Ending Monopoly Control of the Electronics Industry

Rebel Geeks: Meet Your Maker

Al Jazeera (2016)

Film Review

This documentary concerns the Maker Movement, Massino Banzi and the Arduino. Banzi created the Arduino in 2003. The latter is an Open Source one chip computer control device that allows ordinary people to create their own electronic devices without training in electronics or engineering. People have used them to create their own Open Source 3D printers, drones, smartphones, robots and other electronic devices.

The Arduino has played a pivotal role in the Maker Movement, a campaign to end monopoly control over the electronics industry. If you allow corporations to control all the electronic devices and services you use, you allow them to control your choices.

Safecast, the international Citizen Science movement that installed tiny Geiger counters across Japan in 2011 used Arduinos to build them.

See The Citizen Science Movement

 

How the World Health Organization Gave Up Its Scientific Independence

Trust WHO: The Business of Global Health

Al Jazeera (2018)

Film Review

This documentary concerns the capture of the UN World Health Organization (WHO) by pharmaceutical and other corporations. The problem originates, according to filmmakers, from the refusal global governments to fully fund the agency. As a result, WHO has come to rely on foundations and corporate sponsors to finance their programs. Forty percent of current WHO funding comes from non-government sources. The Gates Foundation, with their strong GMO and vaccine agenda, is its second largest funder after the US government.

Worse still, only 30% of the WHO budget is discretionary. Seventy-percent must be dedicated to programs specified by donors.

The film examines numerous instances in which WHO has pursued the interest of corporate sponsors to the clear detriment of world health. The most grievous example occurred in 2011, when they failed to recommend that Japanese children take potassium iodide to prevent them from radioactive iodine released from the Fukushima meltdowns. The recommendation for children to take prophylactic potassium iodide following nuclear accidents has been a standard WHO recommendation since 1999.

According to radiation health expert Dr Helen Caldicott (see Fukushima: An Ongoing Radiological Catastrophe, more than 200 Fukushima children had developed thyroid cancer by June 2018. Most, if not all of these cases could have been prevented by giving them potassium iodide. Thyroid cancer in the Japanese population is normally quite rare – it occurs in roughly one of every million individuals.

The film can’t be embedded but can be viewed at the Al Jazeera website:

Trust Who: The Business of Global Health

Open Science and the Citizen Science Movement

Solutions: Open Science

Directed by James Corbett (2019)

Film Review

This documentary evaluates potential solutions to the problems with shoddy and fraudulent research Corbett identified in his prior documentary The Crisis of Science (see Why Most Published Research Findings Are False).

Among the reforms Corbett notes are growing pressure by scientific journals for researchers to publish raw data and negative results and the formation of an entity known as Redaction Watch. The latter closely monitors studies that are retracted for fraudulent data or questionable methodology.

However the most important solutions, in Corbett’s view, are the Open Science and Citizen Science movement. The former campaigns for free public access to scientific research, which until a decade ago was locked away behind costly paywalls.*

The most well known Open Science activist was Aaron Swartz, who published the Guerilla Open Access Manifesto in 2008. The FBI arrested Swartz in 2011 for using an MIT server to upload thousands of academic papers to a free Internet site. His legal problems allegedly prompted Swartz to kill himself two weeks before he went to trial. However numerous factors suggest he may have been “suicided” (see The Mystery of Aaron Swartz’s Alleged Suicide).

Like Swartz, Corbett argues that allowing freer public access to scientific research allows the public to monitor what scientists are up to. The Open Science movement has led to a substantial increase in research available for free on the Open Source PLOS (Public Library of Science).

Citizen Science refers to the growing participation of amateur scientists in the collection, storage and, in some case, analysis, of scientific data. Examples include projects in which scientists use citizens to collect migration data on butterflies and songbirds.

In another model, ordinary citizens set up their own projects to solve specific problems. The best example is Safecast, created by anti-nuclear  activists when it became clear the Japanese government was lying about radiation levels resulting from the Fukushima meltdowns. In this project, a network of activists created an automated Geiger counter to collect radiation counts every five seconds and upload them to an online database. They then recruited thousands of Japanese volunteers to attach them to their cars and bikes (see The Citizen Science Movement).


*Revenues resulting from scientific journal subscriptions accrue mainly to for profit publishers (like Elsevier) rather than researchers who write scientific papers.

