Wednesday, November 30, 2005

Child Molester in My Neighborhood

I found out last night, while watching the 11 o'clock news on WOTV Channel 8, that the guy who runs a daycare center on Fuller Ave. here in northeast Grand Rapids, Michigan has been molesting the children in his care. You see this kind of nightmare on "Law and Order" or "CSI," but you never think it could happen near you. The proximity of this crime is deeply disturbing. (there's more)

This daycare house is on the corner of Kelsey St. and Fuller Ave., and is easily recognizable from the large, brightly colored playground equipment in the chain-link fenced front yard. It is on the opposite side of the street from a Methodist church. So, not only was he raping little girls, he was committing this heinous crime less than 100ft from a house of worship. The thousands of Grand Rapidians who pass by this Fuller Ave. house on their way to work each day will easily recognize the residence I am referring to. It is less than 100 yards north of my house.

The alledged pedophile's daycare center had it's license revoked November 29th. The pervert is currently in custody after 2 children told their parents that this obese-piece-o-human-waste molested them. This same daycare home was inspected in December of 2004 and was found to have kiddie porn on a computer. The state did not act to shut down this daycare for 11 more months because the police officer present did not understand the kiddie porn law and did not know that kiddie porn refers to any lewd photos of people under 18, even though the state licensing investigator showed them to the cop. Allegations of physical abuse surfaced two years ago when a little girl told her parents that this man was hurting her.

I'm not encouraging anyone to do anything illegal, but let us as a community come together to let this creep know that he is no longer welcome here.

Whatever can be done to keep this pervert locked away for as long as possible MUST be done. Let's castrate the bastard, let's make certain that he can never go near another child ever again, and let's also make certain that he knows that he is not welcome back in Grand Rapids when he gets out of prison. Let's make it clearly known nationwide that sexual predators will not be tolerated in our community.

Please forward this message to everyone you know. Thanks.

Tuesday, November 29, 2005

Grand Rapids, Detroit among Inner Cities Rapidly Losing Jobs

Media Mouse is reporting the results of a Harvard study on job losses in an article entitled Grand Rapids, Detroit among Inner Cities Rapidly Losing Jobs

"...nearly half of the country's 82 largest municipalities lost jobs from 1995 to 2003, while only one of the surrounding metropolitan areas surveyed lost jobs during the same period. Of the forty municipalities that lost jobs, Grand Rapids and Detroit were among the worst with the most jobs lost.

While the numbers provided in the study are useful, it is important to also consider that it comes from Harvard University's Initiative for a Competitive Inner City, a research group advocating free-market policies as a way of improving the inner city. The Initiative's chair, Harvard business professor Michael Porter, advocates limiting the role of government programs and argues that tax incentives and deregulation will provide substantial improvements to the inner city. Porter has largely dismissed government programs creating jobs, providing job skill training, and designating some cities as redevelopment districts. Instead of providing one-time grants for projects, Porter and the Initiative see the shift towards tax incentives instead of grants as a positive policy shift, with Porter arguing that "you can give somebody a one-time grant, but if you can cut their taxes each and every year, that’s serious coin, potentially." However, the conclusion is based on theory rather than hard facts as the Department of Housing and Urban Development does not currently track the data necessary to measure the overall effectiveness of its tax incentive programs."

In a related article,the Mouse delivers: 26 companies and industries have been reported as exporting jobs within a 100 mile radius of ZIP code 49501. That's Grand Rapids, baby.

University of Capetown's Disposable Solar Panel

Sounding Circle is reporting a prototype method for printing solar panels on paper. I did a google search to see if I could find a photo, but no luck. John doesn't appear to have found an image either. This is a stunning development in solar technology. John describes the process of printing solar panels on paper:

"The method seems to involve printing with modified color printers, using three or four separate print runs with black, blue, yellow and magenta inks containing tiny silicon particles. They print the metal contacts, then the semiconductor structure, then more contacts. The voltage and power output of the solar cell is determined by the size of the poster. An "A2-sized poster" will deliver up to 100W of power, enough to charge a cellphone, power a radio or provide five hours of lighting, according to Prof David Britton. News coverage from SA outlets mentions that 'Shops could stock rolls of solar panel posters, and cut it to meet a customer's needs. The poster could be mounted behind a window or attached to a cabinet'.

Apparently the research team is seeking to commercialise the project. Coupling nanotech with AutoCad fast prototyping is about as advanced as TreeHugging gets. Let's hope they're as good at business as they are at inventing because this could help drive down the price much faster than anyone imagined possible. Recalling that paper can be made of various non-woven polymer strands that are entirely water resistant, this seems like it has great potential."

Monday, November 28, 2005

$6.3 million cleanup of Newton Creek and Hog Island Inlet is finished

This is actually GOOD NEWS! In Superior, Wisconsin today state and federal officials announced the completion of cleanup of contaminated sediment from Newton Creek and Hog Island Inlet. The $6.3 million cleanup project was the second completed under the Great Lakes Legacy Act of 2002, a special initiative to clean up 31 pollution hotspots on the U.S. side of the Great Lakes. The creek and the inlet are part of the St. Louis River watershed, the largest tributary to drain into Lake Superior...(there's more)

Over the past four months, EPA and the Wisconsin Dept. of Natural Resources have removed 60,000 tons of sediment polluted by petroleum products and lead from the mouth of the creek and the man-made inlet. The contamination damaged the habitat for fish and other aquatic life and local officials had posted "No Swimming" signs around the area, which have now been removed.

The Legacy Act project was the final step in the cleanup of 3-mile-long Newton Creek and Hog Island Inlet. Murphy Oil Co., which owns a refinery in Superior, cleaned up the upper reaches of Newton Creek in the mid-1990s and WDNR cleaned up the middle stretches in 2003.

Contaminated sediment is one of the major reasons why many Great Lakes fish are not safe to eat in unlimited quantities. It also harms aquatic habitat and pollutes sources of drinking water. This has been a long-term and persistent problem throughout the entire Great Lakes basin. There are still millions of cubic yards of contaminated sediment to be removed from the Great Lakes.

The Great Lakes Legacy Act authorizes $270 million in funding over five years for cleanups of contaminated sediment hotspots. In 2004, the first year funds were available, Congress appropriated $9.9 million. In 2005, Congress appropriated $22.3 million and $30 million will be available in 2006. The cleanup of the Black Lagoon, an inlet of the Detroit River in Trenton, Mich. was completed earlier this month. Another Legacy Act project is currently underway at Ruddiman Creek in Muskegon, Michigan, and more projects are expected to begin soon.

Sunday, November 27, 2005

REVIEW: The Quest for Environmental Justice: Human Rights and the Politics of Pollution

Author: Robert D Bullard
Review by: Publishers Weekly (Copyright Reed Business Information, Inc.)

Click to find out more

Dr. Robert Bullard offers a disturbing account of the environmental and human cost of the excesses of capitalism in this follow-up to Unequal Protection: Environmental Justice and Communities of Color. This volume takes a fresh look at the often unequal distribution of environmental hazards to poor and minority communities, examining locations from Louisiana's "Cancer Alley" to Nigeria. In part one, women activists detail their gutsy battles against the combined power of business and government when their minority neighborhoods were threatened by industrial pollution. Part two tells the stories of people (again, mostly minorities and the poor) living in "sacrifice zones," such as Cancer Alley - the stretch down the Mississippi River in Louisiana where approximately 80 percent of the total African American community in the nine parishes lives within three miles of a polluting facility. Parts three and four examine Chicano struggles in the Southwest and global justice issues, "including corrupt... petro-capitalism" in Nigeria, where deep poverty persists despite the country's oil wealth. Readers can learn much about those who pay the costs in safety and health for many of modern life's conveniences.

