Noxious numbers: the Iraqi dead

The number of Iraqi civilian casualties in the war has been reported in a fluctuating array of projections and estimates. I wanted to briefly look behind the numbers.

Iraq Body Count records the official violent Iraqi civilian deaths — reported by journalists, NGOs, hospitals and other groups. As of April 2, their numbers:

82,625 – 90,149

The Iraq Body Count number is republished in every Sunday Duluth News Tribune, but it’s a bare-bones count.

In Oct. 2006, the Lancet medical journal, with John Hopkins researchers, put the estimated number at:


This number was corroborated by four independent experts and was spread wide in the mainstream media.

As of September 2007, the London-based Opinion Business Research put the estimate at:


Harvard statistician David Kane disputes the 2004 and 2006 Lancet studies based on confidence interval and their unpublished methodology, and I don’t have the interest — or ability — to delve into those finer points.

All I know is there needs to be a comprehensive study — not based on estimates — into the true cost of this abomination.

Stop it hypocrite, a loss of a movie

Ryan Phillippe’s character in “Stop-Loss” spends so much time raging against the war, you’d think he was the male version of Cindy Sheehan. But, as it turns out, he doesn’t quite have the same principles as the famed anti-war activist.

After Phillippe’s character serves a combat tour in Iraq, he gets stop-lossed, meaning he must go back. He fights the order with an AWOL and a futile attempt to visit a senator. Meanwhile, he suffers from Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, his fellow soldier and friend commits suicide after serving, but it’s all hand-wringing as he throws on the fatigues and serves again.

Director Kimberly Pierce wanted to make a statement, but she chickened out and didn’t make one too damming and unpatriotic.

Stop yourself from going to this movie, it’s a loss.



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