Socialist Worker


Issue No. 2213

Toxic fallout of Fallujah

The people of Iraq are continuing to suffer from the effects of the US invasion and occupation of their country (Documents reveal horror of Afghan war, 31 July).

Nowhere is this felt more than the city of Fallujah, which was at the heart of the resistance to the occupation. Socialist Worker exposed the horror of the assault after it took place.

The US twice laid siege to the city in 2004, bombarding it with toxic weapons.

Now a survey has found a four-fold increase in all cancers in the city and a 12-fold increase in cancers among children under 14.

Dr Chris Busby, one of the authors of the survey of 4,800 individuals, said that “to produce an effect like this, some very major mutagenic exposure must have occurred in 2004 when the attacks happened”.

Doctors in the city have reported a huge rise in the number of babies with serious birth defects since 2005.

The study found that infant mortality was 80 per 1,000 births compared to 19 in Egypt, 17 in Jordan and 9.7 in Kuwait.

Incredibly, the authors report that the destruction of Fallujah could have a worse long-term effect than the US’s nuclear destruction of the Japanese city of Hiroshima in 1945.

The types of cancer found in Fallujah are “similar to that in the Hiroshima survivors who were exposed to ionising radiation from the bomb and uranium in the fallout”.

Researchers found a 38-fold increase in leukaemia, a ten-fold increase in female breast cancer and significant increases in lymphoma and brain tumours in adults.

At Hiroshima, survivors showed a 17-fold increase in leukaemia.

The ratio between newborn boys and girls has also changed. Normally this is 1,050 boys born to 1,000 girls,

But since 2005 there has been an 18 percent drop in male births, meaning the ratio was 850 males to 1,000 females.

This is an indicator of genetic damage that affects boys more than girls. A similar change in the sex ratio took place after the Hiroshima bombing.

These shocking findings should give us renewed resolve to continue fighting against the present imperialist wars, and against future ones that cause such devastation.

Anne McCutcheon, Dumfries

Miliband shows he’s out of touch

According to the official figures, unemployment in David Miliband’s constituency of South Shields is running at a rate of 9.8 percent for men and 4.2 percent for women.

This gives an overall rate of 7.1 percent or, in human terms, 3,538 people unemployed. Every one of them was slapped in the face by Miliband when he was asked at the Unite Labour leadership hustings how much Jobseeker’s Allowance was.

The man most likely to be next Labour leader said £100. It is, of course, £65. But then David Miliband doesn’t know anyone claiming it.

John Newsinger, Leicester

Price of an Afghan life

The reaction to the revelations about the illegal wars on Afghanistan and Pakistan ( Afghanistan laid bare by leaked documents , 31 July) in some quarters tells us much about those responding.

Why is it only now that some elements of the media and MPs have discovered civilian casualties?

One very unfavourable answer is that these people have chosen to ignore the matter because for them an Afghan life does not have the same value as a

Western life.

In essence, much opinion on Afghanistan is racist and should be described as such.

With no sweat at all, one can type into a search engine the words “civilian casualties Afghanistan” and find a whole swathe of detailed material going back several years.

Gareth Porter’s expose in Asia Times of the bogus “campaign” against the target of Marjah tells us much about the lies pumped out through the lapdog media.

David Jardine, Bogor, Indonesia

Veil ban is not racist

When the Taliban took over in Afghanistan, it was an awful imposition upon women to wear the burqa ( French veil vote will boost Islamophobia , 17 July).

People talk about it being a choice, as if it were a piece of jewellery, but that ignores the patriarchal nature of the culture and the hidden abusive impositions of men at home.

France, a society that was built on the principles of equality and liberty, is taking a stand to defend women’s rights by voting to ban the wearing of the veil.

Sometimes we need to step back from the emotive buzzword “racism” and think about what is better for people.

Speaking as a Muslim, we should not defend every aspect of every Islamic culture.

Nowhere in the Koran does it insist that a woman’s face is covered.

Fariha Habr, Qatar

Sinn Fein did oppose the Orange marches

I was disappointed to read Socialist Worker’s criticisms of Sinn Fein’s view of the recent riots in Northern Ireland ( Roots of riots in Northern Ireland , 24 July).

It says, “Rather than oppose the Orange Order the Nationalist party wants to accommodate it.”

This is incorrect. Sinn Fein leader Gerry Adams condemned the rioting.

But he said, “The fact remains that it is the loyal order’s obstinate insistence on marching through Catholic areas and their refusal to talk that is at the heart of the perennial violence that marks the marching season.”

