Six US soldiers died in roadside bombings and a shooting, the US military said, as lawmakers tried to persuade Sunni Arabs to accept federalism provisions in the draft constitution that is due on Monday.
Three of the soldiers were killed in a roadside bombing late on Friday near Tuz, 150km north of Baghdad, the military said on Sunday. Another soldier was wounded in the blast and evacuated.
One soldier on patrol was killed on Sunday and three others were wounded in a blast east of Rutbah, 400km west of Baghdad, the military said. In another roadside bombing, one soldier was killed on Saturday and another wounded in western Baghdad.
On Friday, a US commander said the number of roadside bomb attacks against American convoys in Iraq had doubled in the past year to about 30 a week. Dozens of bombings, usually detonated by remote control, target US and Iraqi patrols each day.
Nora e-mailed to note the above from "Iraq bombs, shooting kill six US troops" (Aljazeera).
Brendan e-mails to alert us to an upcoming Operation Happy Talk front courtesy of Rory Carroll's "Iraq's constitution talks go to the wire" (The Guardian) (possible Operation Happy Talk front is italicized):
Iraq's leaders vowed to unveil a draft constitution today after marathon talks edged the country's ethnic and religious rivals towards a potentially historic compromise.
A special sitting of the parliament has been called in the capital this evening to review the text, hours before a midnight deadline for approval.
But there was no guarantee that the draft would be ready in time, as haggling continued last night on outstanding disputes related to federalism and the role of Islam.
Senior negotiators who gathered at President Jalal Tabalani's residence to paper over the cracks signalled that there would be an eleventh hour deal today.
"At this [parliamentary] meeting the draft constitution is expected to be delivered," said Nasser al-Awadi, a Sunni Arab member of the constitutional drafting committee. Kurdish and Shia negotiators echoed his optimism.
[. . .]
If so, the US president, George Bush, is likely to welcome the draft as proof that Washington's timetable for political progress is on track, despite the continued violence which at the weekend claimed the lives of six American soldiers and more than a dozen Iraqis. A grave less than two weeks old, with 30 bodies, was also found in Baghdad.
Allyson e-mails to note "Five US soldiers killed by roadside bombs in Iraq" (The New Zealand Herald):
Five US soldiers have been killed and five wounded in roadside bomb attacks in little over 24 hours, the US military said on Sunday.
Three soldiers were killed and another wounded when their patrol struck a roadside device near Tuz, some 180km north of Baghdad, late on Friday, the military said in a statement. It gave no further details.
In western Iraq, on the main road leading to the border with Jordan, one US soldier was killed and three wounded when their combat patrol hit a roadside bomb early on Sunday.
In Baghdad, a fifth soldier died when his vehicle hit a device in the west of the city on Saturday, the military said. A second soldier was wounded in that attack.
Roadside bombs, which the military calls improvised explosive devices, are the worst killer of US troops in Iraq, responsible for more than a third of total deaths.
Olive e-mails to note "Hundreds join anti-war protest at Bush ranch" (Australia's ABC):
Several hundred people have joined a protest near US President George W Bush's holiday ranch in Texas to demonstrate against the war in Iraq.
The two-week-old protest organised by Cindy Sheehan, whose son was killed in Iraq last year, is being held to call for the withdrawal of the 138,000 US troops deployed there.
The protest has been addressed by veterans of the military action in Iraq who now oppose the war.
"I joined because of September 11. I thought I was going to make a difference and help the situation but after experiencing war, seeing the death and seeing that violence only begets more violence. an eye for an eye leaves the whole world blind," veterans like Hart Vigus said.
Skip e-mails to note "US displays high-tech Iraq battle tools" (AFP via Australia's ABC):
Bomb seeking robots, spy planes and a handheld device that translates a soldier's English commands or questions into Arabic are some of the high-tech battlefield equipment developed for use by US forces in Iraq.
Colonel Gregory Tubbs, who heads an army program that looks for relatively quick technological fixes for problems arising in combat in Iraq and Afghanistan, showed off a number of items at a Pentagon press conference.
