Stress Takes Toll on Troops in Iraq – Video May 5, 2007Posted by Dan in Middle East, News, Video, War.
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According to a new study, large numbers of troops are reporting symptoms of anxiety, depression, and post-traumatic stress disorder. The study even goes as far as to suggest that longer deployments are to blame. This report explains….
Real Jessica Lynch Rescue Video April 28, 2007Posted by Dan in Main, Middle East, Must Read, News, Politics, Video, War.
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New video of PFC Jessica Lynch’s rescue from Iraqi hands over 4 years ago has risen to light. It is now clear just how different the reality of her extraction is from the White House reports at the time. I remember very clearly how the focus of American media shifted dramatically from the progress of the invasion, the failed hunt for Osama Bin Laden, the non-existant Weapons of Mass Destruction, and an ever elusive Saddam Hussein to this one missing Private. At the time, I was confounded… why was the media not reporting on the important things!? Why were we constantly forced to listen to an, as we now know, fabricated report of her capture, detainment, and rescue? It seemed ludicrous with all that was happening, to focus entirely on this one soldier.
Of course, I know now from my own conversations with reporters in Iraq at the time that the US Government simply was not providing information on anything other than Lynch. The reporters had to talk about her and her rescue because thats all the Government would talk about. Clearly, the White House wanted to distract the American public from the realities of a bungled war. If there were weapons of mass destruction in Iraq, we would’ve found some kind of evidence within the first few days of occupying Baghdad. When we didn’t, it became immediately apparent to the President, the Secretary of Defense, the Joint Chiefs of Staff, and anyone else “in the know” that the war was a massive mistake. By redirecting media focus to a “human story,” the capture and subsequent rescue of a cute, 19 year old girl seemed like just the thing to pull the wool over our eyes once again.
Now, we can see her rescue, as it really happened….
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Bush Using Troops in Iraq as Hostages Against Congress April 23, 2007Posted by Dan in Main, Middle East, News, Politics, War.
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From The New York Times:
By Paul Krugman
There are two ways to describe the confrontation between Congress and the Bush administration over funding for the Iraq surge. You can pretend that it’s a normal political dispute. Or you can see it for what it really is: a hostage situation, in which a beleaguered President Bush, barricaded in the White House, is threatening dire consequences for innocent bystanders — the troops — if his demands aren’t met.
If this were a normal political dispute, Democrats in Congress would clearly hold the upper hand: by a huge margin, Americans say they want a timetable for withdrawal, and by a large margin they also say they trust Congress, not Mr. Bush, to do a better job handling the situation in Iraq.
But this isn’t a normal political dispute. Mr. Bush isn’t really trying to win the argument on the merits. He’s just betting that the people outside the barricade care more than he does about the fate of those innocent bystanders.
What’s at stake right now is the latest Iraq “supplemental.” Since the beginning, the administration has refused to put funding for the war in its regular budgets. Instead, it keeps saying, in effect: “Whoops! Whaddya know, we’re running out of money. Give us another $87 billion.”
At one level, this is like the behavior of an irresponsible adolescent who repeatedly runs through his allowance, each time calling his parents to tell them he’s broke and needs extra cash.
What I haven’t seen sufficiently emphasized, however, is the disdain this practice shows for the welfare of the troops, whom the administration puts in harm’s way without first ensuring that they’ll have the necessary resources.
As long as a G.O.P.-controlled Congress could be counted on to rubber-stamp the administration’s requests, you could say that this wasn’t a real problem, that the administration’s refusal to put Iraq funding in the regular budget was just part of its usual reliance on fiscal smoke and mirrors. But this time Mr. Bush decided to surge additional troops into Iraq after an election in which the public overwhelmingly rejected his war — and then dared Congress to deny him the necessary funds. As I said, it’s an act of hostage-taking.
Actually, it’s even worse than that. According to reports, the final version of the funding bill Congress will send won’t even set a hard deadline for withdrawal. It will include only an “advisory,” nonbinding date. Yet Mr. Bush plans to veto the bill all the same — and will then accuse Congress of failing to support the troops.
The whole situation brings to mind what Abraham Lincoln said, in his great Cooper Union speech in 1860, about secessionists who blamed the critics of slavery for the looming civil war: “A highwayman holds a pistol to my ear, and mutters through his teeth, ‘Stand and deliver, or I shall kill you, and then you will be a murderer!’ ”
So how should Congress respond to Mr. Bush’s threats?
