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Obama Administration Stonewalls Inquiry into Radioactive Weapon Use in Iraq

By Noel Brinkerhoff | AllGov | March 09, 2013

Efforts to determine the health and environmental risks of depleted uranium (DU) weaponry in Iraq have been hampered by the Obama administration. DU, which makes shell and bullet casings harder and more capable of piercing armor, can contaminate the environment and contribute to health problems, including cancer and birth defects.

The Dutch peace group IKV Pax Christi complained in a new report that “Coalition Forces” (read: the United States) have refused to provide information on when and where invading forces fired DU weaponry.

Due to a “lack of transparency” by the U.S., “there is an absence of crucial information on firing coordinates, the quantities and types of DU munitions used; data gaps relating to the efforts undertaken to clean up contaminated sites and material are hindering efforts to assess risks and implement remediation work,” the report reads.

There are reportedly more than 300 sites in Iraq that were contaminated by DU weapons, many of them located in populated areas.

It is estimated that 400 tons of DU ammunition were fired in Iraq, mostly by American units, during the Gulf War and the 2003 invasion. Although the United States continues to use depleted uranium munitions, the report notes that “over the last couple of years the US Army has invested in research into replacing DU rounds in the A-10 with tungsten alloy based munitions, as well as non-DU 105 and 120mm munitions for the M1A2 Abrams tank, referring in their rationale for this move to DU’s potential environmental impact.”

To Learn More:

In a State of Uncertainty: Impact and Implications of the Use of Depleted Uranium in Iraq (IKV Pax Christi) (pdf)

March 10, 2013 Posted by | Deception, Militarism, Progressive Hypocrite, War Crimes | , , , , , , | 2 Comments

50 Truths about Hugo Chavez and the Bolivarian Revolution

Venezuelanalysis | March 9th 2013

President Hugo Chavez, who died on March 5, 2013 of cancer at age 58, marked forever the history of Venezuela and Latin America.

1. Never in the history of Latin America, has a political leader had such incontestable democratic legitimacy. Since coming to power in 1999, there were 16 elections in Venezuela. Hugo Chavez won 15, the last on October 7, 2012. He defeated his rivals with a margin of 10-20 percentage points.

2. All international bodies, from the European Union to the Organization of American States, to the Union of South American Nations and the Carter Center, were unanimous in recognizing the transparency of the vote counts.

3. James Carter, former U.S. President, declared that Venezuela’s electoral system was “the best in the world.”

4. Universal access to education introduced in 1998 had exceptional results. About 1.5 million Venezuelans learned to read and write thanks to the literacy campaign called Mission Robinson I.

5. In December 2005, UNESCO said that Venezuela had eradicated illiteracy.

6. The number of children attending school increased from 6 million in 1998 to 13 million in 2011 and the enrollment rate is now 93.2%.

7. Mission Robinson II was launched to bring the entire population up to secondary level. Thus, the rate of secondary school enrollment rose from 53.6% in 2000 to 73.3% in 2011.

8. Missions Ribas and Sucre allowed tens of thousands of young adults to undertake university studies. Thus, the number of tertiary students increased from 895,000 in 2000 to 2.3 million in 2011, assisted by the creation of new universities.

9. With regard to health, they created the National Public System to ensure free access to health care for all Venezuelans. Between 2005 and 2012, 7873 new medical centers were created in Venezuela.

10. The number of doctors increased from 20 per 100,000 population in 1999 to 80 per 100,000 in 2010, or an increase of 400%.

11. Mission Barrio Adentro I provided 534 million medical consultations. About 17 million people were attended, while in 1998 less than 3 million people had regular access to health. 1.7 million lives were saved, between 2003 and 2011.

12. The infant mortality rate fell from 19.1 per thousand in 1999 to 10 per thousand in 2012, a reduction of 49%.

13. Average life expectancy increased from 72.2 years in 1999 to 74.3 years in 2011.

14. Thanks to Operation Miracle, launched in 2004, 1.5 million Venezuelans who were victims of cataracts or other eye diseases, regained their sight.

15. From 1999 to 2011, the poverty rate decreased from 42.8% to 26.5% and the rate of extreme poverty fell from 16.6% in 1999 to 7% in 2011.

16. In the rankings of the Human Development Index (HDI) of the United Nations Program for Development (UNDP), Venezuela jumped from 83 in 2000 (0.656) at position 73 in 2011 (0.735), and entered into the category Nations with ‘High HDI’.

