MidEast Dispatches: A Little Easier to Occupy from the Air

July 31, 2007

Inter Press Service
By Ali al-Fadhily*

BAGHDAD, Jul 31 (IPS) – Many Iraqis believe the dramatic escalation in U.S. military use of air power is a sign of defeat for the occupation forces on the ground.


U.S. Air Force and Navy aircraft dropped five times as many bombs in Iraq during the first six months of this year as over the first half of 2006, according to official information.

They dropped 437 bombs and missiles in Iraq in the first half of 2007, compared to 86 in the first half of 2006. This is also three times more than in the second half of 2006, according to Air Force data.

The Air Force has also been expanding its air bases in Iraq and adding entire squadrons. It is now preparing to use a new robotic fighter known as the Reaper. The Reaper is a hunter-killer drone that can be operated by remote control from thousands of miles away.

“We find it strange that the big strategists of the U.S. military have actually failed in finding solutions on the ground and are now back to air raids that kill more civilians than militants,” former Iraqi army brigadier-general Ahmed Issa told IPS.

“On the other hand, they are giving away the land to local forces that they know are incapable of facing the militants, who will grab the first chance of U.S. withdrawal to bases to hit back and hold the ground again.”

“Going back to air raids is an alarming sign of defeat,” Salim Rahman, an Iraqi political analyst from Baghdad told IPS. “To bombard an area only means that it is in the hands of the enemy.”

“Our area is under threat of air raids all the time,” Mahmmod Taha from the Arab Jboor area southwest of Baghdad told IPS. “Each time they bombed our area, civilians were killed by the dozens, and civilians’ houses were destroyed. They could not fight the resistance face to face, and so they take revenge from the air.”

May 2007 was the most violent month for U.S. forces in Iraq in nearly three years, according to the U.S. Department of Defence.

There were 6,039 attacks on U.S. and Iraqi government forces, 1,348 roadside bombs detonated under their vehicles, 286 “complex ambushes” involving roadside bombs and coordinated teams of attackers were carried out, 102 car bombs exploded, 126 U.S. soldiers were killed and 652 were wounded.

The U.S. forces have been hitting back at predominantly Sunni areas such as those around Fallujah. But the forces have also targeted Shia pilgrims around Najaf in the south.

“Air raids are back even in Shia areas like Sadr City in Baghdad and many southern cities like Diwaniya, Samawa, and Kut where the al-Mehdi militia (of cleric Muqtada al-Sadr) controls the ground,” Abbas Abdul-Mehdi from Diwaniya told IPS while on a visit to Baghdad. “Their bombs fall on our heads, while the militiamen know how to hide and escape.”

The U.S. forces are looking to do more of all this. “There are times when the Army wishes we had more jets,” F-16 pilot Lt. Col. Steve Williams, commander of the 13th Expeditionary Fighter Squadron told reporters.

“What the U.S. forces are doing now is increasing their air force potential in a last attempt to crush the fighters with the minimum casualties possible,” retired Iraqi Army colonel Mustafa Abbood from Baghdad told IPS. “It is a desperate attempt to make Iraqis turn against their fellow-fighters. It failed in Fallujah, and I do not see how it will work elsewhere.”

Iraqis around Baghdad say they have noticed more air traffic in recent months. “There is a notable increase in the number of airplanes flying in the Iraqi skies,” Amjad Fadhil, a farmer from Latifiya, south of Baghdad, told IPS. “F-16s and helicopters are roaring like monsters everywhere.” There are more than 100 U.S. aircraft crisscrossing Iraqi air space at any one time.

Air Force engineers are working long hours to upgrade Balad air base, just north of Baghdad, which already supports 10,000 air operations per week. One of the two 11,000-foot runways has been reinforced to withstand five to seven years more of hard use.

Ten-year-old Salli Hussein lost both her legs when her home was bombed by a U.S. jet fighter near the Abu Ghraib area of Baghdad in November 2006. Her 11-year-old brother, Akram, and cousin Tabarak were torn to pieces in that missile attack.

