Saturday, April 29, 2006

Anti war protests in New York

A large demonstration is expected in New York today which provides a "powerful opportunity to raise our voices in favor of immediate withdrawal from Iraq -- and the first real opportunity to come together in large numbers to say no to war on Iran."

Further details are available from

Update: Thousands in NYC March Against Iraq War

"A day after the military announced that April was the deadliest month for U.S. forces in Iraq this year, thousands of anti-war demonstrators marched Saturday through lower Manhattan to demand an immediate withdrawal of troops."

Wednesday, April 26, 2006

Military Families Lobby Parliament

On Wednesday 26th April, families of those killed in Iraq, veterans and those with loved ones in Iraq will walk from Parliament Square to the Cenotaph.

At the Cenotaph they plan lay wreaths and hold a minutes silence. They will then proceed to Downing Street to deliver a petition to Blair demanding he meet with the families.

Update: BBC coverage

Tuesday, April 25, 2006

Craig Murray Weblog: Down but not out

If anyone has been puzzled by the lack of posts or access difficulties on the Craig Murray weblog, its because they have been experiencing some server problems over the last couple of weeks. The problem is being worked on and hopefully the site will be back up and running at full capacity very soon.

Update 29/04/06: The site has been moved to a new host and the name servers should soon be pointing in the right direction... There may also be some formatting issues to deal with before things are back to full normality.

Update 30/04/06: All up and running ok, at last.

The Bunker Buster Movie

With a nuclear strike on Iran apparently still on the table in Washington, this movie from the Union of Concerned Scientists is well worth a look.

Friday, April 21, 2006

London Strategic Voter revises recomendations for May 4th elections

London Strategic Voter (, the anti-war tactical voting site, have now revised their ward-by-ward recommendations for the May 4th local elections based on the actual candidates nominations that have been released by the 33 boroughs. Changes have also been made due to the apparent, unofficial, London electoral pact between the Greens and Respect. This has swung the balance of the recomendations away form the Lib Dems in a number of wards.

Its an interesting analysis...

Tory MP urges Iraq troop pull-out

From BBC Online

A senior Conservative MP has called for British troops to withdraw from Iraq - going against his party's policy.

Michael Ancram, writing in the Daily Mail, says Iraq is effectively in a state of civil war and because of that, troops should be pulled out. Tory policy has been that soldiers should stay as long as necessary.

"It is time now for us to get out of Iraq with dignity and honour while we still can," said the former shadow defence secretary. Mr Ancram said Britain must "not take sides between Sunnis and Shias".

"It has always been evident that in the event of civil war we should just get out," he said. He said it was hard to see what more British troops could do in the country, adding "having set out at the beginning to be part of the solution it is now sadly evident that we are in danger of becoming the problem".

A Tory spokesman told the Daily Mail Mr Ancram was "entitled to his views".

Wednesday, April 19, 2006

Learning to Count: The Dead in Iraq

By Dahr Jamail and Jeff Pflueger in Truthout

How many Iraqis have died as the result of the Anglo-American invasion and occupation of their country remains an unresolved question in the anti-war movement. It is a question the pro-war camp avoids. Yet what more important question is there?

The above quote made by the "compassionate conservative" shows a disturbing trend in the corporate media and amongst the spokespersons of the current powers that be, to camouflage the true cost of the illegal occupation of Iraq - the cost in blood paid by Iraqis. It is a trend that ensures that the enormity of the atrocity goes unnoticed.

Mr. Bush has cited a figure which is obviously taken from the popular anti-war web site Iraq Body Count (IBC), which proudly refers to its work on its home page as "The worldwide update of reported civilian deaths in the Iraq war and occupation." This project estimates a minimum and maximum death count, which as of April 12 had the minimum number of Iraqi dead at 34,030 and the maximum at 38,164. We shall provide a brief description of their biased and flawed methodology after looking at the true level of casualties in Iraq.

We begin with a more accurate number provided by the British medical journal The Lancet on October 29, 2004. The published results of their survey "Mortality before and after the 2003 invasion of Iraq: cluster sample survey" stated, "Making conservative assumptions, we think about 100,000 excess deaths, or more have happened since the 2003 invasion of Iraq. Violence accounted for most of the excess deaths and air strikes from coalition forces accounted for most violent deaths." The report also added that "Most individuals reportedly killed by coalition forces were women and children," and that "Eighty-four percent of the deaths were reported to be caused by the actions of Coalition forces."

To read the full article go here

Meanwhile, civillian casualties mount in the war in Afghanistan, prompting Afghan President Hamid Karzai to call on Canadian, British and American soldiers to show restraint when they attack militants.

Monday, April 17, 2006

Free Malcolm Kendall-Smith

Military Families Against the War have launched a new petition in
support of Flight Lieutenant Dr Malcolm Kendall-Smith who was last
week jailed for 8 months. Please sign and distribute.

The petition can be found here:

You can also send messages of support to Dr Kendall-Smith via his solicitor: [email protected] or use the MFAW online comments.

