Death Toll Tops 500

CentCom reports:

Three 4th Infantry Division soldiers and two Iraqi Civil Defense Corps members were killed this morning at approximately 7:45 a.m. when their combat patrol was ambushed with an improvised explosive device north of Baghdad

In another incident, a US soldier died from a non-hostile gunshot wound.

These deaths bring the US death toll since March 20th to 502, and the total since the war “ended” to 363. Unfortunately, the Iraqi resistance movement has sure “brought it on”: 297 American soldiers have died since Bush’s infamous invitation for more violence (July 2nd). Major news outlets, in particular the Associated Press, report that today’s deaths bring the US total to 500. CNN reports the total as 501. The discrepancy in the count may stem from two recent incidents. First,a still unnamed US solider died of a heart-attack in Qatar, while on the 5th of January the DoD released the name of a Spc. Luke P. Frist who died in an Army hospital in the US from wounds received in an attack on his fuel truck in Iraq. Finally, — a website that meticulously reports and databases deaths in Iraq — shows the total as 502.

Whatever the total — 500, 501, 502 — too many young American men and women have died to wreak chaos in a distant land, increase the scope of the government’s power and ensure the reelection of a interventionist administration. will continue to track this cost of war until all troops and American influence leave Iraq.

To do your part in spreading the word of this costly war, place a “casualty counter” on your web site.

UPDATE 3 am EST: A car bomb exploded outside the coalition headquarters in Baghdad, reportedly killing 18 Iraqis and 2 American contractors.


That’s the projected price of “defense” for 2004. Why so much higher than the $399 billion Pentagon budget request?

Many of the Pentagon’s new expenses are unplanned, indirect consequences of the continued fighting. The Army, for instance, is shipping home and reconditioning the tanks and combat vehicles that spearheaded last spring’s attack on Baghdad.

That unanticipated cost is $12 billion to $19 billion this year and each year on into the future as forces rotate through the combat zones, Army Gen. Paul Kern, who oversees the effort, said in an interview. … Continue reading “$461,000,000,000”

Serbia destroys air defenses?

Five years ago, NATO bombers that terrorized Serbia kept above 15,000 feet in fear of ground defenses, which had downed many drones, cruise missiles and even a couple of aircraft (including the famous F-117 Stealth).
In two weeks, the Serbian military will destroy the last of its shoulder-launched anti-air missiles, under a program quietly initiated last year and funded by the US government, announced Reuters today. Continue reading “Serbia destroys air defenses?”

Japan Attempts to Gag Its Media over Iraq Troop Deployment

The Japanese Defense Ministry has made clear that criticism of the upcoming deployment could result in a “news blackout.” However, the Japanese news media does not seem to be willing to fall into lockstep with government propaganda and censor themselves as so many of America’s media outlets have sadly done since 9-11.

Ahead of its most sensitive dispatch of troops abroad since World War II, the Japanese government has warned media not to “obstruct” its mission in Iraq or face a news blackout, a stance that has local critics fuming. A letter to the media from the Defence Agency last week was labelled by critics as a reminder of Japan’s wartime censorship, and an affront to the freedoms it pledged to help restore in war-battered Iraq.

“Japan’s militant nationalism has gone, but the methods for controlling the Japanese media have remained,” Teruo Ariyama, a journalism professor at Tokyo Keizai University, told AFP. “The Japan Defence Agency will decide what information is safe or not and no one can inspect what the standard is,” Ariyama said.

Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi told reporters the requests “just means that we want you to report while taking security issues into consideration.” But analysts said the intention was just the opposite. “This is no different than the (wartime propaganda) ‘Announcement from Imperial General Headquarters’,” wrote Rikkyo University mass media professor Takaaki Hattori in the Mainichi Shimbun newspaper. “The brazen, anachronistic attitude of the Defence Agency is nothing short of amazing,” he wrote.

News outlets insisted they would exercise their own judgment as to what to report. Publicly funded network Japan Broadcasting Corp. (NHK) said it would continue to report developments on the ground “as they happen”. “It is the role of news organisations to answer the public’s right to know,” it said in a statement to AFP. “Even if we take into consideration the safety of troops, we cannot accept the Defence Agency’s request as it is.”

First article

UPDATE: An additional article from The Japan Times covers this matter as well as security leaks believed to be coming from the Defense Agency. (Note their banner motto: “All The News Without Fear or Favor.”)

Second article

Is an Anti-US Fatwa in the Works?

That possibility has been brought up by a close aide to the Grand Ayatollah Ali al-Sistani:

KUWAIT, Jan 15 (Reuters) – Iraq’s most revered Shi’ite cleric could issue an edict that would ban Iraqis backing a U.S.-appointed council and spark mass protests if Washington does not hold direct elections, a close aide said on Thursday.

“The imam insists on his opinion that general and comprehensive elections should be conducted in all regions of Iraq so that the Iraqi people will have the final say,” Ayatollah Mohammad Baqer al-Mohri, a Kuwait-based aide to Sistani, told Reuters.

“He (Sistani) also says we don’t accept letting people from outside rule, and by that the imam means the coalition forces.”

…Mohri earlier told Abu Dhabi television Sistani would issue a religious edict if the U.S. administrator in Iraq ignored his opinion. “If Bremer rejects…Ayatollah Sistani’s opinion, he would issue a fatwa depriving the U.S-appointed council of its legitimacy,” he said.

“After this, the Iraqi people will not obey this council, as it will be a caricatural council named by Americans.”

Read complete article

Bill Evers Goes Neocon

It’s funny, but Bill Evers used to be one of those libertarians who went around giving everyone else a purity test, and he often found them wanting. Back in the good old days, he used to write a column for Libertarian Vanguard, the newspaper of the Radical Caucus, called “Brickbats and Bouquets,” in which he handed out kudos and judo chops to those that, in his view, deserved them. The ideologially pure were praised, and the deviationists were denounced in no uncertain terms. How fitting that he – the self-appointed enforcer of libertarian political correctness turned apostate, who makes Judas Iscariot look like Horatio at the bridge — should now be the recipient of one of the biggest brickbats of all time.

Oh, but don’t hold it against him. I, for one, am glad to see that Bill has finally settled down and found himself a decent job. After all, how long can you pretend to be a grad student – at the age of fifty-something?