Friday, August 25, 2006
The only meat I have eaten since New Year’s Eve 1979/1980 has been fish (which I consider for me to be kind of the equivalent of methadone if you catch my drift, although a lousy deal for the fishes). While not eating meat has been good for my health it wasn’t really the reason I stopped the BBQ chicken and the like. I stopped because I could no longer turn a blind eye to what eating meat actually meant. It meant the killing, the totally inhumane killing in fact, of gazillions of animals who had just as much right to exist as I did. I mean how could I look my dog in the eye and then go out and eat a cow.
Be that as it may, it turns out that not eating meat (I know – the fishes – I’m bad) actually coincides with another of my overarching concerns – global warming. I never even thought much about the connection until I read the article below. Call me slow, but whatever.
The following was taken from E Magazine.com
Another Inconvenient Truth: Meat is a Global Warming Issue
By Dan Brook
Al Gore’s movie (and book), An Inconvenient Truth, is playing to rave reviews. His laudable project is an urgent message on the vital issue of global warming. We all must heed the call.
If we didn’t realize it already, we now know that we are overheating our planet to alarming levels with potentially catastrophic consequences. 2005 was the hottest year on record. Think of an overheated car; now imagine that on a planetary scale.
Organizations from Greenpeace to the Union of Concerned Scientists, World Bank and the Pentagon, all agree that global warming is, perhaps, the most serious threat to our imperiled planet. The Pentagon report, for example, states that climate change in the form of global warming “should be elevated beyond a scientific debate to a U.S. national security concern,” higher even than terrorism.
The effects of global warming are not hypothetical: waves are already washing over islands in the South Pacific, coastal cities and low-lying countries face severe flooding, extreme weather conditions like hurricanes are intensifying, the polar ice caps and the world’s glaciers are melting, polar bears and other species are threatened with extinction, diseases are spreading more easily, crop failures are mounting. We are standing at a precipice.
There are many human activities that contribute to global warming. Among the biggest contributors are electrical generation, the use of passenger and other vehicles, over-consumption, international shipping, deforestation, smoking and militarism. (The U.S. military, for example, is the world’s biggest consumer of oil and the world’s biggest polluter.)
What many people do not know, however, is that the production of meat also significantly increases global warming. Cow farms produce millions of tons of carbon dioxide (CO2) and methane per year, the two major greenhouse gases that together account for more than 90 percent of U.S. greenhouse emissions, substantially contributing to “global scorching.”
According to the United Nations Environment Programme’s Unit on Climate Change, “There is a strong link between human diet and methane emissions from livestock.” The 2004 State of the World is more specific regarding the link between animals raised for meat and global warming: “Belching, flatulent livestock emit 16 percent of the world’s annual production of methane, a powerful greenhouse gas.”
The July 2005 issue of Physics World states: “The animals we eat emit 21 percent of all the CO2 that can be attributed to human activity.” Eating meat directly contributes to this environmentally irresponsible industry and the dire threat of global warming.
Additionally, rainforests are being cut down at an extremely rapid rate to both pasture cows and grow soybeans to feed cows. The clear-cutting of trees in the rainforest — an incredibly bio-diverse area with 90 percent of all species on Earth — not only creates more greenhouse gases through the process of destruction, but also reduces the amazing benefits that those trees provide. Rainforests have been called the “lungs of the Earth,” because they filter our air by absorbing CO2, while emitting life-supporting oxygen.
“In a nutshell,” according to the Center for International Forestry Research, “cattle ranchers are making mincemeat out of Brazil’s Amazon rainforests.”
Of course, the U.S. should join the other 163 countries in ratifying the Kyoto Protocol. Of course, we should sharply reduce our reliance on fossil fuels and shift towards renewable sources of energy. Of course, we need to stop destroying the rainforests. Of course, we need to stop the war in Iraq and drastically reduce the U.S. military budget (presently at half of the entire world’s total military spending), which would increase, not decrease, national and global security. But as we’re struggling and waiting for these and other structural changes, we need to make personal changes.
Geophysicists Gidon Eshel and Pamela Martin from the University of Chicago concluded that changing one’s eating habits from the Standard American Diet (SAD) to a vegetarian diet does more to fight global warming than switching from a gas-guzzling SUV to a fuel-efficient hybrid car. Of course, you can do both — and more! It has been said that “where the environment is concerned, eating meat is like driving a huge SUV.... Eating a vegetarian diet is like driving a mid-sized car [or a reasonable sedan, according to Eshel]. And eating a vegan diet (no dairy, no eggs) is like riding a bicycle or walking. Shifting away from SUVs and SUV-style diets, to much more energy-efficient alternatives, is key to fighting the warming trend.
Global warming is already having grave effects on our planet and we need to take action. Vegetarians help keep the planet cool in more ways than one! Paul McCartney says, “If anyone wants to save the planet, all they have to do is just stop eating meat. That’s the single most important thing you could do.” Andrea Gordon, in her article “If You Recycle, Why Are You Eating Meat?” agrees: “There is a direct relationship between eating meat and the environment. E Magazine asked the same question in its cover story, “So You’re an Environmentalist. Why Are You Still Eating Meat?” Quite simply, you can’t be a meat-eating environmentalist. Sorry folks.”
Vegetarianism is literally about life and death — for each of us individually and for all of us together. Eating animals simultaneously contributes to a multitude of tragedies: the animals’ suffering and death; the ill-health and early death of people; the unsustainable overuse of oil, water, land, topsoil, grain, labor and other vital resources; environmental destruction, including deforestation, species extinction, mono-cropping and global warming; the legitimacy of force and violence; the mis-allocation of capital, skills, land and other assets; vast inefficiencies in the economy; tremendous waste; massive inequalities in the world; the continuation of world hunger and mass starvation; the transmission and spread of dangerous diseases; and moral failure in so-called civilized societies. Vegetarianism is an antidote to all of these unnecessary tragedies.
The editors of World Watch concluded in the July/August 2004 edition that “the human appetite for animal flesh is a driving force behind virtually every major category of environmental damage now threatening the human future — deforestation, erosion, fresh water scarcity, air and water pollution, climate change, biodiversity loss, social injustice, the destabilization of communities and the spread of disease.” Lee Hall, the legal director for Friends of Animals, is more succinct: “Behind virtually every great environmental complaint there’s milk and meat.”
Global warming may be the most serious global social problem threatening life on Earth. We need to fight global warming on the governmental and corporate levels, and we also need to fight global warming on the everyday and personal levels. We need to fight global warming with our forks! In the enduring and powerful words of Mahatma Gandhi, “You must be the change you wish to see in this world.”
Global warming, as Al Gore so powerfully shows, is “an inconvenient truth.” The fact that the production of meat significantly contributes to global warming is another inconvenient truth. Now we know.
DAN BROOK is a writer, activist and instructor of sociology at San Jose State University and author of Modern Revolution (University Press of America, 2005). He welcomes comments via Brook@california.com.
The Oread Daily is proud to announce a coveted "GAG ME AWARD" to guitarist Ronnie Wood. Read below to find out why.
The following comes from Contactmusic.
