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Monday, October 23, 2017


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Therapy Dog Refuses to Give Up on Hospice Patient

After seeing how this dog comforts a dying woman, you’ll understand why her boss says JJ the golden retriever is one of the most intuitive therapy dogs she’s ever worked with.

Nurse Tracy Calhoun says the four-year-old pup began its career of comforting people after the awful mudslides in Oso, Washington last year, and now works three days a week in an Oregon hospice.

The loving pup won over thousands of fans after the video below showed her insisting that an elderly hospice patient continue petting her head.

“I was very insistent to have her touch me, more so than usual,” Calhoun, writing in JJ’s voice, posted to the dog’s Facebook page. “We fell asleep later with her hand splayed on my head, both of us snoring.”

The lady had barely moved for days before JJ came into the room, and she passed away the following day.

It was almost as if the golden pooch was urging her to have one last enjoyable experience.

JJ is a member of Project Canine and HOPE: Animal-Assisted Crisis Response, a pair of groups in the Pacific Northwest that connect service and therapy dogs with people who need them.

Credit: http://www.goodnewsnetwork.org/

GMO Food: Battles Lost, War Won, Consciousness Changed

by Jefferey Jaxen

In the age of rapid marketing campaigns, viral slogans and mass multimedia, companies have reinvented and deepened their consumer reach. Indeed, companies are now able to tout their products and services to consumers in ways limited only by imagination. Even political candidates have jumped on the band wagon with brand Obama winning ‘Marketer of the year’ in 2008. Where is it all leading? Have we reached advertising burnout? Have our minds reached full saturation with ads, slogans and clever tag-lines?


GMO Food: Great Products No One Knows Where To Buy

Nowadays, quick searches of the Internet will unknowingly attract a battalion of advertisements rushing towards you like mosquitoes on a humid summer evening. These ads are typically composed of companies eager to show off their stuff, not caring if they annoy you with their pop-up ads or targeted email advertising. Every company has their emblem or logo plastered over products and packaging like mini billboards showing off their newborn creations like proud mothers and fathers.

So why are GMO manufacturers some of the first sectors in history that don’t market to the consumer? Furthermore, we have (for the first time in the history of marketing) these same companies fighting (and taking major legal action) at all costs to keep their name and product information off the packaging. In fact, these manufacturers don’t even want their products in the public eye.

Basic marketing classes across the country are feverishly attempting to rewrite their college textbooks to include such underhanded tactics. Professors are struggling to answer students’ questions regarding the purpose of such practices. Even big tobacco plastered their name and products all over the world with devilish glee. The US population as a whole is left with one big question mark. Logic and basic marketing principles be damned; the GMO companies attempting to own and patent nature forge ahead with the best product that no one knows where to buy, how to find, or what it really is.

So how are Monsanto, Syngenta, DuPont and other GMO peddlers making all of this money to continue to constantly expand aggressively across the world? The business model is becoming clear:

Step 1: Create a market no one knows about
Step 2: Allow no competition
Step 3: Protect your monopoly through legal action and buy up your competition

It’s clear now that we, the public, must be supporting a large part of this GMO food. Why else would multi-millions be spent by GMO food manufacturers in California, Oregon and Colorado to defeat a simple label on the package that their product is in? I say to Monsanto et al., “Be proud of your products and tout their benefits.” After all, long-term independent studies show they are okay for us to eat…right?

Consciousness Shifted

The battle lines were drawn long ago from the brave whistleblowers and teachers like Don Huber, Dr. Joseph Mercola, and many others that were ahead of the curve in warning of the upcoming fight. Now we are at the crossroads. We are facing our generation’s big tobacco companies who are devious, underhanded, and possess deep pockets to lobby in the shadows of Congress and the halls of the White House. Yet, unlike the tobacco companies who lied to us in the past, GMO manufacturers have revealed an overarching hand to impact our children and their children’s health. Would it have been fair if your grandfather’s smoking habit was still damaging your children, grandchildren, and so on? This is potentially what we are facing having long been proposed by leading voices and now confirmed by studies.

Unlike generations of cigarette smokers past, scores of other countries have made it clear that they want nothing to do with our unlabeled GMO food. In addition, regulations have been passed forbidding many types of GMO crops to be grown in a large collection of aware countries. Where big tobacco knew no borders, GMO food is a disease incubated in the United States and tested on their population. Yet now it appears that the population has had enough. The outcome of the recent voting measures in Colorado and Oregon is now of little significance. Many companies see the writing on the wall and are jumping ship in the name of bottom-line profit, market share and integrity. All of which will be remembered by a consumer base that is hyper-informed and increasing their knowledge base at Ethernet speeds. What took decades in the past to shed light on and dislodge big tobacco companies is now taking years with GMO companies. In the near future it is possible to see almost real-time rejection of dishonest companies, practices and labeling.

This is not simple rhetoric, this is a warning to corporations that we will give no quarter to those among you that drag your feet at our requests. In the information age of sound bites and limited attention spans, we will continue to surprise you with our long, sharp memories of your abuse, lies and legal attacks on farmers, companies and entire states (Vermont). So in closing, a message to GMO manufacturers & big corporations: On your way to battlefield Oregon/Colorado, know that you have already lost. Your last-gasp efforts to buy up competition to your monopoly have also failed. Communities have you checkmated at every turn. We are rapidly decentralizing, growing our own food, and taking back our power. Your time is at hand and history will not be kind to you.

Even though we’ve lost some battles, we are winning the war. You may not be aware of it but there is a clear demand at stores for non-GMO products that exceeds the demand for ‘organic’ products. Within literally two years, we have changed the consciousness of the public to understand that non-GMO is more important than organic. – Dr. Joseph Mercola (October 31st interview)

Jefferey Jaxen is an independant journalist, writer, and researcher. Focusing on personal empowerment and alternative health, his work reveals a sharp eye to capture the moment in these rapidly changing times. You can find his latest research, information, and personal writings at his website: www.jeffereyjaxen.com.

