Jim is a Justmeans staff writer for Energy, Climate Change, and Transportation. "From my years as a debater prior to undergraduate work in Massachusetts, I have written about science and technology, carrying this focus into graduate school, where I examined the history of Birmingham and the early twentieth century South from working class and progressive perspectives. In addition to work as ...
Getting Real About Depleted Uranium & Sustainable Business
For most people, the word 'accessory' brings to mind nice hand bags or belts. However, the word also has legal significance, as in 'accessories' to criminal activity. Many of my posts here have contained, at least as background material, the likely criminal nature of the imperial actions of the United States Government. Other essays have engaged such topicality directly or manifested it as part of the primary story.
Today, folks will need to think about what the meaning is of being accessories to murder. Of course, the nostrum, "all's fair in love and war" provides some comfort for those who don't like to think about such things, but the Geneva Convention and several hangings in the aftermath of WWII would suggest that such protestation only works so long as the demurral follows on the heels of victory.
Thus, if the U.S. government is participating in criminal activity, then citizens could be accessories before the fact or accessories after the fact. The former is a more serious charge, but in the case of murder, any involvement is, by definition, deadly serious.
An accessory before the fact helps to plan and facilitate a murder. Very few of us would be guilty of this charge. Only those who actually developed the homicidal plan and helped to put it into action would be suspects in this regard.
An accessory after the fact is one who helps to hide or otherwise harbor the killer. Or it may be one who has a duty to reveal or apprehend the murderer but who instead merely continues to proceed with business as usual. One might make a very potent indictmentt that, morally if not legally--the technicalities of international law almost never apply to citizens in such cases--most or even all Americans who do not actively resist murderous policies are accessories after the fact.
I make these points because today's article contains d***ing evidence that the government of the United States of America, acting with impunity in the face of growing documentation, has operationalized weaponry that kills with indiscriminate effect and over an uncontrollably large area and period of time. I speak, of course, of Depleted Uranium(DU) ordnance, which continues to destroy the lives of both non-combatants and American soldiers even as folks are reading these lines.
The evidence is so overwhelming that, despite the inability to prove absolutely that DU weapons are weapons of mass destruction(WMD's), the likelihood is extremely high that the DU weaponry and attendant policies employed by the U.S. government do in fact constitute WMD's. That is why I ask citizens to reflect, as the old union song asked, "Which side are you on?"
In very short order, within the next year or so, no 'fix' of the horrifying facts will be possible. I am making my stance clear: I refuse to accept a government based on indiscriminate murder and mayhem, not only against blameless civilians, but also against the brave soldiers who--even if misguided in their patriotism, even if wrong-headed in their support for empire--were acting out of motives at least in part patriotic, and as many as hundreds of thousands of whom are suffering the morbidity and mortality associated with DU.
At this point, I might guess, but for the significant minority of Tea-partiers who adopt the POV that we 'should kill 'em all, and let God sort it out,' that a lot of people are wanting to say, "Hold on a minute; I'm no killer. I don't even understand all of these things." Boy oh boy, do I sympathize with that.
The nature of scientific literacy is such, however, that an analogy is apt. If some coterie of colleagues of ours took up a new sort of gun, which they assured us was non-lethal and would in fact end conflicts that might otherwise claim many lives, and then started to use that 'friendly weapon' hither and yon to deadly effect, we would not need to have a forensic scientist's understanding of ballistics and splatter patterns to be liable for continuing to support this cadre in its devastating homicidal spree.
I assure readers that I am not exaggerating. The existence of huge increases in mortality and morbidity in communities adjacent to the battlefields of Iraq is incontrovertible. That DU is a definite cause is not so readily demonstrable, but the probability may approach 'one' that DU will in fact end up being a primary, perhaps the only, culprit for the rampage of cancer and other killing effects that have appeared in such communities as Fallujah.
Again, I assert that only an inherently imperialistic reader will be likely to resist these sorts of conclusions when confronted with the data that Chris Busby, Malak Hamdan, and Entesar Ariabi reveal in their peer-reviewed article, "Cancer, Infant Mortality and Birth Sex-Ratio in Fallujah, Iraq 2005-2009," which appeared this Summer in the International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health. The empirical trend or tendency of their intellectual labors is not difficult to follow.
Recognizing this underscores a point that I have made repeatedly in these stories. Essentially, this is the notion that a 'responsible' citizenry is impossible outside of a context of advancing a democratic take on science policy. The reasoning is fairly straightforward: essentially, folks can only take responsibility for that over which they exercise some real dominion.
