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 Wednesday, January 17, 2007

In 2006 Alone: 34,452 IRAQI CIVILIANS KILLED

  by

STEVEN R. HURST

Read here for more

The U.N. civilian casualty count for 2006 was announced in Baghdad by Gianni Magazzeni, the chief of the U.N. Assistance Mission for Iraq in Baghdad.

He said 34,452 civilians died — an average of 94 a day — and 36,685 were wounded.

But Dr. Hakem al-Zamili, Iraq's deputy health minister, told The Associated Press the United Nations may be using unreliable sources for its casualty count. "They might be taking the figures from people who are opposed to the government or to the Americans," he said. "They are not accurate."

He said he would provide Iraqi government figures later this week.

In early January, a compilation of Iraqi government figures put last year's civilian deaths at just 12,357. The numbers are gathered monthly by the AP from reports by three Iraqi agencies.

When asked about the difference, Magazzeni said the U.N. figures were compiled from information obtained through the Iraqi Health Ministry, hospitals across the country and the Medico-Legal Institute in Baghdad.

He criticized the government for allowing much of the violence to go unpunished, saying urgent action was needed to re-establish law and order in the country to prevent its slide into all-out civil war.

"Without significant progress in the rule of law, sectarian violence will continue indefinitely and eventually spiral out of control," he warned.

The U.N. report also said that 30,842 people were detained in the country as of Dec. 31, including 14,534 held in U.S. military-run prisons.

At least 470,094 people throughout Iraq have been forced to leave their homes since the bombing of an important Shiite shrine, the Golden Dome mosque in Samarra, in February, the U.N. accounting said.

The report said the violence has disrupted education by forcing schools and universities to close, as well as sending professionals fleeing from the country.

In a summary of the report posted on its Web site Tuesday, UNAMI said Iraq's women were particularly vulnerable, citing cases where young women were abducted by armed militia and late discovered sexually assaulted, tortured or murdered.

In many cases, the agency said, families refuse to retrieve the bodies out of shame.

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 Monday, January 15, 2007

Australian Commentary: Bush Has Become a Despised Laughing Stock in US

  by

Jill Singer




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Read here JIll Singer's article

Such is Australia's enthusiasm for colonial subservience, there's an old joke that Britain will become a republic before we do.

A newer version is that the US will pull out of Iraq before we do.

Prime Minister John Howard is about the last man standing who still insists that US President George W. Bush got it right on Iraq.Even Bush admits he was wrong.

I'm writing this from the US where there is blanket media coverage of The President's Plan: Bush's revised strategy for saving face on Iraq.

Let's get it straight. Operation Iraqi Freedom is officially a failure.

The awful truth is that the majority of Iraqis were better off under Saddam Hussein than the US-delivered regime of Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki.

Maliki is just another supporter of sectarian violence.

In his case, it is Shiite Muslims rather than Saddam's bunch of Sunnis. He's done little if anything to control the fanatical Shiite militia led by Moqtada al-Sadr, a fiercely anti-American brute of a man.

At his hanging, even Saddam expressed a detached and ironic amusement upon learning that shrieking Moqtada supporters had been invited along as witnesses to his execution.

Essentially, it's just to send more troops. It's a strategy that is impressing few, apart from the most trenchant of conservatives.

In my view, the biggest mistake Bush made was NOT that he didn't send in enough troops, but that he started an unwinnable war in the first place.

There are about 130,000 there now and Bush plans to send an extra 17,500 troops to Baghad and 4000 to fight al-Qaida in Anbar province.

Bush's supporters aren't even praying for victory across Iraq any more, just praying to get out, with Baghdad somehow "contained" and a media strategy to contain the fallout.

The architects of the war are lining up to distance themselves from it.

This month's Vanity Fair contains a stunning piece of reporting from David Rose, a former supporter of the invasion of Iraq.

Rose interviewed dozens of neo-conservatives behind the disastrous decision.

Almost as one, they point the finger of blame at others rather than accept responsibility for the disaster.

Most notable is Richard Perle, former chairman of the Pentagon's defence policy.

Perle had predicted that Iraq was a very good candidate for democracy in the Middle East and that Iranians would be so impressed by the success of Iraq, post-Saddam, that they would follow suit and bring in regime change.

Like the K-Tel ad-man, Perle said there would be more: Syria would agree to stop backing terrorists.

Now, he says he underestimated the depravity that pervades Iraq.

Now, he smells failure and fears the consequences. In his words, we are possibly about to witness all the mayhem the world is capable of creating.

Thanks for that, Dick.

Then there's David Frum, who co-wrote Bush's infamous axis of evil speech. He now says defeat may be inescapable and to attempt to justify taking any risks at all on behalf of the coalition of the willing would be difficult.

All this as Bush demands that more and more of his fellow citizens take the greatest risk of all on behalf of his failed strategy.

The nightly TV news in the US is heartbreaking, as devastated families line up to mourn the loss of their loved ones.

And, of course, the grief doesn't end there, with many thousands more returned soldiers trying to survive with horrific injuries.

Some have trouble telling their stories: it's kind of hard to speak when your lips have been burned off.

Apart from the human cost of this war, the financial cost has been catastrophic.

So far the US has poured more than $US350 billion into it and has earmarked at least another billion.

The only upside, if you're an American, is if you happen to be, say, Vice-President Dick Cheney, whose business mates are making a financial killing from the war.

In the immediate future, we might expect to hear Bush come out with escalating rhetoric about:
  • how the Iraqis "ain't doin' good 'nuff runnin' their country".

  • Damned fools those Iraqis, perhaps they just need another good dose of regime change.


  • Bush's new plan for Iraq has cemented his reputation as a lame duck president who is rapidly becoming the most loathed in US history.

    Poll after poll confirms his plummeting popularity as at least two out of three Americans reckon the invasion of Iraq was a devastating mistake.

    The man has become a despised laughing stock.

    In the blanket coverage leading up to the release of The President's Plan, David Letterman was wise-cracking relentlessly along the lines of Plan A: dig Saddam up and execute him again.

    A segment of great presidentiall speeches was broadcast. John F. Kennedy's "ask not what your country can do for you, but what you can do for your country" was followed by Bush lecturing Americans about the invasion of Iran, whoops, Iraq.

    Australians need to question why we're still tagging along with Bush.

    It was a mistake to join the war. It's time to call it quits

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     Sunday, January 14, 2007

    George W. Bush: A Symptom of Disease

      by

    Charles Sullivan
    (Charles Sullivan is a photographer, free-lance writer and social justice activist residing in the Ridge and Valley Province of West Virginia. He welcomes your comments at csullivan@phreego.com. )

    Read here full article

    January 12, 2007

    Sometimes you look around and wonder how things could have gone so wrong so quickly.

