Saturday, January 12, 2019

Peace has to be patterned

  1. What??? New poll says more democrats support U.S. war policies than republicans? I guess we shouldn't be surprised after eight years of war under Obama and two years of liberal corporate media pushing war and U.S. imperialism.

Exactly.  That's what happens when people do anything, lie, cheat, to win.  If you have no ethics, it rubs off because behavior is patterned.

We need to find our voice against war and use it.  We need to use it daily, over and over.

There's no reason for silence -- we've got wars going on all over the world.

Use your voice.

The Green Party is for US troops out of Syria.  I'm a Green Party member.  And I'm for the withdrawal.  If I was too scared to say that I'm for US troops out of Syria, I could still get the conversation going by saying, "Did you hear? The Green Party favors troop withdrawal from Syria."  We need to find a way to make peace a part of our daily discussions.

This is C.I.'s "Iraq snapshot:"

Friday, January 11, 2019.   Violence as another car bomb explodes while the issue of Kirkuk continues to be ignored and much more.

Iraq is again slammed with violence as a car bomb explodes today.

Car Bomb Kills, Wounds over a Dozen in Western Iraq -

XINHUA reports:

Up to two people were killed and 25 injured Friday in a car bomb explosion in the town of al-Qaim near the border with Syria, official and security sources said.
"The final casualties from the car bomb explosion at a marketplace in al-Qaim town is two civilians killed and 20 others wounded, along with five policemen," said Nadhim al-Dulaimi, head of al-Qaim town council, told Xinhua.

The violence never ends.  And, yes, the violence includes the non-stop bombing of northern Iraq by the government of Turkey.  Ahmet Salih Alacaci (AA) repeats the claims by the Turkish government:

Five PKK terrorists were neutralized in northern Iraq overnight, the Turkish Defense Ministry announced early Friday.
Turkish authorities often use the word "neutralized" in their statements to imply that the terrorists in question either surrendered or were killed or captured.
Airstrikes carried out in Hakurk region neutralized terrorists plotting attacks on Turkish bases, the ministry said on Twitter.

The reality is that most Turkish targets have been civilian targets.  But the Turkish government doesn't admit to that or issue statements explaining that. And AIRWARS and other outlets aren't interested in tracking those bombings.  So civilians are wounded and die from these bombings over and over.  Iraq's Ministry of Foreign Affairs did condemn these bombings at the end of last year, a least that's something.

The US-led war was supposed to bring peace, democracy -- large servings of 'freedom' fries for each and every Iraqi.  It's brought nothing but death and destruction.  And it continues to this day.  In fact, the 16th year anniversary of this still never ending war is mere months away.  Is the objection from Iraq's Foreign Ministry something that can be built on?  Let's hope so because this constant bombing is not an answer.

TREND notes, "The conflict between Turkey and PKK, which demands the creation of an independent Kurdish state, has lasted more than 35 years, claiming more than 40,000 lives. PKK is recognized as a terrorist organization by the UN and the EU."  If you accept that description, explain how the Turkish government endlessly bombing villages makes the civilians admire Turkey?  Explain how these bombings -- of innocent civilians -- don't just create more anger and breed terrorism?

Aaron Hess (INTERNATIONAL SOCIALIST REVIEW) explained in 2008, "The Kurds are the world's largest stateless population -- whose main population concentration straddles Turkey, Iraq, Iran, and Syria -- and have been the victims of imperialist wars and manipulation since the colonial period. While Turkey has granted limited rights to the Kurds in recent years in order to accommodate the European Union, which it seeks to join, even these are now at risk."

Along with grasping the historical grievances the Kurds have -- which are not addressed by the international community -- grasp that US troops are in Iraq.  In case anyone forgot . . .

U.S. and Iraqi soldiers and airmen tour aviation assets and capabilities of the Iraqi Army Aviation Team at Camp Taji, Iraq, Dec. 20. The Coalition Aviation Advisory and Training Team stood up in Feb. 2018 to enhance the ISF’s aviation capabilities.

