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Saturday, January 11, 2003


Visitors to this Web site can keep tabs on the state of the planet with Worldometers -- automatic counters tallying real-time changes in a number of global indicators. Worldometers is presented by o.s.EARTH, Inc., a nonprofit research and education organization that provides "experiential, simulation- based learning and training about world resources and issues." Visitors may view counters in the following areas: Population, Energy,Food Supply, Health, Education, Environment, and Economy and Government. The Web site is simply presented, and while visitors will have to look elsewhere for a discussion of the issues presented, the counters themselves paint a rather vivid picture of global concerns. [RS]

Posted by Richard
1/11/2003 03:07:34 PM | PermaLink

How the Earth Fared 2002

How the Earth Fared [.pdf]

Environmental Defense, a nonprofit organization that "brings together experts in science, law and economics to tackle complex environmental issues," presents How the Earth Fared, a year-in-review of environmental news in 2002. Available as a 4-page document, How the Earth Fared highlights developments and setbacks in the following areas: climate change and global warming, natural resources, endangered species and wildlife habitat protection, antibiotic resistance and organic foods, toxic chemicals, air quality, and oceans. The document includes links to relevant articles. [RS]

Posted by Richard
1/11/2003 03:05:42 PM | PermaLink

Toxic Ammo is Tested by Navy in Fishing Areas -- U.S. Navy uses depleted uranium in coast waters; activists may go to court

The Navy routinely tests a weapon by firing radioactive, toxic ammunition in prime fishing areas off the coast of Washington, raising concerns from scientists, fishermen and activists.

The Navy insists the use of depleted uranium off the coast poses no threat to the environment. Depleted uranium, known as DU, is a highly dense metal that is the byproduct of the process during which fissionable uranium used to manufacture nuclear bombs and reactor fuel is separated from natural uranium. DU remains radioactive for about 4.5 billion years.

 Cmdr. Karen Sellers, a Navy spokeswoman in Seattle, also said there are no hazards to the servicemen and women on board the ships,
adding that "all crew members are medically monitored" to ensure their safety.

By Larry Johnston

Posted by Richard
1/11/2003 07:37:16 AM | PermaLink

Long Bets

This is interesting -- high-stakes researchers and theorists put their money where their mind is and stake $1000 and up on whether their long-term predictions about the state of the world will come true or not. It's tax-deductible and all for charity...

Long Bets

Posted by Richard
1/11/2003 07:19:19 AM | PermaLink

Bush Administration Weakens Wetlands Protections

The Admin. has basically decided to agree with a supreme court decision that limited the power of the EPA and Army Corps of Engineers to control via permit development of local waterways and watersheds. Instead, they will now control only navigatible bodies of water -- like rivers, lakes, and estuaries. While this decision would be a benefit in a world in which strong local democracy existed (a Green world), in this world the decision is simply yet another eggregious neo-liberal overwriting of existing environmental standards coming out of the 1960's. Wetlands, ecologists know, are extremely threatened ecosystems as it presently stands and also very important b/c they server as feeding areas for a large variety of species, mouths for waterways and drinking sources, and because of their special inter-systemic nature, a sort of regulatory cleaning system for many other ecological areas. Modern development has severely destroyed many of these pristene areas -- "Get rid of the bog and swamp"....for instance -- prior to modern California this state was once largely wetland. This go ahead by the Bush Admin. is akin to a kiss of death for these fragile areas in the US in the name of minor economic boost through the development sector. Extremely illogical as Cat Lazaroff points out towards the end of the article considering our relationship and reliance upon wetlands.
Bush Administration Weakens Wetlands Protections

By Cat Lazaroff

The Bush administration issued new, and immediately controversial, guidance today regarding federal authority over the nation's wetlands. While the administration claims the guidance reaffirms federal authority "over the vast majority of America's wetlands," conservation groups charge that the administration's action will repeal Clean Water Act protections for a large percentage of the nation's waterways.
In a related story, the Admin. has sided with a new Western lands development policy of the Bureau of Land Management against the EPA (and environmentalists) in order to boost energy expansion domestically. This is in keeping with the increased harvesting of natural gas domestically that has gone on now for a decade (smart money: invest in natural gas). This gas drilling had been on hold because it threatens habitats -- in order to get the gas, they shoot water into coalbeds, releasing vast reserves of sodium in the process, resulting in huge quantities of salty, unpotable water on the other end (i.e. pollution). The idea now is to use resevoirs to "store" the salt water.

Posted by Richard
1/11/2003 07:07:02 AM | PermaLink

Friday, January 10, 2003

Fish, Crabs Can Make Human-like Decisions

Fish, crabs can make human-like decisions

Sydney (ANI): Australian researchers have found that simple creatures such as fish and crabs, which have tiny brains and low-resolution eyes, can make sophisticated decisions and even have communication powers like humans.

Australian National University biological scientist Jan Hemmi found that crabs can even measure the distance between objects in the same way a footballer judges the distance between another player and the ball, says a report in The Age.

"These are animals with very small brains and low-resolution eyes, yet they can make decisions which are as sophisticated as those made by primates, including humans," Dr Hemmi said.

The research, aimed at finding out how eyes and brains have evolved, showed crabs were skilled at image processing and parallel computation.

Posted by Richard
1/10/2003 03:20:52 PM | PermaLink

Worst Fears Confirmed -- Depleted Uranium in Afghanistan

A startling new report based on research in Afghanistan indicates that our worst fears have been realized. The study, produced by the Uranium Medical Research Centre (UMRC), points to the likelihood of large numbers of the population being exposed to uranium dust and debris.