WOOD SLAMS CELEBRITY ACTIVISTS
ROLLING STONES guitarist RONNIE WOOD has criticised fellow musicians BONO and SIR BOB GELDOF for involving themselves in politics. The START ME UP rocker refuses to get mixed up in high-profile causes like Bono and Geldof, because he thinks their efforts don't make any difference. And 59-year-old Wood says he would rather have a good time and make people smile than waste time on politics. He says, "I would never go into politics like Bono. Geldof and him can keep trying until the end of the earth but it won't make a difference. I like to make people happy. Politics doesn't do that. Art does."
Deutsche Presse-Agentur reports thousands of Basques marched Friday in Bilbao to request independence for the northern Spanish region and a new impulse to planned peace talks with the government.
Demonstrators waved Basque, Palestinian and Lebanese flags and shouted slogans urging the release of some 600 imprisoned activists of the armed Basque separatist group ETA, which is blamed for more than 800 deaths since 1968.
Prime Minister Jose Luis Rodriguez Zapatero announced peace talks with ETA in June, but the process has not taken off the ground.
The following is from EITB.
Thousands of people call for self-determination in Bilbao rally
The demonstration passed off without incident. Batasuna's Goirizelaia denounced the left-wing party Batasuna was still outlawed five months after ETA announced a ceasefire.
Chanting slogans in favor of independence and waving red, white and green Basque flags, the morning demonstration was attended by people of all ages.
Mixed among the protesters were leaders of the banned political party Batasuna including Joseba Permach, Joseba Alvarez, Pernando Barrena and Jone Goirizelaia. Prominent Basque nationalist Tasio Erkizia the leaders of the LAB trade union Rafa Díez Usabiaga and Txutxi Ariznabarreta also attended the rally.
The march was authorized by National Court Judge Baltasar Garzon after he confirmed that Batasuna was not behind it.
The protest march was called by a group of 50 Basque citizens who said they were "leftists and Basque nationalists"and were acting independently of Batasuna, which was banned by the Spanish Supreme Court in 2003 on grounds it is part of ETA.
In Garzon's ruling he told police and regional authorities to be vigilant for any sign of Batasuna, that would immediately halt the march.
The demonstrators complied and carried flags and banners calling for Basque independence.
Thursday, August 24, 2006
A soldier who refused to deploy to Iraq should find out today if he will face court-martial.
Ehren Watada said he would go to Afghanistan but not Iraq.
Watada said in court last week his refusal to serve in Iraq was his "obligation to the country."
After deliberately missing the deployment of his Iraq-bound Stryker brigade on June 22, Watada was charged with multiple violations of the Uniform Code of Military Justice—one count of missing movement, two counts of contempt toward officials, and three counts of conduct unbecoming an officer. It was a contentious ending to a military career that began with the stuff of Army recruiters' dreams: A patriotic young man who simply wanted to defend his country against terrorists.
When Watanda realized he could not allow himself to deploy to Iraq, Watada asked to be sent to Afghanistan, a war he supports because it has a clear connection to an enemy that attacked the U.S. The request was denied. Watada then asked to resign. That request, too, was denied. After refusing to deploy and having the book thrown at him by Army prosecutors, Watada suggested a compromise: a less-than-honorable discharge and some non-prison form of punishment. The military wasn't interested. All of this suggests to Seitz that the military wants this confrontation with his client—wants to make an example of Watada.
His father, Bob Watada spoke to a gathering of 50 people yesterday in San Jose, defending his son's actions.
"My son is very strong. He's going to -- even if there's a court-martial, he's going to go to jail instead of killing innocent Iraqis -- that's the real tragedy here," Watada said.
The article below is from People's Weekly World.
Support grows for Lt. Ehren Watada
SAN FRANCISCO — Supporters of 1st Lt. Ehren Watada — the first commissioned officer to publicly refuse deployment to Iraq — welcomed his father, Bob Watada, this week for a whirlwind tour of the Bay Area.
“I feel the support is really building up,” Bob Watada told an Aug. 21 press conference here near the start of the tour. He said many organizations, including Iraq Veterans against the War, Veterans for Peace, Code Pink, the National Lawyers Guild and others, are actively supporting his son. Events during the week, organized by peace, veterans and religious groups, were also slated for San Jose, Santa Rosa, Sacramento and Berkeley.
The elder Watada described the evolution of his son’s thinking about the war in Iraq. Ehren Watada joined the Army in “the fervor of the patriotic fever young people felt after September 11,” he said, “because he wanted to do something for his country, and he felt that was the right thing to do.”
Transferred back to the U.S. after serving in Korea, Ehren Watada even sought immediate deployment to Iraq, but the Army rejected the request. “And that was perhaps a misfortune for the Army,” said Bob Watada, because his son “began to study what was going on in Iraq, and started developing some strong feelings about this war,” including the daily killings of civilians and the Bush administration’s lies about weapons of mass destruction.
Calling the war a violation of the U.S. Constitution as well as international law, Bob Watada said his son was acting to uphold the Constitution, including his right to free speech.
Following a preliminary hearing at Ft. Lewis, Wash., last week, Ehren Watada now faces a court martial trial, possibly in November, for missing a movement, contempt toward officials and conduct unbecoming an officer — the latter based on his public criticism of the Iraq war as a violation of U.S. and international law. He has been reassigned to a desk job at Ft. Lewis.
If convicted, Lt. Watada faces a possible seven and a half years in prison and a dishonorable discharge.
Joining Bob Watada at the press conference were Marti Hiken, co-chair of the National Lawyers Guild’s Military Law Task Force, and San Francisco Public Defender Jeff Hidachi.
Hiken presented a statement by the task force, calling Ehren Watada’s resistance “a response to the deception and illegality surrounding this war as well as the increasing resistance to it on the part of those forced to fight it.”
Calling Lt. Watada’s position “a moral one,” the statement concluded that “all people of honor, whether in the military or not,” should reject the Army’s insistence that he “abandon his core beliefs and integrity to support this unconscionable war.”
“When people enter the military, they don’t automatically give up their rights,” Hiken said in a later interview. “The Bush administration’s attempts to silence dissent have a far-reaching impact on all of us,” she added. “We want the American people to be able to hear what soldiers are saying about the war.”
Hidachi told the reporters, “We in the Japanese community should be proud that a Japanese American soldier has taken a stand against this illegal war.” Prosecuting a soldier for stating his views on what is commonly known — that the Bush administration misled its citizens when it claimed Iraq had weapons of mass destruction and was connected to Sept. 11 — “is particularly unjust and immoral,” Hidachi added.
The web site www.thankyoult.org features a petition and further information on Lt. Ehren Watada’s situation. Information about Bob Watada’s Bay Area events this week can be obtained by calling (510) 528-7288.
The sunken M/T Solar 1 continued to leak more fuel yesterday as foul weather hampered the Coast Guard clean-up operations in the Guimaras Strait and threatened to further spread the oil spill, Harold Jarder, Iloilo Coast Guard commander, said.
Guimaras is small island off the coast of Iloilo, on Panay Island and part of the Philippines.
Contrary to the World Wide Fund and Petron Corp. claims that the leaking from the sink site had stopped, Jarder said 200 to 250 liters of bunker fuel was still being spewed out an hour yesterday, based on actual observation by the Philippine and Japanese Coast Guard at the site.
