Sunday, August 21, 2016

DEVALUATION OF THE GODS

How can people tell if they’re living in an occupied country?

That was supposed to be the substance of this week’s newsletter, “Twilight of the gods.” Why? Because each occupied country in the world (195 countries) has been assigned one god: the god to pray to when that particular country gets occupied by an invader.

But prayer works only if it’s a military invader. If your country has been occupied by an economic invader, you haven’t a prayer. Why? Because no amount of prayer to the god of your occupation can offer any redress. The problem is that your particular invaders are visually non-identifiable, they talk American, wear the same clothes, sport the same haircuts, only more pricey, beat their wives, abuse their children, just like we do. So you have no way of knowing that you are living under occupation.

To uncover who’s really in charge visual aids would  have to be required of economic occupiers in order for ordinary people to be able to spot them. Such visual aids as:

            •wearing military dress at all times
            •sporting  ample chest candy
            •talking un-American
            •wearing facial hair as possible
            •where facial hair is not possible, wearing pants suits
            •talking in loud, commanding voices accompanied by sweeping gestures
            •displaying the flag and saluting it repeatedly
            •pledging allegiance
            •singing the national anthem off-key on the congressional steps
            •learning to goose step where appropriate

We apologize to our readers this week because our original newsletter, “Twilight of the gods” has been pre-empted by Devaluation of the gods. A brief explanation is in order. With 195 gods, one for each occupied country, there were just too many gods, and too many countries for convenience. Whether you like it or not, a devaluation of the gods has been declared. A just-in emergency bulletin reports they’re being retired, every single god-jack one of them. From now on, you get One God for the former 195. That’s just how it is. So suck it up.

Just yesterday, I was interviewed about the Divine Devaluation by Planetary Press, a wholly owned subsidiary of World News. Inc. The transcript follows:

PP.  Ms. Pineda, we’re happy to have you on our show.

CP. And I’m very disgruntled to be here!

PP. Why have the 195 gods been retired?

CP. Because they’re obsolete.

PP. Why would they be obsolete, now that we need them more than ever?

CP. No more little iddy biddy two-bit gods, because no more little iddy biddy two-bit countries….

PP. Like some Pacific Islands…

CP. They’re already underwater. I’m afraid we have a bigger problem…

PP. You’re not insinuating…This doesn’t affect the Number One countries…Not the U.S. of Airborne Drones?

CP. There are no more countries. Period. Drones or no.

PP.  We wiped them all out…? Is that what you’re saying..?

CP. Hear me out… There are no more countries.

PP. Beg pardon?

CP. Actually that’s a good idea, but out of context here …

PP. Care to elaborate?

CP. There’s only One God Now….

PP. You’re a sudden monotheist….

CP. There’s Only One God Now because there’s only One Government.

PP. The U.S. of A.

CP. Not quite. The U.S. of A is obsolete.

PP. Are you aware of the gravity of your remark, Ms. Pineda? That could get you 35 in solitary….

CP. All countries are now obsolete. The neo-cons have seen to that, thank you very much. There’s only One Government Now. It has certain Divisions, like GATT, FTAA, MEFTA, TAFTA, NAFTA, TTIP, TPA, TPP, WAEMU, TIDCA, ECOWAS, TISA  and all the other TIFAs and FTAs, but none of them have flags. They’re just wholly owned subsidiaries. We don’t have countries any more. We have World Government.

PP. Wasn’t that what all your progressives kept yammering about? One World?

CP. Except this one’s a pig-on-a-platter with the planet in its mouth.

PP. And now we quickly turn our attention to the $60 billion Lockheed Martin/Boeing/General Dynamics/Raytheon sale to the House of Saud. Way to go Lockheed Martin/Boeing/General Dynamics and Raytheon!




TO OPPOSE THE TPP and TISA, the mother of all “trade” deals:

Despite 2 million signatures opposing the TPP. Obama has sent the TPP to be shooed in by the lame duck Congress. And the Resident-in-Waiting has appointed Tim Kaine as her prospective vice resident, and Ken Salazar to head her transition team. Read more about this Manchurian crew and their positions on fracking and the TPP. 

Meantime, it may be time to chain yourself to a pipeline or bulldozer, or stage a congressional sit in, or take wire cutters to a few chain link fences and spike a tree or two. But if you can’t yet relate to that kind of inconvenience, and you if  you still imagine you live in a representative democracy, the following petition is still current:


Note: This newsletter's position on signing petitions is mixed. Signing petitions may be totally ineffectual, but on the other hand it can't hurt. Or can it? Every time you sign a petition, think what it would look like if you got out in the street and braved your inconvenience threshold to march, hold a sign, holler, lock down a bank or any other non-violent approach?


Sunday, August 14, 2016

First the Good News

And now for something you'll really enjoy! 

