PBS Lets Vets Themselves Describe Life Inside the War Machine

'Going to War'Going to War. PBS. Monday, May 28, 9 p.m.

Served Like a Girl. PBS. Monday, May 28, 10 p.m.

So, an easy solution to the problem of Adderall abuse: It’s called “Afghanistan.”

“I think it’s hilarious that in America now, we have this big thing about medications and being present and all this other kind of stuff,” says a military veteran in PBS’ Going to War. “Because you’re never more present than you are in wars. Soldiers have figured this out eons ago. You have to be present to get shot at. I guarantee you are locked in.”

Going to War, produced by veteran documentarian Michael Epstein (LennoNYC) and spearheaded by commentary from war correspondent Sebastian Junger (Restrepo) and Vietnam veteran and author Karl Marlantes (What It Is Like to Go to War), is a collection of interviews with vets of U.S. wars over the past 60 years, plumbing their feelings about what to many was the most significant experience of their lives.

PBS has packaged it on Memorial Day with the peculiar but ultimately endearing tale of women back from the front, Served Like a Girl, the first directorial effort by filmmaker Lysa Heslov, airing as an episode of the Independent Lens series.

The relationship between soldiers and war is never as simple as outsiders make it out to be. Some certainly hate it. But others find a human resonance in war that otherwise eludes them: A sense of purpose, of brotherhood and even, paradoxically, of security. One vet interviewed in Going to War recalls that he felt safer in Vietnam, where “you know somebody’s got your back. In the world, it’s dog eat dog.”

That is, arguably, not a typical human response. But one of the most interesting things about the documentary is the frank admission of the soldiers—both male and female—is that they aren’t typically human, or at least weren’t when they were in the military. Going to war would be impossible, they say, if the military didn’t strip them of ordinary human sensibilities and rebuild them as a hive mind.

The whole point of basic training is aimed at obliterating any sense of individuality. “The ego, it has to go,” says one vet. When that’s accomplished, drill instructors begin levying collective punishments: If one soldier’s bunk isn’t made right, his whole unit has to do punishment marches. By the end, the vets say note approvingly, all notions of personal survivability have been erased. “The moment you have self-preserving thoughts,” says one, “everything’s going to hell.”

The near universality of the experience emerges in a segment of Going to War in which vets from different units, wars and decades are all asked the same questions and their answers edited together in a stream-of-conciousness rap. First thought upon entering a war zone: “What the hell am I doing?” Second: “What’s wrong with those guys I’m replacing?” says one. “Zoned-out zombies, a mean hard look on their face.” The third, at the sound of the first bullets: “My God, we’re being shot at.”

Within the common framework, of course, the soldiers have individual stories. One of the most chilling comes from Al Grantham, who quit his bricklaying job in Alabama to join the Marines and fight in Vietnam. Knocked senseless by a North Vietnamese bullet during the battle of Hue, he was loaded onto a stack of casualties on the back of a tank and hauled outside the city. It wasn’t until he heard a medic shout, “Hey, this one’s not dead yet”—Grantham’s first thought was, “that poor sumbitch must be hurt bad”—that he realized the rest of the passengers on the tank were corpses and the poor sumbitch was him.

Yet the thinness and easy erasability of the line between life and death were not, for many of the vets, the most frightening discovery. It was the realization that they were, in some fundamental way, broken. “You’re tired of being tired, you’re scared of being scared,” remembers one.

And a former Marine describes with agonizing calm a day in Iraq when six car-bombs exploded in 15 minutes around his unit’s urban position. When the explosions finally stopped, all that could be heard were the shrills of Iraqi women cradling their dead. The Marine officer, trying to count his men and plot his next move, could barely hear himself think. “Maybe, he wondered idly, “I could kill them to shut them up.” His next shocked thought: “What am I capable of? … My God-given conscience is not going to stop me from doing these things.”

Served Like a Girl, in the early going, seems almost whimsical by comparison. It follows the contestants in the Ms. Veteran America beauty pageant, which raises money to support homeless vets.

They seem, mostly, an ordinary collection of female twentysomethings with only the occasional crackpot loose end—notably the contestant whose mother’s nipple was pecked off by a chicken. (“He had my nipple and I had his butt,” she declares without rancor.) Backstage at the pageant, much of their conversation consists of which self-administered sex toys best stand up to the rigors of desert warfare.

