Monday, December 21, 2009

The Venus Project: Designing a Whole New Way of Living

Click on title above to go to informative e-book;

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

The venus Project: Designing the Future

A free e'book on a whole new better way of living;

Sunday, November 8, 2009

America's Dirtiest Vehicles

When it comes to pollution, these cars prove it's not just about fuel economy.

By Hannah Elliott

Just because a car has low fuel efficiency doesn't mean it's the worst polluter on the road. The Chevrolet Suburban and Dodge Challenger are some of the biggest gas-gulpers available, but they don't cause quite the environmental harm other cars do.

That title is reserved for vehicles that combine their poor gas mileage with high tailpipe and greenhouse gas emissions. Think along the lines of some of the bulkiest cars on the road, like the Jeep Grand Cherokee, Chevrolet Trailblazer and Dodge Dakota.

While fuel economy is linked to emissions, it's not the only factor. Pollution levels also have to do with the type of fuel being used and the age and condition of the engine, among other things.

"You can have a really fuel-efficient, dirty vehicle and a really clean, not-so-fuel-efficient vehicle," says Karl Simon, a director of compliance and innovation for the EPA's Office of Transportation and Air Quality. "It really is pretty wide open from a technical perspective."

Behind the Numbers

To determine the dirtiest cars on America's roads, we used air pollution and greenhouse gas emissions data from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.

The EPA rates air pollution on a scale of 0 to 10; the score reflects the amount of tailpipe emissions a vehicle releases. Vehicles that score 10 are the cleanest--they don't emit pollutants like hydrocarbon, nitrous oxides, particulate matter, carbon monoxide and formaldehyde. Greenhouse gas levels (carbon dioxide, nitrous oxide and methane) are based on the vehicle's fuel economy and are evaluated on the same 0-10 scale. That score represents the "relative global warming potential of each car," the EPA says.

For our list, we combined air pollution and emissions scores and then chose the vehicles with the smallest results (the greater the score, the more environmentally friendly the car). We broke ties by evaluating the combined fuel efficiency of each vehicle. (Driving a car that gets 25 miles per gallon rather than 20 mpg will prevent 10 tons of carbon dioxide from hitting the air over a vehicle's lifetime, according to EPA data.) We did not evaluate models that will end production after this year, like the Bentley Arnage and Mercedes-Benz SLR McLaren Roadster, or vehicles classified as "heavy duty," like the 3500 series of the Dodge Ram, which are exempt from federal fuel economy requirements.

We also deliberately omitted some vehicles that rated higher on the particulate-emissions scale, including exotics like the Ferrari F430, uber-luxury cars like the Bentley Continental Flying Spur, and high-performance variants from Mercedes-Benz's AMG line. Those cars have marginally worse emissions ratings than some of the entries on our list but are produced in such small quantities and driven so infrequently--on weekends or on racetracks--that they often don't contribute much to air-pollution problems.

Lonnie Miller, an automotive analyst for R.L. Polk, says it's OK that performance and design dictate the aim of those vehicles, while others emphasize fuel economy and practicality. There's a place in the market for each type, he says.

Repeat Offender

Even had we included those supercars, though, the Jeep Grand Cherokee still would have topped the chart. It scored a paltry three out of 10 for air-pollution ratings and two out of 10 for greenhouse gas emissions. The flex-fuel engine--prized because it uses a renewable resource that reduces dependency on traditional gasoline--on the Cherokee was even worse: three out of 10 and one out of 10 for the air pollution and gas emissions, respectively.

In terms of finger-pointing, however, it's not just Jeep maker Chrysler that needs to clean up its act. In all, cars and trucks account for almost one-third of the total air pollution in the United States. And while EPA emission standards have gotten increasingly strict since they first were instituted in the early 1970s, there's still a long way to go, especially at home: 60% of the entries on our list are from domestic automakers. The remainder are German; no Japanese or Korean cars make the list.

Of American automakers, though, Chrysler is the worst offender, with six vehicles on last year's "dirtiest" list (the Jeep Commander, Jeep Grand Cherokee, Dodge Durango, Chrysler Aspen, Dodge Ram 1500 and Dodge Dakota), and five this year.

It's important to note that each of the cars on our list are street legal--and much cleaner than anything on the road years ago.

"We continue to drive our fleet average even lower," Chrysler spokesman Nick Cappa said in a written response to the rankings. "Chrysler Group products are 99% cleaner than vehicles of 30 years ago and meet or exceed United States federal emission standards, the most stringent in the world."

Going Clean

Many auto manufacturers are making concerted efforts to produce models that are easier on the environment; most offer hybrid, compact or turbocharged 4-cylinder versions, all of which record low pollutant scores. Next year will see the long-awaited arrival of several low- and emission-free options, like the compact but "ecoboosted" Ford Fiesta and the plug-in electric Chevrolet Volt.

Some high-end carmakers are making considerable emissions efforts as well, but don't look to them for the latest in high-volume electric technology. It's prohibitively expensive and technologically difficult to get anywhere near the same performance out of an electric motor as a combustion engine, and aside from notable entries from Tesla and (perhaps) Fisker, it will be years before any meaningful amount of electric motors find their way into high-performance and luxury cars.

Besides, there's much to be done to improve the combustion engine, engineers from Bentley, BMW and Porsche say, either through increasing its efficiency or developing alternative fuels. Bentley developed the flex-fuel-capable, $245,000 Continental Supersports coupe for that very reason.

"We believe bioethanol is a really good alternative to reducing CO2 emissions," says Brian Gush, Bentley's director of chassis and powertrain engineering. "This is a renewable source, which will be growing into the future."

Simon at the EPA says emissions levels have indeed improved significantly over the last 20 years and will continue to do so. But with 40,000 Jeep Grand Cherokees sold this year so far, there's a long way to go.

1. Jeep Grand Cherokee

2. BMW M5

3. BMW M6 Sedan/Convertible

4. Chevrolet Trailblazer

5. Mercedes-Benz CL600

Click on title above to see the full list of America's Dirtiest Vehicles;

MercatorNet Needs Your Help Getting the Word Out

Defending human dignity on the internet. We stand for reframing ethical and policy debates in terms of human dignity, not dollars and cents or political calculation.
From the Editor

November 8, 2009

Hi there,

We've just finished the annual New Media Foundation conference (our first, actually) in Sydney. Our deputy editor, Carolyn Moynihan, flew across the Tasman from New Zealand, and I came up from Melbourne. NMF, the publisher of MercatorNet, among other projects, is a far-flung, virtual organisation, held together by proverbial bits of string and the internet, so there were apologies from our web support in Mumbai and from Associate Editor Brian Lilley in Ottawa. But most of us were there to discuss Future Directions.

As a subscriber, you are a MercatorNet stakeholder, so I thought that you might be interested in this.

In the editorial department, we feel that our articles are hitting the mark. (Do you?) However, we need more of them, and fresh perspectives on our central theme of human dignity. We welcome suggestions for issues and contributors.

We're a bit weaker in the marketing department. Over the past couple of years, we have raised our profile on the internet substantially. But we need many more subscribers and hits to lift us to a new level. Like the flu, the best method is viral, by word of mouth. So make sure that your friends have signed up!. But we also need advice in search engine optimisation, so if you are an expert, please get in touch.

We had other ideas, of course, and we hope to roll them out over the next few months. Lots of them involve volunteers, so stay tuned.

We wound up the week with some fine articles on death and dying. Carolyn Moynihan complains that too many of us are afraid of people dying slowly in nursing homes and funerals and Walter Pless reviews a beautiful Oscar-winning Japanese film about an undertaker. And Kevin Ryan, an education expert from Boston, rejoices at the demolition of Baby Einstein DVDs. The folly of teaching babies by plonking them in front of a television has finally been confirmed, he says.

Happy reading!
Michael Cook

Recent articles


Walter Pless | 5 November 2009

It's hard to infuse death with luminous beauty, but Japanese director Yojiro Takita succeeds magnificently in this year's best foreign film.Read more... | Read as text format | send me this article as an email

Toddlers and TV sets don't mix

Kevin Ryan | 5 November 2009

The folly of trying to teach babies by plonking them in front of a television has finally been confirmed. Read more... | Read as text format | send me this article as an email

On burying the dead

Carolyn Moynihan | 5 November 2009

The last of the corporal works of mercy seems to be in terminal decline.Read more... | Read as text format | send me this article as an email

Best of our blogs

While Republicans' attention is distracted

Sheila Liaugminas | 5 November 2009

The Democrats have quietly slipped a lot of changes into law.Read more... | Read as text format

Anyone in the House listening?

Sheila Liaugminas | 4 November 2009

Every chance he gets, Michigan Democrat Bart Stupak is making a reasoned argument for his amendment to ensure health care legislation won't require citizens to pay for abortion.Read more... | Read as text format

What makes people take a pride in their work?

