Thursday, September 01, 2005
News roundup by Jim Galasyn
Iraq Front News
Gunfire Erupts Near Site of Iraq Stampede
Thu, 01 Sep 2005 14:56:22 GMT
Gunfire erupted Thursday after protesters marched toward the bridge where
nearly 1,000 Shiites died in a stampede during a religious procession, as
thousands of people flocked to their funerals and critics blasted the
government for failing to prevent the tragedy.
Two policemen killed near Baqubah
Thu, 01 Sep 2005 00:00:00 GMT
Two policemen were killed and two wounded when
gunmen ambushed their patrol on its way back to Baquba from Khan Bani Sa'ad,
25km (15 miles) to the south, a police source said.
Tear gas fired at mourning Shiites
Thu, 01 Sep 2005 00:00:00 GMT
Police fired tear gas as hundreds of young Shiite
Muslims poured on to the streets of Indian Kashmir's main city, forcing
businesses to close out of respect for those who died in a stampede in Iraq.
US Jets Destroy Insurgent Target Near Syrian Border
in Third Day of Strikes in a Week
Thu, 01 Sep 2005 13:53:33 GMT
The U-S military says Marine jets have destroyed
an Iraqi train station that officials say was being used to store weapons.
U.S. Destroys Weapons Storage Unit in Iraq
Thu, 01 Sep 2005 11:01:28 GMT
U.S. Marine jets destroyed a train station in a
town near the Syrian border Thursday because insurgents were storing weapons
there, the U.S. military said. There was no report of casualties from the
attack -- the third day of strikes in the area in a week.
Watching In Shock From Afar
Thu, 01 Sep 2005 16:15:02 GMT
BAGHDAD Soldiers from the Louisiana National Guard
are in New Orleans, taking part in rescue and relief efforts in the wake of
Worse than Vietnam
Thu, 01 Sep 2005 15:15:29 GMT
As though there wasn't already enough bad news
coming out of Iraq, a study has now stated the death toll of journalists is
larger than many had previously realized.
New Iraqi air force carries out first military
Thu, 01 Sep 2005 16:30:35 GMT
Iraq's nascent air force carried out its first
military mission when it flew two battalions of Iraqi troops into a troubled
zone in the north of the country, a U.S. military spokesman said Thursday.
LA National Guard Wants Equipment to Come Back From
September 1, 2005
JACKSON BARRACKS -- When members of the Louisiana
National Guard left for Iraq in October, they took a lot equipment with them.
Dozens of high water vehicles, humvees, refuelers and generators are now
abroad, and in the event of a major natural disaster that, could be a problem.
"The National Guard needs that equipment back home to support the homeland
security mission," said Lt. Colonel Pete Schneider with the LA National Guard.
Col. Schneider says the state has enough equipment to get by, and if Louisiana
were to get hit by a major hurricane, the neighboring states of Mississippi,
Alabama and Florida have all agreed to help. "As Governor Bush did for Ivan,
after they were hit so many times, he just maxed all of his resources out, he
reached out to Louisiana and we sent 200 national guardsmen to help support in
recovery efforts," Col. Schneider said. Members of the Houma-based 256th
Infantry will be returning in October, but it could be much longer before the
rest of their equipment comes home. "You've got combatant commanders over there
who need it they say they need it, they don't want to lose what they have, and
we certainly understand that it's a matter it's a matter of us educating that
combatant commander, we need it back here as well," Col. Schneider said. And
even if commanders in Iraq release the equipment, getting it home takes months.
"It's just the process of identifying which equipment we're bringing home,
bringing it down to Kuwait, loading it on ships or aircraft however we're gonna
get it back here and then either railing it in or trucking it in, so we're
talking a significant amount of time before that equipment is back home,"
The Iraq Quagmire: The Mounting Costs of War and
the Case for Bringing Home the Troops
August 31, 2005
“The Iraq Quagmire” is the most comprehensive
accounting of the mounting costs and consequences of the Iraq War on the United
States, Iraq, and the world. Among its major findings are stark figures that
quantify the continuing of costs since the Iraqi elections, a period that the
Bush administration claimed would be characterized by a reduction in the human
and economic costs. ,,,
U.S. deaths in Iraq in August most since January
Wed, 31 Aug 2005 21:57:35 GMT
U.S. military deaths in the Iraq war rose in
August to the highest monthly total since January, and American officials
predict escalating insurgent violence ahead of a planned October constitutional
Pentagon still investigating prison abuses-Schmitz
Thu, 01 Sep 2005 18:23:29 GMT
The Pentagon's chief internal watchdog said on
Thursday his agency continues to investigate the abuse of Iraqi prisoners at
Abu Ghraib prison in Baghdad, although he declined to give details.
