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November 20, 2007

AFP Notes Improved Security, Too

Not that it matters. Harry Reid told us the war is lost.

The gaudy orange, green and purple electronic palm trees flashing in the dark alert you that you're getting close to one of Baghdad's bustling nightspots.

The palms, like a mirage, can be seen from way down the darkened streets, lighting up the night and giving a promise of normality in the otherwise bleak and deserted capital, ravaged by four years of insurgency and sectarian strife.

And then, suddenly, you've arrived and the mirage has become an oasis of generator-driven light; a colourful jumble of trendy juice bars, cosy restaurants, fruit shops, roadside eateries and fish vendors, where children play, families dine and lovers meet.

"Even two or three months ago we would have been afraid to come here at night," said 20-year-old Hussein Salah, an off-duty soldier, slurping a milkshake with his wife, Shihad, at the Mishmesha (apricot) juice bar in Baghdad's relatively safe Karrada suburb.

"Now we sometimes sit outside here till one or two in the morning. It is quite safe. The security situation is vastly improved," said Salah, the orange light from a nearby flashing palm alternatively brightening and dimming his clean-shaven face.

Declines in Iraqi civilian casualties and a sharp reduction in bomb and mortar attacks have sparked optimism that the capital is at last starting to revive.

This article from the AP is too biased not to link:

Violence is down 55 percent in Iraq since a U.S.-Iraqi security operation began this summer, U.S. officials said Sunday, even as at least 15 Iraqis were reported killed in bombings and shootings.

The dead included three children who were killed as they gathered around American troops who were handing out toys and sports equipment.

Just to be Captain Obvious, the "even as" construction attempts to cast doubt on the statement that "violence is down 55 percent" by noting the US claimed this "even as" bombings and shootings killed 15. But obviously it's not a contradiction of that claim -- if violence is down 55 percent then violence is down 55 percent, and it is irrelevant to that statistic whether or not recent shootings and bombings claimed 15 lives. The AP, however, is pushing the idea that maybe that statistic didn't take into account the new deaths, and that, somehow, those 15 deaths would impact the statistic in a meaningful fashion. This is a bit like saying "President Bush claimed the unemployment rate had fallen to 4.4%, even as a Schenectady dentistry student worried about his future employment prospects." But that is, of course, their "narrative" and they're not giving it up anytime soon.

They're also a bit cagey on the whole "even as" timing issue -- okay, smart guys, when exactly did these attacks occur? How recently as regards the statement?


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posted by Ace at 12:54 PM

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