Other technology includes surveillance cameras that can be deployed on blimps and towers; a light weight metal detector for finding weapons caches and jammers.
The US Army has also deployed about 30 robots with troops in Iraq to scout out suspected roadside bombs, and has placed orders for several hundred more.
Wally e-mails to note "US fights fresh Abu Ghraib images" (BBC):
The US government is trying to stop fresh images of prisoner abuse in Iraq being made public, claiming they will aid the insurgency, court papers show.
US civil liberties groups have launched a lawsuit to force the release of 87 pictures and four videos showing abuse at Abu Ghraib jail in Baghdad.
Earlier images sparked worldwide condemnation and resulted in charges against a number of soldiers.
The US argues the rest should stay hidden to avoid helping the insurgents.
Now I'm going to note Ty from The Third Estate Sunday Review "News Review" which was done late Saturdy night, early Sunday morning:
Ty: In other Iraq news, Sameer N. Yacoub reports in Scotland's Sunday Herald that "New Iraq in doubt as leaders struggle on agreement." Power sharing and "the role of Islam in law" appear to be the stumbling blocks. The proposed constitution needs to be completely quickly to meet the deadline of being handed over to Iraq's parliment tomorrow. Bassem Mroue of the Associated Press is reporting that Kamal Hamdoun, the Sunni negotiater, has said that "his group would never accept terms that would lead to the division of the country." Meanwhile,US troop fatalies stand at 48 for the month thus far. By way of contrast, the US troops fatalities for the month of July were 54 and we're nearing the half-way point of the month of August but not yet there. Reuters reports that a month ahead of schedule, Italy has begun withdrawing troops, 130 withdrawn of the planned 300 total.
There's a lot of information that Ty's noting, but I bring it up because when Ty was compiling that late last night or early this morning (I'm foggy on when what things were done, sorry) the official count of US troop fatalities was 48 and he noted that the total for July was 54. We're now at 54 for the month. And as Ty pointed out previously, we're not even at the half-way point of August.
Pru e-mails to note this from the UK's The Socialist Worker:
"Blair is trampling over our democracy"
by George Galloway, Respect MP for Bethnal Green & Bow
Terrorists can plant bombs, but only the government can take away our fundamental freedoms.
And that is exactly what Tony Blair is proposing to do.
His new laws, to be debated in parliament next month, will not stop terror. But they will add to the sense of injustice that terrorism feeds on.
They are a further sordid twist from a government that refuses to accept that going to war in Iraq has placed the people of this country at greater risk of terrorism.
They are accompanied by innuendo about an enemy within or accusations of treason, which New Labour propagandists are levelling at those who have absolutely nothing to do with terrorism, but who do dare to speak out against the government.
The height of treason is to put the people of this country at risk of attack and to send young men and women, recruited from the dole queues, to kill and be killed on a lie.
They told us there were weapons of mass destruction — there weren’t. They said the Iraqi people would welcome us with rice and rose water — they didn’t.
They said the world would be a safer place — it isn’t. They said al-Qaida was active there — it wasn’t, but it is now.
Lie, after lie, after lie told to parliament, the British people and our own soldiers.
For the anti-war movement to be silent in the face of this mountain of lies and this new assault on freedom would be itself an act of treachery.
The scapegoating of the Muslim community and the shredding of rights that survived two world wars and the 30 years of conflict in Northern Ireland are designed to create a fearful blanket of silence.
New Labour seeks to intimidate because it has not been able to persuade — 85 percent of people say the London bombings are linked to Blair’s war on Iraq.
Now is the time to refuse to bow to intimidation. The anti-war movement has brought forward its national demonstration to 24 September.
From every community and workplace we need to pour people into London that day and send a huge roar in defence of the Muslim community and all our rights, and for pulling the troops out of Iraq.
March Saturday 24 Sept
Bring the troops home Defend civil liberties Defend muslims
Central London (details to be confirmed)
Called by: Stop the War Coalition, Muslim Association of Britain, CND
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