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Air Force: Nuke Missile Silo Fire Went Undetected

October 31st, 2008 - by admin

Associated Press & Air Force Times – 2008-10-31 10:29:18

http://enews.earthlink.net/article/nat?guid=20081030/49093f50_3421_1334520081030309204753

DENVER (October 30, 2008) — A fire caused $1 million worth of damage at an unmanned underground nuclear launch site last spring, but the Air Force didn’t find out about it until five days later, an Air Force official said Thursday.

The May 23 fire burned itself out after an hour or two, and multiple safety systems prevented any threat of an accidental launch of the Minuteman III missile, Maj. Laurie Arellano said. She said she was not allowed to say whether the missile was armed with a nuclear warhead at the time of the fire.

Arellano said the Air Force didn’t know a fire had occurred until May 28, when a repair crew went to the launch site — about 40 miles east of Cheyenne, Wyo., and 100 miles northeast of Denver — because a trouble signal indicated a wiring problem.

She said the flames never entered the launch tube where the missile stood and there was no danger of a radiation release.

The fire, blamed on a faulty battery charger, burned a box of shotgun shells, a shotgun and a shotgun case that were kept in the room, Arellano said. A shotgun is a standard security weapon at missile silos.

Arellano said the battery chargers at all U.S. missile launch site have been replaced.

She said the incident wasn’t reported sooner because of the complexity of the investigation.

The damage from the fire was estimated at $1 million, including the cost of replacing damaged equipment and cleanup.

An Air Force report of the incident released Thursday found flaws in the technical orders for assembling battery charger parts, inspection procedures and modifications of the launch complex ventilation system. It was also critical of the presence of flammable materials.

Cheyenne Mayor Jack Spiker, who said he learned of the incident when contacted by a reporter Thursday, said the fire doesn’t undermine his confidence in the safety of the missile operations.

“It’s rare that they have an accident, and the accidents have never really, that I know of, amounted to much because of the safety devices that are built into the system,” he said.

The revelation was the latest in a string of embarrassing missteps involving the nation’s nuclear arsenal. In 2006, four electrical fuses for ballistic missile warheads were mistakenly shipped to Taiwan, and in 2007, a B-52 bomber was mistakenly armed with six nuclear-tipped missiles when it flew between Air Force bases in North Dakota and Louisiana.

The Air Force announced last week it was setting up a new Global Strike Command to better manage its nuclear-capable bombers and missiles.

Associated Press writer Matt Joyce in Cheyenne, Wyo., contributed to this report. Copyright 2008 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

© 2008 EarthLink, Inc. All rights reserved.

Posted in accordance with Title 17, Section 107, US Code, for noncommercial, educational purposes.


Fire in Missile Room Not Found for 5 Days
Michael Hoffman / Air Force Times

(October 31, 2008) — A fire broke out inside the equipment room of a launch facility that houses a nuclear armed intercontinental ballistic missile at F.E. Warren Air Force Base, Wyo., on May 23.

No damage was done to the nuclear missile and no one was hurt at the unmanned launch facility, said Air Force Space Command officials.

The damage from the fire, which extinguished itself, was not discovered until five days after it started during a thunderstorm that temporarily knocked out power at the site, said Maj. Laurie Arellano, a Space Command spokeswoman.

An investigation board found the fire was started by a faulty battery charger that created a plume of hydrogen gas inside the facility. The gas was ignited by a spark from a loose connection inside the charger when the facility switched over to battery power during the storm.

The fire, which caused over $1 million of damage to equipment, burned through several cables that lead to the nuclear-armed ICBM. However, the fire never made it out of the equipment room and into the launch tube.

If the fire had made it to the nuclear missile, there was no risk of an inadvertent launch, explosion or release of nuclear material due to its advanced design, Arellano said. Despite the fire the missile was not once taken off alert.

A shotgun storage case also was burned, including the shotgun and the shells, but investigators found the shells didn’t explode.

Missile maintenance personnel discovered soot from the fire when they arrived to fix what they thought was a problem with the missile’s suspension, which the burned cables monitored.

Arellano said it took five days for anyone to check the missile because other priorities outweighed what appeared at the time to be a minor problem.

Since the fire, almost every battery charger has been replaced at launch facilities across the service. Duct tape on wires and the foam insulation inside shotgun cases have also been removed from the launch facilities to reduce the risk of fire.

Posted in accordance with Title 17, Section 107, US Code, for noncommercial, educational purposes.

Reports from Inside Iraq: Mosul Siege, Baghdad Security Falters; Mass Graves Reappear

October 30th, 2008 - by admin

areer Mohammed / Azzaman & Ahmad Arhimiya / Azzaman – 2008-10-30 23:02:16

http://www.azzaman.com/english/index.asp?fname=news2008-10-28kurd.htm

Prices Soar in Mosul as Troops Mass for New Offensive
Jareer Mohammed / Azzaman

(October 28, 2008) — The government is massing troops in the restive Mosul in preparation for a large-scale offensive to subdue the northern city. Mosul is Iraq’s second largest city after Baghdad with nearly two million inhabitants.

Thousands of troops with heavy military gear have already been deployed inside the city particularly its western side. The troops have set up scores of checkpoints and cordoned off neighborhoods in search of suspects.

It will be the third massive military offensive on the city in one year. The previous two, in which large numbers of U.S. occupation troops took part, failed to bring peace to the city.

Security has deteriorated in the city despite the presence of thousands of Kurdish militias known as Peshmerga there. An anti-Christian campaign which has so far been confined to the Kurdish-controlled areas has forced more than 2,500 Christian families to flee.

Fears of renewed fighting in the city have prompted residents to stockpile on food and other essentials. Transport fees have skyrocketed from 30,000 dinars a month to more than 60,000. The soaring fee and temporary curfews imposed on certain districts as well as the blocking of main streets have forced many employees and students to stay at home.

Mahmoud Abdulwahid, a retired teacher, says the city’s main streets are blocked and that makes it difficult for civil servants to reach offices and students to catch up with classes. One female Mosul University employee, refusing to be named, said she cannot make it to the campus under current circumstances.

Muyaser Khaleel said he was worried that the new offensive would take a lot of time, exacerbating the hardships Mosul has been suffering from. Many shops are closed because owners are unable to leave homes due to the temporary closure of many streets in the city.

With residents stockpiling, prices of essentials have skyrocketed. A kilogram of buffalo cream, a delicacy of Mosul and almost a staple for many families, has soared to 17,000 dinars from 14.

One U.S. dollar buys 1,200 Iraqi dinars. Meat has risen to 14,000 dinars from 10,000. Average civil servant monthly salary in Iraq is about $300 but unemployment is rampant and it is estimated at around 5% in Mosul.


Baghdad Not as ‘Secure’ as Government Claims, Residents Say
Ahmad Arhimiya / Azzaman

(October 13, 2008) — The security situation in Baghdad has aggravated recently amid a rise in car bombings and attacks directed mainly at government troops.

Residents say conditions are worsening in the Iraqi capital once again despite the heavy presence of Iraqi security forces and a surge in number of checkpoints.

The troops have complicated life in the city as they regularly cordon off streets and areas, set up temporary checkpoints and shut streets and bridges to traffic. Some residents spend most of the day in their cars before reaching their offices or shops.

“There is a direct link between traffic jams and security. Congested streets in Baghdad are an indication of an upsurge in insecurity,” said a resident refusing to be named.

Snipers have returned to the city but now they aim their bullets solely at Iraqi troops. Car bombers have made a comeback with three major bombings killing and injuring scores of people last week.

“The only sign of relative security is that fewer Americans are being killed. Otherwise, almost everything is the same,” said another resident on condition of anonymity.

Troops are being deployed and redeployed in the light of needs and attacks. Some Iraqi army units are applying U.S. Marines’ methods during their deployment. They try to close roads they use to traffic and forbid Iraqi drivers approaching their convoys.

The universities in Baghdad complain that attacks and traffic jams have made it difficult to resume teaching on a regular basis after the summer holidays.

“We cannot guarantee that attendance of both staff and faculty will return to normal under these conditions,” said a Baghdad University official.

Last week a car laden with explosives went off in the district of Bayaa, killing nine people and injuring 15.

Lt. Gen. Qassem Atta, an army spokesman, said there has been “a notable rise in the number of snipers” in Baghdad recently. He said two soldiers at a checkpoint were killed by sniper fire in the Mansour Disctrict. “The troops have cordoned off the area in search of the criminals,” he said.

Two more soldiers have been killed by sniper fire in Baghdad, Atta said. More attacks have targeted army patrols and checkpoints in the Palestine District, according to Atta.


Iraq’s U.S.-era Mass Grave Uncovered
Azzaman

(October 16, 2008) — An Iraqi army unit has unearthed a mass grave of 22 bodies buried in an area west of the religious city of Karbala. It is the latest in a series of mass graves of the new Iraq which the U.S. invaded in 2003 and still administers and occupies.

Mass graves were a feature of the former regime of Saddam Hussein and they were among the excuses the U.S. used to justify its invasion of the country, promising a new, mass-grave-free era. But Iraqis have almost forgotten about Saddam Hussein’s mass graves as the atrocities perpetrated in the country since the arrival of U.S. troops are said to be even worse.

