Just Above Sunset
July 31, 2005 - Ironies that can only be seen from the left side...

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Some ironies:

African dust cloud drifting toward United States - Bob Arndorfer, Gainesville Sun, Tuesday, July 26, 2005, 6:01 am Eastern


A cloud of dust nearly the size of the continental United States drifting in today or Wednesday from North Africa may produce more colorful sunsets and sunrises in North Central Florida over the next couple of days. Aside from that, weather and other officials said Monday, the Saharan dust cloud should have almost no health or other impacts on the region.



Received from Ric Erickson, editor of MetropoleParis, Tuesday, July 26, 2005 - something he found on Craigslist, Rant & Rave -

Now stop a moment and think. If the winds can blow dust from Africa to the US, then all that depleted uranium dropped on Afghanistan and Iraq is being blown this way as well. DU has had ten years to blow from Iraq into Africa, and has already been found in Europe. So, as you watch those spectacular sunrises and sunsets caused by the Saharan dust, remember that the horrors of cancer, leukemia, and birth defects visited on those foreign nations is now coming home.

Yeah, but this:

Sandia Completes Depleted Uranium Study; Serious Health Risks Not Found
Science Daily, July 24, 2005


Sandia National Laboratories has completed a two-year study of the potential health effects associated with accidental exposure to depleted uranium (DU) during the 1991 Gulf War.

The study, "An Analysis of Uranium Dispersal and Health Effects Using a Gulf War Case Study," performed by Sandia scientist Al Marshall, employs analytical capabilities used by Sandia's National Security Studies Department and examines health risks associated with uranium handling.

... Marshall's study concluded that the reports of serious health risks from DU exposure are not supported by veteran medical statistics nor supported by his analysis. Only a few U.S. veterans in vehicles accidentally struck by DU munitions are predicted to have inhaled sufficient quantities of DU particulate to incur any significant health risk. For these individuals, DU-related risks include the possibility of temporary kidney damage and about a 1 percent chance of fatal cancer.

... The Sandia study also looked at civilian exposures in greater detail, examined the potential risk of DU-induced birth defects in the children of exposed individuals, and provided a more detailed analysis of the dispersion of DU following impact with a number of targeted vehicles.


Ah, you see, it's perfectly safe stuff, or pretty safe.  Jeb Bush and Kathleen Harris will not be glowing green next week.  (The full Sandia report is here, in PDF format.)

It just sounds like bad stuff.  If you're reading in Florida, enjoy the sunsets this week.  If you can.  Sandia National Laboratories is a government-owned/contractor operated (GOCO) facility.  Lockheed Martin manages Sandia for the US Department of Energy's National Nuclear Security Administration.


You can trust them.


Eric Alterman here goes for the ongoing irony:


Let's tally it all up: Creating a murderous civil war, badly weakening our military, creating anti-American hatred all over the world, vastly increasing the terrorist threat, getting thousands of Americans killed and tens of thousands wounding, killing tens of thousand of Iraqis, torturing hundreds, perhaps thousands more, letting our true enemies retreat and regroup, and wasting hundreds of billions of dollars - to say nothing of deliberately outing CIA agents for political payback and firing everyone who tried to tell the truth and starving homeland security - all for a war in which we were never threatened. Seriously, if I were Bin Laden, I'd just retire. Everything's going swimmingly?


Yeah, well, that's the way it is.  Elections do matter - if the guy really won them.


And this from the same Alterman column, Monday, July 25 - on a topic covered in these pages in the day before in News of What Didn't Happen, and of What Won't Happen - Cheney and the White House threatening to veto any legislation that would limit our right to torture and hide prisoners -


Let's say you are a Rush Limbaugh kinda guy who thinks that when you torture Moslems, brown foreigners, the like, it's all just a matter of fun and games like a fraternity prank. There is a still a downside to doing it. Not only is the rest of the world going to hate your guts, but the people who catch your soldiers are going to be unconstrained when it comes to torturing them. Wartime rules are designed to protect combatants on both sides as a matter of self-interest rather than moral fastidiousness. Because Dick Cheney had so many "other priorities" during the Vietnam War, including getting himself four student deferments and when those ran out, another deferment for married men with children, and George Bush was so busy doing, well, he can't remember and neither can anybody else, when it was time for them to serve in the war both men supported, neither appears to understand America's pragmatic - as well as moral - reason for not torturing people. It's going to get our guys tortured too. John McCain understands this, naturally, having served and been taken prisoner himself. This is no doubt why he has authored legislation that would have bar the U.S. military from engaging in "cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment" of detainees - in language modeled after wording in the U.N. Convention Against Torture, which the United States has already ratified - and from hiding prisoners from the Red Cross, and from using interrogation methods not authorized by a new Army field manual. Cheney and Bush, however, want to block it. (So, no doubt does Limbaugh.) So next time one of you guys out there in Iraq finds yourself under torture from an Iraqi insurgent, well, you'll know who to thank, here. (The New York Times, by the way, buried this story on page A23 a day later.)


No, no, no...


If one of our guys is captured and tortured, well, he is being tortured because the other guys are evil.  We torture because we're GOOD!  We want information.  It's different.  And it's policy.

You'd think we enjoyed torturing people.  (Well, actually, given the photos released so far, and the photos and videotapes coming out soon (perhaps), what was going on had little to do with gathering information - as in videotaping of the anal rape of various pre-teenage boys who knew nothing, the more conventional rape of women prisoners, the biting dogs and all, and the general humiliation stuff - not to mention more that a few troublemaker prisoners had the idea they could make us look bad if they cleverly died.  One wonders.)

No, there's something else here.

One suspects what Cheney is working on is keeping up our image of being folks you don't want to mess with - because we'll do just about anything, and enjoy it.  The theory seems to be that this is exactly what keeps us safe, ironically enough.

Could he be right?  What about events in London?  And what happens here next? 


Making the other side feel outrage, and the deepest resentment, and seething, unmitigated anger - and making sure it grows and grows - may not make them behave.  But we're not the guys calling the shots, are we?


Copyright 2003, 2004, 2005, 2006 - Alan M. Pavlik
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This issue updated and published on...

Paris readers add nine hours....