Tuesday, February 20, 2007

Photo: Sabrine Al-Janabi, a young Iraqi woman, on Al Jazeera TV telling how Iraqi security forces abducted her from her home and raped her. (See below "Three officers of the Shiite-dominated police force have been cleared…" and Riverbend's "The Rape of Sabrine…")
Nearly 150 people were hospitalized complaining of breathing problems, vomiting and other ailments after a truck carrying a chlorine-based substance was hit by a roadside bomb north of Baghdad, said Brig. Gen. Qassim Moussawi, a military spokesman. Two people died in the blast and the others were treated after being exposed to fumes and debris near Taji, about 20 kilometers (12 miles) northwest of Baghdad, Moussawi said. All those treated were in stable condition.
Six people were killed and at least 105 wounded or overcome by fumes when a clorine gas tanker exploded in the town of Taji, north of Baghdad.
He added that his service had reports that four such trucks were to be driven to Baghdad from the insurgent bastion of Ramadi in western Iraqi by foreign suicide bombers, and that this truck might have been one of them.
A source at police headquarters said the chlorine truck was rigged with explosives, suggesting it was a dirty bomb employing a readily available substance used to purify water. A second police source also said the bomb was on the truck. The truck exploded near a restaurant at a rest stop on the main highway in Taji, 20 km (12 miles) north of Baghdad.
A car rigged with explosives tore through a line of cars at a gas station in the Sadiyah district in southwestern Baghdad. At least six people were killed and 14 injured, police said. The neighbourhood is mixed between the majority Shiites and Sunnis, whose militant factions are blamed for many of the recent bombings and attacks.
A suicide attacker drove a bomb-laden car into a vegetable market near a Shiite enclave in southern Baghdad. At least five people were killed and seven injured, police said. The same market in the mostly Sunni Dora district was targeted last month by three car bombs that killed 10 people.
A suicide bomber killed at least seven people and wounded 15 in an attack on mourners at a funeral tent in northeastern Baghdad on Tuesday, police said. The blast occurred in the mainly Shi'ite area of Palestine Street. U.S. and Iraqi troops are conducting a major security crackdown aimed at stemming the relentless bloodshed in Baghdad.
A Multi-National Division - Baghdad Soldier died Feb. 18 due to a nonbattle related cause. (MNF - Iraq)
A would-be suicide bomber wearing an explosives vest was shot and killed by authorities outside an Iraqi army recruitment center in Tikrit, about 80 miles north of the Iraqi capital in Salaheddin province.
An oil installation guard was wounded when a roadside bomb exploded near his patrol in the town of Hawija, 70 km (40 miles) southwest of Kirkuk.
Two Iraqi soldiers were killed and one was injured when a bomb targeting an Iraqi army patrol went off in Al-Huwaija suburb south west of Kirkuk. An Iraqi police source in Kirkuk told KUNA that the two soldiers died instantly while the third one was rushed to the hospital
Diyala Prv:
Unidentified gunmen set a convoy of three tank-trucks carrying gasoline on fire and killed their drivers in al-Azim district, an Iraqi police source said.
A guard of Patriotic Union of Kurdistan (PUK) headquarters in Kirkuk was hit by a sniper's bullet, a police source said.
Unidentified gunmen attacked an Iraqi vehicle patrol in central Falluja leaving a Hummer vehicle destroyed, a source in Falluja police said. "Unknown armed men attacked on Tuesday a vehicle patrol of Iraqi army at 5:00 pm on Tuesday in al-Muhandesin neighborhood, in central Falluja", the source, who asked not to be named, told the independent news agency Voices of Iraq. The source added that the attackers destroyed an Iraqi Hummer by a rocket propelled grenade (RPG), noting that 10-minute fierce clashes followed the incident between the Iraqi forces and the gunmen. He said "the attack left casualties among Iraqi soldiers."
