Monday, August 29, 2005

Progressive Directory of West Michigan - Connecting Groups for Social Change

The Grand Rapids Institute for Information Democracy (GRIID) has created a progressive directory which includes approximately 75 organizations. Here's the link: Progressive Directory of West Michigan - Connecting Groups for Social Change

The Ultimate Water Park

New industry could help water supply and economic development

"Tom Newhof's plan to open a world-class water laboratory in downtown Grand Rapids seems like a promising, even exciting idea. The facility, which he has dubbed the Global Enterprise for Water Technology, would attract and incubate new-economy jobs by focusing on solutions to the incredibly complex problems now threatening the quality and quantity of the world's freshwater supply. But, so far, state economic development experts see little value in the idea. Mr. Newhof has campaigned unsuccessfully for the project since 2000, but has yet to attract any public financing. "

Read the Rest at: Michigan Land Use Institute

Saturday, August 27, 2005

Green Economics at Work in Dhaka Dump

In Bangladesh, an innovative Dhaka-based nonprofit has a plan to solve both the city's mounting garbage problem and the crisis of rural soil depletion. Through community composting, trash is converted into organic fertilizer that rural farmers can use to revitalize soil. The program, funded in part through the Kyoto Protocol's carbon credit scheme, also aims to generate electricity from gas emissions in Dhaka's dump.

More at: Wired News: Power Supply Is Down in the Dumps

Update: Michigan Citizens for Water Conservation vs. Nestle

Michigan Citizens for Water Conservation recently heard from the Michigan Court of Appeals on its motion against Nestle for modification or termination of the stay order allowing Nestle to pump 250 gallons/minute based on a monthly average.

The Court of Appeals denied MCWC's motion for modification of the stay order.

MCWC made the statement to the Court of Appeals and the Court now knows what is going on in Mecosta County. Nestle was granted an emergency stay to continue pumping at the Sanctuary Spring site in December 2003.

More info coming soon when the Court of Appeals issues its opinion on oral arguments heard from both sides in June 2005.

Plan to restore Great Lakes backed

An unprecedented plan to clean up the Great Lakes received a strong reception Tuesday night in Cleveland.

Ohio Gov. Bob Taft and many members of the public endorsed the $20.5 billion comprehensive proposal to protect and restore the Great Lakes.

Read more of this article at: Cleveland Plaindealer, Plan to restore Great Lakes backed

Friday, August 26, 2005

Global warming: Will you listen now, America?

Two of the leading contenders to contest the next US presidential election have delivered an urgent warning to the United States on global warming, saying the evidence of climate change has become too stark to ignore and human activity is a major cause.

Read the rest of this article at The Independent, Online Edition.

The 'Grieving Mom' Frame

In broad terms, the success of the 'grieving mom' phrase indicates that Americans are now thinking about the War in Iraq through the frame of the family, rather than thinking about Iraq through the frame of 'terrorism' or 'ideology.'

Check it out on Frameshop

Cartoon: Too Much Coffee Man

We accidentally freed Saddam from prison instead of Too-Much-Coffee-Man!

Local Fighters Usually Win

A truth ''that has been largely forgotten in the post-9/11 frenzy is that terrorism is a technique, not an ideology or a country. It is a technique that any group can pick up and use, without distinction of ideology, creed, or cause, and the people wielding it could as easily be fanatical anti-government Americans, Trotskyists, Germans, (or) Islamist Arabs.''

Read More: AlterNet: Local Fighters Usually Win

Preaching Justice, Slaying Demons

In anticipation of a battle fit for Christian soldiers, the planners of Justice Sunday II went big, booking a Nashville, Tennessee, megachurch and arranging the broadcast of their event to millions of homes and thousands of churches across the country through SkyAngel and the Trinity Broadcasting Network. When Justice Sunday II arrived, however, its intended galvanizing message seemed to have evaporated in the sweltering Tennessee night.

Read this article at: The Nation. Preaching Justice, Slaying Demons

Santorum's People Toss Young Women out of Barnes & Noble, Trooper Threatens Them with Prison

On the evening of August 10, Hannah Shaffer of Glen Mills, Pennsylvania, decided to go to the nearby Barnes & Noble outside of Wilmington. She wanted to see Pennsylvania Senator Rick Santorum, who was promoting his book, It Takes a Family.

