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Mounting evidence that tar sands activity is causing health problems | Danielle Droitsch’s Blog | Switchboard, from NRDC

Mounting evidence that tar sands activity is causing health problems | Danielle Droitsch’s Blog | Switchboard, from NRDC.

Danielle Droitsch’s Blog

Mounting evidence that tar sands activity is causing health problems

Danielle DroitschPosted February 26, 2014

U.S. Senator Barbara Boxer from California has connected the dots and is pointing to growing evidence that communities living near tar sands mining and drilling operations, pipelines, and refineries are showing serious health risks and problems.  An issue brief published by NRDCTar Sands Crude Oil:  Health Effects of a Dirty and Destructive Fuel, profiles some of the latest evidence including scientific research that tar sands activity is causing increasing levels of air and water pollution that are then linked to health problems including cancer.  Tar sands development affects communities across North America and includes a network of mining, drilling, and upgrading operations, pipelines and refineries.  This network spans from northern Canada to refineries in California, the Gulf Coast, and the Midwest.  The science is mounting but state, provincial, and federal governments have done too little to protect public health.  This scientific evidence was not considered by the State Department’s environmental review of the Keystone XL pipeline.   This mounting evidence shows there are considerable risks with expanding the tar sands industry.

NRDC’s new issue brief reviews the latest scientific literature on this important issue.

Air pollution from tar sands operations in Alberta

Studies by the National Academy of Sciences have noted that expanding tar sands activities have  increased air pollution near Fort McMurray (the epicenter of tar sands development) and just outside Edmonton, Alberta.  The most recent 2014 study looked at polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs) which are chemicals known to damage DNA, are carcinogens, or cause developmental impacts.  This study found that environmental impact studies drafted by the tar sands industry have systemically underestimated levels of this pollution.  A 2013 study noted elevated level of hazardous air pollutants coming from upgrading facilities north of Edmonton noting elevated rates of leukemia and other cancers in areas surrounding these operations north of Edmonton.

Water pollution from tar sands operations

Researchers have confirmed the presence of elevated levels of toxic polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons which can be traced directly to expansion of tar sands production.  Some waters in Alberta exceed Canadian standards for chemicals linked to cancer, genetic damage, birth defects, and organ damage.  Scientists have also found that tar sands development is leading to increasing amount of methylmecurcry in Alberta’s waterways including an exponential increase within 30 miles of tar sands upgraders.  Methylmercury is a potential neurotoxin causing development and behavioral problems.

Tailings ponds which now cover an area the sized of Washington DC contain multiple toxic chemicals including arsenic, benzene, lead, mercury, naphthenic acid, and ammonia.  As much as 2.9 million gallons of toxic tailings leak into the environment every day.  A 2014 study showed that extreme concentrations of PAHs present in tailings may be evaporating into the air and then deposited into water.  New federal research by Environment Canada released in February 2014 confirms that leaking tailings ponds are leaching into groundwater and then into the Athabasca River.

Rising cancer rates in First Nations communities

Scientists have confirmed increased incidences of cancer in Fort Chipewyan, Alberta.  There, scientists have noted an increased cancer rate from 1995 to 2009 – 30 percent higher than would be typically expected.  Dr. John O’Conner, an Alberta physician, has for years called for further investigation of cancer incidences.  To date, there has not been an independent study of these cancers despite repeated called by First Nations. Dr. O’Conner was invited by Senator Boxer to speak in Washington to share his observations.]

Tar sands pipeline spills

Large quantities of tar sands were spilled from leaking pipelines into two communities in Marshall, Michigan  in 2010 and Mayflower Arkansas in 2013.  After the spill in Michigan, 320 people suffered adverse health effects including cardiovascular, dermal, gastrointestinal, neurologic, ocular, renal and respiratory impacts according to the Michigan Department of Public Health.  In Arkansas, air monitoring showed significantly increased levels of benzene.  Raw tar sands is mixed with diluting agents to move the substance through pipelines.  The specific content of diluting agents are unknown as they are proprietary but most formulations include natural gas liquid condensate containing volatile hydrocarbons such as benzene, toluene, ethyl benzene and xylene. So far, the federal government in both Canada and the U.S. has failed to study or adopt regulations to deal with the chemical export of the unique tar sands mixture flowing through pipelines and has not commissioned any studies regarding the long-term human impacts of spills.

Tar sands refinery emissions

Chemicals in tar sands may be released as air pollutants during the refining process.  Diluted tar sands contain 102 times more copper, 11 times more nickel and 5 time more lead than conventional crude oil. Diluted bitumen from tar sands has notably higher levels of certain sulfur compounds called mercaptans that are highly volatile and linked to central nervous system problems. Diluted bitumen also contains higher levels of naphthenic acids which can significantly increase the corrosive properties of crude oil at high temperatures during the refining process.  Low quality crudes like tar sands have been identified as a contributing factor in a major  refinery accidents like the one at the Chevron refinery in Richmond, California which sent 15,000 residents to area hospitals and endangered the lives of 19 workers.

