An Iraqi Army helicopter crash in northern Iraq on Monday killed all eight people on board, including one American serviceman, Iraqi military officials said Tuesday.
The helicopter disappeared south of Mosul, the officials said, as sandstorms swept over much of the country, reducing visibility. American rescuers found the wreckage on Tuesday.
The helicopter, a Russian-made Mi-17 troop transport that had recently been refurbished, took off from Sinai Air Base, five miles from Baiji in Salahuddin Province, Iraqi military officials said.
The above is from Solomon Moore's "8 Die in Iraqi Copter Crash, One From U.S." (New York Times). Of the crash, Alexandra Zavis (Los Angeles Times) explains, "The crash was a blow to the Iraqi military's efforts to rebuild its air force, which was devastated during the 1991 Persian Gulf War and never recovered." As noted yesterday, Lt. General James Dubik was briefing the press when he was asked when the Iraqi military would take control of their own space and he took a long pause (not evident in the rest of the press conference). Then might have been a good time to explain the deaths.
Meanwhile, Carl Levin decided embarrassing himself once yesterday wasn't enough (wasting time grandstanding on the visit to Iraq by the Iranian president -- wasting time in the midst of a supposed assessment on 'accomplishments' in the country). Reuters quotes his latest embarrassment:
"What kind of an absurdity is it that we are paying for the reconstruction of Iraq with American taxpayers dollars if Iraqi oil sales, to a significant degree, are going into foreign banks and not being used for their own reconstruction," said Sen. Carl Levin, a Michigan Democrat.
Levin appears to believe Iraq invaded itself. No one wake him, it's still early in the morning.
Among the visitors complaining today in e-mails is one __ (fill in the blank) who writes "We're not all Catholic lovers" and after that every sentence has a slur against Catholics. He's upset that Archbishop Paulos Faraj Raho, who was kidnapped Friday, has been noted here. We generally note kidnappings. In the Archbishop's case you have the fact that there is a ransom, that he someone in poor health, that three people were killed in the kidnapping, that the earthly head of his church (that would be the Church and the head would be the Pope) has issued two statements on the kidnapping and a bit more. But the visitor notes that we "talk about those" word deleted "Catholics in Ireland over and over" and we're apparently doing the same here. I don't know that we've "talked about" the Irish Catholics since the sole-to-main focus became Iraq which would be almost two years ago. But it is news. If you'll think of a more recent kidnapping you'll grasp that some fools decided not to release the name of the victim. (I'm not referring to the victim's family.) That was so stupid. And if you'll take a moment to think about, you'll realize that victim that was going to be released any day now still hasn't been released. It's a big mistake. (And that's true of the five from England whose names have still not been released -- that's a huge mistake.) We know the Archbishop's name. We don't really go into individual contractors but we have also noted them when they've been kidnapped. It is news and when victims are reduced to numbers and nameless, it doesn't help anyone. That's basic and why in the US when a child goes missing and a Megan Alert is aired, you're told the child's name. Those alerts aren't just aimed at people who may see them and think, "I saw a child today that looked just like that!" They're aimed at the kidnappers as well. It is a mistake in any kidnapping to render the victim invisible. That's a basic. If it bothers you to read about it, don't drop by. It's really that simple. This is in full because it's a press release and Olive e-mailed to note it (Olive is a community member, not a visitor) "The price of freedom:"
Ransom demanded for kidnapped archbishop
KIDNAPPERS who seized an archbishop in Iraq at gunpoint outside his cathedral have demanded a ransom of US$1 million.
Amid growing fears for the safety and health of Archbishop Faraj Rahho, 65, of Mosul, northern Iraq, mediators acting on behalf of the Church have been in contact with the kidnappers, whose identity still remains unknown.
Speaking on the telephone yesterday (Sunday, 2nd March), two days after the archbishop was snatched from his cathedral in Mosul, the kidnappers refused to allow the mediators to talk to the cleric despite the need for medicine for his heart complaint.
In an interview with Aid to the Church in Need today (Monday 3rd March), Bishop Andreas Abouna of Baghdad said that Church leaders were outraged by the kidnappers' demands but were "full of hope" that the archbishop was still alive and that negotiations could now begin for his release.
He said: “The people who are dealing with the kidnappers have told them it is impossible to afford the ransom. The mediators asked to hear the voice of the archbishop but they weren't allowed."
Stressing the shock of the killing of three men at the time of the kidnapping, Bishop Abouna said: "The people responsible have obviously done this for money but they clearly also wanted to scare the Christians in Mosul and all over the country and let them know they are not safe."
The bishop added: "Even as bishops, what can we do to help him? All we can do is hope and pray."
With three days passed since the incident at Mosul’s Holy Spirit Cathedral and no sign of a break-through, the bishop stressed how Archbishop Rahho’s disappearance was "more concerning" than the January 2005 day-long kidnapping of Archbishop Georges Casmoussa, also from Mosul.
Bishop Abouna described the "angry and scared" faithful at the Sunday Mass he celebrated yesterday in Baghdad's Our Lady of the Assumption Church in the Mansour region of the city.
He continued: "I told the people at Mass that Jesus is with us and that we have to hold our heads up high and not be afraid. I reminded them that Jesus has told us from the beginning that the way of Christianity is not easy.
"It is not that to be a Christian is full of sadness," said Bishop Abouna, "but that Jesus told us that people would have to suffer for him".
He spoke of how the faithful had been consoled by Pope Benedict XVI's repeated appeals for Archbishop Rahho's release.
Speaking yesterday (Sunday) after the Angelus prayer in St Peter's, Rome, the Pope said: "I express my closeness to the entire Church in Iraq… which has once again been dealt a serious blow. I encourage all of the pastors and faithful to be strong and firm in hope."
John Pontifex from the Catholic charity Aid to the Church in Need said the kidnapping "was almost certainly intended" as a warning to Christians across the country.
Mr Pontifex said the proportion of Christians leaving Iraq was much higher than other groups and that the kidnapping would only cause yet more emigration.
Saying that the number of Christians fleeing their homes was likely to be "far higher" than the 600,000 often quoted, Mr Pontifex warned of the possible long-term extinction of Christianity from Iraq, a fear which according to the Pope applies to the whole of the Middle East.
Directly under the Holy See, Aid to the Church in Need supports the faithful wherever they are persecuted, oppressed or in pastoral need. ACN is a Catholic charity – helping to bring Christ to the world through prayer, information and action.
Founded in 1947 by Fr Werenfried van Straaten, whom Pope John Paul II named "An Outstanding Apostle of Charity", the organisation is now at work in about 145 countries throughout the world.
The charity undertakes thousands of projects every year including providing transport for clergy and lay Church workers, construction of church buildings, funding for priests and nuns and help to train seminarians. Since the initiative’s launch in 1979, 45 million Aid to the Church in Need Child's Bibles have been distributed worldwide.
For more information please contact the Sydney office of ACN on (02) 9679-1929. e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org or write to Aid to the Church in Need PO Box 6245 Blacktown DC NSW 2148. Web: www.aidtochurch.org
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