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#891 -- Restore Habeas Corpus, 25-Jan-2007


Rachel's Democracy & Health News #891

"Environment, health, jobs and justice--Who gets to decide?"

Thursday, January 25, 2007..............Printer-friendly version
www.rachel.org -- To make a secure donation, click here.

Featured stories in this issue...

Part 2: Regulatory Failure in the Great Lakes
  Scientists studying the Great Lakes have recently learned that
  chemicals are taking a far greater toll on humans and wildlife than
  previously realized. But the corporate polluters are organizing to
  maintain business as usual.
Please Sign the Petition to Restore Habeas Corpus
  Three blockbuster events radically altered our system of governance
  during 2006. In the first, Congress and Cheney-Bush legalized
  torture. In the second, the U.S. military stepped up domestic
  surveillance of U.S. citizens. And in the third Congress abolished
  the 700-year-old legal procedure called habeas corpus. The U.S. now
  has all the trappings of a police state though for the most part it is
  not being run as one -- at least not yet.
The Leadership Imperative
  In place of a philosophy of progress, Oren Lyons emphasizes
  fidelity to a set of spiritual and natural laws that have guided
  successful human social organization throughout history.
An Urgent Call to Action to Protect Creation
  Scientists and evangelicals unite to protect creation.
A New Study Links Childhood Leukemia to Air Pollution
  A study finds that children living within 2 miles of the Houston
  [Tex.] Ship Channel had a 56 percent higher risk of getting acute
  lymphocytic leukemia than children living more than 10 miles from the
Can Polyester Save the World?
  How about renting trendy clothes instead of buying them?
Grand Canyon Controversy Clarification
  In Rachel's News #889 we carried a story about the National Park
  Service violating its own rules by selling a book that claims the
  Grand Canyon was created during Noah's flood, ignoring the geological
  record. Here's more information on that story.


From: Rachel's Democracy & Health News #891, Jan. 25, 2007
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By Peter Montague

Last week we began describing a new report from the International
Joint Commission (IJC) that says regulation of toxic chemicals has
failed in the Great Lakes, and a precautionary approach is needed. The
IJC is the bi-national (U.S.-Canada) governmental body responsible for
water quality in the Great Lakes. Here we continue describing the
IJC's report (6 Mbyte PDF), especially chapter 5 ("Human Health").
[In our text, numbers inside parentheses refer to pages in the IJC
report. Words inside square brackets represent our clarifications or

1. Harm to Great Lakes wildlife is very widespread and fundamental

A 1991 basinwide assessment of the health of herring gulls nesting in
11 colonies representing all five Great Lakes, relative to two
reference colonies outside of the basin, revealed widespread DNA
damage and chronic... inflammation of the liver and... inflammation of
the kidney. (pg. 117)

"Great Lakes gulls suffered from hypothyroidism [insufficient thyroid
hormone] and had enlarged hyperplastic thyroid glands [meaning thyroid
glands with growths or nodules]. These toxipathic responses were most
frequently associated with PCBs.

"Studies of pre-fledgling herring gulls in 1994-1999 in lakes Huron,
Erie, and Ontario revealed marked suppression of T-cell-mediated
immune function and altered antibody production.

"Studies of herring gulls in colonies in the Detroit River, western
Lake Erie and Lake Ontario 2001-2004 revealed that biochemical,
thyroid, and immune effects still persist. In addition, there were
effects on corticosterone secretion and, at some sites, the plasma of
males contained vitellogenin, suggesting they were exposed to
biologically significant concentrations of estrogens. Similar
biochemical effects were seen in male snapping turtles, and thyroid
effects were seen in snapping turtles and fish. Vitellogenin was also
found in the plasma of male fish and snapping turtles. (pg. 117)

Comment: insufficient thyroid hormone is a serious problem for
wildlife, as it is for humans. Thyroid hormone controls an animal's
metabolism, and is crucial in early development of the nervous system.
The immune system of course protects against infectious diseases and
cancers. The presence of vitellogenin in male fish and turtles
indicates that the males are being turned into females by exposure to
the waters of the Great Lakes. Obviously, these are all signs of
widespread serious trouble.

2. Living near a contaminated site can cause human illness and death

In the early 1990s, the IJC identified 43 "areas of concern" (AOCs)
in the Great Lakes. These are harbors or rivers or discharge points
that are severely contaminated. These areas were supposed to be
cleaned up rapidly during the 1990s, but that did not happen.

Now we learn that simply living near one of these areas can make
people sick -- even if they eat no fish from the Great Lakes:

"In 1998, Health Canada [roughly the Canadian equivalent of U.S.
Environmental Protection Agency] reported on retrospective
epidemiological evidence for each of the 17 Canadian AOCs. They used
mortality, hospital admissions/separations, and cancer data for
1986-1992 to calculate morbidity, mortality, and incidence rates. The
data suggested that there was increased morbidity and mortality for a
variety of health effects associated with residence in these AOCs
relative to the Province of Ontario as a whole. Also, residence in a
particular location was found to adversely affect health independent
of whether Great Lakes fish is consumed." (pg. 120)

"The Health Canada studies for the various Canadian AOCs found
increased incidence of genital-tract disorders, thyroid disease,
diabetes, ischemic heart disease, chronic obstructive pulmonary
disease, and asthma." (pg. 120)

"These findings led investigators at the Institute for Health and the
Environment at the University of Albany to test a series of hypotheses
based on the assumption that these health end points are associated
with place of residence. Using a variety of available health data
collected in the 1990s, they tested these hypotheses for individuals
living near the nearly 900 contaminated sites identified in New York
state, including AOCs.

"They found convincing evidence that a number of chronic and acute
diseases occur more commonly in patients who reside near hazardous
waste sites and AOCs containing priority pollutants, especially
persistent organic pollutants such as PCBs. The elevated incidence is
not accounted for by socio-economic status or lifestyle factors such
as smoking, diet, or exercise. These findings imply that inhalation is
a major route of exposure." (pg. 120)

Got that? Inhalation is a MAJOR route of exposure. This is new

The IJC report goes on: "Effects documented include adverse impacts on
reproduction and development, metabolism, and endocrine and immune
functions. In addition, studies suggest that increased risks of heart
disease, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, and diabetes are
associated with residence near AOCs and hazardous waste sites.

"A recently published study has also shown a strong association
between ambient air pollution and respiratory hospitalization in the
Windsor [Ontario] AOC.

"Inhalation can be a major route of exposure. The health of large
numbers of people in many communities in the Great Lakes basin may be
compromised by multi-media exposure to the contaminants in their
environment," the IJC report concludes. (pg. 120)

Comment: For a second time the IJC report says inhalation can be a
MAJOR route of exposure.

