Archive for the ‘History’ Category

Is Chernobyl still dangerous?

Posted: May 26, 2019 in History
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cher_3The 30th anniversary of the nuclear disaster at Chernobyl is being commemorated in Ukraine. Even now, decades after the meltdown, the impact of the explosion at reactor 4 of the Soviet power plant is still being debated. Indeed, efforts to contain and secure the stricken plant are ongoing.

A vast exclusion zone remains in place, 30km in radius. However, this is now a nature reserve, and reports indicate that wildlife is returning to the area.


vegemite_11082015The VEGEMITE brand has a history spanning over 90 years. Its story began in 1922 when the Fred Walker Company, which would later become Kraft Food Company, hired a young chemist to develop a spread from one of the richest known natural sources in the Vitamin B group, brewer’s yeast.

After months of laboratory tests, Dr. Cyril P Callister, Australia’s leading food technologist of the 1920s and 30s, developed a tasty, spreadable paste. It was labelled ‘Pure Vegetable Extract’.

The Spread That Could

The Fred Walker Company initiated an ingenious plan; to have the Australian public officially name their spread. A national competition was launched, offering an attractive 50 pound prize pool for finalists. Unfortunately, the name of the winning contestant was not recorded, but it was Fred Walker’s daughter who chose the winning name – VEGEMITE – out of hundreds of entries. In 1923, VEGEMITE spread graced the shelves of grocers Australia wide. “Delicious on sandwiches and toast, and improving the flavours of soups, stews and gravies,” was how the spread was first described and marketed.

The reality was that Marmite, a thick, dark English spread, already dominated the Australian market and Australians were reluctant to even try Fred Walker’s locally made product. Poor sales of VEGEMITE spread resulted in its name being changed in 1928 to ‘Parwill’. Walker was determined to emulate the success of Marmite and the logic behind the re-branding strategy was simple; “If Marmite…then Parwill.”

Walker’s innovative method of marketing was, however, unsuccessful. Parwill failed to gain momentum across the country. It would take Fred Walker 14 years of perseverance and a change back to the original VEGEMITE brand for Australians to embrace what would later become an Australian icon.

The Spread That Did

In 1937, a limerick competition with substantial prizes including Pontiac cars was just the promotion to not only encourage entries, but also sales of VEGEMITE spread nation wide. Following the successful promotion, the VEGEMITE brand gained official product endorsement from the British Medical Association in 1939 and began advertising in the British Medical Journal. Medical professionals and baby care experts were even recommending VEGEMITE spread as a Vitamin B rich, nutritionally balanced food to their patients. By 1942, exactly twenty years after it was first developed, the VEGEMITE brand had become a staple food in every Australian home and in every Australian pantry.

During World War II the Armed Forces were buying VEGEMITE spread in bulk, due to the product’s nutritional value. Fred Walker’s company had to ration VEGEMITE spread on a per capita basis across Australia in order to meet the demand. It’s well known that absence makes the heart grow fonder, and so the reduced supply of that ubiquitous VEGEMITE flavour grew in the hearts of Australians. Once World War II had ended – coupled with the post-war migrant and baby boom, VEGEMITE spread was well and truly a part of Australia’s history, and its heart.

The Song Of Australia

In 1954, a trio of bright, energetic youngsters burst into song on radio to a toe-tapping jingle named ‘Happy Little Vegemites’. Two years later, Kraft Foods developed the infectious song into a television campaign, which continued intermittently through to the late 1960s. For the next decade, Australians were informed through advertising of the nutritional benefits of VEGEMITE spread for people of all ages, and it wasn’t until the dawn of the 1980s when the original ‘Happy Little Vegemites’ commercials, re-mastered and colourised, were broadcast to an entire new generation of Australians who were offered the chance to revel in the VEGEMITE brand’s nostalgia – and have a rose placed in every cheek thanks to what has become Australia’s second, unofficial national anthem. This commercial was brought out again in 2010 to remind Australians of their love for the iconic brand.

The Spread We Love

There aren’t many products or brands that have been embraced in the same style, or with the same amount of love, as the VEGEMITE brand has been. And there are certainly not many that continue to. The world may be forever evolving but one thing that remains the same is VEGEMITE spread’s relatively unchanged recipe. It’s loved by children, teenagers and adults. It’s still consumed by our troops overseas. It’s carried in the suitcases and backpacks of Australian travellers, as a small reminder, and a small taste, of home.

There’s a reason over 22 million jars of VEGEMITE spread are sold every year and it’s because there’s no other concentrated spread out there so full of Vitamin B and nutrients, so pleasing to the palate and so intrinsically linked with Australia’s past and future as the VEGEMITE brand is.

VEGEMITE spread can be enjoyed in many ways, and is not just limited to toast and crackers. Visit our recipe section to see the varied and versatile ways you can incorporate VEGEMITE spread into your diet.