The continued leak will have far reaching consequences, going beyond Guimaras and even Negros Occidental, if the spill hits the Visayan Sea, which is considered the richest fishing ground in the whole of Asia, Ma. Athena Ronquillo Ballesteros, Greenpeace International Climate Energy Campaigner, said yesterday.
"Tragically, the oil spill is killing precious marine life and displacing thousands of fisherfolk as Petron argues," she told the Daily Star.
"Citizens are responding, LGUs and the coast guard are acting heroically and all Petron can offer to this ecological disaster are excuses and delays," Ballesteros she said.
In Negros Occidental, the Provincial Disaster Management Team expressed concern that rains could hasten the flow of the oil spill, as coastal towns and cities stayed alert, PDMT chief Vicfran Defante said.
Gov. Joseph Marañonsaid there is an imminent danger to the 13 towns and 10 cities of Negros Occidental that might result in irreparable damage to the environment, livelihood of inhabitants and property loses, he said.
He requested a "state of calamity" be declared.
Meanwhile, Iloilo Rep. Rolex Suplico also said the president should declare a state of calamity in Western Visayas due to the "environmental disaster" brought about by a massive oil spill.
The following is from INQ7.net.
Green activists picket Petron
HUNDREDS of kilometers away from the polluted waters off Guimaras Island, members of an environment group picketed in front of Petron Corp.’s Makati head office to demand accountability for one of the country's worst oil spills.
Holding signs denouncing the company as a “curse to nature,” members of Kalikasan People's Network for the Environment picketed Petron to demand that the oil refiner shoulder the cost of cleaning up the oil spill and rehabilitating Guimaras’ ravaged fishing and tourism industries as well as its coastline.
"Petron should release 10 billion pesos to speed up cleanup and relief operations in Guimaras. We believe that's a sound estimate," said Frances Quimpo, Kalikasan spokesperson.
The group believed the company, among the three largest oil companies operating in the country, should take responsibility for the oil slick because "it was Petron's decision to let [MT Solar 1] transport the oil despite the bad weather on August 11," said Quimpo.
Oil tanker Solar I sank off Guimaras on August 11 and discharged more than 50,000 gallons of industrial oil into the pristine seas. Petron Corp, the company that contracted the tanker, promised to continue to provide the needed assistance to clean up contaminated coastline.
Kalikasan intends to send a letter to Petron executives to lay down their demands and "express our dismay over your company's denial of responsibility over the spill of Petron oil."
"It is highly deplorable for the company to act and display first-rate arrogance at the expense of our people's lives, environment and our future. We hope by now you are aware of how our poor fisher folk are barely coping with the tragic situation," the letter read.
Quimpo said Kalikasan has begun expanding its network to take action on the environmental disaster.
"Whether Petron heeds or disregards our demand for it to carry the cost of speedy cleanup and comprehensive rehabilitation, the fight for justice against this Petron-made ecological catastrophe will continue, here and overseas, whatever it takes and at all cost," the group said in its letter.
Oil has contaminated more than 300 kilometers (200 miles) of coastline on Guimaras Island and is now threatening Negros, the country's fourth-largest island, as well as Panay.
The oil has also destroyed 454 hectares (1,120 acres) of mangroves and 58 hectares of seaweed farms.
Defense Secretary Avelino Cruz, who heads a task force on the oil spill, said 3,700 families were affected by the disaster and that tourism to the island, once known for its pristine beaches, had also been hit hard.
The government set up a commission of inquiry into the disaster on Wednesday and has given it three days to submit an initial report.
The spill is already regarded as the worst environmental disaster in the history of the Philippines, stretching more than 10 nautical miles and putting the livelihoods of thousands of poor fishermen at risk.
(1 dollar = 51.60 pesos)
When the Levees Broke, subtitled A Requiem in Four Acts is a 2006 documentary film directed by Spike Lee, about the devastation of New Orleans, Louisiana due to the failure of the levees during Hurricane Katrina. The film runs four hours, and premiered at the New Orleans Arena on August 16, 2006. The television premiere aired in two parts on August 21 and 22 on HBO. The film will then be shown in its entirety on August 29, the one year anniversary of Katrina. It has been described by an HBO executive as "one of the most important films HBO has ever made."
Lance Hill expounds below on one very troubling question raised by the film.
For five days thousands waited and waited at Morial Convention Center for aid, for relief that never seemed to come.
Where was the aid these people desperately needed.
What was most clear at the time was that these mostly African-American citizens were being left to suffer in a way that would never be allowed to a similar group of mostly white Americans.
The historical revision has been that it was simply a matter of incompetence. But to say that is to ignore reality. You know that and so do I.
The following commentary is from Lance Hill.
Commentary by Lance Hill
August 22, 2006
Last week I attended a screening of “When the Levees Broke,” Spike Lee’s documentary that focuses on the impact of hurricane Katrina on the African American community in New Orleans. The four-hour film is airing on HBO this week. It is a film that leaves one deeply troubling question unanswered: why were thousands of African Americans stranded at the Morial Convention Center for five days without food, water, or medical aid from relief agencies or the government? Was it government incompetence or racism?
Part of the answer lies with an aspect of the story has never been covered by the major media or government investigation: that FEMA deliberately withheld food and water to drive people out of the city. This is not a new revelation for a non-evacuee like myself, who had to overcome official attempts to blockade aid from reaching the convention center (more on that later). But the difference between incompetence and official policy is crucial: If the convention center tragedy was due to government incompetence, then all we need is a more efficient FEMA. That, we have already been promised. But if there was an official policy to deprive citizens of their basic human needs, then the problem runs far deeper than bad management. It means that there was a double standard for African American storm victims, which has to be acknowledged and remedied. It means that racism is not something of the past no longer worthy of nation al concern and action.
At first glance, the idea of blockading humanitarian relief sounds so irrational that it’s difficult to believe anyone would even consider the policy. But keep in mind that during those days many government officials made no distinction between looters and black law abiding citizens. There was widespread—and ill-founded—fear in the white community that black people at the Superdome and convention center would simply take relief supplies and return to the areas of the city that never flooded—and there were several hundred blocks. The people who issued the blockade order were thinking about controlling the city and not concerned with the policy’s impact on innocent infants, the sick, and the elderly who were frantic to escape the city but without transportation.
Bits and pieces of the blockade story emerged during the crisis, in news reports and on the internet, but somehow the congressional investigation missed the issue and the media never followed up to investigate the matter. For those who refused to evacuate, the blockade policy was evident from the earliest days. On Friday, September 2nd, my wife and I packed up my car with all the supplies we could gather and I began the first of four runs into the convention center, where I encountered no danger; only grateful and orderly people desperate for food and water. On my fourth run I was met by a contingent of New Orleans and State Police who ordered me not to distribute the water I had brought. A line of white state policeman with automatic weapons faced off against the crowd who were shouting to let me unload my supplies. It was an explosive situation and the police quickly relented but told me not to return.
There was never any question in my mind that these officers were acting on orders to prevent relief from getting to flood victims. My wife and I remained in New Orleans for more than a month during martial law, for the most part taking care of elderly people in the unflooded areas, and every law enforcement officer and soldier that we met told us the same thing: they had been ordered not to provide citizens with food, water, or medical aid.
