Friday, June 26, 2009

14 dead in Baghdad bombing this morning

Violence continues this morning in Iraq. Alissa J. Rubin and Campbell Robertson have already filed "Wave of Bombings Continues in Iraq" online at the New York Times. They open with a Baghdad motorcycle suicide bombing which has claimed at least 9 lives and left twenty-five wounded. This is an update to their article which appears in this morning's paper.

The motorcyle bombing is the second in Baghdad this week. The other was Wednesday's which resulted in at least 78 deaths. That wasn't a suicide bombing, however, the bomber was said to have fled the motorcyle (used to pull explosives hidden beneath produce) before it exploded. Reuters notes the death toll in the suicide bombing has risen to 13 (actually 14, count the bomber -- and the wounded is at forty-five) and they also note the following violence today: a Baghdad roadside bombing claimed the life of 1 Iraqi soldier and left two more injured. They include some overnight and late Thursday violence and we'll note this: "Gunmen wearing military uniforms attacked a convoy carrying a senior criminal judge in Mosul on Thursday, wounding one of his bodyguards, police said. The judge was not hurt."

When you're caught serving up US government propaganda at the start of the week, you'd think you'd keep your head low for the rest of the week. Not only do your talking points end up on the US government propaganda outlet Voice of America (and all its spin-offs with "Radio Free . . ." in the title), but you're rah-rah Nouri talking point is slapped down by Anthony Shadid (Washington Post) and public events slap down your 'Western companies aren't going to do oil business in Iraq!'. But apparently you woke up yesterday begging for a beating which is why Timothy Williams offers up "Warily Moving Ahead on Oil Contracts" in this morning's New York Times. In the real world, AP offers a list of the Big Oil countries rushing in to bid on Iraqi oil and we'll note their first eight countries on the list:

UNITED STATES: Chevron, ConocoPhilips, Exxon Mobil, Hess Corp., Marathon International Petroleum Ltd., and Occidental Petroleum Corp.

United Kingdom: BP Group PLC.

Japan: Inpex Holdings Inc., Japex and Nippon Oil Corp.

Australia: BHP Billiton Ltd. and Woodside Petroleum Ltd.

China: China's CNOOC Ltd., CNPC International Ltd., Sinochem International Co. Ltd., and Sinopec Shanghai Petrochemical co. Ltd.

Italy: Edison International SPA and Eni.

Russia: JSC Lukoil and JSC Gazprom Neft.

France: Total SA.

Anthony DiPaola (Bloomberg News) explains that Exxon and Shell are foaming at the bit and they are only 8 "of the world's top 10 non-state oil producers" who are rushing to cash in on Iraq oil. Sinan Salaheddin's "Big Oil poised for return to Iraq" (AP) explains the basics. While Timothy Williams played the violins for Big Oil on Monday and begged for a greater theft of Iraqi oil, Ahmed M. Jiyad (UPI) details what the contracts actually allow and concludes, "Considering the above and their possible implications it seems these model related to the first bidding round do not and could not deliver the best interest for the Iraqi people, and probably this explains the growing opposition to them." Reuters explains, "Here are some facts about Iraq's oil industry" in this report which points out: "Iraq's oil has been coveted by foreign powers for decades." Also of interest, Christopher Helman's "Cashing In On Iraqi Oil" (Forbes). In other words, as Elton John might sing it, "Oh, little Timmy, you were always someone's fool."

Addressing real issues is Carmen Blanco's "Dominican sister vows to remain in Iraq despite increasing violence" (Catholic Spirit) which opens with:

Despite growing numbers of Iraqi Christians fleeing their country to escape the violence and persecution, an Iraqi Dominican nun says she will remain in her country.
"I am committed to staying in Iraq for those who remain: the poor, the vulnerable, the widows and their children," Sister Maria Hanna said in a meeting at the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops.
Sister Hanna, a member of the Dominican Sisters of St. Catherine of Siena in Mosul, Iraq, visited Washington in June to talk about her work and to give Catholic agencies and organizations an update on current conditions in the country. She has set goals to build schools and hospitals for those remaining in Iraq and to give hope to all Iraqis.
"Our services are not just for Christians," Sister Hanna said. "Our hospital offers care to Christians and Muslims. And the students in our schools are mostly Muslims."

