Politics

All Kinds of Sickening

Congress grills FEMA on toxic post-hurricane trailers The media have reported for at least two months that the trailers used to house refugees from hurricanes Katrina and Rita have been giving off fumes that are making some people sick. Now it seems the Federal Emergency Management Agency, which has fended off those accusations, has known about the toxic trouble since early 2006. The House Oversight and Government Reform committee subpoenaed FEMA records that recommend not testing for toxics, as that “would imply FEMA’s ownership of the issue.” At a hearing yesterday, legislators tore into FEMA head R. David Paulison, with …

Details on Dingell's carbon tax

It’s not optimal, but he says he’s serious about it at least

As you’ll recall, a few weeks ago Rep. John Dingell said in an interview that he plans to introduce a carbon tax bill, "to see how people really feel about this." He expressed doubt that the American people are willing to pay what it will cost. Reaction from progressives was swift and vicious. Everyone assumed Dingell would deliberately design a horrible bill, fail to support it, watch it go down in flames, and thereby poison the debate. See, e.g., this unsigned L.A. Times editorial. Now there’s a little bit of information about the bill emerging. Seems the Detroit Free Press …

Mystery ads

There’s a series of very strange political videos out recently on YouTube. They parody Republicans, but purport to be campaign ads for Rudy Giuliani. Nobody knows who’s making them, or why. So mysterious! This one’s mildly amusing on global warming and oil: (h/t: reader KW)

To the rescue!

A new group called The Elders to solve globe’s problems

Singer Peter Gabriel and industry titan Richard Branson conceived, and have now convened and funded, a group called The Elders, a small collection of eminent global statesmenpersons who, it is hoped, will be able to … um … be wise and stuff. And also use their superpowers to solve pressing global problems like climate change and poverty and reality tv. Meet your elders! The members include Desmond Tutu, South African archbishop emeritus of Capetown; former U.S. President Jimmy Carter; former U.N. Secretary General Kofi Annan; Mary Robinson, former president of Ireland and Mohammed Yunus, the Nobel laureate and founder of …

The 'crime' of dialogue: Iran's disgraceful detention of Haleh Esfandiari

Environmental peacekeeping runs into authoritarianism

My friend and colleague is in jail. Unjustly. Her name is Haleh Esfandiari, and she is a grandmother. In early May, she was thrust into solitary confinement in Iran's Evin Prison with a single blanket. She hasn't been allowed to meet with her friends, family, or lawyers since then. This picture shows Evin Prison nestled within the leafy northern suburbs of Tehran at the foot of snowcapped mountains, but the prison has none of the bucolic qualities that the image suggests. "Notorious" is the ubiquitous descriptor. Haleh's "crime" is doing what we do every day here at the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars in Washington, D.C.: provide a safe space where scholars, policy-makers, and ordinary men and women can learn from one another through open, nonpartisan dialogue on today's most pressing issues. Or at least we thought it was safe.

Use the Task Force, Dick

Members of mysterious energy task force finally revealed You might want to sit down for this: the Bush administration’s national energy policy was heavily influenced by Big Industry. Shocking, we know. In 2001, a task force headed by Vice President Dick Cheney met with various entities to discuss energy policy; since then, the administration has battled to keep from saying who was involved. Finally, The Washington Post has acquired the names of some 300 interest groups and individuals who gave input, including electric utilities, natural-resource trade groups, and about 20 oil and gas companies. Green groups were lumped together into …