Tuesday, April 16, 2013

It's not cool






A Roger Helbig writes the public account in a tizzy over my April 4th entry "Depleted Uranium."  Roger pants, "I will wager that you do not know that you and everyone who reads your posting has DU in their body, everyone on Earth does - that is because DU is naturally occuring Uranium-238 and it has always been commonly found in rocks, soils, the air and water all over the globe."  And it just gets crazier (and more insulting) from there.

Roger, if it makes you happy, there are many things I don't know.  However, DU?  Yeah, Roger.  I hate geology.  I had to memorize the entire texts in college to pass it.  Nothing bores me more than geology -- of all the courses I took.  But I did four semesters of it.  And, yeah, I'm aware uranium is not a synthetic.  Uranium does occur naturally in nature.  Depleted Uranium isn't uranium, Roger.  That's like claiming the squash from my garden is natural so therefore baked squash is natural and occurs on its own.  No, Roger, that's not how it works.  Uranium is an element on the Periodic Table, Depleted Uranium is not.

Roger found the entry by "Google Alert."  He's apparently forever looking for someone writing about it so he can insist that the cancer in Iraq is a fluke or maybe that it just doesn't exist?  Who knows what goes on in that head of his?

Again, Roger, I don't know everything.  That's why, in the middle of dictating a snapshot, I will grab another cell phone and call someone and say, "Listen to this?  Does it make sense?  Have I screwed up?"  I did that when we first covered Hero Ibrahim Ahmed, spouse of Iraqi President Jalal Talabani.  I checked that with a Kurdish-American college professor.  That did not stop some crazy woman -- who's a professor at a college in England -- from e-mailing non-stop to tell me how it should have been worded and how "evil" Hero Ibrahim Ahmed allegedly is.

Point being, some freaks are never going to be happy.  Roger, you can deny the huge increase in the rate of cancer in Falluja all you want, it's not going to make it go away.  You can stick your head in the sand -- though I doubt you'd choose the contaminated sands in Falluja to stick your head in -- but that won't take away the birth defects that they're seeing.

As embarrassing as your position is, it does say something.  It speaks to just how wrong what was done to Falluja -- and other places in Iraq -- was.  It's prompted a flock of deniers because they can't face the fact that, yes, War Crimes took place.  They can't face it, they can't handle it.  They have to deny.  We've seen it before with the bombing of Hiroshima.  It's taken decades for many American to acknowledge what happened.  The children of Falluja matter, Roger, not some little pipsqueak who does a Google alert on a topic he hates so he can huff and puff in e-mails.

Instead of making a silly fool of yourself, Roger, why don't you shed some tears for the poor innocents of Falluja.  Click on this link and go to BRussells Tribunal to see the birth defects you're too immature to face (you will then click on a link for this Young Turks video).

Then find a way to insist that those innocent children 'had it coming,' that they would grow up to be Ba'athists or whatever term you use a slur to comfort yourself when you can't deal with the reality of what your government did -- it's my government too, Roger, I am a citizen of the United States.  But I have no illusions of its inherent goodness -- nor did the founding fathers which is why they argued for transparency -- something that no longer exists.

Steve Oh: What's not known -- or not discussed enough -- is the massive contamination and environmental disaster that happened in Iraq.  And as a result, it's-it's caused massive deformities in children born in Iraq right now.  So-so Desi, can you speak a little bit about that?

Desi Doyen:  Depleted Uranium essentially is what it is, it's Depleted Uranium.  It's used in weaponry -- primarily because it can penetrate armor.  And it was used a lot by the US troops.  The UK troops used some of it as well but the US troops used quite a bit of it and they won't tell the UN anywhere they used these areas so that they can be decontaminated.  But right now -- the incidents of birth defects and deformities in communities that were targeted by US troops is-is really astounding.  I'm not sure what the exact number was.  I think we have some graphics on that.

Steve Oh: We do.  So the birth defects in Falluja itself, it's fourteen times higher than in Hiroshima and Nagasaki after the atomic bombs were dropped

Desi Doyen: Jeez.

Steve Oh: And we have graphics of the pictures of the kids

Ana Kasparian:  Alright.  These are extremely, extremely graphic.

Desi Doyen: So be ready to 

Steve Oh: Yeah, if your squeamish, please look away.  This is bad.

[Photo of three children are shown.]

Ana Kasparian:  It's really horrific.

Steve Oh: Now this is not counting the many, many babies who are -- See, this one.  This was one was born with two heads.  And the doctors there say they have never seen this kind of deformity before.  I mean, this child has half of its intestines and organs outside the body and multiple legs.

Desi Doyen: It's really depressing to see that that's what's going on.  Also, just to make a point of this, that the United Nations, last December in the General Assembly, attempted to pass a resolution saying that we should use the precautionary principle when it comes to the use of Depleted Uranium but the US, the UK, France and Israel voted against that resolution to take Depleted Uranium out of the mix -- against 155 other countries that said that we should stop using it.  Unfortunately, the United States is in favor of continuing it, even though it has such an environmental destruction.  It is very difficult to clean up out of the environment and it has these very clear connections to these horrible defects.

