Friday, June 25, 2004

U.S. and other Western advisers completed their hand-over of Iraq's government ministries to Iraqis on Thursday, six days before the U.S. occupation formally ends.

The final 11 of 25 ministries handed over to Iraqi control were some of the most sensitive, including the defense, interior and justice ministries.

Iraqi ministers now oversee more than 1 million government workers. About 200 foreigners, mainly Americans and Britons, will stay on as consultants.
Israeli bullets that the Army bought to plug a shortfall should be used only for training and not to fight Muslim guerrillas in Iraq and Afghanistan, lawmakers said yesterday.

"By no means, under any circumstances, should a round from Israel be utilized" since the Army has stockpiled ammunition, said Rep. Neil Abercrombie of Hawaii, the top Democrat on a House Armed Services subcommittee.

In December, the Army contracted with Israel Military Industries for $70 million in small-caliber ammunition because the Israeli firm was one of only two worldwide that could meet U.S. specifications and delivery needs, the military said.

The other was Winchester Ammunition of East Alton, Ill.

Rep. Curt Weldon, a Pennsylvania Republican who chairs the subcommittee, said Abercrombie was making a valid point about the propaganda pitfalls of using Israeli rounds in Iraq and Afghanistan.
This story is so absurd, and wrong on so many levels I don't know where to begin.

Do lawmakers believe that honoring the Arab pathology about all things Jewish is a worthy discussion?

Are our lawmakers so completely clueless about the big picture gravity and scope of this war that this subject is all they can get their pea-sized brains around?

Is this the post-Abu Ghraib level of congressional micromanagement we can expect from here on out as the military tries very hard to perform the mission handed it by the nation? (Here is a clue...war is making sausage. If you have a weak stomach it's strongly recommended you don't watch too closely...)

Are the lead projectiles from bullets made in Israel stamped with the Star of David so they can be identified in autopsy by Muslim medical examiners? Perhaps they glow with seven tiny lights when inspected under an infrared scope.

Did the lawmakers not realize this discussion itself would serve to highlight the fact that the US purchased ammunition from Israel? Did they not realize that the largest loudest reporting of their discussion would be by al Jazeera?

Was I asleep the day the spacecraft came and replaced sentient lifeforms on this planet with total idiots?

That whole Shiite/Sunni thing.
Ahmed Shammar, a Shiite Muslim, prays in a Sunni Muslim mosque because it’s close to his house. His wife, Shatha, a Sunni, improvises her own daily prayers, mixing Shiite and Sunni rituals.

That she and her husband are from different sects of Islam means nothing to Shatha. "He’s a Muslim and I’m a Muslim," she says, wearing a pale green headscarf that stylishly matches her blouse.

The two were colleagues at a government office when they married in a Shiite ceremony in 1990. Their three children go to Christian schools, where they are also taught the Quran, Islam’s holy book.

"I don’t know the difference between Sunnis and Shiites," said Mustafa, their 12-year-old son. "I don’t want to know the difference."

While the Sunni-Shiite split is bitter in some Muslim areas, Mustafa’s attitude is widespread in Iraq, where intermarriage between the two Muslim sects is common, especially in Baghdad...

Attempts to drive wedges between the two Islamic communities -- such as the March bombings in the Shiite holy city of Karbala and in Baghdad’s Kadhemiya neighborhood -- have been overwhelmingly rejected by public expressions of solidarity.

Address mail to deployed soldiers exactly as they told you to.

Adding "Kuwait" or "Iraq" or "Baghdad" only makes it worse.
Something as simple as adding the name of the destination country to an address can delay the delivery of mail to service members overseas...

To alleviate this situation, Slater said help is needed from the family and friends of deployed service members. Senders stateside are actually slowing the delivery of the mail by not properly addressing letters and packages. The sender needs to know the name of the country and the name of the base camp where a service member is stationed are incompatible with regulated military addresses...

By writing Kuwait or Iraq on a letter or package it is routed through civilian mail channels rather then military ones. When that happens, the mail can be delayed significantly. This is attributable to the sorting machine’s inability to discern whether or not the letter is intended to reach an Army or Fleet Post Office address.

A recent case of this common mistake occurred when Soldiers’ mail was found in the post office in downtown Baghdad rather then being sent to where the Soldiers were deployed.

"They brought us 21 letter trays filled with mail dated between December and February," said Lt. Col. Edward Passineau, commander of the joint military mail terminal at Baghdad International Airport...

Additionally, there have been a number of reported cases of internationally channeled military mail being opened, searched through and/or tampered with -- a matter that could potentially be identified as a danger to both individual and unit security, said Slater.
Deputy Defense Secretary Paul Wolfowitz issued an unusual apology yesterday to war correspondents in Iraq after saying they reported rumors because they were too afraid to leave their Baghdad hotels.

On Tuesday, in testimony before the House Armed Services Committee, Wolfowitz agreed with statements by Representative Jim Saxton, Republican of New Jersey, that the news media's focus on violence in Iraq has eclipsed reports of progress there.

"Because frankly, part of our problem is a lot of the press are afraid to travel very much, so they sit in Baghdad and they publish rumors," Wolfowitz said.
My read is he's apologizing because what he said isn't PC...not because what he said doesn't have some truth to it.

Otherwise, how do we explain stories like this?
By Associated Press

June 16, 2004, 9:52 PM EDT

BAGHDAD, Iraq -- Several large explosions rocked Baghdad on Thursday.

The source of the blasts was not immediately clear.
I see this type headline literally everyday that I search for stories about what is going on in Iraq.

But honestly...can you recall, or even imagine, a story reading "Blasts heard in New York, but we have no idea what it was nor what was destroyed."

The fact is that acceptable standards of so-called journalism in Baghdad are far, far less than they are in most other cities in the world.

Got another explanation?
A large majority of Iraqis say they have confidence in the new interim government of Prime Minister Ayad Allawi that is set to assume political power on Wednesday, according to a poll commissioned by U.S. officials in Iraq...

The first survey since the new government was announced by U.N. envoy Lakhdar Brahimi about three weeks ago showed that 68 percent of Iraqis have confidence in their new leaders. The numbers are in stark contrast to widespread disillusionment with the previous Iraqi Governing Council, which was made up of 25 members picked by the United States and which served as the Iraqi partner to the U.S.-led Coalition Provisional Authority. Only 28 percent of Iraqis backed the council when it was dissolved last month, according to a similar poll in May...

But 73 percent of Iraqis polled approved of Allawi to lead the new government, 84 percent approved of President Ghazi Yawar and almost two-thirds backed the new Cabinet. These impressive showings indicate that the new leaders have support spanning ethnic and religious groups, U.S. officials said.

Chances are, you've seen it too.

It is a powerful, potent that we can't control. The best we can hope to do is keep it in check, for once it is released it is punishing and unstoppable.

And that is too bad...for if we could harness it and turn its considerable power to good use I could render the world a safe and happy place.

What is this power of which I speak? It is THE POWER of the jinx.

And if the number of people who are being extra careful to avoid it are any indication, this is a widely known, feared and believed in phenomenon.

I was talking with a coworker yesterday...let's call her Donna. Donna was telling me how she had worn a particular reminder of her husband every day for the 400+ days they have been deployed. It has become a ritual for her...rise, dress, and add this particular bit to her ensemble.

"I can't stop doing it," Donna told me, "because if I do something will happen and the soldiers won't come home when they are supposed to. I'm sure of it."

I smiled at Donna...and felt that I had found in her one who would understand.

"Interesting that you say that," I said to Donna. "You see, when the 1st Armor Division was extended in April, well, it pains me to say this but it was my fault! Really!"

"You see," I explained to Donna, "five days before my darling wife was due home it was time for me to change the password on my computer. I wanted something I'd remember easily, so I thought I'd use the date that she would be home as my new password."

"I did this", I went on, "in spite of the fact that this voice in my head - I know now it was the voice of THE POWER - told me not to. Warned me not to! But I ignored the voice, set the password, and two days later...she and the others were extended. Just so that THE POWER behind the jinx could slap me and show me what a miserable, presumptious little twit I am by attempting to 'predict the future'. My setting that password sealed the fate of the 1st Armor Division."

