2 ‘Well-furnished’ Libraries Dedicated in Monrovia

first_imgTwo libraries constructed with funding provided by a retired Dutch volunteer residing in Monrovia, were dedicated over the weekend amidst widespread jubilations spear-headed by school administrators and the student body. The refurbished well-furnished libraries were dedicated at the William V.S. Tubman High and its Sinkor-based annex, the A. Glenn Tubman Elementary and Junior High School, respectively. In an exclusive interview shortly after the well-attended indoor program, Madam Jaeq Turel told the Daily Observer that the projects were borne out of her curiosity to see Liberian students adopt a culture of reading, but with comprehension.Not only did Madam Turel refurbished the two libraries, she was also instrumental in soliciting books and other useful materials that have arose the interest of students to spend most of their leisure hours in school in these libraries. According to her, it was about two years ago when she conceived the idea to revamp and or refurbish libraries of few selected schools in Monrovia especially at the Tubman High and the A. Glenn Elementary schools where she noticed the students could not properly read. Before starting the process, Madam Turel had helped tutor the students primarily with the reading subject where she herself got involved by teaching them to read and understand what they had read. “In my country-The Netherland, some parents like me, most often go to the campuses of schools, especially the primary schools, and begin to teach alongside the teachers some basics of reading to the pupils. This is what I also want to get involve in Liberia while here in my retired age.” She said, because Liberian students are noticed to be lacking (not there) behind in reading, “I started looking for the money as well as other essential reading materials, including current books for primary schools in order to refurbish the libraries. I also encourage the students to take advantage of the libraries.” Unlike in Liberia, she said, in The Netherland (her homeland), parents sometimes volunteered to teach the pupils how to read and write, while the teachers are also doing likewise.  With all the help from Madam Turel by giving the over 2,370 students the needed assistance through refurbishing the libraries, she noted that there were challenges owing to the lack of electricity to provide light and get other stand fans and other appliances (pieces of equipment) functional in the libraries. She also cited the lack of running safe drinking water for the students and their administrators. Madam Turel has expressed gratitude to the Liberian business community and individuals, who helped by making financial contributions to the projects as well as those who donated materials, including wooden tables and other materials to make the projects fruitful. She also extended thanks to the few trained librarians for their tireless efforts to impact the required knowledge to the students. At the occasion, the students as well as their administrators and even other educators, who were in attendance were provided a T-shirt each with various inscriptions, such like…”I support the National Reading Campaign, Learn to Read to Learn!!!, Reading Brightens Your Life, etc.” Several other persons, who made remarks called for help to empower the teachers, and also provide all time maintenance that would preserve the libraries.“We are grateful to Madam Turel for the projects, but we are equally concern about our students making the necessary use of the libraries wherein they would stop running to video clubs and ridding motor-bikes,” each of the speakers corroborated  the previous speakers.While urging for the maintenance of the projects at all times, Monrovia Consolidated School System (MCSS) Superintendent, A. Benjamin Jacobs called on the students to make maximum use of the facilities.“If you cannot read, you cannot go anywhere in your academic pursuit, because all of our successes in education begin with reading; one have to read to understand the necessities of life. This is how important reading is as it was also written on the T-shirts distributed among the students and others at the program.Share this:Click to share on Twitter (Opens in new window)Click to share on Facebook (Opens in new window)last_img read more

