Press Freedom Took A Hit In 2001, Watchdog Says
by Reuters, May 2, 2002
PARIS (Reuters) - Press freedom took a turn for the worse last year and is set to suffer more as the U.S. "war on terrorism" pushes the media to take sides, the Reporters Without Borders press watchdog said on Thursday.
"Press freedom had a rough time in 2001," the Paris-based group said in its annual report. "On every continent, this basic right was harshly attacked, along with those who exercised it."
Thirty-one journalists were killed in 2001, eight of them in Afghanistan, compared with 32 in 2000, RSF said. There were significant increases in the number of journalists arrested, threatened and attacked, the report said.
In the West, tighter controls on the flow of information following the September 11 attacks on the United States had weakened the right of journalists in the U.S. and Canada not to reveal sources, RSF said.
In its war against what it calls 'the evil-doers', the Bush administration is little bothered by the means that are used," RSF said. "The news media are pressed to take sides and propaganda takes precedence over truth."
The enemy must be defeated and media that disagree must be crushed," it added. "Such black-and-white attitudes are worrying."
RSF's report reinforced the message of another media watchdog, the U.S.-based Committee to Protect Journalists, which last month said journalists around the world faced a "global press freedom crisis" as a result of the war on terrorism.
Listing some pluses for press freedom in 2001, RSF said pressure from strict security laws and secret police had eased in Chile and Peru.
In Serbia, freedom of information accompanied the shift to democracy after the fall from power of Slobodan Milosevic in October 2000. Early statements from the new rulers in Afghanistan were promising.
But nearly a third of the world's people still live in countries where press freedom is heavily restricted, with China the biggest offender, RSF said. Syria, Iraq, Burma and Saudi Arabia all kept "absolute" control of the flow of information, RSF said.
Judge Declares Imprisonment of Material Witnesses Unconstitutional
by Larry Neumeister, May 1, 2002
NEW YORK (AP) - A judge earned the wrath of federal authorities and the praise of civil liberties activists by calling the imprisonment of material witnesses in the government's terrorism probe unconstitutional.
The ruling by U.S. District Judge Shira Scheindlin could have far-reaching implications for anti-terrorism efforts since dozens of people have been jailed under similar circumstances since the Sept. 11 attacks.
Scheindlin's decision was hailed as "a brave and bold" step by constitutional lawyer Floyd Abrams, while Attorney General John Ashcroft called it "an anomaly."
Scheindlin threw out perjury charges against Osama Awadallah, 21, a college student in El Cajon, Calif., who was accused of lying about knowing two of the Sept. 11 hijackers.
Awadallah was held as a material witness in a grand jury investigation and spent 83 days in prison before being released on bail. Scheindlin said federal law does not permit such detentions for grand jury probes.
The judge wrote that "imprisoning a material witness for a grand jury investigation raises a serious constitutional question under the Fourth Amendment," which prohibits unreasonable searches and seizures.
Ashcroft responded that the roundup of material witnesses after the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks was constitutionally sound and that the opinion of "one trial judge in New York represents an anomaly."
"The department's use of material witness warrants is fully consistent with the law and long-standing practice. Numerous other judges have authorized the use of material witness warrants in the settings that we have been using them, and the use of such warrants has been validated at the appellate level," Ashcroft said.
By contrast, Rachel Ward, a lawyer with Amnesty International, called the judge's ruling a "welcome step forward."
The human rights organization criticized the government's secrecy in a recent report on post-Sept. 11 detentions. "It's a matter of grave concern because it creates a lack of public accountability," Ward said.
First Amendment lawyer Abrams agreed, saying the judge's ruling represented "a brave and bold reaffirmation of core Constitutional principles."
"Speaking as someone who believes that the harm we face is indeed exceedingly grave, I nonetheless think she deserves enormous credit for taking an action that only an American judge would have the courage to do," he said.
In Manhattan, U.S. Attorney James B. Comey said: "We believe the court's opinions are wrong on the fact and the law and we are reviewing our appellate options."
Scheindlin's ruling could complicate the federal government's broad reading of the material witness statute, which the judge said had already "led to serious abuses."
The judge said that federal law only allows "a witness to be detained until his testimony may be secured by deposition in the pretrial, as opposed to the grand jury, context."
Scheindlin cited the case of Abdallah Higazy, an Egyptian-born student arrested Dec. 17 as a material witness after a pilot radio was found in his Sept. 11 hotel room overlooking the World Trade Center. Charges were dropped when it was later found that the radio belonged to someone else and a hotel security guard had lied.
"Since 1789, no Congress has granted the government the authority to imprison an innocent person in order to guarantee that he will testify before a grand jury conducting a criminal investigation," the judge said.
Scheindlin ruled that Awadallah's consent to go with FBI agents to their office and later submit to a lie detector test was the "product of duress or coercion."
Agents also failed to tell Awadallah he had a constitutional right to refuse any searches when they asked him to sign a form consenting to a search, the judge said.
"He did everything he could to be cooperative and they treated him terribly," said Jesse Berman, a lawyer for Awadallah. "I'm just happy that he's been vindicated."
On the Net: http://www.nysd.uscourts.gov
Arafat Emerges From Besieged West Bank Headquarters
by James Bennet, May 2, 2002
RAMALLAH - March 2 - By turns bitter and triumphant, Yasir Arafat emerged from a monthlong Israeli siege today to survey the damage done to the unofficial Palestinian capital, as leaders on both sides sought new footing after the deadlock here was suddenly broken by American and Saudi Arabian pressure.
Though pale and seemingly frail, Mr. Arafat appeared among his people again with his broad smile and characteristic ambiguity firmly intact, speaking of a commitment to peace while lashing out at the Israeli government. The Palestinian leader flashed V-signs to supporters who chanted that they would sacrifice themselves for him, but whether he was signaling peace or victory was left to the judgment, or inclinations, of his audience.
Prime Minister Ariel Sharon of Israel was preparing to fly to the United States this weekend for a meeting early next week with Mr. Bush. A senior Israeli political adviser said Mr. Sharon planned to present "specific and detailed proposals" that "could include short-term territorial concessions," provided that Palestinian violence completely halted.
Mr. Sharon has indicated that he is willing to consider concessions to provide the Palestinians with "territorial contiguity," that is, paths to move among the islands of territory now under their control without crossing Israeli-controlled land and army checkpoints.
But Mr. Sharon has also repeatedly said no progress toward peace is possible while Mr. Arafat remains his Palestinian counterpart. He has made clear that he regards any effort to address the fundamental differences between the two peoples as a long-term proposition, more than 10 years away. Palestinians want immediate talks toward establishing their own state.
Though concerned by reports that Saudi Arabia had pressured the Bush administration to assist the Palestinian national cause, Israeli officials believe that the United States is seeking mainly to assuage Arab concerns while it prepares a possible attack on Iraq. They think that at least a temporary quiet period here would help that quest.
The political adviser said Mr. Sharon would argue against any "detailed vision" of an eventual Palestinian state, preferring that questions of precise borders be addressed down the road. The adviser repeatedly said any progress would depend on whether the governing Palestinian Authority acted against violence. "The way the Palestinian Authority will shape up must have an impact on the question of the vision" of statehood, he said.
Mr. Sharon also wants to discuss a so-called Marshall plan to rebuild the Palestinian economy and Palestinian civic institutions "to move the Palestinian way of life forward," the official said.
Blinking in the bright sun, Mr. Arafat came out of enforced confinement in his scorched compound today to find a familiar, hostile standoff with Israel, but one in which the political, military and diplomatic grounds are shifting.
His old nemesis, Mr. Sharon, has gained strength politically from last month's overwhelming Israeli offensive into the West Bank, described by the army as a sweep for militants and their weapons laboratories.
But Israel is also more isolated in the world, having this week defied an attempt by the United Nations to dispatch a fact-finding mission to investigate fighting last month in the Jenin refugee camp. The Israeli Army has denied Palestinian charges of war crimes committed in the camp.
Mr. Arafat moved immediately to draw further attention to Israel's defiance of the United Nations. He urged an inquiry into what he repeatedly called "Jeningrad," a reference to the Nazi siege of Stalingrad.
Ticking off the nations with permanent seats on the security council, Mr. Arafat called on them to "protect the peace in the land of peace - in the terra sancta - for our children."
t r u t h o u t | 05.03
Maureen Dowd | The Crawford-Riyadh Connection
Arafat Emerges From Besieged West Bank Headquarters
Judge Declares Imprisonment of Material Witnesses Unconstitutional
NATO Prepares to End Its Patrols of U.S. Skies
Sierra Club Congressional Endorsements for 2002
Cherokee Constitution: BIA On Way Out
Gunmen Stole Gold, Crucifixes, Escaped Monks Report
Health Care Debate Prompts Standoff on Trade Legislation
Press Freedom Took a Hit in 2001, Watchdog Says
t r u t h o u t, is a non-profit independent news source
EU WANTS TO BID ON U.S. MAIL
Carter Dougherty, THE WASHINGTON TIMES
The European Union is demanding that foreign companies be allowed to compete with the U.S. Postal Service as part of World Trade Organization talks that began last year.
According to a draft copy of its demands obtained by The Washington Times, Europe also wants access to American markets for municipal water and waste services. It also will call for foreign companies to be given access to Small Business Administration loans.
The European demands, which will be formally presented to the U.S. government by the end of June, mark the opening salvo in WTO negotiations on trade in services, an area that includes industries from finance to telecommunications to energy. The talks began in earnest when the organization agreed at a November meeting in Doha, Qatar, to make a new attempt to remove barriers to international commerce.
Harry Freeman, a Washington-based analyst of trade negotiations, said the U.S. market is already open to foreign companies and that as a result demands by Europe and other trading partners are bound to be politically contentious here.
"What the European Union is going after is pretty predictable," Mr. Freeman said. "These are the clear bones of contention."
A European official, who asked not to be identified, said the document is "not final and official" but conceded that it gives a clear look at the demands the United States will hear from its trading partners in the new negotiations.
The Office of the U.S. Trade Representative, which will present a list of U.S. demands to Europe later this year, had no comment on the document.
Europe is renewing a long-standing demand that the United States allow foreign-owned ships to ferry lucrative cargo between U.S. ports, something that is prohibited by the Jones Act. The law requires these ships be built, owned and operated by Americans. A coalition of shippers, shipbuilders and maritime-state legislators has always frustrated efforts to change the law.
The suggestion that foreign companies be allowed to deliver U.S. letters seems certain to face equally tough opposition.
"We oppose this idea, as does the Postal Service and the other unions," said Sally Davidow, spokeswoman for the American Postal Workers Union.
World negotiations on services are governed by General Agreement on Trade in Services, created in the early 1990s. It lays down rules for regulating services that affect such agencies as the Securities and Exchange Commission, the Federal Communications Commission and state insurance regulators.
Also, countries must hash out among themselves promises to allow foreign companies to deliver mail or provide transportation services.
A relatively unknown pact when it was created, the services agreement has become the latest whipping boy for many critics of globalization. The same labor unions, environmental groups and other activists opposed to the WTO are making it the center of their campaign against the new negotiations.
Many of the groups, especially in the United States, say new negotiations will force cities to sell municipal utilities such as water and electricity and could put them in the hands of far-off corporations.
"Now the cat is out of the bag," said Ruth Caplan, who handles trade issues for the Alliance for Democracy, a group critical of the WTO. "From the mail we receive to the water we drink, the European requests show that our basic public services are under threat."
But business groups scoff at the notion that the WTO negotiations will destroy government monopolies.
"The foundation of the WTO is not discriminating against foreign companies," said Bill Reinsch, president of the National Foreign Trade Council. "If we don't let American companies do it, we don't have to let European ones in."
Planet Ark World Environment News
House Dems criticize Bush defense of forest road ban - USA http://www.planetark.org/dailynewsstory.cfm/newsid/15787/story.htm
Labor, consumer groups seek to block Mexico trucks - USA http://www.planetark.org/dailynewsstory.cfm/newsid/15793/story.htm
Alaska worried by expanded Canadian fish farming - USA http://www.planetark.org/dailynewsstory.cfm/newsid/15791/story.htm
Bush declares tornado-hit Maryland a disaster area - USA http://www.planetark.org/dailynewsstory.cfm/newsid/15790/story.htm
Spectacular fire destroys Texas chemical plant - USA http://www.planetark.org/dailynewsstory.cfm/newsid/15796/story.htm
StarLink stigma begins to fade for US corn - USA http://www.planetark.org/dailynewsstory.cfm/newsid/15788/story.htm
Petro-Canado boosts leases on Alaska North Slope - USA http://www.planetark.org/dailynewsstory.cfm/newsid/15785/story.htm
GM moves closer to fuel cells with new NY plant - USA http://www.planetark.org/dailynewsstory.cfm/newsid/15782/story.htm
NRC approves Entergy Arkansas nuke power increase - USA http://www.planetark.org/dailynewsstory.cfm/newsid/15781/story.htm
UK wind farm fights govt ban in court - UK http://www.planetark.org/dailynewsstory.cfm/newsid/15783/story.htm
UK village takes on government over gene crop test - UK http://www.planetark.org/dailynewsstory.cfm/newsid/15792/story.htm
Miners urged to lead the way on development issues - UK http://www.planetark.org/dailynewsstory.cfm/newsid/15794/story.htm
Japan, NZ agree to push for climate change pact - NEW ZEALAND http://www.planetark.org/dailynewsstory.cfm/newsid/15784/story.htm
US wind power outlook hits Danish turbine makers - DENMARK http://www.planetark.org/dailynewsstory.cfm/newsid/15780/story.htm
Environment fears spur Quebec hog farm moratorium - CANADA http://www.planetark.org/dailynewsstory.cfm/newsid/15779/story.htm
Drilling ban on Canada's Pacific coast panned - CANADA http://www.planetark.org/dailynewsstory.cfm/newsid/15789/story.htm
Shell Australia to spend A$100 mln on refinery - AUSTRALIA http://www.planetark.org/dailynewsstory.cfm/newsid/15795/story.htm
FEATURE - Cuddly koalas stir passions in Australia - AUSTRALIA http://www.planetark.org/dailynewsstory.cfm/newsid/15786/story.htm
A New Outlet For Venter's Energy Genome Maverick To Take On Global Warming
by Justin Gillis Washington Post Staff Writer, April 30, 2002; Page E01
J. Craig Venter, the maverick scientist who altered history when he chose to compile a human genetic map with private money, has settled on his next project: tackling the problem of global warming.
Tapping a $100 million research endowment he is creating from his stock holdings, Venter plans to scour the world's deep ocean trenches for bacteria that might be able to convert carbon dioxide, the gas released when cars and power plants burn fuel, back into solid form without needing a lot of sunlight or other energy.
The idea is to devise a technology that would allow humankind to continue producing energy while lowering emissions of the gas, which threatens to destabilize the Earth's climate.
"We've barely scratched the surface of the microbial world out there to try to help the environment," Venter said in an interview. "We're going to be searching for some dramatic new microbes."
Venter has a 20-year track record of upending scientific dogma and developing new approaches that other scientists eventually embrace. In 1998, he created Celera Genomics Corp., the Rockville company that raced government researchers to a draw in compiling the first draft maps of the precise order of chemicals -- or sequence -- of the human genome.
The scientific jury is still out on whether Venter could have done it without borrowing data heavily from his public rivals, but there is no question the race accelerated the publicly funded Human Genome Project by years. Venter and his scientific rival, Francis S. Collins, eventually put aside their differences to announce simultaneous genetic maps in a White House ceremony in 2000.
Venter recently confirmed that the genome Celera sequenced was in large measure his own. He said he felt that if he was going to ask people to surrender their genetic privacy for the sake of science, he ought to go first.
As the excitement of the genome race faded and Celera -- and its Connecticut-based corporate parent -- turned their attention to the task of using the data to develop drugs, Venter grew increasingly restless, locked in combat with his boss, Tony L. White, over the unit's direction. Eventually, Venter was forced out as president.
Venter would say little about his final months at Celera, declining even to reveal whether he had signed a confidentiality agreement in return for severance pay, as is common for executives at his level who leave.
"I'm quite proud of my accomplishments there," Venter said. "But I did not want to run a pharmaceutical company."
Because of his track record, Venter's plans to jump into environmental "bioremediation" could draw money, competition and public attention to that obscure field.
In an interview last week, which he granted subject to a news blackout that lifted this morning, Venter showed off his new headquarters, the entire top floor of a large Rockville office building. The offices were empty but for a few tables and chairs and three assistants whom Venter has hired away from Celera.
Venter, 55, sat behind a whistle-clean makeshift desk, looking relaxed in dark-gray pants and a light-gray shirt. Workmen hurried to and fro removing signs of the previous occupant, a bank.
Venter emphasized that from now on, his ventures will be set up as not-for-profit corporations. "I'm not in business anymore," he said.
The energy venture is merely the most ambitious of three new entities he plans to create. One, the J. Craig Venter Science Foundation, will hold much of the cash and stock Venter acquired in his jobs at Celera and an earlier association with Human Genome Sciences Inc., also of Rockville. Venter had previously said much of the money would go to scientific research, and the foundation is intended to formalize that arrangement.
The money will support the work of his other two creations. One new entity will be a combination of think tank and specialized research shop that will focus on many of the social issues raised by the genetic science that Venter has helped to push forward. Venter envisions an organization with a small permanent staff and 20 to 30 visiting scholars at a given time. The scholars will be selected on the strength of their ideas and might use the time to produce books, papers or other projects on such issues as genetic discrimination and scientific racism.
The think tank will be closely linked to the Institute for Genomic Research, a nonprofit laboratory Venter founded years ago that is now run by his wife, Claire Fraser, an accomplished genetic scientist. That lab, widely known as TIGR and based in Rockville, attracts extensive government funding and is the world's premier center for researching the genetics of bacteria. The new think tank will be called the TIGR Center for the Advancement of Genomics. Genomics is the study, at a broad scale, of the complete genetic inheritance of organisms -- their genomes.
Venter is calling his third new entity the Institute for Biological Energy Alternatives. Venter expects to go after grant money from the U.S. Department of Energy and to have scores of scientists on board within a year. His goal will be to explore whether modern science can use the power of biology to solve the world's most serious environmental crisis.
As industrial societies burn fossil fuels for energy, they are releasing vast amounts of carbon, previously locked in solid form, into the atmosphere as carbon dioxide. Rising concentrations of the gas are trapping extra heat from the sun -- the famous "greenhouse effect" -- and warming the Earth. Estimates of the impact of this warming in the current century begin with severe economic disruption and the dislocation of millions of people and get worse from there.
As political efforts to cut the use of energy have stalled, many scientists, Venter among them, have grown fascinated by the possibility of a technological fix. The Energy Department has for several years been funding research in the field, which is known as "carbon sequestration."
Scientists are exploring a wide range of ideas, some quite modest and some as wild as fertilizing parts of the ocean to spark growth of algae that would take up carbon dioxide. The Bush administration has supported a broad portfolio of such research and has been increasing funds for it even in tight budget times.
Among the most pragmatic ideas are those that would install colonies of organisms in "bioreactors" near power plants to suck up emissions of carbon dioxide and turn the gas into solids such as sugars, proteins and starches -- which might themselves be useful byproducts. Plant cells can already do this, of course, but they require vast amounts of energy in the form of sunlight, and many scientists believe they are likely to prove impractical on a large scale.
Venter plans to base his approach on one of the most striking developments in biology in recent years -- the discovery, in deep ocean trenches and volcanic hot spots on the ocean floor, of a wide array of bacteria that can perform extensive chemical reactions without needing sunlight. These are thought to be descendants of the most primitive life forms that arose on the Earth, and scientists are just beginning to explore their potential.
Venter said he hopes to find -- or, if necessary, create through genetic engineering -- an ideal organism or group of organisms that would be able to take in carbon dioxide, break it down, and produce both biological compounds and energy.
Ari Patrinos, associate director of science for biological and environmental research at the Energy Department, said he had been discussing futuristic solutions to the energy problem with Venter for a decade and is excited to hear Venter is planning a big move into the field. He cautioned, however, that a great deal of fundamental research remains to be done.
"I think it is indicative of the seriousness of these problems that they are attracting prominent scientists," Patrinos said. "People recognize that some of these problems are stubborn nuts to crack. We need to address them as aggressively as we can with the very best minds."
LABOR'S LOVE LOST
The environmental movement and the labor movement form two of the strongest currents in progressive politics -- and when they join forces, the results can be impressive. In 1970, the Steelworkers of America and environmental organizations worked together to help gain congressional approval for the federal Clean Air Act. In the 1980s, environmentalists built coalitions with unions to pass legislation giving workers and the public the right to know what chemicals were in their factories and communities; and in the 1990s, many environmental and labor leaders found common ground on trade and energy issues. But in recent months, the glue holding together the blue-green alliance has weakened. Keith Schneider reports on the schism, only on the Grist Magazine website.
only in Grist: The blue-green relationship hits the skids -- in our Main Dish section <http://www.gristmagazine.com/maindish/schneider050202.asp?source=daily>
THE TRUCK STOPS HERE
Speaking of the blue-green alliance, a coalition of labor and environmental groups, plus the trucking industry, filed suit yesterday to prevent the U.S. government from allowing some 30,000 Mexican trucks onto American roads. On Friday, the Bush administration is scheduled to sign regulations that would allow Mexican trucks to cross the border for the first time in 20 years. The coalition contends that doing so would increase air pollution from diesel fumes and violate the Clean Air Act, which prevents the federal government from taking any action that would increase air pollution in regions that do not meet air-quality standards, such as Southern California and other border areas. And truckers have another concern on their minds: Currently, products coming in from Mexico must be unloaded at the border and transferred to U.S. trucks. The Teamsters fear that allowing Mexican truck drivers to enter would cost U.S. jobs and depress wages.
straight to the source: San Francisco Chronicle, Jane Kay, 02 May 2002 <http://www.sfgate.com/cgi-bin/article.cgi?f=/chronicle/archive/2002/05/02/MN244465.DTL>
MR. GREEN GENES?
When you've skyrocketed into the public eye, become an overnight billionaire, and successfully mapped the human genome, what do you do next? Why, find the solution to global warming, of course. J. Craig Venter, the maverick scientist who gave the federal government's Human Genome Project a run for its money and accelerated the pace of DNA sequencing by many years, now plans to figure out a way to suck carbon dioxide out of the atmosphere and thereby slow global warming. Venter is in the process of setting up the Institute for Biological Energy Alternatives and plans to seek government funding for research on technological and biological (as opposed to, say political or behavioral) solutions to environmental problems. Venter is especially interested in bacteria found in recent years in deep ocean trenches that may be able to convert CO2 back into solid form without needing much energy.
straight to the source: Washington Post, Justin Gillis, 30 Apr 2002 <http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/articles/A5058-2002Apr29.html>
only in Grist: A carbon-sequestration cartoon by Suzy Becker <http://www.gristmagazine.com/ha/ha090100.stm?source=daily>
do good: Take action on climate issues <http://www.gristmagazine.com/dogood/climate.asp?source=daily>
The internal combustion engine took one small step toward obsolescence yesterday, when General Motors announced the addition of an 80,000-square-foot research facility in upstate New York that will be wholly dedicated to the commercialization of fuel cells. Fuel cells generate electricity by mixing hydrogen and oxygen; the only byproduct of the process is water. The Bush administration has expressed great enthusiasm for fuel-cell development, but to date, only prototype fuel-cell-powered cars exist. With the new facility, GM will explore the feasibility of manufacturing fuel cells on a large scale. The company, which spends hundreds of millions of dollars per year on fuel-cell research, plans to make mass-produced fuel cells available by the middle of this decade. The first ones, however, will be used for non-transport needs; GM doesn't expect to manufacture fuel-cell cars for the retail market until about 2010.
straight to the source: MSNBC.com, Reuters, 01 May 2002 <http://www.msnbc.com/news/746201.asp>
only in Grist: Fuel speed ahead -- Ballard is leading the charge to spread fuel cells far and wide -- in our Books Unbound column <http://www.gristmagazine.com/books/books063000.stm?source=daily>
do good: Take action to pledge to buy an eco-friendly car <http://www.gristmagazine.com/dogood/autos.asp?source=daily#pledge>
About 15 percent of the world's nitrogen- and sulfur-based pollution is produced by ships -- some 30,000 of them worldwide -- yet the vessels are among the least controlled pollution sources on the planet. That wouldn't change much under rules proposed by the U.S. EPA yesterday. The new regulations, modeled after a five-year-old international accord that has been widely criticized as too lax, would require some ships to reduce their emissions by about 11 percent. But the rules would cover only new ships (although ships sail the seas for four decades) and only U.S. ships (although nine out of every 10 ships entering U.S. ports are foreign). The EPA has admitted that even if the rules were fully in force across the globe, pollution from ships would increase by about 13 percent in the U.S. in the next 30 years. State and local air quality officials say the lack of strict regulations would make it nigh-impossible to meet air-quality standards, and enviros are threatening to go to court over the issue. The Bush administration is expected to finalize the rules by the end of January, after a public-comment period.
straight to the source: Los Angeles Times, Gary Polakovic, 02 May 2002 <http://www.latimes.com/news/science/la-000031163may02.story?coll=la%2Dnews%2Dscience>
GM Demonstrates First Gasoline-Fed Fuel-Cell Vehicle
( Hydrogen Fuel Cell Is The Way To Go Not Gasoline Fuel Cell )
HONEOYE FALLS, N.Y. (AP) _ A high-pitched whine emanated from the electric motor as the bright blue and white pickup truck accelerated to 25 mph on a rural park road.
It was no speed record, but for General Motors Corp., it was a historic moment: the demonstration of what it says is the world's first drivable fuel-cell vehicle, an altered Chevrolet S-10 pickup
Calling the efforts to bring fuel-cell vehicles to the mass market a ``marathon,'' GM vice president Larry Burns said the latest development puts the automaker ``at about mile six.''
The truck demonstrated near GM's fuel-cell research facility is equipped with a processor that reforms low-sulfur gasoline though a series of chemical reactions.
The fuel is mixed with air and water and passed over a series of catalysts that separate hydrogen from carbon. The hydrogen is sent to the fuel-cell stack, where it is combined with oxygen from the air to produce electricity.
Gasoline-fed fuel cells are viewed as a transitional technology as automakers, suppliers and researchers work toward vehicles that run on pure hydrogen.
Every major automaker is working on some sort of fuel-cell vehicle and plans to begin making some available for fleet sales within a year. Mass-produced, affordable fuel-cell vehicles are not expected to be available until at least 2010.
Using gasoline as an interim technology makes sense, said Burns, GM's vice president for research, development and planning, since there are already 175,000 filling stations in the United States, providing an existing refueling infrastructure.
``You're not going to see those filling stations go away overnight,'' he said.
Pure hydrogen-fed fuel cells produce no harmful emissions, while those using gasoline or other fuels are not pollution-free.
GM says the reformer technology installed on the S-10, however, could provide efficiency of 40 miles per gallon while cutting carbon dioxide emissions by 50 percent.
The automaker says all regulated emissions would nearly be eliminated except for trace amounts of carbon monoxide and hydrocarbons. There would be no oxides of nitrogen, GM said.
Burns said heavy, expensive on-board reformers could be replaced with ones at gas stations or in homes with natural gas service. That way, drivers could pump hydrogen into their cars at a filling station or at home.
``Your home or office could become an alternative to a gas station in the future,'' Burns said.
With the fuel-cell-powered S-10, GM says it has made important headway on issues standing in the way of making such vehicles commercially viable and publicly acceptable.
The automaker has been able to reduce the cost of the vehicle tenfold in the last 10 years and has reduced the amount of time the vehicle's fuel processor must warm up before driving from 30 minutes to six, said Gary Stottler, a GM engineer.
A drivable version of GM's Autonomy fuel-cell vehicle that runs on hydrogen will be unveiled by the end of the year, Burns said.
The Autonomy uses an electric motor for each wheel and ``drive-by-wire'' technology, eliminating mechanical controls for steering and braking.
GM already has developed stationary fuel-cell units that could be used as backup power generators for homes or businesses. Other companies, such as DTE Energy Inc., are working on stationary fuel-cell power units as well.
The automaker is working with Hydrogenics Corp. of Toronto and Nextel Communications Inc. on a project to use a 25-kilowatt generator to power wireless telephone towers in the event they lose their primary electrical service.
Honda Markets Another Hybrid Vehicle That Approaches Clean Car Standard
CLEAN CAR CAMPAIGN UPDATE
Honda is now selling a gas-electric hybrid version of its popular Civic through dealerships across the country. Read on to learn about this vehicle and how you can register to win one!
The Model Year 2003 Hybrid Civic performs well against our Clean Car Standard (CCC Backgrounder), achieving 49 miles per gallon (combined city and highway driving) and meeting the ultra-low emitting vehicle tailpipe standard. That is more than 1-1/2 times the average fuel economy for compact cars, with tailpipe emissions that meet the cleanest current national rating.
This car also performs very well on the road and is outfitted with "top-of-the-line" features such as automatic climate control and a higher quality interior. Hybrids run on conventional fuel and never need to be plugged in, and the Hybrid Civic can travel over 600 miles on a tank. It costs $19,550 with a manual transmission, or $20,550 with an automatic transmission.
This is the first time that a car meeting these environmental performance criteria has been available as an optional version of an already popular vehicle line. Honda plans to sell 2,000 Hybrid Civics per month, and Toyota will soon increase Prius sales to nearly 1,500 per month. For more information, see Links and More Information.
CLEAN CAR PLEDGE - TELL A FRIEND!
So far, over 100,000 people like you have taken the Clean Car Pledge. Spread the word and invite your friends to take the Pledge:
Clean Car Campaign Site
Action Network Site
TAKE THE PATRIOT'S PLEDGE AND REGISTER TO WIN
And, if you would like another way to express your support for saving fuel, you can take the Patriot's Pledge: http://www.saveabarrel.org
The Patriot's Pledge is a campaign to help Americans reduce our dependence on oil by taking personal steps to meet our transportation needs in more fuel-efficient ways. By taking the pledge, you will save at the pump, help the environment and make our nation more secure. Anyone who makes a pledge between now and June 21, 2002, will be automatically entered into a drawing to win a new Hybrid Civic!
Thank you for your support.
The Clean Car Campaign
Sierra Club Congratulates Hawaii Legislature For Passing Bottle Bill
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE, May 1, 2002
SIERRA CLUB CONGRATULATES HAWAII LEGISLATURE FOR PASSING BOTTLE BILL Hawaii Implements First 5-cent Beverage Container Deposit Law in Twenty Years
Honolulu, HI- The Sierra Club today applauded the Hawaii State Legislature for approving the first 5-cent beverage container deposit legislation, or bottle bill, in twenty years. Hawaii is the 11th state with a bottle bill. With all of the main Hawaiian Islands currently facing a landfill crisis, this measure will shrink landfills, create recycling jobs, and vastly reduce bottle and can litter from beaches and roadways.
"Passing the bottle bill is a major victory for Hawaii's environment. Hawaii is paradise. We want to keep it that way," said Jeff Mikulina, Director of the Sierra Club, Hawaii Chapter. "With shrinking landfill space and an economy that is dependent on a clean environment, the bottle bill makes sense for Hawaii."
Hawaii uses approximately 800 million beverage containers annually. Currently, about 20% of those containers are recycled statewide. A recent national report, co-sponsored by the beverage industry, found that states with bottle bills recover 80% of their beverage container waste. Studies also show that states with bottle bills witnessed a 60-80% decrease in beverage container litter after enactment of the measure. Hawaii's bottle bill will place a nickel deposit on all glass, plastic and aluminum beverage containers that would be returned when the consumer brings the empty container back for recycling. Redemption centers and retail stores over a certain size would be required to accept the recyclable bottles and cans.