The event was billed as a "book signing and discussion," Shaffer says. But discussion was the last thing that the Senator's people wanted.

Read about it here: The Progressive Magazine

Friday, August 19, 2005

Zebra Mussels

They're everywhere! Invasive species! Everywhere!
Photo courtesy of Ferris State University, Big Rapids, MI.

Thursday, August 18, 2005

Killing the peace-keeping myth: Canadian Forces on the road to Kandahar

The prevailing image of Canadian military interventions as benevolent, or at least neutral, though, should have been shattered any number of years ago as in Vietnam when it produced Agent Orange and sprayed it on its own unwitting soldiers at CFB Gagetown, or in Somalia, or in Iraq during the Gulf War and the subsequent sanctions regime. But this Canadian myth has proved stubborn. Finally, though, in this summer of 2005, it appears that it may be being put to rest by the country’s top general.

Read More of this at Seven Oaks Magazine.

Towards a Better Food Aid System: An Interview with Sophia Murphy

The main reason reform is so difficult is that there aren't strong domestic political constituencies that have an interest in moving to an all cash based system. The nongovernmental organizations would seem to be the most likely to push for these changes. But they are happy to be getting any aid at all, and worry about endangering the flow of food by pushing too hard for reform. And because many of these organizations get funds that they need from monetization of food aid, they actually have an interest in perpetuating the system.

Read the rest of the article on Mother Jones: Towards a Better Food Aid System: An Interview with Sophia Murphy

Should Roe Go?

Should prochoicers just give up and let Roe go? With the resignation of Sandra Day O'Connor, more people are asking that question. Democratic Party insiders quietly wonder if abandoning abortion rights would win back white Catholics and evangelicals. A chorus of pundits--among them David Brooks in the New York Times and the Washington Post's Benjamin Wittes writing in The Atlantic--argue that Roe's unforeseen consequences exact too high a price: on democracy, on public discourse, even, paradoxically, on abortion rights.

Read More at ZNet |Feminism/Gender | Should Roe Go?

Terror's Greatest Recruitment Tool

Hussain Osman, one of the men alleged to have participated in London's failed bombings on July 21, recently told Italian investigators that they prepared for the attacks by watching "films on the war in Iraq," La Repubblica reported. "Especially those where women and children were being killed and exterminated by British and American soldiers...of widows, mothers and daughters that cry."

Read More: Terror's Greatest Recruitment Tool

Terror's other greatest recruitment TOOL

For South Americans, War on Terror Looks Like 'Dirty War'

The recent turns in the war on terror look, to South American eyes, eerily like the Dirty Wars of the 1970s, when thousands of dissidents and rebels were imprisoned, tortured and often "disappeared."

Read More: Pacific News Service > News > For South Americans, War on Terror Looks Like 'Dirty War'

Fearing Backlash, Pentagon Moves to Block New Abu Ghraib Photos

The Pentagon has moved forcefully to block the release of new video evidence of prisoner abuse at Iraq's Abu Ghraib prison, arguing it would help recruit new Islamist insurgents and endanger American lives.

Read More: Fearing Backlash, Pentagon Moves to Block New Abu Ghraib Photos

Junk Food Nation

In recent months the major food companies have been trying hard to convince Americans that they feel the pain of our expanding waistlines, especially when it comes to kids. Kraft announced it would no longer market Oreos to younger children, McDonald's promoted itself as a salad producer and Coca-Cola said it won't advertise to kids under 12. But behind the scenes it's hardball as usual, with the junk food giants pushing the Bush Administration to defend their interests. The recent conflict over what America eats, and the way the government promotes food, is a disturbing example of how in Bush's America corporate interests trump public health, public opinion and plain old common sense.

Read more: The Nation: Junk Food Nation

Evangelical Scientists Refute Gravity With New 'Intelligent Falling' Theory

"Things fall not because they are acted upon by some gravitational force, but because a higher intelligence, 'God' if you will, is pushing them down," said Gabriel Burdett, who holds degrees in education, applied Scripture, and physics from Oral Roberts University.

Read this article on The Onion, Evangelical Scientists Refute Gravity With New 'Intelligent Falling' Theory

The True Price of Oil (or Exxon Blows)

Sixteen years after the Exxon Valdez spill, the Alaskans most affected by the spill haven't seen one cent of a $5 billion settlement.

