Sunday, April 30, 2006

Teach the Iraqis Franklin and Martin Luther King

"Juan Cole, a blogger and professor of Middle Eastern history at the University of Michigan, has come up with an intriguing idea for how to fill the deplomacy gap in the Middle East"
In Iraq for 365
If you think books are important, you can also click on the link for Topsy N. Smalley
on my side bar. Topsy list on his page, among other things:

Iraq Textbooks Project: Word

Higher Education in Iraq: Textbooks & Libraries

Nice to see that people are finally coming around to this idea of putting good books in the hands of people that might never have read them.

More Iraqis say country headed in wrong direction, poll shows

"NB: Before you continue reading, contemplate this picture, are they American patriots or traitors?

According to a nationwide poll conducted by the Washington-based International Republican Institute (IRI) , 62% of Iraqis believe the country is more divided than at any time.

From all 18 provinces:

Fifty-two - 52% - say the country is going in the wrong direction. This is compared to 32% during the same period in 2005."
Truth about Iraqis
I want another choice, how about the people in that picture are regular Americans enjoying their weekend. Can we contemplate that.

“No one will go in before being searched...”

"Like everyday, Ahmed was going back home after a long day at work. Since college and since he started his job as a government employee in 2004, he did not have any problem in transportation. Most Iraqi middle and working class people use government buses and private minibuses for their transportation.

Lined up near the old non-functional traffic lights in Bab al-Muadham district in central Baghdad, KIA minibuses were empty. Angry people, including Ahmed, argued with the drivers to let them in. “No one will go in before being searched,” one driver told the mob. Men and women disagreed first but later surrendered to the driver’s insistence to save their lives. There might be a terrorist putting on an explosive belt or carrying a bag with a bomb ready to cut the people’s body into pieces."
Treasure of Baghdad

Judgement Day by Iran

"According to Al Sharq Al Awsat, Iran will literally set the entire world on fire if attacked.
Eight fundamentalist Islamist organizations have received large sums of money in the last month from the Iranian intelligence services, as part of a project to strike U.S military and economic installations across the Middle East Asharq Al-Awsat has learned.

The plan, which also includes the carrying out of suicide operations targeting US and British interests in the region, as well as their Arab and Muslim allies, in case Iran is attacked, was drawn up by a number of experts guerilla warfare and terrorist operations, and was revealed by a senior source in the Iranian armed forces' joint chief of staff headed by the veterinary doctor Hassan Firouzabadi,
Big Pharaoh

Get Up Stand Up

"The battle raging the past few months concerning free speech (i.e. Muhammad cartoons) has gotten me thinking about what things are worth fighting for. Should we battle Islamic extremism in the world today? Should we fight for freedom of speech? Should we fight for freedom to be spread across the world to places that are unaccustomed to it? Should we fight to stop the production of nuclear weapons in countries like Iran? What exactly should we do as the sole superpower in the world today? Do we have an obligation, or even just a good reason, to fight for these things or should we just build a big fence around America and keep everything at bay for as long as we can?"
I don't know I keep hearing a lot about a fence? I think a lot of people see that as the right solution. I think they want a fence for many reasons, some they say in public, like immigration, other reasons they say in private for public appearances.

Like I said before, terrorism is against my religion because it threatens one of it's fundamental tenants, freedom and liberty. And we can't have that.
So I say, Death to the infidels, their supporters, and all those who stand by on the sidelines when terrorist act in their name.

For whatever reason, providence or just plain bad luck it again falls to US to protects ourselves and others from a scourge that threatens the liberty of millions with a destructive ideology with imperialistic aims.

We are coming, we are not afraid, we will destroy our enemies wherever we find them.


"ENERGY IDIOCY....I'll confess that I'm a little tired of columns expressing outrage about our childish bipartisan temper tantrum over $3 gasoline — where were these guys last year when Dick Cheney's energy industry giveaway passed? — but there's certainly no arguing with the underlying charge:"
I could not agree more with this, except for the part about ANWR, and the reason I oppose that is because I oppose drilling off the coast of Florida, or the Everglades. Even if Bush has already found a runabout and has been drilling wells for Cuban dictator castro, 45 miles off the coast of Florida in the Cuban plots of the Gulf of Mexico. I can't stop Bush from trading with the enemy, but I can put my foot down here in Florida, and ANWR.

Zawahri and Osama harm Islam for Political Purpose

"Zawahri and Osama harm Islam using politics and everyone one is wondering if these two have released news this week for a purpose. Who knows, at the same time there have been numerous Islamic peacebuilding conferences going on around the world at the same time, countering their use of Islam for political reasons. One in Jordan, two others in the US (one of which I was suppose to present my paper, yes, I finally finished my research, Islamic Approaches and Principles of Dialogue).

Really, I think these two men have totally lost it and are out of touch with reality or have an aim of self fulfilling prophecy. The fact is, their words and actions have harmed Islam and Muslims beyond anything the US or anyone outside of the Ummah could achieve. Both men have issued statements that are purely political and have not contributed to Da’wah or Islam in anyway. I wonder who is paying them to destroy and desecrate the religion and the Prophet’s teachings, peace be upon him."
Pearls of Iraq

100% hand made perfect quality wife....

"Remember the time when I wrote about how one US company was making millions and it built nothing...Now that it is published, I can speak about it...Im reading an article right now about that same company in the LA Times. Its funny how the contractors blame the Gov and vice versa....In all honesty and truth, and I should know cuz I know people who worked on this project, Parsons are the ones to blame for the massive failure. The project managers who were overseeing Parson's progress, predicted that the program will never finish in Dec of 2005. Parsons promised to deliver 142 Primary health care clinics (PHCs) by end of Dec, the project managers predicted only a few will be completed by then. But the upper managemet believed who else but Parsons, in hope that they might be saying the truth....Umm yeah sure..."
Neurotic Iraqi Wife
Sounds like a failure of the Gov. to me. Or more like I have been saying all along mismanagement.

Reconciliation in Iraq

"Al-Jazeera TV broadcasted a video message from Al Qaeda leader in Iraq, Musa'ab al-Zarqawi, in which he urged his followers to intensify their attacks on American soldiers and other foreign soldiers deployed in Iraq. In my opinion most Iraqi people support their new elected government and parliament. Despite the threats and violence they went to the polling stations and elected their government and parliament and they are making political progress and working for their unity. So in this situation they will not support any insurgency from the rebels. For the past 3 years thousands of innocent Iraqi muslims have been killed during the terrorists attacks. The insurgents are not capable of fighting with the foreign soldiers and Iraqi army so therefor they mostly cowardly target the innocent Iraqi civilians. As we know, it's impossible for insurgents to defeat the elected government of Iraq. So it's for their betterment to lay down their weapons and start their civilian life. I hope the Iraqi government will start an amnesty program. It will strengthen the peace process in Iraq and it will be a great opportunity for those who want to lay down their weapons and join the government."
Afghan Warrior


"Once again, it looks as though apologists for the Turkish state are blaming PKK for the pounding of Turkish war drums at the phony border with South Kurdistan, as if the PKK bore any responsibility for the fact that official Turkish ideology has always promoted racism against everyone not Turkish, and especially with regard to Kurds. Long before PKK was ever imagined, Kurdish desire for independence, complete with full Kurdish cultural and political rights, was the target of Kemalism. Yet, for the apologist, it is PKK alone that has provoked racism on the part of the Turkish state, never mind that the apologist pays lip service to the remote possibility of Turkish atrocities against the Kurdish people for the last 83 years."

Saturday, April 29, 2006

War clouds

LET ME TELL YOU about the next war.

It will start sooner than you think — sometime between now and September. And it will be precipitated by the $700-million Russian deal this week to sell Tor air defense missile systems to Iran.

When the war begins, it will be between Iran and Israel. Before it ends, though, it may set the whole of the Middle East on fire, pulling in the United States, leaving a legacy of instability that will last for generations and permanently ending a century of American supremacy.

Despite the high stakes, the Bush administration seems barely to have noticed the danger posed by the Russian missile sale. But the signs are there, for those inclined to read them.

As international pressure over their nuclear program mounts, the Iranians have become increasingly bellicose toward the U.S. and Israel. On Monday, Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad said Israel was a "fake regime" that "cannot logically continue to live." On Wednesday, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, Iran's supreme leader, warned that "if the U.S. ventured into any aggression on Iran, Iran will retaliate by damaging the U.S. interests worldwide."

Israel has upped the rhetorical heat as well. On Tuesday, Prime Minister Ehud Olmert reiterated Israel's determination to "make sure no one has the capability or the power to commit destruction against us."

This alone should make any observer jittery. In June 1981, Israel unilaterally launched an airstrike against a nuclear reactor near Baghdad. Iran's nuclear facilities are dispersed and well-concealed, making a preemptive Israeli strike far more difficult this time around. But there's no reason to doubt Israel's willingness to try.

Of course, there's no firm evidence that Iran has offensive nuclear capabilities. And even a successful military strike against Iran would be a risky move for Israel, potentially igniting regionwide instability. Absent external meddling, Israel has a substantial incentive to wait to see if a diplomatic solution can be found.

But Russian brinksmanship is about to remove Israel's incentive to pursue a peaceful diplomatic path.

Russian leaders continue to mouth the usual diplomatic platitudes about democracy and global cooperation, but Russia is actually playing a complex double game. On Tuesday, Russia launched a spy satellite for Israel, which the Israelis can use to monitor Iran's nuclear facilities. On the same day, Russian leaders confirmed their opposition to any U.N. Security Council effort to impose sanctions against Iran, and their intention to go through with the lucrative sale of 29 Tor M1 air defense missile systems to Iran.

