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Comment Archives: stories: News & Opinion: Eco Watch

Re: “Hijacking Yosemite

I think Karl -- and Delaware North -- is fundamentally wrong. A company hired to manage an already-existing business with an already-existing name is a mere servant that does not develop its own trademark rights in the name of that business. Much like those who distribute and sell a product have no right to lay claim to the trademark rights in the name of the product. Moreover, federal trademark registrations only establish a presumption of ownership in what's registered -- they are not dispositive on the question. The Park Service will prevail and our federal government will keep the rights to use those historic names.

46 likes, 4 dislikes
Posted by Dan Ballard on 12/25/2014 at 7:03 AM

Re: “Hijacking Yosemite

Maybe there can be a follow-up article **trying** to explain the legal theory these guys are using to claim ownership of names of iconic sites in Yosemite.

34 likes, 2 dislikes
Posted by Tony Daysog on 12/24/2014 at 11:46 AM

Re: “Fukushima Panic

To the editor,

Thank you for providing coverage on the Fukushima disaster. It is very important to provide unbiased information to the public on such a serious accident with global implications. While your article offered some balance, I was disheartened by calculated ridicule directed at people concerned about the health and environmental effects of radioactive contamination from the Fukushima nuclear disaster. "She even removes her boots". The title "Fukushima panic" furthers this one sided narrative of irrational people ignoring so-called sound science.
To begin, let's be clear here about sources. There is no such thing as an independent source. Citing a University of Berkeley lab as proof of your argument is faulty on several counts. First, all universities today rely heavily on corporate and (politically charged) government funding - even if not immediately transparent. One of the scientists has been funded by DOE and Homeland Security. There are many people who would regard that type of funding as entailing serious conflicts of interest.

Occasionally, an independent minded scientist within today's academic scene risks an unpopular conclusion based on research, but all too often, scientists are concerned about continued funding, and or tenure.

Secondly, very little testing has been done by public agencies since Fukushima. There was an initial flurry of heightened testing after March 11, 2011, but now it is routine under pronouncements from EPA, FDA, etc. that everything is normal. But wait, did anyone notice that we have a "new normal"? EPA just finished their rule change raising allowable exposure by several orders of magnitude on some radionuclides. Dr. Ken Buesseler of Woods Hole Oceanographic Institute has said that he is very concerned about strontium 90 which does bioaccumulate and is being released into the environment. I am not aware of any tests on the West Coast being done for strontium, so far what little tests have been conducted have looked at cesium and iodine.

I'm not going to write a thesis here. I don't have time for that, and neither do most people to read it. My point is that there are many valid public concerns which cannot be explained away with a few bland statements of scientists dismissing risk. The nuclear industry and their friends at the IAEA, DOE (formerly AEA), UNSCEAR, WHO, NRC, and the State Department, have always downplayed the risks of nuclear power (and weapons) and there is ample evidence of a conscious coverup of secret radiation experiments in this country (declassified by Clinton, but most of the experiments remain secret due to routine records destruction). IAEA also has downplayed Chernobyl as evidenced by the Yablokov collection of 5000 independent studies in the former USSR region.

Meanwhile, the Pentagon aligns itself with Japan in a Cold War era nationalistic global chess game - the Asia pivot - largely aimed at containing China. A fascist gag order on free press in Japan is set to be imposed and is clearly supported by the Obama administration, though decried by the Chief of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights. We need more transparency, not more geo-political maneuvering and lockstep journalism without regard for the long term welfare of humanity and all life.


Jordan Van Voast
East Asian Medical Practitioner

31 likes, 1 dislike
Posted by Jordan Van Voast on 12/04/2013 at 12:35 PM

Re: “Dianne Feinstein's Scientist Rebuked

Exposing Dr. Goodman's rash accusations and faulty reasoning is terrific news! For 5 years, he has used his wealth and prestige to bamboozle our community. His cherry-picked charts and specious claims are notorious for whipping the scientifically gullible among us into a frenzy against the National Park Service. It's embarrassing. Good riddance to this WestMarin variant of 'Tea-Party Birtherism'.