Find books about Environmental Justice

CIA's Homepage for Kids

If you haven't been there yet, maybe you should check out the Central Intelligence Agency Homepage for Kids. It's a hoot. You may especially enjoy an oddly-shaped blue teddy-bear named Ginger who takes a journey through CIA's Virginia headquarters. Ginger escapes from an analyst's desk; a mysterious analyst named Marta who seems to be missing from work, but keeps a supply of stuffed animals in her cubicle. Ginger can be found on the Agency's K-5th grade page. Far be it from me to criticize the good folks at the CIA, I know they're busy hunting for Bin Laden, but ask yourself this, dear reader, Don't you think you could make a better cartoon bear if you had a $30 billion budget?

"Look Osama, there's no security in the lobby!"

Hey Ginger, while you're there, could you find out if Amy Goodman is an undercover agent? There's something sinister about the show Democracy Now! Also you may be interested in Jennifer Garner's recruiting story on the CIA's career webpage. Isn't Garner, after all, just another undercover agent like Valerie Plame-Wilson?

Saturday, November 26, 2005

E.L.F. Strikes Again

Earth Liberation Front sent an e-mail to The Herald-Mail newspaper in Hagerstown, Maryland saying they 'put the torch to a development of Ryan Homes ... to strike at the bottom line of this country's most notorious serial land rapists.' Three town houses were damaged and one was destroyed just before 4 a.m. in the development near the Centre at Hagerstown on U.S. 40 on November 22nd.

Read it here: The Herald-Mail ONLINE: Terrorist group claims responsibility for fires

Friday, November 25, 2005

Are UP mining jobs worth the environmental risk?

Found this today in the Toledo Blade.

ANN ARBOR, Mich. - Mention the words mining and Upper Peninsula and most people think of copper, and a bygone era. Yet Kennecott Minerals has discovered a huge nickel deposit under an area in Marquette County - possibly a billion dollars worth, or more. Jon Cherry, Kennecott's project manager, said it holds the potential for about 120 jobs, mostly for local people, that would last seven to nine years. That would be a considerable economic plus, especially on the western half of the UP, where neither people nor jobs are in big supply. But environmentalists are not so sure this is a good idea. That's because the Eagle project is what is called a sulfide mine... (there's more)

This means that the process of getting out the nickel could, if something goes wrong, easily release sulfuric acid into nearby lakes and streams, one of which, the Salmon River, is the only place where a subspecies called the coaster brook trout live and spawn.

Phil Power, a former newspaper publisher, is torn over the issue. As the state chair of the Michigan chapter of the Nature Conservancy, he is acutely sensitive to the need to safeguard Michigan's environment.

But Mr. Power is also vice-chair of the MEDC, the Michigan Economic Development Corporation, which is charged with bringing employment to a state which this week saw thousands of jobs eliminated by General Motors. "An intriguing and exciting idea," he said of the plan for the nickel mine. But not worth the risk in that area.

(This, to me, seems like a conflict of interest that should be brought to the attention of the Nature Conservancy Board of Trustees - Black Bear Speaks)

However, Kennecott's Jon Cherry said the mine would be safe. "Every precaution will be taken. The rules set a very high standard. We can meet all the rules, we can exceed them," he said. If Kennecott goes ahead with the mine, he pledged to set up a liner to make sure there is no seepage of acid from the rocks that would have to be disturbed to get at the nickel deposit.

However, even Mr. Cherry admits that preliminary studies show 80 percent of the rocks involved have the potential to generate sulfuric acid. "I have to say, better safe than sorry," said Mr. Power.

The state government also became concerned when it first learned more than two years ago that Kennecott was thinking about a sulfide mine. "That set off alarm bells," said Skip Pruss, deputy director of the Michigan Department of Environmental Quality, or DEQ.

"We believed we didn't have the regulatory tools to address sulfide mining," Mr. Pruss said. So in a rare show of bipartisanship, the legislature passed a law a year ago toughening mining regulations. It grants broad and exclusive authority to regulate mining to the DEQ, and requires strict standards for cleaning up a mine site and returning it to nature after it is no longer being run.

Since then, the various parties have been hammering out rules to govern mining in the state. The DEQ is holding public hearings on the proposed rules Nov. 29 in Escanaba, Nov. 30 in Marquette, and Dec. 7 in Lansing (check for details.)

Kennecott officials say they haven't made the final decision to go ahead. If they do, they need to apply for an array of permits, Mr. Pruss said. The earliest a mine could be up and running, given the work that needs to be done, would be several years from now. And though all signs indicate that Kennecott intends to go ahead, Mr. Cherry indicated that no final decision has been made.

Perhaps the final word - for now - should go to Kristy Mills, who owns a store not far from the proposed Eagle mine. She could use more customers, for certain. But she isn't sure about Kennecott.

"You know we need tourism and visiting, not mining and hauling ore around in big trucks," she said in a telephone interview, and then paused.

"It's gonna be interesting," she said. She may be more right than she realized. A number of other firms are looking for possible mining sites in the UP. Skip Pruss' rules may soon be repeatedly put to the test.

Jack Lessenberry, a member of the journalism faculty at Wayne State University in Detroit and The Blade’s ombudsman, writes on issues and people in Michigan.
» E-mail him at or call 1-888-746-8610.
» Read more Jack Lessenberry columns at

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Internet will allow citizens to weigh in on water quality

Of The Oakland Press

The International Joint Commission is hosting an innovative Web Dialogue, Tuesday through Dec. 2, to allow citizens of the United States and Canada to comment on and discuss the Great Lakes Water Quality Agreement.
The agreement between the United States and Canada was signed in 1972 and last updated in 1987... (there's more)

"The governments of the U.S. and Canada will be reviewing this agreement beginning in March of 2006," said Frank Bevacqua, public information officer for the International Joint Commission in Washington, D.C.

"The review will be done directly by the governments of the U.S and Canada led by the U.S Environmental Protection Agency and Environment Canada," he said. "The IJC has been asked to consult with the public in the Great Lakes basin before the review begins."

The International Joint Commission, said Bevacqua, "was created by the Boundary Waters Treaty (of 1909) to help the United States and Canada prevent and resolve disputes over the use of the shared waters." The operating budget of the commission is funded jointly by the U.S. and Canadian federal governments.

About 56 billion gallons of water from the Great Lakes are used daily for municipal, industrial and agricultural purposes, according to the IJC. In the water quality agreement, said Bevacqua, "the two countries commit to restoring and maintaining the chemical, physical and biological integrity of the waters of the Great Lakes basin ecosystem, and they agree to common objectives and cooperative programs to achieve that goal."

There are 37 million Americans and Canadians who live in the Great Lakes basin. More than 40 million - including 1.2 million in Oakland County - get their drinking water from within the basin, and theoretically people with Internet access could talk with each other and make their opinions known during the dialogue.

"We're excited," said Bevacqua. "We held 14 meetings, but it's a very big basin, and we're hoping that this will make it convenient for anyone who wants to participate."

John Klemanski, chairman of the political science department at Oakland University, said the concept of a Web dialogue is a good one, but "getting the word out that that's available is a challenge."

If something is only available online, then it's only available to people with online access, he said. "I think a lot of this online voting and the online environment itself really appeals to younger people," he said. Younger people, he said, "might find it easier and interesting and maybe become aware of it because they're online doing something else."

Online forums as an engine for gathering public comment and for shaping public policy won't completely replace live public meetings, he said, but can supplement them. "As long as that's interactive, I think that method is just as good," said Klemanski.

The IJC is trying to make the dialogue as interactive as possible. For example, an Oakland County resident in Waterford Township, who lives near the Clinton River, which flows to Lake St. Clair and eventually to Lake Erie, will be able to interact with someone who lives in Montreal ‹ the dialogue will be bilingual in English and French with translators available 10 hours daily.

