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Why We Should Fear the Worst from Fukushima

By Harvey Wasserman | CounterPunch | February 3, 2014

Fukushima’s missing melted cores and radioactive gushers continue to fester in secret.

Japan’s harsh dictatorial censorship has been matched by a global corporate media blackout aimed—successfully—at keeping Fukushima out of the public eye.

But that doesn’t keep the actual radiation out of our ecosystem, our markets … or our bodies.

Speculation on the ultimate impact ranges from the utterly harmless to the intensely apocalyptic.

But the basic reality is simple: for seven decades, government Bomb factories and privately-owned reactors have spewed massive quantities of unmonitored radiation into the biosphere.

The impacts of these emissions on human and ecological health are unknown primarily because the nuclear industry has resolutely refused to study them.

Indeed, the official presumption has always been that showing proof of damage from nuclear Bomb tests and commercial reactors falls to the victims, not the perpetrators.

And that in any case, the industry will be held virtually harmless.

This “see no evil, pay no damages” mindset dates from the Bombing of Hiroshima to Fukushima to the disaster coming next … which could be happening as you read this.

Here are 50 preliminary reasons why this radioactive legacy demands we prepare for the worst for our oceans, our planet, our economy … ourselves.

1. At Hiroshima and Nagasaki (1945), the U.S. military initially denied that there was any radioactive fallout, or that it could do any damage. Despite an absence of meaningful data, the victims (including a group of U.S. prisoners of war) and their supporters were officially “discredited” and scorned.

2. Likewise, when Nobel-winners Linus Pauling and Andre Sakharov correctly warned of a massive global death toll from atmospheric Bomb testing, they were dismissed with official contempt … until they won in the court of public opinion.

3. During and after the Bomb Tests (1946-63), downwinders in the South Pacific and American west, along with thousands of U.S. “atomic vets,” were told their radiation-induced health problems were imaginary … until they proved utterly irrefutable.

4. When British Dr. Alice Stewart proved (1956) that even tiny x-ray doses to pregnant mothers could double childhood leukemia rates, she was assaulted with 30 years of heavily funded abuse from the nuclear and medical establishments.

5. But Stewart’s findings proved tragically accurate, and helped set in stone the medical health physics consensus that there is no “safe dose” of radiation … and that pregnant women should not be x-rayed, or exposed to equivalent radiation.

6. More than 400 commercial power reactors have been injected into our ecosphere with no meaningful data to measure their potential health and environmental impacts, and no systematic global data base has been established or maintained.

7. “Acceptable dose” standards for commercial reactors were conjured from faulty A-Bomb studies begun five years after Hiroshima, and at Fukushima and elsewhere have been continually made more lax to save the industry money.

8. Bomb/reactor fallout delivers alpha and beta particle emitters that enter the body and do long-term damage, but which industry backers often wrongly equate with less lethal external gamma/x-ray doses from flying in airplanes or living in Denver.

9. By refusing to compile long-term emission assessments, the industry systematically hides health impacts at Three Mile Island (TMI), Chernobyl, Fukushima, etc., forcing victims to rely on isolated independent studies which it automatically deems “discredited.”

10. Human health damage has been amply suffered in radium watch dial painting, Bomb production, uranium mining/milling/enrichment, waste management and other radioactive work, despite decades of relentless industry denial.

11. When Dr. Ernest Sternglass, who had worked with Albert Einstein, warned that reactor emissions were harming people, thousands of copies of his Low-Level Radiation (1971)mysteriously disappeared from their primary warehouse.

12. When the Atomic Energy Commission’s (AEC) Chief Medical Officer, Dr. John Gofman, urged that reactor dose levels be lowered by 90 percent, he was forced out of the AEC and publicly attacked, despite his status a founder of the industry.

13. A member of the Manhattan Project, and a medical doctor responsible for pioneer research into LDL cholesterol, Gofman later called the reactor industry an instrument of “premeditated mass murder.”

14. Stack monitors and other monitoring devices failed at Three Mile Island (1979) making it impossible to know how much radiation escaped, where it went or who it impacted and how.

