Tuesday, 4 October 2011

Shell Kills in Nigeria


London--10 November 1995--The blood of Ken Saro-Wiwa will permanently stain the name of Shell, Greenpeace said today in response to the news that Ken Saro-Wiwa and eight other Ogoni were, according to widespread rumours, hanged this morning in Port Harcourt, Nigeria.

"Ken Saro-Wiwa was hanged today for speaking out against the environmental damage to the Niger Delta caused by Shell Oil through its 37 years of drilling in the region. Ken Saro Wiwa was campaigning for what Greenpeace considers the most basic of human rights: the right for clean air, land and water. His only crime was his success in bringing his cause to international attention," said Thilo Bode, Executive Director of Greenpeace International.

Greenpeace warned that any protest in the Niger Delta today, non violent or otherwise, would likely be met with military force and further massacres. Bode appealed to General Sani Abacha to let the Ogoni people voice their grief without fear of violence and further deaths.

Shell's call for "quiet diplomacy" in the 11th hour following the confirmation of the death sentence by the Nigerian Ruling Council has a hollow ring. Shell had ample opportunity to demonstrate concern over the 17 months of Ken's incarceration and trial. They chose to maintain their cosy relationship with the military dictatorship to secure oil profits rather than condemn, the brutal and unjust arrest and later sentencing of non-violent environmental campaigners.

"If Shell and the Nigerian military think that the hanging of Saro-Wiwa has removed national and international outrage, they're wrong. Greenpeace today reaffirms its dedication to continue the campaign against environmental destruction by the oil industry," said Mr Bode.

In his closing address to the tribunal, Saro-Wiwa stated "I repeat that we all stand before history. I and my colleagues are not the only ones on trial. Shell is here on trial and it is as well that it is represented by counsel said to be holding a watching brief. The Company has, indeed, ducked this particular trial, but its day will surely come and the lessons learnt here may prove useful to it for there is no doubt in my mind that the ecological war that the Company has waged in the Delta will be called to question sooner than later and the crimes of that war be duly punished. The crime of the Company's dirty wars against the Ogoni people will also be punished."

"In my innocence of the false charges I face here, in my utter conviction, I call upon the Ogoni people, the peoples of the Niger delta, and the oppressed ethnic minorities of Nigeria to stand up now and fight fearlessly and peacefully for their rights. History is on their side. God is on their side. For the Holy Quran says in Sura 42, verse 41:"All those that fight when oppressed incur no guilt, but Allah shall punish the oppressor. Come the day."


