Rachel's Precaution Reporter #129

"Foresight and Precaution, in the News and in the World"

Wednesday, February 13, 2008.........Printer-friendly version
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Featured stories in this issue...

Virginia Town Bans Chemical and Radioactive Bodily Trespass
  A municipality takes precautionary action against chemical
  exposures without informed consent ("chemical trespass"): Halifax, Va.
  joins the growing list of communities recognizing the rights of
Fluoridation's Evaporating Support
  "Even if it's sixty years late, the precautionary principle remains
  a valid guide. Further damage will end with a moratorium on fluoride."
Modifying Crops a Risky Venture
  "As things stand in Canada and the U.S., the precautionary
  principle has been abandoned and GM [genetically modified] crops can
  be marketed as long as the producing company asserts there is no harm.
  As scientists are not looking for harm, none is being found."
Nokia Pays Heed To Greenpeace
  In the latest Greenpeace report Nokia has lost its leadership. But
  it has also been praised for it embrace of the precautionary
  principle, its chemicals management, its timeline for phaseout of
  vinyl and brominated flame retardants, and its individual producer
Scientists, Politicians Aim To Tackle Drugs in the Water Supply
  "This is where things get a little sticky," says Metcalfe. "A lot
  of research on risk assessment and levels in drinking water is just
  being done." However, the "precautionary principle suggests we must do
  everything we can to reduce these chemicals in drinking water."
Shark Tourists 'Are Putting Lives in Jeopardy'
  Craig Bovim, who survived a great white attack five years ago, said
  that the precautionary principle should apply. "It's common sense that
  people shouldn't be baiting and teasing a very dangerous animal in
  proximity to humans," he said.
Endless Detention
  Does a precautionary approach to terrorism mean we must abandon the
  principles of civilized behavior that were established in the year
  1215 in the Magna Carta? A libertarian perspective on the United
  States of America's abandonment of habeas corpus.


From: The Community Environmental Legal Defense Fund, Feb. 11, 2008
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On February 7, 2008, the Town Council of Halifax, Virginia, voted
unanimously to adopt an ordinance banning corporate chemical and
radioactive bodily trespass. Enacted to confront concerns about the
proposed uranium mine in adjacent Pittsylvania County, the ordinance
establishes strict liability and burden-of-proof standards for
culpable corporations and government entities that permit and
facilitate corporate bodily trespass.

The ordinance also strips corporations of constitutional protections
within the town. The Town of Halifax thus becomes the 10th
municipality in the nation to refuse to recognize corporate
constitutional "rights," and to prohibit corporate rights from being
used to override the rights of human and natural communities.

The ordinance adopted by the Halifax Town Council also recognizes the
rights of natural communities and ecosystems to exist and flourish
within the town and provides for the enforcement and defense of those
rights, and prohibits corporations from interfering with the civil
rights of residents, including residents' right to self-government.
The ordinance was drafted for the Halifax Town Council by the
Community Environmental Legal Defense Fund, a Pennsylvania-based
nonprofit law firm.

Ben Price, Projects Director for the Legal Defense Fund commented that
"The people of the Town of Halifax have determined that they do not
consent to be irradiated, nor to be trespassed upon, by toxic
substances that would be released by Virginia Uranium, Inc., or any
other state-chartered corporation. The people have asserted their
right and their duty to protect their families, environment, and
future generations. In enacting this law, the community has gone on
record as rejecting the legal theory behind Dillon's Rule, which
erroneously asserts that there is no inherent right to local self-
government. The American Revolution was about nothing less than the
fundamental right of the people to be the decision-makers on issues
directly affecting the communities in which they live. They understood
that a central government, at some distance removed from those
affected, acts beyond its authority in empowering a few powerful men -
privileged with chartered immunities and rights superior to the people
in the community -- to deny citizens' rights, impose harm, and refuse
local self-determination. The people of the Town of Halifax have acted
in the best tradition of liberty and freedom, and confronted injustice
in the form of a state-permitted corporate assault against the consent
of the sovereign people."

