Education is at least partly buttressed by the fact that almost everybody supports the idea of public schools. Cuts generally provoke an outcry, and politicians often pledge to do their best to restore funding as soon as the economy improves. Mental health and homelessness services, by contrast, are in some ways more vulnerable over the long-run: the constituencies they serve tend to be perceived by much of the public as nuisances at best, as societal menaces at worst; services to these groups tend to be costly; and the success rates (illnesses controlled, homeless folks moved into permanent housing) are, while a whole lot better than nothing, sometimes mediocre.
And so, as local and state government budget crunches worsen, it’s no surprise many of these services are on the chopping block.
The Centre on Budget and Policy Priorities (CBPP) reports that Connecticut’s governor has proposed suspending all state-funded homeless services for the rest of the fiscal year; California has eliminated funding for domestic violence shelters; Massachusetts has reduced spending on geriatric mental health services; Ohio has, according to the CBPP report “eliminated virtually all state funding for mental health treatment for individuals who are not eligible for the state’s Medicaid programme”; while Virginia has reduced the amount it pays hospitals to treat people with mental health or substance abuse issues and slashed its grants to local mental health service providers.
In fact, search online for mental health cuts by state, and it rapidly becomes clear that across America the already-fragile community mental health service infrastructure is being battered.
The impacts are by no means abstract. Community mental health clinics provide not just medicines and counselling services, but an array of other support: they help the mentally ill find housing and jobs; and they work with them to navigate complex government bureaucracies and access benefits. They provide friendship to people who are frequently lonely, depressed and marginalised from the broader community. Cuts to the mental health infrastructure in Kansas have resulted in a documented increase in calls to suicide hotlines and rising numbers of people being admitted to psychiatric hospitals in a psychotic state. Communities like Santa Barbara, California, have seen homelessness spike at least in part because broke local mental health services are having to turn sick men and women away.
And, once homeless, the mentally ill – as well as the non-mentally ill homeless – face a similar scramble for scarce resources. Tens of millions of dollars have been removed from city shelters in Washington DC, the nation’s capital. As winter set in last November in Minnesota, one of the coldest states in America, thousands of low-income families lost emergency financial assistance to help pay rent to avoid being evicted. The National Coalition for the Homeless estimates more than 700 homeless Americans die of hypothermia each year – and with homeless services being slashed, that number will likely increase in the years to come.
Meanwhile, New York City is considering closing the largest homeless drop-in centre in Manhattan. Activists worry that homeless residents with drug addictions, HIV, tuberculosis, or mental illnesses will find it harder to access treatment if they aren’t in stable housing situations. And that, ultimately, could trigger a broader public health problem.
In cities, counties, and states across America, homeless and mental health services are being eviscerated. As a result, programmes that have been carefully built up over decades are going to close. With them will go the expertise of trained staff; the accumulated experience of caseworkers who have gotten to know the needs and behaviours of individual clients, and who might have spent years getting those individuals to trust them enough to let them provide help; and the fragile bonds, the sense of belonging, that in some instances are the only things keeping a person on the edge from spiralling into more serious illness and more intractable long-term homelessness.
There are no easy answers here: too many branches of government have simply run out of cash and of quick-fix solutions. Without more support for these programmes from the federal government, or local ballot measures that earmark funds for particular social services, it’s inevitable that many of them will be cut in the next few years.
But, at the very least, this merits a frank conversation, an acknowledgment that the risks associated with dismantling this infrastructure are huge: tear down services to these groups during the down times and there is just no guarantee that a political consensus will emerge at the back end of the fiscal crisis to restore such services. After all, homeless people or the seriously mentally ill don’t tend to have much of a political voice. Their needs are, too often, seen as irrelevant.
The undermining of these vital social services will have an impact that long outlives the current economic crisis. Nothing would more forcefully illustrate the phrase “private affluence and public squalor“, coined by progressive economist John Kenneth Galbraith, than a booming America, its landscape littered by ever more homeless encampments, ever greater numbers of untreated mentally ill people and, in consequence, a growing sense that, for the affluent majority, public spaces are unsafe and unseemly. That happened in Victorian England; it occurred again in both America and the UK in the 1980s. It would be a great tragedy to let the 2010s and 2020s witness a repeat performance.
X-ray image of the large rubber bullet lodged into Ellen Stark’s arm when she was shot by an Israeli military barrage of tear gas and rubber bullets. The soldiers shot at her as she stood, un-armed, not engaged in the demonstration, from just three meters away. 19 March 2010, An Nabi Saleh
Friday’s demonstration in An Nabi Saleh saw an increase in violence and collective punishment from the Israeli military, as twenty-five demonstrators were injured, windows of cars and homes were intentionally shattered, and three were arrested. ISM volunteer Ellen Stark was shot at point blank range (4 meters) with a rubber bullet as she stood with medics, Popular Committee members and other internationals. ISM co-founder Huwaida Arraf was arrested while negotiating with the IOF to allow Ellen through the military line to get to the hospital. According to Ellen, “we were standing on Palestinian land, in support of the village who’s land has been confiscated but we weren’t even demonstrating yet. We were standing with medics who were also shot with tear gas.”
Ellen had to undergo surgery to remove the bullet, which was lodged between her ulna and radius of her right arm. Her wrist is broken as a result of the bullet impact. As of 12:00 pm Saturday, Palestine time, Huwaida has yet to be located in the Israeli prison system.
