Sunday, July 31, 2005

CAFTA - from Media Mouse

Articles and commentary are beginning to appear online concerning the passage of CAFTA. According to reports, CAFTA initially lost by five votes but the House Republicans held the vote open for an extra hour in order to secure the needed votes for passage. This mid-night extension of the vote allegedly involved plenty of arm-twisting and deal making by the Bush administration and the House Republican Leadership. Many of these side deals involved sugar, labor protection, textiles, and China, although it remains to be seen if these deals will be honored. A recent report by Public Citizen shows that 89% of the side deals negotiated to gain votes for previous trade deals have been broken.

More on CAFTA - Media Mouse There is also a list of the 15 Democrats who voted for CAFTA on Media Mouse.

Saturday, July 30, 2005

First Annual Bear River Bio Blitz

Bear River folk:

For the past five years, the Tip of the Mitt Watershed Council has sponsored clean ups of the Bear River as part of its Healing the Bear Program. This year they are celebrating the life and biodiversity of the river by sponsoring the 1st Annual Bear River Bio Blitz-an all day survey of the bugs, animals, birds, and plants that call the Bear River home.

First Annual Bear River Bio Blitz
Saturday, August 6, 2005
9 am - 6 pm
Petoskey, Michigan

Get maps and more info on participating here: First Annual Bear River Bio Blitz

Friday, July 29, 2005

Dude, this is seriously cool...

Carport Generates Kilowatts

You have to admit that this is a damn good idea.

An array of 25 "solar trees"(TM) converts a 186-vehicle parking lot into a 235-kilowatt solar electric generating system, 8611 Balboa Avenue in San Diego. The system's 25 "solar trees" form a carport in an employee parking lot, utilizing a total of 1,400 Kyocera KC-187G solar photovoltaic (PV) modules and 200 custom-manufactured, light-filtering PV modules. The system's capacity of 235 kilowatts -- capable of generating 421,000 kilowatt hours per year -- will be equivalent to the electrical needs of 68 typical San Diego homes. According to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency's Power Profiler, generating this amount of electricity through conventional fossil fuel resources would annually release 338,905 pounds of carbon dioxide, 421 pounds of nitrous oxide and 253 pounds of sulfur dioxide.

The project is supported by the California Public Utilities Commission's "Self Generation Incentive Program," which will cover approximately 36% of the system's purchase and installation costs; as well as federal and state tax credits, and a five-year accelerated depreciation schedule. The standard Kyocera solar modules used in the Solar Grove are covered by a 25-year manufacturer's warranty, and Kyocera anticipates that the Solar Grove will pay for itself within 12 years.

Kyocera commissioned the architecture firm of Tucker Sadler to design the Solar Grove.

Thursday, July 28, 2005

Congress Attacks EPA Environmental Justice Plan

A new Environmental Protection Agency draft strategic plan on environmental justice has generated a sharp backlash in both the House and Senate. Last week nearly 80 legislators signed a letter denouncing the draft plan as a step backward, urging EPA Administrator Stephen Johnson to "take real steps to combat the environmental injustices" that afflict communities throughout the nation.

I'm astonished that so many legislators know what "environmental justice" means!

Read more of this article here: BushGreenwatch

Wednesday, July 27, 2005

Trash bill fails to make it to vote

Democrats charge state Republicans blocked the legislation in violation of the state constitution.

Associated Press - June 24, 2005

Lansing - Democrats in the state House failed Thursday to get a vote on their legislation aimed at curbing the amount of out-of-state trash coming into Michigan. It is the second time, Democrats say, that Republicans have blocked the legislation.

House Democrats argued that the Republican majority violated the state constitution by not allowing a vote to add their five-bill package to a bill that would allow counties to increase their surcharge on households for waste reduction programs. (more...)

“Republicans have now had nine chances to do what’s right for Michigan, and for the ninth time, they’ve refused to take a stand on fighting Canadian and out-of-state trash,” said Rep. Herb Kehrl, D-Monroe. “Republicans have turned their backs on the people of Michigan. And because they’re so afraid of the trash industry, they’ve also trampled our constitution.”

Rep. Kehrl is the primary sponsor of one of the bills - a measure that would extend the moratorium on new landfills from 2006 to 2010.

