Meditation Focus #85
Reasserting our Divine Right to Complete
Freedom of Mind, Heart and Spirit
What follows is the 85th Meditation Focus suggested for the two consecutive weeks beginning Sunday, April 6, 2003.
REASSERTING OUR DIVINE RIGHT TO COMPLETE FREEDOM OF MIND, HEART AND SPIRIT
2. Meditation times
3. More information on this Meditation Focus
IMPORTANT: PLEASE NOTE THAT THE MEDITATION TIMES ARE CHANGING THIS SUNDAY APRIL 6 FROM WINTER TO SUMMER TIME, AND VICE VERSA IN THE SOUTHERN HEMISPHERE, FOR SEVERAL CITIES LISTED BELOW IN #2.
As the war in Iraq enters its most lethal phase now that all main cities have been almost completely surrounded and as fierce fighting continues because of the unexpected stiff resistance put up by vastly outgunned Iraqi soldiers who have died in their thousands under the unforgiving U.S. military steamroller, terrible accounts of massive civilians casualties have surfaced showing that the U.S. government has resorted once again to cluster bombs, one of its most lethal weapons of mass destruction whose legacy still haunts all the countries bombed by America since the Vietnam war. The human beings who order those weapons to be used, those who load them onto planes, those who drop them, even those who manufacture them and the taxpayers who pay for this weaponry all share a common trait that blinds them as to the karmic consequences of their choices, either through direct consent or through their inaction to register their dissent. They all hide behind the all too convenient excuse of patriotism, an instrument of mass hypnosis used by warmongerers throughout history to induce a trance-like submission shutting down criticism and any sense of wrongdoing under the guise of protecting the homeland against mostly perceived or manufactured threats. In addition to clusters bombs, the infinitely dangerous and unending consequences of depleted uranium ammunitions also widely used in Iraq once again will ensure countless generations of horribly malformed and stillborn babies, millions of deadly cancers and unimaginable physical suffering and emotional pain. The humanitarian tragedy that is also very likely to unfold in the wake of this war will also bring death and malnutrition to millions more.
Please dedicate your prayers and meditations, as guided by Spirit, in the coming two weeks, and especially in synchronous attunement at the usual time this Sunday and the following one, to contribute in freeing the human soul from the yoke of enslaving thoughts and concepts repressing the natural reaction of horror regarding the consequences of any and all forms of warfare and institutionalized violence. May the spirit of Goodness flow freely from the hearts of all human beings so as to render utterly unacceptable the very notion of doing harm to others and may freedom from all psychological programming and spiritual enslavement become the ultimate goal of human existence, for the Highest Good of All.
This whole Meditation Focus is also available at http://www.aei.ca/~cep/MeditationFocus85.htm
2. MEDITATION TIMES
i) Global Meditation Day: Sunday at 16:00 Universal Time (GMT) or at noon local time. Suggested duration: 30 minutes.
ii) Golden Moment of At-Onement: Daily, at the top of any hour, or whenever it better suits you.
These times below are currently corresponding to 16:00 Universal Time/GMT:
Honolulu 6:00 AM -- Anchorage * 8:00 AM -- Los Angeles * 9:00 AM -- Mexico City, San Salvador & Denver * 10:00 AM -- Houston * & Chicago * 11:00 AM -- Santo Domingo, La Paz, Caracas, New York *, Toronto *. Montreal *, Asuncion & Santiago 12:00 AM -- Halifax *, Rio de Janeiro & Montevideo 1:00 PM -- Reykjavik & Casablanca 4 PM -- Lagos, Algiers, London *, Dublin * & Lisbon * 5:00 PM -- Jerusalem, Johannesburg, Geneva *, Rome *, Berlin *, Paris * & Madrid * 6:00 PM -- Ankara *, Athens *, Helsinki * & Istanbul * & Nairobi 7:00 PM -- Baghdad *, Moscow * 8:00 PM -- Tehran * 8:30 PM -- Islamabad 9:00 PM -- Calcutta & New Delhi 9:30 PM -- Dhaka 10:00 PM -- Rangoon 10:30 PM -- Hanoi, Bangkok & Jakarta 11:00 PM -- Hong Kong, Perth, Beijing & Kuala Lumpur +12:00 PM -- Seoul & Tokyo +1:00 AM -- Brisbane, Canberra & Melbourne +2:00 AM -- Wellington +4:00 AM
+ means the place is one day ahead of Universal Time/Greenwich Mean Time.
