pandemonium  new  wars  watch  

No. 500

Antiwar Activists From Across U.S. Prepare to
Descend on Washington.
Iraq Links Cancers to Uranium Weapons
U.S. Likely to Use Arms Again in War.
Introductory Comments, By Franz J. T. Lee.


How sick, how insane, how megalomaniac must be the minds of Bush and Rumsfeld, and of those whom they  represent and defend, to prepare themselves daily, like in the case of Afghanistan, to kill thousands of innocent women and children, who today are already chilled to their skinny bones with deadly fear, any moment awaiting their all-powerful butchers.

And then these "great" leaders, this administration, this government, with their wonderful "bill of rights", their glorious "Patriot Act" and magnificent "constitution",  by hook and by crook, democratically voted into power,  still talk about infinite justice, noble sentiments and democratic human rights.

How pharisaic, how disgusting, how cold-blooded is Corporate America! Alas, this is what one has to learn, must learn to know, must know to learn in these Orwellian times. 

Never mind what they say and preach, as far as the wealthy rulers of this world are and were concerned, across the millennia, the life of a pauper, the existence of billions of  dregs of society, the expectations of the manual labouring classes, all, are and were not worth a farthing. Who doubts this asseveration should just recollect the apocalyptic misery and agony of the poor victims of the Inquisition, of the transatlantic slave trade, of the colonial and metropolitan wars, of the Nazi holocaust, of the gulags in Stalinist Russia,  of the American bombs over Hiroshima, Nagasaki, Afghanistan and Vietnam, and, finally, of the massacre of the "Twin Towers".  It seems that all these just occurred to teach us, to teach billions, how to be democratic, human, humane, humanist, peaceful, docile, meek and humble.  In any case, "Blessed are the poor, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven, for they shall see God!"

We are entering an epoch of murder, assassination, terror, terrorism, matricide, patricide, fratricide, ecocide, genocide as history never ever has seen before. If the downtrodden of the globe, here and now, do not wake up out of their thousand years slumber, for the first time in their lives, begin to act and think of, by and for themselves, like they did here in Venezuela ever since April 11, 2002, and for the last time in their lives, stop to pray and genuflect in front of  authoritarian, totalitarian god-men and men-gods, like the cardinals in wolf´s clothing, like the "Carlos" gang or the four Nazi "stormtroopers of the apocalypse", verily I say unto thee, only then, they still will have an infinitesimal chance of creatively surpassing themselves, of transcending this global, earthly Orwellian Hell.    

Franz J. T. Lee.

Antiwar Activists From Across U.S. Prepare to
Descend on Washington

By Manny Fernandez
Washington Post Staff Writer

Monday 13 January 2003; Page B01

Dallas lawyer Robert B. Dennis is headed to Washington this week, willing to endure a 22-hour bus ride with about 50 other Texans.

Amer Mirza, a Web developer from suburban Chicago, has been signing up Muslims in his area for seats on a charter bus he plans to ride.

Casey Chapman, a senior at Catholic Central High School in Troy, N.Y., will join a dozen other teenagers in a chaperone-driven van.

Dennis, Mirza and Chapman are a fraction of the thousands coming to Washington for a national antiwar demonstration Saturday, a rally and march that they and organizers say will be their last chance for a massive display of dissent before the United States goes to war with Iraq.

"The Iraqi people are not our enemy," said Dennis, 70, a member of the Dallas Peace Center. "We don't need to subject them to another war and more bombings."

Saturday's rally and march follow an October protest that drew about 100,000, a turnout organizers and police said was the largest antiwar demonstration in the nation's capital since the protests against the Vietnam War. And like the October protest, this action has drawn a group of counter-demonstrators who vow a loud but peaceful rally.

The same coalition that coordinated the October rally, International ANSWER (Act Now to Stop War and End Racism), is organizing this week's protest. Brian Becker, an ANSWER spokesman, said it is too early to tell if the crowd will be as big as or bigger than that at the previous march. But he said tens of thousands are planning to make the trip, as local organizers from Texas to New York to Wisconsin arrange for charter buses, car caravans and flights to the District.

"The most important thing politically for us is to shatter the false myth of consensus . . ." Becker said.

D.C. Police Chief Charles H. Ramsey said he "wouldn't be surprised" if the turnout in Washington matches that in October. He said his department will be ready for that size crowd, but he does not expect disruptions. Previous ANSWER protests -- including a pro-Palestinian rally in April that attracted about 75,000 -- have been relatively free of incidents. "We don't anticipate any problems," Ramsey said. "It's been a peaceful group to date."

