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Saturday, October 26, 2002

Senate Panel Challenges Bush Regulatory Actions

Washington, DC - The Bush administration has exhibited "a pre-determined hostility" toward environmental regulations passed by the Clinton administration, argues a report by Democratic members of the Senate Governmental Affairs Committee. The report, released Wednesday, charges the administration with making choices of "questionable legality" in suspending hundreds of regulations on the day of the new president's inauguration.

On Inauguration Day 2001, White House chief of staff Andrew Card ordered a freeze of all federal regulations which had not yet taken effect, opening new reviews of hundreds of previously finalized rules.

Though many the suspended regulations had been subject to scientific study and public comment for years or even decades, the new reviews ordered by the Bush administration in most cases did not include an opportunity for public participation and comment, but merely involved an inspection by Bush political appointees.

The report by the Governmental Affairs Committee's majority staff argues that by discounting regulatory procedures and the value of public participation, the administration set an antagonistic tone for its approach to environmental and health regulations. By excluding public input from the reviews, the administration may even have violated federal law, the report says.

"It was wrong for the administration to second guess these final rules," said Senator Joseph Lieberman, the Connecticut Democrat who now chairs the Governmental Affairs Committee. "It was wrong to discount a well established scientific record. And it was wrong for the administration to use stealth tactics to achieve its ideologically driven ends."

The report, titled "Rewriting the Rules," focuses on three environmental regulations that did not survive the Bush administration's inspection. Those rules were the Department of Agriculture's rule prohibiting most road construction and logging in roadless areas of national forests, the Department of the Interior's rule regulating hard rock mining on public lands, and the Environmental Protection Agency's rule capping the permissible level of arsenic in drinking water.

Each rule was "subjected to the new administration's second guessing," the report said. In the first two cases, the administration eventually weakened or undermined the rules.

In the case of the arsenic rule, the Bush administration ultimately adopted the same rule that the Clinton administration had passed after years of scientific study, but only after months of additional, costly studies.

The partisan study argues that the Bush administration's decision to revisit the three rules was based on a "pre-determined hostility to the regulations rather than a documented close analysis of the rules or the agencies' basis for issuing them."

For example, the report charges that the administration's decision to propose suspension of the hard rock mining rule "was not based on documented substantive analysis," and notes that the ultimate decision to rescind parts of the rule allows mining to continue to pose environmental and human health risks.

The administration's future intentions for each of these rules is unclear but the report cautions that "any further actions must be in full compliance with the spirit and the letter of the law and must not further erode environmental protections or rule making procedures."

Senator Lieberman said the Bush administration's refusal to defend the Agriculture Department's rule protecting roadless areas in national forests against a court challenge has persuaded him to support a bill that would prohibit road construction in certain areas. The National Forests Roadless Area Conservation Act of 2002 was sponsored by Senator Maria Cantwell, a Washington Democrat.

"Protecting these areas is critical to preserving important watersheds, vegetation and wildlife," Lieberman said.

Lieberman ordered the inquiry into the Bush administration's suspension of pending regulations in March 2001. The senator said Wednesday that the report was delayed by the September 11 terrorist attacks, and was not ready for release until this week.

In response to questions from reporters, White House Office of Management and Budget spokesperson Trent Duffy said the timing of the report appeared politically motivated.

"It's disappointing, but it's not surprising it's happening a few days before the election," Duffy told AP and Reuters. "We've opened up the regulatory process to the public like never before."

But the committee's majority report argues that it is precisely the behind the scenes nature of the Bush administration's regulatory review that is disturbing, as it in some cases replaced years of public comment and scrutiny, and on the record agency justifications, with mere months of politicized scrutiny.

The full report is available at:

By Cat Lazaroff

Posted by Richard
10/26/2002 01:20:49 PM | PermaLink

Friday, October 25, 2002

Majority Continues to Believe in Global Warming and Support Kyoto Treaty, According to Harris Poll

How about this as a compromise: Bush gets Iraq and one other sovereign nation of his choice in return for the immediate signing of the Kyoto treaty and the shredding of the Healthy Forests act towards a return to Clinton policies regarding the Interior.
If this were a typical election year, the environment might well be a significant issue in this fall's elections. A large majority of the public believes that global warming is a real threat. Most of the people who have seen, heard or read of the Kyoto and Bonn agreements to limit the emissions of carbon dioxide and greenhouse gases approve of them. And a clear 54% to 30% majority of respondents thinks that the government is wrong not to accept the international agreements. However, with the focus on Iraq and the war on terrorism, this is a very atypical election year. In our annual question about the importance of different issues, very few people mention the environment.