Thursday, 28 July 2011

Organic farmers against Monsanto

“It seems quite perverse that an organic farmer contaminated by transgenic seed could be accused of patent infringement, but Monsanto has made such accusations before and is notorious for having sued hundreds of farmers for patent infringement, so we had to act to protect the interests of our clients.” - Dan Ravicher, PUBPAT’s Executive Director and Lecturer of Law at Benjamin N. Cardozo School of Law in New York.
The news that more than 270,000 organic farmers are taking on Monsanto in a lawsuit filed on March 30 will hopefully put an end to the bulling tactics of the corporate agriculture giant. The farmers are fighting for the right to keep a portion of the world food supply organic and also protecting themselves from the absurd accusations of stealing genetically modified seeds that drift on to their crop fields.
The farmers led by the Organic Seed Growers and Trade Association should receive our full support, as they seek to protect not just themselves but us from a future where our only choice would be Monsanto’s unhealthy GM foods. Monsanto have repeatedly shown that they put profit before health and morels. Everyone should have the choice to choose natural and healthy foods over Monsanto’s GM alternatives. That’s a choice that corporations like Monsanto are trying to take away from us in order to gain a monopoly of the market.
In my opinion no seeds should ever be patented, as this is a dangerous path to go down as many farmers are now finding to their cost. Hundreds of farmers have found themselves facing lawsuits after being accused of unlawfully using the very seeds they’re trying to avoid. With Monsanto going as far as to trespass onto the farmers lands to find proof of contamination from seeds blown over from a neighboring farm.
With patented seeds infiltrating the environment so fully, organic itself is at risk. The wide use of Monsanto’s Genuity® Roundup Ready® canola seed has already turned heirloom canola oil into an extinct species. If this lawsuit fails it will lead to more becoming extinct like organic corn, soybeans, along with a host of other crops.
Having already acquired more than 20 of the nation’s biggest seed producers and sellers over the last decade Monsanto are are getting close to achieving their goal of replacing everything Organic with their GM alternatives giving them complete control over the food we eat and grow. Farmers would have no choice but to deal with Monsanto in order to grow crops. This would mean them being obliged to buy bio-engineered seeds every year at prices set by Monsanto. As some have already found out to their cost, to disobey is to be blacklisted forever.
Monsanto’s practices not only do great damage to our health but also the environment and the livelihood of farmers. Most people are happy to buy GM food over Organic, ignorant of the health problems that they are bringing onto themselves and their family. A future controlled by the likes of Monsanto will be an unhealthy one. Healthy food that we have enjoyed for centuries will be a thing of the past. I urge everyone who reads this article to look into the dark history of Monsanto and the dangers to health of their GM foods. The only way we can secure our future is to boycott GM foods and Monsanto products and stand with the organic farmers who are fighting not just for their futures but also ours.
Some quotes concerning Monsanto
‘People will have Roundup Ready soya whether they like it or not.’
- Ann Foster, spokesperson for Monsanto in Britain, 1999
‘What you are seeing is not just a consolidation of seed companies, it’s really a consolidation of the entire food chain.’
- Robert Fraley, co-president of Monsanto’s agricultural sector 1996
‘Monsanto was accused of fraud in assessing the risks of dioxin, a by-product of Agent Orange manufacture. Regarding this William Sanjour, Policy Analyst at the EPA wrote ‘This kind of cold-blooded analysis is bad enough when the product is used by the general public, but it is insufferable when used on our own armed forces who were exposed in combat…. The issue wasn’t false science, but allegedly using false science to cover-up a callous hard-hearted decision to continue poisoning our GIs and their children because it was cheaper to do so’. ‘
‘Rats fed on a diet rich in genetically modified corn developed abnormalities to internal organs and changes to their blood, raising fears that human health could be affected by eating GM food. The Independent on Sunday can today reveal details of secret research carried out by Monsanto, the GM food giant, which shows that rats fed the modified corn had smaller kidneys and variations in the composition of their blood. According to the confidential 1,139-page report, these health problems were absent from another batch of rodents fed non-GM food as part of the research project.’
- The Independent, May 22, 2005
‘Monsanto should not have to vouchsafe the safety of biotech food. Our interest is in selling as much of it as possible. Assuring its safety is the F.D.A.’s job.’
- Phil Angell, Monsanto’s director of corporate communications, New York Times Magzine, October 25, 1998
‘The hope of the industry is that over time the market is so flooded [with GMOs] that there’s nothing you can do about it. You just sort of surrender.’
- Don Westfall, biotech industry consultant and vice-president of Promar International, in the Toronto Star, January 9. 2001
‘While he was being paid by Monsanto, Sir Richard wrote to a royal Australian commission investigating the potential cancer-causing properties of Agent Orange, made by Monsanto and used by the U.S. in the Vietnam war. Sir Richard said there was no evidence that the chemical caused cancer.’ The renowned cancer scientist was paid by Monsanto for 20 years
Don’t let the future belong to the likes of Monsanto, choose health and freedom over food slavery. David Noble 2012

More at EndtheLie.com - http://EndtheLie.com/2011/07/28/270000-organic-farmers-fight-back-against-monsanto-in-an-attempt-to-put-an-end-to-the-bulling-and-dirty-tricks-of-the-corporate-agriculture-giant/#ixzz1TPayB2lP

Sunday, 24 July 2011

Dedicated to the Children of Norway...

"Into the graveyard mouths of children blue in the arms of mother violence"

What can anyone say about this massacre in Norway? Why? Extreme nationalism and right wing "commandos" will take their riffles and unleash all their anger to innocent people...We have a war...a new kind of war...Why does it have to be like that? Why? Why are you taking a life away? Why? You have no right to take a life away...I am numb...Thoughts come and go, thoughts, I am numb. From now on we have to run like hell...Why? We are a disease to this planet and we will disappear just like we came here in the first place...We don't deserve this gift of life...Cuz I'm praying for rain
and I'm praying for tidal waves I wanna see the ground give way. I wanna watch it all go down.
Mom please flush it all away. I wanna see it go right in and down. I wanna watch it go right in...I can dream, can I...?