* means the place is observing daylight saving time (DST) at the moment.
You may also check at http://www.timeanddate.com/worldclock/full.html to find your current corresponding local time if a closeby city is not listed above.
3. More information on this Meditation Focus
This complement of information may help you to better understand the various aspects pertaining to the summary description of the subject of this Meditation Focus. It is recommended to view this information from a positive perspective, and not allow the details to tinge the positive vision we wish to hold in meditation. Since what we focus on grows, the more positive our mindset, the more successful we will be in manifesting a vision of peace and healing. This complementary information is provided so that a greater knowledge of what needs healing and peace-nurturing vibrations may assist us to have an in-depth understanding of what is at stake and thus achieve a greater collective effectiveness.
US uses cluster bombs to spread death and destruction in Iraq
5 April 2003
Weapons of mass destruction have truly been unleashed in Iraq: new-generation cluster munitions are being used by US and British forces to massacre and terrorise the Iraqi population. Not a single Iraqi bio-chemical weapon has been witnessed, but the "liberators" have already resorted to weapons notorious for their vast and indiscriminate destruction of human life.
After days of denials or refusals to comment, American and British government leaders and military commanders have admitted that high-flying bomber squadrons have dropped cluster bombs, which are designed to kill and maim thousands of people at a time. There is clear evidence that cluster weapons are also being fired from jet fighters, tanks, artillery and off-shore missile launchers.
Gruesome pictures and footage of the mutilated bodies of Iraqi children and other innocents - images that the Western media has largely refused to show - reveal the bloody face of the "liberation" that Washington and London have in mind for the Iraqi people. These methods of warfare are a warning of the reprisals and repression that will follow any military victory.
A clear pattern has emerged from the reports of cluster bomb carnage coming from places like Basra, Najaf, Karbala, Hilla and Baghdad itself. Wherever Iraqi soldiers and civilians have resisted or even obstructed the invading forces, cluster weapons have been deployed against them. The closer the US-British forces get to the outskirts of the sprawling Iraqi capital, the more the Pentagon and British military are utilizing these high-tech weapons of terror.
In the worst atrocity so far, a day and night of furious American bombing on Monday and Tuesday left at least 61 Iraqi civilians dead and more than 450 seriously injured in the region of Hilla, 80 kilometers south of Baghdad. Most were children.
Roland Huguenin-Benjamin, a spokesman for the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) in Iraq, described what happened in Hilla and neighboring villages as "a horror." His team saw "several dozens of bodies which were completely blown to pieces" and "dozens of severed bodies and scattered limbs." Huguenin-Benjamin confirmed there were at least 460 wounded, being treated in an ill-equipped 280-bed hospital that was "completely unable to cope." All victims were "farmers, women and children."
A 21-minute videotape of the Hilla hospital carnage has been seen by reporters in Baghdad. In one sequence, according to the Independent, the video shows a father holding pieces of his baby and screaming "Cowards, cowards" at the camera.
Cluster bomb casualties have also been reported in Basra, Najaf, Karbala and Baghdad. On Thursday, Iraq's information minister Mohammed Saeed al-Sahaf accused US-led forces of dropping cluster bombs on the Douri residential area of Baghdad, killing 14 people and wounding 66.
International law flouted
Widely used by US forces in Vietnam, the 1991 Gulf War, Kosovo and Afghanistan, and by Israel in the 1982 siege of West Beirut, cluster bombs have been condemned by human rights organizations. They compare their effects to anti-personnel mines, which are outlawed by the 1999 Ottawa Treaty.
