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  • Garden Mosaics projects promote science education while connecting young and old people as they work together in local gardens.
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#124 -- Limits of Regulation, 9-Jan-2008

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Rachel's Precaution Reporter #124

"Foresight and Precaution, in the News and in the World"

Wednesday, January 9, 2008...........Printer-friendly version
www.rachel.org -- To make a secure donation, click here.
:::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::: 

Featured stories in this issue...

Regulation vs. Precaution at Vermont Yankee Nuclear Plant
When we have a perfectly good strategy for dealing with dangerous
technology (the precautionary principle), why don't otherwise sane
elected representatives, senators, and governors invoke it?
Common Sense and Science Say Cut the Fertilizer
"The rationale [for the precautionary principle] is that modern
technologies and human activities can inflict long-term, global-scale
environmental damage and that conclusive scientific evidence of such
damage may be available too late to avert it."
Op-Ed: Shut Down the Zoo
The case might be made that zoos can serve as genetic incubators in
the face of widespread habitat destruction. But the city's
precautionary principle, like the Hippocratic oath, should prevail on
us to do no harm in seeking to prevent extinction.
Military Mindfields
"Mind modification technologies are 'changing so rapidly that the
science is being formed faster than the applications can be fully
recognized.' Considering the enormous potential of these tools to help
liberate the mind or control it at a level beyond anything previously
known, the U.S. public should demand to have a rigorous 'precautionary
principle' put in place."
Interview: Gordon Brown on the Terror Threat To Britain
The precautionary principle is increasingly being invoked to curb
civil liberties, start pre-emptive wars, torture suspects, and hold
people incommunicado in secret prisons for years without formal
charges. The purpose of precaution is to protect the things we value
and cherish. If you value and cherish war and torture and clandestine
prisons then it is logical to invoke precaution to justify them.
Banning the (New) Lightbulb
Once again we find a critic of the precautionary principle
distorting it in order to bash it: "The precautionary principle
dictates that in the face of possible danger to human health, even in
the absence of complete proof of that danger, it is best not to permit
the hazard until its safety (rather than its danger) is proven beyond
a shadow of a doubt." Such distortions are unethical, but the money
is good.

::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::
From: Rutland (Vt.) Herald, Jan. 9, 2008
[Printer-friendly version]

REGULATION IS NO GUARANTEE

By Bill Pearson, Brattleboro

Stephen Wark, director of consumer affairs and public information for
the Department of Public Service, recently defended his department's
"strong record" of regulatory oversight of Vermont Yankee, claiming
that this record is "beyond reproach." But regulatory oversight is
necessarily constrained by what those regulations are.

They have to do with how much Vermont Yankee can raise the temperature
of the Connecticut River, for example, or how many millirems of
radiation are permitted to bombard elementary schools, or whether
governors in adjoining states have a voice in demanding independent
safety assessments. Also, whether Wackenhut security guards can nap on
the job, or how many cracks are allowed in steam dryers, or how many
of Vermont Yankee's numerous effluent discharge points into the
Connecticut River need to be monitored for radioactive isotopes, or
how a 20-year operating license extension would affect dwarf wedge
mussels, brook floaters, rattlebox, and puritan tiger beetles.

Regulations, in other words, while necessary, can be hotly debated by
all sides ad nauseum and serve to divert attention from more
fundamental concerns.

For example, shouldn't citizens (and citizen advocacy groups) who
stand to lose property, livelihoods, and even their lives in the event
of a catastrophic accident at Vermont Yankee have a voice at least
equal to that of a multi-billion-dollar out-of-state corporation
intent primarily on maximizing its profits?

When we have a perfectly good strategy for dealing with dangerous
technology (the precautionary principle), why don't otherwise sane
elected representatives, senators, and governors invoke it?

Aren't residents entitled to truthful information about Vermont
Yankee's routine low-level radiological emissions? What isotopes, what
half-lives, what potential damage to tissues, cells, and DNA; what
risk of cancers, leukemia, birth defects, immune and endocrine system
disorders? And please explain why Vermont Yankee spokesmen constantly
proclaim that Vermont Yankee's ionizing radiation emissions are safe
when the National Academy of Sciences in 2005 concluded that there is
no safe dose of ionizing radiation.

If nuclear energy is safe, why do insurance companies refuse to insure
against losses from nuclear accidents?

If evacuation plans are not designed to protect 100 percent of the
affected population regardless of weather conditions or time of day,
isn't there an unconscionable moral dilemma involved?

Why hasn't a nuclear power plant been built in the U.S. since the
Three Mile Island disaster in 1979? Maybe Wall Street knows better
than to finance them.

The Vermont Department of Public Service and the Vermont State Nuclear
Advisory Panel are charged with ensuring the public's health and
safety. Focusing only on regulatory oversight won't get the job done.

Copyright 2008 Rutland Herald

Return to Table of Contents

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From: News-Press (Fort Myers, Fla.), Jan. 8, 2008
[Printer-friendly version]

COMMON SENSE AND SCIENCE SAY CUT THE FERTILIZER

By Marti Daltry

I would like to address the comments made by the critics of a stronger
fertilizer ordinance.