"Bottle bills work," continued Mikulina. "They provide a real incentive for people to recycle-and an incentive not to litter. The ten states with bottle bills found that bottle and can litter has virtually disappeared. With the bottle bill, we will not only reduce the pressure on our landfills, but we will also improve the safety of our beaches and protect our ocean ecosystem."
The last states to pass nickel deposit bottle bills were Delaware and Massachusetts in 1982. The many measures introduced by states since then have been vigorously opposed by the beverage industry. Over the past 20 years, beverage industry opponents have spent tens of millions on defeating bottle bills around the country, out spending proponents by as much as 30 to 1. In 1996, $3 million was spent to defeat a bottle bill expansion initiative in Oregon. It is estimated that the beverage industry spent upwards of $100,000 attempting to stop the Hawaii bottle bill.
CONTACT: Jeff Mikulina, 808-226-4987 or Wendy Balazik, 202-675-2383
Changing Climate, Shrinking Habitats And Other Stories
Thursday, May 02, 2002
by Jessie Landau and Kathleen Wong, California Academy of Sciences
Changing Climate, Shrinking Habitats
Computer models suggest that Earth's changing climate will cause most places to have radically different ecosystems within 50 years. The study, led by Townsend Peterson of University of Kansas, determined the geographical ranges of 1,870 mammals, birds, and butterflies in Mexico and then calculated where each species could survive given current climate change trends.
The model predicts that up to 2.4 percent of species are likely to lose up to 90 percent or more of their ranges. More than 40 percent of species in some communities are expected to suffer shrinking ranges and to face extinction. The strongest effects of climate change are expected to occur in flatlands such as the Chihuahuan Desert, where almost half the species may change.
Conversely, mountain species will probably experience the least change. The shifts could be more rapid than those seen at the end of the last Ice Age. The results suggest that conservationists should reexamine which lands they would most like to protect. Creating reserve networks would allow species to adjust to climate change by migrating. The alternative: Reserves set up today might lose the ecosystems they were intended to protect.
Southern California Dam to Fall for Steelhead
One small blow for steelhead will mean one big leap for Southern California's severly endangered steelhead trout. This week, the National Park Service plans to demolish a small dam in the Santa Monica Mountains to allow steelhead access to more spawning grounds. The fall of the Solstice Creek barrier marks the first time such concrete actions have taken place expressly for fish in Los Angeles County.
Biologists smell success in the venture. They call the waters upstream of the dam an anadromous fish's paradise. Cool, clean water riffles across deep gravel beds shaded by native trees. Nearly all of Solstice Canyon is protected from development. And unlike salmon, the southland's steelhead are programmed to settle for just about any freshwater source in an adaptation to an often drought-stricken climate. The project has progressed smoothly so far, giving hope to conservationists gunning for the removal of two much larger silted-in dams: one on Matilija Creek near Ojai and another on Malibu Creek.
Magnetic North Heading South
The Earth's magnetic field may be in the early stages of reversing, which would eventually send magnetic north to the South Pole.
The field is created by the circulation of liquid iron inside Earth's core. Changes in the flow direction of these iron currents are thought to weaken the magnetic field and start the pole-flipping process. The last reversal is thought to have occurred about 780,000 years ago over a period of several thousand years.
Researchers at the Physics of the Globe Institute of Paris and the Danish Space Research Institute in Copenhagen recently compared the strength and direction of Earth's magnetic field using satellite data gathered in 1980 and 2000. In the journal Nature, they report that the magnetic field of one large patch off the southern tip of Africa has already flipped. Anomalies like these have already reduced the strength of the planet's magnetic field by about 10 percent. If the trend continues, it will result in the creation of a new magnetic pole.
Wild Condor Chick Hatches
Pop the champagne and bring out the cigars! A pair of California condors living in the wild have successfully bred, brooded, and hatched a healthy chick in Los Padres National Forest south of Big Sur. The six-day-old ball of fluff is the first to be conceived and born in the wild since biologists collected the last wild condors for captive breeding 18 years ago.
Biologists say the parents have bonded well to the chick and are taking turns feeding it a nutritious diet of regurgitated meat. Lauded by scientists as a major step forward in restoring the endangered birds to the wild, the event almost didn't happen. Biologists tried to remove the egg last month, out of fear its captive-bred, puppet-fed parents couldn't care for it. But the father scuttled that idea by aggressively chasing the egg nabbers away. The chick brings the population of condors in the wild up to 63 and the total population to 185, up from 22 in 1980.
Crayfish Urine Packs a Knockout Punch
Fighting crayfish intimidate their opponents with a quick squirt of urine, say scientists. The battle strategy may be the first known example of direct underwater chemical communication. Freshwater crayfish (Astacus leptodactylus) tend to live in dense aggregations of as many as 20 individuals per square meter.
Fierce competition over food, shelter, and mates makes the creatures a quarrelsome lot. In the study, ecologist Thomas Breithaupt of the University of Hull in the United Kingdom staged fighting bouts between crayfish that had been blindfolded and injected with a dye that made their urine glow green. He found that brawl winners squirted as aggressions escalated and were more likely to urinate during the match than losers. Streams were aimed toward an opponent's gills, suggesting pheromones in the urine advertised the combatant's size, strength, and sex.
A preemptive shot, Breithaupt proposes, allows the burliest crayfish to win matches while averting serious damage. The work was published in the Journal of Experimental Biology.
World's First Cowboys Bunked in Africa
Just when and where humans first domesticated cattle has always been a mystery. Some have speculated that humans in the Near East were the first to tame wild herds 8,000 years ago, and that livestock herding spread to Africa via colonization and ocean-going trade.
However, other archaeologists have suggested on the strength of a few poorly preserved bones that Africans became the world's first cowpokes perhaps 10,000 years ago. New genetic evidence supporting this theory has just been published in the journal Science. Olivier Hanotte in Nairobi, Kenya, and colleagues at the International Livestock Research Institute compared the genes of cattle in 50 herds in 23 African nations.
They found that cattle in the Horn of Africa tend to be related to the humped zebu of Pakistan and probably arrived via trade ships. Those in northern Africa contain the genes of taurine cattle, domesticated about 8,000 years ago in what is now Turkey. But herds in central Africa contained the most genetic diversity, suggesting their bloodlines are the oldest of all. Hanotte suggests that people in central Africa developed cattle domestication independently, and their herding lifestyle spread to the west and south.
Signs Of A Superdense Quark Star
NASA astronomers say they have found the first example of a strange and hypothetical object known as a quark star. Just 11 kilometers in diameter, this unimaginably dense star could weigh more than our Sun.
Named RX J1856, the object had originally been considered a neutron star. Neutron stars are thought to form after large, aging stars have collapsed. If the force of the implosion is great enough, the protons and electrons in its atoms will fuse, creating a core made of densely packed neutrons. One teaspoon of a neutron star is thought to weigh more than a billion tons.
Data from the Chandra X-ray Observatory indicate that RX J1856, located about 360 light years from Earth, is too small to be a neutron star. Instead, RX J1856 could be an even denser quark star. Quark stars are thought to form when a star's collapse progresses past the neutron star stage. Those neutrons are thought to implode into an even denser mass, where the largest distinguishable entities are the fundamental particles known as quarks. Other astronomers remain skeptical about the discovery because alternative scenarios could also explain the star's small size.
ENVIRONMENT NEWS SERVICE
FISHERIES REPORT OFFERS BRIGHT SPOTS, DIM FORECAST
WASHINGTON, DC, May 1, 2002 (ENS) - For the first time in five years, annual figures released by the National Marine Fisheries Service show some improvements in the status of commercially fished marine species. While conservation groups applauded the good news, they noted that almost 100 fish species remain in jeopardy, and urged support for new legislation to strengthen the nation's fish conservation laws.
JUDGE BARS NAVY BOMBING ON FARALLON DE MEDINILLA
WASHINGTON, DC, May 1, 2002 (ENS) - A federal judge has issued an injunction halting all military activities at Farallon de Medinilla that would harm or kill migratory birds.
NEW CODE TO GOVERN BRITISH COLUMBIA FOREST INDUSTRY
VICTORIA, British Columbia, Canada, May 1, 2002 (ENS) - The government of British Columbia today announced that it is "streamlining" its forest practices regulations "while maintaining strict environmental standards." After years of pilot projects and study, the Liberal government of Premier Gordon Campbell says it has developed a new "results oriented approach," and is encouraging input from all interests before putting new regulations into law.
EUROPE'S CHOICE: NUCLEAR DANGERS OR GLOBAL WARMING
PAMPLONA, Spain, May 1, 2002 (ENS) - Governments must overcome public concerns about nuclear energy if the European Union is to comply with its Kyoto Protocol commitments, European Energy and Transport Commissioner Loyola de Palacio warned an informal meeting of EU energy ministers in Pamplona on Sunday. Under the protocol, EU countries must cut the emission of six greenhouse gases linked to global warming by 2012.
ENVIRONMENT NEWS SERVICE AMERISCAN: MAY 1, 2002
Explosion, Fire Destroy Texas Petrochemical Plant
Logging Halted in Roadless Tongass Regions
Rat Poison Kills Birds on Anacapa Island
El Niño Could Rescue Parched Southwest
Energy Department Seeks Ways to Expand Geothermal Power
Black Bear Study Offers Good News
Hybrid Honda Civic Now in Dealerships
Park Service Tests SegwayTM Human Transporter
The Carlyle Connection
How The Pentagon Learned To Love The Weapon No One Wanted
by Geoffrey Gray
rank Carlucci never trained much as a salesman. The former CIA spook turned Reagan defense secretary has been working as chairman for the Carlyle Group, the nation's 11th largest military contractor, and for the last five years, he's been championing the the production of 482 Crusader armored vehicles, over $11.2 billion dollars' worth of self-propelled Howitzer firepower.
He might as well have been going door-to-door with vacuum cleaners. Nobody seemed to want the damn things. They were bulky, outdated, expensive. "It looks like it's too heavy; it's not lethal enough," Bush said during a 2000 campaign debate. "There's going to be a lot of programs that aren't going to fit into the strategic plan for a long-term change of our military."
What a difference a war can make.
Late this March, as part of the post-9-11 military buildup, Donald Rumsfeld gave United Defense, Carlyle's subsidiary, the full monty: over $470 million to continue development on the problem-riddled Crusaders, puzzling some military analysts.
"The Crusader has been the GAO's poster child for bad weapons development," says Eric Miller, an analyst who watches defense for the Project on Government Oversight. "Influence is tough to measure, but it's certainly had a friend somewhere."
Make that a very close friend. Two internal Defense Department documentsletters between Carlyle and Rumsfeldrecently made available to the Voice show the intimate relationship between the Bush administration and the Carlyle Group.
"Dear Don," reads the first note, dated February 15, 2001, and signed by Carlucci on Carlyle stationery. "Thanks for the lunch last Friday. It was great seeing you in such good spirits even if you are 'all alone.' "
Rummy, all alone? The Defense Department declined to comment on that one. A spokesman for the Carlyle Group, Chris Ullman, explains that 'all alone' simply means Rumsfeld, fresh in office, felt overwhelmed by the duties of his new job. He invited Carlucci over to the Pentagon for advicenot as a Carlyle chairman, but as a former public servantalong with William Perry, former Clinton defense secretary. The letter, Ullman says, should not have been printed on Carlyle stationary. "It was an oversight."
Still, Judicial Watch, the right-wing group that got the memos through a Freedom of Information Act request, says the connection between the Pentagon and the Carlyle Group whose advisers include the first president Bushcreates the "appearance of conflict" and violate the public's trust.
"Under normal circumstances, it would be advisable for Rumsfeld to meet with his former secretaries to talk shop," says the group's president, Tom Fitton. "But when [you're] working for a defense contractor, it's probably not a good idea."
The letter indicates they intended to continue chatting. It continues: "We thought it useful to follow up on our discussions on the need for reductions in the infrastructure of the Department [of Defense] and how that might best be done. . . . We would be pleased to introduce to you, or to whomever you might designate, the Commissioners who put this effort together. Best Regards . . . "
Located a few long blocks from the White House, Carlyle has been called the world's most powerful private equity firm. But since September 11, the company has been having a little PR problem, not least because it once had both Bush and bin Laden family moneythough not Osama's.
Carlyle's front men tend to come from the dark, Bushy corners of the Republican partylike the president's Florida consigliere, James "the Velvet Hammer" Baker, and former White House budget chief Dick Darman. Their staff is like a fantasy camp for former world dignitaries and international policy wonks.
On the roster of retirees: head of the FCC William Kennard; head of the SEC Arthur Levitt; treasurer and chief investment officer of the World Bank and husband of Bush biographer Afsaneh Beschloss; former Brit prime minister John Major; and former Philippines prez Fidel Ramos.
These bigs do business in 55 countries and specialize in investing in private sectors heavily affected by government change. Which, in simple terms, means they buy smaller companies in areas where they can predict public policy, then sell them for bigger profits.
First in a string of high-profile recruits, Carlucci joined Carlyle in 1989, giving the company an inside edge on the Pentagon's $150 billion Pentagon defense-spending feast. With yearly receipts that topped $1 billion, he also showed company founders the wisdom of having a former cabinet member at the head of the table.
But what people misunderstand about Carlyle, co-founder David Rubenstein told Fortune magazine last month, is that his celebrity staff does less than people think, and whatever the public may be speculatinge.g., global-domination conspiracy stuffis just not true.
"We don't lobby government," he saidand by law, even if the company did, it wouldn't be illegal. Carlucci, who has been out of office long enough to work as a lobbyist if he wanted to, told Fortune he had been "particularly cautious" not to discuss Carlyle business with Rumsfeld. True, the two have become close friends since their Ivy League days together on the Princeton wrestling team, and the defense secretary and his wife, Joyce, often dine at the Carluccis' house, and Rummy occasionally lends Frank and Marsha the keys to their $280,000 ski condo in Taos, New Mexico. Talk of weapons development could easily come up between the two Tigers alums. In the magazine interview, Carlucci insisted it does not.
"I have never mentioned the word Crusader in his presence," he said.
Maybe so, but the letters uncovered by Judicial Watch indicate the chairman might have gotten his foot back inside the Pentagon doors. On April 3, 2001, Rumsfeld replied:
"Dear Frank and Bill:
"There is no question but that we are going to have to tackle the infrastructure issue. What I may do is ask the two of you to come in and meet with some of the key staff folks who are working on those types of things here in the department.
"I will be back in touch with you. Sincerely, R."
Additional reporting: Jess Wisloski
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Moussaoui Hijacks The Legal System
An Accused Terrorist Puts The U.S. Courts On Trial
by Dahlia Lithwick, May 1, 2002
Zacarias Moussaoui, the alleged 20th hijacker, wants to join his friends in martyrdom. In open court last week, he proved he's willing to waive competent counsel and go to the electric chair so long as he can destroy the American legal system by grandstanding at his trial.
Moussaoui used a pretrial hearing to offer a 50-minute diatribe calling for the "destruction of America" and "the destruction of the Jewish people." He insulted the judge and attacked his attorneys. Under the guise of a motion to fire his court-appointed counsel and quoting extensively from the Quran, Moussaoui called for a "fight against the evil forces of the federal government," for "Muslims who want to fight and spend ... money for the real day of judgment" and for other tidbits of generalized craziness (such as the return of Spain to the Muslims). It remains unclear from Moussaoui's babble whether he would prefer to have the court appoint Muslim defense counsel or if he'd rather represent himself. Given that allowing Moussaoui to proceed pro se will unleash a legal nightmare, there's no question that the most pragmatic option for Judge Leonie Brinkema would be to give Moussaoui a Muslim attorney he can work with, even if the law doesn't require such accommodation. But what if Moussaouirecognizing that this trial affords him a direct connection to Al Jazeerainsists on defending himself? Should he be permitted to? And will he bring down the whole American system of justice if he does?
The Moussaoui trial calls into question many assumptions at the core of the U.S. legal system. For starters, the justice system is predicated on the assumption that an adversarial system will unearth the truth. But Moussaoui doesn't believe that ours is an adversarial system. He informed the court that "this judge is here as a field general, entrusted with the mission to get this matter over quickly." Moussaoui believes his own attorneys are pursuing "greed, fame, and vanity" as well as actively assisting the government in speeding him to his execution.
Another assumption is that open and public trials are better for the defendant, for justice, and for the public than closed and secret trials are. We believe that nonsense spouted by parties at trial will be revealed as nonsense when subjected to the "free market of ideas." But when an alleged terrorist and self-professed enemy of the state seeks to use a trial to broadcast his message, incite his confederates, and to possibly pass coded messages to America's enemies, the assumption that a free, open trial is best for this democracy is called into question.
Finally, we assume that even criminals are ultimately rational actors; that given a choice between sending a message and preserving his life, no defendant would reasonably choose to die and send a message. Sept. 11 tells us this assumption is no longer true either.
Defenders of military tribunals say the Moussaoui mess vindicates their position that Western freedoms and Western values are too good for terrorists unwilling to abide by the basic bargains that underpin Western life. And more alarming, Moussaoui's insistence that our legal system is corrupt will, in fact, corrupt the system. At every juncture, he will force the court to either grant his fundamental rights or risk violating them. To grant his fundamental rights may be to endanger the whole country. And to violate them is to undermine our most basic legal and moral values.
For example, long-standing American tradition preserves a defendant's right to examine the evidence against him, even when it's classified for security reasons. Usually the law allows defense counsel to review classified information, but only after counsel pass background checks and sign statements indicating they won't divulge the information. But our defendant wants to represent himself. Moussaoui's signature is worth less than the Bic pen he'd use to freely access state secrets. And while Judge Brinkema has the option of clearing only Moussaoui's "stand-by" counsel, Moussaoui's already made clear that he's only interested in lawyers who share his kind of "Islamic understanding." Brinkema may need to choose whether such lawyers should be entrusted with classified documents or whether to stage a show trial in which Moussaoui can't defend himself because he can't examine the evidence.
As Moussaoui also points out, the Sixth Amendment protects absolutely the right to represent oneself, even if one is a galactic idiot. In a 1973 case, Faretta v. California, the Supreme Court reasoned that "although [the defendant] may conduct his own defense ultimately to his own detriment, his choice must be honored out of 'that respect for the individual which is the lifeblood of the law.' " Moussaouiso long as he's deemed mentally competent to do so, has the right to act as his own lawyer. Thus, even if you believe that citations to the Quran count as binding legal precedent in the Eastern District of Virginia, the Constitution gives you the right to mount your own defense. So, Brinkema must either let Moussaoui broadcast his message of hate or violate his constitutional right to do so.
The Constitution also guarantees the right to an open trial. Which is why Judge Brinkema's courtroom is full of reporters and the pleadings are available on the Web. So, Brinkema can either conduct this trial in secrecy, or (as she did last week) invite a suspected terrorist to step up to the mike.
The great irony here is that most criminal law experts agree that even a dismal lawyer could probably get Moussaoui acquitted on these conspiracy charges. The case against him is largely circumstantial, and the government faces a steep uphill battle. But the rules of evidence are complicated, and Moussaoui likely can't understand legal procedures well enough to mount a credible defense. Also, Moussaoui really doesn't mind losing his case and dying. In fact, he looks like he plans to enjoy it.
The judge won't rule on Moussaoui's motion to represent himself until she has seen the results of his mental exam. Yesterday, Brinkema ordered that Dr. Raymond Patterson (whose examination of John Hinckley kept him confined to a mental hospital over his doctor's objections) perform a competency exam on Moussaoui and determine whether he is mentally fit to stand trial and fit to fire his lawyers. While in some jurisdictions courts require a higher level of mental competency to fire one's lawyers than to stand trial, the 4th Circuit follows the rule laid out by the Supreme Court in a 1993 case, Godinez v. Moran, holding that the standard of competence for waiving counsel is identical to the standard of competence for standing trial. According to the Supreme Court's holding in Dusky v. United States, Moussaoui need only be competent enough to confer with his lawyers and understand the charges against him. It's doubtful that even his suicidal religious extremism will be enough to render Moussaoui mentally incompetent under that test.
So, what is Judge Brinkema to do? Does she chip away at American constitutional freedomsMoussaoui's right to see the evidence against him, his right to self-representation, his right to an open trialall in the name of keeping him on a short leash? Or does she let him hijack this trial for the delectation of his buddies back in Afghanistan?
To condone chipping away at constitutional rights is to suggest that becoming more brutally repressiveor more like themis the American way in times of trouble. It suggests that we never really trusted any of our ephemeral democratic ideals in the first place. In any liberal society, it's sometimes necessary to hold one's nose and admit that ephemeral high-minded rights are never as important as they are in times of war when accorded our enemies. If we really do believe in the freedoms and rights that represent the warp and woof of this democracy, it's absurd to argue that they stop at U.S. borders or that we can just put them on pause during wartime. If we really believe in the free marketplace of ideas, we'll have to allow Mr. Moussaoui to put his own asinine convictions on the block. Be warned: It will be ugly. Be warned: Our enemies will hoot with joy. But what's the alternative? If 200 years of constitutional ideals can't withstand the taunts of one angry little lunatic, we shouldn't be fighting a war to defend them. Moussaoui can go ahead and trash this trial, trash U.S. morale, giggle with his terrorist buddies, and embarrass the court. He still won't have taken our whole justice system down with him, unless we give it to him.
t r u t h o u t | 05.02
1.5 Million French Rally vs. Le Pen
Fighting Erupts Near Bethlehem Church
Levin Statement | Gas Prices: How Are They Really Set?
Leahy, Kennedy, Boxer | Letter to Thompson on Medical Privacy
Reid Calls on President to Match Education Rhetoric with Resources
Paul Krugman | Herd on the Street (The Economic Recovery That Isn't)
Geoffrey Gray | The Carlyle Connection
Mike Ferner | War, Inc.
White House Stonewall: Day 68
t r u t h o u t, is a non-profit independent news source
Planet Ark World Environment News
FEATURE - Serb town still waiting for NATO bombing clean-up - YUGOSLAVIA http://www.planetark.org/dailynewsstory.cfm/newsid/15762/story.htm
Pechiney deal to expand Venezuelan aluminum mine - VENEZUELA http://www.planetark.org/dailynewsstory.cfm/newsid/15773/story.htm
US Army Corps to suspend work on 150 projects - USA http://www.planetark.org/dailynewsstory.cfm/newsid/15765/story.htm
Alliant's Iowa unit to build $400 mln power plant - USA http://www.planetark.org/dailynewsstory.cfm/newsid/15768/story.htm
US ruling on Western gas leases may spur lawsuits - USA http://www.planetark.org/dailynewsstory.cfm/newsid/15766/story.htm
UK Co-Op Bank spurns genetic modification business - UK http://www.planetark.org/dailynewsstory.cfm/newsid/15763/story.htm
Digging for gold in the mountain of old mobiles - UK http://www.planetark.org/dailynewsstory.cfm/newsid/15774/story.htm
Animal lobby makes Novartis wary on UK investment - UK http://www.planetark.org/dailynewsstory.cfm/newsid/15760/story.htm
Britain launches 66 million pound biomass scheme - UK http://www.planetark.org/dailynewsstory.cfm/newsid/15770/story.htm
Carnival atmosphere at London May Day protests - UK http://www.planetark.org/dailynewsstory.cfm/newsid/15771/story.htm
Two people die in Turkish landmine explosion - TURKEY http://www.planetark.org/dailynewsstory.cfm/newsid/15767/story.htm
Taiwan isle residents protest against nuclear waste - TAIWAN http://www.planetark.org/dailynewsstory.cfm/newsid/15758/story.htm
NZ questions claims organic foods tastier, healthier - NEW ZEALAND http://www.planetark.org/dailynewsstory.cfm/newsid/15759/story.htm
Quebec mulls moratorium on huge hog farms - CANADA http://www.planetark.org/dailynewsstory.cfm/newsid/15764/story.htm
Supply security to top Detroit G8 energy agenda - CANADA http://www.planetark.org/dailynewsstory.cfm/newsid/15769/story.htm
Australia resists Japan's call to join climate pact - AUSTRALIA http://www.planetark.org/dailynewsstory.cfm/newsid/15761/story.htm
Japan PM greeted in Australia by pomp and protests - AUSTRALIA http://www.planetark.org/dailynewsstory.cfm/newsid/15772/story.htm
This may be news to you, but tomorrow is the National Day of Prayer. An annual event established by an act of Congress five decades ago, the point of the NDP was to encourage Americans to pray for their nation--at least once every twelve months. Each year, the president and state governors issue proclamations encouraging such importuning. And the NDP has become a major ritual for the religious right.
For the full story, read the latest installment of "Capital Games," David Corn's exclusive web feature. Currently available at:
The far-right antiabortion movement has also been active lately. See Bill Berkowitz's national roundup for a look at what this violent fringe has been up to. Available at:
Irradiation Provision In Farm Bill A Sellout To Agribusiness
Statement of Public Citizen President Joan Claybrook
Any time a huge piece of legislation is being chewed over by Congress, there's a good chance that big business interests are hovering at the table like pigs at a trough. The farm bill that lawmakers approved today is just such a bill, and agribusiness lobbyists were at the trough.
One disturbing provision in particular bodes very badly for our food supply and for anyone who buys food at a supermarket. That provision guts current rules that prevent irradiated food from being labeled euphemistically as "pasteurized." Food producers who use irradiation want to label their products with the word "pasteurize" because it conjures up images of wholesome milk. This is designed to confuse and mislead people; they don't want consumers to know the truth, which is that irradiated food may deplete nutrients and may create harmful chemicals.
The bill's irradiation language gives the industry several bites at the apple to label irradiated food as being pasteurized. One provision permits the industry to request permission from the secretary of Health and Human Services (HHS) to use the term "pasteurization" on the labels of irradiated foods. If the Secretary does not respond within 120 days, the irradiator can label the product as being pasteurized. There is no public notice requirement, nor is any consumer input requested or required before a decision on the industry request.
A second provision directs the secretary of HHS to revisit the issue of food irradiation labeling through the standard regulatory process. However, during that process, any irradiation firm can petition the secretary to use alternative labeling terminology. The secretary has 180 days to respond. Again, there is no provision for a public notice requirement nor an opportunity for the public to comment.
We believe the language was inserted largely at the behest of Sen.Tom Harkin (D-Iowa), who has accepted $175,591 in agribusiness money in the past two election cycles, and of Rep. Billy Tauzin (R-La.), who has accepted $86,225 in agribusiness money in the same period. We are dismayed and disgusted that they chose to do so much for their contributors at the expense of consumers.
Public Citizen is a nonprofit consumer advocacy organization based in Washington, D.C.
For more information, please visit http://www.citizen.org
GROUPS SEEK TO HALT BUSH ADMINISTRATION FROM ALLOWING ENVIRONMENTALLY UNSAFE TRUCKS FROM MEXICO ON U.S. HIGHWAYS
Lawsuit by Public Interest, Labor and Environmental Groups Shows New Evidence of Health Risks from Air Pollution
May 1, 2002, Washington, DC - Claiming the Bush Administration has failed to address environmental health concerns for Mexico-domiciled truck emissions, an environmental, labor and industry coalition led by Public Citizen, the Environmental Law Foundation and the International Brotherhood of Teamsters today took legal action to prevent the Bush Administration from allowing Mexico-domiciled trucks on highways throughout the United States. The plaintiffs are seeking an emergency injunction to prevent proposed federal regulations from becoming effective on May 3, 2002.
The lawsuit claims that trucks from Mexico will dramatically increase U.S. air pollution because:
· At least 30,000 Mexico-domiciled diesel trucks are set to enter the U.S. in 2002, including many older, pre-1994 trucks that are the most egregious polluters.
· Within ten years, diesel emissions from US trucks will be dramatically reduced due to new engine and fuel standards; no legislation is pending in Mexico to require Mexico-domiciled trucks to meet the same or even similar standards.
· Trucks from Mexico may not be covered by a settlement that requires U.S. trucks to remove "defeat devices" that enabled them to test clean at inspection sites but run dirty on the open road.
According to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), "diesel exhaust is likely to be carcinogenic in humans by inhalation." Diesel exhaust has also been linked to birth defects, asthma and premature death.
"By failing to accurately assess the true environmental impact of allowing these trucks from Mexico throughout the United States, the Administration has put the health of millions of Americans at greater risk," said Joan Claybrook, President of Public Citizen.
The plaintiffs are challenging the Bush Administration's "finding of no significant impact," or FONSI prepared concerning these trucks and seeking an injunction requiring the Administration to conduct an Environmental Impact Statement (EIS). The EIS would address the significant public health concerns about these trucks before they are allowed throughout the country.
The lawsuit, which was filed in a San Francisco federal court, points to a new study that raises serious questions about the public health impact of allowing these environmentally unsafe trucks from Mexico to drive throughout the United States. For example, the study shows, by the year 2010, these trucks will emit twice as much particulate matter and nitrogen oxides as U.S. trucks. Fine particulate matter is considered to be the largest environmental public health problem in the United States today. Nitrogen oxides are dangerous because they help form ozone, which is a strong irritant to the lungs and eyes. At high concentrations, ozone causes shortness of breath, and aggravates asthma, emphysema and other conditions.
The suit claims that the Bush Administration disregarded key requirements of the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) and the Clean Air Act in its efforts to allow these trucks access to all U.S. highways. The study was conducted by Sierra Research Inc., a Sacramento, Calif.-based company.
According to the Sierra report, the Bush Administration's Environmental Assessment failed to:
§ Consider the long-term effects on U.S. air quality because it looked only at data for the year 2002. The disparity between the emissions rates of U.S. and Mexico-domiciled trucks will increase as tougher U.S.-EPA standards take effect in the years ahead.
§ Take into account specific emission differences between U.S. and Mexico-domiciled trucks. For instance, the emissions rates of Mexico-domiciled trucks for oxides of nitrogen (NOx) and particulate matter (PM) will be higher than U.S. trucks over a 20-year period.
§ Assess the effects of more inspections on air quality. Increased number and duration of inspections will heighten the amount of emissions at these inspection sites.
§ Look at the effects of increased emissions on local areas and instead focused exclusively on a national scale. This is particularly significant since the trucks would cause increased emissions in communities that are already above existing air quality standards. In the interests of accuracy and fairness, air quality evaluations are usually confined to smaller, more specific geographical areas.
"In light of new concerns over air quality and the Bush Administration's refusal to comply with NEPA and the Clean Air Act, we believe a full environmental review is necessary before these trucks are allowed on U.S. highways," said James Wheaton, President, Environmental Law Foundation. The plaintiffs are calling on the Administration to comply with NEPA and the Clean Air Act by conducting an EIS and a conformity determination -- an EPA-administered emissions test for mobile vehicles. California State Attorney General Bill Lockyer filed a friend of the court brief in support of the plaintiff's request for an injunction.
"Commercial trucks from Mexico will not meet this country's tougher emissions standards," said James P. Hoffa, General President, International Brotherhood of Teamsters. "We should make sure that these trucks are safe and in full compliance with the same clean air rules that we hold American trucks to before we allow them to travel throughout the Southwest and elsewhere that already suffer from poor air quality."
Many urban areas in the U.S., including Los Angeles, San Diego, Houston, Dallas/Ft. Worth, El Paso and San Francisco, are currently in non-attainment with the National Ambient Air Quality Standards (NAAQS) for ozone and/or particulate matter. New, more stringent air standards will make it even more difficult for these communities to comply with the law if these trucks from Mexico began arriving in their present form.