But as the film continues, the scars left by their combat tours start to be revealed: Broken marriages and child-custody fights. Macabre nightmares. Crippling guilt that they walked away from an IED explosion and their companions didn’t. Not all the scars are emotional. It’s not until about a third of the way through Served Like a Girl that you realized that one principal character is missing her legs. The Miss America pageant will never look quite the same to me again.

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Megyn Kelly vs. Dick Cheney: An accountability moment for the ex-veep

Fox News contributor Byron York writes in the Washington Examiner: “The former vice president simply does not take into account the Bush administration’s failures in Iraq. Reciting President Obama’s own failures, Cheney writes: ‘Rarely has a U.S …

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NSW Labor Leader Backs Down on ‘White Flight’ Comments Amid Backlash

The NSW opposition leader, Luke Foley, has apologised for using the term “white flight” to describe changing demographics in Sydney’s west, hours after he defended it.

“I won’t use that term again. Some people find it offensive, so I apologise. I want the entire focus to be on growing jobs and building better schools and Tafes in these suburbs,” he told Ten Eyewitness News.

Mr Foley was forced to defend the comments made in an interview with The Daily Telegraph, which appeared under the headline “Stop White Flight”.

He told the NSW tabloid that “many Anglo families” are relocating from suburbs such as Fairfield because they lack the education, resources and employment opportunities to support huge numbers of refugees.

Earlier, the Labor leader defended the language, saying the issue is more about class than race, and that it’s an academic term.

“It’s an identifiable phenomenon in many western cities that reflect the changing cultural mix of many suburbs,” he told ABC radio on Thursday when defending his comments.

“This is a class issue more than a race issue.”

Mr Foley named Fairfield, Guildford, Yennora, Sefton, Granville, Regents Park as suburbs of concern where there were large numbers of Syrian and Iraqi refugees.

“I don’t want anyone to think you have to move out of those suburbs to do well in life, that’s what I’m fighting,” he said.

When asked whether he was simply engaging in dog-whistle politics, Mr Foley said he supported the refugee intake but wanted more services to support the communities.

NSW Opposition Leader Luke Foley (left).

AAP

He also highlighted that he was the only NSW political leader who had ruled out any preference deal with One Nation’s Pauline Hanson.

“I won’t have a bar of her divisive race-based politics,” he added.

Meanwhile, One Nation senator Pauline Hanson praised Mr Foley for his “white flight” comments.

“I’ve been saying this and I said it twenty years ago, there would be places that we won’t even recognise as being Australian,” Senator Hanson told the Today show on Thursday.

“I said they’re forming ghettos and that’s exactly what’s happening. And people are starting to talk about it. Yes, they are … people are forced out of their homes that they grew up in … because they are not assimilating.

“We don’t put restrictions on that they must speak English, they must assimilate into our society, respect our laws and our culture.

“Good on Luke Foley because it needs to be debated.”

The post NSW Labor Leader Backs Down on ‘White Flight’ Comments Amid Backlash appeared first on American Renaissance.

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Iraq Elections: Will Sadr Seek a New Beginning With Turkey?

Iraqi Shiite cleric Muqtada al-Sadr’s coalition scored major points in the recent parliamentary elections with Sadr’s positions against virulent influence peddling and the presence of foreign military forces in the country.

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RISE Armament Partners with Folds of Honor

RISE Armament Partners with Folds of Honor
RISE Armament Partners with Folds of Honor

Broken Arrow, Oklahoma-(Ammoland.com)- RISE Armament, a premier manufacturer and supplier of AR firearms and components, is proud to announce its new Patriot High-Performance Trigger and corresponding partnership with Folds of Honor.

Dedicated to honoring and aiding veterans, Folds of Honor provides educational scholarships to the children and spouses of those who were killed or disabled while serving our nation. RISE Armament is proud to partner with Folds of Honor, donating a portion of each Patriot Trigger’s purchase price to the foundation.

“Saying we’re proud to help out and donate to Folds of Honor is an understatement,” says Matt Torres, president of RISE Armament. “Veterans’ families are often overlooked, which is really a shame. Our troops and their families have tremendous courage and have made so many sacrifices. It’s our duty as Americans, as patriots, to take care of them and honor what they’ve done for us all.”

