Friday, April 27, 2012



Dr. Gro Harlem Brundtland, former Prime Minister of Norway, former Director-General of the World Health Organization (WHO) and now a member of The Elders—an independent group of global leaders brought together by Nelson Mandela—gave the keynote presentation on Thursday April 19, 2012 on the occasion of the Opening for the new School of Public Health and Health Systems at the University of Waterloo.
Dr. Brundtland spoke about her training and experience as a physician, in public health, as a Minister of the Environment and later as the first female Prime Minister of Norway and as the head of the WHO. She talked about problems with global health issues including the SARS epidemic and how health authorities and governments around the world put aside their differences and came together quickly to avert a potential global disaster.  She spoke about malaria, AIDS, water quality issues, childhood poverty and other illness associated primarily with developing countries.
During her presentation, Dr. Brundtland’s cell phone rang.  She paused the presentation and removed her phone from her purse to check to see who was calling. She told us the call was from Oslo and that she would tell us more about it at the reception.  She held up the phone and said that it was a Blackberry and acknowledged that the phone was invented at Waterloo, the city where she was giving her talk. She then placed her Blackberry on the podium and continued her presentation.
Dr. Brundtland’s response to her cell phone was most unusual, especially after repeated requests–prior to her presentation–for everyone to turn their cell phone off.  Few speakers would take the trouble to find their phone, draw attention to the caller and the manufacturer’s relationship with the university.  Some members of the audience believe the cell phone call was staged
At the end of Dr. Brundtland’s talk, the moderator said we had time for 5 questions from the audience. The first question was about arsenic problems in Bangladesh.
I raised my hand and asked the second question.
Dr. Brundtland, my name is Magda Havas and I’m a professor at Trent University. I work with people who have electrohypersensitivity. In this age of growing exposure to wireless technology and constantly increasing levels of exposure to radiofrequency radiation, what advice do you have for the University of Waterloo and for the rest of Canada and for those who are or will become electrohypersensitive.
She paused for a few moments and then went on to explain a health issue that has caused a lot of controversy in her life.
Dr. Brundtland said, 
“Based on your question, I assume you know that I am electrically sensitive. I never place a mobile phone next to my head because in one second I would develop a bad headache. I use the phone in speaker mode,” 
and she demonstrated with her cell phone, holding it away from her head.
“I answered truthfully to media regarding my sensitivity to mobile phones. My story was written up in a Norwegian paper,”
She cautioned about the overuse of cell phones and went on to explain how she became allergic to microwave radiation.
”Let me tell you how I became electrically sensitive.  In my case, it was an accident with a microwave oven. While making lunch for my husband and myself, I placed some food in the microwave oven on a plate that had blue flowers. The plate began to spark, and foolishly, I went closer to have a look.  My eyes were damaged and I was blinded for one year.  I still have poor eyesight. It turned out that the flowers were made of cobalt blue paint and we know not to put metal into a microwave oven. This happened only two months after I become Director-General of the World Health Organization. I had researched before putting a microwave oven in my home and had convinced myself that it would not be dangerous—which was not correct.

From that incident I became electrically sensitive. I have been heavily criticized as scaring people from using cell phones because I told the truth about my illness.

