Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Dust, Christians, Turkmen and more

Veterans who served in Iraq and Afghanistan have a higher rate of debilitating respiratory illness than those deployed elsewhere, according to a new study that bolsters concerns among some medical professionals and members of Congress about the potential harm to troops from toxic chemicals and dust in the Middle East.
The findings, which will be presented Wednesday at the International Conference of the American Thoracic Society in Denver, place renewed urgency on getting at the root of why some young, previously healthy soldiers have been returning from the Middle East complaining of symptoms including shortness of breath and dizziness. In many cases, the soldiers can no longer pass a required physical to continue with active duty.

The above is from Shirley S. Wang's "Troops in Mideast Have More Respiratory Ills, Data Show" (Wall St. Journal). Britney Glaser (KCEN -- link has text and video) adds, "While this dust theory has been met with a lot of skepticism, Dr. Gass says the point of microbiology and environmental science is to find the truth about particles in the environment." Presenting the paper may (or may not) clarify things but there's a sense on the part of some in the medical and veterans communities that this is a new-world-discovered-by-Columbus that may or may not exist but is intended to distract from the very real and medically established problems created by the burn pits. How does that work? If we blame mythical dust -- magic dust? -- for all the problems well that's not the US military's problem or, more importantly, liability.

Could dust be dangerous? It could be. Due to all the chemicals that Iraqi soil has been exposed to. But little in the way the 'study' has been advanced to the press has left the impression that this is a serious study. Again, that impression may be wrong but it is why this story has lingered and lingered and not really had a driving focus. People are suspicious. Wednesday they may find out whether they were right to be.

Alison Matheson (Christian Post) reports on Ashur Issa Yaqub whose body was found yesterday in Kirkuk. The Iraqi Christian, who appears to have been tortured before he was killed, was kidnapped and the ransom was $100,000 which his family was unable to meet. The number of Christians in Iraq has fallen drastically throughout the Iraq War as they have been the focus of one wave of targeting after another. The latest wave began October 31st with the assault on Our Lady of Salvation Church in Baghdad.

At times in Iraq, it seems everyone except the exiles the US put into power are being targeted. Hasan Kanbolat (Todays Zaman) reports there's a new wave of targeting Turkman:

One week after the new political restructuring of the ITC, on the morning of May 12, Erşat Salihi's Kirkuk home was attacked. Despite the fact that his house was guarded, the attacker succeeded in tossing explosives into his house and planting mines around the outside of the home. And thus, the first large-scale attack on a Turkmen leader in Iraq took place. Luckily, no one was hurt during these events, even though Salihi and his family were at home during the attack. But the fact that the convoy of Kirkuk Police Chief Cemal Tahir was attacked as Tahir and his team returned from inspecting the evidence at Salihi's home shows that whoever carried out these attacks was very organized and resolute in their actions.

The following community sites -- plus Jane Fonda and Antiwar.com -- updated last night and this morning:

We'll close with this from David Swanson's "60 More Days in Libya: Obama Does Bush Lawyers Proud" (War Is A Crime):

Now we know why Obama has gone to such outrageous lengths to keep Bush's lawyers out of prison, claiming powers of secrecy and immunity beyond Cheney's wildest dreams and pressuring foreign nations to clamp down on any outbreaks of law enforcement.
If the Bush lawyers who "legalized" aggressive war, lawless imprisonment, and torture were not consulted on how to keep the war in Libya going in perpetuity, they were certainly the inspiration for the latest White House brainstorming session.
Remember when Alberto Gonzales claimed that the U.S. Constitution gives no one the right to habeas corpus by merely asserting that if you had that right it could not be taken away? Amateur work.
Remember when John Yoo and Jay Bybee explained that a man tortured but never tried had no rights due to his guilt? Child's play.
Remember when Bush suggested he might get a war with Iraq started by painting airplanes with UN colors, flying them low, and trying to get them shot at? He was the warm-up act.
Obama's relationship with the U.S. Constitution, U.S. treaty obligations, and the War Powers Act is a mature performance, a masterpiece for the ages.
The U.S. Constitution allows no president to launch a war. The War Powers Act makes an exception for cases in which the United States has been attacked by another nation. Libya did not attack the United States. So, the War Powers Act does not apply.
But Obama's great legal minds decided to pretend it applied by submitting a report to Congress that pretended to comply with the reporting requirements of the War Powers Act. The pretense was pretty thin, as that law requires that certain items be reported, including "the estimated scope and duration of the hostilities or involvement," that were not included in the President's pretend report to Congress.

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thomas friedman is a great man

oh boy it never ends