Sandra Finley

Jul 312017
 

Many thanks to Al Jazeera for the report on the hacked emails.   The problem for Canadians – – look at the related postings.  It’s a little hard to imagine that what goes on in Washington isn’t going on in Ottawa, given the major players.

RELATED POSTINGS

2016-04-16 Court Challenge to Saudi Arms contract by Constitutional lawyer Daniel Turp – – interview on The House.

2016-02-05 Ottawa to face court challenge over $15 billion Saudi arms deal, G&M

2016-01-07 Canadian Arms Sale Pours Fuel on Saudi-Iran Fire, Chronicle Herald

2016-07-28 Canadian company sold armoured vehicles to South Sudan: UN Report, Globe & Mail

 

http://www.aljazeera.com/news/2017/07/hacked-emails-reveal-uae-influence-tanks-170731205133389.html

UAE envoy to United States wielded considerable clout over think tanks run by senior officials under Barack Obama.

UAE ambassador to the US Yousef al-Otaiba gained favours from Obama administration veterans by paying them large sums of money [AP]

 

The latest batch of leaked emails from the United Arab Emirates ambassador to the United States Yousef al-Otaiba has revealed the extent of influence the UAE held over various US think tanks, and in turn US foreign policy.

 

The Intercept reported that Otaiba, through the UAE embassy in Washington, DC, had gained substantial favours from Obama administration veterans by paying them handsome sums of money.

 

The emails are part of a collection of hacked correspondences leaked last month belonging to Otaiba’s Hotmail account, which he had used for official business.

 

One of the documents obtained was an invoice from an influential national security think tank, which billed the UAE embassy for research papers in return for facilitating the UAE’s purchase of large military-grade weapons from the Missile Technology Control Regime.

 

Under former President Barack Obama’s term, the MTCR prohibited the sale of such weapons beyond the US’ closest allies. However, the Center for New American Security think tank was part of a campaign to allow the UAE to buy these weaponries, specifically drones, The Intercept reported.

 

The CNAS had billed an invoice to the UAE embassy for $250,000 for a paper on “the legal regime governing the export of military-grade drones”.

 

Michele Flournoy, a senior Pentagon official in the Obama administration, wrote an email to Otaiba on June 24, 2016.

 

“Yousef: Here is the CNAS proposal for a project analysing the potential benefits and costs of the UAE joining the MTCR, as we discussed,” she wrote. “Please let us know whether this is what you had in mind.”

 

Otaiba replied two weeks later.

 

“Thank you for the report,” he wrote. “I think it will help push the debate in the right direction,” referring to moving his country’s agenda forward.

 

In a different set of emails, Flournoy asked Otaiba to intervene in his country’s interior ministry in order to assist in the promotion of selling electronic surveillance technology from a US-based firm, Polaris Wireless, to the UAE.

 

It is not clear where the hackers, who refer to themselves as “GlobalLeaks,” are from but they responded to The Intercept’s inquiry by saying they were “not affiliated with any country or religion”.

 

Source: Al Jazeera News

Jul 302017
 

From Dr. Gordon Edwards,

 

Dear Friends and Colleagues:

 

The site of the Chalk River Nuclear Laboratories and the nearby Canadian military base, Camp Petawawa, are situated on the traditional territory of the Algonquins of Pikwakanagan.

The management of Chalk River Laboratories is now in the hands of a consortium of profit-oriented multinational corporations called CNL.  The consortium is proposing to build an engineered mound several stories high just one kilometre from the Ottawa River to hold one million cubic metres of low and intermediate-level radioactive wastes as well as toxic chemicals.

The ownership of the Chalk River Laboratories, and all of the radioactive waste, remains with the Government of Canada through the crown corporation AECL (Atomic Energy of Canada Limited).

CNL is operating on a six-year contract with an option to extend that time by another four years.

CNL has met with the Pikwakanagan chief and council members to describe the proposed “Near Surface Disposal Facility” (NSDF) and to explain why CNL believes it will be perfectly safe to store such large volumes of chemically toxic and radioactive materials in perpetuity in such a facility.

On July 13, at the invitation of Chief Whiteduck, the chief and council members of the Algonquins of Pikwakanagan met with Dr. Ole Hendrickson and Lynn Jones of the Concerned Citizens of Renfrew County and Area to learn more about the concerns of critics of the proposed dump.

At that time one of the councillors asked what evidence exists to show that there is harm to human beings from radioactive pollutants.

The accompanying document was prepared to answer that question.

 

Gordon Edwards.

——————————–

 

Dear Chief Whiteduck and members of Council:

 

I have prepared a document (copied below) in response to Councillor Wendy’s question regarding whether there is any evidence of harm to living things from radioactive pollutants.  I have copied the text into this email.  I have also attached a link to a pdf version that I have posted on our web site, www.ccnr.org.

http://ccnr.org/Pikwakanagan-3.pdf

I have also posted a link to the pdf version of the slide show that I prepared for the meeting more than a week ago, which I gather was viewed by Council members at that time.

http://ccnr.org/GE_Algonquin_2017.pdf 

 

I will be happy to answer any questions you might have on this important subject.

Professionals in the nuclear industry and/or the regulatory body rarely have training in the biomedical field – they are for the lst part physicists, chemists or engineers. They have an understandable tendency to deny or downplay the health hazards associated with chronic exposures to low levels of radioactivity because it does not enhance the image of their industry to do otherwise.  Most industries do the same.  Tobacco companies are unwilling to be upfront about the dangers of their product.  Pharmaceutical companies are not always forthcoming regarding the harmful side effects of some of their products.  The nuclear industry is no different in this regard, especially when they are seeking approval to abandon huge volumes of highly toxic waste materials in a mound right beside a major water body.

I realize that Chalk River is a very important scientific facility and has done outstanding work in many areas, including the production of medical isotopes for hospital use and the design of nuclear reactors for electricity production, but this does not make the people who developed these technologies experts in environmental protection.

In my view, if they were indeed the best people to look after these radioactive wastes, or to judge what is best for the long term, there would not be such an appalling mess of radioactive contamination at Chalk River today.  I believe they have pretty clearly demonstrated that they are not necessarily the best people for the job of safeguarding these wastes over the very long term, to protect us all for thousands of years to come, long after they have all collected their paycheques and left the area.

 

Respectfully,

 

Gordon Edwards, Ph.D., President,

Canadian Coalition for Nuclear Responsibility.

 

===================================

 

The Harm Caused by Radioactivity

Prepared for the Algonquins of Pikwakanagan

by Gordon Edwards, Ph.D., July 2017.

 

Atoms and Molecules

 

All material things are made up of atoms.  There are 92 different kinds of atoms found in nature, ranging from hydrogen (the lightest) to uranium (the heaviest).

Every atom has a tiny but massive core called its nucleus. The nucleus is surrounded by orbiting electrons (one electron for hydrogen, 92 electrons for uranium).

Molecules are combinations of atoms.  For example a molecule of water is H2O – two hydrogen atoms bonded together with one oxygen atom.  The bond that holds the atoms together in a molecule is the force of electromagnetic attraction.  That force is the result of atoms sharing their orbiting electrons; it does not affect the nucleus.

The cells in our body contain a great many complicated organic molecules, the most important one being the DNA molecule.  DNA carries the genetic instructions that we inherited from our parents. DNA tells our cells how to reproduce properly.

All organic molecules have chains of carbon atoms bonded to numerous hydrogen atoms, and other types of atoms too. Such molecules are the building blocks of life.

Chemical energy does not involve the nucleus, it only involves the orbiting electrons. Nuclear energy refers to energy that comes directly from the atomic nucleus; it is millions of times more powerful than chemical energy. Science had no knowledge of nuclear energy until the end of the 19th century.

 

Ions and Ionizing Radiation

 

“Ionizing Radiation” refers to any form of energy that is powerful enough to break molecules apart by randomly smashing the bonds holding its atoms together.  The electrically charged fragments of broken molecules are “ions” (or “free radicals”).

Ions are unstable. Because they are electrically charged they repel and attract other ions, causing chaotic chemical reactions to take place rapidly. Chaos is unhealthy.

The most commonly encountered forms of ionizing radiation are (1) x-rays from an x-ray machine and (2) emissions from the disintegration of radioactive materials.

Most other forms of radiation, such as visible light, infrared, microwaves, radio and television waves, are non-ionizing.  They can not break molecular bonds.