The rally is scheduled to begin at 11 a.m. on the Mall, near Third Street and Constitution Avenue NW just beyond the west front of the Capitol. Scheduled speakers include actress Jessica Lange, Vietnam veteran and author Ron Kovic, former representative Cynthia McKinney (D-Ga.) and others from labor, peace and Muslim organizations.

After the rally, participants plan to march to the gates of the Washington Navy Yard, where organizers said they would call for the elimination of U.S. weapons of mass destruction. They emphasized that no civil disobedience is planned.

Counterprotesters say they will hold a 9 a.m. rally at Constitution Gardens on the Mall on Saturday and later greet marchers outside the U.S. Marine Corps barracks at 8th and I streets SE. The D.C. chapter of the national organization Free Republic, a frequent counter-presence at protests, and MOVE-OUT! (Marines and Other Veterans Engaging Outrageous Un-American Traitors) are organizing this event.

The ANSWER protest, which will have counterparts in San Francisco, Canada, Spain and elsewhere, organizers say, is one of several Washington antiwar rallies coinciding with the Martin Luther King Jr. holiday Jan. 20. ANSWER organizers also have planned a youth and student march Sunday at 11 a.m. from the Justice Department to the White House.

Also Sunday, two antiwar coalitions, D.C. Iraq Pledge of Resistance and United for Peace, plan an 11:30 a.m. rally at Farragut Park followed by a march to the White House, where organizers said at least 50 people will conduct civil disobedience, though details are being worked out. Activists said they wanted to link King's opposition to the Vietnam War to the current peace movement.

Monday, the holiday marking King's birthday, the national activist group Black Voices for Peace plans a rally to celebrate King's legacy and oppose war against Iraq. It is set for 3 p.m. at Plymouth Congregational Church in Northeast Washington.

About 220 organizing centers in 45 states are coordinating transportation and spreading the word about Saturday's ANSWER rally, 70 more than in October, said ANSWER organizer Sarah Sloan. Some groups who brought one busload to the October rally said the response this time required them to have two or three buses, while others who were unable to attend the previous demonstration said they are now making the trek.

Sara Iglesias, 29, an activist and writer in Miami Beach, said she has been fielding up to 10 phone calls and up to 15 e-mails daily from people seeking transportation to Washington. "We have three charter buses now, and we may do another, and that's not counting the people who are in caravans or flying up," she said. A high school teacher, a civil rights lawyer and a Holocaust survivor are among those who signed up for seats, she said.

In October, Iglesias helped organize one bus of protesters. "We've been in touch with many more people due to the fact that we've made more connections and the fact that this antiwar movement is going more mainstream and getting more publicity," she said.

Mirza, 23, of Glendale Heights, Ill., said one 55-seat bus is almost filled with area Muslims and supporters, and another might be needed. "There has been a lot of hate crimes in Chicago after 9/11. Now, the fear is they will get more extreme" if the United States wages war against Iraq, said Mirza, cofounder of the Muslim League.

College and high school students from 400 campuses nationwide are planning to attend, organizers said. University of Iowa student David Goodner is joining classmates on a 17-hour bus ride to Washington. Student Carl Sack at Northland College in Ashland, Wis., who attended a local march in October, is set to board one of three buses for the national rally.

Chapman, 17, is coming to the District with fellow members of a youth group called Free the Children. "I think that people have to realize that it's never too young for people to be involved with activism and making your voice heard," said Chapman, who also marched in October.

Activists say they hope the demonstration energizes a U.S. antiwar movement that has shown signs of gaining momentum in recent weeks, as military preparations and troop deployments for an assault on Iraq have escalated. The march was timed to precede the Jan. 27 deadline for the first major report by weapons inspectors to the U.N. Security Council.

That date had been viewed by some Bush administration officials as a decision point on whether Iraq's cooperation has been sufficient to head off a military strike. Last week, though, Secretary of State Colin L. Powell played down the date's importance.

Organizers said they fear they are running out of time. "The American people have very little time left to tell President Bush -- in their voice, which he can't ignore -- they don't want our United States of America to become an aggressor nation and attack Iraq," said former U.S. attorney general Ramsey Clark at an ANSWER news conference in Washington last week.

Clark founded the International Action Center, one of the groups that led the effort to create International ANSWER as a response to the Bush administration's war on terrorism. He has drawn criticism as an outspoken opponent of the Vietnam War who traveled to that country during the war.

Subsequently, he has served as a lawyer for Slobodan Milosevic, the former Yugoslav dictator on trial for war crimes and Sheik Omar Abdel Rahman, the Egyptian cleric convicted of masterminding the 1993 World Trade Center bombing.