Questions and Answers

Question: What is Vegemite made from?
Answer is: What it’s made from. According to the brand, the recipe of Vegemite is relatively unchanged. … This brewer’s yeast extract is indeed a by-product of beer manufacture and, along with salt, malt extract from barley, vegetable extract and B vitamins, it’s what gives Vegemite its unique flavour.

Question: Why is Vegemite black?
Answer: Vegemite is a thick, black, salty spread made from leftover brewer’s yeast. The yeast is combined with salt, malt extract, the B vitamins thiamine, niacin, riboflavin and folate, as well as vegetable extract, giving Vegemite the unique flavor that Australians love so much

Question: What does Vegemite smell like?
Answer: But ask someone to tell you exactly what the yeasty spread smells like, and they’ll probably answer: "It smells like Vegemite". Or maybe: "It’s a sort of meaty-but-not-meat-smell". Its fragrance is certainly distinctive Vegemite doesn’t smell like anything else.

coleman_mustard_powder“Many people think that the ‘heat’ in Colman’s comes from the addition of horseradish, but there’s no horseradish in it. The pungency comes from the mustard seeds themselves.” Mustard grows wild in many parts of the world, from Europe to Asia.

Drop a dab of this yellow dynamite on your naked tongue, and in less than two seconds you’ll feel the heat in your sinuses like the afterburner from a jet engine.

“It’ll blow your socks off and make you breathe better than you have in years,” laughed Sheela Kadam, co-owner of The British Emporium, a specialty food store in Grapevine, Texas, where Colman’s mustard is a staple item on the shelves.

The Colman’s company calls its hot mustard “The Not-So-Mellow Yellow.” And indeed, one taste of this fiery English condiment will convince you that not all British food is as bland and boring as it’s reputed to be.

“Colman’s is the classic ‘clean’ English mustard, where all the heat comes from the mustard itself,” said Barry Levenson, curator of the Mount Horeb Mustard Museum in Wisconsin. “Many people think that the ‘heat’ in Colman’s comes from the addition of horseradish, but there’s no horseradish in it. The pungency comes from the mustard seeds themselves.”

From a Tiny Mustard Seed

mustard_seedsMustard grows wild in many parts of the world, from Europe to Asia. It was cultivated by the ancient Greeks and also mentioned in the Bible. Mustard has been grown in England since Roman times, but it wasn’t until 1720 that a process was developed in England for grinding and sifting the oily seeds to produce a dry spice with the texture and consistency of milled wheat flour.

The real popularity of mustard powder in Britain dates from a century later, in 1814, when Jeremiah Colman—a flour miller himself—first created his own pungent blend of ground-up brown and white mustard seeds at a water mill in Stoke Holy Cross, south of Norwich, England. The product was soon a commercial success, and Colman’s business continued to grow. In the early 1850s, the Colman’s mustard factory relocated to the outskirts of Norwich, where it remains a center of mustard production today.

Colman’s mustard was originally manufactured as a dry powder, or mustard “flour,” that could be used either as a spice itself or mixed with water (or other liquids) to produce “made” mustard, for use as a cooking ingredient or table condiment. Later the company also started producing its own “made” mustard, the condiment that is now called “prepared,” “wet,” or “pre-mixed” mustard. This beloved British condiment is often served in little ceramic mustard pots, at home and in restaurants, as an accompaniment to roast beef and other cooked meats.

For decades Colman’s dry mustard powder has been packaged in a distinctive yellow “tin”—a re-usable metal spice box—with bright red lettering and the company’s bull’s-head logo on the front. The “prepared” version, marketed as Colman’s Original English Mustard, comes in glass jars. Both products are available at most gourmet food shops and large supermarkets in the United States, although you might find the dry powder located in the spice section of the store and the prepared mustard on the shelves with other similar “wet” condiments.

Use It, Don’t Lose It

coleman_mustard_spreadThe beauty of having dry mustard in your kitchen cabinet is that you can make it up at a moment’s notice, I recommend combining equal parts of Colman’s dry mustard and a liquid such as water, wine, vinegar, beer, milk, or cream, then letting the mixture stand for ten minutes, for the full flavor to develop, before using it. “I’ve even heard of people mixing it with champagne!"

Wet or dry, Colman’s mustard can give a flavorful kick to casseroles, soups, stews, sauces, relishes, dips, marinades, and many other recipes. Stir a tablespoon of the prepared mustard into a cup of mayonnaise, for a spicy sandwich spread. Add a teaspoon of it to your favorite salad dressing. Use it to perk up baked beans.

Just don’t slather gobs of Colman’s all over your hamburger or hot dog, unless your tongue is coated with asbestos. A little goes a long way.