House Democrats said there should have been a vote Thursday because they submitted signatures from 22 Democratic representatives. But House Clerk Gary Randall said the Democrats never officially asked for a vote on their legislation.

The effort ended in shouts from a few Democrats, including Stephen Adamini of Marquette, who yelled to Republican leaders, “Play by the rules.”

It’s the second time in two months Democrats have tried to force a vote on their legislation aimed at curbing out-of-state trash coming into Michigan. The main bill in the package would raise the fee to dump trash in a Michigan landfill from 21 cents a ton to $7.50.

Democrats have argued that Michigan’s low dumping fee is a big reason the state is one of the nation’s top importers of trash from other states and Canada.

Canada, which sends some of its garbage to the Carleton Farms landfill in Wayne County’s Sumpter Township, reported dumping 11.5 million cubic yards of trash in Michigan in the 2003-04 budget year, about 2 million cubic yards more than previously reported by the Michigan Department of Environmental Quality. Waste generated in Michigan during the same period dropped by 1 million cubic yards, or about 2 percent, to 46 million cubic yards, the DEQ report said.

Last month, Democrats tried unsuccessfully to discharge their bills to the full House after the Republican chairman of the House Natural Resources, Great Lakes, Land Use and Environment Committee refused to take up the bill that would increase the dumping fee.

Committee Chairman David Palsrok, R-Manistee, has said the higher fee would be passed on to business and residential customers in Michigan. He said Thursday’s effort to add the bills to another piece of legislation does not change his mind on the issue.

Rep. Palsrok said he will monitor efforts by Congress to limit Canadian trash coming into the United States and will check the progress of new laws requiring inspection of out-of-state waste in the coming months.

The bills to further curb the flow of Canadian trash are House Bills 4758-62.

Democratic Caucus - Michigan House of Representatives

Tuesday, July 26, 2005

Environmental Protection Agency Hearing on Great Lakes Protection in Grand Rapids August 1

A hugely important event in Grand Rapids to save our Great Lakes takes place Monday, August 1 at 6:30pm. Look for the Bear, I'll be there!

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency is holding public hearings that will determine how high a priority our federal and state governments place on protecting our Great Lakes from invasive species, mercury contamination, wetlands destruction and other serious threats. At stake is more than $20 billion in funding to restore the Great Lakes. (more...)

The public is invited to comment to the EPA on the proposed Great Lakes Regional Collaboration draft plan. If enough of us speak out on August 1 about the need to fund this plan, Congress will act in the coming months on the funding request.

Download a pdf copy of the plan at I strongly recommended that you read this document before attending (it's 52 pages long, don't print it)

Clean Water Action in GR can provide you with sample testimony and walk you through the simple process of testifying at the hearing. But if you do not wish to testify, YOU ARE STILL NEEDED to show support for Great Lakes protections by attending the hearing. You can also submit written comments.

MONDAY, AUGUST 1 IN GRAND RAPIDS at 6:30pm, Grand Valley State University’s Downtown/Pew Campus, Loosemore Auditorium, 401 W Fulton St., Bldg. E. (DeVos Center)
GR, MI 49504


You can park in Mt. Vernon Parking Lot located on Mt. Vernon, just south of Fulton.
If you are heading from downtown to GVSU on Fulton, cross over the river and slow down under the 131 overpass. The next light is Mt. Vernon. TURN LEFT. The parking lot is on your left. It is free.

To get to Loosemore Auditorium:
Walk to Fulton and cross the street. Turn LEFT, heading west. On your RIGHT, after 30 feet or so, you’ll see a bunch of buildings with a cement courtyard. Walk into the courtyard and the first building on your right will be Loosemore.

Monday, July 25, 2005

Michigan Citizens for Water Conservation Meeting

Michigan Citizens for Water Conservation (MCWC), along with its President, Terry Swier, and noted environmental attorney, Jim Olson, will be at the Horizon Books in downtown Traverse City on Saturday, July 30 from 11:00 a.m. to Noon. They will host a public presentation on efforts to stop Nestlė, the State, and others from establishing precedents to divert public water for private export out of the watersheds of the Great Lakes Basin. (more...)

