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calendar   Saturday - November 05, 2005

Road Rage In Baghdad?

No, we’re not talking about suicide car-bombers. We’re talking about ordinary traffic jams and angry drivers caught in traffic. In Baghdad, no less. Why? Here’s the scoop from the NY Times ...

With the virtual collapse of the state, rules have fallen away and the city seems almost to have caved in on itself in an egocentric free-for-all. Drivers shove past one another under broken traffic lights. Policemen gesture frantically to try to control them.

But for all the frustration they cause, the seas of idling cars are also a sign of progress. Salaries have jumped from a few dollars a month under Saddam Hussein to a few hundred now, turning Iraqis into consumers overnight, buying up air-conditioners, jewelry and, of course, cars. Since the fall of Mr. Hussein, the number of registered cars in Baghdad has doubled to 3.1 million, according to Maj. Gen. Jaffar Tomah Katham, head of the traffic police here. Traffic, as a result, has slowed to a crawl. “It is not the autobahn,” General Katham said, sitting behind a large desk in his office trimmed with heavy gold curtains in central Baghdad.

So the Iraqis are now having to deal with more wealth, more cars and the early morning rush hour. Big deal. Americans have had to deal with it for nearly a century. What I want to know is why the NY Slimes feels the need to refer to Ol “Sodomy” Hussein as “Mr. Hussein” but refers to the President of the United States simply as “Bush”?

- Honk If You Want To Read The Rest


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Posted by The Skipper   United States  on 11/05/2005 at 10:55 AM   
Filed Under: • IraqMedia-Bias •  
Comments (7) Trackbacks(0)  Permalink •  

calendar   Thursday - October 20, 2005

NEWS FLASH!

SADDAM PLEADS INNOCENT
BAGHDAD (AL-JIZZ)

In a surprise statement issued to the Iraqi People’s Court today, Saddam Hussein denied any knowledge of the deaths of 300,000 Kurds and Shiites. The former “Benevolent Dictator” wept in his cage in the courtroom and declared that the murders had most likely been commited as part of a drug deal that went bad. Saddam vowed that if released he would pursue the real mass murderers to the “ends of the earth”.

President Hussein, who was re-elected with a mandate from 98% of the Iraqi population in 2000, was visibly shaken as descriptions of torture and genocide were read aloud. He stated for the record, “These were my people. How could anyone do this to them behind my back? I have vowed to hunt down these vicious drug dealers who commmitted this horrible crime.”

Hussein’s lawyer, Yahanni Al-Kaquan, issued a brief statement as the proud leader of Iraq was led away in chains, “It is a travesty of justice to charge this noble leader with these crimes simply because he was there when they were committed. I say to the jury that if the WMD don’t fit, you must acquit!”

Al-Kaquan then introduced a motion to the court to have the trial moved to Los Angeles, stating that it would be impossible for President Hussein to get a fair trial in Baghdad. Iraqi judge Al-Ans Yto denied the request and scheduled testimony to begin November 28 with prosecution witness Mahk Al-Fuhman, a Kurdish policeman, to take the stand first.

- Stay tuned to BMEWS for further developments in this breaking news story ...


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Posted by The Skipper   United States  on 10/20/2005 at 05:32 PM   
Filed Under: • IraqSatire •  
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The Arab “Street”

Here is an interesting cross-section of the trial of Saddam Hussein from the “Arab Street”. It looks like they each remember what they want to remember about ol’ Sod-Boy ... in spite of the facts ...

Arabs Still Divided Over Saddam’s Legacy
CAIRO, Egypt (AP)

To some, he is a wrongly accused Arab hero. To others, he is the embodiment of evil at last facing justice. As Saddam stood in the dock accused of murder and torture, one thing was clear: The former Iraqi leader can still rile emotions and cause division in this region forever changed by his 23 years of brutal rule.

