Koch brothers right to sue widow

Cato was controlled by four men, all of them politically libertarian: The two Koch brothers, Edward Crane, long serving President, and William Niskan.

The anti libertarian right wing blog Bona Fides favorably cites the far left pro Islam blog Counterpunch, in attacking the Koch brothers.

Crane and Niskan have taken an alarmingly large amount of money out of the Cato institute in the form of generous salaries and benefits, the Koch brothers have substantially funded it. They have not been happy with this arrangement. Niskan died, with the result that balance of power is now with his non political widow. Now the Koch brothers are suing his widow – they want to control what they paid for. How horribly greedy of them. ;-)

Counterpunch claims to be an anti state left blog. It continually attacks the Obama regime for capitalism, colonialism, imperialism, and making war on Islam, which might seem a refreshing contrast with most of the left that only objects when Republicans make war, but on every issue where they “attack” the state, they attack it for not exercising sufficient power, not hiring enough people for privileged government employment, and not confiscating sufficient wealth.

On the question of freedom of internet speech Counterpunch’s position is “we must balance the constitution with child safety”. “We” presumably being the state. They speak as if they are the state, as, of course, they are.

They are fanning the flames of hysteria on Fukushima, citing every absurd over reaction as evidence that even more extreme overreactions are needed. Supposedly the government is not evcuating a twenty kilometer zone contaminated with trivial and inconsequential levels of radioactivity in order to fan the flames of nuke hysteria. Supposedly it is evacuating because of end of the world radioactive levels.

Once again I remind you that Chernobyl spewed vastly more radioactivity than Fukushima, yet the cluster of cancers associated with Chernobyl killed six people, possibly as many as fifteen, (not counting the firefighters who were trying to put it out and workers in the plant itself when it blew up, just counting people in the towns around Chernobyl, just counting people who were not actually inside the fence or on the fence at any time). That is six. Not six hundred million, no sixty million, not six million, not six hundred thousand. Six, moral being that it is quite dangerous to be inside a nuclear facility when you can see flames coming out of the roof, but otherwise, not all that dangerous.

If radioactivity is horribly horribly horribly evil, then we need lots and lots of good government regulators regulating energy in general and nuclear power in particular – indeed the government needs to have its hands tight around the throat of technological civilization, since we cannot have abundant energy.

Nuclear hysteria justifies the government reining in technological civilization by limiting access to energy. Warmism serves the same agenda.

When a supposedly right wing blog favorably cites Counterpunch, it favorably cites the state.

When we look at the enemies of the Koch brothers, their enemies are our our enemies.

35 Responses to “Koch brothers right to sue widow”

  1. Candide III says:

    the cluster of cancers associated with Chernobyl killed six people, possibly as many as fifteen
    It takes a very creative definition of “associated” (read about collective doses) to make this statement true. Where did you get this figure from?

    • jim says:

      The only cancers that were elevated in the period and area of Chernobyl were childhood thyroid cancers.

      Which killed six people.

      Do you know of some other category of cancer or plausibly radiation related illness that had higher than usual rates in the area and period of Chernobyl?

      • Candide III says:

        Of course few cancers were elevated in the period and area of the accident! Thyroid cancers appeared quickly because, first, the dose per unit of mass of the thyroid gland was exteremely high (I-131, a very high-activity nuclide, having been biologically concentrated into a tiny piece of tissue), and second, in children, there are many proliferating cells in this gland, which gives cancerous mutations a chance to surface quickly. Also there was a selection effect: affected children were observed much more closely than the rest of the population. For lower doses and in adults, cancer induction times are on the order of 5-10 years, and elevated cancers have been observed as a matter of fact, although the exact morbidity and mortality rates are debatable and probably not knowable, because the CIS countries’ post-mortem examination service is very poorly organized and diagnosis standards are next to non-existent. Apart from the various cancers, there is cataract, birth anomalies, heart disease etc. Much of the latter can be attributed to stress suffered by the forced removees due to the removal itself and their subsequent treatment by the authorities, not radiation per se; nevertheless it is an effect of the accident.