Shark Found living Inside A Volcano in the Solomon Islands

shark found living inside a volcano

Ocean engineer Brennan Phillips made a discovery in an underwater volcano in the Solomon Islands. The camera’s found footage of three species scalloped hammerhead shark, the silky shark and the sixgill stingray.

The camera was able to examine inside the activity of the volcano, and provided footage life. The most recent eruption occurred in January 2014.

The camera was lowered into acidic water and travelled 20 metres (66 Feet) below the surface and landed inside the crater at 45 metres (147 feet). These species are living in a place where they could die at anytime.

Artificial sweeteners make your brain think you’re fasting, researchers say

Jennifer Graham, Deseret News


Artificial sweeteners found in diet sodas and other low-calorie products can make people feel hungry, leading them to eat more and gain even more weight. That’s because they tinker with the brain’s reward center, according to a new study out of Australia.

Researchers fed fruit flies a diet sweetened with sucralose (you know it as Splenda) for five days. The insects ate 30 percent more than they did when consuming a diet containing natural sugars. The same thing happened when mice were fed sucralose for a week.

Previous studies have shown that other artificial sweeteners, such as aspartame and saccharine, also cause hunger to spike. The University of Sydney researchers said this is because the brain expects a reward to follow when it perceives something sweet, Tom Philpott reported in Mother Jones. And the brain doesn’t take no for an answer.

“They found that inside the brain’s reward centers, sweet flavor sensations are accompanied by the expectation of a calorie blast. Since the fake sweetener doesn’t deliver the expected calories, the flies go looking for more calorie-rich food to restore balance,” Philpott wrote.

In the Australian study, published July 12 in the journal Cell Metabolism, the sucralose diet also made the flies and mice want more natural sugar — not because they are gluttons that lack self-control, but because the ancient machinations of their brains are wired to seek nutrients when sensing famine.

In short, artificial sweeteners, with no calories or nutrients, trick the brain into thinking it needs more food.

“After sustained consumption of artificial sweetener, the animals could detect much smaller concentrations of real sugar, would eat more of it and respond to it physiologically with much more intensity,” lead author Greg Neely told Scientific American.

Another effect was an increase in insomnia and hyperactivity, which stopped when sucralose was removed from the animals’ diet.

Of course, a fruit fly does not make a mouse which does not make a human. And Neely told Dr. Bret Stetka, writing for Scientific American, “I think the basic message here is that we know the artificial sweetener sucralose is not totally inert — at least in animals. This justifies more research into how these compounds affect people as well.”

There have been concerns about sugar substitutes since the 1970s, when studies suggested that saccharine caused bladder cancer in rats. Subsequent research, however, found the danger didn’t translate to humans, and the Food and Drug Administration, which regulates artificial sweeteners, says they are safe at approved levels. (You can, according to the FDA, have 23 packets of Spenda a day with no ill effect, if you weigh 132 pounds.)

But other studies raise troubling questions about their effect on human metabolism. Earlier this year, Canadian researchers found that expectant mothers who consumed the most sugar substitutes were more likely to have overweight or obese babies. And a 2014 study in Israel concluded that artificial sweeteners can change the composition of some of the trillions of microbes that live in our digestive tracts, the gut flora that influence not only our immune systems, but our brains.

The Center for Science in the Public Interest changed its rating for sucralose from “caution” to “avoid” in February after a controversial study said high doses of Splenda caused leukemia in Swiss rats, a charge that Splenda dismissed as a faulty conclusion of a “poorly conducted and unscientific” report.

Sucralose, according to the Splenda website, is approved for use in 80 countries and is an ingredient in more than 4,000 products worldwide. It was approved by the FDA in 1998.



Art Gallery of Ontario – Groundbreaking AGO exhibition Camera Atomica traces photographic legacy of “the bomb” and nuclear energy

Art Gallery of Ontario – 

Groundbreaking AGO exhibition Camera Atomica 

traces photographic legacy of “the bomb” 

and nuclear energy

Exhibition mixes press photographs and scientific images 
with contemporary artworks by Shomei Tomatsu, Bruce Conner, 
Sandy Skoglund, Edward Burtynsky and more

TORONTO —Wherever nuclear events have occurred, photographers have been present to record what happened; few aspects of the nuclear environment have escaped the camera’s gaze. Opening at the Art Gallery of Ontario (AGO) on July 8, 2015, Camera Atomica is one of the first exhibitions of atomic imagery to chart the entire post-war period, from the bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki to the present. Featuring over 150 photographs, from 1945 to 2012 including work by Harold Edgerton, the Canadian Atomic Energy Board, Robert Del Tredici, NASA, Los Alamos Scientific Laboratory, Kenji Higuchi, Carol Condé and Karl Beveridge, the exhibition is accompanied by a selection of atomic-era artifacts. Camera Atomica will be on view at the AGO until Nov. 15, 2015.

Guest curated by John O’Brian, Professor and Faculty Associate of the Peter Wall Institute for Advanced Studies at the University of British Columbia, Camera Atomica explores the crucial role that photography has played in shaping the public’s perspective of atomic energy and weapons. Sophie Hackett, the AGO’s associate curator of photography provided internal curatorial support.

“In subtle but provocative ways this exhibition addresses some of the most controversial issues of the post-war era including nuclear proliferation, toxic waste disposal and climate change”, says O’Brian. “Beyond demonstrating the reach of atomic energy, this exhibition speaks to the power of photography—how it has influenced our perspectives over generations and helped shape a legacy of social anxiety.”

The entrance to the exhibition is marked by a hanging chandelier made with uranium glass that glows green. It was created by artists Ken and Julia Yonetani. One of 29 chandeliers created as part of the Yonetanis 2012 installation Crystal Palace: The Great Exhibition of the Works of Industry of all Nuclear Nations, the chandelier represents Canada. The work, which poses no risk to human health, is suspended from the ceiling. The green glow it emits is the result of a UV light shone on thousands of uranium glass beads, which hang in place of crystals.