“I want to have legs again so that I can play with my friends and make Mama happy,” she told this IPS correspondent.

(*Ali, our correspondent in Baghdad, works in close collaboration with Dahr Jamail, our U.S.-based specialist writer on Iraq who travels extensively in the region)

Think Dahr’s work is vital? We need your help. It’s easy! http://dahrjamailiraq.com/donate/ ***(c)2007 Dahr Jamail.
All images, photos, photography and text are protected by United States and international copyright law. If you would like to reprint Dahr’s Dispatches on the web, you need to include this copyright notice and a prominent link to the http://DahrJamailIraq.com website. Website by photographer Jeff Pflueger’s Photography Media http://jeffpflueger.com. Any other use of images, photography, photos and text including, but not limited to, reproduction, use on another website, copying and printing requires the permission of Dahr Jamail. Of course, feel free to forward Dahr’s dispatches via email.

More writing, commentary, photography, pictures and images at http://dahrjamailiraq.com


Doctoring the Evidence: GlaxoSmithKline Pushes Depression Drug

July 31, 2007


Holding Corporations Accountable

<< http://www.corpwatch.org >>

Doctoring the Evidence: GlaxoSmithKline Pushes Depression Drug

by Shelley Jofre, Special to CorpWatch

July 30, 2007

GlaxoSmithKline provides research funding to doctors who write favorable opinions of depression drugs for children, despite evidence from clinical trials that the medication can cause anger and even suicide.




CONGO: Edmonds group in spin after miner is run out



ITALY: Devil’s Advocate


NIGERIA: Tycoon exits Nigerian oil deals



EUROPE: A Genetically Modified Potato, Not for Eating, Is Stirring Some

Opposition in Europe



SOUTH AFRICA: S African miners vote to strike



CHINA: Thomas & Friends Toy Maker Discusses Lead Paint Problem



US: Savings and Issues in Candidates Use of Private Jets



US: FDA Panel to Review Avandia


US: 3 Executives Spared Prison in OxyContin Case


NIGERIA: Nigeria Adds Fraud Charge Against Pfizer in Civil Lawsuit



US: Tax Break Used by Drug Makers Failed to Add Jobs


US: SEC Suspends Online Listing Of Companies Tied to Terrorism



BRITAIN: Companies ‘looting’ a continent



IRAQ: Bechtel Meets Goals on Fewer Than Half of Its Iraq Rebuilding Projects, U.S. Study Finds


US: Sale of KBR Bolsters Profit at Halliburton


US: Former KBR employee pleads guilty in Kuwaiti kickback case



CorpWatch stories on Iraq & New Mexico get mainstream coverage


Digging for Dirt in the DRC?


Web Sanctions Tool Backfires on SEC



Support Corpwatch’s work to hold corporations accountable on human rights, labor rights and environmental justice issues through investigative journalism, education and activism.

Help us bring the critical information and resources that tens of thousands of you access every month by making a contribution to CorpWatch.


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Also check out http://www.warprofiteers.com

Shine the spotlight on Exxon!

July 31, 2007

This update comes from the Exxpose Exxon campaing. To learn more and keep updated, please sign up for SaveOurEnvironment.org.

While we pay high gas prices at the pump, ExxonMobil just announced yet another quarter of staggering profits of $10.26 billion.

Will you help us seize this opportunity to spread the word that ExxonMobil is still using its massive profits to fund global warming denial groups?

Click here to write a letter to the editor of your local paper in time for ExxonMobil’s July 26th quarterly profits announcement.

In response to our efforts, ExxonMobil cut nearly 40% of its annual budget to global warming denier groups last year. Exxon has told reporters that it’s no longer funding these groups when in reality 60% of their funding is still in place!

Widespread publicity has pushed ExxonMobil to say that it is currently evaluating its continued funding of global warming denier groups. Sending a letter to the editor today could make a big difference. More publicity on this underhanded tactic to block action on global warming will help Exxon make its decision!

