Sunday, April 02, 2006

NYT: Could someone explain the difference between 'casualty' and 'fatality' to Wong and Semple?

The war in Iraq has entered a bloodier phase, with the killings of Iraqi civilians rising tremendously in daily sectarian violence while American casualties have steadily declined, spurring tens of thousands of Iraqis to flee from mixed Shiite-Sunni areas.

The above is from Edward Wong and Kirk Semple's "Civilians in Iraq Flee Mixed Areas as Killings Rise" in this morning's New York Times. The Bully Boy needed chaos for "Baghdad Year Zero" (Naomi Klein, Harper's magazine) to work and he's gotten that every step of the way.

Demonstrating yet again the casual nature of Green Zone reporting, Wong and Semple state that "American casualities have steadily declined." That's incorrect and possibly due to not grasping the difference between "casualty" and "fatality." The figures at Iraq Coalition Casualities demonstrate that casualties are up (fatalities are down). From March 2nd to 28th, the "Wnd-RTD" figures (Wounded-Returned to Duty) are 293 (check my math -- 44, 67, 96, 86) compared to 115 "Wnd-RTD" for the entire year of 2003 (March to December of 2003). Wounded (not returned) from March 2nd to the 28th is 182. For 2003 (March to December) the same category (for ten months) resulted in 426.

"Fatality" refers to death. "Casualty" refers to injury.

From David Zucchino's "Bringing Back the Wounded With Heart, Soul and Surgery" (Los Angeles Times):

Many of the most seriously wounded would have died in previous wars. In Vietnam, soldiers often bled to death before reaching a hospital. Because the wounded in Iraq are evacuated so quickly, 96% of those who make it alive to the Balad and Baghdad hospitals are saved.
On the battlefield, medics are better-prepared. The lowliest grunt is given specialized lifesaver training, particularly in the use of tourniquets to control bleeding. New blood-clotting agents and improved field bandages have helped save lives.Despite the destructive force of roadside bombs, the rate of wounded who die is lower in Iraq than for any war in U.S. history. Since the war began three years ago, about 10% of those wounded have died of their injuries, according to the Pentagon, down from 24% during the Vietnam War and 30% during World War II. The highest lethality rate was 42%, during the Revolutionary War.
In 2005, the number of wounded in Iraq increased by 1,200 from a year earlier. Yet the number of dead remained virtually the same, 844 versus 848 in 2004, dropping the lethality rate from 9.6% to 8.4%. Just over half of those wounded have returned to duty.
[. . .]
The amputation rate in Iraq is double that of previous wars. Many soldiers face the rest of their lives without arms or legs, or with severe brain damage. Even for the wounded who will walk again, and perhaps return to battle, the physical damage, and the psychological scars, last forever.

I'd argue that Semple and Wong need to practice a little less Operation Happy Talk regarding life on the ground in Iraq for American troops and a little more reality. That may, however, be too harsh. It may be as simple as them not grasping the difference between "casualty" and "fatality" and not bothering to check the figures for themselves. The "Wnd-RTD" figure for 2005 was 3946 and if we had twelve months of the figure (March 2nd to March 28th) of 293 that would result in a total for the year of 3516. 430 less. (Check my math.) That's nothing to cheer about, nor anything to trumpet as having "steadily declined."

Another thing to keep mind, noted by Jonathan Finer in "U.S. Troop Fatalities Hit A Low; Iraqi Deaths Soar" (Washington Post):

The March numbers could still rise because the military sometimes does not report deaths until several days after they occur.

Life's quite a bit easier for the war mongers though Condi Rice is experiencing difficulties on her European trip. From Joel Brinkley's "Rice Finds British Muslims Want to Give Her an Earful" (New York Times):

Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice faced more protests and public embarrassment here on Saturday that have turned a trip meant to be a friendly follow-up to an American trip by Foreign Secretary Jack Straw into a two-day run through a raucous, mishap-ridden gantlet.