    America has become the antithesis of everything she purports to be.

    We are :

  • the greatest purveyors of violence the world has ever known;

  • the largest weapons dealers on earth; and

  • death and misery are our principal exports.

  • Everything is for sale here, even men’s tormented souls—at least, those who still possess them.

    Our imperial leader, an impish little man with clear sociopathic symptoms, is incapable of empathy for the struggles of the common people, as those born into wealth and privilege often are.

    The man with his finger on the nuclear detonator is mentally ill, incapable of remorse—a fact that should terrify every world citizen.

    I do not say this out of malice or to demean the president; it is simply a statement of fact based upon quantifiable evidence that any student of psychology would easily recognize.

    The fact that such a misfit could ascend to the presidency is testimony to the effectiveness of the capital system. Under capitalism, political power is not derived from the people, as would be the case in a democracy; nor does it not flow from the bottom up—it matriculates from the top down.

    It is really quite simple:
    The men and women who are in office were put there by people with immense wealth to represent the interests of the wealthy, to make money for them. And that is exactly what they are doing.
    In many ways, George W. Bush is the perfect man for the job, if one understands what his real work entails as an emissary of the ruling class.

    He possesses all of the qualifications the vocation requires:

  • callousness and indifference to the needs of others,

  • the absence of conscience,

  • truncated mental capacity;

  • the inability to reason and to analyze;

  • the incapacity to admit wrong doing;

  • a penchant for cruelty that includes the enjoyment of inflicting pain and torture on others, as well as

  • a powerful sense of nobility and entitlement that stems from being born into wealth and privilege.

  • He is also a pathological liar.

    From the president’s sickly perspective, the admission of failure is equivalent to a declaration of weakness and indecision, which explains his inability to change course, even if it means the destruction of America.

    Thus he has no guilt about sending thousands more men and women to kill and die in Iraq. You see, the president’s mind is defective. It does not work like the minds of normal human beings.

    Corporate America placed George W. Bush in the White House to wage endless war; to bankrupt the federal treasury to the extent that few social programs will survive, and virtually all of our tax dollars will go into supporting the military industrial complex.

    The people who put him in office intend to end public ownership of the commons, as well as all government programs that do not directly benefit the wealthy.

    Let me clarify what this entails.

    If Bush and his handlers prevail in the class struggle, all social programs of value to the middle class and the poor, including Social Security, will be privatized and run for profit. The National Parks, National Forests, and all public lands will be privatized, and divvied up to private vendors such as the Disney Corporation.

    The public school system, like the public airwaves, will become for profit entities to serve corporate interests. Educating our children will be of secondary importance to the profitability of the corporations managing the schools. Every public service will be transferred to the private sector in order provide more wealth to corporate America at public expense.

    We see the foundations of privatization being laid in Iraq by the war profiteers. Billions of dollars in stolen wealth are being hauled out of Iraq by the very same corporations that lobbied for war. War is money and in America money is power to control the political process. It is a vicious cycle that will not end until the people recognize it for what it is and rise up against it.

    Certainly no man of conscience or integrity could so easily betray the people of America he is sworn to serve.

    That is why George W. Bush is the right man for the job and he is abetted by a compliant Congress acting under the influence of corporate lobbyists.

    But the president and his accomplices in Congress are only symptoms of a more pervasive disease that deeply afflicts our political system—capitalism. Class war is being waged simultaneously on many fronts and the dough keeps rolling in.

    Sources:

    Bush on the Couch: Inside the Mind of the President, Justin Frank, Harper Collins, 2004

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     Friday, January 12, 2007

    The Incalcitrant President Americans Have to Live With for the Next Two Years

     

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    Quote:
    In adding 20,000 soldiers, Bush is like the gambler who doubles and triples his bet at the roulette table, trying to regain his losses.

    The gamble is easier when the money is not your own, and the lives are NOT those of your children and your relatives.

    Bush has decided his is not to end the war, and he has burdened his successor with his failure.

    Until that time, the soldiers can wait; they can die.

    -Yossi Sarid
    Read here full article by Yossi Sarid in The Haaretz

    Bush is going to thrust another 20,000 Ameican soldiers into this darkness, adding them to the 132,000 soldiers already bleeding in Iraq.

    Does any rational person in America - or anywhere in the world - still believe a victory, though it may tarry, is yet to come?

    The question must be formulated differently:
    Is Bush the stupidest president his country has ever had?
    A study recently published by the University of California, Davis raises the possibility that the president's I.Q. is particularly low.

    But the problem is not one of stupidity alone.

    Bush simply refuses to admit his mistake, a mistake that will relegate his name and legacy to the nadirs of history.

    To save his skin, he is willing to sacrifice Private Ryan in a civil war that is not his own.

    Beware of politicians like George Bush, who begin futile wars and refuse to end them quickly; from these boorish and arrogant politicians comes calamity.

    Not for nothing are the swallows of Jerusalem hurrying off to the crows in Washington - they are of their species.

    In adding 20,000 soldiers, Bush is like the gambler who doubles and triples his bet at the roulette table, trying to regain his losses.

    The gamble is easier when the money is not your own, and the lives are not those of your children and your relatives.

    Instead of setting a schedule for a gradual withdrawal, as most Americans want, more soldiers have been thrown in, as if they were gambling chips.

    Bush has decided his is not to end the war, and he has burdened his successor with his failure.

    Until that time, the soldiers can wait; they can die.

    What is to be expected of an administration that hangs a condemned tyrant badly?

    Can hopes be hung on one who doesn't even know how to hang?


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    Bush's More Troops for Iraq: What the Editorials Are Saying

     

    RELATED NEWS

    As President George W. Bush challenges public opinion at home by committing more soldiers to Iraq, he is confronted by an essential paradox: An Iraqi government that does NOT really want them.

    The Shiite-led government is skeptical of American intentions and is determined to push back the reach of Washington's authority to run the war the way it wants.

    Haidar al-Abadi, a member of Parliament who is a close associate of Maliki's, said: "The government believes there is no need for extra troops from the American side. The existing troops can do the job."

    That opinion is broadly held throughout the ranks of the Shiite political elite, which after two years in power is stretching its wings and trying to stamp its authority on a chaotic capital. taken away at any moment.

    "You can't solve the problem by adding more troops," said Redha Jawad Tahi, a Shiite member of Parliament.

    Even as the extra troops are readied — more than 20,000, Bush was expected to propose — the Iraqis are drawing up their own plans.

    Read here for more




    Excerpts from editorials in U.S. newspapers on President Bush's new plan for Iraq
    Chicago Tribune:

    Bush is sending more troops to Iraq. He's sending something else as well: warnings to Iraqi leaders. ...

