British young people against nuclear weapons


This video from England is called Bruce Kent Addresses London ‘No Trident‘ Demonstration.

From daily The Morning Star in Britain:

Post-cold war generation ‘more likely’ to oppose nuclear weapons

Tuesday 8th April 2014

Researchers find young people oppose scale of Trident programme and disagree with government claim that it is a nuclear ‘deterrent’

People who grew up after the end of the cold war are more likely to oppose nuclear weapons than their elders, researchers said yesterday.

Only 19 per cent of 18 to 35-year-olds think the Trident nuclear missile programme should be renewed at its current size and capacity compared to 33 per cent aged 36 and over.

And 47 per cent of the younger group directly disagree with government claims that nuclear weapons protect us from modern-day threats like terrorism.

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United States drone war from Germany


This 2013 video from the USA is called Jeremy Scahill – Dirty Wars: Inside America’s Covert Wars.

By Elisabeth Zimmermann in Germany:

US conducting drone war from Germany

8 April 2014

The American Ramstein military base in the German state of Rhineland-Palatinate plays a central role in Washington’s global drone war. This has been revealed by research from the daily Süddeutsche Zeitung, and the radio networks Norddeutsche Rundfunk (NDR) and Westdeutsche Rundfunk (WDR), based on details from American military documents and former drone pilot Brandon Bryant.

Already early last summer, it was revealed that drone attacks in Africa were being directed from Germany. The central role is played by the Air and Space Operation Centre at the Ramstein base in Rhineland-Palatinate, which is the largest overseas US air base. Pictures from drones circling over African countries such as Somalia are evaluated there. The men and women in the flight centre receive their orders from Stuttgart, where Africom, the headquarters of the US’s African command, has been based since 2007.

Representatives of the German and American governments have always denied that drone attacks are launched from German territory.

When US president Obama visited Germany last June, he claimed in reference to such reports that no drone attacks were conducted or ordered from German territory. “We don’t use Germany as a starting point for unmanned drones in the war on terror. I know that there have been some reports here in Germany according to which that could be the case. It is not the case,” said Obama.

German government representatives answered related questions in parliament, claiming they were not aware that such attacks were flown or directed from Germany.

Both statements were false. The latest revelations also prove that interventions in Pakistan and Yemen were handled from Ramstein. The US military base plays a crucial role in the drone war, which has executed thousands of “suspected terrorists” who had no judicial process or opportunity to defend themselves, as well as numerous civilians that even the US government admits are entirely innocent.

According to estimates from the Bureau of Investigative Journalists, approximately 1,000 civilians have been killed in Pakistan and Yemen by drone attacks since 2004. Foreign Policy magazine estimates that 2,000 “suspects” have been killed by drones since November 2001. The number of civilian deaths remains disputed and is likely many times more than the published figures.

The US Ramstein base serves as a centre for data collection in the drone war. The remote-controlled machines send their data via a satellite to the base, from where it is forwarded through fiber-optic cables to the United States.

In a bunker deep underground on the Ramstein base is the so-called distributed ground system (DGS). There are only five of these US Air Force installations globally that are permanently in operation. Three are located in the United States, one in South Korea, and another, DSG 4, has been at Ramstein since 2003. Only selected soldiers have access to this high security area. No outsider would have any idea of what is going on under their noses.

The DGS is the “central nervous system” of US drone interventions. All of the strands involved in a drone attack are brought together here. Live pictures supplied by drones from Yemen, Somalia, the Afghan-Pakistani border area or other countries are analysed and compared against intelligence information. Decisions are taken, meaning the orders for illegal killings, and then carried out in each target area.

Drone pilots, who are usually based in the US, receive analysis and instructions from DSG-4 in Ramstein through an encrypted chat system called mIRC.

“Without Germany, the US military’s entire drone war would not be possible,” former drone pilot Brandon Bryant told the Süddeutsche Zeitung. He explained on the ARD television programme Panorama, “The air base at Ramstein plays a very essential role in the global drone war. Without this base in Germany, none of it would work. It is the epicentre for the flow of information for the US’s overseas operations.”

Bryant, 28, was stationed at an airbase in New Mexico until April 2011, from where he controlled drones. According to his own figures, he participated in the deaths of 1,626 people, including alleged terrorists, terrorist suspects, and probably civilians.

In the more than 6,000 hours that he flew, there was not a single operation “in which I did not call Ramstein to connect with my drone. At the airbase, virtually all information comes together, like in a funnel,” Bryant said April 3 on the Panorama programme.