Hundreds of demonstrators have marched in the southern Iraqi city of Basra to demand that the British forces based there free local detainees. Protestors waved Iraqi flags and carried photos of the detainees as they walked under tight security from the centre of Basra to the British consulate.
"No, no to occupation. We want the detainees released," they shouted. Some waved placards which said "No to colonialism" but the protest itself was peaceful.
Three officers of the Shiite-dominated police force have been cleared of allegations that they raped a Sunni woman in their custody, a government statement said Tuesday.
The statement by Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki's office accused "certain parties" - presumably Sunni politicians - of fabricating the allegation to discredit the security forces during the ongoing Baghdad security operation.
The 20-year-old married woman said she was assaulted after police commandos took her into custody Sunday in the western Baghdad neighborhood of Amil, accusing her of helping insurgents. She said she was taken to a police garrison and raped.
"It has been shown after medical examinations that the woman had not been subjected to any sexual attack whatsoever and that there are three outstanding arrest warrants against her issued by security agencies," the government statement said.
"After the allegations have been proven to be false, the prime minister has ordered that the officers accused be rewarded," it said without elaborating.
Unlike almost anywhere else in Baghdad, you could dine at the cafeteria in the Republican Palace in the heart of the Green Zone for six months and never eat hummus, flatbread, or a lamb kebab. The palace was the headquarters of the Coalition Provisional Authority (CPA), the American occupation administration in Iraq, and the food was always American, often with a Southern flavour. A buffet featured grits, cornbread and a bottomless barrel of pork: sausage for breakfast, hot dogs for lunch, pork chops for dinner. The cafeteria was all about meeting American needs for high-calorie, high-fat comfort food.
None of the succulent tomatoes or crisp cucumbers grown in Iraq made it into the salad bar. US government regulations dictated that everything, even the water in which hot dogs were boiled, be shipped in from approved suppliers in other nations. Milk and bread were trucked in from Kuwait, as were tinned peas and carrots. The breakfast cereal was flown in from the US. (...)
The Green Zone was Baghdad's Little America. Everyone who worked in the palace lived there, either in white metal trailers or in the towering al-Rasheed hotel. Hundreds of private contractors working for firms including Bechtel, General Electric and Halliburton set up trailer parks there, as did legions of private security guards hired to protect the contractors. The only Iraqis allowed inside the Green Zone were those who worked for the Americans or those who could prove that they had resided there before the war. Saddam had surrounded the area with a tall brick wall. There were only three points of entry. All the military had to do was park tanks at the gates. (...)
Iraqi laws and customs didn't apply inside the Green Zone. Women jogged on the pavement in shorts and T-shirts. A liquor store sold imported beer, wine and spirits. One of the Chinese restaurants offered massages as well as noodles. The young boys selling DVDs near the palace parking lot had a secret stash. "Mister, you want porno?" they whispered to me.
Most of the CPA's staff had never worked outside the United States. More than half, according to one estimate, had got their first passport in order to travel to Iraq. If they were going to survive in Baghdad, they needed the same sort of bubble that American oil companies had built for their workers in Saudi Arabia, Nigeria and Indonesia.
"It feels like a little America," Mark Schroeder said as we sat by the pool on a scorching afternoon, sipping water bottled in the United Arab Emirates. Schroeder, who was 24 at the time, had been working for a Republican congressman in Washington when he heard that the CPA needed more staff. He sent his résumé to the Pentagon. A few months later, he was in the Republican Palace.
He was an essential-services analyst. He compiled a weekly report for Bremer with bar graphs and charts that showed the CPA's progress in key sectors. Schroeder lived in a trailer with three roommates and ate all his meals in the mess hall. On Thursdays, he'd hitch a ride with a friend to the al-Rasheed's disco or another bar. In the two and a half months since he had arrived in Baghdad, he had left the Green Zone only once - and that was to travel to Camp Victory, the US headquarters near the airport.
