Archive | June 2010

Nicaragua proposes similar law to Arizona’s 1070

According to the El Nuevo Diario newspaper an immigration bill similar to Arizona’s 1070 is being reviewed for final approval by the National Assembly in Managua, Nicaragua. The proposed law has sparked controversy and is seen by many as “drastic.” The article from El Nuevo Diario, claims the new immigration law would be dehumanizing leading to the opposition’s argument that illegal migrants would be treated “unjustly” in the poor Central American country.

If the Nicaragua Immigration Law was approved in its current form, Articles 153 to 158 would require every hotel, inn and motel, as well as all modes of public transportation operators would be required to ask for identification from those who request service or they could face prosecution and/or pay a fine.

The coordinator of the Nicaraguan Network of the Migration Civil Society, Heydi Gonzalez pointed out that a person cannot be criminalized for being a migrant without legal documentation. She went on to say that a fine being levied on those without identification is a violation of human rights.

The new Nicaragua immigration law has been approved and will now undergo a study of its details and make sure the portion of the law that imposes fines and possible criminal proceedings against those who provide the service to a migrant without legal papers will not cause undue stress upon the countries legal system.

Included in the law is article 153 which “prohibits the hiring of undocumented workers, or those who, though in legal status, are not authorized to perform work activities.”

Gonzalez explained that “every State has its regulations, and that similar or more stringent criteria of control than those mentioned in the recently approved law exist in the entire Central American region; nevertheless, in Nicaragua, sanctions or fines ought to be imposed only on those who house, transport or hire undocumented aliens when this takes place within the violation of migrant or people trafficking.”

The Migrants Network said the new law “would be a dehumanizing law. Let us imagine that a South American, Asian or African victim of people traffickers was abandoned out in the elements, but no one can provide him humanitarian assistance because it’s prohibited by the law. That’s the risk incurred in this type of regulation. It’s obvious that every country has the right to regulate migratory traffic and to establish requirements, but strict migratory policies and expensive procedures compel people to travel without documentation.”

The Nicaragua Immigration and Alien Law has been pending since 2007 however, recently civil organizations have pressed for its approval. When news came of its approval in principle, the provisions began to be studied and requested the inclusion of human rights elements in the law.

“There are elements that we do not see in this proposal, and I’m unable to perceive that they are meeting the obligation of incorporating human rights elements acknowledged by Nicaragua in international forums in the International Convention for the Protection of Human Rights of All Migrant Workers and their Families, or the Convention 90, ratified by our country in 2005, from which, among other issues, it must present a report of improvements every two years. Something that our government has not done,” Gonzalez finished.

Meanwhile in Arizona residents face many negative problems related to illegal immigration and the state currently faces the wrath of the Obama administration because residents simply want laws in place to be enforced.

With the apparent acquisition of 80 miles inside Arizona’s borders by Mexico one would assume the Obama administration would be much more interested in securing America’s borders than the rights of people who break into the country without regard to U.S. laws.

If the White House was to read the 14th amendment they would find that non-citizens “illegal residents” do not have “due process and equal protection” under the 14th amendment.

Yet the people of Mexico and Central America appear to lay claim to United States residency without regard to law. La Raza and amnesty sympathizers do not appreciate that all countries have a right to determine immigration policies within its borders.

A Wall Street Journal story discusses this very issue. The Japanese government has decided to allow more “middle-class” Chinese to visit where previously they issued visas to only the wealthy Chinese travelers.

The battle for the hearts and minds in American should be at the forefront of Washington D.C. elected officials. When the country is engaged in two wars, one of which is an admitted leading manufacturer of heroin (Afghanistan), the Obama administration should be monitoring the war in Mexico that continues to abide by the rule of the drug cartels, threatens U.S. law enforcement who tries to enforce law inside the U.S. and continues with its practice of eliminating their opponents (elected officials and candidates running for office).

While America has a potential third war in its sights, the President Obama decides to brandish the state of Arizona rather than upholding his sworn duty to protect America from all enemies.

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A swipe of the pen from Obama equals amnesty

Americans are mad. They are mad at the sluggish economy, they are mad at the gulf oil spill and they are mad that President Obama continues to make mistake after mistake. Luckily for the President, he had the longest honeymoon period of any president in recent history. Unfortunately for the President, Americans are waking up from their slumber, paying attention and it isn’t good news.

When it comes to the illegal immigration issue the majority of legal residents will not accept rewarding those who have broken at least one law. While most states face double-digit unemployment, busted budgets and deteriorating infrastructure, Democrats remain undeterred and march toward amnesty as a way to boost their voting block. This may explain the new Wall Street Journal poll which found 62 percent of Americans think the country is on the wrong track.

If the Obama administration attempts to deem illegal immigration (amnesty) into law, voters will certainly lament their feelings at the voting booth in November.

Former 25-year veteran of Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) agent John Sakelarides sums up the facts and myths when it comes to this complex and divisive illegal immigration issue.

“There are indications that the Obama ‘Administration’ is planning to give deferred action to anywhere from 12 to 40 million illegal aliens in the United States, or, in the alternative, to parole these illegal aliens into the U.S. for ‘humanitarian’ reasons.’ This would be accomplished by Executive Order, thereby bypassing Congress and the rule of law.”

The Constitutionality of such an order would certainly be challenged in the Courts. The reason is simple. If this Executive Order were allowed to remain in effect, it would transform our Constitutional Republic into a Dictatorship where the Chief Executive Officer would dictate what laws would be enforced, which ones would be ignored and how things would work in our country.

In an effort to stave off what would certainly be a Constitutional mess, Senator Orin Hatch and others have sent a letter to Mr. Obama, strongly urging him not to embark on such a course of action. The Senators are requesting a commitment from the ‘Administration’ that they will not seek to grant deferred action or parole to all of the illegal aliens in the United States.

This White House is deliberately, willfully, knowingly, and possibly maliciously, ignoring the will of the vast majority of Americans and is H*ll bent on transforming this Constitutional Republic into a Socialist State. What this “President” is doing violates his oath of office. He is deliberately ignoring the Constitution in favor of “social justice.”