In addition to Public Citizen, the International Brotherhood of Teamsters (IBT) and the Environmental Law Foundation (ELF), other plaintiffs in the suit include the California Federation of Labor AFL-CIO and the California Trucking Association. The plaintiffs are represented by Milberg, Weiss, Bershad, Hynes and Lerach LLP and Altshuler, Berzon, Nussbaum, Rubin & Demain.
"Diesel kills," said Al Meyerhoff, lead attorney for the plaintiffs. "Older trucks from Mexico, due to their dangerously high emission rates, present a clear and present risk to public health."
A copy of the complaint, the press release, the Sierra Research study - including maps, and a fact sheet are available on the Internet at:
http://www.milberg.com (see cross-border trucking)
Arbitration More Expensive Than Court - So Costly That Many Victims of Consumer Fraud, Employment Discrimination Give Up
Sens. Kennedy and Feingold Unveil Arbitration Bill to Protect Workers
WASHINGTON, D.C. - Arbitration, although widely billed as a low-cost alternative to court, is actually far more expensive for consumers and employees who seek redress for discrimination, fraud and malpractice, a new Public Citizen report reveals. In fact, arbitration costs are so high that many people drop their complaints because they can't afford to pursue them, Public Citizen found.
Arbitration is a private legal system in which, practically speaking, no appeals are allowed. Arbitrators tend to favor businesses, and arbitration awards tend to be much lower than jury verdicts, because arbitrators often favor companies that will provide them future business.
Mandatory arbitration clauses are increasingly being written into everything from basic equipment purchase forms to employment contracts. If consumers use a credit card or cell phone, or have health insurance, they likely have signed or received a form with fine print prohibiting them from suing the company and instead requiring them to take disputes to arbitration. Employees, too, are increasingly finding out too late that they have given up their right to sue, and instead must submit disputes with their employers to an arbitrator instead of a judge.
Public Citizen unveiled the report at a Law Day press conference at which Sens. Edward M. Kennedy (D-Mass.) and Russ Feingold (D-Wis.) introduced legislation protecting employees from arbitration clauses.
According to the report, the cost of initiating an arbitration case is almost always higher than the cost of filing a lawsuit. For instance, an $80,000 consumer claim brought in the Circuit Court of Cook County, Ill., would cost $221, versus $11,625 at National Arbitration Forum (NAF), a 5,260 percent difference. The American Arbitration Association (AAA) would charge the plaintiff up to $6,650, and Judicial Arbitration and Mediation Services (JAMS) would charge up to $7,950, amounting to a 3,009 percent and 3,597 percent difference in cost, respectively. In requiring payment of these high fees up-front, arbitration destroys the benefits of attorney contingency fee arrangements, which allow plaintiffs to pursue cases without advancing funds.
"Congress, the courts and the public have been victims of a disinformation campaign, portraying arbitration as an inexpensive and impartial alternative to the public courts," said Joan Claybrook, Public Citizen president. "Today, we authoritatively debunk this myth. The grim fact is that for people who are victims of consumer rip-offs and workplace injustices, arbitration costs much more than litigation - so much more that it becomes impossible to vindicate your rights."
People caught in arbitration's net include home buyers complaining of shoddy workmanship, employees pursuing discrimination cases, patients seeking redress for poor care from their HMOs, small business owners in dispute with franchisors and consumers who are improperly billed.
Los Angeles resident Stephanie Paul had to arbitrate a malpractice claim against her lawyer. She was charged $5,000 for filing the claim - a fee the arbitration association refused to waive even though she was unemployed. Each fiscal quarter, the association charged her $150 for processing fees. When the law firm filed a motion to have the case dismissed, Paul was charged $2,425 for the time the arbitrator spent handling it. More fees were added over time. Finally, when the bill hit $10,474, Paul dropped her claim because she could no longer afford to pursue it.
In another case, the Malkani family of Austin, Texas, had to take its dispute with a homebuilder to arbitration. The Malkanis were charged $3,500 as an initial administrative fee, followed by $1,375 in other miscellaneous fees. In the end, the family was awarded $18,819; however, the builder didn't have to pay the family's attorney fees or administrative fees. The arbitration fees cost the family $13,069 - not counting attorney fees.
The report also found that:
§ Arbitration costs are high under pre-dispute arbitration clauses because there is no price competition among providers. Clauses in contracts lock consumers in to a specific arbitration firm. Companies that want to use arbitration to prevent consumers and others from asserting their legal rights have no incentive to arrange low-cost arbitration. Instead, it is to their advantage to seek out the most expensive providers.
§ Arbitration costs will probably always be higher than court costs because the expenses of a private legal system are so substantial. The same support personnel that expedite cases at a courthouse, such as file clerks and court administrators, are also needed to manage arbitration cases. While it costs the Clerk of the Circuit Court of Cook County an average of $44.20 to administer a case, AAA's administrative cost per case averages $340.63, about 700 percent more.
§ Arbitration saddles claimants with a plethora of extra fees that they would not be charged had they gone to court. For example, the NAF charges $75 to issue a subpoena, which is provided for free by courts. The NAF also charges fees for discovery requests ($150) and continuances ($100), which are also free in court.
"We challenge Corporate America and the arbitration apologists to rebut this report," said Jackson Williams, legislative counsel for Public Citizen, who prepared the report. "Show us your substantiation for the claim that arbitration is cheaper."
The executive summary of the report is available online at
Berkeley Readies A Boycott Of Israelis And Palestinians Divestiture
Seen As Way To Bring Peace
by Chuck Squatriglia, San Francisco Chronicle Staff Writer, April 23, 2002
Having led the nation in divesting from South Africa and helping bring an end to apartheid, the Berkeley City Council tonight will consider clearing the city's portfolio of investments in Israel and Palestinian territory in an attempt to bring peace to the Middle East.
The ambitious plan also calls on City Hall to boycott firms doing business with Israel and the Palestinians and would prohibit the purchase of products made there. Backers believe it would make Berkeley the first city to boycott the two sides.
No one backing the proposal by the city's Peace and Justice Commission believes that Berkeley alone can end the violence. But they hope other cities will follow its lead, creating economic incentive for Jews and Palestinians to make peace.
"Berkeley is a small city, and its economy is not going to make or break the Middle East," said commissioner Steve Freedkin. "But if others follow suit,
it could have quite an impact."
The true effect of the measure remains to be seen, as no one at City Hall had a clue yesterday how much money Berkeley has invested in the region, nor did anyone know how many contracts it holds with companies doing business with Israel and the Palestinians.
City Manager Weldon Rucker is urging the council to delay action until May 28 so he can answer those questions. He also wonders how the measure would be adopted and enforced.
"Managing this thing would be a major undertaking," said Fred Medrano, who supervises the Peace and Justice Commission for Rucker. "The finance department is real concerned with its ability to implement this."
If the measure is approved, every city investment and contract would have to be reviewed. The effect could be huge because some of the nation's biggest companies, including General Electric, Hewlett-Packard, Cisco Systems, AOL Time Warner and Microsoft do business in Israel.
While there is mounting pressure on many college campuses -- including the University of California at Berkeley -- for universities to divest from Israel,
Berkeley is unique in making targets of both Israel and the Palestinians.
"We feel that all parties need to respect human rights and provide for peace and security in the region," Freedkin said.
Although the council probably will delay deciding on divestiture, it is expected to embrace the commission's more mainstream proposals, including "supporting all efforts by individuals and groups toward a just peace in Israel and Palestine."
Berkeley has long used its pocketbook to influence global affairs with varying degrees of success. Its pioneering decision to divest from South Africa in 1979 was widely seen as a turning point in the effort to end apartheid.
But the U.S. Supreme Court two years ago unanimously barred Berkeley and other cities from boycotting Burma because the United States must speak with one voice in foreign affairs.
In an embarrassing turn of events, the city in 1997 had to scramble to find a gasoline supplier when it decided to boycott Nigeria, precluding it from dealing with most petroleum firms.
email Chuck Squatriglia: mailto:firstname.lastname@example.org
City government using divestiture to bring peace in Israel
Having led the nation in divesting from South Africa and helping bring an end to apartheid, the Berkeley City Council [may clear] the city's portfolio of investments in Israel and Palestinian territory in an attempt to bring peace to the Middle East.
The ambitious plan also calls on City Hall to boycott firms doing business with Israel and the Palestinians and would prohibit the purchase of products made there. Backers believe it would make Berkeley the first city to boycott the two sides.
To link to the full feature, go to:
Euros, Americans Show Distinct Sympathies In Mideast Conflict
In the dispute between Israel and the Palestinians, which side do you sympathize with more?
United States: Israel 41% Palestinians 13% Germany: Israel 24% Palestinians 26% France: Israel 19% Palestinians 36% Italy: Israel 14% Palestinians 30% United Kingdom: Israel 17% Palestinians 28%
*Source: International Herald Tribune & Council on Foreign Relations
Globalization: From Conquistadors To Corporations
by Richard Parker
The period today that we vainly imagine is so new and revolutionary is only the latest chapter in a fourth or fifth stage of globalization, a wave that began in Western Europe 500 years ago.
There are, of course, undeniably "new" things about the world we live in today. Yet what so many briskly talk about as characteristically modern - as signs of our "new global era" - in fact rest on long-established patterns and achievements. Even those larger features we think are most distinct about our own global era today - the immense trade flows, or the instant information of the worldwide Internet, or the electronic financial markets that send billions coursing around the globe - all have a longer and deeper heritage than most of us understand.
To read the entire feature as it appears in the May-June 2002 edition of Sojourners magazine, link to:
MAYDAY SPECIAL! Davis-Besse #9 -- May 1st, 2002
The latest news, views, and important correspondence.
by Russell D. Hoffman
(1): Industry Funded Study Says Shutting NPP Would Raise Costs -- but EXPERIENCE suggests otherwise (Comments by Raymond Shadis + NY Times article by Winnie Hu, April 30th, 2002)
(2): Nukes close, infant deaths go down - Tooth Fairy Project - NY Times April 30th, 2002
(3) Throwing good money after bad: Davis-Besse to be reopened at any cost: Reactor's restart is further delayed (John Funk, Plain Dealer Reporter, April 25th, 2002)
(4) Their fate WILL BE OUR FATE: Radioactive dust is escaping from the Chernobyl sarcophagus (BBC news, April 26th, 2002)
(5) Spent nuclear fuel is a danger to everyone: The Yucca Mountain Plan by Bob Nichols (forwarded to rdh by Richard Geary)
(6) The Yucca Truck from GM (Gigantic Motors) (also by Bob Nichols and forwarded by Richard Geary)
(7) Spent Fuel Train boarded by escaped convicts in North Carolina! (from NC WARN via Molly Johnson)
(8) A look back at the NY Times' Week In Review on Davis-Besse, March 31st, 2002
(9) Correspondence between Paul Lavely, Director ORS, UC Berkeley (and a former NRC inspector) and rdh regarding dangers of "reracking" spent fuel
(10) New book by Dr. Helen Caldicott / PSR nuke conference in LA June 2nd, 2002
(11) Contact information for the author of this document.
Prior documents in this series on the near-catastrophe at Davis-Besse can be accessed online here:
Arafat And Jenin / What Sort Of Deal Did Bush Strike?
Editorial, The Minneapolis Star Tribune, April 30, 2002
President Bush and his foreign-policy advisers moved with great creativity to disarm one of the most pressing issues in the Middle East: isolation of Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat in his Ramallah compound. We'd be applauding full force if it didn't appear that Bush made a bad deal to secure Arafat's release.
Under the agreement, British and American guards will secure six Palestinians, now in Arafat's compound, who are wanted by Israel. Arafat then will be free to move around the West Bank and Gaza Strip. This arrangement represents a significant concession by Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon. Heretofore, a major goal of encircling Arafat's compound with tanks was to isolate him. That such isolation contradicted Israeli calls for Arafat to combat terrorism always was clear to anyone with any emotional distance from this conflict. With Arafat's new ability to move about, calls for him to smash the remaining "infrastructure of terror" will take on new force. Surely he can now see how severely his embrace of violence has backfired for the Palestinian people. Perhaps a visit to Jenin can bring that message home to him.
But it is on the issue of Jenin that this deal smells. Both American and Israeli officials said Monday that in return for freeing Arafat, the United States agreed to stand by Israel in its high-stakes confrontation with the U.N. Security Council and U.N. Secretary-General Kofi Annan.
The Security Council has authorized, and Annan seeks to dispatch, a U.N. fact-finding team to evaluate what happened in Jenin. The Israelis say their soldiers carefully safeguarded civilians. The Palestinians say the Israelis massacred hundreds. That would seem a situation tailor-made for independent fact-finding, and Annan assembled an impressive team: Martti Ahtisaari, former president of Finland; Cornelio Sommaruga, former president of the International Red Cross, and Sadako Ogata, former U.N. high commissioner for refugees, plus several military advisers.
For 10 days now, however, the Israeli government has prevented the fact-finding team from getting started. Coming on top of the strict control Israel exercised over Jenin during and for five days following the fighting, Israeli delaying tactics have a growing number of people asking whether it is trying to hide something.
That question is additionally informed by condemnations of Israeli actions in Jenin coming from Amnesty International and other human-rights organizations that have visited the camp. London's Independent newspaper also has done credible reporting from Jenin suggesting that while "massacre" may be too strong a word, many civilians were killed, including women, children and the elderly, in situations that cannot be justified as "collateral damage." Of the 50 dead Palestinians identified at the time the Independent was doing its reporting from Jenin, almost half were civilian. In five days of interviews, the Independent constructed horrific individual tales of nurses, disabled people and unarmed schoolboys shot dead by Israeli forces.
Neither Israel nor the United States has any legal authority to interfere with the fact-finding mission. By trying to cooperate with Israel, Annan has put his own credibility on the line. With or without Israel's cooperation, very soon the mission must begin, in service to the truth of what really happened in Jenin.
Please contact your political representatives immediately and ask them to urge a cessation of hostilities on both sides. Also encourage them to urge the use of international observers, many of whom are currently in Ramallah and the surrounding area.
You can easily find how to contact for your own U.S. Senators and Congresspeople at:
Senate delivers 88-11 final vote on Democratic energy bill
"There's something in this bill to disappoint everybody."
The following is from Environment & Energy Daily (April 26, 2002)
A process triggered nearly a year ago when the Bush administration dropped an energy package heavy on production incentives climaxed in the Senate last night when the upper chamber voted 88-11 to approve a comprehensive energy bill, S. 517, after more than six weeks of debate. Republicans and Democrats alike immediately claimed victory, while environmentalists and many industry groups walked away feeling slighted by a bill many regard as watered down to a fault.
A hectic final day of floor maneuvering produced the conclusive margin, but not before the Senate took up a series of last-minute amendments. In a rush of activity, the Senate conducted eight roll-call votes Thursday, resulting in the acceptance of language softening climate change provisions, the dilution of air-conditioning efficiency standards and the defeat of an attempt to strip tax incentives for hybrid-electric vehicles.
The Senate also beat back an attempt to include offsets for $15 billion in energy tax credits and rejected Sen. Tom Carper's (D-Del.) modest fuel-economy transportation boost.
At the end of the day, Republicans and Democrats were quick to take the credit, though Democrats traditionally thought of as representing the more liberal element of the party were clearly unhappy with the bill on several counts. Among those voting "no" Thursday were Democratic Sens. Barbara Boxer (Calif.), Dianne Feinstein (Calif.), Hillary Clinton (N.Y.), Charles Schumer (N.Y.) and Edward Kennedy (Mass.), all of whom cited either environmentalist opposition or dissatisfaction with S. 517's ethanol mandate.
"No bill is a lot better than a bad bill," Schumer said.
Environmental Defense's Legislative Director Elizabeth Thompson expressed similar thoughts. "This debate has been more painful than a root canal," she said.
Also voting "no" were Sens. John McCain (R-Ariz.), Phil Gramm (R-Texas), Russ Feingold (D-Wis.), Bob Graham (D-Fla.), Jack Reed (D-R.I.) and Jon Kyl (R-Ariz.).
In the bill's defense, Senate Energy Committee Chairman Jeff Bingaman (D-N.M.) and Senate Majority Whip Harry Reid (D-Nev.) described the dissatisfaction from green groups and industry as the bill's greatest strength. "There's something in this bill to disappoint everybody," Bingaman said.
The victors on the GOP side of the aisle, meantime, credited themselves for fixing a "broken" Democratic bill on the Senate floor. "Every step of the way, Republicans have successfully improved the Senate energy bill," Sen. Frank Murkowski (R-Alaska) said. "Amendment after amendment was approved, leaving this legislation changed for the better."
Passage of the legislation now sets up an election-year House-Senate conference committee on energy that may deteriorate into a pitched battle given the vast differences between S. 517 and the House-passed bill, H.R. 4.
See the following URL address for another review of the Senate Energy Bill from the American Council for an Energy-Efficient Economy:
Senate Takes Small Steps Towards Energy Efficiency
Canada Could Prevent Weaponization Of Space
No other country is in a better position to initiate international action
by James George, Dr. Carol Rosin, Alfred Webre, Toronto Star, April 30, 2002
ON JUNE 13, 2002, the Anti-Ballistic Missile (ABM) Treaty will expire following its unilateral termination by the Bush administration, leaving an international legal void that will allow the weaponization of space. The termination of the ABM Treaty will permit research, development, testing, manufacturing, production and deployment of space-based weapons, and space-based components of the U.S. National Missile Defense System to go forward, instigating a dangerous, costly, and destabilizing arms race in space, impacting all of us.
Russian Minister of Defence Sergei Ivanov has already suggested that if the U.S. proceeds, Russia could deploy its own response to the U.S. space-based weapons system. The stated objectives of the United States Space Command in "Vision For 2020" are to seize the strategic high ground of space to "dominate and control." There is a rapidly growing worldwide movement to stop this potentially catastrophic arms race in space. This must be stopped before it begins - this year.
As seen from space, Canada lies between Russia and the United States, and, geography aside, no country is in a better position to initiate international action. Since 1982, Canada has led the growing United Nations lobby opposing weapons in space. Deputy Prime Minister John Manley stated on July 26, 2001: "Canada would be very happy to launch an initiative to see an international convention preventing the weaponization of space."
With the strong support of U.N. Secretary-General Kofi Annan, the U.N. General Assembly last Nov. 29 voted 156-0 to prevent an arms race in space. Almost everyone wants it. On Sept. 28, 2001, Russian Foreign Minister Igor Ivanov had invited "the world community to start working out a comprehensive agreement on the non-deployment of weapons in outer space." At the U.N. Conference on Disarmament in June last year, China had taken a similar position. But neither Russia nor China will initiate binding action while the United States is unbound. If Canada does not act now, who will? If we do, we will generate far more support and respect than we gathered over our land mines initiative. We could turn the tide that will lift all ships and preserve space as a weapons-free commons.
In the United States, polls confirm that this result is what the great majority of Americans want. When there is almost unanimous international pressure, as well as very strong domestic support, the United States will change course. In the next few days, every head of government will be receiving, from the Institute for Cooperation in Space, a Space Preservation Treaty, which is the international companion to the legislation introduced as H.R. 3616, the Space Preservation Act of 2002, in the United States House of Representatives on Jan. 23, 2002. The act requires the U.S. to implement an international treaty that will ban all space-based weapons and the use of weapons to destroy or damage objects in space that are in orbit to preserve the cooperative, peaceful uses of space for the benefit of all humankind.
The Space Preservation Treaty is an effective and verifiable world agreement that also will implement a ban on space-based weapons. Implement a ban on the use of weapons to destroy or damage objects in space that are in orbit. Immediately order the permanent termination of research and development, testing, manufacturing, production and deployment of all space-based weapons. The treaty allows for space exploration, research, development, testing, manufacturing, production and deployment of civil, commercial and defence activities in space that are not related to space-based weapons. Under the terms of the treaty, each nation having signed the treaty shall immediately work toward supporting other non-signatory nations in signing, ratifying and implementing the treaty.
Once three nations sign it and deposit it at the United Nations, Annan is required to report publicly to the U.N. General Assembly every 90 days on the progress of implementing a permanent ban on space-based weapons and on the progress of signing and ratifying the treaty.
Once 20 nations have signed and ratified the Space Preservation Treaty, it will go into force; the outer space peacekeeping agency will be funded and empowered to monitor and enforce the ban on space-based weapons.
Canada's signing of the treaty will encourage Russia to maintain Russia's and China's longstanding commitment to keep space weapons-free and to sign the treaty as well. Together, Canada, Russia, China, and many other nations already on record as supporting such a treaty, can lead the nations of the world in signing the Space Preservation Treaty.
We can and must stop the weaponization of space before it occurs. The signing of the Space Preservation Treaty will put needed pressure on the U.S. Congress and administration to sign this verifiable and enforceable agreement. This permanent ban on all space-based weapons, worldwide, will transform the war industry into a space industry that will stimulate the creation of clean and safe technologies, products and services, including new jobs and training programs, that can and will be applied directly to solving urgent human and environmental problems.
What can an ordinary citizen do? Contact Prime Minister Jean Chrétien, Deputy Prime Minister John Manley and Foreign Minister Bill Graham immediately. Tell them to lead the way, to be the first to say that they will sign the Space Preservation Treaty. This is the greatest challenge of our generation.
James George is a retired Canadian diplomat who served at the United Nations.
Dr. Carol Rosin is president of The Institute for Cooperation in Space (ICIS), a non-profit educational foundation.
Alfred Lambremont Webre is an ICIS international director.
The ICIS Web site: http://www.peaceinspace.com
From Rio To Johannesburg: Whats Good For Women Is Good For The World
by Danielle Nierenberg, The Worldwatch Institute
WASHINGTON, DC April 30, 2002 - Throughout the 1990s, several major United Nations conferences stressed the importance of including women in sustainable development. But despite these commitments on paper, there has been far too little action. True and meaningful equity between women and men will take much more than inserting a paragraph here and there in the documents issued at a United Nations convention or in national laws. Gender myopiaor blindness to womens issuesstill distorts environmental, economic, and health policies. Today, a full decade after the United Nations Conference on Environment and Development in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, governments, development agencies, and even some NGOs remain resolutely patriarchal. Despite the widespread belief that women have come a long way in achieving improved social and economic status, they continue to face many of the same obstacles they did ten years ago. And in some cases, these problems have become even more formidable.
At the Rio Earth Summit in 1992, women came together as never before and presented their vision of a world in which all women are educated, free from violence, and able to make their own reproductive choices. As a result of this mobilization, the Rio Declaration and Agenda 21 called for womens full participation in sustainable development and improvement in their status in all levels of society.
The work that began at the Earth Summit did not end in Rio. Because of the efforts made by womens NGOs there, womens health and human rights have made their way into the international agenda. Rios Agenda 21 set the stage for the International Conference on Population and Development (ICPD) in Cairo, Egypt in 1994. The Cairo Programme of Action reaffirmed womens rights and their equal participation in all spheres of society as a prerequisite for better human development.
The declarations and promises made at these conferences were important first steps to improving womens lives, but much remains to be done. Consider the following statistics reported by the United Nations and other health and environment organizations:
More than 350 million women worldwide lack any access to family planning services.
Over 500,000 women die each year from complications during pregnancy and childbirth.
Population growth is still rapid in the worlds 48 least developed nationsroughly 80 million people are added to the planet each year. Many of them are born in places where lack of infrastructure and public services shorten the lives of both the young and old.
The largest generation of young people in human history1.7 billion people aged 10 to 24are about to enter their reproductive years. This wave of youth is occurring at the same time that international funding, especially from the United States, for family planning and contraceptives has been cut. As a result, many of the worlds young are left without guidance and the tools to protect themselves from unwanted pregnancies, violent relationships, and sexually transmitted diseases.
In most of the developing world, the majority of new HIV/AIDS infections occur in young people, with young women especially vulnerable. In sub-Saharan Africa, where AIDS is spreading faster than anywhere else on the planet, women account for 55 percent of all new cases of HIV. Most of these women lack the sexual autonomy to refuse sex or to demand that their partners use condoms.
Gender based violence takes many forms and plagues girls and women throughout their lives. One in three women worldwide has been beaten, coerced into sex, or otherwise abused in her lifetime. An estimated sixty million girls are considered missing in China and India because of sex-selective abortions, female infanticide, and neglect. More than 2 million women undergo female genital mutilation each year, which leads to a lifetime of suffering and psychological trauma.
Despite advances in education for both girls and boys, two thirds of the worlds 876 million illiterate people are female. In 22 African and nine Asian nations, school enrollment for girls is less than 80 percent that for boys, and only about half of girls in the least developed nations stay in school after grade 4.
In most parts of the world, single-mother households are home to a disproportionate number of the children living in poverty.
Globally women earn on average two thirds to three fourths as much as men for the same work. In addition, women perform most of the invisible workhousekeeping, cooking, collecting firewood and water, childcare, gardeningthat sustains households from day to day. Most official economic accounting measures do not account for the value of invisible work. If these services were counted, they would be valued at about one-third of the worlds economic production.
Women are vastly underrepresented in all levels of government and in international institutions. In 2000, women held only 14 percent of seats in parliaments worldwide. At the United Nations, women made up only 21 percent of senior management in 1999.
The World Summit on Sustainable Development in South Africa is an opportunity for world leaders to eliminate these inequities by recognizing that what is good for women is good for the world. In addition to enhancing human rights, improving womens lives has a whole range of side benefitsfrom lower population growth and reduced child mortality to better management of natural resources and healthier economies. For real change on gender and population to take place, nations should take the following steps:
Meet or beat the goals set out at Cairo and remove barriers to comprehensive and reproductive health care at the national level. At Cairo, governments agreed to spend $17 billion a year (in 1993 dollars) by 2000 to achieve universal access to basic reproductive health services for all by 2015. Ironically, the worlds poorest nations are closer to meeting the goals of Cairo than the worlds wealthy countriesspending close to 70 percent of their committed levels. Wealthy nations, in contrast, have yet to reach even 40 percent of their Cairo commitment.
Lobby the United States to remove the barriers to funding for international family planning. The global gag rule, which prohibits U.S. funding to international agencies that even talk about abortion with their clients, should be immediately rescinded by President Bush. The administration should also deliver on its promise of $34 million in funding for the United Nations Population Fund.
Increase the number of women holding public office. The Womens Environment and Development Organization (WEDO) and other groups have called for 50/50 representation at all levelsfrom local village councils to the highest offices in national parliaments. In South Africawhere a quota system was initiated in 2000women are steadily making their way into seats in the National Assembly and now hold 8 of the 29 cabinet positions.
Remove obstacles that prevent girls from going to and staying in school. Study after study shows that girls with more years of education not only have fewer children, but their health and the health of the children they do have is much better. In Egypt, only 5 percent of women who stayed in school past the primary level had children while still in their teens, while over half of women without schooling became teenage mothers.
Educate men and boys about the importance of gender equity and shared responsibility. Stereotypes and cultural expectations about masculinity prevent many men from taking responsibility for reproductive health and childcare. Some feel threatened by womens independence and express their manhood through violence or withholding money from their families. As men's roles change, the effort to include them in family planning and reproductive health is gaining momentum. In Nicaragua, workshops for unlearning machismo and improving communication skills have led to less domestic violence. And in Mali, male volunteers have been trained to provide information about reproductive health and family planning and distribute contraceptives.
Increase youth awareness about reproductive health issues, including HIV/AIDS and other sexually transmitted diseases. In places like Uganda and Senegal, government commitment to AIDS education at both the national and village level has helped bring the epidemic in those nations under control. In Mexico, peer counseling programs allow young people to talk to and be educated by their peers about sexual health, improving communication between generations about sexuality and family planning.
Enact and enforce strong laws that protect women from violence. Many national laws entrap women in violent relationships or make it impossible to prosecute men for beatings, rape, and other forms of abuse. Some countriesMexico and the Philippines, for instancehave revised their rape laws, making the act a crime against ones freedom. In Belize and Malaysia, laws and penal codes have been reformed to criminalize domestic violence.
Report: Half Of Americans Breathing Bad Air
Worst 3: Los Angeles, Bakersfield and Fresno, California
by Natalie Pawelski, CNN Environment Correspondent, May 1, 2002
NEW YORK (CNN) -- About half of all Americans live in areas where levels of smog are unhealthy, the American Lung Association said in a report released Wednesday.
The annual "state of the air" study, which crunches government data on ozone, smog's main ingredient, finds more than 142 million Americans live in areas where ozone levels could endanger people's health.
"We have found there actually has been an increase of 18 percent in the areas that are rated "F" -- which is unhealthy, and that's a result of failure to take action over the last several years," said John Kirkwood, a spokesman for the group.
According to the report, the smoggiest metropolitan areas are:
1. Los Angeles, California
2. Bakersfield, California
3. Fresno, California
4. Visalia, California
5. Houston, Texas
6. Atlanta, Georgia
7. Merced, California
8. Knoxville, Tennessee
9. Charlotte, North Carolina
10. Sacramento, California
Cities that earned an "A" for ozone pollution --meaning they had no smog alerts from 1998 through 2000 -- are Bellingham, Washington; Colorado Springs, Colorado; Duluth, Minnesota; Fargo, North Dakota; Flagstaff, Arizona; Honolulu; Laredo, Texas; Lincoln, Nebraska; McAllen, Texas; Salinas, California; and Spokane, Washington.
Ozone, the main ingredient in smog, is formed when heat and sunlight warm nitrogen oxides and hydrocarbons from tailpipes and smokestacks.
According to the association, ozone is not just a nuisance, it's a health hazard, and people with asthma and other respiratory problems, children and the elderly are especially vulnerable.
"Ozone is an irritant. It's like getting a sunburn on your airways," Kirkwood said.
