Saturday, January 21, 2006

DAILY WAR NEWS FOR SATURDAY JANUARY 21, 2006 Photo: Cars burn after a car bomb attack in Baghdad January 21, 2006. One civilian was killed and three were wounded in the latest attack in the Iraqi capital, witnesses said. REUTERS/Stringer Bring ‘em on: Three personnel from a gas company wounded by fire from US troops in Kirkuk. Bring ‘em on: Still no information on Brazilian engineer kidnapped in Iraq one year ago. Bring ‘em on: IED wounds five on Iraq president’s staff north of Baghdad in the town of Tuz Khurmatu. Mortar attacks on two US bases near Ramadi, causing minor injuries among US soldiers. Bring ‘em on: Iraqi army major and his son and bodyguard were killed in a drive-by shooting in the town of Qadisiyah. Bring ‘em on: A car bomb exploded in the Median Market in Baghdad wounding four people. Bring ‘em on: A former Iraqi army major, Haider Mohammed, was shot outside his home in Diwaniyah. Bring ‘em on: Gunman killed three butchers standing in a street in Dora neighborhood of Baghdad. Bring ‘em on: One civilian killed and two wounded by IED intended for Iraqi police in Karbala. Bring ‘em on: Iraqi commando Ali Hussein and Baath party member Abdun Hamid found shot dead near Karbala. British contractor Stephen Enwright killed by IED on Thursday. Bring ‘em on: One died from the car bomb in Median Market (mentioned above) in Baghdad. Bring ‘em on: Gunman killed an engineer working for US military base in Dujeil (north of Baghdad) as he drove out of the base. Bring ‘em on: One person killed and two wounded by IED in Dour. Bring ‘em on: One policeman killed and another wounded by IED in al Rasheed area south of Baghdad. Bring ‘em on: Two policemen killed and six wounded by car bomb near Baquba. Bring ‘em on: Five civilians injured by IED near US base in Siniyah on Thursday. Bring ‘em on: Two Iraqi army officers killed by gunman on Saturday in Tikrit. Bring ‘em on: Four suspects detained that are believed to be involved in explosion that leveled the As Siniyah city government building on Thursday. No injuries from that explosion. Bring ‘em on: Four detained after a reported IED detonated prematurely near Tikrit. One man was injured. Bring ‘em on: Iraqi militant group kidnapped son of Iraq Defense official. Bring ‘em on: US soldiers killed six reported insurgents when tanks returned fire at a checkpoint in Ramadi. More information on the attacks against US bases in Ramadi on Friday also. These events left one Iraqi and seven US soldiers wounded. Bring ‘em on: US soldier killed in Iraq. Not confirmed by Dept of Defense. Bring ‘em on: Iraqi forces foil a plot against Shi’ite leader in Baghdad. Bring ‘em on: Two Marines killed by suicide car bomber in western Iraq. Not confirmed by Dept of Defense. REPORTS THE TRAGEDY OF IRAQ: A Town Becomes a Prison "Our city has become a battlefield," 35 year-old engineer Fuad Al-Mohandis told IPS at a checkpoint on the outskirts of the city. "So many of our houses have been destroyed, and the Americans are placing landmines in areas where they think there might be fighters, even though most of the time it is near the homes of innocent civilians." Soldiers of the 101st Airborne Division have been coming under nearly daily attack from roadside bombs. Fuad said the U.S. military was now enforcing a curfew from 5pm. He said "so many explosions occur now which terrify our children." The U.S. military began to use bulldozers Jan. 7 to build a large sand barrier around the town in an effort to isolate fighters who have been attacking U.S. patrols. Oil pipelines from the area which lead to Turkey have been regularly sabotaged by resistance groups. The drastic measures have enraged many of the 3,000 residents of the town. "They think by these measures they can stop the resistance," Amer, a 43-year-old clerk at the nearby Beji oil refinery told IPS. "But the Americans are creating more resistance by doing these things. The resistance will not stop attacking them unless they pull out of our country." THE TRAGEDY OF IRAQ: Kurds announce the discovery of a mass grave near Chamchamal. This was found during routine roadwork, and four human remains were discovered. THE TRAGEDY OF IRAQ: Iraq Rebels Plan Bombs, Not Talks After Polls Sunni Arab rebels say they are digging in for a long fight with the next Iraqi government after a December election in which large-scale Sunni voting still failed to win their community a firm grip on political power. "We'll spread snipers in all of Iraq's cities," said Abu Huda al-Aslam, a senior member of the Iraqi militant group Mujahideen Army Brigades, who served in Saddam Hussein's army. "The coming period will witness a military escalation against occupation forces and the Iraqi army. We will focus on planting roadside bombs," he added. Such attitudes, echoed by some other insurgent leaders interviewed by Reuters, contrast