Colman’s is also an essential ingredient in classic deviled eggs. “The British food term for something that is ‘deviled,’ like eggs or sauces, stems from the addition of hot mustard to the dish,” It suggests that there was a bit of devilry going on in the kitchen, or that the devil had a hand in it.”

I also found a mouthwatering use of Colman’s dry mustard for making English roasted potatoes. “Peel the potatoes, cut them into chunks, and parboil them until they’re half-cooked. Then rub them with olive oil, some salt and black pepper, and plenty of Colman’s dry mustard powder. Place them in the pan around a chicken or joint of beef, and roast them in the oven, basting the meat and potatoes with the meat juices as they cook. When done, these potatoes come out all crispy, with a wonderfully flavored crust.”

Connoisseurs’ Cult

The enthusiasm for Colman’s mustard has grown into a cult of connoisseurs in Britain and abroad. Several websites (see Sources) also offer a variety of Colman’s products for purchase online, along with recipes, cooking tips, and souvenirs.

Colman’s souvenirs? That’s right. You can buy all sorts of products sporting the Colman’s logo, from aprons, tea towels, and mugs, to mousepads, wristwatches, and teddy bears. One of my favorites is a bright yellow ceramic mustard pot shaped and painted like a tin of Colman’s mustard. The best selection of these souvenirs can be found at Colman’s own quaint Mustard Shop in the historic city center of Norwich, England. Inside this replica of a Victorian spice store, you’ll find a mustard museum in the back and plenty of Colman’s food products, memorabilia, and gift items for sale in the front. Some of those souvenirs are also sold on the Internet.

No matter how you cut the mustard, Colman’s “not-so-mellow yellow” is hot stuff!


Mustardly Deviled Eggs

These spicy appetizers are perfect to serve with a casual brunch or even a picnic. For an even spicier recipe, add a teaspoon or two of habanero hot sauce.

  • 6 large hard-boiled eggs, shelled
  • 1/4 cup mayonnaise
  • 1 tablespoon grated onion
  • 2 tablespoons English Red Mustard (see recipe)

Salt and pepper to taste

Cut the eggs lengthwise in half. Scoop out the yolks and place them in a boql. Mash the yolks with a fork and add the mayonnaise, onion and the English Red Mustard and mix well. Add salt and pepper to taste. Divide the fillling among the egg halves, mounding it slightly. Garnish with dried pepper flakes or paprika powder. Arrange the eggs on a platter, cover, and refrigerate.

Yield: 3 servings

Heat Scale: Mild

Mustard Barbecue Glaze

This recipe comes directly from Colman’s. Use it to finish pork or lamb chops on the grill.

  • 1/2 cup beef or chicken stock
  • 3 tablespoons red wine vinegar
  • 2 tablespoons Colman’s dry
  • (powdered) mustard
  • 2 tablespoons tomato puree
  • 2 tablespoons brown sugar
  • 2 teaspoons freshly grated orange peel
  • 2 teaspoons freshly grated gingerroot
  • 1 garlic clove, put through a garlic press

Whisk all of the ingredients together in a small bowl. Use as a sauce to mop over pork, beef, or chicken on the grill or in a barbecue smoker.

Yield: 3/4 cup

Heat Scale: Medium hot

Hot Crab Dip

This recipe also comes directly from Colman’s. Use the dip with crackers, tortilla or potato chips, or sliced celery or carrots.

  • 8 ounces cream cheese
  • 1/4 cup mayonnaise
  • 1/4 cup dry white wine
  • 1 tablespoon Colman’s dry
  • (powdered) mustard
  • 1 tablespoon confectioners’ sugar
  • 1/8 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1/8 teaspoon salt
  • 8 ounces lump crabmeat

Combine all of the ingredients except the crabmeat in a heavy-bottomed saucepan and cook over medium-low heat, stirring constantly, until the cheese has melted and the mixture is well combined. Add the crabmeat and heat until warm. Serve warm.

Yield: Approximately 2 cups

Heat Scale: Medium

English Red Mustard

This recipe comes from Mount Horeb Mustard Museum. If you want it really hot, use piquin chiles.

  • 4 tablespoons cracked brown mustard seeds
  • 2 tablespoons Colman’s dry
  • (powdered) mustard
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 3 small dried hot red peppers, crushed
  • 1/4 cup cold water
  • 1/4 cup beer

Whisk together the dry ingredients in a small bowl, then whisk in the water and beer until the mixture is smooth. Cover and refrigerate for 2 days, for the mustard to thicken and “ripen” before using. Store in a tightly covered jar in the refrigerator.

Yield: Approximately 1/2 cup

Heat Scale: Hot

NOTES: You can order this mustard from Walmart and Amazon with free shipping, I recommend Walmart

expirimentstdBeginning in 1946, the United States government immorally and unethically and, arguably, illegally engaged in research experiments in which more than 5000 uninformed and unconsenting Guatemalan people were intentionally infected with bacteria that cause sexually transmitted diseases. Many have been left untreated to the present day.