The quote ("Fertilizer limits feed debate," Jan. 2) from the Chem
Lawn representative that "common sense is not science" demonstrates a
limited understanding of the application of both science and common
sense in public policymaking.

The Precautionary Principle, used by schools, social and environmental
organizations as well as the U.S. government in creating and deciding
on public policy, is the effective marriage of those two concepts.

The recent publication, "Precautionary Tools for Reshaping
Environmental Policy," states, "The Precautionary Principle calls for
taking action against threatened harm to people and ecosystems even in
the absence of scientific certainty.

"The rationale is that modern technologies and human activities can
inflict long-term, global-scale environmental damage and that
conclusive scientific evidence of such damage may be available too
late to avert it."

One should not abandon either science or common sense when making an
informed decision regarding the sustainable use of our natural
resources.

In this instance, Lee County has moved beyond a bygone era of "tobacco
science" and into a realm of collaborative policymaking with input
from the entire community.

In response to Professor Trenholm's comment that buffer zones of 25
feet are ridiculous, it should be noted that the 25-foot buffer was
established in the South Florida Water Management District rules for
environmental resource permit applications.

In addition, the southeastern region of the FDEP recommends that
homeowners "do not apply fertilizers or pesticides within at least 25
feet of the water's edge or the wetland." Furthermore, the EPA
recommends a minimum riparian buffer of at least 7 meters, or almost
23 feet, to treat and remove nitrogen from storm water in urban areas.

Either SWFMD, the DEP, and the EPA are all mistaken or her "sound"
scientific opinion is nothing more than an erroneous "sound bite."

Florida has been in the throes of a decreased rain cycle and the
resulting drought that has persisted and may continue for several
years.

Due to the continuing urban sprawl, population growth, and dry weather
conditions, our water resources are threatened. To spend our finite
water supply on the maintenance of emerald green lawns and water
hungry exotic plants is a waste of precious resources.

We are all affected by water pollution, water quality and water
availability. Our health, our economy and our environment depend upon
it.

We all need to take responsibility to ensure that there will be water
for everyone in Southwest Florida.

Responsible actions include changing our water wasting habits and
reducing our water consumption by using native plants and ground
covers, and reducing our use of fertilizer to prevent excessive
nutrient runoff.

The trend towards a more sustainable, eco-friendly landscape is
growing.

Let's make the sensible changes now before time and our water run out!

==============

Marti Daltry is regional community organizer for the Sierra Club's
Fort Myers office

Copyright 2008, The News-Press

Return to Table of Contents

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From: San Francisco Bay Guardian, Jan. 9, 2008
[Printer-friendly version]

OP-ED: SHUT DOWN THE ZOO

HD Op-Ed: Shut down the San Francisco zoo

The Zoo should be closed, its animals sent to facilities capable of
caring for them, and the land used for affordable housing


By Marc Solomon

In San Francisco's June 1997 special election, the swells convinced
the voters to float $48 million in bonds to build a "world-class" zoo,
which would entail largely privatizing a public institution, leaving
the city on the hook for liabilities while giving a private nonprofit
the benefits.

The initiative passed -- you can't get warmer or fuzzier than a tiger
or a koala -- and the San Francisco Zoo, relinquished to the tutelage
of corporate fixer Jim Lazarus, was largely gifted as another
privatized party space for the rich.

The case might be made that zoos can serve as genetic incubators in
the face of widespread habitat destruction. But the city's
precautionary principle, like the Hippocratic oath, should prevail on
us to do no harm in seeking to prevent extinction.

The record of the privatized Zoo has hardly been a story of
precaution:

oIn 2000, two already sick koalas were kidnapped from the Zoo and not
returned for two days.

oA 12-year-old Siberian tiger, Emily, died in October 2004. Tatiana
was just murdered at age four. Siberian tigers generally live to be 24
years old in captivity.

oTwo elands, majestic African antelope, were introduced improperly
into close quarters with an already resident eland at the Zoo, which
led to a spate of deadly eland-on-eland violence and the deaths of the
two newcomers.

oApparently, shoddy attention to detail hastened the demise of Puddles
the hippopotamus in May 2007. Hippos, like African elephants, thrive
in nature preserves located in their native tropical habitat.

If zoos are to be a successful component of protecting endangered
species, it's paramount that their conditions not kill the specimens.
Perhaps an affiliation with a major research institution is required
to ensure that professionalism is the order of the day to ward against
what appears to be amateur hour at the zoo.

It's one thing for the swells to occupy public spaces such as the de
Young Museum, City Hall, and the San Francisco Public Library as
edifications to their egos -- only fellow humans are inconvenienced.
But for the rich to wrap themselves in the distinction of being movers
and shakers in the San Francisco Zoological Society and wring glee
from the glow of imprisoning animals in inhospitable conditions is
truly pathological.

The Zoo should be closed, its animals sent to facilities capable of
caring for them, and the land used for affordable housing. The city
should replace the Zoo with an academic partnership with legitimate
wildlife sanctuaries around the world to subsidize conservation,
produce video footage of animals in their natural habitats, and
arrange trips to see wild animals in the wild for San Francisco youths
who otherwise could not afford it.

That would be a true 21st-century, world-class approach to bringing
the wonder of exotic animals to San Franciscans.