There are US troops on the ground Iraq.  (Officially, it's around 5,200.  Unofficially, that does not include a list of troops which includes Special-Ops.)  And it has not prevented Iraq from being bombed by Turkey.

Yet some are insisting that US troops must remain in Syria to . . . protect the Kurdish population from, get this, the Turkish government.

Again, US troops have been on the ground in Iraq for nearly 16 years and that hasn't helped the Kurds in northern Iraq one bit.  Time and again, we are told that doing the exact same thing one more time will work out differently this time.


Is the argument that "just enough elbow grease" wasn't put in on the last attempt?

As what time, as taxpayers, do we demand that the US government stop wasting our money by pursuing these endless wars that never end and never produce peace?  At what point do we scream, "Stop playing with out money!"  That's what we let them do.  And their play results in the deaths of so many.  Where are the results?  There are none -- none that can argue for these continued wars.

If you can't support a peace position, you'd think people could at least get on board with refusing to continue to toss out more millions on a failed strategy.

SPUTNIK offers an embarrassing interview with Iraq War veteran Ben Hodges where Hodges does allow he's surprised the war is still ongoing.

He gets one more thing right, the US government installed puppets (I believe he says the "wrong people" -- there are no right puppets).  But mainly he blathers on about how he doesn't know what happened to Saddam Hussein's weapons, but he had them, he had them, he had chemical weapons, he had them.  He sounds like the drunk that refuses to leave at closing time.

No, he did not have Weapons of Mass Destruction.  If soused Ben can't recall reality, let's help him out.

Bully Boy Bush told the public that we didn't want "a mushroom cloud" -- nuclear.  He lied about ties Saddam Hussein had to al Qaeda.  He lied about the Iraqi government pursuing yellow cake uranium.  He refused to let the weapons inspectors do their work and instead forced them to pull out of the country before they could finish inspections.

Let's hope Ben Hodge is a happy drunk because he's certainly not a helpful one.  Move it, Ben, we've got to sweep the floor and marry the catsups, go home.

That really is the truth about war as well.  US out of Iraq.  Let the clean up and rebuilding begin because it can't happen while you continue to occupy the country (and back the puppets the US government has installed).

Reminder, WMD was the basis of the war for public consumption.  Remember THE NEW YORK TIMES began selling that in October of 2001.  They were front paging it.  And not just Judith Miller,  Or just Michael Gordon.  Chris Hedges wrote an infamous front page article -- based on anonymice and other squeak toys -- which blew up in his face and where is that day of personal reckoning for Hedges?

Lies started the war, lies continue the war.

Let's note a photo essay.

📷 has endured decades of sanctions, war, invasion, regime change and dysfunctional government. In , our photographer captured its people’s determination to overcome past upheavals ➜

We'll come back to the Crisis Group.  For now, AFP reports:

Iraqi special forces deployed Thursday in Kirkuk after the raising of the Kurdish flag over a political party headquarters revived tensions more than a year after Baghdad seized the disputed northern city.
Iraq’s counter-terrorism chief gave President Barham Saleh’s Patriotic Union of Kurdistan (PUK) until noon on Friday to lower the red, white, green and yellow flag of the autonomous region of Iraqi Kurdistan.
Under Iraq’s constitution, multi-ethnic Kirkuk province is controlled by the central government in Baghdad.

Disputed, oil rich Kirkuk.  The Crisis Group notes:

Regardless of the Kurdish region’s final political status, given its designation in the Iraqi constitution as a federal region it must have an agreed-upon internal boundary with the rest of Iraq. As long as Baghdad and Erbil can find a formula for sharing Iraq’s oil revenues, including those deriving from Kirkuk, that boundary’s location becomes less politically sensitive. Indeed, in its study on the disputed territories UNAMI discovered that many people in these areas would prefer an “in-between” status for these districts that would preserve their diversity and intercommunal harmony. This would require a series of local power-sharing and joint security arrangements, as well as an overall revenue-sharing deal between the federal government and the KRG.