Shireen Parsons, the Legal Defense Fund's Virginia Organizer,
commended the action of the Halifax Town Council, stating that, "The
council members demonstrated courage and solidarity in their
commitment to justice and their duty to govern in the interest of
protecting and preserving the health, safety and wellbeing of the
people from whom they derive their power. This is the beginning of
something wonderful in Virginia."

Halifax Town Council member Jack Dunavant said of the decision, "This
is an historic vote. We, the people, intend to protect our health and
environment from corporate assault. It's time to invoke the
Constitution and acknowledge the power of the people to protect our
own destiny and end this era of corporate greed and pollution."


The Community Environmental Legal Defense Fund, located in
Chambersburg, Pennsylvania, has worked with communities resisting
corporate assaults upon democratic self-governance since 1995. Among
other programs, it has brought its unique Daniel Pennock Democracy
Schools to communities in 26 states in which people seek to end
destructive and rights-denying corporate acts routinely permitted by
state and federal agencies. In Pennsylvania alone, more than 100
municipalities have enacted ordinances authored by the Legal Defense

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From: Alaska Report, Feb. 10, 2008
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First published by The Ester Republic, January 2008

By Douglas Yates

In October, Alaska's third-largest city asked voters to consider using
fluoride to medicate the town's water supply. The issue required a
simple up or down vote, one that local water users were eminently
qualified to make. The Chicago-based American Dental Association, an
advocacy organization, didn't see it that way. The ADA shipped in
consultants, hired gofers, and purchased ad space in all the media

The advertising barrage, however, had little sway with capital-city
residents; they failed to see the virtues of fluoride. In a landslide
fashion, Juneau voted to ban the chemical, keeping its water some of
the purest in the state. Despite spending $167,000, the pro-fluoride
forces garnered a feeble 38 percent. The clean water folks, polling 62
percent, spent only $7,000 in media, relying on word of mouth and the
Internet to spread the word.

Juneau's vote demonstrates that fluoride has overstayed its welcome in
many American municipalities. As a mandatory drug, fluoride is facing
buyer's remorse and outright refusal in a growing list of cities.

For sixty years this reactive chemical and highly poisonous substance
has been touted to communities, the publicity cloaked in good
intentions. The message has been: "Poor folks' teeth need a quick fix
to assure they enjoy the benefits of healthy teeth, just like rich
folks. Fluoride is the ticket."

The fluoride campaign began in the late 1930s and continues to this
day. It was hatched at the highest levels of Alcoa, the aluminum
mining and smelting corporation. Fluoride is a waste product produced
during aluminum processing and requires special handling and disposal.
Treating it as a hazardous material is expensive and eroded Aloca's
bottom line.

Today, Alcoa has been joined by US Steel, DuPont, Alcan, Reynolds
Metals, Kaiser Aluminum, Allied Chemical, and the Florida phosphate
fertilizer industry. Each contributes a share of the 155,000 tons of
fluoride waste sold to municipal water systems nationwide. The
operation is so sophisticated that its influence extends to academia,
media, and government.

The net result is that three generations of Americans have been used
as industrial waste filters. The vast majority of fluoride is then
dumped into the environment via water treatment outfalls. In the case
of Fairbanks, the chemical waste ends up in the Tanana River.

Fluoride's political history is recounted in a recent book, The
Fluoride Deception, by Christopher Bryson (published 2004). A former
BBC reporter, Bryson investigated the origins of fluoride's use in
water systems and documents how an obscure finding purporting dental
benefit was hijacked by major corporations to avoid the cost of doing

As reported by Bryson and others, the revolving door between industry
and government, a research project faking fluoride's effectiveness,
and the perception-management wizardry of Edward Bernays allowed Alcoa
and other fluoride-producing industries to begin shunting the waste
into water systems.

