Earth (TFC)— The frightening implications of environmental issues often make them difficult to stomach. No one wants to imagine a world void of clean soil, water, or functional ecosystems. Unfortunately, mankind’s stupendous irresponsibility leaves swaths of Earth and water tainted. Now,…
The country has its sights firmly placed on the spectacle occurring over the hack/leak of documents that may or may not have influenced the election. It’s irrelevant. The people of the United States cannot grant the Central Intelligence Agency (or any intelligence agency) the power to cast doubt on the results of elections via unconfirmed, unsourced, and politically biased findings. At the end of the day, the precedent set by allowing a secret agency to veto election results is the death of democracy.
So what did you miss while this was occupying the national narrative? Lots. Troops are deploying to Afghanistan, the Boko Haram is back in the headlines, a new pipeline fight, and much more.
151 countries at the UN General Assembly have sent a clear message that the concerns of affected states and communities over the health risks from depleted uranium must be properly addressed.
The UN General Assembly has backed a new resolution on DU weapons by 151 votes to 4. The resolution, which highlights the ongoing concerns of affected states and communities, health experts and civil society over the potential health risks from DU exposure, is the sixth to be adopted since 2007. The text also recognises that countries affected by the use of DU weapons face considerable technical and financial barriers in dealing with DU contamination to internationally recognised radiation protection standards.
A parliamentary debate in Belgium appears to suggest that the US had not made its coalition partners aware that it had used DU in Syria last year. Responding to questions tabled by MPs Dirk Van der Maelen (Socialists) and Wouter De Vriendt (Greens) last Wednesday, government defence minister Steven Vandeput stated that Belgium had no knowledge of the use of DU ammunition during operation Inherent Resolve.
The question has particular resonance for Belgium because in 2007 it became the first country to ban the use of the weapons, a ban that entered into force in 2009. A fact acknowledged by the minister who described the country’s position as “pioneering”, and one that it would defend in international fora. However he also acknowledged that there is no international ban on the weapons. De Vriendt urged the minister to seek official clarification directly with the US and the minister gave his assurances that he would. He also asked whether the government could guarantee that Belgian F16s would not be used in coalition actions where DU might be used by the US.
The US has finally confirmed that it has fired DU ammunition Syria, after it had earlier stated that the weapons would not be used. US Central Command (CENTCOM) has acknowledged that DU was fired on two dates – the 18 and 23 November 2015. Between the strikes on the two dates, 5,100 rounds of 30mm DU ammunition were used by A-10 Thunderbolt II aircraft. This equates to 1,524kg of DU. CENTCOM said that the ammunition was selected because of the “nature of the targets”.
The news comes as governments are debating a UN General Assembly resolutionon DU weapons in New York. And, although DU use has only been admitted on two dates, ICBUW and PAX are concerned that this disclosure could be the sign that DU has, or will, be used more widely in the conflict.
In March 2015, and following the deployment of A-10s to the conflict, the US hadconfirmed to journalists that the aircraft would not be armed with DU, stating: “U.S. and Coalition aircraft have not been and will not be using depleted uranium munitions in Iraq or Syria during Operation Inherent Resolve.” Justifying the decision, CENTCOM public affairs explained that: “The ammunition is developed to destroy tanks on a conventional battlefield; Daesh does not possess large numbers of tanks.”