Rest In Peace

Monday, 18 July 2011

Cheap pesticide, costly harvest: Kids genetically poisoned in India

Cheap, effective and highly toxic Endosulfan pesticide is banned in most countries, but still widely embraced by farmers in India. While the government claims there is no affordable alternative to the chemical, families are paying a high price. Until recently, India was one of the few countries in the world that allowed the use of Endosulfan. The agriculture ministry says there is no other cheap alternative to the powerful pesticide. But finally, after mounting pressure at home and abroad, the Supreme Court voted on an eight-week ban on the pesticide which is set to expire in mid-July. The use of the pesticide has resulted in serious consequences, with a whole generation of children suffering devastating health problems.

Wednesday, 13 July 2011

Monsanto and Gates Foundation Push GE Crops on Africa

"The World According to Monsanto," a groundbreaking documentary on this insidious company's massive influence, was a recent Truthout Progressive Pick of the Week. Get the DVD by making a donation of $30 or more to Truthout!

Skimming the Agricultural Development section of the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation web site is a feel-good experience: African farmers smile in a bright slide show of images amid descriptions of the foundation's fight against poverty and hunger. But biosafety activists in South Africa are calling a program funded by the Gates Foundation a "Trojan horse" to open the door for private agribusiness and genetically engineered (GE) seeds, including a drought-resistant corn that Monsanto hopes to have approved in the United States and abroad.

The Water Efficient Maize for Africa (WEMA) program was launched in 2008 with a $47 million grant from mega-rich philanthropists Warrant Buffet and Bill Gates. The program is supposed to help farmers in several African countries increase their yields with drought- and heat-tolerant corn varieties, but a report released last month by the African Centre for Biosafety claims WEMA is threatening Africa's food sovereignty and opening new markets for agribusiness giants like Monsanto.

The Gates Foundation claims that biotechnology, GE crops and Western agricultural methods are needed to feed the world's growing population and programs like WEMA will help end poverty and hunger in the developing world. Critics say the foundation is using its billions to shape the global food agenda and the motivations behind WEMA were recently called into question when activists discovered the Gates foundation had spent $27.6 million on 500,000 shares of Monsanto stock between April and June 2010.

Water shortages in parts of Africa and beyond have created a market for "climate ready" crops worth an estimated $2.7 billion. Leading biotech companies like Monsanto, Syngenta, Bayer and Dow are currently racing to develop crops that will grow in drought conditions caused by climate change, and by participating in the WEMA program, Monsanto is gaining a leg up by establishing new markets and regulatory approvals for its patented transgenes in five Sub-Saharan African countries, according to the Centre's report.

Monsanto teamed up with BASF, another industrial giant, to donate technology and transgenes to WEMA and its partner organizations. Seed companies and researchers will receive the GE seed for free and small-scale farmers can plant the corn without making the royalty payments that Monsanto usually demands from farmers each season.

Monsanto is donating the seeds for now, but the company has a reputation for aggressively defending its patents. In the past, Monsanto has sued farmers for growing crops that cross-pollinated with Monsanto crops and became contaminated with the company's patented genetic codes.

In 2009, Monsanto and BASF discovered a gene in a bacterium that is believed to help plants like corn survive on less water and soon the companies developed a corn seed know as MON 87460. It remains unclear if MON 87460 will out-compete conventional drought-tolerant hybrids, but the United States Department of Agriculture could approve the corn for commercial use in the US as soon as July 11. Monsanto plans to make the seed available to American farmers by next year.

GE crops like MON 87460 can only be tested and sold in countries that, like the US, are friendly toward biotech agriculture. WEMA's target areas could add five countries to that list: South Africa, Uganda, Tanzania, Kenya and Mozambique. The Biosafety Centre reports that WEMA's massive funding opportunities pressure politicians to pass weak biosafety laws and welcome GE crops and the agrichemical drenched growing systems that come with them. Field trials of MON 87460 and other drought-tolerant varieties are already underway in South Africa, where Monsanto already has considerable political influence. Kenya, Tanzania and Uganda are expected to begin field trials of WEMA corn varieties in 2011.

