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International solidarity activist, US citizen held in Israeli prisons for over two weeks

International Solidarity Movement | January 2, 2010

Israeli authorities continue to detain Ryan Olander, US citizen and solidarity activist, who was illegally arrested on 18 December 2009 for his support of Palestinian families evicted from their homes in Sheikh Jarrah.

Minnesota resident Ryan Olander is facing deportation after being held in Israeli prisons for over two weeks. He spent his Christmas and New Year at a deportation facility in Ramle, where his request for release has been rejected by the prison judge. His lawyer submitted an appeal to the District Court in Tel Aviv on 27 December 2009 challenging the request of the Israeli Ministry of Interior for Mr. Olander’s deportation. The lawyer is anticipating the decision of the judge within the next 48 hours.

Ryan Olander was arrested from a tent the Palestinian al-Kurd family built in their own backyard following a recent settler take-over of a section of their house. He was drinking tea and talking to the family members when six Israeli police walked into the tent and took him for questioning at the Russian Compound police station in west Jerusalem. Despite being released without charges the following day, Ryan was illegally re-arrested by immigration police only a few moments later, right outside of the same police station that told him he was free to go.

Following his arrest, Mr. Olander made the following statement:
“I have become a target of the police for standing in solidarity with the Palestinians of Sheikh Jarrah who struggle against the unjust and illegal evictions from the places they have called their homes for nearly 60 years. Now I face deportation from Israel.”

During the time Ryan Olander spent in Israeli prisons, the residents of Sheikh Jarrah in Occupied East Jerusalem have been subjected to further harassment and violence from the Israeli settlers and their supporters who recently took over the houses of several Palestinian families:

  • 21 December 2009: An attack of about 40 settlers throwing stones at the Ftyaney family house left the Palestinians with two broken windows and fear of future attacks.
  • 23 December 2009: Several hours of settler harassment following a Christmas celebration in Sheikh Jarrah included spray-painting ‘Death to Arabs’ in Hebrew, throwing fruit at Palestinians sitting in front of occupied al-Kurd house, violently pushing Palestinian residents and international activists, spray-painting one in her face.
  • 25 December 2009: Around 30 settlers attacked the Palestinian Sabbagh family, breaking into their house and injuring seven family members. Two of the injured were cut with a knife and a pregnant woman, who was kicked in her stomach, had to be taken to hospital. Another family member was hit in the face and had a gun pointed at her.
  • 26 December 2009: A group of settlers attacked Palestinians from the neighbourhood with stones. Three children and one adult were injured as result, and a French man who took pictures of the episode was violently attacked by a settler.
  • 2 January 2010: A Palestinian woman, Nadia al-Kurd (65), had to be hospitalised with respiratory problems after being attacked by a settler in her own garden.

January 2, 2010 Posted by | Civil Liberties, Solidarity and Activism | 2 Comments

The Occupation indicts the director of “Jenin, Jenin” film

Middle East Monitor | January 2, 2010

The Israeli Attorney General Menachem Mazuz is expected to file charges against the director of the film Jenin, Jenin, Mohammed Barki, for allegedly defaming Israeli soldiers.

Mazuz met with State Prosecutor Moshe Lador and the chief of the Israel Defense Forces Armored Corps, Brigadier General Agai Yehezkel, as a representative of the soldiers who invaded the Jenin Refugee Camp in 2002; in addition to family members of the 13 soldiers killed during the attack.

The meeting’s attendees called upon the Attorney General to use his authority to prosecute Bakri on charges of libel and defamation because his film accuses IDF troops of committing war crimes during the operation.

In November 2003, the Israeli Supreme Court permitted the screening of the film after its censuring, a rule that constitutes an obstacle in the way of the current indictment that Mazuz intends to make. The film had been rejected by the Israeli Ministry of Culture’s Film Ratings Board.

Military Advocate General Brigadier General Avihai Mandelblit asked Mazuz last year to initiate criminal proceedings against Bakri. A suit for libel, against Bakri, was filed by five soldiers who had participated in the attack.

January 2, 2010 Posted by | Civil Liberties, Full Spectrum Dominance, War Crimes | Comments Off on The Occupation indicts the director of “Jenin, Jenin” film

French media caught red-handed: Honduras coup protest photo presented as Iranian

Indymedia UK | January 2, 2010

The German daily Junge Welt reports that the French public national television channel “France 2” has published an image of a protest in Honduras against the June 2009 military coup and portrayed it as young Iranians resisting security forces during the Ashura day protests in Tehran.

This abuse of images was noticed by the French website “Arret Sur Images“.

Further, while France 2 apologized for this “mistake”, Le Parisien, a French daily which also published this image on Monday, tried to blame it on the Associated Press, the originator of the image.

The Associated Press in return defended that they published this image already on June 29 and that it was also printed in Le Figaro and in The Independent in the beginning of July.

As the author of the Junge Welt recalls, this practice is a reminder of the behaviour of German media in summer 2008, when the mainstream news (ZDF, RTL, Bild, N24) used images from Nepal and India to illustrate Chinese police violence in Tibet.

January 2, 2010 Posted by | Deception | Comments Off on French media caught red-handed: Honduras coup protest photo presented as Iranian

Pakistan’s Strategic Nuclear Assets: Why are they a thorn in the side of so many?

