Map of life expectancy at birth from Global Education Project.

Monday, June 12, 2006

Your pathetic media

Even The Mighty Conqueror himself sought to manage expectations about the likely results of the still rather odd and mysterious death of Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, who may or may not have been an important terrorist leader; may or may not have had one leg; could have been captured or killed before the war when he was holed up in Kurdistan, out of Sadaam's reach but within the "no flight zone" heavily patrolled by the UK and US, but wasn't because he was useful as an excuse for the war; who was a convenient scapegoat for much of the violence in Iraq but who we are now assured had not a lot to do with it.

Nevertheless, the corporate media suddenly started saying that a balmy calm has descended over Iraq. For example, today's Iraq round up story in the Chicago Tribune, which also did duty as the Boston Globe's daily dispatch, talked about Zarqawi and renewed threats from al Qaeda in Iraq, but said of the yesterday's violence only: "In the worst violence yesterday, five civilians died in a gun battle between British troops in the southern city of Basra and militiamen loyal to the radical Shi'ite cleric Moqtada al-Sadr." The previous day's Washington Post story, which the Globe reprinted, simply said that there had been less violence in the country on Saturday than usual.

Not true. Yesterday, as of about noon Eastern Time, (cutting and pasting from my Today in Iraq post), we knew the following:

Bring 'em On: Insurgents fire rockets at British base near Amara, British soldier wounded when sortie to locate the source comes under fire. Hospital says one civilian killed in incident. However, the AP version of this story is different. AP says Iraqi police say insurgents set fire to a vegetable market to lure British troops, 5 civilians killed.

Other Security Incidents

Roadside bomb hits police patrol in northern Baghdad, kills one officer, wounds three.

* Also, gunmen fire on civilian car, killing one
* Police in West Baghdad find body of a security guard for the Health Ministry, tortured and shot in the head.

Reuters has these additional incidents:

* Police found the beheaded body of an Iraqi soldier thrown in a river near Tikrit 175 km (110 miles) north of Baghdad, police said.
* Gunmen wounded two civilians when they opened fire on their car in central Tikrit, police said.
* A joint Iraqi police and U.S. forces patrol raided a house in central Kirkuk, 250 km (155 miles) north of Baghdad, on Wednesday evening and arrested seven suspected insurgents, police Brigadier Sarhat Qadir said on Sunday.
* A roadside bomb seriously wounded a senior police officer, Major General Ali Hussain, in northern Baghdad, police said. A policeman who was driving Hussain's car was killed and another was wounded in the attack. It's possible this is the same incident reported by AP, but the number of wounded differs.
* Gunmen killed a man and a woman in a car in Falluja, 50 km (32 miles) west of Baghdad, police and hospital sources said.
* Gunmen shot dead a security employee of the Kurdish PUK party and another person in central Kirkuk on Saturday, police said on Sunday.
* Gunmen shot dead a civilian and wounded another in a car in central Kirkuk on Saturday evening, police said.
* A roadside bomb targeting a police patrol exploded near the southern Baghdad district of Dora, wounding five civilians, police said.

Kuna has additional incidents:

Two Iraqi civilians were killed in Kirkuk, northern Iraq, on Sunday when unknown militants opened fire on them, and several were wounded in different incidents around the city. Kirkuk police sources told KUNA that three unidentified militants in three cars opened fire in the area of Urouba near a central Kirkuk school, killing the two men.
* The source also said that an Iraqi civilian was wounded in the hand when an unknown gunman shot him in Taza, southern Kirkuk, upon which he was taken to hospital for treatment.
* Furthermore, the source said an explosive device planted in a car had went off on the Kirkuk-Tikrit road, wounding the driver and totally destroying the vehicle.
* Also, a civilian was wounded when a mortar shell fell over a new gas station.
* There were a number of explosions, two of which targeted multi-national force patrol vehicles and another targeting a police vehicle, but no damages were reported.
* Meanwhile, a security source at the joint coordination center said eight civilians were seriously wounded in an attack on a cafe in the city of Khalas, northern Baqouba. The source said the attack took place late last night, adding that the militants were able to escape and that a number of shops in the area were damaged.

