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Monday, December 12, 2005

Atlantic Ocean (Dec. 10, 2005) - Sailors aboard the Nimitz-class aircraft carrier USS Dwight D. Eisenhower (CVN 69) gather on the flight deck to watch as the amphibious transport dock USS San Antonio (LPD 17) sails alongside. San Antonio is the lead ship in the Navy’s newest amphibious transport dock-class of ships. She is scheduled to arrive in her new homeport of Naval Station Norfolk, Va., for the holidays and then will sail to Ingleside, Texas for her commissioning ceremony, Jan. 14, 2006. U.S. Navy photo by Photographer's Mate 3rd Class Christopher B. Long

One Finger at a Time

By Salena Zito
Sunday, December 11, 2005

Iraq is under siege. And, for a moment, it has nothing to do with "insurgents," Saddam meltdowns or weak-kneed U.S. politicians.

This siege is one that your average American is pretty familiar with: that mentally fatiguing final week leading to Election Day.

Iraq resembles a targeted swing state; sophisticated media have taken hold. Savvy radio and television commercials bear a striking similarity to those produced here; political consultants are even advising campaigns on media saturation and how to react to developments.

With campaign signs plastering every vertical surface available, the only thing missing is James Carville or Karl Rove huddled around some candidate in the stretch.

Not too bad for a country that is basically 32 months old.

We need to lay off the negative media-juice and think about this: 32 months ago, the statue of Saddam Hussein came down. Not 32 years ago, not 32 decades ago -- 32 months ago.

Since that statue-toppling day, Iraq has shifted light-years away from a crushing dictatorship -- a brutal regime that suspended or perverted every institution of national life. No real political or judicial system existed.

If the significance of that does not resonate yet, consider this: Iraqis have held an election, drafted a constitution, ratified it and, on Thursday, will hold another election to set up a permanent government.

All accomplished in 32 months.

All under the constant threat of violence.

Next time you consider not voting because it's inconvenient, remember the courage of the Iraqis.

As deputy chief of mission at the U.S. Embassy in Baghdad, Ambassador David Satterfield has a front-row seat to this birth of democracy. He told me in a telephone interview from Baghdad that he anticipates an "extremely broad" turnout at the polls, including Sunnis.

"Unlike the election in January, when the Sunni community almost completely boycotted the election, Sunnis now show a growing desire to participate in the political process," he said.

"Iraqis, like Americans, need an inclusive, participatory political process, and that is exactly what has been developing here."

With Sunnis now peacefully taking part, democracy is moving forward.

Political debate inside the Beltway has kept the average American unaware of the progress in Iraq. And time has dulled our recollection of our own struggle toward a democratic republic.

We've forgotten our fights over the Articles of Confederation and the Constitution, the Whiskey Rebellion and that messy little War of 1812.

And the Civil War? That stain on our history reverberates to this day.

Similarities between our founding patriots and the Iraqis are not lost upon Satterfield:

"The terrorists' outrages have had no effect on the ability of the Iraqi security services to recruit and they have no effect on people willing to serve in government."

Iraqis continue to move forward, he insists, just as our own patriots did, with a stiff spine and a strong resolve.

Yet politics has buried the successes in Iraq. John Kerry is the perfect example of a verbal bomb-thrower. We expect the inane from Howard Dean, but Kerry should just plain know better.

Once again, we are knee-deep in negativity. But a positive movement is afoot and it will be interesting to see if our nation buys into its simple message.

A grassroots organization -- Purple Finger for Freedom -- is encouraging solidarity with Iraqis by asking Americans to sport a purple finger, imitating the ink stains used to mark voters who brave the gunfire and other dangers in that beleaguered country.

Ambassador Satterfield appreciates the gesture. "I think any recognition by the American people of the courage and commitment of Iraqis to the democratic process is a very welcome thing."

On Thursday, Iraq's Election Day, we should consider the successes there -- one finger at a time.

Salena Zito is a Trib editorial page columnist.

I tell you, the more I read of Salena's stuff, the more I like.
by Spc. Danielle Howard
December 12, 2005
Tankers from 2nd Battalion, 34th Armor Regiment, return to Camp Warhorse in their M1 Abrams tanks after assisting Iraqi forces, who secured Route Cheyenne, leading into the city of Udaim.

