Polluted waters near your home, 6-legged frogs, and you

April 19, 2009

It was a reference to the “environmental movement” in government and politics — seniors take the class in Texas.  “What does that mean?”

We have maybe ten minutes in the block to stray.  No time for discovery learning to get this point across in government.

“The movement, the grass-roots political organizing to express concern for clean air, clean water, preservation of green space, preservation of endangered species, protection from toxic chemicals and poisons.  Things really took off after Rachel Carson’s book, Silent Spring. ”

“That’s a funny title.  What’s it about?”  I pause.  It’s dangerous territory to ask what high school kids don’t know these days.

“Is there anyone here who does not know about DDT and its role in threatening our national symbol, the bald eagle?”

Every hand went up.

How can children get to their senior year and not know about Rachel Carson, DDT, or “environmentalism?”

Comes Frontline on PBS this week.  Government and politics teachers, your students should watch and report.

FRONTLINE
http://www.pbs.org/frontline/

This Week: “Poisoned Waters” (120 minutes),
April 21st at 9pm on PBS (Check local listings)

———————-

For years, Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist Hedrick Smith has reported from the corridors of power in Washington, on Wall Street, and overseas.  But these days, he’s worried about something that he’s found much closer to home — something mysterious that’s appeared in waters that he knows well:  frogs with six legs, male amphibians with ovaries, “dead zones” where nothing can live or grow.

What’s causing the trouble? Smith suspects the answers might lie close to home as well.

This Tuesday night, in a special two-hour FRONTLINE broadcast –“Poisoned Waters”– Smith takes a hard look at a new wave of pollution that’s imperiling the nation’s waterways, focusing on two of our most iconic:  the Chesapeake Bay and Puget Sound.  He also examines three decades of environmental regulation that are failing to meet this new threat, and have yet to clean up the ongoing mess of PCBs, the staggering waste from factory farms, and the fall-out from unchecked suburban sprawl.

“The environment has slipped off our radar screen because it’s not a hot crisis like the financial meltdown, war, or terrorism,” Smith says.  “But pollution is a ticking time bomb. It’s a chronic cancer that is slowly eating away the natural resources that are vital to our very lives.”

Among the most worrisome of the new contaminants are “endocrine disruptors,” chemical compounds found in common household products that mimic hormones in the human body and cause freakish mutations in frogs and amphibians.

“There are five million people being exposed to endocrine disruptors just in the Mid-Atlantic region,” a doctor at the Johns Hopkins School of Public Health tells Smith.  “And yet we don’t know precisely how many of them are going to develop premature breast cancer, going to have problems with reproduction, going to have all kinds of congenital anomalies of the male genitalia that are happening at a broad low level so that they don’t raise the alarm in the general public.”

Can new models of “smart growth” and regulation reverse decades of damage?  Are the most real and lasting changes likely to come from the top down, given an already overstretched Obama administration?  Or will the greatest reasons for hope come from the bottom up, through the action of a growing number of grassroots groups trying to effect environmental change?

Join us for the broadcast this Tuesday night.  Online, you can watch “Poisoned Waters” again, find out how safe your drinking water is,  and  learn how you can get involved.

Ken Dornstein
Senior Editor

————————

Funding for FRONTLINE is provided through the support  of PBS viewers. Major funding for FRONTLINE is provided by The John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation. Additional funding is provided by the Park Foundation. Major funding for Poisoned Waters is provided by The Seattle Foundation, The Russell Family Foundation, The Wallace Genetic Foundation, The Morris and Gwendolyn Cafritz Foundation, The Keith Campbell Foundation for the Environment, The Merrill Family Foundation, The Abell Foundation, The Bullitt Foundation, the Park Foundation, and The Rauch Foundation.  Additional funding is provided by The Town Creek Foundation, The Clayton Baker Trust, The Lockhart Vaughan Foundation, The Curtis and Edith Munson Foundation, The Chesapeake Bay Trust, Louisa and Robert Duemling, Robert and Phyllis Hennigson, Robert Lundeen, The Eugene and Agnes E. Meyer Foundation, The Prince Charitable Trusts, Ron and Kathy McDowell, Valerie and Bill Anders, Bruce and Marty Coffey, The Foundation for Puget Sound, Janet Ketcham, Win Rhodes, The Robert C. and Nani S. Warren Foundation, Jim and Kathy Youngren, Vinton and Amelia Sommerville and Laura Lundgren.

