Friday, August 27, 2010

Violence continues

Overnight, violence continued in Iraq. Reuters notes a Baaj attack in which 2 Iraqi soldiers and 1 Iraqi military officer were shot dead, a Falluja roadside bombing apparently targeting police which wounded seven people and was followed by a second bombing when police arrived (wounding three) and a Shirqat attack on Sahwa which led to two Sahwa being killed and four more injured. AFP reminds, "When full control of the Sahwa passed from the US military to the Iraqi government in April last year, Baghdad promised to integrate 20 percent of its men into the police or army, and find civil service jobs for many others. But 52,000 are still waiting for new employment."

Ian Dunt (Politics) reports that Iraq Body Count (IBC) -- infamous for undercounting the dead in Iraq -- has hurled insults at the Iraq Inquiry, labeling it both "flawed" and "derisory" and has released their correspondent with Committee Chair John Chilcot in which they advocate for the inquiry to (quoting from correspondence) "fully and properly investigate Iraq casualties" and Dunt closes by noting that the Inquiry will go to Iraq. Only they "won't." They may. That was always the point. Chilcott has made two public statements about that. They would like to, they hope to. Whether they go or not, nothing is concrete at this point. Jonathan Steele (Guardian) grasps that reality:

The five-person Chilcot inquiry team plans to visit Iraq briefly in the next few weeks but the IBC says this appears to be "an afterthought". Looking at the inquiry's focus so far, "one would almost think that the Iraq war largely took place in Britain", it says.
"There are certainly a few instances of 'home-grown terrorism' on British soil which may well be inextricably linked to events in Iraq. But in the main, this war's largest and most irrevocable effects are on Iraqis, not on British (or American) citizens."

Channel 4 News adds, "Iraq Body Count (IBC) co-founder John Sloboda told Channel 4 News: 'Some of the deaths and injuries caused must have been breaches of British and international law, so some sort of judicial inquiry would seem to be in order'."

From Iraq, Sam Dagher (Wall St. Journal) explores the mood of the country:

Many here—majority Shiite Arabs, minority Sunni Arabs, as well as ethnic Kurds—are happy to see Saddam Hussein's regime gone. They've welcomed the uncertain emergence of long-denied civil liberties, such as the right to vote in free elections. They credit a recent surge of U.S. forces into Baghdad and surrounding provinces with taming the near-civil war that engulfed the country. And there are positive signs for the future. International oil companies are scrambling to invest, promising a boost in petroleum revenues. A nascent democracy, albeit fractious, has survived.
But some Iraqis also accuse America of clumsily dismantling Mr. Hussein's power structure and triggering three years of sectarian violence, a legacy that continues to rattle Iraq.
In a briefing Thursday, new U.S. Ambassador to Iraq James F. Jeffrey said America wasn't "abandoning Iraq," and spoke of an "evolution" in the relationship with Baghdad with a focus on military, economic and social cooperation. But he warned of serious risks. "The potential for violence, what I would characterize now primarily as terrorist acts here, is quite significant."

How long has the Iraq War been going on? Eight years in March. You can also measure it by the journalists. The Iraq War has lasted Sam Dagher three outlets (Christian Science Monitor, the New York Times and Wall St. Journal), Leila Fadel two (McClatchy Newspapers, Washington Post), Anthony Shadid two (Washington Post, New York Times), etc.

TV notes. On PBS' Washington Week, Charles Babbington (AP), Eamon Javers (CNBC), Karen Tumulty (Washington Post) and Pete Williams (NBC News) join Gwen around the table. Gwen now has a weekly column at Washington Week and the current one is "Why We Love It When the President Goes Away." This week, Bonnie Erbe will sit down with Karen Czarnecki, Kim Gandy, Christina Hoff Sommers and Avis Jones-DeWeever on the latest broadcast of PBS' To The Contrary to discuss the week's events. And this week's To The Contrary online extra is an exploration of whether or not there's any link between sex and schoolwork. Need To Know is PBS' new program covering current events. This week's hour long broadcast airs Fridays on most PBS stations -- but check local listings -- and it explores hydraulic fracturing and the salmonella egg outbreak. And turning to broadcast TV, Sunday CBS' 60 Minutes offers:

Stealing America's Secrets
"60 Minutes" has obtained an FBI videotape showing a Defense Department employee selling secrets to a Chinese spy that offers a rare glimpse into the secretive world of espionage and illustrates how China's spying may pose the biggest espionage threat to the U.S. Scott Pelley reports. | Watch Video

The Bloom Box
Large corporations in California have been secretly testing a new device that can generate power on the spot, without being connected to the electric grid. They're saying it's efficient, clean, and saves them money. Will we have one in every home someday? Lesley Stahl reports. | Watch Video

In the latest craze that has killed several extreme sports enthusiasts, men don wing-suits, jump off mountaintops and glide down at speeds approaching 140 miles per hour. Steve Kroft reports. | Watch Video

60 Minutes, Sunday, August 29, at 7 p.m. ET/PT.

And on The Diane Rehm Show (begins airing on most NPR stations and streaming live at 10:00 am EST), Diane's joined for the first hour (domestic) by panelists Naftali Bendavid (Wall St. Journal), Sheryl Gay Stolberg (New York Times) and Michael Hirsh (Newsweek) and for the second hour (international) by Courtney Kube (NBC News), Moises Naim (El Pais) and David Wood (PoliticsDaily).

We'll close with this from Andy Worthington's "Renewed Secrecy: the Surreal World of Guantanamo" (World Can't Wait):

In a disturbing report in the Miami Herald, the ever-vigilant Carol Rosenberg reports that an unknown number of hunger strikers at Guantánamo are being force-fed between dusk and dawn — a mixture of cruelty (force-feeding) and respect (for Ramadan) that is sadly typical of the surreal, otherworldly reality of Guantánamo, over eight and a half years after the prison first opened.
In a statement, Navy Cmdr. Bradley Fagan, a spokesman for the authorities at Guantánamo, explained, “Detainees who are fasting get their meals before dawn.” As Rosenberg described it, he “disclos[ed] only the hours of that day’s feeding “in observance of the Ramadan schedule” — before 5:26 a.m. and after 7:28 p.m, adding, “Please note that not all hunger strikers are enteral feeders.”
Sadly, as Rosenberg also reported, Cmdr. Fagan has introduced “a new level of secrecy” regarding the hunger strikers at Guantánamo, stating that it is now the policy of the US “to no longer reveal the exact number of detainees being shackled by guards into restraint chairs for twice daily feedings.”

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