        I still wonder where did you get those figures. Even IAEA reports cite excess cancer cases in the thousands (Greenpeace and other environmental organizations’ reports cite figures in the tens or even hundreds of thousands). IAEA has an incentive to report the lowest figure they can get away with, because health effects are not the single, and arguably not even the strongest case for regulation of the nuclear industry. Even if the nuclear industry were entirely harmless to human health (which it isn’t, see e.g. studies of hibakusha, Hiroshima and Nagasaki survivors, who have been closely followed by the Japanese health service) there would still be nuclear proliferation risks.

        • jim says:

          Even IAEA reports cite excess cancer cases in the thousands (Greenpeace and other environmental organizations’ reports cite figures in the tens or even hundreds of thousands).

          No they do not report excess cancer cases in thousands. They theorize that excess cancer cases must have happened. That Chernobyl killed thousands is theory, which observation fails to support.

          Fallout exposure was highly unequal with a large part of the dose concentrated in the town of Gomel. If Chernobyl was causing thousands of cancers, those people would show a cancer cluster – and indeed they do: the cluster of not very lethal thyroid cancers.

          More than half of the actually observed thyroid cancer cluster occurs in the town of Gomel, population five hundred thousand: So if Chernobyl was causing “thousands” of excess deaths, it would be causing “thousands” of excess deaths in Gomel, which not only be readily observable, but glaringly obvious.

          If Chernobyl was a disaster, it would primarily be a disaster in Gomel, which is now the most studied town on the planet. It was not a disaster in Gomel. Apart from thyroid cancer, they are a healthy lot.

          • Candide III says:

            Yes, those reported figures are estimates based on collective doses. I should have written more carefully. However, I did write why it is unlikely that these estimates will ever be checked by direct observation. In addition to what I wrote in the comment above, consider that the affected population was sparse and predominantly rural, still living in a rather primitive way — basically subsistence farming, think 1930s Kansas with TV. A person gets sick, a person dies and is buried, there is no-one to do a post-mortem. And this situation has not changed so much in 25 years. Even the liquidators cannot be tracked adequately once they retire and move to rural areas.

            About Gomel: I paged through several fallout maps and could not find any support to your extraordinary statements about concentration of received dose in Gomel. The city was spared the worst contamination, it was farmland to the north-east of Gomel that got large fallouts. As for thyroid cancers, you should understand that most of the dose was absorbed through consumption of contaminated milk and milk products (cows concentrate iodine into milk). People in the SU preferred farmers’ market milk and milk products when they could get it, and got their children irradiated through lack of information multiplied by sheer ignorance. You say half of thyroid cancer cases were in Gomel — small wonder, it has more population than lived in the whole of what became the exclusion zone. It’s simple arithmetics. As for Gomel being the most studied city on the planet, I can’t take that as anything but a bad joke.

            To conclude, I don’t believe nuclear power should be scrapped or should not be developed or should be regulated the life out of it (gasp!) Radiation is certainly no plum, but its effects are understood and we have the technical knowledge to deal with it, and we do need the electricity. Proliferation is harder but also manageable. My perception is that both Chornobyl and Fukushima disasters happened ultimately because of organizational failure, not because of mistakes by technical staff or reactor engineering errors. The effects of both disasters have been rather large — tens of thousands of people uprooted from their homeland, where their ancestors have lived from time immemorial; thousands of sq.km. of land unfit for farming — but this risk is the price we, as societies, pay for the luxury of being able to stare at various computer screens all day. Getting rid of the Peter Principle would be a much greater boon to humanity than getting rid of nuclear power.

          • jim says:

            About Gomel: I paged through several fallout maps and could not find any support to your extraordinary statements about concentration of received dose in Gomel. The city was spared the worst contamination, it was farmland to the north-east of Gomel that got large fallouts.

            Less radiation than some farmland, But it had far more radiation than any urban area in the world. Gomel has a rather more than half the thyroid cancer cases. Studies on radiation effects use Gomel as the maximum radiation area for human exposure

            For political reasons, to explain away the lack of a disaster, people are trying to argue that people in Gomel somehow did not get the dose that they obviously did get, but the cesium levels in humans in Gomel show them getting more radio cesium than the rest of the urban areas in the world put together, consistent with them getting more thyroid cancers than the rest of Chernobyl affected area put together.

