Monday, December 31, 2007

Annual Blog Statement for 2007

Name of Blog: Clips and Statements
Organizers: Kevin Chavis

Purpose: To organize important information in a format similar to clipping and storing them. This allows me to save information and news that I value, while sharing it with the world. No profit is made (apart from knowledge) and sources are always stated explicitly.

Participating with this blog is available to others interested. Please e-mail KevinChavis AT Yahoo dot com with subject line:"Clips and Statements Blog"

594 visitors from 24 October 2007 until December 31, 2007

Sunday, December 30, 2007

Goodman's actions on burner questioned

As an investor, Lisa Goodman left the debate on the project and did not vote. But was her letter to the MPCA a conflict of interest?

By STEVE BRANDT, Star Tribune

Last update: December 24, 2007 - 7:43 PM

Lisa Goodman says she did everything by the book when she invested last year in Midtown Eco Energy, which wants to generate energy in Minneapolis' Phillips neighborhood by burning wood.

The Minneapolis City Council member filed a statement with the city clerk disclosing a conflict of interest. She left the room during the council's discussion of Midtown Eco Energy's request that the city reserve up to $86 million in tax-exempt revenue bond authority for the project. She abstained from voting on the request. She didn't lobby colleagues.

Goodman said those actions exceed what's required.

But she also wrote in August to the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency, urging it to issue an air quality permit for the facility.

Although on personal stationery, the letter began by referring to her post as a council member. It didn't disclose that she had invested at least $2,500 in Midtown.

The wood-burning proposal has attracted opponents, some of whom look askance at the Goodman letter.

"I think it's a little sleazy," said Carol Greenwood, a Seward neighborhood environmental activist. She called Goodman's omission of her investment "a little disingenuous."

Goodman's action may not run afoul of the city's ethics ordinance. It says that a city official should avoid any situation that might give rise to a conflict of interest. A conflict is defined as participating in the discharge of official duties in a government decision, action or transaction in which one has a financial interest greater than an occupational peer.

An ethics professor weighs in

But the proscription appears to apply only to city officials influencing a city decision, not a state action. David Schultz, who teaches government ethics at Hamline University's law school, calls that a "statutory gap."

"She's got a conflict of interest, no doubt about it," Schultz said, even if no law is broken. "What's she's doing here more than anything else is using her position as a council member for personal gain. That fits under one of the classic definitions of conflict of interest."

In an interview, Goodman refused to disclose the amount of her investment but it's at least $2,500, the threshold that required her to disclose it on an economic interest statement last year.

"I can't afford to be making a large investment," Goodman said. But she also said: "I could lose a ton of money."

She described it as an investment in a project in which two "people who are in my life like family" are involved.

They are Kim Havey, the city's former Empowerment Zone director, and Michael Krause, a former Green Institute president and city DFL chairman. They are two of three partners in Kandiyohi Development Partners, which is proposing the Midtown project. They said they asked friends and family to invest seed money in the project.

Goodman and Havey have known each other since college days in the 1980s and shared a condo for years. Goodman, Krause and Havey own an 8-acre Kandiyohi County farmstead.

Goodman adapted form letter

Goodman, who represents downtown and the Cedar-Isles area, said most of her letter was copied from a form letter circulated by the Midtown project. But she inserted her council title at the form letter's start. Although it's on personal stationery, her letterhead also lists her council title.

Asked about that, Goodman said: "I was just listing what my job was. It wasn't a position of the city."

Schultz disagreed: "She's using her position. If she had just signed it Jane Doe at 1 Elm Street, maybe that wouldn't have been so much of a problem."

"She's using her influence as a City Council member," said Nancy Hone, one of the activists opposing the Midtown project. Another opponent, Alan Muller, who discovered the letter in state files, said it raises questions about Goodman's ethical sensitivity.

After Goodman was asked by the Star Tribune about the letter, she wrote the agency to clarify that she was not acting in her official capacity.

The city's ethics code requires those working for the city to "maintain the highest ethical principles and avoid misconduct and conflicts of interest, apparent or real."

Steve Brandt • 612-673-4438

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Saturday, December 29, 2007

Rep. Neva Walker to forgo seat in 2008

By Andy Birkey , Minnesota Monitor

In a letter to constituents, Rep. Neva Walker announced that she will not pursue reelection to the Minnesota House in 2008 for seat 61B. Walker has represented the south Minneapolis district since 2000, a district that includes the Powderhorn Park Neighborhood.

“I have decided not to seek reelection for a fifth term,” Walker said in a letter sent to constituents late last week, which can be viewed at “I realize that I am sending this notice out at a late date and do apologize for that. I know that this will come as a surprise and disappointment to many of you. This decision hasn’t been an easy one for me.”

While Walker didn’t give any specifics about her decision to leave office, she says she will continue her work in social justice. “Regardless of where my journey will lead me, I will always be committed to this work, seeking to educate people on the importance of social justice and why it is so crucial that we all be engaged and involved.”

