DAILY WAR NEWS FOR TUESDAY, October 31, 2006
: Iraqis celebrate on the streets of Sadr City. Iraqi Shiite militants have won a major political victory
when Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki ordered US and Iraqi units to lift a blockade around the flashpoint Baghdad suburb of Sadr City.(AFP/Wissam Al-Okaili) [It's the first time I've noticed a pertinent news commentary being "reserved" for a photo caption; my emphasis; see below – zig]
U.S. troops abandoned checkpoints around the Shiite militia stronghold of Sadr City on orders from Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki
, the latest in a series of moves by the Iraqi leader to assert his authority with the U.S. administration. (…)
U.S. forces disappeared from the checkpoints within hours of the order to remove the around-the-clock barriers by 5:00 p.m. (1400 GMT), setting off celebrations among civilians and armed men gathered on the edge of the sprawling slum that is under the control of the Mahdi Army militia run by radical anti-American cleric Muqtada al-Sadr.
Iraqi troops loaded coils of barbed wire and red traffic cones onto pickup trucks, while small groups of men and children danced in circles chanting slogans praising al-Sadr, who earlier Tuesday had ordered the area closed to the Iraqi government until U.S. troops lifted what he called their "siege" of the neighborhood.
Extra checkpoints were set up last week as U.S. troops launched an intensive search for a missing soldier, who has yet to be found.
Shortly after leaving Sadr city, U.S. troops dismantled other checkpoints in the downtown Karradah neighborhood where the soldier had been abducted, loading barbed wire coils onto their Stryker armored vehicles.
Al-Maliki's statement said U.S.-manned checkpoints "should not be taken except during nighttime curfew hours and emergencies."
Bring ‘em on
: A Multi-National Division-Baghdad Soldier died at approximately 5:30 p.m. Monday when the vehicle he was riding in was struck by an improvised-explosive device south of Baghdad. (MNF – Iraq)
Bring ‘em on
: A Multi-National Division - Baghdad Soldier died at approximately 5 p.m. Monday when he was hit by small-arms fire while conducting combat operations in western Baghdad. (MNF – Iraq)
US death toll hits 103 in Iraq in OctoberOTHER SECURITY INCIDENTS
A suicide car bomber struck a wedding party in Baghdad killing 10 people
, including four children, and wounding 12, police reported. The bomber drove an explosives-rigged sedan into a crowd of celebrants preparing to board vehicles outside the bride's home in the capital's northeastern Shaab neighborhood.
A car bomb detonated in the neighbourhood of Sadr City, killing three people.
Nine others were also wounded in the blast, which occurred outside a family court on the area's Palestine Street, close to the entrance of the neighbourhood.
One Iraqi policeman was killed and three others were wounded when an explosive device targeting their patrol was detonated in eastern Baghdad's al-Gadeedah district.
Clashes were reported between Iraqi army and police forces and militants in the al-Khadraa district in western Baghdad.
Sources said the firefight continued for 30 minutes until US forces were deployed in the area. No information on casualties was however immediately available.
Five unidentified bodies were found in Baghdad bearing bullet wounds and evidence of torture.
Police commando unit commander Ali Abdul-Kadhim was killed by unknown gunmen in a car
while standing near his home in eastern Baghdad.
One Baghdad-based soldier died at about 5:00 p.m. on Monday after being hit by small arms fire in a western district of the capital.
Clashes between gunmen and police left a policeman dead and three others wounded in Baquba
, 65 km (40 miles) north of Baghdad.
Gunmen suspected of belonging to a militia run by Moqtada al-Sadr shot and wounded the owners of two shops in Baquba.
The bodies of eight people were found, bound and gagged, in Baquba.
All the victims were shot in the head.
An Iraqi policeman and a young boy were killed while 4 other policemen were wounded when militants opened fire on a police patrol
in al-Mafraq district in western Baquba.
A police officer was killed and two others wounded when a roadside bomb targeted their patrol in the city's southern Kanaan district.
Six Iraqis were meanwhile killed by militants in the al- Moallemeen, al-Garage al-Mowahhad, Abu Sida and al-Tahrir districts of Baquba.
The bodies of three people were retrieved from the Tigris river in the town of Suwayra.
