Friday, March 09, 2007

Iraq Progress is Happening, Like it or Not

Important information to know, but isn't generally known --


March 1, 2007, 2:14 PM EST

Key figures about Iraq since the war began in March 2003:

CASUALTIES:

Confirmed U.S. deaths as of March 1, 2007: 3,159.

U.S. wounded as of March 1, 2007: 23,677.

Iraqi civilian deaths:

Estimated at more than 57,000, with one controversial study contending as many as 655,000. Since the Baghdad security crackdown was formally launched on Feb. 14 [2007], there has been a sharp drop in the number of victims of sectarian death squads. The number of bodies found has dropped by nearly 50 percent -- to 494 last month as of Feb. 26, compared with 954 in January and 1,222 in December. [Indi note: Included in the Iraqi civilian death figures are those who have died of natural causes, 'normal' crimes, and traditional tribal killings. There has been little effort to differentiate between war related deaths and non-war related deaths. The Muslim custom of burying the dead within 24 hours or before sunset and a reluctance to perform autopsies skews the death figures considerably. There is a number of civilian deaths we can all agree upon and that is 'too many'.]

Assassinated Iraqi professors: at least 188. [Indi note: USAToday put the number at 300 in 2004. This higher number may be suspect as many academics were drafted into the Iraqi army and died in the course of battle. Also, some may have been killed in revenge killings because professors typically were Ba'ath party members in order to work or by conviction.

Journalists killed on assignment: 93.
[Indi note from CPJ:

By Nationality:
Iraqi: 75
• European: 11
• Other Arab countries: 3
• United States: 2
• All other countries: 5

By Circumstance:
Murder: 60
• Crossfire or other acts of war: 36

Responsibility:
Insurgent action: 70 (Includes crossfire, suicide bombings, and murders.)
• U.S. fire: 14 (CPJ has not found evidence to conclude that U.S. troops targeted journalists in these cases. While the cases are classified as crossfire, CPJ continues to investigate.)
• Iraqi armed forces, during U.S. invasion: 3 (All are crossfire or acts of war.)
• Iraqi armed forces, post-U.S. invasion: 1 (Crossfire)
• Source unconfirmed: 8

COST:

More than $360 billion. Combined with the conflict in Afghanistan and operations against terrorism elsewhere, the cost has topped at least $500 billion.
[Indi note: Keep in mind this is an AP compilation. The AP often insists there is no relationship between hostilities in Iraq, Afghanistan, and the other anti-terrorist operations around the world - except, of course, the involvement (instigation?) of US troops.]

OIL PRODUCTION:

Prewar: 2.58 million barrels daily.

Feb. 18, 2007: 2.05 million barrels daily.
[Indi note: Not bad considering the bad guys keeps blowing up the pipelines. Also, the past and present oil production figures are largely guesswork because, as ABC News broadcast a few weeks ago, the gauges for measuring oil flow are all broken and have been since the plants were built. Working gauges interfered with governmental theft operations. Much of the US aid money will be used to repair the broken metrics.]

ELECTRICITY:

Prewar nationwide: 3,958 megawatts. Hours per day (estimated): 4 - 8.
[Indi note: This figure is deceptive. Pre-war power was diverted to Baghdad and other key areas and the total pre-war usage figures are now being averaged over the entire country. Prewar Baghdad received electricity 24 /7/365.]

Feb. 21, 2007, nationwide: 3,640 megawatts. Hours a day: 9.3. [Indi note: This number really does represent the power available over the entire country much of which got no electricity under Saddam.]

Prewar Baghdad: 2,500 megawatts. Hours per day (estimated): 16-24. [Indi note: The electricity usage in pre-war Baghdad was artificially inflated because Saddam Hussein had electricity from other parts of Iraq diverted to Baghdad. Many parts of Iraq received zero m.w. of electrify pre-war and some place were not even wired for electricity. Post Saddam, towns which once had no electrical access now do have electricity though for only a few hours a day. Still it's better than what they had - nothing.]

Feb. 21, 2007, Baghdad: megawatts not available. Hours a day: 5.3. [Indi note: Iraq is still plagued by sabotage to the antiquated energy infrastructure. As the world prices of metal increases, the value of copper wiring is more attractive to thieves who are rolling up thousands of meters of electrical wiring to sell on the black market to be shipped to recycling plants in Europe.]

