During last nights excellent discussion hosted by Leviathan Political Cabaret the question was raised as to whether the media has been instrumental in creating the storm over the Florida pastor and the religious book burning. The New York Times had a good think about it yesterday and Juan Cole posted a list of the ‘Top Stories More Important than Quran-Burning Nut Job’ today.
But the Irish Times gives a perfect example of how media priorities shape not only our perception of the world, but the political energy devoted to the issues reported:
The caption beneath the photo reads:
“Pakistani men hit an effigy of Pastor Terry Jones in Punjab province, Pakistan.”
and just to the right of the image is a link to a story titled:
“Soldiers charged with murder
Twelve US soldiers have been charged with crimes in Afghanistan ranging from murdering civilians to keeping body parts as war trophies.”
A more detailed report on which can be found at the Guardian.
Dramatic increases in infant mortality, cancer and leukaemia in the Iraqi city of Fallujah, which was bombarded by US Marines in 2004, exceed those reported by survivors of the atomic bombs that were dropped on Hiroshima and Nagasaki in 1945, according to a new study.
Iraqi doctors in Fallujah have complained since 2005 of being overwhelmed by the number of babies with serious birth defects, ranging from a girl born with two heads to paralysis of the lower limbs. They said they were also seeing far more cancers than they did before the battle for Fallujah between US troops and insurgents.
Their claims have been supported by a survey showing a four-fold increase in all cancers and a 12-fold increase in childhood cancer in under-14s. Infant mortality in the city is more than four times higher than in neighboring Jordan and eight times higher than in Kuwait.
Dr Chris Busby, a visiting professor at the University of Ulster and one of the authors of the survey of 4,800 individuals in Fallujah, said it is difficult to pin down the exact cause of the cancers and birth defects. He added that “to produce an effect like this, some very major mutagenic exposure must have occurred in 2004 when the attacks happened”. [The Toxic Legacy From the Siege of Fallujah – Worse Than Hiroshima?, CounterPunch, 27/07/10]
Cockburn interviewed by Amy Goodman and Juan Gonzalez on Democracy Now!:
JUAN GONZALEZ: Patrick, I’d like to ask you about this whole other issue of the report on—by Chris Busby and some other epidemiologists about the situation in Fallujah and the enormous increases in leukemias and cancers in Fallujah after the US soldiers’ attack on that city. Could you talk about that?
PATRICK COCKBURN: Sure. I think what’s significant, very significant, about this study is that it confirms lots of anecdotal evidence that there had been a serious increase in cancer, in babies being born deformed, I mean, sometimes with—grotesquely so, babies—you know, a baby girl born with two heads, you know, people born without limbs, then a whole range of cancers increased enormously. That this was—when I was in Fallujah, doctors would talk about this, but, you know one couldn’t—one could write about this, but one couldn’t really prove it from anecdotal evidence. Now this is a study, a scientific study, based on interviews with 4,800 people, which gives—proves that this was in fact happening and is happening. And, of course, it took—you know, it has taken place so much later than the siege of Fallujah, when it was heavily bombarded in 2004 by the US military, because previously, you know, Fallujah is such a dangerous place to this day, difficult to carry out a survey, but it’s been finally done, and the results are pretty extraordinary.
AMY GOODMAN: What were the various weapons that were used in the bombing of Fallujah in 2004?
PATRICK COCKBURN: Well, primarily, it was sort of, you know, artillery and bombing. Initially it was denied that white phosphorus had been used, but later this was confirmed. I think one shouldn’t lose sight of the fact, in this case, that before one thinks about was depleted uranium used and other things, that just simply the use of high—large quantities of high explosives in a city filled with civilians and people packed into houses—often you find, you know, whole families living in one room—was, in itself, going to create, lead to very, very high civilian casualties. But that’s not what we’re talking about here. We’re talking about the increase in cancers and so forth, and the suspicion that maybe depleted uranium, maybe some other weapon, which we don’t know about—this is not my speculation, but of one of the professors who carried out the study—might have been employed in Fallujah, and that would be an explanation for results which parallel, in fact exceed, the illnesses subsequently suffered by survivors of Hiroshima. [Democracy Now!, 29/07/10]