This is important. We are exposed to different technologies of a new nature. I am frustrated that I was unable to sound the alarm fully.  A sentence in an instruction book—where you do not explain the danger of radiofrequency—is not good public health and consumer policy.  I became electrically sensitive and have been criticized because I can scare the public.  We know they are not inert and there are potential consequences. People who have electrical sensitivity show that we do take some risk.  Until we know more, we cannot say this is no problem.”
In the end, Dr. Brundtland said that people who say they are electrically sensitive are not taken seriously. Her final words to the audience were, 
“Let your children have a mobile phone all day? NO!”
Those of us in the audience, who were familiar with her background, appreciated her honesty. The question period was terminated.
The entire session was videotaped but it is unlikely that her answer will appear because Waterloo is the birthplace for RIM (Research In Motion)—the inventor of the BlackBerry and a key player in wireless technology.  Indeed, Dr. Brundtland’s honest response was probably a wee bit embarrassing to this high-tech university.
The press, who were there during her presentation and interviewed her afterwards, did not give any information about her answers after her presentation.
At the reception following her speech, in a private conversation Dr. Brundtland asked one of the attendees how he became electrohypersensitive (EHS).  They discussed how the environment needs to be modified to reduce electrosmog exposure in order to protect health.  They also discussed how difficult it is to make these modifications due to logistics, costs, and lack of understanding within the public health arena
Ever since “Our Common Future” (commonly referred to as the Brundtland report on sustainable development) was published, I have been an admirer of this remarkable woman who is not afraid to speak the truth, knowing that people like Michael Repacholi will attack her no matter what she says.
Indeed, the personal attacks resumed several weeks ago and seem totally unprovoked.  I wonder why Repacholi feels it is necessary to criticize his former boss?  Expect he is still protecting his friends in the telecom industry, which is what he did when he worked for the WHO.
I recall attending a meeting that Dr. Repacholi organized at the University of Ottawa quite a few years ago. It was attended by a small group of people from the federal government, industry representatives and experts mostly from Canada.
Repacholi stated that he was disappointed that countries were not following WHO’s lead in establishing radiofrequency radiation (RFR) guidelines. He said that different guidelines just lead to confusion and risk for the credibility of the WHO.  I stood up and said that countries would follow the WHO but the WHO is failing to lead.
Later Repacholi asked how we could prevent lawsuits against the cell phone industry. This question was most revealing. It was obvious that his concern was for the welfare of the telecom industry rather than the health and welfare of the world’s population.
I believe that Dr. Repacholi was once a good scientist but something happened along the road to the WHO.  Some lose their way and some, like Dr. Brundtland, become Elders—the wise among us—who are here to reduce pain and suffering and to bring social justice to the forefront of decision-making.
Her statement on the Elders is that:  
We are individuals who are speaking without any outside pressures.  In that context we can create the potential for change.
We need more people like her.
If Gandhi were still alive, he would be a member of The Elders.  Here is one of Gandhi’s quotes that fit the Brundtland/Repacholi situation.
“First they ignore you, then they ridicule you, then they fight you, then you win”–Mahatma Gandhi.
Thank you Dr. Brundtland for your honesty.
Note the “direct quotes” are drawn from memory and are not necessary verbatim.
Dr. Magda Havas is Associate Professor of Environmental and Resource Studies at Trent University (Canada) and she teaches and does research on the biological and health effects of electromagnetic energy.

Life Will Be Difficult for Cell Phone Fanatics in Udine, Italy

Life Will Be Difficult for Cell Phone Fanatics in Udine, Italy

The mayor of the capital of Friouli launches an operation to encourage its inhabitants to disconnect. 

Cell phones “harm health and ruin social relations.”    The mayor of Udine, in north-east Italy, has gone to war. His target:  the frenzied use of mobile phones by its 100,000 citizens.  Friday, he launched a campaign which invites tradespeople to ban use of “telefonini” in their establishment.  Sixteen bars, restaurants and hotels have already subscribed to “Cell phone-free, talking-free”, noted the “Corriere della Sera”.  The initiative comes from the elected official, Mario Canciani.  For this physician, as long as the harmlessness of waves to the brain has not been proven, it is necessary to protect citizens, especially children.
If the authorities do not intend to do so for now, imposing the switching off of cell phones in streets and parks will serve as an example.  The mayor, Furio Honsell, obliges his Municipal Council to disconnect.  Debates disturbed by ringing and beeps are over.  “I had to use my bell more often because of cell phones during discussions.  They were all fiddling on Facebook and Twitter, or sending SMS’s,” he sighs.