Update: A fund to help pay the legal costs of Malcolm Kendall-Smith has been established. For more information on this and to read a statement from his family go here

Friday, April 14, 2006

Prisoner of Conscience

The RAF doctor who refused to serve in Iraq because he believed the war to be illegal was jailed for eight months yesterday.

The conviction and imprisonment of Flight Lieutenant Malcolm Kendall-Smith, the first member of the armed forces to be charged with disobeying orders to deploy in Iraq, has provoked widespread condemnation. Anti-war groups declared that a man who had shown great moral courage and acted according to his conscience was being pilloried for his beliefs.

Full story at The Independent

Wednesday, April 12, 2006

Government seeks life imprisonment for soldiers refusing to serve in Iraq

From Military Families Against the War

The Armed Forces Bill now going through Parliament would impose harsh penalties on soldiers who refuse to take part in military occupations. Section 8, which has hardly been mentioned in the media, introduces a new tougher definition of desertion: soldiers who intend to avoid serving in a military occupation of a foreign country or territory can be imprisoned for life.


(1) Write to your MP demanding that they vote against Section 8.

(2) Sign the petition at PetitionOnline

(3) Visit the MFAW site to find out more.

Monday, April 10, 2006

London bombers 'received no direct support from Al Qaeda'

From Reuters

The London bombings last July were planned on a shoestring budget from information on the Internet and with no direct support from al Qaeda, a British newspaper on Sunday quoted a government report as saying.

The attacks on the London transport network that killed 52 people were the product of a "simple and inexpensive" plot hatched by four British suicide bombers bent on martyrdom, the Observer newspaper reported.

The four men had scoured "terror (Web) sites" on the Internet and their knapsack bombs cost only a few hundred pounds (dollars), The Observer said, citing a draft of the government's definitive report on the blasts. Some terrorism experts have in the past cast doubt on reports that bombers could learn how to make the devices from the Internet. After the July 7 attacks, police found an unused explosive rucksack in the bombers' abandoned car, leading to a manhunt for a missing suspect, but the report concludes there was no fifth bomber, the newspaper said.

The official report, due to be published in the next few weeks, also found nothing to support the theory that an al Qaeda fixer, presumed to be from Pakistan, helped plan the attacks. The report does conclude that the four suicide bombers were partly inspired by ringleader Mohammad Sidique Khan's trips to Pakistan. Three of the attackers who carried out western Europe's first suicide bombing were British-born men of Pakistani origin, and the fourth was born in Jamaica.

The British government has rejected calls for a full public inquiry into the London bombings, drawing criticism from victims, politicians and pressure groups. It has argued that an independent probe could prejudice investigations into the attack.

John Reid calls for change in the Geneva Conventions

Pretty clear where Reid is heading on this one I think. He also endorses the concept of pre-emptive wars - all in the defence of democracy you understand...

From The Guardian

"The defence secretary, John Reid, has called for a review of the Geneva convention on the treatment of prisoners of war, saying that the 20th-century rules of war were no longer sufficient. Mr Reid said sweeping changes were needed to the international code in order to counter the threat of "barbaric" global terrorism.

"We risk trying to avoid 21st-century conflict with 20th-century rules, which when they were devised did not contemplate the type of enemy which is now extant," he said.

In a speech to the Royal United Services Institute, Mr Reid warned that the legal grounds for mounting pre-emptive strikes or intervening to prevent genocide or internal repression were no longer adequate."

Wednesday, April 05, 2006

Several Good Reasons Not to Vote Labour on May 4th

Click to visit Backing Blair and play the animation

Tuesday, April 04, 2006

London Strategic Voter Website Launched Today

Click to find out more about Strategic Voting in the May 4th elections in London
London Strategic Voter (, the website launched today by opponents of the Iraq war, aims to maximise the effectiveness of the anti-war and anti-corruption vote at the May 4th local elections. Simply by typing in their postcode on the website, Londoners can find out which progressive party stands the best chance of beating Labour in their council ward. This will be the first time that large-scale tactical voting has been possible in a local election.

London Strategic Voter spokesman Richard Wilson said:

"On May 4th, more than ever, there will be a clear overlap between national, international and local concerns. How much more local an issue can there be than the danger we now face, as a result of Labour policies, every time we get on a bus or tube train?

Last July, dozens of innocent Londoners paid the 'blood price' for Tony Blair's misadventures in Iraq. To the disgust of many survivors, the government has refused to hold a public inquiry, preferring instead to rush through laws which, while doing little to prevent terrorism, give the authorities unprecedented power to curtail human rights. The ntervening months have seen thousands more deaths in Iraq, amid growing evidence of corruption at the heart of our own government. A strong, well-targeted anti-war vote in London will help to convince the Labour Party that Tony Blair's leadership is now unsustainable."

Monday, April 03, 2006

Conflict fuels Iraqi health crisis

From ReliefWeb, the web site of the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs

"When we went there last week we would not leave the base, indeed walking from building to building in the base we had to put on full body-armour. The security situation has deteriorated, there is no doubt about that".(1)Paul Keetch, Liberal Democrat member of the Foreign Affairs Committee.