"The Web dialogue is a four-day discussion with an agenda, topics and expert panelists," said Bevacqua. "It's open to anyone who cares about the Great Lakes.
It's designed to discuss the full range of public views and issues of concern that would relate to the Great Lakes Water Quality Agreement, and the end result will be to identify issues the governments should consider when they review the agreement.

"You have to register, but it's very convenient," he said. "Anyone who has access to the Internet can join the discussion at any time during the four days."

The discussion is crucial, according to Cyndi Roper, Great Lakes policy director for Clean Water Action, because "we have a significant responsibility to the Great Lakes waters on the U.S. side, Canada has a great responsibility as well. To the extent that we can get together to work out the rules of the road as to how we protect our water, the better off we all are in the long run."

The agreement, said Mike Shriberg, director of the Public Interest Research Group in Michigan, based in Ann Arbor, is in serious need of an update.

"The agreement really right now isn't a particularly useful tool because the times and the threats have changed and it doesn't go far enough," he said. The group, which is launching an e-mail campaign to weigh in on the water quality agreement review, is pushing for changes, such as the inclusion of what environmentalists call the precautionary principle.

"Anyone who is proposing to use new chemicals in the Great Lakes should have to prove that they are safe beyond a shadow of a doubt," he said. Right now, that burden of proof rests, not with the manufacturer, but with private citizens and government regulators, he said. "Invoking the precautionary principle, he said, would not stop new industries from establishing themselves in the basin, "but it would mean polluters would have to show there would be no harm to the lakes before a plant was sited. Polluters should also be required to pay for cleanup, treatment and any harm to victims from pollutants instead of taxpayers bearing the burden," he said.

While there is some concern that reviewing the water quality agreement will result in a more lax regulatory environment, said Shriberg, "the point here is the Great Lakes Water Quality Agreement is not driving water quality and is not driving cleanup of the Great Lakes right now.

"In our view because the agreement is not fulfilling its mission anyway, there's little danger (of dismantling a regulatory structure), and there's only one way this could move and that is forward."

Wednesday, November 23, 2005

John Rendon: The Man Who Sold the War

While the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence drags its feet on discovering how the White House sold the Iraq war, journalist James Bamford has written a major expose on one of the key players: John Rendon. In his Rolling Stone story "The Man Who Sold the War," Bamford traces the development of Rendon and his firm The Rendon Group (TRG) from Democratic Party organizer to Kuwaiti liberator to secretive Pentagon propagandist-for-hire. In a rare interview, Rendon "boasted openly" to Bamford of "the sweep and importance of his firm's efforts as a for-profit spy." One example of TRG's work is the story of Iraqi exile Adnan Ihsan Saeed al-Haideri, who claimed Saddam Hussein had tons of biological, chemical and nuclear weapons. The fact that al-Haideri failed CIA polygraph tests didn't stop TRG from giving Judith Miller the print exclusive interview. "Her front-page story, which hit the stands on December 20th, 2001, was exactly the kind of exposure Rendon had been hired to provide," Bamford writes... (more)

Here's a link to Rolling Stone: Meet John Rendon, The Man Who Sold the War. But keep an open mind. There are a number of reasons to be skeptical of this information, the most important of which is that John Rendon denies several of the key points...

The Highlights:

"Rendon is a man who fills a need that few people even know exists... ...One of the most powerful people in Washington, Rendon is a leader in the strategic field known as "perception management," manipulating information -- and, by extension, the news media -- to achieve the desired result. His firm, the Rendon Group, has made millions off government contracts since 1991, when it was hired by the CIA to help "create the conditions for the removal of Hussein from power." Working under this extraordinary transfer of secret authority, Rendon assembled a group of anti-Saddam militants, personally gave them their name -- the Iraqi National Congress -- and served as their media guru and "senior adviser" as they set out to engineer an uprising against Saddam. "

And more of the same:

"Rendon is one of the most influential of the private contractors in Washington who are increasingly taking over jobs long reserved for highly trained CIA employees. In recent years, spies-for-hire have begun to replace regional desk officers, who control clandestine operations around the world; watch officers at the agency's twenty-four-hour crisis center; analysts, who sift through reams of intelligence data; and even counterintelligence officers in the field, who oversee meetings between agents and their recruited spies. According to one senior administration official involved in intelligence-budget decisions, half of the CIA's work is now performed by private contractors -- people completely unaccountable to Congress. Another senior budget official acknowledges privately that lawmakers have no idea how many rent-a-spies the CIA currently employs -- or how much unchecked power they enjoy."

Frankly, I think this story is complete bullshit. Why has John Rendon been hidden for decades? I think reporter James Bamford made most of this up, or he had help in drafting this story. The writing is not consistent. There are several different writing styles apparent, both male and female.

Here's the most blatant discrepancy, compare these two sentences.

It is an unusual career twist for someone who entered politics as an opponent of the Vietnam War.

As the Mass ended and Moran's Australian-flag-draped coffin passed by the mourners, Rendon lifted his right arm and saluted.

John Rendon was never in the military. Why the hell would he salute a coffin; especially the coffin of someone who was also not in the military?

Here's the clincher:

Rendon was also charged with engaging in "military deception" online -- an activity once assigned to the OSI. The company was contracted to monitor Internet chat rooms in both English and Arabic -- and "participate in these chat rooms when/if tasked." Rendon would also create a Web site "with regular news summaries and feature articles. Targeted at the global public, in English and at least four (4) additional languages, this activity also will include an extensive e-mail push operation." These techniques are commonly used to plant a variety of propaganda, including false information.

Read between the lines. The writer (or writers) of this article is actually telling you that he is lying to you.

Rendon, by the way, is also the name of a small town in Texas, a suburb of Ft. Worth, that is about 100 miles north of Crawford.

Tuesday, November 22, 2005

Dow Corning/Aegis get slapped

Dow Corning Corp. and Aegis Environmental Management Inc. of Midland, Michigan violated federal rules on the sale and export of pesticides. A $268K penalty has been assessed against the companies as part of a settlement. Dow and Aegis have been selling and exporting pesticides without proper labeling.

The Feds collected labels and shipping records from samples of pesticides packaged, labeled and released for shipment from a Dow Corning facility in Midland destined for Korea, Thailand, Columbia, Peru, Taiwan, Belgium and Japan. The labels were written entirely in English and lacked translation of key pesticide information into the predominant language of the countries receiving the products.

Imagine not being able to read the directions on a bottle of bugkiller that you are putting on your garden vegetables. How much do you use, what's safe and what isn't, how often do you apply it? Seems like a silly thing until you realize that the folks in South America spraying vegetables are shipping them back here for you to buy at your local grocery store. Not so funny now, is it?

Muskegon gets $103K under new federal community environmental improvement program

The Muskegon County Environmental Coordinating Council, a nonprofit, will receive a $103K federal grant to address local eco-issues identified by Muskegon County residents. Results of a 2-year local study showed that Muskegon residents are most concerned about exposure to lead-based paint, contaminated drinking water and septic systems, air quality, contaminated fisheries and recycling.

So, the first question that pops into my head is "Why the hell did it take you 2 years to figure that out?" The second question, "Have you fired the idiot who took 2 years to get the answers to simple questions?"

The money is to be used to: Inform residents and visitors of health risks/benefits of eating locally caught fish; improve understanding of self-contamination issues at households that rely on private wells for drinking water; get more children in Muskegon tested for lead poisoning; raise local awareness of the health effects from airborne pollutants from local industries; and expand local recycling efforts. Apparently all you can do with $100K is make brochures and sit around and talk... hmmm, anyone want to give me a hundred grand?

