Monday, October 26, 2009

Death toll rises to 155

Yesterday's Baghdad bombings already had a huge death toll; however, Jack Kimball and Michael Christie (Reuters) report that the death toll has climbed and is currently at 155 with over five hundred left injured. Ned Parker and Caesar Ahmed (Los Angeles Times) sketch out yesterday's assault:

Cars clogged the road as they approached the traffic circle in front of the Justice Ministry, with its statue of modern Iraq's first ruler, King Faisal, mounted on a horse. An old white pickup truck had broken down by the traffic circle and its driver approached a policeman and started yelling. Rubaie watched the argument, a bit annoyed.
It was then that the first of two car bombs exploded on opposite ends of the block. The blasts left 147 dead and added a bloody new chapter to the unremitting violence that has left Iraqis so deeply tired and angry and so often disenchanted with their government.

As noted yesterday, US-installed 'leader' Nouri al-Maliki was screaming and finger-pointing yesterday. Timothy Williams (New York Times) explains, "In large part, Mr. Maliki's popularity has rested on the belief that he has kept the country reasonably safe. But the bombings at four high-profile, well-protected government buildings within a two-month span led some Iraqis to say Sunday that they were reconsidering their support for Mr. Maliki." It should be noted that "Mr. Maliki's popularity" -- like Ashlee Simpson's talent -- is something that's been assumed but never verified. Jane Arraf (Christian Science Monitor) offers an ear to what people are saying on the streets of Baghdad:

"This is all from the political parties -- they want to gain seats in the election," said Abbas Fadhil, a street vendor who arrived on the scene moments after the explosion. "Look -- there are lots of empty seats now," he said, pointing to the collapsed ceilings and overturned chairs of the Justice Ministry where he stood.
Near the office of the Baghdad provincial governorate, Salar Saman Mohammad waded into the flooded street to try to determine whether a blackened wreck of a car with shattered windows belonged to his brother, lying wounded in hospital. A 14-year-old worker in the car with his brother at the time was also seriously wounded in the blast.
"Everybody knows it's the political parties behind this trying to gain power," he said. Mr. Mohammad, a plumber, said the brand new car had been stripped of its head lights and license plates after the explosion. "They are animals here -- they don't know if the owner is dead and they are stealing," he said.
"There had to be someone with official backing behind this -- how could they get through the checkpoints?" said Um Ali, standing at the edge of an impassible street. "Why are our children, our sisters still being killed? For 20 years we've been fighting," she said.
Her neighbor Intisar, standing next to her, was left with five children when her husband was shot dead in Latifiyah north of Baghdad for working with US contractors.

Gina Chon (Wall St. Journal) puts the bombings into the larger instability landscape that is Iraq: "The timing of the Sunday bombings coincided with plans by Iraq's top political body, the Political Council for National Security, comprising top political leaders and cabinet ministers, to consider ways to end a stalemate over a crucial election law needed to begin work ahead of the vote. The legislation has stalled over disagreements between factions over how the vote will be conducted in Kirkuk, an oil-rich region in the north torn by sectarian and ethnic tensions among the area's Kurds, Arabs and Turkomen." And as the instability thrives, Nouri depends upon US forces to prop him up. Mohammed al Dulaimy and Hannah Allam (McClatchy Newspapers) explain, "U.S. Marines arrived at the scene of Sunday's attack with Iraqi forces, in accordance with a U.S.-Iraq security pact that requires American forces to coordinate with their Iraqi counterparts before getting involved in combat or other operations. Americans at the scene asked Iraqi security guards for surveillance videos from buildings in the area, and investigators took soil samples and carted off pieces of twisted metal." Democracy Now! covers the bombings on the first segment of today's show (first segment following headlines).


In order to convert the sleepy, Indian Ocean island of Diego Garcia into a dominating military base, the U.S. forcibly transported its 2,000 Chagossian inhabitants into exile and gassed their dogs.
By banning journalists from the area, the U.S. Navy was able to perpetrate this with virtually no press coverage, says David Vine, an assistant professor of anthropology at American University and author of "Island of Shame: the Secret History of the U.S. Military on Diego Garcia (Princeton University Press)."
"The Chagossians were put on a boat and taken to Mauritius and the Seychelles, 1,200 miles away, where they were left on the docks, with no money and no housing, to fend for themselves," Vine said on the interview show "“Books Of Our Time," sponsored by the Massachusetts School of Law at Andover.
"They were promised jobs that never materialized. They had been living on an island with schools, hospitals, and full employment, sort of like a French coastal village, and they were consigned to a life of abject poverty in exile, unemployment, health problems, and were the poorest of the poor," Vine told interview host Lawrence Velvel, dean of the law school.
Their pet dogs were rounded up and gassed, and their bodies burned, before the very eyes of their traumatized owners, Vine said.
"They were moved because they were few in number and not white," Vine added. The U.S. government circulated the fiction the Chagossians were transient contract workers that had taken up residence only recently but, in fact, they had been living on Diego Garcia since about the time of the American Revolution. Merchants had imported them to work on the coconut and copra plantations. Vine said the U.S. government induced The Washington Post not to break a story spelling out events on the island.
"Through Diego Garcia," Vine pointed out, "the U.S. can project its power throughout the Middle East, and from East Africa to India, Australia and Indonesia. With Guam, the island is the most important American base outside the U.S." He said U.S. bases now number around 1,000, including 287 in Germany, 130 in Japan and Okinawa, and 57 in Italy.

Bonnie notes Isaiah's The World Today Just Nuts "'Feminist' Naomi Wolf speaks" went up last night. The e-mail address for this site is

mohammed al dulaimy
the los angeles times
ned parker
caesar ahmed
the wall street journal
gina chon