A6 of this morning's New York Times is where the Iraq coverage is. Three stories. (We're not counting Cindy McCain's cover story which is pure fluff -- if only the administration had listened to her husband John about Iraq! Though she does get in a good dig at Bully Boy by hiding behind a supposed quote from her daughter.) Of the three stories, Richard A. Oppel Jr. and Stephen Farrell's "Sectarian Attacks Kill Dozens of Shiites in Baghdad" covers the dialy violence and notes the back and forth regarding the 20 headless corpses in Thursday's news. The most pressing news in the article appears well past the half-way mark. This is referring to the site of the bombing in Baghdad yesterday that resulted in mass fatalities (25):
As one Iraqi reporter for The New York Times arrived at a Mahdi Army checkpoint, 20 fighters milled about and inspected vehicles. On the next road over, a group of American Humvees approached. "The Americans are coming!" one of the militiamen shouted. The fighters then walked away, blending into crowds already outside who were heading to the blast site.
The Shi'ite militia members are, rightly or wrongly, assumed to be lining up future victims with their self-styled checkpoints. Other news in the article is that Moqtada al-Sadr's call for a march (next week) has led the puppet, Nouri al-Maliki, to call for a call-off. He declared ("bluntly" Oppel and Farrell report) that "Samarra was not safe". The march was to show 'solidarity' following the mosque bombing in Samarra that knocked out the towers (following the previous year's bombing of the same mosque).
'Solidarity' because although al-Sadr issued a call for unity the unity didn't include Takfiris -- Oppel and Farrell translate that as "Sunni extremists" (or, more accurately, "those who accuse others of apostasy"). However "Sunni" isn't a translation for Takfiris. al-Sadr may have meant "Sunni extremist" or even "Sunni" but it means extremist. Oppel and Farrell's interpretation is not as questionable due to past actions and statements but, just to be clear, it only means extremist. The term was more recently used (at the start of this month) by Abd-al-Aziz al-Hakim who served on Iraq's alleged Governing Counil (July 2003 through June 2004). al-Hakim is a Shi'ite close to Ali Sistani, his father was the Grand Marjay of Shiia World Grand Ayatullah Sayyed Mohasin Al-Hakim, and his militia is the Badr Brigade. al-Hakim used the term in reference to violence in Lebanon, stating that 'takfiris' had not been opposed by neighboring countries and, as a result, the events were taking place.
Alissa J. Rubin contributes "Iraqi Shiite Parties Agree To Try to United Moderates." Has the laughter faded yet? No? Okay, take another minute. Alright, al-Maliki's attempting to cut al-Sadr out of the process (he's playing both ends) and this isn't about Iraq's interests, it's about the 'benchmarks' which Rubin sums up as, "constitutional changes an an oil revenue-sharing law." It's really amazing how these alleged 'benchmarks' that the Iraqi Parliament suspended their summer vaction for, are not what the Iraqi people want, what the Iraqi people are demanding, but, because the US wants it, that's what the focus must be -- over and over, year after year. If the theft of Iraq's oil is not pulled off this summer, count on al-Maliki to enjoy the winter (and later seasons) in London.
Mike Drummond (McClatchy Newspapers) reports the march is taking place. From his "Sadr march to Samarra raises fears of new Iraq violence:"
"I really don't know what is the benefit of the visit to Samarra, and I don't know why Muqtada insists on sending the innocent to their deaths," said Baghdad resident Hussein al Maliki, 34, a Shiite. "I'm sure the insurgents will do their best to kill as many Shiites as possible during the visit."
For Sadr, the leader of the anti-American Mahdi Army militia, the march poses a test of his popularity. A peaceful demonstration could arm him with broad political clout, which has eluded other Iraqi leaders so far, including Prime Minister Nouri al Maliki. A low turnout could underscore the limits of Sadr's ability to marshal ordinary citizens.
In any case, the event promises a volatile mix of weapons and ill will, with members of Sadr's militia gearing up to provide security alongside Iraqi and U.S. forces that are still fighting his militiamen in the south.
Back to the Times, and A6, where Jim Rutenberg and Jeff Zeleny contribute "Bush Defends War at Naval College as Senate Republicans Show Increasing Impatience" from which we'll note this section:
Mr. Bush in effect pleaded for more time on Thursday, saying that the deployments in Iraq he ordered in his so-called troop surge have only recently been completed and were already producing positive results. . . .
Even at this pre-screened location, Mr. Bush faced some skepticism from questioners in the audience, including a woman who asked him pointedly if he was indeed listening to the advice of his commanders (yes, he said) and a professor who asked if the Iraq campaign was stretching United States forces too think to cope with other challenges elsewhere (no, he said).
John Warner has set July 15th as a date to mark on the calander. (Other aspects of the article will be addressed Sunday at The Third Estate Sunday Review.)