Let Senator Feinstein know her crusade to kill wilderness is wrong-headed and based on amateurish fallacies :…

Show Ken Salazar you're watching his momentous choice - Save Drakes Estero Wilderness - Close Drakes Bay Oyster:
DOI; 1849 C Street NW; Washington, DC 20240

27 likes, 7 dislikes
Posted by Victoria Hanson on 07/18/2012 at 3:25 AM

Re: “Hijacking Yosemite

How can a business trademark a name that has been in existence for many decades before that business operated that concession, doesn't own the buildings and does not have the right to operate that concession in the future?
Those establishments had been operated long long before 1989 without incident

26 likes, 2 dislikes
Posted by Karl Baba on 12/25/2014 at 12:02 AM

Re: “Big Organic Joins Monsanto in Fighting Prop 37

Labeling is a good thing. One wrongful statement that you read, doesn't make "LABELING" wrong. Don't you wonder why the big Organic's have caved? Maybe their foods aren't all what they are cracked up to be. California is the leader in this movement and I sure you you will rethink your decision and vote yes. I'm from Iowa and what you do affects the globe. Think about your impact California. I'm root for you to succeed in passing 37, it's more important than you know. Labeling is your right to know, and gives you choices. Along with that it forces companies to be on the up and up. Don't we need some of that these days. Anyone that controls your food, controls you.

26 likes, 1 dislike
Posted by Ivy Sievers on 09/13/2012 at 5:57 AM

Re: “East Bay Hills Tree Removal Plan Still Sparking Debate

What Mr. Grassetti neglects to mention is that eucalyptus shed more than 3 times as much detritus, and the native microbes don't biodegrade it as fast as native detritus.
Eucalyptus are much costlier to maintain than a native landscape.
You can see the difference here.…

25 likes, 2 dislikes
Posted by Bob Strayer on 06/24/2015 at 1:33 PM

Re: “Fukushima Panic

Dear Sam Levin,

Your article of December 4, “Fukushima Panic," contained some much-debated points, and I wanted to share with you some of the other side of the debate. I am proceeding point-by-point, referring to the trajectory of your article, I hope there’s no confusion about what I’m addressing.
First of all, I agree that there’s some legitimate confusion as to what constitutes a dangerous situation, mainly because accurate information about Fukushima Daiichi nuclear station, and radiation in general, is hard to get. And the media, being what it is, pushes one of two extremes: total panic, or total denial. I thank you for trying to present a balanced article, although I take issue with some of the statements. I think we have very serious reasons for concern, on one hand; on the other hand, I doubt that two fuel rods touching during defueling of spent fuel pool 4 (SFP4) will cause an out-of control criticality.

Now, an M.8 (Magnitude 8) earthquake during this defueling might cause much worse: the pool, already damaged, might crack and drain faster than it could be refilled, causing a meltdown. Then, abandonment of the plant as the radiation goes beyond anything experienced yet.
The plant’s been evacuated at least twice during the early days of the disaster, due to spikes in radiation. This time..? This SFP contains enough fuel to power three reactors.

Any prolonged evacuation opens the possibility of a million things going wrong, notably with cooling of the fuel pools and reactors-which would lead to more meltdowns, until the whole plant is lost. And there’s another nuclear station 7.1 miles away, with another four reactors and four spent fuel pools (see for more detail on the disastrous state of Fukushima Daiichi power station).

Last year the Japan Meteorological Society predicted a 98% chance of an M.7 or greater earthquake in the next 3 years. Now they’re predicting an M.8 Tepco alone can’t deal with this, and doesn’t seem to understand the gravity of the situation, being continually in crisis mode. That’s why we’re calling for an independent team to provide oversight and direction.

Dr. Morse perhaps hasn’t seen anything to cause alarm in the East Bay because the BRAWM monitoring stopped in mid-2012; nothing to see there. Nine out of ten searches using the EPA’s own RadNet query tool yield no data. When 3.11 (March 11, 2011, beginning of Fukushima nuclear accident) struck, 1/5th of the EPA’s radiation monitors were out of service, and a few weeks later all Fukushima monitoring was shut down.

As for nuclear engineers’ much-loved “banana-equivalent-dose,” according to former editor of the Journal of Radiological Protection Geoff Meggitt, the potassium content of our bodies is under homeostatic control. When you eat a banana your body's level of Potassium-40 doesn't increase.You just get rid of some excess Potassium-40. The net dose of a banana is zero.

