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Posts tagged with 'Change'

Weekly Mulch: Greening the Royal Wedding is the Least of Our Worries

Posted Apr 29, 2011 @ 10:52 am by
Filed under: Sustain     Bookmark and Share

by Sarah Laskow, Media Consortium blogger

The biggest news for the environment this week might just be that the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge took pains to add a couple of green touches to this morning’s Royal Wedding. The flowers were seasonal, the food locally grown, and the emissions offset.

At Care2, Laura Bailey has a few more ideas for couples inclined to green a wedding: Wear a vintage wedding dress. Exchange heirloom rings. Give guests environmentally friendly wedding gifts. Ask them to donate to a charity instead of stocking your household with kitchen appliances.

Anyway…

Those of us who don’t live in the fantasy land of British royalty do have bigger problems to worry about: tornadoes, jobs, climate change. At Grist, David Roberts argues that America’s inability to act on this last problem is tied to the general insecurity running rampant:

Americans are so battered and anxious right now. Median wages are flat, unemployment is high, politics is paralyzed. Middle-class families are one health problem away from ruin, and when they fall, there’s no net. That kind of insecurity, as much as anything, explains the American reticence to launch bold new social programs.

The first step to solving climate change, in this formulation, is to give average people two legs to stand on financially. Once Americans feel more confident about today, they’ll be more like to worry about the big problems of the future.

No nuclear

It’s vital that the country get to a place where real discussions about how to deal with the threats of climate change can happen, because the solutions the country’s relying on now won’t cut it in the long term. Take nuclear energy. It plays a key role in America’s energy strategy for the future, despite the compelling reasons for building fewer, not more, plants.

At AlterNet, Norman Solomon, a writer with a long history of arguing against nuclear energy, writes that California needs to shut down its two nuclear plants. He’s worried about the near-term consequences of creating nuclear power in an earthquake-prone zone but also about the long-term impacts of pro-nuclear policies:

The Diablo Canyon plant near San Luis Obispo and the San Onofre plant on the southern California coast are vulnerable to meltdowns from earthquakes and threaten both residents and the environment.

Reactor safety is just one of the concerns. Each nuclear power plant creates radioactive waste that will remain deadly for thousands of years. This is not the kind of legacy that we should leave for future generations.

This week also marked the 25th anniversary of the meltdown at Chernobyl. At The Nation, Peter Rothberg reminds us that nuclear accidents wreak havoc for years to come. The Chernobyl meltdown, he writes, “has caused tens of thousands of cancer deaths, and showed just how far-reaching the ramifications of a serious nuclear accident could be.” Rothberg and Kevin Gostolza also rounded up a list of ten great anti-nuclear songs.

No oil

Nuclear isn’t the only current energy source that poses intolerable risks. As the price of oil has rocketed upwards in the past few weeks, the country has started freaking out and, as Marah Hardt writes at Change.org, in Alaska, state officials are pressuring the federal government to open up oil drilling there. But as Hardt points out:

Spills can and will happen.  And in the freezing, extreme conditions of the Arctic—think extended periods of darkness, fog, sub-zero temperatures, hurricane-force storms, and lots of moving sea ice—clean-up efforts would be nearly impossible.  Just this past February, an oil spill off Norway’s only marine reserve proved how difficult clean-up operations can be, even in relatively calm conditions: oil leaked underneath sea ice, where it was impossible to reach, and surface skimming booms quickly clogged with ice, rendering them useless.

No energy?

No matter what we do, however, gathering the energy used to power our lives will take some toll on the environment. A large portion of clean energy in states like New York, for example, comes from hydroelectric power—dams. But dams are environmental villains of long-standing, as well.

In the West, dams along the Colorado River are negatively impacting the region’s national parks, Public News Service’s Kathleen Ryan reports:

David Nimkin, NPCA’s Southwest regional director, says all of the parks in the [Colorad River] basin, including the Black Canyon of the Gunnison National Park and the Dinosaur National Monument in Colorado, are seeing the sometimes-unintended consequences of placing dams along the river, from unnatural water flow patterns, to the introduction of non-native fish species, or increased river sediment and temperatures.

“The dams also fragment the system as whole, creating small isolated little ecosystems and areas that are not consistent with overall river conditions.”

With these sorts of choices, sometimes it is easier to worry about the little changes we can make to assuage our environmental consciences: recycled wedding invitations might not save the world, but they might hurt it that much less.

This post features links to the best independent, progressive reporting about the environment by members of The Media Consortium. It is free to reprint. Visit the Mulch for a complete list of articles on environmental issues, or follow us on Twitter. And for the best progressive reporting on critical economy, health care and immigration issues, check out The Audit, The Pulse, and The Diaspora. This is a project of The Media Consortium, a network of leading independent media outlets.

Weekly Immigration Wire: 2009 is Make or Break Year for Immigration Reform

Posted Jan 8, 2009 @ 12:10 pm by
Filed under: Immigration     Bookmark and Share

By Nezua
Media Consortium Mediawire Blogger

The new year rushes upon us with momentum born of crisis and necessity. In every direction one looks, change is needed—and not cosmetic alteration, but deep, structural repair. The issue of immigration is no exception.

As New America Media reports in Immigration Demands Heat Up Before Obama Takes Over, Latino/a communities are not alone in speaking out.”Lawmakers, academics, immigration advocates and newspaper editorials” are making noise and “demanding that early attention to be paid to the immigration issue.” The clamor is not just about ending politicization and criminalization of an issue. It’s a matter of who we are as a nation.