When he needed to buy something, he went to the PX, the military-run convenience store next to the palace. There he could pick up Fritos, Cheetos, Dr Pepper, protein powder, Operation Iraqi Freedom T-shirts and pop CDs. If the PX didn't have what he wanted, he'd go to the Green Zone Bazaar, a small pedestrian mall with 70 shops operated by Iraqis who lived in the Green Zone. The bazaar had been built so that Americans wouldn't have to leave the Green Zone to purchase trinkets and sundries. Several shops sold mobile phones and bootlegged DVDs. Others hawked only-in-Iraq items: old army uniforms, banknotes with Saddam's face, Iraqi flags with the words "God is great" in Saddam's handwriting. My favourite was the JJ Store for Arab Photos, the Iraqi version of a wild-west photo booth at Disneyland: you could get a picture of yourself in Arab robes and a headdress.
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I live a few miles from an ATK (Alliant Tech) plant that produces depleted uranium (DU) tank shells for the military. Tank shells destroy and kill, and they, along with all military hardware, are a constant reminder of our failure as a civilization. But DU weapons and tank shells are only two of many items that raise questions that even our violence prone society needs to address. Since shortly after Gulf War I, soldiers and civilians have been questioning the safety of these weapons which are made of radioactive material. The more questions raised, the more the military-industrial complex has hauled out studies showing the safety of DU munitions. One CEO called DU the "skim milk" of uranium in an article penned for my local paper. An Air Force officer is even stalking the internet, trying to intimidate anyone who suggests DU is anything but benign.
Yet the numbers suggested that something insidious happens when DU munitions are used. How to explain the exploding rates of cancer, birth defects, and radiation poisoning among Iraqis in the Basra region? How to explain a Department of Veterans Affairs study of 21,000 veterans of the Gulf War that found rates of birth defects were twice as great for male vets and three times as great for female vets who served in the Gulf War compared to vets who did not? How to explain a Washington Post report in January of 2006 that 518,00 of the 580,000 Gulf War veterans were on disability, over half on permanent disability. How to explain over 13,000 dead Gulf War veterans when only 250 were killed and 7,000 injured in the war itself? (...)
I suspect the military-industrial complex will stonewall admitting the effects of DU for as long as possible to avoid accepting responsibility, not to mention liability, for their reckless actions. When John Hanchette, a founding editor of USA Today tried to publish stories about DU, he received a phone call from the Pentagon asking him to desist. He was later replaced at USA Today. The World Health Organization's chief expert on radiation and health had his report on DU suppressed. Dr. Asaf Durakovic, then a colonel in the U.S. Army, was asked to lie about the risks of DU to humans. So the stonewalling will continue, even as cancers rage among our soldiers and Iraqi civilians, even as our soldiers die, or commit suicide to escape the horrific pain, even as birth defects proliferate across Iraq and among our veterans.
But what of that? DU is a moneymaker for corporations like ATK. And turning DU into munitions helps the government solve a big problem-what to do with mountains of DU it must store and, by law, keep out of the environment. What better solution than giving it free to the munitions makers, who then sell the munitions back to Uncle Sam at a handsome profit? Everyone wins.
Unless we continue to fight for the truth, and to cry out for justice, our soldiers and Iraqi civilians will suffer and die in increasing numbers. Estimates of how many may die in Iraq are truly staggering - up to 11% of Iraq's 27 million population. This is a massive crime against humanity that remains in the shadows.
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Truth About Iraqis: FOR THE LOVE OF ZAWRAA
Oh, Zawraa, how you brighten my nights.
It seems that Zawraa channel - the voice of a free and proud Iraq that is resisting aggression and transgression - is operating live.
I do not know how Mishaan Juburri convinced Egypt to allow that, but good on him, eh.
The videos of valiant Iraqis resisting the occupation have been astounding - higher resolution than before, more graphic and one NEW feature.
Ay yaba! Nothing more beautiful than watching Iraqis - Shia and Sunni - tearing Abrams tanks apart.
I also watched last night a report that Iraqi groups have modified their weapons to pierce US armor. And other contraptions they are working with.
