10:50 AM, January 7th, 2014
In the week after his death, a casualty assistance officer sat at my kitchen table and asked if I would like to be notified if the military found partial remains, the pieces of my husband’s body that might be recovered from the crash site after his funeral. Outside a late-autumn storm was building and the air in the room was damp. The officer passed a form across the table and handed me a ballpoint pen, and I realized that this was war. Not the talk of strategy or politics, munitions or taxation; not the discussions on fiscal costs or boots on the ground jingoism. But a life disassembled, pieces trickling in over time.
4:18 PM, October 23rd, 2013

A new report concludes that there have been half a million war-related deaths in Iraq. We break down what that number means

11:07 AM, June 13th, 2012

Frontpage: Wednesday, June 13th

  1. Former Giffords Aid Wins Seat: It’s a fitting end to an inspirational saga: 66-year-old Ron Barber won the seat of his former boss, Rep. Gabrielle Giffords, Tuesday night after Giffords resigned to recover from a gunshot wound to the head.
  2. Yemen Continues U.S. Attack: Yemen on Wednesday pressed ahead with a U.S.-led offensive against Islamic militants in the southern part of the country, a day after it recovered control of two strategic cities.
  3. Car Bomb Kills 63 in Iraq: A wave of coordinated car-bomb attacks throughout Iraq on early Wednesday killed 63 people and injured dozens more—one of the deadliest attacks since U.S. troops withdrew from the country last year.
  4. Russia Defends Syrian Arms Sale: Russia’s foreign minister on Wednesday defended his country’s alleged sale of arms to Syria, and also accused the U.S. of supplying weapons to the rebels fighting the government.
  5. NASA to Launch Telescope: A powerful new X-ray telescope, dubbed the NuStar by NASA, will soon be on the prowl for supermassive black holes, the invisible remnants left when stars die.

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Photo by Scott Olson/Getty Images

Dolores Walker leaves the Cook County Medical Examiner’s office after identifying the remains of her son, Joseph Briggs. Briggs, who recently turned 16, was shot and killed while sitting on a stoop in Chicago’s Marquette Park neighborhood. Read the full story here

11:08 AM, June 4th, 2012

Frontpage: Monday, June 4th

  1. Romney’s Getting More PopularMitt Romney is becoming a lot more popular lately—but he’s still not as well liked as President Obama. A new CNN/ORC International poll finds that Romney has gone from 34 percent favorability in February to 48 percent.
  2. US Defense Cuts Coming: A plan heavily favored by Republican leaders to cut 8 percent of the Pentagon’s budget effective Jan. 2 now has them scrambling to undo their own handiwork. The effects on the military as a result of the 10-year, $600 billion round of cuts remain unclear, but Sen. Lindsey Graham of South Carolina and other legislators have said that the belt-tightening measures, which would rein the defense budget back down to its 2007 level, would force the armed services to make choices that would affect local communities. “The soft underbelly that I’m trying to exploit is, what does this mean to your state?” Graham told reporters.
  3. Europe Ponders ‘Fiscal Union’: Hard times bring people together. That idea may be put to the test in Europe, as leaders in euro countries contemplate a transnational finance ministry—once thought a pipe dream—as stocks slipped for the fourth day in a row Monday.
  4. Car Bomb in Iraq Kills 18: Iraq’s Shiite religious-affairs office was the target of a brutal car-bomb attack Monday that claimed 18 lives and left dozens wounded. The explosion in the city’s capital came at about 11 a.m. local time and damaged surrounding buildings.
  5. More Deaths Feared in Nigeria Crash: A plane crash that claimed the lives of all 153 passengers Sunday outside a Nigerian airport may have caused deaths on the ground as well, rescue workers said Monday. “The fear is that since it happened in a residential area, there may have been many people killed,” said National Emergency Management Agency spokesman Yushau Shuaib. 