with hopes of U.S. and Iraqi officials that the high Sunni Arab turnout in the polls heralded success for their strategy of drawing the once-dominant minority into politics to defuse the insurgency. THE TRAGEDY OF IRAQ: Iraq Tops List of Threatened Minorities Iraq topped the report's list of areas where minorities are under threat, scoring the highest total of a combination of factors which include "major armed conflicts" and "rise of factionalised elites". Minority Rights Group International, a British advocacy organisation, found that violence was targeted at religious, ethnic and other minority groups in three-quarters of the world's conflicts in 2005. Mark Lattimer, the group's executive director, told a press conference on Thursday: "In every world region, minorities and indigenous peoples have been excluded, repressed and, in many cases, killed by their governments. In war today, the targeting of minorities is no longer the exception, but has become the norm." The group used data collected by the World Bank, conflict prevention institutes and the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development in preparing its first State of the World's Minorities report. While Lattimer acknowledged that Iraq's parliamentary elections were a huge step towards democracy, he said: "The likely result is a political pattern in Iraq which shows an increased division between different ethnic or religious groups." He cited a series of mistakes since the US-led war in 2003 which "helped encourage a division by ethnicity or by religion" starting with the decision to split up membership of the Iraqi governing council by religion. He said it has continued with one-sided criticism of insurgent killings of Shia but a failure to criticise human rights violations against Sunni civilians "by the governing forces in Iraq". NEWS: US General Describes Insurgent Fight in Northern Iraq General Turner says most of the insurgents in northern Iraq are Iraqis, but he says there are still some organized al-Qaida groups, and sometimes the Iraqi and foreign forces work together. However, the general says the goals of the two groups are different and while he has not seen any rift between them in his area he is encouraged by reports of splits between Iraqi and foreign insurgents in other parts of Iraq. General Turner also reports that the 105,000 Iraqi troops in his area are taking more and more responsibility for security operations. "We have four Iraqi battalions that have assumed battle space in our area, and one brigade," he added. "The division that has responsibility for Mosul is doing very well, and in the next couple of months they will have battalions that will begin to assume battle space in that area, and the same is true in Kirkuk." NEWS: Kurdish Court Rules out “30 year sentence” for Articles Written Criticizing KDP. A Kurdish online journal reported today that the Hewler (Erbil) Appeals Court has today rejected the decision of the Erbil Court which sentenced Dr. Kamal Sayid Qadir on 19th of December 2005 for 30 years in prison. According to “Kurdistan Net”, Dr. Kamal Sayid Qadir (48), who was kidnapped and later sentenced by the Kurdistan Democratic Party (KDP) for 30 years in prison for writing two articles criticising the leadership of the KDP, will have a fresh trial. Kurdistan Net reported that the Hewler Appeals Court has ruled that the sentence of Dr. Qadir is not appropriate and has transferred the case to a civil court, in which according to the Kurdish journal, he might either be freed or face a small fine. Observers monitoring the legal case Dr. Kamal Sayid Qadir told TheKurdistani.com that the Kurdistan Regional Government’s handling of Dr. Kamal Sayid Qadir’s case reflects the lack of the rule of law and the chaos, which faces the legal, and judiciary system in Kurdistan. There was no media presence during the sentencing of Dr. Kamal Sayid Qadir in December 2005. The news surrounding his sentence was reported solely by his family. NEWS: Families of Kenyans Kidnapped in Iraq Urge Release The families of two Kenyan telephone engineers kidnapped in Iraq appealed on Friday for their quick release saying they only went to the country to earn money. Moses Munyao and George Noballa worked for a unit of Egyptian-owned Orascom Telecom group and were snatched on Wednesday after an elaborate ambush in which at least nine of their security guards were killed on a busy Baghdad street. "I appeal to them not to harm him, all he was doing was to fend for his young family," Florence Munyao, the wife of one of the kidnapped men, told Reuters from her home in Nairobi. Many Africans go to Iraq in search of jobs that pay much better than salaries at home. LIFE IN IRAQ: The common way to warn people of a moving car is to honk the horn, and of the emergency vehicles is to use siren. A brand new way of warning people of