15. But some 2,400 TMI downwind victims and their families were denied a class action jury trial by a federal judge who said “not enough radiation” was released to harm them, though she could not say how much that was or where it went.

16. During TMI’s meltdown, industry advertising equated the fallout with a single chest x-ray to everyone downwind, ignoring the fact that such doses could double leukemia rates among children born to involuntarily irradiated mothers.

17. Widespread death and damage downwind from TMI have been confirmed by Dr. Stephen Wing, Jane Lee and Mary Osbourne, Sister Rosalie Bertell, Dr. Sternglass, Jay Gould, Joe Mangano and others, along with hundreds of anecdotal reports.

18. Radioactive harm to farm and wild animals downwind from TMI has been confirmed by the Baltimore News-American and Pennsylvania Department of Agriculture.

19. TMI’s owner quietly paid out at least $15 million in damages in exchange for gag orders from the affected families, including at least one case involving a child born with Down’s Syndrome.

20. Chernobyl’s explosion became public knowledge only when massive emissions came down on a Swedish reactor hundreds of miles away, meaning that—as at TMI and Fukushima—no one knows precisely how much escaped or where it went.

21.  Fukushima’s on-going fallout is already far in excess of that from Chernobyl, which was far in excess of that from Three Mile Island.

22.  Soon after Chernobyl blew up (1986), Dr. Gofman predicted its fallout would kill at least 400,000 people worldwide.

23. Three Russian scientists who compiled more than 5,000 studies concluded in 2005 that Chernobyl had already killed nearly a million people worldwide.

24.  Children born in downwind Ukraine and Belarus still suffer a massive toll of mutation and illness, as confirmed by a wide range of governmental, scientific and humanitarian organizations.

25. Key low-ball Chernobyl death estimates come from the World Health Organization, whose numbers are overseen by International Atomic Energy Agency, a United Nations organization chartered to promote the nuclear industry.

26. After 28 years, the reactor industry has still not succeeded in installing a final sarcophagus over the exploded Chernobyl Unit 4, though billions of dollars have been invested.

27. When Fukushima Units 1-4 began to explode, President Obama assured us all the fallout would not come here, and would harm no one, despite having no evidence for either assertion.

28. Since President Obama did that, the U.S. has established no integrated system to monitor Fukushima’s fallout, nor an epidemiological data base to track its health impacts … but it did stop checking radiation levels in Pacific seafood.

29. Early reports of thyroid abnormalities among children downwind from Fukushima, and in North America are denied by industry backers who again say “not enough radiation” was emitted though they don’t know how much that might be.

30. Devastating health impacts reported by sailors stationed aboard the USS Ronald Reagan near Fukushima are being denied by the industry and Navy, who say radiation doses were too small to do harm, but have no idea what they were.

31. While in a snowstorm offshore as Fukushima melted, sailors reported a warm cloud passing over the Reagan that brought a “metallic taste” like that described by TMI downwinders and the airmen who dropped the Bomb on Hiroshima.

32. Though it denies the sailors on the Reagan were exposed to enough Fukushima radiation to harm them, Japan (like South Korea and Guam) denied the ship port access because it was too radioactive (it’s now docked in San Diego).

33. The Reagan sailors are barred from suing the Navy, but have filed a class action against Tokyo Electric Power (Tepco), which has joined the owners at TMI, the Bomb factories, uranium mines, etc., in denying all responsibility.

34. A U.S. military “lessons learned” report from Fukushima’s Operation Tomodachi clean-up campaign notes that “decontamination of aircraft and personnel without alarming the general population created new challenges.”

35. The report questioned the clean-up because “a true decontamination operations standard for ‘clearance’ was not set,” thereby risking “the potential spread of radiological contamination to military personnel and the local populace.”

36. Nonetheless, it reported that during the clean-up, “the use of duct tape and baby wipes was effective in the removal of radioactive particles.”

37. In league with organized crime, Tepco is pursuing its own clean-up activities by recruiting impoverished homeless and elderly citizens for “hot” on-site labor, with the quality of their work and the nature of their exposures now a state secret.