“The fourth battalion of the Iraqi army last Thursday came across a mass grave containing 22 bodies armed groups had killed and dumped together about a month ago,” an army source said.

A medical source at Karbala hospital confirmed the army report and said the bodies were transferred to the hospital morgue.

“We have received 22 mutilated and decomposed bodies. We have not being able to give their identities but are certain 21 of them are males. One body is so decomposed that we can identity the gender,” the source said.

Almost a month ago unidentified gunmen, wearing army uniforms and driving army vehicles, had kidnapped 22 nomads north of Karbala.

It is not clear yet whether the bodies are those of the kidnapped nomads. But their relatives say they have heard nothing about them since their adduction.

Posted in accordance with Title 17, Section 107, US Code, for noncommercial, educational purposes.

Uranium Weapons Briefing

October 30th, 2008 - by admin

International Coalition to Ban Uranium Weapons ICBUW – 2008-10-30 22:53:24

http://www.bandepleteduranium.org

What is depleted uranium and how is it used in weapons?
Depleted Uranium (DU) is nuclear waste. Uranium naturally occurs as three different isotopes U234, U235 and U238. Isotopes are atoms of the same element that have different numbers of neutrons but the same number of protons. This means that they behave in the same way chemically, but different isotopes release different amounts and kinds of radiation

The radioactive properties of DU, which is chiefly uranium 238, differ from those of uranium 235. Unlike U238, U235 is fissionable. This means that it is so unstable that firing neutrons at it can produce a selfsustaining series of nuclear reactions, releasing huge amounts of energy. This is the basis of nuclear weapons and nuclear power. However, before U235 is used, it needs to be concentrated as it only makes up a small proportion of naturally occurring uranium, around 0.7%. U238 makes up more than 99% of natural uranium and is less radioactive. After natural uranium has had most of the U235 removed from it, it is called ‘depleted uranium’ i.e. uranium depleted in the isotope U235. Each kilo of reactor ready enriched uranium produced leaves you with about 7 kilos of DU

Depleted Uranium itself is a chemically toxic and radioactive compound, which is used in armour piercing munitions because of its very high density. It is 1.7 times denser than lead, giving DU weapons increased range and penetrative power. They belong to a class of weapons called kinetic energy penetrators. The part of the weapon that is made of DU is called a penetrator: this is a long dart weighing more than four kilograms in the largest examples: it is neither a tip nor a coating. The penetrator is usually an alloy of DU and a small amount of another metal such as titanium and molybdenum. These give it extra strength and resistance to corrosion

Three U.S. companies produce large calibre DU tank rounds: Alliant Techsystems (120mm), Day & Zimmermann (120mm) and the former Primex Technologies, now General Dynamics Ordnance and Tactical Systems (105mm and 120mm). Other companies – located in China, France, India, Serbia, the former Soviet Union, and Pakistan – also produce large calibre tank rounds. Alliant Techsystems, the largest ammunition manufacturers in the US also produce small calibre rounds (25mm, 30mm) for guns on U.S. aircraft and fighting vehicles.

The UK-based firm BAE Systems produced 120mm shells for the UK armed forces until 2003, when they ceased production on ‘environmental’ grounds.1 In addition to armour-piercing penetrators, DU is used as armour in US M1A1 and M1A2 battle tanks and in small amounts in some types of landmines (M86 PDM and ADAM), both types contain 0.101g of DU as a catalyst. 432 ADAM antipersonnel landmines were used on the Kuwaiti battlefields during the 1991 Gulf War. Both M86 PDM and ADAM mines remain in U.S. stockpiles. Patents exist for the use of a ‘dense metal’ as ballast in large ‘bunker busting’ bombs; such weapons have been deployed but it is unclear whether they contain DU, tungsten or a third high density substance, as their contents remain classified

Where has depleted uranium been used and who uses it?
Governments have often initially denied using DU because of public health concerns. It is now clear that DU was used on a large scale by the US and the UK in the Gulf War in 1991, then in Bosnia, Serbia and Kosovo, and again in the war in Iraq by the US and the UK in 2003. It is suspected that the US also used DU in Afghanistan in 2001, although both the US and UK governments have denied using it there

However, leaked transport documents suggest that US forces in Afghanistan have DU weapons.2 The continued use of A10 ‘Warthog’ aircraft in support of NATO ground troops indicates that DU may be being used there

At least 17 countries are thought to have DU weapon systems in their arsenals. These include: UK, US, France, Russia, Greece, Turkey, Israel, Saudi Arabia, Bahrain, Oman, Egypt, Kuwait, Pakistan, Thailand, China, India and Taiwan. Many of them were sold DU ammunition by the US while others, including France, Russia, Pakistan, China and India developed it independently

Why is it a problem?
The DU oxide dust produced when DU munitions burn has no natural or historical analogue. This toxic and radioactive dust is composed of two oxides: one insoluble, the other sparingly soluble. The distribution of particle sizes includes sub-micron particles that are readily inhaled into and retained by the lungs. From the lungs uranium compounds are deposited in the lymph nodes, bones, brain and testes. Hard targets hit by DU penetrators are surrounded by this dust and surveys suggest that it can travel many kilometres when re-suspended, as is likely in arid climates. The dust can then be inhaled or ingested by civilians and the military alike. It is thought that DU is the cause of a sharp increase in the incidence rates of some cancers, such as breast cancer and lymphoma, in areas of Iraq following 1991 and 2003. It has also been implicated in a rise in birth defects from areas adjacent to the main Gulf War battlefields

Soft target impacts, typical of aircraft strikes, tend to leave the penetrators partially intact as the vast majority miss their targets. In the Balkans more than 31,000 30mm penetrators were fired; UNEP reported that these corroding penetrators were likely to contaminate groundwater and drinking water supplies and should be removed.3 While we have a reasonable idea how much DU was used in the Balkans (12,700kg) and the 1991 Gulf War (290,300kg), there is little data on the extent of its use following the 2003 invasion in Iraq. One estimate put the total at 140,000kg by early 2004; with far more being used in urban areas than in 1991

This was chiefly a product of a move towards asymmetric warfare but also an increasingly casual approach to DU’s use. The US consistently refused to release data on the locations of DU strikes to UNEP and post-conflict instability has made assessing the true extent of contamination virtually impossible

The health effects of depleted uranium: radioactivity
The chief radiological hazard from uranium 238 is alpha radiation. When inhaled or ingested, alpha radiation is the most damaging form of ionising radiation. However, as U238 decays into its daughter products thorium and protactinium, both beta and gamma radiation are released, increasing the radiation burden further. Therefore DU particles must be considered as a dynamic mixture of radioactive isotopes

Inside the body alpha radiation is incredibly disruptive. The heavy, highly charged particles leave a trail of ionised free radicals in their wake, disrupting finely tuned cellular processes. In one day, one microgram, (one millionth of a gram), of pure DU can release 1000 alpha particles. Each particle is charged with more than four million electron volts of energy; this goes directly into whichever organ or tissue it is lodged in. It only requires 6 to 10 electron volts to break a DNA strand in a cell and these emissions cover a sphere with a radius of 6 cells.4 Novel effects from internal emitters are highlighting the hazards posed by exposure to internal alpha radiation.5 This includes the Bystander Effect – whereby cells adjacent to those struck by alpha particles also exhibit signs of radiation damage, and Genomic Instability, where the descendents of radiation damaged cells show increased rates of mutations: the precursor to cancer growth. Ionizing radiation is a human carcinogen at every dose-level, not just at high doses; there is no threshold dose and any alpha particle can cause irreparable genetic damage

The health effects of depleted uranium: chemical toxicity
Detailed research into uranium’s chemical toxicity began in the 1940s, since then it has become clear that, like many other heavy metals, such as lead, chromium, nickel and mercury, uranium exposure can be damaging to health. While many studies have only investigated the possibility of kidney damage, since 1991, and triggered by concerns over DU, dozens of papers have highlighted other, more worrying effects of uranium toxicity. Repeated cellular and animal studies have shown that uranium is a kidney toxin, neurotoxin, immunotoxin, mutagen, carcinogen and teratogen. Compared to the uranium naturally present in the environment and the ore in mine workings, DU dust is a concentrated form of uranium

Uranium has been shown to cause oxidative damage to DNA.6 Recent studies in hamsters found that uranium formed uranium-DNA adducts (bonds), these make it more likely that the DNA will be repaired incorrectly.7 If this occurs, adducts can lead to genetic mutations that may be replicated leading to carcinogensis. In mice, uranium has been shown to irreparably damage white blood cells and alter gene expression.8 In 2007 DU compounds were shown to damage experimental human lung cells and disrupt DNA repair.9, 10 Such findings, and others, suggest that not only is DU highly toxic, but that its toxicity and radioactivity may combine to create a synergistic effect, amplifying each other, and thereby increasing the damage caused to cellular structures and mechanisms – which in turn express themselves as tumours or a range of whole-body symptoms. 11