Immediately after proclaiming our safety relative to the banana-equivalent dose, Dr. Morse returns to the fallacious equivalency of external and internal radiation by suggesting a plane trip to escape Fukushima’s radiation will be more harmful than the ambient radiation itself. There may be higher radiaton for a few hours, but the problem with Fukushima’s radiation is that it settles on croplands, in fishing waters, and in reservoirs, to be taken in internally, there to attack our cells for months, years, or decades. There have been extraordinarily high readings along the West Coast from citizen monitors, NETC, and other organizations since 3.11 but presumably they’re not to be trusted, as they are not the “officials.” In fact, almost no “official” will give an accurate account, preferring instead to say, the radiation is “well under the safety limits.”

What are those limits? As for external radiation, the EPA’s Protective Action Guidelines (PAGs) don’t require relocation of residents until the ambient dose is 20 milliSieverts (mSv) per year, although in the days after an accident, temporary evacuation is allowed from 2-5 mSv. Near Chernobyl the public exposure limit is 1 mSv/year, in Fukushima it was raised to 20, but citizen outrage reduced it back to 1; Japan’s government still tries to find ways around that.
To call for evacuation above 1 mSv may disrupt the economy, but to wait till it’s 20 mSv may impact your health. 20 mSv per year is an internationally agreed-upon limit for nuclear workers, usually adult males. Children are much more susceptible to radiation, and female children even more so. We think the public should have a say in how much radiation they’re exposed to.

As for food, the FDA’s Derived Intervention Level for cesium-137 (which has been adopted by the EPA for their PAGs) is 1200 becquerels per kilogram (2.2 lbs.). A becquerel is one atomic disintegration per second. So your half pound of fish can “safely” contain up to 300 becquerels of Cs-137, among other nuclides. This provides you with 25,920,000 radioactive decays per day. The biological half-life of Cs-137 is 70 days, so it would take almost two years (ten half-lives) to get it all out of your system. But what’s to drink with the fish sandwich? Your glass of milk can “safely” contain another 300 becquerels, bringing your total daily radioactive decays upward of 50,000,000 -any of which can sever chemical bonds or disrupt DNA or RNA. We in the citizen research field appreciate hard numbers, not assurances of “safety.”

We are also campaigning to reduce the FDA/EPA allowable radiation limits to 5 bq/kg total for food and drink. We still think that’s too high but you have to start somewhere. Contact
Fukushima Fallout Awareness Network at to add your name to the campaign.

The fish from markets in Oakland and Berkeley supposedly had no “radioactive fallout,” yet they contained Cs-137, which is ...radioactive fallout -the most notable radioisotope from nuclear weapons blasts, along with iodine-131 and strontium-90. It’s also the most noted isotope from the Fukushima disaster. The signature isotope Cs-134 is also most often found in West Coast fish, making it clear to most scientists that the cesium is from Fukushima. And there’s no way to measure yet the dozens (at least) of brand-new radionuclides created from the interactions of seawater elements with the molten fuel cores; they haven’t even been cataloged.

As for uninformed bloggers spreading fear, sure, there’s some ridiculous stuff going around;
there’s also some ridiculous stuff from industry insiders, articles that claim no one was hurt or killed by Fukushima radiation, minus a few Daiichi workers. Already 59 thyroid malignancies were found in children from Fukushima prefecture; the usual number is zero or one per year. Everyone there knows someone who’s gotten seriously ill or even died, most shockingly young people supposedly in good health, even high school students having heart attacks.

Certainly there’s bias: the citizens want to protect their own interests, and the nuclear engineers want to protect an industry that’s supported them. A prime reason for promoting nuclear energy (which by the way is the IAEA’s mandate) is to provide a steady supply of spent fuel for reprocessing into weapons-grade plutonium, which may be why U.S. foreign policy consultants CSIS sent Richard Armitage’s letter to demand the Japanese to restart their reactors, two years after 3.11. Finally, the ultimate “nuclear industry” is the Department of Energy, in charge of our nuclear weapons program, who by the way funds the Lawrence Livermore Berkeley Labs, disburser of Dr. Morse’s salary. I am curious as to his definition of “independence.”