Apologies to my readers: this newsletter usually announces doom and gloom, so this week, here’s something to lighten our hearts:

During the Veterans for Peace Conference, VFP awarded Pace e Bene co-founder Fr. Louie Vitale their Howard Zinn Lifetime Achievement Award. Fr. Louie opened up his church in the Tenderloin every night so that the homeless would have a place to sleep. Fr. Louie and I were the only two elders working with DASW (Direct Action to Stop War) to shut San Francisco down the day following the U.S. invasion of Iraq. Fr. Louie served six months hard time in Lompoc for "trespassing" at Vandenberg AFB. To replace the weapon's grade plutonium in a missile firing, Vandenberg substitutes DU (read below). Prisoners in Lompoc  received milk from cows grazing grass contaminated by Fukushima fallout. Below is an excerpt by Will Covert introducing Fr. Louie.

Now on to the matter at hand, the presentation of this year’s 2016 Howard Zinn Lifetime Achievement Award. The recipient of this award should be an individual who is deserving to join the ranks of those former recipients. The recipient should also have a significant and lifelong commitment to the cause of Peace and Justice. So with close to 50 year of activism at home and abroad the recipient of this year’s award has been on an unwavering quest for Peace and Justice for decades. However, his quest for Peace and Justice, as with the other recipients of this award, is sought through nonviolence. Seeking Peace and Justice by any means is one thing, seeking Peace and Justice through Nonviolence is quite another. In a land where the predominant thought on violence and on war is that violence will triumph over nonviolence and that there always have been wars and that there always will be wars, seeking Peace and Justice through Nonviolence is somewhat analogous to Ginger Rogers statement about dancing; that is, doing it backwards and in high heels. I’m not suggesting to you that this years recipient of the achievement award wears heels but, I know him well enough to say that if he thought it would bring him closer to his objective, to a just and peaceful world, he’d where high heels, and without question.

For full text of Louie's dedication



HIROSHIMA – NAGASAKI DAY  --  PART II


The United States and its NATO surrogate are waging nuclear war right now. Depleted uranium was first manufactured in the United States in 1968. In 1972, it was given to Israel to use in the Yom Kippur War. Later it was used in warfare in Somalia, in Kosovo and in Bosnia; it was used in the “Highway of Death” during the first Gulf War in the form of DU-tipped tank-piercing ordnance, destroying all of Saddam Hussein’s retreating army. It was used again in Afghanistan and during the ten-year no-fly zone sanction period, in which some one million Iraqis died, 500,000 of them children; it was used in “Operation Iraqi Freedom,” otherwise known as the shock and awe carpet bombing of Baghdad. Today it is being used in Yemen, Somalia, and Libya as well.


Where You Might Have Been And When

Exhale. Inhale. Depending on where you were and when you were there, you have just inhaled a nanoparticle of DU (depleted uranium) smaller than 10 microns. If you served in the First Gulf War, particularly around Basra in southern Iraq, and particularly if you found yourself near the “Highway of Death,” where Saddam’s tanks and personnel carriers tried making a dash of it out of Kuwait and back toward Basra, you most certainly inhaled many nanoparticles of DU. You came home from the three-week war with particles lodged in your lungs, particles that passed through your alveoli and into your bloodstream, eventually to lodge in your muscles, in your bones, in your brain, wherever the red rivers of your body took them, and you became a statistic. If you were assigned to clean out damaged tanks, tanks caught in crossfire, you will most certainly have inhaled DU. If you were assigned to prepare damaged tanks and personnel carriers for shipment and burial in the United States as the government of Kuwait demanded after the war, you are sure to have inhaled DU, or it may just as easily have penetrated through your skin. You were never warned by any commanding officer that you would come into contact with DU. Sixty-five of a hundred of you would have children with severe illnesses, missing eyes, blood infections, respiratory problems and fused fingers, because DU remained lodged in the place it came to rest within your body, irradiating neighboring cells in a kind of ‘bystander’ effect, leading to an 8-fold increase in genetic damage. You are three times more likely to have children with birth deformities than fathers who did not serve in the Gulf. Your babies are 65% more likely to have physical abnormalities, and your wives and partners are 40% more likely to miscarry. They are the lucky ones.

By 2003, following the First Gulf War, Basra saw a five-fold increase in congenital malformations, and a quadrupling incidence of malignant diseases. If you were a child of Basra, playing in abandoned vehicles or tanks, you would have inhaled DU and probably ingested it. You, too, would become a statistic—an Iraqi one—one of hundreds of thousands of Iraqi children developing childhood leukemia. You would be five times more at risk for developing cancer of the thyroid. You would be condemned to a short life of bodily suffering, and while you sickened and died, you would have to see the pain in your mother’s eyes, your father’s grief—if you still had a mother or a father. If you were or are a woman in Basra, your risk of giving birth to a severely handicapped child would have increased 60%. Either you might have been helpless to prevent a pregnancy, or perhaps you would have ignored the advice of those Iraqi doctors who had not already fled Iraq who said, “Iraq is no longer a place to have children,” because had you given birth to such a child, you would have had to care for it with the little food available to you, bathed him with contaminated rain or sewer water. Perhaps you would have had to carry him, if in his short life he could never have hoped to walk, or see, or feed himself—or any of the kinds of things that characterize human living in the world. And you yourself might be one of the 70 out of 1,000 people to develop cancer (Viewzone. “Depleted Uranium: Anatomy of an Atrocity”).