These are the results of The Harris Poll(R) a nationwide telephone survey conducted by Harris Interactive (from September 19 - 23, 2002 with a sample of 1,011 adults.

The main findings of this survey include:

* Most people (85%) say they have seen, heard or read about the theory of global warming.

* The great majority (74%) of those who have seen, heard or read about global warming say that they believe in the theory that increased carbon dioxide and other gases will lead to global warming and an increase in average temperatures.

* Of those who have seen, heard or read about global warming, approximately half (52%) say they have seen, heard or read about recent international agreements in Kyoto and Bonn to limit emissions of greenhouse gases. However, this represents a decline from previous year, when 58% said they had heard of these agreements.

* Of the people who have heard about the Kyoto or Bonn agreements, a large majority (73% to 20%) approves of them.

* Of those who have heard of the Kyoto and Bonn agreements, a 54% to 30% majority now thinks that the U.S. government was wrong not to accept these agreements. This is an increase in public criticism of the government. Last year showed a much narrower (46% to 42%) plurality thinking the government position was wrong.

* Feelings about the U.S. government position on global warming vary substantially by party, with 70% of Democrats and 56% of Independents thinking that the U.S. government position is wrong, while a 49% to 37% plurality of Republicans thinks the U.S. government position is right.

However, it should be noted that half of the Republicans who answered this question did not think that the government position was right.

One other important point is worth making: Only 44% of all adults (52% of 85%) remember having heard about the Kyoto or Bonn agreements to limit greenhouse gas emissions. While most of these people are critical of the government's failure to support them, they are a minority.
The Harris Poll(R) was conducted by telephone within the United States between September 19 and 23, 2002, among a nationwide cross section of 1,011 adults (18+). Figures for age, sex, race, education, number of adults and number of voice/telephone lines in the household were weighted where necessary to align them with their actual proportions in the population.

In theory, with a probability sample of this size, one can say with 95 percent certainty that the results have a statistical precision of plus or minus 3 percentage points of what they would be if the entire adult population had been polled with complete accuracy. Unfortunately, there are several other possible sources of error in all polls or surveys that are probably more serious than theoretical calculations of sampling error. They include refusals to be interviewed (non-response), question wording and question order, interviewer bias, weighting by demographic control data and screening (e.g., for likely voters). It is impossible to quantify the errors that may result from these factors.

These statements conform to the principles of disclosure of the National Council on Public Polls.

SOURCE Harris Interactive at

Posted by Richard
10/25/2002 07:58:16 AM | PermaLink

One in Three Primates Faces Extinction

A new report paints a bleak picture for the world's primates. One-third of primate species which include monkeys, apes, and lemurs now see extinction looming. The analysis was published by Conservation International and the primate group of IUCN, the World Conservation Union.

Since 1995, the number of endangered primates has risen from 120 to nearly 200. Asian inhabitants are the hardest hit, the report says. Russell Mittermeier, president of Conservation International, cites increased human pressures such as deforestation and hunting in Southeast Asia as the main cause of primate demise.

Humanity's closest relatives, primates are key ecosystem players who help to spread seeds across habitats by leaving their leftover meals to sprout. But not all the news was bad. According to the report, the outlook for some species in areas such as Madagascar and Brazil have improved.

Posted by Richard
10/25/2002 07:33:52 AM | PermaLink

Thursday, October 24, 2002

Group Seeks Records Used in New Forest Regulations

Two important points here: 1) How long will it take for the Bush administration to comply, and how will they do so? 2) "Specifically, the suit seeks information on meetings between timber industry lobbyists and Mark Rey, the Agriculture undersecretary who oversees the Forest Service. Rey is a former timber industry lobbyist."
Washington D.C. -- A conservation group filed a federal lawsuit Wednesday seeking to force the Bush administration to release records of meetings and other information used to develop new national forest regulations.