Domestically, support for a renewed attempt at settling the boundary question is growing. Iraq’s new president, Barham Salih, has signalled his intent to address the matter, and parliamentarians with Muqtada Sadr’s winning Sairoun list have visited the Kurdish region to initiate discussions. They will need outside support.
  The regional environment is also conducive to this effort. When the Iraqi army retook the disputed territories from Kurdish forces in October 2017, the federal government had the support of Iran, Turkey, European states and the U.S., all of which had publicly warned the KRG not to proceed with a Kurdish independence referendum the previous month, viewing it as a step toward Iraq’s breakup. Their support for Iraq’s territorial integrity has translated in the past into support for efforts to bring Baghdad and Erbil to the table on the disputed territories question, and should do so again.

In assuming this task, the incoming UNAMI chief, Jeanine Hennis-Plasschaert, should start by testing the political waters, increasing staff dedicated to the issue and developing a strategy for addressing it. In the meantime, the UN should help defuse the fallout between Baghdad and Erbil from the independence referendum, when the federal government and Iran took punitive measures against the Kurdish region by banning international flights and blocking Kirkuk oil from flowing through the 
Kurdish pipeline to Turkey. The government has reversed some of these measures, but talks on remaining ones are ongoing and the UN can shepherd them to a successful conclusion. Next, UNAMI should start negotiations focusing on “low-hanging fruit”, such as joint security mechanisms in the disputed territories that would prevent ISIS from exploiting security gaps between contending military actors. Ultimately, UNAMI should focus the two sides on the big questions: revenue sharing (not discussed in this report) and the status of the disputed territories.

The alternative is letting the issue linger and hoping that it does not turn violent again. 

Letting the issue linger?

Kirkuk -- per Iraq's Constitution -- Article 140 -- was supposed to have been resolved by a referendum no later than December 2007.  The Iraqi government refused to do so.  It's still not taken place.  And the US government ignores it because they don't support the KRG -- or stand by any Constitution.  The Rand Corporation warned, while Bully Boy Bush still occupied the White House, that this issue needed to be resolved and that "kicking the can" would only create more problems.

It's still not resolved, it's still a source of tension and conflict.

What has the ongoing war accomplished?  Not a damn thing.

The following community sites updated:

  • Friday, January 11, 2019

    Green Party supports US withdrawal from Syria

    Okay, this is from the Green Party:

    Calls for Withdrawal of All Military Forces From the Region

    The Green Party Peace Action Committee (GPAX) supports the withdrawal of U.S. troops from Syria, consistent with its broader call to end all U.S. acts of military aggression, occupation and intervention in the internal affairs of all sovereign nations.

    A chorus of commentators in the corporate media, leaders of the military-industrial complex and members of Congress from both corporate parties were quick to condemn President Trump’s announcement of the planned withdrawal last month. Although the criticisms were framed as opposition to President Trump for his poor judgment, which made the criticisms more politically palatable, the real reason for this opposition is that the U.S. ruling class has long pushed for the overthrow of the Assad government in Syria -- especially after President Bashar Al-Assad rejected Western plans for a $10 billion pipeline to ship natural gas from Qatar to Turkey in 2009.

    Some Americans who ordinarily oppose U.S. war and intervention may find themselves persuaded to oppose the withdrawal because the initiative came from Trump. However, such opposition is ill-founded. To support a particular action by the president does not imply support for the president himself, trust in his judgment or motives – or even that he will make good on his promise. Such actions must be evaluated on their own merits. In this particular instance, for whatever reason, President Trump has announced an action that merits support by the peace movement and all Americans. He should be encouraged to take further like actions, not criticized simply because so many of his other policies and statements merit criticism.

    Criticisms of the proposed withdrawal are based on the flimsiest of pretexts. Many critics cited Secretary of Defense James “Mad Dog” Mattis’s resignation in protest after Trump’s announcement, lauding Mattis as a “stable figure” in the administration. In aligning themselves with the likes of Mattis, critics are making common cause with a sociopathic war monger who dismissed reports of civilian casualties in Iraq, and once remarked that it was “a hell of a hoot” and “fun to shoot some people” in Afghanistan.