Over an hour before the demonstration began, soldiers took position on a hilltop near the house of an An Nabi Saleh Popular Committee member signaling to activists that the peaceful march would likely be cut short yet again by soldiers using crowd dispersal tactics such as tear gas and sound grenades. The demonstration was able to take it’s usual course, as IOF soldiers blocked the path of the activists, and began to surround them from multiple sides. Only ten minutes into the demonstration, the army began firing tear gas and rubber bullets at a small group of international, Israeli, and Palestinian activists only four meters away, injuring International Solidarity Movement volunteer, Ellen Stark. Omar Saleh Tamimi, Amjad Abed Alkhafeez Tamimi and International Solidarity Movement co-founder Huwaida Arraf were arrested as they asked Israeli military personnel to stop firing tear gas canisters and rubber bullets at Stark as she was helped to safety.
Israeli forces then entered the center of the village where they continued firing tear gas, sound grenades, and rubber bullets for several hours. Over twenty five were injured, including an 84-year old woman who suffered from tear gas inhalation after tear gas canisters were fired into her house, and three others who were shot with rubber bullets, including an Israeli activist; four remain hospitalized.
Later in the demonstration, soldiers began shooting rubber bullets through the windows of houses, shops, and cars, shattering homes and livelihoods, as they used collective punishment to attempt to suppress these weekly demonstrations.
These incidents come as the Israeli government intensifies repression of the unarmed, popular resistance to the occupation of the West Bank, illegal land confiscation by settlements such as Halamish, and construction of the illegal apartheid wall. Two weeks ago in An Nabi Saleh, 14-year-old Ehab Fadel Beir Ghouthi’s skull was fractured as a rubber bullet shot by the Israeli military, leaving him in a coma for several days. He remains in a hospital in Ramallah where he is recovering; his condition is stable and improving.
Today and every Friday since January, around 100 un-armed demonstrators leave the village center in an attempt to reach a spring which boarders land confiscated by Jewish settlers. The District Coordination Office has confirmed the spring is on Palestinian land but nearly a kilometer before reaching the spring, the demonstration is routinely met with dozens of soldiers armed with M16 assault rifles, tear gas, rubber bullets and stun grenades.
The Halamish Settlement has confiscated nearly half of An Nabi Saleh’s orchard and farmland since it was founded in 1977. According to village residents the settlement confiscates more land each year without consent or compensation of the landowners.
The Firedoglake health care team has been covering the debate in congress since it began last year. The health care bill will come up for a vote in the House on Sunday, and as Nancy Pelosi works to wrangle votes, we’ve been running a detailed whip count on where every member of Congress stands, updated throughout the day.
We’ve also taken a detailed look at the bill, and have come up with 18 often stated myths about this health care reform bill.
Real health care reform is the thing we’ve fought for from the start. It is desperately needed. But this bill falls short on many levels, and hurts many people more than it helps.
A middle class family of four making $66,370 will be forced to pay $5,243 per year for insurance. After basic necessities, this leaves them with $8,307 in discretionary income — out of which they would have to cover clothing, credit card and other debt, child care and education costs, in addition to $5,882 in annual out-of-pocket medical expenses for which families will be responsible. Many families who are already struggling to get by would be better off saving the $5,243 in insurance costs and paying their medical expenses directly, rather than being forced to by coverage they can’t afford the co-pays on.
In addition, there is already a booming movement across the country to challenge the mandate. Thirty-three states already have bills moving through their houses, and the Idaho governor was the first to sign it into law yesterday. In Virginia it passed through both a Democratic House and Senate, and the governor will sign it soon. It will be on the ballot in Arizona in 2010, and is headed in that direction for many more. Republican senators like Dick Lugar are already asking their state attorney generals to challenge it. There are two GOP think tanks actively helping states in their efforts, and there is a booming messaging infrastructure that covers it beat-by-beat.
Whether Steny Hoyer believes the legality of the bill will prevail in court or not is moot, it could easily become the “gay marriage” of 2010, with one key difference: there will be no one on the other side passionately opposing it. The GOP is preparing to use it as a massive turn-out vehicle, and it not only threatens representatives in states like Florida, Colorado and Ohio where these challenges will likely be on the ballot — it threatens gubernatorial and down-ticket races as well. Artur Davis, running for governor of Alabama, is already being put on the spot about it.
While details are limited, there is apparently a “Plan B” alternative that the White House was considering, which would evidently expand existing programs — Medicaid and SCHIP. It would cover half the people at a quarter of the price, but it would not force an unbearable financial burden to those who are already struggling to get by. Because it creates no new infrastructure for the purpose of funneling money to private insurance companies, there is no need for Bart Stupak’s or Ben Nelson’s language dealing with abortion — which satisfies the concerns of pro-life members of Congress, as well as women who are looking at the biggest blow to women’s reproductive rights in 35 years with the passage of this bill. Both programs are already covered under existing law, the Hyde amendment.
But perhaps most profoundly, the bill does not mandate that people pay 8% of their annual income to private insurance companies or face a penalty of up to 2% — which the IRS would collect. As Marcy Wheeler noted in an important post entitled “Health Care on the Road to NeoFeudalism,” we stand on the precipice of doing something truly radical in our government, by demanding that Americans pay almost as much money to private insurance companies as they do in federal taxes:
When this passes, it will become clear that Congress is no longer the sovereign of this nation. Rather, the corporations dictating the laws will be.
I understand the temptation to offer 30 million people health care. What I don’t understand is the nonchalance with which we’re about to fundamentally shift the relationships of governance in doing so.
We started down a dangerous road with Wall Street banks in the early 90s, allowing them to flood our political system with money and write our laws so that taxpayers would subsidize their profits, assume their losses and remove themselves from the necessity of competition. By funneling so much money into the companies who created the very problems we are now attempting to address, we further empower them to hijack our legislative process and put more than just our health care system at risk. We risk our entire system of government.