The anti-cell phone frenzy is spreading in Italy.  The rail company Trenitalia has just created “relax” cars where silence is the norm, an arrangement which the Swiss Railway (CFF) has renounced for second class.
(Translation from French of article in 20 Minutes Online, 23 April 2012.  Original text in French:

Les fanatiques du portable auront la vie dureLes fanatiques du portable auront la vie dure

La mairie de la capitale frioulane lance une opération originale pour encourager ses habitants à débrancher.

Selon la campagne, l’abus de mobile tue la convivialité. (Photo: afp/dr)
Les téléphones cellulaires «nuisent à la santé et ruinent les relations sociales». Le maire d’Udine, dans le nord-est de la Péninsule, est entré en guerre. Sa cible: l’utilisation forcenée du mobile par ses 100 0000 administrés. Vendredi, il a lancé une campagne qui invite les commerçants à interdire l’utilisation des «telefonini» dans leur établissement. Seize bars, restaurants et hôtels ont déjà souscrit à «Libres de cellulaire, libres de parler», note le «Corriere della Sera». L’initiative provient de l’élu Mario Canciani. Pour ce médecin, tant que l’innocuité des ondes sur le cerveau ne sera pas prouvée, il faut en protéger les citoyens – surtout les enfants.
Si les autorités n’envisagent pas, pour l’instant, d’imposer l’extinction des portables dans les rues ou les parcs, elles donnent l’exemple. Le maire, Furio Honsell, oblige son Conseil municipal à débrancher. Fini les débats perturbés par des sonneries et des bips. «J’ai dû utiliser ma clochette plus souvent à cause des mobiles qu’en raison des discussions. Ils étaient tous à bidouiller sur Facebook et Twitter, ou à envoyer des SMS», soupire-t-il.
A noter que la fronde antimobile s’étend en Italie. La compagnie de chemins de fer Trenitalia vient de créer des voitures «relax» où le silence est de rigueur. Un aménagement auquel les CFF ont renoncé pour leur 2e classe. 

'The biggest experiment of our species': With five billion mobile users in the world, conference calls for research into potential brain cancer risks

'The biggest experiment of our species': With five billion mobile users in the world, conference calls for research into potential brain cancer risks

  • Scientists at London conference call for independent research into potential links between using a mobile phone and brain cancer

  • Figures from ONS show 50 per cent increase in brain tumours since 1999

  • Studies 'are split 50/50' in conclusions, leaving the issue open for debate

  • But believers fear fall-out from the 'biggest technological experiment in the history of our species'

Close to the ear: Cancer scientists want a full investigation into the risks of using a mobile
Close to the ear: Cancer scientists want a full investigation into the risks of using a mobile

A scientific conference starting in London today will urge governments across the world to support independent research into the possibility that using mobile phones encourages the growth of head cancers.

The Children with Cancer conference will highlight figures just published by the Office of National Statistics, which show a 50 per cent increase in frontal and temporal lobe tumours between 1999 and 2009.

The ONS figures show that the incident rate has risen from two to three per 100,000 people since 1999, while figures from Bordeaux Segalen University show a one to two per cent annual increase in brain cancers in children.

Scientists and academics have long argued over the suggestion that radiation from mobile phones causes cancers. Those who believe there is a link say that - with five billion mobile phones being used worldwide - urgent research must be carried out to establish the risk.

But not everyone agrees. While governments, phone companies, and health agencies give precautionary advice about minimising mobile phone use, the Health Protection Agency is likely to conclude in a report due on Thursday that the only established risk when using a mobile is crashing a car due to being distracted by a call or text.

Professor Denis Henshaw, emeritus professor of human radiation effects at Bristol University, is opening the three-day conference in Westminster today.

He has previously advocated cigarette-style warnings on mobile phone packets and urges more independent research.
    Professor Henshaw said: 'Vast numbers of people are using mobile phones and they could be a time bomb of health problems - not just brain tumours, but also fertility, which would be a serious public health issue.

    'The health effects of smoking alcohol and air pollution are well known and well talked about, and it's entirely reasonable we should be openly discussing the evidence for this, but it is not happening.

    'We want to close the door before the horse has bolted.'

