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72 Texans died in Iraq war in 2005

At least 72 soldiers from Texas died in the war in Iraq during the past year, bringing to total killed from Texas to 191 since the war began. Both Texas Senators - Hutchison and Cornyn - and President Bush continue to say their deaths were "worthwhile sacrifices". Lists of the dead, during December, include:

Army Chief Warrant Officer Richard M. Salter, 44, of Cypress. Salter was assigned to the 4th Infantry Division, Fort Hood.

Army 1st Lt. Benjamin T. Britt, 24, of Wheeler. Britt was assigned to the 101st Airborne Division, Fort Campbell, Ky.

Army Staff Sgt. Johnnie V. Mason, 32, of Rio Vista. Mason was assigned to the 52nd Ordnance Group, Fort Campbell, Ky.

Marine Lance Cpl. Samuel Tapia, 20, of San Benito. Tapia was assigned to the 1st Marine Division, Twentyninepalms, Calif.

Army Spc. James C. Kesinger, 32, of Pharr. Kesinger was assigned to the 1st Armored Division, Fort Riley, Kan.

Army Sgt. Michael C. Taylor, 23, of Hockley. Taylor was assigned to the 214th Field Artillery Brigade, Fort Sill, Okla.

Marine Lance Cpl. Robert A. Martinez, 20, of Splendora. Martinez was assigned to the 1st Marine Division, Twentynine Palms, Calif.

CPT Update: No news. posted 31 December 2005

Lights out in Baghdad

The electrical situation in Baghdad has continued to worsen so that residents can ony expect 6 hours of electricity per day. The United States, as the occupying force, is responsible for this situation - before the war Baghdad had electricity 20 hours per day.

I visited the al-Doura electrical plant (shown at left) and oil refinery in September to discuss the situation with officials. At that time, there was no evidence of foreign contractors or U.S. money being spent on the plants. CJ

Baghdad is estimated to have up to 2 million private generators - providing electricity when the main power is shut off, but not enough for the manufacturing sector which has been shuttered since the invasion of March 2003.

An additional problem is that since these generators use the equivalent in fuel of 6 million cars they contribute greatly to the gasonline shortage throughout the country. Those within the "Green Zone" areas of the country have 24x7 electricity. Many Iraqis wonder how much of their oil and electricity goes to those in the Green Zones.

If the worsening conditions aren't actual a policy decision of the Administration in Washington, but rather incompetence, then someone should be fired immediately.

Elsewhere: A family of 11 was murdered in Latifiyya in what appears to be an episode of "ethnic cleansing" as they were previously told to leave their neighborhood. The victims included seven men and four women. An explosion aimed at police and mortar in Baghdad killed six and wounded 23 persons. One U.S. soldier was killed in a bomb attack in eastern Baghdad.

CPT Update: Members of CAIR-CAN, a Canadian Muslim association, have issued an appeal, postage in the Middle East, for release of the CPT hostages. posted 30 December 2005

Oil production still lower than under Saddam, sanctions

"Iraq hopes to produce at least 2.5 mln barrels of oil a day by the end of 2006," according to a Forbes magazine year-end report. What the report fails to mention is that current oil production of 2 mln barrels is even less today - almost three years after the U.S. invasion of Iraq - than it was under Saddam and during U.N. sanctions (2.6 mln).

Speaking before the Global Policy Forum in 2002, James A. Paul estimated that with Iraq's large reserves and potential to equal Saudi Arabia, combined with growing world demand, Iraq could eventually account for 30% of the total global supply of oil by mid century. “Iraq contains 112 billion barrels of proven oil reserves, the second largest in the world (behind Saudi Arabia) along with roughly 220 billion barrels of probable and possible resources. Iraq’s true potential may be far greater than this, however, as the country is relatively unexplored due to years of war and sanctions. Deep oil-bearing formations located mainly in the vast Western Desert region, for instance, could yield large additional oil resources (possibly another 100 billion barrels), but have not been explored.”

