Wednesday, April 11, 2007

Iraq snapshot

Wednesday, April 11, 2007.  Chaos and violence continue, Crazy John McCain intends to continue running for the GOP presidential nomination until the men in white coats cart him away, The Savannah Morning News merges with the US military, the International Red Cross issues a report that doesn't contain the preferred amount of happy talk, and the refugee crisis grows.
Today the US military announced: "An MND-B Soldier died and two others were wounded when an improvised explosive device detonated near their patrol in an eastern section of the Iraqi captial April 11."  And they announced: "One MDN-B Soldier died and another was wounded after their unit came under attack in the southern portion of the Iraqi capital April 10."  This brings the total number of US service members killed in Iraq since the start of the illegal war to 3294 with 47 for the month of April alone, reports ICCC.
We're starting with the above for a reason, Crazy John McCain.  Last week, Crazy John McCain took  The John McCain Showboat Express to Baghdad and became a topic of ridicule for his boldface lies that things were getting better in Iraq and that he could walk freely through a Baghdad street.  Robert Knigh ( Flashpoints, Monday, April 2nd) described the 'free walk' this way: "McCain, in defiance of various independent reports that Iraq's daily death toll actually increased last month, nevertheless declared that the so-called 'surge' was 'making progress' and that Americans were 'not getting the full picture of what is happening in Iraq'; however a zoom out from McCain's photo op shows that he was actually surounded by orbiting F16 fighter planes, three Black Hawk attack helicopters, 2 Apache gun ships, more than 100 US troops, snipers and armed vehicles, a flak jacket and personal body armour. The presidential contender and Congressional comedian concluded his celebration of April Fool's Day by declaring with a straight face that 'There are neighborhoods in Baghdad where you and I could walk through those neighborhoods today. These and other indicators and reasons for cautious optimism about the effects of the new strategy'."
Crazy John McCain lost some of his luster over that and went on CBS' 60 Minutes Sunday where Scott Pelly asked him about the claims he'd made re: Iraq and Senator Crazy responded, "Of course I'm going to misspeak and I've done it on numerous occasions and I probably will do in the future.  I regret that when I divert attention to something that I've said from my message but you know that's just life, and I'm happy frankly with the way I operate, otherwise it would be a lot less fun."  Never deny a crazy their fun.  Speaking at the Virginia Military Institute in Lexington, Virginia, Crazy John McCain was at it again, kissing ass and telling lies and he asserted that he was speaking "to an audience that can discern truth from falsehood in a politician's appraisal of the war," then went on to dub the illegal war as "necessary and winnable" and attempted to drum up sympathy by stating his Crazy Walk through Baghdad left him at the mercy of "a hostile press corps".  Crazy spoke of "memorable progress and measurable progress" and some probably fell for the crap.  Those who did probably have forgotten the outline General John P. Abizaid presented on March 14, 2006 (link goes to Centcom, click here).  He's also bragging about Baghdad where, as AFP notes, "the International Committee of the Red Cross said in a new report that the operation had not yet stabilised Baghdad."  His bragging comes as Bruce Rolfsen (Air Force Times) notes "more than 850 wounded and injured service men" and service women "out of war zones during March, according to the Air Force.  In February, the Air Force flew out 767 patients.
Senator Crazy went on to declare that the armed battle included a "struggle for the soul of Islam" sounding as insane as the Bully Boy when he originally used the term "crusade."  Senator Crazy was, no doubt, amusing himself again with thoughts of bombs being dropped, rockets launched, bullets shot all for a "struggle for the soul of Islam."  Senator Crazy remains the undeclared GOP candidate for the 2008 presidential nomination and with all the crazy remarks he makes, it's easy for the electorate to miss some of them. When Scott Pelly (60 Minutes) pointed out that the majority of US citizens want and wondered to Crazy when Crazy would "start doing what the majority of the American people want?"
A memorable, if not winning, campaign slogan if ever there was one.  Crazy John McCain is running for president on the premise that, his words, "I disagree with what the majority of the American people want."  Vote Insane! Vote McCain!
Staying with the crazies, the Giddiest Gabor in the Green Zone, little Willie Caldwell, grabbed his feather boa and marched before reporters to declare, "They're arming the insurgents, dahling."  With the five Iranian diplomats still not released (and US military command announcing today that they weren't going to be), Little Willie strutted and made broad statements.  Or, as the BBC put it, "accused."  AFP also uses the (accurate) terminology, noting that Little Willie "accused the Iranians of training Iraqi groups on how to assemble explosively-formed projecticles -- a type of armour-piercing roadside bomb that has caused many coalition casualties."  Lauren Frayer, AP's frequent embed, paid to write for a living, somehow fails to utilize "accused" once; however, she did take down good stenography for Little Willie and deploy the term "said" eight times in a 300 plus word 'report' (324 -- check my math).
