Wednesday, July 28, 2010

A helicopter crashes in Iraq

A few decades on down the line, history will probably include all the many helicopter crashes in Iraq that crashed due to rebel/resistance attacks. Today, we instead get 'hard landings' (that was hugely popular for years with the press) and 'sandstorms.' Sinah Salaheddin (AP) wants to share this morning that 6 people are dead from an Iraqi helicopter crash due to, yes, "a sandstorm." ("A sandstorm downed an Iraqi military helicopter . . .") Could it have been a sandstorm? Yes, it could have. I wasn't there. (Though I did have the weirdest dream last night/this morning about Jane Arraf being in Mosul and having difficulty taking photos of an explosion.) So what's the problem. I'd say this is the problem (from the same report): "
The crash is under investigation, and no other details were immediately available, al-Askari said." When a crash is under investigation, the reasons for the crash are not known. Reasons may be suspected, but they aren't known -- hence the need for an investigation. Repeating, decades from now we'll no doubt learn just how many helicopters were downed during the Iraq War by something other than 'sandstorms' and 'hard landings due to mechanical failure'. Reuters notes 4 died in the crash and, unlike AP, don't attempt to pin a cause on a crash which is "under investigation." They also note 5 people are dead from a Baghdad bombing with twelve more injured.

US Adm Mike Mullen, Chair of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, visited Iraq yesterday (as well as Korea and India). Before we get to that, from Mullen's Facebook page:

Admiral Mike Mullen, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff

Admiral Mike Mullen, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff If you are a service member or veteran who was involuntarily extended under Stop Loss between Sept. 11, 2001, and September 30, 2009, you are eligible for Stop Loss Special Pay. Be sure to send in your claim form before the Oct. 21 deadline; the average benefit is $3,700. See for more informa...tion. If you know someone who may be eligible, tell a friend!

See More - The official website of the United States Department of Defense, U.S. Department of Defense, DoD, Defense, Defence, Military
20 hours ago · Comment ·

One of tomorrow's morning entries will include that and we'll also note it in the snapshot.

As noted, Mullen was on a whirlwind trip and we'll blame jet lag for many of his more dubious statements. Dan De Luce (AFP) reports he hailed what he termed "stunning" progress (only on security and only by cheating the scale and referring to the last three years -- if you can't use 2007 as your benchmark, you can't claim 'success' -- stunning or otherwise). While Mullen praised the 'stunning' progress, it was left to his underlings to note the week's violence and to US Deputy Sec of State Jacob Lew to explain, "The events of the last few days are horrific, and they are sobering, but they don't deter us from the process that we're in." Which would be the drawdown. But interesting that the main speaker declares "stunning" while the lesser lights have to deal with reality. Tang Danlu (Xinhua) reports on Mullen's meeting with Nouri al-Maliki and Nouri's laughable claim that, "The regional interference is the reason behind hampering a new government, and we have repeatedly demanded such interference in our internal affairs be halted. We are going forward in the formation of the new government as soon as possible." Jet lag doesn't excuse Nouri's lies. But Mullen was under the weather. Press TV offers a quote, see if you catch it, ""We're still on track to reduce the number of troops to 50,000 by the end of August and to have all combat troops out of Iraq by 2011." Combat troops -- a laughable designation -- are supposed to be out at the end of next month, not "by 2011."

Steven Lee Myers (New York Times) offers
, "Nearly five months after elections in March ended without a decisive winner, Mr. Maliki and the leaders of the other political blocs are divided over his efforts to stay in power for a second term. With no clear resolution in sight, many politicians now say that the impasse could extend after the United States officially ends its combat mission here after more than seven years of war and reduces the number of troops to fewer than 50,000 by the end of August."

The following community sites updated last night and this morning:

Larry Everest's "The Capitalist Oil Catastrophe Is NOT Over - People Must Act to Stop It" (World Can't Wait):

The banner headline in the July 16 New Orleans Times-Picayune blared in big bold letters, "OIL FLOW HALTED." The day before, British Petroleum (BP) had, for the first time since the Deepwater Horizon well exploded on April 20, apparently stopped the flow of crude oil and methane gushing into—and poisoning—the Gulf of Mexico.
BP and government officials are putting out the message that "the worst is over" and "the end is now in sight." But whether or not the gusher is really capped—and this is NOT yet totally clear—this oil disaster is far from over. The environment and the people, particularly along the Gulf coast, remain seriously threatened:
* Within days of the announcement of the capping, there were reports that there was "a detected seep a distance from the well and undetermined anomalies at the well head," and that the Coast Guard commander in charge had ordered BP "to draw up an emergency plan for the possible reopening of the cap." (Washington Post and Agence France-Presse, both July 19, 2010). So while the cap may be working, it is also possible that the capping process will drag on for weeks, perhaps longer.
* It is also possible, according to various engineers, that what has been done so far may have actually damaged the well and made completely capping it more difficult, perhaps even impossible. At each point in this disaster, BP and the government have systemically withheld information and outright lied about what is really going on. So it is possible that more is going on with this latest "fix" than is being revealed to the public, and people must remain vigilant.

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oh boy it never ends