38. At least 300 tons of radioactive water continue to pour into the ocean at Fukushima every day, according to official estimates made prior to such data having been made a state secret.

39. To the extent they can be known, the quantities and make-up of radiation pouring out of Fukushima are also now a state secret, with independent measurement or public speculation punishable by up to ten years in prison.

40. Likewise, “There is no systematic testing in the U.S. of air, food and water for radiation,” according to University of California (Berkeley) nuclear engineering Professor Eric Norman.

41. Many radioactive isotopes tend to concentrate as they pour into the air and water, so deadly clumps of Fukushima’s radiation may migrate throughout the oceans for centuries to come before diffusing, which even then may not render it harmless.

42. Radiation’s real world impact becomes even harder to measure in an increasingly polluted biosphere, where interaction with existing toxins creates a synergy likely to exponentially accelerate the damage being done to all living things.

43. Reported devastation among starfish, sardines, salmon, sea lions, orcas and other ocean animals cannot be definitively denied without a credible data base of previous experimentation and monitoring, which does not exist and is not being established.

44. The fact that “tiny” doses of x-ray can harm human embryos portends that any unnatural introduction of lethal radioactive isotopes into the biosphere, however “diffuse,” can affect our intertwined global ecology in ways we don’t now understand.

45. The impact of allegedly “minuscule” doses spreading from Fukushima will, over time, affect the minuscule eggs of creatures ranging from sardines to starfish to sea lions, with their lethal impact enhanced by the other pollutants already in the sea.

46. Dose comparisons to bananas and other natural sources are absurd and misleading as the myriad isotopes from reactor fallout will impose very different biological impacts for centuries to come in a wide range of ecological settings.

47. No current dismissal of general human and ecological impacts—”apocalyptic” or otherwise—can account over time for the very long half-lives of radioactive isotopes Fukushima is now pouring into the biosphere.

48. As Fukushima’s impacts spread through the centuries, the one certainty is that no matter what evidence materializes, the nuclear industry will never admit to doing any damage, and will never be forced to pay for it (see upcoming sequel).

49. Hyman Rickover, father of the nuclear navy, warned that it is a form of suicide to raise radiation levels within Earth’s vital envelope, and that if he could, he would “sink” all the reactors he helped develop.

50. “Now when we go back to using nuclear power,” he said in 1982, “I think the human race is going to wreck itself, and it is important that we get control of this horrible force and try to eliminate it.”

As Fukushima deteriorates behind an iron curtain of secrecy and deceit, we desperately need to know what it’s doing to us and our planet.

It’s tempting to say the truth lies somewhere between the industry’s lies and the rising fear of a tangible apocalypse.

In fact, the answers lie beyond.

Defined by seven decades of deceit, denial and a see-no-evil dearth of meaningful scientific study, the glib corporate assurances that this latest reactor disaster won’t hurt us fade to absurdity.

Fukushima pours massive, unmeasured quantities of lethal radiation into our fragile ecosphere every day, and will do so for decades to come.

Five power reactors have now exploded on this planet and there are more than 400 others still operating.

What threatens us most is the inevitable next disaster … along with the one after that … and then the one after that …

Pre-wrapped in denial, protected by corporate privilege, they are the ultimate engines of global terror.

February 3, 2014 Posted by | Deception, Environmentalism, Nuclear Power, Timeless or most popular | , , , , , | 1 Comment

Why Are These “Farmers” Still In Business?

By Martha Rosenburg | CounterPunch | February 3, 2014

It was a four-alarm fire requiring more than 50 fire departments and 100 firefighters. But owners of S&R Egg Farm in La Grange, Wisconsin say chemicals and explosives were not involved in the late January fire. Unless, of course, you count the ammonia buildup from 300,000 hens caged over their own manure in the barn that burned down. All the birds burned alive.

