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Grim Number Passed in Iraq War

BILL WOLFF (Announcer): From NPR News in New York, this is the Bryant Park Project.


Overlooking historic Bryant Park in midtown Manhattan, this is the Bryant Park Project from NPR News. News, information, bracket busting. I'm Alison Stewart.



Hey. I'm Rachel Martin, and it's Monday, March 24th, 2008. And it's good to be back, Alison.

STEWART: Welcome back, Rachel. We missed you.

MARTIN: Thank you. You know, you might have to say you've been living under a rock if you didn't know it was the NCAA Tournament happening, and that's exactly where I was. Living under a rock in Idaho. Very far away.

STEWART: Well, we'll take care of that. We have full team coverage of March Madness. Now, somehow, the full team coverage includes my husband, a four-year-old, and a grandmother.


MARTIN: It's a family affair here at BPP.

STEWART: I'm just saying, we've got it all covered. That's coming up very shortly. On today's show, also, the dollar, as we know, not doing so well against other currencies. The author of this book right here, see? That's the book, right there. It's called "The Biography of the Dollar." It'll describe what happened, and also give us some interesting tidbits on the history of the dollar.

MARTIN: Also on the show, the anniversary of one oil spill reminds us of another. Today is the 19th anniversary of the Exxon Valdez spill. Everyone remembers this, but a lesser-known and much bigger spill actually is at Newtown Creek in nearby Brooklyn. We'll talk with the chief investigator of an environmental group working on that spill.

STEWART: We do have politics, and a roundup of the day's news as well, but first...

MARTIN: The deaths of four U.S. soldiers in Baghdad brings the total number of U.S. deaths in Iraq over the 4,000 mark. Just days after the fifth anniversary of the war, they were killed by a roadside bomb in southern Baghdad.

STEWART: Now, while news outlets use words like "milestone," earlier today, a U.S. military spokesman described the number as "arbitrary." Rear Admiral Greg Smith said, quote, "No casualty is more or less significant than another. Each soldier, Marine, airman, and sailor is equally precious and their loss equally tragic."

MARTIN: The deaths came on a day when Baghdad's Green Zone was hit by repeated rocket and mortar fire. There were also two suicide bombings in Mosul, and a car bombing in Samara. In all, more than 50 people were killed in Iraq yesterday.

STEWART: NPR's Lourdes Garcia-Navarro is in Baghdad. She spoke yesterday about the recent upsurge of violence in Iraq.

LOURDES GARCIA-NAVARRO: What the U.S. military has always said is that these security gains that we've seen over the past months are reversible, and so they're watching this situation very, very closely. Over the past few weeks, we've seen violence increasing. Today was a dramatic example of that. They are going to be watching closely to see if this trend continues, and if it does, perhaps that may affect the speed with which some of these U.S. forces are withdrawn.

MARTIN: And while the total number of U.S. deaths has reached 4,000, the number of Iraqi civilian deaths is much higher. The website puts that total over 40,000, while the site, Iraq Body Count, says it's over 80,000. Both sites base their totals on news reports of violence, and acknowledge they are estimates.

STEWART: You can follow this story at any time on, but right now let's get some more of today's headlines.

BILL WOLFF: This is NPR. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.