Sunday, August 14, 2005

Evidence that the Bush Administration is Suppressing Science

This is from the Audibon magazine, May-June 2005

The Big Chill

Last February, 62 distinguished scientists, 20 Nobel laureates among them, charged the Bush administration with "manipulation of the process through wich science enters into its decisions." To discover the extent of the abuse, the Union of Concerned Scientists teamed up with Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility to survey 1,600 scientists in the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. Nearly 30 percent responded, despite agency directives not to. They spoke of a "climate of fear" at the USFWS--fear of the loss of jobs or of program funding. At a subsequent Congressional hearing, Representative Norman Dicks (D-WA) excoriated departed USFWS director Steve WIlliams: "You are letting political appointees beat up on biologists, so they are intimidated and can't dod their job for habitat and species." Nine of 10 managers cited cases where political appointees and members of Congress injected themselves into scientific determinations. Half knew of cases in which commercial interests caused the reversal or withdrawal of scientific conclusions.

Many called for the removal of Julia MacDonald, an Interior Department appointee who recently claimed that historical records of millions of sage grouse were "simply a fairy tale" and that the birds did not depend on sagebrush for survival. "They will eat other stuff if it is available," she said. As a result, this endangered bird has been denied protection under the Endangered Species Act, while its habitat continues to be destroyed by commercial interests--gas drilling, mining, and development. Click here for the full report.

Survey of U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Scientists

Scientific Findings:
Commercial Interference....56%
Interior Department interference....70%

Resources and Morale:
Insufficient Resources....92%
Inaddequate Funding...85%

Effect on Scientific Candor:
Fear of Retaliation....42%
Ordered to Mislead Public....19%

Thursday, August 11, 2005

It's Hard to be a Pacifist with So Many Stupid People in this World

California Senator Barbara Boxer (the only one who stood up for the voting rights of millions of Ohioans whose votes weren't counted during the 2004 election) sent me a link to a site where I could ask Supreme Court Justice-to-be John Roberts a question.

So I asked:

I was curious why abortion is such a clear, important issue to you, yet desegregation of schools, protection of endangered species, and even the protection of the lives of doctors in abortion clinics is not.
Unborn children must be left alive, but children who are already on this Earth have no right to privacy or protection under the law? Should a twelve year old girl really go to jail for eating a frenchfry? Should a child be forced to participate in a religious activity that s/he doesn't believe in, just because s/he wants to attend his/her own graduation ceremony?

These are all in response to some of his seriously reactionary stances as a judge on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit for only two years. Before that, he was a corporate law firm lawyer for most of his career. * He has tried to make it as hard as possible to further the desegregation of schools, and approved of D.C.'s harsh handling of a twelve-year-old girl who ate one french fry on a train (she was then handcuffed, arrested, and taken into a windowless police vehicle). * He argues against laws that limit sex discrimination. He supported abortion clinic protestors who bombed abortion clinics.
Okay, it's one thing to be "pro-life". It's another thing entirely when you are opposed to the destruction of a creature that hasn't even passed the reptilian stage of development, but okay with the destruction of human lives. It's okay, as long as they perform abortions, they deserve it. What kind of logic is that?
Worst of all, I know some "progressives" who actually tell me to calm down about Roberts. "Bush is going to nominate a Right-Winger for the Supreme Court, anyway, so be glad it's him." Yes, that's a good attitude. Hitler was going to kill millions of Jews either way, so be glad it was only six million. "There's nothing we can do about it." Okay, so go SIT ON YOUR FUCKING ASS and tell me I'm being naive by thinking we should do something to change it!!!! UGH!!!! I'm through with this foul country!!!!

* Information I got from NARAL and People for the American Way

Friday, July 08, 2005

The Maori Intentional Community Ecovillage Commune Pig Farms for Free-Loving Hippies Escaping the Brutal Capitalist, War-mongering System