Five more bodies in similar condition were floating in the Tigris River near Suwayrah
, 40 kilometers (25 miles) south of Baghdad.
The bodies of five gunmen were found in an orchard
which was the scene of clashes between gunmen and the police several days ago near the town of Suwayra, 40 km (25 miles) south of Baghdad.
One Iraqi coastguard soldier was killed while another was wounded in an exchange of fire with offshore smugglers in Basra
, 550 kilometres south of Baghdad. Security sources said clashes with the smugglers were ongoing since since Monday night in an area called Shalhat al-Aghwat, near the border with Iran. Ten smugglers were arrested and 100 cars and boats used to smuggle fuel and goods in an out of the country were confiscated.
More than 40 people are missing after armed kidnappers ambushed minibuses travelling to Baghdad
on a main road north of the Iraqi capital on Tuesday, police in the city of Tikrit said. An Iraqi spokesman for the Joint Coordination Centre of the Iraqi police and U.S. forces in the mainly Sunni Arab province of Salahaddin said "about 42" people were missing after the incident near Tarmiya, 30 km (20 miles) north of Baghdad.
Unidentified gunmen ambushed a convoy of some 16 minibuses and kidnapped up to 42 people
, including tribal leaders and prominent persons from the towns of Balad and Dujail. The convoy was carrying a delegation heading to Baghdad to meetIraq's top officials, including Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki, when they were attacked by gunmen in Tarmiya area, some 40 km north of Baghdad.
Police found four bodies, including that of a policeman, in different parts of Mosul
, north of Baghdad.
A roadside bomb targeting an Iraqi army convoy injured one soldier in Mosul.
Three Iraqis were reportedly killed when a US patrol opened fire on their car as it approached their patrol in Mosul.
The incident occurred in the al-Mithaq district in eastern Mosul, security sources said, adding that the US soldiers suspected that the occupants of the car were militants.
An Iraqi army soldier died in clashes with gunmen in Falluja
, 50 km (30 miles) west of Baghdad.
Four gunmen and an Iraqi army soldier were killed in clashes in the town of Tal Afar
, about 420 km (260 miles) north of Baghdad.
Iraq is to ask the UN Security Council to renew the mandate governing the presence of US-led forces in the country for another year
, said Hoshiyar Zebari, its foreign minister.
Zebari said that despite differences between the US and Iraq over security, there was "no rift whatsoever" between the two over the ultimate goal of a democratic Iraq.
"We believe still there is a need and the presence of the multinational force is indispensable for the security and stability of Iraq and of the region at the moment."
"At the same time, the Iraqi government is ... willing to take more security responsibilities from these forces to do its part."
UN Security Council resolution 1637, which mandates the US-led presence, expires on December 31.
Tony Blair faced the possibility of a damaging defeat in parliament in a vote on whether he should order an inquiry into how Britain joined the war in Iraq.
In a stormy debate ahead of the evening vote, Foreign Secretary Margaret Beckett defended the government's opposition to the move, saying it would signal uncertainty and endanger Britain's 7,000 troops in the war-torn country. (…)
The call for an immediate investigation by a committee of senior MPs was proposed by the minority Scottish and Welsh nationalist parties, who used the debate to lash the US-led war as a "monumental catastrophe."
Arab Links: TRIBAL GROUP PLANS MOBILIZATION AGAINST FEDERALISM
Something called the Central Council for Iraqi and Arab Tribes, headed by Ali al-Faris al-Dulaimi, and a related group called the Republican Gathering, described their current activities as the start of a nation-wide mobilization for national unity, and reported on the first two general meetings, the first for tribes in the area around Baghdad, and the second in Karbala, with participation of a lot of tribes in the Middle Euphrates district, stressing that in both cases the consensus was opposition to any form of federalism. The statement said those promoting federalism as a cover for their narrow interests will earn nothing but disappointment and loss, because the tribes of Iraq have prepared themselves for the sacrifices that will be necessary in the struggle for the preservation of the unity of Iraq, its honor, and its sovereignty.