    Keeping track: There has been an increase in the number of child brain cancer sufferers, and the ONS has also spotted a rise in brain tumours
    Keeping track: There has been an increase in the number of child brain cancer sufferers, and the ONS has also spotted a rise in brain tumours

    The International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) rang alarm bells last year when it classified mobile phones as 'possibly carginogenic'.

    Professor Darius Leszczynski, of the Radiation and Nuclear Safety Authority in Finland, said: 'For the first time a very prominent evaluation report states it so openly and clearly: RF-EMF [radio frequency electromagnetic field] is possibly carcinogenic to humans.


    Speaker Dr Annie Sasco, from the Epidemiology for Cancer Prevention unit at Bordeaux Segalen University, will highlight the one to two per cent annual increase in brain cancers in children.
    She has concerns over the effect of radiation on children's brains.

    She said: 'If the penetration of the electromagnetic waves goes for four centimetres into the brain, four centimetres into the adult brain is just the temporal lobe.

    'There are not too many important functions in the temporal lobe - but in a child the more central brain structures are going to be exposed.

    'In addition kids have a skull which is thinner, less protective, they have a higher content of water in the brain, so there are many reasons that they absorb more of the same radiation.'

    Speaking to the Independent about the rise in brain cancer in children, she said: 'It’s not age, it’s too fast to be genetic, and it isn’t all down to lifestyle, so what in the environment can it be?

    ''We now live in an electro-smog and people are exposed to wireless devices that we have shown in the lab to have a biological impact.

    'It is totally unethical that experimental studies are not being done very fast, in big numbers, by independently funded scientists.

    'The industry is just doing their job, I am more preoccupied with the so called independent scientists and institutions saying there is no problem.'
    'One has to remember that IARC monographs are considered as "gold standard" in evaluation of carcinogenicity of physical and chemical agents.

    'If IARC says it so clearly then there must be sufficient scientific reason for it, or IARC would not put its reputation behind such claim.'

    However not everyone believes there is a significant risk from mobile phone radiation.

    Ken Foster, professor of bio-engineering at the University of Philadelphia, downplayed the IARC's classification.

    He is quoted on Science Based Medicine as saying: 'Saying that something is a "possible carcinogen" is a bit like saying that someone is a "possible shoplifter" because he was in the store when the watch was stolen.
    'The real question is what is the evidence that cell phones actually cause cancer, and the answer is - none that would persuade a health agency.'

    The Independent said the research is split almost 50:50 on whether mobile phones pose a health hazard or not, but pointed out research from Joel Moskowitz, director of the Center for Family and Community Health at the University of California, who said that the balance changes if funding sources are considered, with around three quarters of studies implying no health risks being funded by the mobile phone industry.

    He told the paper: 'The mantra that "we need more research" is true, but there is already enough evidence to warrant better safety information, tighter regulation, mass public education and independently funded research carried out by teams of specialists who are not beholden to industry.

    Conflicting views:
    'This is the largest technological experiment in the history of our species and we’re trying to bury our head in sand about the potential risks - risk we still know next to nothing about.'
    - Joel Moskowitz, University of California

    'Even if the risk is still only one in a million, with 5 billion phone users it means a lot of extra brain cancers.'
    - Professor Denis Henshaw
    'Saying that something is a "possible carcinogen" is a bit like saying that someone is a "possible shoplifter" because he was in the store when the watch was stolen.'
    - Professor Ken Foster
    'This is the largest technological experiment in the history of our species and we’re trying to bury our head in sand about the potential risks to cells, organs, reproduction, the immune system, behaviour, risks we still know next to nothing about.'

    Governments and mobile phone companies often play down the risks and the UK's Mobile Operators Association says there is 'no credible evidence of adverse health effects'.

    The Department of Health says: 'As a precaution children should only use mobile phones for essential purposes and keep all calls short. We keep all scientific evidence under review.'

    The NHS also advises children under 16 to minimise their use of mobile phones.

