Obama, Romney, and Women’s Healthcare

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In this election, arguments about women’s healthcare have often focused on abortion and contraception coverage. While I agree these are important issues, I would like to share my views from the perspective of a female cancer patient. The Affordable Care Act (ACA), a.k.a. “Obamacare,” requires insurance companies to cover such preventative services as breast cancer mammography screenings every one to two years for women over 40, breast cancer chemoprevention counseling for women at higher risk, and annual screenings for cervical cancer. Mitt Romney and Paul Ryan have pledged to repeal Obamacare, meaning many women could lose these important benefits from their paid insurance plans.

Even worse is the Republican plan, or lack thereof, for the many women currently without coverage. When money is tight, women are often the family members who go uncovered because we are often charged as much as three times the insurance rates of men (a problem Obamacare resolves as of 2014). I know many hard-working women — single and married — who are self-employed or work jobs that offer no insurance coverage and who can’t afford to pay for coverage themselves. Many married women whose spouse has a good health insurance policy still go uncovered because of the high cost of adding family coverage. Obamacare will make more options available to ALL women when the program goes into full force in 2014. But meanwhile, women without coverage need Planned Parenthood….

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Bird on Fire: Lessons from the World’s Least Sustainable City

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Phoenix, Arizona is a sprawling metropolis in one of the world’s hottest places. It has a long way to go before it can be considered “green.”

Andrew Ross, a professor in the Department of Social and Cultural Analysis at New York University, wrote Bird on Fire: Lessons from the World’s Least Sustainable City. His book is based on 200 interviews over two years about the Phoenix area’s likelihood of becoming sustainable.

What resulted from his work is a gripping analysis of government’s effect on making positive environmental changes. In Phoenix, he claims, those in charge are not doing what’s necessary to preserve the region for future generations….

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My Night in Jail (Occupy Iowa)

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Dear Friends,

Last night, I was one of over thirty protesters arrested at “People’s Park” on the Iowa State Capitol grounds. Honestly, I was surprised by the hostile response of the State Patrol. We were on public property and obstructing neither vehicular nor pedestrian traffic. We were peaceful. We were exercising our right to freedom of speech and to petition our government. The demeanor of many of the troopers made no sense to me, especially coming from a division of State Government that I respect and worked well with when I was a state lawmaker.

Today, as I dialogue with some of the 500 people who participated in yesterday’s “occupy” events, it appears the arrests have only further fueled people’s commitment to push the movement forward….

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Stop “Chocolate Milk” from Running in Iowa’s Rivers – Vote for Iowa’s Water and Land Legacy Referendum

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Iowans have a crucial choice to make that will impact future generations: the choice between clean water and dirty water.

On November 2, Iowa voters will see a referendum on a constitutional amendment called Iowa’s Water and Land Legacy (IWLL) on the back of their ballot. If it passes, it goes into effect for the next sales tax increase. Three-eighths of a percent of all Iowa sales will go into the trust fund, which will be used for soil conservation programs, to improve water quality, and to promote outdoor recreation.

“This is a way to not have chocolate milk running down our rivers,” said Mark Langgin, campaign manager for Iowa’s Water and Land Legacy….

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Take Action Today to Support the Safe Cosmetics Act of 2010

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In our house over the past two years or so, we’ve been carefully examining every personal care product we buy. If you’re a long-time reader of Blue Planet Green Living (BPGL), you already know that we are huge fans of the Environmental Working Group (EWG) and their Skin Deep Cosmetics Safety Database. Today, we received […]

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California Green Chemistry Initiative to Improve Consumer Safety

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Maziar Movassaghi, acting director of the California Department of Toxic Substances Control (DTSC), is determined to provide the United States with safer consumer products.

“More and more consumer goods are recalled lately because of the chemicals they contain,” Movassaghi said in a phone interview with Blue Planet Green Living.

Consumer products manufacturers will be required to “show they’re not using harmful ingredients, or face restrictions including a possible ban on selling those products,” according to a press release from Movassaghi’s office….

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Notes from Minnesota: Return of the River Otter

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On a frigid February afternoon, I walked the path around the Mill Pond in downtown Austin, Minnesota. A recreational area with a bike path, skate park, and swimming pool, the Mill Pond was formed by damming the Cedar River in the early years of the city.

As I crossed a bridge spanning the river, movement out on the ice caught my attention. For a moment, it looked like a sheet of black tar paper, waving in a non-existent breeze, but a closer look revealed an otter! A big guy, he was greedily devouring a fish.

I pulled out my camera and began to shoot video as a second otter appeared from under the ice. This was the first pair I’d seen since those I’d observed in Austin’s Sutton Park back in the mid 1970s. After 35 years, the river otters had returned….

