA announced the Bush administration's latest gift to Big Pharma in a statement that said people who believe they have been injured by drugs approved by the FDA should not be allowed to sue drug companies in state courts.

"We think that if your company complies with the FDA procesess, if you bring forward the benefits and risks of your drugs, and let your information be judged through a process with highly trained scientists, you should not be second-guessed by state courts that don't have the same scientific knowledge," said Scott Gottlieb, the FDA's deputy commissioner for medical and scientific affairs.

To soften the blow, the agency's claim of federal preemption was included as a preamble to the long sought after new drug labeling guidelines. In response to the FDA's statement, Senator Edward Kennedy (D-MA) issued a statement of his own that said: "It's a typical abuse by the Bush Administration---take a regulation to improve the information that doctors and patients receive about prescription drugs and turn it into a protection against liability for the drug industry."

The plot was already recognized by state lawmakers and trial lawyers as another ploy to reduce the public's ability to hold Big Pharma accountable. "Eliminating the rights of individuals to hold negligent companies accountable puts patients in even more danger than they already are in from drug company executives that put profits before safety," said Ken Suggs, president of the Association of Trial Lawyers of America,

"The fact that the drug industry can get the FDA to rewrite the rules so that CEO's can escape accountability for putting dangerous and deadly drugs on the market is the scariest example yet of how much contol these big corporations have over our political process," Mr. Suggs told the Washington Post.

According to Attorney Mark Labaton, a partner at the firm Kreindler & Kreindler, LLP, with offices in New York and LA, 'the Administration's recent efforts to misuse federal rulemaking in the pharmaceutical and other areas to eviserate consumer rights is a big step backward."

"The new FDA rules to limit consumers' rights," he says, "are part and parcel of a larger effort to deny persons injured by unsafe products---be they drugs, cigarettes or automobiles--- any form of redress."

"Clearly," Mr. Labaton notes, "this Administrtion and its supporters want to slam the courthouse doors on working men and women injured by unsafe products."

He says it's ironic the "an Administrative that calls itself "compassionate" and "conservative" consistently turns its back on "limited government" and "state's rights" when it comes to protecting the rights of seriously injured consumers."

Upon learning of the FDA's power grab, the National Conference of State Legislatures, a bipartisan group that represents state lawmakers, accused the FDA of trying to seize authority that it did not have. The organization bases its opposition, in part on the following:

"FDA has usurped the authority of Congress, state legislatures and state courts. There is no statutory authority in the FDCA for FDA to preempt state product liability laws as they relate to prescription drugs.

"Instead of seeking valid congressional authority, unelected agency officials are seeking to preempt state product liability laws by writing this preemption into a final rule, thereby undermining state policy and judicial decision made in this area.

"State tort laws and civil justice systems serve as an important check on federal standards. Our civil justice system establishes a duty of care that protects citizens when the federal government is too slow to act or when federal standards are insufficient. States have the ability to achieve greater protections for their citizens through successful product liability lawsuits."

In an earlier gift delivered to Big Pharma in December 2005, Republicans leaders, and specifically Senator Bill Frist (R-TN), attached protective provisions to a Department of Defense appropriations report that gave the industry "unprecedented immunity," according to Democratic lawmakers who described the underhanded move as follows:

"Republican leaders added provisions to the conference report after cutting a back-room deal in the middle of the night. The conference report grants sweeping immunity to drug companies for injuries caused by vaccines and drugs and for the administration of those vaccine and drugs, even if they are made with flarant disregard for basic safety precautions.

"Moreover, the compensation program is a sham, leaving people who become injured from a drug or vaccine without recourse."

Since 2002, Senator Frist had tried numerous times to insert this rider in Homeland Security Bills after thousands of lawsuits were filed by parents who believe the mercury-based preservative thimerosal, contained in childhood vaccines until recently, caused autism and other neurologocal disorders in their kids.

The rider could save Big Pharma hundreds of millions, if not billions of dollars.


