Nine Circles of Hell!: Friday, June 8, 2012 Nine Circles of Hell!


Your bitter blind broke gap-toothed radio show host Chuck Mertz‘s blog, ‘The Nine Circles of Hell!,’ is now posted every week day, Monday through Friday, at Noon (US central). It’s all the news that give you fits in print, today’s nine reminders that ‘This is Hell!’

Click on any of the Nine Circles! in bold, or the bonus story in italics, to go directly to the original article.

Chicago’s NATO Summit may have led to the increased drone attacks in Pakistan. The Los Angeles Times reports, a senior US official, speaking on condition of anonymity, said the Obama administration’s attitude on drones strikes in Pakistan is, “What do we have to lose?” The Times adds, “The CIA has launched eight Predator drone attacks since Pakistan’s president, Asif Ali Zardari, was invited to attend the May 20-21 NATO summit in Chicago but refused to make a deal to reopen crucial routes used to supply U.S. troops in Afghanistan, as the White House had hoped.” The Times quotes a senior congressional aide saying, “Obviously, something changed after Chicago.” After talks to reopen a Pakistan supply route to US and NATO forces in Afghanistan broke down, prior to the Chicago NATO Summit, “President Obama appeared to give Zardari a cold shoulder in Chicago. Pentagon officials will visit Islamabad this week for a new round of talks,” according to the Times. Instead, the US has now made a deal to open military supply routes through Uzbekistan, Kyrgyzstan and Kazakhstan, three countries with lovely human rights records. The Times also quotes Javed Ashraf Qazi, a retired Pakistani intelligence chief and former senator, saying, “(The US) are trying to send a message: ‘If you don’t come around, we will continue with our plan, the way we want to do it,’ … (It’s) … “superpower arrogance being shown to a smaller state…. But this will only increase the feeling among Pakistanis that the Americans are bent on having their way through force and not negotiation.” (Disappointingly, the Times article includes this misleading statement: “The senior US official said the Obama administration and members of Congress were angered when a Pakistani court sentenced Shakeel Afridi, a doctor who helped the CIA search for Osama bin Laden, to 33 years in prison.” The article does not point out that, despite early reports the doctor had been arrested by Pakistan for treason related to the bin laden killing, the doctor was actually arrested for links to the terror group, Lashkar-e-Islam.) In what we’re certain is a completely unrelated story, the commander of US and NATO troops in Afghanistan apologized for civilian deaths in a coalition drone airstrike earlier this week. Death comes in all forms during times of war. There’s been 154 US troop suicides in the first 155 days of 2012, a total that’s about 50% more than the number of troops killed in Afghanistan action this year. The Associated Press reports, “The 2012 active-duty suicide total of 154 through June 3 compares to 130 in the same period last year, an 18% increase. And it’s more than the 136.2 suicides that the Pentagon had projected for this period based on the trend from 2001-2011. This year’s January-May total is up 25% from two years ago, and it is 16% ahead of the pace for 2009, which ended with the highest yearly total thus far. Suicide totals have exceeded U.S. combat deaths in Afghanistan in earlier periods, including for the full years 2008 and 2009.” Then there’s suicide bombings. In Nigeria, a deadly suicide car bomb went off outside a police station in the stronghold of the opposition militant group The BBC reports, “Following the blast, security forces in the city stormed a suspected hideout of the Islamist Boko Haram group, prompting a fierce gun battle.” In Syria, their war rages on as well. UN monitors arrived at the site of a massacre that reportedly took place earlier this week. The BBC’s Paul Danahar at the scene said, “It is not hard to verify, as soon as you walk into the first house you are hit by the stench of burnt flesh. You can see that a terrible crime has taken place, everything has been burnt, houses have been gutted, there is an RPG (that has) blown a hole at the side of the house. The most distressing scenes were at the house next door. I walked in and saw pieces of brains lying on the floor. There was a tablecloth covered in blood and flesh and someone had tried to mop the blood up by pushing it into the corner, but seems they had given up because there was so much of it around. What we didn’t find were any bodies of people. What we did find were tracks on the tarmac (that) the UN said looked like armored personnel carriers or tanks.” There were also reports of heavy gunfire following a loud explosion in a Damascus neighborhood, a car bomb targeting a bus carrying security men in a Damascus suburb that killed at least two, another car bomb that hit a police branch in the north-western city of Idlib killing at least five, Syrian forces shelling Homs at the rate of ten rockets a minute, protests in Aleppo that ended with tear gas and gunfire, and Syrian forces pounding rebel hideouts in Deraa, the southern birthplace of the uprising. With all this happening, it’s no wonder Syrians are fleeing their homes. International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) spokesman Hicham Hassan said, “Currently the situation is extremely tense not only in Houla, not only in Hama, but in many, many places around the country.” Citing the fighting in and around Idlib, Damascus, Hama, Aleppo, Deraa, Deir-al-Zor and Latakia, Hassan said, “This leads simply to the fact people are still being displaced on a daily basis.” While Syrians try to escape the violence, Reuters reports, “At least 20 prisoners, most of them Taliban, escaped from a jail in northern Afghanistan after the insurgents destroyed a part of the building with an improvised explosive device. The jail break occurred on Thursday night in Sar-e-Pul province, and four prisoners were killed and 28 wounded in the gun battle that erupted with prison guards soon after the blast.” Finally this week, let’s close with two hellish stories on the environment, the first of which is almost certain to not appear on your US national nightly TV network news shows. The Toronto Gloe and Mail reports, “A large amount of oil has spilled from an Alberta pipeline into a creek, with an early estimate of 1,000 to 3,000 barrels leaking from the tributary and now flowing into the Red Deer River, one of the province’s most important waterways.” The Globe and Mail quotes Bruce Beattie, a senior official of Mountain View County, saying, “I would expect that the vast majority of it will end up in the Red Deer River. It’s a major concern.” The Globe and Mail adds, “Following heavy rainfall in Alberta over recent days, the Red Deer River is flowing fast and wide, a fact that stands to exacerbate the effects of the spill.” The legacy of disasters is often ignored, but when it comes to last year’s tsunami that will not be the case. The Associated Press reports, “The Japanese government estimates that 1.5 million tons of debris is floating in the ocean from the catastrophe. Some experts in the United States think the bulk of that trash will never reach shore, while others fear a massive, slowly-unfolding environmental disaster.” The AP quotes a Chris Pallister, president of a group dedicated to cleaning marine debris from the Alaska coastline, saying, “I think this is far worse than any oil spill that we’ve ever faced on the West Coast or any other environmental disaster we’ve faced on the West Coast.”

That’s the Nine Circles of Hell! for Friday, June 8, 2012.

Come back Sunday for The Nine Circles of Hell!: Sunday Morning Edition!