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Depleted uranium risk 'ignored'

UK and US forces have continued to use depleted uranium weapons despite warnings they pose a cancer risk, a BBC investigation has found.

Scientists have pointed to health statistics in Iraq, where the weapons were used in the 1991 and 2003 wars.

A report by the World Health Organisation (WHO) in 2001 said they posed only a small contamination risk.

But a senior UN scientist said research showing how depleted uranium could cause cancer was withheld.

The UK Ministry of Defence said that there was no evidence linking depleted uranium use to ill health.

Depleted uranium is extremely dense and hard, and is used for armour-piercing bullets or shells.

Fears over health implications led to a study by the WHO in 2001.

Dr Mike Repacholi, who oversaw work on the report, told Angus Stickler of BBC Radio Four's Today programme that depleted uranium was "basically safe".

"You would have to ingest a huge amount of depleted uranium dust to cause any adverse health effect," he said.

'Risk from particles'

But Dr Keith Baverstock, who worked on the project, said research conducted by the US Department of Defense suggested otherwise.

He described a process known as genotoxicity, which begins when depleted uranium dust is inhaled.

"The particles that dissolve pose a risk - part radioactive - and part from the chemical toxicity in the lung," he said.

Later, he said, the material enters the body and the blood stream, potentially affecting bone marrow, the lymphatic system and the kidneys.

The research was not included in the WHO report, and Dr Baverstock believes it was blocked.

Mr Repacholi said the findings were not corroborated by other reports and it was not WHO policy to publish "speculative" data. He denied any pressure was brought to bear.

But other senior scientists have pointed to worrying health statistics in Iraq, which show a rise in cancer and birth defects.

Prof Randy Parrish of the Isotope Geosciences Laboratory in the UK said environmental and health assessments were needed in Iraq to establish the facts.

Iraqi scientists trained by the UN are seeking to carry out such an assessment, but Henrik Slotte of the United Nations Environmental Programme said without clear information from the US on what was used and where, it was "like looking for a needle in a haystack".

He said there was "no indication" this information was forthcoming from the US.

A spokesman for the UK's Ministry of Defence, meanwhile, told the BBC that there was "no scientific or medical evidence" to link depleted uranium use to sickness in Iraq.

He said the MOD was aware of recent research into the effects of depleted uranium at cellular level, but that it had to be guided by "the professional advice of the Health Protection Agency and the International Commission on Radiological Protection".

DEPLETED URANIUM

Has a reduced proportion of isotope Uranium-235

Less radioactive than natural uranium and very dense Military uses include defensive armour plating, armour-penetrating ordnance Can be inhaled as dust or ingested in contaminated food and water near impact sites Used in Iraq, the former Yugoslavia

"There is no scientific or medical evidence to link depleted uranium with the ill health of people living in the Gulf region"

UK Ministry of Defence

Michael Moore Responds to Treasury Secretary's Investigation Threat

By Michael Moore, AlterNet

Posted on May 12, 2007, Printed on May 12, 2007

http://www.alternet.org/story/51794/

Open Letter from Michael Moore to U.S. Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson

Secretary Henry Paulson

Department of the Treasury

Secretary Paulson,

I am contacting you in light of the document sent to me dated May 2, 2007, which was received May 7, 2007 indicating that an investigation has been opened up with regards to a trip I took to Cuba with a group of Americans that included some 9/11 heroes in March 2007 related to the filming of my next documentary, on the American Healthcare system. SiCKO, which will be seen in theaters this summer, will expose the health care industry's greed and control over America's political processes.

I believe that the decision to conduct this investigation represents the latest example of the Bush Administration abusing the federal government for raw, crass, political purposes. Over the last seven years of the Bush Presidency, we have seen the abuse of government to promote a political agenda designed to benefit the conservative base of the Republican Party, special interests and major financial contributors. From holding secret meetings for the energy industry to re-writing science findings to cooking the books on intelligence to the firing of U.S. Attorneys, this Administration has shown time and time again that it will abuse its power and authority.

There are a number of specific facts that have led me to conclude that politics could very well be driving this Bush Administration investigation of me and my film.

First, the Bush Administration has been aware of this matter for months (since October 2006) and never took any action until less than two weeks before SiCKO is set to premiere at the Cannes Film Festival and a little more than a month before it is scheduled to open in the United States.

Second, the health care and insurance industry, which is exposed in the movie and has expressed concerns about the impact of the movie on their industries, is a major corporate underwriter of President George W. Bush and the Republican Party, having contributed over $13 million to the Bush presidential campaign in 2004 and more than $180 million to Republican candidates over the last two campaign cycles.

