Saturday, July 11, 2009

11 dead, seventy-one reported wounded in Iraq

AP reports former KBR contractor in Iraq David Charles Breda Jr. is under federal indictment over an alleged sexual assault at Camp Al Asad. Braden Reddall and Anthony Boadle (Reuters) adds, "Breda, 34, appeared before a judge on Friday after his arrest by Naval Criminal Investigative Service agents on Thursday at a Houston-area barber college, the U.S. Attorney's office said. He faces a up to 10 years in prison if convicted of the charge of abusive sexual contact, it added. Richard Connelly (Houston Press) reminds, "This is not the first time the company has faced allegations of employees raping women. The claims by Jamie Leigh Jones became a national story." In other legal news, a US soldier has been sentenced for the shooting death of US soldier Sean McCune. M-NF released the following today:

A Multi-National Division - North Soldier was sentenced July 11, in the shooting death of a fellow Soldier.
Sgt. Miguel A. Vegaquinones was sentenced to three years confinement, reduction in rank to private/E-1 and a dishonorable discharge.
Vegaquinones pled guilty to involuntary manslaughter in the accidental shooting death of Pfc. Sean McCune, when Vegaquinones negligently discharged one round from his weapon on Jan. 11, in Samarra, Iraq, after completing guard duty.
Pursuant to the terms of a pre-trial agreement, Vegaquinones’ sentence was limited to 30 months confinement. The charge of making a false official statement was dismissed as part of the pre-trial agreement.
Vegaquinones is assigned to the 2nd Battalion, 35th Infantry Regiment, 3rd Brigade Combat Team, 25th Infantry Division, but was temporarily attached to the brigade's Headquarters and Headquarters Company pending the outcome of the proceedings.
U.S. Army Soldiers sentenced to confinement of more than one year automatically have their cases forwarded to the Army Court of Criminal Appeals for review.

Meanwhile violence continues in Iraq with a Mosul car bombing claiming the lives of at least 4 people and leaving another forty wounded according to BBC which adds, "Correspondents say the Mosul bomb went off in an area with a predominantly Shia population, thought to be from Iraq's Shabak community." Xinhua notes 5 dead. Mohammed al Dulaimy (McClatchy) puts the death toll at 8 and the wounded at fifty. Other violence?


Mohammed al Dulaimy (McClatchy Newspapers) reports 2 Baghdad roadside bombing -- the first apparently used to lure people to the site -- which claimed 1 life and left "11 civilians and nine policemen" wounded, a Baghdad bombing which claimed the life of Zaid Abdul Kareem ("an employee of the Iraqi ministers' cabinet") and left his wife wounded, two Baghdad bombings which damaged a church.


Reuters notes 1 police officer was shot dead at a Baaj checkpoint.

Tuesday's snapshot included this, "Sahar Issa (McClatchy Newspapers) reports two Iraqi 'servicemen and one civilian' were injured in a shooting at a Baghdad checkpoint and 1 police officer was shot dead in Mosul while his father (also a police officer) was left wounded. In both incidents, silencers were used on the guns and McClatchy was noting (in their daily violence round-ups) over the weekend how common the use of silencers was becoming." Yesterday, Mike Tharp offered "Silencers on Handguns -- a Silver Lining?" (McClatchy's Baghdad Observer):

But there may be one in a little-known but increasingly common part of the insurgent arsenal: the use of silencers on handguns.
Since July 4, the Daily Violence Report compiled by the McClatchy Baghdad bureau from police and hospitals all over the county has contained no fewer than four cases of insurgents and others killing and wounding Iraqi army and national police officers with pistols fitted with silencers. In June there were several others, including shootings at officers' homes, in northern Iraq.
This week two incidents occurred in Mosul and one in Kirkuk--both in northern Iraq--and one in Baghdad. One of the incidents in Mosul was especially gruesome. A father was killed and his son wounded at a police checkpoint by a gunman using a silencer.
With all the homemade bombs, adhesive bombs, hand-thrown bombs and other lethal weapons that've been used in recent weeks, why would the use of handguns with silencers be anything but one more downer?

