Ashcroft Fishes Out 1872 Law in a Bid to Scuttle Protester Rights

Sailor-mongering act rises from history as the feds try to cripple Greenpeace.

By Bill McKibben

Bill McKibben, a scholar in residence at Middlebury College, is
the author of many books on the environment, including "Enough: Staying Human in an Engineered Age" (Times Books, 2003).

May 14, 2004

In April of 2002, a cargo ship, the Jade, was steaming toward Miami
carrying a cargo of mahogany illegally cut from the Brazilian Amazon. Two Greenpeace activists tried to clamber aboard the ship and hang a banner that read "President Bush: Stop Illegal Logging." None of which is unusual.

The trees of the Amazon are logged day after day, year after year, despite a host of treaties and laws and despite the fact that scientists agree that an intact rain forest is essential for everything from conserving species to protecting the climate. And Greenpeace, day after day, tries to call attention to such crimes. It pesters rich, powerful interests about toxic dumping and outlaw whaling and a hundred other topics that those interests would rather not be pestered about. The Miami activists were arrested, spent a weekend in jail, pleaded guilty and were sentenced to time served. All in a day's work.

But here's where it starts getting weird: More than a year after the ship boarding, the Justice Department indicted Greenpeace itself. According to the group's attorneys, it's the first time an organization has been prosecuted for "the speech-related activities of its supporters."

How far did the government have to stretch to make its case? The law it cited against boarding ships about to enter ports was passed in 1872 and aimed at the proprietors of boardinghouses who used liquor and prostitutes to lure crews to their establishments. The last prosecution under the "sailor-mongering" act took place in 1890. The new case could be like something straight out of "Master and Commander."

The matter goes to trial next week in a federal district court in Miami, and if Greenpeace loses, the organization could be fined $20,000 and placed on probation. The money's no big deal; outraged supporters would probably turn such a verdict into a fundraising bonanza. But the probation would be. The group might well be prevented from engaging in any acts of civil disobedience for years to come. If it crossed the line, the group's officers might be jailed and its assets seized. Since civil disobedience is what Greenpeace does best, the Justice Department might in effect be shutting the group down.

That would be too bad, and not just for Greenpeace. The potential precedent here -- that the government can choke off protest by shutting down those who organize it -- undermines one of the most important safety valves of our political life.

During the civil rights era, Southern sheriffs used every law they could think of to jail protesters -- loitering was a favorite charge. Imagine some group being put on probation because it had helped organize sit-ins. But even J. Edgar Hoover didn't try to criminalize the NAACP.

As the veteran civil rights campaigner Julian Bond said recently, "If John Ashcroft had done this in the 1960s, black Americans would not be voting today, eating at formerly all-white lunch counters, or sitting on bus front seats."

As is the norm, this attack on political liberties is excused by the need for "port safety" in the wake of 9/11. But I've watched Greenpeace for years, and its members are the furthest thing from terrorists; according to the group, "no Greenpeace activist has ever harmed another individual," despite a record of direct action dating to its founding in 1971.

If port safety truly were the issue, the federal government would have made far more progress toward inspecting cargo arriving by sea. Confidence in the vigor of governmental scrutiny was not enhanced when it managed not to find the Jade's illegal mahogany and let it sail on from Miami. Two days later it unloaded 70 tons of the wood in Charleston, S.C.

The real threat Greenpeace represents is that its members tell the truth, and do it obnoxiously, out in public, where it can't be missed.

The Bush administration knows its environmental record is poor, and it knows that hanging banners matters. (That's why the White House printed up the "Mission Accomplished" flag for the president's May 1, 2003, aircraft carrier photo op). To spare itself embarrassment, the
administration is willing to endanger core political freedoms that go back to the very founding of the republic.

How far back? Dec. 16, 1773, at least, when a crew of patriots disguised as Mohawks illegally boarded three ships in Boston Harbor and dumped overboard all the cargo of tea. As the raiders paraded away from the docks, British Adm. John Montague shouted: "Well, boys, you have had a fine pleasant evening for your Indian caper, haven't you. But mind, you have got to pay the fiddler yet."