Carolyn Moynihan | 4 November 2009

If there is one thing the financial crisis has taught us it is the need society has for people who take a (well-founded) pride in their work.Read more... | Read as text format

What was rejected and what was affirmed

Sheila Liaugminas | 4 November 2009

The citizens of Maine want laws to protect traditional marriage.Read more... | Read as text format
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Gorbachev did not tear down that wall Gorbachev opened the window, the human spirit broke free | National Post

Crucifix out, warming in It's official - global warmingism has court-warranted standing as a religion | The Globe and Mail

Misleading Indicator Will the Great Recession finally end our misguided obsession with gross domestic product? | The Atlantic

E. D. Hirsch's Curriculum for Democracy A content-rich pedagogy makes better citizens and smarter kids. | City Journal

Make life the only choice The cultural wind is in euthanasia's sails and the most unlikely people are heeding its siren call. | National Post

Cellphones, Texts and Lovers In today's world, the choice of a Prius can be a more sanctified act than the choice of an erotic partner. | New York Times

British mother asks court to turn off her infant's machine

Aborted foetus cells used to make beauty cream

My genes made me do it, says Italian murderer

Genetic tests used to prove nationality in UK

British IVF clinic makes worst mistake possible, says industry watchdog

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Tuesday, August 11, 2009

A Typhoon Brings Terror

August 10, 2009 11:29 AM

Marakot -- suggests beauty. “Marakot” is Thai for “emerald”. But Typhoon Marakot has brought pain and horror to Southeast Asia, in particular to a mountain village in southern Taiwan. One million people in China have been evacuated; 22 are reported dead in the Philippines; but on Taiwan, the storm spawned a mudslide that has buried some 600 people in the village of Shiao Lin. We will update as we learn more about their fate; in the meantime, click on title above for full story with vids;

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

China is now an empire in denial

Gideon Rachman, Financial Times (UK) (7-13-09)

[Gideon Rachman is the FT’s chief foreign affairs columnist.]

When the Soviet Union collapsed in 1991, it suddenly became obvious that the USSR had never been a proper country. It was a multinational empire held together by force. Might we one day say the same of China?

Of course, any such suggestion is greeted with rage in Beijing. Chinese politicians are modern-minded pragmatists when it comes to economic management. But they revert to Maoist language when questions of territorial integrity are touched upon. Supporters of Taiwanese independence are “splittists”. The Dalai Lama, the spiritual leader of the Tibetans, has been described as a “monster with a human face and an animal’s heart”. The Muslim Uighurs who rioted violently last week were denounced as the tools of sinister foreign forces.

According to David Shambaugh, an academic, the main lesson that the Chinese drew from studying the collapse of the USSR was to avoid “dogmatic ideology, entrenched elites, dormant party organisations, and a stagnant economy”.

It is an impressive list. But it misses out one obvious thing. The Soviet Union ultimately fell apart because of pressure from its different nationalities. In 1991, the USSR split up into its constituent republics.

Of course, the parallels are not exact. Ethnic Russians made up just over half the population of the USSR. The Han Chinese are over 92 per cent of the population of China. Yet Tibet and Xinjiang are exceptions. Some 90 per cent of the population of Tibet are still ethnic Tibetans. The Uighurs make up just under half the population of Xinjiang. Neither area is comfortably integrated into the rest of the country – to put it mildly. Last week’s riots in Xinjiang led to the deaths of more than 180 people, the bloodiest known civil disturbance in China since Tiananmen Square in 1989. There were also serious disturbances in Tibet just before last year’s Olympics.

In a country of more than 1.3bn people, the 2.6m in Tibet and the 20m in Xinjiang sound insignificant. But together they account for about a third of China’s land mass – and for a large proportion of its inadequate reserves of oil and gas. Just as the Russians fear Chinese influence over Siberia, so the Chinese fear that Muslim Xinjiang could drift off into Central Asia...

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

The World Future Counsil - For Sustainability, Justice, Ending Poverty & Working for Peace

Hans Lak posted an announcement to the cause Join and support the World Future Council;

Click on title above to go there;

The World Future Council, a group of 50 activists, politicians and thinkers from around the world, is focused on finding ways to prevent today’s actions from constraining tomorrow’s choices. The group just wrapped up a two-day symposium in Montreal at which more than 100 experts in international law explored ways to use legal tools, most of which are oriented toward doling out justice among those alive now, to avert what amount to crimes against the future.

These include such actions as driving species to extinction and adding long-lived greenhouse gases to the atmosphere in ways that have few impacts now, but could disrupt climate patterns, ocean ecosystems and coastal settlements in decades to come. In a news release, the council said that world leaders, through decades of statements on sustainable development, have pledged to balance current needs with the obligation to avoid impoverishing the future. “But the legal enforcement of these agreements is still very limited,” it noted.

In a news release, C.G. Weeramantry, a member of the council and former vice president of the International Court of Justice, described the group’s goal this way:

We are today using international law in a heartless fashion, for we think only of those who are alive here and now and shut our eyes to the rest of the vast family of humanity who are yet to come. This forecloses to future generations their rights to the basic fundamentals of civilized existence: acknowledging them as holders of rights in the eyes of our law.”

This harks back to a post here about a proposal for the creation of a government position of “ legal guardian of future generations.”

What do you think? Are we mature enough as a species to safeguard the rights of future generations without the threat of a day in court?

Hans Lak
One person can make a difference
Please add me if you like, and join one person!

View Announcement - Invite Friends

The Causes Team

Thursday, July 9, 2009

3M chemicals found in residents' blood

Tests of east metro residents shows 3M chemicals in their blood.

By TOM MEERSMAN, Star Tribune

Last update: July 9, 2009 - 12:16 PM

Sorry, nojustice - 3M Co. Class Action Rejected

Stillwater MN: (Jun-20-07) Eastern Twin Cities area residents tried to file a class action against the chemical plant for private and city … read more well contamination. 3M Co. made perfluourochemicals (PFCs) for 50 years before stopping production in 2002. The chemicals do not break down readily in the environment and allegedly build up in human and animal blood. 3M disposed of waste materials containing PFCs at two landfills in Washington County in compliance with the applicable laws at the time. However, the chemicals were later found in private wells in the Lake Elmo area and in Oakdale's city well. The lawsuit sought to force 3M to take steps to prevent further contamination and remove the contamination that already exists, as well as monetary damages. Washington County District Judge Mary Hannon ruled that the plaintiffs failed to meet the extensive legal requirements under Minnesota law to get the lawsuit certified as a class action. [LA CROSSE TRIBUNE: PFC WELL CONTAMINATION REJECTED]


East metro residents who drank water tainted with 3M chemicals have retained trace levels of those compounds in their blood, according to a new state health study. Scientists tested blood from 196 volunteers in Lake Elmo, Cottage Grove and Oakdale and found that levels of three compounds were slightly above the national average. Those eligible for the study had to live in areas where private wells or city water was found to be contaminated.

Study participants have been notified of the results, and state health officials will hold two public meetings to explain the findings and to answer other questions.

The compounds, known as perfluorochemicals, were manufactured by 3M in its Cottage Grove plant for more than 50 years until 2002. They were used in Scotchgard, Teflon, firefighting foam and hundreds of other products. The company disposed of wastes in area dumps until the mid-1970s.

3M agreed in 2007 to clean up the chemicals in four locations. It has also financed hookups with city water for more than 200 households with contaminated private wells in Lake Elmo, and paid for Oakdale to install special filters for a city well that was tainted.

Little is known about the long-term health effects of exposure to the chemicals. 3M has reported that studies of its workers who made the perfluorochemicals have had no impact on their health. Studies on animals have shown effects on the liver, thyroid and pancreas, but it's unclear whether those problems are likely to affect humans and at what levels of exposure.

The public meetings will occur on July 21 at Skyview Elementary School in Oakdale, and on July 22 at Cottage Grove's city council chambers.

Both meetings begin with an open house at 6 p.m., followed by a presentation at 7 p.m.

Tom Meersman • 612-673-7388

Click on title above for original article and place to comment;

Wednesday, July 8, 2009

Colorado River Infected with Deadly Virus?

A ProMED-mail post

ProMED-mail is a program of the
International Society for Infectious Diseases

In this update:
[1] HPS Arizona
[2] HPS New Mexico

[1] HPS Arizona
Date: Tue 23 Jun 2009
Source: [edited]

A Minnesota woman who died from a hantavirus infection may have
contracted the rodent-linked [virus] during a trip through the Grand
Canyon, authorities said.

The woman, whose name and hometown were not released, died 12 Jun
[2009] at a hospital outside Arizona, said Trish Lees, a spokeswoman
for the Coconino County Arizona Health Department.

The woman, in her early 50s, may have contracted the disease during a
family boating trip on the Colorado River in mid- to late-May 2009,
Lees told the Arizona Daily Sun, Flagstaff in a story published Tue 23
Jun 2009.

It was the 1st hantavirus infection case linked to Arizona this year
[2009]. One case was reported last year [2008] in the state, Lees said.

Hantavirus infections are contracted by inhaling infected particles
from mouse droppings and urine. The woman told health officials she
wasn't aware of any recent contact with mice.

Communicated by:

[A report in NAZ Today of 22 Jun 2009

indicated that this was a case of hantavirus pulmonary syndrome (HPS).
Several hantaviruses in the western hemisphere can cause hantavirus
pulmonary syndrome. Although this report does not indicate which
hantavirus is involved in this case, or in the one reported from New
Mexico below, most likely they are due to infection by Sin Nombre
virus. Its rodent host is _Peromyscus maniculatus_ (deer mouse, see

A map showing the location of the Grand Canyon in northwestern Arizona
can be accessed at .