Indeed, Walker worked on many progressive causes related to social justice. She held multiple events to engage the communities of color in her district to break down barriers to the political process, and she played a key role in the ethics complaint against former Rep. Arlen Lindner, whose statements regarding race, homosexuality and the Holocaust brought much negative attention to the Capitol.

She was awarded the Hanson Henningson Award by the Minnesota AIDS Project, which recognizes legislative leadership in the fight to stop HIV, for her work in securing HIV prevention funds to provide life-saving information to Minnesota’s growing and diverse African immigrant communities. She also worked for years to pass comprehensive sexual health education measures for the schools.

Those are just a few of the progressive causes that Walker represented in the Minnesota House.

“I believe that our district is an island of righteousness and the conscience of where we should be headed as a state,” she wrote. “The core values of social justice and the importance of equal rights have been things that I refuse to compromise on because of the people and support in our district.”


Elaine Brown renounces Green Party of the United States

Elaine Brown
139 Altama Connector, No. 107
Brunswick, Georgia 31525
telephone/facsimile: 912-261-1799
email: sistaelaine AT

For Immediate Release

Brunswick, Georgia,
December 28, 2007


Renounces Green Party Membership


As of today, I am no longer a candidate for the Green Party nomination for president of the United States, and I hereby resign from all affiliation with the Green Party. I believe the leadership of the Green Party of the United States has been seized by neo-liberal men who entrench the Party in internecine antagonisms so as to compromise its stated principles and frustrate its electoral and other goals. They have made it impossible to advance any truly progressive ideals or objectives under the umbrella of the Green Party, and, thus, rendered it counterproductive for me to go forward as a Green Party candidate or member.

I believe this small clique that has captured control of the Party has transformed it into a repository for erstwhile, disgruntled Democrats, who would violate the Party's own vision and sabotage the good will and genuine commitment of the general membership. Indeed, these usurpers foster a reactionary agenda, supporting partisans in and backers of the Bush wars and disavowing the Party's more progressive tenets in favor of promoting high-profile participation in the politics of the establishment.

This became clear to me almost from the moment I announced my candidacy in February of 2007. I intended using my campaign to bring large numbers of blacks and browns into the Party, particularly from the hood and the barrio—as would come to be reflected in the lists of supporters and delegates I've submitted in connection with my candidacy. As I asserted I would use the respect I enjoyed as a former leader of the Black Panther Party to do so, some in the hierarchy seemed utterly fearful of the prospect of a massive influx of blacks and browns into the Green Party. Soon, there was wide circulation of false rumors that I was a one-time "government agent," which was intended to discredit my history in the Black Panther Party so as to undermine my potential influence.—And, since then, I have had to devote significant time and energy to addressing these lies.—What this effort revealed, though, was how the Green Party, while advocating "diversity," remains dominated by whites. Indeed, the Party is able to count less blacks, browns and natives in its membership than our national population percentages and certainly less than the Democrats themselves.

In effect, the present Green Party leadership promotes a kinder, gentler capitalism, a moderated racism, an environmentally-sustainable globalism, which I cannot support. They are dedicated to the underside of the Party's platform, which falls short of repudiating the capitalist state, source of all the social ills the Party would address. They equivocate by promoting "an economic alternative to corporate capitalism and a socialist state," advocate a "re-formulation" of the IMF, NAFTA, so forth, and advance the institution of "stakeholder capitalism."

On the other hand, they demonstrate a willingness to override the best of the Party's platform. My sharp criticism of high-profile Party members' support for the "three-strikes" crime laws, the sole basis for the inhumane mass incarceration of people in the United States, particularly blacks—the repeal of which the Party's platform advocates—has been met with outright enmity. And, to divert attention from this and other critical issues, the leadership has employed chicanery in their promulgation of defamatory lies about me—which they finally extended to character assaults on my supporters and critics of their unscrupulousness.

It is my sincere belief that the Green Party as it now exists has no intention of using the ballot to actualize real social progress, and will aggressively repel attempts to do so. To remain in the fray or in the Party, then, would require a betrayal of my lifelong and ongoing commitment to serving the interests of black and other oppressed people by advancing revolutionary change in America.

Sunday, December 23, 2007

Apathy fueled by lack of honest dialogue

Sen. Hillary Clinton's planted question shows candidates' need to focus on honesty and integrity.

the average American has plenty of reasons to feel disengaged in today's political climate. In the wake of two questionable presidential elections, the growing sentiment that our votes really don't matter in combination with increasing frustrations over partisanship are leading to an indifferent electorate.

Navigating oneself through corporate media biases in presenting the 2008 presidential candidates is difficult enough in itself, but when candidates seem to froth at the mouth over bashing their competitors, but cannot clearly articulate their policy positions, question-and-answer sessions with "real Americans" seem to be one of the last true dialogues between the elite and the masses.

