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Monday, August 28, 2006

One Matters

Three of some 300 'body bags' laid out in Sydney's business district in remembrance of civilians killed in recent conflicts across the worldThe news shows that it has been an especially bloody weekend in Iraq with mass violence striking its capital city. Alongside the formidable damage in Baghdad, an Israeli air strike injuring a Reuters news worker in Gaza and a series of explosions rocking Turkish commercial cities indicates that it's not going to get any better.

In light of such news, it is not hard to find irony in corresponding recent events, including the juxtaposition of US President Bush at a press conference readily accepting that "loss of innocent lives is unavoidable in war" while Hezbollah chief Sheikh Hassan Nasrallah has stated he is sorry for the scale of the casualties and would not have ordered the capture of two Israeli soldiers if he had known it would lead to such a war.

More than 1,000 Lebanese died in the 34-day conflict which left much of southern Lebanon in ruins. News sources reporting that Israel and Hezbollah are now in negotiations for a prisoner swap also seems a bitter pill to swallow, after the loss of so much Lebanese life.

Human life becomes a cold statistic, but what a number doesn't tell you is the human story behind each body. That number is somebody's sister, daughter or mother.

Whether it is forty-nine Lebanese victims of war or forty-nine Americans in a Kentucky plane crash, to someone somewhere - each one matters.

Meanwhile tough reality is also the subject of a new book in the news detailing violent drunks, time-wasters and drivers that won't clear the way - the life for a British ambulance crew makes for difficult reading.

Lines haunt the reader long after being read. "Try calming down an eight-year-old girl who is dying in front of you because they can't breathe. Especially when the parents of the child who has died in the asthma attack keep smoking.

"You get jobs that cut you up. But you go back to the station, you have a cup of tea, you chat it over with your station mates, and you get over it - and writing about it helps."

Other people agonising over the dark side of human nature are the villagers of Strasshof, Austria. Days after Natascha Kampusch ran from her underground prison of eight years, Austrians hunger for an answer to the question: "How could this happen here?"

Meanwhile on a lighter note, news reports reveal that Istanbul paid host to an enthralling Turkish Grand Prix, seized journalists have been freed in Gaza and a Philippines judge who said he consulted imaginary mystic dwarves has failed to convince the Supreme Court to allow him to keep his job.

Picture courtesy of BBC News.

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