Friday, January 15, 2010

Death toll for yesterday's Najaf bombings is 25

Abbas Elaiwi, like many in this relatively calm city about 90 miles south of Baghdad, was shocked that the explosions had occurred so close to the Imam Ali shrine, where the son-in-law of the prophet Muhammad is buried.
"How could a car loaded with explosives be allowed to park inside the old city?" he raged. "Those policemen are useless. I believe they should rethink the whole security system, otherwise we shall see more of these attacks."

The above is from Leila Fadel and Saad Sarhan's "3 explosions rock holy Shiite city in Iraq" (Washington Post) about yesterday's triple bombings in Najaf in which CNN counts 25 dead and seventy-two injured based on the figures provided by Iraq's Interior Ministry. Nada Bakri (New York Times) reports, "The bombers, driving large trucks filled with fertilizer and explosives, were able to get close to the heavily guarded ministries in part because of relaxed security that Mr. Maliki's government had ordered to cast a sense of normalcy over the city." Qassim Zein and Hannah Allam (McClatchy Newspapers) add:

"There were many people killed and many more injured, but no (official) is willing to make a statement and give the correct number," said Mohammed Hassan, a Najaf policeman who survived the bombings and saw the grisly aftermath firsthand.
Hassan said he was certain of a high death toll because he saw emergency workers at the scene piling severed limbs into a wheelbarrow, which he described as "a sight I will never forget in all my life."
"I was so terrified by the explosions and what I saw afterward that I could barely walk," Hassan said. "I saw burned shops and stuff scattered all over the streets. At first, I didn't realize it was parts of human bodies."

Meanwhile, in the US, Bruce Alpert (New Orleans Times-Picayune) reports on military suicides:

The news about suicides in the U.S. military just gets bleaker.
The Defense Department is expected to report today that the Army last year recorded a record number of suicides by active-duty troops. At the end of November, the number stood at 147.
Earlier in the week, the Veterans Affairs Department reported that the suicide rate among 17- to 29-year-old male veterans jumped 26 percent from 2005 to 2007.

The article contains a link to a column by Steven and Cokie Roberts that starts with their meeting Iraq War veteran Joe Gonzalez:

We thought of Joe when President Obama announced he would be sending 30,000 more troops to Afghanistan. That means more deployments, more deaths and more soldiers coming home with hidden wounds even their commanders don't understand very well. TBI and PTSD at least have clinical names. The "afterlife" of combat includes divorce and despair, substance abuse and spousal abuse, joblessness and homelessness -- and, in extreme cases, suicide.
Last month, the Army disclosed that 140 active-duty soldiers had taken their own lives in 2009, the same number as all of last year and a jump of 37 percent since 2006. Official figures include an additional 117 suicides in the Navy, Air Force and Marines, and the suicide rate in the armed forces is now greater than in the general population.
The military is good at training fighters but not fathers, leaders but not lovers. Soldiers are taught to face physical dangers but not emotional ones. Constant combat can leave them feeling too much pain -- or not enough -- at the same time. In a fine series on military suicide, the Star-Ledger in Newark, N.J., quoted one soldier describing his Iraq experience: "We were living as targets at all times for a solid eight months. It was definitely always intense. Eventually, we became numb to everything."

Turning to films, Roger Ebert (via the Chornicle Herald) notes this week's DVD releases which include:

THE HURT LOCKER (War drama, R, 127 m., 2009). A great film. Jeremy Renner stars as a bomb-defusing specialist who dismantles bombs under fire in Iraq. Not a phony action movie, no false alarms, but almost unbearable suspense in a story that asks: Why does he do it? Why MUST he do it? Director Kathryn Bigelow, a master of intelligent action (Strange Days, K-19: The Widowmaker), superbly creates suspense out of the traditional tools of performance, story, timing and editing. In a movie about bombs, this one doesn’t depend for its effect on blowing things up.

Hurt Locker

Ann Hornaday (Washington Post) notes The Hurt Locker:

I usually avoid the Golden Globes ceremony, only tuning in late in the show to catch the occasional inebriated acceptance speech. (May the YouTube gods forever bless the Hollywood Foreign Press Association for putting full bottles of booze on the nominees' tables.)
But this year I'll watch with heightened interest one race in particular. I'll be the one at home on my couch, full bowl of popcorn at the ready, whispering under my breath: Bigelow, Bigelow, Bigelow.

As noted, I'm using my spare time (ha ha) to campaign for Kathryn's to be nominated for Best Director (Academy Awards). I enjoy Hornaday's column (really enjoy it) and recommend it but, to be clear, I know Kathryn and I know James Cameron and they both made wonderful films. I'm not going to pit them against each other. If Kathryn gets a nomination, regardless of who else is nominated, I will continue to work friends to support her. The Hurt Locker and Avatar are both important films and if either Kathryn or James wins Best Director, it will be wonderful. (Hornaday sees the Globes as an indicator of the Academy Awards. The Director's Guild is the best indicator for who will get the Academy Award for Best Director and the DGA will hand out their award January 30th -- Kathryn and James are both nominated along with three other people.)

We'll note this on a new publication. From WSWS:

The World Socialist Web Site and Mehring Books are launching today an important new publication--WSWS Perspectives. The monthly journal contains all the perspectives articles published on the WSWS.

WSWS perspectives articles analyze and comment upon the most important political events, economic developments, and cultural questions facing the international working class. Through these commentaries, the WSWS elaborates a socialist response to the crisis of world capitalism.

The journal will be an invaluable resource for both new and longtime readers of the WSWS. We also encourage our readers to purchase copies for family members, friends and co-workers as a way to introduce them to the analysis of the World Socialist Web Site.

WSWS Perspectives includes both a date-ordered table of contents and a subject index, to allow readers to quickly find material on particular themes or in response to particular events. Over the course of the coming year, Mehring Books will be issuing back copies of WSWS Perspectives going back to the redesign of the WSWS in October 2008.

Visit Mehring Books to order your copy or sign up for a year-long subscription. To purchase a single issue, click here. For a subscription, click here.

The sale price for individual issues and subscriptions is listed below. All prices are given in $US. Prices vary by location and include all shipping costs.

United States

1. Single issue: $10

2. Year-long subscription rate (12 issues): $85


1. Single issue: $10.50

2. Year-long subscription rate: $88

Great Britain, Europe, Latin America, and Asia

1. Single issue: $14.50

2. Year-long subscription rate: $122


1. Single issue: $11

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1. Single issue: $12.50

2. Year-long subscription rate: $105

Also from WSWS, we'll note this from Sybille Fuchs' "The death of Miep Gies (February 15, 1909—January 10, 2010) Protected Anne Frank from the Nazis:"

Shortly before her death, Miep Gies said: "Never a day goes by that I do not think of what happened then."
On August 4, 1944, Austrian-born SS Staff Sergeant Karl Josef Silberbauer and three Dutch Nazis from the so-called Green Police stormed the hiding place of the Frank family in Amsterdam after their whereabouts had been betrayed.
Anne Frank and her family were transported to concentration camps, and Anne died of typhus at the Bergen-Belsen concentration camp in northwestern Germany shortly before her 16th birthday (and only a few weeks before the camp was liberated). Her mother and sister both died in Auschwitz. Of Anne Frank's immediate family, only her father survived the Nazi concentration camps.

That's an excerpt. You can also see Betty's "Miep Gies" and Stan's "What gets covered. what gets ignored?" on this topic. The following community sites updated last night:

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oh boy it never ends