In the past week, however, it has become obvious that at least one candidate who has attempted to separate herself from our current leader of the free world is employing some of the same campaign tactics and is destroying candidate- constituent confidences. (See any town hall meeting held by President George W. Bush).

In Iowa last week, Hillary Clinton's staffers reportedly planted a somewhat benign question about global warming with Grinnell College student Muriel Gallo-Chasanoff. Gallo-Chasanoff claims Clinton staffers approached her and asked if she wanted to ask the senator a question. She said she would want to, but when she shared the question she had in mind (about how Clinton's energy plans compared to the other candidates), the staffers encouraged instead for her to ask the question about global warming.

Although Clinton denies any knowledge of the planted question, she managed to select Gallo-Chasanoff from a crowd of over 300 Iowans.

I do not doubt that many of the questions posed in events like this one are candid and sincere, but I also do not doubt that it is beneficial to a campaign to coerce questions for which the candidate has prepared answers.

Voters, as stakeholders in the future of this country and the world, should demand honesty and integrity from our presidential candidates. Although oft-undervalued characteristics in this society, their importance in the highest office in the land is obviously innumerable.

Think of what could be, had we placed a higher value on those characteristics in 2000. Rather than fighting a war based on trumped-up charges and lies, we could have taken the billions of dollars we are now spending in Iraq and used it toward finding viable solutions to our incredibly gluttonous use of energy. Or perhaps instead of "cutting the pork" from our most basic human rights to education to buy more RPGs, we could have found a way to actually leave no child behind.

I know it's just easier to go downstairs to your basement and play Second Life than to fight for civil rights you cannot see or touch. I know it's discouraging to feel as though you don't matter in the political makeup of this country.

But I also know that unless we begin to work for change within the system we face and can be honest with one another and those who lead us, we will never see true progress in our society.

Chelsey Perkins welcomes comments at cperkins AT

Saturday, December 22, 2007

Cat Fleas' Journey Into The Vacuum Is A 'One-way Trip'

Homeowners dogged by household fleas need look no farther than the broom closet to solve their problem. Scientists have determined that vacuuming kills fleas in all stages of their lives, with an average of 96 percent success in adult fleas and 100 percent destruction of younger fleas. In fact, the results were so surprisingly definitive that the lead scientist repeated the experiments several times to be sure the findings were correct.

full article:

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

More power to new energy alternatives

Electricity is one of the basic necessities in modern society.

Most, if not all, economic and social activities would grind to a halt without electricity. The electric power industry advances a nation’s productivity, promotes business development and expansion, and provides employment opportunities.

Indeed, electricity is more than energy. It is a vital component of infrastructure and an essential part of modern day life. Looking to the future, electricity will play an even greater transformative role. Electricity-based innovation is supporting increasingly sophisticated global, real-time networks for communication, finance, trade and technology development.

For a long time, in many developing countries (notably in Africa), the electricity sector has been dominated and run by the State (through utility monopolies). However, the industry is now undergoing a period of major restructuring: a shift from a monopolistic to a competitive structure.

It is a welcome boost to the economy to note that the Sondu Miriu Power Project in Nyando District is finally generating 30MW to the national grid. An additional 30 MW will be generated by the end of January, next year.

However, this additional supply is still a long way from satisfying the rising demand, mainly driven by economic growth as well as the Government’s commitment to take electricity to the rural areas.

Available statistics indicate that the current peak demand in the country is 1,010MW, against the maximum supply capacity of 1,100MW, leaving a reserve margin of a meagre 90MW.

It is, therefore, imperative that the Government, through KenGen visualise, plan and invest ahead if the current economic momentum and the lofty aspirations of the Vision 2030 are to be realised.

Indeed, it is a fact that the unpredictability of power supply in many African countries is one of the main hindrances to economic growth. The reasons for this irregularity of supply are numerous and diverse. These include limited financial resources for the maintenance of the infrastructure such as transmission and distribution lines, leading to unnecessary loss of power on transit.

One of the sad aspects of electricity in Africa is that most of it is generated through hydropower plants. This has given rise to an unhealthy reliability on weather to determine the supply of electricity. In the past decade, Kenya, Ghana, Nigeria, Tanzania and Uganda (to name, but a few) have all experienced debilitating power outages owing to drought conditions and leading to economic-sapping rationing programmes.

The Government, therefore, needs to start exploring the alternative sources of power including wind power, which is one of several renewable energy options. Other renewable sources include sunlight (photovoltaics), heat from the sun (solar thermal), naturally occurring underground steam and heat (geothermal), and plant and animal waste (biomass).

The Government and all the other stakeholders in the sector, also need to institute measures of improving existing operations, especially in enhancing the efficiency of both the supply and demand for electricity. This would, for instance, include investigating how demand side management options (such as efficient lighting and heating) can assist with affordability of electricity and poverty alleviation.

This is the route to self-sufficiency and growth.


