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Millions of Grand Canyon Tourists Accidentally Exposed to Radiation

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Three buckets of radioactive uranium ore were stored at the Grand Canyon Museum Collection Building for nearly 20 years, potentially exposing millions of tourists to harmful radiation. Federal officials reportedly learned of the uranium ore last year and have since removed the buckets from the site.

However, officials neglected to notify the public that visitors may have been exposed to radiation. In fact, many of the park’s employees themselves weren’t even notified of the risk.

Earlier this month, Elston “Swede” Stephenson, safety, health and wellness manager at the National Park, blew the whistle on the cover-up when he sent an unauthorized email to all Park Service employees warning them about the uranium stored at the Grand Canyon. According to AZCentral, Stephenson said:

“If you were in the Museum Collections Building (2C) between the year 2000 and June 18, 2018, you were ‘exposed’ to uranium by OSHA’s definition. The radiation readings, at first blush, exceeds (sic) the Nuclear Regulatory Commission’s safe limits. … Identifying who was exposed, and your exposure level, gets tricky and is our next important task. My first interest is the safety of the workers and the people. Of particular concern are 1000s of children attending ‘shows’ in very close proximity to the uranium.

“Respectfully, it was not only immoral not to let Our People know, but I could no longer risk my (health and safety) certification by letting this go any longer,” he added.

The email was a last resort for Stephenson, who was pleading with his managers to warn the public and other Park Service employees after the material was removed.

Stephenson says the buckets were in the basement since it opened sometime around the year 2000. It is not clear why this spot at the Grand Canyon was chosen to hold radioactive material or if it was some kind of mistake.

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The material was discovered by chance when the son of a park employee was playing with a Geiger counter, an instrument used for detecting and measuring radiation, in the area and detected unusual levels of radiation coming from the room.

Stephenson estimates that close exposure to the amount of uranium that was in the buckets could expose adults to 400 times the “healthy limit” of radiation. It is even worse for children, with Stephenson saying that it could be 4,000 times beyond what is considered safe.

The containers were stored in an area that received plenty of foot traffic. Tours often stopped nearby for presentations, staying close to the radioactive material for 30 minutes or more. Stephenson says that just under a minute is still dangerous for adults.

Despite Stephenson’s concern, representatives with the Park Service are downplaying the risk, saying that recent tests show only small, normal amounts of radiation.

Emily Davis, public affairs specialist at Grand Canyon National Park, spoke only of the current risk when asked about the situation:

“There is no current risk to the park employees or public. The building is open. … The information I have is that the rocks were removed, and there’s no danger.”

However, there are still many people who passed through the park for the many years that the radioactive material was stored there.

Stephenson said that he has been cut off from any involvement in the investigation and that his superiors have attempted to hide reports from him. “They’re in cover-up mode. I’ve been cut off from any kind of information. I’ve never seen anything like this in my life,” he said.

The Grand Canyon has an average of 4.5 million visitors each year.

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Bizarre

The Notorious ‘Gateway to Hell’ May Finally Be Sealed, Turkmenistan’s President Says

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The Central Asian nation of Turkmenistan has long been host to what has been dubbed the “Gateway to Hell” – a massive hole in the ground that has been smoldering for about five decades.

However, the country’s government is now moving to finally extinguish the blazing natural Darvaza gas crater which lies in the center of the huge Karakum desert.

This isn’t the first time that President Gurbanguly Berdymukhamedov has spoken of extinguishing the so-called portal to the underworld. In 2010, the strongman leader also ordered that experts investigate how best to put out the flames, which have been raging since a mishandled Soviet drilling expedition in 1971.

To prevent a disaster resulting from the spread of dangerous fumes, Soviet authorities decided it would be best to burn off the gas by setting it alight.

As a result, the 229-foot (70 meter) wide and 65-foot (20-meter) deep crater has been ablaze ever since, drawing tourists to the former Soviet country.

In 2018, the government officially renamed the pit the “Shining of Karakum.”

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This week, Berdymukhamedov decried how the gas crater “negatively affects both the environment and the health of the people living nearby,” reports AFP.

“We are losing valuable natural resources for which we could get significant profits and use them for improving the well-being of our people,” he added in the televised statement, noting that officials must “find a solution to extinguish the fire.”

Turkmenistan is known to possess the fourth-largest known reserve of natural gas in the world, reports VICE, and its economy is dependent on the export of the raw resource.