Now 230 years later, it's Atty. Gen. Ashcroft playing the part of the
British officer, and the words are just as chilling.

Copyright 2004 Los Angeles Times

Informant: Teresa Binstock

Ocean medicines could be lost

By Carolyn Fry
in Galway, Ireland

Imperilled snails fight pain
Plants and animals living in the oceans could provide new antibiotics, drug treatments and painkillers.

But scientists believe these unexplored resources may disappear before we have had the chance to tap their potential.

Fishing, climate change and pollution are altering the food chains in the ocean - reducing biodiversity.

The decline needs to be stopped before it is too late, delegates to the European Conference on Marine Science and Ocean Technology in Ireland said.

Rich diversity

"Life originated in the oceans and has evolved over a much longer time than on land, so the diversity of life is far greater," Professor Carlo Heip, of the Netherlands Institute of Ecology, said at EurOCEAN 2004.

However, marine biodiversity is very poorly known.

We need to know how biodiversity is maintained as the ocean is a very important resource for humanity
Dr Adrianna Ianora

Only a few hundred thousand species of marine plants and animals have been scientifically described; and in terms of micro-organisms, we are just scratching the surface of what exists.

Species have evolved several tricks to survive the rigours of the ocean environment. Many organisms produce molecules designed to give them a competitive edge, in the fight for survival.

These molecules can, for example, make the host creature taste bad, or even render them toxic enough to kill predators outright.

Some sessile creatures, unable to move location, cover themselves in secretions that prevent bacteria from colonising them.

New drugs

Scientists are studying such marine organisms with a view to learning more about cell functions, and using this knowledge to develop new drugs.

The oceans' vast resources remain to be documented
One line of work has focused on diarrhetic shellfish poisoning in Europe.

Dinoflagellates produce a toxin called okadaic acid which induces cramps and sickness in humans who eat shellfish exposed to dinoflagellate blooms in seawater.

Scientists have discovered that the acid can also induce cancer and interfere with testosterone - possibly even causing sterility.

"Scientists researching anti-cancer drugs look for molecules which are designed to arrest cell growth," explained Dr Adrianna Ianora, an ecologist at Stazione Zoologica, Anton Dohrn, Italy.

"In addition toxic creatures, such as poisonous snails from the Indo-Pacific, are being explored for their potential to help produce drugs to alleviate pain."

Human activity

Although the oceans have huge potential to provide us with new drugs, they are being altered by human activities.

Overfishing has depleted the number of large predators, such as sharks, affecting food webs down to microbe level.

Professor Heip: Diversity of life is far greater in the ocean
Alien species carried out of their natural environment in the ballast water of ships are changing local ecosystem dynamics, and scientists suggest climate change may ultimately affect the acidity of seawater.

No one knows what the impact of these changes will be.

"It's important to look not just at biodiversity but at how ecosystems function," said Dr Ianora.

"We need to know how biodiversity is maintained as the ocean is a very important resource for humanity."


Informant: Teresa Binstock

GM canola backs out of Australia

By Richard Black
BBC science correspondent

The biotechnology company Monsanto is withdrawing plans to grow genetically modified canola (oilseed rape) in Australia.

The company says that recent legislation prohibiting the use of GM crops means further investment is unjustified.

The news comes just two days after Monsanto announced it was withdrawing its GM wheat globally.

In Australia, GM crops have received a mixed reception.

Although the Australian federal government supports GM agriculture, the governments of Australian states oppose it.

Most have either banned GM crops outright or imposed moratoria. Monsanto says that in this legislative environment, it is not worth proceeding with GM canola.

Financially unattractive

Monsanto Australia's Communications manager, Mark Buckingham, says restrictions on GM trials in many states have made their GM plans financially unattractive.

"The international success of biotech crops continues to grow, with 15% growth last year in the area of crops with GM traits around the world," he told Australia's ABC network.

