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Bush: Job well done.

Our airwaves are consumed with Anna Nicole Smith and Imus racial remarks. Makes you realize how lucky you are.

Fri. Apr 13, 1:23pm

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honestly, the infiltration of the jesus and church topics on this forum are just as, if not more, annoying than watching the news these days.

Friday, April 13, 2007, 1:36 PM

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The whole White House staff has to be overjoyed every time one of these "psuedostories" takes over the airwaves. Never mind that Wolfowitz
(Bush apointee) got his girlfriend a cushy State Dept. job with a salary that puts Condi's pay to shame.....the cronyism in this administration was directly responsible for one inept move (Katrina response) after another (Gonzales).
But never mind that, breaking news is the talking heads' take on the talking head's snafu.

Friday, April 13, 2007, 1:39 PM

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Bush and his camp definitely have to be thankful that we listen to the mindless drivel about Anna Nicole and Britney Spears and whatever other pseudo celebrity has done something stupid every other day. If we weren't busy being mindlessly entertained by this non-sense we would be outraged at what has been done to our country and our service men and women.

Democracy only works well when people use their brains and their right to vote at the same time. I think we've failed miserably on both counts.

But by all means, if you have no brain or lack the ability to educate yourself about issues then please continue voting for American Idol contestants instead of the leader of our country. Maybe we'll actualy be able to elect a decent leader in 2008 if you refrain from voting.

Friday, April 13, 2007, 7:51 PM

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well, they have managed to "dumb up" our country, ruining our food supply, our medicines, our water and our air. we the people have become a flock of sheep, following--no brains to speak out. i wonder how many more young folks are going to die before someone does something about it. it is sickening what this administration has done to our country

Saturday, April 14, 2007, 11:34 AM

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Listen to your local public radio station, watch news on your local public radio station .. they are not obsessed with the sensationalist stories.

Saturday, April 14, 2007, 9:14 PM

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And don't get your news from standard US sources. Check out BBC. Don't be afraid to go where they think more globally in terms of finding out what's going on. I for one have never heard Sanjaya sing and could care less about whether he's on the show or not.

Our current president refelcts our image well.

Tuesday, April 24, 2007, 7:07 AM

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the comment from 4-14-07, 11:34 AM sums up what is a growing problem in this country..."...before someone does something about it." many are wating for someone, mind you that means "someone else", to make changes. the thing is, too many are waiting for someone else while watching from the sidelines and complaining about the plays on the field. we are all on the same team. we all have an equal responsibility to do something about it. send a letter, or 1000 letters, to your state senators, representatives, congressmen/women, hold a town meeting to collect letters from the entire community, protest and offer support surrounding the issues that you feel are important. make yourself heard. it's not some unreachable force that is governing the US, it's an administration that has lost it's way and we, the people, need to get the administration (back) in check and moving forward. don't just wait for "someone" to do "something about it", do something yourself! set an example!

Wednesday, April 25, 2007, 9:23 AM

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in keeping with the discussion:

Wednesday, April 25, 2007, 3:50 PM

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Here, here, 9:23 am poster!

Wednesday, April 25, 2007, 5:33 PM

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KIRKUK, IRAQ – Kirkuk, like Baghdad, is one of the most dangerous places in the world. Car bombs, suicide attacks, shootings, and massacres erupt somewhere in the city every day. It is ethnically divided between Arabs, Kurds, and Turkmens, and is a lightning rod for foreign powers (namely Turkey at this time) that interfere in the city’s politics in the hopes of staving off an ethnic unraveling of their own.

The city’s terrorists are mostly Baathists, not Islamists, and their racist ideology casts Kurds and Turkmens as enemies. They’re boxed in on all sides, though, and have a hard time operating outside their own neighborhoods. In their impotent rage they murder fellow Arabs by the dozens and hundreds. They have, in effect, strapped suicide belts around their entire community while the Kurds and Turkmens shudder and fight to keep the Baath in its box.

Kurdish and Turkmen neighborhoods are safer than the Arab quarter, but the city is out of control. Car bombs can and do explode anywhere at any time.

Typical Kirkuk.jpg
Kirkuk, Iraq

I spent the day with Peshmerga General “Mam” (Uncle) Rostam and Kirkuk’s Chief of Police Major Sherzad at a house Mam Rostam uses a base in an old Arab neighborhood that now belongs to the Kurds. Just after lunch Major Sherzad’s walkie-talkie began urgently squawking.

Major Sherzad Walkie Talkie.jpg
Kirkuk Police Chief Major Sherzad answers a call from the station

“There has been a shooting,” he said. “Two men on a motorcycle rode down the street and fired a gun at people walking on the sidewalk. One of the men was apprehended. They are bringing him here.”

For some reason I assumed when the chief said “here” he meant the police station. He did not. He meant Mam Rostam’s.