Marc Salomon is a member of the SF Green Party County Council.

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From: Whole Life Times, Jan. 3, 2008
[Printer-friendly version]

MILITARY MINDFIELDS

By Daniel Pinchbeck

Recently, while at a Phoenix, Arizona conference on UFOs, crop
circles, alternative archaeology and other such fringe matters, I
encountered, to my surprise, a true American hero. A straightforward
and unassuming man whose father was a well-respected Alaskan
congressman, Dr. Nick Begich has been waging a long and often lonely
campaign to raise the public's awareness of the extraordinary perils
and potentials of new technologies that can act upon the brain and
influence our cognitive and somatic capacities, often without us
knowing about them. At first, many of the military initiatives and
scientific research projects described by Dr. Begich sound like
science fiction -- the stuff of Philip K. Dick's most paranoid visions
-- but they are quite real, and in many cases already available. A
huge trove of documents, articles and public testimonies assembled by
Begich's team can be found at the website of The Lay Institute.

Confronted with this information, I was shocked at first, and wondered
why it is almost never discussed in the media or public sphere. My
next reaction was to want to run away from thinking about it ever
again. Unfortunately, as Begich makes clear, the only protection we
have against misuse of these discoveries is an increase in public
knowledge and debate about them. The legislative system we inherited
from the 18th Century was not set up to deal with the current
scenario, where rapid-fire developments in technology and science have
immediate political meaning and potentially great social consequences.
It is up to civil society -- and us as individuals -- to step into
this breach. The consequences of not doing so may be severe.

Dr. Begich began his work studying the HAARP (High-frequency Active
Auroral Research Program) Project, an array of radio frequency
transmitters in Alaska designed to affect the ionosphere, an
atmospheric sheath that protects the Earth from solar rays. Beyond
potentially influencing missile guidance systems and changing weather
patterns, HAARP can also be used, potentially, to affect the
brainwaves of civilians over a large geographical area, causing
inexplicable agitation or aggression by beaming ELF (extremely low
frequency) waves or high-frequency pulses beyond the threshold of our
auditory capacity. Dr. Begich objects to HAARP because of this
capacity, and because it changes the delicate ionosphere. Although we
don't know much about the ionosphere, we are treating it as an arena
in which to "plug and play" our experimental technologies.

In the last decades, a huge amount has been learned about the
electromagnetic environment of the human brain and body. This
knowledge, as Dr. Begich discusses in his latest book, Controlling the
Human Mind: The Technologies of Political Control or Tools for Peak
Performance (Earthpulse Press, 2006), could lead to tremendous
advances in healing and in methods of self-development, or to weapons
that "pierce the very integrity of the human being." Potentially,
memory, emotion and cognitive function can be transformed by these
technologies.

Dr. Begich isolates a spooky trend in military thought that sees the
human being reduced to the status of a "data-processing system" that
can be affected or incapacitated depending on the energy inputs it
receives. As one article, "The Mind Has No Firewall," from Parameters,
the U.S. Army War College Journal, put it, "The body is capable not
only of being deceived, manipulated, or misinformed but also shut down
or destroyed -- just as any other data-processing system."
Electromagnetic or acoustic energy waves can alter the individual's
"hardware system" and manipulate the "data" stored in their psyche.
According to Dr. Begich, technologies already exist that can "shift a
person's emotions using remote electromagnetic tools," and "transfer
sound in a way where only the targeted person" hears a voice in their
head.

Interestingly, developments in these areas could lead to breakthroughs
in healing, to tools that greatly increase cognitive function and even
amplify "abilities of individuals for anomalous phenomena" -- psychic
capacities -- according to a military analyst. Biofeedback techniques
have been proven to accelerate skills-based learning and to
successfully treat children with ADD. Use of "binaural beats" can
harmonize relationships between the two hemispheres of the brain,
while tools focusing on the energy fields of the body can augment
acupuncture and other treatment modalities.

Begich calls for an end to government secrecy about study of mind and
behavior control techniques. He notes that the area of mind
modification technologies is "changing so rapidly that the science is
being formed faster than the applications can be fully recognized."
Considering the enormous potential of these tools to help liberate the
mind or control it at a level beyond anything previously known, the
U.S. public should demand to have a rigorous "precautionary principle"
put in place.

Philip K. Dick is great fun to read, but few of us would want to live
in one of his maniacal, paranoid dystopias. Unfortunately, the
powerful knowledge we are now accessing about the intricate workings
of our energetic systems could lead in that direction, if we don't
take action.

Daniel Pinchbeck is the author of Breaking Open the Head: A
Psychedelic Journey into the Heart of Contemporary Shamanism (Broadway
Books, 2002) and 2012: The Return of Quetzalcoatl (Tarcher/Penguin,
2006). His features have appeared in The New York Times Magazine,
Rolling Stone, Esquire, Wired and many other publications.