a coming procession is used nowadays in Iraq, that’s shooting guns in air. So a driver may be totally taken by surprise by an IP or National Guard vehicle shooting in the air to make their way. The American troops use a developed method by shooting directly at cars to draw attention of other drivers. What makes such conduct dangerous, dealing with a chosen sample, is the repetition of it. As an example, in the past month two of my neighbors witnessed such incident. One of them died and the other barely escaped being killed. I’m speaking about a neighborhood of less than 35 houses and a period of time less than month. BATTLEFIELD IRAQ: Three US veterans are in a film about the war in Iraq, called “The Ground Truth”. This is a documentary film showing at the Sundance film festival. Sean Huze: It all comes down to weapons of mass destruction, for me. And they weren't there. Dick Cheney's going around accusing all of us of being revisionist now. But if you're trying to say that the war in Iraq was about anything other than WMD, that's revisionism. I don't care how many times Karl Rove, Dick Cheney, George Bush, Donald Rumsfeld, whoever, says that this war was about anything other than WMD, or that we were given a justification or rationale other than WMD. I've got a long memory, and it was only a couple of years ago. I know why I was sent to Iraq; I know why I went to war. And when that proved to be false, I think that's when we lost our credibility and our world standing. And ultimately we're in a quagmire right now. It's not like two armies went out there on a battlefield. This war was fought in an urban environment amongst the civilian population, and ultimately it is that civilian population that has paid the heaviest toll. It's difficult as a husband and as a father to reconcile who I was over there with some of the things that I saw. I mean, a dead child on the side of the road in Nasiriyah, about the same age as my son right now. And how unfeeling I was at the time about it, with who I am now, how I feel about it now. Paul Rieckhoff: Well I think, like Sean and Jimmy, when I came home I was pissed off and dissatisfied with the dialogue. In the spring of 2004, John Kerry and George Bush were throwing the Iraq war back and forth like a political football. And to be honest with you, nobody really knew what the heck they were talking about. The news media was dominated by Martha Stewart and what color pajamas Michael Jackson was wearing, and the country didn't really seem connected with the war. We felt it was about time to inject people who'd been on the ground into the discussion. We formed IAVA last summer, and have been focused primarily on trying to connect people with the war, giving them a way to get involved. Jimmy Massey: Yes, primarily the killing of innocent civilians. That's where I really began to question our overall motives. My questions to my command became, how do you tell a 25-year-old Iraqi male who just witnessed his brother being killed at a checkpoint, how do you tell this young man not to become an insurgent? So I was very critical of our mission and what we were performing and the lack of humanitarian support to the Iraqi people. Interviewer: If you could say one thing to the American people, what would you say? Sean Huze: Accountability and responsibility. I bring up these two words because the American public is largely responsible for where we are right now, therefore they are accountable for our nation's failure in Iraq and diminishing status abroad. We sat idly by and accepted the Supreme Court's anointment of George Bush. We allowed ourselves to be manipulated following 9/11 and adopted the "any Muslim will do" attitude that afforded the administration the opportunity to use 9/11 to justify Iraq, a nation that had nothing to do with the attacks. THE WAR AT HOME: US Governors Aim to Prevent Cuts in National Guard U.S. state governors called on the Pentagon Thursday not to make cuts in the National Guard, calling such a move "inconceivable" considering the role played by Guard troops in Iraq, disaster relief and homeland defense. "We need more Guard troops at this time, not less," the National Governors Association wrote to Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld in a letter signed by Govs. Mike Huckabee of Arkansas, Janet Napolitano of Arizona, Dirk Kempthorne of Idaho and Michael Easley of North Carolina. THE WAR AT HOME: Heads Roll at Veterans Administration Preventive Psychiatry E-Newsletter charged Monday that the reason Veterans Affairs Secretary Anthony Principi stepped down earlier this month was the growing scandal surrounding the use of uranium munitions in the Iraq War. Writing in Preventive Psychiatry E-Newsletter No. 169, Arthur N. Bernklau, executive director of Veterans for Constitutional Law in New York, stated, “The real reason for Mr. Principi’s