It is well documented that the industry is very concerned about the impact of SiCKO. They have threatened their employees if they talk to me. They have set up special internal crises lines should I show up at their headquarters. Employees have been warned about the consequences of participating in SiCKO. Despite this, some employees, at great risk to themselves, have gone on camera to tell the American people the truth about the health care industry. I can understand why that industry's main recipient of its contributions -- President Bush -- would want to harass, intimidate and potentially prevent this film from having its widest possible audience.

And, third, this investigation is being opened in the wake of misleading attacks on the purpose of the Cuba trip from a possible leading Republican candidate for president, Fred Thompson, a major conservative newspaper, The New York Post, and various right wing blogs.

For five and a half years, the Bush administration has ignored and neglected the heroes of the 9/11 community. These heroic first responders have been left to fend for themselves, without coverage and without care. I understand why the Bush administration is coming after me -- I have tried to help the very people they refuse to help, but until George W. Bush outlaws helping your fellow man, I have broken no laws and I have nothing to hide.

I demand that the Bush Administration immediately end this investigation and spend its time and resources trying to support some of the real heroes of 9/11.

Sincerely,

Michael Moore

Michael Moore is an Academy award-winning filmmaker and author of "Dude, Where's My Country?"

...................................

Controversial Michael Moore Flick "Sicko" Will Compare U.S. Health Care with Cuba's

By Don Hazen, AlterNet

Posted on April 23, 2007, Printed on April 23, 2007

http://www.alternet.org/story/50911/

To state that controversy and Michael Moore go hand and hand is to utter the obvious, and Moore's latest film Sicko will clearly be no exception.

Sicko, which will be premiering at the Cannes Film Festival in May, is a comic broadside against the state of American health care, including the mental health system. The film targets drug companies and the HMOS in the richest country in the world -- where the most money is spent on health care, but where the U.S. ranks 21st in life expectancy among the 30 most developed nations, obviously in part due to the fact that 47 million people are without health insurance.

The timing of Moore's film is propitious. Twenty-two percent of Americans say that health care is the most pressing issue in America. Health care will clearly be a major issue in the upcoming presidential campaign, as the problems with America's health care system have mushroomed during the Bush administration. For example, between 2001 and 2005 the number of people without health insurance rose 16.6 percent. The average health insurance premiums for a family of four are $10,880, which exceeds the annual gross income of $10,712 for a full-time, minimum-wage worker. In addition, the lack of insurance causes 18,000 excess deaths a year while people without health insurance have 25 percent higher mortality rates. Fifty-nine percent of uninsured people with chronic conditions such as asthma or diabetes skip medicine or go without care.

Under wraps, but one surprise out of the bag

The details of Moore's new film are being kept under tight wraps. According to inside sources, only a handful of people have seen the film, and both the film maker and Harvey Weinstein -- the film's distributor, who also distributed Moore's hugely successful Fahrenheit 9/11 -- are remaining tight-lipped about the film's contents.

Nevertheless, one aspect of the film will not be a total surprise. One of the film's segments, an increasingly controversial boat trip to Cuba, exploded onto the pages of The New York Post, the Rupert Murdoch-owned tabloid, when at least one 9/11 cleanup worker who had been invited to participate in a trip to Cuba for Moore's Sicko went to the press.

The boat trip, according to sources who spoke to both the NY Post and The Daily News, took ailing rescue workers to Cuba for health treatment for respiratory ailments which they suffer as a result of working at Ground Zero, and for which a number of the workers have no health insurance. The purpose of the trip, according to some, was to show that the free health care in Cuba is superior to the health care system in the U.S. Those invited on the trip, as described by Janon Fisher in the Post, were told the "Cuban doctors had developed new techniques for treating lung cancer and other respiratory illnesses," and that health care in Cuba was free.

Health care advances in Cuba

According to the Associated Press as cited in the Post article, "Cuba has made recent advancements in biotechnology and exports its treatments to 40 countries around the world, raking in an estimated $100 million a year. ... In 2004, the U.S. government granted an exception to its economic embargo against Cuba and allowed a California drug company to test three cancer vaccines developed in Havana."

Although trip participants signed confidentiality agreements prohibiting them from talking about the trip, some thought the trip a success. From the NY Post:

"From what I hear through the grapevine those people who went are utterly happy, said John Feal, who runs the Fealgood Foundation to raise money for responders and was approached by Moore to find responders willing to take the trip. "They got the Elvis treatment."

According to staff writer Bill Hutchinson from the Daily News, Moore was praised for seeking medical alternatives. Retired Firefighter Vinnie Forras, 49, said he's been going to Ecuador and Bolivia for experimental treatments for lung damage and severe headaches which he suffered at Ground Zero. "For me, anyone who's looking to try to help the guys and women who are sick is a good thing. I don't care where you go for that treatment."