Dr. Asaf Durakovic, a professor of nuclear medicine and radiology and a former science adviser to the US military, who set-up the independent UMRC, has been testing US, British, and Canadian troops and civilians for DU and uranium poisoning over the past few years. His findings confirm significant amounts in the subjects' urine as much as nine years after exposure.

Two scientific study teams were sent to Afghanistan in the aftermath of the conflict in 2001-02. The first arrived in June 2002, concentrating on the Jalalabad region. The second arrived four months later, broadening the study to include the capital Kabul, which has a population of nearly 3.5 million people. The city itself contains the highest recorded number of fixed targets during Operation Enduring Freedom. For the study's purposes, the vicinity of three major bomb sites were examined.

It was predicted that signatures of depleted or enriched uranium would be found in the urine and soil samples taken during the research. The team was unprepared for the shock of its findings, which indicated in both Jalalabad and Kabul, DU was possibly causing the high levels of illness but also high concentrations of non-depleted uranium. Tests taken from a number of Jalalabadd subjects showed concentrations 400% to 2000% above that for normal populations, amounts which have not been recorded in civilian studies before.

Those in Kabul who were directly exposed to US-British precision bombing showed extreme signs of contamination, consistent with uranium exposure and with some types of chemical or biological weaponry. These included pains in joints, back/kidney pain, muscle weakness, memory problems and confusion and disorientation. Many of these symptoms are found in Gulf War and Balkans veterans and civilians. Those exposed to the bombing report symptoms of flu-type illnesses, bleeding, runny noses and blood-stained mucous.

The study team itself complained of similar symptoms during their stay. Most of these symptoms last for days or months. The team also conducted a preliminary sample examination of new-born infants, discovering that at least 25% may be suffering from congenital and post-natal health problems that could be associated with uranium contamination. These include undeveloped muscles, large head in comparison to body size, skin rashes and infant lethargy. Considering that the children had access to sufficient levels of nutrition, the symptoms could not be due to malnourishment.

Durakovic and his team have searched for possible alternative causes, such as geological or industrial sources, or the likelihood of Al Qaeda having uranium reserves. But the uranium found is not consistent with the "dirty bomb" scenario proposed by the US (in which stores of radioactive materials might explain the findings), nor is it connected to DU, or an enriched uranium-type dust that has been found in Iraq and Kosova.

The only conclusion is that the allied forces are now possibly using milled uranium ore in their warheads to maximize the effectiveness and strength of their weapons, as well as to mask the uranium, hoping that it may be discounteded as part of any local natural deposits.

However, marked differences between natural uranium and the uranium used in the metal fragments found in Afghanistan was uncovered with the use of an electron microscope, which revealed the presence of small ceramic particles produced by the high temperatures created on impact. This method of disguising uranium would benefit governments that are under pressure from the growing anti-DU lobby.

Repeated warnings of this possible contamination was sent to both the British and Afghan governments in April by scientific researcher Dai Williams in her report, "Mystery Metal in Afghanistan". Warning were also sent to the UN Environment Program, the World Health Organization and Oxfam. All have ignored them and failed to conduct their own investigations.


Present information and studies stressing the growing mortality rates amongst young children, especially the new born, indicate that malnutrition and other social causes cannot be the only attributable source of this phenomenon. This is confirmed by health specialists, international observers and a few brave officials from local hospitals who are convinced that this rise in illnesses and malformation are due to uranium/DU weapons.

In October, Durakovic spoke on al Jazeera television, claiming that the amount of DU/uranium used in Afghanistan far exceeded that of past conflicts. He also warned that if the scale of the attacks in Afghanistan was matched or exceeded in a forthcoming war in Iraq, then the consequences would be of appalling proportions for both civilians and military forces alike.

This scenario has substance, if the $393 billion defense authorization bill that Congress approved recently is taken into account. More than $15 million was assigned to modifying bunker busters bombs to nuclear capable, quite apart from uranium being added to conventional and bunker buster systems.s. Money was also invested in other weapons of mass destruction, including thermobaric and electromagnetic weapons.

The anti-war movement must oppose radiological and other weapons, as well as research and access to the source materials. Many of us have seen the heart-wrenching pictures of deformity and death in Iraq, and know of the growing cancer wards in Bosnia and Kosova, not to mention the 80,000 American, 15,000 Canadian and thousands of British, Australian, French and other troops! who are suffering a painful existence from Gulf War Syndrome plus the growing number suffering from a Balkans equivalent.

Davey Garland is a coordinator of the British-based Pandora DU Research Project. Source; Green Left Weekly, Issue of December 2002.

Posted by Richard
1/10/2003 01:30:13 AM | PermaLink

Thursday, January 09, 2003


Recently a fellow blogger of note asked me as to my feelings about violence vs. non-violence in the radical environmental movement (she also posted a comment here). Her feelings, if I understand her correctly, is that while she supports animal liberation, she does not support mere thuggery and anti-democratic violence, which she sees as exemplified by the current ELF tactics. Her suspicion is that ELF is now overrun by government agents who act so as to discredit the movement, and that the ALF spokesperson may have recently stepped down in response to this. I replied to her that while I am neither ELF nor ALF, nor do I know anyone who is, I do have some thoughts on the matter and agree that the question of violence and peace at this time is the central issue on the table for radical environmentalism. My answer follows:
You precisely hit what is perhaps the major question for the animal rights movement in general, and especially at this time of War on Terror when the political notch against anti-state violence threatens to debilitate social movements who may qualify as terrorist under the new strong-armed laws. As I say, though, at any time even the real question of whether it is better to practice and model and uphold the true vision of peace and non-violence (even if this prevents immediate gains and liberations) or if a more militant stand is necessary to meet the game at the level dictated by the power structure (which specializes in militant violence) in order for real social gains to be achieved.

