Saturday, October 29, 2011

The GREEN MOVEMENT is ALIVE! Your presence is required!

There is so much energy in the Green Movement right now and there are many opportunities to make a difference.   

Here is a list of really important events that you can attend.  You are needed, wanted, invited.   It is fun, and it is important.  

Bill McKibben says we can't beat the corporations out with money (they have more than we'll ever have), but we can show up and stand up with our bodies and voices. We are the 99%.  We will be heard.  


Please help build this movement and engage with activists.

Sunday's activities begin at 11AM inside the Atrium at 60 Wall Street (East of Broadway), Subway: # 2,3,4,5 to Wall St.

SCHEDULE: Climate Justice Day #1

11-12:30 Panel Discussion: (60 Wall St Atrium) Nightmare on Wall St: Capitalism and the Roots of the Ecological Crisis, Shut Down Indian Point
12:30-1:00 Lunch
TEACH-INs (Liberty Square, East Stairs, by Red Sculpture)
1:00-2:00 Mountain Top Removal/Coal Mining Tar Sands Action, Beehive Collective
2:00-3:00 Fracking UFA, Frack Action, Gasland, Clare Donohue
3:00-4:00 Nuclear Shut Down Indian Point, Todos Somos Japon, Eco-Logic, Nuclear Age Peace Foundation, Indian Point Safe Energy Coalition
4:00-5:00 Tar Sands Tar Sands Action
5:00-6:00 Renewable Energy NYU Prof. Lisa DiCaprio, Michael Roche
6:00-7:00 Closing Remarks / Next Steps Josh Fox, Joshua Kahn Russell, Ken Gale, Gusti Swartz

November 2, 3 pm NYC Japanese Consulate--anti-nuclear and #Occupy Event.  Stop the Spreading of Contaminated Rubble in Japan. 299 Park Ave # 19 New York, NY 10171-0025
A Japanese mother in the U.S. is organizing a protest to stop the spreading, incinerating and dumping of contaminated rubble in Tokyo Bay.  She is delivering a petition (with thousands of signatures on it) to halt this action to the Japanese Consulate.  The event is being staged as an Occupy protest.  On the same day, Bianca Jagger is carrying this petition to the Japanese Consulate in London, and a group being led by Kim Roberson ( are planning a similar action in San Francisco.  (If you wish to join or help Kim, feel frree to contact her directly).  Join us in this Occupy Protest in NYC.  I will be there!  Sign the petition to stop the spreading of contaminated rubble here

November 6:  Tar Sands Action Day in Washington DC: 
This is a critical Action!  We need you in D.C.!  

We will encircle the whole White House to ask President Obama to reject Keystone XL and live up to his promise to free us from the tyranny of oil. In doing so, we want to remind him of the power of the movement that he rode to the White House in 2008. This is bigger than any one person - President or no - and we will carry on, with or without him.                                                                                                  
We'll be getting started at around 2 pm, and finishing up early evening. We'll be carrying signs with Obama's own words to show him we haven't forgotten his promises.  Sign up here to the Tar Sands Action in DC to push President Obama to stop the Keystone XL tar sands pipeline.  All the information you need is at this link.
November 21st Stop Fracking on the Delaware Action  (Trenton, NJ)
This is a crucial day for fracking legislation in the New York, NJ, and Delaware.  
November 21, 2011, the Delaware River  Basin Commission made up of four governors from New York, New Jersey, Delaware and Pennsylvania and a federal agent will meet in West Trenton to vote on whether or not to allow fracking in the Delaware River Basin, the drinking water source for over 15 million people in the region. This will immediately impact the drinking water of 1.5million people in Philadelphia. Be present on November 21!  9:15 AM — 12:00 PM, New Jersey War Memorial, 1 Memorial Drive Trenton, N.J. 
We need you there at 9:15 am to protest fracking.  There are buses and ride shares planned as explained in the following link:  If you want to go, sign up here
If you can't go to this action-- call, write letters, or sign the anti-fracking petition at this link (phone numbers and contact information are at this link as well).   Also, especially important for New York Residents, write a hand-written letter to Governor Cuomo at this link.  New York is in the brink of starting major fracking upstate, and this will pollute our water, air, and destroy beautiful upstate areas forever.  It will impact the water safety of NYC city and more.  Tell Cuomo you are opposed!  Hand-written letters are proven to make a much stronger impact on your politicians.  They view a hand-written letter as real vote.  Get others to write a letter, too!    