    America has set benchmarks before. And then it has retreated, fearful that too much pressure would undercut the Iraqi government and embolden the insurgency. The upshot: a confusing mix of signals from Washington to Baghdad.

    * __

    The Dallas Morning News:

    No patriot can hope for him to fail. There is far too much at stake for America and the world. ...

    Our concern is that it's too little, too late. Like all Americans, we want a good outcome in Iraq, and we pray that we've misjudged Mr. Bush and the situation on the ground.

    Yet if this new plan -- including a troop surge of 21,500 -- proves unsuccessful, we hope the president again displays his new willingness to change course. And that time, for so long on our side, has not run out.

    * __

    The Denver Post:

    The president wants to send more than $1 billion in additional funding for reconstruction and job creation, but these efforts depend upon security and stability. Until they're achieved, it's unworkable. ...

    He ignored the core advice of the Iraq Study Group, which called for troop withdrawals to begin in early 2008 and for the U.S. to make diplomatic contacts with Iraq's trouble-making neighbors, Syria and Iran.

    In deploying additional troops, Bush is going it alone once again.

    * __

    Fort Worth Star-Telegram:

    The United States ousted a terrible (though functioning) government but left in its place a leadership vacuum, and that has had bitter consequences. The administration has presented no workable plan beyond more death and destruction. The Band-Aid applied by Bush only forestalls the inevitable at great expense and tragedy.

    * __

    Los Angeles Times:

    It is unlikely that the additional troops will be enough to make a difference, or that Maliki will honor his latest pledge. But America, and Iraq, will know in a matter of months whether U.S. troops can operate freely and whether Maliki's government is worth defending.

    It would have been nice to have this answer months ago, and Bush deserves the blame for not demanding it sooner. At least he is finally making that demand. For his sake, and for the hundreds of thousands of U.S. troops and millions of Iraqis, we hope it's not too late.

    * __

    New York Daily News:

    President Bush presented his new battle plan for Iraq with heartening resolve last night, and he put the American military where it belongs: on the offensive with new strength and a new strategy. ... Despite the dicey uncertainties, Bush's approach is far sounder than a so-called phased withdrawal that would leave average Iraqis, the region and the world to suffer the maelstrom, and it makes more sense than pulling back while riskily embedding American forces in Iraqi units to serve as trainers and muscle. Troops will be embedding, as the Iraq Study Group recommended, but in tandem with a muscular use of American power. ... Until yesterday, thanks to an admittedly futile strategy and compounding blunders, the U.S. was heading inexorably toward failure. Today, there's at least hope.

    * __

    New York Post:

    Sad to say, many in Congress fail to understand the larger ramifications if America suffers a defeat in Iraq. ... Congressional Democrats, and their weak-kneed Republican allies, have it in their power to stop the so-called troop surge in its tracks. Indeed, they can de-fund the entire war, virtually overnight, if they so choose. They need to put up, or shut up. They should either cut off funds for the war -- or leave President Bush alone as he directs freedom's battles in Iraq, and in the larger War on Terror. We believe that America can't afford to lose this struggle. But if the Democratic Congress means for America to lose, let it pull the trigger now. And live with the consequences.

    * __

    The New York Times:

    President Bush told Americans last night that failure in Iraq would be a disaster. The disaster is Mr. Bush's war, and he has already failed. Last night was his chance to stop offering more fog and be honest with the nation, and he did not take it.

    Americans needed to hear a clear plan to extricate United States troops from the disaster that Mr. Bush created. What they got was more gauzy talk of victory in the war on terrorism and of creating a "young democracy" in Iraq. In other words, a way for this president to run out the clock and leave his mess for the next one.

    * __

    St. Petersburg (Fla.) Times:

    His way promises only to delay the day of reckoning that is drawing near. His way will lead to an increase in American casualties and further strain our military. His way forces U.S. military commanders to carry out a policy they strongly advised against. His way ignores overwhelming public and congressional opposition to the war. His way is an escalation in the fighting that is unlikely to end the sectarian slaughter of innocents, force the Shiite majority to compromise with the Sunni minority, or achieve national reconciliation and political stability.

    * __

    USA Today

    Imposing order on the Middle East has always been difficult. When Lawrence of Arabia faced similar difficulties in the region in the early 1900s, he had this advice: "It is their war, and you are to help them, not to win it for them." Bush has cast his new strategy as doing just that. But chances that it will achieve a stable Iraq remain a long shot.

    * __

    The Washington Post

    President Bush is right to recognize that U.S strategy in Iraq is not working and to seek a different policy. He is right to insist that the United States cannot afford to abandon the mission and to reject calls for an early withdrawal. But the new plan for the war Mr. Bush outlined last night is very risky. It envisions new missions and dangers for U.S. troops and counts on unprecedented military and political steps by the Iraqi government. The plan is likely to cause a spike in U.S. casualties, while the chances that it will stabilize Iraq are far lower. Moreover, Mr. Bush appears prepared to embrace this approach despite strong opposition from Congress and the public -- setting up a conflict that in itself could hurt the war effort.

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     Thursday, January 11, 2007

    The Dangerous President

      Read here full article

    President George W Bush bucked public opinion and the new Democratic Congress with a high-stakes gamble on more US troops in Iraq, setting up a bruising political fight that could sink his fellow Republicans.

    Barely two months after a resounding Democratic election victory seen as a rejection of his Iraq policy, Bush upped the ante in a televised address by ordering 21,500 more troops to Iraq rather than pulling back on the US commitment.

    In his Wednesday speech Bush appeared to focus on history more than American politics, analysts said, making an audacious and perhaps final stab at turning around an increasingly unpopular war that will define his legacy as president.

    "We are seeing a president defying public opinion in a way that no modern president has," said Bruce Buchanan, a political analyst at the University of Texas and a longtime Bush watcher.

    "He has his eye on history. His most important jury is not the public but historians," he said. "For him, this is the defining issue of our times and he's hell-bent on avoiding surrender."

    Opinion polls show declining public confidence in Bush's conduct of the war, with solid majorities opposed to the proposal to send more troops to secure Baghdad.

    Democrats condemned the proposal and promised nonbinding votes in Congress on it, forcing Republicans to choose between breaking with Bush or embracing an unpopular policy just as the 2008 race for the White House gears up.

    "Obviously there is tremendous scepticism in the public about where this policy is going, and Republicans will be the ones to pay any price," said Andrew Taylor, a political analyst at North Carolina State University.

    A dozen Senate Republicans or more could break with Bush if the Senate holds a vote on the proposal, analysts said, weakening Bush even more as he enters the final two years of a lame duck presidency.

    Many Republicans said Bush still deserves backing on Iraq, and Republican presidential contenders largely fell in line with Bush and Senator John McCain of Arizona, the Republican presidential frontrunner and a proponent of bolstering troop levels in Iraq.

