Monday, July 31, 2006

A Change In the Weather

Watch out sweet thing
a change in the weather
is all that you bring

look up, the weather's strange
the only thing we know
that's gonna come for sure is change ~ Love Split Love
The swelting heatwave is headed east. You have my sympathy because I know what you are going through. Don't just stay cool yourself, look out for an elderly neighbor, especially one who doesn't have air conditioning. This is a time to care for each other.

It is cool and raining in San Diego today, which is just as weird as the heat was a fortnight ago. It never rains in San Diego in July. Period. Ever.

Saturday, July 29, 2006


The Israel Defense Force displays precision bombing skills in the Battle of the Lebanese Ambulances. (War is easier when they can't shoot back.) Photo from What Really Happened.

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Thursday, July 27, 2006

People Are Dropping Dead and Nobody Cares

The morgue in Fresno is full and they keep dying. They are dying quietly in their homes in Queens, St. Louis, Oklahoma, as well as here in California. Scores are dying in France and the rest of Europe. While most of the dead are elderly, even the young and healthy are suffering and dying on the job.

If they were dying from fancy terrorist explosions, showy aerial bombardments by powerful nation-states, or the reproductive needs of a new virus, the world would take notice. There is a heatwave enveloping the globe, people are dying slowly and silently, and nobody much seems to care.
Heaven lasts long, and Earth abides
What is the secret of their durability?

Is it because they do not live for themselves

That they endure so long?
~ Lao Tsu
We are ignoring these deaths as much as we can because we know the cause is us and we don't want to admit it. We are afraid but it is a paralyzing fear because there is nothing we can do about it. So we ignore the truth around us and soldier on. Our lives are in the hands of our leaders, the greedy oligarchs who seek profit above all and see the whole of humanity as ants scurrying around a buried anthill. The photo below is of two children playing soccer on the grassy commons of Gerrard's Cross in rainy southern England.
Hecate has had several postings this week that discuss things far more eloquently than I can. The book Earth Abides is over fifty years old yet is still fresh and worth reading. As for me, I am obsessed by the thoughts that Gaia is simply running a fever. She will recover once she rids herself of the infection of humanity that plagues her. Religious fundamentalists should stop longing for Raptures and Second Comings when all we are seeing is a repeat of the Noah cleansing. The last time was flood, this time is fire.

Humanity has been astride this Earth for only a short time. It matters not whether we are a failed experiment, a species that could never stop its primal habit of shitting in our own nest, or just a huge disappointment to our Creator. A short time may be all we have earned.

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Wednesday, July 26, 2006

Now the Neo-Cons Have Gone Too Far

Dr. Aaron Shutt: Lay off my wife, will ya?
Dr. Jeffrey Geiger: She's not your wife, she's your significant ex-other. If she were really your wife, she'd be creaming you for alimony.
~ Chicago Hope
All Hell is about to break loose on the Republican Right. It's one thing for Rush Limbaugh and/or William F. Buckley to hint that George Bush is not the bestest of Republicans. Now, the Neo-cons are taking direct aim at Georgie's almost wife. From Insight, Newt Gingrich and Richard Pearle are two of the leading lights from the Dark Side that are openly calling for Condi Rice to be fired.

They are showing some compassion for the swirl going on, they only want her transferred to an "advisory position." Although I am curious what positions the thrice married Gingrich would advise her to advise in. Bush is renown for his loyality to people he hasn't rubbed groins with. He will fight for Condi like a (EDIT: find a synonym for the tiny plaything of a tigeress).

I really hope the movement to fire Condi gains traction. The aftermath will be fun. Photo from The Sideshow.

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Monday, July 24, 2006

Thoughts on the Israel-Lebanon War

The Short Ceasefire
Secretary of State Condi Rice spent about three hours in Beirut today. You won't find it in any news report, but it is certain that Israel agreed to stop shelling the city while Rice was there. Now all we need is a ceasefire for a cause greater than protecting her highness' butt.

Precision Bombing
I'm watching NBC Nightly News today. They had a report on Israel bombing Red Cross ambulances. One shot showed an ambulance with a bomb hole directly through the center of the huge red cross on the roof. That is precision bombing, they damn well knew what they were aiming at.

