Tuesday, August 28, 2007


"Religious bondage shackles and debilitates the mind and unfits it for every noble enterprise."
~ James Madison.

It looks like there have been outbreaks of cholera in Silêmanî and Kerkuk. Özgür Gündem first had some news on the matter over the weekend. ÖG reported that 700 people were showing symptoms of cholera. It also reported that five people had died of the disease which caused the populations of the cities to become fearful. The KRG issued information on the sanitization of water and how to properly handle food.

Kerkuk poses a different problem with regard to any outbreak of disease because it falls under the control of the central Baghdad government. So far, Baghdad has done nothing with regard to the cholera outbreak in Kerkuk, which prompted the KRG to take over public health duties in the city with regard to the outbreak.

Today, news of the cholera outbreaks appeared in English-language media through Arab media, with one report at Uruknet, another at Informed Comment--in which KTV was cited--and another from Alsumaria.

Note the discrepancy between the number of infected persons mentioned at Alsumari and ÖG: 2,000 to 700. According to both Alsumaria and ÖG, investigations into the source of the infections continue. Since Kerkuk is approaching the date of the referendum, it's not out of the question that the outbreak may be the result of sabotage by the usual suspects.

There's more background information on cholera at the WHO, but cholera generally occurs as a result of a contaminated water supply. Given that the infrastructure of South Kurdistan is dated, and that cities like Silêmanî have undergone population booms since 2003--of village Kurds as well as refugees from Arab Iraq--this is an example of the critical attention that a clean, secure public water system should receive.

US forces have killed more Kurdish security forces in another so-called "friendly fire" incident, this time in Diyala province. Naturally, the Americans claim they don't have any idea what anyone is talking about nor do they know which unit of their courageous armed forces have committed this crime. The last "friendly fire" incident was in February.

Actually, I just think that these trigger-happy cowboys don't know what in the hell they're supposed to be doing. There's probably a big streak of cowardice involved, too.

Finally, here's something different to think about. . .The top ten least religious countries and the social implications thereof:

1. Sweden (up to 85% non-believer, atheist, agnostic)
2. Vietnam
3. Denmark
4. Norway
5. Japan
6. Czech Republic
7. Finland
8. France
9. South Korea
10. Estonia (up to 49% non-believer, atheist, agnostic)

[ . . . ]

The survey concluded that "high levels of organic atheism are strongly correlated with high levels of societal health, such as low homicide rates, low poverty rates, low infant mortality rates, and low illiteracy rates, as well as high levels of educational attainment, per capita income, and gender equality. Most nations characterized by high degrees of individual and societal security have the highest rates of organic atheism, and conversely, nations characterized by low degrees of individual and societal security have the lowest rates of organic atheism. In some societies, particularly Europe , atheism is growing. However, throughout much of the world – particularly nations with high birth rates – atheism is barely discernable."

A study by the University of Michigan showed the US to be one of the most religious countries in the world, with researchers there hypothesizing that American religionism may derive from the fact that the US "has a less comprehensive social welfare safety net than most other economically developed countries, leading many Americans to experience the kind of existential insecurity and economic uncertainty characteristic of highly religious populations."

Interesting. Very interesting.

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