October 21st, 2007


British MoD coverup? Scottish troops accused of torturing, mutillating,killing Iraqi POWs.

Strong accusations have come forth, suggesting that suggest that Scottish troops tortured, mutilated, and killed Iraqi prisoners in May 2004. 

THE family of a 17-year-old Iraqi has lodged papers at the British High Court claiming Scottish troops tortured and killed him and 21 other Iraqis who were captured after a firefight and held in custody at a British army detention centre in Iraq back in May 2004. Hamid Al-Sweady was said to be uninjured after he was detained following a gun battle between insurgents and a unit from the Argyll and Sutherland Highlanders. But in papers filed on Friday, his family claims his corpse bore marks of torture and hanging after it was handed over to relatives a day later.

An Iraqi witness to the alleged event has come forward, as have numerous other Iraqi hospital workers, who witnessed the injuries on Al-Sweady and several of the other Iraqi POWs. Worse still, a video has been released which helps to document the torture, mutilation, and death of the POWs in question.

Hussein Abbas, a detainee released by the British soldiers, claims in his statement that he was "continuously punched and kicked" and that he saw blood in the water under his feet coming from nearby toilets. Mr Abbas claims he spoke to Mr Al-Sweady in a lorry on their way to a British Army detention center and that he displayed no injuries. Mr Abbas also said they were detained in toilets and that he heard Hamid in the next toilet. He heard screaming and started seeing blood coming out from under the toilet door.

One of the victims reportedly had their eyes gouged out, apparently while still alive according to Iraqi doctors who documented the cause of death. Another one had his sex organs cut off. Another victim reportedly had their genitals crushed, and Al-Sweady's body was documented as having ligature marks around his neck indicating that he had been hung or otherwise asphyxiated.

The most damning part of the allegations, however, is that the video directly conflicts with a prior British Ministry of Defence statement, supporting an internal investigation's findings into the matter:

"The bodies recovered from the battlefield were photographed immediately upon arrival at the Camp and these photographs were passed to an independent Home Office forensic pathologist. The investigation established no evidence of any systematic or deliberate mutilation. Despite the high intensity of fighting in this incident, British troops treated the dead with respect."

In other words:
1> Either the mutilated bodies in the video weren't the bodies in question -- despite time/date stamps and video evidence suggesting that they were.
2> The bodies in the video somehow unmutilated themselves before they were photographed by the British.
3> The bodies were photographed by the British before being mutillated, despite the fact that this contradicts other MoD's claims as to where the bodies were supposed to have been investigated and photographed.
4> The British MoD's statement is untrue.

The British MoD has thus far refused to release the alleged photographs of the allegedly unmutillated Iraqis, which could, if they existed, resolve the matter in a very short amount of time, and is fighting to prevent an independent investigation into the incident..           


Slashfic and burn.

JK Rowling dropped a bombshell a few days ago... Apparently, Albus Dumbledore was gay, and had a special friendship with fellow wizard, Gellert Grindelwald. Apparently, Dumbledore's feelings were not fully reciprocated. 

As JK Rowling said after the revelation:
"You needed something to keep you going for the next 10 years! ...Oh, my god, the fan fiction now, eh?"

Grindelwald was a complete fascist, but he sure looked hot in a uniform.


Is the next big epidemic already here?

A new study indicates that deaths from drug-resistant staphylococcus bacteria in the U.S. now top those from AIDS

More than 94,000 Americans contracted life-threatening MRSA infections in 2005, including blood and bone infections, pneumonia and inflammation of the heart's lining, and up to 19,000 died from infections that year. 

Most of the infections appear to have been traceable back to hospitals, nursing homes or medical clinics, but there is evidence suggesting that the disease is starting to spread in gyms and schools as well.

One of the big concerns regarding antibiotic resistant diseases is economic in nature -- it costs a lot to develop successful new antibiotics, but newer, more powerful antibiotics are ironically less widely used.  As a result, it is increasingly likely that science will not be able to keep up, as it's increasingly less profitable to do so.

Socialized medicine, anyone?! 


Iraq?! I ran!

And now, the latest news from the Coalition of the I'm So Outta Here. 

South Korea has announced that they're extending their mission in Iraq into next year, but the big news is that they're pulling out half of their 1,200 troops right away. 

Georgia is planning to reduce the number of its peacekeepers in Iraq from 2,000 to 500 troops in 2008, while enlarging its contingent in Afghanistan, their deputy defense minister announced earlier this month.

Poland just had their elections this weekend, and the former opposition party won a landslide victory, replacing a very pro-Bush administration. Their goal is to pull all 900 of their troops out of Iraq as soon as possible, which, politically speaking, means sometime in early 2008.

The next Australian Prime Minister, Kevin Rudd, has announced that he will withdraw Australian troops from Iraq when elected. Australia has about 1,500 troops in and around Iraq. Meanwhile, the soon-to-be-former Australian Prime Minister is being chased down the streets of Australia by giant bunnies, and pursued by mad inventors with time machines, offering to take him back in time so that he can resign while he still has some degree of dignity left.  

And, of course, earlier this month, British PM Gordon Brown announced that half of their 5,000 troops will be withdrawn by spring, while leaving open the possibility of withdrawing all of them next year.

That's up to 9,500 troops in total. Fortunately, U.S. forces can cover the slack... right?!



AIDS - a cureable disease.

European researchers have announced that a combination antiretroviral drug therapy can apparently neutralize the AIDS virus. The details were published in the August 4 edition of The Lancet, but researchers did not express their findings in such definitive words until now for some reason.

I don't know how to feel about this, really. It's big news, but so much remains undone.

When I was in college, I used to work in a record store, across the street from Mac's, a gay bar that was in downtown San Jose. It was a narrow, crowded, occasionally seedy bar with very little to distinguish it except for its very low drink prices and the camaraderie that grew out of so much life being packed into such a small space. Practically everyone who worked in the bars, clubs, stores, and restaurants downtown went to Mac's, as did many of the clubgoing regulars, who would make a pubcrawl inbetween concerts and dancing. If I didn't go there to hang out with the local regulars, I would be in there hanging out with my friend adaeon,, with the owner of the record store, who was a lesbian, or simply to grab a quick drink and play a game of pinball in the back of the bar. Nobody cared much what anyone's sexual orientation was, and a good time was had by all.

And yet, behind it all was a considerable amount of pain and loss. Photos and polaroids on the wall of people who were no longer there anymore. People's family, friends, and lovers... and monthly magazines in the corner where you could read memorials for the latest dozen or two people who died. And there would also be occasional times when someone came into the bar who was obviously not in the best of health, only to disappear from site later, eventually winding up as yet another picture behind the bar.

I'm sure I knew several of those who got their pictures behind the bar, but like many of us hanging out at Mac's, I was able to live largely untouched by that reality. I have had a friend of mine through LJ die of AIDS. I suspect that one of our old housemates and a friend of Kirsten's since high school committed suicide rather than face death by AIDS and the scorn of his very Catholic family. He always made it clear that he would kill himself if the worst happened. For many, AIDS was the absolute worst thing that could happen to you. For many, it still is.

Maybe I should be happier about this news, but it's hard for me to celebrate too much right now.