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Fallujah’s infants suffer from sharp rise in birth defects

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Doctors and officials in Fallujah are appealing to the international community for an investigation into the unnatural increase in birth defects, 5 years after two major battles between the U.S. military and Sunni militia groups took place there.

The war-ravaged population center has seen an increase of up to 15 times as many chronic deformities in infants since pre-war levels, according to a report by the UK’s Guardian. Documented statistics for birth defects in Fallujah have only emerged in recent months, but the rate of abormalities, including early-life cancers, is high enough to cause alarm at Fallujah’s General Hospital.

“We are seeing a very significant increase in central nervous system anomalies,” the hospital’s director, Dr Ayman Qais, told the Guardian. “Before 2003 I was seeing sporadic numbers of deformities in babies. Now the frequency of deformities has increased dramatically.”

“Most are in the head and spinal cord, but there are also many deficiencies in lower limbs,” he said. “There is also a very marked increase in the number of cases of less than two years with brain tumors. This is now a focus area of multiple tumors.”

Fallujah was the site of the only two ‘set-piece’ battles to take place after the U.S. invaded Iraq in 2003. Fighter jets bombed the city and heavy artillery was used in conjunction with the controversial incendiary white phosphorus.

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Samira Abdul Ghani, a pediatrician, was asked by The Guardian to keep track of all birth defects for a three-week period at Fallujah General Hospital. In that time alone, 37 infants were born with anomalies, many of them with neural tube defects.

A neural tube defect is an opening in the spinal cord or brain that occurs very early in human development. 1 in 1,000 babies born in America suffer from neural tube defects.

Dr. Bassam Allah, head of Fallujah’s children’s ward, urged international agencies last week to start taking soil samples and investigating the abnormal births.

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UPI reports that Basra and Najaf, cities similarly racked by heavy fighting, have also seen sharp increases in the number of birth defects.

The Guardian’s video investigation can be found here.


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Former Chinese premier Li Peng, the ‘Butcher of Beijing’, dies aged 90

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Former Chinese premier Li Peng -- known as the "Butcher of Beijing" for his role in the Tiananmen Square crackdown -- has died at the age of 90, state media said Tuesday.

Li died of an unspecified illness in Beijing after he failed to respond to medical treatment late Monday, the official Xinhua news agency said. The ex-premier had previously battled bladder cancer.

Li gained notoriety worldwide as one of the key architects of the brutal breakup of mass pro-democracy demonstrations in the capital on June 4, 1989, and stayed at the top of the Communist regime for more than a decade, while remaining a hated symbol of the repression until his death.

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Black couple’s marriage proposal party interrupted multiple times by white security guards accusing them of theft

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According to a report at WHEC, a black couple who drove to a park where the man intended to propose were interrupted and harassed three times by security guards who accused them of stealing a T-shirt at a gift shop.

In a Facebook post, Cathy-Marie Hamlet explained that she and her fiancé, Clyde Jackson, were sitting at a table outside the Angry Orchard gift shop when a female security guard approached them and accused Jackson of stealing the shirt and asked to check his pockets.

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Prime Minister Imran Khan claims Pakistani intelligence led CIA to bin Laden

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Pakistan's main spy agency provided the US with a lead that helped them find and kill Al-Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden, Prime Minister Imran Khan said Monday.

Pakistan has until now officially denied having any knowledge of the terror chief until he was shot dead in a night time raid by US special forces on May 2, 2011, an incident that was a major national embarrassment and caused ties between the two countries to plummet.

Khan, who is visiting Washington on his first official trip, made his claim in an interview with Fox News when he was asked whether his country would release a jailed doctor whose fake immunization drive helped the US track and kill bin Laden in 2011.

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