Monday, December 17, 2007

OPEN LETTER TO GREEN PARTY from Cali Committee to Elect Elaine Brown

by Campaign Coordinator ( vote4elainebrown [at] )
This open letter is to address issues of unprofessional, undemocratic behavior and tactics taken by the National Political Director of the US Green Party and the National Steering Committee. The Green Party is a bright hope for electoral justice in America. Information was provided to us by an honest member of the Steering Committee. She should be CELEBRATED for her bravery yet she is being pushed to resign. Please feel free to respond. THE GREEN PARTY BELONGS TO US ALL, NOT JUST DISGRUNTLED DEMOCRATS!
OPEN & URGENT LETTER To Green Party US Steering Committee From California Coordinator, Committee to Elect Elaine Brown

I write this open letter to the Green Party US Steering Committee and the
Green Party membership at large in order to immediately expose the
malicious, libelous, and racist behavior and comments made by Brent
McMillan, Political Director, Green Party USA to the National Steering
Committee during the time that body was deciding whether or not to grant
Draft Candidate status to Elaine Brown last week.
Through email correspondence, Mr. Mcmillan informed the US Green Party
Steering Committee of a situation in which an associate of Candidate
Elaine Brown went to him to pick up paperwork for the DC primary ballot

Relating his experience through an email to the Green Party US Steering
Committee, Brent McMillan claimed that the man who came to meet with him
was sent with malicious intent. He further stated he did not know who
would come after him next, that he may be taking his last breath soon AND
accused our campaign of laying groundwork for violence. He then ended his
correspondence to the Steering Committee by claiming that Elaine Brown is
an alcoholic, a flat out lie which has NO FACTUAL BASIS whatsoever. This
is straight libel against a Green Party Candidate for the US

His accusations against our Black associate and the expressed fear that
there may be violence directed upon him in the future is rooted in racism
and was done with malice. His accusations and commentary are very severe,
unjustified, and Anti-Elaine Brown. It is pure libel, both to Elaine and
to the campaign that represents her.

Our campaign has registered many new voters to the Green Party in a
relatively short amount of time. We are organizing the marginalized and
oppressed, who have never been served by the elitist, hierarchal,
patriarchal electoral status quo. The very people who the Green Party
CLAIM to serve and represent. We are bringing these folks into this party.
Over 95% of our delegates are people of color and under the age of 25.
Most have never regitered to vote...yet are over 18. And her support is
growing in the Green Party rank and file.

This irresponsible, dangerous, undemocratic, and unprofessional, behavior
by Brent McMillan, US Green Party Political Director, is the antithesis of
the Green Party Key Values. It is hypocritical for the Green Party to
allow him to stay on as a paid staff member in a position of leadership at
the National level.

Also implicated with the Steering Committee are two other National Green
Party activists who responded to the racist accusations of
violence by Mr. McMillan.not by checking their facts...but by proposing
stronger security in the building to keep any future violent black folks,
out. They are accusing our campaign of intent to harm. A serious, criminal
accusation. This too, is malicious and hurtful to our campaign, our
candidate and a downright insult to all of our delegates and any Black
person who walks in to the Green Party office in DC this day forward.

We call for Brent McMillam to immediately and publicly recant his
malicious and untrue statements about Elaine Brown. We demand an immediate
apology and resignation of Mr. McMillan. If this statement does not come
forth from Brent McMillan, his consequences will come in the form of full
legal action.

Furthermore, we propose the Green Party US accept the following resolution
and solution proposed below I sincerely hope that Greens in positions of leadership will
hear this call for justice on behalf of our campaign. I hope all of you
will do whatever is in your power to reconstitute this US Steering
Committee with non-judgmental, tolerant, righteous people who represent
different factions of this party. The Green Party US is at a crossroads of
great potential or harm within itself.

Let a new US Steering Committee bring the party to its highest potential.
Do not allow this party (at the top levels) to become racist, biased,
elitist and corrupt. America needs the Green Party to work based on its
Key Values now more than ever.

Please support this resolution, start to make the needed changes, and
appoint a new National Political Director immediately.

With Love For The People,
California Coordinator, Committee to Elect Elaine Brown
Vote4elainebrown [at]


Whereas the paid political director of the GPUS, during a GPUS Steering
Committee Discussion and Voting period of that committee to accept or not
a high profile and respected Black Community leader, labeled that Draft
Candidate for the GPUS Presidential nomination in written Green Party
documents, derogatory terms not congruent with the ten key values of the
GPUS or the appearance of impartiality and non-appearance of conflict of

Whereas -- after national committee delegate's probing of the GPUS
steering committee -- there were no apparent responses nor action towards
censure, separation, or distancing of such remarks, from our National
Steering Committee, during this critical time of growth or implosion of
our party's democratic institutions which must remain accountable;

And whereas there has been a long standing acrimony stemming from two
tendencies in the GPUS and within the GPCA which has not been solved and
appears headed towards certain separation;