Petroleum Coke impacts – a byproduct from tar sands refining

The refining of tar sands creates a by-product called petroleum coke which contains relatively high concentrations of metals including mercury, lead, arsenic, chromium, selenium, and nickel which people are exposed to when they breathe dust blown from piles of petroleum coke.  This metal-laden dust can contaminate nearby homes and yards where it can accumulate.  The dust is composed of particulate matter, which is recognized by the U.S. EPA to contribute to a number of negative health effects.  Many of the metals in petroleum coke piles are carcinogens and linked to other health problems.

Health Concerns Deserve More Attention

Federal, state, provincial, agencies should evaluate all of the potential impacts of tar sand crude.  In Canada, governments should conduct independent investigations into the health impacts on locally affected communities particularly Fort McMurray, Fort Chipewyan, and Edmonton, Alberta.  New proposals for tar sands operations and infrastructure including pipelines and refineries must consider human health impacts especially as the tar sands industry seeks to triple production.   The Final Environmental Impact Statement for the Keystone XL tar sands pipeline did not adequately consider these issues.  Until there is a better understanding of how these projects will cumulatively impact human health, efforts to expand the tar sand industry should stop.  This means rejecting the proposed Keystone XL tar sands pipeline.

Go to StopTar.org to ask President Obama to reject the pipeline.

Mounting evidence that tar sands activity is causing health problems | Danielle Droitsch's Blog | Switchboard, from NRDC

Mounting evidence that tar sands activity is causing health problems | Danielle Droitsch’s Blog | Switchboard, from NRDC.

Danielle Droitsch’s Blog

Mounting evidence that tar sands activity is causing health problems

Danielle DroitschPosted February 26, 2014

U.S. Senator Barbara Boxer from California has connected the dots and is pointing to growing evidence that communities living near tar sands mining and drilling operations, pipelines, and refineries are showing serious health risks and problems.  An issue brief published by NRDCTar Sands Crude Oil:  Health Effects of a Dirty and Destructive Fuel, profiles some of the latest evidence including scientific research that tar sands activity is causing increasing levels of air and water pollution that are then linked to health problems including cancer.  Tar sands development affects communities across North America and includes a network of mining, drilling, and upgrading operations, pipelines and refineries.  This network spans from northern Canada to refineries in California, the Gulf Coast, and the Midwest.  The science is mounting but state, provincial, and federal governments have done too little to protect public health.  This scientific evidence was not considered by the State Department’s environmental review of the Keystone XL pipeline.   This mounting evidence shows there are considerable risks with expanding the tar sands industry.

NRDC’s new issue brief reviews the latest scientific literature on this important issue.

Air pollution from tar sands operations in Alberta

Studies by the National Academy of Sciences have noted that expanding tar sands activities have  increased air pollution near Fort McMurray (the epicenter of tar sands development) and just outside Edmonton, Alberta.  The most recent 2014 study looked at polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs) which are chemicals known to damage DNA, are carcinogens, or cause developmental impacts.  This study found that environmental impact studies drafted by the tar sands industry have systemically underestimated levels of this pollution.  A 2013 study noted elevated level of hazardous air pollutants coming from upgrading facilities north of Edmonton noting elevated rates of leukemia and other cancers in areas surrounding these operations north of Edmonton.

Water pollution from tar sands operations

Researchers have confirmed the presence of elevated levels of toxic polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons which can be traced directly to expansion of tar sands production.  Some waters in Alberta exceed Canadian standards for chemicals linked to cancer, genetic damage, birth defects, and organ damage.  Scientists have also found that tar sands development is leading to increasing amount of methylmecurcry in Alberta’s waterways including an exponential increase within 30 miles of tar sands upgraders.  Methylmercury is a potential neurotoxin causing development and behavioral problems.

Tailings ponds which now cover an area the sized of Washington DC contain multiple toxic chemicals including arsenic, benzene, lead, mercury, naphthenic acid, and ammonia.  As much as 2.9 million gallons of toxic tailings leak into the environment every day.  A 2014 study showed that extreme concentrations of PAHs present in tailings may be evaporating into the air and then deposited into water.  New federal research by Environment Canada released in February 2014 confirms that leaking tailings ponds are leaching into groundwater and then into the Athabasca River.

Rising cancer rates in First Nations communities

Scientists have confirmed increased incidences of cancer in Fort Chipewyan, Alberta.  There, scientists have noted an increased cancer rate from 1995 to 2009 – 30 percent higher than would be typically expected.  Dr. John O’Conner, an Alberta physician, has for years called for further investigation of cancer incidences.  To date, there has not been an independent study of these cancers despite repeated called by First Nations. Dr. O’Conner was invited by Senator Boxer to speak in Washington to share his observations.]