Decorated veteran, and lifelong Republican, says
new Abu Ghraib photos must be released
1 Sep 2005
In an exclusive interview with RAW STORY, retired
U. S. Army Colonel Michael Pheneger explained why he submitted testimony in
support of the ACLU's lawsuit seeking new Abu Ghraib detainee abuse documents,
saying "the only way to assign accountability is to conduct a thorough
investigation of every aspect of these deplorable episodes." The Pentagon has
successfully kept new photographs out of the public eye, arguing that their
release would be detrimental to the safety of troops abroad. Colonel Pheneger
is a highly decorated thirty year veteran who has served in various high level
military posts throughout his career, including: Commander, U. S. Army
Intelligence School, Director of Intelligence, U. S. Special Operations
Command; Deputy Director of Intelligence, and has worked with the USSOCOM and
USCENTCOM teams providing high level intelligence support. Colonel Pheneger is
also a lifelong Republican, who finds the government’s case just another
"bending of rules" long since prohibited by the military. He voted for George
W. Bush in 2000, and works with the ACLU. Advertisement "General Myers and Mr.
Schlicher rightly condemn the misconduct and abuse depicted in the images, but
they oppose the release of the 87 photos and four videotapes in the belief they
would provoke reactions that could result in the death of U.S., allied, Iraqi,
and Afghani military, diplomatic and contractor personnel and local civilians.
They cite the ongoing insurgencies in Iraq and Afghanistan, the reaction of the
"Arab street" to previously released photos, and the Muslim reaction to a
Newsweek article on the alleged desecration of the Koran in support of their
conclusions," Pheneger said in his testimony to the court. The full written
testimony submitted to the court hearing the case on the release of detainee
abuse documents can be read via the ACLU FOIA site. The transcript of the
interview follows. ...
Case Closed in Navy SEAL Lawsuit Vs. AP
Thu, 01 Sep 2005 01:01:41 GMT
Four Navy SEALs and the wife of a SEAL who sued
The Associated Press over photos showing the servicemen posing with Iraqi
prisoners have agreed to drop all claims and not appeal a decision by a federal
judge in favor of the news organization.
How the US got its neoliberal way in Iraq
Sep 1, 2005
Last June 30, the Iraqi newspaper Al-Mada
published the latest draft of the Iraqi constitution that was then being
negotiated by Iraqi politicians. Its contents would have been enough to give
former occupation authority chief Paul Bremer a heart attack. The Iraqis - even
those who were willing to cooperate with the United States - wanted, at least
on paper, to build a Scandinavian-type welfare system in the Arabian desert,
with Iraq’s vast oil wealth to be spent on upholding every Iraqi’s right to
education, health care, housing, and other social services. “Social justice is
the basis of building society,” the draft declared. All of Iraq’s natural
resources would be owned collectively by the Iraqi people. Everyone would have
the right to work and the state would be legally bound to provide employment
opportunities to everyone. The state would be the Iraqi people’s collective
instrument for achieving development. (See key provisions in matrix below.) In
other words, the Iraqis wanted a country different from that for which the
Americans had come to Iraq. They, or at least those who were involved in
drafting the constitution, wanted nothing of the kind of economic and political
system that Bremer and other US officials had been attempting to create in Iraq
ever since the occupation began. What the occupation authorities wanted was to
fulfill “the wish-list of international investors”, as The Economist magazine
described the economic policies they began imposing in the country in 2003.
As direct occupiers, the US enacted laws that give foreign investors equal
rights with Iraqis in the domestic market; permit the full repatriation of
profits; institute the flat tax system; abolish tariffs; enforce a strict
intellectual property rights regime; sell off a whole-range of state-owned
companies; reduce food and fuel subsidies; and privatize all kinds of social
services such as health, education and water delivery. By the time the next
version was leaked in late July, the progressive provisions in the draft
constitution had disappeared. ...
