Home' Greymouth Star : May 20th 2014 Contents Greymouth Star
4 - Tuesday, May 20, 2014
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uLetters to the editor
1303 - Treaty of Paris restores Gascony to the
British in the Hundred Years War.
1498 - Explorer Vasco da Gama arrives at
Calicut, India, to complete his voyage around
1506 - Christopher Columbus dies
in poverty in Spain.
1536 - King Henry VIII of
England marries Jane Seymour.
1834 - Marie Joseph Gilbert de
Motier, French soldier and statesman
known as the Marquis de Lafayette,
1867 - Queen Victoria lays foundation stone
of the Royal Albert Hall.
1874 - Levi Strauss markets blue jeans with
1892 - George Sampson patents clothes dryer.
1941 - German airborne forces begin their
invasion of Crete.
1940 - Igor Sikorsky patents the first
2002 - East Timor declares independence as
the United Nations transfers power.
2012 - Bee Gees Robin Gibb dies aged 62.
uWest Coast yesteryear
uToday in history
John Stuart Mill, English philosopher (1806-
1873); James Stewart, US actor
(1908-1997); Moshe Dayan, Israeli
general-statesmen (1915-1981); Joe
Cocker, British singer (1944-); Cher,
US actress-singer (1946-); Robert
Doyle, Australian politician (1953-
); Jane Wiedlin, US rock singer
(1958-); Branson Pinchot, US actor
(1959-); Mindy Cohn, US actress (1966-);
Tom Gorman, US rock singer (1966-); Buster
Rhymes, US rapper (1972-); Stirling Mortlock,
Australian rugby union player (1977-) .
“ Life is like a landscape. You live in the midst
of it, but can describe it only from the vantage
point of distance. ”
— C harles A Lindbergh (1902-1974).
“Consider my affliction and my trouble, and
forgive all my sins. ” — (Psalms 25:18).
members have long
years of association
with the department,
the record of Mr William Clayton on
the Westland committee is unique,” said
the Director-General of Lands, Mr R J
MacLachlan, speaking at a function to mark
the retirement of Mr William Clayton from
the Westland Land Settlement Committee and
the Marginal Lands Committee.
“On both the land settlement and marginal
lands committees Mr Clayton has used his
vast store of knowledge and experience in the
interest of land administration in Westland
and in passing on his wealth of farming
knowledge has been instrumental in aiding in
the successful establishment of many young
farmers on the Coast. His decision to retire
from active participation in land administration
comes 46 years after this close association
The highlight of the year for the Arthur’s
Pass National Park Board was undoubtedly the
rapid growth in the number of visitors. In all,
an estimated 27,417 people visited it during
Speaking on visitor numbers in his report,
the chief ranger Mr F Croft remarked that the
regular cottage owners and club members form
the bulk of the regular visitors. “ But visiting
tour buses and organised trips to the park are
on the increase, and the requests for a ranger-
guided trip by bus-travelling groups gives
a good indication of the interest created by
development of these tracks.”
Commenting about nature walks, Mr Croft
said “the two nature walks have proved very
popular through the year and are well used by
school study parties.”
uFood for thought
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t was, at the time, the biggest
bang humans had ever made.
The United States nuclear test
at Bikini Atoll in the Marshall
Islands on March 1, 1954, was
1000 times larger than the bombs
that obliterated Hiroshima and Nagasaki.
That is not in the same league as the
fury nature unleashed on Krakatoa or
beneath what is now Lake Taupo, but the
15-megaton blast — codenamed Castle
Bravo — has been exceeded artificially
only once, by the Soviets’ 50-plus
megaton Tsar Bomba in 1961.
What happened next was one of the
great nightmares of the nuclear age.
Fallout from Castle Bravo drifted
over the inhabited atolls of Rongelap,
Rongerik and Utirik.
On Rongelap, children played in highly
radioactive incinerated coral, thinking it
was storybook snow.
An hour after the explosion, the per-
hour radiation level on the islands was
130 roentgen (R); 50 hours on, it was
175R. Normal background exposure is
about 20R in a lifetime.
More than 60 years on, the fallout,
literal and moral, from the test has not
been cleaned up.
Two generations of birth defects and
cancers, notably thyroid cancers and
leukaemia, have ravaged the atolls’
population, and women have given birth
to babies that looked like bunches of
grapes or jellyfish.