LIES, DAMN LIES, AND ECONOMIC ANALYSES
In an unprecedented act, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers announced yesterday that it would suspend work on about 150 congressionally approved water projects to review the economics used to justify them. The move follows last week's decision by the Corps to suspend its deepening of the Delaware River to review the economic analysis, one of many that had come under increasingly vocal criticism from within and without the Bush administration. Now billions of dollars worth of other projects -- as much as a fifth of the Corps workload -- will come to a halt, in some cases indefinitely. The work suspension was met with delight by environmentalists and fiscal conservatives, both of whom have long accused the Corps of justifying many of its projects by overstating the economic benefits. Some critics, however, feared the suspension would take the place of more lasting action on the part of Congress to rein in the Corps.
straight to the source: Washington Post, Michael Grunwald, 01 May 2002 <http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/articles/A11533-2002Apr30.html>
GOODBYE, FAREWELL, SO LUNG
About one in two Americans breathe unhealthy air, according to a report released today by the American Lung Association. In real numbers, that translates to more than 142 million Americans living in areas where the U.S. EPA has found smog levels to be unhealthful. A lot of those areas are in -- you guessed it -- California: Six of the nation's 10 smoggiest counties are in the Golden State, while the others are in Texas, Georgia, Tennessee, and North Carolina. If you're looking to coddle your lungs, you could try moving to (among other cities) Spokane, Wash., Colorado Springs, Colo., Duluth, Minn., Flagstaff, Ariz., Lincoln, Neb., or Honolulu, Hawaii, all of which earned high marks from the American Lung Association. Or you could try pressuring the U.S. government to enforce pollution standards: The report blamed the widespread poor air quality on industry pressure and the resultant failure of the feds to stand by clean air rules. The U.S. EPA estimates that enforcing existing clean air standards would prevent 15,000 premature deaths, 350,000 asthma cases, and 1 million childhood respiratory problems per year.
straight to the source: CNN.com, Natalie Pawelski, 01 May 2002 <http://www.cnn.com/2002/TECH/science/05/01/bad.air/index.html>
straight to the source: Planet Ark, Reuters, 01 May 2002 <http://www.planetark.org/dailynewsstory.cfm/newsid/15751/story.htm>
do good: Take action to preserve the Clean Air Act <http://www.gristmagazine.com/dogood/air.asp?source=daily#grandfather>
MIDDLE EARTH IN THE BALANCE
Seems like everyone but the U.S. is working on a way to reduce emissions of carbon dioxide and other gases that fuel global warming. Yesterday, the New Zealand government proposed levying a tax of about $10 per ton of CO2 to meet the targets of the Kyoto Protocol on climate change. The tax would go into effect in 2007 and would help the nation reach its goal of reducing greenhouse gas emissions to 1990 levels by 2012. According to government figures, the tax would raise the price of gasoline by 6 percent, diesel by 12 percent, electricity by 9 percent, natural gas by 8 percent, and coal by 19 percent. About half of New Zealand's greenhouse gas emissions come from the more than 50 million cattle and sheep raised in the country, but farmers would be exempt from the tax. The government is accepting public comments on the proposal and expects to make a final decision by August, when it is slated to ratify Kyoto.
straight to the source: Planet Ark, Reuters, 01 May 2002 <http://www.planetark.org/dailynewsstory.cfm/newsid/15739/story.htm>
do good: Take action to tell Bush to tackle global warming <http://www.gristmagazine.com/dogood/climate.asp?source=daily#kyoto>
Central Florida's main source of drinking water is being contaminated by a toxic leak from one of the nation's oldest Superfund sites, according to federal authorities. Ten years ago, the U.S. EPA ended the cleanup of a Tower Chemical plant that manufactured pesticides for the citrus industry; now, an unidentified pesticide-related chemical has seeped from a sinkhole below the plant's former wastewater pond and into the Floridan Aquifer, 90 feet underground. EPA officials don't know how far the chemical could spread (so far, it seems to have remained within 200 feet of the sinkhole) or how dangerous it may be. In light of the contamination, which was discovered during routine checks of wells on the Tower property, the EPA could decide to resume the terminated, $6 million cleanup of the area.
straight to the source: Orlando Sentinel, Kevin Spear, 01 May 2002 <http://www.orlandosentinel.com/news/custom/science/orl-asectower01050102may01.story?coll=orl%2Dhome%2Dheadlines>
do good: Take action to stand up for Superfund <http://www.gristmagazine.com/dogood/toxic.asp?source=daily#superfund>
Responding to criticism that his government has overseen the widespread destruction of forests, Kenyan President Daniel arap Moi announced yesterday a plan to strictly enforce bans on timber cutting. Moi also announced that he would seek support from the U.N. Development Programme for a campaign to plant trees. Sounds good, but Moi has not historically been a friend to environmentalists, who have accused him of parceling out sections of the nation's dwindling forests in exchange for votes and political support. Moi banned all such land allocations in February, following the publication in national newspapers of official documents showing that 412,700 acres of state-owned land had been granted to public officials (including none other than Moi himself).
straight to the source: Planet Ark, Reuters, 01 May 2002 <http://www.planetark.org/dailynewsstory.cfm/newsid/15750/story.htm>
WORLD PRESS FREEDOM DAY, MAY 3
What are the greatest obstacles to press freedom? From violence against journalists to corporate censorship, this special feature includes commentary from Vaclav Havel, Geoffrey Nyarota and MediaChannel advisors and readers worldwide.
MEDIA EMPIRES RISE AND FALL
Critical journalists expose Clear Channel's "dirty tricks," activists challenge the AT&T-Comcast merger and Danny Schechter on the tribulations of the media moguls.
TURN BEAUTY INSIDE OUT!
On May 15, U.S. girls will celebrate media that promote a healthy body image and expand the definitions of beauty.
LEFT BEHIND BY "PARACHUTE JOURNALISTS"
Journalists often swoop in to foreign countries, file stories and fly out - while putting their sources and contacts at risk.
TERRIBLE TALES: THE MEDIA AND THE MIDEAST
MediaChannel's ongoing coverage includes new features on:
* An Israeli reporter's views on West Bank access, Indymedia & journalistic legitimacy
* Report: Attacks on journalists during the Intifada
A collaboration between MediaChannel and Alternet exploring the currents, crises and cultures of American media. Featured this week:
* Norman Solomon: The Fallow Triumph of Public Radio.
* (Mis)Reading The Book On Sex And Kids
* Hollywood Edits Out The Twin Towers .And much more...
MediaChannel's international, biweekly, multimedia magazine
* The Normalization Of Paranoia
* China's Press: Watchdogs Or Lapdogs?
* "How Hip Hop Destroyed Black Power" And much, much more...
WHAT YOU'RE SAYING: VOICES FROM OUR FORUM
* "What types of media do you think would be most effective in changing the mind of the mainstream US?"
* "Since I moved to the US, I've encountered the stereotype of Hispanic life...."
MediaChannel Special Reports on:
* U.S. Media Ownership
* Covering The Environment
* Ethical Conflict Reporting
Tell Congress not to let the nuclear industry dictate dangerous radioactive waste policy!
Go to www.yuccapetition.org and sign our online petition opposing the Yucca Mountain nuclear dump.
Please forward this message to your friends, family, and colleagues!
The nuclear industry and its friends in government want to transport 77,000 tons of deadly high-level radioactive waste through communities in 44 states to a dump at Yucca Mountain, Nevada. Yucca Mountain is in an earthquake zone and directly above the only source of drinking water for local residents. The land is claimed by the Western Shoshone Nation under the 1863 Treaty of Ruby Valley. In February 2002, the Bush administration officially recommended that the Yucca Mountain dump be built. The Governor of Nevada vetoed this recommendation but resolutions have been introduced in Congress to override Nevada's veto. A vote is expected later this spring. For more information visit www.atomicroadshow.org.
Lisa Gue, Policy Analyst
Public Citizen's Critical Mass Energy & Environment Program
215 Pennsylvania Ave. SE
Washington, DC 20003
ph: (202) 454-5130; fax: (202) 547-7392
Protest The Nomination Of Bush And Blair For Nobel Peace Prize
TAKE ACTION! Protest the Nomination of George W. Bush and Tony Blair for Nobel Peace Prize
They say that satire died when Henry Kissinger was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize, but if a Right-wing Norwegian MP has his way, the Nobel committee will be spitting on its grave.
Harald Tom Nesvik, a member of the Norwegian Parliament from the Right-wing Party of Progress, has nominated U.K. Prime Minister Tony Blair and U.S. President George W. Bush for the Nobel Peace Prize for "decisive action against terrorism, something I believe in the future will be the greatest threat to peace." According to the provisions of Nobel, the winner of the Nobel Peace Prize "shall have done the most or the best work for fraternity between nations, for the abolition or reduction of standing armies and for the holding and promotion of peace congresses."
Tony Blair has ordered more military actions than any U.K. leader since World War II, with at least one military action every year since 1998. George W. Bush has urged budgets massively increasing the size and funding of the U.S. standing military, continued and deepened U.S. military aid for the on-going civil war in Colombia and Israeli military occupation of Palestine, and initiated a war not only against Afghanistan,but an undefined, open-ended "War on Terrorism" which administration officials daily threaten to expand to other nations such Iran, North Korea, and Iraq. Vice President Dick Cheney told the Washington Post that the campaign of warfare the President has launched "may never end. At least, not in our lifetimes." Both Bush and Blair have refused to work with multilateral consultation and diplomacy through peace congresses, with Bush's refusal to secure UN Security Council approval before initiating the war in Afghanistan, and Blair's refusal to place the British troops occupying Sierra Leone under the command of United Nations Peacekeeping forces.
Urge the Nobel Institute to reject the nomination of Tony Blair and George W. Bush. Reckless and ever-expanding pursuit of war is not peace, and awarding the Peace Prize for massive world-wide military campaigns would be a slap in the face of peace and justice activists world wide.
To take action, go to:
For more Bush and Blair's nomination for the Nobel Peace Prize, see:
"If you judge people,
you have no time to love them."
Don't Dump Waste In Our Waters
The Bush administration is about to change a Clean Water Act rule to give the Army Corps of Engineers the ability to issue permits allowing industries to dump waste materials into our nation's waters, destroying many streams, rivers, lakes, and wetlands.
The rule change is motivated by the Bush administration's desire to promote mountaintop removal coal mining, where coal companies blow the tops off of mountains to reach seams of coal, then dump millions of tons of waste into nearby streams, burying them and killing all the animals and plants that live there. The new regulation would also allow hardrock mining operations and other industries to bury waters with their wastes.
Urge the President to uphold the Clean Water Act's goal of protecting our nation's waters and stop this rule change.
One out of every five prescription drugs with dangerous side effects arrives on the market without warnings, according to a study set to appear in Wednesday's issue of the Journal of the American Medical Association. Of drugs with life-threatening side effects, doctors receive warnings in only half the cases even seven years later, the study reports.
UTNE WEB WATCH
The Best of the Alternative Web
THE EDUCATION OF MARY ROBINSON
by Kareem Fahim, Village Voice
Mary Robinson's announcement last month that she would leave her post as the UN's High Commissioner for Human Rights in September fueled speculation that Bush administration criticism of her role in last year's World Racism Conference may have influenced her decision. In this interview with the Village Voice, Robinson explains the real factors in her move.
ASK UMBRA: ASTUTE ADVICE ON ALL THINGS ENVIRONMENTAL
by Umbra Fisk, Grist magazine
Looking for sage advice on environmental issues? Look no further, from questions about the chemical trails jets leave behind to the health concerns related to farm-raised fish, Umbra will find the answer.
by Aaron Paulson, World Hum
One man's experience with living in Japan exposed him to a strange gender-role reversal--at least in the Japanese sense.
Links to the above articles: http://www.utne.com/webwatch
ENVIRONMENT NEWS SERVICE
WESTERN GOVERNORS SEEK CONSENSUS ON ENVIRO ISSUES
SALT LAKE CITY, Utah, April 30, 2002 (ENS) - Western governors gathered last week in Utah to develop recommendations on a variety of environmental issues, including conserving open lands, reducing wildfire risks and restoring forest ecosystem health.
BUSH CHOKES REACTIVE CHEMICAL REGULATIONS
WASHINGTON DC, April 30, 2002 (ENS) - Evidence that the Bush administration killed a proposal to tighten regulation of a group of hazardous chemicals is presented in a new report by the Center for Public Integrity, a Washington, DC based nonprofit group of investigative journalists.
WYOMING COALBED METHANE LEASES RULED ILLEGAL
CHEYENNE, Wyoming, April 30, 2002 (ENS) - The Interior Department's board of land appeals has ruled that three coalbed methane leases located on 2,500 acres in Wyoming are illegal. The ruling calls into question a number of other methane leases in the Powder River Basin region, and threatens Bush administration plans to increase domestic methane production.
ECUADOR'S DEVASTATING RAINS CLAIM 28 LIVES
QUITO, Ecuador, April 30, 2002 (ENS) - Two Quito residents were killed over the weekend, two are missing and three were wounded, as landslides triggered by heavy rains buried roads and homes across the mountainous province of Pichincha.
PARCHED UZBEKISTAN COVETS RUSSIAN RIVER WATERS
By Karina Insarova
NUKUS, Uzbekistan, April 30, 2002 (ENS) - Russia is not expected to approve an Uzbek plan to divert water from Siberia to the cotton fields of the Central Asian state, where drought and a population surge threaten the entire region with catastrophe.
ENVIRONMENT NEWS SERVICE AMERISCAN: APRIL 30, 2002
Army Corps to Review 150 Water Projects
Clinton Calls Yucca Mountain Nuclear Dump a Mistake
Energy Task Force Director Subpoenaed
Conservation Groups Sue Over Ballast Water Dumping
Students Demand University Action on Climate Change
Power Plant Emissions Could Be Cut Affordably
California Groups Can Certify Organic Farmers
Yellow Perch Stocked, Studied in Maryland
9-11 Was Excuse To Go To 'War'
by Dick Bernard
There is the old truism, "Children learn what they live."
Children become adults and model learned behavior.
So . . . half a year into the cult-of-fear-based "war on terrorism," it takes only a cursory look at some recent Star Tribune stories to see where we're at: "Deadliest day in 17 months" (in Israel); "U.S. plans for nuclear scenarios -- 7 nations named in secret report"; "India: Fanaticism claims another triumph"; "Maj. Gen Frank Hagenbeck, commander of the [Afghan mountain] operation near Gardes, said of Taliban and Al-Qaida, 'We body slammed them today and killed hundreds of these guys.' " The list goes on and on.
Seven months after Sept. 11 Osama bin Laden and Mullah Muhammad Omar have not been caught and brought to justice. Though it no longer seems to be the case, for a while I thought that the official story would be that they were presumed dead in some bombed cave, like Hitler in his bunker in 1945. And were their families to be killed, I wouldn't expect that fact to get much attention -- it might give too human a "spin" to the story of war.
The entire brunt of this "war," so far, has been on Afghanistan and its people, though not a single Afghani was among the 19 perpetrators Sept. 11. We forget that this campaign against Afghanistan was not a war of liberation of Afghan women; nor is it a war for "freedom"; rather it was a campaign for other motives, some of the most important motives likely unacknowledged.
Until Sept. 11, we couldn't have cared less about Afghanistan. Sept. 11 was an excuse to go to war.
Not a single high-level mention has ever been made of possible action against Saudi Arabia and Egypt, which were home to the perpetrators.
While the administration will not acknowledge officially any innocent civilian death toll in Afghanistan, credible sources monitoring the war make it clear that the civilian death toll, just from the bombing, far exceeds the Sept. 11 death toll -- and this in a country about the size of Texas with only 8 percent of the U.S. population.
No one mentions that Al-Qaida, like all terrorist groups, will never be eradicated -- that the policy to bomb violence out of existence wll achieve only the objective of making certain that violence will continue to be a way of life far into the future.
Some of us seem to harbor the naive notion that Al-Qaida, and others like it, are incapable of continuation-of-government initiatives. Likely they are masters of it, and we simply imitators. They are masters of stealth, and in this era of the Internet and a shrunken world, will always be several steps ahead of the law. Stamp out one cell, and another will spring up . . . or two or three.
A once-popular song again needs to become the anthem of this nation. "Where Have All the Flowers Gone?" asks, "When will we ever learn? When will we ever learn?"
Until we learn to truly wage peace and justice, all is lost. So long as two-thirds of the Muslim world has serious issues against us -- issues that are not contrived, and by and large not constructively addressed -- we will continue to have problems. And our children and their children and grandchildren will inherit from us a truly dismal future.
Wage peace and justice.
Who was it who said, "We have nothing to fear but fear itself"?
Dick Bernard of Woodbury, Minnesota is a retired teachers' representative.
Rice Says Chavez Weakened Democracy
by The Associated Press, April 29, 2002
WASHINGTON (AP) -- Hugo Chavez, the populist Venezuelan president who survived a coup attempt this month, did as much to undermine democracy in that country as those who tried to oust him, National Security Adviser Condoleezza Rice said Monday.
"The threat to democracy in Venezuela didn't begin with those people in the streets," Rice told a foreign-policy forum. "We have to remember that Chavez also, in shutting down the press, for instance, was doing things to harm Venezuela democracy long before that fateful outcome."
Chavez was ousted on April 12 by dissident generals. But the government headed by Pedro Carmona, the businessman who replaced Chavez, crumbled after Carmona dissolved Venezuela's Congress and other democratic institutions, and Chavez was back in power two days after the coup. U.S. officials have been criticized across Latin America for failing to condemn the plot strongly.
Just because Chavez was elected doesn't mean he exhibited democratic values, Rice said. "We cannot fall into that trap," she said.
The White House official said she hopes Chavez will reflect on the upheaval and follow through on promises to make Venezuela more democratic.
In wide-ranging remarks to international policy students at Johns Hopkins University, Rice also:
--Opposed moves toward normal ties with Iran, saying its recent behavior keeps it "squarely in the axis of evil," the term used by President Bush in his State of the Union address to characterize Iran, Iraq and North Korea. "The behavior speaks for itself," she said.
--Said some elements of the land-for-peace plan being pushed by Saudi Arabia to resolve the conflict in the Middle East "may not be workable" and would require negotiation. Still, she said it represented an important step -- and a signal that Saudi Arabia wants to be actively involved in Middle East peacemaking.
--Promised that the Bush administration would help Argentina get more aid from the International Monetary Fund but only if that crisis-wracked government acted to get its economic house in order. "Argentina has, and should know that it has, no better friend than the United States," she said.
--Said the U.S. ability or patience to reform or change certain governments is limited. "We must recognize that truly evil regimes will never be reformed," Rice said. "And we must recognize that such regimes must be confronted, not coddled."
Rice's comments on the brief coup in Venezuela were in response to a student's question on whether the United States was practicing hypocrisy in extolling democracy everywhere else but failing to denounce a coup against a leftist leader in its own backyard.
"In fact, the United States did speak out, ... both publicly and privately. We did make very clear that we believe that democratically elected governments could not be overthrown by extraconstitutional means," Rice said.
Still, she said, "It is a complex world. It is a hard world. The complexities bring you into different kinds of situations in which different tactics are important."
She said she hoped the coup experience would lead Chavez "to recognize the importance of democratic values for real -- not just claiming that, because you're elected, you are exercising democratic values."
"When people are elected, they especially have a responsibility to talk about the importance of respecting democratic processes."
Rice originally had been scheduled to speak at Johns Hopkins on Sept. 11. "Instead, I ended up -- after a few hours in a White House bunker -- trying to deal with the effects of a huge terrorist attack on the United States."
The results of the U.S.-led war on terror prompted by those attacks "speak for themselves," she said. "Al-Qaida has been deprived of its home base. Its leadership is on the run. Many of its operatives have been captured or killed. The Taliban regime has been routed. Afghanistan has been transformed from a terrorist sponsored state into a country led by people who are trying to create a better future."
Still, she said, "There remains much work to be done on many fronts, from military operations to law enforcement to intelligence sharing to cutting off terrorist financing. The war on terrorism has many aspects, not just military aspects, and we are pursuing them all."
Leader of 9/11 Probe Resigns Suddenly
Terror: Ex-CIA official was hired to investigate why spy agencies failed to halt attacks. Some feared he would go easy on ex-employer.
September 11th Environmental Hypocrisy
Two key figures have resigned from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) in the last month. Both officials, the chief investigator for the EPA's Ombudsman Office and the Ombudsman himself, stated in their resignation letters that the EPA has covered up the existence of deadly pollution in the area of the destroyed World Trade Center towers in New York. While this issue is debated, emergency workers who were sent to the scene and residents of Lower Manhattan are developing serious, and in some cases, life threatening health problems. (...) While the EPA continues to claim that the air around the site is safe, scores of rescue workers, cleanup crews, and residents are reporting respiratory problems. Many believe something in the air from the collapse of the towers is making them sick. CLIP While not by any means a complete study, the data showed elevated levels of asbestos and many other pollutants, including the heavy metals, aluminum, chromium, antimony, molybdenum, and barium.
U.S. Troops Land in Georgia
American Navy 'Helped Venezuelan Coup'
Rice Defends Venezuelan Coup
The Vaccination Question - Policy to be drafted on smallpox inoculation
Public health experts next month will begin drafting a policy designed to protect every person in the United States against smallpox. The issue is unprecedented: It's the first time the country will attempt to develop a vaccine policy against a disease that has been eradicated. (...) Vaccinating the entire U.S. population for smallpox in the 21st century, without signs of an attack, is a step some vaccine experts call extreme. CLIP -- New U.S. policy on forced (!!!) vaccination being shaped!
Phone the White House - Sent by Mona LaVine <email@example.com> For your information. I called the White House (202-456-1414) today. Ask for the comment line. You get voice mail, then a LIVE person who takes your comments. It took less than a minute to tell them I didn't want them to support the current Israeli policies toward the Palestinians, and for them not to invade Iraq. Take a minute now to voice your opinion.
"A major war supposedly "against international terrorism" has been launched by a government which is harboring international terrorism as part of its foreign policy agenda. In other words, the main justification for waging war has been totally fabricated. The American people have been deliberately and consciously misled by their government into supporting a major military adventure which affects our collective future."
- Michel Chossudovsky, 10/9/01 - Excerpted from "The 9-11 bombings Are Crimes Against Humanity" at
"Cowardice asks the question - is it safe?
Expediency asks the question - is it politic?
Vanity asks the question - is it popular?
But conscience asks the question - is it right?
And there comes a time when one must take a position
that is neither safe, nor politic, nor popular;
but one must take it because it is right."
Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.
'CHERNOBYL-ON-THE-HUDSON' HIRES BURSON-MARSTELLER
"Burson-Marsteller is handling the public and media uproar over the safety of New York's Indian Point nuclear plant for the facility's owner Entergy Corp," O'Dwyer's PR Daily reports. "Activist groups and the media have criticized the safety record of the plant and its potential vulnerability to an attack by an airliner in the wake of the Sept. 11 World Trade Center tragedy. The Nuclear Regulatory Commission, in its annual review of the nation's 103 reactors released last month, gave the Indian Point 2 reactor its lowest performance rating. Larry Gottlieb, director of communications for New Orleans-based Entergy, told this website [O'Dwyer's] that B-M was hired 'mainly for the Indian Point issues, but its work now includes handling the overall image of the company.'"
t r u t h o u t | 05.01
Ridge Snubs Senate; Byrd Lashes Out
Rice Defends Venezuelan Coup
U.S. Promise on Jenin Won Arafat's Freedom Bush Offered Help With U.N. Fact-Finding
Jordan Court Convicts Palestinians
NRDC Issues Subpoena to Former Head of Energy Task Force
Leader of 9/11 Probe Resigns Suddenly
Congress Cool to Bush Proposals
U.S. Troops Land in Georgia
Vandals Attack British Synagogue
t r u t h o u t, is a non-profit independent news source
The House Military Readiness Subcommittee, despite having already granted the military exemption from the federal Endangered Species Act (ESA) and the Migratory Bird Treat Act (MBTA) on military lands, has balked at exempting the Navy from the Marine Mammal Protection Act and also pollution laws!
The bill now has a number, as it winds up as a product from the various subcommittees:
H.R. 4546: National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2003.
This is a nice little victory, but the bill will now be marked up in the full House Armed Services Committee NEXT WEEK, where these amendments are most assuredly to be offered once again. Plus we need to get rid of the exemption from the ESA and MBTA.
Keep those phone calls, faxes, and e-mails comin'!
For phone calls: Call (202) 224-3121 for Capitol Switchboard, and asked to be connected to your Representative's office.
For faxes or e-mails, check out your Representative's website. Don't know how to find it? Go to:
(The Library of Congress's webpage on Congress, named after Thomas Jefferson.) Go to the listings page for Members of the House of Representatives.
Or go to Natural Resources Defense Council's (NRDC's) action page:
Keep up the heat on Congress to get rid of those anti-environmental riders!
-- Mark J. Palmer
House Panel Backs Increasing U.S. Forces
by Vicki Allen, April 25, 2002
WASHINGTON (Reuters) - U.S. House of Representatives defense panels on Thursday voted for modest increases in U.S. troop strength, laying the groundwork for a buildup of forces that lawmakers say have been stretched thin by the war in Afghanistan.
Working on the defense authorization bill that is expected to pave the way for President Bush's military buildup, the House Armed Services personnel subcommittee voted for a 1 percent increase in forces.
"This is something that military leaders have been requesting for some time," said Rep. Ike Skelton of Missouri, senior Democrat on the Armed Services Committee.
The subcommittee's bill, which is to go to the full committee next week, would increase personnel by 4,800 for the Army, by 3,757 for the Navy, by 1,795 for the Air Force and by 2,400 for the Marines.
Since the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks on New York and Washington, more than 83,000 reservists and guardsmen have been on active duty, and the four military services leaders have said they need more than 50,000 additional people.
However, the Pentagon has said it does not want a major expansion of its active-duty forces until a review determines whether there are existing personnel being wasted on unnecessary, outdated duties.
Another Armed Services subcommittee on military readiness voted to ease safeguards for endangered species and migratory birds, but balked at broader environmental exemptions the Pentagon wants for its 25 million acres of training grounds and ranges.
Calling environmental restrictions on military lands a national security issue, the Defense Department wants Congress to loosen rules against water, air and noise pollution and for wildlife protections that it says hamper training missions.
But subcommittee members said they just received the Pentagon's plan late last week and said it failed to make a case for several of the exemptions.
Rep. Joel Hefley, a Colorado Republican who chairs the panel, complained the Pentagon was asking members "to follow a reckless course" by loosening the rules "without giving us a reasonable period of time to carefully consider the long-term environmental impact."
Hefley put off the request that has drawn the most fire from wildlife advocates who say it would gut protections for marine mammals from sonar, certain types of low flights and other military-related noise that may injure, disorient and kill whales and other sea life.
But the measure, which the Pentagon said is needed to conduct many tests and training exercises, is all but certain to come up before the full committee.
The subcommittee agreed to waive requirements for military lands that contain endangered species to set aside areas as critical habitat if there is plan with "special management considerations" to protect the wildlife.
It also voted to waive a restriction against killing migratory birds that has blocked training at a U.S. training range in the Western Pacific.
Supporters say this will help the military make the best use of its land to fully prepare troops for combat, but environmentalists said it would gut the wildlife protections.
Mark J. Palmer,
415 788.3666 x139
415 788.7324 (fax)
David Corn's LOYAL OPPOSITION column inspired this week's OP AD:
BOMBING ON RESPONSIBILITY
Will The U.S. Help Innocent Victims In Afghanistan?
Hundreds if not thousands of Afghans have been killed or maimed by errant U.S. bombs, but the Bush administration has stuck to its 'we-don't-make-specific-mistakes' stance. There is a growing sense that something must be done, that innocent victims deserve financial help. Much of the credit for advancing this cause belongs to Global Exchange.
COMPASSION FOR AFGHAN VICTIMS
An Interview With Medea Benjamin Of Global Exchange
by Steven Rosenfeld
A $20 million fund for Afghan victims would cost less than we spent every day on the bombing campaign. It's a drop in the bucket in U.S. terms, but very important for moral and security reasons.
AFGHAN VICTIMS TELL THEIR STORIES
by Medea Benjamin, Global Exchange (www.GlobalExchange.org)
"Global Exchange brought a delegation of Americans who lost family members on September 11 to Afghanistan to meet innocent Afghan victims of the U.S.-led war on terror. Here are some of the people we met."
FOX NEWS FOLLIES, CONTINUED
Unfair And Unbalanced Reporting?
by Phil Boyer
Fox News reporter and crew "misrepresented themselves and the facts to obtain a sensationalistic story," says open letter to Fox News CEO Roger Ailes.
FLYING WITH THE HAWKS
President Bush Ignores CIA, State Department Experts
by Tom Barry and Jim Lobe
U.S. policy in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict is being driven by a claque of hard-right ideologues while long-standing expertise goes unheeded.
EUROPEAN LABOR UNIONS SEE GLOBALIZATION DIFFERENTLY
Strong Social Safety Nets Explain Why
by Carter Dougherty
THE DRIFTING DUST OF CHINA
Another Kind of Globalization
by Walter Truett Anderson
Ecosystems can change on their own, and in today's interconnected world, a union of conservation and technological reclamation could help humanity adapt.
THIS LAND IS YOUR LAND, THIS LAND IS MY LAND
An Interview With The Sierra Club's Carl Zichella
by Steven Rosenfeld
Years of litigation by right-wing property rights activists to undermine environmental, planning and zoning laws has been rejected by the Supreme Court.
Planet Ark World Environment News
Calif. Senate committee OKs new emissions bill - USA http://www.planetark.org/dailynewsstory.cfm/newsid/15745/story.htm
USDA bans use of wheat seed outside Karnal bunt areas - USA http://www.planetark.org/dailynewsstory.cfm/newsid/15740/story.htm
Exelon eyes Illinois nuclear site for early permit - USA http://www.planetark.org/dailynewsstory.cfm/newsid/15752/story.htm
Most Americans breathe polluted air - survey - USA http://www.planetark.org/dailynewsstory.cfm/newsid/15751/story.htm
Colorado deer disease may be coming under control - USA http://www.planetark.org/dailynewsstory.cfm/newsid/15748/story.htm
North Korea scores first term fuel oil at $139.88/T - SINGAPORE http://www.planetark.org/dailynewsstory.cfm/newsid/15742/story.htm
NZ govt favours carbon tax to meet Kyoto target - NEW ZEALAND http://www.planetark.org/dailynewsstory.cfm/newsid/15739/story.htm
NZ renews whale haven bid ahead of Koizumi visit - NEW ZEALAND http://www.planetark.org/dailynewsstory.cfm/newsid/15743/story.htm
Kenya's government criticised for overseeing massive destruction of forests - KENYA http://www.planetark.org/dailynewsstory.cfm/newsid/15750/story.htm
INTERVIEW - IEA backs Bush on Alaskan oil drilling - FRANCE http://www.planetark.org/dailynewsstory.cfm/newsid/15753/story.htm
Finns divided over more nuclear power plants - poll - FINLAND http://www.planetark.org/dailynewsstory.cfm/newsid/15746/story.htm
Green groups want bolder plans to clear China's air - CHINA http://www.planetark.org/dailynewsstory.cfm/newsid/15738/story.htm
China faces tough time curbing aluminium growth - CHINA http://www.planetark.org/dailynewsstory.cfm/newsid/15744/story.htm
North American black bear population said growing - CANADA http://www.planetark.org/dailynewsstory.cfm/newsid/15749/story.htm
ANALYSIS - Traditional Balkan rivals battle for energy dollars - BULGARIA http://www.planetark.org/dailynewsstory.cfm/newsid/15741/story.htm
Japan PM in Australia to talk trade, security - AUSTRALIA http://www.planetark.org/dailynewsstory.cfm/newsid/15747/story.htm
EMS Update - April 30, 2002
Green Groups Urge Congress to Reject Farm Bill
Environmentalists are urging Congress to reject an enormously disappointing farm bill that House and Senate conferees prepared last week. The farm bill that emerged from conference would encourage factory farms to increase their pollution and would do far too little to help farmers protect the environment, green groups say. The House and Senate are expected to vote on the legislation later this week.
Black Bears Doing Better
American black bear populations appear to be stable or increasing in North America thanks to successful conservation efforts, but illegal poaching persists in some states, according to findings of a decade-long study by World Wildlife Fund and IUCN-The World Conservation Union.
Press releases: http://www.ems.org
Safety of New Drugs Cannot Be Known for Many Years
Twenty Percent Ultimately Found to Have Life-Threatening Adverse Effects, Harvard and Public Citizen Find
WASHINGTON, D.C. - Twenty percent of all new drugs are found to have serious or life-threatening adverse effects unknown or undisclosed at the time of drug approval, according to a study to be published tomorrow in the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA).
The study, by researchers at Harvard Medical School and Public Citizen, a nonprofit consumer advocacy organization, found that half of these serious adverse effects are detected within seven years after a drug is first introduced onto the market. Damage to the liver, heart and bone marrow, as well as pregnancy risks, are the most common problems that arise after new drugs are introduced.
Sixteen drugs were withdrawn from the market over the 25-year study period; half of those withdrawals took place within two years of a drug's introduction. The study also analyzed drug entries in the Physicians' Desk Reference (PDR), the most common source of drug information for doctors. The authors examined 26 volumes of the PDR, from 1975-2000, to determine how many drugs were found to have new serious adverse effects that were not known when the drug was first released. The study authors found that the estimated probability of acquiring a new black box warning or being withdrawn from the market over 25 years was 20 percent.
