Wednesday, October 11, 2006

Other Items

Militiamen firing mortars detonated a U.S. ammunition dump in Baghdad on Tuesday night, sparking a barrage of explosions that continued to shake the capital on Wednesday morning, a U.S. military spokesman said.
Residents said the blasts were reminiscent of the aerial bombardment of Baghdad that preceded the U.S. invasion of Iraq in 2003.
A mortar round fired from the Abu Dsheer area of southern Baghdad caused the fire in an ammunition holding area in Camp Falcon, a forward operating base for U.S. troops, that ignited tank, artillery and small-arms ammunition, the spokesman said.
"Intelligence indicates that civilians aligned with a militia organisation were responsible for last night's mortar attack," said Lieutenant Colonel Jonathan Withington, spokesman for the U.S. 4th Infantry Division.
Withington said there were no reports of casualties among soldiers on the base or Iraqi civilians in neighbouring districts.

The above is from Reuter's "Militia attack ignites US ammo dump in Iraq." Staying with Reuters, we'll note Patricia Reaney's "Study estimates 655,000 Iraqi deaths due to invasion:"

American and Iraqi public health experts have calculated that about 655,000 Iraqis have died as a result of the March 2003 U.S.-led invasion and subsequent violence, far above previous estimates.
Researchers used household interviews rather than body counts to estimate how many more Iraqis had died because of the war than used to die annually in peacetime.
"We estimate that as a consequence of the coalition invasion of March 18, 2003, about 655,000 Iraqis have died above the number that would be expected in a non-conflict situation," said Gilbert Burnham of the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health in the United States.
That means 2.5 percent of the Iraqi population have died because of the invasion and ensuing strife, he said.

The study will be discussed, dismissed and who knows what else? For those interested in reading it themselves, it's available (PDF format) here (at The Lancet). Near the end of the report, the researchers note: "At the conclusion of our 2004 study we urged that an independent body assess the excess mortality that we saw in Iraq. That has not happened."

No, it hasn't. The 2004 report was slammed by a number of War Hawks and Boosters but no attempt was made to address the issue. Unless, possibly, the body count kept by the US military is supposed to be seen as a response? The US military has been keeping a body count. Nancy A. Youssef broke the news on that. It's an undercount to be sure and it's been kept since the start of the illegal war (not since July 2005 as they now maintain -- when reporters even bother to ask them about it). But those who want to rip into The Lancet report might be better off demanding that the US military release that count.

The latest report goes on to conclude: "We continue to believe that an independent international body to monitor compliance with the Genever Conventions and other humanitarian standards in conflict is urgently needed. With reliable data, those voices that speak out for civilians trapped in conflict might be able to lessen the tragic human cost of future wars."

So those who dismissed the original finding and want to dismiss this one might better serve the public by (a) calling for what the report is calling for and (b) demanding that the US military release their undercount. There will, no doubt, be a third study released at this rate because too many still don't want to discuss the war.

If you doubt that, see who in the media today will discuss the US military body count? See if anyone notes the work of Nancy A. Youssef's "U.S.: Civilian deaths feeding insurgency," Aaron Glantz' "Pentagon: Tell Us How Many Civilians You've Killed" and/or Juliana Lara Resende's "50,000 Dead, But Who's Counting?". Sabrina Tavernise's "Iraqi Dead May Total 600,000, Study Says" (New York Times) tells the most truth the mainstream's told on this since Youssef broke the story (it was still Knight Ridder when she broke the story). See if anyone else steps up to the plate. (But don't make any bets you can't afford to lose.)


While some rush in to dismiss the study, to dispute and to degrade it (people who've shown no interest in Iraqi fatalities and casualties thus far), the war drags on. With a look at one family effected, Lloyd notes Dan Morse's "In Marine's Death, Clues to a Son's Life" (Washington Post):

Gilda Carbonaro pulled her car to a stop inside Arlington National Cemetery, stepping out to visit the freshly dug grave of her only child, Alex.
With her was a broad-shouldered Marine, limping from a leg shattered in battle, who towered a foot over Gilda. The Marine hadn't known Alex well but held precious clues about the person he had become.

Gilda had many questions. She and her husband had raised Alex in a world different from the military's -- the protected streets of Bethesda. Alex graduated from a Quaker high school, then stunned them by enlisting in the Marine Corps.
Gilda trusted he would serve out his initial five-year commitment, come home and go to college. Instead, he reenlisted, earning a spot in one of the Marines' elite reconnaissance units, called Recon, which operate deep inside enemy territory. That took Alex on two tours in Iraq, a war Gilda had spent two years trying to end.
On May 1, a roadside bomb tore through Alex's Humvee, setting him and two of his men on fire. He died 10 days later in a military hospital in Germany in the arms of his mom, his dad, his wife of not quite 12 months and his mother-in-law.
Alex remains the only service member listed from Bethesda killed in Iraq or Afghanistan. He was 28.

2753 and 39. What are those numbers? Starting with the latter, 39 is the number of US troops killed in Iraq thus far this month. (We're on the eleventh day of October for anyone just waking up this morning.) 2753 is the number of US troops killed in Iraq since the start of the illegal war. 655,000 is the estimated number of Iraqis who have died since the start of illegal war. Expect all the numbers to continue to climb as reality is avoided by War Hawks, War Boosters, and those who make themselves useless.

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