Tar sands pipeline spills

Large quantities of tar sands were spilled from leaking pipelines into two communities in Marshall, Michigan  in 2010 and Mayflower Arkansas in 2013.  After the spill in Michigan, 320 people suffered adverse health effects including cardiovascular, dermal, gastrointestinal, neurologic, ocular, renal and respiratory impacts according to the Michigan Department of Public Health.  In Arkansas, air monitoring showed significantly increased levels of benzene.  Raw tar sands is mixed with diluting agents to move the substance through pipelines.  The specific content of diluting agents are unknown as they are proprietary but most formulations include natural gas liquid condensate containing volatile hydrocarbons such as benzene, toluene, ethyl benzene and xylene. So far, the federal government in both Canada and the U.S. has failed to study or adopt regulations to deal with the chemical export of the unique tar sands mixture flowing through pipelines and has not commissioned any studies regarding the long-term human impacts of spills.

Tar sands refinery emissions

Chemicals in tar sands may be released as air pollutants during the refining process.  Diluted tar sands contain 102 times more copper, 11 times more nickel and 5 time more lead than conventional crude oil. Diluted bitumen from tar sands has notably higher levels of certain sulfur compounds called mercaptans that are highly volatile and linked to central nervous system problems. Diluted bitumen also contains higher levels of naphthenic acids which can significantly increase the corrosive properties of crude oil at high temperatures during the refining process.  Low quality crudes like tar sands have been identified as a contributing factor in a major  refinery accidents like the one at the Chevron refinery in Richmond, California which sent 15,000 residents to area hospitals and endangered the lives of 19 workers.

Petroleum Coke impacts – a byproduct from tar sands refining

The refining of tar sands creates a by-product called petroleum coke which contains relatively high concentrations of metals including mercury, lead, arsenic, chromium, selenium, and nickel which people are exposed to when they breathe dust blown from piles of petroleum coke.  This metal-laden dust can contaminate nearby homes and yards where it can accumulate.  The dust is composed of particulate matter, which is recognized by the U.S. EPA to contribute to a number of negative health effects.  Many of the metals in petroleum coke piles are carcinogens and linked to other health problems.

Health Concerns Deserve More Attention

Federal, state, provincial, agencies should evaluate all of the potential impacts of tar sand crude.  In Canada, governments should conduct independent investigations into the health impacts on locally affected communities particularly Fort McMurray, Fort Chipewyan, and Edmonton, Alberta.  New proposals for tar sands operations and infrastructure including pipelines and refineries must consider human health impacts especially as the tar sands industry seeks to triple production.   The Final Environmental Impact Statement for the Keystone XL tar sands pipeline did not adequately consider these issues.  Until there is a better understanding of how these projects will cumulatively impact human health, efforts to expand the tar sand industry should stop.  This means rejecting the proposed Keystone XL tar sands pipeline.

Go to StopTar.org to ask President Obama to reject the pipeline.

19 Statistics About The Drugging Of America That Are Almost Too Crazy To Believe

19 Statistics About The Drugging Of America That Are Almost Too Crazy To Believe.

By Michael Snyder, on February 10th, 2014 

Pills - Photo by Tibor KadekThe American people are the most drugged people in the history of the planet.  Illegal drugs get most of the headlines, but the truth is that the number of Americans that are addicted to legal drugs is far greater than the number of Americans that are addicted to illegal drugs.  As you will see below, close to 70 percent of all Americans are currently on at least one prescription drug.  In addition, there are 60 million Americans that “abuse alcohol” and 22 million Americans that use illegal drugs.  What that means is that almost everyone that you meet is going to be on something.  That sounds absolutely crazy but it is true.  We are literally being drugged out of our minds.  In fact, as you will read about below, there are70 million Americans that are taking “mind-altering drugs” right now.  If it seems like most people cannot think clearly these days, it is because they can’t.  We love our legal drugs and it is getting worse with each passing year.  And considering the fact that big corporations are making tens of billions of dollars peddling their drugs to the rest of us, don’t expect things to change any time soon.  The following are 19 statistics about the drugging of America that are almost too crazy to believe…

#1 An astounding 70 million Americans are taking legal mind-altering drugs right now.

#2 According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, doctors wrotemore than 250 million prescriptions for antidepressants during 2010.

#3 According to a study conducted by the Mayo Clinic, nearly 70 percent of all Americans are on at least one prescription drug.  An astounding 20 percent of all Americans are on at least five prescription drugs.

#4 Americans spent more than 280 billion dollars on prescription drugs during 2013.

#5 According to the CDC, approximately 9 out of every 10 Americans that are at least 60 years old say that they have taken at least one prescription drug within the last month.

#6 There are 60 million Americans that “abuse alcohol”.

