Saturday, December 20, 2014

Scorpions Announce New Album, ‘Return to Forever,’ and Single, ‘We Built This House’




 by Dave Lifton December 20, 2014 10:39 AM


Klaus Meine www.zimbio.com
Not too long ago, it looked like the Scorpions were ready to call it quits. But nearly two years after officially canceling their retirement, they are back with a new album. Today (Dec. 20), they announced that ‘Return to Forever’ will be released on Feb. 20, 2015.

A press release on their website reveals that ‘Return to Forever’ will have 12 songs, with a Deluxe Edition containing four additional tracks (the track listing is below). There will also be a Limited Collector’s Edition Box. The album’s first single, ‘We Built This House,’ that finds the band reflecting on their 50-year history.

 “In the end, it tells our story,” singer Klaus Meine says of the new song. “We’ve built this house called Scorpions brick by brick and often quite arduously. From the first days in Hannover, the first concerts abroad, until this very day. We’ve weathered severe storms, but the house withstood everything, turned out to be wheatherproof and stable. However, building the house was never just cumbersome, but joyful as well. The joy of music, the joy of having experienced and still experiencing it all, the joy of – and the thankfulness for – the fans’ affection. We have been working hard for this dream, but we’re thankful as well for having been able to live it, and for still being able to live it today.” 

Earlier this week, the Scorpions unveiled the first string of European dates for 2015, with a two-week jaunt through Germany set for March 2016. As of now, there has not been any word regarding a North American tour.

http://ultimateclassicrock.com/scorpions-new-album-return-to-forever/
 
Scorpions - We Built This House
 
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=C6OxSecpIPA
 
‘Return to Forever’ Deluxe Edition Track Listing

1. ‘Going Out with a Bang’ 
2. ‘We Built This House’ 
3. ‘Rock My Car’ 
4. ‘House of Cards’ 
5. ‘All for One’ 
6. ‘Rock ‘N’ Roll Band’ 
7. ‘Catch Your Luck and Play’
8. ‘Rollin’ Home’ 
9. ‘Hard Rockin’ the Place’ 
10. ‘Eye of the Storm’ 
11. ‘The Scratch’ 
12. ‘Gypsy Life’ 
13. ‘The World We Used to Know’ 
14. ‘Dancing with the Moonlight’ 
15. ‘When the Truth Is a Lie’ 
16. ‘Who We Are’

'Fucking Outstanding, this will be the first album I have bought in a couple years, and will be sure to add to this post when a North American tour is set up!!!' 

feelarocka.com
 

2nd NYC cop killed in ambush shooting

© Carlo Allegri/Reuters A police officer puts up a crime scene tape at the scene of a shooting where two New York Police officers were shot dead in the Brooklyn borough of New York, December 20, 2014. A gunman killed two New York police…



observer.com   Bill de Blasio
NEW YORK (AP) — An armed man walked up to two New York Police Department officers sitting inside a patrol car and opened fire Saturday afternoon, shooting both of them fatally before running into a nearby subway station and committing suicide, police said.

The shooting took place in Brooklyn's Bedford-Stuyvesant neighborhood. Both officers were rushed to Woodhull hospital, where one was pronounced dead, police said. The second officer was later pronounced dead at the hospital, according to a senior city official and a law enforcement official with direct knowledge of the shooting. They were not authorized to speak publicly and spoke to The Associated Press on condition of anonymity.

Authorities say the suspect fatally shot himself inside the station. His motive wasn't immediately clear.

The NYPD has scheduled a news conference for 7 p.m. with Mayor Bill de Blasio to discuss the shooting.


https://www.youtube.com/channel/UC52X5wxOL_s5yw0dQk7NtgA
 
 
www.nydailynews.com  Eric Garner
A block from the shooting site, a line of about eight police officers stood with a German shepherd blocking the taped-off street. Streets were blocked even to pedestrians for blocks around.

Derrick Thompson, who lives nearby, said the shooting happened across from the Tompkins Houses public housing development.

"I was watching TV, and then I heard the helicopters," Thompson said. "I walked out, and all of a sudden — this."

