Monday, January 10, 2011

Peace and Falluja birth defects

All polite appeals to the formal systems of power will not end the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. We must physically obstruct the war machine or accept a role as its accomplice.
The moratorium on anti-war protests in 2004 was designed to help elect the Democratic presidential candidate, Sen. John Kerry. It was a foolish and humiliating concession. Kerry snapped to salute like a windup doll when he was nominated. He talked endlessly about victory in Iraq. He assured the country that he would not have withdrawn from Fallujah. And by the time George W. Bush was elected for another term the anti-war movement had lost its momentum. The effort to return Congress to Democratic control in 2006 and end the war in Iraq became another sad lesson in incredulity. The Democratic Party, once in the majority, funded and expanded the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. And Barack Obama in 2008 proved to be yet another advertising gimmick for the corporate and military elite. All our efforts to work within the political process to stop these wars have been abject and miserable failures. And while we wasted our time, tens of thousands of Iraqi, Afghan and Pakistani civilians, as well as U.S. soldiers and Marines, were traumatized, maimed and killed.
Either you are against war or you are not. Either you use your bodies to defy the war makers and weapons manufacturers until the wars end or you do not. Either you have the dignity and strength of character to denounce those who ridicule or ignore your core moral beliefs -- including Obama -- or you do not. Either you stand for something or you do not. And because so many in the anti-war movement proved to be weak and naive in 2004, 2006 and 2008 we will have to start over. This time we must build an anti-war movement that will hold fast. We must defy the entire system. We must acknowledge that it is not our job to help Democrats win elections. The Democratic Party has amply proved, by its failure to stand up for working men and women, its slavishness to Wall Street and its refusal to end these wars, that it cannot be trusted. We must trust only ourselves. And we must disrupt the system. The next chance, in case you missed the last one, to protest these wars will come Saturday, March 19, the eighth anniversary of the invasion of Iraq. Street demonstrations are scheduled in San Francisco, Los Angeles, Chicago, and Washington, D.C. You can find details on

The above is from Chris Hedges' "Even Lost Wars Make Corporations Rich" (Dandelion Salad) and Chris Hedges' new book is Death Of The Liberal Class. And we'll again note A.N.S.W.E.R. and the call for action:

March 19 is the 8th anniversary of the invasion and occupation of Iraq. Iraq today remains occupied by 50,000 U.S. soldiers and tens of thousands of foreign mercenaries.

The war in Afghanistan is raging. The U.S. is invading and bombing Pakistan. The U.S. is financing endless atrocities against the people of Palestine, relentlessly threatening Iran and bringing Korea to the brink of a new war.

While the United States will spend $1 trillion for war, occupation and weapons in 2011, 30 million people in the United States remain unemployed or severely underemployed, and cuts in education, housing and healthcare are imposing a huge toll on the people.

Actions of civil resistance are spreading.

On Dec. 16, 2010, a veterans-led civil resistance at the White House played an important role in bringing the anti-war movement from protest to resistance. Enduring hours of heavy snow, 131 veterans and other anti-war activists lined the White House fence and were arrested. Some of those arrested will be going to trial, which will be scheduled soon in Washington, D.C.

Saturday, March 19, 2011, the anniversary of the invasion of Iraq, will be an international day of action against the war machine.

Protest and resistance actions will take place in cities and towns across the United States. Scores of organizations are coming together. Demonstrations are scheduled for San Francisco, Los Angeles, Chicago, Washington, D.C., and more.

Click this link to endorse the March 19, 2011, Call to Action.

Still on peace, Peace Mom Cindy Sheehan interviews Yoko Ono for Cindy Sheehan's Soapbox and you can click on this post by Cindy to stream or you can click here for her Facebook page.