 

Biological Effects of Ionizing Radiation

 

Massive doses of ionizing radiation are deadly, killing any human being within days of exposure. So many molecules are destroyed, and so many organs are damaged, that the body cannot survive.  Such damage can be caused by a nuclear explosion.

Large but not lethal doses of ionizing radiation can cause nausea, vomiting, hair loss, sterility, eye cataracts, and severe burns that are very difficult to heal. Some of these symptoms are experienced by cancer patients undergoing radiotherapy.  In the case of pregnant women, such exposures to ionizing radiation can lead to the birth of deformed children, including babies with shrunken heads and impaired intelligence.  These effects are all well-documented in the scientific literature.

Low doses of ionizing radiation do not cause any immediately perceptible harm, but there is always damage to living cells within the body of the person so exposed.

The chaotic disruption caused by ionizing radiation is damaging to any exposed cell, often killing the cell, sometimes damaging it beyond repair. Fortunately, the body can replace such dead or non-functioning cells if the damage is not too extensive.

There are mechanisms available within the cell that can sometimes repair the damage done by ionizing radiation, but not always.  When repair fails, a cell crippled by ionizing radiation may go on living and reproducing with damaged DNA instructions.  It then multiplies in an abnormal fashion, yielding a cancer years later.

Although very few damaged cells develop into cancers, a wide variety of lethal and non-lethal radiation-caused cancers have been observed in populations exposed to low levels of ionizing radiation.  These are well described in the scientific literature.

Under a microscope one can see that blood changes occur even with low doses of ionizing radiation.  The blood cells most easily harmed are those that are needed by the body to fight infections. Thus ionizing radiation weakens the body’s immune system, making the individual more susceptible to a variety of infectious diseases.

In experimental animals it has been demonstrated beyond any doubt that even very small doses of ionizing radiation can damage the DNA of reproductive cells (eggs and sperm) of individuals.  Visibly defective offspring eventually result.  H. J. Muller won the Nobel Prize in 1946 for showing that there is no dose of ionizing radiation low enough to prevent harmful mutations from being caused by such exposures.

Similar evidence of radiation-induced mutations has not been found in human populations, but it is assumed that harmful mutations probably do occur in humans following exposure of their reproductive organs to ionizing radiation. All other species that have been studied have shown such effects.  This is the main reason that lead aprons are used to cover genitals when people are x-rayed in hospitals.

 

X-Rays – The Discovery of Ionizing Radiation

 

Ionizing radiation was unknown to science until 122 years ago.  Our first notice of ionizing radiation was the discovery of x-rays in 1895 by W. Roentgen in Germany.

An x-ray machine is powered by electricity. It can be turned on and off, like a light switch. When the x-ray machine is off it is harmless, but when it’s on it’s dangerous. That’s why, before giving an x-ray to a patient, the technician leaves the room.

When the x-ray machine is on, a powerful kind of invisible light – an x-ray – is given off.  While it can penetrate right through soft tissue as if it were made of glass, the   x-ray is blocked by denser material like bones. In this way doctors can examine the images of the bones of a human skeleton by catching their “shadows” cast by the x-rays on photographic paper or on an illuminated viewing screen.

The harmful effects of x-rays were discovered almost immediately.  Severe burns, eye cataracts, sterilization of experimental animals, and excess leukemia among radiologists, all caused by x-ray exposures, were recognized by the first decade of the 20th century.  And the ionizing character of x-rays was documented right away.

Doctors quickly realized that the destructive effects of x-rays could be used to advantage to fight malignant tumors (cancerous growths) by blasting them with     x-rays.  It works, at least partially.  Ironically, some of those same doctors years later died of cancers that were caused by their own repeated exposures to x-rays.

 

Radioactivity – The Discovery of Nuclear Energy

 

In 1896, just a year after the discovery of x-rays, a scientist in Paris named Henri Becquerel discovered radioactivity. It was an accidental event.

Becquerel had a rock containing uranium in a desk drawer.  In that same drawer he had a photographic plate wrapped in black paper to block any light.  But when the photo was developed, there was a blurry image – apparently caused by the rock.

This was a stunning discovery. Somehow, the rock was giving off an invisible kind of light, penetrating right through the black paper that blocked all visible light, so as to create an unmistakable image on a photographic plate.  The rock was behaving like a miniature x-ray machine that could not be shut off. How is that possible?

Where was this powerful invisible light coming from? There was no external power source – no electricity, no sunlight, no chemical reactions. Over the next few years the mystery was unravelled.  It was discovered that some atoms have an unstable nucleus, and uranium is one of those.  Such unstable atoms are called “radioactive”.  The nucleus of a radioactive atom spontaneously emits ionizing radiation. And it doesn’t stop. It is an ongoing release of nuclear energy that cannot be shut off.

 

Dangers of Radioactivity 1 – Radium

 

In 1898, Marie Curie discovered two new radioactive elements that are much more intensely radioactive than uranium alone. She named them “radium” and “polonium”.  They were found in the same sort of rock that Becquerel had used.

Later that year, Becquerel carried a sealed tube of radium in his vest pocket. As a result he got a nasty “radiation burn” on his torso that was painful, very slow to heal, and left an ugly scar. Marie Curie’s hands also suffered painful radiation burns after she handled a thin metal box containing a small tube of radium.

Seeing these burns, doctors used radium-filled “needles” to shrink solid tumors. Such a needle inserted into an unwanted growth delivers most of its harmful ionizing radiation to the diseased tissue while minimizing the dose to healthy tissue. Workers preparing the needles, surgeons implanting them, and nurses attending patients often received substantial doses of ionizing radiation themselves.

In 1908 a radium-based paint was developed that makes things glow in the dark. The invisible ionizing radiation given off by disintegrating radium atoms is absorbed and converted into visible light by specialized paint molecules. The glow that results needs no battery or other power source, not even exposure to sunlight. It just glows.

This soon became big business.  Thousands of teenaged girls were hired to paint the dials of watches and instruments with this wondrous new kind of paint.  By 1914 radium had become the most expensive substance on earth, at $180,000 per gram. It was painstaking work; the girls often used their lips to put a fine tip on their brush.

By the 1920s many of the dial painters had developed severe anemia, in some cases fatal. Autopsies of the girls’ bodies revealed ionizing radiation emanating from their bones, spleen and liver, due to tiny amounts of radium deposited in their organs.

Many girls also had grave dental problems with teeth breaking and falling out due to bone deterioration, plus rampant bacterial infections. Dentists working on the girls’ teeth found the jaw bones to be soft and porous, even fracturing spontaneously.  Dr. Martland, a forensic pathologist, showed in 1925 that these symptoms (termed “radium jaw”) were caused by tiny amounts of radium that had embrittled the bone.

Before long, cases of bone cancer began to be observed among the surviving dial painters. Over 1200 deaths from bone cancer were ultimately recorded in that population. It was crystal clear that ionizing radiation from radium deposited in the girls’ skeletons was the cause. In every case, the lethal amount of radium in any girls’ body was less than a milligram (a milligram is one thousandth of a gram).

Years later, several hundred of the remaining dial painters developed head cancers – cancers of the sinus and mastoid – caused by a radioactive gas (radon) produced by disintegration of radium atoms in the bones and carried by the blood to the head.

 

Dangers of Radioactivity 2 – Radon Gas

 

For 400 years, underground miners in the Schneeburg region of Germany suffered from a mysterious lung ailment that killed up to half the mining population.  In the mid-19th century the disease was identified as lung cancer. The cause was unknown.

By the 1930s, scientists learned that the miners’ lung cancers were brought about by breathing a radioactive gas called radon. It was pervasive in the underground tunnels. Ionizing radiation given off by the inhaled gas turned lung cells cancerous.

Radon gas is one of the most powerful cancer-causing agents known to science. It is invisible, odourless, and tasteless. It is seven times heavier than air, so it stays close to the ground. It cannot be filtered out of the air. And it is continually being created, one atom at a time, by the disintegration of radium atoms.

When a radium atom disintegrates it does not disappear, it becomes an atom of radon gas. So radium, a radioactive heavy metal, is gradually transforming itself into a radioactive gas. Indeed, every atom of radon was once an atom of radium.

These men were mining for silver and cobalt, but the ore was also rich in uranium.  Wherever uranium is found, there also is radium, as Marie Curie demonstrated in 1898. So there will be radon too – the gas is a so-called “decay product” of radium.

