Friday, January 23, 2009

US military announces another death

This morning the US military announced: "BAGHDAD -- A Multi-National Division - Center Soldier died in a non-combat related vehicle accident Jan. 22. The Soldier's name is being withheld pending next-of-kin notification and release by the Department of Defense. The incident is currently under investigation." ICCC lists the total number of US service members killed in Iraq at 4229. The death announced this morning will make 4230.

On deaths, Peter Spiegel's "Army investigator said Green Beret's death was 'negligent homicide' by KBR" (Los Angeles Times):

An Army criminal investigator told the family of a Green Beret who was electrocuted while taking a shower at his base in Baghdad that the soldier's death was a case of "negligent homicide" by military contractor KBR and two of its supervisors.
The report last month to the family of Staff Sgt. Ryan Maseth said Houston-based KBR failed to make certain that qualified electricians and plumbers were working on the barracks where Maseth was killed a year ago, according to a U.S. government official who has seen the correspondence.

Yes, KBR's Blood Money Lust is responsible for another death. What a proud moment for it and its former parent Halliburton. James Risen (New York Times) adds:

In a statement, a KBR spokeswoman, Heather Browne, said the company could not comment because it had not seen the report. She added: "KBR's investigation has produced no evidence that KBR was responsible for Sergeant Maseth's death. We have cooperated fully with all government agencies investigating this matter and will do so in the future."

Scott Bronstein and Abbie Boudreau (CNN) provides this background:

CNN first reported the death of Maseth, a highly decorated, 24-year-old Green Beret, last spring. His January 2, 2008, death was just one of many fatalities now believed to be linked to shoddy electrical work at U.S. bases managed by U.S. contractors, according to Pentagon sources.
The Pentagon's Defense Contract Management Agency last year gave KBR a "Level III Corrective Action Request" -- issued only when a contractor is found in "serious non-compliance" and just one step below the possibility of suspending or terminating a contract, Pentagon officials said.
In KBR's case, it means the contractor's inspections and efforts to ensure electrical safety for troops have been unacceptable and must be significantly improved, Pentagon sources told CNN.
The CID investigator's e-mail says work orders to address problems resulted in "fixes [that] were only temporary and not done to ensure no future problems would arise."

Meanwhile Al Jazeera reports 8 family members were killed in a home invasion late last night (11:30 p.m.) outside Balad Ruz while two more people (presumably also family members) were kidnapped during the home invasion: "The family members, who are all Sunni Muslim Arabs, were targeted in the predominantly Shia Muslim village a week before provincial elections." Citing an unnamed police official, Pakistan's GEOtv states 9 family members were killed in the home invasion.

IRIN's "IRAQ: Returning IDPs lack decent public services -- NGOs" notes the continued plight of the internal refugees:

In its latest needs assessment for IDPs, the International Organization for Migration (IOM) said many lacked shelter, access to health services, water and decent standards of sanitation.
"Many returnees are coming back to find destroyed homes and infrastructure in disrepair. Buildings, pipe and electrical networks, and basic public services such as health care centres are all in need of rehabilitation to meet the needs of returning IDP and refugee families," said the 16 January report.
The IOM estimates there are 2.8 million IDPs (1.6 million of whom have been displaced since an upsurge of violence in February 2006). A further 2.4 million Iraqis are refugees, mainly in neighbouring countries.

On external refugees, Alsumaria reports that King Abdulla II of Jordan has "ordered to take prompt and immediate measures to facilitate the entrance of Iraqis into the country" earning praise from Nouri al-Maliki's spokesperson Ali Al Dabbagh. Contrast that with IRIN's report on Syria which opens, "The start of 2009 offers little hope to the residents of Al Tanf, a refugee camp on the Syrian-Iraqi border housing over 700 Palestinians who had fled persecution in Iraq. No country has given any concrete pledge to take any of the refugees for resettlement in 2009, leaving them to battle the cold desert weather this winter with more despair than ever."
The refugees say that despite visits from foreign delegations, resettlements have been few and far between since the camp opened in May 2006."

Meanwhile Hurriyet reports, "The northern Iraqi city of Arbil will be the center of a trilateral committee formed to struggle with terrorism in a step that could be seen as an important policy shift for Turkey." The "trilateral" is Iraq, Turkey and . . . the US. That US allegedly prepping to leave.

A friend asks that we note this photo gallery of artwork by Iraqi students depicting human rights in Iraq.

Malcolm MacPherson passed away Saturday. From Adam Bernstein's obituary in today's Washington Post:

Mr. MacPherson, a former Marine Corps reservist, spent a decade at Newsweek as a domestic and foreign correspondent before leaving the magazine in 1978 to dedicate himself to writing books.
A freelance assignment for Time magazine in 2003 covering the U.S. occupation and reconstruction of Baghdad after the invasion of Iraq informed his comic novel "Hocus Potus" (2007). POTUS is an acronym for President of the United States.
Mr. MacPherson told the Boston Globe that the book came easily after he witnessed so much ineptness among the Americans in Iraq -- including the jailing of an aged soccer hero on terrorist charges -- and "thought I would answer farce with farce, fiction with fiction."
Freelance journalist Anna Mundow, writing in the Globe, called the book "an irresistible portrait of greed and incompetence run amok."