There are more than 1 million fallen or disabled United States service members, and nearly 2 million military heroes’ dependents are negatively impacted by war. More than three-fourths of the families don’t qualify for federal aid, but the cost to provide educational scholarships to the dependents is $9 billion. Through the Patriot Trigger and other initiatives, RISE Armament is assisting Folds of Honor in its mission to help fill that void.

The Patriot High-Performance Trigger is an easy-to-install, accuracy-enhancing rifle upgrade. The trigger has a crisp, clean release and ultra-short reset for faster follow-up shots and improved accuracy. It has a light, 3.5-pound pull and straight trigger blade. A limited-edition item, the drop-in trigger group includes a commemorative challenge coin. It also includes free tools and anti-walk pins for fast and easy trigger installation. It is available from select retailers beginning Memorial Day weekend.

Specifications and Features of the Patriot Trigger:

  • Single-stage trigger system with a lightened trigger pull (3.5-lb. pull weight)
  • Helps you shoot more accurately with less effort
  • Ultra-smooth to the break with a crisp, clean release
  • Incredibly short reset and low overtravel for faster follow-up shots
  • Premium EXO nickel boron coating on interior parts for reduced friction and smoother contact surfaces
  • Straight trigger blade for enhanced control and lighter-feeling pull weight
  • Lightened hammer
  • Drop safety feature
  • Includes a commemorative challenge coin, which features Folds of Honor on one side and RISE Armament on the other
  • Includes free anti-walk pins and wrenches for installation
  • Self-contained design makes it easy and quick to install with no fine-tuning needed
  • Features a bright red 8625 hardcoat anodized aluminum cassette housing with an American flag design and the Folds of Honor logo
  • Manufactured and assembled in RISE Armament’s Oklahoma facility according to strict AS9100 aerospace requirements, which are more stringent than standard gun manufacturing requirements
  • CNC machined from high-grade, heat-treated tool steel and aluminum
  • Fits .223/5.56 and .308 AR-style platforms with Mil-Spec dimensions
  • Backed by RISE Armament’s lifetime manufacturing warranty.

About RISE Armament:RISE Armament Logo

We’re machinists, engineers, executives, hog hunters, target shooters, and coyote killers. Some of us are veterans. All of us are patriots. We’re God-fearing, country-loving, down-to-earth folks who take pride in providing TIER 1 products to our fellow countrymen. We work hard. We play hard. Our values run deep. Our roots are in manufacturing — machining and fabricating for the oil and aerospace industries. In the past, we would shoot and build a few guns when we got the chance. Now, we still shoot, and we manufacture lots of guns. We also machine gun parts and accessories. Our objective is simple — to unleash every shooter’s potential and elevate the shooting experience. For more information, visit www.risearmament.com.

About Folds of Honor:

Folds of Honor is a 501(C)(3) nonprofit organization that provides educational scholarships to families of military men and women who have fallen or been disabled while on active duty in the United States armed forces. Our educational scholarships support private education tuition and tutoring for children in grades K-12, as well as higher education tuition assistance for spouses and dependents. Founded in 2007 by Major Dan Rooney, an F-16 fighter pilot in the Oklahoma Air National Guard who served three tours of duty in Iraq, Folds of Honor is proud to have awarded nearly 16,000 scholarships in all 50 states, as well as Guam, Puerto Rico and the Virgin Islands, including more than 3,500 in 2017 alone. For more information or to donate in support of a Folds of Honor scholarship, visit www.foldsofhonor.org.

The post RISE Armament Partners with Folds of Honor appeared first on AmmoLand.com.

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A Mostly Non-Assyrian Militia Won 2 Of Iraqi Assyrian’s Parliamentary Seats

WASHINGTON — A mostly non-Christian militia linked to a brutal Iranian-backed paramilitary group secured two of the five seats in Iraq’s parliament reserved for Christians, according to official election results announced Saturday.

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Iraq’s election may have had widespread voter fraud – AEI – American Enterprise Institute: Freedom, Opportunity, Enterprise

Wednesday marks the deadline in Iraq for reporting incidents of voter fraud. Iraqis from across the political spectrum all say that incidents of cheating were higher this time than in any of Iraq’s previous elections, and most blame irregularities and problems with a new electronic voting system. While it is a truism that Iraqis disappointed in their results often imagine cheating rather than acknowledge their own failures to appeal to a broader electorate, there is enough anecdotal evidence and real questions about the system to merit investigation.