Throughout the twentieth century, underground uranium miners around the world suffered excess lung cancers caused by their exposures to radon gas – from the Navajo Indians mining uranium on the Colorado Plateau, to underground miners in Sweden and South Africa, to Canadian miners in the Northwest Territories, Northern Saskatchewan, Elliot Lake Ontario, and Newfoundland – all experienced a dramatically elevated incidence of lung cancer caused by their radon gas exposures.

The US Environmental Protection Agency estimates that currently, between 20,000 and 30,000 lung cancer deaths occur every year from American citizens breathing radon gas in their homes.  Radon gas enters homes when the soil has a higher than usual amount of radium, or when radium-contaminated materials are used in the construction of homes, as has happened in many communities.

Sometimes radon enters homes in the form of radioactively contaminated water (i.e. water containing dissolved radon).  In such cases high radon exposures often result from showering. Radon gas is the leading cause of lung cancer among non-smokers.

Because radium is such a deadly substance, it is now considered too dangerous to use in commercial applications. So radium became a radioactive waste product of uranium mining. Since the mid-20th century, massive piles of radium-bearing wastes – over 200 million tonnes in Canada – have been stored at the surface in the form of a fine sand.  These sandy wastes constantly give off radon gas into the atmosphere.

 

Dangers of Radioactivity 3 – Polonium

 

When uranium atoms disintegrate, they change into about two dozen other radioactive materials – these are the “decay products” of uranium.  Among these decay products are radium, radon, and polonium.  That’s why uranium ore always contains radium and polonium; they are both natural byproducts of uranium.

Since the Chalk River Near Surface Disposal Facility is intended to store a very large amount of uranium (1000 tonnes!), there will be always more and more radium, radon and polonium in those wastes as the centuries go by, increasing without end, as more and more uranium atoms disintegrate into their natural decay products.

Polonium is a radioactive solid that occurs in nature as a decay product of radon. When an atom of radon disintegrates, it becomes an atom of polonium.  In fact there are 3 different varieties (called “isotopes”) of polonium : polonium-218, polonium-214, and polonium-210. They are all radioactive byproducts of radon gas. And, of course, every atom of radon was once an atom of radium, and every atom of radium was once an atom of uranium, so it’s all happening all the time – a “decay chain”.

It so happens that polonium is the deadliest element on earth. Scientists at Los Alamos Laboratory in New Mexico, the place where they developed the explosive mechanism for the first atomic bomb, say polonium-210 is 250 billion times more toxic than cyanide. So whatever amount of cyanide is needed to kill a human being, that same amount of polonium-210 would be enough to kill 250 billion humans.

In 2008 a small amount of polonium-210 was dumped into a cup of tea in London, England, to murder an ex-Russian spy named Alexander Litvinenko.  He died an agonizing death as all his internal organs shut down one by one.  Polonium-210 attaches itself to red blood cells and so it spreads all over the body by normal blood circulation. The ionizing radiation given off by disintegrating polonium atoms is particular devastating to living tissue, wherever that tissue may be in the body.

When tobacco is grown, radon gas builds up under the thick leaves, and atoms of polonium are produced there. Polonium adheres to the sticky hairs on the leaves, so a very tiny amount ends up in the harvested tobacco. This situation is made worse when radioactive fertilizer is used to promote the growth of the tobacco plants.

The American Health Physics Society, specializing in monitoring radiation, estimates that 90 percent of the deaths attributed to cigarette smoking are actually caused by polonium-210 in cigarette smoke. So polonium is killing over 200,000 Americans per year, due to lung cancer, heart attacks and strokes caused by ionizing radiation.

Inuit people have more polonium in their bodies than the average Canadian because they eat a lot of caribou meat.  Caribou eat a lot of lichen, and the lichen absorbs the polonium dust that slowly settles out from radon gas atoms disintegrating in the air.

 

Is There a Safe Dose of Ionizing Radiation?

 

Large doses of ionizing radiation can cause death, radiation sickness, hair loss, sterility, radiation burns, cataracts, and many other harmful effects that are apparent within hours, days, or weeks of exposure – within a year, at least.  These are called “prompt effects”; they can all be prevented by lowering the exposure.

Low doses of ionizing radiation can cause cancers, leukemias, genetic damage to the DNA of reproductive cells, and a variety of other ailments that will often not become apparent for years or even decades after exposure.  These are called “delayed effects” of ionizing radiation.  (The technical term is “stochastic effects”.) Delayed effects cannot be altogether prevented just by lowering the level of exposure.

Many scientific bodies exist to sift through the scientific evidence and determine the truth as they see it.  These include UNSCEAR (United Nations Scientific Committee on the Effects of Atomic Radiation), the BEIR Committee of the NAS (National Academy of Sciences Committee on the Biological Effects of Ionizing Radiation), and the ICRP (International Committee on Radiological Protection).  These bodies have issued a series of reports over many years on the subject of ionizing radiation.

The scientific consensus of all these committees is that any dose of ionizing radiation, no matter how small, can in principle cause the delayed effects mentioned above: cancer, leukemia, or genetic damage.  But with very low doses of ionizing radiation, the fraction of the exposed population suffering such harm is also low.

All these scientific committees have accepted the “linear hypothesis” as the best guide.  The linear hypothesis implies that there is no safe threshold of exposure to ionizing radiation, because harmful effects – including lethal effects – can be experienced by individuals exposed to even low levels. To be more precise the linear hypothesis states that the number of damaged individuals in an exposed population is roughly proportional to the average dose multiplied by the size of the population.

It is worth noting that every nuclear regulatory body in the world has formally accepted the linear hypothesis. All radiation limits and standards are based on the linear hypothesis, with no assumed safe threshold.  This means that there is no absolutely safe dose of ionizing radiation, so all exposures should be kept to zero if possible.  The “permissible levels” of radiation exposure are based on the belief that some level of radiation-caused cancers or genetic defects is acceptable in exchange for the benefits of the radiation exposure that caused these harmful effects. It is also well-established that women and children are much more vulnerable than men.

When it comes to very long-lived radioactive waste materials that will be around for hundreds of thousands of years, the linear hypothesis becomes very worrisome, because the exposed population is not just those people who are living near the waste right now, but all the future generations of people who will live near the wastes for thousands of years to come.  As the exposed population grows larger and larger with time, the number of cancers and genetic defects becomes incalculable.

 

Radioactive Emissions: Alpha, Beta and Gamma

 

Sooner or later the nucleus of any radioactive atom will disintegrate (i.e. explode). Any emission given off during such a disintegration is called “atomic radiation”.  The half-life of a radioactive element is the time needed for half its atoms to disintegrate

Radioactivity is measured by how many disintegrations occur in one second. One disintegration per second is referred to as a “Becquerel” (Bq). A terabecquerel (TBq) is a trillion becquerels, indicating that a million million radioactive disintegrations are taking place every second. Many of the radioactive waste materials to be deposited in the Chalk River Near Surface Disposal Facility, according to authorities, are measured in terabecquerels, sometimes even thousands of terabecquerels.

When a nucleus disintegrates, it ejects an electrically charged particle, travelling incredibly fast, that can smash molecular bonds with ease.  There are two types of such particles. An “alpha particle” is positively charged, whereas a  “beta particle” is negatively charged. Almost all radioactive elements can be classified into one of two categories – either as an “alpha-emitter” or as a “beta-emitter”.  For example, polonium is an alpha-emitter, while tritium (radioactive hydrogen) is a beta-emitter.

In many cases, a disintegrating nucleus may also give off a burst of pure energy, very similar to an x-ray, but far more powerful. Such emissions are called “gamma rays”.  Any radioactive element that gives off gamma rays is called a “gamma-emitter”.  Technetium-99m, used in hospitals for diagnostic tests, is a gamma-emitter.

Since alpha particles, beta particles, and gamma rays all break molecular bonds, they are all classified as “ionizing radiation”.  As such, they are all able to cause any of the adverse effects described earlier as health consequences of ionizing radiation.

While alpha particles and beta particles are material projectiles, and not radiation at all, they are sometimes incorrectly referred to as “alpha rays” and “beta rays”. Being particles, however, they are much less penetrating than x-rays or gamma rays.

Gamma rays are the most penetrating form of atomic radiation, requiring heavy lead shielding to limit exposures.  Beta particles are much less penetrating. They can travel only a few centimetres in soft tissue, and can be stopped by an aluminum plate.  Alpha particles are the least penetrating, unable to pass through a sheet of writing paper or even a glass window. Despite the differences they’re all dangerous.