Bernays was Sigmund Freud's nephew and familiar with Freud's
psychological research. Historians believe this understanding was a
critical element in selling fluoride to the American people. With its
reputation as a commercial rat poison and use in Nazi and Soviet
prison camps (it makes inmates docile), Bernays had an uphill climb.
However, using psychological hot buttons (fear, greed, envy, guilt),
and a compliant media, Bernays engineered fluoride's social

As it turns out, fluoride's use in Soviet-era prison camps has a local
connection. During World War II, President Roosevelt supported the
Soviet Union with tons of military and industrial material. Called the
Lend-Lease program, it was aimed at helping defeat the German army at
Russia's front door. Cargo airlifted from the Lower 48 was staged in
Fairbanks at what is now Ft. Wainwright, where it was turned over to
Russian pilots for flights over the Bering Strait. Among the cargo
manifests are thousands of pounds of sodium fluoride.

It's not known what Bernays thought of using fluoride for prison
control. However, it's clear from the following passage that he
counted himself among the invisible elite:



The conscious and intelligent manipulation of the organized habits and
opinions of the masses is an important element in democratic society.
Those who manipulate this unseen mechanism of society constitute an
invisible government which is the true ruling power of our country.
[Propaganda, reissued in 2004 by Ig Publishing]


For his success with fluoride, and earlier work for pork producers
("bacon and eggs for breakfast") and cigarettes ("torches of
liberty"), Bernays is considered the father of the public relations

In many parts of the world, Bernays' fluoride spin has been rejected.
New science about how it alters body chemistry as well as a growing
number of studies that show dental health in communities with fluoride
fares no better than those without it, have canceled earlier support.
Such was the justification offered by Zurich, Switzerland officials
when fluoride was discontinued several years ago. Similar data has
caused fluoride to be banned in Japan, China, India, and most of
Europe. Fluoride's strongholds are the United States, Canada,
Australia, and New Zealand.

While fluoride proponents still have affiliates in national health
organizations, many have withdrawn support. Among the health advocates
opposing fluoride are: the American Academy of Allergy and Immunology,
the American Academy of Diabetes, the American Cancer Society, the
American Diabetes Association, the American Nurses Association, the
American Psychiatric Association, the National Kidney Foundation, and
the Society of Toxicology.

Some of the most effective anti-fluoride campaigners are former
supporters. Consider Hardy Limeback, BSc, PhD, DDS, head of the
Department of Preventive Dentistry for the University of Toronto and
president of the Canadian Association for Dental Research. In an April
1999 interview, Limeback, once a vocal advocate of the drug, stated,
"Children under three should never use fluoridated toothpaste or drink
fluoridated water. And baby formula must never be made up using
Toronto tap water. Never."

Seven years later, in 2006, the ADA, followed by the CDC, issued
advisories calling on mothers to stop using tap water to mix baby
formula. The ADA has also recently acknowledged that fluoride has no
value when used systemically, that its only effectiveness comes from
topical applications. Nevertheless, the federal health bureaucracy
calls fluoride a major advancement, apparently in denial about the
schizophrenic nature of its policies.

Adding further momentum to calls to end fluoridation, a study released
last year by the National Academies' National Research Council (NRC),
sponsored by the US Environmental Protection Agency, found that the
current maximum levels of fluoride allowed by the EPA in drinking
water should be lowered due to concerns over adverse health effects.
The current maximum contaminant level of fluoride is 4 mg/L. The NRC
found that these levels are too high and "not protective" of the

Numerous studies reviewed by the NRC report that fluoride is linked to
subclinical or malfunctioning thyroid glands. This is "associated with
increased cholesterol concentrations, increased incidence of
depression, diminished response to standard psychiatric treatment,
cognitive dysfunction, and in pregnant women, decreased IQ of their

The NRC study says that sources for internal fluoride exposure include
inhalation and dermal absorption. This means that when you bathe or
shower fluoride is entering your body via breathing and contact. The
NRC panel then examined numerous reports showing an association
between fluoride ingestion and a range of physical complaints that
included thyroid disorder, brittle bones, kidney failure, arthritis,
and cancer.

Some of the most telling science of fluoride's effects comes from the
work of Roger Masters, an emeritus researcher at Dartmouth College.
Masters directed research that found an insidious connection between
fluoride and lead. The study compared children's blood in communities
using fluoride-treated water with communities using nonfluoridated
water. Drawing from samples of more than 400,000 children, increased
blood lead levels were always associated with fluoride-treated water.
According to Masters, fluoride leaches lead from the water system's
pipes and fixtures.

