Tuesday, February 13, 2007

Keeping THEM honest… about Depleted Uranium

In memory of Milivy Adams, 1997-2002
Depleted Uranium Victim

I usually don't rant of how good or mediocre the AC360 editions are sometimes, I think Eliza does an extraordinary job tearing up and dissecting each show, if you haven't seen the blog and you are into serious in depth critical discussions, I really think you should visit it; it’s the place to go. But tonight, I just can keep my fingers from typing...

In the last edition of Anderson Cooper 360, they had a story about the medical conditions that the soldiers and veterans are facing due to exposure of Depleted Uranium (DU). The consequences are simply horrible. And most of the researches, a mere 16 papers, were cited on the subject from 1994 to 2005; and only half these papers addressed the medical problems of soldiers exposed to DU in the Gulf War.

Articles about the health dangers of DU rarely, if ever, appear in the major media. In a January 2001 press relea
se FAIR (Fairness & Accuracy in Reporting) accused the media of "depleted coverage of depleted uranium weapons." Nevertheless, a great deal of information on DU can be found on the Internet from independent researchers.

But what is Depleted Uranium?
DU is a byproduct of the enriching of natural uranium for use in nuclear reactors. As nuclear waste it is only mildly radioactive, but when it pulverizes in an explosion or fire, its dust is considered potentially hazardous if ingested or inhaled. DU is costly to keep but relatively inexpensive to obtain. Due to their tank armor-piercing capabilities, DU weapons are extremely effective and the reason why the military is so enthralled with them.

On impact, DU produces uranium oxide dust and pieces of uranium explode they produce a firestorm inside any vehicle or structure, resulting in devastating burns and injuries to those who escape immediate death and incineration. On humans, once inside the body, the tiny nanoparticles enter the lungs and blood stream and are carried throughout the body. Veterans from the Gulf War that were assigned to "clean up" the DU after the first Gulf War, all got ill within 72 hours with respiratory problems, rashes, bleeding, and open sores.

Leuren Moret is an independent American scientist who works on radiation and health issues with communities around the world. She is the leading activist against the use of DU, having worked in two nuclear weapons labs, including the Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory in Berkeley, California, run by the US Department of Energy. In her article "Depleted uranium: The Trojan Horse of nuclear war," which appeared in the June 2004 World Affairs Journal, Moret claims: }

"The use of DU weaponry by the US, defying all international treaties, will slowly annihilate all species on Earth including the human species, and yet this country continues to do so with full knowledge of its destructive potential."

DU travels. DU radioactive particles are picked up by the atmosphere and are transferred by wind storms and air currents. They permanently contaminate vast regions and slowly destroy the genetic future of populations living in those areas. As the Trojan Horse of nuclear war, Moret calls DU "the weapon that keeps on killing." There is no way to turn it off - and no way to clean it up. It meets the US government's own definition of "weapons of mass destruction."

Military Background

DU weapons were developed by the US Navy in 1968, and were first given to Israel by the US in the 1973 Arab-Israeli war. Since then, the US has tested, manufactured and sold DU weapons systems to 29 countries. The civil populated Vieques Island, a testing site in Puerto Rico, was repeatedly bombarded with DU, napalm bombs, orange agent and other chemical and toxic weapons in 1999 prior to its use in Kosovo.

DU was first used by the US in the 1991 Gulf War, then in the Balkans in the late 1990s, in Kosovo in 2000, in the war against Afghanistan, in Iraq in 2003, and also by the Israelis in the 2006 war with Lebanon. Needless to say, US military and government officials totally deny any health danger from DU. A reassuring New York Times article of 9 January 2001 entitled "1999 U.S. document warned of depleted uranium in Kosovo" by Marlise Simons, noted "while acknowledging the hazards, both the Pentagon and NATO, pointing to medical experts, have denied any links could exist between exposure to depleted uranium and the illness and deaths of veterans."

