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Remembering 6th Anniversary of Fukushima March.11.2017

Remembering 6th Anniversary of Fukushima March.11.2017

 

By Sheila Parks, Ed.D.

Kimberly Roberson, speaking as a parent and an activist/organizer does not mince her words. They are heart, mind and soul piercing. She is in our faces about the horrific dangers of nuclear power especially for our babies and children. Her purpose is to inform and rouse to action all those not already involved and aware. “Startling clear to me: radioactive fallout from nuclear power and food do not mix, and children are especially at risk”.But as parents, aunts, uncles, grandparents and caregivers we have a responsibility to our children. And remember, radiation from nuclear fallout is transgenerational, meaning that it has been proven to damage DNA for generations to come. The bigger picture after all is really about food safety and human health.

 

 

I marked every page in the book as I was reading. I am focusing on food in this review because that is a major issue for both Roberson and me. What are we doing to our babies and children when we give them milk? Alarmed, I read from Roberson that “strontium 90 has been detected in the U.S. milk supply, as well as other radioisotopes linked directly to Fukushima”.Radioactive strontium is attracted to the body, much like calcium, only rather than nourishing bones it causes cancer. Children’s cells divide and multiply at an accelerated pace which makes the youngest especially vulnerable to radiation.”

Roberson tells us, “The late Dr. Rosalie Bertell, PhD and Gray Nun of the Sacred Heart was an accomplished scientist who warned in No Immediate Danger; Prognosis for a Radioactive Earth not only of the damage to the person coming in contact with radioactive fallout in their food and water, but also to their children, grandchildren, and great grandchildren suffering mutations in their DNA as well.”

Roberson continues, again alarmingly, “Probably the one question that perplexed so many of the people I was working with was how could the biggest industrial and nuclear accident in world history be allowed to continue to affect our food supply unchecked .” [emphasis mine]. That continues to this day.

Roberson puts it this way, “One thing I’ve realized in the past two years is to always consider the source”The list goes on and on. Grass fed beef, free range poultry, miso [see the paper I wrote about miso “Fukushima, Miso Soup and Me” ], nori, strawberries”pesky questions, but we all need to be asking them.” Begin today, now, all the time, to ask this question about everything you eat and drink. This is urgent: what is the country of origin?

From my experience working on the many issues about food and drink safety since Fukushima, here are some questions we must understand and work to change since Fukushima: What food and drink does the USA import from Japan? How was and is our food here in the USA contaminated from Fukushima? Who tests the food in each country, including the USA? How do they test it? Is how the food is tested adequate? Who decides? How honest are our labelling laws? [Not honest at all; but that requires a whole other paper.] Thank goodness the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) has been defeated by the actions of we the people and as immoral and misleading as our food labeling laws are here in the USA, at least it willl still be mandatory to put counrty of origin on our food. What Trump will do, who is now talking about “binary arrangements” instead of the TTP, remains to be seen.

 

Be wary also, Roberson warns us, of “fish oil, carrageenan, and sea salt [which] all come from ocean waters.” I say, please read all labels. Use pink salt from the Himalayas, not sea salt. This pink salt from the Himalayas sometimes is called sea salt – but from oceans millions of years ago. I eat nothing from the ocean. There is really only one ocean. Look at any map. You might want to read a paper I have written called “The Pacific Ocean Does Not Belong to Japan: It Belongs to All of Us.”

Also pay attention to iodine and where it comes from, continues Roberson. Iodine often comes from kelp “but where is the kelp sourced? Much of the kelp spanning the California coastline has shown significantly increased levels of Iodine-131 since Fukushima began. Not exactly the kind of iodine I want in children’s gummy vitamins.”

While we are here talking about food and drink, note also that most non-mercury fillings that your dentist puts in your mouth come from Japan!!! As does most bonding material at your dentist’s office. Instead, there is a company in Germany – Grandio – where dentists, not you, can get non-mercury fillings. Please ask your dentist to do so for you.

