Thursday, March 31, 2005

Drying Up: The Global Water Privatization Pandemic

There's an excellent analysis of the water privatization debate in LiP Magazine that starts with our own problems with Nestle/Perrier/Ice Mountain megacorporation in Mecosta County, Michigan and then compares it with other communities in the US, Central and South America. Take the link to LiP then scroll down through the Features section.

This is a global problem and it will take a global solution. Water rights activists must begin to band together internationally. Water is a right, not a privilege.


Millennium Ecosystem Assessment

A landmark study released yesterday reveals that approximately 60 percent of the ecosystem services that support life on Earth – such as fresh water, capture fisheries, air and water regulation, and the regulation of regional climate, natural hazards and pests – are being degraded or used unsustainably. Scientists warn that the harmful consequences of this degradation could grow significantly worse in the next 50 years. There is more info at the Millennium Ecosystem Assessment site. There is also a video of Kofi Annan speaking about the Millennium Assessment project.

The report found that growing populations and expanding economic activity have strained the planet's ecosystems over the past half century, threatening international efforts to combat poverty and disease. The study reveals that some two-thirds of the world's ecosystems that support life on Earth - such as fresh water, fisheries, and air, water and climate regulation - are being degraded or used unsustainably. These trends are projected to worsen if policy responses are not forthcoming.

The study was compiled by 1,360 scientists from 95 nations, using over 16,000 satellite photos, and analysis of a wide range of statistics and scientific journals. Protecting forests and coastal areas, promoting "green" technologies and lowering greenhouse gas emissions all were identified (yet again) as critical if environmental degradation is to be slowed and eventually reversed.

Thanks to for the info.


Wednesday, March 30, 2005

New Net Metering Regulation in Michigan

Finally, folks in Michigan can begin selling electricity created at home back to their utility company. New regulations, in force for the next five years, will allow folks with solar and wind energy generators to make a profit.

There's a link to the Detroit Free Press article about the new regs on Sustainablog.

Also, Thanks to Jeff at Sustainablog for adding me to his links list. Viewing the counter, Jeff seems to be pretty popular. Check him out.


Sunday, March 27, 2005

New Report Finds Hazardous Chemicals in Household Dust of Michigan Residents

Just wanted to point out a frightening article on the Ecology Center website. I've certainly never been called a clean freak - and I'm sure my Mom and all my ex-girlfriends will atest to that - but this article made me want to immediately wash every surface in the house.

Also: Ecology Center has excellent info on the Dow/Dioxin contamination in Midland, MI. If you live anywhere downstream between Midland and Saginaw you'll want to check this out. Very informative and helpful webpage including legal documents and updates on recent governmental action. Reading this page convinced me I should join the boycott of Dow Chemical products. A boycott is always a great way to get a company to clean up their act, and Dow really needs to take responsibility for the mess they've made in Midland.

Thanks to the Ann Arbor Ecology Center for the good work they are doing.

Tuesday, March 22, 2005

Take Action: Tell the big oil companies to stay out of ANWR!

Join the national BOYCOTT of oil companies planning to drill in the Alaskan National Wildlife Refuge. This link will take you to Democratic Senator Barbara Boxer's website where you can send emails to CEO's of big oil corporations. Take a stand against giant energy corporations that are destroying our planet, take a stand against a government that is not looking out for your best interests.


Beach Access: Will lakefront property owners take away our right to stroll the sand?

There is a terrific article by Keith Schneider on the Michigan Land Use Institute's website analyzing the ongoing case in the Michigan supreme court regarding lakefront access. Educate yourself before you lose your right to walk on the beach. Click the link above to jump to MLUI.

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Monday, March 21, 2005

Grand Rapids March Against Iraq Occupation

Protestors draw crowd inside suburban malls

"Approximately 75 people gathered in downtown Grand Rapids to call for an end to the United States' occupation of Iraq on the second anniversary of the invasion of Iraq. The rally, organized by the West Michigan Justice and Peace Coalition (WMJPC), featured speeches from two members of the WMJPC (one of whom is running for the school board) and a member of Confronting Empire. After the brief rally, a marching band organized by Confronting Empire led a march through downtown Grand Rapids. The "Radical Anti-Imperialist Marching Band" consisted of around twenty-five people playing a variety of percussion instruments and a saxophone..."