Anyone in the Mideast within range of a television or a newspaper found the trial’s opening day hard to ignore Wednesday. The big satellite channels, Al-Jazeera and Al-Arabiya, broadcast the hearing from start to stop. The pan-Arab daily al-Hayat splashed it on its front page: “The trial of the 21st century.”

Those with a personal history were especially engrossed, particularly Iraqi exiles in neighboring Jordan and also Kuwaitis, who knew Saddam’s iron fist through his seven months of occupation before the first Gulf War. Their voices rang out in vengeance. “Saddam killed my uncle and my cousins. ... God willing, he will be executed,” said one, Mohamed Aziz, a 23-year-old Iraqi Shiite from Nasiriyah, now living in Jordan.

Another, Wadha al-Abduljader, a 48-year-old homemaker in Kuwait, said: “I hope before they execute him, they bring him to Kuwait, put him in a cage and drive him around so that we can hit him with shoes.” That is the ultimate Arab insult.

But opinions cut the other way, too. One former Iraqi soldier who went to Jordan two years ago looking for work, Mohammed Ali Kadhem, called the trial illegitimate and futile. “Saddam Hussein is not a criminal. He is a hero. I hope he will be acquitted and return to power,” he said. Khaled Abdul-Khader, a 40-year-old taxi driver in Amman, the Jordanian capital, also called Saddam a great hero. “He’s the only one who hit Israel. He’s the only one who said ‘No’ to America.”

In Israel, where Saddam fired 39 Scud missiles during the first Gulf War, the trial was viewed with obvious satisfaction and a look forward to what might happen to other Arab dictators. “I’m sure it will provide food for thought in Damascus. ... I’m sure (Syrian President Bashar) Assad is watching in trepidation,” said one Israeli, Yuval Steinitz, the chairman of the Israeli parliament’s foreign affairs and defense committee.

But elsewhere, Palestinians, whose uprising against Israel had Saddam’s full support, mourned the Iraqi leader as a fallen savior. “He supported the martyrs’ (suicide bombers’) families and he helped many students in Palestine,” said one, Wael Naser, a 42-year-old Gaza vegetable-shop owner. Another, 32-year-old Palestinian taxi driver Saed Souror, was more ambivalent about Saddam but still strongly against his trial.

“I am not a Saddam supporter,” Souror said. “But I am against this trial because it came upon American orders. If Saddam was a murderer, what can we call the American acts there?” For their part, Iranians remembered the death and destruction they suffered after Saddam invaded their country in 1980, setting in motion a war that bled both nations for eight years.

- Go Read The Rest ...


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Posted by The Skipper   United States  on 10/20/2005 at 11:46 AM   
Filed Under: • IraqRoPMA •  
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calendar   Wednesday - October 19, 2005

Justice In Baghdad

Memo to Amnesty International: Don’t worry your empty little heads. We’ll make sure he gets a fair trial. Then we’ll hang the son of a b**ch ....

imageimageRights Groups Concerned Over Saddam Trial
(TIME)

Amnesty International spent years campaigning on behalf of Saddam Hussein’s victims; now the international human rights group wants to make sure the former dictator gets a fair trial. Amnesty is sending three observers to Saddam’s trial, which starts Wednesday in Baghdad. Their mission? “To assess the trial’s fairness,” says Beth Ann Toupin, an Iraq specialist for the human rights group. “And to make clear we are committed to insuring that victims of human right abuses gain access to justice.”

The Iraqi Special Tribunal before which Saddam is to appear will, on Wednesday, begin hearing only one of what could be many cases brought against Saddam. It concerns the torture and murder of 143 people in the town of Dujail in 1982 after some local men attempted to assassinate Saddam. If the former dictator and his seven co-defendants are convicted, Iraqi law calls for them to be executed within 30 days of their last appeal.

Amnesty International, which objects to capital punishment in all cases, contends that a rush to judgment and early executions will cut short the investigations of a long list of atrocities, including the massacres of 3,000 Kurds 1983 and the disappearance of a further 182,000 during the 1988 Anfal campaign, as well as the massacre of tens of thousands of Shiites during a 1991 uprising in southern Iraq and the persecution of the Marsh Arabs throughout the 1990s.

