Young men armed and paid by the U.S. military took to the streets of the Iraqi capital's Sadr City area for the first time Wednesday to guard their neighborhoods, part of a new strategy designed to recruit former Shiite militiamen to American-created security groups, U.S. officials said.
The program is modeled after a more than year-old initiative, now known as the Awakening movement, to pay men formerly aligned with the Sunni insurgency to turn against it. But the new groups, called "Neighborhood Guards" by the Americans and "Sons of Iraq" by Iraqis, are the first to focus solely on a heavily Shiite area and among the few to acknowledge arming civilians.
Toting AK-47 assault rifles for a $300-a-month salary, the young men are viewed by U.S. officials as the best way to address a dearth of security forces in Sadr City, the site of bitter clashes this spring between U.S. forces and militiamen loyal to anti-American cleric Moqtada al-Sadr. The officials hope the initiative will lead some militia supporters away from violence by paying them to protect the area.
The above is from Amit R. Paley's "U.S. Enlists And Arms Patrols in Sadr City" (Washington Post) and look in vain for reporting on Iraq at other print outlets. You won't find much -- if any. On the "Awakening" Councils, we'll note again that the US government pays them (as Paley notes above) and that's US tax payer money. The US tax payer also foots the bill for the new threat of "Awakening" Councils, hiring women to do the same job and thought to be essential by the US military and White House due to the rise in female bombers. (Male "Awakening" members can not search women.) But, as noted in the June 3rd snapshot, they don't pay them the same. They are paid 20% less than the males. With all the problems Iraqi women are already living under, it's appalling that the US wants to send a message that wage discrimination is 'freedom.' It's a shame the White House wants to do that with US tax payer dollars and it's a shame that Congress has refused to call them out on this. (The "Awakening" Councils need to be disbanded. They are thugs and they're not strengthening anything but thug life. But the White House doesn't need to compound the problem by using the thugs to also say "sexism is fine and dandy.")
Sam Dagher contributes the only other article on Iraq today, "Kurdistan's muckraking media test free speech limits" (Christian Science Monitor):
Last year, Ahmed Mira published a cover story in his magazine Leveen titled "The legacy of the sick man."
The story was about the health problems of Iraqi President Jalal Talabani and a bitter leadership struggle within his political party, the Patriotic Union of Kurdistan (PUK).
Shortly thereafter, Mr. Mira, who is the magazine's editor, was arrested by Kurdistan's powerful military security. He says he was interrogated, subjected to "psychological torture," and held for 13 hours before being released.
But Mira isn't backing off. He continues to publish hard-hitting investigative reports and to tackle taboo or sensitive topics such as government corruption, intra-Kurdish rivalries – anything that may be disparaging of officials and the activities of Al Qaeda-linked militants.
He's among a group of Kurdish journalists, mostly based in Suliemaniyah, a major city in northern Iraq, who are pushing for reforms in Kurdistan. Some are working through purely personal initiative, while others are receiving support from European nonprofit and media-advocacy groups.
We didn't get news on Iraq this morning from various outlets and we don't have news of Iraq. The New York Times offers six sentences (credited to "The New York Times") on A16 under the headline "5 Killed by Bomb On Baghdad Bus" and you have to wonder about all the millions the paper spends to have their reporters in Iraq and how they think six sentences constitutes "reporting" or justifies the investment?
What we get instead is a drive-by and you know it's cabbie Kate Zernike at the wheel. The fumes Zernike spews are entitled "Democrats Criticize McCain on Strategy in Iraq" and they run on A23. Dems criticize McCain's Iraq strategy? Great! Let's have that conversation. Oh, wait, Kate and her headline writer are lying. There's no discussion. It's what was noted in yesterday's snapshot: Democratic 'leaders' distort McCain's words and lie about him.
McCain's comments yesterday were not 'unique' or 'out of character' nor were they hard to decipher. He is okay with the US remaining in Iraq, for many years to come, at a lower level, and sees it as no different than the bases the US has in Japan or Germany. Do the Democrats disagree with that?
I hope they would. A large number of Americans would. (This community strongly disagrees with McCain's view.) But they didn't disagree. They launched nasty, little attacks and distortions of what McCain meant, they suggested he didn't care about those serving and smeared him as "confused."