Read about it on AlterNet: EnviroHealth: The True Price of Oil:

Wednesday, August 17, 2005

Peace Vigil Attracts 250 to Downtown Grand Rapids

About 250 people came out Wednesday, August 17th for a Peace Vigil at the Veterans Memorial in downtown Grand Rapids. The Memorial is located on the busy intersection of Fulton and Division Ave. Continuous honking was heard from passing motorists, police and bus drivers as folks on the sidewalk were encouraging drivers to "honk for peace." The vigil, which began at 7:00pm, went past its scheduled one hour planned time, lasting until well after dark.

"Bush Sucks" was shouted numerous times.

Organizers are planning a weekly "peace presence" in the same location on Monday evenings, until the end of the Iraq War.

Grand Dumpster Diving Cooperative

The Grand Dumpster Diving Cooperative is meeting Tuesday evenings, 7:00pm-ish at the Kava House in Eastown for planning and creative dumpster searches. This is your chance to become a radical recycler by grabbing corporate and business throw-away and using or reselling it for your own profit. Finders Keepers! Once it's on the curb, it's no longer their property! If you have a pick-up truck, that would be handy. Bring it. Come to the meeting with ideas about special dumpsters you'd like to dive, and let us know. No trespassing on private property is allowed within the group.

Tuesday, August 16, 2005

Monsanto files patent for new invention: the pig

It's official. Monsanto Corporation is out to own the world's food supply, the dangers of genetic engineering and reduced biodiversity notwithstanding, as they pig-headedly set about hog-tying farmers with their monopoly plans. Chilling new evidence of this in recent patents that seek to establish ownership rights over pigs and their offspring.

Read the entire article: Monsanto files patent for new invention: the pig | Greenpeace International

Saturday, August 13, 2005

Warming hits 'tipping point'

More depressing global warming news...

Siberia feels the heat. It's a frozen peat bog the size of France and Germany combined, contains billions of tons of greenhouse gas and, for the first time since the ice age, it is melting.

Ian Sample, science correspondent
Thursday August 11, 2005
The Guardian

A vast expanse of western Sibera is undergoing an unprecedented thaw that could dramatically increase the rate of global warming, climate scientists warn today. Researchers who have recently returned from the region found that an area of permafrost spanning a million square kilometres - the size of France and Germany combined - has started to melt for the first time since it formed 11,000 years ago at the end of the last ice age.

The area, which covers the entire sub-Arctic region of western Siberia, is the world's largest frozen peat bog and scientists fear that as it thaws, it will release billions of tonnes of methane, a greenhouse gas 20 times more potent than carbon dioxide, into the atmosphere. It is a scenario climate scientists have feared since first identifying "tipping points" - delicate thresholds where a slight rise in the Earth's temperature can cause a dramatic change in the environment that itself triggers a far greater increase in global temperatures.

The discovery was made by Sergei Kirpotin at Tomsk State University in western Siberia and Judith Marquand at Oxford University and is reported in New Scientist today. The researchers found that what was until recently a barren expanse of frozen peat is turning into a broken landscape of mud and lakes, some more than a kilometre across. Dr Kirpotin told the magazine the situation was an "ecological landslide that is probably irreversible and is undoubtedly connected to climatic warming". He added that the thaw had probably begun in the past three or four years.

Climate scientists yesterday reacted with alarm to the finding, and warned that predictions of future global temperatures would have to be revised upwards.
"When you start messing around with these natural systems, you can end up in situations where it's unstoppable. There are no brakes you can apply," said David Viner, a senior scientist at the Climatic Research Unit at the University of East Anglia. "This is a big deal because you can't put the permafrost back once it's gone. The causal effect is human activity and it will ramp up temperatures even more than our emissions are doing."

In its last major report in 2001, the intergovernmental panel on climate change predicted a rise in global temperatures of 1.4C-5.8C between 1990 and 2100, but the estimate only takes account of global warming driven by known greenhouse gas emissions. "These positive feedbacks with landmasses weren't known about then. They had no idea how much they would add to global warming," said Dr. Viner.

Western Siberia is heating up faster than anywhere else in the world, having experienced a rise of some 3C in the past 40 years. Scientists are particularly concerned about the permafrost, because as it thaws, it reveals bare ground which warms up more quickly than ice and snow, and so accelerates the rate at which the permafrost thaws.