10 Indicted over FI Bank’s Missing US$1.2M

first_imgThe grand jury for Montserrado County has finally indicted 10 former employees of the First International Bank (FIB) in connection with the alleged disappearance of US$1.2 million, which was allegedly stolen from the bank.The accused were charged with the commission of the crime, money laundering, theft of property, criminal conspiracy and facilitation and forgery.Those employees charged are Jermaine Tegli, head of operations, Beyan Dadzi, resident auditor, Richard Gboyah, head of operations, Victoria Yanguba, resident auditor,  Africanus Freeman, cash officer and Kebbeh Kulah, also cash officer,Others include; Roberts Cummings, Angie Brooks, Aurelia Tamba and Ngadi Warity, all tellers of the bank.They are expected to go on trial in early November, according to the court document.The court document said that between the period January 2012 to February 2013, the defendants allegedly used withdrawal slips filled in, approved, signed and in some instances not signed and without the knowledge and participation of the customers diverted an amount of US$1,220,028.54 from the bank.It further alleged that Co-defendants Jermaine Tegil and Africanus Freeman, without any authorization, fraudulently used the bank’s manager’s checks account to withdraw the total amount of US$1,102,859.21.According to the document, co-defendant Africanus Freeman, who served as cash officer, posted an amount to the system in excess of amounts actually paid to MoniGram and Western Union’s customers and thereafter converted the amount fraudulently posted.  The bank lost US$1,269,102.75.Co-defendants Robert Cummings, Jermaine Tegli, and Africanus Freeman converted to their own use and benefit the amount of US$8,924.29 which was in the custody of co-defendant Cummings as a teller and which was illegally withdrawn and paid out to co-defendant Freeman and Tegli upon their request for an IOU.Also on March 21, 2013, while counting money collected on March 21, 2013 in the vault, the defendants allegedly took US$248,309 and LD$40,349,285 (equivalent to US$576,418.36 at the rate of LD$70), which went missing from the vault of the bank without any authorization or document in support of its removal.Share this:Click to share on Twitter (Opens in new window)Click to share on Facebook (Opens in new window)last_img read more

L.A. lets trade deadline come and go

first_imgAsked how close the Lakers came to a deal, Kupchak said, “Not very close, which is what we expected going into the last day.” “Things could turn on one phone call or a pinhead but it was unlikely based on conversations going into the trade deadline that we’d do anything,” Kupchak added. “That was where our expectations were.” In the meantime, the players went frame by frame through their second-half failings in Wednesday’s loss to Portland – a video session turned team meeting – before getting on the practice court to talk about defense and do some shooting. They heeded Jackson’s admonishment that they weren’t “playing for one another” and reaffirmed their commitment to finding the open man on offense and being accountable for their defensive effort. They will have every opportunity to end the losing streak tonight at Staples Center against the Boston Celtics, who have lost 27 of their last 30 games and own the NBA’s worst record at 13-40. “We’ve just got to battle back out of it and become a better team,” Kobe Bryant said. “I don’t think anybody’s wavered from the fact – at least I haven’t – that we can make some serious noise in the playoffs with the roster that we have. “This is a bump in the road that we’re going to have to get through and when we get through it, we’ll be a better ball club.” EL SEGUNDO – As the clock struck noon Thursday and the NBA trade deadline came and went without a move, the Lakers were sequestered in the film room at their practice facility, starting the search for answers from within. Only a day after becoming the first Phil Jackson-coached team to lose six consecutive games, the Lakers learned that they will move forward this season with a roster that general manager Mitch Kupchak said “in all likelihood” will stay intact. center_img The Lakers resolved to be a better defensive team than they were in giving up 112 points on nearly 60 percent shooting to Portland, which was the NBA’s third-lowest scoring team coming into the game. “We’re just basically letting teams go wherever they want, do whatever they want, and we’re not going to be successful if we continue to do that,” said assistant coach Kurt Rambis, who filled in with reporters after Jackson left to see the dentist. “It’s up to each individual to make a stand and make sure that their teammate doesn’t get embarrassed at that end of the floor, either.” No big deal In spite of all the rumors of a potential deal for All-Star guard Jason Kidd, the Lakers stood pat at the trade deadline for the eighth straight season. “I think everybody was looking forward to possibly Jason coming out here,” Bryant said. “Obviously, that would have been an amazing backcourt. But it didn’t happen so we just move on from here.” The two sides never were close to a deal and there was little movement in the final days. The Lakers refused to include 19-year-old center Andrew Bynum in a trade and offered a package built around Kwame Brown, expiring contracts and draft picks. Although he grew up in New Jersey, Bynum didn’t hear much about the possibility of coming home to play for the Nets: He said he lost his cell phone more than a week ago. “It makes me feel good to be wanted by a lot of people,” Bynum said. “That means I’m doing something right. I wanted to be a Laker when I got drafted. This is my home. I’m happy that they want me here.” Also The Lakers still could sign a free-agent player before the end of the season. Kupchak said he and Jackson had put off talking about Scottie Pippen, who hopes to come out of retirement at age 41. 160Want local news?Sign up for the Localist and stay informed Something went wrong. Please try again.subscribeCongratulations! You’re all set!last_img read more

