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Saturday, August 10, 2002

One Small Poster for Humanity (x 10,000)

A 17-year old girl scrimps and saves 1500 pounds UK for a year, plans and organizes how to spend it for another, and then spent a night plastering London with her posters to remind us all of the urgent need to deal with the problems of deforestation, poverty, and world sustainability. See

Posted by Richard
8/10/2002 05:56:09 PM | PermaLink

Problems at the Pound

If you can judge a society by how it treats its animals, New York is in sorry shape. The city's animal-welfare system, one of the worst in the country, is bound to get worse with this year's budget cuts.

The 16 percent cut at the Center for Animal Care and Control, more colloquially known as the city dog pound, may not seem draconian — but the the agency is already drastically underfunded. The city will spend $7.2 million on the agency this year, less than $1 per New Yorker, while the Humane Society of the United States recommends spending $4 per resident for an effective animal control program.

We get what we pay for. In June, the city comptroller confirmed what animal rights activists have been saying for years: the shelter agency "accidentally and needlessly" euthanizes the animals it is charged to protect. Euthanasia is a necessary part of urban animal management, but New York City puts down far too many animals. Last year some 50,600 cats and dogs entered the control center, and 36,500 were put to sleep. We're killing 72 percent of the animals that end up in the city shelter, an average of 100 a day.

Money won't solve all the agency's problems. The comptroller found that animals were subjected to abuse and neglect, and employees who mistreated animals were rarely dismissed. The agency is also notoriously hostile to volunteers, even those willing to take in otherwise doomed dogs and cats.

But money would surely help: the budget cuts approved by the Bloomberg administration mean shelters can't stay open 24 hours.

In times when social service programs are getting cut, it's hard to argue that more general tax dollars should go to puppies and kittens. But the city's unwanted animals could easily be supported by animal lovers paying more for dog licenses. The city's license program has been so ineptly managed that only one in 15 dogs are actually registered and the fees are ludicrously inadequate. The basic license for a neutered dog is $8.50 and $11.50 for an unneutered dog. This is nothing compared with the $1,000 or so it takes each year to care for a dog.

Raising the basic license fee substantially is a sensible way to make up for part of the budget cut. The reason people don't register their dogs is not because the fee is high, but because the process is so arduous and there is no real enforcement. The key to better animal control is to make licensing easier, along with creating a better enforcement system that levies heavy fines on owners caught with unlicensed dogs.

Currently the people who have it the worst are responsible dog owners who neuter their pets. The health department requires owners to show their dogs are neutered with either medical records (which don't exist for many rescued animals) or, bizarrely, an affidavit stamped by a notary public, which was required until recently even for license renewals. One solution is to have veterinarians, who already dispense rabies shots and tags, do the same with licenses.

The city must also increase the surcharge for unneutered animals. The surcharge is now a lame $3, less than what it costs for a decent-sized rawhide bone. Not long ago, Los Angeles, for example, raised its license fee for unneutered dogs to a much more realistic $100. New York should do the same. Unneutered pets cause the overpopulation problem, and unneutered male dogs can be particularly aggressive in dog runs and on crowded city sidewalks.

Raising the license fee would not be a big burden for responsible dog owners, many of whom spend lots of time and money caring for the city's strays. Many dog owners take it upon themselves when they find a stray dog to get it to the vet and find it a home to save it from almost certain death at the city pound. Instead of having one functioning, humane animal shelter, New Yorkers have had to set up their own ad hoc animal shelters in storefronts, apartments and basements all over the city.

The city is spending millions of dollars on animal control, killing tens of thousands of animals a year. Sensible public policy would make it easier to license animals, impose heavy fines on owners who don't get licenses and require that those who refuse to neuter their dogs pay for that privilege.

By Carol Vinzant, New York Times

Carol Vinzant is the volunteer manager of the Tompkins Square dog run.

Posted by Richard
8/10/2002 03:19:28 PM | PermaLink

Friday, August 09, 2002

Think it over: Bird duplicates stolen tool to get meal

Humans may have to eat crow next time they use ''bird brain'' as an insult.

It appears that New Caledonian crows have a knack for using tools that rivals apes' -- maybe even humans'. Experts are describing this tool-using behavior, reported in today's Science, as one of the most stunning examples of animal intelligence and problem-solving observed so far.

Crows, ravens and jays, known as corvids, are an especially clever family of birds -- so smart that they're considered pests by many people in cities and suburbs, where they raid garbage cans and create all manner of mischief. New Caledonian crows of the South Pacific are known as avid tool users and frequently use leaves, twigs and feathers to catch prey.

Today's fuss is over a crow named Betty, who lives at the Behavioral Ecology Research Group laboratory at Oxford University in England. A team of Oxford researchers arranged an experiment to find out whether Betty and an older bully crow named Abel could pick the right tool for a job if given a choice. The job: to snag a piece of meat from a tube using a wire. The crows had a choice between a straight and a hooked wire.

Sure enough, Betty and Abel chose the hooked wire to snag the meat without any problems. But during the experiment, Abel, being bigger and dominant, stole Betty's hook, leaving her with only a straight wire to get her meat.

