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

Posted by Aaron Walter in Uncategorized.
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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

Posted by Aaron Walter in Uncategorized.
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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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U.S., Sixteen other countries agree to rules for private security contractors operating in war zones September 20, 2008

Posted by Aaron Walter in Uncategorized.
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The United States and sixteen other countries including Great Britain, Iraq, and Afghanistan have entered into an agreement purportedly to ensure that private military contractors in war zones opperate under some form of international law, rather than in a lawless void. The United States has some 8,000 private military contractors in Iraq and Afghanistan protecting civilian staff, diplomats, and business leaders.

The countries collectively produced a document called the “Montreux Document” defining obligations of private military contractors during armed conflicts.  The agreement also catelogues 73 good practices defining criterea to both vet prospective firms and direct their progress.

Private military contractor Blackwater Worldwide of North Carolina has been made infamous since the deaths of 17 Iraqi civilians in September of 2007 at the hands of Blackwater contractors. Since then there has been much international debate as to what jurisdiction, if any, has the authority to prosecute contractors if they are deemed to have commited a criminal act.

The Montreux Document, though the product of a three year joint initiative is not legally binding on the member countries nor on private contractors. It appears the debate will continue to rage on.

AIG in financial crisis, will this effect my Workers’ Compensation benefits under the Defense Base Act? – Part 2 September 17, 2008

Posted by Herb Chestnut in Uncategorized.
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We have been receiving numerous emails in response to our previous posting on the AIG crisis and its effect on Defense Base Act claims. While it appears that a potential government bailout will keep AIG’s daily operations and claims management moving normally, we have been asked a lot of “What ifs?”

What if AIG Worldsource, the DBA insurance arm of AIG, declared bankruptcy? Who would pay for claimant’s medical care? Who would pay their weekly benefits?

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Department of Defense increasing presence of civilian contractors in Afghanistan September 17, 2008

Posted by Aaron Walter in Uncategorized.
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Washington Post writer Walter Pincus notes an increase in proposed contracts to civilian companies to operate in Afghanistan. It seems this will coincide with a potential “surge” in the ever-bloodier warfront in Afghanistan.

“The military is stretched very thin, and to keep low the deployments numbers, there is a tendency to go to contractors who have played a huge part in Iraq,” said Rep. David E. Price (D-N.C.)

Defense Contracts Foretell Military Buildup in Afghanistan

By Walter Pincus

Washington Post Staff Writer
Sunday, September 14, 2008; Page A23

The Defense Department is seeking private contractors to carry out a variety of tasks — such as clearing land mines, building detention facilities and providing fuel — to assist U.S. forces in Afghanistan, which are set to grow following President Bush‘s announcement last week that he will expand military operations there.

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AIG in financial crisis, will this effect my Workers’ Compensation benefits under the Defense Base Act? September 15, 2008

Posted by Aaron Walter in Uncategorized.
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On news of a potential downgrading of its debt rating, AIG’s stock fell 31% Friday and another 50% as of lunch time on Monday September 15. AIG has asked the U.S. Federal Reserve Bank to help raise $40 billion to avoid such a downgrading and is attempting to sell off its domestic automobile businesses and aircraft leasing business.

AIG insurers approximately 90% of Defense Base Act Workers’ Compensation claims. The questions we have been asked several times today are – will this effect my weekly benefits? Will AIG keep paying my doctors?

The answer is that there should not be any immediate disruption in these benefits.  It appears that AIG should have enough cash to continue to pay claims. In fact, the division handling these claims has made record profits  for AIG over the past few years.

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