Since Fukushima, I myself do not knowingly eat or drink any food or beverages that come from Japan. My first question about anything that goes into my mouth always is – what is the country or countries of origin? I am an organic vegan now, since Fukushima, and before that was an organic vegetarian for 40 years. For those who eat organic, Roberson notes, “And trust me, radioactive fallout does not distinguish if it lands on conventional or organic items. You may be asking why is radioactive fallout alllowed in organic food but irradiation is not? The answer is because the regulations are not yet in place to test from nuclear accidents and nuclear power production. That clearly needs to change.” She wrote this in 2013. It is now 2016. Nothing has changedI love this from Roberson, “Perhaps Dr. Seuss said it best in The Lorax, ‘Unless someone like you cares a whole awful lot, Nothing is going to get better. It’s not.”

On my birthday two years ago, before I read Roberson’s book, I went to the Dr. Zeuss museum in Springfield, MA and read that quote there for the first time and bought myself a Lorax then. Consider buying a Lorax for a constant reminder and keep her with you = in mind, heart, body, soul. You can buy a Lorax through The Manhattan Toy Store. A final truth telling from prophet Roberson, “Another lesson learned. Much of what happens to protect our food and water or anything else for that matter starts with us.”

 

 

PLEASE SIGN FFAN’S [FUKUSHIMA FALLOUT AWARENESS NETWORK] URGENT PETITION No Olympics or Paralympics in Radioactive Fukushima “Children are our most beloved and cherished gift and they are also the most vulnerable to the generational damage of man-made radiation in air, food, soil and water. Around the world children who are currently adolescent and possibly younger are in training to compete at the 2020 Summer Olympics and Paralympics in Japan. Their parents most likely have no idea that some of the venues are near the most devastating and ongoing nuclear and industrial disaster in world history, Fukushima Daiichi.

 Sheila Parks, Ed.D. is an ardent feminist, internationalist, writer, activist and organizer who defended the abortion clinics with her body for many years in Brookline and Boston. She has worked for a long time against rigged elections via all the electronic voting machines and against nuclear power and nuclear weapons. 

We Remember: Abortion Clinic Violence is Nothing New

We Remember: Abortion Clinic Violence is Nothing New

by: Sheila Parks Ed.D.

I wrote this paper originally in 1996—for a magazine called Sojourner: The Women’s Forumbecause the issue of abortion clinic violence screamed to me: As a clinic defender, I witnessed people (mostly men and very few women) yelling violently and acting aggressively towards women going into clinics in Boston and Brookline, Mass. to get abortions. I wanted people to know what it was like at the clinics on Saturday mornings. And I also wanted to honor the two women who were killed at a Massachusetts clinic in 1994 and others who had been murdered over abortion rights. And to remind everyone that if you believed in women’s right to control our own bodies and you were helping women get abortions, you could be murdered. 

I especially want to republish this paper now in part because Jessica Critcher, a young feminist in my social justice writing group, wrote “Please republish this!” on her copy of what I read to the group for vetting. She was 7 years old when the paper was originally published and did not know anything about the crimes, murders or verbal and physical violence by the terrorists at the clinics.

Why else now? I am also republishing this paper because of the Massachusetts buffer zone law that was struck down by the Supreme Court on June 26, 2014; all the laws restricting reproductive rights being introduced and passed by Republican lawmakers; the anniversary of Roe v. Wade on January 22; the upcoming presidential election and its debates over anti-abortion rhetoric; the possibility of a new Justice appointed to the Supreme Court by an anti-abortion Republican president; and the recent so-called “upset” election victory by an anti-abortion governor in Kentucky. And, of course, the murders at Planned Parenthood in Colorado.  

Of all the work I have done in many movements over many decades, defending abortion clinics with my body was the one I liked best. I knew that if we had not been there, the women would not have been able to have abortions. It was very heartfelt to help real women get something they wanted, needed and had a right to have. I would not have dreamed of not defending the clinics for women.

Sojourner editors’ note: On Friday, December 30, 1994, John Salvi walked into two Brookline, Massachusetts, reproductive health clinics—Preterm and Planned Parenthood—and shot and killed receptionists Shannon Lowney and Leanne Nichols. These murders followed those of Drs. David Gunn and John Britton and clinic defender James Barrett in Florida. Sheila Parks reminds us that we cannot forget that the battle over women’s right to reproductive freedom has become lethal.