 

 

2020 Olympics: Fukushima to Host Baseball/Softball

One of the gate guards in a hazmat suit, helmet and dual intake respirator

Photo credit: Steve Herman Wikimedia Commons

Hundreds of Ultra Fit Athletes and Thousands of International Visitors to be Irradiated in 2020

What’s wrong with this picture? In what utterly corrupt and debased universe could this possibly happen?

According to the Japan Times, Tokyo 2020 Olympic organizers have given the green light for disaster-affected Fukushima Prefecture to host baseball and softball games. The position of Japan’s government is that Fukushima has been “decontaminated” by removing five centimeters (a little under two inches) of topsoil and placing it in gigantic plastic bags.

Independent radiation measurements by Greenpeace (see video below) suggest that radiation levels remain extremely high and hazardous to human health. Despite this fact, the Japanese government are pressuring Fukushima refugees to return to their homes later this year by discontinuing their government assistance.

Some international observers question whether the decision to hold the 2020 Olympics in Japan is part of the on-going cover-up of the ongoing radiation risk posed by the ongoing core meltdowns at Fukushima that continue to spew radiation into the air, groundwater and Pacific Ocean.

At present, French prosecutors are investigating the Japanese Olympic Committee for a 2.8 million Singapore dollars bribe linked to the 2013 decision to award them the 2020 Olympics.

 

America’s Fukushima?

 

 diablocanyon

Bye Bye California

Whistleblower Michael Peck, a senior member of the Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC), is calling for the Diablo Canyon nuclear reactor to be shut down — pending an assessment of its ability to withstand a major earthquake. Peck, who was Diablo Canyon’s lead inspector for five years, asserts the NRC isn’t applying its own safety rules for the plant’s operation. Unlike other federal whistleblowers, who Obama and the FBI are busy locking up, Peck is participating in an NRC review process that permits employees to appeal a superior’s ruling.

Located on the Pacific Coast halfway between Los Angeles and San Francisco, Diablo Canyon is California’s last nuclear power plant. It’s located adjacent to four seismic faults, the Shoreline, Hosgri, Los Oso and San Luis Bay. The Shoreline fault was only recently discovered; the Hosgri, located three miles from the plant, is the largest and most dangerous. It was discovered in the 1970s, after construction on Diablo Canyon was nearly complete. According to Peck, a 2011 Pacific Gas and Electric (PG& E) seismic study indicates all four faults are capable of producing significantly more “peak ground acceleration” (75% more in the case of San Luis Bay) than previously believed.

Citing these findings, Peck concludes that Diablo Canyon, based on the NRC’s own safety standards, lacks justification to continue operating. He’s asking the NRC to shut it down until PG&E can demonstrate that its piping, cooling and other systems can withstand higher stress levels than called for in its original design.

In 2012 when the NRC ruled Diablo Canyon could continue operating without reassessing its seismic safety, Peck filed a formal objection. In it he called for PG&E to be cited for violating safety standards. When his supervisors overruled him, he filed a second objection, triggering the current review.

Dave Lockbaum, from Union of Concerned Scientists, supports Peck’s position. He has researched four decades of records when the NRC, and its predecessor the Atomic Energy Commission (AEC), faced similar situations. In all prior cases, the NRC/AEC disallowed nuclear facilities to operate with similar unresolved earthquake protection issues. For example, in March 1979—two weeks prior to the Three Mile Island accident—the NRC ordered a handful of nuclear power reactors to shut down and remain shut down until earthquake analysis and protection concerns were corrected.

Diablo Canyon Up for Re-licensing

Diablo Canyon is currently licensed to operate until 2025. In 2009, PG&E applied for a 20 year license extension. The re-licensing process was suspended immediately following the 2011 Fukushima disaster. Japan’s magnitude 8.9 earthquake, which was far larger than believed possible, knocked out Fukushima’s power and cooling systems, causing three core meltdowns. This led the NRC to require US nuclear power plants to re-evaluate seismic risks. These reports are due by March 2015.

Friends of the Earth has petitioned the NRC  to intervene in the Diablo Canyon’s re-licensing proceedings.

According to FOE senior adviser Damon Moglen of Friends of the Earth: “It’s now clear that Diablo Canyon could never get a license to be built at its current Central Coast site. The NRC must consider this seismic data as part of public licensing hearings.”

A Question of Magnitude

Predictably PGE, via their spokesperson Blair Jones, disagrees. Jones maintains the NRC has “exhaustively analyzed” earthquake threats for Diablo Canyon and demonstrated it’s seismically safe. According to Jones, the core issue involving earthquake ground motions was resolved forty years ago with seismic retrofitting (Diablo Canyon was originally designed to withstand a 6.75 earthquake – with the upgrade it can supposedly withstand a 7.5 earthquake). The obvious assumption being that none of the four faults surround Diablo Canyon could cause a 7.6 magnitude or higher earthquake.

