Friday, May 08, 2009

Iraq war continues and troops continue shipping out

In today's New York Times, they offer not a single word on Abeer. Steven Lee Myers offers "Iraqi Forces: Rebuilt and Stronger, but Still Stumbling" and the article begins on the front page. The paper doesn't appear to grasp it, but this is the key section of the report:

"When I was here last time we didn't have Iraqi security forces," said Maj. Brian K. Wortinger, who served here in 2005 and 2006 and has returned to train the First Brigade of the National Police's First Division in southeastern Baghdad. "The National Police were Shiite death squads. We were pulling a dozen bodies a day out of the sewage treatment plant."

In 2009, you can get a little truth on 2005 and 2006 from the New York Times. Now they were busy with other things in 2006 and we'll go into an example of that in today's snapshot later today. But while the Los Angeles Times was reporting the above in real time, the Times of New York really wasn't. Maybe they were still high on the ink stained fingers? Maybe they were awash in the latest wave of Operation Happy Talking. They weren't reporting.

They were offering propaganda. They were being the mouthpieces of others. They were flat out lying to readers in print.

And when people want to whine "Judith Miller!" Uh, Miller's long gone by then. Judith Miller's the lightening rod and the paper had a lot more problems than Judith Miller. (Judith Miller, for example, did not kill the story on the illegal spying of American citizens before the 2004 election. She's not the reason the paper sat on the story until after the election.)

Myers' report? I can rip apart very easily but I'll be kind because I'm not gunning for him today. I'm gunning for two big liars and we'll address them in the snapshot.

Ann Scott Tyson offers "Pentagon Budget Devotes More To Afghanistan War Than to Iraq" (Washington Post) which explains that Afghanistan war funding request is $4 billion more than Iraq ($65 billion to $61 billion). This as another battalion of Marines ship off for six-months of training before being deployed to Iraq. Howard Greninger (Terre Haute Tribune-Star) reports, "About 30 motorcycles, many driven by military veterans, escorted four buses Thursday containing more than 150 members of Company K, 3rd Battalion, 24th Marines to Terre Haute International Airport-Hulman Field." Terre Haute's WTHITV has the story here with text and video. In addition to those marines, Fort Dix is sending 170 US soldiers to Iraq. The Reading Eagle reports, "Members plan a yellow-ribbon ceremony for families at Fort Indiantown Gap, Lebanon County, on May 16. Another ceremony is planned at Fort Dix in July, Gilmer said." Meanwhile Colorado just sent troops to Iraq. The Denver Post notes, "More than 100 Colorado Air National Guard support troops bound for Iraq, many of them for at least their fourth tour in six years, flew out of Buckley Air Force Base on Wednesday." And Ashley Bergen (Mountain View Telegraph) reports that the "Headquarters and Headquarters Company, a unit subordinate to the 1st Battalion of the New Mexico National Guard's 200th Infantry, will soon deploy for more than a year to serve in Operation Iraqi Freedom." We're not done. Matthew Hansen (Omaha World-Herald) reported yesterday that the 313th Medical Company of Nebraska's National Guard is re-deploying to Iraq and notes that on the earlier deployment, "Sgt Tricia Jameson of Omaha, died July 14, 2005, when a roadside bomb struck her Humvee as it raced to another roadside attack. Jaemson was the second female soldier from Nebraska to die in Iraq. She was the only member of the 313th Medical Company killed durign the company's first deployment." Still not done. Frenchi Jones (Coastal Courier) reports Charlie Troop, 1st Battalion, 82nd Cavalry, 41st Infantry Brigade deploys to Iraq in July. Done? No. Didi Tang (Springfield News-Leader) reports 150 "Marines from the Weapons Company, 3rd Battallion, 24th Marines" will deploy to Iraq after training in California:

On Wednesday morning, loved ones bid farewell to the soldiers, sharing tears, at the U.S. Military Reserve Center at 1110 N. Fremont Ave.
"The last five minutes were tough," [Maj Shannon] Johnson said.
Missouri Highway Patrol troopers then escorted the military buses down Chestnut Expressway, up Kansas Expressway and west on Kearney Street toward the Springfield Branson National Airport.
Many family members followed the caravan, hoping to catch one more glimpse of their child or spouse.
The traffic was slow, but most motorists were patient.
When the buses passed Williams Elementary on West Kearney Street, schoolchildren were out, waving red and blue behind a school fence.