3. Basic Toxicity Information is Missing for Many Chemicals

"Derek Muir described his search strategy to identify potential
chemicals of concern among the approximately 100,000 chemicals in
commerce, approximately 70,000 of which are on the Toxic Substances
Control Act list created in 1976, and 5,200 that exceed a production
volume of 1,000 tonnes/year [2.2 million pounds per year] according to
the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development. Of these
5,200 chemicals, 43 percent had no toxicity data available as of
2004." (pg. 123)

Furthermore, "... less than 10 percent of high-volume industrial
chemicals have been evaluated regarding their bioaccumulation,
environmental fate, and toxicity." (pg. 125)

4. Mixtures of Chemicals Have Potent Effects

"It is known that the combined effects of a mixture of dioxin-like
compounds are additive when adjusted for potency.... Recently,
investigators discovered that the same holds true for estrogenic
chemicals [meaning industrial chemicals that mimic the female sex
hormone, estrogen]. Crofton et al. (2005) dosed young rats with a
mixture of two dioxins, four dibenzofurans and twelve PCBs. The
mixture was formulated to reflect typical concentrations measured in
breast milk, and in fish and other foods. None of the concentrations
in any of the doses exceeded the LOELs [lowest observed effect levels]
for the constituent chemicals. The mixture reduced serum thyroxine
[thyroid hormone] levels at concentrations that were at least an order
of magnitude [a factor of 10] below their LOELs. The effects on
thyroxine were cumulative (additive) at low doses and synergistic at
higher doses. (pg. 124)

This is extraordinarily important information. The IJC is saying that
the researcher (Kevin M. Crofton) was able to diminish thyroid
hormone levels in the blood of laboratory animals by exposing them to
very lox levels of a combination of chemicals. The individual
chemicals were administered at levels at least 10 times as low as the
amount that is known to cause effects in exposed animals, and the
levels of exposures were selected to mimic levels that a human baby
would receive from breast milk. The COMBINED exposure caused thyroid
hormone levels to decline in the exposed animals. In human babies,
sufficient thyroid hormone is essential for early brain development.

5. Summary

The IJC report sums up the new information that has come to light in
the last few years:

1. Legacy chemicals are not declining rapidly, if at all, and they are
still present at levels that make Great lakes fish unsafe to eat:

"In this biennial cycle [in the last two years] it became clear that
our understanding of health hazards associated with 'legacy'
contaminants has increased much more rapidly than their levels are
currently decreasing. PCB and mercury levels in fish are many times
greater than values protective of human health. PCB concentrations in
fillets of some large lake trout from Lake Michigan exceed by 40 fold
the level which would allow unrestricted consumption." (pg. 128)

2. Fish consumption advisories don't work:

"Despite consumption advisories, many individuals are exposed
unnecessarily, and often unconsciously, to toxic contaminants through
their diet." (pg. 128)

3. People are being exposed and harmed by breathing the air:

"We have also learned that air transport is an important pathway of
exposure and that living near highly contaminated areas increases
one's exposure." (pg. 128)

4. A new set of toxic chemicals is now being measured in the Lakes:

"In addition, we have become aware of 'emerging' chemicals that were
not previously detected." (pg. 128)

5. Exposure to Mixtures of Chemicals is Harmful:

"There is also a growing awareness of a larger range of developmental
and functional health impacts associated with exposure to mixtures of
chemicals, including the persistent 'legacy' contaminants and the
'emerging' chemicals." (pg. 128) [The term 'functional health impacts'
includes things like kids struggling to keep up in school, or, in the
case of fish at least, males taking on some of the characteristics of

"Many 'emerging' chemicals affect the same target organs and/or
systems as the 'legacy' chemicals and will contribute to the
cumulative toxicity." (pg. 128)

6. A single chemical can have many effects on many parts of the body

"It is now clear that a single chemical can have an impact on
multiple-organ systems via several exposure pathways and a number of
modes of action, and that those impacts can be expressed in multiple
ways." (pg. 128) [Comment: In the good old days (the entire 20th
century) a chemical was accused of simply causing cancer or harming
the liver or contributing to heart disease, but modern science now
reveals that this old view was hopelessly inadequate for describing
the how a single chemical (not to mention mixtures) can affect many
different bodily systems in many different ways. In a sense, our
knowledge has grown rapidly but what has grown most rapidly is our
understanding of how little we actually understand about the complex
interactions between chemicals, health and behavior.]

The Great Lakes are extraordinarily important because they contain 20%
of the world's fresh surface water and 80% of the fresh surface water
in North America. That we have contaminated the lakes so thoroughly is
an astonishing feat of industrial hubris and stupidity.

The authors of the IJC report understand that only the people who live
around the Great Lakes can make the necessary changes to save
themselves from an unfolding health disaster. The report asks,

"What evidence of human-health effects will be sufficient to create
the political will to clean up the areas that continue to make major
contributions to system contamination?" (pg. 128)

And, the report says, "If sufficient resources to support remediation
and required protection efforts are to be committed, Great Lakes
citizens must understand the risks and demand accountability under the
[Great Lakes Water Quality] Agreement for long-term progress and
implementation strategies that are protective of human and wildlife
The Great Lakes are extraordinarily important because they contain 20%
of the world's fresh surface water and 80% of the fresh surface water
in North America. That we have contaminated the lakes so thoroughly is
an astonishing feat of industrial hubris and stupidity. health and 20%
of the world's fresh surface water." (pg. 128)

So there you have it. Basically, to save the Great Lakes from
continued decline, citizens have to develop enough clout to overwhelm
the political influence of corporate polluters, to force government to
adopt a precautionary approach to protect the Lakes.

Last December, citizen groups from around the Great lakes published a
report outlining what needs to be done. They agree with the IJC
report, that chemical regulation has failed and the proper remedy is
to implement a precautionary approach.

However, the Council of Great Lakes Industries, which represents
chemical companies and coal-burning utilities, has staked out its
position, claiming that even the weak current system is burdensome,
oppressive and nightmarish for industrial polluters. The Council
says it "fears a more aggressive water quality pact will bring costly
new regulations and stifle the regional economy." Furthermore, the
Great Lakes Water Quality Agreement has already "created a bureaucracy
and a governance nightmare that is very difficult to maneuver around."

We are wondering if some communities around the Great Lakes might want
to consider a new strategy, directly challenging the "rights" of
corporations to continue destroying this national treasure.

Return to Table of Contents


From: Alliance for Justice, Jan. 25, 2007
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Sign the Online Petition and Forward it to Your Friends

Last September, Congress passed the Military Commissions Act of
2006 (MCA), which restricted habeas corpus rights, allowing the
government to continue holding prisoners at Guantanamo
indefinitely with no access to a fair hearing in court.