The bomblets are so lethal they can demolish a tank, but they are notoriously erratic in their dispersal and many do not explode on impact - the failure rate is as high as 30 percent. Apart from inflicting immediate casualties, half-buried small yellow cylinders remain for years - deadly threats to civilians, especially children, who easily mistake them for toys or food parcels.
In a report released just before the Iraq invasion began, the New York-based Human Rights Watch organisation said cluster munitions dropped in the 1991 Gulf War were to blame for the deaths or injuries of more than 4,000 civilians after fighting ended.
The anti-landmine charity set up to commemorate the late British Princess Diana joined the condemnation. "It's appalling that, despite the well-documented problems with cluster weapons, the US and UK are dropping them on Iraq," said Andrew Purkis, chief executive of the Diana, Princess of Wales Memorial Fund.
Using cluster bombs in civilian areas violates the Geneva Conventions on war, which demand protection for civilians even if they are intermingled with military personnel. Amnesty International stated: "The use of cluster bombs in an attack on a civilian area of al- Hilla constitutes an indiscriminate attack and a grave violation of international humanitarian law."
Cluster Bombs Liberate Iraqi Children
AMMAN - The horror. The horror. And unlike Apocalypse Now, there are real, not fictional images to prove it. But they won't be seen in Western homes. The new heart of darkness has emerged in the turbulent history of Mesopotamia via the Hilla massacre. After uninterrupted, furious American bombing on Monday night and Tuesday morning, as of Wednesday night there were at least 61 dead Iraqi civilians and more than 450 seriously injured in the region of Hilla, 80 kilometers south of Baghdad. Most are children: 60 percent of Iraq's population of roughly 24 million are children.
Roland Huguenin-Benjamin, a spokesman for the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) in Iraq, describes what happened in Hilla as "a horror, dozens of severed bodies and scattered limbs". Initially, Murtada Abbas, the director of Hilla hospital, was questioned about the bombing only by Iraqi journalists - and only Arab cameramen working for Reuters and Associated Press were allowed on site. What they filmed is horror itself - the first images shot by Western news agencies of what is also happening on the Iraqi frontlines: babies cut in half, amputated limbs, kids with their faces a web of deep cuts caused by American shellfire and cluster bombs. Nobody in the West will ever see these images because they were censored by editors in Baghdad: only a "soft" version made it to worldwide TV distribution.
According to the Arab cameramen, two trucks full of bodies - mostly children, and women in flowered dresses - were parked outside the Hilla hospital. Dr Nazem el-Adali, trained in Scotland, said almost all the dead and wounded were victims of cluster bombs dropped in the Hilla region and in the neighboring village of Mazarak. Abbas initially said that there were 33 dead and 310 wounded. Then the ICRC went on site with a team of four, and they said that there were "dozens of dead and 450 wounded". Contacted by satphone on Thursday, Huguenin-Benjamin confirmed there were at least 460 wounded, being treated in an ill-equipped 280-bed hospital.
Journalists taken to Hilla from Baghdad on an official tour on Wednesday talked of at least 61 dead. The Independent's Robert Fisk described the mortuary as "a butcher's shop of chopped-up corpses". The ICRC is adamant: all victims are "farmers, women and children". And Dr Hussein Ghazay, also from Hilla hospital, confirmed that "all the injuries were either from cluster bombing or from bomblets that exploded afterwards when people stepped on them or children picked them up by mistake".
Iraqi journalists on site and later an Agence France Presse (AFP) photographer say that they have seen debris equipped with small parachutes characteristic of cluster bombs - which release up to 200 bomblets. Mohamed al-Sahaf, the Iraqi Information Minister, has not volunteered details yet on the Hilla massacre. US Central Command in Qatar only admits it has used "six cluster bombs in the center of Iraq" - and against a tank column: these would be the CBU 105, the so-called "intelligent" cluster bombs which compensate for wind. The Pentagon line remains that there are "no indications" that the US dropped cluster bombs in the Hilla region.