Everyone talks about the political risks of confrontation, recalling the backlash when Newt Gingrich shut down the federal government in 1995. But there’s a big difference between trying to force a fairly popular president to accept deep cuts in Medicare — which is what the 1995 confrontation was about — and trying to get a deeply unpopular, distrusted president to set some limits on an immensely unpopular war.
Meanwhile, there are big political risks on the other side. If Congress responds to a presidential veto by offering an even weaker bill, voters may well react with disgust, concluding that the whole debate over the war was nothing but political theater.
Anyway, never mind the political calculations. Confronting Mr. Bush on Iraq has become a patriotic duty.
The fact is that Mr. Bush’s refusal to face up to the failure of his Iraq adventure, his apparent determination to spend the rest of his term in denial, has become a clear and present danger to national security. Thanks to the demands of the Iraq war, we’re already a superpower without a strategic reserve, unable to respond to crises that might erupt elsewhere in the world. And more and more military experts warn that repeated deployments in Iraq — now extended to 15 months — are breaking the back of our volunteer military.
If nothing is done to wind down this war during the 21 months — 21 months! — Mr. Bush has left, the damage may be irreparable.
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At least 52 people have been killed in a fourth day of heavy fighting between Ethiopian troops and Islamist militia in Somalia’s capital of Mogadishu.
Doctors said there had been overrun with casualties and there were reports of bodies strewn across streets.
More than 130 people were killed and 200 injured in the first three days of fighting, a local rights group said.
Ethiopian forces have been in Mogadishu since December after helping Somalia’s transitional government oust Islamists.
The UN says more than 320,000 people have fled fighting in the capital since February.
One confirmed attack on Saturday was on the al-Barakah market.
A number of people were killed when mortar rounds landed. Local reports spoke of bodies mutilated beyond recognition.
AFP news agency reported a mortar round also struck a bus in the southern Hodan district, killing four people.
Somalia’s Elman Human Rights Organisation said at least 52 people were killed in Saturday’s violence, which it described as the worst in recent years.
“I call on the both sides to stop the fighting and shelling without any condition,” chairman Sudan Ali Ahmed said to Associated Press news agency.
One resident, Ali Haji, said: “Ethiopians are trying to kill me because I am Somali, and insurgents are not happy because I am not picking up a gun and fighting with them. I have lost all hope.”
The UN is warning of a humanitarian disaster. Most of those who have fled lack food and water and hundreds have already died from cholera and diarrhoea, UN humanitarian co-ordinator Eric Laroche said.
Somalia has not had a functional government since 1991. A transitional government was formed in 2004, but has so far failed to take full control of the country.
Ethiopian forces backing the transitional government swept into Mogadishu in December displacing the Islamic Courts Union (UIC).
Violence has intensified since then, after the relative calm when the UIC ran the city.
The insurgents are believed to be a mixture of Islamist fighters and militiamen from the Hawiye clan – the largest in Mogadishu.
US Ambassador to Kenya and Somalia Michael Ranneberger said the ongoing violence was part of an attempt by these groups to create an insurgency, but that it was not yet a structured movement.
“At this point it’s opportunistic violence,” Mr Ranneberger told AP news agency. “They’re not organised like an insurgency.”
Ethiopian troops have started to withdraw, to be replaced by an African Union peacekeeping force, but only 1,200 of the 8,000 troops the AU says it needs have been deployed.
U.S. Military Deaths in Iraq at 3,314 April 19, 2007Posted by Dan in Middle East, Must Read, News, War.
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As of Thursday, April 19, 2007, at least 3,314 members of the U.S. military have died since the beginning of the Iraq war in March 2003, according to an Associated Press count. The figure includes seven military civilians. At least 2,691 died as a result of hostile action, according to the military’s numbers.
The AP count is three higher than the Defense Department’s tally, last updated Thursday at 10 a.m. EDT.
The British military has reported 142 deaths; Italy, 33; Ukraine, 18; Poland, 19; Bulgaria, 13; Spain, 11; Denmark, six; El Salvador, five; Slovakia, four; Latvia, three; Estonia, Netherlands, Thailand, two each; and Australia, Hungary, Kazakhstan, Romania, one death each.
Since the start of U.S. military operations in Iraq, 24,764 U.S. service members have been wounded in hostile action, according to the Defense Department’s weekly tally.
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The so-called “Green Zone,” an area in Iraq supposedly under fierce coalition control, has been breached by a suicide bomber with the audacity to explode inside the Iraqi Parliament building, killing at least 2 Iraqi lawmakers. 8 Iraqis were killed in the blast and another 20 were wounded. No doubt, Senator John McCain is eating his words about Iraq’s expanding security.