    "Success or failure in Iraq is not a matter of partisan politics but a matter of national security," said former New York Mayor Rudolph Giuliani. "I support the president's increase in troops."

    But cracks began to appear in what has been for years largely solid Republican support for Bush on the war. Minnesota Republican Senator Norm Coleman, who faces a tough re-election fight in 2008, said he opposed the increase in troops.

    "It is not a strategy for victory," Coleman said.

    Republican Senator Sam Brownback of Kansas, a conservative and a longshot contender for president, was in Baghdad on Wednesday and met Iraqi Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki.

    "I do not believe that sending more troops to Iraq is the answer," said Brownback. "Iraq requires a political rather than a military solution."

    For Democrats, the proposal offered the first chance to flex their new muscle in Congress, although Democratic congressional leaders were hesitant to try to cut off funding for the war.

    "The president's decision is wrong for Iraq and wrong for America - and it's time for the new Congress to stop Bush from stubbornly pursuing his failed strategy in Iraq," Democratic presidential contender John Edwards said.

    "Congress should make it clear to the president that he will not get any money to put more of our troops in harm's way until he provides a plan to turn responsibility of Iraq over to the Iraqi people and to ultimately leave Iraq," he said.
    A coalition of liberal and Democratic activist groups including labor unions and veterans' groups said they would launch a national campaign against the proposal on Thursday.

    Former Iowa Gov Tom Vilsack called on communities across America to pass a resolution opposing the troop increase. Bush's plan, he said, "will make his big Iraq mistake even bigger".

    Buchanan said Bush's refusal to back down on Iraq was a reflection of his views on leadership.

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    Democrats Won Congress to WITHDRAW and NOT to INCREASE US Troops in IRAQ

      Read here full article by Tom Raum

    Democrats, who came to power in midterm elections two months ago in large part because of growing public opposition to the war, must walk a fine line between criticizing Bush's plans and appearing to be obstructionists or undermining the military.

    And they presently rule Congress with insufficient numbers to block Bush's plan.

    For Bush, the decision to send more troops to Iraq – rather than begin a withdrawal of combat forces as recommended last month by the bipartisan Iraq Study Group – is a huge gamble.

    If it fails, he will have few if any options left.

    Defying public opinion polls and the newly empowered Democratic leadership, Bush on Wednesday moved to send 21,500 more U.S. troops to Iraq while saying it was a mistake not to have had more forces there previously.

    Democrats served notice they would challenge his plan, with aggressive hearings that begin on Thursday and with votes in both the House and Senate in the coming days on a nonbinding measure opposing any increase in troops.

    American voters expect us to help get us out of Iraq,” said Democratic Sen. Joseph Biden of Delaware, chairman of the Foreign Relations Committee and a 2008 presidential hopeful.

    Congress voted in October 2002 by wide margins to authorize Bush to take military action in Iraq. That authority stands.

    Since they now run Congress, even though by thin majorities, Democrats also now share with the president some responsibility over the unpopular war.

    While it's true that Congress controls the government's purse strings, politically about the most it can do is hold hearings and pass symbolic resolutions.

    If, even if with the help of some Republicans, Congress is able to pass legislation, such as that proposed this week by Sen. Edward M. Kennedy, D-Mass., to require Bush to get congressional approval before sending more troops to Iraq, Bush will surely veto it.

    And, given the slim margin of Democratic control, such a veto would almost certainly be sustained.

    The Democrats may control Congress but they can't block the president this time without potentially being accused of losing the war. I think an awful lot of this is staging for the next time,” the 2008 presidential and congressional elections, said Anthony Cordesman, an Iraq expert at the Center for Strategic and International Studies.

    For Bush, many dangers lurk in the new plan.

    The new troops might not be enough to stabilize the country. Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki might not rise to Bush's challenge to do more in controlling sectarian violence and shutting down private militias. The new U.S. troops could present more targets to militants.

    Both parties are divided on what to do next.

    More and more Republicans are trying to distance themselves from Bush and the war.

    And Democrats are divided on how far to go in fighting Bush's plan or in pressing for troop withdrawals, even as the party's liberal base pressures them to do more to bring troops home.

    “If the question is whether Congress would cut off funds, the answer is no. But you had an election in November that was widely interpreted as a rejection of the president's war policy,” said John Isaacs, president of the Council for a Livable World, an arms control advocacy group.

    “While Americans are not sure about how to get out, and only a small proportion back immediate withdrawal, they certainly aren't inclined to support a new increase, an escalation,” said Isaacs.

    Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi renewed their opposition to additional troops. But, said Reid, “We as senators have had no ability to have any input in the president's position on this.”

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     Wednesday, January 10, 2007

    SOMALIA: Creating another "Iraq" in the Horn of Africa

     

    READ HERE FULL LIST OF NAMES OF US 2006 CONGRESSIONAL CANDIDATES WHO RECEIVED CONTRIBUTIONS FROM PRO-ISRAEL PAC.

    (The Money Power of the Israel/Jewish Lobby for Influence and Vote-Buying in the US Congress)



    Quote:

    "They never learn, and that's why our foreign policy is a recurring nightmare.

    Unless the American people wake up in time, we are bound to repeat in East Africa the same mistakes we made in the Middle East, with similarly deadly consequences."
    -Justin Raimondo


    by

    Justin Raimondo

    Read here full article "They Never Learn"

    The series of blunders and willful miscalculations that led to our present predicament in Iraq are now being replicated in Somalia, where a rather large U.S. footprint is being stamped into the hard Somali soil.

    Well, it isn't a footprint, quite yet, but rather a series of bomb craters, where the lives of "many" civilians, according to news reports, have been summarily ended. U.S. bombing raids, ostensibly aimed at al-Qaeda fighters supposedly hidden among native Islamic militias, have succeeded in killing scores, albeit none of the three dudes we are allegedly after.

    That's right: we're bombing a country because we're after a terrorist trio – Fazul Abdullah Mohammed, the alleged mastermind behind the 1998 attacks on the U.S. embassies in Nairobi and Dar es Salaam, Tanzania, that killed 225 people, and accomplices Saleh Ali Saleh Nabhan and Abu Talha al-Sudani.

    While the Pentagon refuses to confirm or deny whether any of these guys were killed in the attacks, you can bet we would have touted our success to the skies if they had gotten even one.

    On the other hand, at least 27 civilians were killed in Afmadow, a town in southern Somalia. "My 4-year-old boy was killed in the strike," said Mohamed Mahmud Burale, who can hardly be expected to be grateful for his "liberation" at the hands of the U.S. and its Ethiopian allies.

    Oh well, it's just another day in Washington's "war on terrorism."