PG&E’s position is understandable, as nuclear power plants aren’t cost effective to begin with. They only become profitable with massive taxpayer subsidies. If the NRC requires quire them to retrofit Diablo Canyon to current earthquake standards, a permanent shutdown is highly likely. In 1976, the Humbolt Bay nuclear power plant in northern California, which was within 3,000 yards of three faults, was shut down to reinforce its ability to withstand possible earthquakes. Retrofitting it became more difficult and costly than projected and it never re-opened.

Our Non-regulating Regulatory Agencies

A Fukushima-style earthquake and meltdown at Diablo Canyon could wipe out agriculture in California and parts of the Midwest for centuries. Yet like many federal regulatory agencies, the NRC is more concerned about protecting PG&E’s bottom line than the health, safety and food security of the American public.

Michael Peck, who holds a doctorate in nuclear engineering is presently a senior instructor at NRC’s Technical Training Center in Tennessee.

photo credit: NRCgov via photopin cc

Fukushima: the Cover-Up Continues

crisis without end

Dr Helen Caldicott’s new book, Crisis Without End: the Medical and Ecological Consequences of Fukushima, is a compilation of the symposium she organized at the New York Academy of Medicine in March 2013.* The latter was a virtual Who’s Who of nuclear physicists and radiation health experts. In the short video below, she gives a brief overview of the nuclear accident at Fukushima and the systematic cover-up by the US and Japanese government of the on-going threat it poses to all global inhabitants.

What Actually Happened at Fukushima?

Following a March 2011 earthquake and tsunami that knocked out their cooling systems, three nuclear reactors experienced core meltdowns. When a meltdown occurs, the core overheats to the point that it melts through the containment vessel into the grounds. Driven by the intense heat of continuous chain reactions, the molten mass continues to spew radiation into the environment over an extended period.

The mountain streams that flow under the stricken reactors absorb this radiation from the molten cores and carry it to the Pacific Ocean. Approximately four tons daily of radiation-contaminated water has been flowing into the Pacific Ocean for 3 ½ years.

One the radiation reaches the ocean, it’s taken up into the food chain where it’s “biomagnified” (i.e. small fish eat radioactive algae, which are eaten by larger fish). Tuna is at the top of the food chain. Which is why tuna caught off the coast of California contains radioactive cesium that originated at Fukushima.

The Cover-Up

The Japanese government knew almost immediately the meltdowns had occurred – expose the whole of Japan and the American West Coast to massive doses of airborne radioactive fallout – and covered it up for three months. They and Tepco, the private company running Fukushima, continue to mislead the public by asserting it will take forty years to stop the flow of radioactive water into the Pacific. According to Caldicott, no technology exists at present to reverse the effects of a nuclear meltdown.

A new law Japan passed in December 2013 makes it illegal for journalists to disclose any information about Fukushima that the government wishes to suppress.

Obama, the pro-nuclear president (he received a $250,000 campaign contribution from Exelon Corporation) colluded in the cover-up. Instead of warning Americans in Seattle, Florida and other US sites that they were being exposed to high levels of airborne radioactive fallout (specifically I 131), he specifically denied that the US faced any risk of radiation exposure.

Caldicott maintains the EPA has an absolute legal and moral obligation to monitor radiation levels of US air, water and sea food, especially as the Fukushima site remains extremely vulnerable to a future earthquake, tsunami or typhoon. Workers are still pumping seawater on the stricken reactors to cool them. Afterwards the radioactive seawater is stored in 1500 enormous storage tanks held together with adhesive tape.

Obama, in contrast, is far more concerned about protecting his friends in the nuclear industry. Amazingly he has just finalized $6.5 billion $6.5 billion in loan guarantees to build two new nuclear power plants in Georgia.

Hillary Clinton is also a major player in the cover-up, with the agreement she signed immediately after the Fukushima accident, for the US to continue to import Japanese seafood. Caldicott warns that under no circumstances should people anywhere eat rice, fish or miso imported Japan – owing to high levels of radiation it contains.

Chernobyl

Caldicot also discusses the 1986 nuclear meltdown at Chernobyl (Ukraine) which has caused one million, mainly cancer-related, deaths across Europe. Information about the effects of Chernobyl in other parts of Europe is also being suppressed. Lambs in Wales, Wild boards in Germany and Turkish hazelnut are still too dangerous to eat due to radiation contamination.

