Wednesday, May 16, 2007

Other Items

Elsewhere in occupation news, more than 100 more Iraqis died overnight during the routine abductions, tortures, car bombs and US led raids and air strikes in occupation resistant neighborhoods. Today in central Baghdad at least 7 were killed and nearly 2 dozen wounded during a double bomb attack that US directed Iraqi officials tried to conceal from the international press with the use of force. News photographers and videographers who rushed to the scene were turned away by Iraqi police who fired warning shots into the air to disperse the reporters in what the occupation regime claims was a hitherto unexercised concern for forensics. But what press observers say is a blatant attempt to suppress detailed news reports about the instability of the occupation. Interior Ministry spokesperon Brigadier General Abdul- Karim Khalaf defended his novel approach to armed spin control with the statement that: "I would like to say that this is not a total ban. It is a short ban because after an hour from the explosion journalists will have the freedom to do their work."
But Reporters Without Borders declared late today that, "When the streets become impassable and the authorities provide no information about the attacks in real time, the role of the reporter becomes essential. Coverage of these attacks allows people to evaluate the security risk and to avoid dangerous areas."
Adding that the new US-Iraqi censorship policy "could end in a total news blackout."
The military cosmeticizing of news from occupied Iraq is part and parcel of the Bush administration attempt to assert progress in the so-called surge in Baghdad that has only intensified fighting in other parts of Iraq -- particularly in Anbar and other provinces just outside Baghdad where US and Iraqi troops today continued a massive search for 3 missing American soldiers who survived a bomb attack that killed 5 others in farmlands south of capital over the weekend.
Another attempt to placate Congress and the two-thirds of the American public that wants an end to the Iraq war and occupation involves Bush administration efforts to alter the US imposed Iraqi constitution in order to reduce anti-Baathist Party bias in government appointments and to provide equity for Sunni Arabs following the Bush administration's bias for Shia and Kurdish quislings of the occupation but anti-de-Baathification and passage of a sweetheart oil law for US multi-nationals are expected to meet fierce opposition even in the US installed occupation
parliament and especially in Iraq's northern oil fields and southern processing facilities
where tens of thousands are gearing up for a series of protests and strike actions.
[. . .]
From exile in New York, I'm Robert Knight for Flashpoints.

The above is from "The Knight Report" on yesterday's Flashpoints (5:00 pm to 6:00 pm, Monday through Friday -- KPFA, KPFB and KFCF Fresno ). We're opening with that for a number of reasons including the fact that the war on the press (aided by many in the press) makes it even more difficult to get reality out. Now news agencies could have sent a strong signal at any time that this was unacceptable. The could have done so when the Palestinian Hotel was attacked or come down hard on an AP photographer who is STILL being held as a 'detainee.' (He's being held as a prisoner, with no trial.) An award winning photographer with no evidence of doing anything wrong, let alone a trial where he could defend himself. Now the press could have raised hell when it was learned that Bully Boy wanted to bomb Al Jazeera but -- even now -- the bulk rushes to play dumb on that.

Then the crackdown began last June. Let's repeat it, the crackdown in Baghdad began in June of 2006. That resulted from Iraqis storming the Green Zone. They didn't make it in that Friday but it alarmed eveyone enough to begin the crackdown. Then, puppet of the occupation, Nouri al-Maliki presented a multi-part plan. Now they could have called that out, the press. But outside the BBC, find one mainstream press outlet that noted the crackdown on journalism in that 'plan.' (The plank they all ran with -- local security councils -- were already in place in Baghdad and had been started by others, al-Maliki was just coasting on the work of others.)

No big outlet noticed it other than the BBC. (And most of independent media was too busy -- this was summer of 2006 when Abeer and everything else related to Iraq seemed to fall off the radar, see "2006: The Year of Living Dumbly.") So let's be really clear that the press has repeatedly taken a pass on defending themselves and fighting for their ability to cover anything.