President Obama, Ms. Pelosi and Mr. Reid rammed through “Obamacare” despite overwhelming numbers of Americans voicing their opposition to such an audacious government take over. They rammed through the “stimulus” package, the government takeover of GM and Chrysler, and now “Banking Reform.” All of these “socialist” initiatives have been implemented against the will of the American people. As such, Americans have a leader ruling by executive decree occupying the White House and Congress.

Their agenda? A global socialist agenda.

Americans should not be surprised by this action because candidate Obama said he would fundamentally change the country.

When one thinks about it, Barack Obama is the quintessential Globalist. Regardless of where he was born, his formative years were spent outside the United States. As such, he never experienced growing up in America.

And the time he did spend in the U.S. was in Hawaii, which is arguably, is far removed from the mainstream and mainland of the United States. The President never experienced Little League, sandlot baseball, barbecues, picnics, American holidays such as Memorial Day, Fourth of July, Veterans Day, etc. So it is no wonder he is aloof and out of touch with the American heartland. Not until his Occidental College days and beyond did he live in the U.S. mainland.

Obama has, for all intents and purposes, been groomed to be a Globalist. He simply “does not get it” when it comes to being an American. Perhaps that is why he is so quick to give $400 million of taxpayer money to the Palestinians, aka: Hamas, and nothing to Americans suffering through the country’s worst environmental disaster along the Gulf Coast.

Some political cynics believe that this amnesty proclamation is designed to take attention away from the BP Oil spill and divert it to another hot button issue. Regardless of the spin one puts on this, it is painfully obvious that this administration abhors the Constitution and will do what it wants – even if it means dismissing the American people.

Click here to read the letter to President Obama from Senator Hatch and others;–Obama-may-sign-amnesty-by-executive-order

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Forget Congress – Obama may grant amnesty by executive order

Imagine the possibilities. With the stroke of a pen 15-20 million illegal immigrants could be exempted from deportation.

In an attempt to bypass Congress, the legislative process and our Constitution which guarantees of the people by the people, President Obama has shown signs that he may sign an executive order that will throw sand in the face of the will of the people.

But will the executive order stand judicial scrutiny? If the six-month ban on deep-water oil drilling in the Gulf is any indication, the courts will surely have something to say about the legality of such a bold move by the President on a very divisive issue.

Earlier this week eight U.S. Senators sent a letter querying the President’s intentions regarding the order of a de facto amnesty. The mood of country over the past few months has sent a clear message to those in Congress as well as the White House – secure the borders and no amnesty.

“The whispering has erupted with an open letter to the President from eight U.S. Senators spelling out the details known thus far,” says Roy Beck of NumbersUSA.

“In a nutshell, there is discussion going on within the Administration about stopping nearly all deportations, presumably until ‘comprehensive immigration reform’ can be passed to give illegal aliens full work and residency rights permanently. The point here is to satisfy the open-border bloc of voters who have been threatening to boycott the elections this fall unless President Obama makes an all-out effort to pass an amnesty this year,” Beck said.

Mutterings began to enter the strong no amnesty advocacy groups, like NumbersUSA, last week at the Brookings conference when they indicated they had been talking to the Obama administration about different ways to help illegal immigrants without having to go through Congress.

Beck explains that U.S. Presidents have proven whether Republican or Democrat that they are capable of doing almost anything they please to get re-elected. “Only an incredible outburst of outrage from the public can stop the Administration from doing a de facto amnesty all by itself.”

NumbersUSA has rolled out a new campaign to let all 535 members of Congress how they feel about a possible “executive order” amnesty deal.

“We want Democrats in Congress to begin to tell their leaders and the White House that even the hint that this amnesty could happen will hurt their chances of winning in the fall. We want Republicans to start threatening to use the Plot as a campaign issue. We want the White House to publicly promise that it will not unilaterally proclaim an amnesty,” Beck said.

The following is the letter sent to the White House by eight concerned Senators;

“Dear President Obama;

We understand that there’s a push for your Administration to develop a plan to unilaterally extend either deferred action or parole to millions of illegal aliens in the United States. We understand that the Administration may include aliens who have willfully overstayed their visas or filed for benefits knowing that they will not be eligible for a status for years to come. We understand that deferred action and parole are discretionary actions reserved for individual cases that present unusual, emergent or humanitarian circumstances. Deferred action and parole were not intended to be used to confer a status or offer protection to large groups of illegal aliens, even if the agency claims that they look at each case on a ‘case-by-case’ basis.

While we agree our immigration laws need to be fixed, we are deeply concerned about the potential expansion of deferred action or parole for a large illegal alien population. While deferred action and parole are Executive Branch authorities, they should not be used to circumvent Congress’ constitutional authority to legislate immigration policy, particularly as it relates to the illegal population in the United States.

The Administration would be wise to abandon any plans for deferred action or parole for the illegal population. Such a move would further erode the American public’s confidence in the federal government and its commitment to securing the borders and enforcing the laws already on the books.

We would appreciate receiving a commitment that the Administration has no plans to use either authority to change the current position of a large group of illegal aliens already in the United States, and ask that you respond to us about this matter as soon as possible.”

The letter was signed by Senators Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa), Orrin Hatch (R-Utah), David Vitter (R-La.)
Jim Bunning (R-Ky.), Saxby Chambliss (R-Ga.), Johnny Isakson (R-Ga.), Jim Inhofe (R-Okla.) and Thad Cochran (R-Miss.).

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On eve of Afghanistan offensive General McChrystal in hot water amid Rolling Stone story

A hierarchical undercutting in the decision making process in any work environment lends itself to a severe tongue lashing, however, in the military world it requires one of two things- resignation or firing.

This is exactly the position current Afghanistan General Stanley McChrystal finds himself in.
A senior Capitol Hill source says McChrystal will resign, leaving the White House in a pickle as the summer offensive in Afghanistan, already causing heartburn, with no other choice but to regroup with new leadership.

Insiders are also saying Congress is already seeking McChrystal’s replacement and names like General James Mattis of the US Joint Forces Command and Lieutenant General William Caldwell, the current commander of Nato’s Training Mission in Afghanistan are the frontrunners.

However, President Obama hasn’t indicated which way he will go and it is no secret the president’s choice in words calling “Afghanistan the right war,” could come back to haunt him. Americans have lost interest in the Middle East War effort and losing soldiers on the battlefield when the Administration refuses to kill the opium poppy fields is not helping shore up support on the home front.

