Monday, September 19, 2016

WHAT WE TALK ABOUT WHEN WE TALK ABOUT WRITING*


READINGS AND BOOK SIGNINGS
I’ll be launching my new book, Three Tides:Writing at the Edge of Being  starting this month, with more appearances scheduled in October and November as follows:

2090 Kittredge Street
Saturday, September  24,  2 - 3:30 PM   
               
San Rafael Litquake
  Riley Street Arts Supply, 1138 4th St
San Rafael
Saturday, October 8, 3 - 4:15 PM  
 
Cedar at Milvia
Saturday, November 19,  4 – 5:30 PM   

http://www.wingspress.com/book.cfm?book_ID=219

 

WHAT WE TALK ABOUT WHEN WE TALK ABOUT WRITING*


Yesterday afternoon I took my latest book, Three Tides: Writing at the Edge of Being out for a spin.  I had a good time and the audience did too. What is it like to take a new book out for a spin?  It’s fun. Especially if you discover that there are new ways to talk about a book—especially if it happens to be yours.

When all is said and done, audiences like stories.  They help relax things, let a bit of air into some occasionally airtight spaces.  Stories are signals to audiences that there are points of entry for them, too.  They awaken the mind of story in other minds. 

Yes, we say. Yes, everyone has stories, and they’re fun to tell, and fun to listen to.

Talking about Three Tides, I pulled some stories out of the hat: Each one has a title, and each title has a direct relationship to what we talk about when we talk about writing.

Story One: What do you do all day? (or what do you as a writer do with all that free time while other people are really working). That allows me to open up a whole can of worms. I have two main sub-occupations it turns out, and one doesn’t even involve writing directly. (Hint: It’s making sure you NEVER have to write for hire. Free to tell it like you see it, and damn the torpedoes—or the editors, or the conglomerates which now decide what gets published and what doesn’t.)

Story Two: The punch line is wool gathering. The question is not What do you do all day, but What is all you do all day really like?

Story Three: Are you Inside? or Are You Outside? You might have to go as far as India to find out. I certainly did. But I am saving that one because if you are in the Bay Area, Saturday, September 24 and free to travel, please come to the Berkeley Public Library conference room, at 2090 Kittredge Street just two blocks south of the Downtown Berkeley BART station at 2 PM sharp to remind me to tell it in case I forget. Just say “Mr. Bihari.” The guy will let you in.

And hopefully you won’t disappoint because you’ll have an amazing question to throw into the discussion pot.

*Raymond Carver’s famous story, “What We Talk About When we Talk About Love” was loved to death by his editor Gordon Lish. But it was published posthumously exactly as Carver intended it to be.

Sunday, September 11, 2016

DISPLACEMENT, WHO ME?

READINGS AND BOOK SIGNINGS

I’ll be launching my new book, Three Tides: Writing at the Edge of Being  starting this month, with more appearances scheduled in October and November as follows:

2090 Kittredge Street
Saturday, September  24,  2 - 3:30 PM   

               
San Rafael Litquake
Downtown San Rafael
Fourth St.  

Saturday, October 8, 3 - 4:15 PM  

Berkeley Fellowship
Cedar at Milvia
Saturday, November 19,  4 – 5:30 PM           

                                                                                  



DISPLACEMENT, WHO ME?

Displacement is the subject of the newsletter this week. Displacement is what
my soon-to-be-published book Three Tides: Writing at the Edge of Being is all about.  All three sections deal with the pressures acting on people everywhere to leave home: leaving an unsustainable way of living (mine); leaving flooded New Orleans (Katrina); and destroying a culture and leaving ancestor graves yawning empty because a toxic waste disposal company lays claim to village land (Japan).

Much closer to home, two crises crowd all other stories to the back pages (except for the selection circus), namely the global refugee crisis brought about by climate collapse and resulting military hostilities (the Middle East) and all European countries  trying to close their doors to the flood of displaced people. It may bring the crisis more clearly into focus to know that one out of every 200children  in the world is now on the run, vulnerable to drowning in the Mediterranean and Adriatic seas; vulnerable to being incarcerated in jails for months on end because refugee camps are already full to overflowing. 