    Other critics feigned concern over the fate of Kurds in Syria, ignoring the long U.S. history of using the Kurds as a surrogate force and political football, repeatedly courted and rejected as U.S. ruling class interests dictate. Although Kurds in Syria were concerned about being attacked by Turkey, they were savvy enough to see which way the wind was blowing and are already reaching a rapprochement with the Assad government to ensure their security.

    Finally, critics raise the specter of a resurgence in ISIS if the United States leaves – a criticism made ridiculous by a tremendous body of evidence showing that the rise of ISIS was itself a product of U.S. intervention in the region.

    More importantly, critics of the withdrawal overlook two fundamental facts. First, U.S. funding of insurrection in Syria, and its bombing, drone strikes and military occupation of a large swath of Syrian territory are all utterly illegal under international law. Like all U.S. attacks on other sovereign nations, these acts are in violation of the Kellogg-Briand Pact, the Nuremberg Charter and the United Nations Charter, all treaties to which the United States is a signatory. These acts, ordered in the first place by former president Obama, were also patently unconstitutional, made possible by an abdication of Congress’s exclusive constitutional authority to declare war.

    Second, the attacks on Syria, like all U.S. attacks on other sovereign nations, do not in any respect serve the interests of the working-class majority of the United States. Rather, they represent the designs of Big Oil, the military-industrial-congressional complex, the Deep State, and other ruling-class interests that profit immensely from U.S. domination of the globe and perpetual warfare.

    These acts of war do not enrich working-class people. They represent an enormous theft of financial resources badly needed to combat climate change, provide health care for all, higher education for all who desire it, and economic security for all. Military spending does not create jobs; it destroys jobs. Every bomb dropped and every drone strike represents millions of dollars less for schools, health care, affordable housing, public transportation, infrastructure repair and essential services.

    And of course, every bomb dropped and every drone strike on working men, women and children in nations like Syria is a thoroughly immoral and inhumane act, causing mass death, incalculable human suffering, and contributing to a global refugee crisis.

    We stand with the people of Syria in demanding an end to all foreign intervention in Syria, a restoration of its national sovereignty, and an end to the seven-year nightmare the people have been living. An end to “intervention” must include not only the removal of all U.S. ground troops, but the removal of all occupying forces, mercenaries, private contractors, an end to CIA and other covert intervention, an end to support for surrogate forces in Syria, and end to attacks on Syria staged from Iraq or other countries, and an end to aerial assaults on Syrian territory.

    We further call on the peace movement and all concerned Americans to demand that the Trump administration and Congress put an end to all U.S. acts of military aggression, occupation and intervention in the internal affairs of other sovereign nations, close all U.S. foreign military bases, and conduct U.S. foreign policy in a peaceful manner, in compliance with international law.

    The Peace Action Committee of the Green Party of the United States (GPAX) exists to facilitate the planning and achievement of peace and justice action proposals adopted by GPUS, and to support and promote the Party’s Anti-War candidates and agenda.

    This is C.I.'s "Iraq snapshot:"

    Thursday, January 10, 2019.  Another VA scandal, more assaults under investigation in the US military, nothing ever changes . . .

    Starting in the US.  In Congressional hearing after hearing, pompous VA officials claim that they are helping veterans and that they are focused on their job duties.  Some are more convincing at the pose than others -- Allison Hickey, for example, fooled only the deeply stupid.  Don't weep for Allison.  Forced to resign in disgrace, she now has a high paying job at The Spectrum Group where she trades on the power her former VA position once gave her.  Yeah, she's another cheap hustler but, then again, wasn't that all she ever was?