Indefinite imprisonment without a fair trial or hearing is
unconstitutional and fundamentally un-American. Senators Arlen
Specter (R-PA), Patrick Leahy (D-VT), and Christopher Dodd
(D-CT) have authored legislation to restore the right of habeas

The impact of the habeas corpus restrictions in the new Military
Commission Act go far beyond the walls of Guantanamo prison. The law
allows the government to arrest any non-citizen -- including permanent
residents in the United States -- and hold them indefinitely without
charge and with no access to an attorney or a fair hearing.


There are three important steps you can take:

1. Add your name to the national on-line petition supporting
restoration of full habeas corpus rights -- you can read the petition
online or below.

To add your name, included below or online, email us at:
allianceforjustice@afj.org with your name and organization.

2. Forward this email or our web page to your friends and
encourage them to sign the petition.

Our web page for the campaign to restore habeas corpus is at:

3. Send a letter to your Senators and House members supporting
the Specter-Leahy-Dodd legislation to restore habeas corpus
rights by going to:

The text of the "restore habeas corpus" petition is BELOW and online
at http://www.afj.org/restorehabeascorpus.pdf



We call on the United States Congress to enact legislation that
will restore our Nation's commitment to law and freedom.

In the fall of 2006, Congress passed a law governing military
commissions, which included a provision that stripped certain
detainees of their habeas corpus rights. Habeas corpus has been
the bedrock of our justice system for centuries. The Supreme
Court asserted that it "is the fundamental instrument for
safeguarding individual freedom against arbitrary and lawless
state action." Without habeas rights, detainees are denied a
fair hearing in federal court to challenge the lawfulness of
their detention. The government is left free to imprison people
indefinitely without charge or trial or other fair hearing, no
matter how inhumane the conditions of confinement or the
treatment of the detainees. Such a policy is not only
unconstitutional, it is also fundamentally un-American and
undermines our national character.

It is time to join the scores of lawyers, law deans and
professors, politicians, religious leaders and military
officials who have condemned the denial of habeas corpus rights
to detainees and have called for a restoration of our
constitutional values. It is incumbent upon Congress to ensure
that our laws reflect who we are as a society, that we are a
people committed to accountability and basic fairness. In the
face of adversity, adhering to our values does not make us less
secure, but rather strengthens us as a nation.

Protect freedom, fairness and due process of law. Restore habeas


Visit this web address to tell your friends about this.

If you received this message from a friend, you can sign up for
Alliance for Justice at: http://ga1.org/afj/join.html?r=D7s7L4713

Return to Table of Contents


From: Orion, Jan. 25, 2007
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An Interview with Oren Lyons

By Barry Lopez

Oren Lyons, seventy-six, is a wisdom carrier, one of the bearers of a
variety of human tradition that can't easily be reduced to a couple of
sentences. One reason he -- and the tradition for which he is a
spokesperson -- isn't more widely known is that he doesn't actively
seek forums from which to speak. If someone asks him, however, about
the principles behind the particular Native American tradition of
which he has, since 1967, been an appointed caretaker, he is glad to
respond. He chooses his words carefully, and occasionally, these days,
there is a hint of indignation in his voice, as if time were short and
people generally willful in their distraction.

In an era of self-promotion, Oren Lyons represents the antithesis of
celebrity. When he converses about serious issues, no insistent ego
comes to the fore, no desire to be seen as an important or wise
person. His voice is but one in a long series, as he sees it, and the
wisdom belongs not to him but to the tradition for which he speaks.
His approach to problems is unusual in modern social commentary
because his observations are not compelled by any overriding sense of
the importance of the human present. In place of a philosophy of
progress, he emphasizes fidelity to a set of spiritual and natural
laws that have guided successful human social organization throughout

The appeal of his particular ethics in the search for solutions to
contemporary environmental and social problems can become readily
apparent. It is importantly, however, not a wisdom anchored in beliefs
about human perfection. It's grounded in the recognition and
acceptance of human responsibility where all forms of life are

Oren is a Faithkeeper of the Turtle Clan among the Onondaga people of
western New York. He sits on the Council of Chiefs of the
Haudenosaunee, or the Six Nations as they are sometimes known. (In
addition to the Onondaga, these would be the Seneca, Cayuga, Oneida,
Mohawk, and Tuscarora.) The people of this "Iroquois Confederacy"
share a philosophy of life given to them a thousand years ago by a
spiritual being they call the Peace Maker. (He was named so partly
because his instructions and warnings ended a period of warfare among
these tribes, but his teachings about peace are understood to refer
principally to a state of mind necessary for good living and good

When the Peace Maker came to the Haudenosaunee, he instructed them in
a system of self-governing that was democratic in nature. (Benjamin
Franklin and others, in fact, borrowed freely from this part of
Haudenosaunee oral tradition and practice in formulating the
principles of government upon which the United States was founded.) He
emphasized the importance of diversity in human society to ensure
sustainability and rejuvenation. And he urged a general tradition of

The Peace Maker is sometimes called simply "the Messenger," someone
sent by the Creator. The clan mothers among the Haudenosaunee, along
with sitting chiefs such as Oren, are regarded as "runners," people
responsible for keeping the precepts handed to them by the Peace Maker
regenerating through time. As a council chief, Oren is said to be
"sitting for the welfare of the people" and to be engaged in
sustaining "the power of the good mind" in discussions with others on
the council, all of whom are exchanging thoughts about the everyday
application of the wisdom given them by the Peace Maker.

Oren has spoken often, recently, about a lack of will among world
leaders, a failure to challenge the economic forces tearing apart
human communities the world over, and the Earth itself. His response
to the question of what society should do to protect life, however, is
rarely prescriptive. Frequently what he says is, "It's up to each
generation. There are no guarantees."

The Peace Maker's advice included an important warning for the chiefs
and clan mothers. Some of his instruction, he said, would apply to
life-threatening situations that would develop before the
Haudenosaunee were able to fully grasp their malevolent nature. While
the insights needed to manage such trouble would emerge among council
members, the people might initially adamantly reject the council's
advice. As decision makers, he said, the chiefs and clan mothers would
have to be prepared to absorb this abuse. Oren recounts these words of
the Messenger: "You must be tolerant [of harsh critics] and must not
respond in kind, but must understand [their fear], and be prepared to
absorb all of that, because it is not all going to be coming from your
enemies. It is going to be coming from your friends and families. This
you can expect."

In public, Oren Lyons carries himself with the unaffected manner of
elders in many of the world's indigenous traditions -- unpretentious,
understated. His physical presence in a room, however, radiates
authority. In conversations, you quickly sense that he takes life more
seriously than most. He is an articulate and forceful speaker when it
comes to discussing the worldwide movement toward civil society, a
movement that would marginalize the sort of governance and commerce
that today threaten life everywhere.