But many of those planning to come to Washington said the views of the organizers are of little concern to them and that the larger antiwar movement is bigger than any organizing group. "I'm told they're some kind of radicals, but I don't care," Dennis said, of ANSWER. "Good organizers are worth their weight in gold."

Staff writer David A. Fahrenthold contributed to this report.


Go To Original

Bay Area Protests War
Ruth Rosen
San Francisco Chronicle

Monday, January 13, 2003

NEVER UNDERESTIMATE the common sense of the American people. According to recent polls, early support for an invasion of Iraq is slipping. Most Americans agree Saddam Hussein is a monstrous dictator. But with each passing month, more people recognize that he is not linked to al Qaeda terrorists. The real nuclear threat posed by North Korea has also made some people wonder -- in the absence of new evidence -- whether it is Iraq that threatens our national security. Finally, some people may realize that it is control over Iraq's oil fields that our national leaders covet, not the prospect of installing democracy in Iraq.

Never before in human history has an anti-war movement grown so fast and spread so quickly. It is even more remarkable because the war has yet to begin.

Publicized throughout cyberspace, the anti-war movement has left behind its sectarian roots and entered mainstream culture. To give just a few examples, the National Council of Churches, the National Organization for Women, Win Without War (Hollywood celebrities), the National Conference of Catholic Bishops, John Sweeney, president of the AFL-CIO, and the Sierra Club have all voiced their opposition to an invasion of Iraq.

As in the 1960s, Northern California is a pivotal center of the nation's anti-war activity. By launching "United For Peace," an ecumenical network of coalitions, the San Francisco-based human rights organization Global Exchange helped broaden the appeal of the movement. Medea Benjamin, its spirited director, also kicked off a national Women's Peace Vigil and rolling fast in Lafayette Park, directly across from the White House. Dubbed "Code Pink"(an alternative to the government's code orange or red alerts), the peaceful protest has already inspired similar vigils and fasts across the country.

As you'd expect, Bay Area students are key players in the movement. On Jan. 17, as college students gather on the East Coast, San Francisco State University will host a "Youth Anti-War Conference" to coordinate college anti- war activism on the West Coast.

Unlike the Vietnam era, this new movement has also attracted immigrants and minorities, some of whose activities are regularly publicized in San Francisco's "War Times," a bilingual publication circulated nationwide.

On any given day, you can find ordinary people -- from San Jose to Petaluma -- staging weekly vigils at federal buildings, BART stations and public spaces.

Every Sunday, for example, the Lake Merritt Neighbors Organized for Peace walk around the lake.

Right now, most Bay Area peace groups are busy preparing for the National Marches on Washington and San Francisco that will take place on Jan. 18. The marches are expected to draw thousands of people to the nation's capital and to our fair city. (More about the national anti-war protests on Thursday.)

Some people, of course, don't wait for marches and, in the inimitable tradition of the Bay Area's activism, find their own distinctive way to protest the war. In West Marin, for example, 50 women recently disrobed and spelled out the word peace with their naked bodies on Love Field in Point Reyes. "Beautiful and brave to lay naked in the rain for a just message," commented one passer-by.

So far, Bay Area activists have embraced the long and honorable American tradition of using peaceful protest and nonviolent civil disobedience to express dissent. Nothing could be more important because nothing is less persuasive than using violence to protest war. . For more information, visit;;

E-mail Ruth Rosen at


Iraq Links Cancers to Uranium Weapons
U.S. Likely to Use Arms Again in War

Robert Collier,
San Francisco Chronicle Staff Writer

Monday, January 13, 2003

Baghdad -- Something is killing the children in Dr. Emad Wisam's hospital ward, and filling it up again and again with more sick and dying kids.

Walking a visitor through the halls of Al Mansour Children's Hospital in Baghdad last weekend, Wisam stopped briefly at his small patients' bedsides to commiserate.

After checking 5-year-old Nur Abdullah, who has a tumor in his throat, Wisam turned away with a pained look in his eyes.

"He will die soon," he said. "Most of these kids will die. And there's almost nothing we can do."

Iraq has experienced a dramatic increase in child cancers, leukemia and birth defects in recent years. Wisam, Iraqi medical authorities and growing numbers of American activists cast blame on the U.S. weapons containing depleted uranium that were used in the 1991 Gulf War and in the 1998 missile attacks on Baghdad and other major cities. They also assert that such munitions -- which were also used by U.S. forces in Bosnia, Kosovo and Serbia in far smaller quantities -- may be a cause of Gulf War diseases, elusive maladies that have affected 50,000 to 80,000 U.S. veterans of the 1991 conflict.