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Parsley Plus All Surface Cleaner Does It Right

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When Earth Friendly Products makes the claim that they’re eco-friendly, they have the credentials to prove it. This family-owned business makes and sells super-effective cleaning products, including Parsley Plus All Surface Cleaner. In my opinion, this is one of the best all-around cleaners available — and that includes both natural and toxic cleaners. I love how well it cleans, what it’s made of, and even how it smells. I can’t say all that about many other cleaners — can you?

Like pretty much everyone we know, Joe and I are busy people. Sometimes we don’t get around to doing all the cleaning tasks on our list as quickly as we’d like. Recently, we let our upstairs tub and shower go just a little too long between cleanings. When we were sprucing up the house for a family party, we kicked into gear for a quick spritz around the house before everyone arrived. I got ready to tackle our upstairs bathroom. Oh, boy.

To say that the white walls of the tub and shower enclosure were looking a little gray might actually be an understatement, but let’s just leave it at that. I grabbed the bottle of Parsley Plus All Surface Cleaner and started spraying about a three-foot-square section of a shower wall. Then I turned my attention to the sink while that part was soaking….

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Notes from Canada: A Plan for the Planet

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“I’ve got an idea – let’s play hide and seek!” Mary Travers spoke, as I recall, on the 33-rpm vinyl record by Peter, Paul and Mary called Peter, Paul and Mommy, an anthology of some of my favourite children’s songs. Songs I love.

Well, I have an idea: let’s save humanity so that many more generations of children will sing children’s songs. Not an original idea but let’s stay with it.

Dependable science delivers a picture of planet Earth as we pass through the consecutive impacts of changing climate, consequence that may start with ecology but quickly moves through the food chain and the economy into the health and wealth of humanity, and the security of civilisation.

This somewhat succinctly embodies the essential message that Gwynne Dyer delivers globally, to all people in government and the smart folk who do “military intelligence”….

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President Obama Celebrates Health Care Law in Iowa

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When candidate Obama came to the Marriott Hotel in Coralville in 2008, an enthusiastic, even joyous, crowd welcomed him to Iowa. I wasn’t a complete believer. But I was, like most in the crowd, infected by the spread of Hope.

Today, I was once again in a crowd of supporters cheering on Barack Obama — now President Obama. This week, he made good on a promise he’d made when he first stumped in Iowa in 2007: He signed into law health care reform.

Since 15,000 people had applied for only 3,000 tickets, I expected that a crowd would be gathered outside of the University of Iowa Field House, where the speech would take place. People representing both the pros and cons of the health care debate stood along the roadside facing the Field House. There was no clear division between them, and I wasn’t always sure from their signs whether they were in favor of the new law or against it….

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KSCA Would “Change the Paradigm” to Protect Kids’ Health

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When it was enacted in 1976, the Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA) automatically assumed that some 62,000 chemicals were safe, even though their effects on humans had never even been tested. Equally scary, as each new chemical is introduced, the burden of proof rests on the EPA to show that a chemical is hazardous in order to restrict its use — and that, according to the Environmental Working Group (EWG), “rarely happens.”

If enacted, the Kid-Safe Chemicals Act (KSCA) would change the process of approving chemicals for the marketplace in several significant ways. According to CNN’s chief medical correspondent, Dr. Sanjay Gupta, in a recent television broadcast, Senator Frank Lautenberg (D-NJ) will soon reintroduce the bill proposing KSCA, which would change “the paradigm from innocent until proven guilty to guilty until proven innocent, in the sense that [a chemical] has to be tested before it can actually come to market.” …

To find out more about the health risks facing our children from toxic chemicals and why KSCA should be enacted, interested persons are invited to attend Dr. Landrigan’s talk, sponsored by the Lance Armstrong Foundation.

Title: “Children’s Health and the Environment: Target for Prevention”

Speaker: Dr. Philip Landrigan

Date: March 19, 2010

Time: 3:30 – 4:30, Reception to follow

Location: Livestrong Board Room, 2201 E. 6th St., Austin, TX

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They’re Blowing Up Our Mountains – There Oughta Be a Law!

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In his 2010 State of the Union address, President Obama mentioned that the U.S. needs “continued investment in … clean coal technologies.”

But, according to Matt Wasson, Ph.D., Director of Programming at Appalachian Voices, as well as many other experts, when you look at the entire process — from mountaintop removal through burning and coal ash disposal — there is no such thing as clean coal.

Blue Planet Green Living (BPGL) spoke with Dr. Wasson about the activities of Appalachian Voices, and about coal in particular…

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Electronics TakeBack Coalition Promotes Producer Responsibility

February 15, 2010 by  
Filed under Blog, E-Stewards, E-Waste, EPA, Front Page, Recycling, Slideshow

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Our home stands on top of a toxic waste dump.

And if you’re stockpiling obsolete electronics in the house, so does yours.

That clunky old CRT computer monitor or TV that’s currently collecting dust in the basement, attic, closet, or garage contains anywhere from 4 to 8 pounds of lead. The new flatscreen LCD monitor you replaced it with contains far less lead, so you might think it would be safer for the environment.

