Janet's Conner

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

Friday, September 01, 2006


Several of Iraq's leading booksellers and writers burned a pyre of books today to denounce a curfew which they said has turned the centre of Baghdad's intellectual life into "a street of ghosts."

News dot com dot au
September 1, 2006
Article from: Agence France-Presse

In a demonstration dubbed the "Fires of Al-Mutanabi," authors and publishers denounced a weekly four-hour travel ban during Friday prayers in the war-torn Iraqi capital, which they said was stifling an important cultural centre.

Iraqi police enforce the ban to protect Sunni and Shiite worshippers from sectarian attacks, but the restrictions have a a knock-on effect on many of the other things Baghdadis once did on their weekly day of rest.

"Al-Mutanabi Street is the bread and butter of every cultured man. The curfew on Friday stops many Iraqis flocking to this place," Naim al-Shatri, the owner of the oldest bookshop in the street, said.

"It has become a street of ghosts."

Iraqi intellectuals regard Al-Mutanabi as one of the most important centres in the literary world.

It is home to two important colleges, the historic Prince Saada al-Rasaeli and Rabat Arjuwan schools, and locals boast the area has an intellectual pedigree dating back 1000 years to the Abbasid Dynasty.

The district became a haunt for European orientalists like Louis Massignon and Jacques Berque, as well as major Arab writers such as Mohammed Al-Fitori.

Al-Mutanabi street was itself opened in 1932 by King Faisal II, and is named after the renowned Arab poet Abu Taib al-Mutanabi.

In the past 15 years, despite the war, economic sanctions and political repression---the street became a gathering place for artists and writers, according to cinema critic and screenwriter Kadhim Rashhed Salum.

"We hope the policy makers lift the curfew which has killed our weekly rituals in this street and stopped students hunting for books," he said, lamenting the demise of a weekly auction of rare and valuable works.

Iraqi writer Sadun Hlayil said Friday was now "sorrowful for readers."


Says the VA is in "terrific" condition.

While the Secretary is correct about the VA being the best healthcare system in the nation...he continues to disregard the mounting problems facing veterans' healthcare.

Understaffing fueled by chronic underfunding leads to long waiting lists for many essential services.

While Nicholson can brag about the huge increases in the VA budget...it has not kept up the demand for healthcare services by veterans.

The only solution is Full and Mandatory Funding for VA healthcare...something the American Legion supports, in theory.

However, the Legion will not confront Nicholson on this issue and allows him to spout out his "good news" talking points without ever taking him to task.

The Legion should be demanding accountability from Secretary Nicholson. But, it is not.

The American Legion has become a "paper tiger"...claiming to support its members while allowing do-nothing political appointees, like Nicholson, to systematically undermine veterans' healthcare by not properly funding the VA.

Larry Scott
VA Watchdog dot Org
August 31, 2006

The Salt Lake Tribune
By: Matthew D. LaPlante

The Department of Veterans Affairs is in "terrific" condition, the VA secretary told hundreds of American Legionnaires in Salt Lake City on Wednesday.

James Nicholson said that after long decades of struggles to provide adequate care and benefits for veterans, the VA is getting most things right these days.

Nicholson said the VA medical system "is almost universally recognized as not only the biggest universal medical provider but the best."

He cited advances in research, care and record keeping in the system once routinely mocked by veterans.

Nicholson acknowledged some "challenges," specifically a recent high-profile incident in which a laptop with information about thousands of veterans was stolen.

"But challenges are aslo opportunities," he said. "We need to overhaul the way that we deal with data at the VA."

Nicholson promised to "turn the VA into the gold standard for information technology and data protection."

Jack Kilcrease, who was shot multiple times while fighting in the Vietnam War and has been in the VA medical system ever since, said he agreed that the system has improved drastically in the past several decades.

The Massachusetts resident noted that the once overtaxed system seems to be improving with the passing of World War II veterans.

Nicholson said about 1,800 veterans die each day, most of whom served during World War II.

***It makes you wonder what the hell the leaders of these Veterans Organizations are doing kissing the butts of this administration. They have done nothing to "Support Our Troops" other than saying the words. These VSO's have been doing nothing but writing letters and testifying to the fact that the Bush Administration is taking everything away from veterans that were promised to them. Now, when election time comes around, they are kissing their noses! Make any sense to you. The veterans need to vote these leaders out and really get someone in there that will fight for these veterans. Not only on paper.

Please refer to the following posts: Sept. 1, 2006---The Bush Administration has let down of Veterans and August 20, 2006---Mission Impossible: Supporting Our Troops "AND" Supporting Bush. It's self explanatory!