George Bush's Original Sin
August 31, 2005
A few days ago, I was one on of those TV pundit
shows, and the host of this gabfest—Derek McGinty—asked all the panelists
whether George W. Bush's recent rah-rah speeches about the war in Iraq had done
anything to rally popular support for Bush's mess in Mesopotamia. I did not
surprise anyone by saying no and arguing that Bush had dished out warmed-over
rhetoric that had previously failed to boost public sentiment toward the war.
USA Today's Susan Page said much the same. But then the two conservative
chatters—columnist Linda Chavez and the Weekly Standard's Stephen Hayes—also
gave Bush an F. They maintained that he had not made a strong case that the war
in Iraq is central to the effort against terrorism. (They did not pause to
consider this failure might be due to the fact that the connection between
Bush's folly in Iraq and the effort against jihadist terrorism is tenuous.)
When right, middle and left agree that the White House is flailing, Bush might
have a problem. And now—a week later—Bush's pro-war speeches resonate not at
all. Bush could have achieved the same results by staying home and clearing
brush on his ranch. Bush is stuck. There is little he can say to affect public
opinion. It's been two years since "shock and awe" led to morass and
misadventure. The problem these days is not the rhetoric, but the policy. And
no matter what Bush says before a hand-picked audience, he cannot escape the
original sin. When Bush took the nation to war, he offered one prime rationale.
War-backers now like to claim Bush spoke of democratizing Iraq before the
invasion. And he did—occasionally. But on March 17, when he addressed the
nation from the Oval Office and gave Saddam Hussein 48 hours to skedaddle or
face Bush's wrath, he said the "danger was clear." Iraq—"no doubt"—had WMDs it
could pass to anti-American terrorists who would use these weapons to "kill
thousands or hundreds of thousands of innocent people in our country or any
other." In Bush's final explanation of the war to come, bringing democracy to
Iraq was not the cause; it was merely a necessary part of the post-invasion
Politicizing? Absolutely NOT!
Sep 01, 2005
We're sure you've seen the accusations of the left
using the hurricane as another "excuse" to bash Bush. We'd like to clear this
up: We're not looking for excuses. What we keep getting are REASONS. Every time
this country and this world have been thrown into chaos, this White House has
been an utter failure to respond. After 9/11, it took Bush barely a day to
stand on the rubble and bodies in New York with a bullhorn proclaiming that the
"people who knocked these buildings down" will hear from us. The people who
knocked those buildings down were in that rubble along with 3000 other people.
The one who they answered to is still at large. By contrast, after the Asian
tsunamis, it took Bush a few painful days before he offered up a laughable $35
million in aid before being embarrassed enough to tenfold the ante. $35 million
doesn't even buy an indoor soccer franchise, no less helping to rebuild a
continent - and we've been spending over $150 million a day on Bush's Iraq
Nightmare. Bush's initial indifference to Hurricane Katrina was atrocious. The
day before Katrina bore down on our homeland, he played golf. While the delta
was being decimated, he went back to the Coronado Naval air base where he began
his "Mission Accomplished" costume party in May of 2003. Why? To pump up his
side of the Iraq War as a blow against a grieving mother outside his ranch. He
made a passing comment about Katrina, but it was a footnote to his real reason
for being there. Time and time again, Bush has proven his inability to respond
to human suffering. It's understandable. Everything he's "accomplished" on his
resume' has been handed to him. The CEO posts, the baseball team, the
presidency - all of it hand-delivered into his lap by influence, theft or
family money. When you live in that bubble which protects you from the "bad
things," you say things that take the focus off the big picture. In fact, as I
write this, Bush - instead of talking about (or actually visiting) the
refugees, the forlorn, the devistated human beings wandering the streets and
rooftops in his own country, he issues a "zero-tolerance" for looting. This is
not a man of God. This is not a "compassionate" conservative. This is not a
"compassionate" anything. This is a man completely incapable of shedding a
tear, feeling sorrow or knowing how to respond to disaster. We have a social
retard running this country, and we're seeing the result. White-hot anger rules
the streets while our National Guard is fighting a war of choice half a world
away. The president is needed. But he performs a jet flyover (complete with the
"peering out the window with concern" photo pose), saying it must be even worse
to see on the ground. This morning on the Today show, he said he's still trying
to get a handle on the situation. Political? No. It's all about being a human.