read in full…
Arab Links: ONE US-COUP CANDIDATE TAKEN TO AMMAN FOR SAFEKEEPING
As noted a couple of days ago, Azzaman
reported on the weekend details of what Washington had in mind as a possible military government for Iraq, and one of the points was there could be nine to eleven military people involved. Today's Al-Quds al-Arabi
(Tuesday October 31) tells what happened to one of these persons already, Muhammad Abdullah al-Shahwani, described as head of Iraqi intelligence. Citing sources close to Shahwani in London, the paper says US forces had to suddenly airlift him to Amman after learning of a plan to assassinate him, along with members of his group. The Americans told Shahwani to stay in Amman until further notice, and someone else has been appointed to replace him as head of Iraqi intelligence. This report says the supposed assassination plot was involved "armed militia tasked with the protection and escort of senior officials in the government and ministers, and the protection of their houses in the Green Zone".
The journalist adds: Shahwani's name has been one of those repeatedly mentioned as one of the "American candidates for an role in the military government "which Washington is rumored to be planning to set up in Baghdad at the end of this year." The latter point about rumored timing is new. The Azzaman
item cited above implied this might be a November 7 thing.
read in full…
BBC: LANCET AUTHOR ANSWERS YOUR QUESTIONS
A recent report published in the medical journal The Lancet
estimated that around 655,000 people have died in Iraq as a result of the 2003 invasion.
This figure, which is far higher than those reported in Iraq, resulted in claims that the survey had been exaggerated.
Les Roberts, one of the report's authors, answered some of your questions on the methodology and findings.
How do you know that you are not reporting the same fatality multiple times? For example, if you were to ask people in the UK if they know anyone who has been involved in a traffic accident most would say they do. Applying your logic that means there are 60 million accidents every year. _Andrew M, London, UK
To be recorded as a death in a household, the decedent had to have spent most of the nights during the three months before their death "sleeping under the same roof" with the household that was being interviewed. This may have made us undercount some, but addressed your main concern that no two households could claim the same death event.
The Lancet has been overrun by left-wing sixth formers. The report has a flawed methodology and the counting process shows signs of deceit. _Ian, Whitwick, UK
This study was the standard approach for measuring mortality in times of war, it went through a rigorous peer-review process and it probably could have been accepted into any of the journals that cover war and public health.
Can you explain, if your figures are correct, why 920 more people were dying each day than officially recorded by the Iraqi Ministry of Health - implying huge fraud and/or incompetence on their behalf? _Dan, Scotland
It is really difficult to collect death information in a war zone! In 2002, in Katana Health Zone in eastern Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) there was a terrible meningitis outbreak where the zone was supported by the Belgian Government, with perhaps the best disease surveillance network in the entire country. A survey by the NGO International Rescue Committee showed that only 7% of those meningitis deaths were recorded by the clinics and hospitals and government officials.
You and your colleagues claim to have used the same method to estimate deaths in Iraq as is used to estimate deaths in natural disasters. Is there any evidence that the method is accurate?_Rickard Loe, Stockholm, Sweden
That is a good question. In 1999, again in Katana Health Zone in the Congo, I led a mortality survey where we walked a grid over the health zone and interviewed 41 clusters of five houses at 1km spacings. In that survey, we estimated that 1,600 children had died of measles in the preceding half year. A couple of weeks later we did a standard immunization coverage survey that asked about measles deaths and we found an identical result.
Why is it so hard for people to believe
The Lancet report? I am an Iraqi and can assure you that the figure given is nearer to the truth than any given before or since._S Kazwini, London, UK
I think it is hard to accept these results for a couple of reasons. People do not see the bodies. Secondly, people feel that all those government officials and all those reporters must be detecting a big portion of the deaths. When in actuality during times of war, it is rare for even 20% to be detected.
It seems to me that the timing of the publication of the 2004 and 2006 reports - in both cases shortly before a U.S. election - was a mistake. _Mik Ado, London, UK
Both were unfortunate timing. As I said at the time of the first study, I lived in fear that our Iraqi colleagues and interviewers would be killed if we had finished a survey in mid-September and it took two months for the results to get out. I think in Iraq, a post-election publication in 2004 would have been seen as my colleagues knowing something but keeping it hidden.
read in full…
>> COMMENTARY AND ANALYSIS
LOSING HOPE AND POWER IN IRAQ
With the death toll among the U.S. military in Iraq for October hitting 100 and the American President's current approval ratings stuck below 40 per cent, the Bush administration, struggling to win the public support ahead of the country's mid-term congressional elections, seems re-thinking its Iraq war strategy.