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Photo: Spectators watch the Diamond Jubilee Pageant on the River Thames. Hundreds of rowboats, barges and steamers filled the river as Queen Elizabeth II sailed through London. (John Stillwell, AFP/Getty Images.) More Photos of the Day

11:58 AM, March 20th, 2012

Frontpage: Tuesday, Mar 20th

  1. Grand Jury to Hear Trayvon Martin CaseA grand jury will hear the Trayvon Martin case on April 10, the Florida Attorney General announced on Tuesday. Norm Wolfinger said that the state will use the grand jury “investigative resources” to figure out if criminal charges should be filed in the death of the 17-year-old. 
  2. Syrian Opposition Accused of Abuse: Human Rights Watch on Tuesday said the Syrian opposition has taken part in abuses that include kidnapping, detention, and torture of Syrian security-force members. Sarah Leah Wilson, the New York–based group’s Middle Eastern director, said the Syrian government’s “brutal tactics” do not justify the alleged abuses by the opposition groups.
  3. Romney Faces ‘Must-Win’ in IllinoisIt might not be Super Tuesday, but this Tuesday could be crucial to Mitt Romney. The Republican candidates face off in Illinois on Tuesday, with 54 delegates at stake—a victory Romney desperately needs after being pounded last week in Alabama and Mississippi.
  4. House GOP to Release Debt Plan: House Republicans will release their $261 billion deficit-reduction plan on Tuesday, with a focus on tax cuts. The plan, written by Wisconsin Republican Paul Ryan, would simplify the tax code by collapsing the current system of six tax brackets down to two marginal rates, Republican aides said Monday. 
  5. At least 39 Killed in Iraq BlastsAt least 39 people were killed and 188 injured in a series of car bombings throughout Iraq on Tuesday, hospital sources told MSNBC. The deadliest attack occurred in the Shiite Muslim holy city of Kerbala, where a health-department spokesman said 13 were killed and 48 people were injured in two explosions.

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Photo: Brazilian Olympics team member Cesar Castro trains for the upcoming games in London. (SERGIO MORAES)

3:27 PM, January 30th, 2012


The Special Investigator General for Iraq Reconstruction’s latest quarterly report is out today. And I always recommend reading these reports, they’re chock full of data and information on a wide range of things, from Iraqi public opinion, and trends in the security situation, to the ability of the US government to document its funds.

Here are some of the best/most interesting and important bits (read: I read it, so if you really aren’t in the mood, you don’t have to):

  • On January 4th of this year, the State Dept refused SIGIR’s request for “information pursuant to the activities it conducted pursuant to the US-Iraq Strategic Framework Agreement.” The SFA essentially governs the US’s interactions and relationship with Iraq now that they are no longer home to our troops, so that’s no small thing.
  • A Gallup poll of Iraqis showed that reports of low quality of life were much higher this year. When asked this September about their situations, 25% of respondents rated themselves as “suffering,” up from 14% in October of 2010. SIGIR reports that this can be connected back to the low quality of essential services in Iraq, like electricity.
  • On that subject - electricity is a big issue in Iraq, and has been for some time. When polled, more Iraqis think the pervasive lack of access to electricity should be the top priority for the government than think security should top the list. The average Iraqi household only gets 7.6 hours a day of electricity.
  • The DoD could only provide supporting documentation for $1bn of the $3bn provided to it under the Development Fund for Iraq for making contract payments. (This is such a shock…)
  • The number of contracting employees of US agencies in Iraq fell by 72% since last year.
  • Baghdad was declared the “world’s least safe city” by Mercer, but there have been some noticeable improvements in things like level of foreign investment, access to electricity and levels of violence.
  • Seriously, these are only a few things from this report. Look through the whole thing, particularly Section 4. If anything, read it for all the amazing, useful, to-die-for infographics and charts.

Some links to things mentioned in the report:

Reblogged from The Political Notebook
10:08 AM, January 25th, 2012

Frontpage: Jan. 25th

  1. Obama Pitches New ‘Buffett Rule’: In a populist State of the Union address last night, President Obama touted a revamped “Buffett Rule”— the idea that people making more than $1 million a year should pay at least 30 percent in income taxes.
  2. U.S. Raid Rescues Pirate Hostages: When President Obama stepped into the House to give the State of the Union last night, he pointed to Defense Secretary Leon Panetta and said, “Good job tonight.” The reason? American commandos—the same team that carried out the bin Laden mission—had just dropped into Somalia by helicopter, killed nine pirates, captured several others, and freed two aid workers, including an American woman, who had been held captive for months. 
  3. Gingrich PAC Buys $6M More in Ads: Gingrich’s super PAC quickly spent all $5 million of a donation from the wife of casino magnate Sheldon Adelson on airtime in Florida. The ad accuses Romney of being identical to Obama. 
  4. GOP Response Knocks Obama: Indiana Gov. Mitch Daniels made Republicans gave a stern rebuttal to the president’s State of the Union address Tuesday night. “We do not accept that ours will ever be a nation of haves and have-nots; we must always be a nation of haves and soon-to-haves,” Daniels said after the speech.
  5. Marine Spared Jail for Iraqi MassacreMarine Staff Sgt. Frank Wuterich will not go to prison for the killing of 24 Iraqi civilians.