Although US President Barack Obama apologized in 2010, and although the US Presidential Commission for the Study of Bioethical Issues found the Guatemalan experiments morally wrong, little if anything has been done to compensate the victims and their families.

We explore the backdrop for this unethical medical research and violation of human rights and call for steps the United States should take to provide relief and compensation to Guatemala and its people.

Today, Guatemala has a total population of 14.76 million people; 53.7% live in poverty. The average level of education was 4.1 years in 2011,1 and Guatemala is considered a lower-middle-income country. In 1946, these demographic characteristics were even more dismal and without the benefit of more than 60 years of national, economic, and cultural development.

In the context of these inequalities in 1946, Public Health Service investigators in a study funded by the National Institutes of Health, with the cooperation of Guatemalan authorities, engaged in a series of immoral and unethical human medical experiments conducted without the participants’ informed consent. The study involved at least 5128 vulnerable people, including children, orphans, child and adult prostitutes, Guatemalan Indians, leprosy patients, mental patients, prisoners, and soldiers. Between 1946 and 1948, health officials intentionally infected at least 1308 of these people with syphilis, gonorrhea, and chancroid and conducted serology tests on others. The study originally began in the United States but was moved to Guatemala when researchers were unable to consistently produce gonorrhea infections in prisoners at a Terre Haute, Indiana, prison. The public had no knowledge of the experiments for more than half a century, and even today little is known about these violations of medical ethics and human rights.

It is important to emphasize the facts surrounding the Guatemala sexually transmitted disease (STD) experiments to properly evaluate the moral, ethical, and legal implications of the experiments. The experiments were not conducted in a sterile clinical setting in which bacteria that cause STDs were administered in the form of a pin prick vaccination or a pill taken orally. The researchers systematically and repeatedly violated profoundly vulnerable individuals, some in the saddest and most despairing states, and grievously aggravated their suffering. For example:

Berta was a female patient in the psychiatric hospital. Her age and the illness that brought her to the hospital are unknown. In February 1948, Berta was injected in her left arm with syphilis. A month later, she developed scabies (an itchy skin infection caused by a mite). Several weeks later, [lead investigator Dr. John] Cutler noted that she had also developed red bumps where he had injected her arm, lesions on her arms and legs, and her skin was beginning to waste away from her body. Berta was not treated for syphilis until three months after her injection. Soon after, on August 23, Dr. Cutler wrote that Berta appeared as if she was going to die, but he did not specify why. That same day he put gonorrheal pus from another male subject into both of Berta’s eyes, as well as in her urethra and rectum. He also re-infected her with syphilis. Several days later, Berta’s eyes were filled with pus from the gonorrhea, and she was bleeding from her urethra. On August 27, Berta died.

In 2010, US President Barack Obama apologized to Guatemalan President Alvaro Colom and the people affected, expressing the United States’ commitment to the ethical and legal conduct of contemporary human medical studies. The US Presidential Commission for the Study of Bioethical Issues (hereafter the Commission) has since issued 2 reports: “Ethically Impossible” STD Research in Guatemala from 1946–19483 and Moral Science: Protecting Participants in Human Subjects Research.

The Commission’s first report condemned the experiments as “impossible” under current ethical standards. The second report acknowledged an inability by the United States to confirm that all federally funded research provides optimal protections against avoidable harms and unethical treatment today; the report also recommended reforms, none of which have been implemented as of yet. No mention of reparation or compensation for the victims was made in either report. In addition, little was said about the violations against human rights, which, when considered in conjunction with medical ethics, should provide protection to vulnerable populations.

By contrast, the Guatemalan government issued a separate report, Consentir el Daño: Experimentos Médicos de Estados Unidos en Guatemala (To Agree to the Harm: Medical Experiments by the United States in Guatemala), which went beyond the US reports to state that the experiments were “a crime against humanity” and that racism and discrimination were present throughout the experiments in an explicit and conscious way.7 The Guatemalan report called for reparation and compensation for the victims. In addition, 2 independent reports, written by the United Nations and the Catholic Church on human rights violations and genocide in Guatemala from the 1950s to the 1990s, bolster the Guatemalan commission’s declarations with respect to discrimination, reparations, and human rights and highlight weaknesses in the US reports. There is little evidence that the US government, the public health community, academic publications, or the media have acknowledged the Guatemalan report.

In spring 2012, when the case against the US government was considered by a federal district court as a class action lawsuit brought on behalf of the Guatemalan victims and their survivors, the court dismissed the case on grounds of sovereign immunity. Plaintiffs relied on the Ethically Impossible report in reciting the facts in the class action complaint. The US Justice Department did not dispute the facts in moving to dismiss the case, raising only technical arguments about sovereign immunity and the plaintiffs’ failure to exhaust administrative remedies before filing suit. The district court is required to assume the veracity of the plaintiff’s allegations when there is a motion to dismiss for failing to state a legally cognizable claim. The case was never heard on its merits and was dismissed on June 12, 2012, even though the court had set a hearing on the matter for July 26, 2012.