17. The GINI coefficient, which allows calculation of inequality in a country, fell from 0.46 in 1999 to 0.39 in 2011.

18. According to the UNDP, Venezuela holds the lowest recorded Gini coefficient in Latin America, that is, Venezuela is the country in the region with the least inequality.

19. Child malnutrition was reduced by 40% since 1999.

20. In 1999, 82% of the population had access to safe drinking water. Now it is 95%.

21. Under President Chavez social expenditures increased by 60.6%.

22. Before 1999, only 387,000 elderly people received a pension. Now the figure is 2.1 million.

23. Since 1999, 700,000 homes have been built in Venezuela.

24. Since 1999, the government provided / returned more than one million hectares of land to Aboriginal people.

25. Land reform enabled tens of thousands of farmers to own their land. In total, Venezuela distributed more than 3 million hectares.

26. In 1999, Venezuela was producing 51% of food consumed. In 2012, production was 71%, while food consumption increased by 81% since 1999. If consumption of 2012 was similar to that of 1999, Venezuela produced 140% of the food it consumed.

27. Since 1999, the average calories consumed by Venezuelans increased by 50% thanks to the Food Mission that created a chain of 22,000 food stores (MERCAL, Houses Food, Red PDVAL), where products are subsidized up to 30%. Meat consumption increased by 75% since 1999.

28. Five million children now receive free meals through the School Feeding Programme. The figure was 250,000 in 1999.

29. The malnutrition rate fell from 21% in 1998 to less than 3% in 2012.

30. According to the FAO, Venezuela is the most advanced country in Latin America and the Caribbean in the erradication of hunger.

31. The nationalization of the oil company PDVSA in 2003 allowed Venezuela to regain its energy sovereignty.

32. The nationalization of the electrical and telecommunications sectors (CANTV and Electricidad de Caracas) allowed the end of private monopolies and guaranteed universal access to these services.

33. Since 1999, more than 50,000 cooperatives have been created in all sectors of the economy.

34. The unemployment rate fell from 15.2% in 1998 to 6.4% in 2012, with the creation of more than 4 million jobs.

35. The minimum wage increased from 100 bolivars/month ($ 16) in 1998 to 2047.52 bolivars ($ 330) in 2012, ie an increase of over 2,000%. This is the highest minimum wage in Latin America.

36. In 1999, 65% of the workforce earned the minimum wage. In 2012 only 21.1% of workers have only this level of pay.

37. Adults at a certain age who have never worked still get an income equivalent to 60% of the minimum wage.

38. Women without income and disabled people receive a pension equivalent to 80% of the minimum wage.

39. Working hours were reduced to 6 hours a day and 36 hours per week, without loss of pay.

40. Public debt fell from 45% of GDP in 1998 to 20% in 2011. Venezuela withdrew from the International Monetary Fund and World Bank, after early repayment of all its debts.

41. In 2012, the growth rate was 5.5% in Venezuela, one of the highest in the world.

42. GDP per capita rose from $ 4,100 in 1999 to $ 10,810 in 2011.

43. According to the annual World Happiness 2012, Venezuela is the second happiest country in Latin America, behind Costa Rica, and the nineteenth worldwide, ahead of Germany and Spain.

44. Venezuela offers more direct support to the American continent than the United States. In 2007, Chávez spent more than 8,800 million dollars in grants, loans and energy aid as against 3,000 million from the Bush administration.

45. For the first time in its history, Venezuela has its own satellites (Bolivar and Miranda) and is now sovereign in the field of space technology. The entire country has internet and telecommunications coverage.

46. The creation of Petrocaribe in 2005 allows 18 countries in Latin America and the Caribbean, or 90 million people, secure energy supply, by oil subsidies of between 40% to 60%.

47. Venezuela also provides assistance to disadvantaged communities in the United States by providing fuel at subsidized rates.

48. The creation of the Bolivarian Alliance for the Peoples of Our America (ALBA) in 2004 between Cuba and Venezuela laid the foundations of an inclusive alliance based on cooperation and reciprocity. It now comprises eight member countries which places the human being in the center of the social project, with the aim of combating poverty and social exclusion.

49. Hugo Chavez was at the heart of the creation in 2011 of the Community of Latin American and Caribbean States (CELAC) which brings together for the first time the 33 nations of the region, emancipated from the tutelage of the United States and Canada.

50. Hugo Chavez played a key role in the peace process in Colombia. According to President Juan Manuel Santos, “if we go into a solid peace project, with clear and concrete progress, progress achieved ever before with the FARC, is also due to the dedication and commitment of Chavez and the government of Venezuela.”

