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Depleted Uranium: Pernicious Killer Keeps on Killing

by Dr. Craig Etchison

Global Research, February 20, 2007

Truthout - 2007-02-19

I live a few miles from an ATK (Alliant Tech) plant that produces depleted uranium (DU) tank shells for the military. Tank shells destroy and kill, and they, along with all military hardware, are a constant reminder of our failure as a civilization. But DU weapons and tank shells are only two of many items that raise questions that even our violence prone society needs to address. Since shortly after Gulf War I, soldiers and civilians have been questioning the safety of these weapons which are made of radioactive material. The more questions raised, the more the military-industrial complex has hauled out studies showing the safety of DU munitions. One CEO called DU the "skim milk" of uranium in an article penned for my local paper. An Air Force officer is even stalking the internet, trying to intimidate anyone who suggests DU is anything but benign.

Yet the numbers suggested that something insidious happens when DU munitions are used. How to explain the exploding rates of cancer, birth defects, and radiation poisoning among Iraqis in the Basra region? How to explain a Department of Veterans Affairs study of 21,000 veterans of the Gulf War that found rates of birth defects were twice as great for male vets and three times as great for female vets who served in the Gulf War compared to vets who did not? How to explain a Washington Post report in January of 2006 that 518,00 of the 580,000 Gulf War veterans were on disability, over half on permanent disability. How to explain over 13,000 dead Gulf War veterans when only 250 were killed and 7,000 injured in the war itself?

Finally, through the work of internationally recognized research scientist, Dr. Rosalie Bertell, we may have an answer to these questions. The answer has to do with using an analytical methodology appropriate to low level radiation, as opposed to inappropriate methodologies used to date that show DU is harmless, and, equally important, understanding that DU has both a radiological component as well as a heavy metal component, and the two in combination are far more toxic than either is singly.

What is DU and Why Is It a Problem?

Depleted Uranium (DU) is the waste left after the isotope uranium-235 (used for bombs and nuclear reactors) has been removed. DU (mostly U-238) makes up the largest amount of radioactive waste other than uranium mining waste worldwide and has a half-life of 4.5 billion years. In the United States, DU can only be handled by persons trained in radiation safety procedures. DU must also be isolated from the environment.

Much of the scientific evaluation of uranium oxide has come from analysis of uranium mining and milling, but this ignores a major fact-that battlefield uranium oxide is very different from uranium oxide produced at normal temperatures. When a DU shell hits a hardened target, it bursts into flame and creates an invisible metal fume, often called an aerosol. (Tests carried out eight to ten years after Gulf War I found that the DU aerosol from the battlefield had been carried to Basra and Baghdad, though no fighting occurred in those areas.)

Aerosolizing DU involves temperatures between 3,000 and 6,000 degrees centigrade, which turn the oxide into a nano-sized ceramic particle that is insoluble in body fluids. If these nano particles are inhaled, they provide contact radiation and a source of heavy metal poisoning. These high temperatures will also aerosolize other heavy metals in the area such as steel, nickel, aluminum, and iron, which can be inhaled. Nano-sized uranium oxide [along with other metals] is roughly the size of a virus [scientifically: nanometer-sized], invisible, able to penetrate the lung-blood barrier and can be carried throughout the body. Nano particles can reach sensitive targets, including the lymph nodes, spleen, heart, and access to the central nervous system.

Uranium-238 is an alpha particle emitter. The range of these alpha particles is only about six cells; therefore, it is highly localized. Because DU has less radioactivity than natural uranium, many consider DU to be low-level radiation and not harmful to people. But research does not bear this view out.

Assessing the Effects of DU

A major problem with most DU assessment is that many effects of alpha radiation on cell structure, including DNA proteins that release biochemical signals and important cell metabolic enzymes, are ignored by nuclear physicists who use dose estimates based on uranium dust in mines, a completely inappropriate approach for a battlefield aerosol. Many medical professionals believe the protein problem is responsible for various neurodegenerative diseases evidenced by Gulf War veterans.