Doing the Numbers

The US is sending $30 million to Lebanon for war relief. There are currently 900,000 Lebanese homeless with more certainly coming. That comes to 33 bucks each. We are sending 100,000 medical kits, so as long as less than ten percent of the victims have medical problem they are covered. We are sending 20,000 blankets, that is one blanket for every family of 45. Only when it comes to compassion does the Bush Administration get budget conscious.

The Air Marshals Are Just Hick Town Sheriffs

The last time I got a speeding ticket I took a driving school course to get the ticket expunged. One of the few useful things I learned that day was to drive carefully at the end of the month. While the Highway Patrol denies it, they have their officers on a ticket quota. At the end of the month, patrolmen are looking for any rinky-dink offense to make their ticket quota.

I told you that story to tell you this one. Avoid flying at the end of the month. The Air Marshal Service has its own quota system. Every month, every Air Marshal (at least out of Las Vegas) has to find some poor, innocent passengers to list on their Surveillance Detection Reports (SDR). Getting you name on a SDR labels you as a potential terrorist. You will end up in a law enforcement database, a fact that could haunt you in many ways. Marshals have been told their pay and promotions depend of filing nice fat SDRs.

So you are safer to fly early in the month, when no one is thinking quotas yet. By the 30th, the marshals will be counting the names on the SDRs and you might get tagged for picking your nose on board a plane.

Art is Speed Trap by Norman Rockwell.


Saturday, July 22, 2006

Summer In the City

Hot town, summer in the city
Back of my neck getting dirty and gritty
Been down, isn't it a pity
Doesn't seem to be a shadow in the city

~ The Lovin' Spoonful
Set an all time record here in El Cajon, California. The temperature today was 113 degrees (45C), beating the old record for this date by 12 degrees. The average high temperature for July here is 83 degrees. Other local record temperatures - San Diego City 99 degrees, Alpine 109 degrees, Palm Springs 121 degrees. This was not a Santa Ana heat. This was your straight forward, humid, Hell couldn't be this bad heat.

Things were eerily quiet. There were no birds, not even many insects. No children played in the streets and there were few cars on the road. For the first time in my life I experienced a total shut down environment. It was so hot neither man nor nature would stir.

More of the same tomorrow. I fear, more of the same and worse for the rest of my life.

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It Is Going To Be a Long, Hot Summer

  • Record heat waves in the United States and Europe that are getting worse as the summer rolls along.

How I long for the days when "long, hot summer" meant sweaty sex and the occasional urban riot.

Art: Summer Heat by John Stoa

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Friday, July 21, 2006

How to Kill a Cedar

Remember the Cedar Revolution, it was only a year ago that the Lebanese peacefully drove out their Syrian occupiers. Israel is now hell bent on killing that cedar in four easy steps:
  • Bomb neighborhoods with no attempt to differentiate between peaceful families and enemy soldiers,
  • Prove the Lebanese government is impotent to protect their citizens,
  • Bomb the airport and blockade the sea ports so that they have to turn to Syria for food and medicine,
  • Create a power vacuum where the only natural successor is Syria.
It appears that Israel wants to restore Lebanon as a vassel state of Syria. No other motive explains their actions.

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Wednesday, July 19, 2006

To Secure the Nation

It is necessary that the government's dogs be kept comfy. (Besides, they are just soooo cute.)
News Report: The Department of Homeland Security purchased 2000 useless dog booties ($68,442) and 37 designer rain jackets ($92,500) for use at a shooting range that closes when it rains. Oh, and FEMA has lost 107 laptop computers and 12 of the 20 boats they purchased.

Tuesday, July 18, 2006

Moral Equivalences

Right wingers use photos like these Palestinian children playing acting as warriors as proof of the moral vacuum of Islamic society.

How is that any different from these Israeli girls signing messages on shells that will be used to kill Lebanese children?

And for those Americans who like to pretend we are the conscience of the world. Here is a stock photo of a common activity of American families - a young child playing at shooting a relative or friend. We teach our children young, in the United States, that killing is lots of fun.
Thanks to Blognonymous for the Israeli girls and Fotosearch for the stock shot above.

