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Dear Santa: All I Want for Christmas Is For FOX News to Report Everything That Is Happening in Iraq

Reported by Marie Therese - December 23, 2007 -

GUEST BLOGGED BY BILL CORCORAN

Dear Santa,

I have my two front teeth so I don't need teeth, but I would appreciate it if you could put in a good word over at FOX News and tell them a lot of us would like to hear about EVERYTHING that is happening in Iraq, not just carefully edited snippets of half-truth and spin. Rudolph told me that FOX News says things are peachy keen in Anbar Province, but what about the rest of Iraq? He suggested I check out various news outlets and the Iraq Today web site if I want the whole unvarnished truth about Iraq.

So, Santa, I did what your favorite red-nosed reindeer told me to do and - lo and behold! - look what I found.

On the website Iraq Today, there's a daily updated list of incidents in the never-ending war on Iraq. The vast majority of them will never be reported by FOX News or in other media outlets. Check it out here.

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As the violence continued all across Iraq, there were other developments in Iraq that had a jarring effect on U.S and Iraqi relations. Here are just three of them:

All Iraqi Groups Blame U.S. Invasion for Discord, Study Shows

The Washington Post

Iraqis of all sectarian and ethnic groups believe that the U.S. military invasion is the primary root of the violent differences among them, and see the departure of "occupying forces" as the key to national reconciliation, according to focus groups conducted for the U.S. military last month.

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Iraq rejects permanent U.S. bases

Yahoo News

BAGHDAD (Reuters) - Iraq will never allow the United States to have permanent military bases on its soil, the government's national security adviser said, calling the issue a "red line" that cannot be crossed.

Commander: Al-Qaida still able to attack

Yahoo News

BAGHDAD - The top U.S. commander in northern Iraq warned Wednesday that al-Qaida in Iraq was still capable of staging spectacular attacks despite a 50 percent drop in bombings and other violence in his region.

Army Maj. Gen. Mark P. Hertling said al-Qaida in Iraq was being pushed north by the increased numbers of U.S. troops that surged into Baghdad over the summer and fall. The insurgents are also being flushed out of Anbar province by "awakening councils" — groups of Sunni Arab tribesmen the U.S. military has backed to help fight al-Qaida in Iraq and its allies.

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Dear Santa: As the week drew to a close, it became more and more evident Iraq is anything but stable and free from violence. Here is what happened in Iraq as we prepared for Christmas holidays.

Bomber kills 13 Iraq volunteers and 1 U.S. soldier

Yahoo News

BAGHDAD (Reuters) - A suicide bomber detonated a vest packed with explosives in Iraq's restive Diyala province on Thursday, killing 13 neighborhood patrol volunteers and a U.S. soldier.

U.S. forces said the bomber struck an American foot patrol near a building where a city council meeting was to be held, killing one U.S. soldier and wounding 10 in Kanaan, near Baquba, capital of Diyala province north of Baghdad.

Iraqi police said the building was being used to recruit volunteers for neighborhood patrols to fight al Qaeda militants and 13 recruits were killed.

The U.S. military said only five Iraqis died in the attack, but a Reuters photographer filmed at least eight dead bodies arriving at a morgue in Baquba. All appeared to be adult males in blood-soaked civilian clothes.

So, Santa, as we bring this week's post on events in Iraq to a close, we felt it was only fitting to relay to News Hounds readers a few "side-bar stories" that further illustrate what is taking place inside of Iraq.

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Mirage Of Improvement In Iraq

Information Clearing House

By Dahr Jamail

12/19/07 "ICH" -- - The November 19 New York Times announces, “Baghdad’s Weary Start to Exhale as Security Improves.”

The Washington Post on November 23 reports, “Returnees Find a Capital Transformed.”

People in the US are willing to believe the establishment media telling them that refugees are returning to their homes in Baghdad in an environment of improved security and new hope.

It is true that there have been fewer American soldiers killed in Baghdad and the number of Iraqis fleeing to Syria has declined. However, this relatively quieter security situation needs to be placed in its proper context, something the Western media steadfastly refuses to do.

We are proudly informed that buying off Sunni militias and resistance fighters at $300 per month is among the latest U.S. military tactics, but we are conscientiously kept uninformed about the implications of such a move. Nor is there any mention of the growing antagonism it has generated in the US-backed Iraqi Government under Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki. By its own admission, the U.S. military has paid over $17 million, so far, to recruit 77,000 Sunni fighters, many of whom were launching attacks against the Americans a few weeks ago (International Herald Tribune).

