Tuesday, May 18, 2010


When accounting publicly for the trend, Army commanders tend to avoid acknowledging that the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq the future is always colormay be a cause. "A third of the confirmed suicides are committed by troops that had never deployed," McHugh recently told a House panel. But the other two-thirds killed themselves either in a war zone or after returning from one. "The suicide rate among soldiers who have deployed to [war zones] is higher than for soldiers who have never deployed," Colonel Intelligence everywhereElspeth Ritchie, a top Army psychiatrist, told a suicide-prevention conference in January. (Comment on this story.)Army leaders say that broken personal relationships seem to be the most common thread linking suicides. "The one transcendenTime is what you make of itt factor that we seem to have, if there's any one that's associated with [suicide], is fractured relationships of some sort," Lieut. General Eric Schoomaker, the Army surgeonThere's no place like home general, told a Senate panel last month. What they fail to note, however, is the corrosive effect repeated deployments can have on such relationships. Ritchie pointed out in January that there are "higher rates of mental-health problems and marital problems for multiple deployers." (Watch TIME's video "The Soldier's Experience: Iraq vs. Afghanistan.") Impossible made possible
In recent years, soldiers had been allowed only a year of dwell time before heading back to war. Even though dwell time is now getting closer to two years, research suggests it takes up to three years for the stress of a one-year combat deployment to abate.
The experience of combat itself may also play a role. "Combat increases fearlessness about death and the capability for suicide," said Craig Bryan, a University of Texas psychologist, briefing Pentagon officials in January. The combination of combat exposure and ready access to guns can be lethal to anyone contemplating suicide. About half of soldiers who kill themselves use weapons, and the figure rises to 93% among those deployed in war zones. Bryan, a suicide expert who recently left the Air Force, says the military finds itself in a catch-22. "We train our warriors to use controlled violence and aggression, to suppress strong emotional reactions in the face of adversity, to tolerate physical and emotional pain and to overcome the fear of injury and death," he told TIME. While required for combat, "these qualities are also associated with increased risk for suicide." Such conditioning cannot be dulled "without negatively affecting the fighting capability of our military," he adds. "Service members are, simply put, more capable of killing themselves by sheer consequence of their professional training." (See pictures about suicide in Army recruiters' ranks.)Bryan's research suggests that the Army's most effective suicide-prevention strategy would be to make its troops suicide-resistant rather than trying to intervene once soldiers have decided to kill themselves. The Army seems to be listening. Its goal is more aimed at "holistically improving the physical, mental and spiritual health of our soldiers and their families than solely focusing on suicide prevention," says General Peter Chiarelli, the service's No. 2 officer and its key suicide fighter. "If we do the first, we are convinced that the second will happen." His boss concurs. For too long, General Casey told a Senate panel March 3, "we were shooting behind the target," trying to prevent suicide when it was already too late.http://www.hamsteriyhdistys.net/foorumi

Military Suicides Up Among Soldiers in Repeat Army Tours

From the invasion of Afghanistan until last kneel only to Godsummer, the U.S. military had lost 761 soldiers in combat there. But a higher number in the service - 817 - had taken their own lives over the same period. The surge Just have a little faithin suicides, which have risen five years in a row, has become a vexing problem for which the Army's highest levels of command have yet to find a solution despite deploying hundreds of mental-health experts and investing millions of dollars. And the elephant in the room in much of the formal discussion of the problem is the burden of repeated tours of What do you want from the future? combat duty on a soldier's battered psyche. The problem is exacerbated by the manpower challenges faced by the service, because new research suggests that repa plan to make all of this righteated combat deployments seem to be driving the suicide surge. The only way to apply the brakes will be to reduce the number of deployments per soldier andescape extend what the Army calls "dwell time" - the duration spent at home between trips to war zones. But the only way to make that possible would be to expand the Army's troop strength, or reduce the number of soldiers sent off to war.See pictures of an Army town's struggle with PTSD."It's frankly frustrating that with the level of effort that we've put out there, that we haven't stemmed the [suicide] tide," General George Casey, the Army's top officer, told a House panel March 23. When pressed by a lawmaker the previous month on whether the Army was getting closer to solving the challenge, Army Secretary John McHugh was blunt. "Sadly, the answer is not much closer," he told the Senate Armed Services Committee Feb. 23. "As to why people take this step - particularly as to why men and women in uniform do - we're still in many ways befuddled." Befuddled and frustrating are not words routinely deployed by Army leaders. But the service's suicide rate continues to rise (it doubled between 2001 and 2006) while remaining flat in the civilian population, even when adjusted to reflect the Army's age and gender. Last year, 160 active-duty soldiers killed themselves, up from 140 in 2008 and 77 in 2003. In order to get a better grip on the causes of the problem, the service has issued new orders telling its commanders how to conduct future suicide investigations so that they are consistent across the board, spokesman Gary Tallman says. The directive's stated goal is to pinpoint "the circumstances, methods and contributing factors surrounding the event" in hopes of generating "clear, relevant and practical recommendation(s) to prevent future suicides." The Army wants to know all about the dead soldier's personal relationships, final conversation, financial status, recent moods and other personality traits