            Therefore, if there was a Chernobyl disaster, it would show in Gomel. Gomel is where most of the cumulative dose to humans happened.

            Trends in age-standardized incidences in Gomel and Vitebsk oblasts maximally and minimally exposed to Chernobyl radiation, respectively, were compared for 1978-2003 among all women, and women aged 30-49, separately for urban and rural areas. Incidences were higher and increasing more rapidly in urban than rural areas of both oblasts, annually increasing 0.150 +/- 0.008 vs. 0.098 +/- 0.007 new cases per 10,000 persons, p < 0.00005. Levels were similar in urban Gomel and Vitebsk, and slightly higher in rural Vitebsk than rural Gomel. For ages 30-49 trends in urban and rural Gomel and rural Vitebsk were similar to the all-ages rural trend: common urban/rural Gomel slope 0.098 +/- 0.015, rural Vitebsk slope 0.091 +/- 0.022. In urban Vitebsk, significant but erratic nonlinearity suggested stabilizing incidence since the mid-nineties after a sharp rise. However, recent declines in slopes, greater in Vitebsk, are nonsignificant. Secular breast cancer increases in Gomel have been generally consistent for 26 years. Secular increases in Vitebsk have been similar, but could be slowing. However, these data provide no convincing evidence for Chernobyl-induced breast cancer in Belarus.

            And the same shows for everything. People in Gomel, which should be the majority part of the supposedly enormous Chernobyl disaster, have been measured every which way, and show up as slightly healthier on all measures apart from the quite insignificant childhood thyroid cancer cluster.

            If you look at the early Chernobyl literature, they said that people in Gomel had been horribly exposed to radiation, and implied that most of them, or a great many of them. were going to die. Obviously, they did not.

            Autopsies of one-year-old children in Gomel showed high levels of radiocesium in their organs — up to 6000 Bq/kg, which indicates a severe radioactive toxic syndrome, both among foetuses and newborn babies.

            a study to measure cesium 137 levels in some boys and girls from Belarus, mainly the Gomel district, which is still a risk area for radioactive contamination. In the summer, nearly 700 boys and girls (age range: 8-14 years) were accommodated by some Italian families in Piedmont and Lombardy. Our research was just meant to collect some pieces of information and dealt with whole body counter measurements (70 children) and with the analysis of radiocesium levels in urine samples (50 children). Our Institute collaborated with the Service of Radiation Protection in Ispra and with the ENEL Service of Radiation Protection in Trino Vercellese. In all, we examined 70 children, divided in groups of 8-10 children each. The results of our measurements show that radiocesium levels ranged from about ten Bq to some thousands Bq.

            If Chernobyl was a disaster, children with thousands Bq of radiocesium should be dying like flies.

            Assessments were made of 137Cs body burdens in 1,228 volunteer men, women, and children. These measurements were accompanied by medical assessments based on clinical histories and examinations. Radiocesium levels were strongly dependent on the duration of residence in Israel, with the highest levels being found in the most recent immigrants. The maximum level, extrapolated back to the time of leaving the former Soviet Union, was estimated to be about 0.83 kBq (10.3 Bq kg-1).

            As rough approximation, the typical resident of the Ukraine got about 50Bq of cesium, and the typical resident of Gomel got close to a 1000Bq – at which level supposedly “pathological disorders of the vital organs or systems will occur”

            “children having 5 Bq/kg more than 80% are healthy, while having 11 Bq/kg only 35% of children are healthy 9.”

            Since children in Gomel usually had hundreds of Bq/Kg, obviously all of them must be dead or very gravely ill. :-)

          • Candide III says:

            To put the price and the risk in perspective, 1,2 million people die yearly from traffic accidents. That’s 2 Chernobyls per year even if one uses the highest Greenpeace estimate. Yet somehow there is no world-wide campaign for immediate banning of automobiles last time I checked. We seem to be quite used both to cars and to the risk their use entails.