Despite all of this, Iraq's oil production has fallen below prewar levels to its lowest point in a decade, depriving the country's fledgling government of badly needed income. In releated news, oil prices - and profits of energy companies - continue to rise to record levels. West Texas Intermediate crude oil delivered to the Cushing, Okla. terminal averaged $54 per 42-gallon barrel in 2005.

CPT Update: There has been no response to radio ads in Iraq calling for release of CPT'rs and other held. posted 28 December 2005

Fighting escalates, new mass graves found

Fighting has intensified throughout Iraq during the past two days. In Kerbala a new mass grave was unearthed- one of many found so far. President Bush called this the "season of hope and joy" ... neglecting to mention "peace".

Violence surged Monday amid uncertainty in the aftermath of parliamentary elections more than a week ago: Bombers struck six times in the capital, insurgents launched a lethal rocket attack on Iraqi police, and shootings across the country left at least nine people dead.

A U.S. soldier was killed when his patrol was hit by a rocket-propelled grenade in the capital. A Blackhawk helicopter crashed Monday night killing at two military pilots. Two California reservists died Friday from an IED. U.S soldier died on Monday from injuries sustained from gunfire in Khalidiya.

Workers in Kerbala found a mass grave, believed to be from the 1991 uprising against Saddam, that may contain as many as 10,000 bodies. More than 110,000 persons were estimated to have been killed in 1991 during the uprisings while U.S. officials remained silent to Saddam.

Elsewhere: Sultan al-Thabhawi, a member of Iraq's biggest Shi'ite party, the Supreme Council for Islamic Revolution in Iraq, died of wounds sustained in an attack by gunmen on Monday. Demonstrations continued in Baghdad on Tuesday following preliminary results of parlimentary elections two weeks ago.

CPT Update: no news. posted 27 December 2005

Fear, economy overshadow Christmas in Iraq

Iraqi Christians are preparing for another Christmas under occupation, continuing violence and a shattered economy.

The doors of churches, from Basrah to Mosul, will be open this weekend but many parishoners will not be present - they have fled to neighboring countries.

Shopkeepers in Baghdad still put out displays of trees and Santas, girls in robes with candles will once again pose as angels, and Iraqis - Muslims and Christians alike - will celebrate the "season of peace' at a time when peace seems elusive.

Meanwhile, Guerrillas stormed an Iraqi army post on Friday, killing 10 soldiers and wounding 20, as Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld told U.S. combat troops their numbers would fall in the coming year. Tens of thousands of Sunni Arabs marched in Baghdad after Friday Muslim prayers in protest at provisional poll results confirming the dominance of Shi'ite Islamists. Six Sudanese, including a diplomat, were kidnapped on Friday.

CPT Update: no news. posted 25 December 200

Fear, economy overshadow Christmas in Iraq

Iraqi Christians are preparing for another Christmas under occupation, continuing violence and a shattered economy.

The doors of churches, from Basrah to Mosul, will be open this weekend but many parishoners will not be present - they have fled to neighboring countries.

Shopkeepers in Baghdad still put out displays of trees and Santas, girls in robes with candles will once again pose as angels, and Iraqis - Muslims and Christians alike - will celebrate the "season of peace' at a time when peace seems elusive.

Meanwhile, Guerrillas stormed an Iraqi army post on Friday, killing 10 soldiers and wounding 20, as Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld told U.S. combat troops their numbers would fall in the coming year. Tens of thousands of Sunni Arabs marched in Baghdad after Friday Muslim prayers in protest at provisional poll results confirming the dominance of Shi'ite Islamists. Six Sudanese, including a diplomat, were kidnapped on Friday.

CPT Update: no news. posted 25 December 2005

Rumsfeld, Saddam, same old politicians

U.S. Secretary of Defense, Donald Rumsfeld, and his old pal Saddam Hussein continue to make politicial statements regarding Iraq that are unbelievable.

Following the old adage of "politics is just the continuation of war by other means," Rumsfeld and Saddam continue to make bold pronouncements about the Iraq, while completely ignoring reality. Saddam claims that he has been tortured while in U.S. custody. Rumsfeld says, he could "end up working something out" with Senator McCain regarding the use of torture. Both Saddam and Rumsfeld say that they love peace and care about the people of Iraq - obviously lies.