Instead of giving up, ''she took the wire and wedged the tip in a crack and bent it with her beak to produce a hook like the one that had been stolen,'' lab chief Alex Kacelnik says. ''Betty then proceeded to get the food.''

To make sure this wasn't a fluke, the team tested Betty using straight wires only. Nine out of 10 times, she made a hook.

Kacelnik says the researchers didn't try the experiment with Abel. Dominant males employ more efficient, though perhaps less clever, strategies: They wait until the work is done and steal the food from subordinates.

Marc Bekoff, University of Colorado scientist and co-author of Minding Animals, calls the experiment ''perhaps one of the most significant studies in animal thinking for any species.''

It may be the first to document an animal engaging in spontaneous problem-solving. Betty clearly ''knew'' what she was doing.

Animal behavior scientists have debated for more than century whether animals are capable of intent. Betty's behavior, Bekoff says, was ''intentional, goal driven and it is not trial and error.''

Betty could form a mental image of the hook she needed to create and devise various ways of making it. Scientists aren't sure what to make of that in animals, but when we do it, it's called thinking.

By Tim Friend, USA Today

Posted by Richard
8/09/2002 09:21:09 AM | PermaLink

Dow-Carbide to be Held Unaccountable for Bhopal Environmental Disaster?

This in from Mike Meuser at Mapcruzin:
Dow-Carbide, one of the world's largest corporations, forced a 'settlement' with the Indian government that gave the survivors a 'compensation' of a maximum of $500 each - many received less - not even enough to cover the cost of simple medicines.

Thirty people still die every month from the effects of the gas. Meanwhile the drinking water of the very same communities that were hit in 1984 is being poisoned by cancer- and birth -defect causing chemicals that lie in the open in the derelict factory, or were dumped on waste ground by the company for up to 10 years after the accident.

On July 17, the Indian government applied to reduce charges against Warren Anderson, the Union Carbide CEO at the time of the disaster - the same man who has been refusing to answer the court's summons for 11 years. The court's judgment will be given on August 27. If the charges are diluted it will reduce the deaths of 20,000 people and the 18 years' suffering of the survivors to the status of a car accident and virtually end hopes of ever getting just compensation for the victims. The victims began a hunger strike in India, which I joined on July 17th to force Dow Chemicals to accept its liabilities for the Bhopal disaster. Hundreds around the world have joined me. for complete alert with links and email addresses.

Posted by Richard
8/09/2002 08:16:43 AM | PermaLink

Other News That Caught My Eye

A Guide to the World Summit's "Eco-jargon" -- What the Heck is a "Sustainable Partnership," You Might Wonder?
Japan Finds High Levels of Cancer-Causing Toxin in Whale Meat -- Government Answer? Boil It.
Alberta to Make Test Mandatory for Mad Deer Disease in Farms This after the first case of mad-cow death in a human was revealed by Saskatchewan. A huge amount of reporting last night on Mad Cow on Canadian TV's The National. The point was made, I think correctly, that the man who died probably contracted the disease from British meat in the late '90s and not from Canada -- so there's a little panic that's unsupportable at the moment. However, The National, for all its good reporting, completely failed to even mention that Mad Cow (whatever its unsubstantiated threats to US and Canadian beef) is a real threat as Mad Deer. The entire issue of game farming and hunting was left off the table. What is otherwise one of the best television news programs in the world needs to follow up and correct this error in judgement.

Posted by Richard
8/09/2002 08:13:14 AM | PermaLink

26 August - 4 September: World Summit on Sustainable Development (via Internet Radio)

Radio Earth Summit
People around the world affected by the activities of multinational corporations are sending their sound messages to this year's Earth Summit in Johannesburg. Radio Earth Summit is broadcasting their voices. Please send Your Story about a corporation and your thoughts about the Earth Summit in Jo'burg this August.
All material on the site is in MP3 format, broadcast quality, copyright free and downloadable. There are free-to-rebroadcast interviews with Arundhati Roy, Manu Chau and many others...

Amarc WSSD Community Radio Project
In recognition of the impact of WSSD proceedings on the lives of the African community, Amarc Africa is organizing a global community radio broadcast to cover the event. This broadcast will enable communities to get a glimpse of what is being discussed, and how that will affect their lives. The broadcast is being carried out in collaboration with South Africa’s National Community Radio Forum (NCRF).
Coverage of the WSSD will also be web-cast live on the internet, with links to Amarc’s Voices Without Frontiers site and and on site.

Diversity Radio at the World Summit on Sustainable Development
Tune into Diversity Radio during the upcoming World Summit on Sustainable Development, bringing you diverse voices and thoughts from Johannesburg, South Africa. Interviews and information from the grassroots to political figureheads, from the radicals, reformists to the mainstream, from the social movement to the corporateheads. Diversity Radio will cover the actions and events and bring you the issues discussed - as well as those not discussed. They are looking for contributions, click here for details.

The Stakeholder Forum
The Stakeholder Forum is supporting a wide range of stakeholder activity in the preparations for this years Earth Summit in Johannesburg. It is also running a large consulatative event at the summit looking at radio and sustainability with a two day meeting for 'radio and sustainability'players in Jo'berg, just before the Summit 24th-26th August. For more information see or email to Ruth Grier.