Due to limited powers of penetration, alpha-emitters and beta-emitters are mainly internal hazards (i.e. they normally must be inside the body to do severe harm). Once inside the body, alpha emitters are much more damaging than beta emitters.  An alpha particle is 7000 times more massive than a beta particle. If a beta particle is thought of as a kind of subatomic bullet, then an alpha particle is a kind of subatomic cannon ball : the cannon ball is less penetrating but more damaging.

Gamma rays, because of their great penetrating power, are external hazards as well as well as internal hazards (i.e. when gamma emitters are ingested or inhaled).

 

Special Dangers of Alpha and Beta Emitters

 

Gamma-emitters are easy to detect with radiation monitoring equipment. Even if a gamma emitter is inside your body it can set off a radiation alarm.  Alpha-emitters and beta-emitters are more difficult to detect even outside the body, and once inside the body they generally escape routine detection altogether. Laboratory analysis of urine or excrement or some other contaminated samples must then be carried out.

Canadian nuclear authorities have on occasion failed to detect alpha-emitters and beta-emitters for weeks, even while clean-up crews were being contaminated.

During a retubing operation at Pickering in the 1980s, workers were contaminated with a beta-emitting radioactive dust (carbon-14) for weeks. By the time authorities finally identified the danger, workers had been tracking the material to their homes on a regular basis. Bedclothes and some furniture had to be removed from workers’ homes and disposed of as radioactive waste.  Internal contamination of the worker’s bodies by inhalation and ingestion of radioactive carbon dust could not be undone.

More recently, during the refurbishment of the Bruce A nuclear reactors in 2009, over 500 contract workers – not regular employees of Bruce Power – inhaled alpha-emitting dust on the job for several weeks before the authorities detected the hazard. Those alpha-emitting radioactive materials are now lodged inside the worker’s lungs and other internal organs, and will be there for years to come.  Long after the job has ended, their bodies will continue to be irradiated from the inside.

Both of these episodes could have been avoided if nuclear authorities had tested air samples for radioactive contamination on a daily basis, or if workers had been issued respirators and protective clothing.  But incredible as it may seem, the regulator (CNSC) found none of the managers or inspectors guilty of negligence.

It is a fact that alpha-emitters have killed more people during the twentieth century than any other kinds of radioactive materials.  Radium, radon, polonium, and uranium are all alpha-emitters, and they have killed hundreds of thousands.

Inside every nuclear reactor, new man-made alpha-emitters are created, such as plutonium, neptunium, americium, and curium. These are among the alpha-emitting radioactive materials that were suspended in the air inside the Bruce reactor building while contract workers without respirators went about their work.

The Chalk River Near Surface Disposal Facility is intended to store a significant amount of plutonium and other alpha-emitting material – all of it difficult to detect, all of it highly dangerous even in tiny amounts. The main reason that the Chalk River radioactive waste will remain dangerous for hundreds of thousands of years is that many of the human-made alpha emitters have very long lives. Plutonium-239 has a half-life of 24,000 years, but its decay product has a half-life of 700 million years.

 

Conclusion

 

Here are some statements from various official bodies in Canada and elsewhere:

 

  1. Report to the U.S. Congress by the Comptroller General of the United States

“Nuclear Energy’s Dilemma: Disposing of Nuclear Waste Safely” (Sept 1977)

“Radioactive wastes, being highly toxic, can damage or destroy living cells, causing cancer and possibly death depending on the quantity and length of time individuals are exposed to them.  Some radioactive wastes will remain hazardous for hundreds of thousands of years.  Decisions on what to do with these wastes will affect the lives of future generations….”

“To safeguard present and future generations, locations must be found to isolate these wastes and their harmful environmental effects.  A program must be developed for present and future waste disposal operations that will not create unwarranted public risk.  Otherwise, nuclear power cannot continue to be a practical source of energy.”

 

  1. Nuclear Policy Review, Background Papers (Report ER81-2E)

Energy Mines and Resources, Government of Canada, 1982

“Despite repeated assurances that nuclear waste disposal presents no insoluble scientific, engineering, or environmental problems, the issue remains in the minds of the public and some members of the scientific community as a serious unresolved issue associated with the development of nuclear energy….”

“Three general issues can be highlighted.  First, there is a concern that society is imposing a serious burden on future generations by leaving behind a legacy of radioactive wastes which may prove difficult to manage….

“This naturally raises a second question.  How can it be proven that waste disposal systems will perform adequately over very long periods of time? ….

 “Finally, there is the problem of establishing what the words “perform acceptably” mean.  A clear general statement of overall principles applying to radioactive waste management has yet to be agreed upon within Canada or internationally.”

 

  1. BEIR-VII – 7th Report on the Biological Effects of Ionizing Radiation (2008)

The National Research Council of the US National Academy of Sciences

“The scientific research base shows that there is no threshold of exposure below which low levels of ionizing radiation can be demonstrated to be harmless or beneficial. The health risks – particularly the development of solid cancers in organs – rise propor-tionally with exposure. At low doses of radiation, the risk of inducing solid cancers is very small. But as the overall lifetime exposure increases, so does the risk.”

Committee Chair Richard R. Monson, Professor of Epidemiology,

Harvard School of Public Health, Boston; Press Release, June 2007

 

  1. Nuclear Power and the Environment, Sir Brian Flowers (Sept 1976)

Sixth Report of the UK Royal Commission on the Environment

 “We must assume that these wastes will remain dangerous, and will need to be isolated from the biosphere, for hundreds of thousands of years.  In considering arrangements for dealing safely with such wastes man is faced with time scales that transcend his experience….

 “The creation of wastes which will need to be contained for such periods of time, and hence of a legacy of risk and responsibility to our remote descendants, is a matter of great concern to many people.  We think, however, that some continuity must be assumed in human affairs and institutions, and in the ability of future generations to maintain the necessary containment.”

 “We are confident that an acceptable solution will be found and we attach great importance to the search; for we are agreed that it would be irresponsible and morally wrong to commit future generations to the consequences of fission power on a massive scale unless it has been demonstrated beyond reasonable doubt that at least one method exists for the safe isolation of these wastes for the indefinite future.”

 

  1. Select Committee on Ontario Hydro Affairs, Ontario Legislature (June 1980)

The Management of Nuclear Fuel Waste, Final Report

 “The consensus of the Committee is that communities are not likely to easily accept the siting of what will be perceived as a garbage dump for frightening nuclear poisons.  The waste must be disposed of.  It must be disposed of safely and permanently.  In the Committee’s view, it is most likely that government will ultimately have to choose where the unpopular site will be located….”

 “One of the major problems AECL must overcome is the public’s perception that its entire program — from basic research to public information — is biased by its commitment to nuclear power and consequent desire to show that waste disposal is not an insuperable problem.  The Committee’s view is that AECL compounded its credibility problem by its one-sided, overly positive and broadly pro-nuclear presentation of information.”

 

  1. A Race Against Time, Interim Report on Nuclear Power In Ontario (Sept 1978)

Ontario Royal Commission on Electric Power Planning, Arthur Porter

“Given the very long life of these toxic materials, no man-made containment system can ever be predicted to give sufficient protection.  All over the world scientists are looking for ways to use nature as a final barrier.”

 

Articles by Dr. Gordon Edwards on the Biological Effects of Ionizing Radiation

 

  Open Letter to Physicists:  http://www.ccnr.org/open_letter.html

     Report for Environmental Advisory Council: http://www.ccnr.org/CEAC_B.html

  Estimating Lung Cancers:  http://www.ccnr.org/lung_cancer_1.html

     Review of Tritium Report:  http://www.ccnr.org/GE_ODWAC_2009_e.pdf

 – – – – – – – – – –

 

On Jul 14, 2017, at 11:05 AM, Lynn Jones wrote:

 

Dear Chief Whiteduck and members of Council 

 

Thank you very much for meeting with our group yesterday. We appreciated the opportunity to share some of our concerns and the frank and open discussion with you all. We can appreciate the difficult position you are in and hope we can stay in touch with you as the process of dealing with Chalk River’s radioactive wastes continues.

As I mentioned, Dr. Gordon Edwards was very sorry to be unable to attend yesterday. He would like to provide you with some information in response to Councillor Wendy’s question as to whether there is any evidence that radioactive pollution causes harm to living things. I have copied him on this message so that he will be able to send this information to you directly. 