This mp3 podcast from the New York Times explains what happened:
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Thousands of Iraqis have taken to the street to protest the American occupation. At least they’re doing something as a group! Perhaps thats the secret to unifying a foreign population. We’ve always known that an attack from an outside aggressor will coalesce even the oldest of enemies. It happened in World War 2 when Germany turned on Russia, forcing them to ally with us. Now, maybe it’s happening in Iraq… Sunnis and Shiites have a common enemy once again (it used to be Saddam, but now, unfortunately, we’ve begun to fill that role). Perhaps this is not a bad thing… Perhaps it is what the Iraqis need to form a true, unified government. The thirteen colonies would never have formed a federal union were it not for the threat of British aggression and the need to repel it. So maybe there is a silver lining to the seething hatred aimed at the United States… a lining of unification.
Iran is Playing With Nuclear Fire March 23, 2007Posted by Dan in Middle East, Must Read, News, Politics, War.
Iranian naval vessels seized 15 British marines and sailors of the coast of Iraq, earlier today. Refusing to make a statement until recently, Iranian television is reporting that British personnel were arrested after crossing illegally into Iran’s territorial waters. The report did not say how many were taken, where they were being held, or what would happen next. The sailors were captured after a routine examination of a vessel believed to be in Iraqi waters. British military patrols have been given authority to board vessels in Iraqi waters under United Nations mandate and with the permission of the government in Baghdad.
Hopefully, Iran will do what it did when it 2004, when they stopped three British boats, seizing eight sailors and six marines. The men appeared on state television blindfolded, but were released without incident.
The difference is that tomorrow, Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad was scheduled to speak before the U.N. Security Council regarding their increased sanctions in light of Iran’s potentially military nuclear development program. The Council has already voted to sanction Iran, and is scheduled to vote again on further sanctions after a U.N. nuclear watchdog agency reported that they could no longer say for certain that Iran’s program is non-military in nature.
British naval vessels conduct these operations in Iraqi waters all the time. Why would Iran pick now to capture some of their soldiers? Whether they know it or not, Iran is playing with fire, and they’re going to get burned. What would appear to be a sign of strength for Iranian citizens (the capture of British forces) is more like a sign of war for the West.
The boiling pot is about to spill over…..
Iraqis Killed by Chlorine Bombs – Six US Soldiers Wounded March 17, 2007Posted by Dan in Middle East, Must Read, News, War.
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Well…. the insurgents have finally realized that chemical weapons are far too easy to come by, and have launched the largest Chlorine gas attack of the civil war that has no engulfed Iraq.
We are once again planning to take Baghdad, or rather, retake it. This article illuminates the subject.
From the BBC:
Three chlorine gas attacks in Iraq are reported to have killed eight people and left hundreds injured, including six US troops.
Two of the attacks were near the city of Falluja, the third near Ramadi, west of Baghdad. Both areas are hotbeds of al-Qaeda militants.
Chlorine gas can cause severe burns to the throat and lungs and can kill after only a few breaths.
There were at least three such attacks in Iraq in February.
The BBC’s Hugh Sykes, in Baghdad, describes the use of the gas as an unsettling and possibly ominous development that could greatly increase fear and anxiety.
The heaviest casualties were in a suicide attack on Friday evening at the entrance to a housing estate south of Falluja in which six people were reported to have been killed. The injured included at least 27 children.
Shortly before that another attack in the same area killed two Iraqi policemen.
Officials say that in both attacks the assailants drove dumper trucks containing the bombs at their targets. One of the trucks is reported to have contained a 200 gallon (900 litre) tank of chlorine and explosives.
The third attack was at a checkpoint near Ramadi.
“Approximately 350 Iraqi civilians and six coalition force members were treated for chlorine gas exposure,” Lt Roger Hollenbeck of the US-led forces based near Ramadi said, AFP news agency reported.
He said that victims were treated locally “for symptoms ranging from minor skin and lung irritation to vomiting”.
Our correspondent says that two of the bombers are thought to have been targeting tribal leaders who have spoken out against al-Qaeda in Iraq.
Our correspondent says that chlorine is easy to obtain as it is widely used as a cleaner and a water purifier.
After an explosion outside a restaurant near Baghdad last month, as well as the six people killed, dozens of others were left coughing and choking and needing medical treatment.
In February the United States military reported finding a bomb factory near Falluja, where chlorine car bombs were being constructed.
In another attack near Falluja last month, not involving chlorine, more than 35 people were killed when a conventional truck bomb exploded near a mosque where the imam had criticised al-Qaeda inIraq.
Some tribal leaders in the area have openly complained about al-Qaeda’s activities.