Depleted Uranium Hits close to Home

Vieques, which is 20 miles long by four miles wide (32km by 6.4km), is situated off the East Coast of the US commonwealth island of Puerto Rico. Two thirds of the island was owned by the US Navy, which has used it for military practice for the past 60 years. The islands' 33,000 acres are divided into three; an eastern portion used for bombing practice and a western segment, which is used mainly as an ammunition depot. The islanders live in between these two strips. The continuous bombing largely destroyed the fishing industry upon which most islanders relied – with an average per capita yearly income of only $6,562 - forcing them to live mostly of welfare.

Actually, over a third of the island's populations of 9,000 are now suffering from a range of cancers and other serious illnesses. By official figures, the cases of cancer of the breast, cervix and uterus have risen by 300 percent over the last 20 years. Child cancer rates have soared 250% above the national average in the last thirty years.

One of the cases, which is sadly all too typical, is that of Rolando Garcia. Garcia is a father of two young children. He is only 32 years of age, but looks much older. All his body hair has fallen out and he walks with the slow shuffling movements of an old and infirm man. It is a tremendous effort just to cross his living room floor.

Garcia used to work on the bombing range, maintaining military buildings and believes this is when he was exposed to DU. His test results confirm that he is contaminated by a long list of toxic materials including titanium, but the most worrying is uranium. “I had never heard of uranium before this,” he said “but now it looks like it might kill me.”

Many islanders who have never been on the bombing range itself are nonetheless showing high levels of uranium in medical tests. It is believed that they have picked up metals blown off the bombing range by the strong easterly winds that regularly blow across the island.

Continuous violations

Military scientist Doug Rokke, one of the world's leading authorities on DU, senses a pattern of environmental racism in the Pentagon's decision to test DU in Vieques and in the Japanese island of Okinawa. ''The US Defence Department's policy is racist and discriminatory, contrary to the principle of environmental justice. We have the cases of Vieques and Okinawa, where DU ammunition has been experimented with. These are not isolated events, or errors or chance. These are planned actions to test and later use this highly polluting ammunition in Kosovo and the Persian Gulf.''

Unfortunately it is not the first time the Federal Government have reenacted the role of Joseph Mengele with minorities, occupied territories or citizens, while the ones with the right to vote for the political leadership of the United States are more interested in Anna Nicole Smith’s death and Paris Hilton’s herpes outbreak. Do they understand the difference between Saddam’s chemical weapons and the USA’s radioactive weapons? There are a lot of civil casualties in Iraq due to live ammunition, but how many will die from radiation exposure?

I hope the next time Anderson Cooper wants to make a tear jearking story about Katyusha rockets, and children playing with its shells, he takes time to explore the other side of the story, the children that are exposed by Depleted Uranium, cluster bombs and chemical burns – an editorial staple at CNNI and Jim Clancy, so there are no excuse! -. As I mentioned to some of you, I’m really bothered, annoyed by the laziness and the lack of vision of the producers of CNN’s Anderson Cooper 360. They spend millions in advertising to attract new audiences, just to disappoint them by presenting a mediocre newscast. Watching American Morning, the CNN morning show, I’m surprised of how well it is produced. Balanced, diverse, and using all the resources CNN has available worldwide. Like Anderson Cooper 360, it is a long show, but they don’t overuse and abuse with the repetition tool.

So much for a 360 view of the news…

13 comentarios:

Sharla Dawn said...

You'd think with what is known about radioactivity nowadays... well, it's highly apparent that the people blowing this crap up in the first place are quite happy with what it does. But the question is valid- why are people still being exposed to this? Everyone knows that exposure to free-radicals causes cancer... well, maybe not. People STILL live in Chernobyl.....

.... but about 360? You know, I wonder who has executive control over that show. Not Anderson, surely. He's a much better field reporter than an anchor.

Anonymous said...

David Doss?

Sharla Dawn said...

Well, duh, I know that David Doss is the Executive Producer. But is he the one with creative control? Who is in charge over there of deciding what gets reported?

Oh, and BTW, I am glad that you pointed out that on Eliza's blog, we're into "serious in delpth critical discussions". Yep. Those are the only ones I like. I can't stand the Anderfan blogs. They make me want to throw up :) {speaking of, I like this blog too. I rolled it}

Christiane said...