Read the rest of this article originally published on "Media Mouse" here, there are photos also.

Ohio Presidental Election Fraud

Exit Poll: Kerry 52.1% - Bush 47.9%
Certified Result: Kerry 48.5% - Bush 51.0%

• Kenneth Blackwell served as Bush’s Campaign Co-Chair AND Ohio’s Secretary of State. Blackwell has stonewalled Rep. John Conyer’s investigation, refused to answer questions regarding the myriad of allegations against him, and instituted a series of election law changes that benefited the re-election of his boss, the President.

• Exit polls, specifically in Florida, Pennsylvania and Ohio favored Kerry, yet were all wrong and outside of the margin of error. Statisticians say there is a 1-660,000 chance for this to have occurred.

• African Americans, students, and Democrats in Ohio on Election Day were vastly more likely to: Not have received an absentee ballot; have had their polling place moved at the last minute; have been sent to the wrong polling place; have their vote not counted; have been intimidated, threatened... or given false voting information; have been illegally removed from voter lists and forced to fill out provisional (that were more likely NOT to be counted) ballots.

Jim Crow is Alive and Well: African American Voter Disenfranchisement

• The misallocation of voting machines led to unprecedented long lines that disenfranchised scores, if not hundreds of thousands, of predominantly minority and Democratic voters. Though there were 700,000 newly registered urban voters in 2004, 42 precincts in Franklin County had less voting machines than in the PRIMARIES, yet 39 machines were found unused on Election Day in a nearby warehouse.

• Also in Franklin County, 27 of the 30 wards with the most machines per registered voter showed majorities for Bush while six of the seven wards with the fewest machines delivered large margins for Kerry.

• Fewer voting machines were available in low-income precincts throughout the state, creating lines of up to 10 hours. 73 of 77 precincts that were extremely crowded on Election Day due to voting machines being subtracted were heavily Democratic.

• Dr. Norman Robbins of Cleveland testified that over 10,000 voters in Cuyahoga County alone were disenfranchised by various means; and nearly all were "youth, poor and minorities."

• In one Cleveland ward, 51% of the provisional votes cast were thrown in the trash, virtually all of them from African-Americans.

• At Kenyon College and Oberlin College, liberal arts institutions, there were severe shortages of voting machines (and up to 11 hour lines), while at nearby religious-affiliated schools there was no waiting at all. Poll watchers in Cleveland and Columbus have testified that most provisional ballots were given to minority and young voters.

• A team of 25 men calling themselves the “Texas Strike Force” made intimidating phone calls to likely Democratic voters, “targeting people recently in the prison system.” The Ohio Republican Party reportedly paid for the Texans’ hotel rooms. A “hotel worker heard one caller threaten a likely voter with being reported to the FBI and returning to jail if he voted.”

Unexplainable Vote Counts: Evidence of Fraud

• There were impossibly high turnouts in heavily Republican districts, nearly all of them adding to Bush's official margin. In the heavily Republican southern county of Perry, Blackwell certified one precinct with 221 more votes than registered voters. Two precincts -- Reading S and W. Lexington G -- were let stand in the officially certified final vote count with voter turnouts of roughly 124% each. But in pro-Kerry Cleveland there were certified precinct turnouts of 7.10, 13.15, 19.60, 21.01, 21.80, 24.72, 28.83 and 28.97 percents. Seven entire wards reported a turnout less than 50%. But if the actual Cleveland turnout were 60 percent, as registered statewide, Kerry would have netted an additional 22,000 votes. Kerry is also thought to have lost 7,000 votes in Toledo this way.

• In Cleveland, there were three precincts in which minor third-party candidates received 86, 92 and 98 percent of the vote respectively, an outcome completely out of synch with the rest of the state (a similar thing occurred during the contested election in Florida, 2000).

• South Concord managed a 98.5% turnout heavily tilted toward Bush; requiring that all but 10 voters in the precinct cast ballots. But, a canvas easily found 25 voters who said they did not vote. The nearby Cleveland precinct that was heavily tilted toward Kerry managed just a 7.1% turnout, but the day’s overall voter turnout indicated eight or nine times as many voters.

In Cleveland, thousands of people claimed their vote for Kerry on electronic voting machines was turned into a vote for Bush.

