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Saturday, April 26, 2003

SARS Epidemic Caused by Eating Meat?

Personally, I'm not unconvinced as of yet that SARS isn't a biowar creation that has escaped from a lab (Chinese, American, you figure). Regardless, though, this page from PETA makes the important point that SARS (if it is natural) is one of a long line of diseases that arise from animal farming -- a practice that has deleterious effects for the animals in particular (they are slaughtered by the millions) once bacteria and viruses arising from it start killing humans...think Mad Cow, Avian Flu, and Newcastle Disease (e.g.). According to PETA, SARS "coronavirus in animals may be associated with the 'shipping fever' pigs and cattle get when they are stressed by the crowded transport situations they are in when they are sent to feedlots before slaughter."

Posted by Richard
4/26/2003 09:09:26 AM | PermaLink

Animal Rights Activists Protest Against UCLA Researchers

Protesters targeted six UCLA scientists, who conduct research on primates and other animals, in this week's events organized by the UCLA Students for Animal Liberation.

The demonstrations, which were part of the annual World Week for Animals in Laboratories, included protests on campus as well as at the homes of the animal researchers.

Established in 1986, World Week for Animals in Laboratories was designed to expose the plight of animals designated for laboratory testing and to educate the public on the moral, scientific, and economic objections to the practice.

Full story: http://www.dailybruin.ucla.edu/news/articles.asp?id=24030

Also see the UCLA Primate Freedom Project for more on this issue and profiles of some of the alleged researchers in question.

Posted by Richard
4/26/2003 08:46:48 AM | PermaLink

Not Left, Not Right, Not Center: Where in the World is Howard Dean?

Ecosocialism is looking into the Howard Dean question -- how liberal is he, and what does it mean to be liberal anyway in an age of neocon neoliberalism? Over the ES mailing list came this Dean damning CounterPunch article this morning: Meet Howard Dean: The Man from Vermont is Not Green (He's Not Even a Liberal).

Personally, while I am not a fan and don't buy the schtick, I think that Dean's attempt to resurrect the Wellstone public moral hardline can't be a bad thing for a Democratic party that has such limp gonads as Lieberman, Gephardt, and Kerry trying to lead a ticket surrounded by an aggressive Bush neoliberalism on the one side and an all smiles "I'm okay, you're okay" Clinton/Gore neoliberalism on the other. Regardless, it appears business as usual for the Dems according to this formula and so Gov. Dean's "moral rage" is helpful even if it's only a strategic rabbit's race to ignite a little social fire for the eventual humdrum so and so. But for would be Greens to be proposing, as I have heard, that Dean should run the ticket for them, is just misinformed and noxious. This guy ain't Green and he ain't no Paul Wellstone either. As he himself proclaims, Dean is a "social liberal and a fiscal conservative." Read, modern republicrat.

If I could offer one word of advice to the Governor, what would it be?

You appear to want to impress people with your hard stance on race issues in the country, okay -- that's sound. But, please, please, please, stop playing to Southern black voters by framing American race relations as "white vs. black." This isn't 1940 -- and it wasn't true back then either -- just ask the Asian Americans sent to the concentration camps. We have an American Indian population that has never received the due deserving of them, a Latino/Chicano class that is the fastest rising population in the country according to many polls, and a wealth of minority cultures eeking out livings in the great melting pot. I realize that this may be news to you in Vermont, but as you're not really a Vermonter anyhow, I'd expect you to know this and address race as such. If race is your card, Gov. Dean, play it with some intelligence and complexity and not just for a targeted vote.

Posted by Richard
4/26/2003 08:39:18 AM | PermaLink

Second Nature: Improving Transportation Without Putting Nature Second

The Defenders of Wildlife and the Surface Transportation Policy Project have released a joint report on the relationships between development patterns, transportation, and wildlife habitats.

See: http://www.defenders.org/habitat/highways/secondnature.html
The United States is approaching a crossroads — unimpeded urbanization may soon collide with the limits of our country’s natural resources. The rate of this urbanization surpasses population growth, and threatens to overwhelm previous victories in environmental protection. Biological diversity — the rich variety of natural species that forms our natural life support system — is in jeopardy.

Because transportation infrastructure necessarily precedes development, current transportation planning will shape future urban growth. But mobility does not have to come at the expense of biodiversity. Second Nature: Improving Transportation Without Putting Nature Second profiles innovative programs that seek to improve transportation infrastructure while protecting biodiversity.

Click here to view the entire report (80 pages, Acrobat Format)
Some Recommendations:

1. Integrate conservation planning into transportation planning.
2. Use conservation banking in concert with large-scale conservation plans to mitigate unavoidable impacts of transportation.
3. Coordinate with resource agencies early, substantively and continuously throughout transportation planning and project development.
4. Build wildlife crossings where necessary to repair ecological damage and restore habitat connectivity.
5. Provide alternative transportation and maintain roads on public lands in a manner consistent with surrounding natural resources.
6. Use only native species in roadside vegetation management.

Posted by Richard
4/26/2003 07:51:13 AM | PermaLink

 
Friday, April 25, 2003

The Birds, the Lulling Forest Breeze, and the Engine Roar of the ATVs: Welcome to Your National Wilderness

With the war on Iraq in full force, many smaller rulings by the Bush administration passed sight unseen by the American public -- the opening of the American wilderness to polluting off-road, all-terrain vehicles was one of them:
Parklands debate keeps trekking

By Tom Kenworthy, USA TODAY

When the Bush administration lifted a ban on snowmobiling in Yellowstone National Park last month, it handed an important victory to a growing number of Americans who like to savor the nation's vast public parks, forests and waterways atop machines.

