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Bush admin move may keep Kerry and other candidates from stumping on federal property

John Kerry at the Grand Canyon. Photo: Kerry-Edwards 2004, Inc. from Sharon Farmer. The Statue of Liberty, Mount Rushmore, NASA headquarters, and the Washington Monument are among the many federal properties that may be off-limits to presidential and congressional candidates for campaign photo ops this election season, thanks to a guidance recently released by the Bush administration's U.S. Office of Special Counsel. The OSC is an independent federal agency that investigates and prosecutes issues ranging from whistleblower complaints to concerns that federal employees are participating in campaign activities prohibited by the Hatch Act, which defines election-related political no-no's for people …

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Malign Neglect

Republican Leaders at Odds Over Nuclear Worker Compensation Program The Bush administration is clashing with Republicans in Congress over a compensation program for workers at nuclear facilities sickened by exposure to radiation, asbestos, and other toxic substances. As of July, the Energy Department had paid out only $700,000 of the $95 million it has received since the program was created, to only 31 of the roughly 25,000 claims filed. The sick workers are, naturally, upset. Senate Republicans have ushered through an amendment to a defense bill that would overhaul the program, putting responsibility for compensation directly with the Labor Department …

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Sultans of Swing

Environmental Issues May Matter After All, Via Swing States Conventional wisdom has it that environmental issues are low priorities for most voters, and thus for most presidential campaigns. However, this year's squeaker of a presidential election will be decided by voters in a small handful of swing states -- and in many of those states, top local issues are environmental. In Nevada, Kerry trumpets his opposition to the Yucca Mountain nuclear-waste repository. In Oregon, Bush touts his support for Columbia River dredging. In Michigan, Bush bashes Kerry for supporting higher fuel-economy standards. In New Mexico, Kerry blasts Bush for opening …

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By Any Greens Necessary

Enviro Justice Center Works to Link Green and Civil-Rights Movements Environmental degradation often falls hardest on poor and minority communities, but these communities can have difficulty organizing to fight for environmental justice, and they've received too little help from a mainstream environmental movement perceived as a white, middle- and upper-class affair. Sociology professor Robert Bullard started the Environmental Justice Resource Center in Atlanta to connect the groups. It started with a battle against MARTA, Atlanta's public transit agency, to replace the polluting diesel buses serving poor and black communities with cleaner models. In the decade since, the center has served …

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Good Times, Good Times

Federal Report on Global Warming Produces Beltway Drama When The New York Times reported yesterday on a new Bush administration report to Congress which acknowledged the human causes of global warming, characterizing it as an abrupt shift in policy, some Beltway wags speculated that the newspaper was trying to box the administration in and embarrass it. Today brought evidence in support of such speculation. The Times ran an editorial calling the report "tardy acceptance of what mainstream scientists have been saying for years." Meanwhile, in an interview with the paper, when asked why the administration had changed its position, Bush …

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Classified Adds

As Feds Classify More Info, Environment Could Be Affected Since 9/11, the Bush administration has upped secrecy at a growing number of agencies, all in the name of fighting terrorism. Much of the information newly deemed sensitive has direct implications for the environment and public health. The Nuclear Regulatory Commission will no longer make safety scorecards for nuclear facilities public. Homeland Security Secretary Tom Ridge has said he is considering removing hazardous-waste signs from trucks and trains, lest they tip off shadowy evildoers. A highway bill now in congressional committee would allow the government to withhold information "detrimental to the …

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Smears of a Clown

Auto Industry-Backed PR Firm Claims California Emissions Regs Will Kill A new ad campaign by the Sport Utility Vehicle Owners of America uses "Squeezy the Clown" to warn that proposed carbon-dioxide emissions regulations in California would force automakers to (gasp!) build smaller cars, which in turn will lead to increased traffic fatalities. (You see, they argue, the regs would force people to squeeze into smaller cars. Like clowns. Funny!) Though the group's name implies a grassroots citizens' effort, in fact SUVOA was bought two years ago by Strat@comm, a Washington, D.C., PR firm with extensive ties to big automakers. Critics …

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Dismission: Impossible

New U.S. Government Report Acknowledges Human-Caused Climate Change President Bush famously dismissed a 2002 U.S. government report that acknowledged the human causes of climate change as something "put out by the bureaucracy." Well, it looks like the bureaucracy's at it again: A new administration report to Congress indicates that human production of heat-trapping greenhouse gases is likely behind the rapid climate change of the past three decades. According to James R. Mahoney, director of government climate research, the report reflects "the best possible scientific information" on climate change. The White House, which has regularly followed the lead of industry groups …

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Mainstream green groups opt out of GOP convention protests

Image: Indymedia.org. New York City expects protests at next week's Republican National Convention to be the most widespread and strident to hit any political convention since Chicago in 1968, when the Democrats nominated Hubert H. Humphrey over Eugene McCarthy at the height of Vietnam furor, and chaos stole the political spotlight. Already GOP spinners have begun framing the anticipated demonstrations as authorized by the Kerry campaign and evidence of the Democratic Party's "radical" underpinnings. Already, too, the GOP and the media are naming environmentalists as one faction likely to be among the most vociferous protesters. On Sunday, Adam Nagourney of …

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Circuit Boards Roasting on an Open Fire

Dumped Electronics Poisoning Poor in Asia Computers and other electronics discarded in the West frequently end up in poor villages in China and India, where they are stripped for residues of valuable metals in primitive procedures that poison local communities. Enviro activists report that Chinese villagers cook circuit boards over open charcoal burners to strip chips, capacitors, and condensers, burn off PVC casing from wires, and dip the components in vats of warm acid to recover traces of precious metals. Needless to say, breathing molten lead and PVC fumes and working with acid have no salutary effect on the health …

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