departure was really never given, however a special report published by eminent scientist Leuren Moret naming depleted uranium as the definitive cause of the ‘Gulf War Syndrome’ has fed a growing scandal about the continued use of uranium munitions by the US Military.” Bernklau continued, “This malady (from uranium munitions), that thousands of our military have suffered and died from, has finally been identified as the cause of this sickness, eliminating the guessing. The terrible truth is now being revealed.” He added, “Out of the 580,400 soldiers who served in GW1 (the first Gulf War), of them, 11,000 are now dead! By the year 2000, there were 325,000 on Permanent Medical Disability. This astounding number of ‘Disabled Vets’ means that a decade later, 56% of those soldiers who served have some form of permanent medical problems!” The disability rate for the wars of the last century was 5 percent; it was higher, 10 percent, in Viet Nam. “The long-term effects have revealed that DU (uranium oxide) is a virtual death sentence,” stated Berklau. “Marion Fulk, a nuclear physical chemist, who retired from the Lawrence Livermore Nuclear Weapons Lab, and was also involved with the Manhattan Project, interprets the new and rapid malignancies in the soldiers (from the 2003 Iraq War) as ‘spectacular … and a matter of concern!’” (No mention of how DU might affect Iraqi civilians. – Susan) ELECTIONS and POLITICS IN IRAQ NEWS: Horse-trading Begins After Iraq Result Iraq's elections commission announced the final results for the December 15 elections yesterday, giving a Shia Islamist coalition just under half the seats in the country's first permanent postwar parliament. Disputes both inside the Shia-led United Iraqi Alliance and between ethnic and sectarian groups, however, mean that the formation of a government is probably weeks, if not months, away. Results may also be subject to appeal over the next few days. But as Iraqi elections officials have been checking and cross-checking allegations of irregularities for over a month it is unlikely that the count will be significantly altered. In yesterday's results the UIA took 128 seats of 275 - roughly what was forecast from preliminary counts after the election but fewer than the 146 seats won in the January poll. In an indication that Iraqi voters cast ballots largely along ethnic and sectarian lines, a Kurdish alliance took 53 seats and two predominantly Sunni Arab groupings, the Islamist-leaning Iraqi Consensus Front and the more nationalist Iraqi National Dialogue Front, took 44 and 11 seats respectively. The list of Iyad Allawi, the secular Shia former prime minister, took only 25 seats, underlining the weakness of cross-sectarian groups and independents. The coalition led by another secular-leaning Shia, Ahmed Chalabi, did not take a single seat. NEWS: Iraq Vote Turnout Over 75 % - Official Turnout in last month's Iraqi election was much higher than originally estimated, electoral data indicated on Friday, and one senior official confirmed it was more than 75 percent. Shortly after the Dec. 15 vote, the Electoral Commission estimated turnout at 70 percent. On Friday, Commission chief Hussein al-Hendawi told Reuters a final turnout figure was not yet ready but that it would be at least 75 percent. Results issued on Friday put the total number of votes cast at 12.4 million, including 0.21 million spoiled or blank ballots. That would put turnout at more than 78 percent on the basis of registered voters numbering 15.8 million, Hendawi said. Turnout in the previous election on Jan. 30 last year, when many Sunni Arabs boycotted the vote, was 58 percent. NEWS: Iraq Leaders Set for Tough Talks Iraq's political leaders are preparing for a tough round of negotiations after parliamentary elections left no party with an absolute majority. The Shia-led United Iraqi Alliance took 128 of the 275 seats, Kurdish parties 53 and the main Sunni Arab bloc 44 in results announced on Friday. The US called on all groups to work together but insisted all decisions would be taken by the Iraqi parties. Some Sunnis still allege poll fraud and may challenge the result. When the results are confirmed, President Jalal Talabani will have two weeks to convene parliament, which will choose a new president within a month. NEWS: Iraq’ Talabani, Barzani Agree to One Kurdistan Government Iraqi President Jalal Talabani and Kurdish regional president Massud Barzani signed an agreement that paves the way for a single administration to run their autonomous northern region. Until now Barzani's Kurdistan Democratic Party was solely responsible for running Arbil and Dohuk, while Talabani's Patriotic Union of Kurdistan ran Sulaimaniyah province. However the agreement does not merge the PUK's and KDP's departments of interior, finance, justice or peshmerga forces. "This is an important development