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NYC cops crack down on bike event; media misunderstands it

Critical Mass, the monthly parade/protest/ride/celebration/cycling phenomenon has for years been billed as "bicycling's defiant celebration," but recently in NYC, it's been getting more defiant and less celebratory. Ever since last year's truly huge Critical Mass ride during the Republican National Convention -- which attracted thousands and thousands of cyclists and worldwide media attention -- snarled traffic and resulted in 250 arrests and scores of bicycle seizures, NYC cops have been increasingly arrest-happy at NYC Critical Mass events, throwing over 500 cyclists in the slammer in just one year. At issue (aside from the flaws of the whole government apparatus and …

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America’s Coast Wanted

House bill would open coasts, other areas to drilling Recent hurricane-related disruptions to Gulf Coast oil infrastructure may get the oil industry something it's been after for years: a chance to drill off the U.S. coasts. Legislation sponsored by Rep. Richard Pombo (R-Calif.) and approved last week by the House Resources Committee he chairs would permit individual states to opt out of the current moratorium on offshore drilling in exchange for financial incentives. Coast conservation advocates fear Pombo has hit on an effective strategy to divide the states and dissolve the national moratorium on offshore drilling -- which could put …

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He’s Got His Head up His Act

House passes Pombo bill to overhaul Endangered Species Act On Thursday, the House of Representatives passed a bill that would overhaul -- critics say gut -- the Endangered Species Act. The legislation, sponsored by Rep. Richard Pombo (R-Calif.), passed on a 229 to 193 vote that didn't break down along traditional party lines: 34 Republicans (largely East Coast and Midwest moderates) rejected it, while 36 Democrats (many from the rural West and South) supported it. Pombo's bill -- the culmination of his 12-year drive to gut the ESA -- includes mandated federal payments to private landowners if the presence of …

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Next Up: Jerry Bruckheimer on Defense Policy

Novelist Michael Crichton testifies before Senate on climate change As part of his ongoing attempts to defy parody, Senate Environment Committee chair James Inhofe (R-Okla.) convened a hearing yesterday on climate science, featuring as an "expert" witness ... a novelist. Yup, it was Michael Crichton, whose latest thriller State of Fear casts global warming as a sinister environmentalist conspiracy. Inhofe, who has called warming "the greatest hoax ever perpetrated on the American people," gushed that he was "excited about this hearing," that he had "read most of [Crichton's] books," and that "Dr. Crichton's science background has served him well." (Crichton …

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You’ve Got Gale

Interior Secretary urges more energy extraction on public lands According to Interior Secretary Gale Norton, the current vicious hurricane season has taught the Bush administration a lesson, namely: Keep doing the same stuff. She says that Katrina and Rita show the folly of concentrating the nation's fossil-fuel infrastructure in one geographic area, and that the solution is reducing our dependence on fossil fuels. No, we kid! The solution, she told The New York Times, is to continue pushing to open more public lands -- like the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge and coastal waters -- to energy development. She also expressed …

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Re-Pete Performance

Endangered Species Act coauthor wants to oust fellow Republican Pombo Former Rep. Pete McCloskey (R-Calif.), coauthor of the 1973 Endangered Species Act, is considering a 2006 primary-election run against the man who wants to kill it: Rep. Richard Pombo (R-Calif.). McCloskey, who served in the House from 1967 to 1983, has denounced Pombo's proposed rewrite (read: weakening) of the keystone environmental law, currently fast-tracked for a House vote. He accuses Pombo of losing touch with his Republican roots and kowtowing to his campaign contributors rather than representing his constituents. The septuagenarian moderate says he'll move to California's 11th congressional district …

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Taking It All Offset

House GOPers want to cut enviro and other programs to pay for rebuilding Rebuilding the Gulf Coast after Hurricanes Katrina and Rita is expected to run the feds around $200 billion. A group of House Republicans called the Republican Study Committee has unveiled an "Operation Offset" plan with proposed budget cuts to pay for the massive expenditure. While this nostalgic exercise in fiscal discipline -- what used to be called "conservatism" -- has no chance of being enacted by today's pork-happy, deficit-lovin' congressional leadership, it is a revealing look into the bowels of the Republican agenda. Programs up for evisceration …

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An interview with Chris Mooney, author of The Republican War on Science

Chris Mooney. Photo: Perseus Books. For some five years, Chris Mooney has been writing about the delicate overlap of science and public policy. As a correspondent for The American Prospect and Seed, a blogger, and a freelance journalist, he's carved out what you might think would be a modest, out-of-the-way niche of political punditry. Turns out, Mooney's metier has placed him at the eye of a kind of political perfect storm: This past year, he's become something of a pundit rock star. He's even ascended the Mount Olympus of hip relevance: The Daily Show. Why? The Bush administration has come …

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Dopey’s Choice

Pombo proposes selling off parks to make point about Arctic Refuge A draft bill being circulated by Rep. Richard Pombo (R-Calif.), chair of the House Resources Committee, advocates selling 15 national preserves, historic sites, and monuments to help shrink the federal budget deficit. The proposal also recommends selling ads on National Park Service brochures and maps, finding private sponsors for Park Service trails and museums, and leasing oil and gas rights on the outer continental shelf. Pombo's committee staff estimates the sell-offs would raise about $2.4 billion over five years -- which, not at all coincidentally, is what the Congressional …

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Dispatches from Arctic Refuge Action Day

A family sends firsthand accounts from the rally

In a massive grassroots campaign to save the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge, thousands of citizen lobbyists descended upon the U.S. Capitol yesterday to protest drilling plans and lobby Congress before a pivotal vote this fall. The Arctic Refuge Action Day events were coordinated by a number of major environmental groups, grassroots organizers, and volunteer "bus captains" who drove protestors from as far as Oregon and Alaska to Washington, D.C. Grist was lucky enough to catch up with one such vanful: Brad and Alicia Black and their two tot-sized greens. Brad and Alicia, both teachers, dropped everything to begin their journey …

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