Thursday, July 20, 2006

Other Items

Throughout the country, at least 49 people were killed or found dead on Wednesday, including an Interior Ministry official who was shot in his car at 8 a.m.
Most of the attacks appeared to be sectarian-related, and they came a day after a suicide car bomber killed at least 53 people and wounded more than 100 in the Shiite holy city of Kufa. On Wednesday, the Mujahedeen Shura, an insurgent umbrella group that has often directed attacks against Shiite civilians, posted Internet messages claiming responsibility for that bombing.
The abduction of workers from the oversight group, the Sunni Endowment, Iraq’s most prominent association of Sunni mosques and shrines, continued a string of high-profile kidnapping attacks against government-related figures this month.
Many of the attacks have been against Sunni Arab officials, leading to speculation that Shiite militias or death squads have sometimes been involved. But little else has tied the attacks together other than a continuing demonstration of the lawlessness that has struck the capital and surrounding areas.

The above is from Damien Cave's "Overseers of Sunni Mosques Are Seized in Iraq" in this morning's New York Times. Susan noted that reading the above this morning made her think of Jackson Browne's "Say It Isn't True" (off the album Lawyers in Love) and wondered what song I'd put to it. I'd actually go with Susan's choice but, since she's beat me to it and since I rarely note another artist, I'll go with Lindsey Buckingham's "D.W. Suite" (off Go Insane):

If we go, go insane
We can all go together
In this wild, wanton world
We can all break down forever . . .

And here's the section of Browne's "Say It Isn't True" that Susan picked:

I'm alive in a city
In a country of the world
And I want to go on living
I want to see my life unfold
You know it's hard to go on looking
At the stories of our day
And the dangers we're all facing
Growing worse in every way
And you would think with all of the genius
And the brilliance of these times
We migh find a higher purpose
And a better use of minds

And, on that note, Martha notes Andy Mosher's "Iraqi Factions Implored to End Violence" (Washington Post):

Wednesday's bombings, shootings and kidnappings did not approach the carnage of the previous two days, when two attacks south of Baghdad each killed more than 40 people, or the death tolls that last month averaged more than 100 Iraqi civilians a day, according to a U.N. report. The deadliest incident Wednesday was an apparently coordinated small-arms and bomb attack that killed seven people and wounded seven in Baghdad.
[. . .]
The human rights office of the U.N. mission in Iraq reported Tuesday that more than 14,000 civilians had been killed during the first half of this year, including more than 3,000 in June.

Again, to drop back to a point made yesterday (and before), eye ball the Iraqi Body Count site and see if you see that reflected in their count -- you won't. Dahr Jamail has argued in print and in interviews, far kinder than I would put it, that Iraqi Body Count served a purpose at one point (giving some idea of the numbers) but that it no longer does and can now be used (due to the low numbers deriving from the way they tabulate) to justify the ongoing illegal occupation by people who point and say, "Look, the numbers aren't that high." To say over 250,000 Iraqi civilians have died (the figure Robert Fisk uses) isn't shocking unless you take IBC as gospel. I think the number's close to or just over a half million now.

Brenda notes Dahr Jamail's "'Open War' in the Middle East" (Truth Out):

"In my judgment, the best way to stop the violence is to understand why the violence occurred in the first place." That one sentence (a surprisingly rare example of a complete sentence spoken by Cheney spokesman George W. Bush), taken on its own, would fully explain why the Middle East is now on the brink of regional war. But of course, Bush always finds a way to engage in Orwellian newspeak. At a news conference with Russian President Vladimir Putin on Saturday, he managed to rewrite history in the very next sentence by blaming Hezbollah for instigating the violence by launching rocket attacks into Israel and capturing Israeli soldiers. But then, George most likely has no idea where Gaza is, let alone what has been occurring there for decades.
As puppet Bush goes on saying things like "Every nation has a right to defend itself," referring to his favorite ally, Israel, his use of the word "every" would of course exclude Lebanon, since their army is using anti-aircraft guns against Israeli warplanes. And let us not forget the Iraqi resistance - as it may never cross his feeble mind that they are defending Iraq from the American invaders.
Most Arab leaders are refusing to back Hezbollah, although US-influenced Egyptian president Hosni Mubarak and Jordan's King Abdullah II issued the usual statements demanding "an immediate halt on attacking civilians and vital infrastructure," saying that such attacks breach the international humanitarian conventions. As if Israel will listen. As if the US listens to any calls from countries demanding similar actions by the occupation forces and Western contracting companies who are busily raping and pillaging Iraq. As if any country in war ever abides by the Geneva Conventions nowadays. And without a functional UN to actually take a stand for human rights or real justice, why should they?
The typical response among the people here in the Middle East is to scoff at their leadership - who continue to cower and bow to US interests.
Friday at the Lebanese/Syrian border, I spoke with a 50-year-old Kuwaiti man, Emad, as he fled Beirut with his family. "It's very bad there, as the Israelis are attacking civilians, bombing police and petrol stations and even the fuel storage depots," he told me, "In fact, they have even bombed the airport once again. I saw F-16's bombing and there is smoke everywhere. This is a big disaster for the Lebanese."

An e-mail in the public account (from a visitor) notes a breaking AP story that "you won't note" ("you" being me) because "it's good news. I'll wait all day and you'll never note it." You will wait all day for that to be linked to. The reason is because we noted it, via the BBC, in yesterday's "Iraq snapshot" (about the four kidnapped who were released -- it's our last item in the snapshot yesterday). The only "breaking" is that an official announced it today (announced that it happened yesterday). Lastly Eddie notes Katrina vanden Heuvel's "Brothers In Arms" (Editor's Cut, The Nation):

The Bush administration has spied on our library records, phone conversations, and bank records and then castigated the free press for freely reporting on it. We've just learned that he personally stopped a Justice Department inquiry into the domestic surveillance program. And of course there are the presidential signing statements, which even some conservatives consider to be unconstitutional.
Maybe what Bush saw when he looked into Putin's authoritarian soul was a reflection of himself.

It's addressing the overheard conversation (via open mike) and Eddie notes, "It's going a little deeper than Bully Boy said a naughty word!" (On that, I didn't note it here for two reasons. One is that I use the word -- "s**t" -- myself. I wasn't all that shocked. Second reason? It's in Friday's gina & krista round-robin.) But if others were shocked or found it of news value (the swear word), they could and should note it.

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[Corrected to put back in the link to KvH. If the links aren't closed on my end, they can vanish. Apologies.]