Mr. McKone points out that all Fukushima’s contaminated water will constitute one-hundred billionth of the world’s water after 10 years. There’s no guarantee the leaks will stop after 40 or even 100 years, or that the hazards will dissipate or “dilute”: according to a previously secret 1955 memo from the U.S. Atomic Energy Commission regarding concerns of the British government over contaminated tuna, "dissipation of radioactive fall-out in ocean waters is not a gradual spreading out of the activity from the region with the highest concentration to uncontaminated regions, but that in all probability the process results in scattered pockets and streams of higher radioactive materials in the Pacific. We can speculate that tuna which now show radioactivity from ingested materials have been living in, or have passed through, such pockets; or have been feeding on plant and animal life which has been exposed in those areas."

This has serious implications for the West Coast over time, and our citizens’ request for consistent, transparent monitoring of coastal waters and fish is only common sense, given that test results in one location could vary widely from results in other locations (the same is true with air or soil monitoring). I would also add that tritium, a major contaminant from Fukushima station, is rarely tested for, and can’t be filtered out of water. As tritiated water, it evaporates from the sea to rain on land and inland waters. Tritium or tritiated water is far from “harmless,” if ingested or inhaled, and can be absorbed through the skin.

We at Fukushima Response Bay Area are asking for an independent team of experts to guide the decommissioning of Fukushima nuclear station; it’s obvious Tepco hasn’t a clue, and the IAEA doesn’t care. We are asking for consistent weekly monitoring of our food, water, air, coastal waters, with results available for all to see. We’re asking for the FDA and EPA to reduce allowable limits of radiation in food and drink to a total of 5 becquerels per kilogram, or liter,
and ambient dose limits reduced to 1 milliSievert per year, as at Chernobyl and Fukushima.

We don’t consider any of these things to be unreasonable, or hysterical; they are just good common sense. We don’t believe in taking chances with our health, and we can make our own decisions once we know for certain what’s going on. If you have questions or want to get involved, contact us at:

Nick Thabit
Fukushima Response Bay Area

23 likes, 1 dislike
Posted by Nick Thabit on 12/08/2013 at 3:19 AM

Re: “Fukushima Panic

I appreciate the East Bay Express covering this issue and that the article opened with Cynthia Papermaster's cautious "heads up." May I suggest that a follow-up article quote experts who are concerned about Fukushima Daiichi, as well as activists.

It can be psychologically difficult to face the enormity of this unprecedented challenge. There is a common tendency to turn away or put one's head in denial sand, especially, perhaps, if one is affiliated with the nuclear industry. When assessing statement accuracy, readers might consider incentives. "Follow the money." Other than a desire to err on the side of caution, activists and whistleblowers have no incentive to exaggerate the problem. On the contrary, there are many other important issues we could be tackling if this issue were resolved.

Japan is on the cusp of passing a secrecy law. Truth-tellers could be imprisoned for 10 years. Fortunately, there have been truth-tellers, including some insiders such as former Prime Minister Naoto Kan.

Dr. Sebastian Pflugbeil, Pres. German Society for Radiation Protection, former medical physicist National Institute for Cardiovascular Research, Academy of Sciences of the GDR wrote “Fukushima: The probability of success is zero.” He does not believe the human race could become extinct from another disaster there, but he is very pessimistic about bringing the "increasingly critical" situation under control. "The danger posed is enormous. All the experts agree…. worst-case scenario…Tokyo would be completely evacuated… The consequences would affect the entire northern hemisphere… The IAEA and WHO should protect the people but are almost exclusively in the service of the nuclear industry.” The ground there is unstable. The buildings are cracked. The fuel must be kept cool (and three lost coriums.) Currently in process, removing damaged fuel rods from unit 4 is treacherous. There is no master plan.

In Aug, the Japanese Nuclear Regulation Authority said the cascading series of radioactive water leaks from the Fukushima plant approaches a worst case scenario. There are nearly 1000 shabbily constructed tanks holding highly radioactive water, accumulating at a daily rate of 105,000 gallons, in one of the planet's most highly active seismic zones. Per The Wall Street Journal, Chair of the Japan Nuclear Regulation Authority Shunichi Tanaka said the situation was alarming. "We cannot waste even a minute. This is what we have been fearing."
Atsunao Marui, director of research at Japan's National Institute of Advanced Industrial Science & Technology, said, "It's important to think of the worst-case scenario."