As word spread yesterday of the Rolling Stone story a universal consensus formed that McChrystal and his entourage crossed the sacred line by criticizing the President and his staff.

“This is clearly a firing offense,” said Peter Feaver, a former official in the Bush White House and strong backer of a fully resourced counterinsurgency strategy in Afghanistan in a Washington Post story.

But military experts also question relieving McChrystal of his leadership role on the eve of a major offensive in Kandahar, which is the most critical of the war, could hurt the Afghanistan war effort. It has also been said that McChrystal was not onboard with the July 2011 timetable for withdrawal.

The Rolling Stone story reads in part; “According to sources familiar with the meeting, McChrystal thought Obama looked ‘uncomfortable and intimidated’ by the roomful of military brass. Their first one-on-one meeting took place in the Oval Office four months later, after McChrystal got the Afghanistan job, and it didn’t go much better. ‘It was a 10-minute photo-op,’ says an adviser to McChrystal. ‘Obama clearly didn’t know anything about him, who he was. Here’s the guy who’s going to run his f-ing war, but he didn’t seem very engaged. The Boss was pretty disappointed.’”

President Barack Obama said earlier that McChrystal is guilty of “poor judgment” but said he will wait to pass judgment until the two meet at the White House.

The top U.S. commander in Afghanistan and his aides also made disparaging comments about Vice President Joe Biden, special envoy Richard Holbrooke, Ambassador Karl Eikenberry and others in the story titled “The Runaway General.”

“Gen. McChrystal is on his way here, and I am going to meet with him. Secretary Gates will meet with him as well,” Obama said Tuesday evening. “I think it’s clear that the article in which he and his team appeared showed poor judgment, but I also want to talk to him directly before I make any final decisions.”
Asked earlier in the day whether McChrystal’s job is on the line, White House press secretary Robert Gibbs said that “everything is on the table.”

McChrystal apologized for the article Tuesday morning.

“It was a mistake reflecting poor judgment and should never have happened,” McChrystal said in a statement. “Throughout my career, I have lived by the principles of personal honor and professional integrity. What is reflected in this article falls far short of that standard. I have enormous respect and admiration for President Obama and his national security team, and for the civilian leaders and troops fighting this war, and I remain committed to ensuring its successful outcome.”

Nevertheless McChrystal received harsh words from Secretary of Defense Robert Gates. “I read with concern the profile piece on Gen. Stanley McChrystal in the upcoming edition of ‘Rolling Stone’ magazine,” Gates said in a statement. “I believe that Gen. McChrystal made a significant mistake and exercised poor judgment in this case. We are fighting a war against al Qaeda and its extremist allies, who directly threaten the United States, Afghanistan, and our friends and allies around the world.”

“Our troops and coalition partners are making extraordinary sacrifices on behalf of our security, and our singular focus must be on supporting them and succeeding in Afghanistan without such distractions. Gen. McChrystal has apologized to me and is similarly reaching out to others named in this article to apologize to them as well,” Gates said. “I have recalled Gen. McChrystal to Washington to discuss this in person.”

Cable television pundit Sean Hannity said he did understand General McChrystal’s frustration “with how the Obama administration has mishandled the ‘War on Terror.’ “I don’t think Obama takes his role as commander in chief as seriously as he should.”

“What are we to think of a president who only sends 20-to 30-thousand more soldiers in a war in Afghanistan, but not that amount the generals on the ground ask for?” Hannity questioned. “What about a president who resists using the term ‘war on terrorism?’ I don’t think this president is seeking victory in Afghanistan.”

With a drug war raging in Mexico, a defiant Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, a Gulf oil spill disaster and a trouble economy will President Obama rock the boat in Afghanistan or move forward with more of the status quo?

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Obama trades punches with Arizona Senator over securing borders

After a one-on-one meeting with President Obama, Arizona Senator Jon Kyl dropped a bombshell about the White House’s lack of concern for securing the southern borders.

At a town hall meeting in the Senator’s district of Tempe, Arizona on Friday, Kyl explained to the audience that President Obama told him in the oval office the problem with securing the borders the U.S. shares with Mexico is the following; “The problem is, . . . if we secure the border, then you all won’t have any reason to support ‘comprehensive immigration reform.’” It also must be noted that audible gasps were heard throughout the folks who were in attendance.

On the YouTube video Senator Kyl continues to explain, “In other words, they’re holding it hostage. They don’t want to secure the border unless and until it is combined with ‘comprehensive immigration reform.’”

The lip service and gamesmanship the president is playing is confirmed by his hollow promises made more than a month ago by not sending 1,200 National Guard troops or $500 million to secure the southern border. This angers those who live in Arizona and face the incursion on a daily basis.

Senator Kyl said he reminded President Obama, that the President and the Congress have an obligation to secure the border in the name of national security.

It didn’t take long for the White House to hit back at Senator Kyl and claim the President made no such comments to the Arizona Senator. Obama’s spokesperson Bill Burton responded to questions at the daily press briefing and restated the White House’s position on Monday; “The president didn’t say that. Senator Kyl knows the president didn’t say that.”

When pressed further to determine if Mr. Kyl was lying about the political statement, Burton said, “I’ll let other folks make that determination.”

Kyl was having none of this and reiterated that the White House; “Wants to get something in return for doing their duty.”

Senator Kyl’s spokesman Ryan Patmintra said after the back and forth with the White House that the Senator stands by his remarks. He expressly said the White House position “that we must have comprehensive immigration reform to secure the border only confirms Sen. Kyl’s account.”

According to the White House website says President Obama believes “that our broken immigration system can only be fixed by putting politics aside and offering a complete solution that secures our border, enforces our laws, and reaffirms our heritage as a nation of immigrants.”

Meanwhile former Arizona governor and current Department of Homeland Security Secretary, Janet Napolitano will travel to Denver, Colo., on Thursday, June 24. While in Denver Secretary Napolitano; “will deliver remarks highlighting the Obama administration’s ongoing efforts to work with Congress on ways to comprehensively reform our nation’s immigration laws to the National Association of Latino Elected and Appointed Officials.”

This battle will surely be front and center for the next few months as Washington DC has really let down the Border States. The states continue to struggle with the financial burdens caused from illegal immigration and the violence that rages unabated along both sides of the southern borders. However after all the polling that has taken place on this topic, one thing is clear, Americans want secure borders first.