He left the air force because he had questioned the integrity of his superiors. “They broke international law and violated human rights. We were basically a killing machine,” said Bryant in explaining his departure from the US military.

The German government responded with evasions to the new evidence that the Ramstein base plays a central role in the US global drone war.

“The American government gave assurances to the federal government that such armed and remote-controlled aircraft were neither flown nor guided from American bases in Germany,” claimed government spokesman Stefan Seibert, referring to the government’s previous level of awareness. But now there was “new information reported,” which the German government wished to make the subject of discussions with the US government. The German government took these reports “seriously.”

In reality, the German government not only knew a lot more about the US drone programme than it is admitting in public, but is directly implicated in it. However, to admit this would have wide-ranging consequences, since the drone programme is in blatant violation of German and international law.

A parliamentary report from January 20, 2014, cited by the Süddeutsche Zeitung, comes to the conclusion that it was “indisputable that Germany” should not tolerate “military operations in violation of international law” that were being implemented by foreign states from German territory. If the US military executes a terror suspect by drone-fired missile outside of a combat zone and in breach of international law, this could “represent complicity in a crime against international law,” if the German government knew about it but didn’t protest.

German intelligence services pass information to the NSA and US military that assists in the identification of drone targets, receiving information in exchange. Three German citizens have also been killed as a result of such data in Pakistan.

Twenty-year-old Bünyamin E from Wuppertal lost his life on October 4, 2010, in a drone attack in Waziristan. The state prosecutor abandoned a full investigation in June 2013.

Patrick N from Offenbach, a German who had converted to Islam, travelled with his wife and two children to Pakistan in 2011 and allegedly joined the “Islamic movement of Uzbekistan.” The 27-year-old died on February 16, 2012, when rockets struck the pickup in which he was travelling near the border with Afghanistan. In addition to him, a further nine people are estimated to have lost their lives.

Samir H from Aachen was killed in a drone attack on a land rover on March 9, 2012. The 29-year-old had travelled to the Afghan-Pakistan border region with his wife and children in 2009 and allegedly also joined the “Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan.” The German government gave no statements on whether German security forces had passed information on Samir H to American intelligence. Investigations into his death were halted by the state prosecutor in August 2013.

These are the three cases made public. It is not known how many more cases there are where information obtained and passed on by German security forces have led to the deaths of those targeted. However, it is known that a broad range of information flows from Germany to the United States daily, including names, telephone numbers and e-mail addresses from suspects who have travelled to Afghanistan, Pakistan, Syria or Yemen.

The close, and in many areas illegal, collaboration of German and American security forces goes back to the terrorist attacks of September 11 and the Social Democratic-Green Party government in Germany at the time.

So-called rendition flights, which took prisoners to secret “black sites” in various locations around the world, were allowed to stop over regularly in Germany without any obstruction. The German government refused to call for the release of Morat Kurnaz, who grew up in Bremen but sat in Guantanamo Bay for four years, having committed no crime. And in 2003, when the German-Lebanese Khalid El-Masri was kidnapped in Macedonia by the CIA, the German government did not lift a finger to support him.

Last week, the German parliament established an investigatory committee to focus on the surveillance practices of the NSA, while shedding light on Ramstein’s role in the global drone war. But like the investigation of the committee into the murders by the neo-Nazi NSU, all indications are that this will be a cover-up rather than an exposure.

This is shown by the treatment of the most important witness on the NSA programmes, Edward Snowden, who exposed the NSA’s surveillance systems. Although the investigatory committee has invited him as a witness, the German government at the same time refused to give him any assurance of asylum or a secure period of residency in Germany. As a result, Snowden, who understandably fears for his life, will not be able to appear in person before the committee.

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Dutch priest murdered in Syria


This video from Syria, in Arabic, says about itself:

Wake up Call: Frans van der Lugt s.j./S.O.S.from Homs

January 27th 2014

Jesuit Father Frans Van Der Lugt does an emergency call from his church in Homs.

That day was [supposed] to enable and agree to Red Cross aid to women and children to leave the city. That didn’t seem to be fulfilled.

The last contact of the father with the home front would have been a week before Jan. 27. The date of the recording is not exactly known.

He talks about hunger and that it is the case that adults find street food for their children, he says: it may not be true that the world does nothing. We want to live!

Translated from NOS TV in the Netherlands:

Dutch priest killed in Syria

Update: Monday 7 May 2014, 13:37

Dutch Father Frans van der Lugt (75) was shot dead this morning in the Syrian city of Homs. The order of Jesuits [Van der Lugt's order] said he was dragged away from his home by armed men. They have beaten him and then shot him in the head.