Theoretically speaking, we can look back over the course of social revolutions and realize that in fact the two sides of revolutionary movements (non-violent and militant) have always worked in cohoots with one another (though not necessarily consciously or programatically) in order for real change to be effected. In the 20th century, for instance, both Gandhi and King are upheld as symbolic figures of non-violent effective protest. However, any student of these figures quickly surmises that if they had not arisen alongside and in response to vigorous militancy on behalf of their causes, the state would hardly have felt the need to compromise, legitimate and ultimately celebrate these individuals as more tolerable answers. Behind their non-violence campaigns (though this is not taught in schools) in fact lay a tremendous amount of violence, bloodshed, and terror campaigning on the part of more radical group members who disagreed with what they took to be a complicit peace approach. In some sense, then, the militant wings have to be thought responsible for gaining the legitimacy of the peaceniks.

Thus, I would argue that if 21st century animal rights is really to be effective socially and politically, one would suspect that it would not be hindered by having both non-violent and violent approaches working side by side. But this is not to promote violence, simply to recognize that, historically speaking, violence appears to beget social change on behalf of and in the name of non-violent leadership.

There remains the question, however, as to whether or not a purely peaceful approach might not make its own gains (and make more of them) without the corresponding violence. To this, I would say we simply lack historical evidence and it is guesswork. Certainly, my temperment would lead me to wish that this were so. But the few places in which we see non-violent strategies practices -- the early Christian and related sects of "better to be slain than slay", the Asiatic monks in the face of Communist deliverance, and most recently perhaps, in Tibet's own religious structure, we find -- not victory for the peaceful -- but their massacre and displacement by overriders. Now, the religious answer to this was of course that the kingdom of heaven that they gained was not to be interpreted as "here on Earth," at least not until the final days when the rift between the permanent and impermanent is once again restored. But even if this is true, this is hardly the sort of animal rightists appear interested in now. They are not waging for the souls of animals in the end days, but now, here, and for a different social order that does not brutally slaughter them quite needlessly.

Finally, there is the question as to the difference and connection between ALF and ELF. Again, I cannot claim expertise here. But, to my knowledge, I'm not sure that anyone can either -- for as far as I know, like the now mythical Al Qaeda, the ALF and ELF are programatically de-centered and rhizomic organizations that have only the very loosest of central leaderships. It is very hard to know who is ALF or ELF and if there is even a real difference. The organizations are cunning and wary of what they do, and we must read through official pronouncements to get a glimpse of the larger picture. We also must realize that they are not above disinformation campaigns of all kinds.

Still, I would not at all be surprised if, as you say, they have been infected by government agents, or if not infected, that gov't agents act in their name to commit all sorts of public acts that can then be used to discredit them. I would not be able to say if ELF is the greater victim here than ALF however.

I feel strongly, however, that the ALF spokesperson is not stepping down b/c of ELF atrocities or even ALF atrocities. From what I can read there, this is typical behavior on the part of either organization's spokespeople -- who have been targeted by the government for harassment campaigns and have had their lives turned upside-down in response to their public visage. The typical ALF or ELF spokesperson acts in that capacity for a period, becomes criminalized, and then steps down when the pressures upon them become so great that they can no longer act as a spokesperson without risking their lives and the lives of those who they speak for. My assumption is that this is what happened here.

There is going to be a large meeting at Cal. Fresno in mid-Feb, in which scholars, radicals, and leading members of the various animal rights and environmental groups will be meeting to try and decide this very issue of violence and non-violence and the possibility of a universal environmental political ethic. I will be interested to see what comes of this. My guess is that there will be the usual infighting and we will see peace and militancy as always.

As I counseled previously, however, this isn't necessarily bad for political action -- whatever its spiritual consequences.

Yours in the work,

Posted by Richard
1/09/2003 08:47:10 AM | PermaLink

Media Spectacle by Douglas Kellner

I'm happy and proud to announce Doug's new book is out that updates his seminal book from the 1990's, Media Culture. I helped edit this one and Professor Kellner kindly wrote the following in his Preface:
I would also like to give special recognition to Richard Kahn, who carefully edited every chapter and provided ideas and research material that I utilized in specific studies. I am grateful to Richard for expertly constructing and administering my UCLA website and designing and helping administer a new blogLeft project, begun in March 2002 as I brought these studies to a close.