STAND OFF AT STANDING ROCK

And in the Untied States, the Standing Rock Sioux have been joined by hundreds of other First Nations in a last stand to defend their sacred burial grounds and their drinking water from contamination by the proposed Dakota Pipeline. 




Our people have strived to protect Sacred Sites from the beginning of time. These places have been violated for centuries and have brought us to the predicament that we are in at the global level.

Private security forces have turned the dogs on them, injuring one small child with horrifying facial wounds.   A local judge has ruled against their case.   Governor Dalrymple has called out the national guard, and Jill Stein and her running mate, Ajamu Baraka have been threatened with arrest and warrants have been issued by the Moran County Sheriff’s Office for criminal trespass and vandalism in connection with their weekend trip to Standing Rock, to stand in solidarity with indigenous tribes resisting oil pipeline expansion through their sacred native burial grounds. It’s the first time in U.S. history that a presidential candidate and her running mate have been targeted for arrest. 

To quote Ajamu Baraka: What we need… in North Dakota [is] authentic decolonization. …Indigenous people don’t have full control over their sovereignty,…We are not going to have social justice as long as there’s continuity in this settler colonial project. …All of us are implicated.

As of yesterday, September 10, the federal government stepped in to ask the pipeline company to “pause” action, to voluntarily halt construction temporarily within 20 miles of Lake Oahe, a sacred site of the local tribes.  The snake doesn’t shed its scales easily. The government’s ploy acted to diffuse the threat of more violence by hired security forces and the national guard; and by initiating a delaying tactic, it attempted to disperse the massive resistance gathered together at Standing Rock. 



But this issue will not go away. This newsletter  believes the Sioux stand in the front lines of all the displacement now threatening every one of us: 

We have been displaced by the subprime mortgage crisis from our homes; we have been displaced from our universities by massive tuition hikes; we have been displaced from a reliable banking system now that U.S. law has determined that all monies on deposit are property of the bank, not depositors; we have been displaced from our jobs by offshoring and by trade agreements such as the TPP and the TISA, and by the disproportionate incarceration of people of color for minor drug offences, providing slave labor for the prison/corporate complex; we have been displaced from our streets by free speech zones; we have been displaced from our lives by the use of drones to target/assassinate even American citizens, and by militarized police  who kill people of color with impunity and without judicial consequence; we have been displaced from our wombs by the anti-abortion  agenda of the neocons; we have been displaced from our DNA by continued used of nuclear technology, not only  in lands affected by the use of  uranium tipped ordnance, but on our own soils by nuclear contamination from testing, and from accumulating nuclear waste. 


We all need to pay attention to Chief Arvol Looking Horse’swords:

In our prophecies it is told that we are now at the crossroads: Either unite spiritually as a global nation, or be faced with chaos, disasters, diseases, and tears from our relatives’ eyes.

Know that you yourself are essential to this world. Understanding both the blessing and the burden of that. You yourself are desperately needed to save the soul of this world. Did you think you were put here for something  less? In a Sacred Hoop of Life, there is no beginning and no ending.


WHAT YOU CAN DO



ATTEND SEPTEMBER 13TH STANDING ROCK SOLIDARITY DEMOS: 

                  OAKLAND, OSCAR GRANT PLAZA  5:30 PM

                  ALBANY,  SAN PABLO @ MARIN 4 PM







Tuesday, September 6, 2016

READINGS AND BOOK SIGNINGS


READINGS AND BOOK SIGNINGS

“Writers, readers, teachers, and creative writing classes, take note: Cecile Pineda is an American original, a literary treasure.... Her prodigiously inventive and important work ... deserves a place in the forefront of  American Literature.

                                                            —Jeff Biggers in Bloomsbury Review

“Cecile Pineda has the nerve to ask the one simple question that eludes our public posturing: What is it, at the root of our culture, that sets us against the rest of creation.”