    If America is once again playing its role as world policeman, in this case we are clearly casting ourselves as the Keystone Kops. The Washington Post reports:

    "The Bush administration has been leading an international diplomatic effort to stabilize Somalia, including organizing an African peacekeeping force. It has called on leaders of Somalia's new transitional government to negotiate a power-sharing arrangement with moderate members of the Islamic leadership who are not seen as terrorist facilitators and who are supported by a significant segment of Somali clans."

    Unfortunately, however:
    "The Americans have gone for the jugular. The danger is that the high loss of life reported and the likelihood that many non-al-Qaeda sympathisers havebeen killed, including more moderate leaders of the defeated Union of Islamic Courts, could see the operation backfire spectacularly and unite Somalis againstits new US-supported government."
    The Americans have gone for their own jugular, because this will come back to haunt them – indeed, the ghosts of the slain are already exacting their revenge in the form of a developing insurgency.

    Mogadishu is roiled by protests, and the premature celebration of a "victory" in Somalia – taken up by the neocon set as an exemplar of how to do it right – is being rapidly undermined by the intrusion of reality.

    Any day now, I expect President Bush to burble the equivalent of "mission accomplished!"

    Then I'll know we're up to our necks in another quagmire, this time in the Horn of Africa – the only region on earth that rivals the Middle East in the persistence and intensity of its continuous warfare.

    It has the potential to become much worse than Iraq, however, albeit on a smaller scale. Because this time we're coming in on the heels of another foreign invader, Ethiopia, which is largely Christian (Coptic) and historically at odds with the Somalis: indeed, the Somali-Ethiopian relations are almost as bad as Ethiopia's longstanding loggerheads with neighboring Eritrea.

    In Meles Zenawi, Ethiopia's "President," we have a real winner, and I don't mean that in a good way.

    I put the scare quotes around his title because the Ethiopian electoral process is, shall we say, flawed – the first contest, boycotted by opposition parties, installed Zenawi in the office he had already occupied on an "interim" basis. The second time around, when he did face real opposition, Zenawi's party stole the election outright. Protests were stamped out with an iron heel, with Ethiopian troops firing on unarmed crowds: 193 were killed and many more wounded.
    Now a full partner in Washington's "war on terrorism," Zenawi's Ethiopia has one of the darkest human rights records in Africa: just south of Darfur [.pdf] the Ethiopians are conducting a campaign of systematic ethnic cleansing against dissident ethnic groups, such as the Anuak.

    In the desperately poor and violence-ridden Gambella region, and elsewhere throughout the country, Zenawi is conducting a terrorist campaign against his own people – yet he is now hailed as a great "anti-terrorist" fighter, both by the warlords of Washington and those of Somalia.

    The absurdity and criminality of our policy in the Horn of Africa is underscored by the ascension of Hussein Mohamed Aideed, the son of the hated warlord – and America's nemesis – Mohamed Farah Aideed, the villain of the "Black Hawk Down" narrative.

    When daddy died, sonny boy inherited the old warlord's mantle, which was suddenly transmuted into the white robes of a heroic pro-American ally.

    The only difference between father and son being that Aideed the Younger emigrated to America, grew up in southern California, and joined the Marines before he returned to become Interior Minister in the "transitional government" now being installed into semi-permanence by the U.S. and Ethiopia.

    He's our warlord, a reality that recalls Roosevelt's infamous remark about Nicaraguan dictator Anastasio Somoza.

    U.S. intervention is limited, as far as we know, to air strikes, but, as I pointed out not so long ago, the presence of American "boots on the ground" is only a matter of time, and probably not much time at that.

    Certainly we are positioned to directly intervene, what with the U.S. military base of operations in nearby Djibouti. As to whether we'll be seeing a "surge" against the developing Somali insurgency around this time next year – or sooner – is more than a matter of pure speculation.

    Now is the time to cut through the rhetorical subterfuge engaged in by this administration, and its Democratic enablers, and ask ourselves if this is what we really want.

    This time, we have the option to reject a course that is every day being proven wrong, and destructive to American interests: as to whether we will have the courage and the presence of mind to make the right decision, I have my doubts.

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    FACT: There is Indeed APARTHEID in ISRAEL

      by
    Shulamit Aloni
    (Shulamit Aloni is the the Israeli Prize laureate who once served as Minister of Education under Yitzhak Rabin. He is with Yediot Acharonot, Israel’s largest circulating newspaper. This article appeared in the Hebrew Ynet but not in the English-language Ynetnews)

    Read here full article in English Tranlated by Sol Salbe, an Australian editor.

    Read here article in Hebrew in Yediot Acharonot, Israel’s largest circulating newspaper.

    Quote:

    A new order issued by the GOC Central command bans the conveyance of Palestinians in Israeli vehicles.

    Such a blatant violation of the right to travel joins the long list of humans rights violations carried out by Israel in the [Occupied] Territories.


    Jewish self-righteousness is taken for granted among ourselves to such an extent that we fail to see what’s right in front of our eyes.

    It’s simply inconceivable that the ultimate victims, the Jews, can carry out evil deeds.

    Nevertheless, the state of Israel practises its own, quite violent, form of Apartheid with the native Palestinian population.

    The US Jewish Establishment’s onslaught on former President Jimmy Carter is based on him daring to tell the truth which is known to all: through its army, the government of Israel practises a brutal form of Apartheid in the territory it occupies.

    Its army has turned every Palestinian village and town into a fenced-in, or blocked-in, detention camp. All this is done in order to keep an eye on the population’s movements and to make its life difficult.

    Israel even imposes a total curfew whenever the settlers, who have illegally usurped the Palestinians’ land, celebrate their holidays or conduct their parades.

    If that were not enough, the generals commanding the region frequently issue further orders, regulations, instructions and rules (let us not forget: they are the lords of the land). By now they have requisitioned further lands for the purpose of constructing “Jewish only” roads. Wonderful roads, wide roads, well-paved roads, brightly lit at night – all that on stolen land. When a Palestinian drives on such a road, his vehicle is confiscated and he is sent on his way.

    On one occasion I witnessed such an encounter between a driver and a soldier who was taking down the details before confiscating the vehicle and sending its owner away.

    “Why?” I asked the soldier.

    It’s an order – this is a Jews-only road”, he replied.

    I inquired as to where was the sign indicating this fact and instructing [other] drivers not to use it.

    His answer was nothing short of amazing. “It is his responsibility to know it, and besides, what do you want us to do, put up a sign here and let some antisemitic reporter or journalist take a photo so he that can show the world that Apartheid exists here?”

    Indeed Apartheid does exist here.

    And our army is NOT “the most moral army in the world” as we are told by its commanders.

