Keeping the blogosphere posted on the goings on of the world of submarines since late 2004... and mocking and belittling general foolishness wherever it may be found. Idaho's first and foremost submarine blog. (If you don't like something on this blog, please E-mail me; don't call me at home.)

Thursday, July 13, 2006

Depleted Uranium -- Worthy Of Exclamations Points!

The Letters to the Editor section of the Idaho Statesman continue to provide an endless source of amusement. Take the letter (at the bottom of this link) in Tuesday's paper from one of the more prolific LTTE writers (he's got an anti-Bush letter in there once a month, which is the maximum allowed; in fact, he's got so much to say about President Bush that he wrote a 109 page book about it). Here's the letter in its entirety:
Madeleine Albright believes U.S. and U.N. sanctions against Iraq to try to oust Saddam Hussein justified the deaths of 500,000 Iraqi children!
Similar attitudes toward civilian deaths in Iraq exist today; they're obscured behind the term "collateral damage." This is in spite of the fact we have no legal or moral right to be in Iraq killing anyone. Iraq was as blameless on 9/11 as Canada or Mexico!
We've committed an aggressive criminal war, like those we condemned under Hitler. Our enduring bases and embassy in Iraq reveal intentions to control oil and expand our empire. Few of our 295 million citizens approve these actions.
Our crimes include using depleted uranium munitions (DU) with a half-life of 4.4 billion years! When DU ammunition explodes, it creates radioactive gas containing microscopic particles that litter the countryside and alter peoples' DNA. A ton of DU dispersed on the battlefield releases many Hiroshima bombs' worth of radiation. The U.S. has used approximately 4,600 tons since 1991! Over 89 percent of service persons in Iraq in 1991 are on medical disability; they also beget deformed babies.
Our government is contaminating the Earth with radiation from DU munitions. Become informed; help change this behavior.
[Emphasis mine] You can tell that what he has to say is important, because he uses four (!) exclamation points! I've wondered before whether or not the Idaho Statesman has any policy on requiring the use of actual facts in reader's letters, or if you're just allowed to make stuff up, and they'll print it. Apparently it's the latter. The writer is correct that Uranium-238 has a half life of over 4 billion years (actually it's about 4.46 billion years), but he says it as if that's a bad thing. What this means is that the odds of an atom of Uranium-238 that gets in your body actually decaying anytime in the next 50 years is essentially zero (it's something to the minus 7th power, if I did my calculation right). Sure, if you get a speck of it in your lungs a few atoms will probably decay during your lifetime, but the dose you get from that is miniscule compared to what you get from the sun every year. (For those interested, this article about the evils of Depleted Uranium goes into excruciating detail about the U-238 decay chain, without ever mentioning the long U-238 half life.) For those not familiar with how half lives work, if you see a half life of over a million years, you can consider the substance essentially not radioactive for all intents and purposes.

I love his claim that a ton of DU releases many Hiroshima bombs of radiation. I've never seen that one before... it's brilliant! As long as the reader doesn't know anything about science, they'll read that and say, "Oh, Depleted Uranium is really bad". The more saavy readers will, of course, realize that this radiation is released over the next 22+ billion years, and the Earth will be a charred, lifeless body circling a white dwarf star before a lot of the uranium emits even one radioactive particle.

So, both of those statements were actually true, if a little misleading. How about the last highlighted statement, that "89% of service persons in Iraq in 1991 are on medical disability"? This one is flat out wrong. A lot of "progressive" websites (like the one linked above) mention that huge numbers of Gulf War Era veterans are receiving medical disability. What they don't mention is that anyone who's been in the military during the last 15 years is a "Gulf War Era Veteran"; they take the number of people who have been given a disability rating since 1991, and divide that by the number of troops in Iraq in 1991 (697,000, of whom about 609K have left the military, and thus became eligible for disability ratings). Since I personally know that there are people who have received disability ratings since 1991 who weren't in Iraq, the assumption the writer makes is just plain mistaken, and his stated number is equally wrong. (As of 2001, the actual rate of disability determinations for veterans who were in Iraq during 1991 was about 26%, with many of these being for knee injuries.)

I am impressed, though, that he waited until the third paragraph to mention Hitler. Most progressive letter writers don't have that kind of self-discipline.


Blogger Alan said...

Good analysis and takedown of a leftwingnut. No wait; it's wing nut on the right, moon bat on the left.

Anyway, good job.