Posted by Richard
1/09/2003 07:50:38 AM | PermaLink

50 Facts About U.S. Nuclear Weapons

- Except where noted all figures are in constant 1996 dollars -

1. Cost of the Manhattan Project (through August 1945): $20,000,000,000

SOURCES: Richard G. Hewlett and Oscar E. Anderson, Jr., The New World: A History of the United States Atomic Energy Commission,
Volume 1, 1939/1946 (Oak Ridge, Tennessee: U.S. AEC Technical Information Center, 1972), pp. 723-724; Condensed AEC Annual
Financial Report, FY 1953 (in Fifteenth Semiannual Report of the Atomic Energy Commission, January 1954, p. 73)

2. Total number of nuclear missiles built, 1951-present: 67,500

U.S. Nuclear Weapons Cost Study Project

3. Estimated construction costs for more than 1,000 ICBM launch pads and silos, and support facilities, from 1957-1964: nearly $14,000,000,000

Maj. C.D. Hargreaves, U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Ballistic Missile Construction Office (CEBMCO), "Introduction to the CEBMCO Historical Report and History of the Command Section, Pre-CEBMCO Thru December 1962," p. 8; U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Ballistic Missile Construction Office, "U.S. Air Force ICBM Construction Program," undated chart (circa 1965)

4. Total number of nuclear bombers built, 1945-present: 4,680

U.S. Nuclear Weapons Cost Study Project

5. Peak number of nuclear warheads and bombs in the stockpile/year: 32,193/1966

Natural Resources Defense Council, Nuclear Weapons Databook Project

6. Total number and types of nuclear warheads and bombs built, 1945-1990: more than 70,000/65 types

U.S. Department of Energy; Natural Resources Defense Council, Nuclear Weapons Databook Project

7. Number currently in the stockpile(2002): 10,600 (7,982 deployed, 2,700 hedge/contingency stockpile)

Natural Resources Defense Council, Nuclear Weapons Databook Project

8. Number of nuclear warheads requested by the Army in 1956 and 1957: 151,000

History of the Custody and Deployment of Nuclear Weapons, July 1945 Through September 1977, Prepared by the Office of the Assistant Secretary of Defense (Atomic Energy), February 1978, p. 50 (formerly Top Secret)

9. Projected operational U.S. strategic nuclear warheads and bombs after full enactment of the Strategic Offensive Reductions Treaty in 2012: 1,700-2,200

U.S. Department of Defense; Natural Resources Defense Council, Nuclear Weapons Databook Project

10. Additional strategic and non-strategic warheads not limited by the treaty that the U.S. military wants to retain as a "hedge" against unforeseen future threats: 4,900

U..S. Department of Defense; Natural Resources Defense Council, Nuclear Weapons Databook Project

11. Largest and smallest nuclear bombs ever deployed: B17/B24(~42,000 lbs., 10-15 megatons); W54 (51 lbs., .01 kilotons, .02 kilotons-1 kiloton)

Natural Resources Defense Council, Nuclear Weapons Databook Project

12. Peak number of operating domestic uranium mines (1955): 925

Nineteenth Semiannual Report of the Atomic Energy Commission, January 1956, p. 31

13. Fissile material produced: 104 metric tons of plutonium and 994 metric tons of highly-enricheduranium

U.S. Department of Energy

14. Amount of plutonium still in weapons: 43 metric tons

Natural Resources Defense Council, Nuclear Weapons Databook Project

15. Number of thermometers which could be filled with mercury used to produce lithium-6 at the Oak Ridge Reservation: 11 billion

U.S. Department of Energy

16. Number of dismantled plutonium "pits" stored at the Pantex Plantin Amarillo, Texas: 12,067 (as of May 6, 1999)

U.S. Department of Energy

17. States with the largest number of nuclear weapons (in 1999): New Mexico (2,450), Georgia(2,000), Washington (1,685), Nevada (1,350), and North Dakota (1,140)

William M. Arkin, Robert S. Norris, and Joshua Handler, Taking Stock: Worldwide Nuclear Deployments 1998 (Washington, D.C.: Natural Resources Defense Council, March 1998)

18. Total known land area occupied by U.S. nuclear weapons bases and facilities: 15,654 square miles

U.S. Nuclear Weapons Cost Study Project

19. Total land area of the District of Columbia, Massachusetts, and New Jersey: 15,357 square miles

Rand McNally Road Atlas and Travel Guide, 1992

20. Legal fees paid by the Department of Energy to fight lawsuits from workers and private citizens concerning nuclear weapons production and testing activities, from October 1990 through March 1995: $97,000,000

U.S. Department of Energy

21. Money paid by the State Department to Japan following falloutfrom the 1954 "Bravo" test: $15,300,000

Barton C. Hacker, Elements of Controversy: The Atomic Energy Commission and Radiation Safety in Nuclear Weapons Testing, 1947-1974, University of California Press, 1994, p. 158

22. Money and non-monetary compensation paid by the the United States to Marshallese Islanders since 1956 to redress damages from nuclear testing: at least $759,000,000

U.S. Nuclear Weapons Cost Study Project

23. Money paid to U.S. citizens under the Radiation Exposure and Compensation Act of 1990, as of January 13, 1998: approximately $225,000,000 (6,336 claims approved; 3,156 denied)

U.S. Department of Justice, Torts Branch, Civil Division

24. Total cost of the Aircraft Nuclear Propulsion (ANP) program, 1946-1961: $7,000,000,000

"Aircraft Nuclear Propulsion Program," Report of the Joint Committee on Atomic Energy, September 1959, pp. 11-12

25. Total number of nuclear-powered aircraft and airplane hangars built: 0 and 1

Ibid; "American Portrait: ANP," WFAA-TV (Dallas), 1993. Between July 1955 and March 1957, a specially modified B-36 bomber made 47 flights with a three megawatt air-cooled operational test reactor (the reactor, however, did not power the plane).

