More than 30 Iraqis died in car bombings, drive-by shootings, assassinations and other attacks on Tuesday, including 11 killed when a bomber riding a motorbike detonated his explosives at a falafel stand after dinnertime near a heavily Sunni area of northern Baghdad.
The killings, whose victims included children and a university professor, underscored the tremendous challenges facing the new government of Prime Minister Nuri Kamal al-Maliki. He is trying to find candidates for Iraq's three security ministries who will not be vetoed by the rival political groups in his fragile coalition.
One day after Mr. Maliki predicted that American and British troops would be able to withdraw from all but two provinces by the year's end, Bush administration officials repeatedly tried Tuesday to tamp down expectations that major troop withdrawals could occur quickly.
The above is from Richard A. Oppel Jr.'s "30 Iraqis Die in Attacks Across the Nation" in this morning's New York Times. Troop withdrawal is always just around the corner . . . and those old enough to remember can think back to the way Nixon used this trick.
Rachel notes Alan Cowell's "Rights Group Criticizes U.S. Over 'Outsourcing' in Iraq:"
Amnesty International on Tuesday assailed the use of military contractors by the United States to detain prisoners, provide security and gather intelligence in Iraq as "war outsourcing," and said the behavior of some contractors had diminished America's moral standing.
"War outsourcing is creating the corporate equivalent of Guantanamo Bay -- a virtual rules-free zone in which perpetrators are not likely to be held accountable for breaking the law," Larry Cox, executive director of Amnesty International USA, said in Washington after the group presented its annual report in London.
In both cities, senior figures of Amnesty International -- a private human rights group that has commonly focused on false imprisonment and torture -- used the annual report to highlight what they called pressing concerns about the campaign against terrorism.
"It is difficult to believe," Mr. Cox said, "that the United States government, which once considered itself as an exemplar of human rights, has sacrificed its most fundamental principle by abusing prisoners as a matter of policy, by 'disappearing' detainees into a network of secret prisons, and by abducting and sending people for interrogation to countries that practice torture, such as Egypt, Syria and Morocco."
That's the report Democracy Now! noted yesterday. On another report, a UN report, Martha steers us to Ellen Knickmeyer's "Rights Under Assault In Iraq, U.N. Unit Says" (Washington Post):
Human rights in Iraq are being "severely undermined" by growing insecurity, violence and a "breakdown of law and order" caused by militias and criminal gangs, the U.N. mission here said Tuesday.
The human rights update, issued every two months by the U.N. Assistance Mission in Iraq, cited soaring numbers of execution-style killings in Baghdad. [. . .]
Baghdad's main morgue -- which handles only the remains of victims of violent or suspicious deaths, not including bombing victims -- issued 1,155 death certificates in April, the U.N. agency reported.
[. . .]
The morgue issued even more death certificates for killings in Baghdad in March -- 1,294, the U.N. report said. Most of the victims were shot to death.
The rights mission also said the figures covered only slaying victims who had not been identified, which suggests the overall death toll in Baghdad has been far higher than any figure that officials have previously made public.
So while deaths are on the rise (to put it mildly) in Iraq, the last thing the world needs right now is a gas bag lap dog but as Joan's highlight shows us and the Stones warned us, "You can't always get what you want . . ." From Matthew Rothschild's "Gen. Tommy Franks Shoots His Mouth Off" (This Just In, The Progressive):
Saturday night, General Tommy Franks was at the NRA's annual banquet, and he kept shooting his mouth off.
First, he ridiculed the other generals who've been criticizing Rumsfeld, saying they are publicity hounds who don't know what they're talking about.
Then, amazingly, he minimized the U.S. lives that have been lost in Iraq, a number that now stands at more than 2,440.
Said Franks: "What we're talking about is neither 2,400, 24,000 or 240,000 lives," he said, adding, "Terrorism is a thing that threatens our lives."
For Franks, there appears to be no outer limit of American lives he's willing to dispense with in this Iraq War, which had nothing to do with terrorism in the first place except as a pretext.
While Franks carries water for Bully Boy, Bull Boy blusters and lets his blood lust boil over Iran. On that topic, KeShawn steers us to Peter Rothberg's "Isn't Iraq Enough?" (The Nation):
Just as it did before invading Iraq, the Bush Administration is manufacturing a climate of fear to prepare public opinion for another possible preemptive action -- this time against Iran.
[. . .]
That's why the CPD is devoting its latest campaign to highlighting how catastrophic a conflict with Iran could be. So click here to join Howard Zinn, Cornel West, Doug Ireland, Ruth Rosen, Meredith Tax, Noam Chomsky and many others in signing the CPD call. Contribute to publicize the statement. View full list of signers. And let your elected reps know that you expect them to forcefully oppose any further US military action in the Middle East.
And in a world short on common sense, we'll close with some via Diana's highlight --
Molly Ivins' "Yes, I Am Actually Calling Them Racist" (Truthdig):
Last week, Bush visited Yuma, Ariz., to tour a portion of the U.S.-Mexico border by Border Patrol buggy. Maybe Jorge was doing a little measuring for the $3.2-million-a-mile fence the Senate recently approved, which I guarantee will be really helpful.
Are they insane? As Arizona Gov. Janet Napolitano observes, "Show me a 50-foot wall, and I’ll show you a 51-foot ladder."
Meanwhile, Republicans in the Senate have constructively declared English the national language. That'll fix everything. Every foreigner at our borders will stop and say: "Gosh, ma foi! English is the national language here. Good thing to know. I'll begin speaking it immediately."
Yes sir, you want a solution, call a Republican.
Of course, I am enchanted to discover that the entire project will be turned over to Raytheon, General Dynamics and other military contractors--think Halliburton with noncompetitive bids, anyone? Because this outsourcing stuff is just working like a charm. Another Republican solution.
Remember to listen, watch or read Democracy Now! today and Amy Goodman will be in California:
* Amy Goodman in San Jose, CA:
Wed, May 31
*The NetSquared Conference
Cisco Systems' Vineyard Conference Center
260 East Tasman Drive,
San Jose, CA
Also remember what Cindy noted yesterday, today on KPFA's The Morning Show Gore Vidal. That may be an interview or the broadcast of a speech. The program begins at seven a.m. Pacific time.
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