Defenders of Wildlife said in court papers that draft regulations issued by the administration mirror specific recommendations made by the American Forest and Paper Association and other industry groups.

Just as officials are withholding documents on an energy task force led by Vice President Cheney, "the Bush administration is stonewalling our request for information on why they suspended and began rewriting the rules for managing national forests," said Rodger Schlickeisen, president of the wildlife group.

A draft of proposed changes to the National Forest Management Plan leaked to the wildlife group "confirms our worst fears: that (administration officials) are listening only to their timber industry supporters," Schlickeisen said.

The proposals would eliminate some required protections for wildlife, weaken scientific oversight, and exempt forest plans from the National Environmental Policy Act the baseline law governing environmental regulation, the wildlife group said.

The lawsuit, filed in U.S. District Court in Washington, seeks to compel the U.S. Department of Agriculture and the Forest Service to turn over records related to the new regulations, which were developed over the past year. Specifically, the suit seeks information on meetings between timber industry lobbyists and Mark Rey, the Agriculture undersecretary who oversees the Forest Service. Rey is a former timber industry lobbyist.

Heidi Valetkevitch, a spokeswoman for the Forest Service, declined to comment Wednesday. The administration has two months to respond to the lawsuit.

Posted by Richard
10/24/2002 08:34:08 AM | PermaLink

U.S. Bird Species Declining, says Audubon Society

New York More than one in four U.S. bird species is declining in numbers or at risk of disappearing, according to a new report from the National Audubon Society.

The bird conservation group estimates that 201 species in the continental United States, Hawaii, and Alaska are menaced by habitat destruction, pollution, diseases, and other threats.

Among the most imperiled is the short-eared owl, which has seen a nearly 70 percent population decline since the 1960s because of grassland destruction and the ingestion of poisoned mice and rats, Audubon spokesman John Bianchi said when the report was released. There are perhaps 100,000 short-eared owls left in the United States, he said.

The cerulean warbler, a deep blue bird once found throughout the Ohio and Mississippi river valleys, has suffered a more than 70 percent decline, and it's unknown how many are left, Bianchi said.

The birds' conditions, worrisome on their own, should be taken as a broader indication of the health of the country's ecosystem, despite successes such as the recoveries of the bald eagle and peregrine falcon, the group said.

"Birds warn us about disease, and birds warn us about the quality of our coasts and our oceans and our forests," Audubon science director Frank Gill said at a Manhattan news conference releasing the group's "Watchlist 2002."

The 600,000-member National Audubon Society was founded in 1905 to protect birds and their habitats.

Audubon officials urged people to cut back on pesticides and other poisons and to use more native plants in their yards, providing more food and shelter for birds.

"We can't take the birds that we know so well for granted," Gill said.

The Audubon Society assessed the more than 800 types of birds ordinarily found in the United States. The Audubon endangered list contains about twice as many species as the federal list of threatened and endangered species.

Jeff Wells, the society's bird conservation director, said that political disputes among environmentalists, federal regulators, and other interest groups kept many worthy species off the U.S. list.

A U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service spokeswoman had no immediate comment.

By Michael Weissenstein, Associated Press

Posted by Richard
10/24/2002 08:27:31 AM | PermaLink

Help Stop Naval Sonar From Killing Whales and Destroying the Oceans

As a rule, I do not broadcast pleas for help and calls for money. There are exceptions, however, and I think this new campaign by the NRDC is one of them as you'll read below. Distressingly, very few large NGOs appear to be willing to stand up to the Bush administration, it's love affair with militarizing the planet, and the US Navy's sonar practices. But the NRDC jumped in early and often and has been a real campaigner in getting the word out as to what this new experimental technology really means in terms of damage to the most fundamental ecosystem the planet has -- the great oceans. This is an important battle and I urge communities of interest to consider making even a small donation to the NRDC on behalf of waging this legal stop to what amounts to a terrible and murderous idea.
I am contacting you via email because NRDC is facing an imminent legal and financial deadline in a case of extraordinary importance.

Just days from now, NRDC attorneys will appear in U.S. Federal Court and seek to stop the U.S. Navy from operating a new and extremely dangerous sonar system that would blast hundreds of thousands of square miles of ocean habitat with noise so intense it can maim, deafen or even kill whales at close range.

