In this morning's New York Times, Cara Buckley's "U.S. Military Plans to Bolster Iraqi Sentry Forces by 10,000" offers that 10,000 more "security guards" (thugs) are being bought. She notes Wednesday bused and bought refugees from Syria that came back to Iraq in "20 busloads" with a "government spokesman" hailing the return of 800 while the city coucil says it was more like 200 and cites Dana Graber Ladek (International Organization for Migration) explaining that the those returning in the trickle "have discovered squatters living in their homes". Buckley also notes the cholera outbrak ("with 101 new cases reported in recent weeks") and notes issues of sewage. It's a very brief article so no excerpt.
If you've missed the press tour that's accompanying this wave of Operation Happy Talk, you might ask where is the national media? Robert Gates, alleged Secretary of Defense, has taken to colleges and, more recently, the Killen Chamber of Commerce in Texas to sell more illegal war. As everyone knows Bully Boy hates to hit the road (he gets grumpy) so the hallmark of the second term may be that he lets others do all the selling. As usual, the point is to avoid the national press and get the soundbytes in the local media. It's an important aspect of selling the lies and hype and one that's gotten very little attention from the national media. In Killen, Gates railed against Congress. Not really sure when that, or speaking stops, became part of the job description of the Secretary of Defense.
Today the US military announced: "Small-arms fire killed one Multi-National Division -- Baghdad Soldier in a western section of the Iraqi capital Nov. 28."
In other news of violence, Reuters offers Preti Taneja's "Iraq's minorities face terrible choices:"
Some of Iraq's religious and ethnic minorities have lived in the region for two millennia. Yet the violence gripping the country means many now face a terrible choice: convert, leave or die.
Minority priests, politicians and civilians are being targeted and killed simply because of their ethnic or religious affiliations.
For the Christians, still speaking in Aramaic, the language of the Bible, the threat comes from the fact that their faith associates them with the West and with the Multi-National Force in Iraq.
Who felt the immediate force of the backlash when the Pope made his comments about Islam last year? Iraq's Christians. How are they identified? In some cases, by the jobs they do. Allowed by Saddam Hussein's Ba'ath party to trade in alcohol, many of them run businesses that make them obvious targets to fanatics.
What about Mandaeans, followers of John the Baptist, whose faith is pre-Christian? They are unable to protect themselves as others in Iraq have been forced to, because their faith forbids them to take up arms.
Yazidis too are under attack. Their figure of worship is Maluk Ta'us, the fallen angel - the Yazidis believe he was forgiven by God. Their faith has led to them being accused of "devil worship" and they are being slaughtered for their beliefs. Both the Mandaeans and Yazidis have had fatwas issued against them.
Other minorities include BahÃ¡'Ãs, Faili Kurds, Jews, Palestinians, Shabaks and Turkomans. Together they make up 10 percent of Iraq's population.
The numbers leaving Iraq are disproportionately high.
Since 2003, the United Nations refugee agency has recorded that 44 percent of Iraqi asylum seekers to Syria are Christian. Christians were also the largest group of refugees arriving in the Jordanian capital Amman this time last year.
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