Be it resolved that the National Committee of the GPUS calls for two
delegates of Peter Camejo, two delegates of David Cobb or Cynthia
McKinney, and 1 delegate from Elaine Brown and 1 delegate from Ralph Nader
to constitute a new voting Steering Committee, with all current Steering
Committee Members to Resign their voting positions but allowed to be
present and participate in meetings until such time as GPUS steering
committee decides;

GPCA Delegate

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

Green Party's McKinney Says She Offers an Alternative to Those Upset with the System

by: Andy Birkey

Tue Dec 11, 2007 at 11:54:29 AM

CynthiaAnnMcKinney.jpgGreen Party presidential candidate Cynthia McKinney is not afraid to speak her mind on the issues and ideas she cares about, and she joined local Greens Monday morning to do just that. She spoke on her experiences as a representative in Congress for more than a decade and as an activist on a number of issues at a small meeting of bloggers, reporters and party activists at the Midtown Exchange as part of a two-day trip to Minneapolis to gain support for her presidential bid.

McKinney has seen her fair share of controversy and accomplishment in her political career. One of her first actions as a politician in 1986 after winning a seat in the Georgia House through a successful write-in campaign spearheaded by her father (she was living in Jamaica when she won her seat) was to change a repressive dress code at the Georgia Capitol that said all women representatives must wear dresses. Thanks to McKinney, they may also wear slacks to work.

McKinney spoke of some contentious moments at the Georgia legislature, particularly her anti-war stance. "The one event that catapulted me to the United States Congress, that was when President George Herbert Walker Bush decided to bomb Baghdad," she said Monday. "And outraged, I stayed up all night and wrote a speech, went to the floor of the house and said among other things 'President Bush ought to be ashamed of himself.' That was when my colleagues got up and walked out on me."

Andy Birkey :: Green Party's McKinney Says She Offers an Alternative to Those Upset with the System
"The four years I was in the Georgia legislature I infuriated people," she said. It wouldn't be the last time she infuriated people. Her campaigns were plagued by charges of anti-semitic remarks, especially by her own father and her security staff. Racial tensions have also run high with McKinney calling her Republican opponents "holdovers from the Civil War days" and "a ragtag group of neo-Confederates."

She raised eyebrows in a letter to Saudi Prince Al-Waleed-bin Talal that criticized U.S. foreign policy. Al-Waleed donated $10 million to relief efforts after Sept. 11, but with the caveat that perhaps if the United States took a more moderate stance on the Israel-Palestine conflict, these things wouldn't happen. It was rejected by charities in New York. McKinney wrote him suggesting he give the money to other charities.

Perhaps one of her more well-known statements was her insinuation that the Bush administration knew about Sept. 11 before it happened. "I thought that was a perfectly good question to ask," she said Monday. "and so I said let me ask the question pertaining to Sept. 11 that the American people ought to have answered: What did the administration know and when did they know it about the tragic events of Sept. 11?" Because of her work supporting indigenous people in Columbia, the United States and Australia, she "had a long history of upsetting people in the Congress who were not accustomed to being upset," and said members of Congress were already out to get her for those reasons.

That statement likely cost her reelection in 2006. She said 48,000 Republicans crossed over to vote for her Democratic opponent because of her statements about Bush.

Her time in Congress has also been spent looking into the events of Sept. 11. In 2005, she held hearings on unanswered questions regarding Sept. 11, and the media treatment of those hearings was not kind she said. "The quote 'mainstream media,' which is becoming less mainstream because fewer people are subscribing to them -- and that's a good thing -- labeled this briefing with these esteemed people as a meeting of conspiracy theorists."

Her time in Congress was spent on many human rights issues for which she gets very little attention. She's worked with Congress for action in the Democratic Republic of Congo and Central and South America, and sponsored legislation to prevent the United States from sending military supplies to countries with undemocratic governments or human rights violations. She also played a key role in both investigating the government's response to Hurricane Katrina and Rita and securing relief funds for the disaster.

At the meeting Monday, several prominent Green Party Activists endorsed McKinney. Former candidate for mayor of Minneapolis Farheen Hakeem introduced then endorsed McKinney. U.S. Senate candidate Michael Cavlan "proudly" endorsed McKinney. Candidate for the 3rd Congressional district, Amy Alexander, also endorsed McKinney.

The McKinney campaign is working to secure federal elections money by raising funds in at least 20 states, and is trying to secure ballot status in all 50 states and the District of Columbia. So far, only Illinois has succeeded in getting McKinney on the ballot.

One of McKinney's goals is to ignite those who have been disenfranchised and who are upset with the current political system. "We've got young people who have been taught a set of values, the difference between right and wrong," she said. "They see so much wrong, and they see no one being held accountable."


Monday, December 10, 2007

The ugly side of beauty products

Whether your beauty products might be bad for you is up for debate -- and that creates a major headache for consumers.