26. Number of secret Presidential Emergency Facilities built for use during and after a nuclear war: more than 75

Bill Gulley with Mary Ellen Reese, Breaking Cover, Simon and Schuster, 1980, pp. 34- 36

27. Currency stored until 1988 by the Federal Reserve at its Mount Pony facility for use after a nuclear war: more than $2,000,000,000

Edward Zuckerman, The Day After World War III, The Viking Press, 1984, pp. 287-88

28. Amount of silver in tons once used at the Oak Ridge, TN, Y-12 Plantfor electrical magnet coils: 14,700

Vincent C. Jones, Manhattan: The Army and the Bomb, U.S. Army Center for Military History, 1985, pp. 66-7

29. Total number of U.S. nuclear weapons tests, 1945-1992: 1,030 (1,125 nuclear devices detonated; 24 additional joint tests with Great Britain)

U.S. Department of Energy

30. First and last test: July 16, 1945 ("Trinity") and September 23, 1992 ("Divider")

U.S. Department of Energy

31. Estimated amount spent between October 1, 1992 and October 1, 1995 on nuclear testing activities: $1,200,000,000 (0 tests)

U.S. Nuclear Weapons Cost Study Project

32. Cost of 1946 Operation Crossroadsweapons tests ("Able" and "Baker") at Bikini Atoll: $1,300,000,000 Weisgall, Operation Crossroads, pp. 294, 371

33. Largest U.S. explosion/date: 15 Megatons/March 1, 1954 ("Bravo")

U.S. Department of Energy

34. Number of islands in Enewetak atoll vaporized by the November 1, 1952 "Mike" H-bomb test: 1

Chuck Hansen, U.S. Nuclear Weapons: The Secret History, Orion Books, 1988, pp. 58-59, 95

35. Number of nuclear tests in the Pacific: 106

Natural Resources Defense Council, Nuclear Weapons Databook Project

36. Number of U.S. nuclear tests in Nevada: 911

Natural Resources Defense Council, Nuclear Weapons Databook Project

37. Number of nuclear weapons tests in Alaska [1, 2, and 3], Colorado [1 and 2], Mississippiand New Mexico [1, 2and 3]: 10

Natural Resources Defense Council, Nuclear Weapons Databook Project

38. Operational naval nuclear propulsion reactors vs. operational commercial power reactors (in 1999): 129 vs. 108

Adm. Bruce DeMars, Deputy Assistant Director for Naval Reactors, U.S. Navy; Nuclear Regulatory Commission

39. Number of attack (SSN)and ballistic missile (SSBN)submarines (2002): 53 SSNs and 18 SSBNs

Adm. Bruce DeMars, Deputy Assistant Director for Naval Reactors, U.S. Navy

40. Number of high level radioactive waste tanks in Washington, Idahoand South Carolina: 239

U.S. Department of Energy

41. Volume in cubic meters of radioactive waste resulting from weapons activities: 104,000,000

U.S. Department of Energy; Institute for Energy and Environmental Research

42. Number of designated targets for U.S. weapons in the Single Integrated Operational Plan (SIOP) in 1976, 1986, and 1995: 25,000 (1976), 16,000 (1986) and 2,500 (1995)

Bruce Blair, Senior Fellow, The Brookings Institution

43. Cost of January 17, 1966 nuclear weapons accident over Palomares, Spain (including two lost planes, an extended search and recovery effort, waste disposal in the U.S. and settlement claims): $182,000,000

Joint Committee on Atomic Energy Interoffice Memorandum, February 15, 1968; Center for Defense Information

44. Number of U.S. nuclear bombs lost in accidents and never recovered: 11

U.S. Department of Defense; Center for Defense Information; Greenpeace; "Lost Bombs," Atwood-Keeney Productions, Inc., 1997

45. Number of Department of Energy federal employees (in 1996): 18,608

U.S. Department of Energy, Office of Worker and Community Transition

46. Number of Department of Energy contractor employees (in 1996): 109,242

U.S. Department of Energy, Office of Worker and Community Transition

47. Minimum number of classified pages estimated to be in the Department of Energy's possession (1995): 280 million

A Review of the Department of Energy Classification Policy and Practice, Committee on Declassification of Information for the Department of Energy Environmental Remediation and Related Programs, National Research Council, 1995, pp. 7-8, 68.

48. Ballistic missile defense spending in 1965 vs. 1995: $2,200,000,000 vs. $2,600,000,000

U.S. Nuclear Weapons Cost Study Project

49. Average cost per warhead to the U.S. to help Kazakhstan dismantle 104 SS-18 ICBMs carrying more than 1,000 warheads: $70,000

U.S. Nuclear Weapons Cost Study Project; Arms Control Association

50. Estimated 1998 spending on all U.S. nuclear weapons and weapons-related programs: $35,100,000,000

Posted by Richard
1/09/2003 07:31:07 AM | PermaLink

Wednesday, January 08, 2003

The Peace Movement Continues

Though to our media culture of the eternal present the building antics of the once anti-globalization and anti-war movement -- now coalescing into a multi-faceted movement for peace on Earth -- must be irrelevant minor stories of the past, the fact is that over this summer and fall a real counter-hegemonic contingent formed the likes we have not seen since the 1960's.

As the UN inspectors began to do their work, and the weather turned from fall to winter, organizing and activist communities took a much needed break to re-gather themselves.

Unfortunately, the corporate state did not do the same. The time is now, then, to jump back in and step up the media presence that huge numbers of people in America are opposed to the everyday life choices and stories that they are offered, are interesting in finding a better way, and are trying to integrate these practices into the lives they lead.

The next large rally in the US is set for Jan 18-20:
United for Peace

Meanwhile, George Monbiot announces that UKers are thinking about forming a "general strike" to shut down the economy for a day when Tony Blair announces his intention to follow the US into war.