For the location of the states of Arizona and New Mexico, in the
southwestern USA, see
and the HealthMap/ProMED-mail
interactive map at . - Mod.TY]

[2] HPS New Mexico
Date: Thu 20 Jun 2009
Source: [edited]

The state health department reports that a 65-year-old San Miguel
County man has contracted a hantavirus infection, the 2nd confirmed
case of the year [2009]. The man has been hospitalized at the
University of New Mexico Hospital. The state health department is
conducting an environmental investigation to try to determine where
the man contracted the virus and whether people may be at risk.
Hantavirus infections can cause a potentially fatal disease that is
transmitted to humans by infected rodents through their urine,
droppings and saliva [which dry out and turn to dust, which can be
stirred up and inhaled - Mod.JW].

The deer mouse [_Peromyscus maniculatus_] is the primary carrier of
the virus. Symptoms of hantavirus infection include fever, muscle
aches, chills, headaches, nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, abdominal pain
and coughing. Chances of recovery are better if treatment is sought
promptly, according to the health department.

[Byline: Reed Upton]

Communicated by:

A map showing the location of San Miguel County, in central New
Mexico, can be accessed at
Picture of deer mouse (_Peromyscus maniculatus_)

[see also:
Hantavirus update 2009 - Americas (06): USA (NM) 20090511.1753
Hantavirus update 2008 - Americas (22): USA (NM), Chile ex Arg.: susp
Hantavirus update 2008 - Americas (04): USA (NM) 20080308.0957
Hantavirus update 2007 - Americas (14): USA (NM) 20071201.3871
Hantavirus update 2007 - Americas (07): USA (NM) 20070621.2007
Hantavirus update 2007 - Americas (06): USA (NM) 20070531.1756]
ProMED-mail makes every effort to verify the reports that
are posted, but the accuracy and completeness of the
information, and of any statements or opinions based
thereon, are not guaranteed. The reader assumes all risks in
using information posted or archived by ProMED-mail. ISID
and its associated service providers shall not be held
responsible for errors or omissions or held liable for any
damages incurred as a result of use or reliance upon posted
or archived material.
Become a ProMED-mail Premium Subscriber at

Visit ProMED-mail's web site at .
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NASA's Kepler Mission: Search for a "New Earth"

Guess our gov't figures that when our own earth becomes un-inhabitable, It would be nice to have a "New Earth" in reserve waiting for us to take-over, plunder, pillage, exploit and destroy;Imagine that, disposable worlds!

Overview of the Kepler Mission

... NASA's first mission capable of finding Earth-size and smaller planets around other stars.

Importance of Planet Detection
The centuries-old quest for other worlds like our Earth has been rejuvenated by the intense excitement and popular interest surrounding the discovery of hundreds of planets orbiting other stars.

Click on title above for full story;

Friday, July 3, 2009

Can music change the world?

Here at Oxfam, we believe it can. That's why we've devoted an entire section of our brand new website to the work of volunteers and supporters in the music industry – including musicians (like Coldplay, Wilco, Angelique Kidjo, and Arcade Fire), labels, managers, and media – who are speaking out to support a global movement to overcome poverty and injustice. Check on title above to see who's involved, sign up to volunteer at a concert, and find out how you can join the movement.

Our belief in the power of music is also why we're out in force at major summer concerts this year, like this month's Bonnaroo festival in Manchester, Tennessee.
Go here to read a first-hand account of Oxfam's outreach work at the major music event.

Take action on the go

Nestle' Wars: Crunching the Environment / Food & Waterworks Needs Our Help to Fight Them

The Michigan Citizens for Water Conservation (MCWC) has been battling corporate giant Nestlé for nine long years, but the group is running out of money and time.

Can you make an urgently needed donation to help the MCWC raise the $10,000 necessary to counter Nestlé's deep pockets?

Nestlé, which is the world's largest food and beverage corporation, has spent a fortune in legal battles over the years so that it can continue to pump water from Michigan streams and keep profiting at the expense of the environment.

This fight isn't just about Michigan- Nestlé's approach there is indicative of its attidude about control of water resources, and a loss in Michigan will surely encourage it to continue its practices elsewhere. Six years ago, a judge ordered Nestlé to stop its extraction of 400 gallons per minute from a Michigan wildlife preserve because the pumping had a negative impact on local streams and ponds. Rather than cease the pumping, Nestlé appealed the decision, and has kept the MCWC tied up ever since.

Now the MCWC has only a few days to secure the money needed to appear at a court hearing this Monday, July 6th. If the group can't make the hearing, it may have to drop the case.

MCWC and its 2000 members have funded this lengthy fight by having bake sales, raffles, and garage sales. But now they face defeat, simply because Nestlé has been able to outspend them.

Click on title above to go to our home site and give to make sure the MCWC's hard work hasn't been in vain.

Your entire contribution will go to the MCWC, and Food & Water Watch will update you on the outcome of this extremely important matter.

Thank you for your support.

Wenonah Hauter
Executive Director
Food & Water Watch

Thursday, July 2, 2009

Update Iran: Protest Gains Support as Ruler Gives Warning & Makes a (small) Concession

Iran – Khamenei throws the gauntlet, the workers start to

By Jorge Martín Saturday, 20 June 2009

As reports are coming in about clashes between protesters and police in
Tehran, it is clear that the movement against the fraud has reached a
critical point. Khamenei’s speech yesterday threw down the gauntlet to the
movement and threatened repercussions for continued protests but the
organised working class are now joining the struggle against the regime.

In his sermon on Friday prayers at the Teheran University Mosque, Iran's
Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei threw all his authority behind
Ahmadinejad and issued a strong warning against those protesting electoral
fraud. He rejected any claims of vote rigging and declared Ahmadinejad's
“definitive victory”. He also accused the West of meddling in Iranian
affairs. His sermon had two clear messages. One, the Islamic Republic cannot
be questioned. He said that “The dispute is not between groups within the
Islamic establishment and outside the Islamic establishment. This is not a
dispute between those for and against the revolution. This dispute is
between elements within the framework of the Islamic establishment. And the
people who voted for the four candidates did so by depending and trusting in
the Islamic establishment.” This was clearly a response to the fact that the
mass protests of the last week have started to question not only the
validity of the elections, but the system itself and this is very worrying.
The fact that Khamenei, who usually refrains from participating directly in
politics and moves the strings from behind the scenes, has come out in such
strong terms is a measure of how worried the ruling class is of the
challenge that the mass movement poses to the very existence of the Islamic

The second message was a strong warning against further mobilisations. “It
is wrong for some people to assume that by taking to the streets, they can
pressure the Islamic establishment, and pressure the officials into forced
compromise. It is a mistake to make such an assumption.” And he backed this
with a threat:

“Street challenges are not acceptable after the election. I want everybody
on all sides to put an end to this method. If they don't, the consequences
and the riots should be shouldered by those who don't put an end to it… If
there are any consequences, it will directly affect the leaders behind the

Not only demonstrations are not allowed, but there will be riots if they
continue, and by talking of the leaders behind the scenes, he was probably
referring to Rafsanjani, as well as Mousavi. For a whole week, hundreds of
thousands and probably even millions of people have participated in what
they knew were illegal demonstrations, which had not been authorised, and
the regime was powerless to stop them. Now the state has warned that it will
not tolerate this situation any longer. It cannot, at the risk of
undermining the basis of its own power.

Khamenei's warnings were backed by further threats by the state apparatus.
Iran's Security Council (part of the Interior Ministry) sent a letter to
Mousavi making him personally responsible for what happens today, when the
opposition has called for yet another mass rally. “It is your duty not to
incite and invite the public to illegal gatherings; otherwise, you will be
responsible for its consequences.” The orders from the Security Council to
Mousavi are explicit: “It is your responsibility to prevent the public from
attending such rallies instead of making accusations against the law
enforcement”. They also repeat an accusation made by Khamenei in his speech
on Friday: the people are manipulated by foreign agents: “We believe this is
an organized network which is most probably affiliated to foreign-related
groups and deliberately disturbs the peace and security of the public.” Any
oppressive regime thinks that the movement of the people is the work of
“foreign agents” and “agitators”, not being able to admit that any genuine
mass movement of the people has its roots in social and economic conditions.
As if more than a million people could be led by a small “organised network”
of “foreign groups”!!

The Security Council letter is also very explicit on what the security
forces will do if more demonstrations are held: “Of course we have already
ordered the law enforcement forces to deal with the issue”. This is the

But, as a matter of fact even Khamenei's address contained a “carrot”, a
“concession” designed to offer Mousavi a way out, that of pursuing his
allegations by legal means. On Saturday, Iran's Guardian Council made the
offer more concrete: “Although the Guardian Council is not legally obliged
... we are ready to recount 10 percent of the (ballot) boxes randomly in the
presence of representatives of the candidates”. Both Mousavi and Karroubi,
the two “reformist” candidates, boycotted the meeting of Guardian's Council,
to which they had been invited, and only “conservative” candidate Rezaei
attended. Rezaei alleged that he had really received between 2.5 and 7
million votes, instead of the 680,000 of the official results.

