"Patriotism is the willingness to kill and be killed for trivial reasons." Bertrand Russell

Wednesday, June 29, 2005

Our Suicide Bombers

The moral highground is a self affirming place. It allows us to justify almost anything, in many cases, simply using our own prejudices to shape the truth into a useful lie.

Cases of people sacrificing their lives for the 'greater good' litter our history books, from Japanese kamikaze bombers "conducting a military technique", to the Vietcong supporters who blew themselves up in order to kill American soldiers, to suicide bombing as we refer to it today, exemplified in Lebanon in 1983 when truck bombings killed 241 US marines and 58 French paratroopers.

This term of warfare has become almost as common in the half hour of corporate propaganda we call news as the traditional method of dropping thousand pound bombs from planes half a mile above the ground. And every additional case lends a hand to reinforce our conscience belief that we are superior, we are the moral right, everything else is corrupt. One form of killing is generally accepted, the other is not. Unfortunately it leaves us with a moral dilemma, we oppose suicide bombing not because it is a gross act, but because it either directly or indirectly targets civilians, therefore how do we defend our own method of killing, which results directly or indirectly in the deaths of many civilians. We need a clinical term, something military sounding, something that implies accident, something that shirks all responsibility, 'collateral damage'. War is hell. Morally superior.

Suicide bombing is an intimate act of violence, the perpetrator attempts to get as close to his target as possible, a primitive form of killing where 'collateral damage' is personnel. The taking of life in this manner, whether it is for a 'cause' or not, forces us not to understand the depths people fall when options run out, but to reinforce our dehumanisation of them. It is simpler for us to brand them as pyschopaths than to envisage a reason for killing via suicide.

Research conducted by Paul Marsden and Sharon Attia in the March 2005 edition of the Psychologist shows that "most suicide bombers are psychologically normal and the phenomenon is most readily explained as a community response set in a background of violence, aggression and revenge."

The most shocking thing about suicide bombing is not the actual act, gruesome as it is, but the fact that those who commit these terrible acts are, as much as we don't care to admit, human.

The same research shows that "there is no evidence to suggest that suicide bombers suffer from personality disorders or psychiatric conditions. They point out that many groups employing the tactic of suicide bombing, including those in the Middle East, are secular. and that most of the suicide bombings since 1980 have been carried out by the Sri Lankan Tamil Tigers, from a predominantly Hindu culture, deflating the notion that Islamic belief is the root cause of suicide bombing."

Many argue that suicide bombing in it's present state, most notable due to its media profile, as we see it in the occupied territories and Iraq is simply due to the perpetrators depravity. However, experiments have demonstrated that violence breeds violence and some researchers say that the cause of suicide bombing lies largely in "the pathological contexts and groups within which it takes place." The culture of violence "may conceive of suicide bombings as a rational and appropriate response to perceived gross persecution at the hands of a hated enemy."

"Of course, understanding the reasons why terror groups employ suicide missions is not in any way to condone these actions, and in particular when civilians are the targets. Amnesty International examined Palestinian arguments for killing Israeli civilians in 2002 - basically that this is the only way to make an impression on a powerful enemy - and found them unacceptable. The report found that the deliberate killing of civilians was a crime against humanity. The report further declared that certain Israeli violations of human rights also met the definition of crimes against humanity."

The fact remains in a culture maintained with violence "suicide bombing is seen as a flexible, adaptable, low-cost strategy of warfare that is highly cost-effective and of proven value in furthering political aims." We can either atempt to understand and prevent them or we can choose to continue the same cycle of destroying people and then assuming horror when they return to us'inhuman'.

The memories of World War 2 we are reminded of by the dominant media allows few mentions of the willfull loss of ethics in the aftermath of the war, the millions of german women raped, the men murdered. We have come to accept this as an understandable reaction to Nazi aggression. We don't condone it, we just see it as human nature pushed to the brink, that is why it is not remembered in public. Our own humanity cannot be questioned.

The problem is not that we can't understand what pushes someone to become a suicide bomber, it is that we have not been in a situation that supplies the requisite helplessness, the sufficient knowledge that the rest of the world knows your struggle, but chooses to ignore it. We have never been put in a situation that we have no means to defend ourselves. We have never been out numbered, out funded and out gunned.

To make sure we never find ourselves in that situation, we have created the greatest military force in history, a weapon that can see all and then destroy it. However even within our advanced military organisations, with their astronomical level of funding and research, there exists a concerted effort by those in charge to kill their employees.

During the first gulf war up to 1 million americans took part in a conflict that provided a testing ground for weapons that made killing easier and according to military analysts and amazed journalists, more accurate. Therefore we could, in theory, reduce that friendly buzz word, 'collateral damage', our accepted form of killing.

Up to 45,000, about 6 percent of Gulf War veterans have reported an ailment they believe is linked to their service. The Pentagon, on the other hand, found that 85 percent had ailments or diseases with known causes they believed not to be linked to the Gulf War.

"Soldiers now fighting in Iraq are being exposed to battlefield hazards that have been associated with the Gulf War Syndrome that afflicts a quarter-million veterans of the 1991 war, said a former Central Command Army officer in Operation Desert Storm."

Gulf war syndrome is thought to be due to, among other things, "vaccines intended as protection against nerve and biological warfare agents" and "the use of Depleted Uranium weapons."

The use of Depleted Uranium weapons was first practiced in Bosnia, its armour piercing abilities made it an efficient weapon, the consequences of its use were presumably inconsequential.

A 1990 Army report noted that depleted uranium is "linked to cancer when exposures are internal, [and] chemical toxicity causing kidney damage." However, Pentagon spokesman Michael Kilpatrick said "the overwhelming conclusion" from studies of those who work with uranium "show it has not produced any increase in cancers." Independent studies on the other hand provide sufficient reason to harbour doubts as to whether the official line coincides with the truth, "Damage of immune system in exposed population could be a major mortality factor in Afghanistan...reduced immunity would have greatly reduced chances of surviving common diseases. "The UMRC field team was shocked by the breadth of public health impacts coincident with the bombing. Without exception, at every bombsite investigated, people are ill. A significant portion of the civilian population presents symptoms consistent with internal contamination by Uranium."

The acute symptoms above have been reported by Gulf War veterans, including post-conflict military personnel exposed to targets contaminated by DU. The slower onset illness and disorders have been reported by Gulf veterans, and doctors and health researchers who have worked with civilians exposed to DU in Iraq. Leukemia, cancers and birth deformities are on an increase among international soldiers and policemen who served in Bosnia, and among local population exposed to DU ammunition. The rates of all cancers in Sarajevo between 1995 and 2000 increased from 46 to 264 per 100,000 according to a Sarajevo registry report of January

"The controversy over the reported dangers of depleted uranium (DU) has intensified, with a Canadian study said to show "unequivocal" evidence of damage to health. Research by Dr Hari Sharma, of the University of Waterloo in Ontario, appeared to show traces of DU in the urine of 14 out of 30 British veterans he tested."

Although disputed, his work appears to supported by research conducted at the Memorial University of Newfoundland by Dr Sharma. "The researcher, a geochemist, Patricia Horan, used a mass spectrometer to analyse the urine of veterans. This technique is said to achieve results between 50,000 and 500,000 times more accurate than Dr Sharma's."

When the army denies any ill health effects of a radioactive substance that their employees are forced to use, when the proper equipment for safe exposure is not provided. The employer is risking the employees life, or assiting his suicide.

As many of the scientific investigations into DU are just beginning, thousands of veterans are lying in hospital beds waiting to die, their bodies broken and their souls destroyed. As 'their' suicide bombers die in the immediate, our suicide bombers die slowly and away from public view, quietly losing their life and taking that of those that care for them.