The shooting comes at a tense time. Police in New York are being criticized for their tactics following the chokehold death of Eric Garner, who was stopped by police on suspicion of selling loose, untaxed cigarettes. Amateur video captured an officer wrapping his arm around Garner's neck and wrestling him to the ground. Garner was heard gasping, "I can't breathe" before he loses consciousness and later dies.

www.youtube.com
The president of the police officers union, Patrick Lynch, and de Blasio have been locked in a public battle over treatment of officers following the grand jury's decision. Just days ago, Lynch suggested police officers sign a petition that demanded the mayor not attend their funerals should they die on the job.

The last shooting death of an NYPD officer came in December 2011, when 22-year veteran Peter Figoski responded to a report of a break-in at a Brooklyn apartment. He was shot in the face and killed by one of the suspects hiding in a side room when officers arrived. The triggerman, Lamont Pride, was convicted of murder and sentenced in 2013 to 45 years to life in prison.



https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCap7Ck88yE-b49w8R0X_jCg
 
'It's really hard to understand just what the intention was of this gunman, I do know this, it can't be good for the current happenings between the NYPD and the folks who live in New York...'

Friday, November 28, 2014

Body of Megadeth Frontman Dave Mustaine’s Missing Mother-in-Law Found

Kevin Winter, Getty Images










by Spencer Kaufman November 27, 2014 1:39 PM

lostnmissing.org
Update: Medical examiners have confirmed that the body found is that of Dave Mustaine’s mother-in-law Sally Estabrook.

Sad news to report this Thanksgiving, as authorities believe they have found the body of Megadeth frontman Dave Mustaine‘s mother-in-law Sally Estabrook, who went missing in early October.

According to CBS 8, the San Diego County Sheriff’s Department reports that a body closely matching the description of the 75-year-old Estabrook was found Wednesday in shrubs about a half mile near the campsite where she went missing on Oct. 4. Estabrook had suffered from Alzheimer’s disease.

Over the past several weeks, search and rescue teams along with hundreds of volunteers had spent time searching for Estabrook. Mustaine, who had joined the search, had hoped that a caring person had found his mother-in-law and taken her in, but unfortunately that seems like it’s not the case. 

We’d like to send our best wishes to the Mustaine and Estabrook families during this very difficult time. A TV news report can be seen below.

http://loudwire.com/body-megadeth-dave-mustaine-missing-mother-in-law-found/

 
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xtFg3lSlJ44
 
 
'Man this is Sad indeed, I feel Bad that I missed this news yesterday, I do Wish the Best for Dave and his Wife, I was hoping for a better outcome....'

Please Read Related Post: Megadeth’s Dave Mustaine Believes Someone May Have Picked Up Missing Mother-in-Law

Sunday, November 23, 2014

US ‘moving away’ from Israel, Arab monarchies: Journalist

US Secretary of State John Kerry (left) speaks with President Barack Obama in the Oval Office of the White House in Washington DC. (file photo)







Sunday Nov 23, 201410:53 PM GMT
 
A nuclear agreement between Iran and the West will be a “very positive development” and "indicates a shift in US foreign policy”, an American journalist in Missouri says.
 
https://www.youtube.com/channel/UC9slx_T-Rjue2axR4IA9r5A
 
 
www.iranreview.org
The administration of US President Barack Obama is “moving away” from Israel, Western bankers and Arab monarchies in the Persian Gulf, said Dean Henderson, an author and columnist at Veterans Today.

“This is just a big moment if we can sign this [nuclear] deal with the Iranians, if we can normalize relations as a next step, get rid of these sanctions, be friends with the Iranians who are the most rational state in this region and move away from these [P]GCC monarchies, move away from the Israelis,” Henderson said on Sunday.

“I think there’s going to be a deal. It’s a very positive development in the Middle East and in the world generally, I think it really does indicate a shift in US foreign policy,” he told Press TV during a phone interview. 

Iran and the P5+1 group – the US, France, Britain, Russia, China and Germany – continued their talks in the Austrian capital Vienna on Saturday to work out a final deal aimed at ending the longstanding nuclear standoff before a November 24 deadline.

