“The real problem is not that we are different, nor that we disagree and have conflict. It's that most of us automatically view conflict as something negative rather than as a tool God can use to help us better understand ourselves and one another.

--Robert Ricciardelli”

Wednesday, January 03, 2007

01/03 Morning Report

After the “hew and cry” over the validity of the Lancet Study last year, it’s interesting that this report shows there were only about 12,000 civilian casualties in 2006. UN sources put the figure about double that amount. Now, I agree that either number is large—and heartbreaking. I’m also not saying something(s) shouldn’t be done to stop it. Thought I would comment by saying most died as a result of sectarian violence—extremists trying to intimidate people into accepting their way. The point I am focusing on is the Lancet Study had the number pegged several multiples above that number. The primary argument against the study is the volume of dead bodies that would have needed disposing of. No one has ever succeeded in answering the question of where over 200,000 bodies a year have been placed. The encouraging point in the article for the US was:

In the third full year since the U.S.-led invasion, only about half as many Iraqi soldiers died in 2006 as American troops, the government reported Tuesday.
But the number of Iraqi security forces killed jumped to 1,539 - nearly double the American death count of 823 for the year - when the deaths of police, who conduct paramilitary operations, are added to the number of slain Iraqi soldiers.
The truth is finally coming out that the Iraqis are stepping up and taking hits for their own people.

Meanwhile, in Somalia, the Kenyans are trying to secure their borders. The goal is to keep Islamic extremists from escaping across the border. There has been one mistaken shooting at Kenyan troops, but no casualties. There have also been 10 out of 11 surrenders of jihadists who stayed behind to start a guerilla operation. The 11th was killed while trying to shoot Ethiopian troops.

In Europe, there is growing dissatisfaction with the Euro. It isn’t just the newer members, and waiting hopefuls.
While the European Union’s newcomers grapple with whether to join the euro club, those already in are having their own doubts. In Italy, France and the Netherlands, there has been a public backlash against a perceived rise in prices since the euro’s introduction.
. (…imagine…the “unifying currency” of Europe is driving inflation…what a surprise…)

And, yes, I linked that in from the NY Times. And, yes, I did it knowing about the terrible editorial standards. I just read a lot more carefully now. Between the NYT and the Jamil Hussein mis…uummm…dis-information and all of CNN’s tricks it leaves you wondering if there are any media sources we can trust.

Back to the subject of border security, Mexico is deploying more troops to the US border around Tijuana. This is in addition to the troops sent earlier to the western state of Michoacan, bringing the total to some 10,000. In recent raids, everything from armored vests to military and police uniforms has been confiscated. But, the most worrisome report came almost three weeks ago. It seems that numbers of Mexican troops are guarding drug shipments. Using photographs and other evidence, local and even federal enforcement agents have shot holes in the US government’s denials of this.
(…I hate to admit it, but given the trend of Congress I don’t look for this to change much…)

There was one possibly encouraging piece of news on the drug front. Drug murders in Columbia are at their lowest level in two years. Rebels and drug cartels are still a major issue in the nation. But, the real problem is likely to be the increasingly anti-US position of neighboring nations. Peru and Venezuela are taking less and less of an active role in regional anti-drug efforts.