Tuesday, December 12, 2006

Other Items

A powerful car bomb exploded in central Baghdad early this morning near a crowd of mostly Shiite day laborers, killing 59 people and wounding 149, Lt. Col. Mahmoud Abdul Aziz of the Iraqi Interior Ministry said.
Major Gen. Jihad Habri said on state television that the blast came from 120 kilograms of explosives packed into a Chevrolet pickup truck. The bomb was detonated in Tayaran (Aviation) Square about 7 a.m., a time when scores of day laborers gather looking for construction, cleaning or painting work.

[. . .]
It was the deadliest attacks in the capital since a series of car bombs, mortars and missiles in the Shiite slum of Sadr City killed more than 200 people Nov. 23. Ten days ago, a triple car bombing in a busy shopping district killed at least 51 people and wounded more than 90.

The above is from Sudarsan Raghavan and Debbi Wilgoren's "Car Bombing Kills at Least 59 in Baghdad" (Washington Post). This is the blast (or blasts) that the death toll's already risen to 60 on and will likely rise higher as the day goes on (due to bodies being discovered and due to some of the wounded dying). But we're noting it not just for the information it provides but to underscore the New York Times' problems. Around one o'clock EST, if the pattern holds, a reporter in NYC may pull from the wires and write about the above. There will be no dateline on the piece. It'll be written by the same person it's always written by. And you have to wonder why the Times thinks they can drive traffic to their website?

Supposedly, they're doing just that. That's the claim being made to stockholders in a we-are-adapting-to-the-new-media manner. I'm sure they are driving some traffic. I'm sure that some check it in the morning the way many of us are fool enough to continue to pay for the paper (that would include me). But while other papers' websites make a point to highlight breaking news (even if only through wire service articles) the Times is pretty much dead once they post the paper's contents (all is up around midnight EST each day) until mid-day.

Anyone who's ever been through the offices know that a lot of people occupy desks and never file a damn thing. It's very difficult to get fired at the paper, you just get moved around. (Grounds for firing? Refusal to fawn gets you kicked out the door faster than lousy or questionable reporting.) So if stock holders are going to be assured that the paper is aware of the 'new challenges,' maybe the paper should be demonstrating that as well? Maybe some of the people still on the payroll (always on the payroll) who never file a story but occupy space day after day should be encouraged to start working on web pieces that can run throughout the day?

The Post story noted above will be polished between now and when it runs in the paper. When possible, that's how breaking news is treated. With issues that have to do with the Supreme Court, that's how the Times generally handles things. Otherwise, the website is dead. Before they next to attempt to appease stockholders with claims of grasping 'new media,' they might want to review what they're claiming they're doing as opposed to what they actually are.

The stories they offer on Iraq today (see previous entry) aren't really encompassing or that needed. And people hearing of the blast rushing to the Times website are going to be sorely disappointed. They may also (wrongly) assume that the violence happening today comes after a decided lull since the paper's got nothing up about any of Monday's violence.

We'll note Reuters' "Rights of Iraqi women under growing threat--UNICEF:"

The rights of Iraqi women and girls are under growing threat in the home, school, workplace and political sphere, the United Nations said on Tuesday.
Women head one in 10 households in Iraq, where violence is curtailing their freedoms and poverty is limiting their access to basic services including health care, the U.N. Children's Fund (UNICEF) said in a statement.
"Women should be equal partners in the future of Iraq but their rights risk slipping away without positive action to protect them," said Roger Wright, UNICEF representative for Iraq, who is based in Amman, Jordan.
Every day dozens of Iraqi women are widowed and the number of families struggling to cope without a wage-earner is starting to overwhelm social services, according to UNICEF which says that equal rights for women is the key to stronger societies.
Only 14 percent of Iraqi women between 16 and 60 years old are currently employed, against 68 percent of men, U.N. figures show. Women leaving home to find work puts both them and their children at risk, UNICEF said.
"With threats to girls attending school on the increase, more and more families are being forced to choose between education and safety for their daughters," it added.
Women's representation in Iraq's government is "still disproportionately low", accounting for only 25 percent of parliamentarians, according to UNICEF.

A few things on the above. "Disproportionately low" is putting it mildly but let's note that the US military offers that figure as a sort of 'fun fact' on their Iraq website (apparently hoping visitors are as unaware of the realities for women -- and the turning back the clocks for women -- as they'd like to be). Also note that RadioNation with Laura Flanders Saturday featured MADRE's Yanar Mohammed and the archived broadcast of that will go up Wednesday -- Mohammed addresses the under-reported issue of women being targeted for killings. (Similar to the 'honor' killings that have gone on in other MidEast countries but were not part of Iraq's history in the last century.)

Martha notes Jon Cohen's "Poll: 7 Out of 10 Americans Disapprove of Handling of Iraq War" (Washington Post):

In a new Post-ABC News poll, seven in 10 Americans disapprove of the way the President is handling the situation in Iraq -- the highest percentage since the March 2003 invasion. Six in 10 say the war was not worth fighting.
While both gauges on the war have been steadily negative since late 2004, Bush's approval rating on Iraq has deteriorated further since early October, likely weakened by recent high-profile criticisms of the administration's Iraq policy.

Likely due to the fact that the deaths continue to rise. Likely due to The Lancet Study. To the violence. To the death toll of US troops in October (which would reach 106 by the end of the month). To war resistance. To the peace movement.

Finally, The KPFA Evening News yesterday noted that Dennis Kucinich has declared his intent to run for the Democratic nomination for president. Among the issues Kucinich states that he's concerned could be sidelined during the primary is the Iraq war. [Note: Read on to the added section about today's Democracy Now!]

The e-mail address for this site is common_ills@yahoo.com.

Bille gives a heads up to today's Democracy Now! She's e-mailed to say that Cindy Sheehan and Medea Benjamin are guests today discussing the trial. (We'll note this in the snasphot. I haven't heard it yet. Billie says they're the first segment of the show.)