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Corruption

Turns Out Schrödinger, the Father of Quantum Physics, Was a Shameless Pedophile

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Long hailed as one of the fathers of quantum physics, celebrated physicist Erwin Schrödinger is now being reevaluated after damning evidence was published that shows that the scientist was a pedophile and serial “sexual predator.”

Schrödinger, a Nobel Prize-winning Austrian-Irish scientist remembered for his 1935 thought experiment “Schrödinger’s Cat,” was exposed as a pedophile by The Irish Times in a December report detailing his unapologetic record as a serial abuser of young girls and women.

Since the report’s publication, academics and faculties across the globe have been distancing themselves from the physicist and launching petitions to remove his name from their facilities.

The physicist made foundational contributions to quantum theory and is largely responsible for the current craze for quantum computing, but his extracurricular activities have been exposed as being fundamentally exploitative and abusive toward girls and women.

According to 2012 biography Erwin Schrödinger and the Quantum Revolution by John Gribbin, which the Irish Times cited, the physicist became preoccupied with, and groomed, a 14-year-old girl named Itha Junger after becoming her math tutor. Schrödinger, who was middle-aged at the time, impregnated her when she was 17.

That year, Junger became pregnant and resorted to a horrific abortion that left her sterile, leaving the relationship in tatters.

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The physicist also kept a record of his sexual exploits, which included being “infatuated” with a 12-year-old girl named Barbara. He only relented from pursuing the child after her family members protested. He later wrote in his diaries that the child was “among the unrequited loves of his life”.

Schrödinger, Life and Thought author Walter Moore noted that the physicist’s scummy attitude towards women “was essentially that of a male supremacist.”

Students and lecturers are now rejecting the scientist. In his adopted country, Ireland, a petition has been launched to change the title of a facility at Dublin’s Trinity University that’s named after him.

 “It seems in bad taste that a modern college such as Trinity – one that holds lectures to both men and women, one that (hopefully) rejects the abuse of women, of young girls or, indeed, of anyone – would honour this man with an entire building,” the petition reads.

“We can acknowledge the great mark Schrodinger has left on science through our study, and this petition does not wish to diminish the impact his lectures or ideas had in physics.”

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Corruption

Queen Strips Prince Andrew of All Royal Titles as Child Sex Abuse Trial Looms

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Britain’s Prince Andrew has been unceremoniously stripped of his military and royal titles, Buckingham Palace announced Thursday, just one day after a Manhattan judge gave the green light to a sexual abuse lawsuit against the disgraced son of the Queen.

Andrew, 61, is now unable to use the title “His Royal Highness” in any official capacity and his other roles as the Duke of York will be distributed among the other members of the House of Buckingham.

“With The Queen’s approval and agreement, the Duke of York’s military affiliations and Royal patronages have been returned to The Queen,” the royal family said in an official statement, reports CNN. “The Duke of York will continue not to undertake any public duties and is defending this case as a private citizen.”

Prince Andrew faces a civil lawsuit from Virginia Giuffre Roberts, 38, who alleges that she was forced by late financier Jeffrey Epstein and his partner Ghislaine Maxwell to have “disgusting” sex with the duke in London when she 17, a minor under U.S. law. Giuffre claims that Andrew knew at the time that she was underage.

According to her lawsuit, she feared disobeying Epstein and Maxwell due to “their powerful connections, wealth and authority.” Andrew, however, vociferously denies the claim.

The ongoing drama surrounding Andrew has already led to the Queen stripping her middle son of performing royal tasks following his humiliating 2019 interview with the BBC where he attempted to justify his friendship with Epstein and Ghislaine Maxwell, who was recently found guilty of sex trafficking.

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At the time, the prince – a former Royal Navy helicopter pilot who flew missions in the 1982 Malvinas War – was allowed to retain his military titles, which included vice admiral of the Royal Navy and colonel of the Grenadier Guards.

However, Buckingham Palace had faced strong pressure from military groups to strip the Duke of York of those titles.

“We understand that he is your son, but … please do not leave it any longer,” a group of 150 veterans wrote in an open letter to the monarch.

“All of us have served our country and are proud to have done so. For that reason, we are particularly upset and angry that Prince Andrew remains a member of the armed forces and continues to hold military titles,” the veterans added.

“Officers of the British armed forces must adhere to the very highest standards of probity, honesty and honorable conduct. These are standards which Prince Andrew has fallen well short of,” the letter said.

Andrew is likely to face a trial in Manhattan federal court later this year following the court’s Wednesday ruling.

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