Absolutely incredible that a peoples under occupation would become so resilient.
I have also noticed that the explosions of US Humvees, APC's and tanks have been far, far more powerful.
I watch about three hours of Zawraa a day. Yesterday, they showed us a report about the killing of the head of CIA operations in Iraq.
Wonder if that can be verified.
Today, the Iraqi resistance is issuing a threat to the filthy CIA asset Al-Qaida to leave Iraq halt all attacks on Iraqi civilians immediately or be hunted down.
I wrote on this blog (before the '2' was added) that the Iraqi children would one day chase Al-Qaida out of Iraq.
It is coming to pass.
God Bless the valiant and patriotic Iraqi resistance as it fights despite the odds to eject the US and Iranian occupiers.
The Christian Science Monitor has a survey of how the new Baghdad security plan is proceeding, and it's rather hit and miss. But one of those misses reaches a whole new level of WTF?
[B]uoyed by hope that he could return home after being forced out by Sunni insurgents, Moayad entered his street Saturday behind Iraqi commandos backed by Americans.
The carpenter and 50 other Shiite residents were pleased to see a dozen insurgents arrested, cuffed, and blindfolded.
But as they picked through their trashed houses in the religiously mixed Al Amel neighborhood, their sense of safety was short-lived. "When [the Iraqi commandos] finished, an American officer came and said to release [the insurgents]," says Moayad and other witnesses. "Even the Iraqi officers were very angry, and went back to their base." [....]
When those Sunnis who had occupied their houses were released in Al Amel - two of whom had attempted to kill him one month ago, he says - Moayad and other Shiite returnees had no choice but to depart again.
"I think the Americans want the security plan to fail," he asserts. "I was very hopeful [when it was announced]. But today, after the Americans released these insurgents, I will never respect US troops again."
The Army spokesman says the incident will be investigated. I'm trying to think of a reasonable explanation, but I guess my imagination ain't that good.
Asharq al-Awsat (...) says on its front page that the Maliki government and the biggest Sunni parliamentary bloc yesterday traded charges of being infiltrated by armed groups. A spokesman for the Iraqi Accord Front said the Baghdad security plan started off in the right direction, but recently there have been operations where the government forces were assisted by the Mahdi Army, and he said this threatens to derail the plan. In rebuttal, Maliki security adviser Sami al-Askari said the problem is that the Accord Front hasn't made up its mind whether it really supports the government and the current plan, or not.
And al-Askari went on to say that the Accord Front is under pressure from armed groups in the areas it represents:
Askari said [in a telephone interview from Baghdad], in reply to the Accord Front charges, that "the Accord Front hasn't yet made up its mind whether it is with the government and the political process, or against it", adding that "the Accord Front makes a practice of criticising the government even though it is a part of that government". Askari explained that the Iraqi Accord Front is under pressure from "armed groups that are deployed in its areas, in fact the Front has been penetrated by those armed groups, moreover some of its members are accused of being involved in some of the violent acts in the country".
Askari urged the Accord Front to get behind the government and the security plan, noting that important figures in that bloc have expressed support for the plan, including vice president of the republic Tareq al-Hashimi, and deputy Prime Minister Salam al-Zubaie.
This continuing process of Iraqi political fragmentation isn't part of the corporate-media story, which is no doubt understandable. But it isn't part of the "alternative" North American coverage either, which is a little more puzzling. For some reason it doesn't seem to compute, so to speak, within any of the prevailing templates.
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It takes a lot to get the energy and resolution to blog lately. I guess it's mainly because just thinking about the state of Iraq leaves me drained and depressed. But I had to write tonight.
As I write this, Oprah is on Channel 4 (one of the MBC channels we get on Nilesat), showing Americans how to get out of debt. Her guest speaker is telling a studio full of American women who seem to have over-shopped that they could probably do with fewer designer products. As they talk about increasing incomes and fortunes, Sabrine Al-Janabi, a young Iraqi woman, is on Al Jazeera telling how Iraqi security forces abducted her from her home and raped her. You can only see her eyes, her voice is hoarse and it keeps breaking as she speaks. In the end she tells the reporter that she can't talk about it anymore and she covers her eyes with shame.