 

Best wishes,

Lynn

Jul 292017
 

http://www.cbc.ca/1.4175496

RELATED POSTINGS:

Katie Mohammed has been awarded $7,500 in damages under Ontario's anti-SLAPP laws.

Katie Mohammed has been awarded $7,500 in damages under Ontario’s anti-SLAPP laws. (Katie Mohammed)

LISTEN  (5:42)

A Stouffville, Ont. teacher has become the first person in Ontario to be awarded damages under provincial rules designed to protect the free speech of ordinary citizens.

“It was like a weight has been lifted off my shoulders,” Katie Mohammed told As It Happens guest host Helen Mann.

Her ordeal began last fall on her son’s first day of senior kindergarten. She said she was snuggling on the couch with her family when someone knocked on her front door.

“It was a man and he told me that he was there regarding comments I had made on Facebook about a company,” Mohammed said.

 

He handed her a letter from United Soils Management threatening to sue her for libel over posts she had made in two private community Facebook groups — “Stouffville Mommies” and “Stouffville Buy and Sell.”

In the posts, Mohammed expressed concern about the company’s plan to deposit fill in a local pit, writing the process could “potentially poison our children.”

She directed readers to a local newspaper article in which several town councillors warned the hydro-excavation trucks used for the process could contaminate the nearby drinking water supply — an allegation the company vehemently denies.

 

United Soils demanded Mohammed retract her statements and apologize immediately. She says she did as they asked — both on Facebook and in personalized letters to the company.

“I didn’t think any more of it until the Friday after the first week of school and I got another knock at the door and it was the same man and he said, ‘Katie Mohammed, it’s a lawsuit now,'” she said.

“And I went into the kitchen and I opened it up and I read through it and I just collapsed on the floor when I found out that they were suing me for $120,000.”

 

Dismissed under anti-SLAPP laws

Mohammed said she couldn’t afford to fight a lawsuit and she certainly couldn’t afford to pay the damages.

“Oh my goodness, I was terrified,” she said. “Where am I going to get this money from? Am I going to have to sell my family home to do this? And what about my kids’ education funds?”

She also feared the lawsuit would affect her job as a teacher, if people found out.

“What is the community going to think about this and what are they going to think about me?”

The community, however, had Mohammed’s back. In fact, the mayor called her this week to give her the good news that the lawsuit had been thrown out.

 

Ontario Superior Court Justice Thomas Lederer ruled in Mohammed’s favour, citing the province’s “strategic lawsuits against public participation” rules or anti-SLAPP measures.

The provincial rules came into effect in October 2015 and are designed to protect ordinary citizens from being silenced on issues of public interest by lawsuits from big companies.

“If this action is allowed to proceed, there is no way of knowing how many people interested in this issue, or for that matter any other public concern, will feel intimidated and not take part for fear of being subject to a similar lawsuit,” the judge wrote.

What’s more, he awarded Mohammed $7,500 in damages, to be paid by United Soils, writing: “I accept that this action unnecessarily caused Katie Mohammed stress that affected her day to day life.”

As It Happens reached out to the company’s owner, Alec Cloke, who declined to comment.

“Now that I have the ruling, I feel a lot more confident and I feel that free speech as been protected,” Mohammed said.

“If it hadn’t been for the SLAPP laws, then I don’t know where I would be financially, trying to fight this in the courts.”

CBC is not responsible for 3rd party content

 

Jul 182017
 

The Mulroney Government approved the sale of Ogilvie Mills, the last independent milling company in Canada to ADM after they passed NAFTA:

“The sheer fact that Brian Mulroney went from being a Canadian prime minister to the most prominent director of Archer Daniels Midland (ADM) should never be lost o­n the investigation. . . .

 

http://plawiuk.blogspot.ca/2005/07/ethanol-scam-adm-and-brian-mulroney.html

Monday, July 18, 2005

The Ethanol Scam: ADM and Brian Mulroney

Ethanol burns more than it saves: study
Researchers at Cornell University and the University of California-Berkeley say it takes 29 per cent more fossil energy to turn corn into ethanol than the amount of fuel the process produces. For switch grass, a warm weather perennial grass found in the Great Plains and eastern United States, it takes 45 per cent more energy and for wood, 57 per cent. It takes 27 per cent more energy to turn soybeans into biodiesel fuel, the study found. “Ethanol production in the United States does not benefit the nation’s energy security, its agriculture, the economy, or the environment,” according to the study by Cornell’s David Pimentel and Berkeley’s Tad Patzek. They conclude the country would be better off investing in solar, wind and hydrogen energy.The researchers included such factors as the energy used in producing the crop, costs that were not used in other studies that supported ethanol production, Mr. Pimentel said.The study also omitted $3-billion (U.S.) in state and federal government subsidies that go toward ethanol production in the United States each year, payments that mask the true costs, Mr. Pimentel said Gee would those subsidies be the ones that went to Agribusiness giants like Archer Daniels Midland (ADM), who monopolize the ethanol market with their domination of corn and soyabean markets. As the “Supermarket to the World” brags on their web page:“ADM is working with the abundant and renewable products of agriculture to develop nature-based fuels & industrials alternatives to the world’s finite stores of fossil fuels. Today, we are recognized as a leader in the production of cleaner-burning fuel ethanol. Additionally, ADM is a leading producer of consistently reliable, high-performing and naturally derived products for a diverse group of industries.”

ADM, who have been charged with criminal conspiracy in the past, claim that they are helping create a clean energy for the future with their corn/soyabean ethanol projects. Hmm but the study says: “Ethanol production in the United States does not benefit the nation’s energy security, its agriculture, the economy, or the environment” But it sure does benefit ADM.



“Little attention is given to ADM’s controlling position within ethanol, the industry’s shaky dependence on a complex, multi-tiered subsidy regime, or the basic volatility of commodity prices.” Ethanol Subsidies for ADM & Other Corporate Kleptomaniacs Will Not Solve Energy Crisis

ADM’s Canadian connection: during the ADM price fixing scandal they hired former Canadian Prime Minister Brian Mulroney, to act as a director in charge of corporate transparency. He remains on the board today.

The Mulroney Government approved the sale of Ogilvie Mills, the last independent milling company in Canada to ADM after they passed NAFTA.

“1993-1994 – ADM purchased Ogilvie Mills, the largest miller in Canada and a world leader in production of starch, gluten, and other wheat ingredients, with annual sales of $275 million. The flour-milling business arm of the new conglomerate then signed long-term supply contracts with the Toronto-based food and retailing giant George Weston Ltd, United Oilseeds Products Inc., a canola crushing plant in Lloydminster, Alta., (which was jointly owned by United Grain Growers Ltd. of Winnipeg and Mitsubishi Corp. of Japan), and the agriculture operations of International Multifoods Corp. of Minneapolis, a business that included 11 feed mills and a chicken hatchery in Canada.”
Ogilvie Flour Mills :Univeristy of Manitoba Special Collections

“The sheer fact that Brian Mulroney went from being a Canadian prime minister to the most prominent director of Archer Daniels Midland (ADM) should never be lost o­n the investigation. The statement of ADM chairman to some grumbling shareholders in praising Brian Mulroney and showing them the highest value to the company is a glaring testimony.”The Death of the Canadian Farmer

The Andreas family that owns ADM have been large contributors to U.S. Presidential Campaigns. Especially Republican ones. The recent Bush subsidies for Agriculture benefit ADM more than the family farmer.

“The Andreas clan began supplanting the founding Archer and Daniels families in the 60s and still own a few percent of the century-old company. While chief competitors Cargill and Bunge Ltd. established a broad global network of suppliers as well as customers during the last half of the 20th century, the charismatic Dwayne Andreas built ADM as “supermarket to the world” almost entirely on the crops of American farmers. The elder Andreas was an advisor to several U.S. presidents and could count on his Washington connections to prop up prices for key ADM products domestically, including high-fructose corn syrup and ethanol, a gasoline alternative made from corn.” Heartland transformation: ADM CEO Allen Andreas has led the giant out of scandal and put it on a winning path

Jul 182017
 

Executive Profile*

M. Brian Mulroney P.C., C.C., LL.D

Founding Partner and Special Advisor,Teilhard Technologies Inc.
Age Total Calculated Compensation This person is connected to 79 board members in 8 different organizations across 17 different industries.