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Monday, July 17, 2006

The Real Price of Freedom

The price of freedom is eternal vigilance ~ Thomas Jefferson
Conservatives love the phrase "the Price of Freedom." It is a mantra, repeated frequently. But, for them, it has a simple, martial meaning - Death in battle. Freedom demands a far more nuanced payment schedule.

The Price of Freedom is an Inconvenient Press
Freedom requires a free press. By press I don't mean just the large, corporate entities but also the one-person pamphleteer or blogger. By inconvenient I mean reporting the truth regardless of the consequences. Truth is the enemy of despotism and, hence, the ally of freedom. Those Conservatives who charge treason whenever a truth is revealed would sacrifice freedom on the altar of security.
for the truth is the mortal enemy of the lie, and thus by extension, the truth is the greatest enemy of the State. ~ Joseph Goebbels
Paramount among the responsibilities of a free press is the duty to prevent any part of the government from deceiving the people and sending them off to distant lands to die of foreign fevers and foreign shot and shell. ~ Hugo Black
The Price of Freedom is an Open Government
A free people are required to know what their government is doing in their names. Conversely, the government has the responsibility to tell the people what it is doing. The government does not belong to bureaucrats, the President, or Congress. It belongs to the people. The people have an absolute right to know what the government is doing.
A popular Government, without popular information, or the means of acquiring it, is but a Prologue to a Farce or a Tragedy; or, perhaps both. Knowledge will forever govern ignorance: And a people who mean to be their own Governors, must arm themselves with the power which knowledge gives. ~ James Madison
From our perspective, we are in favor of open government. If you approve an exception here and an exception there, it chips away gradually and we're very fearful of what might be. ~ Thomas Hennick
All components of government prefer keeping secrets from the people. Whether the motive is sloth, pride, criminal conduct, or even national security, no secret is worth more than the people's freedom.

The Price of Freedom is Public Debate

The President wishes to make decisions based solely upon what he wants to do. Interference from the public is annoying, he loses the elements of speed, surprise, and stealth. Yet, in a free country the important decisions, such as war, ought to be made by the people after a thorough, open, and honest debate.
I can't believe that we are going to let a majority of the people decide what's best for this state. ~ Representative John Travis, Louisana Legislature (I don't know when)
The Price of Freedom is Tolerance of Diversity
Some have perverted the "Freedom of Religion" clause in the Constitution to mean they have the freedom to impose their religion upon everyone else.
We need to establish "The Word" of The Bible as the rule of law in a Christian America. If that means trampling on other citizens freedom of religion or freedom of expression, so be it! ~ a conservative minister in Marietta Georgia in 1999
Others believe that their sexual orientation or skin color or where their forefathers were born several generations ago somehow elevates them to first among equals. All this is mere tribalism.

The Price of Freedom is Peace
Freedom without peace is an oxymoron; peace without freedom is impossible. The Civil War, the World Wars, the Cold War, to today - the cost of war has included the loss of freedom. During the Civil War, people were arrested and imprisoned without trials - sometimes for cause, other times on a whim. The world wars saw people attacked and rounded up purely because of the national origins. The cold war brought McCarthyism, blacklists, and Communist witch trials. There are rare occasions where war may be a just necessity. But the price of war is the loss of freedom. For a free society, war cannot be "diplomacy by other means" but must be a last resort of self-defense.
Where is it written in the Constitution, in what section or clause is it contained, that you may take children from their parents and parents from their children, and compel them to fight the battle in any war in which the folly or the wickedness of government may engage it? ~ Daniel Webster
Other sources: Religious Freedom Coalition, Common Dreams, the Olympian readers, Talk Left

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Saturday, July 15, 2006

Neighborhood Warming

I am turning off my computer after writing this. Partly because I want to save electricity but mostly because PCs generate a lot of heat and more heat is the last thing I need today.

San Diego, my little bit of the universe in the lower left hand corner of the United States, is in for a hellacious heat wave this weekend. My town of El Cajon, 12 miles from the Pacific Ocean, is expecting temperatures over 102 degrees, and humid (think armpit of a feverish fat man). This is 15 degrees above normal (think really sick fat man).