Red Cross officials are on record saying they had relief supplies in New Orleans but were ordered not to distribute them. American Red Cross president Marsha “Marty” Evans went on national television and said that the Louisiana Department of Homeland Security (LA-DHS) had ordered the Red Cross not to provide relief supplies to refugees inside the city, arguing that the presence of the Red Cross “would keep people from evacuating and encourage others to come to the city.” The same story was provided by other Red Cross officials and even the Red Cross web site carried a FAQ repeating that authorities had prevented them from providing relief supplies to the storm victims at the convention center.
It is unlikely that the blockade was a decision of state officials alone: subsequent reports on the internet offer evidence that federal FEMA officials were part of the decision. Indeed, former FEMA director Michael Brown testified in a congressional hearing that, contrary to his earlier statements, he knew about the convention center crisis as early as Wednesday, August 31—the day the blockade order was given. Only a formal investigation and full disclosure by the federal government will provide a definitive explanation of who made the decision and why.
Spokespersons for the LA-DHS and the Louisiana National Guard admit that they asked relief agencies not to deliver their goods to the convention center site, but explain it as a safety precaution—not an attempt to force citizens into leaving. Even if the convention center was too dangerous for relief workers accompanied by police—and I never felt unsafe when I was there unarmed—many observers have noted that helicopters could easily have dropped relief supplies.
But the excuse that the center was too dangerous for even the police turns to fiction when we consider that the police actually entered the center to execute a “rescue” after the blockade was in force. According to a story in the Washington Post, one day after the relief blockade order was issued, a twelve-member New Orleans swat team led by Sgt. Hans Ganthier entered the convention center to transport out two white women, the wife of a Jefferson Parish Sheriff’s deputy, who had requested the rescue, and her friend. The police literally had to make their way past dying elderly blacks in order to extricate the two white women. That incident alone should answer the question whether or not there was a double standard based on color for who deserved official protection and aid at the center.
There is another reason for concern if the suffering was the result of a deliberate policy and not merely incompetence. History teaches us that government directives implemented by bureaucrats in times of crisis carry a unique danger. Once the bureaucratic machinery of government assumes control, official orders take on a life of their own. Government directives have no conscience; and as they pass down the command structure they become even less responsive to human emotions or individual moral beliefs. The results can lead to appalling and dehumanizing behavior: one news organization reported that military police assigned to monitor the crowd at the convention center sipped ice water only a few yards away from dehydrating infants and the elderly.
If the assertion that there was a formal blockade policy proves to be true, then we have to come to terms with the fact that our government had a policy and apparatus that intentionally imperiled the lives of innocent African Americans. This goes well beyond incompetence or indifference to the suffering of others. The moment a government withholds food, water, and medical aid from its own citizens to achieve policy ends, it is deliberately inflicting harm to coerce behavior. The added danger is found in the cycle of human devaluation evident in catastrophic ethnic group conflicts in the past; once you deprive a group of their human needs, they behave in ways that are then used to justify inflicting more harm. Great evil begins with small acts of cruelty.
Spike Lee has asked a question that deserves an answer. The United States is a signatory to the Geneva Human Rights Treaty, which forbids governments from blocking humanitarian relief to refugees of political or natural disasters. At a minimum, our nation’s own laws should forbid using food and water as weapon against our own people.
New Orleans is busy with plans to commemorate and honor the disaster victims, including those who needlessly suffered for five days at the convention center. Among the plans is a proposal to erect a monument near the center. It seems to me that the best way to memorialize and honor those who suffered the horrifying ordeal at the convention center is to make sure it never happens again.
Lance Hill, Ph.D. is the Executive Director of the Southern Institute for Education and Research at Tulane University and author of “Deacons for Defense: Armed Resistance and the Civil Rights Movement,” UNC press. You can subscribe to his commentaries at http://www.southerninstitute.info/commentaries/
Tuesday, August 22, 2006
How about motivating your basketball team by brining out badly wounded Iraqi veterans. Sound a little off putting? Not to Coach K and others around Team USA.
The following commentary is from the web site Edge of Sports.
The Problem with Troops and Hoops
By Dave Zirin
As the 2006 world championships begin this week in Japan, USA Basketball is the Joe Lieberman of the sports world: defeated and desperate, using every means to claw back toward relevance. They don't have much to build on: In the 2002 world championship, the former goliaths of the hoops universe stumbled to a sixth-place finish. At the 2004 Olympiad in Greece, they won the bronze medal but suffered more losses than the team had in its entire Olympic history.
It's understandable that Jerry Colangelo, managing director of USA Basketball men's team, and coach Mike Krzyzewski are now pulling out every trick to turn things around. This year's team is rich in talent with the potential to win gold, but they're greener than a Minnesota banana. Featuring young superstars like LeBron James, Dwight Howard and Dwyane Wade, the starting lineup may end up being on average younger than 23.
With such a raw squad, Colangelo and Coach K are understandably striving to develop team cohesion and unity. But their methods are both disturbing and worthy of criticism. As Colangelo explained to Chicago Tribune columnist Sam Smith, "Coach K and I were having dinner last summer and talking about ways to connect this team with America. We talked about engaging ourselves (with the military): 'Can this become their team? America's team?' It seemed like a natural." The two brought in people like Arizona Republican Senator John McCain and celebrated soldier Col. Robert Brown to speak about how, Smith wrote, "the military, like a basketball team, requires a unified, unselfish approach."
It is not surprising that Coach K loved the military angle. He's a graduate of West Point who led the Army squad for five years. And there is nothing new about coaches using the language of war to inspire a winning team. But how does "engaging with the military" translate in these troubled times? It means that Colangelo and Krzyzewski have brought out soldiers maimed and crippled by the war in Iraq to inspire their "troops" in high-tops. This has included Capt. Scott Smiley, who is now blind after a Mosul suicide car bombing sent shrapnel into his brain, and another, Sgt. Christian Steele, who had part of his hand blown off. As Smith wrote, "It was a more than subtle message that playing with 'USA' on your jersey means a lot more than trying to win a medal. And it seems to have produced the desired effect of breaking down individual team loyalties and more quickly uniting this American team."
The team, reportedly, was moved to tears. But there is something unnerving about these motivational tactics.
Etan Thomas, the power forward/center for the Washington Wizards, saw the military presentation on NBA TV and knew in his gut that it was wrong. He said to me, "I don't have a problem with the troops talking to the players on their own. But for them being brought in to build a better basketball team just feels wrong. If I was there, my reaction would have been completely different. The fact that Capt. Scott Smiley has lost his sight would not have made me feel patriotic pride. It would have made me feel ashamed, angered and saddened that this soldier was blinded at the service of a war we shouldn't have been in in the first place."
To use a deeply unpopular war from which, according to a recent Zogby poll, 72 percent of troops want to escape, and using the injured for public relations purposes, feels more like exploitation than motivation, especially when spearheaded by Jerry Colangelo. Colangelo once owned part of the NBA's Phoenix Suns and Arizona Diamondbacks. Currently, he's chairman and CEO of WNBA's Phoenix Mercury, and he also has aspirations that extend beyond a gold medal in Beijing in 2008. Colangelo has been pouring his money into efforts to strengthen ties between Republican politics and the religious right. He was a deputy chair of the Bush/Cheney 2004 campaign in Arizona, and Colangelo's deep pockets contributed to what is called the Presidential Prayer Team, a private evangelical group that claims to have signed up more than 1 million people to drop to their knees and pray daily for Bush. During the election summer of 2004, as Max Blumenthal has reported, Colangelo bought ads on 1,200 radio stations urging listeners to pray for the President.