Whole Life Times, 1200 South Hope St, Suite 300, Los Angeles, CA
90028; Tel: 213.747.6378; Fax: 213.747.6386

Copyright Whole Life Times

Return to Table of Contents

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From: The Guardian (Manchester, U.K.), Jan. 6, 2008
[Printer-friendly version]

INTERVIEW: GORDON BROWN ON THE TERROR THREAT TO BRITAIN

'You've got to show that civil liberties are protected'

The prime minister on terror detention

By Nicholas Watt

Why are you pushing so hard with your plans to extend to 42 days the
period in which a terror suspect can be held without charge? Many
members of your own party, the Lib Dems, the Tories, the DPP, the
former attorney general are all expressing doubts if not outright
opposition.

A few months ago Liberty published its proposals and said that there
were circumstances in which they themselves understood you might have
to go beyond 28 days. They proposed using the Civil Contingencies Act
to do so. They recognised therefore that there are circumstances in
which you may have as a result of the complexity and sophistication to
detain people beyond 28 days. Now what I said to that was look, if in
principle people right across the political spectrum agree that it's
necessary, in certain instances -- unique sometimes perhaps, or
special at least and understood to be rare -- then we ought to try and
find a way and a consensus for doing that.

And that's why I've been determined to build in what I think are the
key elements of something that is acceptable to all sides. And that is
if you have someone detained then you have got to have proper judicial
oversight. You've got to have continuous accountability. You've got to
have parliamentary scrutiny. And I believe that if we could show
people that there is proper judicial oversight, in other words nobody
stays in prison arbitrarily, and if at the same time there's proper
public accountability because an independent reviewer who's an
independent figure looks at what has happened to guarantee that,
nobody will be detained arbitrarily. What you've then got to do is to
satisfy people that all the mechanisms by which civil liberties are
[protected] are put in place. Now that's where the debate is at the
moment. And I think it's a more rich debate than is simply summed up
by a number of days.

Does it frustrate you that you've obviously changed the politics of
this issue, by saying it's not about an arbitrary numbers of days, and
yet there still seems to be very strong opposition?

I don't think there is as much difference of opinion as the headlines
suggest. I've talked at length to Liberty as an organisation. I know
that other political parties in the House of Commons are much
influenced by what Liberty has said. I've got a great deal of respect
for the arguments that have been put forward and I actually think
we're not as far away as people have mentioned from reaching an
understanding about what the best way forward for Britain is. If you
accept that there may be circumstances in which you have to go beyond
28 days and if you accept then as a precautionary principle you should
have the power in legislation to do so, then what you've got to do in
my view is convince people that you've got in place all the
protections against the possibility that there could be arbitrary
treatment of the individual. Now an independent reviewer,
parliamentary accountability, parliamentary scrutiny, judicial
oversight, in fact the application coming not just from the police but
from the DPP and from the Home Secretary, gives you a sense that none
of these things would be done lightly. They would only be done in the
rarest of circumstances when there was a real problem that had to be
dealt with.

Guardian Unlimited Copyright Guardian News and Media Limited 2008

Return to Table of Contents

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From: The Huffington Post, Jan. 7, 2008
[Printer-friendly version]

BANNING THE (NEW) LIGHTBULB

By Jeff Stier, American Council on Science and Health

If you knew there were a new product that was:

** not as well tested as the product it is meant to replace

** quickly becoming popular in offices and homes -- including homes
with young children

** manufactured by some of the world's largest and most profitable
companies

** possibly responsible for debilitating migraine headaches

** a risk for skin diseases including skin cancer

...would you support a ban on the product until its safety could be
fully established?

The precautionary principle dictates that in the face of possible
danger to human health, even in the absence of complete proof of that
danger, it is best not to permit the hazard until its safety (rather
than its danger) is proven beyond a shadow of a doubt. As they say,
it's better to be safe than sorry.

But if you agree, wouldn't you then have to join (or start) a campaign
to ban so-called "environmentally-friendly" compact fluorescent light
bulbs in light of reports like this one from the London Telegraph?

So: Are you sure you still like the idea of "erring on the safe side"
whenever a new technology emerges?

Jeff Stier is an associate director of the American Council on
Science and Health
(ACSH.org, HealthFactsAndFears.com).

Copyright 2008 HuffingtonPost.com, Inc.

Return to Table of Contents

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Rachel's Precaution Reporter offers news, views and practical
examples of the Precautionary Principle, or Foresight Principle, in
action. The Precautionary Principle is a modern way of making
decisions, to minimize harm. Rachel's Precaution Reporter tries to
answer such questions as, Why do we need the precautionary
principle? Who is using precaution? Who is opposing precaution?

We often include attacks on the precautionary principle because we
believe it is essential for advocates of precaution to know what
their adversaries are saying, just as abolitionists in 1830 needed
to know the arguments used by slaveholders.

Rachel's Precaution Reporter is published as often as necessary to
provide readers with up-to-date coverage of the subject.

As you come across stories that illustrate the precautionary
principle -- or the need for the precautionary principle --
please Email them to us at rpr@rachel.org.

Editors:
Peter Montague - peter@rachel.org
Tim Montague - tim@rachel.org

:::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::

To start your own free Email subscription to Rachel's Precaution
Reporter
send any Email to one of these addresses:

Full HTML edition: rpr-subscribe@pplist.net
Table of Contents (TOC) edition: rpr-toc-subscribe@pplist.net

In response, you will receive an Email asking you to confirm that
you want to subscribe.

