WITH THE FEDERAL GOVERNMENT IN SHUT DOWN, CELEBRITY IN CHIEF BARRY O IS POUTING.
WHITE HOUSE SPOKESMODEL JAY CARNEY EXPLAINS, "HE'S GETTING READY TO SPEAK AND BOY DID WE HEAR ABOUT THAT. HE WOKE UP THIS MORNING RUNNING THROUGH THE WHITE HOUSE IN HIS FOOTIE PAJAMAS -- BACKDOOR FLAPPING IN THE BREEZE -- HOLLERING 'SNOW DAY! SNOW DAY!' AND THEN WE TOLD HIM HE HAD TO BATHE, GET DRESSED AND MAKE A SPEECH. HE'S POUTED EVER SINCE. IT'S NOT BEEN PRETTY."
SECRETARY OF STATE JOHN KERRY WAS WORRIED ABOUT SOMETHING OTHER THAN BARRY O'S DEMEANOR. "I JUST HOPE," HE TOLD THESE REPORTERS JUST MOMENTS AGO, "HE DOESN'T RELEASE ANOTHER FART. IMAGINE THE DAMAGE A SILENT BUT DEADLY ONE COULD DO TO THE PRESS AND OTHERS ASSEMBLED ON THE WHITE HOUSE LAWN. WE MUST GET HIM TO AGREE TO INSPECTIONS OF THE WHITE HOUSE PANTRY, HE MUST SURRENDER ALL BEANS -- DRIED AND CANNED -- OR HE MUST FACE THE CONSEQUENCES."
FROM THE TCI WIRE:
Today, Baghdad was slammed with violence. As Prensa Latina points out, "Iraq is still plunged into a spiral of violence." While there were attacks elsewhere in Iraq today, it was nothing like Sunday when violence was spread out across the country. How bad was the violence Sunday and today?
The United States condemns in the strongest terms the terrorist attacks against Kurdish security forces in Erbil and inside a mosque in Babil Province yesterday. In addition, we have seen a horrific wave of car bombings across Baghdad today that has taken numerous innocent lives. These attacks, especially an attack inside a place of worship, are detestable and disgraceful and expose the nature of those perpetuating these attacks. The terrorists who committed these attacks are a shared enemy of the United States, Iraq, and the international community. We stand with the Iraqi people against this violence and in our commitment to support efforts to bring those responsible for these attacks to justice. Our condolences go out to the families of the victims of these attacks.
That's State Dept spokesperson Jen Psaki speaking at today's press briefing. If you can get over your shock, Iraq is so rarely raised in the State Dept press briefings despite the fact that the State Dept is over the US mission in Iraq, get ready for another shock.
Psaki was not responding to a question. She made the statement as part of an announcement before she took questions. And from surprising, let's to go the ugly reality. With Psaki making those opening remarks, the press in attendance asked . . . zero questions about Iraq. They didn't have one single question about Iraq. Can't blame the lack of interest on the State Dept this time.
Noting today's violence, Neil Clark (RT) observes:
The same elite figures in the West who couldn't stop writing or talking about Iraq in 2002 and early 2003, telling us what a terrible threat Saddam Hussein’s ‘weapons of mass destruction’ were to us all, and how we needed to go to war with Iraq not only to disarm its evil dictator but to 'liberate' its people, are now silent in the light of the continuing bloodshed and havoc that the illegal invasion caused. In the run up to the invasion of March 2003, you couldn’t switch on a television news program in Britain or America without seeing a neo-con or ‘liberal interventionist’ obsessing about Iraq. In the lead-up to war, these great ‘humanitarians’ feigned concern for the plight of Iraqis living under Saddam’s dictatorship - but today show little or no concern for the plight of Iraqis being blown to pieces by bombs on a regular, almost daily basis. There are no calls from the ‘usual suspects’ for a Western ‘humanitarian’ intervention to stop the killing in Iraq. For these serial interventionists, Iraq, post-invasion, has become the greatest ‘non-story’ of the modern era. Instead, the same people who couldn’t stop talking about Iraq in 2002-2003 now can’t stop talking about Syria - feigning concern over the plight of Syrians in the same way they shed crocodile tears over Iraqis in early 2003.
It’s interesting that when it comes to casualty tolls, pro-war politicians can tell us exactly how many people have died in Syria since the violence started there in 2011, (and of course for them, all the deaths are the personal responsibility of President Assad), whereas when it comes to Iraq and the number of people who have been killed there since March 2003, there’s a great deal more vagueness. “We don’t do body counts on other people” Donald Rumsfeld famously declared in November 2003. The Iraqis killed since March 2003 (and casualty figures vary from around 174,000 to well over one million) are, for our political elite, ‘non-people.’ In 2013, it’s only dead Syrians (and Syrians whose deaths can be blamed on Syrian government forces) that matter - not dead Iraqis.