The works in the exhibition are organized thematically in three sections and are loosely chronological, moving forward from 1945 to the present: Hiroshima and Nagasaki; Test and Protest; and Uranium and Radiation. Opening with a series of images by Berlyn Brixner of the first atom bomb test explosion in New Mexico in 1945, the initial section addresses the advent of the atom bomb through documentary images of Hiroshima and Nagasaki and a series of survivor portraits, including several by Shomei Tomatsu on loan from the Museum of Modern Art, New York

The second section of the exhibition – Test and Protest – covers the period from the first nuclear test at Alamogordo in 1945 to intensified anti-nuclear protests that began in the early 1980s. Some of the works in the section reflect the exponential growth in artistic output around the subject of nuclear proliferation and safety that occurred following the election of President Ronald Reagan and the heating up on the Cold War in 1980. Works by artists Bruce Conner, Nancy Burson, Hiroshi Hamaya, Richard Misrach and Michael Light are among those featured in this section.

The final section highlights nuclear energy as environmental hazard, medical tool and national industry. Featuring Edward Burtynsky’s striking image Uranium Tailings #12, Elliot Lake, Ontario, this section also includes Emmet Gowin’s lunar-like aerial views in Nevada and Montana and David McMillan’s photographs of Chernobyl’s ruined landscape over many years. Stills from Carol Condé and Karl Beveridge’s 1986 art film No Immediate Threat deal with the plight of workers at the Bruce Ontario Nuclear site. Robert Adams’s portraits of daily life lived in the shadow of the Rocky Flats nuclear power plant provide an uneasy reminder of what’s at risk. Sandy Skoglund tackles this topic with humour in her iconic work Radioactive Cats (1980).

A discussion room, designed to evoke a fallout shelter, concludes the exhibition, replete with posters, articles and details about local engagement with atomic energy.

Guest curator John O’Brian will give a free public talk on July 8, 2015, in the AGO’s Jackman Hall at 5:30 p.m. This will be followed by a free public reception from 6 to 8:30 p.m. in Walker Court to celebrate the opening of the exhibition.

A 304-page soft cover catalogue accompanies the exhibition and will be for sale at shopAGO for $25. Co-published by the Art Gallery of Ontario and Black Dog Press, Camera Atomica includes over 250 illustrations and essays by John O’Brian, Hiromitsu Toyosaki, Julia Bryan-Wilson, Blake Fitzpatrick, Susan Schuppli, Iain Boal, Gene Ray, and Douglas Coupland.

The exhibition is included with the price of general admission and is free to AGO members. More information on the benefits of AGO membership can be found at www.ago.net/general-membership.

Camera Atomica is organized by the Art Gallery of Ontario.

Gordon Edwards’ voice is one of three voices that have been recorded for visitors to the exhibit to listen to.

Tuesday 10 am – 5:30 pm
Wednesday 10 am – 8:30 pm
Thursday 10 am – 5:30 pm
Friday 10 am – 5:30 pm
Saturday 10 am – 5:30 pm
Sunday 10 am – 5:30 pm


Historical Statement by Canada in 1986 regarding potential transboundary effects of nuclear waste from the USA

Background:                                  June 11, 2015

The following public statement, made by Joe Clark on January 16, 1986, speaks for itself.  At one time Joe Clark was the Prime Minister of Canada, but in 1986 he was Minister of State for External Affairs in the Mulroney cabinet. 

The US Nuclear Waste Policy Act of 1982 required the Department of Energy (DOE) to issue guidelines for the selection of sites for the construction of two permanent, underground repositories for high-level nuclear waste (both civilian and military). The DOE was to study five potential sites in the western United States for the first repository, and then recommend three to the president by January 1, 1985. Five additional sites were to be studied as possible locations for a second repository in the eastern United States and three of them were to be recommended to the president by July 1, 1989.

The search for a second repository focused on crystalline rock in the northeastern states, not far from the Canadian border. Concerns over the possibility that radioactive pollutants could be carried into Canadian waters turned the search for a second repository into an international issue. 

Very early on, citizens from Quebec entered Vermont by the busload in a show of solidarity to express their joint opposition to the proposed nuclear waste dump. In both Quebec and Vermont, opposition grew by leaps and bounds, being widely reported in the mass media and reaching the highest political levels.

The Premier of Quebec, Robert Bourassa, famously proclaimed that his province would never allow a permanent nuclear waste repository within the territory of Quebec or on its borders. Jean Charest, then the Member of Parliament from Sherbrooke, Quebec — just a short distance from Vermont — successfully mobilized the Canadian government to become involved  through its embassy in Washington D.C.  

Meanwhile, growing opposition was being manifested by US citizens and politicians in the eastern United States, particularly in Vermont. At one public meeting that was broadcast live throughout the state, the lieutenant governor asked DOE officials a blunt question: “Whose decision is this, yours or ours?  Because if it is our decision, then we can keep this meeting very short indeed.  And if it’s your decision, then what exactly is the purpose of this meeting?” 

The choice of a site for a second repository was clearly becoming a major political liability.

In December 1987, Congress amended the Nuclear Waste Policy Act to designate Yucca Mountain, Nevada as the only site to be characterized as a permanent repository for all of the nation’s nuclear waste.  The amendment repealed provisions in the 1982 law calling for a second repository in the eastern United States. 


The Age of Nuclear Waste is upon us. Ordinary citizens and their elected representatives must become involved. The stakes are too high to leave such decisions to the nuclear establishment, which includes the regulatory agency. What’s good for the survival of the nuclear enterprise is often in conflict with long-term human welfare.  

