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Thursday, September 1, 2011

CASUALTIES OF WAR

We have been in Afghanistan now for ten years, and experienced this past month of August our highest number of deaths, at least 67.  Of course, 30 of them, mostly Navy Seals, died on one Chinook helicopter crash.  Operation Enduring Freedom / Afghanistan has resulted in 1754 deaths.  It has been estimated that 35,000 Taliban (left) have been killed.  However, they're still there, and as strong as ever.  Supposedly, we did considerable damage to the Al qaeda, for there are fewer than 500 of them there today, if not only 50, compared to 36,000 Taliban (hmmm...a 50% death rate???).  We have, of course, already begun to leave Afghanistan, but at least one source has us signing to stay there until 2024.

Conversely, it has been eight years since Operation Iraqi Freedom and August was the very first month no one was killed.  There remain 48,000 of our troops in that country and 4,465 soldiers have died.  In comparison, the official civilian death count is more than 100,000.  But, then, what is "official," as a little more than three years ago, The Guardian reported 151,000 civilian deaths.  

Regarding Afghanistan, the Soviet invasion in the 80's also lasted for close to a decade, and they suffered 14,533 deaths, while somewhere between 56,000 and 90,000 Mujahideen (right in 1987) were killed.  The civilian death count ranged between 600,00 and 2 million.  Five million civilians became refugees outside Afghanistan.

In case you were wondering, as they kind of dress the same, about the difference between Taliban and Mujahideen, click on those groups.  Both are Islamic, but it's kind of hard to explain.  In short, the Taliban are from Afghanistan and the Mujahideen can also be found in a wide swath of countries from Somalia through many of the former Soviet states.  So you ask, how do the Taliban and Al qaeda groups differ?  Both are terrorist organizations...ah...click on them to read the difference.  These are two Al qaeda warriors, as portrayed by Monte Wolverton:
And, of course, the ultimate fallen AQ boss:

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The Dow Jones Industrials dropped 120 to 11,494, with world markets mixed.  Gold fell a buck to $1826/toz, while oil is at $114/barrel (Brent) and $89/barrel (WTI).

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In the Atlantic, Hurricane Katia will strengthen into a Category 3 storm this weekend, and has taken a small, but ominous turn closer toward the U.S.:
I suspect this storm will weaken before making any kind of landfall, and, certainly, nothing to panic over at this point, but the latest ensemble models show a slight movement closer to North Carolina (compare this with yesterday by scrolling down):

In the West Pacific, apparently Tropical Storm Talas will not become a typhoon, as is now projected to move right over Awajishima (in the 1990's I was on that island when this happened):


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