Also political experts say that the American President seems to have given up his alleged mission of bringing democracy to Iraq; instead he's looking for an honourable exit strategy.
The Washington Post
reported yesterday that October 2006 may be remembered as the month that "the U.S. experience in Iraq hit a tipping point, when the violence flared and shook both the military command in Iraq and the political establishment back in Washington".
read in full...
CATAPULTING THE PROPAGANDA WITH THE WASHINGTON POST
The ever persipacious Angry Arab, As'ad AbuKhalil, plucks out the hidden (or not-so-hidden) propaganda in a passing phrase in an otherwise unremarkable Washington Post
story about Syria. Let the good doctor tell it in his own words:
[From the WP]: "Horror at the bloodshed accompanying the U.S. effort to bring democracy to Iraq has accomplished what human rights activists, analysts and others say Syrian President Bashar al-Assad had been unable to do by himself: silence public demands for democratic reforms here." (Notice the casual language of the Washington Post. Notice how they insert propaganda lines into articles. "US effort to bring democracy in Iraq"? Are you kidding me? Does the writer of the article really believe that this was what it was about?)
Here we see the falsity of the supposed "objectivity" fetish of the mainstream media laid bare. The fetish is entirely focused on the word "objectivity," never on its practice. There is nothing remotely objective about using "the U.S. effort to bring democracy to Iraq" as a standard descriptor of the war and occupation. It is not an any way a neutral reflection of reality. It simply parrots a Bush Administration propaganda point without question, without nuance.
You can see what the reporter, Ellen Knickmeyer, is trying to do here, I suppose. The article deals with the collapse of reform movements in Syria because "advocates of democracy are equated now with supporters of America, even 'traitors,' said Maan Abdul Salam, 36, a Damascus publisher who has coordinated conferences on women's rights and similar topics...'The people are not believing these thoughts anymore. When the U.S. came to Iraq, it came in the name of democracy and freedom. But all we see are bodies, bodies, bodies.'"
So Knickmeyer wants to set up an ironic contrast: the Americans say they're in Iraq to bring democracy to the Middle East, but the bloody quagmire they've created is having the opposite effect, which is a demonstrable, undeniable reality. She could have done this easily, while remaining well within the dogma of the "objectivity" word cult, simply by attributing the war motive of "bringing democracy" to the Bush Administration, rather than embracing it as an unquestioned fact.
But to do that would mean breaking with the iron-clad conventional wisdom of Beltway journalism: the war in Iraq is yet another noble cause gone FUBAR because it "wasn't done right." (This is also the prevailing wisdom of much of the Democratic Party as well.)
read in full...
IRAQ'S DEFIANT BUT DOOMED DEMOCRACY
The Bush administration is finding out the hard way that a democratic Iraq is not likely to be cowed or bullied into following the priorities of congressional elections that will be held on November 7 in the United States.
Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki has started to act in the manner of a proud democratically elected leader who will do what is best for Iraq. President George W Bush wanted democracy in Iraq; now he is getting a taste of how the head of a democracy deals with another democracy, even when one of the parties is also an occupying force. (...)
With regard to Maliki and the issue of a timetable for curbing violence, two points should be made. First, the primary audience of Khalilzad's comments at his briefing, along with the top commander of US forces in Iraq, General George Casey, was not Iraqis or anyone else in the Middle East. They were an attempt to reassure US voters, who are increasingly questioning Bush's Iraq policies.
Second, the event was also an attempt to show that the administration is really on top of things, and this includes trying to stamp out Shi'ite militias, which are now being blamed for most of the sectarian violence. The US wanted to twist Maliki's arm into giving a timetable for this, as if this would resolve everything.
Maliki was on to the American game. He used a nationally televised press conference of his own to publicize his agenda to Iraqis.
Thus it seems two campaigns are in progress to win hearts and minds. While Khalilzad and Casey are attempting to influence Americans, Maliki has started his own campaign of defiance, which has a high probability of winning support from a majority of Iraqis.
read in full...