"There are no circumstances which would get in the way of us carrying out our commitments in the field of military cooperation with Iran," declared Nikolai Spassky, deputy head of Russia's National Security Council.

The upcoming deployment of Tor missiles around Iranian nuclear sites dramatically changes the calculus in the Middle East, and it significantly increases the risk of a regional war. Once the missile systems are deployed, Iran's air defenses will become far more sophisticated, and Israel will likely lose whatever ability it now has to unilaterally destroy Iran's nuclear facilities.

The clock is ticking for Israel. To have a hope of succeeding, any unilateral Israeli strike against Iran must take place before September, when the Tor missile deployment is set to be completed.

At best, a conflict between Israel and Iran (with resulting civilian casualties) would further inflame anti-Israel sentiment in the Islamic world, with a consequent increase in terrorism, both against Israel and against the U.S., Israel's main foreign backer. At worst — if the U.S. gets drawn into the conflict directly — the entire Middle East could implode, terrorist attacks worldwide would increase, the already overstretched U.S. military would be badly damaged and U.S. global influence would wane — perhaps forever.

So what is Russia up to? Andrei Piontkovsky, a Russian political analyst, suggests that Russia's oil and gas oligarchs wouldn't shed any tears over a war in the Middle East, especially if it's a war that ensnares the U.S. and keeps oil prices high.

Even so, it may not be too late to avert a new war in the Middle East. A quiet but firm U.S. threat to boycott the G-8 summit in July in St. Petersburg might inspire Russian President Vladimir V. Putin to freeze the missile transfer. And a promise to facilitate Russian entry into the World Trade Organization might even get Russia's oil and gas oligarchs on board. Freezing the missile sale would buy crucial time to find a diplomatic solution to the stalemate over Iran's nuclear program.

Unfortunately, the Bush administration appears to be asleep at the wheel, too distracted by Iraq, skyrocketing gas prices and plummeting approval ratings to devote any attention to Russia's potentially catastrophic mischief.

Meanwhile, the clock is ticking.


more fun from the Russians, who would have guessed?
Maybe your going to tell me now that these missiles are not effective. Just don't tell it to me, go tell it to the pilots that will be in the planes.

IAEA Finds no Proof of Iranian Nuclear Weapons Program

"Here is its conclusion, which others will not quote for you at such length:
' 33. All the nuclear material declared by Iran to the Agency is accounted for. Apart from the small quantities previously reported to the Board, the Agency has found no other undeclared nuclear material in Iran. However, gaps remain in the Agency’s knowledge with respect to the scope and
content of Iran’s centrifuge programme. Because of this, and other gaps in the Agency’s knowledge, including the role of the military in Iran’s nuclear programme, the Agency is unable to make progress in its efforts to provide assurance about the absence of undeclared nuclear material and activities in Iran.

34. After more than three years of Agency efforts to seek clarity about all aspects of Iran’s nuclear
programme, the existing gaps in knowledge continue to be a matter of concern. '
This ambiguity is being twisted by the Bush administration to make it seem as though Iran has done something illegal. The report can be read to say that there is no evidence that Iran is doing anything illegal.

In fact, under the NPT, countries do have the right to do the sort of experiments Iran is doing. Most of the complaints are not about substance but about something else.

Iran's president pledged to continue to cooperate with UN isnspectors. "
Juan Cole
I don't think it says that at all, I think that said that the IAEA had not in three years of inspections of suspect actions and after finding small amounts of suspect materials, not had enough cooperation from Iran to clear up the original suspicions. The statement from Iran that they are going to continue the very same cooperation that does not allow the IAEA to reach a definite conclusion is meaningless.

No, Not My Daughters!

"While the marionettes were throwing political balls into each other courts and wooing the US ambassador at Iraqi President Jalal Talabani’s residence, gangsters broke into my house looking for my daughters.

My wife called me around 2 pm last Wednesday while I was working in my office and said with miff, “Your daughters just called me asking if I have sent some one to the house; three men opened the house door and took two cocking gas cylinders as Um ‘Y’ our next door neighbor said, but I did not send any body.”

We thought that they were no more than normal thieves looking for $40 worth gas cylinder to sell them.

“You better come back home, I do not think that those men were after the cocking gas cylinders, they were in the house and asked Um ‘Y’ about our daughters”, my wife said that bitterly when she called me again from the house after she talked to my neighbor.

My daughters were not at home at that time because their minibus broke down at that day so they had to walk back home and this is why they were late, “They should be home by now”, one of the gangsters told my neighbor with an interjection when she told him that the girls still at school replying for his question about them.

My fear rushed with me to the house, it was striking hard on my head and making me so meager while it was growing and growing, it filled the car that I was driving in the dusk through the useless police checkpoints in a bumpy road that was not paved since Saddam era.

It took me 45 minutes in a 15-minute road to reach my house because of those police checkpoints and the 150-meter distance that we should maintain between our cars and the US military Hummers that were patrolling the street so slow, we can not pass them even if it was an emergency other wise they will shoot us so I was driving slowly following them while I was boiling deep inside trying to get home as fast as possible.

I can not call the police because I do not trust them and I can not ask for help to protect my daughters, what shall I do? I remembered what that guy said in his comment about Iraqis should help themselves and do not expect every thing from the Americans but how can I help myself in this case to protect my daughters."
I was There

Iraq Fauna Wiki and Fly Fishing in Iraq

"I thought I'd elaborate a bit more on the new site I recently set up. Its a wiki format, so like wikipedia where anyone can edit the entries this new site is meant to develop as an aggregation of information and ideas about animal life and the environment in Iraq. Please email me if you have any trouble using the site. To edit a page all you need to do is press the edit button and start typing. Don't worry about screwing anything up, all previous versions are saved and can be recovered.

I'd like to emphasize the collaborative part of this, and invite everyone to contribute to the extent they can, even if it is reformatting the text on a page. I think, relatively rapidly we can build a site that can be a valuable resource. For those who have been in Iraq or are currently in the country please add your observations and photos. I'll be adding all my wildlife and habitat photos to the gallery."
Birding Babylon
Cool, I'll be sure to check it out.

Risking Everything in Baghdad

"BAGHDAD — Bassam Talal, a wisp of a man with large ears and doleful eyes, is in his element on the floor of the Iraq Stock Market. Every Monday and Wednesday morning, he pirouettes between the other 50 or so brokers, nipping up to the white boards that line the wall of the trading pit. He marks 10,000 shares of Baghdad Carbonated Drinks bought for 2 dinars a share (a $13 trade), 5,000 shares of al-Hillal Water Company sold for 2.05 dinar a share (less than $7). He waves colored order slips above his head and darts between the white boards and the investors, separated from the pit by a waist-high barrier. About 200 individual investors eye the Arabic scribbles of the orders on the wall. Some bring opera glasses. They’re mostly older, heavyset men in suits, with a few traditionally dressed Bedouin guys hanging around. When the see a price they like, they gesture to Talal or another broker and point. "
Back to Iraq

Turks, Kurds Keep Ties Businesslike in New Iraq

SULAYMANIYA, Iraq — As they attempt to secure their hold on a semi-independent slice of Iraq and rebuild its economy, Kurdish leaders have turned in a surprising direction — toward Turkey.

For much of the last century, Turks and Kurds have been bitter enemies. Starting in the 1930s, Turkey banned the language of its Kurdish minority and violently suppressed Kurdish independence movements on its soil. Just in recent weeks, Turkish security forces and Kurdish protesters clashed in riots that claimed more than a dozen lives.

Across the border, the Turkish government has opposed Kurdish moves toward self-rule in Iraq's three northern provinces. And Turkish leaders have accused the Kurds of harboring bases for militant groups that have attacked civilians and military targets in Turkey.

But today, Kurdish leaders are seeking investment from Turkish firms. To date, 314 Turkish companies have signed contracts for projects valued at more than $1 billion, officials of Iraqi Kurdistan have said.

Visitors to Kurdistan can fly into one of two airports built by companies based in Turkey, drive Turkish-built roads and see Turkish-built housing developments and university buildings.

"Turkish companies are everywhere in Kurdistan and doing everything," said Ilnur Cevik, a Turkish businessman whose Cevik Ler company claims more than $100 million in Kurdish government construction contracts.

"Soon my company will be generating electricity in collaboration with the Kurdistan government," he said.

The influx of Turkish companies is part of a policy to thaw relations with its wary neighbor, Kurdish officials say.

"We really have been flooded with Turkish companies," said Safeen Dizayee, a leading member of the Kurdish Democratic Party, which controls western Kurdistan. "This is healthy because it helps to develop good international relations. Naturally if Turkey, or any other country, has a vested interest here, their politicians are going to be obliged to be flexible."

The investment also carries benefits, both economic and political, for Turkey. Before the U.S.-led invasion of Iraq in 2003, officials in Ankara, the Turkish capital, had complained that United Nations sanctions on Iraq had cost Turkey $60 billion in lost revenue.

In Iraqi Kurdistan, some Turkish leaders see a chance to renew a large, nearby market, which could strengthen their own nation's economy.

"Northern Iraq is an especially lucrative market because it is the most stable part of Iraq and because it borders Turkey," said legislator Reha Denemec, a member of the ruling Justice and Development Party.

"Turkish companies are lining up to do business there, especially in construction. So much Turkish cement is going there that this has driven up cement prices in Turkey," he said.