Donna nodded her head. It was clear she could relate to my tale of the unforgiving force.

I went on: "I should have known better...because I had already caused her return to be delayed once already."

"Really? How did that happen", Donna asked.

"Right after Christmas I started posting on her website how many more days CPT Patti had to go in her command. Actually, I wasn't quite that bold...I phrased it 'X days more of scheduled command'."

"And did that turn out to be true?"

"Yes...precisely true" I replied.

"Then how..."

"Yeah...I know what you are did that alter the date that she was to return to Germany? Well, apparently THE POWER is very smart and not easily duped. It can read one's mind. All I can figure is that THE POWER knew in my heart I was keeping a calendar that added a few days to the number she had left (scheduled!) in her command. THE POWER knew when I published what appeared to be a 'command schedule' it was code for a 'return schedule'. As a result, THE POWER caused the Army to publish a new Stop-Loss/Stop-Movement message just so my wife couldn't come home on schedule."

"So, you see, in the end, it is my fault. This whole thing was my fault. Had it not been for my arrogance in the face of THE POWER who knows how long ago the 1AD might have come home?"

Donna looked at me with a kindness, born of kinship. "Don't beat yourself up too bad", she said. "You had help."

I gave her that inquisitive look seen on the faces of the guilty in search of ex post facto confederates.

"I redid the living room", she said. "It was sort of at the last minute I got this idea for a totally new look. I rushed out, bought fabric and sewed non-stop for two-days and nights in order to finish. And it was beautiful."

I was perplexed. "But how did that..."

"Affect their coming home? Simple. The deadline I set for myself was the date Jack was supposed to leave Baghdad."

Donna shifted in her seat and pulled a cushion across her chest as if to shield her.

"You are right" she went on. "THE POWER knows the moment you begin to make assumptions about the future. As near as I can tell my new living room decor is responsible for the creation of that army of thugs raised by al Sadr. I had never heard one peep about them until the night I finished my living room. Then...WHAM!"

Donna and I sat in silence for a moment, pondering powers beyond our abilities to comprehend. Finally, I spoke.

"I remember when I first suspected the existence of THE POWER. My coach sort of alluded to it. It was in the midst of a little leage football game. I played for the Wade Hampton Cherokees...and we were in a tied game; unusual for us. I played I was standing on the sidelines watching the other team move the ball on our defense. They had the ball down near our own 15 yard line. Coach Sherman looked around and yelled at those of us on the sidelines."

"You guys better holler for our defense!", he said. "They won't stop them if you don't holler?"

"That is when it struck me. There was a POWER overseeing this earth...and if I did not behave as it required of me, it would arrange things to punish me."

"What did you do?", Donna asked.

"I hollered, of course. And ever since I've felt as if I am reponsible every time something goes wrong...everything involving me, that is. Am I stuck in an immovable Stau on the autobahn and about to be late for a meeting? Most certainly it is because I gave someone my word I would be there. Did Brett Favre have a bad game and the Packers lost to the Vikings? Its because I didn't show the required level of dedication to the team by staying up after midnight to watch it here in Germany."

Donna nodded, absent mindedly fingering the charm on the chain around her neck...the one she must wear or face the consequences.

Then I was struck by a new thought.

"Why is it...I mean, how did it happen that this POWER exists - and yet it can only be used to hurt the ones we love the most? What cruel joke is it that by merely buying a bag of Vanilla Bean flavored coffee so that my darling wife can have her favorite when she arrives home...that simple act can alter the course of humanity - but only to the detriment of me, my wife, and those connected to her?"

I rose and began to pace.

"Why doesn't this POWER work toward good? If there were any justice in this power I'd be able to buy a birthday present for Kim Jung Il today, thereby ensuring he doesn't live to see his next birthday and several million North Koreans would be liberated as a result. Does THE POWER have no sense of fair play?"

"I've never noticed it working for good either" Donna replied. "It only seems to punish...for things you do or, sometimes, for things you forget to do."

"I'm curious", I said. "Do you think this is the same power that comes into play when folks walk under a ladder, or a black cat crosses one's path?".

Donna gave that some thought. "No", she said finally. "But I think they are related. I think this one must be the big brother of the cats and ladders variety. It is much more cunning and insidious."

"But in some ways we are lucky", she went on. "The worst that has happened to us is a delay in our guys returning home. Imagine being the poor slob who said to his son 'I promise that on Sunday we'll play an entire 18 holes of golf' and was on the seventh tee when THE POWER sent the Japanese to bomb Pearl Harbor, just to prove him wrong."

"Ouch! I never thought about it like that. Oh my goodness...think of the 1989 San Francisco earthquake. That might have happened just because someone got too smug about having tickets to that World Series game!"

Donna nodded vigorously. "Right...and just imagine," she said, "what must have poor Amelia Earhart done for THE POWER to slap her down so viciously!"

I looked at my watch. It was nearly five.

"Well...I'm gonna pack up and go", I said to Donna. "Enjoyed talking with you."

After I shut down the computer and turned off the lights I passed by Donna's office where she was also packing up.

"I'll see you tomorrow", I said. And immediately wished I hadn't. Who knows what nature of wrath such presumptive arrogance might bring.

Day 411 of CPT Patti's deployment to Iraq.

One year, six weeks, three days.

Thursday, June 24, 2004


They had an ass-whoopin' to deliver.
Once he had targets, Gen. Dempsey could then map a battle plan for entering four key cities — Karbala, Najaf, Kufa and Diwaniyah. This would be a counterinsurgency fought with 70-ton M-1 Abrams tanks and aerial gunships overhead. It would not be the lightning movements of clandestine commandos, but rather all the brute force the Army could muster, directed at narrowly defined targets.

Last week, Sheik al-Sadr surrendered. He called on what was left of his men to cease operations and said he may one day seek public office in a democratic Iraq.
(via Sarah)
Iraq's interim prime minister has formally asked NATO to do more to help stabilize his violence-wracked country by training its nascent security forces...

James Appathurai, the alliance's chief spokesman, said yesterday that Allawi made his request for a NATO training mission Monday in a letter to NATO Secretary-General Jaap de Hoop Scheffer.

For now, the 26-member NATO alliance provides only logistical support to a Polish-commanded multinational division in south-central Iraq.
Seems to me improving the security situation in Iraq benefits all civilized nations. What's done in Iraq is done. Saddam is gone.

The world has a choice...assist in a sea-change in the middle east, or disingenuously write this off as America's problem (and Great Britain, Australia).

It's time for the grown ups of the world to step forward and take a stand that supports freedom over terror, now that the dirty leg work has already been done.

Taking that stand ought to be given for those whose citizens already enjoy the benefits and liberties of freedom and democracy.
At a press conference on Friday, Russian President Vladimir Putin delivered an extraordinary statement that might explain why President Bush felt such a great sense of urgency about driving Saddam Hussein from power. Mr. Putin said that Iraq was planning some kind of attack against the United States. Unfortunately, the same major media that have erroneously suggested that the September 11 commission's report debunks any linkage between al Qaeda and Iraq have shown little interest in Mr. Putin's revelation.

According to Mr. Putin, sometime between the September 11 attacks and the start of the Iraq war, Russia's intelligence service "received information that officials from Saddam's regime were preparing terrorist attacks in the United States and outside it against the U.S. military and other interests." The Russians passed this information on to the United States, and Mr. Bush personally thanked a Russian intelligence official for the information.

This story is a potential blockbuster for manifold reasons — not least of which is the fact that Moscow had long been one of Saddam's closest allies and Mr. Putin was staunchly opposed to the war. Given Saddam's history of supporting terrorism — and his attempt in 1993 to assassinate the first President Bush — one would think that the American media would take this story seriously, and be deluging American and Russian officials with questions about the specifics of the Iraqi plot.

But the reaction has been subdued.

While ABC's "World News Tonight" covered the story on Friday, other networks felt that they had more important things to talk about than a possible attack on America by Saddam . According to the Media Research Center, Friday's CBS "Evening News" didn't mention Mr. Putin's revelation, even though it spent more than two minutes on the debate over ties between Iraq and al Qaeda...