For May, June, and into July San Diego should be cooled by the ocean. Our ocean current flows south from the Gulf of Alaska. Hot temperatures in the Borrego Desert sucks in foggy ocean air giving us a natural air conditioning. Didn't happen last year; ain't happening this year. And this is not some weird, short term heating, as my friends at Greetings From America's Finest City pointed out last month. The frightening part - it won't start getting really hot until September.

I don't have to look at world wide effects or national trends. The proof of global warming is simmering in my own back yard.

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Thursday, July 13, 2006

A Ted Stevens Nosh

For my Alaskan readers (you know who you are). The Daily Show looks at Ted Stevens' brain thinking about the internet. Via Crooks & Liars.

To me it looks remarkably like electrified tapioca pudding that has been left out in the sun too long.

Haliburton Honeypot

The Army is finally ending its contract with Haliburton to provide inedible food, nonpotable water, and laundry service that charged $100 for every 15 pounds of dirty skivies. Then there is the little things - housing Haliburton employees in hotels at $10,000/day, abandoning trucks by the side of the road if they get a flat tire, and double billing for contractor's work. But I object to the contention by Byron Dorgan -
I believe literally hundreds of millions, and probably billions, of dollars have been wasted — it's almost an unbelievable amount of waste and abuse and likely fraud.
Why, since the Iraq war began Haliburton's stock price has gone up 367%. The money wasn't wasted, it went from the taxpayers directly into the pockets of Haliburton stockholders. There's gold in them thar wars.
Four year chart from Big Charts.

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Wednesday, July 12, 2006

A World Famous Moron

Every blogger dreams about getting thousands of daily hits, getting hundreds of comments to every posting he writes. Well, Anti-abortion zealot Pete at March Together for Life has discovered how to build a huge audience for his every entry - be a World Class Moron.

It start last Thursday when Little Petey discovered this article at the Onion. Pete believed it. He climbed upon his high horse and wrote a bizzare reply, utterly unable to recognize the Onion is satire and that both work and author were fiction. While Pete's writing is side-splitting in its naiveté, it is the comments that make this a blogosphere classic.

But Pete is no one-hit-wonder. He can't let go, defending himself time and again he has pasted a huge "kick me" sign to his butt. Sometimes I think that maybe we are bullying some poor sap, but then I remember that this is a guy who gets his rocks off from bullying pregnant women. He deserves everything he gets.

My heartfelt thanks to Skippy the Bush Kangaroo for pointing the way to my biggest laugh of the week.

UPDATE: Pete has taken down his comments, in part because his private information had been published and he was getting unwanted phone calls. I believe people's privacy must be protected from government intrusion. I also believe that it should be a crime when someone's privacy is violated for reasons of business, recreation, or intimidation. I don't apologize for laughing at you, Pete. But, on behalf of the decent people of the world, I do apologize for the turds who violated your personal space. You didn't deserve that, no one does.