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TBI and PTSD leave the health of our troops in limbo

The signature wounds of the “War on Terror” are ones not readily visible to the human eye; the disability resides in the mind and body of the soldier and the complexity that is the human brain. Many times these wounds of warfare do not rear their ugly heads immediately, but can manifest when warriors return to their lives in America. Traumatic Brain Injury and Post Traumatic Stress Disorder are the hidden injuries and the new battlefront for military health care professionals.

As the military forges onward into a new century with a streamlined military arsenal, the Department of Defense and Veterans Affairs must now zero in on the complex and unpredictable world of mental health issues.

The science of mental health treatment varies with each recipient and the hidden battles combat veterans fight on a daily basis upon return need to be uncovered in order to restore faith and ensure the health of the military’s readiness for future battles.

While watching the battles unfold on cable news can be compelling, so too are the stories of these everyday heroes who battle physical therapy for visible and invisible injuries. The glamour may be on the battlefield, but the compassion plays out everyday as veterans overcome the odds and stare down the demons of war.

The real war stories

For those who serve during wartime often enter the military knowing full well what may lie ahead. The gritty courage of soldiers, their determination and their love of country makes America’s all-volunteer armed forces the best in the business. If the U.S. wishes to guarantee this tradition the military must keep its promise, as the Surgeon General says Navy Medicine – “World Class Care…Anytime Anywhere” for the military and families of returning warriors.

When soldiers are hurt in the line of duty, they often refer to their injury as “Alive Day” – meaning they are breathing and the hard work of recovering begins anew. A different battle must be waged, one that will test their inner courage and tenacity for life.

One such story comes from the book “Hidden Battles on Unseen Fronts.” The book details many stories of these brave soldiers who must face a new enemy – their own bodies.

For Army SPC Walter Blackston it would be that fateful September day that would result in his call to duty from the Army Reserve. His real-world experiences lent much needed improvements in the way communications were handled for Medevac crews in the Middle East. His confidence and skill garnered him multiple medals and citations while on duty.

However, a week before Blackston was to return home he went out to pick up injured servicemen from a Black Hawk helicopter crash. The chopper went down in the middle of a field, unfortunately for Blackston the large field would be filled with landmines and on his way back to his vehicle with injured soldiers, Blackston’s partner took a bad step- the blast killed the soldier, Blackston survived.

He was stitched up and told to have his injuries checked out when he returned stateside in a week. As it turned out that week-long wait would cost the Army Reservist major nerve-damage in his arms. Blackston would require multiple surgeries for the next three years on his arms and spine – he would also discover symptoms of PTSD and TBI after he recovered from the visible injuries.

Not only did the Army Reservist fight for his life while he received treatment at Walter Reed Army Medical Center he overcame the horrific living conditions at the infamous Building 18. (It was not uncommon to hear military personnel complain of mold, cockroaches, rats and robberies on a regular basis.)

This led to a low point in SPC Blackston’s life. He attempted to commit suicide twice unaware that his yet to be diagnosed TBI was worsening by the day.

As he described, nearly three years later the Army released Blackston and declared him fit for duty, despite the fact that he was treated for PTSD for more than a year. “The scarring was so terrible. The skin had healed like a web under both my arms but they only rated me 20 percent disabled,” he explained.

From this moment Blackston’s life spiraled out of control and he explains there were times when he didn’t know where he was and there was no job waiting for him. Oftentimes it is the wait for VA benefits to kick in that does the soldiers in. First Blackston drained his savings, and then he borrowed money from his family and finally maxed out his credit cards. He lost his house, his car, his fiancée and “his mind.”

While waiting to receive his benefits, Blackston was finally diagnosed with TBI. With the discovery of the new problem he realized his fate was increasingly in his own hands. The benefit folks at the VA were not sympatric to Blackston’s dilemma and asked him to move home with his parents at the age of 47.

However, he was having none of this. Out of frustration he demanded to see a VA supervisor. Once the supervisor entered the room, Blackston removed his shirt and shouted “this is what I live with every day.” The supervisor off the VA was humbled and apologized.

The goal was not to make someone feel sorry for him, but give him the tools he would need to get back on his feet. This episode resulted in a 90 percent disability rating and the new beginning he was looking for. His new paycheck would be $2,500 per month, only a portion of what he made in the private sector, but a start. (Since that was a service-connected injury incurred in combat I question why VA does not counsel these individuals to be reevaluated by DoD as they are probably entitled to a full DoD military disability retirement in addition to their VA benefits. These additional funds from DoD would give Blackston approximately $1,500 tax-free, plus all the benefits that come with a military retirement.)

The Army Reservist’s proactive role in his recovery has given himself the tools needed to go on. He admits thoughts of suicide still come and go, but his new found faith in God has given him the strength he needs to get up everyday.

Although Blackston’s symptoms of TBI are still persistent his commitment to therapy pushes the ball closer to the goal line. “I just want to lead a fruitful life…It’s all on me. And if I had one thing to say to vets like myself it would be, ‘We earned the right to be proud of who we are.’”

Stories like these are not uncommon with the Operation Iraqi Freedom and Operation Enduring Freedom veterans. What the military should be embarrassed about is not that these guys come home battered and broken, but the treatment or lack thereof for these volunteer forces.

Not only do they give their body and minds for this country if they are injured they often lose their families in the process. The romantic notion of World War II (albeit the men in WWII died on the battlefield and didn’t survive catastrophic injuries the “War on Terror” soldiers are now surviving) when men went to war and came home to adoring significant others, is less likely. Today’s soldiers face a myriad of hidden injuries, loss of income and find themselves in the bureaucracy health care.

Self-assessment of PTSD is not working

In the private sector if a patient is diagnosed with a psychological ailment they are given a battery of tests by a trained professional in the mental health field. When soldiers return from the warzone they are given a questionnaire “self assessment” to determine their mental state.

The screening questions revolve around the traumatic events they faced on the battlefield; “Have you had nightmares about it or thought about it when you did not want to? Have you tried hard not to think about it or went out of your way to avoid situations that reminded you of it? Are you constantly on guard, watchful or easily startled? Do you feel numb or detached from others, activities or your surroundings?”

Approximately 30 percent of the armed forces questioned about mental health last year reported having some trouble acclimating to life stateside. Of these numbers the VA doesn’t have the clinical practitioners needed to treat all the returning soldiers.