#7 According to the Department of Health and Human Services, 22 million Americans use illegal drugs.

#8 Incredibly, more than 11 percent of all Americans that are 12 years of age or older admit that they have driven home under the influence of alcohol at least once during the past year.

#9 According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, there is an unintentional drug overdose death in the United States every 19 minutes.

#10 In the United States today, prescription painkillers kill more Americans than heroin and cocaine combined.

#11 According to the CDC, approximately three quarters of a million people a year are rushed to emergency rooms in the United States because of adverse reactions to pharmaceutical drugs.

#12 According to Alternet, “11 of the 12 new-to-market drugs approved by the Food and Drug Administration were priced above $100,000 per-patient per-year” in 2012.

#13 The percentage of women taking antidepressants in America is higherthan in any other country in the world.

#14 Many of these antidepressants contain warnings that “suicidal thoughts” are one of the side effects that should be expected.  The suicide rate for Americans between the ages of 35 and 64 rose by close to 30 percent between 1999 and 2010.  The number of Americans that are killed by suicide now exceeds the number of Americans that die as a result of car accidents every year.

#15 In 2010, the average teen in the United States was taking 1.2 central nervous system drugs.  Those are the kinds of drugs which treat conditions such as ADHD and depression.

#16 Children in the United States are three times more likely to be prescribed antidepressants as children in Europe are.

#17 A shocking Government Accountability Office report discovered thatapproximately one-third of all foster children in the United States are on at least one psychiatric drug.

#18 A survey conducted for the National Institute on Drug Abuse found that more than 15 percent of all U.S. high school seniors abuse prescription drugs.

#19 It turns out that dealing drugs is extremely profitable.  The 11 largest pharmaceutical companies combined to rake in approximately $85,000,000,000 in profits in 2012.

In America today, doctors are trained that there are just two potential solutions to any problem.  Either you prescribe a pill or you cut someone open.  Surgery and drugs are pretty much the only alternatives they offer us.

And an endless barrage of television commercials have trained all of us to think that there is a “pill for every problem”.

Are you in pain?

Just take a pill.

Are you feeling blue?

Just take a pill.

Do you need a spark in your marriage?

Just take a pill.

And most Americans assume that all of these pills are perfectly safe.

After all, the government would never approve something that wasn’t safe, right?

Sadly, what most Americans don’t realize is that there is a revolving door between big pharmaceutical corporations and the government agencies that supposedly “regulate” them.  Many of those that are now in charge of our “safety” have spent their entire careers peddling legal drugs to all of us.

We have become a nation of drugged out zombies, and it is all perfectly legal.  The funny thing is that many of these “legal drugs” have just slightly different formulations from their “illegal” counterparts.

If more Americans understood what they were actually taking, would that cause them to stop?

Perhaps some would, but for the most part Americans are totally in love with their drugs and giving them up would not be easy.

Just ask anyone that has tried.

So what do you think about the drugging of America?

Please feel free to share what you think by posting a comment below…

 

No Janet Yellen, The Economy Is NOT “Getting Better”

No Janet Yellen, The Economy Is NOT “Getting Better”.

By Michael Snyder, on February 11th, 2014 

Janet YellenOn Tuesday, new Federal Reserve Chairman Janet Yellen went before Congress and confidently declared that “the economic recovery gained greater traction in the second half of last year” and that “substantial progress has been made in restoring the economy to health”.  This resulted in glowing headlines throughout the mainstream media such as this one from USA Today: “Yellen: Economy is improving at moderate pace“.  Sadly, tens of millions of Americans are going to believe what the mainstream media is telling them.  But it isn’t the truth.  As you will see below, there are all sorts of signs that the economy is taking a turn for the worse.  And when the next great economic crisis does strike, most Americans will be completely and totally unprepared because they trusted our “leaders” when they told us that everything would be just fine.

It is amazing how deceived people can be.  Just consider the case of 56-year-old Brian Perry.  He is a former law clerk that has applied fornearly 1,500 jobs since 2008 without any success.  But he says that he is “optimistic” that he will get another job soon because he believes that the economy is recovering

By his own count, Brian Perry has applied for nearly 1,500 jobs since being let go as a law clerk in 2008. The 56-year old Perry lives in Rhode Island, where the 9.1 percent unemployment rate is 2.5 percentage points above the national average.

Perry remains optimistic that a job is forthcoming. He thinks a more robust economy would create better opportunities for the long-term unemployed like him.

Let us certainly hope that Perry does find a new job soon.  But if he does, it won’t be because we are experiencing an “economic recovery”.  Just consider the following facts…

-In January, we were told that the U.S. economy “created” 113,000 new jobs.  But that figure was arrived at only after adding a massive seasonal adjustment.  In reality, the U.S. economy actually lost 2.87 million jobs in January.  During the past decade, the only time the U.S. economy has lost more jobs in January was during 2009.  At that time, the U.S. economy was suffering through the peak of the worst economic downturn since the Great Depression.

