"Patriotism is the willingness to kill and be killed for trivial reasons." Bertrand Russell

Sunday, October 22, 2006

Trouble counting the dead

And a concerted effort to make it even more difficult.

"Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki's office has instructed the country's health ministry to stop providing mortality figures to the United Nations, jeopardizing a key source of information on the number of civilian war dead in Iraq, according to a U.N. document." [The Post]

Via Media Lens

Jon Snow reports on the difficulties of reporting the reality of the occupation of Iraq, from inside the Green Zone.

"This remains one of the least well covered conflicts of the modern television age."

Channel 4

Via Pete Charles

"Iraq's Health Ministry has ordered a halt to a count of civilians killed during the war and told its statistics department not to release figures compiled so far, the official who oversaw the count told The Associated Press on Wednesday." [USA Today 2003]

"Faik Bakir, the director of the Baghdad morgue, has fled Iraq in fear of his life after reporting that more than 7,000 people have been killed by death squads in recent months, the outgoing head of the UN human rights office in Iraq has disclosed." [Guardian]

"Days after the bombing of a Shiite shrine unleashed a wave of retaliatory killings of Sunnis, the leading Shiite party in Iraq's governing coalition directed the Health Ministry to stop tabulating execution-style shootings, according to a ministry official familiar with the recording of deaths." [Washington Post]

Via Ron F

"Iraqi hospitals are dangerous places. Policemen and soldiers carry their wounded comrades into operating theatres and demand immediate treatment, forcing doctors at gunpoint to abandon operations on civilians before they are completed. The hospital system is not a haven from the war. The Health Ministry is controlled by the supporters of the nationalist cleric Muqtada al-Sadr who did well in the elections in December." [Patrick Cockburn in the Independent]


Thursday, October 19, 2006

Tens or Hundreds?

Dear Sir/Madam,

There is a serious inaccuracy in one of today's RTE website reports:

Change to US strategy in Iraq is recommended


The report reads: "tens of thousands of Iraqis have been killed."

This should read: "hundreds of thousands of Iraqis have been killed."

This statement would be in line with the recent figures published by the Lancet last week.

I hope you can address this issue.

Yours sincerely,

To: Treacy Bree
Subject: FW: Inaccuracy in one of today's RTE website reports


Just to advise you that the writer of the following e-mail is associated with the Irish Palestinian Solidarity Campaign and is in constant e-mail contact with our Newsroom regarding our reporting on the Iraq war and the Middle East conflict areas.


On 10/18/06, Treacy Bree wrote:

Dear David

Thanks for your mail and your interest in the site. The section you referred to is re-edited copy from Reuters. There is contention about the number of civilian casualties in Iraq but we strive to be accurate with our News coverage and 'tens of thousands of Iraqis have been killed' is accurate.

Thanks again for your interest.

Bree Treacy

Dear Ms. Treacy,

Thank you for responding.

However, I don't see how the fact the text was copied from a Reuters piece is relevant to the issue. Contrary to your contention, there is no reasonable or scientific refutation of the study's findings. The 'contention' you referred to is, as you are no doubt aware, politically motivated and should have no bearing on RTE's responsibility to report the facts to the best of their ability. Also contrary to your assertion, the phrase 'tens of thousands of Iraqis have been killed' is about as accurate as writing post 9/11, "tens of Americans have been killed." The latter would never appear in a respectable newspaper and neither should the former.

I remain hopeful that you will address this inaccuracy.

For your information, I have no 'association' with the Irish Palestinian Solidarity Campaign.

Yours sincerely,

And another Email: Nick at MLMB


Sunday, October 08, 2006

Pat Kenny - Magnificent Puppetry



Dear Mr. Kenny,

Last weeks unsuccessful ambush of George Galloway was a shameful piece of 'light entertainment'. It is only a pity you didn't allow Eamon Delaney a seat on the stage, so as to see his face as his tired and fact barren rhetoric is torn apart. The Late Late Show was once an institution of intelligent political debate.

You remarked during the interview, "I'm just doing my job, George." I am amazed.

Yours sincerely,


and here's another... Liz at MLMB


Wednesday, October 04, 2006

Democracy in Cuba

According to the Irish Times that is.

"While America's recent measures to push the island towards multiparty democracy when the commander-in- chief croaks are diplomatic, your average Cuban who consumes the state-controlled media is convinced they're ready to invade."

And how are they attempting to do this:

"America's $80 million package to fund political opposition in the one-party state when Castro eventually passes on has sent shivers up the Communist Party's spine."

Are we to believe US interests are completely benign?

Salim Lamrani of Voltaire thinks otherwise:

"The cruel state of siege that the United States has imposed on Cuba since 1959 stiffens day after day. Now, they openly confess that their goal is overthrowing the government in Havana by any means while the sufferings caused to the population only have a secondary importance for the White House."

There's always other reasons to believe independence isn't on the menu.

Dear Madam,

Jeff Farrell's letter from Cuba in Wednesday's Irish Times [1] explained that America has initiated measures to push the island towards multiparty democracy. These measures include an $80 million package [2] to fund political opposition.

While reading this a historic irony came to mind, as Washington now leads the fight against international terrorism from within Cuba [3], Noam Chomsky's comment in 1996 resonates more clearly, "Probably Cuba was the target of more international terrorism than probably the rest of the world combined, up until Nicaragua in the 1980s." [4] In an Orwellian twist, this terrorism emanated from the very halls that now fight so valiantly against it.

The US government, and I make this distinction quite purposefully, has sought to isolate Cuba and make life as 'uncomfortable' as possible for the ordinary Cuban for over 40 years now. In December last year Condoleezza Rice moved to 'stiffen' the economic blockade. [5]

Washington has long made clear their intentions to scupper "dynastic succession" [6] [7], and quite rightly, who would allow father and then son to rule?

Cuba is not a democracy, but lets not let Mr. Farrell pretend the US wants it to be, unless that is he can convince an Iraqi first.



1. http://www.ireland.com/newspaper
2. http://www.state.gov/secretary/rm/2006/68776.htm
3. http://www.nsgtmo.navy.mil/htmpgs/mission.htm
4. http://www.hartford-hwp.com/archives/43b/142.html
5. http://www.voltairenet.org/article134700.htm
6. http://www.zmag.org/content/showarticle
7. http://www.state.gov/secretary/rm/2005/58283.htm