The latest revelation of this little stunt came on May 8, 2006 when the Tennessean reported that vaccine industy officials helped shape legislation behind the scenes that Frist secretly amended into a bill, according to e-mails obtained by Public Citizen, a public advocacy group.

The industry group, called the Biotechnology Industry Organization, wanted the vaccine liability language in the bill, the e-mails proves

"At Senator Frist's staff's request, this morning, BIO (Tom and I) participated in a meeting with three other industry represntatives (Sanofi and an outside counsel who works for both Pfizer and Roche, I believe), administration staff (HHS, DoJ and WH Leg Affairs), and Liz Hall to further discuss liability," BIO official Dave Boyer wrote in a November e-mail obtained by Public Citizen.

Other E-mails and documents show that BIO met privately with Frist's staff and the White House to figure out ways to give drug makers protection from people injured by vaccines.

"The lack of any restriction on jury trial is problematic," the BIO analysis said. "Where injured parties have no further avenue for relief, juries are likely to find ways to award damages."

In another e-mail, Boyer described a meeting in which Karl Rove said it was "important to the President that a bill move this year," and said "they have invited industry to discuss what they understood to be a few key remaining points" of contention.

Republican members of Congress had tried to on several occasions to enact similar legislation of its own, but with voters already so angry over soaring drug costs, they finally had to back off.

With less than 3 years left in office, and the Democrats positioned to take over Congress in the fall elections, Bush had to find a way to repay Big Pharma so he came up with the bright idea to utilize the FDA and kill 2 birds with one stone.

This route would spare Republicans the task of trying to pass pro-industry legislation in an election year and still reward Big Pharma for the more than $80M that Republicans received from drug makers over the past decade.

Since 2000, the top drug corporations, their trade group, and their employees gave more than $10M to 527 organizations, tax-exempt political committees which operate in the grey area between federal and state campaign finance laws, according to Drug Lobby Second to None, July 7, 2005, M. Asif Ismail.

Nearly $87M of the contributions went to federal politicians, with almost 69% going to the Republicans. Top recipients include Bush, with upwards of $1.5M, and members who sit on committees that have jurisdiction over pharmaceutical issues, reports Drug Lobby Second to None.

During Bush's campaign's, 21 pharmaceutical industry executives and lobbyists achieved "Ranger" or "Pioneer" status, which means they raised at least $200,000 or $100,000, respectively, during the 2000 and 2004 campaigns.

According to Public Citizen, the group included 5 executives from brand-name drug companies, 6 officials from HMO's, the CEO of a pharmacy services company that runs a PBM, the head of a direct-mail pharmacy, and 8 Washington lobbyists who represent drug companies and HMO's.

Frist is never shy when it comes to calling in markers from drug companies. In November 2004, when he wanted to take a victory tour celebrating the newly elected Republican senators, "A Gulfstream corporate jet owned by drug maker Schering-Plough was ready to zip the Senate majority leader to stops in Florida, Georgia and the Carolinas," according to the April 25, 2005 USA Today.

Frist's PAC reimbursed Schering $10,809, the equivlent of a commercial first-class fare, but that was only a fraction of the cost of a charter flight, which would have cost 3 times that much. Besides, the cost was almost a wash because Schering had donated $10,000 to Frist's committee in 2003-04, according to USA Today.

It was worth pointing out that Big Pharma was the largest contributor to the National Republican Senatorial Campaign Committee while Frist chaired the Committee.

The ever-growing number of lawsuits in state courts has created a nagging fear in drug makers. Local juries and elected judges in state courts are much more likely to go against drug giants than juries and appointed judges in federal courts which is a one of the main reasons why Big Pharma wants all cases moved to federal courts.

End of Part I...............................................


Source: OpEdNEWS
Story By: Evelyn Pringle
May 13, 2006

*Evelyn Pringle is a columnist for OpEd News and investigative journalist focused on exposing corruption in government and corporate America.

