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


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.

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”).

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