Meanwhile, dozens of political groups are unsatisfied with election results and threatening a boycott. Rome prosecuters announced that a U.S. Marine is being investigated for his alleged role in the March killing in Baghdad of an Italian secret service agent. A South African security contractor was killed by a roadside bomb. A Norwegian oil company said it struck oil in the Kurdish area of Iraq. France and Switzerland agreed to cancel 80% of debts owed by Iraq.

CPT Update: friends and families of the missing are taking out ads in Iraqi newspapers and will run a radio spot on December 26, urging release of the CPT members. Churches are joining in prayers for their safe release. posted 24 December 2005

German hostage, Iraqi prisoners released; Rising fuel costs protested

Susanne Osthoff, a German archeologist who has been held hostage for more than three weeks, was released Sunday night. On Saturday, many prominent Iraqis who have been imprisoned since 2003 were released. In Basra, government plans to hike gasoline and cooking fuel prices sparked protests.

Susanne Osthoff was taken hostage almost one month ago and the German government has been working to gain her release. It was not immediately clear if Osthoff's driver also was freed. More than 24 former senior Saddam officials have been released from prison after finding no evidence for their incarceration. They include prominent scientists Huda Saleh Mahdi Amash and Rihab Taha.

In Basra today, thousands of angry Iraqis took to the streets to protest government-imposed gasoline (petrol) price increases. Oil Minister Ibrahim Bahr al-Ulum threatened to resign unless the government cancelled a decision to raise gasoline prices from 50 to 150 dinars equivalent to between three and 10 US cents. The public outcry follows price hikes of 300 percent introduced nationwide on Sunday, just three days after general elections for a new four-year term parliament. In Nasiriyah Iraq police fired in the air to disperse about 3,000 stone-throwing demonstrators who took to the streets to protest against the petrol price rise. In the southern town of Amarah, several dozen demonstrators threw stones at a British army patrol while chanting slogans hostile to Iraqi Prime Minister Ibrahim Jaafari.

An extremist group issued a videotape on the Internet which showed the execution of a man described as an American contractor held hostage in Iraq. The Islamic Army in Iraq had said in a statement on December 8 that it had killed Ronald Schultz, a security contractor.

CPT Update: While there has been no new news on the fate of CPT members held captive, families members continue to hold out hope - and pray - that they are alive and will be released. posted 19 December 2005

A "Day for Freedom"

Iraqis went to the polls in record numbers today to elect their first truly independent national assembly. One voter remarked, "today, for the first time is a day for freedom."

Election turnout was high throughout Iraq today as voters headed to the polls to elect members of parliament who will take office on December 31.

Due to the high turnout, voting was extended by 1 hour. Electoral official Hussein Hindawi said earlier that polling stations would shut as planned at 5:00 pm, but that people still waiting in line. Preliminary estimates from regional electoral officials put turnout at between 60 and 80 percent. Some polling stations ran out of ballots and there was scattered small violence, but the day was relatively peaceful overall.

CPT Update: While there has been no new news on the fate of CPT members held captive, there is hope that they may be released on Friday, after the elections. posted 15 December 2005

4 US soldiers, Iraqi politician killed

Four U.S. soldiers were killed when their patrol struck a makeshift bomb northwest of Baghdad on Tuesday. An candidate in this week's elections was killed in another incident.

The 4 soldiers died when their patrol struck a makeshift bomb while on patrol. The soldiers were assigned to Task Force Baghdad, which handles security in the capital and the surrounding area.

Mezher al-Dulaimi, a candidate for the National Assembly, was killed on his way to visit relatives in Ramadi. Mr. Dulaimi is a businessman in his fifties known for his strong support for Iraqi resistance, and also for his ties to a prominent group of Sunni clerics, called the Muslim Scholars Association. He also took part, as a prominent Sunni Arab politician, in a reconciliation conference in Cairo last month of Iraqi political factions that called for U.S. forces to leave Iraq. It was not clear who Mr. Dulaimi's attackers were. A friend accompanying him was wounded.

