Sunday, August 31, 2008

Wheels Within Wheels

Iraq is calling on companies to submit designs to build a giant Ferris wheel in Baghdad - the latest in a string of lavish proposals to show the capital as a leisure friendly city. The Ferris wheel will be about 200 meters (650 feet) high with air-conditioned compartments that would each carry up to 30 passengers, Adel al-Ardawi, a media official with Baghdad's municipality, said yesterday. (Sameer N Yacoub, Associated Press in Baghdad)

Writing on McClatchy's blog, Inside Iraq, Baghdad journalist Laith Hammoudi offers his personal response:
I can not describe the pain of my heart when I read the news. I even can not my feelings now. I wish I can cry. I wish I had power to do something, to change this ill reality. We don't have power in our houses and our great officials plan to build the biggest Ferris wheel. Yesterday was one more hot and moist day of August. We don't have an air conditioner in our house because we don't have enough power. I can buy four but they will be not more than a decoration. We use the air cooler which is not really effective but it's better than nothing. I spent the day at home. My two years old son was crying all the time because the poor child can not stand the hot weather. I tried to keep him always near the air cooler but its never enough. My son is only one child. We have hundreds of thousands all over Iraq.

It boggles the imagination, doesn't it? I try to picture an enormous wheel with air-conditioned compartments of smiling people sitting, chatting, whirling round and round, gazing out at Baghdad. Insulated in cozy pods, it must seem that the city draws close and then falls away, again and again, as the wheel revolves. How splendid to be so above it all, gazing over this city of 4 million people, its two rivers choked with pollution, its earth contaminated by spent uranium. How pleasant to relax, suspended above, far, far above the turmoil and struggle of everyday life in Baghdad. Cancer? Cholera? Malnutrition? None of that can reach the people cocooned on the wheel, who cannot hear the crying children, the exasperated, exhausted adults. So lovely, it is, this view that reaches to a distant horizon and overlooks the tedious present.

It could be a metaphor for our age, this ferris wheel of self-absorbed, self-indulgent people wasting precious resources, killing time spinning above and looking past the reality of life on the ground, claiming for themselves and their kin more than their due. Or a private lesson for most of us, hovering between the temptations of our own claims and desires, and the rights and needs of those we cannot see or hear, whose lives we may not understand or even imagine. But the story is not only about those who want--and ride-- the wheel. It is also of those, who, as Laith does, hear and feel and remember and hold love for those who suffer. And who want more for them. And who, as Laith did, call out for change. Change that must come, I think, not just from the Baghdad municipal government, but from each of us, seeking in our own ways to step off the wheel and live, on the earth, with our brothers and sisters.

Ramadan Mubarak

Sending best wishes for a Blessed Ramadan to my brothers and sisters in humanity, if not religion.

(photo by P-M Heden)

The Bumps Under The Rug

News is breaking so quickly and being ignored so assiduously, that's it's hard to stay up with what MSM will never inform you about. TO WIT:

Minneapolis police and other state and local law enforcement agencies have been raiding homes in the Minneapolis area (sometimes without search warrants). They have detained citizens, including, evidently, people suspected of planning to participate in legal demonstrations during the RNC. They have confiscated computers, cell phones, cameras and notebooks belonging to people whose residences they raided and well as journalists recording the events. Attorneys have also been harassed. Crooks and Liars has news and links. Lindsay Beyerstein of Firedoglake has news here and here. The video below documents only one of the atrocities:

Troy Eid, the US Attorney in Colorado minimized the seriousness of the threat posed by the three men detained on the eve on the DNC. They had means, a plan, and an avowed intent to assassinate Obama. One of them is tied to white supremacist groups. Brad Jacobson's article is worth reading.

Eric Lichtblau reports in Saturday's New York Times that the Bush administration wants Congress to affirm that the United States is still at war with al Qaeda, the Taliban and associated organizations. He notes that Democrats and some Republicans are concerned that the over-broad language of the proposed resolution could
provide the legal framework for Mr. Bush and his successor to assert once again the president’s broad interpretation of the commander in chief’s wartime powers, powers that Justice Department lawyers secretly used to justify the indefinite detention of terrorist suspects and the National Security Agency’s wiretapping of Americans without court orders.

He sums up with an excellent comment from Bruce Fein (a former Justice Dept. official from the Reagan administration):
“I do not believe that we are in a state of war whatsoever,” Mr. Fein said. “We have an odious opponent that the criminal justice system is able to identify and indict and convict. They’re not a goliath. Don’t treat them that way.”