The problem is that a promise of a partial recount is too little too late
for the mass movement, which in any case is not under the control of Mousavi
at all. In fact, many of the demonstrations last week have followed this
pattern: a demonstration is announced by someone close to Mousavi, then it
is called off, but as the masses gather anyway, Mousavi makes sure he is
present and seen by the crowds in order not to lose his “leadership” of the

Already Tehran is full of rumours of the mass rally this afternoon having
been called off. The “reformist” Combatant Clerics Assembly, led by Khatami,
has announced that since no official permission has been granted, “there
will be no rally” today. But even if Mousavi himself announced the calling
off of the protest, it is likely to go ahead anyway and he would risk losing
control of the movement altogether. "Often these protests can take on a life
of their own and if the leaders call off the protest that does not mean the
people will not come out on the streets and their will not be a resulting
crackdown," said Reva Bhalla, an analyst with Stratfor, a global
intelligence firm.

Today is therefore a crucial day in the movement. It is clear that the state
cannot allow the demonstration to go ahead and they will use all forces at
their disposal to do so. Any revolution reaches a point where the masses are
no longer afraid of repression and when repression might back fire and
escalate the movement. This might be it. There have already been indications
in the last week of protests that sections of the police were sympathetic to
the protesters. It is likely that more reliable forces will be used against
today’s march.

In a crucial development, over the last few hours we have witnessed the
beginning of the entry of the working class into the mass movement as a
clear force with its own identity. On Thursday 18, the Vahed Syndicate of
Bus Drivers issued a statement in support of the mass movement. This is
significant since this is one of the most militant sections of the Iranian
working class, having carried out a protracted struggle for the recognition
of their trade union organisation despite brutal repression on the part of
the Islamic Republic. The Vahed Syndicate had correctly stated before the
elections that none of the candidates support the interests of the workers
of Iran, but now, also correctly recognises “the magnificent demonstration
of millions of people from all ages, genders, and national and religious
minorities in Iran” and states clearly that “the Syndicate of Workers of
Tehran and Suburbs Vahed Bus Company fully supports this movement of Iranian
people to build a free and independent civil society and condemns any
violence and oppression.” (The Field: Iran Bus Workers Join the

But even more important is the action taken by workers at the massive Khodro
car factory. The workers at this car company, the largest in the Middle East
with nearly 100,000 workers, 30,000 of them in one single plant, have
already taken strike action on Thur, 18, in support of the revolutionary
movement of the people. In a short statement that we reproduce in full they

“We declare our solidarity with the movement of the people of Iran.

“Autoworker, Fellow Laborers (Laborer Friends): What we witness today, is an
insult to the intelligence of the people, and disregard for their votes, the
trampling of the principles of the Constitution by the government. It is our
duty to join this people's movement.

“We the workers of Iran Khodro, Thursday 28/3/88 in each working shift will
stop working for half an hour to protest the suppression of students,
workers, women, and the Constitution and declare our solidarity with the
movement of the people of Iran. The morning and afternoon shifts from 10 to
10:30. The night shift from 3 to 3:30.

“*Laborers of Iran Khodro*” (The Field: Iran Khodro Auto Workers Begin Work
Slowdown to Protest the

These two statements and the strike action of Khodro workers are indeed
extremely significant. These are two of the most advanced sections of the
Iranian working class, at the vanguard of the new emerging trade union
movement. They are expressing the thoughts of millions of other workers who
have not yet put them in formal statements. As Alan Woods explained on

“The working class has a power that can paralyze society and the state.
Without its permission, not a light bulb shines, not a wheel turns, not a
telephone rings. We refer to the general strike. The idea of a general
strike has been raised but it has not been carried out. This is the key
question!” (Iran: how can the movement go

The strike of the Khodro workers could be the beginning of a strike wave. In
1979 it was the strike of the oil workers which finally brought down the
Shah. It is the duty of revolutionary Marxists to give full support to this
movement and particularly to its most advanced layers, the organised working


June 20
Home » Middle
» Iran

Wednesday, July 1, 2009

OSI Now Hiring / Program Coordinator

Program Coordinator
Office of The Regional Director for Russia, Ukraine, Poland, Hungary and the Baltics
OSI-New York

Application Deadline: August 31, 2009

The Open Society, a George Soros Foundation, ( an Institute that works to build vibrant and tolerant democracies whose governments are accountable to their citizens. To achieve its mission, OSI seeks to shape public policies that assure greater fairness in political, legal, and economic systems and safeguard fundamental rights. On a local level, OSI implements a range of initiatives to advance justice, education, public health, and independent media. At the same time, OSI builds alliances across borders and continents on issues such as corruption and freedom of information. OSI places a high priority on protecting and improving the lives of marginalized people and communities.

Investor and philanthropist George Soros in 1993 created OSI as a private operating and grantmaking foundation to support his foundations in Central and Eastern Europe and the former Soviet Union. Those foundations were established, starting in 1984, to help countries make the transition from communism. OSI has expanded the activities of the Soros foundations network to encompass the United States and more than 60 countries in Europe, Asia, Africa, and Latin America. Each Soros foundation relies on the expertise of boards composed of eminent citizens who determine individual agendas based on local priorities.

The Office of the Regional Director works to advance OSI's grantmaking in the Russian Federation, and to oversee and liaise with national foundations in Central and Eastern Europe. We solicit and evaluate proposals from NGOs across Russia and outside, and closely monitor the social, political and economic environment in the region. Our areas of focus are human rights, civil society, rule of law and access to information.

This position will report directly to the Regional Director.

Work with applicants to develop and finalize grant proposals.
Draft/edit correspondence and memoranda, letters to grant applicants, grant documentation and dockets;
Monitor grants through review of narrative and financial reports and other communication with grantees;
Liaise with relevant OSI departments and programs to ensure that the program's grantmaking activities are conducted in a seamless and timely manner;
Liaise with national foundations and through country visits; perform site visits of prospective and current grantees;
Liaise with program consultants and area specialists to identify opportunities for new projects or prospective grantees;
Assist in developing grantmaking strategy, priorities, and guidelines;
Translate from Russian to English and English to Russian on as-needed basis; Monitor Russian-language websites and disseminate relevant articles to program staff;
Provide general administrative support to the program.
BA required; background in international affairs, human rights, and/or civil society helpful;
3+ years of work experience in NGO program management; experience working in the former Soviet Union a plus;
Excellent written and oral English, excellent Russian reading ability;
Flexibility and willingness to work simultaneously and independently on a wide range of tasks and projects and ability to prioritize tasks;
Attentiveness to detail and ability to work well under pressure;
Ability to travel internationally when required.
Start Date
As soon as possible

Commensurate with experience and ability. Excellent benefit package.

To Apply
Please email resume and cover letter with salary requirements before August 31, 2009, to: Include job code in subject line: PC/Russia


Open Society Institute
Human Resources - Code PC/Russia
400 West 59th Street
New York, New York 10019

FAX: 212.548.4675

No phone calls, please. The Open Society Institute is an Equal Opportunity Employer.

Click on title above to go to OSI's website;

Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Civil disobedience on the Yukon; Marshall fishermen ignore closure


June 29, 2009 at 12:33PM AKST

In an act of civil disobedience, fishermen in six boats left the village of Marshall on Friday to go subsistence fishing on the Yukon River, though fishing was closed, said one of the protestors.

The group caught 100 king salmon in their gillnets.

State and federal authorities have severely restricted king salmon on the Yukon this summer in an effort to help the struggling run recover.

Villagers along the lower Yukon say they’re suffering.

Commercial fishing for kings hasn’t been allowed, and subsistence fishing has been limited to two 18-hour openings each week.

King salmon has long been a staple food along the Yukon. Residents dry or freeze the fish to eat year round. Also, commercial fishing for kings usually provides one of the few opportunities for villagers to make money.

This summer’s restrictions are worrying residents who don’t have enough king salmon to last the year, said Nick Andrew Jr., a member of the Ohagamuit tribal government, based in Marshall.

Andrew said he and five others went fishing late Friday night, when subsistence fishing was closed. They caught three totes of kings about 10 miles upriver from Marshall, a village of about 400.

“It’s now June 29,” Andrew said. “Usually by this date everyone’s subsistence king salmon needs are met and on the drying racks and in the freezers and salted.

“But as we speak only 20 percent of the village’s king salmon needs have been met. It’s a bad situation."

The fishermen saw no wildlife troopers and weren’t cited, he said.

They returned to Marshall and quickly cut the fish for drying and freezing. Then they delivered it to widows, elders and disabled residents, he said.

One elderly woman cried when her portion was delivered, he said.

Andrew said the protest fishing was sanctioned by the Ohagamuit and Marshall tribal governments. Ohagamuit created the resolution and the Marshall council approved it.

Earlier this summer, Andrew, in a letter published by The Tundra Drums, said he and others would get their kings, even if it meant going to jail or getting a ticket.