Monday, October 24, 2011


Sunday, October 23, 2011

Japan's children, radiation and women, and Blind

The powerful sci-fi short film, Blind, posted below, expresses the terrible sense of anxiety and trauma that the Japanese are experiencing about the radioactive contamination in Japan after 3/11 and the Fukushima  nuclear catastrophe.  The focus of the film is clearly on children and mothers. 

Notably, this issue of how to protect children and mothers from the radioactive contamination is hitting the Japanese most forcibly.

It is well known that fetuses and children are the most vulnerable to the dangers of radioactive contamination. Ionizing radiation harms children more because: "first, smaller body mass results in a higher dose from a given level of radiation; second, since a growing child's cells divide rapidly, their DNA is more exposed and vulnerable to damage from

A recent study has found that women are 50% more susceptible to getting cancer from radioactive exposure than men. "The data is startling; the fact that it has been un-reported, including by the National Academy itself, is shocking. The data shows a consistent fifty percent higher cancer incidence and also cancer death in women compared to men. A disproportionate impact
at that level is stunning. More research is warranted and action is needed now to ensure that the vulnerable are protected," said Mary Olson, NIRS Staff Biologist. "Let us be clear: radiation causes disease and death in men; the same rate of exposure causes more harm to women. The Precautionary Principle dictates that we protect first, study second." 

So, the fear for mothers and children is a very real and frightening one.  

Of major concern: The Japanese government has raised the "acceptable" levels of radioactive exposure and so many families have not been evacuated from areas that are known to be highly contaminated.  300,000 children in the Fukushima area are attending schools that are contaminated.  Families that leave these areas are not compensated for their losses (homes and jobs) and so many cannot afford to do so--and they remain.  Communities and families are divided about what to do and how to survive.

Now many hot spots are being discovered in Tokyo, and the Japanese government has a plan to spread contaminated rubble by moving it to Tokyo and other locations, incinerating and dumping it in Tokyo Bay.  Japanese mothers are distraught by this new plan and have been staging protests.  One Japanese mother, Tomoi Zeimer, who is strongly opposed to the incinerating and dumping of rubble in Japan, has  created a petition to demand that the government give up their plan.  Zeimer, along with many other green activists, believes that spreading the rubble, burning and dumping it will cause further contamination and endanger even more children.  Please sign her petition here and pass this urgent petition on to others!

Friday, October 21, 2011

Fracking the Finger Lakes: Speaker Sandra Steingraber

Great explanation of the geology of the Finger Lakes and what fracking will do to the landscape, water, and earth.

Monday, October 17, 2011

loss of friendship
(it ends with an angry email
such is post-modern life)

fall leaves fading colors
spiny skeletons remaining
there is the rage of
for/of others
when they do not
comply with your wishes
such sadness when others
do not give you what you
need or kiss for
such sadness when
you have been completely
when you open your heart
or body and hope
this will last, this kiss will stay
this friend will know us
just as they promised
but people are frail and
and speak
so many languages
and the walls between
are so thick
she says: you need a long leash
what strange words
'to be leashed to another'
the fall is coming on
then winter darkness
she says: the only women
who remain in love
are the cow-like ones
patient big thighs
heavy full udders
a scholar of the middle
east says it is a Jewish
thing: loss and betrayal
are the havdalah prayer
she says she regrets
the abortion and the child
who would have stayed
by her side

Friday, October 14, 2011

Helen Caldicott Interview October 2, 2011

I have wanted to interview Helen Caldicott for two years, ever since I began my deep interest and research on anti-nuclear issues.  Her name, image and ideas were part of my childhood.  Both of my parents admired and were inspired by her-- as they worked hard as activists on issues of nuclear disarmament and nuclear freeze in the 1970s and 1980s.

Fukushima brought Helen Caldicott to New York recently.  She spoke at the October 1, CAN anti-nuke rally, and again a week later at #Occupy #Wall Street.  During her visit,  I was fortunate to meet with Helen and video our talk.

Helen Caldicott is a medical doctor, mother of three, and grandmother of seven.  She is a renowned author, founder of Physicians for Social Responsibility, and crusader for the safety of our planet.

Please listen to her moving and meaningful words.  She is a brilliant environmental advocate and courageous leader of the anti-nuclear movement.

I feel grateful and honored to have spent this time with her.

Thank you, Helen.

