Marines who embarrass us (5×8 – 1/12/12)

The few but not the proud, the neighborhood where Terrell died, treated like dogs, build your own president, and bottles of hope.


There’s very little about war that makes any sense, but the video of U.S. Marines urinating on the bodies of dead Taliban is particularly disturbing. And, of course, it only makes the job of the Taliban that much easier.

“The US soldiers who urinated on dead bodies of Muslims have committed a crime,” Kabul resident Feda Mohammad told Reuters news agency via the BBC.

“Since they’ve committed such a crime, we don’t want them on our soil anymore.”

The soldiers appear to know they’re being filmed, and it’s not yet clear who filmed it, nor who put it online via Live Leak where most comments did not mirror the outrage when dead U.S. soldiers were hung from a bridge in Falujah.

The footage emerged on where some people left comments in support of what the soldiers had done, the Daily Mail says.

One commenter wrote: ‘We’re all proud of you guys’, while another put: ‘The first bath they have had in years!’ and ‘cut their heads off and bury them with a pig’.

However others were disgusted and wrote: ‘Not cool.. fight with honor and dignity for others, you sign up to get shot at so deal with it , set an example for future Soldiers. dont pee on the dead.’

Here’s the video. The link is posted with warnings of the graphical nature.

The story is also providing a glimpse into how journalism organizations are handling it. The BBC has made it today’s top story, it’s on the front pages of many European newspapers, the Washington Post doesn’t mention it on its website’s front page, even though it posts several stories about the war in Afghanistan. The New York Times carries it as a small wire-service post. The Star Tribune has one paragraph tucked on its back page of the “A” section. Stars and Stripes, the military newspaper, has it at the top of its website today.


The Star Tribune is carrying the compelling story today of the neighborhood where Terrell Mayes Jr., lived until a stray bullet killed him on the day after Christmas. He was just three years old.

It’s a picture of deteriorating housing, absentee landlords, and residents who are either digging in to stay, or ready to flee an unacceptable situation.

This is the same block that was profiled by the Star Tribune in 1996, when the paper reported how neighbors on the block were coping with the transition from owner-occupied homes to rentals as landlords from the suburbs snatched up Minneapolis properties. The trend has continued, with the number of owner-occupied homes falling from two-thirds in 1996 to less than half today.

The foreclosure crisis took another swipe at the block’s stability, with 14 foreclosures on 12 properties since 2007. Two properties were condemned and boarded up in 2008, city records show.

A recent study concluded that Hawthorne, which includes this block, is among the most problematic of the North Side’s 12 neighborhoods because of the combination of deteriorating housing, a 10 percent vacancy rate, a 48 percent drop in housing market value over the past 3 1/2 years and only 33 percent owner-occupied homes.

City officials and others have been pretty quiet since last month’s killing. Today’s article would lead many readers to ask the obvious question: What would be happening if young Terrell died in any other neighborhood?


We’ve had a good discussion elsewhere on the blog this week about what news is and whether some types of stories that tend to happen all the time are actually “news.” Today’s category for the topic: Dog rescues. A few weeks ago, a dog was rescued from icy waters in northwest Minnesota. It was news even though dogs are rescued all the time.

This morning in Moorhead, firefighters revived a dog caught in a house fire. News.

Why? Maybe it reflects how much we value a higher life form — canines.

Here’s another dog rescue story, called to my attention by colleague Julia Schrenkler. In Florida, a man was in his sea kayak when he found a dog paddling, fairly far out in the Gulf of Mexico.

It turned out the dog was being walked by a woman, who was killed when hit by a drunk driver. The dog fled and ended up in the Gulf.

The kayaker told his story to a radio station in Seattle. Listen in.

More pups: Thais help dogs escape Vietnamese dinner table (AP)


Not happy with the choices you’ve got, build your own.


Related: Stephen Colbert considers a run …


“I’m giving some hope and happiness to someone who is struggling with a disease,” Adele Schumacher tells the Fargo Forum. “I’m hoping that when they look at that bottle, they’ll say, ‘Someone is thinking about me and praying for me that I will recover’.”