The Pentagon says studies it has sponsored have found no evidence that depleted uranium, known as DU, causes serious illnesses, while many international medical experts remain on the fence, citing the lack of definitive scientific evidence on the issue.

But with the renewed use of DU weapons by the U.S. military considered likely in the event of a new war with Iraq, the controversy is being stirred up again.

Depleted uranium is the low-level radioactive waste left over from manufacturing nuclear fuel and bombs. It is used in bullets and missiles by the United States, Britain, Russia and several other nations -- though, from all indications, not by Iraq.


Military experts regard DU as an almost magically effective material. DU is 1.7 times denser than lead, and when a weapon made with a DU tip or core strikes the side of a tank or bunker, it slices straight through and erupts in a burning radioactive cloud. In addition, armor made of DU appears to make tanks far less vulnerable on the battlefield.

During the Gulf War, U.S. airplanes and tanks fired off munitions containing 320 tons of DU. According to Iraqi health statistics, the country's recent increase in health problems has been concentrated in the same areas of the country that took the brunt of U.S. attacks: Baghdad, the southern port city of Basra, and the northern cities of Mosul and Kirkuk.

No similar problems are known to have occurred in Kuwait, where DU was also used, because such weapons were used mainly outside of population centers and because Kuwait carried out a comprehensive, well-funded postwar cleanup of spent munitions and combat wreckage.

Among children throughout Iraq, the number of cancer cases has risen five- fold since 1990, and congenital birth defects and leukemia have tripled, say government health officials. Overall cancer rates among all Iraqis have risen by 38 percent, the Iraqi government says.

"There are thousands of cases of DU poisoning in Iraq by the Americans and British," said Health Minister Dr. Omeid Mobarik.


The Wall Street Journal reported earlier this month that branches of the U. S. military are looking for alternatives to DU, but officials refuse to say publicly whether DU weapons will be used in a new war against Iraq. Defense Department spokeswoman Barbara Goodno has acknowledged, "Depleted uranium is an important component in the U.S. arsenal."

"Despite being engaged multiple times (during the Gulf War), often at close range, by Iraqi tanks and anti-armor weapons," she added, "not a single U.S. tank protected by DU armor was penetrated or knocked out by hostile fire."

Experts say the crucial edge that DU technology affords makes it too effective to pass up.

"Yes, certainly the U.S. will use it," said John Eldridge, editor of the authoritative book Jane's Nuclear, Biological and Chemical Defense.

Christopher Hellman, a senior analyst at the Center for Defense Information in Washington, said U.S. and British military planners are likely to be swayed more by DU's effectiveness than by possible health concerns.

"Their view is very simple," said Helman. "This is war, and a destroyed enemy tank is less dangerous than one that's shooting at you, regardless of whatever residual effects DU may have."

Just what those health effects may be, however, is hotly debated.

Pentagon officials deny any links, either to Iraqi civilians or American Gulf War veterans. They dismiss Iraq's reports of increases in cancer, birth defects and leukemia, saying their pre-1990 baseline figures are unreliable.

They point in particular to a Pentagon-funded review of scientific literature on cancer and DU carried out by the Rand Corp. in 1999. It concluded that no link had been found. Initial studies by the World Health Organization and the European Community also have found no link.

But the Rand report -- which leans heavily on research into the relatively mild effects of conventional uranium -- acknowledges that "few studies to date . . . have focused directly on DU."

While the Veterans Administration has conducted limited studies of some veterans exposed to DU, and found no links so far to serious illness, U.S. activists point out that none of the published studies have tested broad numbers of sick Americans or Iraqis who have been exposed to DU. The U.S. military has conducted several such studies, but they remain classified. The Iraqi military refuses all comment on whether its veterans have experienced their own Gulf War illnesses.


One American with personal experience of DU is Doug Rokke, former director of the U.S. Army's Depleted Uranium Project. He was in charge of a team of about 100 soldiers who examined and cleaned up Iraqi tanks and American vehicles struck by DU shells during the Gulf War.

The work was ghastly -- the DU explosions so badly burned the dead soldiers inside that the team dubbed them "crispy critters."

The team's members, uninformed about the danger of DU residue, were themselves contaminated. Most have suffered serious health problems in the intervening years, and "too many" have died, says Rokke, who says he eschews exact numbers because of the difficulty of proving direct links to DU exposure.