NRDC is racing to court because the Bush administration has just given its approval for the Navy to begin deploying this Low Frequency Active (LFA) sonar system across 75 percent of the world's oceans. Even worse, the Navy intends to begin operations of this frightening new technology as early as November 1st!

We need your immediate help. Please go to right now to make an online emergency contribution that will help us fight this critical legal battle.

Marine scientists are warning that this sonar system may threaten the very survival of entire populations of whales, some already teetering on the brink of extinction.

As opposed to traditional "passive" sonar, which locates submarines by listening for sound in the water, the new "active" sonar uses underwater loudspeakers to blast the ocean with an effective noise level of 235 decibels and then waits for a response. At close range, the shock waves are so intense they can destroy whales' eardrums, cause their lungs to hemorrhage, and even kill. Further from the source, LFA noise still can result in permanent hearing loss in marine mammals after a single transmission, and cause whales to swerve from their migration paths.

The dangers are hardly theoretical. Two years ago, the mere testing of high-intensity Navy sonar in mid-frequency range caused a mass stranding of whales in the Bahamas. Whales from at least three different species died, their inner ears bleeding from the explosive power of the sonar signal.

Does the Navy have the right to conduct a giant uncontrolled experiment on our oceans and every living creature in them?

The Bush administration seems to think so. It has issued a permit that exempts the Navy from having to obey the Marine Mammal Protection Act, in effect giving the military a blank check to harass and injure whales and dolphins at will.

We think that's unconscionable and illegal. But we must have your immediate help if we are to prevail in court. We urgently need to raise significant new funds in order to cover litigation expenses and stop the imminent deployment of deadly, noise-producing sonar.

Again, I urge you to help by going to right now and making an online emergency contribution.

Please join us in stopping the U.S. Navy before it unleashes this technological menace on the world's oceans. With your help, we can make sure that no more whales have to suffer and die from high-power sonar. Thank you.


John H. Adams
Natural Resources Defense Council

Posted by Richard
10/24/2002 08:24:00 AM | PermaLink

Wednesday, October 23, 2002

What Happened to Kyoto?

PricewaterhouseCoopers and the French business newsletter, Enerpresse, have published the first transatlantic benchmark of CO2 emissions - based on identical criteria - of the 10 largest European and U.S. power generators. Some of the results are:

a) While the U.S. industry produces only 50 % more electricity, it emits 300% more CO2 than its European counterpart.

b) The 10 largest European producers generate 35 % more power than the ten largest U.S. companies while emitting 35% less C02 than these U.S. companies.

c) The average U.S. producer's Carbon Factor is 720 kg CO2/MWh, more than twice the average Carbon Factor for European producers.

You can download the full study at:

Posted by Richard
10/23/2002 09:40:34 AM | PermaLink

Why Did Ford Sink the Th!nk?

A few weeks ago in San Francisco, a group of protesters gathered at an automobile dealership, colorful costumes, well-rehearsed chants, and protest signs aloft. But this group wasn't griping about gas-guzzling SUVs crowding the roads or the car companies resisting tougher emissions rules. No, this demonstration was something altogether different. Arriving at the gathering in a fleet of zero-emission Electric Vehicles (EVs), the protesters -- calling themselves "ReTh!nk" -- were taking the Ford Motor Company to task for abandoning its Th!nk line of EVs, the latest development in a recent trend of automakers scrapping their EV programs. The car companies, including Ford, claim there just isn't enough of a market to support battery-charged electric motor vehicles, but to groups of EV aficionados that argument doesn't hold water. They accuse the car companies of deliberately under-selling EVs to create the artificial impression that they cannot meet new auto emissions standards in California, standards that they're currently challenging in court.
by Derek Reiber
Read more at:

Posted by Richard
10/23/2002 09:37:23 AM | PermaLink

On Being Vegan and Arthritic

This is a very informative piece this month in the Vegetarian Resource Group's monthly newsletter:
Q: I am a vegetarian and have joint pain. Are things like glucosamine and chondroitin considered okay?

A: Glucosamine is extracted from the shells of crabs and other crustaceans and chondroitin is made from cow trachea or shark cartilage (Center for Science in the Public Interest's Nutrition Action Healthletter, October 2000).