International Commission on Radiological Protection
The ICRP is an undemocratic, self-sustaining body, which issues recommendations to governments and supranational bodies on radiological protection. They make political choices between dose received and the benefit obtained to society; a job that many would say should be left to politicians. While its members appear strong on radiation physics, they have been criticised for being significantly weaker on radiobiology. The ICRP uses data from the Hiroshima and Nagasaki blasts to estimate radiation health risk. Japanese bomb victims were mainly exposed to an acute burst of external gamma rays and neutrons. As has been shown, long-term environmental DU contamination leads to chronic internal exposure from alpha radiation, thus rendering the ICRP’s whole body and organ dose rates largely irrelevant. Furthermore, their dose estimates are based on the ‘average man’ in spite of the fact that young children and pregnant mothers are at a much greater risk from ionising radiation

World Health Organisation
In 2001 the WHO released a report claiming that, except in exceptional circumstances, DU exposure was not a public health concern.12 Subsequently it has emerged that key papers by the US Department of Defence on DU’s genotoxicity were excluded from the report. Dr Keith Baverstock who worked with the WHO’s Radiological Protection Unit believes that pressure to ignore the research came from the highest levels.13 It is clear that the WHO is only as strong as it is allowed to be by the member states that financially support it. Further confusion comes from its relationship to its sister agencies, such as the International Atomic Energy Agency, whose remit is to promote the use of nuclear power. The report used the same ICRP models that have been shown to be incapable of accurately modelling the effects of internal radioactive emitters

US Armed Forces Radiobiology Institute
Between 2000 and 2003, Dr Alexandra Miller of AFFRI was at the forefront of US Government sponsored research into DU’s chemical toxicity and radioactivity. Through a series of peer-reviewed papers, Dr Miller and her colleagues demonstrated for the first time that internalised DU oxides could result in “a significant enhancement of urinary mutagenicity”, that they can transform human cells into cells capable of producing cancerous tumours in mice with suppressed immune systems and that DU was capable of inducing DNA damage in the absence of significant radioactive decay, i.e. through its chemical toxicity alone. In one study, 76% of mice implanted with DU pellets developed leukaemia.14

The legal status of depleted uranium weapons
Although no sole treaty explicitly banning the use of DU is yet in force, it is clear that using DU runs counter to the basic rules and principles enshrined in written and customary International Humanitarian Law. This relates to: The general principle on the protection of civilian populations from the effects of hostilities; the principle that the right of the parties to an armed conflict to choose their methods or means of warfare is not unlimited; the principle that the employment in armed conflicts of weapons, projectiles, and material and methods of warfare of a nature likely to cause superfluous injury or unnecessary suffering is forbidden; the prohibition of the use of poisonous weapons according to Art. 23 para.1 of the Hague Regulations and the rules of the Poison Gas Protocol; the prohibition of widespread damage to the natural environment and unjustified destruction according to the Hague Regulations and the First Additional Protocol to the Geneva Conventions; the principle of ‘humanitarian proportionality’, which is contained in the St. Petersburg Declaration

Additionally both Humanitarian Law and Environmental Law are based on the principle of precaution and proportionality, to which at the very least, states should adhere. Two resolutions of the Sub- Commission to the UN Commission on Human Rights (1996/16 and 1997/36) state that the use of uranium ammunition is not in conformity with existing International and Human Rights Law.15 There is increasing worldwide support for a DU ban. In 2007 Belgium became the first country in the world to ban all conventional weapons containing uranium with other states set to follow their example.16 Meanwhile the Italian government agreed to a 170m Euro compensation package for personnel exposed in the Balkans.17 Later that year the UN General Assembly passed a resolution highlighting serious health concerns over DU and in May 2008, an overwhelming majority in the European Parliament strengthened four previous calls for a moratorium by calling for a DU ban treaty in a wide-ranging resolution.18, 19

ICBUW – The International Coalition to Ban Uranium Weapons
With more than 96 member organisations in 26 countries worldwide, ICBUW represents the best opportunity yet to achieve a global ban on the use of uranium in all conventional weapon systems. Even though the use of weapons containing uranium should already be illegal under International Humanitarian, Human Rights and Environmental Laws, an explicit treaty, as has been seen with chemical and biological weapons, landmines and cluster bombs, has proved the best solution for confirming their illegality. Such a treaty would not only outlaw the use of uranium weapons, but would include the prohibition of their production, the destruction of stockpiles, the decontamination of battlefields and rules on compensation for victims

ICBUW has prepared a draft treaty, which contains a general and comprehensive prohibition of the development, production, transport, storage, possession, transfer and use of uranium ammunition, uranium armour-plate and of any other military use of uranium.20 The draft treaty also outlines obligations concerning the abolition of uranium weapons and the destruction of uranium weapons construction facilities. In addition it obliges states to ensure a rapid decontamination of radioactive battlefields and test ranges, emphasising the protection of, and assistance to, civilians living in these areas and obliges states to compensate the victims

In propagating a draft treaty for a ban on uranium weapons, ICBUW is following the successful example of the Cluster Munition Coalition. ICBUW’s grassroots member organisations lobby at a national level, while ICBUW itself works with supranational bodies such as the European Parliament and the United Nations. Our work is supported by EUROMIL – the European Military Union and has received the backing of the His Holiness the Dalai Lama.21, 22 ICBUW is currently sponsoring two projects in Iraq: the Basra Epidemiological Study and the Iraqi Children’s Tooth Project.23 The former seeks to directly quantify for the first time the scale of the cancer epidemic around Basra in southern Iraq, by the careful examination of pre and post 1991 cancer records. Meanwhile the Iraqi Children’s Tooth Project aims to assess the geographical and temporal extent of DU pollution across Iraq, through analysing children’s milk teeth for uranium isotopes. You can donate to either project online at www.bandepleteduranium.org

There is a growing consensus among civil society groups, scientists and some military organisations that the health risks from DU have been seriously underestimated. Establishment scientific bodies have been slow to react to the wealth of new research into DU and policy makers have been content to ignore the claims of researchers and activists. Deliberate obfuscation by the mining, nuclear and arms industries has further hampered efforts to recognise the problem and achieve a ban.

The past failure of the UN Convention on Certain Conventional Weapons to deal with landmines and cluster bombs suggests that an independent treaty process is the best route to limiting the further use and proliferation of uranium weapons. As enshrined in the Geneva Conventions, the methods and means of warfare are not unlimited. We must not allow the short term military advantage claimed for uranium weapons to override our responsibility for the long-term welfare of people and planet

Ideas for Action
Write to your political representative or Defence Minister about your concerns

1. Contact ICBUW for more information

2. Organise a fundraising event to support ICBUW

3. Support independent DU research online at bandepleteduranium.org

4. Sign the International Ban DU petition online at bandepleteduranium.org 5. Start a group and join ICBUW

References 1 BAE CSR statement: www.baesystems.com/corporateresponsibility/2003/stakeholders/index1.htm

2. Leaked US Army transport letter: www.bandepleteduranium.org/en/a/113.html

3. United Nations Environment Programme Recommends Precautionary Action Regarding Depleted Uranium In Kosovo UNEP press release, March 2001. http://tinyurl.com/26pfck

4. Bertell, Dr R: Depleted Uranium: All the Questions About DU and Gulf War Syndrome Are Not Yet Answered, International Journal of Health Services, Volume 36, Number 3 / 2006

5. Committee Examining Radiation Risks of Internal Emitters (CERRIE), Final Report, www.cerrie.org, sponsored by the UK Dept. of Health and DEFRA

6. “Uranium induces oxidative stresss in lung epithelial cells”, A. Periyakaruppan et al., Arch. Toxicol. 8, 389-395 June 2007

7. Uranyl acetate induces hprt mutations and uranium–DNA adducts in Chinese hamster ovaries. Stearns et al. Mutagenesis.2005; 20: 417-423

8. “In Vitro Immune Toxicity of Depleted Uranium: Effects on Murine Macrophages, CD+T Cells, and Gene Expression Profiles”, Bin Wan et al., Environmental Health Perspectives 114, 85-91, January 2006

9. Particulate Depleted Uranium Is Cytotoxic and Clastogenic to Human Lung Cells. Wise et al, Chemical Research in Toxicology; 20 (5), 815 -820, 2007

10. Uranyl Acetate as a Direct Inhibitor of DNA-Binding Proteins. Hartsock et al, Chemical Research in Toxicology; 20 (5), 784 -789, 2007

11. Presentation at European Parliament by Dr Keith Baverstock, formerly of the WHO
Full text: www.bandepleteduranium.org/en/a/24.html

12. WHO Guidance on Exposure to Depleted Uranium for Medical Officers and Programme Administrators. http://tinyurl.com/aegbx

13. Interview, BBC Radio 4 Today Programme, Nov 2006. http://tinyurl.com/2do8yw

14. Leukemic transformation of hematopoietic cells in mice internally exposed to depleted uranium

Miller et al. Molecular and Cellular Biochemistry, Volume 279, Numbers 1-2 / November, 2005

15. UNHCHR resolutions: 1996: http://tinyurl.com/yqn5qv, 1997: http://tinyurl.com/ypjn75

16. Belgium Bans Uranium Weapons and Armour, www.bandepleteduranium.org/en/a/118.htm

17. Italy agrees compensation package: http://www.bandepleteduranium.org/en/a/154.html

18. UNGA passes DU Resolution: http://www.bandepleteduranium.org/en/a/152.html

19. European Parliament passes DU resolution: http://www.bandepleteduranium.org/en/a/181.html

20. Draft Convention on the prohibition of development, production, stockpiling, transfer and use of uranium weapons and on their destruction. http://www.bandepleteduranium.org/en/a/2.html

21. EUROMIL – The European Military Union Call for Global DU Ban, http://tinyurl.com/322wjx

22. Dalai Lama Backs Uranium Weapons Ban www.bandepleteduranium.org/en/a/140.html 23. Basra Epidemiological Study and Iraqi Children’s Tooth Project, www.bandepleteduranium.org/en/i/42.html

ICBUW (International Office) Bridge 5 Mill, 22a Beswick Street Ancoats, Manchester UK M4 7HR Tel: +44 (0)161 273 8293/8283 Fax: +44 (0)161 273 8293 Email: info@bandepleteduranium.org Web: www.bandepleteduranium.org

ACTION ALERT: Condemn Expanded US War on Syrian and Pakistan

October 30th, 2008 - by admin

International Action Center – 2008-10-30 22:46:47

http://www.iacenter.org/syriapakistan

CONDEMN EXPANDED US WAR
ON SYRIA AND PAKISTAN

• Sign the online petition here.