As the situation in Fukushima grows more complicated in Japan, environmentalists worldwide are becoming more and more alarmed about the safety of nuclear power plants.  In India there are massive protests to prevent the opening of new plants, Germany has vowed to shut down its nuclear plants,  Switzerland and Italy have vowed to stay away from nuclear power, French citizens are expressing much opposition to nuclear power, and U.S. anti-nuclear activists are working hard to shut down our old and leaky reactors (many of which are of the same design as the Fukushima reactors).  The radiation from Japan continues to spread around the country and the world.  On the recent radioactive hotspots in Japan, see

In these troubled times, Helen's prophetic words are important to listen and take heed to.  We must protect our planet.

You can find this article and other work of mine at:

Sunday, October 9, 2011

The mothering dance

Last night: Yom Kippur is over.  I've fed a bunch of people and they've gone home and my daughter wants to curl up on the couch with me and watch a movie.  She puts on Salt.  She's a young teenager now, so it is 'sort of' okay for us to watch something violent.  I really don't like violent movies: even the violence in Harry Potter bothers me.  Maybe it was being raised by peaceniks.  Our typical favorites are girl movies like My Big Fat Greek Wedding, Raising Helen, and film versions of Jane Austen books.  My daughter still loves Cheaper By the Dozen.  I can't convince her to watch my old favorite Kate Hepburn movies and other classics yet.  I keep trying!

But we're hooked on Salt.

Was Angelina/Salt on the Russian side or the American?  We had to know.

Angelina/Salt kills everyone and, like spider woman, she dances down the inner walls of the elevator shaft, bounces around and out of crashing cars, flips out of planes-- and never dies or gets seriously injured.  Salt is a computerized-cartoon gumbie in a black wig.  She's lighter than air, loaded with weapons, and bloody-faced.  She just goes on killing and killing and I feel myself getting angrier and angrier.  I tell my daughter we should turn off the movie, but we have to know. Whose side is Salt on?  Salt goes on shooting, kicking, and cutting up men and it turns out she's going to stop the big bad Russians from starting a nuclear war. At the point at which they are in the situation room with the President, and he pulls out the "black box" and proceeds as if to destroy the planet, I cannot bear it.  I cannot watch.  My fear is far beyond the film, it fills every fiber of my being.  It hurts me in a visceral way.

How many bombs do we have aimed at Russia right now?  How many are aimed at us?  Far, far, too many--thousands upon thousands. Why? The cold ward is over.  It really, really angers me that the movie industry plays up such seriousness as entertainment.  Maybe they are they playing it up on purpose in order to stir a sense of American patriotic need for yet more bombs?  Has the military contributed to the making of the film?  I know it is a ridiculous theory, but I am furious that Hollywood makes potential nuclear war look like fun.  And, as a woman, Angelina should know better.

Life is not a video game, and yet it surely feels like it at times.

We've been watching all of this for so long.

We're all hyped up and scared, and yet not scared at all--numb, in denial, unable to feel anything unmediated by media, by technology.  I think we move around in this hyper-tense hyper-real space of electrical buzzing that keeps us perpetually on edge.  We have 900 friends online. We chat on the computer. We write emails all day.  How many people do we actually speak to or make direct eye contact with?  How do we measure connection?  Are we so terrorized by a fear of death--annihilation-- that we choose denial?

Do we feel anything?

Have we forgotten how to love?

I suppose I should speak for myself.

I just wish those bombs would go away--that the atom had not been split.  I wish for the mothers and children of Japan, that they didn't have to spend their days worried about thyroid cancer and leukemia, and broken DNA.

There are so many environmental crimes worldwide--too many to list here--and their impact on people, children, the poor, the indigenous--is so heartbreaking, appalling, shocking--and if we were to face it head on?  Most people can't, won't, don't.

Is this widespread cultural denial, this shutting down of one's heart, a form of eco-trauma?  I think so.

If we are in an ever-constant state of terror and avoidance--how can we feel anything?  If we don't feel anything, how will we do anything to change what we're afraid of?  By avoiding, denying, we remain passive, nonthinking, hyper-tense consumers.  (Yippee, let's run to the mall!)

So we turn to figures like Salt--she can flip around and nothing ever happens.  Her neck never breaks.  People die, but so what.  It's all 'not real'.

Still, I wish we could decommission all those nuclear bombs and power plants.  Move entirely to solar, wind, geothermal.  Stop drilling and fracking and poisoning.  Ride bikes, get rid of cars, develop a viable mass transit system.  Live in villages.  Slow down, spend less, live simply, and take care of each other with kindness and love.

Are these futile wishes?  I have to wish for them and envision a peaceful, beautiful planet and a happy people in a vibrant, toxically uncontaminated world--- a world where breast milk and amniotic fluid are not filled with hundreds or thousands of dangerous toxins.  A world where the frogs don't change genders because of the overload of hormone disrupters in ponds and rivers. A world where we don't need geiger counters when we go grocery shopping.  A world where cancer isn't the new cold.  A world where the word environmental "sacrifice zone" is not known.