"So the opportunities are there, but unfortunately the uncertainty around canola in Australia has meant it's not an attractive business opportunity in comparison to those other business opportunities."

Farmers and exporters are split on the issue.

The Grains Council of Australia, the main trade body for growers, says an important opportunity is being missed.

But some farmers have warned that growing GM canola would compromise exports to Europe, where consumers and therefore importers are looking for GM-free products.

Canola exports earn Australia just under half a billion US dollars annually.

There have also been concerns about gene transfer from canola to wild relatives, leading to the growth of herbicide-resistant "superweeds".


Informant: Teresa Binstock

Globe Grows Darker as Sunshine Diminishes 10% to 37%

By Kenneth Chang
New York Times
May 13, 2004


In the second half of the 20th century, the world became, quite literally, a darker place.

Defying expectation and easy explanation, hundreds of instruments around the world recorded a drop in sunshine reaching the surface of Earth, as much as 10 percent from the late 1950's to the early 90's, or 2 percent to 3 percent a decade. In some regions like Asia, the United States and Europe, the drop was even steeper. In Hong Kong, sunlight decreased 37 percent.

No one is predicting that it may soon be night all day, and some scientists theorize that the skies have brightened in the last decade as the suspected cause of global dimming, air pollution, clears up in many parts of the world.

Yet the dimming trend ‹ noticed by a handful of scientists 20 years ago but dismissed then as unbelievable ‹ is attracting wide attention. Research on dimming and its implications for weather, water supplies and agriculture will be presented next week in Montreal at a joint meeting of American and Canadian geological groups.

"There could be a big gorilla sitting on the dining table, and we didn't know about it," said Dr. Veerabhadran Ramanathan, a professor of climate and atmospheric sciences at the University of California, San Diego. "There are many, many issues that it raises."

Dr. James E. Hansen, director of the NASA Goddard Institute for Space Studies in Manhattan, said that scientists had long known that pollution particles reflected some sunlight, but that they were now realizing the magnitude of the effect.

"It's occurred over a long time period," Dr. Hansen said. "So it's not something that, perhaps, jumps out at you as a person in the street. But it's a large effect."

Satellite measurements show that the sun remains as bright as ever, but that less and less sunlight has been making it through the atmosphere to the ground.

Pollution dims sunlight in two ways, scientists theorize. Some light bounces off soot particles in the air and goes back into outer space. The pollution also causes more water droplets to condense out of air, leading to thicker, darker clouds, which also block more light. For that reason, the dimming appears to be more pronounced on cloudy days than sunny ones. Some less polluted regions have had little or no dimming.

The dynamics of global dimming are not completely understood. Antarctica, which would be expected to have clean air, has also dimmed.

"In general, we don't really understand this thing that's going on," said Dr. Shabtai Cohen, a scientist in the Israeli Agriculture Ministry who has studied dimming for a decade. "And we don't have the whole story."

The measuring instrument, a radiometer, is simple, a black plate under a glass dome. Like asphalt in summer, the black plate turns hot as it absorbs the sun's energy. Its temperature tells the amount of sunlight that has shone on it.

Since the 50's, hundreds of radiometers have been installed from the Arctic to Antarctica, dutifully recording sunshine. In the mid-80's, Dr. Atsumu Ohmura of the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology in Zurich sifted through the data to compare levels in different regions. "Suddenly," Dr. Ohmura said, "I realized it's not easy to do that, because the radiation was changing over time."

He recalled his reaction, saying, "I thought it is rather unbelievable."

After an analysis, he was convinced that the figures were reliable and presented his findings at a scientific conference.

Asked about his colleagues' reaction, Dr. Ohmura said: "There's no reaction. Very disappointing."

At that time, Dr. Gerald Stanhill of the Israeli Agriculture Ministry noticed similar darkening in Israel.

"I really didn't believe it," Dr. Stanhill said. "I thought there was some error in the apparatus."

Dr. Stanhill, now retired and living in New York, also looked around and found dimming elsewhere. In the 90's, he wrote papers describing the phenomenon, also largely ignored. In 2001, Drs. Stanhill and Cohen estimated that the worldwide dimming averaged 2.7 percent a decade.