Or suppose that you had become pregnant in Falluja following the assaults of April or November 2004, in which NATO used white phosphorous and DU. According to the International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health, your chances of giving birth to a child with neural tube defects affecting the brain or lower extremities, with cardiac or skeletal abnormalities, or with cancers, would have multiplied eleven times, and your city would have seen a 15% drop in the number of boy children born. In a study conducted by Dr. Samira Ghani, 11% of babies born in Fallujah were premature (under 30 weeks), 14% of fetuses spontaneously aborted, and of 547 babies born to a sampling of 55 families, 15% had serious birth defects. Such defects, which were extremely rare in Iraq prior to the large- scale use of DU weapons, are now commonplace (Martin Chulov. “Research links rise in Falluja birth defects and cancers to US assault”). (Photographic documentation showing such anomalies as infants born without brains or faces, with their internal organs outside their bodies, without sexual organs, or without spines, can be seen at http://stgvisie. home.xs4all.nl/VISIE/extremedeformities.html.)

Their cover-ups notwithstanding, the U.S. military is aware of DU’s harmful effects on the human genetic code. Already in 2001 Dr. Alexandra Miller had completed a study for the Armed Forces Radiobiology Research Institute at Bethesda indicating that DU’s chemical instability causes one million times more genetic damage to DNA than would be expected f rom its radiation effect alone. But by interfering with their rights to conduct their own investigations, the U.S. has prevented Iraqis from obtaining the data needed to confront the enormity of the health damage to the population caused by DU (Prof. Souad N. Al-Azzawi. “The Responsibility of the US in Contaminating Iraq”).

Dr. Hardan is a special advisor to the World Health Organization. He documented the effects of DU in Iraq between 1991 and 2002. “American forces admit to using over 300 tons of DU weapons in 1991. The actual figure is closer to 800. This has caused a health crisis that has affected almost a third of a million people. As if that were not enough, America went on to use 200 tons more in Baghdad during the recent invasion.” According to Dr. Ahmad Hardan, writing about Basra, it took two years of research to obtain conclusive proof of what DU actually does:
. . . but now we know what to look for, and the results are terrifying. Nothing can prepare someone for the sight of hundreds of preserved fetuses scarcely human in appearance, or babies born with terribly foreshortened limbs, with intestines outside their bodies, with huge bulging tumors where their eyes should be, with single eyes, like a cyclops, without eyes, or limbs, and even without heads. Such defects are almost unknown except in babies born near A-bomb test sites in the Pacific.

Dr. Hardan reports that he arranged for a delegation from Japan’s Hiroshima Hospital to visit in order to share their experience about the radiological diseases Iraq was likely to see over time. But this delegation declined to come after the Americans objected. Likewise, a world-ranking German cancer specialist agreed to come, only to be denied entry into Iraq.

John Hanchette, who is a professor of journalism and one of the founding editors of USA Today, reports that, although he prepared news breaking stories about the effects of DU on Gulf War veterans and Iraqi citizens, each time he was ready to go to press, he received a phone call from the Pentagon requesting he not publish. Since, he has been replaced as editor of USA Today.

Dr. Keith Braverstock, the World Health Organization’s chief expert on radiation, alleges that his report “On the Cancer Risks to Civilians in Iraq from Breathing Uranium-Contaminated Dust” was deliberately suppressed.

Dr. Alim Abdul Hameed Yacoub published three studies between the years 1998 and 2002 indicating that malignant diseases in the children of Basra showed a 60% rise from 1990 to 1997, including a 120% increase in malignancies in all children under the age of 15. He demonstrated a 160% increase in uterine cancer, a 143% increase in thyroid cancer, a 102% increase in breast cancer, and an 82% increase in lymphomas. His results also showed that new generations of cruise missiles contain DU.

Dr. Yacoub was twice attacked in his home by pro-occupation militias two weeks before he was killed, along with his son, when his car was forced off the highway on his way back home to Basra. Other researchers were deprived of their freedom by imprisonment without accusation, and some 250 Iraqi scientists were assassinated after Iraq’s invasion by occupation militias (Dr. Souad Al-Azzawi: “Depleted Uranium Radioactive Contamination in Iraq: an Overview”).

Dr. Asaf Durakovic, Uranium Medical Research Center (UMRC) founder, accompanied by a research team, conducted a three-week trip in October of 2003, collecting some one hundred samples of soils, civilian urine and tissue from Iraqi soldiers in ten Iraqi cities. They determined that their samples revealed hundreds of thousands of times normal radiation levels. When he went on record stating that the U.S. doesn’t “want to admit that they committed war crimes by using weapons...banned under international law,” he was warned to stop his work. Subsequently he was fired from his position, his house was ransacked, and he reported receiving death threats.

