NY Proposes task force to study DU health effects

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Albany bureau

(April 13, 2006) – ALBANY – While it’s unknown how many former
servicemen and -women have been exposed to depleted uranium used in
weaponry, the side effects need to be studied before many U.S. veterans
become seriously ill, say some state lawmakers.

“Uranium is in a lot of these weapons that a lot of our servicemen and
-women use – it’s the junk weaponry that may, whatever, be the problem,”
said Sen. Thomas Morahan, R-New City, Rockland County. “I say ‘may’
because we’re not sure. If it is (a) developing (problem), we need to
make sure the people of New York state we have that serve in Iraq get
the treatment.”

Morahan has sponsored a bill that would require the state Division of
Veterans’ Affairs to help veterans who were exposed to any hazardous
chemicals while in combat tap in to federal aid, including medical
services and tests.

Harvey McCagg, a spokesman for the state Division of Veteran’s Affairs,
said that the agency already ensures that former soldiers get the
assistance they need.

“We’ve been doing that since 1945. That’s the core mission of the
division,” he said. “That includes (obtaining) health care, economic and
social benefits.”

The proposal would create a state task force to study the effects of
depleted uranium and other hazardous materials on soldiers. The task
force would also set up a registry of veterans who may have been exposed
since the first Gulf War.

Co-sponsors, including Assemblyman Jeffery Dinowitz, D-Bronx, said they
weren’t sure what the cost of the program would be to the state but said
it wouldn’t be high.

Morahan compared depleted uranium exposure to Agent Orange, a chemical
used during the Vietnam War. The harmful effects of exposure to the
chemical on both soldiers and Vietnamese civilians weren’t studied until
years later. That can’t happen again, he said.

“Our people are going from one climate to another part of the world
without some of the immunizations,” Morahan said. “Agent Orange caused
tremendous problems not just for the GI coming home but the family as

Because it’s combat-durable, depleted uranium is used to manufacture
armaments, such as armor for tanks.

While he doesn’t know any former service members who have come forward
with the problem specifically, McCagg said that “a number of former
servicemen from New York” have gone through depleted uranium testing.

“Certainly in the first Gulf War we had members come back exposed,” said
U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs spokesman Jim Benson. Benson said
that some veterans of the war joined a long-term study spanning the last
two decades, which is not finished.

“It’s not in the federal government’s interest for this issue to be
exposed because it (depleted uranium) makes such an excellent, efficient
weapon,” said Joan Walker of the No DU Coalition of the Hudson Valley.


US Study Paints Somber Portrait of Iraqi Discord

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U.S. Study Paints Somber Portrait of Iraqi Discord

New York Times

Published: April 9, 2006

WASHINGTON, April 8 — An internal staff report by the United States Embassy and the military command in Baghdad provides a sobering province-by-province snapshot of Iraq’s political, economic and security situation, rating the overall stability of 6 of the 18 provinces “serious” and one “critical.” The report is a counterpoint to some recent upbeat public statements by top American politicians and military officials.

A report on Iraq’s stability cited serious concerns in Basra, above, where residents recently gathered to pray and to demand security and services.

The report, 10 pages of briefing points titled “Provincial Stability Assessment,” underscores the shift in the nature of the Iraq war three years after the toppling of Saddam Hussein. Warnings of sectarian and ethnic frictions are raised in many regions, even in those provinces generally described as nonviolent by American officials.

There are alerts about the growing power of Iranian-backed religious Shiite parties, several of which the United States helped put into power, and rival militias in the south. The authors also point to the Arab-Kurdish fault line in the north as a major concern, with the two ethnicities vying for power in Mosul, where violence is rampant, and Kirkuk, whose oil fields are critical for jump-starting economic growth in Iraq.

The patterns of discord mapped by the report confirm that ethnic and religious schisms have become entrenched across much of the country, even as monthly American fatalities have fallen. Those indications, taken with recent reports of mass migrations from mixed Sunni-Shiite areas, show that Iraq is undergoing a de facto partitioning along ethnic and sectarian lines, with clashes — sometimes political, sometimes violent — taking place in those mixed areas where different groups meet.

The report, the first of its kind, was written over a six-week period by a joint civilian and military group in Baghdad that wanted to provide a baseline assessment for conditions that new reconstruction teams would face as they were deployed to the provinces, said Daniel Speckhard, an American ambassador in Baghdad who oversees reconstruction efforts.

The writers included officials from the American Embassy’s political branch, reconstruction agencies and the American military command in Baghdad, Mr. Speckhard said. The authors also received information from State Department officers in the provinces, he said.

The report was part of a periodic briefing on Iraq that the State Department provides to Congress, and has been shown to officials on Capitol Hill, including those involved in budgeting for the reconstruction teams. It is not clear how many top American officials have seen it; the report has not circulated widely at the Defense Department or the National Security Council, spokesmen there said.

A copy of the report, which is not classified, was provided to The New York Times by a government official in Washington who said the confidential assessment provided a more realistic gauge of stability in Iraq than the recent portrayals by senior military officers. It is dated Jan. 31, 2006, three weeks before the bombing of a revered Shiite shrine in Samarra, which set off reprisals that killed hundreds of Iraqis. Recent updates to the report are minor and leave its conclusions virtually unchanged, Mr. Speckhard said.

The general tenor of the Bush administration’s comments on Iraq has been optimistic. On Thursday, President Bush argued in a speech that his strategy was working despite rising violence in Iraq.

Vice President Dick Cheney, on the CBS News program “Face the Nation,” suggested last month that the administration’s positive views were a better reflection of the conditions in Iraq than news media reports.

“I think it has less to do with the statements we’ve made, which I think were basically accurate and reflect reality,” Mr. Cheney said, “than it does with the fact that there’s a constant sort of perception, if you will, that’s created because what’s newsworthy is the car bomb in Baghdad.”

In their public comments, the White House and the Pentagon have used daily attack statistics as a measure of stability in the provinces. Maj. Gen. Rick Lynch, a senior military spokesman in Baghdad, told reporters recently that 12 of 18 provinces experienced “less than two attacks a day.”

Gen. Peter Pace, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, said on the NBC News program “Meet the Press” on March 5 that the war in Iraq was “going very, very well,” although a few days later, he acknowledged serious difficulties.

In recent interviews and speeches, some administration officials have begun to lay out the deep-rooted problems plaguing the American enterprise here. At the forefront has been Zalmay Khalilzad, the American ambassador, who has said the invasion opened a “Pandora’s box” and, on Friday, warned that a civil war here could engulf the entire Middle East.

On Saturday, Mr. Khalilzad and Gen. George W. Casey Jr., the senior military commander in Iraq, issued a statement praising some of the political and security goals achieved in the last three years, but also cautioning that “despite much progress, much work remains.”

Mr. Speckhard, the ambassador overseeing reconstruction, said the report was not as dire as its assessments might suggest. “Really, this shows there’s one province that continues to be a major challenge,” he said. “There are a number of others that have significant work to do in them. And there are other parts of the country that are doing much better.”

But the report’s capsule summaries of each province offer some surprisingly gloomy news. The report’s formula for rating stability takes into account governing, security and economic issues. The oil-rich Basra Province, where British troops have patrolled in relative calm for most of the last three years, is now rated as “serious.”

The report defines “serious” as having “a government that is not fully formed or cannot serve the needs of its residents; economic development that is stagnant with high unemployment, and a security situation marked by routine violence, assassinations and extremism.”

British fatalities have been on the rise in Basra in recent months, with attacks attributed to Shiite insurgents. There is a “high level of militia activity including infiltration of local security forces,” the report says. “Smuggling and criminal activity continues unabated. Intimidation attacks and assassination are common.”

The report states that economic development in the region, long one of the poorest in Iraq, is “hindered by weak government.”

The city of Basra has widely been reported as devolving into a mini-theocracy, with government and security officials beholden to Shiite religious leaders, enforcing bans on alcohol and mandating head scarves for women. Police cars and checkpoints are often decorated with posters or stickers of Moktada al-Sadr, the rebellious cleric, or Abdul-Aziz al-Hakim, a cleric whose party is very close to Iran. Both men have formidable militias.

Mr. Hakim’s party controls the provincial councils of eight of the nine southern provinces, as well as the council in Baghdad.

In a color-coded map included in the report, the province of Anbar, the wide swath of western desert that is the heart of the Sunni Arab insurgency, is depicted in red, for “critical.” The six provinces categorized as “serious” — Basra, Baghdad, Diyala and three others to the north — are orange. Eight provinces deemed “moderate” are in yellow, and the three Kurdish provinces are depicted in green, for “stable.”

The “critical” security designation, the report says, means a province has “a government that is not functioning” or that is only “represented by a single strong leader”; “an economy that does have the infrastructure or government leadership to develop and is a significant contributor to instability”; and “a security situation marked by high levels of AIF [anti-Iraq forces] activity, assassinations and extremism.”

The most surprising assessments are perhaps those of the nine southern provinces, none of which are rated “stable.” The Bush administration often highlights the relative lack of violence in those regions.

For example, the report rates as “moderate” the two provinces at the heart of Shiite religious power, Najaf and Karbala, and points to the growing Iranian political presence there. In Najaf, “Iranian influence on provincial government of concern,” the report says. Both the governor and former governor of Najaf are officials in Mr. Hakim’s religious party, founded in Iran in the early 1980’s. The report also notes that “there is growing tension between Mahdi Militia and Badr Corps that could escalate” — referring to the private armies of Mr. Sadr and Mr. Hakim, which have clashed before.

The report does highlight two bright spots for Najaf. The provincial government is able to maintain stability for the province and provide for the people’s needs, it says, and religious tourism offers potential for economic growth.

But insurgents still manage to occasionally penetrate the tight ring of security. A car bomb exploded Thursday near the golden-domed Imam Ali Shrine, killing at least 10 people and wounding dozens.

Immediately to the north, Babil Province, an important strategic area abutting Baghdad, also has “strong Iranian influence apparent within council,” the report says. There is “ethnic conflict in north Babil,” and “crime is a major factor within the province.” In addition, “unemployment remains high.”

Throughout the war, American commanders have repeatedly tried to pacify northern Babil, a farming area with a virulent Sunni Arab insurgency, but they have had little success. In southern Babil, the new threat is Shiite militiamen who are pushing up from Shiite strongholds like Najaf and Karbala and beginning to develop rivalries among themselves.

Gen. Qais Hamza al-Maamony, the commander of Babil’s 8,000-member police force, said his officers were not ready yet to intervene between warring militias, should it come to that, as many fear. “They would be too frightened to get into the middle,” he said in an interview.

If the American troops left Babil, he said, “the next day would be civil war.”

Analysts Say a Nuclear Iran Is Years Away

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original article

New York Times

Analysts Say a Nuclear Iran Is Years Away

Published: April 13, 2006
Western nuclear analysts said yesterday that Tehran lacked the skills, materials and equipment to make good on its immediate nuclear ambitions, even as a senior Iranian official said Iran would defy international pressure and rapidly expand its ability to enrich uranium for fuel.

Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice said today at the State Department that the U.N. Security Council will need to consider Iran’s new move and take a “strong step.”
The official, Muhammad Saeedi, the deputy head of Iran’s atomic energy organization, said Iran would push quickly to put 54,000 centrifuges on line — a vast increase from the 164 they said Tuesday that they had used to enrich uranium to levels that could fuel a nuclear reactor.

Still, nuclear analysts called the claims exaggerated. They said nothing had changed to alter current estimates of when Iran might be able to make a single nuclear weapon, assuming that is its ultimate goal. The United States government has put that at 5 to 10 years, and some analysts have said it could come as late as 2020.

Iran’s announcement brought criticism from several Western Nations and to a lesser degree from Russia and China. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice called for “strong steps” against Iran, using the country’s clear statement of defiance to persuade reluctant countries like Russia and China to support tough international penalties. But Russian officials said they had not changed their opposition to such penalties. Nuclear analysts said Iran’s boast that it had enriched uranium using 164 centrifuges meant that it had now moved one small but significant step beyond what it had been ready to do nearly three years ago, when it agreed to suspend enrichment while negotiating the fate of its nuclear program.

“They’re hyping it,” said David Albright, president of the Institute for Science and International Security in Washington, a private group that monitors the Iranian nuclear program. “There’s still a lot they have to do.” Anthony H. Cordesman and Khalid R. al-Rodhan of the Center for Strategic and International Studies in Washington called the new Iranian claims “little more than vacuous political posturing” meant to promote Iranian nationalism and a global sense of atomic inevitability.

The nuclear experts said Iran’s claim on Wednesday that it would mass-produce 54,000 centrifuges echoed boasts that it made years ago. Even so, they noted, the Islamic state still lacked the parts and materials to make droves of the highly complex machines, which can spin uranium into fuel rich enough for use in nuclear reactors or atom bombs.

It took Tehran 21 years of planning and 7 years of sporadic experiments, mostly in secret, to reach its current ability to link 164 spinning centrifuges in what nuclear experts call a cascade. Now, the analysts said, Tehran has to achieve not only consistent results around the clock for many months and years but even higher degrees of precision and mass production. It is as if Iran, having mastered a difficult musical instrument, now faces the challenge of making thousands of them and creating a very large orchestra that always plays in tune and in unison.

On Wednesday, Mr. Saeedi, the Iranian nuclear official, said Iran was moving rapidly toward its atomic goals. “We will expand uranium enrichment to industrial scale at Natanz,” he was quoted as saying by the ISNA student news agency in a reference to Iran’s main enrichment facility. Mr. Saeedi said Iran would start operating the first of 3,000 centrifuges at Natanz by late 2006, with further expansion to 54,000 centrifuges. “We have no problem in doing that,” he told ISNA. “We just need to increase our production lines.”

The news from Iran, which holds 10 percent of the world’s oil reserves, has made oil markets very nervous in recent days and contributed to a spike in oil prices to nearly $70 a barrel on Tuesday. Oil futures on the New York Mercantile Exchange closed at $68.62 a barrel yesterday, just $2 short of their record after Hurricane Katrina.

Since the beginning of the year, the diplomatic crisis has prompted fears that Iran might be tempted to restrict its oil sales, provoking a price spike that would cause economic havoc around the world. Iranian officials have repeatedly said they might use their country’s “oil weapon” in a confrontation with the West. But, as is often the case in Iranian politics, such statements were just as rapidly offset by more reassuring comments from the Oil Ministry that Iran would not use its oil exports as a bargaining chip with the West.

More realistically, many traders fear that any international penalties against Iran might hurt Iran’s oil industry, slow investments, or remove sorely needed barrels from oil-hungry markets.

The Russian stance against penalties highlighted the obstacles Washington faces in its effort to force a halt to Iran’s nuclear program. A senior aide to President Vladimir V. Putin of Russia said yesterday that any effort to employ broad penalties against Tehran would backfire because “Iran’s current president will use them for his benefit, and he will use them to consolidate public opinion around him.”

The United States is urging members of the United Nations Security Council to approve travel and financial restrictions on Iran’s leaders, and administration officials view Russia, which has close trade ties to Iran, as the linchpin of those efforts.

Secretary of State Conodoleezza Rice said yesterday that the Security Council must consider “strong steps” to induce Iran to change course. “The Security Council will need to take into consideration this move by Iran,” she said about Tuesday’s announcement. “It will be time when it reconvenes on this case for strong steps to make certain that we maintain the credibility of the international community.”

In Iran on Tuesday, President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad announced in an elaborate ceremony that Iranian scientists had enriched uranium to 3.5 percent — a level of purity that, if enough could be made, might fuel a nuclear reactor. While Iran hailed the step as a first, the nuclear experts said Tehran had in fact been doing periodic enrichment experiments with centrifuges for seven years, since 1999.

Amid the tensions, Mohamed ElBaradei, the head of the International Atomic Energy Agency, arrived in Tehran yesterday for talks with Iranian nuclear officials. Despite the provocative nature of Iran’s statements, he still held out hope that the government could be persuaded to compromise. “We hope to convince Iran to take confidence-building measures including suspension of uranium enrichment activities until outstanding issues are clarified,” Dr. ElBaradei told journalists at the Tehran airport, Reuters reported.

Iran’s state-run television was dominated by programs about the atomic claim in what seemed like an organized effort to mobilize public support for the nuclear program. One channel showed a reporter stopping people on the street to ask if they had bought pastry to celebrate the news. Another showed nuclear sites and uranium mines. Television news said schools celebrated the success and rebroadcast the announcement of Iran’s president hailing the enrichment step.

While Iran has sharply raised its atomic claims in the past two days, nuclear analysts said it appeared to be roughly where it was expected to be on the road to learning how to enrich uranium on an industrial scale, and still had years of work ahead of it to attain its ambitious goals.

Mr. Albright of the Institute for Science and International Security said he was not surprised that the Iranians had got a group of 164 centrifuges up and running and had begun to introduce uranium gas into them for enrichment.

“There’s still a lot they have to do,” he said, to perfect the operation of the cascade of centrifuges. A report that he and his colleagues made public late last month suggested that Iran would need 6 to 12 months to master that process, and Mr. Albright said in an interview that he stood by that rough estimate as accurate.

His March report said Iran had parts for perhaps 1,000 or 2,000 centrifuges beyond the ones already in operation, and that Iran is not likely to produce enough highly enriched uranium to make a nuclear weapon until 2009 at the earliest.

Several Western nations criticized Iran’s recent announcements as needlessly provocative.

Foreign Minister Jack Straw of Britain said they were “deeply unhelpful,” and his German counterpart, Frank-Walter Steinmeier, said Iran was “going in precisely the wrong direction.” Russia and China joined the chorus, but their criticisms were qualified.

“For China, we are concerned about the events and the way things are developing,” said Wang Guamgya, China’s ambassador to the United Nations. But he added, “In spite of this, I believe diplomatic efforts are still under way.”

In Moscow, a Foreign Ministry spokesman called Iran’s push to expand uranium enrichment “a step in the wrong direction.”

But Foreign Minister Sergey V. Lavrov later tempered that. He inveighed against any possible military action against Iran and advised against a rush to judgment, saying Iran had “never stated that it is striving to possess nuclear weapons.”

Jad Mouawad contributed reporting from New York for this article.

US nuke attack could kill over 100,000

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Union of Concerned Scientists

April 11, 2006

Administration’s Nuclear Saber Rattling on Iran Threatens Global Security

Statement by Dr. Kurt Gottfried, Chairman, Union of Concerned Scientists, and Emeritus Professor of Physics, Cornell University
Buttefly Links
in nuclear weapons
Nuclear Bunker Buster (RNEP) Animation
National Academy of Sciences report (PDF)

“Recent reports suggest that the Bush administration is considering using nuclear weapons against Iran. The very fact that nuclear weapon use is being discussed as an option—against a state that does not have nuclear weapons and does not represent a direct or imminent threat to the United States—illustrates the extent to which the Bush administration has changed U.S. nuclear weapons policy.

“The Bush administration has explicitly rejected the basic precept that the sole purpose of U.S. nuclear weapons should be to deter the use of nuclear weapons. It has assigned a new, and provocative, mission to U.S. nuclear weapons: to dissuade or prevent other countries from undertaking military programs that could threaten U.S. interests in the future. A ‘preventive’ nuclear attack on Iran would fall into this category. It has also blurred the line between nuclear and conventional weapons by declaring that nuclear weapons can be used as part of military operations.

“This nuclear policy increases the likelihood that nuclear weapons will be used, and ultimately decreases U.S. as well as international security. Instead, the United States should commit itself to strengthen the taboo against the use of nuclear weapons that has developed over the past 60 years.

“Plans to use nuclear weapons against Iran also fail to recognize the immediate dangers inherent in the use of nuclear weapons. The administration is reportedly considering using the B61-11 nuclear ‘bunker buster’ against an underground facility near Natanz, Iran. The use of such a weapon would create massive clouds of radioactive fallout that could spread far from the site of the attack, including to other nations. Even if used in remote, lightly populated areas, the number of casualties could range up to more than a hundred thousand, depending on the weapon yield and weather conditions.

“Threatening to use nuclear weapons against Iran provides the strongest of incentives for nuclear proliferation, since it would send the message that the only way for a country to deter nuclear attack is to acquire its own nuclear arsenal. The administration cannot have its cake and eat it, too—it cannot have a viable nuclear non-proliferation policy while continually expanding the roles for its own nuclear weapons.”

Is “Balkans syndrome” caused by DU?

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Official Italian report shows rise in tumours among Balkan troops
BBC Monitoring Europe
April 10, 2006

Text of report by Marco Nese, entitled “The Defence Ministry’s Report: 158 Cases of Tumours Among the Soldiers in the Balkans” report by Italian newspaper Corriere della Sera website on 5 April; subheadings as published

Rome: In Bosnia and Kosovo, 28 Italian soldiers died. They did not lose their lives in military operations, they died because they were struck by incurable illnesses during the mission in the territories of the former Yugoslavia. This appalling fact is contained in the annual report sent by the Defence Minister to parliament.

It is a document which provides a detailed account of the situation of the armed forces’ personnel. A “record of service” that was instituted for the first time by Giovanni Spadolini, when he was defence minister.

The annual “record of service” provides an update to last 31 December. As of that date, 158 cases of malignant tumours had been verified (at the end of 2004, there were 99), which caused, in fact, 28 deaths. On the basis of the medical tests, the most wide-spread diseases concern thyroid tumours (24 cases), testicular tumours (21 cases), and Hodgkin’s Lymphoma, with 20 affected.

The disease

They have called it the “Balkans syndrome”, and it has always been suspected that the fatal illnesses may be connected to the notorious “depleted uranium” [preceding words in English], depleted uranium [in vernacular]. In reality, it has never been possible to attribute complete responsibility with scientific certainty to that metal, which was contained in the projectiles fired by the fighter planes during the Kosovo war. As the Pentagon has admitted, a good 11,000 of them were launched. They were fired at armoured vehicles to penetrate them, thanks to the enormous impact force of the depleted uranium.

The commission chaired by Professor Mandelli arrived at the conclusion that the number of deceased was within the national average. However, the list of the fatal illnesses and the soldiers who have died in the past five or six years has grown alarmingly longer. “Really”, said Falco Accame, who was chairman of the Defence Committee, “to trace death with certainty to the depleted uranium is impossible. But we also do not have the opposite certainty, namely that depleted uranium is innocent, unrelated to the tragic end of so many young men.”

The research

According to experts, the “Balkans syndrome” may be brought about by a set of causes, which run from the environment in which the soldiers operate to the stress that the missions abroad entail. The Pentagon has recently recognized that the psychophysical stress of the soldiers can cause serious pathologies, they have called it “battle fatigue” [preceding words in English], stress from battle.

Whether the stress or the depleted uranium is to blame, the research, Falco Accame believes, should not be limited to the soldiers employed in Bosnia and Kosovo but should also be extended to those who operate in Albania, and especially it should start with the first Gulf War, which goes back to 1991.

“Fatal cases have been verified both among the soldiers sent at that time to Kuwait and among those sent to Somalia in 1993. In both missions, they could have had contact with depleted uranium.”

The Defence Ministry created an inquiry commission in 2000 following disturbing reports of deaths among the men sent abroad. Since then, anyone who returns from a mission is subjected to careful medical tests. So far, the examinations have been done on 65,701 soldiers who were rotated in Bosnia and Kosovo.

Source: Corriere della Sera website, Milan, in Italian 5 Apr 06

Military Fantasies on Iran

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April 11, 2006

Military Fantasies on Iran

Iraq shows just how badly things can go wrong when an administration rashly
embraces simple military solutions to complicated problems, shutting its
ears to military and intelligence professionals who turn out to be
tragically prescient. That lesson has yet to be absorbed by the Bush
administration, which is now reportedly honing plans for airstrikes on
Iranian nuclear facilities.

Congress and the country need to ask the administration just what is going
on, and just what it hopes to accomplish by this latest saber rattling.

If the administration’s real goal is to change minds in Iran and energize
diplomacy, it is not going about it in a very smart way. If, instead, it
intends to proceed with a bombing campaign when and if diplomacy fails,
Congress and the public need to force the kind of serious national debate
that never really took place before the American invasion of Iraq.

Routine contingency planning goes on all the time in the Pentagon, but the
discussions on Iran seem to have progressed beyond this level, with high
administration officials pushing the process and dropping indirect hints of
possible future American military action in language that sometimes recalls
statements made before the invasion of Iraq.

The Washington Post reports that two main options are being seriously
considered – a limited strike against Iranian nuclear-related sites or a
broader campaign against a wider range of military and political targets.
The planners are also looking at ways America could use tactical nuclear
weapons to penetrate Iran’s heavily reinforced underground uranium
enrichment complex at Natanz. The British government is said to take
Washington’s planning exercises seriously enough to have worked out security
arrangements for its own diplomats and citizens in the event of American air

War with Iran would be reckless folly, especially with most of America’s
ground forces tied up in Iraq, where they are particularly vulnerable to
retaliation from Iran and its Iraqi Shiite allies. Nor is there any
guarantee that such a conflict would remain limited to airstrikes. Bombing
alone probably cannot destroy all of Iran’s nuclear facilities, some of
which are underground and fortified, and possibly others in unknown

In fact, Iran already has much of the material and know-how to make nuclear
bombs, and is believed to be about 10 years away from building them. The
best hope for avoiding a nuclear-armed Iran lies in encouraging political
evolution there over the next decade. It is important to make clear to the
Iranian people that they have no need for nuclear weapons and would actually
be better off without them.

Years of frustrating diplomacy have not managed to deflect Iran’s nuclear
ambitions, but American airstrikes are not likely to either. The best they
could hope to achieve is delay, but that result would be far outweighed by
the likely consequences.

An American bombing campaign would surely rally the Iranian people behind
the radical Islamic government and the nuclear program, with those effects
multiplied exponentially if the Pentagon itself resorted to nuclear weapons
in the name of trying to stop Iran from building nuclear bombs.

Native Americans Want ‘Bunker Buster’ Test Stopped

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Published on Tuesday, April 11, 2006 by OneWorld.net
Native Americans Want ‘Bunker Buster’ Test Stopped
by Haider Rizvi

UNITED NATIONS – Native Americans want U.S. authorities to cancel plans to detonate 700 tons of explosives on what they say is tribal land in Nevada.
The planned explosion, scheduled for June 2 some 90 miles from Las Vegas, is aimed at aiding U.S. efforts to develop ”bunker buster” weapons capable of penetrating solid rock. Officials have suggested the test would constitute the largest non-nuclear, open-air blast in the test site’s history.
Federal officials have described such efforts as essential to the administration of President George W. Bush’s self-styled ”war on terror” but to leaders of the Shoshone, also known as the Newe people, the planned detonation is just the latest in a decades-long history of experiments at the Nevada Test Site to shake the earth and raise a dust cloud.

”We are opposed to any further military testing on our lands,” said Raymond Yowell, chief of the Western Shoshone National Council.

The site of the latest proposed test sits on the land recognized under the 1863 Treaty of Ruby Valley as part of the tribe’s national territory, Shoshone leaders said, and the U.S. military therefore has no right to use it.

The U.S. government disagreed and has asserted its ownership of the land.

”Without going through a lot of detail, the issue of ownership of the land area occupied by the Nevada Test Site, and for that matter very large sections of Nevada and Utah, is very complex (going back to the Ruby Valley Treaty) and in our eyes has been resolved,” said Kevin Rohrer, a spokesman for the National Nuclear Security Administration, which operates the test site.

The U.S. Supreme Court had ruled in 1985 that the Shoshone had been paid in full for the land under the Indian Claims Commission Act of 1946 ”and thus the land is property of the United States Government,” Rohrer said in an email.

”My understanding is that funding has been set aside in a trust account for compensation but there is disagreement among Western Shoshone on whether they should accept the funding,” he added.

Shoshone elders rejected the government’s position and last month won a victory in their fight to reclaim territory when the Geneva-based UN Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination (CERD) said in a report that Washington’s claim to the Western Shoshone land ”did not comply with contemporary human rights norms, principles and standards that govern determination of indigenous property rights.”

Among other things, the panel cited special concern over the existence of nuclear waste dumped on tribal territory without consulting and over the objections of the Western Shoshone people. The 18-member panel also asked Washington to ”freeze, desist and stop” actions being taken against the Western Shoshone Nation.

In the ruling, CERD also cited concern over weapons testing at the Nevada Test Site as well as efforts to build a high-level nuclear waste depository at Yucca Mountain.

Tribal elders said Washington’s plans to proceed with the June test in the face of the UN panel’s findings was a slap in the face of the international and Native American communities.

”This is a direct violation of the CERD’s finding and an affront to our religious belief,” Yowell said. ”Mother Earth is sacred and should not be harmed.”

The U.S. military tested nuclear weapons at the Nevada site from 1951 until 1959. Some analysts have said they believe that even after signing the Limited Test Ban Treaty with the Soviet Union in 1963, the U.S. continued to conduct underground tests in the area for several years.

Scientists have said that exposure to radiation from nuclear testing caused an increased incidence of leukemia and cancer in areas adjacent to the Nevada Test Site.

All necessary permits to conduct the test have been obtained from Nevada state agencies, test authorities have said, but there has been no indication that they sought Shoshone approval.

The test has been named ”Divine Strake,” adding to the outrage felt by many Native Americans, who say the test site sits on sacred land.

”It’s a mystery why they call it ‘divine’,” said Carrie Dann, a grandmother and executive director of the Western Shoshone Defense Project. ”Isn’t ‘divine’ used for your deity, God, your sacredness? Why don’t they call it ‘Hell Strake?”’

”When you are working testing weaponry of destruction of life, you should not associate it with ‘divine’,” Dann added. ”We want this insanity to stop. No more bombs and no more testing.”

Clear your shelves and support New Orleans rebuilding

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Clear your shelves and support New Orleans rebuilding:
New Orleans Public Library is asking for any and all hardcover and paperback books to restock the shelves after Katrina. The library staff will assess which titles will be designated for the shelves. The rest will be distributed to destitute families or sold for library fundraising. Your book(s) donation can be sent to:

Rica A Trigs | Public Relations | New Orleans Public Library | 219 Loyola Avenue | New Orleans, LA 70112

If you tell the post office that the books are for the library in New Orleans, they will give you the library rate that is less than the book rate.

Thanks to Sheila Parks!

Study may help slay ‘Yellow Monster’

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Public release date: 6-Apr-2006

Contact: Lisa Nelson
Northern Arizona University
Study may help slay ‘Yellow Monster’

Research pioneers understanding of uranium toxicity

Northern Arizona University biochemist Diane Stearns, top, working with student researchers like Hertha Woody, has discovered that uranium damages DNA as a heavy metal, independent of its radioactive properties.
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FLAGSTAFF, Ariz.–Low-grade uranium ore is nicknamed “yellowcake” for its color and powdered consistency. The Navajo have another name: Leetso, or “yellow monster.”
The yellow monster surfaced on the Navajo Nation with uranium mining that started in the 1940s and continued for the next several decades. In its aftermath came illnesses such as lung cancer among mine workers and worries about environmental contamination among people who live on that land.

The Navajos believe you must gain knowledge of a monster to slay it and restore nature’s balance. Northern Arizona University biochemist Diane Stearns and her Navajo students are not only gaining knowledge, they are adding to that knowledge with new discoveries about uranium.

The fact that uranium, as a radioactive metal, can damage DNA is well documented. But what Stearns and her collaborators recently have found is that uranium can also damage DNA as a heavy metal, independent of its radioactive properties.

Stearns and her team are the first to show that when cells are exposed to uranium, the uranium binds to DNA and the cells acquire mutations. When uranium attaches to DNA, the genetic code in the cells of living organisms, it can change that code. As a result, the DNA can make the wrong protein or wrong amounts of protein, which affects how the cells grow. Some of these cells can grow to become cancer.

“Essentially, if you get a heavy metal stuck on DNA, you can get a mutation,” Stearns explained. Other heavy metals are known to bind to DNA, but Stearns and her colleagues are the first to identify this trait with uranium. Their results were published recently in the journals Mutagenesis and Molecular Carcinogenesis.

