Defying a government curfew, Shiite militiamen stormed Sunni mosques in Baghdad and a nearby city on Friday, shooting guards and burning down buildings in apparent retaliation for the devastating bombings that killed more than 200 people the day before in the capital’s largest Shiite district, residents and police officials said.
Militia fighters drove through neighborhoods in Baghdad and the provincial capital of Baquba, firing at mosques with assault rifles and rocket-propelled grenades on the Muslim day of prayer.
The above is from Edward Wong's "Militants Attack Sunnis’ Mosques in 2 Iraqi Cities" in this morning's New York Times. And that's about all I can take of that article. I love 9 to 5. Hilarious movie. All the leads hit strong notes and Jane Fonda's "Don't panic, don't panic" mantra is hilarious. Edward Wong is no Jane Fonda. The article begs for Dolly Parton's one liner when Lily Tomlin crashes the car. "She panicked." We'll be kind and not list the end credits for this article which adds five names to the pile up.
Instead, focus on Martha's highlights, Sudarsan Raghavan's "In Iraq, Reprisals Embolden Militias" (Washington Post):
In previous periods of tension, Sadr loyalists have threatened to walk out of the government. Still, the current climate is unlike anything Iraq has experienced since the invasion. The attacks on Sadr City appeared to embolden Sadr and his followers as they try to capitalize on Thursday's carnage, which Shiite leaders, including Maliki, have blamed on Sunni Arab insurgents.
As long as such attacks continue, and as long as Iraqi security forces are ineffective in providing security, Sadr can justify the existence of his Mahdi Army militia.
"If the prime minister does not give up his intention to meet Bush the criminal in Amman, we will suspend our membership at the council of representatives and the government," Salih al-Ighaeli, head of Sadr's bloc in parliament, told a solemn crowd gathered on the street in front of Sadr's headquarters.
Ali Adeeb, a member of parliament and close Maliki aide, said the Sadr camp was trying to apply pressure tactics, but that the meeting would take place as planned.
The meeting between Bush and Maliki comes at a politically sensitive moment for both leaders. Bush is under pressure from Democrats who have won control of both the House and Senate to come up with a viable strategy to tamp down Iraq's violence and open the way for U.S. troops to come home.
As the sectarian divide within his government widens, Maliki is under U.S. pressure to disarm the Shiite militias, a step the U.S. military believes is needed to tame the violence. But the very people who control the militias, such as Sadr, are key political figures in Maliki's government, capable of causing his downfall.
Friday's reprisal attacks underscore how powerful the Mahdi Army and other militias have become in Iraq, operating above the law, spreading violence even under an indefinite 24-hour lockdown of the capital.
By Friday evening, the attacks were still unfolding. With no other alternative, many Sunnis were hoping for the intervention of U.S. forces.
"Up till now we are waiting for the American forces, and they haven't shown up yet," said Salman al-Zobaye, imam of al-Hashab mosque, in a telephone interview. An attack on the mosque by Shiite militiamen killed four guards.
Back to the Times, Michael Gordon turns in "Army Expands Training for Advisers Who Will Try to Improve Iraq’s Security Forces:"
The American Army has long experience in training and deploying military advisers, most notably in Vietnam. There, the Army began with an active advisory program before the fighting escalated into a major conflict. In Iraq, however, the war began with major combat; American advisers, now called "transition teams," were introduced later, almost as an afterthought.
"Most notably" will strike many as a poor word choice (being kind) but it needs to be "noted" that the Iraqi exile groups are seen by some as the "advisers" -- both during the lead up to the war and in the immediate aftermath -- that the position of "military advisers," as with so much in the inept administration, was "contracted out."
Rachel notes that WBAI provides you with two opportunites to hear Gore Vidal:
Sunday, November 26, 11am-noon
THE NEXT HOUR
Gore Vidal talks about his new memoir, "Point-to-Point Navigation" in an interview at WBAI with Janet Coleman; excerpts from California Poet Laureate Al Young's performing poetry and jazz at Cal Arts' Inner Spark with The Ralph Jones Quartet.
Monday, November 27, 2-3pm
CAT RADIO CAFE
Gore Vidal talks about his new memoir, "Point-to-Point Navigation" in an interview in early November at WBAI; Sue Mingus previews an upcoming concert of the Mingus Orchestra performing Gunther Schuller's arrangements of Mingus's "Noon Night," "Half Mast Inhibition," and "Taurus in the Arena of Life." Hosted by Janet Coleman and David Dozer.
RadioNation with Laura Flanders (on Air America radio, online, XM satellite radio, from 7:00 pm EST till 10:00 pm EST Saturday and Sunday)? Saturday is best of program featuring Robert Redford and Penny Lang among others. Sunday offers up a new, live broadcast with Rania Masri on the topics of Lebanon and the psuedo 'road map' for the Middle East, Isaiah J. Poole from TomPaine.
The following community sites have updated since yesterday morning:
Rebecca's Sex and Politics and Screeds and Attitude;
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
At Kat's Korner, Betty filled in on Monday, Ruth filled in on Wednesday. I did not fill in Friday because Kat intended to post. She did the switch to beta and wasn't able to post until this morning. Click here for Kat's latest.
It's Saturday so that means? Before we get to that, Carl notes that The Black Agenda Report is offering their radio broadcasts as podcasts. And Carl, Gina and Robyn note Margaret Kimberley's "Torturing White America" (The Black Agenda Report):
Anyone who aspires to be even moderately civilized opposes torture. Yet these are not good times for the civilized in America. Objections to acts that were recently considered barbaric are scorned, and met with hypothetical scenarios from movie thrillers.
The argument for debasement usually goes along these lines. Suppose Mohammed Atta was arrested on September 10, 2001 and was suspected of plotting a terror attack. Should he have been tortured? The same question could be asked about Timothy McVeigh. If he had been arrested on April 18, 1995, should he have been tortured? The justification to save lives through torture is rarely raised in his case.
Law school professors like Alan Dershowitz give a hearty "Hell yes" whenever torture is the issue du jour. Most politicians say yes. Hillary Clinton says its OK in the ticking time bomb movie scenario.
"I have said that those are very rare but if they occur there has to be some lawful authority for pursuing that. Again, I think the President has to take responsibility. There has to be some check and balance, some reporting. I don't mind if it's reporting in a top secret context. But that shouldn't be the tail that wags the dog, that should be the exception to the rule."
To make a long story short, a future President Clinton will gladly give the thumbs up to the thumb screws.
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