To unsubscribe, send any email to rpr-unsubscribe@pplist.net
or to rpr-toc-unsubscribe@pplist.net, as appropriate.

:::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::
Environmental Research Foundation
P.O. Box 160, New Brunswick, N.J. 08903
rpr@rachel.org
:::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::
.
:::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::: Rachel's Precaution Reporter #124 "Foresight and Precaution, in the News and in the World" Wednesday, January 9, 2008...........Printer-friendly version www.rachel.org -- To make a secure donation, click here. ::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::

Featured stories in this issue...

Regulation vs. Precaution at Vermont Yankee Nuclear Plant
When we have a perfectly good strategy for dealing with dangerous
technology (the precautionary principle), why don't otherwise sane
elected representatives, senators, and governors invoke it?
Common Sense and Science Say Cut the Fertilizer
"The rationale [for the precautionary principle] is that modern
technologies and human activities can inflict long-term, global-scale
environmental damage and that conclusive scientific evidence of such
damage may be available too late to avert it."
Op-Ed: Shut Down the Zoo
The case might be made that zoos can serve as genetic incubators in
the face of widespread habitat destruction. But the city's
precautionary principle, like the Hippocratic oath, should prevail on
us to do no harm in seeking to prevent extinction.
Military Mindfields
"Mind modification technologies are 'changing so rapidly that the
science is being formed faster than the applications can be fully
recognized.' Considering the enormous potential of these tools to help
liberate the mind or control it at a level beyond anything previously
known, the U.S. public should demand to have a rigorous 'precautionary
principle' put in place."
Interview: Gordon Brown on the Terror Threat To Britain
The precautionary principle is increasingly being invoked to curb
civil liberties, start pre-emptive wars, torture suspects, and hold
people incommunicado in secret prisons for years without formal
charges. The purpose of precaution is to protect the things we value
and cherish. If you value and cherish war and torture and clandestine
prisons then it is logical to invoke precaution to justify them.
Banning the (New) Lightbulb
Once again we find a critic of the precautionary principle
distorting it in order to bash it: "The precautionary principle
dictates that in the face of possible danger to human health, even in
the absence of complete proof of that danger, it is best not to permit
the hazard until its safety (rather than its danger) is proven beyond
a shadow of a doubt." Such distortions are unethical, but the money
is good.

::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::
From: Rutland (Vt.) Herald, Jan. 9, 2008
[Printer-friendly version]

REGULATION IS NO GUARANTEE

By Bill Pearson, Brattleboro

Stephen Wark, director of consumer affairs and public information for
the Department of Public Service, recently defended his department's
"strong record" of regulatory oversight of Vermont Yankee, claiming
that this record is "beyond reproach." But regulatory oversight is
necessarily constrained by what those regulations are.

They have to do with how much Vermont Yankee can raise the temperature
of the Connecticut River, for example, or how many millirems of
radiation are permitted to bombard elementary schools, or whether
governors in adjoining states have a voice in demanding independent
safety assessments. Also, whether Wackenhut security guards can nap on
the job, or how many cracks are allowed in steam dryers, or how many
of Vermont Yankee's numerous effluent discharge points into the
Connecticut River need to be monitored for radioactive isotopes, or
how a 20-year operating license extension would affect dwarf wedge
mussels, brook floaters, rattlebox, and puritan tiger beetles.

Regulations, in other words, while necessary, can be hotly debated by
all sides ad nauseum and serve to divert attention from more
fundamental concerns.

For example, shouldn't citizens (and citizen advocacy groups) who
stand to lose property, livelihoods, and even their lives in the event
of a catastrophic accident at Vermont Yankee have a voice at least
equal to that of a multi-billion-dollar out-of-state corporation
intent primarily on maximizing its profits?

When we have a perfectly good strategy for dealing with dangerous
technology (the precautionary principle), why don't otherwise sane
elected representatives, senators, and governors invoke it?

Aren't residents entitled to truthful information about Vermont
Yankee's routine low-level radiological emissions? What isotopes, what
half-lives, what potential damage to tissues, cells, and DNA; what
risk of cancers, leukemia, birth defects, immune and endocrine system
disorders? And please explain why Vermont Yankee spokesmen constantly
proclaim that Vermont Yankee's ionizing radiation emissions are safe
when the National Academy of Sciences in 2005 concluded that there is
no safe dose of ionizing radiation.

If nuclear energy is safe, why do insurance companies refuse to insure
against losses from nuclear accidents?

If evacuation plans are not designed to protect 100 percent of the
affected population regardless of weather conditions or time of day,
isn't there an unconscionable moral dilemma involved?

Why hasn't a nuclear power plant been built in the U.S. since the
Three Mile Island disaster in 1979? Maybe Wall Street knows better
than to finance them.

The Vermont Department of Public Service and the Vermont State Nuclear
Advisory Panel are charged with ensuring the public's health and
safety. Focusing only on regulatory oversight won't get the job done.

Copyright 2008 Rutland Herald

Return to Table of Contents

::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::
From: News-Press (Fort Myers, Fla.), Jan. 8, 2008
[Printer-friendly version]

COMMON SENSE AND SCIENCE SAY CUT THE FERTILIZER

By Marti Daltry

I would like to address the comments made by the critics of a stronger
fertilizer ordinance.