Congress may be too far down the road with this bill to change course and save themselves — and us. But before Democrats cast this vote, which could endanger not only their Congressional majority but their ability to “fix” things later on, they should consider the first rule of patient safety: first, do no harm.
|1. This is a universal health care bill.
||The bill is neither universal health care nor universal health insurance.
Per the CBO:
|2. Insurance companies hate this bill
||This bill is almost identical to the plan written by AHIP, the insurance company trade association, in 2009. The original Senate Finance Committee bill was authored by a former Wellpoint VP. Since Congress released the first of its health care bills on October 30, 2009, health care stocks have risen 28.35%.|
|3. The bill will significantly bring down insurance premiums for most Americans.
||The bill will not bring down premiums significantly, and certainly not the $2,500/year that the President promised.
Annual premiums in 2016, status quo / with bill:
Small group market, single: $7,800 / $7,800
Small group market, family: $19,300 / $19,200
Large Group market, single: $7,400 / $7,300
Large group market, family: $21,100 / $21,300
Individual market, single: $5,500 / $5,800*
Individual market, family: $13,100 / $15,200*
|4. The bill will make health care affordable for middle class Americans.
||The bill will impose a financial hardship on middle class Americans who will be forced to buy a product that they can’t afford to use.A family of four making $66,370 will be forced to pay $5,243 per year for insurance. After basic necessities, this leaves them with $8,307 in discretionary income — out of which they would have to cover clothing, credit card and other debt, child care and education costs, in addition to $5,882 in annual out-of-pocket medical expenses for which families will be responsible.|
|5. This plan is similar to the Massachusetts plan, which makes health care affordable.||Many Massachusetts residents forgo health care because they can’t afford it.A 2009 study by the state of Massachusetts found that:
|6. This bill provide health care to 31 million people who are currently uninsured.
||This bill will mandate that millions of people who are currently uninsured must purchase insurance from private companies, or the IRS will collect up to 2% of their annual income in penalties. Some will be assisted with government subsidies.|
|7. You can keep the insurance you have if you like it.||
The excise tax will result in employers switching to plans with higher co-pays and fewer covered services.
Older, less healthy employees with employer-based health care will be forced to pay much more in out-of-pocket expenses than they do now.
|8. The “excise tax” will encourage employers to reduce the scope of health care benefits, and they will pass the savings on to employees in the form of higher wages.||There is insufficient evidence that employers pass savings from reduced benefits on to employees.
|9. This bill employs nearly every cost control idea available to bring down costs.
||This bill does not bring down costs and leaves out nearly every key cost control measure, including:
|10. The bill will require big companies like WalMart to provide insurance for their employees||The bill was written so that most WalMart employees will qualify for subsidies, and taxpayers will pick up a large portion of the cost of their coverage.|
|11. The bill “bends the cost curve” on health care.
||The bill ignored proven ways to cut health care costs and still leaves 24 million people uninsured, all while slightly raising total annual costs by $234 million in 2019.“Bends the cost curve” is a misleading and trivial claim, as the US would still spend far more for care than other advanced countries.
In 2009, health care costs were 17.3% of GDP.
Annual cost of health care in 2019, status quo: $4,670.6 billion (20.8% of GDP)
Annual cost of health care in 2019, Senate bill: $4,693.5 billion (20.9% of GDP)
|12. The bill will provide immediate access to insurance for Americans who are uninsured because of a pre-existing condition.||Access to the “high risk pool” is limited and the pool is underfunded. It will cover few people, and will run out of money in 2011 or 2012Only those who have been uninsured for more than six months will qualify for the high risk pool. Only 0.7% of those without insurance now will get coverage, and the CMS report estimates it will run out of funding by 2011 or 2012.|
|13. The bill prohibits dropping people in individual plans from coverage when they get sick.||The bill does not empower a regulatory body to keep people from being dropped when they’re sick.There are already many states that have laws on the books prohibiting people from being dropped when they’re sick, but without an enforcement mechanism, there is little to hold the insurance companies in check.|
|14. The bill ensures consumers have access to an effective internal and external appeals process to challenge new insurance plan decisions.||The “internal appeals process” is in the hands of the insurance companies themselves, and the “external” one is up to each state.
Ensuring that consumers have access to “internal appeals” simply means the insurance companies have to review their own decisions. And it is the responsibility of each state to provide an “external appeals process,” as there is neither funding nor a regulatory mechanism for enforcement at the federal level.
|15. This bill will stop insurance companies from hiking rates 30%-40% per year.
||This bill does not limit insurance company rate hikes. Private insurers continue to be exempt from anti-trust laws, and are free to raise rates without fear of competition in many areas of the country.|
|16. When the bill passes, people will begin receiving benefits under this bill immediately
||Most provisions in this bill, such as an end to the ban on pre-existing conditions for adults, do not take effect until 2014. Six months from the date of passage, children could not be excluded from coverage due to pre-existing conditions, though insurance companies could charge more to cover them. Children would also be allowed to stay on their parents’ plans until age 26. There will be an elimination of lifetime coverage limits, a high risk pool for those who have been uninsured for more than 6 months, and community health centers will start receiving money.
|17. The bill creates a pathway for single payer.
||Bernie Sanders’ provision in the Senate bill does not start until 2017, and does not cover the Department of Labor, so no, it doesn’t create a pathway for single payer.