Translation by Tim Anderson

March 10, 2013 Posted by | Economics, Timeless or most popular | , , , | 2 Comments

NY Times: Iran nuclear negotiations doomed by Israeli-owned US Congress

By Cyrus Safdari | Iran Affairs | March 10, 2013

Imagine my surprise when I see an editorial in the NY Times that I can actually agree with! The NY Times editors typically have the most misleading and inaccurate claims about Iran, even repeatedly referring to a non-existent “Iranian nuclear weapons program” but today they have an editorial entitled “Congress gets in the way on Iran” in which they complain that fresh Congressional sanctions on Iran harm the nuclear negotiations. More significantly, it indirectly cites AIPAC, Israel and Netanyahu as the motivation behind the measures.

Way back in Jan 2012, I asked a simple question: even assuming for the mere sake of argument that the Obama administration is serious about wanting a deal with Iran and isn’t just playing “rope-a-dope” with Iran in the hopes of eventually achieving regime-change there (which I think is totally the case, a policy continued and adopted by Obama from the Bush admin, which is why Dennis Ross was initially brought  on board from the Bush administration), since any sort of viable nuclear deal with Iran is going to require the lifting of sanctions, and since most of the US sanctions on Iran are imposed by Congress and not the President, then is the Obama administration actually capable of delivering on any such deal with Iran?

The answer, of course, is a big fat “No.” The US Congress is bought-and-paid for by Israel. Obama can barely get his Def Sec nominee Hagel past Congress, and the fellow had to literally debase himself and practically swear never-ending fealty to Israel before he squeaked by the nomination committee. (Apparently Israel was mentioned during the Hagel hearings more often than Afghanistan, where US troops are still fighting an actual war.)

So, like I said before and before then too these talks will in all likelihood die too. Sorry. That’s how the world is.

Why? The Israelis and AIPAC haven’t suddenly disappeared, folks. They’re still running the show in DC, and will be doing so for the foreseeable future, as long as US election laws allow money to talk louder than votes and as long as most American voters can barely find their own country (let alone Iran) on a map. Like I said before, the US-Iran standoff is a symptom of a much greater pathology: the dysfunctional relation between Israel and the US, in which the “tail wags the dog.”

At some point, maybe, the burden of this albatross around the US’s neck may become so great that people will wake up and throw it off. There are even encouraging signs. After all not so long ago AIPAC lobbyists boasted of their ability to operate in the dark, comparing themselves to night-blooming flowers, but today the excess and malign influence of Israel on US foreign policy (especially over Iran) is part of the mainstream discussion. No longer is mentioning the phrase “pro-Israel lobby” cause to have the utterer classified with various lunatics and genuine or accused anti-Semites as in the past. And like I said before, the more Israel pushes Iran into the spotlight, the more it exposes itself too.

But they still own Congress, so don’t hold your breath about any real deal coming out of these nuclear negotiations yet. Won’t happen. Rest assured.

March 10, 2013 Posted by | Ethnic Cleansing, Racism, Zionism, Timeless or most popular, Wars for Israel | , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Syria’s Jaafari Says Israel Facilitated UN Peacekeepers Abduction

Al-Manar | March 10, 2013

Syrian ambassador at the United Nations, Bashar al-Jaafari, accused the Zionist entity of cooperating with the armed group that abducted 21 UN peacekeepers in the Golan Heights earlier this week.

“Israel facilitated entry of Salafist elements into the buffer zone between Israel and Syria in Golan, which is considered a violation of the 1974 treaty signed between the two sides, Jaafari told reporters on Friday.

“Israel wanted to repeat what it had done in south Lebanon in 1970s when they created an isolating area and appointed a Lebanese officer to fight for them”.
“For achieving such aim, peacekeepers should be evacuated from Golan,” he added.

“Two weeks ago, seven terrorist from the same armed group that took the Filipino contingent staffers hostage where also rescued by the Israelis through the separation line, treated in Israeli hospitals and returned at an undisclosed place on the line of separation, according to the Israeli official statement.” he said.

“So that proves to itself that the Israelis are cooperating with these armed groups and terrorist groups.”

Jaafari also dismissed the notion that Assad government operations were endangering the hostages or impeding their release.

“We know what we are doing and we know where the peacekeepers are. Our task is to rescue these peacekeepers and safeguard their lives.”

21 UN peacekeepers of the Filippino nationalities were seized by rebels Wednesday near the armistice. But they crossed to freedom in Jordan on Saturday.

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March 10, 2013 Posted by | Deception, Timeless or most popular, Wars for Israel | , , , , , | 1 Comment