This is where the Department of Defense and VA need to open up all available resources, including TRICARE and allow returning soldiers to get treatment, with state-of-the-art remedies from the private sector. It has been estimated that treating PTSD within the military ranks would take approximately three years. And just as there’s more than one way to skin a cat, there is more than one way to treat PTSD.

As of 2009 the VA trained more than 1,200 mental health providers while the DoD has more than 600 mental health clinicians for the delivery of PTSD treatment.

Currently the military relies on multiple pills to alleviate mood swings. The soldiers take uppers, downers and sleeping tablets. One veteran even admitted he was taking up to 40 pills a day and still he wasn’t improving.

It wasn’t until this veteran found Dr. Rick Levy, a clinical psychologist who specializes in mind-body medicine, did this soldier’s quality of life improve. For those who are open to alternative treatments, they can obtain sanity without heavy drugs. After years of medicated treatments, Dr. Levy was able to use psychotherapy and clinical hypnosis as a method to abate PTSD and curtail other medical problems that often require medication.

With all the tools from Dr. Levy, the veteran was able to reduce his pill count to just three. He now leads a productive life. Once he learned the story behind the story, this soldier was able to regain control over his life with clinically guided meditation.

While this treatment may not work for everyone, the military needs to accept alternative methods of treatment for PTSD to ensure the mental health of all our military personnel.

I know best

From day one armed forces are taught to think about the mission first, their unit second and themselves last. So when the mission is complete, military personnel are sent home and the questionnaires presented many soldiers don’t answer openly or honestly for fear they may break the military code.

Take Army Second Lieutenant Sylvia Blackwood-Boutelle. She was called to duty and would serve in Iraq. She would be serving on the front lines as a reporter for the military. Her ability to report the news alongside Time magazine and the New York Times was exciting to Boutelle. The only caveat the military expected was for her to report positive stories.

Upon her return home to her family Boutelle was asked to take the PTSD questionnaire. She exhibited positive factors on her first assessment. She displayed all the symptoms for PTSD; however she was having none of it. She asked to retake the test. She admitted later that she had answered every question differently because she didn’t want to ruin her career.

“I’m a high-energy person. I figured I could deal with it myself,” Boutelle explained. This method of dealing with her emotions landed her back in Iraq until she couldn’t stay busy enough to push the PTSD aside.

Her emotional state continued to unravel without professional treatment. Once she realized she needed therapy she reached out and overcame the stigma associated with PTSD. “You have to get ‘team you’ together. You can’t be afraid to ask for help,” Boutelle said.

She remains in the Army and hopes to pursue a writing career when she finishes her PTSD treatment.

The sad truth of warzone trauma

In the words of Dr. Joseph, Roshi, MD, PhD, “Ours is a disposable culture; our children, our elders, our ill and infirm…are often ignored, overlooked, forgotten or mistreated.” He goes on to explain the impacts of war are legend and the invisible wounds radiate deep and wide into a person’s life.

Dr Roshi also believes Congress can’t fix the problem by simply throwing money at it. The real fix will come in the form of effective treatment for mental health issues, for the soldier and their family. Inside the broken mind a soldier can provide immeasurable strength, he says. “Resilience runs deep, but its resources need to be nurtured,” Roshi said. “It is like a seed that has been buried in a disaster; it needs tending, attending.”

Another doctor, Mitchell Tepper, PhD, MPH admits changes need to be made in the mental health care arena.

“Our service members get some of the nation’s best medical and physical rehabilitation services, but access to mental health services is both limited and often ineffectual, as it is in the civilian health care arena. We need to work more aggressively to identify and get into treatment those struggling with depression, combat-related stress, PTSD and mild brain injury.”

To that end, Dr. Roshi concludes that families affected by the side-effects of war also need to gain mental health care treatment to ease the burdens associated with care-giving duties and sporadic behaviors related to TBI and PTSD symptoms.


There are countless stories like these across the country. Many service members are able to cope with the extreme environment that war presents and those soldiers are to be commended for their service to America.

But for those who come back with major injuries, nightmares, amputations and the inability to return to a normal life, the U.S. owes those more. They given up their quality of life, many lost their significant others to divorce while others taken their lives. For the ultra- tormented soldiers who turn to drugs and alcohol to suppress their fears and depression, the DoD and VA need to do more.

America is built with the courage of those who serve in the armed forces; they should never feel like they let anyone down or take their own lives because they fail to receive adequate treatment. The men and women in uniform must be treated with respect and dignity.

In a world filled with movie stars, professional athletes and comic book superheroes – Americans should always remember the true heroes are the unsung leaders in the military, their guts, candor and determination to serve proudly should be the benchmark by which children look to when it comes to heroes they can believe in.

References and organizations that focus on veterans

Give an Hour- founder Barbara Romberg focuses on national network of mental heath professionals who provide free mental health services to U.S. troops and their families.

VA Suicide Prevention Hotline- Focuses on military veterans in immediate trouble.

Polytrauma Transitional Rehabilitation Program- Located at the Minneapolis VAMC, this program focuses on the TBI and PTSD issues that accompany major trauma.

Rick Levy, PhD- is a licensed psychologist in private practice who is the leading pioneer in mind-body medicine. His groundbreaking work has garnered him media exposure on Prime Time, FOX News, ABC and other print publications.

Dissemination and Training Division of the National Center for PTSD- located in the VA’s central office in Palo Alto Health Care System. Studies based on evidence-based psychotherapies.

Come Home Project/Deep Streams Zen Institute- Dr. Joseph Bobrow Roshi, MD, PhD. Focuses on alternative treatment for TBI and PTSD issues.

The Sexual Health Network, Inc. and This organization deals with the sexual issues that accompany major trauma, TBI and PTSD. These conditions can dramatically impair a person’s capacity for intimacy.

Veterans Education Project- A group that trains veterans to share their stories and life lessons with classrooms and communities. The group also supports military families to provide support for veterans and educate others on the issues troops face on their long journey home.

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Iran’s ability to strike Europe prompts White House to update missile defenses

Iran’s ability to launch several hundred missiles into Europe prompted the White House to begin overhauling the U.S. missile defense program. In a U.S. intelligence briefing, Defense Secretary Robert Gates informed cabinet and congressional members that Iran was getting very close to procuring 100s of missiles capable of striking most European nations.