As Emilio Varanini, chair of the California Energy Resources Development and Conservation Commission, said back in 1978: 

Excessive optimism about the potential for safe disposal of nuclear wastes has caused backers of nuclear power to ignore scientific evidence pointing to its pitfalls.  That’s the real crux of what we found — that you have to weigh scientific evidence against essentially engineering euphoria.”


As Michael J. Keegan of Don’t Waste Michigan has said, “Delusion is not the solution to pollution.”


A policy of Rolling Stewardship, with Hardened On-Site Storage where appropriate, based on a societal commitment to provide for continuous monitoring and retrievability, with periodic recharacterization and repackaging of the wastes, is the only acceptable approach for the foreseeable future.  Those in charge of the nuclear waste should be independent of the nuclear industry, but they must have all the necessary information and resources to keep society and the environment safe from the radioactive legacy of the nuclear age. An official “changing of the guard” every 20 years or so will provide the opportunity for a complete and detailed review of what has been accomplished in the past and what improvements can be made for the future.  

The industry sees nuclear waste as a public relations problem.  Nuclear proponents want to be able to abandon the nuclear waste, limit the industry’s liability, and let amnesia slowly set in: “Let’s pretend it never happened”.  

Rolling Stewardship begins with the frank admission that getting rid of nuclear waste is impossible at the present time — it is an unsolved problem. The only approach that is justifiable on 

scientific and ethical grounds is, not to abandon these wastes that will remain dangerous for millions of years, but to safeguard them on an intergenerational basis in the interests of society as a whole.  We know how to do it safely, one generation at a time, as long as we stop adding to the problem.  


Gordon Edwards.



Statement by the Right Honourable Joe Clark,
Secretary of State for External Affairs,
concerning the U .S . Nuclear Waste Repository Program
January 16, 1986 
The United States Department of Energy has released a draft Area Recommendation Report as part of its program to locate a site for its second nuclear waste repository.
The draft report identified 20 areas for further study (12 will be actively studied; 8 will be held in reserve, if needed) from a list of 235 rock bodies located within the United States. The US Department of Energy has stated that it will receive comments on these 20 areas before the final report is issued in mid-1986. The areas on the final list will then be subject to field investigations, leading to a further narrowing, in 1991, to 3 sites for even more intensive study. A final selection of one
site will be made in 1998.
I am pleased to see that none of the potential areas listed in the draft report is within 25 miles of the border. However, one in Maine, known as the Bottle Lake complex, is just beyond this minimum distance from New Brunswick and may be at least partially in the St. Croix River watershed. Other areas of potential concern to Canada, because they are in drainage basins that eventually flow into Canada, are in Minnesota and WisconsinThe four potential areas of concern in Minnesota are in the Red River basin. Two areas in Wisconsin are at least partially in the Great Lakes basin. 
The Government of Canada is examining the detailed US Government information on these areas. The Canadian Government and adjacent provinces will assess this information for indications of potential effects to the health and property of this and future generations of CanadiansCanadian officials will also review the data available on all 20 areas to ascertain if any of them could pose any concern to Canadians due to the movement of groundwater or other factors.
The Government of Canada and the governments of the concerned provinces expect to present their concerns to United States representatives at an early meeting of the Canada/USA consultative group on this issue which will take place once the information available in the draft report has been fully assessed. These concerns will also be registered with the US Administration at the Cabinet level at the earliest appropriate opportunity.
I and several of my Cabinet colleagues have made it clear to our US counterparts that this Government opposes any development that could present a transboundary threat to the welfare of Canadians or the integrity of the Canadian
During consultations, the US agreed that no area would be selected if field work or sampling in Canada would be required or if it was adjacent to the border. One site in Maine, adjacent to the Quebec border near Lac Megantic, has been dropped specifically for those reasons.
The United States has also assured Canada that the 15-year screening process which it is conducting to select a site is intended to ensure that no site will be selected which will have harmful effects on either side of the border. The Government will monitor the US process carefully to ensure that the interests of this and future generations of Canadians are protected.
The Government will continue its consultations with the provinces and the citizen groups concerned with this issue.
– 30 –

Natalie-Marie Hart Interviews Pete Kennedy from Farm to Consumer Legal Defense Fund

Pete Kennedy is an attorney in Sarasota, Florida who works on dairy issues for the Weston A. Price Foundation, particularly, the right of farmers to distribute raw milk and raw milk products direct to consumers. He has represented or assisted in the representation of dairy farmers facing possible state enforcement action in Florida, Wisconsin, Ohio, Michigan and Indiana. He has helped farmers get started in the business of distributing raw milk and raw milk products in many other states. He has written articles for Wise Traditions Magazine on the interstate ban on raw milk products for human consumption and on the legality of selling raw milk interstate for animal consumption. He compiled the state raw milk laws and state raw milk summaries posted at www.realmilk.com. He is currently working with others to challenge the federal ban on the interstate shipment of raw milk for human consumption.






Natalie-Marie Hart Interviews Heather Callaghan

Heather is an investigative writer & editor for Activist Post and Natural Blaze. Activist for freedom, natural health, raw milk, real education, spiritual philosophies & empowerment.


Natalie-Marie Hart Interviews Heather Callaghan about the March Against Monsanto





Natalie-Marie Hart Interviews Heather Callaghan





Natalie-Marie Hart Interviews Heather Callaghan about the environment





Known Facts and Hidden Dangers

By Dr. Gordon Edwards


What do we know about uranium? Well, uranium is the heaviest naturally occurring element on earth. It is a metal, like all other metals, except that it had no commercial value before the mid-twentieth century. Until the last fifty years it was produced only as a byproduct. Thus the entire history of the mining of uranium has taken place during my lifetime. Moreover, a great deal of it has occurred in my homeland, Canada, which was the first country to produce and process uranium as such.