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The agency that is implementing WEMA is the African Agricultural Technology Foundation (AATF), a pro-biotechnology group funded completely by the US government's USAID program, the United Kingdom and the Buffet and Gates foundations. The AATF is a nonprofit charity that lobbies African governments and promotes partnerships between public groups and private companies to make agricultural technology available in Africa. The Biosafety Centre accuses the AATF of essentially being a front group for the US government, allowing USAID to "meddle" in African politics by promoting weak biosafety regulation that makes it easier for American corporations to export biotechnology to African countries.

WEMA and AATF swim in a myriad alphabet soup of NGOs and nonprofits propped up by Western nations and wealthy philanthropists that promote everything from fertilizer to food crops with enhanced nutritional content as solutions to world hunger. Together, these groups are promoting a Second Green Revolution and sparking a worldwide debate over the future of food production. The Gates Foundation alone has committed $1.7 billion to the effort to date.

There was nothing "green" about the first Green Revolution of the 1950s and 1960s. As population skyrocketed during the last century, multinationals pushed Western agriculture's fertilizers, irrigation, oil-thirsty machinery and pesticides on farmers in the developing world. Historians often point out that promoting industrial agriculture to keep developing countries well fed was crucial to the US effort to stop the spread of Soviet Communism.

The Second Green Revolution, which is focused on Africa, seeks to solve hunger problems with education, biotechnology, high-tech breeding, and other industrial agricultural methods popular in countries like the US, Brazil and Mexico.

Africa has landed in the center of a global food debate over a central question: with the world's growing population expected to reach nine billion by 2045, how will farmers feed everyone, especially those in developing countries? The lines of the debate are drawn. The Second Green Revolutionaries are now facing off with activists and researchers who doubt the West's petroleum and technology-based agricultural systems can sustainably feed the world.

The African Centre for Biosafety and its allies often point to a report recently released by IAASTD, a research group supported by the United Nations (UN), the World Health Organization, and others. IAASTD found that industrial agriculture has been successful in its goal of increasing crop yields worldwide, but has caused environmental degradation and deforestation that disproportionately affects small farmers and poorer nations. Widespread use of pesticides and fertilizer, for instance, cause dead zones in coastal areas. Massive irrigation projects now account for 70 percent of water withdrawal globally and approximately 1.6 billion people live in water-scarce basins.

Increasing crop yields is the bottom line for groups like the Gates Foundation, but the IAASTD recommends that sustainability should be the goal. The report does not rule out biotechnology, but suggests high-tech agriculture is just one tool in the toolbox. The report promotes "agroecology," which seeks to replace the chemical and biochemical inputs of industrial agriculture with resources found in the natural environment.

In March, a UN expert released a report showing that small-scale farmers could double their food production in a decade with the simple agroecological methods. The report flies in the face of the Second Green Revolutionaries.

"Today's scientific evidence demonstrates that agroecological methods outperform the use of chemical fertilizers in boosting food production where the hungry live - especially in unfavorable environments," said Olivier De Schutter, the UN Special Rapporteur on the right to food and author of the report. "Malawi, a country that launched a massive chemical fertilizer subsidy program a few years ago, is now implementing agroecology, benefiting more than 1.3 million of the poorest people, with maize yields increasing from 1 ton per hectare to 2 to 3 tons per hectare."

De Schutter said private companies like Monsanto will not invest in agroecology because it does not open new markets for agrichemicals or GE seeds, so it's up to governments and the public to support the switch to more sustainable agriculture. But with more than a billion dollars already spent, the Second Green Revolutionaries are determined to have a say in how the world grows its food, and agroecology is not on their agenda. To them, sustainability means bringing private innovation to the developing world. The Gates Foundation can donate billions to the fight against hunger, but when private companies like Monsanto stand to benefit, it makes feeding the world look like a for-profit scheme.

Monday, 11 July 2011

Radioactive Fallout: Can Nutritional Supplements Help?

A Personal Viewpoint by Damien Downing, M.D.