As Dr. Bertell writes, "Heavy metal exposure (including uranium) can cause loss of cellular immunity, autoimmune diseases, joint disease such as rheumatoid arthritis, and diseases of the kidneys, circulatory system, and nervous system.... Decline in functional mitochondria is most damaging to the heart, kidney, brain, liver, and skeletal muscle, in that order." Loss of cellular immunity opens an organism up to viral, bacterial, and mycoplasmal invasions connected to a variety of diseases.

Equally important, scientists have found that tiny amounts of DU too small to be toxic and only mildly radioactive seem to reinforce each other in terms of causing cancers and risk to offspring. The Armed Forces Radiobiological Research Institute has even admitted that DU can cause cancer.

Humans are normally exposed to about 1.9 micrograms of uranium a day in food and water, with between one and two percent absorbed. The rest is passed in feces. Humans screen natural uranium quite effectively. But our screening system won't eliminate nano particles that are ceramic and enter through the lungs. These particles won't dissolve and won't lose their radioactivity.

International Condemnation

The special investigator of the UN Sub-Committee on the Promotion and Protection of Human Rights has declared DU munitions illegal under existing humanitarian law. DU weapons also produce a toxic metal fume that violates the Geneva Protocol on the Use of Gas in War, which the US signed in 1975.

Why Ignore the Evidence?

We have enough evidence to suggest with considerable certainty that DU munitions break the four basic laws and customs that govern modern weapons use: that the weapon is confined to the battlefield, that it does not kill after a battle is over, that it doesn't cause inhumane suffering, and that it doesn't have a negative effect on the natural environment. We certainly have enough evidence to stop using these weapons until further research by independent scientists has been done. And yet we continue to produce, sell, and use DU munitions. How can this be justified?

Perhaps looking at the paradigm of Agent Orange gives insight. Our government ignored veterans affected by Agent Orange for thirty years before admitting Agent Orange was, in fact, the cause of many physical problems endured by Vietnam veterans. By then, the most seriously affected veterans were dead. The government incurred a far smaller financial liability than if the government had owned up to the problems earlier.

If the government ever admitted what it has done in Iraq-between 1,000 and 2,000 tons of DU ordnance expended according to most estimates-the financial consequences, not to mention the moral outrage engendered, is almost beyond imagination. Cleaning up the DU blanketing Iraq would entail enormous costs. And in a few years, soldiers who have served in the current debacle-many with two or three tours-are going to start coming down with the same diseases that have struck Gulf War I veterans. Some who got good doses of DU have already seen their lives ruined by multiple physical problems.

We must also consider the real possibility of Iraq as an uninhabitable wasteland, with the residue of the DU aerosol blowing in the wind and flowing in the waters to adjacent lands, a residue with a half-life of 4.5 billion years. Is this outlook too bleak?

Dr. Jawad Al-Ali, director of the Oncology Center at the largest hospital in Basra said the following in 2003. "Two strange phenomena have come about in Basra which I have never seen before. The first is double and triple cancers in one patient.... We have 58 families here with more than one person affected by cancer.... My wife has nine members of her family with cancer." He went on to point out that these were families with no history of cancer. After Gulf War I, the United Kingdom's Atomic Energy Authority estimated that DU contamination could kill half a million Iraqis.

Conclusions

I suspect the military-industrial complex will stonewall admitting the effects of DU for as long as possible to avoid accepting responsibility, not to mention liability, for their reckless actions. When John Hanchette, a founding editor of USA Today tried to publish stories about DU, he received a phone call from the Pentagon asking him to desist. He was later replaced at USA Today. The World Health Organization's chief expert on radiation and health had his report on DU suppressed. Dr. Asaf Durakovic, then a colonel in the U.S. Army, was asked to lie about the risks of DU to humans. So the stonewalling will continue, even as cancers rage among our soldiers and Iraqi civilians, even as our soldiers die, or commit suicide to escape the horrific pain, even as birth defects proliferate across Iraq and among our veterans.

But what of that? DU is a moneymaker for corporations like ATK. And turning DU into munitions helps the government solve a big problem-what to do with mountains of DU it must store and, by law, keep out of the environment. What better solution than giving it free to the munitions makers, who then sell the munitions back to Uncle Sam at a handsome profit? Everyone wins.