Van der Lugt gave several interviews in recent months, in which he said he was determined to stay in the country. He was concerned about the dire situation in the country and said that people needed urgent help.

The father lived for nearly 50 years in a monastery in Homs, where he housed people with disabilities.

This NOS TV Internet item does not mention, though the NOS TV news broadcast did, that a NOS correspondent said that Van der Lugt’s murderers may have been either pro-government or pro-opposition fighters in the Syrian civil war. The correspondent thought they were probably on the opposition side.

UPDATE: according to Dutch daily De Telegraaf, Van der Lugt’s murderers were members of the Al-Nusra Front, an armed opposition group, linked to Al-Qaeda.

Van der Lugt wrote critically abou the armed opposition.

United States weapons for Syrian opposition: here.

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Sarin gas attack in Syria and the Turkish government


This video from the USA is called Seymour Hersh: Obama “Cherry Picked” Intel on Syrian Chemical Attack to Justify U.S. Strike (1 of 2).

And this is Part 2.

By Patrick Martin:

New exposé by Seymour Hersh: Turkey staged gas attack to provoke US war on Syria

7 April 2014

In a lengthy article published Sunday by the London Review of Books, investigative journalist Seymour Hersh reports that the sarin gas attack on a Damascus suburb on August 21, 2013 was actually carried out by Syrian “rebel” forces acting at the behest of Turkey, for the purpose of providing a pretext for a US attack on Syria.

The gas attack killed many hundreds of people in the Damascus suburb of Ghouta, and the Obama administration and the corporate-controlled US media immediately blamed the Syrian government of Bashar al-Assad for the atrocity. The New York Times, in particular, published a lengthy analysis by its military “expert,” C. J. Chivers, which purported to show, based on rocket trajectories, prevailing winds and other technical factors, that the gas shells could only have been fired from Syrian army artillery positions.

For several weeks, the Ghouta attack became the pretext for a warmongering campaign by the White House and the US and European media. Obama threatened immediate air strikes, claiming that the Syrian government had crossed a “red line” against the use of chemical weapons, which he had laid down in 2012.

The US president then abruptly reversed himself and announced he would seek congressional approval first, only to call off any overt military action in favor of a deal brokered by Russian President Vladimir Putin in which Assad agreed to the supervised dismantling of his chemical weapons stockpiles.

By Hersh’s account, “Obama’s change of mind had its origins at Porton Down, the defence laboratory in Wiltshire. British intelligence had obtained a sample of the sarin used in the 21 August attack and analysis demonstrated that the gas used didn’t match the batches known to exist in the Syrian army’s chemical weapons arsenal. The message that the case against Syria wouldn’t hold up was quickly relayed to the US joint chiefs of staff… As a consequence the American officers delivered a last-minute caution to the president, which, in their view, eventually led to his cancelling the attack.”

The US military leadership also knew that White House claims that there could be no other source for the sarin gas than the Syrian army were false. “The American and British intelligence communities had been aware since the spring of 2013 that some rebel units in Syria were developing chemical weapons,” Hersh reports. “On 20 June analysts for the US Defense Intelligence Agency issued a highly classified five-page ‘talking points’ briefing for the DIA’s deputy director, David Shedd, which stated that al-Nusra maintained a sarin production cell…”

Hersh quotes extensively from this US government document, which the office of the US director of national intelligence now denies ever existed:

Al-Nusrah Front’s relative freedom of operation within Syria leads us to assess the group’s CW [chemical weapons] aspirations will be difficult to disrupt in the future… Turkey and Saudi-based chemical facilitators… were attempting to obtain sarin precursors in bulk, tens of kilograms, likely for the anticipated large scale production effort in Syria.”

Hersh notes that members of al-Nusra were arrested in Turkey last May in possession of two kilograms of sarin. They were charged in a 130-page indictment with “attempting to purchase fuses, piping for the construction of mortars, and chemical precursors for sarin.” All have since been released pending trial, or had charges dropped altogether.

Those arrests followed chemical weapons attacks in Syria in March and April 2013, where a UN investigation found evidence implicating the Syrian “rebels.” One source told Hersh, “Investigators interviewed the people who were there, including the doctors who treated the victims. It was clear that the rebels used the gas. It did not come out in public because no one wanted to know.”

The “no one,” of course, was the US government, its European allies, and its UN stooges—as well as their political apologists in the media and the pseudo-left groups such as the International Socialist Organization that were either openly campaigning for military intervention in Syria or justifying it by portraying the US-financed “rebels” as the bearers of a democratic revolution.