(OMNS, May 10, 2011) The Fukushima nuclear accident has already been described as "the largest accidental release of radiation we have ever seen" [1], and it's not over yet.

Already, radioactive plutonium, strontium and iodine have reached the continental USA.

So should we worry? And, what can we do about it?

When the earthquake and tsunami hit north-east Japan on 11th March, it disabled all the multiple safety mechanisms at the Fukushima nuclear power plant. Fires started in three of the six reactors, and 24 hours later a large hydrogen explosion caused the collapse of part of the structure. From then on, radioactive material would have been released to the atmosphere. This is reasonable to assume, despite the usual assurances from the operators, TEPCO, and the Japan Atomic Energy Agency. Six days later, after all, traces of radioactive material were detected in Washington State [2] and then right down to California. This material can only have reached the USA by the airborne route.

Fukushima is now off the media map, replaced by dramatic political events. Contrast this with the coverage that was given to the Chernobyl disaster. Perhaps at that time there was a sense that the destruction of a nuclear power plant in the Ukraine was a metaphor for the failure of the Soviet Union. But Fukushima is, or will eventually prove to be, a far worse disaster. It is one that will be underplayed. The world is committed to nuclear power, and we will not be shown its true dangers. Do not expect to be told the whole truth when reading reassuring statements from industry or governments. Fukushima is affecting us all.

Radioactive elements released from Fukushima include plutonium, strontium, cesium and iodine. Ten days after the tsunami, Japanese scientists reported increased radioactive cesium and iodine in seawater offshore of Fukushima, and they rapidly reached levels "more than 1 million times higher than previously existed." [3] More serious radiation levels are likely in the USA when this polluted seawater reaches the west coast, which is estimated to take from 18 months to 3 years.

More serious? Why?


there will be radioactive elements that are ingested or absorbed by people, animals and plants
they will biomagnify, concentrating up the food chain, as do all pollutants
they won't go away; once inside us they will stay there
There are two different kinds of radiation: external, when you are exposed to radiation sources around you (the Fukushima clean-up workers are currently getting a lot of that), but which stops when you are no longer near the source; and internal, when a source of radiation gets into your body and stays there. This is much more serious because you are constantly exposed for much longer. Former Russian agent Alexander Litvinenko was killed in London that way in 2006 - by being given, probably swallowing in a beverage, some highly radioactive polonium. Traces of the same polonium were found on some airline seats, but nobody seems to have been harmed by sitting in them.

You may already have been exposed to (mostly-) depleted uranium back in 2003. Despite official denials, it does seem to be true that increases in uranium were detected in Berkshire, England nine days after the start of Shock and Awe [4]. To get there it must have traveled across the whole of the USA.

By the time it reaches the continental USA the radiation from Fukushima will be very spread out, so individual doses will be very small. But they will be on top of the radiation to which we are all exposed already: from X-rays, from flying at 30.000 feet, from radon in the ground, and on top of all our other toxic exposures such as mercury, pesticides and thousands of other chemicals. This is the "Who killed Julius Caesar?" phenomenon; the answer is at least 23 people, stabbing him at least 36 times. None of them could have been proved to have caused his death, but they all contributed to it. All the poisons to which we are exposed add up to harm us, too.

Epidemiologist Dr. Steven Wing makes the useful point that whether a dose of radiation is spread thickly across just a few thousand people, or much more thinly across tens of millions, around the same number of cancers will result. So although the increase in individual risk from Fukushima is likely to be tiny for any individual in the USA, it will still amount to a major public health problem.

The Chernobyl nuclear disaster certainly caused thousands of premature deaths in a sweep across northern Europe, and may have caused more than a million deaths [5]. But Fukushima is worse in several ways;
At Chernobyl there were only 180 tons of nuclear fuel on-site, whereas at Fukushima there are thousands of tons.
Chernobyl is 250 miles from the nearest sea, but Fukushima is on the coast. Already the radiation released to sea from there is 10 to 100 times worse than Chernobyl.
Chernobyl was sealed into a "sarcophagus," although too late to prevent some airborne release. Fukushima is and will likely continue releasing radiation into the sea for some time. Best case scenarios (from the nuclear industry, of course) are saying it will take nine months to shut the reactors down and seal them. Skeptics say that you truly cannot "seal" a reactor with concrete, because the radioactive material will then go downwards, into the soil and the water table, and end up in the sea anyway.
You may say; "Surely the government has this all in hand?" Well, the strange thing is that the EPA is set to revise its Protective Action Guides - the levels of radiation that it deems safe for us to be exposed to, from food, water, air or soil. Some of the upper limits are rising more than 1,000-fold, into the "will definitely give cancer to some people" zone. You can read more about this here [6], which also gives useful email addresses in case you want to express your views to the EPA. I know it looks like another one of "those" websites, but this is corroborated many times over elsewhere.

