Saturday, April 12, 2008

20 US service members announced dead this week in Iraq

Today, the US military announced: "A Multi-National Division – Baghdad Soldier was killed by an improvised-explosive device in an attack at approximately 10:30 a.m. April 12 in northwest Baghdad." This bring's April's death toll to 21 and, note, all but one of those were from this week. 20 US service members have been announced dead this week.

Somehow this week's latest wave of Operation Happy Talk (The Petreaus and Crocker Variety Hour) washed the mass deaths out of the new cycle at most outlets.

Today's Democratic Radio Address was delivered by US House Rep John Yarmuth (Democratic Party, link also has audio):

"Good morning, this is Congressman John Yarmuth from Kentucky's Third Congressional district.
"This week in Washington, General David Petraeus and Ambassador Ryan Crocker appeared before Congress to discuss the state of the war in Iraq. I have the greatest respect for these two distinguished leaders and their service to our nation, but their testimony was disappointing.
"General Petraeus and Ambassador Crocker failed to offer a plan to change direction in Iraq and redeploy our troops. Instead, they offered more of the same, with U.S. troops and taxpayers paying the price. "Americans have already endured enormous losses in Iraq. More than 4,000 troops have given their lives in battle and the American people have spent more than half a trillion dollars to prolong our presence there. While the Iraqi government enjoys a multi-billion dollar surplus, American tax dollars are still being used to pay the salaries of Iraqi security forces, and provide basic services to Iraqis.
"Next week, the American people will once again be reminded of the cost of this war. As April 15th approaches, millions of our hard-working citizens will pay their taxes knowing full well that their hard-earned dollars will be shipped to Iraq rather than invested here at home.
"At a time when our nation scrambles for new ways to stimulate the economy, the money we ship outside our borders to Iraq - at least 2 and a half billion dollars per week and 10 billion dollars a month - is not only linked to our economic skid, but is a leading cause of it.
"The American people know the tax dollars they send to Iraq could be put to good use here at home. Across America, our roads and bridges are crumbling and are in desperate need of repair, yet taxpayer dollars are being squandered on an Iraqi government that is riddled with waste, fraud, and corruption.
"Health care costs are skyrocketing in the U.S., yet the cost of one month in Iraq could extend the Children's Health Insurance Program, which the President vetoed, to ten million children of working families for a full year.
"While Iraq runs a surplus because of oil revenues, Americans can't afford to get to work, to pick up a child from school, or to drive to their places of worship because of record prices at the pump. UPS, the largest employer in my hometown of Louisville, warned just this week of lower profits due to increased gas prices.
"Families have seen college costs rise 60 percent in recent years, still the cost of a single day in Iraq would send 18,000 students to college with Pell Grants.
"And in the few minutes I talk to you today, we'll spend more than 1 million dollars in Iraq.
"Democrats have already taken action to revive the American economy and support middle-class families. Working with Republicans and President Bush, we enacted an economic stimulus plan that will provide millions of Americans with recovery rebate checks of up to $1,200. Those checks will arrive in mailboxes in the coming weeks, and they will help families who need relief the most and give our economy a badly needed boost.
"We know we must do more. Former Federal Reserve Chairman Alan Greenspan said this week that we are in the throes of a recession. Waiting for the economy to improve while families continue to suffer is not an option.
"Unfortunately, that's the only plan President Bush has proposed. This week, the President said he opposes Democratic legislation that would help solve the housing crisis and keep more Americans in their homes. The President also said he opposed Democrats' efforts to enact a second economic stimulus plan that would reinvest in America and assist workers who have lost their jobs.
"President Bush thinks relief for American families can wait. We know relief can't come soon enough.
"In the coming weeks, Democrats will continue to work to reinvigorate the economy. We will fight for a second economic stimulus package that provides more aid to workers, offers support to families, and invests in U.S. businesses that will spur our long-term growth. We will craft comprehensive housing legislation that will help secure the American dream for families at risk of losing their homes. We will continue our fight to change direction in Iraq, and we will once again invest in America.
"Democrats will continue to work for change because we need a New Direction in this country that restores faith in America's future.
"This is Congressman John Yarmuth. Thank you for listening."

Meanwhile Qassim Zein and Hannah Allam (McClatchy Newspapers) report on the fall out from the assassination of Riyadh al Nouri:

Followers of the renegade cleric Muqtada al Sadr chanted anti-American slogans and vowed revenge for the assassination Friday of Sadr's top aide in Najaf, where outrage over the killing threatens to spiral into the second deadly uprising in southern Iraq in a month.
Riyadh al Nouri, 41, who ran the main Sadr office in Najaf and was known as a relative moderate within the movement, was gunned down as he returned home from prayers Friday afternoon, according to Iraqi authorities and the Sadr camp. No group has claimed responsibility for the slaying, which amounted to a highly provocative strike at Sadr's inner circle. Nouri was Sadr's brother-in-law.
"Long live Sadr! Muqtada is the bridge to heaven!" mourners chanted at Najaf's sprawling cemetery. Other slogans cursed the U.S. military and its Iraqi allies. Throngs of Sadr supporters referred to Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al Maliki as "the enemy of God," "infidel," "coward" and an "agent of the Americans."
"The martyrdom of Seyyed Riyadh al Nouri has burned my heart, and I will not rest until I have avenged him," said Mohamed Hassan, a Mahdi Army militiaman who drove from the town of Kufa for the funeral.
The timing of the killing -- not even two weeks after more than 120 people died and at least 300 were wounded in fighting between Sadr's militiamen and government forces in the port city of Basra -- raises the specter of a wider rebellion that could spread to Sadr's strongholds in Baghdad.

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