The March 25 decision by the National Park Service reversed a 2001 plan from the Clinton administration to bar snowmobiles from parks. The Clinton plan followed years of study of noise, air pollution and the effect snowmobiles had on wildlife in the nation's oldest national park and its neighbor, Grand Teton National Park.

The policy reversal was more than a victory for thousands of snowmobilers who roar along the parks' roads in winter, however. It marks a turning point in a cultural war over how Americans use tens of millions of acres of national parks, forests, ranges and recreation areas. On one side are those who want to ride snowmobiles, dirt bikes and Jet Skis. On the other are those who would rather hike, ski or sail without noise and pollution.

''It's NASCAR vs. Patagonia,'' says Michael Scott, executive director of the Greater Yellowstone Coalition, a conservationist group in Montana that spearheaded the losing fight to keep snowmobiles out of Yellowstone.

And NASCAR is winning. Although the snowmobile decision is the highest-profile signal that the trend of restricting access to off-road vehicles is over, it's not the only one.

*In California, the federal Bureau of Land Management has moved to reverse a Clinton administration plan that would have put about 50,000 acres of the Imperial Sand Dunes Recreation Area off-limits to off-road vehicles. The move comes despite concerns that rare plants have been damaged and gatherings of off-roaders have sometimes turned violent.

*In Montana, the Forest Service has proposed a back-country transportation plan for motorized travel in the Lewis and Clark National Forest that outfitters and environmentalists claim would alter the pristine character of the wildlife-rich Rocky Mountain Front.

*The National Park Service is drawing up plans to allow some personal watercraft such as Jet Skis in several recreation areas on western lakes and eastern seashores. That reverses a trend under Clinton to limit or bar their use.

*Through an arcane rules change, the Bush administration has made it easier for local and state authorities to claim rights-of-way through millions of acres of federal land, potentially opening vast areas to off-road vehicle use.
Read more at: http://www.usatoday.com/usatonline/20030425/5104135s.htm

Posted by Richard
4/25/2003 08:41:34 AM | PermaLink

A Case Study in the Global Destruction of an Environment: Iraq (1980-present)

A new report by the United Nations Environment Programme on environmental conditions in Iraq offers a preliminary assessment of the main environmental threats facing the country and recommends actions for immediate relief and long-term recovery.
Download the full report (PDF, 7MB) or in low resolution (PDF, 2.2MB)
The report stresses the need for urgent measures to address humanitarian issues. Priorities should include restoring the water supply and sanitation systems, cleaning-up possible pollution ‘hot spots’ and cleaning-up waste sites to reduce the risk of disease epidemics from accumulated municipal and medical wastes.

Another priority activity should be conducting a scientific assessment of sites struck with weapons containing depleted uranium (DU). The report recommends that guidelines be distributed immediately to military and civilian personnel, and to the general public, on how to minimize the risk of accidental exposure to DU.

“Environmental protection is a humanitarian issue,” said UNEP Executive Director Klaus Toepfer. “Not only do environmental hazards threaten human health and well-being, but they can impede aid operations.”

Additional action is needed to integrate environmental protection into the wider post-conflict clean-up and reconstruction process. Recommendations include conducting environmental impact assessments, using environmentally friendly technologies for major reconstruction projects and maximizing the exchange of information between key stakeholders to avoid accidental further risks to human health and the environment.

“Many environmental problems in Iraq are so alarming that an immediate assessment and a clean-up plan are needed urgently. The environment must be fully integrated into all reconstruction plans if the country is to achieve a strong and sustainable recovery,” said Pekka Haavisto, the Study Chairman.

UNEP’s report on the environmental situation in Iraq was initiated at a humanitarian meeting convened in Geneva in February 2003 by the government of Switzerland, which has also financed the present report. Since then, UNEP’s proposal for conducting a full-scale assessment in Iraq has been included within the United Nations Office for Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) Flash Appeal for the Humanitarian Requirements of the Iraq Crisis, launched on 28 March 2003.

The report also calls for building the knowledge base for tackling chronic environmental problems. National and international expertise should be assembled for conducting further studies, including field missions and data gathering. Priority issues could include hazardous waste and emissions, water-resource management, ecosystems (especially the Mesopotamian Marshlands) and depleted uranium.

There is also a need for building strong national institutions and capacities for long-term environmental management. The environment must be treated as a priority issue in the development of democratic governance and institutional structures. Working within a UN framework, national and international experts should be engaged in defining the institutional, legislative, capacity building and resource needs for effective and sustainable environmental management. Iraq’s accession to key environmental treaties should be supported.

The UNEP report concludes that the current Iraq conflict has undoubtedly added to the chronic environmental stresses that have accumulated in Iraq over the past two decades. The country’s environment shows severe damage from the Iran-Iraq war of the 1980s, the 1991 Gulf War, environmental mismanagement by the former Iraqi regime and the economic impact of sanctions.

A major threat to the Iraqi people is the accumulation of physical damage to the country’s environmental infrastructure. In particular, the destruction of, and lack of investment in, water and sanitation systems has led to higher levels of pollution and health risks.

On top of this, continuous electricity cuts have often stopped the pumps that remove sewage and circulate freshwater. Power outages have also affected the pumps that remove saline water from irrigated lands in the southern floodplain, leading to widespread water logging and salinization.