          • Candide III says:

            You must excuse me if I remark that you obviously know little about radiation. First of all, thyroid cancers are not caused by cesium isotopes, they are caused by iodine isotopes. Cesium is not concentrated into the thyroid while iodine is, very much so. I-131 has a half-life of 8 days, Cs-137 30 years. Their activity differs by 3 orders of magnitude. Besides, iodine’s biological availability is greater; cesium is quickly bound in soil. This is why iodine is so dangerous. The danger is well-known and e.g. in Japan recently evacuees were administered iodine supplements as soon as the authorities got around to it.

            Next, according to maps I listed above Gomel got around 40kBq/m² of cesium (by the way, pre-Chornobyl levels across much of Europe were in the 1-3kBq/m² range, most of it due to fallout from nuclear tests, so the claim about ‘more than the rest of the cities in the world put together’ is pure bullshit). 40kBq/m² sounds like a lot until one finds out that the additional dose from living on top of all this cesium is no more than 1mSv/y, while the world-average dose from natural background radiation is 2.5mSv/y and in areas corresponding to the Ukrainian Shield (granite rock) up to 6mSv/y. Moreover, in a compact settlement various decontamination measures can be applied effectively — topsoil removal, disposing fallen leaves, washing streets with detergent, installing food safety checks — and they did all of it. So the reason for the absence of an easily observable cancer spike is not that radiation is harmless, but the fact that the individual doses were comparatively small (and don’t forget long cancer induction times, poor medical records etc.) See, I agree with your conclusions! It is your reasons that I find faulty.

            About the breast cancer study you cite. Breast cancer is a one of two or three most common cancers, so background morbidity is high. Achieving sufficient statistical power to see any small increase in morbidity which might be due to Chornobyl doses is next to impossible, to say nothing of the huge difficulties in estimating the dose absorbed by the individuals under study. Recall, population was removed from the most heavily contaminated areas. Nobody lives in Prypiat, Kopachi, Buryakivka etc. If people did go on living there, we might have gotten more definite data on cancer incidence, but even samosely (grannies and grandpas who were evacuated and subsequently returned, by connivance of exclusion zone administration, to live out their lives in their home villages) are not permitted to live in such areas.

            Finally, the 6kBq/kg in those children. Again it sounds like a lot of radioactivity, until one learns that all humans contain the naturally isotope of potassium, K-40. An average human contains enough K-40 to yield about 5kBq of activity, and anyway the dose received from internal irradiation by natural sources is just 6% of the total (world average figures). So again, this extra source of radiation is not a grave threat; it’s not as if those children should boil with cancer and keel over. There was and is much scaremongering (6000Bq/kg “severe radioactive toxic syndrome”?!), which has not helped any.

          • jim says:

            You must excuse me if I remark that you obviously know little about radiation. First of all, thyroid cancers are not caused by cesium isotopes, they are caused by iodine isotopes

            Cesium 137 is an indicator of how much radioactive waste people were exposed to.

            People in Gomel have far more cesium in their bodies than people in the rest of Belarus, roughly around twenty times as much: Therefore exposed to far more radioactive fallout.

            Cesium 137 is indicative of radiation exposure from fallout. If cancer deaths are proportional to exposure then the total number of excess cancer deaths caused by Chernobyl in Gomel should be roughly similar to the total number of excess cancer deaths caused by Chernobyl in the entire rest of the world, since the total amount of cesium 137 in people from Gomel is roughly similar to the total amount of Chernobyl related cesium 137 in people in the entire rest of the world, because the concentration of cesium 137 in the five hundred thousand people from Gomel is far higher than the concentration of cesium in the ten million people in the rest of Belarus, or the billions of people in the rest of the world.

            And there are no excess deaths in Gomel, except for the thyroid cluster, which only killed six people.

            Therefore the great Chernobyl disaster only killed six people, not counting the considerable number killed directly and immediately by radiation.

            Sure, a few thousand Chernobyl related deaths would not be noticeable among the billions of people in the world. But a few thousand Chernobyl related deaths, or indeed a few dozen Chernobyl related deaths, would stick out in Gomel like dogs balls.