Not every scientist is convinced that the dimming has been that pronounced. Although radiometers are simple, they do require periodic calibration and care. Dirt on the dome blocks light, leading to erroneous indications. Also, all radiometers have been on land, leaving three-fourths of the earth to supposition.

"I see some datasets that are consistent and some that aren't," Dr. Ellsworth G. Dutton, who heads surface-radiation monitoring at the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, said. "Certainly, the magnitude of the phenomenon is in considerable question."

Dr. Beate G. Liepert, a research scientist at the Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory of Columbia University, has analyzed similar information and arrives at a smaller estimate of the dimming than Drs. Stanhill and Cohen. Dr. Liepert puts it at 4 percent from 1961 to 1990, or 1.3 percent a decade. "It's a little bit the way you do the statistics," she said.

A major set of measurements from the Indian Ocean in 1999 showed that air pollution did block significant sunlight. Following plumes of soot and other pollution, scientists measured sunlight under the plumes that was 10 percent less bright than in clear air.

"I thought I was too old to be surprised by anything," said Dr. Ramanathan, who was co-chief scientist of the projects.

Dr. Ohmura said he hoped to finish his analysis of the numbers since 1990 by late next month or early July.

"I have a very strong feeling that probably solar radiation is increasing during the last 14 years," he said. He based his hunch, he said, on a reduction in cloud cover and faster melting rates in glaciers.

But clearer, sunnier days could mean bad news for global warming. Instead of cloudiness slowing rising temperatures, sunshine would be expected to accelerate the warming.


GLOBAL DIMMING (1/2/2004):

Informant: NHNE

Hyperaktivität: Institut sucht nach Ursachen

Frankfurt/Main (dpa) - Das Sigmund-Freud-Institut in Frankfurt will in zwei Studien die Ursachen des Aufmerksamkeits-Defizit- Hyperaktivitäts-Syndrom (AHDS) erforschen.

Quelle: http://www.netdoktor.de/nachrichten/index.asp?y=2004&m=5&d=14&id=111419

Omega: warum noch lange nach Ursachen suchen, wenn die Fakten längst bekannt sind:

Hyperaktivität (Auszug)

Bisherige Hinweise/ Beweise besagen, dass niederfrequent gepulste Hochfrequenzen des Mobilfunks an Begünstigung/ Auslösung folgender gesundheitsschädlicher Störungen beteiligt sein können.

Schlafstörungen - Unruhezustände, Nervosität, depressive Verstimmungen, Kopfschmerzen, Tinnitus, Konzentrations- u. Gedächtnisstörungen, Augenreizungen/ Grauer Star, Lernstörungen bei Kindern, erhöhter Blutdruck, Herzrhythmusstörungen, Migräne, Schwindel, Verstärkung der Amalganbelastung, Kopftumor, Augenkrebs, Blutbildveränderungen u. Störung der Blutbildung, beschleunigtes Krebswachstum, ständige Müdigkeit u. Erschöpfung, Allergien, Immunschwäche.

Skandalöses Beispiel:

Familie Bücher in Haibach bei Aschaffenburg wurde/wird seit Jahren durch Mobilfunkanlage T-Mobil aus 60m Entfernung auf gleicher Höhe durch Hauptstrahl auf Kinderzimmer bestrahlt. 10jähriger Sohn erkrankt mit starker Hyperaktivität, Schulschwierigkeiten, eingeschränkte Sehfähigkeit, Wachstumsstillstand! Nach Abschirmmaßnahmen mit 40 000.- DM normalisierten sich schulische Leistungen, Sehstärke wurde wieder besser, Wachstum nach einjährigem Stillstand wieder da. Vor Abschirmmaßnahmen 520 Nanowert, hinterher um 98% den Hochfrequenzwert gesenkt.



