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September 17, 2007

Page 14: There's A Big Sale on Sears Craftmatic Adjustible Wrenches

Survey: Most Americans Love Jake, Hate The Fat Man


There's also this. Shhh. We don't want to wake up public opinion; it's having itself a little nap.

U.S. combat deaths in Iraq for the last month have dropped by more than two-thirds compared with October of last year, while the total death toll has been reduced almost 50 percent since September.

An analysis by Cybercast News Service, based on Pentagon casualty reports, reflects a steady decline in the casualties, which the U.S. military says represents progress in Iraq.

...

"I don't want to be too optimistic and say we turned a corner," Danielson told Cybercast News Service. "But success breeds success. The more havens we are able to find, the more encouraged Iraqi citizens will be to come forward and help us find people."

October reportedly marks the fifth consecutive month of decline in deaths, and the lowest rate of casualties since March 2006. As of Oct. 28, 31 American military casualties in Iraq were reported by the Department of Defense -- 25 of these were combat-related.

That's compared to the first 28 days of October 2006, when the Pentagon reported 90 U.S. military casualties, 86 of which were combat-related. That''s a 71 percent drop in combat deaths from October 2006 compared with October 2007.

This October also showed a 48 percent reduction from last month's total deaths, as the first 28 days of September saw 60 casualties, 38 from combat. That''s a 34 percent reduction in combat deaths.


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In addition there's an Anbar-style "awakening" now going on in Taji.

"(The Taji Awakening) involves all the sheiks (in Taji), both Sunni and Shi'a. Over the period of four weeks now, it has gathered momentum," Burke said. "The movement here has become dynamic."

He said that the largest gathering of Sunni and Shi'a sheiks in Iraq occurred on Aug. 20 in the Taji area and that the terrorist forces in the area are now "on the run" because of the sectarian reconciliation. As a result, the overall quality of life in rural North Baghdad Province has improved, with marketplaces "flourishing" and critical infrastructure needs being met, according to Burke.

Col. Mike Bridges, who heads up the governance section of the EPRT, concurs with Burke that progress has been made, but specifies that the reconciliation starts at the local level. "It really did start with our brigade commander's philosophy in engaging the senior tribal sheiks," said Bridges. He added that the brigade commander tired of his soldiers getting hurt and of good local people being terrorized when they tried to make changes in their community. The changes in Taji began with a simple outreach program using fliers to promote the idea of Iraqi national unity against terrorism with the support of Americans.

Col. Bridges said that the sheiks realized this year that they really were neighbors who have lived together for a very long time. They are now using their traditional roles to bring about the sectarian reconciliation.

"It's been building momentum," he said. "More and more of them are saying 'Hmm. (Al-Qaeda in Iraq) is just a few guys. This is our home.' They're coming together and are looking for some kind of means to make this legitimate. The first (reconciliation meeting) I went to was only a dozen sheiks. The next one was 120. I didn't go to the next one, but our boss, Mr. Burke, did, and there were 1,000 Sunni and Shi'a tribal leaders together under one tent. Their family members were wearing T-shirts that said 'One Iraq, Stop Sectarianism, Stop the Violence.'"

Col. Bridges finished by saying that the troop surge is essential to the reconciliation of the Iraqi Sunni and Shi'a communities. According to Bridges, before the surge, soldiers would visit communities and then leave, whereas now they are embedded in the communities, empowering them to fight terrorism in Iraq.

"The surge has only been really in effect for two months," Bridges says. "It took all that time in the spring to get all the surge troops on the ground. They had to get oriented to the communities and neighborhoods that they were operating in. You have to give them time to affect the surge."

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And this is several days old now, but tribal leaders kidnapped by jihadis have been quickly freed thanks to tips from locals.

Just 24 hours after the capture of 11 Sunni and Shia tribal leaders in northern Baghdad, the Iraqi Army has freed eight of the sheikhs. Meanwhile, Multinational Forces Iraq has identified the Mahdi Army commander responsible for the kidnappings and has begun to name other Mahdi Army leaders as being involved in criminal and insurgent activity.

Iraqi soldiers conducted the raid in a yet-to-be-identified region near Baghdad, likely with the aid of US Special Forces and killed four of the kidnappers. "We have rescued eight of the hostages and are working to free the others. We killed four of the kidnappers," Defense Ministry spokesman Mohammed al Askari said.

POETRY CORNER

"Kitten Piss and Tuna Fish"

Kitten Piss and Tuna Fish
smell alot alike, it's nifty!
Some may say coincidence
But I think God is thrifty!

You should also know that you can now get Stain-Free Haggard Pants for $60 for two pair. Pretty good, huh?

Rip-offs: I'm 99% sure the Jake and the Fat Man joke is from a Letterman Top Ten. The Kitten Piss poem is from an old National Lampoon, from the Ian Maxtone Graham (sp?) era.


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