I knew it was not if, but when Friday, December 30, 1994, would happen here in Boston. Others had already died in the fight to maintain women’s right to reproductive freedom. After years of defending women’s health clinics with my body, I had come to know intimately most of the anti-abortionists demonstrating in Boston and Brookline. They always came with such venom, egged on, spurred and blessed by the hierarchy of the Catholic Church and by fundamentalist Protestant leaders—the religious right-wing—and the political right-wing. They called women “vermin.”

Come back with me to June 1, 1991. I remember. I will never forget. I am standing in front of Reproductive Health Associates (Repro). This is the Brookline clinic that John Salvi missed on his December 30 rampage. I think he dared not go there because an armed security guard stands at the door. Brookline has felt the onslaught of the Operation Rescue (aka Operation Terrorist) and other anti-abortion groups for years.

As I approach the clinic on this bright June morning, the anti-abortion protestors tell me they love me. I tell them they don’t know the difference between love and abuse. They tell me they pray for me. I tell them I don’t want their prayers. I who passionately believe in prayer. “No,” I say to them. “No” to the arrogant, self-righteous, almost all white, mostly male protestors who stand with their bibles and crosses, actually reading and quoting scripture. John Salvi is not the only scripture-quoting zealot in the anti-abortion movement.

As if from nowhere, hundreds of Operation Rescuers swarm across Beacon Street. They push between us and crawl between our legs as we link arms to protect access to Repro’s door. They dive under the police barricades. Because they are doing holy work and must be sure they succeed, they ferociously and viciously shove and elbow us, kick, scratch, bite and spit on us, infuriated that we dare to try to stop them from getting through.

They literally throw us aside and, with layers upon layers of bodies, block Repro’s doors. They are rough, aggressive and mean. They say they are nonviolent. Rage rushes through my bloodstream, and I let it, as part of my pacifist, nonviolent beliefs and practices. “A woman dies every three minutes worldwide from an illegal abortion” runs through my head like a mantra.

They come with plastic dolls (not anatomically correct). They come with enlarged pictures of bloody, aborted fetuses, which they shove in the faces of women and their friends trying to get into clinics, pictures that are distorted and, therefore, lies. This is all part of the sidewalk “counseling.”

This time, they come with flags on high poles and loudspeakers. When they see a woman approaching the clinic, they hold the flags up high to notify the other protesters down the way. On the loudspeakers, they describe the women.

Thus Operation Rescue keeps track of the clinic’s clients through the wild melee—300 or so protestors on each side, anti-abortionists and pro-choicers. They aggressively hassle women entering the clinic, saying, “Don’t murder your baby, we’ll help you,” and physically walking in front of them to prevent them from getting in. They sprinkle “holy water” everywhere. If we clinic defenders, we feminists, were not there, these women would not get in. I will always remember the women thanking us for being there, tears streaming down their faces.

As always, Operation Rescue protestors have a video camera, and they take continuous pictures of everyone going in and out of the clinic—healthcare workers and clients—and defenders, too. They even videotape car licenses. Eventually over 200 anti-abortion protestors are arrested for blockading the clinic. One man crawls under a police bus and, with a kryptonite lock, shackles himself to an axle.

I remember another Operation Rescue blockade. Two young women ask to have their anonymity and privacy protected. In 90-degree weather, we quickly wrap sweaters around their heads and lead them inch-by-inch through the screaming, crazy mob. At another point in the morning, I am sitting in the back seat of a young man and woman’s car, taking them to a different clinic; we have tried unsuccessfully to get them into a blockaded clinic where they have their appointment and health insurance permission. I no sooner return to the blockaded clinic, when I again get into the back seat of the car, this time to take two very agitated women to another clinic. During these rides, I feel like I am giving women back their lives; I feel like I am working on the underground railroad.

I read in the newspapers that Salvi had been at clinic protests, gearing up for his future acts. I wonder if Salvi knew about the “joke” that anti-abortionists sent to medical students all over the country: “You are in a room with Hitler, Mussolini and a doctor who does abortions. You have a gun with only two bullets in it. What do you do?” Punchline: “Shoot the abortion doctor twice.”