Okay, a little fun-pokey at the hippie community, which includes I. And yes, I am aware of my incorrect grammar. I originally wrote the title in an email to my parents, making fun of them for going off to New Zealand in search of Utopia. Okay, not really Utopia, just something better than the US, which in itself isn't saying much, but New Zealand is saying plenty. I want to go there.
So I'm staying up until 4 AM writing in my blog, and I've got all this anger built up inside of me, and I don't know what to do. Writing politics, venting, complaining about the rich fucks--it's all fine and dandy, until you ask me what I want to do with my life. Why, I want to save the world, of course! Oh, you mean something more specific? Could I be an iconic socialist-environmentalist human rights leader who also writes fiction novels in her spare time? Okay, cool, I got my life set out for me! Too bad we don't get to live a hundred lives. But really, if you honestly want to know what I want to do as a career, that's honestly it. Now, it's time to narrow it down a bit. I got some of that done already. I know the novelist part is going to have to just be a hobby, if anything at all. I'm majoring in Ecology and Peace Studies at Antioch College. I could work for a non-profit or non-governmental organization and try to build a coalition with other NGOs through mine, but fist, I'd have to work my way up into a high position in that organization. What organization would that be? Well, my dream would be to work for the UN. UN Environmental Programme (UNEP), to be exact. I guess that's political; policy building and stuff. I'd love to do that, but I also want to build coaltions. Maybe I could volunteer at some NGOs, and build a coalition that way? I don't know, but I'd better figure it out before I go to graduate school.
I know I'm just getting all these silly retail jobs, because maybe I'm scared to try my full potential. I know I'm better than that. I shied away from the Clean Water Action job, but it really was stressful. My mother thought I could handle it. I honestly don't know, but she seems to think that I need to get a job with that kind of stress in order to show my full potential. I think the kind of job at the UUA would be perfect, and not nearly as stressful as going door-to-door, depending on a daily quota that will possibly get me fired. I think that was the most stressful part of all. If there hadn't been a quota, I may have been fine. But I can't just pretend there isn't a quota.
Well, time to play some Snood and Chowder. And then sleep, get up tomorrow, go shopping, do laundary, more dishes, water plants, call psychiatrist and doctor and dentist and the co-op office at Antioch. Well, I promised myself I'd make a list, and I think I just did.

Tuesday, July 05, 2005

Have You Seen the Little Piggies?

I had an argument the other day with a guy about how to bring about real change. He was saying change has to happen outside the system, because otherwise we will just be contributing to and perpetuating the current system. But in order to feel that way, you must see everything in the current system as inherently flawed. Our nonprofit and nongovernmental organizations have quite a bit of redeeming value, and if we dismiss all the change and effort going on within the system, we're losing a lot of power.
We can't all just split off into little intentional communities. There are many misinformed and uneducated people out there who we'd be leaving out. People in ghettos who can't afford to move, and "Poor White Trash" who don't know better than to follow Bush's every word, but are actually good-hearted people, would be left behind in the mess.
One part of the system, capitalism, is inherently flawed, because it is individualistic, and humans are collectivists by nature. For hundreds of thousands of years, we have worked within societies with collectivist states of mind. We are social creatures; taking ourselves out of the collective social structure to rely on individualism (and, therefore, ourselves individually) is unnatural and destructive. It has led us to the "each man for himself" mentality, along with patriarchy, apathy, and dwindeling compassion.
It appalls me and shocks me to see so many people think of individualistic, selfish lifestyles as "normal". "Why would I want to donate that dollar to charity? I'm using it to go out to eat." "Electric-hybrid car? Psshht, I'll take a luxury car instead."
At the same time, we're (or some of us are) struggling back toward that collectivist, help-your-neighbor mentality. Why are hybrid cars in such high demand if they aren't an economic investment, at least not right now? Because, they're ecologically sustainable, and more and more people are beginning to care. People feel bad when they say no to charitable donations.

Have You Seen the Little Piggies?

Everywhere there's lots of piggies
Living piggy lives
You can see them out for dinner
With their piggy wives
Clutching forks and knives to eat their bacon

What I find the most amazing, yet not surprising, is that at my work, the people who donate the most to "Stars of Hope" (charities that help children with cancer, other debilitating illness, and provide after-school care) are the people in the lower classes. The more obvious it is that someone is rich, the less likely they are to donate. I'd say black people donate the most. Old, rich white people and Asians donate the least. There was one guy who, in response to my asking for a one dollar donation, said, "Am I wearing my wealthy shirt today?" sarcastically. What an idiot! Do you have to be wealthy in order to donate a dollar, especially when you're already spending a ridiculous amount of money to go to the movies? "I'm trying to save up. I don't spend my money on anything." Well then, don't go to the movies! Hello!
I just can't believe all the ungrateful little assholes out there, with their, "Get a job, you lazy bum!" and "The Government's stealing my money for those lazy bastards!" Meanwhile, the Government's stealing our money to make bombs and bombs and...more bombs, and did I mention bombs? And while they spend so much on defense, they don't spend anything on protecting those soldiers, most of whom are lower-class. The only way for them to pay their ways through college is to join the military...if they survive, that is. You wanna know what the lazy poor people are doing for this country? They're doing all the dirty work, going out and risking their lives in the name of "freedom", and many of them soon discover it is really in the name of a couple more years till Peak Oil. How dare we pacifists want them to come home, when they're out there fighting for our oil! Those Republicans really are the ones "supporting" our troops, by keeping them in Iraq! That's what "supporting" means, didn't you know? Supporting is Killing. War is Peace. Freedom is Slavery. Preach on, Bush, preach on!

