Wednesday, July 05, 2006

Democracy Now: Raed Jarrar and Geoffrey Millard

Iraq Vet Arrested on Rape, Murder Charges
A former US soldier has been arrested on charges of raping an Iraqi woman and killing her and three members of her family. The incident took place in the town of Mahmudiyah in March. According to prosecutors, former Private First Class Steven Green broke into the family's home and killed the woman’s parents and young sister. Green and another soldier allegedly raped the woman, shot her, and then set her body on fire in an apparent effort to cover up the crime. The woman's name was Abeer Qasim Hamza. The military reported her age as twenty, but locals say she was fifteen. Neighbors told investigators Abeer Qasim Hamza had expressed concerns to her mother because the soldiers had made advances towards her before. The case marks the fifth in recent weeks in which US troops have been charged with committing atrocities in Iraq.
  • Baghdad resident Ahmed Hammed: "It is a heinous act and Iraqis should stand against it. The Iraqi government should take a clear stand and put an end to the Americans’ degrading acts against the Iraqi people."
Four other active soldiers are being held pending the outcome of a military probe.
  • General Peter Pace, Chair of the Joints Chiefs of Staff: "If there are those who have done things as they've been accused of we will get to the bottom of it, we will do the investigations, we will find out what the truth is and if necessary we'll take those who deserve to be taken to court, to court, so they can have their day in court."
US To Bulldoze Parts of Central Ramadi
In other news from Iraq, the New York Times is reporting US forces plan to bulldoze several blocks in the middle of the city of Ramadi and convert them into a new "Green Zone" similar to the US command area in Baghdad. Lt. Col. Stephen Neary said some of the razed land will be turned into a park. He added: "Aesthetically it will be an improvement." The military is engaged in a large scale operation in Ramadi that has already led to the flight of thousands of residents. According to the New York Times, one poster displayed in the local US base reads: "Be polite, be professional and have a plan to kill everyone you meet." Another poster refers to the name of the military unit and says: "Kilo Company: Killed more people than cancer."
Baghdad Killings Up 16%
Meanwhile, officials at Baghdad's central morgue say killings have sharply increased since the death of Abu Musab al-Zarqawi. More than fifteen hundred bodies were delivered last month -- a sixteen percent increase over the month before. Meanwhile, United Press International is reporting delivery of dead bodies is so high the morgue has run out of adequate space to store them. On Saturday, sixty-six people were killed and more than one hundred injured when a truck bomb hit a crowded market in Baghdad. It was the deadliest attack since Iraq’s new government took office in May.
Maoists: Bush Admin Undermining Nepal Peace Process
In Nepal, the US government is coming under criticism from Maoist rebels who accuse it of undermining the peace process. The Bush administration has said it will withhold aid if the rebels join the government without first laying down their arms.
The above four items are from today's Democracy Now! Headlines and were selected by Gina, Sam, Markus and EliDemocracy Now! ("always informing you," as Marcia says):
Headlines for July 5, 2006

- Iraq Vet Arrested on Rape, Murder Charges
- US To Bulldoze Parts of Central Ramadi
- Baghdad Killings Up 16%
- North Korea Test-Fires 7 Missiles
- Obrador Calls For Recount in Mexico Elections
- Ex-Mexican President Held Over 1968 Student Massacre
- Israel Continues Gaza Strikes
- State Dept. Group Urges US Intervention in Cuba
- Lieberman May Run As Independent
Populist Lopez Obrador Demands Full Vote Recount in Mexico's Closest-Ever Presidential Race

Populist candidate Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador and conservative Felipe Calderon both claim victory in Mexico's closest-ever presidential race. Lopez Obrador is now calling for a full recount after charges of voter fraud and manipulation. We go to Mexico City to get a report and host a roundtable discussion on the election.
Troops Home Fast: Hundreds Begin Nationwide Hunger Strike to Protest War as Ex-Soldier Charged in Iraq Rape, Killing