7/13/2006 11:01 AM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

If you really want to see a moon bat in action re: DU, then google the name Doug Rokke.

Totally over the top and then some.

7/13/2006 1:32 PM

Anonymous Duke of Earl said...

Like so many of the statistics we hear today, they just get repeated by so many for so long that they become fact. Most have no basis in fact, they are just great sound bytes.

7/13/2006 7:19 PM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

"Our government is contaminating the Earth with radiation from DU munitions"

Where did the government get the uranium from in the first place? Outer Space?

7/14/2006 12:05 AM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

History is written by the winners. Since they expect to be the winners, they figure that they'd better get started writing the history. It will be the greatest story ever about how they saved the world.


7/14/2006 7:36 AM

Anonymous paul said...


Regarding long half-life, it matters a lot what the specific activity is of the rad material. I've seen that large DU rounds have approx 200mr/hr alpha to extremities. This would be significant combined with the long half-life (mitigated if not ingested due to alpha radiation type).

In order of severity:
long half-life high activity (concentrated beta-gamma emitters); short half-life high activity (many nuc decay products); long half-life low activity (maybe DU); short half-life low activity (temp inversion)

7/15/2006 5:45 AM

Blogger submandave said...

re VA Disability: You failed to disclose that having had occupational exposure to ionizing radiation you yourself are entitled to a 0% VA Disability rating. That's right, folks, 0%. In fact, a large number of diabilities registered with the VA are at the 0% level and are recorded in the event of possible future problems. And a disability can result from any service-related condition (i.e. anything discovered while on active duty). Personally, when I finally retire I'll be sure to register my Mitral Valve Prolapse just in case I develop valve problems in the future.

7/17/2006 1:31 PM

Anonymous David H. Marshall said...