The court wrote that

the Guatemala Study is a deeply troubling chapter in our Nation’s history. Yet…this Court is powerless to provide any redress to the plaintiffs. The pleas are more appropriately directed to the political branches of our government, who, if they choose, have the ability to grant some modicum of relief to those affected by the Guatemala Study.

To date, the political branches have provided no relief to the plaintiffs.

However, on January 10, 2012, one day after the Justice Department moved to dismiss the case in Gudiel v Sebelius, the Department of Health and Human Services announced funding of approximately $1.8 million to improve treatment and prevention of HIV and other sexually transmitted infections (STIs) in Guatemala and to further strengthen ethical training on human research protections. In addition, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention was tasked with developing a case study on the unethical research conducted in Guatemala. The study will include learning objectives focused on scientific and ethical issues in designing a field investigation. Legal training appears to be missing from the Department of Health and Human Services directive. General funding of global human research protections and STI health initiatives in Guatemala is no substitute for treatment of and compensation to the victims.

Despite the Department of Health and Human Services’ announcement and the Commission’s reports, the lack of publicity received by the Guatemalan case is startling. The American public is largely unaware of these experiments and the outrageous treatment of Guatemalans, the reports by the US and Guatemalan commissions, or the victims’ lack of reparations, compensation, and access to justice through the courts. The media has devoted little attention to the case. Unlike other cases in which human rights were violated in human subjects research (e.g., the Tuskegee syphilis experiments), few, if any, organizations have taken up the cause for human justice with respect to this vulnerable Guatemalan population.

The wrongful actions by US officials can be characterized by several facts. First, US officials intentionally infected victims with bacteria that cause STDs without informed consent. Second, they have failed to provide victims with treatment or compensation. Finally, they covered up and did not publish or disclose the experiments, including the intentional infections and their failure to provide treatment.

In summary, the US and Guatemalan commissions have documented many of the facts of the STD experiments and are in agreement on many salient points. Each report has determined that the Public Health Service investigators violated contemporaneous medical research ethics standards, and the Guatemalan report determined that the experiments violated human rights law. Given the state of the records, the few judicial precedents, the increasingly unreceptive attitude of the US Supreme Court toward class actions, and the complicated questions of sovereign immunity, the plaintiffs’ quest for access to justice through the courts will be long and uncertain.


A significant omission of the Commission’s reports is the lack of an explicit discussion of legal responsibility and accountability. The Guatemalan report asserts that the investigation was immoral and constituted a crime against humanity. The report states that it focuses on the moral plane because most of the responsible principals are surely dead. The report refers to international human rights authorities and ethical principles such as the United Nations Declaration of Universal Human Rights (ratified by both the United States and Guatemala), the Interamerican Declaration on the Rights and Responsibilities of Man, the Rights of Man in the Charter of the Organization of American States, the 1978 Belmont report of the National Commission for the Protection of Human Subjects of Biomedical and Behavioral Research, and the Declaration of Helsinki. It also references the Nazi Nuremberg trials and the Tuskegee syphilis experiments.

The Obama administration has not conducted a public analysis to determine whether the experiments violated US or international legal standards. There is judicial precedent, however, to support the proposition that the Guatemala experiments violated international human rights standards. In the 2009 case of Abdullahi v Pfizer, the United States Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit held that nonconsensual medical experimentation on human beings violates customary international law because, among other reasons, the prohibition is sufficiently specific and focused and is accepted by nations around the world.

The relevant question with respect to the Guatemala STD experiments is “At what point in time did customary international law first prohibit nonconsensual medical experimentation?” The Nuremberg code, prohibiting human medical research without informed consent, was upheld with the conviction of German doctors on August 19, 1947; a case can be made that the intentional STIs in Guatemala violated this code beginning on that date, at a minimum, when US sexually transmitted disease investigators in Guatemala would have known of these developments in human rights law

Whereas US legal standards govern US-led research but do not necessarily protect residents of other nations, international laws protect all citizens of the world and should be closely considered in this case. For example, according to Article 7 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, “no one shall be subjected without his free consent to medical or scientific experimentation.” This covenant, adopted in 1966 and put in force in 1976, is monitored by the United Nations Human Rights Committee and is part of the International Bill of Rights. Some might argue that the Guatemalan case should be heard by the United Nations governing body to speed up the process of bringing compensation and relief to the victims. Other international human rights authorities and laws, including several articles from the 1948 Universal Declaration of Human Rights, also provide international standards for human subjects research, standards that surely were violated in the Guatemalan experiments.