Common people's lack of agency is a primary basis for not holding ordinary folks accountable for 'crimes against humanity.' But in a moral realm, looked at ethically, citizens who are capable of recognizing reality have some kind of duty to empower themselves, either to foment action that saves lives or to derail activity that decimates random cousins indiscriminately. Forcing the government to abandon DU weapons would save millions of humans; continued usage of these morbid missiles guarantees that a slaughterhouse atmosphere, albeit one that unfolds slowly and with maximum pain, continues into the foreseeable future.
Dr. Chris Busby, a very busy advocate for scientific integrity by means of more robust democratic forms of knowledge creation and policy formation, powerfully, and positively, embodies many of the underlying themes of this story in the work that he has pursued since before quitting his corporate job in 1992 as a representative for pharmaceutical companies. That's another story I would love to have the honor some day to tell.
However, for now, we might note that for many years, his focus has been on the fallacies which have become standard procedure in connection with radiation's effects on human health. This dissimulation, as he has clearly articulated, consists of several covers for the falsity that presently predominates.
Cover number one is that all radiation is the same. The present method basically looks at the energy imparted from the radioactivity of any sort to an entire organism. An investigator can then compare this 'absorbed dose,' whatever the source and mechanism of the absorption, with known instances when equal 'whole body' inculcation of radiation has taken place. Harm is more or less likely depending on how populations in the past responded to similar amounts of imparted energy.
Dr. Busby's work for nearly two decades has virulently attacked the assumptions of this thinking. In the aftermath of Chernobyl, and in the course of ongoing work that we will be examining today, Dr. Busby and his cohorts have begun the process of overturning this model: governments are accepting a more nuanced telling based on the determination of internal versus external dosages, and on the presence or absence of certain particularly bioactive radioactive chemicals.
Cover number two is that since certainty is impossible, the uncertainty most appealing to industrial interests somehow becomes more acceptable than any other uncertainty. The way this works out is that any mistake of the nature, 'this toxin caused this harm' is utterly verboten--insistence on this sort of 'accuracy' in fact provides much of the foundation of U.S. legal interpretations of science, as codified in the Daubert principle that makes holding corporations responsible for harms next-to-impossible.
On the other hand, a miscue of the sort, 'this toxin has no discernible impact' is just part of the cost of doing business. Falsely presuming a substance's benign nature is therefore acceptable, whereas falsely believing a neutral element's harm is a cardinal sin that society must avoid at all cost.
Dr. Busby is doubly a hero. He has participated in proving, dispositively for those who are willing to examine evidence from multiple sources, that 'cover number one' is simply false. And he has been willing to face jail and the jeering of scientific jingoists to advance the proposition that societies can in fact determine that the second sort of error is equal to, or more important than, the first sort of error.
As we have seen before, this reasoning underlies the 'precautionary principle' that many erstwhile 'liberals' find appealing. In such a view, we should be particularly cautious in cases when harm could be large and might hurt those who gain little from the risk-taking enterprise. We should increase the burden of proof on those who benefit from new technologies, and they should pay the piper for any modeling or factual errors.
But we were noting that the United States Government has maintained a policy of firing DU weaponry on the many battlefields on which it has fought over the past twenty years. And we were introducing the work of Dr. Chris Busby as a corrective to these policies of DU deployment. And we were talking about murder.
The Depleted Uranium story keeps getting nastier. Part of what appears in today's essay illustrates a particularly grotesque aspect of that nastiness. However, additional ugliness abounds, and further reports will be necessary to illustrate these other cases of vicious lies and hypocritical scientific righteousness.
The rest of today's story flows from the organizational possibilities that citizens have manifested in responding to official predation based on bad science and self-serving policies. Since 1987, Chris Busby, with whom I was able to speak briefly, has played a leading role in bringing such democratic technical alternatives to fruition.
In one view, humanity has little choice; a nuclear 'renaissance' will yield at best a slow slide toward doom, so any optimist has to suppose that we'll find a way to follow the lead of intelligent agents who show the rest of us how to take nuclear down by confronting the flaws in science and logic that pervade the approaches of those who want to boil tea with radioactive steam. Dr. Busby is such a trend-setter.
His prolific efforts have included some central documents of the coming age of nuclear deconstruction. One of these, "I Don't Know Much About Science: Political Decision-Making Involving Science and Technology", should become a mandatory 'study-session' for all citizens on an annual basis.