    The iPhone, Apple's smartphone which popularised mobile computing, comes with the advice that you should keep your phone at least 15mm away from your body at all times - which may come as a surprise to those who keep the phone in their pockets at all times.

    The guide that comes with the phone warns: 'When using the iPhone near your body for voice calls or wireless data transmissions over a cellular network, keep it at least 15mm away from the body, and only use carrying cases, belt clips or holders that do not have metal parts and that maintain at least 15mm separation between iPhone and the body.'
    Other guides, such as the one that comes with a BlackBerry, have similar warnings. The BlackBerry guide suggests that users, particularly pregnant women and teenagers, keep their phone 25mm from their body.


    A study held in Denmark last October compared medical records against phone records of around 358,000 people.

    They correlated the data to see how long people owned their phones, and how many of these people developed brain cancer. Some users had owned mobile phones for more than 20 years.

    In total, the group had owned their phones for '3.8 million years', and suffered 10,729 cases of tumours.

    When compared to the average population, they found no indication of 'dose-response' relation either by years since first subscription for a mobile phone or by anatomical location of the tumour - that is, in regions of the brain closest to where the handset is usually held to the head.

    They concluded 'there were no increased risks of tumours of the central nervous system, providing little evidence for a causal association'.
    Even the iPhone manual states that people should keep their phone away from close body contact
    Even the iPhone manual states that people should keep their phone away from close body contact

    The guide, almost ironically, also suggest that users 'reduce the amount of time spent on calls'.

    Professor Leszczynski will use the conference to urge for a stronger IARC classification - 'probably carginogenic'.

    He told the Independent: 'Since 2001 I have continuously spoken about the need for precautionary measures, especially for children. We have had enough evidence to call for that for a long time.'

    The conference will also discuss other reasons for childhood cancer, such as chemical toxins in the air, food and water, and infection and genetic effects.

    But the main message coming from the Children with Cancer conference is: more independent research is needed.

    Professor Denis Henshaw told the Independent: 'The public have a right to know this information.

    'We cannot and do not say there is a causal link between brain cancer and mobile phones, but we are right to consider them as one possible explanation for the increase and the public have the right to expect that this is properly investigated.

    'Even if the risk is still only one in a million, with 5 billion phone users, it means a lot of extra brain cancers.'

    Read more:

    Radioactive Japan: People Invited to Eat Cesium Beef from Iwate

    (Updated) #Radioactive Japan: People Invited to Eat Cesium Beef from Iwate

    (Update at the bottom)

    This is the copy of the printed version of Fukushima Minpo on April 25, 2012, a local newspaper in Fukushima:

    The reporter signs off as "Kyodo News", but reading the postscript part of the article it is clear that this is the original Fukushima Minpo article. It was probably fed to Kyodo News, as Fukushima Minpo is a member of Kyodo News.

    What does it say?

    The series title in the upper right corner: "New Happiness in Japan - Measure"

    The article title in the middle: "Think what "food safety" means"

    The subtitle of the article: "Cesium beef offered at an event"

    From this information, if you conjure up the image of the gist of the article as "OK, the happiness in Japan in post-Fukushima is to gladly eat beef known to contain radioactive cesium to help producers as long as it is measured and disclosed properly, and that's food safety", I'll give you an A.

    Quick translation (main article only, subject to revision later, maybe):
    It was quiet in the office district on Sunday. It was March 11 afternoon, one year anniversary of the disaster. Couples with children, middle-aged men in jeans were entering a 12-story public building off the busy streets in Shinjuku, Tokyo.

    On the tables in the kitchen that is used for cooking classes were the plates with hamburgers just cooked. Mitsuhiro Anada (age 40) told the people in the kitchen, "These contain 6 becquerels/kg [of radioactive cesium]. Please let me know if you don't want to eat them. We have also prepared cesium-free ones." About 30 people then sat at the table and started to eat.

    Mr. Anada is the head of "Mo-ton Family", a meat processing company located in the northern Iwate. The event, "Let's eat cesium beef" came about after calling the customers who buy ham, hamburger meat and sausages from his company by mail order.