The quote ("Fertilizer limits feed debate," Jan. 2) from the Chem
Lawn representative that "common sense is not science" demonstrates a
limited understanding of the application of both science and common
sense in public policymaking.

The Precautionary Principle, used by schools, social and environmental
organizations as well as the U.S. government in creating and deciding
on public policy, is the effective marriage of those two concepts.

The recent publication, "Precautionary Tools for Reshaping
Environmental Policy," states, "The Precautionary Principle calls for
taking action against threatened harm to people and ecosystems even in
the absence of scientific certainty.

"The rationale is that modern technologies and human activities can
inflict long-term, global-scale environmental damage and that
conclusive scientific evidence of such damage may be available too
late to avert it."

One should not abandon either science or common sense when making an
informed decision regarding the sustainable use of our natural
resources.

In this instance, Lee County has moved beyond a bygone era of "tobacco
science" and into a realm of collaborative policymaking with input
from the entire community.

In response to Professor Trenholm's comment that buffer zones of 25
feet are ridiculous, it should be noted that the 25-foot buffer was
established in the South Florida Water Management District rules for
environmental resource permit applications.

In addition, the southeastern region of the FDEP recommends that
homeowners "do not apply fertilizers or pesticides within at least 25
feet of the water's edge or the wetland." Furthermore, the EPA
recommends a minimum riparian buffer of at least 7 meters, or almost
23 feet, to treat and remove nitrogen from storm water in urban areas.

Either SWFMD, the DEP, and the EPA are all mistaken or her "sound"
scientific opinion is nothing more than an erroneous "sound bite."

Florida has been in the throes of a decreased rain cycle and the
resulting drought that has persisted and may continue for several
years.

Due to the continuing urban sprawl, population growth, and dry weather
conditions, our water resources are threatened. To spend our finite
water supply on the maintenance of emerald green lawns and water
hungry exotic plants is a waste of precious resources.

We are all affected by water pollution, water quality and water
availability. Our health, our economy and our environment depend upon
it.

We all need to take responsibility to ensure that there will be water
for everyone in Southwest Florida.

Responsible actions include changing our water wasting habits and
reducing our water consumption by using native plants and ground
covers, and reducing our use of fertilizer to prevent excessive
nutrient runoff.

The trend towards a more sustainable, eco-friendly landscape is
growing.

Let's make the sensible changes now before time and our water run out!

==============

Marti Daltry is regional community organizer for the Sierra Club's
Fort Myers office

Copyright 2008, The News-Press

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From: San Francisco Bay Guardian, Jan. 9, 2008
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OP-ED: SHUT DOWN THE ZOO

HD Op-Ed: Shut down the San Francisco zoo

The Zoo should be closed, its animals sent to facilities capable of
caring for them, and the land used for affordable housing


By Marc Solomon

In San Francisco's June 1997 special election, the swells convinced
the voters to float $48 million in bonds to build a "world-class" zoo,
which would entail largely privatizing a public institution, leaving
the city on the hook for liabilities while giving a private nonprofit
the benefits.

The initiative passed -- you can't get warmer or fuzzier than a tiger
or a koala -- and the San Francisco Zoo, relinquished to the tutelage
of corporate fixer Jim Lazarus, was largely gifted as another
privatized party space for the rich.

The case might be made that zoos can serve as genetic incubators in
the face of widespread habitat destruction. But the city's
precautionary principle, like the Hippocratic oath, should prevail on
us to do no harm in seeking to prevent extinction.

The record of the privatized Zoo has hardly been a story of
precaution:

oIn 2000, two already sick koalas were kidnapped from the Zoo and not
returned for two days.

oA 12-year-old Siberian tiger, Emily, died in October 2004. Tatiana
was just murdered at age four. Siberian tigers generally live to be 24
years old in captivity.

oTwo elands, majestic African antelope, were introduced improperly
into close quarters with an already resident eland at the Zoo, which
led to a spate of deadly eland-on-eland violence and the deaths of the
two newcomers.

oApparently, shoddy attention to detail hastened the demise of Puddles
the hippopotamus in May 2007. Hippos, like African elephants, thrive
in nature preserves located in their native tropical habitat.

If zoos are to be a successful component of protecting endangered
species, it's paramount that their conditions not kill the specimens.
Perhaps an affiliation with a major research institution is required
to ensure that professionalism is the order of the day to ward against
what appears to be amateur hour at the zoo.

It's one thing for the swells to occupy public spaces such as the de
Young Museum, City Hall, and the San Francisco Public Library as
edifications to their egos -- only fellow humans are inconvenienced.
But for the rich to wrap themselves in the distinction of being movers
and shakers in the San Francisco Zoological Society and wring glee
from the glow of imprisoning animals in inhospitable conditions is
truly pathological.

The Zoo should be closed, its animals sent to facilities capable of
caring for them, and the land used for affordable housing. The city
should replace the Zoo with an academic partnership with legitimate
wildlife sanctuaries around the world to subsidize conservation,
produce video footage of animals in their natural habitats, and
arrange trips to see wild animals in the wild for San Francisco youths
who otherwise could not afford it.