By Shahid R. Siddiqi |Axis of Logic | January 2, 2010

When India exploded its first nuclear device in 1974, culminating a program launched as far back as 1951, Western powers only reacted with customary “show of concern”. But on the other hand, Pakistan’s nuclear program, initiated in response to the Indian acquisition of nuclear weapons, evoked immediate and “serious concern” from the same Western powers. This discriminatory attitude has since persisted. Pakistan has remained under pressure from the US-led lobby to scrap its program while the Indians remained uncensored.

India has often tried to justify its nuclear program as a counter to the Chinese threat. This is preposterous. China has shown no belligerency towards India. The war of 1962 resulted from India’s arrogance in refusing to amicably settle a boundary dispute with China, just as it has done with Pakistan. And if China was such a big threat why have other countries of the region not complained or scrambled to seek nuclear umbrellas?

Bhutto and the “religious bomb”

That Western attitude was discriminatory can also be seen by the religious color it gave to Pakistan’s bomb by calling it an ‘Islamic bomb’.

One has never heard of the Israeli bomb being called a ‘Jewish Bomb’, or the Indian bomb a ‘Hindu Bomb’, or the American and British bomb a ‘Christian Bomb’ or the Soviet bomb a ‘Communist’ (or an ‘Atheist) Bomb’. The West simply used Pakistan’s bomb to make Islam and aggression synonymous, although Pakistan’s bomb was merely for defensive purposes and was not even remotely associated with Islam.

With India going nuclear soon after playing a crucial role in dismembering Pakistan in 1971 and enjoying an overwhelming conventional military superiority over Pakistan (in the ratio 4:1) a resource-strapped Pakistan was pushed to the wall. Left with no choice but to develop a nuclear deterrent to create a balance of power and ward off Indian threat, Prime Minister Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto declared: “Pakistanis will eat grass but make a nuclear bomb”. And sure enough, they did it. But soon both he and the nuclear program were to become non-grata. Amid intense pressure, sanctions and vilification campaign, Henry Kissinger personally delivered to a defiant Bhutto the American threat: “give up your nuclear program or else we will make a horrible example of you.”

And a horrible example was made of Bhutto for his defiance. Bhutto signed Pakistan’s nuclear program with his blood to enable Pakistan to become the 7th nuclear power in the world, forcing India to shun belligerency. Although there has never been real peace in South Asia, at least there has been no war since 1971.

Pakistan’s nuclear program: a deterrent to Indo-Israeli dominion

Ignoring its perspective on acquisition of strategic assets, Pakistan’s Western ‘friends’ refused to admit it to their exclusive nuclear club, pressuring it to give up nuclear ambitions instead. However, expediency made them look the other way when it suited their purpose. In 1980s and post 9/11 when Pakistan was needed to play a key role in Afghanistan as the ‘front line state’, the American spotlights on its nuclear program were switched off.

But Pakistan’s nuclear program remained under threat from the foes – India and Israel, who felt their interests were threatened. In collusion, both of them missed no opportunity to directly or indirectly malign Pakistan’s nuclear program or subvert it. Both countries having similar geo-strategic interests in their respective regions, see Pakistan as an obstacle to their designs.

India sees Pakistan as an unnatural creation which, having been carved out of its body, now refuses to submit to its diktat and obstructs its quest for unchallenged domination of South Asia and the Indian Ocean region.

Israel looks at Pakistan’s military prowess and its nukes as indirectly strengthening the hands of Arab states with which it has remained in a state of conflict and which it has continued to terrorize all these years. It is conscious that several Arab states look up to Pakistan for military support when faced with external threat to their security that comes mainly from Israel. It is unsettling for Israel to see such a state to be in possession of nuclear weapons.

Israel also cannot overlook the fact that Pakistan Air Force pilots, when flying mostly Russian aircraft, surprised the Israeli Air Force and shot down several relatively superior Israeli jets in air combat in the 1973 Arab Israel war. They shattered the myth of the invincibility of Israeli pilots who believed themselves to be too superior in skill and technology. These Pakistani pilots happened to be assigned to Jordanian, Syrian and Iraqi air forces on training missions when the war broke out and they inconspicuously joined the operations.

The foiled Israeli plan to bomb Kahuta

Having successfully bombed and destroyed the Iraqi nuclear reactor in 1981, Israelis were encouraged to launch a similar attack on Kahuta, a village to the east of Islamabad where Pakistan’s nascent nuclear research program was located. In collaboration with India, the Israelis made plans for this mission in early 1980s. Using satellite pictures and intelligence information provided by the CIA, they reportedly built a full-scale mock-up of Kahuta facility in the southern Negev Desert and pilots of F-16 and F-15 squadrons went through mock attack exercises.

According to the story published in London by The Asian Age citing revelations by journalists Adrian Levy and Catherine Scott-Clark in their book ‘Deception: Pakistan, the US and the Global Weapons Conspiracy’,  the Israeli Air Force planned to launch an air attack on Kahuta in mid 1980s from Jamnagar airfield in Gujarat (India) and land and refuel at a base in northern India. The book claims that “in March 1984, Prime Minister Indira Gandhi signed off (on) the Israeli-led operation, bringing India, Pakistan and Israel to within a hairs breadth of a nuclear conflagration”.