The European Union has moved fast to respond; on March 25 EU Regulation 297/2011 [7] came into force. Although this looks like a sensible precaution, requiring testing of foods from affected areas of Japan for radioactivity, it in fact introduces upper limits for radioactivity that are significantly higher than previous ones. Baffling.

What can you do?

For each radionuclide there is a different risk and a different set of measures. The US Department of Homeland Security funded a guidelines paper in 2006 [8].

Radioactive iodine-131 For this threat, we take regular iodine, to minimize the amount of the bad stuff that gets taken up by the thyroid. Various forms, such as potassium iodide, do work, but only if given before or within 12 hours of exposure. And, since I-131 has a half-life of 8 days, by the time it gets from Fukushima to the USA there won't be much radioactivity left. So don't worry about that one.

Uranium (half-life: thousands of years) is there in Fukushima in large quantities in the fuel rods. No reports of it being found in the environment yet, but there's plenty of time. And even depleted (non-radioactive) uranium is a highly toxic heavy metal, and one to which anybody who served in Gulf I or II, or in Bosnia or Kosovo, has probably been exposed. So a Fukushima exposure would just add to that toxicity. For uranium there are protocols worked out by the US military. Large doses of sodium bicarbonate (baking soda, in the orange box) minimize the damage caused by uranium and encourage its excretion in the kidneys. You can buy bicarb in bulk for less than a dollar per pound. It is certainly worth stocking up on. You can absorb it through the skin, so a good fistful in a warm bath, which you sit in for 15-20 minutes, is the simplest way to take it in.

Cesium-137 has a half-life of 30 years, and like uranium is still a toxic metal even when not radioactive. The US government stockpiles the chemical Prussian Blue for removing cesium. [9] Prussian Blue is ferric ferrocyanide - Fe7(CN)18 plus a load of water. It is not absorbed from the gut; it can only trap cesium (and also thallium) as it is recycled through the bile to gut to blood again. It works by cutting the biological half-life (time to get rid of half the total body burden) from about 80 days to 25. But that would still take 3 months to bring the level below 10% of starting, which is plenty of time to do harm. Prussian Blue was used in photography before we went digital, so there might be some left in your garage. Leave it there and DO NOT try this at home. Prussian Blue contains cyanide, a strong poison.

Plutonium: When uranium is used in a reactor it converts to plutonium, which is a big worry. Plutonium is extremely dangerous. It is estimated that 1 gram could kill ten million people. This is what CDC has to say [10]:

Because it emits alpha particles, plutonium is most dangerous when inhaled. When plutonium particles are inhaled, they lodge in the lung tissue. The alpha particles can kill lung cells, which causes scarring of the lungs, leading to further lung disease and cancer. Plutonium can enter the blood stream from the lungs and travel to the kidneys, meaning that the blood and the kidneys will be exposed to alpha particles. Once plutonium circulates through the body, it concentrates in the bones, liver, and spleen, exposing these organs to alpha particles. Plutonium that is ingested from contaminated food or water does not pose a serious threat to humans because the stomach does not absorb plutonium easily and so it passes out of the body in the feces.

What can you do about it? There are no grounds for thinking iodine or bicarbonate will work. The medical recommendation at present is DTPA, which is a version of EDTA - a chelating agent, specific to transuranic elements.