The first uranium processed by Canada was used to produce nuclear explosives for the atomic bombs dropped at Hiroshima and Nagasaki in 1945. Indeed, the beginning of the nuclear weapons program marked the beginning of the uranium industry. By 1956, uranium had become the fourth most important export from Canada, after pulp, lumber and wheat; and every ounce of it was used to produce A-bombs and H-bombs for the American — and, to a lesser extent, the British — nuclear weapons programs. It was the only use uranium had at that time.

Today, Canada remains the world’s largest producer and exporter of uranium, ostensibly for peaceful purposes; that is, as fuel for civilian nuclear reactors. Canada is also one of the very few countries in the world in which uranium mining is currently expanding. In the province of Saskatchewan, there are environmental assessment hearings going on now, this year, having to do with the potential opening of five new uranium mines. This, despite the fact that the price of uranium is lower today than it has ever been. The price has been falling steadily for more than fifteen years, and is now at an all-time low.

I hope that those attending this conference will write to the Prime Minister of Canada (c/o House of Commons, Ottawa, Ontario, Canada, K1A 0A6) and to the Premier of Saskatchewan (c/o Saskatchewan Legislature, Regina, Saskatchewan, Canada) asking them not to continue the expansion of this industry. Why? Because uranium is the deadliest metal on earth. As you will see, the scientific evidence fully bears out this conclusion. I would now like to explain why.

Both the commercial value and the dangers of uranium are based on two extra-ordinary characteristics which it possesses. First of all, uranium is radioactive. Secondly, uranium is fissionable. These are two quite different properties, however, and they should not be confused.


The phenomenon of radioactivity was accidentally discovered in 1896 when Henri Becquerel put a rock in a drawer. The rock contained uranium, and the drawer contained a photographic plate, which was well-wrapped and shielded from the light. Some weeks later, when Becquerel unwrapped and developed the plate, he found rays of light on the photograph emanating exactly from the point of contact where the rock had been resting on it. Being a scientist, he was astounded. He could think of no possible way in which an inert rock could spontaneously be releasing energy — especially such a penetrating form of energy. Moreover, the energy release had taken place in total darkness, in the absence of any external stimulation — there was no chemical reaction, no exposure to sunlight, nor anything else. Becquerel had discovered radioactivity.

Marie Curie decided to pursue the mystery further. She got some uranium ore from the Erz mountains, not very far from here. She chemically separated the uranium from the rest of the crushed rock (she had to crush the rock and dissolve it in acid to get the uranium out, which is what we still do today in mining uranium) and she found that even after the uranium had been removed, the crushed rock remained very radioactive — much more so than the uranium itself. Here was a mystery indeed. Why is it that eighty-five percent of the radioactivity stays behind in the crushed rock?

Starting with many tons of rock, Madame Curie proceeded to separate out all the chemical elements she knew. It was painstaking work. Finally she was left with a small beaker of concentrated, highly radioactive liquid. By evaporating the water, she felt sure she would discover whatever was causing this intense radioactivity. But when the liquid was evaporated, the beaker was, apparently, completely empty. She was deeply disappointed. She couldn’t fathom what had gone wrong. But when she returned to the laboratory late at night, she found the beaker glowing brightly in the dark, and she realized that it wasn’t empty after all. In this way, Marie Curie discovered two new elements: radium and polonium. We now know these are inevitable byproducts of uranium.

By 1906, all the basic facts of radioactivity were known, except for the central mystery as to “why”; this we do not understand. Indeed, science doesn’t really understand why anything is the way it is. All science can do is describe how things behave. Science tells us, for example, that all material things are made up of tiny atoms. The atoms found in most substances are remarkably stable, but in the case of radioactive materials, the atoms are unstable.

Consider the water in this glass. It is made up of stable atoms. Pure water is made up of hydrogen and oxygen atoms, and these atoms are, as far as science can determine, eternal and unchangeable. The very same atoms of hydrogen and oxygen that are in this glass of water were around, in some other combinations, in the days of the dinosaurs.

But radioactive substances have unstable atoms which can and will explode microscopically, and when they do, they give off a burst of energy. This process is called “radioactive disintegration” or “radioactive decay”. When radioactive atoms explode, they give off highly energetic charged particles of two types: alpha and beta. These are particles, they’re not invisible rays. They are like pieces of shrapnel from an explosion. And this microscopic shrapnel does great damage because of the high energy of the particles which are given off.

Decay Products

When a radioactive atom explodes, that atom is changed permanently into a new substance. And radium turns out to be one of the results of exploding uranium atoms. So wherever you find uranium on the earth, you will always find radium with it because it is one of about a dozen so-called “decay products” of uranium.

To be more precise, when uranium disintegrates it turns into a substance called protactinium, which is also radioactive. And when that disintegrates it turns into a substance named thorium, which is likewise radioactive. When thorium disintegrates it turns into radium; when radium disintegrates it turns into radon gas. And when radon gas atoms disintegrate, they turn into what are called the “radon daughters”, or “radon progeny”, of which there are about half a dozen radioactive materials, including polonium.

Finally, in this progression, you end up with a stable substance, which in itself is highly toxic: lead. But because the radioactivity of the other materials is so much more dangerous than this toxic heavy metal, people don’t even talk about the lead at the end of the chain. They think that once all the radioactivity is gone, what’s left is perfectly safe. It isn’t — but the lead that remains is just a whole lot less dangerous than the radioactive materials that produced it.

So all the radioactive decay products of uranium remain in the crushed rock when uranium is separated from the ore. That’s why Marie Curie found most of the radioactivity left behind in the residues, including all the radium and all the polonium.


Well, how did the story of uranium progress? Because uranium was less radioactive than its daughter products, it was not valued commercially. But radium was. And radium began to be used principally for two purposes. One was to burn cancerous growths. I should tell you that both Henri Becquerel and Marie Curie suffered grievous burns which were very difficult to heal and which left permanent scars just as a result of handling radium. Other scientists got the idea that if they embedded a needle containing radium inside a cancerous tumor, it would burn the cancer — and indeed it did. That was the beginning of cancer therapy using radiation, wherein the harmful effects of atomic radiation are directed against cancerous cells instead of healthy cells. Of course, atomic radiation does similar damage to healthy cells.

