The largest dam in Iraq is in serious danger of an imminent collapse that could unleash a trillion-gallon wave of water, possibly killing thousands of people and flooding two of the largest cities in the country, according to new assessments by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and other U.S. officials.
Even in a country gripped by daily bloodshed, the possibility of a catastrophic failure of the Mosul Dam has alarmed American officials, who have concluded that it could lead to as many as 500,000 civilian deaths by drowning Mosul under 65 feet of water and parts of Baghdad under 15 feet, said Abdulkhalik Thanoon Ayoub, the dam manager. “The Mosul dam is judged to have an unacceptable annual failure probability,” in the dry wording of an Army Corps of Engineers draft report.
At the same time, a U.S. reconstruction project to help shore up the dam in northern Iraq has been marred by incompetence and mismanagement, according to Iraqi officials and a report by a U.S. oversight agency to be released Tuesday
The State Department promised Blackwater USA bodyguards immunity from prosecution in its investigation of last month’s deadly shooting of 17 Iraqi civilians, The Associated Press has learned.
The immunity deal has delayed a criminal inquiry into the Sept. 16 killings and could undermine any effort to prosecute security contractors for their role in the incident that has infuriated the Iraqi government.
“Once you give immunity, you can’t take it away,” said a senior law enforcement official familiar with the investigation.
State Department officials declined to confirm or deny that immunity had been granted. One official — who refused to be quoted by name_ said: “If, in fact, such a decision was made, it was done without any input or authorization from any senior State Department official in Washington.”
Also from the article: Richard J. Griffin, the head of the Bureau of Diplomatic Security which granted the immunity, announced his resignation effective last Thursday.
NBC Universal chief executive Jeff Zucker on Sunday urged colleagues to take a stand against Apple’s iTunes, charging that the digital download service was undermining the ability of traditional media companies to set profitable rates for their content online.
We know that Apple has destroyed the music business — in terms of pricing — and if we don’t take control, they’ll do the same thing on the video side,” Zucker said at a breakfast hosted by Syracuse’s Newhouse School of Communications.
He said NBC routinely propositioned Apple to breach its standard pricing model and experiment with higher pricing for one hit show such as “Heroes” by raising the price from the iTunes standard $1.99 to $2.99 on a trial basis.
“We wanted to take one show, it didn’t matter which one it was, and experiment and sell it for $2.99,” he said. “We made that offer for months and they said no.”
The NBC chief also revealed that in addition to more pricing flexibility, his firm was also seeking a cut of Apple hardware sales — such as the iPod and iPhone — which were capable of viewing content downloaded from the iTunes Store.
“Apple sold millions of dollars worth of hardware off the back of our content and made a lot of money,” he said. “They did not want to share in what they were making off the hardware or allow us to adjust pricing.”
Zucker’s comments also arrive just as NBC and NewsCorp. are launching their joint online video venture, Hulu.com, which aims to compete with iTunes by offering streaming TV and other commercial video content to viewers under an ad-supported model.
Read “ruined the music business” as “actually giving the consumer what they want instead of relying on greed and laziness to fill my coffers with regrets.”
Also, I checked out the “hulu” service he talked about, and it claimed that the content wasn’t available in “my region”, which is odd, since there are plenty of other sites that tell me otherwise. The only places that don’t allow me to view NBC content is the services ran by NBC…
Iraq war veterans now stationed at a base here in upstate New York say that morale among US soldiers in the country is so poor, many are simply parking their Humvees and pretending to be on patrol, a practice dubbed “search and avoid” missions.
Phil Aliff is an active duty soldier with the 10th Mountain Division stationed at Fort Drum. He served nearly one year in Iraq from August 2005 to July 2006, in the areas of Abu Ghraib and Fallujah, both west of Baghdad.
“Morale was incredibly low,” said Aliff, adding that he joined the military because he was raised in a poor family by a single mother and had few other prospects. “Most men in my platoon in Iraq were just in from combat tours in Afghanistan.”
According to Aliff, their mission was to help the Iraqi army “stand up” in the Abu Ghraib area of western Baghdad, but in fact his platoon was doing all the fighting without support from the Iraqis they were supposedly preparing to take control of the security situation.
“I never heard of an Iraqi unit that was able to operate on their own,” said Aliff, who is now a member of the group Iraq Veterans Against the War (IVAW). “The only reason we were replaced by an Iraqi army unit was for publicity.”
Aliff said he participated in roughly 300 patrols. “We were hit by so many roadside bombs we became incredibly demoralized, so we decided the only way we wouldn’t be blown up was to avoid driving around all the time.”
“So we would go find an open field and park, and call our base every hour to tell them we were searching for weapons caches in the fields and doing weapons patrols and everything was going fine,” he said, adding, “All our enlisted people became very disenchanted with our chain of command.”
Apple and T-Mobile announced rate plans for the iPhone in Germany today.
That is fucking expensive. Expect a lot of iPhone-unlocking activity in Germany by people who want an iPhone without this insane plan.