Tuesday, June 21, 2005

"They send only bombs, not medicine" (Dahr Jamail's "Iraqi Hospials Ailing Under Occupation")

In November, shortly after razing Nazzal Emergency Hospital to the ground, US forces entered Fallujah General Hospital, the city's only healthcare facility for trauma victims, detaining employees and patients alike.  According to medics on the scene, water and electricity were "cut off," ambulances confiscated, and surgeons, without exception, kept out of the besieged city.
Many doctors in Iraq believe that, more widely, the lack of assistance, if not outright hostility, by the US military, coupled with the lack of rebuilding and reconstruction by foreign contractors has compounded the problems they are facing.
According to Agence France-Presse, the former ambassador of Iraq Paul Bremer admitted that the US led coalition spending on the Iraqi Health system was inadequate.  "It's not nearly enough to cover the needs in the healthcare field,"  said Bremer when referring to the amount of money the coalition was spending for the healthcare system in occupied Iraq.
When asked if his hospital had received assistance from the US military or reconstruction contractors, Dr. Sarmad Raheem, the administrator of chief doctors at Al-Kerkh Hospital in Baghdad said, "Never ever.  Some soldiers came here five months ago and asked what we needed.  We told them and they never brought us one single needle. . .  We heard that some people from the CPA came here, but they never did anything for us.
At Fallujah General Hospital, Dr. Mohammed said there has been virtually no assistance from foreign contractors, and of the US military he commented,  "They send only bombs, not medicine."
The above is from Dahr Jamail's "Iraqi Hospitals Ailing Under Occupation" a thirty-eight page report (the above is from page four) in pdf form.  It will be "submitted as evidence to the Jury of conscience during the culminating session of the World Tribunal on Iraq ... Istanbul, 23-27 June."
And currently?  Riverbend has a new post at Baghdad Burning:
What people find particularly frustrating is the fact that while Baghdad seems to be falling apart in so many ways with roads broken and pitted, buildings blasted and burnt out and residential areas often swimming in sewage, the Green Zone is flourishing. The walls surrounding restricted areas housing Americans and Puppets have gotten higher- as if vying with the tallest of date palms for height. The concrete reinforcements and road blocks designed to slow and impede traffic are now a part of everyday scenery- the road, the trees, the shops, the earth, the sky… and the ugly concrete slabs sometimes wound insidiously with barbed wire.

The price of building materials has gone up unbelievably, in spite of the fact that major reconstruction has not yet begun. I assumed it was because so much of the concrete and other building materials was going to reinforce the restricted areas. A friend who recently got involved working with an Iraqi subcontractor who takes projects inside of the Green Zone explained that it was more than that. The Green Zone, he told us, is a city in itself. He came back awed, and more than a little bit upset. He talked of designs and plans being made for everything from the future US Embassy and the housing complex that will surround it, to restaurants, shops, fitness centers, gasoline stations, constant electricity and water- a virtual country inside of a country with its own rules, regulations and government. Ladies and gentlemen, welcome to the Republic of the Green Zone, also known as the Green Republic.

“The Americans won’t be out in less than ten years.” Is how the argument often begins with the friend who has entered the Green Republic. “How can you say that?” Is usually my answer- and I begin to throw around numbers- 2007, 2008 maximum… Could they possibly want to be here longer? Can they afford to be here longer? At this, T. shakes his head- if you could see the bases they are planning to build- if you could see what already has been built- you’d know that they are going to be here for quite a while.

The Green Zone is a source of consternation and aggravation for the typical Iraqi. It makes us anxious because it symbolises the heart of the occupation and if fortifications and barricades are any indicator- the occupation is going to be here for a long time. It is a provocation because no matter how anyone tries to explain or justify it, it is like a slap in the face. It tells us that while we are citizens in our own country, our comings and goings are restricted because portions of the country no longer belong to its people. They belong to the people living in the Green Republic.
Rob e-mails to note Tariq Ali's "Making the Noises Politicians Don't want to Hear" (from CounterPunch) on the protests at the upcoming G8 summits:
The increasingly isolated politicians and their embedded supporters in the media regard the millions who protest against the new order ­ against its economic dictates and its wars in Afghanistan, Iraq and Palestine ­ as misguided young people at best, or at worst as potential terrorists. They do so because they have coalesced around a programme ­ deregulation, privatisation, "flexible" work hours and war where necessary.
This was spelt out with surgical precision by Bill Clinton's treasury secretary, Larry Summers (currently president of Harvard University where he is busy arguing that women are genetically incapable of becoming scientists, etc):  "The laws of economics are like the laws of engineering. There is only one set of laws and they work everywhere."