Widely used in Afghanistan, cluster bombs are vehemently denounced by human rights organizations: they compare their deadly effects to anti-personnel mines, which are outlawed by the Ottawa Convention (not signed, incidentally, by either the US or Iraq). Cluster bombs are far from being smart. Most of its bomblets hit the ground without exploding. The small yellow cylinders remain deadly weapons threatening civilians - especially children. Human Rights Watch, in vain, has tried to persuade the Pentagon not to use cluster bombs, stressing that "Iraqi civilians will pay the price with their lives". This is not the first incident of mass civilian deaths. The Independent newspaper of London claims that it has conclusively proved that an American missile was responsible for the devastation at the Shu'ale market in Baghdad last Friday, with at least 62 civilians confirmed dead. The missile - either a high speed anti-radiation missile (Harm) or a Paveway laser-guided bomb - is manufactured by Raytheon in Texas. Raytheon is the world's largest manufacturer of so-called "smart" weapons - including Patriots and Tomahawks.
Al-Mustansariya University in Baghdad - the oldest in the world - has been bombed. A Red Crescent maternity hospital has been bombed. In al-Janabiy, in the southeast of Baghdad, Patrick Baz, a veteran AFP photographer who stared horror in the face in Beirut in the 1980s, stumbled into a farm pulverized by missiles with at least 20 dead inside, including 11 children.
Iraq may not be totally united behind the renewed call of the Saddam Hussein regime, which is a complex mix of Arab nationalism and jihad invoked to rally every citizen to a war of liberation. But the terrible images of the civilian massacre in Shu'ale and the civilian massacre in Hilla, coupled with the Pentagon's denials, have turned the Iraqi nationalist struggle into a volcano. Iraqi exiles in Jordan confirm that people who wouldn't dream of picking up a Kalashnikov to defend Saddam are now committed to defend their families, their houses, their cities and their homeland. Anglo-American soldiers may barely disguise their perplexity, but the fact on the ground is they are now fighting the very people they were supposed to "liberate".
Most, if not all, images of death from above raining over Iraqi civilians are being shown non-stop on al-Jazeera, Abu-Dhabi TV, al-Arabiya or the Lebanese Broadcasting Corporation. The anger over the Arab world must surely be growing. Even "moderate" regimes are being touched. The semi-official al-Ahram, Egypt's premier newspaper, sums it up in an editorial, "The 'clean war' has become the dirtiest of wars, the bloodiest, the most destructive. Smart weapons have become deliberately stupid, blindly killing people in markets and popular neighborhoods." Jordan's King Abdullah was forced to publicly denounce what he termed the "invasion of Iraq" and vigorously register his "pain and sorrow" with the "murder of women and children ... as we see on our television screens the growing number of martyrs among innocent Iraqi civilians. CLIP
See also on this issue:
What are cluster weapons? (April 5)
Cluster weapons are packed with small bombs, or bomblets, known as submunitions, designed specifically to cause the greatest possible number of human casualties. They can be bombs dropped from high-flying B-52s or low-flying jet fighters. They can also be guided missiles fired from hundreds of kilometers away, artillery canisters lobbed from a distance or shells fired from tanks at closer range. Those dropped from bombers are the most notorious for being inaccurate, and therefore likely to kill and maim indiscriminately. Bomblets are released after the canister is dropped from a plane and begins to spin. The submunitions spread over a large area and either explode instantly, ignite after a delay, or fail to explode until touched by a personoften a child. Despite the evidence of terrible civilian casualties in Iraq, the Pentagon boasts that the cluster bombs it is dropping belong to a new generation of smart versions, which are tank-killing but civilian-friendly. In reality, the new bombs are simply more lethal and terrifying. According to the US militarys Central Command in the Gulf the new CBU-105 Wind Corrected Munitions Dispenser releases 40 mini-charges designed to pierce armour plate on impact. The Air Force has ordered 5,000 of these Sensor-Fused Weapons (SFW) from the US-based manufacturer Textron Systems, each costing $260,000. (...) During the first Persian Gulf War, between January 17 and February 