I also wonder if Salvi has seen the statement by friends of Paul Hill (Hill murdered Dr. John Britton and James Barrett in July 1994) or if he knows the priest Thomas Carleton, who lives in the Boston area. Carleton, who was incarcerated in Billerica, Mass. for his abortion protests, has regularly gone to local clinics for what have been called peaceful and prayerful presences. Carleton, along with Hill and others, has signed a petition that says: “We, the undersigned, declare the justice of taking all godly action necessary to defend innocent human life including the use of force. We proclaim that whatever force is legitimate to defend the life of a born child is legitimate to defend the life of an unborn child. We assert that if Michael Griffin did in fact kill David Gunn, his use of lethal force was justifiable provided it was carried out for the purpose of defending the lives of unborn children. Therefore, he ought to be acquitted of the charges against him.”

There is a deep thread of misogyny embedded into the fabric of our society. Anti-abortionists want to control women’s bodies and, therefore, our lives. Even though there have not been Operation Rescue blockades at the clinics for a while, the viciousness of the “sidewalk counselors” and their cohorts continues.

There are many of us on the abortion rights side who also believe in God, Goddess. Anti-abortion protestors—no matter what their titles, importance, money or influence—do not have a monopoly on spiritual Truth. I have a direct line to Goddess and so does everyone else. She does not tell me what others should or should not do. Anti-abortionists are not the only ones with deep religious and spiritual beliefs, principles and practices.

Leanne Nichols and Shannon Lowney, we remember you. We remember you every time we stand outside and defend a clinic. We remember you every time a woman has a safe and legal abortion. We remember you every time the right-wing tries to limit and/or take away a woman’s right to abortion. We remember you every time we think of strong women who have the courage of their convictions. We will never forget you.

Photo via Shutterstock. Headshot by Ellen Shub.

Sheila Parks, Ed.D. is an ardent feminist, internationalist, writer, activist and organizer who defended the abortion clinics with her body for many years in Brookline and Boston. She has worked for a long time against rigged elections via all the electronic voting machines and against nuclear power and nuclear weapons. 

EXPECT DELAYS In Mass, we now have to wait months for public information requests

EXPECT DELAYS

In Mass, we now have to wait months for public information requests  

BY MAYA SHAFFER OF CRITICAL MASS

 

It’s been almost three months since the updated public records law took effect in Massachusetts, and it is an important moment to remind readers that we’re still screwed on the transparency front and that Secretary of the Commonwealth William Galvin is still the major roadblock between requesters and records. This is now a state where journalists and the public no longer have the right to see any records made by our government for at least two months after we ask for them. There is no way for any media outlet to reliably provide timely and accurate coverage of innumerable matters as a result, and yet not a single outlet has advised the public that we face this critical two-month lag in accessing records.

I have been away from journalism for the last five months, but I recently got called back into the information conversation by the Society of Professional Journalists (SPJ) and New England First Amendment Coalition (NEFAC). They invited me to be on a panel of experts on the Commonwealth’s public records law to discuss the update and what effects it will have. The panel was interesting, and while I was one of the harshest critics of the updated law, I wasn’t alone in my criticism (as had been the case six months ago).  

Before the update, we were the only state where the governor, legislature, and judiciary were all exempt from the public records law. The update did nothing to change this, leaving Mass as the singularly worst state in the nation in this regard. The current law has too many exemptions, and there is no penalty for agencies who routinely abuse exemptions to block or delay access to records improperly.

While the update removed none of the exemptions and added no penalty for abuse, it instead added a new exemption: The old law did not allow agencies to contract out to vendors to store records, but the new law does, raising the potential that a nongovernmental entity could hamper access to records. And while the new law allows legal fees to be awarded in some successful records lawsuits, it doesn’t make awarding these fees mandatory and makes it harder for requesters to recover legal fees when they win cases overturning rulings made by Galvin’s office, which would be the most important type of case to win.

While that is all terrible, it’s small potatoes compared to the new timeline for when requesters can expect to receive the records they requested. The change was heralded as a “Victory!” by the ACLU and similarly celebrated by other advocates of the update a few months ago, but the consensus—at least among the experts on the SPJ/NEFAC panel—appears to have shifted closer to my opinion, namely that the updated timeline has enshrined the failures of the old unenforced law and will now make records access in Mass painfully slow.