The destruction of military and industrial infrastructure during Iraq’s various conflicts has released heavy metals and other hazardous substances into the air, soil, and freshwater supplies. An assessment of the country’s chemical risks and levels of environmental contamination, however, has yet to be conducted.

Smoke from the oil-well fires and burning oil-trenches during the past two months has caused local air pollution and soil contamination. The lack of investment in the oil industry in recent years has reduced maintenance and raised the risk of leaks and spills.

Heavy bombing and the movement of large numbers of military vehicles and troops have further degraded natural and agricultural ecosystems. When the desert’s hard-packed surface is disturbed, the underlying sand is exposed and often erodes or blows away. Meanwhile, transboundary pollution and a lack of river basin management have led to the degradation of Iraq’s major waterways.

The intensive use of DU weapons has likely caused environmental contamination of as yet unknown levels or consequences. Conducting a DU study would require receiving precise coordinates of the targeted sites from the military. Iraq’s multiple military conflicts have also resulted in large and widespread quantities of military debris, including unexploded ordnance.

The UNEP Desk Study on Environment in Iraq was prepared by UNEP’s Post Conflict Assessment Unit as a contribution to international efforts to provide humanitarian assistance to Iraq. It provides a rapid overview on the basis of published and on-line information sources, drawing heavily on media reports and military briefings for the most recent conflict.

Note to journalists: The Desk Study is available in English at postconflict.unep.ch. For more information, please contact Eric Falt at +254-2-62-3292, +254-733-682656 (cell) or eric.falt@unep.org; Nick Nuttall at +254-2-62-3084, +254-733-632755 (cell) or nick.nuttall@unep.org; or Michael Williams at +41-22-917-8242/8196/8244, +41-79-409-1528 (cell) or michael.williams@unep.ch.

Posted by Richard
4/25/2003 07:42:44 AM | PermaLink

 
Thursday, April 24, 2003

Arctic Drilling: Why Does This Keep Resurfacing?

Opensecrets.org gives the economic skinny on the politics behind this issue:

1) Oil and gas industries donating nearly $22 million,
2) A lobby group set up by the state of Alaska to get the job done in Washington D.C., and
3) Via the lobby, a connection with the International Teamsters Union who are exerting pressure at the level of labor.

Here is the research on the issue.

Posted by Richard
4/24/2003 06:08:18 PM | PermaLink

Many Dead Tigers Are Found at Big Cat 'Retirement Home'

This disturbing story sent in by Jessica:

On his Web site, John Weinhart bills himself as running a retirement home for big cats once used by the entertainment industry. But what officials found at his home in rural Riverside County this week was more like a mortuary.

On Tuesday, the authorities from the State Department of Fish and Game found some 30 dead animals on his property - most of them large cats like tigers - with 58 cubs also dead in a freezer. Among the living, they found 11 baby cats - nine tigers and two leopards - estimated to be just 10 to 14 days old in a crawl space and another two young tigers outside. In the bathtub were two reptiles, identified as alligators.

"It was like walking through the a Hollywood set for a high budget horror movie," said Charles F. Traisi, manager of Fund for Animals, a wildlife rehabilitation center in San Diego, which took possession of the young cats. "There was no way to walk around the property without walking through animal feces or on the bones and remains of dead animals. The filth was everywhere."

Mr. Weinhart, 60, was arrested along with his wife, Marla Smith, 47, and charged with child endangerment, said Sgt. Shelley Kennedy-Smith, a spokeswoman for the Riverside County Sheriff's Department. Their son, 8, who was not identified, was taken into the custody by child welfare officials.

"The child was living in the conditions with those wild animals," Sergeant Kennedy-Smith said.

A veterinarian, Wendelin Ringel, 40, was also arrested and charged with cruelty to animals. All three posted bail and have been released, Sergeant Kennedy-Smith said.

It had not been determined why the animals were at his home, about 60 miles east of Los Angeles, rather than at Tiger Rescue, a nonprofit sanctuary he operates in nearby Colton, Calif. There was no reply to messages left at Tiger Rescue.

But on his Web site he says he has been rescuing cats used in movies, television and other entertainment productions for more than 30 years. For much of that time, the animals were kept at his private residence, where the animals were found on Tuesday. But as the land around his home developed, he said, he was forced to move the animals and found a new home in Colton.

City officials in Colton said they had experienced no problems with Mr. Weinhart's operation. But last November, the State Department of Fish and Game along with the United States Department of Agriculture investigated the sanctuary and seized 10 tiger cubs from the site because they lacked proper documentation.

In that case, Mr. Weinhart has been charged with 14 misdemeanors, including breeding without a permit. While he has a permit for keeping tigers and other big cats, he is not allowed to breed them.

Though it is unclear what the baby cats might have been being used for, Mr. Traisi of the Fund for Animals said: "One thing that is necessary for these operations is to have babies. Baby wild animals give the public warm feelings and it's the warm feeling that makes the public open up its wallet."

Mr. Traisi said it appeared that the older animals had been taken from the sanctuary when they were no longer appealing to the public and were left to die at the residence raided on Tuesday.

"It was disgusting," he said. "Some of the carcasses had ropes tied around their legs and then tied to abandoned cars."

The Humane Society of the United States estimates that 10,000 big cats live with private owners in the nation, and about half are tigers.

In an interview with The Associated Press after the arrests of Mr. Weinhart and his wife, a spokesman at Tiger Rescue said the animals were being properly cared for. "We don't feel we've done anything wrong," said the spokesman, Steve Jeffries. "We have enough food, water and shelter for all the cats."