Obama told Dennis Kucinich that the Ohio Representative’s amendment is similar to Bernie Sanders’ provision in the Senate bill, and creates a pathway to single payer. Since the waiver does not start until 2017, and does not cover the Department of Labor, it is nearly impossible to see how it gets around the ERISA laws that stand in the way of any practical state single payer system.
|18 The bill will end medical bankruptcy and provide all Americans with peace of mind.
||Most people with medical bankruptcies already have insurance, and out-of-pocket expenses will continue to be a burden on the middle class.
*Cost of premiums goes up somewhat due to subsidies and mandates of better coverage. CBO assumes that cost of individual policies goes down 7-10%, and that people will buy more generous policies.
- March 11, Letter from Doug Elmendorf to Harry Reid (PDF)
- The AHIP Plan in Context, Igor Volsky; The Max Baucus WellPoint/Liz Fowler Plan, Marcy Wheeler
- CBO Score, 11-30-2009
- “Affordable” Health Care, Marcy Wheeler
- Gruber Doesn’t Reveal That 21% of Massachusetts Residents Can’t Afford Health Care, Marcy Wheeler; Massachusetts Survey (PDF)
- Health Care on the Road to Neo-Feudalism, Marcy Wheeler
- CMS: Excise Tax on Insurance Will Make Your Insurane Coverage Worse and Cause Almost No Reduction in NHE, Jon Walker
- Employer Health Costs Do Not Drive Wage Trends, Lawrence Mishel
- CBO Estimates Show Public Plan With Higher Savings Rate, Congress Daily; Drug Importation Amendment Likely This Week, Politico; Medicare Part D IAF; A Monopoloy on Biologics Will Drain Health Care Resources, Lancet Student
- MaxTax Is a Plan to Use Our Taxes to Reward Wal-Mart for Keeping Its Workers in Poverty, Marcy Wheeler
- Estimated Financial Effects of the “Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act of 2009,” as Proposed by the Senate Majority Leader on November 18, 2009, CMS (PDF)
- Health insurance companies hang onto their antitrust exemption, Protect Consumer Justice.org
- What passage of health care reform would mean for the average American, DC Examiner
- How to get a State Single Payer Opt-Out as Part of Reconciliation, Jon Walker
- Medical bills prompt more than 60 percent of U.S. bankruptcies, CNN.com; The Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act Section‐by‐Section Analysis (PDF)
Did you know that Adam Lambert has a bulge in his crotch? Were you aware that the world’s shortest man recently died? Are you informed enough to know that Jessica Simpson says men are “undressing her with their eyes”?
Sorry, let me rephrase all that: Do you give a shit about any of that retarded “news”? I sure as hell don’t, but these were among the many absurd storys I found on the front page of a tabloid called the Huffington Post.
As far as genuine news goes the Huffington Post has some bizarre standards. Jesse Ventura honored the ragsheet by writing a great piece for them. The former Navy Seal and former Governor explained why over 1,000 Architects and Structural Engineers have come together to demand a new investigation regarding the collapse of three high-rise buildings on 9/11. It was a fact filled article that clearly explained the main technical issues that motivated the experts to demand a new investigation. Unfortunately, Ventura was informed that the article did not meet the high standards of the Huffington Post’s editorial policy.
Jesse Ventura blew it. He probably should have talked about the Engineers crotches, and included some bulge pictures. Maybe that would have put the article in line with the pathetic tabloid’s standards. Who knows. Maybe the Navy seal needed to include some discussion of a deformed midget Architect who was dying. That might have made Huffington’s day.
Either way, the censorship backfired and blew up in Arianna Huffington’s puffy face. Thousands of web pages have proudly stepped up to the plate and printed Ventura’s excellent article. Good websites. The article ended up getting way more exposure. Maybe the best thing is that Huffington’s censorship is now well known, and they have been fully exposed as the pathetic rag-sheet they are.
All is well that ends well.
Souad Al Azzawi | BRussels Tribunal | March 19, 2010
I pride myself in being a scientist and a researcher. I built my academic career on theories and numbers. As a teacher, I teach my students that everything is based in science – everything has a reason. That is why, I am always frustrated with myself when I find I am overwhelmed with feelings on specific topics.
One such topic is the occupation of my country, Iraq. On this subject I find that I cannot always be dispassionate. I cannot be the researcher and observer and discuss it without feelings or emotions as I am sometimes expected to do. I find myself doing research on the damages caused by the war and occupation, and my head buzzes with anger, my eyes burn with tears of desperation at the state of my country.
I decided, I would view it as a scientist. I would not attack the subject with emotion. I would let the numbers speak for themselves. This year I will sit back and play the part of the analyst- the researcher- on the topic that is closest to my heart.
We will show that the American occupation violated children’s rights on all levels, including health care, education, social security, family unity and non separation of children from their parents through detention, imprisonment and exile. For two decades, Iraqi children, along with all other elements of Iraqi society, have been subjected to grave violations of human rights.
The American occupation forces, and the occupation-assigned Iraqi government, grossly failed to fulfill their most basic duties towards the children of Iraq in accordance with the UN/CRC Convention on the Rights of the Child, Resolution 25/ Session 44, November 1989. The convention was ratified by 194 United Nations countries, except the USA and Somalia.
Principals of the CRC emphasized the need to protect children’s rights’ to life and physical, mental, moral, and spiritual development in a safe environment.
Numerous violations of Iraqi children’s rights have systematically and continuously been committed under the American occupation of Iraq.
We will show that the American occupation violated children’s rights on all levels, including health care, education, social security, family unity and the non separation of children from their parents through detention, imprisonment and exile.
