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The Hill

This week's episode of the The Hill was really interesting...watching Wexler and his staff trying to decide whether or not to vote for the Republican-introduced bill to withdraw immediately from Iraq (which they introduced after Murtha called for withdrawal to basically force Democrats to vote to stay in Iraq) and what a game the whole process was.

Five Years Later

From an article of the same title in The Week, September 15, 2006:

...let's not overreact to the threat, said James Fallows in The Atlantic Monthly. Despite ominous talk of mushroom clouds in U.S. cities, it's highly unlikely that terrorists could build or buy a nuke and smuggle it into the country. That leaves terrorists with one means of inflicting major damage on the superpower: Baiting us into foolishly damaging our own interests. The Bush administration has fallen into this trap, by invading Iraq, killing Muslim civilians, and playing into al Qaida's narrative. Portraying the war as an epic clash of civilizations only feeds the terrorists' false grandiosity - and drives Muslim moderates into the extremists' hands. Terrorists may yet again strike on U.S. soil, but the reality is that we've essentially won the war. The sooner we recognize this, the sooner our policies will be motivated by strategic self-interest, instead of by terror.

Fee for burial - only 175,000 dinar

Via the MoJo Blog, from a recent article in the LA Times by Louise Roug titled "Targeted Killings Surge in Baghdad":

More Iraqi civilians were killed in Baghdad during the first three months of this year than at any time since the toppling of Saddam Hussein's regime - at least 3,800, many of them found hogtied and shot execution-style. Others were strangled, electrocuted, stabbed, garroted or hanged. Some died in bombings. Many bore signs of torture such as bruises, drill holes, burn marks, gouged eyes or severed limbs. Every day, about 40 bodies arrive at the central Baghdad morgue, an official said. The numbers demonstrate a shift in the nature of the violence, which increasingly has targeted both sides of the country's SunniShiite sectarian divide... In the Sunni cemeteries serving Baghdad, a city of 5 million people, demand for tombs is so high that people are buried between old graves or at the edges of the burial grounds. Near the gate of one Sunni cemetery tucked inside the Ghazaliya neighborhood, a sign proclaims, "Fee for burial - only 175,000 dinar," or about $120.

So that's how things are going in Iraq...

Can You a Fathom a Trillion?

From an article by Martin Wolk on MSNBC:

...most estimates [of the cost of the Iraq war] put forward by White House officials in 2002 and 2003 were relatively low compared with the nation's gross domestic product, the size of the federal budget or the cost of past wars. White House economic adviser Lawrence Lindsey was the exception to the rule, offering an "upper bound" estimate of $100 billion to $200 billion in a September 2002 interview with The Wall Street Journal. That figure raised eyebrows at the time, although Lindsey argued the cost was small, adding, "The successful prosecution of the war would be good for the economy." U.S. direct spending on the war in Iraq already has surpassed the upper bound of Lindsey's upper bound, and most economists attribute billions more in indirect costs to the war effort. Even if the U.S. exits Iraq within another three years, total direct and indirect costs to U.S. taxpayers will likely by more than $400 billion, and one estimate puts the total economic impact at up to $2 trillion.

Headscarves Not Optional

From a post by Diane E. Dees on MoJo Blog:

According to the Women's Rights Association, a Baghdad NGO, since 2003, the number of women in Iraq attacked because they were not wearing headscarves has more than tripled. Between 1999 and March of 2003, there were 22 attacks and one death; since then, there have been 80 attacks and 4 deaths, with no figures are available yet for 2006. The decision to not wear a headscarf is concentrated in the area around Baghdad because that is where Iraq's modern society has grown. According to a WRA spokeswoman, there are now significantly fewer women and girls around Baghdad wearing headscarves, but many have been threatened by relatives or have been imprisoned inside their homes. A year ago, insurgents took an Iraqi woman in Western dress out of a local pharmacy and executed her. She was found with two bullet holes in her head, and she had been covered with a traditional abaya veil with a message pinned to it that said "She was a collaborator against Islam." She was not the first woman to have a "collaborator" label pinned to her clothing. Human Rights Watch points out that--though the new Iraqi constitution permits women the right to transfer citizenship to their children, it fails to give women equal rights within the family. HRW also confirms that Iraqi women are being attacked for dancing, socializing with men, and not wearing headscarves.


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