Thursday, July 20, 2006

Summer's here and the time is right for . . . sweating in the heat

"Iraq Snapshot" (The Common Ills):
Chaos and violence continue.
At least five bombs went off in Iraq today, according to Reuters. But don't fret for the Operation Happy Talkers, the military is pushing "Operation Baghdad is Beautiful" wherein the "trash, debris and barrier materials" are being removed. While it is true that Lady Bird Johnson had a beautification program in the United States, she didn't try to implement it in Vietnam. This as William Caldwell (US major general) announces that attacks in the "Bahgdad area" have incresed 40% this month. Is that 'beautiful' as well? Maybe they can slap some blue bonnets on it? Meanwhile the BBC notes: "But the US military admitted on Thursday the massive security clampdown that followed the killing of al-Qaeda leader in Iraq Abu Musab al-Zarqawi had achieved only a 'slight downtick' in violence." Or, as Adnan Dulaimi told Borzou Daragahi (LA Times), "What is happening in Iraq is a disaster and a tragedy."
The Associated Press notes that ten are dead as a result of a car bombing near a gas station in Beiji and one dead (and seven wounded) from a car bomb in Kirkuk. Reuters reports five were wounded near Karbala from a roadside bomb; a bomb that exploded near a police patrol in Baghdad killed two (wounded 11 including 5 police officers); while another bomb in Baghdad (the third for the day) killed three; ten people were wounded from a roadside bomb near Najaf; and one person was wounded from a bomb near Diwaniya.
Reuters notes the shooting death of a cab driver in Diwaniya; three oil engineers in Baiji; police officers in Tikrit and Falluja (one in each city); and one in Baghdad.
CBS and the AP report that four corpses were found in Baghdad. The AFP notes that Iraqi police are saying the number is 38 corpses discovered in Baghdad "in the last 24 hours." Reuters reports that Baghdad morgues' figures for July, thus far, are "about 1,000 corpses." Reuters notes a cab driver whose corpse was found in his taxi in Numaniya; two corpses discovered near Balad; and the corpse of a translator who had been kidnapped Tuesday was discovered near Tikrit.
Centcom announced "A Marine assigned to 1st Brigade, 1st Armored Division died due to enemy action while operating in Al Anbar Province today."
Reporting on Iraq yesterday Aaron Glantz (The KPFA Evening News, Free Speech Radio News) explored the security situation speaking with a number of people including one Iraq male, Ali, in charge of investigating the Tuesday bombing in KUFA who delcared, "The police doesn't have any information about anything. They're just kids. They don't really check anything at checkpoints, they just ask people where they are from and let them go without checking anything. Until recently you didn't any kind of diploma to get into the police. Now they have changed it so that you have to have graduated from middle school to apply to be a police officer." Glantz also spoke with an Iraqi professor, Shakir Mustafa of Boston University, in the US who is attempting to get his family out of Iraq. The professor explained how neighboring countries are growing less welcoming to those who flee from Iraq with Glantz noting the UN predictions of how things would grow increaingly worse for Iraqi refugees (child labor, sex traficcing, malnutrition and poverty).
Meanwhile, Ahmed Rasheed (Reuters) reports on a refugee camp in Baghdad which Um Abdullah says was attacked with gunfire and that this and other events have caused all but five of thirty-four families to leave the camp. Reuters estimates that over 30,000 Iraqis have fled their homes and become refugess in the last three weeks.In Australia, the inquiry into the April death of Jake Kovco continues. Australia's ABC reports that Judy Kovco walked out on the inquiry when Wayne Hoffman gave testimony that the wounds that killed her son were self-inflicted. Hoffman's testimony included a twelve-point presentation and flies in the face of the testimony given by Detective Inspector Wayne Hayes which found DNA other than Jake Kovco's on the gun believed to be the weapon. Hayes wants "up to thirty" of Kovco's fellow troops in Iraq to submit to DNA tests and homocide detectives have left for Baghdad to begin testing. Belinda Tasker (Courier-Mail) reports that attorneys for Judy and Martin Kovco, Lt Col Frank Holles, and for the solider's widow Shelley Kovco, Lt Col Tom Berkley, objected to Hoffman's arguments noting "There are a number of assertions in there ... which aren't conclusive of the findings they purport to reach," and "at the end of the day you can't say whether the firing of the firearm was intentional or unintentional, it's all predicated on the fact that it was Jake."
Yesterday in Iraq, an attack in Basra indicated the level of hostility some Iraqis feel towards the occupation. As Daveed Mandel noted on The KPFA Evening News: "Today, assailants slit the throats of a mother and her three children in southern Iraq where the family had fled to escape threats stemming from accusations that they cooperated with Americans. The mother's sister was also slain in the southern city of Basara. Five other family members were rescued but they almost bled to death."
And yesterday in the United States, the AP reports, an Article 28 hearing was held to determine whether or there is evidence to warrant a trial of Nathan B. Lynn and Milton Ortiz Jr. for alleged actions in Ramadi where they are accused of killing an Iraqi man on February 15 of this year and then planting a gun by him to make him look like an "insurgent." The AP notes: "Ortiz also faces one count of assault and one count of communicating a threat for a separate incident on March 8, when he allegedly put an unloaded weapon against the head of an Iraqi man and threatened to send him to prison, the military said."
Finally, the body of Abeer Qassim Hamza will not be exhumed reports Reuters. The family is refusing the request and Reuters quotes Muayyad Fadhil as saying, "It is disgraceful to remove a body after burial." Abeer Qassim Hamza and three members of her family were murdered in March. Six US soldiers have been charged in the incident (one with failure to report the incident) and five with rape and murder. Of the five, four are currently serving in the military. Steven D. Green is the only one charged (with rape and with murder) who has left the military. Reuters notes: "U.S. court documents in the case of Green indicate that other defendants say he killed three family members then raped Abeer al-Janabi and killed her too. They accuse one other soldier of raping the girl and a further two of being in the house during the killings." The five others charged are Paul E. Cortez, Anthony W. Yribe, James P. Barker, Jesse V. Spielman, and Bryan L. Howard (Yribe is the one charged with dereliction of duty for failing to report the incident).