Vote Congress Veteran Responsible. “THE COURT MAY NOT” HELP YOUR LOVED ONE!
7/28/06 SUMMARY.
1. Documented by the U.S. Senate’s 8 December 1994 Report “Lessons Spanning Half a Century" are many Dept. of Defense (DOD) “DESIGNED TO HARM” human experiments.[3] Verified is the 1953 Secretary of the DOD order disobeyed. In 2006 Still Withheld Are These 53 Years of Experimentation “To Harm” Protection Rights From U.S. Veterans & Military Personnel.[9] They Are Given to Convicted Rapists and Murderers![5]
2. On 26 February 1953 the Secretary of the DOD ordered the disobeyed NO U.S. Military non-consensual, human experiments.[9]
3. The U.S. Supreme Court 25 June 1987 STANLEY is the U.S. Congress is responsible for these experiments.[1] It resulted from a follow-up to 1958 deliberate and deceptive injury trials.
4. A few in the U.S. Congress’s response to the 6/25/87 STANLEY was the 8 December 1988 U.S. Supreme Court revisit avoiding Veterans’ Judicial Review Act (VJRA).[2] This is by the: A. Given to the Executive Branch, Secretary of the Dept. Of Veterans Affairs (DVA) the Judicial Branch’s final authority on questions of law; 511(a)![2]&[6] And B. The Congress’s few restrictions on their controlled lower level Article I & III U.S. Courts. "THE COURT MAY NOT REVIEW THE SCHEDULE OF RATINGS FOR DISABILITIES OR THE POLICIES UNDERLYING THE SCHEDULE"! Its Chief Judge’s “Judicial Review” statement.[7] A no teeth NOT Judicial Branch severely restricted Article I, U.S. Veterans Court. To-date not in this DVA “schedule” are the “policies underlying” exposing evidence. Withheld throughout the “disabilities” process is this key DOD “designed to harm” Causes and their Effects (C&E)! Harmfully prevented is an experiment victim’s medical diagnostic, disability and follow-up treatment. A few in the U.S. Congress have CUT and RUN from those that serve our country! PLEASE VOTE ALL OF YOUR MEMBERS ACCOUNTABLE FOR THESE DELIBERATE “DESIGNED TO HARM" ACTS. In particular, those on the U.S. Senate and House Judicial, Veterans and Armed Services Committees!OUTLINE.
The 1973 National Personnel Records Center fire destroyed most of the past subject’s service documents. Congress’s 1974 Privacy Act censored the names of all witnesses from surviving and future records. The ‘Congress is responsible for’ DOD human experiments U.S. SUPREME COURT 6/25/87 STANLEY decision resulted from a follow-up to 1958 injury trials.[1] Any INDEPENDENT checks and balances review of the Executive Branch (DOD, DVA et al) acts is now prevented by the 12/8/88 VJRA.[2] This is accomplished by a few in the U.S. Congress through the DVA military disabilities and lower level U.S. Courts procedure. Avoided is a revisiting by the Constitutionally independent from Congress U.S. Supreme Court. Which is of the 6/25/87 STANLEY DOD "INCIDENT" [4] as the 12/8/94 Report’s deliberate "DESIGNED TO HARM" [3]! A December 8, 1994 U.S. Senate STANLEY response [3] is: 1. That there be accountability for the DOD now 62 years from 1944 MANY "EXPERIMENTS THAT WERE DESIGNED TO HARM", e.g., 1940's mustard gas & lewisite, 1945-1962 radiation exposure, a not Report recorded 1952-1956 jet engine subjugation. The STANLEY 1958 drug, 1950's-1970's bacteria and viruses injury trials! Then 2. That the injured subjects be allowed a still not realized unrestricted Judicial Branch redress, i.e., NOT be stopped as a from 1950 "INCIDENT TO SERVICE" [4]. Reported is that these subjects are DOD prevented from recognizing that the "TO HARM" is "associated with their military service". As to-date 12/8/88 Veterans’ Judicial Review Act duplicated. Accordingly there is no oversight of the “POLICIES” revealing "TO HARM" Causes & Effects! DVA "SCHEDULE" omitted are: 1. The at-the-time recorded "designed to harm" exposing causes thru multiple injury trials with their who, what, where and when means. 2. The not identified each of the many experiment’s initial "disabilities" that underlie the then DOD developed protection. And 3. The no follow-up during 62 years of lessons learned! The experiment specific evidence is not addressed throughout their greatly 12/8/88 VJRA extended and must be completed "disabilities" process. This is within the 1st level local DVA Regional Office and at the 2nd level Board of Veterans Appeals. Then the Chief Judge’s stated no C&E review at the 3d. level veteran’s U.S. Court. After this court’s Final Decision the 4th level then Judicial Branch first and only Article III U.S. Court accessible is also issues restricted!! There is no repeating of the STANLEY follow-up alert. There will be no duplication of the STANLEY to the U.S. Supreme Court bypassing of the DVA military "disabilities" process. Captured is every DOD “DESIGNED TO HARM" experimental subject. IF a victim does becomes aware a 15 to 20+ years of justice delayed. All within their procedure that NOW in 2006 is not accountable for these acts and the resulting "designed to harm" destroyed, withheld and censored evidence. A justice denied for the greater good end justifies the means! Lost are those before service rights that all other U.S. Citizens including rapists and murderers keep.[5] These reported many deliberate injury experiments are conducted under the secrecy of our nation’s continuing wars. If not a to-date continuation of the for the greater good non-consensual, “to harm” experiments, why the 1988 VJRA response to the 1987 STANLEY and the ignored 1994 U.S. Senate Report? Thereby approved is the use of our children and grandchildren as PAST, PRESENT AND FUTURE in-service guinea pigs.
A very convenient scapegoat for Congress’s few are the DVA and National Veterans Service Organizations. Their hands are political expediently tied. The better part of a 30 year after service and college career has been working with many government agencies. These personnel were very hard working and of the highest integrity. With the help of many an example of how Congress’s few no accountability is implemented is well documented. This is by a without 2nd level end, DVA ongoing 15 of a 49 years negation of a jet-engine 1952-1956 experiment cause. Conducted in direct disobedience of the DOD Secretary’s 1953 order![9] The then known certain injury unprotected sound pressure 87,381X (158dB.) to 699,051X (176dB.) effects "may not" be reviewed![7] Confirming many prior physician’s diagnosis on 9/15/99 a DVA ENT Chief stated that the “SCHEDULE” omitted medically known since 1861 “SYMPTOMS OF MENIERES DISEASE CLEARLY ARE DOCUMENTED IN HIS SERVICE RECORD.”[8] Which are the DVA 5/7/57 requested and stamped 6/3/57 received, 6/26/52 to 6/25/56 original service records. A 10/5/94 DVA Criminal Investigator noted them as misplaced. On 8/1/05 DVA rediscovered 49 years later. A DVA physician’s 6/26/57 initial disability exam & service based determinations were overlooked. This is the local Regional DVA Rating Board’s 7/9/57 diverting award of only one of the “CLEARLY ARE DOCUMENTED” in-the-record symptoms of Menieres disease of its hearing loss. Then this same evidence 4/3/58 sent directly by the DVA physician with its resulting DVA received to-date also overlooked USAF SURGEON HQ AARC, 25 June 1958 "PERMANENTLY” “MEDICALLY DISQUALIFIED FOR MILITARY SERVICE"!! Followed by the very effective misleading 22 January 1959 early “HONORABLE DISCHARGE” with “RECOMMENDED FOR REENLISTMENT - YES”! Still not addressed are the complete in all respects facts of record.
Note that this vote responsible message is censored by some Internet Servers. Please pass it on to others. Thank you.
[1] U.S. SUPREME COURT, JUNE 25, 1987, U.S. V. STANLEY, 107 S. CT. 3054 (483 U.S. SECT. 669). It addresses the ‘congress is responsible’ for the issue of a 1958 DoD non-consensual, human drug trials and other experimentations.
[2] Veterans’ Judicial Review Act, Pub. L. No. 100-687, Div. A, 102 Stat. 4105 (1988) (VJRA)
[3] "Is Military Research Hazardous to Veterans’ Health? Lessons Spanning Half a Century." Hearings Before the U.S. Senate Committee on Veterans’ Affairs, 103rd Congress 2nd Session (December 8, 1994 REPORT 103-97)
[4] Feres v. United States, 340 U.S. 135, 146 (1950).
[6] "United States Code (USC) Title 38, 511. Decisions of the Secretary; finality."
[8] MEDICAL DOCUMENTS. The veteran’s 25 June 1956 retained include 40 sets of USAF 1952-1956 service records with 11 medical exams and the names with the serial numbers of 78 injured personnel. The Boston, MA. DVA Regional Office Physician’s 6/26/57 directly submitted resulting DVA received to-date ignored USAF SURGEON HQ AARC, 25 June 1958 "PERMANENTLY” “MEDICALLY DISQUALIFIED FOR MILITARY SERVICE"! And the 9/15/99 DVA ENT Chief’s stated “SYMPTOMS OF MENIERES DISEASE CLEARLY ARE DOCUMENTED IN HIS SERVICE RECORD.”
[9] George J. Annas and Michael A. Grodin, The Nazi Doctors and the Nuremberg Code; Human Rights in Human Experimentation (New York: Oxford University Press, 1992), DOD Secretary’s Memo pages 343-345.