Colangelo has never been shy about using sports to project his politics. On April 5, 2003, he designated the Phoenix Suns' contest against Minnesota Arizona Right-to-Life Day.
The former Diamondbacks CEO also helped launched a group along with other baseball executives and ex-players called Battin' 1,000, a national campaign that uses baseball memorabilia to raise funds for Campus for Life, the largest antichoice student network in the country. Battin' 1,000 stands against all abortions, even in the case of incest or rape. Its motto: "Pro-life--without exception, without compromise, without apology."
Colangelo has a fellow political traveler in Mike Krzyzewski. Coach K is a longtime Republican donor who made waves when he hosted a 2002 fundraiser for North Carolina senatorial candidate Elizabeth Dole at the university-owned Washington Duke Inn. His group, to the consternation of many non-Republican faculty and students, was called "Blue Devils for Dole."
In addition to their politics, Colangelo and Coach K have something else in common: There is no published evidence that either ever served in combat. They might have gained a different perspective on the meaning of sports and war had they actually suffered the pain, boredom, fear and death of a live battle.
One injured veteran Colangelo and Krzyzewski didn't bring in was Army Specialist Danielle "D-Smooth" Green, who lost her hand in a grenade attack on a Baghdad police station. She would have been particularly appropriate as a motivator for USA Basketball because in college she was also the starting point guard for Notre Dame. But Green told reporters from her hospital bed in 2004, "They [the Iraqis] just don't want us there.... I personally don't think we should have gone into Iraq. Not the way things have turned out. A lot more people are going to get hurt, and for what?"
That question still hasn't been answered. Maybe Colangelo hopes that with all the exciting basketball to watch, we just won't get around to asking it.
An Orthodox rabbi who lives in the West Bank, who helped to found the right wing Gush Emunim movement of all people is marching forward with a plan for peace...and Hamas is listening.
How can this be?
Rabbi Menachem Froman isn't new to this business. He is a man who has met often with past and present Palestinian leaders including Yasir Arafat and Mahmoud al-Zahar of Hamas. He has been a religious adviser to the Knesset and brokered the release from prison of Hamas's spiritual leader, Sheikh Ahmed Yassin. He also brokered Yassin's subsequent announcement of a ceasefire, which Israel refused to accept and Yassin subsequently withdrew.
Further it has been reported (although I haven't seen it anywhere in our media)on the eve of the Israeli move into the Gaza earlier this summer he was set to announce along with others including representatives of Hamas an exciting new initiative for peace.
The Omega Institute (OI), which works closely with the Institute for Policy Research for Development (IPRD), has written, senior Hamas leaders were in active dialogue with Israeli religious leaders in a round of bilateral peace negotiations. Israeli negotiators included Rabbi Menachem Froman, former deputy leader and co-founder of the Israeli Settler movement Gush Khatif; Rabbi David Bigman, head of the liberal religious Kibbutz movement Yeshiva at Ma’ale Gilboa; and Yitzhak Frankenthal, founder of the Arik Institute. Ongoing negotiations had resulted in a breakthrough peace “understanding”, which was to be announced at a press conference in Jerusalem to mark the launching of an extraordinary peace initiative. Israeli Prime Minister Olmert had been briefed extensively about the initiative by Frankenthal. Also due to attend the conference were Khaled Abu Arafa, the Palestinian Cabinet Minister for Jerusalem, Sheikh Muhamed Abu Tir, senior Hamas Member of the Palestinian Parliament, and other senior Palestinian delegates.
The meeting was to announce a joint Israeli-Palestinian call for the release of Corporal Gilad Shalit who had been abducted by Hamas in Gaza, along with proposals for the beginning of the release of all Palestinian prisoners. These measures were to precipitate unprecedented new peace negotiations on a framework peace agreement, drawn on the 1967 borders. The presence of Palestinian Cabinet Officers and senior Israeli religious leaders in contact with the Prime Minster was to underline the seriousness of this peace proposal on both sides.
Arthur Neslen of Common Ground News Service described what happened to this promising initiative:
...the response from Israel’s security establishment was crushing.
Hours before the meeting was due to start, the Shin Bet detained Abu Tir and Abu Arafa and warned them not to attend the meeting. The news conference’s organisers were forced to contact the other rabbis — who were already on the road to Jerusalem —and tell them not to come.
Instead of a triumphant statement of mutual respect and dialogue, a subdued and gently defiant three-man panel fended off aggressive questioning from an unruly Israeli press pack.
Who were these players on the Israeli side anyway?
Rabbi Menachem Froman is the former deputy leader, and co-founder, of the extremist Messianic Israeli Settler movement “ Gush Khatif”, but he left the movement after the massacre in Hebron of Palestinians by the Israeli terrorist Baruch Goldstein. He now lives in the West Bank Samarian settlement of Tekoa, where he works as a Rabbi, and has been long engaged in Muslim-Jewish dialogue activities. Froman himself has a typical Israeli political background. His Uncle was murdered in the 1930’s by Ezzedine Al Qassam, a militant Cleric whose name was used by Hama’s for it’s armed wing. Froman has a track record. He was a principal negotiator in the release from prison of the Hama’s spiritual leader, Sheikh Ahmed Yassin. As a result of discussions with Froman, Yassin subsequently offered a ease-fire, which Yassin withdrew, after the offer was spurned by the israeli Government. He now works closely with Rabbi David Bigman, head of the Liberal religious Kibbutz movement’s Yeshiva at Ma’ale Gilboa. They in turn are connected to Yitzhak Frankenthal, founder of the Arik Institute, who is also involved in religious and political dialog with Palestinians. Frankanthal has an unusual background. His son Arik was murdered by Hama’s operatives whilst hitch-hiking in July 1994. Instead of sinking into bitterness, Frankanthal has become a major force in Israel in the peace movement.
Rav Froman is often called a maverick Jewish religious peacemaker says the website of Jewish Peace Makers.
He is one of the founders of the Gush Emunim religious Zionist movement and a pioneer in dialogue with radical and moderate religious Muslims. Many media people regard him as a right-wing Orthodox Jew and and as a Rabbi to an illegal settlement on the West Bank.
But his views don't really fit that description. They embody openness, reconciliation and understanding of a kind which has made him a friend of many Palestinians, up to and including Abu Mazen, Yasser Arafat and the late Hamas leader Sheikh Yassin.
His main work is to find solutions to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict based on understanding between the Islamic and Jewish faiths. He is rabbi to Tekoa, a small settlement on the West Bank, south of Bethlehem, which takes a unique cosmopolitan and reconciliatory approach.
"My premise is that for Jews to live in all of Eretz Yisrael, they have to create a network of life with the Arabs", says Rav Froman. "In the Holy Land, you can't make peace without attending to the issue of holiness".
"Isn?t it only fitting that Jerusalem be the seat of the United Nations? cultural bodies, human rights organizations, scholarly forums? Isn?t it only proper that Jerusalem be the place where members of all faiths convene to renounce their breeding of prejudice, hostility, and war?"