In a separate dispatch, KUNA says two PUK members shot dead in Kirkuk. Also:

* Iraqi police said Iraqi forces and Multi National Forces in Iraq were able to arrest seven members of the "Al-Mujahideen Shura Council" believed to have fled Baaqouba following the killing of Abu Musa'ab Al-Zarqawi.
* The Iraqi police in Mosul said five civilians were shot dead by unknown gunmen in Mosul northern Iraq and a headless body was found in the same town.
* An Iraqi police source told KUNA unknown gunmen riding in two civilian vehicles opened fire at six butchers, killing five of them and severely wounding the sixth.

Turkish press says a Turkish truck driver was killed near Mosul on Thursday.

And Saturday was just as bad. Now, this afternoon, DoD suddenly decides to announce the deaths of the following U.S. military personnel (thanks to Iraq Coalition Caualty Count):

06/12/06 DoD Identifies Navy Casualty
Seaman Apprentice Zachary M. Alday, 22, of Donalsonville, Ga., died June 9 from injuries sustained earlier in the day when the vehicle in which he was riding struck a land mine...conducting combat operations against enemy forces in the Al Anbar...

06/12/06 DoD Identifies Marine Casualties
Lance Cpl. Salvador Guerrero, 21, of Los Angeles, Calif., died June 9, of wounds received while conducting combat operations in Al Anbar province, Iraq. He was assigned to 1st Battalion, 7th Marine Regiment, 1st Marine Division...

06/12/06 DoD Identifies Army Casualty
Pvt. Benjamin J. Slaven, 22, of Plymouth, Neb., died on June 9, in Ad Diwaniyah, Iraq of injuries sustained when an improvised explosive device detonated near his HMMWV during combat operations. Slaven was assigned to the Army Reserve...

06/12/06 columbustelegram: Clarks Marine killed in Iraq
Brent Zoucha...19-year-old soldier...was killed last week in Iraq when the Humvee he was riding in exploded after hitting a land mine. His mother, Rita Zoucha, learned of her son's death on Friday. Brent's brother, Dyrek...was not hurt in the explosion

06/12/06 DoD Identifies Army Casualty
Sgt. 1st Class Clarence D. McSwain, 31, of Meridian, Miss., died in Baghdad, Iraq on June 8, of injuries sustained when an improvised explosive device detonated near his convoy vehicle during combat operations...

06/12/06 DoD Identifies Army Casualty
2nd Lt. John S. Vaughan, 23, of Edwards, Colo., died in Mosul, Iraq, on June 7, when he encountered enemy small arms fire during dismounted combat operations. Vaughan was assigned to the 2nd Battalion, 1st Infantry Regiment...

06/12/06 AP: Beatrice soldier dies in Iraq
Twenty-two-year-old Ben Slaven was a member of the U-S Army Reserves. He is the son of Bruce and Julie Slaven. Bruce is a Gage County sheriff's deputy and Julie works in the sheriff's office. Neither were available for comment this morning.

Looks like they were saving them up so as not to take the media spotlight off of their great triumph. It worked, too. Not that the corporate media bothers to report most deaths of U.S. troops anymore anyway. However, the confirmed count of dead now stands at 2,497, and since they have taken to a three or four day lag in announcing U.S. troop deaths, we can presume it has in fact clicked over to more than 2,500. Perhaps that artificial milestone will rate a passing notice.

The basic issue here is that your local fishwrapper or evening news may mention one or two or even five or six violent incidents that occurred in Iraq. They may even run the AP story, which will typically list a half dozen. You will then have the impression that you have been given a complete picture of what happened in Iraq on that day. But in fact, it will be 1/4 or less of the incidents that have been reported, at best. If U.S. troops were injured or killed that day, they probably won't mention it at all, unless one of them happened to come from the local area.

The bottom line? If there is indeed good news from Iraq that they aren't reporting, that's certainly inappropriate. But I've looked high and low, far and wide, and I can't find any. What I do find is that they aren't reporting the vast majority of the bad news from Iraq.

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