7/28/2006 11:56 AM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

For an Iraqi perspective on Depleted Uranium, take a look at Alive in Baghdad dot org. There are several videos of children with severe birth defects which may have been caused by exposure to DU. Have a nice day and be glad that you don't live in the mid-east to be on the receiving end of the Bush Administration policies.

7/29/2006 8:41 AM

Anonymous Jay_son_of-Frank_and_Henriette said...

"...which may have been caused by exposure to DU." Okay, Anonymous, those deformities may also have been caused by any of the myriad other environmental contaminants that are found throughout every Third World country. EVERY despotic dictatorship WITHOUT EXCEPTION has shown utter indifference (by our standards) to pollutants that can endanger the health of its people...just as long as that danger wasn't immediately obvious.
Never forget that Occam's Razor principal applies very well here: In an environment with few pollution controls, it's vastly more likely that medical problems will come from the constant exposure to previously long-deposited carcinogens/mutagens rather than from recently deposited contaminants. This is especially likely when those recent contaminants are a very heavy metallic dust that doesn't stay airborne because of its density (about three times the density of steel). Given its long half-life and therefore its low rate of emmision, the amount of DU that would have to be ingested (or somehow worn!?!) would be quite heavy. Finally, if the projectiles are partially disintegrating (as they do to release the DU dust particles) the DU would be spread over a very large area; gathering it in sufficient quantity to be able to irradiate yourself would be quite a chore. Anyone up for an acre of mudpies?
Personally, I wouldn't have any problem with having my family live in an area where there had been a few tanks destroyed by DU long as there weren't other Iraqi "household chemicals" nearby.

12/08/2006 12:05 AM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

It's called "depleted" for a reason.

I've worked with this stuff, seen it melted, cast, machined and turned into those wonderful "silver bullets" (everything from PHALANX up to 120mm APFSDS). Also used in armor plate, medical radioisotope containers and aircraft counterweights.

DU is your friend. But, like they told us, don't eat it.

12/14/2006 5:39 PM


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