By Barbara Whitaker
At: New York Times


Posted by Richard
4/24/2003 08:45:10 AM | PermaLink

Bush Stimulus Package

This animation by Mark Fiore depicts the Bush plan to save America through the occupation of the country by HUM-Vees. Some funny images in this one, which I won't spoil. An unexpected ending too...
At: http://www.markfiore.com/animation/stimulus.html

Posted by Richard
4/24/2003 08:37:29 AM | PermaLink

 
Wednesday, April 23, 2003

Venezuela Plunges into Urban Agriculture

In a conference room at Venezuela's military academy, a group of soldiers listen attentively to a duo of Cuban instructors. The topic being taught is not revolutionary guerrilla warfare as once practiced by Fidel Castro or "Che" Guevara, but the "organoponic farming revolution," communist Cuba's latest export to its closest South American ally, Venezuela. Organoponic gardening, a system of concentrated, organic urban vegetable cultivation, is taking root in central Caracas amid the piles of garbage, bands of homeless beggars, and tens of thousands of vehicles belching out polluting gas fumes. Inspired by Cuba's system of urban market gardens, which has been operating for several years, left-wing President Hugo Chavez has ordered the creation of similar intensive city plots across Venezuela in a bid to develop food self-sufficiency in the world's No. 5 oil exporter. "Let's sow our cities with organic, hydroponic mini-gardens," said the populist former paratrooper, who survived a brief coup a year ago and also toughed out a crippling opposition strike in December and January. Inside Fuerte Tiuna military headquarters, soldiers of the crack Ayala armored battalion supervised by Cuban instructors have swapped their rifles for shovels and hoes to tend neat rows of lettuce, tomatoes, carrots, coriander, and parsley. Since his election in late 1998, Chavez has drafted the armed forces to serve his self-styled "revolution" in a range of social projects, from providing medical services to running low-cost food markets for the poor.

At: http://www.enn.com/news/2003-04-22/s_3912.asp

Posted by Richard
4/23/2003 12:06:21 PM | PermaLink

Nearly All 60,000 Children Polled Ask, "How Can I Help?"

The American Zoo and Aquarium Association (AZA) has released the findings of a huge poll of children:
Key findings from "Aza's Poll for the Planet" include:
-- 67 percent of respondents age 6-8 believe that kids are taking care of wildlife
-- 82 percent of respondents age 6-8 believe volunteers are taking care of wildlife. As respondents age, their confidence in volunteerism grows (ages 9-12 = 83 percent; 13-17 = 87 percent)
-- 95 percent of respondents age 6-8 want to know, "How I can help?"
These findings are important, as the Bush administration marginalizes environmental education, and as environmental education itself turns into little more than a subset of science and citizenship ed. The hope lies with the children and all educational efforts should be directed there if we are serious about the future of the planet.


It is to be expected, but I am disturbed that the findings of this poll were delivered by a very co-opted Sen. Bill Bradley, who used the opportunity to promote the AZA as the sort of set of American institutions on the front line of providing the type of youth education that is necessary for an ecologically-balanced world. Unfortunately, while I might accept that zoos and aquariums provide some temporary support for conservation and preservation agendas, I cannot take such a naive and optimistic view as Sen. Bradley in the end. The brute fact is that zoos and aquariums arose out of a culture based upon imperialism, colonization, and degradation of "otherness." Historically, they coincide with the circus and other cultural spaces for the collection of oddities and wonders of the world (prizes won and conquered through plunder and national expansion). In very recent times, zoos and aquariums have spun off and attempted to redefine themselves as places of preservation and research -- places children can come to learn about the beauty of species and ecological relationship.

Overall, however, the larger questions need to be asked: for every San Diego Zoo or Monterey Bay Aquarium, how many others are created and instantiated as normal which provide exploitative and deplorable conditions for the animals therein? How many zoos and aquariums currently operate, with the full knowledge of the AZA, which sell little more than the Slaughterhouse Five effect of the capitalization, militarization, analyzation and isolation of species? Finally, even in the benchmark zoos and aquariums -- we might ask: are these conditions anything more than simulations of a wilderness being denied these animals, simulations that provide a soft-sell to children and the public that the animals are happy, well-off, and that the Earth is okay?

Posted by Richard
4/23/2003 08:38:01 AM | PermaLink

Critics Bash Bush on Earth Day

Bush should be ashamed that he even had the gaul to make a statement about his environmentalism yesterday (a new tradition amongst presidents apparently -- to use Earth Day as a press op.). His record is SO BAD, if not the worst (it's hard to say "worst" when you have presidents who were exploding atomic weapons brazenly upon the face of the Earth), that he should just have ignored Earth Day as he ignores the Earth every other day of the year.

The following article is misguided in one respect, however: it sells a vision by a variety of NGOs and related environmental organizations in which the world is made a beautiful, healthy, and harmonious place to live through the exercise of environmental rules and regulations. This I wholeheartedly reject -- as long as we rely upon the governments of nations (or inter-national federations) to create a better world, such a world will be a long time a-comin'. The norm of law is useful, and for now necessary, but it is not sufficient. People must educate themselves and equip themselves to realize that laws are creations and that the people are their creators. The stuff of law must be given back to the vox populi and so become a living testament. But, from an environmental standpoint, this will mean that people must not only become informed and knowledgeable as to the ecology of place and the wonder of being, but that this new knowledge must affect a transformation in their own behavior as citizens on these matters too. Or, whereas people are now consumers, for a better world, they must become citizens!