On the political side, "the trade is crucial because it helps us deal with our terror problem in the southeast of the country," added Denemec, referring to Kurdish separatist groups within Turkey.

The Kurds' struggle in Turkey is part of their aspirations for statehood throughout the region. Twenty million Kurds — considered the world's largest ethnic group without a political homeland — live, often uneasily, in Syria and Iran as well as Iraq and Turkey.

Iraqi Kurds were subject to brutality and inferior status under Saddam Hussein and eagerly supported the invasion to depose him. The autonomy and relative tranquillity they enjoy in northern Iraq is the fruit of that alliance with the United States.

Yet many Western firms still shy away from the region because of concerns about violence and political interference with contracts. To some extent then, Iraq's Kurds are inviting Turkish companies out of necessity.

"Many international institutions consider the risk in Irbil [the capital of Kurdistan] to be the same as the rest of Iraq," said Douglas Mellor, an American living in Britain who advises the Kurdish government.

Global companies such as Coca-Cola Co. have thus far declined to risk sending executives into any part of Iraq, Mellor said.

"The British Petroleums and the Shells of the world are very interested in Iraq, but because they are [publicly traded] companies with large boards of directors, a lot of them are just kind of hovering around. They're interested, but quite often their executives can't even fly into Iraq."

Regionally based firms, with more knowledge of Kurdistan and its influential people, have been better able to exploit opportunities here. Turkish firms, along with companies from Lebanon, Jordan, the United Arab Emirates and to a lesser extent, Iran, have launched an unprecedented building boom in Kurdistan.

"Until 1991, there were about 200 or so public projects over the past 120 years," said Dizayee, the KDP official. "Since then, there have been about 1,200 projects."

Some Kurdish business owners complain that Kurdistan officials' strategy of luring Turkish firms has sidelined them and when they do land government contracts, they are forced to pay off top functionaries of Kurdistan's ruling parties — the Kurdish Democratic Party, which controls western Kurdistan, and the Patriotic Union of Kurdistan, which controls the east.

An owner of a construction business in Irbil said he rarely won large contracts because the government puts so few out to public bid. And when he did win a significant deal, it required taking a prominent party official as a partner.

"I shared some of my profits because I was obliged to do so," said the businessman, who asked not to be named for fear of reprisal. "They are like snakes. If they know about any project, they're going to bite you."

Party influence on businesses has hindered economic growth and the quantity of goods available to Kurds. Cellphone users in Kurdistan, for example, generally go with one of two companies, both with party ties — Korek in the west or Asiacell in the east. Users of the two services can call international phone services but not each other.

Cevik, the Turkish owner of the Cevik Ler firm, said he owed his success to his long relationships with Massoud Barzani, head of the KDP and president of the regional government, and Jalal Talabani, the PUK leader and Iraq's head of state.

Cevik said that he met the two Kurdish leaders when he was an editor for a Turkish newspaper. Over the course of seven years they remained in contact — despite strong opposition in his home country.

"I was a liaison between the Turkish government and the Kurds. I was one of those activists in Turkey trying to build better relationships with the Kurds…. I think this is crucial — vital," he said in a telephone interview. "Some branded us as traitors in Turkey and tried to ruin us financially."

As U.S. warships massed in the Persian Gulf in 2003, Cevik sat down with Barzani and Talabani outside Irbil. It was a rare meeting between the two Kurdish rivals, who had fought each other in a civil war during the 1980s.

"Mr. Talabani and Mr. Barzani asked me to bring some reliable Turkish companies — they wanted handpicked companies — into Kurdistan," Cevik said. "We did a partnership with some of these companies."

Since that meeting, his company has become one of the leading businesses in Kurdistan, with government contracts that include building the $44-million Sulaymaniya airport and a $65-million dormitory project for Salahuddin University.

"I think the Kurds realize that with the uncertainty of the future in Iraq, they can't put all the eggs in one basket," Cevik said. "So they are trying to forge closer ties in Turkey."


U.S.: FBI Sought Info Without Court OK

WASHINGTON (AP) - The FBI secretly sought information last year on 3,501 U.S. citizens and legal residents from their banks and credit card, telephone and Internet companies without a court's approval, the Justice Department said Friday.

It was the first time the Bush administration has publicly disclosed how often it uses the administrative subpoena known as a national security letter, which allows the executive branch of government to obtain records about people in terrorism and espionage investigations without court approval.

Friday's disclosure was mandated as part of the renewal of the Patriot Act, the administration's sweeping anti-terror law.

The FBI delivered a total of 9,254 NSLs relating to 3,501 people in 2005, according to a report submitted late Friday to Democratic and Republican leaders in the House and Senate. In some cases, the bureau demanded information about one person from several companies.

The department also reported it received a secret court's approval for 155 warrants to examine business records last year, under a Patriot Act provision that includes library records. However, Attorney General Alberto Gonzales has said the department has never used the provision to ask for library records.

The number was a significant jump over past use of the warrant for business records. A year ago, Gonzales told Congress there had been 35 warrants approved between November 2003 and April 2005.


Friday, April 28, 2006


Moussaoui jury finishes deliberations for day
Via The Schnitt Show

Well my opinion is that terrorism is against my fucking religion.

Death to the infidel

Schnitt just reported that Rush has been arrested. I don't know anything else

Random Iraq Pics

Yeah, 12 August was just a little bit hot.
Yoan Herminda

Widespread abuse in US military against Iraqis

"The premise for the Iraq war, the conduct of US troops, the veracity of claims that Iraqis are liberated and claims that Iraq is free and in a state of progress continue to come under scrutiny.

And under scrutiny the lies are unraveled and military conduct is further blemished.

The revelation of the horrors, abuses, murders and atrocities committed against Iraqis detained at Abu Ghraib is continuing to make headlines in world media as a little more of the extent of these crimes is revealed every week, every month.

In the latest of such reports: "
Truth About Iraqis
Funny how they complain that there is not justice and no democracy, yet these people are free to conduct their investigation and file their report. I think that some people have made a mistake and are thinking of instant coffee


"To follow the milblog conference, Ive been pretty busy and almost couldn’t attend the conference itself. Its all good as Im already back in DC and taking care of business once again. Recently Abu Musab al-Zarqawi released a video where he dismissed Iraq’s new government as an American "stooge" and called it a "poisoned dagger" in the heart of the Muslim world. He continued to tell about how he has been beating the coalition forces there from his directed attacks and such. Granted there are attacks going against us, but not all are directed from him. Some are chance encounters others are planned deliberate attacks."
One Marine's View

Ground Hog Day....

"Im kinda bummed out....Not cuz we are leaving, on the contrary, as I said that it is something we wanted to do...Im bummed out at the attitude we are getting from the management of the organisation...They lied to HUBBY apparantely and told him that it was the Government's (US) decision for wanting him out...OMG...When our Col found out that this was said, he went upto HUBBY and told him, that the Gov Leads do not ever interfere with the Organisation's staffing policies, and that he never had a problem with HUBBY...He said that he will be sending his complaints to the leadership back in the US...Cuz apparantely this is not the first time that this organisation used the Gov's name in ending someone's assignment...I was glad the Col had a talk with HUBBY...that really meant alot to us...LTC Nice Guy (Im gonna give them nicknames to hide their identities) also had really nice words for me..."
Neurotic Iraqi Wife

A Staff Visit

"Originally published by the New York Times on March 7th, 2006

Life in Iraq can be pretty surreal. As I write this, I’m just outside the city of Ramadi, Iraq, which is the southwest point of the infamous Sunni Triangle in the Al Anbar Province. I am a first lieutenant in the Utah Army National Guard, currently serving as the signal officer (SIGO) of a field artillery battalion. When the enemy shoots mortars or rockets at the thousands of soldiers, marines, and civilian contractors living on our F.O.B. (forward operating base), we shoot back. We’re a lot better at it. The enemy doesn’t usually hit what he’s aiming for – we rarely miss."
Wordsmith at War

Thursday, April 27, 2006

The Drug of War

"Written by a fellow scout in the Shadow Recon Platoon of 2-63AR BN,

If one repeatedly rubs their hand lightly across a rough surface, the hand will become numb to the sensation and to any sensation of equal or lesser intensity. This holds true for the mind. If one constantly exposes themselves to extreme situations, then all sensations there after of equal or lesser intensity offer no stimulation. A heroin addict must constantly increase the dose because the mind has grown tolerant to a lower dosage. A cocaine addict must snort more and more to obtain the same rush of endorphins that was felt the first time. This constant increase to obtain a desired effect is met with graduation to a more intense medium or fatality. However, a higher dosage or different medium does not always exist to take the addict to the next level, and even if he were to continue to utilize his current choices, the supply is not always infinite. When the supply diminishes, one is left numb to all sensation, and hence follows an increasingly desperate situation. For the soldier; war is his drug. His mind grows an addiction to its ravenous stimuli from abnormally stressful situations. His time within this medium is finite, and when it comes to an end, he will find it hard to deal with his unwanted addiction. This is the tragedy of all those who have fallen to the drug of war, myself included. Life becomes dull and frustrating. Normal situations make one feel a sense of anxiety, of desperation, as if constantly hoping for a sudden horrible rage to sweep across and take normal right down to hell, where things are violent, and gruesome, and stimulating, and the adrenaline flows."
Fight to Survive

More Than 600 Implicated in Detainee Abuse

"Two years after the Abu Ghraib scandal, new research (PDF) shows that abuse of detainees in U.S. custody in Iraq, Afghanistan, and at Guantánamo Bay has been widespread, and that the United States has taken only limited steps to investigate and punish implicated personnel."
Baghdad Dweller

Iraq vice-president's sister gunned down

A sister of Iraq's new Sunni Arab vice-president was killed in a drive-by shooting in Baghdad on Thursday, police said. She died one day after her brother called for the Sunni-dominated insurgency to be crushed by force.