In light of this work and other new data, the justification for using
fluoride in water systems evaporates. No one can rationally contend
that its benefit exceeds its cost. Who disputes the fact that chronic
lead poisoning lowers IQ and promotes criminal behavior? Yet in the
presence of fluoridated water, small amounts of lead are are disabling
generations of Americans.

The evidence continues to mount against fluoride. This month
Scientific American magazine carries a major article that assembles
much of the data in one place. "Scientific attitudes toward
fluoridation may be starting to shift," writes author Dan Fagin.

Fagin, the Director of New York University's Science, Health and
Environmental Reporting Program, says, "There is no universally
accepted optimal level for daily intake of fluoride." Fagin reports
that some researchers wonder whether the 1 mg/L (250 times more
fluoride than breast milk) added to drinking water is too much.

Fagin's Scientific American article highlights total consumption
because fluoride is also found in foods, beverages, medicines, and
dental products. With fluoride coming from a variety of sources,
experts fear we are overdosing ourselves. Fluoride overconsumption is
visible first in children as dental fluorosis -- white-spotted,
yellow, brown and/or pitted teeth. This is a sign of too much
fluoride. Depending on location, estimates of childhood fluorosis in
the US range between 30 to 80 percent.

Before class-action lawsuits are filed, before the weight of science
crushes the bureaucracy, let's take heed of the accumulated facts and
make the necessary adjustments. Even if it's sixty years late, the
precautionary principle remains a valid guide. Further damage will end
with a moratorium on fluoride.

Douglas Yates is a writer and photographer with a keen interest in
water. He lives in Ester, Alaska.

More on fluoride:


"Second Thoughts about Fluoride," by Dan Fagin. Scientific American,
January 2008

"Water Fluoridation: A Review of Recent Research and Actions," by Joel
M. Kauffman, PhD. Journal of Am. Physicians and Surgeons, Summer 2005
(10:2:38). Available on line as a pdf at www.jpands.org/vol10

"Fluoride water 'causes cancer'," by Bob Woffinden. The Observer,
Sunday, June 12, 2005. Available on line at http://observ

"Juneau, stop adding fluoride to water," guest opinion by David
Ottoson, Juneau businessman. Juneau Empire, September 11, 2006.
Available on line at www.juneauempire.com/stories/091106/op

City and Borough of Juneau public analysis of fluoride, available on
line at www.juneau.org/clerk/boards/Fluoride/Fluoride_Stu

First published by The Ester Republic, January 2008

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From: BCLocalNews (Victoria, British Columbia), Feb. 9, 2008
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By Roy Strang

HD Genetic modification leaves plants vulnerable to disease

Once upon a time (no, this is not a fairy tale!) the car manufacturer
General Motors was happy to claim that "What is good for GM is good
for U.S." Now that all of the big three North American car makers face
strong competition from across the Pacific, that aphorism has lost its
sting. A different GM has come into being and, just as that first
assertion was flawed, the second, which means 'Genetically Modified',
is far from being an unmixed blessing.

So long as GM scientists and practitioners use their sophisticated
technologies to advance the time-honoured work of plant and animal
breeders, it can be beneficial. Through careful observation, parent
selection and crossing we've come a long way from the original low-
yield barley and wheat of the Fertile Crescent some 20,000 years ago.
Many of the garden flowers we nurture and cherish today are the result
of careful and thoughtful crossings.

Farm food crops selected to withstand drought or grow in soils with
high sodium content are undoubtedly beneficial. Similarly, selective
and thoughtful breeding over decades -- if not centuries -- has given us
today's pets and farm stock.

Sadly, dangerously, genetic scientists have gone far beyond emulating
or hastening natural processes of development. Employed by major agro-
chemical firms, they are developing sterile plants so that the
historical practice of retaining seed from a harvest for next year's
planting is useless, and farmers have to purchase new seeds each year
from these companies which have cornered the market; remember prairie
farmer Percy Schmeiser's losing battle with Monsanto? Herbicide-
resistant crop plants facilitate chemical weeding, but they are

In other words, this is monoculture carried to an extreme with all its
attendant risks, though it does create a market for the herbicides
produced and promoted by agri-business.