This means creating a new type of social norm, a different way of living in the world. "Utopia!" you scoff. "Dystopia!" I proclaim as evident. Between the two, though, there is so much room to move, so much work to be done, so many places to put the foundations beneath our dreams.
The Bush administration is orchestrating an unprecedented assault on the nation's environmental laws and is allowing corporate interests to plunder America's natural resources, leaders of a dozen major environmental organizations told reporters today at an Earth Day press conference in Washington, DC.

The nation's biodiversity, wild lands, clean air, clean water and protection from harmful toxic waste are all threatened by the administration's policies, the environmentalists say, and the consequences could be severe.

"Our message for this Earth Day is clear - behind closed doors and out of public view, the Bush administration is letting big corporations rewrite and weaken our environmental laws so they can pollute our air and poison our water, cut down our national forests and make taxpayers, rather than polluters, pay to clean up toxic wastes," said Gene Karpinski, executive director of U.S. Public Interest Research Group (PIRG).

The organizations say the Bush administration is pushing through radical reforms of key environmental protections, even as it celebrates what these laws have accomplished. It is starving federal agencies of adequate funding to enforce existing laws, they say, and shifting the burden of environmental protection and conservation onto financially strapped state and local governments.

"We can ensure clean water, healthy air, safe communities and splendid natural resources," said Brent Blackwelder, president of Friends of the Earth. "But unfortunately, the programs that meet these goals are dying a slow death under a Bush administration that has starved them of the funding they need."
Read the whole article by J.R. Pegg: http://ens-news.com/ens/apr2003/2003-04-22-11.asp

Posted by Richard
4/23/2003 08:09:47 AM | PermaLink

 
Tuesday, April 22, 2003

Earth Day 2003

Environmentally-conscious people around the world will take action on Earth Day, April 22, 2003, to protect the planet we all share. Earthday Resources provides you with information about nearby Earth Day events and helps Earth Day organizers and participants share their campaigns to protect our world. If an event idea catches your eye, contact the organization listed, get more information, and get involved with that group or bring their ideas to your community.

Help to keep Earth Day a day of education and activism, free from polluters using the day to hide their harmful impacts on our environment. Help others improve the health of our world by sharing tips on sustainable living with your friends and family. Educate, inspire and act.

To find an event near you, goto EarthdayResources.org. You will find information regarding the event, organizers and sponsors. If you see a company at an event, be sure to talk to them about their environmental record.

Click here for 10 steps to ask businesses to support. By signing these steps, companies demonstrate a true commitment to the environment. If the company will not sign the pledge, this may indicate that they are using the Earth Day event to mask their destructive environmental records and policies.

Posted by Richard
4/22/2003 01:51:45 PM | PermaLink

Thanks for the Plug...

Much vegan love to Will Femia for the extended plug for this blog in his MSNBC Blog Central. Funny that the ecology side got played up to the detriment of the vegan, however...

Oh well, what do you want from playing w/ the mainstream... :)

Also, thanks for previous week's linkage to the BlogLeft, as an example of what a blog critical of Iraqi war is all about.

Finally, do I have this right? Has BlogLeft been given an endorsement by the Russian Communist Party, along with Indymedia and a few other progressive media sources? One to log in my who woulda thunk it file...

Strangely, but truthfully,
Richard

Posted by Richard
4/22/2003 01:44:45 PM | PermaLink

Bush Administration Asks Congress to Scrap Ban on 'Mini' Nukes

With the elections on the way, here is another benchmark opportunity for Democratic hopefuls and their party to show that they're still the people's party -- no allowance of the development of mini-nukes and no monies toward nuclear military research, period. The article below claims that Bush hawks want the weapon so that they can use it to explode deeply buried caches of WMD -- like the kind they can't find of Saddam Hussein's? This is a brilliant strategy except for two reasons -- 1) highly respected scientists have already come out against the plan time and again declaring that such weapons would release nuclear contamination outside the hole and so the notion that these are "contained" and "controlled" explosions is nonsense. These are nuclear explosions pure and simple -- just small ones; and 2) using weapons to blow up caches of WMD -- like was done in the 1991 Gulf War -- created one of the great war environmental and civic disasters of all time, with Iraq turned into a toxic wasteland. Radiation was detected floating about as far south as the Saudi border. In fact, a lot of what Gulf War Syndrome may have been was exposure to WMD exploded by the US in the bombing campaigns. So this is a dumb plan created by people whose job is to think up ways to blow things up and little more -- well, power lunches too. Our job, however -- and what used to be the Dems job -- is to democratically put them in their proper place and not let them bully their way into the choice seat at the table...
The administration of U.S. President George Bush has asked Congress to repeal its 1993 ban on developing low-yield nuclear arms, according to congressional sources.

The Bush administration is seeking to include in the fiscal 2004 defense authorization bill the abandonment of the ban and substantial funds for research on such "mini nukes," the sources said.

At stake is a 1993 law provision introduced by two Democrats in the House of Representatives — Elizabeth Furse and John Spratt.

The Furse-Spratt provision prohibits research and development that could lead to the production of nuclear weapons with an explosive yield of less than 5 kilotons.

In a document presented to Congress in February with a draft of the fiscal 2004 defense authorization bill, the Bush administration argued the 1993 ban needed to be repealed.

The provision "has negatively affected U.S. government efforts to support the national strategy to counter weapons of mass destruction and undercuts efforts that could strengthen our ability to deter, or respond to, new or emerging threats," said the document made available for Kyodo News.

