Letters to the editor

Issue 

Middle East Rebellions and Royal Weddings

While I think the world certainly needs good news stories, I am astounded at the focus of media attention on the wedding of one couple in England when there are truly amazing and historic scenes happening in our world that are real good news stories.

From Libya and Tunisia in North Africa to Syria, Yemen and Bahrain in the Middle East earth shattering events are taking place, that are not only powerfully transforming the region politically, but also are having a profound social and cultural impact there and elsewhere.

Not since the upheavals of the 1960s and ’70s have so many committed youth been actively involved in seeking to fundamentally change their society. What a wonderful thing it is to watch these rebellions occurring.

To see these brave people each day coming out into the streets to protest knowing they run a very real risk being arrested, shot, beaten or killed is a truly humbling and moving thing to witness.

Despite so much suffering, injuries and death these brave and tenacious people are still defying these hated regimes. The peoples of the region are a testament to the indomitable human spirit’s yearning for liberty, dignity and justice.

It is heartbreaking and appalling that the peaceful protests have met with such brutal responses of the powerful ruling elites.

But also deeply touching and empowering is that the people have not been cowed by this and that the successful overthrow of the dictatorships in Tunisia and Egypt have inspired other uprisings in Syria, Bahrain, Libya and Yemen and simmering unrest in many other similarly repressive countries.

The uprisings shaking the region have come at a terrible cost in human lives and injuries. But their courageous actions have shaken the region and beyond and altered the world in a momentous and profound way.

It is very uplifting to view a new generation of rebels emerge to defy and transform the political, military and social order that has been imposed on the region for so long.

The youth are sowing the seeds for remarkable changes in the world that are the shape of things to come.

The only way to effect meaningful change in the world is through this active participation of ordinary people who have had enough of the various corrupt and repressive, military, political and royal leaders and care enough to really want things to change for the better.

Considering the dire problems the world faces politically, socially, economically and environmentally, it is an inspirational to see these ordinary people take action to achieve genuine change. These rebellions have proven that despite our many troubles, it is possible for us to alter things and make the world a better place. There is in the potent ideals of people power a real hope for renewing humanity.

Steven Katsineris,
Hurstbridge. Vic.




Chernobyl

I was very pleased to see the inclusion of an article on the very timely and important issue of the Chernobyl disaster. I did wonder however why the author seemed to pair Monbiot and Caldicott as opposing ends of the extremist viewpoint.

As A GP Caldicott has campaigned for decades attempting to educate the public regarding the medical dangers of radioactive substances and nuclear technology. There is no doubt she is an expert in the field.

That is not to assume that she can always be right. The author dismisses Caldicott's estimate of 985,000 deaths resulting from Chernobyl as being derived from a study that “uses a loose methodology to arrive at an unlikely conclusion”.

I think it is important to respect one's allies, especially competent ones, and I would have liked to have seen a lengthy explanation, or preferably a response from Caldicott herself, to this criticism.

The article explains that the "Linear No Threshold" model of predicting cancer rates expects that the risk is proportional to the dose. While this must be basically true this idea is complicated by the difference between radiation from an external source and ingested particle radiation.

Only one particle of plutonium will almost certainly cause cancer at the site of lodgement in human tissue. So one particle or two won't be relevant. It is unclear how many particles of Iodine 131 or Cesium 137 or Strontium 90 are required for the same effect. I suspect these isotopes may behave similarly?

With isotope half lives varying from 5 days to 250,000 years or more the cycle of contamination through the food chain, air and water means that all estimates will increase with time for a very long time.

We are currently witnessing the release of tonnes of radioactive material, including uranium and plutonium, from Fukushima into the air and sea.

The jetstream and Pacific currents are depositing isotopes over the entire Northern Hemisphere, with Japan, the USA, Korea, and Canada probably the worst affected.

