I had a friend from high school die in Iraq last Sunday. I don’t really know what to say about it. She was an explosive ordnance disposal specialist who was wounded and subsequently died while attempting to disarm an improvised explosive device (IED) during the morning of Dec. 14. The device, discovered by a patrol unit, was hung on a telephone pole near the road. Kim approached the IED to disarm it and it exploded. The blast nearly tore off her left leg and filled her body with shrapnel. Only the quick action of a fellow soldier, who applied a tourniquet to her injured leg, kept her from dying on the spot.
Her husband Staff Sgt. Max Voelz, who was stationed nearby, received word of the incident as Kim was being taken to the hospital. He rushed to her side at the military hospital at the Baghdad airport, where she died a few hours later.
Rest in peace, Kim. I know heaven’s already got you.
I went to the Washington Apple Pi Garage Sale today with about forty dollars. Good Lord, did I walk away with a lot of stuff.
By far, my most amazing purchase of the day was Timm for $25. Timm’s an integrated TV/20″ VGA monitor and video monitor. When it first sold in 1997, it went for about $900. For $25, I wasn’t even sure if it worked. I got it home though, and hooked it up. Not only does it work fabulously as a TV, but it’s got fabulous stereo sound.
Other things I aquired include:
1. A Linksys 4-port Cable/DSL router – traded the seller a Lucent WaveLAN Silver card for his Wallstreet. We both walked away happy.
2. Two Kick-Off automatic crash detection and recovery devices.
4. An Apple QuickTake 150 digital camera complete with software, serial cable and macro lens.
5. A Connectix webcam
So happy. And all for roundabout $40.
To be fair, I also can’t find it on the Fox News, the Washington Times or the BBC. But it’s happening, and there’s pictures. What on earth am I talking about?
Looking through the pictures, I noticed something that I don’t see a lot of in Western media images of Middle Eastern demonstrations: signs in Arabic are in the majority. I’m not sure if that’s because Western photographers don’t want to take pictures of signs that the vast majority of their intended audience won’t be able to read without a translation, or if it’s because the West is not the intended audience.
Update: I did find a couple of news stories covering these anti-terror demonstrations. Interestingly enough, one of the sources is the Iranians.
Islamic Republic of Iran Broadcasting – IGC ban three militant organizations. Blurb about the demonstrations is down near the end of the article.
WARNING: this is a political rant. If you don’t want to read it, please don’t.
Annan: Iraq too dangerous for U.N.
(CNN) — U.N. Secretary-General Kofi Annan said Wednesday that it is too dangerous for the United Nations to return to Iraq at this time.
“Under the circumstances, it is difficult to envisage the United Nations operating with a large number of international staff inside Iraq in the near future unless there is an unexpected and significant improvement in the overall security situation,” Annan said in a report released Wednesday.
“The security environment is unlikely to improve in the short to medium term and could deteriorate even further,” he wrote.
He said that U.N. facilities would be “high-value, high-impact” targets for terrorists in Iraq for the foreseeable future.
Annan is seeking an agreement from the United States on protection for U.N. staff, according to the report.
“Formal agreements should be concluded between the United Nations and the Coalition Provisional Authority with regard to protection, exchange of information, emergency medical evacuation and the possible use of coalition or multinational force facilities as required,” Annan said in the report.
I’d note that the UN is still set up in the West Bank and Gaza in a non-military capacity, not to mention that they were perfectly willing to send troops and people to such garden spots as Afghanistan, Rwanda, Somalia and Cyprus. Why is the UN perfectly willing to not help the people of Iraq? It couldn’t be because of this, would it?
Nations react angrily to contract ban
The Pentagon plans to bar France, Germany and other countries that opposed the U.S.-led war in Iraq from competing for $18.6 billion worth of contracts in the Mideast nation’s reconstruction efforts.
A memo posted Tuesday on a Pentagon Web site restricts the list of countries eligible to compete for the contracts to nations that participated in the coalition effort in the Iraq war or supported it.
The memo, signed by Deputy Defense Secretary Paul Wolfowitz, said that “international support and cooperation are necessary for progress in Iraq.”
