Tuesday, November 25, 2008

The Times and that ever changing byline

The New York Times owns both the paper of the same name and the International Herald Tribune (after having lied, cheated and schemed to ditch the Washington Post from co-ownership of the latter). What's the real difference between the two outlets? It appears to boil down to a word here and a word there. For example, the New York Times reporting on yesterday's bombings:

The driver of the minibus, who survived the blast, was the father of two boys who were among 30 children killed while taking candy from an American convoy in an infamous 2005 car bombing in New Baghdad, said Hadi J. Abdullah, the general director of the State Shopping Centers Company.

And the International Herald Tribune reporting on yesterday's bombings:

Meanwhile, the general director of the State Shopping Centers Company, Hadi Abdullah, noted that the driver of the minibus, who survived the blast, was the father of two boys who were among 30 children killed while taking candy from an American convoy in an infamous 2005 car bombing in New Baghdad.

If the bylines were the same on both articles (ignore end credits, this isn't a film), it wouldn't be a big deal. But the Times today runs yesterday's International Herald Tribune story with only a minor tweak here and there ("Later Monday morning" in IHT becomes "Later on Monday morning" in NYT) and all it does is question who the reporters were for the story? IHT credits Alissa J. Rubin and Katherine Zoepf while this morning's New York Times credits Abeer Mohammed and Mudhafer al-Husaini. The two articles are identical with a tiny number of chagnes (less than seven) that are no more than one word changes such as the addition of "on" in the example offered in this paragraph. (And both are also highly similar to Rubin and Alan Cowell's report online for the Times yesterday. The only real difference between the online report and the other two is in some of the opening paragraphs.)

From the article(s), we'll note this on the female suicide bomber who attacked outside the Green Zone:

"In the last three months we’re really seeing an increase, mostly in Baghdad and Diyala," Dr. Samarrai said. She added that early media reports of the Monday blast suggesting that the bomber was mentally handicapped were "a big lie."
"There is no evidence for this," Dr. Samarrai continued. "These women are not crazy or mentally ill; they are hopeless. They hate life. They are women who have lost everything."

There were three bombings in Baghdad. The one that resulted in the most deaths was the bombing of the mini-bus. Sudarsan Raghavan and Qais Mizher's "3 Deadly Blasts Hit Iraq Ahead of Security Pact Vote" (Washington Post) explains:

The attacks illustrated the vulnerability of Iraq's security apparatus and the lingering defiance of an insurgency whose influence has declined in recent months.
In the deadliest attack, a magnetic bomb demolished a bus used by employees of the Ministry of Trade, killing 14 people and wounding seven, police said. Eight women were among the dead. The bomb, police said, was attached to the fuel tank of the bus, which erupted in flames.
Fuad Falih, a policeman guarding a checkpoint about 90 feet from the site of the explosion, said one of the victims was a pregnant woman. Hospital officials said many of the victims were incinerated in the bus.

The third Baghdad bombing is addressed briefly in Adam Ashton and Hussein Kadhim's "3 bombs kill at least 16 Iraqis in attacks in Baghdad" (McClatchy Newspapers):

A third bombing targeted a police patrol in Baghdad's Karrada neighborhood about 11 a.m. near the Technology University. It killed one person and wounded five, including three police officers. Later in the day, a mortar round struck Baghdad's southern outskirts, wounding six people, police said.
The U.S. military has tracked a major decrease in attacks in Baghdad over the past year -- about 85 percent since October 2007 -- and it thinks that Iraqis are turning against the sectarian violence that rocked the country in 2006 and 2007.

Michael Heath (Bloomberg News) also notes that bombing: "Also yesterday in eastern Baghdad, a roadside bomb targeting a police patrol killed a civilian and wounded five people, including three policemen, AFP reported."

The United Nations issued the following statement on the bombings:

The Special Representative of the United Nations Secretary-General for Iraq (SRSG), Staffan de Mistura strongly condemned the series of bombings in Baghdad today, killing and injuring numbers of innocent civilians heading to work.
The SRSG notes with great concern the recent spike in violence in the country's capital and urges all parties to deny those behind such repugnant attacks the opportunity to undermine efforts to increase the country's fragile stability.
"There are no moral or political excuses that could possibly justify the deliberate targetting of innocent citizens whose only crime was to try to get to their place of work", the SRSG said, extending the United Nations' sincere condolences to the bereaved families and its wishes for the full and speedy recovery for the wounded.

There is some doubt as to whether a vote will be called in Parliament Wednesday on the treaty masquerading as a Status Of Forces Agreement. The NYT/IHT article notes that and a new development is reported by Iran's Press TV:

The main Sunni-Arab bloc in the Iraqi Parliament threatens to boycott a parliament session to vote on the Iraq-US security agreement.
"The IAF would not enter the parliament if there was no popular referendum over the agreement or assurances from the US side," Abdelkareem al-Samarraie, a leading lawmaker from the Iraqi Accord Front (IAF), told the Voices of Iraq on Tuesday.

And we'll continue to note this from the American Freedom Campaign:

Does this sound right to you? Next week, the Iraqi Parliament is expected to vote on whether to approve an agreement setting the terms of the ongoing military relationship between the United States and Iraq. So far, so good. A legislative body, representing the people of a nation, shall determine the extent to which that nation's future will be intertwined with that of another. Of course, one would expect that the United States Congress would be given the same opportunity. That, however, is not the case. Or at least it is not what the Bush administration is allowing to happen. Shockingly, the Bush administration is not even letting Congress read the full agreement before it is signed!
We need you to send a message immediately to U.S. House and Senate leaders, urging them to demand the constitutional input and approval to which they are entitled.
The administration has asserted that the agreement between the U.S. and Iraq is merely a Status of Forces Agreement (SOFA) and therefore does not require congressional approval. Yet the agreement goes far beyond the traditional limits of a SOFA, which typically set the terms for bringing materials and equipment into a nation and outline the legal procedures that will apply to members of the military who are accused of crimes. Believe it or not, the current agreement contains terms that will actually give Iraq a measure of control over U.S. forces. No foreign nation or international entity has ever been given the authority to direct U.S. forces without prior congressional approval - either through a majority vote of both chambers or a two-thirds vote in the Senate in the case of treaties.
If this agreement goes into effect without congressional approval, it will establish a precedent under which future presidents can exercise broad unilateral control over the U.S. military -- and even give foreign nations control over our troops. Congress must take immediate action. Unfortunately, they are about to adjourn for at least a couple of weeks. But it is not too late for House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid to make a statement, signaling their strong belief that Congress will not be bound by and need not fund an agreement that has not been approved by Congress.
Please send an E-mail encouraging such action to Speaker Pelosi and Majority Leader Reid immediately by clicking [here]
This is truly a dire situation and we hope that you will join us in calling for action. Thank you. Steve Fox

Campaign Director
American Freedom Campaign
Action Fund

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

adam ashton
mcclatchy newspapers