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FOX News Becomes Almost Silent About "Surge Success" As Violence Escalates All Across Iraq

Reported by Marie Therese - December 16, 2007 -

GUEST BLOGGED BY BILL CORCORAN

Post updated and altered to correct the unintentional and erroneous impression that FOX News has not covered the Iraq War at all. FOX News has fallen back into their pre-"surge" days when finding negative news about the Iraq war was like finding the proverbial needle in a haystack. A few months back, the "surge" started to show signs of improving conditions in Iraq and suddenly FOX News discovered there really was a war going on in Iraq. However, in the past week the violence has taken a dramatic turn for the worse, thus making arguments about the "success" of the Bush policies harder to justify. Instead, FOX News has devoted far more coverage coverage to the Presidential races along with the usual "T &A" footage designed to arouse and provide vicarious enjoyment for the conservative middle-aged white males who make up much of the FOX news viewer base.

As we have done for many weeks here, we will show through documented stories how the war in Iraq has taken a decided turn for the worse. This is the fallout from the war which never gets told by Fox News, or if it is mentioned, it is slanted to provide cover for the Bush administration.

Until recently, FOX News boasted about how Iraqi refugees were pouring back into Iraq from Syria, Jordan and other Middle Eastern countries where they had fled to escape the violence in their homeland. But now we learn there is another side to the Iraqi refugee story that is not being told to FOX viewers.

Harsh refugee life rather than improved security spurs return of Iraqi refugees

Reuters

The recent return of considerable numbers of Iraqi refugees to their homeland has been hailed by some as evidence of an improvement in the security situation inside Iraq. Many Iraqi refugees face little alternative, however, than to return to their homeland, according to a survey by the United Nations refugee agency (UNHCR) in Syria.

Most returnees did so because they were running out of money or because their visas had expired, states the report, with less than 15 per cent found to be returning because they believed the security situation had improved.

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Few Iraqis Returning Home from Jordan
UN Refugee Agency says not encouraging Iraqis in Jordan to return to their homeland.


Middle East Online

AMMAN - Due to the fragile security situation in Iraq, the UN Refugee Agency (UNHCR) is not encouraging Iraqis in Jordan to return to their homeland, but it is ready to help those who are determined to do so, according to Imran Riza, UNHCR representative in Jordan.

"We still need to make a thorough evaluation of the situation before we can say it is safe [for them] to return. We are not in a position to encourage Iraqis to leave Jordan, but we are ready to help those who desire to do so," said Riza, who noted that the number of Iraqis returning to their country from Jordan is very small, in contrast to Syria where thousands of Iraqi asylum seekers are returning every day.

Since the US-led invasion of Iraq in 2003, more than two million Iraqis have fled to neighbouring countries, with Jordan (500,000-750,000) and Syria (1.2-1.4 million) hosting the greatest numbers.

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Comment: There is also another part of the Iraqi refugee story that has been overlooked.

Illiteracy increasing among Iraq's refugee children

McClatchy

DAMASCUS, Syria — Illiteracy is spreading rapidly among refugee children from Iraq, with at least 300,000 young Iraqis not attending school in the countries where their families have sought safety.

Alarmed aid workers in Syria and Jordan report that a growing number of children can't read or write because cash-strapped parents have withdrawn them from school to cut down on expenses. In many cases, displaced families can afford to send only one of their children to school, creating a painful gap between educated children and their illiterate siblings, humanitarian workers say.

UNICEF, the U.N. education agency, is beginning a census to determine the size of the problem. There's no program in place yet to deal broadly with the issue. Aid workers admit that the development surprised them, in part because Iraq once boasted some of the highest literacy rates in the Middle East. The Iraqis' legendary thirst for knowledge is encapsulated in an Arabic saying, "The Egyptians write, the Lebanese publish, the Iraqis read."

"We are finding that a lot of participants in the youth programs we're running — a very high number, sometimes up to 30 percent per class — are illiterate or close to illiterate," said Jason Erb, the deputy country director for emergency programs in the Jordan office of Save the Children. He said that more than 90,000 Iraqi children were out of school in Jordan.

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Comment: And now comes word of the saddest part of the Iraq war story - more evidence that veterans are not getting the proper treatment they deserve after their service to this country.

Commentary: The disgraceful treatment of our veterans

McClatchy

As you do your holiday shopping this year and think about a big turkey dinner and piles of gifts and the good life that most Americans enjoy, please spare a thought for those who made it all possible: Those who serve in our military and the veterans who've worn the uniform.

There are some new statistics that give us reason to be ashamed for the way that our country has treated those who've served and sacrificed for us.

Those statistics damn the politicians who start every speech by thanking the troops and veterans and blessing them. They indict our national leaders who turn up at military bases and the annual conventions of veteran's organizations and use troops and veterans as a backdrop for their photo-ops.