On Friday, Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif held fresh trilateral talks with US Secretary of State John Kerry and EU coordinator Catherine Ashton in Vienna.

Kerry arrived in Vienna on Thursday, and insisted that the talks were focused on a deal before the Nov. 24 deadline.

A group of 43 Republican senators, however, have sent a scathing letter to Obama, expressing “alarm” by the prospect of a nuclear accord with Iran and warning they would take new legislative action to impose further sanctions on Iran if they find the deal unacceptable.
 
www.presstv.ir
But Mohammad Javad Zarif (right) warned that an accord would only happen if the other side — the five permanent members of the UN Security Council plus Germany — refrained from making “excessive demands”. 

Zarif has said that a nuclear agreement would be possible if the P5+1 group discards it “excessive demands”.
Zarif  added that “If, because of excessive demands by the other side, we fail to get a result, then the world will understand that the Islamic Republic sought a solution, a compromise and a constructive agreement and that it will not renounce its rights and the greatness of the nation.”

AHT/DDB

http://www.presstv.ir/detail/2014/11/23/387228/us-moving-away-from-israel-saudis/

abcallaccess.com
'This has been an interesting story I have been following, but what is more interesting is how I watched Netanyahu's interview this morning on This Week with George Stephanopoulos... Being the type of poster to give a reaction from both sides, I went to the story at This Week and oddly the video would not play, hence I was unable to upload it to this story, until I did find a post of that video on Youtube, perhaps it is just my computer, so do check this link and let me know if the video works for you...'
 
http://abcnews.go.com/ThisWeek/video/israels-netanyahu-iran-nuclear-deal-historic-mistake-27119165


Netanyahu: Bad Deal a ‘Historic Mistake’
 
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HYI60VyuNpY

Saturday, November 22, 2014

Obama's political legacy fading fast

© AP  Barack Obama. Photograph: Jacquelyn Martin/AP










WASHINGTON — The Obama legacy wasn't supposed to unfold this way.

Barack Obama was changing the political map, pushing the Democratic Party into the South and the Mountain West. He was building a new social network that would endure long after an Obama presidency. And he was building a new Democratic coalition for a new age, with greater turnout from young and minority voters.

Today, those ambitions are in tatters.

Obama's once-vaunted team wound up doing little more than electing him twice. Without Obama on the ticket, Republicans not only soared in 2010 congressional elections, but scored victories broad and deep again in 2014.

"The 2014 election was a major defeat of Democrats — a wave election that will have long-term consequences," says a memo from Democratic strategists James Carville, Stan Greenberg, and Page Gardner, president of the Voter Participation Center, which advocates for single women voters.

A Gallup poll now found Democrats' favorability at its lowest level in the survey's 22-year history. The Democratic National Committee acknowledged the problem as it announced a "top to bottom" review of its operations. The party said in a statement that it "has failed to translate success in presidential years to midterms and off years."

Consider the many facets of Obama's political legacy:

—The map.

cronkitenewsonline.com

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9xdEG-znflk
 
'Man the Dems got beaten about the head and shoulders, and I am asking as I have for quite some time, are 'Term Limits' the answer???'

Korean Act PRITZ Criticized for Ripping Off BabyMetal + Use of Nazi-Like Imagery

Facebook: PRITZ









by Graham 'Gruhamed' Hartmann November 21, 2014 12:03 PM


en.rocketnews24.com
Love them or hate them, BabyMetal has become a worldwide phenomenon. The J-pop / metal hybrid act exploded in 2014 with the release of the band’s self-titled debut album, allowing the group to pack large venues even outside of their native Japan. However, a new band seems to be taking creative liberties from BabyMetal’s unique act, causing a major stir in the process.

BabyMetal began in 2010, and as the group started to gain international recognition, Korean pop / metal act PRITZ (Pretty Rangers in Terrible Zone) sprung up in 2013. On Nov. 17, PRITZ released a music video for ‘Sorasora,’ which mirrors the visual and sonic dynamics of BabyMetal. PRITZ is fronted by four young girls (as opposed to BabyMetal’s three) and is backed up by a group of hard rock / metal musicians. 

