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Dumping on Yucca Mountain

Native Americans lose their land as our presidential hero revives old-time nuclear tensions with Moscow

AL Kennedy
Wednesday July 14, 2004
©The Guardian

So glad that our Tony has now slithered himself a plucky and important millimetre away from Bush - "I now feel I can only agree absolutely with 99% of what the lovely president thinks and does". Sturdy chap, our premier. But if he's looking to improve his personal popularity - we can hardly expect him to be acting out of conscience - he still has to deal with the difficulty that if Bush and Blair together are the Laurel and Hardy of demonic foreign policy, Bush and Blair apart are quite evil enough to provoke spontaneous vomiting in small children.

Now, like many British citizens, I'd rather not think about our ghastly leader, but Bush is rather harder to blot out. It's that whole terror thing. I've been waking up screaming since I was five, so I find I am slightly susceptible to terror. Not the $60bn-earmarked-for-next-year, civil-rights-dissolving, Orange Alert type of terror - I mean real terror.

And it's not as if the genuine terror of Bush is hard to notice. Within hours of coming into office, he'd started approving oil exploration in national parks, cutting support for disadvantaged children, raising the levels of arsenic in drinking water... Being an utter bastard with numbing consistency is his only speciality beyond mangling his native language and playing golf like an unhinged Muppet in times of crisis.

But Team Bush could never be happy just tormenting its own (non-millionaire) citizens - the misery must spread. So we in the rest of the world get to be alarmed by the whole sabotaging Kyoto thing, the murdering strangers for fun and profit thing and the screwing the Middle East in hopes of Armageddon thing. But what gets slightly less attention is the reviving the cold war arms race thing.

It seemed momentarily puzzling when the US withdrew from the anti-ballistic missile treaty and started developing cuter, smaller types of "battlefield" nukes when there didn't seem to be a cold war any more. These things were of little or no help against mobile terror cells and the Pentagon had proved itself completely unable to protect even its own troops from the radiation produced by existing DU weapons. But, of course, all this lucrative US nuclear development was bound to alarm the Russians and therefore justify itself retrospectively. Hence, Mr Putin's obliging announcement that his scientists have developed a vigorous response to America's ballistic missile defence. The fact that BMD won't work as advertised is, of course, balanced by the fact that it gets nukes very close to Russia and is supposed to be pre-emptive not defensive. Don't worry if this doesn't make sense - it makes money, which is much more important.

And the new cold war is why US military nuclear facilities (which have been closed down as unsafe by the FBI in the past) are now immune from environmental legislation. Better yet, plans for the Nevada test site now include sexy, actual testing of nuclear weapons. Needless to say this is really pleasing everyone in Las Vegas, which is only 65 miles away, and everyone in Utah - soon to be renamed Downwind, the Malignantly Mutating State. Naturally, attempts to amend the relevant Defence Authorisation Act failed.

But the Bushies' joy doesn't end there, because the Nevada test site isn't even on United States land - it's on territory which belongs to the Western Shoshone nation and is protected by treaty (should you feel that treaties between the US and indigenous peoples are in any way binding). The Yucca Mountain site earmarked for America's nuclear waste depository is also on Western Shoshone land, as is the planned Federal Counterterrorism Facility. And what is probably the world's third largest gold-producing area.

Which is why Karl Rove and George W have both visited Nevada lately and why seizures of Shoshone livestock have already started. Despite formal opposition from 80% of the Shoshone population, Amnesty International and the National Congress of American Indians, Congress has just passed the Western Shoshone distribution bill - which distributes 15 cents on the acre for huge tracts of land in four states, whether the owners intended to sell or not.

So with one bill, the neo-cons can ensure cancer misery on an epidemic scale, mindlessly polluting mineral extraction, increased efficiency in the belligerent surveillance of an entire population, world war three and one in the eye for them pesky redskins. Recent Irish revelations suggest that George is in his jimjams by 5 p.m. and now we know why. His days are full of such knee-trembling thrills that it's a miracle he ever gets up off his back.

Talking of miracles, Bush was recently quizzed about his special relationship with Jesus and carefully assured his questioner that it "doesn't make me a better person than you". His delivery didn't convince. When he can do whatever he wants, whatever the consequences, surely that makes him better than all of us.

· More on the Shoshone defence of their territory can be found at ""

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