NBC "Nightly News" skipped the Putin story and focused on something else: a story undermining the Bush administration's contention that arch-terrorist Abu Musab al-Zarqawi — given refuge by Saddam — is linked to al Qaeda...

The public is poorly served by such coverage. The fact that the president of Russia effectively is taking Mr. Bush's side on the question of whether Saddam posed a threat to this country is a major news story and should be treated as such. That it is not getting this kind of coverage suggests that many journalists do not have their priorities straight.
Yes...the public is poorly served by such coverage...but the truth is the media are not about serving the public...they are about serving themselves.

Meanwhile, sure as your born, we can count on Aaron Brown to keep us fully up to date on the latest breathtaking rumors from Abu Ghraib.

I loathe the media.

Deprive the terrorists of a public platform.
One thing we know for sure about these psychotic murderers is that they seek as much publicity as they can possibly get. And they’re getting it. They seek to terrorize as many people as possible, and they’re succeeding...

A universal agreement needs to be reached to ban the broadcasting of any video tapes filmed by the terrorists, and to impose a total blackout on all their statements to the media. They must be deprived from any forum they are now using to spread their murderous propaganda. There should be no forum for those justifying murders of innocents. The media focus needs to be on the victims of the killers not on the killers themselves. This is one way to deprive the enemies of the civilized world of their greatest asset. Just like Nazi supporters and sympathizers were banned from all forums, so should be these terrorists.
We've discussed this here these thugs use the media to transmit their propoganda. In fact, if it were not for media, the terrorists would have no platform for their butchery. They'd be faced with a problem worthy of a James Bond to take over the world media. As it is, they don't have to so clever.

The media allow themselves to be used as the terrorists broadcasters, when in fact the thugs have no other outlet.

Ralph Peters calls it as he sees it.

You need to read the whole thing.
Perhaps the greatest blasphemers in any religion are those who appoint themselves as God’s executioners. When an entire civilization embraces such butchers, both the civilization and the religion are in trouble.

The ritual slaughter of Paul Johnson Jr. in Saudi Arabia wasn’t simply the act of a cluster of terrorists, but a reflection of the failure of the entire Arab world.

Religions are what men make of them. In the Arab heartlands of Islam, Muslims are making a gory mess of their faith. It’s time to end the politically correct baby-talk insisting that Islam isn’t the problem. In the decaying Arab world, Islam is the problem—because of the way bitter old men interpret and deform its more humane precepts while embracing its cruelest injunctions...

After centuries of self-destructive behavior, Arab civilization is unable to compete in a single field of human endeavor relevant to progress. Instead, Arab societies are racing backward into superstition, bigotry and a narcotic culture of blame.

They have grown so impotent in every other regard—unable even to translate great wealth into minor power—that Arabs rich and poor, educated and illiterate, are enraptured by their rare “triumphs” over the West, from 9/11 to the barbaric murder of Westerners doing the work that Arabs themselves are too slothful or incompetent to do.
The new prime minister, Iyad Allawi, has told this newspaper that, if the security situation is stable, he would like to hold elections before January, the earliest date hitherto envisaged. If the practical obstacles to an election in, say, November are not insuperable, Mr Allawi deserves support from Britain and America in his eagerness to embrace democracy.

The legitimacy that an elected constituent assembly and government would confer on the new dispensation would refute the Islamist claim that the coalition always intended to turn post-Saddam Iraq into a puppet state. Though the radical cleric Moqtada al-Sadr has now called off his militia, it is imperative that elections should not be delayed if further insurgencies are to be prevented...

Mr Allawi, however, has already gained the respect of his countrymen as a robust patriot.

If it is fair to judge a man by his enemies, he ranks high. During his exile, he survived an attempt on his life by agents of Saddam. Yesterday he was threatened again, this time by al-Qa'eda's leader in Iraq, Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, who is notorious for his televised decapitations of hostages.

Mr Allawi will need all the help he can get to defeat the terrorists, so it is encouraging that President Roh Moo-Hyun of South Korea, who has promised 3,000 troops, is not intimidated by Tuesday's murder of Kim Sun-il.

Incessant terrorist attacks have failed to destabilise Iraq, while the international context has been changed for the better by the recent UN resolution. That Iraq's prime minister is not afraid of elections is another good sign. If the new Iraq is to banish for ever its twin demons, Ba'athism and Islamism, then democracy is not a luxury, but a matter of urgency.
U.S. administrators have made great strides in rebuilding the Iraqi educational system, but still face hurdles, many of their own making, a senior coalition official said in Washington yesterday.

"There is a growing independence of the universities," said John Agresto , the senior adviser for higher education and scientific research with the Coalition Provisional Authority (CPA) in Baghdad.

"Despite the fears of religious and political coercion, I think you find incredible openness and dialogue," Mr. Agresto added during a discussion hosted by the American Enterprise Institute.

"I think higher education is absolutely going in the right direction," he said.

Iraq now has 20 functioning universities and 43 technical institutes and colleges. These are mainly public and overall experienced a 50 percent increase in freshman enrollment last year.

Policy at the institutions is set by their own presidents, rather than the central government, Mr. Agresto said. "This is absolutely a major change."

He also noted that university students for the first time have access to the Internet.
Veteran ambassador John Negroponte yesterday was sworn in for the world's most dangerous diplomatic job — the first U.S. ambassador to the Iraqi government that takes power Wednesday.

Standing by his side were his wife Diana and their five children — who were all adopted when he was posted to Honduras. Negroponte said he has no choice but to leave them behind because of the danger of the job.

"I will go to Baghdad by myself but I will not go alone," said Negroponte, adding he could not have taken the job "without their love, their encouragement and their support."

Negroponte, 64, is literally putting his life on the line. He was sworn in on the same day that terrorists vowed to assassinate Iraq's new prime minister. And last month a tape from Osama bin Laden offered ten thousand grams of gold for killing U.S. envoy Paul Bremer, whom Negroponte will replace.

Tip O'Neill is credited for remarking that "All politics are local". But here, at the local level, international politics don't interfere with the German-American bonds.
When word started to spread last week that a small advance team of 1st Cavalry Regiment troops was leaving Iraq for the friendly confines of Armstrong Barracks, Claudia Trupp knew it was knot time.

So Trupp, a German who works in Büdingen, drove out of her way that day to buy more than 1,600 feet of yellow ribbon, and then spent the night with four other volunteers making bows for the Joes heading home. By noon the next day, about 150 ribbons adorned parts of downtown Büdingen, from trees to an old castle gate.

The U.S. soldiers stationed in Büdingen “are a part of city life,” said Manfred Hix, the deputy mayor.

Ties run deep between this city of 9,000 people and the 1st Squadron, 1st Cavalry Regiment of the 1st Armored Division. About 2,000 Americans live in the community, according to Wolfgang Niebling, a 414th Base Support Battalion spokesman.

German officials, residents and shopkeepers go out of their way to make their American guests feel at home. In return, Americans are heavily involved in community activities, and have been for nearly 60 years.

Two years ago, when a flood threatened the old city center and its historic walls and gate, about 50 U.S. soldiers volunteered in the dead of night to help local crews fill sandbags and stem the rising water. They succeeded, and were later lauded by the mayor for their efforts.

These guys are in a part of Baghdad that our own 1st Brigade used to patrol.
With only a sheet of cardboard for shade, Spc. Jamel Hawthorne sits atop a sun-scorched roof of an Iraqi police station.

Hawthorne and his squad, soldiers from the 272nd Military Police Company, pull security to deter enemy insurgents from launching strikes against lightly armed Iraqi cops.

They don’t attack when we’re here,” said Hawthorne, 21, of Baton Rouge, La. “They can come on, but we have a lot of firepower. We’d hold them.”

“These [attacks] are from people who love Saddam, people who come from Fallujah and have relatives here,” Shukur said. “Many bad people, with RPGs and AKs, they shoot us at night then run away.”

On Sunday, a local man with ties to the insurgents brought a warning. If troops did not withdraw from the station, insurgents threatened to kill every Iraqi officer assigned to it.

“We received the same threat four days ago, but nothing happened,” said Sgt. Paul Meyer, 30, of Old Orchard Beach, Maine. “While we’re here, we’ll protect the station.”...

Staring out into the endless rows of tan-colored buildings, the guys chat to stay alert, they said.