This joint effort, with his colleagues Molly Scott Cato and Richard Bramhall, lays out in step-by-step fashion critical aspects of comprehending science and science policy in society. The article begins by stating the obvious: most people, politicos as well as ordinary folk, do not qualify as science studs.
In a pointed development of many of the ideas that I have presented about capacitating citizen involvement in science policy, this trio of 'merry pranksters' from Ulster advocate creating an 'oppositional science system' that permits juried involvement by citizens representing all sides. This specifically guarantees that technical experts who oppose nukes or incinerators or GMO food or psychotropic 'medicine' for toddlers or any of the other science-for-profit schemes dearly beloved of corporate headquarters everywhere command a seat 'at the bar,' as it were, and then citizens and their representatives make determinations of policy on the basis of these forensic exchanges.
Moreover, the paper presents just a lovely description of what comprises 'scientific thinking.' The likes of this correspondent might, on a good day, recognize most or all such elements as these cohorts proffer. Certainly, I have some cognizance of the role of experiment in scientific confirmation and the mechanisms that underlie such probative processes. This is a typically American, utilitarian focus.
Bramhall, Busby, and Cato give us a more thoroughly English overview. It is something that every JustMeans reader might print and hold close.
|"The classical exposition of the inductive method ...are now called Mill's Canons, the two most important of which are:|
· The Canon of Agreement, which states that whatever there is in common between the antecedent conditions of a phenomenon can be supposed to be the cause or related to the cause of the phenomenon.
· The Canon of Difference, which states that the differences in the conditions under which an effect occurs and those under which it does not must be the cause or related to the cause of that effect.
In addition,... the Principle of Accumulation... states that scientific knowledge grows additively by the discovery of independent laws, and the Principle of Instance Confirmation, (suggests) that the degree of belief in the truth of a law is proportional to the number of favourable instances of the law. (Also present is) the range of analytical methods subsumed within Popper's Doctrine of Falsifiability. ... the experimental falsification of existing belief structures. Finally to the methods of inductive reasoning we must add considerations of Plausibility of Mechanism."
These authors also analyze the structure and components and use of 'scientific evidence.' They note that the lack of research results that prove causation--a "lack of scientific evidence"--might mean many things that not only do not demonstrate a lack of scientific connection between putative cause and possible effect, but also that may even cover up such connections in the hurly burly of funded research, utilizing what we could call technophilic 'plausible deniability.'
This paper is also where Busby and his fellows discuss the nature of statistical significance and the bias toward eliminating 'type one' errors, those that say, falsely, that a certain factor 'X' caused a certain result, 'Z.' At the same time, the present articulation of 'significance' of outcomes accepts with much more equanimity 'type two' errors, those that propound, incorrectly, that a possible cause, 'Y,' does not yield the expected effect 'W.'
This delightfully practical and incisively argued material then goes on to speak, both fortunately and unfortunately--from my perspective--more intelligibly than I have about the nature of scientific truth and certainty. They refer to Bruno Latour, whom close readers will recall my having cited on occasion, to get at the actual nature of science in society, observations closely in sync with such articles of mine as the investigation of Peak Oil.
|"He also finds that what is accepted at any period of history is a scientific world-view that consists of a system of 'black boxes'. ... accepted encapsulations of earlier theory that are then used as machines to understand and interpret new discoveries. ...(H)e finds that as ... more knowledge is included in these 'black boxes' it becomes increasingly difficult for any scientists to open up or attack the complex system of connections that maintains the 'black boxes'... . (Worse), those who are building the present scientific consensus are those who are funded to do the research by those who have need of the results of this same research to make money. It is therefore quite reasonable to assume that this process leads to the construction of 'black boxes' which contain false reasoning, false connections, and even false experimental results."|
Or as my Grandpa Fox was wont to chuckle, "You're a fool if you leave a fox in charge of the henhouse."
The authors then examine multiple instances in which particular problems of science interpretation showed up in just the way that their model implies would be likely; moreover, they show the difficulties that current institutional technical forms confront in seeking to bridge these systemic disconnects. And their conclusion, that we need an "Oppositional Science System" has to make sense to anyone who believes in either sound science or democratic outcomes: for those who adhere to both, this is 'music to the ears.'
