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A HUGE number of chronic infant deformities have been recorded in Falluja, Iraq. The city was flattened by US-led forces over a two month period in 2004 to suppress a Sunni-based insurgency.
The finger of suspicion to account for the massive rise in birth defects is pointing to toxic waste in the city left over from the use of artillery shells and other munitions. The use of radioactive material, such as depleted uranium, in battlefield artillery shells has been well documented. On detonation up to 70% of the depleted uranium vaporises into fine dust, which then settles out in the surrounding soil and water.
Neither the US military nor the Iraqi government is admitting to any responsibility for this health crisis.
UK TROOPS are under investigation following allegations of widespread abuse of Iraqi civilians, including rape and torture. Iraqi human rights campaigner Mazin Younis said there was systematic torture inflicted by troops on Iraqi civilians, similar to what took place in the notorious US-run detention camp at Abu Ghraib.
To date, only one serving member of the British armed forces has been convicted of war crimes, when corporal Donald Payne pleaded guilty at a court martial in 2006 to torturing civilians.
An ongoing public inquiry into the death of Iraqi civilian, Baha Mousa, (who was beaten to death after being arrested in Basra by UK troops in 2003) heard from a former soldier that he saw Payne and another soldier kicking and hitting Mousa before he died.
Many questions about the role of UK troops in Basra remain unanswered. In particular, were those in command aware of torture practices and did they order such treatment to be carried out?
MEANWHILE, ACCORDING to a survey commissioned by the bosses' CBI, half of UK employers are planning a second year of wage freezes. CBI boss John Cridland saluted the continuing "spirit of collaboration" that has seen workers 'make sacrifices in order to save jobs'.
Contrary to Cridland's economic medicine, unemployment totalled 2.46 million in the last quarter, with the jobless rate edging up to 7.8% from 7.7%, while the youth unemployment rate rose to 19.8%, a record high.
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