Also the feds are giving $50,000 worth of "contract services" to MCECC to help it analyze opportunities to redevelop brownfields in Muskegon. That's basically a free consultant. Consultant for what, to teach you how to get a group of people in a circle and talk?

Millions of acres of public land to be privatized

Early in the morning of November 18, 2005, millions of acres of federal public lands were opened to corporate and private ownership. Whether you were aware of this or not, it's too late. Now it moves into the Senate for approval. It's almost as if the argument for/against drilling in the Alaska National Wildlife Refuge was a distraction, a ruse to distract the media and conservationists from the real issue. The Republicans have screwed you hard, screwed your children and have pretty much assured that your grandchildren are screwed as well.

By a vote of 217-215, the U.S. House of Representatives approved the Republican budget bill, which contains mining provisions introduced by House Resources Committee Chairman Richard Pombo (R-California) that allow land speculators and multi-national mining and energy corporations to take ownership of millions of acres of federal public lands in the West. Pombo's provisions also prohibit the federal government from imposing royalties on minerals and metals removed from public lands, thus foregoing trillions of dollars in potential revenues that could help offset the staggering budget deficit...

Read More: Green Media Toolshed

Canada's Chemical Valley

This a copy of a Great Lakes Radio Consortium transcript of Rick Pluta's report on the chemical industry in Ontario. This is important. The toxins that flow into the St. Clair River and Lake Huron eventually make their way into the entire Great Lakes ecosystem and affect all of our drinking water.

"North of Detroit, just across the border from Michigan is Canada's Chemical Valley. It's a complex of dozens of petro-chemical factories that employ thousands of people near Sarnia, Ontario. Chemical Valley is the center of the economy here, but it also has a major environmental effect on the Great Lakes. That's because Chemical Valley sits on the Saint Clair River, one of the rivers that connects Lake Huron to Lake Erie. What happens on the Saint Clair River affects thousands of people who downstream from the plants. Chemical spills from Sarnia have polluted the shorelines of both countries...

Jim Brophy is the director of a health clinic for people who work in the sprawling complex of factories on the Canadian side of the Saint Clair River. Brophy says he's seen people suffering and lives shortened by cancer, respiratory failure, and neurological disorders. "It's an unbelievable tragedy because these diseases are all completely preventable, but arose both because of government and industry negligence over the course of 30 or 40 years, or even longer." Brophy says many of those health problems are also being exported downstream to other communities.

The Aamjiwnaang tribe makes its home right next to the Chemical Valley complex. A recent study of Aamjiwnaang birth records found that, in the last decade, instead of births being about half girls and half boys, only one-third of the babies born on the reservation were boys. Shifts in reproduction patterns often serve as a signal of an environmental imbalance. Jim Brophy says that suggests the impact of Sarnia's chemical industry on the environment and people deserves more attention.

"We cannot put a particular exposure from a particular place and link that at this point, but what we are putting together are pieces of a puzzle, and I think that's becoming a major concern not just for our community and not just for the American community on the other side of the river, but I think for people all along the Great Lakes."

Environmental regulators agree. The province of Ontario recently ordered 11 facilities to clean up their operations so there are fewer spills and emissions. Although the provincial government has little power to enforce those orders, officials say it's a step in the right direction.

Dennis Schornack is the U.S. chair of the International Joint Commission. The IJC looks to resolve disputes and solve problems in the Great Lakes international waters. He says that, since World War II, Chemical Valley has changed the character of the Saint Clair River. "We really have to watch this for drinking water - that's the main thing. Canada does not draw its drinking water from the river and the U.S. does."

So communities on the U.S. side have to deal with chemical spills and other pollution in their drinking water, but they have no control over the polluters on the other side of the border.

Peter Cobb is a plant manager who sits on the board of the Sarnia-Lambton Environmental Association. That's a consortium of Sarnia petro-chemical operations. He says the problem is spills into the Saint Clair River peaked in the 1980s, when there were roughly 100 spills a year. He says now that's down to five to 10 spills a year. "We have made significant progress. Having said that, our target remains zero spills per year, and industry is well aware that our current performance does not meet our own target as well as the expectations of the public." Cobb also acknowledges there have been some major setbacks in the last couple of years. Some big spills have forced downstream communities to once again stop taking their drinking water from the Saint Clair River. Cobb says Chemical Valley will try to do better. "

New Hispanic Environmental Health Webpage

The EPA has launched a new webpage in Spanish dedicated to providing information on different environmental issues and their effects among Hispanics. The new page, 'El medio ambiente y su salud', The Environment and Your Health, will focus on a different issue every month. For the first month in this series the key issue is asthma. EPA offers general information about the disease, what triggers it, FAQs about asthma, and environmental health studies of Hispanics with asthma.

The creation of this site strikes me as odd and interesting, mainly because it seems that this should have been done a decade ago. It's about time. Does this mean that the EPA finally hired someone who is fluent in Spanish?

Visit: 'El medio ambiente y su salud

Canada's hidden environmental problems

Winisk is a former Royal Canadian Air Force radar base nestled on the edge of Northern Ontario's Polar Bear Provincial Park on Hudson Bay, one of the most pristine wilderness areas left on earth. Abandoned by the military 40 years ago, this toxic wasteland has been left to rot, its chemicals leaking into the ground, as federal and provincial authorities bicker over who should pay for a cleanup.

Read this article in its original location: The Globe and Mail: A toxic legacy in the heart of the wilderness Then write your congressman.

Bring rotten tomatoes and onions to throw

From RENEW Wisconsin/Renew Energy Blog:

"The Bradshaw-Knight Foundation is sponsoring a debate on Global Warming, Energy Policy, and the Role of Government on Nov. 28, 2005 at 7:00 p.m. at the Wisconsin Historical Society, 816 State Street (across from the Memorial Union). Carl Pope, executive director of the national Sierra Club, will debate Jerry Taylor, Director of Natural Resources Studies at the Cato Institute.
The Sierra Club is dedicated to the preservation and protection of the envrionment through democratically-based grassroots organizations. The Cato Institute is devoted to conservative principles of limited government, individual liberty, and free markets."

More talk, less action.

Sunday, November 20, 2005

Submit to the Bear!

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Wednesday, November 16, 2005

Grizzlies to be removed from the Endangered Species List

CNN reported this week that the EPA is considering removing grizzlies from the endangered species list. The grizzly population in Yellowstone National Park and in the surrounding mountains of Montana has tripled since listing in 1975. The Grizzlies current range in the United States is primarily the Greater Yellowstone Bioregion, stretching northwards into Glacier National Park, and large parts of Alaska. I would like to see a report on who in the cattle industry has been supporting this effort. Access to grazing allotments on federal land is a huge issue in Montana. The ability to shoot a few "nuisance" bears every now again and remove them from the habitat would expand the areas currently available for grazing.

My relationship with bears in the Yellowstone region began in the spring of 1999, when I went to work at the Old Faithful Inn in Yellowstone National Park. Bear encounters in Yellowstone are rare these days. During the 18 months that I worked there I only saw four. I had three rather harrowing Grizzly encounters, including one in which I spent 6 hours in a tent in zero degree weather while a grizzly killed an elk and ate it near our campsite. The sound of an elk being torn apart - ribs snapping like dry branches being stepped upon on the forest floor - is not something you ever forget. This incident haunts me to this day, and I endured frequent nightmares for months...

AMFAC Parks & Resorts, Inc. and a couple park rangers taught me most of what I know about bears during my first week of training at Yellowstone. However, the emphasis of park employee training at that time focused more on bison encounters than grizzly encounters. There are a lot more bison in Yellowstone than bears. A very graphic video is shown to each new employee. A man attempts to hide behind a tree from an approaching bison. The bison drops its head and horns directly into the poor bastards crotch and flips him into the over back of its head like a rag doll. Off camera, his wife screams in horror. Welcome to Yellowstone, I thought to myself, you're making just a little more than minimum wage.