Steve Oh: And it's not just the Iraqis who are suffering, it's our own soldiers too because there are a lot of soldiers who are also suffering from Depleted Uranium contamination.

Desi Doyen: Yes.

Steve Oh:  And what's happening to them is that they're getting these massive headaches where they are dehabilitated, they can't move.  They're also urinating blood.

Desi Doyen:  Right, right.  They're getting diagnosed with cancer.

Steve Oh: And the cancer rate in Falluja is through the roof.   Back in the 90s, it used to be -- after the Iraq War in '91 -- there's a cancer rate between 40 and then it moved up to 800 people per 100,000 Iraqis.  Now that rate is up to 1,600 Iraqis per 100,000.

And it turns out Roger is a bit of a celebrity among the quacks advocating for DU.  Felicity Arbuthnot (at The Ecologist) wrote about him a few years back, "Roger Helbig, a man with an unhealthy obsession: he believes that depleted uranium (DU) waste from the nuclear fuel cycle, which is used in munitions and bullets -- is safe."

Let me end with a tip for Roger.  At this site, we've been covering Depleted Uranium for years.  We stood by Dave Lindorff when In These Times walked back the line.  So my point is, if Google alerts only just now put you wise to this site, Google alerts must just read headlines.

Oh, it turns out Roger is human filth.  Repeating: Roger Helbig, with the US Pentagon, is human filth.  Susan Hass has shared online, "Roger Helbig was able to find my work phone number within 15 minutes of my signing a petition to the UN against DU weapons.  He apparently has some connections with military intelligence if he is able to do that, that quickly.  He asked for me by name, then called me a liar, and with a voice filled with venom and veiled threats, told me he had no troubling finding out anything he  wanted to about me.  I hung up on him, then I reported this call to the local FBI office."

At the same site, Christina MacPherson shares:

 This is very worrying. I had thought that Roger Helbig was just some kind of angry nutter. I have received a number of insulting and abusive emails from him, and more often, comments sent to my website nuclear-news.net. I managed to block all his communications.
And I was advising others subject to his bullyng to do the same. Just ignore him, not sinking to his level.
But it is a worry that Helbig is able to bring his aggression to such a personal level.
Hard to believe that the Pentagon is silly enough to actually employ this person, who gives the impression of being at least, a disturbed personality.

Again, I don't know know everything.  When I started dictating this snapshot, I thought Roger was just a rude crank.  While I'm dictating, I'm informed of the above and much more.  So that tells us about the type of person who champions DU -- such a person is abusive to women, threatens women and thinks that normal and acceptable behavior.  That says it all, doesn't it?

 And on the topic of disgraceful: Robert Zoellick.  Last month in "Swarthmore values," we noted a students effort to protest War Hawk Zoellick speaking at the commencement.  And last month, Patrick Bond asked "What Will Robert Zoellick Break Next?" (CounterPunch):

 It should not distract us from Zoellick’s deeper capacity to reproduce and restructure imperial power. As Central American activist Toni Solo put it in CounterPunch in 2003, “Zoellick is neither blind nor crazy. He simply has no interest in the massive human cost, whether in the United States or abroad, of his lucrative global evangelical mission on behalf of corporate monopoly capitalism.”

The other theory is more skeptical of Zoellick’s efficacy, concluding that he’s not particularly good at what he does. Indeed, Zoellick is mainly of interest because he represents a global trend of Empire in crisis since the Millennium, featuring at least three self-immolating traits which he brings to next month’s climate showdown at the Bank.

First is the ideological fusion of neoconservatism and neoliberalism that Zoellick shares with his predecessor Wolfowitz. Both strains are bankrupt, by any reasonable accounting. Representing the former, Zoellick was at the outset a proud member of the Project for a New American Century, and as early as January 1998 he went on record that Iraq should be illegally overthrown.

Jamie Stiehm (US News and World Reports) breaks the good news today: Zoellick will not be speaking at Swarthmore, he's come down with a severe case of "think skin."   Stiehm explains:

The Washington powerhouse, until recently head of the World Bank, had agreed to accept an honorary degree at the Swarthmore College graduation, always a sylvan affair set in the woods in the Greek amphitheatre, surrounded by a fragrant forest in spring. Then he withdrew in anger after some students started a campaign on Facebook asserting he was an architect of the Iraq war. In fairness, that may be overstating it, but Zoellick supported the invasion. He was a good team player.  
I am not saying he is a war criminal, as his harshest critics are. But he is implicated in the tragic violence that will never be washed from the nation's hands. That's the price he pays for being one of the president's men. 

Zoellick fled from Swarthmore as fast as he could.  Sadly his victims in Iraq don't have the same mobility options.


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