I think Iraq is much better off than it was before we went in in '03 and got rid of Saddam Hussein. I think we are close to achieving most of our objectives. We've seen a significant reduction in the overall level of violence; it's lower now than virtually anytime since we've been there in the spring of '03. We've seen the elimination of one of the world's worst regimes. We've seen the Iraqis write a constitution and hold three national elections. We've now entered into a strategic framework agreement with the Iraqis that calls for ultimately the U.S. completion of the assignment and withdrawal of our forces from Iraq. All of those things I think by anybody's standard would be evidence of significant success. And I think we're very close to achieving what it is we set out to do five years ago when we first went into Iraq.
That's Dick Cheney lying through his teeth on CBS' Face The Nation (link has text and video). And if you listen closely, you can hear a thousand sighs. It's people like Amy Goodman who are grateful they have a tidbit for a headline. Gateful they can dedicate a whopping 30 seconds to the illegal war out of hours and hours of broadcast time. Never cared about the Iraq War to begin with. Lost interest almost immediately. All this time later, still don't care.
That's why last week's news that ABC, CBS and NBC were pulling out of Iraq wasn't greeted with any proposal by Panhandle Media. No one said, "We're going to make a committment to cover Iraq!" No one put forward that they'd use a tiny portion of their endless yammering time by speaking with Iraqi correspondents. Yeah, they're too damn cheap to send their own correspondents; however, there are (and have always been) more than enough correspondents they can speak with. Deepa Fernadez managed to interview correspondents with Alive In Baghdad. Even if others couldn't, she managed to do so. There are also AFP correspondents, AP correspondents, Reuters correspondents, many, many more to choose from. But they have never made time for that. They've got time to bring Norman Solomon on to dish about Barack Obama (without disclosing he's a pledged delegate for Barack) during the primaries and general election, but actual information -- not gossip, not hype, not f**king bulls**t that you could hear at any bar, but actual information that could increase your understanding? No time for that. Never, ever any time for that. But if you want to hear blowhard talk, there's always time for that. As late as 2007, you may remember, KPFA could and did devote entire half-hour segments to Judith Miller. Again, offering nothing you couldn't have gotten at any bar from the loud, drunken blowhard on the next stool.
And things really aren't working out the way they all hoped. Remember how January 1st (and 2nd) were spent with 'reporting' on what would happen -- what they just knew would happen. The United Nations warned violence would increase but news outlets just knew better . . . or thought they did. It's a real shame reporters couldn't have spent the time telling us what actually happened as opposed to offering their 'hopes' and 'predictions' passed off as fact.
Friday saw a bombing with mass fatalities and, what do you know, so did today.
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 4219 and tonight? 4221. Just Foreign Policy's counter estimates the number of Iraqis killed since the start of the illegal war to be 1,307,319 up from 1,305,837 (where it was stuck for more than week).
Sunday's biggest violence was a bombing in Baghdad. Hussein Kadhim and Leila Fadel (McClatchy Newspapers) report the bomber killed herself and "as many as 40 people" not far from "the holy Iman Musa al Kdhim shrine." Anthony Shadid (Washington Post) notes that the bombing was "20 yeards from a door to the . . . shrine" and adds, "Residents described scenes of carnage after the woman detonated the explosives at 11:15 a.m. on a cool, sunny morning. Dismembered bodies were strewn across a muddy road and near a covered market, the blast's force hurling some parts onto the roofs of nearby two-story buildings. Volunteers gathered bloodied pieces of flesh in black plastic bags. In the ensuing, chaotic minutes, witnesses said, some peopled vomited at the sight and smell of blood." Kimi Yoshino (Los Angeles Times) reports 72 wounded and observes, "It is the second major bombing in the predominantly Shiite neighborhood of Khadimiya since Dec. 27, when a minibus exploded, killing 24." "The attack was the second major bombing since US forces came under Iraqi Government authority on January 1. It also occurred as Iraqi leaders expressed confidence in their ability to defend Iraq at a ceremony to mark Army Day," points out Deborah Haynes (Times of London).
Turning to some of the other reported violence for the weekend
Mohammed Al Dulaimy and Hussein Kahdim (McClatchy) report a Baghdad roadside bombing that wounded three people, a Khanaqeen roadside bombing that left five Iranian pilgrims injured, and -- dropping back to Saturday, two Mosul bobmings which claimed 1 life and left one person wounded. Saturday Retuers noted a Baghdad roadside bombing that claimed 2 lives and left ten people wounded, a Sinjar sticky bombing that claimed 2 lives and left one other person wounded. Sahar Issa (McClatchy) noted a Saturday Baghdad mortar attack that claimed 2 lives and left seven people wounded.
Saturday Reuters noted a Kirkuk home invasion in which Anwar Mohedin Rasoul of the Kurdistan Communist Party was shot dead, 1 police officer shot dead in Mosul.
Mohammed Al Dulaimy and Hussein Kadhim (McClatchy) report 1 corpse discovered in Baghdad today.
Let's move to the Sunday New York Times. A6, six paragraphs, Campbell Robertson's "American Troops in Baghdad Seriously Wound a Woman." Tells you journalist Hadeel Emad is 24-years-old (see yesterday). Ernesto Londono (Washington Post) has actual news, "The employer of an Iraqi television producer shot and wounded by U.S. troops on New Year's Day disputed the military's assertion Saturday that she had acted suspiciously and had failed to heed warnings before the troops opened fire. . . . A statement posted Saturday on the station's Web site said Imad was shot 'in cold blood' and noted that the incident coincided with the implementation of the security agreement that Iraqi and U.S. officials have exalted as an affirmation of Iraq's sovereignty. "
Nouri al-Maliki, puppet of the occupation, continued his Iranian visit today. Xinhua states he met with Ayatollah Ali Khammenei today and Khamenei told him that there will be no peace in Iraq as long as the US present: "The U.S. is treacherous and reneger and is not a good friend even for its close allies in the region, therefore, its promises cannot be trusted."