2005 Weblog Awards

Don't miss your chance to vote for your favorites in the 2005 Weblog Awards.

Running from December 5th through the 15th, the Awards feature the following categories:

Best Blog
Best New Blog
Best Group Blog
Best Humor/Comics Blog
Best Liberal Blog
Best Conservative Blog
Best Media/Journalist Blog
Best Technology Blog
Best Culture/Gossip Blog
Best Sports Blog
Best Photo Blog
Best LGBT Blog
Best Military Blog
Best Blog Design
Best Podcast ***
Best Video Blog***
Best Religious Blog***
Best Parenting Blog ***
Best Law Blog ***
Best Business Blog ***

Best Canadian Blog
Best UK Blog

Best European Blog (Non UK)
Best Asian Blog
Best Middle East or Africa Blog
Best Australia or New Zealand Blog
Best Latino, Caribbean, or South American Blog

Ecosystem Based
Best of the Top 250 Blogs
Best of the Top 251 - 500 Blogs
Best of the Top 501 - 1000 Blogs
Best of the Top 1001 - 1750 Blogs
Best of the Top 1751 - 2500 Blogs
Best of the Top 2501 - 3500 Blogs
Best of the Top 3501 - 5000 Blogs
Best of the Top 5001 - 6750 Blogs
Best of the Top 6751 - 8750 Blogs
Best of the Rest of the Blogs (8751+)

*** New categories for 2005.

Don't miss the daily Weblog Award Notes for the latest news and behind the scenes commentary on the operation of The Weblog Awards.

Questions? Read the FAQ first, then try the general support thread at Wizbang.

Points of Note:
You can vote once a day in each category

The Best Blog category features blogs like Mudville Gazette, Powerline, and Michelle Malkin.

The Best Milblog category features too many of my favorites to mention - go vote!

The LGBT category features "Gay Patriot," who has generously stated he'll donate a dollar for each vote received (up to $2,000) to Soldiers' Angels.

Holly Aho's blog is also nominated - in the Best New Blog category

"David's Medienkritik" is nominated in the Best European Blog (Non-UK) category - David was instrumental in getting a German political candidate to stop using a political campaign ad showing coffins draped with US flags being loaded off a military airplane with the headline, "If Angela Merkel were Chancellor, these would be your sons and daughters."
C-17 Ship formation
OVER TEXAS (AFPN) -- C-17 Globemaster IIIs fly in a formation. The flight from Charleston Air Force Base, S.C. to Biggs Army Air Field, Texas was the largest C-17 formation ever to fly across the country. (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Matthew Hannen)
Click on image for larger version

Time Magazine: Best Photos of 2005

A number of this year's most newsworthy events are featured in Time Magazine's special - the Best Photographs of 2005, and you can view them all at the Time Magazine website.

Among the photographs that made the cut were several of American Troops: a Soldier from the 1-14 Infantry in Mosul; Marines tending to the flag-draped coffin of fallen Hero 2nd Lt. James Cathey (featured in this story); and wounded Hero US Army SPC Matthew Braddock

Also covered are the Iraq elections, the hurricanes in the U.S., the earthquake in Pakistan, and the Asian Tsunami.

You can vote for your favorite. It is definitely worth your time to check these out.
IRON HAMMER — U.S. Marines from Company G, Battalion Landing Team 2nd Battalion, 1st Marines, convoy through Hit, Iraq, at the conclusion of an offensive sweep through the area, Dec. 2, 2005. The ground combat element of the 13th Marine Expeditionary Unit (Special Operations Capable) patrolled a portion of the Euphrates River Valley during Operation Iron Hammer in search of insurgents. U.S. Marine Corps photo by Cpl. Andy Hurt

In Today's News - Monday, December 12, 2005

Quote of the Day
"When an American says that he loves his country, he means not only that he loves the New England hills, the prairies glistening in the sun, the wide and rising plains, the great mountains, and the sea. He means that he loves an inner air, an inner light in which freedom lives and in which a man can draw the breath of self-respect."
-- Adlai Stevenson

