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As had been threatened, North Korea's Kim Jong-Il reportedly conducted an underground nuclear test yesterday, a move which promotes a global nuclear arms race and nullifies non-proliferation agreements.
Take it personally.
News that a U.S. company recently sent vials of a 1957 pandemic flu strain to laboratories across the world by accident is only the latest outrage from the billion-dollar boondoggle called the federal biological weapons program.
As you might recall, the Bush administration started its "biodefense" spending spree following the September 2001 deadly anthrax attacks, and one of its first projects was to genetically engineer a super-resistant, even more deadly version of the anthrax bacteria.
Our leaders are nuts.
As the body count from the tsunami rises, America's international reputation plummets to new depths, thanks to the Bush administration's smugly incompetent response.
While other world leaders immediately put forward action plans and solid donations, Bush has spent most of the past critical week on holiday at his Texas "ranch," riding his mountain bike and avoiding the press. Predictably, only allegations of stinginess increased the White House's initial measly offer of $15 million for the relief effort to a grand total of $35 million.
China was the undisputed star of last week's Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty (CTBT) conference in Vienna, leaving Uncle Sam hiding in the wings.
The US has always been somewhat impatient with international non-proliferation agreements. Despite a 1992 self-imposed moratorium, in the past six years the States has conducted 19 nuclear tests, dismissing them as sub-critical and therefore acceptable.
A lawsuit on behalf of over 100,000 Gulf War veterans has the Bush administration on edge and businesses running for cover.
The class action suit names 11 companies and 33 banks alleged to have helped Iraq with its chemical weapons program in the 1980's, despite knowledge Saddam Hussein was actively using WMD against both Iranians and his own people.
Illegal biological and nuclear weapons production is on the rise - in the United States.
Ignoring the internationally-recognized Biological Weapons Convention, the US Army has patented a new grenade capable of delivering biological and chemical agents. Irony wasn't lost on the watchdog group Sunshine Project which observed, "Hans Blix might have an easier time finding illegal weapons if he were inspecting near Baltimore [site of the Army's Edgewood Arsenal facility, where two of the inventors work] instead of Baghdad."
The UMRC study found "astonishing" levels of uranium in the urine of Afghan civilians living in Nangarhar province, one of many places coalition forces bombarded with a new generation of "cave-busting" and seismic shock warheads. Interestingly, none of the civilians tested at Nangarhar showed traces of depleted uranium (DU), yet hundreds exhibited symptoms resembling those of DU-exposed Gulf War veterans.
The implications are ominous. Independent studies show coalition forces used toxic uranium alloys and hard-target uranium warheads in Afghanistan, but if the "mystery" uranium in Nangahar isn't DU, what is it? What kinds of radioactive ammunition were used elsewhere in Afghanistan? What are the long-term health implications for civilians and service members? And what are the moral, let alone criminal, implications of radiating civilian populations?
Unfortunately, Afghanistan isn't the only country reeling under the Bush administration's idea of "liberation" - Iraq has arguably fared worse. New evidence suggests the US invasion may have killed up to 10,000 Iraqi civilians, many from cluster bombs dropped into densely populated civilian areas. Meanwhile, US and British occupying forces are accused of illegally detaining and torturing Iraqi civilians, and the US military has kicked around the idea of having Iraqi "hooligans ... either captured or killed."
Of course, if Iraq was used as a testing ground for radioactive weaponry, as appears to have been the case in Afghanistan, then the true civilian costs in cancers, birth defects and human suffering could be immeasurable.
As might be expected, the US Department of Defense (DOD) has shown little interest in pinpointing the medical effects of radioactive weaponry. In the 1991 Gulf War, an estimated 320 tons of DU ammunition was dumped on Iraq, and the Pentagon later acknowledged over 900 American soldiers had sustained "moderate to heavy" DU exposure. Few epidemiological studies have been conducted to assess the damage though, and even worse, US government officials have lied to cover up bad results.
For example, a Pentagon spokesperson recently told the NATO press corps, "We have seen no cancers or leukemia" in a group of 60 Gulf War vets involved in a DU-study program, despite that fact that two participants had in fact contracted cancer. And in a press briefing last March, a DOD spokesperson downplayed health risks associated with DU, claiming Iraqis complained about it only "because we kicked the crap out of them."
Fortunately, British researchers have taken the DU issue more seriously. Scientific studies in the UK have shown Gulf veterans can have up to 14 times the normal level of genetic chromosome abnormalities, which means their children are also at increased risk for deformities and genetic diseases. It's also been proven that DU-exposed vets have a greater likelihood of contracting lymphatic or bone marrow cancer.
Findings like these have prompted the European Parliament to call for a moratorium on DU ammunition (and other types of uranium warheads) pending independent investigations into their possible harmful effects. Similarly, the UN Environment Program (UNEP) has announced plans to test the Iraqi environment for DU, and the World Health Organization (WHO) may begin similar testing on the human population.
The ultimate irony, of course, is that America may have used radioactive weaponry to justify invading other countries to search for radioactive weaponry. Bitter irony too that our service members were put at increased risk because of the weapons our government gave them.
One of the legacies of the Vietnam War is the now infamous quote from an American military press officer, "we had to destroy the village in order to save it." Rings some bells these days. In the name of "fighting terror," countries with secret weapons programs are poised to pulverize Iraq because of its secret weapons programs. And Weapons of Mass Destruction (WMD) are being used against civilians in order to prevent WMD from being used against civilians.
So let's see - you're in your last year of school and freaked out about the gloomy job picture? Just heard about those 250,000 laid off last month and wondering how you'll be able to make a decent living? No problem! With the new "War on Terrorism" and billions of war dollars suddenly floating around, a whole world of opportunity has opened up! Ok, so it would be much easier just to own a big airline, make major contributions to Bush's presidential campaign, receive billions in subsidies and then lay off 100,000 workers anyway. You can be sure someone made a nice little profit out of that. But for the rest of us there are some great options too.
As moviegoers throng to Hollywood's politically correct, dumbed-down version of "The Good War," a different kind of Pearl Harbor is being pursued in Bush's "Star Wars" program - and in both, truth is the first casualty. It's easier to focus on good looking actors and grandiose bomb sequences than on painful realities; why risk box office mega-profits by putting Pearl Harbor in its proper context?