Oren Lyons, long a professor of American Studies at the State
University of New York at Buffalo, is the publisher of Daybreak, a
national Native American magazine. Before being appointed to the
Onondaga Council by the clan mothers in 1969, he was successfully
pursuing a career in commercial art in New York City. An All-American
lacrosse goalie while a student at Syracuse University, he was later
elected to the National Lacrosse Hall of Fame in both Canada and the
United States, and named honorary chairman of the Iroquois Nationals
lacrosse team. He is the recipient of many national and international
awards, and for more than three decades has been a defining presence
in international indigenous rights and sovereignty issues.

--Barry Lopez


Barry Lopez: Why is sovereignty such a crucial issue for Native
American people today?

Oren Lyons: Well, sovereignty is probably one of the most hackneyed
words that is used in conjunction with Indians. What is it, and why is
it so important? It's a definition of political abilities and it's a
definition of borders and boundaries. It encapsulates the idea of
nationhood. It refers to authority and power -- ultimate and final

It's such a discussion among native peoples in North America, I would
say, because of our abilities at the time of "discovery" -- and I use
that term under protest, as if to say that before the advent of the
white man in North America nothing existed. Where does that idea come
from? Well, it comes from the ultimate authority of the pope at the
time. I'm talking 1492. The Roman Catholic Church was the world power.
Now it's my understanding that in the Bible, both the Old Testament
and the New Testament, there is no mention of the Western Hemisphere
whatsoever -- not the least hint. How could they miss a whole

So here we were in our own hemisphere, developing our own ideas, our
own thoughts, and our own worldview. There were great civilizations
here at the time. In 1492, Haudenosaunee -- which is better known as
the Iroquois by the French, and Six Nations by the English -- already
had several hundred years of democracy, organized democracy. We had a
constitution here based on peace, based on equity and justice, based
on unity and health. This was ongoing.

As far as I know, all the other Indian nations functioned more or less
the same way. Their leadership was chosen by the people. Leaders were
fundamentally servants to the people. And in our confederation, there
was no place for an army. We didn't have a concept of a standing army,
and we had no police. Nor was there a concept of jails, but there were
of course fine perceptions of right and wrong, and rules and law. I
would say that in most Indian nations, because they had inhabited one
place for so long and were a people for so long, the rules and laws
were embedded in the genes of the people more or less, in the minds of
the people certainly, but not written. Plenty of law, almost on
everything, but unspoken. Unspoken unless transgressed. There was
always reaction to transgression.

Across the water, in Europe, our brother was engulfed in great
crusades. If you look at their histories and what is in their museums,
no matter where you are -- whether it's Germany or France or England
or Holland or whatever nation -- in their great halls you'll see
paintings of battles. Always. That must have been a terrible way of
life. Now I speak of Europe because they are the ones that came here.
And when they came here, the pope said, If there are no Christians on
these lands, then we'll declare the lands terra nullius -- empty lands
-- regardless of peoples there. And the question arose almost
immediately, Were the aboriginal people indeed people? That was the
big discussion. Why? Well, you can say a lot of things, but the issue
is land -- always has been and always will be.

The ideas of land tenure and ownership were brought here. We didn't
think that you could buy and sell land. In fact, the ideas of buying
and selling were concepts we didn't have. We laughed when they told us
they wanted to buy land. And we said, Well, how can you buy land? You
might just as well buy air, or buy water. But we don't laugh anymore,
because that is precisely what has happened. Today, when you fly
across this country and you look down and you see all those squares
and circles, that's land bought and sold. Boundaries made. They did
it. The whole country.

We didn't accept that, but nevertheless it was imposed. They said,
Let's make us a law here; we'll call it the law of discovery. The
first Christian nation that discovers this land will be able to secure
it and the other Christian nations will respect that. What does that
do to the original people, whose land of course they are talking
about? We just weren't included. They established a process that
eliminated the aboriginal people from title to their own land. They
set the rules at the time and we were not subjects, we were objects,
and we have been up to this point. That's why indigenous people are
not included in the Declaration of Human Rights of the United Nations.
We are still objects in common law.

In today's courts, in New York and Massachusetts and Pennsylvania,
they talk about the pre-emption rights of the law of discovery. Today.
Land claims are being denied on the basis of the law of discovery. It
has not gone away whatsoever. You really have to get the case law and
look at it, because they not only say that we don't have land tenure,
they say that we have only the right of occupancy.

And they don't have to pay us anything, because we're part of the
flora and fauna of North America.

No wonder Indians wonder about what sovereignty is.

BL: Native elders are often credited with being informed about the
environment, or knowledgeable about spiritual issues, but rarely
credited with expertise when it comes to governance. Why aren't native
elders sought out for their wisdom about a good way to govern, a good
way to serve people?

OL: Well, to put it simply, our worldview, our perspective, and our
process of governance is contrary to private property. Private
property is a concept that flies in the face of our understanding of
life, and we would say of the reality of life. Private property is a
conception, a human conception, which amounts to personal greed.

And then there's the spiritual side that you mention. You can't see
the spiritual side... well, you get glimpses of it. Any hunter will
tell you, you see it in the eyes of the deer, that bright spark, that
life, that light in his eyes, and when you make your kill, it's gone.
Where did it go? It's the same light that's in the eyes of children,
or in the eyes of old men, old women. There's a life in there, there's
a spirit in there, and when you die, when your body gives up the
ghost, as Christians say, spirit leaves. We believe that.

We believe that everything we see is made by a Creator. Indeed that's
what we call the ultimate power. Shongwaiyadisaih. The maker of all
life. The giver of life. All powerful. We see the Creation --
everything -- as what the giver of life has produced here. And if we
believe that, which we do, then we must respect it. It's a spiritual
Creation, and it demands that kind of respect. So when I see people,
they are manifestations of the Creator's work, and I must respect
them. It doesn't matter what color they are -- anything alive.

A thousand years ago, when the Peace Maker brought to us the Great Law
of Peace, Gayanahshagowa, he set as our symbol for the confederation
of Haudenosaunee a great tree, and he said, "This is going to be the
symbol of your work and your law: a great white pine, four white roots
of truth that reach in the four directions of the world. And those
people who have no place to go will follow the root to its source and
come under the protection of the Great Law of Peace and the great long
leaves of the great tree." And then he admonished the leaders and the
people, and he said, "Never challenge the spiritual law. Never
challenge it because you cannot prevail." That's a direct instruction
to leadership.

BL: It seems to me that the federal government in the United States is
reluctant to invite Indian people to the table because, as you've just
said, you can't have effective leadership without spiritual law, and
you can't talk about good governance without environmental awareness.
Yet we need -- all of us need -- the counsel of minds that
successfully addressed questions of social justice long before Western
culture, arguably, complicated them with the notion of industrial

OL: After the Peace Maker gathered five warring nations -- the
Mohawks, the Oneidas, the Cayugas, the Senecas, and the Onondagas --
and after great efforts and great cohesive work, the power of the
unity of the good minds brought together this confederacy based on
peace. And after he had taken the leaders and sat them under this
great tree on the shoreline of Onondaga Lake and instructed them on
the process of governance, on the principles of governance, on the
importance of identity and the importance of rule and law, he said,
"Now that we've planted this great tree, in your hands now I place all
life. Protection of all life is in your hands now," and when he said
all life, he meant literally, all life.

