Sunday, October 12, 2008

And the war drags on . . .

In today's New York Times, Sam Dagher's "Schools Open, And First Test Is Iraqi Safety" runs on the front page (and on A15) and it's all yada-yada-yada on the front page. Inside the paper the issue of internal refugees is raised. Then Dagher writes:

"In August, the number of Iraqis who returned home from abroad or from internal displacement soared to 37,835, compared with 20,546 in July and 16,338 in June." At that point you know the article is garbage and you can attempt to rescue bits but really what is the point?

It's time for another wave of Operation Happy Talk and Dagher's either unknowningly bought into it or bought into by choice and made the decision to repackage it and resell it. Yes, Jordan is busing and flying refugees back to Iraq (as a result of the sweet oil deal they made with Iraq). And, no, Dagher can't mention that. But your real tip off is that more people are leaving Iraq than returning.

No, that figure doesn't make it into the story. Nor does Dagher bother to note the issue of Iraqi Christians. Yes, the main crisis is Mosul but it is not the only location. And there's no defense that he's writing about Baghdad because the figures he's using (from the puppet government -- which he fails to note) cover all of Iraq.

With Vatican Radio reporting on the crisis, with the Pope concerned about the crisis, you might think that qualifies for the paper as a 'higher body' (not meaning religious, meaning 'authority') that could have some impact on the coverage but you would be wrong.

It's happy talk time and blood on your hands, Dagher, should any refugees struggling outside of Iraq stumble across your propagnada and assume it really is safe to return. The article doesn't even note that the UNHCR continues to maintain that it is not safe for Iraqis to return.

You can go through the article and look for anything resembling reality but you're searching in vain. Remember the free transportation covered last week? Iraqis in Syria were told, by the Iraqi embaassy there, that they could return and do so for free. And there were no takers. Doesn't fit in with the happy talk so Dagher doesn't mention it.

From Wednesday's "Iraq snapshot:"

The UNHCR estimates Iraq has 4.7 million refugees (internal and external). On the heels of Jordan getting the oil gifts from Iraq and deciding to bus and fly some Iraqi refugees out (who did not want to leave), attempts took place in Syria to 'ease out' the Iraqi refugees. AP reports that they were offered "free journeys" by Iraq's Embassy in Damascus but "there have been no takers" and "Adnan al-Shourifi, the commercial secretary at the Iraqi Embassy, said that free convoys and plane tickets would be provided for the returnees, along with about $1,300 in cash to each family from the Iraqi government and $500 from the United Nations." Sudarsan Raghavan (Washington Post) notes that "[o]nly a small fraction [of refugees] have returned," cites the Baghdad neighborhood of Hurriyah where only 325 "of the more than 7,000 Sunni families who fled in late 2006" have returned and notes that "U.N. officials and human rights groups are concerned that a speedy resettlement could touch off new strife, in part because sectarian segregation has helped to reduce violence".

None of that reality makes it into Dagher's article. It's just happy-happy in yet another wave of Operation Happy Talk.

Now let's go back to the crisis in Mosul (which Dagher can't find) because it is a serious crisis and when the Vatican is concerned that's generally enough for the Times to at least mention a humanitarian crisis if not file an article on the topic itself. This is from Patrick Cockburn's "Police pour into Mosul to protect Christians from sectarian killings" (Independent of London):

The Iraqi government was yesterday rushing 1,000 police to Mosul to try to stop a murderous campaign against Christians which has forced thousands to flee the northern city.
Officials say about 4,000 people have taken flight in the past week to escape the killings being carried out by Islamic extremists intent on wiping out one of the oldest Christian communities in the world. "The violence is the fiercest campaign against the Christians since 2003," said the provincial governor of Mosul, Duraid Kashmula. "Among those killed over the last 11 days were a doctor, an engineer and a handicapped person." At least three houses belonging to Christians were blown up in the Sukkar district of Mosul, regarded as a bastion of al-Qa'ida in Iraq, on Saturday night.
Since 28 September, at least 11 Christians have been killed in the mostly Sunni Muslim city that lies on the river Tigris some 200 miles north of Baghdad. Most of the refugees fleeing the violence are moving to Christian villages, schools and monasteries elsewhere in the Nineveh province.
"We left everything behind us. We took only our souls," said Ni'ma Noail, a middle-aged Christian civil servant, who has taken refuge with his three children in a church in Bartila, a Christian village east of Mosul. "Relatives in other cities and friends in Mosul, including Muslims, advised me to leave after recent events."