"This study will change the way I talk to patients about the use of new drugs," said Dr. Karen Lasser, study author and primary care doctor and researcher at Cambridge Hospital and Harvard Medical School. "If there is a safer, effective drug that has been in use for a number of years, I would strongly recommend it over a newer drug whose safety profile is unknown. I would prescribe a new drug only when absolutely necessary, and then watch for adverse effects very, very closely."
Prescription drug adverse effects are a major public health problem. "Twenty million patients, almost 10 percent of the U.S. population, were exposed to the five drugs withdrawn from the market between September 1997 and September 1998," said Dr. Paul Allen, study co-author, an internal medicine specialist at Cambridge Hospital and Harvard Medical School. "Yet the drug companies push the public and doctors to use new drugs that are more profitable but also more dangerous."
The authors recommend that the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) not approve new drugs that are found to have safety problems in premarketing trials, especially when safer, equally effective therapies already exist, or when a new drug treats a benign condition.
"For many years, we have recommended to doctors and patients not to use new drugs until they have been on the market for at least five years, unless the drug is an important advance over existing treatments, which is rarely the case," said Dr. Sidney Wolfe, director of Public Citizen's Health Research Group and study co-author. "This study provides much more extensive evidence for this cautious approach to treating patients."
The other study authors (Drs. Steffie Woolhandler, David Himmelstein and David Bor) are associate professors of medicine at Harvard Medical School.
Public Citizen is a nonprofit consumer advocacy organization based in Washington, D.C.
For more information, please visit http://www.citizen.org
WHEN THE LATTER DAY SAINTS GO MARCHING IN
Environmentalists are up against an unusual adversary in a fight over the sale of a national historic landmark in Wyoming: Mormons. Seven representatives in the U.S. House -- all of them members of the Church of Jesus Christ of the Latter-Day Saints -- are cosponsoring a bill to sell Bureau of Land Management land to the LDS Church, which treasures the area because Mormon pioneers died there in 1856. The bill is opposed not only by enviros but also by advocates for the separation of church and state. If the Martin's Cove landmark became private, it would no longer enjoy the protection bestowed by the National Historic Preservation Act. Although the Mormon Church claims the area would remain accessible to the public if the sale went through, skeptics point to other land transfers that have resulted in restricted access by the Church -- including banning rival religious groups from Church-owned property.
straight to the source: Casper Star-Tribune, Brodie Farquhar, 29 Apr 2002 <http://www.wyonow.com/NEWS/WYONEWS/28MartinsCove.html>
WHOA, WE'RE HALFWAY THERE
While the U.S. still bandies about toothless plans to cut greenhouse gases, the European Union is almost halfway to achieving the emissions reductions mandated by the Kyoto Protocol on climate change. According to the European Environment Agency, the 15-nation bloc has successfully decreased emissions of carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases to 3.5 percent below 1990 levels; under Kyoto, E.U. levels must drop to 8 percent below 1990 levels by 2008-2012. But the good news is slightly deceptive; thanks to big reductions in Germany and Britain, E.U. emissions were already 3.8 percent below 1990 levels in 1999 -- so in fact, current levels represent a slight increase in the last few years. The increase is partly due to more reliance on coal in Britain, but nine other countries are also problem polluters, with Spain the farthest from reaching its target emissions reductions.
straight to the source: Planet Ark, Reuters, Robin Pomeroy, 30 Apr 2002 <http://www.planetark.org/dailynewsstory.cfm/newsid/15714/story.htm>
do good: Take action to tell Bush to tackle global warming <http://www.gristmagazine.com/dogood/climate.asp?source=daily#kyoto>
TAKING THEM TO TUSK
An agency in Kenya is calling for a world boycott of South Africa's proposed sale of ivory stockpiles. The South Africa government is planning to submit a proposal to the Convention on the International Trade in Endangered Species that would allow the country to sell off its ivory stockpiles, but Kenya Wildlife Services, as well as the International Fund for Animal Welfare and other conservation organizations, say that granting permission to sell the stockpiles would increase the market for ivory -- whether it was obtained legally or illegally. KWS fears that South African efforts to obtain permission under CITES has fueled a recent boom in poaching and could lead to further decimation of elephant populations.
straight to the source: South Africa Independent, South Africa Press Association, 29 Apr 2002 <http://www.iol.co.za/index.php?click_id=143&art_id=qw1020081781950B241&set_id=1>
only in Grist: Alternatives to elephant poaching -- a cartoon by Suzy Becker <http://www.gristmagazine.com/ha/ha042800.stm?source=daily>
We here at Grist have long since lost track of the score in the face-off between the snowmobile industry and people who like to be able to breath in national parks, but at any rate, the latter earned a point yesterday when the U.S. EPA issued a report calling for a complete ban on snowmobiles in Yellowstone and Grand Teton national parks. Reiterating its position of three years ago, the agency said an outright ban would be the "best available protection" for air quality, wildlife, and the health of park workers and visitors. The National Park Service is again deciding whether to bar snowmobiles from the two parks, as proposed under the Clinton administration but challenged in court by the International Snowmobile Manufactures Association. Without the ban, up to 1,000 snowmobilers enter the park on winter weekends, creating a blue haze and provoking sore throats, burning eyes, and lethargy in park workers. This winter, workers at Yellowstone's West Gate entrance wore respirators because the air problems were so severe.
straight to the source: Salt Lake Tribune, Associated Press, Christopher Thorne, 30 Apr 2002 <http://www.sltrib.com/04302002/nation_w/732762.htm>
do good: Take action to save Yellowstone from snowmobiles <http://www.gristmagazine.com/dogood/forests.asp?source=daily#ylwsnow
Moussaoui To Be Examined By Physician With A Role In Hinckley Case
by Larry Margasak, Associated Press, April 30, 2002
ALEXANDRIA, Va. (AP) A man indicted as a Sept. 11 conspirator will be examined by a psychiatrist whose testimony against furloughs for presidential assailant John W. Hinckley helped keep him inside a mental hospital over the recommendation of his doctor.
Zacarias Moussaoui's examination by Dr. Raymond Patterson will help a judge determine whether Moussaoui was mentally competent when he asked to fire his court-appointed lawyers and represent himself.
U.S. District Judge Leonie Brinkema said in an order filed Monday, ''Dr. Patterson appears to have the most experience with multicultural issues in the forensic psychiatry field. We find this experience makes him particularly valuable to this case.''
Patterson formerly was an administrator at St. Elizabeths, the District of Columbia's mental hospital. He was chosen from a list of six mental health professionals, three each submitted by prosecutors and the court-appointed defense lawyers Moussaoui wants to fire.
Patterson testified in 1997 that Hinckley should not be allowed to leave the grounds of the hospital, where he has lived since a jury in 1982 found him innocent by reason of insanity in the shooting of President Reagan.
A federal judge agreed with Patterson, then in private practice, whose testimony contradicted the views of others, including Dr. Susan Lerner, then the head of Hinckley's treatment team.
Patterson, who was an independent psychiatrist at the time, testified that Hinckley had a history of masking symptoms.
Lerner subsequently sued Patterson, two other doctors and District of Columbia agencies, alleging they tried to tarnish her career for recommending the visits. The suit is still pending.
Patterson did not return several phone calls requesting comment.
Moussaoui gave a rambling, 50-minute political speech at a court hearing last week, contending his lawyers, the judge and prosecutors were conspiring to have him executed.
He said he prayed for destruction of the United States and Israel. Lead court-appointed lawyer Frank Dunham Jr. said he had questions about Moussaoui's mental state after his near-total isolation in an Alexandria jail.
Prosecutors have said they would seek the death penalty if Moussaoui, a French citizen, is convicted. Defense lawyers have sought to bar the designation as a capital case, arguing the government misread the federal death penalty law and is looking for a Sept. 11 scapegoat.
Patterson also had testified for the prosecution in 1995 that he believed a man who sprayed the White House with bullets was lying when he claimed that a multicolored alien told him he could save the nation. The man subsequently was convicted when the jury rejected his insanity defense.
Patterson became an administrator at St. Elizabeths after his Hinckley testimony. Lerner, a psychologist, alleged in her suit that Patterson asked a committee to investigate whether Lerner violated ethical standards by speaking to the media about Hinckley.
The panel ultimately said it could not conclude that she had committed ethical violations but recommended she be admonished for not getting clearance for her public comments. Patterson, she said, ordered another panel to reinvestigate.
Lerner said she was driven from the hospital because stress from the controversy aggravated her multiple sclerosis, leaving her unable to work.
Clinton Tells Las Vegas Crowd That Yucca Mountain Not Justified
LAS VEGAS (AP) - Former President Bill Clinton told a packed crowd at UNLV's Thomas and Mack Center on Monday that he hasn't seen scientific evidence that Yucca Mountain is safe to store the nation's nuclear waste.
"I think it's a mistake," he said, referring to the recommendation by President Bush to make the proposed site 90 miles northwest of Las Vegas a national nuclear waste repository.
The two-term Democratic president said during a question-and-answer session following his 35-minute guest lecture that he disagrees with the position the Bush administration has taken on Yucca Mountain because "the science doesn't justify this."
He added that he never promised Nevada that he would not approve Yucca Mountain as the repository for 77,000 tons of spent nuclear fuel and other highly radioactive wastes, but Clinton stressed that the decision would have been based on sound science.
Both chambers of Congress soon will vote on whether to override Gov. Kenny Guinn's veto of Bush's recommendation. Nevada officials have acknowledged they will lose big in the House, and are focusing on trying to muster a majority in the Senate.
Majorities in the House and Senate must override the governor's veto for the Yucca site to become final and for the Energy Department to begin preparing a repository license application.
Clinton advised Nevada residents to continue to educate members of the Senate, especially those representing small states.
"Ask them if they would want this in their state," he said. "Don't give up, just keep making the case."
Bush and Congress are under the gun to come up with a solution about what to do with the spent nuclear waste being stored at facilities around the nation, many of which are near largely populated areas, Clinton said.
"They're under enormous amounts of pressure to just do this and get it over with, so they're going to dump it on you," he said. "I don't think that's right."
Clinton added that allowing the highly radioactive waste to be buried would prevent the government from being forced to fund studies on how it could be neutralized instead.
Demand for tickets to Clinton's talk, presented as part of the Barbara Greenspun Lecture Series, was so high that the event was moved from the 3,100-seat Cox Pavilion to the arena.
All 6,500 free tickets were distributed, university officials said.
U.S. Envisions Blueprint On Iraq Including Big Invasion Next Year
by Thom Shanker and David E, Sanger, The New York Times
WASHINGTON, April 27 -- The Bush administration, in developing a potential approach for toppling President Saddam Hussein of Iraq, is concentrating its attention on a major air campaign and ground invasion, with initial estimates contemplating the use of 70,000 to 250,000 troops.
The administration is turning to that approach after concluding that a coup in Iraq would be unlikely to succeed and that a proxy battle using local forces there would be insufficient to bring a change in power.
But senior officials now acknowledge that any offensive would probably be delayed until early next year, allowing time to create the right military, economic and diplomatic conditions. These include avoiding summer combat in bulky chemical suits, preparing for a global oil price shock, and waiting until there is progress toward ending the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.
Until recently, the administration had contemplated a possible confrontation with Mr. Hussein this fall, after building a case at the United Nations that the Iraqi leader is unwilling to allow the kind of highly intrusive inspections needed to prove that he has no weapons of mass destruction.
Now that schedule seems less realistic. Conflict in the Middle East has widened a rift within the administration over whether military action can be undertaken without inflaming Arab states and prompting anti-American violence throughout the region.
In his public speeches, President Bush still sounds as intent as ever about ousting Mr. Hussein, making it clear that he will not let the Middle East crisis obscure his goal. But he has not issued any order for the Pentagon to mobilize its forces, and today there is no official "war plan."
Instead, policy makers and operational commanders are trying to sketch out the broad outlines of the confrontation they expect.
Among the many questions they must address is where to base air and ground forces in the region.
Even before Mr. Bush's tense meeting with Crown Prince Abdullah of Saudi Arabia on Thursday, the Pentagon was working on the assumption that it might have to carry out any military action without the use of bases in the kingdom.
The planning now anticipates the possible extensive use of bases for American forces in Turkey and Kuwait, with Qatar as the replacement for the sophisticated air operations center in Saudi Arabia, and with Oman and Bahrain playing important roles.
As to any war plan itself, the military expects to be asked for a more traditional approach than the unconventional campaign in Afghanistan. Such an approach would resemble the Persian Gulf war in style if not in size and would be fought with even more modern weapons and more dynamic tactics.
"The president has not made any decisions," a senior Defense Department official said. "But any efforts against Iraq will not look like what we did in Afghanistan."
Vice President Dick Cheney, Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld and their senior aides contend that Arab leaders would publicly protest but secretly celebrate Mr. Hussein's downfall < as long as the operation were decisive < and that ousting him would actually ease the job of calming violence between Israel and the Palestinians. They believe that warnings of uprisings among Arab populations are overblown and compare them to similar warnings before the gulf war, which proved unfounded.
"It has been the consistent drumbeat from our friends in the region that if we are serious, they will be with us," said an administration official in this camp.
But others at the State Department and the White House argue that efforts to topple Mr. Hussein would be viewed by Arabs as a confrontation with Islam, destabilizing the region and complicating the broader campaign against Osama bin Laden and his network, Al Qaeda.
The reaction in Saudi Arabia is already critical. The United States would need permission to use Saudi airspace adjacent to Iraq, if not Saudi air bases, officials said, but it is unclear whether Mr. Bush took up that subject with Crown Prince Abdullah when the topic of Iraq came up. Mr. Rumsfeld, who met with the Saudi leader a day ahead of Mr. Bush, said access to bases "was not a topic at all" of his discussions.
Turkish officials, for their part, said that no negotiations on basing American troops for a new campaign against Iraq had yet taken place; American officials confirmed that, calling such talks premature.
Kuwait's position, too, is uncertain. At an Arab League summit meeting in March, Iraq agreed to recognize Kuwait and pledged not to invade again in exchange for a declaration that an attack on Iraq would be considered an attack against all Arab states. But American officials said they could rely on Kuwait, whose very survival is owed to American military power after Iraq invaded the country in 1990.
Senior administration, Pentagon and military officials say that consensus has emerged that there is little chance for a military coup to unseat Mr. Hussein from within, even with the United States exerting economic and military pressure and providing covert assistance.
"There have been at least six coup attempts in the 1990's, and they consistently fail," an administration official said. In each instance, this official said, dissident Iraqi military officers "sent signals to us, `We're ready for a coup,' and the next thing you know these guys are murdered or it fails or people have cold feet at the end and leave the country."
"It's a horrific police state," the official said. "Nobody trusts anyone, so how can you pull off a coup?"
Similarly, officials say they do not believe that even an expanded version of the strategy used to oust the Taliban from Afghanistan would work. In that model, precision airstrikes combined with indigenous armed opposition under the leadership of American Special Operations forces and C.I.A. officers did the job.
The parallel strategy in Iraq would involve the Kurds in the north and the Shiites in the south. But Mr. Hussein's military, while only one-third its strength from before the gulf war, is strong enough to defeat any confrontation by proxy, officials said.
"Beware the leader who bangs the drums of war in order to whip the citizenry into a patriotic fervor, for patriotism is indeed a double-edged sword. It both emboldens the blood, just as it narrows the mind. And when the drums of war have reached a fever pitch and the blood boils with hate and the mind has closed, the leader will have no need in seizing the rights of the citizenry. Rather, the citizenry, infused with fear and blinded by patriotism, will offer up all of their rights unto the leader and gladly so. How do I know? For this is what I have done. And I am Caesar."
-- Julius Caesar
Biodiversity Activist No. 299
Center for Biological Diversity
MASSIVE TIMBER SALE STRUCK DOWN TO PROTECT ENDANGERED TROUT AND SALMON
NAVY FOUND GUILTY OF ILLEGALLY BOMBING MIGRATORY BIRDS
DEPT. OF DEFENSE SEEKS EXEMPTIONS FROM ENVIRONMENTAL LAWS
SUIT FILED TO SAVE FROGS FROM PESTICIDE POISONING
PETITION FILED TO LIST ARIZONA SNAIL AS ENDANGERED
BONNIE RAITT CONCERT TO BENEFIT CENTER
MASSIVE TIMBER SALE STRUCK DOWN TO PROTECT ENDANGERED TROUT AND SALMON
On 4-17-02, a federal judge struck down the Big Bar timber sale on the western boundary of the Trinity Alps Wilderness area. The sale would have logged 20 million board feet of trees on 1,050 acres of the Six Rivers National Forest in northwest California, and undermined tens of millions of dollars of watershed restoration work done to restore populations of endangered steelhead trout and salmon. It included 300 acres of logging in roadless areas, the first proposed since the Clinton Administration issued its roadless area conservation plan in January 2001.
The timber sale would also have destroyed important old growth habitats for the northern goshawk and Pacific fisher. The Center for Biological Diversity is attempting to protect both species under the Endangered Species Act.
The lawsuit was filed by EPIC, the Center for Biological Diversity, Sierra Club, California Wilderness Coalition, Klamath Forest Alliance, Klamath-Siskiyou Wildlands Center and the Forest Conservation Council. It was argued by Marc Fink of the Western Environmental Law Center (Eugene).
The Center's Pacific fisher page:
The Center's northern goshawk page:
The Western Native Trout Campaign:
NAVY FOUND GUILTY OF ILLEGALLY BOMBING MIGRATORY BIRDS
In response to a Center for Biological Diversity lawsuit, a federal judge ruled on 3-13-02 that the U.S. Navy is illegally killing songbirds by indiscriminately practice-bombing Farallon de Medinilla, a small Pacific island north of Guam. The island is home to two dozen species of birds, including great frigatebirds, masked boobies, red and white-tailed tropicbirds, white terns, and sooty terns. It is also home to the endangered Mariana fruit bat and Micronesian megapode. Though the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service rejected the military's request for a kill permit under the Migratory Bird Treaty Act, the Navy continued to batter the island's wildlife year-round with missiles, rockets, precision-guided munitions, mines, deck-mounted guns, machine guns, and grenades.
The judge angrily rejected the Navy's arguments that killing songbirds is good for birders since birds become more interesting to watch as they become rarer, and that citizens do not have the right to enforce violations of the Migratory Bird Treaty Act.
The court has not yet determined what alterations to the bombing are necessary. The Center was represented by Earthjustice (Honolulu).
For more information
DEPT. OF DEFENSE SEEKS EXEMPTIONS FROM ENVIRONMENTAL LAWS
Under pressure over its killing of dolphins in the Bahamas, songbirds in the Pacific Islands, and desert tortoises in California; its draining of the San Pedro River in Arizona; and its pollution of groundwater across the U.S., the Department of Defense (DOD) is exploiting concern over terrorism to make itself congressionally exempt from environmental and human safety laws. Without public notice it added a last-minute provision to the Defense Authorization Bill exempting it from complying with critical aspects of the Clean Air Act, Resource Conservation and Recovery Act, Superfund, the Endangered Species Act, Migratory Bird Treaty Act, and Marine Mammal Protection Act. The exemption is particularly egregious since these laws already contain waivers for national security situations.
The rider puts America's air, water, wildlife, and human health at risk. The Center for Biological Diversity and 20 other groups have asked Congress to oppose the rider.
For more information:
SUIT FILED TO SAVE FROGS FROM PESTICIDE POISONING
The Center for Biological Diversity sued the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) on 4-02-02 for refusing to determine the effects of pesticides on the endangered California red-legged frog and its critical habitat or to submit its pesticide regulation program to the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service for review. The impact of pesticides on endangered species, especially amphibians, is enormous. In California alone, 200 million pounds of pesticides are used each year. At least 150 different pesticides and herbicides are used within a mile of red-legged frog habitat.
Formerly so abundant it was a major food supply, the California red-legged frog has declined by 90% and has been extirpated from 70% of its range. Exposure to pesticides, herbicides and other industrial chemicals can cause amphibian deformities, disease, immune system dysfunction, and death.
For more information:
PETITION FILED TO LIST ARIZONA SNAIL AS ENDANGERED
The Center for Biological Diversity filed a petition with U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service on 4-12-02 to emergency list the Page springsnail as an endangered species. It lives in just one to six springs in the Verde River Valley near Cottonwood, AZ. All of the springs have already been modified, degraded or destroyed. They continue to be threatened by unsustainable groundwater pumping and an exotic hatchery program maintained by Arizona Game and Fish.
The Page springsnail has been on the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service's candidate list for ESA protection since 1989.
BONNIE RAITT CONCERT TO BENEFIT CENTER
Bonnie Raitt holds the respectable claim of being the only woman in mainstream rock to be recognized as a guitar virtuoso. The singer uses her exceptionally strong voice and emotive songwriting skills to pump out a bluesy mix of hard rock that has made her an international success.
Bonnie also supports the Center for Biological Diversity. On June 7th, 8PM, she will be donating part of the proceeds of her concert in Phoenix, AZ to the Center.
To find out more, visit our web site
or email Michelle Harrington firstname.lastname@example.org
Become a member of the Center for Biological Diversity, and ensure a future for wildlife and habitat. Click here to join...
Visit the web address below and tell your friends about this important issue!
If you received this message from a friend, you can sign up for Center for Biological Diversity - Biodiversity Activist at:
The Rescuing Hug
In Today's Heartwarmers
1) The Rescuing Hug
2) The Many Stories of The Rescuing Hug
2A) A Sister's Helping Hand Who can measure the special bond of twins?
2B) Lean on Me, The Big Picture
3) The Rescuing Hug The Benefits of Co-Bedding Infant Twins
1) The Rescuing Hug
This is a picture from an article called "The Rescuing Hug". The article details the first week of life of a set of twins. Apparently, each were in their respective incubators, and one was not expected to live. A hospital nurse fought against the hospital rules and placed the babies in one incubator. When they were placed together, the healthier of the two threw an arm over her sister in an endearing embrace. The smaller baby's heart rate stabilized and her temperature rose to normal.
They both survived, and are thriving, in fact, the two girls went home to share a crib, and still snuggle. The twins are happy kindergartners now. The hospital changed their policy after they saw the effect of putting the two girls together, and now they bed multiples together.
Let us not forget to embrace those whom we love!
See attached Jpg or go to
Courtesy of Gabriele Master
2) The Many Stories of The Rescuing Hug
2A) A Sister's Helping Hand Who can measure the special bond of twins?
by Nancy Sheehan
Reader's Digest - May 1996 Pages 155-156
Condensed from Worcester Telegram & Gazette
November 18, 1995
Heidi and Paul Jackson's twin girls, Brielle and Kyrie, were born October 17, 1995, 12 weeks ahead of their due date. Standard hospital practice is to place preemie twins in separate incubators to reduce the risk of infection. that was done for the Jackson girls in the neonatal intensive care unit at The Medical Center of Central Massachusetts in Worcester.
Kyrie, the larger sister at two pounds, three ounces, quickly began gaining weight and calmly sleeping her newborn days away. But Brielle, who weighed only two pounds at birth, couldn't keep up with her. She had breathing and heart-rate problems. The oxygen level in her blood was low, and her weight gain was slow.
Suddenly, on November 12, Brielle went into critical condition. She began gasping for breath, and her face and stick-thin arms and legs turned bluish-gray. Her heart rate was way up, and she got hiccups, a dangerous sign that her body was under stress. Her parents watched, terrified that she might die.
Nurse Gayle Kasparian tried everything she could think of to stabilize Brielle. She suctioned her breathing passages and turned up the oxygen flow to the incubator. Still Brielle squirmed and fussed as her oxygen intake plummeted and her heart rate soared.
Then Kasparian remembered something she had heard from a colleague. It was a procedure, common in parts of Europe but almost unheard of in this country, that called for double-bedding multiple-birth babies, especially preemies.
Kasparian's nurse manager, Susan Fitzback, was away at a conference, and the arrangement was unorthodox. But Kasparian decided to take the risk.
"Let me just try putting Brielle in with her sister to see if that helps," she said to the alarmed parents. "I don't know what else to do."
The Jacksons quickly gave the go-ahead, and Kasparian slipped the squirming baby into the incubator holding the sister she hadn't seen since birth. Then Kasparian and the Jacksons watched.
No sooner had the door of the incubator closed then Brielle snuggled up to Kyrie - and calmed right down. Within minutes Brielle's blood-oxygen readings were the best they had been since she was born. As she dozed, Kyrie wrapped her tiny arm around her smaller sibling.
By coincidence, the conference Fitzback was attending included a presentation on double-bedding. This is something I want to see happen at The Medical Center, she thought. But it might be hard making the change. On her return she was doing rounds when the nurse caring for the twins that morning said, "Sue, take a look in that isolette over there."
"I can't believe this," Fitzback said. "This is so beautiful." "You mean, we can do it?" asked the nurse. "Of course we can," Fitzback replied.
Today a handful of institutions around the country are adopting double-bedding, which seems to reduce the number of hospital days. The practice is growing quickly, even though the first scientific studies on it didn't begin until this past January.
But Heidi and Paul Jackson don't need any studies to know that double-bedding helped Brielle. She is thriving. In fact, now that the two girls are home, they still steep together - and still snuggle.
2B) Lean on Me, The Big Picture, Life Magazine, June 1996 - Page 18
Premature babies who survive are tiny miracles of modern medicine. Kyrie (red dot) and Brielle Jackson are also examples of a far more primitive science, that of the loving touch. Born 12 weeks early, the twins were whisked into separate incubators.
Kyrie, the larger at two pounds three ounces, slept peacefully. But Brielle had breathing and heart-rate problems, didn't gain weight and fussed when anyone tried to comfort her. Finally, a nurse tried a technique called "double bedding" and put the sisters together fro the first time since they shared a womb.
"Brielle snuggled up to Kyrie," reports mom Heidi Jackson, "and she calmed right down."
With her sister near, Brielle began to thrive. Sooner then expected, the girls went home - where they now share a single crib.
Photographed in Worcester, Mass. by Chris Christo/Worcester Telegram & Gazette
3) The Rescuing Hug The Benefits of Co-Bedding Infant Twins
By Meredith O'Brien
When Patty Dilbarian saw her fragile, week-old twins cuddling together in an isolette for the first time, she wept.
"It was awesome," said the Boston area mother. Her fraternal twins Brendan and Sara who weighed 4 pounds, and 2 pounds 7 ounces respectively when they were born at 31 weeks were relatively healthy. Sure, they spent the first month of their lives in a Boston neonatal intensive care unit (NICU). Brendan had been on a ventilator for a brief period. But at no time after they were born, Dilbarian said, did she ever believe their lives were in serious danger.
So when the staff at the Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center in Boston asked her permission to put the two babies in the same incubator, Dilbarian said she hadn't given the idea much thought. While the benefits of "co-bedding" premature twins have been touted as a growing national trend, particularly for sick babies, when Dilbarian's kids were born in the spring of 1998 not everyone was doing it, especially for preemies like Brendan and Sara who were doing well in the NICU.
That's something 19-year NICU Nurse Gayle Kasparian is hoping to change.
Five years ago, Kasparian unwittingly became involved in a case that melted hearts nationwide when she suggested putting two premature twin girls in the same incubator. Brielle and Kyrie Jackson were born 12 weeks early at a hospital in Worcester, Mass. Brielle weighed 2 pounds and was struggling with a battery of problems ranging from breathing issues and troubling blood-oxygen levels, to heart rate difficulties. Her sister, 2 pounds 3 ounces, was considered the stronger of the two.
When they were a little less than a month old, Brielle had a very difficult day, according to Kasparian. "She was frantic," the nurse recalled, saying that neither she nor the baby's parents could calm Brielle down as her condition worsened and she became increasingly stressed. "To me, all I can tell you is that this baby was trying to tell me something. I just wasn't getting it." So Kasparian thought she'd try a technique she'd heard only a little about: co-bedding premature twins. After the mother gave permission, Kasparian put the two babies together in one incubator, hoping it would do some good.
The rest, as they say, is history.
"Oh, it was instant, it was so instantaneous that day, I thought my equipment was malfunctioning," Kasparian said. ". . . What happened to that baby, it was miraculous. Nothing else worked." Instantly, Brielle calmed down. The two frail babies nestled together. Brielle's breathing regulated to Kyrie's pace. Her blood oxygen levels improved. Her heart rate improved. Simply experiencing Kyrie's touch seemed to make Brielle stronger, Kasparian said. "The difference is day and night," their mother Heidi Jackson told The Worcester Telegram & Gazette at the time. "She's just less stressed. She likes being with her sister. She's much more comfortable now."
When word got out about the two twins sharing the same incubator and the Telegram & Gazette ran a photo of Kyrie with her arm around Brielle, Kasparian and the Jackson family were besieged with calls. And when the picture -- dubbed the "Rescuing Hug" photo ran in both Life and Reader's Digest, the twins became famous and interest in co-bedding spiked. The photo of the twins, now five, has recently resurfaced on the Internet and in widely circulated e-mails messages, particularly in circles of mothers of twins. (The parents of the Jackson twins, who overrun with requests for interviews, have declined to respond to interview requests.)
Now the technique Kasparian started at the University of Massachusetts Memorial Hospital and immortalized by the "Rescuing Hug," is becoming more commonplace. Since that day in November 1995, UMass Memorial has co-bedded at least 100 sets of twins, triplets and even quadruplets, all with great anecdotal responses, Kasparian said. "This is a procedure that works for premature babies", she said, particularly because such tiny infants are housed in NICUs that are "too stimulated and overtaxing."
The co-authors of The Art of Parenting Twins heartily agreed. "When you consider what these babies have already experienced being thrust too early out of the soothing environment of the womb and into the noise, glare and physical discomfort of life in the hospital you wonder what added stress is caused by being separated for the first time from the comfort of the other baby," Patricia Maxwell Malmstrom and Janet Poland wrote last year. "There is considerable evidence that multiple infants who are co-bedded handle the stress of being hospitalized, and of all the procedures they must endure, better than those who are separated."
With the interest in co-bedding on the rise, Kasparian and fellow nurse Mary Whalen decided to conduct a clinical study to gather statistics to bolster what they say is irrefutable anecdotal evidence that putting premature twins together is beneficial.
During a recent national conference of neonatal nurses, Kasparian and Whalen reported that over the past five years among their co-bedded premature multiples, their staff has observed:
* Decreased number of apnea incidents
* Improved blood-oxygen levels
* Increased weight gain
* Better feeding
* Greater temperature regulation
* Decreased agitation
* Decreased the length of hospital stays and re-admissions
Kasparian is hoping that once their study is complete, more physicians will embrace co-bedding preemie multiples. "Physicians are very analytical," she said. "They have to see proof." There are still many who worry that putting twins together could lead to higher rates of infection and medical errors in medication by mixing up the twins, she said. However Kasparian said that in the time the UMass Memorial NICU has been co-bedding premature twins, there have been no incidents of twin-to-twin infection or medicinal foul-ups.
Given the unique experiences these babies have in utero, Kasparian said, it's only natural to put them together. "They both respond to each other's touch," she said. ". . . Just allowing them to be together, it works."
And while Dilbarian's children weren't in as critical a condition as Brielle, just seeing her twins together brought everyone pleasure. "It made me a lot happier," she said.