There should be a plan that would first allow most of the undocumented to become legal residents, the supporters said. The next step would be eligibility for a green card and ultimately citizenship, a process that could take between seven to 10 years.

Greater emphasis is on family re-unification and less on enforcement by the Department of Homeland Security that controls immigration, and an end to the unconscionable nighttime raids conducted by the Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), arm of the Department of Homeland Security. [...]

Dr. Marco Mason, [a political science professor at Medgar Evers College of the City University of New York, and one of the most vocal immigration advocates in Brooklyn] couldn’t agree more. “President Obama would be telling the world that humanity has returned to U.S. immigration policies,” he said.

Poring over the Immigration Newsladder, one can make out the tensions at play as we, as a People, attempt to answer the question What kind of nation is the UNITED STATES? One approach to the immigration question is through punitive and aggressive means. On that end of the continuum are harsh laws, S.W.A.T.-style raids, mass jailings, a detention center industry, and inevitably, shattered families. The other side of the continuum offers a more humanitarian lens. This view recognizes the interconnected quality of all our struggles, hungers, and pains—and most importantly, that knows neglecting another is a detriment to the whole.

Public News Service reports on how we all benefit from understanding in New Medical Technology Helps CA Immigrants Bridge The Language Gap.

Rancho Los Amigos in Southern California is the first rehabilitation hospital in the world to implement a wireless Video Medical Interpreter system. VMI allows non-English-speaking patients to communicate with their doctors through an on-screen interpreter.

Roland Palencia, director of Community Benefit Programs with L.A. Care Health Plan, says the system improves communication, increases quality of care and reduces medical errors. [...]

“There is definitely a medical benefit to it, but also a psychological one: The patient really feels a lot more at ease that the provider actually understands what he or she is going through.”

Who doesn’t want that? Who ought to be denied such a thing? To some these answers are very clear cut, and even at a young age. Twenty-four year old Sophya Chum is one of those people. Sophya has been active in her community and working hard for change for almost half her life, and today is program coordinator for Khmer Girls in Action (KGA), “a Long Beach-based community organization for young Southeast Asian women,” as The Nation reports in Youth in Action: Sophya Chum, Immigrant Rights Activist. For Sophya, the fight is political and it is personal, and she has some very practical and uncluttered advice to those who want to do more to affect change in the world.

For people interested in advocating for the rights of immigrants and refugees, Sophya suggests starting simple. “Find a community [you're] interested in learning about and creating change in,” she says. “And begin to volunteer.”

Immigration is the quintessential American Story. And this story and its arc, ever repeating itself, is hardly limited to the Latino/a community or the Asian American community.

In Colorado playwright explores cultural conflicts of immigration, religion, the Colorado Independent tells the story of Don Fried, a respected author who began altering his book-in-progress when the Agriprocessors kosher meatpacking plant in Postville, Iowa was raided on May 12, 2008.

Fried is currently toying with the idea of having one of the play’s discontented locals, a character who has not been happy about Jewish people coming to town and building a kosher meatpacking plant there, tip off the federal authorities and spark the immigration raid.

“But then, as the town starts to crater, that person and all the others begin to wonder what has been done — they’ve killed the goose that laid the golden egg,” he said.

There’s that interconnectedness again, and this time through an economic lens.

And so these borders and boundaries, designed to separate us, also thread us together through our lived experiences interacting with them. The Latina/o community, the Jewish community, the Asian American community, the Irish community—and the Polish community, as New America Media reports in Polish Community Shocked by Treatment of Polish Citizens at U.S. Border.

This year ends with an unpleasant intervention by Poland’s diplomatic staff at the U.S. Department of State and the U.S. Embassy in Warsaw. At issue are recent cases of Poles who were denied entry to the U.S. at the New York area airports.

While no one questions the right of the U.S to bar certain individuals from entering the country, the treatment of Polish citizens was shocking to many, especially since most of those stopped at the border were older women in their 60s and 70s. Many of them were coming to visit their families and friends for Christmas, but instead ended up being interrogated by Customs and Border Protection (CBP) officers and transported in handcuffs to a detention center.

And we have to ask ourselves again, What Kind of Nation Are We? What do we lose in a situation like that? Does it balance against any measurable gain? Or is there another way to go about reaching our goal?

Are we the kind of nation that turns 12 million members of our standing society into “dangerous aliens” undeserving of common rights? Is that what kind of nation we will remain in 2009? Public News Service sounds a clear warning in Immigration Policy Blamed for Latino Deaths in NY and Nation.

Are we going to continue to be the kind of nation that makes immigrant women pay, with their bodies, for laws that deprive them of a safe and accessible avenue to rights other women possess? Feministing tells of Latinas and self-induced abortions and the growing use of the drug for self-induced abortions. “The story is the same; immigrant women choose these do-it-yourself abortions for financial reasons, or out of fear of telling their family members, over safer procedures in clinics and hospitals.”

Time and time again, wielding such a heavy hand in response to immigrant issues involves losing touch with the basic humanity a situation requires. You make things worse. Things get out of control. People suffer very real consequences.

In 2009, let’s be a nation of those who help each other; who learn from each other; who stop tearing at our own roots so we can grow together.

This post features links to the best independent, progressive reporting about immigration. Visit Immigration.NewsLadder.net for a complete list of articles on immigration, or follow us on Twitter. And for the best progressive reporting on critical economy and health issues, check out Economy.NewsLadder.net and Healthcare.NewsLadder.net. This is a project of The Media Consortium, a network of 50 leading independent media outlets, and was created by NewsLadder.