Photo: U.S. President Barack Obama greets Representative Gabrielle Giffords with a hug, before his State of the Union address. (Andrew Harrer / Bloomberg-Getty Images)

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5:45 PM, January 11th, 2012


A Strange Animal: The U.S. troops are leaving, but the journalists are staying in Iraq, working under deadlines and death threats. In a short documentary special for Newsweek & The Daily Beast, filmmaker Richard Pendry reveals the new techniques — more John LeCarre than J-school — reporters have devised to get the story in Iraq. Fascinating viewing for anyone interested in the intersection of war, conflict, and journalism.

Reblogged from Newsweek
10:22 AM, January 5th, 2012

Frontpage: Jan. 5th

  1. Candidates Descend on NH: The Republican circus packed up in Iowa and headed straight to New Hampshire Wednesday. Most significantly, Mitt Romney accepted the endorsement of John McCain
  2. U.S. to Cut Thousands of Troops: Defense Secretary Leon Panetta and President Obama will announce a new military budget that cuts troops by 10 to 15%. 
  3. Death Penalty Sought for Mubarak: Egyptian prosecutors are seeking death by hanging for the former president Hosni Mubarak, his two sons, and some of his former aides. They are on trial for ordering the shooting deaths of protesters in Cairo’s Tahrir Square last February. 
  4. Herman Cain to Launch Bus Tour: Cain will begin a national bus tour touting his 9-9-9 tax plan, a tour he is calling “Cain’s Solutions Revolution.” 
  5. Bombs Kill Dozen in Iraq: Four bombs killed at least 29 and wounded dozens more in Shiite areas of Baghdad, further raising the specter of civil war. 

Photo: Workers listen to Jon Huntsman give a speech in Pittsfield, N.H. (Matt Rourke)

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10:45 AM, December 22nd, 2011

Frontpage: Thursday, Dec. 22

  • Rove Tells Boehner to Cave on Tax: The House GOP continues to take criticism over its failure to pass a payroll-tax extension. Meanwhile the Boehner and Majority Leader Eric Cantor are taking heat from Republicans for failing to warn their Senate counterparts that, you know, it wasn’t going to pass in the House. 
  • At Least 63 Killed in Iraq Bombings: A dozen bombs killed 63 people in Baghdad on Thursday. These are the first major acts of violence since American troops pulled out earlier this week. 
  • Romney: I’d Deport Obama’s Uncle: Onyango Obama, 67, is a Kenyan with a case pending in Massachusetts for not returning to Kenya 20 years ago.  
  • U.S. Admits Blame in Pakistan Strike: The Pentagon has admitted responsibility for an air strike that killed 24 Pakistani soldiers on the Afghan border last month, blaming “inadequate co-ordination” with Pakistani officers. 
  • Ron Paul Storms Out of CNN Interview: The candidate who had been complaining about a lack of coverage said he was sick of being “pestered” about racist newsletters that were sent in his name during the ’90s. He took off his mic and stormed off he set with CNN’s Gloria Borger.  

Photo: People watch the launch of the Soyuz TMA-03M space ship from Baikonur, Kazakhstan carry a new crew to the International Space Station. (Dmitry Lovetsky / AP Photo)

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11:01 AM, December 16th, 2011

Frontpage: Friday, Dec. 16

Photo: Waves over 26 feet hit the coast of northwestern Spain. (Cabalar / EPA / Landov)

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    11:11 AM, December 15th, 2011

    Frontpage: Thursday, Dec. 15

    Photo: Russia’s Prime Minister Vladimir Putin arrives for his annual question-and-answer television program. Putin said the results of Russia’s parliamentary elections reflected popular opinion but said he was pleased by the sight of mass protests of mainly young people. (Alexey Druzhinin, AFP / Getty Images)

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    10:18 AM, December 12th, 2011

    Frontpage: Monday, Dec. 12

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    6:10 PM, December 7th, 2011

    Nasiriyah, Iraq: U.S. Army soldiers from the 2-82 Field Artillery, 3rd Brigade, 1st Cavalry Division, prepare their final convoy to Kuwait. (Dec. 7, 2011)

    Joe Raedle / Getty Images

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