When the August 21 attack took place, Obama ordered the Pentagon to draw up plans for bombing Syria, and, as a former intelligence official told Hersh, “the White House rejected 35 target sets provided by the joint chiefs of staff as being insufficiently ‘painful’ to the Assad regime.”

The US bombing plan ultimately envisioned “a monster strike” involving two wings of B-52 bombers equipped with 2,000-pound bombs, as well as Tomahawk cruise missiles fired from submarines and surface warships.

Hersh continues: “The new target list was meant to ‘completely eradicate any military capabilities Assad had,’ the former intelligence official said. The core targets included electric power grids, oil and gas depots, all known logistic and weapons depots, all known command and control facilities, and all known military and intelligence buildings.”

The bombing attack drawn up at the direction of the Obama White House would have itself constituted a war crime, causing thousands if not tens of thousands of casualties and crippling Syria as a functioning society.

Hersh then passes on to his most important revelation: that US officials believed the Turkish government, or its intelligence agencies, had instigated the gas attack in Ghouta.

He cites concerns among US military and intelligence leaders that “there were some in the Turkish government” who supported “dabbling with a sarin attack inside Syria—and forcing Obama to make good on his red line threat.”

This was reinforced by the British military intelligence finding on the type of gas used in Ghouta. This included a message to the Americans: “We’re being set up here.” This was followed by a further message about the Ghouta attack that “a senior official in the CIA sent in late August: ‘It was not the result of the current regime [i.e., Assad]’. UK & US know this.”

Hersh suggests that the bitter controversy over the attack on a US consulate and CIA mission in Benghazi, Libya in 2012, which killed four Americans including the ambassador to Libya, Christopher Stevens, is directly linked to the infighting over Syria.

It has been widely reported that the CIA organized the shipment of Libyan weapons stockpiles from Benghazi to the Syrian rebels. Hersh cites a “highly classified annex” to the report of the Senate committee that investigated the Benghazi attack.

This document “described a secret agreement reached in early 2012 between the Obama and [Turkish] Erdogan administrations… By the terms of the agreement, funding came from Turkey, as well as Saudi Arabia and Qatar; the CIA, with the support of MI6, was responsible for getting arms from Gaddafi’s arsenals into Syria. A number of front companies were set up in Libya, some under the cover of Australian entities. Retired American soldiers, who didn’t always know who was really employing them, were hired to manage procurement and shipping. The operation was run by David Petraeus, the CIA director who would soon resign when it became known he was having an affair with his biographer.”

According to Hersh, after the Benghazi fiasco, the CIA was pulled out, but the Libya to Turkey to Syria pipeline continued, possibly including “manpads”—portable surface-to-air missile launchers, which the Obama administration had opposed supplying the rebels out of concern that they would be used to attack civilian airliners.

Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan tasked Turkey’s National Intelligence Organization (MIT) with engineering a provocation that would give a pretext for direct US military intervention. Hersh quotes his source: “‘The MIT was running the political liaison with the rebels, and the Gendarmerie handled military logistics, on-the-scene advice and training—including training in chemical warfare,’ the former intelligence official said. ‘Stepping up Turkey’s role in spring 2013 was seen as the key to its problems there… Erdogan’s hope was to instigate an event that would force the US to cross the red line. But Obama didn’t respond in March and April.’”

Two sources described to Hersh a working dinner during Erdogan’s visit to Washington in May 2013 in which Obama, Secretary of State John Kerry and National Security Adviser Thomas Donilon met Erdogan, foreign minister Ahmet Davutoglu and MIT chief Hakan Fidan. Erdogan appealed for Obama to attack Syria, telling him “your red line has been crossed.” Obama then pointed at Fidan and said, “We know what you’re doing with the radicals in Syria.”

Hersh cites a “US intelligence consultant” who describes a classified briefing for Martin Dempsey, chairman of the joint chiefs, and Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel, prepared before the August 21 gas attack. The briefing noted “the acute anxiety” in the Erdogan regime over the military setbacks for the Syrian rebels and warned that the Turkish leadership felt “the need to do something that would precipitate a US military response.”

In the period following the gas attack, Hersh’s former intelligence official source explained, communications intercepts and other data supported the suspicion that Turkey had organized the Ghouta attack. “We now know it was a covert action planned by Erdogan’s people to push Obama over the red line,’ the former intelligence official said. ‘They had to escalate to a gas attack in or near Damascus when the UN inspectors’—who arrived in Damascus on 18 August to investigate the earlier use of gas—‘were there. The deal was to do something spectacular. Our senior military officers have been told by the DIA and other intelligence assets that the sarin was supplied through Turkey—that it could only have gotten there with Turkish support. The Turks also provided the training in producing the sarin and handling it.’”