See Board Relationships

78

Background*

Hon. M. Brian Mulroney, P.C., C.C., LL.D serves as Senior Partner and International Business Consultant at Ogilvy Renault, LLP/ S.E.N.C.R.C., s.r.l. since August 1993. Hon. Mulroney is a Founding Partner and Special Advisor at Teilhard Technologies Inc. He served as the President at the Iron Ore Company of Canada since 1977 and Executive Vice President and was a Senior Counselor at HM Capital Partners LLC. He serves as the Chairman of Quebecor World Inc. Hon. Mulroney is the Chairman of International Advisory Board of Barrick Gold Corporation and was previously a Non-Independent Director from 1993 to April 30, 2014. He is a Director of Wind International, Inc. Hon. Mulroney is a Member of Advisory Board of the Chase Manhattan Corporation. He served as the Chairman of the Board of Quebecor Media Inc. since June 19, 2014 until February 21, 2017 and has been its Non-independent Director since January 31, 2001 and also served as its Vice Chairman since March 12, 2014. Hon. Mulroney is the Chairman of Quebecor Inc. since June 19, 2014 a Non-Independent Director of Quebecor Inc. since 1999. He is an Independent Director of Wyndham Worldwide Corporation since July 2006. Hon. Mulroney is a Director of Wyndham International Inc. He serves as an Independent Director of Blackstone Group Management LLC of The Blackstone Group L.P since June 21, 2007. Hon. Mulroney serves as a Director of Archer Daniels Midland Company, Quebecor World Inc., and The World Trade Center Memorial Foundation. He is a Member of numerous International Advisory Boards including the Power Corporation of Canada, the China International Trust and the Hicks Muse Tate and Furst Incorporated Latin American Strategy Board. Hon. Mulroney was a Director of Viasystems Group Inc. since March 2001, Trizec Properties Inc. since May 2002 and America Online Latin America Inc. from August 7, 2000 to August 19, 2005. He was a Director of Tuckamore Capital Management Inc. since November 8, 2011. Hon. Mulroney was a Member of International Advisory Board of Council on Foreign Relations Inc. He was a Director of Avis Budget Group Inc. since December 1997. Hon. Mulroney served as the Chairman of Forbes, Inc. He was the Chairman of World Color Press Inc. since April 2002 and Director since 1997. Hon. Mulroney was a Director of Resolute Energy Corporation, Trizechahn Corporation, Move.com, Inc., Cognicase Inc. and Incisive Media Ltd. He was a Director of HFS from April 1997 to December 1997 and Independent News & Media plc from July 2004 to November 2011. Hon. Mulroney was a Member of Advisory Board of Veronis Suhler Stevenson. He was the Prime Minister of Canada from September 1984 to June 1993. Hon. Mulroney was the Leader of the Progressive Conservative Party of Canada from 1983 and 1993 and Leader of the Official Opposition in the House of Commons, to which he was first elected in 1983 and re-elected in 1984 and 1988. He served on the Clich’e Commission of Inquiry in 1974. Hon. Mulroney has been awarded Companion of the Order of Canada. He holds an LL.B. from Université Laval and a B.A. from St. Francis Xavier University.

Corporate Headquarters

217, 11625 Elbow Drive SW
Calgary, Alberta T2W1G8

Canada

Phone: 403-251-3007
Fax: 403-251-3077

Board Members Memberships

Director
Director
Trustee
1999-Present
Chairman and Chairman of Quebecor World Inc
2001-Present
Director
2006-Present
Independent Director
2007-Present
Independent Director of Blackstone Group Management L.L.C

Education

LLB
Université Laval
BA
St. Francis Xavier University
Jul 182017
 
https://www.bloomberg.com/research/stocks/private/relationship.asp?personId=106861
July 18, 2017 5:15 PM ET

Software

Company Overview of Teilhard Technologies Inc.

BOARD MEMBERS AFFILIATED WITH M. Brian Mulroney P.C., C.C., LL.D*

Founding Partner and Special Advisor

79
79
Age Total Annual Compensation
77
*Data is at least as current as the most recent Definitive Proxy.

The information and data displayed in this profile are created and managed by S&P Global Market Intelligence, a division of S&P Global. Bloomberg.com does not create or control the content. For inquiries, please contact S&P Global Market Intelligence directly by clicking here.

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MOST CONNECTED PEOPLE TO M. Brian Mulroney P.C., C.C., LL.D

Name Relationships
Rochelle B. Lazarus 505 Relationships
Stephen Allen Schwarzman 505 Relationships
John Lawson Thornton 264 Relationships
Charles David Powell 245 Relationships
James Tomilson Hill 208 Relationships

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Jul 182017
 

https://www.bloomberg.com/research/stocks/people/person.asp?personId=65024&privcapId=671980

blackstone group lp/the (BX:New York)

Executive Profile*

Stephen Allen Schwarzman

Co-Founder, Chairman and Chief Executive Officer,The Blackstone Group L.P.
Age Total Calculated Compensation This person is connected to 505 board members in 10 different organizations across 6 different industries.

See Board Relationships

70 $46,968,924
As of Fiscal Year 2016

Background*

Mr. Stephen Allen Schwarzman, also known as Steve, is a Co-Founder of The Blackstone Group L.P and has been Chief Executive Officer and Chairman since March 20, 2007. Mr. Schwarzman has been involved in all phases of the firm’s development since 1985 and approves all its capital commitments. He serves as the Chief Executive Officer and Chairman of Blackstone Distressed Securities Advisors L.P. Mr. Schwarzman serves as the Chairman, Chief Executive Officer and Founding

Corporate Headquarters*

345 Park Avenue
New York, New York 10154

United States

Phone: 212-583-5000
Fax: 212-583-5749

Board Members Memberships*

Honorary Board Member
Co-Founder, Chairman and Chief Executive Officer
Chairman Emeritus
Trustee
Co-Chairman
Chief Executive Officer and Chairman
Chairman, Chief Executive Officer, and Founding Member

Education*

MBA
Harvard Business School
BA
Yale University
Honors Degree 2012
Quinnipiac University

Other Affiliations*

Annual Compensation*

Salary $350,000
Total Annual Compensation $350,000

Stock Options*

All Other Compensation $46,618,924

Total Compensation*

Total Annual Cash Compensation $46,968,924
Total Short Term Compensation $350,000
Other Long Term Compensation $46,618,924
Total Calculated Compensation $46,968,924
*Data is at least as current as the most recent Definitive Proxy.

The information and data displayed in this profile are created and managed by S&P Global Market Intelligence, a division of S&P Global. Bloomberg.com does not create or control the content. For inquiries, please contact S&P Global Market Intelligence directly by clicking here.

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COMPETITOR COMPENSATION

Name Position/
Company
Compensation
William J. Stromberg CFA Chief Executive Officer, President and Director
T. Rowe Price Group, Inc.
$350.0K
Gregory Eugene Johnson CPA Chairman and Chief Executive Officer
Franklin Resources, Inc.
$786.1K
Steven Roth Chairman and Chief Executive Officer
Vornado Realty Trust
$2.0M
Martin L. Flanagan CFA, CPA President, CEO & Director
Invesco Ltd.
$790.0K
Compensation as of Fiscal Year 2016.

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Jul 172017
 

http://ca.reuters.com/article/topNews/idCAKBN187235-OCATP

 

by David Ljunggren

 

OTTAWA (Reuters) – Canada’s senior negotiator at talks to renew NAFTA will be the official who worked for years to push through a major free trade deal with Europe, two sources familiar with the matter said on Thursday.

 

Steve Verheul faces another challenge as he deals with the United States, which is threatening to walk away from the three-nation North American Free Trade Agreement unless major changes are made. The talks, which will also include Mexico, are due to start later this year.

 

“He will play a significant and instrumental role in handling and managing any future negotiations,” said one of the sources, who requested anonymity because the news had not been announced yet.

 

The development was previously reported by the iPolitics website.

 

Verheul is a career bureaucrat. At certain points during the talks, Canada will most likely be represented by Prime Minister Justin Trudeau or Foreign Minister Chrystia Freeland, said the sources.

 

Verheul enjoyed a close working relationship last year with Freeland – who was then trade minister – as they strained to seal the pact with the European Union, which at one stage looked close to collapse.

 

Freeland is now in overall charge of ties with the United States. She has praised Verheul several times in public.

 

The talks on the EU trade deal were started by Canada’s Conservative government in 2009. Former trade minister Ed Fast, who worked with Verheul for years, described him as a brilliant tactician.

 

“He has the ability to remain calm under trying circumstances … he is incredibly patient,” Fast said in a phone interview.