Siberia's peat bogs have been producing methane since they formed at the end of the last ice age, but most of the gas had been trapped in the permafrost. According to Larry Smith, a hydrologist at the University of California, Los Angeles, the west Siberian peat bog could hold some 70bn tonnes of methane, a quarter of all of the methane stored in the ground around the world.

The permafrost is likely to take many decades at least to thaw, so the methane locked within it will not be released into the atmosphere in one burst, said Stephen Sitch, a climate scientist at the Met Office's Hadley Centre in Exeter. But calculations by Dr. Sitch and his colleagues show that even if methane seeped from the permafrost over the next 100 years, it would add around 700m tonnes of carbon into the atmosphere each year, roughly the same amount that is released annually from the world's wetlands and agriculture. It would effectively double atmospheric levels of the gas, leading to a 10% to 25% increase in global warming, he said.

Tony Juniper, director of Friends of the Earth, said the finding was a stark message to politicians to take concerted action on climate change. "We knew at some point we'd get these feedbacks happening that exacerbate global warming, but this could lead to a massive injection of greenhouse gases. "If we don't take action very soon, we could unleash runaway global warming that will be beyond our control and it will lead to social, economic and environmental devastation worldwide," he said. "There's still time to take action, but not much. "The assumption has been that we wouldn't see these kinds of changes until the world is a little warmer, but this suggests we're running out of time."

In May this year, another group of researchers reported signs that global warming was damaging the permafrost. Katey Walter of the University of Alaska, Fairbanks, told a meeting of the Arctic Research Consortium of the US that her team had found methane hotspots in eastern Siberia. At the hotspots, methane was bubbling to the surface of the permafrost so quickly that it was preventing the surface from freezing over.

Last month, some of the world's worst air polluters, including the US and Australia, announced a partnership to cut greenhouse gas emissions through the use of new technologies. The deal came after Tony Blair struggled at the G8 summit to get the US president to commit to any concerted action on climate change and has been heavily criticised for setting no targets for reductions in greenhouse gas emissions.

Saturday, August 06, 2005

A Plan for the Great Lakes Emerges

In December 2004, the Great Lakes Regional Collaboration of National Significance (GLRC) was launched, creating a partnership of key members from federal, state, and local governments, tribes, and others for the purpose of developing a strategic action plan for clean-up of the Great Lakes. This strategic plan was intended to build upon regional efforts to date, working together toward a common goal of restoring and protecting the Great Lakes ecosystem for future generations.

An Executive Committee made up of elected and appointed officials from different levels of government has helped guide the GLRC over the past year as the strategic plan has been developed. Eight Strategy Teams, each focusing on a different issue affecting the Great Lakes basin, began work in January 2005 to develop recommendations for action. Teams included: invasive species, habitat, wetlands, etc. The strategic plan is the result of that collaborative process and it is now being released for public comment. It is important to note that as the plan is in its early stages, it has not yet been officially endorsed by any GLRC member agencies or partners. Access the strategic plan at:

I was present at the recent public meeting at Grand Valley State University in Grand Rapids. Congressman Vern Ehlers (R) and Grand Rapids Mayor George Heartwell hosted the event. 33 community leaders spoke, representing a diverse cross-section of the environmental community in West Michigan. Groups present included: Clean Water Action, Nat'l Wildlife Federation, Sierra Club, etc. A number of individuals from government agencies were also present.

Your comments and assistance are needed in order to inform the GLRC as it completes the strategy later this year. The public comment period will opened on July 7, and closes on September 9, 2005. Specifically, the public’s view of what are the highest priority issues is needed. There are several ways to provide comments and to become involved in the process:

Commenting on-line A web site at has been developed to facilitate comments electronically. The site contains the strategic plan and instructions for submitting comments.

Providing written comments If you wish to provide written comments, EPA’s Great Lakes National Program Office will receive the comments on behalf of the GLRC. Please send them to USEPA-GLNPO, 77 W. Jackson Blvd. (G-17J), Chicago, IL 60604.

Public Meetings A series of five public meetings will be held during the comment period which will provide the opportunity to meet with members of the GLRC, to hear more about the plan and to provide valuable input. Written comments will be accepted at these public meetings. Additional information on the dates, times and locations of the meetings can be found at

All written comments will be reviewed and considered as the plan is revised later this year. The strategic plan will be finalized and released on December 12, 2005 at Summit II in Chicago, Illinois.