Monday, May 15, 2006

NYT: In Iraq "the first bomb attack in nearly a year aimed at the airport" (Sabrina Tavernise)

Two suicide car bombers tore into a central checkpoint for Baghdad's airport on Sunday, setting off blasts that killed at least 14 people and wounded 16, the military and the police said.
It was the first bomb attack in nearly a year aimed at the airport, the capital's main gateway.
The attack also was the worst in a string of violent assaults that left at least 32 people dead, including 2 American soldiers and 2 British soldiers, and more than 60 wounded, making Sunday Iraq's deadliest day in weeks.

[. . .]
In all there were eight bombings in and around Baghdad, the official said. Five bodies were found in southern Baghdad, all with gunshot wounds to the head.

The above is from Sabrina Tavernise's "2 Suicide Car Bombers Kill 14 and Wound 16 Near Baghdad Airport" in this morning's New York Times. We're going to stay with Iraq for this entry because a number of members are sending highlights on the topic this morning. So violence on the ground, corporate corruption and the efforts by CODEPINK and others to end the war are the focus of this entry. Team Tavernise's article up with Martha's highlight, focusing on the corpses, Ellen Knickmeyer's "On Baghdad Patrol, a Vigilant Eye on Iraqi Police: U.S.-Trained Allies Are Often Suspects" (Washington Post):

The young troops in his platoon briefly grumbled good-naturedly about whose Humvee always gets stuck hauling the corpses they find of equally young Iraqi men -- stiffened, blood-streaked and open-mouthed. Pretty much every day, U.S. and Iraqi troops are picking up apparent victims of Sunni-Shiite violence on the streets of Baghdad.
Since Feb. 22, when the bombing of a Shiite Muslim shrine in Samarra pushed sectarian tensions in Iraq to a new plateau, the U.S. Army units have quietly moved back into some neighborhoods that U.S. commanders had just turned over, with fanfare, to Iraqi security forces. Iraqi leaders asked for the return of the American troops into parts of central Baghdad in March, fearing that efforts to build a stable government would fall apart if they were unable to rein in the Shiite-Sunni killings, said Col. Jeffrey Snow, commander of the 1st Brigade Combat Team of the 10th Mountain Division.
After fighting for nearly three years to put down an insurgency waged by Sunni Arabs, the Americans now are also dealing with a bloody Shiite-Sunni power struggle fought largely through intimidation and murder. Part civil war, with open battles in Baghdad's mixed southern neighborhood of Dora and the northern Sunni neighborhood of Adhamiyah, and part mob-style violence, with bodies being dumped out of cars that then speed away, the struggle plays out mostly beyond the view of U.S. soldiers.

The corpses pile up in the illegal war and some keep making money hand over fist. The latter is the topic of the piece Brady wanted highlighted, Katrina vanden Heuvel's "Reconstruction Watch Part 6" (Editor's Cut, The Nation):

A non-profit company in El Paso -- The National Center for Employment of the Disabled (NCED) -- was raided last week by 70 federal agents investigating whether it violated the terms of its no-bid contracts to produce chemical protection suits for soldiers.
Under the contract, 75 percent of the work was to be completed by severely disabled employees. The Committee for Purchase from People Who Are Blind or Severely Disabled -- the federal panel overseeing such contracts – indicates that, in fact, only 7.8 percent of the labor was performed by severely disabled workers.
According to the Wall Street Journal, the NCED was awarded $1.2 billion "in recent years", and $276 million in the fiscal year ending in October. But now its government contracts have been suspended and federal agents have confiscated more than 1,000 boxes of documents and computer information from the company.

There's money to be made, big money, if you want to profit from an illegal war. Things aren't so easy for those outside of the executive suites as Lewis' highlight notes, Thomas Wagner's "Insurgents Down U.S. Helicopter, Killing 2" (Associated Press):

Insurgents shot down a U.S. helicopter south of Baghdad and killed two soldiers, the U.S. military said Monday. Their deaths, along with those of three other soldiers and two Marines, brought the weekend toll to seven U.S. service members.
Elsewhere, eight Iraqis were killed, including four teachers on their way to school and a civilian struck by a roadside bomb that hit an oil tanker, sending black smoke billowing over central Baghdad.

So a vigil took place in DC and, no suprise, not finding anything on it in the New York Times. But Skip notes Susan Sarandon and Cindy Sheehan's call for John Howard, Australia's prime minister, to pull Australian troops out of Iraq. From AAP's "Howard brushes off leadership talk" (Sydney Morning Herald):

But Sarandon and anti-war activist Ms Sheehan urged Mr Howard to pull Australian troops out of Iraq.
Ms Sheehan, whose son was killed while serving with US troops in Iraq, will visit Australia next week (May 22) for a series of anti-war rallies.
She said Mr Howard had been a fool to follow Mr Bush into war.
"George Bush is a fool and anybody who aligns with George Bush right now, especially with his administration crumbling from this corruption, I think they should distance themselves and quit supporting my country in committing crimes against humanity," Ms Sheehan said.
Sarandon and Ms Sheehan were attending a Mothers' Day peace rally in Lafayette Square, opposite the White House.
The actress rejected arguments that for the US military to leave Iraq would be "cutting and running", saying the US-led coalition's presence in Iraq was creating more problems than it was solving.
"What would we be running from? It seems as if we're the source of aggravation," Sarandon said.
"So I don't think that we would be cutting and running. I think that's just an expression that appeals to a macho mentality to get people to stay.
"But, at a certain point, trying to explain to people why their children are being killed, both the Iraqi families and the Americans that are over there, I think you'd have a hard time selling cutting and running to those families that have people actually in harm's way."

More via Erika's suggested highlight, the Associated Press' "Sarandon joins vigil against Iraq war" (USA Today):

"I can't think of a better way to spend my mothers day," the actress told reporters before speaking.
Sarandon joined anti-war activist Cindy Sheehan onstage at the end of a 24-hour vigil in Lafayette Park, across the street from the White House. She read two letters addressed to first lady Laura Bush, one written by a woman from Oregon and another by herself.
She also brought a copy of the board game Risk, purportedly to be sent to Mrs. Bush along with the letters.

Martha's second highlight focuses on the vigil in DC, Michelle Boorstein's "A Message Playful Yet Poignant: Mothers Whose Sons Died in Iraq Lead Activists' Call for Peace" (Washington Post):

Code Pink, an antiwar group that spent the weekend camped out across from the White House, is a segment of the peace movement not every opponent of the war in Iraq is comfortable with, a segment that yesterday included a leashed man in a pink dress and a very pregnant woman with a huge peace symbol across her naked belly.
But for some, such as Mark Archambault, enough is enough. Fed up with the Iraq war and fearing a U.S. attack on Iran, the 56-year-old retired postal worker and Navy veteran drove seven hours from his home in Upstate New York to Washington to join several hundred protesters, mostly women, at Code Pink's 24-hour Mother's Day vigil.

"I never would have done this before," Archambault said yesterday, gesturing to women dancing with pink and red roses in Lafayette Square, where many of them had camped out the night before at a "pink pajama party."
"But any effort to get us out of Iraq is productive," he said. "It's just gotten ridiculous. What do you wait for -- 10,000 dead? Twenty thousand? Maybe someone will listen."
Vigil organizers said about 1,000 people participated in the weekend activities, which included nonviolent action training sessions, a concert by folk musician Jill Sobule and a rally in the square yesterday with actress and activist Susan Sarandon and Cindy Sheehan, whose soldier son died in Iraq.

Remember to listen, watch or read (transcripts) of Democracy Now! today. The e-mail address for this site is