The Saturday Word: Nuclear Fallout

Please read article, cited after the quote. Articles open in a new window.

World leaders head back home this morning after an unusually dramatic Group of 20 summit that included sharp warnings to Iran after the disclosure that the nation is building a secret underground plant to manufacture nuclear fuel.

The Times’s Mark Mazzetti, David Sanger and William J. Broad detail the events leading to President Obama’s announcement and the international response in two front page stories this morning. Publicizing the program, which intelligence officials said they discovered years ago, proved a long-sought leverage against Tehran allowing Mr. Obama to demand Wednesday that the country permit highly intrusive international inspections.

http://thecaucus.blogs.nytimes.com/2009/09/26/saturday-word/

Denver American Indian Commission: Transform Columbus Day

This was originally posted by Brenda Norrell at http://bsnorrell.blogspot.com/

Denver American Indian Commission: Transform Columbus Day

From the Denver American Indian Commission:

The Denver American Indian Commission believes the city’s rich community of diverse tribes deserves a proactive change most of us can agree on — that rapidly approaching Columbus Day could be transformed into a day to honor our all of cultures and values. Only in recent years and in some places has the holiday become a tribute to Indian America, but the DAIC believes our Denver community could join the growing chorus of tribal nations and other Native and non-Native entities that choose to honor the continent’s original residents and its vital, pre-1492 history. We feel this is an opportunity we can’t take lightly.
Our present and future generations view their culture and themselves as being directly affected by how we celebrate our history. As it stands, the holiday reinforces the inaccurate notion that North America came into being in 1492, when “uncivilized” Native inhabitants appeared only to play a short-lived role in the founding myth, and soon vanished into history.
With growing, abundant evidence of complex pre-Columbian cultures in North as well as South America, we want to restore our ancestral tribal nations to the dignity they deserve. Therefore, the DAIC is joining a growing number of tribes and nations, like the sentiment of the 10,000-member Mississippi Band of Choctaw Indians that this year voted unanimously to replace recognition of Columbus Day with a day to commemorate the cultural and religious center of Choctaw life.
“For Native Americans, Columbus Day should not be a day of celebration,” said Mississippi Band Chief (Miko) Beasley Denson. “His arrival on our shores marked the beginning of centuries of exploitation of our people and our land. Much better that we should celebrate our rich culture and our traditions.”The following have eliminated, replaced or changed Columbus Day, according to media and internet information: Navajo Nation, Confederated Tribes of the Colville Reservation, Tohono O’odham Nation, Saginaw Chippewa Tribe of Michigan, Jicarilla Apache Tribe, and Gila River Indian Community; Cities of Berkeley, Portland, and Duluth; the states of Alaska, South Dakota, Hawaii, Nevada, and Alabama, and several colleges and universities, including Brown University, Rhode Island.
Although Cherokee and Muscogee (Creek) nations’ tribal offices remain open on the holiday, the Osage Nation and United Keetoowah Band’s tribal offices close and the tribes refer to the day as Osage Day and Native American Day, respectively. As an organization, the Native American Rights Fund does not observe Columbus Day as a holiday. The 350-member Gathering of Indigenous People in the Americas since 1992 has referred to the day as the International Day of Solidarity with Indigenous People.
The DAIC supports and joins the Episcopal Church in repudiating the Doctrine of Discovery, an inadequate excuse offered by the early Christian Church for the brutal Colombian invasion and theft of Native homelands. The Doctrine is also the basis for subsequent laws and policies that damage Native North America today.
Let us join the many tribes and nations that have already made positive changes in their communities.

Sioux leaders work on Black Hills Land proposal for Omama

Please read article, cited after the quote. Articles open in a new window.

Sympathetic signs from President Barack Obama have inspired hope among Sioux spiritual and government leaders that some federal land in the Black Hills might one day be returned to Native American control.

Leaders for Sioux tribes in the Dakotas, Montana and Nebraska are holding meetings to shape a proposal on Black Hills land for the Obama administration, one they hope will be better than the U.S. Supreme Court ruling in 1980. That forced settlement was about millions of dollars, not acres of land, and it has consistently been rejected by tribes of the Great Sioux Nation.

http://www.rapidcityjournal.com/articles/2009/09/25/news/local/doc4abc1f16d8281841431807.txt

Latest guest blog – the Chernobyl Children’s Project

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Linda Walker, from the Chernobyl Children’s Project (UK), reveals the ongoing legacy of the world’s worst nuclear disaster. Almost 24 years on, time has not been a healer for those living in the regions most heavily affected by radiation.