    The main dishes are the hamburgers and beef stew made from the beef that had been detected with radioactive cesium. Both dishes tested far below the provisional safety limit (500 becquerels/kg [it was still the provisional safety limit in March this year]).

    "I wanted the consumers to think about what "food safety" means, by showing the number [of radioactive cesium measurement] and having them eat [the meat]", said Anada when asked why he held this event.

    Mr. Anada and his wife have run the company. They have avoided the beef from cattle fed with imported feed, and insisted on Iwate beef from free-grazing cattle. "Free-grazing cattle are safer, and the meat has richer taste." He made ham, and hamburgers without using chemical additives.

    But he received a call late September last year from a cattle farmer that he had dealings with. "Radioactive cesium has been detected from the beef. It's below the provisional safety limit, but what do you want to do?"

    In Iwate Prefecture, the shipment of beef was halted throughout the prefecture after radioactive cesium exceeding the provisional safety limit was found in the beef produced in the prefecture. After the shipment was resumed, the prefectural government started to conduct more thorough testing on shipment. Levels of cesium were non detectable in most beef, but the beef that Anada was planning to buy was found with cesium.

    Maybe it was the grass in the mountains that they ate. Sure enough, the grass was found with radioactive cesium. "My insistence on natural beef turned against me", said Anada. If he doesn't buy, this beef would be sold at a huge discount, distressing the cattle farmer with whom he had a long-standing relationship.

    Starting September, he bought the beef from three cows at a regular price. He sent the samples of the meat to a testing laboratory. The result was 10 to 60 becquerels/kg of radioactive cesium.

    "I wonder if my customers still buy." The freezer in Anada's factory was filled with boxes containing this beef.

    Thus ends the first installment of the series "New Happiness in Japan". It is hard not to guess what the next installments will be like. They will probably describe Anada's difficult decision to hold the event to educate the consumers, and grateful consumers who brought their own children to the event to learn what it means to be "safe" in the post-Fukushima Japan. And they lived happy ever after, the producer and the consumer, radioactive cesium or not.
    Something like that.
    Many Japanese people in Japan are shaking their heads in disbelief on learning about this event. They don't understand Mr. Anada, and they don't understand parents bringing their children to knowingly feed their children with cesium beef.

    Update 4/26/2012 (H/T reader JAnonymous)

    As I suspected above, the event was probably not free. The participants were probably charged 2,000 yen (US$25, 19 euro), if the Shinjuku event above was like the similar event in Iwate Prefecture.

    From the flyer of the Iwate event in January this year by Mr. Anada:

    I'm sending this email to people who shouldn't be eating cesium beef, but we are also preparing cesium-free meal, so be comforted. (laugh)

    I have no idea what's so funny about it. Mr. Anada ends the flyer by this remark:

    Resist the globalism that severs the local community! 

    In Japan, a Mothers Movement Against Nuclear Power

    In Japan, a Mothers Movement Against Nuclear Power

    The Fukushima disaster has brought a powerful new demographic to Japan's anti-nuclear movement: mothers.
    Tomoi Zeiner by Heidi Hutner
    Tomoi Zeimer and her adopted daughter. Photo Heidi Hutner
    Pregnant With Fear anti-nuclear rally and march in NYC, commemorating the one-year anniversary of the Fukushima disaster.
    On the one-year anniversary of the Fukushima nuclear disaster, Japanese women in New York City gathered for a rally they called Pregnant With Fear of Radiation. Protestors wore fake pregnant bellies, or carried posters with images of pregnant women wearing face masks.
    Well aware that fetuseschildren under five, and women are at the greatest risk from radiation exposure, mothers have emerged as a powerful voice in Japan’s growing anti-nuclear movement.
    To call attention to their message, the mothers have organized marches, petitioned government officials, fasted, and held months-long sit-ins in public locations. They regularly wear symbols of maternity and motherhood in deliberately confrontational ways.
    The mothers call for action on multiple fronts. Most immediately, they demand the evacuation of all the families of Fukushima, where radiation emissions continue. They ask for tougher safety standards for food and drink in Japan, and an end to the practice of spreading and burning radioactive rubble from the contaminated zone throughout the country’s various prefectures. And, to prevent future disasters, they call for the permanent closure of all nuclear power plants in Japan and throughout the world. 