OneWorld TV
Watch the focus edition on the World Summit on OneWorld TV from August 26. Videos from Jo'burg and related to the topic. Special Report on the Earth Summit
Visit this Campaign site to get the latest news and updates and numerous links to background reading.

Debt Channel Discussion Forum will launch the Discussion Forum: “From Monterrey to Johannesburg”. This online event discusses issues such as sustainable development strategies, aid and debt, and the way the UN World Summit on Sustainable Development Summit (WSSD) should tackle them. Register online.

The Daily Summit
The Daily Summit will be reporting live from the World Summit.
The site will offer an original and fast-moving take on the summit. One of its main functions will be to act as gateway to the crescendo of news, views, ideas, arguments, and proposals that will be published on the web.

Posted by Richard
8/09/2002 06:41:38 AM | PermaLink

Conflict Could Soon be Nuclear

The idea that the US would knowingly engage an enemy in which the consequences could be nuclear, chemical, biological, and radiological warfare throughout the Middle East defies all that is reasonable and humane and makes a mockery of the Enlightenment ideals. And yet, though Bush pledges "patience" all signs appear that troops are building in the region and countries are being asked to serve as bases. This is not patience.

Oh to be President and know what's really going on in all this media manipulation! Is this all a bully tactic to attempt to strongarm Saddam to playing ball with his natural resources and military might (i.e. cough up his oil and nice prices and not deal with factions deemed "terrorist" by the US state)? Is it an old Bush grudge that the son has vowed to avenge for his aging father? Or could it be that Iraq truly represents a powerful new rogue interest that is capable of single-handedly jeopardizing the United States?

If it is the latter, is the United States really at jeopardy domestically? Did Iraq buy the Fort Detrick scientist who released all the Anthrax and so now this is Pentagon payback? Or is it US interests that are threatened -- diplomatic relations with OPEC states and the preservation of Israeli power?

Wouldn't it be wonderful if we lived in a democracy in which the state that was elected to serve its citizens provided them with real evidence for its diplomatic aims instead of hinting around the issue and dodging direct questions (when they're finally asked) by claiming "the need for state security?"

If we fire into Iraq on a Saddam death mission and ignite WWIII in the process, every official who signed off on this nonsense (without providing real argument and credible claims that peace options were not available) amounts to a war criminal. The following news is surreal -- it goes to show the state of the current world that this floats by as a typical item and nobody screams.

Remember kids, should the bomb drop near you: Duck and Cover!
The US Congress has been warned that President Bush’s proposed attack on Iraq could escalate into a nuclear conflict.

An assessment of Iraq’s capabilities says that the US is unlikely to knock out many, if any, of President Saddam Hussein’s mobile missile-launchers in a first wave of airstrikes. It raises the possibility of Baghdad hitting an Israeli city with a missile carrying biological agents, saying that Saddam is likely to use chemical and biological weapons.

Israel’s likely reaction would be nuclear ground bursts against every Iraqi city not already occupied by US-led coalition forces. Senators were told that, unlike the 1991 Gulf War, when Washington urged Israel not to retaliate against Iraqi missile strikes, Israeli leaders have decided that their credibility would be hurt if they failed to react this time.

The assessment was written by Anthony Cordesman, a former Pentagon and State Department official now with the Washington-based Centre for Strategic and International Studies. He was a witness before last week’s Senate Foreign Relations Committee, and chosen to open a national debate on the looming Iraqi conflict. He queried the ability of US forces to use pre-emptive airstrikes to cripple Iraq’s mobile launchers, which would be used for chemical or biological weapons. Donald Rumsfeld, the US Defence Secretary, has alluded to the problems of locating the launchers.

Referring to the Gulf War, Mr Cordesman said that, despite contrary claims, the US had not detected most Iraqi chemical, biological, radiological and nuclear weapons and missile capabilities. US and British forces also had “no meaningful success” in finding Scud missile sites, nor were the airstrikes of Operation Desert Fox in 1998, after the departure of UN weapons inspectors, successful.

“It’s likely, therefore, that Iraq could succeed in launching some CBRN strikes against US coalition forces, targets in neighbouring states, and / or Israel.”It could take days to characterise biological agents. “Even US forces would only be able to firmly characterise dissemination by observing the lethal effects,” he said.

* The United Nations secretary-general, Kofi Annan, rejected conditions set by Baghdad for new talks and told Iraq last night he was waiting for a “formal invitation” for UN weapons inspectors to return. Mr Annan said in a letter to Iraq’s foreign minister that new talks must focus on “practical arrangements” for the resumption of inspections.

By Roland Watson, London Times

Posted by Richard
8/09/2002 06:03:41 AM | PermaLink

Thursday, August 08, 2002

Judge Finds U.S. Government in Violation of Bush, Sr.'s Own Energy Policy Act

In response to a lawsuit by the Center for Biological Diversity, Bluewater Network, and the Sierra Club, a federal judge has ruled that nearly every cabinet level agency in the U.S. government has violated the Energy Policy Act of 1992 by failing to convert federal car fleets to alternative fuel vehicles.