For a war Barack's allegedly ended/ending (depending on whom you speak to), a lot of troops are still going to Iraq.

A visitor e-mails the public account asking that we note The Economist's "Hope for the best when they go free:"

WITH too little evidence to hold them for longer with a view to prosecution, thousands of detainees in American custody in Iraq are being freed, just when fears are rising that the country’s smouldering insurgency could reignite. In the past few weeks, a rash of suicide bombs have killed several hundred Iraqis, making April the bloodiest month this year and reminding everyone that, despite a dramatic improvement in security, Iraq is still a dangerous place. One fear is that the newly freed men could return to battle. Several Iraqi intelligence officers have said that many have already done so--and are responsible for the recent spike in violence.
[. . .]
It is hard to tell how many former detainees are being rearrested and imprisoned again by Iraq's own security forces. Quite a few are known to have been sent recently to Camp Cropper. The 2,000 most dangerous men in American detention, such as suspected senior members of al-Qaeda's Iraqi branch and of the militia known as the Mahdi Army that is loyal to a radical cleric, Muqtada al-Sadr, will be held longest. Each of these detainees is supposed to appear before a judge within a year, giving both the American and Iraqi authorities time to build cases that may secure convictions and terms in prison.

Yesterday Doctors Without Borders examined the medical care in Basra via an interview with Doctors Without Borders (Medecins Sans Frontieres) Field Coordinator just back from Basra, Khalil Sayyad:

What brought MSF to Basra in 2008?

In March 2008, when Iraqi government forces launched a military operation against armed militia in Basra, we provided supplies to the Basra general hospital in Nasiriyah. In the months following this battle, the security situation gradually improved. As a result, we were able to do some assessments in the area and consider starting a project with both expatriate and Iraqi staff. For the population, seeing foreigners return to Basra was a sign of stability and improved security. It also brought some hope that severe medical cases that had no treatment could receive attention, as we were training medical staff and providing updates on latest medical developments, techniques, and equipment.

What were your assessment findings?

Our assessment was focused on the hospital because although the security situation had improved, it was still volatile. We found doctors and surgeons who were very qualified and experienced, but in urgent need of medical updates. Also, during the conflicts in the last decades they would receive several patients into the operating theater at the same time. Basic standards would be forgotten so they could cope with the emergency. But this emergency mode had become a standard way of working. Therefore, we found Operating Theaters (OT) that were far from meeting minimum requirements. For example, they didn’t have a recovery room, patients were not monitored, material used was not properly sterilized, hygiene procedures were not there. All this increased risks of post-operative infections. Another great deficiency was in the anesthesia. There is a big focus on surgery, but anesthesia and bedside care, for example, were not given enough importance. And finally, they had a lot of equipment that had been donated in previous years, but which they were unable to install, use, maintain, or repair.

What kind of work did MSF decide to do?

We identified huge gaps and needs in the emergency department and considered the possibility to work there. But staff in the hospital thought – and we agreed – that it was too early to start these activities. We were just coming back to the country and security was still an issue in Basra. We decided to work on improving the services in the General Surgery OT and ensuring patients had adequate care before, during, and after operations. We believed we could have a real impact there and at the same time work in a relatively safe environment. Also, for us it was an opportunity to be present and restart activities while the objective remained to start working in emergency when the circumstances allowed.