Last update: December 10, 2007 - 10:21 AM

When you count everything from deodorant to toothpaste to hand soap to lotion, even the lowest-maintenance types among us probably use at least five beauty or personal-care products.

How many do you use a day? That's the question that Stacy Malkan, author of "Not Just a Pretty Face: The Ugly Side of the Beauty Industry" posed to about 300 people attending a panel discussion at the University of Minnesota recently.

She asked that question because the safety of some ingredients commonly used in these products has become suspect by a number of watchdog groups.

It was widely reported recently that more than half of the lipsticks tested by the Campaign for Safe Cosmetics contained lead. Another ingredient setting off alarms is phthalates (pronounced THAY-lates), a common component of fragrances, as reported by the Enviromental Working Group.

Research indicates that phtalates can interfere with hormones and cause birth defects. In a study of 289 people by the Center of Disease Control, all had higher-than-expected levels of phthalates, especially women of childbearing age.

Industry scientist counters claims

But Malkan's reasoning is being questioned by the cosmetic industry. John Bailey, chief scientist for the Cosmetic, Toiletry, and Fragrance Association, a Washington D.C.-based trade group, said that certain levels of lead occur naturally in nature and that the levels found in lipsticks were relatively low. In general, he says cosmetics are safe.

"Speaking as a scientist, these issues aren't new, they've been known for a while," he said. "Low levels of lead show up in products because it's very much in the environment naturally, not because it's intentionally added. If you look hard enough at foods, water, air, soil air, there's going to always be a small residue of lead. For that reason, federal government authorities as well as some of states have set limits for lead exposure. Lead found in lipstick is well below these limits."

Finding what's safe is confusing, hard work

Panel attendee Asia Schulz of Eden Prairie, who has been reading "Not Just a Pretty Face," has found the quest for healthy beauty products to be confusing and labor-intensive. She said that she has started throwing out beauty products based on ingredients listed on labels, but not without trepidation: Schulz is also a makeup artist for Bobbi Brown (owned by Estee Lauder) and LancĂ´me (owned by L'Oreal), which she now isn't convinced are safe.

At home, Schulz recently noticed that her husband's Edge Shave Gel contains triethanolamine (TEA). According to Malkan's book, the ingredient "forms carcinogenic nitrosamine compounds if mixed with other ingredients that act as nitrosating agents. It is also a skin sensitizer and possibly toxic to the lungs and brain."

Bailey disputes that. "It's a safe ingredient, normally used to sort of adjust the PH of a product and make it softer and milder," he said.

Label-reading has shown Schulz that you can't rely on brand names alone to determine the ingredients: She found ingredients that Malkan calls harmful on a tube of Kiss My Face lotion, which is marketed as being natural. "But then I pulled out a black nail polish I bought for 99 cents. The bottle said '100 percent phthalate free,'" she said.

Bailey questions how useful a careful examination of products is for consumers. "If you look beyond claims that express particular hazards and how they link those assertions to finished products, I don't think you can draw the conclusions that are being represented," he said.

Horst's new line: Good enough to eat?

On the panel with Malkan was, among others, Horst Rechelbacher, founder of Aveda Corp., which was sold to Estee Lauder in 1997. An audience member pointed out that Aveda's Shampure rated a four (medium hazard) and the Shampure conditioner a five (also medium hazard).

Aveda's not-so-direct response, via e-mail from Gracia Walker, director of global communications: "Consumer safety has always been a top priority at Aveda. We are committed to selling only safe products and work diligently to ensure that our formulations and packaging meet our exceedingly high standards and comply with applicable regulations in every country in which our products are sold."

Rechelbacher has created a new company called Intelligent Nutrients (IN), a joint venture with Regis Corporation. The concept of the new line is that everything you put on your body should be something that you can eat and your body can digest. "It's not just food-based, but organic food-based," Rechelbacher said.

It's an idea that "is going to be normal," he added. "Putting substances on the body and not getting nutritional benefit is just outdated."

To this end, he has united food chemists and aesthetics chemists. "It has to look good and it has to function."

A variety of Intelligent Nutrients' "Neutraceutical Foods" and "Neutraceutical Supplements" are currently available online, at various salons and at the IN corporate headquarters in Minneapolis. A full line of products will launch next spring or summer.

It's an idea that seems to be catching on in the beauty industry. Origins has recently launched a new line of products that are certified organic, including face lotion (95 percent certified organic) and lip balm (97 percent certified organic).

So what can you use?

In the meantime, Malkan recommends keeping things basic, starting with the products you use everyday, like shampoos and deodorants.

"The advice that I follow is that simpler is better," she said. "Fewer synthetic ingredients, fewer ingredients overall and in some cases fewer products." Rechelbacher even suggested washing hair with an egg (it turns out that suds don't actually function beyond adding to the aesthetics of the bathing experience).

Among the products that raise Malkan's brows are bubble bath (especially "children sitting in warm waters with chemicals"), air freshener and any kind of fragrance, to which so many people have allergies or sensitivities.

