Nour's cries shattered the terrible silence hanging over the street. Two hours earlier, residents had heard a cacophony of gunfire and screams. Nour's family had become yet more victims of the sectarian slaughter that followed the allied invasion of Iraq – the consequences of which are still being played out seven years later.
When the undertakers arrived at Nour's house the next day, she was the only one left of her immediate family. For two years they had been hunted down, and the death tally in her family now came to nine. The latest victims, her three sisters and mother, lay crumpled in the living room where they had been preparing dinner. Nour had survived the attack because she had hidden under a couch out of view of the gunmen. For two hours after the shooting stopped, she played dead, petrified that one of the killers still lurked as the blood of her family seeped towards her. When it reached her, she got to her feet and ran.
The above is the opening to Martin Chulov's "Death in suburban Baghdad" (Guardian) and, as you read the article, grasp how the story never ends with the death of a family member or members. The press may move on to a new story of death and destruction, but the story doesn't end with the day or night of violence for the victims.
Meanwhile the US military remains in Iraq. Lily Gordon (Ledger-Enquirer) shares a military press release on the training US troops are giving the Iraqi forces. Monday the US military trumpeted that 107 US forces in Iraq had just become US citizens. We noted Marc Hall in the February 9th snapshot, today Aaron Glantz (New American Media) reports:
Lawyers for a U.S. Army specialist imprisoned after mailing an incendiary rap song to the Pentagon have filed a habeas corpus petition in federal court demanding the soldier's trial take place in the United States rather in Iraq, as the military desires.
The petition, filed in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Georgia, argues that sending Spc. Marc Hall, 27, to Iraq "for his court martial would violate his right to do process of law and will significantly compromise his ability to defend himself."
At the Pentagon, Lt. Col Eric Bloom said he knew "nothing about the filing," but said that sending Hall to Iraq for trial does not represent an unusual course of action.
September 13, 2009, Lucas "Trent" Vinson was killed while working as a contractor in Iraq. Currently a US soldier is facing an Article 32 hearing to determine whether or not there is enough evidence to warrant a court-martial. Gregg K. Kakesako (Honolulu Star-Bulletin) reports Spc Leonel Garciapagan testified yesterday on behalf of his friend Spc Beyshee Velez (who is the accused) and declared that Velez "was confused and hallucinating". Kakesako also reports:
Garciapagan told Lt. Col. Payton Sims, the investigating officer assigned to the hearing, that three days before the shooting, Velez's mood had changed. "He was completely out his mind. He didn't make any sense."
However, Garciapagan said he did not report the behavior change because the unit was busy with plans to leave Iraq for home.
Garciapagan talked with Velez after the shooting in a van where the accused had barricaded himself for nearly 12 hours. "He was very confused."
Garciapagan said Velez believed that he was being pursued for a crime he did not commit.
However, two days after the shooting, Garciapagan told Army criminal investigators that Velez told him that he shot Vinson accidentally because he was trying to take his rifle.
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It's not only employees who suffer when they get laid off but the firms responsible for handing them the pink slips can take a beating, too.
As millions of Americans have been fired by employers struggling to remain profitable, we have all borne witness to Corporate America's calloused disregard of its workers. Now, canny business economists claim the layoffs have hurt employers, too.
That's part of the story of now-defunct Circuit City, an article in the current Newsweek reports, after it lopped off 3,400 of its highest-paid sales associates to cut costs. “A company cuts people. Customer service, innovation, and productivity fall in the face of a smaller and demoralized workforce,” Newsweek points out.
"There are currently 14.8 million unemployed, and when you count 'discouraged workers' (who've given up on job seeking) and part-time workers who'd prefer a full-time gig, that's another 9.4 million Americans who are 'under-employed," writes Jeffrey Pfeffer, professor of organizational behavior at Stanford University. By my count, that's 24 million Americans either out of work or not working at full potential. Wow!
"The people who lose jobs also lose incomes, so they spend less. Even workers who don't lose their jobs but are simply fearful of layoffs are likely to cut back on spending too. With less aggregate demand in the economy, sales fall. With smaller sales, companies lay off more people, and the cycle continues," Pfeffer writes in the February 15th Newsweek.
Pfeffer says layoffs simply don’t work. Firms lose what’s called "institutional memory" as to save bucks short-term they lay off their wisest (and most expensive) heads first, damaging their company long-term. And this can send a chill through any workplace like nothing else.
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