She might just be the bravest Iraqi woman ever. Everyone knows American forces and Iraqi security forces are raping women (and men), but this is possibly the first woman who publicly comes out and tells about it using her actual name. Hearing her tell her story physically makes my heart ache. Some people will call her a liar. Others (including pro-war Iraqis) will call her a prostitute- shame on you in advance.
I wonder what excuse they used when they took her. It's most likely she's one of the thousands of people they round up under the general headline of 'terrorist suspect'. She might have been one of those subtitles you read on CNN or BBC or Arabiya, "13 insurgents captured by Iraqi security forces." The men who raped her are those same security forces Bush and Condi are so proud of- you know- the ones the Americans trained. It's a chapter right out of the book that documents American occupation in Iraq: the chapter that will tell the story of 14-year-old Abeer who was raped, killed and burned with her little sister and parents. (...)
She's just one of tens, possibly hundreds, of Iraqi women who are violated in their own homes and in Iraqi prisons. She looks like cousins I have. She looks like friends. She looks like a neighbor I sometimes used to pause to gossip with in the street. Every Iraqi who looks at her will see a cousin, a friend, a sister, a mother, an aunt...
Humanitarian organizations are warning that three Iraqi women are to be executed next month. The women are Wassan Talib, Zainab Fadhil and Liqa Omar Muhammad. They are being accused of 'terrorism', i.e. having ties to the Iraqi resistance. It could mean they are relatives of people suspected of being in the resistance. Or it could mean they were simply in the wrong place at the wrong time. One of them gave birth in the prison. I wonder what kind of torture they've endured. Let no one say Iraqi women didn't get at least SOME equality under the American occupation- we are now equally as likely to get executed.
And yet, as the situation continues to deteriorate both for Iraqis inside and outside of Iraq, and for Americans inside Iraq, Americans in America are still debating on the state of the war and occupation- are they winning or losing? Is it better or worse.
Let me clear it up for any moron with lingering doubts: It's worse. It's over. You lost. You lost the day your tanks rolled into Baghdad to the cheers of your imported, American-trained monkeys. You lost every single family whose home your soldiers violated. You lost every sane, red-blooded Iraqi when the Abu Ghraib pictures came out and verified your atrocities behind prison walls as well as the ones we see in our streets. You lost when you brought murderers, looters, gangsters and militia heads to power and hailed them as Iraq's first democratic government. You lost when a gruesome execution was dubbed your biggest accomplishment. You lost the respect and reputation you once had. You lost more than 3000 troops. That is what you lost America. I hope the oil, at least, made it worthwhile.
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An Afghan suicide bomber disguised as a doctor blew himself up at a hospital in southern Afghanistan on Tuesday, wounding six Americans. Khost Governor Arsala Jamal told Reuters that U.S. soldiers opened fire on the man who was acting suspiciously as he and U.S. officers attended a function in the hospital.
A U.S. Soldier was killed today during combat operations in the vicinity of Naray, Kunar Province. The name of the Soldier is being withheld pending notification of next of kin.
(update) Police fled a town in western Afghanistan on Monday and suspected Taliban militants briefly moved in - the second time in a month that the government has lost control of a district in the area. The police fled to a forest near Bakwa in Farah province a day after a roadside bomb killed four officers involved in opium poppy eradication. A group of militants moved in and stayed for about 30 minutes, seizing three vehicles before leaving.
Local police have restored security and tranquility to Zahedan after a bomb attack ripped through the city Friday night, a day after another explosion involving an attack on a bus owned by the local Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps killed about 18 people and wounded 31 others in the same city.
