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Archive for November, 2007

A TOUGH TIME THIS THANKSGIVING

Posted in News Brief on November 23rd, 2007

FOOD BANKS SUFFER FROM SHARPLY REDUCED DONATIONS FORCING MANY TO GO HUNGRY ON THIS,THE MOST AMERICAN OF HOLIDAYS

turkdinner.jpg The fact that the following condition exists for many in America today is disgracefull. As we give thanks this day, we should remember those who are suffering and commit to embrace their issues in the year to follow. Perhaps if we can learn that we are only as strong as the weakest among us, we would have a chance of maintaining this social experiment that is the United States of America for our children and their children’s children to enjoy. Each and every one of us must commit to banishing from positions of power in our land, those who feel that it is acceptable to unfairly profit on the backs of others.

Happy Thanksgiving.

-LIB

Today as millions of Americans sit down to their turkey dinners with all the trimmings, the safety net of hundreds of food banks and pantries that put food on the table of the nation’s poor is creaking and torn as a result of sharply reduced donations. From New England to California warehouses that should be groaning with surplus foodstuffs are going half empty.

“We’re bracing ourselves for a very tough winter, especially with home heating fuel prices at record highs in the north-east,” said Mark Quandt of the regional food bank in New York. “People living in poverty or near poverty just can’t sustain those types of increases.”

America’s obsession with energy independence from Middle East oil may be to blame. The country’s farmers have brought in the greatest corn harvest since the Second World War, but their surpluses which once were bought by the government and sent to food banks are no longer available. Instead the corn is turned into heavily subsidised ethanol and less land is available to grow food.

And the corn syrup that turns up in almost every product found on a US supermarket shelf is in short supply. A cheap dollar means that food exports are booming and a crippling two-year drought in the south has left fruit and vegetables withered and useless.

Unnoticed by most Americans, as they drop off their old canned goods and surplus food at schools and church halls for the Thanksgiving food drives, the entire system may be heading for collapse.

MORE….

Source: The Independant (GB)

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CALIFORNIA TAKES MATTEL AND OTHERS TO COURT OVER TOXIC TOYS

Posted in Corporate Carelessness, Corporate Greed, Corporate Polluters, Health Watch, News Brief, Toxic Toys on November 20th, 2007

ALLEGES MATTEL, TOYS “R” US, WAL-MART, TARGET, SEARS, KB TOYS, COSTCO AND OTHERS KNOWINGLY SOLD TOYS WITH UNSAFE LEVELS OF LEAD. EACH OF THE NAMED DEFENDANTS COULD BE REQUIRED TO PAY AS MUCH AS $2,500 PER VIOLATION

Spinning Top RecallThe ridiculous belief in deregulation and in the ability of corporations to self police, a cornerstone of the Bush business philosophy, took a crashing blow to its credibility yesterday as the State of California filed suit in Superior Court against 20 companies, including Mattel, , alleging that the defendants “knowingly” sold toys containing “unlawful quantities of lead. Moreover, the named companies “failed to provide warning of the risk to consumers.”

The legal justification for the state’s action is a 1986 California law, the Safe Drinking Water and Toxic Enforcement Act, better known to state residents as Proposition 65. Joining the state in the suit is the City of Los Angeles. If California is successful in the courts, each of the named defendants could be required to pay as much as $2,500.00 per toy found to contain excessive levels of lead.

Kudos to California for having the courage to step up and act in this matter. In a more perfect world, filings like this would be the job of the Federal Government. That is, in a more perfect world.

It is indeed criminal that toys containing excessive levels of lead, or any other toxin for that matter (think the Aqua Dots covered in the date-rape drug), could even be allowed to leave the factory, let alone be exported around the world and distributed to retail stores without a thorough inspection. The fact that this happened proves how little these companies care about anything or anyone other then their financial bottom line. Otherwise, this scandal would have been caught early on and no one would be aware of it today. For ignoring their responsibility to our children, the named defendants should pay and pay dearly. This is the only thing that these corporations understand.

