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Soldiers ‘joked about killing women and children’

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An Iraq War veteran who served with the company shown in the “Collateral Murder” video released by whistleblower web site Wikileaks says the military trained him to dehumanize Iraqis.

In a videotaped interview released Wednesday, Josh Stieber told The Real News Network things that troops did on a regular basis in basic training, including chanting during marches, were the start of his loss of faith in the US military.

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Josh Stieber enlisted in the army after graduating high school. He was deployed to Baghdad from February 2007 to April 2008 with the military company shown on the ground in the Collateral Murder video. He was granted conscientious objector status upon his return home from Baghdad.

In an interview with Real News Network senior editor Paul Jay, Steiber said he was alarmed in basic training when the chants “even joked about killing women and children.”

STIEBER: One that stands out in my mind is—it goes, “I went down to the market where all the women shop/I pulled out my machete and I begin to chop/I went down to the park where all the children play/I pulled out my machine gun and I begin to spray.”

JAY: That’s as you’re marching.

STIEBER: Right.

JAY: So this is, like, an authorized chant, you could say.

STIEBER: Yeah. I mean, the training, they focus on the physical aspect, or, you know, they say that’s the challenging part, but then they slip all these psychological things in along with it.

JAY: Well, that’s got to be shocking for you to hear that the first time.

STIEBER: Yeah. And so I started writing home to religious leaders at my church, saying what I’m being asked to do doesn’t really line up with, you know, all these religious beliefs I had. And I would get letters back with explanations that I needed to have more faith in God, or this is just how the military works.

The common mindset was that Iraqis were always referred to as “Hajis” in a pattern he said dehumanized people, making it more difficult for soldiers to empathize with civilians.

“So there was that mindset, combined with this mindset, that if you don’t do everything you’re trained to do and if you’re not being the best soldier that you can be, then these Iraqis, you know, at some point or another, are going to attack you,” he said.

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“You know, if you’re in a combat situation and you’re not doing everything that you were taught, then you’re exposing yourself and your friends to being open to attack. So that was very much fear mongering, from that point of view.”

US military personnel apparently mistook the cameras slung over the backs of two Reuters journalists for weapons when they opened fire on them and a group of people in a Baghdad suburb in 2007, according to video footage released in April by whistleblower Web site Wikileaks.

As RAWSTORY reported at the time, the video showed the deaths of Reuters journalists Namir Noor-Eldeen, 22 and Saeed Chmagh, 40, along with six other people on a street corner. It also shows US forces firing on a minivan in which two injured children were found.

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Things are so bad for Republicans the GOP had to send money to Texas

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In 2016, then-anti-Trump Republican Sen. Linsey Graham proclaimed, "If we nominate Trump, we will get destroyed.......and we will deserve it." It seems his prediction is coming closer to fruition.

Financial reporting reveals that the Republican Party was forced to send $1.3 million to ruby-red Texas as the election nears.

It was something spotted by ProPublica developer and ex-reporter Derek Willis Sunday.

"That's never happened before," he tweeted.

He noted that the Texas GOP raised $3.3 million in August, but nearly half of that came from their national parents.

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What the London ‘Blitz’ reveals about how much pain and tragedy people can handle in 2020

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It's hard to imagine how 2020 could possibly get worse. "If we lose Betty White," a friend said on a drive to the Supreme Court to lay flowers.

So many Americans have lost friends or family members to COVID-19. Thousands of Americans survived the virus only to desperately needed organ transplants and forever will struggle to breathe the way they once did. Others are still suffering without smell or taste even three months after having the virus. Millions of Americans are out of work. Debt is stacking up for those trying to survive in the COVID economy. A lack of health insurance can mean hospitalizations from the virus are putting people into bankruptcy.

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Stop trying to convince people you’re right — it will never persuade anyone: expert

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MSNBC host Joshua Johnson noted that this year has been full of strife, with Americans having a lot to stand up about. Whether the slaying of unarmed Black men and police brutality, or healthcare, and the coronavirus, Americans are lining up to protest.

Johnson asked if people try to start tough conversations, how do they keep it productive, and when it's time to give up. In her book, We Need to Talk, Celest Headlee explains tools that people can use to have productive conversations about tough issues that help move the needle.

"Keep in mind that a protest isn't a conversation, right?" she first began. "That's a different kind of communication. The first thing is that our goal in conversations is not always a productive one. In other words, oftentimes, we go into these conversations hoping to change somebody's mind or convince them that they are wrong. You're just never going to accomplish that. There's no evidence. We haven't been able to -- through years and years of research we haven't been able to find evidence that over a conversation somebody said, 'You're right, I was completely wrong.' You've convinced me. So, we have to stop trying to do that. We have to find a new purpose for those conversations."

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