Bonnie notes Isaiah's The World Today Just Nuts "What Passes For Progress" went up last night. Today Law and Disorder Radio begins airing on WBAI at 9:00 am EST (around the country throughout the week) and Michael Ratner, Heidi Boghosian and Michael S. Smith address the issue of the hunger strike in the Ohio Super Max prison and they address the targeting of peace activists with activist Marueen Murphy and attorney Michael Deutsch. And we will close with Gene Clancy's "Evidence shows U.S. weapons cause birth defects in Fallujah, Iraq" (Workers World):

Zainab Abdul Latif moves wearily among her three children, wiping their foreheads and propping them up in their wheelchairs. “Every day, they need intensive care,” the 29-year-old Fallujah mother says. Neither her two sons, Amar, 5, and Moustafa, 3, or daughter, Mariam, 6, can walk or use their limbs. They speak two words — “mama, baba” — between them. All are in diapers.

Zainab is one of many faces of Fallujah’s battle aftermath. She is overwhelmed by a situation that she has no way to change. “They cannot eat or drink by themselves, and every day I have to take Mariam to the hospital. She is very sensitive to flu and regularly gets diarrhea and other ailments. The doctors have told me they are mentally [impaired] and have nerve paralysis. They say it is congenital. I really can’t take care of them like this and I need help.”(Guardian, Nov. 13)

Dr. Bassem Allah, the senior obstetrician who is chief custodian of Fallujah’s newborns, finds the cases both perplexing and disturbing. During medical school he had to search Iraq for a case study of an infant with a birth defect. “It was almost impossible during the 80s,” he told the Guardian. “Now, every day in my clinic or elsewhere in the hospital, there are large numbers of congenital abnormalities or cases of chronic tumors. Now, believe me, it’s like we are treating patients immediately after Hiroshima.”

Birth defect rates in Fallujah have become increasingly alarming over the past two years. In the first half of 2010 the number of monthly cases of serious abnormalities rose to unprecedented levels. In Fallujah’s general hospital, 15 percent of the 547 babies born in May had a chronic deformity, such as a neural-tube defect — which affects the brain and lower limbs — cardiac or skeletal abnormalities or cancers. (Guardian, Dec. 30) In addition to these conditions, research has shown startling increases in children born with cleft palates, multiple fingers and toes, encephalitis and leukemia.

The Dec. 30 Guardian reports that no other city in Iraq has anywhere near the same levels of reported abnormalities. Fallujah sees at least 11 times as many major defects in newborns as world averages, research shows.

The United States government, of course, denies that the appalling spike in birth defects in Fallujah has anything to do with its illegal and brutal invasion of Iraq and the U.S. assault that led to the virtual destruction of the city in 2004. Washington has quickly pointed out what it calls the lack of comprehensive scientific studies and claims that the unprecedented rise in birth defects is “anecdotal” and “inconclusive.”

As the new year began, however, the callous aplomb of the Pentagon war directors was shaken by a report published in the January issue of the International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health. The research confirms earlier estimates of the major, unexplained rise in cancers and chronic neural-tube, cardiac and skeletal defects in newborns. The authors found that malformations rose to unprecedented levels in the first half of 2010.

The report says Fallujah has been infected by a chronic environmental contaminant. It focuses on depleted uranium, used in weaponry during two U.S. assaults in 2004, as a possible contaminant. Depleted uranium has long been suspected as a deadly contaminant of battlefield areas going back to the first U.S.-Iraq war. (See “Metal of Dishonor,” 1999, 2nd ed.)

The report acknowledges that other battlefield residues may also be responsible for the defects: “Many known war contaminants have the potential to interfere with normal embryonic and fetal development. The devastating effect of dioxins on the reproductive health of the Vietnamese people is well-known.”

The findings come prior to a much-anticipated World Health Organization study of Fallujah’s genetic health. They follow two alarming earlier studies, one of which found a distortion in the sex ratio of newborns since the 2003 invasion of Iraq — a 15 percent drop in births of boys.

“We suspect that the population is chronically exposed to an environmental agent,” wrote one of the report’s authors, environmental toxicologist Mozhgan Savabieasfahani. The report identifies metals as potential contaminating agents afflicting the city — especially among pregnant mothers. “Metals are involved in regulating genome stability,” notes the report. “As environmental effectors, metals are potentially good candidates to cause birth defects.”

“It is important to understand that under normal conditions, the chances of such occurrences are virtually zero,” wrote Savabieasfahani.

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