28, 1991, the United States and its allied coalition used a total of 61,000 air-dropped cluster munitions, releasing 20 million submunitions. Human Rights Watch said ordnance experts in Kuwait were still finding roughly 200 cluster bombs per month from the 1991 Gulf War. A similar disaster is unfolding in Iraq. Human Rights Watch has calculated that a typical B-52 dropping a full load of 45 cluster bombs, each containing 650 submunitions, could produce an average of 1,700 unexploded submunitions, even assuming a low dud rate of 5 percent. In the Vietnam War, American forces dropped some 285 million submunitions on Cambodia, Vietnam and Laos, according to Pentagon estimates. In August 2000, a quarter of a century after the war ended, one of these bomblets exploded and killed six children in the central province of Binh Dinh. (...) According to a recent Human Rights Watch briefing paper, the US has stockpiles of more than one billion submunitions, classified as either bomblets, grenades, or mines. They may be antipersonnel (APERS), antimateriel (AMAT), antitank (AT), dual-purpose (DP), incendiary, or chemical. CLIP
Amnesty slams cluster bomb use (03/04/2003)
(...) "Amnesty International is particularly disturbed by reports that cluster bombs were used in the attacks and may have been responsible for some of the civilian deaths," the organisation said. "The use of cluster bombs in an attack on a civilian area of al-Hilla constitutes an indiscriminate attack and a grave violation of international humanitarian law," it said. "If the US is serious about protecting civilians, it must publicly commit to a moratorium on the use of cluster weapons. Using cluster munitions will lead to indiscriminate killing and injuring of civilians," the organisation added. CLIP
280 dismembered by bombs (April 3)
Baghdad - The International Committee of the Red Cross described as horrific on Thursday the scene at a hospital south of Baghdad, where hundreds of Iraqi men, women and children "practically dismembered by explosions" were being treated.
US Drops New High Tech Cluster Bomb In Iraq (April 3)
US forces have dropped on Iraq "for the first time in combat history" a new version of a cluster bomb that adapts to wind and weather to hit targets more accurately, Central Command said.
Robert Fisk: Wailing children, the wounded, the dead: victims of the day cluster bombs rained on Babylon (April 3)
The wounds are vicious and deep, a rash of scarlet spots on the back and thighs or face, the shards of shrapnel from the cluster bombs buried an inch or more in the flesh. The wards of the Hillah teaching hospital are proof that something illegal something quite outside the Geneva Conventions occurred in the villages around the city once known as Babylon. The wailing children, the young women with breast and leg wounds, the 10 patients upon whom doctors had to perform brain surgery to remove metal from their heads, talk of the days and nights when the explosives fell "like grapes" from the sky. Cluster bombs, the doctors say and the detritus of the air raids around the hamlets of Nadr and Djifil and Akramin and Mahawil and Mohandesin and Hail Askeri shows that they are right. CLIP
Iraq war has UNICEF unprepared for its worst ever crisis
APRIL 02, 2003
MADRID: UNICEF's Iraq representative said on Wednesday the organisation was unprepared for what could be its worst crisis ever and insisted that coalition countries waging the war should bear a large part of the financial burden. "There is no comparison with anything we have dealt with before," Carel de Rooy, the UN Children's Fund representative in Iraq, said during a visit to Madrid. His stop here was part of a tour aimed at collecting contributions toward the $166 million UNICEF estimates it will need for Iraq over the next six months. As it prepared for the war, UNICEF sought $140 million but received just $10million, de Rooy said. "We're totally unprepared. We had neither the time nor the money," de Rooy said. "What we now have to treat the Iraqi people is symbolic support." He added: "The coalition countries have a clear responsibility for the humanitarian consequences of this war." De Rooy expressed confidence that UNICEF would, in the end, collect the needed funds. Spain, a firm supporter of the US-led war to oust Saddam Hussein and the fifth country on de Rooy's tour, has so far pledged $1 million. De Rooy said his agency's stocks of water trucks, high-protein biscuits and fortified milk in Kuwait were probably enough to treat some 300,000 people. But, he said, the