Another report claims that Israel had planned to launch an air strike directly out of Israel. After midway and midair refueling, Israeli warplanes were to shoot down a commercial airline flight over the Indian Ocean that routinely flew into Islamabad early morning. The Israelis would have flown in a tight formation to appear as one large aircraft on radar screens preventing detection. Using the drowned airliner’s call sign they would have entered Islamabad’s air space, knocked out Kahuta and flown on to land in Jammu, an Indian airbase, to refuel and make an exit.

Reliable reports say that in mid 1980s this mission was actually launched one night. But the Israelis were in for a big surprise. They discovered that the Pakistan Air Force had already sounded an alert and had taken to the skies in anticipation of this attack. The Indo-Israeli mission had to be hurriedly called off.

Pakistan reminded the Israelis that Pakistan was no Iraq and that the Pakistan Air Force was no Iraqi Air Force. Using indirect channels, Pakistan is reported to have conveyed that an attack on Kahuta would force Pakistan to lay waste to Dimona, Israel’s nuclear reactor in the Negev Desert. Pakistan drew up contingency plans for a retaliatory strike on Dimona in case of any future Israeli misadventure. India was also warned that Islamabad would attack Trombay if its facilities in Kahuta were hit.

The above quoted book claims that “Prime Minister Indira Gandhi eventually aborted the operation despite protests from military planners in New Delhi and Jerusalem.”

This Indo-Israeli plan was also confirmed by a paper published by the Australian Institute for National Strategic Studies. It stated,

“Israeli interest in destroying Pakistan’s Kahuta reactor to scuttle the ‘Islamic bomb’ was blocked by India’s refusal to grant landing and refueling rights to Israeli warplanes in 1982.”

Clearly India wanted to see Kahuta gone but did not want to face retaliation against its own nuclear facilities at the hands of the Pakistan Air Force. Israel, on its part wanted this to be a joint Indo-Israeli strike so that Israel alone would not be held responsible.

The Reagan administration also showed reluctance to support the plan as any distraction on Pakistan’s part at that juncture would have hurt American interests in Afghanistan where Pakistan was engaged as key US ally against the Soviets.

The Propaganda Campaign

Although the two countries had to give up plans to hit Kahuta, they continued their diatribe against Pakistan’s nuclear program through an organized propaganda campaign which has been accelerated today. Israel used its clout over the American political establishment and the Western media to create hysteria. India also worked extensively to promote paranoia. Pakistan’s program was branded as unsafe, insecure and a threat to peace, although it is technically more sound, much safer and more secure than that of India and has ensured absence of war in the region.

Use of terrorists to destabilize Pakistan

The US invasion of Afghanistan provided another opening for the Indo-Israeli nexus to target Pakistan’s strategic assets. This time the strategy was to present Pakistan as an unstable state, incapable of defending itself against religious extremist insurgents, creating the specter of nuclear assets falling into their hands in Islamabad. This was achieved by creating a proxy organization – Tehrik-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) in the Pakistan-Afghan border areas where they recruited rogue elements and spread chaos to destabilize Pakistan through terrorism. Suggestions were floated that in view of the possibility of Pakistan succumbing to extremists, its nuclear assets should be disabled, seized or forcibly taken out by the US. Alternatively, an international agency should take them over for safe keeping. […]

The Indo-Israeli nexus is losing the initiative. But as long as the American umbrella is not denied, Afghanistan will remain a playground for these mischief mongers. It is now up to the US to walk its talk if it is sincere about its claim that it wants to see a secure and stable Pakistan. It must put an end to conspiracies to destabilize Pakistan.

Read his bio and more analyses and essays by
Axis of Logic Columnist, Shahid R. Siddiqi

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January 2, 2010 Posted by | Islamophobia, Mainstream Media, Warmongering, Wars for Israel | 6 Comments

Ireland’s atheists test blasphemy law

The Age | January 3, 2010

SECULAR campaigners in the Republic of Ireland defied a strict new blasphemy law that came into force on New Year’s Day by publishing a series of anti-religious quotations online and promising to fight the legislation in court.

The law, which was passed in July, means blasphemy in Ireland is now a crime punishable with a fine of up to 25,000 euros.

It defines blasphemy as ”publishing or uttering matter that is grossly abusive or insulting in relation to matters sacred by any religion, thereby intentionally causing outrage among a substantial number of adherents of that religion, with some defences permitted”.

Justice Minister Dermot Ahern has said the law was necessary because while immigration had brought a growing diversity of religious faiths, the 1936 constitution only extended the protection of belief to Christians.

But Atheist Ireland, a group that claims to represent the rights of atheists, responded to the legislation by publishing 25 anti-religious quotations on its website, from figures including Richard Dawkins, Bjork and Frank Zappa.

Michael Nugent, the group’s chairman, said it would challenge the law through the courts if it was charged with blasphemy.

Mr Nugent said: ”This new law is both silly and dangerous. It is silly because medieval religious laws have no place in a modern secular republic, where the criminal law should protect people and not ideas. And it is dangerous because it incentives religious outrage, and because Islamic states led by Pakistan are already using the wording of this Irish law to promote new blasphemy laws at UN level.

”We believe in the golden rule: that we have a right to be treated justly, and that we have a responsibility to treat other people justly. Blasphemy laws are unjust: they silence people in order to protect ideas. In a civilised society, people have a right to express and to hear ideas about religion even if other people find those ideas to be outrageous.”