Facebook (and Whatsapp) remain the major ways many Iraqis consume news. In recent days, an Arabic article titled the “Lying Boxes” has been widely circulated among both Kurdish and Arab, Sunni and Shiite political leaders. It provides a deep dive into accusations that the electronic voting system employed for the first time this month was a complete failure on multiple fronts.

The Independent High Election Commission, a body that long ago lost its independence and is now staffed by apparatchiks from the major parties, contracted with a mysterious and little-known Korean company to provide ballot boxes that scan votes and uplink them to a central database upon the closure of polls. That Korean company had little track record, has little behind it but a webpage, and the single international election Iraqis say it previously managed in Kyrgyzstan ended in disaster.The company provides no photos of its operations in Kyrgyzstan, leading to further questions about whether its claims of operations there are true. There is also a question why the IHEC contracted with a company office in Poland and signed the contract in Turkey if Miro System is truly is based in South Korea beyond simply a name on a registry absent an address.

The alleged problems get worse. Iraqi leaders also say a preliminary audit by the United Nations of the elections management system, the data archive system, and the survey/statistical system had failed. Nevertheless, the IHEC went forward. On election day, some candidates say the receipts produced by the boxes did not match figures uploaded to the central count, and some candidates say some boxes returned zero votes for themselves when they were where the candidates themselves voted. Nor do the USB serial numbers from the boxes necessarily always match.

While the IHEC has reportedly received upward of 1,000 complaints, it appears disinclined to order a manual recount, let alone to cancel the elections, for two reasons. First, they and much of the Iraqi political class fear violence could occur if a recount strips some politicians (especially from Muqtada al-Sadr’s list) of seats. And second, because they do not want to cast doubt on the legitimacy of electronic voting. Many Iraqis shrug and say that cheating benefited some disenfranchised others, but most people will be brought into a ruling coalition one way or another.

This is wrong-headed, and the IHEC should order a partial, random manual recount (perhaps of 25 percent of the ballot boxes) if nothing else as a backup internal audit to enhance confidence in elections now and in the future. If the IHEC does not do so, many Iraqis think, it will be because they fear they’ll have a major problem on their hands if the audit shows a real discrepancy between the ballots cast and the automated count from the scan.

Such a discrepancy would either indicate software problems or perhaps hacking. But the conspiracies now circulating (some Kurds blame Turkey or Masoud Barzani’s dominant Kurdistan Democratic Party for some of the bizarre results coming out of Iraqi Kurdistan, while others blame Gulf states for hacking to benefit Muqtada al-Sadr as their new anti-Iranian tool) erode confidence in Iraqi democracy far more seriously. There is no indication the flash drives and data transfers were secure.

It’s always possible that allegations of voting box irregularities are the result of sour grapes on the part of those lists and parties who did worse than expected, but the idea that an audit would undercut confidence in future elections is wrong-headed; indeed, the reality is the opposite. It is positive that Iraqi elections are unpredictable and Iraqis wish to hold incumbents and the broader political class to account, but that too does not justify the possibility of cheating and manipulation.

One Iraqi politician from a major political bloc found it ironic that the only item the U.S. and Iranian embassies appeared to agree on in Baghdad was to ignore the allegations of voter fraud for the sake of stability. This is unacceptable.

The future confidence in Iraqi democracy is far more important than the inconvenience of a manual recount. The political jockeying can continue (a handful of seats may be in question, especially in Iraqi Kurdistan and perhaps with some of the Shiite-dominated lists as well), but no future government will be fully legitimate in voter eyes if questions over the authenticity of results are swept under the rug.

As Ronald Reagan said in a different context, “Trust, but Verify.” Iraqi voters deserve verification.

Read more from American Enterprise Institute…

US in Contact With Al Sadr After Shock Win in Iraq Election

(Reuters) — The United States has contacted members of a political bloc headed by former foe Moqtada Al Sadr after his parliamentary election victory put the Shiite cleric in a strong position to influence the formation of a new government, a top aide said.

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