Alsumaria reports, "Iraqi Parliament is due to sign three agreements with US and British Parliaments as well as the European Union aimed to enhance cooperation and exchange expertise mainly in legislating laws. Iraqi Parliament plans to sign two agreements with the European Union and the United States and seeks to conclude as well another protocol with the British House of Commons, an informed source from Iraqi Speaker’s office said." And they note that the release of the five Iranian diplomats by the US military "is not sufficient to change Iran's policy towards the United States," citing Alaeddin Boroujerdi, chair of Iran's Parliament.

Alice Fordham (Times of London) blogged Thursday about leaving Iraq:

And were they ever glorious. I didn't so much want to buy some of those carpets as marry them. It was as if some magician had spirited the colours out of a peacock's feathers and woven them into the whorls and curlicues of prayer rugs and wall hangings. There was a green one the colour of a slice of agate, and a dove grey one with a silvery geometric pattern. There were silken carpets from Isfahan which would fill a room and napkin-sized ruglets with verses of the Koran worked in wool. They were carpets to conjure with, carpets which deserved to be the subjects of stories about enchantments and genies.
I vowed one day to save up and come back for a whopping, silk number in 1,001 shades of purple, blue and gold, but for this humbler shopping trip, I was very taken by a rug which I was told came from Kurdistan. My next adventure, God willing, will take me to the separatist region in northern Iraq, and it was pleasing to have a carpet which was, I was told, a traditional Kurdish pattern. Its geometric design looked a little like Cubist versions of Paisley swirls and it was in unusually flat, bright shades of yellow, red and blue. It didn't fly me out of Baghdad, but it did come with me on the plane and, until my next trip, will remind me of my adventures in this ancient, modern, troubled and intriguing country.

And we'll close with this from Sherwood Ross' "U.S. NEEDS TO LISTEN TO ARIAS ON LATIN AMERICAN ISSUES" (Veterans' Today):

Oscar Arias, the president of Costa Rica and the man who will serve as mediator of the crisis in Honduras, writes in an OpEd piece this morning (July 10th) in the Miami Herald, “This coup demonstrates, once more, that the combination of powerful militaries and fragile democracies creates a terrible risk.”

Arias never once mentions the role of the United States in destabilizing democracy across Latin America but he doesn’t have to. Uncle Sam is the world’s Numero Uno arms dealer. What Arias does say is: “This year alone, the governments of Latin America will spend nearly $50 billion on their armies. That’s nearly double the amount spent five years ago, a ridiculous sum in a region where 200 million people live on fewer than $2 a day and where only Colombia is engaged in an armed conflict.”

The Pentagon’s Latin influence, always powerful, has been gaining steadily for years and few Americans appear either to know, or to care, what’s been going down the tubes South of the Border. In the five years ended in 2003---under both Presidents Clinton and Bush---U.S. military aid to the region more than tripled, Jim Lobe wrote on “Common Dreams.” “While the militarization of U.S. aid in Latin America actually began under former President Bill Clinton….trends established then have become more pronounced under Bush,” Lobe wrote, citing a report by the Latin America Working Group Education Fund. “Despite pervasive problems of poverty in Latin America, the United States’ focus on military rather than economic aid to the region is increasing,” he quoted Lisa Haugaard of LAWGEF as stating.

You can get the Pentagon’s slant on why Latins must be armed to the teeth from Stephen Johnson, installed two years ago by the Bush regime as Assistant Defense Secretary for the Western Hemisphere. Reuters quotes him as saying (May 21, 2007): “Right now funds for security assistance are slim and what programs we can offer are limited by complicated sanctions. That leaves a vacuum for powers like China and Russia to fill.” This statement is fairly hilarious considering that Russia can scarcely defend its borders and the sinister Chinese are keeping the U.S. economy afloat by lending us billions. (And what’s “slim?”)

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