There is extensive documentation that ocean currents bring Japanese radiation to the west coast of North America and that, rather than adequate ocean dilution, there can be pockets and streams of highly-concentrated radiation.
J. F. Lübbecke of the National Oceanic & Atmospheric Administration’s Pacific Marine Environmental Lab and three scientists from the GEOMAR Research Center for Marine Geosciences used tracer dye to show that the west coast here could end up with ten times more radioactive cesium 137 than the coastal waters off Japan in 2021. With a half-life of 30 years, it will remain dangerous until the year 2311.

"It has been found that radioactivity may be concentrated in this manner by as much as a thousand fold. Thus, for example, one gram of plankton could contain a thousand times as much radioactivity as a gram of water adjacent to it. The radioactivity from these plankton which form a portion of fish diet tends to concentrate in the liver of the fish," from "The Bioaccumulation of contamination in plankton" on page 60 of the "Evaluation of Radioactive Fall-Out" extract prepared for Director Defense Nuclear Energy, USA 1981.

I wish we could trust those who say there is no problem. But hiding our heads in the sand will not get the risks mitigated. Fortunately, there are many courageous people who tirelessly seek the truth and research solutions together. Ostriches, come on out and join us Fukushima Response songbirds! Joan Baez was correct that the antidote to despair (and fear) is action. On Tues night Dec. 17, the Berkeley City Council will consider a Fukushima Resolution. Please lobby for it now, and prepare a one minute statement to read during public comment that night and/or a sign to hold up.

22 likes, 0 dislikes
Posted by Phoebe Sorgen on 12/05/2013 at 3:36 AM

Re: “Hijacking Yosemite

A demonstration of Greed at its' finest.

20 likes, 4 dislikes
Posted by Ann Horvath on 12/25/2014 at 10:18 AM

Re: “East Bay Hills Tree Removal Plan Still Sparking Debate

Eucalyptus trees: the pigeons of the Oakland/Berkeley Hills. Why anyone would miss them - and the incredible danger they, and their detritus, pose - is beyond me.

19 likes, 6 dislikes
Posted by John Seal on 06/24/2015 at 8:27 PM

Re: “Fukushima Panic

For your own peace of mind by a 500ºº Geiger counter and learn how to use it. And don't listen to "experts" who compare background or banana radiation as being more of a danger than the enormous releases from Fukushima.
You need to research a bit more.
And remember that only [...]300 tons a day[...] is only evidence collected by the perpetrator. Would believe them? I do not.

19 likes, 3 dislikes
Posted by Josef Princiotta on 12/03/2013 at 10:15 PM

Re: “Dianne Feinstein Targets Tule Elk

Mrs. Feinstein, if Point Reyes is to be a true national park above and below water, then the oyster farms (that I love) and definitively the dairy cattle ranches need to go! Killing native species such as tule elk in a federally protected are makes no sense. Haven't we decimated their range enough? Get your head out of the orifice of your special interest groups and take the moral high ground; that's why I elected you!

19 likes, 6 dislikes
Posted by Randy Monroe on 08/09/2012 at 11:21 AM

Re: “Hijacking Yosemite

Be grateful that Delaware North has not yet tried to trademark the actual sites--e.g., Yosemite Falls--as the Pebble Beach Corp. did with the famous "Lone Cypress." The corporation acquired the legal right to the IMAGE of that little tree. Every tourist who stopped for a photo was supposed to pay a fee, and the image could not be used on any sign, painting, stationery--you name it. Local artists immediately collaborated on a large exhibit of images of the cypress. My favorite was the tree constructed of dollar bills.