“We talk about muscle cars, women and ... women,” Sgt. Stephen Parrott said. “And women.”

Sometimes that talk about friends back home, wondering what they’re doing now as the soldiers pull their tour in Iraq.

You’ve got to be a talker up here,” said Pfc. Clinton Rope, 20, of Clarinda, Iowa. “That’s what passes the time.”...

Keeping a presence at the Iraqi police stations is more than just guard duty. Marquiss’ soldiers mentor the Iraqis to work professionally, he said. They cover basic police functions; apprehending suspects, conducting investigations and preparing cases for the court.

Helping build the Iraqi force is not without challenges.

Supplies for the Iraqi police are slow in coming. Finding interpreters also takes time. But many police now have uniforms, pistols and numbered badges. Some of their trucks are new Nissan pickups. Bulletproof vests slowly are being fielded.

Looking like police and having equipment brought up the Iraqi’s morale, Marquiss said.

In just a couple of months, Marquiss has witnessed a marked improvement, he said.

“They are going out and doing things on their own now,” Marquiss said.

How does that compare to married couples a couple thousand miles apart?
Is it easier being together in a war zone than leaving spouses behind for a one-year deployment? That’s too simplistic, said two couples.

Yes, they’re together, but a marriage in a war zone is basically suspended. No overt affection. No privacy. Certainly no intimacy.

Experiencing what the war zone is really like, and what a spouse is doing in it, heightens some anxieties while alleviating others...

April 30 was the best day of Spc. Cornelius Randolph’s young life. His wife, Spc. Ayesha Randolph, joined him at Camp Black Jack, near Baghdad International Airport, after surviving two months at Camp Cooke in Taji...

His wife’s arrival completed his world, Cornelius Randolph said.

“My wife, myself and my boys, right here!”

Cornelius Randolph is conscious of not flaunting their relationship in front of his brothers in arms, who are desperately missing their wives. That said, he never thought he’d be in a place where people could tell him what he could and couldn’t do with his own wife...

“I’ve got someone right here to protect, someone I love. I’m a little more motivated to catch these [bad guys],” Cornelius Randolph said...

Tom and Heather Fauvell grew up together. They’ve known each other since the fourth or fifth grade, when their families lived a block apart in their central Long Island, N.Y., suburb.

They even went to the U.S. Military Academy at West Point together.

Now, Capt. Tom Fauvell, 26, 2nd Brigade utility project manager, and 1st Lt. Heather Fauvell, 25, engineer brigade adjutant, are at war together, assigned to the 1st Cav...

With their Army-mandated platonic relationship, “it’s kind of like being teenagers again … a bunch of friends hanging out,” Heather Fauvellsaid. “I laugh all the time.”

Laughing “keeps us sane,” she said.

The Fauvells said they talk often about the future, about family and travel.

“We crave the future normalcy of life,” Heather said.
You know what Heather? Me too.

As it should be.
A movement to get all 50 states to enact financial aid measures for Guardsmen and reservists called to active duty got a boost Wednesday when one of its key proponents testified before Congress.

Illinois Lt. Gov. Pat Quinn was among the first to propose a “Military Family Relief Trust Fund” which was signed into law in February 2003...

With more than 150,000 Guard and Reserve members activated in the war on terrorism, the House Committee on Veterans held the hearing to examine federal laws protecting those servicemembers’ legal, financial and job rights while they are away and when they return...

Quinn and others want laws such as those that would prevent schools from charging out-of-district rates for children who have moved in with caregivers when a parent, perhaps a single parent, is called up.

He also is pursuing a public education campaign, citing abuses by employers who are unaware of the law, or unwilling to follow it.

“We want to make sure shop foremen, line supervisors and others understand that when one of their employees is called up, when they come back, they have a job” or are not otherwise penalized, Quinn said...

But the focus is on the trust funds, Quinn said.

“You’re always going to have a situation where [a deploying reservist’s] pay is reduced. Our concept in Illinois is that this is a token of appreciation,” he said. “Anyone can apply for a $500 grant, and if there’s a hardship — your gas is turned off, you’re defaulting on the mortgage — then we can give you as much as $2,000.”

Quinn quotes Abraham Lincoln’s second inaugural address when pushing legislation: “[L]et us strive on … to care for him who shall have borne the battle and for his widow and orphan.”

Servicemembers and concerned citizens can go to for more information.

This is day 410. One year, six weeks, two days.

Wednesday, June 23, 2004


Good call!
DeMint defeats Beasley for GOP Senate nomination

An apt term to add to your political lexicon.

I found this article by way of the Opinion Journal, and their daily emailing called The Best of the Web Today.

Over the last couple of years I've signed up for many daily mailings...this one is the only one I haven't canceled. If you aren't receiving it...perhaps you want to give it a try.

From the time of John Kennedy's assassination in 1963 to Jimmy Carter's election in 1976, the Democratic party was gradually taken over by a bizarre doctrine that might be called Punitive Liberalism. According to this doctrine, America had been responsible for numerous crimes and misdeeds through its history for which it deserved punishment and chastisement. White Americans had enslaved blacks and committed genocide against Native Americans. They had oppressed women and tyrannized minority groups, such as the Japanese who had been interned in camps during World War II. They had been harsh and unfeeling toward the poor. By our greed, we had despoiled the environment and were consuming a disproportionate share of the world's wealth and resources. We had coddled dictators abroad and violated human rights out of our irrational fear of communism.

Given this bill of indictment, the Punitive Liberals held that Americans had no right at all to feel pride in their country's history or optimism about its future. Those who expressed such pride were written off as ignorant patriots who could not face up to the sins of the past; and those who looked ahead to a brighter future were dismissed as naive "Pollyannas" who did not understand that the brief American century was now over. The Punitive Liberals felt that the purpose of national policy was to punish the nation for its crimes rather than to build a stronger America and a brighter future for all...

The punitive aspects of this doctrine were made especially plain in debates over the liberals' favored policies. If one asked whether it was really fair to impose employment quotas for women and minorities, one often heard the answer, "White men imposed quotas on us, and now we're going to do the same to them!" Was busing of school children really an effective means of improving educational opportunities for blacks? A parallel answer was often given: "Whites bused blacks to enforce segregation, and now they deserve to get a taste of their own medicine!" Do we really strengthen our own security by undercutting allied governments in the name of human rights, particularly when they are replaced by openly hostile regimes (as in Iran and Nicaragua)? "This"--the answer was--"is the price we have to pay for coddling dictators." And so it went. Whenever the arguments were pressed, one discovered a punitive motive behind most of their policies.
And from the commentary that comes as part of "The Best of the Web Today", comes this:
Punitive liberalism is still alive and well among our liberal elites. It didn't take long after Sept. 11 for various left-wing intellectuals to start positing that America had brought the attacks on itself. The media's obsession with Abu Ghraib and its relative lack of interest in Saddam Hussein's far worse human-rights abuses is another example.

Punitive liberals are often defensive about their patriotism--understandably enough, since their relentless complaining about America often is hard to distinguish from out-and-out anti-Americanism. Their defense is that "true" patriotism consists in acknowledging your own country's faults and exhorting it to improve.

Well, maybe. Certainly there's nothing unpatriotic about criticizing your government or its policies. And since love of country is a matter of the heart, it's presumptuous to question anyone's patriotism. But imagine a man who treats his wife the way the punitive liberals treat America: constantly belittling her, pointing out her faults and never showing her any kindness. He may love her, but most people would agree he has a twisted way of expressing it.

Let Cal Thomas explain...he does it well.
Maybe Saddam Hussein didn't speak directly to Osama bin Laden, but he was part of the same "family." Saddam did not personally bomb targets inside Israel (except during the 1990 Gulf War) but he rewarded the families of homicide bombers. Does that prove a connection between Saddam and Palestinian terrorism? The guy who drives the getaway car is as guilty as the people who rob the bank and shoot the teller.
Oh...and via Instapundit, here is a 1999 CNN story about those non-existent links
Iraqi President Saddam Hussein has offered asylum to bin Laden, who openly supports Iraq against the Western powers.


