It takes a certain amount of courage to attend a church in Iraq.
In the past 24 hours, bombs exploded outside of six churches in various Baghdad neighborhoods, killing at least four people, and wounding more than 30, according to a Reuters report from the Iraqi capital.
Sunday’s attacks were among the worst, in terms of the death toll. But many of these same churches have been bombed before. On Jan. 6, 2008 – also a Sunday – seven churches (four in Baghdad, three in Mosul) were hit in a similar round of bombings. Two years earlier, four churches (three in Baghdad, 1 in Kirkuk) were bombed – also on a Sunday in January.
The Assyrian (Christian) International News agency reports that 52 Assyrian churches have been bombed in Iraq between June 2004 and the end of 2008.
The latest attacks come in the wake of the US withdrawal of combat troops (on June 30) from most Iraqi cities.
BAGHDAD, June 30 -- This is no longer America's war.
Iraqis danced in the streets and set off fireworks Monday in impromptu celebrations of a pivotal moment in their nation's troubled history: Six years and three months after the March 2003 invasion, the United States on Tuesday is withdrawing its remaining combat troops from Iraq's cities and turning over security to Iraqi police and soldiers.
While more than 130,000 U.S. troops remain in the country, patrols by heavily armed soldiers in hulking vehicles as of Wednesday will largely disappear from Baghdad, Mosul and Iraq's other urban centers.
"The Army of the U.S. is out of my country," said Ibrahim Algurabi, 34, a dual U.S.-Iraqi citizen now living in Arizona who attended a concert of celebration in Baghdad's Zawra Park. "People are ready for this change. There are a lot of opportunities to rebuild our country, to forget the past and think about the future."
On Monday, as the withdrawal deadline loomed, four U.S. troops were killed in the Iraqi capital, the military announced Tuesday. No details about the deaths were provided. Another soldier was killed Sunday in a separate attack.
Some American troops have expressed concern about becoming more exposed after the withdrawal, because Iraqis will have unprecedented authority over U.S. military operations. U.S. commanders have said they were bracing for an uptick of attacks from extremist groups during the transition period, which occur almost daily, and will rely heavily on Iraq's security forces for protection in the months ahead.
The withdrawal has also created enormous fear and uncertainty among many Iraqis, who believe that the U.S. military pullback will open the door for insurgents to increase their attacks. On Monday, some normally congested streets were virtually deserted after dark, as Iraqis appeared to heed warnings of impending attacks by insurgents. But city streets were also largely empty of Humvees and U.S. troops.
Those Iraqis who ventured out were in the mood to party, celebrating a moment that the Iraqi government has said represents its return to full sovereignty.
In the Los Angeles Times today, Jonah Goldberg began the right's extreme makeover of John McCain's disastrous record on Iraq. Declaring "there is one candidate who's been consistently right about the war, and it isn't the Democrat," Goldberg invents a fictional McCain at odds with President Bush from the outset of the war:
"Meantime, there was the supposedly dogmatic McCain challenging Bush's approach to Iraq nearly from the get-go."
As the history shows, not so much.
Demonstrating that experience is truly no substitute for judgment, John McCain like President Bush was wrong at almost every turn in promoting the invasion and occupation of Iraq. From his predictions of a short war and claims U.S. troops would be greeted as liberators to his announcements of mission accomplished, his ongoing confusion over friend and foe in Iraq and so much more, McCain's is an unbroken legacy of error.
BRUSSELS, Belgium - More than 100 journalists have been killed since January, making 2004 the most deadly year for journalists in a decade, an international media rights group said.
The slayings of three journalists in recent days in Ivory Coast, Nicaragua and the Philippines pushed this year's total to 101, the International Federation of Journalists said Friday.
"2004 is turning out to be one of the most bloody years on record," said Aidan White, the federation's general secretary. "The crisis of news safety has reached an intolerable level and must be addressed urgently."