All who want to stop the Bush White House from starting another war should immediately protest the unilateral, unjustifiable and criminal October 26 U.S. assaults on Syrian and Pakistani sovereignty. Don’t let Bush get away with expanded war crimes in the Middle East. Condemn his efforts to hand a wider war to the next administration.

* Make your opposition heard NOW! Sign the online petition (text below) and send a strong, clear message to the White House, Congress, the media and the UN.

* You can also help by donating now to help circulate anti-war material in an urgent national campaign – donate online at http://iacenter.org/donate.

Online petition text:

To: U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, Security Council President Wang Guangya, President Bush, Secretary Rice, Secretary Gates, Senators Obama and McCain, and Congressional leaders
cc: members of the media

The criminal acts of war on October 26 against both Syria and Pakistan by U.S. armed forces violates the sovereignty of both countries and must be roundly condemned. The attempt by the Bush administration to justify them by invoking an expanded theory of a right to carry out acts of war on any country’s territory without permission or even consultation with the country’s government is a complete repudiation of the principle of national sovereignty on which the U.N. charter is based.

These acts of war are unjustified and illegal, and can lead to wider U.S. wars in the Middle East and South Asia. The U.S. wars in Iraq and Afghanistan have already cost hundreds of thousands of deaths and over $1 trillion.

At the same time, the entire world is in the grip of the largest economic catastrophe since the great depression. It is more urgent than ever that all the U.S. troops be brought home now and money be used for human needs, not newly expanded wars of aggression whether in Syria or Pakistan or Iran.

Sincerely,
(Your signature here)
To sign, edit and send the above statement to the U.N., administration officials, congressional leaders and the media, go to http://www.iacenter.org/syriapakistan


The International Action Center condemns the U.S. attacks of October 26 in Syria and Pakistan. Eight Syrian civilians died in the latest U.S. attack, including three children. Washington first refused to admit a U.S. role in the attack. Then the U.S. State Department defended it as a new and provocative strategy – the U.S. military forces can attack across any border of any country whenever they think it might give them a military advantage.

As U.S. Special Forces moved into Syria, a U.S. drone aircraft flew from Afghanistan into Pakistan and killed 20 Pakistanis. The Pentagon is not only expanding its war drive, it is presenting this expansion as a dangerous new doctrine.

This is the arrogant behavior that led to the two current disastrous wars that more than 70 percent of people in this country—and 90 percent in the world oppose.

Throughout the world people and governments have greeted this war doctrine with the hostility it deserves. Syria condemned the attack as “terrorist aggression”. Russia, China and Iran condemned the attack for violating Syrian sovereignty.

Even U.S. client states and allies had to dissociate themselves from the attack. This included the pro-U.S. Prime Minister Fouad Siniora of Lebanon, the U.S. client regime in Egypt, the Arab League and the rightist French government of Sarkozy. Even the puppet Iraqi regime has criticized the attack.

Faced with such broad opposition abroad, the Pentagon tried to build support at home by claiming it had killed an alleged al-Qaeda in Iraq agent. While there is no way to independently check this information, it is interesting that al-Qaeda sources say the person named has been dead since 2004. Since we’ve heard nothing but lies out of Washington since “weapons of mass destruction,” there’s no reason to believe these new “terrorist” stories from the White House. To the Pentagon every peasant family in Syria and every wedding party in Pakistan are considered “terrorist” gatherings.

This new aggression raises the danger that Bush, Cheney and the rest of the gang of war profiteers will try to use their last months in office to start a new war—perhaps against Iran. They were frustrated a year ago in this effort when 16 U.S. spy agencies publicly exposed the lack of evidence that Iran was manufacturing nuclear weapons, Washington’s favorite excuse for new aggression.

With the cooperation of both political parties and the media, from 2001 to 2003 Bush led the U.S. into two major wars of aggression and occupation, in Iraq and Afghanistan. These wars have caused hundreds of thousands of deaths, cost over a trillion dollars and turned into quagmires for the Pentagon. While they have isolated Bush, he still has three months to cause far greater destruction. And neither of the major presidential candidates is confronting and condemning the invasion of Syria or the attacks on Pakistan.

This is a time when the global economy is in crisis. Millions face unemployment, the loss of their homes, savings and futures.

Under these circumstances, it is up to independent anti-war forces to protest this latest example of blatant U.S. military aggression, to mobilize to condemn the invasion of Syria, the attacks on Pakistan and to demand: “bring the troops home now and stop further war adventures. We need jobs, housing and health care, not endless war.”

Make your opposition heard NOW!
Sign the online petition and send a strong, clear message to the White House, Congress, the media and the UN. You can sign online at http://www.iacenter.org/syriapakistan

US Afghan Troop ‘Surge’ May Need to Double

October 30th, 2008 - by admin

Pauline Jelinek / Associated Press – 2008-10-30 09:53:55

http://www.sfgate.com/cgi-bin/article.cgi?f=/c/a/2008/10/30/MNNC13QFI9.DTL

WASHINGTON (October 30, 2008) — Military planners now think they may need to send more than double the number of extra troops initially believed needed to help fight the war in Afghanistan.

The buildup in the increasingly violent campaign could amount to more than 20,000 troops rather than the originally planned 10,000, two senior defense officials said Wednesday on condition of anonymity because no new figures have been approved.

The newest calculations reflect growing requests from field commanders in recent weeks for aviation units, engineers and other skills to support the fighting units, the officials said.

Officials had been saying for months that they needed more people to train Afghan security forces and two more combat brigades – a total of some 10,000 people.

Commanders later increased that to three combat brigades plus the trainers – or some 15,000, when extra support is included.

Now, military planners say the number may have to grow again by 5,000 to 10,000 more support troops. They would be helicopter units, intelligence teams, engineers to build more bases, medical teams and others to support the fight in the undeveloped nation, where forces have to work around rugged terrain and a lack of infrastructure.

The growing numbers being quoted for the buildup in Afghanistan are not unusual.

President Bush announced in January 2007 that he would send up to 20,000 additional troops to Iraq for what since has become known as the “surge.” But the number eventually grew to 30,000 by the time commanders added requests for all the military police, additional aviation needs and other support they wanted.

In Afghanistan, it is far more difficult for troops to operate because the nation lacks roads, runways and facilities to support troops. And commanders in Afghanistan do not consider this a short-term surge in troops but rather the number that will be needed over a longer period, one official said.

It is unclear whether the number will win approval. Some officials believe it’s unwise to build too large a force in Afghanistan, where there is long-held hostility to the presence of foreign forces.

If that large a force is approved, it’s also unclear where the Pentagon would get that many extra troops for the Afghan campaign – and how quickly they could be sent.

The Defense Department already has approved the deployment of about 4,000 people – one additional Marine combat battalion and one Army brigade to be sent by January.

But with 150,000 troops committed in Iraq, the United States has not had the available troops to send to Afghanistan. Adm. Mike Mullen, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, has often noted that in Afghanistan “we do what we can, in Iraq we do what we must.”

© 2008 Hearst Communications Inc.
Posted in accordance with Title 17, Section 107, US Code, for noncommercial, educational purposes.


US Toll in Afghanistan

(October 30, 2008) — As of Wednesday, at least 553 members of the US military had died in Afghanistan, Pakistan and Uzbekistan as a result of the US invasion of Afghanistan in late 2001, according to the Defense Department. The latest deaths reported by the military:

Casey, Nicholas A., 22, Army Sgt. Canton, Ohio.

Grieco, Kevin D., 35, Army Sgt.; Bartlett, Ill.

Yurista, Trevor J., 32, Marine 1st Lt.; Pleasant Valley, N.Y.

© 2008 Hearst Communications Inc.