It takes a lot of dumb, and Dagher looks really dumb right now, to file the garbage he did in light of the above. And the crisis in Mosul didn't just happen in the last hours. We noted in Thursday night and in Friday's snapshot. The crisis didn't go away over the weekend, it only got worse. And yet we get Dagher with his head up his ass. Mosul isn't just a little town in Iraq, it's the country's third largest city. The paper that helped sell the illegal war has a duty, after the mea culpa, not to further endanger Iraqis. (Sam Dagher only recently moved over to the paper from the Christian Science Monitor. He is not among the ones at the Times who sold the illegal war.) Here's the BBC on the Mosul crisis: "Mosul's provincial governor said hundreds of Christian families had fled the city in the past week to seek refuge in outlying villages." Need more? From Ned Parker's "IRAQ: Christians flee Mosul" (Baghdad and Beyond, Los Angeles Times):

New violence this week against Christians in the northern Iraqi city of Mosul has sparked an outcry from the country's religious minority. In the last week, officials said, Christian families have fled the city after coming under attack from Sunni militants.
Christians have been targeted in the city along with other sects and ethnic groups since 2003. An estimated 933 Christian families have fled Mosul in the last week, said Jawdat Ismail, director of the ministry of displacement and migration in Nineveh province.
Nineveh, whose capital is Mosul, has been a front line in the simmering conflict between Kurds and Arabs over northern Iraq’s future boundaries. The tensions have fueled violence that has targeted Christians, along with other ethnic and religious groups, including Kurds, Shabaks and Yazidis. Sunni Arabs have also been targeted.

Gulf Daily News filed their story on Sunday:

Militants blew up three empty Christian homes yesterday in the northern Iraqi city of Mosul, where more than 3,000 Christian families have fled in the past two days.
The governor of northern Ninevah province, Duraid Mohammed Kashmoula, said more than 3,000 Christians have fled Mosul over the past week alone in what he called a "major displacement."
This is despite months of US and Iraqi military operations to secure the city.

CNN wasn't caught being silent. From Mohammed Tawfeeq's "Christians flee Iraqi city after killings, threats, officials say:"

At least 900 Christian families have fled Mosul in the past week, terrified by a series of killings and threats by Muslim extremists ordering them to convert to Islam or face possible death, officials said Saturday.
The attacks may have been prompted by Christian demonstrations ahead of provincial elections, which are to be held by the end of January, the deputy governor of Nineveh province said.
Deputy Gov. Khasro Goran said 13 Christians have been slain in the past two weeks inMosul, about 260 miles (420 kilometers) north of Baghdad. Fleeing Christians have sought refuge in monasteries and churches and with family members in other towns, an Interior Ministry official said.
The attacks began after hundreds of Christians took to the streets in Mosul and surrounding villages and towns, seeking greater representation on provincial councils, whose members will be chosen in the local elections.

The New York Times has covered this crisis when? But they've got time to push another wave of Operation Happy Talk? Remember the point earlier about how Dagher's using the puppet government figures (and ignoring reliable ones)? It is not a minor point. From Basil Adas' "UN-Iraq dispute over refugees returning home" (Gulf Daily News):

Baghdad: A dispute is raging between the United Nations and the Iraqi government on the number of Iraqi refugees living abroad - particularly in Jordan, Syria and Egypt - who have returned to Iraq.
While the UN report said that the number of returning refugees is less than the number of those departing, Major General Abdul Karim Khalaf, director of the operations at the Interior Ministry, denied this.

But that didn't make into Dagher's article. He just utilized the puppet government's figures (without attribution). The puppet government is not for the Iraqi people and that is why it is not popular with the Iraqi people. It's a nice little racket for them, installed and propped up by the US, sitting on billions of dollars (this year's surplus should reach $79 billion). And the only thing keeping the puppet government in place is the US military. In November the US holds elections and in January a new president will be sworn in. It is to the benefit of the puppet government to have the US remain in Iraq. As calls from the US Congress for accountablity increase, it's really interesting how yet again the puppet government shows up with creative figures on alleged 'progress.' It's deplorable that the New York Times chooses to repeat those claims as 'factual'. They'll waive the British bye-bye, they know Gordon Brown has wanted to pull out (and has slowly been doing that -- largely due to Afghanistan), but the US means protection and money and they won't give either up without a fight.

They're just there to try and make the people free,
But the way that they're doing it, it don't seem like that to me.
Just more blood-letting and misery and tears
That this poor country's known for the last twenty years,
And the war drags on.
-- words and lyrics by Mick Softly (available on Donovan's Fairytale)

Last Sunday, ICCC's number of US troops killed in Iraq since the start of the illegal war hit the 4,177 was the number. And tonight? 4181 is ICCC's count. Yesterday the US military announced: "A Multi-National Division – Center Soldier died Oct. 11 when an improvised explosive device detonated near his vehicle south of Amara in Maysan province." Just Foreign Policy's counter estimates the number of Iraqis killed since the start of the illegal war to be 1,273,378 up from 1,273,376 up. (No, it is not correct. Friday alone you had 24 reported deaths so I have no idea where they get that only two people died in all of last week.) Turning to some reported violence . . .