material was grounded as negotiations continued over establishment of aid corridors. De Rooy said the crisis came against a backdrop of 12 years of UN sanctions preceded by the devastating US- and British-led Gulf War and, before that, Iraq's eight-year conflict with neighbouring Iran. "This (current) war can bring no good to Iraq," Rooy said. Iraq has a population of some 24 million, half under age 18. UNICEF statistics show Iraq has suffered a 160 percent rise in infant mortality over the past decade, so that one in eight children dies before reaching the age of five. "And these children stand on the second-biggest oil reserves in the world," he remarked. De Rooy declined to predict how many children may perish because of the war, stressing it depended on how long the conflict, and water and electricity supplies, lasted. Besides the war, de Rooy said Iraqi children were also prey to malnutrition, diarrhea and respiratory problems. "If children fall victim to any two of these, we could be talking about a tragedy of unknown consequences," he said. The Dutch hydrologist, who has been UNICEF's representative in Iraq since 2001, also criticised distribution of aid by the US and British forces. "Allowing the strongest arms to catch the packages doesn't help women and children," he said. "My experience is that it's better for children that humanitarian workers distribute food, not soldiers." De Rooy was evacuated from Iraq with all other non-Iraqi UN employees two days before the start of the war. The agency still has 200 Iraqi staff working in Iraq, most based in Baghdad.
Published on Sunday, March 30, 2003 by the Los Angeles Times
Uranium Warheads May Leave Both Sides a Legacy of Death for Decades
by Susanna Hecht
Although the potential human cost of the war with Iraq is obvious, not many people are aware of a hidden risk that may haunt us for years. Of the 504,047 eligible veterans of the 1991 Persian Gulf War, about 29% are now considered disabled by the Department of Veterans Affairs, the highest rate of disability for any modern war. And most are not disabled because of wounds.
These guys were rough, tough, buff 20-year-olds a decade ago. The vast majority are ill because of a complex of debilities known as the Gulf War syndrome.
These vets were exposed to toxic material from both sides, including numerous chemicals, fumes and weird experimental vaccines. But the largest number of the more than half a million troops eligible for VA benefits -- 436,000 -- lived for months in areas of the Middle Eastern desert that had been contaminated with depleted uranium.
Depleted uranium, or DU, is a highly toxic heavy metal that continues to emit low levels of alpha radiation. It is a byproduct of nuclear power plants and various military activities.
The United States has hundreds of thousands of tons of DU lying around, and for the Gulf War it developed a new use for the stuff: load it into warheads.
Though not technically "nuclear," because the material is not really fissionable, uranium is a heavy metal ideal for lethally effective "warhead penetrators" that can pierce through armored tanks and fortified positions. When the munitions explode, the area is bathed in a fine dust of DU that can be easily inhaled. These aerosols also taint soil and water and pollute ground water.
If the penetrators do not explode, their casings gradually oxidize, releasing DU into the environment.
DU warheads are essentially dirty bombs -- not very radioactive, but poisonous, and this is why there is an increasing global outcry against using DU in combat as tips for armor-piercing rounds as well as in artillery shells and Tomahawk missiles, among others.
Such warheads were used very successfully by the U.S. in the Gulf War, when more than 350 tons of depleted uranium were dropped on Iraq, and later in Kosovo when about 13 tons of DU were exploded in the conflict there. The "Balkan syndrome" that emerged among the military and civilians after the U.S. bombing there bears a similarity to the Gulf War syndrome. Though the findings are controversial, many scientists now see these afflictions as the result of heavy metal poisoning and possibly exposure to very low levels radiation.
DU is implicated in respiratory and kidney problems, rashes and, longer-term, bone cancer, as well as damaged reproductive and neurological systems. Iraqi civilians -- many more than the 100,000 who died in the conflict or as a result of the war -- also suffer from a range of similar health problems. Families of soldiers should be very worried.