Finally while much as been made of Sarah Palin's Troopergate much less attention has been paid to her early history of political firings . This woman doesn't have much experience, but she sure has a history.

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Update: Aafia Siddiqui's Eldest Child Located

The Washington Post is reporting that US officials say the child detained with Aafia Siddiqui in Ghanzi last month appears to be her 11 year old son, Ahmad. The whereabouts of her other son and daughter (ages 5 and 7) remain unknown. US authorities maintain that Siddiqui was not in American custody before her detention in Afghanistan last month, and that, according to CIA spokesperson George Little: "any suggestion that the CIA would imprison her children is wrong and offensive." (The CIA didn't have her: but did another U.S. agency? Little didn't speak to that, apparently.) Siddiqui's family and attorney have expressed concern that she and her children were detained at a black site for the past five years. “Something is really dirty here. Everything about the government’s story smells,” said Elizabeth Fink, Siddiqui’s attorney. “Whatever happened to this woman is terrible, and it’s incumbent on us to find out what it was."

While the Post article details that Ahmad was detained by the Afghan National Security Directorate, it also notes that Fink says her client will petition the federal court to have custody of her son given to her brother, a resident of Texas. The article does not explain how the U.S. government has obtained jurisdiction of the child.

Another question unexplored: if a person is detained at a black site, who has custody?

An Amends Way Overdue

by Bill Krumbein, Santa Rosa, CA

Dear Mr. Future President-elect:
May I suggest that your first item of action as President of the United States be addressed in your acceptance speech – specifically in the form of an apology to our nation and the world – an apology for the U.S. government’s transgressions over the past eight years.
Making apologies is not something to be taken lightly. As our leader, it would take courage and boldness to publicly admit our nation’s mistakes.
Other contemporary world leaders recognized the importance and necessity of apology.
Canada’s Prime Minister Stephen Harper, June 08, apologized for the longtime government policy that forcibly removed native people’s children from their homes to attend state-funded schools designed to assimilate them. The national chief of the Assembly of First Nations said ‘the apology will go a long way toward repairing the relationship between aboriginals and the rest of Canada.’
Australia’s Prime Minister Kevin Rudd, Feb.08, gave a live broadcast apologizing for policies that degraded its indigenous people: “We apologize for the laws and policies of successive parliaments and governments that have inflicted profound grief, suffering and loss on these our fellow Australians.”
German Chancellor Angela Merkel, in the third speech ever delivered in German to the Israeli parliament, used “Shoah”, the Hebrew word for Holocaust: “The Shoah fills us Germans with shame. I bow before the victims. I bow before the survivors and before all those who helped them survive.”
A sincere apology lies at the core beliefs of most cultures as a way of making things right, or at least striving in that direction.
· The Tao Te Ching (500? B.C.E.). “A great nation is like a great man: When he makes a mistake, he realizes it. Having realized it, he admits it. Having admitted it, he corrects it.”

· The Bible, Proverbs 14:9, “Fools mock at making amends for sin, but goodwill is found among the upright.”

· The Quran, The Counsel [42.40], “The recompense for an injury is an injury equal thereto (in degree): but if a person forgives and makes reconciliation, his reward is due from Allah. For Allah loveth not those who do wrong.”

· “Jewish tradition holds that ‘Teshuvah’ consists of several stages: the sinner must recognize his sin, feel sincere remorse, undo any damage he has done and pacify the victim of his offense, and resolve never to commit the sin again.” “Jewish Literacy” (1991), page 542 by Rabbi Joseph Telushkin.

What will you be apologizing for? The Bush-Cheney government has placed a higher value on corporate welfare than it has on its peoples’ welfare. The Preamble to the Constitution begins “We the people …” It does not say “We the corporations …”. Corporations are not people. Our own government is the cause of a damaged economy, damaged social programs, a crumbling infrastructure, overstressed military, threatened environment and an appalling healthcare system.
Instead of contributing to our health, safety and wise stewardship of our natural resources, government managers, scientists and other professionals were told to manipulate and withhold data only to serve ideology and special interest groups.
The damage doesn’t stop at our borders. This same government caused economic, human and environmental suffering throughout the world. What is called free trade for one nation often translates into the exploitation of workers in other nations.
George McGovern writes: “Bush and Cheney … have repeatedly violated the Constitution. They have transgressed national and international law. They have lied to the American people time after time. Their conduct and their barbaric policies have reduced our beloved country to a historic low in the eyes of people around the world… their policies – especially the war in Iraq --- have increased the terrorist threat and reduced the security of the United States.”, January 6, 2008
And there’s more! Coming from a surprising source, Newt Gingrich has a related suggestion that dovetails perfectly with your apology and will enhance its effectiveness. He proposed in Foreign Policy (Jan./Feb. 2008) that the new president-elect should take a pre-inauguration tour of the world, not to talk, but to listen to world leaders of all kinds, not just the friendly ones. Gingrich writes, “This simple exercise of asking for advice and listening carefully and sympathetically will, in almost every part of the world, lead to dramatically improved relations and perceptions.”
Mr. President-elect, your acceptance speech is a perfect opportunity to apologize for our nation’s past behavior. First, I’d like to hear you tell us you’re sorry for all these horrible deeds; second, as our President, to take responsibility for these matters; and third, tell us how you and your administration will make things right – right for us, right for other countries, and right for the world.