And it's an instruction that we carry today. We feel responsible for
animals, we feel responsible for trees, and responsible for fish,
responsible for water. We feel responsible for land and all of the
insects and everything that's there. And when he spoke of the four
white roots reaching in the four directions, I think he was talking to
all people. Not just Haudenosaunee. This is an instruction for all

But after all of that, a woman said to him, "Well then," she said,
"how long will this last?" And he answered, "That's up to you." So
it's completely up to us if we want this Creation to continue, and if
we want to be involved in it, a part of this whole recycling, this
whole regeneration of life, and we want to be celebrating it, and we
want to be enjoying it, and we want to be preserving it, carrying it
on, protecting it for future generations.

In one of his many instructions he said, "Counselors, leaders," he
said, "now that we have raised you here, now that you are who you
are," he said, "when you counsel for the welfare of the people, then
think not of yourself, nor of your family, nor even your generation."
He said, "Make your decisions on behalf of the seventh generation
coming. You who see far into the future, that is your responsibility:
to look out for those generations that are helpless, that are
completely at our mercy. We must protect them." And that's great
counsel in today's times, if we want the seventh generation to be
here, and to have what we have.

BL: What do you think is the great impediment to the implementation of
that wisdom?

OL: Human ego is probably the biggest impediment -- the amazing
ability of any human to perceive themselves as almighty powerful, no
matter what. That is a big problem. We were instructed long before the
Peace Maker to be respectful, to have ceremonies, to carry out
thanksgivings for everything. We have an enormous amount of ceremony
and thanksgiving still going on in North America. Indian nations
across the country are still carrying on those ceremonies in their
languages and through their dances. We're trying.

And we're told, as long as there is one to speak and one to listen,
one to sing and one to dance, the fight is on. So that is hope. To not
give up. To try, and to use reason. Peace Maker said, "I'm going to
throw your weapons of war into this hole." He uprooted that great tree
and instructed all the men to bring their weapons of war and to cast
them into this hole. That was the first disarmament. And he said, "I'm
not going to leave you unprotected and helpless." And he gave us the
great tobacco plant. And he said, "This will be your medium to speak
to me when you need to." And he gave us a very special plant, which we
still use, still speak to him with.

We believe. And I think as long as we're doing that, there is a

BL: When you meet with people -- Desmond Tutu for example, Gorbachev,
other people who've sought your counsel and the wisdom of the Six
Nations -- do you sense a possibility that these cultures that are
driven by issues of private property, social control, and capitalism
can be guided by your example of how to conduct a civilization without

OL: Indian people have as much dissension among themselves as anybody.
I think that our understanding is simply that dissension begins with
each individual. You don't need two people to have that tension; you
have it within yourself. As a human being, you have a spiritual
center, and if you go too far to the right or too far to the left,
you're out of balance. And that occurs every day.

In the creation story that we have, we talk about the twin brothers,
one good, one evil, and we talk about the battles that they went
through, enveloping the Earth itself. It's a story to the people, to
explain that within each of us we have these tensions, and that on any
given day any one of us can be the world's worst enemy.

And that's why you have councils, and that's why you have rule, and
that's why you have community and law, because that is part of
humanity. And there is no ultimate authority. But of course over time
people have found standards of moral right, and I think that's where
the real law lies. It lies in morality. A balance.

The only thing that you can do is have custom in usage, and a good
example. That's why grandpas and grandmas are so important. They are
the transition people. They move the children into the next
generation. Peace Maker said, "Make your decisions on behalf of seven
generations." He's telling you to look ahead, to not think about
yourself. If you can stop thinking about yourself and begin thinking
about responsibility, everything is going to get better. Immediately
everything will change. But that is not the makeup of the human mind.
There's always the evil twin. And there's always the good twin. It's a
daily battle.

BL: My own problem at the moment is a frustration that my fate, the
fate of the people I love, and the fate of my family are in the hands
of men who see no reason to listen to counsel from outside the
circumscribed world of their own knowledge. I live in a country in
which people take pride in never having had any kind of experience
with other cultures, who believe that they have perfected the ways of
life to such a degree that forcing them down the throats of other
people is an act of benevolence. They don't want people who speak for
the integration of spiritual and material life at the table because
these people are disruptive when it comes to issues of consumerism,
economic expansion, and international cooperation. To me, this is
fundamentally not only unjust, but stupid.

OL: I see it that way too. We're being placed in an untenable position
by greed and force and authority. If I was sitting on the moon looking
back on North America, on the democracy that was here when
Haudenosaunee was meeting and the Peace Maker was bringing these ideas
to us, I would have seen this light, this bright light. I'd see it
grow. And then in 1776, when the Continental Congress came as close to
Indian nations as they ever would in their style of thinking, that
light was growing again. The idea of democracy and the idea of peace
were there.

But it began to dim almost immediately, as they began to take away
peoples' rights in the Constitution of the United States. The
Constitution institutionalized the idea that only men with money or
property could vote. They said it was okay to have a slave or two or
three or ten or twenty. The light began to dim. Haudenosaunee chiefs
shook their heads and they said, "You're courting trouble." And then
it really got dim in 1863, and 4 and 5 and 7 and 8, when they had a
great civil war in this country over the issues of power, authority,
slavery. That was a very intense war. That was brother against

And so it goes on, this idea of private property, this idea of
accruement of wealth. And now we have corporate states, corporations
that have the status of states -- independent and sovereign, and
fealty to no one, no moral law at all. President Bush has said, "Let
the market dictate our direction." Now if that isn't about as stupid
as you can get. What he said was, let the greed of the people dictate
the direction of the Earth. If that's the basis of a country, then
it's really lost what you would call a primary direction for survival.

This is really the danger today -- this empty, senseless lack of
leadership. But it doesn't mean that responsibility isn't in the hands
of the people. To come down to the nut of the whole thing, it's the
people's responsibility to do something about it. Leadership was never
meant to take care of anybody. Leadership was meant to guide people;
they take care of themselves. People should be storming the offices of
all these pharmaceutical companies that are stealing money from them.
They should be dragging these leaders, these CEOs, out into the
streets and they should be challenging them. They're not doing that.
They're just worried about how they're going to pay more.

It's the abdication of responsibility by the people. What was it that
they said? By the people and for the people? That was the Peace
Maker's instruction: Of, by, and for the people. You choose your own
leaders. You put 'em up, and you take 'em down. But you, the people,
are responsible. You're responsible for your life; you're responsible
for everything.