The US Government has never denied
the islands were contaminated. But eight
months after Bravo, the word “accidental”
began to appear in all official documents.
It has never been removed.
Now, an independent American
documentary film, Nuclear Savage, which
will screen in Auckland next week and
Wellington next month, gives for the
first time solid documentary evidence of
Adam Horowitz, whose 1990 film
Home on the Range reported on the
islanders’ plight, is scathing about his
Government ’s actions and subsequent
Speaking from his base in Santa Fe,
New Mexico, he says the documents
constitute “black and white” evidence
of what has long been alleged and
suspected — that the contamination of
the Marshalls atolls, far from being an
unhappy accident, was a premeditated,
minutely planned and cynically executed
experiment to establish the long-term
effects of radiation poisoning on humans.
“A lot of people over the years have
talked about experimentation, but we
were always dealing with allegation and
suspicion and assertion,” he said. “ There
was no hard evidence of experimentation.
Now there is.”
The documents in the film show the
existence, a year before the test, of a
programme within Bravo, numbered 4.1,
and labelled “a study of the response of
human beings exposed to significant beta
and gamma radiation due to fallout from
It is the first public evidence that the
Americans expected — indeed planned
for — contamination of human subjects,
and it lends weight to the oft-repeated
assertions that the test went ahead even
though the weather forecast indicated a
danger that the wind would blow fallout
The official story is that the US
immediately evacuated the islands — “as
soon as it was apparent that these people
were exposed to fallout ”, says a memo
over the signature of Secretary of State
John Foster Dulles.
But sur viving islanders inter viewed for
the film say it was two days before they
In November 1957, the Americans
returned the Rongelapese to their island,
assuring them it was safe.
Yet on July 14, 1956, more than a year
before the islanders went home, US
Atomic Energy Commission official
Merril Eisenbud wrote: “That island is by
far the most contaminated place on Earth
and it will be very interesting to get a
measure of human uptake when people
live in a contaminated environment.”
In another document, Dr Robert
Conard, who headed the American
programme to treat victims of radiation-
related diseases, remarks that the
Rongelapese “will afford most valuable
ecological radiation data on human
The revelations are a major development
in a lamentably old story. For at least 30
years, the plight of the Marshall Islands
guinea pigs has been detailed in hundreds
of articles and official reports, in books
and films and news reports.
Under the heading “Misery of nuclear
refugees” in this newspaper in September
1986, I wrote about the last voyage the
year before of the ill-fated Greenpeace
vessel Rainbow Warrior to evacuate the
350 residents of the island of Rongelap
“to escape the radioactive poison ... in
every coconut fibre and every grain of
Today, these nuclear refugees live in
shacks on the island of Ebeye, 300km
south-west of Rongelap, in a festering
slum called “the ghetto of the Pacific” —
16,000 people in 36ha — and continue to
lobby for restitution.
But the Americans regard the matter
as done and dusted. In a 1986 treaty,
the islands entered a Compact of
Free Association” (CFA) with the US,
which gave them $173.7 million in
The treaty also changed the islands’
legal status. No longer a United Nations
territory administered by the United
States, it was denied access to the
American legal system.
The CFA agreement also established a
nuclear claims tribunal, which in 2007
awarded more than $1.8 billion for the
damage done to the islands and the
poisoning of their inhabitants. The US
continues to ignore that award, made by
a tribunal it agreed to establish, insisting
that the 1986 payment was for “all claims
past, present and future”.
“ When they made the agreement for a
full and final settlement, they knew about
all these documents and they kept them
secret,” says Horowitz.
“The Marshall Islanders did not know
the extent of the damage and the long-
term consequences, much less the extent
of the premeditation.”
The words “past, present and future” are
in the CFA agreement. But the landscape
changed unrecognisably between 1986
In a Pulitzer Prize-winning series of
reports in the Albuquerque Tribune in
1994, journalist Eileen Welsome revealed
that during the Cold War, the US
Government covertly conducted human
radiation experiments on American
civilians, including pregnant women and
disabled orphan children.
In the ensuing uproar, the Clinton
Administration ordered the release of
more than a million classified documents.
A wealth of material relating to Castle
Bravo spilled out, too, and the Marshall
Islands’ long-time Minister of Foreign
Affairs, Tony DeBrum, who has been
tirelessly lobbying congressmen and
bureaucrats since the late 1970s, started
looking through it.
