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US Papers Fri: 25 Iraqis, 3 US Troops Killed
Ex-Soldier Gets Life Sentence for Iraq Murders
By DANIEL W. SMITH 05/22/2009 02:00 AM ET
Deadly bombings targeting Iraqis and Americans in uniform are the main topic, but three US soldiers back from the war are looked at prominently – One who is sentenced for a crime, one who has trouble getting back to his old job, and one who was flown back into Dover after being killed by one of his own. Also, China has an oil setback and the first-ever U.S. Embassy Gay Pride Theme Party in Baghdad.

From Baghdad
After the bad news of Wednesday night, Thursday morning brought more, with the targeting of Iraqis and Americans in uniform. There are differing accounts of what caused the blast in Baghdad’s Dora district that killed 12 Iraqis and 3 US soldiers were killed, and several more of both were wounded, as a US foot patrol visited a local Sahwa office. Timothy Williams and Abeer Mohammed of the New York Times mention that members of the Iraqi security forces in the neighborhood said American troops might have set a pattern making them vulnerable by regularly visiting the building once or twice a week. The Sahwa were the target of a bombing in Kirkuk, which killed between seven and nine of them. A police station in Baghdad was the other incident, which injured 12 police and one GI.

Nada Bakri of the Washington Post sets the scene.
In the past months, Iraq has often been beset by a vexing cycle -- lulls in violence that sometimes last weeks, disrupted by bursts of carnage that have claimed hundreds of lives. But these days, anxiety seems to have grown deeper. Under an Iraqi-American agreement, U.S. troops must withdraw from cities by June 30, and many residents worry that violence will mount as they depart.
Gina Chon gives a version much more brief in the Wall Street Journal, making the point, as did the previous stories, that “the attacks add to a wave of violence that has increased tensions in the approach to the scheduled withdrawal of U.S. troops from Iraqi cities by June 30.”

Chon’s brevity can be excused, as she also had a surprisingly interesting story about problems unforeseen by China National Petroleum Corp., who began work in March to develop the Ahdeb oil field in southeastern Iraq. . The Iraqi government and foreign companies are poised to dig right in, “but Iraqis near the country's oil fields may not be ready for them.” There are issues of property rights, damage to nearby houses and farmland, and compensation.
Company officials expected logistical and security challenges in the war-torn country. But two months later, their investment is running into an unexpected obstacle: angry farmers. ...Just a few weeks after CNPC started work in the field in Wasit Province, local farmers came to the site to complain that the company's oil drilling had damaged property. They asked for compensation, and they also asked for security jobs for relatives.
Chon is also good enough to mention, when referring to Saddam Hussein, that he was “the country's former dictator,” for all those people intently reading stories about Chinese oil investment in Iraq who hadn’t heard of him.

Military Matters
James Dao of the New York Times reports that a jury in Kentucky sentenced Steven D. Green, a 24-year-old former soldier, to life in prison without parole on Thursday for raping a 14-year-old Iraqi girl and murdering her, her parents and a younger sister in Iraq. The in previous stories, Iraqis called for the death penalty (or for Green to be tried in Iraq), particularly ones from Mahmudiya, where the incident occurred in 2006.
On March 11, 2006, after drinking Iraqi whiskey, Private Green and other soldiers manning a checkpoint decided to rape an Iraqi girl who lived nearby, according to testimony. Wearing civilian clothing, the soldiers broke into a house and raped Abeer Qassim Hamza al-Janabi. Soldiers in the group testified that Private Green killed the girl’s parents and a younger sister before raping and then shooting the girl in the head with the family’s own AK-47, which it had kept for self defense.
Dao dedicates considerable time to the questions raised by the case about Army oversight of its combat-stressed forces (After deaths in his battalions, Green had told an Army stress counselor that he wanted to take revenge on Iraqis, including civilians), which brings us to the next article.

In the Washington Post, Megan Greenwell writes of the obvious impact Army Pfc. Michael E. Yates' death had on his tiny home town on Maryland's Eastern Shore. Last week, while Yates attended a group therapy session at Baghdad’s Camp Liberty, when a fellow patient opened fire, killing Yates and four other service members. Yates’ affect on the people he knew is written of.

Reading about Craig Lewis is an engaging, maddening experience. Christian Davenport writes an excellent piece which follows Virginia Army National Guard Lieutenant/Blackhawk pilot in more detail than one would ever expect in a newspaper article. It is surprising and refreshing that it didn’t get hacked down to a fourth of its size.

At first, it seems to be a story limited to employment difficulties faced by National Guardsmen, but it is much more than that. As understated as Lewis himself, Davenport pulls you in by organizing the story in such a way that the story seems to tell itself – one of someone to whom everything does not come easy, but excels beyond what anyone expects. It’s not a saccharine-filled feel-good human interest piece, though – you’ll want to give Lewis a call in a few months to see how things are going for him.

In Al Kamen’s “In the Loop” Column in the Washington Post writes of an upcoming US Embassy event, the likes of which could safely be said is not the norm in Baghdad. The advertisement reads, “Come celebrate the start of Summer with color . . . and in costume!” "Dress in drag or as a gay icon. All are welcome."

At least as entertaining as the costumes (and much more so than the planned lip-syncing promises to be) is picturing the Embassy spokesman walking the line between disassociating the embassy with the event, but not too much. "This is an event organized and sponsored by a group of employees. Given the lack of places to meet in Baghdad, the embassy allows groups to use its social facilities for events on a first-come, first-served basis."

USA Today, Christian Science Monitor, no Iraq coverage.

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