With the exception of France, governments are not instructing their citizens not to drink milk, which now contains varying degrees of radioactive iodine contamination, or to stay out of the rain and snow.

Children in particular are extremely susceptible to thyroid cancer caused by radioactive iodine. A cocktail of carcinogous contaminants is falling with precipitation into drinking water and onto fruits and vegetables. The greatest risk away from Japan is particle ingestion.

Hawaii's milk supply was recently reported to contain more than 600 times the permissible limit of cesium 137 and iodine131and 800 times the "limit" of cesium 134. As there is no safe dose the notion of limits for manmade radioactive particles is a nonsense in any case.

I believe we are witnessing a cover-up on a grand scale in which the interests of the Nuclear Industry and the financial markets are depriving the people of Japan and the rest of the world of the truth about the scale of this catastrophe.

The Australian media barely mentions the issue, only parroting the official Japanese line when it does. In due course radioactive fallout will reach our shores, though presumably lesser than our unfortunate northern neighbours.

Morna McIlraith
Bundeena, NSW

Comments

United States intervention in Libya will result in further bloodshed and would be a blatantly imperialist, corporatist, profit driven and thoroughly hypocritical exercise. It is reasonable to predict that an invasion of Libya would be a repeat of the blood-baths in Iraq and Afghanistan. Over one million Arabs have been murdered in these illegal wars. Obama’s bombing in Libya has begun. If recent history is considered, one can predict the aftermath of US intervention in Libya.

Upheaval in Libya provides a lucrative opportunity for the US to launch yet another corporate crusade, under the mendacious pretences of humanitarianism. Billions of tax dollars will be funnelled to corporations, as they were in Bush’s outsourcing frenzy in Iraq. Lockheed, Halliburton, Bechtel and BP which has 15 billion pounds of investments in Libya, all stand to profit from US intervention. If the US manages to seize control of Libya, any government they install will represent corporate interests rather than those of Libya.

Flagrant hypocrisy lies in the US stance on the other Middle Eastern revolutions. Gaddafi’s brutal regime should be overthrown. However, the Arab people are capable of this themselves, as they were in Egypt and Tunisia. The US did not intervene when their puppet dictator in Egypt was massacring his own people. As the Yemen and Bahrain dictators are shooting innocents, the US does not intervene. The reason is oil. Libya has it. Yemen and Bahrain do not. The modus operendi behind intervention in Libya is rapacity not humanity. US involvement in Libya is an imperialist project, purely for profit and not people.

United States intervention in Libya will result in further bloodshed and would be a blatantly imperialist, corporatist, profit driven and thoroughly hypocritical exercise. It is reasonable to predict that an invasion of Libya would be a repeat of the blood-baths in Iraq and Afghanistan. Over one million Arabs have been murdered in these illegal wars. Obama’s bombing in Libya has begun. If recent history is considered, one can predict the aftermath of US intervention in Libya.

Upheaval in Libya provides a lucrative opportunity for the US to launch yet another corporate crusade, under the mendacious pretences of humanitarianism. Billions of tax dollars will be funnelled to corporations, as they were in Bush’s outsourcing frenzy in Iraq. Lockheed, Halliburton, Bechtel and BP which has 15 billion pounds of investments in Libya, all stand to profit from US intervention. If the US manages to seize control of Libya, any government they install will represent corporate interests rather than those of Libya.

Flagrant hypocrisy lies in the US stance on the other Middle Eastern revolutions. Gaddafi’s brutal regime should be overthrown. However, the Arab people are capable of this themselves, as they were in Egypt and Tunisia. The US did not intervene when their puppet dictator in Egypt was massacring his own people. As the Yemen and Bahrain dictators are shooting innocents, the US does not intervene. The reason is oil. Libya has it. Yemen and Bahrain do not. The modus operendi behind intervention in Libya is rapacity not humanity. US involvement in Libya is an imperialist project, purely for profit and not people.

Raúl Madden
Brisbane, QLD

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