People haven't been here all that long as a species on the Earth. We
haven't been here all that long and our tenure is in question right
now. The question arises, Do we have the wisdom, do we have the
discipline, do we have the moral rule, the moral law, are we mature
enough to care for what is our responsibility? That question can only
be answered by the people.


This interview grew out of an Orion Society event called Artful
Advocacy, which was hosted and funded by the Rockefeller Brothers
Fund, with additional support from the Nathan Cummings Foundation and
the Compton Foundation.

Copyright 2007 The Orion Society

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From: Center for Health and the Global Environment, Jan. 17, 2007
[Printer-friendly version]



Scientific and evangelical leaders recently met to search for common
ground in the protection of the creation. We happily discovered far
more concordance than any of us had expected, quickly moving beyond
dialogue to a shared sense of moral purpose.

Important initiatives were already underway on both sides, and when
compared they were found to be broadly overlapping. We clearly share a
moral passion and sense of vocation to save the imperiled living world
before our damages to it remake it as another kind of planet. We agree
not only that reckless human activity has imperiled the Earth --
especially the unsustainable and short-sighted lifestyles and public
policies of our own nation -- but also that we share a profound moral
obligation to work together to call our nation, and other nations, to
the kind of dramatic change urgently required in our day. We pledge
our joint commitment to this effort in the unique moment now upon us.


This meeting was convened by the Center for Health and the Global
Environment at Harvard Medical School and the National Association of
Evangelicals. It was envisioned as a first exploratory conference,
based on a shared concern for the creation, to be held among people
who were in some ways quite different in their worldviews. It now
seems to us to be the beginning point of a major shared effort among
scientists and evangelicals to protect life on Earth and the fragile
life support systems that sustain it, drawing on the unique
intellectual, spiritual, and moral contributions that each community
can bring.

Our Shared Concern

We agree that our home, the Earth, which comes to us as that
inexpressibly beautiful and mysterious gift that sustains our very
lives, is seriously imperiled by human behavior.

The harm is seen throughout the natural world, including a cascading
set of problems such as climate change, habitat destruction,
pollution, and species extinctions, as well as the spread of human
infectious diseases, and other accelerating threats to the health of
people and the well-being of societies.

Each particular problem could be enumerated, but here it is enough to
say that we are gradually destroying the sustaining community of life
on which all living things on Earth depend. The costs of this
destruction are already manifesting themselves around the world in
profound and painful ways. The cost to humanity is already significant
and may soon become incalculable.

Being irreversible, many of these changes would affect all generations
to come. We believe that the protection of life on Earth is a profound
moral imperative. It addresses without discrimination the interests of
all humanity as well as the value of the non-human world. It requires
a new moral awakening to a compelling demand, clearly articulated in
Scripture and supported by science, that we must steward the natural
world in order to preserve for ourselves and future generations a
beautiful, rich, and healthful environment.

For many of us, this is a religious obligation, rooted in our sense of
gratitude for Creation and reverence for its Creator. One fundamental
motivation that we share is concern for the poorest of the poor, well
over a billion people, who have little chance to improve their lives
in devastated and often war-ravaged environments.

At the same time, the natural environments in which they live, and
where so much of Earth's biodiversity barely hangs on, cannot survive
the press of destitute people without other resources and with nowhere
else to go.

We declare that every sector of our nation's leadership-religious,
scientific, business, political, and educational-must act now to work
toward the fundamental change in values, lifestyles, and public
policies required to address these worsening problems before it is too

There is no excuse for further delays. Business as usual cannot
continue yet one more day. We pledge to work together at every level
to lead our nation toward a responsible care for creation, and we call
with one voice to our scientific and evangelical colleagues, and to
all others, to join us in these efforts.




CONTACTS: Sharon Castillo, Phyllis Cuttino 202.289.5900

Evangelical, Scientific Leaders Launch Effort to Protect Earth

Unprecedented collaboration aims to instill sense of urgency on
elected officials, advance sound environmental policies

Washington, D.C. -- In a first-of-its-kind collaboration, evangelical
and scientific leaders announced today a collaborative effort to
protect the environment. Speaking at a news conference in Washington,
DC, a dozen leaders of the effort shared concerns about human-caused
threats to the creation -- including climate change, habitat
destruction, pollution, species extinction, the spread of human
infectious diseases, and other dangers to the well-being of societies.

The coalition released an "Urgent Call to Action" statement signed by
28 evangelical and scientific leaders. The statement -- sent to
President George W. Bush, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, bipartisan
congressional leaders, and national evangelical and scientific
organizations -- urges "fundamental change in values, lifestyles, and
public policies required to address these worsening problems before it
is too late. Business as usual cannot continue yet one more day." The
group pledged to "work together toward a responsible care for creation
and call with one voice" to the religious, scientific, business,
political and educational arenas to join them in this historic

"There is no such thing as a Republican or Democrat, a liberal or
conservative, a religious or secular environment. We all breathe the
same air and drink the same water. Scientists and evangelicals share a
deep moral commitment to preserve this precious gift we have all been
given," said Dr. Eric Chivian, Nobel laureate and Director of the
Harvard Medical School Center for Health and the Global Environment.
"Great scientists are people of imagination. So are people of great
faith. We dare to imagine a world in which science and religion
cooperate, minimizing our differences about how Creation got started,
to work together to reverse its degradation. We will not allow it to
be progressively destroyed by human folly," added Rev. Richard Cizik,
Vice President for Government Affairs of the National Association of

Stressing that their effort is just beginning, coalition members spoke
about some of the immediate next steps they will be taking, including
holding meetings with Congressional leaders from both parties to
inform them of this unprecedented effort and encourage their attention
to environmental issues. They also plan to hold a Summit on the
Creation and will develop outreach tools, such as an environmental
bible and environmental curricula.

"If current deterioration of the environment by human activity
continues unabated, best estimates are that half of Earth's surviving
species of plants and animals will be extinguished or critically
endangered by the end of the century. The price for future generations
will be paid in economic opportunity, environmental security, and
spiritual fulfillment. The saving of the living environment is
therefore an issue appropriately addressed jointly by science and
religion," said Pulitzer-award winning author Dr. Edward O. Wilson.

One of the imperatives of the group will be to advance the dialogue
and influence policy in regards to global warming. "In order to avoid
clear and substantial dangers... it will be necessary to substantially
reduce CO2 emissions during the next few decades, and perhaps by 80
percent or more before the end of the century, " said Dr. James
Hansen, the leading climate change scientist in the United States.

The coalition vowed to expand their collaboration and encourage action
from all sectors of society. "We are glad to be partnering with our
friends in the scientific community. They have the facts we need to
present to our congregations; we have the numbers of activists that
will work through churches, government, and the business community to
make a significant impact," said Dr. Joel Hunter, Senior Pastor of the
mega Northland Church in Orlando, Florida.

