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Archive: March 2007
Only on Slogger
Prices Around the City from Slogger's Exclusive Sources
03/31/2007 3:59 PM ET
Neighborhood Kerosene Cooking gas Marlboros Bread
(1,276 ID = 1 USD) one liter one bottle one pack one loaf
Sadr City 800 13,000 2,250 100
Harthiya 900 13,000 2,250 150
Kadhimiya 800 13,000 2,250 100
Washash 900 15,000 2,250 83
'Alawi 750 18,000 2,000 83
Zayyona 700 15,000 2,250 125
Baghdad al-Jadida 500 13,000 2,000 100
Adhamiya 1,000 15,000 2,250 125
Mansour 900 15,000 2,250 125
al-'Amil 900 13,000 125

Slogger sources report stable prices around the city, with some variations since our last check, but not resulting in any dramatic patterns.

Marlboro smokers in Hay al-'Amil are out of luck for the moment. Slogger sources report them unavailable. And Zayyona's good deals on Marlboros also seem to be a thing of the past.

MoD Scientist: October Lancet Report "Robust"
03/26/2007 9:09 PM ET
A British Ministry of Defence official warned the Blair government against criticizing a report published in October that estimated Iraqi civilian deaths at 655,000 since the 2003 invasion.

The report, prepared by researchers at Johns Hopkins School of Public Health, was published in the peer-reviewed British medical journal the Lancet. Its findings diverge sharply from other estimates of Iraqi civilian casualties, and as such stirred a controversy upon its release.

The BBC reports that the chief scientific advisor for the MoD, Sir Roy Anderson, in an email dated October 13, wrote, "The study design is robust and employs methods that are regarded as close to "best practice" in this area, given the difficulties of data collection and verification in the present circumstances in Iraq."

Further email communication just released by the UK's Foreign Office, obtained by the BBC, shows an exchange between two officials over the Lancet figures:

The first official writes, "Are we really sure the report is likely to be right? That is certainly what the brief implies."

To which the second official replies, "We do not accept the figures quoted in the Lancet survey as accurate." The same second official later writes, in the same message, "However, the survey methodology used here cannot be rubbished, it is a tried and tested way of measuring mortality in conflict zones."

The BBC reports that the UK government has released a statement today explaining how it could accept the report's methodology but reject its conclusions. The statement reads, "The methodology has been used in other conflict situations, notably the Democratic Republic of Congo.

"However, the Lancet figures are much higher than statistics from other sources, which only goes to show how estimates can vary enormously according to the method of collection.

"There is considerable debate amongst the scientific community over the accuracy of the figures."

An accurate figure of Iraqi deaths may never be known. Statisticians have pointed out flaws in each method of accounting for Iraqi casualties. Counts based on tallies of death certificates issued or hospital activities undercount Iraqis who died without being processed in morgues, and it relies heavily on the judgement of over-worked hospital staff to make daily reports about the death rate, and make difficult distinctions about whether the cause of death resulted from war, terrorism, or crime.

The Lancet study sampled individuals in randomly chosen areas of the country and extrapolated to the larger population on the basis of that sample. As such, the figures are presented as an estimate, not an accurate count. This method is used by humanitarian and relief organizations in other conflict zones, where accurate counts are impossible, such as in the Democratic Republic of the Congo.

However, some, such as Dr Michael Spagat of Royal Holloway London University, criticized the Lancet report, suggesting it may suffer from "mainstreet bias," that is, from choosing a sample that overrepresents Iraqis who live on streets likely to have experienced more violence, and extrapolating from that sample to the Iraqi population as a whole. In the initial controversy over the Lancet figures, George Bush commented, "I don't consider it a credible report." It is unclear on what basis the president was lodging his critique.

Between the competing accounts, the controversy boils down to a dispute over the order of magnitude of Iraqi casualties. Are the figures in the five- or six-digit range?

At the low end, the official Iraqi tally is less than 10% of the deaths estimated in the Lancet report. The Iraq Body Count project's current estimates range between 59,801 and 65,660 civilians killed since March 2003. A UN report released in February concluded that 34,423 civilians perished in 2006 alone.

A pdf file of the Lancet report is available here.

Green Zone
Have It Your Way -- As Long As You Have a DoD Badge For Entry to PX Food Court
03/19/2007 3:13 PM ET
Whopper with cheese$3.45
Double Whopper with cheese$4.25
Triple Whopper with cheese$4.95
Big King$4.25
Chicken Whopper with cheese$4.25
Chicken Crisp with cheese$4.25
Chicken Royal with cheese$4.25
Large fries$1.75
Onion rings$1.75
Hershey's piece$2.00
Apple pie$1.25
Coke/Diet Coke/Fanta/Sprite$0.75
Price check today -- March 19, 2007
Only on Slogger
Slogger Sources: Stable Prices around the City
03/17/2007 3:50 PM ET

Neighborhood Kerosene Cooking gas Marlboros Bread
(1,277 ID = 1 USD) one liter one bottle one pack one loaf
Sadr City 750 12,000 2,250 125
Harthiya 1,100 13,000 2,250 150
Kadhimiya 800 15,000 2,250 100
Washash 900 14,000 2,000 83
'Alawi 900 16,000 2,000 83
South Baghdad 1,000 15,000 2,250 100
Sha'ab 1,000 13,000 2,000 83
Hay Ur 900 15,000 2,250 83
Zayyona 1,000 15,000 1,500 100
Baghdad al-Jadida 1,000 13,000 2,250 100
Rashid 1,000 12,000 2,250 125

All prices in Iraqi dinars (ID).

