Tastes like burning

What’s a little depleted uranium in the yard if it helps defeat them terrorists?

SN&R Graphic By Don Button

Mark Drolette is a longtime Sacramentan and soon-to-be-permanent Central American whose next book, Why Costa Rica? Why the Hell Not?, also will be his first. It will be available once it’s finished, published and stocked on shelves.

To read Tracy Press reporter John Upton’s stories on the Livermore Lab’s testing of explosives containing radioactive substances, see his Web site at http://www.john-upton.com/lab.htm.

The following lead paragraph of an April 11, 2007, article caught my eye—or, more likely, pierced it with a radioactive-hot poker:

Proposed explosives tests upwind from Tracy [California] will release as much as 450 pounds of radioactive depleted uranium dust into the air every year, according to an air pollution permit application filed Friday by Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory.

Reading the entire item reminded me of my reaction when I first viewed the Project for the New American Century’s Web site several years ago: It had to be a bad fraternity prank gone even badder.

I called the contact number in the piece, hoping I’d get a kegged-out trickster at Whadda Loda Krappa.

Unfortunately, John Upton of the Tracy Press answered, assuring me his column was, indeed, legit. Worse, he informed that the mainstream media hadn’t touched the story.

Depleted-uranium blasts conducted where millions live, yet nary a peep from established news organizations? What’s wrong with this picture?

If you boast a military-industrial complexion, belong to the National Undertakers Association or are George W. Bush, the answer is: not a damn thing. Ditto if you’re the whoreporate media, the administration’s mouthpiece that excels in disseminating propaganda and disinformation or, in this case, no information at all.

Maybe I’m overreacting. After all, physicist Richard Muller, who, according to Upton, spent 34 years with the “JASON science and technology advisory group, which is sponsored by federal intelligence, energy and defense agencies” (there’s impartiality for you), declares: “Depleted uranium is not terribly radioactive,” also claiming its “radioactivity is just a little bit of a pain in the neck.”

Think he means the soreness produced by that cantaloupe-sized thyroid tumor that appeared overnight?

(I wonder what Iraqi parents of spineless babies born since 1991 or thousands of ill Gulf War veterans think about the benign nature of depleted-uranium ordnance that, upon impact, aerosolizes into particles the body can’t avoid ingesting. Untold tons of depleted uranium continue to criminally be used in the current Iraq fiasco.)

Incredibly, it’s even worse than it first appears: In a follow-up article, Upton reports additional “analysis … shows that tons of radioactive depleted uranium and other toxic heavy metals could be blown up in [the] blasts. … Yearly, 20 explosions could each vaporize 220 pounds of depleted uranium. … The lab already conducts 60 to 100 smaller test blasts annually in which an unstated amount of depleted uranium is used ‘routinely.’”

Clearly, this is as insane as, well, the last insane thing the Bushies did.

So should we be surprised this is happening? No. But imagine if it had been proposed 10 years ago. Can’t quite fathom that? That’s because it wouldn’t have been proposed 10 years ago. Now, of course, we’ve all tumbled light years down the rabbit hole where up is down and in which America has undergone a creeping acceptance of madness as the norm.

I’ll say one thing: At least the ruling thugs are equal-opportunity killers. Iraqis, Afghanis and, yup, even Americans: It matters not, as long as the soul eaters in charge get to keep suckling the grotesquely huge teat of the “defense” industry (has there never been a more sardonic euphemism?).

The permit application was filed with the San Joaquin Valley Air Pollution Control District (www.valleyair.org, (559) 230-6000). The district’s spokeswoman, to whom I voiced outrage, assured me my opinion was not uncommon and said information about a public hearing on the permit would be posted online once a venue large enough to accommodate those interested was selected.

I suggested she consider a stadium.

I’ll be there, asking lab representatives: Do you even care this affects your kids, too? How can you look into their eyes, when you tuck them into their decontamination chambers at night, knowing you’ve intentionally poisoned them?

And what, exactly, are you testing? Your utter lack of conscience?

Or perhaps this is one mammoth Bushian experiment studying the long-term effects of depleted uranium on civilians? Forgive my cynicism, but I’m a tad suspicious of folks who’ve slain hundreds of thousands of people purely for personal gain telling me I’ve nothing to worry about.

Here’s something I’ve pondered: When it’s all said and done, when the harebrained press the hair trigger and the attacked retaliate in kind, when the entire globe is one broiling wasteland and the inhumanoids like Cheney and Bush and Rumsfeld and Perle emerge from their bunkers in their designer X-Ray-Bans and dark blue Michelin Man-like anti-radiation suits (complete with skinny ties), what will they think?

That at long last, this was what they wanted? That by scorching the Earth, they finally achieved their ultimate prize: The knowledge that it’s all theirs now?

But what would be all theirs? A smoking hulk of a planet on which nothing can survive for myriad millennia?

A nuclear winter isn’t required, of course, for us to die from their toxicity or, more to the point, for the war pigs to continue slopping around in profiteering hog heaven.

Because that’s their true desire, you know: (more) money. Whether it’s controlling natural resources or stoking the insatiable war machine, a few hopelessly deranged individuals call the shots, rapaciously reaping to their nonexistent hearts’ content, sovereignty and lives be damned.

Still, for these loons, it’s never enough: In March, the Bush administration pegged Livermore to design a new nuke (America has 10,000 already): the “Reliable Replacement Warhead,” they call it. (Love the name; it’s much better than “Unreliable Replacement Warhead.”)

Are the planned depleted-uranium detonations specifically related to these new warheads’ development? Per Upton, the lab says no.

But it doesn’t matter; poison is poison. What does matter is that it’s done in the name of “national security” and protecting American lives while it simultaneously—whoopsie!—snuffs them out.

The extraordinarily lethal, exorbitantly wasteful military-industrial complex slays on. The war profiteers would like nothing more than to remain on a permanent war footing and, with the never-ending “war on terror,” they’ve got just the ticket.

Meanwhile, ours gets punched with unhinged schemes like spewing death into our backyards.