                                          —Joanna Macy, author of Coming Back to Life


I’ll be launching my new book, Three Tides: Writingat the Edge of Being starting this month, with more appearances scheduled in October and November as follows:

Saturday, Sept  24,  2 - 3:30 PM         Berkeley Public Library
                                                                                      2090 Kittredge Street

Saturday, Oct 8, 3 - 4:15 PM               San Rafael Litquake    
                                                                    Downtown Fourth St. 

Three Tides, Writing at the Edge of Being (my ninth) was born a twin in disguise. It addresses displacement, personal, environmental, and cultural (one of the sweeping themes of the anthropocene) to talk about the writing process, geared to folks who like to read, who want to write right now, or some time in the future.

In many ways we are displaced, from our homes, from our streets, from our jobs, from our right to health care and education, from our bombed out countries, from our wombs with the neocon antiabortion agenda; from our bodies by militarized police, from our DNA by the use of plutonium tipped (DU) weapons, from our landscape through arctic melt, and fire, drought and deluge and fracking, and from our truth by media, by surveillance and by incarceration in the prison/labor complex.

In Three Tides, Writing at the Edge of Being a theater work, oral histories, and personal memoir tell the story of humanity at the edge, dispossessed of its culture (Japan); and of its environment (Katrina).

You’re invited to be part of the Three Tides discussion at the book launch September 24 at the Berkeley Public Library.  Come! Enjoy! Ask questions! Meet new friends!

Sunday, September 4, 2016

Disruptive Technologies & The AI Race



Just as the advent of the Atomic Bomb has been considered the greatest threat to humanity, the coming of  an Artificial Intelligence (AI) computer could very well be our last techno race.  Elon Musk, the founder of Pay-pal and Tesla motors was inspired by this article on AI to do his own take on the subject.  AI first surfaced as a serious possibility in the early 90’s with the idea that we could all have an Einstein on our desktop.  The race for its development has slowed, with some estimates for its roll out  projected as early as 2022. At the same time Musk’s goal of using Moore’s exponential growth law for solar energy, batteries and a cheap electric car form part of a growing number of Disruptive Technologies that could either take us into a dystopian nightmare or give us a chance to mitigate the climate disaster we’ve dug ourselves into.

Will our future be a matter of cultural collapse or a climate survival race where we must deploy a growing number of technologies that Elon Musk and other like-minded proponents believe could save us and are just around the corner?  We certainly know where much of America’s far right stands on this issue, not to mention the complex technical challenges that haven’t yet been solved (see Germany’s Energewende).

Thanks to the mainstream media’s gate keeping, most people still don’t believe there is any need to change their lifestyle.  Many still cling to the value that former President George W. Bush articulated when he said “our lifestyle is not negotiable.”  The fate of the Earth is riding on who wins, the election and, sadly, the Democrats barely has one redeeming value left – their shallow support for renewable energy that would be rolled back with renewed support for coal and nuclear energy, even the promised reorganization of the EPA and NRC.
 
Musk and many others who were inspired by Lester Brown’s Plan B campaign (that closed last year)  is gambling billions of dollars with his plan to scale up production for a Tesla electric car costing less than $20,000 within 6 years, with the ramp up of his robotic-powered Gigafactory making batteries that just opened near Reno, Nevada.  Musk’s video presentation of the scale-up he is looking to promote has people concerned about whether there is enough lithium on the planet to carry it out his vision for battery- driven cars.  Others point to the potential of other breakthroughs capable of competing with lithium.  But wait!  Are we all being taken in by Musk and a growing number of scientists that believe we are living in some kind of cosmic simulation? Here’s the vision up close – Quantum Physics anyone?
 
It’s difficult for us or millennials to imagine what it must have been like to live between 1870-1920 when most of Americans at that time went from an agricultural society with no electricity, no cars, no telephones, radio or TV – let alone cell phones or computers!  A mere 60 years ago, this author remembers sitting on his great grandmother’s lap who was born before the civil war – that’s over eight generations ago.  Exploring her house showed the signs of electric wiring in the rooms, rather than between walls, a phone system right out of Petticoat Junction, a still operating outhouse, hand pumped water, and a coal chute and bins in the basement.  In other words, the society we live in is full of disruptive technologies and values contrary to the those my ancestors instilled in me about frugality and civil behavior.  