Pakistan Formally Protests US Missile Attacks

October 30th, 2008 - by admin

Jane Perlez / New York Times – 2008-10-30 09:52:14

http://www.sfgate.com/cgi-bin/article.cgi?f=/c/a/2008/10/30/MN6213QF4G.DTL

PESHAWAR, Pakistan (October 30, 2008) — The Pakistani government lodged a formal protest on Wednesday against US missile attacks on the Taliban and al Qaeda in the nation’s tribal areas and told the US ambassador the strikes should be stopped immediately, the Foreign Ministry said.

Ambassador Anne Patterson was summoned to the ministry two days after a missile strike by a drone aircraft in South Waziristan killed 20 people, including several local Taliban commanders.

Last Friday, a similar strike hit a religious school in North Waziristan, killing eight people, all of them militant fighters, according to local residents. There have been at least 19 US strikes against the militants in the tribal region since August.

The escalation of the missile attacks has riled the Pakistani public, and the new government led by President Asif Ali Zardari has been under pressure to distance itself from what is perceived as a US-led war on terror inside Pakistan.

Many Pakistanis, including representatives of parties in the government coalition, say they believe the increase in suicide attacks, including the bombing of the Marriott Hotel in Islamabad on Sept. 20, is a result of the US strikes.

In response to the opposition to the missile strikes, the government has taken several steps in the last week to show its sensitivity to the public hostility. A two-week, on-and-off parliamentary debate on how to tackle terrorism resulted in a broad resolution Sept. 23 calling for talks with militants who renounce violence. The resolution also said the Pakistani army, which is fighting the militants in the Bajur region of the tribal area, should withdraw as soon as possible, and be replaced by civilian law enforcement agencies.

On Tuesday, Afghan and Pakistani leaders pledged to seek talks with Taliban forces who lay down weapons.

In contrast to the calls for talks, the Bush administration has stepped up the missile strikes from the Predator pilotless aircraft after Taliban forces in the Pakistani tribal belt conducted increasingly lethal attacks against US and coalition forces in Afghanistan.

The Bush administration has also expressed concern that al Qaeda is using the ungoverned tribal areas to prepare attacks against the United States and Europe. A spokesman for the Foreign Ministry, Mohammed Sadiq, said that Patterson was told that the missile strikes are counterproductive to Pakistan’s efforts to win the allegiance of the residents of the tribal areas and to reduce their support of the militants.

“The drone attacks have negative repercussions when the Pakistani government tries to get the support of the people in the tribal area,” Sadiq said. “They are not helping meet the objectives of the war on terror.”

After Patterson left the ministry, the Pakistanis said in a statement, “It was emphasized that such attacks were a violation of Pakistan’s sovereignty and should be stopped immediately.”

The chief of staff of the Pakistani army, Gen. Ashfaq Parvez Kayani, said after the ground attack that Pakistan would defend its border at all costs.

© 2008 Hearst Communications Inc.

Posted in accordance with Title 17, Section 107, US Code, for noncommercial, educational purposes.

Iraq Seeks to Bar US Strike on its Neighbors

October 30th, 2008 - by admin

Qassim Abdul-Zahra / Associated Press – 2008-10-30 09:50:44

http://www.sfgate.com/cgi-bin/article.cgi?f=/c/a/2008/10/30/MNE113QG6S.DTL

BAGHDAD (October 30, 2008) — Iraq wants a security agreement with the United States to include a clear ban on US troops using Iraqi territory to attack Iraq’s neighbors, the government spokesman said Wednesday, three days after a dramatic US raid on Syria.

Also Wednesday, the country’s most influential Shiite cleric expressed concern that Iraqi sovereignty be protected in the pact. Grand Ayatollah Ali al-Sistani wields vast influence among the Shiite majority and his explicit opposition could scuttle the deal.

Government spokesman Ali al-Dabbagh said the ban was among four proposed amendments to the draft agreement approved by the Cabinet this week and forwarded to the United States.

President Bush said Wednesday that the United States had received and negotiators were analyzing the Iraqis’ proposed amendments to the so-called Status of Forces Agreement, or SOFA.

“We obviously want to be helpful and constructive without undermining basic principles,” Bush said in the Oval Office during a meeting with Massoud Barzani, president of the semiautonomous Kurdish region in northern Iraq. “I remain very open and confident that the SOFA will get passed.”

Al-Dabbagh said the Iraqis want the right to declare the agreement null and void if the United States unilaterally attacks one of Iraq’s neighbors.

US troops conducted a daring daylight attack Sunday a few miles into Syrian territory against what US officials said was a key figure in al Qaeda in Iraq’s operation that moves foreign fighters and weapons into Iraq.

A senior US official said the al Qaeda in Iraq figure, an Iraqi known as Abu Ghadiyah, was killed. The official spoke on condition of anonymity because the raid was classified.

Syria says eight civilians died and has demanded an apology.

For nearly two weeks, Iraqi politicians have been considering the draft security agreement, which would keep US troops in Iraq through 2011 unless both sides agree that they could stay longer.

The pact also would give the Iraqis a greater role in supervising US military operations and allow Iraqi courts to try US soldiers and contractors accused of major crimes off duty and off base.

But critics say the current version, reached after months of tough negotiations, does not go far enough in protecting Iraqi sovereignty, and key Shiite politicians argue it stands little chance of approval in Iraq’s fractious parliament in its current form.

© 2008 Hearst Communications Inc.

Posted in accordance with Title 17, Section 107, US Code, for noncommercial, educational purposes.

Defense Awards More Iraq Reconstruction Work to Contractors Cited for Poor Performance

October 29th, 2008 - by admin

Elizabeth Newell / Government Executive.com – 2008-10-29 21:10:42

http://governmentexecutive.com/story_page.cfm?articleid=41285&dcn=todaysnews

(October 28, 2008) — The Defense Department has not taken steps to prevent companies whose Iraq reconstruction contracts were terminated for poor performance from receiving additional government work, the Special Inspector General for Iraq Reconstruction reported on Monday.

In a report on deficient Iraq reconstruction contracts, the SIGIR found that even when contracts were terminated for default due to poor performance, no action was taken to suspend or debar contractors from future contracts.

In several cases, poor performing contractors were awarded additional contracts. In two cases, contractors suspended for fraud and other criminal violations received new construction contracts after being placed on the Excluded Parties List System.

The inspector general identified 1,262 Defense Department projects for Iraq reconstruction that have been terminated as of June 2008. The majority, 732, were ended “for the convenience of the government,” while another 530 were terminated for default on the part of the contractor.

These terminated projects had initial obligations of nearly $1 billion, according to the report, of which about $600 million had been paid to contractors, including $89.7 million on projects ended for default.

Although the Federal Acquisition Regulation does not require agencies to suspend or debar contractors for poor performance, the report noted, it does authorize agencies to suspend or debar them for failure or refusal to perform on a contract and for any other action of a serious and compelling nature affecting responsibility.

Joint Contracting Command-Iraq deputy commander Col. Roger Westermeyer responded to a draft copy of the report, noting that the circumstances surrounding each terminated contract are reviewed before determining whether a contractor should be placed on the excluded parties list.

“Poor performance alone, without any showing of fraud or unethical behavior, will not generally result in the contractor being suspended or debarred,” Westermeyer wrote. “Rather, the FAR already has procedures in place to screen poor performers from receiving future federal contracts.”

The SIGIR report showed that none of the contractors whose reconstruction projects were terminated for default were placed on the excluded parties list. In fact, at least eight companies that had contracts terminated received new contracts and purchase orders.

An Iraqi company that won two contracts to rehabilitate electrical substations for $45 million — both of which were terminated for default — was subsequently awarded three contracts to provide equipment.

Although these kinds of awards are within the agency’s authority under the FAR, “they do raise questions about the degree to which contractor’s prior performance is being reviewed,” the report stated.

Neil Gordon of the Washington-based Project on Government Oversight said the report illuminates the watchdog group’s ongoing concern about past performance issues. He said the organization has seen contracts repeatedly awarded quickly without sufficient vetting of the companies bidding for work. With an acquisition workforce stretched thin and reconstruction projects caught up in a war zone, the normal problems are magnified, he said.

The contracting officers “are understaffed, compared to the volume of work,” Gordon said. “Contracting has grown over the past years exponentially, and you don’t have the staff to keep up with it. Also, in a war zone like Iraq, time is of the essence, you’ve got to support the troops.”

In addition, Defense gave work to four contractors after or just before they were suspended or debarred. Suspensions are temporary actions taken by agencies to immediately protect the public interest by excluding contractors pending criminal investigations or proposed debarment. Debarments exclude contractors from receiving work for a set period of time based on “on preponderant evidence of wrongdoing, having given the party proposed for debarment notice and opportunity to be heard.”

Two of the contractors awarded new reconstruction contracts had been charged with fraud and other criminal violations and placed on the excluded parties list. The two other suspended contractors continued to work on previously awarded contracts after their exclusion, although action eventually was taken to terminate one of the contractor’s projects.

“Contractors who received contract awards before their suspension are allowed to continue to perform under the prior contract award,” the report stated. “However, agencies should consider the consequences of continuing to work with suspended or debarred contractors.”

The inspector general recommended that Army Corps of Engineers’ Gulf region division and the Joint Contracting Command-Iraq/Afghanistan take steps to reinforce the importance of screening contractors against lists of those debarred or suspended from receiving contracts.