Only a week ago, evidence surfaced that supports the credibility of Hersh’s report. A video was posted on YouTube of a meeting of Turkish officials, including Fikan, in which the intelligence chief suggests that Turkish agents should mount an attack on a Muslim shrine inside Syria to provide a pretext for a Turkish invasion of the country.

Hersh’s account is his second long exposé in four months of the “false flag” gas attack in Damascus. Both articles were published in the British journal because no major US newspaper or magazine will any longer publish material from the Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist.

Beginning with his reporting of the My Lai massacre in Vietnam for the New York Times, Hersh has specialized in developing sources in the US military and intelligence apparatus, frequently those with policy differences with the current administration in Washington. Hersh left the Times for Newsday, and then wrote for the New Yorker for many years.

Both the New Yorker and the Washington Post refused to publish his first report on the Ghouta gas attack, which charged that the sarin attack had been carried out by Syrian rebels in the al-Nusra Front, forcing Hersh to find a British publisher for his account. The US press was largely silent on that report, and it has so far blacked out the latest exposure.

The author also recommends:

Seymour Hersh exposes US government lies on Syrian sarin attack
[10 December 2013]

The war drive against Syria
[26 August 2013]

Syria chemical warfare claims aim to provoke Western intervention
[22 August 2013]

“If you’re inside the bureaucracy, you can’t tell the White House something they don’t want to know.” -Seymour Hersh: here.

Media blacks out Seymour Hersh exposé of US lies on Syrian gas attack: here.

US officials say they have a plan to supply the “moderate opposition” in Syria with weapons that are to be channelled through Washington’s regional allies: here.

Syria, Russia and Ukraine: here.

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Tony Blair in CIA torture flights scandal


This video from the USA is called Court Dismisses Lawsuit Against Boeing in CIA Torture Flight Program.

From the Daily Telegraph in England:

Tony Blair ‘knew all about CIA secret kidnap programme

Former British PM was ‘fully briefed’ on CIA’s interrogation programme after Sept 11 attacks

By Peter Foster, Washington

8:53PM BST 05 Apr 2014

Tony Blair knew in detail about the CIA’s secret kidnap and interrogation programme after the September 11 attacks and was kept informed “every step of the way” by MI6, a security source has told The Telegraph.

Mr Blair, the then prime minister, and Jack Straw, his foreign secretary, were fully briefed on CIA activities and were shown now infamous Bush administration legal opinions that declared “enhanced interrogation” techniques such as waterboarding and stress positions to be legal, the source said.

“The politicians took a very active interest indeed. They wanted to know everything. The Americans passed over the legal opinions saying that this was now ‘legal’, and our politicians were aware of what was going on at the highest possible level.

“The politicians knew in detail about everything – the torture and the rendition. They could have said [to M16] ‘stop it, do not get involved’, but at no time did they,” said the source, who has direct and detailed knowledge of the transatlantic relations during that period.

The claims come as Scotland Yard continues to investigate whether MI6 officers should face criminal charges for alleged complicity in the rendition of suspected terrorists, including two Libyan Islamists who were sent back in 2004 to Tripoli, where they were tortured.

The case was opened in January 2012 after documents recovered during the Libyan revolution appeared to show that Sir Mark Allen, the former head of counter-terrorism at MI6, and other agents had been complicit in the rendition of Abdel Hakim Belhadj, who was captured by the CIA with his pregnant wife and sent back to Libya.

Among the documents was a memo apparently signed by Sir Mark congratulating the then Libyan intelligence chief, Moussa Koussa, on the “safe arrival” of Mr Belhadj.

The Telegraph understands that MI6 has been forced to hand over top secret documents from that period to police and that senior officers who served at the time have been interviewed as part of the investigation. It is not known whether Mr Straw, who intelligence sources have indicated was fully briefed on the rendition, has also been interviewed by police.

The source’s claims echo those made publicly by Sir Richard Dearlove, the head of MI6 from 1999 to 2004, who said in a speech in 2012 that MI6’s cooperation with the CIA’s rendition programme was a “political” decision.

Tony Blair absolutely knew, Dearlove was briefing him all the time. He was meticulous about keeping the politicians informed. Whether there was anything in writing, well that is a different matter,” added the source, who said it was laughable to suggest that the approval for British security services to cooperate with the CIA programme had been authorised by Mr Straw alone.

