Wednesday, December 3, 2008

Eliot Spitzer Is Now A Columnist For Slate


This amuses me so much. Formerly disgraced Governor Spitzer wrote a column for Slate today. This is going to be the first of many, according to the City Room Blog at the New York Times via The New York Observer, because Jacob Weinsberg, the editor-in-chief of the Slate group, has been trying to get him to do it for months now. Spitzer will be writing a regular column titled The New Policy.

I think this is a great idea because this former attorney general will have a lot to say about what is currently happening in Wall Street during this economic crunch. His first column is about why he does not believe the government should continue to bail out giant financial institutions, especially since the tough times we are in now could be attributed to them. The column goes on in great detail, though frankly, I am not too interested in it– it's just not something I want to read about. But I do believe it is important that someone with great authority on legal and financial matters have insight on this issue, and Governor Spitzer seems to be the person.

(Image courtesy of Getty Images)

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

Bombs Kill At Least 32 Iraqis in Baghdad and Mosul


I was greatly alarmed by this article in the New York Times today written by Katherine Zoepf. It reports that there have been suicide bombings in Baghdad and Mosul on Monday, robbing the lives of at least 32 Iraqis. Zoepf also writes that this degree of violence recalls the unstable times before the U.S. troop buildup in 2007, and has not been seen since the military surge had since reportedly stabilized this region.

Though Zoepf described how a suicide bomber, who looked to be about 16, detonated himself in a crowd at a police training academy in Baghdad, what really caught my attention was the image she painted of the after effects of the suicide attack. She wrote:

About an hour after the attack, pools of blood lay coagulating on the pavement among scattered sandals and combat boots, one of which contained a bloodstained black sock enveloping a piece of a foot.


I literally flinched when I read that because the horror didn't really strike me until I could see that incredibly vivid image in my head. Earlier, in the above paragraphs, "At least 15 people were killed in the explosions," was written and that did not even phase me. I really am ashamed to learn that I am numbed by the many reports of bombings and killings that happen in Iraq– it has all become simply numbers to me. It actually takes a literal description of a scene in order for me to fully comprehend the horror of this event. I hate that this happened, but I am glad I was able to recognize it so quickly instead of remaining unaware of my desensitized feelings towards all these atrocities.

The article moves on to Mosul, which has previously been cited as one of the most dangerous place to be in Iraq. A suicide car bomber had killed at least 17 people, most of whom where civilians, during an attack on a joint American-Iraqi convoy. This is such a discouraging event, especially since the Iraqi Parliament had recently approved last week a security agreement that promises the leave of American troops b the end of 2011. Zoepf also noted that these attacks might be in anticipation the provincial elections that are scheduled on January 31st.

The way she piled all these facts on top of each other gave me a sense of foreboding, like since we have agreed to pull out by 2011, these suicide bombers (who are suspected to be linked to insurgents of Al Qaeda or Sunni extremist groups, though there is no confirmation yet) are just bidding their time until the Americans vacate this bloodied land.

One thing that stuck out was how a man, who remained anonymous, said that all the suicide bombers are simply trying to target Americans, and have subsequently end up killing the Iraqi soldiers who are with them. "All of our troubles are because of the Americans," he said.

I honestly don't know what to make of this. Though the words on the page are emotionless, I could just sense so much anger, confusion, and hurt emulating from this entire article. Iraq, a country that has degenerated no thanks to us (but could we argue it is because of us? I really don't know enough about this), is in the middle of a finger-pointing blame game. Iran, United States; Al Qaeda insurgents, Sunni extremists– there is just too much hate to go around.

In order to find out more about this incident, I went on the Times' Baghdad Bureau's blog, and Abeer Mohammed, an Iraqi journalist who was on the scene of the Baghdad bombing to report it to Zoepf wrote an entry about the bloodied boot that so affected me.

At the end of entry, her words resonated with the thoughts I am left with this article:

At the scene one policeman said to me, with anger: "Maliki and his Iranian advisers are the reason for all this Iraqi blood."

But blaming everyone in the world will not get back one drop of blood to one body of those victims.


I would like to finish with an old Daily Show interview of Lara Logan, who is the Chief Foreign Correspondent for CBS. Some of the facts said in this interview may be a little outdated, but I wanted to point out that at one point, Jon Stewart said, "It's as though we've become numb. I mean, there were 51 people killed today, in a Shi'ite neighborhood in Iraq — are we just numb? Have we lost our humanity with this entire situation?"

To which Logan replies that she feels very responsible for the fact that the American public are not aware of how bad the situation is in Iraq and Afghanistan. She said, "That's what I feel responsible for: that nobody really understands, and the soldiers do feel forgotten... we may be tired of hearing about this 5 years later, they still have to go out and do the same job."

Since this interview aired in June, Logan has met with a bit of a personal scandal. However, it still does not remove from the fact that she is a kickass journalist and a straight talker. I just absolutely admire her for putting it out there that Americans are just desensitized to the war coverage in Iraq and Afghanistan, when the fact of the matter is we should be fully involved and aware of what's going on across the ocean.