The Pentagon and the Department of Defense have interfered with publication of UMRC’s studies by a campaign of misinformation in the press, through the funding of research grants refuting UMRC’s scientific findings, and by destroying the reputation of UMRC’s staff, physicians and laboratories. The re-framing of the data as a debate between government and experts polarizes the issues and obscures the scientific facts based on irrefutable data. In this, the UN’s regulatory agencies, the military, and defense sector manufacturers are all complicit (Doug Westerman. “Depleted Uranium—Far Worse Than 9/11”).







Sunday, August 7, 2016

AUGUST 6: HIROSHIMA - NAGASAKI REMEMBRANCE DAY




(These reflections are reprinted from Devil’s Tango: How I Learned The Fukushima Step By Step which I published on the first anniversary of the Fukushima catastrophe, a Hiroshima-Nagasaki under a different name.)

Ever since 1945 when the United States dropped two atomic bombs on Hiroshima and Nagasaki, much has been written and spoken about August 6. The gist of those remarks can be summed up as “Never Again.” Most Americans are not aware that the U.S. is conducting a nuclear war right now, and has been conducting nuclear war since 1999.

In Kosovo, in Iraq, in Libya, in Afghanistan, and in Somalia, the United States and its dark proxy, NATO, have made use of depleted uranium ordnance. It is used in Abrams tanks, A-10 warplanes, and Bradley fighting vehicles, in bombshells, tank armor plating, aircraft ballast in Boeings 747s, Bunker Busters, and fragmentation mines (otherwise referred to as “anti-personnel devices”). At least 15 other countries hold supplies of DU. In all, 320 tons were used in the 1991 Gulf War; an appalling 90 tons were used in only the first 24 hours of the “shock and awe” carpet bombing of Baghdad when uranium aerosols were widely dispersed in the atmosphere and blown across Europe so that 9 days later, on March 28, elevated levels of uranium exceeding Environmental Agency thresholds were picked up in various areas in Great Britain, a clear-cut case of the chickens coming home to roost.



WHAT is DU?


Depleted uranium (DU) is an alloy of the radioactive, heavy metal uranium, with a lower content of the fissile isotope U-235 than naturally-occurring uranium. It is a byproduct of the uranium enrichment process that isolates the more radioactive U-235 isotope for use in nuclear bombs and in nuclear reactors as fuel. It has a typical isotopic content of 99.75% U-238 by weight, 0.25% U-235, and 0.005% U-234 with a half life of 4.5 billion, 700 million and 245,500 years respectively (see Wikipedia. “Depleted uranium”).

Its highly ignitable properties allow the DU penetrator to ignite on impact, generating extremely high temperatures. As it pierces its target, it leaves burned-off material behind, dispersing DU dust into the environment. The quantity of aerosol production is proportional to the DU mass within the projectile and the strength of the impact. Up to 70% of DU contained in the projectiles is aerosolized on impact when the DU catches fire. The explosion generates temperatures of between 3,000° and 6,000° Celsius. Nanoparticles so generated are smaller than 10 microns in size and act more like a gas than a particle. Because they remain air and windborne for long periods of time, they constitute the most serious threat to any human population close to battle areas. Marion Falk, a retired chemical physicist who built nuclear bombs for more than 20 years at Lawrence Livermore Lab, identified DU weapons as “dirty bombs in every way.” (Dipnote. Official blog of the U.S. Department of State).

WHY is DU USED?

DU is used by both the US and UK military for four main reasons: 

•  it solves the problem of disposal of the nation’s huge stockpile of radioactive waste. it gets rid of anywhere from 200,000 to 300,000 tons of death ash the nuclear industry has so far accumulated on earth.
•  it’s cheap and in plentiful supply;
•  it’s effective in military engagement because its high density and self-sharpening qualities enable it to penetrate hard targets easily; it burns on impact, increasing its ability to destroy enemy targets. 

It contaminates countries we don’t like. But it’s not out of our backyard: returning troops from various theaters of war bring it home—to the United States (and other NATO countries), in the form of radiation sickness (otherwise known as Gulf Disease), cancers, a high incidence of leukemia and birth defects among their offspring.

A COUPLE of DU LINKS 

As early as 1953, Monsanto’s then-vice president, Dr. Charles Thomas, pointed out that nuclear plants could not be a profitable undertaking unless they provided bomb-grade plutonium to the atomic weapons industry. He advocated creating a dual-purpose plutonium reactor, one which could produce plutonium for weapons and electricity for commercial use.

Depleted uranium, as the by-product of the refinement process necessary to create both nuclear fuel and nuclear bombs provides the deadly component of DU-tipped ordnance used by the U.S. and NATO in its on-going nuclear wars. Thus it links the nuclear industry’s two arms, the energy and war making arms. It links both arms of the nuclear war-making industry as well: Low profile use of DU, and high profile atomic weapons.

