January 2nd, 2012

The casualties

I have no idea how “hot” Iraq is in the US after the withdrawal of the troops. Notwithstanding, IraqBodyCount published the latest data, all in interactive, informative graphs. Some data:

  • Total body count: 162.000
  • Civilian percentage: 79% those 162.000
  • Under age 18: 8.5% of deaths with obtained age record (45.779)

The number of civilian deaths in Iraq in 2011 was almost at the same level as in 2010 – there has now been no noticeable downward trend since mid-2009. As observed in IBC’s previous annual report, recent trends indicate a persistent low-level conflict in Iraq that will continue to kill civilians at a similar rate for years to come.1 While these data indicate no improvement, time will tell whether the withdrawal of US forces will have an effect on casualty levels.

June 20th, 2011

Blow your brains out with the help of “100.5 The Fox,” KBFX.

Enjoying the tunes that Alice Cooper is playing on his syndicated radio show broadcast tonight by KBFX, “100.5 the Fox.” KBFX is a “classic rock” FM station owned by Clear Channel Communications – a “right wing” media monopoly. I find the frequent Army National Guard commercials, broadcast by KBFX, commercials that feature a come on that enlisting in The Guard might provide a sign-up bonus that MIGHT provide enough money to pay off student loans to the many unemployed college grads (up to $50,000) a real downer. Don’t try contacting anybody at this Clear Channel station to complain, the contact link goes nowhere. BTW the military commercials on KBFX are sponsored, at least in part, by the Alaska Broadcasters Association; who are these people and what are they up to? Tell ‘em what you think.

January 25th, 2010

The execution

Hassan al-Majeed, alias Ali Chemicali, has been hanged today. The was the guy ordering poison gas attacks on the kurds, killing mostly women and children (not that that last fact matters). I will confess this is a tough one to have an opinion. Lets just say I cannot condemn the ones who cheer his execution. I can’t believe I wrote that.

January 24th, 2010

The legality of the invasion

After years of stalling, my administration finally caved in a few months ago and “allowed” a commission of wise men to investigate how we were led into the Iraq war.

Quick reminder: when the US started the 2nd Iraq war, we were asked to join the coalition. The administration cowardly refused to send our boys and girls in, but supported the invasion by mouth. The actual words were “we do not provide any military support, but do support the Iraq invasion politically. As soon as the “mission was completed”, read Saddam was pushed out of the way, our military did go in for “peacekeeping”, in the Basra area.

Last week, the commission produced its final report and concluded the principal argument to support the war (Iraq not acting according to the U.N. resolutions) was not enough juridical basis. One member insisted on stating that other reasons beyond i.e. self-defence might indeed condone going to war, but this argument was always firmly rejected by the administration.

The administration was not amused and after two days of serious political tensions issued a statement that “in hindsight, with the knowledge of today, another decision might have been taken”. A statement that was quickly dismissed by Davids, the commissions chairman, stating there were absolutely no new insights revealed to the administration by his commission.

This week, the same process is going on in the U.K., who did go in with the U.S. military. The Guardian:

Tony Blair’s decision to take Britain to war in Iraq was illegal, the Foreign Office’s former chief legal adviser will tell the Chilcot inquiry this week.

The Observer has been told that Sir Michael Wood, who was the FO’s most senior lawyer, is ready to reveal that, in the run-up to war, he was of the opinion that the conflict would have been unlawful without a second UN resolution. This will provide an explosive backdrop to the former prime minister’s appearance before the inquiry on Friday.

Don’t hold your breath: I very, very much doubt this will have any political consequences. The best we can hope is things will be done a tiny bit smarter in the future.

January 23rd, 2010

Stop Loss sucks

Search that on Google (or some other engine).

February 8th, 2009

Winter in Holland

Dutch winter is, I guess, a bit different than, say, Alaskan. More moderate, and well, we haven’t had some serious natural ice for 12 years. So when it arrived in early January, well, it makes for a few pictures I would like to share. Get out the skates! The conversion to flash is not flawless, but hey, I am not going to post PowerPoint files here. Ignore the captions and enjoy. Click for next slide.

November 3rd, 2008

Eve of Destruction

Noam Chomsky recently noted that the United States has one political party with two factions: the Republicans and the Democrats. The elections to be held this Tuesday in the United States will, no doubt, impact people around the world, some for better and many for worse. I’m not sure why, but I was poking around in my “archives” tonight and revisited a lecture that has had a big impact on how I view my country. Speaking at Riverside Church in New York City author Arundhati Roy delivered her thoughts in a message titled, “Instant Mix Imperial Democracy (Buy One Get One Free),” on April 13, 2003.

Roy noted, among many other things, that:

Way back in 1988, on the 3rd of July, the U.S.S. Vincennes, a missile cruiser stationed in the Persian Gulf, accidentally shot down an Iranian airliner and killed 290 civilian passengers. George Bush the First, who was at the time on his presidential campaign, was asked to comment on the incident. He said quite subtly, “I will never apologize for the United States. I don’t care what the facts are.”

I don’t care what the facts are. What a perfect maxim for the New American Empire. Perhaps a slight variation on the theme would be more apposite: The facts can be whatever we want them to be.

When the United States invaded Iraq, a New York Times/CBS News survey estimated that 42 percent of the American public believed that Saddam Hussein was directly responsible for the September 11th attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon. And an ABC News poll said that 55 percent of Americans believed that Saddam Hussein directly supported Al Qaida. None of this opinion is based on evidence (because there isn’t any). All of it is based on insinuation, auto-suggestion, and outright lies circulated by the U.S. corporate media, otherwise known as the “Free Press,” that hollow pillar on which contemporary American democracy rests.

Public support in the U.S. for the war against Iraq was founded on a multi-tiered edifice of falsehood and deceit, coordinated by the U.S. government and faithfully amplified by the corporate media.

Good luck to us all.

A written transcript of Roy’s presentation is available here.

June 1st, 2008

The retreat

From the Huffington Post.

???????? ????? ????????SYDNEY, Australia — Australia, a staunch U.S. ally and one of the first countries to commit troops to the Iraq war five years ago, ended combat operations there Sunday, a Defense Department official said.

Australian Prime Minister Kevin Rudd was swept into office in November largely on the promise that he would bring home the country’s 550 combat troops by the middle of 2008.

Rudd has said the Iraq deployment has made Australia more of a target for terrorism.

The combat troops are expected to return home over the next few weeks. Local media reports said the first of the soldiers had already landed in Australia on Sunday afternoon.

Time to go.

November 17th, 2007

The retreat by Poland

Poland, one of the most loyal allies of the US in the Iraq war, will retreat their military from Iraq next year. New prime minister Tusk said Washington should understand that promise was one of the reasons his party won the election.

September 21st, 2007

The cholera outbreak

In Northern Iraq there is an outbreak of cholera, caused by lack of sanitation.