Also, there is no such thing as safe hair color, said Rechelbacher, although bleaches are safer than dark hues.

Malkan no longer colors her hair. She suggests using the Safe Cosmetics Database (see chart for details, or for guidance.

She hasn't been spooked from all beautifiers, though. "There are many products on the market now that are a lot safer," she said. "It's up to consumers at this point to do our own research. In the meantime, while we work to change the laws, we research safer products and buy them for each other for Christmas."

Sara Glassman is a Minneapolis-based fashion writer. See her blog at


Sunday, December 09, 2007

Green Presidential Nominee Elaine Brown; Statement of Platform and Positions




     As a former leader of the Black Panther
Party, a Green Party candidate for mayor of
Brunswick, Georgia (2005), an author and college
lecturer, a community organizer—as co-founder of
Mothers Advocating Juvenile Justice and the
National Alliance for Radical Prison Reform, and
a local leader of the "No on One" campaign
(advocating same gender partnership rights)
(Atlanta, 1997-2004)—and as executive director of
the Michael Lewis ("Little B") Legal Defense
Committee, an activist in the campaigns to free
political prisoners Imam Jamil Al-Amin, Chip
Fitzgerald and Siddique Hasan, and simply as a
black woman from the ghetto (Philadelphia), I
have a long history and significant credentials
in the struggle for social, political and
economic justice in the United States.

     In the absence of a national progressive
movement toward the institution of fundamental
change in the United States, I believe a ballot
cast for a Green Party candidate or issue
represents the most significant instrument for
change available for the Marginalized
Millions—black people, brown people, other people
of color, poor working people, those languishing
in prison, those without decent housing or health
care and all the other oppressed people trying to
survive at the bottom of life in the most
powerful nation in the world. That is, change
will not be e-mailed, rapped in a CD or YouTubed.
To paraphrase Malcolm X, for the masses of
disenfranchised and disaffected millions in
America, the ballot is the bullet!

     It is my intention to use my presidential
campaign to galvanize the non-voting Marginalized
Millions to seize the ballot of the Green Party
toward their self-empowerment. The Green Party,
too, must seize this moment of national malaise
and disillusion to come out of the morass of
being a repository for disgruntled Democrats and
open the Party's doors to the non-voting millions
so as to actively and powerfully challenge the
status quo and become an effective force in the
national political arena. I believe I am a
catalyst the Green Party can use for this
necessary transition.

     Beyond a call for the immediate,
unconditional and complete withdrawal of U.S.
troops and war machinery from Iraq and
Afghanistan, my platform focuses on the repeal of
the "three-strikes" crime laws across the nation.
No other domestic issue is more urgent for black
people, brown people, poor people. This
Clinton-promulgated law (1994) and its progeny
caused the doubling of America's prison
population in the ten years since passage. The
result is, over two million people are presently
incarcerated in America, with five million more
on parole or probation, with families
representing millions more affected by their
incarceration, and millions of formerly
incarcerated people. In general, this mass
incarceration—distinguishing the U.S. as the
country with the highest incarceration rate in
the world!—has devastated black, brown and poor
communities, further impoverishing them and
destroying familial foundations. In addition, the
"three-strikes" crime laws overturned the
100-year-old juvenile justice system, allowing
for the inhumane housing of children in adult
prisons, in violation of the U.N. Convention on
the Rights of the Child. Finally, it has
generated a nefarious economic scheme of
financial gain for private prison profiteers.—For
blacks, this has been particularly oppressive,
given that 50% of prisoners are black, as
compared to 13% of the population, reflecting the
ongoing, institutionalization of racism in
America.—This criminalization and mass
incarceration of the poor, when compared to the
glorification of mass murder in Iraq and
elsewhere, demonstrates that in the United
States, crime is a political question. This law,
as it exists around the nation, particularly in
California where prison overcrowding has rendered
the state facilities gulags, must be repealed!

     My platform, then, is one that urges
humanizing this society, as follows, a program
that can be easily supported by the immediate
transfer of the billions of dollars spent on
war—one trillion dollars last year alone:

1. Repeal of the "three-strikes" crime laws,
restoring a juvenile justice system, funding
programs of education and rehabilitation for
those incarcerated and transitional housing and
employment for those released, and restoring
voting and other civil rights to prisoners and
former prisoners.

2. Full and free health care for everyone, as
exists in most civilized countries.

3. Complete and free primary, secondary and
higher education for everyone, eliminating the
exclusion of the children of poor and working
families from obtaining a college education.

4. Complete opening of the borders of the United
States accompanied by the institution of a
guaranteed minimum living wage of $25/hour for
all workers, so as to elucidate the so-called
immigration question now confounded by racist
assaults on Mexicans and Central Americans coming
into the U.S. to work and to provide all people
working in the United States with a decent
standard of living.

