Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Burials, memorials and deployments

Early Monday morning, men dressed in Iraqi Army uniforms killed at least 13 people, including a local cleric. The victims were rousted from their homes in a village west of Baghdad. A doctor at Abu Ghraib Hospital, where the bodies were brought, said they all had gunshot wounds in the head.
On Monday night, a series of bombs in Falluja struck the house of a police officer and an Iraqi Army patrol, wounding at least seven people.
In recent weeks the targets of suicide bombers in Anbar have included a restaurant popular among the police in Falluja, where 16 people were killed; a police officer's funeral in Haditha, where 6 were killed; a water tanker in Ramadi that exploded, killing 7 police officers escorting the vehicle; and a national reconciliation meeting in Ramadi, where 26 were killed.

That's from Marc Santora's "Attacks Threaten Gains in Anbar, Cradle of Iraq Insurgency" in today's New York Times and the article doesn't really belong in this entry (which is more domestic) but we'll include it at the top because otherwise there will not be room for it this morning. The violence in Iraq -- like the war -- has not ended.

KTVB reports that the funeral for Iraq War veteran Matthew Heffelfinger (killed two Sundays ago in a helicopter crash in Iraq) will be this "Friday at 11 a.m. at the LDS Kimberly Stake Center. The burial will follow at Sunset Memorial Park in Twin Falls." Iraq War veteran Jonathon M. Sylvestre also died serving in Iraq this month. Yesterday flags were lowered in Colorado:


Gov. Bill Ritter today ordered that both the United States flag and the Colorado state flag be lowered on all public buildings throughout Colorado on November 16, 2009, in honor of United States Army Spc. Jonathon M. Sylvestre, 21, of Colorado Springs.
Spc. Sylvestre was killed on November 2, in Kut, Iraq, in defense of Operation Iraqi Freedom. He had joined the Army in 2008, and this was his first deployment. His funeral will take place on November 16.

Jim Hamill (WNEP -- link has text and video) reports that Iraq War Veteran Sean Thomas (killed in Iraq March 27, 2007)has been honored with a gym named after him at the US Embassy in Iraq: Master Sergeant Sean Thomas Memorial Gym. Nicole J. Hoy (Sun Gazette) quotes the top US commander in Iraq, Gen Ray Odierno, stating, "I think it's important to recognize one of our great military non-commissioned officers who helped us so much in providing progress here in Iraq. We are dedicated to leaving Iraq with success and honor and dedication to all of those who gave their lives." Laura L. Hutchison (The Free Lance-Star) reports that the Riverbend High School in Fredericksburg, Virginia starts a four performance benefit production to "raise money for the Marine Cpl. Brett Lundstrom Scholarship Fund for the Performing Arts" -- something they have been doing since 2006 when Brett Lundstrom was killed while serving in Iraq (January 7, 2006). Each year, they stage a production of Cactus Flower. The Abe Burrows play was a hit on a Broadway -- with Lauren Bacall winning raves for her performance as Stephanie Dickinson and Brenda Vaccaro being Tony nominated for her performance of Toni Simmons. In the 1969 film, Ingrid Bergman would play Stephanie and Goldie Hawn would play Toni -- Goldie would go on to win the Academy Award for this performance. The play's a comedic farce in which Julian Winston, a dentist and womanizer, falls for Toni who he's lied to and told he's married so that she won't pressure him to marry her. When he proposes to her, she wants to know that the 'first Mrs. Winston' is okay with this and he's forced to produce a wife. Stephanie is his dental assistant and office manager. He presses her into posing as his wife. The performances begin Wednesday:

WHAT: Cactus Flower, a comedy by Abe Burrows WHEN: Tomorrow through Saturday, 7 p.m. WHERE; Riverbend High School COST: $5. Benefits the Cpl. Brett Lundstrom scholarship, which is given annually to a theater student

Kelli Wynn (Daytona Daily News) reports that US Air Force Reservists Staff Sgt April Murdock, accompanied by her one-year-old son Isaiah, was honored by Richard Allen School on Monday following her return from serving in Iraq Sunday. Her seven-year-old daughter Deondrea Jolly attends the school and is quoted stating, "I like that my mom is back because I was mad when she was gone. I was sad when she was gone, but now I'm happy that she's here. At first, I didn't want her to leave and then I see how happy my momma is when she comes back. I want to have fun with her now."