            The argument that Chernobyl related radiation deaths are magically hidden because swamped by the high and patchy background of non radiation deaths fails because Chernobyl fallout is very patchy indeed. If a linear dose relationship, we would see clusters from Chernobyl reflecting fallout patches.

            If Chernobyl was a disaster, most of that disaster would be in a quite small number of very specific places, where the radiation fell on people, not spread uniformly, hence not hidden by background deaths.

            Most of the fallout absorbed by people fell on people in Belarus. Within Belarus, most of the fallout absorbed by people fell on people in Gomel.

            So much of the supposed Chernobyl disaster should show up among a quite small number of identifiable people. Hence not hidden by the background.

            If Chernobyl was killing thousands of people, it would be killing thousands of people in Gomel. And Gomel, population less than five hundred thousand, is small enough that we would notice.

          • jim says:

            Finally, the 6kBq/kg in those children. Again it sounds like a lot of radioactivity, until one learns that all humans contain the naturally isotope of potassium, K-40. An average human contains enough K-40 to yield about 5kBq of activity

            You are slipping a factor of one thousand. Normal dosage is 5Bq, not 5kBq.

            If the linear hypothesis is correct, a large proportion of cancers are induced by background radiation, so these children should have thousands of times the normal level of cancer, which, obviously, they don’t.

          • Candide III says:

            I wish you would bother to read my comment above before repeating the dogs’ balls stuff. As I keep telling you, the doses received even by Gomel people are too small for the resulting cancer cases to be easily detectable in an epidemiological study. If the total incidence of all cancers is the dog, radiation-induced cancers (including those induced by natural radiation) would be the dog’s balls and the Chornobyl cancers would be a largish wart on the dog’s hairy balls, and you’re observing the dog through a fence from 30 feet away. Thyroid cancer stands out because it’s normally a rare disease, and because it has a unique radiation-dependent induction mechanism. Because of biological concentration, first by cows and then by the human body itself, doses to the thyroid gland were measured in sieverts not in millisieverts.

          • jim says:

            As I keep telling you, the doses received even by Gomel people are too small for the resulting cancer cases to be easily detectable in an epidemiological study

            Yet the dose was large enough that mass die off of Gomel children was predicted, and we have heard innumerable confident reports that mass die off of children in Gomel was underway.

            If Chernobyl has caused thousands of excess deaths, it must have caused thousands of excess deaths in Gomel. If it has caused thousands of excess deaths in Gomel, must have caused thousands of leukemia cases in Gomel. But there have only been a handful of leukemia cases in Gomel, slightly below normal levels.

          • jim says:

            the total incidence of all cancers is the dog, radiation-induced cancers (including those induced by natural radiation) would be the dog’s balls and the Chornobyl cancers would be a largish wart on the dog’s hairy balls,

            Before the data came in, the estimate was that a large proportion of people in Gomel would die of cancer, mostly of leukemia. That is not a wart on the dog’s balls, but an elephant on the dog.

            Not only was that the estimate, but we were repeatedly informed that it was in fact happening, and still are told this from time to time.

          • Candide III says:

            sigh
            Greenpeace will tell you all the scare stories you wish, if you care to listen. 25-year-old scaremongering (again I can’t help wondering what is the source of your extraordinary comments on Gomel) is no better than today’s scaremongering, but you give credence to old scaremongering and then you use it to dismiss the harmfulness of radiation and to support hormesis. It’s like the argument of those who accept IPCC’s prognoses and then claim that higher temperatures are not harmful after all and we get to mine the Arctic.

          • jim says:

            My “scare stories” on Gomel rest on the links I gave which show that people from Gomel have far more nuclear fission isotopes inside them than people in the rest of the world, indeed about as much fission isotopes inside the five hundred thousand people of Gomel as inside people in the entire rest of the world put together.

            Since fallout is patchy, it was inevitable that one place would have a lot more fallout than other places, and that place happened to be Gomel. Since no Chernobyl disaster in Gomel, no Chernobyl disaster anywhere, except, of course, in the reactor facility itself.

          • Candide III says:

            No, you are slipping a factor of thousand. See e.g. La Wik on K-40.