Bison are bigger, have no fear of cars or parking lots and love to sneak up on you when you're sitting on a big rock in front of geyser playing your guitar. Bison are not cows. Bison are smart, and they know how to screw with you. I once saw a big bull standing in the eastbound lane of a two-lane road, heavily wooded on either side. He was allowing cars to travel in one direction, and then crossing the double-yellow line to the opposing lane to block the cars coming from the other way. He crossed the line about 12 times until I was able to steer around him and get through. I'm no expert on bison, but I think this one was really enjoying pissing off a couple hundred humans. This is funnier when you think of the people a half-mile back in a line of RV's wondering what the hell is going on up ahead. With that said, you should be just as cautious encountering an approaching bison as you are when encountering an approaching bear.

If you are hell-bent on hiking into the wild to see a grizzly, the first thing you should do is purchase a couple bells at the outfitter in the Old Faithful Village and attach them to your clothing. Surprising any type of bear is the worst possible thing you can do. The bell's tinkling will alert a bear that someone is approaching. The joke told to employees at Yellowstone goes like this: "How do you tell black bear poop from grizzly bear poop? Grizzly bear poop has bells in it." Get it? The process also works in reverse. You're alerting the bear to your presence, but you're also telling it exactly where you are standing. This is why there are large canisters of cayenne pepper spray for sale at the store also.

There are many myths associated with encountering the big bear. Remember that Yellowstone has 3 distinct types of bears - black, cinnamon brown, and grizzly. None should be approached by you.
First, never run. It has been postulated by bear researchers that the act of running is an indication to the bear that you are a prey species and therefore might be tasty. Second, do not attempt to stand your ground. Challenging a grizzly directly is an act of idiocy; you will get hurt. Do not throw anything at the bear or agitate it in any way. Third, curling into a ball and pretending to be dead is also a nice way to end up seriously hurt. Some folks who did this lived to tell of their encounter, but they'll also tell you that they miss their leg and wish they didn't have to have a metal plate in their head. In more than a few instances the survivor's backside was protected by their backpack loaded with gear, but a 600lb to 1000lb bear can flip you over as easily as you could flip a steak on a grill. It's important to note that guns are strictly forbidden in Yellowstone, you're in deep trouble if a ranger sees you with one.

If a bear is coming toward you, immediately pepper-spray the air around you. Their noses are incredible sensitive; they don't like it at all. Remain calm. Do not speak. Do not gesture to your friends or make any sudden movements with your arms. Slowly begin moving your feet backward, one foot at a time. Whatever you do, do not take your eyes off the bear (don't worry, you won't be able to). This is all about body language between species. This process, I assume, implies to the bear that you are not afraid, but are in fact hesitant about getting closer. You are attempting to be recognized as an equal creature now, not prey. If the bear charges you - not common but she might have cubs nearby - that is not the time to begin moving quickly. Wait until the bear closes in and then move – fast - in the opposite direction the bear turns. Most of the time the charge is a feint. If you don't back down, you're cool, the bear will rush toward you and then turn abruptly. She's playing chicken with you. Move quickly in the opposite direction the bear turns and don't stop - you are now behind her - and you will live. I've personally spoken to a married couple that lived to tell about this experience. This encounter lasted less than 30 seconds. It is, however, 30 seconds of their lives together that they will never forget.

If the charge turns out not to be a feint and there are several hikers in your group, pray that you are the fastest runner. You've only got a few seconds to outdistance your hiking partners. Run toward your car as fast as you can. This is an "every man for himself" situation. The fat, slow guy goes down first.

So, given that both bison and bears are equally dangerous, which is the worst to encounter in the dark, say, under a waning gibbous moon on a crystal clear September night when you have chicken alfredo in your backpack? Grizzlies hunt non-stop in the fall in order to gain enough weight to survive the bitterly cold winter. They're on the prowl all the time, especially at night. Remember, the bear hears and smells you long before you know it's even in the neighborhood. A grizzly can smell a campfire cookout from several miles away. You, puny human, are just another appetizer to be followed by an elk or moose entree. Encountering a bear in the black of night was the scariest thing that ever happened to me. Don't hike in Yellowstone after sundown.

The great bear deserves continued protection. The grizzly's intrinsic beauty and majesty is reflected in the canon of literature and the art of North America, bears have had a profound influence on us as a species and a culture. Removing the grizzly from the endangered species list removes the bear's right to exist. More bears will be shot, more encounters will occur as humans continue to encroach on habitat, and the loss to tourism in the area would be dramatic. The bears are still one of the primary Yellowstone attractions, more than 2.2 million people visited during the summer of 2000 while I was employed there. My prediction is that fewer bears, or the media coverage of bear shootings, will bring an economic downturn in the tourism industry for southern Montana and northwestern Wyoming affecting tens of thousands of families.

Find books about grizzlies

Profiling: How the FBI Tracks Eco-Terror Suspects

Nov. 21, 2005 issue - The FBI collected detailed data on political activities and Web postings of suspected members of a tiny environmentalist commune in southern California two years ago as part of a high-profile counterterrorism probe, bureau records show. Facing further new disclosures about the matter, the bureau last week agreed to settle a lawsuit and to pay $100,000 to Josh Connole, a 27-year-old ex-commune member who had been arrested—and later released—on suspicions he was one of the eco-terrorists who had firebombed SUV dealerships in the summer of 2003. But the bureau's rare concession of error, expected to be publicly announced soon, could bring new attention to what civil-liberties groups say is a disturbing trend: the stepped-up monitoring of domestic political activity by FBI counter-terror agents...

Connole, an anti-Iraq-war protester, had been living in a Pomona, Calif., vegan commune when a Joint Terrorism Task Force (JTTF) targeted him after arson attacks on four nearby Hummer dealers—acts blamed on the shadowy Earth Liberation Front (ELF), which the bureau considers a domestic terror group. The case was considered serious enough that Director Robert Mueller briefed President Bush. After concluding Connole looked like a lanky, goateed suspect caught on surveillance tape, agents arrested him at gunpoint on Sept. 12, 2003, then raided the commune. After being interrogated and held for four days, he was released. Another suspect with no connection to the commune was later arrested and convicted.

In their wrongful-arrest lawsuit, Connole's lawyers demanded to know why the FBI looked at Connole in the first place. Court documents show agents were initially tipped off by a neighbor to "suspicious" activity at the commune the night of the attacks. (In fact, says Connole, members were simply helping one of the residents move out.) Agents placed the commune under surveillance and developed a political profile of the residents, discovering the owner of the house and his father "have posted statements on websites opposing the use of fossil fuels," one doc reads. Another says the owner had ties to a local chapter of Food Not Bombs, an "anarcho-vegan food distribution group." Among activities flagged in bureau docs: the father of the owner had conducted a "one man daily protest" outside a Toyota office, was interviewed for an article called "Dude, Where's my Electric Car!?" and posted info on a Web site announcing "Stop Norway Whaling!" Critics say such info has been increasingly collected by agents since the then Attorney General John Ashcroft relaxed FBI guidelines in 2002. "How does advocacy of electric cars become the basis for suspicion?" asks Bill Paparian, Connole's lawyer. Bureau officials say they collect such info only when there might be ties to violence or terrorism. A spokesman declined to comment on Connole's case, saying that because no settlement has been entered into the court record, it remains "a pending legal matter."

—Michael Isikoff

© 2005 Newsweek, Inc.

Profiling: How the FBI Tracks Eco-Terror Suspects - Newsweek Periscope - "Profiling: How the FBI Tracks Eco-Terror Suspects"

Find books about Eco-terrorism at

Art Explodes on South Division Avenue

GRAND RAPIDS - Now that a high-tech life sciences corridor is booming on this city's east side, its leaders are turning their attention back to the arts, which are already transforming a once seedy thoroughfare on the city's south side into the new Avenue for the Arts.