Whether you care about animals, the environment or the tax dollars used in extinguishing the blaze for which water had to be trucked in, charges should be brought against the owners of S&R Egg Farm. News outlets describe the operation as a “third-generation, family-owned business founded in 1958, producing up to 2 million eggs a year,” but no “family farm” produces 2 million eggs a year. Battery egg operations with millions of hens are a blight on farm workers, animals, the environment and the face of US agriculture. Grocery stores, distribution centers, egg wholesalers and food consumers should refuse to buy any products linked to S&R Egg Farm.

Fires occur with chilling regularity at factory farms for the same reason they occur in textile shops and in prison–the victims are the least powerful in society and few care. Four years ago 250,000 hens were incinerated at Ohio Fresh Eggs in Harpster, Ohio in a similar and predictable event. It took 225 firefighters and one million gallons of water, some from the Killdeer Plains Wildlife Area reservoir, to extinguish the blaze. Thank you taxpayers. The egg operation had one employee per 250,000 hens. Factory farming brings jobs.

The Ohio Department of Agriculture said it was sending the bodies of the burned hens to the pet and animal feed processor G.A. Wintzer & Son Co. in Wapakoneta. Ohio Fresh Eggs said its “Easter egg donation project”  would go forward as planned.

Ohio Fresh Eggs, linked to the infamous Teflon chicken don Jack DeCoster, boasts a three decade list of worker and environmental violations. In February of 1987, a fire at its Turner, Maine operation killed 100,000 birds and DeCoster was only charged with polluting groundwater with their carcasses. Former Labor Secretary Robert Reich called the Turner operation a “sweatshop” and Cesar Britos, an attorney representing egg workers, said he thought he would faint in the egg barns though he “was only there a few minutes.”

Thirteen years after Reich and Britos visited, four law enforcement officials involved in a raid at the same operation had to be treated by doctors for lungs burned by the ammonia concentrations in the barns. Six months ago, an employee at the same operation was shot and killed by another employee who was ”shooting rodents and stray chickens while clearing a barn.” Nice.

Nor are the factory farm fires limited to egg operations. 8,700 pigs perished in a 2008 fire at a Netley Hutterite Colony hog farm in Manitoba which had only six full-time employees. Bulldozers could not breach the manure pits, said news reports, making the fire more deadly. Hogs perished in the same barn in Flora, Indiana, owned by Lynn Peters, twice, according to news reports and hog farmers Jan and Nancy Pannekoek of Chilliwack, BC, have three hog farm fires to their name–and counting. Why are charges not brought? Why are these “farmers” allowed to repeat this abuse?

Fires don’t just “happen” as fire science and alarms, sprinkler systems and contingency plans have shown for decades. But Big Ag and local and state regulators believe a few thousand animals burned to death is just the cost of producing a cheap product. And when food consumers embrace these “cheap” products without questioning their origin and production they are guilty, too.

February 3, 2014 Posted by | Economics, Environmentalism | | 1 Comment

St. Louis Police Officers Caught Running Possibly Politically-Motivated Background Checks On Police Board Members

By Tim Cushing | Techdirt | February 3, 2014

The problem with access to other people’s personal data is that the potential for misuse is ever present. This is inherent in any system, whether it’s the NSA’s or a local politician’s — simply because humans are humans. The solution is accountability, not layers of bureaucratic control. That’s what appears to be the focus in this story of alleged background check abuse by St. Louis County police officers, which is a good start.

Two St. Louis county police officers who were assigned to the detail of County Executive Charles Dooley have had their access to a criminal database suspended while an investigation over whether they were running unauthorized background checks, according to the St. Louis Post-Dispatch. The officers are specifically accused of running such a check on a former candidate for the police board, a body that’s theoretically supposed to supervise officers.

Internal affairs is now investigating the two officers in order to determine why it was accessed and if there was any additional abuse. County police chief Tom Fitch found himself questioning the motivations and actions of these two officers after they were inadvertently “outed” by a member of Dooley’s office.

Questions first arose in October when Dooley’s chief of staff, Garry Earls, announced to the county council that a criminal background check into former police board candidate David Spence had come back clean, County Chief Tim Fitch said.

Fitch said he had questioned how the county administration would know that information because he didn’t believe it was his officers’ place to run the checks.