It's all about doing the right thing as fast as a head of state can do it. It's
all about being a goddamned leader. In Bush's case, he's now in way over his
head, having to dance as fast as he can to explain why he sent our resources
and money to Iraq. God help us if anything else happens to America again this
Their Theocracy, and Ours
August 29, 2005
When President Bush praised the new Iraqi
constitution as protecting the rights of minorities and women and forming the
basis of a "free society," he was glossing over the document's rejection by
Sunnis—divisive language that may well lead to its defeat in a coming
referendum—and the worries of women and minority groups in Iraq that, in fact,
the document sets up an oppressive Islamic theocracy. Shiite religious parties
who helped draft the constitution saw to it that, despite assurances of
religious and individual freedom, Islam will be the official religion of Iraq
and "a main source of legislation," according to the New York Times. "Clerics
would more than likely sit on the Supreme Court, and judges would have broad
latitude to strike down legislation that conflicted with the religion." In
addition, "Clerics would be given a broad, new role in adjudication of family
disputes like marriage, divorce, and inheritance." So much for women's rights.
The failure of American efforts to transform Iraq into a free society comes at
a time when we are experiencing a crisis in our own country over the basic
concepts of freedom, democracy, and the separation of church and state.
Recently, while I was in Washington, I heard a young conservative woman assert
that there is "no such thing" as the separation of church and state in the U.S.
Constitution. Senator Rick Santorum, the family-values, anti-abortion crusader
in the Senate, makes the same assertion in his new book, It Takes a Family.
Various web pages echo this claim, supposedly debunking the secular myth of
church/state separation in this country. ...
Bush Blames Carter, Reagan, Clinton for 9/11
August 30, 2005
As his poll numbers sink, Bush is getting
desperate. From his address today in San Diego: They looked at our response
after the hostage crisis in Iran, the bombings of the Marine barracks in
Lebanon, the first World Trade Center attack, the killing of American soldiers
in Somalia, the destruction of two U.S. embassies in Africa, and the attack on
the USS Cole. They concluded that free societies lacked the courage and
character to defend themselves against a determined enemy… After September the
11th, 2001, we’ve taught the terrorists a very different lesson: America will
not run in defeat and we will not forget our responsibilities. (Conveniently,
Bush doesn’t mention any terrorist attack that occurred during his father’s
administration.) Once upon a time, the President didn’t believe in playing the
blame game: Well, the President is not one that focuses on blame or finger
pointing. The President focuses on what we need to do to address challenges. It
appears that statement is inoperative.
Bush 404 Error
1 Sep 2005
Bush's Crawford Vacation Cannot Be Displayed Oops!
The President you are looking for could not be found here in Crawford. Please
check in DC or somewhere else way above sea level. ...
Gas prices, Iraq war batter president's approval
Thu, 01 Sep 2005 11:00:25 GMT
President Bush returned to the capital Wednesday
after a month-long summer vacation with big problems on his agenda - from
record-setting gas prices to unrelieved turmoil in Iraq - and with his standing
in handling those issues in a slide.
Hospital Is Helpless Amid Churn Of Death And Grief
Thu, 01 Sep 2005 00:00:00 GMT
Doctors at Baghdad's Medical City hospital complex
had just a few minutes' warning before the arrival of what would become an
hourslong stream of corpses. And there was little they could do....