The United States will begin work on the “phased adaptive approach” or the intergraded sea and land-based missile installations placed around the European allies.

At a congressional meeting on Thursday Gates suggested new intelligence is behind the new push for a more targeted approach for defense missiles.

“One of the elements of the intelligence that contributed to the decision on the phased adaptive array (approach) was the realization that if Iran were actually to launch a missile attack on Europe, it wouldn’t be just one or two missiles, or a handful,” he said. “It would more likely be a salvo kind of attack, where you would be dealing potentially with scores or even hundreds of missiles.”

Secretary Gates said the updated missile interceptors the defense department was developing would give the U.S. the ability to protect American interests abroad as well as our closest allies.

However, Gates pointed out that the new missile interceptors would not be in place until 2020.

“I think by 2020 we may well see it from other states, especially if we’re unsuccessful in stopping Iran from building nuclear weapons,” he explained.

Gates attempted to placate Russia who will always hate the U.S. missile defenses because they cannot match America’s missile defense technology.

“There is no meeting of the minds on missile defense,” Gates told the panel. “The Russians hate it. They’ve hated it since the late 1960s. They will always hate it, mostly because we’ll build it and they won’t.”

Hillary Rodham Clinton, Secretary of State said the Russian’s statement noted the Russian government’s right to withdraw from the New START treaty if it feels threatened by the expansion of American defenses against ballistic missiles Iran is building.

“But that is not an agreed upon view. That is not in the treaty,” Clinton told the Armed Services Committee.
In the meantime the U.S. will keep 720 deployed weapons: 240 submarine-launched ballistic missiles (distributed among 14 submarines); 60 heavy bombers, and up to 420 single-warhead Minuteman III intercontinental ballistic missiles at their current three U.S. bases, Gates explained.

Newly-minted Senator Scott Brown (R-MASS) expressed his concern that Russia and France’s conflicting interests with Iran and said the fact they are maintaining commercial relationships, perhaps, helping Iran circumvent international sanctions regarding their nuclear program.

“Russian leadership have all made this statement that this treaty is contingent on the United States not changing, or qualitatively or quantitatively building up, missile defense systems,” Gates said. “That is bound to be worrisome to anyone. The Russians can say what they want. If it’s not in the treaty, it’s not binding on the United States.”

In the meantime the Obama administration will continue their pacifist foreign policy programs, cross their fingers and hope it works.

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Obama’s mishandling of the oil spill sinks his popularity

Back in February a billboard was placed along side a freeway in Minnesota displaying a picture of former President George W. Bush stating; “Do you miss me yet?” The billboard created an instant internet buzz something President Obama could use right about now.

It’s no secret that Obama’s poll numbers are sliding south to 40 percent and his continued inaction with America’s worst environmental disaster to date has even ardent Obama supporters running for cover. A new poll out today in Louisiana uncovered voters in the state think former President Bush handled Hurricane Katrina better than President Obama is handling the oil spill.

Approximately 50 percent of voters in the state of Louisiana, including 31 percent of Democrats, gave former President Bush higher grades (50 percent) on handling of Katrina compared to 35 percent for President Obama, according to the Public Policy Poll.

Overall only 32 percent of Louisianans approve of how Obama handled the spill while 62 percent disapprove. In contrast 34 percent of those questioned say they approved of how Bush dealt with Katrina and 58 percent disapproved.

There is some good news for President Obama; the folks in Louisiana blame BP the most when it comes to the massive oil spill. About 53 percent of voters say they’re mad at BP Oil Company while 29 percent place their anger with the federal government.

The overwhelming majority, 78 percent believe BP has the greatest responsibility for the clean up and a measly 11 percent think the federal government needs to mop up the oil.

One thing the nation’s largest oil spill has not accomplished is large opposition to off shore drilling. In Louisiana the oil industry is directly tied to the largest number of jobs and revenue stream. As such, 77 percent of Louisianans still support off shore drilling.

If there’s anybody who comes out a winner in this environmental nightmare it’s Louisiana Governor Bobby Jindal. More than 63 percent of the voters approve of his job performance.

He even has a higher level of support at 65 percent for how he has handled the aftermath of the BP oil spill. It is well known that the Governor hasn’t gone back to his capitol office or home, but has remained in the affected regions listening to the fisherman, collecting ideas on how to solve the oil spill clean up and pitching in with manual labor when it is necessary.

“People are always concerned with their economic livelihood,” said Dean Debnam president of Public Policy Polling. “In Louisiana the economy and jobs are clearly tied to the oil and gas industry. Louisianans seem more concerned about the closure of oil rigs than of beaches.”

President Obama would do well to take his cue from Louisiana’s Governor Jindal and put his heart and soul into cleaning up the nation’s worst environmental disaster.

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The costs of the “War on Terror” escalates with each deployment

As the nine-year “War on Terror” rages onward, high suicide rates, multiple deployments and lack of psychological treatment for Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) alarms military personnel and many point to the real cost of the Middle East offensive will be health care after the war has ended. This disparity will likely exact a large toll on the nation’s military readiness in future conflicts.

Several reports including the Rand Study, Harvard Study and Dole-Shalala Commission find that the real cost of the war effort will come long after the fighting has ended and soldiers seek treatment for a myriad of injuries they suffered on the battlefield.

The signature injuries and perhaps the hardest to document are the elusive and well-hidden Traumatic Brain Injury or TBI and PTSD.

When soldiers return from the Middle East they are subjected to a plethora of details that need to be taken care of so they are able to receive adequate treatment, make their adjustment to life outside the battlefield and return to their families.

Since most deployments last months if not more than a year, most returning service members hastily scan through the mountains of paperwork in an effort to get home quickly.

Among the forms each soldier receives is a self-assessment for PTSD. When asked what the questions consist of and how many questions are on the PTSD evaluation form, Walter Reed Army Medical Center, Gigail “Gail” Cureton media relations said, “That’s not information we release.”

However, the question doesn’t lie with how many or what the content of the questionnaire contains, but the fact it is a self-assessment. Many soldiers may not show signs of TBI/PTSD until weeks or even months after they return home and as many reports cite there are simply not enough military trained staff to adequately take care of the men and women who serve in conflict zones overseas.