The unique collaboration, 28-members strong and growing, was
spearheaded by leaders from the Center for Health and the Global
Environment at Harvard Medical School and the National Association of
Evangelicals. During a retreat held last November 30 to December 2nd
in Thomasville, Georgia, the group agreed that science proves that the
natural world is imperiled by human behaviors and policies,
particularly by the unsustainable burning of fossil fuels and
degradation of living systems. They decided to embark on a continuing
collaboration and authored the "Urgent Call to Action" statement.

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From: Associated Press, Jan. 20, 2007
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Children Living Near Plants See 56 Percent Risk Increase

HOUSTON -- A new study links the risk of cancer in children with
hazardous air pollutants (HAPs).

About The Study Executive Summary Full Study PDF

Hazardous Air Pollutants (HAPs) are a class of 189 chemicals which are
known or suspected to have adverse effects on health, according to the
Houston [Texas] Health Department. The Health Department reported that
there are no national standards regulating acceptable levels of these
compounds in the environment.

The study found that cancer risks are greater for children who live
close to the Houston Ship Channel and adjacent industrial plants.

The 18-month study examined Harris County, Texas, cancer cases from
1995 to 2003 and emissions including 1,3-butadiene and benzene. It's
the first study to identify a possible link between cancer risks and
toxic air pollution in Harris County.

The study was conducted by the University of Texas School of Public
Health. It was funded by the Houston Department of Health and Human
Services and the Centers for Disease Control.

The study found that children living within 2 miles of the Ship
Channel had a 56 percent higher risk of getting acute lymphocytic
leukemia than children living more than 10 miles from the channel.

It also found that compared with children living in areas with the
lowest estimated 1,3-butadiene levels, children living in areas with
the highest levels had a 40 percent, 38 percent and 153 percent
increased risk of developing any type of leukemia, acute lymphocytic
leukemia and acute myeloid leukemia, respectively.

Researchers said that at the suggestion of several environmental
scientists, they repeated their analyses for childhood leukemia using
the United States Environmental Protective Agency's 1999 National Air
Toxics Assessment modeled ambient 1,3-butadiene and benzene levels. In
general, they saw a similar pattern.

Among adults, neither proximity to the Houston Ship Channel, nor
levels of benzene or 1,3-butadiene was consistently associated with
leukemia or lymphoma risk, the study said.

Mayor Bill White said the results will help spur city efforts to clean
up the air.

A press release said researchers at the Health Department identified
all cancer cases, including adult and childhood cases, diagnosed and
reported to the Texas Cancer Registry from 1995-2003. They then used
existing air monitoring data collected from 1992-2003 by the Texas
Commission on Environmental Quality to estimate ambient census tract
levels to benzene and 1,3-butadiene.

They also estimated the risk of developing leukemia and lymphoma
associated with residential proximity to the Houston Ship Channel.
They assigned cancer cases to a particular census tract based on their
residence at diagnosis as reported to the Texas Cancer Registry.
Researchers calculated cancer rates separately for adult and childhood
cancers for each census tract. They also said they accounted for
gender, age, socio-economic status, and ethnicity.

Distributed by Internet Broadcasting Systems, Inc. The Associated
Press contributed to this report.

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From: New York Times (pg. G1), Jan. 25, 2007
[Printer-friendly version]


Your 'disposable' fashions add to global warming

By Elisabeth Rosenthal

Woking, England -- Josephine Copeland and her 20-year-old daughter, Jo
Jo, visited Primark at the Peacock Center mall here, in the London
suburbs, to buy presents for friends, but ended up loaded with clothes
for themselves: boots, a cardigan, a festive blouse, and a long silver
coat with faux fur trim, which cost $24 but looks like a million
bucks. "If it falls apart, you just toss it away!" said Jo Jo,
proudly wearing her purchase.

Environmentally, that is more and more of a problem.

With rainbow piles of sweaters and T-shirts that often cost less than
a sandwich, stores like Primark are leaders in the quick-growing
"fast fashion" industry, selling cheap garments that can be used and
discarded without a second thought. Consumers, especially teenagers,
love the concept, pioneered also by stores like H&M internationally
and by Old Navy and Target in the United States, since it allows them
to shift styles with speed on a low budget.

But clothes -- and fast clothes in particular -- are a large and
worsening source of the carbon emissions that contribute to global
warming, because of how they are both produced and cared for,
concludes a new report from researchers at Cambridge University
titled "Well Dressed?"

The global textile industry must become eco-conscious, the report
concludes. It explores how to develop a more "sustainable clothing"
industry -- a seeming oxymoron in a world where fashions change every
few months.

"Hmmm," said Sally Neild, 44, dressed in casual chic, in jeans and
boots, as she pondered such alien concepts, shopping bags in hand.
"People now think a lot about green travel and green food. But I
think we are a long way from there in terms of clothes. People are mad
about those stores."

It is hard to imagine how customers who rush after trends, or the
stores that serve them, will respond to the report's suggestions: that
people lease clothes and return them at the end of a month or a
season, so the garments can be lent again to someone else -- like
library books -- and that they buy more expensive and durable clothing
that can be worn for years.

In terms of care, the report highlights the benefits of synthetic
fabrics that require less hot water to wash and less ironing. It
suggests that consumers air-dry clothes and throw away their tumble
dryers, which require huge amounts of energy.

But some big retailers are starting to explore their options. "Our
research shows that customers are getting very concerned about
environmental issues, and we don't want to get caught between the
eyes," said Mike Barry, head of corporate social responsibility at
Marks & Spencer, one of Britain's largest retailers, which helped pay
for the Cambridge study. "It's a trend that we know won't go away
after a season, like a poncho."

Customers "will ask 'what are you doing?' " Mr. Barry said, noting
that 70 percent of Britons shop at his chain. "So we're doing a lot
of thinking about what a sustainable clothing industry could look like
in five years."

Consumers spend more than $1 trillion a year on clothing and textiles,
an estimated one-third of that in Western Europe, another third in
North America, and about a quarter in Asia. In many places, cheap,
readily disposable clothes have displaced hand-me-downs as the
mainstay of dressing.

"My mother had the same wardrobe her entire life," Ms. Neild said.
"For my daughter, styles change every six months and you need to keep

As a result, women's clothing sales in Britain rose by 21 percent
between 2001 and 2005 alone to about $47.6 billion, spurred by lower
prices, according to the Cambridge report.

And while many people have grown accustomed to recycling cans, bottles
and newspapers, used clothes are generally thrown away. "In a wealthy
society, clothing and textiles are bought as much for fashion as for
function," the report says, and that means that clothes are replaced
"before the end of their natural life."