 

The negotiations are crucial for Canada, which sends

 

75 percent of its goods exports to the United States.

 

The Canadian government also intends to send a top trade bureaucrat to Washington to serve as the deputy head of the embassy, starting in September, the sources said.

 

Kirsten Hillman, currently in charge of trade policy at the foreign ministry, was Canada’s chief negotiator at talks on the proposed 12-nation Trans Pacific Partnership pact.

 

The administration of U.S. President Donald Trump pulled out of the treaty in late January. The remaining 11 nations met last week to discuss ways of reviving the agreement.

 

Reporting by David Ljunggren; Editing by Alistair Bell

Jul 092017
 

http://www.nationalobserver.com/2017/07/07/opinion/what-if-omar-khadr-isnt-guilty

July 7th 2017

Omar Khadr (right) speaks with his lawyer Dennis Edney in Edmonton on May 7, 2015. File photo by The Canadian Press

Editor’s Note: This story contains images some readers may find disturbing.

 

The controversy surrounding Omar Khadr’s reported $10.5-million settlement for Ottawa’s complicity in his oppressive detention at Guantanamo Bay obscures a key issue we’ve never truly explored in Canada.
What if Khadr was innocent of the murder of Sgt. Christopher Speer this whole time, and we didn’t lift a finger while he sat in a hell-hole for a decade?
For almost 15 years, Canadian treatment of the Khadr case has been dominated by the presumption of guilt. Yet the evidence tells a different story.
For all the fury boiling up over news of his settlement, there’s precious little insight or knowledge about the facts. As a former prosecutor, something has always troubled me about this case, and my deep unease hasn’t abated with time.
Any experienced trial lawyer would be troubled to open this file. With the exception of Khadr’s “confession,” wrung from a traumatized and severely wounded teenager under an abusive interrogation, the evidence against him was remarkably thin.  Examined closely, it appears more consistent with his innocence than guilt.
Khadr’s case a ‘Canadian tragedy’

What evidence exists appears confused, inconsistent or contradicted elsewhere. Photographs of the attack scene released in 2009 appear to directly conflict with the prosecution’s summary of its own case.

Had the events happened under Canadian jurisdiction, they would not have been enough to lay a charge, let alone secure a conviction.
This case represents a Canadian tragedy and failure of moral courage on the part of our government. When Canada should have championed transparency, due process and the rule of law in the Khadr proceedings, we stood mute or actively participated in his abusive interrogation in custody.

Had the Canadian government done so, any criminal trial in open court would most likely have ended in a humiliating defeat for the U.S. government, and public perception would be very different from what it is today.

To any trial lawyer, it’s plain that Khadr pled guilty for a very simple reason: his plea deal offered a return to Canada and eventual freedom — clearly a better alternative than a lifetime of suffering in Guantanamo.
That bargain was a successful legal maneuver, but a personal tragedy. It was successful because it returned him to Canada, where his prospects for justice were a vast improvement on Guantanamo Bay and U.S. military tribunals. It was tragic because he will forever wear the stain of pleading guilty to murder.
Today Canadians are paying a hefty price because successive Liberal and Conservative governments sacrificed principle to political expedience, traded away due process, and turned on their own child citizen, a trapped and helpless teenager.
Evaluating the evidence from the prosecution’s perspective
Here’s how a prosecutor would look at the evidence against Khadr in a civilian criminal trial. Remember, this was a criminal prosecution subject to evidentiary rules supposedly designed not only to protect the innocent, but the integrity of the justice system itself.
The first step is to ensure the prosecution can prove each element of the charge beyond a reasonable doubt; and that the evidence is probative, consistent, credible, and reliable.
Any obvious defences, such as mistake of identity, self-defence, temporary loss of control or accident, should be anticipated and closed off by cogent evidence before charges are laid.

One more thing: in a circumstantial case, (which this was, because nobody saw Khadr throw the grenade that killed Speer), the evidentiary bar is even higher. In such a case the test is not merely proof beyond a reasonable doubt, but that the evidence pointing to guilt is inconsistent with any other rational conclusion.

First the context. This firefight was no small village confrontation, but an all-out military assault on a small compound.
The suspected Al Qaeda compound was identified by U.S. and Afghan forces in the early morning of July 27, 2002. Two Afghan militia members approached the small compound, estimated at “100 to 120 feet square.” They were immediately shot and killed by occupants inside.
Compound bombed and strafed by U.S. air assault for hours
That shooting drew an overwhelming response. More than 100 U.S. troops assembled on the site, and for the next four hours the compound was pounded with cannon, missile, and rocket fire from a coordinated air assault involving Apache helicopters, A-10 warplanes and F-18 fighter jets. Multiple 500-lb. bombs were dropped on the site.
When American forces believed everyone inside had been killed, a U.S. Special Forces team entered the compound.
Whatever happened next took less than a minute, according to reports. At the end of it, Sgt. Christopher Speer, who was not wearing a helmet, was mortally wounded in the head from a grenade, and Khadr was captured alive.
So what was the prosecution’s case against Omar Khadr?
Inconsistent and inaccurate statements from the prosecution
There was lots to choose from. The U.S. military reports and filed statements describe a hodge-podge of confusing and inconsistent positions, including the following range of scenarios:

(1) The assault team entered, encountered and returned enemy fire and killed the shooter. Omar Khadr, positioned behind a crumbling wall, then threw a grenade at a group of soldiers who were talking. He did not consider them a threat to his safety, but just planned to kill as many Americans as he could (U.S. government stipulation of facts, 2010, paragraphs 41-43, agreed to by Khadr in his guilty plea);

(2) The assault team entered, encountered enemy fire, including a thrown grenade. They shot and captured Khadr, who was the only survivor in the compound during the exchange. Being the only survivor, Khadr must have killed Speer (false public position of U.S. military until 2008, as per CBC report);

(3) The assault team entered, encountered enemy fire, including a thrown grenade. They killed the shooter who also threw the grenade. They then captured Khadr, who did not throw the grenade (Report by Maj. Randy Watt, senior U.S. officer at battle, July 28, 2002);

(4) The assault team entered, encountered enemy fire and a witness identified as OC-1 saw a grenade thrown over a wall. Because of the timing of the shooting and grenade, he did not believe one person could have done both. OC-1 killed the shooter. He then found Khadr seated and facing away from the assault team and shot him in the back. According to OC-1, Khadr was the only person who could have killed Speer (Statement by witness OC-1, dated March 17, 2004, almost two years after the event);
(5) The assault team entered, encountered enemy fire and saw a grenade thrown over a wall. They killed the shooter and two Delta Force members confronted Khadr, who was armed and stood facing them. They shot him in the chest (per summary of statements, originally reported by Michelle Shephard in the Toronto Star);
(6) The assault team entered, encountered enemy fire and saw a grenade thrown over a wall. Soldiers outside the compound were also throwing grenades in response to the firefight. U.S. forces first killed the shooter, then shot and captured Khadr (per Los Angeles Times report of statement evidence). This opens the possibility that friendly fire accidentally killed Speer.

OR

(7) The photos:
The photo on the left, taken in Ayub Kheyl in Afghanistan on July 27, 2002, shows the scene found by the assault team approaching the area where the shooter was killed. Khadr lies beneath the rubble, apparently beneath a collapsed roof. The photo on the right shows Khadr (figure highlighted) after debris has been pulled back. Classified photos obtained by the Toronto Star from an 18-page submission presented in 2009 by Khadr’s former military defence team to an Obama administration task force investigating Guantanamo.
Clearly, the multiple positions and reports advanced by the prosecution can’t all be true. In all, either the shooter, or Khadr, or possibly American forces threw the grenade that killed Speer. Some of the reports make no sense at all, and some are clearly false.
Consistency, credibility and reliability are essential to a strong prosecution, and this case was on thin ice.
Photo evidence disastrous for the prosecution
Then came the photographs of the combat scene obtained by the Toronto Star in 2009, which can only be seen as disastrous for the prosecution.

The two photos above apparently depict the scene as found by the assault team in the area where the shooter was killed. The first photo on the left shows the body of the shooter killed in the firefight next to what appears to be a pile of rubble and brush. Omar Khadr was found alive beneath that rubble.

According to the Star, military documents indicate that “a soldier stood on top of Khadr’s body before realizing someone was buried.”

The second photo on the right—enhanced by the Star for clarity—shows the brush and rubble pulled back to expose Khadr, with bullet entry wounds clearly visible on his back.

