'655,000 Iraqis killed since invasion'

The death toll among Iraqis as a result of the US-led invasion has now reached an estimated 655,000, a study in the Lancet medical journal reports today.

The figure for the number of deaths attributable to the conflict - which amounts to around 2.5% of the population - is at odds with figures cited by the US and UK governments and will cause a storm, but the Lancet says the work, from the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health in Baltimore, has been examined and validated by four separate independent experts who all urged publication.

"Although such death rates might be common in times of war, the combination of a long duration and tens of millions of people affected has made this the deadliest international conflict of the 21st century and should be of grave concern to everyone," write the authors, Gilbert Burnham and colleagues.

Read more: '655,000 Iraqis killed since invasion'

Just Another Mother Murdered

Almost no one bothered to report it. A search of the nation's largest newspapers turned up nothing in USA Today, the Boston Globe, Boston Herald, Chicago Sun-Times, Atlanta Journal-Constitution, San Francisco Chronicle, Seattle Times, St. Louis Post-Dispatch, Houston Chronicle, Tampa Tribune, etc.

There was nothing on CBS, NBC, ABC, CNN, PBS, NPR, Fox News. Nothing.

The LA Times, the Washington Post, the New York Times, and Associated Press each had one sentence, at most, telling about her. All three left out the details, the LA Times had her age significantly off, and the Washington Post reported that she had been killed by an Israeli tank shell.

It hadn't been a tank shell that had killer her, according to witnesses. It had been bullets, multiple ones, fired up close.

Read more: Just Another Mother Murdered

Lunch in Damascus

ONCE, WHILE traveling in a taxi, I had an argument with the driver - a profession associated in Israel with extreme right-wing views. I tried in vain to convince him of the desirability of peace with the Arabs. In our country, which has never seen a single day of peace in the last hundred years, peace can seem like something out of science fiction.

Suddenly I had an inspiration. "When we have peace," I said, "You can take your taxi in the morning and go to Damascus, have lunch there with real authentic Hummus and come back home in the evening."

He jumped at the idea. "Wow," he exclaimed, "If that happens, I shall take you with me for nothing!"

"And I shall treat you to lunch," I responded.

He continued to dream. "If I could go to Damascus in my car, I could drive on from there all the way to Paris!"

Read more: Lunch in Damascus

Israel's 'Nowhereland': Security fence is doomed land grab

JERUSALEM -- Out on Highway 60, the bulldozers are at work.

Next to the road that leads south from Jerusalem to Israeli settlements in the West Bank, the big yellow machines are scraping the earth, carving a flat, white, dusty shoulder. Along that strip, a high concrete wall is already being built, part of the newest segment of Israel's "separation fence." The planned route loops around the cluster of settlements known as the Etzion Bloc, putting them on the Israeli side of the de facto border.

Israeli-Palestinian diplomacy is stalled. The bulldozers are not. Once again they are changing the face of the land in a way that makes life far more difficult for Palestinians while damaging Israel's own long-term interests.

As described by Israel's Defense Ministry, the fence is purely a security measure intended to protect Israelis from Palestinian terrorists. Instead of running along the Green Line, the Israel-West Bank border, the route has been drawn to place major "settlement blocs" on the Israeli side -- supposedly only to defend them as well.

Read more: Israel's 'Nowhereland': Security fence is doomed land grab

Iraqi-Kurd bomb clearance team flies into Lebanon

The teams will be concentrating on clearing from homes, schools, gardens, access routes and other populated areas in the Nabatieh region, as well as providing education programmes to manage the risk to thousands of returnees. The UN recently stated that they have seen around 100,000 unexploded cluster bomblets at 359 separate sites in Lebanon and, according to figures from the Lebanese military, there have been 39 injuries and 8 deaths - though these figures are rising.

Read more: Iraqi-Kurd bomb clearance team flies into Lebanon

Fair Use Notice
This site contains copyrighted material the use of which has not always been specifically authorized by the copyright owner. We are making such material available in our efforts to advance understanding of environmental, political, human rights, economic, democracy, scientific, and social justice issues, etc. We believe this constitutes a 'fair use' of any such copyrighted material as provided for in section 107 of the US Copyright Law. In accordance with Title 17 U.S.C. Section 107, the material on this site is distributed without profit to those who have expressed a prior interest in receiving the included information for research and educational purposes. For more information go to: http://www.law.cornell.edu/uscode/17/107.shtml . If you wish to use copyrighted material from this site for purposes of your own that go beyond 'fair use', you must obtain permission from the copyright owner.