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by Mary La Rosa
Sunday, Jun. 05, 2005 at 5:07 AM
May Day versus McCarthy era like "Loyalty Day" opened a UN Conference against Nuclear Weapons that seemed doomed by ambiguities and lack of reportage from its very start… including vagueUS intentions towards peace contrasted by recent trends and “nuclearised” weapons that support pre emptive strikes. Meanwhile, Israel still vague about possessing nuclear weapons adds to its crimes against humanity in the Occupied Territories by dumping its waste on someone else’s homeland.
Slide show of the May Day March
Mary La Rosa
On May Day 2005 in New York City, a stranger approached me with a hand painted postcard of a beautiful flower that carried this message of peace in English and in Japanese,
"Let's leave our children a better world".
The name on the card read "Yoko Nishimura from the Tokyo Prefecture Umeda Han Adachi branch of Shinfujin."
The New Japan Women's Association (NJWA or Shinfujin) was founded in 1962 as part of the larger women's movement in Japan. Since the sixties, their core objectives have been to extend the rights of women and children's well being, including protecting the lives of women and children from the dangers of nuclear war by opposing the resurgence of militarism and nuclear weapons. NJWA reaches out and works very hard in seeking to join hands in lasting peace with other women from all around the world with similar motivations.
Shinfujin women and hundreds of Japanese people: women's groups, political organizations, medical alliances, and individual citizens, including survivors of Hiroshima and Nagasaki filled the street all around me while assembling for the march past the United Nations. Everyone who came and gathered in the streets of New York City did so in order to bring crucial focus on the immediacy and importance of non proliferation of nuclear weapons.
While I stood waiting for other drummers and Code Pink Women for Peace, I was showered with other creative and sincere gestures of peace and friendship. Origami doves seemed to be the theme of the day, large and small and looped into headbands, streamers, pictures, postcards. There were also colorful wind sockets, books and drawings and even a pair of chopsticks wrapped with messages of peace and the theme of a better world for all our children. I was sorry I could not carry all these gifts and drum at the same time. And I worry that even one person felt rejected in their heartfelt generosity to strangers. I was made so hopeful and happy by these gifts from people coming all this way to stand in solidarity with me against nuclear weapons. And since we drummers always bring an extra bucket or two and drumsticks, we gave out buckets and instruction in our simple beat to anyone who wanted to join with us and drum. And the Code Pink women wore pink and brought pink shakers and because of this, those who did not wish to carry a plastic bucket and drum could shake to the beat of our drumming and marching. Imagine the sight of this young man from Tokyo with spiked hair and electric blue kimono marching next to some middle aged Japanese women with pink shakers and more women clad all in pink, along with men all marching and drumming for peace together. We surged into the streets up past the United Nations and into Central Park where we rallied and formed a human peace sign. All different people from all different cultures were represented.
This sight, this vision of common folk surging into the streets of New York City in non violent solidarity against nuclear proliferation was mostly lost in the vagueness of its reportage. Even the news media in the metropolitan area(s) gave very little air time to the thousands who marched, although we marked the day before the beginning of United Nations Non Proliferation Treaty Review and Conference.
The mainstream news media in general makes emphasis and gives continuous ongoing perspective towards violence and war agenda and makes only vague attempts to portray the growing number of people who do NOT support war agendas and who do NOT support nuclear weapons and who faithfully work and demonstrate for peace. If dissenters are portrayed at all, it is usually only as violent radicals acting out against uniformed authority figures .
This particular Peace March had large representation from Veterans for Peace and had the media chosen to show you, there were men and women who made dignified appearance in their old uniforms from previous wars, especially and including Viet Nam. There were grandmothers and grandfathers and children and of course the Shinfujin and Code Pink women. It was the most amazing vision to see us all marching up to the park in this unity for peace.
Mayors from all around the world came to join with American Mayors For Peace. New York City's mayor, David Bloomberg, a Republican was sent numerous petitions asking for his support and participation. But peace remains a partisan issue when it needs to be priority issue. The list of participants Mayors for Peace did not include his name . Instead, one must take hope in the heartland and with the people of Madison Wisconsin who were represented by their mayor, Mayor Dave Cieslewicz and who, as a community make great effort towards peace and understanding.