Mr Nugent said the group’s campaign to repeal the law was part of a wider battle to create a more secular republic.” You would think that after all the scandals the Catholic Church endured in 2009, the introduction of a blasphemy law would be the last thing that the Irish state would be considering in terms of defending religion and its place in society.”

January 2, 2010 Posted by | Civil Liberties | 1 Comment

Uranium Weapons, Low-Level Radiation and Deformed Babies

by Paul Zimmerman | Global Research | January 1, 2010

A dramatic increase in the number of babies born with birth defects was recently reported by doctors working in Falluja, Iraq [1]. One of the proposed causes for this alarming situation is radiation exposure to the population produced by uranium weapons. The international radiation protection community dismisses this explanation as completely unreasonable because (1) the radiation dose to the population of Iraq was too low, and (2) no evidence of birth defects was reported among offspring born to survivors of the atomic bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki. This so-called scientific explanation is deeply disturbing, for it is out of touch with the current knowledge base. Abundant evidence exists which clearly demonstrates that birth defects are being induced by levels of radiation in the environment deemed safe by the radiation protection community. In light of this knowledge, uranium contamination cannot be summarily dismissed as a hazard to the unborn.

The destruction of the nuclear reactor at Chernobyl produced a different type of radiation exposure from that portrayed for the atomic bomb. In Japan, victims were exposed to an instantaneous flash of gamma radiation and neutrons delivered from outside their bodies. In contrast, the Chernobyl accident scattered microscopic radioactive particles from the reactor’s core throughout Europe which was then inhaled and ingested by the populace.  In this situation, those contaminated began receiving ongoing, low-dose exposure internally.  According to the current theory of radiation effects embraced by the radiation protection community, there is no qualitative difference in the two types of exposure. What matters is the total amount of energy delivered to the body. Thus, the health effects experienced by the survivors of Hiroshima and Nagasaki can be considered to be representative of the health effects produced from any type of radiation exposure. In the case of birth defects, this assumption has been proven wrong.  As a result of the external exposure in Japan, there was no increase in the incidence of birth defects among children whose parents were exposed to the bombings [2]. In contrast, radiation-induced birth defects have been documented in populations receiving low doses of internal contamination.  In light of this contradiction, it’s obvious that the accepted theory of radiation effects is in error and needs to be corrected. The information which follows will demonstrate the hazard to the unborn produced by radioactive material vented into the environment.

1.  In the book Chernobyl: 20 Years On, a chapter is devoted to discussing the birth defects in children who, while gestating in the wombs of their mothers, were exposed to radioactivity released by the Chernobyl reactor [3]. The author provides an overview of dozens of studies which confirm that low levels of radiation present in many areas of Europe after Chernobyl were responsible for a wide variety of birth defects. These birth defects occurred where radiation exposure was judged by the radiation protection agencies to be too low to warrant concern.  Fifteen studies were cited which demonstrated an increase in the incidence of a wide variety of congenital malformations. Other studies cited confirmed increases in the rate of stillbirths, infant deaths, spontaneous abortions, and low birthweight babies. An elevated incidence of Down’s syndrome was also documented. In addition, an excess of a variety of other health defects were detected which included mental retardation and other mental disorders, diseases of the respiratory and circulatory systems, and asthma.

In a separate chapter of the same book, Alexey Yablokov of the Russian Academy of Sciences provided a review of the extensive body of research conducted after Chernobyl.  Regarding studies on birth defects, he cited an increased frequency of a number of congenital malformations which included cleft lip and/or palate (“hare lip”), doubling of the kidneys, polydactyly (extra fingers or toes), anomalies in the development of nervous and blood systems, amelia (limb reduction defects), anencephaly (defective development of the brain), spina bifida (incomplete closure of the spinal column), Down’s syndrome, abnormal openings in the esophagus and anus, and multiple malformations occurring simultaneously [4].

2.   The wide range of birth defects produced by the Chernobyl accident cannot be accounted for by the data collected from the survivors of Hiroshima and Nagasaki. This is one compelling thread of evidence that something is amiss in the current field of radiation protection. But there is a further problem.  The proposed threshold dose of radiation capable of interfering with the development of a fetus, again based on the research from Japan, is between fifty and one hundred times greater than what the radiation protection community insists was the typical exposure in the areas of Europe where the elevated frequency of birth defects was documented. How are we to make sense of these contradictions? Chromosome studies conducted in the contaminated regions provide the answer.

In individuals exposed to ionizing radiation, peripheral lymphocytes, those lymphocytes which circulate in the blood, have an elevated occurrence of certain types of misshapen chromosomes [3,5]. Of particular interest are dicentric chromosomes which are produced when radiation breaks both strands of the DNA double helix in two neighboring chromosomes and the genetic material is then misrepaired. An increase in the relative frequency of these aberrantly shaped structures serve as a biological indicator of radiation exposure which is immune to lies and political propaganda.  More specifically, the increased rate of these aberrations is proportional to the dose of radiation received. Thus, their frequency can be used to determine the true level of exposure in contaminated individuals. Studies of this type were conducted in Europe subsequent to the Chernobyl accident [3]. These studies demonstrated that the official dose estimates published by the radiation protection agencies were woefully in error, greatly underestimating the true level of exposure of people throughout Europe.  This discrepancy casts further doubt on the scientific integrity of those organizations who are supposedly protecting the world from radioactive pollution. When combining the studies of chromosome aberrations with the studies of birth defects, the science speaks for itself: the population in many areas of Europe received much higher doses from Chernobyl than claimed and birth defects were induced by much smaller doses than suggested by current radiation protection science.

