Wednesday, January 17, 2007

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The United Nations reported Tuesday that more than 34,000 Iraqis were killed in violence last year, a figure that represents the first comprehensive annual count of civilian deaths and a vivid measure of the failure of the Iraqi government and American military to provide security.
The report was the first attempt at hand-counting individual deaths for an entire year. It was compiled using reports from morgues, hospitals and municipal authorities across Iraq, and was nearly three times higher than an estimate for 2006 compiled from Iraqi ministry tallies by The Associated Press earlier this month.
Numbers of civilian deaths have become the central indicator for the trajectory of the war, and are extremely delicate for both Iraqi and American officials. Both follow the tallies, but neither will release them.

[. . .]
The Iraqis most tormented by the violence are those least able to protect themselves against it: the poor. Um Qasim, a Baghdad cleaning lady, has lost three brothers, a sister-in-law, a nephew, a stepson and a son, all in the past three years. Two of her other sons are in jail in the northern city of Mosul for playing minor roles in a kidnapping arranged by her brother.
Her life improved in a brief but joyous spurt immediately after the invasion. During the looting that followed, her family stole pieces of metal and bricks to build a solid roof and second story on their modest house.
But her life quickly unraveled as two of her sons, looking for money, got involved in a kidnapping and got caught. Another son, just 16 years old, was killed by Sunni extremists not far from their house near Haifa Street, a poor, mostly Sunni area that has been the scene of intense fighting in recent weeks.
Ms. Qasim works several jobs cleaning affluent homes; she takes minivans around the city to get to work. Under Saddam Hussein, her main worry was how to feed her family. Now it is how to keep them alive.
"I never thought that one day I would have to think about how to keep them alive," she said. "Now, when I go out of my house in the morning, I pray to God that when I return, I will see all of them there alive."

The above is from Sabrina Tavernise's "Iraqi Death Toll Exceeded 34,000 in 2006, U.N. Says" in this morning's New York Times. The second half is a strong and solid example. But I'm going to repeat from yesterday's snapshot:

Shh, don't wake the tyrant. In the real world the United Nations Assistance Mission for Iraq has released a report and, yes, it declares that 34,452 Iraqis died in 2006 with 36,685 wounded. The report also states that: "Armed operations by MNF-I continued to restrict the enjoyment of human rights and to cause severe suffering to the local population" -- MNF being the US led 'coalition'.
The tyrant thinks he 'liberated' does he? The UN report also covers the realities for Iraqi women -- new realities, post-invasion realities, brought to them by Bully Boy Inc. That includes vanishing rights, women's rights are disappearing and they "are reportedly living with heightened levels of threats to their lives and physical integrity, and forced to conform to strict, abritrarily imposed morality codes" which allows them new 'role' -- unclaimed corpse. Women are kidnapped and abused, sexually and then murdered, their corpses don't get buried by the families because to note that is your daughter, your sister, etc. would be to risk family shame. Those women who have been 'liberated' to mass sexual assault and abuse but aren't murdered? Well they have the option of 'honour killings' which, the UN report tells us, led to, in the first [eight] months of 2006, 239 women attempting to kill themselves -- burning yourself to death may be among the most popular 'roles' for Iraqi women in the public sphere. Thanks, Tyrant Bush.

Has anoyne read the damn report that's covering it because I think 239 women in eight months of 2006 attemping honor killings as a result of what is done to them under the illegal occupation is news. But apparenlty the news industry doesn't think so. It's not news to them.

Possibly they're a little too refined to address the issue of rape? Then get the hell out of the news industry. We're noting Tavernise at the top so let's be clear, it's not one reporter, it's many. The UN report specifically addresses realities for women in Iraq and, no, it's not pretty. The news industry needs to cover that. That's everyone in the news industry.

With news on yesterday's bombing attacks on the college in Baghdad that killed at least seventy, mainly women, Martha notes Joshua Partlow's "Bombings Kill 60 at University In Baghdad" (Washington Post):

Just before the 4 p.m. bombing at Mustansiriya, sophomore Zainab Rashid, 20, stood near the campus waiting for a bus and was coping with a pounding headache, she said later. She heard an explosion and saw a mushroom of smoke rise into the air. At one point in the chaos that followed, her friend started screaming and suddenly backed up.
"When I looked down I saw a man's head between her legs on the ground," Rashid said.
As police cordoned off the neighborhood, students and faculty members began loading wounded people into cars to take them to hospitals. Several male students were leading Rashid and her friends away from the bombing site when the second explosion occurred.
"They said, 'Don't stop, keep going, keep going,' and pushed us away," she said. "We were asking, 'Are our friends okay?' They said, 'Don't ask.' "
Many of the injured were taken to Kindi Hospital, the major hospital for eastern Baghdad. A piece of notebook paper taped to a wall of the emergency room listed 69 names under the heading "the university wounded." At the entrance to the ward, a hospital employee pushed a mop through blood and mud, soap and water. In one corridor, a woman dressed in black stood alone sobbing into her cellphone. She said her son was bleeding all over his body, and when doctors gave him more blood he bled that out, too.
Three seniors from the chemistry department, whose friend died in the bombings, stood near the entrance to the emergency room. A cellphone rang. One of the students spoke into the phone: "Is it true?" He knelt down by a desk, put his head between his arms and started to cry.
When Rashid made it home, she said, she found her mother slumped on the pavement outside. At the sight of Rashid, her mother pushed herself up and ran to her. "She held me tight, kissed me, and kept kissing and kissing me in a hysterical way," Rashid said.
Her mother pushed Rashid out to arm's length, studied her face and looked her up and down as if she doubted her presence.
"You will never leave the house again," her mother said, Rashid recalled. "You will never go to the university. That's it. We will never stay in Iraq."

On The Morning Show, KPFA this morning, 7:00 am to 9:00 am PST, Matthew Rothschild of The Progressive is one of the scheduled guests. Iraq is the scheduled topic and he may also address his upcoming book. You can listen online or over the airwaves.

Today, the US military has announced: "One Soldier assigned to Regimental Combat Team 5 died Monday and one Soldier assigned to 1st Brigade, 1st Armored Division died today from wounds sustained due to enemy action while operating in Al Anbar Province." And the slaughter of Haifa Street (in Baghdad) continues with reports of a mortar attack today.

In the US a Coward's Silence appears to descend upon many in independent media who find it too hard to say two words: "War resister." Apparently, it taxes their souls and certainly there are some who have had every blow cushioned from day one so it may not be surprising that even in their LATE adulthood they still can't manage to take a stand. But it is a Coward's Silence and the Cowards are those in independent media who bore us all with their jaw boning bits of nonsense (maybe inspirational sermonettes, maybe dopey topics that wouldn't cut it for a third-rate Erma Bombeck column). It's tired, it's old and people are sick of it.

If you missed the last entry, Ehren Watada will not be able to present any defense. He can't argue freedom of speech, he can't explain why he refused to serve. He just has to sit there, in a military court, in a mockery of justice while he's railroaded. So forgive me if I don't feel sorry for people who can't stand up and lead though they want to occupy positions of leadership -- apparently for the fun of it. Well, it's amazing what other people's money will buy. Sadly, all the money someone else earned still can't buy the cowards a spine.

And let's be really clear, anonymice signing a petition, any petition, is what is known as a baby step. It is not a protest, it is nothing to inflate. It's rather shocking that the same crowd who refuse to mention war resisters want to treat baby steps as the second coming of the Homestead Strike. At this rate, 2007 will be just as awful for independent media (with few exceptions -- and they've been noted here before) as 2006 was. Reform that.

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Note: Link for Partlow's article added.