Officers running background checks on their own supervisors isn’t a good idea, especially when it gives the unauthorized access the appearance of being politically motivated — and possibly ordered by a county official. (This has been denied, of course.) Simply running a check for any other reason than “criminal justice” is itself illegal. And now Fitch is trying to figure out who else these officers have “checked out” in violation of policy.

At this point, the two officers must ask a supervisor to run names for them and have no access to the REGIS database. Until further details emerge, this at least prevents misuse by the two accused of unauthorized access. Whether there’s evidence of more abuse remains to be seen. On the downside, Chief Fitch is being rather cagey with details on how much abuse has been uncovered.

Fitch would not say how many names the officers ran during their time assigned to Dooley’s detail, citing the ongoing internal investigation.

“The number (of names) isn’t important,” he said. “What’s important is why it was done and who asked them to do it.”

Understandably, some details need to be withheld during an ongoing investigation, but Fitch is a bit off when he says the total number isn’t important. Checks that complied with department policy obviously don’t matter, so it’s only the total number that fall outside compliance that anyone’s worried about. That number matters just as much as the “why.” The “who” behind it matters as well, although the accused officers still had the option to say “no” if they were indeed asked to break the rules.

While it’s refreshing to see a police chief unwilling to downplay his officers’ misconduct, the intensity must be maintained not only through this investigation, but going forward to ensure incidents like these become rarer and rarer. And if it turns out that the database was frequently misused, the consequences need to be as severe as the abuse.

February 3, 2014 Posted by | Civil Liberties, Corruption | | Leave a comment

FMLN Wins First Round of Presidential Elections in El Salvador

CISPES | February 3 2014

San Salvador —With 99% of votes counted, candidate for the governing Farabundo Martí national Liberation Front (FMLN) party, Salvador Sanchez Cerén, has won the first round of El Salvador’s 2014 presidential election, with ten-point lead over Norman Quijano of the Nationalist Republican Alliance (ARENA). Both candidates will head to a run-off on March 9.

According to the CISPES electoral observation mission, which included delegates from the National Lawyers Guild, the American Association of Jurists and various U.S. universities, the electoral proceedings were calm and peaceful.

As Laura Embree-Lowry reported for CISPES’ mission, “This has been a much more transparent and peaceful process than we’ve observed in the past.” Observers noted the positive impact of several steps taken by the Supreme Electoral Tribunal over the past four years to increase both voter access and transparency, especially the new neighborhood voting system, which was carried out throughout the entire country for the first time on February 2.

The mission reported several denouncements made to them throughout the day, primarily concerning voting centers that did not open to the public at 7:00 am as scheduled due to the lack of sufficient numbers of poll workers, but these incidents were characterized as minor anomalies.

Embree-Lowry noted, “CISPES has observed every election since the Peace Accords. Today’s election shows that the process of democratization in the country continues to advance.”

Supreme Electoral Tribunal president Eugenio Chicas announced that the final vote count will be formally announced on Tuesday, February 4th. None of the candidates have challenged the preliminary results; both Sánchez-Cerén and Quijano gave press conferences in San Salvador on Sunday night expressing satisfaction and hope for a victory on March 9.

The 70-person CISPES observer mission, together with the SHARE Foundation, U.S.-El Salvador Sister Cities, and other international organizations will issue their report on the election at a press conference on Tuesday in San Salvador.

February 3, 2014 Posted by | Aletho News | , | Leave a comment

New York State Senate passes bill targeting the American Studies Association

MEMO | February 3, 2014

The New York State Senate has overwhelmingly passed a bill that targets the American Studies Association (ASA) for supporting an academic and cultural boycott of Israeli institutions. The bill is due to be discussed this week by the New York State Assembly’s Higher Education Committee, and if passed the bill would be voted on by the full assembly shortly thereafter. The governor also has to approve any bill before it becomes law.

Members of ASA voted in December 2013 to endorse the call by the Palestinian Campaign for the Academic & Cultural Boycott of Israel. Shortly afterwards, the Native American and Indigenous Studies Association also announced its support for the boycott. Both follow the precedent set by the Asian American Studies Association in April 2013.

