Looks like I'll be working all night tonight, so I'll have to make this quick.
I want to talk about this story. It's a good one. Maybe the AP felt bad after I brought the hammer down on them yesterday. The story actually covers the most important information first (despite the fact that it highlights our progress), and saves the "Al-Jazeera talking points" for last. This seems to be a new approach for the AP. Who knows, maybe I really did hurt their feelings...
First, let's start with the opening:
Iraqi forces, backed by U.S. soldiers, stormed one of the major Sunni Muslim mosques in Baghdad after Friday prayers, opening fire and killing at least three people, witnesses said. In the battle for control of Mosul, Iraqi forces raided several areas overnight, killing 15 insurgents, Iraqi and U.S. military officials said.
About 40 people were arrested at the Abu Hanifa mosque in the capital's northwestern Azamiyah neighborhood, said the witnesses, who were members of the congregation. Another five people were wounded.
It appeared the raid at Abu Hanifa mosque, long associated with anti-American activity, was part of the crackdown on Sunni clerical militants launched in parallel with military operations against the insurgent stronghold of Fallujah.
Nice work. These guys have been asking for a smackdown for a long time. They're finally getting it.
Remember when I talked about the good people of Mosul and their propensity to turn insurgents into money? Allow me to present Exhibit "A":
At least 13 other insurgents were captured in Mosul, authorities said.
and Exhibit "B":
In western Mosul, Iraqi National Guard and a special police force raided several areas Thursday night, killing 15 insurgents and capturing 10 others, Deputy Gov. Khasro Gouran said.
The raid on the al-Zaharawi hospital in Mosul - Iraq's third-largest city - was conducted by Iraqi commandos with the Ministry of the Interior's Special Police Force, backed by U.S. troops.
Forces cordoned it off after getting information that insurgents were treating their wounded there, said Lt. Col. Paul Hastings with Task Force Olympia.
Well, that didn't take very long. It also looks like I was right about the rapid mobilization of LTG Petraeus' Iraqi Sooper Troopers. These guys are looking more compitent and confident every day. That's a very good sign. And it gets better:
U.S. and Iraqi forces began a major military operation Tuesday to wrest control of Mosul after gunmen last week attacked police stations, bridges and political offices in apparent support of Fallujah guerrillas. On Friday, three of the city's five bridges were reopened to traffic and most of the city remained calm, though U.S. forces came under some "indirect fire" that caused no injuries, Hastings said.
Yep- this sounds like the Mosul I remember.
What about Zarqawi? How's he feeling about all this? Probably not so good. Especially when he finds out about this:
Inside the house, an imposing structure with concrete columns, U.S. soldiers found documents, old computers, notebooks, photographs and copies of the Quran. Several bodies also were found.
Yeah, he's not going to like that.
Yesterday, I highlighted this now-famous quote from last week, "The U.S. military said on Thursday this week's Falluja offensive would not shatter Iraq's insurgency."
But now we get this from Lt. Gen. John Sattler:
"We feel right now that we have, as I mentioned, broken the back of the insurgency."
That's a FLIP-FLOP!!!! Okay, he's not running for President so we'll give him a pass. Besides, I have to agree with the good General. Things are not looking good for the bad guys right now. This flurry of real news has apparently buried the "Marine on tape" story or at least pushed it to the far back burner. I'm not finding anything about it in cyberspace. That's usually a good sign, so I'm going to leave it alone for now. We'll see how the press handles the weekend off-cycle. They have LOTS of news to choose from- we'll see what they highlight and what they leave alone. Let me know how it goes...
159th Movie Update
This just in from Eric the Director. Seems that our film is on hold for now. Not to worry- it will get out there. I know this because we are on a mission, and we don't accept failure as an option. The good news is that the film is complete- read on:
Of all the big plans we had for Desert Sky to be available at the end of November... I'm afraid they will not happen. We've discovered that the distributing process for getting the film available on-line has opened a Pandora's Box of legal issues and contractual nuances which have brought us to a halt - FOR THE TIME BEING. We are hesitantly looking into independently distributing the film (imagine my Executive Producer's living room with boxes to the ceiling) but the process for receiving payment (e-commerce) and fulfilling orders could be a 2 month process before anyone had the DVD in their hands. We could possibly have a distributor by then and have it on-line at Amazon.com or Barnesandnoble.com for a much broader audience. This decision process is what we are in the middle of, right now.
A big factor in not necessarily wanting to independently distribute the film, and instead, use an industry distributor is because they can maximize potential for the film's sale and ultimately increase contributions to the scholarship funds it will benefit. We here at Wide Open Films all have day-jobs that already support us so we're not in it for the profit. So far, I've estimated all the man-hours contributed to the film has exceeded $60,000 ($100,000 if done in Los Angeles/Hollywood) in value. Everyone on the production team has contributed pro-bono with the foreknowledge that the film may never earn enough to compensate them for their time. I've been humbled by how much they believe in this project to sacrifice so much.
Like I said in the October update... "We haven't gone this far just to watch it slip into anonymity" I'm traveling to the east coast next week to screen the film in New England and be a guest on Bob Wolf's radio talk show (Albany's WPYX Classic Rock). Thanks to my friend Anna Saldo for setting it up. In December we hope to conduct private screenings of Desert Sky in Tucson, Los Angeles and Phoenix to help promote the film to would-be distributors and supporters. The Public Affairs office at Fort Rucker has also offered to host a screening as well. Fort Rucker is the home of Army Aviation and the current station for many former members (and family) of the 159th to include my old boss Colonel Bill Forrester.
On the brighter side, THE FILM IS COMPLETE. Jimmy Dunn's score to the film is fantastic! Late last week I laid the music down in the film and burned some preliminary DVD copies of the final cut and sent them to various media representatives across the U.S. for their review.
Bottom line: The ball is still rolling, we are working hard to get the film out, but I have to take back what I said about a November release and do as my Grandma Tutu once said, "...eat crow". Please accept my apologies for the delay. Enjoy your holidays and expect another update around the end of December. We hope to have hooked a distributor by then... but I can't promise nuthin'
If anyone knows anything or anyone that has anything to do with distributing please contact Eric (see website for contact info)