There was an article in the Autumn 1998 issue of Vegetarian Dietetics on "Vegetarian Diets in the Treatment of Rheumatoid Arthritis" that might be of interest to you. It is accessible online at

Q: I was recently referred to another physician by my doctor. He said he had several vegan patients who had joint problems (something I am trying to overcome myself). He told me that vegan foods lacked an amino acid needed to produce collagen. I asked him if he meant one of the 8 essential amino acids and he said no. He went on to add that I could get this amino acid by eating plankton (not any old seaweed), something that should be in any big health food store. Well, I live near several very well stocked health food stores & co-ops and nobody ever heard of selling plankton. Have you heard of this?

A: The only thing that I can think of are two supplements that are reported to ease arthritis pain - glucosamine and chondroitin (derived from crabs and crustaceans and cow trachea and shark cartilage, respectively. See question above.). While they can be found in some foods, they are usually taken as supplements. Neither of these are amino acids, but they are non-vegan products recommended for arthritis treatment. Another possibility are omega-3 fatty acids. These are fats, not amino acids, but increased consumption has been linked to a reduction in symptoms of arthritis. One common omega-3 fatty acid is DHA (docosahexaenoic acid).

As an aside, I've read a few studies that found a vegan diet relieved some arthritis symptoms. This seems to contradict the idea that something is lacking in a vegan diet and leads to joint pain.

Reed Mangels, PhD, RD

Posted by Richard
10/23/2002 09:33:21 AM | PermaLink

Angered by Pollution, Villagers Damage a Factory in Vietnam

One might wonder about the importance of such a story -- but readers should realize how difficult it often is for public protests to receive world media attention...on some level, the very fact that a story like this makes it to the world media stage justifies its very stature. This is not only another example of the rising tide of mass public protest against the environmental oppressions of unsympathetic governments, but it also documents what the article says is a new democratic political force in imposed not from abroad, but emerging from below.
Hanoi, Vietnam Nearly 1,000 Vietnamese villagers stormed a factory, destroying machines and looting equipment. They were angry over pollution and the stabbing of two villagers by factory staff, an official said Tuesday.

Five policemen were injured by flying rocks and bricks as they tried to stop the villagers, said Le Cao Thang, a local Communist Party official near Qui Nhon city in Binh Dinh province in south-central Vietnam.

The villagers have long complained of pollution from the private factory, which produces denatured alcohol from sugar cane, he said. Local officials had asked the company several times to build a wastewater treatment plant, but it refused, Thang said.

On Oct. 12, some villagers smashed the company's drainage system, which they blamed for polluting the neighborhood, Thang said.

The following day, about a dozen villagers came to the factory with samples of the polluted water, he said. Some quarrels between the villagers and factory staff broke out, and the son of the factory's director and a staff member stabbed two villagers, seriously injuring them, he said.

By night fall, about 1,000 villagers had surged into the factory, located in Phu Tai industrial park, and pulled down its walls, destroyed its office, and looted its property, Thang said. The villagers detained some factory staff in a toilet for five hours, he said.

A the time there were only a few security guards at the factory, which employs more than 200 workers, and police were unable to disperse the crowd until Oct. 13, he said.

Thang said the local government has encouraged the villagers to return the looted property, including a freezer, an air conditioner, some doors, and personal belongings of the factory staff. Police are investigating the case and have made no arrests so far, he said.

Public protests, once a rarity in Vietnam, have become more common in recent years. Most involve disputes over government land appropriation, but some concern pollution.

Posted by Richard
10/23/2002 09:23:12 AM | PermaLink

Tuesday, October 22, 2002

New Comments Section

This just to announce that I've trashed the old PHP Komments code and integrated Enetation instead. Comments will now appear as a pop-up window, and should work much more seamlessly and hassle-free than in the past.

Any issues, please feel free to notify me. Thanks.

Posted by Richard
10/22/2002 10:10:37 AM | PermaLink

U.S. Green Party Could Play Role in a Few Tight Races

There can be no question that when it comes to party politics it is strategy that is the key to voting and not blind ideology. Candidates and representatives vote strategically and voters should too -- one has to take the real situation into account and make the alliances that result in the best possible outcome. The Greens of Minnesota should be vary wary of this when they think about the credibility of their own candidate and the meaning of Sen. Wellstone to the Congress.

