Thursday, August 06, 2009

LAT examines Iraq's elderly

They are old men and women who have lived through the monarchy, Saddam Hussein, the U.S.-led invasion and religion-fueled civil warfare.
Now, they putter about in a house on the Tigris River, passing the time on cots with pink sheets, in whitewashed rooms, with the faint smell of sweat mixing with the odor of sewage from the waters outside their windows.

The above is from Ned Parker and Caesar Ahmed's "Grim times for the elderly in Iraq" (Los Angeles Times). And good for them for covering this. There are how many stories being told from Iraq? At most outlets that number would be: Zero.

Despite claims of 'calm and calmer' Iraq, where are the stories? If things are that way now, where are the stories? Presumably they'd all come rushing out. But it's only the people like Parker and Ahmed who tell these stories, reporters who have always told these stories regardless of the level of violence.

In any war zone, the most vulnerable generally fall into three categories: women, children and the elderly. Grasp how very little has ever been reported on those groups from Iraq. Grasp that the seven year mark of the start of the illegal war is next March and where were those stories?

In this article, Parker and Ahmed make a point of letting the elderly Iraqis speak for themselves.

Meanwhile, the Bremer walls are coming down around Baghdad -- at least some of them. Maybe. The ethnic cleansing that took place to purge Baghdad ended some time ago. Baghdad's still targeted with bombs, don't pretend it isn't. But the walls were primarily about -- as so many rightly feared -- corralling and herding the 'undesirables,' the ones targeted.

Ernesto Londono (Washington Post) kind of notes the walls, but really focuses on the more impostant issues such as: "Iraqi authorities have threatened to seize U.S. vehicles that do not have Iraqi license plates, sending hundreds of American government employees and contractors scrambling to Baghdad's equivalent of the DMV." Sam Dagher (New York Times) notes the claims that "most" of the walls will be removed in 40 days. That claim has been made before, by the way. No one seems aware of that. Dagher notes that the plans do "not cover many of the giant walls put up by the United States military two years ago around Baghdad neighborhoods like Dora, Huriya and Saidiya that experienced the worst of the sectarian bloodshed."

He doesn't note the deaths, does he? They didn't note them yesterday either. Two deaths. One from July that the military sat on, one made Tuesday. Two US service members. Dead and, apparently, forgotten and ignored by the paper.

Don't be too hard on them, they've got a war to resell.

Adam Ashton (McClatchy Newspapers) reports
on Iraq's Assyrian Christian community:

One of Iraq's most ancient national groups, the Assyrian Christians, who're Eastern Orthodox Christians, have largely quit their ancestral home in Arab Iraq and fled to the Kurdish region, where tens of thousands now live, or abroad. The pressure on the Assyrians continues: Five churches were bombed in Baghdad in early July and killings continue in Mosul. In Ainkawa, a city of 40,000 on the outskirts of the main city of Irbil, there's sanctuary, castle-like churches, which dominate entire city blocks, and liquor, a trade that Christians dominated in Baghdad, is for sale openly.

Reuters notes a Mosul bombing claimed 2 lives and left a third person injured, 1 woman shot dead in a Mosul drive-by, 1 man shot dead in a Mosul home invasion and dropping back to yesterday two Baghdad roadside bombings injured three person, a Telkeif bombing claimed 1 life and left two people injured.

Wally's post is entitled "THIS JUST IN! WAIT TILL MEDIA MATTERS FINDS OUT!" and I'll try to figure out how to crosspost. E-mails are noting that they can't see Blogger/Blogspot. It's a Google issue. If you're reading this at Blogger/Blogspot, the issue's been resolved. I'll use "Preview" on these entries to cross post them at the mirror site.

We'll close with Sherwood Ross' "Hiroshima:"

© by Sherwood Ross

I am the Reverend Kiyoshi Tanimoto

A graduate of Emory College, Atlanta,

Pastor of the Methodist Church of Hiroshima

I was in a western suburb when the bomb struck

Like a sheet of sunlight.

Fearing for my wife and family

I ran back into the city

Where I saw hundreds and hundreds fleeing

Every one of them hurt in some way.

The eyebrows of some were burned off

Skin hung from their faces and hands

Some were vomiting as they walked

On some naked bodies the burns had made patterns

Of the shapes of flowers transferred

From their kimonos to human skin.

Almost all had their heads bowed

Looked straight ahead, were silent

And showed no expression whatever.

Under many houses I heard trapped people screaming

Crying for help but there were none to help

And the fire was coming.

I came to a young woman holding her dead baby

Who pleaded with me to find her husband

So he could see the baby one last time.

There was nothing I could do but humor her.

By accident I ran into my own wife

Both she and our child were alive and well.

For days I carried water and food to the wounded and the dying.

I apologized to them: “Forgive me,” I said, “for not sharing your burden.”

I am the Reverend Kiyoshi Tanimoto

Pastor of the Methodist Church of Hiroshima

I was in a western suburb when the bomb struck

Like a sheet of sunlight.

(The above poem is based on the content of the book “Hiroshima” by John Hersey. Sherwood Ross is a Miami-based reporter and publicist. Reach him at

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