 

* Free link to presentations from last year’s Symposium available via the Helen Caldicott Foundation

 

The Nuclear Waste Scandal

Nightmare Nuclear Waste
(2009)

Film Review

In the face of growing international concern over the ongoing nuclear disaster at Fukushima,  an excellent 2009 French/German film (with English subtitles) about nuclear waste has been re-released and is making the rounds of cyberspace. This is truly a life and death issue, owing to the research evidence linking high environmental radiation levels (from the 1986 Chernobyl meltdown) to a big spike in European cancer levels. Important facts come out in this film that the nuclear industry and government are doing their best to conceal:

1. The whole issue of nuclear waste is characterized by secrecy, cover-up, lies and deception by the nuclear industry and pro-nuclear governments (including the extremely pro-nuclear Obama administration).

2. As the world waits with baited breath for the nuclear industry to come up with a permanent solution for deadly waste that will take 100,000 years to decontaminate, massive amounts have been dumped in the ocean, released to the air or stored in leaky containers that are contaminating groundwater and rivers. In La Hague France a nuclear energy company called Areva is releasing it into the air and into the English Channel through a drain pipe d water or open air storage pools. In La Hague France a nuclear energy company is releasing it into the English Channel through a drain pipe (as of 2009, when this film was made).

3. The US and Russian government are covering up the devastating health impacts of the world’s two most contaminated nuclear sites: the Hanford nuclear reservation in Eastern Washington and the Chelyabinsk region in the former Soviet Union. The latter experienced massive contamination when a nuclear waste dump at the Mayak nuclear facility exploded in 1957. The very first nuclear disaster in history was covered up by both the Soviets and, at the behest of America’s fledgling nuclear power industry, the CIA

4. There has never been full disclosure about the 100,000 tons of nuclear waste dumped into the ocean prior to 1993 (as the film was made in 2009, this number excludes the four tons daily dumped into the Pacific Ocean at Fukushima), when the practice was banned by international treaty. Nor has there been any effort to investigate where these radionucleotides ended up or whether they have contaminated the food chain.

4. The nuclear industry – and government – are willfully ignoring the “no threshold model” doctors use to evaluate cumulative radiation risk when they assure us that occasional releases from nuclear power plants are no more harmful than a “transatlantic jet flight” (due to higher radiation levels in the outer atmosphere) Under this model every exposure – no matter how small – increases your risk of developing cancer or having children with birth defects.

The Nuclear Nightmare at Hanford

As a former Washington resident, I took particular interest in the segment on Hanford, the desert site where the Manhattan Project secretly produced plutonium for the atom bomb dropped on Nagasaki. Hanford also produced the vast majority of plutonium for America’s cold war arsenal (1950-1980). Most of Hanford’s nuclear waste is stored in 170 temporary underground concrete tanks. These were meant to be temporary until a permanent storage solution could be found. Beginning in 2001 the tanks, which were only built to last twenty years, were found to be leaking radionuclotides into the groundwater adjacent to the Columbia River.

According to the US Department of Energy, which is responsible for the Hanford clean-up, there are no nuclear contaminants in the Columbia River. This is virtually impossible for independent scientists to verify, as anyone trespassing on the Hanford reservation is subject to arrest and prosecution. The filmmakers accompanied an activist who entered the reservation secretly to take soil and water samples. French scientists at CRIIRAD (Commission de Recherche et d’Information Indépendantes sur la Radioactivité) who tested them found high levels of tritium (exceeding the drinking water standard), Iodine 129, Technetium 99 and Europium 152. The film also talks about an independent study local activists did in 2002, in which the majority of Columbia River fish they sampled contained high levels of Strontium 90.

The People in Muslimovo Who Are Waiting to Die

The situation of Russian farmers living adjacent to the Techa River in Chelyabinsk is far more tragic. After more than fifty years the Techa, which locals rely on to water their crops and pastures, remains contaminated with high levels of Cesium 137, tritium, Strontium 90 and Plutonium 239 and 240 – as do vegetables and milk produced in nearby farms.

The residents are all fully aware of the bleak future they face, as they watch family, neighbors and even their children and grandchildren succumb to cancer. Each family has been offered 20,000 Euros (about $25,000) to abandon their land and homes and voluntarily relocate. This is a paltry sum that would support them a few months at most. The government also tells them not to eat locally grown food. However with incomes averaging 80 euros a month, eating food trucked in from other regions is an unaffordable luxury. As one local woman states, “We have no choice but to stay here until we die.”