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118 Suicides in US Military During Second Quarter of 2015: Pentagon

118 Suicides in US Military During Second Quarter of 2015: Pentagon

The US Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) estimates that 22 former soldiers, sailors, airmen or Marines kill themselves every day, but the real figure is believed to be much higher. “In the second quarter of 2015, there were 71 suicides among service members in the active component, 20 suicides among service members in the reserve component and 27 suicides among service members in the National Guard,” the release read.

The Quarterly Suicide Report (QSR) summarizes confirmed suicide counts for all services and components during the months of April through July, and also includes total suicide counts for 2014, 2013 and 2012.

The VA acknowledges that that total number is based on a study of data collected from just 21 US states. Twenty-nine states that are unaccounted for include California and Texas, the two states with the largest veteran populations.

The VA has no accurate suicide figures later than 2010.

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Guns Kill An Average Of 36 People Every Day

Guns Kill An Average Of 36 People Every Day

The nation was once again confronted with the horror of a deadly school shooting on Thursday, this time a massacre at a community college in Roseburg, Oregon. A gunman killed at least 10 people and wounded nine before police fatally shot him. It marked the 45th shooting on a school campus this year, according to Everytown for Gun Safety, a group pushing for legislative reforms to reduce gun violence. It was the 142nd shooting at a school since the December 2012 rampage at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Connecticut.

Those numbers alone may come as a surprise, because we typically don't talk about school shootings unless they inflict a level of devastation that makes them impossible to ignore. Most people are familiar with Columbine and Sandy Hook. When we look at the bigger picture, however, those mass shootings are revealed as tragic outliers in the overall trend of gun violence that has infiltrated American schools.

On-campus shootings are themselves just a small part of U.S. gun violence. School shootings and even mass shootings -- of which there have already been hundreds in 2015, according to some counts -- are overshadowed, at least statistically, by the hail of bullets that rip through the nation each day, claiming an average of 36 lives.

These victims, more often than not, die without much public attention outside their communities. They are men and women like Annoqunette Starr, who was killed on Wednesday. People who knew her called her Ann. They say the 41-year-old was endlessly compassionate, and that her community in Louisville, Kentucky, adored her.

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Gallup: Americans’ Trust in Media Remains at Historical Low

Gallup: Americans’ Trust in Media Remains at Historical Low

In what is unlikely to be any surprise to liberals and progressives, at least, Gallup is reporting that Americans’ Trust in Media Remains at Historical Low. According to Gallup, “Four in 10 Americans say they have “a great deal” or “a fair amount” of trust and confidence in the mass media” – newspapers, TV and radio – “to report the news fully, accurately and fairly.” As I said, nothing new: “This ties the historical lows on this measure set in 2014 and 2012.”

The rub is that, as pointed out, “Prior to 2004, slight majorities of Americans said they trusted the mass media, such as newspapers, TV and radio.” Trust peaked at 55% in 1998 and 1999. Trust in television news alone was at a dismal 23 percent in 2013.

Which means, of course, that 77 percent of you were thinking, “Yeah…not so much.”

Have people become more cynical, or is the media genuinely less trustworthy?

It is easy to blame the loss of the Fairness Doctrine, eliminated by the FCC, but that event took place in 1987, yet most Americans continued to trust the media up until 2004. Another event often pointed to by liberals, the Fox News channel, launched October 7, 1996.

Perhaps more significantly, in 2003, the Bush administration launched the illegal invasion of Iraq based on widely reported but soon to be proven false claims about WMDs, and the lies kept on a rolling.

Gallup tells us that “Trust has typically dipped in election years, including 2004, 2008, 2012 and last year,” but they point out that 2015 is not a major election year.

Though Gallup doesn’t analyze the reasons, we can point out here that elections begin earlier and earlier, and this year has featured prominently the on-and-off again feud between Donald Trump and Fox News. Trump has been turning viewers away from Fox News in a concerted effort – including delegitimizing an easy target, the most prominent woman on Fox News, Megyn Kelly – to personally control all news about himself.

