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Fracking-Related Film Offers a Human Take on a Controversial Political Issue – December 27, 2012

In Review: Promised Land (Fiction)

The title Promised Land brings to mind biblical images of a fertile land flowing with milk and honey. In Gus Van Sant’s new film, the dubiously blessed land flows with a lucrative resource: natural gas.

Movie posterPhotos by Scott Green/courtesy Focus FeaturesMatt Damon and Frances McDormand play representatives of a natural gas company sent to a
small town to purchase the rights to drill on the residents’ land.

Promised Land has an all-star team befitting an Oscar-bait film. Matt Damon plays the lead. Damon and Van Sant last collaborated on Good Will Hunting, Damon’s Oscar-winning breakout film. John Krasinski (most notably Jim from… more

by: Audrey Haynes

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New Whistleblower Protection Law “An Environmentally Significant Reform,” say Activists – December 13, 2012

But some protections may be challenging to implement, they caution

Last month President Obama signed the Whistleblower Protection Enhancement Act into law. The law revamps protections for federal employees who come forward and report misconduct, abuse of authority, or violation of law in their workplaces. These enhancements could be crucial in advancing environmental issues, but only if implemented properly.

photoname Photo by Farm SanctuaryThe new law closes judicially created loopholes in pre-existing whistleblower protection
laws that inhibited federal employees, such as USDA food inspectors, from speaking out.

“Protecting federal employees with the courage to come forward — at the risk of their own careers — to report waste, fraud, and abuse that… more

by: Audrey Haynes

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Too Close for Comfort — Toxic Chemicals in Our Couches and Clothing – November 28, 2012

Series of studies show toxic flame retardants in most US couches and harmful chemicals in branded clothes

Evidence is mounting that toxins are infiltrating the one place most of us believe we are safe in — our homes. Several studies came out this month showing how our furniture, household dust, and even the clothes we wear contain hazardous chemicals.

dog couch Photo by Flickr user SpacemanorPart of the concern with the toxic chemicals in flame retardants is that they migrate from the foam into
household dust, where people, especially children, easily inhale them.

A study, published today in the journal Environmental Science and Technology, detected chemical flame retardants in 85 percent of 102 residential couches tested. Of the polyurethane foam samples… more

by: Audrey Haynes

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Coal-Fired Power Plants Disproportionally Impact Communities of Color, says NAACP – November 15, 2012

Seventy-eight percent of African Americans live within 30 miles of a coal-fired power plant, says new report by civil rights group

The National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) released a report on the nation’s coal industry today rating coal-fired power plants according to their impact on neighboring communities.

The verdict is grim.

Of the 378 plants across the country that the report assessed for their environmental justice performance – that is their affects on low-income communities and communities of color – 75 plants received an F. The report estimates that four million people live within three miles of these failing plants

photo of a neighborhoodCourtesy NAACPThe high-profile civil rights group’s step into what was traditionally the realm of conservation groups
signifies a broadening… more

by: Audrey Haynes

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Thailand Theme Park Continues to Host Orangutan Kickboxing Matches – October 22, 2012

Endangered primates still exploited for amusement despite years of protests by animal welfare activists and anti-trafficking crackdowns

I recently found out that  Safari World, an animal theme park on the outskirts of Bangkok, hosts orangutan kickboxing matches. Captive orangutans, dressed in lurid satin shorts and boxing gloves, kick and punch each other until there is a knockout. The performances even feature female orangutans in bikinis holding up the round number. The matches last more than 30 minutes, after which the orangutans are returned to their dark cages. Video footage of the park shows tourists cheering the grotesque display.

photoname Photo courtesy Care2A kickboxing match in progress at
Safari World.

Safari World insists that the orangutans are trained to pretend punch and… more

by: Audrey Haynes

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