La mystérieuse affaire de Yasser Arafat

In recent news, the widow of the poor unfortunate old Arafat authorized the exhumation of his remains for further forensic testing. The rumor that he had been poisoned had never gone away. Arafat died in 2004, or was murdered, depending on which rumors you believe. So far, two forensic teams have completed investigations of this case. Swiss, Russian and French scientific teams gained access to the remains for independent analysis in November 2013.

According to Aljazeera, “Swiss scientists who conducted tests on samples taken from Yasser Arafat’s body have found at least 18 times the normal levels of radioactive polonium in his remains. The scientists said that they were confident up to an 83 percent level that the late Palestinian leader was poisoned with it, which they said “moderately supports” polonium as the cause of his death.”

According to Reuters, “The French report concluded that some of the radioactivity could be explained by the presence of radon gas in the tomb where Arafat was buried. The Swiss experts said on the contrary that the level of radon gas was due to the radioactivity in his body.”

The French team found the radioactive gas radon on the outside of Arafat’s clothing. If, Reuters cited the French finding accurately, the French said they found “some of the radioactivity could be explained by the presence of radon gas,” there is no explanation for the phrase “some of the” unless there were also other sources of radioactivity.

Having the advantage of unlimited access to the results of the autopsy, which was conducted in Paris where Arafat died, the French said that Arafat died of a stroke which was a complication of a severe bacterial infection, which was the original 2004 finding. So, they ruled the cause of death to be illness.

Thorium and uranium decay byproducts include radium, and its decay product radon. Radon has a half-life of 3.8 days. Polonium is a radioactive metal found naturally in uranium and thorium ores.

According to the International Atomic Energy Agency, “Polonium-210 (Po-210) is a radioactive element that occurs naturally and is present … Because Po-210 is produced from the decay of radon-222 gas.”

This directly contradicts the Swiss opinion as reported by Reuters, that “the level of radon gas was due to the radioactivity in his body.” If the Swiss were quoted accurately, that would represent a huge disconnect with physics.

Polonium is produced from the decay of radon, not the other way around, so radon is not “the smoking gun” for polonium poisoning.

On the other hand, if it is true that radon detected on the burial clothing was just the result of naturally occurring concentration, it would be unreasonable to expect French scientists to report an even tinier trace of polonium, a naturally occurring decay product.

So far, there is no news report that either Swiss or French have exchanged results of their independent investigations, why they did or didn’t attach any particular relevance to the radioactivity connection, or detailed reasons for their conclusions. The French report is still preliminary at this writing, because news of it was leaked.

A number of obvious questions seem to remain unanswered. There is no clear consensus whether the radiation source was polonium or radon; they attributed it only to naturally occurring radon where it collects in underground spaces such as tombs. In either case, radioactivity is hazardous to the health, and there is a huge discrepancy between the highly abnormal polonium concentration found by the Swiss, and naturally occurring levels of radon found by the French.

If the Swiss scientists identified polonium by a combination of chemical tests and spectroscopy, a mistaken identification seems extraordinarily improbable. Also, the idea that they could mistakenly measure an 18-times concentration of that metal is quite implausible.

Samples for the independent tests would have been taken at the same point in time. It would be difficult to hypothesize that one set of samples contained polonium and the other did not. It will be interesting to learn what Russian scientists find.

Signs of radiation sickness would, all other things being equal, strike the elderly or infirm first. Arafat was both. The effects of radiation exposure are cumulative, and can affect the immune system in many ways. The effect of even medical radiation dosages on the immune system is already well known in hospitals.

Following this line of logic, it would appear that, if a strong source of radiation was actually present in or on the ailing Arafat, a “bacterial infection” might easily have resulted.

Staph infections, for example, are frequently contracted right in the hospital. This hypothesis would argue strongly in favor of a murder verdict, not against the medical facilities, but on unknown persons who might have caused the hospital death through a hard-to-trace chain of events initiated by poisoning Arafat with a radioactive substance.

