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Author: TriSec    Date: 11/24/2015 11:09:07

Good Morning.

We'll start today right in my own backyard. We've been keeping tabs on the ongoing VA care crisis for a while here at AAV. Most of the trouble seemed to have started out in Arizona, but no place in the country is immune from the problems. Our local TV station of record (WCVB, Channel 5) has uncovered some disturbing issues right here in Boston.



BOSTON —It's a place many homeless veterans turn to for much-needed services, shelter and a safe place to live. But some veterans tell 5 Investigates that they believe the center that has millions in the bank is leaving our soldiers behind.

In the shadows of Boston City Hall, you'll find some of our most vulnerable veterans seeking shelter at the New England Center for Homeless Veterans, where they promise the men and women who served our country a safe and warm place to stay.

"None of that has come true," said Steve Kelly, an Army veteran who has been renting a room at the center for four years.

5 Investigates took a look at city records from the past two and a half years and found there have been hundreds of calls to Boston police for problems including illegal drugs, assaults and illegal firearms.

And there have been more than 400 emergency medical calls from the center in the last year, according to the Boston Public Health Commission.

In addition, pest control reports from May to October show the center is infested with bedbugs. There are also roaches in the kitchen, rats in the basement, and mice.

"Many, many veterans who really need help do not go there because the conditions are so bad," Kelly said.

Andrew McCawley is the CEO of the center, which offers shelter to veterans but also other services, including employment assistance and substance abuse counseling.

"If you look at the general condition of our living areas you will see that they're not luxurious, they're not palatial, but I think they meet standards of sanitation," McCawley said.

Asked about veterans who told 5 Investigates they don't want to come to the center at night because of the conditions there, but it's their only option, McCawley said: "We certainly are very concerned about the services and the living conditions and the support we can provide veterans."

One veteran showed us welts and scars all over his arms and legs. He said they were from bedbug bites he received in the shelter.

"I itch all over. It's a constant struggle," said the veteran, who asked us to protect his identity for fear he would be kicked out of the center.

Others veterans we spoke with sent video and photos showing a cockroach climbing a wall and dirty, ripped mattresses.

"I just believe these men and women put their lives on the line for America, for freedom and they deserve much better than the conditions we're in right now," he said.

5 Investigates also discovered 32 men who live or work at the veterans shelter are registered sex offenders, most of them Level 3s, who are considered the most likely to re-offend.


That's here on our side of the pond, after the fact. We'll take a leap right into the former theater of operations in Iraq, where what we left behind is faring no better. The war there has never truly ended, and among the things they are dealing with is a crushed medical system. There is now a cholera outbreak in Iraq, and the WHO is afraid it may spread wider before it subsides.


[BAGHDAD] UN agencies have expressed concern about a cholera outbreak in Iraq spreading across the region.

Cases of the waterborne disease surged in Iraq late last month, and have been confirmed in nearby including Bahrain and Kuwait.

“We expect an increase in the rate of infections [beyond] the officially declared figures as a result of the deteriorating security situation in Iraq,” Rana Sidani, a spokeswoman for the World Health Organization’s Eastern Mediterranean office, tells SciDev.Net.

As of 9 November, the Iraqi Ministry of Health said there had been more than 2,000 cases of cholera since September, distributed in 15 of the country’s 18 governorates. Heavy rain in the weeks before caused drainage systems to overflow, contaminating wells and the Euphrates River with wastewater.

In neighbouring Kuwait, the ministry of health confirmed five cholera cases as of 5 October, while in Bahrain, the government has reported 55 suspected cases, seven of which have been confirmed by lab tests.

“We are following up with concerned officials in the World Health Organization on the spread of epidemics in [nearby] countries,” says Mariam Al Hajri, director of the department of public health in the Bahraini Ministry of Health.

Al Hajri says the government is setting up a surveillance system, complete with laboratory testing to detect cases early. “We also work to educate travellers on disease prevention methods,” she adds.

But Ahmed Rudaini, a spokesman for the Iraqi health ministry, says: “It is not confirmed that the epidemic was transmitted from Iraq to neighbouring countries.”

Millions of international pilgrims are expected to flock to the Iraqi city of Karbala early next month to commemorate the Arbaeen, a Shia Muslim ceremony marking the end of 40 days of mourning for the grandson of the Prophet Mohammed.

Jeffrey Bates, chief of communications and strategic partnerships for Unicef (the UN’s Children’s Fund) in Iraq, says this is a concern. No restrictions have been put on international travel in relation to the outbreak, he says, but the best solution is to eliminate the disease at its source.


We'll stay in the region, and take a look at some of the fighters in the ongoing warron terra. While the focus is on Syria these days, and their pathways to the West, an oft-overlooked component of the fray is the number of ordinary civilians headed in the other direction. There may be upward of 30,000 volunteers (if the report is to be believed) that have traveled from Europe and particularly Turkey to fight for ISIS and others in their Jihad.


Up to 30,000 foreign fighters from as many as 100 countries have travelled to Syria and Iraq since 2011, according to an independent analysis.

Half came from neighbouring countries and north Africa, and a quarter from Europe and Turkey, says the Global Terrorism Index, drawn up by the Institute for Economics and Peace (IEP) thinktank.

The flow of foreign fighters does not appear to be diminishing, with more than 7,000 arriving in the first six months of 2015.

Terrorism claimed the lives of 32,658 people last year, an 80% increase on 2013, it says. It calculates that the total economic cost amounted to an all-time high of $52.9bn (£34.8bn) last year.

Isis and Boko Haram were together responsible for 51% of all claimed terror-related fatalities in 2014, the analysis finds. Iraq continued to be the country most affected by terrorism, with 9,929 fatalities, the highest ever recorded in a single country.

IEP described Isis as “effectively acting as a state”, raising funds through a taxation system estimated to be worth $11m a month and oil sales which are estimated to exceed $500m a year.

Nigeria experienced the largest increase in the number of terrorist attacks and lost 7,512 lives in 2014, an increase of more than 300% since 2013.

Seventy-eight per cent of all deaths and 57% of all attacks around the world occurred in five countries: Afghanistan, Iraq, Nigeria, Pakistan and Syria, according to the survey.

The report said it was important to place the figures in context with other forms of violence. At least 437,000 people are murdered each year, more than 13 times the number of victims of terrorism.


And somewhat randomly, we'll finish today with this week's Cost of War, which we find passing through:

$ 1, 653, 398, 900, 000 .00


But gas is expected to be under $2.00 a gallon just in time for Thanksgiving!

(Speaking of which, stay safe if you're traveling!)

17 comments (Latest Comment: 11/24/2015 20:08:25 by trojanrabbit)
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