-Prominent retailers are closing hundreds of stores all over the United States.  Things have gotten so bad that some are calling this a “retail apocalypse“…

  • JC Penney, which lost $586 million in three months in 2013, is planning to close 33 stores in 19 states and lay off 2,000 people. JC Penney’s stock has lost 84 percent of its value since February 2012.
  • Sears has decided to shut down its flagship store in Downtown Chicago, and it has closed 300 stores in the United States since 2010. Stock analyst Brian Sozzi noted that Sear’s inventory levels have fallen by 23.7 percent since 2006. He also noted that Sears had $4.4 billion in cash and equivalents in 2005 but $609 million in cash and equivalents in 2012. Sozzi, who calls himself a guerrilla analyst, has a blog full of disturbing pictures of empty Sears stores.
  • Macy’s, one of the few retail success stories, is planning to close five stores and eliminate 2,500 jobs.
  • Radio Shack is preparing to close 500 stores, according to The Wall Street Journal.
  • Best Buy recently closed 50 stores and eliminated 950 jobs at stores in Canada.
  • Target announced plans to eliminate 475 jobs and not fill 700 empty positions to reduce costs.
  • Aeropostale is planning to close 175 stores.
  • Blockbuster has closed down all of its stores.

-McDonald’s is reporting that sales at established U.S. locations were down 3.3 percent in January.

-In January, real disposable income in the U.S. experienced the largest year over year decline that we have seen since 1974.

-As I wrote about the other day, the number of “planned job cuts” in January was 12 percent higher than 12 months earlier, and it was actually 47 percent higher than in December.

-Only 35 percent of all Americans say that they are better off financially than they were a year ago.

-What is happening to the U.S. stock market right now very closely resembles what happened to the U.S. stock market just before the horrific stock market crash of 1929.  Just check out the chart in this article.

For dozens more statistics that show that the U.S. economy is not improving, please see this article and this article.

Meanwhile, things continue to unravel all around the rest of the globe as well.

In previous articles, I have detailed how the reckless money printing by the Federal Reserve has inflated massive financial bubbles in emerging markets all over the planet.  Now that the Fed is “tapering”, those bubbles are starting to burst and we are witnessing a tremendous amount of economic chaos.  Here are three more examples…

#1 Ghana:

Ghanaian Economist Dr. Theo Richardson says Ghana’s economy will crash by June this year if the Bank of Ghana continues with its kneejerk measures to rescue the cedi.

“The government is facing liquidity problems and if we don’t get the appropriate remedies to address the issues at hand the situation may worsen and by Junethe economy may crash,” Dr. Richardson said.

#2 Kazakhstan:

With only $24.5 billion left in FX reserves after valiantly defending major capital outflows since the Fed’s Taper announcement, the Kazakhstan central bank has devalued the currency (Tenge) by 19% – its largest adjustment since 2009. At 185 KZT to the USD, this is the weakest the currency has ever been as the central bank cites weakness in the Russian Ruble and “speculation” against its currency as drivers of the outflows (which will be “exhausted” by this devaluation according to the bank). The new level will improve the country’s competitiveness (they are potassium heavy) but one wonders whether, unless Yellen folds whether it will help the outflows at all.

#3 India:

In the wake of a global stock market sell-off driven by worries over slower growth in emerging markets, the head of India’s central bank, Raghuram Rajan, criticized the U.S. Federal Reserve as it pressed on with plans to dial back its monthly bond purchases: “International monetary co-operation has broken down,” said Rajan, who added that “the U.S. should worry about the effects of its polices on the rest of the world.”

We have reached a “turning point” for the global financial system.  Things are beginning to fall apart both in the United States and all around the world.

But at least the dogs at the White House are eating well.  Just consider the following photo that was recently tweeted by Michelle Obama

Dogs In The White House

H1N1 flu surge in B.C. Lower Mainland lands people in ICUs – British Columbia – CBC News

H1N1 flu surge in B.C. Lower Mainland lands people in ICUs – British Columbia – CBC News.

Fraser Health says an outbreak of H1N1 flu has sent over a dozen people into intensive care in Lower Mainland hospitals. Officials say that H1N1 flu vaccines are effective but previous vaccinations against H1N1, which many people sought in 2009, may not help anymore due to mutations in the virus.Fraser Health says an outbreak of H1N1 flu has sent over a dozen people into intensive care in Lower Mainland hospitals. Officials say that H1N1 flu vaccines are effective but previous vaccinations against H1N1, which many people sought in 2009, may not help anymore due to mutations in the virus. (Chuck Stoody/The Canadian Press)

 

More than a dozen patients are in intensive care, some on ventilators, because of the H1N1 flu virus, according to the chief medical officer for a B.C. Lower Mainland health authority.