which will protect Kurdistan which has become a solid base for democracy, unity and national accord," Talabani said. Barzani said a sole administration would "help reclaim other parts of Kurdistan," in a reference to the ethnically mixed oil-hub of Kirkuk that Kurds consider their own, located just south of their autonomous region. Since 1998, rivalries between the two formerly warring Kurdish factions have prevented repeated attempts to set up a joint administration. The move, originally announced on January 7, was approved by the Kurdish regional parliament after an extraordinary session in Arbil. NEWS: Some Iraqis Seek Constitutional Amendments Under a deal to win Sunni Arab support for the constitution, parliament must consider amendments in its first four months. If legislators approve the changes, they will be sent to voters in a new referendum. The main issues of contention: The influence of religion on daily life. One clause prohibits any law that "contradicts the established provisions of Islam," raising concerns about whether Iraq will become a Muslim theocracy like neighboring Iran. The constitution divides the country along ethnic and religious lines into three largely self-governing regions. Some see this as the best way to protect the interests of each group, but others worry it is a formula for civil war. Because each region will control future oil discoveries in its own area, the Sunni minority, which lives in the oil-poor center, may not benefit equally from the riches. The constitution does little to protect women's or human rights. And many of the constitution's provisions are unclear or contradictory, raising doubts that it can serve as a set of rules for self-government. NEWS: Shiite-Kurd Bloc Falls Just Short in Iraqi Election The first official results in Iraq's landmark December elections showed Friday that the Shiite and Kurdish coalitions once again dominated the voting, but came up just short of the two-thirds majority needed to form a government on their own. Sunni Arab parties won 58 of the new Parliament's 275 seats - the second-largest bloc of seats - giving them a much stronger political voice than they had before. That raised hopes that the Sunnis, who dominate the insurgency, might choose the political process over violence, and underscored the looming question of what role they would play as Iraq's leaders begin negotiating in earnest to form their first full-term government. COMMENTARY OPINION: Returning Home Alive On January 16th, after having talked quite normally on the phone with at least two other people that same day, Douglas Barber, a member of Iraq Veterans Against the War (IVAW) living in Lee County, Alabama, changed the answer-message on his telephone. "If you're looking for Doug," it said in his Alabama drawl, "I'm checking out of this world. I'll see you on the other side." He then called the police, collected his shotgun, and went out onto his porch to meet them. From the sketchy reports we have now, it seems the police wouldn't oblige him with a "suicide by cop" and tried to talk him down. When it became apparent he wasn't able to commit cop-suicide, 27-year-old Douglas Barber did an about-face, rotated the shotgun and killed himself. We do know, from Doug's interviews, that the stress of those convoys - each confronting its participants with the possibility that this could be one's last road trip - were hard on Doug. In July 2003, his convoy was hit with an improvised explosive device, and the mortar attacks at Anaconda were so regular that they were almost a weather pattern. But Doug said there was something else that was even harder on him. When the grunts came in, they would describe how many civilians they'd killed. When Doug was in a traffic jam one day, feeling very vulnerable, and the US units dismounted to clear the traffic jam - angry and afraid and waving weapons at the civilians - a woman in a bus held up her baby for them to see ... like that window-sign we see in cars on American highways, "Baby on Board." Only she wasn't cautioning other drivers to be careful. She was trying to prevent an armed attack that could kill her child. Post-traumatic stress is not a disorder. Calling it that earns it a place in the DSM IV, professionalizes and medicalizes this very accurate perception that the world is not safe, and that life is not a comforting film convention. Calling it an individual "disorder" cloaks the social systems responsible for experiences like Vietnam and Iraq. (Military recruiters….) went, as they have always done, to places like Lee County, Alabama, where simple people have formed powerful affective attachments to the myth of our national moral superiority. When that world view, that architecture of meaning, collapses in the face of realities like convoy Russian roulette, and women holding babies up to prevent being shot, and daily