This past spring developers began a $7.5 million renovation project that has transformed four vacant, decrepit buildings on gritty South Division Avenue into low-rent living and working spaces geared specifically to artists. The project, the Division-Oakes Arts Initiative, has intensified the ongoing rejuvenation of the city’s historic Heartside District by adding 23 affordable loft apartments and some 15,000 square feet of studio, gallery, and other retail business space.

Read the rest of this article by Michigan Land Use Institute's super-reporter Andy Guy, GR's Skid Row Renaissance

Growing Garlic at Home

This is the first year that I am attempting to grow garlic. Obviously, I'm not an expert, but here's what I've learned about different garlic varieties, planting and harvesting so far...

First, here's a good book to read:

Garlic is a member of the allium family which also includes leeks, shallots and onions. Individual cloves act as seeds. The bulbs grow underground and the leaves shoot in to the air.


Softneck Garlic Varieties
Almost all supermarket garlic is a softneck variety. This is because softneck garlic is easier to grow and plant mechanically and also keeps for longer than hardneck. Softnecks are recognised by the white papery skin and an abundance of cloves, often forming several layers around the central core. The flexible stalk also allows softneck garlic to be formed into garlic braids (plaits).

There are two main types of softneck garlic: silverskin and artichoke. Silverskin garlic is most common simply because it's easier to grow and keeps longer. Artichoke garlic tends to have fewer but larger cloves and a milder flavour. The artichoke garlic bulb wrappers are coarser than those of silverskins and sometimes have purple blotches.

Hardneck Garlic Varieties
Hardneck garlic is technically known as the ophioscorodon variety of allium ativum. Hardneck garlics have a "scape" - stalk - which coils from the top. On the top of this scape grow a number of bubils which are often mistakenly referred to as garlic flowers. Hardneck garlics have fewer, larger cloves then the softnecks. They also have less of an outer bulb wrapper, sometimes none at all. This makes them more sensitive and reduces their shelf life.

There are three main types of hardneck garlic: rocambole, porcelain and purple stripe. Rocambole garlic usually has up to a dozen cloves of a tan or browny colour. Porcelain garlic has a satiny white wrapper and the fewest cloves in a bulb, perhaps as few as four very large cloves. Porcelain garlic is often mistaken for elephant garlic. Purple stripe garlic is highly distinctive because of its colouring, with bright purple markings.


Garlic is grown from the individual cloves. Each clove will produce one plant with a single bulb - which may in turn contain up to twenty cloves. Growing garlic is therefore self-sustaining.

When planting garlic, choose a garden site that gets plenty of sun and where the soil is not too damp. The cloves should be planted individually, upright and about an inch under the surface. Plant the cloves about 4 inches apart. Rows should be about 18 inches apart.

It is traditional to plant garlic on the shortest day of the year. Whether this is for symbolic or practical reasons is unclear.

Spring Planting
Poor weather conditions often mean that spring planted garlic produces smaller bulbs. In addition the seed garlic must be chilled before planting in order to cause it to break out of its dormancy. That said, spring garlic planting can produce good results in the warmer Southern areas where it is often planted in late February or March. It also removes any possibility of the plant being damaged by the winter cold.

Fall Planting
In more Northerly areas it more common to plant garlic towards the end of the year. In Europe there is a tradition of planting garlic on the shortest day of the year, however this is probably more for symbolic reasons than horticultural ones. The usual advice to gardeners is to plant fall garlic soon after the first major frost of the year, usually between mid-October and late November depending on your local climate. Garlic is generally winter hardy, however can be damaged if the temperatures are very cold and the snow cover thin. If this is the case, cover the garlic with straw to protect it.

If all is well then the shoots of fall planted garlic should emerge from the ground in early spring. If not then you still have the opportunity to plant a spring crop.


Garlic is a very friendly plant and grows well planted with other flowers and vegetables. Garlic co-planting is especially beneficial to lettuce (where it deters aphids) and cabbage (deterring many common pests). As well as protecting other plants garlic can also improve their flavour. Beets and cabbage are reported to be especially good companions that benefit from this. But not all companion planting combinations are beneficial. Garlic doesn't seem to cooperate well with legumes (beans and pulses), peas or potatoes. Try not to plant these too near your garlic.


As garlic reaches maturity, the leaves will brown then die away. This is the cue that it is time to harvest your garlic crop. If you harvest too early the cloves will be very small, too late and the bulb will have split. Once picked, it is essential that garlic is dried properly, otherwise it will rot. The bulbs are often hung up in a cool, dry place. After a week or so, take them down and brush the dirt off gently - don't wash the bulbs at this stage.

I'll let you know how it goes...

Find books on Garlic

More parents going organic with kids' food

Since last year, sales of organic baby food have jumped nearly 18 percent, double the overall growth of organic food sales, according to ACNielsen.

The concern about children is that they are more vulnerable to toxins. As children grow rapidly, their brains and organs are forming, and they eat more for their size than adults. New government-funded research adds to the concern.

A study of children whose diets were changed from regular to organic found their pesticide levels plunged almost immediately. The amount of pesticide detected in the children remained imperceptible until their diets were switched back.

Uncertainty over pesticides is leading parents, especially new or expecting mothers, to switch to organic food. Eating organic is definitely not cheap, but there are fruits and vegetables known to have lower pesticide residues. The Environmental Working Group, a Washington-based advocacy group, has produced a guide to the pesticide levels in fruits and vegetables. The guide says the lowest pesticide levels are found in asparagus, avocados, bananas, broccoli, cauliflower, sweet corn, kiwi, mangos, onions, papaya, pineapples and sweet peas. Highest levels are in apples, bell peppers, celery, cherries, imported grapes, nectarines, peaches, pears, potatoes, red raspberries, spinach and strawberries.

You can download the Environmental Working Groups "Handy Wallet Guide to Pesticides in Produce" at

Click here to find books about Organic Gardening.

Community Gardening in Michigan

Of course, on the day I begin to write about gardening, the temperature drops 20 degrees and it starts snowing. I refuse to think about winter, let's prepare for spring. Now is the perfect time to begin organizing your neighborhood and start a community garden. Here are some resources to get you started...

Most Americans now live in cities, and as we become more disconnected from the land and the people who grow our food, we lose a sense of foods' value. With its poor soil and dirty air, the city might seem like the last place to plant anything. But with a few tricks, we city dwellers can grow a bountiful harvest.

Community gardens are popping up all over, providing bits of green space amid the concrete. For a small fee, you can rent a plot for the season and can grow whatever vegetables and annual flowers you'd like. Community gardens usually provide everything you need: garden tools, water, even expert advice. Many gardens also participate in community programs for the homeless and local food banks.

The American Community Gardening Association has tons of useful information, including publications on starting a garden in your neighborhood.

There are a number of community gardens programs in Michigan. Here's a few that have information online:

Project Grow Community Gardens, Ann Arbor
Detroit Agriculture Network, Detroit
Growing Hope, Ypsilanti

Find books about Community Gardening

West Michigan's Local Guide to Fresh Foods

Greater Grand Rapids Food Systems Council has created a searchable online database of their local food guide. To search on-line for local sources of food go to the Greater Grand Rapids Food Systems Council website and click the words 'SEARCH ON-LINE.' You can also download the pdf of the 48 page guide, created in cooperation with Michigan Integrated Food and Farming Systems, and find a wonderful array of sources of fresh local food.

