Tuesday, November 30, 2004

No, No, NO! Rage... REALLY Taking Over!

I sure as hell don't recall signing up for this.

Poisonous Legacy.

Thanks to "Out and About" at Atrios for the link. (Warning: Very graphic and disturbing images.)

Update: Thanks to Shaw Kenawe for a good information page about depleted uranium, and to John for the link to the World Health Organization's page on it.

Update 2: In response to a, shall we say, spirited discussion at Atrios, I've e-mailed the creator of the video, Eric Blumrich, for information about his sources. I still think there's a problem with DU, but I'm quite willing to concede it may not be as presented in the video. We will find out, yes, we will.

That's appalling. Not to mention stomach-turning.

(BTW, I missed the credits at the end--did it say what the background music was? I don't want to watch it again to find out.)
The music is "Unschuld Erde" by Das Ich, remixed by Funker Vogt.
I have my doubts about this. The thing that makes me suspicious is the fact that they say that depleted uranium has a half-life of 4.5 billion years as if that were a bad thing.

Remember, the half-life of an isotope is the amount of time it takes for half of the remaining amount of that isotope to decay (a process that keeps slowing down, but never actually stops). A short time means rapid decay; a long time means slow decay.

Uranium 238 (99% of all uranium) has a half-life of 4.46 billion years. U235 (0.72% of all uranium, the stuff you need to make an A-bomb) has a half-life of 704 million years: it decays over six times more rapidly.

Oh, and some of the potassium in that banana you're eating is K40, with a half-life of 1.25 billion years. That means it decays three and a half times faster than the depleted uranium mentioned in that Flash animation. And some of the carbon in your body, in your clothes, in everything you eat, in your very DNA, is C14, with a half-life of a mere 5715 years, which means it decays almost 800,000 faster than the depleted uranium they warn about.

What's next? Warnings about factories dumping dihydrogen monoxide into the Chesapeake bay?

-- arensb
Hey Tom! Nice new digs. Scary video.
Pardon me, but holy fuck.

The good news: With those images, now antiwar rallies can be just as stomach-turning as the typical anti-choice march. I feel sick just typing that.
The point about the half-life is whether or not the product dangerous in its non-decomposed form. I suppose potassium might be dangerous if I ate 1,000,000 bananas but then I might have more issues than potassium overload.

~Alyssa, too lazy to make an account
Hi. I post as RT at Kos, Eschaton, Political Animal, and other blogs.

Has anyone actually read the WHO page? It contradicts the implications of that disturbing video.

There are plenty of reasons to rip Bush and his crew to shreds without resorting to unsupported hyperbole.
I'm a bit skeptical by nature, so upon viewing the video I couldn't help but wonder how depleted uranium was associated with a common birth defect like cleft palate or how it could cause hydroencephalus, as depicted in the flash video. So I checked the WHO page you linked, which states, "No reproductive or developmental effects have been reported in humans.".

I'm going to grant that "the jury's out" - lots of study needs to be done on depleted Uranium, and the levels created by modern warfare seem downright reckless in advance of a better scientific understanding of the consequences. But that doens't mean we can ignore the known facts, and attribute every health problem and birth defect in the nations at issue or among troops who fought there to depleted uranium.
Holy hell!
You can find more info & studies here.

Slightly more worrysome than the WHO page, but not as bad as the video. I am mainly worried about the lack of research to be honest, but think the video is not based in facts.

I'm sorry, but that video is truly damaging to the cause it's supposedly fighting for.

The short term effect of heavy DU dust exposure would be kidney disease. The long term effect would be lung cancer. DU is a pollutant and it's use is short-sighted and wrong, but throwing together random unrelated pictures from a book of fetal teratologies only discredits those who oppose it's use.

There is WAY too much real horror to have to resort to this kind of propaganda. The facts are on our side -- we should stick with the evidence.
There actually has been a significant amount of research on uranium effects, radiological and toxicological, on humans. Uranium miners were the test subjects. The only departure of the effects due to the war would be the oxidation and vitrification of the uranium. The amounts of uranium to which people are being exposed are just not that significant. Many people maintain about 3 mg of uranium in their bodies at all time due to totally natural effects (average is about 0.1 mg).

Aaron, perhaps you need to go back and read the WHO report again

It has this in it:

"Small children could receive greater exposure to DU when playing in or near DU impact sites. Their typical hand-to-mouth activity could lead to high DU ingestion from contaminated soil. Necessary preventative measures should be taken."

and this...

"Following conflict, levels of DU contamination in food and drinking water might be detected in affected areas even after a few years. This should be monitored where it is considered there is a reasonable possibility of significant quantities of DU entering the ground water or food chain.
Where justified and possible, clean-up operations in impact zones should be undertaken if there are substantial numbers of radioactive projectiles remaining and where qualified experts deem contamination levels to be unacceptable. If high concentrations of DU dust or metal fragments are present, then areas may need to be cordoned off until removal can be accomplished. Such impact sites are likely to contain a variety of hazardous materials, in particular unexploded ordnance. Due consideration needs to be given to all hazards, and the potential hazard from DU kept in perspective. "

I doubt that there has been any long-term studies with sufficient numbers to determine the impact of pre-natal exposure of DU to the mothers as well; particularly in areas that may depend upon wells where DU can leech into the water supply.