In southern Iraq, a bomb hit an Italian military convoy on Thursday morning, killing four soldiers -- three Italians and a Romanian, Italy's government said.

The explosion near an Italian military base was caused by a roadside bomb that hit the convoy in Nasiriyah, a heavily Shi'ite city 320km south-east of Baghdad, said local Iraqi government spokesperson Haidr Radhi. About 2 600 Italian troops are stationed in Nasiriyah, and 27 had been killed before Thursday's attack.

Romanian Corporal Bogdan Hancu (28), who died in the bombing, was the first Romanian soldier killed in combat in Iraq, Romania's government said. Romania has 860 troops in Iraq as part of the multinational force.

The violence came as United States Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice and US Defence Secretary Donald Rumsfeld were visiting Baghdad to meet officials in the new Iraqi government.

Mayson Ahmed Bakir al-Hashimi (60), whose brother, Tariq al-Hashimi, was appointed by Parliament as Vice-President on Saturday, was killed by unidentified gunmen in a BMW sedan as she was leaving her home at 8am with her bodyguard in south-western Baghdad, said police Captain Jamel Hussein. The bodyguard, Saad Ali, also died in the shooting, Hussein said.

It was the second recent killing in Tariq al-Hashimi's immediate family. On April 13, his brother, Mahmoud al-Hashimi, was shot while driving in a mostly Shi'ite area of eastern Baghdad.

On Thursday, two of the vice-president's brothers, one an army officer, raced to the scene to recover the body of their sister, Hussein said. She had worked on the government's audit commission and was married with two grown children.

The television station Baghdad, owned by the vice-president's Iraqi Islamic Party, showed home photos of Mayson al-Hashimi, wearing an orange headscarf, and footage of her bullet-riddled white SUV, while playing mournful music.

It was not immediately possible to contact the vice-president, but Ziyad al-Ani, a senior official in the Iraqi Islamic Party, condemned the attackers.

"What astonished us is that they targeted a woman. This shows how wicked the attackers are," al-Ani said in an interview. He said the killings "by the enemies of Iraq" will fail in their goal of driving al-Hashimi and his party away from the country's new government.

The party is one of three major Sunni political groups in the Iraqi Accordance Front, which won 44 seats in the December 15 parliamentary election.

Sunni insurgents have targeted prominent men and women politicians in the past.

On April 17, the brother of another leading Sunni politician, Saleh al-Mutlaq, was found dead in Baghdad after he was kidnapped.

Aqeela al-Hashimi, a member of the governing council put together by the US before the return of sovereignty to the Iraqis, was killed by gunmen who sprayed her car with gunfire in September 2003. Her successor in the post, Salama al-Khafaji, had several assassination attempts against her.

In other violence on Thursday, the bodies of 13 Iraqis who had been kidnapped and tortured were found by in Baghdad and other Iraqi cities, police said.

That and the drive-by shooting raised to 123 the number of Iraqi civilians or police who have been killed in insurgency- or sectarian-related violence since Nouri al-Maliki, a Shi'ite hard-liner, was tapped as Iraq's prime minister designate on Saturday and asked to form a new national unity government aimed at stopping a wave of sectarian violence in Iraq.

Al-Maliki has 30 days to assemble a Cabinet from divided Shi'ite, Sunni and Kurdish parties. The most contentious question will be filling key ministries that control security forces amid demands to purge them of militias blamed for the rise in sectarian bloodshed.

On Wednesday, Vice-President al-Hashimi had made a show of unity with his Kurdish and Shi'ite colleagues, calling for Iraq's insurgency to be put down by force. Shi'ites had demanded that Sunni officials make such a statement as a show of their commitment to building a democratic system.

Al-Hashimi shrugged off a videotape by Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, widely seen on TV on Tuesday, during which the al-Qaeda in Iraq leader tried to rally Sunnis to fight the new government and denounced Sunnis who cooperate with it as "agents" of the Americans.

"I say, yes, we're agents. We're agents for Islam, for the oppressed. We have to defend the future of our people," al-Hashimi said at a news conference with President Jalal Talabani, a Kurd, and his fellow Vice-President, Shi'ite Adil Abdul-Mahdi.

Al-Hashimi, Talabani and Abdul-Mahdi met Rice and Rumsfeld on Wednesday.

On Thursday, al-Hashimi and Abdul-Mahdi were meeting in the holy city of Najaf with Iraq's most powerful Shi'ite cleric, Grand Ayatollah Ali al-Sistani.

The reclusive al-Sistani, who lives in Najaf, 160km south of Baghdad, has played a big role in restraining Shi'ite anger in the face of Sunni insurgent attacks that have pushed Iraq toward a sectarian civil war. Top politicians often seek al-Sistani's advice.

"The new government will provide security to all people and work to integrate militias into Iraq's army and police forces," al-Hashimi said, heading into his meeting with al-Sistani.

Rice and Rumsfeld hope that Sunni participation in a new national unity government in Iraq led by al-Maliki will undermine the country's Sunni-led insurgency and reduce Shi'ite-Sunni violence that has flared in the past two months. -- Sapa-AP

Predator Aircraft Making Big Impact in Iraq

KSL-5's Kerry Barrett spent much of last month embedded in Iraq, following some Utah airmen. One of the many things she saw there was an unmanned aircraft called the Predator. Those who know it say it is the future of the Air Force and a big part of life at Balad Air Base, and Life at War.

They're quiet and relatively slow, but they sure are making a loud impact on the war in Iraq. Unmanned aircraft, Predators specifically, do all sorts of things your typical fighter jet cannot.

Maj. Micha Morgan, 46th Strike & Reconnaissance Squadron: "We can watch a target all day and all night if we have to."

They can stay in the air significantly longer than a fighter jet. And because they're unmanned, they can go into more dangerous situations. If they need to strike down a target, they can do that too.

"It's a very precise weapon. We can actually put it into a door, into a window, even into the back windshield of an automobile."

Even so, dropping missiles is not their primary focus.

"Everyone wants full motion video. It's the most requested asset in theatre, so any time that someone can get a Predator eyes in the sky, looking down on the ground, they call."

The mounted camera is worth more than one million dollars, but it plays an essential role in gathering information. What makes it especially handy is how slow and how long it can fly, steady enough to track a car on the streets of Balad and with images clear enough to spot insurgents on the ground.

The Predator can follow at an altitude of more than 10-thousand feet and it's too quiet to hear.

"We actually shoot our video down to the guys on the ground around the corner, watching to see what's around them."

The planes take off and land via remote control, if you will, from Balad. Then another group of pilots based in Las Vegas picks them up while they're in the air and continues the mission.

"We can call our friends in the fourth fighter squadron from Hill to come in and drop a big weapon."

Maj. Morgan says one of the biggest challenges to flying the Predator is the lack of sensory inputs because you don't have the physical sensations of flying.

Iraq War Now Deadliest Conflict Ever For Journalists

CHICAGO In less than three years, more journalists have been killed covering the Iraq war than died during around the globe in World War II or in the 20-year conflict in Vietnam and Cambodia, according to the Freedom Forum and Newseum.

On May 3--World Press Freedom Day--Freedom Forum and the Newseum will hold its annual rededication of the Journalists Memorial in Arlington, Va. This year, the names of 59 journalists who died or were killed while covering the news in 2005 will be added to the memorial.

Of those 59, 23 journalists were killed in Iraq, Freedom Forum noted. From the beginning of the conflict in 2003, when 20 journalists were killed, and including the 25 killed in 2004, and the six killed in the first three months of this year, 74 journalists have died covering Iraq.

By contrast, Freedom Forum said, 69 journalists were killed during World War II, and 63 during the Vietnam and Southeast Asia conflicts of the 1960s and 1970s.

"What should make everyone sit up and take notice is that more than 70 journalists have died in Iraq in over three years and that journalists are increasingly targeted for kidnapping, torture or murder," said Freedom Forum Chairman and CEO Charles Overby said.

In addition to U.S. journalists, those killed while reporting or commenting this year lived in Azerbaijan, Bangladesh, Brazil, Colombia, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Ecuador, Haiti, India, Lebanon, Mexico, Nepal, Pakistan, the Philippines, Russia, Serbia-Montenegro, Sierra Leone, Somalia, Sri Lanka, and Thailand, Freedom Forum said.

While the number of dead journalists memorialized for 2005 is large, it is not as large as the numbers who died in the 1990s, when the Bosnian and Rwanda conflicts proved particularly deadly, a Newseum spokesperson said.

With the addition of their names, the memorial pays tribute to 1,665 reporters, editors, photographers and broadcasters who died or were killed while on assignment from the years 1812 to 2005.

On May 3, from 8-10 a.m., journalists will read the 1,606 names of journalists who died reporting the news from 1812 through 2004. Individuals scheduled to participate in the reading include Helen Thomas of Hearst News Service; Rob Doherty of Reuters; Lee Ivory of the Washington Association of Black Journalists; Hafez Al-Mirazi of Al Jazeera; Frank Smyth of the Committee to Protect Journalists; and David Cook of The Christian Science Monitor.

A database listing the 1,665 memorialized journalists, their affiliations and the circumstances of their death can be access at by selecting "Journalists Memorial."


