By key measures of the level of insurgent violence against US forces in Iraq -- numbers of dead, wounded and insurgent attacks -- the situation has grown worse since summer. \nWhile those numbers don't tell the full story of the conflict in Iraq, they suggest insurgents are growing more proficient, even as the size of the US force increases and US commanders succeed in soliciting more help from ordinary Iraqis. \nFor example: \nThe US military suffered at least 348 deaths in Iraq over the final four months of the year, more than in any other similar period since the invasion in March last year. \nThe number of wounded surpassed 10,000, with more than a quarter injured in the last four months as direct combat, roadside bombs and suicide attacks escalated. When US President George W. Bush declared May 1 that major combat operations were over, the number of wounded stood at just 542. \nThe number of attacks on US and allied troops grew from an estimated 1,400 attacks in September to 1,600 in October and 1,950 in November. A year earlier, the attacks numbered 649 in September, 896 in October and 864 in November. \nUS commanders insist they are making progress, in part by taking the fight more directly to the insurgents. And they remain hopeful that more US-trained Iraqi security forces will join the fight soon. \nSome observers are more doubtful. \n"The prospects in Iraq are grim," Dan Goure, an analyst at the private Lexington Institute think tank in Washington, said Thursday. He assessed the conflict as a standoff, with no clear indication that either side will achieve victory in the coming year. \n"Neither side can truly come to grips with the other so far and defeat them," Goure said. \nUS commanders constantly analyze the insurgents' tactics and make adjustments. \nYet although US forces have found tonnes of hidden weaponry and ammunition, the insurgents kill almost daily with makeshift bombs known as improvised explosive devices. \nThey plant the bombs along roads or stuff them into cars for suicide attacks. \nBrigadier General Jeffrey Sorenson, a senior Army acquisition official, said Thursday it has taken the Army many months to counter the IED threat because war planners had not foreseen its scope. \n"The violence of the IEDs, the sophistication of some of those IEDs, was never anticipated," Sorenson said. "I can certainly attest to that." \nThe toll is clear. \nPentagon statistics show that for all of 2004, at least 838 US troops died in Iraq. Of that total, more than 700 were killed in action, by far the highest number of American battlefield deaths since at least 1980, the first year the Pentagon compiled all-service casualty statistics. \nIt almost certainly is the highest killed-in-action total for any year since the Vietnam War. \nUS deaths averaged 62 per month through the first half of the year. But since June 28, when US officials restored Iraqi sovereignty and dissolved the US civilian occupation authority, that average has jumped to about 78. \nDeaths among National Guard and Reserve troops are rising, reaching a single-month peak of 27 in November. At least 17 were killed in December.
Henry Tong (湯偉雄) and Elaine To (杜依蘭) were preparing to spend their first wedding anniversary in separate prison cells until their acquittal for rioting during Hong Kong’s pro-democracy protests. There were gasps and tears of relief in court on Friday last week as a judge declared prosecutors had failed to prove that the couple took part in clashes with police in July last year. The pair walked free in a ruling that has potential consequences for hundreds of other protesters facing similar charges. However, they have a long journey ahead as they try to rebuild their lives and business. “We have already been punished,”
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