Unless we continue to fight for the truth, and to cry out for justice, our soldiers and Iraqi civilians will suffer and die in increasing numbers. Estimates of how many may die in Iraq are truly staggering - up to 11% of Iraq's 27 million population. This is a massive crime against humanity that remains in the shadows.

Much of this article is based on the work of Dr. Rosalie Bertell. See her article, "Depleted Uranium: All the Questions About DU and Gulf War Syndrome Are Not Yet Answered," in the International Journal of Health Services, Volume 36, Number 3, pages 503-520, 2006. E-mail requests for a summary of Dr. Bertell's article can be sent to cetchison@allegany.edu.

Dr. Craig Etchison, Ph.D, is from the Center for Nonviolent Alternatives, Fort Ashby, West Virginia.

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From http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/articles/A27748-2001Oct20.html comes yet another report of efforts by the United States government to legalize the use of torture inside the United States on anyone the government deems to be an enemy, and as Bush already stated, those who are not fully with the government are the enemy. In the rush to exploit the attacks on the World Trade Towers to destroy what is left of the Constitution, the media propagandists are trying to sell the people of the United States on the necessity of torture as a legitimate tool of law enforcement.

There are several reason why this latest atrocity must be stopped now.

No real American can tolerate or condone torture. It is forbidden by the Constitution, and only those who secretly wish for our nation to abandon its principles and Constitutional protections could ever support it.

Torture does not assist in the solving of crimes. Tortured people will say anything. Indeed it hardly need be pointed out that the millions of executions carried out by religious fanatics for the crime of witchcraft were primarily based on confessions extracted under torture.

Torture exists for one reason only, to terrorize a population that opposes a dictatorship, and before we welcome such things into our midst I think we should read a few words from those who have experienced torture first hand.

US involvement in torture “Throughout the world, on any given day, a man, woman or child is likely to be displaced, tortured, killed or "disappeared", at the hands of governments or armed political groups. More often than not, the United States shares the blame.” – Amnesty International, in its annual report on U.S. military aid and human rights, 1996.

Brazil

"For four months I was heavily tortured by the Army in Rio de Janeiro, and then in the Naval Information Center.... Near death, I was taken to the hospital for the sixth time. The beatings had been so severe that my body was one big bruise. The blood clotted under my skin and all the hair on my body fell out. They pulled out all my fingernails. They poked needles through my sexual organs and used a rope to drag me across the floor by my testicles. Right afterwards they hung me upside down. They hung me handcuffed from a grating, removed my artificial leg, and tied my penis so l could not urinate. They forced me to stand on my one leg for three days without food or drink. They gave me so many drugs that my eardrums burst and I am impotent. They nailed my penis to a table for 24 hours. They tied me up like a pig and threw me into a pool so that I nearly drowned. They put me in a completely dark cell where I remained for 30 days urinating and defecating in the same place where I had to sleep. They fed me only bread soaked in water. They put me in a rubber box and turned on a siren. For three days I neither ate nor slept and I nearly went mad...."

– Manuel de Conceicao, peasant leader in Brazil He was arrested in 1972 and brought before Brazilian security police who had been schooled at US army bases in the latest methods of counterinsurgency and interrogation. He was tortured by Brazilian army units – trained and equipped by US military-aid programs.

Chile

"They tell how the Chilean military – trained and financed by the United States – tortured people with electric shock, particularly on the genitals; forced victims to witness the torture of friends and relatives (including children); raped women in the presence of other family members; burned sex organs with acid or scalding water; placed rats in women's vaginas and into the mouths of other prisoners; mutilated, punctured, and cut off various parts of the body, including genitalia, eyes, and tongue; injected air into women's breasts and into veins (causing slow, painful death); shoved bayonets and clubs into the vagina or anus, causing rupture and death."

–Victims and survivors of the fascist coup in Chile in 1973.

