Good News/Bad News October 3, 2002

There's been so much Bad News this week that we hardly know what to focus on first -- Man-Cows, ice meteors, or the Bush administration's lifelong partnership with Pure Evil? It goes without saying that Bad News will be first this week.

Bad News

It was a strange week in the "Acts of God" department: above and beyond the "When Animals Attack" quality of lions, tigers and bears going on rampages world-wide, we've also seen the development of global-warming induced "ice meteors" falling from the sky. Makes us feel we'd be better off living underground...

Everyone, meet the Man-Cow; Man-Cow, meet everyone. A New Zealand company got approval to insert human genes into cows. Why? No one really knows. The company even admits this, we swear! "You do the research because you don't know the answers." Great jumpin' jesus!

In other great animal news, the factory farm industry is fighting a proposal to limit dosing animals with antibiotics for fear of breeding superbacteria. The argument here is sickening beyond belief: rather than give animals space to move around and fresh feed, the industry needs to medicate their animals (and, consequently, all you meat eaters) repeatedly to keep them from getting sick.

Here's a great exercise in reading between the lines: when this says "agricultural experts," it means "biotech PR flacks." When it says GM corn is "highly profitable," they're clearly referring to the biotech companies, not farmers. And when it says the conference was "organized by biotech," that just means that no one else is really interested in helping people eat right. Thank you, benevolent corporate rulers!

So we're thinking that maybe, just maybe, Bush had help crafting his environmental policies. Why, you ask? Well, no one reason in particular, except maybe the tooth-and-claw fight Bush's EPA is putting up to prevent the release of his policy-planning documents...

And we're certainly not reassured by the latest Republican push to loosen monopoly regulations on utility companies. Looks like that whole Enron fiasco is long forgotten, at least by greedy Republicans.

In the ongoing "forest-thinning" debate, we've got some seriously negative developments this week: Primarily because the Forest Service revealed that the report used to fuel this debate was "rushed and incomplete," and therefore the debate is based on faulty data. Despite this news, Congress agrees on a bill to "streamline regulations" preventing widespread forest logging. That bill is still subject to debate and a Congressional vote, so Bush took it upon himself to quietly "revise regulations" that protect old-growth forests. Good old Dubya, always working unilaterally and with no oversight.

Along these lines, the Democrats unveiled a report showing that during the Bush administration's reign of terror, EPA enforcement actions have dropped by 80 percent. Apparently that's what happens when you staff your environmental agency with oil, timber and agriculture executives -- who knew?

Good News

As one of our readers noted this week, acrylamides have gone mainstream. It was announced this week that none other than the highly mainstream Food and Drug Administration would study the danger posed by acrylamides in food. Watch your Chee-tos, folks: they'll kill you.

Apparently we've begun the race for the 2003 Green Oscars: Royal Dutch Shell has turned the theme-park city of Madurodam in the Netherlands into the first "Solar City." Sure, it's not a real city, but it's a start, right?

Meanwhile, across the globe, Russia has a development that won't be seen in any ad campaigns: an "Atomic City," economically dependent on burying toxic waste!

Although most people are happy to hear the news that the hole in the ozone layer is the smallest since 1988, we would like to add a more alarmist interpretation: It's splitting in two and getting more nimble. Read between the lines, people -- it's the Ozone Hole 2002/2003 World Tour, and it's coming to your town...

It's almost as if once you start talking about something enough, it happens. Toyota and Honda announced this week that they will begin selling fuel-cell cars by the end of the year. The U.S. auto industry had announced previously that it would be a couple years before they would be in a position to sell them, but we're sure they'll step up production now that the challenge has been put. Next up: we're going to start hyping matter transporters!

Congress this week proposed a massive infusion of corn oil to the U.S. fuel bloodstream this week, proposing five billion gallons of ethanol-blended gasoline in the next decade. This is a mixed blessing for too many reasons to count here, but coupled with Minnesota's recent regulation of polluting ethanol plants, we're comfortable dropping this tidbit in the Good News section.

This last bit is good news only insofar as it brings us closer to our dream of seeing Interior Secretary Gale Norton behind bars: Gale Norton has once again been cited for contempt of court, this time for her failure to act to protect manatees. You may remember that she was held in contempt just three weeks ago for her incompetence in dealing with Native American trust funds. Two strikes down, Gale, only one to go...

Matt Wheeland is an increasingly irate AlterNet Fellow.


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