• C. Ellen Connally, an African-American candidate for Ohio Chief Justice, who was little known and outspent in the southern part of the state, received hundreds of thousands of more votes than Kerry.

Of the 147,000 combined provisional and absentee ballots counted by hand after Election Day, Kerry received 54.46% of the vote. In the 10 largest Ohio counties, Kerry’s margin was 4.24 to 8.92 percent higher than in the certified results, which were predominantly machine counted. The Recount that Wasn’t

More than 106,000 Ohio ballots remain uncounted. Most uncounted ballots come from regions and precincts where Kerry was strongest. There is no legal reason for not inspecting and counting each of these ballots. In Shelby County, election officials admitted that they discarded crucial tabulator records, rendering a meaningful recount impossible. In many cases, the recounts were conducted not by public election officials, but by private corporations, many of them with Republican ties. The final recount tested roughly 3% of the roughly 5.7 million votes cast in the state. But contrary to the law governing the recount, many precincts tested were selected not at random, but by Blackwell's personal designation. Experts with the election challenge suit noted many of the precincts selected were mostly free of the irregularities they are seeking to investigate, while many contested precincts were left unrecounted.

• The final certified count does not include thousands of people who did not vote, despite intending to do so in Ohio’s inner cities due to a lack of voting machines, lack of available ballots, intimidation, manipulation of registrations, denial of absentee ballots and other means of documented voter suppression.

Sources: Columbus Free Press, Preserving Democracy: What Went Wrong in Ohio, by House Judiciary Committee, Dr. Stephen Freeman United for Secure Elections
For more facts and information on the 2004 election, see:

Friday, March 18, 2005

US Gov't Spanks Ohio Edison Co.

The Justice Department and the Environmental Protection Agency announced today the settlement of a Clean Air Act case alleging that Ohio Edison Company, a subsidiary of FirstEnergy Corp., violated the Clean Air Act at the W.H. Sammis Station, a coal-fired power plant in Stratton, Ohio. The states of New York, New Jersey and Connecticut, who are co-plaintiffs in the lawsuit, also join the settlement. The consent decree agreed to by Ohio Edison will reduce emissions of harmful sulfur dioxide (SO2) and nitrogen oxides (NOx) from the Sammis plant, as well as from other Ohio Edison and FirstEnergy coal-fired power plants, by over 212,000 tons per year. The pollution controls and other measures required by the agreement are expected to cost $1.1 billion.

Click the title link to read the entire press release from the EPA...

Michigan Paint Manufacturer Will Rot in Jail

Norman Solomon of Farmington Hills, Mich., president of Michigan Industrial Finishes Corporation, pleaded guilty in Detroit of illegally storing more than 2,000 55-gallon drums and other containers of highly-flammable paint solvents, including xylene, toluene and methyl ethyl ketone. Superfund cleanup costs at the Michigan Industrial Finishes site are estimated to be approximately $4 million. That's $4 million of your tax dollars. Thanks a lot Norman.

Thursday, March 17, 2005

Senate Vote Doesn't End Arctic Fight

The Senate voted 49-51 on Senator Maria Cantwell's (D-Wash.) amendment to remove Arctic Refuge drilling from the budget resolution. With the Senate closely divided on such a high-profile issue, including it in the larger budget resolution could seriously damage the prospects of that bill as it passes through the Senate, the House-Senate conference, and final passage in both chambers. Even then, this provision of the budget resolution will not go into effect unless it makes it into the final Budget Reconciliation bill later in the year, which must itself go through the same arduous process as the budget resolution itself. Congress hasn't managed to complete the budget process in the last two years; if that happens again, drilling backers will be back to square one.

Read the rest of this article straight from the source, click the title link.

Power Plants Evade Tough Mercury Cleanup Requirements

The Environmental Protection Agency today issued a rule giving electric utilities a free pass from controlling their mercury pollution for more than a decade. The rule violates the Clean Air Act by failing to place stringent controls on a dangerous pollutant that especially threatens women and children. It also puts into place a pollution trading scheme that will allow power plants to emit far more mercury for much longer than the law permits.

Click the link above to read the rest...