On the other hand, some balked at the idea of going: "I would rather die an American than go to Cuba," Joe Picurro told the NY Post. Picurro, an ironworker with a laundry list of respiratory and other ailments, said, "I just laughed. I couldn't do it. "

America's second-class health care system

Clearly one of the themes of Moore's films, highlighted by the trip to Cuba, is to challenge the myth that the U.S. has superior health care when compared with other countries. In a recent AlterNet article, attorney Guy Saperstein explained,

"The World Health Organization ranks health care systems based on objective measures of medical outcomes: The United States' health care system currently ranks 37th in the world, behind Colombia and Portugal; the United States ranks 44th in the world in infant mortality, behind many impoverished Latin American countries. While infant mortality in the United States is skewed toward poor people, who have rates double the wealthy, the top quintile of the U.S. population has infant mortality rates higher than Canadians in the lowest quintile of wealth.

"The United States has fewer physicians, nurses and hospital beds than most developed nations. In the United States, 28 percent say it is "difficult to get care"; in most European countries, Japan, Australia and New Zealand, 15 percent say that. In terms of continuity of care (i.e., five-plus years with the same doctor), the United States is the worst of all developed nations. By every objective measure, the United States has a second-rate health care system." It is unclear how soon after Cannes Sicko will open in U.S. theaters. But with the aggressive and often Oscar hungry Weinstein at the distribution helm, there is little doubt that the movie will make a big splash, bubbling up many more controversies. Moore's film has been a long time coming -- three years since his huge success with Fahrenheit 9/11, which was awarded the Palme d'Or (Golden Palm), the festival's highest award, by an international jury in 2004, and an Academy Award for best documentary later that year. Legend has it that while Moore has been critical of Cuba, he became a hero there after a pirated version of Fahrenheit 9/11 was shown on government-controlled TV. It's ironic that Cuba showed a free version, because the film has made boatloads of money. According to the Wikipedia, "As of January 2005, [Fahrenheit 9/11] had broken all box office records for a documentary grossing nearly US $120 million in U.S. box office, and over US $220 million worldwide, an unprecedented amount for a political documentary; Sony reported first-day DVD sales of two million copies, again a new record for the genre." Only time will tell if Moore can duplicate his success.

Don Hazen is the executive editor of AlterNet.

US 'will keep Iranian detainees'

http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/middle_east/6556665.stm

The US is to continue holding five Iranians captured in Iraq despite protests from Tehran, US media said.

The fate of the five sparked disagreement, with the White House overruling the State Department on the issue, the Washington Post reported.

Administration officials have not commented on the report.

The US says the men seized in a January raid on Iran's consulate in Irbil are linked to the Revolutionary Guard. Iran says they are diplomats.

The US accuses the Revolutionary Guard of providing support to insurgents.

Review

The issue has further raised tension between the US and Iran, which has demanded that the men be released.

The decision was made at a high-level meeting on Tuesday, the Washington Post said.

Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice reportedly argued that the five Iranians be released because they were "no longer useful".

But Vice President Dick Cheney's office said their capture signalled that Iranian activities were monitored and their operatives at risk of detention, the daily said.

The meeting concluded that the five men should remain in custody and undergo the same six-monthly review used for other foreign detainees held in Iraq, the newspaper quoted officials as saying.

The next such review is reported to be in July.

The US accuses Iran of providing arms, money and military training to Shia insurgents in Iraq. Some commentators have suggested Iran's arrest of 15 UK navy personnel in the Gulf was connected to the Irbil detentions, although Iranian officials have dismissed any link.

The CIA -- a Terrorist Organization

Agency uses same tactics it claims to be fighting

By Claudia Nelson

The United States Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) can be considered a terrorist organization according to both international and American definitions of terrorism.

Since September 2001, U.S. President George W. Bush announced that he would use all his resources to fight terrorist organizations and declared a war on terror, which he legally cannot do, since according to the United States Constitution only the Congress can declare war, and it must be declared on a specific source.

Terrorism is a general term used to describe violence or other harmful acts carried out for achieving political ends. Most definitions of terrorism include only those acts which are intended to create fear or "terror," are perpetrated for an ideological goal (as opposed to an attack by a "madman"), and deliberately target "non-combatants." According to the United States Federal Criminal Code, Chapter 113B of Part I of Title 18, terrorism is defined as

“activities that involve violent ... or life-threatening acts ... that are a violation of the criminal laws of the United States or of any State and ... appear to be intended (i) to intimidate or coerce a civilian population; (ii) to influence the policy of a government by intimidation or coercion; or (iii) to affect the conduct of a government by mass destruction, assassination, or kidnapping; and ... (C) occur primarily within the territorial jurisdiction of the United States ... [or] ... (C) occur primarily outside the territorial jurisdiction of the United States."

