Town Hall Meeting

22 Apr 2009

America is 39th “cleanest” Country in the World

Filed under: — Al @ 11:03 am

That’s 39th out of a possible 149, which means the US is in the 74th percentile, a weak “C” grade. On this Earth Day, this recent report is important to think about. Remember that April 22, 1970, 20 million Americans demonstrated to demand fixing the horribly polluted environment in the US, the largest demonstration in US history. Nixon was forced to create the EPA because of all this pressure. Starting with Nixon though, each administration did its best to undermine the EPA’s mission and make sure corporations could profit despite disastrous pollution: the result, we are 39th, just behind Uruguay, and just ahead of Greece.

Study by Columbia and Yale…

The U.S., once a leader in environmental protection, has failed to keep pace. “Starting 25 years ago, the United States started to fall behind in relative terms. Before that time, Europe always had dirtier air and drinking water,” says Mark Levy, associate director of Columbia University’s earth science center. Then-President George H. W. Bush signed the last significant American air quality legislation in 1990, an amendment to the Clean Air Act. The U.S. scores a meager 63.5 on the ecosystem vitality scale, vs. an average score of 74.2 for the world’s richest nations. The U.S.’ overall EPI score is 81, putting it in 39th place on the list.

Here are two examples of countries ahead of the US:

Switzerland, Score: 95.5 No. 1 Overall
The world’s fifth most affluent nation on a GDP-per-capita basis is also the world’s cleanest. Switzerland scores a perfect 100 in eight environmental indicators, including sanitation and water quality, forest health and pesticide regulation. All that cleanliness translates into a life expectancy of 81 years for the Swiss. But Switzerland’s mountainous landscape forces farmers to grow crops on every slope and in every cranny, reducing the country to a merely average score in agricultural practices.

Japan, Score: 84.5 No. 21 Overall
Japan’s life expectancy of 82.12 years is the world’s longest, due in part to the country’s excellent sanitation infrastructure, avoidance of chemical pesticides and relatively low levels of air pollution. Japan even gets a perfect score of 100 for its efforts to conserve forests. But overfishing of coastal waters earns Japan a score of 81.6 for the measure of marine biodiversity, vs. 88.8 for its regional peers.

You can find the source material for the Columbia/Yale study at these two sites:
http://sedac.ciesin.columbia.edu/es/epi/downloads.html
http://epi.yale.edu/CountryScores

Check out this brand new Frontline report on the health of America’s waterways.

Use those canvas bags when going shopping, we’ve got a looong way to go!! :)

20 Apr 2009

Obama Continues Bush Policy: Deny Prisoners Habeas Corpus

Filed under: — Al @ 12:08 pm

Call me what you will, but I draw the line at habeas corpus. This can’t stand, it is so disappointing. Obama was a Professor of Constitutional Law too!

http://www.salon.com/opinion/greenwald/2009/04/11/bagram/index.html

I recommend reading the whole thing, but here’s my summary…The story is about how Obama is continuing Bush’s policy of NOT providing Habeas Corpus to detainees in Bagram Air Force Base in Afghanistan. And these prisoners are not just from the battlefield there, they are flown to this base from all over the world because they can be sent there forever. The Supreme Court said in June 2008 that prisoners in Guantanamo have a right to have a hearing to determine their guilt and challenge their detention (habeas corpus), so Bush just started sending guys to Bagram instead. Obama then in February filed a brief in federal court stating that he embraced this plan. Then a conservative federal judge, in March 2009, rejected Obama’s petition and said the Supreme Court ruling from 2008 applies to Bagram in addition to Guantanamo because the prisoners were foreign citizens caught elsewhere and just brought to Bagram to be detained. At the time of the June 2008 ruling, it was the height of the Presidential campaign, and you may recall that was when candidate-McCain called it one of the worst ruling in the history of the Supreme Court (this was laughable, try Plessy v Ferguson!). At the same time, candidate-Obama did the right thing and said the decision was great, and that it shows we can try and convict alleged terrorists using our tried and true justice system.

The most sickening part to me is how by doing this, all the lives lost fighting to get the right of habeas corpus over the centuries for all citizens are now looking like they were wasted by these actions. I highly recommend reading the “update” at the bottom of Greenwald’s report too…we can’t start saying things like: “I’m sure Obama has a good reason for it” which is exactly what Bush’s fan’s were saying all along.

14 Apr 2009

Pirates and the 21st Century

Did anyone know that the 3 pirates killed by the US military were aged 17-19? Check out this interview by Davey D (Oakland representin) of K’naan a Somalian rapper, poet, activist about piracy. Again, what a novel journalistic technique: interview someone who is from the country you are reporting about! The largest point is the mass media omission of the fact that nuclear waste is being dumped into the ocean off the Somalian coast.

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