The only question that remains in light of the California filing is what will be the ultimate end destination of these recalled products? My fear is that they will wind up in the “Big Lots’” and Marshall’s of the world from which they will make their way into many poorer homes, homes where the parents are not as aware of the present scandal. This is an aspect of the story the no one is apparently willing to address, and which should ideally be addressed before the holiday season begins in a few days.

If you feel as strongly as I do about this matter, contact your local media. Many if enough of us make an issue of this, we can prevent it from being swept under the table.

- LIB

MORE….

Source: The Associated Press

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RECYCLED ELECTONICS EXPOSE OVERSEAS WORKERS TO A COCKTAIL OF TOXIC CHEMICALS

Posted in Eco Thugs, News Brief, Toxic Products on November 19th, 2007

WORKERS IN COUNTRIES SUCH AS CHINA, INDIA AND NIGERIA USE HAMMERS, GAS BURNERS AND THEIR BARE HANDS TO EXTRACT METALS, GLASS AND OTHER RECYCLABLES

a5bb51c7288bc1d456e1d7aaf6f05e181.jpgEditors Note! While I must confess to occasionally wondering where those outdated cell phones, computers and other digital marvels wound up after I dropped them off at the recycling center, like most people, it was not something I lost a lot of sleep over. Hey, I did my part recycling these items rather than merely throwing them in the trash. Now it was someone else’s problem.

Had I cared enough to think about it, and cared is the operating word in this sentence, I would have known that the work was being outsourced, more than likely to some economically depressed part of the world where labor is cheap and regulation non-existent. No problem with little issues like health and safety in these parts of the world.

Perhaps the way to properly approach the recycling issue would be to make the companies who generate billions of dollars designing, manufacturing and selling these products responsible for their recycling.

If this were the case, I am sure that the recycling process would become safe and simple and that many of toxic ingredients utilized today would be replaced with items far more benign to both the earth and her inhabitants.

It is time that we as a society face up to the reality that there are not enough far off places left on this planet to store all of the junk that we generate, nor should we expect to continue to rely on world’s poor to do our bidding without concern for their own well-being.

Recycling is more than global warming. It is time that we wake up to that fact.

- LIB

Most Americans think they’re helping the earth when they recycle their old computers, televisions and cell phones. But chances are they’re contributing to a global trade in electronic trash that endangers workers and pollutes the environment overseas.

While there are no precise figures, activists estimate that 50 to 80 percent of the 300,000 to 400,000 tons of electronics collected for recycling in the U.S. each year ends up overseas. Workers in countries such as China, India and Nigeria then use hammers, gas burners and their bare hands to extract metals, glass and other recyclables, exposing themselves and the environment to a cocktail of toxic chemicals.

“It is being recycled, but it’s being recycled in the most horrific way you can imagine,” said Jim Puckett of the Basel Action Network, the Seattle-based environmental group that tipped off Hong Kong authorities. “We’re preserving our own environment, but contaminating the rest of the world.”

MORE….

Source: Associated Press

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REPORT: CLIMATE CHANGE WORSE THAN PREDICTED

Posted in Global Warming, News Brief on November 16th, 2007

THE REPORT FOUND IF CURRENT TRENDS CONTINUE THE WORLD’S TEMPERATURE WILL RISE APPROXIMATELY THREE DEGREES CELSIUS BY THE END OF THIS CENTURY WELL ABOVE WHAT ARE CONSIDERED DANGEROUS LEVELS.

2007-09-22-waves.jpgA REPORT by Australian scientists has warned that the world is warming faster than predicted by the United Nations’ top climate change body.

The report, prepared by Dr Graeme Pearman, former head of the CSIRO’s atmospheric research unit, found temperatures and greenhouse pollution were rising faster than forecast by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC).

The report, prepared for the Climate Institute, noted that the IPCC’s recent Fourth Assessment Report used material published up to mid-2006, but many important new observations had been published since.