Dr. Julian Allwood, who led a team of environmental researchers in
conducting the report, noted in an interview that it is now easier for
British consumers to toss unwanted clothes than to take them to a
recycling center, and easier to throw clothes into the hamper for a
quick machine wash and dry than to sponge off stains.

He hopes his report will educate shoppers about the costs to the
environment, so that they change their behavior.

There are many examples of how changing consumer priorities have
forced even the most staid retailers to alter the way they do

Last year Marks & Spencer -- Britain's mainstay for products like
underwear and shortbread -- decided to go organic in its food
business; it now sells only free-trade coffee and teas, for example.
Many executives regarded the shift as a foolish and risky decision,
but the store found that sales jumped 12 percent. The store learned a
lesson that executives think will apply to clothes.

"Morally, we know more sustainable clothing is the right thing to do,
but we are more and more convinced that commercially it is the right
thing as well," Mr. Barry said. In fact, marketing the "green"
value of clothing, even if costs a bit more, may provide an advantage
over competitors.

Part of the problem is that neither manufacturers nor customers
understand much about how and when clothing purchases degrade the
environment, since these can occur anywhere from the harvest of cotton
or the manufacture of synthetic fibers to how -- and how often -- the
garment must be washed.

"We've got fantastic standards when it comes to food, but it is all
brand-new when it comes to clothes," Mr. Barry admitted. "We have a
lot to learn."

In their efforts to buy green, customers tend to focus on packaging
and chemicals, issues that do not factor in with clothing. Likewise,
they purchase "natural" fibers like cotton, believing they are good
for the environment.

But that is not always the case: while so-called organic cotton is
exemplary in the way it avoids pesticides, cotton garments squander
energy because they must be washed frequently at high temperatures,
and generally require tumble-drying and ironing. Sixty percent of the
carbon emissions generated by a simple cotton T-shirt comes from the
25 washes and machine dryings it will require, the Cambridge study

A polyester blouse, by contrast, takes more energy to make, since
synthetic fabric comes from materials like wood and oil. But upkeep is
far more fuel-efficient, since polyester cleans more easily and dries

Over a lifetime, a polyester blouse uses less energy than a cotton T-

One way to change the balance would be to develop technology to treat
cotton so that it did not absorb odors so readily.

Also, Dr. Allwood said that "reducing washing temperature has a huge
impact," speaking of a significant drop from about 122 Fahrenheit to
105. Even better, he said, would be to drop washing temperature below
normal body temperatures, but that would require changes in washing
machines and detergents.

The report suggests that retailers could begin to lease clothes for a
season (just as wedding stores rent tuxedos) or buy back old clothes
from customers at a discount, for recycling.

But experiments along these lines have faltered. A decade ago, Hanna
Andersson, an eco-conscious American clothing company, tried offering
mail-order customers 20 percent credit toward new purchases if they
sent back their used garments. This "hannadowns" program was
canceled after two years.

People hope "we'll find new sources of energy, so we won't really
have to change much," Dr. Allwood said. "But that is extremely

To cut back the use of carbons and make fashion truly sustainable,
shoppers will have "to own less, to have less stuff," Dr. Allwood
said. "And that is a very hard sell."

And so Marks & Spencer is thinking about whether its customers will be
willing to change their buying habits, to pay more for less-
fashionable but "sustainable" garments. After all, consumers have
shown a willingness to pay more for clothes not made in sweatshops,
and some are unwilling to buy diamonds because of forced labor in
African mines.

On a recent day outside Marks & Spencer on Guildford High Street,
where everyone was loaded with shopping bags, Audrey Mammana, who is
45, said she was not "a throw-away person" and would be happy to
lease high-end clothing for a season. She would also be willing to
repair old clothes to extend their use, although fewer shops perform
this task.

But, she added: "If you cut out tumble-drying, I think you'd lose me.
I couldn't do without that."

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From: Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility (PEER), Jan. 22, 2007
[Printer-friendly version]


Many PEER supporters and bloggers world-wide have commented on the
controversy surrounding the age of the Grand Canyon generated by a
recent PEER press release. We would like to apologize for the fact
that our December 28, 2006 release, "How Old is the Grand Canyon?
Park Service Won't Say," was not as clear as it should have been. If
we had it to do over, it would have been written differently. While we
aim to call attention to issues that we believe are important, it is
not our intention to promote misinformation. To set the record
straight, we would like to offer the following clarification and

Once we became aware that the press release was being misinterpreted,
we took a couple steps to amend this error:

1) PEER revised the original release on our website, deleting the
problematic first sentence. ["Grand Canyon National Park is not
permitted to give an official estimate of the geologic age of its
principal feature, due to pressure from Bush administration

Although the information was not included in the release, that
sentence was based on the fact that since 2004 (until this recent
controversy erupted) we heard from reporters that the superintendent's
office at GCNP had answered media questions about the age of the
canyon with either a "no comment" or by referring the reporter to

2) We distributed a second press release that laid out clearly the
Park Service's position on the age of the Grand Canyon, and posted the
NPS official statement on our website.

It's significant to note that the public controversy surrounding our
release finally stimulated the National Park Service, for the first
time, to go on the record saying it did not endorse the content of Tom
Vail's book, Grand Canyon: A Different View. As with all other
statements on this issue, of course, it came out of HQ, and not the

Our intention in the original release was simply to point out that the
National Park Service is

a) still selling the creationist book in violation of their own
policies and despite the protests of the Service's own geologists and
the park superintendent

b) stonewalling on the long-promised official review of their decision
to sell the book

c) refusing to issue formal guidance to park staff on how to address
questions from visitors about creationism and the official NPS
position in light of the approval of a book espousing this view.

As a side note, we spoke today with someone who bought the book out of
curiosity, and was dismayed to find that it included promotional
material about the author's church and for his river tour company. He
suggested that this offered further reasons it shouldn't be sold in
the NPS bookstore.

Again, our apologies to anyone who felt offended or misinformed, and
we hope that this clarifies the matter. Thank you for following
PEER's work, and taking the time to become engaged in the issue.
Public discourse and healthy skepticism are crucial in arriving at a
more complete understanding of the truth.

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  Rachel's Democracy & Health News (formerly Rachel's Environment &
  Health News) highlights the connections between issues that are
  often considered separately or not at all.

  The natural world is deteriorating and human health is declining  
  because those who make the important decisions aren't the ones who
  bear the brunt. Our purpose is to connect the dots between human
  health, the destruction of nature, the decline of community, the
  rise of economic insecurity and inequalities, growing stress among
  workers and families, and the crippling legacies of patriarchy,
  intolerance, and racial injustice that allow us to be divided and
  therefore ruled by the few.  

  In a democracy, there are no more fundamental questions than, "Who
  gets to decide?" And, "How do the few control the many, and what
  might be done about it?"

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