“Our original intent was to protest,” he said. “We went out there all gung ho, ready to bear a grin and go out for a cause. The Lord provided us our fish and no law enforcement.”

Villages along the lower Yukon have had a long, hard winter that followed similar restrictions to king fishing last year, he said. Many Yukon fishermen blame the Bering Sea pollock fleet for inadvertently catching too many river-bound king salmon on the high seas.

Village governments have requested fishery disaster declarations. The state has said it can’t declare such a disaster. U.S. Secretary of Commerce Gary Locke is considering a request.


Alex DeMarban can be reached at 907-348-2444 or 800-770-9830, ext. 444

NC Boy Takes Deathly Ill After Dip in Local Lake

A ProMED-mail post

ProMED-mail is a program of the
International Society for Infectious Diseases

Date: Fri 26 Jun 2009
Source: WWAY NewsChannel 3 (North Carolina), Associated Press (AP) report

A 14 year old boy from North Carolina is in hospital with a rare infection
that cost him part of his nose and 5 teeth after swimming in a local lake.
The Fayetteville Observer reports that doctors at UNC [University of North
Carolina] Hospitals in Chapel Hill are treating the boy for an infection
caused by a bacterium called _Chromobacterium violaceum_, which was found
in Hope Mills Lake.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says that fewer than 150
cases have been reported worldwide since 1927.

The patient's father said his son is in serious condition but that
antibiotics are beginning to clear the infection from the teen's blood.
Doctors had to remove the left side of [his] nose and palate, and his
father said he lost 5 teeth. Brian McKinney said doctors won't consider
reconstructive surgery until the infection is gone.

communicated by:

[_Chromobacterium violaceum_ infection is typically found in tropical areas
and was first described by Wooley in 1905 as an infection in dead and dying
water buffalo in the Philippines (1). The 1st human case was described from
Malaysia in 1927. Most cases are reported during the summer months and are
commonly, as in this posting, associated with water exposure. The infection
may be more likely to occur in patients who are immunodeficient,
particularly those with chronic granulomatous disease. Most infections are
associated with multiple cutaneous and visceral abscesses and may be
associated with concomitant septic shock (2). This type of presentation in
a patient from a tropical environment and water exposure also suggests the
possibility of melioidosis (_Burkholderia pseudomallei_ infection).

From the description of the significant morbidity in this young man, it
appears that the organism has caused a necrotizing soft tissue infection.
Of note, a previously reported case of _C. violaceum_ linked to a (not
specified) North Carolina lake resulted in a necrotizing skin infection (3).

1. Wooley PG. _Bacillus violaceum manilae_ (a pathogenic organism). Bull
Johns Hopkins Hosp 1905; 16: 89.
2. Jitmuang A. Human _Chromobacterium violaceum_ infection in Southeast
Asia: case reports and literature review. Southeast Asian J Trop Med Public
Health 2008; 39: 452-60 [abstract available at
3. Brown KL, Stein A, Morrell DS. Ecthyma gangrenosum and septic shock
syndrome secondary to _Chromobacterium violaceum_. J Am Acad Dermatol 2006;
54: S224-8 [abstract available at
]. - Mod.LL

Hope Mills Lake is a reservoir in Cumberland County in the state of North
Carolina, USA. It can be seen via the HealthMap/ProMED-mail interactive map
at . - Sr.Tech.Ed.MJ]


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Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Fighting Poverty with Donkey Carts

Social Innovation: a Donkey Cart
or IDE-A Winner?

International Development Enterprizes (IDE) is premised on the belief that market forces are a critical weapon against poverty, a belief that amounts to heresy through much of the development world. In 1981 in Somalia, for instance, the International Labor Organization and the U.N. High Commission for Refugees funded a program to help refugee women produce sleeping mats, which the U.N. then bought for $4 each and distributed. When the relief organizations left, so did the market. At the same time, IDE was helping blacksmiths in the refugee camps build 500 donkey carts, which were sold on credit. On average, a donkey cart owner could net $200 a month hauling water and other goods, enough to pay back the loan in two and a half months. When Polak proposed expanding the program in partnership with the UNHCR, he was met with outrage—the organization wanted to stick to the old system of giving things away. Eventually, Polak prevailed.

Giving the Poor a Means to Work

Paul Polak and his company, International Development Enterprises, have helped 17 million people lift themselves out of poverty
by Jessie Scanlon

Most books about poverty are downright depressing. The figures—1 billion people live on less than $1 a day, according to the U.N. Development Program—are depressing. The complexity of the problem—poverty is connected to poor health is connected to lack of clean drinking water is connected to lack of education—is daunting. And spend any time at, say, the Web site of the World Bank, the organization that's "Working for a World Free of Poverty," according to its tagline, and you start to sense a disconnect between the experts' fancy "comprehensive development frameworks" and poverty-mapping techniques, and the daily needs of the poorest poor.

But one new book on the subject, Out of Poverty: What Works When Traditional Approaches Fail by Paul Polak, offers optimism. Optimism not just for those fighting poverty and those fighting to get out of it, but for any company interested in a basically untapped 1 billion-person market. That optimism is based on the author's real-world experience as the founder of International Development Enterprises (IDE), a nonprofit organization that develops and/or markets products such as treadle pumps and drip irrigation systems that have already helped 17 million people lift themselves out of poverty.

Founded by Polak in 1981, IDE is based on the belief that there are simple solutions to the seemingly complex problem of poverty, and that those solutions are based on enabling the entrepreneurial spirit of the poor. The logic of IDE's approach is so simple it seems ridiculously obvious: Poor people are poor because they don't have enough money; 800 million of the world's poorest earn their living from one-acre farms; those people could earn more if they knew how to grow high-value crops; to do that, the poor need access to very cheap tools—seeds, fertilizer, irrigation—and to markets where they can sell their goods.

Only Products That Pay for Themselves
Given this, IDE's focused mission has been to develop radically low-cost tools that will help subsistence farmers become small-scale commercial farmers. For instance, IDE's $25 treadle pump (a foot-powered suction pump) enables a family working two to six hours a day to irrigate a half-acre of vegetables during the dry season and earn an average of at least $100 a year after expenses. Other products include a $40 water storage tank and a drip irrigation system that costs roughly $200 an acre, four-fifths the cost of a conventional system.

Borrowing from the famous football coach Vince Lombardi, Polak writes, "Affordability isn't everything. It's the only thing." And so IDE only develops products that will pay for themselves in the first year through the buyer's increased productivity.

But IDE does more than design cheap products. It nurtures the private-sector supply chains essential for economic development. When IDE began promoting treadle pumps in Bangladesh in the 1980s, for instance, the organization recruited four manufacturers to produce the pumps by offering them marketing assistance. IDE also offered programs to train well-drillers to install the pumps and to educate farmers interested in using irrigation to grow high-value crops. There are now 75 small-scale manufacturers, 2,000 village dealers, and 3,000 well-diggers earning a living making, selling, and installing treadle pumps, according to Out of Poverty.

Taking the Focus Off Charity
If this focus on the market seems obvious, it hasn't been. As Polak writes, "Development leaders were outraged by my notion that you can and should sell things to poor people at a fair market price instead of giving things to them for nothing." But the case that Polak has made over the years, and that he makes in this book, is persuasive: The only sustainable, scalable approach to fighting poverty is to give poor people a way of increasing their income; to treat the poor as potential entrepreneurs, rather than as recipients of charity.

Giving the Poor a Means to Work
(page 2 of 2)

of traditional poverty initiatives gone awry: a program to help Somali refugee women make and sell soap that was so expensive the business had little hope of surviving once the subsidizing organization had moved on; a promised giveaway of 20,000 treadle pumps that never materialized but nonetheless put existing pump manufacturers, dealers and well-drillers out of business; the donation of village hand pumps that, when they broke, were never fixed because "nobody had assumed ownership."

For every failed initiative Polak mentions, leaders of the World Bank and the United Nations Development Program could no doubt point to a program that did make a measurable impact on poverty. But at what cost? "We have invested a staggering $568 billion in development aid in Africa over the past 42 years, and have very little to show for it," says a World Bank economist quoted in Out of Poverty.

From Maverick to Expert
Ultimately, the strength of IDE's approach is its return on investment. "Total investments by IDE and its donors…over the past 25 years were $78 million," writes Polak. "During the same period, dollar-a-day farmers invested a total of $139 million in income-generating tools promoted by IDE. Their investments generated $288 million per year in permanent new net income." It's hard to argue with numbers like that.

IDE's successful track record has transformed Polak from a maverick to a sought-after keynote speaker. IDE's measurable results have earned it two grants from the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation. The most recent, announced at the 2008 meeting of the World Economic Forum in Davos, brought IDE $27 million over four years to expand its micro-irrigation program in India.

A Broader Range of Solutions
While many development organizations still follow traditional approaches, IDE's success has inspired some imitators, and Out of Poverty seems to have been written to attract more. Polak tells the stories of individual farmers like Krishna Bahadur Thapa, a Nepali who increased his family's annual income from an average of $100 to more than $500. Such anecdotes are woven together with charts of hard data showing IDE's impact, and practical, straightforward advice for organizations, businesses, and governments wishing to follow IDE's approach. The book is part policy rant, part case-study, part how-to, and it is anything but depressing.