Swier will tell the story of how a nonprofit grassroots citizen’s group has successfully fought Nestle’s -- the international Swiss food giant -- attempt to privately claim the waters of Michigan for export. Olson will describe how this political drama to privately control water in the Great Lakes Basin – nearly twenty percent of the world’s freshwater -- has unfolded, and what citizens can do to stop it. The presentation will cover:

- How Michigan Circuit Court Judge, Lawrence Root, reasoned through 19 days of trial testimony and stacks of scientific data and complex legal arguments, and ordered Nestle to stop pumping and exporting water out of a watershed of the Great Lakes.

- How Nestle with the help of Michigan’s Department of Environmental Quality (MDEQ) arrogantly circumvented the Judge’s order to stop pumping.

- How Nestle has appealed to Michigan’s appellate courts in an attempt to erase a century of water law protection so it can establish legal precedent to gain private rights over public and common waters at the expense of citizens, landowners, farmers, and businesses.

- How Nestle met with officials of the City of Evart and State and engineered a take over of part of the City’s municipal water supply for export and private sale.

- How Nestle desires to win an exemption from pending international agreements that may protect the Great Lakes from diversions and exports. These agreements remain open for public comment until August 30, 2005.

- How Nestle has threatened Michigan’s Governor, the State, and its citizens with a federal lawsuit that would destroy attempts to safeguard this water.

- How the Michigan Legislature has stalled and delayed doing anything about water diversions and exports.

- How citizens, landowners, and businesses can join MCWC and others to win the fight to save these precious public waters from diversion and sale.


Saturday, July 23, 2005

New Nuke Weapon Epitomizes Bush Hypocrisy

In an act of sheer hypocrisy and utter stupidity, the Bushies have advocated the development of a new 300 kiloton nuclear device capable of penetrating Earth's crust to destroy underground installations. This "small" nuke is to be designed to be "easier to use" by soldiers in the field. (more...)

The Bushites and the global media have consistently attacked Iran and North Korea for their nuclear programs, and didn't we invade Iraq based on the lie that they were developing a nuclear weapon? Thus the current adminstration are not only a pack of liars, they are also hypocrites.

On the Senate floor yesterday, Senator Kennedy introduce an amendment that would shut down funding for this program. Currently defense appropriations are set at over $4 million for a feasibility study, and the Department of Energy is getting half a billion for development. An earlier amendment to stop this stupidity, with almost exactly the same wording, was introduced by Senator Feinstein 3 weeks ago and was defeated.

I believe the neo-conservatives are the most serious threat to life on this planet. How many more people have to die before Americans begin to seriously doubt our government?

We know they stole the election in Ohio, we know they invaded Iraq for false reasons, we know that top officials have committed treason, we know that they have plans to start more wars like Iraq. We know they have consistently lied about global warming. We know that their environmental policy is being written by greedy lobbyists who care nothing about the health of the citizens of this country. How can we sit back and allow them to develop a new nuclear device that will most assuredly be used in what is arguably an unwinnable war on Muslim extremism?

Friday, July 15, 2005

The Tittabawassee River Speaks

Important Blog to check out. Well written and thought provoking information.
The Tittabawassee River Speaks: This blog concerns the Tittabawassee River that flows through several counties in South East Michigan and the local, regional and national politics that supplant the health concerns of the effected residents that should be taking the center stage. This also attempts to show the other side of the issue from the numerous Dow supported blogs and websites already on the net.

Newborn babies arrive pre-poisoned by industrial chemicals

Newborn babies begin life with hundreds of man-made chemicals in their blood, according to a report released yesterday. Blood from the umbilical cords of 10 infants born in U.S. hospitals in 2004 showed an average of 200 industrial compounds, pollutants, pesticides and other chemicals, according to the Environmental Working Group based in Washington, D.C. This just makes me want to cry. We must protect children from cancer, and it can be done by not purchasing these chemicals anymore. Vote with you wallet people, you don't need those chemicals. If we don't buy them, they'll stop making them.