“The Department of Energy’s National Nuclear Security Administration (NNSA) and the Pentagon together plan to spend $1 trillion over the next 30 years to “modernize: all aspects of the nuclear weapons stockpile: The bombs, and warheads, the production facilities, the delivery systems, and command and control systems.” according to Tri-Valley Cares Spring 2016 newsletter.  The 1,000 nuclear-tipped Long Range Stand Off (LRSO) the Air Force plans to field. Indistinguishable from a conventional warhead, it is designed as a first-strike weapon.

As the U.S. moves into the next selection cycle, either corporate candidate when selected will have a finger on the nuclear trigger. Whereas Trump’s nuclear track record is unknown, the Democratic option is known to be trigger happy, the author of two failed states, namely Libya and Honduras, the country with the highest homicide rate in the world. As a great friend of Israel, she has gone on record saying Iran must be obliterated. Never since the Cuban Missile Crisis has the U.S. been closer to experiencing a nuclear war. I like to remember that Hitler (kill record upwards of 6 million), compared to Stalin (kill record over 21 million) was the lesser of two evils.



BIRTH DEFECTS

At the heart of the DU nuclear nightmare is something no one wants to talk about: birth defects, a whitewash word for children born without the attributes we recognize as human. They are the hidden casualties of irradiation in the womb. Thousands of these beings draw breath in the darkened rooms and corridors of orphanages, state institutions, and in families brave enough—or poor enough—to have to keep them, these constant reminders of a man-made tragedy that can never be undone. These beings live in concealment in the Ukraine as the result of Chernobyl—and in Kosovo and Iraq, and wherever else NATO’s occupying armies have irradiated the soil by dropping DU-tipped bunker busters and firing tank-piercing ordnance.

Almost every documentary film made of Chernobyl allows the viewer their full moment to recognize the image content, sufficient light to make it out—with one exception: birth defects, beings born with horrifying malformations: three heads, no eyes, lifeless limbs twisting out of rag-doll torsos. These are the images mankind strives to keep itself from seeing—these, and images of death and dying. These are the dark secrets kept in the subterranean vaults buried beneath the bright and lying surfaces of living. (No other writer that I know of has dealt with buried horror more truthfully than Ursula LeGuin, in her short story titled “Those Who Walk Away from Omelos.”) Yet every day, in our children’s toys, these images abound: the face of swamp man; Mr. Potato Head (minus the popping Disney eyes that make it ‘cute’). Picture these images now but with your own astonished eyes. Recognize in them the misshapen, grotesque beings that live in the hundreds of thousands, shut away in orphanages where none but the merciful with their forgiving eyes and hands manage to find it in their hearts to care for them.

How might a woman feel giving birth to a child with such deformities? In 2011 a Bay Area newspaper described one such woman, a woman accused of leading her four-year-old, severely handicapped child up four storeys in a garage elevator and pushing him off the roof into the street below. He suffered from torticolis, a twisting of the neck, and a condition resulting in a severely misshapen head. To reporters, her weeping husband said his wife should not be held responsible. She did not want this child. After his birth she suffered severe postpartum depression. He said how much he loved her, and that he could not find it in his heart to blame her.

Now imagine appointing one woman whose tragedy it was to be caught pregnant, especially in her first trimester, when Chernobyl blew, or when Fukushima blew, or during the years of  massive Pacific weapons “testing.” Imagine appointing her to join the panel of engineers charged with designing the “new generation of reactors” trumpeted by the Obama Administration, or the board of the Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) or to the International Atomic Energy Agency (the IAEA). What effect would it have on all those men sitting on their boards— the suited hijackers of our planet—to be met with these silent women, holding their atrociously deformed children in their arms? Imagine these women forcing that child into the arms of each board member to examine and caress.

What does it mean for me today, the one hundred sixty-fourth day following our planetary nuclear catastrophe, to plumb the darkened dungeon of my own imagination, the place I have resisted from the beginning, to reach its darkest heart? What do I feel, I, a young-bearing animal, a woman, a mother? At my deepest heart, I feel rage boiling up, a cyclone which, if I let it, would explode, vaporize the walls that contain me. How can I possibly meet this rage without dying of it? How can I stop it from tearing me apart?

(reprinted in part from my  book Devil’s Tango: How I Learned the Fukushima Step by tap, published on the first anniversary of the catastrophe at Fukushima Daiichi.)



AUGUST 6: HIROSHIMA - NAGASAKI REMEMBRANCE DAY




(These reflections are reprinted from Devil’s Tango: How I Learned The Fukushima Step By Step which I published on the first anniversary of the Fukushima catastrophe, an Hiroshima-Nagasaki under a different name.)

Ever since 1945 when the United States dropped two atomic bombs on Hiroshima and Nagasaki, much has been written and spoken about August 6. The gist of those remarks can be summed up as “Never Again.” Most Americans are not aware that the U.S. is conducting a nuclear war right now, and has been conducting nuclear war since 1999.

