Saturday, March 1, 2008


It was once known as the "Fertile Crescent." A section of Diyala Province, Iraq known for its rich harvest of crops, but then the United States invaded Iraq and now the Iraqi farmers are having to sell their farms or break them up into smaller farms because disease is everywhere and the farmers can no longer make a living farming.

You don't read stories like this in the mainstream press in the United States because the mainstream press in the United States is in bed with the Bush administration.

Write or talk about anything that is not positive about Iraq and the you are immediately called a traitor or labeled unpatriotic.

The truth of the matter is the Bush administration has destroyed Iraq.

This story by Dahr Jamail and Ahmed Ali is just another indication of the damage the Bush administration and the United States has done by invading and occupying Iraq.

Commentary by Bill Corcoran, editor of CORKSPHERE, the blog that dares to tell the truth about the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.

By Ahmed Ali and Dahr Jamail

*BAQUBA, Feb 29 (IPS) - New plant diseases, attacks by occupation forces and escalating fuel prices are strangling farmers in Diyala province.Prior to the U.S.-led invasion of March 2003, farmers in Baquba, the capital city of Diyala province 40 km northeast of Baghdad, struggled with plant diseases they believed were caused by bombs dropped during the U.S.-led war against Iraq in 1991.

Trees were infested with white fruit fly, aphids and plant louse, and there was a shortage of water for irrigation. The directorate-general of agriculture used helicopters to spread insecticide. After the invasion, the situation has worsened. Helicopter spraying seems unthinkable. "With helicopters large distances can be sprayed in one stroke," Aboud Ibrahim, a 55-year-old local farmer told IPS. "In the case of white fruit fly, when a farmer sprays the insecticide, the disease can move back to his farm again from the neighbouring farm within six hours. This is why simultaneous treatment of all farms is so efficient."

Helicopters now mean something else. "Helicopters and fighters of the coalition forces attack farmers who work at night on their farms," said a local farmer who did not want to be named. "Due to the water quotas, farmers are forced to water their farms even at night. Some farmers have been shot in firing by coalition forces. Farmers would rather neglect their farms than risk death."

Click on link to read the rest of the story.


The war drums are starting to beat again only this time they are coming from the Bush White House in Crawford, Texas where President Bush issued a stern warning to the President of Iran on the eve of his historic visit with Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al Maliki in Baghdad over the weekend.

President George W. Bush on Saturday warned his Iranian counterpart Mahmoud Ahmadinejad to "stop exporting terror" ahead of the Iranian leader's historic visit to Iraq.Bush, at a press conference at his Texas ranch with visiting Danish Prime Minister Anders Fogh Rasmussen, said while Iraq needed to hold talks with its neighbor it should make clear to Tehran it must stop arming Iraqi militias.

He said that "the message needs to be 'quit sending in sophisticated equipment that's killing our citizens.'"Bush said his message for Ahmadinejad was "stop exporting terror."

Bush warns Iran, calls for more NATO troops in Afghanistan

The United States has accused Iran of supplying Iraq insurgents with bombs used to attack US soldiers and is increasingly concerned over Tehran's influence in the Shiite-majority country.

Ahmadinejad hopes his groundbreaking visit to Iraq on Sunday will mark a major step in bolstering ties between Iran and its conflict-torn western neighbor, marking a new chapter after a devastating eight-year war in the 1980s.

Bush spoke after a two day summit with the Danish prime minister focusing on the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, telling reporters he would lobby NATO members to offer more troops to the mission in Afghanistan.

"My administration has made it abundantly clear we expect people to carry a heavy burden if they are going to be in Afghanistan," Bush said.

The US president said he understood "there are certain political constraints on certain countries" but said he planned to press for more NATO troop contributions at a major summit in Bucharest in April.

Click on link to read the full story.


The United States Baghdad embassy, which stands to become the largest US diplomatic facility in the world, had an original opening date of mid-2007. But the project stalled amid ballooning cost estimates as well as charges of corruption and shoddy work by the private contracting company overseeing the project.

In addition, two US state department employees who worked on the embassy project are now under criminal investigation. Waxman urged Rice to release subpoenaed documents related to the Baghdad embassy project next week or risk being forced to do so.


Elana Schor in Washington,

The Bush administration is blocking an inquiry into the delay-plagued construction of the $736m US embassy in Baghdad, a senior Democrat in Congress said today.

Henry Waxman, who is chairman of the oversight committee in the House of Representatives, asked US secretary of state Condoleezza Rice today to explain why her department certified the embassy as "substantially completed" in December despite inspections that reveal continued deficiencies in the facility's water, fire alarm and kitchen systems.

"It appears that the state department is concealing from Congress basic information about the status of the embassy project and the activities of the individuals and contractors involved," Waxman wrote to Rice. "This continued intransigence is inappropriate."

The private construction company, First Kuwaiti General Trading & Contracting, declined repeatedly to provide safety inspectors with reports on fire protection systems at the embassy, according to reports released by Waxman. First Kuwaiti, based in Kuwait, remains the target of a separate US criminal probe into allegations of labour trafficking.

The state department has not yet received Waxman's letter but plans to address the Democrat's concerns by his March 7 deadline, spokesman Tom Casey told reporters today.

Casey defended the delay in construction of the embassy, asserting that the building would not be occupied until its fitness for use could be certified.

"[W]e certainly have no intention of taking occupancy or establishing occupancy in a facility that doesn't fully meet all our standards," Casey said. He reminded reporters that First Kuwaiti is required under its contract to bear the cost of any needed additional work.

The new director of building operations at the state department has ordered a review of the embassy project and may revoke the building's "substantially completed" certification, McClatchy news service reported this week.


