Tuesday, November 06, 2007

Other Items

The U.S. military on Tuesday announced the deaths of five more soldiers, making 2007 the deadliest year of the war for U.S. troops according to an Associated press count.

The above is from Lauren Frayer's "2007 is deadliest year for US in Iraq" (AP). M-NF has still not released a statement but the five died in roadside bombings Reuters notes that "no details of the attacks" were provided.

Turning to the New York Times, James Glanz' "Iraqi Police Academy Remains Largely Unusable" tells the latest in reconstruction news:

More than a year after the Parsons Corporation, the American contracting giant, promised Congress that it would fix the disastrous plubming and shoody construction in barracks the company built at the Baghdad police academy, the ceilings are still stained with excrement, parts of the structures are crumbling and sections of the buildings are unusable because the toilets are filthy and nonfuctioning.

In addition the water is turned off. Glanz explains that "concrete used in the construction was substandard and is already collapsing in places" and after attempting to 'address' it by stopping use of the toilets, it was time to cut the water off completely. A new project. Overall cost, Glanz explains, was $72 million. Glanz quotes an unnamed US military officers who expresses disgust noting, "When it's for something good, I don't mind flipping the dime, but this money just went from my pocket to a contractor." And doesn't that sum it all up?

Meanwhile, AP notes that there were 17 reported deaths yesterday in Iraq "including a local councilman gunned down in a neighbourhood next his own in western Baghdad." This continues the trend of assaults on officials in Iraq. Over the weekend, Lt. Gen. Mohan Hafidh and Maj. Gen. Jaleel Khalf (Basra police) survived an attack on Saturday (in Basra) as did Dr. Jabbar Yasir Al Maiyahi (Wasit University president) although he and three bodyguards were wounded; Sunday Qutaiba Badr Al Deen, of the Ministry of Finance, was shot dead Sunday in Baghdad as was Eman Hussein (a female school principal) while a second female principal was wounded and, on Saturday, a police officer's wife was kidnapped in Kut. While yesterday, a municipal manager was shot dead in Baghdad. The trend towards attacks on officials has been largely ignored (Alissa J. Rubin did cover it at the New York Times) though the AP does focus on government worker Mohammed Abdul-Wahab who found a note from a militia telling him to leave his home and he and his family quickly became part of the 2.3 million internally displaced Iraqis as they left their Baghdad home (as 60% of the internally displaced have). If you read over the AP report you'll note 2,299,425 internally displaced Iraqis with credit to the Red Crescent for that figure and "some 2 million" externally displaced credited to the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees. What do you not see?

You don't see figures from the Iraqi government, you don't notice figures from the US military but, for those who've forgotten, one of the smallers waves of Operation Happy Talk last week was that Iraqis were returning to the country because of the (non)drop in violence. In fact, CBS News was still trying to push that nonsense yesterday: "Over the weekend the Iraqi governmen announced that more than 3,000 Iraqi families . . have returned to their homes in the past three months"! For the 'safety,' you understand. No. (A) The puppet government has no figures, it just creates them. (B) Refugees only return to Iraq -- as all studies have shown -- because they run out of funds. Returning to point A -- for any idiot foolish enough to believe that the puppet government knows who is living where -- forget a number of 'returns' -- means accepting that the entire government -- not just one rogue ministry -- has taken part in, supported and endorsed the expelling of Iraqis from neighborhoods and the seizure of their homes.

Meanwhile, Paul von Zielbauer reports in the Times that Michael A. Hensley faces a court-martial in Baghdad. Over what? Oh, cookie, the media lost interest long ago. We're talking about the kill-teams. From PvZ:

The baiting program was introduced to select members of the First Battalion, including Sergeant Hensley, in late January by the Asymmetrical Warfare Group, a Defense Department agency that develops secret methods of githing insurgents in Iraq, said Capt. Mattew Didier, the platoon commander at the time of the killings, in a sworn statement that has not been made public but was obtained by The New York Times.
"If we happened to see the individual take the items we would engage, to destroy the enemy," Captain Didier said in the statement, dated June 23.
Lawyers for Sergeant Hensley and the other snipers accused in the case have suggested the baiting program is relevant to their defense because it demonstrates the extent to which Army and Pentagon commanders approved unconventional methods of killing not only insurgents but also unarmed men of military age who were believed to be enemy fighters.

Yes, war resister James Burmeister was addressing and explaining the kill-teams back in June of this year. For the mainstream -- I don't believe little media ever bothered to address the story -- Josh White and Joshua Partlow broke the story for the Washington Post on September 24, 2007. But like everything else to do with Iraq, media had something else to do. Not something better. Not something of more value. Just something else.

We see that with the 'coverage' of Turkey and nothern Iraq. Count on the wire service and the few outlets that have foreign desks and that's really it. AP reports Turkish President Abdullah Gul is declaring, "Turkey has made its preparations and had decided what to do on this issue before the prime minister left." Decided what? He doesn't say. Reported in the foreign media was the fact that Turkey had a battle plan drawn up. Reuters notes that the prime minister of Turkey, Tayyip Erdogan, "has said that a military operation is still planned against Kurdish guerrillas in northern Iraq".

If Turkey does go into Iraq, the refugee crisis -- already the largest in the world -- will only increase.

But oil's price per barrel continues to climb -- and isn't that what's important? AP reports that oil rose to a record high of $96.21 a barrel.

We'll close by noting Matthew Chavez' "Death toll in Iraq misleading" (University of New Mexico's The Daily Lobo):

The Associated Press figures show a decline in American and Iraqi fatalities, especially in Baghdad and Anbar province. But these and other figures should be viewed skeptically -- some sources, such as a recent Agence France-Presse tally, show civilian fatalities slightly increased between September and October, and official agencies are known to underestimate casualty statistics. U.S. military reporting rules, for example, designate corpses with wounds in the back of the head sectarian killings; the front, criminal. Further, an October 30 Government Accountability Office study notes that military reporting of civilian fatalities "may underreport incidents of Shia militias fighting each other and attacks against Iraqi security forces in southern Iraq and other areas with few or no coalition forces." Despite the decreased violence, 2007 is scheduled to be the deadliest year on record for U.S. occupation forces.
This modest improvement, nevertheless, figures prominently in the White House's latest occupation-marketing strategy that seeks to obscure the strategic and humanitarian havoc the U.S. has unleashed in Mesopotamia and beyond.
On Nov. 1, American Lt. Gen. Raymond Odierno claimed that the ethnic cleansing in Iraq largely ended after the beginning of the U.S. escalation in January, an attempt to correlate increasing U.S. force and diminishing civil war. "There have been some minor (population) shifts, but very little," Odierno said during a news conference. "It has not been significant over the last 10, 11 months."
According to an October report delivered by U.N. Undersecretary General for Political Affairs Lynn Pasco, however, the number of internal and external Iraqi refugees "rose to 4.2 million, with monthly displacement rates climbing to over 60,000 persons," a trend that aggravates "an already alarming humanitarian crisis." U.N. figures suggest the sectarian cleansing the Bush administration dismisses as "minor shifts" in fact numbered in the hundreds of thousands since the onset of the 2007 escalation, expanding the "largest long-term population movement in the Middle East" since Israel ethnically cleansed large segments of Palestine in 1948.

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