1.Iraqi Children under the Economic Sanctions (1990-2003)
During the economic sanctions imposed on Iraq, the country was denied the right to import equipment, medicine, educational items, health care requirements, etc. The economic sanctions were imposed by US/UK administrations and enforced by UN resolution 661 in 1990. The sanctions committee in the UN was dominated by the USA and UK, who insisted on blocking most essentials related to human rights
2.Status of Iraqi Children under the Anglo-American Occupation of Iraq
Thirteen years of suffering and the death of more than half a million children under five as a result of economic sanctions ended with the American invasion of Iraq in 2003. Iraqi people, and children have had to face the excessive use of power, shock and awe techniques, raids, the destruction of infrastructure, burning and looting of the civil services and cultural centers of Iraq, damage to health care centers and hospitals, and sectarian killing staged by occupation intelligence. Numerous violations of Iraqi children’s rights have continuously and systematically been committed under the Anglo- American occupation of Iraq.
■ Direct killing during the military invasion operations where civilians were targeted directly. Additional casualties amongst children have resulted from unexploded ordinances along military engagement routes.
■ The direct killing and abuse of children during American troop raids on civilian areas like Fallujah, Haditha, Mahmodia, Telafer, Anbar, Mosul, and most of the other Iraqi cities. The Massacre of the children in Haditha in 2005 is a good example of “collateral damage” among civilians.
■ Daily car bombs casualties, explosion of buildings and other terrorist attacks on civilians.
■ Detention and torture of Iraqi children in American and Iraqi governmental prisons. While in detention, the children are being brutalized, raped, and tortured. American guards videotaped these brutal crimes in Abu Graib and other prisons.
■ Poverty due to economic collapse and corruption caused acute malnutrition among Iraqi children. As was reported by Oxfam in July 2007, up to eight million Iraqis required immediate emergency aid, with nearly half the population living in “absolute poverty”.
■ Starving whole cities as collective punishment by blocking the delivery of food, aid, and sustenance before raiding them increased the suffering of the young children and added more casualties among them.
■ Microbial pollution and lack of sanitation including drinking water shortages for up to 70% of the population caused the death of “one in eight Iraqi children” before their fifth birthday. Death of young children in Iraq has been attributed to water borne diseases such as diarrhea, cholera, typhoid, hepatitis, etc .
■ Contaminating and exposing other heavily populated cities to chemically toxic and radioactive ammunitions. Weapons like cluster bombs, Napalm, white phosphorous, and Depleted Uranium all caused drastic increases of cancer incidences, deformations in children, multiple malignancies and child leukemia. Children in areas like Basrah, Baghdad, Nasriya, Samawa, Fallujah, Dewania and other cities have been having multifold increases of such diseases. Over 24% of all children born in Fallujah in October 2009 had birth defects.The Minister of Environment in Iraq called upon the international community to help Iraqi authorities in facing the huge increase of cancer cases in Iraq.
■ The deterioration of the health care system and the intentional assassination of medical doctors have resulted in an increased number of casualties amongst children. It has been estimated that the mortality rate amongst the population of Iraq reached 650,000 from 2003 to 2006. Another survey indicated that the total number of dead for the period of 2003-2007 is about one million. Among other cases, the failures of the health care system were specified as one of the major causes.
■ Damage to the educational system. By 2004, it was estimated that two out of every three Iraqi children were dropping out of school. Statistics released by the Ministry of Education in October 2006 indicated that only 30% of the 3.5 million students were actually attending schools. Prior to the US invasion, UNESCO indicated that school attendance was nearly 100%. Assassination of educators and academics in Iraq drove their colleagues to leave the country. This brain drain and the intended destruction of schools and the educational system is part of the well planned cultural cleansing of the Iraqi society and identity.
■ Total collapse of Iraq’s economy, the sectarian violence, American troop raids on civilians, the killing of a dear family member have all deprived the children in Iraq of an innocent, carefree childhood that is the right of any child. They have to deal with family breakdowns, poverty, and a complete and total lack of security. Iraqi children are being forced to assume income generating roles because their families are suffering from hunger and poverty. They are leaving schools and having to deal with adult problems such as unemployment, manual labor, etc. This situation exposes them to hardship, and many forms of abuse. Exposure to violence on a daily basis has affected their psychological development and behavior as well.
■ The drastic increase in the number of orphans in Iraq. The Ministry of Labor and Social Affairs estimated the number of Iraqi orphans to be around 4.5 million. Other estimates put them at around 5 million. About 500,000 of those orphans live on the streets without any home or family or specialized institutions to take care of them. Among these orphans, 700 are in Iraqi prisons and another 100 in American prisons.
■ The problems of families who were forced to migrate and the impact on their children. Since the invasion of Iraq, there have been about 2.2 million internally displaced people who were forced to migrate due to sectarian violence, American violence, etc. Well over two million other Iraqis were driven out of Iraq. On November 20, 2007 UNESCO reports indicated that the number of Iraqi children taking refuge in Syria alone was around 300,000. The problems of children who have been forced to migrate represent a real humanitarian crisis where a large number of families have no shelter, no finances, no health care, no education, and no security of any kind.
3.Deterioration of Living Conditions of Displaced Iraqi Children
This case study was conducted by the author with the help of the Iraqi Women Will body (IWW), an Iraqi NGO fighting for Iraqi women’s rights inside and outside of Iraq.
In October 2009, around 300 copies of the questionnaire were distributed to Iraqi families within the Yarmouk refugee area of Damascus, Syria. The researchers visited these families to ensure the accuracy of the answers and to conduct personal interviews.
You can read the case study and the conclusions on the website of The BRussells Tribunal here.
Violations of Iraqi Children Rights Under the American Occupation
Dr. Souad N. Al-Azzawi, Associate Professor in Environmental Engineering
|March 1, 2010
For two decades, Iraqi children, along with all other elements of Iraqi society, have been subjected to grave human rights violations.