In their eyes there's something lacking
What they need's a damn good whacking

Thursday, May 19, 2005

Take the Fruity Commie Pinko Liberal Test

Fruity Commie Pinko Liberal Test
This test was created to determine those who I believe are more "liberal" from those who are not. I use what I believe to be indicators as to whether or not someone is liberal. For example, I do not find it to be a particularly liberal ideology to be in favor of the war in Iraq. Because countries like the US and England have their own problems, and reasons for attacking Iraq, and because I do not see our role as being better for the Iraqi people than Saddam Hussein was (despite the monster that he was), I find it hard to agree with the arguments for invading that country (i.e. we were liberating the people). It is very obvious to me that the people (some of whom I have talked to) in Iraq are actually worse off now than they were with Hussein, even though most of them hated him. Coupled with my opinion that the US has its own version of a progressively more fascist dictator, I cannot agree with any reasons to attack Iraq.

Saturday, May 14, 2005

Environmentalism Needs to Stop Being a Class Issue

It’s very easy for environmentalists like me to sometimes become shortsighted and see everything in terms of black and white. Hunters are bad; environmentalists are good. Anyone who degrades the environment is bad; those who seek to conserve it are good. But what many of us fail to see is that this is a class issue, as much as it is an environmental issue. When conservatives complain about liberals being “elitists”, they are not getting this idea out of thin air. At least as far as environmentalists go, the conservatives are right.
Think about it. Environmentalists are not just asking people to be outraged at our current ecological situation; we're asking people to do something about it, which is very productive. Unfortunately, what we seek from other people sometimes costs more money than they have. We preach that we must only buy organic foods, recycled products, fair trade and so on, which, as we’ve noticed, all cost a great deal more money than the less politically correct products. Yes, cheap labor coffee is evil; yes, Foster Farms and KFC treat their chickens horrendously, but they cost less, and people gotta eat. Even if they’re vegetarian, we still ask that they buy fair trade and organic products.
Then we come to hunting and logging. The CEOs of logging corporations are rich and can afford to treat the environment better, but the people who work for them are trying to make a living. If we simply ban logging without giving alternatives, those people will permanently lose their jobs. As for hunting, many hunters hunt for food. It’s a lot better than cooping up some poor cow in a tiny cage and letting her rot in her own feces, yes? These hunted animals, delicately put, are “free-range”. If they are endangered, we must offer an alternative to hunters before taking their food away.
What about cars? Do low-emission and high gas mileage vehicles cost less than the average car? No. When it comes to more environmentally sustainable cars, the investment is ecological, not economic. As for hybrid vehicles, take this example: If someone were to buy a Honda Civic Hybrid, which costs $5000 more than a regular Civic, s/he would have to put 300,000 miles on his or her car before the high mileage started making up for the $5000 difference.
A lot of working-class and poor people have a hard time identifying with environmentalists, because on average, we’re middle-class. They resent our demands for buying PC foods and products, because they simply cannot afford them. We take their apathy toward our cause as simple ignorance and greed, but is it more than that? By definition, lower-class people tend not to be as well educated as middle-class people, so we need to educate them about the environmental issues that we’re facing. But we also must combine environmental justice with economic justice, because logically, one cannot exist without the other.

Environmental Health Doesn’t Just Benefit Liberals

© Sunday, 02 May 2004, by Sitakali from The PeaceWorker

Liberals and progressives are at times blamed for being “overzealous” about the environment and making up conspiracies and controversies where there are none. Response to an article about a Pentagon report on global climate change showed the same blame and outrage. The Pentagon report articulated that it was only speculative and gave worst case scenarios, but also recognized that many of the scenarios were probable.

The article entitled, “Leaked Pentagon Report Warns of Coming Climate Wars” in the April PeaceWorker was written by two reporters from the Observer, and was first published on February 22. The Pentagon report suggested that global warning was potentially a greater national security threat than terrorism. The article has received a lot of publicity since then, both positive and negative. Many believe it blew the Pentagon report out of proportion and that the report never was secret or suppressed.