The Energy Policy Act was signed into law after the Gulf War by George Bush Sr., who declared "My action today will place America upon a clear path toward a more prosperous, energy efficient, environmentally sensitive, and economically secure future." It was designed to divert 10% of American transportation fuel demand from petroleum by the year 2000, and 30% by the 2010. If fully implemented, the law would have vastly decreased U.S. reliance on fossil fuels, eliminated the excuse to develop new oil fields and pipelines in wildlife areas such as the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge, reduced air pollution, and weaned the nation from unstable foreign fossil fuel sources. Currently the U.S. buys more than a half-million barrels of oil a day from Iraq.

With over 600,000 vehicles in its fleet, the U.S. government is the largest car purchaser in the nation and thus has enormous influence over Detroit's design, production, sales and costs trends. If the U.S. were to convert most of its fleet to alternative fuels vehicles, national use of polluting fossil fuels would immediately decrease, and car manufacturers would start producing many more and much cheaper alternative fuel vehicles. For this reason, the Energy Policy Act required that 75% of all light-duty cars and trucks purchased by federal agencies in major metropolitan areas be alternative fuels vehicles rather than traditional petroleum-fueled cars and trucks.

Most agencies, however, have continued to purchase traditional gas guzzling vehicles. The Department of Commerce, for example, purchased only 17% alternative fuel vehicles in 2000, while the EPA purchased only 35% alternative fuel vehicles in 1998. The agencies found guilty of violating the Energy Policy Act include the Departments of Commerce, Defense, Interior, Transportation, Agriculture, Justice, Labor, State, Health and Human Services, Housing and Urban Development, Veterans Affairs, the General Services Administration, the Nuclear Regulatory Commission, the Environmental Protection Agency, and NASA.

Judge Alsup also found that many federal agencies failed to publish public reports on their compliance with the Energy Policy Act. He ordered the government to prepare overdue reports by 11-26-02, and to make these reports available to the public over the Internet by 1-31-03. In these compliance reports, federal agencies must not only admit prior failings to acquire alternative fuel vehicles, they must submit a specific plan, including dates, by which they will come into compliance with the law.

Finally, the Energy Policy Act required the Department of Energy to consider a regulation to extend the alternative fuels vehicle acquisition requirements to private and municipal fleets in major metropolitan areas. It failed to do this as well. Judge Alsup ordered both sides to submit further briefing on how long the court should give the Department of Energy to take action on the overdue regulation.

The case was filed on 1-22-02 by Jay Tutchton of Earthjustice (Denver).

Posted by Richard
8/08/2002 02:21:53 PM | PermaLink

Grizzlies, Eagles, and Alaskan Forests to go on Chopping Block?

A recent "preservation" plan for Alaska's Tongass National Forest will open up over 9 million acres to logging and mining development, threatening grizzlies and bald eagles.The Tongass wilderness houses salmon spawning grounds, prime grizzly bear habitat, and the world's densest population of bald eagles. Yet, over 30 pending large-scale timber sales threaten the region and its wildlife.

Please tell the Forest Service today that you want this area protected.
Deadline: August 17th!

Background: Because of the unique nature of the Tongass, a federal court required the Bush Administration to review all roadless areas for permanent protection. Unfortunately, a variety of sound environmental options were rejected. Instead, a proposal was put forward that heavily favors the commercial timber industry! The so-called permanent protection proposal recommends NO PROTECTION for roadless areas and offers no new wilderness designations.

The eco-friendly alternative, the Alaska Rainforest Conservation Proposal, Alternative 6, SAFEGUARDS VALUABLE OLD GROWTH STANDS and other pristine areas of the Tongass.

The Forest Service has asked for your opinion in a special public comment period. So please tell them today that you want this area protected. DEADLINE AUGUST 17th!

Help Now, it's free:

Posted by Richard
8/08/2002 11:13:05 AM | PermaLink

Oregon's Governor for Logging to Stop Fires: The Politics of Fire Continue But Where's the Science?

Consistent with what appears to be the Western Governor Association's policy concerning fires and natural resource management, it appears that Oregon's Gov. John Kitzhaber will be accepting of the proposal to log the hell out of the Eastern Cascades region in the name of preserving the "old growth" of the West. Kitzhaber, a labor Democrat who believes in Bushian economics and follows the WGA in all things environmental, has jumped into the public space with the typical statements about fuel load and unhealthy forests needing a trim.

People shouldn't forget that Oregon's big business is timber and that the Forestry industry is consistently the top donation maker to political candidates -- with elections just around the corner, go figure!

Not to complicate the matter unnecessarily, but while everyone is busy correlating the rise of powerful wildfires post-late '80s with the decline in logging, why doesn't the press try correlating the same data to (I don't know), say, global warming figures? How about adding the plot for drought over the Western US during the related period while we're at it? Oh, and just for good measure, how about adding in a plot for roadways built, upgraded, or maintained? I wonder what tale the statistics would tell...

Speaking of telling statistics, while the government is busy blaming "environmentalists" for the hokey idea that timber cutting may do more harm than good vis a vis wildfires and that it's not a "no brainer" that logging removes excess fuel load, here's a bi-partisan report provided to Congress in 2000 by a senior policy analyst for the Congressional Research Service.