These violations began with the destruction of all civil services and Iraqi civil infrastructure by the US/UK aggression on Iraq during the Gulf War of 1991, and were followed by the brutal economical sanctions which deprived the people of Iraq of food, clean water, health care, education and security.
As a result more than half a million Iraqi children died during the nineties .The thirteen years of suffering under embargo ended with the American invasion of Iraq in 2003.
Another form of suffering was born in 2003 under the American occupation. As if the causalities of the excessive use of power during military operations were not enough, the invasion operations consisted of systematically burning and looting of civil services and infrastructure, health care centers, schools and universities, industrial compounds, etc . As stated in UNAMI’s report of November 2006, Iraq can be described as “a nation that has been plunged into barbarism since the US-invasion in 2003″.
Under the American occupation, lack of security, sectarian violence, deterioration of health care systems, poverty, massive imprisonments, clean water shortages, limited or no electrical power, environmental pollution and lack of sanitation all contributed to grave violations to children’s rights and a drastic increase in the child mortality rate. It has been reported that one out of eight children in Iraq die before their fifth birthday .
The forces of the American occupation, and the occupation-assigned Iraqi government, grossly failed to fulfill their most basic duties towards the children of Iraq in accordance with the UN/CRC Convention on the Rights of the Child, Resolution 25/ Session 44, November 1989 . The convention was ratified by 194 countries of the United Nations, except the USA and Somalia.
Principals of the CRC emphasized the need to protect children’s rights’ of life and physical, mental, moral, and spiritual development in a safe environment.
We will show that the American occupation violated children’s rights on all levels, including health care, education, social security, family unity and not to separate children from their parents through detention, imprisonment and exile.
In this report the status and violations of Iraqi children’s rights under the American occupation is presented with special emphasis on the problems of the Iraqi children refugees in Syria.
During the economic sanctions imposed on Iraq by the USA, Iraq was denied the right to import equipment, medicine, educational items, health care requirements, etc. The economic sanctions were imposed by US/UK administrations and enforced by UN resolution 661 in 1990. The sanctions committee in the UN was dominated by the USA and UK, who insisted on blocking most essentials related to human rights .
The sanction was a war against the children of Iraq in the following ways:
When asked if the death of half a million Iraqi children was a price worth paying, USA ambassador to the UN Madelyn Albright answered “We think the price is worth it.” .
This answer concludes how desperate the US and UK are to control oil fields in Iraq and all over the world.
Thirteen years of suffering and the death of more than half a million children as a result of economic sanctions ended with the American invasion of Iraq in 2003. People, and the children of Iraq, have had to face the excessive use of power, the shock and awe techniques, raids, the destruction of infrastructure, burning and looting of the civil services and cultural centers of Iraq, damage to health care centers and hospitals, and the sectarian killing staged by occupation intelligence .
Numerous violations to Iraqi children’s rights have been committed continuously and systematically under the American occupation of Iraq.
The children of Iraq have been major victims of the occupation as a result of the following:
This case study was conducted by the author with the help of the Iraqi Women Will body (IWW), an Iraqi NGO fighting for Iraqi women’s rights inside and outside of Iraq.
The author and her assistant conducted door to door visits to the families who answered the questionnaire.
In October 2009, around 300 copies of the questionnaire displayed in Annex 1 was distributed to Iraqi families within the Yarmouk refugee area of Damascus, Syria. The researchers visited these families to ensure the accuracy of the answers and to conduct personal interviews.
Of the 300 distributed questionnaires, only 120 were answered as many families were fearful of giving detailed information such as the names and address of their children in fear of being exposed to further assault by sectarian militias or the security forces of the occupation assigned government.
Of the 120 answered questionnaires, 94 of them were completely analyzed with full information regarding the names and addresses of the children who answered the questionnaires.
The age range of the studied child population varied from 2 years of age to 18 years of age. The number of girls was 44, or 46.8% of the research population, while the boys numbered 50, or 53.2% of the population.
The questionnaire shown in (Appendix-1) covered the following aspects:
Table-1: places of birth of the children included in this study:
As we can see most of the displaced children within the studied group are from the city Baghdad, which faced the highest rates of raids, killing, and sectarian violence under the occupation.
Table-2 Causes of the parent(s) death of the studied children population:
From Table 2, and answers from the rest of the members of the studied group, we can conclude the below:
Sources of Family Income:
Table-3: The Financial Status of the Families of the Studied Children
Table 3 shows that the families of the children have no steady income. Most of the families sold their homes and other belongings in Iraq to begin a life in refuge. Later, it became very hard to maintain supporting the children without jobs and any kind of financial security. Some of the families receive a retirement pension ranging between $200 – $400 a month for the parent, or grandparent if they are living with them.
Another source of income for some families is UN financial support of about $100 / month plus $10 additional per child.
For the above reasons, many children within the studied group have to work to help sustain their families.
As can be seen from Table 3, the financial status of most of these families is much below the average standard of living, even though the majority of the children’s parents are university level degree holders (i.e. teachers, engineers, etc.).
We can also conclude that most of these families cannot afford the most basic of necessities like quality food, medical care, and a safe, healthy residence.
Educational Status of the Children:
As most of the children within the studied group are from educated families with proper degrees, the survey indicated that in spite of financial struggles, these families attempted to maintain a fair education for their children. Table 4 shows the educational status of the children within the studied group.
Table-4: Educational status of the children in the studied group
As can be seen, 22.4% of the children could not maintain their education due to extreme financial difficulties which resulted in parents being unable to afford even the free education being offered for all Iraqi refugees in Syria. (i.e. parents could not afford the very basic supplies, transportation fees, etc.). Other children were forced into labor in order to help their families survive.