It is well established that insects can, and do, develop resistance to
artificial insecticides. Accordingly, the natural bacillus toxin, Bt,
is being used more and more. Formerly it was applied as a spray, now
it is being inserted into plant's genetic structure. It seems
inevitable that, with its widespread use, insects will develop
immunity or resistance to Bt and so we shall be deprived of what was
once a safe, effective plant protection tool.

As plants become more closely bred and specialized with an
increasingly narrow gene base, they will become increasingly
vulnerable to disease and, should this happen as in the Irish potato
blight, disastrous harvest losses will be inevitable.

Also, we are in real danger of losing genetic information stored in
the variety of plant strains which are being discarded as low-yielding
or otherwise unsuitable for modern mechanized farming.

Another area of concern is the absence of long-term examination of the
health effects of 'artificial' plants. As things stand in Canada and
the U.S., the precautionary principle has been abandoned and GM crops
can be marketed as long as the producing company asserts there is no
harm. As scientists are not looking for harm, none is being found.

Another problem is that it is becoming harder and harder for a grower
to retain organic certification since, increasingly, crop plants are
being genetically modified, so growers cannot easily claim to be GM
free, which is essential for certification.

In moves suggestive of horror films or science fiction, genetic
scientists are now trying to mix animal and plant genes.

Their rationale seems to be "let's try this new avenue," and the
cautionary question "should we be doing this?" is muted, or even

While we must be wary of telling corporations how they spend their
money, is there a point when the community should say "this has gone
as far as it should?" Certainly shareholders are in a position to ask
for answers, and the electorate can call a government to account if
public funds are allocated to questionable research.

Dr. Roy Strang writes weekly on the environment for the Peace Arch
News. westerlea@shaw.ca

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From: Efytimes, Feb. 13, 2008
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By Prasoon Srivastava

Reacting to the news Nokia Caught Red-Handed In Green Fight -- which
claimed Nokia representatives in the Philippines, Thailand, Argentina,
Russia and India were not informed about their companies' own
programmes and, in many cases, provided misleading information --
Nokia has sworn to make these corrections in the shortest possible

In its comment sent to EFY News, the company highlighted its
achievement in the Greenpeace ranking guide as responsible producer
but also accepted the gap detected by Greenpeace in its takeback and
recycling programme.

"Nokia takes environmental issues seriously and in today's rankings,
Greenpeace gives us top marks for acknowledging our responsibility as
a producer. However, they have also identified some gaps in our
takeback and recycling programme, and we plan to take immediate action
in these areas," said an official spokesperson from Nokia.

Nokia in the last issue of Greenpeace International 'Guide to Greener
Electronics' achieved top position in the list of green companies. In
the latest Greenpeace report, however, Nokia has lost its leadership.
But it has also been praised for it precautionary principle, chemicals
management, timeline for PVC (Poly vinyl chloride) and BFR phaseout
and individual producer responsibility.

Nokia said the company has collection points for used mobiles and
accessories in 85 countries across the world. The spokesperson
acknowledged that Greenpeace contacted some of these collection points
and identified gaps in the service and information available.

"This is valuable feedback, and we will conduct our own audit to
assess standards. We are committed to ensuring that our staff in Nokia
service centres is properly trained on this issue and that information
is easily available for consumers," said Nokia spokesperson.

Greenpeace has welcomed the response from Nokia and demanded that it
implements its policy in a user-friendly manner.

"Nokia should not only improve their policy but also implement their
programme in easy and practical manner for users. We also expect Nokia
to support extended producer responsibility in India," said Ramapati
Kumar, toxics campaigner, Greenpeace India.

Copyright 2007

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From: Epoch Times (New York City), Feb. 6, 2008
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By Sharda Vaidyanath, Epoch Times Parliament Hill

A partnership between politics and science in an effort to clean up
Canadian waters is gaining momentum in the new session of Parliament.