Al-Jazeera America reported that the New York bill, sponsored by Democratic Senator Jeff Klein, passed the state senate by a vote of 56-4 and would “prevent academic institutions from using state aid to pay for membership fees to organisations like the ASA or to reimburse state employees for travel or lodging associated with ASA travel.”

In a statement released by his office, Klein threatened that, “I will not allow the enemies of Israel or the Jewish people to gain an inch in New York.”

The Palestinians calling for the boycott, as part of the wider Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) movement, are protesting the on-going Israeli occupation of Palestine.

According to Students for Justice in Palestine, the bill has wider ramifications than just targeting the ASA. The group said in an e-mail that: “If [the bill] becomes law it would prohibit public universities and colleges from using any taxpayer money on groups that support boycotts of Israel. For instance, such funds could not be used for travel or lodging for a faculty member attending a meeting of a group that supports a boycott of Israel.”

Dima Khalidi of the Palestine Solidarity Legal Support and Cooperating Counsel with the Centre for Constitutional Rights noted that the bill clearly aims to “discourage expressive activities such as boycotts based on the legislators’ personal disagreement with the content of the expression.” She added that: “Painting the ASA boycott resolution as discriminatory is not only inaccurate, but also distracts from the fact that its purpose is in fact to protest the human rights violations for which Israel is responsible, and the discriminatory policies and practices of the Israeli government. These bills would be both a violation of free speech and academic freedom, which the proposed legislation cynically purports to defend.”

February 3, 2014 Posted by | Ethnic Cleansing, Racism, Zionism, Illegal Occupation, Solidarity and Activism | , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Karzai sees ‘no good’ with US presence in Afghanistan

Press TV – February 3, 2014

Afghan President Hamid Karzai says he has seen “no good” with the presence of American forces in his country, prompting further speculations of a breakdown of trust between Kabul and Washington.

“This whole 12 years was one of constant pleading with America to treat the lives of our civilians as lives of people,” Karzai said in an interview with The Sunday Times.

Karzai also said that he has not spoken to US President Barack Obama since June last year, which may show the increasing gulf between Afghanistan and the US.

“We met in South Africa but didn’t speak. Letters have been exchanged,” he said, referring to the funeral ceremony for South African anti-Apartheid leader Nelson Mandela.

The differences between the two sides have grown increasingly since Karzai refused to sign a security pact with Washington that would allow thousands of foreign troops to stay in Afghanistan after 2014.

“The money they should have paid to the police they paid to private security firms and creating militias who caused lawlessness, corruption and highway robbery,” Karzai said.

The Afghan president also went on to say that the US-led forces “then began systematically waging psychological warfare on our people, encouraging our money to go out of our country.”

“What they did was create pockets of wealth and a vast countryside of deprivation and anger,” he said.

“In general, the US-led NATO mission in terms of bringing security has not been successful, particularly in Helmand,” Karzai said.

He also dismissed concerns about the cutting of Western financial aid to Afghanistan over his refusal to sign the security deal.

“Money is not everything,” he said, adding, “If you ask me as an individual, I would rather live in poverty than uncertainty.”

On Wednesday, US Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel expressed deep frustration with Karzai over the prolongation of the review process for the signing of the Bilateral Security Agreement (BSA) with the US.

The Pentagon chief, however, stated that Karzai is the elected president of a sovereign country, and Washington’s ability to influence his decisions is limited.

Karzai says he will not sign the BSA until certain conditions are met, including a guarantee from Washington that there will be no more raids on Afghan houses. He says the demands come from the country’s highest decision-making body, the Loya Jirga.

In his speech at the Loya Jirga on November 24, 2013, Karzai said, “If US military forces conduct military operations on Afghan homes even one more time, then there will be no BSA and we won’t sign it.”

The US and its allies invaded Afghanistan on October 7, 2001 as part of Washington’s so-called war on terror. The offensive removed the Taliban from power, but after more than 12 years, the foreign troops have still not been able to establish security in the country.

February 3, 2014 Posted by | Militarism, Progressive Hypocrite | , , , | Leave a comment