For many Iraqi refugee families, we can see that continuing the education of their children is a luxury that cannot be afforded with the day to day struggle to feed and clothe children with very limited financial aid.
Health and Medical Care Status:
Along with the educational and financial issues these families face, the survey indicated serious health problems amongst the studied child population.
Table 5 below shows the health status of the studied population.
Table-5: Health Status of the Children Within the Studied Group
Table 5 clearly indicates that 46.8% of the studied children face serious health issues. The highest numbers of disabilities are the psychological and mental disorders these children face. The major cause of these issues is the result of occupation force violence, raids, deaths and killings of family members, sometimes in front of the children. Another cause of mental instability is drastic change in the standard of living of these children.
The survey also revealed that only 21 of the 44 health issues faced by the population under study received any form of medical treatment by the Iraqi Red Crescent, UNICEF, and free Syrian healthcare hospitals. In all other cases, medical treatment could not be afforded and was not offered.
For two decades, the US administration and its allies have been committing genocide amongst the Iraqi population, including the children , . The planned genocide began with imposing brutal economic sanctions that crippled a growing nation, and ended with the occupation of Iraq. During this period, intentional, criminal acts against humanity have been committed repeatedly and purposely by the American administration.
Crimes against civilians included even the children of Iraq. These crimes included the destruction of the essentials of civilian infrastructure, exposing children to hunger, famines, pollution of the environment with radiological and persistent toxicants, initiating and promoting sectarian massacres, the killing and torture committed by occupation forces, and forcefully displacing over five million Iraqis.
The excessive and unnecessary use of power against the civilian population, and the intentional targeting of even unborn children, is an indication of a premeditated plan to depopulate Iraq. Depopulating Iraq works in favor of some of the pro-occupation minorities such as the Kurds. Under the protection of the American occupation and Israeli Mossad stationed in Iraqi Kurdistan since 1991, the Kurds are extending their territories through daily killing, bombing and kidnapping Arabs, Turkmen, Christians, Assyrians, and Yazidis in the neighboring territories of Kirkuk, Dialah, Kut, Mosul and other areas within the plan of Kurdish territorial expansion. Children in these areas live in an environment of total chaos, violence and terror.
Of course, depopulation of Third World countries known to have high population growth rates is an active agenda of American Foreign Policy, as was stated by Dr. Henry Kissinger, who wrote: “Depopulation should be the highest priority of US Foreign Policy towards the Third World “.
The direct and indirect killing of about three million Iraqis   since 1991 to control its resources and initiate major demographic changes is a criminal act. The international community is urged to stop this genocide.
The genocide will stop only when the American occupying forces leave Iraq to mend the destruction and terror they’ve been cultivating for the last two decades.
Exposure of Obama Complete
Joe Biden got torpedoed in Israel last week, no question about it. Not as bad as the lethal attack on the USS Liberty, but pretty nasty nonetheless. Biden, however, soldiered on, conferring with his boss for some 90 minutes and leaving the food cold at the Netanyahu homestead.
Bibi’s humiliation of Biden and Obama brought out the whole of the punditry, some of it going so far as to criticize the Zionist state. Even Tom Friedman waxed indignant, counseling that the hapless Veep should have packed up and gone home. But, like Biden, Friedman is certain to get over it just as surely as he recanted recently when he had the poor judgment to utter a kind word about China. Uri Avnery captured the Biden fiasco best, observing that a weakling with spit on his face calls it rain. And Pat Buchanan observed that Biden remained in “full pander mode” even as Israel kicked its American poodle. But by midweek the falsehoods had begun to take hold and the punditry was starting to rewrite the story, with Maureen Dowd spinning the incident as a smackdown of Bibi by Barack who had finally “lost his temper.” This insight rivaled her accompanying characterization of Israeli colonies in East Jerusalem as “a domestic zoning issue.” And by Wednesday, op-eds in the Wall Street Journal and elsewhere were blaming the whole incident on Barry for bringing up the “settlement” issue in the first place. Finally toward week’s end on Thursday the Washington Post revealed that Barry and Bibi had reached a secret understanding that the settlement construction could continue so long as they remained out of public view. Sic semper Obama.
Netanyahu, however, deserves the undying gratitude of every real progressive in the U.S. This past year has been like a dance of the seven veils for Obama. They had been all teased away, save for one. The veil of peace, the veil of civil liberties, the veil of environmentalism, single-payer, nuclear disarmament (ripped away by a big new budget for nukes), opposition to the banksters – stripped away one by one. The only remaining vestment was opposition to Israel’s colonies. And Bibi tore that one off between breakfast and (delayed) dinner, leaving Obama standing as naked as Ishtar or Salome.
So thanks, Bibi, for finishing the job. Now that it’s done we can expect all those who aggressively championed candidate Obama to broadcast effusive apologies for so doing. Let us never forget that Obama was not just the candidate of the Democrats but the hands down choice of the most “progressive” wing of the Party, its dream candidate. By revealing Obama for what he is, the limitations of the Dems are laid bare. Obama is all we can expect from them, and it is not much.
By now Obama’s backers surely recognize that they should not have urged him on us, just because he was so “cool” in schooling and appearance, or because all their friends liked him. Surely by now they realize that they were not voting for prom king but for the Emperor of the U.S.
With Obama’s exposure completed by Bibi, we can expect an apology from the leaders of PDA like Norman Solomon, from the message controllers at The Nation, from other gate keepers in the progressive” movement, from Tom Hayden, Medea Benjamin, Phyllis Bennis and other leaders of UFPJ and the official peace movement, even perhaps from MoveOn.org. Surely they will be in print soon, promising no more pigs in a poke that turn out to be rats when let out of the bag. At the least they will apologize profusely for imposing Obama on us.
