Nearly two months into the [latest beefed up version of] the new security push in Baghdad [which began in June of 2006], [the Times is required to include the spin that] there has been some success in reducing the number of death squad victims found crumpled in the streets every day [is a new day, as Diana Ross sang].
And while the overall death rates for all of Iraq have not dropped significantly [if Crazy John McCain hadn't revealed how crazy he was, we'd quote his whack-a-mole comments from August 2006 here], largely because of devastating suicide bombings, a few parts of the capital have become calmer [don't ask "Compared to what?"] as some death squads have decided to lie low.
But there is little sign that the Baghdad push is accomplishing its [stated] main pupose: to create an island of stability in which Sunni Arabs, Shiite Arabs and Kurds can try to figure out how to run the country together. [In actuality, the purpose of the latest phase of the crackdown is to string the American public along, to substitute false hope for heroin and hope they get so hooked on it that talk of withdrawal has them snarling and refusing to go cold turkey.]
The above is the unexpurgated Alissa J. Rubin and Edward Wong's "Patterns of War Shift Amid U.S. Force Buildup" in this morning's New York Times. It's on the front page. Buried on A8 is Moqtada al-Sadr's call for resistance against the occupiers. Edward Wong writes it, or writes around it, and, while Wong does manage to mention that there were two rebellions led by al-Sadr (rebellion used in the political sense of the world -- rebellion, resistance, revolution) in 2004, he fails to give the dates: Falluja in November and, oh yeah, Falluja in April. April? That's today's month! Yes, the illegal war is stuck in the same, eternal pattern and, if the Times give Wong space in Week in Review, he can make that point and note what he has seen but to be in the 'hard news' section means to play dumb (okay, Gordo doesn't play -- to play dumb or to be dumb).
On the front page of the arts section (yes, I am attempting to avoid the dopey article mentioned last night -- we'll address it in the next entry), is a photo of Diana Ross and Stephen Holden's review of her concert last Friday by Stephen Holden entitled "Reflections on a Diva Who Withers Not." Betty, a huge Diana fan, recommends it. (I read it over the phone to her this morning, I really was not in the mood for the Times nonsense on why people leave the military.)
We've got a double dose of Dahr Jamail this morning (and do we ever need it to wash away with the Times). Kate noted his "And These Refugees Are Lucky" (IPS):
Salim Hamad, 33, glances at the sprawling buildings of the Yarmouk refugee camp in Damascus and sees business. He has set up a small tea shop at the camp.
"I left everything behind," he told IPS. "I have no idea what became of my house."
Salim, a railways worker in Baghdad, sold his car and furniture to raise money to bring his wife and three children to Damascus five months ago. Syria it had to be, because by then the Jordan government was no more letting in men his age.
He found the money to get to Syria, and he has all of a tea shop now, and that makes him one of the luckier Iraqis who could flee.
Yarmouk refugee camp, on the outskirts of Damascus, has for long been home to more than 100,000 Palestinian refugees. It is a set of tall apartment buildings separated by small alleys stuffed with shops.
It is one of the better refugee camps. Most refugees have running water, electricity and other basic services.
Now tens of thousands of Iraqis have flooded into Yarmouk. The exact number is unknown.
Iraqis also head for the Jaramana and the Sayada Zainab camps, besides countless other areas where they gather to live in smaller groups. The refugees are not allowed to work by law, and most have to live off their savings, and are desperate for assistance.
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alissa j. rubin
the new york times
thomas friedman is a great man