US military casualties from the occupation of Iraq have been more than twice the number most Americans have been led to believe because of an extraordinarily high number of accidents, suicides and other non-combat deaths in the ranks that have gone largely unreported in the media. \nSince May 1, when President George W. Bush declared the end of major combat operations, 52 American soldiers have been killed by hostile fire, according to Pentagon figures quoted in almost all the war coverage. But the total number of US deaths from all causes is much higher: 112. \nThe other unreported cost of the war for the US is the number of American wounded: 827 since Operation Iraqi Freedom began. \nUnofficial figures are in the thousands. About half have been injured since Bush's triumphant appearance on board the aircraft carrier USS Lincoln at the beginning of May. Many of the wounded have lost limbs. \nThe figures are politically sensitive. The number of American combat deaths since the start of the war is 166 -- 19 more than the death toll in the first Gulf war. \nThe passing of that benchmark last month erased the perception, popular at the time Baghdad fell, that the US had scored an easy victory. \nAccording to a Gallup poll, 63 percent of Americans still think Iraq was worth going to war over, but a quarter want the troops out now and another third want a withdrawal if the casualty figures continue to mount. \nIn fact, the total death toll this time is 248 -- including accidents and suicides -- and as the number of non-combat deaths and serious injuries becomes more widely known, the erosion of public confidence is likely to continue, posing a threat to Bush's prospects of re-election, which at the beginning of May had seemed a foregone conclusion. \nMilitary observers say it is unusual, even in a "low-intensity" guerrilla war such as the situation seen in Iraq, for non-combat deaths to outnumber combat casualties. \nThe Pentagon does not tabulate the cause of those deaths, but according to a US Web site that has been tracking official reports, Iraq Coalition Casualty Count, 23 American soldiers have died in car or helicopter accidents since May 1, while 12 have been killed in accidents with weapons or explosives. \nThree deaths have been categorized as "possible suicides," three have died from illness and three from drowning. The rest are unexplained. \nWounded American soldiers continue to be flown back to the US at a relentless rate, in twice-weekly transport flights to Andrews Air Force Base near Washington. \nHospital staff are working 70- or 80-hour weeks, and the Walter Reed Army Hospital in Washington is so full that it has taken over beds normally reserved for cancer patients to handle the influx, according to a report on CBS television. \nMeanwhile, at the nearby national naval medical center in Bethesda, Maryland, new Marine injuries are delivered almost daily by a medical plane known as the Nightingale.
SCHEDULE: The delegation is due to meet with President Tsai Ing-wen this morning and witness the signing of an MOU on bilateral health cooperation in the afternoon US Secretary of Health and Human Services (HHS) Alex Azar yesterday arrived in Taipei aboard a US government plane at the head of a delegation that is the highest-level visit by a US official since Washington switched diplomatic recognition to China in 1979. Azar’s flight landed at Taipei International Airport (Songshan airport) at 4:48pm, nearly one hour earlier than scheduled, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs said. The apron where it landed is reserved for military aircraft, the Songshan Air Force Base Command said. The members of Azar’s delegation included HHS Assistant Secretary for Preparedness and Response Robert Kadlec, HHS Chief of Staff Brian
ALEX AZAR: The first visit by a head of the Department of Health and Human Services would strictly observe the CECC’s special regulations, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs said US Secretary of Health and Human Services (HHS) Alex Azar is to lead a delegation to Taiwan — the highest-level visit by a US Cabinet official since the two sides cut formal relations in 1979. The plan was announced yesterday morning by the US Department of Health and Human Services and confirmed by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MOFA). Beijing has expressed its concerns to Washington, Chinese Ministry of Foreign Affairs spokesman Wang Wenbin (汪文斌) said later yesterday. Taiwan and the US only issued statements saying that the visit would happen “in the coming days.” MOFA said that due to security concerns, it would
‘CROSS-STRAIT CONSIDERATIONS’: Groups said that the Ministry of Education’s policies excluded Chinese and students should not be blocked over political issues The Taiwan International Student Movement yesterday said it would protest today outside the Ministry of Education in Taipei against a policy that excludes some Chinese students from returning to Taiwan amid the COVID-19 pandemic. Since June 17, the ministry has allowed foreign students from 19 “low risk” and “medium-low risk” countries and regions to enter Taiwan. On July 22, it announced that it was relaxing restrictions to include students from all countries and regions who are graduating this semester and on Wednesday it further expanded entry to students enrolled in degree programs. A letter sent by the ministry on Wednesday to universities did
The military last week sent “no small number” of Marine Corps officers to the Pratas Islands (Dongsha Island, 東沙群島) following reports of a Chinese People’s Liberation Army (PLA) drill targeting the islands scheduled for this month. In an interview with Hong Kong’s Bauhinia Magazine published on Saturday last week, PLA National Defense University professor Li Daguang (李大光) confirmed that the Chinese army was planning to stage a simulated invasion of the Pratas Islands in the South China Sea this month. The islands comprise three atolls, with Pratas Island, at 1.74km2, being the largest. They lie southwest of Taiwan proper in the South