The spin machines at FOX NEWS and inside the BUSH White House most likely are already in full gear in an effort to downplay the significance of what the veterans from the Iraq and Afghanistan wars plan to say about war crimes when they testify in Washington from March 13 to March 16.

Iraq Veterans Against the War (IVAW) argues that well-publicised incidents of U.S. brutality like the Abu Ghraib prison scandal and the massacre of an entire family of Iraqis in the town of Haditha are not the isolated incidents perpetrated by "a few bad apples", as many politicians and military leaders have claimed. They are part of a pattern, the group says, of "an increasingly bloody occupation".

Commentary by Bill Corcoran, editor of CORKSPHERE,, the blog that dares to tell the TRUTH about what is happening in and around the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.

US: Vets Break Silence on War Crimes

By Aaron Glantz SAN FRANCISCO, Feb 28

(IPS) -

U.S. veterans of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan are planning to descend on Washington from Mar. 13-16 to testify about war crimes they committed or personally witnessed in those countries.

"The war in Iraq is not covered to its potential because of how dangerous it is for reporters to cover it," said Liam Madden, a former Marine and member of the group Iraq Veterans Against the War.

"That's left a lot of misconceptions in the minds of the American public about what the true nature of military occupation looks like."

Iraq Veterans Against the War argues that well-publicised incidents of U.S. brutality like the Abu Ghraib prison scandal and the massacre of an entire family of Iraqis in the town of Haditha are not the isolated incidents perpetrated by "a few bad apples", as many politicians and military leaders have claimed. They are part of a pattern, the group says, of "an increasingly bloody occupation".

"The problem that we face in Iraq is that policymakers in leadership have set a precedent of lawlessness where we don't abide by the rule of law, we don't respect international treaties, so when that atmosphere exists it lends itself to criminal activity," argues former U.S. Army Sergeant Logan Laituri, who served a tour in Iraq from 2004 to 2005 before being discharged as a conscientious objector.

Laituri told IPS that precedent of lawlessness makes itself felt in the rules of engagement handed down by commanders to soldiers on the front lines. When he was stationed in Samarra, for example, he said one of his fellow soldiers shot an unarmed man while he walked down the street. "The problem is that that soldier was not committing a crime as you might call it because the rules of engagement were very clear that no one was supposed to be walking down the street," he said.

"But I have a problem with that. You can't tell a family to leave everything they know so you can bomb the shit out of their house or their city. So while he definitely has protection under the law, I don't think that legitimates that type of violence."


Thirty-seven years ago, in the midst of a bitter-cold Michigan winter, 109 Vietnam veterans gathered at a Howard Johnson Motel auditorium in Detroit to tell their stories. For three days, they told of ransacking undefended villages, attacking civilians, mutilating bodies, torturing Viet Cong suspects, burning houses, destroying Vietnamese property and livestock and killing innocent children. At the conference, entitled Winter Soldier, the veterans accepted responsibility and mourned for their actions. But, taken collectively, their words incriminated a much larger culprit: the war itself.

This year, from March 13 to 16, about 300 veterans of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan will follow in the footsteps of their predecessors, gathering for a second Winter Soldier conference, in Silver Spring, Maryland. Organized by Iraq Veterans Against the War (IVAW) it will make up the largest gathering ever of Iraq and Afghanistan veterans.

Their mission? To tell the story of the war in the terms of those who have actually lived it.

Winter Soldiers to Testify Against War

By Maya Schenwar t r u t h o u t Report

Saturday 01 March 2008

"This is a moment when veterans won't let anyone else speak for us," said Aaron Hughes, an Iraq veteran who initiated the new Winter Soldier effort. "We hear from the pundits, we hear from the politicians, we hear from the generals, but we don't hear from the soldiers who've walked the streets, who've been there and know what it's about. We're the ones who can bring out the cruelties and dehumanization in US foreign policy."

The event, which will accommodate about 700 veteran advocates, social workers, support staff and members of the media in addition to veterans, will combine soldier testimonies and expert panels. The panels are intended to provide a factual context for the personal stories, according to Perry O'Brien, one of Winter Soldier's organizers. Panels and testimony will be grouped into 12 categories, including killing and wounding noncombatants, mishandling of dead, torture and abuse, sexual assault, discrimination in the military, destruction of civilian property, veterans' benefits issues and GI resistance.

Click on link to read the full story of the Winter Soldiers.


After six years of US-led military support and billions of pounds in aid, security in Afghanistan is "deteriorating" and President Hamid Karzai's government controls less than a third of the country, America's top intelligence official has admitted.

Injection of troops and aid has not brought stability says U.S. intelligence chief.

Mike McConnell testified in Washington that Karzai controls about 30% of Afghanistan and the Taliban 10%, and the remainder is under tribal control.

Declan Walsh in Islamabad and Richard Norton Taylor
The Guardian,
Friday February 29 2008 with particular thanks to Lori Price of CLG for this news tip.

The Afghan government angrily denied the US director of national intelligence's assessment yesterday, insisting it controlled "over 360" of the country's 365 districts. "This is far from the facts and we completely deny it," said the defence ministry.

But the gloomy comments echoed even more strongly worded recent reports by thinktanks, including one headed by the former Nato commander General James Jones, which concluded that "urgent changes" were required now to "prevent Afghanistan becoming a failed state".

Although Nato forces have killed thousands of insurgents, including several commanders, an unrelenting drip of violence has eroded Karzai's grip in the provinces, providing fuel to critics who deride him as "the mayor of Kabul".

A suicide bomb at a dog fight near Kandahar last week killed more than 80 people. Yesterday fighting erupted in neighbouring Helmand when the Taliban ambushed a police patrol. The interior ministry said 25 militants were killed; a Taliban spokesman said they lost one.

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