Edison to start wind project

first_img(661) 267-5743 160Want local news?Sign up for the Localist and stay informed Something went wrong. Please try again.subscribeCongratulations! You’re all set! Edison anticipates filing for approval for the rest of the Tehachapi project segments this summer. All 11 segments are projected to be completed in 2013. “The Tehachapi project will strengthen and enhance SCE’s transmission system by creating a new path for renewable energy to meet the increasing electricity demand of Southern California,” said Ron Litzinger, SCE senior vice president of transmission and distribution. The project will help meet state law requiring that at least 20 percent of the electricity SCE delivers to its customers be produced by renewable energy sources by 2010. The project will also help fulfill state mandates to reduce greenhouse gas emissions to 1990 levels by 2020. Construction of all 11 segments is estimated to cost $1.8 billion. When completed, the project will have a series of new and upgraded transmission lines capable of delivering 4,500 megawatts of energy from the wind farms into northern Los Angeles County and east Kern County. james.skeen@dailynews Southern California Edison is expected to begin construction late this year on a transmission line project that will stretch from Tehachapi through the Antelope Valley and into Ontario, carrying electricty from wind farms. Edison has secured approvals from the California Public Utilities Commission for the first three segments of a planned 11-segment project. The first three segments, projected to cost $257 million, link transmission facilities in Tehachapi with one just north of Santa Clarita and another in Vincent gap, just south of Palmdale. The first segment, which runs from facilities at Antelope Acres and just north of Santa Clarita, is awaiting approval from the U.S. Forest Service. That approval is expected next month. The first three segments are projected to be completed in early 2009. last_img read more

World Jet Boat Championships wrap up in Taylor

first_imgTAYLOR, B.C. – The World Jet Boat Championships wrapped up on Sunday in Taylor.The team from the US, Bat outta Hell, ended up winning in the unlimited division.  Fort St. John’s Gord Humphrey and his navigator Jason Palfy ended up on 5th.In the CX division, Fort St. John Stacy Kelm and navigator Ty Wheat in the boat Xcalibur finished in sixth place followed by racers Trapper Wolsey and navigator Jimmy Jackson in eighth.  In the same division in twelfth place was the Fort St. John boat of Clayton Wolsey and navigator Ryley Tschiedel.- Advertisement -While the racing caused most of the excitement, there was a scary moment on Sunday afternoon as one of the boats caught fire.  A team from New Zealand lost a boat, but everyone was able to escape the fire without injury.The Peace Country River Rats would like to thank all their sponsors, volunteers and fans for helping to make this event a success.On top of the racing, the club also drew for the grand prize winners for their $10,000 raffle.  Below are the winners:Advertisement Angela Prevost $10,000Leanne Humphrey $3,000Brad Small $2,000last_img read more

