Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Depleted Truth

Certain folks with an agenda are again hyping the news of "soaring" numbers of birth deformities and cancers in Iraq - due to depleted uranium, or more specifically, another crime against humanity perpetrated by the US. This "news" exposes viewers and readers to graphic images of children, dead, dying, deformed, allegedly the effects of depleted uranium.

According to Al-Jazeera : "Doctors in Iraq are recording a sharp rise in the number of cancer victims south of Baghdad. Sufferers in the province of Babil have risen almost tenfold in just three years. Locals blame depleted uranium from US military equipment used in the 2003 invasion. Some 500 cases of cancer were diagnosed in 2004 alone. That figure rose to almost 1,000 two years later. In 2008, the number of cases increased sevenfold to 7,000 diagnoses. This year, there have so far been more than 9,000 new cases, and the number is rising."

A short while back the same claims were coming from Basra, then Fallujah, and before that it was Kirkuk, still further back, Kosovo.

Look to the source of the reports - all coming from biased groups or individuals with an agenda. When someone says "research has emerged" ... what they mean is, they have juggled information to fit their own preconceived viewpoint, that of the US being a genocidal ogre.

It goes without saying that chemicals and weapons are bad for the health. But where can objective facts be found ... there does not seem to be reliable information for comparison from the Saddam era. Although Iraq's Cancer Registry was established in 1976 it's accuracy is uncertain. What is known is that healthcare was meager or nonexistent outside the major metro areas. Saddam opened more medical schools but faculty and facilities were lacking in everything. Blame that on Bush 1 and/or Clinton, or blame Saddam as his palaces and Babylon theme park took precedence.

The folks at Depleted Cranium have made an attempt to track down some of the disturbing infant and child images making the rounds. Some are photos from a Russian museum, from textbooks, thalidomide babies, etc.

Let's remember a couple of things. Uranium is found everywhere in nature - rocks, soil, water, air, plants, animals, humans. DU is weakly radioactive - depleted. There is no evidence that DU is widely used in any weapons other than armor-piercing ammo fired by some tanks and aircraft.

Hundreds of studies have been done on DU in the last 2 decades - none have proven much. The International Atomic Energy Agency reported in 2003 that, "based on credible scientific evidence, there is no proven link between DU exposure and increases in human cancers or other significant health or environmental impacts," although "Like other heavy metals, DU is potentially poisonous. In sufficient amounts, if DU is ingested or inhaled it can be harmful because of its chemical toxicity. High concentration could cause kidney damage." The IAEA concluded that while depleted uranium is a potential carcinogen, there is no evidence that it has been carcinogenic in humans."

Not that I completely trust them, but WHO has conducted studies, Sandia Laboratories conducted studies, the UN studies, and others - and while DU is not good - there seems to be no long-term consequence and certainly no horrific defects like those making the rounds today, many of those images were used in the 1990s when Western friends of Saddam were making the same exact claims. It reminds me of the rightwing "incubator babies" but these deformed babies are from the leftwing.

As I have not found any objective data regarding the above cancer/DU claims, I don't believe them. Even if there is a spike in cancer rates it could be due to the simple fact that there is more access now to healthcare/prenatal care. Cancer and birth defect rates were studied for years after Hiroshima and Nagasaki - one would think the rates would have been horrific and long-term, but apparently not. The aftermath of Chernobyl is not as deadly as one would expect. The ability of the human species to persevere and correct itself is amazing.

How much of this issue, among so many, is founded on nothing more than wanting private and government funds to study it? What sort of mind is willing to falsify information and use photos of the unfortunate to make a name for themselves and/or demonize the US? Who are these Iraqi doctors collaborating with questionable news agencies - former Baathists who once cut off ears to prove their loyalty to Saddam?

I wonder - why hasn't Earth Father Al Gore taken on the DU issue? I wonder too, are the same assclowns selling their DVDs and building careers on anti-depleted uranium hype, also supporting the idea that cells phones will give everyone brain tumors and reduce sperm counts?

I am not defending war, or death and destruction, or depleted uranium - don't even go there. Ban DU (not a nuclear weapon) - along with all WMD, but until that happens, stop swallowing unsupported information from wannabe-famous folks who are only grinding their own axe - they are as self-serving as the liars who took us into this war.

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