Sabah al-Atia sometimes calls home every 10 minutes when he is working to let his wife know he is still alive. After all, his job is one of the most dangerous in the city.
Mr. Atia is a trash collector.
In a city where a bomb could be lurking beneath any heap of refuse, and where insurgents are willing to kill to prevent them from being discovered, an occupation that pays only a few dollars a day has become one of the deadliest. Most of the 500 municipal workers who have been killed here since 2005 have been trash collectors, said Naeem al-Kaabi, the city's deputy mayor.
"When we are working, we are working nervously," said Mr. Atia, 29, who started collecting trash during Saddam Hussein's rule. "We are carrying our souls in our hands."
The danger to trash collectors is at the root of one of the most visible symptoms of collapse in Baghdad. Garbage is ubiquitous, especially in dangerous neighborhoods, blanketing street medians, alleys and vacant lots in stinking, fly-infested quilts. Trash collection has joined a long list of basic services, including electricity, water and sewerage, that have slipped badly in many places since the American-led invasion.
The above is from Michael Luo's "Even Picking Up Trash Is a High Risk in Baghdad" in this morning's New York Times. It's a portrait of the 'liberation,' of the 'democracy' that the Bully Boy keeps insisting is there or on the way or will be some day if everyone will just agree to ignore the deaths and killings and give a couple more years to the illegal war sold as a 'cakewalk.'
Not everyone's so agreeable about 'cakewalking' From Here to Hell. Lloyd notes the AP's "British General Calls for Pullout 'Soon' From Iraq:"
Britain's new army commander said British troops in Iraq are making the situation worse and must leave the country soon, according to an interview published Thursday.
Gen. Richard Dannatt said the British military should "get ourselves out sometime soon because our presence exacerbates the security problems," according to the interview with the Daily Mail released on the paper's Web site.
"Whatever consent we may have had in the first place" from the Iraqi people "has largely turned to intolerance," he said. The Defense Ministry and Prime Minister Tony Blair's office said they could not immediately comment.
"Army could be broken by Iraq, warns chief officer" by Tim Shipman (Daily Mail) *provides you with the link to the earlier reporting as well as video.* Those needing or wanting an audio report can refer to yesterday's The KPFA Evening News. And you'll get much more from that audio broadcast then you will from Democracy When which can't be bothered with much more than a few lines and a suggestion that you go to their website where they interviewed him in August -- as they put it at the time: "In a Democracy Now! broadcast exclusive, we speak with Sgt. Ricky Clousing" blah, blah, blah.
That's all it is. Blah, blah, blah.
They got their "exclusive" and now that Clousing has been sentenced, it's just a headline to be dismissed with quickly -- not even a lead headline. What it is, actually, is what Goodman noted of the New York Times' protest coverage, "A MATTER OF EMPHASIS." And let's stop kidding that it's "going where the silence is." But expect to hear the pitch requesting money and the guilt trip about how if you don't donate the show can't continue to . . . do what Rebecca's termed the "Baby cried the day the circus came to town" coverage. It's not cutting it.
Not at last night's big east coast gala was April Johnston which is why she can cover the story and does in "AWOL Bragg soldier pleads guilty" (Fayetteville Observer)
Clousing, 24, was a military intelligence interrogator who left Fort Bragg in June 2005, shortly after returning from a five-month deployment to Iraq, where he supported the 82nd Airborne Division’s 325th Airborne Infantry Regiment.
It was the atrocities he witnessed while there that compelled him to leave, he said.
"My experiences in Iraq forced me to reevaluate my beliefs and ethics," he told the judge. "Ultimately, I felt like I could not serve."
[. . .]
After Clousing received his sentence, they lined up to shake his hand, pound his fist or throw an arm around his shoulder.
Though Clousing knows that many people, and especially soldiers, do not understand or sympathize with his decision, he said he would make that decision all over again if given the choice.
"I'd rather spend a year in jail than participate in an illegal war and be part of the machine suppressing Iraq," he said.
You can also check out Laurie Goodstein's "A Soldier Hoped to Do Good, but Was Changed by War" from the New York Times. Which did cover yesterday's events. I'd love to have woken up today and be able to write about the amazing job Amy Goodman did and how it really taught the Times a thing or two but that's not reality. Reality is that the Times showed up for work today and Democracy Now! is promoting a film -- not a documentary. Reality is that the Times covers what happened yesterday. That's reality.
People may not like to hear it. Some didn't like it being pointed out that FAIR shouldn't slam The NewsHour for not having a peace activist on (October '05 through March '06) when FAIR's CounterSpin didn't provide a peace activist as a guest in the same period. Too bad, that's reality. And I really don't think you slam The NewsHour (which, for the record, I hate) for only having one woman for every four male guests you present when CounterSpin presents one female guest for every three males. (See "Are You On CounterSpin's Guest List?")
We're all supposed to stay silent on that, look the other way. I won't. Clousing matters and independent media is where? Going to where the silences are, this morning, apparently means lengthy clips from a theaterical film. Now if Janet Coleman covered that on WBAI, fine -- she does an arts show. But the idea that promoting a 'dramatic recreation' qualifies as news is kidding yourself. Devoting an hour last week to an infomercial for Bill Moyers' latest PBS offering was kidding yourself as well. Tim Robbins (whom I like) is discussing what the film provides "on a pure entertainment level". This is 'news' today. Maybe next they can track Survivor or do any of the other staples of the big three's morning talk shows?
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[C.I. note: Post corrected thanks to Polly catching my mistake. Shipman's article covers today. In it are links to earlier coverage.]