Tuesday, October 09, 2007

NYT's Iraq desk takes the day off

The paper's executives say that they are spending more than $3m (£1.5m) a year on a story that has run for nearly five years. The expatriate team of around 15 reporters, photographers and administrators is supported by around 100 Iraqis.

The above is from the recent puff piece the Independent of London ran on John F. Burns and the paper referred to is the New York Times. The figure is actually significanlty more than "$3m" but you'd think with that kind of money being tossed around, it would be necessary for "the expatriate team" to actually produce something -- quanity if not quality. Jane Perlez gets the front page with a story on the British troops cut filed from London and she's not part of "the expatriate team," nor is she in Iraq. (We noted that yesterday. If you're late, click here for Jane's story on it.) Otherwise? On A14 a story from Iraq actually appears . . . but it's an AP story not anything the paper's staff wrote.

KUNA is reporting that Sheikh Ibrahim Abdel Karim was assassinated today in Baghdad by unknown assailants. Reuters reports, "Gunmen killed Abdul-Aali Thenoon, the deputy police chief of Nineveh Province, and wounded his driver in a drive-by shooting in the city of Mosul, 390 km (240 miles) north of Baghdad, police said. . . . Gunmen wounded Abdul-Amir Mahmoud, the head of police intelligence in Kirkuk, 250 km (155 miles) north of Baghdad, police said." The targeting of officials continues even if it only resulted in one (late) mention in the paper weeks ago.

Early in the illegal war, the paper did a story on the Tigris and the pollution of it -- important because so many depend upon the river for drinking water. These days, what do they report on other than briefings?

Possibly reality isn't fitting in with their need to continue selling the illegal war? Here's the opening of Jay Price and Jenan Hussein's "In Baghdad, elusive electricity is rare delight" (McClatchy Newspapers):

Child: "Mother, mother! Daddy was electrocuted!" Mother: "We have power?" -- Popular Iraqi joke
BAGHDAD -- It was October, but still too hot to sleep inside, so the eight members of the Faekh family climbed onto the roof of their house for another night of torment. It wasn't just the nagging fear of a bomb on their road and the thumping passage of U.S. helicopters. It wasn't just the clatter and exhaust from generators all over the neighborhood. It was impossible to sleep well when they had to keep constant watch on a light by the front gate, a light that wasn't even on.
Then, suddenly, it was.
"God bless Prophet Muhammad," said the mother, Akhbal.
She and her teenage daughter, Abeer, leaped up. No matter that it was after 2 a.m. The power was on and so was the race to harness it. They had an hour to wash clothes and iron them so that Akhbal's husband, Haidar, and the six children could be presentable at work and school.
It was the second of two hours of electricity they get each day from the state-run power grid. Four and a half years after the U.S.-led invasion of Iraq, it's never certain when the power will arrive, just that one electrified hour will come in the morning, another at night. U.S. reconstruction officials say that on average, electricity is available 10 hours a day, but Akhbal, a small woman whose face is worn beyond her 48 years, doesn't know anyone who gets close to that much.

Alexandra Zavis (Los Angeles Times) reports on the reopening of the border between Iraq and Iran:

Iran reopened its border Monday with Iraq's northern Kurdish region, which it closed last month to protest the detention of an Iranian official there by U.S. forces.
Iran agreed to reopen the five border crossings after the Kurdish regional authorities sent a delegation to Tehran to argue that they should not be punished for a dispute with the United States.
In a deal announced Sunday, the two sides pledged to crack down on Iranian Kurdish rebels who are using Iraq as a base to launch attacks against Iran, and Iraqi militants who are using Iran as a base to attack Kurdish regional authorities.

And Tina Susman covers the realities for Iraqi women and the Iraqi constitution in "Supporters say Article 41 will keep the state out of civil affairs. Critics say it will usher in Sharia:"

It has been nearly 30 years since she got married, but Iraqi legislator Samira Musawi still bristles at what she considers the ultimate indignity: a law requiring witnesses to certify the rite.
She and her husband-to-be grabbed a couple of strangers, gave them each about $10 and were legally wed.
"I didn't even know these people; they could have been thugs," Musawi said of the men who validated the 1979 civil ceremony in a west Baghdad court.
That memory is one reason Musawi, who heads parliament's Women, Family and Childhood Committee, supports Article 41, a clause in Iraq's interim constitution that supporters say will prevent state meddling in civil affairs by allowing Iraqis to marry, divorce, decide inheritances and settle other personal issues according to their religious sect. For example, under Shiite law, no witnesses are required for a marriage, but Sunnis require two.
But a fight over the article's potential effect has presented a stumbling block to lawmakers trying to finalize a constitution by year's end.Article 41 is just one line in the 16-page document, but to critics, it is the worst.
Opponents, including women's rights activists and legal scholars, say the one poorly worded sentence opens the door to rule by draconian interpretations of Islamic law that could sanction the stoning of adulterous women, allow underage girls to be forced into marriage and permit men to abandon their wives by declaring, "I divorce you," three times.
In the southern city of Basra, there are already signs of religious extremism being used to rein in women. Police say gangs enforcing their idea of Islamic law have killed 15 women in the last month. "There are gangs roaming through the streets . . . pursuing women and carrying out threats and killing because of what the women wear or because they are using makeup," the Basra police commander, Maj. Gen. Abdul Jaleel Khalaf, said this month.

And the Times of New York is where? Filing from London and running an AP story. While wanting everyone to be impressed with the vast sums of money they spend (with little results) each year in Iraq.

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