In the US, Horowitz says, the story
remains marginalised. His film shows
in festivals but the Public Broadcasting
Ser vice, which part-funded it and has
broadcast rights, has repeatedly cancelled
scheduled broadcasts and insisted on
re-edits that cut it from 90 minutes to 55
and then to 30.
“Getting the story told and in the
public view is hard,” Horowitz says.
“ But it is an important story. There were
thousands of Americans murdered by
radiation experiments, and the Marshall
Islands story is one of a list of deliberate
exposures of people that were done
during the Cold War.”
The US Embassy in Wellington did not
respond to written questions and requests
for an inter view..
— New Zealand Herald
PICTURE: New Zealand Herald
Dr Robert Conard examines Rongelapese boy Hiroshi Kebenli in March, 1954.
Hiroshi died when he was a teenager.
Countless factors have led us here, with
nutrition playing a major role. Many foods
now advertised to kids are higher in sugar,
salt and fat than those targeted at young
generations before. Children are hardwired
to fall for these flavours. The food industry
is arguably exploiting the biology — and
psychology — of children.
They are not just providing a source of
calories and nutrients for a child, they
are impacting their health in a way that
could warrant future legal action. Many
children are growing up believing food
should be ser ved deep-fried and sugar
coated. Is this ethical? If other countries
were causing havoc on our children’s
health like this, then we would put a stop
A film shedding light on this topic
is Fed Up, which may be the most
important documentary in recent times.
The film essentially says, we have a
problem, a problem that many vested
interests have no intention in solving, and
a problem that must be dealt with if we’re
interested in our survival.
In the food industry’s defence, they are
giving us what we want and if we ask for
healthier foods, they will provide. But in
the end, profits come first.
Here’s a heads up about some food
industry insights that may be affecting
you and your family.
The bliss point
This is the perfect amount of sugar
— or salt and fat — that allows a food
to become highly salient. When these
tastes combine, they provide a dopamine-
fuelled rush driving us to eat more. It is
no surprise children want to eat more of
the food that tastes good. Unfortunately,
the high consumption of sugary, salty and
fatty foods can lead to obesity, metabolic
syndrome, diabetes or much worse.
There are many heavy hitting facts
about the harms of eating too much
sugary and other hyperprocessed foods,
yet many of us continue to buy, ser ve and
eat them every day. There is no difference
between some processed food and sugar
itself. Saying you can eat a bowl of
cornflakes with no added sugar or a bowl
of sugar with no added cornflakes can be
essentially the same thing.
The food industry has learned what
humans want and is only too happy to
oblige. At every eating opportunity or
on every street corner awaits a sugary or
salty snack made to satisfy our craving. It
is what people of all ages gorge on to feel
good for a few moments or to relax.
Who does not want to get on this ride,
right? And when we do, we are only
more than tempted to ride it again and
The marketing of children’s food is a
controversial topic, with many companies
under siege for how how they promote
their food to youngsters. Children often
do not know the difference between good
and bad food and have to rely on others
to tell them — usually
their parents. But when
they see the golden arches
or colourful packages
covered in cartoons they
with a product. After
tasting the addictive
combination of sugar, salt
and fat, the marketing
image is permanently
engraved on their mind.
Suddenly, they want
What does a mother do
when she has the difficult
choice of giving her child
what they want or giving
them what is best for
their health? This is a
common struggle against
an over whelming tide of
marketing and, possibly,
even the parents don’t
know what ’s best, so
who’s left to pick up
the reigns? Parents, and
their children, need to
be educated on what are the healthier
options, and the healthier choice must
become the easier choice.
A fast food diet should not be socially
accepted, but it is. So, the real goal
is to change how we view food. The
government has a role to play, but if we
look at the great public health successes,
they come from changes in how we
perceive a product. Smoking for example
is now seen as deadly and disgusting,
when it was once sexy. If you look at
something and say, “that ’s horrible, I’d
rather have something else,” you’re not
going to feel drawn to eat it. We can
apply this learning to how we eat. We
need to take the power out of certain
foods, from there, saying “no” to eating
junk is easy.
Is the food industry exploiting our kids?
An evolving health crisis of childhood obesity is upon us. Is this the generation where
children are condemned to live shorter lives than their parents? DAVE SHAW of the
New Zealand Herald investigates.
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