The short of the findings?
1) An increase in the amount of tree harvesting has a very low correlation with the amount of decrease in wildfire,
2) Shockingly, they find, for the periods of 1980-1999 and 1987-1999, the correlation reveals THE OPPOSITE -- that wildfires DECREASE with a DECREASE in logging practices. Qualitatively, this is accounted for by noting that loggers take the good wood and leave the dead and dying timber (and all the useless brush) on the forest floor...exactly the fuel load problem in a nutshell,
3) and finally, it is noted that it is nearly impossible at this time to measure the quantitative benefit done to fire intensity by loggers due to their taking of wood that would otherwise be fuel. Timber harvesting, the report concludes MAY reduce fire intensity (but it MIGHT NOT) and it is impossible to say now definitively what the affect of harvesting is on the question of intensity.

So this recent bi-partisan governmental report declares that "managing the forests" to stop terrible wildfires is essentially baseless in terms of the data, and moreso, at least in part an unsound conclusion to the problem at hand.

Why do you get this information here and not from the professional reporters trained to cover this issue -- is it because I hate loggers or is it that I don't get paid to do this? I won't insult your intelligence by answering that question.

Posted by Richard
8/08/2002 06:26:13 AM | PermaLink

Wednesday, August 07, 2002

Sioux Nation Fighting Back Against the Feds!

Sacred Burial Grounds Disturbed; Zeolite Wanted for Plutonium Disposal
Indians Appeal for Observers, Nonviolence Trainers and Night-Vision Gear
Mass Civil Disobedience Set to Begin Aug. 12 on Indian Land in South Dakota

I have just returned from Oglala Lakota Nation in the Badlands of South Dakota where a shocking drama has begun to unfold. While the White House is pushing hard to launch high-level nuclear waste disposal operations in Nevada, federal agents are running roughshod over human rights in Pine Ridge Reservation, S.D., astride deposits of zeolite. If legal efforts to block the invasions fail, AIM leaders and many members of the 25,000-strong tribe plan to use their bodies to stop the bulldozers as early as Aug. 12.

The Lakota people, also known as Sioux, are appealing to other Indian tribes, all Americans of conscience and the nations of the world to come to their aid. Right now they need:

*Qualified volunteers to conduct nonviolence training for protesters.
*Independent observers ready to be witnesses in case of confrontation.
*Infrared cameras and goggles for night-vision.
*Four big mud tires for serious S.U.V. off-roading.

By day, federal police treat the Oglala Lakota people so abusively that their reservation has become known as Mississippi of the North, reminiscent of 1960s civil rights struggles. Police insult Indians, write bogus tickets, tear down meeting signs, etc. By night, helicopters, their lights turned off, whirl into American Indian airspace and touch down amid sacred sites near the historic Stronghold. The feds take ancient fossils, use heavy earth-moving equipment close to sites of human remains, and set off small explosions. The excavations under cover of darkness appear to rely on high-tech night-vision equipment.

Pine Ridge Reservation is a potential source of zeolite, a mineral that government officials would like to see mined for use in plutonium waste repositories. Work has begun to improve the dirt road into the area, reportedly with 16-inch-deep pavement, which would support heavy trucks. Plans are said to be drawn to build a railroad line to reach the remote area. Indians are concerned that zeolite mining would release erionite, a known human carcinogen, into the environment.

Many sites of human remains exist in the area on and near the big Stronghold plateau, where survivors of the December 29, 1890 Wounded Knee massacre went. There, most of those who escaped the Wounded Knee atrocity were subsequently hunted down, murdered by white militia, and left in winter graves. More than a century later, just in recent months, long-term erosion, natural to the geology of the area, has begun to uncover many shallow graves. Coincidentally, in recent months, federal agents have been entering the area without permission and tampering with Indian property. Some of the Lakota people believe the surfacing of the old human remains is a sign that it is time to take a stand.

Current federal activities in the area violate the 1868 Treaty of Laramie, and a 1976 memorandum of understanding between the National Park Service and the Oglala Lakota Nation. Department of Interior officials have refused to consult with Lakota leaders regarding federal plans for the Indians' land. The Tribal president has demanded that the National Park Service replace its area superintendent, whom the Indians have found so autocratic that they refuse to meet with her.

Lawyers for Oglala Lakota Nation, while asking the Department of Justice to persuade the Department of Interior to back off, got ready to go to federal court for an emergency injunction. If these efforts fail, the tribal leaders and many other Indians are expected to join hands in a great circle around sacred areas where the National Park Service plans to step up daytime excavation activity in the open on Aug. 12.

They are appealing for help to ensure that peace and justice will prevail. Please respond. Please post and forward this appeal to all potential allies. My office can help you find low-cost air fares to Rapid City, S.D., plan logistics for ground transportation or helicopter service if desired, and get in contact with Oglala Lakota leaders.

By Tony Bothwell, Chairperson
American Indian Affairs Committee
National Lawyers Guild

Posted by Richard
8/07/2002 04:17:38 PM | PermaLink

Global Warming

Strong posting by David Appell over at Quark Soup, as he takes on the National Review and updates about recent climate data.

Turns out it's not just hot in Los Angeles this summer, where the walls would sweat but its bone dry.