Celebrity auctions provide a touch of fame to masses

first_imgAs for the more pedestrian tchotchkes being sold this weekend, like Ozzy’s toy slot machine or Kelly Osbourne’s Hello Kitty telephone, they are likely to be snapped up by fans of Osbourne’s music or reality show. “It’s something akin, on a lower level, to the idea of a saint’s relics, to the objects that were touched by glory in some way,” says pop culture historian Leo Braudy of the University of Southern California. Collecting star memorabilia is nothing new. When Napoleon III became emperor of France in the 1800s, he was said to have sat on a throne that once contained the bones of 9th century French hero Charlemagne – just so he could park himself next to greatness. For many years, says UCLA sociologist David Halle, people took pride in collecting things like books previously owned by scholars and intellectuals. But in what Halle calls today’s “visual culture,” they prefer stuff touched by people they see on TV. “Of course it becomes almost ludicrous after a while to have something like a pair of gym socks framed and say these were Ozzy Osbourne’s,” said Braudy. (For the record, no Ozzy Osbourne hosiery is up for sale this weekend. But you could pick up a pair of his boxing trunks. Sharon’s too.) “I’m more interested in the art, but I’m sure a lot of people will be here for the celebrity items,” said Barbara Lazaroff as she checked out the offerings at a pre-auction screening in Beverly Hills while waiters served hors d’oeuvres and Osbourne’s music blared so loudly it almost felt like you were riding in the aforementioned Bentley. Lazaroff, the ex-wife of celebrity chef Wolfgang Puck, was considering adding some of the Osbournes’ ceramic art pieces to her own collection. Earlier this year, hockey great Gretzky held a less formal “garage sale” that raised more than $200,000 for two local schools. Like the Osbournes, whose sale is expected to raise about $1 million, he was moving to new digs and decided to unload his castoffs. “People started lining up at 5:30 a.m. and when the doors opened at 7 there were hundreds of people waiting to get in,” said Tom Konjoyan, vice president of development at Oaks Christian School in Westlake Village, where the Gretzky sale was held. On the Net: http://www.juliensauctions.com160Want local news?Sign up for the Localist and stay informed Something went wrong. Please try again.subscribeCongratulations! You’re all set! AD Quality Auto 360p 720p 1080p Top articles1/5READ MOREPettersson scores another winner, Canucks beat KingsIf that’s too pricey (the auction catalog lists its value at $160,000 to $180,000), there’s Osbourne’s guitar-shaped table lamp ($20-$30), his Los Angeles Angels baseball rally monkey ($25-$50) or his daughter Kelly’s personally autographed picture of actor David Hasselhoff (priceless?). Which raises the question: Who buys this stuff, anyway? “Believe it or not, a lot of people buy these things as investments. It diversifies their stock portfolio,” Julien’s Auctions President and CEO Darren Julien says of big-ticket items like the car, the Zakk Wylde autographed guitar and the expensive art and jewelry that Osbourne and his wife, Sharon, are parting with to raise money for the Sharon Osbourne Colon Cancer Foundation. “It’s something they can put in the office and talk about and people will recognize it when they walk in,” Julien said. “But when you go to sell it down the road, if you hold onto it long enough, or that person becomes even more famous, it increases in value.” Julien organized a similar auction last year when Cher decided to clean house. A percentage of the profits from the sale, which included her Bob Mackie-designed gowns, benefited her Cher Charitable Foundation. Another Julien auction fetched a half-million dollars for guitars that had belonged to Bono and The Edge of U2. It benefited the charity Music Rising. From Cher’s used Hummer to Wayne Gretzky’s old hockey sticks to Ozzy Osbourne’s guitar, anybody can have a piece of celebrity – for a price. If you were flush with cash and wanted to sit on a throne fit for a rock star, for example, you could have bought the late Grateful Dead guitarist Jerry Garcia’s toilet for $2,500, the price it fetched at auction last year. But don’t fret about lost opportunity. Not when you could spend today and Saturday bidding on any of the hundreds of items belonging to Osbourne, the heavy metal rocker and former star of “The Osbournes” hit TV series. For the right price, you could be driving to work Monday in the Oz Man’s 2006 Bentley, a car that always put him in heaven, he says, when he would “crank up the sound system as loud as it would go.” last_img read more


first_imgVodafone have launched their latest campaign featuring two young people from Co Donegal.Chelsea and Joel Gorman, both age 12 were chosen following auditions in Dublin from a national search.The campaign was shot in Wicklow were they had a very exciting experience. The pair are part of the Karen Gorman Speech and Drama & Casting Agency.The stylist for the shoot has worked for Vogue and the make up artist is a celebrity make up artist for Chanel.Their advertisement is appearing on billboards, in store, in the Vodafone brochure and online for one year.These Donegal kids are certainly putting Donegal talent on the map! YOUNG DONEGAL COUSINS SHOOT VODAFONE ADVERT! was last modified: July 11th, 2016 by StephenShare this:Click to share on Facebook (Opens in new window)Click to share on Twitter (Opens in new window)Click to share on LinkedIn (Opens in new window)Click to share on Reddit (Opens in new window)Click to share on Pocket (Opens in new window)Click to share on Telegram (Opens in new window)Click to share on WhatsApp (Opens in new window)Click to share on Skype (Opens in new window)Click to print (Opens in new window) Tags:advertChelsea GormandonegalJoel GormanVodafonelast_img read more


