Thursday, April 19, 2007

Other Items

Today, the US military announced: "A Task Force Marne Soldier died in Baghdad Tuesday of non-battle injuries."

Two things not getting attention were noted by Maria (I passed them on to Mike and Elaine who commented at their sites yesterday):

"Group: 230 University Professors Killed So Far In Iraq" (Democracy Now!):
Two professors from Mosul University were murdered on Monday - the same day as the Virginia Tech mass shooting. The school's dean of political science was shot as he walked through the university gate. A second professor was killed in front of his home. The International Committee of Solidarity with Iraqi Professors estimates that over 230 university professors have been killed since the Iraq war started. 56 are reported missing and more than 3,000 others have fled the country. Schools in Iraq have also been targets of frequent attacks. In January at least 70 people died in a double suicide bombing at Baghdad's Mustansiriya University. Another suicide bomber struck the school in February killing 40 more students, faculty and staff.

"UN Holds Conference on Iraqi Refugees" (Democracy Now!):
[. . .]
* Angelo Gnaedinger: "Bombings, suicide attacks, shootings, abductions, murders, the destruction of civilian property and forced displacements are a daily reality for millions of Iraqis. In this dreadful situation and after years of violence, one wonders if a single Iraqi family has been spared human and material loss and their accompanying physical and psychological scars."
Meanwhile Iraqi officials are now estimating the war has produced 900,000 orphans.

The second item is edited to emphasize the last point made -- the illegal "war has produced 900,000 orphans." Remember that and pair it with IRIN's "Doctors warn of summer dehydration among children and the elderly:"

Doctors are warning of a possible increase in diseases among children and the elderly as Iraq’s hot summer months begin. Dehydration, cholera and bacterial infections are of the greatest concern, they say.
"The sewage and electrical systems in Iraq have completely deteriorated, worsening the situation, especially for children, as summer begins," said Dr Ibraheem Kaduri, a paediatrician at the Children Teaching Hospital in the capital, Baghdad.
Iraqis get less than eight hours of electricity a day and during summer, some cities or districts of the capital get less than six hours. Kaduri said that many people, especially those in displacement camps, have no access to drinking water. Children are forced to drink less water and as the weather gets hotter, they become dehydrated.
"But we can’t forget that children could also drink dirty water from rivers to quench their thirst, and with the contaminated water, they can be susceptible to diseases like cholera and diarrhoea," he said. "These children have no access to ventilators and air coolers and with temperatures sometimes reaching 48 to 50 degrees Celsius, it could be disastrous for them."

Equally disastrous for Iraqis is the depleted uranium and other chemical weapons used in their country by the United States. Those chemicals the US elected to use (the same that many suspect led to US service members getting Gulf War Syndrome during the first Gulf War) remain in Iraq. From "Insecurity and lack of funds prevent cleansing of polluted sites" (IRIN):

According to specialists, the number of cancer cases has increased dramatically over the past five years, partly as a result of exposure to polluted materials during wars over the past 25 years.
"We see more than six new cases of cancer in our hospital per week. Years ago, we were treating about 4,000 patients per year but in the past three years, the number has jumped to more than 9,000 cases a year," Bassima Jua'ad, oncologist at the Cancer Radiation Hospital in the capital, said.
"The most worrying thing is that dozens of those patients have been exposed to radiation in different forms. Some were living near polluted sites, others were children during the last wars who played near dangerous sites and now the effects are appearing on them or in their children," she added.

Meanwhile Polly notes this from BBC:

The death of eight UK servicemen in an US helicopter crash at the start of the Iraq conflict was due to mechanical failure, a coroner has ruled.
Andrew Walker's view goes against a US finding that pilot error was to blame. The commandos died along with four US marines in Kuwait on 21 March 2003.
The Oxford coroner said it was "unacceptable" the US had failed to release evidence about the incident.
Relatives of the Britons said the lack of co-operation added to their grief.

The names of the UK service members who died in the March 2003 crash are:

John Cecil
Philip Guy
Sholoto Hedenskog
Mark Stratford
Jason Ward
Ian Seymour
Les Hehir
Llwelyn Evans

It should be noted that the US government has also been less than forthcoming with the Italian government in what's known as the Calipari-Sgrena Debacle. Yesterday, Iraq announced it would pledge $25 million to Syria and Jordan since the latter two countries are housing many displaced Iraqis. In other economic news, Lloyd notes Steven Mufson and Robin Wright's "In a Major Step, Saudi Arabia Agrees to Write Off 80 Percent of Iraqi Debt" (Washington Post):

Saudi Arabia has agreed to forgive 80 percent of the more than $15 billion that Iraq owes the kingdom, Iraqi and Saudi officials said yesterday, a major step given Saudi reluctance to provide financial assistance to the Shiite-dominated government in Baghdad.
But Iraqi Finance Minister Bayan Jabr said in an interview that
Russia was holding out on debt forgiveness until talks begin on concessions that Russian oil and gas companies had under Saddam Hussein. Russian Embassy officials in Washington declined to comment late yesterday.

In they-keep-saying-the-war-wasn't-about-oil-news, Ed Crooks (Financial Times of London) reports:

Iraq could hold almost twice as much oil in its reserves as had been thought, according to the most comprehensive independent study of its resources since the US-led invasion in 2003.
The potential presence of a further 100bn barrels in the western desert highlights the opportunity for Iraq to be one of the world’s biggest oil suppliers, and its attractions for international oil companies -- if the conflict in the country can be resolved.

If confirmed, it would raise Iraq from the world’s third largest source of oil reserves with 116bn barrels to second place, behind Saudi Arabia and overtaking Iran.

And remember that KPFA is providing live broadcast of The Alberto Gonzales Show.


Who can approve torture with a smile?
Who can take the rule of law
And suddenly make it just fade away?
Well it's you, Albie, and you should know it
With each glance and every little movement, you show it
Hate is all around
No need to find it
You can destroy a town
And you wouldn't mind it
You're going to shred the Constitution after all.

Theme song and illustration via The Third Estate Sunday Review (and theme is send up of "Love Is All Around" -- theme to The Mary Tyler Moore Show). Alberto live on KPFA. Larry Bensky is anchoring the Senate testimony.

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