That’s why we need YOUR help to shine a spotlight on ExxonMobil’s continued funding of global warming denier groups. Make a big difference today by sending a letter to the editor now.

ExxonMobil is the only oil giant directly funding groups who mislead the public and policy makers about the threat of global warming. The groups are now suffering a financial set-back, and that’s good news for those of us who care about global warming and renewable energy!

It’s been two years since the launch of the Exxpose Exxon campaign and thanks to you we have accomplished a great deal. Click here to see a list of all our actions and achievements so far which have helped educate Congress, influence the press and ultimately push ExxonMobil to rethink its policies.
Shawnee Hoover
Campaign Director, Exxpose Exxon

Support Our WorkClick here now to make a secure online donation to support the ExxposeExxon.com campaign and our other efforts to protect our water, air, endangered species and wild places.

EVENTS: Stop Bush, Harper & the SPP

July 31, 2007

GEORGE BUSH IS COMING to Montebello, Quebec
with STEPHEN HARPER and Mexican President


Building an opposition to the Security and Prosperity Partnership (SPP) of North America


Linda McQuaig

Author, Holding the Bully’s Coat: Canada and the US Empire

Paloma Villegas

Organizer, No One Is Illegal – Toronto

Rogelio Fuentes

Mexican activist and member, Ontario Coalition Against Poverty

Hassan Yussuff

Secretary-Treasurer, Canadian Labour Congress

Wednesday, August 1
Steelworkers’ Hall
25 Cecil Street
(south of College, east of Spadina)

By donation!

Toronto Stop the SPP Committee: a coalition of groups and individuals working together to raise awareness and to oppose the SPP summit in August 2007.

For more information, please e-mail: torontostopthespp@riseup.net.

The public forum is a space in which Toronto residents can learn more about the Security and Prosperity Partnership (SPP) and its implications. The event is part of the mobilization against the SPP leading up to the tri-state summit in Montebello, Quebec on August 20-21.
August 19 and 20, 2007
Ottawa, Montebello, and locally

Get on the bus!

Option 1: Same-day trip
Toronto – Ottawa – Toronto (August 19)
– OR –
Option 2: Three-day trip
Toronto – Ottawa – Montebello – Ottawa – Toronto (August 19 to 21)

Cost: $60-$90 sliding scale (with donations, we hope to offer subsidies soon)

To book a ticket, please e-mail your name, phone number and e-mail address to

Please also indicate which option you prefer: same-day trip (#1) or three-day trip (#2).


Overview of the SPP

Toronto Coalition to Stop the War

Council of Canadians

No One Is Illegal – Vancouver

Toronto Coalition to Stop the War

TCSW is Toronto’s city-wide anti-war coalition,
comprised of more than fifty labour, faith and community organisations,
and a member of the Canadian Peace Alliance.
http://www.nowar.ca  stopthewar@sympatico.ca  416-795-5863

peace is possible

Tomgram: Chip Ward, How Efficiency Maximizes Catastrophe

July 31, 2007

It’s true that no single incident or development — no matter how out of the ordinary or startling — can straightforwardly be attributed to climate change. Nonetheless, it seems strange that the massive flooding in England, of a sort last seen more than 60 years ago, led the TV news and made front pages here with hardly a mention of global warming. You certainly won’t see a headline like this one from the British Telegraph: “Floods show global warming is here.”

And yet this has been “the wettest May to July period for England and Wales since records began in 1766.” The recent “Great Flood of July” in southern England followed a somewhat similar June event in the north. As parts of the country are still submerged in the wake of torrential, tropical-style deluges (a month’s worth of rain fell in a few hours), while record extremes of heat “roast” central and southern Europe, the subject of climate change is certainly on European minds — and a group of scientists are evidently going releasing a study in the journal Nature this week that claims “more intense rainstorms across parts of the northern hemisphere are being generated by man-made global warming.”