Even though America traditionally remembers and honors those who have served and still serve in the military on Memorial Day, President Bush on May 1 2002, came up with an idea to rename and change the dynamic of May 1st, by calling it "Loyalty Day" . This was a significant reminder of McCarthyism and the perspective of a President in how threatened he feels about the first of May as a ways and means in which to celebrate expression of free and democratic rights. I consider it one more attempt by the President to suppress and repress American freedoms and the right to express these freedoms.
May Day or Beltane has its earliest traditions in pre Christian roots celebrating earth, rebirth, hope and renewal. Later, it became the political holiday of dissenters and national labor parties with common cause for the common man. It is no wonder a Christian fundamentalist like our President would feel so threatened by its celebration and the expression of dissidence that he felt compelled to attempt to change the dynamic of the holiday to suit his agenda.
One month later and the Conference has collapsed into the "ambiguities" that serve the greater cause of bellicose governments set in leadership with agendas of war and not peace. The debates about North Korea brought no agreement about escalation and underground testing. Iran's ambition to become a nuclear power brought no agreement as well. And The United States, objected to clauses in the agreement text concerning "weapons states' disarmament obligations".
This was small wonder since William Arkin of the Washington Post first wrote about the "global strike plan with nuclear options" that was set in place by Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld last summer and which authorizes a plan to strike out against any hostile nations developing weapons of mass destruction. Creating options to strike out at the rest of the world, perhaps while under the influence of false intelligence about weapons of mass destruction seems to be a dangerous priority for the Bush administration.
Technology and ambiguous "nuclearized" weapons of mass destruction seem to slide under Rumsfeld's pre emptive strike plan and characterizes an administration that did nothing but suppress any counter intelligence that could have kept us from rushing into the war with Iraq and its ongoing occupation that daily takes its toll on Iraqi civilians and American forces. Tom Engelhardt of the Nation Institute writes about such a "space" weapon not quite nuclearized called, Hypervelocity Rod Bundles ("Rods from God") that aims "to hurl cylinders of tungsten, titanium or uranium from the edge of space to destroy targets on the ground, striking at speeds of about 7,200 miles an hour with the force of a small nuclear weapon."
This makes rather vague any credibility about United States stance on searching for peaceful solutions in conflict, anti proliferation and arms control. However, in spite of the failure of the Conference, on May 25 the foreign ministers of Britain, France and Germany did what United States diplomacy could not do and persuaded Iran to continue its temporary freeze on its nuclear ambitions.
Meanwhile, as North Korea's ambiguous capacity for nuclear holocaust and Iran's desires to quickly reach such a goal, remain in the spotlight as villainous rogue nations who would press the world into flames .....another country and our greatest ally in the Middle East, Israel remains covertly and ambiguously in possession of many nuclear weapons. Much of the news media does not focus on either Israel's nuclear ambiguity or any of the ongoing reports of spying and false information received and passed back and forth, between the United States government and the "special interest" group, AIPAC which led to the firing of two senior AIPAC members and the arrest of former defense intelligence agency officer Larry Franklin. with emphasis and detail pertaining to Iran. It is still ambiguous how much vital information was passed back and forth between the Pentagon and this supposedly non governmental Israeli Lobby group. One can only speculate about the difference in a scenario of a Pentagon analyst meeting and passing secrets to a Muslim special interest group.
Israel's policy of ambiguity about its nuclear weapons, without doubt, gives greatest pause and halts any forward moves towards peace in the Middle East. As long as Israel does not feel the moral obligation to come forward and join in at least in discussion of the concept of non proliferation with its neighbors and the rest of the world, there is little to motivate other neighboring countries who feel so threatened by nuclear weapons that they wish to possess their own.
After years of denial, Israeli citizens are finally considering the dangers involved in such dubious old reactors as Dimona and the pressing necessity to shut it down before it melts down. However, there is still no such clear and outstanding leadership capable of accepting the challenge to bring Israel this one step forward as a democratic nation making example of its desire to seriously talk about non proliferation and peace in the Middle East.
