Two suicide bombers carrying police identity cards walked up to an Interior Ministry checkpoint on Monday morning and blew themselves up hundreds of yards from a ceremony attended by the American ambassador, killing at least 18 police officers and wounding 25, officials said.
[. . .]
The bombers, who were wearing suicide vests under plain clothes, were able to walk into an area near the ministry, which is closed to cars, according to a police officer who witnessed the attack. In a troubling lapse of security, the men had obtained police badges and showed them at a checkpoint at the north gate of the ministry.
As the bombers were making their way, they blew themselves up, scattering bodies and shrapnel in all directions.
The blasts were audible at the ceremony a quarter of a mile away, which proceeded uninterrupted, an American military spokesman said.
The above is from Sabrina Tavernise's "Bombers Kill 18 in Iraq; U.S. Ambassador Nearby" in this morning New York Times. There's another Iraq highlight at the end of the post. But we'll stay on the topic of lost lives via Francisco highlight, from the Associated Press' "Ramona, a Zapatista Guerrrilla Leader, Is Dead:"
Like most Zapatista leaders, Ramona, believed to have been born in 1959, did not disclose her real name and usually wore a ski mask in public. Few details are known about her life, other than that she was a Tzotzil Indian who joined the rebel movement before its January 1994 armed uprising and rose to prominence in its ranks.
In 1996, Ramona became the first rebel leader to travel to Mexico City, for a kidney transplant. While the exact nature of her illness has not been confirmed, it had long been rumored to have been cancer.
Often visibly frail, Ramona was an advocate within the Zapatista movement for women's rights and a promoter of traditional handicrafts.
How did Bully Boy spend his holiday break? Mandy notes Campbell Roth's "Bush Gives Cronies Holiday Treats with Recess Appointments" (NOW):
George W. Bush used the holiday recess to fill 17 key government posts, misusing his "emergency" appointment powers to bypass congressional hearings--and bypass lawmakers' constitutional role in confirming presidential nominations.
Several of the appointees had run into opposition from members of Congress for nepotism or cronyism, or during previous nomination or political campaigns, including Ellen Sauerbrey, a staunch abortion rights opponent who had used her previous political appointment with the U.N. to advance that agenda. Sauerbrey was appointed assistant secretary of state for population, refugees and migration, which could put allow her to do even more damage to women's rights.
National Organization for Women President Kim Gandy called Bush's actions "more of the same from an executive branch that bends the rules to the breaking point."
"The country should be outraged at Bush's disregard of the democratic processes, and the separation of powers, that this country was founded upon," Gandy said. "By circumventing the rules of government and appointing loyalists for political gain, George Bush puts his friends first--and voters last."
Kevin sent in the last highlight, back to the topic of Iraq, and notes that he remembers the soldier dubbed the "Marlboro Man" by the press. Norman Solomon reminds everyone of when the press couldn't stop talking about him, in 2004, and informs you of the status today in "Media's War Images Delude Instead of Inform" (Common Dreams):
On the third day of 2006, when the man in the iconic photo returned to the CBS airwaves on "The Early Show," this time the mood was more somber. "Blake Miller made it home from the war," co-host Harry Smith reported. "But like many of his comrades, he wasn't able to completely put it behind him. While on duty during the Hurricane Katrina relief effort, Blake suffered from symptoms of posttraumatic stress disorder and was granted an honorable discharge from the Marines."
Blake Miller described what had happened on board a ship when he heard a sailor imitate the noise from an incoming rocket-propelled grenade: "A guy was making a whistling sound. And at that time, I mean, it just -- the sound actually sounded like an RPG." Miller added: "And without even knowing what I'd done until after it was over, I snatched him up, I slammed him against the bulkhead, the wall, and took him to the floor. And I was on top of him."
The real person Blake Miller, not the media icon, said: "I'm continuing my therapy. I continued up until the day I got out, actually." And, speaking of other Americans who had fought in Iraq, he said: "The more and more I talked to them, the more I found out that there was a lot of Marines that were going through same, similar emotions. And I mean, it's -- it's tough to deal with. I mean, being in Iraq is something that no one wants to talk about."
As an American soldier in an "iconic" photo, Blake Miller was newsworthy for a little while. But in sharp contrast to the media enthusiasm that greeted him back in November 2004, there was no major media coverage in the days after "The Early Show" revealed on Jan. 3 that he's suffering from posttraumatic stress. For the warfare state, he has outlived his usefulness.
Remember today's scheduled topic for Democracy Now!:
Coverage of Day One of the Senate Hearings of Samuel Alito.
Also remember that Pacifica continues broadcasting the Alito hearings today. The public address for this site currently is firstname.lastname@example.org. Please indicate in your heading that your e-mail is in ref to The Common Ills because they also get their share of e-mails. (Members continue using the backup e-mail address please.)
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