My choice: to live in terror, or to transform that fear and join a movement to build something beautiful.

I'll work to build something beautiful.

Come join me.

Thursday, October 6, 2011

Green Tara

the the hyper-real the the
ding, pop, electronic crickets
irradiated child on top of
radioactive ash
dreams of falling skies falling
bridges of people falling
bridges of falling people
souls dead in faux castles
marching sleeping movies
dreams of America screaming
crossing bridges arising
(to) voices voices voices
Robert Thurman
praying for the enemy's joy
Dick Cheney suckling
(of) green tara merging
Japanese mothers merging
screening movies bombs
about bombs bombs bombs
under the covers with my mother
watching about after
movies of after of days
my mother of atoms
the blue eyes of Helen Caldicott
(on) my screen in her hotel room
asking about my cancer
on the streets in my books
the bull of death the bed of my father
moving seamlessly between
image/self/real black and white
hyper/real real/hyper
Are you hyper she asks me?
All this makes me hyper I say
ding, pop, electronic crickets
green tara speaks
sings awakes me no hand
America sings the river of death
weeps a body bag
no father no cry
no more no more
she will hold you if you pray
om tare tuttare ture soha
oh these rivers oh
oh wonder of what becoming
oh America of thee I weep
"oh, the times, they are a stranging"
everybody's marching at me now
can they see
can they see
all this from the heavens?

Monday, October 3, 2011

Mothers, the Children of Japan, Anti-Nuclear Rallies: Wake Up Americans!

Overwhelmed.  Exhausted.  I cannot think straight.  As a writer, as a mother, as a professor, I have to be able to think clearly. What to do first?  Write here?  Write my academic article on anti-nuclear mothers in real life and film?  Finish my book?  Write for the popular press?  Talk about it in my classroom?  March?  Protest on Wall Street?  What about all of the other environmental problems: fracking, toxics, tar sands, species extinction?  Ach!

In this piece, I want to share with you (among other things) the voices of the mothers and children of the Japanese Delegation. Sachiko Sato, a mother and organic farmer, and her children, Mina (13) and Yuuki (17), spoke in New York last week about their losses and the current disaster in Japan--their fears for the world at large.  They came here--to NYC--to the U.N.-- to be speak out against nuclear power.  The Japanese government is not listening, nor is the U.S government paying attention. You can watch and listen to the powerful testimonies of the Japanese Delegation here:  This particular event took place on Friday, September 23, 2011.

I personally heard Sachiko and her children speak at the Gary Null event at the Ethical Culture Society, on Wednesday, September 21, 2011.  I spoke with them at length after.  The other important speakers at this event included: Gary Null, Harvey Wasserman, Vandana Shiva, Kevin Kamps, Greg Palast and Karl Grossman.  Null showed his powerful anti-nuclear film: Knocking on the Devil's Door

At this event, Sachiko Sato and her children told a heart wrenching story of all that they have lost--their farm, their friends and schools. They miss the "little" things like taking care of the chickens, and helping out at their mother's daycare center. Mina is sad that she will never get to sleep in the new bedroom that was being built for her.  There are five children in the family and this was to be Mina's first private bedroom.   They are isolated.  Bereft.  Lost.  The children have been living alone since their mother whisked them away from their home to safety a few days after March 11, 2011.  The Japanese delegation is calling on Americans to shut our plants down before we have a Fukishima disaster here.

All of these speakers addressed the problem of the greed, power and corruption of the nuclear industry worldwide. Null and others explained about the danger Indian Point poses to millions of New York City area residents. The plant is an easy target for attack by terrorists. It leaks. It is on a fault line. We have no evacuation plan if it should melt. It is only 25 miles from Manhattan--so millions of lives are at stake as well as the world economy.  Yet the NRC wants to extend its date for closure!  It makes no sense.  What is wrong with our government?

Shiva explained how in India, the government has "land grabbed' beautiful fertile farms and dismissed local governmental decisions (and the will of the people) to ban the building of new nuclear plants.  Thousands have been protesting (peacefully) in resistance to the building of such new plants.  Many innocent citizens have been shot at and killed.  In Koodankulam, protesters have at least temporarily stopped the opening of a new plant. I wrote more about this at Terraspheres.

Do we hear about the Indian protests in mainstream U.S. press?  Not much. 

Do we hear about the ongoing Japanese nuclear disaster in the U.S. press?  Barely.

