Category: War

Agent Orange linked to cancer precursor

Veterans exposed to the powerful and toxic defoliant Agent Orange during the Vietnam War have a significantly increased risk of the precursor state for multiple myeloma, a prospective cohort study now shows.

Exposure to Agent Orange doubled the risk of monoclonal gammopathy of undetermined significance (MGUS), as compared with veterans who were not exposed.

The herbicide was used from 1962 to 1972 to destroy vast stretches of jungle canopy, missions known collectively as Operation Ranch Hand…

Agent Orange contained several herbicides, including 2,3,7,8-tetrachlorodibenzo-p-dioxin (TCDD), a known human carcinogen, as reported online in JAMA Oncology by Ola Landgren, MD, PhD, of Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center…

“To our knowledge, our findings provide the first direct scientific evidence for an association between the multiple myeloma precursor, MGUS, and exposure to Agent Orange/TCDD among (Operation) Ranch Hand veterans,” the authors wrote.

“Our observations are important in that they add support to a previous finding that certain pesticides play a role in the development of MGUS,” they added…

In an accompanying editorial, Nikhil C. Munshi, MD, of VA Boston Healthcare System and Dana-Farber Cancer Institute, in Boston, noted that the study "now provides further evidence of an association between Agent Orange exposure and development of plasma cell disorder."

"Although this study associated risk of MGUS with Agent Orange exposure, the fact that all multiple myeloma cases originate from MGUS provides the first scientific evidence for a direct link between multiple myeloma and Agent Orange exposure," Munshi wrote.

Munshi pointed out that the Institute of Medicine has identified a predisposition to seven types of malignant neoplasms in veterans exposed to Agent Orange. Four of these, including the one reported by Landgren et al, are B-cell lymphoid neoplasms…

Of course, this means nothing to the reactionary fools who stand around, nowadays, and blather that folks shouldn’t even bring up the name of George W Bush and responsibility for the ever-expanding disaster that now is the Middle East. If newspapers and TV talking heads are willing to forget our nation’s responsibility for death and destruction in the last decade or so – why even bring up our slimy behavior from fifty years ago?

American conservatives have become a breed apart from their own history. There was a time when man-made disasters were worth considering in the intellectual lexicon of politics. Not anymore, man. The murder of tens of thousands stretching from Southeast Asia through Iraq and beyond mean nothing to fools with no conscience. The additional social burden of the slow murder of our own veterans is ignored as collateral damage from the heroic task of American justice.


500 million taxpayer dollar$ training Syrians to fight ISIS ain’t exactly a success

Is this part of their training?

Only four or five Syrian individuals trained by the United States military to confront the Islamic State remain in the fight, the head of the United States Central Command told a Senate panel on Wednesday, a bleak acknowledgment that the Defense Department’s $500 million program to raise an army of Syrian fighters has gone nowhere.

Gen. Lloyd J. Austin III, the top American commander in the Middle East, also told the Senate Armed Services Committee that the United States would not reach its goal of training 5,000 Syrian fighters anytime soon.

His comments came during a testy hearing in which a succession of senators from both parties criticized the American-led effort in Iraq and Syria against the Islamic State, the Sunni militancy also known as ISIS or ISIL…

In May, the Defense Department began its training program for up to 5,400 fighters a year, in what White House officials described as a necessary component of President Obama’s strategy to use local troops on the ground against the Islamic State, combined with American air power.

…General Austin told the Senate committee that many fighters in the first class of 54 graduates of the training program for Syrians were attacked in July by an offshoot of Al Qaeda, the Nusra Front, and either fled or were killed…

He acknowledged that the program was behind schedule, and said that the military was reviewing it. Asked how many fighters were still in Syria, General Austin said that “it’s a small number.” He added, “We’re talking four or five.”…

“So we’re counting on our fingers and toes at this point when we had envisioned 5,400 by the end of the year,” Senator Claire McCaskill said.

Actually, we only need the fingers on one hand – or the toes on one foot.

$500 million for 4 or 5 fighters still in the game. Tell you what, Mr. President. I’ll need more than my social security check. Give me $100 million and I’ll go over and fight as an American civilian senior citizen.