“It is necessary for the protection of the essential security interests of the United States to limit competition for the prime contracts of these procurements to companies from the United States, Iraq, coalition partners and force contributing nations,” Wolfowitz said in the memo, dated Friday.
An attachment lists 63 countries eligible for contracts to improve Iraq’s ravaged infrastructure — including electrical, water, transportation, housing and health systems — as well as to arm the new Iraqi army and restore oil production.
Noticeably absent from the list are France, Germany, Russia, Canada and China — countries that strongly opposed the war.
Amazing how that list of “absent countries” include the majority of Saddam’s European creditors, who are now yelling through diplomatic channels about how their being left off the list of “acceptable contractors” may not be legal and how unacceptable it is. Amazing.
First, the quake. It was centered about 28 miles west of Richmond, VA and was felt by a member of my team as far north as Bethesda (he thought it sounded like someone was pushing a heavy cart somewhere nearby.) Aside from that, no real effects. I didn’t know about it myself until later, when my coworker caught me up on it.
The Iraqi National Symphony Orchestra being in town was, to me anyway, a more momentous event simply in their survival to take the stage tonight. Impoverished, isolated and in some cases exiled by former president Saddam Hussein, these musicians have more endured than enjoyed their long history as the oldest symphony in the Arab world. They were starved for strings and scores during a decade of U.N. sanctions on Iraq and robbed of their home when looters gutted the concert hall this year. Before that, “After 1979, when Saddam Hussein took power, we went through a catastrophe. All aspects of culture were neglected,” Mohammed Amin Ezzat, the Iraqi Symphony’s longtime conductor, said.
A senior minister told the orchestra it should emulate a pair of garish nightclub singers who crooned paeans for Hussein, Ezzat recalled. “The president loved the cheap arts and he hated our style of music,” said Mohammed Abed Ali, 28, who plays first violin. During the economic embargo following the first Gulf War, visitors from outside Iraq slipped sheet music into the country, where the scores were copied by hand, according to the musicians. They nursed their aging instruments, aware that spare parts were prohibitively expensive if they could be found at all.
Then came the March invasion. The musicians hunkered down at home.
“I’d go on the roof, watch the airplanes and the rockets, and then go downstairs and practice,” Benjamin said. Alone, he filled the blackout with the mournful call of the French horn.
Nine months later, symphony members said they relish being back in the spotlight.
“Now we’re getting recognition and attention,” said violinist Nobar Adnan, 30. “Before, we were playing in the dark.”
Moment of Zen
I ran across this, and I have to tell you: I’m disturbed.
Cases of ‘living dead’ growing in India
Associated Press 31 Jul 2003
By THE ASSOCIATED PRESS
Filed at 5:30 p.m. ET
LUCKNOW, India (AP) — As far as the government is concerned, they’re dead — and they’re not at all happy about it.
Calling themselves “the Living Dead,” two dozen people held a last rites Hindu ceremony outside the State Assembly to draw attention to their plight.
All say unscrupulous relatives fraudulently had them declared dead in order to steal their property. They’ve been struggling for years to get the government to rectify their official standing.
“My son produced a fake death certificate to revenue officials and grabbed my 12 acres of property. The government still refuses to recognize me as alive,” said Rashida Bibi, 62, who was declared dead in 1993.
“I have been certified a living person by my village head but still the revenue officials refuse to recognize me as alive,” she said.
India’s bureaucrats are notorious for doing little work, and corruption is rampant. Many officials and clerks refuse to accept a claim or even talk to a petitioner without receiving a bribe.
The “living dead,” having been cheated out of their property, cannot afford to pay bribes or even legitimate fees to get their cases dealt with.
Lal Bihari, president of the Association of the Living Dead, estimated 35,000 people in Uttar Pradesh state have been wrongly certified as dead.
“We have knocked on doors of government officials and police. No one is ready to recognize us as living persons because revenue records declare us dead,” he said during the protest Wednesday.
Bihari was declared dead by an uncle 18 years ago, but despite numerous public protests has been unable to get the decision reversed.
Moment of Zen