This brilliant and absolutely essential exposition is one consequence of one of the first independent ventures that Dr. Busby helped to create, the organization Green Audit. The website describes the group as "ultimately about corporate responsibility. Scientific research and statistical analysis conducted by Green Audit uncovers the truth about statements made by national governments, large multinationals, and the military with regard to the health effects of environmental pollution."
In addition to founding and continuing to advise the Low Level Radiation Campaign, he became the Green Party's England and Wales science advisor and parlayed his expertise in chemistry and physics into a growing capacity for scholarship and scientific credibility in the fields of Environmental Health and Epidemiology.
The practical tactics of this most excellent citizen stalwart seemed always to move in tandem at two levels. On the one hand, a restless and searching inquiry characterized Busby's presence. 'The buggers won't do a study; well then, we'll figure out how to get it done.' "It's not happening here in England? Perhaps the Germans or the Spanish will play along.' This digging for knowledge, with a keen intuition that present paradigms were false, or at least flawed, was one level.
On a higher playing field, he advanced the political understanding of science, political economy, and the political arena as such. One can find Busby's testimony before scores of governmental bodies; he sought to assist those who were plausibly suffering from radiation from the far reaches of the former Soviet Union to North Americans who wanted to gain some of his sense of a citizen's self confidence, testifying before the World Health Organization, the U.S. Congress, and all manner of bodies both miniscule and august.
One of the offshoots of this energetic and far-reaching willingness to network and seek both answers and new capacity was the formation, at the behest of leaders of the Green Parties of Europe, which felt certain that present science was partial and biased, of the European Committee on Radiation Risk(ECRR). Since 1996, ECCR has cut a swath across the technical landscape of radiation science, mounting challenge after challenge to established views, in such a fashion that the sense and logic and fit with data inherent in ECCR's stand have come to dominate much of present-day thinking about low level radiation.
Anyone who decries the real influence that the electoral arena can have on policy and democracy likely doesn't truly understand how such matters work. Though everything that Dr. Busby and his colleagues accomplish points toward a much richer conception of democracy than the mere act of voting--they specifically call for Non-Violent Direct Resistance(NVDR) as apropos in many circumstances, Chris Busby's tremendous achievements have advanced in part through the offices of the Green Party's reaching a certain minimum level of potency in Europe.
In fact, but for the EU's Green Party alliance's decision to facilitate ECRR's start-up, many key components of progress in Eurasia would not have come to pass. The Committee has created groundbreaking work about the toxic effects of Chernobyl. It has networked with national governments seeking ways to articulate stricter standards regarding radiation protection.
And most germane to our exploration today, it led Malak Hamdan to realize that at least one renowned British researcher might accept her proposal to find a way to study Fallujah and the vast documentation of human misery available there. What emerges is a political economy of death, wrought by an 'enduring freedom' that placed an imperial agenda above the lives of untold tens of thousands of Iraqi cousins who continue to suffer and die as a result of the toxic legacy of 'liberation.'
A 'STUDY IN SCARLET'
Chris Busby must make a great science teacher, though who knows if he'd end up atop the popularity contest that much of present academia promulgates? As we examine this document, which he spoke to me concerning its construction and implementation, we can recall the vast tsunami of anecdotal data coming from American service men and women and their families. Some of the same complaints and afflictions emanated from them as we will witness in Fallujah, thanks to the staunch struggles of Ariabi, Busby, and Hamdan.
I first inquired about the origins of the decision to try to do a study such as this. "I was approached by Malak, living in London, who has been involved with this issue for years. She was concerned to see, you see. Iraqis and Internationals uniformly said no to any request to study this." So absolutely nothing had been published, he pointed out.
I can well imagine Malak Hamdan risking her life to do this work, if her commitment in real life is even a tiny fraction of the passion that she displayed on camera for her interview on Russian international television news station 'RT.'
She and Chris Busby took my breath away when I first saw them and heard how they had inserted themselves where every cell of the imperial behemoth screamed 'stay away.' "The problem is getting data, you see, but I had done questionnaire studies before, and they'd generated important information. (Malak), though, was primarily responsible for pulling the whole thing together."
I followed up, "You mention in the study the disadvantages of this type of sampling: wouldn't that be likely to understate rather than overstate the problem?"
"Yes of course; what we found were absolutely accurate minimum levels of increase unless people lied, and that's unlikely in general, because people want help but they don't want to be marked with the shame of it, you see. Especially in Iraq, too, since they were giving their identity information and all, they were very unlikely not to tell the truth."