    “I couldn’t wait anymore for someone else to take action.”

    The rise of maternal anti-nuclear activism in Japan began shortly after the March 11, 2011 disaster, when the hundreds of thousands of residents of Fukushima living outside the 20-kilometer evacuation zone were told if was safe to stay. Soon after the plant failed, the Japanese government raised the maximum limit of radiation considered safe, from 1mSv (millesieverts) prior to March 11 to 20mSv. This new measure exposed (and exposes) the people of Fukushima to doses 20 times higher than is normally considered safe.
    According to mother and activist Kaori Izumi, gender plays into responses to this precarious situation. Often, mothers and women want to leave Fukushima and protect their kids, while men tend to accept the line, from the government and the utility, Tepco, that “all is safe.” This can lead to conflict in a culture where women are taught not to challenge their husbands or government, figures of authority. 
    Many worried mothers leave Fukushima with their children while fathers remain behind. “Often husbands don’t want to support two households and they tell the wives to come back to Fukushima, or they’ll stop sending them money,” says Izumi. “As a result, we’re seeing an increase in divorce rates.” 
    Izumi recounts her own story as a mother-activist. “I was not an activist before Fukushima. I’m a social scientist by training. I kept waiting for someone else to do something, to act, to challenge the government and Tepco for these crimes. Then I couldn’t wait anymore for someone else to take action. I had to do something.”
    So, Izumi hit the streets, and during protest rallies, met other mothers working for justice. She brought several lawsuits against the nuclear industry at her own expense. She also organized a vacation program to house Fukushima families during school breaks, so children can gain some relief from radiation exposure—even if only for short periods. Now, she heads up a group working to permanently shut down the Tomari nuclear plant.

    Radiation, rubble, and relocation

    "Americans must learn from the Fukushima disaster. You must shut down your own plants, 23 of which are the same design as the Fukushima reactors... Yes, it can happen here.”  
    Tomoi Zeimer, a Japanese mother living in New York City, and her two sisters in Osaka (both of them also mothers), began anti-nuclear activism after Prime Minister Noda’s requirement that prefectures throughout Japan accept and incinerate radioactive rubble so that all of Japan would “share the pain” of Fukushima. In response to Noda’s decision, Zeimer began a petition campaign to stop the spreading of radioactive rubble. Mothers delivered this petition on November 2, 2011 to Japanese consulates across the globe. 
    As the spreading of rubble continues, more and more women throughout the world have joined the fight (their petition is here). Here is a map showing the current status of the rubble spreading and burning.
    Many activist mothers worry about their children’s health and feel they must leave the country. Ikuko Nitta left Fukushima the day after the disaster at her 12-year-old son’s insistence; they moved to Wakayama, believing it to be safe. When Wakayama agreed to accept rubble and incinerate it, Nitta began to make plans to move to Canada. When she recently tested her children’s radiation levels, her son tested positive for Cesium 137. Where the contamination came from, Nitta does not know, as they left Fukushima so quickly and she monitors the children’s food very carefully.
    Cathy Iwane, a Wakayama mother who led the recent fight to stop the spreading of rubble to Wakayama, plans to immigrate to the United States. While she despairs about the Wakayama decision and worries about the children of Japan, she says the bonds she’s formed with women across the world, who support Japanese anti-nuclear activism, fill her with hope. 
    “I won’t give up,” Iwane says. “Not ever.”

