At least 79 Iraqis were killed or found dead across Iraq on Monday, Iraqi officials said, including 10 commuters on a minibus who were killed when another passenger blew himself up, a photographer and two bodyguards for Vice President Adel Abdul-Mahdi, a Shiite. The military announced the deaths of four American soldiers, in Baghdad and Salahuddin Province.
Iraqi political leaders pressed ahead with a planned cabinet shuffle, presenting Mr. Maliki with candidates for the ministry posts that he wants changed.
Mr. Maliki has not said publicly which ministers he plans to replace, but he has been under pressure from the Bush administration to make progress toward stabilizing Iraq. The cabinet moves appeared aimed, at least in part, at demonstrating that he was making an effort.
Some officials say, though, that the problems among Iraqi leaders run far deeper than a rearrangement, even a sweeping one, can fix. Shiites and Sunnis are barely able to tolerate one another, and the tense relations make progress on improvements all but impossible.
The above is from Sabrina Tavernise and and Qais Mizher's "Iraqi Premier and U.S. General Discuss Syria and Iran" in today's New York Times. "At least" 79 reported dead.
Apparently, we're all supposed to be thrilled that John Abizaid and Nouri al-Maliki met yesterday. And we're supposed to be thrilled by the front group (Baker's Iraq Studay Group) meeting with Bully Boy. Now Bully Boy's off to Vietnam after yesterday's for-show events. It's all cosmetic and the sort of thing that those wanting this illegal war should have been doing in 2003. In 2006, the war is lost and their bits of gloss and powder not only fail to change anything, it doesn't even conceal reality these days.
Here's a bit of reality, via Reuters, that everyone will be talking about today:
An Iraqi who said he saw dozens of people seized on Tuesday from a Baghdad government building said police stood by as gunmen checked identity cards to sort Sunnis from Shia and then drove off with Sunni men.
The civil servant who normally works at the Higher Education Ministry building but was out at a bank at the time of the raid said he returned to the building to see all the male employees lined up in a car park. Around 40 camouflaged pick-ups of the type used by police commandos were gathered at the building.
"They were checking identity cards in the car park. They picked only the Sunni employees. They even took the man who was just delivering tea," said the man, a Sunni himself who is well known to a Reuters employee but did not want to be identified for fear of retribution.
"They gathered them all in the pick-ups. At the same time, I saw two police patrols watching, doing nothing," said the witness, who works at the office of delegations and cultural relations at the Higher Education Ministry.
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