In Belarus, the country which received the heaviest fall-out, those who were babies or very young children at the time of the accident are now having children of their own. In many cases their babies are born with genetic defects. For some, babies who appear to be healthy at birth are soon afterwards diagnosed with cancer or leukaemia.

However, it is very difficult to get hold of statistics on these and many other health problems. Not only does the government of Belarus prefer to give the impression that all is well, but the attachment to nuclear power by governments across the world has resulted in little enthusiasm for researching or publicising the ongoing effects of the accident. And the recent resurgence of nuclear power has brought about redoubled effort to show that the only real health consequences have been psychological, contemptuously referred to as ‘radiophobia’.

Widespread Health Impacts

Work on the ground, however, tells a different story. 800,000 people, known as liquidators, were involved in the clean up after the accident. According to the ‘Chernobyl Union’ of liquidators about 60,000 of their number have since died and many more suffer health problems and disabilities.

The United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) have analysed health statistics in Belarus and found increases between 1990 and 1994 of between 30 and 60% in a wide range of illnesses – cardiovascular, gastrointestinal, and disorders of the bones or nervous system.

In the 1990’s, scientists in Belarus looked at the build up of radiocaesium in the organs of the body, particularly the heart, and concluded that this could account for the recorded rises in heart disease in both children and adults.

It has also been reported that the incidence of juvenile-onset diabetes is markedly higher in the contaminated parts of the country, compared to the period before the accident. In the scientific literature, it has been suggested that this could be a consequence of exposure of the pancreas to radioactive iodine. Certainly the Association of Parents of Diabetic children in Gomel, Belarus, believe that their children are likely to have been affected by radiation.

Thyroid Cancer & Leukaemia

But far and away the most obvious and widespread health problem in the early years after the accident  was thyroid cancer. In the ten years before 1986, just seven children contracted thyroid cancer in Belarus. Within four years of the accident, this level had risen by 30 times. But it was not until 1995 that the World Health Organisation (WHO) officially recognised the link between radiation from Chernobyl and thyroid cancer.

It was the Gomel Region which was most heavily affected by the fallout of Iodine-131 and children under 4 years old ingested the highest doses. The greatest number of thyroid cancers have occurred in this region and the WHO has predicted that one third of all the children from the area around Gomel aged between 0 and 4 at the time of the accident will develop thyroid cancer during their lifetime.

But thyroid cancer has been largely dismissed as unimportant by the nuclear community because it is very unusual for anyone to die from it. If your child contracted a disease which meant that he would have to have a major operation and then take hormones every day for the rest of his life, you would not consider this unimportant.

Leukaemia statistics have been the most controversial of all the health effects of the accident. In the Gomel region, an increase in leukaemia cases of about 50% compared to the period before the disaster, was recorded in both children and adults, in the early years following the accident, according to the clinics responsible.

When I first visited Belarus in 1995, doctors in Gomel told me of significant rises in leukaemia. Yet just two or three years later they were saying that there was no rise. I have never been able to establish whether there was an initial rise, which later levelled out, or whether doctors were instructed to play down the effects.

Genetic Defects & Childhood Disability

Whilst it is impossible to establish whether any particular child has been affected by Chernobyl, it is clear that the fall-out was responsible for a considerable rise in the numbers of disabled children.

The rapidly dividing cells of a foetus are particularly prone to damage from radiation. Within a short time after the nuclear disaster, a sharp increase in reproductive disorders – predominantly affecting pregnancy – was seen in Ukraine and Belarus. For the 1986-1990 period, the Ministry of Health in Ukraine recorded an increased number of miscarriages, premature births and stillbirths, as well as three times the normal rate of deformities and developmental abnormalities in newborns.

In 2001 the Belarusian Ministry of Statistics stated that there had been a 60% rise in the number of children deemed to be disabled over the previous seven years.

And in the same year Vladislav Ostapenko, head of Belarus’ radiation medicine institute, told a news conference: “It is clear that we are seeing genetic changes, especially among those who were less than six years of age when subjected to radiation. These people are now starting families.” Ostapenko said that within seven years of the accident, mortality rates were outstripping birth rates.

Girls in affected areas had five times the normal rate of deformations in their reproductive systems and boys three times the norm. Each year, 2,500 births were recorded with genetic abnormalities and five hundred pregnancies were terminated after abnormalities were found during testing.

How We Are Helping

Chernobyl Children’s Project (UK) brings diabetic children for recuperative holidays in the UK every summer and also helps the association to fund the purchase of test strips and other support for their families.

