A children's story some adults could stand to read
by Padraic O'Neil
THE LIBRARIAN OF BASRA
A True Story from Iraq
Written and illustrated by Jeanette Winter
Harcourt Books, 2005
With bold, vibrant colors framing dramatic images, and in language direct and unadorned, Jeanette Winter tells the astonishing tale of Alia Muhammad Baker. As the chief librarian of Basra's central library, she salvaged 30,000 books from the wreckage of war.
According to New York Times journalist Shalia K. Dewan, whose work was the inspiration for this welcome children's book, "Alia Muhammad Baker's house is full of books. There are books in stacks, books in the cupboards, books bundled in the flour sacks like lumpy aid rations. Books fill an old refrigerator. Pull aside a window curtain, and there is no view, just more books." Books on the history of Iraq's civilizations, on Islam and literature, on "the finer points of Arabic grammar and the art of telling time."
Well, all the lefties and Bush-haters are gloating again—this time at the new report from a presidential commission finding that the intelligence the White House received aboout weapons of mass destruction in Iraq was "dead wrong." (AP, March 31) Will Pitt of TruthOut does an impressive job of documenting how the report is actually a whitewash that allows the Administration to scapegoat the intelligence community for its own lies (or, more charitably, distortions and misreadings of data).
Italians are demanding answers in the case of US troops opening fire at a checkpoint on a car containing an Italian secret serviceman and an Italian journalist recently freed from Iraqi abductors.
A video made by Florida National Guardsmen in the Iraq city of Ramadi shows troops kicking a gravely wounded prisoner in the face, and making the arm of a nearby corpse appear to wave. The video, obtained by the Palm Beach Post, was entitled "Ramadi Madness." Military authorities are taking no action. An Army spokesman told Reuters that the video showed "poor judgement" but "didn't rise to the level of criminal abuse."
We Kill Journalists, Don't We?
by Michael I. Niman
"There is not one of you who dare to write your honest opinions, and if you did, you know beforehand that it would never appear in print. I am paid weekly for keeping my honest opinion out of the paper I am connected with. Others of you are paid similar salaries for similar things, and any of you who would be so foolish as to write honest opinions would be out on the street looking for another job... The business of the journalist is to destroy the truth; to lie outright; to pervert; to vilify; to fawn at the feet of mammon." -John Swinton (1880), Former New York Times Managing Editor
Iraq's elections--held in defiance of threats from guerillas against voters
and authorities alike--have predictably been hailed as a victory for
democracy. "The people of Iraq have spoken to the world, and the world is
hearing the voice of freedom from the center of the Middle East," said U.S.
President George Bush as the votes came in Jan. 30.
The results tell a different story. Iraqis voted almost perfectly along
ethnic and religious lines. Nearly 50% of the vote went to an openly
Islamist Shi'ite bloc backed by Ayatollah al-Sistani, inappropriately named
Khalid ash-Shaykhli, an official at Iraq's Health Ministry says a survey of casualties from Fallujah indicates the U.S. used mustard gas and other internationally banned weapons in the city. Reports of survivors seeing "melted" bodies also indicates use of napalm, he said. (Al-Jazeera, March 5)
A resolution calling for troop withdrawal from Iraq was put before Vermont town meetings March 1 as a result of a statewide campaign by anti-war activists. By the following night, the resolution had been approved by 38 towns of the 50 in which it went to a vote.