Even in a country ravaged by 15 months of war, the scene was horrific: a woman's head had been placed on a box containing the ashes of her cremated body. This was her punishment for working as an interpreter for US forces in Iraq. \nAnother interpreter was pursued on his way from work by men spraying his car with an assault rifle. They left him for dead after his car flipped over in a ditch. Insurgents entered the home of an Iraqi National Guard battalion, tied his family up and threatened to kill them if the commander didn't quit. \nIn the weeks running up to the establishment of a new Iraq government, insurgents have stepped up attacks on Iraqi civilians who cooperate with and work alongside coalition forces. The message from the guerrillas is clear: anyone who helps build the new, US-supported Iraqi government faces death. \n"We still believe in democracy and freedom," said Sheik Saud al-Shibley, a tribal leader and vice president of the national farmer's union, who has survived three assassination attempts. "Everybody sees us and at anytime we can get hit ... [but] I don't care about these things, I carry on with life." \nWhile several senior Iraqi officials have been assassinated -- including two members of the former Iraqi Governing Council -- no one knows for sure how many Iraqi civilians have been killed for having contact with US forces. \nOn Tuesday, two women working as interpreters for an American company in Basra were ambushed and killed while driving home from work. In the last three weeks, two of the 10 farmers' union leaders have been killed and three out of a group of 24 interpreters have died at the hands of insurgents. \nEvery slaying takes a toll on the thousands of unarmed Iraqis who cooperate with US forces. \n"Any person who goes to the Americans is considered a spy," said Sheik Wadah Maliek el-Sayed, a tribal leader who has acted as a mediator between US forces and hardline Iraqi religious leaders. \nHe said the purpose of the interaction determined whether a meeting with Americans is allowable. \n"When we come to visit the Americans to solve some problem, people know we are speaking for them," Wadah said. "If [an Iraqi] is only helping themselves, they will be killed." \nTwo elected neighborhood council member have been killed in the last two months, US army officers said. Colonel Michael Formica, whose 2nd Brigade of the 1st Cavalry Division controls west Baghdad, warned members of one council to change their meeting times and locations, and to be careful when driving between work and home. \n"You must change your daily routine," Formica told the council. "If you could take a few weeks off, that would be a good thing." \nMany of the council members asked for special weapons permits to arm bodyguards. \nThe next day, Formica attended a memorial service for Maytham Taleb Hammed Habib, a former lieutenant colonel in the Iraqi army, who worked as an interpreter for a new Iraqi National Guard battalion. He had suffered under former dictator Saddam Hussein's regime and was passionate about helping build a new, democratic Iraq. \nHe was killed by insurgents while returning home from work. Most of the interpreters do not want to be named or interviewed for fear they may be next.
EVOLVING SITUATION: Of the latest cases, 23 percent were found to be asymptomatic, but the coronavirus strain in Da Nang is more contagious, authorities said A COVID-19 outbreak that began in the Vietnamese city of Da Nang more than a week ago has spread to at least four city factories with a combined workforce of about 3,700, state media reported yesterday. Four cases were found at the plants in different industrial parks in the central city that collectively employ 77,000 people, the Lao Dong newspaper said. Vietnam, praised widely for its decisive measures to combat the novel coronavirus since it first appeared in late January, is battling new clusters of infection having gone for more than three months without detecting any domestic transmissions. Authorities yesterday reported one new
WARNINGS OVER COMPLACENCY: The curves of new infections in numerous countries is climbing, while others see the the first new infections in months Spikes in COVID-19 infections in Asia have dispelled any notion that the region might be over the worst, with Australia and India yesterday reporting record daily infections, Vietnam fretting over a new surge and North Korea urging vigilance. Asian nations had largely prided themselves on rapidly containing initial outbreaks after the coronavirus emerged in central China late last year, but flare-ups this month have shown the danger of complacency. “We’ve got to be careful not to slip into some idea that there’s some golden immunity that Australia has in relation to this virus,” Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison told reporters. Australia recorded its
‘COVIDIOTS’: Politicians condemned the protest that came amid surging infections in the country, while a marcher said government-induced fear weakened the body Loudly chanting their opposition to masks and vaccines, thousands of people on Saturday gathered in Berlin to protest against COVID-19 restrictions before being dispersed by police. Police put turnout at about 20,000 — well below the 500,000 organizers had announced as they urged a “day of freedom” from months of virus curbs. Despite Germany’s comparatively low toll, authorities are concerned at a rise in infections over the past few weeks and politicians took to social media to criticize the rally as irresponsible. “We are the second wave,” shouted the crowd, a mixture of hard left and right and conspiracy theorists, as they converged
The Australian government yesterday said that it plans to give Google and Facebook three months to negotiate with media businesses fair pay for news content. In releasing a draft of a mandatory code of conduct, Canberra aims to succeed where other nations have failed in making tech firms pay for news siphoned from commercial media companies. Australian Treasurer Josh Frydenberg said that Google and Facebook would be the first platforms targeted by the proposed legislation, but others could follow. “It’s about a fair go for Australian news media businesses, it’s about ensuring that we have increased competition, increased consumer protection and a sustainable