New Hampshire First State to Tackle Global Warming
New Hampshire lawmakers became the first in the country to pass a law to reduce global warming. The measure is aimed at reducing emissions of carbon dioxide, sulfur dioxide, and nitrogen oxide - thus addressing global warming, acid rain, smog and airborne mercury poisoning contributions by fossil-fuel power plants. Although some environmentalists have opposed a part of the bill that allows credit-trading with out-of-state utilities for those unable to cut local emissions by 2007, others have supported the plan and called the compromise a major step forward. Even though the new rules for emissions pale in comparison to the Kyoto Protocol, the measure will serve as a model for other states and the federal government to follow New Hampshire's initiative and take action in curbing our role in climate change.
To read more about New Hampshire's initiative, go to:
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CEC to Fund Feasibility Study of Ocean-Based Energy Systems
In the near future, California could be using ocean-wave energy systems to meet some of its energy needs. The prospects of using wave actions to generate electrical energy is not new by any means, Pacific Gas & Electric Company released a report in 1991 looking into potential energy conversion of wave energy into usable energy. With funding from the California Energy Commission, a group of researchers and experts will survey the California coast to study the feasibility of using sea swells as a potential source of renewable energy in the upcoming weeks. Initial assessments indicate a potential of 23,000 MW of ocean-based electricity could be generated along the northern coast alone, making this technology appealing to conscious energy users and advocates who want California to adopt a diverse clean energy portfolio. Although wave energy is effectively non-polluting, there are environmental considerations that still have to be explored, including its impact on sea life. In addition, there are still a few technical challenges that will need to be overcome to make this concept economically competitive with traditional sources of energy. Even so, experts are excited about the reality of establishing wave-energy electricity converters in the near future - the World Energy Council estimates that the equivalent of twice the global electricity production could be harvested from the world's oceans.
Check out this animation showing how wave energy works:
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Never Too Young to Be Involved
Not sure if kids can be committed, effective activists? Well South Australian Premier Mike Rann recently announced that his 11-year-old daughter convinced him to go "green" and we believe kids can help convince their fellow Californians to go "green" as well.
More and more, we, at Greenpeace, hear from kids who want to get involved, and we would like to remind our readers that Greenpeace does have a Volunteer Network in the San Francisco/Bay Area. There are plenty of opportunities for people of all ages to work with other Southern California activists and political teams or along side Greenpeace campaigners in our San Francisco office.
If interested, please contact Ashby Smith, our Outreach Coordinator, by phone at: 415 255.9221 x314 or via email at: mailto:email@example.com
The "Positive Energy" newsletter and our website,
will give you good news about ways to achieve clean air, climate justice, and renewable energy solutions to our ongoing energy crisis.
The "Positive Energy" newsletter and our web site,
will give you good news about ways to achieve clean air, climate justice, and renewable energy solutions to our ongoing energy crisis.
Want to do more? Become a Greenpeace Member
Head Of Congressional Probe Into September 11th Quits
by Tabassum Zakaria, April 29, 2002
WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The head of a joint congressional investigation into why U.S. intelligence agencies failed to detect the plot that led to the Sept. 11 attacks on America has resigned, U.S. government sources said on Monday.
Britt Snider, a retired CIA (news - web sites) inspector general, was hired in February to conduct the review for the Senate and House intelligence committees.
Some members of the panels had objected to his selection, saying Snider was too closely tied to the spy agency and CIA Director George Tenet to conduct an impartial review.
Snider resigned on Friday and his deputy Rick Cinquegrana will fill in as the acting head of the investigation, sources told Reuters on condition of anonymity.
Snider's parting was not amicable and resulted from a confrontation with the congressional committees over his handling of a personnel matter, sources said.
Snider was apparently aware of an issue of potential wrongdoing regarding one of the members of his team and did not inform the committees about it, sources said.
Senate Intelligence Committee Chairman Bob Graham, a Florida Democrat, would not comment on Snider's departure because it was "an internal personnel matter," his spokesman, Paul Anderson, said.
Sen. Richard Shelby, an Alabama Republican who is committee vice chairman, also declined to comment. "He (Snider) has left his position and because it is a personnel issue we're not commenting," Shelby's spokeswoman, Andrea Andrews, said.
Congressional aides said Snider's departure was not expected to affect the pace of the investigation and the committees still hoped to hold the first hearing next month.
Snider could not immediately be reached for comment.
The House and Senate intelligence committees took the unusual step of agreeing to conduct a joint investigation as the least disruptive method of inquiry at a time of war, so testimony and information would not have to be presented twice.
The goal of the investigation was to review intelligence failures and establish remedies for the future.
In the Sept. 11 attacks, four planes were hijacked and crashed into the World Trade Center in New York, the Pentagon (news - web sites) near Washington, and a field in Pennsylvania, killing about 3,000 people.
The attacks were widely viewed as an indictment of the intelligence agencies, which failed to detect the plot. Since the attacks, funding for intelligence operations is increasing and agencies are under pressure to fix shortcomings.
The United States has blamed Saudi-born militant Osama bin Laden (news - web sites) and his al Qaeda network for the attacks and launched a war on terrorism to wipe them out.
ENVIRONMENT NEWS SERVICE
CONGRESSIONAL CONFERENCE COMMITTEE APPROVES MASSIVE FARM SUBSIDIES
WASHINGTON, DC, April 29, 2002 (ENS) - A House Senate conference committee has approved sweeping new farm legislation that promises billions of dollars in subsidies to some of the nation's largest crop growing conglomerates. The $100 billion bill, which was condemned as pork barrel legislation by some groups, won some praise for including about $17 billion in conservation programs.
FRENCH NUCLEAR CLEANUP TECHNIQUES SHARED WITH CHINA
CHERBOURG, France, April 29, 2002 (ENS) - Advanced French technology for decontaminating nuclear facilities is being transferred to China under a technical assistance agreement signed last week.
DEATH SENTENCE FACES ROAMING BISON
HELENA, Montana, April 29, 2002 (ENS) - Any bison that wander outside the boundaries of Yellowstone National Park will be removed from the park's herd and slaughtered for the rest of the calving season, the Montana Department of Livestock said last week.
TUNA FARM MORATORIUM PETITION FAILS TO REACH EU MINISTERS
CARTAGENA, Spain, April 29, 2002 (ENS) - There is a better than 50/50 chance that people enjoying tuna sushi half a world away in Japan are eating not wild fish but fish that have been fattened on tuna farms in the Mediterranean Sea. http://ens-news.com/ens/apr2002/2002L-04-29-01.html
ENVIRONMENT NEWS SERVICE AMERISCAN: APRIL 29, 2002
Six People Die in Sunday Tornadoes
Environmentalists Criticize Senate Energy Bill
Baltimore to Begin Billion Dollar Sewer Upgrade
Lawsuit Seeks Cleanup at Alaska Military Base
Ford to Clear Dump in National Park
Research Promises Answers to Water Pollution
Westchester Suburbs Crucial to Hudson Valley Diversity
Humane Society Honors Champions of Animal Rights
Just Say No to GMOs! NEW VIDEO AVAILABLE
HEARTBREAK IN THE HEARTLAND: The True Cost of Genetically Engineered Crops
In this 26 minute video, farmers on the frontlines share their thoughts on how GMOs (genetically modified organisms) are threatening agriculture, consumer choice, and the environment.
- non-GMO crops and ecosystems are being invaded by uncontrollable, pervasive GMO pollen drift - herbicide resistant plants ("superweeds") are increasingly difficult to eradicate - farmers' rights to save and replant seed are under attack - legal decisions on patented seeds will determine the future of agriculture and the food supply - Monsanto's aggressive tactics are bringing grief to farmers across the heartland - political and regulatory decisions are determined by for-profit corporate agendas - consumers are being denied the right to know and choose - the natural genetic evolution of life on this planet is being irreversibly altered for profit
This video is a re-edited version of 'Genetically Engineered Seeds of Controversy: Biotech Bullies Threaten Farmer and Consumer Rights' which was videotaped last October at the University of Texas at Austin. The shortened length and reorganization crystallize the issues, convey a sense of urgency and encourage viewer participation. It is suitable for a wide variety of audiences and circumstances.
Copies of the video may be ordered on-line at The Campaign video store:
Please circulate the video far and wide to friends, local community groups, TV stations, farmers, regulatory agencies, lawmakers, etc. Feedback is also most welcome. Thank you!
Say No To GMOs! "Grassroots education, activities and resources in Texas for consumer choice and a genetically viable future"
Planet Ark World Environment News
Iowa approves new environmental rules for feedlots - USA http://www.planetark.org/dailynewsstory.cfm/newsid/15722/story.htm
US aluminum can recycling declined in 2001 - USA http://www.planetark.org/dailynewsstory.cfm/newsid/15730/story.htm
FEATURE - Biotech crops make inroads as consumers watch - USA http://www.planetark.org/dailynewsstory.cfm/newsid/15727/story.htm
Baltimore to fix sewers with up to $900 mln bonds - USA http://www.planetark.org/dailynewsstory.cfm/newsid/15732/story.htm
Southern Maryland tornado was killer twister - USA http://www.planetark.org/dailynewsstory.cfm/newsid/15723/story.htm
RESEARCH ALERT - Bear Stearns upgrades Vestas - UK http://www.planetark.org/dailynewsstory.cfm/newsid/15718/story.htm
UK resumes badger culling tests in bid to curb TB - UK http://www.planetark.org/dailynewsstory.cfm/newsid/15725/story.htm
Mercury fillings may be affecting dentists - study - UK http://www.planetark.org/dailynewsstory.cfm/newsid/15721/story.htm
Thailand says gas route likely to be changed - THAILAND http://www.planetark.org/dailynewsstory.cfm/newsid/15715/story.htm
Nordic shares plunge, wind turbines power ahead - SWEDEN http://www.planetark.org/dailynewsstory.cfm/newsid/15717/story.htm
Sri Lanka gifts elephants to Japanese children - SRI LANKA http://www.planetark.org/dailynewsstory.cfm/newsid/15729/story.htm
OECD chief calls for new look at nuclear energy - SPAIN http://www.planetark.org/dailynewsstory.cfm/newsid/15720/story.htm
FEATURE - Powerful bird of prey gets a boost in Panama - PANAMA http://www.planetark.org/dailynewsstory.cfm/newsid/15713/story.htm
FEATURE - Guatemala coffee growers bet on quality contest - GUATEMALA http://www.planetark.org/dailynewsstory.cfm/newsid/15724/story.htm
German household power bills up 7 pct yr/yr - VDEW - GERMANY http://www.planetark.org/dailynewsstory.cfm/newsid/15726/story.htm
EU halfway to Kyoto target, but emissions up - EEA - EU http://www.planetark.org/dailynewsstory.cfm/newsid/15714/story.htm
German leader, EU seek to ease industry disputes - EU http://www.planetark.org/dailynewsstory.cfm/newsid/15731/story.htm
China says to promote wind power by halving its VAT - CHINA http://www.planetark.org/dailynewsstory.cfm/newsid/15719/story.htm
Hong Kong, China's Guangdong to clean up bad air - CHINA http://www.planetark.org/dailynewsstory.cfm/newsid/15716/story.htm
Belgium refuses licence for Aventis GMO crop test - BELGIUM http://www.planetark.org/dailynewsstory.cfm/newsid/15728/story.htm
A Chilling Intrusion
by Herbert Foerstel
AN FBI agent visited the Engineering and Physical Sciences Library at the University of Maryland, College Park, in April 1986, asking staff members to report on the reading habits of "anyone with a foreign-sounding name or foreign-sounding accent."
That same day, the agent visited the Chemistry Library, asking again for surveillance and also requesting any records of database searches.
At the University of Maryland, as at most American universities, a large percentage of faculty and students have "foreign-sounding names or foreign-sounding accents." The FBI's request was both absurd and chilling.
As head of branch libraries at the time, I immediately met with the library staff and informed them of their obligation to maintain the confidentiality of all patron information, including book circulation records and database searches.
I discovered the FBI visits were part of a broader national effort called the Library Awareness Program, which was aimed at information control and surveillance in America's unclassified technical libraries.
Such an intrusion on privacy and access to openly published information was a clear violation of our constitutional rights and of library ethics. In response, I wrote a series of articles for library journals, debated the FBI on television, testified before Congress and worked with Del. Samuel I. "Sandy" Rosenberg of Baltimore to help craft Maryland's library confidentiality law.
Today, 48 of our 50 states plus the District of Columbia have laws making it illegal for libraries to release patron information to anyone without a court order.
Now, under cover of the USA Patriot Act, passed Oct. 26, the FBI is poised to intrude once more on library confidentiality, this time with an arsenal of surveillance that even our library confidentiality laws may not be able to prevent.
The Patriot Act became law without congressional hearings or even a markup in committee. The act, which originated with Attorney General John Ashcroft, amended federal statutes governing criminal procedure, computer fraud, foreign intelligence, wiretapping and immigration, expanding the authority of the FBI and law enforcement to gain access to business, medical, educational and library records.
It also extended the laws governing wiretaps to Internet and electronic communications, challenging privacy and confidentiality in libraries. The new law replaces the traditional subpoena with a search warrant, which can be executed immediately. Libraries will no longer have the right to "quash" such a warrant.
Section 215 of the law concerns access to records under the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA). It overrides state library confidentiality laws, allowing an FBI agent to obtain a search warrant for "any tangible thing," including books, records, floppy disks, data tapes and computers.
It allows the FBI to compel production of library circulation records, Internet use records and registration information without demonstrating "probable cause." The agent can simply express his belief that the desired records may be related to an ongoing investigation related to terrorism or intelligence activities.
Librarians served with such a search warrant may not disclose, under penalty of law, the existence of the warrant. Even the patron cannot be told that he or she is the subject of an FBI investigation.
Section 216 extends telephone monitoring laws to include all Internet traffic. Both state and federal law enforcement agencies may obtain an order under this provision, with federal agents able to obtain a nationwide wiretap order.
Section 216 is not limited to the investigation of terrorism or foreign intelligence, and officers or agents seeking warrants need only affirm that the information sought is relevant to a criminal investigation. The recipient of a monitoring order must cooperate fully and may not disclose that communications are being monitored. Libraries that provide Internet and e-mail service to patrons thus become targets of such orders.
Section 214 extends the FBI's telephone monitoring authority in FISA investigations to include all Internet traffic. Again, the agent need only claim that the desired records may be related to terrorism or intelligence matters.
There are many other provisions of the Patriot Act that offend librarians because of excessive secrecy or censorship, but what we surely cannot abide is the government's intrusion on library confidentiality.
When the public's reading habits and personal communications are subject to government surveillance within the library, the delicate relationship of trust between libraries and their patrons is shattered and the chill on free expression and the right to know may be irrevocable.
This is not a partisan issue.
Herbert Foerstel is a retired librarian and author of eight books on First Amendment issues, including Surveillance in the Stacks (Greenwood Press, 1991) and Banned in the USA (Greenwood Press, 1994). He lives in Columbia, MD.
WHAT JUDITH LEVINE IS REALLY SAYING
Liz Highleyman, AlterNet
Judith Levine's book, "Harmful to Minors" has stirred up enormous controversy. But with the conservative right setting the discourse, Levine's true insights are getting lost.
FRANCE TAKES A RIGHT TURN
Doug Ireland, In These Times
The rise of neo-fascist Le Pen in France offers a simple lesson: when a left-wing government institutes right-wing policies, it clears the way for extremists.
HOW WAL-MART IS REMAKING OUR WORLD
Jim Hightower, Hightower Lowdown
From union busting to Chinese sweatshops, there are a thousand reasons to worry about Wal-Mart.
HOT FUDGE-FLAVORED SOCIAL JUSTICE
Marc B. Haefele and Christine Pelisek, LA Weekly
Using his Hot Fudge Social Venture Capital Fund, ice cream mogul Ben Cohen has funded a clothing company that believes in worker dignity, decent job conditions and amenities.
WORLD TRADE CENTER VANISHES AGAIN
Mark Adnum, Spiked Online
The Twin Towers have been magically edited out of the upcoming Hollywood mega-release Spiderman. What do we achieve by pretending the World Trade Center never existed?
JESUS WAS A FEMINIST
Jessica Lyons, Coast Weekly
Now that the Catholic Church has acknowledged the transgressions of some of its priests, maybe sexism will follow suit -- and women will finally break through the church's ancient stained-glass ceiling.
PLAYING THE ANTI-SEMITISM CARD
Marty Jezer, AlterNet
Some Jewish organizations in the U.S. accuse Arabs of anti-semitism but embrace right-wing Christian groups who denounce all Jews.
THE WONDERFUL WORLD OF LIFETIME
Erin Aubry Kaplan, LA Weekly
Even as Lifetime's series "Any Day Now" fades into reruns, the show wins raves from loyal followers and new ones alike.
BOMBING ON RESPONSIBILITY
David Corn, AlterNet
U.S. government -- particularly the Pentagon -- has denied credible reports from eyewitnesses and pro-American Afghan officials that errant U.S. bombs have killed and maimed Afghan civilians.
Michael Bader, AlterNet Even the Supreme Court recognizes that sexual fantasies -- even about children -- are not necessarily rehearsals for harmful actions.
JUSTICE FOR ALL
Ted Lewis and Jason Mark, AlterNet
U.S. opposition to the establishment of the first-ever international court to prosecute war crimes will prove both embarassing and costly.
HUTCHINSON: STILL SEPARATE BUT NOT NECESSARILY UNEQUAL
Earl Ofari Hutchinson, AlterNet
Nearly a half century after the Supreme Court knocked out school segregation, the practice continues in schools across the nation.
US Officer Accused Of Involvement In Venezuelan Coup
A US officer has been accused of being involved with Venezuela's failed coup against President Hugo Chavez, a charismatic left-leaning populist.
A source close to the official investigation told journalists that US Army colonel Ronald MacCammon was with the military coup leaders who briefly managed to topple Chavez, only to have him return amid a swell of support fewer than 48 hours later, the source said.
US military and State Department officials swiftly denied MacCammon had anything to do with the failed ouster.
A Pentagon spokesman acknowledged MacCammon, the US army attaché in Caracas, and his deputy James Rodgers, had offices at Fort Tiuna, the military headquarters here, but denied they had anything to do with the failed overthrow.
Chavez, an ex-paratrooper, was ousted following three days of upheaval that included a nationwide joint labor-management strike.
The US State Department issued a communiqué that day, decrying "undemocratic actions committed or encouraged by the Chavez administration" that "provoked" the crisis.
Fewer than 48 hours later, the interim government of right-wing businessman Pedro Carmona buckled under intense pressure from other Latin American nations for dissolving Venezuela's National Assembly and Supreme Court, and Chavez was back in power after his supporters took to the streets.
Speaking on condition of anonymity, a State Department official in Washington acknowledged the United States had a military group liason at Fort Tiuna until Thursday morning, but added that "at some point Thursday they were told by the Venezuelans to leave and they did, along with all the other foreign military officials."
Earlier, a military source told AFP in Caracas that US Army Lieutenant Colonel James Rodgers, an aide to the US military attache, was present at Fort Tiuna in Caracas before Chavez was brought to that installation after the coup, and remained there until the self-proclaimed provisional government fell apart.
Some Venezuelan military officers interpreted Rodgers' presence as a green light from Washington to unseat Chavez, the Caracas source said.
American Navy 'Helped Venezuelan Coup'
by Duncan Campbell, in Los Angeles for The Guardian, April 29, 2002
The United States had been considering a coup to overthrow the elected Venezuelan president, Hugo Chavez, since last June, a former US intelligence officer claimed yesterday.
It is also alleged that the US navy aided the abortive coup which took place in Venezuela on April 11 with intelligence from its vessels in the Caribbean. Evidence is also emerging of US financial backing for key participants in the coup.
Both sides in Venezuela have blamed the other for the violence surrounding the coup.
Wayne Madsen, a former intelligence officer with the US navy, told the Guardian yesterday that American military attaches had been in touch with members of the Venezuelan military to examine the possibility of a coup.
"I first heard of Lieutenant Colonel James Rogers [the assistant military attache now based at the US embassy in Caracas] going down there last June to set the ground," Mr Madsen, an intelligence analyst, said yesterday. "Some of our counter-narcotics agents were also involved."
He said that the navy was in the area for operations unconnected to the coup, but that he understood they had assisted with signals intelligence as the coup was played out.
Mr Madsen also said that the navy helped with communications jamming support to the Venezuelan military, focusing on communications to and from the diplomatic missions in Caracas belonging to Cuba, Libya, Iran and Iraq - the four countries which had expressed support for Mr Chavez.
Navy vessels on a training exercise in the area were supposedly put on stand-by in case evacuation of US citizens in Venezuela was required.
In Caracas, a congressman has accused the US ambassador to Venezuela, Charles Shapiro, and two US embassy military attaches of involvement in the coup.
Roger Rondon claimed that the military officers, whom he named as (James) Rogers and (Ronald) MacCammon, had been at the Fuerte Tiuna military headquarters with the coup leaders during the night of April 11-12.
And referring to Mr Shapiro, Mr Rondon said: "We saw him leaving Miraflores palace, all smiles and embraces, with the dictator Pedro Carmona Estanga [who was installed by the military for a day] ... [His] satisfaction was obvious. Shapiro's participation in the coup d'état in Venezuela is evident."
The US embassy dismissed the allegations as "ridiculous". Mr Shapiro admitted meeting Mr Carmona the day after the coup, but said he urged him to restore the national assembly, which had been dissolved.
Mr Carmona told the Guardian that no such advice was given, although he agreed that a meeting took place.
A US embassy spokesman said there were no US military personnel from the embassy at Fuerte Tiuna during the crucial periods from April 11 to 13, al though two members of the embassy's defence attache's office, one of them Lt Col Rogers, drove around the base on the afternoon of April 11 to check reports that it was closed.
Mr Rondon has also claimed that two foreign gunmen, one American and the other Salvadorean, were detained by security police during the anti-Chavez protest on April 11 in which around 19 people were killed, many by unidentified snipers firing from rooftops.
"They haven't appeared anywhere. We presume these two gentlemen were given some kind of safe-conduct and could have left the country," he said.
The members of the military who coordinated the coup have claimed that they did so because they feared that Mr Chavez was intending to attack the civilian protesters who opposed him.
Mr Chavez's opponents claim pro-Chavez gunmen shot protesters while his supporters say the shots were fired by agents provocateurs .
In the past year, the United States has channeled hundreds of thousands of dollars in grants to US and Venezuelan groups opposed to Mr Chavez, including the labour group whose protests sparked off the coup. The funds were provided by the National Endowment for Democracy, a nonprofit agency created and financed by the US Congress.
The state department's human rights bureau is now examining whether one or more recipients of the money may have actively plotted against Mr Chavez.
t r u t h o u t
American Navy 'Helped Venezuelan Coup'
Deal to Free Arafat as Israel Enters Hebron
Musharraf: US Troops Are in Pakistan
Powell Faces Opposition at Home
Salman Rushdie | France: Dangerous Illusions . . .
White House Stonewall: Day 66
ENRON Continued to Fill GOP Pockets While Under Investigation
As Elections for Governor Loom, G.O.P. Leaders Worry
Senate Probe Shows Gas Price Hiking
t r u t h o u t, is a non-profit independent news source
'Frankenfish' Spawn Controversy Debate Over Genetically Altered Salmon
by Jane Kay, San Francisco Chronicle Environment Writer, April 29, 2002
It looks like a North Atlantic salmon. But it grows seven times faster, and it's much more attractive to the opposite sex than a normal salmon.
It's a transgenic fish, the first genetically engineered animal under review for the U.S. food supply. Embedded in every cell of its body are genes from the Chinook salmon and the ocean pout fish that make it grow more quickly.
The altered salmon is likely to become the next focus in the battle over bioengineered food, after controversies over the desirability of genetically altered bovine growth hormones in cows and modified corn, soybeans and canola in cereals and tortilla chips.
In the next year, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration will consider a petition by Aqua Bounty Farms of Waltham, Mass., to farm and market the altered salmon.
Already, the prospect of mutant fish escaping and disrupting already threatened wild populations has prompted lawmakers in several states to take pre-emptive steps. California could become the first state to ban transgenic fish outright.
Last week, the Senate Natural Resources Committee approved a bill by Sen. Byron Sher, D-Palo Alto, that would make it illegal to import, transport, possess or release transgenic fish. They would be considered an "aquatic nuisance," a category that includes piranhas, slugs and giant toads that threaten wildlife.
Another bill by Assemblywoman Virginia Strom-Martin, D-Duncan Mills, would require labeling of transgenic fish sold in markets. And a joint legislative resolution introduced by Assemblyman Joe Nation, D-San Rafael, urges the FDA to deny Aqua Bounty's petition and put in place a moratorium on transgenic fish.
The bills -- and Sher's in particular -- have strong support from consumer, environmental and commercial fishing groups, which dub the altered salmon a "Frankenfish" that would eat or outcompete smaller wild species and cause their extinction. What's more, critics say, federal regulatory oversight of bio-engineered foods is not sufficient to guarantee the fish are safe to eat.
Proponents of biotechnology, on the other hand, view transgenic fish as the answer to supplying consumers with healthful fish without depleting the ocean's declining populations. To fish farmers, it means being able to grow salmon in half the time and at lower feed costs.
Sher's bill could abruptly end these hopes. Biotechnology trade groups, the National Food Processors Association, the state Chamber of Commerce, California Farm Bureau and the California Grocers Association oppose the legislation.
Passing a strict anti-transgenic fish state law would create "a precedent, and could poison the well. Once the door is shut, we may never be able to find the key to open it up again," said George Gough, a Sacramento lobbyist for Monsanto Co.
He urges legislators to leave it up to the FDA, which must consult with federal wildlife and fisheries agencies, to decide whether the bio-engineered salmon is safe.
"This is really the first biotech animal that is going through the review process. The FDA is going to be taking a microscope to this, and it should. When you you say 'fish' or 'beef,' it hits you more than when you say 'soybean, ' " he said.
While Monsanto doesn't work with fish, it's one of the largest producers of transgenic crops, holding dozens of patents on new biotech products, among them soybeans, potatoes, canola and corn. The company believes a California ban would have a chilling effect on the industry and investors.
Opponents of biotechnology say a pre-emptive strike is crucial. About two dozen varieties of genetically engineered fish or shellfish are under development, most aimed at increasing growth and resistance to disease in such species as abalone, oysters, stripped bass, rainbow trout, catfish and tilapia.
THREAT TO NATURAL RESOURCES
"These genetically engineered fish will pose a threat to our natural resources," said Natasha Benjamin, program officer with the Institute for Fisheries Resources, a research arm of the Pacific Coast Federation of Fishermen's Associations.
"California is known to set a precedent when it comes to environmental standards. We hope to see the state take the lead in this issue, and hopefully other states will follow," she said.
At the crux of the debate is whether the superfish would escape into the wild and harm native salmon populations. Damaged by dams, pollution, invasive species and loss of fresh water, salmon are already struggling for sustainability on the Pacific Coast.
A 1999 study by Purdue University scientists predicted ecological risks from the release of transgenic fish into the wild.
The researchers found the larger transgenic fish were more attractive mates for native fish, thus allowing a trait to spread quickly through the wild population. But because the offspring don't live long, eventually the native population would be wiped out.
The study caused widespread concern because in aquaculture, the escape of farmed fish is inevitable.
TRANSGENIC FISH LAWS
Last year, Maryland passed a law prohibiting transgenic fish any place that might connect with waterways. In Oregon, the law prohibits the release of transgenic fish into locations where they can mingle with wild populations. There are discussions in Alaska over an outright ban.
Representatives of Aqua Bounty Farms say its modified Atlantic salmon won't threaten wild stocks. The company will use only sterile females in netted pens, so, if they escape, they won't spawn and pass along the genetic traits.
Joseph McGonigle, vice president of Aqua Bounty, said the technique that his company uses to sterilize eggs "is 100 percent effective. We will be doing . . . screening on every batch of eggs that is done."
But fish scientists, including some from the aquaculture industry, say there is still a chance that a small percentage of fish will be fertile. And they predict another problem: Wild male salmon will try to mate with the larger but sterile female salmon, depressing reproduction rates.
Aquaculture is the fastest growing segment of agriculture, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture. In California, sales of farmed fish and shellfish have jumped from $33 million a year in 1991 to $71 million in 1999 from more than 100 producers.
"The majority of our producers are not involved in transgenics. What we're grappling with is that there may be some transgenic techniques that are proven safe that would be excluded by this bill," said Justin Malan, executive director of the California Aquaculture Association.
The trade group is negotiating with the bill's author to change the language. One of the aquaculture industry's problems is that the bill shuts out all commercial ventures.
"It's a question of whether the importation of transgenic fish should be banned or adequately regulated," Malan said. "We don't have a problem with stipulations that will safeguard the environment or public health, but a ban is forever."
email Jane Kay at: mailto:firstname.lastname@example.org
'Mayday' From New England's Coast
The Atlantic fishing fleet faces a new wave of rules May 1 aimed at boosting fish stocks diminished by overfishing. But will they finally sink a troubled trade?
by Noel C. Paul and Christian Scripter, The Christian Science Monitor
BUZZARDS BAY, ATLANTIC OCEAN A blue sky hangs high above his boat. White-capped waves rush swiftly underneath. But John Welch, captain of the Lady Irene, gazes warily ahead, his feet propped up on the boat's helm. He cups his chin in his hand and listens soberly to weather reports on the radio. The April seas are calm along the New England coastline, yet Mr. Welch's face betrays a trace of concern.
A decade ago, as a crewman on a handful of fishing boats, Welch would revel in the drama of a day at sea, inviting waves and stiff winds. Now, he has a more personal stake in success. Welch is a new captain. Last fall, he paid $140,000 for the Lady Irene, a 44-foot gillnet fishing boat.
For a man who immediately took to the tenets of fishing hard work, high risk, independence becoming a captain is a natural step. Yet, even as his future and the fishing season begin, Welch cannot chart a confident course.
New federal regulations governing New England's fisheries announced Friday substantially scale back the region's fishing industry. The rules reduce the number of days fishermen may work, close key fishing grounds, and limit the size of fish that may be caught. They also include a mandate to overhaul management of the fisheries by next summer.
Conservationists advocate further restrictions, based on government data showing a dramatic decline in stocks of cod, haddock, flounder, and other ground fish over the past 20 years.
Worst-case scenario: a collapse of some of the fish populations altogether, which recently occurred in the waters off Newfoundland and Nova Scotia, where commercial fishing is no longer permitted.
Yet many of New England's fishermen, Welch included, argue that based on the quantity and ages of the specimens they catch the fish are coming back faster than studies indicate. While most admit that regulations have worked, they believe further restrictions are unnecessary and could effectively wipe out the industry.
"If they push these regs too hard, the whole infrastructure of fishing here could collapse," says Welch, looking at a graying sky above Buzzards Bay. "It's the fishermen, the fish houses, the mechanics, the crew. They could all lose their jobs."
Like many small-boat fishermen, Welch's daily routine is filled with compromise. In order to load ice onto his boat, he docks at the old whaling city of New Bedford one of the few harbors that still has a large ice distributor. Packed just 10 years ago with mechanics, trucks, fish-processing houses, and net repairmen, New Bedford, like other harbors, is now a ghost of its former self.
Crewmen are particularly scarce. Low unemployment rates have kept laborers from the docks. Many choose to bypass work that government statistics place among the most dangerous jobs in the country.
Those willing to work sometimes struggle with alcohol and drug dependency. Ship captains routinely have applicants roll up their shirt sleeves to check for traces of heroin use.
Welch recently signed on two men with no fishing experience as crew: Eric Gomes, from the Cape Verde Islands and Javier Frias, from the Dominican Republic. They are both honest men, Welch says. On their first journey a few days earlier, Mr. Frias prayed over the engine as it sputtered with mechanical problems.