“They will be here in two minutes,” the chief said.

“Here?” I said. “They’re bringing him here? To the house?”

“They will bring him here before taking him down to the station,” he said. “I’ll interrogate him here. I’m not going to feel good until I slap him.”

An Iraqi Police truck pulled up in front of the house and slammed on the brakes.

“Here he is,” the chief said.

I grabbed my video camera, flipped the switch to on, and ran out the door.

Both Major Sherzad and Mam Rostam slapped the suspect around, rifled through his personal items, and discovered the astonishingly stupid excuse he and his friend had for shooting at people – an even dumber excuse than if they had been political terrorists.

It was a strange and surprising interruption in the middle of a relaxed interview – basically an episode of Cops in Iraq.

Watch the video. Don’t continue reading until after you’ve watched the video.

The suspect was taken down to the station. Chief Sherzad went down there to interrogate the shooter – assuming the shooter actually turned himself in. Mam Rostam, my colleague Patrick Lasswell, our translator Hamid Shkak, and I returned to the porch and sat again in our plastic chairs.

“Where were we?” Mam Rostam said, as though nothing important had happened and we could return to our interview now. What else was there to talk about, though, aside from what had just happened? I still wasn’t sure who this guy was and why he and his friend were shooting at people.

“Those guys are not terrorists,” Mam Rostam said. “But they are troublemakers, young people messing around in the town. But we have to seize them and investigate them to find out why they are doing this. People think there are terrorists and that we are not taking care of it.”

“Well, what happened exactly?” I said. I obviously did not yet have an English-language transcript of the video. Our translator Hamid couldn’t hear everything that was said during the interrogation. “What makes you say he is not a terrorist? He was shooting at people.”

Mam Rostam 2.jpg
Peshmerga General “Mam” Rostam

“This guy’s identification card in his clothes, in his luggage, shows that he belongs to the Kurdistan Democratic Party,” Mam Rostam said. “That doesn’t necessarily mean he’s not a terrorist, but he’s not a stranger, he’s from the city, he’s known by people who work with the Peshmerga [the Iraqi Kurdish army]. But there are still some questions to be answered as soon as we capture the other guy.”

“You hit him very exactly, it seemed,” Patrick said. “You knew exactly how hard to hit him. His face wasn’t damaged. I would have broken his nose.”

Mam Rostam laughed. “He still seems like a teenager,” he said. “We have to fight them a little bit, to teach them not to do dangerous things, just to stop them where they are. They need to be adjusted more than they need to be punished. So we’re trying this stage with them first. If it doesn’t work, then there is another issue.”

“His teeth were still intact,” Patrick said.

Mam Rostam laughed again. “Those slaps were advice,” he said. “Because the city is unstable, we have to be a little bit violent with people to stop them. Otherwise they won’t be afraid to do many other evil actions. We have to be a little bit severe.”

Kirkuk Hideous.jpg
Everything in Kirkuk is severe.

“What do you think is going to happen in Kirkuk if the United States withdraws from Iraq next year?” I said, wondering if the city would become much severe very quickly.

“It will not be good,” Mam Rostam said. “Not for Iraq and especially not for Kirkuk. At a minimum there will be trouble with the neighbors, with Turkey and Iran. They will interfere.”

“They will interfere in Kirkuk in particular?” I said.

“Especially in Kirkuk,” Mam Rostam said. “Turkey is always interfering. But I believe the U.S. won’t leave Iraq until 2025. That’s my guess.”

“Even in 2025,” Patrick said, “you will ask us to stay longer for tea.”

Really. It’s hard to extract yourself from any kind of social event in the Middle East without being ordered to drink yet another tea.

“If America pulls out of Iraq, they will fail in Afghanistan,” Mam Rostam said.

Hardly anyone in Congress seems to consider that the Taliban insurgency in Afghanistan might become much more severe if similar tactics are proven effective in Iraq.

“And they will fail with Iran,” he continued. “They will fail everywhere with all Eastern countries. The war between America and the terrorists will move from Iraq and Afghanistan to America itself. Do you think America will do that? The terrorists gather their agents in Afghanistan and Iraq and fight the Americans here. If you pull back, the terrorists will follow you there. They will try, at least. Then Iran will be the power in the Middle East. Iran is the biggest supporter of terrorism. They support Hezbollah, Hamas, Islamic Jihad, and Ansar Al Islam. You know what Iran will do with those elements if America goes away.”

I seriously doubt Iran would actually nuke Israel, as many fear, if the regime acquires nuclear weapons – although I’ll admit I’m a bit less certain of that than I am of, say, Britain and France not nuking Israel. The Iranian regime, most likely, wants an insurance policy against invasion and regime change. The ayatollahs will then be able to ramp up their imperial projects in Lebanon, Iraq, and the Gulf with impunity.

Wednesday, April 25, 2007, 6:17 PM

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