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More collateral damage?
The United States military acknowledged today that six more children have been killed in a bombing raid in operations against suspected Taliban members in eastern Afghanistan.

The children and two adults were killed in an attack on Friday night when United States special forces raided the compound of a known militant.

It is the second time in a week that the United States has admitted killing children in airstrikes in Afghanistan.

Although aware of the children's deaths on Saturday, the military did not acknowledge them until Wednesday when a journalist raised the question at a news conference in Kabul, where a constitutional council is convening this weekend.

Then there is this rather inane decision to bar France, Germany, Russia even the so far fairly neutral India, from bidding on contracts involving reconstruction and development projects in Iraq. Obviously, none of the disbarred countires are much too happy,
A leading German industry group said the Pentagon decision seemed in breach of fair-bidding principles for public works agreed among rich nations.

"We suspect that in substance it contradicts the OECD principles for international tenders for public projects, although the United States in particular always calls for observing these principles," said Ludolf von Wartenberg, general manager of the Federation of German Industry.

Over more than a century, Germans built much of modern Iraq -- from the Baghdad-Istanbul railway to the central bank building in Baghdad and the national university, along with dams, bridges, roads and canals.

Steven L. Schooner, co-director of the government procurement program at the George Washington University law school, disagreed. "It's an extraordinary step when you tell your trading partners that, because of their position on a difficult policy issue, you won't do business with their firms," he said. "From a public procurement standpoint, this is embarrassing. Our defense department, the government's largest purchasing agency, has published a document affirmatively discriminating against many of our trading partners."

Finally, the country with the world's second largest reserves of oil is buying it at the amazing price of $2.64/gallon on average and sometimes as high as $3.06/gallon. Halliburton is raking in the moolah and the money is coming from the United Nations Oil for Food program, though the American taxpayer starts subsidizing oil imports beginning next year.
A spokeswoman for Halliburton, Wendy Hall, defended the company's pricing. "It is expensive to purchase, ship, and deliver fuel into a wartime situation, especially when you are limited by short-duration contracting," she said. She said the company's Kellogg Brown & Root unit, which administers the contract, must work in a "hazardous" and "hostile environment," and that its profit on the contract is small.

Iraqi's state oil company, SOMO, pays 96 cents a gallon to bring in gas, which includes the cost of gasoline and transportation costs, the aides to Mr. Waxman said. The gasoline transported by SOMO — and by Halliburton's subcontractor — are delivered to the same depots in Iraq and often use the same military escorts.

So what do these mean? Well, for most parts the war and destruction nee construction of Iraq is going as planned.

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