          • jim says:

            You are quite correct. I dropped a factor of a thousand.

            But that brings us back to the banana equivalent argument. If the people of Gomel, population five hundred thousand, received an utterly insignificant dose that only caused the deaths of six people, then, on the linear hypothesis, the entire rest of the world had considerably fewer deaths.

      • Candide III says:

        To add to the post above, there is this thing called collective dose. The relationship between dose and cancer incidence is roughly linear according to available data, so when a large number of people receive small doses the effect is roughly the same as if a small number if people received relatively large doses. Collective doses are difficult to estimate properly, but the methodology has some validity and should not be dismissed out of hand merely because it is often propounded by environmentalists. We reject the current dispensation on AGW based on evidence of fraud and absence of actual evidence of AGW, not just because IPCC promotes it.

        • jim says:

          The relationship between dose and cancer incidence is roughly linear according to available data.

          No it is not linear according to available data.

          Background radiation is naturally patchy, and radiation from nuclear “disasters” is even more patchy. If the cancer incidence was linear, we would see correlated patchy cancer. We don’t.

          It looks like Gomel got enough radiation to cause a quite small but nonetheless detectable amount of cancer. Areas that got smaller amounts of radiation, got much smaller amounts of cancer. Does not look in the slightest bit linear.

          • Candide III says:

            Yes it is. See e.g. this paper which says as much (in the paragraph before the “Materials and Methods” section) while presenting one of the first concrete mechanisms that could modify the linear-no-threshold model.

            Background radiation is naturally patchy
            Yeah it is, but it is small. The additional cancers induced by radiation patches drown in the epidemiological sea of all other cancers. Achieving sufficient statistical power to detect them in a survey is a herculean task. That is why collective doses are used to estimate health effects. Also, people don’t stay in one place quite as much as they did a century ago.

          • jim says:

            Yes it is. See e.g. this paper which says as much

            See review on the evidence for radiation hormesis

            But irrespective of whether radiation hormesis is true, if Chernobyl is a disaster, should be a disaster in Gomel, population five hundred thousand. If it is killing thousands world wide, should be killing thousands in Gomel. This surely would be noticeable.

          • Candide III says:

            I know about the radiation hormesis hypothesis. It is not widely accepted, to put it mildly. About Gomel, see above.

          • jim says:

            Hormesis is politically incorrect – which is not at all the same thing as not widely accepted. Similarly, most scientists do not believe that anthropogenic global warming is likely to be a serious problem, but obviously it is inadvisable to say so.

            Just outside the Fukushima exclusion zone, cows test at 3kBq per kilogram of cesium.

          • Candide III says:

            Sure it’s politically incorrect. I guess that’s why the French Academy of Medical Sciences has published a large report on hormesis in 2005, the conclusion of which says merely that

            [T]his report raises doubts on the validity of using LNT for evaluating the carcinogenic risk of low doses (< 100 mSv) and even more for very low doses (< 10 mSv). The LNT concept can be a useful pragmatic tool for assessing rules in radioprotection for doses above 10 mSv; however since it is not based on biological concepts of our current knowledge, it should not be used without precaution for assessing by extrapolation the risks associated with low and even more so, with very low doses (< 10 mSv), especially for benefit-risk assessments imposed on radiologists by the European directive 97-43.

            (Emphasis mine. A student of incentives and coverups will recall that France relies on nuclear power for 80% of its electricity.) By the way, if you had read even the executive summary, you would have seen this:

            It is highly unlikely that putative carcinogenic risks could be estimated or even established for such doses through case-control studies or the follow-up of cohorts. Even for several hundred thousands of subjects, the power of such epidemiological studies would not be sufficient to demonstrate the existence of a very small excess in cancer incidence or mortality adding to the natural cancer incidence which, in non-irradiated populations, is already very high and fluctuates according to lifestyle.

          • jim says:

            If the effect was linear, Gomel, population five hundred thousand, is a large enough population at high enough dose that they would be suffering. They are not.