THE U.S. FEAR OF LOSING POWER WHICH IT DOESN'T HAVE
So, it is not the U.S. administration that has failed [in Iraq]. It is those who presented the war as a noble project and sold it to the public as such have failed.
The question is, where does the U.S. go from here? Will it fail? Will it withdraw from Iraq? Should the Western governments go into sobering reassessments and launch contingency plans for the consequences of a possible American failure in Iraq?
The simple answer to these questions is that the United States is going nowhere. Despite the much publicized time tables for withdrawal, the U.S. will never leave Iraq. It will never admit defeat until it is removed from its imperial pedestal. So, will the Iraq war leave the United States in a position in which former Soviet Union found itself after its war in Afghanistan? The answer is no. Iraq is not capable of doing so, but the United States is. It can undermine itself. That will happen as a result of the next wars on the U.S. agenda.
America's inability to learn from history is unlikely to be remedied by the humiliation of failure in Iraq, which is not considered as a failure in the myopic circles which are busy planning next wars. But if one simple lesson is too hard for Washington to grasp, perhaps the rest of the world can hold the following idea in mind and use it to restrain the United States from any future efforts to impose its ignorance on others.
In a contest between foreign power and native resistance, foreign power - however much material and military strength it can wield - will always lose regardless of staying in the Urban center or outside in the deserts and mountains. Even in an era when a sense of racial superiority and colonial entitlement led Western nations to have few qualms about subjugating others, eventually native power based on native knowledge and determined resistance would reassert itself. Nowadays the reclamation of power asserts itself much more quickly but it always rises out of the same awareness: this is our land, not yours; it is our life and we must live our way of life
The tragedy is that American leadership, both democrat and republican, does not seem to be in a position to understand and recognize that vis-à-vis the world suffering under its de facto colonization, the United States does not now possess the power that it fears losing
. This denial of the reality will keep pushing it into more wars regardless of who is in power in Washington. That will ensure the actual failure of the United States and total destruction in the rest of the world it is trying to conquer completely.
FORMER BUSH SPEECHWRITER MELTS DOWN. TOTALLY AND COMPLETELY.
And they call us deranged.
I hate the Democrats who, in support of this strategy, spout lie after lie: that the president knew in advance there were no WMD in Iraq; that he lied to Congress to gain its support for military action; that he pushed for the democratization of Iraq only after the failure to find WMD; that he was a unilateralist and that the coalition was a fraud; that he shunned diplomacy in favor of war.
Jesus. Sombody give the little twerp a good smack. He's obviously suffering from Impending Electoral Smackdown Derangement Syndrome.
THE SUBJECT THAT REFUSES TO BE CHANGED
From the Associated Press this morning:
The American death toll for October climbed past 100, a grim milestone reached as a top White House envoy turned up unexpectedly in Baghdad on Monday to smooth over a rough patch in U.S.-Iraqi ties. At least 80 people were killed across Iraq, 33 in a Sadr City bombing targeting workers.
A member of the 89th Military Police Brigade was killed in east Baghdad Monday, and a Marine died in fighting in insurgent infested Anbar province the day before, raising to 101 the number of U.S. service members killed in a bloody October, the fourth deadliest month of the war. At least 2,814 American forces have died since the war began.
And with that, another couple of million dollars in Republican negative ads over the weekend just went to waste.
"WELL, I WOULDN'T BE HAPPY"
A friend of mine in Baghdad wrote to me a few days ago about a conversation he'd had with an elderly lady from West Virginia who was seated next to him on an airplane between Los Angeles and Washington earlier this year. The subject under discussion was how Iraqis generally view the American invasion and occupation of Iraq, and my friend was trying to find an analogy that would work for a sweet eighty-five-year-old grandmother who had never traveled anywhere beyond the USA in her life. He came up with this:
Imagine you are visiting with one of your daughters who is married to a man who is a bit of a brute. He beats the kids occasionally and has knocked her about from time to time as well. You don't like it, she doesn't like it, the kids don't like it, but at the end of the day he's Dad, he works hard, he provides, and no one's going to break up the family after all this time - besides, the monster's mellowing with age and hasn't hit anyone very hard in a long while.