3. As the clouds of fallout from Chernobyl wafted around the planet, governments broadcast reassurances to their anxious citizens that there was no cause for concern, that doses to the public would be too low to produce detrimental health effects. Politically motivated, this advice was medically ill-conceived. What became evident after the accident was that children who received exposure to Chernobyl fallout, while still in the wombs of their mothers, experienced an elevated risk of developing leukemia by the time of their first birthday [6,7]. Relevant to this discussion is the fact that a gene mutation occurring in utero is one cause of infant leukemia [8,9].)  In countries where unimpeachable data was collected for levels of fallout deposited in the environment, doses to the population, and the incidence of childhood leukemia, an unmistakable, uniform trend emerged: the studied population of children born during the 18-month period following the accident suffered increased rates of leukemia in their first year of life compared to children born prior to the accident or to those born subsequent to the accident after the level of  possible maternal contamination had sufficiently diminished. This was confirmed in five separate studies conducted independently of one another: in Greece [9], Germany [10], Scotland [11], the United States [12], and Wales [13]. Again here is evidence that defects are being induced in fetuses that we are told by the radiation protection community are not possible. According to the European Committee on Radiation Risk (ECRR), these results provide unequivocal evidence that the risk model of the International Commission on Radiological Protection (ICRP) for infant leukemia is in error by a factor of between 100-fold and 2000-fold, the latter figure allowing for a continued excess incidence of leukemia as the population of children studied continues to age [6].

4.  Other types of chromosome studies have been performed which demonstrate that radiation in the environment is producing damage to DNA that is being passed on to offspring.  Minisatellites are identical short segments of DNA that repeat over and over again in a long array along a chromosome. These stretches of DNA do not code for the formation of any protein. What distinguishes these minisatellites is that they acquire spontaneous repeats through mutation at a known rate, which is 1,000 times higher than normal protein-coding genes. Dr. Yuri Dubrova, currently at the University of Leicester, first realized that these stretches of DNA could be used to detect radiation-induced genetic mutations by showing that their known rate of mutation had increased subsequent to exposure.  Dubrova and his colleagues studied the rate of minisatellite mutations in families that had lived in the heavily polluted rural areas of the Mogilev district of Belarus after the Chernobyl meltdown [14]. They found the frequency of mutations being passed on by males to their descendants was nearly twice as high in the exposed families compared to the control group families. Among those exposed, the mutation rate was significantly greater in families with a higher parental dose. This finding was consistent with the hypothesis that radiation had induced mutations in the the reproductive germ cells of parents and then transmitted to their offspring. This was the first conclusive proof that radiation produced inheritable mutations in humans.

Minisatellite DNA testing has also been performed on the children of Chernobyl “liquidators” i.e., those people who participated in post-accident cleanup operations. When the offspring of liquidators born after the accident were compared to their siblings born prior to the accident, a sevenfold increase in genetic damage was observed [15,16].  As reported by the ECRR, “for the loci measured, this finding defined an error of between 700-fold and 2,000-fold in the ICRP model for heritable genetic damage” [6]. The ECRR made this further observation: “It is remarkable that studies of the children of those exposed to external radiation at Hiroshima show little or no such effect, suggesting a fundamental difference in mechanism between the exposures [17].  The most likely difference is that it was the internal exposure to the Chernobyl liquidators that caused the effects”.

5. In November 2009, Joseph Mangano of the Radiation and Public Health Project published a study of newborn hypothyroidism near the Indian Point nuclear reactors in Buchanan, New York [13]. Hypothyroidism is a disease characterized by an insufficient production of the hormone thyroxine. One cause of the disease is exposure to radioactive iodine which selectively destroys cells in the thyroid gland. Currently, the only environmental source of radioactive iodine is emissions from nuclear power plants. According to Mangano, four counties in New York state flank Indian Point and nearly all the residents of these counties live within 20 miles of the reactor complex. During the period 1997 to 2007, the rate of newborn hypothyroidism in the combined four-county population was 92.4% greater, or nearly double, the U.S. rate. The rate in each of the four counties separately was above the U.S. rate, and in two of the counties, the rate was more than double the national rate. In the period 2005-2007, the four county rate was 151.4% above the national rate. These finding were consistent with the fact that the local rate of thyroid cancer is 66% greater than the U.S. rate [14].

Mangano’s study raises important questions regarding our common welfare.  We live with assurances by government and industry that nuclear reactors are operating within guidelines sponsored by the radiation protection agencies.  What radiation they emit are dismissed as too low to warrant concern. An yet, babies born to mothers living in proximity to Indian Point are suffering an increased rate of hypothyroidism.  Either the reactor complex is emitting more radiation than publicly known, or once again, there is an error in the safety standards published by the radiation protection community.