Dr. Paul Van Buynder, with Fraser Health, said Friday that 15 patients, many of them otherwise healthy, young people, were recently admitted to hospitals in the region.

“It is a lot for us at this particular time, especially because there is not a lot of circulating disease in the community at this point, and so we’re worried that this has happened to so many people so quickly,” he said.

He says the ages of the patients turning up with H1N1 flu span the spectrum, and include those in their 30s. He also said at least one of the patients is pregnant, and also that one person may have died from this flu strain.

“I have one person who hasn’t been confirmed, but I’m pretty sure did pass away from this,” Van Buynder told CBC News.

Van Buynder said medical officials are seeing small pockets of H1N1 breaking out across the region, in a pattern mirroring the flu’s spread in Alberta, Ontario and Texas.

Alberta’s Health Minister Fred Horne says there have been 965 lab-confirmed cases, another 251 people have been hospitalized due to influenza and five people have died so far this flu season.

The H1N1 flu outbreak of 2009, which the World Health Organization declared a global pandemic, prompted mass immunizations across Canada.

Van Buynder said anyone visiting a hospital or health facility in B.C. will either need to wear a mask, or be vaccinated against the flu — and he said that previous vaccinations against H1N1 may not help anymore due to mutations in the virus.

“Certainly we don’t think everybody should be reassured by previously being vaccinated, and we’d like them to make sure that they go out and get it again,” he said.

Fraser Health serves more than 1.6 million people from Burnaby to Hope, to Boston Bar.

oftwominds-Charles Hugh Smith: A New Way of Defining Wealth

oftwominds-Charles Hugh Smith: A New Way of Defining Wealth.

What if our commoditized, financialized definition of wealth reflects a staggering poverty of culture, spirit, wisdom, practicality and common sense?

The conventional definition of wealth is solely financial: ownership of universally valued money and assets. The assumption is that money can buy anything the owner desires: power, access, land, shelter, energy, transport and if not love, then a facsimile of caring.

The flaw in this reductionist definition is obvious: not everything of value can be purchased at any price–for example, health, once lost, cannot be purchased for $1 million, $10 million or even $100 million. A facsimile of friendship can be purchased (i.e. companions willing to trade fake friendliness for money), but true friendship cannot be bought at any price: its very nature renders friendship a non-commodity.

This explains the abundance of wealthy people who are miserable, lonely and phony to the core. Only commoditized goods and services can be bought with money or assets.

Given the limits of the conventional model of wealth, the question naturally arises: what if we defined wealth more by what cannot be bought rather than by what can be bought? Another way of making the distinction is to ask: what has been commoditized/globalized such that any person with money anywhere on the planet can buy it? What cannot be commoditized because it is intrinsically inaccessible to commodification?

We can start our inquiry with a series of questions:

1. What would be the impact on an individual’s health if modern medicine/pharmaceuticals were no longer available? Put another way: how dependent is one’s “good health” on commoditized interventions? How independent is an individual’s health/vitality from commoditized medicine?

Health that is sufficiently vibrant that it has no need for commoditized medicine cannot be bought, and therefore it is a form of intrinsic (non-commodity) wealth.

2. Can a shipwrecked individual swim two miles through open ocean from a doomed ship/yacht to safety? Money has no value if there is no help that can be bought; the individual’s only wealth in this situation (assuming they know how to swim) is their core physical strength and endurance–forms of wealth that cannot be substituted with money.

3. If Cicero was correct and “The man who has a garden and a library has everything,” then let’s ask not how extensive one’s library might be in terms of the number of volumes, but ask how many of the books (or ebooks) have been read, absorbed and enjoyed by the owner?

In other words, it’s not the ownership of a library which creates non-commoditized wealth but the joy, knowledge and pleasure derived from the reading of the books which defines wealth.

4. The same analysis can also be applied to a garden/orchard: what if we ask not how large the garden/orchard is in terms of square meters, but how expansive is the owner’s participation in the care of the garden/orchard, how much pleasure is created by the toil and harvest, and how much of the bounty is shared with others?

5. How many friendships does an individual have that began in high school or earlier and are still vibrant? How many friends does one have who can be entrusted with the deepest personal crises? How many friends’ homes are open to you, rain or shine?

What if we defined the person with no true friends as impoverished, regardless of their ownership of assets and cash? Many people seem to have professional acquaintances they call “friends” to mask their bottomless poverty of real friends and friendships.

6. What if wealth were measured in personal integrity, i.e. honesty, trustworthiness, compassion and the ability to remain accountable even as things fall apart?

This of course just a start: we could continue our redefinition of wealth to include kindness, empathy, the skills needed to organize volunteer community work parties, and so on.

As we explore what actually cannot be bought or commoditized, it raises this question: what if our commoditized, financialized definition of wealth reflects a staggering poverty of culture, spirit, wisdom, practicality and common sense?