Consider this:

* An average of 18 veterans commit suicide each and every day of the year, according to recent statistics from the Veterans Administration (VA). That’s 126 veterans who kill themselves every week. Or some 6,552 who take their own lives each year. Our veterans are killing themselves at twice the rate of other Americans.

* One quarter of the homeless people in America are military veterans. That’s one in every four. Is that ragged man huddled on the steam grate in a brutal winter wind a Vietnam vet? Did that younger man panhandling for pocket change on the street corner fight in Kandahar or Fallujah?

For the past four years, the Department of Veterans Affairs has been insisting that it’s doing everything it needs to for the nation’s veterans. That's simply not true, particularly when it comes to the VA's treatment of mental health issues.

As my McClatchy colleague Chris Adams has reported in a series of groundbreaking stories this year, the VA mental health system — even by its own measures — wasn’t prepared to give returning veterans the mental health care they need.

The experts say that between 20 and 30 percent of all troops returning from combat duty in Iraq and Afghanistan may be suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). But many of VA hospitals didn’t have the special PTSD programs that experts say are vital. Soldiers returning from Iraq are allowed to slip unnoticed into their old lives, and neither the Department of Defense nor the VA does anything to monitor their mental health.

The VA keeps telling Congress that all is well. That's not true, either. As Adams reported, the VA has been using fudged or inflated numbers to do so. And after years of promising that it's getting a growing backlog of disability compensation applications under control, things actually got worse this year.

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Comment: Adding insult to injury, the Bush administration has named a war profiteer to head up the Department of Veterans Affairs.

Corporate profiteering against Iraq vets?

Salon (Registration may be required.)

Bush's nominee to head the Department of Veterans Affairs is the second to come from a private company that rakes in millions from VA contracts.

President Bush late last month nominated retired Lt. Gen. James Peake to be the next secretary of the Department of Veterans Affairs. It is not an inconsequential wartime post: The department is the second-largest government agency after the Defense Department. And the VA faces the awesome responsibility of caring for several generations of veterans, including the crush of American service members back from Iraq and Afghanistan.

On paper, Peake seems qualified. Wounded twice in Vietnam, he retired in 2004 from his post as Army surgeon general, the Army's top medical officer, with 40 years of experience in the field of military medicine.

But Bush plucked Peake directly from a private company that has raked in hundreds of millions of dollars from contracts with the VA -- and Peake himself helped develop proposals for the company to contract with the VA. That has raised questions about conflict of interest, potentially pitting veterans' care against corporate profits. Moreover, if he is confirmed, Peake will be the second head of the VA under the Bush administration to come from that same private contractor, QTC Management Inc.

Observers say QTC Management has performed high-quality work, and its former president, who also headed the VA under Bush, withstood past scrutiny by congressional investigators. But ever since Dick Cheney left Halliburton to become vice president, Bush administration critics have sounded the alarm about war profiteering seeping into the heart of the U.S. government. The changing leadership at the VA represents a little-known turn of the revolving door between contractors and the Bush administration. Veterans' advocates also worry that Peake's nomination suggests the White House may be interested in privatizing veterans' healthcare to an unhealthy degree.

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Comment: The treatment of wounded veterans is not the only disgrace of the Iraq war. Scandal continues to plague the rehabilitation of Iraq and late this week the following was reported by the Washington Post.

Inspector General for Iraq Under Investigation
FBI, Congress among those probing allegations of overspending, mismanagement.


Truthout

Over the past four years, Inspector General Stuart W. Bowen Jr. and his staff have probed allegations of waste and fraud in the $22 billion U.S. effort to rebuild Iraq. Their work has led to arrests, indictments and millions of dollars in fines. And it has earned Bowen, who had been a legal adviser to President Bush, many admirers among both parties on Capitol Hill for his efforts to identify overspending and mismanagement.

But Bowen's office has also been roiled by allegations of its own overspending and mismanagement. Current and former employees have complained about overtime policies that allowed 10 staff members to earn more than $250,000 each last year. They have questioned the oversight of a $3.5 million book project about Iraq's reconstruction modeled after the 9/11 Commission report. And they have alleged that Bowen and his deputy have improperly snooped into their staff's e-mail messages.

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Comment: The reason FOX News has cut back on its laudatory coverage of Iraq is the fact that what is taking place there now doesn't jibe with the past two months' "happy talk" about the success of the "surge."

71 Iraqis Killed, 177 Wounded

Antiwar.com

A large triple bombing killed or wounded scores of people in the southern city of Amarah. Meanwhile a smaller blast in Baghdad left over a dozen casualties there. Overall, 71 Iraqis were killed and 152 more were wounded in the latest violence. No Coalition deaths were reported.