In Kosovo, in Iraq, in Libya, in Afghanistan, and in Somalia, the United States and its dark proxy, NATO, have made use of depleted uranium ordnance. It is used in Abrams tanks, A-10 warplanes, and Bradley fighting vehicles, in bombshells, tank armor plating, aircraft ballast in Boeings 747s, Bunker Busters, and fragmentation mines (otherwise referred to as “anti-personnel devices”). At least 15 other countries hold supplies of DU. In all, 320 tons were used in the 1991 Gulf War; an appalling 90 tons were used in only the first 24 hours of the “shock and awe” carpet bombing of Baghdad when uranium aerosols were widely dispersed in the atmosphere and blown across Europe so that 9 days later, on March 28, elevated levels of uranium exceeding Environmental Agency thresholds were picked up in various areas in Great Britain, a clear-cut case of the chickens coming home to roost.



WHAT is DU?


Depleted uranium (DU) is an alloy of the radioactive, heavy metal uranium, with a lower content of the fissile isotope U-235 than naturally-occurring uranium. It is a byproduct of the uranium enrichment process that isolates the more radioactive U-235 isotope for use in nuclear bombs and in nuclear reactors as fuel. It has a typical isotopic content of 99.75% U-238 by weight, 0.25% U-235, and 0.005% U-234 with a half life of 4.5 billion, 700 million and 245,500 years respectively (see Wikipedia. “Depleted uranium”).

Its highly ignitable properties allow the DU penetrator to ignite on impact, generating extremely high temperatures. As it pierces its target, it leaves burned-off material behind, dispersing DU dust into the environment. The quantity of aerosol production is proportional to the DU mass within the projectile and the strength of the impact. Up to 70% of DU contained in the projectiles is aerosolized on impact when the DU catches fire. The explosion generates temperatures of between 3,000° and 6,000° Celsius. Nanoparticles so generated are smaller than 10 microns in size and act more like a gas than a particle. Because they remain air and windborne for long periods of time, they constitute the most serious threat to any human population close to battle areas. Marion Falk, a retired chemical physicist who built nuclear bombs for more than 20 years at Lawrence Livermore Lab, identified DU weapons as “dirty bombs in every way.” (Dipnote. Official blog of the U.S. Department of State).

WHY is DU USED?

DU is used by both the US and UK military for four main reasons: 

•  it solves the problem of disposal of the nation’s huge stockpile of radioactive waste. it gets rid of anywhere from 200,000 to 300,000 tons of death ash the nuclear industry has so far accumulated on earth.
•  it’s cheap and in plentiful supply;
•  it’s effective in military engagement because its high density and self-sharpening qualities enable it to penetrate hard targets easily; it burns on impact, increasing its ability to destroy enemy targets. 

It contaminates countries we don’t like. But it’s not out of our backyard: returning troops from various theaters of war bring it home—to the United States (and other NATO countries), in the form of radiation sickness (otherwise known as Gulf Disease), cancers, a high incidence of leukemia and birth defects among their offspring.

A COUPLE of DU LINKS 

As early as 1953, Monsanto’s then-vice president, Dr. Charles Thomas, pointed out that nuclear plants could not be a profitable undertaking unless they provided bomb-grade plutonium to the atomic weapons industry. He advocated creating a dual-purpose plutonium reactor, one which could produce plutonium for weapons and electricity for commercial use.

Depleted uranium, as the by-product of the refinement process necessary to create both nuclear fuel and nuclear bombs provides the deadly component of DU-tipped ordnance used by the U.S. and NATO in its on-going nuclear wars. Thus it links the nuclear industry’s two arms, the energy and war making arms. It links both arms of the nuclear war-making industry as well: Low profile use of DU, and high profile atomic weapons.

“The Department of Energy’s National Nuclear Security Administration (NNSA) and the Pentagon together plan to spend $1 trillion over the next 30 years to “modernize: all aspects of the nuclear weapons stockpile: The bombs, and warheads, the production facilities, the delivery systems, and command and control systems.” according to Tri-Valley Cares Spring 2016 newsletter.  The 1,000 nuclear-tipped Long Range Stand Off (LRSO) the Air Force plans to field. Indistinguishable from a conventional warhead, it is designed as a first-strike weapon.

As the U.S. moves into the next selection cycle, either corporate candidate when selected will have a finger on the nuclear trigger. Whereas Trump’s nuclear track record is unknown, the Democratic option is known to be trigger happy, the author of two failed states, namely Libya and Honduras, the country with the highest homicide rate in the world. As a great friend of Israel, she has gone on record saying Iran must be obliterated. Never since the Cuban Missile Crisis has the U.S. been closer to experiencing a nuclear war. I like to remember that Hitler (kill record upwards of 6 million), compared to Stalin (kill record over 21 million) was the lesser of two evils.