Posted by Richard
8/07/2002 10:07:30 AM | PermaLink

Tuesday, August 06, 2002

New York Avant-garde Interest in the Greens

This yesterday from the avant-garde artist/musician Stevie Craig looking for information on the Green political platform:
all i listen to these days is the spanish-language socialist music of cuban troubador, silvio rodriguez. i don't speak spanish, but the love of integrity and the higher ideals of humanity come through in his voice and delivery, and i find this music communicates to many of my other non-spanish-speaking friends who also have no taste for the false pleasures of corporate manufactured and manipulated desires and who believe that human beings can communicate their way to peace (or more correctly, open co-existance) if the soul of the people is bred toward sharing and discipline rather than greed and over-abundance.

i have felt there was no "people party" at all, really, in the u.s. and often contemplate the last line of the declaration of independence that allows the u.s. people to overthrow its own government if the people decide that the government is not representing the ideals of america...which, of course, it is not (understatement, yes, yes), and the citizenry have forgotten (and forgotten to care) about those ideals, those which back their ideals about spending. but romantically, for myself, i think of this daring reminder to the people set forth by our fine ancestors...that it is never too late to make a major change...and, you know, relieve our current "government" of its "responsibilities" and start anew...

where can i find a coherent outlining of the principles of the green party, among the many various resources one can turn to, that you think best approaches their ideologies in an all-encompassing social framework? i am very curious about the ways, especially, that all that tax money we now waste (or allow to be used in counter-productive ways) could be spent in a totally transformative (and i am thinking now world-wide basis, especially our friends in the third world) unifying way, while preserving the individual integrity and cultural identity of all our sister countries. i have, perhaps errantly, seen the green party as a well-meaning but ultimately provincial affair. i see it may, after all, have a more hardline, practical world-visioned perspective that would interest me to get behind. in other words, while i care about the earth and natural preservation, i have more faith in mother nature's ability to rebound than i do the battered people living in the wake of u.s. imperialism. so with that in mind...

any suggestions??? stevie craig.
My response to him below in the comments...

Posted by Richard
8/06/2002 09:22:28 AM | PermaLink

From Rio to Johannesburg: The Globalization Decade

The world's governments, facing a deteriorating planet, are making a last ditch effort to save the Earth. The industrialized countries of the North and the developing countries of the South are scrambling to reach a global deal that will combine environmental protection and poverty alleviation. But a group of global corporations are claiming that they have the answers to the planet's environment and development woes and suggest redefining "sustainable development" to focus on "profit, planet and people." George Bush, President of the United States, sides with the corporate approach. Is the year 1992 or 2002? Take your pick. [Read more]

Posted by Richard
8/06/2002 06:40:41 AM | PermaLink

Sounding the Depths

I just read an article out of Toronto that wondered openly if the Navy didn't have a hand in the record-breaking triple beaching of whales in Cape Cod this past week. It notes that the new Navy sonar is suppossed to be only in the Pacific -- but, then again, who knows? The whole point of having a submarine class warship is because it defies tracking correct?

Even if the new sonar of the Navy is completely unrelated to this event -- and the facts are that barring the declassification of records years from now that tells us where and when the tests occurred, we'll never know -- it doesn't mean that other Navy sonar wasn't to blame...something journalists seem to forget in their excitement about the next new thing. No, there are plenty of sonars openly used on the market (both US and foreign) that are quite capable of affecting marine life and driving acoustically sensitive species crazy.

Sounding the Depths - Supertankers, Sonar, and the Rise of Undersea Noise

This is a very informative article, well referenced, at the NRDC that not only documents the very real problem of noise pollution that we create in our waters, but gives evidence for why the recent suspension of the law for the Navy's new 215 decibal sonar device (with the caveat that if they SEE any whales, etc., in the area that they'll "do their best to turn it off") is not only mean-spirited but unconcerned with the facts.

Previous Naval Sonar Testings:

Table 3-1. U.S. Naval Exercises Using Low-Frequency Active Sonar
1) Magellan II -- Aug. 1994 -- Complied with the law? No.
2) LFA-13 -- Summer 1995 -- Complied with the law? No.
3) LFA-14 Northern -- Sept. 26, 1995 to Oct. 9, 1995 -- Complied with the law? No.
4) LFA-14 Southern -- Sept. 26, 1995 to Oct. 9, 1995 -- Complied with the law? No.
5) MARCOT 2-95 -- Fall 1995 -- Complied with the law? No.
6) LFA-15 -- Feb. 1996 to Mar. 1996 -- Complied with the law? No.
7) LFA-16 (RIMPAC-96) -- May 1996 to June 1996 -- Complied with the law? No.
8) CNO Project K154-4 -- Aug. 12, 1997 to Aug. 31, 1997 -- Complied with the law? No.

Finally, for anyone interested in doing more research on the issue of marine life and/or naval sonar, I highly recommend spending a few hours plowing around here.

Posted by Richard
8/06/2002 06:22:22 AM | PermaLink

Monday, August 05, 2002

Carbon Nation: A Wake-up Call for Automakers

It may be common knowledge that the United States is the world's largest greenhouse gas polluter - sending a quarter of the world's carbon dioxide (CO2) out into the atmosphere, where it and other greenhouse gases form a heat-trapping blanket around the earth. But did you know that American cars and light trucks alone emit more carbon dioxide than almost every other nation on earth?