The article refers to 21 Muslim leaders in England that she met with (it did not go well for Condi) and to protests where the participants are not identified. For instance, at Blackburn's City Hall 250 are said to have shown up and chanted "Shame on you!" If the headline writer has information on the religious identities of the 250 (or others demonstrating against Rice), it's not shared in the article. But it is a way to attempt to marginalize the opposition by suggesting that criticism and protest is only coming from one group. The Associated Press reported that Blackburn's population is twenty percent Muslim. They did not, however, attempt to characterize the 250 demonstrators. The Washington Post headline on this story makes a nod to the Beatles, not to religion. Glenn Kessler's "Rice Hears The News Today, Oh Boy" notes that Blackburn was the city of "400 holes" noted in the Beatles "A Day In The Life" (Lennon & McCartney). (For anyone scratching their heads, the song opens with "I read the news today, oh boy.") The article notes "300 demonstrators," not 250. The article has a mistake Beatles fan will note:

In "A Day in the Life," John Lennon sings, "I read the news today, oh boy, 4,000 holes in Blackburn, Lancashire."

John Lennon does not sing those two lines with one following the other. The lines are "I heard the news today, oh boy, 4,000 holes in Blackburn, Lancashire." "I heard the news" begins the seven final lines of the song.

The song does open with "I read the news today, oh boy" and is immediately followed by "about a lucky man who made the grade." For the Post to be correct, the passage would have to read:

In "A Day in the Life," John Lennon sings, "I read the news today, oh boy [. . .] 4,000 holes in Blackburn, Lancashire."

The line preceeding "4,000 holes" in "I heard the news today, oh boy" not "I read the news today, oh boy."

Skip e-mails to note a highlight. He titled the e-mail "Urgent Highlight." He said he wasn't sure it would be something for tonight's "And the war drags on . . ." entry and asks that we note it this morning. From Richard Phillips' "Australian Web Site Forced To Shut Down" (Melbourne Indymedia):

One week before the third anniversary of the criminal invasion and occupation of Iraq, the Australian government forced the closure of a satirical web site that powerfully exposed several key lies told by Prime Minister John Howard to justify participation in the US-led war.
Authored by Richard Neville, former editor of Oz magazine--a well-known satirical publication that challenged British censorship laws in the 1960s--the suspended after a high-level intervention by the prime minister’s department and the federal police.
The web site consisted of an "apology speech" from Howard in which the prime minister announces that he is reversing his support for the invasion of Iraq. It cites several Howard speeches, including an address to the Institute of Public Affairs in May 2004 when he claimed that hospitals, electricity, water, sewerage and other basic services were being restored to ordinary Iraqis.
In the "speech", the prime minister claims that he is now "a troubled citizen" and that all US-led forces should withdraw as soon as possible so that the Iraqi people can "regain control of their future".
Although the site remains blocked, the speech is now available as a pdf at "John Howard's apology: reflections of the situation in Iraq" Posted on March 13, the site received over 10,500 hits in a little over 24 hours before it encountered unexplained "technical difficulties".
Neville contacted Yahoo!, which maintained for several days that it was looking into "technical problems". On March 16 he phoned Melbourne IT and one of its representatives admitted that Greg Williams from the People, Resources and Communication Division of the Department of Prime Minister and Cabinet had ordered the site's domain name be suspended, effectively shutting down the site.

The Third Estate Sunday Review is on a break so I can write this entry. We have five items completed. (The TV review is not one of them.) After this publishes (ten to twenty-five minutes), we have Isaiah's latest The World Today Just Nuts. While that's publishing, new content should begin appearing at The Third Estate Sunday Review if it hasn't already. (It hadn't when we went on break.) Trina posted yesterday and her latest is "Tortilla Soup in the Kitchen." (Cedric and Rebecca both also posted late Saturday. Rebecca, in fact, also posted images this morning that will be used in the latest edition of The Third Estate Sunday Review.)

And remember this item that Ruth noted yesterday:

Sunday (Sunday at 9:00 a.m. Pacific time, 11:00 a.m. Central, and noon Eastern time) on KPFA:

In our first hour...
A wholesome group of Christians serving God through policy, or a dangerously shortsighted, ideologically extreme administration selling empire wrapped in the Bible? Former Republican strategist Kevin Phillips joins us to discuss his new book, "American Theocracy: The Peril and Politics of Radical Religion, Oil, and Borrowed Money in the 21st Century."
In our second hour...
The story of Vietnam War resistance WITHIN the military is largely untold. David Zeiger has made the first film to tell about it; "Sir! No, Sir!" is now screening around the country, including a run this coming week in the Bay Area. Zeiger joins us, along with two Vietnam veterans/resisters profiled in his film.Listen to past shows, get contact and reference info for guests, see announcements of upcoming programs, and more at:

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