Danish reporters charged after publishing leaked intelligence reports on Iraq

COPENHAGEN, Denmark -- Two reporters at one of Denmark's largest newspapers could face jail time for publishing classified intelligence reports about Iraq's weapons program, a prosecutor said Thursday.

Michael Bjerre and Jesper Larsen, of the Berlingske Tidene newspaper, were charged Wednesday with publishing confidential government documents, which is punishable by fines or up to two years in prison, state prosecutor Karsten Hjorth said. No trial date has been set.

In February and March 2004, Bjerre and Larsen wrote a series of articles based on leaked reports from the Danish Defense Intelligence Service. The reports said there was no evidence that Iraq had weapons of mass destruction during Saddam Hussein's rule -- one of the main reasons behind the U.S.-led invasion in 2003.

Editor-in-chief Niels Lunde said the Berlingske Tidende and its reporters had acted correctly.

"Jesper Larsen and Michael Bjerre have carried out a precious piece of work," Lunde said in a statement.

Former intelligence officer Frank Grevil was convicted last year of leaking the documents to the reporters, and sentenced to four months in prison. During his trial, he claimed he was acting in the public interest.

In October 2002, Prime Minister Anders Fogh Rasmussen told Parliament that Denmark's government was convinced that Saddam possessed weapons of mass destruction.

However, Fogh Rasmussen said Denmark backed the invasion of Iraq and contributed troops because Saddam refused to cooperate with the United Nations, not because of WMDs. Denmark has some 530 soldiers in southern Iraq. (AP)


Turkey to Iraq: Stop PKK Using Your Territory

Disturbed by the Turkish Armed Forces’ troop deployment to the border to prevention terrorist infiltration, Iraq issued a diplomatic note asking Turkey “to stop hot pursuit.”

Iraq Ambassador to Ankara Umran Sabah delivered the note to Turkey’s Foreign Ministry yesterday.

Turkey’s Ambassador to Bagdat (Baghdad) Unal Cevikoz was also given a note on Tuesday.

Rejecting the allegation of a “hot pursuit”, Turkey told that “the terror network the PKK (Kurdish Workers’ Party) had recently increased its activities and obtained weapons from Iraq.

“There are infiltrations, and we are protecting our border. We are taking the necessary measures in this regard. Do not allow the terror network use your territory. Fight against the terrorists who will only terrorize you in the future. Take the necessary measures there,” responded Turkey.

The uneasiness that Turkey experiences was also communicated to US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice who paid a surprise visit to the Iraqi capital, Bagdat (Baghdad), after her contacts in Ankara. Rice reportedly conveyed this message to the Iraqi authorities that she met with yesterday.

The Iraqi administration based its reaction against Ankara on the assumption that “Turkish troops cross the border at times and conduct small-scale operations on Iraqi territory.”

Ambassador Sabah questioned Ankara regarding whether these allegations were accurate or not.

The Bagdat (Baghdad) administration maintained that the operations are direct violation of Iraq’s right of sovereignty. The Turkish Foreign Ministry, in a statement, did not use any expression concerning the allegations of “trans-border operation” and “hot pursuit”.

During the Oguz Celikkol-Umran Sabah talks held at the Foreign Ministry, the reason for the border deployment and other security measures was accounted for. “We take measures to protect our own border. We expect you to take the same measures,” Ankara responded.

Celikkol told the Iraqi ambassador that the prevention of the “PKK’s presence and its activities in Iraq, which are also on the agenda’s of the Turkey-Iraq-US talks, make these operations compulsory. He said the terror network, taking the advantage of the authority gap in Iraq, used the region as a camp, and therefore, Iraq is being asked to “end the PKK’s presence and activities in Iraq.”

Ankara also expects similar steps from the new government in Iraq. The Baghdad administration was sent the warning, “protect your borders.”

Turkey wants an extensive discussion on the subject with the new Iraqi government being initiated.

Foreign Minister Abdullah Gul, following his talks with US Secretary of State Rice, said, they were highlighting “the importance of border safety as much as possible,” and were calling on Iraq to contribute to the efforts and not allow the terrorist organization to use its territory. Turkey does not have its eye on anybody’s land, he clarified.

National Security Council to discuss ‘trans-border’

A Turkish military operation against the PKK will also be handled at a National Security Council (MGK) meeting today.

The latest situation regarding the activities of the Turkish troops along the border will be discussed, and the strategy regarding a trans-border operation will be clarified.

Rice’s contacts in Ankara, the new government in Iraq and Iran’s nuclear crisis will also be on the agenda of today’s MGK meeting.


Iraq Cabinet within week, claims leader

Iraq's prime minister-designate, Nuri al-Maliki, says he hopes to form a government within a week after meeting Washington's top defense and foreign affairs officials and two of Iraq's most powerful clerics.

As US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice and Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld flew out of Baghdad, Maliki pledged to fill the key posts of interior and defense ministers with non- sectarian appointees.

Al-Maliki had 30 days from last Saturday to present his Cabinet to parliament for approval, but has said he wants to move faster on creating a grand coalition of majority Shiite Muslims, Sunni Arabs and Kurds to combat the violence wracking the country.

"The dialogue is still ongoing with the different parties from which the government will be formed, including on the important ministries," Maliki said after meeting Grand Ayatollah Ali al-Sistani in the holy southern city of Najaf. "God willing, it will be settled next week."

Maliki also met firebrand Shiite cleric Moqtada al-Sadr, an influential political leader who condemned the Rice-Rumsfeld visit as "a shocking intervention in Iraqi affairs."

Sitting alongside Maliki, he said the new government's first duty was to ensure Iraq's stability and independence, including a timetable for the withdrawal of foreign troops.

As Maliki worked Thursday toward building a government to avert civil war, gunmen killed a sister of one of the newly appointed vice-presidents, the latest in a series of assassinations of high-level figures.

Meysoun al-Hashemi, sister of Sunni Vice-President Tareq al-Hashemi, was gunned down in her car in Baghdad a day after Tareq called for the Sunni- dominated insurgency to be crushed.

One of their brothers was killed on April 13, and the brother of another leading Sunni politician was also kidnapped and killed this month.

Last October, the brother of the other vice-president, Adel Abdul Mahdi, a Shiite, was also murdered.

Rice and Rumsfeld arrived in Baghdad Wednesday for talks with Maliki on his efforts to draft a Cabinet, a strongly symbolic visit showing how much importance Washington places on the task.

"I think it's fair to say that all these Iraqi leaders recognize the challenges before them, recognize that the Iraqi people expect their government to be able to meet those challenges," Rice said at the US embassy in the heavily guarded Green Zone.

She said the leaders they met, including Maliki, outgoing prime minister Ibrahim al-Jaafari and one-time interim prime minister Iyad Allawi, were "focused" and "serious."

President Jalal Talabani had last weekend asked Maliki to form a coalition Cabinet to end bloodletting that threatens to drag Iraq into civil war.

The Standard

The mother

Updated with commets from Abbas Kadhim

Um Jaafar

(During a US raid Um Jaafar, a woman in her 40s, saw her three sons Jaafar, Haidar and Athir being killed before her eyes).

"At 2.30, the night of 21 January, I woke up to a blast that opened the door of our house in the Al-Huriya Al-Thaniya area, west of Baghdad. A group of American soldiers stormed in.

With them was an Iraqi translator, through whom they asked me about Mohamed. I pointed to my son Jaafar, whom we call Mohamed at home. Without a single comment, they moved to where Jaafar was sleeping and shot him dead. Athir, Jaafar's 28-year-old half-brother, tried to question the translator about the reason. The response was, 'the matter has come to an end.' And when he tried to go upstairs to seek the help of their elder brother Haidar, 29, an American bullet beat him to it, killing him immediately. Haidar's wife tried to defend her husband and their children, Mustafa and Ali, but one of the Americans beat her back -- on the head, with a baton -- to make way for the bullet that was to kill Haidar. The whole process took no more than a few minutes. In the end my daughter Shaimaa lay among the three corpses, injured and bleeding.

Only later did the translator ask me to fetch the identity cards of those killed -- only to realise that there was no Mohamed among them. He said simply, 'sorry, but we have killed them on a suspicion.' And the raiding force left. What happened had not sunk in when they came back, and to this day I still can not believe it; I have not visited the graves of my sons. I lost three sons like that; who would believe me? I do not believe it myself. Trying to comfort me, neighbours and relatives point out that at least I got to bury my dead; there are mothers, they say, who do not even have access to their sons' corpses once they are told they were killed. But I am a mother and my disaster feels the greatest.

Tell me, what should I do when I miss Jaafar and his brothers? I miss them. For how long will we keep losing our sons by mistake? Just tell me what to do. Can you help me not miss them?"


H/T A Family in Baghdad

This is such a strange story I just had to post it, I don't know how true it is, but it does give you an idea of what the Arabs in Europe are reading, and I'm just sure it's getting picked up and reported thought out that Arabic speaking world.
I am going to try to get Abbas to comment on the author of this story, but I make no promises.


Well as promised I asked Abbas Kadhim to comment as he writes for this paper and might give us some insight to this disturbing incident. Abbas was kind enough to offer the following:

Hi Tom,

I don't know what to tell you. The story as you, and Al-Ahram, have it seems so strange. Even with Abu Ghraib and other awful things in mind, I don't believe that US soldiers would act in this manner while in a raid.
But, as you well know, I am in no position to authenticate or deny the story beyond doubt.