Posted by Richard
1/08/2003 07:08:37 AM | PermaLink

Tuesday, January 07, 2003

Shameless Self Promotion

Hey Vegan bloggers -- lest you fear that we are preaching to the converted, talking to ourselves, and having little effect, don't you believe it! Blogging is for real folks -- it can get Trent Lott out of office and it can transform our culture into a more beneficient and enlightened system of habits and mores too. Now CBS MarketWatch is promoting that AOL is entering the Blog field and hoping to do for blogs what it did for chat and email, and happily, yours truly is referenced as a link in the story (though as a "vegetarian" blog -- VEGANISM is not being vegetarian!)...check it out!

AOL said ready to boost 'blogging' By Frank Barnako,

Posted by Richard
1/07/2003 06:33:00 AM | PermaLink

Greenpeace Dumps Bhopal Toxic Waste Before Dow Office

London, Jan 7 (ANI): Greenpeace returned poisonous waste collected from the scene of the world's worst industrial disaster in Bhopal, India, to its rightful owner, Dow Chemical. The waste was abandoned in Bhopal and has been poisoning people there since 1984.

Activists from Greenpeace and Rashida Bi, leader of the Bhopal gas women's union, both constituents of the International Campaign for Justice in Bhopal, unloaded 250 kg of the waste, safely contained in ten barrels, from the Greenpeace ship "Arctic Sunrise" and delivered it to Dow's largest European operation, Dow Benelux, in the Netherlands on Monday.

While the activists occupied the building, they hung eight huge photographs depicting Dow's corporate crime in Bhopal and some of its victims.

"We'll carry on confronting Dow with this corporate crime until it cleans up its toxic fallout in Bhopal and stops poisoning us. We're already struggling to survive sickness from gas exposure without adequate help from the company responsible, and are now facing a slow death from exposure to these poisons. How can a corporation get away with this?" asked Rashida Bi who travelled to the Netherlands to return the waste.

The poisonous waste returned on Monday is only a fraction of hundreds of tonnes that have been strewn around the derelict pesticide plant in Bhopal since 1984 when Union Carbide, which is now owned by Dow, fled the city after a gas leak at the plant killed 8,000 people and injured half a million. No one has accepted responsibility for the waste and the chemical company still refuses to clean up the site.

For 18 years, chemicals have leaked into the soil and ground water in and around the factory site and have been poisoning people who survived the gas leak. Today, the death toll stands at 20,000 and is rising every day. Children born to survivors are suffering health problems and 150,000 people are in urgent need of medical attention.

A new report released by Greenpeace presents further evidence of severe contamination from chemical waste dumped at the plant. Their scientists have identified numerous poisons in the waste, including Sevin, the pesticide Union Carbide used to manufacture in Bhopal, and BHC, a mixture of toxic chemicals that can damage the nervous system, liver and kidneys and which can be passed from mother to child in the womb.

"We will not let Dow bury this crime in India but will carry on returning evidence to the company worldwide to confront it with its responsibilities towards all those who are being poisoned because of its failure to accept its pending liabilities in Bhopal.

Corporations like Dow benefit from a global market for the development of their businesses but are not held globally accountable for their operations. Until they are, crimes such as this will continue to be committed and people and the environment will pay the price," said Ganesh Nochur, campaigner from Greenpeace India onboard the "Arctic Sunrise".

The International Campaign for Justice in Bhopal is calling on Dow to accept its pending liabilities in Bhopal, to clean up the site, provide people with clean drinking water, long-term medical care and full compensation. It is also calling for international legislation to be put in place to make sure companies, such as Dow, are held responsible for pollution or accidents their operations cause, wherever they occur. (ANI)

Posted by Richard
1/07/2003 06:25:03 AM | PermaLink

Monday, January 06, 2003

Tyson latest 'Big Food' firm sued over health issues

By Barbara Kollmeyer, CBS MarketWatch

LOS ANGELES (CBS.MW) -- Tyson Foods is facing a lawsuit over claims that it's misleading consumers by saying its chicken products are 'all natural' and heart-healthy.

The suit was filed Wednesday by nonprofit health and research group Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine (PCRM) in San Francisco. It comes on the heels of a recent Consumer Reports study that nearly half of all chickens it tested were contaminated with bacteria.

In conjunction with the suit, the PCRM is also launching an ad campaign, titled "Natural Born Killers" that depicts a group of small chicks and text of Tyson's claims.

"We want Tyson, as well as other beef and chicken producers, to stop deceiving consumers concerned about their health. Given the serious problems of obesity and heart disease in this country, it's time 'Big Food' stopped telling 'Big Lies' about its products," said PCRM staff attorney Jay Ukryn.

The legal action is just the latest move against big-food chains. McDonald's is settling one suit over claims its French fries aren't cooked in pure vegetable oil. Another suit filed on behalf of three teenagers claims they've suffered health problems from McDonald's food.

The attacks don't stop at the courts. Just this year, "Fast Food Nation: The Dark Side of the All-American Meal" by Eric Schlosser hit the shelves, telling a dark tale of how fast food is made. And soon to be released is "Food Politics: How the Food Industry Influences Nutrition and Health" by NYU nutrition and food scientist Marion Nestle.

Chicken and egg

PCRM is known to promote a vegan lifestyle and alternatives to animal research. It also encourages a diet free of milk, claiming it contains substantial levels of fat, cholesterol, growth hormones and chemicals.