Population still affected by severe power cuts
30 Aug 2005
BAGHDAD, 30 August (IRIN) - Iraqis are still
suffering from power shortages countrywide – receiving less than four hours of
electricity daily – despite the government's recent announcement that more
money would be spent on this sector. "The government has forgotten about
essential services like water and power," said Farah Mustany, a mother of four
in Baghdad. "We are thirsty for power because we are suffering and our children
were suffering as we don't have basic facilities." This summer has been the
worse since the fall of Saddam Hussein's regime in April 2003. Shortages in
power supplies have resulted in millions of residents being forced to sleep
outside because there is not enough power to run air conditioners. "The bad
quality of materials during Saddam's regime and the sabotage caused by inhumane
insurgents have delayed progress and made more Iraqis suffer in temperatures of
60 degrees centigrade," Zacarias Abdul Satar, a senior official on the Ministry
of Electricity, said. Abdul Satar explained that an estimated US $22 billion
was required to repair and improve the electricity supply in the country and
keep it working 24 hours daily. "We believe that we can reach to 18,000
megawatts of energy in the year of 2010 which is approximately double of what
is being produced now – which is 7,000 megawatts," he said. Many districts of
the capital have received threats from insurgents to stop the using the big
neighbourhood generators. In the Sunni districts of Adhamiya, Zeiuna and
Baghdad Ijidida, many generators have been attacked by insurgents who used
rockets to destroy the machines. On 26 August, protests took place on the
streets of Baghdad, after outspoken Shi'ite cleric Moqtada al-Sadr called on
followers to demonstrate against the lack of power and water supplies and
against the new draft of the constitution, in which they say federalism should
not be specified. Doctors in the Iraqi capital have complained of the increase
in cases of dehydration and diarrhoea among children and the elderly, caused by
the constant heat inside homes without cooling systems. "We have at least 10
cases of dehydration caused by the summer season every day in our hospital.
During the last regime it was rare, but now it has become a daily occurrence
here," Dr Mustafa Rawi, at Baghdad's Yarmouk hospital, said. The insurgency
also shut down oil exports on 22 August, when power supplies were cut leading
to darkness in many areas of the capital and southern parts of the country, Oil
Ministry officials said. Abdul Satar also noted that if the insurgency does not
stop within the coming month, the capital could suffer a total power collapse
of 24 hours daily. The situation has been causing frustration for millions of
Iraqis who continue to suffer. "I hope that I can sleep with comfort at least
one day in my life. Our neighbourhood generator has been attacked by insurgents
and my two children are sick from dehydration," Baghdad resident Ali Kareem,
Iraq carries out first post-Saddam executions
Thu, 01 Sep 2005 14:05:24 GMT
Iraq executed three convicted murderers on
Thursday, the first time the government has carried out the death penalty since
the fall of Saddam Hussein in 2003, government spokesman Laith Kubba said.
Pope Benedict XVI has called for a climate of
reconciliation in Iraq...
Thu, 01 Sep 2005 15:46:47 GMT
Pope Benedict XVI has called for a climate of
reconciliation in Iraq and a common denunciation of violence as he expressed
his condolences following the deaths of hundreds of people during a stampede on
Funerals Held for Iraq Stampede Victims
Thu, 01 Sep 2005 16:14:44 GMT
Thousands of people flocked to the funerals
Thursday of the nearly 1,000 Shiite pilgrims killed in a stampede during a
religious procession, as critics blasted the government for failing to prevent
Stampede Catastrophe Brings Dissension, Unity
Wed, 31 Aug 2005 21:30:00 GMT
A Sadrist cabinet member responded to the horrific
crushing of over 1000 persons in a crowd of worshippers on its way to the
Shiite shrine in Kadhimiyah by calling for the resignation of the Minister of
the Interior and the Defense Minister. Interior is controlled by the Supreme
Council for Islamic Revolution in Iraq, a rival of the Sadrists.
Al-Zaman reports, to the contrary, that mourning the victims has become an
occasion for Iraqis to come together across sectarian lines. The Sunni
residents of Adhamiyah, the neighboring Sunni area, are making pledges of aid.
Prime Minister Jaafari has called for a three-day period of mourning. Hard line
Sunni groups such as the Association of Muslim Scholars and the Iraqi Islamic
Party had expressed their condolences to the Shiite leadership.
op-ed on the implications for Iraqi women of the new constitution is at the
Toronto Globe and Mail</a>.
Al-Zaman says that between a gasoline shortage and guerrilla predations, Mosul
has become a ghost town (it is a city of over a million).
a new ABC News/Washington Post poll</a>, Bush's approval numbers slipped
to only 45 percent, a career low. And some 56 percent disapproved of his
handling of the Iraq War. 68 percent found the rate of US casualties there
unacceptable. But a majority of Americans still thinks that Bush should keep
the troops there until civil order is restored. They think this because they
don't yet realize it is unlikely to happen as long as US troops are there.
asked Americans what they would tell Bush to do about Iraq</a> if they
had a few moments with the President.