            The linear model not only predicts a Chernobyl catastrophe. It predicts a Chernobyl catastrophe that kills roughly as many people in Gomel (population less than five hundred thousand) as in the entire rest of the world. We are not seeing a Chernobyl catastrophe in Gomel.

            Even for several hundred thousands of subjects, the power of such epidemiological studies would not be sufficient to demonstrate the existence of a very small excess in cancer

            We have several hundred thousands of subjects in Gomel, and they got a high enough dose that their excess cancer should be very large. Supposedly a large proportion of the children in Gomel were going to die, mainly from leukemia.

            The failure of catastrophe to ensue in Gomel decisively falsifies the linear model. Most of the harm supposedly inflicted by Chernobyl should have happened in Belarus, population less than ten million. A large part of that harm, arguably most of it, should have happened in Gomel, population five hundred thousand. That is not enough background noise to hide a catastrophe in.

            If Chernobyl was going to kill a million people, should have killed a million people in Belarus, including most of the population of Gomel. If it was going to kill a hundred thousand people, should have killed around forty thousand in Gomel. If it was going to kill twenty five thousand people, should have killed ten thousand in Gomel.

            The main cancer death believed to be caused by radiation is leukemia. Just as Cesium is an indicator for the presence of fallout, and a large part of the radioactivity of fallout, leukemia is an indicator of injury caused by fallout, and a large part of the injury caused by excessive exposure to radiation. If there were a large number of radiation caused deaths in Gomel, there would be a large number of cases of leukemia.

            We can check the linear hypothesis by looking at leukemia cases in areas where large numbers of people were exposed to high doses of radiation: e.g Gomel.

            There just is no room to hide catastrophe in Gomel. All leukemia cases must by law be reported to the institute of Haemotology and blood transfusion near Minsk, and there just have not been very many of them. There are numerous reports of high levels of leukemia in Gomel “one mother in ten has lost her child to leukemia”, but despite the dramatic language as if of an eyewitness, these turn out to be based on estimates of what “must” have happened by people who have never been anywhere near Gomel, not on actual counts of sick people in Gomel by medical authorities in or near Gomel.

            It is the dose that makes the poison. Gomel got a pretty high dose, but was not poisoned. If you have only a million Bq of Cesium in you, you are probably OK, well below the regime where linear effect is plausible, because linear effect at that level of contamination would have led to mass die off in Gomel.

          • Candide III says:

            The inhabitants of Gomel were not exposed to high doses of radiation, period. I showed you the data above, but you don’t listen.

          • jim says:

            No you do not show me the data. You make unsupported claims without evidence or argument, or raise completely irrelevant distractions, such as that there are forests that are more radioactive than Gomel.

            If Chernobyl was a disaster, it would be because of radioactivity landing on people, not trees, so the relevant comparison is other towns, not forests.

            The data is that they are about one thousand times as radioactive as a normal person – you were mixing up kBq with Bq. A kBq is a thousand Bq

            The data is that they have about twenty times as much radioactive waste in their bodies as people in the rest of Belarus, therefore have been exposed to about twenty times as much radiation, regardless of your arguments that the radioactives that they are carrying internally do not matter.

            Your argument that they were not exposed to high levels of radiation is that there was farmland that had markedly higher radioactivity levels. However Gomel had far higher fallout levels than any other substantial urban area. If you are worrying about radioactivity falling down from Chernobyl, you are primarily worried about radioactivity raining down on towns, and the amount of radioactivty that rained down on Gomel is roughly as much radioactivity as rained down on towns in the entire rest of the world, to judge by the amount of Cesium 137 that they carrying around inside them.

          • jim says:

            Then why do they have twenty times as much radioactive waste inside them than people in the rest of Belarus, and about a thousand times as much as people in the rest of the world?