Now, the other main use for radium was as a luminous paint, because of the glow-in-the-dark phenomenon that Marie Curie had observed. Believe it or not, the price of uranium in the 1920s was $100,000 a gram — and this is using dollars of the twenties! It was a very expensive commodity, but only very little was needed for any given purpose. Some of it was used to make luminous paint, with which they would paint dials so they could be read even in the dark.

Now the young women who painted these things began to get sick. This was first reported by an American dentist called Blum, who said that he had some very young women — 19 years old, 18 years old, 20 years old — coming into his dentistry office. Their teeth were falling out, their gums were badly infected and bleeding profusely, they were anemic, their bones were soft, and in some cases their jawbones had spontaneously fractured. Some of them died of severe anemia.

The only thing these women had in common was that they worked in a radium dial painting factory in New Jersey. Blum called this phenomenon “radium jaw”. A few years later, the women who had recovered from these symptoms started developing problems in the rest of their skeleton. They suffered weakening of the bone, spontaneous fractures of the hip and of other bones, and growths — tumors, some of which were cancerous — in the bones themselves. Now, bone cancer is such an exceedingly rare disease, that there was little doubt that this cancer was caused by exposure to radium.

It was discovered that simply by wetting the tip of the brush in order to get a nice clean figure on the dials, these women were ingesting minute quantities of radium. And that was sufficient to cause all these symptoms. When autopsies were performed on the corpses of these women, doctors discovered that in their entire skeleton there were only a few micrograms of radium. This quantity was so small, that no conventional chemical analysis could detect it. Nevertheless, this tiny amount of radium had distributed itself so thoroughly through their skeleton, that you could take a picture of any one of their bones just by laying it on a photographic plate in a dark room, It is called an auto-radiograph — that is, an x-ray picture with no x-ray machine.

So this was our first introduction to the harmful effects of even minute quantities of such substances. By the way, many of the women who survived this phase of the assault later on developed cancers of the head — cancer of the sinuses, cancer of the soft palate, and other types of head cancers. We now know how these were caused. Remember, radium is radioactive — even inside the body. As I told you earlier, when radium atoms disintegrate, they turn into radon gas. So radon gas was being produced inside the bodies of these women. In fact, one test for radium contamination is to check a person’s exhaled breath and see if it has radon gas in it; if it does, that person must have radium in his or her body. In the case of the radium dial painters, the radon gas was being produced in the bones, dissolved in the blood, and pumped by the heart up to the head where it collected in the sinus and other cavities. And there it was irradiating the delicate living tissues and causing head cancers.


Now, it so happens that for hundreds of years, going back to the 15th century, there had been reports that miners working in the Erz mountains had been dying at a tremendous rate from some unknown lung diseases. We’re talking here about 75 percent mortality in some cases. It wasn’t until the late 19th century that the principal disease was diagnosed and found to be lung cancer. At that time, lung cancer was virtually unknown among the surrounding population; yet these miners were experiencing in some cases up to 50 percent lung cancer mortality. The other lung ailments were not lung cancer, but other types of debilitating lung damage.

By the 1930s it had been established that this epidemic of lung cancer and other lung diseases was caused by breathing radioactive materials in the atmosphere of the mine. In animal experiments, radon gas was identified as the main killer.

Uranium finally acquired commercial value in 1942, when we discovered that we could make atomic bombs with it. Only then did we start mining uranium for itself and not as a byproduct of something else. A few years earlier, in 1938, it was discovered that uranium is not only radioactive, it is also fissionable, which makes it unique among all naturally occurring radioactive materials. When uranium atoms undergo the fission process, large amounts of energy are released. Unlike the process of radioactive decay, which cannot be turned on and off, nuclear fission can be controlled. The energy release caused by fission can be speeded up, slowed down, started or stopped. It can be used to destroy cities in the form of nuclear weapons, or to boil water inside a nuclear reactor.

Suddenly, uranium was in demand. We sent miners into the mines in North America at a permissible level of radiation exposure which was comparable to the levels that those miners in the Erz mountains had been getting back in the 19th century. And of course, the results were entirely predictable: an epidemic of lung cancer and other lung diseases. One has to ask therefore: Why were these consequences not predicted and prevented?

Radon Daughters

The answer is, in part, that the scientists refused to believe that such a small amount of radon gas could cause such a huge increase in cancer. As it turns out, the scientists were wrong. One of the basic things they overlooked, is that if you take a sample of radon gas — right now, if I filled a tube with radon gas in front of your eyes, and measured the radiation in that tube — within three hours, the level of radioactivity would increase by a factor of about five. Why?

As the radon atoms disintegrate, they produce other radioactive substances. And so, in fact, you have a multiplication of new radioactive materials which weren’t there to begin with. This is one of the things the scientists overlooked. So that when the miners go into a mine where the radon has been collecting for several hours, it’s five times as radioactive as radon in the laboratory. And those other substances — the radon daughters — are extremely dangerous. The worst of the radon daughters, by the way, is a substance called polonium — the same polonium that Marie Curie discovered so many years ago. Recent scientific evidence shows that polonium is, in many circumstances, at least as toxic as plutonium, and in some cases more toxic.

Nuclear Fission

Now, what is that property that made uranium commercially valuable? It’s called fissionability. More precisely, uranium is called a “fissile” material. Let me explain what that means.

Yes, uranium atoms are radioactive, and so they will disintegrate if you just leave them alone; but what happens if you poke them? What happens if you bombard uranium atoms with tiny particles called neutrons? It turns out that in that case, you can force a much more violent disintegration of the atom, which is called fission. When fission occurs, the uranium atom doesn’t just disintegrate, it actually breaks apart into two or three large chunks. In the process it gives off some extra neutrons, and it also gives off about 400 times as much energy as is produced by a radioactive disintegration event.

