Tuesday, July 01, 2008

NYT renews interest in Iraq

Five assassination attempts take place yesterday in Baghdad (all on judges) and the New York Times re-embraces Iraq. Today's paper features four articles. But before you think that somehow means something hard hitting or even route focusing on the five assassination attempts, think again. Sabrina Tavernise and Andrew E. Kramer's "Iraq to Open Oil Fields for 35 Foreign Companies; Initial No-Bid Contracts Delayed" appears to exist solely to proclaim: It really is all about oil!

After 19 paragraphs on the oil 'story' (as noted in yesterday's snapshot, the no-bid contracts that were supposed to be signed yesterday are now on hold but Iraq is stating that six fields will be opened) Tavernise and Kramer include this:

A spate of violence against judges escalated sharply on Monday. Bombs exploded in front of the houses of four judges from the Court of Appeals in largely Shiite eastern Baghdad, a spokesman for the court said.
A fifth judge discovered a bomb in his car as he was leaving the same court Monday afternoon. An Interior Ministry spokesman said the bomb exploded and the judge, Hassan Fuad, was wounded in the blast.
The attacks seemed to be calculated to intimidate rather than to kill. It was not clear who was responsible.
"This is an attack to destroy the state itself," said Wail Abdul Latif, a member of Parliament who worked as a judge for decades. "These judges were far from sectarianism and politics."

And that's that. 19 paragraphs on 'nothing has happened with the oil, but we are watching closely,' four paragraphs on five assassination attempts and then a final paragraph noting some other violence from yesterday. If five judges were targeted in the US, do you honestly think it would not be news?

James Glanz' "After Deaths, U.S. Inspects Electric Work Done in Iraq" runs on A10 along with Tavernise and Kramer's article. It can be summed up as: at least 13 Americans have died in Iraq from shoddy work done by contractor KBR which knew of the problem but did not fix it.

Which brings us to Michael Kamber's nonsense that starts on the front page "Wounded Iraqi Forces Say They've Been Abandoned." Before you grab the tissues, who are these 'forces'? Sometimes Kamber's writing about Iraqi police officers. Sometimes he's writing about Iraqi soldiers. Sometimes he's writing about militias -- thugs. It should be noted he's never writing about Iraqi civilians -- you know, the people trapped in the illegal war. Turns out Nouri al-Maliki -- who sits on millions -- won't apparently offer decent benefits to his hired thugs after they're wounded. Boo hoo. Then you get a story of a police officer and that should really bother you because the New York Times never takes a victim's word for it. But there's a police officer saying he was injured (verifiable) and that, while in the hospital, he was fired (maybe verifiable) with the excuse that he'd been in a fight when he was 16-years-old and therefore shouldn't have passed the background check. That last part is not verified and it would be nice if the paper would grant that same approach (believe everything) to all victims. But they don't. It's curious that they would here. The article's a mess. Its focus morphs throughout.

At one point it's dropping back to 2004, but the bulk of it is during al-Maliki's tenure (since April 2006). That's al-Maliki's problem. It's the same problem that has so many Iraqi civilians struggling, it's the same problem that has the Iraqi military under-armed. He's stockpiling, sitting on huge sums of monies (millions) and he needs to address the issue. (The thugs of the "Awakening" Council are paid with US tax dollars so the White House would be over some sort of worker injury program.) The article's offensive from the start with the approach that we hear about the American wounded and dead -- we do? -- but what about the Iraqis! You read on and you're not hearing about the Iraqis. You're hearing about Iraqis who've decided to take part in the illegal war. And considering the very real silence on US deaths and injuries (in Iraq) from the New York Times, this is just offensive: "In the United States, the issue of war injuries has revolved almost entirely around the care received by the 30,000 wounded American veterans." Oh, is the Times confusing itself with the Washington Post? The Times doesn't believe it broke the Walter Reed Medical Center scandal, do they? They haven't wrongly been sending checks to Dana Priest and Anne Hull, have they? The New York Times has done damn little to cover the dead or the wounded in the five years and counting of this illegal war.

The strongest article runs on the front page . . . of the Times' arts section ("The Arts"), Hugh Eakin's "Iraqi Files In U.S.: Plunder or Rescue?" which examines Iraqi documents from Saddam Hussein's rule that are considered historic, important for humanitarian and historical purposes and, yet, in the United States. In the United States and under the control of the right-wing Hoover Institution. An Iraqi exile (Kanan Makiya) 'claimed' themwhen he returned to Iraq after the start of the illegal war. He set up the Iraq Memory Foundation. The files, which were never Kanan Makiya's to claim, were being held in the Green Zone until Makiya decided to take them out in 2006. Whether he had permission is unclear but what is clear is that the Iraqi government wants those documents back and most outside 'experts' believe the papers should be housed in the Iraq National Library and Arachive.

On the oil, Lloyd notes Sudarsan Raghavan and Steven Mufson's "Iraq Opens Oil Fields To Global Bidding" (Washington Post):

Iraqi Oil Minister Hussain al-Shahristani said the government would seek to tap Western technology and capital to increase Iraqi oil production by about 60 percent, or approximately 1.5 million barrels a day, swelling Iraqi oil revenue and potentially easing tight petroleum markets where prices have doubled in the past year.
Shahristani said 35 companies -- including firms from the United States, Britain, France, Russia, China and India -- had been selected to bid on long-term contracts to provide services, equipment, training and advice on the country's biggest oil fields, which have suffered from age, technological neglect and mismanagement during years of war and economic sanctions.

Domingo notes this video from the Ralph Nader presidential campaign:

The video is among the videos at the campaign's video page. It is also from the documentary An Unreasonable Man (I'm not sure if it's bonus footage or actually part of the documentary) directed by Henriette Mantel and Steve Skrovan.

The e-mail address for this site is common_ills@yahoo.com.