Polak, meanwhile, is moving on. In 2007 he founded D-Rev: Design for the Other Ninety Percent, a hybrid nonprofit organization and for-profit company that will focus on the 300 million dollar-a-day people living in urban areas. One D-Rev project, for instance, is a solar-powered water purification technology capable of delivering 1,000 gallons of marketable drinking water a day at an investment cost for an entrepreneur of less than $300. Projects like these will provide opportunities for those living in urban slums as well as rural areas. "At IDE, our focus was on increasing the income of small-acreage farmers," he says by phone. "I want to take what I've learned at IDE and apply it to a broader range of problems."

For more, see's slide show.

Jessie Scanlon is the senior writer for Innovation & Design on

Thursday, June 18, 2009

Action Alert for Mother Earth & BLMs Rule # 2.5!

There are 5 days until the end of the comment period on the EPA's Endangerment Findings report – a study acknowledging that greenhouse gases contribute to air pollution and pose a threat to public health and welfare. Seems like common sense, right?

Well, unsurprisingly, coal and oil companies have been rallying against this finding since it was first published two months ago.

This is our chance to fight back against Big Coal and Oil – and show that there is strong public support to fight global warming.

Click title above to submit a comment to the EPA in support of the Endangerment Findings.

But hurry! The comment period is almost over and we need to submit at least 5,000 comments.

This report is a huge step in the right direction for our country and our planet. If finalized, the Endangerment Findings will give the EPA both the authority and obligation to fight global warming.

The study notes that climate change will have a huge impact on human health – not only through the air we breathe, but also by creating more droughts, more heavy downpours and flooding, more frequent and intense heat waves and wildfires, and further harm to water resources, agriculture, wildlife and ecosystems.

We need action today! Coal and oil companies have spent tens of millions of dollars rallying to prevent this vital first step by President Obama's EPA. If they are successful, we'll lose the green jobs a clean energy economy would generate to the dirty energy interests of the last century.

Can we count on you to help us reach our goal of 5,000 comments in the next 5 days?

Take action NOW and submit a comment to the EPA in support of a report that could change the future of our planet.

Together, we can show that there is strong public support for change and encourage the EPA to take swift, decisive action to regulate global warming gases.

Thank you again for your support.


Michael Town
Campaign Director,
Interesting Side-Note: I was researching BLM policies regarding Global Warming when I came across this site for BLM employess only (MineInfo) . It is a "training" site where they are teaching their BLM students (and/or shareholders in minining exploration) to "Ignore Global Warming" and you would not believe their so many words, because it will not effect the short-term profitability of their mining explorations!!! Talk about selfish, uncaring motives!

Read more about the BLMs Rule# 2.5;

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Peaceful Homeless Protest - "Arcata Cops Gone Wild"

Sun Jun 14, 2009 9:56 am (PDT)

Eureka and Arcata California / Homeless Constitutional and Civil Rights Violations

"ARCATA, CA (September 2, 2008) A lawsuit regarding ongoing civil rights violations against homeless people on the North Coast of California has been brought against employees and police of City and County government and California Highway Patrol in Humboldt County. Actual and punitive damages, as well as declaratory and injunctive relief, arising from State and Federal claims are demanded by PEOPLE PROJECT Plaintiffs in the lawsuit filed in San Francisco's Federal Court. People Project, a cooperation of community members who are focused on human rights and building dignified community spaces as, with, and for houseless people hopes to prohibit the City of Arcata and other governments throughout Humboldt County from continuing their persistent harassment, abuse, and extra-judicial punishment of houseless people."


Click on title above to go to video;

Friday, June 12, 2009

NY to Gass 2,000 Wild Geese!

Click on title above to see and sign petition.

STOP NY's Plan to Gas Canadian Geese

NYC is preparing to capture and GAS Canadian geese from their public parks in an effort to prevent plane crashes. I saw it on CNN this morning. Has anyone else heard about this and can anything be done to stop it? Gassing is a horrible, cruel death! The state of GA recently outlawed it for animal shelters because of its cruelty. Even NY has a law against gassing of shelter animals. Is there no wildlife group that can be put on notice about this?

Call the people in charge of the killing and ask them to please find another way to remove the geese.....

Contact Information:

Allen Gosser

New York Wildlife Services State Director
1930 Route 9
Castleton, NY 12033

Phone: (518) 477-4837

FAX: (518) 477-4899

NYC: Canadian Geese to Get the Ax
June 11, 2009

Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg, the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey, and United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) Animal and Plant Health Inspection Services State Director Martin Lowney today announced a comprehensive set of safety measures to reduce the population of Canada geese near City airports and on properties owned by the City.

The safety measures include removal of Canada geese from select City-owned properties, new efforts to discourage Canada geese from landing on Rikers Island – which is less than one mile from LaGuardia Airport’s runways – and new signage in City parks. These safety measures are the first set of actions taken by the New York City Wildlife Hazard Management Steering Committee, formed earlier this year to coordinate Canada geese and other wildlife mitigation efforts in the New York Metropolitan area.

“The serious dangers that Canada geese pose to aviation became all to clear when geese struck US Airways Flight 1549,” said Mayor Bloomberg. “Thanks to the heroic efforts of Captain Sullenberger, the Flight 1549 crew, local ferry boat operators and the City’s emergency response agencies, no lives were lost. But the incident served as a catalyst to strengthen our efforts in removing geese from, and discouraging them from nesting on, City property near our runways.”

In addition to the emergency landing of US Airways Flight 1549, there have been 77 goose strikes with aircraft in New York over the past 10 years, according to the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA). The State Department of Environmental Conservation states that the Metropolitan region, encompassing New York City; Nassau; Suffolk; Rockland; and Westchester counties, has an estimated 20,000 to 25,000 resident Canada geese.

The City of New York is contracting with the USDA to remove Canada geese from approximately 40 parks, wastewater treatment plants, and various City-owned properties within five miles of JFK and LaGuardia Airports. USDA and City personnel will remove and dispose of Canada geese from targeted areas, including Flushing Meadows-Corona Park and Fort Totten Park, during the molting season from the middle of June through the end of July.

(Dov Gordon - YWN)

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

The Great International Land-Grab; Foraging for Crop-Land

Tuesday, June 9, 2009
Land grab site


GRAIN is launching today a new website that offers the mostcomprehensive information tool on the global land grab for outsourcedfood production: This new site is an improvedversion of the site initiated by GRAIN last year, which provides anopen, up-to-date and easy to search library of over 800 articles,interviews and reports on farm land grabs around the world published since the outbreak of the food crisis in 2008.

The global trend to buy up or lease farmlands abroad as a strategy tosecure basic food supplies, or simply to get rich, is not slowing down-- it is getting worse. The scale is becoming more apparent now, withresearchers counting some 20 million hectares of good cropland alreadysigned off to foreign investors, or soon to be, worldwide. Morecountries and corporations are getting involved, from Sri Lanka toCongo or Hyundai to Varun. Farmers' organisations, human rights groupsand other social movements are agitating against this obscene approachto feeding their countries, while at least one government – theRavalomanana regime in Madagascar -- has been brought down because ofits involvement in such a deal.

Next month, through a move by the Japanese government, which has a direct stake in locking down its own outsourced food supply, the Group of Eight most powerful countries are going to release a set of criteria to make these deals look "win-win". The words will be smooth,but people won't be fooled.
Like its predecessor, this new website contains mainly news reports,videos and audio interviews to help people track and understand whatis going on. However, its role as a public clearinghouse on otherwise secret deals will be stronger:

- The new site is open-publishing, meaning anyone can register and upload material.
- The website will contain as many land grab contracts as possible,releasing them into the public domain because the secrecy surroundingthese deals is unacceptable. (Please contact us if you have any such documents to share. Anonymity will be respected.)
- The website will serve as an active forum for debate and proposalson how to turn things around, with free and open space to write yourown piece, comment on someone else's or create new sections.

The site is updated daily, with all posts entered according to theiroriginal publication date. If you want to track updates in real time,you can subscribe to the RSS feed. If you prefer a weekly email, withthe titles of all materials posted in the last week, you can subscribeto the email service.

This land grab blog is an open project. Although currently maintained by GRAIN, anyone can join in posting materials or developing it further.
Further information:
- URL:
- Email:

- In October 2008, GRAIN published "Seized: The 2008 land grab for food and financial security", one of the first overall analyses of this new trend. It is available in English, French, Spanish, Arabicand Bahasa Indonesia.

- GRAIN also maintains a landgrab resource page bringing together GRAIN materials, other organisations working on the issues, andrelevant actions & events. There are also a number of land grab mapsfrom various sources.
GRAIN is a small international non-profit organisation that works to support small farmers and social movements in their struggles forcommunity-controlled and biodiversity-based food systems.