Elsewhere, a roadside bomb exploded that was meant to hit the convoy of a member of the National Assembly, Sheik Jalal Eddin al-Sagheer, who was elected with the governing United Iraqi Alliance, The explosion in Latifiyah, about 20 miles south of Baghdad, damaged one of the vehicles.

CPT Update: No news yet on the fate of CPT peacemakers. However, Aljazeera reports that it has been inundated with emails and phone calls urging the release of the hostages, adding to the chorus of appeals from prominent Muslim leaders and organisations backed by relatives, friends and well-wishers. posted 13 December 2005

Disinfomedia campaign hides war from Americans

The Administration's disinfomedia campaign is in high gear and continues to hide the reality of the war in Iraq from Americans.

While President Bush was giving speeches today: Three Iraqis were killed and fourteen injured when a minibus filled with explosives detonated near a hospital in Baghdad. Also in Baghdad, clashes between the unidentified gunmen, police and the Iraqi army resulted in the deaths of two police officers and the injury of another nine.

A police sergeant was also reportedly killed by an American patrol. In Muqdadiyah, about 60 miles north of Baghdad, a roadside bomb killed an Iraqi woman and injured five other people. Police also reported that a businessman, identified as 43-year-old Mohammed Yousif, was kidnapped along with his 23 year-old son in Baghdad’s upscale Mansour district. Another two people were killed in an early morning drive-by shooting in Baghdad southern Dora district.

One U.S. soldier was killed by a roadside bomb south of Baghdad Monday. The military announced two soldiers died Sunday. One was killed by a bomb in western Baghdad, while another, an Army member attached to the 2nd Marine Division, was killed in a suicide car bomb attack near Ramadi.

CPT Update: No news yet on the fate of CPT peacemakers who have been held now for 16 days. CPT members have long been investigating abuses occuring in the prisons - American and Iraqi - and have a outstanding record opposing the war and occupation. They are frequently at odds with the administrations in Washington and Tel Aviv. There is concern that they may have been taken captive for political or disinformation uses. posted 12 December 2005

4 US soldiers killed, no word on CPT'rs fate

Four US soldiers were killed in separate attacks in Iraq on Saturday, the US military said.

Two soldiers were killed when they were fired upon in the Yusufiyah district southwest of Baghdad, while another soldier was killed by small-arms fire while on patrol northwest of the capital, the military said.

A fourth soldier was killed when his patrol struck a makeshift bomb in north Baghdad. More than 2,100 US soldiers have died since the 2003 US-led invasion to oust Saddam Hussein from power. Iraq has been ravaged by daily attacks by a Sunni Arab-led insurgency fighting to overthrow a US-backed government. Meanwhile, an Egyptian kidnapped in Iraq was found dead on Saturday near Saddam Hussein’s hometown of Tikrit, said a source at the local Iraqi-US coordination centre.

Mohammed Ibrahim Al-Hilali, 46, was snatched by gunmen under cover of darkness late on Friday outside his home in Tikrit, north of Baghdad, a police source said. His bullet-riddled body was discovered dumped on a roadside just north of the city, said the official at the coordination centre. agencies

CPT Update: Today was the deadline for negotiations given by those claiming to have taken our friends. No word as yet. posted 10 December 2005

Bus bomber kills 30, claims of hostage execution

A suicide bomb attack on a Baghdad bus killed 30 people and there are reports that a hostage has been executed.

The suicide bomb attack occured in Baghdad on bus. 30 persons were killed with at least 18 others injured. The bus was leaving the busy Nahda bus station in the city centre for the Shi'ite city of Nassiriya when the bomber detonated himself, they said.

The Islamic Army in Iraq claimed, via an Internet posting, that it killed a kidnapped U.S. security consultant. The claim's authenticity could not be immediately verified. The group demanded that prisoners be let go from Abu Ghraib.