We also bring many children in remission from cancer for holidays, with a special focus on two age groups, the very young and older teenagers. When a mother has been through the trauma of supporting her toddler through chemo or radiotherapy, they are both very much in need of a holiday when they come out the other side. Children of four to seven years old travel with their mums for four week holidays which give them both the recuperation they need.

Children who develop cancer at 12 or 13 years old are well enough to travel about two years later. By this time they are beyond the age when most charities will invite them. We bring young people up to 19 years of age, who get a tremendous psychological boost as well as the other health benefits from their holiday in Britain.

We work closely with the Belarusian Children’s Hospice, which supports children whose cancer treatment has failed, but also have in its care many babies and young children with genetic anomalies. Much of our work is in support of children with disabilities, with projects aimed at helping to improve the social and educational opportunities for children and young people with special needs.

Continuing Need

The line taken by governments and UN agencies today tends to be that there are no significant ongoing health effects from Chernobyl. It is possible for scientists to insist that there is no proof that radiation has affected the rate or severity of any illnesses because in recent years there have been no serious studies to settle the matter one way or the other.

For those of us working in Belarus and supporting its children, it is clear that the shadow of Chernobyl will hang over them for many years to come.  www.chernobyl-children.org.uk

After working for ten years for CND in Manchester, Linda Walker worked with the City Council to organise an International Peace Festival in 1994. As a direct result of that festival, Chernobyl Children’s Project (UK) was launched the following year. Linda has been its National Co-ordinator ever since and makes regular trips to Belarus to supervise the many projects the charity runs there to improve the lives of children and their families.

I’m really pleased that Linda took the time to write this piece for the Tenner Films site. It’s a moving first-hand testament to the continuing effects of the Chernobyl meltdown and I encourage you to read it and distribute it.

take care and I’ll be in touch with more film-related updates soon (the animation is taking shape nicely!),
Vicki
Tenner Films
26 Richborne Terrace, London, SW8 1AU
020 7735 0807
07939 061006
www.tennerfilms.com
Vicki Lesley Ltd. Registered in England & Wales No: 5746681

Cause Announcement from Dooda (No) Desert Rock

Cause Announcement from Dooda (No) Desert Rock

GREAT NEWS folks: US EPA Environmental Appeals Board Remands PSD Permit for the desert rock energy project! Celebration information coming forth! Here’s another opportunity for you to contribute to DDR, we need your help!

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
September 25, 2009

Contact: Elouise Brown, Dooda (NO) Desert Rock Committee President, (505) 947-6159

DOODA (NO) DESERT ROCK RELIEF AT US EPA ENVIRONMENTAL APPEALS BOARD PSD PERMIT DECISION
“We are relieved to hear that the US EPA Environmental Appeals Board finally granted the agency’s request to take back the clean air permit for the failed Desert Rock Power Plant. It confirms our position that the initial permit grant was ill-considered and premature,” said Elouise Brown, President of Dooda Desert Rock. The organization, a grassroots Navajo effort to block a third coal-fired power plant in the Four Corners area, continues to resist and have a very active encampment for almost three years.

“The appeals board decision confirms our belief, echoed in the British news magazine The Economist, that Desert Rock is dead. Recent efforts in Congress to freeze the Environmental Protection Agency’s authority to deal with carbon dioxide as a pollutant shows that Big Coal also recognizes that polluting energy is on its way out. We have a specific reason for gratitude at the return of the permit,” Brown said.

“When the air permit was initially under consideration the San Francisco Region 9 US EPA office found a study that indicates that the two existing power plants are adversely affecting the health of Navajos in the Shiprock Area. Cold weather and the Hogback formation pull pollution down into Shiprock and that causes Navajos to seek medical treatment for respiratory illness at rates far higher than the rest of the population in the Four Corners area. Children and the elderly are affected at a rate of ten times the rest of the population. The EPA warned the Bureau of Indian Affairs about the situation and told it to act, but it did nothing. We want something done about existing health risks now.”

“While we believe that the power plant is dead, the debate continues. There are many issues to address, including the fact that ordinary Navajos would get no economic benefit from the plant because local infrastructure was ignored in planning. At minimum, we want the health issue addressed first, and in a way that satisfies us that the health of Navajos is being protected. If anyone doubts what is going on in Shiprock, just drive north toward Shiprock on a cold day.”

Blogging again

Sorry for the illness delay

gregor

President Obama with Shundahai Co-founder Mateo

Last May2009 Shundahai Co-founder Mateo was able to meet with President Obama. He discussed the CTBT and presented the president with the late Corbin Harney’s first book “One Air, One Water, One Mother Earth”