 

In practice, any agency or municipality can lawfully delay complying with a request for at least two months without even receiving an extension from Galvin’s office. Here’s how:

 

  • On Business Day 1: The requester submits a request, and the agency or municipality is in receipt of the request.

 

  • On Business Day 2: The request counts as being received because the regulations put out by Galvin’s office say that a request is received the business day after the records access officer is in receipt of the request.

 

  • On Business Day 11: The response is due, and in order to delay access to the records being sought, any agency can deny the request improperly without consequence. If an agency cites an exemption improperly the requestor can also open an appeal to the denial on business day 11.

 

  • On Business Day 21: Galvin’s office must issue a determination on the appeal. Even if the requester wins, the order will give the agency at least 10 more business days to respond (because, as per the regulations, agencies have 10 business days to request an extension after receiving an order from the secretary).

 

  • On Business Day 31: The order says the records are due, but instead the agency or municipality can file for an extension. If it files for an extension it will gain five more business days while Galvin’s office deliberates.

 

  • On Business Day 36: Galvin’s office must issue a determination on the extension. Even if it rejects the extension and orders the agency to immediately turn over the records, it’s hard to believe it wouldn’t provide at least one day to do so.

 

  • On Business Day 37 (or possibly later): The records are due.

 

The entire first quarter of 2017 has about 60 business days (potentially less due to weather), so 37 business days—even if a requester wins every single step of the way—is effectively two months of delays built into the law. The old law allowed 10 calendar days to provide records, or it was a criminal breach of the law (though the old law was never enforced).

 

Here’s the gut-punch: As of now, Galvin’s office and Attorney General Maura Healey’s office allow agencies to simply offer new exemptions at the end of the process. A requester can appeal again, but each time around, the cycle adds about another month. We need to put to bed the fiction peddled by the ACLU and Common Cause that the length of time an agency or municipality has to provide records is capped under the update. The fact is that the update makes it easy and legal for agencies to delay for months and leaves it entirely possible that any agency or municipality can lawfully delay providing records indefinitely.

Even this peachy outlook at the updated law is unfortunately too optimistic, because it pretends that the law will actually be enforced and followed. Before the update, the law was not enforced, and nothing in the update changed how or by whom the law would be enforced. Galvin and Healey remain in charge of enforcing the law.

Galvin’s office doesn’t follow the law, so there’s little hope that the attorney general will actually enforce it. Another stipulation of the new law is that every governmental agency must assign a records access officer, and that it must, if it has a website, list the records access office’s name, hours, and contact information. As of now, Galvin’s office has failed to list a records access officer on its website’s contact page. Buried deep in the site, I found this: “Requests for public records should be directed to Valerie Connolly, the Office’s Records Access Officer. The Records Access Officer can be contacted at 617-878-3660 or Sec.RAO@sec.state.ma.us.” No business hours are given.

Healey’s recent track record regarding the records law is not much more heartening. She did bring one lawsuit for records sought by the Boston Globe, but otherwise her office has failed to provide any assistance to journalists, myself included, when orders from Galvin’s officer were sent to her for enforcement. In my case, after nearly a year and a half of sitting unenforced, I shamed Galvin’s office into turning over an order—for the MBTA to provide me with records—to Healey’s office for enforcement. Months later, the MBTA was allowed to send me some of the records and a fresh set of exemptions. Healey’s office made no attempt to even see if I still needed assistance. It took almost two years to get some of what I asked for… and no real help at all.

With this updated law, Mass has cemented its standing as one of the worst states in the country with regards to records access for years to come. Hopefully, by the time that transparency advocates get around to ranking the states this year, they will have seen beyond the ACLU’s victory cry and will rate Mass as the worst in the country.

Before this, the last meaningful update to the Commonwealth’s public information law was about four decades ago… so maybe I’ll still be alive when we get another chance to fix this steaming pile. Until then, remember that when outlets claim they’re keeping news consumers accurately informed about the goings-on in Mass government, it either means that they can tell you what was happening two months ago, or that they’re fake news altogether since they don’t rely on original material.