Another soldier proves to be a fine upstanding citizen...and a wonderful teacher provides a valuable lesson for the kids.
During the 12 months when U.S. Army 1st Lt. Charlie Barrett was stationed in Iraq, most of the letters he received were from children he had never met.

"Other than letters from family members, I really just get letters from kids." Barrett said. "The kids' letters are always the best letters. They say things like, 'Hang my picture in your tank.' "

Nineteen of the children Barrett corresponded with were fourth-graders taught by his aunt, Mary Barrett, at the Ridgeway School in White Plains. Barrett, who served as an executive officer in the 3rd Brigade combat group of the 4th Infantry Division, has been back in the United States for two months. He met these pen pals for the first time yesterday.

Mary Barrett wanted to teach her students about patriotism. She also had to teach them how to write friendly letters. She accomplished both goals in November when all of her students wrote letters introducing themselves to Barrett and asking him questions about the Army and Iraq.

Barrett, 29, replied individually to each letter...

Barrett's enamored pen pals asked him questions that ranged from the hard-hitting, "Did you ever meet a town in Iraq that was unfriendly to you?" (not usually), to the practical, "Did it get really hot in Iraq?" (yes, up to 130 degrees), to the curious, "Did you get to see Saddam?" (no, but he wishes).

There was a lot of anticipation leading up to Barrett's visit, said Luisa Marin, one of Barrett's pen pals. "We'd seen pictures of him, but I thought he might have looked different after being in the hot, burning sun."

Barrett told the class, to much "oohing" and "ahhing," that he and his team of soldiers "captured 500 bad guys." He showed a photomontage made in his brigade that showed the soldiers giving stuffed animals to Iraqi children, and he gave each child a now-obsolete Iraqi 250-dinar bill with deposed president Saddam Hussein's face on it.

The students said that their pen pal made them feel confident that the soldiers want to help.

"I learned that the soldiers are trying to make it better for Iraqis and give them rights," said Jens Sannerud, one of Barrett's pen pals.

"The soldiers in Iraq are trying to be good to people, giving them supplies," agreed his classmate Louisa Martin.
Thank you, LT. Barrett. And you too, Mrs. Barrett.
Four and five thousand-year old artifacts from Iraq's multi-cultured past were discovered here when Soldiers of Company B, 65th Engineer Battalion dug into a hill while gathering dirt for Hesco defense barriers in late April...

"Once the engineers found it, they stopped, backed off and notified the brigade tactical operations center," Gianforti said...

"As Americans our policy is to respect the cultures of the country that we find ourselves in," said Maj. Karl Morton, commander of Co. B, 451st CA Bn. "The better the locals understand that, I think the more supportive they'll be to what we are doing overall. That's one of our main missions in Civil Affairs."

Ghaib Fadil Karem, director of Ministry of Antiquities, said he appreciates the efforts of the Army and Air Force in safeguarding Iraq's ancient history.

"I realize how sincere [the Army and Air Force] are to the Iraqi culture," Karem said through an interpreter. "Before I knew about this, I had another idea about this matter where I was concerned about the sites beneath the earth in the area. Now I know they are here trying to protect these sites and are preserving them for the Iraqi people."
El Paso Muslims on Tuesday called for justice for the three murdered civilians who were beheaded at the hands of Iraqi militants.

Officials of the Islamic Center of El Paso condemned the recent murders of American civilian Paul Johnson Jr. in Saudi Arabia and South Korean civilian Kim Sun-il in Iraq. American Nicholas Berg was beheaded allegedly by the same group last month.

"We support the swift apprehension and prosecution of the perpetrators of these barbaric crimes," Mario Omar Hernandez, Islamic Center of El Paso president, said in a statement. "No injustice done to Muslims can ever justify the massacre of innocent people, and no act of terror will ever serve the cause of Islam."
The Islamic Center of El Paso said the actions taken by the militant groups were not Islamic actions.

"We dissociate ourselves from any Muslim group or individual who commits such brutal and un-Islamic acts. We refuse to allow our faith to be held hostage by the criminal actions of a small minority acting outside the teachings of the Quran and the Prophet Muhammad, peace be upon him."
The beheading of a South Korean hostage by an al-Qaida cell in Iraq yesterday, horrid as it is, was virtually predestined, no matter what efforts might have been made to save him. This show of barbarism wasn't really intended to obtain the concessions the terrorists demanded - Seoul's immediate pullout of its 670 troops in Iraq and the cancellation of its imminent deployment of 3,000 more. There wasn't enough time to fulfill the hostage-takers' demands, even if there had been a willingness to do so. Rather, this grisly spectacle was meant to stir protests in South Korea and elsewhere against participation in Iraq's reconstruction and scare away foreign workers.

But at least in South Korea, it didn't work. President Roh Moo-hyun, after a meeting with his National Security Council, decided that Seoul would not negotiate with terrorists over hostages and would keep to its plan to deploy troops to Iraq, making South Korea's military contingent the third largest after the United States and Britain...

A capitulation now would only ensure more kidnappings, more death threats and even more, equally untenable, demands later. It would send al-Qaida and its followers the message that democracies can be bent to their will. That's just the message Spain sent after the lethal train bombings in Madrid: The outcome of a close national election days after the attack turned on Spain's confrontation with terror, encouraging the notion that threats to a nation's security pay dividends.

That is the most masochistic signal a democracy can send. We can only hope al-Qaida's inhuman acts eventually generate enough revulsion to backfire against it.

By the way...I wonder how it feels to be Spain, now held up worldwide as The Great Capitulators, those who can be told what to do by the thugs.

I'm pretty certain that act of cowardice will be written into the history books.
A large majority of Dutch MPs on Tuesday night backed the Cabinet's decision to extend the nation's troop deployment in Iraq by eight months.
Consumer confidence surged last week, reversing a month-long decline sparked by rising gasoline prices.

The ABC News/Money magazine Consumer Comfort Index jumped five points to -15 on its scale of +100 to -100. In 18 years of polling, the index has only risen that sharply 15 times with the last being just after the fall of Baghdad.

This week's five-point gain also erased any lingering traces of a nine-point drop in the index, from -11 in mid-May to -20 last week.

Confidence appears to have been caught between two opposing forces over the past few weeks--jobs data showing the labor market is on the mend on one end and soaring gas and food prices on the other. With pump prices easing, down from $2.06 a gallon in mid-May to roughly $1.94 now, jobs may be starting to win that tug of war.

The phrase above is a part of the mission statement of the US Military. Good job, guys.
U.S. military forces continued their campaign to eradicate the al Qaeda-linked terror group commanded by Abu Musab Zarqawi yesterday, launching a "precision strike" on a safe house used by his group in Fallujah.

Four people were reported killed in the airstrike — the second in four days — that set off loud explosions and flattened a building in the violently anti-American city.

Brig. Gen. Mark Kimmitt, spokesman for U.S. forces, said the air raid was based on "multiple confirmations of actionable intelligence" that Zarqawi's group was using the building as a headquarters.

"Wherever and whenever we find elements of the Zarqawi network, we will attack them," Kimmitt said...

Yesterday's airstrike took place at 10:30 p.m., about five hours after the beheaded body of South Korean hostage Kim Sun-il was discovered by U.S. troops on a highway between Fallujah and Baghdad.

Zarqawi's group claimed responsibility for that atrocity as well as the beheading of American hostage Nick Berg last month.
And, as we see here, there is more than good reason, as Zarqawi proclaims he is trying to kill the Iraqi Prime Minister:
An audiotape posted on an Islamic website Wednesday in the name of Iraq's Al-Qaeda-linked terror chief Abu Mussab al-Zarqawi threatens to kill Iraqi interim prime minister Iyad Allawi.

"Allawi ... you have escaped many times, without knowing it, from well organised ambushes that we laid," says the voice.

"But we pledge to go all the way without giving up so that you will meet the same fate as Ezzedine Salim," head of the now dissolved Governing Council who was assassinated in a Baghdad suicide car bombing on May 17.

The purported recording by Zarqawi, who heads the Tawhid wa al-Jihad (Unification and Holy War) group, branded Iraqis who cooperate with the US-led occupying forces "the symbols of evil, infidel imams, the sign of betrayal. You are hypocrites."
A new, larger Internet facility opened recently at Camp Fallujah. The most-requested features are the 10 Webcams, where troops can see whom they are talking with back home while sending real-time text messages.