Both entities agreed with the recommendations included in the report.

Commanding Maj. Gen. Michael Eyre said the Gulf region division’s contracting officials “access several databases to screen contractors to make sure they have not been suspended or debarred.”

Westermeyer wrote that while all potential contractors already are required to be screened, “contracting centers will be reminded of the importance of this step in the acquisition process to help ensure contracts are being awarded…

[Note: Original posting incomplete.]

Posted in accordance with Title 17, Section 107, US Code, for noncommercial, educational purposes.

Why McCain’s Fellow POW and Navy Dorm Mate Won’t Vote for McCain

October 28th, 2008 - by admin

Rob Kall / Op Ed New – 2008-10-28 20:12:11

http://www.opednews.com/articles/Interview-With-Phil-Butler-by-Rob-Kall-081027-613.html

Interview: McCain Fellow Hanoi Hilton POW & Naval Academy Dorm-mate; Why He Won’t Vote For McCain
Rob Kall / Op Ed News

(October 27, 2008) — Transcript of Interview with CDR, USN, Phil Butler on the Rob Kall Bottom-up Radio Show (1360 AM WNJC). Transcription by Jay Farrington and Paul Hawley

Kall:— Great to have you with us here on the Rob Kall Show at 1360 AM.

Butler:— Thank you.

Kall:— It’s interesting; I’ve had a couple of emails. Now you wrote this article, “Why I won’t Vote for John McCain” and you talk about your experience having been a POW for eight years, huh?

Butler:— Yes, that’s right.

Kall:—Oh! I’ll bet you know exactly how many days after eight years it was, too.

Butler:— Well, two thousand eight hundred and fifty five days and nights—as a POW.

Kall:— Oh my God, it’s hard to imagine; it’s mind boggling; thank you for your service!

You know, a couple of people have said, “This guy’s doing to John McCain what John Kerry had done to him by the ‘Swiftboaters’.”

Butler:— No, that’s not true, because I think the swiftboaters got some preconceived lies that they were pushing about John Kerry’s service; that he was not a bona fide veteran; his medals weren’t real and so forth, and in my article that I’ve written here —”Why I Won’t Vote for John McCain” — I say clearly that I respect John (McCain) and I respect his service as a naval officer and also as a POW.

Kall:— Yeah, let me read what you wrote: “Senator John Sidney McCain III is a remarkable man who’s made enormous personal achievement. He’s a man that I’m proud to call a POW who returned with honor.”

Butler:— Absolutely.

Kall:— So you’re not any way like a Swiftboater; I just wanted to kind of clear that up right from the beginning.

Butler:—No, I’m not in any way in concert with the Swiftboat Liars.

Kall:— Yes. OK, what I wanted to do was kind of go into some of the things you said in your article, and kind of go into them in a little more detail. Sound OK?

Butler:— Sure

Kall:— All right, so, you say, you were basically, you got there; you were a freshman when he was a senior, so you spent a year at the Naval Academy, with him, living directly across the hall from him, apparently, right?

Butler:— Yeah, as improbable as that is, because you know, strangely, out of three thousand six hundred midshipmen—we had spread out in twenty four companies; I happened to fall into the Seventeenth Company, and right straight across the hall from John McCain and his roommate, I and my two roommates found ourselves living in the Seventeenth Company.

Kall:— So you write he was intent on breaking every U.S. Naval Academy regulation in our four inch thick Naval Academy Regulations book and I believe he must have come as close to his goal as any midshipman who ever attended the academy.

Butler:— We used to say that for John it was an art form, I mean, you know, it took more than intelligence and an active imagination; it was an art form for him, and he was a wild and irascible midshipman in those days.

Kall:— What kind of rules did he break?

Butler:— Everything you can imagine from being out over the wall at night, to just– There were thousands of rules that could be broken and John, I think, had a go at all of them and he spent a lot of time also on detention his first class year, on, as we called it, restriction. Because of the ones that he broke and got caught at.

Kall:— I’m wondering, were there any that were really bad or were they just misbehavior–?

Butler:— I think they were misbehavior, I think that they were just in his “wild and wooly” nature, which, by the way carried on after he graduated when he became a Navy pilot; before he was shot down over Vietnam, he crashed several airplanes. He was a wild risk-taker and he still, I think to this day, If you watch him and read things about him, I think he practices– brinkmanship.—

Kall:— Brinkmanship. So would you think that the average student at the Naval Academy could have gotten away with this, or would they have been thrown out?

Butler:— Well, there was talk amongst those of us who I know and knew in that day, and not just my classmates but his classmates and those in between that he probably had a leg up in surviving this because he was the son of what was then a pretty high ranking Navy captain, who later became an admiral, and the grandson of a Navy admiral, so he was in a lineage of, you know, admiralty, in McCain.—

Which probably happened more often than not, there at the Naval Academy; there were numerous midshipmen whose fathers were captains or admirals and so on and so forth, but John came from a special rarified navy lineage, and so you know, I remember–

Kall:— So he came into the Naval Academy a child of privilege, who was able to get away with stuff that the average Naval Academy person who didn’t have those privileges would never have gotten away with.

Butler:— Well, that was said. Those were things that were being said at the time and I know that he did on at least one occasion have to go over and have a talk with Admiral Smidberg, the Superintendent of the Naval Academy, which was extremely unusual. I never heard of any other midshipman getting a — as we called it— a “Dutch Uncle” talk at Navy, for being dressed down.

Kall:— Do you remember what he did to cause that?

Butler:— I don’t; it was fifty years ago, so that one I can’t remember, I’m sorry.

Kall:— You know, you’ve talked about him being–engaging in brinkmanship and in wild, crazy kind of behavior, how do you think that would translate into his functioning as a president?

Butler:— Well, that’s a problem I have. Like I said, I really respect him and I have to say that I like him very much. He’s a funny guy if you’re ever around him, he’s got incredible wit, he’s funny, he’s likeable; if you’re with him for a few minutes, you’re immediately going to like the fellow.

Kall:— Yeah, the guy you’d like to have a beer with– or a couple.

Butler:— Yeah, exactly. “To have a few drinks with, and interesting…but for me, the only problem I have is that electing a person to be the President of the United States of America falls into a whole different category. It obviates anything like a former friendship or a former liaison or partnership, or family member or anything else; it has to be somebody with special qualifications. I don’t see that John has those qualifications; he has a personality that concerns me were he to become president of the United States.—

And the other thing is that it’s not just his military service, but what has John done, how does he actualize, how does he take lessons from his military service in terms of how he sees the world today, and I think it’s all wrong; I think his lessons from Vietnam are all wrong; he’s helped lead us right back into another Vietnam in the Iraq War.

He’s a bellicose kind of a guy, he’s aggressive, he’s a black and white thinker. He doesn’t see nuances, just like George Bush doesn’t see nuances; he thinks that things are black and white.—

He does his campaigning — the other day he was being interviewed asked a couple of questions, and he answered, “yes, yes and no.” and then everybody clapped, but that’s the wrong kind of thinking than we want in the President of the United States; we want somebody who sees the complexity of the World Order.

Kall:— I’m curious. In his role in the Navy. Did he ever play a role as a leader?

Butler:— When he came home, I understand that he was the Commanding Officer of a training squadron, a replacement aircraft squadron on the east coast; I believe that it might have been in Jacksonville, but in that squadron he was a squadron commander. And I understand that he was well thought of as a squadron commander. But there again, that job doesn’t translate to President of the United States.

Kall:—What’s it involve being a squadron commander?

Butler:—It’s like being a CEO. They probably had multimillions of dollars worth of aircraft and supplies and material goods under his command and maybe a couple of hundred people, so it’s tantamount to the military version, if you could draw somewhat of a comparison to being a CEO.

Kall:— Of a medium sized company, maybe.

Butler:— Yes, I would say so.

Kall:— and his reputation was that he did a decent job there.

Butler:— I heard that; I wasn’t there to see or hear; I’m on the west coast, but I heard that he was pretty well received.

Kall:— And before, you mentioned that he had a couple of crashes or accidents before he was captured?

Butler:— Yeah, I read anywhere from two to four, but that keeps coming up; it’s three different airplanes that he crashed and least one or two of them were from pilot error—and there again, that’s highly unusual, because normally, a naval aviator that crashes one or two airplanes immediately loses their wings and they find themselves to be a deck officer on a destroyer at sea.

Kall: I hear that at least one of those crashes, he disobeyed orders and that was why it happened too. Or he ignored orders or information or something like that. Do you know about that?

Butler: I don’t know the details, but that does come through as logical, and I believe that something on that order is true. That’s just part of the brinkmanship. He is fairly careless, he didn’t follow procedures closely, just like he didn’t at the Naval Academy, and I think he’s still pretty much that way. I think he still shoots from the hip. We used to have a saying in the Navy that we had certain kinds of senior officers that were “ready, aim, fire,” and some were “ready, fire, aim.” And I think John fits the latter category.

Kall: Now there’s an awful lot of talk about him being a hero, because of what he did while he was a prisoner. And you write, “John allows the media to make him out to be the hero POW, which he knows is absolutely not true, to further his political goals.” Could you get into that a little bit more?