Thyroid Cancers Surge Among Fukushima Youths | Zero Hedge

Thyroid Cancers Surge Among Fukushima Youths | Zero Hedge.

It seems US sailors aren’t the only ones who three short years after the Fukushima disaster are being stricken by cancers and other radiation-induced diseases. For once, the media blackout surrounding the Japanese nuclear power plant tragedy appears to have crumbled, and at least a portion of the truth has been revealed. Hong Kong’s SCMP reports that fifty-nine young people in Fukushima prefecture have been diagnosed with or are suspected of having thyroid cancer. Notably, all of newly diagnosed were younger than 18 at the time of the nuclear meltdown in the area in March 2011. They were identified in tests by the prefectural government, which covered 239,000 people by the end of September.

And while it is not rocket surgery to put two and two together, now that the data is in the public domain, here come the experts to explain it away.

On one hand, there are those who seemingly have not been bribed by the Abe government to “bend” reality just a bit in the name of confidence. People such as Toshihide Tsuda, a professor of epidemiology at Okayama University who has called upon the government to prepare for a possible increase in cases in the future. “The rate at which children in Fukushima prefecture have developed thyroid cancer can be called frequent, because it is several times to several tens of times higher,” Japan’s Asahi Shimbun quoted him as saying.

He compared the figures in Fukushima with cancer registration statistics throughout Japan from 1975 to 2008 that showed an annual average of five to 11 people in their late teens to early 20s developing cancer for every 1 million people.

And then come those who probably would still be touting the great job Tepco is doing in containing the worst nuclear catastrophe in history, even though Tepco itself has now admitted the exploded nuclear power plant is out of control.

Tetsuya Ohira, a professor of epidemiology at Fukushima Medical University, disagreed. It was not scientific to compare the Fukushima tests with cancer registry statistics, he argued. Scientific? Or notpolitically feasible for a prime minister who is desperate to restart domestic nuclear power plants, since Abenomics is getting monkeyhammered thanks to soaring energy and food import costs (and, among other factors, leading to a crash in Abe’s popularity rating), and any reality leaking, pardong the pun, from Fukushima will end both that ambition, and his political career prematurely.

Shockingly, a month ago, prefectural officials deemed it unlikely that the increase in suspected and confirmed cases of cancer was linked to radiation exposure. Their “logic” is that in the Chernobyl disaster of 1986, it was not until four or five years after the accident that thyroid cancer cases surged. Apparently the thought that the local cancer victims may have been subject to radiation orders of magnitude higher than Chernobyl thanks to a lying government which consistently repeated that “all is well” has not crossed anyone’s mind.

“It is known that radioactive iodine is linked to thyroid cancer. Through the intake of food, people may absorb and accumulate it inside glands,” said Dr Choi Kin, a former president of the Hong Kong Medical Association.

Children might absorb more of it than adults because they were still growing, he said, but it remained to be proven that the radioactive iodine came from the nuclear disaster instead of the normal environment.

Bottom line “experts” are divided about whether the Fukushima cancers are caused by nuclear radiation… which, perhaps, is why they are experts. As everyone else knows, a surge in thyroid cancer in a population in close proximity to an exploded power plant, can only be due to one thing: non-participation in the ponzi stock market. So start buying stocks, or else the p53 mutations are coming for you too!

 

Chinese woman dies from bird flu strain new to humans – World – CBC News

Chinese woman dies from bird flu strain new to humans – World – CBC News.

The H5N1 bird flu virus has killed 384 people worldwide since 2003.The H5N1 bird flu virus has killed 384 people worldwide since 2003.

Chinese authorities said Wednesday that a 73-year-old Chinese woman died after being infected with a bird flu strain that had sickened a human for the first time, a development that the World Health Organization called “worrisome.”

China’s Centre for Disease Control and Prevention confirmed the woman in the city of Nanchang had been infected by the H10N8 bird flu virus, a strain that had not previously been found in people, the Jiangxi province health department said on its website.

This is the second new bird flu strain to emerge in humans this year in China. In late March, the H7N9 bird flu virus broke out, infecting 140 people and killing 45, almost all of them on the mainland. The outbreak was controlled after the country closed many of its live animal markets — scientists had assumed the virus was infecting people through exposure to live birds.

Timothy O’Leary, spokesman for the World Health Organization’s regional office in Manila, said WHO officials were working closely with Chinese authorities to better understand the new virus. He said though its source remains unknown, birds are known to carry it and it would not be surprising if another human case was detected.

“It’s worrisome any time a disease jumps the species barrier from animals to humans. That said, the case is under investigation (by Chinese authorities) and there’s no evidence of human-to-human transmission yet,” O’Leary said by phone.

In the new case, the Jiangxi health department said the woman had severe pneumonia before dying Dec. 6 in a hospital in Nanchang.