“It’s nice seeing my family, and it makes my wife feel good to see me,” said Sgt. John Horner of Okmulgee, Okla., a member of the Oklahoma Army National Guard and the 120th Engineering Battalion.

Michelle McKinney, a Morale, Welfare and Recreation coordinator who helps run the facility, said the 47 computer and 10 phones are used around the clock, with lines of troops waiting to get on most of the day.

“For me the hardest part of the job is telling someone they have to get off the phone when their time is up,” McKinney said.
However, for those of you without access to a webcam linked to Fallujah, here is an up close look at one face of the American Serviceman getting it done in Iraq.
Charlie Coon / Stars and Stripes

This is day 409 of CPT Patti's deployment.

One year, six weeks, one day.

Tuesday, June 22, 2004


Go read it all now!
We believe in quagmire.
We believe that when fringe Iraqi groups attack hard targets and are soundly defeated with relatively low Coalition casualties, that this is inescapable evidence of crisis;
We believe that Iraq is Bush’s Vietnam.
(via Sarah)

Sorry about that...I've been busy with briefings and orientation for some official guests.

Should be back at it for real tomorrow.

Quote from him:
"After all, the real issue is, 'Was (Saddam) a destabilizing factor in the area?' Definitely he was," Yawer said. "He was a weapon of mass destruction by himself."
And a quote from this site, over a year ago.
I've said it before...Saddam himself was a weapon of mass destruction.
Iraq's once-flourishing date palm groves have been decimated by war, unrest and the collapse of infrastructure under United Nations' sanctions, according to officials and farmers.

But the government's new program seeks to change all that. Indeed, Iraq's Agriculture Ministry is pursuing a policy of trying to restore what was once the world's leading date industry.

According to a May 28 press release from the Coalition Provisional Authority, the ministry has already established 18 date palm orchards in 13 provinces. In one year, the nurseries will provide enough offshoots for 2,800 hectares of trees.

Already, ministry officials say, their offices are inundated by would-be farmers asking about fertilizers, vaccinations, pesticides and other topics.

"We will bring Iraq back to first place in the planting of palms," said Hussein Abbas, who sits on the ministry's program committee.
“Whoever thought of this is a mastermind,” said 20-year-old Army Spc. Robert Swanson, who is assigned to the 293rd Military Police Company, which is currently deployed to Iraq.

Swanson and his fellow 293rd drinking buddies — Spc. Jesse Greene, also 20, and Pfc. Darren “Moose” Ripley, 19 — all like the fact that they could crack a beer every night.

If I can take a bullet for my country, I should be able to drink a beer,” Greene said.

And the three soldiers have done exactly that, each one of them has been injured in Iraq, and will eventually receive a Purple Heart, Swanson said. That’s the reason their names were put into the mix for those being sent here, they said.

“But enough about that, let’s talk about the beer,” Swanson said with his thick Louisiana drawl.

The beer that’s offered is limited. The troops have their choice between about six different beers, ranging from 12-ounce Budweisers to 16-ounce Holland — Oranjebooms.

The soldiers said they’ve heard some people complain about the taste of the imports, but they don’t mind.

“It doesn’t make a difference [what brand], as long as it does its job,” said Swanson, who prefers the larger imports. “Over here, everyone goes for the size, not the taste.”

And Swanson said that first taste of golden brew was excellent.

“It was like seeing Pam Anderson in real life … it was heaven and I couldn’t resist,” he said...

While the three soldiers completed their R&R time and headed back to their unit Sunday, Swanson joked that it was going to be hard to let go of his 16-ounce friend.

“I’m probably going to cry,” he said. “It will be like breaking up with a girlfriend.”

In my opinion proper training of the Iraqi police force is among the most important jobs to be done in that country.

And we've got some super guys doing it.
The initial part is a three-week basic leadership development course designed to give Iraqi police a working knowledge of proper police tactics and procedures. They will then attend more advance courses as they progress through their career.

These courses include more instruction on general Iraqi police techniques, a SWAT team, weapons training, and a more specialized Iraqi Civil Defense Corps.

“We’re trying to make a transition process. We’re integrating a program of the basics in a three-week course, and then continuing to bridge the gap between what many Iraqi police learned under the regime, which basically had no human rights, to basic Western police skills,” Hogan said.

American instructors, who used to be police or security officers, aid in teaching leadership and procedure. Combining their knowledge of international security operations and the social and political issues their students face daily, the trainers present a variety of scenarios that the trainees might realistically encounter.

“I didn’t expect the Iraqi police force to be so open about working with us. I was pleasantly surprised,” said John McGray, a former police chief from New Jersey. “It’s been excellent.”

Starting next year, tired soldiers in the field will be able to quickly cook up a cup of Joe, thanks to a sealable plastic bag that will be put in every Meal, Ready to Eat, or MRE.

The new “hot beverage bag” is designed to be used in conjunction with the flameless ration heater bag included in every MRE.

The warfighter would fill the bag with a cup of water, seal it, place it inside the heater bag, and after six minutes, be able to place the hot bagin a cardboard box and mix in the instant coffee or other beverage mix.

The bag provides a solution to a dilemma that has nagged defense food experts since steel helmets went out of style...

Soldiers used to be able to boil water in their helmets; no more with Kevlar...

In the process of conducting their research into improving MREs, Natick scientists had collected numerous comments from troops saying that a waterproof, resealable plastic bag would be handy — not just for storing uneaten snacks, but also to hold small personal items.

So last year, Natick researchers decided to combine the obvious, Darsch said — a plastic bag for carrying items that doubles as a coffee mug.

The plastic bags were field-tested by troops in Iraq over the winter, and were “an unbelievable hit,” Darsch said.

In response, Combat Feeding officials decided to put the bags on the fast track, Darsch said. Natick’s schedule now calls for the devices to be inserted into all MREs that will be manufactured beginning in 2005, Darsch said.

This is day 408 of my darling wife's deployment to Iraq.

One year, one month, three weeks.

I talked to my sweet wife last night. It concerns me to learn that she is having a tough time keeping a level perspective.

She tells me that whenever she gets excited over the prospect of coming home soon that her emotions then jump in and send her crashing down again, saying to her "remember what happened last time".

If you've been reading for some time you know that last time she had already begun the journey home...had made the dangerous convoy from deepest darkest Baghdad to the airport...had already turned in her ammunition...and then the word of the extension hit.

I have supposed since then that this was a huge blow, but I haven't come up against evidence of its residual effects until last night.

She tells me that "folks have noticed" that she often isn't her normal spirited self. Given that her spirit is her best asset, this is disturbing. I am concerned that perhaps the pressure has left her more fragile than I anticipated.

I'm praying there are no delays, no changes in plans for her and the others. I know now that even the most optimiistic among them do not look forward with any certainty...and thus life becomes truly day to day. Eliminating the future eliminates hope. Only home and hearth and hugs can restore that.

Monday, June 21, 2004

Weapons that can incapacitate crowds of people by sweeping a lightning-like beam of electricity across them are being readied for sale to military and police forces in the US and Europe...

Meanwhile, Xtreme Alternative Defense Systems (XADS), based in Anderson, Indiana, will be one of the first companies to market another type of wireless weapon. Instead of using fibres, the $9000 Close Quarters Shock Rifle projects an ionised gas, or plasma, towards the target, producing a conducting channel. It will also interfere with electronic ignition systems and stop vehicles.

"We will be able to fire a stream of electricity like water out of a hose at one or many targets in a single sweep," claims XADS president Peter Bitar.

Victor Davis Hanson puts it all in perspective.
I fear that we should expect over the next 50 years some pretty scary things coming out of Europe as its impossible postmodern utopian dreams turn undemocratic and then ugly — once its statism and entitlement economy falter; Jews leave as Arabs stream in; its shaky German-French axis unravels; its next vision of an EU mare nostrum encompassing North Africa and Turkey begins to terrify Old Europe; and its pacifism brings it real humiliation from the likes of an Iran or China. Indeed, despite Europe's noble efforts to incorporate the former Warsaw Pact, we are already seeing such tensions in the most recent EU elections.

