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1,264 civilian contractors have died in Iraq/Afghanistan according to most recent figures March 10, 2009

Posted by Aaron Walter in Uncategorized.
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That total is according to Pentagon figures released in September 2008. Sadly, that number rises weekly and the AP has reported another death, a Dyncorp employee shot by a sniper. We reported last spring that the death toll of government contractors had just surpassed 1,000. I hate that the first updated total of this grim statistic had to come in yet another story of a young man cut down in his prime. Our prayers are with Justin Pope’s family and the families of all those who have lost a loved one in these wars.

Below is the AP report:

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Iraq veteran disabled by “Iraq’s Agent Orange” due to exposure to hexavalent chromium March 9, 2009

Posted by Aaron Walter in Uncategorized.
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The March 7, 2009 issue of the “Oregonian” tells the tale of Oregon Army National Guardsman Larry Roberta, who sadly suffers from a host of respitory disorders due to his 2003 exposure to hexavalent chromium in Iraq.

Six years later, and after law suits have been filed against KBR for their alleged failure to test for the substance at a contaminated oil facility, the Army has finally notified Guardsman Roberta’s fellow soldiers that they too may have been exposed to the same toxic chemicals.

We don’t yet know what will come of Larry Roberta and his fellow soldiers. How many other soldiers, contractors, or Iraqi civilians will develop similar lung disorders?

Unfortunately, this is not the only reported case of respitory disfunction to come out of Iraq or Afghanistan. On top of the fact that the dusty/sandy environment contributes to lung problems amongst asthmatics or those with COPD, there are fears that practices such as having large “Burn pits” at or close to camps may contribute to some disorders.

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Is the Anaconda burn pit linked to illnesses in KBR contractors? March 7, 2009

Posted by Aaron Walter in Uncategorized.
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I have been receiving an increasing number of calls recently from former KBR contractors, especially from Camp Anaconda/Balad concerning unusual medical problems possibly associated with exposure to the “burn pits,” disturbingly common to the camps. Apparently, anything that burns ends up thrown in these burn pits. That includes medical waste and plastics.

For more on the burn pits themselves and the action or inaction by Congress and the military concerning them, please visit the burn pit tag page by Ms. Sparky, who has been on top of this situation for some time.

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Plaintiff’s attempts to circumvent the Defense Base Act in negligence cases continue March 1, 2009

Posted by Aaron Walter in Uncategorized.
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Reports of new attempts to pierce the protections afforded to employers under the Defense Base Act have been popping up throughout the news world.

The daughter of a Michigan man apparently killed by friendly fire is embarking on a wrongful death suit against KBR, who most disgustingly appears to have misled the family as to the nature of the employee’s death.

Also, see my previous posting regarding a this pending class action lawsuit against KBR.

Now, families of Blackwater security contractors recently lost their bid before a an Administrative Law Judge to sue Blackwater for wrongful death based on the contractors alleged status as independent contractors. I have neither read the opinion in this case, nor the briefs from either party, but I can imagine that Blackwater’s victory here was based on the traditional definitions of independent contractor agreements.

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2008 sees increase in number of Iraqi refugees allowed into the United States September 27, 2008

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The below story highlights the efforts of many within our government and numerous groups outside of it to increase the number of Iraqis granted visas to enter the United States. While there is hope for the future Iraq, the war has obviously displaced or negatively affected thousands of Iraqis. During the 2007 fiscal year, only 1,600 Iraqis were allowed to enter the United States. However, the administration is on pace to allow 12,000 Iraqis into the US during the 2008 fiscal year and is looking towards allowing 17,000 to enter in 2009.

Additionally, The Department of Homeland Security has released a “fact sheet” concerning Iraqi Refugee Processing highlighting the process for ressetlement and the 12,118 Iraqis that have been admitted to the United States as refugees in 2008.

If you would like to learn more about the subject of Iraqi refugees, I invite you to visit The List Project to Resettle Iraqi Allies. The non-partisan organization is dedicated to assisting Iraqi refugees, especially those forced from their home country due to their affiliation with the United States (for example – Iraqi’s who assisted US troops as translators). The List Project reports that some Iraqi’s have been targeted by various terrorist organizations as US collaborators, placing their entire family’s lives in jeopardy.  Their goal is to promote policies encouraging approval of US visas for worthy “refugees,” and provide localized assistance to resettled Iraqis.

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Iraq electrocutions higher than previously reported September 23, 2008

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A September 9, 2008 AP article reveals that there have been at least 18 electrocutions in Iraq involving U.S. soldiers or civilian contractors. A May 28, 2008 CNN article on one such incident placed the number of soliders electrocuted at only 12.   As if soldiers and contractors didn’t have enough to worry about concerning the obvious dangers in Iraq.

As I have learned from a recent electrocution victim our firm is representing, electrocutions can result in any number of physical or neurological disorders as well as debilitating Post Traumatic Stress Disorder symptoms.

For more on electrocutions in Iraq, visit Ms. Sparky’s Mishaps and Misadventures a website from a former KBR electrician. Ms. Sparky (Debbie Crawford) recently testified before the Senate Democratic Policy Committee on Soldier Electrocutions and seeks to bring attention to safety conditions in Iraq.  She is looking for former contractors and military personal to share their observations regarding electrical safety at camps/bases.

WASHINGTON — The number of U.S. troops and contractors electrocuted in Iraq is higher than previously reported, and now stands at 18, a senator said yesterday.

Sen. Bob Casey, D-Pa., issued a statement with the revised number after a briefing by the Pentagon’s inspector general’s office. The IG’s office has been investigating the death of a Green Beret from Pittsburgh’s Shaler suburb, Sgt. Ryan Maseth, who was electrocuted in January while showering in his barracks in Iraq.

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