Tuesday, March 15, 2005

WMEAC Gets Two Grants

West Michigan Environmental Action Council (WMEAC) recently received a $35,000 grant for their Sustainable Agriculture Forum. $10,000 of that is a dollar per dollar match, so make sure you donate to them soon. The funds are targeted for encouraging farmers to move toward sustainable production for food, fuel and fiber (Hemp? Hah... not!) while moving away from the use of synthetic fertilizers and dangerous pesticides. Obviously organic farming is better for soil and wildlife, hopefully it will result in better incomes for local farmers. If farms become more lucrative, it's possible that urban sprawl can be slowed as fewer landowners sell farms for development.

WMEAC also received $25,000 for the second phase of the West Michigan Electronic Waste Recycling Coalition. Recycle your old computer! The program will continue development of a regional electronic waste recycling coalition composed of municipalities, nonprofits and local business. Hopefully we'll have less toxic computer waste flowing into our landfills.

Info for donating can be found at

From the big leather chair...

Send me a note if you're having trouble viewing this page in your browser. Let me know if things look a little screwy. I haven't quite gotten the hang of CSS yet.

Also a big wet sloppy kiss to Enviropundit for adding me to her links list. Check out her site at M'WAH!

Monday, March 14, 2005

Environmental Protection Agency Abandons Lead-Based Paint Protections

Okay, I'm not going to go on a rampage about Lead Paint, or even attempt to make a comment on this. I'll just give you the whole thing as I received it this morning.

Washington, DC — In an unannounced move, Stephen Johnson, the Acting Administrator of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, has balked at taking the last major step to protect urban children and residential construction workers from the hazards of lead-based paint, according to internal agency briefings released today by Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility (PEER). As a result, the national goal of eliminating childhood lead poisoning will remain beyond reach.

The principal source of lead dust exposure to U.S. children is renovation and repair of older residences, which have a much higher prevalence of lead-based paint. Federal studies indicate that the vast majority of an estimated 20 to 30 million older-home repair projects each year are done without lead safe cleanup and contamination practices. Consequently, these renovations kick up significant amounts of lead dust that permeates carpets, ductwork and soil, creating both short and long-term exposure to residents.

By law, EPA is supposed to require that certified contractors using workers trained in lead-safe practices do all remodeling in building constructed before 1978. Under the Toxic Substances Control Act, the deadline for EPA to adopt these “regulations to renovation or remodeling activities” was October 28, 1996. Although behind schedule, EPA continued to develop regulations through 2003. In 2004, however, then-Deputy and now-Acting Administrator Stephen Johnson moved to scrap plans for renovation regulations and instead opt for a yet to be developed voluntary approach, according to agency records. Earlier this month, President Bush nominated Johnson to become EPA Administrator.

Johnson made his decision despite EPA’s own analyses showing the renovation regulations had a net economic benefit of at least $2.73 billion per year. These internal analyses also showed that –

· An estimated 1.4 million children under age 7 residing in some 4.9 million households are at risk of lead exposure due to unsafe repair and renovations;

· The renovation regulations could be expected to prevent at least 28,000 lead-related illnesses each year, thereby preventing $1.6 billion in medical costs and economic losses annually; and

· The additional cost to homeowners would average $116 per interior renovation and $42 for exterior work.

“The Bush Administration has walked away from the national goal of eliminating childhood lead poisoning by 2010, in the process leaving 1.4 million children behind,” stated Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility Executive Director Jeff Ruch whose organization is seeking to create a coalition to push, and if need be, litigate for the adoption of the long-stalled repair and renovation regulations. “EPA has abdicated its public health responsibilities by glomming onto a voluntary program without a scintilla of evidence that their preferred ‘non-regulatory approach’ works.”

Children in their prime developmental years (under age 7) are at much greater risk of elevated blood-lead levels. While lead exposure levels have steadily fallen over the past four decades, those improvements have leveled off in recent years. The Centers for Disease Control estimates that 434,000 children in the U.S. under age 5 currently have elevated blood-lead levels associated with deleterious health effects. Older cities tend to have higher rates of childhood lead poisoning. A study, in Chicago, for example, found 20 percent children under age 5 with dangerously elevated blood-lead levels.

“This decision by Mr. Johnson to abandon public health protection for inner city children bears on his fitness to serve as the head of the EPA,” Ruch added. “We would hope that Congress takes the time to carefully examine this issue.”