first_imgTHE KILLYBEGS Fishermen’s organisation has hit back at former industry leader Joey Murrin over comments he made recently with regard to EU quota negotiations with Iceland.Mr Murrin, who ran for Fine Gael in the European elections in 1984 and is a former Bord Iascaigh Mhara (BIM) chairman, claimed the country was losing millions of euro because of EU and Irish government dithering.The KFO however said it rejected “personal comments by Joey Murrin on the mackerel negotiations as unfounded scaremongering” and giving the “incorrect impression that he is the only one who is actively campaigning to stop the reckless and irresponsible behaviour of Faros and Iceland in setting unjustified enormous autonomous mackerel quotas.” The KFO said it had been very active in attending and participating in all mackerel negotiations over the last two years and has had several meetings with Minister Coveney and his predecessor on an agreed national position.The KFO says it has full confidence in the Department’s negotiator that attends the meetings and sees no basis whatsoever of the claim that Irish pelagic fishermen could lose €30 million in 2012.The body claimed it had been instrumental in conjunction with EU pelagic industry colleagues in getting the EU Commission to bring forward its sanctions proposal on the 12th December 2011.In a statement issued today the Chief Executive of the KFO Sean O’Donoghue said he was “surprised at Joey’s comments as he has neither been party to any of the negotiations nor been in touch with the organisation to get updates on the negotiations, and seems to be unaware that the sanctions proposal by the Commission was published before Christmas and discussed at the December Fisheries Council.” He went on: “I am at a loss to understand how he arrived at an estimated loss of €30 million in 2012 for Irish mackerel fishermen.“Furthermore I have full confidence in the Department’s negotiator that attends the Coastal States meetings. He not only fully understands the importance the mackerel fishery for Ireland but has a very clear negotiating mandate from the Minister and has remained in constant with the KFO during meetings.”He added: “These are personal comments by Joey and do not reflect the views of the KFO. The Commission sanctions proposals published by the Commission before Christmas has been called for by KFO and EU pelagic industry colleagues for almost two years and were a key priority at our meeting with Commissioner Damanaki last July.”The statement went on: “The factual situation as regards the mackerel Coastal States negotiations is that a further round of negotiations is scheduled for next week in Reykjavik Iceland from the 14th February to 17th February.“Should there be no agreement there both the EU and Norway have already agreed that they set the final TAC based on the ICES scientific advice for 2012 which is almost identical to 2011 advice. It is anticipated that Ireland’s final quota will be only slightly down on the 2011 quota but most certainly not a 20% reduction. “The sanctions document that has been published by the Commission before Christmas has already been discussed by the European Parliament Fisheries Committee. Pat the Cope Gallagher MEP has put forward some very good amendments that significantly strengthen the document which were well received by the Committee.“A satisfactory outcome to mackerel situation is of paramount importance to the KFO and no stone will be left unturned to ensure that happens. The KFO is fully aware of the importance of mackerel fishery to Killybegs particularly to employment at sea and ashore.”KILLYBEGS FISHERMEN’S ROW – KFO HITS OUT was last modified: February 7th, 2012 by BrendaShare this:Click to share on Facebook (Opens in new window)Click to share on Twitter (Opens in new window)Click to share on LinkedIn (Opens in new window)Click to share on Reddit (Opens in new window)Click to share on Pocket (Opens in new window)Click to share on Telegram (Opens in new window)Click to share on WhatsApp (Opens in new window)Click to share on Skype (Opens in new window)Click to print (Opens in new window)Tags:donegalfishing organisationicelandKillybegsmackerel quotaslast_img read more