I think it is clearer if we amalgamate some of the common answers.
52%: Get the troops out now; or, come up with and execute an exit strategy; or
work <br /> with the United Nations; or apologize and admit past
mistakes<br />30%: Be more agressive, build the Iraqi military, and/or
send US troops<br />10%: Keep doing what you are doing but explain it
The way I read it, 52 percent wants some sort of withdrawal plan, maybe along
with an apology to the Iraqis. About a third of Americans want either to send
more US troops or to rapidly build up the Iraqi military. Only about 10 percent
liked the status quo.
The rest had no opinion.
Docena examines</a> the struggle between the American free-marketeers and
the socialist-tending Iraqis over the shape of the Iraqi constitution. He
argues that on the key issues, US ambassador Zalmay Khalilzad got his
neoliberal way, but that the result contrasts starkly with the desires of the
Iraqi people as revealed in polls.
Strobel </a> explores Iran's relationship with post-Saddam Iraq.
New Orleans as a Casualty of Iraq
Wed, 31 Aug 2005 15:23:00 GMT
<b>New Orleans as a Casualty of Iraq </b>
<a href="http://www.bobharris.com/content/view/629/1/">Bob Harris's take
on the story</a> of how resources for levees and floodworks for New
Orleans, along with the Louisiana National Guard, were diverted to Iraq,
strikes me as balanced and right. The nation made a decision about priorities.
Tax cuts and the Iraq War came first. In a world of finite resources, that
decision had real-world consequences.
It is so sad to see a city die. Those poor, poor people. I had earlier hoped
New Orleans had been spared, but <a
href="http://billmon.org/archives/002120.html">as Billmon explains</a>
in the end Lake Pontchartrain was blown into the city and apparently there is
no reason to think it will drain back away any time soon. (Last I knew, Bourbon
Street was still largely spared, because being the old part of the city it was
built on relatively high ground. <a
href="http://www.miami.com/mld/miamiherald/12528993.htm">The water at
Bourbon and Canal street was still only knee deep</a>. But the French
Quarter without the rest of the city might soon become more of an antiquarian
curiosity than a living set of traditions.)
Now there is looting. Maybe Americans can imagine now what Iraqis felt like
when US troops stood aside and allowed massive looting, including of precious
national heirlooms and the documentary history of the country in modern times.
Events such as the collapse of some <a
shelves</a> will contribute to a rising of sea levels over the next
<a href="http://www.aip.org/history/climate/floods.htm ">Spenser Weart
<blockquote><br />"At least one thing was certain. If temperatures
climbed a few degrees, as most climate scientists now considered likely, the
sea level would rise simply because water expands when heated. This is almost
the only thing about global change that can be calculated directly from basic
physics. The additional effects of glacier melting are highly uncertain
(scientists were still arguing over how much of the 20th century’s sea level
rise was due to heat expansion and how much to ice melting). The rough best
guess for the total rise in the 21st century was perhaps half a meter
While such a rise will not be a world disaster, by the late 21st century it
will bring significant everyday problems, and occasional storm-surge
catastrophes, to populous coastal areas <b>from New Orleans to
Bangladesh</b>. More likely than not, low-lying areas where tens of
millions of people live will be obliterated. Entire island nations are at risk.
Then it will get worse. Even if humanity controls greenhouse emissions enough
to halt global warming, the heat already in the air will work its way gradually
deeper into the oceans, so the tides will continue to creep higher, century
after century." </blockquote>
Global warming is what is causing the seas to rise. Burning carbon-based fuels
adds to global warming as surely as smoking leads to lung cancer. Some of your
friendly corporations will deny both things to you.
Science fiction is "good to think with" (in the phrase of anthropologist
Claude Levi-Strauss) on these issues. Look at <a
Stanley Robinson's Forty Signs of Rain</a>, which is <a
Less elegiac than Robinson's thoughtful novel, and more of an adventure story,
Barnes' Mother of Storms</a> paints a graphic and unforgettable picture
of what is likely to happen to the Carribean islands if warming waters produce
more and bigger hurricanes.