Butler: Well, look, I think Americans have a distorted vision of heroism. All the time, we have young kids who are 18 and 19 years old who are being killed and horribly maimed, in wars like Vietnam all the way up through and including Iraq and Afghanistan now. I mean, many lose their lives, lose everything, and go home to poverty, just an incredible waste.—

Prisoners of war, those of us who happened to find ourselves in harm’s way over North Vietnam, however many thousands of us there were who were shot down, and some became prisoners and some survived — I always like to tell people that not one of us took an entrance examination to get into a POW camp. We were randomly selected by bullets and missiles, and we were just ordinary, college graduate guys who’d learned how to fly airplanes and were doing our job in a war that we at that time thought was the right thing to do.—

So if you go around and pick college graduates all over this country, you have the same stock, you’ve got the same strong American psyche that can survive, that can cope with adversity. We were no different. So those of us who survived, by sticking together and by supporting each other and being a team, came home to incredible adulation, to the point of almost hero worship.—

To me, quite frankly, I think a hero is somebody like a single mother who has children, and she’s homeless and has no job, and her husband has left her, and she manages to find work somehow and pull herself up educationally and get her kids through school — those to me are the real heroes that we see every day in America.

Kall: From what you’ve written, there were about 600 prisoners who came home?

Butler: Well, no, there were actually 801, this is the final count that we have, of which 660 were American servicemen, and there were, if you do the math, 140 or so folks who were either foreign nationals or they were civilians, such as CIA or other civilian workers of one kind or another, USAID or whatever, and then nurses and what have you. There was a whole kaleidoscope of different kinds of people who found themselves captured and were not, by the way, with us up in the Hanoi area; they were kept separately.—

Kall: How many of were there with you and John McCain?

Butler: Over time, it varied.

Kall: I just want to say this is the Rob Kall Show on 1360, WNJC, and I’m talking to Philip Butler, Ph.D., Commander, U.S. Navy, retired, Vietnam prisoner of war, who was a prisoner of war with John McCain. — So, again, how many did you say?

Butler: Well, 660 U.S. military survived and came home. On August the 5th of 1964, the count was one, and then we worked our way up to seven when I was shot down on April the 20th of 1965. So they kept getting more and more of us. As we said, it got more and more popular to become a POW as the war went along. So John came along in October of ’67, two and a half years after I got there.—

Kall: You know, it makes me think: There are no prisoners of war in Iraq. They all get killed.—

Butler: Yes, this is pretty much true. It appears that the Iraqi soldiers on the other side are reluctant to keep American POWs. Some have been killed in brutal ways, shot and tortured and what have you, and we don’t have any there. The first Iraq war, there were POWs. There were, I believe, 20 or so, and they were brought home. This is back in 1991. So those folks are also part of our continuing prisoner of war medical evaluation studies that are going on in Pensacola, Florida.

Kall: Do you think that the fact that there are no prisoners of war — that our troops who are captured are tortured and then killed — has to do with the USA’s, George Bush’s policy of torturing prisoners of war that the U.S. captures?

Butler: Well, George Bush’s illegal and immoral policies of torture certainly don’t help, and they certainly don’t make us out who we try to tell people that we are throughout the world. It certainly hasn’t helped, and it certainly does put our troops and even people who are vacationing in other countries in harm’s way. But I have a suspicion that those folks in Iraq who are killing the few guys who have been captured have done it on their own hook. They probably didn’t need Abu Gahraib to do it, but that certainly helped fuel the fire, definitely.

Kall: Now, you talk in your article that “being a POW is no special qualification for being president of the United States. The two jobs are not the same, and POW experience is not, in my opinion, something I would look for in a presidential candidate.” Is it something that you would hold against him? — or could it actually be a liability?

Butler: I wouldn’t hold it against him. But I think what you need to do, to measure the man, is I think you need to measure who that man is today and how he has internalized his experiences as a naval officer, as a prisoner of war, and as a veteran of Vietnam.—

Kall: You mentioned that earlier —

Butler: How has he internalized those experiences? And you can see from the policies that he advocates that, to me, he’s turned those experiences on their head.

Kall: Could you explain that?

Butler: Well, we learned from Vietnam, you know, after 15 years of being in a Vietnam quagmire, that you cannot autocratically force another culture to see the world the way you do and to be just like you, and that they can fight guerilla warfare that you can never defeat, no matter what you have in the way of sophisticated arms and machinery and war making power — that the power of the individual who lives in the country and is part of the culture is supreme.—

And we’ve run into the same thing in Iraq, and John should have learned that lesson, but he supported the invasion of Iraq, the peremptory invasion of Iraq, the unilateral invasion of Iraq with no help from anybody else and no approval through the United Nations. We just did the same exact thing, we did the same thing in Vietnam. In 1964 we had the Tonkin Gulf incident, which was a trumped-up lie to get the American people — to scare the American people, to get Congress to approve us to attack Vietnam. And in Iraq we had the trumped-up lie of weapons of mass destruction and all that stuff to scare the American people once again and to get Congress to give President Bush all the authority he needed, and more, to attack Iraq. And here we are, stuck, once more.

Kall: Anything else? I mean, that certainly makes sense. You’ve talked about what a person has taken from the experience of having been a prisoner, having fought in that war, having gone through that. Any other ways that he’s not met the mark of having learned from the experience?

Butler: Yeah. I think the summary for me is — you know, don’t paint me as a guy who’s after cutting John McCain apart; far be it from me to do that. I respect him totally, I admire his accomplishments and his achievements, both before and during and after the Vietnam War. But on the other hand, I think the job of president of the United States requires somebody who is a considered thinker, somebody who listens to other people, somebody who judges carefully after gathering lots of information and evidence before making rash decisions, and somebody that we can be proud of with respect to all the other brother and sister nations around the world. And to me, I’m sorry to say that’s not John, despite the fact that I like him as a guy and respect him as a fellow POW who returned with honor.

Kall: You say in here that “John has an infamous reputation for being a hothead. He has a quick and explosive temper that many have experienced firsthand. This is not the finger I want next to that red button.” So you’ve observed his temper?

Butler: Oh yeah, oh yeah, living across the hall from him for a year. He was very explosive. There was always a lot of loud noise and arguments and crashing and banging over in his room and splitting with his roommate and yelling and screaming in the hallway. But that was then. And after that, in the Senate, you know, the stories are legion from his fellow Senators and other people who have contact with him of how he can burst into a rage with profanity. If you disagree with him, he takes it straight to his ego. And he has a hair-trigger temper, which is just not good for a president of the United States.

Kall: Sounds like it would not make it easy for somebody, an advisor, to come to him with the truth and give straight counsel.

Butler: That’s right.

Kall: He may be a straight talker himself, but he sounds like he doesn’t tolerate it very well.

Butler: Well, that’s my fear, and that’s one of the reasons I won’t vote for John McCain for president of the United States.

Kall: Now, you said that you heard noises. Did he throw things?

Butler: Well, yeah. We’d hear loud noises across the wall and we’d hear yelling, and then the two roommates would erupt, and usually the other one — Frank Gamboa was the guy’s name — would run down the hallway and go to another room. And they’d separate for a while, and they’d make up and get back together. I think Gamboa must have been an incredibly tolerant guy to put up with John McCain as a roommate for those years.

Kall: Is he still around?

Butler: He is. I understand that Gamboa is around. He’s a wonderful guy, also.

Kall: I’m curious – I wasn’t sure I got an exact number. About how many prisoners were with you and McCain in the Hanoi Hilton where you were?

Butler: We were moved around a lot. This was a fluid situation. I started off in solitary confinement, and then after six months or so I had a cellmate and we lived together for a while. And then we had two more cellmates, and this thing, you know — but the Vietnamese always kept us separated. They would punish you, beat you, starve you for trying to communicate with another cell, because they wanted to separate and dominate to get political propaganda. So you were separated from other cells, and even when we were in a cell with 40 other guys, they still tried to keep us separated from other cells of 40 guys.

And the other thing they did was that they separated us by when we came in. So if I was a’65 shoot-down, they didn’t want to put me with somebody from ’67 or ’68 because it would help my morale to know more about what was going on back home.—

Kall:— Wow. So did john have roommates or was everybody kept totally separated from each other?

Butler:— No, like I said, as time went on we had roommates and he had roommates; I think he had one or two in the beginning and later on like the rest of us he had more roommates, in the end he had 40 or 50 roommates.

Kall:—Have any of the other Prisoners of War who were with John McCain spoken up?

Butler:— You know I haven’t tried to find out, to tell you the truth. I’ve just turned 70 a couple weeks ago and I was a POW for eight years and I figured this was the time of my life to say it like it is, and I’m not going to worry about what somebody else says or thinks.

Kall:— you know it’s been said that one of the reasons he went into Iraq was to avenge his father because they tried to kill him. Do you think John McCain could be looking for a win, finally after his Vietnam experience, like W thought to avenge his father?

Butler:— Oh, gosh, Rob, I don’t know, I resist trying to…

Kall:— Fair answer.