Bottles of Hope has come to the Red River Valley. It started in Rhode Island in 1999 when an artist started decorating medicine bottles for cancer patients.

Bonus: The divided brain and the making of the western world.


The candidates competing for the Republican presidential nomination have experience in politics, business, diplomacy, medicine and other fields. Today’s Question: What professional experience best prepares someone for the presidency?


Midmorning (9-11 a.m.) – First hour: The year in science.

Second hour: Motown legend Martha Reeves.

Midday (11 a.m. – 1 p.m.) – First hour: Sen. Al Franken.

Second hour: MPR documentary about anti-semitism in Minneapolis in the ’30s and ’40s, called “No Jews Allowed”. U of M emeritus history professor Hy Berman will answer questions afterward.

Talk of the Nation (1-3 p.m.) – First hour: The politics of abortion.

Second hour: Police procedure after a shooting.

  • Bob Moffitt

    Those Marines stupidly put other lives at risk with that bone-headed stunt, and I’m sure their careers will suffer as a result.

    That said, Feda Mohammad should remember how respectful the Taliban treated their fellow Muslims, living or dead.

    I see no good ending for the people of Afghanistan or the United States in this conflict. The sooner we leave, the better. I think the nation has no better chance of standing without us than South Vietnam did.

  • BenCh

    The Marines did something they should not have done, but I doubt it will be the last. War makes people do some horrible things. I think these types of acts have been done in the past, but with the introduction of digital media it is a lot easier to document it and a lot easier for it to leak. I am hoping this attention gets them to realize what they did and what it is doing to the security of our country.

    Re: Dogs,

    I was just thinking about the dog rescuing story a few days ago. Your post here reminded me of a friend from Montana who currently has a lost dog. He called all the local radio stations to try to get an ad on the air so more people would look. Every radio station did- except the “Christian” radio stations.

    What a world we live in.

  • Jim Shapiro

    I’m not embarrassed by the marines.

    They’re merely suffering pawns in a losing game, whose job is to kill or be killed.

    It’s either disingenuous or the height of naivete’ to be Shocked! Shocked! when disturbing acts such as this occur in a war.

    What this video and it’s posting shows is that the hearts and minds strategy has inevitably broken down, indicating an understandable failure of combat discipline, and a more disturbing failure of command leadership.

    As an American, I’m much more embarrassed by the politicians who put our armed forces into this absurd and unwinnable situation and keep them there, long after it has become clear that the only positive option for the US is to declare victory and get the hell out.

    The evil that is the Taliban feeds on the evil of war, and they recruit from an ever growing pool of angry Afghans who don’t have access to the graft of the tribal warlords or corrupt government.

    I wish I knew how to protect the women and children of this God-forsaken place, but short of killing almost every male old enough to carry a gun or throw acid into a girls face, I’m at a loss.

  • Jim Shapiro

    Re The Divided Brain vid:

    WOW! What a fun, informative piece on neurology, anthropology,history, sociology, psychology, technology and philosophy! ( I’m sure I forgot one.)

    Thanks, Bob!

  • John P II

    I’m still shocked when people suggest genocide as an alternative Jim.

    I don’t even want to think about the things our troops do that we don’t ever hear about, but performing for the camera is just plain stupid.

  • Jim Shapiro

    John P II – I’m happy for you that you still have the capacity to be shocked. Ignorance is bliss and all that stuff.

    But if you re-read my comment, I think you’ll probably discern that I was being facetious, and I called specifically for adultmaleocide (sp?), not genocide.

    I don’t want to think about what happens in war either, but that bell’s already been rung for me. Perhaps that’s why I have no qualms about expressing my feelings about it.

    Performing for the camera in this case was an act of triumphant camaraderie by young men who kill for a living.

    What was most stupid was publicizing the photo,

    and of course being there in the first place.