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10 dead, 7 hurt in Oregon community college shooting

10 dead, 7 hurt in Oregon community college shooting


A gunman opened fire at an Oregon community college Thursday. The rampage left ten dead, including the shooter, and seven people hurt. The gunman died during a shootout with police, authorities said. The shooting happened at Umpqua Community College in Roseburg, about 180 miles south of Portland.

Officials have identified the shooter as 26-year-old Chris Harper Mercer.   

Authorities offered no immediate word on the gunman's motive and said they were investigating.

Douglas County Sheriff John Hanlin said the gunman was killed in an exchange of gunfire with officers. The sheriff did not say whether the shooter was killed by officers or took his own life.

"We locked our door, and I went out to lock up the restrooms and could hear four shots from the front of campus," UCC Foundation Executive Director Dennis O'Neill told the Roseburg News-Review.

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Gandhi’s dedication to non-violence still remains example for all – UN chief

Gandhi’s dedication to non-violence still remains example for all – UN chief

United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon today called for a renewal of the commitment to non-violence and lives of dignity for all, noting that the example set by Indian independence leader Mahatma Gandhi is relevant now as it has ever been. “Today, at a time of escalating conflicts, rising extremism, massive displacement and rapidly growing humanitarian need, Mahatma Gandhi’s dedication to non-violence remains an example for us all,” Mr. Ban said at a special event held at UN Headquarters to mark the International Day of Non-Violence.

“The Day is observed annually on 2 October, the birthday of Mr. Gandhi, who pioneered the philosophy and strategy of non-violence.

"Gandhi proved that non-violence – the principle and the practice – can change history,” Mr. Ban noted. “His mass campaigns of non-violent civil disobedience helped pave the way for the independence of India, and have inspired countless movements for change across the world.”

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Georgia executes a woman for the first time in 70 years

Georgia executes a woman for the first time in 70 years

The first woman executed in Georgia in 70 years cried and sang "Amazing Grace" before she died early Wednesday, according to a witness, following pleas by the pope and her children for her life to be spared. Kelly Gissendaner, 47, died by injection at 12:21 a.m. EDT at Georgia Diagnostic and Classification Prison in Jackson, a prison spokeswoman said.

Gissendaner had been the lone woman on Georgia's death row after being sentenced for plotting the killing of her husband, Douglas, in 1997.

In the execution chamber, Gissendaner prayed and called her former husband an "amazing man who died because of me," according to television reporter Jeff Hullinger, who witnessed the injection.

Gissendaner was the 16th woman executed in the United States since the Supreme Court reinstated the death penalty in 1976.

Pope Francis, who concluded a six-day U.S. trip on Sunday and is an outspoken opponent of the death penalty, had urged officials to commute Gissendaner's death sentence.

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Saudi Arabia Accused Of Neglect Over Deadly Disaster At Hajj

Saudi Arabia faced new accusations of neglect Friday in the hajj disaster that killed over 700 people, the second tragedy at this year’s pilgrimage overseen by the kingdom’s rulers who base their legitimacy in part on protecting Islam’s holiest sites. Leading the criticism was regional Shiite powerhouse Iran, which always seeks an opportunity to undermine its Sunni adversary.

Iranian President Hassan Rouhani said in New York that at least 140 Iranians were killed. He suggested that “ineptitude” by the Saudi authorities involved in organizing the hajj was to blame for the two accidents this month that have resulted in at least 830 deaths.

In Tehran, the Iranian Foreign Ministry summoned a Saudi envoy for the second time in as many days to hear protests over the incident, a vice president blamed Saudi “mismanagement,” and thousands marched in the streets and denounced the Saudi royal family.

Saudi Arabia has spent billions of dollars and undertaken massive construction projects to make the annual hajj safer for the world’s Muslims, and the last serious loss of life had occurred nine years ago.

In the worst hajj disaster in a quarter century, two huge waves of pilgrims converged Thursday on a street near a religious site in Mina, and 719 people were crushed or trampled to death, while 863 were injured. That followed an accident Sept. 11 in which a storm toppled a crane at the Grand Mosque in Mecca that killed 111 people.

While Saudi authorities are still investigating Thursday’s accident, Health Minister Khalid al-Falih has blamed it on the masses themselves, telling a Saudi broadcaster that “some pilgrims had moved in the wrong direction amid the crowds.”

