Thursday, June 06, 2013

Iraq: Violence and birth defects

Iraq is poisoned. Thirty-five million Iraqis wake up every morning to a living nightmare of childhood cancers, adult cancers and birth defects. Familial cancers, cluster cancers and multiple cancers in the same individual have become frequent in Iraq.
Sterility, repeated miscarriages, stillbirths and severe birth defects - some never described in any medical books - are all around, in increasing numbers. Trapped in this hellish nightmare, millions of Iraqis struggle to survive, and they call for help.
At long last, public pressure and media attention to this public health catastrophe prompted a joint study by the World Health Organization (WHO) and the Iraqi Ministry of Health to determine the prevalence of birth defects in Iraq. This study began in May-June 2012 and was completed in early October 2012.
The WHO website says that this large-scale study was conducted in Baghdad (Karkh and Rasafa), Diyala, Anbar, Sulaymaniyah, Babel, Basrah, Mosul and Thi-Qar, with 10,800 households from 18 districts and a sample size of 600 households per district.
The Independent (UK) reported that this study was due to be released in November 2012. But the report has not yet come out.

That's from Dr. Mozhgan Savabieasfahani's "What's delaying the WHO report on Iraqi birth defects?" (Al Jazeera).  To be clear, since this is an ongoing issue and since Dr. Savabieasfahani has spoken on this issue and written on this issue before, this is a new piece published today by Al Jazeera.  The report should have been released long ago.  Alsumaria reports today that congential malformations and rates of cancer are extremely high as a result of the uranium munitions the US military used.  It's no longer unusual for a child to be born with two heads or with just one eye, the report explains, and the health statistics are much worse than in Japan in the aftermath of the US using the atomic bombs.  In Falluja, children born with deformities account for 14.7% of all births.   The report notes that although Iraq has a population estimated at 31 million, there are only 20,000 medical doctors and just over 100 psychotherapists in the country.

The continued refusal by the World Health Organization to release the report screams "cover up" and that's not something the World Health Organization can have their name attached to.  If they are seen as covering something up, they lose public trust.  If that happens, the work becomes meaningless.  They need to release the report.

I need to be kinder.  That was the argument in one e-mail about yesterday's snapshot.  Specifically, we noted Iraqi journalist Sahar Issa spoke with Marco Werman (PRI's The World, link is audio) about what's taking place in Iraq.  I noted:

Sahar Issa reported for McClatchy Newspapers -- she was among the women noted by International Women's Media Foundation and she, Shatha al Awsy, Zaineb Obeid, Huda Ahmed, Ban Adil Sarhan and Alaa Majeed were the winners of the International Women's Media Foundation Courage in Journalism Award in 2007 for their work in Iraq. There would have been no Iraq reporting without those six women and other Iraqis like Laith Hammoudi, not for McClatchy Newspapers.  But, like CNN, McClatchy grew tired of Iraq.  The reporters who got their names on reporting in the early days -- Nancy A. Youssef, Leila Fadel, Hannah Allam, Roy Gutman, etc. -- never felt the need for more than lip service to these reporters.  Even now, check the Twitter accounts of these lovelies, they can't note Sahar's interview today.  They pretended to be so interested in Sahar when they weren't able to to do anything but hide in their hotel rooms or visit US military bases.  Then they loved Sahar and the others.  They loved them for going out and risking their lives to do the reporting that Nancy and the others would put their names to.  Today, they just forget Sahar.  But Sahar and the others are the only reason McClatchy's reporting from Iraq had any credibility.