Now, the fact that fission is triggered by a neutron makes it quite different from normal radioactivity. Radioactivity is not triggered, and therefore science does not know how to control it. We have no mechanism for speeding up, slowing down, starting or stopping radioactivity. That’s why radioactive wastes are such a problem. But with fission, we can start it, stop it, and control it, just by maintaining control over the extra neutrons that are produced at each stage. Starting with just one neutron, we can split one uranium atom, and the extra neutrons can go on to split two more uranium atoms, giving even more neutrons which can then split four atoms, which can then split eight atoms, and so on. In this way, forty quintillion uranium atoms can be split with only sixty generations of splittings, all triggered by a single neutron. [A quintillion is a billion billion, or a million million million.] This whole “chain reaction”, as it is called, takes place in less than a thousandth of a second. That is really what constitutes the atomic bomb.

Fission Products

You may now realize that all of the radioactive materials which escape from an atomic bomb when it explodes, are basically the broken bits of uranium atoms. These are new radioactive materials, called “fission products”, which are created by the splitting of uranium atoms. There are hundreds of them. They all have different names, and different chemical and biologically properties. Most of them did not exist in nature before the advent of nuclear technology.

You see, uranium travels in many disguises. In every sample of uranium ore, one finds radium — but radium is, in a certain sense, just a transformation of uranium. Speaking loosely, one could say that it is a disguised form of uranium. It is just one of the many elements in the chain of decay. Similarly with polonium. Similarly with radon gas. These are all just different manifestations of uranium, so to speak, resulting from radioactive decay.

And similarly with the fallout from atomic bombs; all those radioactive materials which are released by nuclear explosions — such as iodine-131, strontium-90, cesium-137, krypton-85, and all the rest — they are all broken bits of uranium atoms. They are additional disguises for uranium, resulting from nuclear fission.

The radioactive poisons that were released from the Chernobyl reactor are also broken bits of uranium atoms. Incidentally, 80 percent of the total radiation dose delivered by the Chernobyl accident worldwide was caused by the escape of just a couple of kilograms of radioactive materials from the damaged nuclear plant. It doesn’t take much…. To this day, the sheep in Wales are unsuitable for human consumption because of contamination by one particular by-product of the Chernobyl accident called cesium-137. But every atom of cesium-137 from Chernobyl started out as an atom of uranium.

These radioactive materials, which are called fission products — the ones in the bomb fallout and which in nuclear reactors — should not be confused with the other radioactive materials I told you about earlier, which are the decay products of uranium. The decay products of uranium are due to radioactive disintegration. They are about two dozen in number, and they occur in nature because uranium does. When you talk about fission products, however, you are dealing with completely different substances. They are created only inside nuclear weapons or nuclear reactors. They are the leftover pieces of uranium atoms which have been violently broken apart by the fission process. There are over 300 of them altogether, when you consider that — being radioactive — each of the fission products also has its own decay products!

Health Effects of Radioactive Materials

And so this one material, uranium, is responsible for introducing into the human environment a tremendously large range of radioactive materials which are all very inimical to biological organisms. These are not invisible rays, they are materials. They get into our water, our food, and the air we breathe. They’re exactly like other materials except for the fact that they’re radioactive.

Take, for instance, radioactive iodine. It behaves just like ordinary iodine, which is not radioactive. Why is there iodine in our table salt? Well, it’s one of the few examples of preventative medicine we have. The iodine, when it’s eaten in the table salt, goes to the thyroid gland, and there it helps to prevent a disease of the thyroid gland called “goiter”. Radioactive iodine does exactly the same thing. If a child or an adult gets radioactive iodine in the diet, the radioactive iodine goes to the thyroid too, and it also helps to prevent goiter. But while it’s there, the atoms explode, and the shrapnel rips through the cells of the body, and in the process breaks thousands of chemical bonds randomly.

It’s like throwing a grenade into a computer. The probability of getting an improvement in a computer by throwing a grenade into it is very small, and similarly with radiation events and human cells. Now, the cells that die are really no problem, as long as not too many of them die. They can be replaced. The ones that are particularly dangerous are the ones that survive. Those damaged cells can develop into cancers. You can also have damage to germ cells — eggs and sperm — leading to genetically damaged children, grandchildren, or great-grandchildren.

As Alice Stewart mentioned in her talk, there are two categories of human illness that everyone agrees can be caused by exposure to atomic radiation even at very low levels. They are (1) cancers of all kinds, and also (2) genetic mutations — which can be caused right down to the lowest levels of radiation exposure. Most scientists believe that these harmful effects are linearly related to the dose, so that if the dose is doubled, the number of cancers and genetic defects will also be doubled, and if the dose is cut in half, only half as many cancers and genetic defects will be seen. It is important to realize that if a damaging dose is spread out among a very large population, so that each individual receives only a very small portion of the total dose, the number of cancers and genetic defects is in no way diminished. Thus, in the case of radioactive pollution, dilution is no solution at all.

However, there is one other effect of radiation at low levels which wasn’t mentioned in the previous talk, and I would like to just mention it here. It has now been confirmed by the scientific community — only in recent years, by the way — that mental retardation is caused by radiation exposure in the womb. This type of biological damage also seems to be linear, that is, proportional to dose, right down to the lowest levels of exposure. There doesn’t seem to be any cut-off point. And so we have now discovered yet a third category of documented and scientifically accepted harmful effects of radiation and that is mental retardation in children who were irradiated while still in the womb.

Uranium Tailings

Now, if I could just wrap up, I have to tell you something extremely important. The title of my talk was “Known facts and hidden dangers”. I’ve told you a bit about the known facts. Now for at least one of the hidden dangers.