Click on title above to go to GRAIN site;

Posted by Rami Zurayk at 8:51 PM

Marine scientist calls for abstaining from seafood to save oceans

Jeremy Hance
June 08, 2009

Click on title above to see article;

Friday, May 29, 2009

China Guts Budding Civil Rights Movement, Harassing Civil Rights Lawyers

from the May 28, 2009 edition -

Authorities have effectively disbarred 20 key lawyers who defended Tibetans, Falun Gong members, and other politically sensitive clients.
By Peter Ford | Staff writer of The Christian Science Monitor

Twenty of China's most courageous and outspoken civil rights lawyers face being disbarred next Monday, as judicial authorities reject or delay their applications to renew their professional licenses, according to three of the lawyers affected.

Forbidding them to practice after a May 31 deadline would, at a stroke, decapitate the budding "rights protection movement" that is at the heart of activists' efforts to build a civil society in China.

"If these 20 lose their licenses it would be the biggest step back in legal reform for 20 years," warns Nicholas Bequelin, a researcher with Human Rights Watch based in Hong Kong. "It would be really very dramatic."

The lawyers who have reported problems having their annual licenses renewed have all represented plaintiffs or defendants in politically sensitive cases over the past year, such as members of the banned Falun Gong religious group, parents of children killed at their school desks in the Sichuan earthquake last May, and people arrested in the March 2008 crackdown in Tibet.

What they have in common, says Jiang Tianyong, who recently successfully represented a Tibetan monk charged with concealing weapons, is that "we do not take orders from the [government's] Judicial Affairs Bureau" about which cases to take.

Some, like Wei Liangyue in the northern city of Harbin, who recently served 30 days in prison in connection with the defendant, accused of belonging to Falun Gong, whom he is representing, have already been told by officials that their licences will not be renewed before the deadline.

"They are worried that I will take more Falun Gong cases," says Mr. Wei.

Others, such as Mr. Jiang, have not yet received official notification that they should send their license for renewal. "There is not much time left," he points out, fearful that he will be unable to practice law next week.

Dong Chunjiang, a senior official at the Beijing Judicial Affairs Bureau, refused to answer a reporter's questions about the delay.

Though troublesome lawyers have had problems in the past renewing their licenses, "this year it is more severe," says Patrick Poon, executive secretary of the Hong Kong-based China Human Rights Lawyers Concern Group. "These lawyers are taking up a lot of sensitive cases ... and that has touched a nerve in the authorities," he adds.

"More and more lawyers are getting involved in these sorts of cases," says Wen Haibo, who says he fears for his license because of his work on behalf of some of the 50,000-plus children poisoned by Sanlu-brand powdered milk last fall, among other things. "Somebody believes that if this trend continues, the situation will get out of control."

The handful of civil rights lawyers have an impact far beyond their numbers. Of the 120,000 lawyers in China, hardly any take criminal cases, let alone human rights cases. Only a few score lawyers have taken it upon themselves to litigate sensitive cases.

Even if all or most of the controversial group are eventually given new licenses, warns Mr. Bequelin, the affair "will have a chilling effect on lawyers, to deter them from taking sensitive cases.

"You can have all kinds of nice laws, but if people don't dare to take cases to court it defeats the purpose of having rights," he points out. "In China lawyers are walking on thin ice, and we are hearing some cracks that are not very reassuring."

Jiang and other civil rights lawyers say that their firms have come under quiet but strong pressure from the judicial authorities to sack them, or to steer them clear of cases that the government would prefer to see swept under the carpet. Earlier this year a prominent civil rights law firm, Yitong, was closed down for six months on a technicality.

"We are seen as unstable elements in society, and the government wants to maintain superficial harmony and stability," Jiang says.

Silencing lawyers, however, does not resolve the social problems that they bring to court, such as land grabs or other illegal practices by local authorities.

The ranks of civil rights lawyers have swelled in recent years because "they are riding a tectonic shift in the citizenry's view of the law," says Bequelin. "You can shoot the messenger, but that won't change Chinese citizens putting up more of a fight to defend their rights."

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Wednesday, May 20, 2009

The Artic Wars; Canada to the World: Hands Off!

May 16, 2009

As countries scramble to grab a piece of the Arctic, Ottawa is fighting back with an aggressive PR campaign across Europe. The message is simple: This isn't an unclaimed wasteland. It's active, it's a home - and it's ours

In London, the lions of Trafalgar Square share space with the towering image of an Inuit woman and her child. In Paris, an inukshuk greets people leaving the Metro. In Oslo, Ottawa is opening an Arctic political office. And in Brussels, officials are fanning out to promote the image of a cold, northern Canada.

The Harper government has launched an aggressive campaign across Europe to brand Canada as an "Arctic power" and the owner of a third of the contested land and resources of the Far North. Ministers and ambassadors have been instructed to deliver a strong message, through every channel available: Canada owns it; hands off.

This new assertiveness has caught European and Russian officials off guard as Ottawa pushes to fend off attempts by other northern powers and the European Union to claim stakes in the Northwest Passage and the open seas of the High Arctic.

While this involves hard diplomacy, such as Canada's leading role in a move to exclude the EU from sitting on the Arctic Council, Mr. Harper's officials have also ordered embassies abroad to mobilize their cultural resources to deliver this policy message, to create a visual image of a fully Arctic Canada.

The stakes are high. Yesterday, Russia released a report arguing that Arctic resources could spark military confrontations, and Canada recently released a major atlas of the Arctic, the result of research intended to back claims of Arctic land ownership under the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea.

"Canada is an Arctic nation and an Arctic power," Foreign Minister Lawrence Cannon told European leaders in Tromso, Norway, at the end of April, while directing his diplomats to adopt an assertive new language around Canada's Arctic possessions. Under his instructions, the new phrase "Arctic power" has begun appearing in communiqués and speeches.

The message for Europe's leaders and citizens is simple and abrupt: The Arctic is not up for grabs. "Through our robust Arctic foreign policy," Mr. Cannon said, "we are affirming our leadership, stewardship and ownership in the region."

The word ownership is key. As Arctic jurisdictional disputes make their way through the United Nations, Ottawa wants to assert its claim to be owner of a third of Arctic land, ice and water, as well as any oil and minerals that happen to lie below.

That is by no means a settled matter. The European Parliament recently stated that it is interested in an international treaty on the Arctic, like the one that governs the Antarctic. The United States and Europe both dispute Canada's claim that the Northwest Passage is purely in Canadian territory. France now has a polar ambassador, former prime minister Michel Rocard, even though France's northernmost point is 1,500 kilometres from the Arctic Circle.

And Canadian officials believe that Europeans are hearing a far stronger message from Russia, which has aggressively industrialized and militarized the Far North and claims ownership of the North Pole, than they do from Canada.

Mr. Cannon led the fight to deflect the EU's attempt to become a "permanent observer" on the Arctic Council, which includes the eight Arctic nations: Canada, the United States, Iceland, Norway, Denmark, Sweden, Finland and Russia. While Europe's ban on Canadian seal exports was the excuse, officials said there are worries that the 27-nation EU will try to interfere with agreements among the Arctic nations.

Ottawa is also about to open a Canadian International Centre for the Arctic Region in Oslo. This will be an overtly political institution, designed to counter the messages being sent by Europe and Russia. Mr. Cannon announced that the centre, which will also play a research role, will primarily serve to "promote Canadian interests" and "influence key partners" on Arctic-sovereignty issues.

Behind closed doors, Canada's relations with its Arctic neighbours are actually fairly co-operative these days, in large part because all the Arctic nations agreed last year to settle their disputes using the UN Convention on the Law of the Sea. While Mr. Harper and Mr. Cannon have used Cold War-style rhetoric to publicly excoriate Russia for its expansionist ambitions, in private Canada's diplomats have begun meeting again with Russia, after a period of silence, albeit to a limited degree. And Nordic and Canadian diplomats say that the Arctic Council members agreed on most important matters last week.

That is partly because the Arctic has become a closed club, and the new threat to its integrity comes from outside.

"Europeans need to learn that the Arctic is not terra incognita, it is not like the Antarctic," said Peter Harrison, who until last year was the senior federal bureaucrat responsible for Arctic affairs, and now holds a position at Queen's University.

"Many people in Europe believe they should take a role in governing areas that are not anyone's territory. Well, the Arctic happens to be owned by the countries around it, and a third of it is in Canadian territory,"

To get that message across, Canada is devoting a sizable share of its European cultural-diplomacy resources on highly visible projects designed to persuade Europeans that Canada is, and always has been, a northern-oriented country with a human presence in the Arctic.

This is partly intended to correct the image of an open and up-for-grabs Arctic that Mr. Cannon believes is held by many European citizens and leaders. But it also helps establish a "use it or lose it" principle under international law: If sovereignty is challenged in parts of the Far North, Canada needs to show that it has had an active state and citizen presence there. By displaying images of Canadians living and working in the Arctic, Canada establishes a "boots on the ground" reality in European minds.

This is the new public face of Mr. Harper's northern strategy, a government-wide campaign to expand and defend Canada's ownership of its share of the Far North. At home, this involves setting up military bases in the Arctic, patrolling the territory with aerial, satellite and human surveillance, and expanding into the thousands the size of the Arctic Rangers, a semi-volunteer force that sends "sovereignty patrols" into the Far North. And overseas, it involves publicizing this human presence on the ice as widely and strongly as possible, making it appear to be established Canadian territory.