The paper makes clear the hideous conditions that the team of researchers faced. "The authorities have consistently avoided examining the health of communities which have complained of increases in ill health, and little has been done by the international community. Indeed, shortly after the questionnaire survey was completed, Iraqi TV reportedly broadcast that a questionnaire survey was being carried out by terrorists and that anyone who was answering or administering the questionnaire could be arrested."
Still, taking as their control populations similarly sized and demographically shaped cohorts from Jordan and Egypt, of under a thousand households and around 5,000 people, with the Middle East Cancer Registry and national data as their comparison, over a period of a month in the Winter of 2010, they administered the survey to all but one swath of houses, where local suspicion of the process led the researchers to abandon getting data from that neighborhood.
The results are easy to view in chart form. I encourage readers to look for themselves. A few nauseating elements of what they found are these: at least a doubling of the infant mortality rate--"we couldn't get reliable data about the birth defects, because it was so culturally despised, so we relied on infant deaths as a better standard, along with the sex-ratio disparities, of course;" over a four-fold increase in all cancers; over twelve times greater than expected numbers of childhood cancers; nearly a forty-times increase in leukemia for those under age thirty five; over a twenty times increase in all leukemias; dramatic increases, frequently close to ten fold, in all of the studied modalities.
I felt sick when I first read this. I had to ask. "Isn't the level of disparities here beyond what is normally apparent in these sorts of studies?"
"I've never seen anything like it!"
This is one of the few tinges of emotion that I heard from this tough customer. He referred to dozens studies that he's done, in every area of stress that can result from radiation and other toxins. "Only Hiroshima was even close." The leukemia increases in Fallujah were a full one-third greater than what happened in the aftermath of the world's first nuclear war. "Other factors could be present, of course," Dr. Busby put in about this third or fourth 'nuclearized conflict' that the U.S. government is conducting.
And I pressed on this point. "What else might possibly account for such an unusual clustering of ill effects?"
"The only thing would be a specific general toxin. Mustard gas could do this though it was not used, or we'd have seen lesions. Nothing else on this kind of scale is even remotely likely." He paused. "It sounds crazy," he continued, "but I thought that the US may have developed some new weapon, you see? Something with a high gamma radiation level or a neutron pulse." That's how dramatic and unprecedented these rates of grotesque impact were.
Just a note about one point might deepen readers' comprehension. As Dr. Busby explained, Uranium specifically, and radiation generally, is really hard on Y-chromosomes, so that whenever radiation impacts women of child bearing age, the number of male births, normally at a level of about 1.05 boys for every girl, drop much lower. In Fallujah, the live birth ratio was 82 boys for every 100 girls. If that doesn't make a few hearts skip a beat, people just aren't paying attention.
I also inquired, "Are all of the noted negative developments possible to associate with DU?"
"If you assume either Uranium or radiation, absolutely. And because the sample size" is related to significance in different ways depending on the whole sample and the nature of the study, here "the statistical significance would be just astronomical."
I want to emphasize, no, that's not right: I want to drill home into the brains of readers that we are witnesses here to long term effects that are just beginning to manifest. They may not worsen in terms of absolute numbers, but they will continue for generations. Moreover, Dr. Busby is doing work on much larger swaths of the human condition, in relation to Chernobyl and the nuclear power stations that much of Europe is indicating it will soon abandon.
This is a pattern that repeats. It's going on here in America, too, as I will participate in demonstrating, but we haven't acknowledged it yet because we haven't generated the data. Just as, in Iraq, no one wanted to ask the questions because everyone in charge was afraid of the answers that they would find. And these are the same 'leaders' who want to bring us a 'nuclear renaissance.' Can anyone say, 'Make mine renewable, please?'
WHAT'S AT STAKE
Having already averred that this prolific soothsayer has been studying these issues among ten per cent or more of the earth's seven billion cousins, I can only promise that in my upcoming articles that will examine radiation issues in general, Dr. Busby will appear again.
He didn't say this in so many words, but I don't think I am misinterpreting that this estimable scientist and self-taught epidemiologist shudders at one aspect of Uranium that most people do not understand, as of yet. I shudder; that much is certain. "The thing is, Uranium, DU, attaches to cellular DNA; it's got this affinity for" the double-helix. According to Dr. Busby this was "first noted in 1961, when researchers started using Uranium as a stain, because it would preferentially color DNA."