stories of slaughter by the people one sleeps with, the profound betrayal of it is not experienced as some quiet, somber sadness. It is experienced like bees swarming out of a hive that has been broken, as a howling chaos. OPINION: Not. Backing. Hillary. If no one in conventional-wisdom politics has the courage to speak up and say what needs to be said, then you go out and find some obscure junior senator from Minnesota with the guts to do it. In 1968, Gene McCarthy was the little boy who said out loud, "Look, the emperor isn't wearing any clothes." Bobby Kennedy -- rough, tough Bobby Kennedy -- didn't do it. Just this quiet man trained by Benedictines who liked to quote poetry. What kind of courage does it take, for mercy's sake? The majority of the American people (55 percent) think the war in Iraq is a mistake and that we should get out. The majority (65 percent) of the American people want single-payer health care and are willing to pay more taxes to get it. The majority (86 percent) of the American people favor raising the minimum wage. The majority of the American people (60 percent) favor repealing Bush's tax cuts, or at least those that go only to the rich. The majority (66 percent) wants to reduce the deficit not by cutting domestic spending, but by reducing Pentagon spending or raising taxes. The majority (77 percent) thinks we should do "whatever it takes" to protect the environment. The majority (87 percent) thinks big oil companies are gouging consumers and would support a windfall profits tax. That is the center, you fools. WHO ARE YOU AFRAID OF? OPINION: US Has Hidden Agenda in Iraq: Official Security, stability, the installation of the new government, the problem of insurgents creating terror and the increase of oil production to reach the Saddam Hussain era level are the among main issues that Iraq and the country’s people are mainly concerned with, a senior Iraqi government official has said here yesterday. Speaking to the Khaleej Times exclusively, on the sidelines of the three-day Fifth Middle East Refining and Petrochemicals Conference and Exhibition (Petrotech 2006) that opened here yesterday, Riyadh Al Ani, the head of the Iraqi delegation to the event who is from the Studies, Planning and Follow-up Directorate at his country’s Ministry of Oil, also said that the majority of Iraqis were not happy with the continued presence of the US-led coalition forces in Iraq, and that they were particularly against the Americans, because “most of them believe that the US is in Iraq for its own hidden agenda and interest, and not for Iraq or Iraqis, as it is being projected.” When asked to elaborate, he said that “if attacking Iraq and liberating the country by toppling the Saddam Hussain regime, was the agenda, then there is no explanation for overstaying in the country for them a day longer once that objective was accomplished.” He also underlined that the US veil of “restoring democracy in Iraq, is all lies.” OPINION: After The War The war against Iraq, the assault on its people, the occupation of its cities, will come to an end, sooner or later. The process has already begun. The first signs of mutiny are appearing in Congress. The first editorials calling for withdrawal from Iraq are beginning to appear in the press. The anti-war movement has been growing, slowly but persistently, all over the country. And while we work with increased determination to make this happen, should we not think beyond this war? Should we begin to think, even before this shameful war is over, about ending our addiction to massive violence and instead using the enormous wealth of our country for human needs? That is, should we begin to speak about ending war - not just this war or that war, but war itself? Perhaps the time has come to bring an end to war, and turn the human race onto a path of health and healing. There is a persistent argument against such a possibility, which I have heard from people on all parts of the political spectrum: We will never do away with war because it comes out of human nature. The most compelling counter to that claim is in history: We don't find people spontaneously rushing to make war on others. What we find, rather, is that governments must make the most strenuous efforts to mobilize populations for war. They must entice soldiers with promises of money, education, must hold out to young people whose chances in life look very poor that here is an opportunity to attain respect and status. And if those enticements don't work, governments must use coercion: They must conscript young people, force them into military service, threaten them with prison if they do not comply. Furthermore, the government must persuade young people and their families that though the soldier may die, though he or she may lose arms or legs, or become blind, that it is all for a noble cause, for God, for