Read the full story here: Man-made chemicals in blood of newborns, research finds

Eco-developing is urban developer Guy Bazzani's passion

A Grand Rapids developer is getting rich building Green. Read about his success here: Search: "Eco-developing is urban developer Guy Bazzani's passion "

A Letter to ExxonMobile CEO

Dear Mr. Raymond:

Our country remains overly dependent on oil, which has serious consequences ranging from rising gasoline prices that burden the average American, to global warming that threatens current and future generations. This addiction to oil represents a failed energy strategy, one that your company not only supports but has helped to develop. I am most disturbed by:

* ExxonMobil's active support of drilling in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge;

* ExxonMobil's efforts to block meaningful action to cut global warming pollution and its funding of junk science to hide the real facts about global warming;

* ExxonMobil's conscious decision to forgo investment in clean energy solutions - despite its record profits at a time of rising gasoline prices;

* ExxonMobil's failure to pay all of the punitive damages awarded to fishermen and others injured by the 1989 Exxon Valdez oil spill.

I would rather spend my money and time moving forward, not backward. Therefore, I will not purchase Exxon or Mobil's gas or products, invest in ExxonMobil stock or get a job with your company.

The Bear

Dow Chemical: Working Hard to Give Michiganders Cancer

Dioxin levels in people living on land along the Tittabawassee River are higher than average, according to a pilot study of 20 residents released by the state health department Wednesday.

In a related development, the state's Supreme Court ruled that residents are not entitled to sue Dow Chemical Co. -- where the dioxin originated -- for costs associated with medical monitoring for future health problems.

You can read this story here: Residents' dioxin levels higher near Dow, study shows

Dwindling Water Levels

The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers will conduct a study of dwindling water levels in Lake Michigan and Lake Huron under a bill approved by the House on Thursday. Read the article at House approves measure to study water levels in Michigan

Ontario: Wind Farms Sprout on Lake Erie Shore

Canadians are kicking our butts on the wind power front. Check out the London Free Press: Business Section - Work begins on wind farms

Wednesday, July 06, 2005

Caught in the act Posted by Picasa

Assault On Endangered Species Act

Press release from Defenders of Wildlife

Despite Americans Strong Support for Act that Saved the Bald Eagle, Resource Committee Chairman Crafting Loopholes that are a Developers Dream

Draft legislation prepared by Rep. Richard Pombo (R-Cal.) would severely undermine the Endangered Species Act (ESA) and punch loopholes in the law on behalf of oil companies, large-scale developers, timber companies, mining corporations, and other special interests. If these provisions were in place in recent years, recovery of animals like the bald eagle, American alligator, and peregrine falcon would have been extremely difficult if not impossible.
"We are stunned by just how bad Rep. Pombo�s draft bill is," said Rodger Schlickeisen, president of Defenders of Wildlife. "The bill all but eliminates the federal effort to help endangered species and creates a whole new series of loopholes that enable oil companies, large-scale developers, timber companies, mining corporations, and other special interests to dodge the Act's protections. The bill runs counter to the very intent of the Endangered Species Act which was put in place to ensure that human activity does not cause wildlife to go extinct."
Jamie Rappaport Clark, former Director of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and now Executive Vice President of Defenders, said, "This is a potentially disastrous bill. Given Mr. Pombo's past statements about trying to make the Act work better, its extremely disappointing to see a draft bill that does so much to eliminate opportunities for species recovery."
An analysis of the bill by Defenders of Wildlife pointed to the following key problems:
� The draft bill abandons the national commitment to bringing declining"

Green groups urge G8 leaders to ignore Bush not the climate

Press release from Greenpeace UK
Gleneagles, UK, 6 July 2005 - As the G8 summit gets underway in Scotland, environment and development groups are urging Prime Minister Tony Blair and other world leaders to stand up to President Bush and agree a clear way forward for climate protection.
The US is the only G8 country not to have ratified the Kyoto Protocol and the Bush administration has already tried to weaken early drafts of the G8 communiqu� objecting to language that includes statements that the world is warming, human activity is mostly to blame and developed economies must lead the fight against the problem.
'This summit provides an opportunity for leaders to reinforce their commitment to fighting climate change and map out a way ahead but there is a real risk that, in the quest for consensus, President Bush will prevail and we will end up with a weak, compromised statement that could set back climate protection by years,' said Stephanie Tunmore of Greenpeace International. 'The rest of the G8 countries should insist on a strong, clear message on climate change, even if the result is a 'split' communique.'
'The US administration must not be allowed to derail international action on climate change,' said Tony Juniper of Friends of the Earth (FoE). 'If we are to halt climate change and deliver climate justice we need action not words. The eyes of the world are upon Gleneagles this week and they want to see moral leadership on cutting emissions and ending poverty. Tony Blair and other world leaders must be prepared to stand up to President Bush on the issue of climate.'
'Tony Blair often talks of the 'special relationship' between the UK and the US. In this case that relationship has clearly let him down. He should cut his losses"