My sweet wife cycles near a sadness about this so profound that I think maybe I'd be not only economically better off driving a cab, but emotionally and spiritually more sanguine. "It's at a genomic level," she's said twenty or thirty times since I made her read this article and told her what Dr. Busby had said.
We are poisoning ourselves for eternity. And all the thugs and money-bags and monster-nuke busters who support this approach to the future of the ecosphere either know this, or they should be flogged for not being aware. That they care so little may suggest their mental toughness and objectivity. After all, affliction is part of being made of meat. On the other hand, perhaps other interests and agendas are in play.
Dr. Busby was particularly forthcoming when I posed the sort of question that would be so easy to deflect, which, in most cases I would need to follow-up repeatedly in order to obtain a fairly complete response. "What is the most likely explanation for the resistance to such thorough examinations as you and your colleagues have attempted to carry out?"
"Three things, really, are going on; the primary one is that if people are dying in Fallujah, then it raises hosts of questions about other operations with nukes, your President's so-called 'nuclear.renaissance and so forth. If the risk model that we see here is even close to accurate, then all nukes must shut down."
He pauses. He's not a ham, but he's got a sense of the dramatic moment even when he's pressed for time. "And I don't need to tell you that there's a lot of money on the line there. The second thing is that this information shows DU as a 'weapon of indiscriminate effect,' or WMD, and a legal nightmare could result from that which is just, just incalculable."
His voice doesn't have the same timber but he is right in stating that the "third thing would be hurting the war effort, since the power of DU weapons is so massive." He mentions the decimation of elite troops, heavily dug in, at the Baghdad airport in 2003. "That would never have been so easy without these kinds of weapons."
I ask out of genuine interest, and because I will be writing more. "Would you anticipate similar modalities of disease or morbidity among vets? Would such results surprise you?"
"it depends almost completely on the type of exposure. If these effects were the result of some wacky neutron-generating device, then no. But if DU is the culprit, and it's aerosolized, with dust and smoke and such, then similar outcomes would indeed be expected. Kidney cancers too. Gulf War Syndrome is likely part of this."
Kids and families could easily face problems too. An investigation that Green Audit did with "Britain's Nuclear Test Veterans association looked at kids and grandkids, it's on our website, and we found a nine times increase in congenital effects. Critics are eager to point out about such self-appointed sampling procedures that "Only the sick would join, so it could be biased--and that's possible, possibly valid."
But he goes on, relentless about not letting the powers-that-be off the hook. "Nobody has done a proper study, you see,," obviously, he suggests in some part because they fear what they'll discover. He absolutely insists that the lead investigators need to develop a model that foregoes selection bias.
"The obvious way to do that is, you'd have to at least get off the official list of victims to do a truly 'random sample.' " But people are always unlikely to get back to researchers, so they have to get big buy-in or try a lot of people; and it gets bloody expensive."
He didn't have much time left, so I cut to the chase. "Ideally, what would happen next?"
"We want to be able to locate the kid cases with birth defects," which they did not have the ability to determine given the sample bias against reporting on this matter. "Then we'd take cell and hair and blood samples and so on, and compare them with kids who didn't have these problems." These studies, he assures me, are even more so "bloody expensive."
But in a sense, those who've developed these demonic devices deserve the threat of bankruptcy. "I've been saying for a long time to suspend DU usage: as I said at a conference in 2002, 'this is a highly toxic and radioactive substance; you shouldn't be shooting it around at people."
I ask about other situations in which official sources have so far proved resistant to investigations such as the ones that Dr. Busby has bulldoggedly pursued. "Are you aware of complaints about Viegues? Are any similarities present do you think, possibly?"
"I've been at conferences and heard about it of course. And yes, we need to do some epidemiology there similar to Fallujah. We will share the questionnaire; it is available," though he mentioned that translating it from the Arabic would be necessary..
"What if a community wanted to try to do something similar; are any resources available that provide a 'how to,' or is the involvement of experts essential?"
"I helped a group in England in 2002, and we found a doubling in breast cancer. All the hands-on data came from the community. Everyone pooh-poohed that for some time," he indicated until the cancer registry repeated the same investigation and "absolutely confirmed our data looking at a 500 house sample."
He was supportive of community-based participatory research. "I almost always think they should go ahead, because the data in the registries is confidential, and this needs to be out in the open. And you don't always find anything," as in an incinerator study that he helped with. "And that can reassure people and let them get on with their lives."