So there you all are, watching TV one night, the kids doing their homework or playing downstairs, your daughter preparing dinner in the kitchen, the son-in-law having his beer and reading the sports page....When all of a sudden, the front door is smashed open, there are loud explosions all around the house, and five men come crashing in through the windows on ropes, as another five pour through the broken door firing guns.
One of the kids is killed, another staggers around covered in blood screaming, a third lies groaning somewhere nearby, then flames erupt from the kitchen as your daughter runs out, her body on fire, and you feel something smash into your knee breaking the leg. Before anyone can work out what's happening, there's another terrifying explosion above and the house rocks from side to side as the roof caves in and the whole structure collapses around you in rubble and dust. As you wipe the gravel and concrete from your face, you see that some of the intruders have handcuffed the son-in-law and are dragging him away at gunpoint. One of these gunmen then comes over and identifies himself as a representative of the Chinese Children's Aid Society of Beijing, saying they would have come sooner but they had trouble getting visas.
They were here now, though, and your family was at last free of the brute and you could finally relax. Another gunman sweeps a bit of rubble to one side with a broom and apologizes for the mess, giving you the business card of a local contractor who also happens to be a friend of his brother and specializes in fixing houses reduced to rubble for a reasonable price. The men then say in a chorus, Have a nice day! They throw the brute into a van and are off leaving you sitting there alone in the dark with raindrops starting to pitter-patter on your head. How do you think you would you feel about all this?
"Well, I wouldn't be happy," the old lady apparently replied.
"And that's pretty much how we feel," said my friend.read in full...
ARE RATS AIRLIFTED OFF A SINKING SHIP?
The Republicans can't decide whether they should renovate him [Bush] or pull him down. They have to build another one anyway, but is it credible to hang him out to dry so soon? Should he seem to have a plan for Iraq? Should he actually have a plan? What happens when rats leave a sinking ship? Are they okay? How do they leave it anyway? On another ship? Or are they airlifted off? What's wrong with leaving a sinking ship? Doesn't it make sense to leave it? Is it only the rats that leave? Doesn't that make the rats the smart ones? Rats really get a bad rap, don't they? Hey, boys: Can we get some spin for rats? Yeah, 'Nature's Sanitary Engineers' --- I love it!
read in full…
IMPERIAL DEFAULT FOR DUMMIES
(...) As for a Strongman [for Iraq], there is one available who would be perfect for the job - in fact his credentials are impeccable - but someone will have to unlock his jail cell before he can apply for the position.
There is, however, a somewhat better solution to providing the opportunity for "redeployment" of US forces in Iraq under an aura of dignity, if not precisely victory. You can called it whatever you like, but a retreat is still a retreat. Leaders of the Sunni resistance have apparently tabled an offer that will not make anyone happy, but will make most of the people in the region less unhappy than they would be with any other solution.
Put us back in charge, say the Sunni, and we guarantee to keep the country western-leaning, keep the oil deals in place, keep the Iranians out, and keep ourselves from killing all the Shia, whom we promise henceforth to treat equitably as full citizens of Iraq's democracy, a shining example to the Arab world. No one in Kerbala or Teheran is going to like this, of course, but the Saudis, Jordanians, Israelis, Syrians and Turks are going to breath a great sigh of relief to find anything implemented that prevents a Shia theocracy opening for business on their doorsteps. And there is wiggle room for Washington to call it a mission accomplished -- if they have to.
The Sunnis also have a little-discussed yet very persuasive additional bargaining chip. Syria is supplying them with new hi-tech Russian rifles equipped with digital telescopic sighting devices that allow trained snipers to pick off coalition soldiers regardless of body armour from distances so great that any defense against them or detection of the assassins is impossible. They do not have many rifles or trained snipers yet, but they will be getting more, and Syria's only condition for supplying them is that the targets not be Muslims. Every day for some weeks now, two or three US soldiers have been shipped out in body bags with high-velocity bullet wounds to the neck or face. Sunni leaders have stated grimly yet realistically that these numbers will only increase -- along with all the other more low-tech horrors now wearyingly familiar to life as usual in hell.