Airfare, new military duds, snazzy firepower – I’d really like one of those $5000 sniper rifles – enough to hire a couple gangbangers to cover my butt.. I could get into action for less than $100K. I’d leave the rest of the money behind to fund education for school kids here in New Mexico. I’d fight for them.

Who will profit the most from the Death and Destruction Fair?

More than 30,000 visitors are expected next week at the biannual arms fair organised by Defence and Security Equipment International at the ExCel Centre in London. The 2013 event drew 97 delegations from 56 countries, checking out the goods on offer from 1,489 “defence and security suppliers”, from handguns to fighter jets. The London Independent described the showcase as “where the world’s worst dictators love to shop”…

DSEI was privatised by the Blair government in 1999 but continues to operate in the manner of a government agency. Invitations to the arms fair are issued by the ministry of defence. Visitors will have to pass through five security checks. Hundreds of armed police will be deployed. Protesters from the Campaign Against the Arms Trade, Amnesty International and others are unlikely to breach the defensive ring. The arms dealers will be able to ply their trade in peace. Middle Eastern states with dubious records on human rights will again be among the biggest spenders. Ordinary citizens may see the ocean of suffering and the pell-mell flight of millions as the most salient aspects of the turmoil engulfing the region. But arms manufacturers will note nothing problematical. Every arms company has a business interest in bloodshed. Those looking to sell to the Middle East can anticipate a bonanza.

The New York Times reports that US arms industry officials have notified Congress they expect rising demand over the coming year for aircraft, missiles, armoured vehicles, helicopters, bombs and drones from Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, Bahrain, Jordan, Egypt and Qatar. Saudi Arabia has become the world’s fourth-largest market for military equipment, passing out Britain and France, splurging more than $80 billion…in 2014. The Saudis can be confident of spectacular sucking-up…

Vice, corruption, lies and disdain for law as well as life are the hallmarks of the arms trade in general. But experience suggests nobody in the British political mainstream will show concern, much less shame, at the merchandising of murder in their capital next week.

Not every arms supplier will make it to the ExCel. The Russians aren’t coming…Israel has booked a “national pavilion”, advertising “combat-proven” weapons. Proven in asymmetrical assaults on Palestinian civilians, presumably.

And no one has a War department anymore. They’ve learned all the lessons pioneered by the United States. We need all this crap to “defend” ourselves. Especially with our troops in someone else’s country.

Photos of a war crime in progress

Click to enlarge — Ezz Al-Zanoun/Getty Images

A boy stands at a funeral ceremony held for Palestinian Abu Jamei, who died after an Israeli aircraft hit his house in Khan Yunis, Gaza

“You can’t have occupation and human rights.”

That’s what public intellectual and essayist Christopher Hitchens had to say about Israel’s occupation of Palestinian territories, one of the most contentious components of the decades-long Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

This conflict came to a head once again last summer, when Israel launched a seven-week military campaign in the Gaza Strip region of Palestine that resulted in about 2,200 deaths — 1,500 of them civilian.

This campaign is just the latest in a long line of fighting in Gaza — and beyond, so much so that the United Nations just reported that within five years, Gaza could be uninhabitable.

Click this link to see more of the story, more photos.

Icelanders have a bigger heart than their government anticipated

A double rainbow at Skogafoss waterfall in Iceland

Thousands of Icelanders have called on their government to take in more Syrian refugees – with many offering to accomodate them in their own homes and give them language lessons.

Iceland, which has a population of just over 300,000, has currently capped the number of refugees it accepts at 50.

Author and professor Bryndis Bjorgvinsdottir put out a call on Facebook on Sunday asking for Icelanders to speak out if they wanted the government to do more to help those fleeing Syria. More than 12,000 people have responded to her Facebook group “Syria is calling” to sign an open letter to their welfare minister, Eygló Harðar.

Speaking on Iceland’s RÚV television, Bjorgvinsdottir said her country’s attitude was being changed by the tragic news reports. “I think people have had enough of seeing news stories from the Mediterranean and refugee camps of dying people and they want something done now,” she said…

Many of those posting on the group have said they would offer up their homes and skills to help refugees integrate. “I have clothing, kitchenware, bed and a room in Hvanneyri [western Iceland], which I am happy to share with Syrians,” one wrote. “I would like to work as a volunteer to help welcome people and assist them with adapting to Icelandic society.”