News of Note
Operation Iraqi Freedom
Head Start - Patients, soldiers, prisoners begin voting in Iraq elections
Iraq to Close Borders During Elections
Onetime rebel leader now part of political scene
U.S. Forces Dealing With Different Enemy in Anbar

Operation Enduring Freedom
Troops Assist Afghans With Hajj Journey

Homeland Security / War on Terror
Egypt Terror Suspect Faces Trial in Italy
Tough immigration bill up for vote
Radical delights in American's death
Bin Laden's No. 2 says help needed from all Muslims

Welcome Home!
Texas Guard Troops Back From Iraq

Time reporter tipped lawyer to Rove role

Supreme Court
Frist says he's prepared to block Democrats if they seek to filibuster Alito

Crime-fighting Banana Boy gets busted
Whales, dolphins die in Cape Cod Bay
Bank robbery doesn't pay off the 2nd or 3rd time, either
Disabled woman has scooter stolen -- again

Fox News
Japan Eases U.S. Beef Ban
Firecracker Kills 40 Wedding Guests on Pakistan Bus
U.K. Oil Depot Blasts Injure 43
Frist Predicts Deal on Torture- Transcript: Frist on 'FNS'
Quake Hits Papua New Guinea
Anti-Immigration Groups Targeting Businesses
'Narnia' Tops Box Office
Iran Offers U.S. Reactor Deal
Pope: Xmas Too Commercial- Bushes Attend Pageant
Volcano Refugees Sickened
FEMA: Hardest-Hit Katrina Victims Can Stay in Hotels
Tookie Lawyer Seeks Stay- Video: Clemency Sought
Stocks to Watch: Viacom, GM

Reuters: Top News
Car bomb kills anti-Syrian MP Tueni in Beirut
Jaguar not for sale: Ford's European head
Delta, pilots reach tentative deal
Paramount to buy DreamWorks
Britain says has no record of CIA detainee flights
Iraqi search of Baghdad jail reveals torture: paper
Bomb blast at Greek Economy Ministry injures two Video
Fire crews given go-ahead to tackle UK blaze Video
French police detain 20 Islamist suspects in swoop
Second Time reporter testifies in CIA leak case
Still no Schwarzenegger word on gang leader's fate
US Senate leader says Alito vote may need rules change
S.Korea stem cell pioneer back in lab, inquiry due
'Elvis' woodpecker draws searchers to Arkansas

AP World News
Firemen Try to Extinguish British Oil Fire
Racial Unrest Strikes Australia
Explosion Kills Three in Beirut
Abuse Discovered at Iraq Detention Center
Iran Offers U.S. Share in Nuclear Plants
Blast Damages Buildings in Central Athens
Investigators Search Site of Nigeria Crash
Annan Gets Latest Report on Hariri Killing
Michelle Bachelet Holds Lead in Chile Vote
Israeli Defense Minister Leaves Likud
Calif. High Court Refuses Williams' Stay
Some Kashmir Quake Survivors Burned Books
China Detains Commander in Protest Deaths
Still No Word on Fate of Iraq Hostages
Iraq Vote Could Spur Withdrawal Timetable
Al-Qaida Leader Praises Taliban Attacks
Powerful Quake Hits Papua New Guinea

The Seattle Times
Iraq vote for new parliament to begin along with curfews
Huge fire still burning after blasts rock fuel depot north of London
More hospitals reusing one-time devices, despite warnings
What happens to a gang member fortunate enough to grow old?
Atlanta anthem not music to all ears
Pigs hog spotlight in college course
Tsunami aftermath: babies
No need for more oil, OPEC chief says
One-time prisoner leads Chilean presidential vote
North Pole holds treasures, clashes for several nations
Italian pols increasingly turn to showbiz to stay in the public eye
Investigators study airplane's controls
No cause yet of Nigeria crash that killed 107 on DC-9

Chicago Sun-Times
City won't let retired cops carry concealed guns
It's not just cold -- it's a record
California tsunami could threaten 1 million people
American among dead in Nigerian crash
$42,000 boat stuck in ice drifts down St. Croix River
Dry times for Ohio sports bar
Creator of fake Wikipedia entry apologizes
Former 'Sopranos' actor faces murder charges
Woman can't avoid runoff in Chilean voting

