Wednesday, January 27, 2010

The violence continues

The top US general in Iraq said that while there was no definitive proof, he believed Monday’s attacks were conducted by Al Qaeda in Iraq (AQI) – an organization whose leaders appear to be increasingly well-educated and increasingly Iraqi, he said.
Gen. Raymond Odierno added that, since August, AQI had transformed itself from an organization dedicated to sustaining a long-term insurgency to one that was conducting clear-cut terrorist attacks aimed at destabilizing the government and weakening support for Iraqi security forces.

The above is from Jane Arraf's "Iraq bombings: Gen. Odierno blames a changing Al Qaeda" (Christian Science Monitor) about yesterday's Baghdad bombing which claimed at least 18 lives (eighty injured) and Monday's Baghdad bombings which claimed at least 41 lives. Odierno's floating theories. No one knows who is responsible for the bombings. As the New York Times' Anthony Shadid noted to Gwen Ifill at the blog for The NewsHour (PBS) on Monday (audio link), the US military has consistently blamed al Qaeda in Mesopotamia. Violence continues in Iraq today. Reuters reports a Mosul suicide bomber has taken his own life and left five people injured (four were police officers) and 2 people have been shot dead in Mosul in separate incidents. In addition Aseel Kami, Michael Christie and Ralph Boulton (Reuters) report a Baghdad assault on two buses containing Iranians making a pilgrimage to the Imam Moussa al-Kadhim with at least 2 people dead (an Iraqi bus driver and an Iranian woman).

Nothing the high profile violence (violence has never ceased in Iraq), the Kansas City Star's editorial board offers: "The United States cannot simply withdraw; it must make a good exit. In recent months, Iraq has become a far less deadly place for American forces. But it is just as clear that Iraqi security forces need more development and will have to continue to rely on American backing and training for a while." Some will dispute various things about the above but the main thing to zero in on is: WHAT WITHDRAWAL?

Once upon a time journalists -- that would include editorial boards -- knew not to present something as having happened . . . until it happens. The editorial board frets about a withdrawal that we have no evidence will take place. (Words are not evidence. Assertions are claims, not facts.)

Tonight Barry O will offer more pretty words and will talk 'economy' and 'finance' and 'debt' but he will avoid noting the costs of the wars. Reuters notes, "The cost to U.S. taxpayers of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan since 2001 has topped $1 trillion, and President Barack Obama is expected to request another $33 billion to fund more U.S. troops this year." Meanwhile John Curran (AP) notes that Vermont "has suffered more deaths per capita in the Iraq war than any other state."

All states have seen fatalities. 19-year-old Pfc Gifford Hurt died in Iraq January 20th. Last Thursday the US military announced: "CAMP VICTORY, Iraq -- A U.S. Soldier assigned to United States Forces - Iraq died of non-combat related injuries as a result of a vehicle accident, Jan. 20. The Soldier's name is being withheld pending notification of next of kin. The names of service members are announced through the U.S. Department of Defense official website [. . .] The announcements are made on the Web site no earlier than 24 hours after notification of the service member's primary next of kin. The incident is under investigation." Joe Kemp (New York Daily News) spoke with Gifford Hurt's mother Lisa Davis who explains that a ceremony will take place Tuesday at Pope Air Force base and a funeral is planned for Friday ("in North Carolina") and that the day is also the anniversary of when her son enlisted in the military last year. She states, "He was going to do the max they would let him do. He would've been 65 years old, walking with a cane before they would have to get rid of him." Drew Brooks (Fayetteville Observer) speaks with Davis and with Hurt's brother Tarique Thompson:

The two [Hurt and Davis] would Skype for hours on a nightly basis. They would talk about his hopes and dreams and discuss life in general.
She said she was able to talk to him the day before he died. She said it was during that conversation that she realized her baby was now a man.
Davis said the family took the news of Hurt's death pretty hard.
Thompson took it particularly rough.
Friday's homage to his older brother was a nod of respect and admiration to the sibling that once sparred with him in the same sport on a regular basis, Davis said.
"It was just a shock to everybody," she said. "We don't believe it. It's just surreal."
In addition to his mother and brother, Hurt is survived by a wife, Rontanza Ray, and stepson, Draquan Ray.
He also has two sisters, Ashley Trapp and Alyssa Thompson, and one other brother, Malik Thompson.
A funeral for Hurt will be held at Wiseman Mortuary Chapel in Fayetteville on Friday at noon, followed by a burial at Sandhills Veterans Cemetery.

The Arab Times reports, "Meanwhile, American troops have started joint operations with Iraqi and Kurdish forces in Iraq’s disputed northern zones in an effort to dampen tensions between Kurds and Sunni Arabs, the US army said Tuesday." The New York Times offers a photo essay of Mosul here (Eros Hoagland is the photo journalist whose work makes up the essay). Meanwhile Steven Lee Myers reports for the paper on Mosul noting that US troops are working checkpoints in the area "with Arab and Kurdish troops" (this is the move Odierno has long promoted):

Guarding checkpoints -- a task the American military never relishes -- invites attacks by insurgents, who remain particularly active in northern Iraq. On three consecutive nights recently, rockets or mortars landed near three checkpoints in Diyala Province, though they caused no casualties, according to an American military spokesman and an Iraqi military official. "You stay static," said First Sgt. Tony DelSardo of the Army's Third Infantry Division, "you'll get hit."
The operation began this month after labored negotiations with Iraq's Arab and Kurdish leaders. The immediate goal is to bolster security ahead of bitterly contested elections in March along an ethnic patchwork of lands devastated by attacks.

The following community sites updated last night:

TV notes. NOW on PBS begins airing Friday on most PBS stations (check local listings):
Haiti's catastrophic earthquake, in addition to leaving lives and
institutions in ruin, also exacerbated a much more common and lethal
emergency in Haiti: Dying during childbirth. Challenges in
transportation, education, and quality health care contribute to Haiti
having the highest maternal mortality rate in the Western Hemisphere, a
national crisis even before the earthquake struck.

While great strides are being made with global health issues like
HIV/AIDS, maternal mortality figures worldwide have seen virtually no
improvement in 20 years. Worldwide, over 500,000 women die each year
during pregnancy.

On Friday, January 29 at 8:30 pm (check local listings), a NOW team that
had been working in Haiti during the earthquake reports on this deadly
but correctable trend. They meet members of the Haitian Health
Foundation (HHF), which operates a network of health agents in more than
100 villages, engaging in pre-natal visits, education, and emergency
ambulance runs for pregnant women.
And Media Channel (home of Danny Schechter) is in need of funds:

Declaring Victory and Leaving?
It May Be Time To Say Goodbye


We believe in the mission of MediaChannel. We believe in its value and so does a growing audience that regularly reads and sends editorial input. Many of you have responded to
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We officially launched this media network on February 1, 2000, the anniversary of the student sit-ins that sparked the civil rights movement. We believe in the work we post - the media news, our blogs and our daily features. They are substantive, global, and offer a service that is often unique. No one else is really doing what we are, going way beyond just bashing or ridiculing political enemies. ("Oh, did you see what Glenn Beck is now saying?" Yuk!)

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thomas friedman is a great man

oh boy it never ends