Reuters reports a Baghdad car bombing claimed 9 lives and left thirteen people injured, a Mosul roadside bombing that claimed 3 lives and left two more injured, a Sulaiman Pek roadside bombing "wounded an army major," a Baghdad roadside bombing wounded seven people (five are police officers) and another Baghdad roadside bombing wounded four people (three are police officers). AP reports 2 Mosul "suicide" car bombing that claimed the lives of 6 people (plus the drivers of the car) and wounded at least twenty-four people. Dropping back to Saturday, Reuters noted a Kirkuk car bombing injured "Sheikh Azad Khorsheed, deputy head of the Sunni endowment".


Reuters notes 2 Iraqi service members were shot dead in Baghdad. Saturday Retuers reports 1 police officer shot dead in Mosul (one civilian wounded), 2 "gunmen" shot dead in Samarra, 1 police officer shot dead in Hilla and 3 "suspected insurgents" shot dead in Balad.

Isaiah's latest comic goes up after this. New content at Third:

Truest statement of the week
Truest statement of the week II
A note to our readers
Editorial: Precious Time
TV: Some moments should stay undercover
The winner and top ten runner ups
Bombing of the Pentagon doesn't bother Barack?
Spectacular Dumb Ass Moments from Dumb Asses

Pru notes "Capitalism isn't working" (Great Britain's Socialist Worker):

As billions of pounds are poured into a financial black hole Socialist Worker editor Chris Bambery says 'We won't pay for capitalist chaos'
This week our front page declares "capitalism isn't working" -- a subversion of the Tories' 1979 "Labour isn't working" election poster that reflected anger at growing unemployment.
Contrary to popular mythology, this poster did not swing the election for the Tories. The sitting Labour government had lost even before the polling stations opened -- because it had made workers pay the price for the economic crisis.
Unemployment stood at just over one million when Margaret Thatcher was elected. Today, before the current economic chaos has hit, it stands at
1.72 million. Unemployment is expected to rise by 350,000 during the next two years.
The scale of the crisis has reached every part of the financial markets, with governments from the US to Iceland bailing out and nationalising banks in the hope of preventing further chaos.
This is not the first time we have seen such a crisis, and the lessons of the 1970s must be learnt. A Labour government used its relationships with union leaders to drive through cuts the Tories could only dream of. This paved the way for Thatcher’s Tories to drive through the humiliation of the unions.
The turning point came in the mid-1970s when a Labour government was faced with a choice of either maintaining its commitment to full employment and the welfare state, or acting on the demands of the City of London and the International Monetary Fund (IMF) to let unemployment rip and drive down living standards.
They chose the second option. Thatcher approved -- she just wanted more, much more.
In 1976, with inflation at 20 percent and the pound collapsing amid a growing international recession, the Labour cabinet called on the IMF to deal with a yawning budget deficit.
Chancellor Denis Healey told Labour Party conference delegates, "It means sticking to a pay policy which enables us, as the TUC resolved a week or two ago, to continue the attack on inflation."
Healey had agreed to put bailing out Great Britain PLC above the interests of his party’s supporters.
This attack on workers' pay won the backing of the trade union leaders, right and left.
Unemployment had doubled within the first year of wage controls.
Anger over Labour’s pay policy eventually broke through, with widespread public sector strikes in 1978-79 -- the Winter of Discontent. But the mood was sullen rather than confident.
Racism was on the rise as people looked for scapegoats . The solidarity that had broken the previous Tory government had ebbed away.
Labour lost the 1979 election because its supporters could no longer bring themselves to vote for a government that had so recklessly betrayed them.
This is a warning from history. The crisis today is affecting economies worldwide.
Last November the United Nations found that Iceland was the best place to live in the world – based on income, education, healthcare and life expectancy.
Now, as its currency collapses and interest rates are hiked up, all of that could vanish in a puff of smoke. The government and trade unions in Iceland are expecting ordinary people to make sacrifices, touting the notion that everyone is in it together. But we’re not.
The poor will be forced to tighten their belts, but the rich in Iceland, and everywhere else, will be expecting to be bailed out of their crisis.
Here in Britain the question of who pays for the crisis has not been posed so brutally. But trade union leaders representing health and council workers have already agreed pay deals worth half of the official inflation figure. Some openly argue that a recession means you can’t fight on pay or even resist at all.
The compromises their predecessors made in the mid-1970s destroyed a vibrant working class movement. The resulting demoralisation paved the way for Thatcher’s election and the three decade love affair between British governments and the market.
Back in 1936 as the fascists bombed Madrid, the Spanish Republican government warned "If you tolerate this, your children will be next." Those words stand today. Across the country we need to take to the streets to demand, “No bail out for the bankers -- we will not pay for their crisis!” From small acts of resistance we can craft a political force that can knock back those running this destrutive system.
March on the City We won’t bail out the bankers Friday 10 October 4-6pm Assemble at the Bank of England, Threadneedle St, London EC2R
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