Police Academy 8: Iraqi Edition

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Yikes. AMERICAblog finds a startling comparison: it takes seven days of training to become a Starbucks barista. It takes just eight to become an Iraqi cop.

Well, not exactly a cop. A backup cop, part of an Anbar “provincial security force.” You see, there aren’t enough police academies in which to train police recruits properly, so the thousands of extra men who seek the uniform head out to dusty back lots with U.S. Marines and run obstacles courses for little over a week. When they’re done, they keep the uniform and gun, do security operations occasionally, and wait until they get called for real police training.

Now this may come as a surprise, but this rigorous process isn’t exactly inspiring confidence or creating a trustworthy police force. The governor of the province in which this is occurring says the police are unreliable and operate with their own agendas. Prime Minister Maliki is complaining that the Americans are artificially inflating the Iraqi police corps. Even American forces can see we’re just arming random people, and possibly creating bigger problems than the ones we hope to solve.

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WHO DOESN’T LOVE A POSITIVE STORY—OR TWO?

“Great journalism really does make a difference in this world: it can even save kids.”

That’s what a civil rights lawyer wrote to Julia Lurie, the day after her major investigation into a psychiatric hospital chain that uses foster children as “cash cows” published, letting her know he was using her findings that same day in a hearing to keep a child out of one of the facilities we investigated.

That’s awesome. As is the fact that Julia, who spent a full year reporting this challenging story, promptly heard from a Senate committee that will use her work in their own investigation of Universal Health Services. There’s no doubt her revelations will continue to have a big impact in the months and years to come.

Like another story about Mother Jones’ real-world impact.

This one, a multiyear investigation, published in 2021, exposed conditions in sugar work camps in the Dominican Republic owned by Central Romana—the conglomerate behind brands like C&H and Domino, whose product ends up in our Hershey bars and other sweets. A year ago, the Biden administration banned sugar imports from Central Romana. And just recently, we learned of a previously undisclosed investigation from the Department of Homeland Security, looking into working conditions at Central Romana. How big of a deal is this?

“This could be the first time a corporation would be held criminally liable for forced labor in their own supply chains,” according to a retired special agent we talked to.

Wow.

And it is only because Mother Jones is funded primarily by donations from readers that we can mount ambitious, yearlong—or more—investigations like these two stories that are making waves.

About that: It’s unfathomably hard in the news business right now, and we came up about $28,000 short during our recent fall fundraising campaign. We simply have to make that up soon to avoid falling further behind than can be made up for, or needing to somehow trim $1 million from our budget, like happened last year.

If you can, please support the reporting you get from Mother Jones—that exists to make a difference, not a profit—with a donation of any amount today. We need more donations than normal to come in from this specific blurb to help close our funding gap before it gets any bigger.

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