This said, and counter to what I take is the nonsense philosophy that espouses that Greens lost Gore the election, if the Greens are in certain instances beginning to evoke enough power so as to throw elections one way or the other, then it behooves the Democrats (who one would expect to be most closely aligned to Green causes) to sure up those voting alliances in advance of election day, reach out to Green leadership, and work Green compromises into their platforms.

While Gore wore flanel on occasion, in fact he went out of his way to distance himself from Nadar and the Greens -- choosing to promote himself as more of a moderate "Third way" candidate a la Blair and Clinton. Instead of playing up his previous defenses of nature, he played up his knowledge and boosting of the Internet, and instead of courting rural communities and local initiatives, he attempted to present himself as a world statesman. Now, it may be true that this is entirely what it takes to be elected president of the U.S. at the moment, and so Gore (like others this election term) found himself as the bearer of an unsolveable contradiction -- how to court the Green votes that would guarantee victory without losing more votes from moderate constituencies in the process? The Gore team chose to shut out the Greens, put the majority foot forward and court the a loss, and that's not the Greens fault.

In those races in which the Greens may presently play a role, I encourage the Democratic committees to understand that the days are over in which they can expect voters to cast ballots to the left or right, Democratic or Republican. Our political system remains woefully immature compared with other democratic systems in Europe, systems that are able to account for and utilize multiple parties and electoral voices, but we are making progress and the voices of the grassroots are demanding that they be heard by the two-party system.

Democrats -- hear those voices and respond if those votes are meaningful to you. For if you do not respond, you lose your seats of power, and you deliver the country gift-wrapped over to the Bush hegemony, then you have only your own party to blame.

The inflexibility of the Democratic party may be one of the greatest, and saddest, lessons that our time delivers unto history. Come back to the people, is the cry from below.

We know now post-9/11 that the Right intends to make Might, but the question remains if might must move Right. The lesson of Gore and the Dems has so far suggested that in this age of globalization this may actually be the case. Step down from the stage of might, Democrats, return to your roots and sound a new theme for America.

It may not play as well to the hubris of the statesman's ego, but it may be your party's -- and hence, the country's -- best chance at peace.
Washington, D.C. The Green Party, boosted by Ralph Nader's presidential run two years ago, has fielded its most candidates ever this year and could play a role in deciding several key Senate and governor's races Nov. 5.

With a host of races too close to call heading into the final two weeks of the campaign, Greens threaten to steal enough votes from Democrats to make a difference in notable races in Massachusetts, Maine, Colorado, and particularly Minnesota, where the Senate race could determine if Democrats retain control of the chamber.

For Democrats, that would be a painful reminder of the 2000 presidential race, when Nader won only 2.7 percent of the national vote but racked up enough support in states like Florida to help tip the historically close race from Democrat Al Gore to Republican George W. Bush.

"The Greens are a real thorn in the side of the Democratic Party," said Steven Schier, a professor at Minnesota's Carleton College. "They are going to be strong in some Democratic and swing states."

Stoked by the momentum generated by Nader, more than 500 Green candidates are on ballots across the country, twice as many as the previous high, and Greens have guaranteed ballot access in 23 states. Most Green candidates are running at the local level or for lower-level state offices, with about 60 running in House races and handfuls challenging the status quo in governor or Senate campaigns.

But Minnesota's extremely close races for governor and Senate both feature Greens who could play a role. Greens are also potential factors in governor's races in Massachusetts and Maine and in the tight House battle in Colorado's newly created 7th District.

"The high number of candidates is a sign of increased energy at the grass-roots level for Greens," said Micah Sifry, author of a recent book chronicling third-party politics in the United States. He credited Nader with boosting the Green profile and said more Green candidates will break out of the 1 to 5 percent range in vote totals this year.

"The Greens are still primarily the beneficiaries of a mood," he said, with grass-roots Democratic disenchantment over the party's broad support for a congressional resolution on Iraq possibly bolstering their standing. "If there is an anti-incumbent mood this year, they will benefit," Sifry said.


One of the most crucial Green races is in Minnesota, where Democratic Sen. Paul Wellstone, the Senate's most die-hard liberal, is in a tight race with Republican moderate Norm Coleman. The outcome could help determine whether Democrats hold their one-seat Senate majority.