In other Press Shames, Joe Strupp (Editor & Publisher) reports what's what at The Savannah Morning News these days.  On their front page, they are now running a column by Major General Rick Lynch -- at least it may be by him.  The paper's editor, Susan Catron, asked of the names at the end of Lynch's opinion column offers happily,  "I can't tell if they wrote it or not."  Catron also reveals that the paper is not paying the general for his column.  Hmmm.
The editor can't state for the record whether or not the column was written by the general and this weekly column (carried on the front page) requires no payment to the writer?  For many, that would be enough to raise red flags but Catron's still recovering from the mighty Sunday comics war that so drained the paper's resources 
Strupp reveals that the newspaper staff believes (and they are right) that if the column belongs anywhere, it is "on the opinion page . . .  Is this appropriate for a 50,000-reader newspaper that purports to be free from government influence?  Staff members feel it has undermined the newspaper's credibility and independence."
Turning to news of attempts to increase leisure time, AP reports that the US "White House is considering naming a high-powered official to oversee the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan and report directly to President Bush".
There seems to be some confusion here so let's turn to the US Constitution, Article II, section 2 which reads:
The President shall be Commander in Chief of the Army and Navy of the United States, and of the Militia of the several States, when called into the actual Service of the United States; he may require the Opinion, in writing, of the principal Officer in each of the executive Departments, upon any Subject relating to the Duties of their respective Offices, and he shall have Power to Grant  Reprieves and Pardons for Offences against the United States, except in Cases of Impeachment.
If anyone's confused (and apparently the White House is) the role being discussed is a Constitutionally mandated role for the occupant of the Oval Office.  It's really not something that can be "delegated."  Possibly Bully Boy's all tuckered out from his vacation in Crawford?  Mimi Kennedy (writing at Truthout) notes that Camp Casey was in full swing in Crawford last weekend with the Bully Boy in town.  Kennedy reports that Friday was spent at the checkpoint singing "We Shall Overcome" and chanting "We are here with Cindy/We're here to ask/What noble Cause/We are here with Cindy now" dying Easter eggs and singing; with Saturday revolving around Pink Police actions.  On the topic of CODEPINK, they have redesigned their website adding many new features and one of the new campaigns revolves around the video "Toy Soldiers" -- watching it and passing it on. 
Cindy Sheehan will be speaking in Indiana Thursday. The South Bend Tribune reports she will deliver "Speaking Peace to Power" at 10:30 Thursday morning on the campus of Saint Mary's College (auditorium in Madeleva Hall).  The event is free and open to the public.  On last weekend, Cindy (writing at BuzzFlash) notes,  "At our five acres of Camp Casey, we also announced phase two of our development from a protest camp to a peace facility.  The Camp Casey Peace Institute is partnering with Farm Hands to create a therapeutic farm for Vets and their families and active duty soldiers.  We are having our first build on Memorial Day Weekend to put up our lodge building."
Staying with peace news, we'll turn to US war resisters.  Meghan Eves (Canada's Eye Weekly) takes a close look at three war resisters who are among the 300 attempting to find refuge in Canada.  Eves notes that Jeremy Hinzman was the first to apply for refugee status and that Hinzman's currently appealing the rejection by the Immigration and Refugee Board "to the Federal Court of Appeals but no date has been set"; that Joshua Key, his wife Brandi and their four children await the response of the Federal Court of Canada on his appeal (all war resisters have been refused refugee status by the Immigration and Refugee Board) and notes his book The Deserter's Tale, and Dean Walcott who self-checked out and went to Canada at the end of last year (December 2006) -- someone could pass it on to Paul von Zielbauer that Walcott and Key both suffer from PTSD.
Key, Hinzman and Walcott are part of a movment of resistance within the military that also includes Ehren Watada, Robert Zabala, Darrell Anderson,  Kyle Snyder , Corey Glass, Ricky Clousing, Mark Wilkerson, Agustin Aguayo, Camilo Mejia,  Patrick Hart, Ivan Brobeck, Aidan Delgado, Pablo Paredes, Carl Webb, Jeremy Hinzman, Stephen Funk, David Sanders, Dan Felushko, Brandon Hughey, Clifford Cornell, Joshua Despain, Katherine Jashinski, Chris Teske, Matt Lowell, Jimmy Massey, Tim Richard, Hart Viges, Michael Blake and Kevin Benderman. In total, thirty-eight US war resisters in Canada have applied for asylum. 

