Friday, August 28, 2009

US military announces the deaths of 2 US soldiers

Today the US military announced: "BAGHDAD – Two 13th Sustainment Command (Expeditionary) Soldiers died of wounds suffered following an improvised explosive device in eastern Baghdad Aug. 28 at approximately 2:30 a.m. The Soldiers names are being withheld pending notification of next-of-kin and release by the Department of Defense. The incident is currently under investigation." The deaths bring the total number of US service members killed in Iraq since the start of the illegal war to 4336.

Peace Mom Cindy Sheehan is on Martha's Vineyard protesting the continued illegal war and the Afghanistan War and the undeclared war on Pakistan. Mike Seccombe (Vineyard Gazette) reports:

Cindy Sheehan, the anti-war activist whose son died in Iraq, organized several actions in opposition to America's continued engagement in Iraq and Afghanistan.
At one of them, a press conference at the media center at the Oak Bluffs School, Ms. Sheehan said she was there to remind people that while the Obamas were on vacation people were still dying.
"There's no vacation from body bags," she said. "And the families of dead soldiers will never be able to truly enjoy a vacation again.
"Just because he's better than Bush doesn't sell me, because practically everybody in the world is better than Bush."

George Brennan (Cape Cod Times) adds, "Like she has since her son, Casey, was killed in Iraq in 2004, Sheehan is using the backdrop of a presidential vacation to make her pitch for peace. It's an effective way to get her anti-war protests attention, she said. 'The only change in foreign policy has been a change for the worse,' she said, wearing a pink T-shirt with a peace symbol and the words, 'Peace. Love. Vineyard'."

The White House states that due to a funeral, Barack will be leaving the island. Not the funeral that has the world's attention. That funeral hardly gets noticed in the US -- outside of those mourning the passing. BBC News (link has text and video) reports that Abdul Aziz al-Hakim's body has been taken to Baghdad and "PM Nouri Maliki and hundreds of officials met the coffin of Hakim, the leader of one of Iraq's most powerful Shia parties, at Baghdad airport. The body is to be taken to the Shia shrine city of Karbala, before being buried in Najaf on Saturday." Al Jazeera hails al-Hakim, who died Wednesday, as "the most powerful Shia politician in Iraq". A memorial service was held yesterday in Tehran and the central government in Baghdad has declared a three-day mourning period. CCTV has video of Nouri at the memorial service in Baghdad. Alsumaria provides this sketch of al-Hakim's life:

He is the son of Grand Ayatollah Mohsen Al Hakim and the youngest of his ten children who most of them were killed during the former regime.
Abdul Aziz Al Hakim co-founded the Islamic Revolution Supreme Council in Iraq and fled the country in the early eighties after his family was chased and assassinated. He lived in Iran leading the Iraqi opposition against the regime of former President Saddam Hussein.
Sayyed Abdul Aziz Al Hakim returned to Iraq on April 17 2003 following the topple of the former regime.
He gained an influential political role when he took over as head of the Supreme Council for Islamic Revolution in Iraq after his elder brother, Grand Ayatollah Muhammad Baqer Al Hakim, died in a car bombing.

The assault on the press in Iraq never ends and, lucky for Nouri, so many reporters in the US are happy to remain silent in the face of it. Oh, the New York Times will serve up that 'dirty' websites might be banned but they will avoid the proposed draft law which is an attack on journalism. Agnes Callamard (Guardian) tackles what the US ignores today:

Article 19, which today releases its analysis of the draft journalists' protection law, welcomes moves by the Iraqi government to ensure better protection and safety for journalists but this particular piece of legislation falls far short of its objective.
Article 19, which campaigns globally for freedom of expression, is concerned that this law fails significantly to meet international standards on human rights, including freedom of expression. Iraq was one of the earliest signatories to the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR), ratifying the covenant in 1971. Obviously the country's appalling human rights record under Saddam Hussein meant that the provisions of the ICCPR were flagrantly flouted. Yet, even post-Saddam, Iraq's 2005 constitution is weak with regard to freedom of expression – it leaves the concept vaguely defined and creates the possibility for the Iraqi authorities to restrict freedom of expression on grounds of "public order" and "morality".
International law sets out specific provisions for freedom of expression, which include the right to seek, receive and impart information, facts and opinions across all frontiers and through any media. By failing to provide adequately for free expression in the constitution, Iraqi legislators have failed at the first hurdle. They have failed, also, in their task to create national governing legislation to ensure a free press and protection for all those who work within the media.
When local media workers express their concerns about the draft journalists' protection law, one of the issues they point to is the extremely narrow definition of a journalist as "one who works for press … and who is affiliated with the Iraqi Journalists' Syndicate". This specifically excludes editors, commentators, bloggers, citizen journalists and freelancers who may also be in the business of providing information and comment to the public sphere.

TV notes, and all PBS programs begin airing tonight in most markets. NOW on PBS offers:

Would you pay more in taxes to fix roads and rail?
The majority of American goods are transported by trucks, even though freight trains are greener and more fuel-efficient. Where should America be placing its bets for moving our economy and what would you personally sacrifice for it?
This week, Correspondent Miles O'Brien looks at the contemporary needs, challenges, and solutions for transporting vital cargo across America, and how those decisions affect the way you live, work, and travel.
This program is part of a PBS-wide series on the country's infrastructure called "Blueprint America."

On Washington Week, Gwen sits around the table with David Broder (Washington Post), Karen Tumulty (Time magazine), David Wessel (Wall St. Journal) and Pete Williams (NBC News).
Meanwhile Bonnie Erbe and her guests Karen Czarnecki, Ann Friedman, Irene Natividad and Tara Setmayer discuss the week's news on this week's edition of PBS' To The Contrary. Check local listings, on many stations, it begins airing tonight. And turning to broadcast TV, Sunday CBS' 60 Minutes offers:

The Wasteland
Where do the millions of computer monitors, cell phones and other electronic refuse our society generates end up? Some of it is shipped illegally from the U.S. to China, reports Scott Pelley, where it is harming the environment and the people who salvage its valuable components. | Watch Video

Financial Weapons of Mass Destruction
Steve Kroft examines the complicated financial instruments known as credit default swaps and the central role they are playing in the unfolding economic crisis. | Watch Video

Forrest Bird's invention, the respirator, has saved millions of lives and, approaching his ninth decade, he's still living his life to the fullest, flying his airplanes and working 12-hour days. Morley Safer reports. | Watch Video

60 Minutes Sunday, Aug. 30, at 7 p.m. ET/PT.

This morning on NPR's The Diane Rehm Show, the panelists for the first hour will be Dante Chinni (Christian Science Monitor), Doyle McManus (Los Angeles Times) and Jerry Seib (Wall St. Journal). The first hour panel addresses domestic news. The second hour is the international
focus and the panelists are David Ignatius (Washington Post), Barbara Slavin (Washington Times) and Janine Zacharia (Bloomberg News). The Diane Rehm Show begins airing on most NPR stations at 10:00 a.m. EST and streams live online starting then as well.

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