According to the article, former Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) whistleblower Jeremy Symons said the report was suppressed for four months. This may have been inaccurate, but regardless of whether the Pentagon report was suppressed, Symons also referred to a 2002 EPA report that was severely “edited” by the Bush administration. The annual reports had previously always included updates on global warming, but that update was stripped from this EPA report.

An email, written by Myron Ebell of the Exxon-funded Competitive Enterprise Institute to Phil Cooney, senior official at the White House Council for Environmental Quality, explained how to play down an EPA report -- the first report where the U.S. admitted that humans are contributing to global warming. Suggestions included firing the head of the EPA, Christine Whitman. According to Ebell, “…we made the right decision this morning to do as much as we could to deflect criticism by blaming EPA for freelancing. It seems to me,” he added, “that the folks at EPA are the obvious fall guys, and we would only hope that the fall guy (or gal) should be as high up as possible…Perhaps tomorrow we will call for Whitman to be fired.”

The White House is going to dismiss global warming, whether or not it is a national security threat. The Pentagon report was never sent to Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld. Former EPA administrator Russell Train put it bluntly:
“Having served as EPA administrator under both Presidents Nixon and Ford, I can state categorically that there never was such White House intrusion into the business of the EPA during my tenure. The EPA was established as an independent agency in the Executive branch, and so it should remain. There appears today to be a steady erosion in its independent status.”

The Bush administration insists that global warming isn’t real -- and even claims that the environment is in better shape than in the past.
Why then do scientists think that by 2025 50% of the world’s population will face water shortages?

Why is it that:

· The American Geophysical Union resolved that “human activities are increasingly altering the Earth’s climate... scientific evidence strongly indicates that natural influences cannot explain the rapid increase in global near-surface temperatures observed during the second half of the 20th century.”

· According to a study by the University of Maryland and NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center, the melting of Arctic Sea ice over the last 46 years has less than a 0.1 percent chance of being caused by natural climate.

· Carbon dioxide levels are twice as high as they were during ice ages, and methane levels are five times as high, according to the National Center for Scientific Research in Grenoble, France.

· The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) says that concentrations of carbon dioxide in the Earth’s atmosphere have increased by more than 25 percent since before the Industrial Revolution. Roughly half this increase has occurred during the last 35 years.

Proven or not, global warming is a coherent theory that has been approved by top scientists around the world. Yet, the Bush administration’s ideas of helping the environment are to:

· Allow three times more mercury emissions from power plants than current law allows.

· Allow 50% more sulfur emissions (which cause acid rain) than current law allows.

· Send a letter to Congress saying that Bush wouldn’t support new controls on global warming pollution from power plants—the largest U.S. source of carbon dioxide emissions (a greenhouse gas), which account for 10% of carbon dioxide worldwide.

· Dismiss the Kyoto Protocol, an international agreement to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

· Increase the use of coal, oil and natural gas, fossil fuels that contribute to 80% of U.S. global warming pollution.

Despite the daunting facts, there are things that can be done to slow the process of global warming. Legislation to clean up power plants and raise fuel economy standards would stop the growth of U.S. global warming emissions within 10 years. A bill called the Clean Power Act was introduced by Senator Jim Jeffords (D-VT), and would limit emissions of pollutants from power plants. The bill has bipartisan support from 19 co-sponsors. The government could introduce more energy- and cost-efficient clean energy sources, which would address the U.S.’ energy needs. The Kyoto Protocol would help countries around the world cut down on greenhouse gas emissions everywhere. The Protocol has been ratified by 100 countries, including Canada, UK, Germany, Israel, Denmark, and Italy.

The U.S. is far behind the rest of the world when it comes to helping the environment. The rest of the industrialized nations have vowed to reduce greenhouse gas emissions to their 1990 level. As the rest of the world embraces sane and efficient ideas, both economically and ecologically, America’s power and reputation are falling rapidly.

I know that everyone has their differences in opinion, but I hope that we all agree that we want the human race to survive, and to ease suffering as well as possible. This world is not a happy place, environmentally and socially. Americans tend to be uneducated and, being the largest superpower in the world, it is our responsibility to have an influence on our own society, as well as set an example for the world.

If only the conservatives and liberals, the progressives and the reactionaries, could stop screaming at each other and listen, we might learn something about each other, the world, and what changes are the most necessary.