THE REPUBLICAN RECORD: BREAKING FAITH WITH AMERICA'S VETERANS.......


In 2001 the President appointed a Task Force to examine veterans health care. Among the recommendations was that a mechanism should be found to remove funding for those programs from the annual appropriations process and that an assured funding model be established. The President ignored the recommendations of his own Task Force and, in January 2003 instituted "temporary" measures to exclude some "high income" (above $27,000 or in some cases less, per year for a family of four) from veterans' medical benefits. Based on this policy, more than 600,000 veterans were denied health care, some 262,000 in 2005 alone.

The President rejected this recommendation by his own task force and embarked upon a policy of under-funding, deception and incompetence that has denied veterans the health care they deserve and have earned. This paper will detail the many ways the Bush Administration has broken faith with American's veterans. A subsequent paper will offer suggestions to correct this unacceptable situation.


CHRONIC UNDER-FUNDING

Of the 24 + million American military veterans, the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) estimates that in FY2006 over 7.5 million will be enrolled in VA medical care programs and 5.4 million individual veterans will be treated. That represents a 48% increase in enrollments, a 28% increase in patient load and a 42% increase in appropriated funding (not including inflation, user fees and third-party collections) since FY2002, the first Bush administration budget. But this apparent increase in spending does not account for medical cost inflation that, at a modest 5% per year, makes the apparent increase vanish. Even these numbers were only reached because the Congress doubled the increases requested in the Bush budgets.


MISREPRESENTING THE NUMBERS

The deceptive use of numbers is best illustrated in the FY2007 budget submission. The Bush Administration touts its $3.5B FY2007 increase as the largest percentage increase in history. But this increase is all smoke and mirrors. Deduct mandatory salary and other increases ($1.2B), requested in user fees and co-payments, rejected by Congress the past four years ($800M), overstated third-party collections ($500M) and phantom "management savings" ($1.08M) and the increase disappears.


COOKING THE NUMBERS

A scathing General Accountability Office (GAO) report (GOA-06-359R, dated February 6, 2006) shows how deceptive the "management savings" estimates are. The report stated that the VA had no methodology to determine or track any such savings. The GAO also alleged that the VA overestimated third-party collections. Indeed, the GAO contends that the methodology of the VA was to determine the level of funding needed, compare it to the level of funding the administration was willing to provide and then bridge the gap by claiming "management savings" and increases in user fees and third-party payments. When these fail to materialize, programs and services must be cut to meet the shortfall.


A BLEAK FUTURE FOR VETERAN'S HEALTH CARE

The Bush five-year (FY2007-2011) budget projections call for accelerated under funding of the VA. After the increase in FY2007, the plan calls for the VA spending "to decline" through by $2.7B through 2010 before rising a paltry $200M in 2011. The Congressional Budget office estimates that this results in an $8.6B short fall over this period. There is also the specter of the recommendations of the Veterans Disability Benefits Commission that will be made public later this yer. There is an expectation that its recommendations will call for significant reductions in disabled veterans' benefits.


ESTIMATES OF CONVENIENCE

The Administration estimates a 145,000 decline in treatment patients from FY2006 to FY2007. How can this be? The answer is that this is the number of patients estimated to be unable to afford increased enrollment fees and prescription drug co-payments and will therefore be forced to drop out of the VA system! Congress has not approved these user fee increases. The VA routinely uses faulty estimates to reduce budget requests. For example, in the summer of 2005, after months of denial and deception, the VA was forced to admit that it faced a $1.0B shortfall in the current fiscal year. This shortfall was based on faulty estimates based on 2002 (pre-war) projections. As noted above, faulty estimates characterized both "management savings" and third-party payments. As will be seen below, the mental health toll from the war in Afghanastan and the invasion and occupation of Iraq were also underestimated---or misrepresented.


