Current Events and the Psychology of Politics

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Aug 13th, 2010

Summary: The number of civilians killed or wounded in the Afghan conflict rose 31 percent in the first six months of 2010, with anti-government forces causing about three-quarters of the casualties, according to a report by the United Nations Assistance Mission in Afghanistan (UNAMA). … One-year retrospective: One year ago today, on August 13, 2009 Aubrey Immelman reported that U.S. Marines surging into Helmand province, southern Afghanistan, to protect citizens ahead of the August 20 national election were meeting fierce resistance from the Taliban.

Jun 28th, 2010

Summary: The U.S. has often overestimated the ability of Afghan military and police units to fight on their own, according to an independent report that calls into question the strategy to win the war and bring troops home. … One-year retrospective: One year ago today, on June 28, 2009 Aubrey Immelman provided his weekly summary of security incidents in Iraq (Operation Iraqi Freedom) and Afghanistan (Operation Enduring Freedom).

Jun 24th, 2010

Summary: President Barack Obama says his ouster of the top commander in Afghanistan, Gen. Stanley McChrystal, would not disrupt his war strategy or timeline for withdrawing U.S. troops from Afghanistan. … One-year retrospective: One year ago today, on June 24, 2009 Aubrey Immelman featured a book review of Bill Prendergast’s illustrated history of U.S. Rep. Michele Bachmann’s political career in comic book format, titled “False Witness! The Michele Bachmann Story.”

Jun 23rd, 2010

Summary: President Barack Obama has relieved Gen. Stanley McChrystal of his command in the Afghanistan war, naming Gen. David Petraeus as his replacement. … One-year retrospective: One year ago today, on June 23, 2009 Aubrey Immelman provided his weekly report of U.S. military deaths in Operation Iraqi Freedom and Operation Enduring Freedom (Afghanistan), compiled from U.S. Department of Defense News Releases.

Apr 29th, 2010

Summary: U.S. troops raided the home of a female member of the Afghan parliament and killed a neighbor who was one of her relatives, sparking angry protests. … One-year retrospective: One year ago today, on April 29, 2009, Aubrey Immelman reported that Iraq was falling fall far behind schedule in creating a system to maintain its own military equipment, costing American taxpayers hundreds of millions of dollars to fill in the gaps, according to a U.S. audit by the Special Inspector General for Iraq Reconstruction. Meanwhile, the death toll from twin car bomb blasts in a crowded Baghdad market rose to 51. The car bombs, which also wounded 76 people in the capital’s sprawling Sadr City slum, followed a series of other attacks in the previous two weeks, stirring fears of a return to broader sectarian bloodshed in Iraq.

Mar 15th, 2010

Summary: The arrest of Mullah Abdul Ghani Baradar — second in the Taliban only to one-eyed leader Mullah Mohammed Omain — has reportedly infuriated Afghan President Hamid Karzai, who is said to have been holding secret peace talks with the Taliban’s No. 2 when he was captured in Pakistan in February 2010. … One-year retrospective: One year ago today, on March 15, 2009, Aubrey Immelman featured a live video feed of the closing arguments in Minnesota’s U.S. Senate recount trial to decide the winner of the race between incumbent Republican Norm Coleman and Democratic challenger Al Franken.

Mar 14th, 2010

Summary: Insurgents say deadly bomb attacks in the southern Afghan city of Kandahar are a warning to NATO’s top commander, Gen. Stanley McChrystal, that the Taliban are ready for a coming offensive in their heartland. … One-year retrospective: One year ago today, on March 14, 2009, Aubrey Immelman reported that Jeff Kass, one of the first reporters on the scene of the Columbine High School shooting on April 20, 1999, had completed the definitive work on the tragedy, “Columbine: A True Crime Story.” (Immelman collaborated on the project, developing psychological profiles of shooters Eric Harris and Dylan Klebold.)

Feb 5th, 2010

Summary: The U.S. is preparing a major attack on the Taliban, the militants are being squeezed in their Pakistani sanctuaries, and the Afghan government is trying to draw them into peace talks. … NATO is sending reinforcements to Kandahar, 260 miles southwest of Kabul, ahead of a major offensive to reverse Taliban gains in southern Afghanistan. … Suicide bomb kills 6 in Afghan south. A bomb on a parked motorcycle exploded on the outskirts of the holy city of Karbala, killing at least 20 Shiite pilgrims and wounding 110. … One-year retrospective: One year ago today, on February 5, 2009, Aubrey Immelman reported that with the reduction of violence in Iraq following a U.S. troop “surge” and other measures, foreign militants were flooding into Afghanistan to join Taliban insurgents battling Afghan and international troops. He also reported that Father Bruce Wollmering OSB, monk and priest, died suddenly on February 4, 2009 at Saint John’s Abbey in Collegeville, Minn. Subsequently, on December 9, 2009, it was reported that former student Jeramiah (Jerry) McCarthy had filed a fraud lawsuit against St. John’s Prep School and Abbey for allegedly covering up sexual misconduct by Fr. Bruce Wollmering since the mid-1960s.

Jan 23rd, 2010

Summary: The death of two U.S. soldiers in southern Afghanistan has brought to at least 22 the number of American service members killed so far this month — compared with only 14 for the whole of January 2009. … In Pakistan, militants ambushed Pakistani security forces at checkpoints in two regions close to the Afghan border, sparking gunbattles that left 22 insurgents and two troops dead. … One-year retrospective: One year ago today, on January 23, 2009, Aubrey Immelman reported that a U.S. Army probe into suicides among Houston-based recruiters, all veterans of combat in Iraq and Afghanistan, said medical problems factored in the deaths but none had been diagnosed with post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).

Jan 14th, 2010

Summary: A group of prominent Muslim clerics, led by Sheik Abdul-Majid al-Zindani, warned they will call for jihad, or holy war, if the U.S. sends troops to fight al-Qaida in Yemen. … Taliban suicide bombings and other attacks caused Afghan civilian deaths to soar in 2009 to the highest annual level of the war, a U.N. report has found, while deaths attributed to allied troops dropped nearly 30 percent — advancing a key U.S. public diplomacy goal for winning over the Afghan people. … One-year retrospective: One year ago today, on January 14, 2009, Aubrey Immelman reported that Iranian demonstrators, waving Palestinian flags and chanting “Death to Obama,” burned photographs of Barack Obama in Tehran a week before his inauguration as president as they protested against America’s inaction over Gaza.