The Washington Post reports Dozens killed in suicide bomb attacks in Baghdad. “Within the span of 10 minutes, two female suicide bombers blew themselves up in crowded Baghdad markets on Friday, killing dozens of people in the deadliest day in the Iraqi capital in months, according to U.S. and Iraqi officials… There were conflicting reports about the scale of the carnage. Iraqi police said 58 people were killed and 172 others were wounded, while the U.S. military reported 27 killed and more than 50 injured. The bombings took place in predominantly Shiite neighborhoods.”
“There were pieces of people everywhere. One was without a head, others were without arms. Some were dead and not moving, some were crawling,” said Jawad Kadim, 21, who sells birds in the market. “I closed my shop and I ran away. It’s getting worse and worse here. This is the fourth explosion.”
Meanwhile in northern Iraq, The New York Times reports Kurds’ power wanes as Arab anger rises.
The Kurds’ efforts to seize control of the oil-rich city of Kirkuk and to gain a more advantageous division of national revenues are uniting most Sunnis and many Shiites with Mr. Maliki’s government in opposition to the Kurdish demands.
For the United States, the diminution in Kurdish power is part of a larger problem of political divisiveness that has plagued its efforts to build a functioning government in Iraq. While several political parties can come together to address a particular issue, none can seem to form the lasting allegiances needed for actual governance.
The Kurds, with their pro-American outlook, were a natural ally. But now the Americans are increasingly placed in the uncomfortable position of choosing between the Kurds, whom they have long supported and protected, and the Iraqi Arabs, whose government the Americans helped create.
“‘In times of trouble, you get to know your enemies and your friends,’ counsels one Kurdish proverb. ‘The Kurds have no friends,’ answers another. Many Kurds fear the United States will betray them, as, they say, Washington and other foreign powers have in the past.” Houston Chronicle, March 21 2003.
The Guardian reports China arrests leading rights activist. “Chinese state security forces have arrested one of the country’s most prominent civil rights activists in an apparent crackdown on dissent ahead of the Olympics. Hu Jia – who used blogs, webcasts and video to expose human rights abuses – is expected to face charges of inciting subversion of state power, his lawyers said today. His formal arrest comes after he was seized by police from an apartment in east Beijing on December 27. In the month since, his wife, Zeng Jinyan, and their two-month-old daughter have been prevented from leaving their home or contacting outsiders.”
Bloomberg News reports Bats Die by the Thousands From Mystery Malady in Northeast U.S. “Thousands of bats are dying from an unknown illness in the northeastern U.S. at a rate that could cause extinction… At eight caves in New York and one in Vermont, scientists have seen bat populations plummet over two years. Most bats hibernate in the same cave every winter, keeping annual counts consistent. A cave that had 1,300 bats in January 2006 had 470 bats last year. It recently sheltered just 38. At another cave, more than 90 percent of about 15,500 bats have died since 2005, and two-thirds that remain now sleep near the cave’s entrance, where conditions are less hospitable. Scientists don’t know what’s causing the deaths”. The AP notes “The white fungus ring around bats’ noses is a symptom, but not necessarily the cause. For some unknown reason, the bats deplete their fat reserves and die months before they would normally emerge from hibernation.”
Remember tomorrow is Groundhog’s Day. The day where John McCain pops out of his dark hole, sees his shadow, and tells the nation there will be 100 more years of “surge”.