In each of the above exposures, of course you should get to a doctor, fast, and get the appropriate treatment. But an exposure coming from Fukushima is likely to be a dirty mix of any or all of these, so we need some universal measures. There are three worthwhile ones, all of which you can do for yourself:

Antioxidant vitamins

It's easy to get down the health store and buy some bottles of these, and in these circumstances an overdose is the last thing to worry about. While the shelves are full of nutritional and herbal products that might help, my personal advice would be to take;

Vitamin C (the body's main water-soluble antioxidant) approximately 3,000 to 5,000 milligrams, three times daily; option to combine water-soluble and oil-based forms.
Vitamin E (the main fat-soluble antioxidant) mixed tocopherols and tocotrienols, around 400 IU, once daily.
R Lipoic Acid (operates in both water and lipid compartments, spares both vitamins C and E) 100-plus mg, three times daily.

This amino acid is known to chelate certain minerals, but there's no evidence that it works on radioactive ones. Some experts say nothing does. However, it's a crucial antioxidant, which will protect against radiation damage and help to mop up the toxic molecules produced. Take loads; say 1,000 mg three times daily. And because it can be tricky to absorb, consider using the oil-based version that you rub into your skin.


If you turned up in the ER in an eastern bloc country with acute radiation exposure, they would give you a IV shot of phosphatidylcholine. It is found in egg yolk, organ meats, and lecithin supplements and is easily absorbed into our membranes as a phospholipid. There are no human experiments I know of, thankfully, but this is backed up by some doctors:

Ionizing radiation first disturbs the phospholipid metabolism, then provokes severe inflammatory reactions, and finally leads to death.... The survival of rats exposed to lethal doses of radiation was clearly prolonged with phospholipid supplementation. [11]

You can get liquid or capsules; take at least a tablespoon or equivalent daily, with food.

If you've got the time, it's wise to build all of these up slowly, or they may give you loose bowels for a few days. If you haven't got the time, you have bigger things to worry about.

Saturday, 9 July 2011

Meeting the 100% perfect girl for me, one April Morning

One beautiful April morning, on a narrow side street in Tokyo's fashionable Harujuku neighborhood, I walked past the 100% perfect girl.

Tell you the truth, she's not that good-looking. She doesn't stand out in any way. Her clothes are nothing special. The back of her hair is still bent out of shape from sleep. She isn't young, either - must be near thirty, not even close to a "girl," properly speaking. But still, I know from fifty yards away: She's the 100% perfect girl for me. The moment I see her, there's a rumbling in my chest, and my mouth is as dry as a desert.

Maybe you have your own particular favorite type of girl - one with slim ankles, say, or big eyes, or graceful fingers, or you're drawn for no good reason to girls who take their time with every meal. I have my own preferences, of course. Sometimes in a restaurant I'll catch myself staring at the girl at the next table to mine because I like the shape of her nose.

But no one can insist that his 100% perfect girl correspond to some preconceived type. Much as I like noses, I can't recall the shape of hers - or even if she had one. All I can remember for sure is that she was no great beauty. It's weird.

"Yesterday on the street I passed the 100% girl," I tell someone.

"Yeah?" he says. "Good-looking?"

"Not really."

"Your favorite type, then?"

"I don't know. I can't seem to remember anything about her - the shape of her eyes or the size of her breasts."


"Yeah. Strange."

"So anyhow," he says, already bored, "what did you do? Talk to her? Follow her?"

"Nah. Just passed her on the street."

She's walking east to west, and I west to east. It's a really nice April morning.

Wish I could talk to her. Half an hour would be plenty: just ask her about herself, tell her about myself, and - what I'd really like to do - explain to her the complexities of fate that have led to our passing each other on a side street in Harajuku on a beautiful April morning in 1981. This was something sure to be crammed full of warm secrets, like an antique clock build when peace filled the world.

After talking, we'd have lunch somewhere, maybe see a Woody Allen movie, stop by a hotel bar for cocktails. With any kind of luck, we might end up in bed.

Potentiality knocks on the door of my heart.

Now the distance between us has narrowed to fifteen yards.

How can I approach her? What should I say?

"Good morning, miss. Do you think you could spare half an hour for a little conversation?"

Ridiculous. I'd sound like an insurance salesman.

"Pardon me, but would you happen to know if there is an all-night cleaners in the neighborhood?"

No, this is just as ridiculous. I'm not carrying any laundry, for one thing. Who's going to buy a line like that?

