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Today's Story Line

February 5, 2001



Security has always been the cornerstone of Israeli politics. In the wake of the latest Palestinian intifada and the derailed peace talks, Israeli voters appear ready to place their security in the hands of hardliner Ariel Sharon. Prime ministerial elections are tomorrow (page 1).

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David Clark Scott World editor

REPORTERS ON THE JOB..

REPORTING ON EMPTY: Reporter Nicolas Pelham rented a car for today's story about oil in Morocco. He made it most of the 700 kilometers, but the car got more and more sluggish as he approached the oil field. "I was about 40 kilometers from the oil rigs, when we chugged to a stop at a military checkpoint. The car refused to start," says Nick. It seems the last filling station sold Nick a special "blend" of Moroccan low-octane fuel: half gasoline, half water. He spent the night with the bemused military police, and they gave him a ride back the next day.

MORE THAN DEPLETED URANIUM? The possibility that US tank-piercing ammunition used in the Balkans wars contained more than just depleted uranium (DU) has prompted scientists to reexamine their skepticism about health risks to veterans, The Associated Press reports. As the Monitor reported Jan. 18, European nations are concerned that cancer cases reported by European veterans were linked to DU. Scientists assumed the bullets were made of raw uranium ore. But now the Pentagon says ammo used in the 1999 Kosovo conflict was tainted with traces of plutonium, neptunium, and americium - byproducts of nuclear reactors that are much more radioactive than DU. Last week, NATO Secretary-General Lord Robertson said that Balkans peacekeepers have not been shown to suffer health damage from DU ammunition. US officials say the shells contained mere traces of plutonium, not enough to cause harm.

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