DEPLETED URANIUM TOLL IN IRAQ

John S. Friedman writes: A group of soldiers who served in Iraq plan to file a lawsuit within a month in Federal District Court against the Army for violating its regulations by not offering safeguards against exposure to depleted uranium, used in tank armor and artillery, and for not providing adequate medical treatment. Although DU has been linked to Gulf War syndrome, and scientists are concerned about civilian exposure to it during the 1999 war in Kosovo, the Pentagon continues to deny that DU inhalation has harmful health effects. After being misdiagnosed by the Army, the nine soldier plaintiffs, from New York National Guard units, who suffer from a variety of health problems, were tested by a private laboratory, which in most cases found DU traces in their bodies. A child of Gerard Matthew, conceived after the father returned from Iraq, was born with a deformed hand and missing fingers. Matthew, a member of a transport unit from Harlem, blames his exposure to DU-laden dust. Asked about the soldiers’ symptoms, an Army spokesperson said, “These concerns are not likely attributed to exposure to depleted uranium.” The Army’s environmental tests of selected sites did not detect any DU. Dr. Asaf Durakovic, who supervised the soldiers’ private DU testing and sent his own team to measure sites in Iraq, called those results “hogwash.” In June Louisiana became the first state to require that vets be tested for DU.

LOCAL OPTION

John Nichols writes: One reason the House recently voted 238 to 187 to block the Justice Department and the FBI from using the Patriot Act as an excuse to review library records and bookstore sales slips was the fact that so many members of Congress represent districts where local anti-Patriot Act resolutions have been enacted. The night before the vote, Norwalk, Connecticut, became the 381st community nationwide to publicly oppose the Bush Administration’s efforts to pry into citizens’ personal business. The success of the anti-Patriot Act resolution campaign is creating enthusiasm about the prospect of communities pressuring Congress to do the right thing. Cities for Progress, the national network that grew out of the antiwar Cities for Peace movement, has developed a new website, www.citiesforprogress.org, with a US map that links activists and officials. And despite lobbying from the White House, the often-cautious Conference of Mayors passed a muscular resolution endorsing the Kyoto Protocols and urging cities to take the lead in reducing greenhouse gases. The resolution was pushed by Seattle Mayor Greg Nickels. Dan Savage, editor of that city’s weekly newspaper The Stranger reminds us that the term “urban archipelago,” the popular catch phrase for progressive cities referred to in The Nation‘s June 20 issue on local political action, originated with a manifesto his paper published this past November. With Mayor Nickels’s success at getting the Conference of Mayors to move on Kyoto, it looks like not just the phrase but the reality of the urban archipelago begins in Seattle.

THE ART OF PROTEST

Those who missed the recent show of political posters at New York’s School of Visual Arts can peruse the exhibit’s striking, sometimes shocking images in a new book, The Design of Dissent (Rockport Publishers), edited by Milton Glaser and Mirko Ilic, creators of the show. It’s packed with colorful reproductions of posters, magazine, covers, bumper stickers, buttons and other media by politically engaged artists.