One possible use for such nuclear weapons is to destroy other weapons of mass destruction buried at great depths.

The Defense Department submitted the document to the armed services committees of both chambers to explain the administration's rationale for wanting to scrap the 1993 ban.

The document said a revitalized nuclear arms development effort is essential to "train the next generation of nuclear weapons scientists and engineers" and to "restore a nuclear arms enterprise able to respond rapidly and decisively to changes in the international security environment."

The 1993 ban also runs counter to the congressionally mandated Nuclear Posture Review report in 2002, which called for the exploration of nuclear weapons with greater capabilities for precision and earth penetration with reduced collateral damage, the document said.

In February, the House Policy Committee of the Republican Party compiled a report urging Congress to consider repealing the 1993 ban to pave the way for developing low-yield nuclear weapons.

But Democrats strongly oppose abandoning the ban.

Developing low-yield nuclear weapons would lower the boundary between conventional and nuclear weapons. It might also open the way for the United States to resume nuclear tests. (Kyodo News)

From: http://www.japantoday.com/e/?content=news&cat=8&id=257296

Posted by Richard
4/22/2003 09:26:16 AM | PermaLink

Bush's War Against Nature

Three years ago, in April of 2000, President Bill Clinton created the Giant Sequoia National Monument in the southern Sierra Nevada, 250 miles east of here. The declaration was meant to protect a forest that includes the world's oldest and biggest trees - a place that had been a battleground for a century.

Ever since John Muir trekked in the Sierra, conservationists had fought to protect the Sequoia, battling timber companies that saw the ancient giants as so much standing lumber. Clinton's move seemed to put an end to the fight - it mandated that commercial logging in the forest would cease.

Late last year the Bush administration re-ignited hostilities by proposing a plan to allow widespread logging in the Monument, home to nearly half of the remaining groves of Sequoia.

U.S. Forest Service chief Dale Bosworth, the Bush administration appointee who oversees the Monument, claimed that the logging plan was primarily designed to protect the big trees. Thinning the forest, Bosworth said, would lessen the risk of fire, and a local sawmill would be able to market wood that would otherwise eventually burn.

Environmentalists countered that the idea of logging the forest to save it was absurd, and that one sawmill was not worth the ecological price of cutting into the ancient forest.

But the plan to log in the Giant Sequoia National Monument isn't just about wood, any more than the war in Iraq is just about oil. And it isn't about saving the trees, any more than Operation Iraqi Freedom is really about liberating the citizens of Iraq.

Just as Gulf War II represents an aggressive shift in U.S. foreign policy, the logging plan in the Sierra is part of a massive assault on a budding environmental ethic that dates back to the first Earth Day, April 20, 1970.

The Sequoia logging plan is included in a Bush administration proposal called the "Healthy Forests Initiative." The proposal would effectively allow loggers back into 10 million acres of woods they have been locked out of by three decades of regulations. In order to do so, the Initiative undercuts the two cornerstones of forest protection law: the National Environmental Protection Act and the National Forest Management Act.

The Bush team says the Healthy Forests Initiative is intended to protect fire-prone forests. Environmentalists and scientists see the Initiative as a cynical ploy - one front in a broadly aggressive campaign to rewrite the nation's environmental law books.

From the beginning, George Bush showed that green was not one of his true colors. His appointees in the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the departments of Interior, Agriculture, and Energy were as hawkish as their cabinet colleagues in Defense and State. Even as the war in Iraq was being waged, the president's hand-picked departmental heads - Ann Vedemen, Christie Todd Whitman, et al - have engaged in a domestic war on the side of timber companies and oil companies, factory owners and car-builders, nuclear-power plants and land developers.

This War Isn't Over

Over the past three years, the Bush administration's anti-environment army has practiced the same brand of warfare America has been watching on TV for the past three weeks: a series of rhetorical air strikes followed by ground attacks in the courts and bureaucratic strongholds, taking one chunk of territory after another.

But the nation's environmental groups have not crumbled like the Republican Guard, and this war is not over.

The Bush army has failed in its efforts to weaken Clean Water Act restrictions on arsenic, to drill for oil off the coast of California, and to move a massive industrial outpost into the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge. These were big victories for the environment. But there have been devastating defeats.

The EPA - in charge of enforcing environmental laws - has been the site of the most thorough-going turnaround. A few recent actions: In January, the EPA exempted the oil and gas industry from water pollution rules. Last month, the agency decided cities could not be held responsible for their toxic runoff. There is a move currently underway to loosen rules mandating that chemical plants, automobile factories and steel mills cut their emissions of air pollution.

(The EPA is, however, still being too aggressive for the Bush administration. The Office of Management and Budget has targeted the agency for "review" in an overall move to reduce regulatory constraints placed on industry.)

Other federal agencies have joined in the pile-on. Agriculture has certified Mexican tuna "dolphin safe," when it is a well-known fact that fishing practices in Mexican waters are killing dolphins. The Department of Defense has OK'd a Navy plan to test sonar that is known to cause brain hemorrhages in whales.

Over in the Department of Energy, the Bush administration's plan - notorious for having been written in secret by Dick Cheney and a cabal of corporate executives - contains a blueprint for drilling, mining, and the re-ignition of nuclear power. This plan stems from the administration's refusal to believe in the frightening fact of global warming - a belief which has scientists the world over calling for the development of alternative sources of energy.

Meanwhile, in the Giant Sequoia National Monument, a verdant island surrounded by clearcut-scarred National Forest land, the "Healthy Forests Initiative" calls for more chainsaws.