What makes it into a snapshot and what doesn't? A question to the public e-mail account. Some things don't make it in because there's no time that day (or possibly later ones). Others don't make it in because they're held because something else is coming up. Two examples from last week. Deborah Haynes did a report about a sleeping device for big-whigs in Iraq. There just wasn't time for it. It might make it in this week, it might not. It was interesting and had two solid photographs. There just wasn't time. Tony Perry did a report on the US Marines purchasing cows for widows. The story forgot to note the rations program and all the cuts to it. I addressed that in a morning entry but didn't put it in the snapshot because a report was due on the rations programs. In Haynes case, I just couldn't squeeze it in, in Perry's case, I was waiting. From IRIN's "Iraqis want free food programme to continue, finds survey:"
Iraq's food rationing system, known as the Public Distribution System (PDS), was set up in 1995 as part of the UN's oil-for-food programme following Iraq's invasion of Kuwait 17 years ago. However, it has been crumbling since the US-led invasion of Iraq in 2003 due to insecurity, poor management and corruption.
In late 2007, the Iraqi Trade Ministry, which runs the programme, was contemplating reducing the 10-item PDS parcels by half in 2008 due to lack of financial support and soaring world food prices. However, the idea was later dropped when the government allocated US$7.3 billion to keep the programme running in 2008. Each PDS parcel costs the government 500 Iraq dinars (less than 50 US cents) per person.
In mid-2008, the trade ministry said it was drawing up a plan to be implemented in 2009 that would restrict the food aid programme to the poor and that it would cooperate with the planning ministry in this regard.
Mohammed Hanoon, spokesman of the Iraqi Trade Ministry, said the government was under a lot of pressure to cut its 2009 budget due to low world oil prices and was therefore planning to allocate US$5 billion or less this year to the PDS. The Iraqi government depends on oil revenues for about 95 percent of its income.
"The cabinet has not yet responded to the ministry's plan to reduce the number of beneficiaries and we cannot predict the fate of the food ration [system] this year or 2010," Hanoon told IRIN.
No, giving a widow a cow doesn't make up for the above and we'll address it in a snapshot.
New content at Third:
Truest statement of the week
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Isaiah's latest goes up after this. Pru highlights "Stop Israel’s terror in Gaza" (Great Britain's Sociliast Worker):
US and Britain have blood on their hands End the killing–lift the blockade
Israel is committing mass murder in Gaza, and the US and Britain are giving their blessing to the slaughter. Gaza’s hospitals and morgues are bursting with the dead and the injured.
Israel’s barbaric assault, which began last Saturday, has killed hundreds of Palestinians. It plans to kill many more. Israel’s defence minister Ehud Barak has said that Israel wants to “widen and deepen the operation”.
Western leaders blame the Hamas resistance group for the conflict. The media mostly go along with this, or at best portray it as a clash between two sides that are equally to blame.
But Israel is a terror state, armed with F-16 fighter jets, helicopter gunships and tanks, that is attacking a largely impoverished and isolated people. The West has backed Israel to the hilt.
Israel has launched its new onslaught in an attempt to wipe out any resistance to its dominance over the Palestinian people.
It wants to destroy Hamas, which won the Palestinian elections in January 2006, because the organisation leads the struggle against its people’s oppression.
The last few days have exposed the shameless hypocrisy of Western leaders.
George Bush says there cannot be a ceasefire until the Palestinians surrender to Israel’s demands. Gordon Brown calls for “moderation” but refuses to condemn Israel’s attacks.
Both ignore the fact that, while a “ceasefire” held from June to November, no Israeli was killed by rocket fire from Gaza. Israel broke the ceasefire on 4 November forcing the Palestinians to respond.
Israel’s economic blockade of Gaza over the past year and a half has cut off supplies of the most basic necessities, such as food, medicine and water.
A ceasefire on Brown’s terms would allow the blockade to continue, with tens of thousands of Palestinians suffering from malnutrition, disease and poverty.
Anger at the slaughter has sparked mass demonstrations across the world in solidarity with the Palestinians, calling for an immediate end to the Israeli bombing and the blockade of Gaza. Millions of people are also demanding that Gaza’s borders are opened.
Any hope of lasting peace in the Middle East will only be realised if there is justice for the Palestinian people. This means an end to the racist state of Israel and the so-called “war on terror”, which has produced more wars and instability. It is only a global mass movement of ordinary people that can bring about this change.
The following should be read alongside this article: » Eyewitness in Gaza: ‘Can you hear the noise? The Israelis are bombing again’» Opposition to war remains a powerful force in the world» Gaza: a new flashpoint in the ‘war on terror’» Hamas: the changing face of the Palestinian resistance» Palestine’s long torment» Egyptians rage at hated regime» Israel’s bloody assault on Gaza fuels protests across the world» Demonstrations called around country against Israel bombing Gaza» Large demonstrations around Britain against Israel’s massacre in Gaza» New demonstrations called as Israel moves tanks into Gaza» Video of London march for Gaza, 3 January 2009
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and the war drags on
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