The gist of its lawsuit has to do with two advertising campaigns by Tyson, one of which claims Tyson chicken products are "all natural" and another that advises consumers to eat chicken "as often as you like" as a way of protecting health.

On the contrary, said PCRM, the chicken-raising industry is unhealthy all around. "From the time the egg is laid it's given medicine. When it hatches, it gets more medicine, and then it goes into a factory farm with tens of thousands of other chickens. Disease runs rampant," said Ukryn.

To prevent illness, he said the chickens are given antibiotics in their feed, and when one chicken is found to be sick the entire flock is given a higher dosage. Giving the antibiotics often and at low dosages facilitates the development of antibiotic-resistant bacteria.

Plucking a few more feathers, PCRM pointed to a recent Consumer Reports test of 484 fresh whole broilers and found the bacteria Campylobacter, the leading cause of food-poisoning nationwide, present in 42 percent of the chickens. Tyson chickens were noted as having a higher incidence of the bacteria, which is responsible for 1.1 million to 7 million food-borne infections and 110 to 1,000 deaths each year.

PRCM is not seeking monetary compensation in its lawsuit, but would like Tyson to remove advertisements from magazines and TV. A court could also rule Tyson must start a public-information campaign stating that certain conditions in which its chickens are raised might cause consumers to become sick.

Chicken feed

Tyson spokesman Ed Nicholson addressed the suit in terms of PCRM's criticism of the 'all-natural label. "That label is defined by the USDA. That designation is everything that we put on our labels is overseen by the USDA including that AHA (American Heart Association) endorsement."

"There are specific parameters which call for a certain level of fat and cholesterol in those products. AHA designation only goes on boneless, skinless breast meat. It has the lowest fat, meat protein you can find."

Dr. Neal Barnard, a medical doctor and president of PCRM, pointed to the "Bowes and Church's Food Values of Portions Commonly Used," a physician's reference which says that a 3.5 ounce serving of light chicken meat without skin has 4.5 grams of fat and 173 calories, with 23 percent of the calories are from fat. He said that's just slightly better than red meat.

Barnard, who is also an expert witness on the McDonald's fat suit, said his group has done studies that show that the best diet for a healthy heart contains no meat at all, only vegetables. Four ounces of beef and four ounces of chicken both contain about 100 milligrams of cholesterol, and the cholesterol from chicken does just as good of a job at clogging arteries and causing heart disease.

"They paid the American Heart Association for the rights to a certification for eight of their products, such as the skinless chicken breast, but the American Heart Association says you can't eat this in unlimited quantity. Tyson says eat chicken as often as you'd like. That's like a recipe for a heart attack. How is a consumer supposed to know the difference?"

Posted by Richard
1/06/2003 04:44:48 PM | PermaLink

'Green' Vehicle Popularity Soars, According to R. L. Polk & Co.

While some have lamented that new hybrid-type vehicles have not shown the sales necessary to warrant greater production, this new study finds that the phenomenon is indeed growing exponentially...

'Green' Vehicle Popularity Soars, According to R. L. Polk & Co.

DETROIT, Jan. 6 /PRNewswire/ -- Environmentally friendly vehicles have seen a 54-fold increase in popularity in the past five years, according to analysis of vehicle registrations by R. L. Polk & Co.

From January through October 2002, seven electric and gas-electric hybrid vehicles accounted for nearly 35,000 registrations, compared to just 650 new registrations in 1997. Gas-electric hybrids accounted for nearly 83 percent of the 2002 registrations.

Nearly 30 percent of all environmentally friendly vehicles are from California Designated Marketing Areas (DMAs), where higher fuel costs (nearly 20 cents per gallon more than the national average) and stricter environmental regulations have sparked growth in "green" vehicles. Three of the top five "green" vehicle markets -- Los Angeles, San Francisco and Sacramento -- are in California.
* Designated Marketing Area Number of New Registrations
* Los Angeles, CA 5,141
* San Francisco, CA 3,461
* Washington, D.C. 1,976
* Sacramento, CA 1,459
* New York, NY 1,338

The Toyota Prius and Honda Civic, both gas-electric hybrid vehicles, are the most popular environmentally friendly vehicles, representing 78 percent of the total "green" vehicle registrations. The Prius accounted for approximately 17,500 registrations, while the Civic reached nearly 10,000.

About R. L. Polk & Co.

Polk has served the automotive industry for more than 80 years and is the longest standing curator of automobile records in the United States. Founded in Detroit in 1870, Polk launched its motor vehicle statistical operations in 1922 when the first car registration reports were published. The company now provides automotive solutions to nearly every segment of the motor vehicle industry as an analytical consultant and statistician, as a provider of database-marketing services, and as a supplier of vehicle histories. Based in Southfield, Mich., Polk is a privately held global firm, currently operating in Australia, Brazil, Canada, France, Germany, Japan, the Netherlands, Mexico, Spain, the United Kingdom and the United States.

Source: R. L. Polk & Co.

Posted by Richard
1/06/2003 11:10:52 AM | PermaLink


PETA is going after the Colonel...

PETA launches international campaign against KFC, seeking to improve the living and dying conditions for billions of chickens.

For more details, go to

Posted by Richard
1/06/2003 10:35:15 AM | PermaLink

Striking a Balance in the Forest

Striking a Balance in the Forest By Bettina Boxall, Times Staff Writer

SAN JUAN RIDGE, Calif. -- Over the last 150 years this neck of the Sierra Nevada has been logged, gouged for gold and cultivated for marijuana. Now a quirky crew of locals and an independent-minded federal land manager are chasing something more elusive.

