Deaths run like water through the life of the Bahjat family. Four neighbors. A barber. Three grocers. Two men who ran a currency exchange shop.
But when six armed men stormed into their sons' primary school this month, shot a guard dead, and left fliers ordering it to close, Assad Bahjat knew it was time to leave.
[. . .]
In the latest indication of the crushing hardships weighing on the lives of Iraqis, increasing portions of the middle class seem to be doing everything they can to leave the country. In the last 10 months, the state has issued new passports to 1.85 million Iraqis, 7 percent of the population and a quarter of the country's estimated middle class.
The above is from Sabrina Tavernise's "As Death Stalks Iraq, Middle-Class Exodus Begins" in this morning's New York Times. And why wouldn't it happen? Think of Iraq as New Orleans after Hurricane Katrina hits. Those abel to leave, those fortunate enough will. CODEPINK sponsored a speaking tour of Iraqis and you heard this tale over and over. There is no safety under the occupation.
As a highlight makes clear. Martha notes Ellen Knickmeyer and Saad Sarhan's "Iraqi Leader Acts To Defuse Shiite Rivalry in Basra: Dozens Killed in Violence Across Country" (Washington Post):
Violence in the south Thursday included a bombing at the home of Basra's police chief. In Najaf, another major city in the Shiite-dominated region, the head of local militias loyal to the radical Shiite cleric Moqtada al-Sadr was shot dead by police allied with a rival Shiite party.
Political violence across Iraq killed at least two dozen Iraqis. Four U.S. soldiers and their Iraqi interpreter were killed when their patrol hit a roadside bomb northwest of Baghdad, and the U.S. military reported the death Wednesday of an American sailor in the western province of Anbar.
The deaths brought the number of U.S. fatalities in May to about 50, a pace that threatens to make this month one of the deadliest this year for American forces in Iraq.
[. . .]
In Najaf, meanwhile, police shot dead Abbas al-Chillabi, commander of the local regiments of the Mahdi Army militia. An official with Sadr's organization, Sahib al-Amiry, said police shot Chillabi in the head at a checkpoint, and he called it a deliberate political killing.
The Najaf police chief, Brig. Gen. Abbas Moadal, called the shooting an accident. Police at the checkpoint had believed they were under attack when a wedding party that apparently included Chillabi approached the checkpoint, firing shots into the air in celebration, the police chief said.
And that's it. There are too many people here this morning. I'm hoping to get out of DC fairly quickly. If things calm down here, I'll do another Times entry. If not, all you're missing is the paper of record pushing their source -- the Les Nesman of the NSA. Repeatedly.
Democracy Now! today will spend the hour with Eduardo Galeano. Remember that Sunday there is a Democracy Now! event:
Special Democracy Now! Benefit in NYC
Sunday, May 21, 2006 7:00 pm
An Evening of Readings and Conversation withEDUARDO GALEANO and ARUNDHATI ROY
Sunday, May 21, 2006
The Town Hall
123 West 43rd Street, New York
Between 6th Avenue & BroadwayDoors open at 6:15 pm --Reserved seating in front of house, $100 per seat all proceeds got to support Democracy Now! Tickets are very limited.TO order, call 1-888-999-6761 -- at prompt, hit option 0 (zero). Credit card orders only.
Eduardo Galeano, one of Latin America's most admired writers, and Arundhati Roy, who won the Booker Prize in 1997 for her first novel, The God of Small Things, in an evening of readings and conversation. Galeano and Roy are both recipients of the Lannan Foundation Prize for Cultural Freedom, in 1998 and 2002 respectively. Voices of Time: A Life in Stories (Metropolitan Books) is Galeano's latest book and he is also the author of the Memory of Fire trilogy (for which he won the 1989 American Book Award) and Open Veins of Latin America. He lives in Montevideo, Uruguay. In addition to her novel, Roy has also published several collections of essays, including Power Politics, War Talk and most recently, An Ordinary Person's Guide to Empire. She lives in New Delhi, India.Pre-signed copies of books by Eduardo Galeano, including his new book, Voices of Time: A Life in Stories (Metropolitan Books 2006), and by Arundhati Roy, including An Ordinary Person's Guide to Empire (South End Press 2004), will be available at The Town Hall before and after the event.
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