Boston Globe: World
Maine governor wins deal to sell farm goods in Cuba
Disputed candidates stay on Iraq ballot
Senators Unsure of Withdrawal
The Battle Over Benefits

CENTCOM: News Releases

Department of Defense
Conditions Set for Successful Election - Story
Iraqis Have Lead in Election Security
Poll Shows Nine in 10 Iraqis Want to Vote - Story
Rice: Support for Democracy Is 'Realistic' - Story

Iraqi Soccer Win Sparks Celebratory Fusillade - Story

Memorial to Honor Fallen Troops - Story
Group Sends Holiday Gifts to Troops

Six U.S. Soldiers Die
Iraqis Convict Terrorists
Iraq Daily Update
This Week in Iraq (pdf)
Multinational Force Iraq
Eye on Iraq Update (pdf)
State Dept. Weekly Iraq Report (pdf)
'Boots on the Ground' Audio Archive
Iraq Reconstruction

Afghanistan Daily Update

Fact Sheet: War on Terror
Fact Sheet: Terror Plots Disrupted
Waging and Winning the War on Terror
Terrorism Timeline
Terrorism Knowledge Base

Technology Helps Send Greetings
National Guard, Reserve Update

Officials Identify Army Casualties - Story

Al Azamiyah Al Basrah Al Hillah Al Karkh Al Kazimiyah Al Kut An Nasiriyah Baghdad Baqubah Mosul Najaf Nineveh Tall Kayf