Chris Metcalfe, a professor in Environmental and Resource Studies at
Trent University, brought cutting edge science to explain the effects
of "subtle contaminants" such as pharmaceuticals and personal care
products (PPCPs) to Parliament Hill on Tuesday.

PPCPs include prescription and over-the-counter therapeutic drugs,
veterinary drugs, fragrances, cosmetics, sun-screen products,
diagnostic agents and nutraceuticals such as vitamins.

PPCPs find their way into water and soil through excretion residues
from pharmaceutical manufacturing and hospitals, illicit drug use and
veterinary drugs used in agribusiness, especially antibiotics and

"The source is us," says Metcalfe.

Just back from a workshop in the United Kingdom, Metcalfe says his
European colleagues "are quite shocked at how little of the advanced
waste water management technology is used in Canada."

Advanced scientific technology to identify these toxins began in
Europe about a dozen years ago but in Canada it has only been in
existence since 2001.

Because of under-funding, many municipalities still have only basic or
primary water treatment facilities, and the latest technology to
detect PPCPs doesn't come cheap.

Metcalfe leads Trent University's state-of-the-art microenvironment
laboratory that will use new technology to develop more effective
environmental management plans related to energy development, water
protection, transportation and community health.

It is the most sophisticated scientific equipment in North America
with a price tag of about half a million dollars, says Metcalfe, who
has done testing for municipalities in Alberta and Waterloo.

"We're certainly at an advantage because our source water, the Ottawa
River, has a huge watershed upstream of us with very, very little
population or discharges in it. From that point of view, this isn't
one of the rivers that is expected to have significant compounds in
it," said Dixon Weir, director of Water and Waste Water Service for
the City of Ottawa.

However, Weir adds, "we're in a fact-finding, fact-gathering
exercise," and in 2008, the city will be going forward with a sampling
program to test for PPCPs at a cost of $20,000 for eight water

Politicians have been talking about the plight of Canada's waters for
a long time and last week Liberal MP Paul Steckle reminded the House
that the health of the Great Lakes, a source of fresh water for
industry, residents, commercial fishery and tourist trade, has been

"Water levels are down and bacteria levels are up. Beaches are closed
during summer and invasive species are ravaging the ecosystem," said

Bloc Quebecois MP Guy Andre told the House about a private member's
bill which aims to amend the Canadian Environmental Protection Act "to
prohibit the manufacturing, sale or import into Canada of dishwashing
or laundry detergents that contain phosphorous."

Andre said the presence of phosphorus has caused widespread
cyanobacteria, also known as blue-green algae, which poses a public
health risk "as potential irritants, allergens and toxins."

In Quebec, the situation is worsening with each passing year, said
Andre. "This phenomenon affected 50 lakes in 2005, 107 in 2006, and
nearly 200 in 2007."

Synthetic hormones such as estrogen, thyroid replacement pills, blood
lipid regulators and anti-depressants have all been detected in
surface and ground water.

A U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) website says PPCPs are
bioactive chemicals or substances that have an effect on living

And while certain drugs and chemicals can cause ecological harm, the
EPA says there's no evidence of adverse human health effects from
PPCPs in the environment.

However, the Health Canada website says "Complex mixtures of chemicals
in drinking water and recycled water could have additive, synergistic
or even antagonistic effects, even when concentrations of the
individual chemicals are very low or comply with water quality
guideline values."

"This is where things get a little sticky," says Metcalfe. "A lot of
research on risk assessment and levels in drinking water is just being
done." However, the "precautionary principle suggests we must do
everything we can to reduce these chemicals in drinking water."

Metcalfe says 60 percent of waste water sludge is dumped onto
agricultural lands. "I get a lot of phone calls about that from
concerned citizens."

Buying bottled water isn't the solution and in many cases the water
quality may be worse than tap water, he says, adding that paying more
taxes to upgrade water treatment facilities is a greater return on

Protecting water quality at the source rather than at the distribution
end would avoid incidents such as the E. coli outbreak in Walkerton in
2000 when nearly half the city's population fell ill and several
people died, says Metcalfe.

