Tuesday, July 19, 2011

The fallen and Panetta's foul mouth

Last month saw the death of 15 US soldiers in the Iraq War. This month has already seen the death of five. Brittany Cooper (KMVT -- link has text and video) reports that a memorial service was held by the Idaho National Guard for Sgt Nathan Beyers and Spc Nicholas Newby and "Meanwhile, officials say Staff Sergeant Jason Rzepa is back in the United States after having both of his legs amputated. He was injured in the same attck that killed these soldiers. Staff Sergeant Rzepa received a Purple Heart medal on July 8th while in a military hospital in Iraq." Annie Bishop (KXLY 4 -- link has text and video) reports on Nicholas Newby's Monday funeral (and the report states that Nathan Beyers' funeral was also yesterday) which was attended by "friends, neighbors and a first grade teacher" and Wayne Newby, Nicholas' father, thanked those who took part in the procession on Friday, "Total strangers holding up signs thanking Nick and crying and seeing the respect they gave a fallen soldier my son, our hero." Cole Heath (KREM -- link is text and video) reports on both funerals and notes Nathan Beyers his ashes will be laid to rest at a ceremony tomorrow [Tuesday] at the Washington State Veterans Cemetery in Medical Lake. The ceremony is open to the public."

Jessica Robinson (Regional Public Journalism -- link is text and audio) reports on a Saturday service for Nicholas Newby and Nathan Beyers:

They had a close friendship and liked to play pranks on each other, recalls Sgt. Joseph Rozewicz. Like the time Nick Newby secretly held on to Nate Beyers seatbelt.
"So Nate's naturally thinking it's the truck breaking down and he's sitting over there cussin' and getting frustrated and you got Nick literally right behind him just laughing his butt off in the gunner's hatch," said Rozewicz.
"Those two were like brothers."

Lucas Elliott died Friday serving in Iraq. He was on his second tour of Iraq. Matt Caulder (News Observer) reports:

Elliott's wife, Trisha, celebrated his birthday Monday: He would have been 22.
Trisha and Lucas met in a world religions class at Wake Technical Community College.
"He sat behind me for three months before we talked," Trisha Elliott said.
Lucas and Trisha were married in March 2009 just before his first deployment.

In other news, Leon Panetta is the new US Secretary of Defense and his remarks and how they're officially recorded is now an issue. Jason Ditz (Antiwar.com) explains:

Some in the media have marveled at Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta’s “plain-spoken” comments, which appears primarily to be a euphemism for his willingness to casually curse and say foolhardy things.

This was particularly true in one of his first speeches at “Camp Victory” in Iraq, where the secretary claimed the US occupation of Iraq was “because of 9/11.” It was widely covered in the press, but to hear the Pentagon, it never happened.

Charley Keyes (CNN) adds
, "Journalists have been complaining that some official Department of Defense transcripts are being held back and others are not completely accurate. Finally, transcripts that in the past that were usually released in a few hours began popping up on the department website late Monday, 10 days after the words had left Panetta's mouth." Kevin Barone (Stars & Stripes) notes:

As reporters filed their stories from the road, journalists back in Washington went looking for the official transcripts to verify the quotes. By the end of the week, with still no transcripts, people complained.
"As you know, above all else, the [Pentagon Press Association] values transparency and accuracy," the group's president, Nancy Youssef of McClatchy Newspapers, wrote in a letter Friday. "And there was no other way for our members not on the trip to get these transcripts. In addition, they are important records of the secretary's public events."
In the past several years, the Pentagon has been slow to release transcripts of the secretary’s public events from the road. Often in the days immediately after returning to Washington, several transcripts would be posted online all at once.

The following community sites -- plus Antiwar.com, On The Wilder Side and McClatchy Newspapers -- updated last night and this morning:

On Monday, July 25th from Noon-2 p.m. thousands will protest the imminent execution of Professor Bhullar of India at a rally at the United Nations (47th Street, Between 1st & 2nd Avenues) - Professor Bhullar's mother, who is an American Citizen will be at the rally. Attached please find: a timeline/fact sheet, the memorandum which will be presented to the U.N. and the Dissenting Judgment of the Indian Supreme Court. We have several prominent people available for interview.

For more information please contact: Tina Mosetis: (516) 458-2090 or Charlotte Tomic: 917-882-5243
Professor Devenderpal S. Bhullar, Son of U.S. Citizen, to be Unjustly Executed in India
Thousands Protest at U.N. Rally Monday, July 25th Noon-2:00 p.m.

New York, NY --Thousands will attend an historic protest rally on Monday, July 25th from Noon-2:00 p.m. at the United Nation’s Headquarters (47th Street, Between 1st & 2nd Avenues) to demand the U.N. intervene to stop India’s planned execution of Professor Devenderpal S. Bhullar, an innocent man that has been repeatedly tortured by the Indian government.
Professor Bhullar was taken into custody in January 1995 and immediately tortured and forced to sign blank sheets of paper which were later used to engineer his “confessional statement” which forms the sole basis of his conviction. Professor Bhullar was sentenced to death, by a split decision of the Supreme Court of India, solely on the basis of this fraudulent “confession” and without any independent corroborating evidence or witnesses.
He was tried and convicted under the notorious TADA -Terrorist and Disruptive Activities (Prevention) Act - of India, a law that has been condemned as completely unacceptable by attorney, Sir Nigel Rodely, a member of the U.N. Human Rights Committee. Professor Bhullar is the son of U.S. citizen, Ms. Upkar Kaur, whose husband Balwant Singh (Professor Bhullar’s father) was tortured to death by the police in India in 1991. Ms. Kaur will be present at the rally.
Bhullar’s conviction endorses extracting confessions via torture; his 16-year detention and planned execution violate the U.N.’s Universal Declaration of Human Rights and its 2008 Resolution 62-149 calling for a moratorium and abolition of the death penalty. Sikhs for Justice (SFJ) is submitting the attached memorandum to the U.N. Secretary General asking for its prompt intervention.

The following organizations are supporting the commutation of the death sentence against Professor Bhullar’s: Amnesty International, World Coalition Against the Death Penalty, International Commission Against the Death Penalty.

The rally, organized by Sikhs for Justice is a U.S. based Human Rights Organization, is being supported by the Gurudwara Temple Management Committees across the United States.

The e-mail address for this site is common_ills@yahoo.com.

thomas friedman is a great man

oh boy it never ends