This week, Vice President Cheney and Defense Secretary Rumsfeld will appear at the 107th annual convention of the Veterans of Foreign Wars in Las Vegas, where Cheney gave the keynote address today. Cheney, Rumsfeld and Veterans Affairs Secretary Jim Nicholson should use their time at the convention to explain why the Bush Administration has slashed veterans' benefits and refused to act swiftly to protect the privacy of their personal information. Bush Republicans in the House of Representatives have also fought Democratic efforts to end an unfair tax that affects 60,000 widows "whose husbands died of causes relating to their military service" and who "lose out on thousands of dollars a year in survivor benefits because of a law that dates from the 1970's." [New York Times, 8/19/06]

"The policies of Vice President Cheney and the Bush Administration have undermined the security of our nation's veterans," said Democratic National Committee Communications Director Karen Finney. "During wartime, when many Americans will join the legion of veterans, it is shameful that the President would double the costs of veterans' prescription drugs and slash spending on hospitals and health care for our brave men and women in uniform. With large numbers of National Guard and Reserve troops serving in Iraq and Afghanastan, there is a real strain being placed on thousands of families across the country. Nevada's 250,000 veterans and the millions more across America deserve more than cheap talk about patriotism and broken promises from the President and Bush Republicans in Congress. Democrats remain committed to our troops, both on the battlefield and when they return home."


Bush Cuts Veterans Health Care Funding by $10 Billion Over Five Years. Over five years, President Bush's 2007 budget cuts funding $10 billion below the level the Congressional Budget Office (CBO) estimates is needed to maintain purchasing power at the 2006 level. Almost all appropriated funding for veterans goes to provide medical care and hospital services. [House Budget Committee, Democratic Staff; 3/21/06]

Bush Planned To Impose New $250 User Fees and Double Prescription Drug Co-Payments For Veterans---Increasing Costs by $2 Billion. For the fouth year in a row, Bush's proposed budget would more than double the co-payment charged to veterans for prescription drugs and would require some to pay a new user fee of $250 a year for health care. Bush would also increase the co-payment for a month's supply of a prescription drug from $7 to $15. Veterans' groups said that at least 200,000 veterans would be driven out of the system entirely, and would cost veterans remaining in the system more than $2 billion over five years. [Budget of the US Government, 2/06; House Budget Committee, Democratic Staff; 3/21/06]

Bush Budget Increased Health Care Tax On Military Retirees. The President's 2007 budget also increases health care enrollment fees and deductions for military retirees under the age of 65, saving $735 million for 2007, and $11.2 billion over five years. Over two years, this proposal triples fees for retired officers and doubles them for senior enlisted retirees. For junior enlisted retirees, fees will increase more than 40% over two years. [Budget of the US Government, 2/06; House Budget Committee, Democratic Staff; 3/21/06]

Bush Budget Refused To End The Disabled Veterans' Tax. The President's Budget fails to repeal the Disabled Veterans Tax, which forces disabled military retirees to give up one dollar of their pension for every dollar of disability pay they receive. The budget continues to require nearly 400,000 military retirees with service-connected disabilities to continue to pay the Disabled Veterans' Tax. [Office of House Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi, 2/06]

Bush Budget Failed To End The Military Families' Tax. The survivor Benefit Plan penalizes survivors, mostly widows, of those killed as a result of combat. These widows lose their survivor benefits if they receive Dependency and Indemnity Compensation benefits because their spouse has died of a service-connected injury. The President's budget forces these 53,000 spouses to continue to pay this unfair tax. [Office of House Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi, 2/06]


Officials Kept Worst Breach of Government Data Ever Secret for 19 Days. According to CNN dot com, "authorities waited almost three weeks to alert the public that personal data on more than 26 million veterans had fallen into the hands of thieves, a government source said Tuesday...The computer disk [that was stolen] contained names, Social Security numbers and birth dates of every living veteran from 1975 to the present." The theft has been described as the worst breach of government data ever. [CNN, 5/23/06; New York Times, 8/6/06]

* Second VA Laptop Missing. "The VA...reported that a desktop computer had disappeared [containing] unencrypted information on up to 38,000 patients at the medical centers, including their names, addresses, Social Security numbers, insurance information and claims data. Local police, VA officials and the FBI were investigating the disappearance, which Unisys had reported to the VA August 3. In recent weeks, the VA has also acknowledged losing sensitive data for more than 16,000 veterans in at least two other cases in Minneapolis and Indianapolis. [Facts of File, 8/10/06; AP, 8/9/06]


52,000 Veterans On Waiting Lists Nationwide; Veterans Groups Believe Number is Understated. As of third quarter 2005, VA reports that 52,000 veterans are waiting to receive care at VA facilities. However, Independent groups believe that "...the accuracy of reported veterans' waiting times and facility wait lists is undermined by variability in VA's compliance with outpatient scheduling procedures." [The Independent Budget, FY2007]