BIRTH DEFECTS

At the heart of the DU nuclear nightmare is something no one wants to talk about: birth defects, a whitewash word for children born without the attributes we recognize as human. They are the hidden casualties of irradiation in the womb. Thousands of these beings draw breath in the darkened rooms and corridors of orphanages, state institutions, and in families brave enough—or poor enough—to have to keep them, these constant reminders of a man-made tragedy that can never be undone. These beings live in concealment in the Ukraine as the result of Chernobyl—and in Kosovo and Iraq, and wherever else NATO’s occupying armies have irradiated the soil by dropping DU-tipped bunker busters and firing tank-piercing ordnance.

Almost every documentary film made of Chernobyl allows the viewer their full moment to recognize the image content, sufficient light to make it out—with one exception: birth defects, beings born with horrifying malformations: three heads, no eyes, lifeless limbs twisting out of rag-doll torsos. These are the images mankind strives to keep itself from seeing—these, and images of death and dying. These are the dark secrets kept in the subterranean vaults buried beneath the bright and lying surfaces of living. (No other writer that I know of has dealt with buried horror more truthfully than Ursula LeGuin, in her short story titled “Those Who Walk Away from Omelos.”) Yet every day, in our children’s toys, these images abound: the face of swamp man; Mr. Potato Head (minus the popping Disney eyes that make it ‘cute’). Picture these images now but with your own astonished eyes. Recognize in them the misshapen, grotesque beings that live in the hundreds of thousands, shut away in orphanages where none but the merciful with their forgiving eyes and hands manage to find it in their hearts to care for them.

How might a woman feel giving birth to a child with such deformities? In 2011 a Bay Area newspaper described one such woman, a woman accused of leading her four-year-old, severely handicapped child up four storeys in a garage elevator and pushing him off the roof into the street below. He suffered from torticolis, a twisting of the neck, and a condition resulting in a severely misshapen head. To reporters, her weeping husband said his wife should not be held responsible. She did not want this child. After his birth she suffered severe postpartum depression. He said how much he loved her, and that he could not find it in his heart to blame her.

Now imagine appointing one woman whose tragedy it was to be caught pregnant, especially in her first trimester, when Chernobyl blew, or when Fukushima blew, or during the years of  massive Pacific weapons “testing.” Imagine appointing her to join the panel of engineers charged with designing the “new generation of reactors” trumpeted by the Obama Administration, or the board of the Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) or to the International Atomic Energy Agency (the IAEA). What effect would it have on all those men sitting on their boards— the suited hijackers of our planet—to be met with these silent women, holding their atrociously deformed children in their arms? Imagine these women forcing that child into the arms of each board member to examine and caress.

What does it mean for me today, the one hundred sixty-fourth day following our planetary nuclear catastrophe, to plumb the darkened dungeon of my own imagination, the place I have resisted from the beginning, to reach its darkest heart? What do I feel, I, a young-bearing animal, a woman, a mother? At my deepest heart, I feel rage boiling up, a cyclone which, if I let it, would explode, vaporize the walls that contain me. How can I possibly meet this rage without dying of it? How can I stop it from tearing me apart?

(reprinted in part from my  book Devi’s Tango: How I Learned the Fukushima Step by tap, published on the first anniversary of the catastrophe at Fukushima Daiichi.



Sunday, July 31, 2016

WELCOME TO THE PUNCH AND JUDY SHOW:


DISSATISFACTION WITH POLITICS-AS-USUAL HAS REACHED CRITICAL MASS IN THE UNITED STATES 

 

Most of the 99%, disenfranchised Americans in all camps, have had it with establishment politics and it’s high time. Unfortunately, either way, I predict the consequences at the polls this November will be disastrous, disastrous for the nation, and especially disastrous for a world at risk from climate collapse and from nuclear war.

The establishment is quite happy to ignore the fact that voting machines are owned by Republican interests, and that as privately owned election machines, their codes are proprietary, and that they have the ability, through the use of back doors, to strip and flip any “election” it may please a “Democracy” such as this one to call.
It will be interesting to see what role they play in this November’s selection. If the margin between the Punch and Judy they offer as candidates is sufficiently narrow, the selection can be decided literally with a coin flip. Be sure to vote! Your vote counts!

The establishment is still operating in the mindset that Barack Obama, although raised by white women, was somehow a Black president. Had Mr. Obama been Black, he would never have been elected, or had he accidentally been elected, he would have had to be assassinated. In the same way it is imagining that Clinton is a first-woman-president-in-the making. Appearances do not make the man—or the woman for that matter. Culture does.

The Clinton candidacy will bring out every single disaffected white male in the Untied States, because they perceive her as a woman, and consciously—or otherwise—they recognize that their day is over. Trump knows how to appeal to them.

Meantime, war, stolen primaries, GMO, oil trains, pipelines, fracking, TPP. new nuclear plants, deportations, exoneration of police lynching people of color will never go ho-hum unopposed again not by the left, and in some cases, notably TPP, not by the right either.