In the third photo below, which shows Khadr receiving battlefield first aid (the graphic damage of his exit wounds are obscured), clearly visible is the dried blood from the shrapnel wound to his left eye. Khadr’s face is coated in dirt, consistent with being buried in rubble.
Khadr receives battlefield first aid after being injured during a fight in Ayub Kheyl, Afghanistan on July 27, 2002. Graphic exit wounds have been obscured. Photo from Wikimedia Commons, originally obtained by Toronto Star
Khadr could not have thrown the grenade and then completely buried himself under rocks and debris in just a few seconds before the special forces team arrived.
Of all the positions taken by the prosecution above, only (3) and (6) are consistent with the photographs taken in the immediate aftermath of the firefight. Neither version implicates Khadr. Version (3) is the incident report submitted by the senior officer on site the day after the battle, which completely exonerates him.

The only evidence that ties Khadr to the grenade is the statement of OC-1 in version (4), given to investigators almost two years after the event. But OC-1’s statement that he found Khadr sitting up and leaning against brush is sharply at variance with photograph 1, in which Khadr lies completely buried under rocks and brush.

That’s not a small problem for the prosecution. It’s a big one.
If the photograph is an accurate depiction of the scene as the special forces team found it, OC-1’s statement can’t be true. It’s more likely that OC-1 discovered Khadr under the rubble after he shot the other combatant, then shot him in the back as he lay there.
It gets worse. The prosecution’s bigger problem is that its official version (1) makes no sense at all when read with the photographs. Below is the relevant text of the U.S. government’s stipulation of facts:
A screenshot of the U.S. government’s stipulation of facts in October 2010 regarding the events that led to Sgt. Christopher Speer’s death in Afghanistan in 2002, as accepted by Omar Khadr
Clearly, paragraphs 42 and 43 are drafted to defeat any argument that Khadr threw the grenade in self-defence. It’s drafted to cast him as the aggressor who, unprovoked, attacked a peaceful group of soldiers clearing up a battle site after a firefight with the other combatant. But that is wholly inconsistent with a photo of Khadr buried in rocks and rubble, lying within inches of his dead compatriot.
Unless the shooter’s body had been moved, Khadr was lying under the debris immediately next to him during the firefight. According to OC-1, he shot both the shooter and Khadr within a few seconds of each other.
This doesn’t make sense either. Khadr didn’t watch his compatriot get killed, throw a grenade, then cover himself in rocks and sticks and wait to be discovered. And what about the Star’s account of military documents reporting that a soldier didn’t even realize Khadr was there until he stood on him?
Military evidence makes a better case for innocence than guilt
So far, this is all the prosecution’s own evidence, and it’s a mess before the defence calls a single witness. Without Khadr’s confession, obtained essentially by force, there is no compelling evidence that he threw any grenade at all. No one saw him do it, and from all appearances he’d been under that rubble the entire time.
From what’s publicly available at this point, the evidence pointing to guilt is weak and speculative. Taken as a whole, it doesn’t really make sense. Multiple statements contradict each other and run all over the map.
These are not small inconsistencies. Something is seriously wrong with the prosecution’s account.
Without Khadr’s confession, the evidence fails its first and most basic test: that of establishing beyond a reasonable doubt through credible, reliable and consistent evidence that Khadr threw the grenade that struck and killed Sgt. Speer.
So what about that confession?
As is well known today, false confessions are common, especially with malleable young people under duress. The intensity and abusiveness of Khadr’s interrogation is unprecedented in law-abiding countries. It’s probably fair to say that in 2002 the U.S. military was far more concerned with learning whatever it could about Al Qaeda from Khadr than with getting an admissible voluntary statement for a criminal trial.
The priority was to find and kill Osama bin Laden, and to defeat Al Qaeda and the Taliban.
That interrogators went too far is now common knowledge. But the problem with torturous or abusive questioning isn’t just that it violates the prisoner’s rights, but that subjects will give false information to escape the agony.
Today, Khadr says that he confessed to false things just to please his interrogators and stop the pain, and there’s evidence to back that up. For instance, we know that under pressure Khadr falsely identified Maher Arar as having stayed at terrorist safe houses in Afghanistan, when Arar had never been to the country.
It’s far more believable that Khadr confessed to stop the pain than that his confession is true. The photographs and the known chronology make it extremely unlikely that he could have thrown the grenade.
Yet without that confession, the prosecution had no case.
First, freshest and best military report points to innocence
The U.S. military’s first, freshest and probably best report of the incident, based on contemporaneous eye-witness accounts by the soldiers involved, was submitted by Maj. Randy Watt the day after the firefight. That report described scenario (2), in which it was believed that the grenade was thrown by the shooter.

It’s also consistent with and corroborated by the photographs taken at the scene, where only the shooter would have been in a position to throw the grenade.

However, according to the CBC (at 15:30 in the video), that report was itself subsequently altered without documentation or explanation.

That first report, which contains the best evidence exonerating Khadr, remains today the most coherent account of the events of that day.

Even if it could be established that Khadr did throw the grenade in the middle of a firefight, given his proximity to the shooter it’s impossible to rule out self-defence. The stipulation of facts cannot be true.

After all these years and coverage, it’s plain that any competent defence lawyer could run a Mack truck through this case in a conventional criminal court.

It was Canada’s job to raise hell about the railroading of a Canadian teen
Know who else should have run a Mack truck through it? The Canadian government.
It was Canada’s job to raise hell about the railroading of a Canadian teen based on a lousy case. It was Canada’s job to raise hell about the torture of a Canadian kid in U.S. custody. Instead, we presumed he was guilty.
Successive Liberal and Conservative governments washed their hands of Khadr, only to aid and abet his Kafka-esque ordeal and trial by torture. Precious few stood up to take his side as he was convicted in the court of public opinion without a trial.
We were happy—eager, in fact—to strip him of his rights, judge him without even looking at the facts, and allow the American military and politicians to malign him mercilessly as they took every step to suppress the truth.
And though many reporters distinguished themselves, there was no shortage of media commentators piling on, sneering at the doubters and skeptics as do-gooding sissies.
The American torture program was a disaster. Extraordinary rendition to torture sites was a disaster. Guantanamo is a continuing disaster.

Instead of playing along as America’s trusty lapdog, the Canadian government should have stood squarely on the side of due process, demanding an accounting of the staggering cruelty and appalling ineptitude (or worse) behind this whole affair.

At every turn we should have called for a full, fair, open and transparent proceeding. We should have challenged the bad faith, the secrecy, the doctored reports, the contradictory witnesses, the changing stories, and the procedural bullying.

We should have demanded Khadr’s immediate return to Canada from Guantanamo, pending a full investigation.
If you still think the U.S. wouldn’t fudge its reports to get the result it wants, google ‘Pat Tillman.’ Then consider whether the biggest clue to this whole mystery is the long suppression of reports that American soldiers in the special forces assault team also threw grenades during the firefight.

We had plenty of notice how this would all end, because we’ve been here before with Maher Arar. The day after Khadr, compelled by fear and abuse, falsely pegged Arar as an Al Qaeda associate, U.S. authorities spirited him to Syria by extraordinary rendition, where he too was tortured and imprisoned for a year.

That lesson cost us a cool $10.5 million in foreshadowing, but didn’t teach us a thing. We turned around and did it again. To a kid.
Khadr was left virtually alone and helpless to fight the awesome force of American power from a cell in Guantanamo. He should have had the full weight of the Canadian government behind him pushing for the truth.
Plea deal bought freedom at a high price
Khadr’s guilty plea bought his freedom, but at a heavy price. For that freedom Khadr traded, perhaps forever, the chance to clear his name and turn public scrutiny on those who abused him, who doctored records, who changed their stories.

As part of his plea deal, Khadr agreed to a statement of facts admitting to killing Sgt. Speer, and promised never to seek forensic review of the evidence which might one day prove his innocence. He also agreed to permit the U.S. government to destroy all evidence following sentencing.

As a teenager Omar Khadr was betrayed and exploited by every adult who owed him a duty of care, including his father who conscripted him into a terrorist group, and his mother who let it happen. Then he was abandoned by the one government that should have protected his right to a fair trial.

Khadr’s ticket out of Guantanamo should never have been a guilty plea extracted by torture, fear and despair. Every other western country was getting its citizens out, while Canada let a teenager rot there.

Khadr’s passport out should have been the birthright he was born with—his Canadian citizenship.
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