As for the cosmetic industry, thanks author Paula Begoun's pioneering
work in the 1990s, organic cosmetics using less harmful ingredients
are becoming increasingly popular. In Don't Go to the Cosmetics
Counter Without Me, Begoun exposed the chemicals used in cosmetics and
their inflated claims and prices.

Metcalfe recommends using "green label" household products and
returning unused or outdated drugs to pharmacists as part of the
solution to cleaning up our water.

Ontario passed its Clean Water Act last year and currently the
Canadian Council of Environmental Ministers is in the consultation
process and will be producing a report to help both federal and
provincial governments with better legislation.

Canada's regulatory approach is moving in lockstep with the U.S. says

Copyright (c) 2000 -- 2008 The Epoch USA, Inc.

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From: The Telegraph (London, U.K.), Feb. 10, 2008
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By Sebastien Berger in Gansbaai, South Africa

Tourists who flock in their thousands to watch sharks off South
Africa's Cape have been warned that they might be cost lives by
attracting the predators closer to the shore.

Some believe that the tourist trips are altering the nature of the
sharks' attitude to humans

Every year about 50,000 people travel to Gansbaai for a close
encounter with the area's great whites, drawn in by the presence of a
huge colony of Cape fur seals, and each day boats set out to sea to
give tourists a closer look.Dangling bags of "chum" -- usually mashed
fish -- a scent trail is created, and pieces of tuna on a line are
used to draw the sharks towards divers in a cage on the side of the

When a great white shark rams the cage, inches away from a diver's
face, the adrenaline immediately blots out the cold of the southern
seas. But while the visitors are safe, others believe the practice is
inherently risky.

In recent years six people have been attacked by sharks in the waters
off the Cape annually, with on average one person killed.

Craig Bovim, who survived a great white attack five years ago, said
that the precautionary principle should apply. "It's common sense that
people shouldn't be baiting and teasing a very dangerous animal in
proximity to humans," he said. "If there's any doubt that we're
influencing the behaviour of the apex predator of our oceans then we
should not interfere with it at all."

advertisementMr Bovim, 40, was diving for lobster off Scarborough,
near Cape Town, when he was "surprised by a very large animal". He
said: "It bit me on both my forearms and was swimming slowly out to
sea with me being held under water. I was drowning at the same time."

With death imminent, he headbutted and kneed the shark until it
released him, and he struggled back to shore. "There was no fear, it
was very calm," he said. But he added: "It was a very close call. I
lost a lot of blood."

Shark spotters have since been employed at a number of beaches. Yvonne
Kamp, who co-ordinates the spotters, said that while anecdotal
evidence of sharks coming close to shore was increasing, that could be
due to more people in the water and greater awareness.

There was no evidence that shark-spotting was responsible, she said.

The boat operators themselves insist there is no way their practices
can train sharks to see people as food. Brian McFarlane, 59, who owns
Great White Shark Tours, said: "Any time a surfer or diver has been
attacked they like to point a finger at us. Yes, somebody will get
bitten in the next month or two months or six months, possibly even

"The shark is hunting for a seal or a turtle or dolphin and attacks
this moving object which may happen to be a human.

"More than likely he will spit him out because he will realise he's
made a mistake because humans are not in his food chain."

Great whites are solitary creatures that can swim vast distances.
There are no reliable estimates of their numbers, but it is listed as
vulnerable on the World Conservation Union Red List of endangered

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From: Reason Magazine, Jan. 3, 2005
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From Guantanamo to "Camp 6"?

By Julian Sanchez

In a meadow near Windsor one fine day in 1215, King John, under
pressure from disgruntled nobles, affixed his royal seal to the Magna
Carta, clause 39 of which provided:

"No free man shall be taken or imprisoned or disseised or outlawed or
exiled or in any way destroyed, nor will we go or send against him,
except by the lawful judgment of his peers or by the law of the land."

The War on Terror is often framed as a clash between western champions
of modernity and the medieval mindset of Salafis. Yet these days our
own commitment to even medieval guarantees of due process often seems,
at best, half-hearted. As The Washington Post reported on Sunday
[Jan. 2, 2005], the Pentagon and CIA are developing "long term
solutions" for terror suspects held at Guantanamo Bay and various CIA
facilities whom the government intends neither to release nor, due to
lack of evidence, to try in court. Proposals include the construction
of "Camp 6" (a belated sequel, perhaps, to Slaughterhouse Five), a $25
million prison to house 200 people. Indefinitely.