The U.S. Congress created the Central Intelligence Agency in 1947 with the passing of the National Security Act. The official duty of the Central Intelligence Agency is to serve as an intelligence gathering agency. The headquarters of the Central Intelligence Agency is located in Langley, Virginia, and was designated as the "George Bush Center for Intelligence” by the Clinton Administration. Former President George Herbert Walker Bush was Director of Central Intelligence from Jan. 30 1976 to Jan. 20 1977.

In reality, the CIA does not only gather information but consistently targets and engages in covert operations, psychological operations, and acts of terrorism both domestically and internationally.

CIA past operations and activities

# Operation Phoenix was an assassination program conducted by the CIA during the Vietnam conflict. Its objective was to eliminate Vietnamese who might oppose the U.S but also to terrorize the entire population of South Vietnam and to suppress opposition to the occupying U.S. forces. Over 20,000 Vietnamese were murdered, often at random.

# During the 1980s the CIA used profits from its cocaine smuggling activities to finance the Contras in Nicaragua who were responsible for the murders of tens of thousands of civilians, and it attempted to disrupt the country's economy, in order to destabilize the legitimate Sandinista government. For this, the U.S. was condemned in the World Court for "unlawful use of force," and it rejected a U.N. security council resolution calling upon it to observe international law. We must note that George Bush Sr. was vice president at the time .

# On Sept. 11, 1973, the CIA planned and organized the military coup d'etat in Chile which overthrew the legitimately elected government of Salvador Allende and brought to power the regime of General Augusto Pinochet. This regime abducted, tortured and killed thousands of Chilean citizens in an attempt to suppress opposition.

# It appears that Henry Kissinger, National Security Advisor and Secretary of State in the Nixon and Ford administrations, was closely involved diplomatically with the Southern Cone governments at the time and well-aware of Operation Condor. The first cooperation agreements were signed between the CIA and anti-Castro groups, and fascist movements such as the Triple A set up in Argentina by Jose Lopez Rega ("personal secretary" of Juan and Isabel Peron), and Rodolfo Almiron. The post-junta truth commission found that the Argentine military had "disappeared" at least 10,000 Argentines in the so-called "dirty war" against "subversion" and "terrorists" between 1976 and 1983; human rights groups in Argentina put the number at closer to 30,000. We must note that George Bush Sr, was head of the CIA at the time it began and vice president at the time it ended.

# Operation CHAOS was the most vicious aggressive domestic surveillence operation conducted on American antiwar groups and activists like Abbie Hoffman, whose objectives were to:

  • 1. Gather information on their immorality.
  • 2. Show them as scurrilous and depraved.
  • 3. Call attention to their habits and living conditions.
  • 4. Explore every possible embarrassment.
  • 5. Investigate personal conflicts or animosities between them.
  • 6. Send articles to newspapers showing their depravity.
  • 7. Use narcotics and free sex for entrapment.
  • 8. Have members arrested on marijuana charges.
  • 9. Exploit the hostilities between various persons.
  • 10. Use cartoons and photographs to ridicule them.
  • 11. Use disinformation to confuse and disrupt.
  • 12. Get records of their bank accounts.
  • 13. Obtain specimens of handwriting.
  • 14. Provoke target groups into rivalries that resulted in deaths.
  • # The CIA was allegedly involved in the April 2002, Venezuela failed coup that tried to overthrow President Hugo Chavez, who was democratically elected.

    # In 2002 the CIA distorted Iraq data to the media in order to justify George W. Bush's invasion of Iraq in 2003.

    # Most recently, former CIA employee, Luis Posada Carriles, who is believed to be the mastermind behind the 1976 Cubana de Aviacion bombing which killed 73 people, walked free from a U.S. court Tuesday following a court ruling for his liberation.

    These are only a handful of operations; there have literally been hundreds and many are still classified as secret by the U.S. government For a time-line checkout here.

    It seems to me you cannot claim to fight terrorism or claim to be the beacon of democracy with an organization like the CIA in your ranks.

    Americans can no longer claim ignorance of the horrors committed by the CIA. They can not allow this guise of “The War on Terror" to continue, since it was started by the CIA a terrorist organization which engages in unconstitutional and illegal behavior.

    The United States Congress has the authority to dismantle the CIA just like it has the authority -- and more than enough evidence -- to impeach the Bush administration on war crimes, illegal wire tapping, and misappropriation of funds. But does it have the backbone or interest to do so?

    It does not require a majority to prevail, but rather an irate, tireless minority keen to set brush fires in people's minds. -- Samuel Adams

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