But a survivor who spoke to The Associated Press said some Saudi guards only exacerbated the stampede at Mina by refusing to open nearby gates that could have relieved the crush.

The street where the incident took place is about 12 meters (36 feet) wide and lined with barricades, behind which are tents of hajj tour groups. Pilgrims move in one direction to and from a religious complex, where they throw stones at pillars representing the devil. On Thursday, the crowds apparently collided with each other at an intersection, the Interior Ministry said.

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Dispatches: US Gives Brushoff to Women and Girls Raped in War

Dispatches: US Gives Brushoff to Women and Girls Raped in War

The United States plays a critical role in protecting the human rights of women and girls affected by war by raising concerns internationally and funding programs that aid sexual violence survivors. But – and it’s a very big but – the 1973 Helms amendment to the US Foreign Assistance Act undermines much of this important work. Yesterday, instead of choosing to reinterpret the amendment in a manner protective of women’s rights, the US government said it will stand by the law, as is.

It’s a reality that some women and girls subjected to rape in conflict become pregnant by their perpetrators. Healthcare providers funded by the US are limited in how they can help these rape survivors because the Helms amendment prohibits the use of US funding for abortion “as a method of family planning.” This has been interpreted to prohibit abortion even in the case of rape.

Concerns about the detrimental impact of the Helms amendment on rape in conflict are regularly raised by humanitarian organizations, including by the service providers who struggle to give rape survivors the care they need.

Governments at the United Nations Human Rights Council recently raised this concern during the review of the US human rights record. The Netherlands, United Kingdom, and Belgium, among others, encouraged the US to clarify that the Helms amendment, in its implementation, should recognize that women and girls raped in conflict are not seeking to use abortions as family planning. This would allow US funding to support a comprehensive package of health care for women and girls in the aftermath of wartime rape, including abortions for those who need or choose this option.

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Israel nuclear arsenal poses threat to entire world

Israel nuclear arsenal poses threat to entire world

Press TV has conducted an interview with Richard Silverstein, journalist and political commentator from Seattle, for his take on the International Atomic Energy Agency’s (IAEA) failure to adopt a resolution against Israel's nuclear activities.The following is a rough transcription of the interview.

- Why is Israel's nuclear arsenal never the subject of investigation?

Silverstein: Well I think that the arsenal is well known to many people around the world and to scholars and analysts so it is only a secret to people who do not want to know about it. But I was aghast that this vote at the IAEA added support for the opposition to the resolution by the European Union nations and the United States and many Western countries, it seems to me to be the height of hypocrisy to be claiming that Iran is a violator of nuclear safeguards when Israel is actually the one who has at least 200 nuclear warheads and is a real concrete danger to peace and stability in the region.

When Iran is a member of NPT and is agreeing to the nuclear deal that has just been approved by the US Senate, so that seems to me the height of hypocrisy.

- Of course the fact that Israel’s nuclear arsenal upsets the military balance in the Middle East calls into question of the very fact that: Will Israel ever use its nuclear weapons?

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UNHCR urges Europe to change course on refugee crisis

UNHCR urges Europe to change course on refugee crisis

UNHCR reiterates its deep conviction that only a united European emergency response can address the present refugee and migration crisis. Individual measures by individual countries will not solve the problem but will make an already chaotic situation worse, further the suffering of people and increase tension amongst states at a time when Europe needs more solidarity and trust.

UNHCR is particularly concerned about a series of restrictive measures recently introduced by Hungary and the way they are being implemented, resulting in extremely limited access for refugees at the border. New legislation includes deterrence measures, some contrary to international law and European jurisprudence when applied to asylum-seekers and refugees.

"UNHCR reiterates its call on the the Hungarian authorities to ensure unimpeded access for people in need of protection in line with its legal and moral obligations,"the UN High Commissioner for Refugees, António Guterres, said today. "States should manage their borders in a way that is consistent with International and EU Law, including guaranteeing the right to seek asylum," Guterres added.

Reports indicate that only a few asylum-seekers have been allowed to enter Hungary through the official border crossing point. UNHCR was especially shocked and saddened to witness Syrian refugees, including families with children who have already suffered so much, being prevented from entering the EU with water cannons and tear gas.

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