At least 42 people were killed and another 125 were wounded during a triple car bombing in Amarah. Although small arms attacks against civilians have been increasing in recent weeks throughout Maysan province, the news of a triple bombing in Amarah stunned Iraq this morning. The area had been relatively peaceful since the British handed over control to Iraqi forces in April. British forces promise that an expected handover of neighboring Basra province will go on schedule this Sunday despite the bombing.

In Baghdad, a booby-trapped car in the al-Ghadeer neighborhood left five dead and 13 injured. In Doura, gunmen injured a policeman. Three employees were wounded during an armed attack in al-Tobchi. Mortas in al-Ganat injured three more people. Also, five dumped bodies were recovered.

A roadside bomb killed one person and wounded two others in Kirkuk.

Two Sunni tribal council members were found dead in Latifiya.

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Fresh Wave of Violence Hits Baghdad

Press TV

Fourteen people have been killed and dozens of others wounded as a fresh wave of violence hits the shattered Iraqi capital of Baghdad.

Five prisoners were killed at a holding cell on a base in eastern Baghdad's Rusafa district on Monday, the US military said.

Several rockets were fired at the facility, at least one of which was on target. Twenty-five people were wounded in the attack.

Two civilians were killed when gunmen fired into their car from another vehicle in Karrada district, Interior Ministry officials said.

In another attack in the same area, two mortars landed in the neighborhood and wounded three civilians.

In eastern Baghdad's Baladiat district, five people -four of them police officers- were wounded when a roadside bomb detonated near an Iraqi national police convoy.

Earlier on the day, mortar shelling of an Interior Ministry prison killed at least seven inmates and seriously injured 23 others including five police officers, a ministry official said.

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Bomb Targets Iraqi Politicians' Offices

Yahoo News

BAGHDAD - A suicide car bomber struck in one of the capital's most heavily guarded neighborhoods Tuesday, killing two guards at a checkpoint near the home and offices of two prominent politicians, including the first prime minister after Saddam Hussein.
Both politicians were out of the country at the time.

The explosion took place in a neighborhood bordering the U.S.-protected Green Zone in western Baghdad, less than a quarter-mile from buildings that included the home and office compound of Ayad Allawi, a secular Shiite, and offices of Saleh al-Mutlaq, the head of the Iraqi National Dialogue Front, a Sunni political bloc.

It was the second bombing in two days to strike guards of Allawi, who is on a short list of possible future national leaders and a fierce critic of Shiite Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki.

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Mortar Shells Hit Baghdad Prison

MSNBC

BAGHDAD - Mortar shells slammed into an Interior Ministry prison Monday, killing at least five inmates and wounding 25, police and a hospital official said. Separately, a fire broke out at one of Iraq's main oil refineries, but the U.S. military said it was due to an industrial accident, not an attack.

Iraq's foreign minister, meanwhile, said a new security pact with the United States would set a time limit on the American troop presence, saying the government's eventual goal was "to reach a level of preparedness that leaves us with absolutely no need for foreign forces to remain in the country."

The mortar rounds hit a prison made up of several cellblocks, each containing prisoners accused of terrorism-related crimes or civil offenses, police said.

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Car bombing Kills 2 in Northern Iraq

China View

BAGHDAD, Dec. 5 (Xinhua) -- A car bomb went off in Kirkuk, some 250 km north of Baghdad, killing at least two people and wounding 10 others on Wednesday, a local police source said.

"A car bomb parked near the Samir Restaurant on a main road in Kirkuk detonated near a passing Kurdish soldiers' convoy," Brigadier Burhan Wasif, the city police chief told Xinhua.

The blast apparently targeted Kurdish Peshmerga forces, guarding a police chief, but missed its target, killing at least two people and wounding ten others, Wasif said.

The blast damaged several nearby buildings and civilian cars, he added.

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Baghdad blast kills at least 14 people

China View

BAGHDAD, Dec. 5 (Xinhua) -- At least 14 persons were killed and some 30 others wounded in a car bombing attack in a crowded Baghdad suburb on Wednesday, said official sources.

The incident took place in a largely Shiite neighborhood of central Baghdad at about 5 p.m. on Wednesday when a parked car bomb went off, a local police source said.

At least 15 people and some 30 others injured, said the source, adding the explosion also caused damage to a Shiite mosque.

Gunfire and sirens followed the blast in the neighborhood, and a plume of smoke rose to the sky, according to police and hospital officials.

The blast came as the U.S. defense secretary is visiting here to press for political reconciliation.

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CLOSING COMMENT & GRAPHIC VIDEO OF THE IRAQ WAR

Thanks to a very good friend, Sharin Bowers, I learned of this graphic video of what it is like when a bomb is dropped on a house in Iraq.

Warning: The language is rough, but war is rough and these GIs are expressing their true feelings during combat.

10 Second Impact - Iraq

"They're dropping a 5 f*cking hundred pound bomb on that house over there... You don't get sh*t like this on the 4th of July"

No, you don't.

And you don't get Iraq war video like this on FOX News.