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Signs of the Times for Mon, 20 Mar 2006

Associated Press
March 19, 2006
WASHINGTON - President Bush marked the anniversary of the
Iraq war Sunday by touting the efforts to build democracy there and avoiding any mention of the daily violence that rages three years after he ordered an invasion.

The president didn't utter the word "war."

"We are implementing a strategy that will lead to victory in Iraq," the president assured a public that is increasingly skeptical that he has a plan to end the fighting after the deaths of more than 2,300 U.S. troops.

Click to Expand Article 2006-03-20 02:10:26
WASHINGTON, March 19 (Xinhua) -- On the third anniversary of the Iraq war, the top commander of U.S. forces in Iraq said Sunday that U.S. troops will likely remain there for a few more years though the number will be reduced.

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By Michael Slenske
Smith Magazine
17 Mar 06
"I don't harbor any ill feelings toward the Marine Corps. I learned valuable, intangible traits when I was in there-self-confidence, self-discipline. But in the back of my mind is that the reason they taught me these intangible traits was to turn me into a killer. And they succeeded."

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By Mike Whitney
Information Clearing House
17 Mar 06
It's impossible to understand the goals of the Bush administration without looking at a map. The entire Middle East and Central Asia is referred to in military parlance as CENTCOM; the central battlefield in the global resource war. This region extends from Sudan in the south to Kazakhstan to the north; from Egypt in the west to Pakistan in the east. This is where the vast majority of the world's remaining resources lie and it will continue to be the primary area of focus for American foreign policy throughout the century.

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The Salt Lake Tribune
03/19/2006 3:37 AM MST
By the time the war protesters began their march Saturday morning in Salt Lake City, only about 50 people had gathered. Their numbers had swelled to about 200 by noon - and that was with a little high-tech help from a marcher who text-messaged friends to join him.

The early low turnout was discouraging to some, such as Susan Westergard of Holladay.

"There's just about more policemen here than people," said the Democratic candidate for the Utah House of Representatives in District 40, nodding to the squadron of eight motorcycle officers parked alongside 400 South. "I guess the longer the war goes on, the more people accept it."

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Mar 17, 2006
Four Black Hawk helicopters landed in a wheat field and dropped off a television crew, three photographers, three print reporters and three Iraqi government officials right into the middle of Operation Swarmer. Iraqi soldiers in newly painted humvees, green and red Iraqi flags stenciled on the tailgates, had just finished searching the farm populated by a half-dozen skinny cows and a woman kneading freshly risen dough and slapping it to the walls of a mud oven.

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16 Mar 06
A Kurdish source in Baghdad has told a Kurdish national daily that the Mahdi Army, the militia of radical Shiite cleric Moqtada al-Sadr, " has set up a shadow government in Sadr City in the centre of Baghdad". The source told the Aso daily: "this group was tasked with carrying out the affairs of the city in the place of the Iraqi government and institutions." The source explained that the Mahdi Army, accused of kidnappings and sectarian killings, has transformed the rundown Sadr city into an independent district with its security forces and its own courts which do not only judge local residents but also Shiites from other areas of the capital.

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UPI Correspondent
17 Mar 06
One of America's most respected elder national security statesmen called for a full pull-out from Iraq Thursday.

Delivering the keynote address at the Center for American Progress' "Iraq; Next Steps for U.S. Policy," Zbigniew Brzezinski, the former National Security advisor for President Jimmy Carter, said that "within a year we should be able to complete a course of disengagement" and withdraw from Iraq.

Brzezinski cited several reasons for withdrawal, among them the "prohibitively expensive" cost of the war and the fact that American leadership and legitimacy has been severely undermined by the insurgency and damaged credibility.

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By Bill Van Auken
Asian Tribune
17 Mar 06
The farcical trial of Saddam Hussein staged by the Bush administration and its Iraqi puppets was thrown into chaos when the deposed Iraqi president took the witness stand Wednesday.

He used his intervention not to answer the charges laid against him in the court-whose legitimacy he has rejected from the beginning-but to speak directly to the Iraqi people, urging an end to sectarian bloodshed and a continuation of armed resistance to the US occupation of their country.

"My conscience tells me that the great people of Iraq have nothing to do with these strange and horrid acts, the bombing of the shrine of Imam Ali al-Hadi and Hassan al-Askari ... which led to the burning of mosques in Baghdad, which are the houses of God, and the burning of other mosques in other cities of Iraq," Hussein said.

