Muqtada al-Sadr’s ministers leave the Maliki government, saying they tried and failed to get Maliki to demand a timetable for American withdrawal from Iraq. No doubt someone on the right will spin this as a positive development for the USA since it now affords us the chance of a Sadrist-free government in Baghdad and may give them a chance to restart a 2004-style two-front war in Baghdad. I’m not optimistic.
At least 22 people were fatally shot today on the campus of Virginia Tech University, the AP reports, while 28 people are believed to be injured. The suspected gunman is also reportedly dead.
UPDATE: On Deadline has breaking updates.
UPDATE II: The AP is reporting that this incident is the “deadliest campus shooting in U.S. history.”
UPDATE III: According to Fox News, federal sources are reporting at least 32 people dead and 29 injured.
UPDATE IV: The Collegiate Times, a student-run Virginia Tech publication, has running updates.
UPDATE V: The five emails sent to students today at Virginia Tech.
Over the weekend, Sen. Chuck Hagel (R-NE) visited Iraq, his fifth visit to the country. He held a press conference yesterday where he reminded reporters that the U.S. commitment was never intended to be “open-ended,” adding, “We can’t continue to stay in Iraq the way we are.”
Hagel also took a jab at the recent trip by Rep. Mike Pence (R-IN) and Sens. John McCain (R-AZ) and Lindsey Graham (R-SC), stating, “We did no shopping while we were here.” Watch it:
In a press conference after his Baghdad tour, McCain told a reporter that his visit to the market was proof that you could indeed “walk freely” in some areas of Baghdad. Graham noted that he “bought five rugs for five bucks” and Pence said the Shorja market “was just like any open-air market in Indiana in the summertime.”
CNN’s John Roberts summed up Hagel’s dig at McCain: “I didn’t go to the Shorja market with 100 soldiers around me and helicopters overhead and snipers on the roof.”
Transcript: Read more
A reading writes in to note that in today’s New York Times alone you can find researches with Human Rights Watch noted as important sources for articles on election fraud in Nigeria, and on Taliban War crimes in Afghanistan. Yesterday, we had HRW getting media play in an article on the violent suppression of a peaceful protest in Russia. And, of course, back on April 1 HRW was cited in a story about Guantanamo Bay.
In short, Human Rights Watch is, for better or for worse, fighting the good fight for human rights consistently and around the world. Nevertheless, the right has consistently tried to foster the impression that the human rights community’s criticisms of US policies in Guantanamo and regarded detentions more generally are fostered by hostility to the United States. Such groups also stand accused of “ignoring” human rights violations in whatever country happens to be the right-wing’s designated Enemy of the Month. In fact, however, both these strains of argumentation would only appear credible to people who didn’t have any actual concern for human rights and therefore remained studiously ignorant of what actually goes on in the world and who does what to bring attention to it. People like, well, conservative hectorers whose interest in the subject extends precisely as far as it’s useful to generate support for starting wars.
Greg Sargent highlights some neglected material from a new CBS poll (PDF) released over the weekend. In particular, by a margin of 49-44 voters say congress rather than the White House should “have the final say about troop levels in Iraq.” What’s more, 58 percent of voters say congress should fund the war only with a timeline for withdrawal. Yet, somehow, you won’t see the press — or many congressional Democrats — acting like this is true.