Analysis appears further complicated by ambiguous news reporting on such a highly technical scientific subject.

Finally, there’s the unresolved question of who might have murdered Arafat. For the foreseeable future, this is a cold case that will never be solved without new discovery.

The popular theory in the Middle East, outside of Israel, is that the Israeli Mossad was responsible for this. Arafat became an internationally respected leader and a stabilizing force in Palestine, after co-brokering the Camp David Accords with Prime Minister Rabin. Arafat was most heavily criticized by Islamists, PLO leftists and Hamas for being too lenient in negotiations with Israel. This would tend to place Israel lower on a theoretical list of suspects, and PLO dissidents and similar militant factions, relatively higher.

The device of polonium poisoning is also associated with a number of sensational assassinations in Northern Europe, suspected to be the work of Soviet or Russian agents. But since scientific experts cannot even agree on evidence for or against these theories in the mysterious Arafat affair, blame is usually attributed to the political motivations of the accuser. If Arafat died as a result of foul play, there does not yet seem to be compelling evidence for any particular cause or agency.

Alex Forbes, December 4, 2013

Sources for this article

==========================

http://www.iaea.org/Publications/Factsheets/English/polonium210.html

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Polonium

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Radon

http://www.aljazeera.com/investigations/killing-arafat/swiss-study-polonium-found-arafats-bones-201311522578803512.html

http://www.reuters.com/article/2013/12/03/us-palestinians-arafat-idUSBRE9B20DI20131203

4,557 total views, no views today

U.S. Military Role Against Khadafi

The White House take is that the US ‘can act in Libya without Congress‘ because our current role is only supportive of NATO and does not fall under the War Powers Resolution. US involvement against Khadafi has so far consisted of participating in NATO air sorties on government buildings, tanks and ground troops.

But some members of Congress now say the President exceeded his authority because he did not obtain Congressional permission.

Congress last issued a formal declaration of war in World War II. Congress never even declared an authorization for the 1950 Korean War.

Actions since then have been covered under various resolutions and acts, but without formal declaration of war. Congress authorized extended military combat in Vietnam, perhaps not anticipating US involvement from 1961 to 1975. It was at this point Congress passed the War Powers Resolution, generally limiting the President to committing US forces over 60 days without Congressional approval or declared national emergency.

History will surely note that Congress did authorize the Bush-instigated war in Afghanistan in 2001, and the almost concurrent war in Iraq in 2003.

The US action in Libya was arguably our smallest foreign intervention since we helped elbow Aristide out of Haiti in 2004. But let no one say Congressional objections to the Libyan involvement are motivated by partisan politics.

If Congress in its infinite wisdom must carp about our minimal air support of the Libyan rebels’ Arab Spring, then perhaps the complainers should introduce a bill repudiating our cooperation with NATO effort to unseat Khadafi Duck. Authorize the action, produce a formal repudiation, or get off the pot.

332 total views, no views today

2COR4:6

What’s to say about a gunsight model number? Not much, unless it happens to be the code to the Christian Bible passage in chapter 4 verse 6 of Corinthians.

This hit the news yesterday. A small and very devout Michigan firm makes the gunsights, which include some of the finest military rifle scopes in the world.

And that’s the problem. These scopes are doing heavy service in places like Iraq and Afghanistan. They are being furnished to the Iraqi police force. To a culture still resentful of the Christian European Crusades back in the middle ages, the image of returning Crusaders is inescapable.
Continue reading

2,417 total views, no views today

Zionism and De Tar-Baby

“Brer Rabbit keep on axin’ ‘im, en de Tar-Baby, she keep on sayin’ nothin’, twel present’y Brer Rabbit draw back wid his fis’, he did, en blip he tuck ‘er side er de head. Right dar’s whar he broke his merlasses jug. His fis’ stuck, en he can’t pull loose. De tar hilt ‘im. But Tar-Baby, she stay still, en Brer Fox, he lay low.” — from The Wonderful Tar Baby Story