5. Creation of a base of free or low-cost, decent
housing, so as to eliminate homelessness and
provide every human being the fundamental right
to a decent place to live.

6. The repeal of all laws that discriminate
against or dehumanize people on account of
ethnicity, gender, nationality, sexuality,
religion, age, or disability, and the creation of
laws that guarantee non-discrimination and human
rights to all.

7. Institution of laws and policies that promote
purification and cleansing of the air, water and
land and that outlaw polluting, contaminating or
adulterating them, toward reversal of the
pollution of nature itself, particularly as this
pollution seeps into and devastates the lives of
black and brown and other poor people trying to
breathe and live in the ghettos, barrios and
hollers of this nation.

8. The payment of reparations by the United State
government to native peoples for the theft of
land and to Gullah/Geechee and other African
slave descendants for slave labor.

9. Total dismantling of nuclear and other weapons
of mass destruction by the United States, and
recognition of and adherence to all international
agreements as to war, crime and human rights.

10. Imposition of wealth taxes and reduction of
taxes for poor and working people, toward a
complete and fair redistribution of the wealth of
the nation.

     I have embraced and worked for the ideals
and issues set forth here, reflected in the Green
Party's Ten Key Values, for most of my life. It
is my hope to seize the opportunity of being the
Green Party presidential nominee to widely
advocate for and promulgate this platform among
the Marginalized Millions to bring about the
concretization of it through election of Green
Party candidates in every city and state as well
as nationally.

>From Elaine Brown>


Though Cynthia McKinney is in town, this was just released to Green supporters. I like Elaine Brown much more than McKinney. Elaine was former leader of the Black Panthers during their height of power - which seems at odds to some people's idea of "Green." But nonviolence is a Green value, not a principle. The words of the Dalai Lama inscribed on his Congressional Gold Medal state "World peace must develop from inner peace. Peace is not the absence of violence, peace is the manifestation of human compassion."

I must side on those who support a compassionate society, because I cannot fully support less than that.


Tuesday, December 04, 2007

No excuse for recycling apathy

The lack of effort by students and staff is disheartening and maddening, especially since it is relatively easy.

the physical act of tossing a bottle or can into a recycling bin is no more strenuous than that of throwing it into a trash can. Of course, you might need to walk a few extra feet, or make room for the recyclable in your bag until you find the proper place to dispose of it. But these are not difficult tasks, nor are they emotionally stressful or a financial burden.

So I cannot understand for the life of me why so many people not only do not make the negligible amount of extra effort needed to recycle items like cans and bottles that are the easiest to recycle rather than trash them, but act affronted by the mere concept.

Of course, I know there are many people who do make the effort, and I also know that outside of cities with comprehensive recycling programs, it might be difficult and maybe even impossible to recycle certain items. In my own hometown, for example, there is no recycling pick-up at all, and the closest recycling drop-off no longer accepts plastic.

But here on campus, for the most part, a majority of the effort has already been made for us. If you have yet to notice, bins all over the place, compartmentalized nicely and neatly, make it possible to rid yourself of last week's Sudoku, your empty Diet Coke bottle and the rest of that $2 burrito you couldn't bring yourself to finish all in one go. In most classrooms I've been in, three separate bins stand directly next to one another, labeled clearly.

Yet I regularly see people throw recyclables into the trash even though literally a foot away they could recycle them.

A friend told me this weekend that her parents poke fun at her when she asks them to recycle; another friend of mine waited until she found a recycling bin for her newspaper and her brother asked, "So, what, are you like an environmentalist now?"

As our world faces an environmental crisis like we have never seen before, the tasks before us seem daunting and nearly unattainable and it is easy to feel helpless. It's not as though the average person can simply waltz into Exxon Mobil and shut them down or halt clear-cutting in the Brazilian Rain Forest.

Why, then, is one of the tasks possible for an individual to complete on their own, a task that undeniably is crucial to environmental health, so often brazenly disregarded?

Even if you subscribe to the notion that humans are not the cause of global warming or could care less what happens to the planet after you're gone, why not just put that bottle in the freaking recycling bin when it is right there in front of you?

The thing is, although it might seem like a long shot, we can as individuals make a difference for our environment by the products we buy and the sustainable habits we commit to. Collectively, we have unlimited power to make change on the environmental front.

If you feel like that one bottle will not make a difference, multiply that by the 50,000 or more people that are on this campus every day for nine months, and you can see what kind of impact can be made. Whether it's a positive or negative one is up to you and which of the three slots you choose.

Chelsey Perkins welcomes your comments at cperkins AT


[ Minnesota has tens of thousands employed in the recycling industry. One of my battle buddies at basic training in the Minnesota National Guard works at one of the factories.

Each can of aluminum you recycle saves a bit more than half a cup of oil. Recycling is interconnected to the economy, natural resources, Global Warming, Peak Oil, and municipal taxes.

Even if you pay $3 a month to do this in suburbs such as Brooklyn Park, you are still making a profound difference. ]
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