Those familiar with BabyMetal have been quick to criticize PRITZ for ripping off the Japanese sensation, but PRITZ has also come under fire for the use of Nazi-like imagery. Each of the four singers wear red and white armbands, reminiscent of Hitler’s Nazi regime. Instead of a swastika in the center of the armband, there is an X with arrowheads at each point. According to a representative for PRITZ, the symbol represents the group’s ambitions of expanding “without a limit in four directions.” 

The explanation hasn’t quenched the outrage against PRITZ, as can be seen in the comments section of the ‘Sorasora’ video. The clip also currently has around 1,400 “thumbs up’s” and about 2,000 “thumbs down’s.” 

Is PRITZ ripping off BabyMetal? Is the Korean act’s use of Nazi-like regalia going too far? Check out both BabyMetal and PRITZ in the clips below and decide for yourself.

http://loudwire.com/korean-act-pritz-criticized-ripping-off-babymetal-nazi-like-imagery/


BabyMetal, ‘Gimme Chocolate!!’



PRITZ, ‘Sorasora’



'Although PRITZ, does have four members instead of three, they are very uncanny in their appearance, so are they Ripping off BabyMetal, I will let you be the Judge....'

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

If You Want to Know What’s Happened to Our Democracy, Follow the Richest .01 Percent

by Robert Reich

www.robertreich.org

&

www.truthdig.com

The richest Americans hold more of the nation’s wealth than they have in almost a century. What do they spend it on? As you might expect, personal jets, giant yachts, works of art, and luxury penthouses.

And also on politics. In fact, their political spending has been growing faster than their spending on anything else. It’s been growing even faster than their wealth.

According to new research by Emmanuel Saez of the University of California at Berkeley and Gabriel Zucman of the London School of Economics, the richest one-hundredth of one percent of Americans now hold over 11 percent of the nation’s total wealth. That’s a higher share than the top .01 percent held in 1929, before the Great Crash.

We’re talking about 16,000 people, each worth at least $110 million.

One way to get your mind around this is to compare their wealth to that of the average family. In 1978, the typical wealth holder in the top .01 percent was 220 times richer than the average American. By 2012, he or she was 1,120 times richer.

It’s hard to spend this kind of money.

The uber rich are lining up for the new Aerion AS2 private jet, priced at $100 million, that seats eleven and includes a deluxe dining room and shower facilities, and will be able to cross the Atlantic in just four hours.

And for duplexes high in the air. The one atop Manhattan’s newest “needle” tower, the 90-story One57, just went for $90 million.

Why should we care?

Because this explosion of wealth at the top has been accompanied by an erosion of the wealth of the middle class and the poor. In the mid-1980s, the bottom 90 percent of Americans together held 36 percent of the nation’s wealth. Now, they hold less than 23 percent.

Despite larger pensions and homes, the debts of the bottom 90 percent – mortgage, consumer credit, and student loan – have grown even faster.

Some might think the bottom 90 percent should pull in their belts and stop living beyond their means. After all, capitalism is a tough sport. If those at the top are winning big while the bottom 90 percent is losing, too bad. That’s the way the game is played.

But the top .01 percent have also been investing their money in politics. And these investments have been changing the game.

In the 2012 election cycle (the last for which we have good data) donations from the top .01 accounted for over 40 percent of all campaign contributions, according to a study by Professors Adam Bonica, Nolan McCarty, Keith Poole, and Howard Rosenthal.

This is a huge increase from 1980, when the top .01 accounted for ten percent of total campaign contributions.

In 2012, as you may recall, two largest donors were Sheldon and Miriam Adelson, who gave $56.8 million and $46.6 million, respectively.

But the Adelsons were only the tip of an iceberg of contributions from the uber wealthy. Of the other members of the Forbes list of 400 richest Americans, fully 388 made political contributions. They accounted for forty of the 155 contributions of $1 million or more.

Of the 4,493 board members and CEOs of Fortune 500 corporations, more than four out of five contributed (many of the non-contributors were foreign nationals who were prohibited from giving).
All this money has flowed to Democrats as well as Republicans.

In fact, Democrats have increasingly relied on it. In the 2012 election cycle, the top .01 percent’s donations to Democrats were more than four times larger than all labor union donations to Democrats put together.