IraqSlogger sources report generally stable prices around Baghdad this week, with the price of cooking gas, and therefore bread, dropping in some neighborhoods, such as 'Alawi.

Zayyona remains the cheapest place to get a pack of Marlboros, still coming in at 750 ID cheaper than going rates elsewhere in the city.

See last week's prices for some over-time comparison shopping.

Only on Slogger
Prices Can Be Nearly Three Times the Official Rate
03/12/2007 5:37 PM ET
Neighborhood Gasoline
one liter
Sadr City 600
Harthiya 750
Khadimiya 750
'Alawi 700
Sha'ab 600
Hay Ur 400
Zayyona 600
Baghdad al-Jadida 600
Rashid 600

Prices in Iraqi dinars (ID). (1,281 ID= 1 US dollar.)

Slogger sources around the city report the above prices for automobile fuel on the black markets over the weekend. According to residents, the black markets are often the only source of gasoline.

The Iraqi government rations gasoline to retailers around the country, and has capped the retail price of gasoline at 350 ID.

Rather than sell at the pump at the official price, many retailers exploit and intensify the shortage by selling out of jerrycans on the street. Prices in these illicit transactions can run almost three times the mandated price.

Some Iraqi National Guard troops are involved in these rackets, taking a cut of the inflated profits in exchange for protection of the illegal activity, IraqSlogger reported earlier.

Only on Slogger
Slogger Sources: Price of Smokes Creeps up
03/10/2007 8:17 PM ET
Neighborhood Kerosene Cooking gas Marlboros Bread
(1,281 ID = 1 USD) one liter one bottle one pack one loaf
Sadr City 800 12,000 2,250 125
Harthiya 1,100 13,000 2,250 150
Khadimiya 800 15,000 2,250 100
Washash 900 14,000 2,000 200
'Alawi 1,000 18,000 2,000 83
South Baghdad 1,000 15,000 2,250 100
Sha'ab 1,000 18,000 2,000 100
Hay Ur 900 15,000 1,500 83
Zayyona 1,000 15,000 2,000 83
Baghdad al-Jadida 1,000 12,000 2,250 100
Rashid 1,000 12,000 2,250 125
Ghazaliya 8,000 Forbidden 100

Around Baghdad, Slogger checked in with eyewitness sources to get the price of a few key commodities. All prices shown in Iraqi Dinars (ID).

Prices of kerosene and cooking fuel are down slightly in most areas, while the price of a pack of Marboros has crept up in many places, compared to last week’s price check.

Slogger sources in Ghazaliya and al-Rashid neighborhoods also contributed data this week. In Ghaziliya, smokers are out of luck. The militias that control the neighborhood have banned smoking and the sale of cigarettes as haram, or forbidden under Islamic law. (Note that this is a more strict position on tobacco than is common in most areas of the Islamic world.)

Only on Slogger
Slogger Sources: War, Security Plan Affect Cost of Basics
03/03/2007 12:00 PM ET

The fighting and the security plan in Baghdad have caused the prices of basic goods to differ across various parts of the city, IraqSlogger sources report from around the city.

In general, the prices of home heating fuel dropped because of better weather, but there is a kind of shortage in automobile fuel, Slogger sources report. Lines are not as long for fuel as those Baghdad has faced before, but still there is an illegal black market for petrol on the streets. The official price is 350 Iraqi dinars (ID), but there is a shortage at the gas stations at that price. Auto fuel is available for 750 ID on the roads.

As Slogger reported earlier, some members of the security forces are involved in these rackets, protecting the sellers from consequences, and taking a cut of the profits. Many of the black-market dealers in fuel actually run legitimate gas stations, but funnel their fuel into the higher-priced black markets, which worsens the shortage at the pump -- and jacks up profits in the illicit markets.

Most of the products used daily have held steady in price recently, except for market produce. Fresh fruit and vegetables from the farms that surround the city now have to contend with closed roads and no-go areas for drivers. The price of one kilo of tomatoes is up to around 1500 to 2000 ID.

At informal “borders” inside the city, Sunni truck drivers pass their goods along to Shi'a drivers, and vice-versa, because they are fearful of crossing into the wrong “turf.” One of these “border” points is at the beginning of Ameriya. Shi'a drivers do not enter Ameriya to Abu Ghrieb, so they load their goods onto Sunni trucks. Of course, this raises the end price of the goods, especially for fresh vegetables, which can’t be kept sitting for long.

Around the city, Slogger checked in with eyewitnesses sources to get the price of a few key commodities. Notice how more tense neighborhoods such as Sadr City exhibit higher prices on basic goods. All prices are in Iraqi dinars.

NeighborhoodKerosene Cooking gas Marlboro Bread
(1,280 ID = 1 USD)one literone bottlecigarettesone loaf
Sadr City1,000 20,0002,00083
Harthiya1,200 15,000 2,500 150
South Baghdad90013,0002,000100
Hay Ur1,00014,0002,000100
Baghdad al-Jadida85016,0002,000100

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