"Wheels within wheels"
[the following selections all taken from today's San Jose Mercury News]
"The cost of the war in Iraq is skyrocketing, largely because tanks, trucks, helicopters and other military gear are wearing out in Iraq's harsh climate and have to be replaced faster than ever before, a review of military budgets shows. The Pentagon's cost for new weapons and equipment has risen sharply since U.S. troops entered Iraq, from about $8 billion in 2003 to more than $24 billion this year, according to statistics compiled by the Congressional Research Service. As a percentage, new equipment now accounts for 20 percent of military expenditures in Iraq and Afghanistan. The cost of replacing equipment is one of the factors likely to make Iraq one of the costliest military engagements in U.S. history." ("Fresh Military Gear Drives Up War Costs: Iraq's Climate Hard on Equipment")
"With oil prices above $70 a barrel fouling the world economy, dismay is focusing on Iraq, whose exports have slipped to their lowest levels since the 2003 invasion. Contrary to optimistic expectations, Iraq's oil production has slipped further and further since the U.S.-led invasion, to an average of 2 million barrels a day. . . . Those figures suggest misplaced optimism by Iraq's oil ministry, which in 2005 predicted crude production would reach 2.5 million or even 3 million barrels a day by the end of 2006. Analysts have called that prediction a pipe dream. Insurgents have been so deft at shutting down the pipelines from the giant fields aroud the northern city of Kirkuk that Iraq authorities tried to move crude by truck to its refineries and crude-burning power plants. But after insurgents attacked the trucks, drivers became difficult to recruit and the oil ministry was forced to cut production." ("Iraq's Failure at Oil Exports a Key to Crunch")
"The U.N. food agency said Friday that it is cutting rations in half for about 3 million refugees in Sudan's war-ravaged Darfur region because of a shortage of money, calling it 'scandalous' that it has to stretch out supplies while it pleads for funds. The World Food Program said it would reduce food handouts to 1,050 calories a person starting Monday -- down from the 2,1000 calories that is considered the daily mininum requirement, meaning some of those being helped could eventually face starvation. . . . Donor governments have given the World Food Program only $238 million of the $746 million the agency needs this year for the whole of Sudan, said WFP official Christiane Berthiaume." ("Money Shortage Forcing U.N. to Cut Food Aid to Sudan by Half")
"Lt. Col. Steven L. Jordan faces six charges, including allegations that between September 2003 and December 2004 he oppressed Iraqi detainess 'by subjecting them to forced nudity and intimidation by military walking dogs' and later repeatedly lied about his knowledge of any such abuse, according to the Army. Jordan would become the highest-ranking Army officer tried in the abuses at Abu Ghurayb. . . . Unrelated to the prisoner abuse, Jordan was also charged with fraud for submitting receipts for car repairs that were several hundred dollars more than the actual cost of the repairs." ("No. 2 Interrogation Officer Charged in Iraq Prison Abuse")