I did not ask this question, because he had already told me what I needed to know at the very beginning of the interview. "How bad is this?"
"What we're seeing in cases like these? It's a breakdown between the science-policy interface, where supposedly 'objective' scientists are like hired guns." He gave me a beat or two, then continued. "And the worst of it, the most serious public health scandal in human history, is the lies that they're telling about radiation exposure."
Chris Busby is merely a man, of course. But I'd sure as shootin', as my dad liked to say, want to have him on my side in a fight--not just because he'd be the strongest; but because he'd be right so often."
Our government is involved in an ongoing conspiracy to cover up, at a bare minimum, mass negligent homicide. These less than 'capital crimes,' unfortunately, have become intentional mass murder inasmuch as the avowed policy of the government is to continue using DU weapons.
The citizens of the Republic, meanwhile, face some stark choices. As information such as what I proffer today becomes more and more widely available, the protest, "Oh, I didn't know about that!" becomes less and less a shield against a charge of complicity. Can we countenance increasing cancers by between fifteen and forty times, depending on the particular malignancy? Can we term 'acceptable' a ten-fold increase in horrific birth malformities? Can we do things of this sort and still retain some slender thread of humanity?
Thus, as things now stand, most folks either must elect to side with the government--and whether this collaboration is witting and intentional or passive and 'unintentional' matters little more than whether Germans were SS members or merely put up with the stink from the ovens--or they must find some means to resist a policy of premeditated murder for the sake of profit and empire. I've made my choice, though my means of resistance, words like these, may be too weak to make much of a difference.
Others may choose more active means of registering their position. Leuren Meuret, for example, another expert on the impacts of Depleted Uranium who left the 'established' side of science, weapons labs and such, to take a stand for independent investigation and accountability, has gone so far as to testify at a 'War Crimes Tribunal' against America's former Commander in Chief.
Though Barack-the-Magnificent is dearly beloved of many erstwhile liberals, he can read. If he continues for another day the implementation of a deliberately murderous policy, the deployment of this DU monstrosity, then he too is deserving of the same treatment that 'W' received. One cannot support mass carnage without shouldering the mantle of the moniker of murder that currently hangs over the leadership of the United States.
Most critically, however, in moving forward toward 'business better,' and hence away from any toleration for DU in the 'marketplace-of-man,' all readers can gain from the incisive insights of Chris Busby. Depleted Uranium exists because, at multiple levels, it serves those who own and manage the world today. If we are to find a 'sustainable business' model, and a realistic political program in favor of renewable energy and other appropriate technology, then we must recognize that doing so must move in dialectical opposition to the present plutocracy.
To recognize such may prove profoundly discomfiting to those whose thinking about entrepreneurship has emanated from the pages of Money Magazine. On the other hand, such a view is socially real; it represents a creative opportunity from the soil of which corporate responsibility might actually blossom. Any other approach is at best going to represent more mouthing of talk, talk, talk, while the women and children and blighted soldiers of the world ponder carcinoma and revenge.
Despite the popularity, for various reasons, of the philosophy of non-violence, very few people will discount the 'absolute right to self-defense' that any person under attack may assert. And a substantial majority of our fair planet's cousins bear the brunt of imperial assaults on a daily basis. We could do the math.
Certainly, many or most of Africa's swarthy citizenry bridle under the sway of oil companies, banks, leaders bought and paid for by foreign business interests. Just as clearly, the coterie of cousins to our South in the Americas would include a majority who viewed the U.S. in imperial terms.
A more mixed result in Asia would still yield vast majorities across the swath of Southwest Asia who felt a prick of hostility at American arrogance. We needn't even ask for such opinions in Fallujah. And even here, in the belly of the beast as it were, though this humble correspondent is just a single voice, I am not alone.
For how long precisely do Americans think that they can stand behind a government and expect protection, backed all the while by citizen soldiers demonstrably 'disposable,' as upcoming articles invoking Doug Rokke and others will show? Paying the piper is just a phrase, but, as in the fairy tale, we are likely to face the fate of coining our children in order to try to extricate ourselves from a human devolution on the scale of the Bhagavad Gita.
In such a context, Non-Violent Direct Resistance(NVDR) represents an honorable way to finesse the ugly truth of 'accessorizing.' Even if such stringent straits are too taxing for the individual, one might still stand in solidarity with those who do accept the ball and chain rather than shrug and wear the cape of collaboration. We might reach out to our already incarcerated millions and suggest that their freedom mirrors our own potential for liberation and humanity. No more jails; no more empire; no more division among those who suffer the lash in equal measure even if it cuts in slightly different ways.