A former U.S. soldier was arrested [Friday] on charges of raping an Iraqi woman and killing her and three family members. This comes as hundreds of people around the country begin fasts to protest the war in Iraq. We speak with an Iraq war vet who was arrested protesting war on July 4th and an Iraqi blogger -- both are participating in the fast.
Iraq snapshot.
Violence and chaos continue.  Monday on KPFA's Flashpoints,  Dahr Jamail  told Nora Barrows-Friedman, "It really is horrible to try to keep in context the level of violence . . . Here we are doing it again with no end in sight and I wonder just how long we'll continue doing it? . . . Things are not just staying the same in Iraq, it's getting exponentially worse."
How long before the mainstream press admits that?
In kidnapping news, Raad al-Harith and his body guards have been released.  al-Harith is the deputy electricity minister in Iraq who was kidnapped Tuesday.  The AFP reports that, "after being held for 10 hour," the bodyguards and al-Hareth were released but that is not the case with regards to Taiseer Najeh Awad al-Mashhadni who was kidnapped Saturday.  al-Mashhadani's kidnappers, the AFP reports, "issued demands including special protection for Shiite places" and "called for the release of detainees in US custody and a timetable for the withdrawal of US troops". 
Both al-Harith and al-Mashhadni were kidnapped in Baghdad.  Remember Baghdad?  The "crackdown"?  The press seems to have largely forgotten it. As the AFP notes regarding the continued bombings in Baghdad: "The series of blasts come despite an ongoing security plan that has put some 50,000 Iraqi soldiers and police, backed by US forces on the streets." 
Basra, which was also placed under a state of emergency also appears largely forgotten.  Nancy A. Youssef (McClatchy Newspapers) reports: "The state of emergency ended Saturday, but residents said that little had changed: Shiite militias and tribes still control the city's streets, political factions still fight for control of the city, and Shiite Muslim militias still threaten Sunni Muslims with death. Morgue officials report that the number of people killed in sectarian violence remains unchanged."
Baghdad?  The BBC reports that a car bomb near a mosque resulted in at least six dead and at least 17 wounded.  AFP notes a bomb "outside a restaurant . . . noteworthy for the massive banners praising Shiite martyrs it displayed" that killed at least one and wounded at least seven as well as another bomb that went off in a market and wounded at least ten peopole.  Reuters notes a car bomb in Kirkuk that left three wounded and a roadside bomb that left two wounded.  In Mosul, AFP reports, a police officer and a civilian lost their lives when a car bomb exploded (at least four other people were wounded).
Near Kirkuk, AFP reports, "a headless male corpse" was discovered. Reuters reports the discovery of two corpses in Kerbala. AP notes the discovery of a corpse ("shot in the head) in Baghdad.
Shooting deaths?
AFP reports a Kurd was killed while driving his car in Kirkuk. In Mosul, Reuters counts four dead from gun shots. In Baghdad, AP reports that a drive by targeted a Shi-ite family, "killing a 12-year-old boy and wounding his brother and two other relatives."
Reuters reports that the central morgue in Baghdad places the body count for June at 1,595.  Abdul Razzaq al-Obaidi states: "June is the highest month in terms of receiving cases of violence since" the Februrary 22nd bombing of the Golden Mosque. 
To underscore, the waves of Operation Happy Talk that the peace plan/scam was a 'turning point,' that the death of Zarqawi/"Zarqawi" was a 'turning point,' go down the list -- there has been no 'turning point.'   
On Tuesday, Iraq's justice minister Hashim Abdul-Rahman al-Shebli made a call for an independent investigation into the alleged rape of an under-age Iraqi female as well as her alleged murder and that of three of her family members.  Today, the Associated Press reports, Nouri al-Maliki (Iraq prime minister and puppet of the illegal occupation) is following al-Shebi's call for an independent investigation. Canada's CBC notes that today was the first time he spoke publicly on the matter .  This despite the fact that Green was arrested Friday (news broke on Monday) and the US announced the investigation on Friday.  Though various reports mention the alleged involvement of others, thus far only Steven D. Green has been charged. Today on KPFA's The Morning Show, Sandra Lupien noted that the military has gone from referring to Green having an alleged "personality disorder" to his having an "anti-social personality disorder."  Lebanon's The Daily Star reports that Safiyya al-Suhail and Ayda al-Sharif (both serve in Iraq's parliament, both are women) are asserting that al-Maliki needs to appear before parliament "to give assurances the US troops would be punished."
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