No American media figure, for instance, has wondered publicly whether, someday, England could become, in Gore-like “inconvenient truth” terms, the partially sunken Florida of Europe (along undoubtedly with Holland and other low-lying areas of the continent). It’s no less true that a season of startlingly widespread and fierce wildfires, based on long-term drought in the West, Southwest, and Southeast has been a news leader for months — the TV news just adores the imagery of storms and fires — again, most of the time, with little linkage to larger possible changes underway. We are, it seems, a resistant species when it comes to thinking about the need to truly reorganize ourselves on this fragile, but resilient, planet of ours.

And yet, even when no good TV images are produced and the changes are far more subtle, climate chaos is already pushing stressed ecosystems in new and unpredictable directions. It seems indisputable that, if we are going to weather (literally) the punches Mother Nature throws our way, we will need to do more than improve evacuation routes when storms hit or put more firefighters on the line when parched lands ignite. We will also have to reconsider how we deal with the natural world — at present, largely as a collection of commodities to be endlessly manipulated for profit and convenience or as a set of touring destinations.

So think of Chip Ward’s essay that follows as a challenge to just such thinking. It might as easily have been entitled, “Why the Organizing Principle of Industrial Civilization Is Just a Big Misunderstanding.” Taking up a recent, startling development in the commercial world of nature — the collapse of bee colonies across the U.S. — it explores ways in which our cult-like devotion to the notion of making all things efficient has become dysfunctional, even dangerous.

Ward, whose most recent Tomdispatch essay on the homeless world of the public library created a modest sensation — he was then just retiring as a library administrator — is well-known in his area as a grassroots activist working on toxic and radioactive waste issues. His early writing, especially his book Canaries on the Rim: Living Downwind in the West, focused on how to make polluters accountable. Recently, he moved to the remote wilds of southern Utah where he has had to cope with some of nature’s inevitable disturbances — wildfires and flashfloods — that have made him think about how recovery from such disturbance happens and how we might help recovery along (and so help ourselves as well). Tom

Diesel-Driven Bee Slums and Impotent Turkeys

The Case for Resilience
By Chip Ward

Click here to read more of this dispatch.

MoJo: The Iraqization Of Afghanistan … Carne Ross: Our Diplomatic Deficit

July 30, 2007

Here are a few items of interest on Mother Jones. Be sure to view the shocking photo essay on the women of Afghanistan:

Volume 1, Issue 59 | July 30, 2007

Top Stories

The Iraqization Of Afghanistan
By Peter Bergen

Last year suicide bombings quintupled, attacks on international forces tripled, and support for the Taliban grew. Herein, the top ten avoidable mistakes made by the Bush administration.

Carne Ross: Our Diplomatic Deficit
By Bruce Falconer

Former British diplomat Carne Ross saw firsthand the making of international policy during the run-up to the Iraq war. His conclusion? Diplomacy is broken

Big Brother Cheney?

Gonzales refused to tell Senators who ordered him to get John Ashcroft to sign off on a domestic spying program.
From the MoJo Blog

Beijing To Build Windmills For 2008 Olympics
The 33 windmills, at $76 million, will produce an estimated 100 million kilowatts of electricity a year.
From the Blue Marble

The Hidden Half: A Photo Essay on Women in Afghanistan
Six years after Bush claimed victory over the Taliban, are women any better off? Lana Šlezić and Elizabeth Gettelman, Mother Jones

Rolling Back the Tide of Extremism, One Post at a Time: Taliban Add Anti-Aircraft Missiles to the Mix

July 30, 2007

Here is a disturbing post on the blog Rolling Back the Tide of Extremism, One Post at a Time, about how the Taliban are now also using anti-aircraft missiles against the US-led NATO forces in Afghanistan:

The Taliban are said to have deployed heat-seeking anti-aircraft missiles in Afghanistan. The Telegraph reports that an American C-130 Hercules transport was brought under attack on July 22.

Read more: Rolling Back the Tide of Extremism, One Post at a Time: Taliban Add Anti-Aircraft Missiles to the Mix