“The understanding at SIS [Secret Intelligence Service] was it was acting in the ‘national interest’ and with clear political approval.

“SIS is not a rogue organisation. It would never do this kind of thing alone and without explicit authorisation; that is just not how it works.”

The British government has never formally admitted its role in rendition or officially apologised to victims, although it has paid out several multi-million pounds in “no fault” settlements to rendition victims and former Guantánamo Bay inmates who sued for damages.

The claims against Mr Blair come as the US Senate voted this week to declassify a summary of a 6,300-page report into the CIA’s rendition programme in a move that legal experts say will put added pressure on the British government to come clean about its role.

Senator Dianne Feinstein, the Democrat chairman of the committee that conducted the research, said the “shocking” report had “uncovered the facts” behind the secret programme and could be made public within 30 days following a security review by the White House and the CIA.

As well as the continuing criminal investigation, the British government, MI6 and Mr Straw are being sued by Mr Belhadj. In an exclusive interview with The Telegraph this week, Mr Belhadj said he was determined to pursue the British government through the courts for an apology and the truth about what happened to him – and what senior figures such as Mr Blair knew about it.

“When he was sitting in the tent with the dictator Gaddafi, I was facing torture at the hands of my own country’s [intelligence] services,” Mr Belhadj said by phone from Tripoli, referring to Mr Blair’s meeting with the Libyan leader in March 2004.

Mr Blair has never confirmed what he knew about the rendition programme, but has argued that Libya played a vital role in the “war on terror”. Mr Belhadj’s case was thrown out last December by a High Court judge who acknowledged that he had a “well-founded claim”, but declined to hear it, citing British government legal arguments that it would seriously damage US-UK relations.

It was decided that English courts had no jurisdiction over events that may have taken place in other countries.

However, legal experts said that the Obama administration decision to declassify its investigation into the torture programme seriously undermines the British government’s claim that all information relating to the case must still be kept secret or be heard in secret courts that were set up last year to hear such cases.

“The fact that President Obama himself has said that this report should be released only confirms that the UK now has no leg to stand on,” said Amrit Singh, a senior lawyer with the New York-based Open Society Justice Initiative.

Mr Belhadj said: “In light of the publication of this report it appears that the British legal argument that my case cannot be discussed for fear of upsetting the Americans is actually just a pretext.

“It’s going to make it clear that the British government’s attempt to cover up the abuse that my wife and I suffered are not to do with national security but are to do with avoiding national embarrassment.”

USA: While CIA torturers are protected, CIA whistleblower John Kiriakou is in prison. Help get him out: here.

Nancy Pelosi blames CIA’s “enhanced interrogation” on Dick Cheney: here.

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Algerian desert dust infected with French bomb radioactivity


This video is about a French nuclear weapons test in Algeria.

By David Lowry in Britain:

Is Saharan dust radioactive?

Friday 4th April 2014

As Britain is blanketed in a layer of desert sand, DAVID LOWRY asks whether it could be contaminated by fallout from French nuclear tests in Algeria more than 50 years ago

South-easterly winds have coated Britain in a toxic Saharan dust cloud.

Combined with domestic pollution, the sand has caused air quality to plummet and engulfed many parts of the country in smog-like conditions.

But one unreported aspect of the Saharan dust is that it could be radioactive.

French nuclear testing in Algeria, conducted during the height of the independence struggle, spread radioactive fallout across southern Europe in the early 1960s – and the radioactivity that settled on the desert could have been resuspended in this natural fallout event over Britain.

It’s recently been revealed that atmospheric spread of the radioactive fallout was much larger than the French army admitted at the time.

New reports by the France 24 TV station suggest that the fallout from the tests at Reggane in central Algeria stretched across all of west Africa, across the Mediterranean and up to southern Europe.

The information came to light following appeals from military veterans who say their current ill health is linked to exposure to dangerous levels of radiation.

France‘s first nuclear deviceGerboise Bleue” (Blue Jerboa) was more than three times as powerful as the bomb dropped on Nagasaki in 1945.

Thirteen days after it was detonated, in February 1960, radioactive particles ranged from the Central African Republic to Sicily and southern Spain.

At the time the French military authorities said the fallout from the explosion was limited to the desert and that radiation levels were “generally low.”

But associations representing military veterans of France’s nuclear tests in the 1960s and 1970s are demanding that the government admits it knew that the fallout from Saharan tests was dangerous.

“In the 1960s the norms governing acceptable levels of radiation were much less strict than they are now,” said Bruno Barillot, an expert in nuclear tests who is representing veterans’ groups.