TV notes. NOW on PBS begins airing tonight on most PBS stations:

This week, NOW's David Brancaccio sits down with one of the most prominent figures in world health to discuss the future of the swine flu pandemic. Dr. Larry Brilliant is an epidemiologist, former chief philanthropist at, and was a central figure in the World Health Organization's successful small pox eradication program.
Brilliant sheds light on high-tech tools that are making it easier for scientists to detect global outbreaks, the critical importance of early detection and early response, and how the current pandemic has yet to show its real hand.
"Anyone who tells you that they know that this is a mild pandemic, and the WHO has overreacted, they don't know. Anyone who tells you that the WHO and CDC [Center for Disease Control and Prevention] have underestimated it, they don't know," Brilliant tells NOW. "We're all going to find out at the same time...we're all in it together."
The show also features vital insight from Dr. Nathan Wolfe, a Stanford University epidemiologist who specializes in hunting viruses to their source.

Lethal and deadly to female reporters, Washington Week and Gwen line up three suiters this week and toss in a woman for 'contrast.' Doyle McManus (Los Angeles Times), Charles Babington (AP) and online gossip Eamon Javers (Hedda Hopper Lives!) are joined by token 'chic' Joan Biskupic (USA Today) in PBS continued war on women and Gwen's determination to be "the prettiest girl at the table! I am! I am! Miss Beasley hair and all, I am!" The vanity and sexism begins airing tonight on most PBS stations. Also on PBS (and starts airing tonight on many PBS stations, check local listings), Bonnie Erbe sits down with Ann Lewis, Linda Chavez, Patricia Sosa and Karen Czarnecki to discuss this week's news on To The Contrary. And turning to broadcast TV, Sunday CBS' 60 Minutes offers:

America's New Air Force
Increasingly, the U.S. military is relying on un-manned, often armed aircraft to track and destroy the enemy – sometimes controlled from bases thousands of miles away from the battlefront. Lara Logan reports. | Watch Video
The Perfect Spy
Steve Kroft examines one of the most mysterious cases in the annals of modern espionage: the curious life and death of Ashraf Marwan, an Egyptian billionaire claimed by both Israelis and Egyptians to be their greatest spy. | Watch Video
All In The Family
Bill James doesn’t run, hit or catch a baseball but his intense statistical analysis of the game and its players have made him an essential ingredient in a formula that brought two world championships to the Boston Red Sox. Morley Safer reports. | Watch Video
60 Minutes, Sunday, May 10, at 7 p.m. ET/PT.

At NPR today, Diane Rehm conducts her own war on women. Because a gal loves her gossip, she has Eamon Javers on the first hour as well as Greg Ip (The Economist) and Sheryl Gay Stolber (New York Times) and, for the second hour, Diane offers the audio equivalent of a gang-bang as she welcomes Fareed Zakaria (Newsweek), Moises Naim (Foreign Policy) and James Kitfield (National Journal). Six guests and only one's a woman. One women to five men. No that doesn't reflect diversity, nor does it reflect the population breakdown in the US. It does reflect INSTITUTIONAL SEXISM and doesn't scream to ombuds that actually do their damn job.

NPR continues their live Friday concerts and today is Fastball:

Live Friday: Fastball In Concert

Listen Online At Noon ET

Fastball 300
courtesy of the artist


WXPN, May 7, 2009 - Though it started out as a modest, fun-loving Austin garage-pop band, Fastball made an unlikely whirlwind foray into '90s rock stardom, thanks to its 1998 album All the Pain Money Can Buy and its smash single, "The Way." A decade and several albums later, the band recently returned with Little White Lies. Return to this space at noon ET Friday to hear Fastball perform live in concert from WXPN and World Cafe Live in Philadelphia.

After its platinum-selling breakthrough -- which spawned world tours, TV appearances and two Grammy nominations -- Fastball has continued to work steadily while recording, performing and honing its infectious pop-rock sound. Little White Lies demonstrates the band's evolution, while retaining the radio-ready timelessness that's long been Fastball's trademark.

Fastball today and note that NPR's doing these live concerts every Friday.

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