TELEPHONE:

Prewar land lines: 833,000.

Jan. 2, 2007: 1,046,027.
[Indi note: That's 213, 027 land line user after the fall of Saddam.]

Prewar cell phones: 80,000. [Indi note: Deceptive figure requiring explanation. Cell phones were prohibitively expensive to the average Iraqi and tightly controlled by the government. Primarily only government officials and military officers had cell phones. After the fall of Saddam, private citizen still had no access to cell technology because what little cellular infrastructure there was had been destroyed. The land line infrastructure had also been destroyed - the really big explosion we all remember from the first night bombing was the telephone company building. As the numbers show, the growth of cell phone usage outstrips the replacement of land line phones. Iraq skipped the old fashioned phones and went straight to cell phones.]

Jan. 2, 2007: 8,712,027. [Indi note: That's 8,632,027 more cellphone users after the fall of Saddam.]

WATER:

Prewar: 12.9 million people had potable water.
[Indi note: Compare this number to the number of prewar Iraqis with sewer service. Then ask yourself what kind of water the other half of the population was drinking.]

Dec. 31, 2006: 15.1 million people have potable water. [Indi note: Now compare this number with the current Sewerage; nearly an equal number of Iraqis with both clean drinking water and sewer service.]

SEWERAGE:

Prewar: 6.2 million people served.
[Indi note: Iraq Population - 24,001,816 estimate in July 2002, 25% of population with sewer service.]

Dec. 31, 2006: 10.7 million people served. [Indi note: Iraq Population - 26,783,383 estimate in July 2006, 40% of population with sewer service.]

INTERNAL REFUGEES:

Feb. 28, 2007: Approximately 2 million people. An estimated 712,000 have been internally displaced in the past year, most since the mosque bombing in Samarra on Feb. 22, 2006.
[Indi note: Internally displaced includes the thousands of Sunnis who lived in Shia neighborhoods who traded homes with Shias living in Sunni neighborhoods. The local sect impressed upon their opposite sect neighbors to get out or die. A natural process of house swapping took place. It isn't like all of these people are living in U.N. provided tents in the desert. They are housed, but not in their prewar homes. It's a bad thing, but better than being killed.]

EMIGRANTS:

Prewar: 500,000 Iraqis lived abroad.
[Indi note: Obviously, the majority of these Iraqis would be the dissidents who would have been killed by the Ba'athist regime of Saddam Hussein had they remained or returned to Iraq. Living abroad was not their first choice.]

Feb. 28, 2007: Approximately 2 million live abroad. [Indi note: Another deceptive figure. It's not like 2 million people have picked up and moved to completely different parts of the planet. Many of the 2 million have gone to Jordan, Syria, Turkey, Egypt, and some have gone to Iran. Others have left their home cities to live with relatives in other Iraqi cities. It's unfortunate, but internal migrations are not unusual in war especially in civil wars between parties who are sworn by their god to kill the 'other'.]

___

Sources: The Associated Press, U.S. State Department, U.S. Defense Department, U.S. Department of Energy, Special Inspector General for Iraq Reconstruction, The Brookings Institution, Iraq Body Count, The Lancet, Iraqi ministries of health and education, U.N. Assistance Mission for Iraq, U.N. High Commission for Refugees, Committee to Protect Journalists, Economist Intelligence Unit, National Priorities Project, International Telecommunication Union.

___

AP researcher Julie Reed in New York contributed to this report.
Copyright 2007 Newsday Inc.



Sources for my own notes:
Stuff I already know. If you don't trust my knowledge, go look it up yourself.


The life of Indigo Red is full of adventure. Tune in next time for the Further Adventures of Indigo Red.

Wednesday, March 07, 2007

Captain America Assassinated!


Captain America was killed today, shot by an assassin while descending the steps of a courthouse where he was being tried for treason. Captain America? Treason?

It would be easy to dismiss this news as just an odd side story of the day, but it isn't. Superhero comic books are modern allegories and Captain America has been a prominent star since 1941 when he took on Hitler and the Third Reich.