THE IMPACT: CURTAILED SERVICES

In addition to the denial of service to over 600,000 veterans, other services have been delayed or denied. VA data show that the number of new (mostly Iraq and Afghanastan) veterans who are wanting to schedule their first VA appointment has increased from 15,211 to 30,475 between April 2005 and April 2006. This marks the second year this waiting line has doubled. The number of staff at VA regional benefits offices has declined from 7,053 at the end of FY2002 to 6,880 at the beginning of this fiscal year. The FY2007 budget is to add 130, almost reaching the level of 5 years ago. Largely because of the current conflicts, nearly 50,000 more claims were filed in 2005 than 2002. Backlogs have increased and more veterans are waiting more than six months for a decision on their claims. As of January 21, 2006 more than 500,000 claimants were waiting a decision including 368,000 who were seeking a decision on disability. In addition, some 151,000 veterans were awaiting decisions on their appeals.


THE IMPACT: UNMET MENTAL HEALTH NEEDS

Mental Health care, especially Post-traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) is a particular problem. Of the 140,000 + returning veterans who sought VA treatment, approximately 3 in 10 were diagnosed with mental health problems and half of those were diagnosed with PTSD. According to the VA's own national advisory board on PTSD in a report released in February 2006:

"The VA cannot meet the ongoing needs of veterans of past deployments while also reaching out to new combat veterans of [Iraq and Afghanastan] and their families within current resources and current models of treatment."

The report also found that a returning war veteran suffering with emotional maladies now has to wait an average of 60 days before he or she can even be evaluated for diagnosis, let alone treated. 42% of VA primary care clinics had no mental-health staff members and 53% of those that did only had one. 82% of new patients needed to be in the most intensive PTSD treatment programs, the VA report found, but 40% of those programs were already so full that they could only take a few more patients; 20% said they were too full to take any at all. In one case the VA hospital saw mental health demand grow from 9 in FY2004 to 58 in FY2005 and to 72 "in the first quarter" of FY2006. And for various reasons of shame or fear, nearly two-thirds of returning veterans who screened for mental health problems are not receiving treatment. With 1.3 million service men and women now having served in the war zones, there is a mental health hurricane coming and the administration is as unprepared as it was for "Katrina."


THE IMPACT: DENIAL

In addition to being unprepared for the PTSD crisis, the VA has questioned the prevalence of PTSD dagnosis, including launching abortive plans to review thousands of previous PTSD awards. There is a long sad history of the VA and the Pentagon ignoring and denying veterans health problems. It took years to get compensation for veterans exposed to nuclear tests in the 1950's and Agent Orange in Vietnam. The VA did not acknowledge PTSD until 1985, long after it became an accepted mental health diagnosis. Today the Pentagon and the VA are downplaying the effects of the use of depleted uranium in the Gulf War and the current conditions despite persistent and widespread reports by reputable, independent researchers and health professionals of the health hazards.


CONCLUSION

In addition to creative accounting to overstate the resources being given to the VA health care system, the VA continues to underestimate future demand. In addition to increases from the current conflicts, the demand on VA resources is growing from older veterans. Some of this is due to aging, some to the emergence of past problems such as Agent Orange and DU, and some from being no longer able to afford health insurance. The longer the Bush Administration and congress continue to avoid the reality of the situation, the more veterans will be short-changed and the more difficult it will be to correct their mistakes by a future administration that understands that "support the troops" is a hollow phrase unless it is accompanied by support for their needs when they become veterans. IT MAY WELL BE THAT THE CRISIS IN VETERANS' HEALTH CARE, LIKE IRAQ AND THE BUDGET CRISIS WILL HAVE TO AWAIT A NEW ADMINISTRATION OR A NEW CONGRESS.


Source: Tom Manatos
Advisor to the Leader
House Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi
May 2006



BUSH CONDEMNS MILLIONS OF AMERICANS TO CHRONIC DISABILITY...............


