Wednesday, April 22, 2009

'When I went to the door, I knew . . .'

Friday the US military announced: "AL ANBAR PROVINCE, Iraq - A Multi National Force -West Marine died as the result of a non-combat related incident here April 16. The Marine's name is being withheld pending next-of-kin notification and release by the Department of Defense. The incident is under investigation." Yesterday the Department of Defense identifed the fallen: "The Department of Defense announced today the death of a Marine who was supporting Operation Iraqi Freedom. Lance Cpl. Ray A. Spencer II, 20, of Ridgecrest, Calif., died April 16 as a result of a non-hostile incident in Anbar province, Iraq. He was assigned to 3rd Battalion, 3rd Marine Regiment, 3rd Marine Division, Kaneohe Bay, Hawaii. The incident is currently under investigation." The Honolulu Star-Bulletin explains that he had previously served in Iraq for seven months beginning in August of 2007 and that Ray Spencer II's "awards include the National Defense Service Medal, Iraq Campaign Medal, Global War on Terrorism Service Medal, and Sea Service Deployment Ribbon, according to the Marines." KITV News adds that Spencer's second tour of duty in Iraq began "this month."

Betsy Lambert, Bakersfield's Eyewitness News (link has text and video) explains
Ray Spencer II attended Burrough High School ("2006 graduate") and the school "will be holding a memorial for Spencer on Thursday at the school during the lunch hour." Gregg K. Kakesako (Honolulu Star-Bulletin) notes, "Spencer was the fifth serviceman with Hawaii ties to have died in a 'non-combat-related incident' this year. The Pentagon generally does not release details of these types of incidents." He also notes that Ray Spencer II's body is set to return to the US Sunday night (at Dover Air Force Base). Steven Mayer's "Family, friends remember Marine killed in Iraq" (Bakersfield Californian) quotes widow Athena Spencer stating "When I went to the door, I knew" and that the military "told us probably as much as they've told you. It was on base, so it wasn't combat." Mayer adds:

Through her tears and confusion, she first thought it was some kind of terrible joke.
"Anthony," as she called her husband, had dreamed of joining the Marines since he was a little boy.
Not long before his death, he sent his wife a bouquet of white lilies for Easter.

Meanwhile Julianne Pepitone and Ben Rooney (CNN) report oil has fallen from $48 per barrel to $45.88. This as Alsumaria explains Iraq "hopes to expand [its navy] by a third within two years to number 2,500 and expand its small fleet in the process. near the southern city of Basra" in order to protect their oil ports. Iraq's neighbor Iran wants the price of oil per barrel to double. Press TV reports:

Iran supports a price of $80 a barrel for crude saying that Tehran fails to develop oil fields if the oil price does not rise to that level.
"Our aim is to increase crude oil price from the current $40-$50 per barrel to $80 a barrel," Gholam Hossein Nozari told Al-Alam Arabic language satellite TV on Tuesday, adding that the country cannot continue its oil projects if the price of oil does not reach that level.

Meanwhile there may be (may not) some sort of resolution on the oil-rich city of Kirkuk shortly. The Kurdistan Regional Government believes Kirkuk belongs to their region and the centeral government in Baghdad claims it does not. For months, the UN, led by Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon's Special Representative for Iraq Staffan de Mistura, has been attempting to broker potential resolutions and will release their report today. Reuters provides background on Kirkuk here and notes that the Iraqi government has been handed the report. Presumably the Kurdistan Regional Government received the report at the same time.

Meanwhile Iraq is not Bangladesh. As noted here many times, most recently in the April 15th snapshot, it's not Bangladesh. It's not struggling economically, it's not a deprived area. (The people are deprived but that's due puppet Nouri sitting on a stockpile of money. As the world saw in the lead up to the provincial elections, he can dole out a little bit when he needs to.) The people of Bangladesh grasp that as well which is why some of them want to work in Iraq despite all the hazards. This morning's New York Times features Timothy Williams and Tareq Maher's "Foreigners Filling Jobs That Iraqis Often Shun" which details the way Iraqi businesses take advantage of foreign workers (that's my take on it, the reporters do not offer a point of view). For example, Iraqi Hussein Qaduir owns a restaurant in Baghdad and his five workers from Bangladesh (forty of his workers are Iraqis) work six days a week for fifteen hours each day and get a whopping $300. Remember the $300, we're coming back to that. His Iraqi workers are paid "more than double that" and he defensively argues, "I pay for their hotel, for their barber, for their medical treatment. Everything comes directly from me." Well aren't you the all might Allah, Hussein. Of course Iraqi employment (the reporters go with 40% as the high) such as it is, the issue of importing workers is a touchy one. And the $300? Not made clear in the article is that these foreign workers shipped into Iraq are not taking that amount and putting it into their own pockets. They are brought in by 'employment agents' which, like any pimp, demands a cut.
The story runs in today's paper and comes as Mohammed Abbas (Reuters) reports that the US military is hoping that the recently released prisoners (released by the US military) will leave their vocational rehab programs and find employment in Iraq.

Leona Liu (WIBW link has text and video) reports that 30 soldiers from Fort Riley had a deployment ceremony yesterday (they're going to Iraq). Liu states they are the first soldiers with the 84th battalion to be deployed to Iraq. Robert Hattabaugh recently returned from serving in Iraq. Erin Guerra (Gary Post Tribune)reports he "is accused of threatening to kill and chop us his wife. Police found an arsenal while searching the couple's Morgan Township home."

We'll close with the opening independent journalist Dahr Jamail's latest, "Attacks Commence" (ZNet):

Everyone knows the analogy of the beehive. When it is goaded, countless bees emerge, attacking the tormentor. Right now in Iraq, the formerly US-backed al-Sahwa (Sons of Iraq) Sunni militia, ripe with broken promises from both the occupiers of their country and the Iraqi government that they would be given respect and jobs, have gone into attack mode.
It is an easily predictable outcome. An occupying power (the US) sets up a 100,000-strong militia composed of former resistance fighters and even some members of al-Qaeda, pays them each $300 per month to not attack occupation forces, and attacks decrease dramatically. Then, stop paying most of them and tell them they will be incorporated into Iraqi government security forces. Proceed to leave them high and dry as the government of Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki begins targeting them - assassinating leaders, detaining fighters and threatening their families. Allow this plan to continue for over six months, unabated.
Not surprisingly, the Sahwa are fighting back against US forces and those of the Iraqi government.

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