18 likes, 0 dislikes
Posted by Barbara Mountrey on 12/27/2014 at 7:06 PM

Re: “Hijacking Yosemite

In the case of the federally-registered trademark "The Ahwahnee" for example - the National Park Service is about 25 years too late to object to the matter. The original trademark status was granted in March, 1989 by the U.S. federal Patent & Trademark Office. They are probably similarly too late on other names trademarked, such as Badger Pass, Curry Village, the Wawona Hotel, and Yosemite Lodge. The names being trademarked in the category of "hotel & restaurant services" prevented other similar hotels and restaurants from using and "diluting" or "confusing" the public meaning of those names - a perfectly logical act by the operators of those properties that has likely brought increased business to the operations and therefore increases in the concession fees paid over the many years to the National Park Service. Had those names not been trademarked, we might be seeing many restaurants or hotels being similarly named. The trademarks have been successfully renewed over many years, so the National Park Service stands on very shaky ground in disputing the ownership of these trademarks. Hopefully they won't spend millions of taxpayer dollars on a futile quest to dispute the trademarks. If they had a gripe, in the case of the trademarked name "The Ahwahnee," they could have disputed the claim when the trademark filing was published for opposition in December, 1988. The "legal theory" requested by one person posting a comment here is U.S. Trademark law. Robert Gammon states, "And if the company, Delaware North, is successful, the nation may forever lose the rights to such place names as the Ahwahnee Hotel, Badger Pass, Curry Village, the Wawona Hotel, and Yosemite Lodge." As emotional as his pen might be, the nation cannot "lose" what it does not have, and by this nation's own trademark laws, the nation does not hold the rights to use those trademarked names.

18 likes, 39 dislikes
Posted by William H. Thompson on 12/24/2014 at 11:47 PM

Re: “Fukushima Panic

So what's happening to the sea creatures on the West Coast of the Pacific Ocean then? Global climate change 25 years earlier then expected? The sudden change on the west coast with the rare whale interactions and massive sea life congregating ever in history can only make one wonder not to mention the melting starfish. How can one say that Fukashimi is not affecting the Pacific ocean with 300 tons of radiation going into the Pacific every day.

18 likes, 1 dislike
Posted by Jeanette Goodwin on 12/03/2013 at 9:13 PM

Re: “Dianne Feinstein Targets Tule Elk

1. What are cows doing in a national park? 2. Who intended grass to be eaten by cows instead of Elk? God put the Elk she created on this land. Humans put the cows there. Cows are man made hybrids of an ancient beast God put in Europe. National parks are public property of the people of the USA, just like the wildlife who have been there for millions of years. 3. Where did Diane Finestine go to school?? Leave our wildlife alone. If there are too many Elk, there aren't enough Cougars and Wolves. If you disagree, go back to Europe.

18 likes, 6 dislikes
Posted by Marcia Denison on 08/10/2012 at 1:22 PM

Re: “East Bay Hills Tree Removal Plan Still Sparking Debate

Anyone interested in this subject should walk the Oakland project site at the North Oakland Sports Complex at the top of Broadway. What you will see is a eucalyptus grove that is a weed infested and drought stressed collection of sickly trees. Branches on most trees have broken off and now litter the forest floor and all the new epicormic growth is being eaten by beetles. The eucalyptus are infested with the eucalyptus leaf beetle (Chrysophtharta m-fuscum), which came into Southern California from Australia in 2003 and which is not controlled by any of our native parasites or predators. C.H. Sellers in his book "Eucalyptus: its history, growth and utilization" states that Eucalyptus globulus (Bluegum Eucalyptus) "is a species of no great drought endurance" and this is quite obvious to the casual observer. In comparison, the native bay and oaks are doing quite well.

17 likes, 4 dislikes
Posted by Fred Booker on 06/25/2015 at 3:31 PM

Re: “New Roots for City Trees

Sounds like a wonderful group of efforts. Notable is that it's all come from citizens and state agencies, with the city of Oakland, our government, as usual, out-to-lunch, with regard to the poorest and most neglected of us.

17 likes, 0 dislikes
Posted by Hobart Johnson on 02/04/2015 at 10:10 AM

Re: “East Bay Hills Tree Removal Plan Still Sparking Debate

Kudos Sophie Ho for an excellent article. The first I have read on this complicated issue that gets everything right, all the facts, all the different positions of the groups. And, she doesn't take sides. Refreshing!

16 likes, 0 dislikes
Posted by Marilyn Goldhaber on 06/24/2015 at 4:56 PM

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