August 2005


From Mohammed at Iraq the Model:

Today Baghdad is witnessing a tragic disaster; hundreds have died and more were injured when huge crowds of pilgrims heading to the shrine of Imam Kadhom caused the fence of the A’imma bridge to collapse pushing people to fall into the Tigris river.

The news is still uncertain about the cause and casualty toll of this disaster but sources in the ministry of health say that around 640 people were killed in the incident…

more from Bloomberg.com:

Baghdad Stampede on Bridge Kills 640 Shiite Pilgrims (Update2)

Aug. 31 (Bloomberg) — At least 640 Shiite Muslim pilgrims were killed in a stampede on a bridge spanning the Tigris River in Baghdad today after a nearby mosque was attacked by insurgents, Iraqi National Assembly adviser George Sada said.

“When people heard that the mosque had been attacked, they panicked and rushed toward the bridge to get out of the area,” Sada said in a telephone interview from the capital. “There were so many people on the bridge that many fell over its sides and drowned in the Tigris, others were crushed.” He said the force of the crowds broke the bridge’s barriers. Other accounts said people in the crowd reacted to rumors of a suicide bomber among them…

doggie

NOLA has the latest news, including reports from specific neighborhoods.

New Orleans Craigslist may help find friends and relatives

Open comment thread, news and information about survivors

Katrina missing persons board

Ken Wheaton’s family is OK

What will happen when the looters meet the land sharks?

Dave J. has a letter from his damaged but not downhearted alma mater, Tulane

Instapundit has info on everything, including more charities

While a few policemen may be involved in looting, hundreds of policemen are rescuing stranded children, elderly people and puppies. Guess which event makes the headlines. Michele has more.

Susan Estrich, the first woman president of the Harvard Law Review and the first woman to head a national presidential campaign believes that Cindy Sheehan is expressing “anti-Semitism masked as opposition to Israel.”

Did an ABC staffer insert the following lines in an email sent by celebrity antiwar mother Cindy Sheehan?

“Am I emotional? Yes, my firstborn was murdered. Am I angry? Yes, he was killed for lies and for a Neo-Con agenda to benefit Israel. My son joined the Army to protect America, not Israel.” That is what Sheehan is claiming.

If you don’t believe that explanation — if you don’t believe an ABC staffer set about to put anti-Semitic words into Cindy Sheehan’s mouth — then your hero, my liberal friends, is a raging, ignorant anti-Semite. Sorry, but what are you doing hanging with that crowd?

I am as sympathetic to Cindy Sheehan’s loss as the next mother. When I heard of her plight, while on vacation with my own children, my heart ached. Why not simply meet with her, I thought — and wrote, like the other liberal columnists — instead of going on a bike ride to nowhere?

I am the last person to “swift boat” a mother who lost her son in this war. I don’t blame anyone, man or woman, for being “emotional.” I have certainly seen the charge used to belittle women many too many times, myself included, with less justification than in this case.

But I will not stand silent and see anti-Semitism masked as opposition to Israel and Israel blamed for George Bush’s mistakes, if that’s what they are. She did say this, apparently:

“What they’re saying, too, is like, it’s OK for Israel to have nuclear weapons. But Iran or Syria better not get nuclear weapons. … It’s OK for Israel to occupy Palestine … for the United States to occupy Iraq, but it’s not OK for Syria to be in Lebanon. They’re a bunch of (expletive) hypocrites.”

Anyone who cannot tell the difference, in any terms, between Israel on the one hand and Syria and Iran on the other is not someone who, as my grandmother would put it, is “good for the Jews” — or for the country, I’d like to add.

Is Sheehan an anti-Semite? Well, we do have to wonder why white supremacist groups are such fans of the “peace mom”.

angel

There may be more than 55 dead in Mississippi.

New Orleans survived the immediate effects of the hurricane, but the city is now being flooded by a levee breach:

The effect of the breach was instantly devastating to residents who had survived the fiercest of Katrina’s winds and storm surge intact, only to be taken by surprise by the sudden deluge. And it added a vast swath of central New Orleans to those already flooded in eastern New Orleans, the Lower 9th Ward and St. Bernard and Plaquemines parishes.

Beginning at midday, Lakeview residents watched in horror as the water began to rise, pushed through the levee breach by still-strong residual winds from Katrina. They struggled to elevate furniture and eventually found themselves forced to the refuge of second floors just when most in the neighborhood thought they had been spared.

“It would have been fine,” refugee Pat O.Brien said. “The eye passed over.” But his relief was short-lived. “It’s like what you see on TV and never thought would happen to us. We lost everything: cars, art, furniture, everything.”

Scott Radish, his wife Kyle and neighbor Brandon Gioe stood forlornly on their Mound Street porch, where they had ridden out Katrina, only to face a second, more insidious threat. “The hurricane was scary,” Scott said. “All the tree branches fell, but the building stood. I thought I was doing good. Then I noticed my Jeep was under water.”

According to Brendan Loy, the cable news networks missed the news about the levee breach, but local papers like the Times-Picayune are making heroic efforts to cover the story.


CNN
and the Washington Post do have a list of aid agencies, though.