The current story began in 2006 when Marvel Comics chose a story line called "Civil War". Joe Quesada, the Marvel Comics editor-in-chief, summarized the plot line to George Gene Gustines of the NY Times:



"Civil War" provides problems in spades. The story opens with a reckless fight between a novice group of heroes (filming a reality television show) and a cadre of villains. The battle becomes quite literally explosive, killing some of the superheroes and many innocent bystanders. That crystallizes a government movement to register all super-powered beings as living weapons of mass destruction. The subsequent Registration Act will divide the heroes into two camps, one led by Captain America, the other by Iron Man. Along the way, Marvel will unveil its version of Guantánamo Bay, enemy combatants, embedded reporters and more. The question at the heart of the series is a fundamental one: "Would you give up your civil liberties to feel safer in the world?"
"Civil War" was not written by Americans. Rather it was written by a Scotsman, Mark Millar, living in Glasgow. Millar said there would be a "seismic shift" in the Marvel heroes. "Before the civil war, the Marvel universe was a certain way. After the civil war, the heroes are employed by the government...Some people refuse to do it and those guys are performing an illegal act by doing so."

Millar explained that Civil War works on two levels. "At the core, it's one half of the Marvel heroes vs. the other half...The political allegory is only for those that are politically aware. Kids are going to read it and just see a big superhero fight."

And this is where we should really pay attention to what the kids will remember about the superhero civil war and what they will see in real life. We all learn to interpret the world around us through our experiences and the stories to which we are exposed. Superhero comic books are super powerful moral vehicles reaching vast numbers of children. This is serious stuff to kids trying to make sense of the world they are entering. It's also serious stuff to the adults who write the stories.

Synopsis for "Civil War":



The New Warriors battle a group of villains in Stamford, Connecticut while filming a reality television show. One of the villains, Nitro, explodes, killing more than 600 people, including school children and all of the New Warriors except Speedball. Public opinion against superhumans turns, giving momentum to the Superhuman Registration Act [Patriot Act]. Angry civilians attack Johnny Storm, the Human Torch.

After Captain America refuses to join a S.H.I.E.L.D. strikeforce created to fight all superhumans in violation of the act, he becomes a fugitive and forms an underground resistance called the "Secret Avengers". This team includes Hercules, Falcon, and Danny Rand, (who is acting as Daredevil). Luke Cage and the Young Avengers also join. Tony Stark (Iron Man), who supports the act [though not originally; he later supports the act and is appointed by the President as Secretary of Defense], organizes registered superhumans and makes plans to support the act with Reed Richards and Hank Pym. Spider-Man unmasks himself at a press conference at Stark's behest as a show of support for the act [even Iron man unmasks himself while saving a puppy from being run over]. The X-Men declare their official neutrality in the conflict.

A large battle between the two sides culminates in the appearance of a cyborg clone of Thor, who kills the Secret Avenger Bill Foster. Sue Richards, a member of Stark's team, defends the Secret Avengers from the Thor clone's lightning blast, giving them a chance to escape. In the fight's aftermath, several Secret Avengers leave to join Stark. Meanwhile, Johnny Storm and Sue Richards join Captain America. Stark, Richards, and Pym draft the Thunderbolts to their cause.

After contemplating the brutal death of Bill Foster and touring the Pro-Registration prison facilities
[Guantanamo Bay] in the Negative Zone, Spider-Man decides that he has made a mistake, and after a battle with Stark and the Thunderbolts, he escapes [with his family] and joins the Secret Avengers.

The Secret Avengers break into the Negative Zone prison, where Hulkling, who has been disguised as Hank Pym, releases the imprisoned heroes from their cells to join the fight. Cloak teleports the combatants to New York City, where Namor and an army of Atlanteans arrive to fight alongside the Secret Avengers, whereas the Champions, the Thor clone, and Captain Marvel reinforce Stark's team. As Captain America is about to deliver a final blow to Stark, police, EMTs, and firefighters try to hold him back. Realizing how much damage the fight has cost the very people he wishes to protect, Captain America orders his team to stand down, and he surrenders.

