Sunday, April 24, 2011

And the war drags on . . .

The Watertown Daily Times editorial board notes in this morning's paper, "Thousands of protesters in Mosul defied a ban to demonstrate against an extension of U.S. troop presence beyond the scheduled withdrawal date." Amazing that a local paper could note the Mosul protests when Reuters only got around today it late this evening. Jamal al-Badrani (Reuters) reports, "Sunday, around 5,000 people, including provincial council members and tribal leaders, rallied in the main square against extending the U.S. troops presence beyond the year-end deadline." This is day 16 of the protests in Mosul -- a fact not included in the article. Also noting the Iraq War is the editorial board of the Delaware County Times which applauds the Chair of the Joint Chiefs, Adm Mike Mullen, for talking publicly about the possibility US troops might remain in Iraq past 2011: "And if American forces remain in Iraq beyond the Dec. 31 deadline for withdrawal, it will be damaging for President Barack Obama, whose main campaign platform was ending America's involvement in the war." It's probably past time for Barack himself to be addressing this subject before the American people. And that probably requires a level of maturity he does not possess.

They're just there to try and make the people free,
But the way that they're doing it, it don't seem like that to me.
Just more blood-letting and misery and tears
That this poor country's known for the last twenty years,
And the war drags on.
-- words and lyrics by Mick Softly (available on Donovan's Fairytale)

Last Sunday, the number of US military people killed in the Iraq War since the start of the illegal war was 4450. Tonight? PDF format warning, DoD still lists the the number of Americans killed serving in Iraq at 4450. That does not include the two who died Friday -- they'll be included when DoD updates their tally. Today, DoD released the following: "The Department of Defense announced today the deaths of two soldiers who were supporting Operation New Dawn. They died of wounds suffered April 22, in Numaniyah, Iraq when insurgents attacked their unit with an improvised explosive device. They were assigned to the 2nd Squadron, 3rd Armored Cavalry Regiment, Fort Hood, Texas. Killed were: 1st Lt. Omar J. Vazquez, 25, of Hamilton, N.J.; and Pfc. Antonio G. Stiggins, 25, of Rio Rancho, N.M. For more information media may contact Fort Hood public affairs at 254-287-0106.

Violence continued in Iraq today. Reuters notes a Baghdad roadside bombing left four Iraqi soldiers injured and three bystanders, a Kirkuk bombing claimed the life of 1 Iraqi military officer, a Baghdad roadside bombing left four people injured, 1 police officer was injured in a Baghdad shooting, a Baghdad sticky bombing injured Abdul-Ghani Mohammad of the Ministry of Defense and a second Baghdad sticky bombing targeted the Ministry of Defense's Yahya Fadhel Abbas who "escaped unharmed". Meanwhile Ammar Karim (AFP) notes the emerging trend in violence, the targeting of officials: "In recent days, however, three top officials have been shot dead with silenced guns in the Iraqi capital, leading to tighter security at checkpoints, with officers checking pistols to see if they can be fitted with silencers." The report was filed before the sticky bombings in Baghdad entered the news cycle.

Quickly from the public e-mail. One man wants it noted that the press says "over two million" resident in Sadr City (a section of Baghdad -- this is in reference to the figure used in "How to lie like a rug"). Actually, they generally use the 2.5 million figure. One of the few who ever questioned that figure was Damien Cave in a report for the New York Times. Five people insist that I shouldn't be saying the Iraq War is going to continue. I shouldn't?

First off, it continues one way or another. There's the SOFA way which we'll come back to and then there's the plan to militarize diplomacy and put the State Dept over the military and contractors that will remain in Iraq. So those are the two plans. If a third one emerges, we'll note that as well.

But in terms of the SOFA a number of e-mailers say that I'm saying the SOFA will be renegotiated. I don't know. I know it's likely. Based on past events, it's likely that it will be extended -- as the UN mandate was. But my point regarding what's happening now is that an analysis we offered of the SOFA beginning Thanksgiving Day 2008 -- when the White House finally released it -- has proven to be correct. Those who mistake that as me dancing for joy miss the point of why I have spent over two years now calling out the mistaken belief that the SOFA required the Iraq War to end. It clearly did not. And all of that time was lost and wasted when people should have been speaking out against the Iraq War which will continue under the State Dept or under some new agreement unless a third option emerges.

New content at Third:

Pru notes Sian Ruddick's "Journalists striking to save 'dearly beloved' newspaper" (Socialist Worker):

Journalists at the North London & Herts Newspapers took their message to the streets in their first week of strikes, which began on Tuesday.

The nine workers, members of the NUJ union, who are employed at Tindle Newspapers, are striking for two weeks against the company’s policy of non-replacement of staff. They want to secure one extra reporter to help ease the workload.

The strikers and their supporters met on the picket line on Wednesday and marched into Enfield town centre to hold a rally and raise support. They organised the protest as a mock funeral for their “dearly beloved” newspapers.

Father of the chapel Jonathan Lovett donned a priest’s outfit while others dressed as mourners and carried a coffin.

Jonathan told the 40-strong crowd, “I believe in hope, and resurrection, and that Sir Tindle need only give the word and these newspapers will be raised from the dead.”

Kim, a reporter and news editor on the paper, told Socialist Worker, “All we want is an extra reporter on a fixed term contract to help take the pressure off. On Mondays and Tuesdays we all work until midnight trying to meet deadlines, type up notes and finish reports.

“If we’re rushing then the sub editors are rushing. That’s how mistakes happen. We’re so over stretched we don’t have time to report on all the local campaigns and council meetings that people expect of us.

“If this goes on people will be off with stress—and the company won’t replace them. As long as they’re making money they don’t care about staff provision.”

Anti-cuts campaigners joined the march as did councillors and readers of the papers.

Andreas Constantinides, Labour councillor for Enfield, told the rally, “The Enfield Labour group supports you. For the sake of local democracy, we need the local press to hold us to account.”

The strikers went to the offices of the South London Press, where they believe their work has been outsourced to, on Thursday.

The strikers and their supporters, including general secretary of the NUJ Jeremy Dear, sang songs of protest and leafleted the workers and passers by. The strike will continue next week and the journalists will then discuss the next steps of their action.

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