Are Trees Evil?

If the Sequoia falls like that statue of Saddam, it will be equally symbolic. But what will it mean? Saddam was a convenient enemy for a nation bent on expanding its power - but he was also a truly nasty piece of work. With the logging of the Sequoia, what evil is being banished?

Despite the Bush team's innocent claims, the enemy is not wildfire. To believe that, one would have to accept the premise that forests need loggers in order to thrive. One look at the clearcut lands surrounding the Giant Sequoia Monument - where mud-choked streams flow through stumpfields - puts the lie to that idea.

But one needn't take a trip to the redwoods to discern the Bush administration's intent. It is evident in the workings of the Initiative itself.

To achieve its prescription, the Healthy Forests Initiative does one fundamentally important thing: It limits citizens' rights to appeal Forest Service decisions. The idea, according to the Bush administration doctrine, is to allow "professional forest managers to make decisions without interference from 'special interest groups.'"

This is the real enemy: environmentalists and the ethic that guides them.

One of this war's chief strategic thinkers, anti-environmentalist crusader Ron Arnold, posed the challenge in his book, "A Wolf in the Garden : The Land Rights Movement and the New Environmental Debate":

"Today the Wolf is firmly entrenched in Washington, D. C., where important environmental groups have established headquarters or major operating bases. Eco-ideologists have written many laws, tested them in the courts and pressured many administrative agencies into compliance with their ideology. They have, in brief, become the Establishment. The apparatus of environmentalism is no longer represented merely by non-profit organizations, but has grown to encompass American government at all levels.

"Who will restrain America's science and technology? Who will decide what "delicate balance humans must observe"? The answer was clear: only environmental ideologists, and not those who create economic growth, science, technology or the market economy."

This is where the War in Iraq and this other war, being waged practically in secret, show their shared heritage.

With its apparent "victory" in Iraq, the Bush administration has effectively ended a brief era during which international law - represented by the faltering steps of the United Nations - played an important, if limited role. By asserting dominance over this law, Bush, Dick Cheney, and their warlords (Rumsfeld, Wolfowitz, Powell, and the like) have asserted the supremacy of American (corporate) interests against those of the Arab world and against those of the wider world community.

This other war asserts an even deeper arrogance.

In Bush's war against the environment, the nature ethic is not collateral damage. This ethic and these principals are indeed the targets of these policies - of these wars.

In its place, the Bush administration would put a policy of dominion. George Bush's anti-environment crusade, his war against nature, is rooted in the belief that, just as the world must bow before American military might, nature itself must be subservient to corporate man and his rapacious greed for dominion. It is meant to be a message to the world, a challenge: We will do as we please.

The world has yet to answer that challenge.

By Eric Johnson, editor of Coast Weekly http://www.coastweekly.com/>
Courtesy: Alternet http://www.alternet.org/story.html?StoryID=15672


Posted by Richard
4/22/2003 09:03:43 AM | PermaLink

 
Monday, April 21, 2003

Fur Farming Legislation - US and Europe

Many European countries have taken steps to stop fur farming.  These governments recognize that fur animals have only been in captivity for a few decades and that they have not yet become domesticated.

Keeping genetically wild animals in intensive confinement causes severe welfare problems.  These problems are demonstrated through self mutilation, cannibalism and sterotype movements.

Austria- Seven of nine Austrian states have completely banned fur farming, the other two have made fur farming economically impossible with laws banning the keeping of fur animals in cages, requiring swimming water for mink, etc.

Sweden- Fox farming is no longer economically viable in Sweden as a law went into effect that banned the keeping of foxes in cages.  All fox farms in the country closed.  Similar regulations may soon go into effect for chinchilla and mink farms.

Holland- The Netherlands have a ban on both fox and chinchilla farming which goes into effect after a phase out period. Holland still has a lot of mink farms.  The mink issue has been heavily debated at the highest levels of government, and in the near future a ban may occur.

Switzerland- The Swiss have banned the keeping of animals in intensive confinement, which has made fur farming unprofitable.  There are no more fur farms in Switzerland.

Great Britain and Wales- banned fur farming completely.

Scotland- banned fur farming completely.

Northern Ireland- banned fur farming completely.

New Zealand- Allows fur farming of ferrets (between 2 and 5 farms exist in the entire country) but prohibits import of mink.  This effectively bans mink farming in New Zealand.

Italy- As of 2008 all mink farms must allow swimming water, more space, and pens on the ground.  This may lead to the closure of all Italian mink farms, as happened with Swedish fox farms.

USA- No states have banned fur farming, but some states prohibit keeping foxes in captivity because of concerns about disease transmission to native wildlife.  California has housing requirements for mink and fox that make fur farming of these species cost prohibitive.