Anyway, this is a serious story. The US should follow up on it and find this woman and address her case. Al-Hurriyya al-Thanya is a reasonably small residential area in Baghdad and a woman with such a story, if true, must be well known. If the reporter is found to have fabricated the story, then she and the paper should face some serious questioning and/or action in the proper way.

As for the rest of your questions: I do not know the writer. She is based in Baghdad and has been writing for a long time, but I do not know her personally. I do write an article in Al-Ahram Weekly once or twice a month, but I do not work for them. I do so as a favor for a friend who works as an editor there.

Al-Ahram Weekly (the English publication), unlike the rest of Arab media, provides a reasonably wide veriety of voices. For example, my last article was a strong criticism of the absurd remarks made by Egypt's president, Hosni Mubarak, about the Shi'a. They printed it without changing a word (I posted the text on my April 13th blog). **On Shi'a loyalty**

I hope this helps. Keep well.


p.s. I do agree very much with the remark you make at the end about the impact of such stuff on the Arab public opinion in Europe. But the negative reporting in Al-Ahram Weekly is no different from the kind of stuff that gets published in the UK papers and those of other countries. War has its critics as it has supporters and sometimes, unfortunately, the truth gets lost in between.

**I posted the link to Abbas's article in the Al-Ahram Weekly

Assyrian General Conference Sends a Letter to Iraq President

To his excellency the honorable president Mr. Jalal Talabani,

Iraqi greetings...

To begin with we would like to congratulate you on the occasion of taking up the responsibility of the presidency for the State of Iraq, wishing you success during these difficult times in Iraq which makes it inevitable for all Iraqis to gather and unite in order to work together bringing Iraq back to its prosperity and progress.

As we believe in the nobleness of Iraq's people and its unity with its different factions,relying upon our absolute faith stemming from history's facts and the reality that the Assyrians are the inveterate, indivisible part of the Iraqi people and that they're the first layer in building the Iraqi home which is incomplete without them, we in the Assyrian General Conference convey our obvious dismay on disregarding the Assyrians in your speech before the members of parliament on April 22, 2006 and we declare our tremendous concern that's there's a general tendency to disregard the Assyrian national existence reflecting a religious attribution on them at the expense of the truth that they're the true indigenous nationality in Iraq, cherishing at the same time the religious belonging of this inveterate people.

The Assyrians have contributed throughout history to the building of Iraq's civilization preserving its existence, as they were the pioneers in the path of strife for the freedom of Iraq, for equality, justice and democracy for all its sons and daughters.

The campaigns of suppression, killings, forced migration and opression witness to their commitment for Iraq, starting with the Simel Massacre which was the overture of the Iraqi State passing through a long series of afflictions and repression continuing with today's suffering.

The Assyrians are looking forward to an Iraq for all Iraqis, one Iraq with its people and land, skies and water. An Iraq where all its sons and daughters would equally enjoy their rights, your responsibility and that of all those in power is immense in this matter.

The Assyrian General Conference
April 24, 2006 A.D.
April 24, 6756 Assyrian Year


Migra come to town

Well I guess we should all feel so much safer this week, migra come to town. That's right the immigration police has been canvassing this neighborhood. And there is one sure sign of there presents, closed businesses and empty construction sites. But not only that there are also empty restaurants, and amazingly light attendance at schools, supply houses and hardware stores are seeing the biggest drop on sales in thier lives. And to top it off legal residents and natural born citizens of this great country are sitting at home, layoff. Why would you ask are the legal workers being layoff, well the companies cant work with just a few of the workers, so while the migra is canvassing the area no one gets to work. This administration is it's worst enemy.

And of all the stupid moves by this administration I think this is one of the worst timed ones. Right now people are trying desperately to get their roof finished from damage from the last hurricane, before the next one hits. And guess where the migras been dubbing thier efforts, roofing companies.

Tuesday, April 25, 2006


"“Desert of Death”

As our bags were loaded into the Land Cruiser for the journey toward Dasht-e-Margo, the Desert of Death, a man wearing a bomb closes in. Before striking off, we again visit the PRT in Lashkar Gah, where Steve huddles with some Afghan employees. An entire British Army unit has defected, he said, with their weapons and equipment. The Afghans grow quiet, until Steve says, “And they joined the Taliban.”

After talking with some friendly British soldiers we start the drive into a mostly desolate stretch through scattered villages. Steve needs to get to Camp Bastion where he has about $12 million in current construction contracts, and where his crews are just finishing the new base camps for the British Army."
Michael Yon

Zarqawi, bin Laden in competing messages (The Three Stooges Return)

"You can call it the Battle of the Bands, or, Battle of the Terrorist Groups.

Less than 36 hours after Aljazeera aired an audiotape of Osama bin Laden proclaiming that Al Qaida was fighting a US Crusader war against Muslim nations, Jordanian terrorist Abu Musab Al Zarqawi released the first ever video speech also declaring that Iraq was a battleground against the US Crusader war.

The video of Zarqawi showed him sitting with aides over a highly detailed map of Iraqi territories as they appeared to be coordinating a future attack. They were discussing strategy. The camera zooms in on the map several times.

We also see Zarqawi aiming a rifle in the desert."

Zarqawi, In Living Color

"Jihadist discussion boards have gone wild with exhilaration as Jordanian terrorist Ahmad Al-Khalayleh, 39, otherwise known as Abu Musa’ab Al-Zarqawi, appears for the first time in a 34 minute video that was posted on various jihadist websites today. Some are elated because it seems to address a key concern that was bandied about for a while: "is Zarqawi for real?""
Talisman Gate
This guy is always a good read.

God Bless Kurdistan

"Quick note, I am on the baby computer, and it is almost out of juice. Just got home to Kurdistan, flew in, touched the ground with tears. Tonight, friends took my colleague and I around town, to see the new park and the beautiful roses, all roses, all over, and it is so good to be home, so good."
Pearls of Iraq

That's it

"I was agnostic until now - actually I preached caution. But now I see no reasonable alternative.

It is time to take down Iran.

Any military move must be so devastating in its impact that the Iranian industrial capacity is set back years, if not decades, across a variety of industries. "
Please read my Op-Ed above.

Zarqawi or an actor plays Zarqawi?

"After three years at last the neocons found an actor who play “Zarqawi”, wonder what else they do to maintain Bush low score in public. 1st Bin Laden then Zarqawi, who is next??"
Baghdad Dweller

New Zarqawi video online

"Al Qaeda in Iraq has released a video of Abu Musab al-Zarqawi on a jihadi web site, which is the first time he’s been seen in video since the Nick Berg beheading video.

“Your mujahideen sons were able to confront the most ferocious of crusader campaigns on a Muslim state. They have stood in the face of this onslaught for three years,” Zarqawi said on the video.

I’m working on getting a copy of the video, but so far, this is the first time AMZ (as he’s called in U.S. military parlance) has appeared in a video without a mask. (He was concealed in the Berg video.) It’s a well-produced video, with slick graphics and professional titling, of a kind with many videos from insurgent and jihadi groups. I’ve seen pictures of AMZ and this video appears authentic."
Back to Iraq

Iraq must make progress to keep US troops: senators

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - A bipartisan group of senators pushed a resolution on Tuesday calling on President George W. Bush to tell Iraqi leaders they must meet their own deadlines to form a government as a condition for keeping U.S. forces there.

The Senate was expected to vote on the measure in coming days as it considered a $106.5 billion emergency spending bill for the Iraq and Afghanistan wars and relief for the hurricane-battered U.S. Gulf Coast.

Sen. Carl Levin, a Michigan Democrat, said the amendment "would put the Senate on record as urging the president, for the first time, to specifically link the continued presence of American forces to the Iraqis meeting their own self-imposed deadline."

Levin, top Democrat on the Armed Services Committee, sponsored the measure with Republican Susan Collins of Maine and Democrat Jack Reed of Rhode Island.

Sen. John Warner, a Virginia Republican who chairs the Armed Services Committee, opposed the measure, saying it "could be misinterpreted" and slow Iraq's political momentum of the last few days.

Iraqi leaders finally broke a four-month deadlock, agreeing to form a coalition government and choosing Shi'ite leader Jawad al-Maliki as the new prime minister-designate.

Under their own deadline, Iraqi leaders now have 30 days to form a government and four months to amend their constitution to make it a more unifying document.

Republicans, led by the White House, have resisted imposing any kind of timetable to start the withdrawal of the 130,000 U.S. troops in Iraq, saying that would only fuel violence.

I think we shouldn't impose any deadlines or date on the military or on the executive branch for conducting operations in that part of the world that we feel are important to our national security interests," said Thad Cochran, a Mississippi Republican steering the emergency spending bill.

Collins disagreed that the amendment set a timetable for withdrawal, saying instead it called on Iraqis to meet their own deadlines.

Collins' spokeswoman said it was too early to gauge Republican support for the amendment to be considered later this week or next, but the Maine senator was "hopeful" it would pass.

With Bush's approval rating in polls slumped at the lowest of his presidency largely because of the Iraq war, Republicans are becoming increasingly anxious about their prospects in congressional elections in November.

Along with the resolution, the senators have an amendment calling on Bush to notify the Senate when the Iraqis have been told U.S. troops' presence was linked to their meeting deadlines to form a government, and requiring periodic reports.


Oh gee, Did something wake up the US Senate. Poor thing, Oh there now don't worry your little head, just go back to sleep, mommy will tuck you back in.

GIs in Iraq learn fights often on schedule

RAMADI, Iraq - As U.S. and Iraqi troops marched through alleyways and families retreated indoors, Army Capt. Joe Claburn glanced at his watch and predicted exactly how long it would take for insurgents to attack.

