Saturday, March 05, 2005

Freed Italian Hostage Recalls U.S. Shooting

ROME (Reuters) - Freed Italian hostage Giuliana Sgrena described on Saturday how U.S. forces sprayed her car with bullets as it neared safety in Iraq, wounding her and killing the man who had secured her release moments earlier.

U.S. forces at a checkpoint opened fire as the car carrying Sgrena neared Baghdad airport on Friday after she was released by the militants who had held her captive for more than a month.

Sgrena, a 57-year-old award-winning war reporter, returned to Rome on Saturday and looked in pain as she was helped off a government plane and into an ambulance.

"We thought the danger was over after my release to the Italians but all of a sudden there was this shoot-out, we were hit by a barrage of bullets," she told RAI TV by telephone.

Nicola Calipari, the senior secret service agent who had worked for her release, was telling her about what had been going on in Italy since her capture when the shooting started.

"He leaned over me, probably to protect me, and then he slumped down, and I saw he was dead," said Sgrena.

The U.S. military said its forces fired because the car was speeding toward their checkpoint.

The incident could rekindle anti-war sentiment in Italy, where public opinion opposed the U.S.-led invasion of Iraq, and opposition parties could use the shooting to challenge the government.

It has caused the worst fall out in years between the United States and Italy, with Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi taking the rare step of summoning the U.S. ambassador for an explanation.

click title to watch below video

- Journalist's Partner Speaks Out
- Sgrena Happy To Be Free
- US Attacks Freed Italian Hostage

Tuesday, March 01, 2005

Report criticizes interim Iraq government

Seattle Post-Intelligencer: AP - Middle East: "WASHINGTON -- Serious human rights abuses occurred under the interim Iraqi government installed by the United States after the overthrow of Saddam Hussein, including torture, illegal detention by police and forced confessions, according to a State Department report.

Though the interim government did reverse 'a long legacy of serious human rights abuses' under Saddam, the report said that 'corruption at all levels of government remained a problem' during the period and Iraqis continued to be victimized by police, courts and others in authority.

Iraqi officials were correcting these practices, the report said. It said the January elections and continuing struggle against insurgent violence had helped 'create momentum for the improvement of human rights practices.'"

Monday, February 28, 2005 Suicide Bomb Kills 115 Near Iraq Marketplace

"HILLA, Iraq (Reuters) - A suicide bomber detonated a car near a crowded marketplace south of Baghdad Monday, killing 115 people and wounding 148 in the single bloodiest attack in Iraq since the fall of Saddam Hussein.

The bomber rammed the car into a crowd of people queuing for government jobs outside a health center in the town of Hilla, 100 km (62 miles) south of the capital. Many of those killed were shopping at stalls across the road and caught in the blast.

Reuters television footage showed a pile of bloodied bodies outside the building. Smoke rose from the wreckage of burned-out market stalls as bystanders loaded mangled corpses on to wooden carts, usually used to carry fruit and vegetables. "

A video image shows Iraqis standing in debris and rising smoke February 28, 2005 following a suicide car bomb south of Baghdad. The attack near a crowded marketplace in Hilla killed 115 people and wounded 148 in the single bloodiest attack in Iraq since the fall of Saddam Hussein. Photo by Reuters

Sunday, February 27, 2005

Jerry Brown - Now Blogging

Jerry Brown

Check out Jerry Brown's (Mayor Oakland, CA) new blog. The blog has logged 20,000 hits in six days.

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Brown blasts into blogosphere with swipe at critics
Phillip Matier, Andrew Ross
San Francisco Chronicle

The blog was picked up on the popular "Instapundit'' site. Within 24 hours, the mayor's missive had logged more than 7,000 hits, and dozens of comments ... some flattering, some not, and some just plain funny.

Among them:

"Why are you wasting time with a blog when you have a city falling apart around you?'' asked fellow blogosphere traveler Tman. "I sold my house in Oakland last year to escape your horrid administration.''

On the other hand, Joe S. wrote, "Wow, I thought you were a nut and off the map. After reading these comments, I think I will erase that part of my brain and re-evaluate.''

And then there was Celeste F., who wrote, "Hey Jerry, have you tried pot yet? ... Never had the pleasure of meeting you, but if you want to hang and chill, I always have great herb and excellent trips trips on politics.''

Blogger Flap advised: "Make this blog 'real' and people will read it. Keep on sounding like a press release and it (soon) will be ignored.'' (more)

Promoting a ''do as I say, not as I do'' view of democracy

Promoting a ''do as I say, not as I do'' view of democracy

I fear that something President Bush said last week might be taken out of context by the liberal media and used to influence the most naïve and susceptible among us, including schoolchildren and Arizona politicians. Though not necessarily in that order.

Standing next to Russian President Vladimir Putin at a news conference, Bush said, "Democracies have certain things in common. They have a rule of law, and protection of minorities, a free press, and a viable political opposition."

I'd guess that when the president mentioned "protection of minorities" it sent chills down the spines of Arizona legislators (or would have if they had any). Our politicians recently passed House Concurrent Memorial 2005, an "official postcard" to Congress urging its members to discriminate against a minority by promoting a constitutional amendment banning gay marriage.