Because Iraq is deemed a ’non-story’ and our leaders never talk about the situation there, it’s no surprise to see that public perceptions of the death toll are way below even the most conservative estimates. Sixty-six percent of Britons in a poll earlier this year estimated that 20,000 or fewer Iraqis had died since the invasion of 2003. Donald Rumsfeld would no doubt be delighted to hear that.
I agree with Clark, he's 100% right. But today, myself, I'd focus a lot more attention on the press today. The UK's Foreign & Common Wealth Office issued the following:
The British Government utterly condemns the increasing cycle of violence in Iraq, including bomb attacks in Baghdad this morning and in Erbil on 29 September. The attacks in Erbil, a normally peaceful city, were particularly shocking. There should be no place for violence and terrorism in Iraq’s future and we support the Iraqi authorities in Baghdad and the Kurdish Regional Government in their efforts to bring those responsible to justice.
These are just statements, granted, but they're really more than the bulk of the US media is doing. And for the press at the State Dept today to be read the statement by Jen Pskai and then for her to open the floor for questions and then to ask nothing? With today's mass deaths and yesterdays (78 is the death toll Iraq Body Count gives for Sunday)? Not one question?
Over fifty minutes. That's how long the press briefing lasted. Nearly an hour. And despite Psaki's statement at the top, despite the massive today and yesterday in Iraq, the assembled press did not ask one question about Iraq. Shameful.
I've called out Psaki and Marie Harf (another spokesperson) this year for ignoring the violence. This time Psaki raised it herself. And it didn't mean a damn thing to the press present.
Today's chief focal point for violence in Iraq was Baghdad. Kareem Raheem (Reuters) reports 14 car bombs have resulted in "at least 54" deaths in the capital. RTT explains the "bombings took place during busy morning hours in New Baghdad, Sadr, Sabaa al-Bour, Habibiya, Ur, Shaab, Shula, Jamiaa, Kadhimiya and Ghazaliah" districts of Baghdad. BBC informs, "Groups of labourers gathering ahead of the working day were among the bombers' targets." EFE adds, "155 were wounded Monday in a new wave of attacks mainly targeting Shi’ite neighborhoods in Baghdad, an Iraqi police source told Efe." World Bulletin notes, "Death toll from Monday's multiple bombings in Iraq's capital rose to 65 people while more than 200 others were wounded, security officials said."
Pravda has a photo essay of the violence here. Al Bawaba offers a photo of the damage here. AFP notes, "The bombings on Monday were the latest in a string of sectarian attacks in central Iraq that have raised the spectre of a return to the intense Sunni-Shi'ite violence that peaked in 2006-2007 and killed tens of thousands of people. The car bombs struck nine different areas, six of them Shi'ite-majority, one confessionally mixed and two Sunni-majority, also wounding more than 140 people." Catherine Philp (Times of London) also notes the "fears that Iraq is sliding rapidly into the same all-out sectarian war engulfing next door Syria." WG Dunlop (AFP) Tweets that the Iraqi government is insisting that only 10 people died. DL Chandler (HipHopWired) notes, "Although no group has taken credit for the bombings, tensions between Sunni Muslim militants and Shiites have been growing." No one taking credit hasn't stopped the Iraqi government from laying blame. The Voice of Russia reports, "According to the Iraqi Interior Ministry statement, al-Qaeda linked rebels are linked to the attacks. The ministry also noted that the terrorist organization is exploiting political divisions and regional conflicts to sow violence."
Fu Peng (Xinhua) reminds, "The attacks came a day after a wave of insurgent attacks killed 55 people and wounded some 135 others across Iraq." Mohammed Tawfeeq (CNN) offers this context, "More than 5,000 civiilans have died and 12,000 have been wounded in terrorist attacks and other violence in Iraq in 2013, the United Nations Mission in Iraq reported this month. The region around Baghdad has been the hardest-hit, the agency said." Arthur Bright (Christian Science Monitor) reminds, "The Christian Science Monitor reported earlier this month that many Iraqis feel the civil war never really ended, and that the recent surge in violence is evidence of the sectarian divide still plaguing the country – as well as the government's inability to unite Iraq's Sunnis and Shiites."
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"THIS JUST IN! BARRY O GOES NUCLEAR!"