Monday, July 10, 2006

Blocking the Gate to the Law

The State Secrets Privilege is the bludgeon the Bush Administration uses to block access to the law. It has been used against Sibel Edmonds to silence her; it has been used to coverup the kidnapping of a German citizen, Khalid El-Masri, and his rendition to Afganistan for torture; and it is currently blocking an ACLU lawsuit challenging the NSA warrentless wiretaps.
Before the law sits a gatekeeper. To this gatekeeper comes a man from the country who asks to gain entry into the law. But the gatekeeper says that he cannot grant him entry at the moment. The man thinks about it and then asks if he will be allowed to come in later on. “It is possible,” says the gatekeeper, “but not now.” ~ Before the Law, Franz Kafka
Sibel Edmonds
She was an FBI interpreter who discovered and reported misconduct to her superiors. She was fired for her honesty and she sued for wrongful termination. At this point, in October, 2002, Attorney General John Ashcroft imposed the State Secret Privilege, claiming that her employment was a national security issue. The following year as Ms. Edmonds was preparing to file a deposition in a lawsuit 9-11 families had filed. She was going to testify that the FBI had prior knowledge of the World Trade Center attack. Ashcroft invoked the Privilege again to prevent her testifying. Going farther, Ashcroft put a gag order on her, she is forbidden to talk about her employment or anything she may have witnessed on the job. Both her suit and the 9-11 suit were dropped for lack of evidence. In 2005, Ms. Edmonds was blocked from attending the appeals court hearing of her own lawsuit and no opinion was published by the court explaining why it was dismissing the suit. It was a secret court hearing.
The man from the country has not expected such difficulties: the law should always be accessible for everyone, he thinks, but as he now looks more closely at the gatekeeper in his fur coat, at his large pointed nose and his long, thin, black Tartar’s beard, he decides that it would be better to wait until he gets permission to go inside.
Khalid El-Masri
Khalid El-Masri was the wrong man. The CIA was looking for someone named Al-Masri but Khalid was close enough for government work. Heading for vacation in Macedonia, he was detained by Macedonian borderguards for several weeks and, upon release, kidnapped by the CIA. He was rendered to the infamous salt pit in Afganistan, which makes Gitmo look like Club Med. During four months captivity he was interrogated, beaten, and raped. He was released in May, 2005, two months after the government discovered he was an innocent man. His lawsuit was blocked by government claims that all evidence of his captivity was a national security issue, State Secret Privilege.
The gatekeeper gives him a stool and allows him to sit down at the side in front of the gate. There he sits for days and years. He makes many attempts to be let in, and he wears the gatekeeper out with his requests.
NSA Warentless Wiretapping
Just today, the government declared that it doesn't matter if NSA wiretaps are legal or illegal. Enquiring whether the government or the phone companies has acted illegally endangers national secruity, they claim. Don't inquire about the law because the law is a State Secret.

UPDATE: The government is claiming "state secrets privilege" in both the ACLU case in Michigan and the Electronic Frontier Foundation case in California. Here is the Feds brief in the EFF case.

"This administration wants to turn the state secrets privilege into an all-purpose weapon the government can use to cover up its own illegal activities," said Michael J. Steinberg, Legal Director of the ACLU of Michigan.
During the many years the man observes the gatekeeper almost continuously. He forgets the other gatekeepers, and this one seems to him the only obstacle for entry into the law. He curses the unlucky circumstance, in the first years thoughtlessly and out loud, later, as he grows old, he still mumbles to himself....The gatekeeper sees that the man is already dying and, in order to reach his diminishing sense of hearing, he shouts at him, “Here no one else can gain entry, since this entrance was assigned only to you. I’m going now to close it.”
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Sunday, July 09, 2006

Criminal Flowers

The helpless little Sebastopol meadowfoam is an endangered flower which only grows in vernal pools in Sonoma County, California.

Last year, it was discovered on land slated for a housing development. The California Department of Fish and Game, after a quick and dirty investigation, concluded the delicate flowers had been transplanted there by opponents of the development. Fish and Game dug up and destroyed the illegal plants (so independent investigators could not study the site) and ruled the development could continue. End of story, except....

The flowers are back. This time they clearly sprouted from seeds. Fish and Game's stance is that the seeds came from last year's illegal plants. Their contention, since the seeds came from illegal flowers, this year's flowers are also illegal. Last year, the crime was disturbing an endangered plant by transplanting it. This year, the crime was committed by the flower itself. It's trespassing, so to speak, growing naturally now in a place that Fish and Game doesn't want it.

A note about the accusation last year's flowers were transplanted. Several biologists disagree with Fish and Game's conclusion. Since the state destroyed the evidence, no proof exists one way or another.

Friday, July 07, 2006

In Mexico, as in Florida, It Is What They Don't Count That Counts

Americans can identify with Mexico today. The easist way to rig a close election is in the ballots they choose NOT to count. The official results of the Mexican Presidental election gives the right-wing candidate a 243,934 (0.57%) vote margin of victory. To achieve this total, the counters had to throw out 904,604 votes. Over two percent of the votes were discarded.

In yet another incident of vote count fraud, the Pro-Republican National Action Party (PAN) has stolen the Mexican election. Brace yourselves, this is only the beginning.