Hurricane Stan’s offspring kill dozens

first_imgSAN SALVADOR, El Salvador – Hurricane Stan knocked down trees, ripped roofs off homes and washed out bridges in southeastern Mexico, but the storms that Stan helped spawn were far more destructive, killing dozens of people in Central America. The former Category 1 hurricane was losing strength over the Mexican state of Oaxaca. But forecasters said Stan triggered separate storms farther to the south, and officials in El Salvador’s capital said 49 people had been killed, mostly due to two days of mudslides sparked by rains all over the country. More than 16,700 Salvadorans had fled their homes for 167 shelters nationwide. “This is a national tragedy because of the rains,” said Eduardo Rivera, a spokesman for a team of Salvadoran rescue officials. “There isn’t a corner of the country where there isn’t pain and destruction to be found.” Among those evacuated were residents of Santa Tecla, outside the capital, San Salvador, where a strong earthquake caused a massive landslide in January 2001. Officials have worried the mountain running alongside the neighborhood might collapse again with heavy rains or another quake. A 4.8-magnitude earthquake shook the Pacific Ocean off the Salvadoran coast Tuesday, but there were no reports of injuries or major damage. Neighboring Honduras offered aid to El Salvador, and Mexico also promised financial assistance. Heavy rains also brought flooding that damaged bridges and submerged highways elsewhere in Central America. Nine people died in Nicaragua, including six migrants believed to be Ecuadoreans killed in a boat wreck. Four deaths were reported in Honduras, three in Guatemala and one in Costa Rica. In Mexico’s Chiapas, wind and rain more directly associated with Stan caused a river to overflow its banks and roar through the city of Tapachula, carrying homes of wood and metal with it and sparking hundreds of evacuations. Army and navy personnel joined state and local officials in helping residents flee to higher ground. The city’s center, littered with fallen branches and debris kicked up by flooding, was virtually deserted Tuesday night, as those not forced to evacuate holed up inside their homes. Near Mexico’s border with Guatemala, Tapachula was largely cut off from surrounding areas as major highways, roads and bridges were left under water. Chiapas Gov. Pablo Salazar said four people were missing. “Sadly, we know it’s going to keep raining,” Salazar said. Hurricane Stan, which whipped up 80-mph winds before being downgraded to a tropical depression, came ashore around 10 a.m. Tuesday along a sparsely populated stretch of coastline south of Veracruz, a busy port 185 miles east of Mexico City. Its outer bands swiped the city, flooding low-lying neighborhoods and highways. Officials in Veracruz state, which includes the city of the same name, said seven people, including two children, were injured, most of them by falling trees or roofs that collapsed in the coastal towns of Alvarado and Montepio. Schools around the state canceled classes, and 38,000 people abandoned their homes, heading for shelters. Heavy rains also forced Veracruz’s Mexican League soccer squad, the Tiburones Rojos – Red Sharks – to scrap a scheduled practice. All three of Mexico’s Gulf Coast crude-oil loading ports closed, but the shutdowns weren’t expected to affect oil prices. The crude-oil loading ports – Coatzacoalcos, Dos Bocas and Cayo Arcas – handle most of the 1.8 million barrels a day of crude oil exported by state-owned oil monopoly Petroleos Mexicanos, or Pemex. Five exploratory oil platforms had been evacuated Monday, but so far the storm hadn’t affected the company’s production of 3.4 million barrels a day of crude oil, Mexico’s Communications and Transportation Department said. Pemex is the world’s third-largest oil producer, and most of its exports are sent to the United States. Stan also brought heavy winds and rain to Oaxaca state, which borders Veracruz. There, officials opened 950 shelters and were watching 80 communities considered to be vulnerable. The U.S. National Hurricane Center reported that even a greatly weakened Stan would continue to dump heavy rain on Oaxaca and much of the rest of southern Mexico. AD Quality Auto 360p 720p 1080p Top articles1/5READ MOREThe top 10 theme park moments of 2019 160Want local news?Sign up for the Localist and stay informed Something went wrong. Please try again.subscribeCongratulations! You’re all set!last_img read more