Information on war resistance within the military can be found at Center on Conscience & War, The Objector, The G.I. Rights Hotline, and the War Resisters Support Campaign. Courage to Resist offers information on all public war resisters.
Turning to Iraq, yesterday on Flashpoints, Emily Howard spoke with Darh Jamail about the Doha conference and Iraq.  On Iraq, Jamail noted the growing Iraqi refugee problem and how nothing was being done about it.  They discussed his recent article at IPS on the topic of refugees and Jamail spoke of how when attacks were on going, the lucky ones were able to buy themselves or a relative out but, having exhausted their money with that, they were left to wander around or live in refugee tents.  Those who could afford to get out, such as doctors, have already left.  Dahr spoke of how the problem now was that a country was now in a situation where the people trained and needed for basic needs (electricity, water, etc.) are now leaving.  Writing today at IPS, Jamail interviews Iraqi refugees now in Damascus including 68-year-old Abdul Abdulla who recalls of his family's time in Baghdad prior to leaving, "We stay in our homes, but even then some people have been pulled out of their own houses.  These death squads arrived after (former U.S. ambassador John) Negorponte arrived.  And the Iraqi Government is definitely involved because they depend on them (militias)."
Reuters reports that the International Red Cross has declared that "The suffering that Iraqi men, women and children are enduring today is unbearable and unacceptable" (ICRC director of operations Pierre Kraehenbuehl).  BBC reports, "Four years after the US-led invasion, the ICRC says the conflict is inflicting immense suffering, and calls for greater protection of civilians." The ICRC issued their report in Geneva today.
Civilians bear the brunt of the relentless violence and the extremely poor security conditions that are disrupting the lives and livelihoods of millions.  Every day, dozens of people are killed and many more wounded.  The plight of Iraqi civilians is a daily reminder of the fact that there has long been a failure to respect their lives and dignity.  Shottings, bombings, abudctions, murders, military operations and other forms of violence are forcing thousands of people to flee their homes and seek safety elsewhere in Iraq or in neighboring countries.  The hundreds of thousands of displaced people scattered across Iraq find it particularly difficult to cope with the ongoing crisis, as do the families who generously agree to host them.
The report addresses a number of issues including the medical care situation with the 'brain drain' and the violence causing many medical professionals to leave the country at a time when Iraqi hospitals are overcrowed.  The report also notes this with regards to the water situation in Iraq:
Both the quantity and quality of drinking water in Iraq remain insufficient despite limited improvements in some areas, mainly in the south.  Water is often contaminated owing to the poor repair of sewage and water-supply networks and the discharge of untreated sewage into rivers, which are the main source of drinking waters.  Electricity and fuel shortages and the poor maintenance of infrastructure mean that there is no regular and reliable supply of clean water and that sewage is often not properly demanded.
On the subject of prisoners,  "Tens of thousands of people are currently being detained by the Iraq authorities and the multinational forces in Iraq" -- often without any news of the prisoners being passed on to their families.
In addition to the above, Robert Fisk (Independent of London) reports on the latest efforts to turn Baghdad into a series of "gated communities"  -- part of the 220 page plan FM 3024 -- which is based on the fact that the easy areas can be 'secured' and then the 'security' can be spread out wider.  More logically, as Fisk notes, is the greater of spreading out and depending on Iraqi soldiers, the less loyalty to the US forces and the greater the ties to Iraqis.  (Meaning the Shi'ite or Sunni trained officers is more apt to blow off US orders than turn against an Iraqi who may be a threat to the US but is not seen as an Iraqi threat.)
CBS and AP report a Hilla bombing that killed a police officer and left three more wounded, a Mosul bombing that killed a police officers, wounded two more police officers and left six other people injured. Reuters notes mortar attacks in Baghdad that killed one and left 4 others wounded.
Reuters reports two police officers shot dead outside their homes in Kut, Abdul Abbas Hashim ("general director in the Electricity Ministry" shot dead in Baghdad.
Reuters reports 11 corpses discovered in Baghdad and 9 in Mosul.

Bored stiff? Loosen up...
Download and play hundreds of games for free on Yahoo! Games.