Aus großer Sorge um die Gesundheit unserer Mitmenschen wenden wir uns als niedergelassene Ärztinnen und Ärzte aller Fachrichtungen speziell der Umweltmedizin, an die Ärzteschaft, an Verantwortliche in Gesundheitswesen und Politik sowie an die Öffentlichkeit.

Wir beobachten in den letzten Jahren bei unseren PatientInnen einen dramatischen Anstieg schwerer und chronischer Erkrankungen, insbesondere

* Lern-, Konzentrations- und Verhaltensstörungen bei Kindern (z.B. Hyperaktivität)
* Blutdruckentgleisungen, die medikamentös immer schwerer zu beeinflussen sind
* Herzrhythmusstörungen
* Herzinfarkte und Schlaganfälle immer jüngerer Menschen
* hirndegenerative Erkrankungen (z.B. Morbus Alzheimer) und Epilepsie
* Krebserkrankungen wie Leukämie und Hirntumore

Quelle: http://www.igumed.de/apell.html

Die allergische Hyperaktivität zeigt sich vor allem in Form von innerer Unruhe, Nervosität, Konzentrationsstörungen und Schlafstörungen. Aber auch Muskelzuckungen (Ticks) oder Muskelkrämpfe sowie unerklärliche Ängste und Depressionen können damit in Verbindung stehen. Die allergisch bedingte Müdigkeit kann hingegen auch mit einer starken Benommenheit und Antriebslosigkeit einhergehen.

Wie bereits im Artikel "Alle Allergien sind heilbar" ausgeführt, werden über 98 % aller Allergien durch abgelagerte Umweltgifte und chemisch-pharmazeutische Medikamente aber auch durch hochfrequente Funkstrahlungen, insbesondere die zunehmende Mobilfunkstrahlung, verursacht.

Quelle: http://www.mueller-burzler.de/art_grossangriff_nerven.html (Auszug)

Ritalin hat Wirkstoffe für 3 verschiedene Richtungen. Bei Konzentrationsstörungen und Lernschwächen wirkt Ritalin bei Kindern aufputschend und aufmerksamkeitsfördernd, bei Überaktivität und Aggressivität (POS) dämpfend und bei Erwachsenen mit depressiven Verstimmungen weckt Ritalin Glücksgefühle. Eine "wahre Wunderdroge" bestens passend zu den meist genannten Schädigungen durch den Mobilfunk.

Quelle: http://www.oekosmos.de/artikel/details/mobilfunk-ritalin-kapitalverbrechen-an-kindern/



Handy-Strahlung: Schüler sollen gewarnt werden

Regelmäßig sollen Schüler, aber auch Lehrer und Eltern über die Gefahren der Handystrahlung informiert und davor gewarnt werden. Das fordern Linkspolitiker.

Neben Zahnkontrolle, Schularzt und Sexaufklärung soll es bald auch eine regelmäßige Handy-Warnung in den Berner Schulen geben. Das jedenfalls fordert SP-Großrätin Danielle Lemann: «Jugendliche sind sich häufig nicht bewusst, welche gefährlichen Nebenwirkungen die elektromagnetischen Felder haben können», sagt sie. Außerdem seien die Jungen für die aggressive Werbung und die günstigen Angebote der Handylobby besonders empfänglich.

Weil man die Gefahr sehr schnell wieder vergesse, soll regelmäßig informiert werden – wie häufig und in welcher Form, ist noch offen. «Eine gute Variante wäre sicher, jährlich Flugblätter zu verteilen», sagt Danielle Lemann. Sie würde es begrüßen, wenn Lehrer das Thema im Unterricht aufnehmen würden. Dabei solle nicht dogmatisch gepredigt, sondern vielmehr sollen Tipps und Tricks vermittelt werden: Die Schüler sollen lernen, mit ihren Mobiltelefonen so umzugehen, dass sie weniger Strahlung abbekommen.

Denn Lemann, selber Schulärztin, ist überzeugt: «Bei vielen Kindern mit Aufmerksamkeitsstörungen spielen die elektromagnetischen Wellen eine Rolle.»

Andrea Abbühl




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