A huge amount of ordnance has already been unleashed in Iraq, and there is no way of knowing how many thousands of tons of depleted uranium will find "permanent storage" in the rubble of Iraq, its soil and the bodies of its people and U.S. occupying forces.
It is certain, however, that the legacy of contamination will add billions to the cost of reconstruction -- and our lack of generosity in Afghanistan is instructive about the sincerity of our pledges in this area. The stingy benefit package the Gulf vets got, even during boom times, is yet another cautionary tale.
The rosy fantasies of a democratized Arab world might make for good sound bites. But the reality of widespread DU use brings to mind the epitaph for the Punic Wars: "They made a desolation and called it Peace."
Iraqi troops massacred from the air as US advances to Baghdad (April 4) (MUST READ!)
(...) Amid the shameless celebration by the US media of the American assault, it is necessary to call things by their right name. What is unfolding in Iraq is a slaughter. It is one of historys most unequal military conflicts. The US and British invasion forces are utilising their unchallenged control of the air and overwhelming technical supremacy to rain down death on Iraqi troops. CLIP
'Liberated' city where looters run wild and death stalks the streets (April 4)
Nasiriyah is a city of suffering. After some of the most intense and bloody fighting yet of this war, the United States has now declared this city of up to 300,000 people in its control - the largest city in Iraq to have been "liberated". Liberation has come at a price of undoubted suffering for the people of this settlement on the Euphrates: doctors claim that up to 250 people were killed by US air strikes or artillery attacks, and that up to 1,000 were injured. This could be the greatest challenge for the Allied forces. They have pushed north quickly, and many of the towns they have passed remain at best unstable. How best to police these cities without appearing as an occupying force appears to be something about which the Americans are unclear. CLIP
Rural Casualties Go Uncounted In Iraq (April 4)
Samar Hussein was killed by a bomb that fell on dusty farmland miles outside Baghdad. But, as Kim Sengupta discovers, she is just one of this war's forgotten victims Samar Hussein was in the kitchen helping her aunt Alia Mijbas to make breakfast when the missile landed. The farmhouse where they lived, like most of the homes in the area, is built of a soft, brown stone, and the explosion was close enough for shrapnel to cut through the house's outer walls like butter and slice into Samar's stomach. Alia was struck on both legs by razor-sharp fragments, while her five-year-old son Mahmood, who was drinking a glass of milk, was hit on the chest and shoulders. The blast knocked over the cooker, which burst into flames, severely burning one of Mahmood's brothers, 11-year-old Sahal. All were rushed to hospital, but Samar died before they got there. She was 13 years old. The victims of this particular explosion were in Manaria, a village in Mohammedia district, about 30 miles south of Baghdad. Since the war began, this mostly rural area of dusty brown fields and quiet villages has seen 53 inhabitants injured and 22 killed. These figures don't come from Iraqi government ministers as they tot up the numbers of victims of "American and British aggression" during their daily news conferences in Baghdad. Instead, I learnt of these deaths from a doctor at the local hospital. For it seems that, while vivid atrocities in Baghdad - such as the marketplace bombings at Sha'ad and Shu'ale, which killed 72 people in two days - get huge international publicity, everyone, including Saddam Hussein's regime, is unaware of the steadily rising number of casualties in the rural areas just outside the capital.
Either Take a Shot or Take a Chance (March 28)
"We had a great day," Sergeant Schrumpf said. "We killed a lot of people." (...) "We dropped a few civilians," Sergeant Schrumpf said, "but what do you do?" To illustrate, the sergeant offered a pair of examples from earlier in the week. "There was one Iraqi soldier, and 25 women and children," he said, "I didn't take the shot." But more than once, Sergeant Schrumpf said, he faced a different choice: one Iraqi soldier standing among two or three civilians. He recalled one such incident, in which he and other men in his unit opened fire. He recalled watching one of the women standing near the Iraqi soldier go down. "I'm sorry," the sergeant said. "But the chick was in the way." CLIP
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