The richest .01 percent haven’t been donating out of the goodness of their hearts. They’ve donated out of goodness to their wallets.

Their political investments have paid off in the form of lower taxes on themselves and their businesses, subsidies for their corporations, government bailouts, federal prosecutions that end in settlements where companies don’t affirm or deny the facts and where executives don’t go to jail, watered-down regulations, and non-enforcement of antitrust laws.

Since the top .01 began investing big time in politics, corporate profits and the stock market have risen to record levels. That’s enlarged the wealth of the richest .01 percent by an average of 7.8 percent a year since the mid-1980s.

But the bottom 90 percent don’t own many shares of stock. They rely on wages, which have been trending downward. And for some reason, politicians don’t seem particularly intent on reversing this trend.

If you want to know what’s happened to the American economy, follow the money. That will lead you to the richest .01 percent.

And if you want to know what’s happened to our democracy, follow the richest .01 percent. They’ll lead you to the politicians who have been selling our democracy.

A Message From Us Rich Plutocrats To All You Little People

By Nick Hanauer, Contributor

Nick Hanauer
This is a response to an excerpt from Chrystia Freeland’s Plutocrats: The Rise of the New Global Super-Rich and the Fall of Everyone Else, published in October by Penguin Press.
Nick Hanauer is a successful entrepreneur and the author of Gardens Of Democracy: A New American Story Of Citizenship, the Economy, and The Role Of Government.

It’s great to be what you people are now calling a plutocrat.  I know.  I am one.

We plutocrats live incredible lives, surrounded by luxury and insulated from risk and discomfort.  Things have gone very well for us over the last several years.  Since George Bush left office, the stock market has doubled, we got a (sweet!) $700 billion rescue of the financial system, and corporate profits are at a 50-year high.  BOOYA!

The growing economic distance between people like me and the little people like you hasn’t been this great in a long, long time.  You may call that inequality.  We call it freedom.  But if things are going to continue to go this well, you people need to get with the program.  Here, I’d like to have a frank discussion about that.

It is something of a puzzle to many of you little people why we plutocrats, who have benefitted most from these trends, view President Obama with such intense disdain. Why, you might ask, given how good the economy has been to you plutocrats, are you so maniacally angry?
“Maybe,” you say to yourself, “I just don’t understand economics.”  I’ll let you in on a little secret.   You understand economics just fine. What you don’t understand is that this fight isn’t about economics.  It’s about status, privileges and power.

People like me don’t hate Obama because he’s going to raise our taxes, although we hate that plenty.  We hate him because his views about the importance and primacy of the middle class diminish our status.  The threat he represents isn’t economic; it’s existential.  It’s not just our pocket books that are threatened, but, more importantly, our prestige and our influence on this country.  Our manhood is at stake.

Facts are for little people.

We plutocrats have a long and proud history of controlling human societies, and the belief systems that we create about how the world works enable us to do that.  “Earth is the center of the solar system” was a useful one for us in the past.  “Lowering taxes on the rich produces growth” is one of our current favorites.  You show me an orthodox belief, and I’ll show you plutocrats who benefit from it.

Without me and my money, you wouldn't even have a job.
We understand human nature well enough to know that people believe and accept ideas for all sorts of reasons, but rarely because of facts or evidence.   Mostly, people believe what suits them, what makes them feel good.  And what makes us feel good is a set of beliefs that reinforce our status, privileges and power.

So it’s both annoying and hilarious that you people think you’re going to be able to talk us out of being plutocrats with “evidence” or “facts”.  Our current position and power is the only fact we care about. And we viscerally hate anyone who has the temerity to challenge it.

When Jack or Mitt or I call ourselves “Job Creators”, it isn’t because it’s true or that there is any evidence for it. It’s because being a job creator puts us right at the center of the economic universe – where we deserve to be.  This belief system isn’t just convenient to us, although it is. It’s essential in order to justify our status and power.

We used to call this divine right.  Today we call it “economics”.

You say democracy.  We say plutocracy.

