Troop Withdrawal Measure Up for a Vote Tomorrow

War Report

On the 4th anniversary of the start of the Iraq war, Bush is pulling out all the stops to attack a House Democratic defense spending supplemental proposal, called the Iraq Accountability Act.

The House Democrats' plan provides about $100 billion in funding for the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, as well as additional funds for equipment, training, and desperately needed veterans' health care.

The plan would also legislate a timetable for withdrawal by the end of summer in 2008.

Despite being mired in scandals over veterans health care, improper firings of US attorneys, leaking the identity of an undercover CIA agent, censoring scientific reports on global warming to fit its ideological agenda, and an approval rating hovering near 30%, the White House has launched a major campaign to defeat the House Democratic measure.

Bush misleadingly called it 'defeatist' and hysterically and cynically warned that pulling out of Iraq could cause another 9/11. Bush also begged for more time to prove that, despite spending the last 4 years causing and then participating in a civil war in Iraq, his escalation of the war would bring a resolution.

Bush's statements come just days after General Petraeus, the new military commander in Iraq admitted that no military solution in Iraq is possible.

Predictably, Vice President Dick Cheney accused supporters of withdrawal of giving aid to the 'enemy.'

Currently almost seven in ten Americans want the war to end. Tens of thousands of people in all parts of the country marched, sat-in, held forums, and visited members of Congress this past weekend to protest on the 4th anniversary of the launch of the invasion of Iraq.

Check out and scroll down the Take Action column to send a message to your representative to vote for the Iraq Accountability Act. ()

Veterans' Health

CBCNews reported last week that mental health problems have become a widespread issue for returning veterans of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.

A University of California study shows that more than 3 in 10 war vets who have sought care from VA hospitals are diagnosed with mental diseases.

Post-traumatic stress disorder and alcohol or drug abuse are among the most common.

Experts who conducted the study say that because of the military culture of stigmatizing those who seek mental health treatment, it is likely that the true figures are much higher.

These findings come as recent media reports expose a serious crisis in the VA's health care system due primarily to the Bush administration's drive to cut corners and privatize hospital services.

Meanwhile, veterans' groups are complaining that service men and women who appear to have symptoms of mental disease or trauma are being returned with no or only minimal treatment to their duty stations in the war zone.

In a related story, pressure on the White House forced it to delay a contract that would further privatize services at Walter Reed.

Working Families Feeling the Crunch

The Center for Economic Policy and Research reported last week that about 44 million jobs — about 1 in 3 in the entire economy — pay low wages and rarely offer employee benefits like health insurance or paid sick days.

The report also found that social mobility has grown increasingly difficult.

The authors of the report say: 'In the U.S. labor market, it is not possible for everyone to be middle class, no matter how hard they work. Moreover, it has been getting harder to do over time.'

Read more about this report at:

Three Judge Panel Allows Discrimination in Health Benefits

Last week a three-judge panel of the Eighth Circuit Court voted 2 to 1 in handing down a ruling that would allow employers to discriminate against their female employees by excluding coverage for prescription contraception.

In the case, In Re Union Pacific Railroad Employment Practices Litigation, a Nebraska district court had ruled that Union Pacific’s contraceptive exclusion constituted illegal “pregnancy discrimination” because it denied women coverage for prescription drugs and devices to prevent pregnancy while covering a broad array of prescriptions to prevent other, non-pregnancy-related conditions. Cecile Richards, president of Planned Parenthood Federation of America, called the ruling 'an outrageous step backwards for women’s health. Birth control is basic health care, and health insurance should cover it.”

The dissenting judge argued that 'women are uniquely and specifically disadvantaged' by Union Pacific's discriminatory policy. The deciding judges were appointed by former Presidents Ronald Reagan and George H.W. Bush.

White House Censors Global Warming Research

Philip Cooney, former chief of staff at the White House Council on Environmental Quality, admitted to a House panel this week that he had edited several reports on global warming to fit the White House's ideological agenda.

According to the Associated Press, Cooney, a former oil lobbyist, left the White House in 2005 to work for ExxonMobil.

James Hansen, director of NASA's Goddard Institute for Space Studies and one of the first scientists to raise the problem of global warming, also told the panel that he was prevented from participating in media interviews on global warming by White House operatives because of his views.

Hansen told the panel: 'Interference with communications of science to the public has been greater during the current administration than at any time in my career.'

Testimony by former Vice President Al Gore before the committee yesterday raised further questions about the needed role of government in taking on the global warming problem.