"Four men came in, bearing a cot with a sheet-covered figure. "Sit down," one ordered. "You're going to see a performance by a bad actor, an actor who has forgotten his part. Help him remember it." They uncovered a body entirely purple, missing a foot. "Come closer," another ordered. "Look at him. You'll know him." And she did. It was 27-year-old "El Gordo" Toledo, with whom she had been 20 days before. He could hardly speak, or scream, any more. When Elba maintained that she did not know him, they said, "Let's see" – they pulled out his nails, cut off his remaining ear, cut out his tongue, gouged out his eyes, and killed him slowly as she watched, thinking, "He could be my son." Then they brought another "actor," 26-year-old Eduard Munoz. It took them five hours to kill him, under her eyes. It was worse than any pain they could have inflicted on her, she said. Later she was forced to watch while her cellmates – aged 16, 17, and 40, nude and drugged, were directed to perform an erotic dance before they were raped. Another girl, back from a dreaded torture center, and pregnant, was so crazy that each time she awoke she screamed that her only desire was for her child to be born so she could kill it."

– Elba Vergara, secretary to President Allende (himself murdered by the Chilean generals).

El Salvador

A young Salvadoran deserted the Salvadoran army and fled to Mexico. His story was published in The Other Side magazine, 1982. Part of his training by eight American Green Berets consisted of "teaching how to torture." He witnessed a boy of about fifteen, suspected of supporting the guerrillas, being subjected to a demonstration torture by the Green Berets. They tore out the youth's fingernails, broke his elbows, gouged out his eyes, and then burned him alive. The author reports that the torture sessions continued into the next day and included a thirteen year-old girl. Another victim had various parts of his body burned and was then taken up in a helicopter while still alive and thrown out at 14,000 feet. The defector noted that "often the army goes and throws people out over the sea." (The editors of The Other Side withheld the Salvadoran informant's name "for obvious reasons" but claimed that "the basic outline of his story has been corroborated by independent sources which we believe to be reliable.")

Greece

"The torturers from the start had said that the United States supported them and that was what counted." – Amnesty International report on Greece in the 1960s under US-supported dictator George Papadoupolus.

Guatemala

“My name is Rigoberta Menchú Tum. I am a representative of the "Vincente Menchú" [her father] Revolutionary Christians … On 9 December 1979, my 16-year-old brother Patrocino was captured Revolutionary Christians … On 9 December 1979, my 16-year-old brother Patrocino was captured and tortured for several days and then taken with twenty other young men to the square in Chajul … An officer of [President] Lucas Garcia's army of murderers ordered the prisoners to be paraded in a line. Then he started to insult and threaten the inhabitants of the village, who were forced to come out of their houses to witness the event. I was with my mother, and we saw Patrocino; he had had his tongue cut out and his toes cut off. The officer jackal made a speech. Every time he paused the soldiers beat the Indian prisoners.

When he finished his ranting, the bodies of my brother and the other prisoners were swollen, bloody, unrecognizable. It was monstrous, but they were still alive.

They were thrown on the ground and drenched with gasoline. The soldiers set fire to the wretched bodies with torches and the captain laughed like a hyena and forced the inhabitants of Chajul to watch. This was his objective – that they should be terrified and witness the punishment given to the "guerrillas".”

– Jenny Pearce, Under the Eagle: U.S. Intervention in Central America and the Caribbean (Latin American Bureau, London, updated edition 1982) p.278. In 1992, Rigoberta Menchú Tum was awarded the 1992 Nobel Peace Prize.

Iraq

Final Autopsy Report: DOD 003164, (Detainee) Died as a result of asphyxia (lack of oxygen to the brain) due to strangulation as evidenced by the recently fractured hyoid bone in the neck and soft tissue hemorrhage extending downward to the level of the right thyroid cartilage. Autopsy revealed bone fracture, rib fractures, contusions in mid abdomen, back and buttocks extending to the left flank, abrasions, lateral buttocks. Contusions, back of legs and knees; abrasions on knees, left fingers and encircling to left wrist.

Lacerations and superficial cuts, right 4th and 5th fingers. Also, blunt force injuries, predominately recent contusions (bruises) on the torso and lower extremities. Abrasions on left wrist are consistent with use of restraints. No evidence of defense injuries or natural disease. Manner of death is homicide. Whitehorse Detainment Facility, Nasiriyah, Iraq.

– American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) posting of one of forty-four US military autopsy reports.