 An e-mail to the public account insists that Nancy Youssef (Hannah, Leila and Roy are left to fend for themselves, apparently) is very busy.  Is she?  Is sweet thing busy?  Guess what I am too.  I'm real damn busy and real damn tired of being online (and no idea whether I'll say next month, "Six more months, yes!").  I'm tired of traveling the country, I'm tired of attending Congressional hearings. I'm tired of feeling guilty that I can walk away -- when the Iraqi people can't and a large number of veterans who need help can't.   I'm tired of every day for the last nine years having to address the issues of the Iraqi people -- including the birth defects -- and the issues of veterans and service members -- important issues but heart breaking ones.  There's been no vacation from this site.  Every day, something has gone up by me.  And the only reason I'm not saying right now, "We're closing in July!"?  Because everyone keeps walking away from Iraq.  That country is destroyed and the puppet government two successive White Houses installed and kept in place is as destructive as any weapon the US used on Iraq.  The lies in the US press are amazing.  One lie is that no birth defects exist in Iraq.  Another is that US forces are all out of Iraq.  Another is that the backlog is decreasing and finally dealt with (Time pimped that lie this week).  I'm tired of daily having to take on those lies while websites supposedly on my side (the left) waste everyone's time trying to figure out to what degree of groovy Barack Obama is.  Articles not fit to be in 16 Magazine, pass for political reporting and commentary in the United States.

Most of all, I'm tired of whiny ass e-mails from whiny ass people who don't know what they're talking about but have a cult following for some personality.

Nance's is real busy, is she?  Yes, I can tell that from her Twitter account -- where she still hasn't noted Sahar's interview but has made time to Tweet:

Me to a waiter at a cafe where the power just cut off. "When will it come back?" Waiter: "When we get rid of ."

 You go, Nancy!  You work through every eatery in Egypt!  You'll never be Dorothy Parker -- because you lack style and wit -- but you will continue to trivialize your profession.  How proud of yourself you must be.

The same e-mailer insists we need to cover Bradley Manning more.  You can't have it both ways, e-mailer.  You can't applaud Nancy and applaud Bradley.  Nancy was the first US reporter to convict Bradley on air.  She did so repeatedly on The Diane Rhem Show.  We were the only ones who called her out and we did so each time she spoke.  She made me so mad -- in these months immediately after Bradley was taken from Iraq -- that I nearly repeated the 'dish' on Nancy that her journalistic peers all repeated in Iraq.  Because if she was going to convict Bradley on rumors, maybe she should be held to the same standard.

Thus far, the opinion of Nancy's peers has not appeared here.  Thus far.

But don't come in late to a conversation and think you're going to control or dominate it.  We weren't up for two weeks in 2004 when the first complaint about the way Iraqis were being treated by a news outlet came in.  That was stringers then-working for the New York Times.  It's a public account and it's been public for 9 years.  We've heard all the stories.  I was shocked by the Times and called a friend who was an editor with the paper to confirm the horror stories in that first e-mail.

Iraqi journalists were used and abused by western outlets.

It's not a pretty story and it's not a story that the west wants to hear.  They'd rather cover their ears and scream, like the e-mailer, 'Don't you say anything bad about Nancy Youssef!'

Well stay dumb and see how that works out for you.  You may find happiness in ignorance, I don't know.  But (A) the community shaped this site and long ago demanded an end to 'sweetness' (seriously, go through the archives, you'll find me repeatedly apologizing and promising to hit harder throughout 2004 and 2005).  (B) I'm not really in the mood.  I don't give a damn about Nancy's hurt feelings.  The larger issue here is that trained reporters, award winning reporters who had done the work were cut loose by McClatchy.  Laith Hammoudi's landed other gigs (such as with AFP).  Others were not so lucky.  There was never a reason for McClatchy to fail to use these reporters.  Clearly, with the last two months setting records in death tolls, Iraq is news worthy.

You may live under the assumption that McClatchy's amazing on Iraq.  If so, that's just another sign of your own ignorance, you really need to take a look at that.  Knight Ridder was the outlet that published reports questioning the government's pre-war claims.  Knight-Ridder is no more.  McClatchy bought them.  As 'brave' Jonathan S. Landy, for example, now shows up on any talk show he can get booked on to insist there are no scandals in the Barack Obama administration, I don't see how you could confuse the journalistic Knight-Ridder with the fawning McClatchy.

Knight-Ridder made its name by questioning an administration.