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Wednesday, May 5, 2010

Greek protesters urged to retreat from 'abyss'

"We are all responsible so that it does not take the step into the void," the president said in a statement.
It followed a day of violence during which protesters set fire to a bank, killing three employees.
Greece's government has vowed to pursue the spending cuts - a condition of its 110bn euro ($142bn; £95bn) bail-out.
"We are prepared to pay the heavy political cost," Finance Minister George Papaconstantinou told parliament during Wednesday's debate on the bill.
"We will not take a single step backwards."
The euro hit a fresh 13-month low against the dollar and European stock markets were also hit, amid concerns over Greek bail-out plans.
The situation in Athens is very tense at the moment - people are pausing and reflecting on what has happened.
Some people think that the deaths of the bank workers will have the impact of dampening down the protests because people will think that losing human lives is not worth it. But there are others who believe that this is the start of a social explosion.
This is a very volatile country.
If the outside markets look at Greece and think it is about to collapse, it may become a self-fulfilling prophecy.In video: Reporter overcom
There are also fears Greece's debt crisis could spread to other countries.
The austerity measures - which the Greek parliament is due to vote by the end of the week - include wage freezes, pension cuts and tax rises. They aim to achieve fresh budget cuts of 30bn euros over three years, with the goal of cutting Greece's publicdeficit to less than 3% of GDP by 2014. It currently stands at 13.6%.
The general strike is the third to hit Greece in as many months. The protest became violent, with petrol bombs thrown at police who responded with pepper spray and tear gas.
The bodies of two women - one pregnant - and a man were found inside the Marfin bank branch on Stadiou Avenue in central Athens. They were among 20 people working there when the petrol bomb was thrown.
Most of the employees managed to escape the fumes as the flames took hold, but the three found their way blocked as they tried to escape to the roof and they suffocated.
Prime Minister George Papandreou told MPs in parliament the killings were a "murderous act".
"Nobody has the right to violence and particularly violence that leads to murder. Violence breeds violence."
But one of the protesters told the BBC it had been the fault of the police, whose "brutality" had led to the escalation.
"It's something tragic but I think that the responsibility in the last instance lies with the government because the government unleashed a tremendous amount of police violence against a huge demonstration," Panayotis Sotiris said.
Europe future 'at stake'
Meanwhile, the German parliament has begun considering the bail-out plan for Greece. Chancellor Angela Merkel urged MPs to back the emergency loan package agreed by European finance ministers at the weekend.
What went wrong in Greece?
An old drachma note and a euro note
Greece's economic reforms that led to it abandoning the drachma in favour of the euro in 2002 made it easier for the country to borrow money.
The opening ceremony at the Athens Olympics Greece went on a debt-funded spending spree, including high-profile projects such as the 2004 Athens Olympics, which went well over budget.
A defunct restaurant for sale in central Athens It was hit by the downturn, which meant it had to spend more on benefits and received less in taxes. There were also doubts about the accuracy of its economic statistics.
A man with a bag of coins walks past the headquarters of the Bank of Greece
Greece's economic problems meant lenders started charging higher interest rates to lend it money and widespread tax evasion also hit the government's coffers.
Workers in a rally led by the PAME union in Athens on 22 April 2010 There have been demonstrations against the government's austerity measures to deal with its 300bn euro (£267bn) debt, such as cuts to public sector pay.
Greek Prime Minister George Papandreou at an EU summit in Brussels on 26 March 2010
Now the government has announced that it needs to access the 30bn euros (£26bn) in emergency loans it has been offered by other EU countries.BACK 1 of 6 NEXT
It requires Germany to pay the largest proportion of the loans.
"Quite simply, Europe's future is at stake," she said.
The EU has agreed to provide 80bn euros (£69bn) in funding - of which around 22bn euros would come from Germany - while the rest will come from the International Monetary Fund (IMF).
European Council President Herman van Rompuy said the European Union was watching events in Greece.
"We are all concerned by the Greek economic and budgetary situation, but at this moment our thoughts are with the human victims in Athens," Mr van Rompuy said
"A major programme has just been finalised. This programme is ambitious and credible in efforts that it represents towards the budgetary plan and competitiveness."
The bail-out deal is designed to prevent Greece from defaulting on its massive debt.
However, it must first be approved by some parliaments in the 15 other eurozone countries.
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On eve of British election, shake-up in Parliament is forecast