These men, it must also be remembered, are mainly ex-Republican Guard commanders, and their fighters are the highly-trained elite core of Saddam's old army, not some undisciplined rabble. Just as the Romans liked to portray zealot forces during the Jewish Wars as if they were roaming bands of disorganized brigands, the Americans have never wanted it known that their "Sunni insurgency" is really a legitimate and ongoing war of resistance by members of Iraq's former army, who are merely keeping the oath they once swore to defend their country. Knowing this explains why the resistance is so organized, sustained, well-trained and formidable, just as knowing the zealots were actually a highly-trained, disciplined and brilliantly commanded army explains how they managed at one point to drive out all Roman legions from Palestine and raise the Jewish flag over Jerusalem again. But in the world of electric communications, the victor may no longer be able to remain the one who gets to write the history. Things change. (...)
From deals that were done by US commanders with Iraqi generals like Ahmed Hussein to betray Saddam and avoid a Stalingrad at the gates of Baghdad, Washington has long known that the actual plan for Saddam's defense of Iraq consisted of a guerrilla war to be fought during the occupation, not any Mother of All Battles that would have achieved nothing except a battlefield of martyrs and a paragraph in the histories of military disaster. For this purpose, secret caches of weapons, explosives and ammunition had been concealed all over the Sunni Triangle, the locations known only to a handful of generals. The pretence of an "insurgency" has only served to keep those poor grunts, the sons and daughters of American poverty, from the hideous urban ghettoes, hopeless tenements and deserted factories along the shores of the Great Lakes, and from the tarpaper shacks and moonshine stills in the rolling hills of Tennessee, from knowing the "violence is going to go on for a long time". (…)
Whether it is eternal damnation they know they will face, or whether it is a knowledge of what it really means to destroy something so precious and unique it can never be replaced and the world will always mourn its absence, doesn't really matter. They know they have done the most terrible thing it is possible to do in life, and they are fully aware that the universe's immutable need for balance, for order to be restored, has now bound them to a karmic wheel of fire that will never again allow them to know peace or joy until that same awful deed is done to them. Ask anyone who has killed without cause how it really feels, because no Battleground America video game is going to let you know.
read in full…
>> BEYOND IRAQ
A roadside bomb killed two NATO soldiers and wounded two others on patrol in eastern Afghanistan
on Tuesday, the alliance said. The roadside bomb struck the soldiers' vehicle in Nuristan province, NATO said. The two wounded soldiers were taken to a U.S. military facility in Asadabad in neighboring Kunar province. NATO did not release the nationalities of the soldiers, but U.S. troops are the primary NATO component in eastern Afghanistan.
(update) More than 15,000 armed Pakistani tribesmen protested over a Pakistan Army helicopter attack on an al-Qaeda-linked religious school
that killed around 80 suspected militants. Chants of "Down with America" and "Down with Musharraf" rang out as the tribesmen gathered in Khar, main town in the Bajaur tribal region close to the Afghan border, in anger at the air strike. "Our jihad (holy war) will continue and Inshallah (God willing), people will go to Afghanistan to oust American and British forces," Maulana Faqir Mohammad, a pro-Taliban cleric, told the crowd of turbaned tribals, many carrying Kalashnikovs and wearing bandoliers, and a few shouldering rocket launchers. While the government claimed the madrasa school at Chenagai was being used to train militants, protesters said the dead, mostly young men aged between 15 and 25, were merely students.
NATO warplanes killed 12 insurgents in southern Afghanistan
after spotting a group of rebels. The strike occurred in the southern province of Kandahar on Monday (October 30)
ISAF announced late on Monday its soldiers had killed 55 rebels in an intense battle in the neighbouring province of Zabul.HMM. THE PAKISTAN STORY CHANGES...
Well, either ABC was wrong in their report this morning, or there's some major ass-covering going on here. Now the story is it was the Pakistani military that attacked the school this morning, not an American drone.
The Pakistani military said today that it had destroyed a religious school used for training militants in the Bajur tribal area, which straddles the border with Afghanistan. The attack killed at least 80 people, the military said, describing them as militants.
Pakistani officials dismissed any suggestions that the United States was behind the attack. Tasnim Aslam, a spokesman for Pakistan's Ministry of Foreign Affairs, said at a news conference that the attack was not carried out under foreign pressure.
Got that? We had nothing to do with it. Nothing. And even if we did, we'll deny it. Because Pakistan is a, you know, sovereign nation and all.