TV notes. Coming up on NOW on PBS:

American streets are littered with foreclosed houses, but one daring advocate says these homes shouldn't go to waste. He encourages and facilitates homeless squatting. It's an idea that addresses two issues at once - homelessness and foreclosed homes -- and it's also illegal.
This week, NOW travels to Miami to meet with Max Rameau, an advocate for the homeless. Rameau's organization, Take Back the Land, identifies empty homes that are still livable, and tries to find responsible families willing to take the enormous legal risks of moving in.
Rameau, who considers his mission an act of civil disobedience, says it's immoral to keep homes vacant while there are human beings living on the street. But while these squatters have morality in their hearts, they don't have the law on their side.
With the faltering economy separating so many people from their homes, what's society's responsibility to those short on shelter?

That and other PBS programming noted begin airing on many PBS stations tonight, check local listings. Only on PBS can you get crap like Gwen gas bagging with three men and one woman in 2009 and have that junk be considered 'appropriate' and 'diverse'. On Washington Week, Gloria Borger (US News & World Reports, CNN) is the lone woman. Pete Williams (NBC), David Sanger (NYT) and John Dickerson (Slate, CBS News) are the men. To actually see women address the week's issues, join Bonnie Erbe who sits down with Sam Bennett, Victoria Lipnic, Eleanor Holmes Norton, Tara Setmayer and Genevieve Wood on PBS' To The Contrary. Check local listings. And turning to broadcast TV, Sunday CBS' 60 Minutes offers:

  • The Cheaters
    60 Mintes and The Washington Post reveal how online poker players suspecting cheating were forced to successfully ferret out the cheaters themselves. That's because managers of the mostly-unregulated $18 billion Internet gambling industry failed to respond to their complaints. Steve Kroft and The Washington Post's Gilbert Gaul report. | Watch Video

    Mind Reading
    Neuroscience has learned so much about how we think and the brain activity linked to certain thoughts that it is now possible - on a very basic scale - to read a person's mind. Lesley Stahl reports. | Watch Video

    American Greg Carr is using his great wealth to try to help some of the poorest people in Africa by attracting more tourists to their neighborhood - the beautiful national park of Gorongosa in Mozambique. Scott Pelley reports. | Watch Video

    60 Minutes, Sunday, June 28, at 7 p.m. ET/PT.

Turning to public radio, NPR's The Diane Rehm Show begins airing at ten a.m. EST today (and streaming online). The first hour is domestic and her panelists are New Republic's Michael Crowley, Chicago Sun-Times' Lynn Sweet and Wall St. Journal's Naftali Bendavid. The second hour is international in focus and her panelists are Newsweek's Michael Hirsh, CNN's Elise Labott (who's done outstanding work on Iraqi refugees and is never afraid to press that issue in an official press briefing) and McClatchy's Warren Strobel.

In the New York Times, Susan Stewart offers an obit on Farrah Fawcett which is probably the closest to getting her career right. I am not recommending anything else and am intentionally not reading another piece. Were I to read it and it be as bad as I suspect it might be, I would rip ____ apart and point out how personally destroyed Farrah was by _____'s slam that attacked her not for her acting but for the way a Jackie Collins character was created. That is one of the few reviews that actually hurt Farrah and is the one Ava and I have repeatedly noted in reviews about how the writer might find the gloves off is someone died. That someone was Farrah and I'm not in the mood for nonsense this morning. Take an actor to task for their own performance. If you have a problem with the plot itself, that's something to take up with the writer -- especially when it's from a book.

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