When we extract uranium from the ground, we dig up the rock, we crush it and we leave behind this finely pulverized material — it’s like flour. In Canada we have 200 million tons of this radioactive waste, called uranium tailings. As Marie Curie observed, 85 percent of the radioactivity in the ore remains behind in that crushed rock. How long will it be there? Well, it turns out that the effective half-life of this radioactivity is 80,000 years. That means in 80,000 years there will be half as much radioactivity in these tailings as there is today.

You know, that dwarfs the entire prehistory of the Salzburg region which goes way back to ancient, ancient times. Even archaeological remains date back no further than 80,000 years. We don’t have any records of human existence going back that far. That’s the half-life of this material.

And as these tailings are left on the surface of the earth, they are blown by the wind, they are washed by the rain into the water systems, and they inevitably spread. Once the mining companies close down, who is going to look after this material forever? How does anyone, in fact, guard 200 million tons of radioactive sand safely forever, and keep it out of the environment?

In addition, as the tailings are sitting there on the surface, they are continually generating radon gas. Radon is about eight times heavier than air, so it stays close to the ground. It’ll travel 1,000 miles in just a few days in a light breeze. And as it drifts along, it deposits on the vegetation below the radon daughters, which are the radioactive byproducts that I told you about, including polonium. So that you actually get radon daughters in animals, fish and plants thousands of miles away from where the uranium mining is done. It’s a mechanism for pumping radioactivity into the environment for millennia to come, and this is one of the hidden dangers.


All uranium ends up as either nuclear weapons or highly radioactive waste from nuclear reactors. That’s the destiny of all the uranium that’s mined. And in the process of mining the uranium we liberate these naturally occurring radioactive substances, which are among the most harmful materials known to science. Couple this with the thought that nuclear technology never was a solution to any human problem. Nuclear weapons do not bring about a sane world, and nuclear power is not a viable answer to our energy problems. We don’t even need it for electricity. All you need for conventional electricity generation is to spin a wheel, and there’s many ways of doing it: water power, wind power, geothermal power, etc. In addition, there are other methods for producing electricity directly: solar photovoltaics, fuel cells, and so on. What we have here, in the case of nuclear power, from the very beginning, is a technology in search of an application.

So, I think that we as a human community have to come to grips with this problem and say to ourselves and to others that enough is enough. We do not want to permanently increase our radiation levels on this planet. We have enough problems already.

Thank you.

Credit: http://www.ccnr.org/salzburg.html

Justin Trudeau and wife strike a pose is going to be featured on Vogue magazine

Justin Trudeau and his wife Sophie in a photo from the January 2016 issue of Vogue magazine. (Norman Jean Roy/Vogue)

On the glossy pages usually reserved for movie stars and fashion models, a Canadian politician is making his mark on America’s media scene.

American fashion magazine Vogue is featuring Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and wife Sophie Grégoire-Trudeau in a profile and photo spread in its January issue.

An online version of the piece posted Wednesday was the most-shared story on the magazine’s website.

With peppered references to the Kennedys and the British royal family, the piece opens on the fan frenzy that greeted Trudeau on the day of his swearing-in ceremony.

Introducing him as the “new young face of Canadian politics,” John Powers’ profile traces Trudeau’s roots as the son of “the most glamorous PM their country has known” and “a leader known equally for brains and sex appeal,” up to meeting Grégoire-Trudeau, and eventually carving his own path on Canada’s political scene.

Justin Trudeau photographed in Ottawa.
Justin Trudeau in a photo from the January issue of Vogue magazine.

Online reaction to the story and the photos was mixed, with some praising the PM for elevating Canada’s exposure on the world stage and showing some personality, particularly in the gripping portrait of husband and wife embracing.

Others took issue with the choice of a non-Canadian designer for Grégoire-Trudeau’s dress and questioned whether a sit-down with an American fashion magazine was the best way for a prime minister to spend his first days in office.

Those who believe Prime Minister Justin Trudeau puts style over substance are directed to the forthcoming issue of Vogue.

Trudeau and his wife Sophie Grégoire-Trudeau took time from their schedules after his swearing-in last month for a photo shoot with the high-end fashion magazine. The pictures accompany a survey piece on Trudeau and his election victory, which describes him as “strikingly young and wavy-haired,” looking “dashing in his blue suit and jaunty brown shoes.”

In one black-and-white photo, Trudeau looks off-camera in a manner certain to evoke comparison to Zoolander. In another photo, Trudeau embraces his wife, who is clad in an Oscar de la Renta dress valued at $5,700. (He’s wearing a plain blue shirt — his own.) As Trudeau’s Twitter loyalists were quick to point out — and the Prime Minister’s Office confirmed — the frock was provided by Vogue. “As we’ve said many times, the Prime Minister engages regularly with many different kinds of media,” PMO spokesman Kate Purchase explained in an email.

The Vogue spread continues the tsunami of fashion industry coverage that Grégoire-Trudeau has enjoyed. The focus on her wardrobe has generated valuable publicity for those who employ her friend and stylist, Jessica Mulroney (the former prime minister’s daughter-in-law) and Trudeau’s half-sister, Ally Kemper.

It does not look like Mulroney had a hand in styling this shoot, though. The magazine credits their image to two professional stylists from the U.S., with and hair and makeup artists brought in to groom the couple.

We could soon be reading more about the Vogue feature in another source: the website of federal Ethics Commissioner Mary Dawson.

The PMO pledged that Trudeau would report any loans of fashion items to his wife in the MP’s conflict-of-interest report he is required to file with Dawson’s office.

Credit: https://www.thestar.com/news/canada/2015/12/09/justin-trudeau-makes-a-splash-in-vogue-magazine.html

Credit: http://news.nationalpost.com/news/canada/trudeaus-hit-the-pages-of-vogue-dont-worry-sophies-5700-dress-is-a-loaner

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