Robert Fisk: MYSTERY OF ISRAEL'S SECRET URANIUM BOMB
Did Israel use a secret new uranium-based weapon in southern Lebanon this summer in the 34-day assault that cost more than 1,300 Lebanese lives, most of them civilians?
We know that the Israelis used American "bunker-buster" bombs on Hizbollah's Beirut headquarters. We know that they drenched southern Lebanon with cluster bombs in the last 72 hours of the war, leaving tens of thousands of bomblets which are still killing Lebanese civilians every week. And we now know - after it first categorically denied using such munitions - that the Israeli army also used phosphorous bombs, weapons which are supposed to be restricted under the third protocol of the Geneva Conventions, which neither Israel nor the United States have signed.
But scientific evidence gathered from at least two bomb craters in Khiam and At-Tiri, the scene of fierce fighting between Hizbollah guerrillas and Israeli troops last July and August, suggests that uranium-based munitions may now also be included in Israel's weapons inventory - and were used against targets in Lebanon. According to Dr Chris Busby, the British Scientific Secretary of the European Committee on Radiation Risk, two soil samples thrown up by Israeli heavy or guided bombs showed "elevated radiation signatures". Both have been forwarded for further examination to the Harwell laboratory in Oxfordshire for mass spectrometry - used by the Ministry of Defence - which has confirmed the concentration of uranium isotopes in the samples.
read in full...
THREE BILLION YEARS FROM AMOEBAS TO HOMELAND SECURITY
"The Department of Homeland Security would like to remind passengers that you may not take any liquids onto the plane. This includes ice cream, as the ice cream will melt and turn into a liquid."
This was actually heard by one of my readers at the Atlanta Airport recently; he laughed out loud. He informs me that he didn't know what was more bizarre, that such an announcement was made or that he was the only person that he could see who reacted to its absurdity. This is the way it is with societies of people. Like with the proverbial frog who submits to being boiled to death in a pot of water if the water is heated very gradually, people submit to one heightened absurdity and indignation after another if they're subjected to them at a gradual enough rate. That's one of the most common threads one finds in the personal stories of Germans living in the Third Reich. This airport story is actually an example of an absurdity within an absurdity. Since the "bomb made from liquids and gels" story was foisted upon the public, several chemists and other experts have pointed out the technical near-impossibility of manufacturing such a bomb in a moving airplane, if for no other reason than the necessity of spending at least an hour or two in the airplane bathroom.
read in full...
PRESS FREEDOM AROUND THE WORLD
In October 2006, Reporters Sans Frontiers (Reporters Without Borders or RSF) published their 2006 worldwide press freedom index.
(…) there were a few surprising findings:
- The U.S. slipped down to just 53rd. In 2005, they ranked 44th, and in 2004, they ranked 22nd which were not good, anyway;
- France also slipped (to 35th), from 30th, in the previous year;
- U.K. ranked just 27th, down from 24th the previous year, and behind Benin, a small nation in Africa which the United Nations classifies as being one of the poorest nations in the world, Jamaica, and Namibia, other very poor countries;
- Italy and Spain ranked just 40th and 41st, respectively (they were both only 42nd and 40th, respectively in 2005, and joint 39th the year before).
- Japan slipped to as low as 51st1
— Iceland 0,50
— Ireland 0,50
— Netherlands 0,50
Czech Republic 0,75
— Norway 2,00
— Switzerland 2,50
— Hungary 3,00
— Latvia 3,00
— Slovenia 3,00
(…) Canada 4,50
(…) Germany 5,50
(…) United Kingdom 6,50
(…) Australia 9,00
— France 9,00
United States of America 13,00
United States of America (extra-territorial) 31,50
North Korea 109,00
read in full…
QUOTE OF THE DAY
: "I am now prime minister and overall commander of the armed forces, yet I cannot move a single company without coalition approval because of the U.N. mandate. If anyone is responsible for the poor security situation in Iraq, it is the coalition." -- Iraq Prime Minister Nuri Kamal al-Maliki
UN-QUOTE OF THE DAY
: (No audible response.) -- transcript of the DoD News Briefing at the Pentagon, October 26, 2006 after Rumsfeld was asked "Are the people of Baghdad safer than they were six months ago?",