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Democracy Now!
Transmission date: 03/17/06
Almost three years to the day after the war started, a new book titled "Cobra II" details the inside story of the invasion and occupation of Iraq. The book is written by Michael Gordon, chief military correspondent for The New York Times, and retired Marine general Bernard Trainor.

Transcript below.

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Broadcast BBC
15 Mar 06
Following the Iraq war, billions of dollars of Iraq's money was directed to American companies to rebuild the country.

But much of it remains unaccounted for, and Peter Marshall has been investigating startling allegations of post war profiteering.

Andrew Murray
Friday March 17, 2006
The Guardian
Tony Blair's announcement that he will henceforward account only to God for the Iraq war makes perfect sense. Every secular reason he has concocted for the catastrophe has turned out to be the reverse of the truth: there were no weapons of mass destruction, we are less safe from terrorism, the Iraqi people themselves do not want us in their country. No more of his excuses for this epic man-made disaster stand an earthly chance of being believed.

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Associated Press
NewsChannel 15
AL-ASAD, Iraq It's been six months since a grieving Georgia father headed to Iraq to avenge his soldier son's death. And Joe Johnson is ready to come home.

Johnson went to Iraq after his 22-year-old son was killed in a roadside bombing. He says there were a lot of reasons for getting back in the military -- a sense of duty among them. Johnson admits he does not "really have love for Muslim people." And he says he'd be lying if didn't admit wanting some revenge for his son, Justin.

Now, after spending time manning a Humvee's gun, Johnson says he "shouldn't even have come." Johnson says he doesn't want to kill innocent people and won't be upset if he returns to Georgia without any blood on his hands.

Johnson's batallion is due to return home in mid-May.

Copyright 2006 Associated Press.

By Robert Fisk
The Independent
18 Mar 06
It is a bright winter morning and I am sipping my first coffee of the day in Los Angeles. My eye moves like a radar beam over the front page of the Los Angeles Times for the word that dominates the minds of all Middle East correspondents: Iraq. In post-invasion, post-Judith Miller mode, the American press is supposed to be challenging the lies of this war. So the story beneath the headline "In a Battle of Wits, Iraq's Insurgency Mastermind Stays a Step Ahead of US" deserves to be read. Or does it?

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By Christopher Swann in Washington
11:42 p.m. ET March 19, 2006
On the third anniversary of the US-led invasion of Iraq, the US capital's historic protest venues were surprisingly serene on Sunday. Outside the White House tourists had their pictures taken next to a cardboard cut-out of the president, families enjoyed the sun on the Mall and several bored-looking policemen stood guard outside the vice-president's DC home. Not a placard in sight or a chant to be heard.

Americans may have turned decisively against the war in Iraq in recent months, but their change of heart has been largely expressed quietly to pollsters rather than in loud public protests. The micro-protests that have taken place around the third anniversary – including a few hundred who gathered to hear anti-war speeches in the affluent DC neighbourhood of Dupont Circle – pale by comparison with the monster demonstrations against the Vietnam war.

A clue to this curiously low-key response may be found in the bustling shopping centres. Despite the mounting cost of the war in Iraq, the economic consequences have remained relatively contained. There have been no signs of a decline in consumer confidence and no uptick in inflation.

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Associated Press
18 Mar 06
PORTLAND, Ore. -- Protesters marking the third anniversary of the Iraq war made their voices heard around the world, with the largest marches in London, Portland and Chicago, though in numbers that were often lower than in previous years.

About 10,000 anti-war protesters in Portland took nearly an hour to pass through downtown streets Sunday, some carrying signs that said "Impeach the Evildoer."

"It is time now for you to take back your country," said Steven DeFord, whose son, Oregon National Guard Sgt. David Johnson, 37, was killed in Iraq by a roadside bomb in 2004.

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Last Updated Sun, 19 Mar 2006 12:30:26 EST
CBC News
Ayad Allawi, the former interim prime minister of Iraq, says the increasing sectarian attacks across his country can only be described as a "civil war."

"We are losing each day an average of 50 to 60 people throughout the country, if not more. If this is not civil war, then God knows what civil war is," Allawi told BBC television on Sunday, on the third anniversary of the U.S.-led invasion of Iraq.

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