"Terrorist agents try to implement their ominous plots without being bothered at all," Zahedan Governor General Hassan-Ali Nouri told IRNA, adding that "the explosion in Zahedan Friday night was just a blind operation," Nouri said.
Was the attacks a new attempt to fuel tension between the Sunnis and the Shias, and expand it to include not just Iraq but Iran as well?
Citing "informed source", the semi-official Fars news agency reported on Saturday that the explosive devices and arsenals used in the recent wave of explosions that hit the southeastern Iranian city of Zahedan starting Wednesday came from the United States.
The Fars report said that documents, photographs and film footage, showed that the explosives and arsenals used in the attacks were American.
Although the new revelations hadn't been made public yet, it prompted many analysts to link the terrorist attacks in the Iranian city to recent allegations raised against Islamic republic by the Bush administration which stepped up recently its anti-Iranian rhetoric, claiming that Tehran provides anti-occupation fighters in Iraq with financial and military aid to kill American troops.
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Skip Kaltenheuser, Asia Times Online: BRING ON THE CARNIVAL
For years I've chronicled carnivals across different cultures. With anti-authoritarian and satirical roots planted by the ancients, the carnival is a superb barometer of the US image abroad.
Last year's sojourn included sleepy towns in Portugal. In Torres Verdes [Torres Vedras, actually -- zig], the centerpiece - not a float, the centerpiece - was called "Bushlandia". Artfully rendered, five or so stories high, the sculpture offered up Dubya as a primitive king in furs, wielding a jeweled club and a scepter with a golden skull. He wore a crucifix on which was a soldier. Dubya sat within the jaws of a giant skull beneath the crown of the Statue of Liberty, about which crawled wormy critters in turbans (none of them depicting the Prophet Mohammed, I swear).
Other heads of the coalition of the willing - I get confused over Old Europe and New Europe, but I doubt there were Mongolians - were in his court. British Prime Minister Tony Blair fanned Dubya with feathers and scratched his backside. A likable lad, too bad he ran with a rough crowd. On the flip side of the sculpture, a bearded fellow with a turban (clearly not a depiction of Mohammed) jockeyed a wheelbarrow of explosives. Beneath him a government minister struggled to feed the world's poor children. Nuclear missiles flanked Dubya. Penguins blew time-out whistles as toxic waste washed over nature.
To the beat of Brazilian bands amid the samba gyrations of hotties, all revelers passed before Dubya. Amazing, a small town in Portugal making this colossal comment on US leadership. (...)
Small towns in Portugal use carnival to speak truth to power; why can't Washington, DC? Is it too mean-spirited, too unable to take a joke? The threat of ridicule at carnival might rein in excesses, perhaps an invasion.
Imagine the floats. Attorney General Alberto Gonzales, dressed as the Grim Reaper, axes dedicated prosecutors who pursue corruption scandals. Or Vice President Dick Cheney the Hunter stalking Joe Wilson, who blew the whistle on the Niger-Iraq uranium fiction, and his wife, outed Central Intelligence Agency operative Valerie Wilson. Perhaps Scooter Libby, dressed as a goat, will be Cheney's prey?
Tribunals for terror suspects - suspects with Rip Van Winkle beards - could sport the robes of the Spanish Inquisition. Former New York Times reporter Judith Miller, as Joan of Arc in jail eating bonbons, entertaining neo-con admirers in an unlocked cell. Doug Feith and Paul Wolfowitz as chefs, cooking a vat of intelligence.
And carnival's traditional spoofing of sex roles. Don't get DC started (run for it, pages!). Dubya, dressed in black vinyl, cracking his whip at hooded detainees in Guantanamo.
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QUOTE OF THE DAY: "U.S. Establishment says that American deaths are due to Iranian support to Iraqi fighters. Well they would not have been killed if they were not in Iraq, Right? And who asked them to be there? Certainly not the Iranians." -- from "Writing On The Wall Is Clear Mr. Bush: Quit Iraq" by Shakeel Mohammed at Aljazeera Magazine


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