The group Thursday blamed President Bush for failing to respond to its demands. "The war criminal Bush continues his arrogance, giving no value to people's lives unless they serve his criminal, aggressive ways. Since his reply (to the demands) was irresponsible, he bears the consequences of his stance," the statement said. "Therefore the American security consultant for the Housing Ministry was killed after the end of the deadline set to respond to the Islamic Army's demands," it said.

In other news, a U.S. Marine was killed when his vehicle hit an EID in Ramadi on Wednesday, and another soldier killed when his convoy hit an IED east of Baghdad on Thursday.

CPT Update: CPT family members continue to go on television to try and get messages to captors. posted 08 December 2005

Bomber kills 43; Another American taken

Two suicide bombers struck Baghdad's police academy Tuesday, killing at least 43 people and wounding 73 more, U.S. officials said, while Al-Jazeera broadcast an insurgent video claiming to have kidnapped a U.S. security consultant.

The suicide attackers were wearing explosives-laden vests and a U.S. contractor was among those wounded, a U.S. military statement said. U.S. forces rushed to the scene to provide assistance, the statement said. The military initially said the bombers were women but later retracted the statement.

"We were sitting in the yard when we heard an explosion," said police Maj. Wisam al-Heyali. "Seconds later, we were hit by another explosion as we were running. I saw some of my colleagues falling down and I felt my hand hit, but I kept on running."

The Islamic Army in Iraq has kidnapped a U.S. security consultant, Ronald Schulz, and is threatening to kill him in 48 hours unless Washington frees all Iraqi prisoners, according to a video aired by Al Jazeera television on Tuesday. The man is the seventh Westerner taken hostage by Iraqi gunmen in just over 10 days after a lull in such abductions in recent months following tight security measures by most Westerners.

CPT Update: No updates since yesterday. posted 06 December 2005

French engineer, latest foreigner kidnapped

An engineer working for a French company that had a contract with the Eastern Baghdad Water Company to work on a sewage project, was taken at gunpoint today from his home. The kidnappers in three cars surrounded the man as he was getting into a car outside a house in the wealthy Mansour district of Baghdad, police Capt. Qassim Hussein said. The man was on his way to work at the Risafa Water Plant, in the center of the capital, he added.

Meanwhile, the mother of Susanne Osthoff, the German woman being held hostage in Iraq, on Monday issued an emotional plea for her release after the government said it had failed to make contact with the kidnappers. "My daughter is more Iraqi than German. Speak to her. Get to know Susanne. Then you will learn quickly that she only wanted to do one thing in Iraq, and that is to help the people there," Ingrid Hala said in her plea published in the Neue Osnabruecker Zeitung.Osthoff, 43, is a trained archeologist who has been doing aid work in Iraq for several years and a convert to Islam. She married an Arab and speaks fluent Arabic.

In a message broadcast on Sunday night, the mother of Canadian citizen Harmeet Singh Sooden pleaded for his captors to lift a threat to execute him and the other hostages. Sooden, 32, is a New Zealand resident who travelled to Iraq with a Christian organisation to do voluntary humanitarian work. "Harmeet is a much-loved son and a peace-loving man - he went to Iraq to do good," Manjeet Kaur Sooden said from her daughter's Auckland home. "I pray that those who are holding Harmeet will look into their hearts, see the good that is in my son, and release him and his companions unharmed."

TV3 said the mother's appeal would be presented to Al-Jazeera, based in Doha, Qatar. The other kidnapped activists are: American Tom Fox, 54, of Clear Brook, Va.; Norman Kember, 74, of London and James Loney, 41, of Toronto. Peggy Gish, a spokeswoman for Christian Peacemaker Teams, also pleaded for the activists' release. "I would appeal to them and say that you are mistaken about who these four men are," Gish said in the Jordanian capital Amman. "They are really working for peace and justice. They are helping you and other Iraqi people," she said. "I would appeal to them to release the men and allow us to continue our work." New Zealand Prime Minister Helen Clark said Sunday her country has offered assistance in "working toward the safe release of the hostages." posted 05 December 2005

Daily grind continues with more killings

U.S. and Iraqi soldiers die, civilians are caught in the crossfire of the conflict, and pundits and apologists for the war (most who have never been to a battleground) say "keep the course"

Two U.S soldiers were killed and several others wounded when their convoy was attacked in a roadside bombing in a south eastern suburb of Baghdad, the U.S. military said. A military spokeswoman said that two Humvees were destroyed in the ambush. Also in Baghdad, two civilians were killed and 26 wounded when a bomb exploded. An imam was killed by gunmen in eastern Baghdad. Sheikh Abdul Salam abdul Hussein was a follower of Shi'ite cleric Moqtada al-Sadr.