Sunday, March 13, 2005

'Hard evidence of climate changes' emerges in northeast US

Huh, whodathunkit... Using long-term data on temperature, precipitation, frost dates, snowfall, bloom dates and other annually measured occurrences, experts from Clean Air: Cool Planet (CAAP) and the Climate Change Research Centre at the University of New Hampshire pinpointed changes to the region's climate in their report, Indicators of Climate Change in the Northeast.

New evidence for climate change uncovered by the report includes:

1. A significant decrease in snowfall (up to 60 inches annually)
2. A decrease of 16 days with snow on the ground over 30 years
3. Lake ice-out dates earlier by nine days in northern and mountainous regions and 16 days in southern parts of the region
4. An average advance in spring bloom dates of between four and eight days

How many days do you think it will be before someone attempts to discredit the University of New Hampshire? Any bets?

Friday, March 11, 2005

Arctic Climate Impact Assessment

Click here for the report from a multinational scientific committee of several thousand scientists, available online in a 146 page pdf file. I have read about half of this so far, and I must recommend it to everyone. If you know of someone who doesn't believe in global warming, I feel it is your responsiblity to slap them across the face with this report. The threats of extinction of most arctic species and severe economic consequences are very real and we only have about 10 years left to deal with them before the "tipping point" is reached. Do yourself and your children a favor and read this report.

Also check out Bill McKibben's reporting on from the climate change conference at Middlebury College in Vermont. Good Stuff.

Thursday, March 10, 2005

Canadian Seal Hunt Increases

Greenpeace - Take Action (send a letter to the Prime Minister)

Back in the 70s and 80s, the Canadian government was allowing baby seals to be clubbed to death for their fur. You can still remember the stories of the brutal killings and of Greenpeace activists spray painting the furs to render them worthless. All of that is behind us now, right?

Not so fast. Recently, Canada announced an astounding increase in the number of seals that can be killed each year. When hunting season begins later this month, up to 350,000 seals may be killed in the span of just a few days... in what would be the world's largest slaughter of marine mammals. Seals older than two weeks are considered fair game. In fact, 95 percent of the seals killed are still no more than four months old.

Greenpeace - Take Action (send a letter to the Prime Minister)

Wednesday, March 09, 2005

Check out

Tuesday, March 08, 2005

10 activists arrested in Oregon logging protest

Click here to link to the MSNBC Environment News page.

Forest activists have been baracading a logging road in the Siskiyou National Forest for the past week. Yesterday 10 arrests were made by the Forest Service as an injunction was lifted and clear cutting of burned timber in an Old Growth area began. The big trees are now falling. The Bush administration has deemed this type of 'salvage' logging necessary for forest health, completely ignoring all known biological science and any basis in rational thought. Big trees have to rot and return to the soil and provide nutrients for the next generation in order for the forest to be healthy. Removing them by clear cutting leads to erosion and the choking of salmon streams. The salmon, remember, are on the threatened species list. It is also obvious to all forestry experts and Forest Service lackeys that these big 1000-year-old trees are able to survive major fires, usually only losing their outer layers of bark while the interior of the tree remains strong. So called "salvage logging" is a major lie by timber industry public relations execs to boost their own profits, it has nothing to do with science. Kudos to Earth First! activists in West Central Oregon for standing up for the forest. Earth Firsters have been putting their bodies on the line to save the trees for decades now, and they deserve our thanks. Shame on the Forest Service for supporting false and misleading scientific proganda. Shame on the Bush administration for knowingly perpetuating the salvage logging lie.

This logging protest happened not far from where I used to live in Oregon. I have hiked and climbed in the Siskiyou National Forest countless times near where this took place, it is one of my favorite places in Oregon. This is just the latest round in a series of grassroots protests that have been going on for decades, but no one has been paying attention. Remember the "Cascadia Free State" where protestors built a village in the forest and held the Forest Service at bay for over a 14 months before the USFS and the FBI came in with bulldozers. This latest arrest is not the last, more folks will certainly head up to the big trees now that this new story has broken nationwide.

Saturday, March 05, 2005

U.S. Blocks Mandatory Agreement on Cleaning Up World Mercury Pollution at UN Conference

Click here for a link to a press release from the Natural Resources Defense Council on international mercury pollution negotiations ongoing at the United Nations conference in Nairobi. With water being our most valuable asset, this is of particular interest to those of us living in the Great Lakes.