Not only should human rights laws have been applied to the Guatemalan experiments; medical research is also governed by principles of biomedical ethics that call for patient safety, respect, beneficence, justice, and nonmaleficence (“first do no harm”). Today’s medical professionals and researchers are trained in these biomedical values and ethics. Most notably, the International Ethical Guidelines for Biomedical Research Involving Human Subjects, promulgated by the Council for International Organizations of Medical Sciences, define how the principles of the Declaration of Helsinki can be applied to developing countries in light of their socioeconomic circumstances. Although these guidelines were developed after the Guatemalan experiments, they recognize that, even in developing countries, informed consent and other basic principles of research ethics clearly apply. Surely, the researchers involved in the Guatemalan experiments were not abiding by many of these principles of biomedical research ethics.

International human rights standards provide one avenue to address structural injustice and institutional and national responsibility, including discrimination based on gender, race, and class in Guatemala and the complex of political, economic, military, and social relations between Guatemala and the United States. The actions in Guatemala went beyond domestic crimes such as rape, battery, assault, and conspiracy and violated international law.


The Commission reports generally allude to the possibility that discrimination played a role in the Guatemala investigations, but the reports do not address the issue adequately or systematically. For example, in Ethically Impossible, the authors discuss why the investigators selected Guatemala as a setting: “A possible remaining but clearly unacceptable explanation for choosing Guatemala would reflect the notion that the Guatemalans were a suitable, if not preferable, experimental population by virtue of poverty, ethnicity, race, remoteness, national status, or some combination of these factors.” The Moral Science report makes only a passing, ambiguous reference to racism in a footnote, stating simply, “The Commission here focuses on the issues of justice.”

By contrast, the Guatemala report discusses discrimination in much stronger terms. The report states that racism and discrimination were present throughout the experiments in an explicit and conscious way. The report recommends strengthening compliance with the constitutional requirements of equality among human beings to combat discrimination and racism.

Ultimately, the nonconsensual human experiments and serology tests conducted, the process of intentionally infecting people with bacteria that cause STDs, and the failure to provide treatment were immoral and unethical and violated both US and international legal standards, regardless of the race, color, national origin, or socioeconomic status of the victims here. Discrimination in the context of the Guatemalan experiments includes discrimination by US officials against Guatemalan people and discrimination within Guatemalan society by elites against lower-class indigenous and nonindigenous people. Discrimination is an aggravating, unacceptable factor that warrants additional review and discussion.

The US equal protection principles and laws are relevant when examining evidence of discrimination and the inferences to be drawn from the facts. The laws also provide guidance on how to address discrimination in other human research contexts with respect to underrepresented, minority, and vulnerable populations. The US Supreme Court and other authorities recognize that the following factors are relevant in evaluating a claim of intentional discrimination based on race, color, or national origin: the impact of the action and whether it bears more heavily on one group than another, a pattern or history of discrimination, departures from substantive norms, departures from procedural norms, and knowledge of the harm discrimination will cause (see, e.g., Village of Arlington Heights v Metropolitan Housing Dev. Corp. and Guardians Ass’n v Civil Serv. Comm’n18).

Under these parameters, evidence of discrimination abounds in the Guatemalan experiments. First, these experiments were limited to the Guatemalan people. Second, the United States has a history of discrimination and oppression against the people of Guatemala. For example, the Cold War and the war on drugs by the United States devastated Guatemala’s civic society and economy for decades. In 1954, the United States overthrew the country’s democratically elected government. Military dictatorships, backed by the United States, assassinated almost 200 0008 people in the next 40 years. The Guatemalan government engaged in mass killings of Mayans, obliterating entire villages. Bishop Juan Gerardi was bludgeoned to death in 1998 for publishing a report by the Catholic Church documenting the killings.

Third, the United States and Guatemala reports document departures from substantive and procedural norms in the Guatemala investigations. Fourth, the investigators knew of the harms they caused. Finally, civil rights statutes and federal regulations also prohibit unjustified discriminatory actions without requiring a showing of intent or individual racial animus. These standards of discrimination provide an analytic framework to evaluate evidence of discrimination in the context of the Guatemalan experiments. Indeed, these are the kinds of evidence that the Guatemala commission report cites in concluding that discrimination and racism were present throughout the experiments.


The Tuskegee syphilis experiments, involving recompense for past injustice, are directly relevant to the Guatemala injustices. In both the Guatemala and the Tuskegee experiments, directed by the same principal investigator, the US government engaged in concededly immoral and unethical actions: conducting nonconsensual human medical experiments, not treating infected victims, and deceiving victims and the public. In Guatemala, researchers intentionally infected the victims and generally left them without treatment or compensation for the remainder of their lives. In Tuskegee, the nearly 400 victims were already infected but were left without treatment beginning in the 1930s.