I love New Orleans – it’s my favorite place to visit. I hope they’ll be able to recover from this, and I hope they might move some of their treasured landmarks inland.

I used to live in a hurricane prone area (Cape May, NJ). There used to be a South Cape May, but that’s underwater now. It has been underwater for decades. Friends of ours had a seaside home, but they sold it because they were tired of cleaning up after flood damage. I don’t know if it’s global warming or something else, but the ocean seems to be moving inland. Even if we all stopped driving cars tomorrow, lived in harmony with nature and dressed ourselves in bannana leaves, this trend would not reverse itself. We’re probably going to have to learn to live with things as they are, and give large bodies of water some breathing room.

Oliver Willis says:

As a proud Democrat it hurts to say, but Frank Rich’s conclusion is right..

..The Democrats are hoping that if they do nothing, they might inherit the earth as the Bush administration goes down the tubes. Whatever the dubious merits of this Kerryesque course as a political strategy, as a moral strategy it’s unpatriotic. The earth may not be worth inheriting if Iraq continues to sabotage America’s ability to take on Iran and North Korea, let alone Al Qaeda.

You don’t have to be in the majority to exhbit leadership qualities, and when it comes to Iraq, the Democratic party just hasn’t led at all.

One commenter asks:

..whatever happened to democrats who could stand up and proudly proclaim that they love their country? Just that. No conditions, no proclaiming a greater loyalty to some other group or ideology, just a simple, non-nationalistic patriotism, directed towards the US as it is, not as it will be in a dream of the future.

Wilson had it. FDR had it. Truman had it, he went without question to fight in WWI. Kenedy had it. Even Johnson had it. McGovern didn’t, despite his war-hero background. Carter didn’t. He was proud to president only of a potential America, as were Mondale and Dukakis.

What the hell has happened to the democratic party?

If they could answer that question, things could change..

When I was a web geek for a large corporation, the marketing people were the bossy types who wore pearls and/or suits, ate long lunches and left the office promptly at five. All proper geeks, alpha, beta and even the gamma ones like me, ate at and slept at their desks, wore t-shirts and jeans and hated marketing.

Unfortunately, according to human resources, even the geeks in the department were marketing.

Now, everyone is marketing. Neo-marketing, that is..

Salman Rushdie, who is accustomed to dealing with bullies, gave George Galloway the (verbal) beating he deserves.

I hope the Galloway vs. Hitchens debate is as good..

When he wasn’t beating on Galloway, Rushdie said:

Rushdie said Kashmir had changed since the 1950s and 1960s. “There was no radical Islam in Kashmir then – it was pacifist, Sufist – and it had nothing to do with jihad. But in the last half century this terrible fundamentalism has got hold of the region.”

The story is the same around the world – the spread of Wahhabist, or extreme fundamentalism is a very recent phenomenon within Islam.

The AP article about Fred Phelps and his family is a great illustration of how the press repeats biased half-truths over and over and over, until the fable is accepted as fact; unfortunately, Phelps and his bogus “church” is just one fable among thousands.

Once upon a time reporters may have been capable of creating objective hard news stories, free from bias. In those mythical days, they may have checked their sources and investigated data pertaining to the story.

If they ever existed, those reporters are gone. For decades hard-news stories and the hacks who create them work with a mixture of bias, punditry and cribbing from the press kit. This the only way that Iraq becomes another Vietnam.

Most liberals, leftists and conservatives were suprised to learn that Fred Phelps and his Westboro Baptist Church is made up of Democrats. This is no secret, just as the 100 million dead as a result of Communism was no secret – the press just never discussed it because these facts were in conflict with their personal and professional leftist beliefs. We’ve become so accustomed to the resulting Left-leaning bias in the news, we don’t even notice it.

Replacing Left-wing bias with right-wing bias helps expose the lies. It’s also easy and fun. Here’s the Cindy Sheehan peace mom fable from CNN:

Sharpton, Sheen visit antiwar camp

The Rev. Al Sharpton joined hundreds of war protesters camping near President Bush’s ranch for an interfaith service Sunday, saying he felt compelled to meet Cindy Sheehan, the grieving mother who started the rally three weeks earlier.

Sheehan arrived in Bush’s hometown August 6 and refused to leave until she could question the president about the war that has killed more than 1,870 U.S. service members, including her son Casey.

“I feel that it is our moral obligation to stand and to be courageous with these families, and particularly Cindy, that have become the conscience of this nation,” said Sharpton, an activist and former Democratic presidential candidate.

Sharpton and Sheehan laid roses at crosses near “Camp Casey,” named for Sheehan’s 24-year-old son who was killed in Iraq last year.

cindycut

Actor Martin Sheen, who portrays the Democratic president on NBC’s “The West Wing,” also met with Sheehan on Sunday.

..becomes..

Sharpton, Stormfront visit antiwar camp

The Rev. Al Sharpton a former Democratic presidential candidate and an activist implicated in a hate-based arson attack which killed seven people, joined Stormfront and members of other hate groups camping near President Bush’s ranch for a press conference Sunday, saying he felt compelled to meet Cindy Sheehan, the activist who started the rally three weeks earlier.