Erin in Cambodia

Erin is currently trekking/backpacking from Thailand to Cambodia and then on to Vietnam. Here's the second installment in the life of an intrepid traveler and a truly gifted writer.

Hi everyone.
I've been trying unsuccessfully to get online for about a week here; it's a strange southeast asian phenomenon that the internet seems to be good only within 50 yards of the ocean.

It's been a while since I've writen; I have an entire country under my belt, so forgive me if this gets a bit lengthy. I last wrote in Thailand after the tsunami-aid fiasco; the next day I boarded an air-conditioned video super mega coach (the only kind they have in thailand, anymore) and headed for the Cambodian border. Walking across the border was very much like walking through a time portal. The smooth pavement ended in a dusty, gravelly crater. The green irrigated fields of Thailand abruptly turned to the brown of rice paddies out of season, and I was swarmed by filthy beggar children, pleading for money with one hand and trying to get the other into any unguarded pocket, while dripping with sweat we all waited hours to be processed through the one open window with the sleepy and unhurried customs guy. Borders are the worst...

The bus was ancient and rickety, but with big windows which afforded a good view of the countryside. It's dry season in Cambodia, and a drought to boot, so the landscape is a bleak brown, or black of burned rice paddies. It's statlingly flat, the only break in the horizon is distant palm trees. The houses are constructed of thatch, and are on stilts: it's very poor and very picturesque. Everything is coated with a thick red dust, everything. The people, cattle, houses, merchandise in the roadside markets, the leaves on the trees, so much so that you want to adjust the color on your goggles. The only splotches of color are the brilliant red day-blooming hibiscus flowers. Even the sun sinks into the haze about thirty degrees above the horizon every night.

The first destination is the city of Siem Reap, and at about 75 miles from the border it is a six hour drive: the roads are that bad. It's Cambodia's second largest city and the home to its premier tourist attraction, the ancient temples dotting the countryside and collectively known as Angkor Wat. The town has two stoplights, widely disregarded by the slow-moving, chaotic traffic, and is shockingly polarized between the insular five star hotels and the riverside shantytowns. There are many western-catering restaurants and bars, but sitting there you are constantly plagued by children begging, with smaller children on their hips, landmine amputees begging. It's a difficult thing to witness, difficult to decide who to give a little money to, or food, or cigarettes. The kids seem thrilled to be played with, just to act like proper children for a few minutes, but the hungry dollar signs never quite leave their eyes.

I spent three days touring Angkor Wat. Not having done any of my homework, I was pleased to discover that these are primarily Hindu temples in dedication and derivation, though converted to buddhist more recently. They date from the 8th to 11th centuries, and I've no words to descibe how amazing, how monumental and intricate they are, except to maybe say they make Stonehenge look sort of like a preschooler's effort with building blocks. They sit in various stages of decay and preservation, and my favorite was one which has largely been left to the surrounding jungle. Partly crumbled, it has quite an atmosphere of mystery and history. Enormous trees growing right on top of the walls give a true sense of its age, as their weblike roots slowly force the blocks apart in an indomitable reach for the earth.

Another attraction of Siem Reap, without getting too depressing, is the landmine museum, documenting one man's effort to rid Cambodia of this plague one mine at a time. He houses about a dozen child amputees, many of then orphaned, and pays for their schooling through donations. Its such a powerful juxtaposition of inspiring and heartrending, the history of Cambodia.

Let's see, next I moved on to the capitol, Phnom Penh. It's a bit more bustling, but surrounding a very polluted (but lovely shade of green) lade, with plenty of relaxed accomodations featuring hammocks, and apparently permanent home to many leftover and burned out vets still puffing joints, drinking beer in the a.m., and watching war movies. Spent another day touring war remains, primarily of the Khmer Rouge era. Some very hard stuff to witness, and they spare none of the brutality in the depiction. On the upside a few new friends and I checked out a locals nightclub, and while being very funny to watch (and listen, eeecchhkk) it was great to see people so recently oppressed excercising their relatively newfound freedom of self expression.