Sinn Fein had organised peaceful protests for those Republicans who opposed the contentious parades.

Those who rioted did so for the sake of rioting – most were drunk.

Sinn Fein is the party for Republicans – the dissidents are thugs. They are men who gained power during the Troubles and don’t want to give it up.

They see the killing of police officers and British soldiers as the end, not a means.

When the Provisionals killed British soldiers, it was to get the British public to support a withdrawal and get the troops off the streets.

Sinn Fein has abandoned none of its objectives. Republicanism has adapted but it has not been emasculated. Sinn Fein’s present policies are not a denial of previous resistance.

Joe Dwyer, Hertfordshire

A Rotten view of the Middle East

I was somewhat surprised to see comments attributed to John Lydon, the former frontman of the Sex Pistols punk band, in regard to Israel, where his band Public Image Limited are to play this month.

He is reported to have said, “If Elvis Costello wants to pull out of a gig in Israel because he has suddenly got compassion for Palestinians, then good on him.

“But I have absolutely one rule, right?

“Until a see an Arab country, a Muslim country, with a democracy, I won’t understand how anyone can have a problem with how they are treated.”

If Lydon had bothered to do his research before he made such a stupid remark he would know that the Palestinians have a democratically elected government.

As I already have most of the Sex Pistols’ records it is going to hard for me to boycott him and his music.

However, I do not plan to buy any Country Life butter, which Lydon advertises, at any time soon.

Lydon is known as Johnny Rotten.

But maybe it should be Johnny Vile?

Geoff Breeze, Southampton

Cam’s cuts close my cafe

The cafe at my local swimming pool has closed due to the government scrapping the free swimming scheme for under 16s and over 60s.

This was set up in 2009 to improve people’s health and fitness. More than 28,000 registered with the scheme in Kirklees, West Yorkshire.

Exercise and the wellbeing of working class folk is not a priority for this government.

John Appleyard, Liversedge, West Yorkshire

Printing lies costs £80,000

The Daily Mail and the Sun newspapers have been forced to pay out £80,000 to hunger striker Parameswaran Subramaniyan.

He was part of the epic 73-day protest by Tamils in central London last summer.

Parameswaran stopped eating to draw attention to the Sri Lankan government’s massacre of Tamils.

The two papers “revealed” he was feasting on McDonald’s hamburgers as he lay in a tent in Parliament Square.

In court they were forced to admit the story was a total fabrication.

It’s a great victory, but I wonder how many people are lied about in the media who don’t have the resources to take them to court?

Ambalavaner Moonesinghe, East London

Don’t be ageist, SW

I enjoyed reading Siân Ruddick’s interview and review of Toots and the Maytals (Talking with Toots, 31 July) until the last sentence. This read, “Even the old people can no longer resist the urge to dance.”

I expect better from Socialist Worker than this kind of crass statement.

To put it mildly, it is both offensive and discriminatory – even if I was dancing to Toots 30 years ago.

Dick Pole, East London

Tax breaks for the rich, again

I have family in Britain and I think that the current government is one of the most callous.

It is about giving welfare to the wealthy in tax breaks, and subsidies to the banks and corporations.

The working class and the poor are expected to pay for the mess that they have created.

I support all the fightback campaigns.

Education is a right for everyone, not just the elites who can afford the posh private schools.

Jenny, Toronto, Canada

Good article on Raoul Moat

Socialist Worker (Sick in a sick society , 24 July) had one of the few objective articles about Raoul Moat.

Let’s not forget that many newspaper headlines said “Got him.”

Raoul Moat asked for help at a time of continued NHS cutbacks.

Many thanks to Socialist Worker.

James Charles, by email

True meaning of Big Society

David Cameron talks about the “Big Society”, but what does that mean?

For me, it means BS.

If you don’t know what BS stands for, then you don’t know what Cameron is talking.

Tony Walker, Leeds

Do we really need oil?

With a little bit of expenditure, along the lines of going to war “for oil”, we could make all public transport cheap (or free).

BP’s response to the Gulf of Mexico disaster, according to Radio 4’s Beyond the Horizon, will be to start deep water drilling off Libya.

It is crucial that we start implementing some of the many alternatives to oil.

A national demonstration would be a very good start to a campaign for this.

Ian Wallace, Sheffield

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Article information

Tue 3 Aug 2010, 18:18 BST
Issue No. 2213
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