Butler:— … make an inference by getting inside the guy’s head; you know from deep seated motivations.—

Definitely it was true of Bush because he talked, you know, he led everybody to believe, he told us he was angry because of what had happened to his father and he was going to get even. So I think it would be a giant leap to try…—

Kall:— Fair enough.—

Butler: at least to me it would, I don’t know that….

Kall: Fair enough.—So, you also say John is not a religious person but he’s taken every opportunity to ally himself with some really obnoxious and crazy Fundamentalist ministers, so your knowing him during the years as a student and in the prison, he was not religious?—

Butler:— John came from an elite Navy lineage, and an elite Navy lineage back in the day of the 30s and 40s and 50s and 60s was usually a member of the Episcopalian, quite often frequently a member of the Episcopalian protestant religion.

Kall:— Like George Herbert Walker Bush, I think.

Butler:— Yeah, exactly; that’s the one; you got it. Right. So that’s what John was and we had a Naval Academy Chapel and back in those dark days of the 1950s, every midshipman was required to attend the church service of their choice on Sunday morning, but you had to attend one, and of course that’s not true now because that’s illegal; it’s unconstitutional to force people to go to church, but back in those days they did. And so John and I and a whole bunch of other midshipmen who were apathetic just fell into a church party service and marched off to the Chapel every Sunday and endured the 45 or 50 minute nationalistic ceremony with the flag coming down the middle of the aisle and the “Onward Christian Soldiers” kind of songs, the Navy songs, and all that stuff, we endured it for an hour and then we came back, and we couldn’t have cared about it one way or the other, but just recently, John has, I don’t know if he’s fully joined, but he is attending I know, and purports to have joined, a Baptist Church, and that can mean only one thing to me and that is just one more instance of the “Crooked Talk Express” selling out to get votes from the Religious Right.—

Kall:— Did he ever get in trouble, I mean he broke all these rules; did he ever get in trouble with anything having to do with attending the services or anything like that?

Butler:— I wouldn’t doubt but what he did, it’s just been so long ago, I can’t remember exactly what he did other than he amused us by doing things all the time.

Kall:— Ok. Another thing you write is,

—”I was also disappointed to see him cozy up to Bush because I know he dislikes that man. He disingenuously and famously put his arm around the guy, even after Bush had intensely disrespected him with lies and slander; so in these and many other instances, I don’t se that John is the straight talk express he markets himself to be” and you just said, it’s the “Lie Express.” How did you call it?

Butler:— It’s the “Crooked Talk Express”.

Kall:— Crooked talk Express, Yeah.

Butler:— The guy changes—lately, and I think this is a more recent phenomenon; I think when the guy was first in the Senate, that he did kind of vote his conscience and go along, though I think he still tested the wind and did things that he would get some notoriety for, but nevertheless, in recent years, he has done everything he can, and I just know—you can just see the body language and you just know that he can’t stand George W. Bush, and for him to do that after the things that Bush and his group to him in that election was—just made me sick to watch that, just pure politics in action.

Kall:— So to kind of wrap up here now, knowing John McCain as you know him so well from the time you’ve spent with him both as a student and as a prisoner of war, how would you see him operating as President that scares you or concerns you? What would be some of the ways that he would function, and in a way that we wouldn’t want to see him as President, if he became President?

Butler:— I would totally completely expect four more of the last eight years.—

Kall:— In what way?

Butler:— In every way: in the Neo Con thinking; the insulated decision making; not listening to the members of the Cabinet; listening to an insulated, closed group of right-wing, politically oriented Neo Conservatives.—

I would expect him to be bellicose to other countries like Iran, I would expect him, if he took a notion, to launch missiles if something irritated him or something ticked him off.

I just would expect him to be a hair trigger kind of President; I would expect him to not really see the world of nations in all of their complexity, in all of their cultures, in all of their religions and all of the different points of view in ways of doing life, I could not expect John McCain to be a student of that, and to try to understand it, just like George Bush has not done.

Kall:— Is he an intolerant man?

Butler:— I’m sorry is he what?

Kall:— intolerant—of those differences?

Butler:— I guess—(Rob’s assistant announces time is up).

(Laughs) “Saved by the bell”

Kall:— This is Rob Kall; I’ve been talking to Phillip Butler. Retired U.S. Navy Commander, a Vietnam POW who was a prisoner of war with John McCain. Wow, what a story!

Rob Kall is executive editor and publisher of OpEdNews.com, President of Futurehealth, Inc, inventor . He is also published regularly on the Huffingtonpost.com. He is a frequent Speaker on Politics, Impeachment, The art, science and power of story, heroes and the hero’s journey, Positive Psychology, Stress, Biofeedback and a wide range of subjects.

He is a campaign consultant specializing in tapping the power of stories for issue positioning, stump speeches and debates. He recently retired as organizer of several conferences, including StoryCon, the Summit Meeting on the Art, Science and Application of Story and The Winter Brain Meeting on neurofeedback, biofeedback, Optimal Functioning and Positive Psychology. See more of his articles here and, older ones, here.

• Watch Krall on youtube, having a lively conversation with John Conyers, Chair of the House Judiciary committee, click here Now, wouldn’t you like to see me on the political news shows, representing progressives. If so, tell your favorite shows to bring me on and refer them to this youtube video

• The Rob Kall Show, runs 9-10 PM EST Wednesday evenings, on AM 1360, WNJC and is archived on www.whiterosesociety.org Or listen to it streaming, live at either www.wnjc1360.com or here.

Or check the archived interviews at: whiterosesociety.org

A few declarations. -While I’m registered as a Democrat, I consider myself to be a dynamic critic of the Democratic party, just as, well, not quite as much, but almost as much as I am a critic of republicans. -My articles express my personal opinion, not the opinion of this website.

Posted in accordance with Title 17, Section 107, US Code, for noncommercial, educational purposes.

History Shows Economy Has Fared better under Democratic Presidents

October 28th, 2008 - by admin

Arthur L. Blaustein / San Francisco Chronicle – 2008-10-28 19:58:21

http://www.sfgate.com/cgi-bin/article.cgi?f=/c/a/2008/10/19/IN5C13H0J5.DTL

Economy Has Fared better under Democratic Presidents
Arthur L. Blaustein / San Francisco Chronicle

(October 19, 2008) — Most Americans have one eye on the nation’s financial crises and the other on the presidential election. And they are asking themselves, “Is John McCain or Barack Obama, the Democrats or the Republicans, better for the economic health of the country as well as for my own financial well-being?” That is the defining question of this election.

A businessman who voted for George Bush twice, and Bill Clinton in ’96, told me, “Barack Obama sounds really impressive, and I have to admit that the goals of his social programs – particularly health care, education and the environment – seem good. But I’m worried the Democrats can’t manage the economy as well, and they’ll get into my wallet.”

This sentiment is not rare. In past elections, pollsters have found that many voters believe that the Republicans do better with the economy. But is it true?

Let’s look at the record.

During the 20th century, the Dow Jones industrial average rose 7.3 percent per year on average under Republican presidents. Under Democrats, it rose 10.3 percent – which means that investors gained a whopping 41 percent more. And the stock market declined further during George Bush’s two terms.

Moreover, according to research from Professor Larry Bartels of Princeton, real middle class wage growth is double when a Democrat is president, contrasted to that growth under a Republican president.

Since World War II, Democratic presidents have increased the national debt by an average of 3.7 percent per year, and Republican presidents have increased it an average of 10.1 percent. During the same time period, the unemployment rate was, on average, 4.8 percent under Democratic presidents; it was 6.3 percent under Republicans.

That’s the historical record.

What about economic policies over the past 15 years? The Clinton-Gore administration presided over the longest peacetime economic expansion in our history. The national debt was reduced dramatically, the industrial sector boomed, wages grew and more Americans found jobs.

How has the Bush-Cheney team fared? In the past seven years, we have experienced the weakest job creation cycle since the Great Depression, record deficits, record household debt, a record bankruptcy rate and a substantial increase in poverty. We have gone from being the nation with the biggest budget surplus in history to becoming the nation with the largest deficit in history.

The Bush administration, supported by Republicans on Capitol Hill, pushed through a sweeping tax cut in 2001, under which the wealthiest 1 percent of Americans reaped 43 percent of the gain. In less than a year and a half, the federal government’s 10-year projected budget surplus of $1.6 trillion had vanished. In 2000, we had a surplus of $236 billion. In 2004, we had a deficit of $413 billion. This dramatic reversal is the direct consequence of Bush’s tax cuts – and McCain wants to pursue the same bankrupt policies.

Since the conventions, McCain and his surrogates have been pounding away at the Democrats, labeling them as the “tax and spend” party. Yet recent research has shown that more than 70 percent of our national debt was created by just three Republican presidents: Reagan and the two Bushes.

There’s an old expression in Las Vegas, “Figures don’t lie and liars figure.”

Arthur L. Blaustein was chairman of the President’s National Advisory Council on Economic Opportunity during the Carter administration and was appointed to the board of the National Endowment for the Humanities by Bill Clinton. He teaches public policy and economic development at UC Berkeley. His most recent books are “Make a Difference – America’s Guide to Volunteering and Community Service” and “The American Promise.”

© 2008 Hearst Communications Inc.

Posted in accordance with Title 17, Section 107, US Code, for noncommercial, educational purposes.

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