Thursday, January 31, 2008

Army Suicide Rate highest in nearly 30 years

Cnn is reporting that the suicide rate in 2007 is the highest since the Army began counting this in 1980 and the number of self-injuries is nearly double the pre-September 11th levels. This flies in the face of the Bush Administration's claims that they are truly 'supporting our troops' by providing adecuate mental health care. Also, the suicide rates coincides with the increase in death over the year, nearly the highest since the invasion.

Wednesday, January 30, 2008

Stats on Black Inequality

A comrade in my branch asked me to assemble some stats on Black inequality today, so here it is.

Jonathon Kozol on educational apartheid in America.

Glenn Ford on the how the sub-prime crisis has affected Black folks.

Pam Oliver's page on racial disparities in incarceration.

Campaign to End the Death Penalty fact sheet on the racist death penalty.

Kellie Middleton on racism in the health care system.

Jared Bernstein from Economic Policy Institute on Black/White wealth and income inequality.

YWCA report on residential segregation. Notable statistic: 41% of African-Americans live in areas which are described as "hyper-segregated." This report is basically a distillation of the longer 2006 Fair Housing Trends Report, available here.

Monday, January 28, 2008

The Two Articles You Should Read on Iraq This Week

Dahr Jamail on what Iraqis actually think of the occupation.

Andrew Cockburn on the the fissures in the al-Sahwa (Awakening) movement.

Sunday, January 27, 2008

General Suharto Dead!

From the New York Times. No mention, of course, of the copious U.S. aid Suharto received all the while he was gunning down Communists and East Timorese.

Sunday, January 20, 2008

Economic Influence on Abortion Decisions

This is a great article that points out, according to a friend's outline,
-- the most common reason for abortion is so women feel they will be better mothers to other children (born or not yet born)
-- the economic context of this decision
-- who actually gets an abortion (not primarily the young white middle-class women in the media)
-- the hold anti-abortion conservatism has taken in some black politics
-- the way that lack of access to a clinic actually limits access

Thursday, January 17, 2008

Tom Engelhardt on The Surge

In this article Tom Engelhardt argues, quite astutely, I believe, that the main "success" of the surge has not been in Iraq but in the U.S. This seems quite right to me. After all, Dahr Jamail and Ashley Smith have eviscerated the claims for success in Iraq, and in spite of the continued obscenity of the war the antiwar movement is still basically moribund. Englehardt does an admirable job both analyzing the political effects of the surge and the reasons why violence in Iraq won't go away.

Sunday, January 13, 2008

Iraqis Typically Ungrateful for the Surge

Those miserable ingrates. Don't they realize the freedom they now enjoy was bought with the blood of American soldiers? Don't they understand that if a year ago we had, instead of following President Bush's courageous plan to retake the country, listened to what a majority of Iraqis had said and left the country, it would be today, in the words of John McCain and Joe Lieberman writing in the Wall Street Journal, "a country in chaos...a failed state in the heart of the Middle East?"

After all our sacrifice, listen to what the despicable little bastards have to say about life in their liberated country:

“Is it good that we still cannot go to Baghdad to sell our crops and buy seeds and other necessary things for our farms,” said young Jassim from Fallujah. “Is it good that we only plant ten percent of our land because there is not enough electricity and fuel to run our pumps?”

“If the U.S. generals mean they will hand over security to Iraqis and leave the province, then I will salute them all,” retired Iraqi army colonel Salman Ahmed told IPS in Fallujah. “But I know it is just another comedy like that played elsewhere in Iraq, where Iraqis (officials) are just ropes for American dirty laundry. We want our country back for real, not just on paper.”

“If security is so good then let them end the tragedy of our city,” a member of the Fallujah City Council, speaking on condition of anonymity told IPS. “We want our freedom back and we want to leave and enter our city without this humiliation by soldiers and policemen. Fallujah is dying, and our masters (Americans) are bragging about security and prosperity.”

“Let them (Americans) take everything and bring me my son back,” she said. “He stayed to guard the house in the November 2004 siege and the Americans captured him. Now he is missing. Some people who were released told us he was with them in the airport prison.”

Thursday, January 10, 2008

US Has Most Deaths from Preventable Disease in the Industrialized World

At Medical News.