In the aftermath of the event, the President of the United States grants general amnesty to all those who opposed the Superhuman Registration Act (except Captain America who is sent to jail); Tony Stark is appointed as the new director of S.H.I.E.L.D., demoting Maria Hill to deputy status; the 50-State Initiative, which puts a superhero team in every state, launches; and the Mighty Avengers assemble as a new team. Some heroes choose to move to Canada (resulting in the creation of the second Omega Flight), and some stay underground, including the New Avengers.

In the latest issue of "Captain America", the NY Times' Gustines relates how the title hero is shot in the shoulder and stomach as he stands on the courthouse steps. The alleged assassin is Sharon Carter, an intelligence agent who has had a romantic relationship with Captain America/ Steve Rogers. Apparently, Ms. Carter was under Manchurian Candidate-like control of Dr. Faustus, a supervillain, who is undisguisedly based on the Christopher Marlowe character, Dr. Faust, who sold his soul to the devil in exchange for knowledge and power.

Even in this brief, it should be obvious the "Civil War" President is an adaptation of George Bush, with Iron Man in the role of Donald Rumsfeld. The liberty restricting acts and the island located prisons are also obvious to the news savvy adult world. These parallels may not be so obvious to the younger reader who will probably remember the story line later when political consciousness begins. And who do you think Captain America will represent to these future voters? How will they envision one political ideology over the other? Captain America chose to take his fight to the courts and talk to his opponents rather than fight in the streets while his opponents chose to murder him on the doorsteps of justice. Is it now hard to see why Captain America is being tried for treason and who brought the charges? This is American History Propaganda 101, and it is no longer the winner who writes the history. These comic books are even now collectors items to be protected and lovingly cared for. These comic books are the history books of tomorrow - today.



Captain America differs from many other superheroes in that Captain America is an ideal, an idea, a mantle rather than an individual. Cap's shoes can be filled by any full blooded patriot of the American cause. In this sense, Captain America was not killed today. Captain America can never be killed; Captain America can never die.

Unless we dismiss these allegories as only silly comic books.












Addendum: In 2003, Michael Medved wrote Captain America, Traitor? for National Review Online. It's amazing this has been going on for so long and so few noticed. But iit really is just a silly comic book story, isn't it?


The life of Indigo Red is full of adventure. Tune in next time for the Further Adventures of Indigo Red.

Monday, March 05, 2007

Osama Trail Goes Hot

Osama bin Laden is being hunted with renewed vigor. Brian Ross of ABC News is reporting that the CIA has fresh leads as to the whereabouts of Osama bin Laden. Pakistan has not admitted that American forces openly or covertly pass in and out of Pakistan on a regular basis. As reported in these pages in September 2006, Follow Bin Ladin and Detstroy Him, American forces have never stopped it's dogged pursuit of this (un)wanted individual. America claims the right of 'hot pursuit' and has on several occasions entered Pakistani territory. Occassionally, these raids make the news when purported civilians are killed.

Ross reports:


Armed with fresh intelligence, the CIA is moving additional man power and equipment into Pakistan in the effort to find Osama bin Laden and his deputy Ayman al Zawahri, U.S. officials tell ABC News.

"Reports that the trail has gone stone cold are not correct," said one U.S. official. "We are very much increasing our efforts there," the official said.

People familiar with the CIA operation say undercover officers with paramilitary training have been ordered into Pakistan and the area across the border with Afghanistan as part of the ramp-up.

Although never publicly acknowledged, Pakistan has permitted CIA teams to secretly operate inside Pakistan.

Pakistan officials say they are aware that CIA teams have increased their presence in northern Waziristan since last September when Pakistan withdrew its troops from the area under a much-criticized "peace deal" with tribal leaders.

Director of National Intelligence Mike McConnell testified last week that current intelligence "to the best of our knowledge" puts both bin Laden and al Zawahri in Pakistan. It was the first time a high-ranking U.S. official publicly identified Pakistan as bin Laden's hiding place.

Past intelligence has indicated that bin Laden often changed locations in March, traveling to hiding places in the mountains once the snow cover begins to melt.

Bin Laden is a tall man standing well over six feet. He walks with a limp and is aided by a cane or walking stick. He incurred an injury in the war aginst the Soviet Union in Afghanistan in the 1980's. Reported he likes Whitney Houston and once offered to purchase her. According to his former driver, OBL is also very fond of macaroni and cheese.