Lloyd notes Thomas E. Ricks' "Bush: Key to Evaluating Iraq Is at Its Local Level" (Washington Post) also addressing Bully Boy's attempts to lower the stakes and asks what this reminds everyone of:
In another sign of a potential policy shift, Bush also said in his speech that one of the encouraging signs in Baghdad is that "citizens are forming neighborhood watch groups." It is not clear what the difference is between those groups and armed militias, which U.S. officials have said in the past must be disbanded or incorporated into Iraqi security forces.
I'm guessing it reminds everyone (in this community) of the puppet of the occupation claiming last summer that he was creating those groups as part of the so-called crackdown. This was part of his multi-point 'plan'. One of the few points covered was this nonsense of local security groups. And, wrongly, the press credited that to al-Maliki (remember when so many were so high on him) when they groups were already in existance. Ricks is correct to note "It is not clear what the difference is between those groups and armed militias". It should also be remembered that the plan was introduced after six weeks of the 'crackdown' had produced no results. The 'crackdown' has been ongoing for over a year now. In fact, Tony Snow remarked on it almost a year ago stating of the crackdown, "It has not achieved its objectives." Many covered that in real time (though every seems to have forgotten now). See Edward Wong's "Top Iraqi's White House Visit Shows Gaps With U.S." (New York Times) from last summer.
Maura Reynolds and Peter Spiegel (Los Angeles Times) cover Bullly Boy's attempted to shuffle step in "President says troop buildup needs time:"
Bush's comments come at a time when popular and congressional support for the war -- and the troop increase initiated in January -- has diminished even faster than the White House had anticipated.
Earlier this week, a key administration ally, Sen. Richard G. Lugar of Indiana, the top Republican on the Foreign Relations Committee and a leading voice on international affairs, said in a speech on the Senate floor that he could no longer support the strategy.
The White House dispatched National Security Advisor Stephen Hadley to meet with Lugar on Thursday, part of a new, orchestrated effort to buy the military commander in Iraq, Army Gen. David H. Petraeus, more time to show progress ahead of an expected evaluation of the plan in September.
White House officials said the president plans additional speeches in coming weeks to make the case that the strategy was gaining traction. The addresses will be aimed at wavering Republicans as much as at an increasingly skeptical public.
A CNN poll this week showed American support for the war had dropped to 30%, the lowest level since the 2003 invasion.
On yesterday's announcement of 3 British soldiers dying in Iraq, James in Brighton notes Andrew Pierce and David Blair's "Iraq deaths cast shadow over Brown's first dayBy Andrew Pierce and David Blair" (Telegraph of London):
Gordon Brown's first full day in office yesterday was overshadowed by the death of three young British soldiers in Iraq -- two of them from his Scottish constituency.
The killings were the result of a roadside bomb in Basra, detonated as a patrol passed by. A fourth soldier was seriously injured.
The new Prime Minister was told of the latest deaths first thing yesterday morning. The victims were Black Watch privates James Kerr, 20, from Mr Brown's Cowdenbeath constituency and Scott Kennedy, 20, from Oakley, Dunfermline, close to his Scottish home.
Cpl Paul Joszko, 28, of the Royal Welsh Battalion, was also killed.
The current total of British soldiers who have died in the illegal war is 156.
Lewis notes that a 1966 column ("Black Power") by MLK is posted at The Progressive.
The website of the magazine has been posting more from their archives. This is not "BUY A DIGITAL PACK BECAUSE LOOK HOW DAMN GREEDY WE ARE!". They are making these archived writings available online to all.
Bill Moyers Journal begins airing on some PBS channels tonight. Check your local listings for time and air date. This week, his commentary will address Rupert Murdoch's potential takeover of The Wall St. Journal (which would mean Murdoch owned two New York papers -- anti-trust much). The commentary can be watched or listened to via online streaming at YouTube and, as always with Bill Moyers Journal, the program's website for the show will be inclusive to all -- text of the commentary and the rest of this week's show will go up by tomorrow morning if not before.
On many PBS stations, NOW with David Brancaccio also debuts its new episode tonight (check local listings for time and for when it airs -- PBS stations decide air dates locally). They will examine health care in the United States and Brancaccio will interview Michael Moore about the topic and Sicko (Moore's new documentary on the health care crisis):
NOW Host David Brancaccio sits down with the controversial chronicler of American culture to find out what makes him tick, and why our healthcare system ticks him off.
In addition to the broadcast of NOW with David Brancaccio, the program's website "will provide additional coverage starting Friday morning, June 29. Features include a web-exclusive audio interview with former 9/11 volunteer emergency responder Reggie Cervantes, who was featured in Sicko; and information on getting and keeping good health insurance in your state."
In many markets, both programs begin airing tonight. Lastly, WBAI's Law and Disorder (and other broadcast stations as well) aired a portion (approximately 28 minutes) of the debate/discussion (sponsored by the Left Forum) between Laura Flanders and Stanley Aronowotiz on issues such as where does the left go now? Kat's "Law and Disorder: Laura Flanders, Stanley Aronowitz" and Mike's "Laura Flanders & Stanley Aronowitz (Law and Disorder)" offer two views of the debate/discussion. And the program can be streamed online.
Probably at many places but two are the program's website and the WBAI archives (scroll down to Monday).
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