“And the medical evidence we have now shows clearly that exposure to this radiation can set off serious illnesses more than three decades later,” he told Le Parisien.

Barillot added that the declassified documents showed that the army at the time was aware that even the 1960s safety levels were largely surpassed and that significant quantities of airborne radioactive particles, particularly iodine 131 and caesium 137, could have been inhaled by large numbers of people in north Africa.

He also complained that the government had been extremely selective in terms of what documents to release.

The Parisien article points out that “if it can be demonstrated that the fallout of the bomb tests spread dangerous levels radiation over large parts of north Africa, many more demands for compensation from individuals and from national governments could be in the pipeline.”

I found this suggestion interesting, as I had been involved in research on this issue over 20 years, when I did research for the now retired Labour MP Llew Smith.

In October 1993 he asked in a written question to the secretary of state for defence whether he would ask his French counterpart for information on the French atmospheric nuclear tests in Reganne, citing article 34 of the Euratom treaty.

This treaty says that member states intending to conduct dangerous experiments in any part of their territories require permission from the European Commission and are required to seek its advice on health and safety.

In reply the junior defence minister Jonathan Aitken answered: “Article 34 of the Euratom treaty does not apply to military activities.”

Just over two years later Labour MEP Alex Smith, for whom I also did research, asked the European Commission what technical information the French government had provided about the environmental and safety implications of nuclear tests in Algeria and which “independent external individuals or institutions” the commission had consulted.

He was told by was told by environment commissioner V Bjerregaard in 1996 that France had notified the commission in July 1959 that it intended to carry out a nuclear explosion in the Sahara desert and “the additional safety measures envisaged.”

The commission replied the following month and “gave a favourable opinion while proposing some modifications.”

Bjerregaard said: “These concerned the timing of the explosion with regard to meteorological conditions, the volume of radioactive dust generated in relation to the characteristics of the soil and the need to comply with the dose limits in … basic safety standards that were laid down by the Council on February 2 1959.”

France carried out the first explosion in February 1960.

Bjerregaard said that “subsequent tests were carried out taking similar safety measures.”

From 1960 to 1996, France carried out 210 nuclear tests, 17 in the Algerian Sahara and 193 in Mururoa Atoll in French Polynesia.

Yet Bjerregaard admitted that “no further notifications to the commission in terms of Article 34 of the Euratom Treaty were received, neither at the start of nuclear testing at Mururoa in 1966 nor before underground testing [in the South Pacific] was resumed on September 5 1995.”

So clearly Euratom’s remit did apply to military nuclear activities, despite the MoD denial.

For more of David Lowry’s writing visit drdavidlowry.blogspot.co.uk.

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Fort Hood shooting and mental illness in the United States military


This video is called Australian Army PTSD Documentary – Casualties Of War – Part 1.

And here is Part 2.

And here is Part 3.

By Jerry White in the USA:

Ft. Hood shooting highlights mental illness crisis in US military

4 April 2014

In the latest outburst of violence in the US, an army soldier who had been deployed to Iraq and was under psychiatric care for possible post-traumatic stress shot and killed three military personnel at the Fort Hood post in Texas and wounded 16 others Wednesday before turning the gun on himself.

According to law enforcement and military sources, the gunman was 34-year-old Army Specialist Ivan Lopez. A native of Puerto Rico, Lopez was a member of the island’s National Guard from 1999 to 2008. He was deployed in 2007 as part of a multinational force in Egypt’s Sinai Peninsula for 13 months before joining the active duty Army in 2008 as an infantry soldier. According to a military spokesman, Lopez was sent on his second deployment to Iraq as a truck driver for four months in 2011.

Lopez reportedly arrived at Fort Hood in Killeen, Texas in February after transferring from Ft. Bliss in El Paso. He moved into an apartment with his wife and young daughter a little more than a week before the shooting.

In a press briefing Lt. Gen. Mark Milley said the soldier suffered from “mental issues,” was on medication and was being evaluated for post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). “He was undergoing behavioral health, psychiatric treatment for depression and anxiety and a variety of other psychological and psychiatric issues,” Milley said. “He was not diagnosed, as of today, with PTSD, he was undergoing a diagnosis process to determine if he had PTSD. That is a lengthy process.”

Describing what was known about the shooting, Milley said at around 4 p.m. local time the gunman “walked into one of the unit buildings, opened fire, got into a vehicle, fired from [the] vehicle, got out of the vehicle, walked into another building, opened fire again and was engaged by local law enforcement here at Fort Hood.”

