Friday, September 11, 2009

Iraq's Air Force, Museum and prison riot

It's clear that Iraqi air defense forces will not be ready to handle the mission by 2011. Currently, the Iraqi Air Force is a creature of turbo-prop planes and helicopters. A squadron of high performance aircraft flown by Iraqi crack pilots is an expensive goal that might sortie over Baghdad by 2016 at best, though the Iraqi Ministry of Defense quietly estimates that 2018, or 2020, is more probable.
Waging a complex counterinsurgency war is Iraq's first priority, so it's understandable that the country has made the decision to proceed slowly with the creation and funding of front-line air defense forces. But integrating sophisticated technology and skilled personnel into air force and air defense formations requires a long lead time. Thus the Iraqi government must make several immediate decisions regarding air space defense.

The above is from Omar Fadhil al-Nidawi and Austin Bay's "Iraq Needs a Real Air Force" (Wall St. Journal) and, no, the "country" did not make counter-insurgency its first priority, the puppet government of Nouri al-Maliki made that decision and it's damn insulting to refer to this installed government of exiles as "the country" -- damn insulting.

Second of all, first sentence states, "The U.S.-Iraq Status of Forces Agreement says American combat units will depart by December 2011." No, it doesn't say that and that was exactly the point we were making about Robert Gates, US Secretary of Defense, being interviewed on Al Jazeera where people can hear that as opposed to US outlets which repeatedly LIE that the SOFA says that.

It's a LIE at this point. When we were doing the slow walk through on the SOFA back in November, okay, some people don't know contracts, fine. It's nearly a year later and the legal analysis here not only stands up it's the same analysis that the current White House has, that Gates and the Pentagon operate under. So isn't about damn time reporters for US outlets started getting it right?

A contract can be renewed. It can be replaced with a new contract. Those are basics and if the general studies majors that the J-school programs have churned out can't grasp that then the J-schools are nothing but a diploma mill and we need to return to a time when a journalism degree is viewed with raised eyebrows. ("General studies major," before a drive-by e-mail comes in, refers to undergraduates who do not declare a major, they declare a major in "general studies" which means everyone else went for Thai but they needed a buffet because they couldn't make up their minds.)

Jane Arraf (Christian Science Montior) reports that Black Wednesday (the August 19th bombings targeting the Foreign Ministry and Finance Ministry primarily) also did damage to the Iraq Museum:

"Showcases, windows, even the office of the director of excavations was damaged," says museum director Amira Eidan, interviewed on the sidelines of a Tourism Ministry conference on antiquities.
She says it could be several years before the renowned institution can be opened to the public.
"Is it the time to reopen the museum and show these treasures?" she asks. "After improving the security situation, then we can think about reopening."

You may be thinking, "Reopen? I thought the museum opened in Februrary." They certainly did try to spin it that way but, check Feb. 23rd snapshot, it wasn't an opening, it was a ceremony for Nouri, dignitaries and, most of all, reporters. Back then, the Los Angeles Times' Babylon & Beyond blog was one of the few to offer reality, "As for when the rest of Iraq will be able to see the museum, that's unclear. Iraqi guards Monday afternoon told journalists it would be a couple of months." And it never opened.

Meanwhile Fadhel al-Badrani, Suadad al-Salhy, Missy Ryan and Philippa Fletcher (Reuters) report that a riot has broken out at Abu Ghraib prison and someone has started a fire. In other violence, Reuters notes 1 person was shot dead in Hawija, 1 person wounded in a Kirkuk shooting, two people dead in Riyadh bombing and, dropping back to yesterday, six people injured in a Kirkuk shooting.

Today, Mark Corcoran (Australia's ABC) remembers the murder of Paul Moran:

I've learned to dread late night phone calls -- and this one was the worst. It was March 2003, during the opening phase of the Iraq war. Just after midnight I took the call from an anguished Michael Ware -- an Australian journalist and close colleague of mine, then working for Time Magazine.
Coming down the satellite phone line was a mix of static, screaming and sirens. Amid the cacophony, Michael managed to spell out that he was at a roadblock in Kurdish northern Iraq that had just been hit by a suicide bomber in a taxi. He was on the scene giving assistance to ABC journalist Eric Campbell, dazed and bloodied after being hit by shrapnel, but alive. However there was the body of another westerner among the victims -- possibly an Australian - who was he?
The tragic details soon became clear. He was 39-year-old Paul Moran, a freelance cameraman originally from Adelaide. He had teamed up with Eric Campbell on the Iraq assignment for ABC News. Paul left behind a young widow Ivana and a seven-week-old daughter Tara.
The suicide attack had been carried out by a Saudi Arabian member of Ansar al Islam, an extremist group fighting for the creation of a radical Islamic state in the northern Kurdish region of Iraq. The bomber died but his commander is alive and well and living in Norway, his home in exile since being granted asylum in the early 90s.

