Saturday, August 19, 2006

NYT: Lost in the 'crackdown'

Edward Wong's "Fearful Iraqis Avoid Mosques As Attacks Rise" is on the front page and that alone is a relief after a week where we saw a possible suspect in a child murder become front page news while, on the same Thursday, blink and you missed it, Abby Goodnough's nine paragraph "1951 Civil Rights Murders Solved, Florida's Attorney General Says" was buried on page A20. (The murders of non-blondes and pre-cable Harry and Harriette Moore apparently are far less news worthy to the New York Times -- even when the issue is not 'suspected' but solved according to Florida's attorney general.) Wong examines the changes at some mosques since the invasion. (Increased violence, targeted by other sects, etc.) The article's timing fits in with the crackdown 6.0 in Baghdad.

Erick Eckholm's "On Technical Grounds, Judge Sets Aside Verdict of Billing Fraud" addresses the issues arising from the Ronald Reagan appointed T.S. Ellis III's decision to give Custer Battles a get ouf jail free card by arguing that the line is blurred between government and private contractor (a blurring that the administration created) and calls to mind his earlier refusal to allow the German citizen Khalid el-Masri's case against the CIA for kidnapping, torture and transportation to Afghanistan. As Eckholdm points out, in el-Masri's case, Ellis sided with the administration and claimed "national security" and this decision also favors the administration while slapping the public in the face with a form of circular reasoning. Oh, wait! none of those issues are raised! No noting of who appointed Ellis, no noting of el-Masri. Apparently, only if you're a Clinton or Carter appointed federal judge do you or your decision get examined (see the front page for the latest wave of that trend).

Lesson here? Apparently, according to the Times, questions may arise from decisions but you only examine them and the judge when he or she is appointed by Democrats. For any who want to argue that the Justice Department issued an adivsory opinion, Eckholm notes that. For those who want to say that JD opinion demonstrates the administration's good-faith efforts, they might want to wonder why Alberto Gonzales did not immediately issue a press release of an impending press conference within hours of the decision? Why he or the Bully Boy haven't issued statement after statement of how unfair the decision is? The tax payers are the ones being ripped off so it's presumably not "personal" to the administration (which did, after all, award contracts -- no-bid contracts -- to Custer Battles). Gonzales is apparently far too busy prepping for yet another, we're sure, meaningful discussion on child porn that he will deliver Monday morning in Dallas, Tx. Having already confessed to viewing photos of "older men forcing young girls to have anal sex" one can be sure that, though they won't rival St. Augustine, Gonzales' confessions will be just as spicey.

Paul von Zielbauer's "Baghdad Shut To Cars on Eve Of Pilgrimage So Dire in 'O5" continues the press trend of reporting on crackdown 6.0's traffic ban, curfews and closing of bridges to prevent a repeat of last year's Who-concert-like stampede. Since all press accounts agree that word-of-mouth was the instigating cause of the stampede, how any of the additions to the crackdown address that is left . . . unaddressed. von Zielbauer writes of last year's stampeded: "The disaster remains the greatest one-day loss of life since the war began, by a large measure." Apparently he missed both Falluja in November of 2004 and the falling bombs when the invasion began?

From Vijay Joshi's "7 Shiite Pilgrims Gunned Down in Baghdad" (Associated Press):

At least 13 other people were killed Saturday around Iraq, including four Iraqi soldiers in a roadside bomb explosion.
No cars and very few people were seen on the Iraqi capital's streets except police and army vehicle patrols. Although residents were allowed to walk to work -- Saturday is a workday in Iraq -- most appeared to be staying at home. Two cars that ventured out of a lane into the main road were seen being stopped by police and turned back. The vehicle ban was to last until Monday morning.

Reuters off this on the ever spreading 'crackdown:'

A roadside bomb targeting the convoy of Brigadier General Jamil al-Haji, chief of staff of the 8th Iraqi Infantry Division, killed two of his bodyguards in Diwaniya, 40 km south of Baghdad, police in the town said.
Haji escaped unhurt and soldiers arrested three suspects and seized a quantity of weapons in a nearby orchard, they added.
The Ministry of Defence said on Friday security checkpoints had been set up around Khadimiya to enforce a ban on pilgrims carrying weapons, bags and mobile phones, which can be used to detonate bombs.
"Do not accept food or drink from unknown people. Do not believe or start rumours that cause panic," the ministry said in an advisory.

AFP offers this:

One year on from last year's deadly stampede, Baghdad is even more tense than before. Daily insurgent bomb attacks target crowds of Shiite civilians, while death squads hunt members of the rival Sunni community.
Health officials put the average daily death toll at 50.
Iraqi and US forces have deployed more than 30,000 troops under an ambitious security plan designed to return order to the war-torn capital.

and this on how among the dead today were "lecturers from the University of Diyala, Karim Slman and Mohammed Abdulredha . . . shot dead in their car" as well as the discovered corpse of Ibrahim Jawad Rubaie (of the Iraqi National Committee for Human Rights).

Since yesterday morning, the following community sites have posted new content (most far later than usual in case you missed it):

Rebecca's Sex and Politics and Screeds and Attitude (and she's working on another entry right now);
Betty's Thomas Friedman Is a Great Man;
Kat's Kat's Korner (of The Common Ils);
Cedric's Cedric's Big Mix;
Mike's Mikey Likes It!;
Elaine's Like Maria Said Paz;
Wally's The Daily Jot
and Trina's Trina's Kitchen

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