“These suggest that the IPCC assessment is underestimating the risks of adverse impacts due to increased warming during this century and that impacts previously considered to be at the upper end of likelihood are now more probable,” the report reads.

“Greenhouse emissions are rising faster than the worst-case IPCC scenarios.”

MORE….

Source: courier.com.au

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FEDERAL APPEALS COURT REJECTS BUSH ADMIN FUEL-ECONOMY STANDARDS FOR LIGHT TRUCKS AND SPORT UTILITY VEHICLES

Posted in Corporate Polluters, Corruption Watch, Global Warming, Government Shenanigans, News Brief on November 16th, 2007

RULING IS A MAJOR SETBACK FOR BOTH THE AUTO INDUSTRY AND THE WHITE HOUSE

suv.jpg A three-judge panel of the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals, in San Francisco, voided the new regulations for 2008-2011 model year vehicles and told the Transportation Department to produce new rules taking into account the value of reducing greenhouse gas emissions.

The court, siding with 4 environmental groups and 13 states and cities, also asked the government to explain why it still treated light trucks — which include pickups, sport utility vehicles and minivans — more mildly than passenger cars.

Under the rejected rule, the average fuel economy of light trucks was to rise to 23.5 miles a gallon in 2010, up from the current standard of 22.5 m.p.g., but still well below the current standard for passenger cars of 27.5 m.p.g.

MORE….

Source: NY Times

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CARMAKERS LOBBY BEHIND THE SCENES TO KILL HIGHER FUEL EFFICIENCY FUEL STANDARDS

Posted in Corporate Greed, Corruption Watch, News Brief on November 14th, 2007

PLAN WOULD REQUIRE AUTOMAKERS TO ACHIEVE AN AVERAGE OF 35 MILES PER GALLON ACROSS THEIR FLEETS BY 2020, AN INCREASE OF 40% FROM CURRENT STANDARDS

image1414171g.jpg Despite a well-funded attempt to position themselves as “friends of the environment”, it is apparent that other than the mountains of green hype extolling the benefits of the latest hybrid, electric, or fuel cell technology, little has actually changed in the way that the auto industry does business. Hence, it should come as no surprise that while the automakers wrap themselves in all things green, they are working behind the scenes to kill legislation, which would mandate higher fuel efficiency standards in the not-too-distant future.

Under a plan, which passed the Senate in June and is currently wending its way through the House of Representatives, automakers would be required to achieve an average of 35 miles per gallon across their fleets by 2020. This represents an increase of 40% from current standards.

By their unwillingness to comply with this remarkably sane proposal, automakers are tipping their hands and telling us what they really think of the long-term potential of the alternate technologies currently in development. This leads me to conclude that their greenness is nothing more than marketing hype designed to sell cars to socially conscious consumers.

More importantly, their position shows a complete lack of concern for today’s ecological reality and the problems that we, as citizens of the earth, are encountering from greenhouse gasses emissions directly related to the burning of fossil fuels.

While none of this is all that surprising, it is disappointing to see that once again, unmitigated greed has trumped creativity and society is the loser.

Shame on them.

- LIB

Touting a hydrogen-powered Chevrolet, a Lincoln with a super-efficient gasoline engine and a hybrid Dodge, car makers plan to use the Los Angeles auto show this week to demonstrate that they’re on a fast track to delivering vehicles that offer dramatically improved fuel economy.

But in Washington, where the rules on reducing gasoline consumption are made, car makers are fighting to block the toughest proposal under consideration for raising federal mileage standards.

MORE….

Source WSJ

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“MR. BIG” NOT BIG ON REPUBLICAN CANDIDATES ENVIRONMENATAL POLICY

Posted in Conscious Actions, Miscellaneous on November 14th, 2007

“I DON’T THINK THERE’S ONE REPUBLICAN I’D EVER VOTE FOR. IN TERMS OF THEIR CORRUPTION AND THEIR INSENSITIVITY TO WHAT’S REALLY NEEDED IN OUR SOCIETY, THEY’RE REPUGNANT” – Chris Noth

chris-noth-large.jpg“There may be a few good ones (Republicans) out there, but I haven’t read of any.”