After this I went south, to the beach area of Sihanoukville on the gulf of thailand. I found a place to stay for free (on a sandy pallet in a thatch beach hut doubling as the bar storeroom, in between cases of redbull) in exchange for bartending their full moon party. Nice enough beach, but demonstrating the peculiar asian phenomenon of extrapolating one good idea (nice little beach hut bar) far, far beyond it's logical sustainability. There were over 100 little beach hut bars right on top of each other, each one with less atmosphere and character than the next, until finally they reached the beachside equivalent of a cafeteria, with one dangling flourescent light and a few plastic chairs. It would have been peaceful anyway if not for the hundreds of vendors endlessly plying their wares: fresh fruit manicure massage spring rolls grilled squid books lobster bracelet sea shell.....exhausting.

And now I'm in Vietnam. It's been about a week, began in Saigon and progressing to the north...but I think I'll save this for the next update! Hope all is well with everybody, and as always I love to hear from you what's new and in the news. Take care and I'll write again when the internet works.

p.s.-I ate crickets. Fried in garlic. You have to pick off the wings and the back legs, but they aren't bad...the locals looked on with the disdain they must surely reserve for westerners trying insects for the first time, and then polished off the leftovers in record time. But even they told me the canary-sized fried cockroaches weren't very good....

Thursday, March 03, 2005

GW Bush = My Gay Lover

Just before Christmas the Bush administration issued deplorable new management rules for our national forests that put millions of acres at risk. Now the Forest Service wants to exempt forest management plans - the blueprints for how our National Forests are run - from public environmental review under the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA).

I just submitted my comment to the Forest Service. Tuesday March 7, is the deadline to provide feedback, so please click the link below to submit your comments now before it's too late! Don't let them get away with this!!!

NEPA is a landmark environmental law that has protected forests for over thirty years. The law requires federal agencies to study and disclose the environmental effects of their actions and to include the public in their decision-making. The Bush administration has worked steadily to chip away at this law over the past four years. This latest attack on NEPA would greatly reduce information available to the public, scientists, and other agencies. It would make it much more difficult for the public to weigh in on or provide comments, concerns, objections, or alternatives to Forest Service proposals.

Well over 100 national forests are due for revised management plans by the end of this decade and therefore at risk. The effects of these changes to policy could stretch across millions of acres of our forestlands. This will end the publics ability to comment on and stop logging sales in national forests.

Here is the letter that I sent:

Chief Dale Bosworth
USDA Forest Service
P.O. Box 221090
Salt Lake City , UT 84122

Dear Chief Dale Bosworth,

I am writing to oppose the Forest Service's proposal to categorically exclude forest plans from the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA). Forest Plans make significant decisions regarding where particular activities, such as road construction, logging, off-road vehicle use and mineral development can occur on our national forests. Forest planning is also intended to play a vital role in conserving wildlife, soil and water quality in our national forests.

Permitting forest plan amendments and revisions to be categorically excluded from NEPA would postpone any public examination of the potential impacts of logging, road building, and other environmentally harmful activities on the wildlife, recreation and conservation values in our national forests until after decisions about whether and where to allow such activities had already been made through the planning process. Subsequent analysis of individual timber sales, for example, would fail to assess the cumulative impacts of multiple projects -- past, current and future -- on the forest. To put it another way, we may never get to see the forest for the trees.

Utilizing a categorical exclusion in forest planning would undermine the quality of information the public receives. Specifically, NEPA's requirement that an adequate range of alternatives be developed and carefully considered not only provides the agency a chance to take a broader, outside-the-box view, but it also plays an important role in educating the public about what possible directions long-term planning on our national forests could take. To eliminate this requirement in forest planning would be to reduce agency planning decisions to an our-way-or-the-highway approach.

In addition, your proposal violates the spirit and the letter of the National Forest Management Act, which requires forest plans to comply with NEPA. Moreover, if implemented, it would violate the National Environmental Policy Act itself.

I urge you to abandon this ill-conceived proposal.

Thank you for considering my comments.


What's Wrong with Bush's Budget

President Bush's FY 2006 Budget is another prescription for ecological disaster. Read the report from the Union of Concerned Scientists. Christ, I am so sick of Republicans... we must castrate all of them.

Wednesday, March 02, 2005

Name That Monkey

To protect wildlife, play 'name that primate' |

Here's a link to an article from last week's Christian Science Monitor. A newly discovered species of monkey in Bolivia needs a name, and the bidding war has begun. Article contains info on where to go to place your bid. Monkey photos! Cute little buggers!