We all like the Europeans and wish them well in their efforts to create heaven on earth. But in the end I still think we Americans are on the right side of history in Iraq — while they are on no side at all.
Do yourself a favor and go read the whole thing.

While I'm out finding the good news, Sarah is doing the heavy intellectual lifting.

I bet you'll think "Man! That's what I was trying to say."

I know I did.

The New York Times carries a story that says we got it right!
A day after an American airstrike destroyed six homes in this flashpoint city, a senior Iraqi official said today that 23 of 26 people killed in the attack were foreign terrorists, including men from Algeria, Saudi Arabia and Yemen...

"The Americans had very good information," the official said. "It was like trying to catch a sparrow. They had a small moment to catch the fighters in those houses and they did."

Recruiting goes well.
"The fighting we're seeing has made some parents concerned. It's worried the moms and dads, but it's also galvanized young men and women. We're meeting all our goals for recruiting."

Davis said the patterns seen within the Navy are the same across the military. Army officials said that as of the end of May, 48,939 people have signed up for active-duty enlistment, placing the Army 372 people ahead of its goal. Officials said 11,893 people have signed up for Army Reserves -- 268 people ahead of their mission.

"The war, if anything, has brought young men and women out," Davis said.


It seems it is only invisible to reporters.
The congressional VIPs visited only U.S. bases, wore body armor and was protected at all times. But Davis said that in visiting Iraq, she learned that the situation is unlike the one portrayed in TV news coverage.

"It's not like there's a bomb going off every minute," she said. "People thought I was nuts for going, but that's not what I saw when I got there.

"I don't want to take away from [that] it's a dangerous place," Davis said. "But it's in sections. Are there still people there who want us out? Yes.

"But our men and women, they're learning more every day about how to fight these insurgents, and they're doing a darn good job of it," she said. "We are doing the right thing. It is going to be something that's going to take a while. After June 30 happens, the violence isn't going to stop."

Davis said most Iraqis are going about their daily lives.
Mr. Peschang spent eight months in Iraq helping to restore utility service as part of Task Force RIE, or Restore Iraqi Electricity.

He returned to the Quad-Cities May 12, full of stories and a bit dismayed over what he feels is a one-sided view being shown in the American media.

``There is danger there, but it is not as dangerous as they show,'' he said. ``At least 95 percent of my experiences with the Iraqi people were good. They wanted us there, they were happy with what we were doing, they could see we wanted to do good things for them.''

He went to Iraq to work on a transmission line from Hartha to Al Kut. It, as well as other power lines, had been torn down by Saddam Hussein's regime.

While there, he worked within a 700-kilometer stretch in seven major cities and more than 100 villages. ``I got to see so many people, and I covered a lot of ground,'' he said. ``What I saw were happy, smiling faces and a lot of hellos and thank yous.''

He said it was easy to become friendly with several of the people he met, including the Iraqi guards who gave protection while he was working on the power lines.

One villager gave him a piece of jewelry to show his appreciation of their friendship. Another man began calling him ``brother'' after Mr. Peschang helped get him to a hospital for medical attention.
And editors of local newspapers can see it!
IT WAS THE incredible disappearing story, one that seemed to confirm much of the public’s suspicion that the American media are unwilling to acknowledge any good news coming out of Iraq.

Early on Wednesday morning, June 9, National Public Radio’s first news broadcast of the day included brief mention of “a breaking story” —a report that American commandos had succeeded in a daring rescue of three Italians and a Pole held hostage for more than two months by insurgents. No further details were available at the moment.

Apparently no further details were available forever after, because the story disappeared from the radar screen. A steady listener dial-hopping during a six-hour trip from southern Connecticut to northern New Hampshire never heard another word about the rescue, not even so much as a repeat of the previous story.

It can only make a news addict wonder how many other success stories in Iraq are getting short-shrift or deep-sixed.

Many people with family members serving in the military, however, have no doubts.

They are so fed up with what they say is one-sided, bad-news-only reporting that they have set up several Web sites to get the truth out about the many successes and good deeds achieved by their sons, daughters, fathers, mothers, brothers and sisters in uniform. And in letters to the editor about Big Media’s blatant bad-news bias, the word they often use is “shameful.”
Geez, CNN, NBC, ABC, CBS, New York Times et al. What does it take?
On May 1, Ryan called a meeting of all the tribal and religious sheiks at a milk-bottling plant.

The first two hours saw a relentless tongue-lashing from the sheiks, a litany of perceived injustices by U.S. troops. Ryan said it was hard to take at times.

Then for six hours, Ryan did some things U.S. officers say is ``outside the box.''

First, he told the sheiks both sides had made mistakes.

``Just saying we've made mistakes - we've been afraid to say it because people will blow it out of proportion - makes a huge difference,'' Ryan said. ``... Their faces light up and they are ready to talk.''

Then he offered a clean slate, or as they say in Arabic, a white page. If the sheiks took responsibility for security, Ryan told them, he promised that his soldiers would not raid their homes. Further, he said, if the sheiks promised that members of their tribes sought by U.S. forces would stop carrying out attacks, the troops would stop hunting them.

All the sheiks agreed, and the deal has become known as ``The White Page Truce.''

``This is the best move the Americans have made yet,'' said Sheik Sadi al-Khinani, a senior tribal leader. ``The people will see that the Americans have come here to help them, not what others have said, which is that the Americans have come here to abuse them.''

Ryan said that in the six weeks from March 1 to April 12, 28 U.S. soldiers were wounded and two killed. In the six weeks since the truce, there have been no casualties...

Higher officials have sent people to study Ryan's methods. In many ways, he has done on a small scale what the United States will do on June 30: give Iraqis their sovereignty.

Well said, Sir!
Iraq's interim prime minister, Iyad Allawi, cemented his credentials as a "strong man" yesterday by warning that he could impose martial law.

He also welcomed US air strikes in Fallujah that killed up to 26 people. Mr Allawi, who will officially take charge of Iraq on June 30, announced a radical overhaul of the Iraqi security forces designed to take on insurgents determined to destabilise his government.

"They are trying to destroy our county and we are not going to allow this," he said. "This struggle is first and foremost an Iraqi struggle. We are prepared to fight and, if necessary, die for these objectives.

And how many news outlets I can find carrying that story? One. The Defense Department's public affairs office.

Iraq's deputy prime minister implored the American press to provide more balanced coverage of operations in Iraq.

Barham Salih, a prominent leader from Kurdish northern Iraq, made his plea June 19 to American reporters traveling in Iraq with Deputy Defense Secretary Paul Wolfowitz.

"I hope you from the American press will be able to tell people back home … that (through) this mission you are giving an entire nation an opportunity to be rid of their challenges," he said.

"These soldiers are helping renovate schools and so on, and very, very little of that is reported," Salih continued. "We have to be grateful to those young men and women who have come from afar, sacrificing their lives to defend our security and our freedom."

He said context is important, and many American papers don't put things in the proper context. For instance, he said, "Many of the op-ed writers before the war predicted that Kirkuk would become the scene of the most vicious civil war," he said, referring to the northern Iraqi city that has been the site of problems between Kurds and Arabs.

"There are tensions in Kirkuk," he said, "but no civil war."

New Iraqi President Ghazi al-Yawer explained his belief that 90 percent of what's happening in Iraq is good news, and 10 percent in bad. "The media is magnifying the 10 percent, ignoring the 90 percent," Yawer said.

The momentum is building...and the bad guys can make it ugly and difficult, but they can't stop the progress.
Iraq has began pumping more than a million barrels of crude per day to Basra’s loading terminal, a US based tanker company said.

“Crude oil is being pumped to the Basra terminal at the rate of 42,000 barrels per hour, which is just slightly more than a million barrels a day,” said Mohammed Hadi, head of operations for Baghdad for Norton Lilly International.

An official in Dubai from Inchcape Shipping Services said a pipeline damaged by insurgents last week had been repaired and had been pumping crude since yesterday.
Between sips on an iced mocha at Shockoe Espresso & Roastery last week, Smith recalled a few harrowing moments in Iraq but said he still supports President Bush's decision to go to war.

"I left feeling very satisfied and proud I served as a small part of the CPA," he said.

