Tuesday, March 13, 2007

NYT: "For U.S. Troops at War, Liquor Is Spur to Crime" (PvZ)

In May 2004, Specialist Justin J. Lillis got drunk on what he called "h**ji juice," a clear Iraqi moonshine smuggled onto an Army base in Balad, Iraq, by civilian contractors, and began taking potshots with his M-16 service rifle.
"He shot up some contractor’s rental car," said Phil Cave, a lawyer for Specialist Lillis, 24. "He hopped in a Humvee, drove around and shot up some more things. He shot into a housing area" and at soldiers guarding the base entrance.
Six months later, at an Army base near Baghdad, after a night of drinking an illegal stash of whiskey and gin, Specialist Chris Rolan of the Third Brigade, Third Infantry Division, pulled his 9mm service pistol on another soldier and shot him dead.
And in March 2006, in perhaps the most gruesome crime committed by American troops in Iraq, a group of 101st Airborne Division soldiers stationed in Mahmudiya raped a 14-year-old Iraqi girl and killed her and her family after drinking several cans of locally made whiskey supplied by Iraqi Army soldiers, military prosecutors said.
Alcohol, strictly forbidden by the American military in Iraq and Afghanistan, is involved in a growing number of crimes committed by troops deployed to those countries. Alcohol- and drug-related charges were involved in more than a third of all Army criminal prosecutions of soldiers in the two war zones -- 240 of the 665 cases resulting in convictions, according to records obtained by The New York Times through a Freedom of Information Act request.
Seventy-three of those 240 cases involve some of the most serious crimes committed, including murder, rape, armed robbery and assault. Sex crimes accounted for 12 of the convictions.

The above is from Paul von Zielbauer's "For U.S. Troops at War, Liquor Is Spur to Crime" in this morning's New York Times. It's an interesting article and one the Times seems to be leading on as opposed to playing catch up (i.e.: "This weekend, the Washington Post reported . . . "). I've edited a word because we don't use it here as a slur -- and tying it into alcohol is a slur. I'm sure the Times would never mind, they edit too. For instance, this is yet another article that refers to the gang rape and murder of Abeer Qasim Hamza but never manages to mention her by name.

Speaking of things that are and aren't considered news, Vic notes this from AP's "Iraqi PM visits Sunni insurgent stronghold:"

Iraq's Shiite Prime Minister on Tuesday made a groundbreaking and unannounced visit to Ramadi, the Sunni insurgent stronghold west of Baghdad, a senior staff member told The Associated Press.
The official, who spoke on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to release the information, said Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki had flown to the insurgent bastion Tuesday morning.

Vic notes that it's rather "sad and telling" that when the puppet leaves the safety hold of the Green Zone it's news. Agreed. And you may remember a little while ago when, flanked by an army of armed bodyguards, the fact that he stepped outside the Green Zone to other areas of Baghdad was also treated as "news." Is he supposed to be a leader or a ground hog? al-Maliki sees his shadow and that means seven more years of resistance?

Zach notes Jeff Yang's "Asian Pop" (San Francisco Chronicle) and zooms in on the section about Ehren Watada:

CAAM's evolutionary throughline might be visible in its production of Curtis Choy's "Watada, Resister," an 18-minute mini-film documenting the historic conversation between Lt. Ehren Watada, the Japanese American soldier who is facing court martial as the first U.S. commissioned officer to refuse deployment to the Iraq War, and Frank Emi and Yosh Kuromiya, Nisei resisters of a generation before, who rejected service in the U.S. military as a protest against the internment of their friends and family.
By connecting Watada with these moral forebears, the work connects yesterday to today, bringing the legacy of history to the dynamic, shifting playing field of the present. The medium is as much a message as the content: "Watada, Resister" was released directly to the Internet as a streaming and downloadable video.
"Curtis came to us saying, 'We have to tell this story, but I don't want to wait two years to do this for PBS, and I don't want to raise a lot of money,'" says Gong. "We pulled together a few thousand dollars to cover the costs of a crew up in Seattle and in L.A., and Curtis did his own editing, while our staff pulled together the contextual narrative to give people a way to understand the material. And literally, that was it. This was a story that needed to be told now, and this gave us a way to tell it."
Which ultimately helped convert Choy from adamant Web-video resister to at least a grudging supporter of the technology as a necessary evil. "I designed it as a quick work for viral dissemination via internet, hoping it would generate more support for Watada," says Choy, in an interview on CAAM's site. "This, after declaring the general free-for-all video sites [to be] massive garbage heaps. But it is possible to make intelligent use of it. Just because the bus has puke-a-rama on the floor doesn't mean the bus is no good."

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