She had suffered high blood pressure, heart disease and other underlying health problems that lowered her immunity, the health department said. Her medical history showed that she had been in contact with live poultry.

The health department said “no abnormalities” have been found in people who had close contact with her. It did not say if they had been tested or quarantined, though China has in previous outbreaks taken those measures.

Experts are cautious when it comes to bird flu viruses infecting humans. They have been closely watching the H5N1 bird flu virus, which has killed 384 people worldwide since 2003. The virus remains hard to catch with most human infections linked to contact with infected poultry, but scientists fear it could mutate and spread rapidly among people, potentially sparking a pandemic.

 

Antibacterial soap could pose health risks, FDA says – Health – CBC News

Antibacterial soap could pose health risks, FDA says – Health – CBC News.

Under its proposed rule released Monday, the agency will require manufacturers to prove that their antibacterial soaps and body washes are safe and more effective than plain soap and water. If companies cannot demonstrate the safety and effectiveness of their products, they would have to be reformulated, relabeled or possibly removed from the market. The agency will take comments on its proposal before finalizing it in coming months.

“Due to consumers’ extensive exposure to the ingredients in antibacterial soaps, we believe there should be a clearly demonstrated benefit from using antibacterial soap to balance any potential risk,” said Dr. Janet Woodcock, director of the FDA’s drug centre.

The agency’s proposal comes more than 40 years after the agency was first tasked with evaluating triclosan and similar ingredients. Ultimately, the government agreed to publish its findings only after a three-year legal battle with the environmental group, Natural Resources Defense Council, which accused the FDA of delaying action on triclosan. The chemical is found in an estimated 75 per cent of antibacterial liquid soaps and body washes sold in the U.S.

The FDA’s preliminary rule only applies to personal hygiene products, but it has implications for a $1 billion US industry that includes thousands of antibacterial products, including kitchen knives, toys, pacifiers and toothpaste.

Most of the research surrounding triclosan’s safety involves animal studies, which cannot always be applied to humans. But some scientists worry the chemical can disrupt hormones in humans too, raising the risk of infertility, early puberty and other developmental problems. Other experts are concerned that routine use of antibacterial chemicals like triclosan is contributing to a surge in drug-resistant germs, or superbugs, that render antibiotics ineffective.

In March 2010, the European Union banned the chemical from all products that come into contact with food, such as containers and silverware.

 

Food Poverty in the UK Has Reached “Public Health Emergency” Levels | A Lightning War for Liberty

Food Poverty in the UK Has Reached “Public Health Emergency” Levels | A Lightning War for Liberty.

Food Poverty in the UK Has Reached “Public Health Emergency” Levels

Posted on December 5, 2013

This tragic story emanating from the UK just doesn’t seem to go away. Probably because it’s true. The food crisis across the pond first came to my attention in earnest back in October when the Red Cross announced it was set to providefood aid to the UK for the first time since World War II.

The latest twist to this unacceptable saga comes via a letter send by a group of doctors and senior academics from the Medical Research Council and two leading universities to the British Medical Journal calling it a “public healthy emergency” and accusing the government of covering up the problem by delaying a report on the subject.

More from The Independent:

Hunger in Britain has reached the level of a “public health emergency” and the Government may be covering up the extent to which austerity and welfare cuts are adding to the problem, leading experts have said.

In a letter to the British Medical Journal, a group of doctors and senior academics from the Medical Research Council and two leading universities said that the effect of Government policies on vulnerable people’s ability to afford food needed to be “urgently” monitored.

A surge in the number of people requiring emergency food aid, a decrease in the amount of calories consumed by British families, and a doubling of the number of malnutrition cases seen at English hospitals represent “all the signs of a public health emergency that could go unrecognised until it is too late to take preventative action,” they write.

Despite mounting evidence for a growing food poverty crisis in the UK, ministers maintain there is “no robust evidence” of a link between sweeping welfare reforms and a rise in the use of food banks. However, publication of research into the phenomenon, commissioned by the Government itself, has been delayed, amid speculation that the findings may prove embarrassing for ministers.

Chris Mould, chief executive of the Trussell Trust, the largest national food bank provider said that one in three of the 350,000 people who required a food bank hand-out this year were children.

In their letter, Dr Taylor-Robinson, Professor Whitehead and colleagues cite figures recently released by the Government which revealed a surge in the number of malnutrition cases diagnosed at English hospitals since the recession – up from 3,161 in 2008/09 to 5,499 in 2012/13. They also draw attention to reports from the Institute for Fiscal Studies which found a decrease in the number of calories purchased by families, as well as “substitution with unhealthier foods, especially in families with young children”.

Fortunately for the UK, they are blessed with a concentration of oligarchs withsupposedly extraordinary capabilities so they should be able to sort this all out in now time. Isn’t that right Boris Johnson?

Full article here.

In Liberty,
Mike

 

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