The US Geological Survey recorded a minor earthquake this morning with its epicenter near Wasilla, Alaska, the probable result of Sarah Palin opening her mail box to find the latest issue of CounterPunch magazine we sent her. A few moments later she Instagrammed this startling comment…
The lunatic Right certainly has plenty of problems. We’ve made it our business to not only expose these absurdities, but to challenge them directly. With another election cycle gaining steam, more rhetoric and vitriol will be directed at progressive issues. More hatred will be spewed at minorities, women, gays and the poor. There will be calls for more fracking and war. We won’t back down like the Democrats. We’ll continue to publish fact-based critiques and investigative reports on the shenanigans and evil of the Radical Right. Our future is in your hands. Please donate.
Yes, these are dire political times. Many who optimistically hoped for real change have spent nearly five years under the cold downpour of political reality. Here at CounterPunch we’ve always aimed to tell it like it is, without illusions or despair. That’s why so many of you have found a refuge at CounterPunch and made us your homepage. You tell us that you love CounterPunch because the quality of the writing you find here in the original articles we offer every day and because we never flinch under fire. We appreciate the support and are prepared for the fierce battles to come.
Unlike other outfits, we don’t hit you up for money every month … or even every quarter. We ask only once a year. But when we ask, we mean it.
CounterPunch’s website is supported almost entirely by subscribers to the print edition of our magazine. We aren’t on the receiving end of six-figure grants from big foundations. George Soros doesn’t have us on retainer. We don’t sell tickets on cruise liners. We don’t clog our site with deceptive corporate ads.
The continued existence of CounterPunch depends solely on the support and dedication of our readers. We know there are a lot of you. We get thousands of emails from you every day. Our website receives millions of hits and nearly 100,000 readers each day. And we don’t charge you a dime.
Please, use our brand new secure shopping cart to make a tax-deductible donation to CounterPunch today or purchase a subscription our monthly magazine and a gift sub for someone or one of our explosive books, including the ground-breaking Killing Trayvons. Show a little affection for subversion: consider an automated monthly donation. (We accept checks, credit cards, PayPal and cold-hard cash….)
To contribute by phone you can call Becky or Deva toll free at: 1-800-840-3683
Thank you for your support,
Jeffrey, Joshua, Becky, Deva, and Nathaniel
CounterPunch PO Box 228, Petrolia, CA 95558
For fifty years the purveyors of irradiation have been looking for a purpose. It all began, of course, in the 1950s under President Eisenhower’s Atomic Energy Commission, specifically its “Atoms for Peace” program. The U.S. was awash in nuclear waste materials, particularly cesium-137, and it was quickly becoming the Achilles heel of the burgeoning nuclear establishment. Eisenhower, therefore, established the Atoms for Peace program with the specific directive to find peaceful uses for this nuclear waste material. But more than simply finding a use for nuclear garbage, the nuclear establishment wanted to eliminate the cloud of war that surrounded all things nuclear and, instead, demonstrate to U.S. citizens that there were peaceful civilian uses for these new “wonder isotopes.”
After scrapping ideas such as manufacturing nuclear replacement hearts for cardiac patients, the Atoms for Peace program set its long-term sights on exposing the food supply to radiation. And food irradiation was born.
The reasoning given at the time was “shelf-life.” Remember, fifty years ago E.coli, salmonella, and factory farming weren’t on the nation’s agenda. But we were thinking about how to make food last for long periods of time, especially amidst the Cold War mentality that, interestingly enough, had people building nuclear fall-out shelters. And the first thing on people’s minds when they thought of hunkering down in a hole for the duration of a nuclear winter was usually “what in the hell are we going to eat?”
Ta-da: nuclear food for nuclear winters. It was a match made in cesium heaven.
In fact, some of the first scientific promoters of food irradiation used to love to haul out their 30-plus year old cans of “irradiated chicken meat” to flaunt their technological prowess. I remember when Dr. Ed Josephson, a former Army scientist and one of the grandfathers of irradiation, brought his can of the old meat to a congressional hearing in the mid-1980s when the Reagan administration was about to issue its sweeping approvals for food irradiation.
After a mumbling testimony about how safe it was to expose foods to radiation doses equivalent to tens of millions of chest x-rays, the crusty and very unhealthy looking Josephson proudly declared that he’d been “eating it for years” and he was fine. Even the right-wingers sitting in the room could barely contain themselves, each seemingly making a mental note to tell Josephson that there must be a better way for him to testify.
And Josephson went one step further. Reaching into his briefcase he pulled out a can of the irradiated chicken meat, a can opener, a knife, a plate, and a stash of toothpicks. “This has been on my shelf for over 20 years,” declared Josephson as he popped the top of the can and began dicing the pale meat into bite sized squares. “And it’s still very good.”
But, other than Josephson and his colleagues within the irradiation industry, there were no takers. And I will always remember the look on Representative Henry Waxman’s face as the plate of pasty meat was thrust in front of him. He wasn’t about to partake in this impromptu experiment.
The Reagan administration did eventually grant the first widespread approvals for food irradiation in 1986, when fruits, vegetables, nuts, seeds, spices, and flavorings were approved. And each subsequent administration has done its share to further the range of approvals, to the point now that practically everything we consume has been approved to be exposed to huge doses of radiation ? including meat, poultry and seafood.
But there’s always been one big problem with food irradiation: the public doesn’t want anything to do with it. And the irradiation corporations have had to change their purpose time and time again to try and find a niche for their unseemly nuclear wares. Gone were the days that irradiation was promoted as a peaceful use for nuclear waste material, or that it was a way to keep bad meat edible for decades. Now we were into the realm of “needing” irradiation to fix all the problems of a filthy meat industrial complex, particularly E.coli and salmonella.
The American public, however, seemed more willing to give up meat than be forced to eat meat that had been exposed to both fecal matter and 75 million chest x-rays. Yum, yum.
But as I’ve learned in more than 15 years of fighting all forms of irradiation, this industry always seems to pull yet another trick out of its bag no matter how close to death it gets.
Enter anthrax. CP