country. War, I decided, creates, insidiously, a common morality for all sides. It poisons everyone who is engaged in it, however different they are in many ways, turns them into killers and torturers, as we are seeing now. It pretends to be concerned with toppling tyrants, and may in fact do so, but the people it kills are the victims of the tyrants. It appears to cleanse the world of evil, but that does not last, because its very nature spawns more evil. Wars, like violence in general, I concluded, is a drug. It gives a quick high, the thrill of victory, but that wears off and then comes despair. OPINION: Wolfowitz Busy Neo-Conning the World Bank Wolfowitz, architect of America's failing foray into Iraq as Rumsfeld's former Deputy at the Pentagon, now heads the World Bank and finally seems like his true self is coming out of the closet. In recent months, picking up steam in recent weeks, there has been a massive exodus of top talent from the World Bank. According to reports, the senior Ethics Officer at the Bank has departed. Also on the exit roster are the Vice President for East Asia & Pacific, the Chief Legal Counsel, the Bank's top Managing Director, the Director of Institutional Integrity (which monitors internal and external corruption), the Vice President for Environmentally and Socially Sustainable Development, and the head of ISG (Information Solutions Group). "He is appointing political hacks into positions that should be filled by highly qualified personnel through competitive and transparent processes." OPINION: War on Iraq: A Formula for Slaughter How the US military’s new strategy in Iraq guarantees massive civilian casualties, not victory. A little over a year ago, a group of Johns Hopkins researchers reported that about 100,000 Iraqi civilians had died as a result of the Iraq war during its first 14 months, with about 60,000 of the deaths directly attributable to military violence by the U.S. and its allies. The study, published in The Lancet, the highly respected British medical journal, applied the same rigorous, scientifically validated methods that the Hopkins researchers had used in estimating that 1.7 million people had died in the Congo in 2000. Though the Congo study had won the praise of the Bush and Blair administrations and had become the foundation for U.N, Security Council and State Department actions, this study was quickly declared invalid by the U.S. government and by supporters of the war. This dismissal was hardly surprising, but after a brief flurry of protest, even the anti-war movement (with a number of notable exceptions) has largely ignored the ongoing carnage that the study identified. One reason the Hopkins study did not generate sustained outrage is that the researchers did not explain how the occupation had managed to kill so many people so quickly -- about 1,000 each week in the first 14 months of the war. This may reflect our sense that carnage at such elevated levels requires a series of barbaric acts of mass slaughter and/or huge battles that would account for staggering numbers of Iraqis killed. With the exception of the battle of Falluja, these sorts of high-profile events have simply not occurred in Iraq. The Real Rules of Engagement in Iraq We can gain some perspective on this military strategy by imagining similar rules of engagement for an American police force in some large city. Imagine, for example, a team of criminals in that city fleeing into a nearby apartment building after gunning down a policeman. It would be unthinkable for the police to simply call in airships to demolish the structure, killing any people -- helpless hostages, neighbors or even friends of the perpetrators -- who were with or near them. In fact, the rules of engagement for the police, even in such a situation of extreme provocation, call for them to "hold their fire" -- if necessary allowing the perpetrators to escape -- if there is a risk of injuring civilians. And this is a reasonable rule because we value the lives of innocent American citizens over our determination to capture a criminal, even a cop killer. But in Iraqi cities, our values and priorities are quite differently arranged. The contrast derives from three important principles under which the Iraq war is being fought: that the war should be conducted to absolutely minimize the risk to American troops; that guerrilla fighters should not be allowed to escape if there is any way to capture or kill them; and that Iraqi civilians should not be allowed to harbor or encourage the resistance fighters. As one American officer explained to New York Times reporter Dexter Filkins, the willingness to sacrifice local civilians is part of a larger strategy in which U.S. military power is used to "punish not only the guerrillas, but also make clear to ordinary Iraqis the cost of not cooperating." A Marine calling in to a