Saturday, October 11, 2008

Violence continues, press moves on

The bomb blew up about 4:30 as shoppers were crowding the outdoor market, officials said. As residents began removing the bodies, national police arrived from a largely Sunni unit recently assigned to the area, witnesses said. The officers began firing their rifles in the air, apparently to clear away bystanders, they added.
Residents began hurling bricks at the police and setting tires ablaze, sending columns of black smoke into the air, according to the witnesses. Some protesters yelled slogans against Iraq's Shiite-led government and in support of Moqtada al-Sadr, a firebrand Shiite cleric known for his anti-American rhetoric, they said.
"The people were accusing them [police] of not protecting the neighborhood, and helping the insurgents," said a college student from the neighborhood, Hassan al-Obeidi.Three of the demonstrators were wounded by bullets, according to witnesses. U.S. military and Iraqi security forces cordoned off the area with armored vehicles, warning residents to stay inside, as American helicopters swept overhead.
Conflict between Sunnis and Shiites raged in central Iraq from 2005 to 2007, even as insurgents from both groups targeted U.S. forces. The violence has plummeted in recent months thanks to U.S. counterinsurgency efforts, a cease-fire declared by Sadr, and the decision of largely Sunni armed groups to switch allegiances and become U.S. allies.

The above is from Mary Beth Sheridan and Qais Mizher's "24 Killed, 45 Injured in Bombings and Shootings Across Iraq" (Washington Post). The New York Times? Oh, apparently nothing happened in Iraq yesterday to read the paper today. No story filed from Iraq.

Al Jazeera reports that Turkey bombed nothern Iraq again ("sith Turkish air raid in northern Iraq since October 3 when PKK fighters attacked a Turkish border outpost, killing 17 soldiers") and that the Turkish government states the "31 suspected targets" have been bombed. UPI adds, "The PKK, labeled by both Turkey and Iraq as a terrorist organization, is continuing to operate in the Qandil Mountains in northern Iraq bordering Turkey and Iran, officials say." It is also considered a terrorist organization by the US government and the State Dept and the White House, in press briefings last week, have continued to note that the US sees Turkey as an ally.

The Bully Boy economy tanks and the apparent talking point is: Look for the hidden rainbow! From Nancy A. Youssef's "Economy's bust is a boon for military's recruiting effort" (McClatchy Newspapers):

The economic crisis could help the military recruit and retain troops, Pentagon officials said Friday, potentially ending years of extraordinary bonuses and waivers that have become necessary to keep enough troops to fight two wars.
"We do benefit when things look less positive in civil society," said David S.C. Chu, undersecretary of defense for personnel and readiness. "That is a situation where more are willing to give us a chance. I think that's the big difference -- people willing to listen to us."

Meanwhile Reporters Without Borders notes yesterday's attack on 28-year-old journalist Diyar Abbas Ahmed in Kirkuk that left the young man dead. They state, "Ahmed was the 22nd media worker to be killed in Iraq since March 2003. What kind of political or spiritual victory can those who commit such horrible crimes hope to achieve?" The Committee to Protect Journalists
issued a statement from their deputy director Robert Mahoney: "We express our condolences to the family and colleagues of Dyar Abas Ahmed. We call on the authorities do everything in their power to track down Ahmed's ‎killers and bring them to justice."

On a related topic, Ernesto Londono and Amit R. Paley's "Western Journalists in Iraq Stage Pullback of Their Own" (Washington Post) notes the decline in foreign (non-Iraqi) journalists:

In a stark indication of the changing media focus here, the number of journalists traveling with American forces in Iraq has plummeted in the past year. U.S. military officials say they "embedded" journalists 219 times in September 2007. Last month, the number shrank to 39. Of the dozen U.S. newspapers and newspaper chains that maintained full-time bureaus in Baghdad in the early years of the war, only four are still permanently staffed by foreign correspondents.
CBS and NBC no longer keep a correspondent in Baghdad year-round.
"It remains important and it remains interesting," said Alissa J. Rubin, the New York Times' acting bureau chief in Baghdad. "But what's in front of us now is almost a static situation. There's not a clear narrative line. The stories are more complex."

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