While Churchhill's 'incalcitrant tribes' kill themselves in public, our suicide bombers have the decency to die quietly in the privacy of their own homes away from intruding cameras and 'the news'. Invisible to us, just the way we like them.

1. http://www.ireland.com/newspaper/
2. http://wgordon.web.wesleyan.edu/kamikaze/
3. http://www.biofact.com/gulf/
4. http://www.tompaine.com/feature.cfm/ID/7570
5. http://www.who.int/mediacentre/factsheets/fs257/en/
6. Sunday, April 4, 2004 by the New York Daily News
7. Uranium Weapons Cover-ups - a Crime against Humankind
Paper prepared in January 2003, for a monograph Politics and Environmental Policy in the 21st Century, Faculty of Political Sciences, University of Belgrade
8. New Scientist 2003
9. http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/sci/tech/431817.stm


Monday, June 27, 2005

Why would you trust them?

Big Media Interlocks with Corporate America
by Peter Phillips

Mainstream media is the term often used to describe the collective group of big TV, radio and newspapers in the United States. Mainstream implies that the news being produced is for the benefit and enlightenment of the mainstream population-the majority of people living in the US. Mainstream media include a number of communication mediums that carry almost all the news and information on world affairs that most Americans receive. The word media is plural, implying a diversity of news sources.

However, mainstream media no longer produce news for the mainstream population-nor should we consider the media as plural. Instead it is more accurate to speak of big media in the US today as the corporate media and to use the term in the singular tense-as it refers to the singular monolithic top-down power structure of self-interested news giants.




Adbusters busted?

Adbusters has come under fire for it's exploration into marketing, in 'Blackspot', their 'anti-logo' they have found a product that can easily and quite covertly be advertised as an anti-product, what Bill Hicks called "that anti-marketing dollar. That's a good market." It's quite fair to say they may be a problem with this. And the Big idea forum has been awash with criticism, that has gone without response from the adbusters editors.

The delusion of change

Has adbusters become what it was created to destroy?

Whether you agree or not with the sentiment that is very evident in the topics being discussed, there is a very important point that I assume everyone can agree on. There is a place for 'adbusters busters', it is your duty as someone that reads adbusters to criticise it, if that criticism is valid.

Some people have expressed their frustration with adbusters and their lack of communication on this issue. Someone mentioned they have sent several letters to the editors without any reply. This is unacceptable, the points being levelled were worthy of consideration and the editors have a duty to their readers, for if they truely believe in 'blackspot', you as an adbusters reader are essentially a shareholder in adbusters. If the likely reply is, a lack of time for communicaton with 'every' writer or that the criticism is unfounded as is unworthy of a reply. Then adbusters has fallen further than I expected.

One poster pointed out that adbusters is printed by Québécor, a relative media juggernaut. This seems a very real prolem. "Because much modern suffering is rooted in the unlimited greed of corporate profit-maximising - in the subordination of people and planet to profit - it seems to us to be a genuine tragedy that society has for so long been forced to rely on the corporate media for 'accurate' information. It seems clear to us that quite obvious conflicts of interest mean it is all but impossible for the media to provide this information." (see "correcting for distorted media" post)

If adbusters will not respond to their readers, then why not boycott the magazine?

Write to the editors and if they ignore your complaint/question/criticism, then find another media/medium to voice your concerns, there are plenty of websites/magazines/papers that will allow your views to be aired. If all else fails, stop buying it, hit them where it hurts.

If in adbusters, it is possible to bring accountability to a publication whose vested interests are questionable, then that is constructive, simply disrgarding adbusters wastes a real opportunity to understand how activism may have turned to opportunism.

Adbusters Media Forum


Friday, June 24, 2005

Never trust a leftie

Dear Ms. Phillips,

If it is true that "America's mission [is] to spread democracy" under Bush's foreign policy of "liberal intervention" then how do you explain the present US administration's support for the Uzbekistan leadership?

A government that orders the murder of hundreds of demonstrators and uses torture techniques including "the use of boiling water and electric shocks on genitals, as well as plucking off fingernails and toenails with pliers." Surely this is an alliance that does not coincide with the spreading of democracy.

The US has not been shy in making this friendship public either, Uzbekistan is "a strong supporter of US military actions in Afghanistan and Iraq and of the global war against terror" and the US "in turn, values Uzbekistan as a stable, moderate force in a turbulent region". Explaining why the US has given Uzbekistan more than $500 million for border control and other security measures.

While the US/UK administration has a long and rich history of siding with dictators, despots and criminals, their new venture in Iraq is quickly being exposed for the lie it is.

While those that have been the "reactionary supporters of murderous and tyrannical 'stability'" for many years now, those involved in the sale of Iraqi oil through Turkey, those that sold the crazed Saddam the weapons that enabled him to murder thousands of 'his' people, all escape your tempestuous pen. It is left to the 'left', an entity that has eluded any real definition, to take the blame.

Could your arguments be better directed towards something existent?

Yours sincerely,

1. http://www.ireland.com/newspaper/world/
2. http://www.melaniephillips.com/diary/


Liberal apologist and other common things

"At the outset of his article, Lelyveld asks us to “put aside the most horrific, shameful cases, those of detainees who died under interrogation,” citing the examples of Manadel al-Jamadi and Abed Hamed Mowhoush, two Iraqis tortured to death by American troops. “No one steps forward to condone what’s plainly illegal under United States and international law,” he asserts....

The term “torture lite” is, in fact, an oxymoron. One cannot speak of “torture lite” any more than one can speak of “genocide lite.” Those who are subjected to these “lite” methods would no doubt beg to differ with Lelyveld’s sophistries, and one can be certain that if Lelyveld himself were in their position, he would not be inclined to make such fine distinctions. Such terminology in and of itself exposes Lelyveld’s basic contempt for democratic principles.

Lelyveld attempts to deal with his critics in the following passage: “Commentators and editorial writers who deplore torture use the ‘slippery slope’ argument to avoid facing the issue of lesser forms of coercion. Any breach in the norms of due process, they contend, is sure to be taken as a license for the grossest abuse. That argument may be true, even profoundly true, but it’s also something of a dodge, for it leaves unanswered the question of whether coercive interrogation ‘works.’”

Full Article: Global Echo

"Because people like Edelman don’t want citizens of the United States to know that events like the massacre of Fallujah or the atrocities in Abu Ghraib are not isolated incidents.

People like Edelman don’t want people to know what one of my sources in Baquba just told me today.

His email reads:

“Near the city of Buhrez, 5 kilometers south of Baquba, two Humvess of American soldiers were destroyed recently. American and Iraqi soldiers came to the city afterwards and cut all the phones, cut the water, cut medicine from arriving in the city and told them that until the people of the city bring the “terrorists” to them, the embargo will continue.”

The embargo has been in place now for one week now, and he continued:

“The Americans still won’t anyone or any medicines and supplies into Buhrez, nor will they allow any people in or out. Even the Al-Sadr followers who organized some help for the people in the city (water, food, medicine) are not being allowed into the city. Even journalists cannot enter to publish the news, and the situation there is so bad. The Americans keep asking for the people in the city to bring them the persons who were in charge of destroying the two Humvees on the other side of the city, but of course the people in the city don’t know who carried out the attack.”

People like Edelman don’t want people to know about the recent US attacks in Al-Qa’im and Haditha either. Attacks that Iraqis are describing as just as bad as the massacre of Fallujah."

Full Article: dahrjamail


Thursday, June 23, 2005

Capitalism at it's finest

and the imaginary 'Free Market'.

"The granting of loans and the allocation of aid by the World Bank and IMF (whose policies are formulated by the G8 governments) are invariably conditional on the recipient country "restructuring" its economy to provide the G8 countries' corporations with unrestricted access to its markets, resources and services." (1)

Cigarette companies are actively trying to kill their customers.

"Brown & Williamson Tobacco Company, in the late 1980s, thought they had a great idea. They teamed up with DNA Products, which is based in Oakland, California, to come up with a new product. The problem Brown & Williamson and the other tobacco companies were facing is that they were killing too many of their customers. 420,000 people a year were dying of lung cancer, instead of continuing to buy more cigarettes. The other problem they were having is the people were actually quitting smoking cigarettes. That's real bad for business. So they had a great idea: Let's genetically engineer tobacco so that it has seven times the level of nicotine contained in traditional tobacco, and let's smuggle this tobacco back into the United States from where we'll grow it in Brazil. And then let's surreptitiously put it, not into our high tar cigarettes, let's put it into the low tar cigarettes, so that the people trying to quit smoking won't be able to quit."


"A cigarette is a euphemism for a cleverly crafted product that delivers just the right amount of nicotine to keep its user addicted for life before killing the person." World Health Organization director-general Gro Harlem Brundtland

Recent polls indicate that, despite all accumulated knowledge on the subject of diseases caused by tobacco products, a shockingly high percentage of smokers continue to believe that their cigarettes will not cause them harm.

"The industry continues to aggressively pursue its agenda both with potential customers and with policymakers. The major cigarette companies increased their marketing and promotional expenditures to a record $11.22 billion – $30.7 million a day – in 2001, according to the annual Federal Trade Commission report on cigarette marketing and sales. This is an increase of 17 percent from the $9.59 billion spent in 2000 and a 66.6 percent increase in the first three years after the tobacco companies agreed to curtail some aspects of their marketing as part of the MSA. Only three states spend more than that in a year on prevention programs.

Industry advertising has shifted from print and outdoor advertising to retail outlets. The effectiveness of this strategy is palpable: about 65 percent of youth and 25 percent to 27 percent of adults report having seen tobacco ads within the past two weeks. Youth who have seen Philip Morris' “Think. Don't Smoke” campaign are actually more open to smoking than those who did not."


"Cigarettes and tobacco have become a leading cause of illness and death in developing countries, outpacing AIDS and placing a heavy burden on health systems.

More than 2.5 million people die in developing countries each year from illnesses related to tobacco consumption, roughly the same level as in developed countries, said Joy de Beyer, a World Bank economist.

This level of deaths is likely to rise to 7 million people a year within two decades, while tobacco-related deaths and illnesses will likely remain steady or decline in more developed societies, she said.

Among many other health-related causes of death in poorer countries "only in AIDS and tobacco are death rates rising", she told reporters in San Francisco at the launch of a new study on combating smoking in developing countries."


1. http://www.ireland.com/newspaper/opinion


Tuesday, June 21, 2005

Monbiot on Bono, Lennon and McCartney

"An aura of sanctity is descending upon the world's most powerful men. On Saturday the finance ministers from seven of the G8 nations (Russia was not invited) promised to cancel the debts the poorest countries owe to the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund. The hand that holds the sword has been stayed by angels: angels with guitars rather than harps.

Who, apart from the leader writers of the Daily Telegraph, could deny that debt relief is a good thing? Never mind that much of this debt - money lent by the World Bank and IMF to corrupt dictators - should never have been pursued in the first place. Never mind that, in terms of looted resources, stolen labor and now the damage caused by climate change, the rich owe the poor far more than the poor owe the rich. Some of the poorest countries have been paying more for debt than for health or education. Whatever the origins of the problem, that is obscene.

You are waiting for me to say but, and I will not disappoint you. The but comes in paragraph 2 of the finance ministers' statement. To qualify for debt relief, developing countries must "tackle corruption, boost private-sector development" and eliminate "impediments to private investment, both domestic and foreign".

These are called conditionalities. Conditionalities are the policies governments must follow before they receive aid and loans and debt relief. At first sight they look like a good idea. Corruption cripples poor nations, especially in Africa. The money which could have given everyone a reasonable standard of living has instead made a handful unbelievably rich. The powerful nations are justified in seeking to discourage it." (1)

"The real danger at the G8 summit is not that the protests will turn violent - the appetite for that pretty well disappeared in September 2001 - but that they will be far too polite.

Let me be more precise. The danger is that we will follow the agenda set by Bono and Bob Geldof.

The two musicians are genuinely committed to the cause of poverty reduction. They have helped secure aid and debt-relief packages worth billions of dollars. They have helped to keep the issue of global poverty on the political agenda. They have mobilised people all over the world. These are astonishing achievements, and it would be stupid to disregard them.

The problem is that they have assumed the role of arbiters: of determining on our behalf whether the leaders of the G8 nations should be congratulated or condemned for the decisions they make. They are not qualified to do so, and I fear that they will sell us down the river.

Take their response to the debt-relief package for the world's poorest countries that the G7 finance ministers announced 10 days ago. Anyone with a grasp of development politics who had read and understood the ministers' statement could see that the conditions it contains - enforced liberalisation and privatisation - are as onerous as the debts it relieves. But Bob Geldof praised it as "a victory for the millions of people in the campaigns around the world" and Bono pronounced it "a little piece of history". Like many of those who have been trying to highlight the harm done by such conditions - especially the African campaigners I know - I feel betrayed by these statements. Bono and Geldof have made our job more difficult." (2)

"The idea, swallowed by most commentators, that the conditions our governments impose help to prevent corruption is laughable. To qualify for World Bank funding, our model client Uganda was forced to privatize most of its state-owned companies before it had any means of regulating their sale. A sell-off that should have raised $500m for the Ugandan exchequer instead raised $2m. The rest was nicked by government officials. Unchastened, the World Bank insisted that - to qualify for the debt-relief program the G8 has now extended - the Ugandan government sell off its water supplies, agricultural services and commercial bank, again with minimal regulation.

And here we meet the real problem with the G8's conditionalities. They do not stop at pretending to prevent corruption, but intrude into every aspect of sovereign government. When the finance ministers say "good governance" and "eliminating impediments to private investment", what they mean is commercialization, privatization and the liberalization of trade and capital flows. And what this means is new opportunities for western money."

"Geldof and Bono's campaign for philanthropy portrays the enemies of the poor as their saviours. The good these two remarkable men have done is in danger of being outweighed by the harm."

1. http://www.guardian.co.uk/print/
2. http://www.guardian.co.uk/hearafrica05


Monday, June 20, 2005

If I didn't see it, it didn't happen

In May the Media Lens Editors wrote to BBC Editor Helen Boaden asking for her to address the issue of brutal force and atrocities against Iraqi civilians by US forces, citing a number of sources detailing the use of Napalm, a banned weapon under the UN charter.

"We napalmed both those bridge approaches," said Colonel James Alles, commander of Marine Air Group 11."

"Unfortunately there were people there... you could see them in the cockpit video. They were Iraqi soldiers. It's no great way to die. The generals love napalm. It has a big psychological effect." (Buncombe, 'US admits it used napalm bombs in Iraq,' Independent on Sunday, August 10, 2003)

Allegations about the use of weapons that have "melted" people have appeared in the US press. For example, the Washington Post reported that: "Some artillery guns fired white phosphorous rounds that create a screen of fire that cannot be extinguished with water. Insurgents reported being attacked with a substance that melted their skin." (Jackie Spinner, Karl Vick and Omar Fekeiki, 'U.S. Forces Battle Into Heart of Fallujah,' Washington Post, November 10, 2004) (1)

Her reply was simply that "Our correspondent in Falluja at the time, Paul Wood, did not report any of these things because he did not see any of these things" and "Far from covering up American use of banned weapons in Iraq, you can be certain that if we had proof of this, it would be leading every bulletin."

In another reply to a Media Lens reader (Ekky Iron) regarding the use of banned weapons, Mrs. Boaden stated "Our job is to report - as fully and fairly as we can, the situation in Iraq. It's not our job to take sides but to reflect as full a range of views as possible." (2)

In today's Telegraph Andrew Sparrow writes "Ministers misled MPs about the use of a napalm-style firebomb in Iraq, John Reid admitted yesterday. The Defence Secretary blamed American officials for the fact that Parliament was told that the incendiary bombs, designated MK77, were not used in the invasion.

In fact US forces used 30 of the firebombs, which spread a type of burning fuel gel, against military targets between March 31 and April 2 of 2003."

"Claiming it was a "cock-up" rather than a conspiracy, he also sought to play down the significance of the Americans using MK77s.

"First of all, they didn't use napalm. They used a firebomb. It doesn't stick to your skin like napalm, it doesn't have the horrible effects of that," Mr Reid told ITV's Jonathan Dimbleby programme.

"Secondly, we have never used anything that even approximates to what they were using."" (3)

The Age reports "Australian Democrats leader Lyn Allison told the Senate the US had used 30 MK77 napalm firebombs in its attack on Iraq. She claimed that the bombs breached a 1980 international convention on such artillery. According to the American Federation of Scientists (AFS), the bombs in question are still in use and do not breach the convention. Senator Hill said he was confident that the US had complied with its international obligations.

"In fact I am confident that it would exceed its obligations under the international conventions," he said.

"Because its basic values are ones of humanitarian response and a requirement to achieve the military objectives in the best possible way."" (4)

Last week The Independent reported "The MK77 bombs, an evolution of the napalm used in Vietnam and Korea, carry kerosene-based jet fuel and polystyrene so that, like napalm, the gel sticks to structures and to its victims. The bombs lack stabilising fins, making them far from precise." (5)

The testimony of officials does not constitute 'proof' for the BBC, plainly showing the 'liberal' media's subservience to power. One will not report the use illegal weapons by coalition forces. However, one will accept the fact those 'we' oppose would use them, without a shred of evidence.

"People blithely imagine that journalists are where the news is. Alas, not so; the news is where journalists are." (Martin Bell "In Harms Way")

Will The Irish Times be reporting the use of these "weapons of mass destruction"?

Yours sincerely...

1. http://www.medialens.org/alerts/05
2. http://members5.boardhost.com/
3. http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news
4. http://www.theage.com.au/news
5. http://news.independent.co.uk/uk
6. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Napalm


Thursday, June 16, 2005

Lying? It's not even mis-leading

Whenever those in government mis-represent the facts. It is'nt lying, they have simply been let down by their sources. Be it intelligence agencies, or any other unaccountable institution that will survive even the worst failures. The dominant media is, as always, loyally on hand to back up this format.

"You Can't Just Say the President Is Lying"
The limits of honesty in the mainstream press

Extra! Jan/Feb 05

Audience Member: I was wondering if you felt there was a difference between balanced reporting and objective reporting? And the thing that kind of sticks in my mind frequently is when President Bush on the stump would frequently pull out the "global test" that John Kerry mentioned in the debate, but he would completely twist the meaning of the whole phrase around. . . . Essentially, what I feel like was a lie that the president just stated . . . was never objectively reported on. . . .

Elizabeth Bumiller (New York Times): Yeah, this was an issue we dealt with at the paper because, you know, very early on it became clear that both George Bush and John Kerry were distorting, making exaggerated and distorted statements about each other’s records. And it was very frustrating for a reporter out on the campaign, when you’ve got an hour to file and you’re in three states in one day, and you know, George Bush says this—you then get a call from the Kerry campaign, the Kerry campaign people responding, but they’re not actually addressing the charge that George Bush has made. They’re just launching a countercharge, which is also probably distorted. So it’s very difficult to actually sort it out when you’ve got an hour to file and you’re on a plane.

So what we did—and it was one of the most successful things I think we did in this campaign—we got a fact-check column going by David Rosenbaum, my colleague. And he would write, you know, whenever, periodically, but sometimes, he would just, we would just insert what he wrote into my story or anybody’s story, you know, “In fact, comma, George Bush, Mr. Bush was slightly distorting, you know, the senator’s comments. What he said was this and blah, blah, blah.”. . .

Susan Page (USA Today): One of the real challenges, I think, in daily journalism, is it’s easy to have the appearance of balance; you know, “Bush charged that Kerry was a serial murderer, Kerry denied it.” So there both sides have had their say, so it’s balanced, and it’s harder to really do a substantive analysis of charge and counter-charge, especially if it turns out that one side is right and the other is wrong.

Bumiller: That’s why it’s very hard to write those, because you can’t say George Bush is wrong here. There’s no way you can say that in the New York Times. So we contort ourselves up and say, “Actually”— I actually once wrote this sentence: “Mr. Bush’s statement did not exactly . . . ” It was some completely upside down statement that was basically saying he wasn’t telling the truth. And I got an email from somebody saying, “What’s wrong with you guys? Why can’t you just say it plainly?” But there’s just—

Loren Ghiglione (Medill School of Journalism, Moderator): Why can’t you say it plainly?

Bumiller: You can’t just say the president is lying. You don’t just say that in the . . . you just say—

Ghiglione: Well, why can’t you?

[laughter from the audience]

continued: FAIR


Tuesday, June 14, 2005

Nearly never won the race

Dear Madam,

Although John O'Shea was correct in saying that "since its foundation, the UN has been powerless to prevent the deaths of millions of innocent people who perished in what he calls "state-sponsored murder"" he is obviously not given enough space to express this opinion, other than to say "millions of women and children are pleading for protection in northern Uganda, the Democratic Republic of Congo, and Darfur."

This however is wholly inadequate and doesn't reach the root of why the UN doesn't function as it should. The obviousness of this answer cannot be expressed enough, the UN does not work, because those who wield it's power do not want it to.

Mr. O'Shea is also correct in saying "State-sponsored murder remains the greatest tragedy being enacted on our planet today. And sadly the world does not have an entity capable of preventing it," and it is commendable that the times has allowed this to be made public, albeit on the letters page. This reality should be evident in all relevant Times reports, unfortunately it is absent on many an occasion. The deficiencies of David Adams article evidences not just the inadequacies of the UN, but that of the mainstream press in reporting them.

If you can spare the time, I would appreciate a reply.

Yours sincerely,

N.B. "And sadly the world does not have an entity capable of preventing it"

Needless to say there is an entity capable of preventing 'it', 'the people' have shown their ability to control power throughout history, it simply requires people to realise their own power.


Madam, - David Adams's superbly crafted column, "Woeful record of the UN" (Opinion, June 10th) should be compulsive reading for all who still believe the United Nations has a meaningful role to play in world affairs.

Mr Adams quite rightly points out that, since its foundation, the UN has been powerless to prevent the deaths of millions of innocent people who perished in what he calls "state-sponsored murder".

Today millions of women and children are pleading for protection in northern Uganda, the Democratic Republic of Congo, and Darfur, but the UN, as so often in the past, is more concerned about the sovereignty of national borders than with the sovereignty of the human being.

State-sponsored murder remains the greatest tragedy being enacted on our planet today. And sadly the world does not have an entity capable of preventing it. - Yours, etc,

JOHN O'SHEA, GOAL, Dun Laoghaire, Co Dublin.

Letters: The Irish Times


Myers shaping the 'facts' around the story

What constitutes ‘without notice’? Kevin Myer’s assertion that the execution of four men in Gaza by the Palestinian Authority has gone unnoticed is not factually correct. The first judicial executions in over three years represents another loss of basic human rights for the Palestinian people, suppression under their own authorities is not new, but in no way comparable to that under Israeli occupation.

Among the news outlets to run the story are The New York Times, CNN, NBC, The Guardian, BBC, The Washington Times, Los Angeles Times, ABC and The Irish Examiner. Perhaps the lack of notice Mr. Myers is referring to is the result of an over familiarity with Palestinians dying.

To attest to the ‘fact’ that atrocities conducted by Israelis are given wider coverage in the dominant news than those by Palestinians is to disregard reality. How would this explain the fact that to be born Palestinian is to be born to a life sentence in prison?

An Irishman's Diary
Kevin Myers

Possibly you missed the news that Mahmoud Abbas, the president of the Palestinian Authority, last weekend authorised the execution of four men in Gaza - three by hanging, the fourth by firing squad. Indeed, this newspaper was virtually alone in reporting it.

But imagine the publicity such judicial murder would have garnered had the executioners been Jewish and the legal authority responsible for them the state of Israel.

Of course, this is hypothesis: the only man lawfully executed in Israel was Adolf Eichmann; otherwise the state of Israel does not indulge in judicial executions.

continued... The Irish Times


Monday, June 13, 2005

For all you...

Chomsky worshiping, 'French' fry eating, surrender monkey feeding, terrorist appeasing, dictator supporting, America hating, migrant welcoming, un-patriotic anti-capitalists... Enjoy.

Hijacking Catastrophe

9/11, Fear, and the Selling of American Empire.

Hijacking Catastrophe is powerful, understated, straightforward and educational. In a single meticulously organized hour of evidence and analysis, viewers are treated to a thoughtful explanation of modern American empire, neo-conservatism as a driving force for the current Bush administration.


The Power of Nightmares

In the past, politicians promised to create a better world. They had different ways of achieving this. But their power and authority came from the optimistic visions they offered to their people. Those dreams failed. And today, people have lost faith in ideologies. Increasingly, politicians are seen simply as managers of public life. But now, they have discovered a new role that restores their power and authority. Instead of delivering dreams, politicians now promise to protect us from nightmares. They say that they will rescue us from dreadful dangers that we cannot see and do not understand. And the greatest danger of all is international terrorism. A powerful and sinister network, with sleeper cells in countries across the world. A threat that needs to be fought by a war on terror. But much of this threat is a fantasy, which has been exaggerated and distorted by politicians. It’s a dark illusion that has spread unquestioned through governments around the world, the security services, and the international media.

VO: This is a series of films about how and why that fantasy was created, and who it benefits. At the heart of the story are two groups: the American neoconservatives, and the radical Islamists. Both were idealists who were born out of the failure of the liberal dream to build a better world. And both had a very similar explanation for what caused that failure. These two groups have changed the world, but not in the way that either intended. Together, they created today’s nightmare vision of a secret, organized evil that threatens the world. A fantasy that politicians then found restored their power and authority in a disillusioned age. And those with the darkest fears became the most powerful.

Full Transcript: http://www.daanspeak.com/


Privatisation unwelcome

Iraqi Oil Workers Fight Privatization and Occupation

Public sector unions in Iraq were outlawed by Saddam Hussein in 1987. Now, the Iraqi labor movement is protesting plans by U.S. occupation authorities to privatize state owned industries. We speak with the president of the General Union of Oil Workers.

Though we don't often hear about the labor movement in Iraq, the country has a long history of union activism that dates back to the 1920’s when the British first began exporting oil from the country. Saddam Hussein banned unions for public workers in 1987 because he feared a progressive movement would topple his dictatorship. When the U.S occupation of Iraq began, the U.S authorities refused to repeal that law. Instead in September of 2003, Paul Bremer, the top U.S. official overseeing the Iraqi occupation, issued an order to privatize the country’s state owned industries, which include its oil industry.

But the Iraqi people are speaking out against privatization. At the end of May, a large conference was held in Basra that focused on the threat of privatization of Iraq’s oil fields. Oil workers voiced their opposition to privatization and to selling their oil to foreign companies at discounted prices. They also called for an end to the occupation and a withdrawal of foreign troops.

Hassan Juma'a Awad al-Asade, president of the General Union of Oil Workers in Iraq. He is touring the U.S. along with five other trade unionists from Iraq. He joins us in our studio in D.C. Mohamed Taam is translating.
David Bacon, a veteran labor journalist who recently returned from Basra. He has an op-ed piece about Iraqi unions in yesterday’s San Francisco Chronicle.

Full Interview with Hassan Juma’a Awad Al-Asade: Democracy Now!


Sunday, June 12, 2005

A lesson in not taking it anymore

The 'poor' will not accept being suppressed forever.

'I'm a HUMAN BEING, Goddamnit! My life has VALUE!' So I want you to get up now. I want all of you to get up out of your chairs. I want you to get up right now and go to the window. Open it, and stick your head out, and yell, 'I'M AS MAD AS HELL, AND I'M NOT GOING TO TAKE THIS ANYMORE!'

"For four weeks, indigenous activists, miners, laborers, students and farmers have staged almost daily demonstrations, shutting down much of the country, and cutting off all routes into the Bolivian capital of La Paz. Miners set off dynamite blasts in the city´s center, as the armed forces used tear gas to keep protesters away from the Government Palace. On Thursday, the police announced that 138 roadblocks had been erected around the country, and the first life was taken, that of 52 year-old mine cooperative leader Carlos Coro Mayta.

Numbering more than 100,000 people in La Paz alone, the demonstrators have been demanding that natural resources be returned to public ownership and that a new constitution be drafted through a process of national dialogue.

"We want our oil and gas nationalized, so that our children can have them one day," demanded Japth Mamani Yanolico, a young indigenous leader from the Omasuyos Province near Lake Titicaca at a mass rally on Tuesday. "And we want a Constituent Assembly."

Many of the protestors come from the high mountain plain known as the Altiplano, while a large number live in El Alto, a radicalized shanty town of 500,000 that sits above La Paz. Accusing the nation's leaders of selling out the country's oil and gas wealth to international corporations, demonstrators also point their fingers at the International Monetary Fund, which has pressured Bolivia since 1985 to adopt economic reforms that have disadvantaged the nation's poor.


"This is a political crisis, because right now the government doesn´t represent the interests of the citizens," said Llorenti, "...an economic crisis because the policies of structural adjustment and the processes of privatization have not resolved the situation of poverty, discrimination and social exclusion for Bolivians, and a social crisis because Bolivians now are in a much more vulnerable state in social terms than they were ten years ago."

The economic instability borne of free market reforms has spurred frequent demonstrations over water and gas privatization and social exclusion of the indigenous majority. In 2003, unrest culminated in a bloodbath in which as many as 80 demonstrators were killed, leading to President Mesa’s predecessor Gonzalo Sanchez de Lozada’s untimely departure from office. However, in the current crisis, the military had shown considerable restraint, until the death of Coro Mayta."



Friday, June 10, 2005

The elephant in the security council

Dear Madam,

I'm confused by David Adams article in todays Irish Times (19/6/05). He affirms the inadequacies of the UN, in all it's veto protectionism glory. But does his piece place universal blame, or simply lay the deficiencies of the UN at the feet of communists, i.e. do we get away scot free?

The list of resolutions vetoed by western governements includes "Opposing the acquisition of territory by force" 1989, "Opposition to nuclear testing" (1987, 2 resolutions), "Safeguards rights of developing countries in multinational trade negotiations" (1979), "Demands that Israel desist from human rights violations" (1979), "Concerns negotiations on disarmament and cessation of the nuclear arms race" (1979) "Calls for compliance in the International Court of Justice concerning military and paramilitary activities against Nicaragua and a call to end the trade embargo against Nicaragua" (1987, 2 resolutions) and "Calls on Israel to withdraw its forces from Lebanon" (1987).

Whatever the evils conducted by unaccountable dictators around the world, if our own glorified bastions of liberty cannot uphold the essence of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and if we continue to allow them not to, what are our grounds for criticism?

Yours etc...

1. http://www.houstonjusticenotwar.org/

Response to:

Woeful record of the UN

When the second World War ended in 1945 and the full, horrifying scale of Nazi depravity became evident, they said it would never be allowed happen again, writes David Adams.

The victorious allies even established the United Nations to try and ensure that it didn't.

It seems perverse in the extreme, now, to think that two of the principal signatories to the UN charter were China and the Soviet Union.

In fact, along with the United Kingdom and the United States, they helped draft the original proposals on which the charter is based.

In hindsight, it was a bit like inviting Dr Harold Shipman to help draw up a code of practice for care of the elderly. At the time, "Uncle Joe" Stalin was well on his way to murdering tens of millions of his fellow citizens. Mao Tse-tung was only four years away from grabbing absolute power in China; allowing him and his cohorts to begin paving the road to their own utopia with millions of Chinese corpses.

continued... The Irish Times


Wednesday, June 08, 2005

THE NEWS, it's not what you think...

The 'news', by that I mean the dominant news, can be more harmful to you than a prejudice reinforcing cliche, an episode of '24'. A world where the bad guys are arabs (replacing the yesterday's criminal black stereotype so often employed in cop films) aided by white people who have been corrupted by these cunning arabs. A world created by centuries of Imperialism and the literature that reinforces it.

"...culture and politics cooperated, knowingly and unknowingly, to produce a system of domination that involved more than cannon and soldiers - a sovereignty that extended over forms, images, and the very imaginations of both the dominators and the dominated. The result was a "consolidated vision" that affirmed not merely the Europeans' right to rule but their obligation, and made alternative arrangements unthinkable." (1)

The main reason why this can be so? The dominant news has created an aura of respectability around itself. One that is in most cases totally unsubstantiated. When Fox news has a 50% share and the BBC is considered the bastion of liberality there is a real misconception that the 'news' is infact the the news.

When George Galloway, the former Labour MP now with the anti-war Respect party was interviewed by Jeremy Paxman on BBC's Newsnight.

Jeremy Paxman: "Mr Galloway, are you proud of having got rid of one of the very few black women in Parliament?"

George Galloway: "What a preposterous question. I know it's very late in the night, but wouldn't you be better starting by congratulating me for one of the most sensational election results in modern history?"

JP: "Are you proud of having got rid of one of the very few black women in Parliament?"

GG: "I'm not [pause]. Jeremy, move on to your next question."

JP: "You're not answering that one?"

GG: "No, because I don't believe that people get elected because of the colour of their skin. I believe people get elected because of their record and because of their policies. So move on to your next question."

A typical interview for a politican that is not toeing the corporate/mainstream line. Impartiality went out the window, this was a direct intimation of racism. A ridiculous one at that. This is what passes for news. One tiny instant, one sentence, in a 24 hour 1000 channel news machine.

Could anyone expect that this same line of questioning would be levelled towards Tony Blair. This sort unabashed ignorance is not limited to reporting politics and politicians. The news remains selective as to who and whom it criticizes in the corporate/economic world, thats why reports of CO2 emissions from planes don't appear beside cheap flight adverts, thats why the increase in lung cancer figures don't feature beside stories about Formula 1 racing (20 million pound cigarette boxes flying round a circuit), and so on and so forth...

The news changes every day, and therefore the importance of stories also fall in and out of favour. Thats why Tony has managed to resurrect his career on the back of 'saving' Africa. The news helps us forget what the truth is.

Mark Borkowski on Public Relations
Does the mighty BP really find proper journalism so threatening?
Mark Borkowski on Public Relations
06 June 2005

One thing that makes huge corporations especially cross is when the media advisers they assume will help protect them from bad publicity fail to exercise proper PR housekeeping and end up landing them in sheep dip.

Step forward the WPP media buying company MindShare, who recently issued a memo to the effect that BP wished to follow Morgan Stanley's lead in expecting newspaper and magazine publishers not to run any editorial about their sector, good or bad, without a) informing them, and b) agreeing to pull any BP ads that might be running. This immediately painted BP as paranoid and run by control freaks instead of a modern, forward-looking corporation.

continued... The Independent

Ambushing Dissent
by David Cromwell and David Edwards

May 11, 2005

"The 'societal purpose' of the media is to inculcate and defend the economic, social and political agenda of privileged groups that dominate the domestic society and the state." (Edward Herman and Noam Chomsky - Manufacturing Consent)

Highly-paid presenters have privileged access to 'respectable' mainstream politicians which they are very keen to maintain. It is vital that such high-level sources not be seriously alienated or offended by pertinent, but potentially damaging, questions.
Overlooking obvious truths about mass violence conducted by western governments, media professionals are expert at cultivating a veneer of dogged commitment to truth.

Even when being questioned sharply, leading politicians are treated respectfully with no insinuation that the interviewee is despicable or malevolent. No such considerations apply, however, when the media confront "rogues" or "mavericks" who represent a challenge to established power and the ideology underpinning its brutality. In these special cases, the doctrinal system requires that threatening figures be dealt with aggressively, typically with ridicule and contempt.

continued... Znet

1. A summary of Edward Said's 'Culture & Imperialism'


Monday, June 06, 2005

One of those friends you're ashamed of...

Well, when they do something stupid, publicly.

The New Great Game
With corporate media still tying itself in knots to justify US foriegn policy, more evidence emerges to support the obvious conclusion that 'its all about oil'.
Antony Wright (6th Jun, 05)

Now that the bloody massacre of hundreds of civilians in Andijan is fast becoming yesterdays 'story', the West will soon be free to continue its blind dance with the brutal dictator Karimov.
There seems no prospect now of a Rose, Orange or any other kind of revolution for the Uzbeks, their lot is to continue to suffer the disappearences, torture and 6000 political & religious prisoners held in hell hole jails.

The only good thing to come from this terrible situation is that I no longer have to read and listen to western journalists earnestly spouting drivel about the Bush vision of bringing democracy to the Middle East and Asia, well for now at least.
However whilst talk of democracy is pretty much off the media agenda for the time being, except perhaps at the ideoligical heart of the Neo-Conservative project who have been embarrassed by this washing of bloody laundery in the full glare of the worlds media, there is no rest for the important corportate media task of obfuscation.

continued: Global Echo


Forgotten 'Revolutions'

Haiti Q & A
by Diego Hausfather
and Nikolas Barry-Shaw

What's happened in Haiti since Feb. 29 2004?

-After the democratically elected government was overthrown, the rebels and the newly formed police have been on a killing spree; thousands of poor peasants and slum dwellers have been massacred in "a pattern of repression" against "those close, or perceived to have been close, to ... Fanmi Lavalas (FL)", the political party that held power prior to Feb. 29, 2004, according to Amnesty International.

-In the month after the coup d'état, the morgue reported 900 additional deaths above the usual level, many of them violent, while the Catholic Church's Peace and Justice Commission estimated that 500 people were killed in the capital of Port-au-Prince. On October 15, 2004, the general hospital had to call the Ministry of Health to send emergency vehicles to remove the more than 600 corpses that had accumulated there over the previous 2 weeks.

-Rape is once again being wielded as a political tool to prevent women from speaking out against the coup d'etat and the subsequent repression.

-Political freedom has been severely restricted since the coup; Journalists critical of the interim government have been killed or threatened by the paramilitaries and radio stations have been shut down.