The following is taken from Aljazeera.
Rabbi leads unofficial peace initiative
Hamas says the plan has potential to end the fighting
A bold peace initiative by an Israeli rabbi to free the captured Israeli soldier Gilad Shalit and renew the Israeli-Palestinian peace process is close to achieving a breakthrough, but is being obstructed by Israel's ongoing reoccupation of the Gaza Strip.
Aljazeera.net has seen documents aimed at achieving a prisoner exchange, ceasefire and ongoing negotiations with Hamas.
The initiative was drawn up by Menachem Froman, the rabbi of Tekoa, a friend and associate of Yasser Arafat, the late Palestinian president, and Sheikh Ahmad Yasin, the spiritual leader of Hamas assassinated by Israel in 2004.
The plan was submitted to the Hamas leadership in the Gaza Strip and Damascus in July.
It has the blessing of senior Jewish religious figures, including Shlomo Amar, the chief rabbi of Israel, and Ovadia Yosef, the spiritual leader of the Shas party.
But while the Israeli government has been following the progress of the initiative, its apparent strategy to force Hamas's hand by detaining its leadership and making civilian life in Gaza intolerable threatens to push any deal out of reach.
The peace initiative envisions a face-to-face meeting in Gaza between Ismail Haniya, the Palestinian prime minister, a delegation of rabbis and Muhammed Darwish, the spiritual leader of the Islamic Movement in Israel.
This would provide a crucial springboard for the plan because the Israeli and Hamas administrations are politically unable to meet each other.
Israeli raids into Gaza are hampering the plan
A formal ceasefire announcement would then be accompanied by a form of prisoner exchange involving women and those needing medical attention currently being held in Israel. That would lead to a full negotiating process covering settlements, Jerusalem, refugees and the establishment of a free Palestinian state.
However, Hamas says that Israel's ongoing military operation in the Gaza Strip is preventing progress.
Ghazi Hamad, the spokesman for the Hamas government in Gaza, confirmed the existence of the plan, and its potential to end the current fighting.
"I have talked to Rabbi Froman many times and I think that there is a good chance for this [peace proposal]," he said. "But first, we need the situation here to be calm and quiet.
"We are trying to prepare the situation in order to find a time that we can contact all the parties in Gaza," he said.
"But the military tension caused by the daily incursions and deaths is making it impossible to speak normally with people here."
B'tselem, an Israeli human rights group, says that more than 191 Palestinians, more than half of them civilians, have been killed since Israel invaded the Gaza Strip on June 28, in a nominal bid to free Corporal Shalit.
Despite the ongoing incursion, Rabbi Froman remains optimistic.
He says that he has received encouragement from direct talks with figures including Amir Peretz, the defence minister, Eli Yishai, the trade minister, and Moshe Katsav, the Israeli president.
"In the best case, we would announce a ceasefire - we Rabbis in the name of the people of Israel, they in the name of the Palestinian people. They would
bring the boy [Shalit] and we would bring from our side a group of Palestinian prisoners, perhaps the women, and those ill prisoners who need medical treatment"
But he is at pains to point out that he is operating independently.
"I am not working as an agent of the state or as a representative of the Zionists," he said.
"I am a citizen of the kingdom of God, not of the state of Israel. My motivation is to give glory to Allah and to do this, I am trying to convince public opinion in Israel that we need to give legitimacy to Hamas."
It is indicative of the tightrope Froman is walking that despite this, he says that Ehud Olmert, the Israeli prime minister, has given unofficial support to the initiative through a senior aide and is being updated on the situation "every step of the way".
However, the first step - a meeting in Gaza - is proving the hardest.
According to the Froman plan, Haniya, the rabbis and Abdalla Nimr Darwish would meet in Gaza to announce that "the two peoples are willing to establish a just peace".
On the phone, Hamad, reiterated that Israel's military escalation had made this difficult.
But he confirmed: "We have talked about extending an invitation [to Froman] to meet the prime minister, Ismail Haniya."
Thus far, no invite has been offered.
Froman believes the current impasse is a chicken and egg situation.
"My premier sees this [Gaza incursion] only as a reaction to the Qassams," he said.
"Ghazi is talking about a daily aggression against the Palestinians, but my prime minister is waiting to see if Haniya invites me. The minute that he does, Tsahal [the Israeli army] will stop the attacks, not only from the time we meet, but from the minute that the invitation is announced. That will be the step towards the Palestinians, and there will be a total stop to aggression in the Gaza Strip if there is a hudna [ceasefire]."
The second step outlined in the plan could be even trickier - for both sides.
It involves Jerusalem being recognised as a "City of Peace" for both peoples. To achieve this, the document says, "the two sides must announce a ceasefire [and] release of all prisoners" with priority being given to those needing medical treatment, such as Corporal Shalit.
"The next phase, assuming the truce is maintained, will include the freeing of Palestine - and all the Palestinian prisoners, in stages."
Froman insists he has received assurances that if invited to Gaza, he will be authorised by Olmert to bring a "very generous offer" with him, conditional on a ceasefire being announced.
"In the best case," he says, "we would announce a ceasefire - we rabbis in the name of the people of Israel, they in the name of the Palestinian people.
"They would bring the boy [Shalit] and we would bring from our side a group of Palestinian prisoners, perhaps the women, and those ill prisoners who need medical treatment."
The next phase, according to the document, would allow for more detailed negotiations.
Under the plan the truce "will give the opportunity for both sides to embark on a process of negotiations covering all the suspended issues such as settlements, [a Palestinian] right of return and Jerusalem, in the hope of rapidly reaching a solution enabling the establishment of a free prosperous Palestinian state side by side with the Israeli state".
Cooperation between Abbas and Haniya is also seen as crucial
The document notes that an immediate work plan has already been forwarded to the Hamas leadership in Damascus following a meeting with the (currently imprisoned) West Bank Hamas leader, Asad Farhat.
It goes on to entrust Haniya, with negotiating responsibilities "because he and his cabinet members have stronger relations with the kidnappers of the Israeli soldiers and the launchers of the rockets than the PA President [Mahmoud] Abbas".
However, cooperation between Abbas and Haniya is seen as necessary to ensure that the desired truce includes all Palestinian factions and forces.
The lost trust
But perhaps the biggest obstacle Rabbi Froman's peace plan will face is persuading the Hamas administration that the Israelis can be trusted to negotiate in good faith.
The first attempt to launch the initiative took place on June 26 at a public platform in Jerusalem with the Hamas MK Muhammed Abu Tir and Palestinian minister for Jerusalem Khalid Abu Arafa.
It was scuppered before it had even begun when the Shin Bet allegedly detained both men and warned them not to attend.
Two days later, the two men were arrested by Israeli forces, along with a third of the Hamas cabinet.
Shortly afterwards, on June 30, Israel revoked both men's citizenship and residency rights in Jerusalem, as the onslaught in Gaza intensified.
The tragic cycle of events that action triggered has claimed many hundreds of Palestinian, Lebanese and Israeli lives.
Still, Rabbi Froman waits in his Tekoa settlement for a phone call, praying that those responsible may yet be persuaded to return to a peace proposal apparently sabotaged in favour of a war that everyone lost.