Monday, January 7, 2008

Dahr Jamail Sums Up Iraq in 2007

A slap in the face for ParliamentBy Dahr Jamail WASHINGTON - The end of 2007 produced a telltale indication of what the New Year seems likely to bring to Iraq. "We the Iraqi members of Parliament signing below demand a timetable for withdrawal of the occupation forces [MNF] from our beloved Iraq," 144 members of the 275-member Parliament, a clear majority, wrote in a declaration April 2007.

Despite this, the George W Bush administration and the Iraqi government led by US-installed Prime Minister Nuri al-Malikipushed a resolution through the UN Security Council to extend by another year the legal cover for foreign troops to operate in Iraq.

The move on December 18 violated both the Iraqi constitution and the resolution passed earlier this year by the Iraqi Parliament. Many Iraqi lawmakers say that any renewal of the UN mandate not ratified by Parliament is illegal. The move almost guarantees an increase in violence and a deepening of sectarian tensions.

"Bypassing the Iraqi Parliament and continuing to undermine the Iraqi political process will push more Iraqis to choose armed resistance instead of political non-violent resistance," Raed Jarrar, Iraq consultant at the Public Policy Office of the American Friends Service Committee in Washington, an independent peace group, told Inter Press Service. "The US role in supporting the unpopular and unelected Iraqi cabinet will increase violence and undermine Iraqis' plans to achieve national reconciliation," Jarar said. "The best way to support reconciliation in Iraq is to stop supporting a minority of Iraqi separatists against the majority of Iraqi nationalists."

The policy of building up armed Sunni militias is already leading to Sunni divisions with Shia groups, and with the Shia dominated government. "One can only wonder, now that the United States has 'liberated' Iraq from Saddam Hussein, just who will liberate Iraq from the United States," Jarrar wrote in a recent article.

One of the more troubling aspects of what 2008 may bring Iraq remains the massive refugee crisis. Despite the fact that in recent weeks tens of thousands of Iraqi refugees in Syria have been returning to Baghdad after a decline in violence in the capital, the number is still small compared to total refugee numbers. According to the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), as of December 2007, 2.4 million Iraqis were internally displaced and at least another 2.25 million had fled the country.

A UN official in Damascus, speaking on condition of anonymity, had told IPS last summer that UNHCR figures for Iraqi refugees were "consistently far below the real numbers" and did not accurately reflect the "catastrophic reality of the refugee crisis which has been generated by the occupation of Iraq". The Iraqi government has announced that 46,000 refugees returned in October. But a UNHCR report released in November said that "only 14% of respondents said they were returning to Iraq because they believed the security situation had improved, as opposed to 70% who cited financial and visa reasons". The majority of the estimated 1.5 million Iraqi refugees in Syria, as in Jordan, have never been allowed to work legally. With the price of basic commodities and rent continuing to increase, many who have used up their savings are now unable to stay any longer.

Many who have returned have found their homes destroyed, looted or occupied by strangers. The government is offering each returning family one million Iraqi dinars (about US$900). "This amount is not enough to buy furniture for two rooms," said Ibtissam, who has returned to live now in her brother's house. The Iraqi government is airing offers on state television of free bus rides from Damascus to Baghdad. This is despite official acknowledgement that the country is not safe and that it cannot absorb the large numbers of refugees who wish to return home.

Another crisis that seems certain to deteriorate in 2008 is the Turkish military assaults in the Kurdish north. Shelling and air strikes targeting the rebel Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK) have led more than 4,000 people to flee their homes during the last weeks of 2007.

All of this is against a backdrop of 50-70% unemployment within Iraq, 70% inflation, and on average less than seven hours of electricity a day. More than $50 billion has been paid out to Western companies in Iraq thus far, but the infrastructure remains a shambles and is far worse than under the regime of Saddam Hussein, even through more than 12 years of economic sanctions. But construction continues at the US Embassy in Baghdad, the largest embassy anywhere in the world. Construction also continues at US military bases.

In May 2007, Tony Snow, former spokesman for President Bush, announced that Bush would like to see a lengthy US troop presence in Iraq as in South Korea, where the US has had thousands of troops for 50 years. "The Korean model is one in which the United States provides a security presence, but you've had the development of a successful democracy in South Korea over a period of years, and, therefore, the United States is there as a force of stability," Snow told reporters. (Inter Press Service)