Not only the environmental and health concerns of Israelis are at stake but it appears that Israel has offensively and without conscience been making use of the land it occupies in order to dump tons of nuclear waste. The World Health Organization (WHO) recently condemned Israel for its ongoing dumping of nuclear waste in the Occupied Territories. Israel was defined as an occupying power and the Palestinian Minister of Health, Dr. Thohni Al Wuheidi accused Israeli authorities of recently burying nuclear waste and polluting valuable water resources in Nablus, Hebron and Gaza . Electronic Intifada did an in depth report by Issa Samandar in which he sites specific levels of harmful and lethal levels of radioactivity. He also cites the devastating effects of such lethal dumping, dumping that continues to go on at risk to present and future generations but also as one more further outrage for the Palestinian people to endure
The uranium level in El-Khalil valley reaches 237 becquerel (bcq) per kilogram3, which equals about 10 times the permitted concentration, which is 25 bcq. The Thorium 232 (Th) level reaches 152 bcq where the permitted concentration level is also 25 bcq. The readings on Cesium 137 (Cs), another radio-active isotope that only emerges from nuclear explosions or nuclear activities is equivalently high.
The permitted concentration is zero, but in 5 villages South of El-Khalil, its concentration ranges from 12.4 bcq up to 30.2 bcq. The list of radio-active isotope readings is from the same range causing serious damages to the health of the villagers in the area.
From El Dahriyè village, already 452 cases have been reported having contagious and lethal bacteria. Seventy from these 452 cases have cancer.4 Regarding the cancer cases alone, in the same time frame, there has been an increase of 10% in cancer cases.
Additionally, for the past four months there has been a 300% increase of birth defects. Infertility rates, spontaneous abortions, hair loss without indication are becoming commonly prevalent. The list of reported illnesses continues, but up till now have not been reported as it should be.
Michael Shappira5, an Israeli physician confirmed that the information concerning the alarming and abnormal increase in the prevalence of leukaemia in Yatta, a village in the area is correct. The physician did not exclude that this phenomenon is related to the Israeli nuclear hazardous chemical waste that is being dumped in that area.
The same physician said that the prevalence of leukaemia in the area means probably that there is dangerous pollution in the water resources. The State of Israel is putting a lot of pressure on its resources to keep these issues secret. for the sake of the security of the state of Israel. This is however not a state issue, but clearly a global issue.
While Israel hesitates in its obligation towards its own citizens re: nuclear weapons and reactors it is enacting a further violence, even war crime against the present and future generations of Palestinians who live in the areas where "ambiguous" nuclear waste has been continually dumped and/or buried. And although Israeli newspapers carried this story it was not seen on the pages of United States mainstream news media or given emphasis on the television networks. Once again the American public must look outside its "free" press for accurate reportage.
Still more odd though ambiguous, the United States and Israel both have had available solutions to nuclear waste problems for the last couple of years. A fairly new (2002) Israeli Company called Environmental Energy Resources has developed a method by which to change nuclear waste into a variety of useful by products such as electricity. While there is a contract to clean up Chernobyl, there is no hurry to take responsibility for conditions in Hebron or Nablus. Since I last wrote about this company in Nuclear Solutions Lost In Ambiguity in 2004, it is interesting to note that although many of the original investors were South Korean and Japanese, ambiguous foreign investors from Russia are reportedly interested in a 0 million dollar deal to buy out this company.
And on the home front, in the United States, the late Dr Paul Brown's company, Nuclear Solutions not only had an edge on a remediation process but also before the war in Iraq had portable means by which to detect nuclear weapons. Unfortunately, the company, while still owned by the late Dr. Brown, was targeted by more than one ambiguous scandal including Los Alamos Labs and the use of FBI computers in order to blackmail and discredit Dr Brown and down sell his company's stock. Before his untimely demise, Dr Brown lent all of his scientific genius towards positive solutions for nuclear waste material. Since Dr Brown's death via car accident, the company has rallied under the tutelege of a former naval commander with a 21 year old career with Bechtel and expertise in nuclear engineering. There will be alot of money to be made in nuclear weapons detection. Unfortunately, there is little time left for ambiguities about peaceful political and environmental solutions .
On May 1 2003 President Bush made his historic speech aboard the USS Abraham Lincoln.
O it reads well enough for some history books, probably in the same kind of volume that still perpetuates the glory of Custer's Last Stand or denies evolution theories. However there is still this daunting rising statistic of American lives and Iraqi civilian lives that continue to be lost in one of the most ambiguous of liberations for which "democratic principles" can make no further excuse except by ineptitude of this country's ambiguous leadership priorities that hurl us closer and closer towards nuclear doom and disaster.
Mary La Rosa is an artist and librarian who beats a drum for peace and who, like the Shinfujin women, wishes to "leave our children a better world".
With sincere appreciation and thanks to Fred Askew, for allowing to use his superb slide show of the May Day March:
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