On Monday, Iraqi prime minister Ibrahim Jaafari, a Shiite whose brother and other male relatives died at the regime’s hands, called for a quick trial and, according to the Associated Press, told reporters, “The Saddam trial is not a research project.”

Go Read The Rest Here ...

Update I: Now Iran wants a piece of Saddam for the Iran-Iraq war.

Update II: Saddam’s lawyer says court is “illegitimate”, requests three-month adjournment.

Update III: Outlawed Baath Party issues statement: “The dear leader Saddam Hussein ... will make a stand on the 19th of this month for justice, freedom and defiance, as a fighting leader, a jihadist resister, a patriotic Iraqi, an Arab nationalist, and a progressive humanist.”


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Posted by The Skipper   United States  on 10/19/2005 at 05:35 AM   
Filed Under: • CrimeIraq •  
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calendar   Monday - October 17, 2005

Iraqi Election Update

It looks like the people of Iraq will approve their new constitution in spite of Sunni resistance. The final votes wont be completely tallied until Tuesday, at the earliest, but early results show the constitutional referendum passed by a wide margin in every province except the heavily Sunni region around Fallujah. Of course Reuters is unhappy about it as evidenced by the new story below. They just can’t help but call America’s strategy in Iraq “beleagured” and of course the latest body count has to be thrown in. No, no bias here ...

Iraq Voters Seen Approving Constitution
BAGHDAD (Reuters)

Iraqi voters have probably approved a new U.S.-backed constitution, overcoming fierce Sunni Arab opposition in a vote Washington hopes will boost its beleaguered strategy in Iraq, results showed on Sunday. Early counts from Saturday’s referendum indicated the vote split as expected along largely communal lines, reflecting the bitter ethnic and religious tensions that have cost thousands of Iraqi lives since the U.S.-led invasion in 2003.

“This is a very positive day for the Iraqi people and as well for world peace,” U.S. President George W. Bush told reporters in Washington. “Democracies are peaceful countries.” Tight security kept the polls mostly trouble-free although five U.S. soldiers and a Marine were killed in the Sunni west, the military said, raising the U.S. death toll in Iraq to 1,971.

Also, residents said heavy fighting broke out in Ramadi, a rebellious Sunni Arab city west of Baghdad that strongly opposed the constitution. They said U.S. aircraft bombed some areas and a doctor said 25 people had been killed. The U.S. military had no immediate information on operations in the area.

Despite high turnout in some Sunni Arab areas, partial counts suggested the charter’s opponents did not muster enough “No” votes to veto it. According to the referendum rules, a two-thirds “No” vote in three of Iraq’s 18 provinces would block the constitution even if most Iraqis backed it.

“All indications we are getting ... are encouraging and positive for a ‘Yes’ vote for this constitution,” Foreign Minister Hoshyar Zebari told CNN. “So my guess is, yes, it will be passed.”

Go read the rest here ... and try not to let Reuters’ disapointment bother you ...


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Posted by The Skipper   United States  on 10/17/2005 at 10:35 AM   
Filed Under: • Iraq •  
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calendar   Wednesday - September 14, 2005

Bad Boys In Iraq

TV ‘Cops’ Reality Show is Talk of Kirkuk
KIRKUK, Iraq (AP)

Shattered glass, body parts, a blood-splattered blue sedan—the grainy video pans over the scene as Iraqi officers comb the site of a drive-by assassination. It’s the Iraqi version of the television program “Cops,” minus the “Bad Boys” soundtrack, but otherwise roughly modeled after the American show. Created to make government more transparent, “The Cops Show,” featuring Kirkuk officers in action, is the first of its kind in the country and is breaking new ground in Iraqi television. A live call-in portion gives the public the chance to praise the security forces or gripe about them.