- - -

Saturday, August 23, 2008

Who Will Help Aafia Siddiqui's Children?

This video from Cageprisoners is of a press conference held in Afghanistan shortly after Aafia Siddiqui and her son were detained. It seems to have been taken before Siddiqui was shot and removed from Afghan custody by U.S. forces. Note that the boy keeps his face covered, seems at one point to be sobbing, and appears to be scratching at his face (a possible sign of severe anxiety/stress). I ask again: WHERE are the children of Aafia Siddiqui? WHERE have they been for the past five years? WHAT does the U.S. government know about them?

Friday, August 22, 2008

Free Gaza: Report from S.S. Liberty

UPDATE 8/24/08: Ships reach Gaza. Israel lets them in.

From the Free Gaza Movement:
Forty-six international human rights workers are now sailing to Gaza through international waters with one overriding goal: to break the Israeli siege that Israel has imposed on the civilian population of Gaza. Any action designed to harm civilians constitutes collective punishment (in the Palestinians’ case, for voting the “wrong” way) and is both illegal under international law and profoundly immoral. Our mission is to expose the illegality of Israel’s actions, and to break through the siege in order to express our solidarity with the suffering people of Gaza (and of the occupied Palestinian territory as a whole) and to create a free and regular channel between Gaza and the outside world.

Israel claims that since the “disengagement” in 2005 it no longer occupies Gaza. However, the International Committee of the Red Cross and other international human rights organizations reject this claim since Israel still exerts effective control over Gaza. As an Occupying Power, Israel has a responsibility for the well-being of the people of Gaza under the provisions of the 1949 Fourth Geneva Convention. Israel has abused its control and responsibilities by wrongfully obstructing vital supplies and humanitarian assistance to the people of Gaza.

As Israel’s 41-year occupation of the West Bank and Gaza Strip defies international consensus, and because Israel has grossly violated its obligations, we do not recognize Israel’s right to stop us outside its own territorial waters, which we will not be approaching. To remove any “security” pretense that Israel may raise, we have had our boats inspected and certified by Cypriot authorities that they carry no arms or contraband of any kind. We have invited Israeli Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni to join us on our voyage and, in fact, the Israeli Ministry of Foreign Affairs has itself told us the Israeli government “assume[s] that your intentions are good.”

We are human rights activists, invited to visit Gaza by our Palestinian partners, and each of us has vowed to do no violence, in either word or deed. If Israel chooses to forcibly stop and search our ships, we will not forcibly resist. Such a search will be under duress and with our formal protest. After such a search, we fully expect the Israeli navy to stand aside, as we continue peacefully to Gaza. If we are arrested and brought to Israel, we will protest and prosecute our kidnapping in the appropriate forums. It is our purpose to show the power that ordinary citizens of the world have when they organize together to stand against injustice. Let there be no doubt: the policies of repression against the civilian population of Gaza represent gross violations of human rights, international humanitarian law, and constitute war crimes. The goal of our voyage is to break the illegal siege on the people of Gaza as a step toward ending the Israeli occupation of Palestine.

The video, shot 8/22/08 from the SS Liberty, is a tad hard to hear, but worth the effort.

Free Gaza: Report from S.S. Liberty

Posted using ShareThis

Guantanamo Child Soldier Needs Our Help


Mohammad Jawad was detained in Afghanistan when a teenager: a child soldier accused, along with two adults, of lobbing a hand grenade that injured two U.S. Special Forces soldiers (who since have recovered). Recently charges that he committed war crimes were referred for trial at Guantanamo Bay. Last week Military Commissions Judge Colonel Stephen Henley ruled that the pretrial advice provided by Brigadier General Thomas Hartman to the Convening Authority, Susan Crawford, was misleading and inadequate. Hartman, in his role as Legal Advisor to the Convening Authority did not advise Crawford of mitigating and extenuating issues raised by defense counsel and was found by Judge Henley thereby to have “compromised the objectivity necessary to fairly and dispassionately evaluate the evidence.” Crawford has been ordered to reconsider her decision to refer charges against Jawad, and to consider issues raised by the defense.

Major David Frakt, Jawad's defense counsel, is seeking letters of support to give to Ms Crawford. You can read more about the case and about the letter-writing campaign here.

No country in modern history has ever attempted to try child soldiers for war crimes. Major Frakt notes that "it would be a major policy decision of the U.S. government to choose to try child soldiers for war crimes. Such a decision would reverse long-standing U.S. opposition to treating child soldiers as war criminals, and would run counter to the views of all of our major allies in the Global War on Terror."

There is evidence that Jawad was tortured and abused at Bagram Air Base as well as at Guantanamo Bay. He has been severely sleep deprived (the so-called "frequent flier" method of constantly moving him from cell to cell), kicked, hit, shackled and thrown downstairs. He was placed in isolation for a month after a military psychologist said that he was "faking" when he was observed talking to posters in his room. (The psychologist claimed the right not to incriminate herself last week.)

Major Frakt had this to say about his client's case:
The case against Mohammad Jawad relies almost entirely on a “confession” purportedly taken from Mohammad Jawad by Afghan authorities on December 17, 2002. According to Mohammad Jawad, he was subjected to both physical abuse and coerced by threats while in Afghan police custody. The confession itself was not written by Mohammad Jawad, who was functionally illiterate, and bears only his thumbprint. The confession is not even written in Mohammad Jawad’s native language of Pashto. Virtually all of the independently verifiable facts in the so-called confession are demonstrably false.
Mohammad Jawad has been interrogated approximately 36 times at Guantanamo. In all of these interrogation sessions, he has never admitted throwing the hand grenade and has affirmatively and adamantly denied it, despite the use of illegal “enhanced interrogation techniques” on Mohammad Jawad, the same techniques which have broken hardened terrorists. Some of the interrogators and even the Combatant Status Review Tribunal have expressed doubt as to whether he threw the hand grenade.

Writing a letter of support sounds like a half-hour well spent to me.

You can learn more about child soldiers the world round here and here.

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

"I Would Say It Opened the Eyes of My Soul."

Judge Juan Guzman was transformed by the journey he took as the investigator of Chilean dictator Pinochet, whose regime tortured and murdered thousands of innocent citizens. A conservative, he initially disbelieved reports that the government was deliberately disappearing students, union leaders and dissidents. This documentary by Elizabeth Farnsworth and Patricio Lanfranco shows us how Guzman changed, and how he helped his country towards healing. It also reminds us--again, again--that the U.S. has a long history of participation in torture and in the deliberate suppression of human rights. To many in the world, our current atrocities in Iraq, Afghanistan, Pakistan, are no surprise. In the U.S., a press controlled by corporations that profit from U.S. imperialism-- and a group of politicians who also gain thereby-- exploit our pride, our fear of our ugliness to keep the horror of what we are responsible for at a distance.

Take a look at this documentary on PBS. Think of the past and of the present.

Saturday, August 16, 2008

Where are Aafia Siddiqui's Children?

The bare bones of the situation are these: on April 30, 2003, Dr. Aafia Siddiqui left her mother's home in Karachi, along with her three children, Maryam, Ahmad and Suleman, and vanished. It is suspected that the Pakistani government apprehended the four, at the behest of the U.S. government. For at least two years human rights organizations, among them Amnesty International, have posited that she was in U.S. custody, detained at a black site. Questions have been raised that she might be Prisoner 650, a woman known to have been detained and tortured at Bagram Air Base in Afghanistan.

Last month, Dr. Siddiqui ((her doctorate is in neuroscience from Brandeis University) was arrested by Afghan police, along with her son Ahmad. According to Reuters, while the U.S. Justice Department claims she tried to shoot the soldiers and interpreter who came to question her at the police station, Afghan police told Reuters that the U.S. troops tried to disarm the police when they refused to release her to them, and that Siddiqui was shot when she approached the soldiers, reportedly because they suspected she had explosives on her.

Pakistan Foreign Office Spokesman Muhammad Sadiq says that the U.S. has detained her children; the Pakistan government has called upon the U.S. State Department for their release and repatriation.

WHERE are these children? WHERE have they spent the past five years? WHAT does the U.S. government know about them?

Friday, August 15, 2008

Mil Psychologist Invokes Right Not to Incriminate Herself

Too bad torture victims can't do likewise

Physicians for Human Rights report that on Thursday Lt. Col. Diane Zirhoffer invoked Article 31 of the Uniform Code of Military Justice, the military’s equivalent of the Fifth Amendment, when called by the defense attorneys to testify in the case of Mohammad Jawad at Guantanamo Bay. 17 years old at the time of his detention, Jawad --now 24--was placed in isolation, reportedly on the advise of this military psychologist, after she decided that he was "faking" when he was observed to be talking to the posters on his cell wall. Nine weeks after he was removed from a month in isolation, he tried repeatedly to kill himself, by banging his head and hanging himself.

The teenager had earlier been held at Bagram Air Base in Afghanistan, where he reportedly was forced to stand for long periods of time in stress positions; deprived of sleep; beaten; shackled; and, once, pushed down a flight of stairs. His claims of abuse are consistent with those of other Bagram prisoners, according to CID Investigator Special Agent Angela Birt, whose investigations of two Bagram murders has, according to the ACLU: "resulted in confessions from 18 military police for their role in abusing prisoners and findings of probable cause to charge 27 officers for the homicides."

PHR has called upon the APA to:
acknowledge the deep, structural involvement of psychologists in systems of detainee mistreatment that amount to torture and cruel, inhuman and degrading treatment. We ask the APA further to join us in demanding that Congress and the White House form an independent and transparent commission to investigate the role of military and intelligence psychologists in torture and other abuses of detainees in US custody.

Right now the American Psychological Association is meeting in Boston; Psychologists for an Ethical APA is holding a rally in Boston 8/16 from noon to 2 pm at the Hynes Convention Center, 415 Summer Street. PHR will also be speaking, along with leaders in the movement to end psychologists' involvement in abusive interrogations and illegal detentions.

APA members are presently voting on a referendum to forbid psychologists to work in settings that fail to meet basic standards of international law, unless they are working directly for detained persons or for an independent third party working to protect human rights. This issue is being hotly debated. A cynic might note that a former APA president served on the board of a consulting firm that helped develop the interrogation techniques now being called into question. Fortunately over a thousand psychologists are standing up for human rights and working hard to restore the profession's reputation. One of them, Steven Reisner, Ph.D., is running for president of the APA. He has my vote.

Thursday, August 14, 2008

Best Wishes, President Lugo

Today former bishop and still-priest Fernando Lugo will take the oath of office to become president of Paraguay. His liberation theology has led him from the poorest province of the country to its helm. This is the first time an opposition party has won an election since Alfredo Stroessner took leadership through a coup in 1954; his Colorado party has dominated since. As McClatchy's Tyler Bridges points out, it is also "the first time in Paraguay's 197-year history that the ruling party willingly cedes power to the elected opposition." Tides change.

UPDATE: Read Inter Press Service: "Today, a new country is born."

UPDATE II: Tyler Bridges at the inauguration.

A Pause

To think about the friends and families of Mohammad Aimal, 25; Nicole Dial, 30; Shirley Case, 30; and Jacqueline Kirk, 40. These people worked for the International Rescue Committee in Afghanistan, and were shot to death yesterday while traveling in the Logar province. Another local aid worker was injured. IRC is suspending all of its humanitarian aid projects in that country now.

And to send sustaining thoughts to those who mourn in Iraq today, where, in Iskandariya, at least 19 people were killed and 99 injured when a woman blew herself up among people (many of them women and children) on pilgrimage to Karbala.

Sunday, August 10, 2008

Make The Switch. Give up Oil and War

End our dependence on oil, end oil wars. Yes, wars. Happening now, in theaters near all of us in this global village we call home.

Saturday, August 9, 2008

A Respite

Because it is beautiful:

(Basrah marshes Aug. 3, 2008. " Sun on Wake," from Gorilla's Guides)


From Spook:

The bottom line is this: The US, the UK, France and Israel are about to go to war with Iran. They are not doing it as an act of aggression, but rather in self defense. And if they screw it up, we are headed for the end of the world as we know it and the creation of a new superpower and a new world order, with the US on the bottom rather than the top. And that’s if we’re lucky.
Go here for the complete story.

Uranium Dust and the Smell of Decay: This is Baghdad

Another wonderful vid from dancewater. All the photos are from July, 2008. (Music by Bruce Cockburn). As you watch it, remember to add in the sensations of heat and dust.

Friday, August 8, 2008


(Photo: Sam Dagher, Christian Science Monitor)
It's looking as though Iraq will have at least four athletes at the Olympics, not just two. Sprinter Dana Hussein, discus thrower Haidar Nasser and rowing team Haidar Nozad and Hamsah Hussein Jebur have confirmed spots and flew to Beijing Tuesday. Three other team members who qualified but do not yet have confirmation cards are ready and waiting in Kuwait for the go-ahead to join their team members. The IOC suspended Iraq from the games in May, and reversed its decision last week.

Carol Kreck, the sixty year old librarian ticketed for trespassing at the Denver Performing Arts Center because (yes, BECAUSE) she held a sign which read: "McCain=Bush" has entered a plea of not guilty. Trial has been set for Oct. 1. You will remember that Kreck was told if she ditched the sign she could stick around; if she held on to it, she'd be cited and escorted off grounds. McCain was staging a town-hall meeting at the time.

Thursday, August 7, 2008

"I Wish You Godspeed, Mr. Hamden"

(AP Photo)

Today Salim Hamdan was ordered by his US military jury to serve 66 months in prison; with credit for time served, he will be eligible to leave Guantanamo Bay by January. Much deserves to be said about the rejection of the prosecution's claim that Hamdan was a dangerous al Qaeda member who deserved a life sentence. Today we celebrate that justice was served despite the system of structures created to sustain injustice. In a time and place where so much of what happens is devoted to erasing all signs of the individual and the personal, the human gestures described below by McClatchy journalist Carol Rosenberg are worth remembering and repeating.

In court, Hamdan's longest-serving defense attorney, retired Navy Lt. Cmdr. Charlie Swift, clasped the more diminutive Yemeni in a bearhug and both men openly wept.

Afterwards, Swift vowed that lawyers would work to send Hamdan home to his wife and two daughters by January. Lawyers were prepared to go straight to federal court with a habeas corpus petition, he said, were the U.S. to seek to continue to hold the driver after the sentence were done.

''What happened — despite the system — is justice,'' said Swift.

After the jury's verdict, the judge turned to the convicted terrorist and said:

"I wish you godspeed, Mr. Hamdan. I hope the day comes when you return to your wife and your daughters and your country.''

''God willing,'' the man in traditional Yemeni robe and head scarf replied in Arabic, interrupting.

The judge continued: "And I hope that you are able to be a father, and a provider, and a husband in the best sense of the word.''

Then the detainee said it again: "Inshallah.''

Allred replied in Arabic. "Inshallah.''

Monday, August 4, 2008

Can't Drink the Water? How About a Soda?

These photos and the story below come to you from the wonderful Gorilla's Guides:

Why my children are not allowed drink pepsi, or coke, - Suheila

Here are the captions supplied:

1) A resident cleans soft drink bottles before refilling them in a house in Baghdad's Sadr City July 30, 2008.

2) A resident refills soft drink bottles in a house in Baghdad's Sadr City July 30, 2008. Picture taken July 30, 2008.

Yes cleaning them in the water contaminated with faecal matter that is all we get in Baghdad. I have forbidden my children to drink this stuff and refuse to buy it as it gives them diarrohea every time they drink it. This refusal has not made me popular with them but they and I like diarrohea even less. I will be very glad when they are old enough to work out cause and effect for themselves :-)


Saturday, August 2, 2008

WHO is concerned about cholera in Iraq


The World Health Organization announced this week that cholera and typhoid are the two main health threats to the people of Iraq. Less than half of Iraq’s population of 29 million people have access to clean, potable water; displaced persons and refugees are particularly at risk. There is a terrible drought happening in Iraq; farmers around Baghdad are forced to irrigate their fields with untreated water from the Tigris River, into which raw sewage is dumped. Lack of adequate water treatment facilities and electrical plants, along with the drought, are the problems cited by concerned health care officials. 2007 was a record year for cholera in Iraq.

While problems with water treatment and electrical plants have worsened since the US invasion and occupation (due to deliberate attacks on these systems both by US forces and those opposed to the occupation and current Iraqi government), the targeted destruction of these vital systems during the first Gulf war, and the limited ability to effect repairs due to subsequent sanctions contributed to this problem.

(AP Photo by Alaa al-Marjani; Women of Najaf collect water. This was taken in March, 2008. Think there's a stream there now?)