Linda Bilmes, Joseph Stiglitz, and Paul Rieckhoff (IAVA) speaking at Harvard University

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John Cusack & $3 Trillion

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Yesterday John Cusack of Hollywood fame blogged about our book on DailyKos — here’s an excerpt:

$3 trillion is the projected cost of the Iraq War according to Nobel Prize-winning economist Joseph Stiglitz and Harvard lecturer Linda Bilmes. That’s a whole lot of zeroes, but what does it really amount to? How many homes would it buy for Americans who’ve fallen victim to the subprime meltdown? How many debts would it pay off for developing nations? As it turns out, one whole hell of a lot of all those things combined.

Why are so many veterans attempting suicide?

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By Lisa Desjardins, CNN Radio

The suicide rate among veterans of the Iraq and Afghanistan wars is at an all-time high. Some of the possible reasons include the length of deployments (15 months per tour, often extended involuntarily), the lack of safety while in theater (soldiers can be attacked any time, any place — several have been electrocuted in the shower due to faulty electrical wiring by underpaid foreign contractors), and the lack of support for veterans and their families when they return.

You would think that the Department of Veterans Affairs would be shouting from the rooftops: “WE HAVE A CRISIS: PLEASE HELP US FIX IT”. You would think the VA would be desperately recruiting help from Congress and the veterans organization. But instead, the VA is covering up the magnitude of the problem — even refusing to provide the basic statistics to Members of the Veterans committee in Congress unless they file “freedom of information act” request.

This pattern of obfuscation, denial and defensiveness has been the conduct of the VA for several years. Read this article to get a flavor of what’s going on here:

WASHINGTON (CNN) — The chairman of the House Veterans Committee blasted the Veterans Affairs Department on Tuesday, accusing the agency of criminal failure to respond to evidence of rising suicide rates among former soldiers. Read more here.

The difference between a million, a billion and a trillion

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The words “million,” “billion” and “trillion” look and sound pretty much the same.

But if you stacked up thousand-dollar bills to reach one million, it would reach four inches high. One billion thousand-dollar bills stacked up is around 333 feet high. One trillion is about 63 MILES high.

In other words, a trillion is MUCH bigger. But President Bush, who has asked Congress to approve another $187 billion in new funding for the Iraq war, is trying to distract the public by also requesting $770 million in global food aid. The President’s strategists are betting that people will get mixed up by the size of the two numbers. Obligingly, USA Today newspaper ran a big front page headline on May 2nd, that said “US COULD ADD $770M in FOOD AID.” In small letters below, USA Today mentions “Bush proposal comes along with request for $178B in war funding.”

Unless you read very closely, it is quite easy to miss the difference between the “M” and the “B” — and to miss the fact that the President is asking for 250 times more money for the Iraq War than for food aid.

Indeed, the next 6 paragraphs of the article describe how this $770M in food generosity is being praised by charities – with barely a mention of those pesky $178B for the war.

Read more here. Article by Sue Kirchoff and Richard Wolf, page 1A.

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