Public broadcasting notes. PBS' Bill Moyers Journal receives no link but Ava and I may catch it just to call out LIAR Melissa Harris Lacewell who should NEVER be allowed on PBS after LYING to viewers on Charlie Rose's program by refusing to disclose that she was campaigning for Barack Obama. She's on there with Professor Patti who "looks like a loon [and LIEFACE] looks very masculine," according to a PBS friend who's seen a bit of it. The laugh factor involved in that may make it worth watching for some. I will not, however, provide a link to anyone who brings on guests WHO VIOLATE PBS' written ethics guideline. That begins stinking up the airwaves tonight on most PBS stations -- check local listings for air date and time. NOW on PBS actually offers a program (as opposed to gas baggery). This week, they examine the economic meltdown's effect on older Americans:

The economic crisis is affecting people in all income and social brackets, but America's baby boomers and seniors don't have the option to wait it out.
The housing meltdown, market crash, and rising costs of everything from food to medicine have taken the luster out of seniors' "golden years" or worse, put them into deep debt. In fact, Americans over 50 account for about a quarter of all delinquent mortgages.
Some baby boomers and seniors are reluctantly exiting retirement to look for jobs, while others are falling prey to predatory lending companies.
This week NOW travels to South Carolina, a state where many retirees and winter refugees are being forced to rewrite the last chapter in their lives, to see how they are coping and what options are left.

Washington Week also begins airing tonight on many PBS stations and Gwen chats with Dan Balz (Washington Post), Martha Raddatz (ABC News) and Pete Williams (NBC News) while Karen Tumulty (Time magazine) Bette Davis impersonation this go round is the later stages of the party scene in All About Eve, watch as she decrees that the week's ceremonies were 'historical' and 'fantastic' but "it's going to be a bumpy night."

Public radio notes for Sunday, Monday and Wednesday, all air on WBAI:

Sunday, January 25, 11am-noon


Post-Warholian radio artists Andrew Andrew hold the fort.

Monday, January 26, 2-3pm


Playwright William M, Hoffman and actor David Greenspan on the
premiere of "Cornbury: The Queen's Governor," Hoffman's satirical
collaboration with the late Anthony Holland about a cross-dressing New
York governor
; Artistic Director Scott Morfee on "Fortnight," a
festival of new and improvised works at The Barrow Street Theatre; and
producer Scott Griffin on the landlord-tenant crisis at The Chelsea,
"the hotel where Dylan Thomas drank and Arthur Miller wrote and. . ."
Hosted by Janet Coleman and David Dozer.

Wednesday, January 28, 2-3pm


Gloves-off satire to greet the new bunch with Janet Coleman, David
Dozer, John McDonagh, Moogy Klingman, Scooter, Otis Maclay, Paul
, Jon Swift, The Capitol Steps, Red State Update and the great
Will Durst.

Broadcasting at WBAI/NY 99.5 FM
Streaming live at WBAI
Archived at Cat Radio Cafe

If CCCP is not also archived at Cat Radio Cafe, it should be at WBAI (for 90 days) and at CCCP.

And on broadcast TV (CBS) Sunday, no 60 Minutes:

"The Winter Of Our Hardship"
Scott Pelley reports on Wilmington, Ohio, whose residents have been hit particularly hard in this economic crisis because the town’s largest employer, DHL, is shutting its domestic operation. | Watch Video
No Peace Deal
Bob Simon reports from Israel and the West Bank where a growing number of Israelis and Palestinians say that a two-state solution is no longer possible.
Wine Rx
Scientists have found a substance called resveratrol in red wine that slows down the aging process in mice. Will it someday lengthen the lives of humans, too? Morley Safer reports.
60 Minutes, this Sunday, Jan. 25, 2009, at 7 p.m. ET/PT.

And we'll note John Pilger's "Come on Down For Your Freedom Medals" (Dissident Voice):

On 13 January, George W. Bush presented "presidential freedom medals," said to be America's highest recognition of devotion to freedom and peace. Among the recipients were Tony Blair, the epic liar who, with Bush, bears responsibility for the physical, social and cultural destruction of an entire nation; John Howard, the former prime minister of Australia and minor American vassal who led the most openly racist government in his country’s modern era; and Alvaro Uribe, the president of Colombia, whose government, according the latest study of that murderous state, is "responsible for than 90 per cent of all cases of torture".
As satire was made redundant when Henry Kissinger and Rupert Murdoch were honored for their contributions to the betterment of humanity, Bush's ceremony was, at least, telling of a system of which he and his freshly-minted successor are products. Although more spectacular in its choreographed histrionics, Barack Obama's inauguration carried the same Orwellian message of inverted truth: of ruthlessness of criminal power, if not unending war. The continuity between the two administrations has been as seamless as the transfer of the odious Bono's allegiance, symbolized by President Obama's oath-taking on the steps of Congress -- where, only days earlier, the House of Representatives, dominated by the new president's party, the Democrats, voted 390-5 to back Israel's massacres in Gaza. The supply of American weapons used in the massacres was authorized previously by such a margin. These included the Hellfire missile which sucks the air out of lungs, ruptures livers and amputates arms and legs without the necessity of shrapnel: a "major advance," according to the specialist literature. As a senator, then president-elect, Obama raised no objection to these state-of-the-art [sic] weapons being rushed to Israel -- worth $22 billion in 2008 -- in time for the long-planned assault on Gaza’s fenced and helpless population. This is understandable; it how the system works. On no other issue does Congress and the president, Republicans or Democrats, conservatives or liberals, give such absolute support. By comparison, the German Reichstag in the 1930s was a treasure of democratic and principled debate.

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