Friday, October 12, 2007

Other Items

When I move in some neighborhoods in Baghdad, I see the blast walls increasing day after day and when I write the violence reports, some simple questions came to my mind and I think most of my people ask the same questions. If we have this daily violence in the different neighborhoods of Baghdad, why do the Americans and the Iraqi government insist on building more blast walls? Why do we lose more cement, more sand and more water for useless thing?
The government could build thousands of houses and give them to the unemployed young men whom some of them involve in the daily violence because they have nothing in this country.

The above is from "blast walls" (Inside Iraq, McClatchy Newspapers). Where is the concern for the security of Iraqis? It's the vacuum that the militias filled because no one else bothered to. In this morning's New York Times, Sabrina Tavernise -- still reeling from pimping with James Glanz a Blackwater-written report as a UN embassy report -- gets 'creative' with "Relations Sour Between Shiites and Iraq Militia:"

In a number of Shiite neighborhoods across Baghdad, residents are beginning to turn away from the Mahdi Army, the Shiite militia they once saw as their only protector against Sunni militants. Now they resent it as a band of street thugs without ideology.

Now there are tensions and they've been there for some time. But the article reads like "If we write it, it will become true." And the embarrassment isn't helped much by the fact that the articles based on 'interviews' with 10 Iraqis. Wow! Ten Iraqis. Well, they have really gone all out to do the work, haven't they. Talk about spending that three million dollars a year wisely to produce some of the finest journalism ever witnessed. Fortunately for Tavernise military whispers (some sourced, some unsourced) back up her point of view so she won't get in hot water -- though this embarrassing artice should raise eye brows. She also shares a byline with Sebnem Arsu on A11 entitled "Inside Turkey's Psyche: Traumatic Issues Trouble a Nation's Sense of Identity" which includes "psyche" in the text (headline writers are responsible for the Times' news headlines): "The answer is hidden deep inside the Turkish psyche" begins one sentence. Unless you also happen to hold a degree allowing you to treat mental illness, hard news reporters should stay away from such 'breezy' talk especially in what's billed as a "NEWS ANALYSIS." Hard news reporters address the concrecte, they don't conjecture about the 'human spirit' or a nation's 'psyche.'

Meanwhile, if the cholera outbreak weren't bad enough, Reuters reports:

The World Health Organisation (WHO) said on Friday it had asked Iraqi authorities to probe media reports of several cases of Rift Valley Fever in animals. The viral disease primarily affects animals but can infect humans through handling of blood or organs of infected animals, leading to high rates of disease and death, according to the United Nations health agency.

Julia notes an AP article and we're noting it but via Washington Post which will have it online after some sites have locked everything away in their non-archives. This is from Charles J. Gans'"Joni Mitchell's Muse Returns on 'Shine':"

The lyrics and melodies began flowing. The song "Bad Dreams" developed out of a profound remark by her 3-year-old grandson, "Bad dreams are good in the great plan." "Night of the Iguana" and "Hana" reflect her passion for old movies. Other songs like "Strong and Wrong" grew out of the anger she felt over the current state of affairs: the war in Iraq, global warming, torture and illegal wiretapping.
"I was mad at the government. Mad at Americans for not doing something about it," Mitchell said. "They were so quick to impeach Clinton for kinky sex and so slow to do something about ... the country turning into Nazi stormtroopers, and it's still smoggy. ... It was all that losing freedom and everybody just kind of oblivious, like what happened in Germany."
But Mitchell's melodies on "Shine" are anything but angry. She updated her 1970 hit "Big Yellow Taxi" -- her prescient environmental protest song -- giving it a lighthearted French-circus music arrangement with some humorous accordion sounds. On "If I Had A Heart," she laments "Holy Earth/How can we heal you?/We cover you like a blight/Strange birds of appetite," but the tune itself is a gorgeous ballad.
Mitchell created the music in the studio by herself with just her engineer, laying down synthesizer, piano and guitar tracks. She later brought in some guests including bassist and ex-husband Larry Klein; Bob Sheppard, who adds warm vibrato jazz saxophone solos; and James Taylor, whose guitar can be heard on the psalm-like title track.
Mitchell's hiatus from music had allowed her to partially recover from the vocal nodules, compressed larynx and muscular degeneration of post-polio syndrome that she felt had limited her vocal range on her last albums.
"I think she's singing better than ever myself," said Klein, her longtime musical partner, in a telephone interview. "Of course her voice has changed dramatically from her early records ... where she thinks she sounds like she was on helium."
"This record was a very personal process for her," he said. "Something that she just had to do to pry open wherever the muse comes from inside her."

Kat reviewed the amazing Shine CD last week and concluded:

The music is gorgeous throughout, Joni's vocals are strong and sure, and thematically, it's one to put in her canon which says a great deal because her canon already includes such notables as Blue, Court & Spark, Night Ride Home, For The Roses and Dog Eat Dog. Her lows would make for most people's highs. This is an amazing album and, yes, you can pick it up at Starbucks. Wherever you pick it up, you need to. Shine is not just one of the year's finest, it's one of Joni's most gorgeous albums. The tempos and arrangements of The Hissing of Summer Lawns did nothing for me but they inspired Prince. I'm sure this album will be an inspiration to artists for years to come. If it doesn't make your own playlist, you're cheating yourself.

If you're wondering where the artists commenting on today are, they are out there and Joni Mitchell is among them. Shine is magnificent. On PBS this weekend, Friday October 12th in most markets, NOW with David Brancaccio will air a one hour program, "Child Brides: Stolen Lives" documenting "the heartbreaking global phenomenon of forced child marriage, and the hope behind breaking the cycle of poverty and despair it causes." They've created an e-Card you can send to friends and family or to yourself to provide a heads up to the broadcast (and there is no cost to send the e-Card). Maria Hinojosa will report from Niger, Guatemala, India, etc.:

On Friday, October 12 at 8:30 pm (check local listings), NOW's Senior Correspondent Maria Hinojosa travels around the world for a revealing exploration of early child marriage in developing countries, and how people can act locally and globally to solve the problem. The hour-long special, "Child Brides: Stolen Lives," marks the first time the subject has been documented in a primetime television newsmagazine. Countries visited include Niger, India and Guatemala.The stakes are high: child brides typically experience high rates of childbirth complications, HIV infection, partner violence, and a cycle of poverty. An estimated 100 million girls will be married over the next 10 years.In her report, Hinojosa takes viewers on a journey of sorrow, healing and hope, including scenes of an illegal midnight wedding in India where children as young as three are married. In each country, Hinojosa shares the work of brave community members who are campaigning to end the centuries-old practice of child marriage - sometimes putting their own lives at risk.