N.A.M.I. WARNS CONGRESS ON N.I.M.H. BUDGET CUTS; RESEARCH 'VITALLY IMPORTANT' TO THIRD-GENERATION MEDICINES AND RECOVERY

WASHINGTON---The president of the National Alliance on Mental Health Illness today warned Congress that President Bush's proposed $9 million cut in the National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH) budget will erode progress in finding new treatments for schizophrenia, bipolar disorder, and major depression---condemning millions of Americans to chronic disability.

Dr. Suzanne Vogel-Scibilia, NAMI board president, a practicing psychiatrist, and a person living with bipolar disorder, told a Senate appropriations subcommittee that she herself has had periods of severe illness, including catatonic episodes and three suicide attempts.

"Due to aggressive treatment and social supports I am living a full life. I am thankful," she said. "But many people in our country have not yet achieved recovery."

"If Congress cuts funding to NIMH as the President has suggested we will continue to have millions ofpeople in this country with chronic disability and a $40B loss in economic productivity for schizophrenia alone."

Because of past doubling of NIMH's research budget, NAMI testified, the agency has been able to sponsor "vitally important real world trials" that are creating opportunities to define individualized treatment strategies and future medication options---as well as laying a foundation for "third generation" medications that will not be realized without further support from the federal government.

In addition, Vogel-Scibilia noted:

* "Genome studies for serious mental illness that could transform understanding of the causes and risk factors for these devastating illnesses and open new avenues for effective treatment will collapse without adequate funding."

* "We will be unable to advance schizophrenia and bipolar research progress. One example is understanding if early intervention with medication, therapy and rehabilitation will prevent disability or morbidity in persons with new inset schizophrenia."

* "Lastly, we will be unable to address and prevent the epidemic of suicde in this country including a substantial number of our young people."

With 1,100 state and local affiliates, NAMI is the nation's largest grassroots organization dedicated to improving the lives of adults and children with mental illnesses.


Source: Press Release Newswire
Financial News
May 19, 2006


TRAUMA TAKES ITS TOLL...........................................................................................


More than 50 Australian soldiers have been discharged for mental health reasons after serving in Iraq.

While Australia's official casualty list from the war on terror remains small compared with other coalition nations, the high rate mental ilness among those who have served is fast emerging as a serious concern for the defence forces.

About 6,000 troops have served in Iraq since the US-led invasion in 2003, and 52 have since been discharged with mental conditions ranging from anxiety and depression to post-traumatic stress disorder.

Veteran's Affairs Minister Bruce Billson confirmed the issue was of "great priority" to the Government, which will soon have almost 2,000 troops on overseas deployment.

Mr. Billson said the Government and the Australian Defence Force were reviewing whether support offered to veterans was adequate given the "worrying proportion" of them being diagnosed with mental conditions. He blamed the changing nature of peacekeeping operations that Australia wa taking part in.

"Success in fighting mental health problems is not as great as we would hope but we are learning more every day," Mr. Billson said.

"It is an issue of great priority."

The issue really hits home for Gordon Traill, who capped off nearly three decades in the army with a stint in Iraq with the 5/7 Battalion of the Royal Australian Regiment security detachment in Baghdad's infamous red zone in 2003.

Two years later he was medically discharged suffering PTSD.

"I have no idea how what happened in Iraq did this to me, but I am not the same person I was before I went over," Mr. Traill said.

"It just comes up and smacks you on the back of the head and you do get damn angry out it."

"We lived, slept and breathed a highly stressful environment for six month. When I returned to Australia I was driving down the road looking for the bad guys---you start to realise how close to death you were."

Peacekeepers and Peacemakers Association president Paul Copeland said the active nature of the defence force was partially to blame for the increase in mental illness.

Mr. Copeland said some soldiers had toured six times since 1999, and he warned problems would skyrocket if mandatory minimum breaks were not enforced.

"The number is very high and multiple deployments are compounding stresses," he said.

ADF Chief psychologist Len Lambeth said the military "would be silly" to expet every soldier deployed to return home perfectly well.

He said the rate of mental illness would be unlikely to decrease.


Source: The Courier Mail
Story By: Jason Gregory
May 20, 2006