    An opportunity

    The movement isn’t confined to Japan’s borders. In September, 2011, a group of Japanese mothers, including Sachiko Sato, an organic farmer who traveled with her youngest two children) Kaori Izumi, and Aileen Mioko Smith came to New York City to protest Prime Minister Noda’s participation in the UN summit on nuclear safety. “How can you talk about safety?” Sachiko shouted to Noda outside the UN. “You don’t even take care of the children of Fukushima.” 
    Sachiko, Izumi, and Smith spoke at various anti-nuclear events throughout the New York City area during their visit, urging American citizens to learn a lesson from the disaster in Japan.  At one event, Smith stated, “Many Americans live far too close to nuclear power plants that sit on earthquake fault lines—Indian Point in Buchanan, New York, only thirty or so miles from New York City, as well as those on the coast in California. Americans must learn from the Fukushima disaster. You must shut down your own plants, 23 of which are the same design as the Fukushima reactors, GE Mark I. Yes, it can happen here.”   
    In October 2011, hundreds of mothers in Japan began a protest in Tokyo at the Ministry of Economy, Trade, and Industry. The protest will last 10 months and 10 days (the length of time a pregnancy lasts under Japan’s traditional lunar calendar).
    Smith, who is executive director of Green Action, an anti-nuclear NGO based in Kyoto, says the Fukushima accident offers a chance to put an end to nuclear power. Most of Japan’s nuclear reactors were taken offline after the disaster; as of this writing, only one nuclear power plant remains online.
    Smith says, “For the first time in 30 years, we have a real opportunity” to shut down nuclear reactors in Japan for good.
    Heidi Hutner wrote this article for YES! Magazine, a national, nonprofit media organization that fuses powerful ideas with practical actions. Heidi is a professor of sustainability, English, and women's studies at Stony Brook University, where she writes, speaks, and teaches about the environment and gender. Her forthcoming book is entitled, Polluting Mama: An Ecofeminist Cultural Memoir (Demeter, 2012).  She keeps the blog, Ecofeminist and Mothering 
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    Said this on 4-26-2012 at 12:12 am
    Will our new generations have any future if we don't act to end nukes and nuclear energy forever, and switch away from the oil and mining industrial rape of our planet? It's more than urgent that we take away the golden keys from the organ grinder media and corporation-owned planet we live on and give the Earth and ourselves a real opportunity to move forward as a united green-living democracy where government's sole purpose is the holistic health of its people, not the gov/corporate alliances putting wealth before health. Facts are facts, cover ups are cover ups, so tell truth to the people ASAP, and fully protect  universal human rights, including the rights not to be forced to suffer the effects of nuclear contaminations from meltdowns and the added burdens on every other living species. 
    We can go solar and zero carbon tomorrow if we met this crisis with real fortitude and unity of purpose. Love to all. There are public health measures that need taking, and truth-telling/fessing up/owning the crisis at source including regulatory capture of governments by corporations with limited liability for the consequences of Fukushima-type disasters,  malfeasances IMHO in oversight After the accidents and meltdowns began in providing real and reliable information & data on fully transparent crisis management where government and not corporations do the assessments 24/7 and provide ways people can better safeguard their children and loved ones from fissile materials in their water and air and food and soils... Levels of cesium were recentluy measured at 87 times Chernobyl levels. Sadly our oceans are now being further contaminated by the day, our plankton, our seals and fish and it'll work its cancer death dark wizardry upon us all. 
    Oppose all corporations' rights to personhood. Human rights and Earth's health come first. Any elder can show the world how to boil water to turn turbines with steam with zero danger to other life. End corporates' rights to limited liability. End corporate taxfree havens, offshoring of profits, and gov bailouts and welfare in the form of subsidies, tax breaks and front-of-line contracting benefits. Make all energy generation clean and green or nix that sceene. Close the banksters down and let gov be the banker to the people directly, letting the people guarantee their share in our societies as life-nurturing Co-Equals with free gardens, heritage seeds, ecovillage housing with solar/wind/rain power and totally dependable local certainty of supply and a share of the wealth generated organically, cleanly, ethically by involving everyone in shared gainful solutions, cooperatives and win/win strategies that are mother & child-friendly and nurture humankind and all life sustainably as children of Mother Earth.