“I want to help one displaced family have the chance to live the carefree life that I do,” another wrote. “We as a family are willing to provide the refugees with temporary housing near Egilsstaðir [eastern Iceland], clothing and other assistance. I am a teacher and I can help children with their learning.”…

The Facebook Syrian letter says it best: “Refugees are our future spouses, best friends, or soulmates, the drummer for the band of our children, our next colleague, Miss Iceland in 2022, the carpenter who finally finished the bathroom, the cook in the cafeteria, the fireman, the computer genius, or the television host.”

Would your city, your state, your nation do the same? Ot would it build a wall?

Tens of thousands of Japanese march against war constitution

Click to enlargeReuters/Kyodo

Tens of thousands of protesters have rallied outside Japan’s parliament to oppose legislation that could see troops in the officially pacifist nation engage in combat for the first time since World War II.

In one of the summer’s biggest protests ahead of the new laws anticipated passage next month, protesters on Sunday chanted “No to war legislation!” ”Scrap the bills now!” and “Abe, quit!”

Organisers said about 120,000 people took part in the rally in the government district of Tokyo, filling the street outside the front gate of the parliament, or Diet. Similar demonstrations were held across the nation.

In July, the more powerful lower house passed the bills that allow the army, or Self Defence Force, to engage in combat when allies come under attack even when Japan itself is not.

The upper house is currently debating the bills and is expected to pass them by late September, making it law.

Prime Minister Shinzo Abe and his supporters say the bills are necessary for Japan to deal with the changed security environment in the world.

Public polls showing the majority of people oppose the bills and support for Abe’s government is declining.

Decades behind the US, Japan has learned the lessons of sophistry well. I recall the smattering of debate after WW2 when the pointy-heads in Washington decided to change the name of the War Department to the Department of Defense. As we changed to a time when the rest of the world needed to defend itself against Imperial America instead of Imperial England and Imperial Europe.

Not so incidentally, it may not take the anti-war movement in Japan to bring down Abe. Abenomics may do it for him. Pledging – as conservatives always do – to bring jobs growth and better economic times to the working people of Japan, the prime minister has only aided his Zaibatsu buddies. The rest of the nation suffers through a renewal of stagnation and ennui.

70 years after end of World War 2 – Okinawa protests new US military base

Click to enlargeJiji Press/AFP

Polls consistently show Okinawans and, increasingly, mainland Japanese are opposed to replacing Marine Corps Air Station Futenma, a sprawling military base in the south of the island, with a new facility in the rural Henoko district of Nago in northern Okinawa. Referred to as Henoko, the Futenma Replacement Facility (FRF) is planned to have multiple helipads, 5,900-foot dual runways, an ordnance depot, a fuel depot and an 892-foot pier capable of docking amphibious assault ships.

In May 35,000 Okinawans gathered to protest the Henoko base plan, days before Okinawa Gov. Takeshi Onaga led a delegation to the United States to express opposition to Washington. Their demands, however, fell on deaf ears. U.S. and Japanese officials insist a new facility near Henoko Point in Oura Bay is “the only solution” to alleviating decades of tension stemming from the U.S. military presence.

Today, 43 years after the U.S. returned Okinawa to Japanese control, the U.S. maintains 32 U.S. military bases and installations plus 48 restricted air and ocean training sites on the island.

But, we are a peaceloving nation, friendly to everyone in Asia. Our politicians tell us so.

Pic of the day

schoolgirls, hole in the roof
Click to enlargeREUTERS/Ibraheem Abu Mustafa

Palestinian schoolgirls, pictured through a hole in the roof of a classroom…damaged by Israeli shelling during a 50-day invasion last summer, attend a lesson on the first day of a new school year at Suhada Khouza school in Khan Younis in the southern Gaza Strip.

Ah, yes, enlightenment from the heavens – courtesy of Israeli heroes of Apartheid.