Sen. Richard Lugar (R-Ind.), who chairs the Senate Foreign Relations
committee, has already distanced himself from the idea, agreeing
with Sen. Carl Levin (D-Mich.) that "some modicum of due process" is
required before even foreigners are imprisoned for life. Yet with
details still maddeningly vague at this stage, nobody seems entirely
sure yet just what makes a modicum.

The Supreme Court's ruling in Rasul v. Bush this summer established
that detainees at Guantanamo's Camp X-Ray have a right to some sort of
review of their designation as enemy combatants. Most of the 550
prisoners (a term the administration continues to reject --
please) still held at Guantanamo have since been affording such a
hearing. Two have been recommended for release. This indicates either
that the military did a remarkably good job of filtering when, prior
to the Court's decision, it released some 200 prisoners deemed of
little intelligence value, or that these "combatant status review
tribunals" have a distinctly marsupial character. In November,
Washington, D.C., Disctrict Court Judge James Robertson ordered a
halt to the trial by tribunal of Salim Ahmed Hamdn, alleged to be
Osama bin Laden's chauffeur, repudiating "the government's argument
that the President has untrammeled power to establish military
tribunals," and some 50 other detainees have filed challenges to the
review process, alleging that it fails to provide due process.

Civil rights attorney Harvey Silverglate, who writes about the
rights of detainees in a January reason cover story, suspects the
government may attempt to sidestep the controversy by "plunging into
one of the glaring loopholes in the Supreme Court's decision. The
Court's ruling in Rasul turned on its finding that, despite being
located on Cuban soil, Camp X-Ray is de facto under the "complete
jurisdiction and control" of the United States. That leaves open the
possibility, says Silverglate, that a U.S.-sponsored prison on foreign
soil, over which another government exercised greater nominal control,
might escape such scrutiny. And if the 9/11 Recommendations
Implementation Act, passed by the House of Representatives this fall,
is any indication, legislators are eager to make it easier for the
Director of Homeland Security to render aliens into the hands of
foreign governments, whether or not they have any connection to the
country to which they're being sent.

As the debate over the fate of the detainees -- or as much of the
is allowed to be aired in public -- heats up, many will doubtless be
impatient with such dainty regard for the civil rights of a group
which surely contains very many vicious thugs, none of whom had the
good sense to be born American. We are, as the saying goes, at
war -- grappling with monsters. And sometimes mercy drops not like a
gentle rain but a hailstorm: As of late December, a dozen of the
roughly 200 Guantanamo detainees released were known to have
returned -- or at least turned -- to the fight against the U.S.

Lives are at stake in the War on Terror, of course. But lives are
always at stake. When we release murder suspects whose guilt cannot be
proved beyond a reasonable doubt, we implicitly commit ourselves to
living among people we imagine are quite likely killers. If all that
mattered were minimizing the risk to life, why not adopt for murder
trials the "preponderance of the evidence" standard used in civil
cases, or even the "precautionary principle" urged by

We decided long ago, at least when it comes to domestic justice, that
there are abysses into which a free society will not stare, even at
the cost of assuming significant risk. But when those same risks
come clothed in the words war and terror, we become suddenly timorous,
fearful of holding ourselves to even dramatically watered down
evidentiary standards lest we release one guilty man along with 10

We are at war. But even wars have rules, and even prisoners of war are
supposed to be tried for war crimes or, at war's end, released. The
rules are trickier now: Absent the prospect of signing a treaty for
cessation of hostilities with a denationalized radical ummah, the war
isn't over until we say so. For practical purposes, if the government
has its way, that will mean we assume the power to watch men, so long
as they're foreigners, grow old and die in a cage, either here or
abroad, without affording them even the mildest presumption of
innocence. If we genuinely believe that freedom is "God Almighty's
gift to each and every person in the world," we must step back from
that abyss.

Copyright 2008 Reason Magazine.

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