That would be a true 21st-century, world-class approach to bringing
the wonder of exotic animals to San Franciscans.

Marc Salomon is a member of the SF Green Party County Council.

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From: Whole Life Times, Jan. 3, 2008
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MILITARY MINDFIELDS

By Daniel Pinchbeck

Recently, while at a Phoenix, Arizona conference on UFOs, crop
circles, alternative archaeology and other such fringe matters, I
encountered, to my surprise, a true American hero. A straightforward
and unassuming man whose father was a well-respected Alaskan
congressman, Dr. Nick Begich has been waging a long and often lonely
campaign to raise the public's awareness of the extraordinary perils
and potentials of new technologies that can act upon the brain and
influence our cognitive and somatic capacities, often without us
knowing about them. At first, many of the military initiatives and
scientific research projects described by Dr. Begich sound like
science fiction -- the stuff of Philip K. Dick's most paranoid visions
-- but they are quite real, and in many cases already available. A
huge trove of documents, articles and public testimonies assembled by
Begich's team can be found at the website of The Lay Institute.

Confronted with this information, I was shocked at first, and wondered
why it is almost never discussed in the media or public sphere. My
next reaction was to want to run away from thinking about it ever
again. Unfortunately, as Begich makes clear, the only protection we
have against misuse of these discoveries is an increase in public
knowledge and debate about them. The legislative system we inherited
from the 18th Century was not set up to deal with the current
scenario, where rapid-fire developments in technology and science have
immediate political meaning and potentially great social consequences.
It is up to civil society -- and us as individuals -- to step into
this breach. The consequences of not doing so may be severe.

Dr. Begich began his work studying the HAARP (High-frequency Active
Auroral Research Program) Project, an array of radio frequency
transmitters in Alaska designed to affect the ionosphere, an
atmospheric sheath that protects the Earth from solar rays. Beyond
potentially influencing missile guidance systems and changing weather
patterns, HAARP can also be used, potentially, to affect the
brainwaves of civilians over a large geographical area, causing
inexplicable agitation or aggression by beaming ELF (extremely low
frequency) waves or high-frequency pulses beyond the threshold of our
auditory capacity. Dr. Begich objects to HAARP because of this
capacity, and because it changes the delicate ionosphere. Although we
don't know much about the ionosphere, we are treating it as an arena
in which to "plug and play" our experimental technologies.

In the last decades, a huge amount has been learned about the
electromagnetic environment of the human brain and body. This
knowledge, as Dr. Begich discusses in his latest book, Controlling the
Human Mind: The Technologies of Political Control or Tools for Peak
Performance (Earthpulse Press, 2006), could lead to tremendous
advances in healing and in methods of self-development, or to weapons
that "pierce the very integrity of the human being." Potentially,
memory, emotion and cognitive function can be transformed by these
technologies.

Dr. Begich isolates a spooky trend in military thought that sees the
human being reduced to the status of a "data-processing system" that
can be affected or incapacitated depending on the energy inputs it
receives. As one article, "The Mind Has No Firewall," from Parameters,
the U.S. Army War College Journal, put it, "The body is capable not
only of being deceived, manipulated, or misinformed but also shut down
or destroyed -- just as any other data-processing system."
Electromagnetic or acoustic energy waves can alter the individual's
"hardware system" and manipulate the "data" stored in their psyche.
According to Dr. Begich, technologies already exist that can "shift a
person's emotions using remote electromagnetic tools," and "transfer
sound in a way where only the targeted person" hears a voice in their
head.

Interestingly, developments in these areas could lead to breakthroughs
in healing, to tools that greatly increase cognitive function and even
amplify "abilities of individuals for anomalous phenomena" -- psychic
capacities -- according to a military analyst. Biofeedback techniques
have been proven to accelerate skills-based learning and to
successfully treat children with ADD. Use of "binaural beats" can
harmonize relationships between the two hemispheres of the brain,
while tools focusing on the energy fields of the body can augment
acupuncture and other treatment modalities.

Begich calls for an end to government secrecy about study of mind and
behavior control techniques. He notes that the area of mind
modification technologies is "changing so rapidly that the science is
being formed faster than the applications can be fully recognized."
Considering the enormous potential of these tools to help liberate the
mind or control it at a level beyond anything previously known, the
U.S. public should demand to have a rigorous "precautionary principle"
put in place.

Philip K. Dick is great fun to read, but few of us would want to live
in one of his maniacal, paranoid dystopias. Unfortunately, the
powerful knowledge we are now accessing about the intricate workings
of our energetic systems could lead in that direction, if we don't
take action.

Daniel Pinchbeck is the author of Breaking Open the Head: A
Psychedelic Journey into the Heart of Contemporary Shamanism (Broadway
Books, 2002) and 2012: The Return of Quetzalcoatl (Tarcher/Penguin,
2006). His features have appeared in The New York Times Magazine,
Rolling Stone, Esquire, Wired and many other publications.

