Saturday, June 27, 2009

Motorcycles banned in Baghdad

A bomb placed in a motorbike exploded at an outdoor market in Baghdad on Friday, killing about a dozen people and wounding scores. It marked the third straight day of violence in the capital before the Tuesday deadline for American comabt troops to withdraw from Iraqi cities.

So opens Sam Dagher and Alissa J. Rubin's "Stoking Fears, Bombs in Baghdad's 3rd Straight Day of Violence Kill About a Dozen" inside today's New York Times. Wednesday's Baghdad bombing which claimed 78 lives was also a motorcyle bombing and Dagher and Rubin tell you the bombing Saturday took place at "a market for new and secondhand motorbikes". Sahar Issa (McClatchy Newspapers) reported yesterday on a Friday Baghdad bombing which left at least 1 person dead and three more wounded. That bombing was also a motorcyle bombing. As a result of the increase in motorcycle bombings, Dagher and Rubin report that Nouri's banned motorcylces in Baghdad "indefinitely."

Ned Parker (Los Angeles Times) reports that the death toll in Friday's Baghdad bombing at the motorcycle market has risen to 22 and quotes survivor Ali Khudair Abbas stating from the hospital, "I saw some bodies and parts of motorcycles flying in the air at the moment of the explosion. [. . . ] I wonder why such a place is targeted! We are not army or police. We are not Americans. All of those coming to the market were poor . . . people hoping to get some money and return to their families." Laith Hammoudi and Sahar Issa (McClatchy Newspapers) quote eye witness Ibraheem Nomas, "When I reached the place of the explosion, I saw six dead men. Their bodies were completely burnt by the explosion. I saw a young man crying out for help for his young brother, who was still burning. I helped in saving four young men. Ambulances arrived quickly and saved many people, but many were already dead. Whoever did this is not human."

While I believe that reports of Barack's intelligence have been greatly inflated, I can't distort reality to make that point and have any self respect. The New York Daily News apparently has no self-respect to lose, hence a headline "Obama warns of increased violence in Iraq as U.S. troops pull out of cities." Richard Sisk follows the headline by opening with the claim, "President Obama Friday warned of rising violence as U.S. troops pull out of Iraqi cities and urged Baghdad to do more to end strife with ethnic and religious factions." No, he didn't claim that violence may rise. He made no such claim and that's why Sisk can't quote anywhere in the article making that claim. Barack would be an idiot if he claimed yesterday that violence might rise in Iraq. He'd be an idiot because violence has been rising in Iraq and that's been obvious throughout the last seven days for even casual observers (closer ones noted it some time ago). Again, I'd love it if Barack said it, I'd be making fun of him here for saying it. But he said no such thing.

In addition, Richard Sisk (New York Daily News) creates a quote for Barack. From yesterday's snapshot, here's Barack's statement in full (responding to a question from NPR's Don Gonyea):

On Iraq, obviously any time there's a bombing in Iraq we are concerned. Any time there's loss of innocent life or the loss of military personnel, we grieve for their families and it makes us pay attention. I will tell you if you look at the overall trend, despite some of these high-profile bombings, Iraq's security situation has continued to dramatically improve. And when I speak to General [Ray] Odierno and Chris Hill, our ambassador in Iraq, they continue to be overall very positive about the trend lines in Iraq. I think there's still some work to do. I think the Maliki government is not only going to have to continue to strengthen its security forces, but it's also going to have to engage in the kind of political give and take leading up the national elections that we've been talking about for quite some time. And I haven't seen as much political progress in Iraq, negotiations between the Sunni, the Shia, and the Kurds, as I would like to see.
So there are always going to be -- let me not say "always" -- there will continue to be incidents of violence inside of Iraq for some time. They are at a much, much lower level than they were in the past. I think the biggest challenge right now is going to be less those attacks by remnants of al Qaeda in Iraq or other insurgent groups, and the bigger challenge is going to be, can the Shia, the Sunni, and the Kurds resolve some of these major political issues having to do with federalism, having to do with boundaries, having to do with how oil revenues are shared. If those issues get resolved, then I think you will see a further normalization of the security atmosphere inside of Iraq.

Someone needs to the New York Daily News that when you grab a statement in mid-sentence, you don't capitalize the first letter of the first word. You note it as, ". . . . [begin statement and with lower letter for first letter in first word quoted]."

Barack says, "So there are always going to be -- let me not say "always" -- there will continue to be incidents of violence inside of Iraq for some time. They are at a much, much lower level than they were in the past." That's what you print. You don't print this:

"There will continue to be incidents of violence inside of Iraq for some time," Obama said, but "they are at a much, much lower level than they were in the past."

Is English grammar too damn difficult for the New York Daily News? You are not allowed to take half a sentence and present it as a full sentence. It is not fair to the speaker and it breaks the rules of English grammar. If a blog did that, we wouldn't say a word. When news outlets can't get it straight, it deserves to be called out. Three times in the New York Times this week they have had two verbs side by side. Such as, "The person declared stated . . ." And we didn't call it out. (Although NYT reporters have e-mailed Third to point out when Ava and I have done that in our TV pieces.) The reason being that it was clear they tossed out two words intending to come back and choose one. That's really something an editor should catch. It's a mistake. And it happened three times. And I could've gone to town on it but there was no point. However, when you doctor a quote, it is worth calling out. You cannot take half a sentence and present as a full one in a quote. That's dishonest, lying and a violating of grammar rules and journalism guidelines. One's a mistake, the other's a dishonest violation of rules, guidelines and, yes, ethics.

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