Maybe the simple truth would do. "Good morning. You are the 100% perfect girl for me."

No, she wouldn't believe it. Or even if she did, she might not want to talk to me. Sorry, she could say, I might be the 100% perfect girl for you, but you're not the 100% boy for me. It could happen. And if I found myself in that situation, I'd probably go to pieces. I'd never recover from the shock. I'm thirty-two, and that's what growing older is all about.

We pass in front of a flower shop. A small, warm air mass touches my skin. The asphalt is damp, and I catch the scent of roses. I can't bring myself to speak to her. She wears a white sweater, and in her right hand she holds a crisp white envelope lacking only a stamp. So: She's written somebody a letter, maybe spent the whole night writing, to judge from the sleepy look in her eyes. The envelope could contain every secret she's ever had.

I take a few more strides and turn: She's lost in the crowd.

Now, of course, I know exactly what I should have said to her. It would have been a long speech, though, far too long for me to have delivered it properly. The ideas I come up with are never very practical.

Oh, well. It would have started "Once upon a time" and ended "A sad story, don't you think?"

Once upon a time, there lived a boy and a girl. The boy was eighteen and the girl sixteen. He was not unusually handsome, and she was not especially beautiful. They were just an ordinary lonely boy and an ordinary lonely girl, like all the others. But they believed with their whole hearts that somewhere in the world there lived the 100% perfect boy and the 100% perfect girl for them. Yes, they believed in a miracle. And that miracle actually happened.

One day the two came upon each other on the corner of a street.

"This is amazing," he said. "I've been looking for you all my life. You may not believe this, but you're the 100% perfect girl for me."

"And you," she said to him, "are the 100% perfect boy for me, exactly as I'd pictured you in every detail. It's like a dream."

They sat on a park bench, held hands, and told each other their stories hour after hour. They were not lonely anymore. They had found and been found by their 100% perfect other. What a wonderful thing it is to find and be found by your 100% perfect other. It's a miracle, a cosmic miracle.

As they sat and talked, however, a tiny, tiny sliver of doubt took root in their hearts: Was it really all right for one's dreams to come true so easily?

And so, when there came a momentary lull in their conversation, the boy said to the girl, "Let's test ourselves - just once. If we really are each other's 100% perfect lovers, then sometime, somewhere, we will meet again without fail. And when that happens, and we know that we are the 100% perfect ones, we'll marry then and there. What do you think?"

"Yes," she said, "that is exactly what we should do."

And so they parted, she to the east, and he to the west.

The test they had agreed upon, however, was utterly unnecessary. They should never have undertaken it, because they really and truly were each other's 100% perfect lovers, and it was a miracle that they had ever met. But it was impossible for them to know this, young as they were. The cold, indifferent waves of fate proceeded to toss them unmercifully.

One winter, both the boy and the girl came down with the season's terrible inluenza, and after drifting for weeks between life and death they lost all memory of their earlier years. When they awoke, their heads were as empty as the young D. H. Lawrence's piggy bank.

They were two bright, determined young people, however, and through their unremitting efforts they were able to acquire once again the knowledge and feeling that qualified them to return as full-fledged members of society. Heaven be praised, they became truly upstanding citizens who knew how to transfer from one subway line to another, who were fully capable of sending a special-delivery letter at the post office. Indeed, they even experienced love again, sometimes as much as 75% or even 85% love.

Time passed with shocking swiftness, and soon the boy was thirty-two, the girl thirty.

One beautiful April morning, in search of a cup of coffee to start the day, the boy was walking from west to east, while the girl, intending to send a special-delivery letter, was walking from east to west, but along the same narrow street in the Harajuku neighborhood of Tokyo. They passed each other in the very center of the street. The faintest gleam of their lost memories glimmered for the briefest moment in their hearts. Each felt a rumbling in their chest. And they knew:

She is the 100% perfect girl for me.

He is the 100% perfect boy for me.

But the glow of their memories was far too weak, and their thoughts no longer had the clarity of fouteen years earlier. Without a word, they passed each other, disappearing into the crowd. Forever.

A sad story, don't you think?

Yes, that's it, that is what I should have said to her.

Haruki Murakami