Rokke, who has a Ph.D. in physics and until recently was a professor at Jacksonville State University in Alabama, says he has "5,000 times the recommended level of radiation in my body" and has called the health woes among residents of southern Iraq and his own colleagues "the direct result" of DU exposure.

In an interview on Saturday, Rokke said of his own health: "I'm trashed." He said that Pentagon officials routinely tell him and others who were contaminated in the gulf theater that the elevated levels of uranium in their bodies are "just coming out of our diets."


But organizations outside the United States have come down against DU munitions:

-- In 1999, the European Parliament voted to urge NATO to suspend the use of DU munitions pending results of an independent study. The request was ignored.

-- Last August, the U.N. Subcommission on the Promotion and Protection of Human Rights authorized a study of the dangers of DU, which the panel had already labeled a weapon of mass destruction. The move -- coming over the objections of the United States and Britain -- was a significant victory for Karen Parker, a San Francisco lawyer who works with the International Educational Development/Humanitarian Law Project and has campaigned against DU for years.

-- A 1991 study by Britain's Atomic Energy Authority found that use of DU weapons in the Gulf War could eventually lead to half a million "potential deaths from cancer." The report was suppressed by the British government until 1998.

Hard science on the DU issue remains scarce, however.

Richard Clapp, an epidemiologist at Boston University School of Public Health and one of the few experts to investigate the DU-cancer relationship, is carrying out a study of Gulf War diseases among Massachusetts veterans.

His initial findings suggest increased incidences of Hodgkin's disease in Gulf War veterans exposed to DU, but no increases in other types of cancer.

But Clapp cautions that further comprehensive study is needed. In an e-mail interview, he wrote: "The potential for a DU-cancer link (especially lung cancer in those who breathe DU through dust and smoke particles) is still an open question. I certainly would not rule it out on biological grounds, and 'no proof of harm is not proof of no harm,' as we say."


Iraq's health problems and Americans' Gulf War illnesses could have many additional causes besides DU, Clapp and other U.S. experts say. Other possible factors include pollution breathed in from the oil fires ignited in Kuwait by retreating Iraqi soldiers or from Iraqi chemical weapons stores hit by U.S. missiles.

"The reason there is no proof of causality between DU and any particular disease is that no one has seriously looked for it," said Steve Leeper, co- director of the Global Association for Banning DU Weapons, a U.S.-Japanese coalition based in Atlanta, Hiroshima and Nagasaki.

"The biggest problem with radiation, especially involving a low-level radiation source that is also a toxic chemical, is that it can get you in so many ways," said Leeper.

"Which disorder you wind up with depends on where the DU winds up in your system and what sort of damage it does to what sort of cells. To really find an effect, the government would have to study all the veterans, especially the 205,000 that have applied for medical help from the Veterans Administration, and the people of southern Iraq and test for uranium in their urine, organs and bones, then look for correlations with various pathologies."

Dr. Alim Yacoub, a British-educated epidemiologist who is dean of the medical school at Mustansiriya University in Baghdad, expressed anger at the world's response to the Iraqi health crisis.

"Why have no international studies been carried out?" he asked. "Where is the World Health Organization? This issue is highly political and has been affected by propaganda, by American pressure."

WHO officials say that in 2001, the U.N. organization proposed to Iraq a comprehensive study of all cancer problems, including DU, but received no response.


Yacoub insists that the project was blocked by the strict U.N. sanctions imposed on Iraq since the Gulf War. He said the International Atomic Energy Agency has refused to allow Iraq to import radiology equipment needed to carry out the research because it is termed "dual use," meaning that it could be used to help develop nuclear weapons.

Defense analyst Hellman summed up the standoff over DU by saying, "The science on this is not unanimous.

"My approach is: If you can't use it safely, then you shouldn't use it. The military's approach is 180 degrees from that. They say, 'If you can't prove it isn't safe, we're going to keep using it.' "



Depleted uranium (DU) is a byproduct of the process during which fissionable uranium (uranium 235) used to manufacture nuclear bombs and reactor fuel is separated from natural uranium, a heavy metal found in soil and water everywhere on earth, mainly in trace quantities.

DU (uranium 238) is about 40 percent less radioactive than natural uranium, but it remains radioactive for 4.5 billion years. Because it is such a highly dense metal -- heavier than lead or steel -- it is prized for its abilities to both penetrate military armor and provide shielding against attack.

Upon impact, DU produces extremely fine uranium oxide dust that is both chemically toxic and radioactive. Easily spread by wind, it is inhaled and absorbed into the human body and absorbed by plants and animals, becoming part of the food chain.

E-mail Robert Collier at