If it's not clear to you still, the damage done to Iraq was serious.  It's not just the toxic damage that we opened this entry with.  It's the betrayals.  And the western media betrayed Iraq.  THat's not open for debate if you're honest.  They pulled out -- the bulk of them before Barack was sworn in.  Barack's emphasis was going to be Afghanistan so they all went over there.

Then there were protests in Egypt so they went all over there.

They didn't care about the 2011 protests in Iraq.  They didn't care about the ongoing protests that began December 21, 2012.  They haven't cared that Iraqis have been killed for peacefully protesting.  Not even when the Tuesday, April 23rd massacre happened --  when Nouri's federal forces stormed a sit-in and killed adults and children.  Alsumaria noted Kirkuk's Department of Health (Hawija is in Kirkuk)  announced 50 activists have died and 110 were injured in the assault. UNICEF informed the world that 8 of the dead were children and twelve more children were left injured.

 Do you know what the White House did? Maybe you don't.  Maybe worshiping Nancy Youssef doesn't leave you a lot of time to follow news events (though I'm sure you know every quip she's ever uttered at an eatery and then shared with the world via Twitter).

The White House, as it had done in the previous times when Iraqi protesters were killed, said nothing.  The State Dept issued a call for peaceful restraint on both sides.

Those damn children, with their rocket launchers and their WMDs, planning on killing Nouri's innocent forces that had just helicoptered into Hawija for a swap meet to look for Star Wars drinking glasses!

Is that what we're supposed to believe?

Children are killed by Nouri's thugs -- who are being trained by US Special-Ops -- these new forces are known as SWAT forces in Iraq -- a new term for Iraq.  In the future, when you want to keep US fingerprints off the killers and the arms you supply, the US government would be wise to use an Arabic term for the forces of an Arabic speaking nation.  Children were killed by Nouri's thugs and instead of condemning that, the US government called for both sides to show restraint.

I have no idea how many people have died in the protests in Turkey that started last week.  It appears that through Tuesday the number may have been two.  I don't mock two as trivial.  No protester should ever die and when any one does die -- anywhere in the world -- there should be a full investigation.  But it is telling that Peter Kenyon could go on NPR Monday and note that the White House was condemning the behavior of the Turkish forces.

But when 8 Iraqi children died, 8 innocent children, the White House couldn't say one damn word.

The press sold the Iraq War in the US.  It never would have been possible without the press.

Having sold the war, if they really regretted it, they would be covering it now.

Instead, they sold the war and they walked away.  The US military hasn't withdrawn but the US press has.

What did the Iraqi refugee in Jordan tell Matthew Woodcraft (BBC World Service -- link is audio) yesterday?  "The world has forgotten us.  The west has forgotten us.  Even the UNHCR, they have forgotten us."

So, no, not a lot of sympathy for Nancy Youssef and her kindred.

Considering all the US tax dollars that continue to pour into Iraq, you'd think US outlets would report from Iraq if only for that reason.  Mark Thompson (Time magazine) reports today on the $2 billion contract that the State Dept has with PAE Government Services, Inc., "That’s a million dollars a day over a five-year period, if the contract hits its ceiling. The down payment is $347,883,498 (don’t you just love such precision? It’s almost a prime number, for Pete’s sake)."

My name is Penny Evans and I've just gone twenty-one
A young widow in the war that's being fought in Vietnam
And I have two infant daughters, I thank God I have no sons
Now they say the war is over but I think it's just begun
-- Melanie's version of "The Ballad of Penny Evans" used as an intro to her composition "Peace Will Come (According to Plan)"  -- "Peace Will Come (According to Plan)" first appears on her Leftover Wine album.

All Iraq News reports a Mosul home invasion has left a woman and her son injured, a Mosul armed attack killed 1 Iraqi soldier and left three more injured, and a Baghdad car bombing has claimed 2 lives and left ten injured.  National Iraqi News Agency reports 1 man was shot dead in Sulaymaniyah.  and

The following community sites -- plus The Diane Rehm Show, Cindy Sheehan, Adam Kokesh, Pacifica Evening News, the Center for Constitutional Rights and -- updated last night and this morning:

The e-mail address for this site is

 mcclatchy newspapers
sahar issa

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