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March Madness: or the amazing disappearing story

Message Terry Ballard
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On March 23, a story in my Google news feed caught my eye. The Deputy Prime Minister of Iraq, Salam al-Zubai,  was injured in a suicide bombing that killed a number of people including his brother. He was in a U.S. hospital, and said to be not stabilized. This sounded pretty important, so we were surprised, to say the least, when this was not covered on that night's news - not even by Keith Olbermann. I checked online later on in the weekend, and found that he survived the attacks, but the only news came from foreign sources such as the BBC.

In one of these stories, it was reported that the U.S. ambassador to Iraq condemned the bombing, but there was no statement that I could find from Condoleezza Rice, none from Dick Cheney, and no mention of this by George W. Bush. This seems odd, given that we care so much about Iraq and its government that we have sacrificed thousands of our troops and spent hundreds of billions of dollars. That was curious.

Then it got curiouser. When I went to work on Monday morning, I checked the news transcripts on Lexis-Nexis Universe and confirmed that this attack was very lightly covered by the American news media. Clearly this story made somebody uncomfortable. Now that the story is a week old, the same search in Lexis finds no mention at all of the Deputy PM - not even coverage of his ascendancy last May. I searched the New York Times and Washington Post websites and also got zero hits for Mr. al-Zaubai. I started to doubt myself - is the number two politician in Iraq a figment of my imagination (and that of the foreign press)?

Fortunately, I could turn to the CIA World Factbook and read this:


chief of state: President Jalal TALABANI (since 6 April 2005); Vice Presidents Adil ABD AL-MAHDI and Tariq al-HASHIMI (since 22 April 2006); note - the president and vice presidents comprise the Presidency Council)
head of government: Prime Minister Nuri al-MALIKI (since 20 May 2006); Deputy Prime Ministers Barham SALIH and Salam al-ZUBAI (since 20 May 2006)
cabinet: 37 ministers appointed by the Presidency Council, plus Prime Minister Nuri al-MALIKI, and Deputy Prime Ministers Barham SALIH and Salam al-ZUBAI






Also, we found this in

UNITED NATIONS, March 23 (Xinhua) -- UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon was shocked and dismayed to hear that the Iraqi Deputy Prime Minister Salam Z. Al-Zubai had been injured in an assassination attempt earlier Friday.

    In a statement released by his spokesperson, Ban said he met with Al-Zubai in Baghdad on Thursday and greatly valued the opportunity to hear Al-Zubai's views on the current situation in Iraq.

    He reiterated his admiration for the Deputy Prime Minister's readiness to serve Iraq at a great personal risk, and offering his condolences for those who were killed and injured in the attack and wishing him a full and speedy recovery from his injuries.

   I grew up in a world where we didn't have to get the truth from sources in China - it would have been unthinkable.  You can also read about this matter in Al-Jazeerah. Lastly, it's all there in Wikipedia.


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Terry Ballard was a native of Phoenix, Arizona until he made a wrong turn in 1990 - he has been living on Long Island ever since. His chief regret in life is that he does not have the option to live on some other planet.
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