These talks and Null's film scared me terribly. 

I also had the opportunity this past weekend, on October 1, 2011, to film/live-stream the C.A.N. anti-nuclear rally to Shut Down Indian Point.  Many of the speakers were Japanese women, such as  the mother Tomoi Zeimer, who a gave painful account of how scary it is for the families in Japan right now.  Many Japanese parents can't find food for their children to eat, or safe water for their children to drink.  School playgrounds are contaminated and whole communities are poisoned. The government is not evacuating their people from dangerous areas.  It is horrifying. Helen Caldicott, my heroine, was the keynote speaker and she called out for U.S. citizens to stand up and say 'enough is enough'!  I had a chance to interview Helen privately the next day.  I will post my interview with her soon.  She also spoke at the Occupy Wall Street rally last night.  Helen is a brilliant Australian physician who has been a staunch anti-nuclear activist since the 1980s. She told me she feels obligated as a physician to save lives and this sense of duty drives her to be an anti-nuclear activist.  She looks at nuclear radiation as a medical problem because she understands how it impacts human health. Caldicott says it is up to women to save this earth and to stop this madness. We have to find our voices, stop being afraid of speaking out, and stand up to the men who have their greedy fingers on the bomb, on nuclear power, and on other forms of environmental destruction.

I left this event and the October 1 CAN Rally concerned about the safety of where I live in Long Island--wondering if I should move away.  One of the leading Japanese green activists, Aileen Mioko Smith, with whom I spoke after the event, gave me haunting advice.  Aileen told me:

'When (not if) Indian Points melts, you won't be able to leave right away.  There will be chaos. The roads will be flooded with people trying to escape and with nowhere to go. So keep plenty of water. Keep enough canned food to last a few weeks.  If you have a basement, stay down there.  When the roads clear, drive far, far away.  You will be exposed to the radiation, but at least you will get away.  You will never be able to go home again.  The entire New York City region will be unsafe to live in for lifetimes. Thousands.'

I'm not moving anywhere just yet, but living downstream from Indian Point sure makes me stop and think.  Of course, where would I go?  Where is it really safe, anyway?  There are nuclear power plants in so many places.  There are toxic sites everywhere.  Radiation and toxins travel.  Rachel Carson taught us all that.  The point isn't to run away--it is to stop ignoring the dangers and take action.

In case you don't know--23 US reactors are identical to those at Fukushima-Daiichi.  The GE Mark 1 containment vessels (those in Fukushima and here) have serious design problems. GE has known about this since Dale Bridenbaugh and other engineers resigned over the design of the containment vessels in the 1980s. Why has our government ignored this information for all this time?  Why have so many children been forced to suffer because of this criminal negligence?

Japan and the U.S. are silent on this issue.  In Germany and other countries throughout Europe, nuclear plants are being shut down. Where can't Americans force the U.S. Government to abandon nukes as well?

I will leave you with some beautiful photographs, taken by my fourteen- year old daughter, of Tomoi Zeimer and the orphan baby she adopted from Ibaragi (next to Fukushima).  Ibaragi is a highly contaminated area, full of hot spots.  Tomoi spoke passionately at the rally about her fears for the people of Japan, for her baby's birth mother (who is in high school there), for her sisters, for the children who are suffering.... Tomoi worries, also, because many of the folks in Japan are in denial and she finds this to be "very spooky."

On the way home from the rally, my daughter asked me: "Mom, are we going to die?"  I told this to Helen Caldicott the next day, and she said, "that is why we have to shut these 104 plants down.  That is why we have to disarm our nuclear weapons."

Afterward: on the drive to work today, I heard from a good friend who met a young officer who works for the U.S. Navy.  I will not name names.   The officer is a nuclear physicist and an engineer.  His job is to travel round the world to study levels of radiation in areas that are contaminated.  He spent several months in Japan after March 11, 2011 and the Fukushima accident.  He said the radiation levels were shockingly high--way off the charts.  Yet the Japanese government covered it up, and said the wind would blow the 'small' amounts of radiation away!  The government told their people it was nothing to worry about.  They are still doing this.  What about the American government?  What about the rest of the world?  This is an abomination and a crime of the highest order.  And, it CAN happen here.

I am mortified.  I am called to action.   Please heed this call: get involved.  Express your outrage.  It is time to march.

Activists prevented Shoreham Nuclear Power Plant from going forward in Long Island.  Andrea Merkel has vowed to decommission all nuclear plants in Germany.   It can be done here.

We Shall Overcome.  We MUST!