Sunday, December 14, 2008

And the war drags on . . .

So Bully Boy went to Baghdad today to visit his international crime scene and it was not a pleasant experience for him. Adam Ashton and Mohammed al Dulaimy (McClatchy Newspapers) report it was one-shoe, two-shoe thrown at the Bully Boy by Muntathar al Zaidi, an Iraqi journalist, who yelled, "This is a goodbye kiss, you dog." The kisses missed the cheeks and, in fact, the entire target though puppet of the occupation, Nouri al-Maliki, did attempt to swat one away. Bully Boy would go on to declare, "This is what happens in free societies." And, as if to provide evidence of what a 'free society' Iraq is, the reporters explain:

Another Iraqi journalist yanked Zaidi to the ground before bodyguards collapsed on Zaidi and held him there while he yelled "Killer of Iraqis, killer of children." From the bottom of the pile, he moaned loudly and said "my hand, my hand."
Zaidi was hauled to a separate room, where his cries remained audible for a few moments.
It wasn't clear whether Zaidi was hurt. His employer, Cairo-based Baghdadiyah Television, released a statement late Sunday demanding Zaidi's release from Iraqi custody.

One-shoe, two-shoe. Neither a weapon. But the cries of the journalist could be heard even after he was drug away? Free society? Well Bully Boy leaves the White House next month and he's made it clear he's going to go out the way he came in: Lying.

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 was 4209 and tonight the count remains the same. Just Foreign Policy's counter estimates the number of Iraqis killed since the start of the illegal war to be 1,297,997 up from 1,288,426.

In some of the weekend's reported violence . . .


Hussein Kadhim (McClatchy Newspapers) reports a Baghdad roadside bombing that left three people wounded, a second Baghdad roadside bombing that left seven injured and a third roadside bombing that also left seven people injured. Dropping back to Saturday, Sahar Issa notes a Baghdad roadside bombing that resulted in six people being injured.


Hussein Kadhim (McClatchy Newspapers) reports Muzahim aal-Khayatt ("dean of the college of medicine") was wounded in a Mosul attack ("two bullets one in the abdomen and the other was in his leg"). On Saturday, McClatchy's Sahar Issa noted Brig Gen Hussein Derwish Alwan (Ministry of the Interior) was assassinated.

In Sunday's New York Times, Katherine Zoepf and Anwar J. Ali offer "Iraqi Victims and Families Meet U.S. Prosecutors" which details the FBI bring together approximately fify members of "vicitms' families and survivors" from Blackwater's September 16, 2007 slaughter in Baghdad. The reporters explain the reactions from the survivors and those who lost family in the slaughter:

"It's an old case, and I had lost hope," said Jassem Mohammed Hashem, a 29-year-old former policeman who has been on disability since being shot in the head by a Blackwater guard while he stood at his post. "But now it seems the American administration will give us our rights."
Mr. Hashem, who has a divot about half the size of an egg on the right side of his forehead, said that to save his life he had needed to undergo several operations. He still suffers from debilitating headaches, he said, as well as uncontrollable mood swings that have seriously affected his family relationships.
"I am so worried for my children," Mr. Hashem said. "My daughter is 5 and my son is 2 months old. I’m always in a bad mood, and I get very aggressive sometimes. I was never like this before. I lost my health on that day. I lost my job. I’m only 29, but I’m on disability and will probably have to retire."
A woman who identified herself as Umm Ghaith, whose husband, Hammoud Said Attah, a 32-year-old taxi driver, was killed in the shootings, said that until she received a call four days before informing her of the meeting, she had heard nothing about the investigation.
"Till now I don’t know what to expect, but I really wish justice will take place," she said at the gathering, accompanied by her six young children and her sister-in-law, whose husband was also killed. "I think we will probably file a suit against Blackwater -- it’s the right of my children."

A number of people in the US are weighing in on what 'needs' to happen. It's really important to listen to the victims. The article by Zoepf and Ali provides a forum for some of them. Meanwhile, James Glanz and T. Christian Miller cover an unreleased "513-page" report in "Official History Spotlights Iraq Rebuilding Blunders" and while the paper does love their 'official' nature, is it really "official history" if it's never 'officially' been released? (Answer: No.) It's a lengthy report (by the reporters) full of details but it's a bit hard to go beyond the section where Collie Powell is calling out the way numbers are invented ("the number would jump 20,000 a week!") when similar 'creativity' continues. Maybe in five years we can learn about that?

The treaty masquerading as a Status Of Forces Agreement was sold throughout the paper including on the front page. So it's a real shame that Elisabeth Bumiller's report gets buried on A16 (national edition of the paper). Bumiller, filing from Balad, is covering Ray Odierno (top US commander in Iraq) stating that US forces will not -- despite what the treaty says -- be leaving Iraqi cities this summer. Can't you just hear Eileen Brennan's Capt. Doreen Lewis saying, "Benjamin, I don't care what your lousy recruiter said!"? Bumiller not only covers that she expands on it. Not only has Odierno explained just how non-binding the treaty is (with US Secretary of Defense Robert Gates -- current and soon to be Barack's secretary as well -- standing beside him) but Bumiller also notes that Lt Col James Hutton "reiterated" Odierno's statements after the press conference. Bumiller notes Odierno also indicated that the US would attempt to renegotiate the treaty and stated, "Three years is a very long time." Your only surprised by that news if you've not been paying attention.

New content at Third:

Truest statement of the week
Truest statement of the week II
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Editorial: The treaty's not that confusing
TV: Left In The Dust
Best digital download buys
The remake of Stranges On a Train
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Isaiah's latest goes up after this. Pru highlights "Western intervention at root of Zimbabwe's disaster" (Great Britain's Socialist Worker):

The British government's hypocrisy over the cholera epidemic in Zimbabwe is jaw-dropping. Gordon Brown has said that "enough is enough" and that the United Nations security council should meet to discuss action against Robert Mugabe’s government.
The current regime may be disastrous, but Western intervention in Zimbabwe has always made things worse. Zimbabwe was a British colony. When white settlers declared independence in 1965 to maintain their racist privileges, there was no British intervention in the interests of the country's black majority.
After a guerrilla war defeated the racist state in 1980, a health service was launched modelled on the British NHS.
In the following decade, average life expectancy rose from 55 to 60 years, child malnutrition fell from 22 percent to 12 percent and infant mortality dropped from 100 to 53 deaths per thousand live births.
In 1987 the World Health Organisation and the United Nations Children's Fund held Zimbabwe up as a model for public healthcare.
The International Monetary Fund and the World Bank imposed a structural adjustment programme on the country in 1991. This demanded the marketisation of health, despite the success of the existing service.
Health provision for ordinary people has declined ever since.
Zimbabwe needs help, but not from the people whose policies began the crisis.
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mcclatchy newspapers
adam ashton

sahar issa
the new york times
katherine zoepf