6. Are weapons containing depleted uranium a cause for concern for producing birth defects? Given that uranium inside the human body targets the reproductive system, the elevated rate of birth defects in Iraq strongly suggests that DU exposure is involved. In experimental animals exposed to uranium compounds, uranium has been found to accumulate in the testes [20]. Among Gulf War veterans wounded by DU shrapnel, elevated levels of uranium have been found in their semen [21]. In light of this discovery, the Royal Society cautions that this raises “the possibility of adverse effects on the sperm from either the alpha-particles emanating from DU, chemical effects of uranium on the genetic material or the chemical toxicity of uranium [21].” In experiments on female rats, uranium was found to cross the placenta and become concentrated in the tissues of the fetus [20,21,22].  When DU pellets were implanted into pregnant female rats, a direct relation was observed between the amount of contamination in the mother and the amount of contamination in the placenta and the fetus [23,24]. Most importantly, once dissolved within the body, uranium’s primary chemical form is the uranyl ion UO2++. This form of uranium has an affinity for DNA and binds strongly to it [25]. This fact alone is should be sufficient to halt the scattering of DU aerosols amidst populations. Internalized uranium targets human genetic material! Needless to say, this fact is totally ignored by the International Commission on Radiological Protection and related organizations when determining safe levels of exposure to uranium and assessing the risk posed by uranium for inducing birth defects.

7.  In infants, hydrocephalus is a condition characterized by increased head size and atrophy of the brain. The frequency of this birth defect has increased dramatically in Iraq since the first Gulf War [26]. A small and admittedly incomplete study conducted in the United States lends credence to the hypothesis that DU exposure is the causative agent [26]. Rural and sparsely populated Socorro County is located downwind of a DU-weapons testing site, the Terminal Effects Research and Analysis division of the New Mexico Institute of Mining and Technology. On average, 250 births occur yearly in the county.  An investigation by a community activist revealed that between 1984 and 1986, five infants were born with hydrocephalus. (The normal rate of hydrocephalus is one case in every 500 live births). According to the demonstrably incomplete State of New Mexico’s passive birth defects registry, between 1984 and 1988, 19 infants were born statewide with the condition, three of these within Socorro county. Regardless of which accounting is correct, the results are disturbing given that Socorro contains less than 1% of the state’s population.

8.  To conclude, the current dogma regarding radiation effects cannot account for the increase in genetic malformations in populations exposed internally to low levels of radiation. Something is deeply wrong with the current science of radiation safety.  Given this, statements by the radiation protection community regarding the impossibility that low levels of uranium can cause birth defects are suspect.  Numerous studies demonstrate that uranium produces a wide range of birth defects in experimental animals [20,26].  Further, numerous in vitro and in vivo studies conducted in the last twenty years have proven that uranium is genotoxic (capable of damaging DNA), cytotoxic (poisonous to cells), and mutagenic (capable of inducing mutations) [27]. These effects are produced either by uranium’s radioactivity or its chemistry or a synergistic interaction between the two. These findings lend plausibility to the idea that the observed increased incidence of deformed babies in Iraq is related to depleted uranium munitions [26].

Paul Zimmerman is the author of A Primer in the Art of Deception:  The Cult of Nuclearists, Uranium Weapons and Fraudulent Science.  A more technical, fully referenced presentation of the ideas presented in this article can be found within its pages. Excerpts, free to download, are available at


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[15] Weinberg H.S., Korol A.B., Kiezhner V.M., Avavivi A., Fahima T., Nevo E., Shapiro S., Rennert G., Piatak O., Stepanova E.I., Skarskaja E. Very High Mutation Rate in Offspring of Chernobyl Accident Liquidators. Proceedings of the Royal Society. London. 2001; D, 266:1001-1005.
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[18] Mangano J. Newborn Hypothyroidism Near the Indian Point Nuclear Plant. Radiation and Public Health Project. November 25, 2009.
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January 2, 2010 Posted by | Environmentalism, Militarism, Nuclear Power, Science and Pseudo-Science, War Crimes | 3 Comments

Boy watches U.S. forces shoot father in head

By Dave Markland | January 1, 2010

Recent reports indicate that a new stage may have been reached in the war in Afghanistan. Secret operations of CIA and special forces appear to have stepped up their infamous night raids, which have induced fear in much of the local population.

We saw in a blog post a few weeks ago that up to 15 civilians in Laghman were killed in a ground forces operation apparently carried out under NATO command. NATO itself, after initial denials, appeared to acknowledge civilian casualties, but was characteristically vague about it.

Now, according to the article below, it seems that the attack-cum-massacre was carried out at night and, according to locals, perpetrated by US special forces on the ground. (The Washington Post, however, mistakenly reported as late as Dec 30 that the attack was an airstrike.)

US forces ‘like to kill us’
Sayed Karim – The National
December 28. 2009

… According to witnesses, US troops entered a number of houses near the provincial capital, Mehtar Lam, in an overnight operation [on Dec 7/8]. The victims included Mohammed Ismail, whose 10-year-old son, Rafiullah, described what happened: “When the soldiers came to our house, my father asked them, ‘Who are you?’ Then they shot him in the head and told us, ‘Be quiet and tell us where the weapons are’.”

Said Ahmad Safi, a spokesman for Laghman’s governor, said insurgents had previously staged attacks against officials and foreign troops in the area. He acknowledged that 12 people – including a woman – had apparently died in the raid, which locals reported was carried out by US Special Forces…

Discontent with the government and the occupation has inevitably fuelled support for the Taliban among the local population. Despite still being relatively secure compared with much of eastern Afghanistan, there has been growing rebel activity here in recent months as the insurgents edge closer and closer to neighbouring Kabul…

Gulzar Sankerwal, chairman of the provincial council, said: “The Taliban do not fight face to face. This is guerrilla fighting so if more troops arrive, they will not solve the problem. When the commander in Kabul asked Obama for the extra troops, he knew the USA would end up with one achievement, and that is more civilian casualties.” … (link)

Note that in spite of (and because of) the two Obama-ordered troop surges, the insurgency continues to spread, moving closer to Kabul.