“Whenever you bring up the issue [of global warming] with them, they’re like, ‘Let’s wait and see what the facts are,’” Noth continued. “If we’re going to drill for oil, we should get on Crawford [Bush’s ranch in Texas] and put some oil wells there!

“I think this administration has been probably the biggest tragedy in the history of the United States.” So far he said he supports Democrat Barack Obama, but he wants to see more candidates talk about global warming.

“They’re all diverted by wars in foreign countries,” he said. “The real war is going to be when nature decides they’ve had enough. I don’t think any of them are acting with the kind of immediacy that’s needed.”

Source: US Magazine

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NEW RESEARCH RAISES QUESTIONS ABOUT THE LONG-TERM EFFECTIVENESS OF ADHD DRUGS

Posted in Health Watch, News Brief, Public Service Announcement on November 13th, 2007

WHILE RITALIN AND CONCERTA CAN WORK WELL IN THE SHORT TERM, OVER A THREE-YEAR PERIOD THEY BROUGHT ABOUT NO DEMONSTRABLE IMPROVEMENT IN CHILDREN’S BEHAVIOR. THEY ALSO FOUND THE DRUGS COULD STUNT GROWTH.

250px-High_school_students2.jpgA team of American scientists conducting the Multimodal Treatment Study of Children with ADHD (MTA) has found that while drugs such as Ritalin and Concerta can work well in the short term, over a three-year period they brought about no demonstrable improvement in children’s behaviour. They also found the drugs could stunt growth.

The research, which will be broadcast on the BBC Panorama programme tonight, shows that GPs in the UK prescribed ADHD drugs such as Ritalin and Concerta to around 55,000 children last year – at a cost of £28m to the NHS.

MORE….

Source: Guardian UK

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STUDY: ACNE CURE MAY RAISE SUICIDE RISK

Posted in Health Watch, News Brief, Public Service Announcement on November 13th, 2007

ROACCUTANE, A DRUG USED TO TREAT THOSE SUFFERING FROM SEVERE ACNE COULD CAUSE SEVERE DEPRESSION AND EVEN LEAD TO SUICIDAL THOUGHTS, ACCORDING TO NEW RESEARCH

2007-08-20-painpills.jpg Roaccutane, appears to interfere with the brain’s use of serotonin — the feel-good hormone — a study published today found.

In the United Kingdom 26 patients taking the drug have committed suicide. The Medicines and Healthcare Products Regulatory Agency [MHRA] also recorded 19 attempted suicides, and 31 patients considering suicide, among those taking Roaccutane.

In the study published in the journal Experimental Biology and Medicine today, researchers at the University of Bath found that the drug, also known as isotretinoin, could disrupt the way serotonin carries signals from one part of the brain to another.

MORE….

Source:

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BACTERIA REACTOR BRINGS HYDROGEN FUEL CARS CLOSER

Posted in Alternative Energy, Alternative Fuel Vehicles, Clean Energy, News Brief, Sustainable Transportation on November 13th, 2007

NEW TECHNOLOGY CAN EFFICIENTLY PRODUCE HYDROGEN FUEL FROM ANY TYPE OF BIODEGRADABLE ORGANIC MATTER

altfuelcars.jpgThe dream of using hydrogen, the most plentiful element in the universe, as a green fuel to cut climate change moves a step closer today with the announcement that it can be made with the help of bacteria.

Public transport systems worldwide are moving toward hydrogen-powered engines as an alternative to petrol engines, because they burn hydrogen to produce only water. But the problem is that most hydrogen available today is produced by expensive processes that require the burning of polluting fossil fuels, such as natural gas.

Now scientists have developed a method that relies on bacteria in a specially designed reactor that can efficiently produce hydrogen fuel from any type of biodegradable organic matter, so that a glorified compost heap could protentially provide an abundant source of the clean-burning energy.

MORE….

Source: UK Telegraph

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