Okay, let's all give it up for C.I. on day 16 of the fast and still tracking events in Iraq. C.I. finally wrote about the fast in "Ani DiFranco and fasting (C.I. guesting for Kat)" -- wrote about it in personal terms. There was a reluctance on that because C.I. thought it should be a group piece since we all did the Fourth fast and also because C.I. doesn't want to seem like, "Everybody do this! Do it now!" (and worries about anyone with a health condition going on a fast without medical advice). I really enjoyed reading about that. C.I. really underplays it in conversations. (You can get Iraq talk and why the fast is important but you don't get much about the reality of the fast.) And if you start saying something like, "I wish I had that kind of willpower" or anything that's like (or seems like) a bit of praise (for C.I.), C.I. immediately changes the topic. So I was glad to read "Ani DiFranco and fasting (C.I. guesting for Kat)" which was just a really personal way of talking about the fast. The Third Estate Sunday Review gang (Ava, Jess, Ty, Jim and Dona -- C.I.'s a part of that too) are all staying with C.I. (I think for the rest of the summer) as house guests and I know some details from them but C.I. talks about it in terms of Iraq (which is good because that is the focus of the fast) but, yeah, I've been curious about the day to day effects. So I really enjoyed reading that.

If you're not familiar with the fast, you can find out more information by going to CODEPINK or TROOPS HOME FAST!.

Turning to the heat in this country, I thought I had it bad. I e-mailed Dallas and Billie, two community members who live in the Dallas-Fort Worth area in Texas, to check on how things were heat wise. They were up to 104 degrees today. 104 degrees. And, get this, that's their tenth day in a row where the temp has been over a hundred degrees. I can't imagine that. The heat's kicing my rear as it is and I don't have anything like that to put up with.

That's really going to be it for me tonight. I've got people coming over tomorrow because my cousin really wants to follow Mike's lead and have a regular get together every Friday night where we discuss the war. And, no surprise, he wants to have it here and not at his place. So I've got people coming over tomorrow and the place is a mess. I was wiped out from the heat all week and I don't think I've ever let the apartment go like this. I mean, I need to pick up dirty clothes (and do the wash), take some dishes out of the fridge and wash them (I've talked about that before but, if someone's dropping by for the first time, my apartment doesn't have a dishwasher -- other than me! -- and when I'm too tired to do dishes, I put the dirty ones in the fridge so I don't end up with a roach problem), I should probably run the vacuum and do some dusting (but I'll probably pass on the dusting if I get the other stuff done) and I need to clean the bathroom and scrub the toilet. So that's it for tonight.


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