    The VA has far too many inept and corrupt officials -- even without Allison these days.  The latest VA scandal?  Misusing funds for suicide prevention.  Senator Tammy Baldwin's office issued the following:

    WASHINGTON, D.C. – U.S. Senator Tammy Baldwin joined Senator Jon Tester (D-MT) and 19 of their colleagues to take the Department of Veteran’s Affairs (VA) to task for misusing its resources for suicide prevention outreach.

    Following a report from the Government Accountability Office that poor leadership at the VA resulted in a misuse of resources and lackluster outreach efforts to at-risk veterans, the Senators are demanding a full accounting of the VA's budget for suicide prevention and mental health outreach and for the VA to consult with public and mental health outreach experts on how to better track the VA's performance.

    Of the $6.2 million allocated to paid suicide prevention outreach like promoted social media posts and sponsored keyword search results, the VA only spent $57,000, less than one percent of its budget.

    “As suicide prevention is the VA's highest clinical priority and the third highest priority in its 2018-2024 Strategic Plan, it is appalling that the VA is not conducting oversight of its own outreach efforts,” the Senators wrote. “We request that you provide a full accounting of the $17.7 million the VA budgeted for its suicide prevention and mental health media outreach for Fiscal Year 2018. We also request that rather than rely strictly on metrics the VA develops internally, that you consult with experts with proven track records of successful public and mental health outreach campaigns with a particular emphasis on how those individuals measure success.”

    The report also found that the VA does not have trackable goals or targets to evaluate the effectiveness of its suicide prevention efforts. In addition, the report found that a lack of consistent or permanent leadership hampered the VA's suicide prevention efforts and outreach.

    Baldwin and Tester are joined by Senators Patty Murray (D-WA), Richard Durbin (D-IL), Jack Reed (D-RI), Robert Menendez (D-NJ), Bernie Sanders (I-VT), Sherrod Brown (D-OH), Amy Klobuchar (D-MN), Michael Bennet (D-CO), Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY), Joe Manchin (D-WV), Richard Blumenthal (D-CT), Brian Schatz (D-HI), Mazie Hirono (D-HI), Elizabeth Warren (D-MA), Tammy Duckworth (D-IL), Maggie Hassan (D-NH), Catherine Cortez Masto (D-NV), Tina Smith (D-MN) and Doug Jones (D-AL).

    The Senators’ letter is available HERE.

    Last June, the VA released  "VA National Suicide Data Report 2005–2015."  Among the findings:

    •    Suicide rates increased for both Veterans and non-Veterans, underscoring the fact that suicide is a national public health concern that affects people everywhere.
    • The average number of Veterans who died by suicide each day remained unchanged at 20.
    • The suicide rate increased faster among Veterans who had not recently used Veterans Health Administration health care than among those who had.

    At the time of the report's release, Peter O'Rourke insisted, "Suicide remains a top clinical priority.  One life lost to suicide is one too many. Suicide is a serious public health concern in the Veteran population and across all communities nationwide."  Its the sort of lip service the Allison Hickeys spout and it's just lip service.  Over and over, they say it but, as their behaviors demonstrate, they don't really care.  If you doubt it, O'Rourke spouted those words when he was Acting VA Secretary.  He no longer holds that position.  Remember why?

    As Maria Biery (WASHINGTON EXAMINER) noted last month:

    A senior adviser and former acting secretary at the Department of Veterans Affairs, Peter O'Rourke, has resigned under pressure after White House officials were informed he was getting paid to do little to no work, according to the The Washington Post.

    Four sources told the Post that before leaving the job on Friday, O'Rourke rarely came to work. White House officials started to express concern about the adviser's work schedule last week. O'Rourke's salary at the department was reportedly as high as $161,000.

    Again, these officials speak strongly in public, while the cameras are out, but then they go back to doing nothing.

    The National Suicide Prevention Line is 800-273-8255 and you can also visit the website.  And, for more information and assistance, you can visit the Veteran's page at Suicide Prevention Line.