The Harvard Study concluded that the Veterans Health Administration (VHA) is already overwhelmed by the volume of returning veterans and the seriousness of their health care needs, and it will not be able to provide high quality of care in a timely fashion to the large wave of returning war veterans without greater funding and increased capacity in areas such as psychiatric care.

The study also pointed out the Veterans Benefits Administration (VBA) needs structural reforms
to deal with the high volume of pending claims and that the present claims process is unable to handle the current volume and will be completely inadequate to cope with the high demand of returning war veterans once the troops come home next summer.

With regard to the budgetary costs of providing disability compensation benefits and medical care to the veterans from Iraq and Afghanistan over the course of their lives the estimates range from the $350 – $700 billion and this scares many in Congress.

The Harvard Study concluded that the money needed to care for the soldiers depends on the length of deployment, the speed they claim disability benefits and the inflation rate of pending health care costs.

This staggering cost of medical treatment threatens to further bankrupt the Department of Defense and VA agencies and cause grave concern to some on Capitol Hill.

Yet, the summer offensive in Afghanistan rolls onward and injuries and death tolls continue to mount.

Key recommendations the Harvard Study suggests include more staffing in preparation for the influx of soldiers, increased funding especially in the mental health care treatment, funding of “Vet Centers” and perhaps the toughest is the need to restructure the benefit and claim process the VA uses.

Currently there are 37 bills, two resolutions, and two amendments to bills relating to Post Traumatic Stress Disorder and/or Traumatic Brain Injury somewhere in the legislative process. At least 11 of these deal with both issues. Of these bills, resolutions and amendments, three are now law (H.R. 2647, H.R. 3288, S. 1963), but none solves the problems facing returning veterans.

In a recent Military Times article the Veterans Affairs Department was asked how they should handle the tsunami of soldiers headed their direction. “In my judgment, it cannot be fixed,” said Peter Levin. “We need to build a new system, and that is exactly what we are going to do,” said the Veterans Affairs Department’s chief technology officer.

Among the plethora of issues facing the VA is the current backlog of 1.1 million claims that are awaiting decisions and how to best fix the error rate that hovers around 17-25 percent margin.

While veterans are waiting for their claims to be processed or reprocessed they run into all kinds of problems with managing their daily expenses which can lead to the loss of their cars and homes.

“It looks like we are going backwards rather than forward,” Congressman Bob Filner (D-CA) said. “No matter how much we raise the budget, no matter how many people we hire, the backlog seems to get bigger. People die before their claim is adjudicated. They lose their home. They lose their car,” Filner explains in the same Military Times article.

Solutions, however, are harder to come by in the bureaucratic quagmire of Washington DC. The VA Secretary
Eric Shinseki suggests the VA needs to hire more people to process claims. But what the VA really needs is more medical staff to treat the influx of soldiers suffering from TBI/PTSD and this process takes years to train workers something the VA does not have.

The VA hierarchy is looking at a three-to five-year range to fully train medical professionals to take care of the “War on Terror” veterans.

In the meantime, soldiers will be asked to wait.

The Rand Study titled “Invisible Wounds of Wars – Psychological and Cognitive Injuries, their consequences and services to assist recovery,” further delves into the serious problems returning soldiers face when it comes to treatment.

The study focuses on post-traumatic stress disorder, major depression and traumatic brain injury. These injuries were at the forefront “not only because of current high-level policy interest but also because, unlike the physical wounds of war, these conditions are often invisible to the eye, remaining invisible to other service members, family members and society in general. All three conditions affect mood, thoughts, and behavior; yet these wounds often go unrecognized and unacknowledged. The effect of traumatic brain injury is still poorly understood, leaving a large gap in knowledge related to how extensive the problem is or how to address it,” the report summarized.

In July of 2007, President Bush received a report on a study his administration requested. Oftentimes when reports are commissioned, facts are dissemination, parties questioned and recommendations made. However more often than not these commissioned reports are read, talked about and put away in a drawer with no further thought of change.

Nowhere is this more true than the bipartisan report the Bush Administration requested from Bob Dole and Donna Shalala; “Serve, Support, Simplify Report of the President’s Commission on Care for America’s Returning Wounded Warriors” dated, July 2007.

The 40-page report suggested the Department of Defense and VA should develop integrated care teams of physicians, nurses, and allied health professionals from relevant specialties like, social workers and vocational rehabilitation staff.

These teams would be able to create injured service members’ initial ‘Recovery Plans,’ which would start with a comprehensive clinical evaluation upon return from the war theater.

The DoD and VA would direct staff at military medical facilities to complete these Recovery Plans and a plan be created for all service members who have been seriously injured since the beginning of the Afghanistan and Iraq conflicts. This would make future treatment of wartime injuries easier to document and get benefits to those who served in a time efficient manner.

The Dole-Shalala report also drove home the point that DoD and VA needs to work with the Commissioned Corps of the Public Health Service and Department of Health and Human Services to develop a cadre of well-trained, highly-skilled Recovery Coordinators (however these coordinators only added another layer of bureaucracy and their results have been negligible).

At the conclusion of the Dole-Shalala report they included results from an Operation Enduring Freedom and Operation Iraqi Freedom survey. The numbers were not encouraging.

It is thought that many young people join military service as a way to earn money for a college education, but the report found that only 21 percent of demobilized reservists and 31 percent of retired/separated service members actually enrolled in an educational program leading to a degree. It is also worth pointing out that OEF/OIF soldiers are suffering from unemployment numbers in the 20-30 percent range.

When it comes to understanding the claim and benefit process the numbers were even more disturbing.

Approximately 38 percent of active duty, 34 percent of reserve component and 38 percent of retired/separated service members are “very” or “somewhat” satisfied with the disability evaluation system. Only 46 percent of active duty, 36 percent of reserve component, and 40 percent of retired/separated service members say they “completely” or “mostly” understand the military’s disability evaluation process. While 42 percent of retired/separated service members who filed a VA claim report that they “completely” or “mostly” understand the VA claims process. All of these numbers give the DoD and VA a failing grade.

Dole-Shalala also believe the DoD and VA needs to create a single, comprehensive, standardized medical examination and that it be administered by the DoD. The single examination would serve Department of Defense’s purpose of determining fitness so the Veteran Affairs’ can determine the initial disability rate.

