We are not only marking the tenth anniversary of the fall of Saddam but the 50th anniversary of the beginnings in 1963 of a campaign of demonisation of the Kurds that proceeded to full-blown genocide, most notably at Halabja where 5,000 people were killed and many more hideously injured by Saddam's Weapons of Mass Destruction.
Today I'm delighted to announce the launch of HuffPost UK Sport, the latest channel on our ever-expanding site. With London gearing up for the Olympics and Euro 2012 only a few months away, it couldn't be a better time for us to add Sport into the mix of topics we cover. Being British, we fully expect there to be plenty of footie written about in our blogs, however, we're also aiming to be a destination for niche sports, where everyone from synchronised swimmers to curling champions can debate the merits of their favourite pastime with other dedicated fans. In keeping with this wide range of sports, we have a real mix of voices from different walks of life blogging for us today, including Lord Coe on the Olympics, Gary Kemp from Spandau Ballet on cycling, and Kevin Cahill - founder of Sport Relief alongside Will Carling and Andy Murray.
After watching Occupy Wall Street from afar since mid-September (and being kept up-to-date on Twitter thanks to HuffPost US senior editor Craig Kannelly's constant stream of tweets), last weekend saw the protest move to London. We had editors there throughout the week (Business Editor Pete Guest even turning photographer for us while on the scene), but unsurprisingly many of our bloggers had opinions to share on the topic, too.
Mining accidents, such a regular part of life in industrial communities in decades gone past as to provide perfect plot twists in modern-day novels, became headline worthy again this week due to the tragic events in Swansea. I'm sure I wasn't the only one somehow naively expecting a repeat run of the jubilant scenes played out in Chile almost exactly a year ago. If only real life ran with such Hollywood-perfect endings. Calls for an enquiry have already been made, while Neath MP Peter Hain is appealing for donations to help the bereaved families of those brave men who lost their lives.
The US and the UK may be, as George Bernard Shaw once said, two nations "separated by a common language," but they're definitely joined by a set of common problems: economic crises that have left millions unemployed or underemployed, an economic debate that has been hijacked by deficit and austerity hawks, and politicians with a remarkable ability to propose solutions that are actually making the problems worse. Yet in both countries, there is a movement fueled by social media, community engagement, and the growing understanding that real solutions aren't going to be coming from our politicians any time soon. So, in the meantime, millions of people in thousands of communities are taking the initiative to connect, engage and solve problems themselves.
As I type this, the British government has just pledged to financially support the International Committee of the Red Cross as it steps up essential help for those injured during Libya's week of conflict, with aid for up to 5,000 wounded, along with food and household essentials for another 690,000. The announcement comes as a quiet reminder that in amongst the headline-grabbing images of rebels waltzing their way round Gaddafi's glitzy mansion, this uprising, like the others that preceded it across the Middle East and Africa this year, this has not been a conflict without horrific casualties.
The riots may be long gone, but the aftermath still dominated the front-pages this week, as the nation wrung its collective conscience and pondered whether harsh sentences that made an example of the guilty would dissuade copy-cat activities in the future. For thousands of sixth-form students, however, the only stats worth knowing were the percentages of those successfully making the grades necessary to secure them their first choice of university. With student fees set to rocket next year, unsurprisingly record numbers of would-be undergraduates were fighting for one of the coveted uni places - or just fighting to get a connection to the UCAS website, which crashed under the collective weight of the clearing scrabble.