    Sufficient to mention that every town and every village has turned into a detention centre and that every entry and every exit has been closed, cutting it off from arterial traffic.

    If it were not enough that Palestinians are not allowed to travel on the roads paved ‘for Jews only’, on their land, the current GOC found it necessary to land an additional blow on the natives in their own land with an “ingenious proposal”.

    Humanitarian activists cannot transport Palestinians either

    Major-General Naveh, renowned for his superior patriotism, has issued a new order.

    Coming into affect on 19 January, it prohibits the conveyance of Palestinians without a permit.

    The order determines that Israelis are not allowed to transport Palestinians in an Israeli vehicle (one registered in Israel regardless of what kind of numberplate it carries) unless they have received explicit permission to do so. The permit relates to both the driver and the Palestinian passenger. Of course none of this applies to those whose labour serves the settlers.

    They and their employers will naturally receive the required permits so they can continue to serve the lords of the land, the settlers.

    Did man of peace President Carter truly err in concluding that Israel is creating Apartheid? Did he exaggerate?


  • Don’t the US Jewish community leaders recognise the International Convention on the Elimination of all Forms of Racial Discrimination of 7 March 1966, to which Israel is a signatory?

  • Are the US Jews who launched the loud and abusive campaign against Carter for supposedly maligning Israel’s character and its democratic and humanist nature unfamiliar with the International Convention on the Suppression and Punishment of the Crime of Apartheid of 30 November 1973?

  • Apartheid is defined therein as an international crime that among other things includes using different legal instruments to rule over different racial groups, thus depriving people of their human rights. Isn’t freedom of travel one of these rights?

    In the past, the US Jewish community leaders were quite familiar with the meaning of those conventions. For some reason, however, they are convinced that Israel is allowed to contravene them.
    • It’s OK to kill civilians, women and children, old people and parents with their children, deliberately or otherwise without accepting any responsibility.

    • It’s permissible to rob people of their lands, destroy their crops, and cage them up like animals in the zoo.

    • From now on, Israelis and International humanitarian organisations’ volunteers are prohibited from assisting a woman in labour by taking her to the hospital.

    • [Israeli human rights group] Yesh Din volunteers cannot take a robbed and beaten-up Palestinian to the police station to lodge a complaint. (Police stations are located at the heart of the settlements.) Is there anyone who believes that this is not Apartheid?

    Jimmy Carter does not need me to defend his reputation that has been sullied by Israelophile community officials.

    The trouble is that their love of Israel distorts their judgment and blinds them from seeing what’s in front of them.

    Israel is an occupying power that for 40 years has been oppressing an indigenous people, which is entitled to a sovereign and independent existence while living in peace with us.

    • We should remember that we too used very violent terror against foreign rule because we wanted our own state. And the list of victims of terror is quite long and extensive.

    • We do limit ourselves to denying the [Palestinian] people human rights.

    • We not only rob of them of their freedom, land and water.

    • We apply collective punishment to millions of people and even, in revenge-driven frenzy, destroy the electricity supply for one and half million civilians.

    • Let them “sit in the darkness” and “starve”.

    • Employees cannot be paid their wages because Israel is holding 500 million shekels that belong to the Palestinians.

    And after all that we remain “pure as the driven snow”.

    There are no moral blemishes on our actions. There is no racial separation. There is no Apartheid. It’s an invention of the enemies of Israel.

    Hooray for our brothers and sisters in the US! Your devotion is very much appreciated. You have truly removed a nasty stain from us. Now there can be an extra spring in our step as we confidently abuse the Palestinian population, using the “most moral army in the world”.


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     Wednesday, January 03, 2007

    Saddam's Illegal Execution is Part of US War Plan

      by

    Bert de Belder

    Read here full article

    Iraqi hangmen executed Saddam Hussein at the gallows in the early morning of Saturday December 30. Officially, the former Iraqi president was convicted for the execution in 1982 of 148 villagers in Dujail.

    In fact, Saddam was eliminated by the United States because he didn't want to surrender his country's oil and sovereignty.

    His execution is one more entry in a long list of US war crimes.

    Saddam's trial and execution are in blatant disregard of international humanitarian law. That is the opinion of Amnesty International, Human Rights Watch and peace organizations the world over.

    Purportedly, Saddam's trial was an Iraqi affair, but Uncle Sam's fingerprints are all over the place.


  • It were US troops who arrested Saddam. He was detained in Camp Cropper , a US air base.

  • The Special Iraqi Tribunal's statute was written by US lawyers.

  • The US invested more than 100 million dollars in the tribunal and intervened directly in the course of the trial.


  • Conveniently, the conviction came just in time for the US elections in order to influence the electorate in favor of Bush.

    Saddam's execution is fit for the propaganda offensive that Bush and his ilk have launched in order to neutralize the bad news from Iraq .

    Bush wants to send more troops to Baghdad , to a war the US have already lost.

    Saddam was definitely not a lamb.

    But when will the people stand trial:

  • who have used cluster bombs and white phosphorous against the Iraqi people;

  • those who are guilty of the siege of Fallujah and Najjaf that bombed and starved these cities' population to death;

  • those who are responsible for the anarchy and chaos the Iraqi people had to endure after the "liberation"?

  • Will the 655,000 Iraqi’s who died since the invasion in March 2003 ever be given justice?

  • What about the victims of torture in Abu Ghraib, and of those numerous other US and British war crimes?

  • Tommy Franks, Donald Rumsfeld, George Bush and Tony Blair – will they ever see their day in court?

    Whatever criticism one can make about Saddam Hussein's reign, ever more Iraqi's say they had it better under Saddam when compared to the hell and chaos under occupation.

    Recently, the independent Iraq Centre for Research and Strategic Studies held an opinion poll. Almost 90 percent of the Iraqis opine that Iraq ’s situation was better before the occupation. At least there used to be stability, some level of economic prosperity and access to health care and education. What's left of that today is nothing but a distant memory.

    Saddam's arrest three years ago didn't reduce resistance activity at all. Probably that will not be different after his execution. To the contrary, resistance has been intensifying gradually for some time now.

    The Pentagon's most recent Iraq report announces that there were on the average 959 attacks per week in Iraq in the period from August to November 2006, 70 percent of which were directed against the "coalition troops" (the US and their allies).

    This number is 2.5 times higher than in the April-July 2004 period. With 106 casualties, last December was the deadliest month for US soldiers in Iraq this year. The total number of US soldiers killed in Iraq has reached 2993.

    It is difficult to see how the execution of Saddam could help save US imperialism from defeat and humiliation.