If service members are found unfit because of their combat-related injuries Dole-Shalala say they should receive comprehensive health care coverage and pharmacy benefits for themselves and their dependents through DoD’s successful TRICARE program.

When it comes to TBI and PTSD many see psychological problems as nonsense. It is up to the DoD to intensify its efforts to reduce the stigma associated with PTSD and ensure they question all returning war-theater soldiers to set benchmarks for future treatments.

Part of this process could include strengthening family support programs; expand DoD respite care and extending the Family and Medical Leave Act for up to six months for spouses and parents so they can care for their seriously injured soldiers.

Now that Congress has passed a health care reform bill, private insurance companies will begin the arduous task of transferring all medical records onto a new electronic data base. However, it may make sense for the Department of Defense and Veteran Affairs to ‘jointly’ develop an interactive “My e-Benefits” website that provides a single information source for all service members to access. Most agree that the DoD and VA is a small microcosm of the American population making it the perfect organization to integrate the electronic medical record keeping program.

The consolidation of electronic medical records should be tied to a Social Security number, similar to how the Social Security retirement program is currently operated. Military experts say this process would cut red tape for veterans when it comes to receiving services in either the DOD or VA.

Currently the military medical programs operate on entirely different systems causing unnecessary delays in care and headaches for those attempting to navigate the complex DoD/VA benefits system. The creation of an e-benefits page would allow soldiers to have a one-stop site to chart their benefits and be reminded of important deadlines and treatments.

Lastly, understanding the unquantifiable problem of Post Traumatic Stress Disorder requires an immense amount of work something the military has been reluctant to embrace.

The self-assessment for PTSD must be changed and it has been suggested an in-depth test administered by psychological health care professional that is better qualified to determine the PTSD problems the returning war veterans may or may not have.

The 2007 estimates on soldiers suffering from PTSD of varying degrees of severity affects approximately 12 to 20 percent of returnees from Iraq and six to 11 percent of returnees from Afghanistan. However, most psychological medical professionals believe that number to be much higher as many don’t return with symptoms right away and a future event could trigger the PTSD at anytime.

Through 2007, 52,375 soldiers have been seen in the VA for PTSD symptoms. Severe and penetrating head injuries or TBI can be readily identified, but cases of mild-to-moderate TBI can be more difficult to identify and their incidence is much harder to determine.

A recent report indicated that approximately 35,000 returnees were believed to be healthy after a screening test; however 10 to 20 percent had apparently experienced a mild TBI during their deployment. Medical experts agree that those soldiers who suffer from TBI will most likely have PTSD. Multiple deployments automatically increase the odds of soldiers getting both TBI and PTSD during the Middle East conflict.

Once a soldier is severely injured in the ‘War on Terror’ their life will be forever changed. However, what remains unchanged is the quality of life issue. The earning ceiling for those who survive amputations, serious head trauma and other debilitating injuries will be in play the moment the injury occurs.

The earnings/loss payments are supposed to make up for any reduced earning capacity and quality-of-life issues. Nevertheless these payments that are meant to compensate for permanent losses of various kinds of injuries needs to be reviewed to provide better reimbursements for those who will have trouble reentering the civilian workforce.

If service members are found unfit because of their combat-related injuries they should receive lifetime, comprehensive health care coverage and pharmacy benefits for themselves and their dependents through DoD’s favorable TRICARE program.

Daily stressors will continue to plague soldiers the rest of their lives, at the very least the government can ensure money matters are not a part of the equation for the injured soldier and their families. Americans would do well to remember that these soldiers made a life-long sacrifice to ensure the freedom and safety of all – as a result they need to be honored with integrity and respect.

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Arizona warns residents with signs against hiking in region near Mexico border

The drug cartel violence coupled with increased crime along the Arizona/Mexico border has prompted Arizona officials to place signs along a heavily-traveled and known smuggling route leading from Mexico to the state’s capitol of Phoenix.

Signs went up a couple weeks ago along the southern side of I-8 between Casa Grande and Gila Bend Arizona. The region is about 80 miles north of the Mexican border and it warns American citizens of the dangers of hiking in the area.

Mexican drug cartels appear to control large areas of Southern Arizona, according to the Pinal County Sheriff.

According to Borderland Beat, the Pinal County Sherriff says, “We do not have control of this area.”

Pinal County investigators are now saying the area known as the ‘smuggling corridor’ stretches from the Mexico’s border to Phoenix.

Borderland suggests the area was once known as a family hiking and off road vehicles area. However the government has posted signs warning visitors and residents of the drug and human smuggling activity.

Recently law enforcement in the southern Arizona region photographed, using night vision cameras, cartel members with military arms delivering drugs to vehicles along Highway 8.

“We are three counties deep. How is it that you see pictures like these, not American with semi and fully automatic rifles? How is that okay?” the Pinal County Sheriff Paul Babeu asked.

“We are outgunned, we are out manned and we don’t have the resources here locally to fight this,” the Sheriff said at a news conference.

Just 5 weeks ago Deputy Louie Puroll was ambushed and shot by armed men as he tracked suspected drug smugglers. Sheriff Babeu explained that incident mirrored military tactics and should act as a warning to all Arizonians.

While the federal government fails to secure the border, the Arizona state government is left to post signs warning residents that it is no longer safe to use thousands of acres of BLM land.

The new sign reads; “Danger Public Warning, travel not recommended active human and drug smuggling area, visitors may encounter armed criminals and smuggling vehicles traveling at high rates of speed. Stay away from trash, clothing, backpacks and abandoned vehicles. If you see suspicious activity, do not confront (underlined) move away and call 911. The BLM encourages visitors to use public lands north of Interstate 8.”

A mere hop, skip and jump south to Mexico the murders continue unabated.

Mexico experienced its deadliest day since Felipe Calderon took office and 85 citizens lost their lives in a single day due to an uptick in drug cartel brutality.

The bloody Friday in Mexico was summed up by local news reports as organized crime-related mayhem. “In what constitutes the most violent day since the present federal administration began the frontal struggle against organized crime, 85 people lost their lives in acts related directly to ‘adjustments of affairs’ between rival gangs, confrontations and assassinations with high-caliber firearms,” local newspapers reported.

The previous single day loss of life tally was 58 on November 3, 2008.

This should be a wake-up call for all Americans; secure the borders or live in potential lawlessness.

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