For both the left and the right, the politics of the establishment are toast. Trump, no matter how dumb, seems to get it; the DNC camp does not.  We watched them dig their own grave this past week.

The next White House “resident” will move in sometime in January and his name won’t be Hilary.

I’m making book. But, either way, Punch or Judy, we get the government we deserve.



 If the last two weeks depressed you, then here's a piece to put our fighting spirit in gear! 

THIS WEEK IN NUCLEAR:  REMARKABLE NEW DEVELOPMENTS

 

This past Friday, the UK's new Prime Minister's delayed going ahead with the $24 billion Hinkley nuclear debacle until this fall.  New York will be deciding Monday on whether or not to give the state's ailing nuclear stations a $500-million-a-year bailout.  The New York Times has been using its pro-nuclear bully pulpit to promote a $7.6 billion state subsidy for New York nuclear stations including Indian Point which had previously been targeted by Gov. Cuomo for closure.  The Times has published two attack pieces on Solar Power, the latest of which suggested that solar was no longer financially viable in California.  The piece went on to promote the Electric Industry's national campaign to roll back Net Metering. The New York regulator's decision on Monday is being hyped as a major media splash that will save nuclear power in the country! (petition here).  The nuclear utilities are threatening to close up to five units if they don't get the subsidies.

In no place in the country has this battle had more impact than in California where the largest expansion of solar power in the country has been taking place.  Net metering and the solar energy industry have come under growing attack since Jerry Brown's election. This last January, the electric industry failed to kill net metering at the CPUC but the solar industry submitted 130,000 signatures in its campaign to save it.  Even so, the agency sided with electric companies efforts to phase in monthly connection fees for all Net Metering customers the year before, while the IOU's biggest ally, Commissioner Florio - who earlier voted to kill Net Metering -  has taken on plans to make Metering fairer for the big three.  It was the above New York Times piece that focussed on a California resident whose Net Metering plan was no longer financially lucrative, but failed to give details about the CPUC's rate restructuring plan that will benefit the state's biggest energy hogs at the expense of average energy users! 

With the country's nuclear industry on the ropes, it is desperately hoping for new financial support from Trump who has promised to bring back the coal industry and ignore Climate Change issues.   A court in Utah refused to agree with environmentalists opposing a proposed nuclear facility that could end up contaminating the Colorado River, allowing the project to go ahead, while new nuclear reactor projects in New Jersey, Georgia and by the TVA have been announced.  At the same time, conservatives in Congress held hearings on how to streamline the NRC's licensing process in a desperate attempt to jump start certification for Small Modular Reactors (SMR), while a spike in lobbying has taken place by two utilities which want to use the nearly dead nuclear tax credit for new reactors, as well as allowing SMR's also to be included.  At the same time the Dept. of Energy has been holding Potemkin Nuclear Waste listening sessions almost everywhere except in Texas and NM where the industry is pushing to build a Monitored Retrievable Spent Fuel site.  Deadline for DOE comments are tonight (add your comments by clicking here).

The uranium mining industry is experiencing its lowest prices worldwide as demand has slowed with Japan's nuclear fleet still closed down due to public opposition.  The EPA has been in the news for recently announcing horrible radiation standards for US water supplies.  Republicans are saying that they will reorganize the EPA if they get the administrative reigns this year, while the agency, after 8 years of delay announced plans to restart cleaning up thousands of contaminated uranium mines across Dineh (Navajo) lands. 

Meanwhile a new push to mine uranium around the Grand Canyon continues even with the global uranium glut continues to drive prices down.  And then we have Hillary and Bill's family problem as Republicans launched a full-scale attack on twitter, claiming they let Russia take over 20% of America's uranium mining industry.   This story will only get bigger even though a NY Times piece tamped the flames down a few years ago.  If the right wing pushes too hard on this, it will likely come back to bite them since the Clinton's were actually part of George W. Bush's Global Nuclear Energy Partnership (GNEP) campaign to launch a global renaissance of nuclear power back in 2005.  In the push to build nuclear stations worldwide, the GNEP proposal included a UN plan supported by Russia to make Kazakhstan the world's uranium banking headquarters   Hillary's GNEP nuclear fingers were burned in 2010 when she was caught pushing Chile to build its first nuclear facility just weeks before the country suffered a 9.0 earthquake.

The independent global report on nuclear energy was also released in mid July.  It clearly shows that the industry is struggling worldwide, with the start up of 52 of Japan's 54 nuclear facilities being blocked by the public, while Taiwan voted in a new government dedicated to make the country nuclear free by 2025.  The massive nuclear expansion agendas in South Africa, and India are struggling while China has scaled its plans back from the installation ?commissioning? of over 150 reactors originally planned prior to the 2011 Fukushima triple meltdown. And on the positive side, China announced plans to build a $50 trillion grid globally designed for wind and solar energy. 

And, in clear opposition, over 10,000 people marched last week for Clean Energy in Philly.