Actually, it’s not…

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A Plea to Protect Burns Bog as a UNESCO Site

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Environmentalists tend to be a passionate lot, on fire with conviction about the importance of preservation, conservation, and the well-being of the planet. But, despite our convictions, not all of us are activists. Dana L. Miller of Vancouver, British Columbia (B.C.), is an environmentalist who not only espouses her beliefs, she follows through with focused activities that support them. Miller is a vocal and dedicated advocate for protecting British Columbia’s Burns Bog with UNESCO designation as a World Heritage Site.

Blue Planet Green Living (BPGL) spoke with Miller by phone from her B.C. home. We began by asking her to tell us what’s unique about Burns Bog and why UNESCO designation would help protect it….

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Shedding Light on Injustice in Gaza

February 8, 2010 by  
Filed under 2010, Blog, Front Page, Gaza, Media, Slideshow, UN, War

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What exactly is injustice? Injustice, put simply, is when a person, or an entire population, is denied their basic human rights — more specifically, the human rights outlined in the Geneva Conventions post World War II….

A very clear and brutal example of injustice today can be seen in the Gaza Strip. There, 1.5 million Palestinians have, quite literally, been held hostage by Israel for 43 years, since the end of the Six Day War in 1967, for nothing more than being the non-Jewish, native inhabitants of the Mediterranean lands of Palestine….

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Basel Action Network — Part of the E-Waste Solution

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The Basel Action Network (BAN), is “a global toxic-trade watchdog organization” that works to prevent the dumping of used electronics from wealthy nations to developing nations. With so many companies and charitable organizations offering to collect your used computer, flatscreen TV, or cell phone, consumers are often lulled into the illusion that our used goods are going to be used for good. Instead, many of them end up dismantled, burned, and dumped in Ghana, China, Nigeria, and other developing nations.

BAN — named for the Basel Convention, the UN-administered agreement that regulates hazardous waste shipment — is the world’s foremost organization focused on confronting the environmental and economic ramifications of toxic trade. Working to prevent disproportionate and unsustainable dumping of the world’s toxic waste and pollution on the poorest nations, BAN actively promotes sustainable and just solutions to the consumption and waste crisis — banning waste trade, while advocating green, toxic-free design of consumer products….

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The Basel Convention — Protecting Developing Nations from E-Waste

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When industrialized countries began regulating the disposal of hazardous wastes in the 1980s, disposal costs skyrocketed. The cost-efficient solution they arrived at was “toxic trading” — the shipment of hazardous waste to developing countries and Eastern Europe.

International outrage from this practice resulted in the adoption of the Basel Convention, a UN-administered set of guidelines for controlling the movement of hazardous wastes across international borders. The Basel Convention ultimately banned the export of hazardous waste from richer countries to poorer ones….

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Brownfield Remediation Provides Local Opportunity

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Late this past fall, Cindy Quast, an environmental engineer with Stanley Consultants’ Iowa City Office, invited Blue Planet Green Living to visit a brownfield site. Quast, a 20-year veteran of environmental consulting, has been cleaning up brownfields for more than 10 years. Joe Hennager and I joined Quast at the western edge of Davenport, Iowa, for a quick course in Brownfields 101.

A chill wind cuts through my coat, and I instantly regret having left my gloves in the car. On the far side of the highway where we have parked, wetlands serve as a buffer zone for the Mississippi River. Eagles nest in the trees high above, soaring over the water to catch their food. A few feet from the busy highway on the near side, environmental engineer Cindy Quast is talking with two men. They stand at the bottom of a small hill that borders a long, private driveway.

One of the men, Wyatt McCain, is taking soil samples from the base of the hill. The other man, Daniel Cook, wears the uniform of the Iowa Department of Natural Resources (DNR). We walk together to the far end of the driveway, where McCain begins sampling again. Quast and Cook take turns patiently explaining to us the work being done on the site and why it’s important.

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Reflections on Copenhagen

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The Copenhagen conference ended, for the most part, disappointingly. The Copenhagen Accord, the climate change agreement reached at the last minute, doesn’t effectively address climate change. While it may have been a step in the right direction, it was only an incremental step when the world needed a leap at this moment in time.

In the aftermath of such a disappointing effort, many have sought to place blame. Fingers have been pointed at China, predictably at the US, at Danish political leadership, and even at the UN. All of these narratives are partially correct, but only partially. The blame is plenty and should be spread far….

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Dispatches from Copenhagen – Talks Extended

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COPENHAGEN – COP15 TALKS JUST EXTENDED TO THE WEEKEND.

So much has happened, while so little real progress has been made.

Obama’s speech essentially reiterated the US’s already stated position: mitigation commitments by all major economies, transparency by both developing and developed countries alike, and US commitment of $10 billion in the short term/$100 billion in the long-term by 2020 for climate finance….

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