    Senator Baldwin is also requesting an Air Force investigation into another issue. AP reports:

    Baldwin, a Wisconsin Democrat, asked the Air Force on Nov. 13 to investigate claims involving members of the 115th Fighter Wing's Security Forces Squadron, a group of about 100 airmen that polices the Truax Field Air National Guard Base in Madison.
    Baldwin made the request after Jay Ellis, a master sergeant in the squadron, contacted her office and said he had learned of six incidents of sexual harassment or sexual assault against female squadron members between 2002 and 2016. He alleged that high-ranking commanders have done little to address them. One of the women told The Associated Press in an interview that superior officers sexually assaulted her and her friend during a party in 2002 at a training base in Nevada as the unit was preparing to deploy to Iraq.

    Last May, the US Defense Dept issued its "Annual Report on Sexual Assault in the Military."  The report found that assault was not decreasing -- it had actually increased by 10% from the previous study (the increase came from women reporting assaults -- 1,084 men had reported in the previous annual study and that was more or the less the same number in the latest report; however, female service members reporting assaults had increased by 13%).  The other numbers were:

    6,769 assaults during the study period
    5,864 were assaults on service members
    868 were assaults on civilians and foreign nationals
    37 were assaults on "victims for whom status data were not available"

    Zachary Cohen and Ryan Browne (CNN) reported on last year's annual report and noted:

    The Army recorded the highest number of reported assaults last year with 2,706 and saw an increase of 8.4% compared to 2016. The Air Force documented 1,480 reports with an increase of 9.2% while the Navy saw an increase of 9.3% with 1,585 reports, according to the Pentagon study.
    But the Marine Corps saw the largest increase in reports among the four branches at 14.7% -- a rise that has caught the attention of the Pentagon's Sexual Assault Prevention and Response Office. 

    Female service members and veterans can refer to SWAN (Service Women's Action Network) for resources and information.  And if that's too partisan -- sorry, that is an issue and SWAN's CEO needs to work harder to avoid looking like a partisan hack, start by focusing on assault on your Twitter feed and not nonsense, you can utilize RAINN which provides assistance to all survivors of assault -- regardless of gender.  Along with the website, RAINN also has a hotline: 800-656-HOPE.

    And I'm damn serious about SWAN's partisan b.s.  I've heard complaints about this for two months but only now looked.  If you are the CEO of SWAN, it is your duty to be inclusive on your Twitter feed.  If you're not going to be inclusive, people won't use you as a resource -- and I certainly won't recommend you anymore.  Your supposed duty is to those who have been assaulted.  Stop your partisan nonsense then.  Anyone can be assaulted.  And not only might some right-wing women in the military be assaulted and need help, more to the point, the bulk of America is sick to death of your partisan b.s.  You may think you look 'work' but, newsflash, you're only supposed to look like your goal is to eradicate assault.

    In other news, RT reports:

    Iraq is closing its camps for the displaced in the western Anbar province, a little over a year since it fought its last battle against Islamic State (IS, formerly ISIS). The closures are casting vulnerable families into a maelstrom of peril as many cannot return home since they have been accused by their tribes of collaborating with IS, AP said. Others worry there is no work or housing to return to. Stragglers are being sent to two camps deep in Anbar. When IS swept through northern Iraq in 2014, the militants triggered a migration and displacement crisis as millions fled their homes. Some 1.8 million people out of Iraq’s population of 38 million are still waiting to return home.

    RT is mistaken.  Fighting in Anbar Province has continued throughout 2018.  Phillip Issa covers the same story for AP and notes:

    Some of the families protested that they had no homes to return to. The army said they would be sent to Amariyat al-Fallujah, a remote camp ringed by chain-link fences and barbed wire.

    “They threatened us,” said Khalwa Hamid, 27. “They said, whoever doesn’t leave, we’ll haul them out in our Humvees.”