You need to understand that as job creators, at the center of the economic universe, the better we do, the better it must be for you.  In particular, the richer we get and the less constrained by law and regulation we are, the more jobs will trickle downward.  Basically, the less we plutocrats contribute to society in tax, and the less constrained we are, the better it is for you and everyone else.   And you thought we didn’t care!

Maybe someday I'll give you a job serving me on my plane.
You need to accept as fact the idea that all prosperity trickles down from the top. That means that, economically speaking, we plutocrats matter.  It also means that you don’t matter.  Tax cuts for the rich create growth and jobs.  Investments in the middle class and the poor balloon the deficit and will bankrupt this great country.  National budget priorities that reflect this will be great for you and your family.  Really.

A bard once said that plutocrats hate regulation for the same reason that robbers hate cops.  That’s a cheap shot, and underappreciates the sophistication of our argument.  Since we are the “job creators”, any restraint on us necessarily decreases the jobs that trickle down to you.  That’s why we deserve a free hand to run the country in whatever way suits us best.  You show me a country with limited government and regulation, and I’ll show you some happy plutocrats busily “job-creating”.

Get With The Program!

So what’s puzzling you about why we hate Obama?  He’s in our way.  And that’s a much bigger threat to us than higher tax rates. Our incredible sway over politics, the economy and culture is being challenged.

Repeat after me.  You sir, are a job creator and the richer you get, the better off my family will be.  Regulation is bad, and the less of it we have, the better off my family will be.  Never forget these things.  And never forget that the rising inequality you see all around isn’t a sign of decay.   It’s a sign of prosperity.  Get with the program.  Now.  Or we will fire you.

SEE ALSO: Finally, A Rich American Destroys The Fiction That Rich People Create Jobs

Saturday, November 15, 2014

How Three Veterans Uncovered the Iraq War's Biggest Untold Story

popularmilitary.com  Chemical Weapons and WMDs in Iraq








twitter.com
John Ismay (left) was in the business of tracking explosives and bombs in surge-era Iraq. His first week there introduced him to an open secret: Coalition forces routinely found chemical weapons, and within a month, a soldier in his unit suffered a mustard blister on his leg the size of his hand.

“I was amazed I was never told about M-110 rounds before I got there,” Ismay says, referring to the chemical artillery rounds manufactured to produce a toxic effect on personnel and to contaminate habitable areas. “I never heard about guys who got hit by mustard and sarin.”

As a U.S. Navy explosive ordnance disposal officer, Ismay spent a lot of time thinking about the improvised explosives killing coalition troops. He put in long hours at operations centers, studying reports and looking for patterns set by insurgent bomb-makers to help soldiers find IEDs with their eyes and not their bodies. Chemical weapons like nerve agents and mustard were an afterthought when improvised explosives were the number-one killer of troops in Iraq. Yet at the same time, Iraqi and American soldiers recovered thousands of chemical munitions mostly in secret for three years before Ismay deployed to Iraq, leaving his troops and countless others to a grim lottery of sorting through damaged shells that might have led to paralysis by sharing the same air.

about.me
The landmark two-year New York Times investigation on the Iraq War’s secret chemical weapons casualties sits at the intersection of multiple daunting obstacles for journalists: military leaders who suppressed information from the public, injured war veterans who are skeptical of reporters, and dense webs of technical details in need of expert analysis. At the center was a team of three veterans—Ismay, New York Times correspondent C.J. Chivers (right), and videographer Mac Bishop—whose own services played a considerable part in reporting one of the biggest untold stories of the Iraq War.

abcnewsradioonline.com
What they uncovered was astonishing: U.S. and Iraqi forces had secretly recovered about 5,000 chemical weapons during the eight-year war, with the first report documenting 17 American and seven Iraqi soldiers injured by mustard and nerve agents—including the only documented battlefield exposures to a nerve agent in U.S. military history.  The Pentagon, later prompted by the story, revealed the number wounded as higher than 600. High-ranking officials reportedly engaged in subterfuge to downplay and conceal the danger to U.S. troops, and official recognition is nearly nonexistent. Purple Hearts awarded by Army Secretary Pete Geren were rescinded in one case due to convoluted rules of what defines enemy action with chemical weapons. Lifelong medical care will likely be necessary for the troops exposed, but that will be difficult in the Veterans Affairs system, which requires documentation to treat and compensate service-related injuries. In most cases for troops wounded by chemical weapons in Iraq, that documentation was aggressively avoided.