The United States eventually provided treatment and compensation for victims, families, and heirs in Tuskegee, including funding to locate the victims and pay attorneys’ fees. The ethical principle of equal justice strongly suggests that similar relief should be provided for the Guatemalan victims. However, reparation in Tuskegee was made only after organizations championed the cause, made the wrongful acts known to the general public, sought access to justice through the courts, and applied pressure on the government to take action. This has not occurred in the context of the Guatemalan STD experiments.


Academicians have long noted that, in addition to a duty of justice, an obligation of reparation arises from one’s wrongful acts. Scholars note that such compensatory action is morally essential not only to “repair” the harm but also to render victims their due and thereby acknowledge them as agents worthy of respect and entitled to atonement. The authors of the Guatemalan report also articulated the principles of compensation and reparations (as did Cohen and Adashi), which remain valid and extend to the need to address legal issues. A summary of these principles as they apply to the Guatemalan victims is informative.

First, as a matter of corrective justice, surviving participants or their affected contacts should be compensated in full for injuries sustained. Surviving family members should also be made whole for harm incurred, whether direct (e.g., disease transmission) or indirect (e.g., emotional distress, loss of a family member at a younger age) in nature. A political solution between the US government and the Guatemalan government can make this happen. Second, a compensation and reparations program would more concretely and permanently acknowledge the wrongful nature of the conduct in question, in keeping with the expressive function of both US and international law. Such a program would also reaffirm the legal and ethical standards undergirding human participant research.

Third, compensation and reparations would advance healing and reconciliation and constitute an important, tangible, goodwill gesture to the Guatemalan people and nation. Fourth, compensation and reparations could be tailored to enhance the legal and ethical training of current and future investigators, mitigating potential educational shortcomings and preventing future misconduct. Finally, as a matter of deterrence, compensation and reparations may obviate legal and ethical violations in the future.

History has provided a few models of compensation programs that the US response to Guatemala may do well to emulate. For example, in response to a class-action lawsuit (Allen v United States), the US Congress passed the Radiation Exposure Compensation Act of 1990.24 As of October 2011, more than $1.5 billion had been disbursed to more than 23 000 approved claimants exposed to ionizing radiation during US-based nuclear experiments.

It is this type of compensation that is required to correct the injustices suffered by the Guatemalan people, not the mere $1.8 million set aside for prevention programs and ethical training on human research protections. The Tuskegee payment structure26,27 ($37 500 for each living participant, $15 000 for each surviving dependent, $16 000 for each living control group participant, $5000 to heirs of deceased members of the control group) totaled $10 million in 1974 (approximately $47 million in 2013 currency). A similar payment structure applied to the Guatemalan victims would still be a relatively small amount in comparison with the $1.5 billion already awarded to victims of radiation research.


In its Ethically Impossible report addressing the Guatemalan experiments, the Commission expressed the need to be ever vigilant to ensure that such reprehensible exploitation of our fellow human beings is never repeated. As such, it is critical to adopt legal and ethical reforms to provide treatment and compensation for individuals involved in improperly conducted human experiments, waive sovereign immunity for federally funded human research in the United States and abroad, ensure that parallel protections apply to privately funded research, and respect autonomy and equality for all. Greater application of legal strategies may promote a stronger structural foundation for preventing such unethical acts in the future.

Viking origins

Posted: April 22, 2019 in Did you know?, History

A Viking Chant: Listen

viking_originsThe Vikings originated in what is now Denmark, Norway and Sweden (although centuries before they became unified countries). Their homeland was overwhelmingly rural, with almost no towns. The vast majority earned a meagre living through agriculture, or along the coast, by fishing. Where did the Vikings come from originally? Scandinavia: Most Vikings originated in Scandinavia, among the Norse population of present day Denmark, Sweden, and Norway. Some of the most famous Vikings were Danes, who established the Danelaw in England. The Norwegians raided Scotland, and founded Iceland.


Viking Leaders You Should Know

1. Rollo: First ruler of Normandy.
2. Erik the Red: Founded Greenland’s First Norse Settlement.
3. Olaf Tryggvason: Brought Christianity to Norway.
4. Leif Eriksson: Beat Columbus to the New World by 500 years.
5. Cnut the Great: England’s Viking King.
6. Harald Hardrada: The Last Great Viking Leader.

Did Vikings really exist?

According to the Icelandic sagas, many Norwegian Vikings also went to eastern Europe. In the Viking Age, the present day nations of Norway, Sweden and Denmark did not exist, but were largely homogeneous and similar in culture and language, although somewhat distinct geographically.

What was the Viking population?

This household size suggests that at the end of the settlement era, Iceland had a population of about 60,000 people. Settlement patterns in late Viking age Iceland suggest there were about 4,000 farms, of which 1,500 were estates and large farms, while the remainder were smaller settlements.

Was Ragnar Lothbrok real?