Much has happened since Medact's Iraq Health Update was published in July 2005. A nationwide constitutional referendum in October was followed by national elections in December to determine the makeup of Iraq's new government. Yet despite these encouraging developments, a U.S. military report released on 23 January 2006, showed a 30% increase in insurgent attacks in 2005 compared to the previous year.(2) The rise in violence has been accompanied by a dramatic increase in the number of kidnappings. According to the Iraq Index Project of the Brookings Institution, up to 30 Iraqis were kidnapped nationwide every day in December 2005.(3)

The total number of international troops in Iraq is currently 157,000.(4) In a remarkably candid assessment that challenges optimistic accounts by the UK and US governments, USAID describes Iraq as a place of 'social breakdown' where 'criminal elements within Iraqi society have had almost free reign.'(5) Attached as an appendix to a paper calling on contractors to bid on its $1.3 billion Focused Stabilization in Strategic Cities Initiative (January 2006), the USAID document claims that 'Baghdad is...divided into zones controlled by organized criminal groups/clans.'(6)

The disastrous security situation has paralysed the Iraqi health sector. Already devastated by eight years of war with Iran from 1980-1988, the first Gulf War in 1991, and more than twelve years of UN sanctions from 1991-2003, the health situation was tenuous even before the U.S.-led invasion in March 2003. Medact's previous updates revealed few improvements and many problems in the first two years of the occupation. An analysis of key health indicators reveals that the health sector remains in dire straights as the 'post-war' period in Iraq nears the end of its third year.

Iraqi death toll still rising
Dr. Bradley A. Woodruff, a medical epidemiologist at the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, referring to the study published in The Lancet in late October 2004 that put the number of Iraqi civilian dead as a result of the U.S. invasion at 98,00, called it " the most valid estimate."(7)

In Medact's last update it was reported that the British government had endorsed figures published by the Iraqi Ministry of Health that put the number of civilian dead between 5 April and 5 October 2004 at 3,853 and the number of wounded at 15,517. These figures may or may not have included insurgent dead and wounded. As was noted at the time, this count only covered a 6-month period and included only casualties attributed to insurgent action.(8) Iraq's Interior Ministry has now taken over responsibility for counting Iraqi dead and their most up-todate figures are that 8,175 Iraqis -- including civilians, soldiers, and police -- were killed by insurgents from August 2004 to May 2005.(9)

Until recently, the U.S. has said very little about Iraqi civilian casualties. However in late October 2005, it was reported in the New York Times that the U.S. military has in fact been monitoring civilian deaths in Iraq.(10) Then, in an answer following a highly publicized speech on December 12, 2005, the President put the number at '30,000, more or less.'(11) This is almost exactly the same as figures kept by Iraq Body Count (

The problem with estimates provided by Iraqi officials and Iraq Body Count is that they only include those deaths that have resulted directly from violence. A much more comprehensive nationwide survey of all cause mortality in Iraq was published in The Lancet in late October 2004. Researchers, led by Dr. Les Roberts, interviewed 988 households and, after extrapolating the results to the rest of the country, found that post-invasion excess mortality amounted to 98,000 civilian deaths. Violence -- rather than myocardial infarctions, cerebrovascular accidents and chronic diseases that had been the leading causes of death prior to the invasion -- accounted for most of these deaths.

Any attempt to gauge mortality in the midst of a conflict will be marked by a degree of uncertainty, but what should be beyond dispute is that the Lancet study is based on sound methodology. Yet in 2005 this continued to be questioned in the press.(12) It is interesting that Roberts used nearly identical sampling techniques to study mortality in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) in 2000, and that U.S. and British officials have quoted these findings without question in speeches condemning the killing in this case.(13)

Meanwhile, innocent Iraqis are continuing to be killed and wounded at an alarming rate. According to one recent estimate, nearly 800 were killed in January 2006, making it the deadliest month since September 2005.(14) In addition to Iraqi casualties, 2274 Americans have been killed and 16,420 have been wounded. More than100 UK soldiers have been killed.(15)

Deepening health crisis
"The only thing I eat all day is a piece of bread with some tomatoes and fried potatoes... .If we eat more than this our father doesn't let us eat the next day."(16) Khalid Amir, a ten-year-old boy living in Baghdad

In 2004 Medact's last Iraq update provided detailed excerpts from the Iraq Living Conditions Survey. COSIT, UNICEF, and the WHO, are currently involved in survey efforts that have either not yet begun or whose results are not yet available to the public.(17) While statistics in a violence-plagued environment such as Iraq are hard to come by, some recent health data has been reported:

According to Hayder Hussainy, a senior official at the Ministry of Health, approximately 50% of Iraqi children suffer from some form of malnourishment and one child in10 is also suffering from chronic disease or illness.(18)

A UN study undertaken in 2005 found that a third of the children in southern and central Iraq are malnourished (the same as in 2003).(19)

According to a 2004 Health Ministry study, 'easily treatable conditions such as diarrhoea and respiratory illness account for 70% of deaths among children.'(20)

For a link to the full report and references go here