Nicaragua

"Rosa had her breasts cut off. Then they cut into her chest and took out her heart. The men had their arms broken, their testicles cut off, and their eyes poked out They were killed by slitting their throats and pulling the tongue out through the slit."

– A survivor of a raid by US-backed Contras in Nicaragua in the 1980s.

Uruguay

" I can teach you about torture, but sooner or later you'll have to get involved. You'll have to lay on your hands and try it yourselves ... The precise pain, in the precise place, in the precise amount, for the desired effect.''

– Head of the US Office of Public Safety (OPS) mission [Don Mitrione] in Uruguay in 1981, teaching classes in the art of torture.

So, as you read the posts on these threads, ask yourselves what kind of a person would want such things to happen here in the United States, and why would you want to listen to them. Hitler supported state-sponsored torture. So did Stalin. Anyone who supports state-sponsored torture in the United States has to be the same class of human being. Why would a free people even give such monsters the time of day, let alone support the monsters and their wars-for-oil with their tax money or their children's lives?

Who are the terrorists? The media tells us it is Osama Bin Laden, but Osama bin Laden was trained and funded by the CIA. Osama's brother was George W. Bush's business partner in Texas.

The CIA is a terrorist organization. In 1985, authorized by William Casey, the CIA planted a car bomb near a mosque in Beirut to kill Sheik Mohammed Hossein Fadlallah, a muslim cleric. The bomb missed the Sheik but killed 80 people, including children. Now, if a car bomb that kills innocent people is a terrorist act, then the CIA is a terrorist organization. We can stop terrorism right here at home by disbanding the CIA.

What is the justification to use torture on men who may in fact have no connection to the crimes they are accused of?

FBI Chief Robert Mueller admitted on September 20 and on September 27 that the FBI has no legal proof to prove the true identities of the hijackers, who were using phony IDs with stolen identities. Nobody really knows who they were or who they worked for, only who they wanted us to think they worked for.

We do know is that in 1998, oil company executives told the US Congress that they would not build an oil pipeline into the Caspian Sea oil field unless the government of Afghanistan was replaced with one more acceptable to the oil companies.

In March 2001, Jane's Defense reported that the United States was planning an invasion of Afghanistan. The Times of India reported the same thing in June! Even the BBC reported that the United States had intended to invade Afghanistan before the events on 9/11.

Most rational humans know that the timing of the attacks on the World Trade Towers fit into the pre-existing timetable for a war in Afghanistan just a little too cozily, happening right when the US Government most needed such an event to manufacture public support for an invasion to remove the Taliban and clear the way for the pipeline proposed in 1998.

Doubts exist over whether the American people are being told the truth of what is going on, or if, as was the case with the Pearl Harbor swindle a war is being manufactured for us out of lies and deceptions, without our knowledgable consent.

Despite assurances that proof exists that shows who the hijackers really were, with a solid evidentiary chain leading back to a good reason to bomb women and children of Afghanistan, the proof is kept hidden for reasons of "National Security" we are told. Except that this proof is being sent to the heads of other nations around the world; the only people it is secret from is the American citizen whose taxes and children are needed to fight this war. What little evidence has been shown on the media is at best circumstantial, and would not stand up in a court of law to prove that Osama had anything to do with the 9/11 attacks (he is still denying any role) or that if Osama did in fact take part in the attacks, that he was not still in the employ of the CIA at the time.

This demand for torture is a panic move by the government. They don't have a strong case connecting the 9/11 attacks to the people living along that oil pipeline route. But if torture is allowed to be used, there is no end to the crimes those who are tortured will confess to, from blowing up the World Trade Towers to shooting J.R. Ewing!

But the best reason to oppose this nonsense is that if torture is allowed in the United States then we will cease to be the United States. In throwing out our own Constitutional protections we will have done far more damage to the nation than any terrorist could ever dream of. What those who planned the WTC attacks could not knock down, the pro-torture war mongers will have thrown down in their eagerness for blood and their lust for vengeance, even against targets who may in fact be innocent of any wrong doing.