@ sharla:
well anon, Doss is the Senior Executive Producer, but they at least they must have 2 more producers, Assitant producers, and THE DESK ( where the decision of what is to be covered is taken ), I would love to shake that tree...

Sharla Dawn said...

Does CNN have a spot where we can send in emails to pretty much tell them we think their coverage SUCKS sometimes? I mean, I have sent in comments on the 360 blog and Dr. Gupta's blog, but let me say, the ones being critical of the show do NOT get posted. Of course, I'm not surprised that my poem saying that Zsa Zsa's husband reminded me of my best friend's anus did not get posted :) Heh. I posted it on my own blog instead.

ivy said...

chris --great post. I watched 360 yesterday and was pleasantly surprised they covered this issue. And if you notice they did it at the end of the second hour. Should we wonder why? It is outragious that these radioactive weapons are used and I'm proud of 360 to bring up the issue.

@sharla -- don't start me about radioctivity and Chernobyl. People still live --not in chernobyl, but in areas that are not too far from it because of the politics of the governments. Cander rates there are skyrocketing, especially thyroid cancers, young people get benign tumours for no apparent reason, kids are born with defect or very sick, and so on and so on. You don
't know about it cause that area is not a strategic interset of Us --so the west couldn't give a damn.

courtney01 said...

Excellent post, Chris.

You raised lots of good questions: Why doesn't the US mainstream media want to report on these matters? Why don't they want to tell the American public where their tax dollars are being spent? Call me cynical, but it stinks of corruption.

But most people are content to live in their McMansions, drive their gas-guzzling SUVs, max out their credit cards buying their big screen plasma TVs and Abercrombie & Fitch clothing, and yakking on their cell phones while shopping, dining at restaurants and using public toilets to care about what the government is doing.

Pardon me for my outburst, but sometimes I just get sick of it all.

Anonymous said...

Serious, not so serious, what difference does it make what sort of Anderson blogs are out there? Why be such a snob about it? Snobbishness makes ME want to throw up.

Christiane said...

@anon 6:21
The funny think anon is that actually the not so serious blogs are the ones that are quite intolerant, snobbish and closed groups. And many new blogs started in response to their intolerance.
I have always said, there is a niche for all blogs. Diversity increases the reader's experience, and not everyone has the same point of view.
And for your tummy ache I can recommend you to take some Ginger Ale, Milk Of Magnesia,Tums... Rolaids...

jr said...

I agree, great post! Is there really a difference between WMD and DU? Sometimes I think we are our own worst enemy. IMHO, anything vaquely related to radioactivity is bad for you regardless of the amount or exposure. It's a silent killer.

One of the aspects that made me a fan of AC360 was the whole concept of covering all angles. There are times when I think the show producers slack off in doing this or if they do, it's a hurried or brief coverage. They could have done more indepth coverage of this topic. To me, it is way more controversial than the Anna Nicole story!

ivy said...

@courtney --it's a righteous outburst. Glad to see you!

@jr -- exactly, that's what they should be covering and focusing on. And making it the center of the program, not pushed to the end of the show. We need more reports like this one, like Jeff's from Niger Delta or Drew Griffin's about insurance. And like Michael Ware reports.

Anonymous said...

I didn't see it so I guess I shouldn't have an opinion on the show, but you can e-mail 360 about the show. I have once when people were in an uproar over the sniper video that was sent to Ware, and again to ask them to quit it with the Anna Nicole crap. Maybe if more people let them know that we watch the show for news, not drama, they'll give us some. News, I mean...
And is DU the cause of what soldiers call "gulf war syndrome"?

Christiane said...

I think it is Anne.


Don't think for me. Don't assume what I want to hear or read. Give me facts. Give me reasons. But not yours. Bring me debate. Enlighten me. Today, accountability is masked behind anonymity; bylines are hidden by zeros and ones. Everyone publishes; everyone is "in the know." Ethics are non-existent. Speculation is king. The truth is masked and a hostage. Empowered by our minds, WE ARE THE FREAKSPEAKERS!


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