Their findings have far-reaching implications for people living near abandoned mine tailings in the Four Corners area of the Southwest and for war-torn countries and the military, which uses depleted uranium for anti-tank weapons, tank armor and ammunition rounds. Depleted uranium is what is left over when most of the highly radioactive isotopes of uranium are removed.

“The health effects of uranium really haven’t been studied since the Manhattan Project (the development of the atomic bomb in the early 1940s). But now there is more interest in the health effects of depleted uranium. People are asking questions now,” Stearns said.

The questions include whether there is a connection between exposure to depleted uranium and Gulf War Syndrome or to increased cancers and birth defects in the Middle East. Stearns said it is estimated that more than 300 tons of depleted uranium were used during the first Gulf War. Military uses of depleted uranium in weapons continue today.

Closer to home, questions continue to be asked about environmental exposure to uranium from mine tailings that dot the landscape across the Navajo Nation.

“When the uranium mining boom crashed in the ’80s, it really crashed and there wasn’t much cleanup,” Stearns said. Estimates put the number of abandoned mines on the Navajo Nation at more than 1,100.

NAU senior Hertha Woody grew up on the Navajo Nation in Shiprock, N.M. Before joining Stearns’ research group, Woody said she was not very aware of heavy metal contamination of soil and water from a large uranium tailing pile near her hometown. But now she wonders about the ongoing health problems of her uncle who worked in the uranium mine at Shiprock. And she worries about others living in the area.

“My parents still live there and drink the water,” she noted.

There’s another Navajo word that Woody shares. It is hozho, which relates to harmony, balance and beauty. Woody explained that the yellow monster disrupts hozho and that uranium should remain in the ground to ensure balance. In fact, in the spring of 2005, Navajo Nation President Joe Shirley, Jr., signed the Diné Natural Resources Protection Act, which bans uranium mining and processing on the Navajo Nation.

Woody said she has learned a great deal and not just in the realm of science. “It opens up doors and windows everywhere else,” she said, noting that the work has raised her awareness about mine safety, tribal issues and reclamation efforts.

“When we first heard of the yellow monster, it was scary and not much was understood until the research began and it was passed on to the people through booklets and talks at the chapter houses,” said Sheryl Martinez, a junior in NAU’s nursing program and another member of Stearns’ research group. Martinez, also a native of Shiprock, hopes to return to her community and put her knowledge to work after graduation.

The funding for Stearns’ work is tied to improving health among Native American communities. Stearns is the NAU principal investigator of a grant jointly awarded to NAU and the Arizona Cancer Center by the National Cancer Institute. Louise Canfield is the principal investigator on the grant for the Arizona Cancer Center. Collectively, these two grants comprise the Native American Cancer Research Partnership, a consortium of cancer researchers and educators at NAU and the Arizona Cancer Center. NACRP is one of only five such partnerships in the nation and the only one focused on Native American issues.

“The data on Native Americans for cancer evidence is very poor,” Stearns said. “Navajo and Hopi may not get cancer to a greater extent, but the survival rate is lower than the general population.” Stearns said the lower survival rate might be more the result of limited access to care or cultural boundaries that may prevent people from seeking care.

A goal of the partnership is to address these disparities by training Native students for cancer-related careers.

In this way, Stearns and her students can help slay the yellow monster, whether on the Navajo Nation or abroad.

18 student sweatshop protesters arrested in sit-in at California Hall

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18 sweatshop protesters arrested in sit-in at California Hall

From Public Affairs | 11 April 2006

BERKELEY – Eighteen students who said they want the University of California to adopt new policies for companies that manufacturer collegiate apparel were cited for trespassing when they rushed into UC Berkeley’s California Hall at approximately 11:40 a.m. on Tuesday. They staged a sit-in in a foyer outside a suite of offices that includes the chancellor’s office.

UCPD officers arrested the protesters for trespassing and refusing to leave the building, a misdemeanor. All were cited and released. The group included 13 UC Berkeley students, two UC San Diego students, two UC Santa Cruz students and one UC Davis student.

The chanting protesters were repeatedly asked to leave, and informed that they would be arrested if they did not leave the building. During the arrests, the protesters cooperated with police, and all were removed from the building by 2:20 p.m. Operations inside California Hall continued throughout the day.

The protesters asked UC Berkeley administrators to forward to UC President Robert Dynes a list of their demands, which was done. The list called for adopting additional policies for manufacturers of UC apparel.

The UC system has for some time required that companies that manufacture clothing with campus logos follow established baseline standards for humane working conditions. A UC committee has been studying the students’ proposal and is expected to reach a recommendation for the UC system next month.