————————

FRONTLINE is a registered trademark of the WGBH Educational Foundation.

See a preview, and read more, here.  Another preview below.  You can watch the entire program online after April 21.


Anti-Obama blogger indicted for threatening Secret Service agent

April 19, 2009

You think some of those who deny Obama’s eligibility sound a little crazy?

Seems to be an accurate perception.  From The Oregonian (via OregonLive.com):

A Springfield blogger is accused of threatening the life, limbs and lower alimentary canal of a Secret Service agent.

James T. Cuneo, 43, was indicted Thursday on charges of making a series of threats against Special Agent Ronald Brown in the course of his official duties.

This was strange turnabout for Brown, whose job in the agency’s Presidential Protection Division is mainly to thwart threats against the commander in chief. For the first time in his 15-year career, Brown wrote in federal court papers, someone was repeatedly harassing him.

There’s a difference between a dog on a bone and a psychotic; some of the Obama denialists appear to have blurred the difference.  Cuneo’s complaint appears to revolve around the same issue that set off Texas Darlin’ and a few dozen others.  Cuneo escalated the thing; let’s hope no others do the same.

On Oct. 16, Brown and Springfield police detectives dropped in on Cuneo to chat about threats he had allegedly made about Google executives on his Internet blog: walkndude.wordpress.com. (WordPress has taken the site offline for violation of its terms of service.)

“Cuneo was extremely belligerent, refused to answer questions and became increasingly threatening,” Brown wrote in an arrest affidavit. “We left the driveway of Cuneo’s residence without further incident.”

Cuneo then began to phone the Secret Service office in Portland, threatening Brown and others, the government alleges. “Cuneo,” Brown wrote, “seems to think that we are aiding and abetting the ‘illegal U.S. President’ and that he and others need to arrest us for not doing our job.”

Brown says Cuneo phoned him in January and, with a colorful series of expletives, threatened him with physical harm, including execution by hanging, electric chair or firing squad. Those threats — and Cuneo’s history of violence — concerned federal officials, according to Brown’s affidavit.

Time to get back to real issues.  2010 is around the corner, 2012 is not much farther.

And, by the way, a federal judge in the District of Columbia issued an order dismissing one of the many nuisance suits filed by the denialists (styled Hollister v. Soetoro) , stating clearly that the suits are nuisances and asking for a showing of why sanctions under Rule 11 of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure should not be applied.  In short, the judge has ruled that the case against Obama’s eligibility is so rank and utterly without substance that any lawyer of average intelligence and sound mind should know better than to trouble a court with it.  I think this is from the court’s order:

Because it appears that the complaint in this case may have been presented for an improper purpose such as to harass; and that the interpleader claims and other legal contentions of the plaintiff are not warranted by existing law or by non-frivolous arguments for extending, modifying or reversing existing law or for establishing new law, the accompanying order of dismissal requires Mr. Hemenway [the attorney of record] to show cause why he has not violated Rules 11 (b) (1) and 11 (b) (2) of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure, and why he should not be required to pay reasonable attorneys fees and other expenses to counsel for the defendants.

Crazier fringes of the anti-Obama guild claim that a letter from Obama’s attorneys asking that the suit be dropped is “threatening.”  It’s not threatening to tell the schoolyard bully to straighten up.  How much ozone have these people depleted?

Update: Yes to Democracy also carries news on the March 24 action by Judge Robertson.  When do the denialists finally wake up, smell the coffee, smell the stale beer cans, pinch themselves, take a shower and get on with life?  So, to sum up:  A judge in Washington, D.C., has dismissed the suit and called the bluff of the plaintiffs and stealth plaintiffs; Huffington Post revealed the financial stake of WorldNet Daily in continuing to finance the suits, and in pushing the suits improperly; and a federal prosecutor won an indictment of a blogger who started rumbling about taking violent action in favor of the Birthers, and who failed to heed warnings to tone down his vitriol.  Have the birthers figured it out yet?

Tip of the old scrub brush to Micah.

Resources:


%d bloggers like this: