Sunday, 30 September 2012
In postwar Iraq, housing is scarce and pricey
Washington Post reports (September 23rd): As Iraq’s economy rattles awake after years of war, the country is experiencing a real-estate boom, with choice properties in Baghdad or in towns such as Karbala or Irbil selling for $500,000 to more than $1 million.
Years of violence, sectarian tensions and international sanctions have left the country with an acute housing shortage that is driving up prices, experts say. The growing country of 30 million needs about 2 million housing units, according to a United Nations estimate.
Sunday, 23 September 2012
Don’t deport war resister Kimberly Rivera
Desmond Tutu writes in the Globe and Mail (September 17th): When the United States and Britain made the case in 2003 for the invasion of Iraq, it was on the basis of a lie. We were told that Iraq possessed weapons of mass destruction, and that these weapons posed an imminent threat to humanity.
But those who were called to fight this war believed what their leaders had told them. The reason we know this is because U.S. soldiers such as Kimberly Rivera, through her own experience in Iraq, came to the conclusion that the invasion had nothing to do with weapons of mass destruction. Indeed, the presence of U.S. forces only created immense misery for civilians and soldiers alike.
Ms. Rivera, who is from Texas, joined the U.S. Army when she was 24 and was stationed in Baghdad. Disillusioned by the reality of civilian casualties, she came to Canada in 2007 and applied for refugee status. She felt she could no longer participate in a war where she was contributing to causing harm and death to innocent people.
The Canadian government has notified Ms. Rivera that she is scheduled for deportation to the U.S. on Sept. 20. Her lawyer says she faces a prison sentence of two to five years on her return. Ms. Rivera lives in Toronto with her husband and four children (two of whom were born in Canada); these are people of courage and peace, and they should be granted asylum.http://www.theglobeandmail.com/commentary/dont-deport-war-resister-kimberly-rivera/article4544856/
Sunday, 16 September 2012
Baghdad bans beer: why new Iraqi prohibition is an ominous sign
Niqash reports (September 13th): Unexpected raids on Baghdad’s bars, as well as beaten customers, shocked locals. But it’s not just drinkers who are upset. Activists say it’s the government’s latest plan to curb personal freedoms while MPs pondering re-election in the mainly-Muslim nation haven’t said a word.
One eyewitness told NIQASH that the raiders had been violent. “They were brutal,” he said. “They entered and told us all to get out immediately. They then went around smashing everything up, including tables and chairs. And then those who were guarding the entrance started beating the people who were trying to leave with sticks and their rifle butts.”
Witch-hunt in Iraq
BBC reports (September 12th): In post-Saddam Iraq, gay men and women have been systematically targeted for death by extra-judicial militias - with the co-operation of the democratically elected government, says Ali Hilli, founder of the London-based group, Iraqi LGBT.
Ex-minister slams Iraq PM for tolerating graft
AFP reports (September 15th): The first minister to quit Iraqi premier Nuri al-Maliki's unity government criticized the prime minister for turning a blind eye to worsening corruption among his loyalists, in an interview with AFP.
Former communications minister Mohammed Tawfiq Allawi, who resigned on August 27, added he was holding documents pointing to graft within the government, but declined to give details, insisting instead they would be released at an unspecified future date.http://www.google.com/hostednews/afp/article/ALeqM5iN6sjsj70FmocIuIs7m74RLQlpuw?docId=CNG.a99026c3455803d7421133e213c566d2.221
Monday, 3 September 2012
Saturday, 1 September 2012
Birth Defects study in Fallujah Iraq
A study published today in the Journal of the Islamic Medical Association of North America (1) finds rates of congenital anomaly at birth in Fallujah Iraq to be 11.5 times higher than the comparable rate in Kuwait. In a prospective study begun at the start of 2010, each case of congenital malformation was examined at birth at one of three clinics at Fallujah General Hospital together with details of the type of malformation and parental information on possible causes (e.g. consanguinity, smoking, drugs during pregnancy, age of mother etc). There were 291 CA cases registered at birth in the 11 month period at the study’s clinic. The total number of births recorded in the hospital over the period was 6015.
The CAs included 113 heart and circulatory system cases, 72 nervous system cases, 40 digestive system cases, 9 genitourinary cases, 6 ear, face and neck cases, 7 respiratory cases and 30 Down syndrome cases.
The authors concluded that the many anecdotal reports of unusually high levels of congenital malformation in Fallujah were supported by this study. Discussing the findings, the authors regard the findings as proof of the exposure of the population of Fallujah to some genetic mutagen employed during the 2004/5 USA led attacks on the city. On the basis of earlier work (2) where measurement was made the concentration of 52 elements in the hair of the mothers of children with birth defects the authors concluded that the most likely exposure was to Uranium which was present in the mothers at unusually high concentrations and which was found, through studies of long hair which could be used as a historic exposure record, to be much higher at the time of the attacks on the city.
Prof Christopher Busby said: This study has been difficult to get published. The World Health Organisation contacted me last year following our initial report (3) and my presentation at the Human Rights Council in Geneva. Their representative asked me to collaborate on a study in Iraq, both of Fallujah and in other parts of the country, and I agreed. But after I told them I had to be closely connected with the data collection so I could be sure of the results, I heard no more. The present paper was sent to four different journals, including The Lancet, and all refused to publish it, in one case even refused to look at it. The authors have been subject to continuous attacks on their credibility. If independent science dies, through threats, funding cuts and fear, then there is no hope for the human race. Scientific truth will be controlled by political power. The Islamic Doctors in the USA are to be congratulated for their brave decision to publish this important study.
Malak Hamdan added: The World Health Organisation promised to conduct a pilot study to find the rates of congenital anomaly in Iraq including fallujah - where is this report?. These babies, these children and their mothers need our help, the doctors in Fallujah are helpless, they need equipment, experts, they are desperate for governmental support. Why is the world so silent?
Christopher Busby: +44 1970 630215; +447989428833
(1) Alaani Samira, Al-Fallouji Mohannad A.R., Busby Christopher* and Hamdan, Malak (2012) Pilot Study of Congenital Anomaly Rates at Birth in Fallujah, Iraq, Journal of the Islamic Medical Association of North America 44(1), 1-5 (http://jima.imana.org/article/view/10463/44-1-10463)
2010 DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.5915/44-1-10463
(2) Alaani Samira Tafash Muhammed, Busby Christopher*, Hamdan, Malak and Blaurock-Busch Eleonore (2011) Uranium and other contaminants in hair from the parents of children with congenital anomalies in Fallujah, Iraq Conflict Health 5, 1-15
(3) Busby, Chris*; Hamdan, Malak; Ariabi, Entesar. (2010) Cancer, Infant Mortality and Birth Sex-Ratio in Fallujah, Iraq 2005–2009. Int. J. Environ. Res. Public Health 7, no. 7: 2828-2837.