Posted by Richard
4/21/2003 10:32:22 AM | PermaLink

Bush Keeps Reshaping Environmental Policy

The Bush administration is quietly reshaping environmental policy to enhance logging and other development by settling a series of lawsuits, many of them filed by industry groups. As a result of settlements, the administration has announced plans to remove wilderness protections for millions of acres in Utah, has agreed to review protections for endangered species such as salmon and the northern spotted owl, has reversed a Clinton-era ban on snowmobiles in Yellowstone and Grand Teton national parks and has softened rules on logging. None of the decisions was subject to prior public comment or congressional approval. (04/21/03) MSNBC
http://www.msnbc.com/news/902200.asp

Gov. Murkowski seeks historic trails accord (04/20/03) Anchorage Daily News
http://www.adn.com/alaska/story/2975464p-3009189c.html

Agency may seek time in protecting 24 species (04/19/03) Seattle Times
http://archives.seattletimes.nwsource.com/cgi-bin/texis.cgi/web/vortex/display?slug=species19&date=20030419

Courtesy: the morningTide

Posted by Richard
4/21/2003 10:10:49 AM | PermaLink

More Middle East & Environment Web Links

Friends of the Earth Middle East. History of Friends of the Earth Middle East (FoEME).
<http://www.foeme.org/main/about.htm>;
* The Galilee Society, Annual Report 2000.
<http://www.gal-soc.org/2000_7.html>;
* Greenpeace Mediterranean. About Us.
<http://www.greenpeacemed.org.mt/about.html>
* Jordanian Network for Environmentally Friendly Industries, About JNEFI.
<http://www.jnefi.foe.org.jo/About_Jnfe/about_jnfe.html>;
* MED Forum. What is MED Forum?
<http://www.pangea.org/medforum/quees/quees_en.htm>;
* United States. MEPP: A User's Guide to the Multilateral Bodies of the Middle East Peace Process.
<http://www.usembassy-amman.org.jo/Enviro/MEPP2.html>.

Also check out the US Embassy in Amman webpage with links to various ENGOs and intiatives in the region:
http://www.usembassy-amman.org.jo/Enviro/Env-link.html

via: Phia Steyn
University of the Free State
Bloemfontein, South Africa
e-mail: steynms@hum.uovs.ac.za

Posted by Richard
4/21/2003 09:31:19 AM | PermaLink

 
Sunday, April 20, 2003

Renewable Energy Goes Local

Full article at: http://ens-news.com/ens/apr2003/2003-04-17-10.asp

The House energy bill passed last week contains some $20 billion in tax credits for oil, gas and nuclear power, and offers little to bolster the nation's development of renewable energy. But this disinterest in renewable energy at the national level is not matched by U.S. states and local communities, many of which continue to demonstrate increasing interest and commitment to developing and purchasing energy from renewable sources.

The country's bottom up adoption of renewable energy is detailed in a report released Wednesday by the U.S. Public Interest Research Group (PIRG), which finds that these small steps taken at the state and local levels provide a ready blueprint for a national strategy to accelerate the nation's development of renewable energy.

"While Congress is promoting legislation that would make our energy problems worse, the states are leading the way and generating solutions," said U.S. PIRG clean energy advocate Katherine Morrison.

The report, "Generating Solutions: How Clean, Renewable Energy is Boosting Local Economies and Saving Consumers Money," examines renewable energy in 35 states and provides policy suggestions to accelerate the national embrace of renewable energy.

PIRG's report finds the United States has the potential to generate four times its current electricity use just from domestic wind, geothermal and biomass resources.

For a copy of PIRG's report, click here: http://www.uspirg.org/reports/generatingsolutions2003/fullreport.pdf

Posted by Richard
4/20/2003 10:16:55 AM | PermaLink

First Amendment Protection of Ethical Vegans

by Shari A. Buie
Introduction

Ethical Veganism should be protected under the Free Exercise Clause of the First Amendment to the US Constitution.  Ethical Veganism, as opposed to veganism,[i] sets forth beliefs that justify the practice.  These beliefs are moral or ethical in nature, not social or political.  Because this ethical way of life is based on the belief in the equality of all animals, and because it creates a moral duty to eradicate unnecessary suffering through personal actions, which encompass the entire scope of human existence, from what to eat to what to use to what to wear, Ethical Veganism meets the US Supreme Court’s jurisprudential determinations of religious practice. 

A California Court Of Appeals recently confirmed this proposition, taking care to state that it “did not resolve the question of whether a vegan lifestyle that results from a religious belief otherwise meeting the standard”[ii] in the regulation at hand would be protected as free exercise.  However, that Court denied protection to the Ethical Vegan plaintiff.  That Court’s holding was misguided under current religious clauses jurisprudence.
At: http://getvegan.com/blog/ethicalveganism.htm

Posted by Richard
4/20/2003 10:03:00 AM | PermaLink

Anti-Animal Sentiments from the Wall Street Journal

James Taranto, Editor of the Wall Street Journal's Opinionjournal.com blog, recently posted this in his Today's Best of the Web:
PETA's Ox Is Gored

Al-Jazeera is refusing to run an ad from the People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals, the Associated Press reports:

PETA specifically targeted Al-Jazeera because the news network was in the news early in the war for airing pictures of bloody American bodies.

The ad shows cows hanging upside down in a slaughterhouse after their throats had been slit, goats being killed and a chicken thrown violently at a box. It hasn't aired on any television network.

"It's certainly curious that they would be willing to show people the outcome of war but not be willing to show people the outcome of choosing to eat meat," said Bruce Friedrich, PETA's director of vegan outreach.

Friedrich's complaint makes no sense. His group, after all, believes that killing an animal is an outrage, while killing a person is no big deal. By showing the latter and not the former, al-Jazeera is simply following the PETA principle.
This is so irresponsible on Taranto's part...he knows full well (or should) that PETA in no way endorses the killing of people. This is ludicrous and slanderous and exactly the type of terrifying rhetoric that is being unleashed by the Right at the present moment in this country, as they find it convenient to abstain from democratic debate and blast progressive culture and politics as "terrorist." The Wall Street Journal should be ashamed that it provides a legitimate forum for this type of naive and unprofessional editorial...

Posted by Richard
4/20/2003 09:25:03 AM | PermaLink