This is a very horrible story because if you will remember Wolfowitz had this to say about the press:
"Frankly, part of our problem is a lot of the press are afraid to travel very much, so they sit in Baghdad and they publish rumors."
Paul Wolfowitz is basically accusing journalists of cowardice.
That sent the journalistic communty into an uproar which forced Wolfowitz to write this letter:
I want to extend an apology...Unfortunately, in meaning to convey my frustration about the erronenous coverage of one particular story, the statement I made came out much differently than I intended. I understand well the enormous dangers that you face, and want to restate my admiration for your professionalism, dedication, and, yes, courage. I pray that you all return safely.
Change the channel.Brig. Gen. Mark Kimmitt's advice to Iraqis who see TV images of innocent civilians killed by coalition troops
I wish I could be my usual smartass self, but when I read things like this and this, I just want to cry - or scream. Juan Cole:
Az-Zaman reports that telephone calls with residents of Mosul reveal that the guerrillas who took control of the city's streets the day before yesterday have burned all the police stations in the city and have released from jails all the criminals that had been incarcerated in them. In the center of Mosul, eyewitnesses said, the offices of government service agencies and economic targets had been set ablaze. A number of shops were attacked and/or looted.
Armed men roamed the streets and manned checkpoints between city quarters. Mosque preachers called on Mosul residents to flood into the streets to protect their quarters and government offices and shops. The main streets seemed deserted. American troops had withdrawn from the center of the city, but maintained control of bridges.
All signs of Iraqi national guardsmen and police had disappeared. The police chief of Ninevah province resigned (other reports say he was fired by the Allawi government).
US military spokesmen denied that guerrillas were in control of the city, and maintained that US troops and Iraqi national guardsmen continued to advance into it. US warplanes repeatedly bombed suspected safe houses of the guerrillas. Guerrillas had killed one American serviceman in Mosul on Thursday.
A $33,000 food order in Mosul was billed to the U.S.-led interim government of Iraq at $432,000. Electricity that cost $74,000 was invoiced at $400,000. Even $10 kettles got a 400 percent markup.
Documents unearthed as part of a whistleblower suit against Fairfax, Va.'s Custer Battles reveal for the first time the extent to which the defense contractor is accused of gouging the Coalition Provisional Authority, which governed Iraq following the U.S. invasion of the country in 2003... read on
BAGHDAD, Iraq - Insurgents struck at Iraqi police with a suicide bomb, a car bomb and mortars in the cities of Mosul and Baqouba on Monday, killing at least 30 people as they pressed their campaign to undermine the fledgling security forces.
The Independent, along with several British and American papers, still covers stories in Baghdad in person, moving with hesitation - not to mention trepidation - through the streets of a city slowly being taken over by insurgents. Only six months ago, it was still possible to leave Baghdad in the morning, drive to Mosul or Najaf or other major cities to cover a story, and return by evening. By August, it was taking me two weeks to negotiate my dubious safety for a mere 80-mile journey outside Baghdad.
I found the military checkpoints on the motorways deserted, the roads lined with smashed American trucks and burnt-out police vehicles. Today, it is almost impossible. Drivers and translators working for newspapers and television companies are threatened with death. Several have asked to be relieved of their duties on 30 January lest they be recognised on the streets during Iraq's elections. In the brutal 1990s war in Algeria, at least 42 local reporters were murdered and a French cameraman was shot dead in the Algiers casbah. But the Algerian security forces could still give a minimum of protection to reporters. In Iraq, they cannot even protect themselves. More
MOSUL, Iraq (CNN) -- A Catholic archbishop was kidnapped Monday near the northern Iraqi city of Mosul, Iraqi officials said.
Basil George Casmoussa, 66, was outside a private residence on a main road in al-Muhendisin, north of Mosul, when he was taken captive at 5:30 p.m. (9:30 a.m. ET), said Kahsro Goran, deputy governor of Nineveh province....read on