Saturday, September 30, 2006

Take the End-Times Challenge!

(That's the End-of-September Challenge)

How many readers can find some good news coming out of the ruins of George Bush's un-provoked, unnecessary, largely unilateral invasion and unplanned occupation of Iraq (UULUIUOI)?

While you're thinking, Googling, writing or whatever you do best, let me provide you with some numbers, inspired and borrowed from TomDispatch's Iraq at the Gates of Hell: 21 Questions:

How many freelance militias are there in Baghdad?
23 "known" militias
How many civilians are dying in the Iraqi capital, due to those militias, numerous (often government-linked death squads), the Sunni insurgency, and al-Qaeda-in-Mesopotamia-style terrorism?
5,106 people in July and August. By late September, suicide bombings were at their highest level since the invasion.
How many Iraqis are being tortured in Baghdad at present (According to U.N. chief anti-torture expert Manfred Nowak):
What most people tell you is that the situation as far as torture is concerned now in Iraq is totally out of hand. The situation is so bad many people say it is worse than it has been in the times of Saddam Hussein.
How many Iraqi civilians are being killed countrywide?
The UN Report offers figures on this: 1,493 dead, over and above the dead of Baghdad.
How many Sunni Arabs support the insurgency?
75% of them, according to a Pentagon survey, up from 14% at the beginning of the occupation in 2003.
How many Iraqis want the United States to withdraw its forces from their country?
Except in the Kurdish areas of northern Iraq, according to a U.S. State Department survey based on 1,870 face-to-face interviews conducted from late June to early July, strong majorities favored withdrawl. In Baghdad, nearly 75% of residents polled claimed that they would "feel safer" after a U.S. withdrawal, and 65% favored an immediate withdrawal of U.S. and other foreign forces.
How many Iraqis think the Bush administration will withdraw at some point?
According to the PIPA poll, 77% of Iraqis are convinced that the United States is intent on keeping permanent bases in their country.
How many terrorists are being killed in Iraq (and elsewhere) in the President's Global War on Terror?
Less than are being generated by the war in Iraq, according to the just leaked National Intelligence Estimate.
How many Islamic extremist websites have sprung up on the Internet to aid such acts of terror?
5,000, according to the same NIE.
How many Iraqis are estimated to have fled their homes this year, due to the low-level civil war and the ethnic cleansing of neighborhoods?
300,000, according to journalist Patrick Cockburn.
How much of Bush's Iraq can now be covered by Western journalists?
Approximately 2%, according to New York Times journalist Dexter Filkins.
How many U.S. troops are in Iraq today?
Approximately 147,000
How many active duty Army troops have been deployed in Iraq?
Approximately 400,000 troops out of an active-duty force of 504,000 have already served one tour of duty in Iraq.
How is the Pentagon keeping troop strength and maintaining equipment up in Iraq?
Stop-loss, deferred maintenance and budget-borrowing against future generations of Americans.
How many extra dollars does a desperately overstretched Army claim to need in the coming Defense budget, mainly because of wear and tear in Iraq?
$25 billion above budget limits set by Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld this year; over $40 billion above last year's budget. The amount the Army claims it now needs simply to tread water represents a 41% increase over its current share of the Pentagon budget.
How many speeches has George W. Bush made in the last month extolling his War on Terror and its Iraqi "central front"?
Too many, and counting.
Sorry! In order not to give you more info than you ever wanted to know, I had to condense and shorten!

Now, I know many readers have a lot of good news items about Iraq to share. All I ask is that you make them brief (links are better than entire articles) so that there is plenty of room for all!