The United States went to war in Iraq expecting to destroy an active weapons of mass destruction program. Instead, it found only remnants of chemical arms built in close collaboration with the West. Video by Mac William Bishop and C.J. Chivers on Publish Date October 14, 2014.
 

www.newser.com
As Ismay finished his service commitment with the Navy in 2010, he read a New York Times piece detailing the complex origins of weapons found inside a Taliban gun locker. He then began corresponding with C.J. Chivers, the paper’s longtime conflict and arms reporter who wrote the piece. Ismay calls him Chris, but for seven years ending in 1994, he was Captain Chivers, a Marine infantry officer who served in the Gulf War.

Ismay couldn’t satisfy what he calls a “morbid curiosity” about the origins of the chemical weapons found in Iraq. His research stalled due to lack of evidence and Pentagon documentation, and he put his work in a drawer until Chivers came to him on the same subject. Chivers was following murmurs that chemical weapons designed by the West in the 1940s and used in the Iran-Iraq War were the same munitions that Americans and Iraqis were pulling out of weapons caches IED emplacements as recent as 2011.

truth-out.org
“This was basically an arms trade story,” Chivers says. Initially, Pentagon officials were tin-eared to their requests on the types of chemical weapons injuring U.S. soldiers and Iraqis, and no one would go on record.

“As the number of victims grew, as the number of collected munitions hit four figures, we realized we had a different story,” Chivers says. It was no longer about the weapons. It was now about the men wounded by them. All they had to do was listen to their stories.

Of all the occupations wary of outsiders, combat troops—men and women in an insular, competitive, and poorly understood culture—might be the most guarded. It’s an undeniable hurdle confronting any journalist who must use veterans as sources and guides through complex stories.

Chivers’ stature as one of the world’s top conflict reporters helped overcome that challenge. His reporting has even landed him on Pulitzer-winning teams at the New York Times. But a veteran doesn’t see journalistic accolades on Chivers’ sleeve when they meet him. They see his closely cropped hair and a Marine officer’s directness.

“Being a veteran helped to get people to speak with us candidly [about the story], and ask people to come forward, where there is a lot of disincentive for them to trust us with their stories,” Chivers says. “I have found time again that veterans talk to me because I was a Marine.”

The veterans interviewed in the story were privately frustrated with their experience but cautious of the media. Chivers communicated with them for months before the story began to take shape. It could’ve been longer without Chivers’ background and Ismay’s service in Iraq to boost their bona fides.

“There was a level of comfort because you don’t ask stupid questions,” Ismay says. “You don’t pity them, and you’re not condescending.”

Ismay is quick to point out that this heightened understanding is not uniquely imbued in veterans who become journalists, artists, or anyone else responsible for crafting work from the human condition. He cites Doonesbury creator Garry Trudeau as a civilian with immense understanding of war’s toll. Trudeau’s longtime character B.D. lost a leg in Iraq, rehabilitated at Walter Reed and battled post-traumatic stress. Trudeau never served a day in his life, yet he is as empathetic as he is pacifistic.

But for those with military backgrounds covering those who came after, is there a bias for covering those close to home? One might expect proximity to a culture to cloud perceptions or downplay institutional problems. Relatively few former football players were outspoken about domestic violence and brain injuries in the NFL until the recent scandals, for instance.

twitter.com
Past military experience gives veteran-journalists more space and credibility to scrutinize, says Mac Bishop (left), a former Marine who spent time as both an infantryman and a Japanese translator. Bishop joined Ismay and Chivers on the story last year, gathering interviews and acting as the videographer and co-producer for the story’s accompanied documentary.

“I can be very critical of someone in the military,” he says. “I couldn’t call out my captain, but as a journalist, I’m not afraid to challenge them when something that doesn’t sound right to me.”

