FUBAR

Suicide rate up among soldiers

The US army said Thursday that at least 99 soldiers committed suicide in 2006, nearly a third while in Iraq or Afghanistan, signaling a rising suicide rate compared to previous years.

The army also recorded 948 serious suicide attempts which required hospitalization or evacuation as well as two deaths with unclear causes still under investigation.

Among soldiers who killed themselves in 2006, 27 were in Iraq and three were in Afghanistan. The army also reported 44 suicides in the first six months of 2007, 17 among soldiers in Iraq and Afghanistan.

Mine safety agency under fire

The government agency overseeing coal mine safety was supposed to have changed its ways after West Virginia’s deadly Sago Mine disaster. Its handling of the cave-ins at Utah’s Crandall Canyon Mine have some worried that the changes didn’t go far enough.

Government officials on Friday indefinitely halted their attempts to dig to six miners trapped since Aug. 6, after a cave-in Thursday night killed three rescuers and injured six others.

A stupid lawsuit

Kia Vaughn says Don Imus ruined her reputation when he called members of the Rutgers women’s basketball team “nappy-headed hos,” but it’s something else entirely that stands to hurt her name: a lawsuit she’s filed seeking money from the shock jock.

The suit on behalf of this star center of the team says “defamatory, sexually denigrating and slanderous statements and comments against the women athletes … were heard, believed and understood by millions of listeners … as factual pronouncements concerning the character, chastity and reputation of the plaintiff.”

Hating America

When you first hear that people in some parts of the world have a higher opinion of China than the United States, you think of the polls showing something like a third of all Democrats believe President Bush knew about the 9/11 attacks before they happened.

The polling in both cases, you figure, may have more to say about mental peculiarities than the state of reality, or maybe it simply reflects the fact that the technique of gathering opinions from masses of people is more sledgehammer than scalpel, a crude tool that lacks precision to the point of smashing qualifications and nuance.

Responsible parenting

Conventional wisdom holds that Americans possess an innate right to bear children, no matter how ill-equipped would-be parents are to raise those children. No matter how immature, no matter how uneducated, no matter how impoverished, no matter how psychologically unbalanced and no matter the ultimate cost to society of one’s decision, the right to procreate is seen as inviolable.

Time to put 9/11 behind us

When Stu Bykofsky, a columnist for the Philadelphia Daily News, wrote a column last week in which he openly hoped that America suffers “another 9/11,” he merely had the poor judgment to say what many a right-wing politician and pundit is thinking.

The high cost of cutting back

The need to save money has always been the main justification used by the Pentagon to sell Congress on the politically unpopular task of closing military bases no longer needed by the military.

But the latest round of closings is doing anything but cutting costs. The estimate for the price tag for closing or realigning more than 200 bases and installations was pegged at $21 billion when Congress approved the plan in 2005.

Are attitudes shifting on Iraq?

Even some critics of President Bush’s Iraq war policies are conceding there is evidence of recent improvements from a military standpoint. But Bush supporters and critics alike agree that these have not been matched by any noticeable progress on the political front.

Zen and the art of exercise

Each of us has his (or her) own way of combating the national obesity crisis. Some people eat a lot in the hope that they will lose weight when they finally explode. Some go on diets, because it makes them feel miserable, which they equate with being virtuous.

Given these choices, we should all be exercising instead. I recommend rolling up the newspaper and performing calisthenics with it. While it may not do much for your biceps, pectorals, deltoids or even your asteroids, it could have a very healthy effect on newspaper circulation if it catches on.

Facing the risk

In a remote corner of southern Europe the United States and Albania recently scored a quiet but important victory in the battle against the spread of weapons of mass destruction. This success points the way toward helping resolve some of the greatest threats the world faces from nuclear, chemical and biological weapons.