"Within 15 minutes the spotters usually come out and they'll identify your position," Claburn said at the start of a patrol in this troubled Iraqi city, explaining that guerrillas were probably maneuvering unseen in the surrounding villas.

"Within 30 minutes the weapons get brought in," he said. "And usually about 45 minutes after being on the ground, you can pretty much guarantee that you're going to get shot at."

War is often said to be unpredictable. But in Ramadi, Iraq's most dangerous city for American forces, Sunni Arab insurgents are so active that U.S. troops are learning gunbattles often come right on schedule.

Claburn, it turned out, was three minutes off.

"Did I call it or what?" the 29-year-old asked with a grin as automatic weapons-fire snapped overhead. "Forty-two minutes on the ground. It's a science."

Lt. Col. Ronald Clark, commander of the 101st Airborne Division's 1st Battalion, 506th Infantry Regiment, said his units average "five or six" firefights with insurgents per day in eastern Ramadi.

And that's not counting roadside bombs, mortar attacks - or the Marine-patrolled western part of town, much less the suburbs of the city, 70 miles west of Baghdad.

"It's surreal," said Clark, 39, of Leesville, La., using a green laser pointer to tick off recent engagements on a large satellite map of Ramadi on the wall of his office.

"Here we have an enemy that does not mind coming out and fighting with us," he said. "We always have the advantage when that happens. They take heavy losses, but the bottom line is, it doesn't change things."

Estimates differ on how long it typically takes for insurgents to start shooting. Claburn's Charlie company figures 45 minutes is the norm. Delta company reckons they'll be fired at within 37 minutes, Clark said. Some Marines in western Ramadi say attacks can come in eight minutes.

That doesn't mean there's a gunbattle every time troops go out.

One Marine tasked to help train the Iraqi army, Lt. Ryan Brannon, said he's been on 30 to 40 patrols in central Ramadi in the last three months. Asked how many times there had been exchanges of fire, the 26-year-old native of Gulf Breeze, Fla., shrugged and said: "Oh, about half."

Guard towers at the U.S. Army's Camp Corregidor base are shot at daily - on Tuesday, one was hit by rocket-propelled grenades and small-arms fire. Across the city, Army and Marine observation posts - entire buildings taken over by U.S. forces - are regularly attacked.

Ramadi is "a lot more kinetic than what we see or read about other areas. It's just very violent," Clark said, adding that even trips to check on U.S.-funded projects to refurbish schools attracted violence.

"We'll go on school visits ... and be involved in direct fire almost every time," he said. "A lot of it is based on the fact that there's a lot of lawless behavior, no Iraqi police on this side of town."

Until a few weeks ago, east Ramadi had no Iraqi army units.

Clark and his commanders welcomed the arrival of a combat-experienced Iraqi brigade, hoping their numbers and familiarity with Iraqi culture could help turn the tide. U.S. forces also are helping set up new police stations - insurgents destroyed the old ones - for a new city police force.

As U.S. and Iraqi forces moved in Friday for a sweep of a troubled district, residents ran inside.

"Hmmm," noted Claburn, who grew up as an orphan and calls Alabama home. "You see all those people clearing out? That's usually a a bad sign."

U.S. Navy SEALs and Iraqi soldiers carrying rockets and boxes of ammunition walked slowly, eyes alert for insurgents, clearing house after house.

Forty-two minutes into the operation, a man in a white sedan at the end of one alley fired off a round from his rifle, retreating immediately under a return volley from Iraqi soldiers on a nearby rooftop.

One street over, another insurgent sprayed machine-gun fire that cracked over Claburn's head as he stepped into a courtyard with other troops. A U.S. Humvee shot back with a heavy .50-caliber gun.

Minutes later, Claburn and a dozen SEALs scrambled to the roof, laid their guns on a chest-high wall and began firing toward another insurgent team - four gunmen in a blue truck. Two Iraqi soldiers on another rooftop also opened fire.

The SEALs' fire riddled the truck, and 40 mm grenades destroyed its engine as the gunmen fled. Job done, rooftop littered with spent shell casings, the Americans withdrew.

Asked why U.S. or coalition forces didn't pursue the attackers, Claburn - whose radio call sign is "Gunfighter 6" - said it wouldn't be prudent.

Insurgents often try to lure troops into danger, he said, exposing themselves in hopes they would be chased down a street where explosives had been laid.

"You have to out-insurgent the insurgent. You have to think about what he's trying to make you do ... and do the complete opposite," the Army captain said, riding in a Humvee along a road lined with palm trees as two helicopters clattered overhead.

"Unfortunately nothing in Army doctrine teaches you to fight an enemy like this."
Mercury News

I hope those details are fictional. I think this is an interesting story were they told us to much.

U.S. Will Help Turks Stop Kurdish Inroads From Iraq

ANKARA, Turkey, April 25 — Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice assured Turkish leaders today that the United States would step up efforts to stop the infiltration of Kurdish insurgents from Iraq into Turkey, but she cautioned the Turkish government not to send troops into Iraq to do the job.

Addressing what has become a new irritant in relations with Turkey, Ms. Rice acknowledged that the problem of infiltration by Kurdish rebels into Turkey from Kurdish regions in northern Iraq had been allowed to grow. The Turkish foreign minister, Abdullah Gül, said there had been a surge in such infiltration in recent weeks.

The Turkish media has been filled with reports of thousands of Turkish troops massing on the border of Iraq, and there has been speculation that Turkey might intervene in Iraq. Ms. Rice, without speaking directly to that threat, clearly sought to discourage the Turks from doing anything on their own.

"Of course we want anything that we do to contribute to stability in Iraq, not to threaten that stability or to make a difficult situation worse," Ms. Rice said, referring to the Turkish troop presence. "That is why a cooperative approach on this problem — cooperation between Iraqi and Turkey and the coalition forces — is very important."

Mr. Gül spoke of the Kurdish rebel situation in blunt terms, saying that the Kurdish Workers Party, which is known as the P.K.K., had turned Iraq into "a training ground" and that "like every country, Turkey will take her own precautions" to deal with the problem.

He said, however, that Turkey had "no claim on anybody's soil or any neighborly country's soil."

Ms. Rice spoke on a swing through the region, starting in the morning with meetings in Athens, where a few thousand anti-American protesters thronged the streets downtown. Perhaps a couple of dozen demonstrators turned violent, throwing Molotov cocktails and burning storefronts and bus stops.

In Greece, Ms. Rice sought to win Greek approval of a Security Council action increasing pressure on Iran to suspend its uranium enrichment activities that are believed in the West to be a cover for a nuclear weapons program. Iran says it is developing civilian nuclear power.

Greece is currently a member of the Security Council, and the Greek foreign minister, Theodora Bakoyannis, expressed solidarity with the American objective of stopping Iran's suspected nuclear weapons program but hinted that she did not think the time was right for acting at the Security Council.

"We are in the middle of a diplomatic effort, a diplomatic effort which still has some tools to use in order to become effective," she said.

Outside the meeting, the demonstrators were protesting possible American military strikes against Iran, and inside Ms. Rice was asked by a Greek journalist whether the United States would seek the use of military bases or facilities in Greece for any military intervention against the Iranian government.

The question and the protesters suggested that the United States has to contend in Europe with reports of possible military actions and the fallout of the Iraq war.

"Let me go right to the crux of the question," Ms. Rice said. "The United States of America understands and believes that Iran is not Iraq." At another point she said: "I most certainly did not raise facilities for anything because that's not on the agenda."

In Turkey, Ms. Rice said she appreciated in general Turkey's support for the troubled efforts in recent months to get a nationally unified government in Iraq. Turkey is especially fearful of a breakup of Iraq because it is concerned that Iraq's Kurdish population in the north could help foment a Kurdish rebellion on Turkish soil.

Ms. Rice said the United States would help suppress Kurdish infiltration into Turkey by sharing intelligence information with the Turkish government.

"We believe that it is important that we make a joint effort through information sharing and other means to prevent any vacuum from being used as a way to inflict harm here in Turkey," she said, referring to the situation in northern Iraq in which a lack of American and Iraqi forces may have contributed to the problem.

"We had a trilateral mechanism to work on this issue, and I hope that we can reinvigorate it when there is a new Iraqi government," she said.


Oh oh, be careful Kurds your about to be sold down the river.

The Final Countdown

"My resignation is in...thats it...We are leaving end of May....Isnt it funny how just a few days ago I was saying we havent decided yet...well they have done the thinking for us...HUBBY and I werent talking to each other for a few days now hence the vast amount of blogging i was able to do...actually it was him who stopped talking to me for a very stupid reason...needless to say I had no idea what was going on until a colleague of mine asked me why was my husband cranky...I gave her a blank look and said I have no clue...She said is it true he was leaving??? I said leaving??where???I guess she realised that she probably said something she shouldnt and said umm oh i dunno...i guess things got twisted and they just meant you guys were going on R&R...hmm, my heart sank but I didnt wanna show her that we aint talkin to each other....."
Neurotic Iraqi Wife
Well Iraq's loose will be our gain, as we will have you back all to our selves again.

Soccer, a Jewish conspiracy!

"Wondering what Muqtada thinks of soccer?
Here's the answer in his own words. (Right click then 'save target as' to download, opens with real media player).

No, I wasn't smoking anything when I translated the video; this is how the "nationalist young cleric" normally speaks!

Interesting the US is the superpower because we don't play soccer, you never know this guy might be onto something!