Screened weekly on Kirkuk Television, which broadcasts in this northern city of nearly 1 million people, “The Cops Show” has opened the floodgates in a community long suppressed. “During Saddam Hussein’s time, it was very different,” station manager Nasser Hassan Mohammed said. “You were unable to ask questions. You couldn’t say anything bad about police. “Now people can call in directly. Anyone has the right to do this. This is the difference now. This is freedom.”

The call-in portion, initially a novelty, has become a staple of the show, and panelists field up to 30 calls per segment, Mr. Mohammed said. And because Kirkuk is ethnically mixed, the show switches among the languages spoken by Kurds, Arabs, Turkomen or Assyrians. It took Iraqis a while to master the art of the phone-in. “But after more than a year, they understand very well,” Mr. Mohammed said. Col. Gordon Petrie, the show’s American military adviser, said it marks a new era for community-service television.

“There has been a sea change in media,” said Col. Petrie, who heads public affairs for the 116th Brigade Combat Team. “Before 2003, it was all Saddam, all the time. “Kirkuk, which was one of the largest TV stations, basically was robotic. They’d get the Baghdad feed and send it out again. Now they are in charge here.”

Until January’s landmark elections, the Americans “ran the shows, booked the guests, and tried to show them what community-service programming was about. But after Jan. 30, we became the monitors. They haven’t disappointed us,” Col. Petrie said. The show also aims to change a Saddam-era image of police as corrupt, inept and unapproachable.

“The first thing we wanted was to show friendship between citizens and police. They are not your enemy. They are your friend,” Mr. Mohammed said. Provincial police Chief Gen. Sherko Shakir has appeared as a guest several times. His spokesman, Abdullah Abdul-Qadir, is host and moderator. During a recent taping, the panelists included Kirkuk’s police chief, Gen. Burhan Taha, and two local police station commanders.

The show opened with graphic videotape of the body of an off-duty police captain, assassinated just days after his wedding. Gen. Taha decried the shooting as a “cowardly job” and urged the public to help. “Don’t be afraid. Give tips anonymously. That way, you can stop bad activities,” he said. Callers were just as quick to demand more of their local police force.

“I was standing on the main road near bridge No. 3. I saw some criminal activity. We don’t have security in our area. Sometimes, we have to secure the area by ourselves,” one man said. The show’s popularity has not gone unnoticed by its enemies, and the studios are heavily guarded. The station’s employees regularly get threats, Mr. Mohammed said, adding that he himself was hit by more than two dozen bullets during an assassination attempt in May 2004.

The station remains undeterred, the station manager said. “After liberation, many things changed. Many dreams were realized. We use freedom and democracy,” he said. “Our duty is to show people that freedom.”

Now that’s what I call real signs of progress! Now all they need is “Divorce Court” or “Judge Judy”.


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Posted by The Skipper   United States  on 09/14/2005 at 07:26 AM   
Filed Under: • Iraq •  
Comments (3) Trackbacks(0)  Permalink •  

calendar   Saturday - August 27, 2005

Whigs, Tories & Democrats

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Steve Sack, Minnesota, The Minneapolis Star-Tribune


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Posted by The Skipper   United States  on 08/27/2005 at 08:34 AM   
Filed Under: • Iraq •  
Comments (2) Trackbacks(0)  Permalink •  
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Not that very many people ever read this far down, but this blog was the creation of Allan Kelly and his friend Vilmar. Vilmar moved on to his own blog some time ago, and Allan ran this place alone until his sudden and unexpected death partway through 2006. We all miss him. A lot. Even though he is gone this site will always still be more than a little bit his. We who are left to carry on the BMEWS tradition owe him a great debt of gratitude, and we hope to be able to pay that back by following his last advice to us all:
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It's been a long strange trip without you Skipper, but thanks for pointing us in the right direction and giving us a swift kick in the behind to get us going. Keep lookin' down on us, will ya? Thanks.

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Oh, and here's some kind of visitor flag counter thingy. Hey, all the cool blogs have one, so I should too. The Visitors Online thingy up at the top doesn't count anything, but it looks neat. It had better, since I paid actual money for it.
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