radio talk show recently stated the argument more precisely: "You know why those people get killed? It's because they're letting insurgents hide in their house." This is, by the way, is the textbook definition of terrorism -- attacking a civilian population to get it to withdraw support from the enemy. What this strategic orientation, applied wherever American troops fight the Iraqi resistance, represents is an embrace of terrorism as a principle tactic for subduing Iraq's insurgency. POLITICS: Women’s Anti-War Petition Circles the Globe Eminent female writers, artists, lawmakers and social activists in the United States are reaching out to women leaders across the world in an attempt to forge a global alliance against the U.S.-led war in Iraq. A U.S.-based women's group has launched a global campaign to gather 100,000 signatures by Mar. 8, International Women's Day, when they will be delivered to the White House and U.S. embassies around the world. "We are unleashing a global chorus of women's voices shouting, 'Enough!" said Medea Benjamin, cofounder of CODEPINK: Women for Peace, a California-based rights advocacy group that has spearheaded the global women's campaign, called "Women Say No to War". Describing the initial response to the group's call for signatures as "overwhelming", Benjamin says that more than 200 high-profile women from various walks of life endorsed the campaign even before it was launched earlier this month. The petition can be signed HERE. POLITICS: Progressive Members of Congress to Offer Progressive Alternative State of the Union Members of the Congressional Progressive Caucus (CPC) will present an alternative, inclusive, and uplifting vision for the United States of America on the morning of the President's State of the Union address. The Members will convene a special forum at the Democratic National Committee headquarters to propose a new direction for the country and articulate concrete plans for achieving change. The meeting will feature Progressive Caucus leaders discussing issues ranging from how to bring our troops home from Iraq to ending the Republican culture of corruption and cronyism to healthcare reform to rebuilding New Orleans and the Gulf Coast and achieving broad-based economic growth. "The Congressional Progressive Caucus has a bold vision for America," said Rep. Woolsey. "Our agenda speaks to hard working Americans who play by the rules and want a bright future for themselves and their families." “We offer a fresh, vigorous alternative for the 21st century, and we’re going to present an unapologetic plan that offers hope and a better quality of life for all Americans--- not just the powerful and privileged,” said U.S Representative Barbara Lee (D-CA), Co-Chair of the CPC. PEACE ACTION: URGENT APPEAL TO SAVE IRAQ’S ACADEMICS A little known aspect of the tragedy engulfing Iraq is the systematic liquidation of the country's academics. Even according to conservative estimates, over 250 educators have been assassinated, and many hundreds more have disappeared. With thousands fleeing the country in fear for their lives, not only is Iraq undergoing a major brain drain, the secular middle class — which has refused to be co-opted by the US occupation — is being decimated, with far-reaching consequences for the future of Iraq. This situation is a mirror of the occupation as a whole: a catastrophe of staggering proportions unfolding in a climate of criminal disregard. As an occupying power, and under international humanitarian law, final responsibility for protecting Iraqi citizens, including academics, lies with the United States. With this petition we want to break the silence. We appeal to organisations which work to enforce or defend international humanitarian law to put these crimes on the agenda. We request that an independent international investigation be launched immediately to probe these extrajudicial killings. This investigation should also examine the issue of responsibility to clearly identify who is accountable for this state of affairs. We appeal to the special rapporteur on summary executions at UNHCHR in Geneva. -------------------------------------- You can sign this petition by clicking HERE. CASUALTY REPORTS Local Story: Minnesota native killed by IED in Iraq. Local Story: Ohio soldier died in Iraq from illness. Local Story: What does one say to the family of Sarasota’s first Iraq war casualty? Local Story: Services to Honor Fallen Army Pilot from North Carolina QUOTE OF THE DAY: "As nightfall does not come all at once, neither does oppression. In both instances, there is a twilight when everything remains seemingly unchanged. And it is in such twilight that we all must be aware of change in the air however slight, lest we become unwitting victims of the darkness." -Justice William O. Douglas


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