Milley said a female officer confronted Lopez in a parking lot near the second building. He approached the officer but stopped about 20 feet from her and put his hands up. Then, Milley said, the gunman reached into his jacket and pulled out his weapon. As the officer opened fire, the man shot himself in the head.

A soldier told local news outlet KENS 5 that Lopez fired about 20 rounds outside near the transportation motor pool and then went into the medical brigade building, where more bursts of gunshots were fired after an apparent standoff. Milley said there was no indication of an argument at the WTU, the so-called Warrior Transition Command where wounded, ill and injured soldiers are “taught resilience skills,” according to CNN.

Authorities say there is no indication that Lopez was targeting specific soldiers. The wounded include eight men and one woman, according to local news reports, ranging in ages from their early 20s to mid 40s. Most have gunshot wounds or injuries from shrapnel debris.

The military was quick to announce that Lopez did not see combat in Iraq. His records “show no wounds, no direct involvement in combat … or any injury that might lead us to further investigate battle-related TBI (traumatic brain injury),” Army Secretary John McHugh told the Senate Armed Services Committee on Thursday. However, Lt. Gen. Milley said Lopez “self-reported” suffering a traumatic brain injury while deployed, according to a CNN report.

Fort Hood was the scene of a mass shooting in November 2009 when Army psychiatrist Major Nidal Hasan shot and killed 13 people. Hasan, the son of Palestinian immigrant parents, worked as a liaison between wounded soldiers and the psychiatric staff at the Walter Reed Hospital in Washington, DC, where he turned hostile to the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq. He was vilified as a “terrorist” by the Obama administration and convicted and sentenced to death by a military tribunal in August.

Two years later, authorities arrested an AWOL army private, Naser Jason Abdo, after he bought gunpowder, shotgun shells and a handgun from the same gun shop outside the base where Hasan (and later Lopez) bought their weapons. The police said Abdo was plotting to attack a restaurant popular with Ft. Hood personnel.

The eruption of violence at military bases, like throughout all of American society, has become more commonplace. In September 2013, a dozen people were shot dead and at least 14 others injured when a gunman opened fire on military and civilian employees at the Washington Navy Yard, located in southeast Washington, DC. Police shot and killed the gunman, 34-year-old Aaron Alexis, a civilian contractor for the Navy from Fort Worth, Texas.

President Obama made predictable and perfunctory comments after the latest shooting, telling reporters at an impromptu appearance inside the Chicago Cut Steakhouse, “Obviously, this reopens the pain of what happened at Fort Hood five years ago,” he said. “We know these families. We know their incredible service to our country and the sacrifices that they make.”

In fact, the unceasing wars by the United States have left a large portion of the 2.2 million soldiers deployed to Afghanistan and Iraq since 2001 psychologically damaged and suffering from alcohol and drug abuse, and suicidal tendencies, according to the National Alliance on Mental Illness. A June 2012 NAMI report on military personnel, veterans and their families states that one in five active duty service members experienced symptoms of posttraumatic stress (PTS), depression and other mental health problems.

Rates of PTS in veterans of the Iraq and Afghanistan wars range from 5 to 37 percent, while rates of depression were found to be as high as 27 percent. The Veterans Administration has treated more than 400,000 of these veterans for mental health problems, but tens of thousands of others go untreated.

The current wars have involved longer and more frequent deployments than at any other time since the military became an all-volunteer force in 1973. Military suicide is a “national crisis,” the report declares, with one active duty soldier taking his or her own life every 36 hours and one veteran every 80 minutes—or more than 20 a day.

Suicide has also increased within the National Guard and Reserve, the NAMI report notes, “even among those who have never been officially ‘activated’ and are not eligible for care through the Veterans’ Administration.”

Drug abuse, including prescription drugs, increased from 5 percent in 2005 to 12 percent in 2008. Drug or alcohol abuse was involved in one-third of the Army suicide deaths from 2003 to 2009, the report notes.

These and other malignant problems in the US military, including domestic violence and sexual abuse, are inevitable given the horrors that soldiers have witnessed or participated in. There is a vast gulf between the government and media promotion of soldiers as selfless heroes and liberators and the daily realities of the colonial-style wars and occupations, in which they are involved in the bloody suppression of hostile populations.

The mayhem at Ft. Hood is the latest and tragically will not be the last example of the collateral damage inflicted by American imperialism, which has not only perpetrated unspeakable crimes on the people of Afghanistan and Iraq but left American society itself deeply scarred.

The author also recommends:

Sexual violence and abuse in the US military
[22 March 2014]

Why the Fort Hood shooter was able to purchase a gun despite serious mental health issues: here.

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