Staying on the topic of the Green Zone, Polly notes the Telegraph of London's "Insurgents strike Baghdad's Green Zone:"

At least nine mortar rounds rocked the heavily fortified Green Zone in Baghdad today in an area close to the American embassy, hours after dozens were killed by a chlorine gas bomb north of the Iraqi capital.
Early reports said that six people were wounded in the area housing the most sensitive government buildings. Insurgents appeared to be targeting the embassy or the Iraqi defence ministry in the Assassin’s Gate area of the diplomatic zone.

It is the second day running that militants have managed to inflict casualties with a strike on the zone.
Five contractors working for the US embassy were wounded by “indirect fire” in an attack yesterday.

Chlorine? Reuters reports a truck bombing yesterday that killed 45 and left 60 inured in Abu Sayda. Oh, they also report "police said on Wednesday."

A truck bomb laden with chlorine gas exploded in a market area in the mostly Shi'ite town of Abu Sayda, north of Baghdad on Tuesday, killing 45 people and wounding 60, police said on Wednesday.

On the violence, two things: direct effects and data. Starting with direct effects, from Louis Sahagun and Ashraf Khalil's "Soldier's family has new cause for worry" (Los Angeles Times):

Three weeks after enduring an incorrect report that her son had been killed in Iraq, Theresa Anzack said Tuesday that he was among four soldiers missing after a weekend ambush by insurgents south of Baghdad.
Trying not to cry, Anzack said, "Now, he's missing for real…. I'm praying like I've never prayed before."
Pfc. Joseph J. Anzack, 20, an Army gunner stationed south of the Iraqi capital, was reported dead in late April. Word of his death was even posted on a sign outside his former school, South High School in Torrance.
But he dispelled the rumor with a telephone call home.
On Sunday, when his mother noticed her daughter and several close friends and relatives enter the store where she was working, "I thought they were dropping by to wish me a happy Mother's Day," she said.
"They said, 'Theresa, Joseph's missing,' " she recalled during a hastily arranged news conference at a park near her home. "I went crazy. I said, 'No. No. No.' "

[. . .]
The predawn ambush Saturday left four soldiers dead and three missing -- presumed to have been captured by Islamic militants. The Pentagon has identified three of those killed, but is waiting for more testing before the identity of the fourth can be confirmed.

Data? James Glanz' "Iraq Attacks Stayed Steady Despite Troop Increase, Data Shows" (New York Times) covers the GAO's report that escalation of US troops on the ground in Iraq have not resulted in a significant decline in the violence in Iraq: "Even the suggestion of a slight decline could be misleading, since the figures are purely a measure of how many attacks have taken place, not the death toll of each one."

In political news, check On the Wilder Side (Kimberly Wilder's site) for news of Edgar Rodriguez' win and a new site's been started by (candidate in the NY Democratic primary for Senator in 2006) Jonathan Tasini and you can check out his "Paul Krugman Gets It Wrong On Trade--Sadly" (Working Life):

Krugman's taking off point for the column is the debate over the recent deal struck between the Administration and some Congressional Democrats, principally House Ways and Means chair Charlie Rangel and Nancy Pelosi. First, to correct a factual point about the apparent deal, Krugman says:
The furor subsided a bit as details about the deal emerged: the Democrats got significant concessions from the Bushies, while effectively giving a go-ahead to only two minor free trade agreements (Peru and Panama).
As I noted when
the deal first came to light, yes, it’s not a bad thing for these so-called "free trade" agreements to have international labor standards incorporated into the body of these deals--if the standards are, in fact, part of the deal. We have no idea whether these are "significant concessions" because the exact language is still unclear, as AFL-CIO President John Sweeney pointed out, along with other unions, when they reserved judgment until they could actually study the text of the deal. It’s still a mystery. Call me paranoid but I don’t trust this Administration--even more so when claims are made without evidence (sound familiar?).
But, the real issue I have with Krugman is much bigger than the controversy over the recent political trade deal. Krugman perpetuates some false myths and, disappointingly, regurgitates the notion that people who are opposing so-called "free trade" are "protectionists."

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Added: AP reports that Dr. Martin Luther King and Coretta Scott King's oldest child, Yolanda King, has passed away.