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Shark Tale

U.S. proposes international rules to curb shark killing Those Americans who despair in thinking their country a laggard on so many international environmental issues can take heart -- at least the U.S. is firmly against shark finning. Yesterday, at a conservation meeting being hosted in New Orleans, the U.S. government proposed sweeping international measures to curtail the killing of sharks in the Atlantic Ocean, including a complete ban on the practice of chopping off sharks' fins and tossing the rest of the creature back into the sea. Shark fins are highly sought-after delicacies in some Asian countries, where they're the …

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Hot Oil Treatment

China's wide-ranging quest for oil may bring about clashes with U.S. China is desperate for oil to fuel its booming economy, and it's got plenty of cash to pay for it and few of the humanitarian scruples that still (occasionally) restrain the U.S. Some analysts worry that these circumstances will lead to conflict between the two nations. Most alarmingly, China recently cut a $70 billion deal with Iran that many observers believe involved a tacit pledge of support for the Islamic republic's budding nuclear program, which the U.S. has harshly denounced. China is also pouring money into Sudan, a country …

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The McCain Mutiny

McCain criticizes Bush admin over climate change -- again Though Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) backed President Bush's reelection campaign, yesterday he reiterated his charge that the Bush administration is in the wrong on the issue of climate change, calling its stance "terribly disappointing." Today, McCain will convene a Senate hearing on rapid warming in the Arctic, with hopes that it will also drum up support for the McCain-Lieberman Climate Stewardship Act, which would impose a modest cap on greenhouse-gas emissions. Though a larger Republican majority in Congress next year will likely decrease support for the bill, McCain sees climate change …

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Julie Sze, enviro-justice advocate and professor, answers questions

What work do you do? I'm an assistant professor in American Studies at the University of California at Davis. How does it relate to the environment? My research and teaching interests are in environmental justice, race and science, the politics of the urban environment, health and risk, social movements, and community activism. What do you really do, on a day-to-day basis? I do a combination of teaching, research, and writing. My current class is called "Environmental Justice" and it looks at the topic from interdisciplinary perspectives, including historical, sociological, and cultural/literary approaches. I'm working on turning my research into articles, …

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What Would Jesus Ride?

Raging Cyclists push for bike-friendly reforms in Santiago Inspired by Critical Mass, the cycling activist group formed in San Francisco in 1992, the Furiosos Ciclistas -- or Raging Cyclists -- of Santiago, Chile, are inspiring real reform in that polluted city. The group is one of more than 200 inspired by Critical Mass in cities across the world. Santiago is one of the most polluted cities in the world, with frequent air-quality alerts, but bike usage is on the rise: Some 5 percent of residents now use bikes as their primary means of transport. Founded in 1996 and spread mostly …

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Bela-ruse

Poor Belarusians returning to areas contaminated by Chernobyl It's been 18 years since the Chernobyl nuclear reactor in the Ukraine exploded and spewed forth a cloud of radiation that contaminated some 22 percent of neighboring Belarus. Now many poor Belarusian residents are returning to normal life there, foraging for mushrooms and planting crops in areas that critics say remain contaminated. Yuri Kuzmich, head of Belarus' Chernobyl exclusion and monitoring zone, offers this benign explanation: "The passage of time and economic necessity take their toll. Human memory is short." Critics, however, accuse the government of Belarus President Alexander Lukashenko of deliberately …

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Welcome to the Measure Dome

Oregon voters lash out against land-use planning For more than three decades, Oregon's comprehensive anti-sprawl land-use planning rules have funneled development into urban cores and preserved vast swaths of land covered by farms and forests. Sixty percent of Oregon voters apparently found this state of affairs intolerable. On Nov. 2, despite opposition from current and former governors and state officials from both major parties, labor unions, enviro groups, farm bureaus, and utilities, they approved Measure 37 by a 20 percent margin. The measure takes Oregon further than any other state in protecting individual property rights, requiring full compensation for any …

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Kvetch Hetchy

Schwarzenegger admin will consider undamming Hetch Hetchy To the surprise of, well, just about everybody, California Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger's (R) resources secretary announced yesterday that he will pull together a thorough assessment of a project once considered entirely fanciful: tearing down O'Shaughnessy Dam and restoring Yosemite National Park's Hetch Hetchy Valley. As attractive as the idea sounds to nature lovers -- Hetch Hetchy is considered the equal of neighboring Yosemite Valley and could potentially divert some of the tourist hordes currently trampling it -- the project faces an uphill battle. Why? Well, the Hetch Hetchy Reservoir provides drinking water to …

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The urban archipelago

My hometown alternative weekly The Stranger has an unbelievably good article running this week -- it's the first thing I've read post-election that actually felt authentic and hopeful to me. It says that relevant red/blue divide is not a matter of states but a matter of rural vs. urban. Cities vote Democrat. It's time to celebrate that, celebrate cities and the values of diversity, vitality, and imagination that make them run, and turn our attention to making cities ever more aesthetically, practically, and politically attractive.  My eye was particularly drawn to this passage: And, as counterintuitive as it may seem …

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Election serves as whack upside the head for environmental community

Post-election, enviros are thinking about values -- and praying for a better outcome next time. The Bush victory dealt a devastating wallop to the environmental community, but some members say it also delivered a much-needed reality check to a movement struggling to find its soul. Understandably, many environmental leaders who jumped into the election fray insist their crusade to mobilize the green vote could not have been harder fought: Beltway groups raised record funds -- in total more than $12 million -- to help oust Bush, and deployed bigger volunteer armies than ever before to pound the pavement in swing …

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