    Saddam’s execution repudiated all over the world

    All rules of international law violated. Malcolm Smart, Director of the Middle East and North Africa for Amnesty International:
    "Amnesty opposes the death penalty in all circumstances and we deplore the death penalty in this case. It is because we consider that the trial was flawed in serious ways that it is more concerning that the death penalty should be imposed. The independence and impartiality of the court was impugned. There was political interference. Three defence lawyers were murdered. Saddam himself had no access to legal advice for a year." (BBC World, 30 December)
    Human Rights Watch:

    "The imposition of the death penalty - an inherently cruel and inhumane punishment - in the wake of an unfair trial is indefensible". (BBC World, 30 December)
    The Brussells Tribunal:
    “The Iraqi Higher Criminal Court that passed a death sentence on President Saddam Hussein is grounded on illegality. Occupying powers under international law are expressly prohibited from changing the judicial structures of occupied states. Created by Paul Bremer, the Iraqi Higher Criminal Court was never anything but a US-orchestrated puppet court.”

    Political reasons behind the execution

    Vrede vzw ( a Belgian peace movement):
    “It was a fake trial, not at all intended to judge Saddam’s crimes. His execution was a political act. It had to be done quickly, because Saddam Hussein stood symbol for part of the armed resistance. The execution came at a moment that the number of US military killed is nearing the 3,000 mark. More than ever, President Bush needs a ‘success story’ for his disastrous campaign in Iraq .”

    StopUSA (a Belgian anti-war movement):
    “In November 1532, the Inca king Atahualpa stood trial before the Spanish conquistadores. He was sentenced to death and hanged in August 1533. Among the accusations against him: he would have been ‘cruel for his enemies’. Whatever that may have meant, in any case the execution of Atahualpa has gone down in history not so much because of the man’s supposed or real cruelty, but because of the grotesque nature of this parody of justice. It won’t be different with Saddam’s execution.”

    Robert Fisk (Middle East journalist):
    “His execution will go down - correctly - as an American affair and time will add its false but lasting gloss to all this - that the West destroyed an Arab leader who no longer obeyed his orders from Washington, that, for all his wrongdoing Saddam died a "martyr" to the will of the new "Crusaders". (The Independent, 30 December)

    The International Action Center ( US ):
    “This punishment has nothing to do with the alleged crimes of the Iraqi leader nor is it part of an historical judgment of his role. It is the act of a conquering power against a nation that is occupied against the will of the vast majority of its people.”
    Professor Jose Maria Sison (the Philippines ):
    “Bush depicts the hanging of Saddam as a part of building democracy in Iraq and even in the entire Middle East . But he is clearly lying in view of the so many authoritarian regimes (including monarchic and theocratic ones) in the region with which the US has good relations. The brutal US occupation of Iraq has nothing to do with democracy. What is important to the US is servility to the rule and profit-making of US monopoly interests.”
    Cebrapaz ( Brazilian Center of Solidarity with the Peoples and Struggle for Peace):
    "The president of the USA , who ordered this act, enters in history as the greatest enemy of the peace and the greatest terrorist of all time. The wrld will only know better days, of peace and justice, when imperialism and its war politics are defeated."

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    Maliki and his Iraqi Psychopaths Managing the Execution of Saddam Hussein, With American Support

      Read here full article

    It's official. Maliki and his people are psychopaths.

    This really is a new low. It's outrageous- an execution during Eid. Muslims all over the world (with the exception of Iran) are outraged.

    Eid is a time of peace, of putting aside quarrels and anger- at least for the duration of Eid.

    This does not bode well for the coming year.

    No one imagined the madmen would actually do it during a religious holiday. It is religiously unacceptable and before, it was constitutionally illegal.

    We thought we'd at least get a few days of peace and some time to enjoy the Eid holiday, which coincides with the New Year this year. We've spent the first two days of a holy holiday watching bits and pieces of a sordid lynching.

    America the savior… After nearly four years and Bush's biggest achievement in Iraq has been a lynching. Bravo Americans.

    Maliki has made the mistake of his life.

    His signature and unhidden glee at the whole execution, especially on the first day of Eid Al Adha (the Eid where millions of Muslims make a pilgrimage to Mecca), will only do more to damage his already tattered reputation.

    He's like a vulture in a suit (or a balding weasel). It's almost embarrassing. I kept expecting Muwafaq Al Rubaii to run over and wipe the drool from the corner of his mouth as he signed for the execution.

    Are these the people who represent the New Iraq? We're in so much more trouble than I ever thought.

    And no- not the celebrations BBC are claiming. With the exception of a few areas, the streets are empty.

    Now we come to CNN. Shame on you CNN journalists- you're getting lazy. The least you can do is get the last words correct when you write a story about an execution. Your articles are read the world over and will go down in history as references.

    You people are the biggest news network in the world- the least you can do is spend some money on a decent translator.

    Saddam's last words were NOT "Muqtada Al Sadr" as Munir Haddad claimed, according to the article below. If anyone had seen at least part of the video they showed on TV, you'd know that.

    From the video that was leaked, it was not an executioner who yelled "long live Muqtada al-Sadr".

    See, this is another low the Maliki government sunk to- they had some hecklers conveniently standing by during the execution. Maliki claimed they were "some witnesses from the trial", but they were, very obviously, hecklers.

    The moment the noose was around Saddam's neck, they began chanting, in unison, "God's prayers be on Mohamed and on Mohamed's family…"

    Something else I didn't quite catch (but it was very coordinated), and then "Muqtada, Muqtada, Muqtada!" One of them called out to Saddam, "Go to hell…" (in Arabic). Saddam looked down disdainfully and answered "Heya hay il marjala…?" which is basically saying, "Is this your manhood…?".

    Someone half-heartedly called out to the hecklers, "I beg you, I beg you- the man is being executed!"

    They were slightly quieter and then Saddam stood and said, "Ashadu an la ilaha ila Allah, wa ashhadu ana Mohammedun rasool Allah…" Which means, "I witness there is no god but Allah and that Mohammed is His messenger." These are the words a Muslim (Sunnis and Shia alike) should say on their deathbed. He repeated this one more time, very clearly, but before he could finish it, he was lynched.

    So, no, CNN, his last words were not "Muqtada Al Sadr" in a mocking tone- just thought someone should clear that up. (Really people, six of you contributed to that article!)

    Muwafaq Al Rubai was said he was "weak and frightened".

    Apparently, Rubai saw a different lynching because according to the video they leaked, he didn't look frightened at all. His voice didn't shake and he refused to put on the black hood. He looked resigned to his fate, and during the heckling he looked as defiant as ever. (It's quite a contrast to Muhsin Abdul Hameed's public hysterics last year when the Americans raided his home.)

    It's one thing to have militias participating in killings.

    This is allegedly the democracy the Americans flaunt. Is this how bloodthirsty and frightening we've become?

    Is this what Iraq stands for now? Executions?