It is also quite possible, indeed likely, that the United States is being spoofed by a third party to trigger a war. It has happened before. According to Victor Ostrovsky, a defector from Israel's secret service, Mossad, Israel decided to mount a false flag operation designed to further discredit Libya, and provoke the US to attack an Arab nation. A transmitter loaded with pre-recorded messages was planted in Tripoli, Libya, by a Mossad team.

The `Trojan Horse' beamed out fake messages about Libyan-authorized bombings and planned attacks that were immediately intercepted by US electronic monitoring. Convinced by this disinformation that Libya was behind the 1986 bombing of a Berlin disco in which a US soldier died, President Ronald Reagan ordered massive air attacks on Libya, including an obvious- and illegal (under US law) attempt to assassinate Qadaffi himself. Some 100 Libyan civilians were killed, including Qadaffi's young daughter.

Before we get out the thumb screws and heat up the branding irons, we need to take a close look at the manner in which US supported torture has been used in other nations, not as a tools for law enforcement but as a tool of drastic political oppression, used against, not criminals, but simply those who disagreed with the government in power.

Do we dare allow such things within this very nation? Only at our direst peril.

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US funds terror groups to sow chaos in Iran

By William Lowther in Washington DC and Colin Freeman, Sunday Telegraph

America is secretly funding militant ethnic separatist groups in Iran in an attempt to pile pressure on the Islamic regime to give up its nuclear programme.

In a move that reflects Washington's growing concern with the failure of diplomatic initiatives, CIA officials are understood to be helping opposition militias among the numerous ethnic minority groups clustered in Iran's border regions.

The operations are controversial because they involve dealing with movements that resort to terrorist methods in pursuit of their grievances against the Iranian regime.

In the past year there has been a wave of unrest in ethnic minority border areas of Iran, with bombing and assassination campaigns against soldiers and government officials.

Such incidents have been carried out by the Kurds in the west, the Azeris in the north-west, the Ahwazi Arabs in the south-west, and the Baluchis in the south-east. Non-Persians make up nearly 40 per cent of Iran's 69 million population, with around 16 million Azeris, seven million Kurds, five million Ahwazis and one million Baluchis. Most Baluchis live over the border in Pakistan.

Funding for their separatist causes comes directly from the CIA's classified budget but is now "no great secret", according to one former high-ranking CIA official in Washington who spoke anonymously to The Sunday Telegraph.

His claims were backed by Fred Burton, a former US state department counter-terrorism agent, who said: "The latest attacks inside Iran fall in line with US efforts to supply and train Iran's ethnic minorities to destabilise the Iranian regime."

Although Washington officially denies involvement in such activity, Teheran has long claimed to detect the hand of both America and Britain in attacks by guerrilla groups on its internal security forces. Last Monday, Iran publicly hanged a man, Nasrollah Shanbe Zehi, for his involvement in a bomb attack that killed 11 Revolutionary Guards in the city of Zahedan in Sistan-Baluchistan. An unnamed local official told the semi-official Fars news agency that weapons used in the attack were British and US-made.

Yesterday, Iranian forces also claimed to have killed 17 rebels described as "mercenary elements" in clashes near the Turkish border, which is a stronghold of the Pejak, a Kurdish militant party linked to Turkey's outlawed PKK Kurdistan Workers' Party.

John Pike, the head of the influential Global Security think tank in Washington, said: "The activities of the ethnic groups have hotted up over the last two years and it would be a scandal if that was not at least in part the result of CIA activity."

Such a policy is fraught with risk, however. Many of the groups share little common cause with Washington other than their opposition to President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, whose regime they accuse of stepping up repression of minority rights and culture.

The Baluchistan-based Brigade of God group, which last year kidnapped and killed eight Iranian soldiers, is a volatile Sunni organisation that many fear could easily turn against Washington after taking its money.

A row has also broken out in Washington over whether to "unleash" the military wing of the Mujahedeen-e Khalq (MEK), an Iraq-based Iranian opposition group with a long and bloody history of armed opposition to the Iranian regime.

The group is currently listed by the US state department as terrorist organisation, but Mr Pike said: "A faction in the Defence Department wants to unleash them. They could never overthrow the current Iranian regime but they might cause a lot of damage."