Ineffective Communication (III)

"First of all it should be clear that Iraqis, just like many communities in the globe, are fascinated by the American society. Still, they know very little about how the US became a super power. The US for the Iraqis is a spectrum ranges between the troops touring our streets and Hollywood productions, and the first image of America evoked by Iraqi unconscious is the ugly Yankee. It is the product of an Arab-nationalism, religious, tribal, totalitarian society. A society which is governed by illogical way of reasoning.

Personally, I had a vague image about American individuals, since I had never had a real experience of interaction with non-Iraqis till March 2003. Saddam’s regime considered it a matter of espionage and treason. In addition, heavy security regulations and poor income per capita made it impossible for the Iraqis to go abroad. The result was, and maybe still, a segregated society symbolized by an Iraqi skeptic character filled with mistrust of strangers."
Ibn Alrifidain

Zarqawi appears in rare Web video

DUBAI (Reuters) - The leader of al Qaeda in Iraq, Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, said mujahideen were fighting on despite a three-year "crusader" war, according to a rare video of him posted on the Internet on Tuesday.

A statement from the al-Qaeda affiliated Mujahideen Council, accompanying the tape said it was the first "video of the leader of al Qaeda in Iraq".

"Your mujahideen sons were able to confront the most ferocious of crusader campaigns on a Muslim state. They have stood in the face of this onslaught for three years," Zarqawi said on the video.

"When the crusader enemy entered Iraq, he intended to control the Islamic nation and supported the Zionist state," said Zarqawi, who was clad in black and a green vest with an assault rifle by his side.

Zarqawi, who has earlier issued his messages via audio recordings, was also shown training with a group of masked men outdoors.

Syria to Accept 181 Arab PA Refugees From Iraq

( The United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), a UN refugee relief agency, said today that Syria has agreed to take in 181 refugees from Iraq who have been identified as "Palestinian" by Iraqis. The group has been living in tents on the Iraq-Jordan border for about a month, having fled the conflict in Iraq, but refused entry into Jordan.

UNHCR Media Relations and Public Information Officer William Spindler said, "The group had left Baghdad out of fear for their security." Those identified, or self-identified, as Palestinian in Iraq have been suffering persecution and vengeful attacks by their Iraqi neighbors, as the community is known to have been loyal to Saddam Hussein. They consequently enjoyed a privileged status under Hussein's regime.

Dozens more seeking refuge from Iraqi revenge attacks are reportedly making their way to the Jordan-Iraq border, encouraged by reports of the Syrian hospitality.


I was going to make a snide snaky remark, but what the hell, at least they got some help.

IRAQ: Radioactivity poses risk to population, warns UN nuclear agency

BAGHDAD, 25 April (IRIN) - The Vienna-based International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) announced on Monday that some 1,000 people living near the former Tuwaitha nuclear site faced serious health risks from lingering radiation.

Tuwaitha, situated some 20 km south of the capital, Baghdad, "is one of a number of sites in the country identified as needing decommissioning or remediation, where radioactive material was used or waste buried," according to an IAEA statement.

Residents of the nearby Ishtar village, for example, are exposed to levels of radiation higher than normal, the agency noted, which – in the case of prolonged exposure – could pose serious health risks. According to Bushra Ali Ahmed, director of the Radiation Protection Centre in Baghdad, blood tests carried out on residents revealed a degree of radioactivity in almost half of them.

Devoted to nuclear research under the former regime of Saddam Hussein, Tuwaitha has the highest levels of ambient radiation in the country, according to experts. "Research was done under the Hussein regime using the most dangerous kinds of nuclear material," said Ammar Kheiry, a senior official at the Ministry of Science and Technology. "This resulted in a concentration of radioactive material and exposure of innocent civilians to the dangerous material."

Kheiry went on to draw attention to the government's concern over radioactive material and equipment that vanished from Iraq's nuclear sites in the wake of the 2003 US-led invasion of the country. There have been scattered reports, for instance, of equipment being used by poor families to store water and petrol domestically.

Officials at the health ministry, meanwhile, point out that the number of patients diagnosed with cancer countrywide has increased noticeably in the past two years. Experts suspect the main cause for rising cancer rates could be radioactive contamination resulting from the widespread use of radioactive munitions and equipment.

"Before 2003, there was one new cancer case a day in the capital, at most. This number has now risen to five per day," said Dr Ahmed Abdul Jabbar, an oncologist at the Baghdad Radiation Hospital. "An urgent study should be undertaken, because, according to our statistics, most of the cancer cases have come from areas affected by war and fighting."

The government, therefore, has asked the IAEA for assistance compiling a study on radiation levels throughout the country. "We've called for help from international organisations with expertise in these issues to protect Iraqis from becoming victims of these dangerous materials," Kheiry explained.

The first steps to be undertaken by the IAEA will be to identify, cordon off and prioritise the areas posing the greatest risk to the population. According to agency officials, the main challenge will be to "determine unknown locations where contaminated equipment and materials might be buried and recover lost records about…radioactive materials stored in waste containers".

But cleaning up radioactive materials is a relatively long and complicated process, say officials. "This is a huge task," Dennis Reisenweaver, the IAEA expert heading the effort, noted recently. "And one that could take many years."


Oh, Come on! what's wrong with the IAEA? They did not mention DU even once in this report. A clear sign that the Jooows have taken over the agency.

War Letters, Past and Present - Part III

"The following letter comes from a website called “War Letters: Rochester Writes Home.” It was written from Vietnam by a man named “John.”

March 4, 1971

Dear “Mom” and Crew,

Yesterday, we medivac’d a pair of young girls for multiple fragmentation wounds of the body. One of them was hit in the legs, abdomen, arms and feet! She was 19. The other girl was about 12 years old and had frag wounds in the head, neck, chest, and abdomen. We got them out of here alive but found out today the younger one died on the operating table. All of us on the team (MAT 56) prayed for her but I guess it was her time. I feel bad because I couldn’t do anything to help her.
The wounds were from a booby trap."
Wordsmith at War

The Deal with the Pigeons

"There is no Deal between people walking on the pavements and MoI Commandos, what makes matters worse is what happened three weeks ago in "Tahreer" Square right in front of the Hurriya "Freedom" monument downtown Baghdad. Two Girls going to school on a Thursday Morning were overrun by hurrying MoI Commando cars speeding on the pavement of the monument because their was a traffic Jam in the Square itself...

they never stopped..niether did they look back..

Both girls died immediately in front of dozens of people.

the police car standing in the square tried to rush them to the emergency Hospital, but the Girls were dead already."
Where Date Plams Grow

Clips from the Iraqi Reality Show

"Among dozens of weeping women and men, Um Mohammed pushed away the weepers and sobbed at her 17-year-old son’s blood and the remaining of his flesh. With unforgotten grief, she was crying hysterically. She was left with two wounded daughters, a newly handicapped son and a cheerless father.

Um Mohammed is my friend’s aunt who lives in Baghdad’s western most disastrous, dangerous and violence-plagued areas, Khadhra. Like all the people living there, Um Mohammed’s family wasn’t spared the bombings and the attacks in a completely lawless neighborhood where armed men move freely like ants."
Treasure of Baghdad

Kurdish Sufis dance and chant in ceremony, feeling safer from militants

"I may just have to eat my words from the last post! Yummm, I will be extremely happy to do this. Below is a wonderful article on one of the major Islamic Sufi groups in Iraq, Iran and globally, al-tariqqa Qadiriyya al-Kasnazani, a group of brothers and sisters I love very dearly. It is so great to see Islamic peacebuilders and lovers of God and Creation to get some media coverage. Truly they are a shining light in a sometimes very dark environment and deeply sad events. May my beloved family in Kurdistan and dear Shaykh al-Kasnazani continue our work in Islamic peacebuilding and have the peace and support to do so. Miriam"
Pearls of Iraq

Iraq's Wa'ad....Iraq's Promise...

"As I was walking back to my room, I saw this young girl sitting on the pavement...staring at the sky....the orange sky, for today we had a semi sandstorm....everything looked orange for awhile....I wandered what a young girl her age is doing sitting there in such bad weather.....I was intrigued and suddenly i find myself right next to her...its like something gravitated me towards her, just like a magnet.....she seemed so alone...."
Neurotic Iraqi Wife

At least this time there's a deadline.

"The political atmosphere was fluctuant in Baghdad today just like the weather was, from sunny to dusty to rainy except that the political one is still carrying heavy clouds that I hope these will be gone soon and take away the violence with them.

After the 128-day long fighting over the top government posts, another political fighting has begun over the rest of the cabinet posts but the only good difference this time is that the PM has a definite deadline of one month to present the final formation.
Preparations began yesterday with meetings in Erbil and Baghdad; in Erbil Talabani and Masoud Barzani met with Khalil Zad to discuss the next stage and during this mini summit, Talabani sent an indirect message to the blocs that did not get a share of the 7 posts were distributed on Saturday alluding to the willingness to see these blocs have a role in the cabinet. "


"Right before Easter an email appeared in my inbox with a subject line that simply said Please Read. I didn't recognize the sender's name. Since starting this blog I've recieved messages from many new folks, so that by itself was no cause for concern. I opened Please Read and the reason for the writer's urgency became crystal clear. The writer, Matt, informed me that he'd just found my site and the graphite drawing I had done of his step-brother, Lance Corporal Nicholas G. Ciccone. Whenever I'm asked what I believe to be my finest work I will unhesitatingly reply that it's this portrait. Matt also informed me that his beloved brother committed suicide in October of 2003."
Fire and Ice