First Light Productions

investigative journalism

Your Brain on Brake Pad Dust

Posted on September 8, 2016

A makes sense connection between air pollution and dementia may partially explain the ever expanding number of people with degenerative brain diseases such as Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s.


Think specks of particles 36 times finer than a grain of sand riddled with toxic combinations of sulfate, nitrate and ammonium ions, hydrocarbons, and heavy metals. Writing this with the sound of city bound commuters leaking through the windows, I’m wondering…..

The Anthropocene and the chicken

Posted on September 4, 2016

A new epoch for mankind began about 1950. It is defined by radioactive fallout from nuclear bomb tests, plastic pollution, soot from power stations, high levels of nitrogen and phosphate in soils derived from artificial fertilizers, concrete, and the global proliferation of the domestic chicken (yes).

Ocean plastic. Photo: Dimitar Dilkoff/AFP/Getty Images

The  epoch we are leaving, the Holocene, lasted for 12,000 years  since the last ice age, during which a period of stable climate allowed human civilization to develop. About 1950, homo sapiens’ finely wrought advances began to spin wildly out of control. Carbon dioxide emissions, sea level rise, the global mass extinction of species, deforestation and mass development have thrown a wrench in the works of the planet’s machinery, setting earth on a permanently different trajectory.

Experts speaking at the International Geological Congress in Cape Town, South Africa recently likened it to a largish spaceship drifting out of control without a crew at the helm.

→For the full story, including the lowdown on the chicken, see the Guardian.

Fade up

Posted on August 31, 2016


Jackson says “Stay tuned.”

After a long hiatus I’m back on the air as it were. Gearing up to finish “Done In” the epic story of PCBs in the upper Hudson River Valley — and roll it out with a pitch for the public policy series of investigative docs “Watchdog — the series.”©




Next up:  “Sanctuary — the Race to Save the Space Chimps,

Carole in safari hat.jpg

Carole and Zeke

the remarkable story of the late Dr. Carole Noon, who sued the Air Force to free America’s beloved Space Chimps from the grip of a mad scientist.


Reading, Writing and Anti-Poaching

Posted on June 1, 2014

Fight for Rhinos

According to studies, children’s academic performance in science, math, English and social sciences increase when they have experience with nature and the outdoors—not to mention their sense of ownership and responsibility to their surroundings.(Wildlife Federation)

kenyan school childrenSo it only makes sense to include conservation as part of their education. Afterall, who better to entrust our future generations of rhinos and elephants to than the children?

There are organizations throughout Africa who give the opportunity of conservation education to children. But Kenya has taken it a step further,  getting with the times by introducing anti-poaching and conservation curriculum to secondary schools in the Masai Mara and Serengeti areas.

We decided to introduce lessons on wildlife conservation to these schools to sensitise communities that neighbour the Mara and Serengeti parks on the need to end poaching. The students will visit villages to educate locals on the dangers posed by the menace,”
 said Nick Murero, the Mara-Serengeti…

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Red wolfies

Posted on May 29, 2014

Zoos are an iffy proposition in many ways but there are also upsides.

One of a litter of 8 red wolves born at the Point Defiance zoo in Tacoma, Washington in 2012.

One of a litter of 8 red wolves born at the Point Defiance zoo in Tacoma, Washington.

Once common from Texas to Pennsylvania to Florida, red wolves have been hunted trapped and poisoned almost to extinction. The wild population today numbers about 100, making them one of North America’s rarest mammals.

One of four red wolf pups were recently born at the Green Bay, Wisconsin NEW Zoo.

One of six red wolf pups recently born at the NEW Zoo in Green Bay, Wisconsin.

To pump fresh blood into the wild population, several zoos across North American, such as the Point Defiance zoo in Tacoma, Washington and the Chicago zoo, operate red wolf breeding programs. After the zoo born pups pass a health check, U.S. Forest Service biologists slip them into the litters of wild females who raise them as their own.

Red wolf pups born at the Chicago zoo are introduced into the wild. (Photo: US Forest Service)

Red wolf pups born at the Chicago zoo are introduced into the wild. (Photo: US Forest Service)

Smaller than gray wolves, red wolves are known for patches of reddish fur behind their ears and on their necks. It is illegal to shoot a red wolf but they are regularly shot by hunters who generally claim to have mistaken them for coyotes.

Source: Red Wolf Coalition.

Equal Opportunity Genocide

Posted on May 25, 2014

Fight for Rhinos

Thai poaching  ring-leader Chumlong Lemtongthai Thai poaching leader-Chumlong Lemtongth

Dawie Groenewald, Sariette Groenewald Dawie & Sariette Groenewald, convicted rhino poachers from South Africa.

rhino with US flag American trophy hunters.

Kenyan poachers Kenyan poachers set to appear in Nairobi court.

Russian trophy hunter Russian trophy hunter Rashid Sardarov.

Our rhinos are dying. In Kenya and Sumatra, in Zimbabwe and Assam…killed by poachers, by trophy hunters…from Thailand, South Africa, America, Kenya, Russia, and yes…China.