Bost/Laskar Ghurian Herat Kabul Qandahar


National Hurricane Center

Today in History
0627 - Battle at Nineveh: Byzantine emperor Heraclius beats Perzen
1098 - 1st Crusaders capture & plunder Mara Syria
1474 - Isabella crowns herself queen of Castile & Aragon
1479 - Jews are expelled from Schlettstadt Alsace by Emperor Frederick III
1524 - Pope Clement VII approves Organization of Jewish Community of Rome
1653 - Barebone-parliament ends
1677 - Brandenburgs army occupies Stettin
1715 - Russian/Prussian troops occupy Stralsund
1777 - Reverend Benjamin Russen executed at Tyburn, England for rape
1787 - Pennsylvania becomes 2nd state to ratify US constitution
1791 - Bank of the US opens
1792 - In Vienna, Ludwig van Beethoven (21) receives 1st lesson in music composition from Franz Joseph Haydn
1800 - Washington, DC established as capital of US
1822 - México officially recognized as an independent nation by US
1858 - 1st Canadian coins circulated (1¢, 5¢, 10¢ & 20¢)
1862 - Battle of Dumfries, VA; Naval Engagement at Yazoo River, MS (USS Cairo torpedoed)
1870 - Joseph Rainey (South Carolina) becomes the first Black sworn into House of Representatives
1871 - Jules Janssen discovers dark lines in solar corona spectrum
1897 - Anti-Jewish violence breaks out in Bucharest Romania; Rudolph Dirks' 1st Katzenjammer cartoon strip in New York Journal
1899 - George F. Grant of Boston (first black graduate of Harvard College, and a dentist) patents the wooden golf tee; 1st case of plague on Oahu, HI
1901 - Marconi receives 1st transatlantic radio signal, England to US
1903 - Roger Casement completes report about abuses in Belgian Congo
1906 - Oscar Straus, 1st Jewish cabinet member, appointed Secretary of Commerce
1913 - "Mona Lisa", recovered after being stolen from the Louvre Museum in 1911; Hebrew language officially used to teach in Palestinian schools
1915 - 1st all-metal aircraft (Junkers J.1) test flown at Dessau Germany; Aristide Briand forms French war government; Russian troops overrun Hamadan, Persia
1917 - Worst train disaster (derailment near mouth of Mount Cenis tunnel) ever (Modane France-543 French troops killed); Reverend Edward Flanagan founds Boys Town outside Omaha NE
1925 - Arthur Heinman coins term "motel", opens Motel Inn, San Luis Obispo; Last Qajar Shah of Iran deposed; Rexa Shah Pahlavi takes over; Cossack officer/ex-premier Reza Chan becomes shah of Persia
1930 - Baseball Rules Committee greatly revises the rule book, when a ball bounces into stands now a double, not a homerun
1931 - Japanese Government of Imukai forms
1932 - USSR & China resume diplomatic relations
1936 - Chinese leader Chiang Kai-shek declares war on Japan
1937 - Japanese aircraft shell & sink US gunboat Panay on Yangtze River in China. (Japan apologized & eventually paid US $2.2 million in reparations); NBC & RCA send the 1st mobile-TV vans onto the streets of New York
1939 - Soviet prison ship Indigirka, carrying 2,500 prisoners, capsizes in blizzard off Japanese coast; 2,470 die
1940 - British troops conquer Sidi el-Barrani
1941 - German occupying army do a house search in Paris looking for Jews; European reservists on Java mobilize; Russian 20th army recaptures Soljetsjnogorsk
1942 - German offensive in South Western Stalingrad
1945 - Special Court of justice convicts NSB-leader Mussert; sentenced to death
1946 - Ice plant collapses, shearing a tenement building & burying 38; UN accepts 6 Manhattan blocks as a gift from John D Rockefeller, Jr.; Tide detergent introduced
1947 - United Mine Workers union withdrew from AFL
1951 - Joe DiMaggio announces his retirement
1953 - Chuck Yeager reaches Mach 2.43 in Bell X-1A rocket plane
1955 - 1st prototype of hovercraft patented by British engineer Christoper Cockerell
1957 - US announces manufacture of Borazon (harder than diamond); rocker Jerry Lee Lewis weds his cousin Myra Gale Brown, 13, while still married to his 1st wife, Jane Mitcham; Major Adrian Drew flies 1,943 kph in F-101 Voodoo
1958 - Dutch social democratic party-ministers/premier Drees dismissed
1959 - UN Committee on Peaceful Use of Outer Space is established
1961 - Ham radio satellite Oscar 1 launched with military Discoverer 36; Martin Luther King Jr & 700 demonstrators arrested in Albany GA
1963 - Frank Sinatra, Jr., is returned after being kidnapped; Argentina asks for extradition of ex-President Peron; Kenya (formerly British East Africa) declares independence from UK
1967 - US launches Pioneer 8 into solar orbit
1968 - Arthur Ashe becomes the first African-American to be ranked #1 in tennis
1969 - Bomb attack on bank in Milan, 14 killed
1970 - Small Astronomy Satellite Explorer 42 launched to study X-rays
1973 - Canada begins selling Olympic coins ($5 & $10 silver coins)
1975 - Gas stove explodes & starts fire killing 138 (Mecca Saudi Arabia); Sara Jane Moore pleads guilty to trying to kill President Gerald Ford
1979 - Rhodesia becomes the independent nation of Zimbabwe
1980 - US's copyright law amended to include computer programs
1981 - Gambia & Senegal sign agreement to be known as Senegambia in Feb 1982
1982 - $9,800,000 in cash stolen from money transport car in New York NY
1983 - A truck bomb explodes at the US Embassy in Kuwait
1985 - 248 US soldiers & 8 crew members die in Arrow Air DC-8 charter crash (Gander, Newfoundland); NASA launches space vehicle S-207
1986 - Microlite aircraft circles world non-stop; Russian Tupolev-134 crashes in East Berlin, 70 killed; South African journalist Zwelakhe Sisulu arrested
1988 - PLO leader Yasser Arafat accepts Israel's right to exist
1990 - US ambassador to Kuwait, Nathaniel Howell, leaves Kuwait; US accuses Iraq of dragging its feet on dates for talks
1991 - Maastricht Treaty signed to create a European Community
1992 - 6.8-7.5 earthquake strikes Flores Island (tsunami kills 3,000)
1993 - Ultra-Nationalists make strong gains in Russian elections
1995 - Amendment to make it illegal to physically desecrate the flag turned down by senate 63-36; Israeli PM Shimon Peres addresses both houses of US Congress
1996 - Assassination attempt on Uday (Iraqi heir - Saddam's son)
1997 - Carlos the Jackal, "professional revolutionary," goes on trial in Paris; Japanese train builders (Maglev) claim world speed record at 332 MPH; SWAT team shoots John E Armstrong in Florida, freeing 2 young hostage; TWA 800 hearings end in Baltimore, MD