So it turns out that the deaths occurred in a nighttime raid, one of what appears to be an increasing number of such operations. The Dec 7/8 disaster was recently repeated in Kunar on Dec 27 and again in Baghlan on Dec 28/29 – an incident which has gone largely unnoticed in the media, though it has now been overshadowed by the Dec 30 incident in Helmand – a daytime missile strike by NATO forces. AFP has more on the Dec 27 Kunar incident:

Nato’s International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) had no information on any operations or casualties in Kunar.

A senior Western military official told AFP that US special forces have been conducting operations against militants in the border regions of Kunar.

“They have been killing a lot of Taliban and capturing a lot of Taliban,” he said.

The operations were conducted independently of ISAF, which number more than 110,000 fighting to eradicate the Taliban, he said… (link)

And yet that may not be the end of the intriguing details. While locals in Kunar say the 8 teenagers were killed in a US special forces raid, AFP reports that they may have been CIA operatives:

NATO forces have disputed the results of the Afghan probe, saying the foreigners involved were non-military Americans on a sanctioned operation who fired in self-defence after being shot at by villagers. (link)

US special forces like the Green Berets or Navy Seals are military personnel while CIA officers are not. Of course, neither are mercenaries such as Blackwater. It seems possible that “non-military Americans” could refer to either CIA or mercs.

In all likelihood, the recent spate of nighttime raids were undertaken by a mix of CIA, special forces and perhaps mercenaries. CIA agents are known to work alongside special forces in Afghanistan and recent reports about Blackwater revealed their involvement in CIA operations there.

Finally, the recent attack in Baghlan, courtesy of the Afghan press since few if any western media reported the incident:

‘Four civilians killed in Baghlan air raid’
Habib Rahman Sherzai – Dec 29, 2009

PUL-I-KHUMRI (Pajhwok) – Four civilians have reportedly been killed and eight others wounded in a fresh air strike by foreign forces in northern Baghlan province, residents alleged on Tuesday.

The overnight attack took place in Kohna Qala area of Baghlan-i-Markazi district, residents told Pajhwok Afghan News…

In the last night air raid, the dead included a father and his three sons, who were killed while running to escape the bombardment, a teacher at the Jamiat Aburjaee High School in the area, Karim Safi, told Pajhwok Afghan News. A student of the school, Karim Javed, said that the air raid also left many people wounded including a student of his school.

Head of the district hospital, Abdul Qahir Qanit, said they had received eight injured people delivered to the hospital with a woman and a child in a critical condition… (link)


January 2, 2010 Posted by | Illegal Occupation, Subjugation - Torture, War Crimes | Comments Off on Boy watches U.S. forces shoot father in head

44 US drone hits in Pakistan killed 700 civilians in 2009

The Peninsula | January 2, 2010

PESHAWAR: Of the 44 Predator strikes carried out by the American drones in the tribal areas of Pakistan in 12 months of 2009, only five were able to hit their actual targets, killing five key Al Qaeda and Taliban leaders, but at the cost of around 700 innocent civilian lives.

According to the figures compiled by the Pakistani authorities, the Afghanistan-based US drones killed 708 people in 44 predator attacks targeting the Pakistani tribal areas between January 1 and December 31, 2009. For each Al Qaeda and Taliban terrorist killed by the American drones, 140 civilian Pakistanis also had to die. Over 90 percent of those killed in the deadly missile strikes were innocent civilians.

The success percentage for the drone hits during 2009 is hardly 11 percent. On average, 58 civilians were killed in these attacks every month, 12 persons every week and almost two people every day. Most of the hits were conducted on the basis of human intelligence, reportedly provided by the Pakistani and Afghan tribesmen, who are spying for the US-led allied forces in Afghanistan.

Of the five successful predator attacks carried out in 2009, the first one came on January 1, which reportedly killed two senior al-Qaeda leaders – Usama al-Kin and Sheikh Ahmed Salim, both wanted by the American Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI). Kin was the chief operational commander of Al Qaeda in Pakistan and had replaced Abu Faraj Al Libi after his arrest in 2004.

The second successful drone attack was conducted on August 5 in South Waziristan that killed the most wanted fugitive chief of the Tehrik-e-Taliban Pakistan Baitullah Mehsud along with his wife. The US State Department had announces a $5m head money for information leading to Baitullah , making him the only Pakistani fugitive with the head money separately announced by Islamabad and Washington.

January 2, 2010 Posted by | Illegal Occupation, Progressive Hypocrite, Subjugation - Torture, War Crimes | 1 Comment

Gaza Freedom March Wrap Up

By Sana (Keffiyeh And Onions)

I’m sure its going to take me some time to process everything that has happened in Cairo with the Gaza Freedom March over the past week or so but here are some of my initial thoughts and feelings. Bear in mind, these are my own opinions and reflections and they surely are not the same as the 1300 other people who were in Cairo. So for what its worth – here it goes:

This whole political experience here with CODEPINK, for me, has been honestly disappointing and angering. I’m going to be honest here, I did not participate in many of the protests that took place in Cairo because I had serious issues with the way everything was being handled and the way that the March really seemed to have fallen apart and unraveled once everyone realized that our chances of getting into Gaza were really slim to none. From the very first meeting that was held in Tahrir Square, the individuals who were going to be staying in Gaza longer (past January 2nd) were told to not participate in any of these demonstrations because if we did somehow come up with a way to get into Gaza, if we had any record or history with problems with the Egyptians – this would effectively eliminate any chance of us getting in. People told us to completely “disassociate from the March” and that because Egypt is not a democracy, “nothing we do will change their minds” – which sadly, ended up being quite true despite how often people demonstrated, were barricaded in by people, and some even beaten up. Moral of the story: This is not the U.S., they don’t care that you’re Americans, and we did not fly thousands of miles to protest in Egypt.