Saturday, July 02, 2005

Iran's Involvement in 9/11

By gaining exclusive access to dozens of Iranian defectors and officials, previously classified documents, and high-level sources in the U.S. government and intelligence community, Ken Timmerman reveals that the Iranian nuclear program is far more advanced than we’ve feared. COUNTDOWN TO CRISIS: The Coming Nuclear Showdown with Iran uncovers the Iranian Islamist regime’s extensive—and current—support for Osama bin Laden and al-Qaeda. Perhaps most frightening, Timmerman documents how our intelligence community’s arrogance, incompetence, and willful blindness have repeatedly kept us from dealing with the Iranian threat.

  • Iran’s clandestine nuclear weapons program—exposing how the mullahs could already have enough nuclear material for 20 to 25 bombs
  • The secret locations where Iran has been sheltering bin Laden—and the terrorist attacks they now are jointly planning against America and our allies
  • How U.S. intelligence has consistently ignored warnings about Iran’s secret nuclear program—and how United Nations officials, most notably Hans Blix, blew repeated chances to shut it down
  • Iran’s involvement in the 9/11 plot—including documents the CIA tried to withhold from the 9/11 Commission
  • Iranian intelligence operatives trained 9/11 plotters in explosives, document forgery, and secure communications, and also provided passports and safe haven
  • How an Iranian defector gave the CIA two months’ advance warning of a “massive attack on America” scheduled for September 11, 2001—but how the Agency brushed him off, and then, after 9/11, tried to smear and discredit him
  • How the CIA knew about Iran’s ties to bin Laden and al-Qaeda long before the September 11 attacks, but failed to act on its own information
  • An insider’s account of how top Iranian leaders negotiated directly with North Korea’s Supreme Leader to secure nuclear weapons assistance
  • How Iran worked on nuclear weapons with the A. Q. Khan network—with help from Germany, Switzerland, Russia, and China
  • The story of a congressman who became so frustrated by the CIA’s refusal to act on intelligence that bin Laden was in Iran that he actually contacted a bounty hunter to capture the Saudi
  • How Iran’s leaders continue to finance the insurgents in Iraq, including the infamous terrorist Abu Musab Zarqawi
  • Evidence that Iran may have been behind the downing of TWA Flight 800 in 1996—and that White House counterterrorism adviser Richard Clarke steered the intelligence community away from a terrorism investigation of the attack
  • Eyewitness account of the Iranian regime’s ruthless murder of a key opponent and an inside account of the mullahs’ crackdown on dissident students.
  • Bush vs. Black Bear Speaks

    Wake the neighbors and phone the kids! Black Bear Speaks just had its 1,297 official visitor to the website, and George Bush has 1,297 days left in office!Freak coincidence or preordained?!?! Please tell me we are living in a Twilight Zone episode and that this will all be over soon.

    Big Bird as Red Herring

    Stolen from the Center for Media and Democracy
    Source: New York Times, June 26, 2005

    The New York Times' Frank Rich warns that Sesame Street's Big Bird is the 'ornithological equivalent of a red herring.' The right's latest assault on public broadcasting is 'far more insidious and ingenious' than that seen under Newt Gingrich a decade ago. 'The intent is not to kill off PBS and NPR but to castrate them by quietly annexing their news and public affairs operations to the larger state propaganda machine that the Bush White House has been steadily constructing at taxpayers' expense. If you liked the fake government news videos that ended up on local stations - or thrilled to the 'journalism' of Armstrong Williams and other columnists who were covertly paid to promote administration policies - you'll love the brave new world this crowd envisions for public TV and radio,' Rich writes. The Corporation for Public Broadcasting's Kenneth Tomlinson has had a 'long career as a professional propagandist,' including currently heading the Broadcasting Board of Governors, the federal body that oversees Voice of America, Radio Sawa, and Al Hurra. 'That the administration's foremost propagandist would also be chairman of the board of CPB, the very organization meant to shield public broadcasting from government interference, is astonishing,' Rich writes.