          • Candide III says:

            I showed you the cesium contamination maps above. Say Gomel averages 50kBq/m² (assuming no countermeasures had been applied). Here’s a back-of-the-envelope calculation of the external dose. It is a simplistic one — any good freshman physicist should be able to do this much — but it will give the correct order of magnitude.
            Assume that the cesium is uniformly distributed in topsoil to a depth equal to the soil’s absorption depth (about 10 cm), and neglect absorption by air. Next, model a human as a sphere half a meter in diameter with its center one meter from the ground. A bit of calculus¹ shows that staying on top of soil contaminated with ? Bq/m² subjects you to roughly the same amount of gamma rays as having R²? Bq of radioactivity inside you. For Gomel that computes to about 5kBq, approximately the same as the activity of natural K-40 in the body. Yearly dose from K-40 in one’s body is about 0.3mSv, so living under the sky for a year on top of 50kBq/m² without countermeasures gives us roughly the same dose. This does not take into account, on the “bad” side, internal dose from absorbed cesium, and on the “good” side, shielding by buildings, staying above ground floor and any countermeasures.
            ¹ — E1(x) is the exponential integral, a special function.

          • jim says:

            Gomel is the administrative district that contains most of the land that is marked on the map as highly radioactive including Chernobyl itself. It is also the major city of that district, which city is right in the middle of the area that is marked on the maps as radioactive.

            If your math is correct, then people in Gomel were not exposed to a significant dose of radiation from cesium. But the amount of radioactivity they were exposed to from cesium is a fair measure of the amount radiation they were exposed to from all Chernobyl related sources.

            The issue is not whether observed cesium levels are likely to cause people to die like flies, though many have claimed that they were likely to cause people to die like flies. The issue is that radio cesium is a marker of exposure to Chernobyl related fallout.

            That people in Gomel suffered roughly as much radio cesium as the rest of the world put together, indicates that they suffered roughly as much radiation from all Chernobyl related sources as the rest of the world put together.

            Indeed, your argument is precisely the Banana Equivalent Dose argument – that there is no Chernobyl disaster because humans are already quite radioactive, and because the natural level of background radiation is hundreds of times higher in some places than others.

  2. Richard says:

    Do you have any evidence of how much either Mr. Crane or Mr. Niskanen (not Niskan…) got in salary? It is my belief that Mr. Niskanen did not take a salary as Chairman of the Board. Do you have any idea of how much Cato has received in contributions since 1977, or what percentage of those contributions came from the Kochs?

    • Bill says:

      Salaries are public information and easy to find. Guidestar.org has a database of salaries for 501(c)3 organizations like Cato. In 2008 (reported on 2009 IRS form 990), Crane and Niskanen made $671K and $189K, respectively (including value of their health insurance benefits, &c). Niskanen was not the second most highly compensated employee that year, Boaz was. Niskanen was fourth.

      Now, this does not count things like speaking fees, consulting fees, book royalties, and etc. I don’t know what those were and to what extent they were laundered additional salary from the Koch brothers or from Cato. For example, thinktanks often give away “free” books (authored sometimes by top executives) to their donors, and I presume that royalties are paid to the authors, so one should probably not dismiss these sources.

      Niskanen’s salary is not large for what he was: a famous, senior economist. Crane’s salary really isn’t that big either for what he was: the head of an important DC thinktank. Chris DeMuth, who runs the significantly larger AEI, made a little less than $1MM that year. Now, my personal view is that heads of DC thinktanks are generally ridiculously overpaid, but I’m not the one writing million dollar checks, so WTF do I know?

      I looked at one Cato Annual Report and glanced around its website but did not find any discussion of % of contributions from small and large donors—I did not spend much time at this, however, so the data may well be there somewhere.

      • jim says:

        Now, my personal view is that heads of DC thinktanks are generally ridiculously overpaid, but I’m not the one writing million dollar checks, so WTF do I know?

        The Koch brothers are, however writing checks – they are one donor among many, but are the largest donor.

        When a non left political foundation moves into non political hands, it shortly thereafter moves into left political hands. The widow is non political.

    • jim says:

      I have heard, but have no idea whether it is true, that the Kochs are the largest single donor, contributing eight percent.

      • Bill says:

        Yes, I’ve also heard that libertarian foundations generally are more dependent on large donors than are conservative foundations. But “heard” is the right word—DC people are always trying to convince you they are “in the know,” so they are always spewing information whose value is hard to know.

        Agree about the inevitability of leftward drift. Conquest’s Second Law or something, right?

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