Facilities Are Falling Apart And Veterans Must Wait Months For Appointments. While Nicholson said VA health care has not diminished, critics say otherwise. They point to a system already in disrepair in which veterans must wait months for appointments or surgeries. At the White River Junction VA Medical Center in Vermont, three operating rooms were closed June 27 because of broken heating, ventilation and an air conditioning system that had not been repaired because maintenance funds were used to cover the budget shortfall. San Diego VA Medical Center has delayed filing 113 vacancies on its staff. The VA medical center in Portland, Ore., is delaying nonemergency surgery for at least six months. "Right now, medical facilities are literally falling down around the patients," said Rep. David Obey of Wisconsin. [Navy Times, 7/18/05]


Fighting To Make Health Care Accessible and Affordable for Our Veterans. The war has produced a greater need for veterans' health care. As of December 2005, VA has treated more than 144,000 of the 505,366 veterans of Operation Iraqi Freedom and Enduring Freedom. In 2003, Democrats prevented huge cuts approved by House Republicans. In 2004, Democrats succeeded in forcing a $1 billion increase over the President's request. In 2005, Democrats called for an additional $3 billion over the President's budget and forced the Bush Administration to acknowledge that it had failed to budget for returning veterans. This year, Senate Republicans rejected a Democratic amendment to make veterans care funding mandatory to ensure that the growing health care needs of America's veterans are met. Senate Republicans also rejected a Democratic amendment to add $1.5 billion for VA health care and reject increased fees and copayments for veterans. And House Republicans have denied a fair vote on adding $630 million to provide urgently needed health care for troops returning from Iraq and Afghanastan in the Iraq Supplemental spending bill. [VA, 2/14/06; HRes 95, Vote #82, 3/17/05; Failed 180-242; R 3-218; D 176-24; I-1-0; RC 63, S. Andt. 3141 to Con Res. 83, 45-55, 3/16/06; RC 41, S. Amdt. 3007 to S. Con.Res. 83, 46-54, 3/14/06; HR. 4939, Vote #40, 3/15/2006; Blocked 224-192]

Fighting to Meet Mental Health Needs of Returning Troops. With up to one-third of Iraq war veterans tht may be suffering from some degree of Post-Traumatic Stress Disease, Democrats are fighting to meet the needs of these returning veterans. For example, Democrats sought to provide an additional $500 million per year for the next five years for mental health services for veterans, but Republicans rejected that effort. In the House, Democrats, as part of the New GI Bill of Rights, have proposed to improve mental health support for returning soldiers (HR 1588) through enhanced education and outreach, improved screening, and effective treatment and counseling for veterans and family members. Recognizing their unprecedented sacrifice in the Iraq War, Democrats have fought to extend health care for National Guard and reservists. Republicans have rejected efforts to expand TRICARE eligibility, but Democratic pressure resulted in reservists being able to enroll in TRICARE if they do not have employer-sponsored health insurance, and in reservists being eligible for medical care for 6 months, after being released from active duty. In 2004, Democrats succeeded in providing one year of TRICARE benefits for every 90 days of service for activated Reservists. But we continue to fight to provide full TRICARE benefits to all members of the Guard and Reserve and their families, for an affordable monthly premium. The Senate has passed the critical provision, but the Republicans in the House opposed expanding TRICARE to thousands of National Guard & Reserve volunteers. [UPI, 1/27/06; RC 343, Boxer Amdt. 2634 to S. 2020, 43-55, 11/17/05, S. Amdt. 3258 to S. 2400, 70-25, 7/2/04; RC 81, Lincoln Amdt. to S. Con.Res. 23, 46-51, 3/25/03; HR 1815, Vote 221, 5/25/2005; Failed 211-218; R 9-218; D 201-0; I 1-0]

Fighting Against Increases in Health Care Costs for Military Retirees. The President's 2007 budget increases TRICARE health care premiums for 3-4 million of the nation's military retirees under 65 and their family members. Premiums will double for senior enlisted retirees and triple for officer retirees by 2008 and drug co-payments will increase. A Democratic amendment to the Senate budget resolution allowed for increased funding for retirees TRICARE to be paid for by eliminating certain tax breaks. House Democratic leaders sent a letter urging President Bush to rethink increasing the cost of veterans' health care and Rep. Edwards has introduced legislation to prohibit the increases. [letter, 1/25/06; H.R. 4949; RC 67, S.Amdt. 3143 to S.Con.Res. 83, 46-53, 3/15/06]

www dot democrats dor org
August 30, 2006