Smith said the front-page and TV news images of violence in Iraq are every bit as awful as they appear but are separated by "hours and days" of advancements.

"We are making everyday forward gains," he said. "Those random acts of violence are not the true reaction of the Iraqi people."

Smith views the violence more as a reflection of the strength of terrorists in the Middle East than asmistakes made in the Bush administration strategy.

"We need to be there," he said, "because terrorism is a threat to our generation."...

He said he felt a great sense of accomplishment planning a national conference of Iraqi fire officials. He said last month's conference showed Iraqis of all political and ethnic backgrounds working together with a shared vision.

"That was sort of a capstone moment for me because that's what we were working for," he said. "We looked to the Iraqis and said, 'The next chapter is yours to write.'"

Some won't appreciate the magnitude of this...believing this is how things are "supposed to be".

But isn't that the point? It wasn't this way under Saddam...even without the maniac insurgent terrorists running around blowing stuff up.

Way to go guys!
It was an engineering success on the order of stringing the first cables for the Brooklyn Bridge or coaxing the first glimmer of starlight through some giant telescope to help explain the structure of the universe.

But when it occurred late last month, the achievement remained cloaked in absolute secrecy, marked only by a quiet celebration among participants who might remain forever unknown to history.

Raw sewage was treated in Baghdad.

The stream of treated water that eventually found its way into the Tigris River was hardly more than a trickle, roughly 20 million gallons a day from a city that produces raw sewage at something like 10 times that rate or more. But the accomplishment is all but epoch-making in a city where the sewage plants are in such disrepair that for the last 10 to 15 years, every drop of that muck was poured untreated into the river, fouling everything from boat landings to drinking water systems downstream.

Successes like this one were just what Congress envisioned when it appropriated billions of dollars to rebuild Iraq, hoping the improvements would convince Iraqis of America's good will.


How'd that get started?
There is no established genesis of yellow ribbons, which blossomed in January 1981 to welcome the American hostages home from Iran.

A 1981 Library of Congress report notes that in a 1981 CBS broadcast, Penelope Laingen, wife of the U.S. charge d'affaires in Tehran, Bruce Laingen, was shown outside her home in Bethesda, Md. "It just came to me," she said, "to give people something to do, rather than throw dog food at Iranians. I said, 'Why don't they tie a yellow ribbon around an old oak tree?'"

The Library of Congress further noted that a song, copyrighted in 1972 under the title "Tie a Yellow Ribbon Round the Ole Oak Tree," was recorded by 30 vocalists in the late 1970s. The hit version was done by the vocal group Dawn featuring Tony Orlando.

The song sketches the story of a convict riding the bus homeward after three years in prison who is hoping his sweetheart ties a yellow ribbon on a roadside oak tree if she will have him back -- and finds the tree is covered with yellow ribbons.

In 1949, the Library of Congress added, Argosy Pictures released a motion picture starring John Wayne and Joanne Dru, which was called "She Wore a Yellow Ribbon." The picture was popular, and the theme song, "Round Her Neck She Wore a Yellow Ribbon," was a hit.

But according to Gerald arsons, writing for the American Folklife Center News, various versions of the song have been around for about 400 years.
Look at the latter verses to discover the ribald rest-of-the-story.

If you aren't familiar with the song "Around Her Neck She Wore a Yellow Ribbon" can find the lyrics here. This song is a traditionial "Jodie Call" of those songs sung by Soldiers marching in formation.

Meanwhile, here is another take on the yellow ribbon tradition going back to the Civil War.
Did you ever wonder where the Yellow Ribbon Tradition came from? Most Music Historians trace the Custom to a 19th Century Civil War Song. The tradition of wearing yellow ribbons may date back to the Civil War when the U.S. Cavalry was symbolized by yellow piping on their uniforms. Women who were married to or dating soldiers wore yellow ribbons as they waited for their sweethearts to return from battle. It served a dual purpose because of the reputation of the calvary soldier: it kept away unwanted suiters and also provided a threat of reprisal from a calvary soldier should any harm come to his girl. The early song was done for cadence as the soldier rode in formation.

The ground-pounders finally get their due.
The Air Force is no longer America’s overwhelming choice as the most important branch of the armed forces due to the conflict in Iraq, a new Gallup poll shows.

Americans consider the Army or the Marine Corps just as important, while the Navy and the U.S. Coast Guard are far behind, the survey found. However, twice as many people named the Marine Corps as the “most prestigious branch” compared to the rest.

The poll represents a significant shift in opinion, which has traditionally favored the Air Force. The public has long considered the Air Force as the service “most vital to the nation’s defense” dating back to similar polls in the 1940s and 1950s.

But the tremendous amount of media attention zeroed in on ground forces in Iraq has changed public perceptions, Gallup found.
On Camp Lima, the Post Exchange might just be trying to drive some troops crazy. It sells French onion dip, bean dip, cheese dip and salsa, but there are no chips. It sells three different types of cereals, but no bowls or milk. There are different canned meats, jellies and sandwich spreads, but no bread. And the kicker? They sell phone cards, but there are no phones on the camp that accept the cards.

Camp officials say some products simply sell faster than others, leaving odd pieces to what would be a great snack.

Some of our guys...and they say they'll believe they are headed home...well, when they are headed home. If even that.
Though there’s talk of going home, the 1st Armored Division soldiers in Karbala said they were extended the first time for a reason: to take care of the bad guys.

And if push comes to shove in the days before the June 30 handover in Iraq, their ability to get those bad guys just might make them too good to send home again, troops said.

Army officials have announced that the Germany-based division should be home by mid-July, but senior noncommissioned officers on the ground said this time their troops are “stone cold” about the buzz.

“There’s no emotion,” said Sgt. 1st Class James Flum, platoon sergeant for Company B, 16th Combat Engineer Battalion out of Giessen, Germany. “We’ve been told many things that have not come to pass.

“Also, you got to think, do we really have faith in the 1st Calvary to get things done?” Flum asked.

The task force built around the 1st Battalion, 37 Armor Regiment, known as “The Bandits,” was sent to Karbala to help fight militia of cleric Muqtada al-Sadr. In 21 days of fighting, 1st AD soldiers captured militiamen, cleared out weapon’s caches and drove the rest of the militia out the city.

When troops were satisfied the militia was gone, the Army transitioned from fighting to rebuilding.

Since the militia left the city May 21, the Bandits have fixed up public land and buildings and created a safe environment for local businesses, the soldiers say...

Now, with the handover right around the same corner as some dates of departure, troops said they’re going to have to see it to believe it.

“I won’t believe it until I’m home, for about two months, just sitting down. Then I might think we’re really not coming back,” said Sgt. Ketwon Moore, a track vehicle mechanic with Company B, 16th Engineers.

Some troops said they were even trying to quash family hopes of an early extension return.

“We’re a little skeptical about hearsay. I know it sounds weird, but I’m even trying to keep my wife’s hopes down. Last time, it wasn’t too pretty,” said Sgt. Thomas McKnight, another track vehicle mechanic with Company B, 16th Engineers.


Now it is not for us in 1st Brigade land to get too excited yet...but the first ADVON (Advanced Echelon) elements of the 1AD arrived home over the weekend...not OUR home...but the 2d Brigade in Baumholder. Second Brigade went downrange before us (1st Brigade), so it is right they begin heading home before us as well.

Meanwhile...we cross our fingers...
At precisely 12:30 a.m., a few hours after their C-17 landed at Rhein-Main Air Base, soldiers and officers marched into Baumholder’s flag-bedecked gym, filled with friends, banners, balloons, bouquets and welcome-home signs.

After a brief prayer, an even more-to-the-point welcoming speech by Capt. Jonathan Cornett, the 2nd Brigade rear detachment commander, and the playing of the national anthem and the official Army song, the soldiers were really home.

Being safe in Germany and out of the unrelenting heat and danger of Iraq is “like starting your life again,” said Spc. John Seawell, 21, with Headquarters, Headquarters Company of the 2nd Brigade.

“It’s like breathing again,” added Pfc. Pedro Vasquez, 23, of the same company. “It’s like you’ve been holding your breath and now you can start breathing normally again.”

Day 407 of CPT Patti's deployment to Iraq.

One year, five weeks, six days.