There is a troublesome article in the July 30 New Yorker, The Apostate, by David Remnick. It is about a controversial Cassandra, a social critic and Zionist gadfly named Avraham Burg. Burg, a former Speaker in the Knesset, is author of a book “Defeating Hitler”, the central point of which seems to be that the mindset of the modern Israeli state has not changed much from the siege mentality in the early years of the Jewish State after World War II.
Continue reading

552 total views, no views today

Bush Calls on Middle East to open arms to democracy

Hussein’s fall a ‘watershed’ for the world

WASHINGTON – President Bush on Thursday challenged Iran, Syria and two crucial American allies in the Middle East – Egypt and Saudi Arabia – to begin embracing democratic traditions and to view the fall of Saddam Hussein as “a watershed event in the global democratic revolution”.

Although not personally invited to participate, Libya’s tinpot dictator Moammar Khadafy announced plans to surrender his repressive 27 year stranglehold on this oil-rich North African nation. “But of course!”, he said, “It is amazing to me that we just didn’t think of this before.”

Fundamentalist Islamic leaders worldwide praised Bush’s bold new steps toward peace. The feeling was that, deep in their hearts, they always knew they could count on justice and meaningful reform from their old friend America. Even Osama bin Laden praised Bush’s “courageous vision and inspirational world leadership.”

The reaction was not as uniformly enthusiastic everywhere around the globe. In Tikrit, Iraq, the birthplace of Saddam, a Gallup poll released Thursday showed 99.7 percent of respondents felt Bush was doing a poor job, up from 99.4 percent a week ago.

Alex Forbes
© November 7, 2003

332 total views, no views today

Shock & Awe: Invasion and Protests

No matter what else you thought about it, ground forces are now less than a day from Baghdad. Some question whether Hussein survived the bunker-busters. The Iraqi military gives the appearance of being in disarray. Surrendering Iraqi units surpass American preparations to receive and process Iraqis who just want to go back to civilian life.

For the record, we would have preferred staying with the diplomatic process, or even a more proactive combination of psy-war (propaganda), political activism, and brazen capitalist enticements. For our money, one sniper should have taken Saddam out a decade ago, or perhaps American billions should have finished the job in Desert Sand when a majority of our allies still backed us.
Continue reading

316 total views, no views today

Bickersons at Saddam’s Palace

ANNOUNCER: Don Ameche and Frances Langford as John and Blanche Bickerson in “The Honeymoon is Over.”

F/X: MUSIC UP

ANNOUNCER: The Bickersons are discussing vacation plans in bed. It’s 3 o’clock in the morning and Mrs. Bickerson is still holding out for “Paris in Springtime” . Poor husband George, victim of “raucous insomnia” or “Whimper’s Malady” is holding out for their originally booked Baghdad tour. The argument reaches a climax during an acute attack of his strange ailment, inarticulateness. Listen.

“The Bickersons”, a 1940’s radio show whose name became synonymous with marital discord, was a little before my time. It’s becoming increasingly clear that the War In Iraq is a little before George’s time.
Continue reading

408 total views, no views today

Afghanistan – Deadly Circle of Questions

After the Afganistan and Sudan anti-terrorist missile strikes, the world is aware their were numerous condemnations of the US strikes. Much of this was quite predictable, from expected sources, such as from Islamic clerics or heads of state (in those states where the two offices might actually be discernably different), or from Islamic citizens of those states themselves.

There have been the usual charges and counter-charges focusing on harboring terrorists, violating state sovereignty, harming innocent civilians, and the perception of heavy-handedness on the part of good old anti-Islam, pro-imperialist Uncle Sam.

The face of the “enemy” presented to American media: screaming, hate-twisted faces against a backdrop of burning cars, burnings in effigy, riots and demonstrations. We’ve seen it all before.
Continue reading

399 total views, no views today