New website: Genetically modified food contamination incidents

GeneWatch UK and Greenpeace International have launched the first on-line registry of genetically modified contamination incidents at The searchable web site gives details of all the known cases of genetically modified contamination of food, animal feed, seeds and wild plants that have taken place worldwide. So far, no government or international agency has established a public record of contamination incidents or of other problems associated with genetically modified crops. This is a first.

Find books about genetically modified foods at Powell'

The Worst Speech of Bush's Presidency

For speechwriters drafting a presidential address for a patriotic holiday such as Independence Day, Memorial Day, or Veterans Day, there are three rules: Don't be wordy; don't be wonky; and, most important, don't be partisan. In his Veterans Day remarks today at the Tobyhanna Army Depot near Wilkes-Barre, Pennsylvania, President Bush and his staff broke all three rules, producing a strident speech that went on for almost 50 minutes, included a lengthy comparison of "Islamic radicalism" and "the ideology of communism," and concluded by attacking "some Democrats," while taking an implicit shot at "my opponent during the last election." It may have been the worst speech of his presidency.

Read David Kusnet's article The Worst Speech of Bush's Presidency

Bill McKibben cranks out yet another fascinating essay

McKibben discusses the amazing possibilities of the environmentally-sustainable city of Curitiba after his recent trip to Brazil; excerpted from The Impossible Will Take a Little While: A Citizen's Guide to Hope in a Time of Fear.

Read this article on ZNet, Brazil, Curitiba

Find books by Bill McKibben at Powell'

Political Hacks and Bioterrorism

Stewie Simonson is the man given the task of "the protection of the civilian population from acts of bioterrorism and other public health emergencies." Simonson is a well-connected, ideological, ambitious Republican with zero public health management or medical expertise, whose previous job was as a corporate lawyer for Amtrak.

"He's a political hack, a sycophant," says Ed Garvey, a prominent Wisconsin attorney and the state's former deputy attorney general. "People just laughed when he was appointed to Amtrak, but when the word came out that he was in charge of bioterrorism, it turned to alarm. When you realize that people's lives are at stake, it's frightening. It's just one of those moments when you say, Oh, my God."

Yep, I think you should read this article by Jeremy Scahill at The Nation, Germ Boys and Yes Men

Political Hacks and Bioterrorism

Stewie Simonson is the man given the task of "the protection of the civilian population from acts of bioterrorism and other public health emergencies." Simonson is a well-connected, ideological, ambitious Republican with zero public health management or medical expertise, whose previous job was as a corporate lawyer for Amtrak. "He's a political hack, a sycophant," says Ed Garvey, a prominent Wisconsin attorney and the state's former deputy attorney general. "People just laughed when he was appointed to Amtrak, but when the word came out that he was in charge of bioterrorism, it turned to alarm. When you realize that people's lives are at stake, it's frightening. It's just one of those moments when you say, Oh, my God."

Yep, you can read this article by Jeremy Scahill at The Nation, Germ Boys and Yes Men

Find books by Jeremy Scahill

Vandana Shiva illuminates myths about poverty

This is definitely one of the more interesting things I've read this week. Jeffrey Sachs, head of the Earth Institute and author of The End of Poverty, would have you believe that the root of poverty lies in large sections of the world being "left behind" while the Industrial Revolution carried western civilization to new heights. Vandana Shiva begs to differ. "The poor are not those who have been 'left behind'; they are the ones who have been robbed. Without the destruction of India's rich textile industry, without the takeover of the spice trade, without the genocide of the native American tribes, without African slavery, the Industrial Revolution would not have resulted in new riches for Europe or North America. It was this violent takeover of Third World resources and markets that created wealth in the North and poverty in the South. Two of the great economic myths of our time allow people to deny this intimate link, and spread misconceptions about what poverty is.

You can read this article by Vandana Shiva at Ode Magazine.

Find books by Vandana Shiva at

Thursday, November 10, 2005

Debate: Should the US end the trade embargo on Cuba?

The United Nations voted Tuesday 182-4 to urge the United States to end its 44-year old trade embargo against Cuba, the fourteenth straight year the international body has voted for such a move. Though the United States has routinely ignored the resolutions, many are concerned that the embargo has kept innocent Cubans in poverty, while doing nothing to foster democracy. Should the United States end the embargo?

Join the debate at The Latin Americanist

Remembering Rosa Parks... sort of.

"Le Rage des Oubli's," ran the headline of France's Liberation a few days after Katrina struck. Translation, "The Rage of the Forgotten." The picture below the headline featured a lone black woman screaming at the top of her lungs on a street in New Orleans, presumably one of the many African-Americans left stranded without food or water. The tragic truth in the French critique of American racism was its prophetic rather than descriptive quality: the angry ones were going to be forgotten, because they were angry. The perception of the American press is that it knows two courses of action when dealing with angry minorities: crush them or erase them. Unfortunately, this writer see Rosa Parks slowly being marshaled in the latter course.

Check it out: Robert Oscar Lopez on Counterpunch Is the French perception accurate and where do we begin to change the media if it is?

Chinese Women Bloggers Explore Uncharted Territories

Lost Sparrow, Sister Lotus and a host of other Chinese women are changing the rules between the sexes and prompting government censorship as they post the more kinky details of their lives online. Oh my.

Read this article: Eugenia Chien, Pacific News Service

Mr. Floatie's Political Turd

Folks here at Black Bear Speaks have suggested copyrighting the phrase "2-foot coil" for months now. Notice how I imply that there is more than one of us? That's because there is, me and my giant turd I keep in a tupperware container under the bathroom sink. Sort of like this guy in BC, he feels you shouldn't flush your favorite buddy either. Let me know what you think.

VICTORIA, BC - When you're a two-metre tall human turd, who talks with a falsetto voice and wears a slightly tilted sailor's cap, you're used to turning heads, as well as stomachs.

So James Skwarok, better known by the name of his character, Mr. Floatie, was certainly expecting to draw attention when he threw that cap into the ring in a bid to be mayor of Victoria. In fact, as leader of the campaign to get sewage treatment here, he counts on it to tell all who will listen that the City of Gardens uses the Pacific Ocean as its toilet.

But when earlier this month a stink was raised about Mr. Floatie's candidacy, it proved too much. City officials, correctly noting he's "a costume character," not a real person, and thereby ineligible, took him to court to get him off the ballot for the Nov. 19 election.

God bless you, Mr. Floatie! Read more about Mr. Floatie here: Sewage activist wiped off B.C. ballot

Audio: Patents on Living Creatures?

There has never been a better time than now to start growing your own food.

You might have heard about scientists splicing animal genes into food grains or fish whose genes are tinkered with to make them twice their normal size. Over 80% of soy in this country is genetically modified and the soy that isn't may well have mixed with genetically modified crops.

Are genetically modified foods improving the quality of your life?

The award-winning film "Life Running Out of Control" lays out the science and politics of genetic modification. Get more info by downloading this mp3: Against the Grain

Oil for Food Program: Smoking Gun or Smokescreen?

Paul Volcker, head of the United Nations independent enquiry investigating problems of corruption surrounding the oil-for-food program, has found that 2,200 international firms contributed to corrupting the UN program, as well as supporting Saddam Hussein's regime, by paying unaccounted surcharges -which allegedly went straight into the pockets of the leadership - in order to do oil business with Iraq. But former director of the oil-for-food program Denis Halliday argues that the enquiry "has diverted attention away from genuine scandals of size and significance, and neglected breeches of international law by UN Security Council member states in connection with UN aggression on Iraq, UN sanctions on Iraq and the corruption and abuse of the oil-for-food program." In other words, although the report succeeded in exposing corruption, it failed to expose the fact that all companies were, in one way or another, vetted by members of the Security Council to do business in Iraq.

Read the article by
Serene Assir at Al-Ahram Weekly

Audio: Was the 2004 Election Stolen?