Rat data doesn't always extrapolate well, but ionizing radiation bee-booping around and crashing into the DNA of a developing fetus ain't likely to be a good thing to have going on no matter the critter in question.
The defects mentioned for children of gulf war syndrome (on one of the pages linked to) include things like heart defects, finger and limb defects and eye defects. These are all signs of vitamin A poisoning, not heavy metal poisoning.

DU is more a problem as a heavy metal poison than as a source of radiation.

Not that I think it is healthy or good, but this type of hyped up, irrational, non-fact based BS makes me embarassed to be liberal. c'mon, I thought liberals were supposed to be members of the Reality Based Community. If you're going to claim to be Reality Based then be Reality Based. But this kind of thing only weakens our voice and our legitimate points.
The long half-life should be a clue - DU isn't very hot. It is, however, a toxic heavy metal. Not good to be spreading around in finely powdered form. I'm not sure it has any causal link to the birth defects shown, though.

Oh my. Anyone know if the fundies and freepers know about this and are discussing it? The beginning of the video reminded me of anti-abortion stuff I've seen with the babies, and all. Oh yeah, they only care about unborn American babies.

I'm adding your blog to my favorites - what a scoop, I'm jealous. Check out my sorry ass blog:
Thanks to all who commented so far, and all who comment after.

I still don't know precise facts yet, although I am trying to find them. This may end up being pretty accurate... or one of those "grain of truth" things... or total bullshit. Dunno yet. But it's amazing what it's kicked up.

If the facts turn out to be different than presented in the video, I will apologize and lay out the facts. If not... well, we'll see what we get. But let's not savage each other too much, okay? There are a gazillion freepers out there more than willing to do it for us. Let's at least make them do the work.

P.S.: Not a scoop at all, at least not one I can take credit for. I followed someone else's recommended link. Apparently this video was created at least six months ago. Which, as we pointed out on the Atrios comment thread, means that it has been neither debunked nor confirmed that we know of.

The plot thickens.
Are these actual pictures of babies in Iraq?? Is this really what has happened???

Weather or not these "facts" are truly so, it is good tosee the research being done. Obviously the creator of the video should have provided a "works cited" page if they were worth their weight in pixels, but nonetheless this excercise tells us much about the benefits of the blog community.

Would this many people be as interested in conducting their own research and debating this topic if this story were run on 15A of any major newspaper? Of course a newspaper couldn't get away with making claims like this without citing their sources... could they?.
Possible source of pictures for Blumrich flash animation:

Most of the pictures came from an anonymous source and thus have not been authenticated.
Working in a nuclear industry myself, I can say that quite often things that were initially considered low risk have, after long term study, been found to have effects that were never anticipated nor discovered in relatively short term tests or observations. Could well be the issue here; time will tell. Much of what we know in the nuclear industry about radiation exposure to humans we got not by studying the effects on lab animals, but from the actual exposure to humans in Hiroshima, Nagasaki, Chernobyl, and our own accidental (and purposeful) exposure to nuclear workers.
There is a large difference between a radioactive element with a long half life and a stable element with a long half life. Depeleted uranium causes massive radiation, and most of the severe burns and mutations on impact. But the dust and particles stay around, and maintain their radioactivity for billions of years. The are toxic and carcinogenic. It would be more effective for the video to state radiation levels more explcitly and focus less on the half life of the particles, but depleted uranium is very, very bad for people, and this can't and shouldn't be under-emphasized. A baby located right near the site of impact of a DU shell could most certainly be burned and mutated as these images show, and an expecting mother who's water supply is hit could most certainly give birth to a child with a number of mutations and health problems.
What Onceler said.

Certain facts are known. Wikipedia gives the uranium core of Little Boy, the uranium bomb that was dropped on Hiroshima, as 60 kg. As it happens, something like 15% of the uranium actually fissioned. The rest was distributed as radioactive dust. Also, some of the fission products were also radioactive, notably iodine, which was taken up inte the thyroid, and strontium-90, which was taken up into bone tissues. ALL of the birth defects and cancer and radiation disease resulting from the Hiroshima bomb were produced by 45 kg. of uranium and 15 kg. of these other radioactive fission-products.

The US has spread thousands of times more uranium in Iraq than the 60 kg. of the hiroshima bomb. That the uranium in Iraq was depleted does not count for much healthwise--a bomb is only U-235 enhanced by a few percent (enough to sustain a chain reaction) and the depleted uranium is only correspondingly reduced.

The use of depleted uranium is like waging a nuclear war, less the blast and thermal effects. The contamination is much the same.

Those folk who imagine that uranium is safe are wrong.

That's 9 kg. and 51--not 15 kg. and 45!

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The bombs should be dropped on the D.U. factories instead.
Filkertom - you said that upon further review you would update us on this. Please do. This slide show is bull.

Onceler: "A baby located right near the site of impact of a DU shell could most certainly be burned and mutated as these images show, and an expecting mother who's water supply is hit could most certainly give birth to a child with a number of mutations and health problems."

What a bunch of uneducated blathering. Absolutely none of that has a bit of connection to reality.


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