Today's Story Line:

War always raises difficult ethical dilemmas. One story, and an item on depleted uranium below, pose this question: What moral responsibility rests with the military to clean up left-over ordnance after the shooting stops?

More US bombs (by weight) were dropped in Laos during the Vietnam War than in Europe during World War II. But 30 percent didn't explode. Today, 28 years later, Laotians are still dealing with the mess

Women in combat raises another set of ethical issues. Does gender equity extend to the right to fight and die on the front lines? In more and more countries, the answer is yes (page 1).

David Clark Scott World editor


A BANG-UP SOUVENIR: Simon Ingram decided a perfect souvenir from the most bombed country on earth was a little bomb of his own. So when de-mining technicians in Laos offered him a cluster-bomb paperweight, he didn't say no. "First, the tennis-ball size steel canister had its (still-live) fuse removed," Simon says. "Then the traces of high explosive inside were burned off. With a spot of polish, and the addition of an authentic yellow plastic tail fin, my souvenir was ready for the trip home."

But Simon hadn't counted on the eagle-eyed security officers at Vientiane airport. Their X-ray machine instantly picked out the little "bombee" (local parlance) tucked into his suitcase, and he was sternly summoned aside. "Argument was fruitless," Simon says. "Bombs - even harmless ones - stay in Laos, I was informed. Having had 2 million tons of the things dropped on the country, you'd have thought they could spare a few. Seemingly not."

Follow-up on a monitor story..

DEPLETED URANIUM: Italian Premier Giuliano Amato has demanded that NATO reveal all aspects of its use of depleted uranium in the Balkans, The Associated Press reported yesterday. His demand followed an outcry in Italy over several cancer-related deaths and illnesses of soldiers who served there.

As reported in the April 29, 1999, issue of the Monitor, NATO has said that US warplanes operating in Kosovo fired armor-piercing rounds containing depleted uranium during the alliance's 78-day bombing campaign there. But NATO denies that depleted uranium is linked to the deaths of military personnel.

Spain announced last week it would examine all 32,000 soldiers who have served in the Balkans since 1992. Portugal, Finland, and Turkey have also announced plans to screen its peacekeepers and check radiation levels.

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