I can hardly wait to hear from them.
John V. Walsh can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Israeli forces arrest a Palestinian boy after he attempted to cross the Al-Ram checkpoint on the northern edge of Jerusalem en route to prayers at the Al-Aqsa Mosque on 18 October 2006. [MaanImages/Moamar Awad]
Hebron – Ma’an – Israeli authorities have asked the family of a detained 15-year-old boy to pay 1,500 Israeli shekels (about 400 US dollars) to release the minor, a prisoners solidarity group reported on Saturday.
The boy, Ratib Abu Meizar, was detained on Friday evening in the Zahid neighborhood of central of Hebron in the southern West Bank. He was taken to a detention center housed in the illegal Israeli settlement of Kiryat Arba.
Amjad Najjar, director of the Palestinian Prisoners Society in Hebron, told Ma’an that Abu Meizar’s detention “is a continuation of Israel’s policy of blackmailing the families of detained Palestinian children, a policy which has become official.”
Najjar urged international children’s rights groups to exert pressure on the government of Switzerland and other signatories to the Fourth Geneva Convention to encourage Israel to abide by its responsibilities. Israel is also a signatory to the convention, which extends protection to children in conflict zones.
A spokesman for Israeli police in the West Bank did not immediately return calls seeking comment.
The civil war in Korea from 1950 to 1953 that the United States foolishly intervened in, and, for the first time for a major conflict, without a congressional declaration of war, is known as the Forgotten War. The number of American soldiers killed in this senseless war is over 36,000. Yet, Korea remains divided at the 38th parallel to this day just like it was before the war began. Talk about dying in vain. None of these soldiers died in defense of the United States; all of them died for the United Nations, for the foolish policies of Harry Truman, and for the failed diplomacy of World War II.
Most Americans have no idea that there are still over 24,000 U.S. troops stationed in South Korea (some no doubt the grandchildren of the soldiers who fought in the Korean War). Fewer still probably know anything about the war that put them there in the first place.
There is another war that, incredibly, is fast becoming a forgotten war: the war in Iraq. I lamented last year at this time that we didn’t hear much about the war in Iraq anymore. Even though candidate Barack Obama pledged in 2007 that the first thing he would do if elected was bring the troops home and end the war, the war wasn’t an issue in the 2008 election. And before the electoral vote was even counted, Democratic opposition to the war had evaporated.
Now, on the seventh anniversary of the unconstitutional, immoral, aggressive, unjust, unnecessary, manufactured, manipulated, and senseless war that is the war in Iraq, the escalation of the war in Afghanistan has eclipsed any mention of the ongoing war in Iraq. And this in spite of the fact that there are still 130,000 U.S. troops in Iraq.
When I wrote about the Iraq war on its third anniversary, 2,317 American soldiers had died for a lie. On the fourth anniversary, that number had risen to 3,218. On the fifth, it was up to 3,992. Last year, on the sixth anniversary of the war, the number of dead American soldiers rose to 4,259. Currently, the death toll is at 4,385, with 157 of those deaths since Obama became the new commander in chief. But, it is said, look how the number of deaths per year has fallen. Agreed. But that is no consolation to the father, mother, wife, or child of the soldiers who died in vain and for a lie yesterday, last week, or last month.
Although combat deaths are decreasing in Iraq (but certainly not in Afghanistan), increasing among returning soldiers are suicides, PTSD, broken families, substance abuse, unemployment, horrible memories, lingering injuries, shattered dreams, acts of violence, and criminal activity. And of course, the war is still costing the American taxpayers billions of dollars a week.
But even if only one American soldier had died since last month, even if only one American soldier had died since the last anniversary of the war, even if only one American soldier had died since Obama took office, and even if only one American had died since the beginning of the war, that would still be one too many.
Only the grossly naïve still think that those fighting and dying in Iraq are doing so for our freedoms or to keep us safe from terrorism. The truth is rather that since the war on terrorism began our freedoms have steadily deteriorated and we have created more terrorists.
Before the United States invaded Iraq, not one American had been killed by an Iraqi since the previous time we invaded that country. But no U.S. soldier had to die in either war against Iraq. Bringing “democracy” to Iraq, ridding the country of Saddam Hussein, and destroying Iraq’s weapons of war were not worth the life of one American. They were not worth the shedding of one drop of American blood.
But that’s not all. No Iraqi soldiers had to die, no Iraqi civilians had to die, and no Iraqi children had to die between the wars because of brutal U.S. sanctions.
Yet, Americans who have lamented the senseless deaths of American soldiers, not to mention the deaths of countless numbers of Iraqis, and denounced this war from the beginning are the ones who have been labeled unpatriotic, un-American, communists, and traitors. This callous disregard for human life – American and Iraqi – is appalling, and especially among those who call themselves pro-lifers.
If you love what is left of our republic and want America to be loved instead of hated, blessed instead of cursed, admired instead of despised, and emulated instead of attacked, then you should want the United States to get out of Iraq and the Middle East – and stay out. Oh, it might take years, even decades, to restore America to favor in the eyes of world, but we must start sometime if it ever has a chance of coming to pass.
Do I think U.S. troops will ever leave Iraq? I can answer that with a question: Does the United States still have troops in South Korea?
Laurence M. Vance [send him mail] writes from Pensacola, FL. He is the author of Christianity and War and Other Essays Against the Warfare State and The Revolution that Wasn’t. His newest book is Rethinking the Good War. Visit his website