- Maximilien de Béthune, Duke of Sully / Baron of Rosny / PM of France
1673 - Ahmed III, 23rd sultan (Turkey, 1703-30)
1712 - Charles Alexander, Duke of Lotharingen
1745 - John Jay, diplomat (NY-Governor)
1792 - Alexandros Ypsilanti, Greek resistance fighter
1805 - Henry Wells, founder (American Express Company / Wells Fargo & Company); William Lloyd Garrison, abolitionist publisher (The Liberator)
1806 - Stand Watie, Confederate Brigadier-General
1818 - Paul Octave Hebert, Confederate Brigadier-General
1821 - Gustave Flaubert Rouen, novelist (Madame Bovary)
1830 - Joseph Orville Shelby, Confederate Brigadier-General
1832 - Abraham C. Wertheim, Dutch banker/MP
1833 - Matthias Hohner, German manufacturer (harmonica)
1838 - Sherburne W. Burnham, US astronomer (binary stars)
1848 - William Vanderbilt, yachtsman (donated Vanderbilt Cup)
1859 - Edward Bradley, racehorse owner (1st to own 4 Kentucky Derby winners)
1863 - Edvard Munch Norway, painter/print maker (The Scream)
1866 - Alfred Werner, Swiss chemist (Nobel 1913)
1879 - Friedrich Christiansen, Nazi commander, Wehrmacht, Netherlands
1913 - Jesse Owens, US track star who spoiled Hitler's Olympics (4 golds in 1936)
1922 - Arthur R. Hawkins, US pilot/captain (WWII, downed 14 Japanese planes)
1924 - Edward I. Koch, (Mayor-NY, 1977-89)/judge (People's Court)
1946 - Emerson Fittipaldi, Indy-car racer (over 10 wins)
1951 - Steven Alan Hawley, Ph.D. / astronaut (STS 41-D, STS 61-C, STS 31, STS 82)
1952 - Cathy Rigby McCoy, gymnast (Olympics-4th-1968, 1972)
1959 - Scott D. Vangen, astronaut

0884 - Carloman, co-king of France (879, 882-884)
1112 - Tancred, monarch of Galilea/Edessa/Antioch
1204 - Maimonides, (Moses Ben Maimon), Jewish philosopher/talmudic scholar, dies in Cairo at 69
1263 - Hakon IV Gamli, King of Norway (1217-63), dies
1600 - John Craig, Scottish church reformer/James VI's court vicar
1677 - Jacob Binckes/Benckes, Dutch admiral (Chatham), dies in battle
1843 - Willem I, Frederik King of Netherlands (1814-40), dies at 71
1872 - Willem A. Schimmelpenninck van der Oye, Dutch politician, dies at 72
1877 - José M. de Alencar, Brazilian writer/minister of Justice, dies at 48
1912 - Luitpold von Bayern, prince-regent of Bayern, dies at 91
1961 - Daiun Sogaku, Harada Zen founder of Sanbo Kyodan lineage, dies at 91
1971 - David Sarnoff, US TV pioneer (RCA), dies at 80; Jack Barnhill, Northern Ireland senator, assassinated
1988 - John Canning, "New York Post" managing editor, dies at 56
1993 - Gerard "Gé" Nabrink Dutch anarchist/NVSH-founder, dies at 90; Jozsef Antall, historian/premier of Hungary (1990-93), dies at 61
1994 - Antoine Pinay, French PM (1952)/foreign minister, dies at 102; Stuart Allen Roosa, astronaut (Apollo 14), dies of pancreatitis at 46
1995 - David Lincoln Lightbown, politician, dies at 63; David Saul Marshall, diplomat lawyer/politician, dies at 97; James Altgens, JFK assassination photographer, dies at 76

Reported Missing in Action
Angell, Marshall J., US Army (VA); CH37B shot down (flight engineer)

Flesher, Hubert K., USAF (WV); F4C shot down, released by DRV February, 1973 - retired as a Lt. Colonel - alive as of 1998

Duckett, Thomas A., USAF (GA); O2A shot down (w/Skinner)

Skinner, Owen G., USAF (OH); O2A shot down (w/Duckett)