SourceWatch notes of Paul Moran:

Paul William Moran (born May 30, 1963) was a freelance television camerman. On March 22, 2003, while on contract with the Australian Broadcasting Corporation, Moran was killed by a suicide bomber in northern Iraq.
After his death, the Adelaide Advertiser reported that Moran also worked for the Rendon Group, a secretive public relations firm that works with the Pentagon. Now additional information has come to light showing that Moran played an important role with the Iraqi National Congress (INC), a PR front created by Rendon, in feeding stories to the press about Iraq's alleged weapons programs from Iraqi defector Adnan Ihsan Saeed al Haideri.
"The man who helped orchestrate publicity for al-Haideri was Zaab Sethna, media spokesman for the INC," reports John Hosking. "Sethna spent more than a decade working in and around Iraq. Much of it with his Australian mate Paul Moran. After the INC helped al Haideri escape from Iraq, it was Paul Moran who was called in to do the one television interview that would go around the world."
In October 2003 the Australian Broadcasting Corporation aired a tribute to Moran. "It's true that he was unwittingly involved in, I guess what could be called a propaganda operation in the early 90's, but people must remember he didn't know that," says Zaab Sethna, Moran's colleague at the Iraqi National Congress. [1]

Tuesday, October 27th, Carly Simon's latest album, Never Been Gone, is released:

Free MP3 from new CD


Carly's new CD, Never Been Gone, will be released on October 27th. The CD features reworked versions of 10 of her greatest hits - as well as two new songs.

You can download the new version of Let The River Run now.

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Carly to perform at 9/11 Ceremony

Carly will be performing her inspiring anthem, Let The River Run, this Friday at the 9/11 ceremony being held at Ground Zero. Joining her will be her son and daughter (Ben & Sally Taylor) along with musician Peter Calo.

While all of the national TV networks will be airing portions of the ceremony, we don't have any information on which exact networks will be covering the event at the time of Carly's performance.

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

In rural Rwanda, the simple and time-tested idea of medical house calls is not only improving the health of the community, but stimulating its economy as well.
This week, NOW travels to the village of Rwinkwavu to meet the Rwandan doctors, nurses and villagers who are teaming up with Boston-based Partners in Health and the Rwandan government to deliver medicine and medical counseling door-to-door. Would such an innovation work in America?
In the capital of Kigali, NOW's David Brancaccio sits down with Rwandan President Paul Kagame to talk about international aid and Kagame's ultimate vision for a healthy, financially-independent Rwanda.

Washington Week also begins airing tonight on many PBS stations and sitting around the table with Gwen tonight are Charlie Babington (AP), Peter Baker (New York Times), Joan Biskupic (USA Today) and Doyle McManus (Los Angeles Times). Remember that there is a web bonus each week that you can grab on podcast (video -- they also have audio podcast but it doesn't include the bonus) or wait for Monday morning when the bonus is available at the website. Also, a PBS friend asks that I note that they didn't just redesign their website at Washington Week, they added many new elements. One sidebar is on the right and it contains links to the latest writing by Washington Week regulars such as CBS and Slate's John Dickerson's article on health care at Slate. Meanwhile Bonnie Erbe will sit down with four women to discuss the week's events on PBS' To The Contrary. Check local listings, on many stations, it begins airing tonight. Online, they address the announcement that Diane Sawyer will begin anchoring ABC's World News Tonight next year. And turning to broadcast TV, Sunday CBS' 60 Minutes offers:

President Obama
Steve Kroft interviews the president at an important time in his presidency.

Big Teddy
His son, Ted Kennedy, Jr., and the editor/publisher he collaborated closely with on his memoir, Jonathan Karp, reflect on the life and legacy of the late Sen. Ted Kennedy. Lesley Stahl reports.

Guiding Light
Morley Safer interviews the actors and writers behind broadcasting's longest running drama, "Guiding Light," as they celebrate the soap opera's incredible run and discuss its cancellation after 72 years.

60 Minutes Sunday, Sept. 13, at 7 p.m. ET/PT.

Turning to public radio, this morning on NPR's The Diane Rehm Show, Steve Roberts fills in for Diane and for the first hour (domestic) the panel is made up of Jackie Calmes (New York Times), E.J. Dionne (Washington Post) and Byron York (Washington Examiner) while the second hour (international) panel is composed of Karen DeYoung (Washington Post), Abderrahim Foukara (Al Jazeera) and Susan Glasser (Foreign Policy). The Diane Rehm Show begins airing on most NPR stations at 10:00 a.m. EST and it also begins streaming live at that time as well.

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