If you see this man, approah with caution and kill him. The FBI is offering a multi-millian dollar reward to which I, Indigo Red, will add $50.00 of my own hard earned money for the capture and conviction or death of Osama bin Laden.


The life of Indigo Red is full of adventure. Tune in next time for the Further Adventures of Indigo Red.

Dr. Allegre Non Troppo

Fifteen years ago, Dr. Claude Allegre warned of global warming and the dire consequences of man's continued use of carbon dioxide producing fuels. Allegre today is taking a giant step back from his original assessments and is now saying the climate models are wrong, or at least misleading.

Yesteryear:

"By burning fossil fuels, man increased the concentration of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere which, for example, has raised the global mean temperature by half a degree in the last century," Dr. Allegre, a renowned geochemist, wrote 20 years ago in Cles pour la geologie.." Fifteen years ago, Dr. Allegre was among the 1500 prominent scientists who signed "World Scientists' Warning to Humanity," a highly publicized letter stressing that global warming's "potential risks are very great" and demanding a new caring ethic that recognizes the globe's fragility in order to stave off "spirals of environmental decline, poverty, and unrest, leading to social, economic and environmental collapse."
Snip to today:


Calling the arguments of those who see catastrophe in climate change "simplistic and obscuring the true dangers," Dr. Allegre especially despairs at "the greenhouse-gas fanatics whose proclamations consist in denouncing man's role on the climate without doing anything about it except organizing conferences and preparing protocols that become dead letters." The world would be better off, Dr. Allegre believes, if these "denouncers" became less political and more practical, by proposing practical solutions to head off the dangers they see, such as developing technologies to sequester C02. His dream, he says, is to see "ecology become the engine of economic development and not an artificial obstacle that creates fear."


In a new documentary, 'The Great Global Warming Swindle' , airing this Thursday on Great Britain's Channel 4, many respected scientists counter the "propaganda" that they claim is killing the world's poor. Patrick Moore, co-founder of Greenpeace, is heard saying that "African countries should be encouraged to burn more CO2". An argument can be made that restricting CO2 emissions are actually harming the developing world, that "efforts to reduce CO2 are killing Africans, who have to burn fires inside their home, causing cancer and lung damage, because their Governments are being encouraged to use wind and solar panels that are not capable of supplying the continent with electricity, instead of coal and oil-burning power stations that could." According to the director of the Inter Region Economic Network in Kenya, James Shikwati,


The rich countries can afford to engage in some luxurious experimentation with other forms of energy, but for us we are still at the stage of survival.

I don't see how a solar panel is going to power a steel industry, how a solar panel is going to power a railway network, it might work, maybe, to power a small transistor radio.

The thing that emerges from the whole environmental debate is the point that there is somebody keen to kill the African dream, and the African dream is to develop. We are being told don't touch your resources, don't touch your oil, don't touch your coal; that is suicide.
While Al Gore trades carbon offsets with himself (Riehl World View) to mitigate the huge carbon footprint of his lavish lifestyle and gets richer in the process, many scientists, especially European scientists whose work is primarily governmentally funded, are themselves getting billions of dollars of research money from their sponsors. "The few millions of dollars of research money from multinationals can't compare to government funding, so you find the American scientific establishment is all for man-made global warming." Researchers of any country are not going to challenge the governmental goose that lays the golden eggs, especially for something like global climate change about which they, nor anyone else, can do nothing.


Professor Paul Reiter, who calls the recent U.N. Climate Change Report "a sham", says the report included the names of 2,500 leading scientists who disagreed with the conclusions. These scientists quit the U.N. Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change requiring the report be finished by political bureaucrats and government appointees lacking the necessary expertise to judge if the actions of mankind have any effect on climate change at all.

Mark Twain said, "Everyone talks about the weather, but no one does anything about it." He was right a hundred years ago and nothing has changed. In the past century, the NYTimes has headlined global warming four times beginning in 1895; that's about once every 25 years. In alternating quarter centuries, global cooling has been mongered to the ignorant masses of citizens. Those masses will be harder to fool in the century to come because no one can do anything about the weather or the climate, it just happens and we know it. The scientists and politicians may take longer to convince.



The life of Indigo Red is full of adventure. Tune in next time for the Further Adventures of Indigo Red.