    I'm sure the rest of the Arab countries will be impressed.

    One of the most advanced countries in the world did not help to reconstruct Iraq, they didn't even help produce a decent constitution. They did, however, contribute nicely to a kangaroo court and a lynching. A lynching shall go down in history as America's biggest accomplishment in Iraq.

    So who's next? Who hangs for the hundreds of thousands who've died as a direct result of this war and occupation? Bush? Blair? Maliki? Jaffari? Allawi? Chalabi?

    2006 has definitely been representative of Maliki and his government- killings like never before and a lynching to end it properly.

    Death and destruction everywhere.

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     Tuesday, January 02, 2007

    Former Malaysian PM Mahathir: " Saddam's Execution is Barbaric, Sadistic and Public Murder"

      Read here full article

    Barbaric, sadistic and a public murder.

    This was how former Malaysian prime minister Dr Mahathir Mohamad described Saturday's execution of deposed Iraqi president Saddam Hussein.

    Mahathir said the execution was sanctioned by U.S. president George W. Bush and British prime minister Tony Blair, whom he labelled as war criminals.

    Mahathir accused Bush of killing more Iraqis than President Saddam ever did. Over 500,000 children died as a result of economic sanctions, and the latest findings by the medical journal, Lancet revealed that over 650,000 Iraqis had died since the illegal invasion.

    He said the sadistic act of broadcasting the execution to the whole world was a travesty of justice and meant to demonstrate the imperial power of the United States and served as a warning to peace loving people that they must either bow to the dictates of the Bush administration or face the consequences of a public lynching.

    Mahathir, who is a member of International Committee for the Defence of Saddam, said the former president's lynching was also an insult to all Muslims as it occurred on the Holy Day of Eid when Muslims devote themselves to prayer and forgiveness.

    He said Saddam's entire trial process was a mockery of justice in no less a Kangaroo Court. Mahathir said:

    "It is all too clear that the war criminal Bush has no sensitivities whatsoever for Muslims on their pilgrimage to Mecca. This barbaric act is a sacrilege.

    Defence counsels were brutally murdered, witnesses threatened and judges removed for being impartial and replaced by puppet judges. Yet, we are told that Iraq was invaded to promote democracy, freedom and justice.

    If we support human rights and justice, we must condemn this barbaric lynching of Saddam Hussein.

    There can be no excuse whatsoever for this injustice under any circumstances. Bush and the puppet regime in Iraq have made a mockery of the rule of law."
    If President Saddam Hussein is guilty of war crimes, then the world must find Bush, Blair and John Howard (Australian prime minister) equally guilty and the International Criminal Court cannot but prosecute these war criminals

    Dr Mahathir, a vocal opponent of the U.S-led invasion of Iraq in 2003 when he was prime minister, said what happened now was that a peaceful country had been turned into a war zone.

    He said the inaction thus far by the International Criminal Court against Bush, Blair and Howard exposed its double standard when it did not hesitate to prosecute war crimes committed in Darfur, Rwanda and Kosovo.

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     Monday, January 01, 2007

    Iraq War: Milestone Reached - 3,000th American Soldier DEAD

     

    NOTE: The terrorist attacks on 9/11 killed 2,973 victims in New York, Washington and Pennsylvania.

    Read here full article

    As 2006 came to an end, the steadily rising toll of U.S. troops killed in Iraq hit another grim milestone — 3,000.

    The 3,000th U.S. military death comes in the wake of the execution of deposed President Saddam Hussein, an event that military leaders believe will lead to more attacks against U.S. troops, at least in the short term.

    Asked about the latest death toll, White House spokesman Scott Stanzel said Bush "grieves for each one" .

    The U.S. military took NO official notice of the 3,000 figure, and some commanders played down the number of fatalities.
    U.S. Marine Corps Commandant Gen. James T. Conway said in an interview that, given the significance of Iraq and Afghanistan to U.S. national security, the death toll in those two countries has not been excessive. On average, slightly more than two U.S. troops die in Iraq a day, compared with 300 or more a day during World War II, he said.

    The most recently announced deaths were typical of many in the last several months: The Pentagon said that Spc. Dustin R. Donica, 22, of Spring, Texas, had been killed Thursday by small-arms fire in Baghdad.

    Overall, the rate of military fatalities has remained steady for more than 2 1/2 years, since the insurgency against the U.S. occupation of Iraq began to gain strength in 2004.
    • The 2003 spring U.S. invasion took the lives of 140 American troops.

    • In September, 2004, the 1,000th death was announced.

    • In October, 2005, the 2,000th American military death was announced.
    • In December 2006, the 3,000th death was announced
    U.S. casualties continue to be eclipsed by the death toll among Iraqis.
    At least 5,900 Iraqi police officers and soldiers have died since 2003, according to the Iraq Index, a database issued by Brookings Institution think tank.
    Estimates of IRAQI civilian death tolls have varied widely, from tens of thousands to more than half a million.

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    Thailand: Bomb Blasts on New Year's Eve in Bangkok and Chengmai

      Read HERE for more and HERE and HERE and HERE

    At least six small bombs exploded around Bangkok late Sunday, followed by two more just after midnight, killing two people and injuring at least 28 in a city that remains under martial law following a coup three months ago.

    There was no immediate claim of responsibility.

    The two bombs that exploded moments after midnight near a downtown mall injured eight people, including six foreigners, the police said today.

    The national police chief said he doubted that Muslim insurgents from southern Thailand were involved, leaving the likelihood that the violence was tied to the country’s continuing political tensions.

    “The bombs exploded almost simultaneously,” said Prime Minister Surayud Chulanont as he visited the injured at a hospital following the first six explosions. “It must have been planned.” But he said it was too early to conclude who was responsible.

    Police officers were sent to guard the sites of the bombings and to secure other possible targets. Hotels tightened security, shopping malls closed early and the police cleared the Khao San Road walking street, where backpackers from around the world gather at New Year’s.

    The national police chief, Gen. Ajirawit Suphanaphesat, said Sunday night that at least six bombs exploded and that the police were inspecting suspicious packages in several other areas. Officials said two people had been killed and more than 20 injured in scattered locations that included a bus stop, a parking area near a shopping mall, a small open market and two police posts.

    Bangkok’s mayor, Apirak Kosayothin, carried out the New Year’s countdown in a public square more than three hours early.

    Due to several bomb explosions in Bangkok and for the sake of peace and security, I would ask all of you to return to your homes now,” he told a crowd of 5,000 people. The police then began clearing the square.

    Some people remained in the streets, however, waving from behind television reporters at the scenes of some of the bombings.

    Police reinforcements have been sent to various areas in the city,” said the government’s spokesman, Yongyuth Malyalarp. “We urge the public to remain calm.”

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