This is the mantra of politicians ­ centre-left and centre-right ­ who govern the Western world. They tell us that there is no alternative to the current system, thus reducing democracy and its institutions to a farce. Why then the glycerine tears over Africa? Why is that continent such a poignant sight? Why is Africa the last resort of scoundrel politicians and their hangers-on?

It was the same over a decade ago. A big fuss, a big spectacle but nothing changed. Why? Because there are structural causes and the structures at fault were created by the G8 and its forebears. The venal elites that rule most of Africa do so in alliance with giant corporations which milk the wealth of the country. The continent is rich in oil, gold and diamonds. It could fund its own recovery, but it has not been left alone and leaders who tried to change things were assassinated or removed. Regime-change is an old Western habit.

And we'll note this from the bottom of the article:  "Tariq Ali will be speakin gat the Make the G8 History rally at the Old Theatre, London School of Economics on Tue 28th June @ 6:30pm with George Monbiot, George Galloway MP and others."

Cedric e-mails to note "ACLU Says TSA Action on Secure Flight Shows Blatant Disregard for Privacy, Agency Violated Congressional Limits and Its Own Public Positions:"


The Department of Homeland Security’s Transportation Security Administration is set to disclose this week in the Federal Register that the agency has collected and stored personal data about airline travelers, despite a Congressional ban and promises from the agency that it would not do so. The American Civil Liberties Union today said the secret collection of personal data from private companies shows a complete disregard for the privacy of Americans, and said it shows that the Secure Flight program should not be launched because testing of commercial data using a more limited amount of data failed.

The agency is set to issue a revised "Privacy Impact Assessment" this week, as required under the Privacy Act of 1974. The statement in the Federal Register is expected to be retroactive; it will discuss how TSA failed to comply with its own promises to the public to safeguard actual passengers’ records used to test Secure Flight.

The following can be attributed to Timothy Sparapani, an ACLU Legislative Counsel:

"In a blatant disregard for restrictions set by Congress, and in violation of its own stated positions, TSA rounded up enormous amounts of personal data held in secret files compiled by private companies concerning unsuspecting travelers. The agency has been trying to calm public concerns about the privacy implications of this invasive program: meanwhile, they’ve been secretly gathering personal information, in violation of Congressional restrictions and behind our backs. Private data brokers’ records are notoriously riddled with errors."

Lastly, we'll note Christian Parenti's "Bolivia's Battle of Wills" (The Nation) which Rhonda e-mailed to highlight:


In many ways the first chapter in Bolivia's current season of political upheaval began here in the Chaparé during the 1990s, when the US-orchestrated drug war began targeting these new cocaleros and their openly socialist and indígenista trade unions. Known simply as the Six Federations, the cocaleros' unions function as a de facto state, mixing traditional Quechuan communitarian custom with more modern forms of political organizing. Though land is formally titled to individuals, it is really the Six Federations that collectively manage it. Cocaleros who do not cultivate their plots and refuse to participate in union and community struggles have their land repossessed and redistributed by the unions.

In the city hall of Villa Tunari, one of the damp little towns in the Chaparé, MAS party mayor Feliciano Mamani takes a break from meetings to explain the politics of the Chaparé. "The drug war is a political fight. It's about dismantling our union organizations," says Mamani, who came up through the ranks with Evo. "First they called us communists, then they called us narco-traffickers, now they call us terrorists."

To emphasize his point Mamani rolls up his pants to reveal his dented and blackened shin, where he took a canister of police tear gas five years ago. The wound exposed his bone and remained open and weeping until recently. As he explains the story of his injury, a gray Huey helicopter sweeps low and loud overhead.

For the past six years the Chaparé has been in the grip of a very-low-level guerrilla war and counterinsurgency: The military kills unarmed civilians, tortures detainees, uproots the cocaleros' crops and occasionally burns down their homesteads, while police and prosecutors jail union leaders and MAS officials on charges of drug trafficking and terrorism. So far, 150 MAS leaders have faced such charges, often based on evidence as flimsy as possession of coca or pamphlets by Che Guevara.

The e-mail address for this site is common_ills@yahoo.com.




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