Still, Welch must devote much of his time to instruction. Before leaving the harbor, Mr. Gomes nearly allows water from a hose to trickle into the fuel tanks. Welch, frustrated, shouts directions. He soon realizes Gomes doesn't understand him. "It's hard when you can't communicate," says Welch.
Five hours later, bobbing in currents southwest of Martha's Vineyard, the crew pulls up three nets that had been left on the sea bottom for two days. For every four fish John picks, Gomes struggles to free just one. The nets are laden with skate, a wide, flat "junk" fish that, 10 years ago, fishermen threw back because nobody wanted it. Now, in some cases, it is all they can find.
New England's fish stocks, cod in particular, have been subject to large-scale fishing for more than 400 years. Many historians agree that the Puritans came to North America to fish cod as much as to flee religious intolerance.
The advent of steel and steam power at the turn of the 20th century, as well as of equipment that dragged nets along the ocean floor, rapidly accelerated the pace at which fish were taken from the sea.
In 1976, Congress passed the Magnuson-Stevens Act, which reserved the water 200 miles off US borders for American fishermen alone. The government encouraged US fishermen to expand operations.
A decline of fish stocks quickly followed. Evidence of the decline was available as early as the 1980s, but it took rock-bottom stock levels in 1994 to prompt action. The government's response included a reduction of days at sea for all fleets by 50 percent of pre-1994 levels. Now, most fishermen may take fish from the water only 88 days a year, and can land only 400 pounds of cod each day.
The government also closed more than 5,000 square nautical miles of prime ground-fishing water and increased minimum mesh sizes for nets, a move meant to allow smaller fish to escape.
The regulations have taken their toll on fishermen. Between 1994 and 2000, the number of active fishing vessels fell 17 percent to 1,888, according to the New England Fishery Management Council. (The council is an advisory group comprised of state and federal appointees. It develops management plans for the fishery that are submitted to the Commerce secretary for approval.)
In 1996, the government even began buying up vessels and fishing permits in an effort to thin the fleet and assist fishermen struggling with past-due loan payments.
Despite the turmoil, the government has not come close to its goal of rebuilding fish stocks to the point where they can sustain high yields year after year.
Both conservationists and fishermen strongly criticize the management council for fumbling policy for more than a decade. But they disagree on a timetable for making amends.
Many fishermen report waters teeming with large, healthy fish, with stocks larger than they have been in 40 years. "I could pull out a metric ton in one day," says Dan Belforit, based in Scituate, Mass.
Even according to government statistics, the fisheries have rebounded substantially since 1996. "Of the 19 [species], there's probably less than five that aren't growing," says Tom Nies, an analyst with the council. Stocks of haddock and yellowtail flounder, for example, have grown significantly in Georges Bank, partly closed to fishermen since 1994.
Most fishermen support the regulations that have been in effect until now. But many believe they should be given some slack to make up for cutbacks they endured in the past, including a year in which they were held to 30 pounds of fish per day.
"We all made enormous sacrifices," says Barbara Stevenson, a member of the management council and owner of three boats in Portland, Maine. "It's extremely frustrating after having gone through all this to now be told that things are getting worse. Everybody should be declaring success."
There is disagreement, however, on how to define success. Conservation groups are citing the letter of the law, which requires all depleted fishing stocks to be rebuilt to allow for a maximum sustainable yield by 2009.
While most fishermen admit that the deadline would notbe met under the old rules, many say stocks can be rebuilt soon thereafter without new restrictions.
"If you can get there by 2011, why put fishermen out of work to get there two years earlier?" asks Ms. Stevenson.
The latest government data show that, among most groundfish species, only one out of every four mature fish is killed each season, according to Mike Sissenwine, director of the Northeast Fisheries Science Center in Woods Hole, Mass., a public group that helps to conduct stock surveys for the government. The low mortality rates give fish a much higher chance of surviving to an older age and, in turn, breeding more offspring.
Yet there are important exceptions. Among them: mature Gulf of Maine cod, half of which are still extracted every season, and mature Cape Cod yellowtail flounder, which suffer a mortality rate of 75 percent, according to Mr. Sissenwine.
Despite significant progress, only one of the 18 ground-fish species has fully recovered from overfishing, and only four others have reached the halfway point.
Indeed, a recent study sponsored by the Pew Charitable Trusts found that the North Atlantic has one-sixth the number of fish it had 100 years ago but that fishing continues eight times more intensively.
"What you have now are some babies, and very few mommies," says Ellen Pikitch, director of marine conservation at the Wildlife Conservation Society in New York. She says many of the fish are adolescents. Though they are large enough to be harvested, Ms. Pikitch says they will breed stronger fish if allowed to grow.
Pikitch likens the current demographic profile of fish to those located off the coast of Nova Scotia and Newfoundland in the late 1980s. That fishery is now shut down because there are so few fish to catch. "If we cannot take a sobering lesson from that experience," she says, "then we may very well repeat it."
The loss of fishing, others maintain, would have its own consequences. "The national interest is comprised of small pieces," says Scituate-based trawler Frank Mirarchi. "These fishing communities are every bit as important as agriculture."
Still at sea, but charting a new course
GLOUCESTER, MASS. - In America's oldest seaport, the mood these days is dour.
When news came a few weeks ago that the US government planned to reduce their number of days at sea by 20 percent, fishermen Dan Belforti and Robert Contrino realized they had no choice but to adjust.
"They've closed every door at this point, there's no way an inshore boat can make a living," says Mr. Belforti, whose 59-year-old boat, the St. Anna, is one of the oldest trawlers in Massachusetts.
The new regulations, Belforti says, will limit his annual catch to what he caught in one week 10 years ago.
Mr. Contrino, who fishes for ground fish and lobster, estimates that his earnings this year would fall 50 percent. Like many skippers, he must also contend with mortgage bills and college-tuition payments for two children.
Both men are confused and angry about the situation. Yet they still plan on making a living from the sea. They are currently enrolled with seven others here in a "captains' class," which provides students with training and a license to operate a boat in other commercial ventures, such as charter trips and whale watching.
"I want to spend the last years I have on this planet on the ocean that I love," says Contrino.
For centuries, charitable organizations and families have come together in this seaside city to support fishermen who can no longer work.
The Gloucester Fishermen and Families Assistance Center now fills much of that role. With a Labor Department grant, the center helps fishermen such as Belforti and Contrino to develop new job skills and, in many cases, pay for university and technical-school classes.
The names of fishermen who have gone through the retraining are written on fish-shaped, construction-paper cutouts hung on a wall. Many of the names are Italian, a reminder of the wave of Sicilians who came here in the early 20th century and still dominate local fishing.
Angela Sanfilippo, head of the retraining program, says Gloucester has lost close to 1,000 jobs over the past seven years, most of them related to the fishing industry.
The age of those leaving the industry is dropping every year, she says. The "captains' class" is comprised mostly of fishermen in their 40s.
Those unable to qualify for charter work often find work as carpenters, mechanics, or truck drivers, according to Ms. Sanfillipo.
A sluggish fishing industry has buffeted Gloucester for decades. In response, the state designated the city an Economic Target Area, offering local businesses a 5 percent tax credit. The city has recently attracted light industry and technology firms, among others.
Historian Joe Garland believes many in the fishing trade can now adapt their skills including some high-tech know-how for other employment. "Before mechanization, the sailors' skills were narrower," he says. "They had to know about rigging and tying ropes.... Now their skills are much broader."
It's one thing for lobbyists to ply governmental officials with policy requests (that's what they do); it's another thing for government officials to actively seek input from lobbyists when crafting national policy. But apparently, in the Bush administration, that's what officials do: According to Energy Department documents (released following a lawsuit by the Natural Resources Defense Council), a top official emailed a leading gas industry lobbyist in March 2001 to ask for help in shaping energy policy. The email reads, in part, "If you were King, or Il Duce, what would you include in a national energy policy, especially with respect to natural gas issues? I am working up the policy elements, and ... thought I would pick your brain." The Energy Department said none of the lobbyist's recommendations was included in the final energy policy, but environmentalists said the email was damning evidence that the Bush administration is in bed with the energy industry, and expressed frustration that the document had been released later than scheduled -- and after the conclusion of the Senate's debate over the energy bill.
straight to the source: Washington Post, Ellen Nakashima, 27 Apr 2002 <http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/articles/A56919-2002Apr26.html>
only in Grist: Confessions of an Energy Task Force member -- diary of Dick Cheney's secretive group discovered! -- satire in our opinions section <http://www.gristmagazine.com/imho/imho062901.asp?source=daily>
POSTCARDS FROM THE EDGE
So your birthday package hasn't arrived yet, your brother didn't send a postcard from Malibu, and all you've gotten is junk mail and bills for the last three weeks. If your own mailbox is getting you down, check out ours. In the latest batch of letters to the editor, our readers offer their two cents on eco-terrorism (is Grist complicit?), nuclear safety (how safe is it?), and the surprisingly eco-friendly city of Bogota, Colombia (wanna visit?). We also got an earful on Ben & Jerry's, bison, and some kudos for our enigmatic but all-knowing new advice columnist, Umbra Fisk. Get some vicarious mailbox thrills, only on the Grist Magazine website.
only in Grist: Andes dandies -- and more thoughts from our readers, in our letters section <http://www.gristmagazine.com/letters/letters042902.asp?source=daily>
TEACH A MAN TO FISH AND HE'LL HAVE NO JOB SECURITY
New England's fishing industry will be substantially scaled back under new federal rules announced Friday. The regulations, which reduce the number of days fishers can work, close key fishing areas, and limit the size of fish that may be caught, were met with dismay by the industry. After more than 400 years of large-scale fishing, the region's fish stocks bottomed out in 1994, prompting the government to close more than 5,000 square nautical miles of prime fishing spots and reduce the number of days at sea to 50 percent of pre-1994 levels for all vessels, among other regulations. Even fishers agree that some of those measures were necessary to save fish stocks, but now, they argue, species are recovering and regulations should be relaxed, instead of tightened. Conservationists disagree and support the stricter restrictions, pointing out that only one of 18 ground-fish species has fully recovered from overfishing. Overall, the North Atlantic has just one-sixth the number of fish it had a century ago, while fishing is eight times more intensive.
straight to the source: Christian Science Monitor, Noel C. Paul and Christian Scripter, 29 Apr 2002 <http://www.csmonitor.com/2002/0429/p15s03-wmwo.html>
only in Grist: Here, fishy, fishy, fishy ... -- a cartoon by Suzy Becker <http://www.gristmagazine.com/ha/ha051099.stm?source=daily>
I'M TOO SEXY FOR MY GILLS
Meanwhile, in other news about fish, a transgenic version of the North Atlantic salmon is the first genetically engineered animal up for review by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration for use as food. The fish looks more or less like it's natural cousin, but it grows seven times faster and is, we kid you not, sexier (if you're a salmon of the opposite sex, that is). Scientists achieved those characteristics by including genes from Chinook salmon and ocean pout fish. Aqua Bounty Farms, of Waltham, Mass., hopes to farm and market the Frankensalmon, but environmentalists fear mutant salmon could escape and disrupt the already-threatened wild population. The fish is likely to join the ranks of cows with bovine growth hormone and genetically modified corn and soybeans as watershed species in the battle over bioengineered foods. Maryland and Oregon already have laws regulating transgenic fish, and Alaska and California are considering outright bans.
straight to the source: San Francisco Chronicle, Jane Kay, 29 Apr 2002 <http://www.sfgate.com/cgi-bin/article.cgi?f=/chronicle/archive/2002/04/29/MN155761.DTL>
only in Grist: What's the dish on antibiotics and fish? -- astute advice on all things environmental -- in our Ask Umbra column <http://www.gristmagazine.com/ask/ask042302.asp?source=daily#salmon>
do good: Take action to stop genetically engineered fish <http://www.gristmagazine.com/dogood/food.asp?source=daily#gefish>
CLEAR AS MUD
President Bush rejected a U.S. EPA proposal that would have gone much further toward improving air quality than his pet Clean Skies Initiative, according to administration documents. To cite just one example, the EPA proposal would have limited sulfur dioxide emissions to 2 million tons per year by 2010; by contrast, the (so-called) Clear Skies plan would limit such emissions to 3 million tons per year by 2018. The White House claimed the EPA plan was unrealistic, but critics say it was rejected because it imposed too many restrictions on the energy industry. Bush continues to maintain that his plan would do more to improve air quality than the 1970 Clean Air Act and 1990 amendments (signed by Bush, Sr.), which would be replaced, but he has not yet released any details to back up that claim, and it is widely disputed by environmentalists.
straight to the source: New York Times, Katharine Q. Seelye, 28 Apr 2002 <http://www.nytimes.com/2002/04/28/politics/28POLL.html>
do good: Take action to preserve the Clean Air Act <http://www.gristmagazine.com/dogood/air.asp?source=daily#grandfather>
Ridge Says Terrorism Is Permanent'
by Ron Fournier,AP White House Correspondent, April 29, 2002
NEW ORLEANS Homeland Security Director Tom Ridge said Monday that al-Qaida terrorists are seeking nuclear weapons and if they succeed in their quest "I don't have any doubt they would try to use" them.
Ridge, in an address and question-and-answer session with publishers at The Associated Press annual meeting, said terrorism in America is a "permanent condition" and outlined goals for a long-term security strategy.
"We are at war. If we think there are only 20 terrorists the one we just caught and the 19 others" who attacked on Sept. 11, he said, "we are naive. We have got to believe there are more here."
For the first time, Ridge reviewed plans to release this summer or fall a national strategy to rank the nation's homeland defense needs. The plan will focus government resources where the risks are the highest, where most lives can be saved and most property can be protected, he said.
"It will reveal, in our judgment, what we need to protect. It will outline the resources available to us and point the way for their best use," Ridge said.
Bioterrorism, for example, poses one of the greatest threats for massive loss of life "and our preparedness has historically lagged behind the threat," Ridge said.
He told the news executives the homeland defense strategy "will answer two questions often asked by your reporters, and rightly so: 'Whose job is it and who pays for it?'"
Following the terrorist attacks, President Bush named the former Pennsylvania governor to be the White House point man for domestic defense programs. The assignment touches on scores of federal activities, including border control, intelligence and safeguards against bioterrorism strikes.
Some in Congress want to give the position Cabinet-level status, which would grant lawmakers oversight power and, they say, increase Ridge's influence. Bush has balked, insisting that he has given Ridge enough power to overhaul homeland security from his working space just a few steps from the Oval Office.
Ridge recently unveiled a color-coded warning scheme to keep the nation on guard for terrorism. He told publishers that the warning system may be "tweaked" to adjust for suggestions raised during a public comment period.
Ridge was asked about the potential threat of terrorists getting their hands on nuclear weapons or exploding nuclear materials in a "dirty bomb." He replied that there is evidence the al-Qaida are seeking nuclear technology.
"If they obtain it one way or another I don't have any doubt they will try to use it," he said.
In his address, Ridge said the fear of terrorism has receded for many Americans since Sept. 11.
"The world is just as dangerous today, if not more so," he said. "The threat is real; it's as real as it was seven months ago. In fact, it is a permanent condition to which this country must permanently adapt."
Ridge said his office is working with states and the private sector to study the nation's infrastructure and determine where the greatest risks are.
"The challenge is vast. It encompasses so much oil and gas refineries, power plants and electrical substations, water treatment plants and reservoirs, dams, pipelines, just to name a few. Add to that our schools and hospitals, our banks and financial institutions, our airports and seaports, our bridges and highways," Ridge said.
He said many communities are already at work securing potential targets and preparing emergency workers to respond to attacks.
Save GM From itself!
This is one of the neatest, easiest campaigns I've seen to make a difference in the world, and rolled into the campaign is a chance to win a free, new fuel efficient car.
Two online groups, MoveOn.org and the Patriot's Energy Pledge campaign, have come up with a great new way to fight the short-sightedness of American car companies. They're even offering a free Honda Civic Hybrid. I hope you'll join me in this campaign.
Last month, General Motors again scuttled sound energy policy on Capitol Hill. GM spent millions lobbying against fuel efficiency standards. Meanwhile, American car companies are getting trapped in a market niche that will eventually disappear --focusing on products like the 8,600 pound Humvee. We've got to save GM from its own short-sightedness, before it's too late.
General Motors needs to hear from us in the most powerful way possible. Please join me in taking this pledge:
"I will seriously consider buying a General Motors vehicle ONLY if:
- GM offers a fuel-efficient line of vehicles;
- GM supports meaningful increases in fuel efficiency standards;
- GM supports efforts to reduce carbon pollution and global warming."
Just go to: http://www.moveon.org/saveGM/
When you pledge, you'll be automatically enrolled in a drawing for a new Honda Civic Hybrid, conducted by the Patriot's Energy Pledge campaign. The hybrids from Japan prove that great cars can be efficient too. Why is Japan out in front on this? Didn't we learn anything from the 70s, when American car companies lost huge market share to foreign imports?
Please take a moment and sign the pledge now. The free Honda Civic Hybrid will be awarded July 4th in Washington, D.C.. Let's save the American car industry from itself. Let's save hundreds of thousands of American jobs. Let's save our country from its crippling dependence on oil. Let's lead the world to a sustainable future.
Join with me in this campaign at:
Only Love Prevails, Carol Hansen Grey, mailto:email@example.com
Kucinich is the One - Studs Terkel
"Under democracy one party always devotes its chief energies to trying to prove that the other party is unfit to rule --and both commonly succeed, and are right."
-- H. L. Mencken, 1880 - 1956
The Nation, May 6 2002
When I finished reading John Nichols's exhilarating communique from California ("Kucinich Rocks the Boat," March 25), the bells began to ring. In his speech to the Southern California Americans for Democratic Action, criticizing Bush's conduct of the war on terrorism, Dennis Kucinich set the crowd on its ear -- one standing ovation after another. Sure, they were all liberals, but what counted was the response on the Internet. The Cleveland Congressman's e-mail box was stuffed to overflowing with 20,000-plus enthusiastic letters. Among them was the call: Kucinich for President. That's when -- bingo! -- I remembered my first encounter with him. It was twenty-four years ago.
At the arrival gate of the Chicago-to-Cleveland flight, a skinny kid who appeared no more than 19 or 20 reached out for my torn duffel bag. I thought he was one of those Horatio Alger heroes, whose opening line is usually "Smash your baggage, mister?" This one said, "Did you have a good flight, Studs?" I'll be damned, he was the person I had come to visit, Dennis Kucinich, the Boy Mayor of Cleveland.
He was 32 then, though he could pass as anybody's office boy. As he carried my bag through the corridors of the airport, passers-by called out, "Hello, Mr. Mayor." I was slightly discombobulated, turning around several times to make sure whom they were addressing. The following are passages from our conversation in 1978.
At his one-family bungalow, his wife makes coffee. A player piano is about the only piece of furniture that might distinguish the house from any other simply furnished home in this working-class neighborhood. "Some of my neighbors are within ten years of retirement." A photograph of Thomas Jefferson, in the shadows, hangs on the wall.
When I was young, I never dreamed of living in a house like this. We were always renters. A number of times we moved; it was because we were kicked out. It wasn't for failure to pay rent. It was because our family was big. I remember sometimes, in order to get a place, one of the kids had to be hid in the closet. We always lived above some railroad tracks.
I'm the oldest of seven. There were a lot of tough times. My father came from a family of thirteen children, my mother from a family of a dozen. Our story is an ethnic Gone With the Wind. (Laughs)
I spent all my time as a youngster coming to understand the experience of the ghetto. It was growing up tough and growing up absurd. I spent a lot of time out on the streets. That's where I got my education. I made friends with all kinds of people, black and white.
My dad's been a truck driver ever since he got out of the service as a Marine. He's gung-ho. His dream was to have all his boys in the Marines. My brother Frank served four years, two and a half in Vietnam. My brother Gary served five years, most of it in Hawaii. My father never questioned authority. His authority was the guy who ran the trucking company.
I've always been taught to respect authority, although I was more independent than the other kids my age. I was constantly getting into squabbles with teachers. I was the first person in my family, on both sides, who ever graduated from college. I love literature. My mother taught me to read when I was 3.
In the late sixties, I didn't go right from high school to college. I worked for two and a half years. When I was 17, I moved on my own and rented an apartment above the steel mills. In the same neighborhood where The Deer Hunter was filmed. The frame house I lived in overlooked the steel mills.
When I was in grade school, I would scrub floors and help with janitorial duties to pay my tuition. When I got into high school, I worked as a caddy at the country club, from 1959 to '64. I was carrying two bags. They called it workin' doubles. Going forty-five holes a day, six days a week.
I believe in the work ethic. There's a tremendous dignity in work, and it doesn't matter what it is. What some consider menial, I found to be just a chance to make a living. I always tried to do the best I could at that time. Work hard, get ahead, that was my American dream.
We lived next door to black people. It was integrated. There's a lot of poor and working ethnics who have to struggle their way into the system, who can identify with black people's striving. I'm trying to show both that the color of the enemy is green. (Laughs) This is a city run by the Mayflower-type aristocracy. It's as if the people here don't even exist. Until recently. We seized the decision-making power through the ballot box. If the black movement did one thing, it created ethnic pride.
I'd ask myself why it is that with so many people trying to improve society, not that much changes. As I looked around, I saw many of the kids I grew up with trapped, not able to get as far as they would have liked. I started to wonder, What the heck is this? No matter how hard they work, they can't get ahead. Seeing all these people working their heads off, you find out the system is rigged.
When I first started, I didn't question the institutions. I never really put it together. I think it was the Vietnam War. I'd see that some people were profiting, while tens of thousands of Americans were dying. Friends of mine went over there, and they died. Kids I rode the bus with to school. I started to think: This is a dirty business. I'd better start to find out more about it.
I began to get into city politics. In 1967, I ran for the City Council. I was 21. I went from door to door, and I found out about people. Every campaign I've ever run has been door to door. I spent months just talking to people. They don't ask for much, but they don't get anything. They can have a problem with a streetlight that's out, with a street that's caved in, with a fire hydrant that's leaking, with flooded basements, with snow that isn't plowed.
I've visited tens of thousands of homes over the past years. That's how I got my real education. Door to door.
I was elected councilman in '69. I had just turned 23. My ward was made up of Polish, Ukrainians, Russians, Greeks, Slovaks, Appalachians, Puerto Ricans, blacks. It was a good cross section not only of Cleveland but of America. They worked in the mills around here. Some had lived in the neighborhood sixty years. Same homes. The churches are still here. They say masses in Polish and Slovak and Russian. They helped keep the neighborhood alive. I loved it.
People were wondering how the heck I got elected to the Council. No one believed the old councilman could ever be beaten, he was so entrenched. At first, people wondered if the banks sent me there. Or the utilities. Or some big real estate interests. All the traditional contributors who buy their candidates. I was elected on a shoestring. I financed nearly my whole campaign out of my pocket, my savings, which weren't much. I put together a coalition of people who were disaffected and ignored.
The first thing, some of the older guys came up to me and said: "You got it made now, kid. All you have to do is take your seat and shut up. If you just listen to what we tell you, you're gonna be a big man in this town someday."
When I started stepping on toes, I didn't know I was stepping on toes. I was just representing the people who sent me to the City Council. I didn't know I was offending somebody else. I found out very quickly there were a number of special-interest groups who made city hall their private warren. There are thirty-two councilmen. Thirty-one to one was usually the score.
When I got elected mayor, just as I came to the Council, I was expected to represent the system. When I started to challenge it, the titans of Cleveland's business community began to get surly and used their clout in the media to disparage the administration. I came to understand that big business has a feudal view of the city, and that city hall was within their fiefdom.
When I was elected mayor on November 8, 1977, it was discovered that the previous administration had misspent tens of millions of dollars of bond funds. They could not be accounted for. The city was trying to negotiate the renewal of $14 million worth of notes held in local banks. One bank talked: the Cleveland Trust Company.
I had a meeting on the day of default at 8 o'clock in the morning, with the Council president, the chairman of the board of Cleveland Trust and a local businessman, a friend of mine. The conversation turned immediately to MUNY Light. The chairman of the board of Cleveland Trust made it very clear that if I sold MUNY Light to the Cleveland Electric Illuminating Company, he would extend credit and save the city from default. CEI's largest shareholder is Cleveland Trust. Four members of Cleveland Trust's board are directors of CEI. If I didn't agree, I could not expect any help from his bank.
MUNY Light has 46,000 customers in Cleveland. MUNY Light and CEI compete in most neighborhoods, street by street, house by house. MUNY Light's rates in the recent decades have been from 20 to 60 percent cheaper than CEI's, but MUNY Light's competitive advantage has depreciated over the years because of CEI's interference in MUNY's management.
>From the moment Mr. Weir [Brock Weir, chairman of the board of CEI] told me his price, I decided that a fiscal default was better than a moral default. If I had cooperated with them and sold MUNY Light to the private utility, everyone's electric rates would've automatically gone up. It would have set the stage for never-ending increases, much the same way that Fort Wayne, Indiana, is faced with that problem after relinquishing its rights to a municipal electric system.
I was hoping I was doing the right thing in holding my ground. I had to tell 'em no. I felt they were trying to sell the city down the river. They were trying to blackmail me. If I went along with the deal, they made it clear, things would be easy. Mr. Weir said he'd put together $50 million of new credit for the city. The financial problems would be solved. My term as mayor would be comfortable and the stage set for future cooperation between myself and the business community.
The media picked up the tempo. Why the heck don't you get rid of MUNY Light? I was asked on a live TV show. replied that MUNY Light was a false issue. It wasn't losing money. Its troubles could be traced to CEI's interference. I was in office a little over a year and had inherited a mess. The city had a plan to avoid default, to which five of the six banks agreed: an income-tax increase, as well as tighter control of the management of the city's money. That's one of the reasons I got elected. I knew I was risking my whole political career. But you gotta stand for something.
The referendum was to be on February 27. Both issues were on the ballot: the income-tax increase and the sale of MUNY Light. We organized volunteers. People went door to door, in the freezing rain and the bitter cold, subzero temperatures and big snow. We laid out the hard facts. We were facing the attempt of corporations to run the city. We gave the people a choice between a duly elected government and an un-duly elected shadow government.
We were outspent two and a half to one, but we created circumstances where people came to understand that every person can make a difference. We won both issues by about two to one. It was the first time in Cleveland's history that we succeeded in uniting whites and blacks, poor and middle class, on economic issues. Usually, they've been manipulated against each other. Not this time.
My concept of the American dream? It's not the America of IBM, ITT and Exxon. It's the America of Paine and Jefferson and Samuel Adams. There are increasingly two Americas: the America of multinationals dictating decisions in Washington, and the America of neighborhoods and rural areas, who feel left out. I see, in the future, a cataclysm: popular forces converging on an economic elite, which feels no commitments to the needs of the people. That clash is already shaping up.
The American Revolution never really ended. It's a continuing process. I think we're approaching the revolution of hope. We have the country that makes it possible for people, if they've lost control of the government, to regain it in a peaceful way. Through the ballot box. Before I got into politics, I didn't know whether what I was doing even mattered. Now I know. One person can make a difference. I think it's something every person can learn. The main thing is, you can't be afraid.
In November 1979, with just about all of Cleveland's newspapers and television and radio stations -- as well as industry -- united against him, Kucinich was defeated for re-election. Fifteen years later, he began his political comeback, elected to the Ohio Senate. His key issue: expanding Cleveland's municipal electrical system, which provided low-cost power to almost half the residents of Cleveland. In 1988, the Cleveland City Council honored him for "having the courage and foresight to refuse to sell the city's municipal electric system." It was the same political body that in years past outvoted him thirty-one to one.
Today, in his second term as a US Congressman from Ohio, he is chairman of the Progressive Caucus, and its spark plug. His website reads like a press release: "He combines a powerful political activism with a spiritual sense of the interconnectedness of all living things. His holistic worldview carries with it a passionate commitment to public service, peace, human rights, workers' rights and the environment. His advocacy of a Department of Peace seeks not only to make nonviolence an organizing principle in our society, but to make war archaic." This sounds naive and loonily idealistic, except for one thing: He is a remarkably practical and astute politician. His Ohio track record tells you that.
It was his voice in the State Senate that caused Ohio to scrap the planned siting of a nuclear waste dump in the state. He gets things done in no small way because of his understanding of his opponents' humanness as well as his wrongness. There is an ultraconservative congressman from a nearby state whom Kucinich describes as a "good, honest man." I spoke to that Congressman and discovered that he admires Dennis very much. You get the idea? I think this guy can reach anyone and change seemingly unchangeable minds. (Personal note: Dennis, there's one thing I'd like to change your mind on -- your stand on a woman's right to choose. I know, because of your background, you are of two minds on the subject. I have faith in your honesty and in your belief in the dignity of the person that you will make the right choice: pro.)
It's more than a hunch that tells me Kucinich Is the One (if I may borrow a Nixonian slogan). I am a believer in egalitarianism, and I feel it's high time an Ohioan had another shot at the presidency. We've had only three since the eminently forgettable Rutherford B. Hayes in 1876.
In 1896, Ohio gave us William McKinley, with a little help from his boss, Mark Hanna. In 1908, it gave us William Howard Taft, fondly remembered as the heaviest occupant in the history of the White House. And in 1920, we were gifted with the genial, handsome, presidential-looking Warren Gamaliel Harding. Even though I was only 8 at the time, I remember it with some sense of pride because his nomination happened in my hometown, Chicago. In a smoke-filled room at the Blackstone Hotel, the Boys, blowing wondrous smoke rings from H. Upmanns, with a touch of bourbon or two to lift all spirits, boozily announced that Harding's the one. Sure, he was as little known, say, as Dennis Kucinich, but with the leading candidates, Gen. Leonard Wood and Governor Frank Lowden in a damn deadlock, they said, What the hell, here's a good-lookin' guy. And we gotta get home.
Now, in the year 2002, Ohio has given us another, f a somewhat different stripe. I doubt whether he'll ever make People magazine's list of the most beautiful people, but the blue-collar Kucinich is the only one who can win back the blue-collar Reagan Democrats, among the other disenchanted, and the disfranchised. He talks the language they understand and, at 55, with a remarkable eloquence.
Imagine him in a televised, coast-to-coast debate with Dubya. Blood wouldn't flow, but it would be a knockout in the first round, and we'd have an honest-to-God working-class President for the first time in our history. It's a crazy thought, of course, but it's quite possible, considering the roller-coaster nature of our times.
Since plagiarism is a la mode these days, let me steal the closing passage from the Rev. William Sloane Coffin's invocation at a Yale commencement during the Vietnam War: "Oh God, take our minds and think through them, take our lips and speak through them, take our hearts and set them on fire." I'll add a brief benediction: Kucinich is the man to light the fire. Amen.
Postscript. Obviously, I haven't touched on ways and means. Obviously, the big dough will not be there. But this could be the catapult for the hundreds of grassroots groups on a thousand and one issues to coalesce behind one banner. Jim Hightower has touched on that often. And Michael Moore's book Stupid White Men is a bestseller. And there's a whole new generation of kids, not just the students, but bewildered, lost blue-collar kids. And, strangely enough, it can be done the old-fashioned way, shoe leather and bell-ringing, as well as e-mails. It could be that exciting. Nicholas von Hoffman once observed that when people get active, they get the feeling they count. Kucinich is like Poe's purloined letter --right there on the table as we helplessly play Inspector Clouseau goofily searching elsewhere.
"When given a choice between Republicans and Republicans, the people will always choose the Republicans."
-- Harry Truman US President (Democrat)
"There can be no effective control of corporations while their political activity remains. To put an end to it will be neither a short nor an easy task, but it can be done."