Suicide bomber kills 30 outside Iraqi hospital; six new American deaths reported

first_imgBAGHDAD, Iraq (AP) – A suicide bomber blew up his car outside a hospital south of Baghdad on Thursday while U.S. troops handed out candy and food to children, killing 30 people and wounding about 40, including four Americans. As U.S. troops spent another Thanksgiving at war, two soldiers died in another bombing near the capital, and the U.S. command said four American deaths occurred Wednesday. Elsewhere, 11 Iraqis were killed and 17 injured Thursday when a car bomb exploded near a crowded soft drink stand in Hillah, a mostly Shiite Muslim city 60 miles south of Baghdad. More than 200 people – mostly Shiites – have died from suicide attacks and car bombs since Friday. Amid the bloodshed, at least four insurgent groups reportedly were mulling a government offer to talk peace – a hopeful sign for efforts to end an insurgency that has claimed thousands of lives. Three women and two children were among the dead in the attack outside the hospital in Mahmoudiya, a flashpoint town 20 miles south of Baghdad in the “triangle of death” notorious for attacks on Shiite Muslims, U.S. troops and foreign travelers. A civil affairs team from the U.S. Army’s Task Force Baghdad was at the hospital studying ways to upgrade the facility when the bomber struck just outside the guarded compound, a U.S. military statement said. Some American soldiers were distributing toys and food to children when the attack occurred about 10:40 a.m., Iraqi police Maj. Falah al-Mohammedawi said. “There was an explosion at the gate of the hospital,” sobbed one woman with wounds on her face and legs. “My children are gone. My brother is gone.” The two U.S. soldiers killed Thursday died when their patrol was hit by a roadside bomb southwest of the capital, a U.S. statement said. Four more American soldiers were killed Wednesday – three in the Baghdad area and one in Hit, 85 miles west of the capital in the Euphrates River valley, the command said. At least 2,103 U.S. military personnel have died since the war began in 2003, according to an Associated Press count. The AP count is five lower than the Defense Department’s tally, which was last updated at 10 a.m. EST Wednesday. In Baghdad, U.S. Ambassador Zalmay Khalilzad marked the military’s third Thanksgiving in Iraq by praising the “huge sacrifice” of American troops. Most of the troops got a traditional meal of turkey and the trimmings at dining halls – or on the hoods of Humvees before going on patrol. U.S. and Iraqi officials had been expecting a rise in violence before the Dec. 15 election, when voters will select their first fully constitutional parliament since the ouster of Saddam Hussein in 2003. On Thursday, government spokesman Laith Kubba called the pre-election attacks “the last stand” of “Muslim extremists and Saddam’s criminals,” predicting they would rapidly lose support after establishment of a new government and a national reconciliation conference expected early next year. More voters of the Sunni Arab minority, the backbone of the insurgency, are expected to vote this time, unlike the January balloting that many of them boycotted. Some Sunni insurgent groups have condemned the election and are expected to launch attacks to discourage a big turnout. The United States hopes a big Sunni turnout will produce a broad-based government that can win the minority’s trust, helping to take the steam out of the insurgency and hasten the day when American and other foreign troops can go home. At a meeting last weekend in Egypt to pave the way for the reconciliation conference, Iraqi President Jalal Talabani said he was willing to talk with insurgent groups if they agreed to lay down their arms and renounce terrorism. On Thursday, residents of Anbar province said four insurgent groups were considering naming a representative to spell out their conditions to Talabani. The four include the Islamic Army of Iraq, the 1920 Revolution Brigade, the Mujahedeen Army and al-Jamea Brigades. The residents, who have contacts with the insurgents, spoke on condition of anonymity for fear of reprisal. Significantly, the four groups do not include the country’s most feared terror organization, al-Qaida in Iraq, led by Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, or the al-Sunnah Army and Ansar al-Islam. All are Islamic extremist groups believed to have staged many suicide attacks. U.S. and Iraqi officials believe their best chance for a negotiated settlement of the insurgency involves driving a wedge between religious extremists and groups led by members of Saddam’s Baath Party more interested in retaining a share of power than waging holy war. However, the initial contacts appear to be well short of negotiations, a process expected to be complicated and protracted due to the different goals of Iraq’s numerous religious and ethnic communities. In other violence Thursday: -Gunmen ambushed a police patrol in Baghdad’s southern Doha neighborhood, killing four officers, police said. A fifth policeman was killed in a later bombing in the same district. -A roadside bomb slightly injured three Polish soldiers and one Iraqi child near Camp Echo, headquarters for Poland’s military mission in Diwaniyah, 80 miles south of Baghdad, said Col. Zdzislaw Gnatowski, a military spokesman in Warsaw. -A bodyguard for the head of the Iraqi Islamic Party branch in Khalis, 50 miles north of Baghdad, was wounded in a drive-by shooting near Baqouba, 35 miles northeast of Baghdad. His boss, Hussein Abid al-Zubeidi, said he escaped unharmed. Associated Press reporters Qassim Abdul-Zahra, Sinan Salaheddin, Sameer N. Yacoub and Bassem Mroue in Baghdad, Ali Fatlawi in Hillah and Haider Feteihi in Mahmoudiya contributed to this report. AD Quality Auto 360p 720p 1080p Top articles1/5READ MOREBlues bury Kings early with four first-period goals 160Want local news?Sign up for the Localist and stay informed Something went wrong. Please try again.subscribeCongratulations! You’re all set!last_img read more