-Peaceful demonstrations calling for the return of democracy and an end to the repression have frequently been met with police bullets.

-Leading FL politicians, Lavalas activists and poor people perceived to support Lavalas are routinely arrested without a warrant and then packed into the overcrowded jails, where prisoners are abused and denied the right to see a judge. Prisoners also lack access to adequate food, potable water, or healthcare. The Catholic Peace and Justice Commission estimates that there are at least 700 political prisoners in Haiti today.

-Many people have become internal refugees, fleeing to the mountains or to Port-au-Prince, as a result of the campaign of killing, repression, and intimidation.

Full Article: Znet


Friday, June 03, 2005

The Secret Legacy

We often hear those in the dominant media discuss the inhuman nature of suicide bombing. Something that is easy to agree with. However, the militaries silence regarding the dangers of Depleted Uranium condemns countless troops to 'mandatory suicide'.

Dear Editor,

In May 2004 Mr George Dempsey, a retired US official, said 'dishonest' stories circulated by "Irish newspapers and broadcasters had helped to fuel terrorism in the Arab world." The 'venomous falsehoods' the Times were responsible for circulating included the report that depleted uranium shells were causing cancer in Iraq, which he, in his 'scientific authority' described as 'scientific nonsense'. (1)

It is just over a year now since this very public criticism and it is worrying to think his statement was taken to heart. By my, possibly flawed, reckoning there have been only three mentions of depleted uranium since his outburst, and none of them could constitute critical reporting.

This is not to say The Irish Times has ignored the issue completely, articles dating back to 1999 are regularly cited in papers discussing the problem, however, weapons being used today in a middle eastern country, by an occupying military force contain depleted uranium. This fact flies in the face of every 'freedom bringing' self gratifying eulogy the coalition could conjure.

In 2004 an article in the Times epitaph of an Iraqi artist Nuha al-Radi known for her Baghdad Diaries, 'an account of life in Iraq under bombardment and sanctions'. Noted that she died of a rare form of leukaemia "she believed was caused by depleted uranium and other poisons she inhaled during the campaign." (2)

Another article referenced the Radiological Protection Institute of Ireland's effort to raise awareness in the workplace about radioactive radon gas, "which is responsible for between 150 and 200 lung-cancer deaths annually."

The article stated that "Radon, a naturally occurring radioactive gas given off by the depletion of uranium in soil and rocks, is believed to cause between nine per cent and 12 per cent of all lung-cancer deaths around the world." (3)

So it is fair to that The Irish Times is aware of the major health risks associated with the use of depleted uranium. Furthermore in August 1999, the Times published its most comprehensive coverage of DU with an article referencing Robert Fisk's extensive research into the subject:

"In southern Iraq American forces had fired an estimated 14,000 depleted uranium shells (about 300 million tons), while their A-10 aircraft fired "tens of thousands of rounds tipped with depleted uranium, some say 940,000 rounds."

Depleted uranium, he said, "is now routinely used in the manufacture of an armour-piercing projectiles". These are used mainly in the destruction of tanks.

Mr Fisk illustrated visits he had made to a Baghdad children's hospital last year with photographs of young patients who had come from regions where there had been massive American bombing, all of whom had since died.

He said that "a requested research survey by the World Health Organisation never took place", while Britain's then armed forces minister, Mr Doug Henderson, said that as no "peer reviewed epidemiological research data" on the claims had taken place, "it would therefore be premature to comment on this matter".

Mr Fisk said US forces also used uranium-depleted weaponry in Kosovo and central Serbia. "Their A-10 aircraft were using it across Kosovo," he said. One such aircraft took part in the NATO attack on a 12-mile long convoy of Albanian refugees on April 14th, killing 80 civilians.

He had spoken to one survivor recently who said one of her female relatives now had a kidney problem. "I didn't dare think, let alone suggest, what this might be," he said. And the promised NATO investigation into the massacre had not taken place." (Nov 1999) (4)

In August 2000 a Times article quoted "Denis Halliday, former UN humanitarian co-ordinator in Iraq from 1997 to 1998: "The war was always about controlling oil supplies, and never really about Kuwait. But Saddam's invasion of Kuwait, in breach of international law, provided the opportunity for showing American military muscle damaged by the Vietnam defeat, for experimentation with depleted uranium and for the destruction of Iraq combined with the impoverishment of the rich Arab world."" (5) (Aug 2000)

Revealing the shocking (-ly predictable) fact that experimental weapons are favourably tested in real life situations. The article then corrected Madeleine Albright's moral confusion:

"The US Secretary of State, Madeleine Albright, is undoubtedly right when she says (The Irish Times, August 4th) that President Saddam Hussein of Iraq violated international law by invading Kuwait 10 years ago.

She was not right when she said previously that the deaths of 50,000 children a year in Iraq since the imposition of sanctions is a price worth paying to get rid of Saddam Hussein."

The validity of this observation, since the sanctions didn't actually 'get rid of Saddam' (according to the US/UK he was actually able to produce WMDs in this time, now known to be false), demonstrates the contradictory rhetoric of the present middle eastern adventurers.

"The controversy over the reported dangers of depleted uranium (DU) has intensified, with a Canadian study said to show "unequivocal" evidence of damage to health. Research by Dr Hari Sharma, of the University of Waterloo in Ontario, appeared to show traces of DU in the urine of 14 out of 30 British veterans he tested.

There is now considerable dispute over his work, with critics claiming he was dismissed by the university for work that lacked rigour and credibility. But research at the Memorial University of Newfoundland appears to support Dr Sharma. The researcher, a geochemist, Patricia Horan, used a mass spectrometer to analyse the urine of veterans. This technique is said to achieve results between 50,000 and 500,000 times more accurate than Dr Sharma's." (9)

While the military refuses to acknowledge the effects: "A Department of Defense interim report, Environmental Exposure Report: Depleted Uranium in the Gulf (December 13, 2000), details the use of DU by the US in the Gulf War, and studies the possible effects on US troops, to see if there could be a link between DU and Gulf War Syndrome illnesses.

"The amount of DU present, the route of entry, solubility, particle size, other chemical and physical factors, and toxicity determine potential health effects."

The report says these "subtle perturbations" are within very high or very low normal ranges, so they're nothing to worry about." The truth remains, DU posioning is a lethal, by neglecting the issue the military is condeming the victim to 'Mandatory suicide'. (6)

The question must be asked if "Children living near high-voltage power lines are substantially more likely to develop leukaemia," according to researchers from Oxford University and the UK national electricity grid. Then what can we expect from nuclear materials?

The Times reported, in reference to the above electricity study that "[t]hose living within 200 metres of the overhead cables were 70 per cent more likely to develop the disease than similar children living more than 600 metres away. And those living between 200 and 600 metres away had a 20 per cent increased risk.

The researchers found 64 of the children lived at birth within 200 metres of a power line and 258 lived between 200 and 600 metres away. The statistics suggested that living in close proximity to a power line might be linked in some way to five cases of leukaemia a year." (7)

According to the Guardian (4/25/03), "it's unclear exactly how much DU was used in the most recent Iraq war, but some experts estimate 1,000 to 2,000 tons-- roughly three to six times the amount of DU dropped in the 1991 Gulf War." (8)

Silence on this issue will not only condemn thousands of soldiers a life of misery, it will destroy generations of Iraq's families.

Yours etc...