The military is a reflection of society, Bishop says, where race and socio-economic diversity is more evenly distributed than he encountered in and out of college. But the larger population doesn’t understand that, he says. The public perception of the military and veterans is often a binary one: you’re either the unstable, PTSD-addled survivor, or you’re the celebrated hero invited to sing ‘God Bless America’ at the World Series.

That kind of simplification may bleed into reporting, which can be damaging given journalism’s role in shaping public opinion. But journalists are no more or less susceptible to view the military as an unknowable monolith—it’s just easier to identify. Bishop didn’t need to gain situational awareness or work through misconceptions when it came to working on military and veteran-related stories. He arrived ready-made.
  
“The military doesn’t have any mystery for me,” he says. “So I can say, ‘Look, we served at the same time. I’m not pretending I’m special, but I don’t think you’re special either.’”

Prior military service as a newsroom asset doesn't extend only to covering military and veteran issues. Journalism is about people at its foundation, and a wide breadth of exposure in the Marines has served Bishop well for stories on economics as much as chemical weapon injuries.

"Living beside, eating with and relying on people with upbringings different from my own was an education in itself, and strengthened my ability to quickly understand others and their motivations," he says. "I can think of few fundamental skills more valuable in a reporter."

The three veterans—Bishop, Ismay, and Chivers—met with troops wounded by weapons the public didn’t know were there, who watched Purple Hearts stripped off their chest, and came home to a VA system skeptical of their undocumented injuries when the world still believed no chemical weapons were found in Iraq. It wasn’t long before a spirit of social justice guided them.

“I put plenty of my Marines in the ground, whether that was in training accidents, drunk driving, all kinds of things,” Bishop says. “I thought, ‘These people could have served under me. They could have been me.’”

www.mcnelismedia.com
The military is ostensibly egalitarian, but the hierarchy holds a fundamental bias toward legitimacy and protection for the top, sometimes at the expense for those at the bottom. Chivers knows the bureaucracy from both ends and sees his work on this story as a “social leveling” for those caught on the damaging side of bureaucratic self-protection.

“When we sit down and listen, a specialist or a sergeant or a captain has as much and arguably more weight at our table then generals or senior staff, many of whom on this story were bullshitting us, where the rank-and-file—the guys who were in harm's way—were not,” he says.

“We’re not stuck in the rank structure anymore,” Chivers adds, “and we can stand against it with a certain knowing attitude and look at how these people have suffered with a particular understanding eye.”

Ismay agrees. He has seen first-hand how information gets squelched. He knows it’s preventable—a function of bad leaders who distance themselves from accountability and proactive decisions. “Having a Purple Heart taken away is disrespectful,” he says. There’s a complete lack of empathy among those leaders. And that’s a problem for me.”

www.ellsworth.af.mil
Perhaps only a former EOD technician could have concluded that the blame didn’t lie with incompetency at the ground level. “I’m trained to investigate when things go wrong. And these guys didn’t screw up,” Ismay says. “They were professionals who got wounded. They were wounded doing a job, in the line of duty.”

That quiet sacrifice is now a step closer to being fully recognized. Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel, in response to the story, has ordered all troops exposed to chemical weapons to undergo testing and long-term monitoring, along with a review of how the fiasco went on for so long out of the public view.


 'I admit I am Happy to be a part of spreading this story for all or most to see (please share so others can as well), too often the reality of PTSD and chemical weapons on the front have been overlooked, not so much by the families who have returning Loved Ones, but by the people who sent them there to begin with...'

 
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=f_tFKa2_YBQ
 
'Then we have this Fella who decided on Veteran's Day to send more troops to Iraq, in defense of our 'Freedom' but hey, it's not his fault, 'They Knew What They Were Getting Into When They Decided to Serve' 
 
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jxRiz6aDZSM
 
 
'And lastly, we have this Fella who still to this day is suffering from 'Protecting Our Freedom' or so he was told...'
 
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Z6Ye12mQvcw
 
 
'I really feel it's time, for the government to assist other countries to find solutions to their own problems, or could it be our involvement has been the problem??? I see no reason the U.S. thinks it is up to them to be the 'World Policeman' but I am sure others have a different perspective, so lets talk about it, I don't see Russia out there invading other countries en masse so what gives us the right???'