Aside from this though, there were so many critical problems with the way things were being done and decisions were being made that I really felt uncomfortable with doing anything that GFM was doing in Cairo.

I felt as though there was no insight to the way the Egyptian government works, or the greater public opinion in Egypt, at all. We cannot simply think that a country, who has religiously served the agenda of the U.S. and Israel, will do a complete 360 and open the borders when a group of activists show up, no matter how big. Anyone who has any familiarity with the politics of this conflict, know that Egypt’s role in ensuring the Palestinian suffering is not a new or novel concept. Given that, the fact that CODEPINK did not prepare for the very unsurprising setback that Egypt delivered by closing its borders, really baffled me. When we got news on Monday, that the borders were going to be closed and no one would enter, I figured that this was a very expected move (especially after news of Egypt’s steel wall just was released as well) and that the steering committee and whoever else also saw this coming and that surely back up plans and strategies were on hand now that Egypt played its cards. But after a couple days when everyone started arriving and it was time to figure out what we were going to do, it just seemed like these small fragmented actions (the hunger strike here, french sit-in there) were things that groups were doing on their own, hardly with any support from the mass collective. There was no unified message besides come out in the streets and protest. It felt like everyone kind of went their own way and that now instead of focusing on the occupation we were going to go after the Egyptian government – which as much as I have issues with that they are doing and how they add to the Palestinian suffering – that is not why I came here.

Lets clarify something here. As much as I hate Egypt, Egypt is NOT occupying the Palestinian territories. ISRAEL is. I mean, to a certain degree, by doing of all this, I feel, we took a lot of heat off of Israel b/c the press coverage just shows a bunch of people demonstrating in Cairo, which is giving the message that we have a problem with Egypt for what they are doing wrong when we were here to raise awareness of the ISRAELI OCCUPATION and Operation Cast Lead which was carried out by ISRAEL one year ago. Why are people shouting “Free Egypt” at the demonstrations? It makes no sense, we had no focus.

I want to believe that GFM tried to do the best that it could, given the circumstances, but honestly it just led to many people feeling as if they had to do something, anything, since we weren’t being allowed in Gaza. Don’t get me wrong, I am a firm believer in public resistance and demonstrating, even getting arrested when its necessary, etc – but you cannot do these things without tons of planning, proper escalation tactics leading up to massive direct action like that, and a solid SOLID solid foundation in Egypt (resources, connections, lawyers, etc) for the people that do take those risks. Otherwise, you just end up looking like a bunch of stupid foreigners (mostly Americans) who are protesting, sitting in, going on hunger strike – for what? We came here to deliver aid and stand in solidarity with the Palestinian people in Gaza – if that was not going to happen then we could have held all of these actions back in our home towns where we know how things work, we know what resources we have, and we can accurately assess what type of risk we are willing to take for this dire cause. After these past few days, I feel that all we’ve done is agitate Egypt for a brief period of time, spent a lot of money fueling this unjust country’s economy, and made the daily lives of the Egyptian people harder.

When our plans fell through, and it did not seem like we were going to get in, there should have been a massive meeting/discussion with a vote with all of the delegates who have come from around the world as to what we think would be the best thing to do. But when people were told to figure it out and come up with ideas, you had serious fragmentation and people, like the French delegates, who were occupying the area in front of the Embassy feeling like they did not have support or instances like when the entire Japanese delegation just left after the first day for the West Bank. All I’ve been asking myself these past few days is “What the hell is going on?” and “What is all of this?”. And to tell the truth, I still really don’t know because I don’t think GFM really even knows.

The “100 people to Gaza” stunt was also another fiasco that only further divided this group and our efforts. At first, CODEPINK accepts this offer and takes credit for it since the women went and talked to Suzanne Mubarak. They come up with a list in a very short time of these people who would get to go, not realizing what a bad mistake this is. After a few hour, they do realize its a bad idea, send out an official message saying how they have ‘rejected’ this offer, and yet, lo and behold people STILL got on the buses and went? Again, “What is going on?”

I realize that this has gotten really long already and these are just some of my preliminary thoughts from the past few days. As of right now this is how I feel: as much as I’d like to really blame fully the repressive Egyptian dictatorship for the Gaza Freedom March falling apart and not succeeding, I believe that CODEPINK, and the same old foreign arrogance/ignorance we have, has a lot to do with it this time as well. Sadly, the Palestinian people are still under occupation and I wish the best of luck to the VIVA Palestina convoys who seem to have a better grasp on how to deal with all this nonsense than we do.

Until later, free free Palestine,


January 2, 2010 Posted by | Civil Liberties, Solidarity and Activism | Comments Off on Gaza Freedom March Wrap Up