To grasp the enormity of the problem, consider this: Chrysler's Jeep Grand Cherokee, weighing just under two tons, emits over three times its body weight in CO2 per year. Now imagine all the millions of cars on the road today, and you start to get the picture. Clearly, controlling CO2 emissions from cars and light trucks by improving their fuel efficiency would be one of the most important steps we can take to curb global warming, as well as reducing our country's dependence on oil imports.

A new report from Environmental Defense called Automakers' Corporate Carbon Burdens introduces the notion of a corporate carbon burden - how much carbon a car maker's fleet will pollute over the course of its life. Says co-author and car expert John DeCicco, "we cannot affix blame on SUVs alone or expect hybrid cars alone to solve the problem, but rather, we need to lift all ships, so to speak - all cars, trucks, SUVs, minivans, pickups - to higher efficiency levels. That would lower CO2 emissions and reduce the carbon burden in a significant way."

Find out more:
• Read an interview with John DeCicco
• Read the article "Sinful Emissions"
• Executive Summary and Report
• Get the facts on carbon emissions
• Read more on Cars and the Environment

From: Environmental Defense

Posted by Richard
8/05/2002 09:00:42 AM | PermaLink

Logging the National Wilderness

Nice August 2nd post on South Dakota wildfire bill and related info from Samuel Day Fassbinder at Ecosocialism.

Here's the (edited) language from the bill just passed by Congress that strikes down existing environmental accords and issues (as far as I can tell) unconstitutional rights (?) to various administration Secretaries to engage in the business of national infrastructure under the rhetoric of "resource management" :
Sec. 706. (a) Findings. Congress finds that--

(1) forest health conditions within the Beaver Park Area and the Norbeck Wildlife Preserve within the Black Hills National Forest are deteriorating and immediate action to treat these areas is in the public interest;

(2) the existing settlement agreement in Biodiversity Associates v. Laverty, Civil Action No. 99-N-2173, filed in the United States District Court for the District of Colorado on September 12, 2000, (referred to in this Act as the "Settlement") prevents timely action to reduce the risk of wildfire in the Beaver Park Roadless Area;

(3) pending litigation (Sierra Club v. U.S. Forest Service, Civ. No. 94-D-2273 (D. Colorado)) prevents timely action to reduce the risk of wildfire in the Norbeck Wildlife Preserve;

(4) existing administrative and legal processes cannot address the fire danger in time to enable the Secretary of Agriculture to take action to reduce the danger;

(5) immediate action to address the fire danger in an environmentally responsive manner is supported by the State, local counties, local industry users, and some environmental groups;

......[concluding that].....

(j) Process. Due to the extraordinary circumstances present here, actions authorized by this section shall proceed immediately and to completion notwithstanding any other provision of law including, but not limited to, NEPA and the National Forest Management Act (16 U.S.C. 1601 et seq.). Such actions shall also not be subject to the notice, comment, and appeal requirements of the Appeals Reform Act, (16 U.S.C. 1612 (note), Pub. Law No. 102-381 sec. 322). Any action authorized by this section shall not be subject to judicial review by any court of the United States. Except as provided by this section the Settlement remains in full force and effect.
While I have particularly criticized Daschle and Feinstein here (for being Democrats that seem especially eager to cater to logging interests), it should be noted that this legislation had only 7 Nays in the Senate. Of course, a large reason for this was because these forest policy amendments and proposals were (as is typically the case) included as a small piece within much larger legislation, much of it having to do with assigning expenditures to the military for post-9/11 terror strategies.

This habit of Congress, writing complex legislation that allows various Senators and Reps. to piggyback self-serving or otherwise unpopular proposals on important Bills should be found "...not in the interest of the People" and disbanded as administrative practice. In terms of its real affect upon democracy as lived in America (and this is just an unsubstantiated guess for now), I would bet that it has as much negative impact as all the soft money donations combined.

Posted by Richard
8/05/2002 03:24:38 AM | PermaLink

Many South Koreans Eat Dog Meat to Fight Summer Heat

Despite the controversy and protests by animal rights lovers, the South Koreans have continued to enjoy their meals of dog meat.

Special dishes are created for both winter and summer.

With the relentless summer heat now on in Seoul, many are indulging in dog meat which they believe helps improve their strength. Cho Bok is the start of summer in South Korea and with temperatures rising above 30 degrees, South Koreans believe this is the time to re-energize their stamina.

And there are many different ways people here celebrate the first day of the hot season.

To cool off some take ice-cream and cold drinks but Cho Bok is also the day many consume foods said to be good for the body

One of the most popular choices - dog meat - a traditional dish widely believed to improve strength

One South Korean said: "I sweat a lot, but when I eat this, I think it helps. And because today is Cho Bok, I decided to come here with my colleagues."

Dog meat is served in stews, or steamed.

The dogs are raised on farms specially for consumption.

It is a taste that has proven highly controversial, attracting the anger of Western animal rights activists.

But not all South Koreans see dogs just as a form of nourishment.

These people have gathered in a cafe to show that there are also dog-lovers in the country.

One pet lover said: "Many foreigners who come here think Koreans are all dog-eaters. There are some but there're also lots of dog lovers."

And among them some said they would not hesitate to consume dog meat, as long as it is not someone's pet.

Dog meat is a dish that has been eaten by South Koreans for a long time.