It is a fact that China and Vietnam are the driving force, the demand for our rhinos’ horn. The frustration of this can become overwhelming at times, I admittedly find myself thinking…”China again?!”.  But it’s easy to confuse China for the Chinese, a.k.a. the forest for the trees. Not All Chinese use rhino horn any more than All Americans are trophy hunters.

Racism and bias are intolerable. There is no time or space for this in the fight to save our rhinos. We must set aside our differences, ignore our borders, and unite to save them. For…

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Tell Arrowhead Research to Stop Experimenting on Chimpanzees!

Posted on May 25, 2014

Ronnie's Blog

Buckshire chimps in lab cages. Cruel and needless experiments are performed on chimpanzees like 4X0139 and this one because companies like Arrowhead continue to commission them

Thirty-five years ago, a female chimpanzee—identified only as “4X0139″—was intentionally infected with the hepatitis B virus by experimenters. She was then infected with HIV, hepatitis C, and other illnesses and has been imprisoned in a laboratory for use in traumatic experiments in the decades since.

Recently, in an experiment at the notoriousTexas Biomedical Research Institute, she was injected with an experimental hepatitis B drug and then underwent repeated painful biopsies, during which pieces of her liver were removed.

This experiment was commissioned by pharmaceutical company Arrowhead Research Corporation, even though a landmark report on the scientific validity of experiments on chimpanzees concluded that “most current biomedical research use of chimpanzees is not necessary,” including for hepatitis B research. Many drug companies—including Merck, GlaxoSmithKline, Gilead Sciences, and…

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Now it’s the Europeans

Posted on May 16, 2014

The war on sharks has spread to the European Union.

Blue shark. (Photo: Wiki Commons)

Blue shark. (Photo: Wiki Commons)

A new report says that as many as four million of these ancient fish, mainly blues and makos, are being caught every year in the North Atlantic.

Apparently, the collapse of the tuna fishery has caused long-line fishermen from Spain and Portugal who use baited lines strung out for up to 60 miles, to target areas where sharks congregate on their migratory routes at the confluence of warm and cool currents.

Indeed, landings of blue sharks reported by the EU fleet have tripled since 2003, with Spain responsible for more than 80 per cent.

The size of the catch helps explain why shark numbers have been plummeting so rapidly worldwide. The yearly global catch of sharks — estimated at upwards of 100 million — has long worried conservationists and fisheries experts.

The report was compiled by researchers from Plymouth’s Marine Biological Association which tagged and tracked 100 sharks and compared their movements with those of several hundred long-line vessels.

The commercial long-line fishery is largely unregulated. A major market is in the Far East where shark fin soup is an expensive delicacy.

Source: Wildlife Extra.

Eu Plans Drift Net Ban To Save Tuna

Posted on May 15, 2014

Ann Novek( Luure)--With the Sky as the Ceiling and the Heart Outdoors



Fishermen will be banned from using drift nets if an EU proposal gets the go-ahead

The European Union’s executive has proposed to ban the use of drift nets in EU waters and on its vessels anywhere by the end of the year to better enforce the protection of dolphins and other sea mammals, sea turtles and bluefin tuna.

Drift nets stretching for miles close to the surface are often responsible for the incidental capture and death of thousands of marine animals that are important to the ecosystem but have little commercial value.

Historically, such nets have also been used in the hunt for endangered bluefin tuna. A total ban on drift nets would make catching cheats easier. The proposal now goes to the 28 member states for approval.

The Pew Charitable Trusts said the proposal showed the EU’s “willingness to crack down on the…

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Harvard study links pesticides to bee deaths

Posted on May 14, 2014

Science on the Land

Colony Collapse Disorder (CCD) in honeybees (Apis mellifera) can be linked with low-dose insecticides. Philip Case at the UK magazine Farmers Weekly tells us about research in the States, where CCD is a huge problem. This is a serious matter for all of us because without bees, we’d go hungry.

Here’s the press release from the Harvard School of Public Health. Here’s the research paper.

Scientists fed bees low doses of two neonicotinoids in sugar-water. Then they let the bees return to foraging from their hives. The sugar-water contained two of the neonics which, since last December, are under a temporary ban here in Europe. The insecticides these scientists used were imidacloprid and clothianidin, both made by the biotech giant Bayer.

So much for the pro-neonic view that I read (I don’t recall where) dissing the science that underlies the European neonic ban…

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Legal Markets For Ivory In China And Japan Fuel The Slaughter Of Elephants

Posted on May 10, 2014

Ann Novek( Luure)--With the Sky as the Ceiling and the Heart Outdoors

From the archives: the ivory report that changed everything

May 9, 2014

In response to devastating poaching levels in the 1980s, the international ban on elephant ivory trade went into effect after the 1989 CITES Appendix I listing of African elephants.

This landmark decision led to a dramatic reduction in elephant poaching across much of Africa as ivory prices plummeted.

A key factor in the CITES decision was the release of the EIA reportA System of Extinction: The African Elephant Disaster, which scrutinised markets in Asia, investigated rampant poaching in African countries and exposed some of the international criminals who oversaw the bloody trade.

With elephants once again being hammered by poaching as ivory demand soars, and as EIA anticipates its 30th anniversary later this year, filmmaker and EIA volunteer Danielle Kummer dipped into our extensive film archive to revisit the key investigations which made such an impact:

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