Those wanting to end the illegal war better grasp that every time this crap happens, the illegal war drags on a little longer. The country needs to have a discussion on Iraq. McCain's position, expressed on NBC's Today Show yesterday, offered the chance for that. Certainly, the Democratic Party should be able to respond to what McCain's arguing for, right?
Wrong. Instead it was belittle him, twist his words, pretend he was saying something different than what he's said for years now.
Every time the Democratic 'leaders' are let off the hook, the Iraq War continues. They were given the perfect opportunity to point to the differences between them and John McCain yesterday. They couldn't. And that should frighten everyone who wants the Iraq War over.
The reply could have and should have been, "While McCain thinks it acceptable for the US to have a long range presence in Iraq, the Democratic Party is calling for a withdrawal." But we didn't get that because that's not what they're arguing for, in case you missed it. So when they really have no differences with McCain, they resort to character attacks, smears and lies.
This isn't a "tone" argument. I could care less about tone. This is about how a discussion on Iraq could have taken place but instead we got, "McCain's old and he hates the military!" Smears like that. The Democrats refuse to put foward a plan to get the US out of Iraq and to stick by it. Barack was telling CNN last week that he didn't know what he'd do about Iraq if he were elected president.
So everyone applauding the crap the Dems pulled yesterday, hope you're a blind partisan and hope you don't give a damn about the Iraq War. If that's the case, applaud like crazy. If, however, you want the illegal war to end, you should be appalled by what took place.
John McCain's position is different from Bully Boy. McCain is not "McSame" but his position would not be popular with many voters. If there was a contrast.
The Democratic Party needs to wake up real quick. Smearing McCain and name calling him is not a substitute for leadership. He's establishing his position. Where's Barack?
Voters are watching. Opinions are being shaped. John Kerry had no position on Iraq -- no coherent position that he could express. (I voted for Kerry.) Bully Boy had an idiotic and criminal view. But Bully Boy could express that view. This was interpreted, after Kerry lost the election, as people would rather go with someone who was strong even if they were wrong.
I don't know that "strong but wrong" was the issue. For some, it may have been that Bully Boy's position (whether you agreed with or not) you could follow. Kerry's?
Bully Boy wasn't "strong." But you were being asked to get in a car with Bully Boy or Kerry behind the wheel. With Bully Boy, you worried he'd wreck the car. With Kerry, you weren't sure he knew how to start it.
That's exactly the message the Democrats again sent yesterday. They slammed McCain and looked like catty children in the process. But they also sent the message that McCain has a plan. (An insane plan, my opinion.) And after the catty remarks faded what did anyone know about the Democrats?
Nothing. The Dems offered no plan. They were catty, they were juvenile. They smeared someone who didn't deserve it because McCain's position is the one he's been advocating for some time. He wasn't "confused," he knows his own Iraq plan.
But voters don't know the Democrats plan. And they don't know it because catty attacks were used yesterday. They don't know it probably because the Democrats don't have one. What they do know, what the catty attacks made clear, is that McCain has a plan.
Is that how the DNC wants to play it? Another election where the country needs to go somewhere and voters have to wonder if McCain's a 'daredevil' or 'crazy' while getting the car due to the fact that the Democrats have yet to suggest they know how to start the engine, let alone drive the car?
I care in terms of ending the illegal war. The Dems should care in terms of losing another election. This is exactly how they do it. They spent all day yesterday sending out surrogates to issue quotes. It was catty and that's not showing maturity. But after the catty faded, the person barely following the issue was left with the impression that (a) McCain had a strategy, (b) Dems made fun of it and (c) Dems offered no strategy of their own. Is Democratic leadership attempting to McCain look like a leader? Do they never stop to think about how things play out?
The video below is from last night's CBS Evening News:
The Associated Press reports on a US marine expelled after a video showed up on YouTube of him "throwing a puppy off a cliff":
The clip shows two Marines joking before one hurls the puppy into a rocky gully. A yelping sound is heard as it flips through the air.
"That's mean. That's mean, Motari," an off-camera Marine is heard telling the Marine who tossed the black and white dog. The off-camera Marine snickered slightly afterward.
Lance Cpl. David Motari, assigned to the 1st Battalion, 3rd Marine Regiment at Kaneohe Bay, Hawaii, is "being processed for separation" from the Marine Corps, the service said in a news release. He also received unspecified "nonjudicial punishment."
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