On 1,800 acres of pine and oak scattered between the Middle and South forks of the Yuba River, they are trying to avoid the strife that has so often marked the relationship among agencies that manage federal land, the people who live amid it and environmentalists.

In what one of the participants, Pulitzer Prize-winning poet Gary Snyder, calls "an interesting little experiment," they appear to be succeeding, having fashioned a plan to keep some logging trucks rolling off this Nevada County ridge every year to area sawmills while protecting its streams and most of its oldest trees.

Their small, little-noticed effort fits into a broader Western movement known, in the parlance of policymakers, as collaborative or community-based forest management.

Posted by Richard
1/06/2003 09:20:27 AM | PermaLink

Sunday, January 05, 2003

Back Home and Ready to Blog

Hey all -- well I'm back from my extended vacation criss-crossing the country: the beautiful southwest desertscapes, the iced over new england lakes under cover of blizzard, and the endless cemented-over series of cities and growing towns along the serpentine interstates. My most major news is for those who are unconvinced that war is indeed imminent -- every major airforce base that I passed in the unpopulated southwest was staging major combat and recon training...jets filling the sky and intercepting one another for weeks. Additionally, a lot of armored and military transport going on over the highway system -- more than usual I would say certainly. There is no question in my mind but the inevitable is here...

On a bright note, however, I'd like to pass along a very useful site (especially for those in the NY Metro area) -- Steve is a long-time environmental educator and naturalist and is doing great work out of NYC. He's got books on how to forage, radio and media pieces, a fantastic set of links to peruse, and a killer article (with thumbprints included) documenting his arrest in Central Park by undercover rangers for eating a dandelion! If you've ever wondered what the difference is between a panther amanita and muscaria mushroom, or whether that swiss chard growing out of your driveway is edible than Steve's site is one to check out. He's updating and expanding as we speak. Also, for teachers and camp directors -- Steve does a series of walking tours that would be both fun and enlightening for your children. Worth contacting him for sure -- a friendly fellow, whose site I list with pleasure. Keep it up Steve!

Posted by Richard
1/05/2003 12:54:04 PM | PermaLink

A Planetary Defeat: The Failure of Global Environmental Reform by John Bellamy Foster

The following is a new essay from the noted Marxist ecological sociologist John Bellamy Foster in which he takes up thinking why the Earth Summit II was such a failure from a structural standpoint....

A Planetary Defeat: The Failure of Global Environmental Reform
by John Bellamy Foster

This article is reconstructed from the notes for several talks delivered in Johannesburg, South Africa during events leading up to the World Summit on Sustainable Development, August-September 2002.--J.B.F.

The first Earth Summit in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil in 1992 generated hopes that the world would at long last address its global ecological problems and introduce a process of sustainable development. Now, with a second summit being held ten years later in Johannesburg, that dream has to a large extent faded. Even the principal supporters of this process have made it clear that they do not expect much to be achieved as a result of the Johannesburg summit, which is likely to go down in history as an absolute failure. We need to ask ourselves why.

The first reason is perhaps the most obvious, at least to environmentalists. The decade between Rio and Johannesburg has seen the almost complete failure of the Rio Earth Summit and its Agenda 21 to produce meaningful results. This has highlighted the weaknesses of global environmental summitry.

Second, the U.S. refusal to ratify the Kyoto Protocol and the Convention on Biological Diversity?the two main conventions evolving out of Rio?has raised questions about the capacity of capitalism to address the world environmental crisis. The United States, as the hegemonic power of the capitalist system, further signaled its rejection of global environmental reform by announcing that President Bush would not be attending the Johannesburg summit.

Third, both the rapid globalization of the neoliberal agenda in the 1990s and the emergence of a massive antiglobalization movement in Seattle in November 1999 have highlighted the system?s antagonism toward all attempts to promote economic and environmental justice.

Fourth, the World Summit on Sustainable Development is occurring in a period of economic and financial crisis that bodes ill for those concerned with the issues of the environment and third world development. The capitalist world economy as a whole is experiencing global recession. Hardest hit are the countries of the global South, which-- thanks to neoliberal globalization -- are caught in worsening economic crises over which they have less and less control.

Fifth, we are witnessing the growth of a new virulent wave of imperialism as the United States has begun a world war on terrorism in response to the events of September 11, 2001. This is taking the form of U.S. military interventions not only in Afghanistan but also potentially against Iraq, along with stepped-up U.S. military activities in locations throughout the third world. Under these circumstances, war is likely to trump the environment.

Sixth, South Africa, which nearly ten years ago became a symbol of human freedom with the overthrow of apartheid, was chosen mainly for that reason as the site of the second earth summit. It has now come to symbolize for many something quite different: the rapacious growth of neoliberalism and the refusal to address major environmental and social crises.

Posted by Richard
1/05/2003 12:40:24 PM | PermaLink

Blacklist Grounds American Passengers

This essay describes an amazing prevention and interrogation of a leading Green party member and confirms what I have been hearing from others on the web -- that Greens and animal rights activists are increasingly being targeted as "terrorists" and treated as such in the public sector. Interesting reading...

Blacklist Grounds American Passengers

Under the rubric of airline security, the US government has established a No-Fly List to harass, frustrate, delay, and forbid the travel of more than 1,000 citizens. Will you be added to the List?
By Frederick Sweet

Posted by Richard
1/05/2003 12:28:13 PM | PermaLink