On Tuesday evening, about 150 people attended a demonstration on Prague's Peace Square—or Namesti Miru. The gathering was organized by the Humane Party, a movement which includes numerous factions all united by their desire to prevent a possible U.S. anti-missile base on Czech territory.
Martin Mikule, a member of the youth group "Revolution", told Radio Praha the protesters opposed the base, ""Because we are opposed to the American foreign policy, which we see as the reason for the state of the world today, for the wars which are waged not only in Lebanon, but also in the rest of the world. The base here in Europe—not only in the Czech Republic, but also in Poland or Britain—is part of strengthening such hegemony of the United States."
Czech Business Weekly reports two separate public opinion polls conducted by Median in July and Stem in August found 83 percent and 51 percent of Czech, respectively, opposed to hosting a U.S. base. The Stem poll also showed that 61 percent want a referendum held on the issue, the main demand of the “Ne základnám” (no to bases) initiative, which includes more than 30 civic organizations, including Greenpeace and Soldiers Against War; a protest is planned for Aug. 21. The Communists (KSČM) will demand a referendum at the Aug. 29 session of Parliament.
Most adamantly opposed are Czechs aged over 50, who remember the Cold War occupation of the Soviet military, according to the Median agency poll.
Opposition to hosting an anti-missile base (designed to be part of a proposed global defence shield) has led the United States to look beyond its preferred option of locating interceptor units – capable of knocking out a ballistic missile fired by terrorists or hostile nations – in the Czech Republic or Poland, with British officials saying U.S. defense planners are making discreet inquiries.
The following article is taken from the Prague Daily Monitor.
Activists stage protest against proposed US missile base
About 150 people attended a demonstration at namesti Miru in Prague yesterday staged by the No to Bases group against a proposed US missile base in the Czech Republic and called for a referendum on the issue.
The activists said that the base would not enhance Czech national security as it was devised to protect the US, not Europe.
It also would not contribute to the Czech economy since it would employ only a handful of Czechs, using supplies from US sources, organisers said.
The demonstration was called organised to coincide with the anniversary of the Warsaw Pact invasion of Czechoslovakia on August 21, 1968. Activist Jan Tamas said that on August 21, 1968 foreign troops entered Czechoslovakia without its citizens' consent.
At present, too, there is the threat that foreign troops will enter the Czech Republic, while there is no guarantee that the public could decide on this in a referendum, Tamas said.
No to Bases associates over 30 groups such as the Humanistic Movement, the International Peace Movement, the Centre of Culture and the Community for Human Development.
Organisers said that they would stage a number of similar protests. Last Monday, some 100 protesters marched in Prague.
Over 1,000 people have signed the petition for the referendum, Tamas said, adding that organisers would pass it to the Chamber of Deputies petition committee by the end of the week.
US experts have visited Czech military districts in Boletice, south Bohemia, Jince, central Bohemia, and Libava, north Moravia. The results of the inspection tour are to be published by the end of August.
Washington plans to station radars and ten defence missiles in Europe by 2011 to destroy missiles launched from potential risk countries such as North Korea and Iran. The Pentagon may want to place one part of the system in the Czech Republic and the other in Poland.
However, the British daily The Times reported last Wednesday that Britain is also be considered. The daily said that owing to the negative stance of the Czech and Polish publics, the US Department of Defense officials had turned to British embassy in Washington asking whether Britain would accept a possible request for building a base with ten missiles on its territory.
According to polls, most Czechs and Poles oppose the construction of a US base in their countries. A recent STEM poll shows that most Czechs want the issue to be decided in a referendum.
Out of the five parties in parliament, only the Civic Democrats (ODS) clearly support the idea of a US base in the Czech Republic.
Monday, August 21, 2006
The extent that cities and towns go to for "economic development" is, as all of you know, ridiculous. While handing out gifts to corporate entities, residents' concerns are brushed aside with the flick of the wrist.
This approach can be exemplified by the lengths East Moline, Illinois was willing to go to land the Triumph Pork Processing plant.
Triumph wants to build the world's largest meat processing plant (somewhere north of 600,000 square feet) at a total cost of more that $135 million (at least $60 million in the building alone). Estimates are that more than 16,000 hogs per day would be processed at this plant. This would likely result in the construction of many new large-scale hog farms in proximity to the plant.
Residents are less then thrilled and continue the battle over it.
In "Stop the Presses: Unconscionable incentives undermine economic development" written by Mike Kroll with the The Zephyr in Galesburg, Illinois, reports:
East Moline wants this plant built on undeveloped land near the Rock River. City officials have declared this land to be “blighted” and unlikely to develop without the application of special incentives available to Tax Increment Financing districts. “In order to provide adequate infrastructure to the Project, [East Moline] has determined that it is in the best interest of the City and the health, safety, morals and welfare of the residents of the City for the City to improve its infrastructure including the extension of water and sanitary sewer service to the Project.” Such utility extensions are not uncommon and seem to be very reasonable incentive but East Moline sweetened the pot further to help Triumph get the project rolling. As a TIF district any of the added property taxes that are collected due to the millions of dollars of improvements made to this property by Triumph won't go to tax-supported public bodies like the city, schools, or county. Instead, the initial $5 million these funds will be returned to Triumph as an incentive gift. But this is only the start of TIF money promised to Triumph.
Hog processing plants use lots and lots of water and generate lots and lots of wastewater. This wastewater is contaminated with fats, grease, solids, bacteria and ammonia (to name a few ingredients) and must be treated before discarded into the Rock River. To do this East Moline has promised another $8 million in TIF money to construct an on-site sewage treatment plant that will be owned by the city but leased to Triumph for just $100 per year. Triumph is expected to “operate and maintain the sewage treatment facility at its sole cost and expense.”
To provide all the water needed by this hog processing plant East Moline is willing to go well beyond just running a water line to Triumph's plant. East Moline promised to “construct a high water tower, at its own expense.” The water main and tower must provide water flow of at least 4,250 gallons of water per minute 24 hours per day, 365 days per year and a capacity of over 3.4 million gallons daily. Now to East Moline's credit they aren't offering to simply give all this away for free, just nearly free. Triumph would be guaranteed a water rate of $0.41 per 1,000 gallons over a 20-year contract (with annual adjustments for inflation over the life of the contract). Another $7 million of TIF money will be used to pay for these water infrastructure improvements.
In addition to water and sewer the plant will also require gas and electric service but we can't have Triumph paying for these either so East Moline will absorb that cost as well. Not to be left out, Rock Island County is committed to improving Barstow Road along side the Triumph site to handle the weight and extra traffic that will result from hundreds of hog trucks entering and exiting the Triumph plant daily. Once these improvements are completed the county will turn over responsibility for the road to East Moline who will rename it Triumph Parkway. At this point we have a commitment of more that $20 million in TIF dollars plus low-ball water and sewer pricing but that's just not enough! Since TIF funds are based on the future prospect of property tax revenue East Moline will need to sell $20 million in revenue bonds to provide the upfront funding demanded by the project. As with all borrowing this will incur costs for interest and fees.
The following is from the Quad-City Times.
Protesters rally against pork plant
By Barb Ickes
BARSTOW, Ill. — The signs in the parking lot made clear the purpose of the rally: “We can do better than hogs,” one sign read.