Green Party candidate Ray Tricomo, who won the primary after the party convention endorsed someone else, could tip the scales to Coleman by winning even 1 or 2 percent of the vote. Wellstone said he was resigned to the Green influence, although he didn't understand it. "It's not like my record on the environment is weak," he said.

A "Greens for Wellstone" group has formed in Minnesota, and some Greens have focused attention on the governor's office, where longtime Green Ken Pentel is part of a four-way race. He hopes to score 5 percent of the vote, which would retain the party's access to the state's public financing system.

Pentel, the only Green candidate in Minnesota when he ran for governor in 1998, is one of 67 Green candidates in the state this year. Another third-party candidate in that race, former Democratic congressman Tim Penny, is in a statistical three-way tie with the Democratic and Republican candidates, according to recent polls.

Pentel said Greens had to field candidates and run races where they could, without worrying if they hurt Democrats. "You can't maintain the integrity of your party if you worry who your opponent is in every race," he said.

Dean Myerson, Greens political coordinator, said the party was trying to build from the bottom up, pushing candidates in local races "who will go on to higher office later."

Greens could influence the Massachusetts governor's race, where Jill Stein could get support from disaffected Democratic supporters of former Clinton Labor Secretary Robert Reich, who lost the primary to moderate state Treasurer Shannon O'Brien. In Maine, Republicans want a good showing from Green Party candidate Jonathan Carter, who reaped $900,000 from the state's public election financing system and has launched an aggressive television advertising campaign.

Sifry said the clearest sign Greens had arrived was the Republican attempt in New Mexico earlier this year to give Greens $100,000 to mount some House races. Democrats responded with a financial offer to keep Greens from fielding a gubernatorial candidate. Neither offer was accepted. "That shows that the Green vote in New Mexico has become a stable phenomenon," Sifry said. "The Green vote there is something that both parties have to deal with."

By John Whitesides, Reuters

Posted by Richard
10/22/2002 09:36:59 AM | PermaLink

Monday, October 21, 2002

National Forest Products Week, 2002

First question: "In the year of our Lord 2002" -- who's lord are we talking about? Is Christ now everyone's lord? I think its time that the left pushed this further in court again and didn't back off from all the right-wing guffawing and arm-throwing. This is so clearly an example of our nation's mono-cultural Christian heritage, one that stands in need of updating, one that is to the discredit of everyone that would attempt to suppress this glaring oversight in American manners.

Second: What do you do if you're the timber industry and your proposed plan to kill species and prevent public knowledge and input has been rightfully rebuffed by the Senate? Why you lobby for a federally-mandated "week of observance!" Not exactly a holiday, such a week nonetheless keeps the propaganda levels up, cements the industry's ties to the government, and promotes the ideas favorable to industry tree-harversters.

Thus, we have the following proclamation from Bush, jr. that misguidedly attempts to sell his own tree policy, one of the single most anti-democratic and anti-environmental pieces of legislation to have crossed the District in some time, as moving in green directions...even as he underlines time and again that this is good for the economy and that forests are resources for the same.

One need only look as far as the sentence tacked on to the end of Bush's declared reasons forests are important -- "In addition, our Nation's forests protect watersheds, preserve water quality, help keep our air clean, and provide habitat for our wildlife." -- to see how ugly the proposed Healthy Forests Act really is. As if protecting watersheds, air and water quality, and wilderness habitat were an afterthought, a real bonus!, and not something intrinsic to the very meaning of forests for this nation. But of course for the Bush administration and all those that tie their wallets up to the Bush corral this is exactly the case....for them, we should be promoting an increase in "tissue" and "packaging materials" over and above a beautiful wilderness that has room for people awed by the splendor of crystal water, fresh air, and large mammals roaming peaceably.

Instead, of course, the idea is to take this decision out of the hands of the American people and to put a rubberstamp in the hands of an industry-friendly chief executive. This proclamation, then, represents the proclamation of capitalist tyranny. This is not about the rural logger on-the-ground battling the granola-eating hiker in real debate -- that's what it should be! Rather, this is about fat-cat CEOs who live far and away from rural logging communities attempting to increase market share at a time when the President is desperate for any market successes he can trumpet.