The cruel, sapping attacks of leukemia and all the other indicia of Gulf War Syndrome, demonstrate the bankruptcy of imperial accounting. We cannot afford to care for the current crop of veterans; even if they die quietly, which I for one hope isn't the case, the new herd of fighters for the new wars of conquest that the emperors mandate as 'freedom' will cringe and sicken in equally dire straits as our current soldiery. This all highlights the crying need for more active and more community oriented forms of organization here in the U.S.
Impediments to the emergence of those forms are everywhere. These essays have addressed this sort of difficulty in terms of consciousness: the necessity of relational thinking; the inevitability of uncertainty; the hideous blockage of White supremacist ideation. They have also called for a commitment to our purported democratic birthright of majority rule, enriched by empowered communities that we support instead of sucking ourselves and our children dry to juice up corporate profitability--communities the health and input of which take absolute precedence over company coffers and ruling class command.
The model that Chris Busby and his colleagues can give us, if we'll have it, stems from a Europe that is struggling with many more nationalisms, and many more national minorities, than the United States of America ever conceived of. In many tangible ways, Europe has become as much a melting pot as America displays in her legendary guise. This matter of radiation, which respects no border, which decimates most genomes save those of the Redwood, the algae, and the cockroach, exemplifies the unity that can result from a recognition of shared social detriment.
But just as in the Balkans, just as in Northern Ireland, just as in the 'hot spots' that still burn in Europe today, Americans must decide that we'd rather thrive by seeing uniting potential than to find a righteous individuation that justifies our assault on some set of cousins or other as expressions of our tribal bona fides. Arguably even more critical is coming to terms with social class that Europe's multimodal embrace of social democracy has permitted while Tea Party idiocy here can bait even the whiff of pink by calling a politician as militantly centrist as Barack Obama a socialist.
From an entirely different angle, considerations about the nature of epidemiological knowledge and proof--expediting an epistemology of science that is socially real, may seem a nerdy way to end. On the other hand, Dr. Chris Busby indicates how closely tied to health children, for example, are such matters of methodology.
|"These(common sense but often hidden notions) are the methods of science. Those who seek to apply these methods to the examination of a number of contemporary questions might be understandably confused. A good example... is the question of increases in childhood leukemia associated with nuclear sites. According to all of the routines of science outlined above it should be now universally conceded that low-level radiation exposure to man-made radioactive substances released from nuclear plants like Sellafield, Dounreay and Cap de la Hague cause increases the risk of child leukemia."|
But even to suggest this as possibility invites the derision and assault of nuclear trolls seemingly as ubiquitous as blogs about business. Brave bravos and tough soldiers have faced such mincing attacks with an equanimity born of battle hardening. But one has to ask if perhaps James Baldwin's metaphor of a raisin in the sun will not all too soon prove true again, as a social explosion brews here based in equal measure on a willful succoring of ignorance of life and on a false sense of superiority of over cousins suffering the same depredations as those closer to us also face.
The responsibility for the facts of life, and for learning the multiple dimensions of ethics and justice in terms of modern technical forms, must inherently involve teaching and learning. We know so much, and yet what we need to have learned has so far eluded us. And boy oh boy do I know that applies with especial force to this scribbler here.
Some upsurge of popular education must transpire that lets us join in solving these problems together when we can get along enough to do so, at the same time that we learn what forces to resist when the only 'unity' possible is false and counterproductive. As one of the forms of 'Transition,' the Trapese Popular Education collective, stated this point,
|"In the 21st century we face unprecedented ecological, social, and climatic crises. ...(P)opular education, is vital to much needed, meaningful radical social change. An education where we relearn co-operation and responsibility, that is critically reflective but creatively looks forward- an education that is popular, of and from the people. (Such) education aims at getting people to understand their world ... so they can take back control collectively. ...'Its curriculum comes out of the concrete experience and material interests of people in communities of resistance and struggle. It is focused primarily on group as distinct from individual learning and development. It assumes a direct connection between education and social change'"|
If we can hear, that is the tocsin bell of sustainability pealing away. A few assumptions may have to peel away as well. But 'business...better' arguably depends on such a process.
Crime Scene tape: Alan Cleaver
Purse: Stephanie Amson
Missile site: Jeff Keyser
Protest signs: Tadek Kurpaski