Whole Life Times, 1200 South Hope St, Suite 300, Los Angeles, CA
90028; Tel: 213.747.6378; Fax: 213.747.6386

Copyright Whole Life Times

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From: The Guardian (Manchester, U.K.), Jan. 6, 2008
[Printer-friendly version]

INTERVIEW: GORDON BROWN ON THE TERROR THREAT TO BRITAIN

'You've got to show that civil liberties are protected'

The prime minister on terror detention

By Nicholas Watt

Why are you pushing so hard with your plans to extend to 42 days the
period in which a terror suspect can be held without charge? Many
members of your own party, the Lib Dems, the Tories, the DPP, the
former attorney general are all expressing doubts if not outright
opposition.

A few months ago Liberty published its proposals and said that there
were circumstances in which they themselves understood you might have
to go beyond 28 days. They proposed using the Civil Contingencies Act
to do so. They recognised therefore that there are circumstances in
which you may have as a result of the complexity and sophistication to
detain people beyond 28 days. Now what I said to that was look, if in
principle people right across the political spectrum agree that it's
necessary, in certain instances -- unique sometimes perhaps, or
special at least and understood to be rare -- then we ought to try and
find a way and a consensus for doing that.

And that's why I've been determined to build in what I think are the
key elements of something that is acceptable to all sides. And that is
if you have someone detained then you have got to have proper judicial
oversight. You've got to have continuous accountability. You've got to
have parliamentary scrutiny. And I believe that if we could show
people that there is proper judicial oversight, in other words nobody
stays in prison arbitrarily, and if at the same time there's proper
public accountability because an independent reviewer who's an
independent figure looks at what has happened to guarantee that,
nobody will be detained arbitrarily. What you've then got to do is to
satisfy people that all the mechanisms by which civil liberties are
[protected] are put in place. Now that's where the debate is at the
moment. And I think it's a more rich debate than is simply summed up
by a number of days.

Does it frustrate you that you've obviously changed the politics of
this issue, by saying it's not about an arbitrary numbers of days, and
yet there still seems to be very strong opposition?

I don't think there is as much difference of opinion as the headlines
suggest. I've talked at length to Liberty as an organisation. I know
that other political parties in the House of Commons are much
influenced by what Liberty has said. I've got a great deal of respect
for the arguments that have been put forward and I actually think
we're not as far away as people have mentioned from reaching an
understanding about what the best way forward for Britain is. If you
accept that there may be circumstances in which you have to go beyond
28 days and if you accept then as a precautionary principle you should
have the power in legislation to do so, then what you've got to do in
my view is convince people that you've got in place all the
protections against the possibility that there could be arbitrary
treatment of the individual. Now an independent reviewer,
parliamentary accountability, parliamentary scrutiny, judicial
oversight, in fact the application coming not just from the police but
from the DPP and from the Home Secretary, gives you a sense that none
of these things would be done lightly. They would only be done in the
rarest of circumstances when there was a real problem that had to be
dealt with.

Guardian Unlimited Copyright Guardian News and Media Limited 2008

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From: The Huffington Post, Jan. 7, 2008
[Printer-friendly version]

BANNING THE (NEW) LIGHTBULB

By Jeff Stier, American Council on Science and Health

If you knew there were a new product that was:

** not as well tested as the product it is meant to replace

** quickly becoming popular in offices and homes -- including homes
with young children

** manufactured by some of the world's largest and most profitable
companies

** possibly responsible for debilitating migraine headaches

** a risk for skin diseases including skin cancer

...would you support a ban on the product until its safety could be
fully established?

The precautionary principle dictates that in the face of possible
danger to human health, even in the absence of complete proof of that
danger, it is best not to permit the hazard until its safety (rather
than its danger) is proven beyond a shadow of a doubt. As they say,
it's better to be safe than sorry.

But if you agree, wouldn't you then have to join (or start) a campaign
to ban so-called "environmentally-friendly" compact fluorescent light
bulbs in light of reports like this one from the London Telegraph?

So: Are you sure you still like the idea of "erring on the safe side"
whenever a new technology emerges?

Jeff Stier is an associate director of the American Council on
Science and Health
(ACSH.org, HealthFactsAndFears.com).

Copyright 2008 HuffingtonPost.com, Inc.

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Rachel's Precaution Reporter offers news, views and practical
examples of the Precautionary Principle, or Foresight Principle, in
action. The Precautionary Principle is a modern way of making
decisions, to minimize harm. Rachel's Precaution Reporter tries to
answer such questions as, Why do we need the precautionary
principle? Who is using precaution? Who is opposing precaution?

We often include attacks on the precautionary principle because we
believe it is essential for advocates of precaution to know what
their adversaries are saying, just as abolitionists in 1830 needed
to know the arguments used by slaveholders.

Rachel's Precaution Reporter is published as often as necessary to
provide readers with up-to-date coverage of the subject.

As you come across stories that illustrate the precautionary
principle -- or the need for the precautionary principle --
please Email them to us at rpr@rachel.org.

Editors:
Peter Montague - peter@rachel.org
Tim Montague - tim@rachel.org

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To start your own free Email subscription to Rachel's Precaution
Reporter
send any Email to one of these addresses:

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In response, you will receive an Email asking you to confirm that
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To unsubscribe, send any email to rpr-unsubscribe@pplist.net
or to rpr-toc-unsubscribe@pplist.net, as appropriate.

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