They say that every culture is different and if South Koreans believe it is good for the body why not take it.

From : Channel NewsAsia

Posted by Richard
8/05/2002 03:19:09 AM | PermaLink

Sunday, August 04, 2002

All Quiet on the Southern Front: Where's the Press for the Johannesberg Summit?

Is it just me or has there been a deafening silence on the upcoming World Summit II, in South Africa at the end of August, for the last month?

Throughout the spring and early summer, as a variety of pre-conferences were held in anticipation of the big event, it seemed that there was almost daily press surrounding the present state of the world and what needed to be done about it. A large amount of the journalism also contained a good deal of criticism of event, documenting everything from the large-scale bureaucracy involved, to the environmental effects that the summit itself would have on the region, to the strong rhetoric that it was expected to use but with little actual follow-through.

In recent weeks, however, after the final pre-summit meeting in Indonesia (which was largely condemned as a charade and policy failure, though statespersons did hail it as effectively delivering the vision necessary for a successful meeting come Africa), there has been virtually nothing coming in over the wires.

Pres. George Bush has gone on a month-long vacation to play golf with papa in Maine and it appears that he will be importantly missing-in-action for Earth Summit II. Over 140 world leaders will be on hand there, but the U.S. -- a nation whose present policies amount to both de facto and de jure environmental terrorism -- will likely send a more minor official in a diplomatic game of "Don't shoot the messenger!"

Yet, while this story is certainly deserving of coverage, it has gotten little. Still, beyond this, one has difficulty finding almost anything concerning the huge event that PR ministers were previously hailing as nothing less than "Save the Earth II."

The United States, no doubt, is hoping against all hope that this world summit will arrive and disappear without leaving nary a trace, for just about any news it generates will tend to discredit the Bush administration.

So far, with less then a month to go until Johannesberg and the media anticipation for the same registering somewhere just above comatose, the press that has been rightfully battering Bush / Cheney lately may just be throwing them "a gimme" on the issue of Ecology.

Posted by Richard
8/04/2002 01:49:27 PM | PermaLink

An Optimistic Piece About "Managing" the Northwest Forests

Forest squabble may ease with bill

Washington, D.C. — The top Democrat and Republican on a Senate forestry panel want to end the interminable fights over the Northwest's old-growth trees.

After months of discussion, Sens. Ron Wyden, D-Ore., and Larry Craig, R-Idaho, are preparing a bill to permanently protect stands older than 120 years, while allowing the timber industry more access to federal timber west of the Cascades.

The proposal also creates a system to expedite tree-thinning and other projects east of the Cascades, where fires are ravaging federal, state and private lands.

"Senator Wyden's belief is that we should protect old growth and actively manage our forests where appropriate for the health of the resource," Wyden's chief of staff, Josh Kardon, said yesterday. "Neither of these two things are happening today."

Wyden is chairman of the forests subcommittee of the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee. Craig, the ranking Republican, could not be reached for comment. After gathering public input, Wyden hopes to introduce a bill in September.

Their proposal stems from a general dissatisfaction with the Northwest Forest Plan, a deal crafted during the Clinton administration to protect trees and wildlife while allowing some timber harvests. The Bush administration is considering ways to revise the plan.

Many say the plan protecting 24 million acres west of the Cascades is at an impasse. It has yet to meet its commitments to the timber industry, and environmentalists worry old-growth trees and wildlife are still in jeopardy.

Environmentalist have filed at least a dozen lawsuits blocking federal land-management activities.

The senators' proposal calls for the Justice Department to work with the industry and environmentalists to settle the suits, according to an outline circulated by Wyden's office.

As the suits are resolved, the Forest Service and Bureau of Land Management would identify tree stands older than 120 years for protection as old growth. The bill would direct the agencies to manage the forests with no net loss of these ancient trees.

Mark Rey, the Agriculture Department undersecretary in charge of the Forest Service, said the agency could have trouble implementing parts of the plan. He's also concerned about definitions, such as the age of old growth.

But "there are some interesting ideas," Rey said.

Though the Northwest Forest Plan didn't address the east side of the Cascades, the Wyden-Craig proposal calls for expedited review of certain forest-health projects there, such as removing wildfire fuels.

The proposal would limit appeals on fast-tracked projects and send eligible appeals on disputed projects straight to court, rather than allowing the government an internal review first. In court, the Forest Service would receive more deference than its opponents.

The eastside proposal may attract significant attention because of the fires raging there, particularly in Oregon.

But James Johnston, executive director of the Cascadia Wildlands Project, said the proposal could undercut environmentalists' ability to hold agencies accountable in court. The Cascadia organization advocates conservation of old-growth forests.

"We don't want to protect westside old growth at the expense of eastside forests. We definitely have some serious concerns," Johnston said.

More broadly, he said, the bill ignores some ecologically important mature forests, which are 80 years and older. Even so, he remains cautiously optimistic.

The timber industry is also looking for certainty. Chris West, vice president of the American Forest Resource Council in Portland, considers the draft a good starting point.

"The issue has been how many acres are we going to manage to produce wood products," he said. "We can have a meaningful debate about that."

By Katherine Pfleger, Seattle Times

Posted by Richard
8/04/2002 01:20:16 PM | PermaLink