A Debate on Ohio One Year After Bush's Victory

Questions remain over the outcome of the Ohio election and whether Bush fairly won the state and the presidency. Explore these questions with a debate between Mark Crispin Miller and Mark Hertsgaard. Issues regarding the 2004 election may never be resolved, let's try to generate solutions to the problem so that we don't have to go down this road again.

Download this audio file from Democracy Now! or read the Transcript.

Photography Slideshow - Leaves of Confusion

This is a gutwrenching photo exhibit. Poverty on parade. This will motivate you to do more for your fellow human than ever before. You are forewarned.

A few weeks ago, the Brazilian photographer Flavio Cannalonga walked among the people in the Chapare, Bolivia. From that experience came this brief but beautiful exhibit. "Narco-traffickers are definitely nowhere to be found there. Only regular people, only children, only the old, only men and women. Victimized, abandoned, forgotten," says Cannalonga of the coca growers of the Tropic of Cochabamba.

Flavio Cannalonga (text by Luis Gomez) at Salón Chingón
Intro and Translation:
QuickTime slideshow: (22mg download)

A New Weapon for Wal-Mart: A War Room

This begs the question "What are you afraid of you big baby?" I think this bully is tired of getting laughed at and is about to kick some butts.

Wal-Mart is taking a page from the modern political playbook. Under fire from well-organized opponents who have hammered the retailer with criticisms of its wages, health insurance and treatment of workers, Wal-Mart has quietly recruited former presidential advisers, including Michael K. Deaver, who was Ronald Reagan's image-meister, and Leslie Dach, one of Bill Clinton's media consultants, to set up a rapid-response public relations team in Arkansas.

Read this article by Michael Barbaro of the New York Times on the Common Dreams blog.

What is the responsiblity of Major League Ball to the poor?

The question we need to ask is, Does baseball have a broader responsibility to the Dominican Republic and these 10- and 11-year-old kids who think they have a better chance of emerging from desperately poor conditions with a stick and a milk-carton glove than by staying in school?

Read it here: Dave Zirin in The Nation

Chavez and Maradona Lead Rebuke of Bush

NAFTA has been a crushing blow to manufacturing workers in this part of the US as one plant after another continues to shut down leaving millions unemployed. Can the the result of FTAA be any better? Does Bush really think the Venezuelans are going to give up their oil without a fight?

The opposition to Bush and his proposed Free Trade Area of the Americas (FTAA), as well as neoconservative economic policies and capitalism in general, took on a creative twist this time, with a massive march that ended in a rally at a sports stadium involving a heterogeneous group of Latin American leaders: Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez, Bolivian socialist leader Evo Morales, Argentine leaders of the unemployed, Mothers of Plaza de Mayo, a Nobel Peace Prize laureate, singers from all over the continent, and, of course, Diego Maradona, legendary soccer hero.

Read this article by
Jordana Timerman, The Nation

Fallujah: The Hidden Massacre

Powerful new evidence emerged yesterday that the United States dropped massive quantities of white phosphorus on the Iraqi city of Fallujah during the attack on the city in November 2004, killing insurgents and civilians with the appalling burns that are the signature of this weapon. The Italian documentary "Fallujah: the Hidden Massacre," broadcast today for the first time, also provides what it claims is clinching evidence that incendiary bombs known as Mark 77, a new, improved form of napalm, was used in the attack on Fallujah, in breach of the UN Convention on Certain Conventional Weapons of 1980, which only allows its use against military targets.

WARNING: Video contains graphic and disturbing images of victims of phosphorus bombing.
Peter Popham (article) The Independent UK /
Sigfrido Ranucci (video) Rainews24 /
Here's the link to read more and watch the video: 0805Z.shtml

China pledges to double reliance on renewable energy by 2020

Too little, too late? Not if you are a solar panel manufacturer.

Jonathan Watts in Beijing
Tuesday November 8, 2005
The Guardian

China, the world's second biggest emitter of greenhouse gases, announced plans yesterday to more than double its reliance on renewable energy by 2020, which could make it a leading player in the wind, solar and hydropower industries.

But environmentalists said that Beijing's new target was still not ambitious enough to offset the climatic damage caused by its spectacular economic growth, which will continue to be predominantly fuelled by coal.

Read the rest at: Guardian Unlimited, Special reports, China pledges to double reliance on renewable energy by 2020

Wednesday, November 02, 2005

Senator Deb Stabenow's Comments on AWNR Oil Drilling

In order to be objective, here's both a Democratic and Republican response to my letters regarding removal of the Alaska National Wildlife Refuge oil drilling proposal from the federal budget resolution. Below are Democratic Senator Stabenow's and Republican Congressman Ehler's comments, both of whom are opposed to drilling in the refuge.

November 2, 2005

Mr. Jerome Alicki

Thank you . . .

. . . for contacting me regarding your opposition to drilling for oil in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge (ANWR). I share your concerns about this issue.

The Senate Budget Resolution includes a provision - based on the President's budget proposal - to make it easier to open the Arctic Refuge to oil and gas drilling. The Arctic Refuge drilling provision would prevent a full and fair debate on energy and environmental policy like we have had in past Congresses. This provision would prevent the Senate from filibustering legislation to open the Arctic Refuge to drilling. It would also limit the ability of the Senate to offer amendments or make any modifications to such a bill.

On March 16, 2005, Senator Maria Cantwell offered an amendment to remove the Arctic Refuge drilling provision from the Senate Budget Resolution. I supported this amendment, and unfortunately this amendment failed by a vote of 49 - 51. The Senate Budget Resolution will now go to a House-Senate conference where a final budget will be drafted.

Although I understand the need to decrease our nation's dependency on foreign oil, I do not believe that we must destroy this beautiful wildlife refuge to achieve that objective. I firmly believe that the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge needs to be protected from drilling. At stake are close to 100,000 acres of nearly pristine land - home to some of the most unique and diverse wildlife in the Arctic. As the budgetary process continues, you can rest assured that I will continue to fight to prevent drilling in the Arctic Refuge.

Again, thank you for contacting me. Please do not hesitate to contact me if I can be of further assistance to your or your family.


Debbie Stabenow
United States Senator

Congressman Ehler's (R - Michigan) Recent Letter on ANWR Drilling

November 1, 2005

Dear Jerome,

Thank you for taking the time to contact me about the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge (ANWR) and the budget. I appreciate hearing your willingness to share your comments.

I have consistently opposed opening ANWR to oil and gas drilling. I believe our time and money is better spent improving fuel efficiency and developing alternative and renewable fuels. However, as this legislation moves through the House and Senate, other significant issues in addition to exploration and drilling in ANWR may be added. This legislation is likely to come before Congress in late fall for a final vote.

Thank you again for you comments. I will keep your thoughts in mind as this issue proceeds.


Vernon J. Ehlers
Member of Congress

"I appreciate hearing your willingness to share your comments." Hmmm...

Although I'm glad my congressman is opposed to opening ANWR for exploitation and I'm glad that he feels alternative energy sources are the way to go, in this statement he is leaving the door open in case some other issue added to the bill forces him to vote for it. It's a question of priorities, and there may be something more important down the road that changes his mind. But I ask you: What's more important right now than ending our dependence on fossil fuels and foreign energy sources and developing new energy technologies to replace the ones we have now? Can you possibly think of a better solution to the Petroleum War, Congressman? Stop messing around with a wildlife preserve and build some damn windmills on the shore of Lake Michigan for christsake. We can power an electric vehicle fleet using the wind coming off the Great Lakes. Shouldn't we stop spending hundreds of billions of dollars on war, and instead spend a hundred billion on converting everyone's gas powered vehicles to electricity?

By the way Congressman, if you would like someone on your staff who can write, I don't have anything to do tomorrow and I'm available for a job interview.