Meanwhile the Sheboygan Press reports that Master Sgt Shua Yang is headed back to Iraq will be returning to Iraq where he will be "the head of intelligence for a 4,600-soldier division." Also deploying are members of the Michigan National Guard. Joe Rossiter (Free Press) reports on Monday's departure and quotes the grandmother of Jessica Rock, Margaret Rock, stating, "It's tough to see her go. I'm not happy to see her or any of the other troops leave, but this is what she wanted, and she's proud for the chance to serve her country." Wood TV8 explains that they will spend approximately four weeks on Fort Bliss military base training before heading on to Iraq.

In Iraq, fraud has been rampant and Daniel Dombey (Financial Times of London) reports Public Warehousing Company -- tasked with supplying US troops with food -- has been charged with fraud by the US Department of Justice. Here's the US Justice Dept's press release on the case:

Department of Justice
Office of Public Affairs
Monday, November 16, 2009
U.S. Joins False Claims Act Lawsuit Against Kuwait-Based Companies That Supplied Food to U.S. Troops in Middle East

The United States has joined a whistleblower suit against Public Warehousing Company (PWC), The Sultan Center Food Products Company (TSC), and PWC’s chief executive officer, Tarek Abbul Aziz Sultan Al-Essa, the Justice Department announced today.

The lawsuit, which was filed in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Georgia, alleges that since 2003, defendants have violated the False Claims Act by presenting or causing others to present false claims for payment under PWC’s multi-billion contracts with the Defense Logistics Agency to supply food for U.S. service members serving in Kuwait, Iraq and Jordan. The complaint alleges that defendants knowingly overcharged the United States for locally available fresh fruits and vegetables that PWC purchased through TSC. The complaint also alleges that PWC failed to disclose and pass through rebates and discounts it obtained from its U.S.-based suppliers, as required by its contracts.

The case was initially filed under seal by Kamal Mustafa Al-Sultan, the owner of a Kuwaiti company that originally partnered with PWC to submit a proposal on the food supply contracts. The case remained under seal to permit the United States to investigate the allegations and determine whether it would join the lawsuit. Under the False Claims Act, the United States may recover three times the amount of its losses, plus civil penalties.

"We will not tolerate fraudulent practices from those tasked with providing the highest quality support to the men and women who serve in our armed forces," said Tony West, Assistant Attorney General for the Civil Division. "Those who do business with the government must act fairly and in accordance with the law. As this case illustrates, the Department of Justice will investigate and pursue allegations of fraud against contractors and subcontractors, whether they are foreign or domestic."

"The decision to join in this civil lawsuit follows a multi-year probe into abuses in Middle East subsistence prime vendor contracts," said Acting U.S. Attorney F. Gentry Shelnutt. "This Office and the Department of Justice will spare no effort in investigating those persons and companies, regardless of location, who seek to defraud the United States."

The U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Northern District of Georgia also announced today that a grand jury returned a six-count indictment against Public Warehousing Company, also known as Agility, in connection with its prime vendor contracts.

Assistant Attorney General West and Acting U.S. Attorney Shelnutt thanked the joint investigation team, which includes Special Agents with Defense Criminal Investigative Service; the Federal Bureau of Investigation; and U.S. Army Criminal Investigation Command (Army CID), auditors from the Defense Contract Audit Agency, and the Department of Defense, Office of the Inspector General, for the investigation of this defense procurement fraud matte.

Meanwhile the Oregonian's Mike Francis returns from Iraq and offers some photos.

The following community sites updated last night:

And Ruth's "It does matter," Marcia's "Stop the apologizes and excuses," Trina's "49 million Americans going hungry," Elaine's "Baha Mousa Inquiry," Ann's "The bow" and Kat's "Carly Simon, Neil Young."

The e-mail address for this site is common_ills@yahoo.com.

thomas friedman is a great man

oh boy it never ends