Two Iraqi policemen were killed when gunmen attacked their patrol in Ahmar village, about (25 miles east of Baqub)a, police said. In Baiji (112 miles north of Baghdad), awomen and two children were wounded when U.S forces conducted an air strike, bombing two houses. The air strike followed a mortar attack on a U.S base near Baiji.

Two insurgents were killed and 55 suspects detained when the Iraqi army conducted a raid in Udaim, near Baquba (40 miles north of Baghdad), the army said. The raid followed an ambush on Saturday that killed 19 Iraqi soldiers. In Zarkuush, two people were killed, including a policeman, when a bomb planted on the side of the road exploded. In askandariya, five members of the Iraqi security forces were wounded when a roadside bomb went off near their patrol.

In Washington, officials defended the use of military propaganda. posted 04 December 2005

10 Marines killed, 11 wounded in Fallujah

Ten Marines on foot patrol were killed and 11 wounded by a roadside bomb near Fallujah, Iraq, in one of the deadliest attack on American troops in recent months, the Marine Corps announced on Friday.

They were hit Thursday by a roadside bomb, which the military calls an improvised explosive device, or IED, made from several large artillery shells, the Marines said. IEDs are the most common cause of U.S. casualties in Iraq. A brief statement said the Marines were from Regimental Combat Team 8, of the 2nd Marine Division based at Camp Lejeune, N.C.

The Marines were attacked outside of Fallujah, about 30 miles west of Baghdad. Of the 11 who were wounded, seven have returned to duty, the Marine Corps statement said. It added that Marines from the same unit continue to conduct counterinsurgency operations throughout Fallujah and surrounding areas.

In a speech on Wednesday, President Bush began to acknowledge that the siutation on the ground in Iraq is not a secure or "winninable" as previously asserted.

Meanwhile, the no word yet on the hostages. posted 02 December 2005

Fighting continues in Ramadi, 3 US soldiers killed

U.S. and Iraqi troops launched a joint operation near Ramadi on Wednesday, sweeping through an area used to rig car bombs. At least four mortar rounds fell near the U.S. base on the eastern edge of the city.

About 500 Iraqi troops joined 2,000 U.S. Marines, soldiers and sailors in a move to clear insurgents from an area on the eastern side of the Euphrates river near Hit, 85 miles west of Baghdad, the U.S. command said in a statement.

Two U.S. service members died of wounds suffered in combat and a Marine died in a non-hostile traffic accident, the U.S. military said Thursday. The victims included a Task Force Baghdad soldier who died of gunshot wounds received Wednesday and a Marine who died of wounds suffered the same day in Fallujah, the U.S. command said. The traffic accident involving a Marine from the 2nd Marine Aircraft Wing occurred near Camp Taqaddum, 45 miles west of Baghdad, another military statement said.

Elsewhere, Operation Thunder Blitz has worked to secure areas along the Tigris. In Fallujah, gunmen killed a local imam, Sheikh Hamza Abbas Issawi, in a drive-by shooting. In Baghdad, a mortar round struck and damaged a home in the Jadriya neighborhood but caused no injuries, police said.

Meanwhile, the no word yet on the hostages. posted 01 December 2005

more older news items >>

>>Coalition partners pull out from Iraq

The US coalition in Iraq saw its size dwindle today as Ukraine and Bulgaria said all of their troops had left the country while Poland said it would remain, but reduce its number of troops by 600 next year.
....[more]
posted 27, December 2005