At a meeting in Copenhagen last year, the major Canadian embassies in Europe agreed to launch co-ordinated Arctic-oriented cultural campaigns to deliver Canada's message of assertive Arctic proprietorship. Under the rules of the Harper government, cultural programs abroad must be used to advance policy goals, and Arctic sovereignty is considered a top goal at the moment.

This has led Canada to sponsor or organize a bonanza of polar events in Europe, beginning this season. In Trafalgar Square, Canada House has been given over to a widely publicized exhibition devoted to the art, people and general Canadian-ness of Nunavut; similar exhibitions are taking place in France, Belgium, Germany and Norway.

The message isn't subtle. Visitors are told explicitly that the Inuit dancers, sculptures, photographs and tapestries are being shown to "promote Canada's Arctic foreign-policy priorities."

It also means inserting those priorities into museum exhibitions. Later this month, the London high commission is sponsoring a major exhibition at the Royal Maritime Museum in Greenwich devoted to exploration of the Northwest Passage. The sponsorship is meant to deliver the message that the passage is now fully Canadian territory, not international waters.

Paris is one of several cities to play host to Canadian government events commemorating the 10th anniversary of the territory of Nunavut, including art shows and numerous visits to European countries from Inuit leaders. Governor-General Michaëlle Jean has recently completed a tour of Norway, and several other Arctic programs will be under way this summer across Europe.

These projects risk clashing with Canadian tourism and investment campaigns designed to show that Canada is a modern, urban country with close ties to U.S. markets, and with arts organizations that are discovering that non-Arctic projects are not a priority in Europe at the moment.

But the policy goal is considered paramount. The Russians have taken a leading stand in claiming ownership of contested Arctic territory, with President Dmitry Medvedev telling his country's military leaders last fall that Russia's "first and fundamental task" is to "turn the Arctic into a resource base for Russia in the 21st century."

While Russia and Norway have sizable populations living in the Arctic and considerable industrial and military developments, Canada needs to make a more creative claim of its presence there, officials say.

To that end, they have borrowed a strategy from Norway, whose Arctic agenda, beginning in 2002, set out to promote the Nordic country as a predominantly Arctic place. Norway devotes considerable diplomatic energy to promoting its Arctic image, bringing foreign visitors for tours of its highly populated cities above the Arctic Circle, and building institutions to bring Arctic nations together. The reason, Norwegians say, is that there is a worry that if they don't claim the North, other nations will do it instead.

"After the end of the Cold War, the relevance of the Arctic really fell to a minimum with many administrations," said Kristine Offerdal, a fellow with the Norwegian Institute for Defence Studies. "That's why Norway really began pushing the Arctic agenda so much: when our allies didn't have eyes on the region, there was a fear in the Norwegian government that our country would be marginalized."

The best way to secure its ownership of its Arctic regions, Norway's government realized, was to broadcast that ownership as widely and loudly as possible. "Norway felt a need to make itself more visible in the North, and to put Norway's High North region on the map in Washington and Brussels and other major cities."

Mr. Cannon's new language is, in some ways, modelled after Norway's. On the other hand, it often takes on aggressive, threatening, even militaristic tones, such as on Thursday, when he rebuffed Russia's study about military confrontation over the Arctic by declaring on a visit to Asia that he would do anything to protect Canada's Arctic sovereignty.

But much more of his money and energy are devoted to fending off possible challengers who don't own a piece of the Arctic.

"Much to my astonishment, there are still among some European member states people who think that there's nobody who inhabits the North, so therefore I've made a point of going to any international meeting, whether it be on Antarctica, the one that we had in Washington not long ago," Mr. Cannon said on Wednesday, in an interview with the Ottawa magazine Embassy. "Everybody previously said, 'Oh yeah, that's nice, it's the North.' Well, we're out there doing something about it, and, personally, this is one of my priorities."

Because they see this international attitude as a problem, the Harper government, and all its ministers, diplomats and officials, have begun a program to send the world a message. In part it is an encouraging, positive message, designed to contrast Canada with Russia and make us sound like a credible voice on Arctic affairs. Canadian officials say they want to project an image of Canada as a responsible, more ecologically careful and aboriginally oriented steward of the Far North.

But at its core is a far more simple and relentless message: It may be empty and cold and inaccessible, but it's got a red-and-white flag on it.

Monday, May 18, 2009

Protesters Picket Opras Studio after "Free Chicken Fiasco"

Even US News & World Report observed that promoting KFC whose chickens are held in "tightly-packed coops where the chickens are often unable to stand up or move," could be viewed as "hypocritical."

Outside Oprah's Harpo Studios in Chicago a day after the coupon offer, protestors held signs saying "KFC Tortures Animals" and "KFC's Secret Recipe: Animal Cruelty" showing pictures of bloody and Godforsaken chickens in a demonstration organized by Mercy For Animals.

"Birds raised and killed for KFC spend their short lives crowded by the tens of thousands in filthy, ammonia-filled sheds," say press materials. "Many of them endure crippling leg disorders and heart and lung problems induced by being genetically manipulated and dosed with massive amounts of growth-promoting antibiotics to grow to an unnatural size and at a dangerous rate."

Nor do any federal laws exist "to protect chickens from cruelty during their lives on factory farms, during transport, or at the slaughterhouse," adds Nathan Runkle, executive director of Mercy For Animals since chickens, turkeys, and other birds are excluded from USDA humane slaughter laws and not considered "animals." Hello?

Slaughterhouse workers confirm the cruelty.

The birds know exactly what is going on, they say, struggling when you take them out of their crates and shackle them upside down to the conveyer and struggling as the conveyer inches them toward the blade. Some birds miss the blade entirely and are boiled alive in defeathering tanks the chicken industry admits--two percent according to Gourmet magazine or180 million a year.

By Martha Rosenberg
Martha is a writer and cartoonist from the Chicago area.

Click on title above for article with videos of protest;

Thursday, May 14, 2009

War or Peace in the Middle East?

Subject: Will Obama do as he’s told?

Message from our good Friend Ricken Patel the founder of;!

Dear friends,

The Middle East is poised between war and peace as Obama prepares to meet Israel's PM Netanyahu. The only hope is for Obama to take a bold lead for peace, but Israel's foreign minister says Obama will do as he’s told. Watch and support the new TV ad calling for an Obama plan for mid-east peace:

Click here to watch;

On Monday, Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu will face US President Obama for the first time – in a meeting that could make the difference between war and peace in the Middle East.[1]

Ordinary Israelis and Palestinians still want peace, and polls show they want Obama to lead.[2] Experts agree that only such strong leadership from Obama can forge an agreement now, but powerful extremists in the region and the US stand in his way. Israel’s far-right foreign minister is even boasting that Obama will do as he’s told.[3]

On Monday we’ll find out – Netanyahu will ask Obama to take a back seat in a new flawed process designed to fail. We urgently need to show Obama that ordinary people in the region and around the world will back him to exercise a strong and fair leadership role – click below to watch the new TV ad campaign and help saturate the US airwaves with it in the next 72 hours:;

The situation in the Middle East is dire – the King of Jordan warned yesterday that there are only two choices now – war or peace.[4] Israel’s new governing coalition has extremists in the driving seat and is seeking war with Iran and Hamas, while promoting illegal settlement (a euphemism for colonization) and de facto annexation of Palestinian land – corralling Palestinians into small pockets and subjecting them to constant harassment. Gaza remains under crippling blockade, unable even to get the materials to rebuild from the destruction of the war. Palestinians have flawed and divided leadership and are caught between the corruption of the secular Fatah leadership and extremism among the religious Hamas, and small numbers of rockets continue to be fired at Israel. Ordinary people on both sides are losing hope in a peaceful two-state solution to end the 40 year occupation and conflict.

But there is hope. New polls show clear majorities of support for Obama to lead a new peace effort, and a recent extensive consultation by the Avaaz team in the region confirmed that on all sides people want Obama to rescue the situation with a fair peace proposal and pressure on both sides to agree to it. Powerful extremists in Israel and the US are determined to block this last chance at peace. Their new strategy: avoid directly opposing Obama, but feign a new interest in peace and bog him down in endless talks that are designed to fail.

We can’t let that happen. There has never been a powerful worldwide movement for peace in Israel-Palestine that can challenge the extremists and back leaders like Obama to do the right thing. Let’s get this ad on the air, and let Obama and everyone else know that this movement is coming:;

With hope and determination,

Ricken, Paul, Raluca, Brett, Raj, Alice, Pascal, Graziela, Luis, Ben, Paula, Iain and the rest of the Avaaz team.

1. Bloomberg, “Obama to Confront Israeli Settlement Surge in Netanyahu Meeting”:;

2. Avaaz’s own polls on this are about to be released – also see e.g. Yediot Aharonot poll, May 2009:;,7340,L-3715759,00.html

Hebrew University of Jerusalem polls:;

3. Lieberman’s statement that the US will follow Israel’s lead was made to Russia’s Moskovskiy Komsomolets – see The Forward, 22 April 2009:;

4. “King Abdullah of Jordan's ultimatum: peace now or it’s war next year", The Times of London, 11 May 2009:;