At present, none of the opposition groups are much more than irritants to Teheran, but US analysts believe that they could become emboldened if the regime was attacked by America or Israel. Such a prospect began to look more likely last week, as the UN Security Council deadline passed for Iran to stop its uranium enrichment programme, and a second American aircraft carrier joined the build up of US naval power off Iran's southern coastal waters.

The US has also moved six heavy bombers from a British base on the Pacific island of Diego Garcia to the Al Udeid Air Base in Qatar, which could allow them to carry out strikes on Iran without seeking permission from Downing Street.

While Tony Blair reiterated last week that Britain still wanted a diplomatic solution to the crisis, US Vice-President Dick Cheney yesterday insisted that military force was a real possibility.

"It would be a serious mistake if a nation like Iran were to become a nuclear power," Mr Cheney warned during a visit to Australia. "All options are still on the table."

The five permanent members of the UN Security Council plus Germany will meet in London tomorrow to discuss further punitive measures against Iran. Sanctions barring the transfer of nuclear technology and know-how were imposed in December. Additional penalties might include a travel ban on senior Iranian officials and restrictions on non-nuclear business.

Additional reporting by Gethin Chamberlain.

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BBC Responds to Building 7 Controversy; Claim 9/11 Tapes Lost

Pathetic five paragraph blog rebuttal does not answer questions as to source of report that Salomon Building was coming down.

The BBC has been forced to respond to footage showing their correspondent reporting the collapse of WTC 7 before it fell on 9/11, claiming tapes from the day are somehow missing, and refusing to identify the source for their bizarre act of "clairvoyance" in accurately pre-empting the fall of Building 7.

Here is the BBC's response to the questions about the footage that was unearthed yesterday, with my comments after each statement.

1. We're not part of a conspiracy. Nobody told us what to say or do on September 11th. We didn't get told in advance that buildings were going to fall down. We didn't receive press releases or scripts in advance of events happening. "We didn't get told in advance that buildings were going to fall down." If this is true, then how on earth did the BBC report the collapse of Building 7 before it happened? Psychic clairvoyance? Of course they were told that WTC 7 was coming down, just like the firefighters, police, first responders and CNN were told it was coming down. They had to have had a source for making such a claim. The BBC is acting like the naughty little boy who got caught with his hand in the cookie jar. No one here is claiming the BBC are "part of the conspiracy," but their hideous penchant to just repeat what authorities tell them without even a cursory investigation (and with the Building they are telling us has collapsed mockingly filling the background shot of the report), is a damning indictment of their yellow journalism when it comes to 9/11.

2. In the chaos and confusion of the day, I'm quite sure we said things which turned out to be untrue or inaccurate - but at the time were based on the best information we had. We did what we always did - sourced our reports, used qualifying words like "apparently" or "it's reported" or "we're hearing" and constantly tried to check and double check the information we were receiving. How do "chaos and confusion" explain how the BBC reported on the collapse of a building, a collapse that happened "unexpectedly" according to their Conspiracy Files hit piece documentary, before it happened? In one breath the BBC is claiming they were not told of the impending collapse of the Building and in the next they are telling us that all their information is sourced. Which is it to be? Did the BBC have a source telling them the building was about to collapse or not? If not, how on earth could they pre-empt its fall? Do BBC reporters have access to a time machine? What was the source of this information?

3. Our reporter Jane Standley was in New York on the day of the attacks, and like everyone who was there, has the events seared on her mind. I've spoken to her today and unsurprisingly, she doesn't remember minute-by-minute what she said or did - like everybody else that day she was trying to make sense of what she was seeing; what she was being told; and what was being told to her by colleagues in London who were monitoring feeds and wires services. Trying to make sense of what she was being told? She obviously didn't make much sense of the fact that the Building she was reporting had collapsed was prominently standing behind her! Unfotunately, for a news organization that prides itself on accuracy and credibility, "she doesn't remember" just doesn't cut it as an excuse.