“(East Moline Mayor John) Thodos 1-term mayor,” another read.
Residents living near the site of a soon-to-be-built hog-processing plant in East Moline are spending much of the weekend rallying for change. They hope to submit affidavits to the Illinois governor’s office, demanding an environmental impact study on the land that will be used for Triumph Foods’ new pork processing plant.
A rally was held all day Saturday at the Archery Zone on Barstow Road near the future site of the plant. Today, there will be an informational meeting from 1-5 p.m. at the Boulevard, 1801 10th St., Moline.
Many residents fought against the plant and lost, learning recently that the State of Illinois is giving $16 million to the effort. But the neighbors are not giving up, including those who live miles away from Barstow Road.
When a couple from neighboring Silvis, Ill., approached organizer Art Norris on Saturday, they wondered how the Triumph plant might affect them.
“We can expect a smell for a 5-mile radius, and you’ll be getting some of the pollution from it in your area of the Rock River,” Norris said, prompting the pair to fill out an affidavit to submit to the governor’s office.
Though residents seemed to trickle into the meeting place early Saturday, Norris said the more impressive part of the rally came later with speakers from various environmental groups sharing their concerns about the plant.
“It went great. We had a lot of people come through today,” he said. And about 200 people signed affidavits that he said they will use to demand that environmental impact statements be completed on the site.
Norris, who also lives off Barstow Road, said his purpose is to educate his neighbors about specific concerns related to the hog plant.
“We know that 244 semi trucks will be going along (Barstow Road) every day,” he said. “That’ll affect air quality.
“There’s not a good plan in place for a waste-water treatment plant,” he said. “Hog waste is 110 times harder to break down than human waste.”
He also worries about area wildlife, he said, including the hundreds of migratory birds that flock to the two lakes across Barstow Road from the Triumph site. Endangered mussels live in a creek that follows the property, and neighbors also worry about what will happen to their property values.
“How can you get $16 million from the government for 1,000 jobs when, at the same time, you’re destroying 400 homes?” he asked.
At least one of the people who appeared at Saturday’s rally has a different kind of interest in the project. RiverStone Group Inc. owns the land on which Triumph plans to build, and the company’s spokesman, Bob Imler, attended the rally.
“I’m just learning,” he said earlier in the day. “I’m looking forward to hearing the speakers — to what they have to say.”
In Michigan, water levels in the Great Lakes have already dropped and winters are getting shorter, putting recreational fishing at risk.
According to recent reports, lower water levels, higher water temperatures and lack of winter ice cover may severely affect stocks of trout and whitefish. Experts say that fresh water flowing into the Great Lakes could decrease by another 20 percent if global warming pollution is not dramatically reduced.
Sure there are a lot more dire things happening as a result of global warming then risks to recreational fishing in a small Michigan town, but it may take a whole lot of such small towns getting the news before big, huge countries and their big headed but small brained leaders to get it.
Mackinaw City, Michigan, maybe, is one such town.
The following is from Sootoday News.
Local community groups demonstrate at Water Festival, call for action on global warming
Citizens in fishing gear carry message on poles to congressional candidates
MACKINAW CITY — Donning full fishing attire and sporting fishing poles with messages hanging from the hooks, local residents of all ages held a demonstration at the Water Festival to draw attention to the impacts of global warming on the region, and to urge Congressman Bart Stupak to make commitments to curb its impacts.
"Today our goal is to send a clear message to our Congressman, Bart Stupak, letting him know how deeply concerned his constituents are about the issue of global warming," said Michael Powers, Project Hot Seat Field Organizer. "We're seeing the impacts of global warming right here in the Great Lakes, and we want a Congress that's committed to reel in the problem."
Michigan Project Hot Seat activists and volunteers plan to continue their campaign through the mid-term elections, seeking a public commitment from candidates to address the issue of global warming from their local representatives.
"If we don't see action soon, I'm afraid our lakes will suffer, and so will fishing. It's a family tradition around here that I'd like to be able to share with my grandchildren," said Ray Weglarz, one of the attendees.
Fishermen are concerned about the impacts of global warming on local lakes and rivers.
Scientists are saying that warmer waters in the Great Lakes will encourage invasive species, and will reduce habitat for trout and whitefish by a third.
Members of Trout Unlimited, church groups and local watershed councils added their voices during the demonstration, calling on local leaders to act on recent reports that recommend reductions of greenhouse gases to preserve habitat for fish.
Messages attached to the fishing poles read "Stop global warming!" and "Save our fish!"
In the early morning hours of January 18, 2002, a Canadian Pacific Railway freight train, loaded with tons of highly toxic chemicals, was headed south from Alberta, Canada to St. Paul, Minnesota. Just outside the small community of Minot, North Dakota, the freight train careened off negligently maintained tracks and several tanker cars carrying highly toxic anhydrous ammonia were punctured. The derailment caused the release of 250,000 gallons of toxic substance and sent deadly vapors across miles of quiet landscape.
Thousands of people were exposed to the lethal vapors in what was the world’s largest anhydrous ammonia spill. The victims were left with serious and permanent injuries to their eyes, skin, and respiratory systems. One victim died. To-date, however, none of those victims has been compensated.
Cases filed against Canadian Pacific by derailment victims have been remanded to the United States Eighth Circuit Court of Appeals. Cases that were in court or destined for courts were stalled when attorneys for CP Rail argued they were exempt from prosecution under a 1970 pre-emption law. Victims are now awaiting an Eighth Circuit Court decision regarding jurisdiction before any cases can proceed.
Four and a half years later victims of the 2002 Canadian Pacific Railway derailment and chemical spill say they're tired of waiting for their voices to be heard.
Tom Lundeen, Minot, told KXMCTV, "The railroad has put a stop to all of us. And so it's time to get some kind of grass roots organization and say we're not just going to sit here and take it."
Said Minot resident Kerry Beechie, "We're tired of what's going on with the railroad. Basically we're at a standstill but we don't feel that we should even be at this point. They need to take care of what they did."
Adds Jennifer Johnson, also of Minot, "Railroad safety is an issue throughout the whole United States. So we feel it is very, very important and we don't feel enough of the message has gotten out."
Organizer Tom Lundeen said at a rally in Minot the other day, “The country needs to know this can happen anywhere. It’s not just for us. We need to make our voices heard. We’re not just going to go away.”
And today they are joined by others in front of CP Rail Headquarters in Minneapolis all day in one more attempt at justice.
The following is from WCCO (Minneapolis).
Minot Derailment Victims To Demonstrate Monday
Victims of the 2002 train derailment and anhydrous ammonia spill in Minot, N.D., are planning a demonstration at the U.S. headquarters of the Canadian Pacific Railway in Minneapolis Monday.
The demonstration will be from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. outside the company's downtown office.
These residents are upset that their lawsuit against the railroad over the derailment have been stalled in the courts. Railroad attorneys say the residents' complaints are with the courts and not the railroad.
The derailment on the early morning of Jan. 18, 2002, sent a cloud of toxic anhydrous ammonia over the city, killing one man as he tried to escape the chemical, and sending hundreds of people to the hospital.
The National Transportation Safety Board later ruled that inadequate track maintenance and inspections were to blame, a finding the railroad disputed.