Links: San Diego Union, Salt Lake Tribune, NYC Indymedia, El Universal


Thursday, July 06, 2006

A Headline Worth Sharing

The New York Post may be Rupert Murdoch's fish wrap and, hence, is somewhat less than worthless. Rarely, they manage a headline that sets me grinning. But, don't just check he's there, a wooden stake through his heart would be a prudent precaution.

Wednesday, July 05, 2006

Christian Anti-Semitism in Delaware

The Indian River School District is not content with Christian invocations at their Board meetings. They want to weed out any vestige of non-Christian thought.

During the 2004 graduation, Pastor Jerry Fike directed his invocation at one person. Samantha Dobrich was the only Jewish student graduating. Fike said,
I also pray for one specific student, that You be with her and guide her in the path that You have for her. And we ask all these things in Jesus' name.
The Dobrich's son, sixth-grader Alex, was harrassed in school halls for wearing a yarmulke, called "Jew Boy" and "Christ Killer." The young boy became afraid he would be attacked for his faith while grocery shopping with the family.

After the Dobrich family sued, their home address was publicized by Stop the ACLU Coalition (link withheld because I refuse to pollute my fingertips by typing it) and the KKK made threatening phone calls. Local talk radio carried calls attacking the family and saying they should either convert or leave town.

At a school board meeting young Alex was shouted down with calls to ""take your yarmulke off." A former board member threatened the mother, Mona Dobrich, saying she might "disappear" like Madalyn Murray O'Hair. O'Hair's dismembered corpse was discovered six years after she had vanished.

With justified fear for their lives, the Dobrich family had to leave their home in Seaford, Delaware and flee to Wilmington.

Sources: First found at Jesus' General, best info at Jews on First, also Bartholomew on Religion. Art is a Hitler Youth poster for the League of German Maidens. It reads, "Every girl belongs to us."

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Monday, July 03, 2006

Declaration of Independence -
Excerpts With Modern References

We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, (GOP Rebellion Stops Voting Rights Act) that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are

Life, (Iraqis bound and executed by American soldiers)


and the pursuit of Happiness....whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new Government, laying its foundation on such principles and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their Safety and Happiness.

The history of the present King of Great Britain is a history of repeated injuries and usurpations, all having in direct object the establishment of an absolute Tyranny over these States. To prove this, let Facts be submitted to a candid world.
In every stage of these Oppressions We have Petitioned for Redress in the most humble terms: Our repeated Petitions have been answered only by repeated injury. A Prince, whose character is thus marked by every act which may define a Tyrant, is unfit to be the ruler of a free people.

For offenses against the People of the United States of America and the People of Iraq, President George Bush and his party stand accused before the Nations of the World and Almighty God. As it was 230 years ago, so shall it be tomorrow.

Declaration of Independence
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Sunday, July 02, 2006

The Best Job in the World

Is a government consulting contract. Several years ago, when I was the San Diego Sierra Club's sewage expert, a San Diego engineering consultant charged the city hundreds of thousands dollars to produce a report on the city's sewage treatment alternatives. Their report simply repackaged something the same company had written 20 years earlier.

The Air Force is spending $450,000 to study blogs. A preliminary discovery, "[blogs] are typically short and are about something external to the blog posting itself, such as a news event." Let me save the Air Force some money. The final report will say,
You can find every imaginable opinion somewhere in a blog. If the government does something stupid it will find its way around the world in a matter of hours.
Art is Le Travail by Eve Cadel. Reference from Think Progress.

Saturday, July 01, 2006

Iraq War: Quarterly Update

American Military Deaths
2nd quarter 2006 ..... 207
average - quarter ... 2.27 deaths per day
Total ................ 2,535

American Military Wounded
2nd quarter 2006 ..... 1,355
average - quarter ... 14.9 wounded per day
Total .............. 18,356

Deaths by Service
Army .................... 1,266 - (50%)
Marines................... 649 - (26%)
Nat'l Guard & Reserve .... 556 - (22%)
Navy ........................ 38 - (1%)
Air Force ................ 24 - (1%)
Others .................... 2

Iraqi Security Forces and Civilian Deaths (est.)
2nd quarter 2006 ..... 2,998
Total .............. unknown

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