President Bush asks us to "observe this week with appropriate ceremonies and activities" and I will leave it to you to implement that which comes to mind. I will make this one suggestion to the forest activists nationwide, however: Let's use this week from now on to demonstrate that which Bush and people like Rep. Scott McInnis (author of Healthy Forests) cannot understand: let's engage forest workers and rural logging communities in real public debate on these issues, let's demonstrate what a real commitment to recyclyables and re-useables looks like, let's show the nation and the nation's executives that beyond kleenex and printer-paper the greatest national forest product we have is the sustainable democratic community living in and with the forests themselves!

Let's turn this proclamation on its head -- and let's take back the forests for a better and truer vision of America.

By the President of the United States of America
A Proclamation

America's forests are one of our greatest natural resources. They offer majestic beauty and fabulous recreational opportunities for all Americans to enjoy. They also are an important source of materials that help our Nation's economy to grow and flourish. By observing National Forest Products Week, we recognize the countless ways in which forests enrich our lives, and we renew our commitment to preserving these natural assets for future generations.

Forests strengthen our economy by supplying us with renewable, energy-efficient, and environmentally friendly resources that are the source of good jobs and valuable products. The wood we get from forests is a prime construction and manufacturing product that is used to build our homes and many other essential structures. Wood is also recyclable, biodegradable, and serves as a raw material for many items we use and enjoy every day, including paper, tissue, furniture, packaging materials, musical instruments, and postage stamps. The use of wood for biomass energy generation derived from thinning projects conserves fossil fuels and strengthens rural economies.

In addition, our Nation's forests protect watersheds, preserve water quality, help keep our air clean, and provide habitat for our wildlife.

To protect these vital natural resources, we must take affirmative steps towards managing our forests better, and we must work together to safeguard the health of our forests. My Administration has developed the Healthy Forests Initiative, which seeks to restore the health of our woodlands and prevent forest fires through a combination of thinning overgrowth and restoring fire-damaged areas. For the safety of our citizens, the good of our forests, and the prosperity of our economy, we must make forest health a national priority.

Recognizing the importance of our forests in ensuring our Nation's well-being, the Congress, by Public Law 86-753 (36 U.S.C. 123), as amended, has designated the week beginning on the third Sunday in October of each year as "National Forest Products Week" and has authorized and requested the President to issue a proclamation in observance of this week.

NOW, THEREFORE, I, GEORGE W. BUSH, President of the United States of America, do hereby proclaim October 20 through October 26, 2002, as National Forest Products Week. I call upon all Americans to observe this week with appropriate ceremonies and activities.

IN WITNESS WHEREOF, I have hereunto set my hand this eighteenth day of October, in the year of our Lord two thousand two, and of the Independence of the United States of America the two hundred and twenty-seventh.


Posted by Richard
10/21/2002 08:28:17 AM | PermaLink

Sunday, October 20, 2002

Thousands From Across Europe March in Anti-Nuclear Protest

Strasbourg, France - Thousands of people, some wearing gas masks, marched in eastern France on Sunday in an anti-nuclear protest billed as the first of its kind in Europe.

Protesters from more than a dozen countries took part in the pan-European "Let's End the Nuclear Age" rally in eastern Strasbourg, home to the European Parliament.

Demonstrators formed a human chain, lay down in the street in a symbolic "die-in" and blared an alarm signal to evoke the response to the Chernobyl disaster in 1986, the world's worst nuclear accident. The explosion sent a radioactive cloud across much of Europe.

Others stacked cans labeled with nuclear energy symbols to illustrate nuclear waste.

The march was organized by a French anti-nuclear group that claims 650 local associations as members. Many Green party leaders from across Europe also took part.

The activists want a halt to new nuclear power plant programs, a full accounting of the effects of nuclear energy on the environment and studies into ways of ending reliance on nuclear power.

Protest organizers said at least 10,000 people participated, while police put the number at some 3,300. Police had first estimated turnout at about 5,000.

Most of the demonstrators were from France, which has 20 nuclear power plants and gets three-fourths of its energy from nuclear energy, or Germany.

A delegation of anti-nuclear activists is to meet Tuesday with European Union (news - web sites) Energy Commissioner Loyola de Palacio, march organizer Reseau Sortir du Nucleaire, or "Out of Nuclear Network", said.

Posted by Richard
10/20/2002 05:57:12 PM | PermaLink