BBC included a screenshot of yesterday's Prison Planet article in their brief response. http://www.informationliberation.com/?id=20558

4. We no longer have the original tapes of our 9/11 coverage (for reasons of cock-up, not conspiracy). So if someone has got a recording of our output, I'd love to get hold of it. We do have the tapes for our sister channel News 24, but they don't help clear up the issue one way or another. We are asked to believe that the world's premiere news organization has somehow lost all its tapes of perhaps the biggest news event of the past 60 years. This is a copout. Whether they have lost the tapes or not, the BBC simply doesn't want to verify one hundred per cent their monumental foul-up, because they know it would only increase the exposure of this issue and lead to further questions. What is there to clear up? The reporter is standing in front of the building while saying it has already collapsed! This is a blatant effort to try and placate people making complaints while refusing to admit a monumental faux pas that further undermines the BBC's credibility in the aftermath of the Conspiracy Files debacle.

5. If we reported the building had collapsed before it had done so, it would have been an error - no more than that. As one of the comments on You Tube says today "so the guy in the studio didn't quite know what was going on? Woah, that totally proves conspiracy... " So now the BBC are so devoid of answers, they have to enlist the help of some moronic comment on a You Tube blog? Instead of issuing official statements and seeking the advice of legal professionals they produce a cobbled together five paragraph blog and include the testimony of some moron on a You Tube comment board. Pathetic! Answer the question BBC - what was your source for reporting on multiple occasions that Building 7 had collapsed before it had collapsed, and identify the source that enabled the anchorman to comment that the building had collapsed due to it being weakened, an explanation still unanswered by NIST five and a half years later.

If you had reported the collapse of the twin towers before it happened would that have been just an error too? This "error" translated as $800 million plus in insurance bounty for Larry Silverstein - I'm sure Industrial Risk Insurers would be interested to know the source of your "error." In addition, two seperate sources reported that Secret Service Agent Craig Miller died as a result of the collapse of Building 7. Do you think he would have been interested in the "error" that led to your correspondent reporting the building's downfall in advance?

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Your real tax rate: 40%

By Scott Burns

Income taxes, sales taxes, property taxes, Social Security and Medicare taxes, 'sin' taxes and the rest add up to a virtual flat tax nationwide.

We have a national flat tax, albeit one with bumps and potholes.

The fact that the political parties won't acknowledge this is one reason they are doing a disservice to the voting public.

Instead, both parties have a vested interest in the theatrical possibilities created by the idea of graduated tax rates. Notice that I said "the idea of" graduated tax rates. That should not be confused with reality.

Democrats argue that taxes on the rich should be raised because others need the money. This wins votes from the legions of voters who aren't rich.

Republicans argue, with great piety, that high taxes crush incentives and should be reduced, and that only then will the American way see a new dawn.

Politicians talk this way because they generally talk about only one tax: the federal income tax, which offers graduated rates from 10% to 35%.

Politicians rarely talk about what real people experience: the true maze of taxes and government benefits. If someone put them all together, we could see what our actual tax burden was. We could see who pays at the highest or lowest rates. Discussions of tax policy wouldn't be a waste of time.

Well, two researchers did it.

In a study for the National Bureau of Economic Research, Boston University economists Laurence J. Kotlikoff and David Rapson have found that our all-in marginal tax rate is 40%, give or take a bit. Yes, you read that right: 40%.

Most workers will pay about that much on each dollar of income when all taxes -- federal and state income taxes, sales taxes, taxes for benefit programs, etc. -- are considered.

As a consequence, a 30-year-old couple earning only $20,000 a year has a marginal tax rate of 42.5%, while a 45-year-old couple earning $500,000 pays at 43.2%. There are some exceptions: A 30-year-old couple earning $50,000 a year, for instance, pays 24.4%, and a 60-year-old couple making $150,000 a year faces a tax rate of 47.7%.

The average marginal tax rate on incomes between $20,000 and $500,000 is 40.3%, the median tax rate is 41.8%, and the standard deviation of all of those rates is 5.3 percentage points. Basically, most of us pay about 40%, plus or minus 5.3 percentage points.

That's not a big range, particularly when you notice that it covers an income rise of 2,500%.

So I have a modest proposal: Ask your senators or representative if they have a clue about this. If they don’t, regardless of party, they shouldn't be in office. Vote accordingly.

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