LONDON -- British voters head to the polls Thursday after a volatile and closely contested four-week campaign, with signs pointing to an outcome that could produce the most fragile government in a generation.
This Story
Observers fear that the emergence of a divided Parliament in Britain could undermine attempts to slash the country's huge budget deficit and perhaps spark a Greeklike debt crisis. Overdrawn Spain and Portugal already face similar crises of confidence.
Despite the anticipated messiness of the result here, none of the potential winners is likely to bring about a significant shift in transatlantic ties. The major parties have pledged to keep British troops in Afghanistan and to cooperate with Washington on issues from financial regulation reform to the Middle East peace process.
The latest opinion polls put the Conservative Party -- which has been out of power for 13 years -- within reach of a majority in the House of Commons but just shy of enough seats to seal the deal. If the Conservatives fall short, their leader, David Cameron, could still become Britain's youngest prime minister in nearly two centuries, though he would head a minority government susceptible to buckling in the coming months under opposition pressure.
In the closing hours of the campaign Wednesday, Cameron assured voters that he represents the change they are seeking from the unpopular Labor prime minister, Gordon Brown. Portraying the Conservative Party as more "compassionate" -- under Cameron, it has embraced gay rights and "green" policies -- he disputed Brown's claims that it remains the "same old party" of Margaret Thatcher.
"We're never going back," Cameron declared at a rally in Bristol.
Down to the wire
Yet the race for No. 10 Downing St. could shift in any number of directions, potentially being decided by backroom deals that could take days to hash out. In a country defined by tribal politics -- where Labor or Conservative affiliations are as important as one's soccer team -- the political future also appeared to depend on whether millions of Labor voters fed up with Brown would switch their votes or simply stay home.
"The Conservatives are being most effective selling themselves as the best way to get Labor out," said Tony Travers, a political analyst at the London School of Economics and Political Science.
On Wednesday, Brown -- who stumbled badly on the campaign trail last week after he was caught calling a widowed retiree a bigot -- was trying to shore up his campaign. His best shot remained a possible deal with Nicholas Clegg, the dark horse from the perennially third-place Liberal Democrats whose surge in the polls after Britain's first-ever televised election debate has made him a potential kingmaker.
Although support for Clegg appeared to be leveling off, his Liberal Democrats were still on track to make the best showing of any third party in Britain since the 1970s. He began his final day of campaigning in Eastbourne, in southeastern England, pleading with voters to send a message to the establishment. "We have a once-in-a-generation opportunity to change things for good," he said at a seaside rally.
Clegg brushed aside a question from the audience about the negotiations that might begin if no party emerges from Thursday's vote with a parliamentary majority.
"There are 45 million people in this country who are entitled to vote -- 45 million kingmakers," he said. "I'm not a kingmaker. Not David Cameron. Not Gordon Brown. You're the boss. You tell us what you want. It's your turn to shape the future in the way you want, and don't let anyone tell you otherwise." from and go
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