At this point it is almost impossible for American baby boomers to contemplate the dramatic changes predicted for the near future. Technologies such as 3D printing and nanotechnology will completely change the planet on a scale right out of Star Trek, from its “food dispenser” to communications already here. From its start as an agrarian society right up to the 1980s China has now been able to construct a 30-story high rise in 15 days, and its about-face on coal use, forced it to spend over $100 billion last year on wind and solar, including initial plans for a $50 trillion global super grid. We are watching from afar as the world’s largest country attempts to navigate out of the trap the West’s reliance on fossil fuels created.

Will the Artificial Intelligence Race Be Our Last? 

 

Early AI conceptual design models included simple bots capable of carrying out routines, like Wall Street trading, Ebay bidding, or news-gathering systems that evolved into entities like Google. Sadly, their innovative book- scanning project has been commercialized, or worse, being threatened by business versions that recently forced the take down of the free Milwaukee library.

One of the lessor known potentials should have been the mining of links summarizing content. A box such as the one on the right could pop up with a mouse hover (and a key or voice command) over a link on a webpage showing details for that link. Such a link summary tool would create a sophisticated online review of materials extending far beyond anything Google does.  Imagine a librarian organizing your bookmarks automatically for you in tandem with your automated browser’s built in history.  As computing power advances, the image to the right reveals just some of the tools that such a web resource could automate.  Similar examples of AI include mapping tools as shown in the image above, that could also be used to mine down into complex web content like this link.  When covering news that doesn’t just end after a single article, content could then be organized into visual maps broken down by subject and timelines. Using models similar to those used by paralegals it enhances the ability to track and summarize complex news or legal content sometimes over months or years.

As the introduction above suggests, there is a global tech race by either a corporation or a government to build the first AI computer. With its ability to mine the internet.  Giant corporations like Google are looking to create an AI entity capable of exponentially becoming thousands of times more intelligent than any human. As depicted by such Hollywood movies as the Matrix, I-Robot, or the 13th Floor, its arrival has prompted immense concern.  

Disruptive tech like drones, already in use by the U.S. abrogates international law. By using them to invade over a dozen sovereign countries, the U.S. incites the kind of reaction other countries are bound to have. Similarly, the Stuxnet super virus implanted in Iran’s uranium processing infrastructure affords an example of what a capricious AI entity is capable of doing.

Tony Seba’s presentation (33 minutes into video) of the radar system required to run an autonomous car demonstrates the exponential changes projected for disruptive technologies. In 2004, the computational power for the autonomous car radar system required a large super computer to run; by 2014 that design was reduced in size to half a PC motherboard. 

How hard will it be for a hostile entity to inject an AI device into a sovereign nation’s government or civilian computer network to undermine every computer-driven system, ranging from nuclear destruction, damage to financial organization, health programs, information theft, ad infinitum.
Or more than likely would the AI program go rogue on its own as it evolves its own sense of ethics or lack of them. What was science fiction a decade ago is exemplified by an article authored by UC Berkeley exploring the problem of robotic morals

Just as the ethical concerns voiced by Albert Einstein and even Robert Oppenheimer were pushed aside in the name of national defense, there is no doubt that the perceived values/ethics/morals of scientists will more than likely be swept aside by the alpha-male-driven military industrial computer complex already sweeping the planet. Maybe it’s time to do more than make another Matrix movie, and to start preparing a serious call for some kind of limitation on just how far this culture is prepared to go.  Rapidly expanding disruptive technologies are resulting in such unfortunate consequences as trapping 40% of Americans in independent contractor jobs by 2020.

Given the fact that nuclear weapons opposition hasn’t been able to stop nuclear’s continued evolution in over 50 years, there would seem to be a pressing need to look at where this next wave of disruptive technologies is taking us.

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”).