1. http://www.ireland.com/newspaper/
2. http://www.ireland.com/newspaper/
3. http://www.ireland.com/newspaper/ireland
4. http://www.ireland.com/newspaper/ireland
5. http://www.ireland.com/newspaper/opinion
6. http://www.disinfo.com/archive/pages/dossier
7. http://www.ireland.com/newspaper/world
8. http://www.commondreams.org/news2003/0506-12.htm
9. http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/sci/tech/431817.stm


Thursday, June 02, 2005

Not so depleted, uranium

German Chancellor Gerhard Schroder called for a halt in the use of uranium weapons and a full inquiry into possible effects on soldiers in the Balkans.

"I have a healthy scepticism about the use of munitions that could lead to dangers for our own soldiers." (4)

"The cancer deaths of 24 European soldiers who served as peacekeepers in the Balkans and the illnesses reported by many others have stirred alarm in Europe about the use of depleted uranium in munitions" fired from American warplanes during the conflicts in Bosnia and Kosovo." (2)

Its been several years now and depleted uranium is still in use and those who use it are still silent.

"Iraqi doctors are making renewed efforts to bring to the world’s attention the growth in birth deformities and cancer rates among the country’s children. The medical crisis is being directly blamed on the widespread use of depleted uranium (DU) munitions by the US and British forces in southern Iraq during the 1991 Gulf War, and the even greater use of DU during the 2003 invasion....

The rate of birth defects, after increasing ten-fold from 11 per 100,000 births in 1989 to 116 per 100,000 in 2001, is soaring further....

Terrible as these results were, the last six years have witnessed a further rise in the number of children under 15 falling ill with cancer in Iraq. The rate has now reached 22.4 per 100,000—more than five times the 1990 rate of 3.98 per 100,000." (1)

US Army Colonel Doug Rokke who also served as professor of environmental science at Jacksonville University, Alabama is now suffering medical problems related to depleted uranium while he was supervising the US Pentagon’s DU Weapons program. The Royal Society, believes that America’s refusal to recognize and cooperate on the problem has led to an “appalling situation.”

Colonel Rokke has publicly stated that a nation’s military personnel cannot willfully contaminate any other nation, cause harm to persons and the environment and then ignore the consequences of their actions. Rokke has pleaded with the US and British military to “recognize the immoral consequences of their actions and assume responsibility for medical care and thorough environmental remediation.”

Professor Spratt has also noted some soldiers may suffer also as well as civilians. One of the major concerns not often realized is the long-term threat should depleted uranium leaches into the water supplies.

The Pentagon refuses to admit depleted uranium is dangerous.

For more information on what one could expect from Depleted Uranium in the future and what it has accomplished in the past:


"The NYT [made an] important revalation relating to the mushrooming controversy about the health risks to NATO peacekeepers in the Balkans posed by spent U.S. depleted uranium ammunition. After the NATO bombing campaign of 1999, the paper's Marlise Simons reports, the U.S. Joint Chiefs issued a "hazard awareness" document warning soldiers and civilians against touching the ammunition and telling personnel having to handle anti-tank shells or enter wrecked vehicles to wear protective masks and cover exposed skin, and advising those involved in the most hazardous of such tasks to undergo health assessments afterward. The paper got the document from an unnamed NATO military official" (2)

1. http://www.wsws.org/articles/2005/
2. http://slate.msn.com/id/1006828/
3. New York Times
4. LA Times


I think we need a bigger sofa

It's easy to solve world poverty
When the IMF comes round, the whole country should turn off the lights and hide behind the sofa
by: Mark Steel

Solving the problems of Africa shouldn't be tricky - it's world leaders who make it complicated. Whenever it's an issue, a senator will make a statement such as: "It's economically naive to imagine you can make someone better off just by giving them money."

And this will be said in a fatherly tone that suggests "We know best what's good for Africa."...

Spokesmen from organisations with names like "The Inter-Galactic Forum for Fiscal Enrichingment" appear on Newsnight, with the White House in the background. And with the intonations of an automated banking service they'll say: "If we just give these countries money, the evidence is they will fritter it away.

"But by binding the aid to a series of trade agreements, we ensure they will spend it wisely, on paying back the interest on the money we loaned them last month."


The Independent via Global Echo


Wednesday, June 01, 2005

Poverty is History, Poverty is the Future

Dear Editor,

Dominant news seems to ooze trust for Tony Blair. The man that we, now officially (9), know led his country to war on false pretences, is endowed with yet more praise for helping save Africa from poverty.

Perhaps the publicity provided by Geldof's Live 8 will "genuinely enhance awareness about relieving basic poverty and help to maintain pressure on G8 leaders to give leadership in tackling it," but is it also a possibility you have gone to far in saying "British prime minister Tony Blair, who chairs the summit, is determined to pursue the agenda." (1)

The G8 has hit an obvious stumbling block in it's apparent quest for African relief, it's members are not behind it. "The US and Germany are sceptical about the benefits of extensive debt relief." (5) Market freedom would be a more preferable route, unfortunately not one that will change anything for the poor. The same type of market freedom's that have halted the production and distribution of generic drugs due to the effect on pharmaceuticial companies profits. While thousands die of treatable diseases, politicans recieve a pat on the back for supporting business's suppression of the poor.

Aid is a complicated thing, but our intentions are not always reciprocated within the rhetoric of those in power. When countries facing famine in southern Africa are told they should accept genetically modified (GMO) food or risk death for millions of its people (8) one has to wonder whos interests are at heart. Africa cannot rely on handouts and donating food stuffs that don't offer seed for future harvests is providing an unsustainable relief, causing reliance and continuing the cycle of poverty.

It is probably fair to say that awareness has increased recently with regard to the level of global poverty, "
up to 20 million Britons are expected to protest against world poverty as part of the biggest mobilisation against global inequality ever seen." However there seems a sense of trivialization occuring in this new knowledge. Popstars and celebraties working alongside politicians, reaffirming our belief that we are doing everything possible. While change in Africa is imperceptible. This is evidenced best in Oxfam's shambolic handling of its Make Poverty History wristbands, which it has ordered five million more, after selling three million. (4) The bands have been produced in Chinese factories accused of using forced labour, while the bands themselves have become more fashion accessories than the symbol of solidarity they were intended to be.

New Labour's public backing of Make Poverty History and it's close ties with Oxfam have caused concerns that "the movement's demands [have been] diluted and the message become virtually indistinguishable from that of the government." In 2004 Bono dubbed Tony Blair and Chancellor the "Lennon and McCartney" of poverty reduction, (3) causing widespread embarrassment among aid agencies. The fact remains, whether Mr. Blair makes passionate speeches about reducing poverty and combating aids, it's relevance should be determined by the actions he carries through, not his public oration.

UK minister for international development Hilary Benn's quote that "surely it is better that we are talking about the situation, than if we are not" (6) in relation to the problems facing Africa is only a half truth. The problem is, if we are talking about it without action, the problem becomes harder and harder to address.

To understand how the present UK government addresses poverty and its trappings in a situation which it can actively address, one has to look no further than Iraq.

"Acute malnutrition rates among Iraqi children under five rose late last year to 7.7 per cent from four per cent after the ouster of President Saddam Hussein in April 2003, said Jean Ziegler, the UN Human Rights Commission's special expert on the right to food.

Malnutrition, which is exacerbated by a lack of clean water and inadequate sanitation, is a major child-killer in poor countries. Children who manage to survive are usually physically and mentally impaired for the rest of their lives and more vulnerable to disease.

Acute malnutrition signifies a child is actually wasting away." (2)

1. The Irish Times
2. http://www.commondreams.org/
3. http://www.newstatesman.com/nscoverstory.htm
4. http://observer.guardian.co.uk/politics
5. http://www.guardian.co.uk/hearafrica05/
6. http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/world/africa/
7. http://www.hartford-hwp.com/archives/45/246.html
8. http://www.hartford-hwp.com/archives/45/235.html
9. Timesonline