Sheehan arrived in Bush’s hometown August 6 and refused to leave until she could question the president about the war that brought about what Iraqi poet Awad Nasir called “the rebirth of Iraq as a free nation.”

Putting on a somber face beneath a swarm of Paparazzi, Sharpton said “I feel that it is our moral obligation to stand and to be courageous with these families, and particularly Cindy, that have become the conscience of this nation,”

cindyuncut

[Photos thanks to Yahoo]

According to one Stormfront member, “What we risk doing by not showing up at the massive protests against the Bush/Neocon War for Israel is to leave the field of battle.”

Note how a properly edited photograph can add to the effect.

The tools of those lost unicorns that we call “investigative reporters” included objectivity and a need to tell the truth. The tools of most reporters today are the ability to scan a press kit, cut and paste. Garbage in, garbage out is what we call “news”.

The NJ Carnival of the Bloggers #15 is up at PDC Ryan’s.

Carnival-large

See New Jersey bloggers in their natural habitat via an interactive map.

Via AP

Anti-gay protests at GI funerals

SMYRNA, Tenn. – Members of a church say God is punishing American soldiers for defending a country that harbors gays, and they brought their anti-gay message to the funerals Saturday of two Tennessee soldiers killed in Iraq.

The church members were met with scorn from local residents. They chased the church members cars’ down a highway, waving flags and screaming “God bless America.”..

..The Rev. Fred Phelps, founder of Westboro Baptist in Kansas, contends that American soldiers are being killed in Iraq as vengeance from God for protecting a country that harbors gays. The church, which is not affiliated with a larger denomination, is made up mostly of Phelps’ children, grandchildren and in-laws.

The church members carried signs and shouted things such as “God hates fags” and “God hates you.”

About 10 church members protested near Smyrna United Methodist Church and nearly 20 stood outside the National Guard Armory in Ashland City. Members have demonstrated at other soldier funerals across the nation.

There are so many things that are wrong with this article, it’s hard to figure out where to begin..

The biggest problem: the clearly psychotic Reverend Phelps is walking the streets, a danger to himself and others. Our mental health agencies are, for the 1,236,457th + time, demonstrating ignorance and incompetence that borders on the criminal.

But back to the near-criminal idiocies of the press. Here’s what they always get wrong about the Phelps “church”.

  1. Mainstream and fundamentalist Christians have denounced Phelps and his cult as a producer of anti-gay propaganda and violence-inspiring hate speech. His cult is composed of members of his own family who live within a family ‘compound’. The press knows this, but they choose to call this psychotic family a “Church”
  2. Fred Phelps is a registered Democrat. and the members of his cult have had very strong ties to the Democratic Party. From Wikipedia:

    In the 1980s, the Phelps family were strong political allies with then-senator Al Gore. The home of Fred Jr., Phelps’ eldest son, located in the Westboro compound, acted as Gore’s campaign quarters for one of his senate races, and the Westboro compound was host to a fundraiser. Numerous photos exist on the internet of Fred Phelps Jr. and his second wife, Betty Phelps-Schurle, posing with Al and Tipper Gore in Phelps Jr.’s home. Phelps also served as a Gore delegate on the floor of the Democratic National Convention in Atlanta in 1988.

This information rarely to never appears in reports about Phelps family activism. Despite that, it is no secret. So why does the press work so hard to give the public the impression that Phelps’ family is a conservative Christian group? You can call press fables half-truths or you can call them lies, but one thing is clear – this is not objective reporting.

The article could also be written this way..

Anti-war democrat protests at GI funerals

SMYRNA, Tenn. – Democrats and anti-war activists who claim that God is punishing American soldiers for defending this country brought their anti-America message to the funerals Saturday of two Tennessee soldiers killed in Iraq.

The Democrats were met with scorn from local residents. They chased the activists’ cars down a highway, waving flags and screaming “God bless America.”..

Anti-war activist Fred Phelps, a registered Democrat who was invited to (and who attended) the Clinton/Gore inaugural party in 1993, contends that American soldiers are being killed in Iraq as vengeance from God. Phelps’ cult has been condemned by mainstream and fundamentalist Christians, and is made up mostly of Phelps’ children, grandchildren and in-laws.

These anti-war democrats carried signs and shouted things such as “God hates America”, “Thank God for 9/11″ and “God hates you.”

About 10 Democrats protested near Smyrna United Methodist Church and nearly 20 stood outside the National Guard Armory in Ashland City. Members have demonstrated at other soldier funerals across the nation.

…and it would be entirely factual. It would also be as biased as the AP tripe.

The original AP article ends with one quote from “Danny Cotton, 56″, who says, “If they were protesting the government, I might even join them,” If Mr. Cotton weren’t fed on a constant diet of half-truths and bias from the media he would realize that Fred Phelps does hate Bush and America. Phelps has offered support to Fidel Castro and Saddam Hussein.

If baby-boomer Cotton realized that the press has been selling him similar half-truths about other totalitarian/extremist groups for decades, he might begin to rethink his views.

Or maybe not.

[Cross-posted at Dean's World]

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