Post purchase, the US military has rechristened them “Concerned Local Citizens,” or “Awakening Forces.” The target is to procure another 10,000.

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Gays retreat to shadows in new Iraq

International Herald Tribune

BAGHDAD: In a city and country where outsiders are viewed with deep suspicion and attracting attention can imperil one's life, Mohammed could never blend in, even if he wanted to.

Mohammed, 37, has been openly gay for much of his adult life. For him, this has meant growing his hair long and taking estrogen. In the past, he said, that held little danger. As is true throughout the Middle East, men have always been publicly affectionate here.

But, that was then and this is now and life for gay people is far more different now in Iraq

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Dear Santa: As you make your rounds dropping off presents, please don't forget the brave young men and women journalists in Iraq who risk their lives on a daily basis to keep Americans informed on what is really taking place in Iraq. And don't forget the present for Lori Price of CLG for the tip on how The Pew Research Center recently took a poll to determine just how the press has been doing in covering the war. Here are the results of that poll:

How the Press Has Covered Iraq War

The Project for Excellence in Journalism

Through the first 10 months of the year, the portrait of Iraq that Americans have received from the news media has in considerable measure been a grim one. Roughly half of the reporting has consisted of accounts of daily violence. And stories that explicitly assessed the direction of the war have tended toward pessimism, according to a new study of press coverage of events on the ground in Iraq from January through October of 2007.

In what Defense Department statistics show to be the deadliest year so far for U.S. forces in Iraq, journalists have responded to the challenge of covering the continuing violence by keeping many of the accounts of these attacks brief and limiting the interpretation they contain.

And as the year went on, the narrative from Iraq in some ways brightened. The drumbeat of reports about daily attacks declined in late summer and fall, and with that came a decline in the amount of coverage from Iraq overall.

This shift in coverage beginning in June, in turn, coincided with a rising sense among the American public that military efforts in Iraq were going “very” or “fairly well.”

These are some of the findings of a study of more than 1,100 stories from January through October from 40 different news outlets conducted by the Project for Excellence in Journalism, a research institute that examines the press.

The findings suggest, among other things, that the bigger question may be not how the press interprets events but what kinds of events get covered, especially by a press corps whose movements are severely restricted in Iraq by the threat of attack and who are most mobile when embedded with U.S. troops.

The results of the study of the content of Iraq coverage also correlate to a great extent with attitudes expressed by journalists working in Iraq themselves. In a survey released by the Project in November, most journalists said they felt that the operations of the military were thoroughly covered, but they viewed the lives of ordinary Iraqis and the sense of daily life as the most “undercovered” subject. The findings here about what topics were covered tend to confirm the assessment of the journalists on the ground.

Among the study’s findings:

* Daily accounts of violence made up 47% of all stories studied during the first 10 months of 2007. But because many of these stories were short, that represented a 27% of the time and space—or newshole—of the coverage studied.

* Through June, more than half of all stories studied were about violent incidents, but that number fell to roughly one third in September and October.

* Just more than half (56%) of the stories that offered a clear assessment of where things in Iraq were headed were pessimistic, but that coverage was more skeptical of the Iraqi government and the stability of the country than it was of U.S. policy.

* Stories assessing the effectiveness of U.S. policy—including the surge—more often than not were neither distinctly positive nor negative in the message they conveyed. Four in ten offered a mixed assessment, while a third were pessimistic and a quarter saw things as improving.

* A separate analysis of coverage in November, beyond the time frame of the main study, indicates that during that month positive assessments of the surge began to rise.

* The coverage overall was U.S. centric in subject matter. About half of all the coverage from Iraq was about American military and U.S. officials. Roughly another 10% was about private contractors, mostly Blackwater.

* Coverage of Iraqi civilians, by contrast, made up far less, 3% of stories and 5% of overall newshole.

* Despite enormous difficulty in getting access to sources, Americans did get a wide range of perspectives. Fully 40% of stories (representing 61% of the newshole) carried the views of multiple of types of stakeholders.

The Project for Excellence in Journalism is a non-partisan, non-ideological research institute that studies the press. It is one of eight projects that make up the Pew Research Center in Washington, D.C., a “fact tank” funded by the Pew Charitable Trusts.

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And now, dear Santa, instead of leaving you cookies and milk, I thought I'd give you this video of President Bush instead. Could you please leave a truckload of coal at the doorstep of the White House on Christmas Eve? He's been a very bad boy!

Signed,

Bill Corcoran



POST UPDATED TO INCLUDE THIS VIDEO - 12/23/07 8:42 PM EST