-- Theodore Roosevelt US President
Dear Fellow NRDC Member,
I'm sure you felt, as I did, a sense of great accomplishment and enormous relief when the U.S. Senate recently voted to block oil development in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge. It restores one's faith to know that this greatest American wilderness is still safe from rigs and roads and pipelines. I also want to thank you for contributing the generous support and tenacious activism that helped make this inspirational victory possible. Unfortunately, so many other gems of our natural heritage -- Greater Yellowstone, Utah's Redrock canyons, Wyoming's Red Desert -- are still endangered by the White House energy plan. To defend them, NRDC will need your ongoing support more than ever, and we'll be in touch when crucial votes or decisions are imminent. In the meantime, I encourage you to visit the BioGems website at http://www.savebiogems.org to find out more about the dozen campaigns we're waging right now. I hope you'll stick with us as we fight to save America's last wild places.
Member, NRDC Board of Trustees
BioGems: Saving Endangered Wild Places
A project of the Natural Resources Defense Council
The Latest Way To Pay Is At Our Fingertips
by Jane Hadley, Seattle Post-Intelligencer, April 27, 2002
Shoppers headed for the West Seattle Thriftway Wednesday can leave their credit cards, debit cards and checks at home. They just need to make sure to bring their index fingers.
The supermarket will be the first in Washington and one of the first in the nation to use a biometrics system -- finger scanning -- to tie consumers to their credit cards, electronic benefit cards and checking accounts, says the maker of the system, Indivos of Oakland, Calif.
"The main thing is, it's fast, it's easy, and it's secure," says Paul Kapioski, West Seattle Thriftway owner.
Consumers enroll in the system by putting their index finger on an image reader, which runs digital information for 13 points on the finger through a formula, and stores the encrypted information on Indivos servers. Consumers register whichever cards or accounts they want associated with their finger scan.
"It takes about one minute to enroll," Kapioski said. Enrollment begins Wednesday and is strictly voluntary, he emphasized. Wary customers still will be able to pay the old-fashioned way if they want.
Once enrolled, consumers won't need to hassle with their wallets or purses. Instead, they'll just pass their fingers over the image reader.
For those whose payment is tied to their checking account or debit card, that's it. Customers who want their credit card billed still will have to sign a receipt.
The main advantage of the new system, Kapioski said, is the security. People no longer have to worry that their cards will be lost or stolen and then used to run up hefty charges. Stores and credit card issuers will likewise avoid the losses associated with identity theft.
"If we can come up with a payment method where there's no opportunity for fraud, then the fees come down," Kapioski said.
He first saw the Indivos system at a technology show in San Diego in January and expressed interest to Doug Mills of Associated Grocers. Mills agreed that Kapioski's store, at Southwest Morgan Street and California Avenue Southwest, could be the first Thriftway to try it.
Employees underwent 15 or 20 minutes of training in the system this week.
"They're excited about it," Kapioski said.
Kapioski said he's put about four months into studying the system to remove any doubts, and he claims "it's foolproof."
If other stores adopt the Indivos system, consumers would not need to re-enroll, because their finger scans and accounts would already be in Indivos' servers, said Jim Nickerson, a company spokesman.
McDonald's has done a limited pilot of the system in California.
"They love it because it takes the cash out of the hands of 18-year-old clerks," Nickerson said.
Nickerson expects a flurry of announcements in coming weeks of major chains adopting the system. Indivos' main competitor, Biometric Access Corp. of Round Rock, Texas, rolled out a pilot test of its biometric system in some Kroger grocery stores in Texas about two weeks ago.
Indivos has sued Biometric Access for patent infringement.
Kapioski said his store will not have to pay for installing the image readers, but will pay a per-transaction fee to Indivos.
Because Indivos makes its money per transaction, it is focused on getting its system into stores that have many small transactions, Kapioski said.
"They say they don't own Manhattan," he said. "They own the bridges to Manhattan."
Contact Jane Hadley; mailto:firstname.lastname@example.org or 206 448.8362
ANGRY YOUNG MEN PRONE TO PREMATURE HEART DISEASE; HEART ATTACK RISK FIVE TIMES HIGHER
Young men who quickly react to stress with anger are at three times the normal risk of developing premature heart disease, according to a Johns Hopkins study of more than 1,000 physicians. Additionally, such men who said they expressed or concealed their anger, became irritable or engaged in gripe sessions were five times more likely than their calmer counterparts to have an early heart attack even without a family history of heart disease.
PERIPHERAL "SWATCH" WATCHES ARE A POWERFUL FORCE IN BODYS CIRCADIAN RHYTHMS
The daily rhythms of the bodyonce thought to be strictly governed by a master clock lodged in the brainappear to be driven to a remarkable degree by tiny timepieces pocketed in organs all over the body. Whats more, these peripheral timepieces appear to be strikingly idiosyncratic in appearancemore like Swatch watches than classic Timexes. Clocks located in the liver and heart appear to use very different sets of genes to perform essentially the same functions, researchers at Harvard Medical School and the Harvard School of Public Health report.
USC RESEARCHERS FIND OZONE LOWERS SPERM COUNTS
Ozone appears to be harmful to male fertility, according to Keck School of Medicine of USC researcher Rebecca Z. Sokol, M.D., a professor of obstetrics and gynecology and medicine. The high ozone levels produced in the lower atmospherethe result of the release of pollutantsseems to be linked to lower sperm counts and decreased sperm motility in otherwise healthy, fertile men.
SELENIUM: AN INSIDIOUS AND PERSISTENT TOXIN WITH LONG-TERM EFFECTS ON AQUATIC WILDLIFE
In an article in the April issue of Aquatic Toxicology, a USDA Forest Service researcher warns that the impacts of selenium on freshwater fish populations may become more widespread as human disturbance increases -- and that long-term effects may be underestimated.
ULTRAPERMEABLE, REVERSE-SELECTIVE MEMBRANES DEVELOPED; NC STATE RESEARCHERS CREATE "SURPRISING" POLYMERS
Polymer membranes that "simultaneously and surprisingly" improve permeability while favoring bigger molecules over smaller ones have been developed by a team of researchers at North Carolina State University.
SENSITIVE MEASUREMENT BY SUDBURY NEUTRINO OBSERVATORY OBSERVES SOLAR NEUTRINOS IN A NEW WAY
A team of scientists from Canada, the US and the UK announced the results of a unique new measurement of the total number of all known neutrino types reaching the Earth from the Sun. Using data entirely from the Sudbury Neutrino Observatory (SNO) in Canada they are also able to determine that the observed number of electron neutrinos (the type produced by the Sun) is only a fraction of the total number. This shows with great certainty that neutrinos from the Sun change from one type to another before reaching the Earth.
LOS ALAMOS RESEARCHER SAYS "BLACK HOLES" AREN'T HOLES AT ALL
Researchers from the U.S. Department of Energy's Los Alamos National Laboratory and the University of South Carolina have provided a hypothesis that "black holes" in space are not holes at all, but instead are more akin to bubbles.
YEAST UNDERSCORES COMPLEXITY OF GENETIC VARIATION BETWEEN PEOPLE
Researchers at Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center have harnessed the power of yeast - a simple, single-celled organism crucial for brewing beer and baking bread - as a model to study trait inheritance and the genetics of complex conditions and characteristics at the most basic, molecular level.
REAL-TIME, MULTI-SCALE LOOK AT LIFE'S BUILDING BLOCKS: NEW POST-GENOMIC TECHNIQUE CHRONICLES PROTEIN LIFE CYCLES
Scientists have developed a new molecular-tagging technique to chronicle the development, movement and interactions of proteins as they do their work in living cells.
COOKING TOMATOES BOOSTS DISEASE-FIGHTING POWER
Cooking tomatoes -- such as in spaghetti sauce -- makes the fruit heart-healthier and boosts its cancer-fighting ability. All this, despite a loss of vitamin C during the cooking process, say Cornell food scientists. The reason: cooking substantially raises the levels of beneficial compounds called phytochemicals.
GALAXY CLUSTER SURVEYS MAY HELP EXPLAIN "DARK ENERGY" IN THE UNIVERSE
The universe appears to be permeated with an invisible force dark energy that is pushing it apart faster and faster. By conducting redshift surveys of galaxy clusters, astronomers hope to learn more about this mysterious force, and about the structure and geometry of the universe.
GENE STUDY DETERMINES HOW HUMANS ARE RELATED TO FRUIT FLIES AND NEMATODE WORMS
The most comprehensive genetic study to date concerning the evolutionary relationships among the three animal species whose genes have been completely sequenced--the human, the fruit fly, and the nematode worm--has determined that the human species is more closely related to the fruit fly than to the nematode.
NASA'S AQUA SPACECRAFT TO STUDY EARTH'S WATER CYCLE
NASA's mission to understand and protect our home planet will mark a major milestone this spring with the launch of the Aqua satellite. Aqua, due to bring us unprecedented insight of our world's global water cycle, is the latest sibling in a family of Earth Observing System satellites dedicated to studying the Earth and our knowledge of global climate change.
RESEARCHERS SAY TREES COULD AFFECT LAND USE, REDUCE SKIN CANCER
A Purdue University method to estimate the amount of protection trees provide against ultraviolet-B radiation may influence how communities are built and the incidence of skin cancer.
HUBBLE UNCOVERS OLDEST "CLOCKS" IN SPACE TO READ AGE OF UNIVERSE
Pushing the limits of its powerful vision, NASA's Hubble Space Telescope has uncovered the oldest burned-out stars in our Milky Way Galaxy. These extremely old, dim "clockwork stars" provide a completely independent reading on the age of the universe without relying on measurements of the expansion of the universe.
TROPICAL SCIENTISTS FIND FEWER SPECIES THAN EXPECTED
An eight-year National Science Foundation-funded study of New Guinean rainforest plants and the insects that feed on them has yielded a new and dramatically lower estimate of the number of species on the planet. The estimate, which lowers the number of species from approximately 31 million to between four and six million, is based on the finding that insects specialize their feeding not on individual species of plants, but on genera and even families of plants.
MIRROR FIBERS COULD CREATE PHOTONIC FABRICS
MIT researchers have created high-performance mirrors in the shape of hair-like flexible fibers that could be woven into cloth or incorporated in paper. Applications may include fabrics with embedded "bar codes" that identify the wearer, potentially useful in the battle suits of future soldiers; or a lightweight cloth that reflects radiation, protecting from blasts of heat. These mirrors could also be used as filters for telecommunications applications.
"INTERNET IN THE SKY" WILL GUIDE UNMANNED VEHICLES INTO BATTLE, AID IN EMERGENCIES
With an increasing number of unmanned vehicles taking up positions on the modern battlefield, UCLA researchers are designing a portable, rapidly deployable network that will allow these robotic agents to communicate.
COLOR OF OCEAN YIELDS GLOBAL WARMING CLUES
A green ocean is a productive ocean; the light from the sun helps the phytoplankton -- tiny ocean plants -- to be productive. This production in turn drives ocean food webs. New research, published in Science on April 26, assesses the color of the ocean and finds that many key ecosystem parameters describing marine food web function are nearly constant across the entire North Atlantic Ocean. The research is also expected to yield clues about the carbon cycle and global warming.
HOW THE SALAMANDERS CHANGED THEIR SPOTS: WAS IT, ASK CORNELL BIOLOGISTS, DUE TO ENVIRONMENTAL STRESS?
Salamanders with unusual, asymmetrical spots have been found in a pond in the middle of an Ithaca golf course. Cornell University biologists, who have compared the amphibians with symmetrically spotted specimens gathered from the same pond six decades earlier, believe they are seeing indications that changes in a salamander's spots can signal environmental trouble.
UTNE WEB WATCH
The Best of the Alternative Web
ESTROGEN GIVEN TO PRE-TEEN GIRLS TO INHIBIT GROWTH
by Suzanne Batchelor, Women's Enews
-- For years pre-teen girls who showed signs of becoming "too tall" have been treated with high doses of estrogen. Now critics are raising questions about the medical validity of this treatment.
THE NEW EPA: PROTECTING POLLUTERS
by James Pew, TomPaine.com
-- Pew argues why we should be as wary about the Environmental Protection Agency as we are about the polluters that the agency is supposed to be regulating.
THE POWER OF SILENT WITNESS
-- Women in Black are rising from obscurity into international attention with their worldwide silent, but insistent, protests against violence. The Scotsman uncovers who they are and why they keep on even as the group becomes the target of violence.
Links to the above articles: http://www.utne.com/webwatch
Sharon Wears Oppressor's Cloak (April 16, 2002)
What is the fundamental difference between Slobodan Milosevic and Ariel Sharon? The former is on trial for war crimes, while the latter still leads an occupying army.
A Palestinian fighter's version of the Jenin battle (April 26, 2002)
Bush Moves to Radically Overhaul Military Top Ranks
President Bush has approved widespread changes at the top of the U.S. military that will put in place a new generation of relatively nonconformist officers who are likely to be more supportive of the administration's goal of radically changing the armed forces, Pentagon officials said last night.
Former Vice President Al Gore Denounce U.S. Administration
(...) Important American values are being trampled. Special interests are calling the shots. And it sometimes seems as if, in the words of the poet, "The best lack all conviction and the worst are full of passionate intensity."
After Ferocious Fighting, Sri Lanka Struggles With Peace (April 9)
A planned press conference by the leader of the Tamil Tigers is the most remarkable sign of a peace process now gathering momentum.
Hear about the near accident at the Ohio nuclear plant?
I'm not surprised.
By Victor Gilinsky, April 28, 2002
You wouldn't know it from the bland pronouncements of the Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC), but the U.S. nuclear industry just had its closest brush with disaster since the 1979 Three Mile Island accident. The Davis-Besse nuclear power plant, located about 30 miles east of Toledo, Ohio, was operating with a rust hole in the top of its reactor pressure vessel -- a hole wide and deep enough to put your fist into. All that was left to contain the reactor's highly pressurized supply of cooling water around the reactor core was a three-eighths inch liner of stainless steel, and the liner had started to bulge ominously. If the liner had burst, it would have drained cooling water vital for safety and also threatened the reactor's emergency shutdown system.
The plant operator's neglect is bad enough. If this had occurred in Russia, we would be saying it could never happen here. Equally disturbing is the NRC's barely audible response.
The preliminary report of FirstEnergy, the nuclear plant owner, details what happened. During a routine refueling shutdown in February, the company inspected several dozen nozzles to check for cracks, as required by the NRC. The nozzles, located on the head of the reactor vessel, permit control rods to enter the vessel to shut down the reactor, quickly if necessary. A workman discovered the rust hole by luck -- when he happened to bang into one of the control rod tubes coming out of the top of the reactor and it moved. If the reactor had gone back into operation, as it very nearly did, the consequences could have been enormous in terms of public safety as well as the future of the nuclear industry.
It turned out that corrosion had reduced 70 pounds of steel, half a foot thick, to rust. The corrosion was caused by boric acid on the outside of the head. How did the acid get there? The water inside the reactor vessel contains dissolved boric acid, which is used to assist reactor control. Because boric acid corrodes carbon steel, the reactor vessel's interior is lined with stainless steel. The boric acid is not supposed to get to the vessel's exterior, which remains vulnerable to corrosion. But at Davis-Besse the reactor's water leaked through cracks -- it still isn't clear which ones -- and created a boric acid crust on the outside of the reactor head.
This accumulation and damage doesn't happen overnight. The company report explains the hole hadn't been found earlier because, "Boric acid that accumulated on the top of the [Reactor Pressure Vessel] head over a period of years inhibited the station's ability to confirm visually that neither nozzle leakage nor vessel corrosion was occurring." In plain English that means that the company watched the boric acid crust cover an increasing area of the head for years and did nothing about it. That's not all. Some of the reactor vessel rust became airborne and clogged the reactor building's air filters. The filters had previously been changed monthly, but from 1999 on they had to be changed every other day. The company's report says the possibility of corrosion "was not recognized as a safety significant issue by the staff and management of the plant." Obviously the NRC, which had inspectors on site, did not recognize it either.
How important is this? The reactor vessel head resembles a rounded lid that is bolted to the vessel. It's about 15 feet in diameter. The reactor vessel and the vessel head are designed and manufactured with exquisite care from special steel a half-foot thick (with the thin liner of stainless steel). The vessel and head of every reactor have to be monitored throughout their life to make sure that radiation has not caused the metal to become brittle. This is vital because the NRC licensed the plant on the assumption that a break in the reactor vessel is not credible. As a result, the reactor's safety analysis does not deal with breaks in the vessel wall. The reactor's emergency actions operators are trained to cope with breaks in pipes, not the vessel. Some safety systems might work for such a break; then again they might not. The problem was not studied. There would likely be unforeseen complications.
An obvious complication would involve malfunctioning of the control rod system that is supposed to stop the chain reaction in an emergency. There is no backup to the control rods for immediate shutdown. The plant's safety analysis considers the possibility that a limited number of rods, out of several dozen, could fail to drop. The control rod adjacent to the rust hole would have been one of these. But what about the damage that might be caused to other control rod drives above the head if a hole in the vessel unleashed a jet of steam and water coming out of the pressurized vessel? A telling sign that the industry understands the seriousness of the Davis-Besse problem is the silence from the Nuclear Energy Institute, the industry's lobbying arm, which is usually quick to spin a nuclear story. All in all, what happened at Davis-Besse was a narrow escape.
But that isn't the way the NRC has described it in public. The agency's spokesperson told the media that the rust hole didn't pose a safety threat. If the last bit of metal had failed and "allowed steam to escape," the NRC official said, safety systems would have immediately cooled the reactor. Anyway, he said, there would have been no danger to the public. "It's only when you get into the what-ifs that you would have had any leakage from the reactor cooling system." The man was talking through his hat. In reality, the NRC doesn't know what would have happened because the possibility has been considered too unlikely to plan for.
The failure to face up to reality reflects an unhealthy situation. Such spokesmen say what their bosses want them to say, and for several years, the NRC has been knocking itself out to please the industry. The situation worsened in 1998 when the NRC's Senate oversight committee, Environment and Public Works, with strong prompting from the industry association, threatened the NRC with a sharp budget cut. The NRC chairman got the message and revamped the agency's regulatory approach along the lines suggested by the industry. The current commission has by and large continued the same approach, but with a less experienced senior staff. The previous chairman had forced the resignation of the agency's most experienced and competent top officials, who had showed an unwelcome independence of mind.
Just before Davis-Besse's problem surfaced, the NRC gave the plant its quarterly rating under the new rating system. Davis-Besse got the top grade in all 18 categories. From my experience in two terms as an NRC commissioner, during which I visited most of the plants, including this one, I find it inconceivable that everything was fine at Davis-Besse except for one corrosion hole in the reactor vessel. If the plant managers let this problem go, they must have let others go, too. People working in nuclear plants are pretty smart and generally want to do a good job. But they stop asking questions about things that aren't right when they know what answer management is going to give them. At that point, danger lurks.
The NRC has investigated and has now asked other plants to check to make sure they are not suffering from the Davis-Besse problem, but on an unhurried schedule. To a greater extent than ever before we are relying for nuclear safety on the self-regulation of the nuclear operators. Most of them have done a good job, steadily improving their performance. But there are limits to the idea put forward by the industry that post-deregulation financial pressures make for better safety because the operators want to protect their investment. As we know, short-term bottom line orientation also leads some to overreaching, defer necessary modifications or neglect maintenance. Congress and NRC management need to acknowledge that private and public incentives differ.
The late Morris Udall, who as chairman of the House Interior Committee was the principal congressional overseer of the NRC in its early years, used to say that a forceful and respected NRC was an essential condition of nuclear power. It is still true.
Victor Gilinsky, a Washington-based consultant on energy, was an NRC commissioner from 1975 to 1984.
Planet Ark World Environment News
Lobbyist Barbour wrote to Cheney before policy shift - USA http://www.planetark.org/dailynewsstory.cfm/newsid/15697/story.htm
Wisconsin to cull deer in bid to curb disease - USA http://www.planetark.org/dailynewsstory.cfm/newsid/15688/story.htm
Dog stranded at sea rescued, US coastguard said - USA http://www.planetark.org/dailynewsstory.cfm/newsid/15705/story.htm
FirstEnergy hands NRC repair plan for Ohio nuke - USA http://www.planetark.org/dailynewsstory.cfm/newsid/15690/story.htm
EPA moves to allow mine dumping in waterways - post - USA http://www.planetark.org/dailynewsstory.cfm/newsid/15703/story.htm
Senate OKs major overhaul of US energy policy - USA http://www.planetark.org/dailynewsstory.cfm/newsid/15694/story.htm
Ethanol may kill Arctic drilling in US energy bill - USA http://www.planetark.org/dailynewsstory.cfm/newsid/15695/story.htm
Worries over water in Wyoming coalbed methane - USA http://www.planetark.org/dailynewsstory.cfm/newsid/15687/story.htm
Chernobyl victims tell world - Do not forget us - UKRAINE http://www.planetark.org/dailynewsstory.cfm/newsid/15691/story.htm
British scientists to probe climate change policy - UK http://www.planetark.org/dailynewsstory.cfm/newsid/15704/story.htm
UK farm czar urges govt to push through reform - UK http://www.planetark.org/dailynewsstory.cfm/newsid/15700/story.htm
World's top cruise operators issued with US writ - UK http://www.planetark.org/dailynewsstory.cfm/newsid/15698/story.htm
Irish take nuclear protest to British PM's doorstep - UK http://www.planetark.org/dailynewsstory.cfm/newsid/15692/story.htm
Court says Milan waste water not properly treated - LUXEMBOURG http://www.planetark.org/dailynewsstory.cfm/newsid/15708/story.htm
Japan government pledges to buy fuel cell vehicles - JAPAN http://www.planetark.org/dailynewsstory.cfm/newsid/15693/story.htm
Protesters disrupt Bayer shareholders meeting - GERMANY http://www.planetark.org/dailynewsstory.cfm/newsid/15701/story.htm
INTERVIEW - France's Bove says no choice but to vote Chirac - FRANCE http://www.planetark.org/dailynewsstory.cfm/newsid/15702/story.htm
5,000 march against Finnish nuclear power plan - FINLAND http://www.planetark.org/dailynewsstory.cfm/newsid/15689/story.htm
PetroChina plans two gas pipelines to Beijing - CHINA http://www.planetark.org/dailynewsstory.cfm/newsid/15699/story.htm
Huaneng to invest in China's Three Gorges Dam - CHINA http://www.planetark.org/dailynewsstory.cfm/newsid/15696/story.htm
Canada still mulling options to help fund Kyoto - CANADA http://www.planetark.org/dailynewsstory.cfm/newsid/15706/story.htm
FEATURE - Australian freshwater fish as unique as kangaroos - AUSTRALIA http://www.planetark.org/dailynewsstory.cfm/newsid/15707/story.htm
t r u t h o u t | 04.29
U.S. Envisions Blueprint on Iraq Including Big Invasion Next Year
Bush, Self Styled Education President | Slashing Student Loans
William Rivers Pitt | A Pressing Moral Imperative for the American Left
NRDC Going Back to Court to Demand Documents Energy Department Withheld Illegally
Edward M. Kennedy | Meeting The Education Needs Of All Generations
Security Council To Meet After Israel Denies Entry To UN Team
U.S. Expects a Wider War on Two Fronts in Colombia
Zell Miller to Address NRA Convention | Brady Campaign Reacts
Michael Lerner | Israel's Jewish Critics Aren't 'Self-Hating'
t r u t h o u t, is a non-profit independent news source.
Meria With Jennifer Van Bergen - USA PATRIOT Act
The USA PATRIOT Act (nothing patriotic about it) with Jennifer Van Bergen, who authored the series Repeal the U.S.Patriot Act on Truthout.org; learn what the patriot act means to YOU, as an American citizen or immigrant. How this mimics the 1996 anti-terrorist laws, which numerous federal courts declared in violation of the constitution; how it was rushed through Congress without time for them to even READ it; The new sneak and peek law that allows law enforcers into your home, computer, bank files, student records and more without your consent, knowledge or approval. Without you even knowing about it, before, during or after. Suppression of reading freedom; no more privacy in your emails or telephone conversations; how WHERE you decide to donate YOUR money could end up with you in jail; How Michigan is now under a police state; How the govt and 46% of Americans condone torture (yes, its being used by our Govt here and abroad); Why similar laws in earlier U.S. history eventually led to the civil war; How fear is instilled in Americans to give up freedom in the name of national security; how the U.S. Patriot Act is shredding our constitution (despite these very warnings by our founding fathers); Jennifer suggests and I concur that there should be specific parameters to define national security, terrorist and the like, yet there arent. There was a time in our history when democratic newspaper editors were jailed as anti-gov.t and now Ashcroft issues the same dictums to us not to speak out against the administration or support terrorists. Why then did our govt pay $300,000 to terrorists in the Philippines this month? Arent they guilty of supporting terrorists by their own words? Enemy of the State was obviously more than just a movie, as this US Patriot Act proves. Big brother is with us, and against us. The one world dis-order marches on. Many other countries have now copied this law and the situation worsens, yet national security hasnt improved. Without our rights under the constitution which this act nullifies, what ARE we fighting for? Read the whole series at:
I ended the show with some news: Drought declared in New Mexico, Colorado, Arizona, Montana and Wyoming and summer hasnt even begun; Live Deer & Elk are being banned from import by certain states (chronic wasting disease, skip that meat); Israel still defies the U.N. inspectors (people with nothing to hide, hide nothing); Bushs religious speech in LA; Bush says no to protecting dams and reservoirs (talks the talk, never walks the talk); U.S. soldiers in Soviet Georgia. U.S.Patriot act isnt protecting our water, food supply, nor us. Just another control put into place on the people. Write your representatives, educate your neighbors, before its too late.
"THE MERIA HELLER SHOW "- Now in Over 60 Countries!
SOURCES OF U.S. OIL
1. U.S. - 41%
2. Canada - 9%
3. Saudi Arabia - 8.5%
4. Venezuela - 8%
5. Mexico - 7%
6. Iraq - 4 %
7. Nigeria - 4%
Congressman Dennis Kucinich on Stopping Open Ended Permanent War
Sept. 11 Defendant Throws Case Into Turmoil
Demand to represent himself sets up appeal, public relations disaster
by Laura Sullivan, Baltimore Sun National Staff, April 27, 2002
WASHINGTON - This week's courtroom lecture by Zacarias Moussaoui, the only man charged so far in the Sept. 11 attacks, and his demand that he be his own lawyer could set the stage for a nightmarish scenario for both his defense and prosecutors, government officials and legal analysts say.
Moussaoui startled the federal court in Alexandria, Va., by raising his hand and unleashing a 50-minute speech in which he called for the "destruction of the United States of America" and warned that he would "fight against the evil force of the federal government."
He declared Monday that his attorneys were part of a conspiracy and said he wanted to represent himself.
Justice Department officials are reeling at the notion that Moussaoui, who has been denied outside contact for fear he could slip a message to other followers, might have found a worldwide microphone for al-Qaida and Islamic militancy.
Without a proper defense and with no assurance of decorum, officials fear the trial could become a public relations debacle for the administration, which had hoped the case would showcase the fairness and integrity of the American legal system.
Most alarmingly, prosecutors have begun to examine the troubling legal implications of Moussaoui's demand, such as whether he would have access to classified information that could aid his defense.
A Justice Department official said Moussaoui's outburst and request came "out of left field," and officials did not appear to be prepared for it. The government is seeking the death penalty against Moussaoui despite a largely circumstantial case that a defense team would have had the chance to undercut.
Justice officials, used to preparing for defendants who act in their own best interests - not those who try to martyr themselves - have been scrambling to figure out how to respond. Earlier this week, Moussaoui asked to speak with prosecutors about the death penalty and classified information, but prosecutors refused.
Legal analysts say the situation promises to be a problem for the government's presentation of its case as well. Inexperienced or unpredictable defendants who represent themselves in court can often make the government look like a bully - an especially worrisome notion for prosecutors who want, against the wishes of most Europeans, to execute Moussaoui.
Moussaoui, 33 and of Moroccan descent, is a citizen of France, where the death penalty is illegal. As a result, French officials have said they will not provide full cooperation to the United States in its case.
It's possible, analysts say, that the trial verdict might be less important to Moussaoui than the chance to stand in an American courtroom and unleash verbal attacks on Western society.
"There is a diabolical logic to firing his attorneys," said Robert E. Precht, a defense lawyer in the trial of the World Trade Center bombers in 1994. "Moussaoui probably sees his trial as a platform for his anti-American and anti-Israeli views. And his attorneys would have been an unwanted filter."
Without those attorneys, Precht said, Moussaoui stands a better chance of making a mockery of U.S. justice.
"Defense attorneys give legitimacy to the process," Precht said. "Without them ... a man representing himself will look like he was railroaded and not given due process. It's a public relations disaster."
From a strictly legal standpoint, Moussaoui's outburst is difficult to understand. Steven Lubet, a professor at Northwestern University Law School, said that defendants who represent themselves "have either an extreme mistrust of the system or are narcissistic."
"And they have two chances of winning," he said. "Slim and none."
Until Moussaoui's courtroom demand, the case against him seemed ripe for a competent defense attorney to challenge.
The government has accused Moussaoui of conspiring with Osama bin Laden and the 19 hijackers to carry out the attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon. But Moussaoui was in jail on immigration charges at the time, and authorities have not established any direct contact between him and any of the hijackers.
Jonathan Turley, a law professor at George Washington University who frequently serves as counsel in national security cases, suggested that Moussaoui's indictment hinges on incidents that might be explained away as non-criminal behavior.
Without a trained defense attorney to present them, the possible merits of Moussaoui's case might be ignored by the court.
"The defense, the prosecutors and the court are all looking at a total nightmare in this case," Turley said. "It could easily become a circus of the absurd."
Judge Leonie M. Brinkema warned Moussaoui against acting as his own lawyer but said she was inclined to grant his request if a psychiatric exam found that he was competent.
Prosecutors likely want Moussaoui found competent. If he were declared incompetent, Turley noted, defense attorneys would argue that he should not have to stand trial, let alone be put to death.
If, on the other hand, the trial goes forward with Moussaoui as his own attorney, Brinkema said she would require his current lawyers to remain at his side for legal help even if Moussaoui never calls upon them.
Still, the legal quandaries surrounding Moussaoui's self-representation remain murky.
The government would surely argue against granting Moussaoui, who is charged as a terrorist, clearance to see the classified evidence his attorneys had already been cleared to review. In some recent trials, defense attorneys have been allowed to see prosecutors' classified evidence if they swore that their clients would not.
The government has been putting this practice into effect most recently in the cases against detainees held on immigration violations in the United States and in cases against Muslim charities. But at no time in memory, analysts say, has the government tackled the issue of classified evidence when the defendant was his own lawyer.
A decision by prosecutors to bar Moussaoui from reviewing evidence as he prepares his defense, Turley said, would likely produce an automatic appeal of any conviction to a higher court.
The defendant would also have a strong case for having his appeal heard if he were frequently thrown out of the courtroom for indulging in diatribes and thereby missed some of his own trial, Turley said.
Federal judges tend to have little patience for efforts to thwart the judicial process and will remove unruly defendants or their lawyers, if only to prevent the defendant from engaging in outbursts that prejudice his own case.
"There's something about [the prospect of] calling for mass murder against Americans that will have a prejudicial effect on an American jury," Turley said, which would lead a judge to remove the defendant from the courtroom.
Whatever happens, the trial of Moussaoui is already off to a bizarre start, Turley said.
"It's almost comical what he did," Turley said. "He stood up there and called the judge a 'field general of death' and then asked her for a bench trial."