That man was Ragnar Lothbrok. Ragnar is the first real Viking personality to emerge from the hazy accounts of the period but in many ways he still belongs more in the fable-filled pages of the sagas than amongst the sober entries in the chronicles.

Are Vikings Irish or Scottish?

They emerged in the Viking Age, when Vikings who settled in Ireland and in Scotland adopted Gaelic culture and intermarried with Gaels. The Norse–Gaels dominated much of the Irish Sea and Scottish Sea regions from the 9th to 12th centuries.

Was Ragnar Lothbrok a king?

Ragnar Lodbrok or Lothbrok (Old Norse: Ragnarr Loðbrók, "Ragnar shaggy breeches", contemporary Norse: Ragnar Loðbrók) was a historically dubious Norse Viking hero and legendary king of Denmark and Sweden, known from Viking Age Old Norse poetry and sagas.

Was Ivar the Boneless real?

Ivar the Boneless (Old Norse: Ívarr hinn Beinlausi; Old English: Hyngwar), also known as Ivar Ragnarsson, was a Viking leader and a commander who invaded what is now England. According to The Tale of Ragnar Lodbrok, he was the son of Ragnar Loðbrok and Aslaug.

What was the largest Viking settlement?

Hedeby (Danish pronunciation: [ˈheːð̩byːˀ], Old Norse Heiðabýr, German Haithabu) was an important Danish Viking Age (8th to the 11th centuries) trading settlement near the southern end of the Jutland Peninsula, now in the Schleswig-Flensburg district of Schleswig-Holstein, Germany.

Who were the Vikings afraid of?

Vikings were members of tribes, originally from Scandinavia, of Norse ancestry, who gained a reputation for their raids and piracy in many parts of Europe, especially England, Ireland, and Frankish territories. The term "Viking age" refers to the period roughly from 793 AD to the late 11th century in Europe.

Did Vikings have blue eyes?

New research shows that people with blue eyes have a single, common ancestor. Scientists have tracked down a genetic mutation which took place 6,000-10,000 years ago and is the cause of the eye color of all blue-eyed humans alive on the planet today.

When did Ivar the Boneless die?

873 AD

Did Vikings discover America?

Half a millennium before Columbus “discovered” America, those Viking feet may have been the first European ones to ever have touched North American soil. Exploration was a family business for the expedition’s leader, Leif Eriksson (variations of his last name include Erickson, Ericson, Erikson, Ericsson and Eiriksson).

Where did the Vikings conquer?

The Vikings who invaded western and eastern Europe were mainly pagans from the same area as present-day Denmark, Norway, and Sweden. They also settled in the Faroe Islands, Ireland, Iceland, peripheral Scotland (Caithness, the Hebrides and the Northern Isles), Greenland, and Canada.

Was Bjorn Ironside a real person?

The Hervarar saga from the 13th century tells that Eysteinn Beli was killed by Björn and his brothers as told in Ragnar Lodbrok’s saga, and they conquered all of Sweden. When Ragnar died Björn Ironside inherited Sweden. He had two sons, Refil and Erik Björnsson, who became the next king of Sweden.

Was Lagertha a real person?

Lagertha was, according to legend, a Viking shieldmaiden and ruler from what is now Norway, and the onetime wife of the famous Viking Ragnar Lodbrok. Her tale, as recorded by the chronicler Saxo in the 12th century, may be a reflection of tales about Thorgerd (Þorgerðr Hölgabrúðr), a Norse deity.

Are Irish Vikings?

The history of Ireland 800–1169 covers the period in the history of Ireland from the first Viking raids to the Norman invasion. … Viking ports were established at Dublin, Wexford, Waterford, Cork and Limerick, which became the first large towns in Ireland.

Are the Scottish and Irish related?

Irish-Scots are people in Scotland who are of immediate or traceably distinct Irish ancestry. … However, with centuries of heavy Irish immigration to Scotland, it is generally believed to be over 1.5 million people may have some Irish blood, even if very distantly.

Do shetlanders consider themselves Scottish?

Many regard themselves as Shetlanders or Orcadians first, and then British. They emphatically do not see themselves as Scots. However, if Scotland does become independent, then the islanders will be left attached to a country to which many do not wish to belong.

How did Ragnar Lothbrok really die in history?

This sort of ambiguity pervades much that is thought to be known about Ragnar, and it has its roots in the European literature created after his death. … According to Saxo’s legendary history, Ragnar was eventually captured by the Anglo-Saxon king Aella of Northumbria and thrown into a snake pit to die.

Did Ivar the Boneless have any children?

Sigtrygg Ivarsson
Sichfrith Ivarsson
Ivar the Boneless/Children

What was Viking life like?

There were farmers, who kept animals and grew crops, and skilful craft workers, who made beautiful metalwork and wooden carvings. Everyone lived together in a large home called a longhouse. The Vikings also brought with them their way of life and beliefs.