    Back to the US Congress for this press release from Senator Johnny Isakson's office:

    Contact: Amanda Maddox, 202-224-7777
    Anna Devanny, 202-224-9126

    Isakson Elected to Third Term as Senate VA Committee Chairman
    ‘Proud to continue fighting for our veterans’
    WASHINGTON – Today, U.S. Senator Johnny Isakson, R-Ga., received a unanimous vote from his colleagues to serve a third term as chairman of the Senate Committee on Veterans’ Affairs (VA) for the 116th Congress, which formally began on Jan. 3, 2019, and runs through Jan. 3, 2021. Isakson has served as chairman of the committee since January 2015.
    Isakson is a veteran himself – having served in the Georgia Air National Guard from 1966-1972 – and has been a member of the Senate VA Committee since he joined the Senate in 2005. Isakson’s home state of Georgia is also home to more than a dozen military installations representing each branch of the military as well as home to nearly 700,000 veterans.
    “I am grateful for the opportunity to once again serve as the chairman of the Senate Committee on Veterans’ Affairs,” said Isakson. “Our committee has worked tirelessly to reform the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs and ensure that our veterans receive the care and benefits they deserve. We owe our veterans a department that is responsive to them and their individual needs, and I’m proud to continue fighting for our veterans.”
    Isakson will serve alongside Sen. Jon Tester, D-Mont., who returns for a second term as the ranking Democrat on the committee. In addition, Sens. Marsha Blackburn, R-Tenn., Kevin Cramer, R-N.D., and Kyrsten Sinema, D-Ariz., will be joining the committee this session, bringing the total committee membership to 17 senators with a breakdown of nine Republican and eight Democrat members.
    “Throughout the 115th Congress, the committee showed the American people that, regardless of political party, we are on the same team when it comes to getting things done for our veterans,”Isakson continued. “I look forward to working with Senator Tester and our returning committee members as well as the three new members of the committee to build on the progress we have made, to solve problems as they arise and to ensure the successful implementation of major reforms designed to improve the daily lives of our nation’s veterans.”
    During the 2017-2018 Congress, the Senate passed 25 pieces of legislation, which were all signed into law, to reform veterans’ health care and benefits and to make the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) more responsive to the veterans it serves. Of those bills, some of the most significant reforms include the landmarkVA MISSION Act, the Department of Veterans Affairs Accountability and Whistleblower Protection Act, theHarry W. Colmery Veterans Educational Assistance Act of 2017, and the Veterans Appeals Improvement and Modernization Act of 2017.
    In addition, the Senate also passed nine VA facility naming bills that were signed into law. The Senate has also confirmed 16 of President Trump’s nominees to the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) and the U.S. Court of Appeals for Veterans Claims. Read more about the committee’s work for veterans here.
    In the 116th Congress, Isakson said the committee will focus on overseeing the implementation of these new laws by the department to ensure veterans are being well served.
    A full list of committee members follows:
    Republican Members for the 116th Congress:
    Johnny Isakson, Georgia (chairman)
    Jerry Moran, Kansas
    John Boozman, Arkansas
    Bill Cassidy, Louisiana
    Mike Rounds, South Dakota
    Thom Tillis, North Carolina
    Dan Sullivan, Alaska
    Marsha Blackburn, Tennessee
    Kevin Cramer, North Dakota
    Democrat Members for the 116th Congress:
    Jon Tester, Montana (ranking member)
    Patty Murray, Washington
    Bernie Sanders, Vermont
    Sherrod Brown, Ohio
    Richard Blumenthal, Connecticut
    Mazie K. Hirono, Hawaii
    Joe Manchin, West Virginia
    Kyrsten Sinema, Arizona
    The Senate Committee on Veterans’ Affairs is chaired by U.S. Senator Johnny Isakson, R-Ga., in the 116th Congress. Isakson is a veteran himself – having served in the Georgia Air National Guard from 1966-1972 – and has been a member of the Senate Committee on Veterans’ Affairs since he joined the Senate in 2005. Isakson’s home state of Georgia is home to more than a dozen military installations representing each branch of the armed services as well as nearly 700,000 veterans.

    The following community sites -- plus PACIFICA EVENING NEWS and GUNS & BUTTER -- updated: