FCC Considering Move To Ban Washington Redskins Nickname

By Alina Selyukh, Huffington Post

WASHINGTON, Sept 30 (Reuters) – The Federal Communications Commission is considering whether to punish broadcasters for using the moniker of the Washington NFL team, the Redskins, a word many consider a slur to Native Americans, the agency’s chairman indicated on Tuesday.

The FCC, which enforces broadcast indecency violations, has received a petition from legal activist John Banzhaf III, asking that regulators strip local radio station WWXX-FM of its broadcasting license when it comes up for renewal for using the name “Redskins.”

Banzhaf says the word is racist, derogatory, profane and hateful, making its use “akin to broadcasting obscenity.”

“We’ll be looking at that petition, we will be dealing with that issue on the merits and we’ll be responding accordingly,” FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler told reporters.

“There are a lot of names and descriptions that were used over time that are inappropriate today. And I think the name that is attributed to the Washington football club is one of those,” Wheeler added.

The FCC could formally deem use of the team name to be indecent, and thus impose a de facto ban on it on over-the-air television and radio.

Despite protests, vigorous lobbying and even intervention from President Barack Obama, team owner Daniel Snyder has vowed not to change the name of his National Football League team.

Some TV football analysts, including CBS’ Phil Simms and Super Bowl-winning coach Tony Dungy, have said they will no longer use the term Redskins. On the other side, former Chicago Bears coach Mike Ditka, a Hall of Famer, says the issue is “so stupid it’s appalling.”

Half of the U.S. Senate asked the NFL to endorse a name change and the Washington Post editorial board has also said it will stop using the team’s name, although it will still be used in the rest of the paper, including the sports section.

In June, a panel of the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office canceled the team’s trademark registration because it considers its name and logo disparaging. The team has appealed the decision in federal court.

(Reporting by Alina Selyukh; Editing by Ros Krasny and Dan Grebler)

Foes blast M’ville fireworks; a few speak out for them

By: Steve Powell, Marysville Globe


MARYSVILLE – Despite evidence to the contrary every July 4, more residents favor a ban on fireworks than support continuing them.

That is according to an unscientific survey taken the past week by The Marysville Globe. After the City Council discussed options, including a ban, July 28, the Globe asked readers for their opinions.

By a wide margin, respondents favored a ban, but the few in opposition were just as passionate.

No ban needed

“I am very much against the fireworks ban,” said Ralph Woodall, who even had his front yard burned up by a safe and sane firework this year. “We enjoy them every year.”

Amy Burt added: “One of the events that the kids in our neighborhood look forward to every year is July 4th. It’s one day a year. I think it’s good for the community as it brings everyone together to share in the fun. We always clean up afterwards, too.”

Maribeth Woodall said it’s only once a year, and many organizations benefit from the sales of fireworks. “Let’s not ban all just because of a few,” she says. “It’s a special time, and we and many friends love the beauty and even the noise. I would hate to see it end.”

Pam Salas says: “The 4th of July is an American celebration of freedom, and one of the few times a year we get to feel like we have freedom. The 4th of July fireworks in Marysville bring families and neighbors together in celebration. My family, for example, had not celebrated a holiday together in 10 years. What the ability to have our own fireworks display did was bring my family from around the country together. They enjoyed it so much that we all want to make it a yearly event.”

Lance Van Winkle got upset with some council members not wanting to get public input on the issue. He said he sometimes gets irritated by it all.

“Then I realize it’s once a year. It’s a celebration of our country’s freedom, and it maybe means more than it seems on the surface,” he says in an email. “Your ban rant seems ridiculous” considering all of the fireworks sold in the area.

Van Winkle said the council should focus on more important things.

“Why not focus your limited resources on things like panhandlers, drug dealers, thieves, vagrants and the like that we citizens put up with every day, not just once a year. Let people ‘blow off’ a little steam,” he says.

Most favor ban

But a wide majority of the almost 30 respondents agreed with Shelly Baker.

“Every year on the Fourth of July it is literally like a war zone around here. And these are not the safe and sane ones – we know they were all at Boom City buying theirs. The mess left behind that nobody seems to think is important to clean up (and this is a nice neighborhood), the trauma to pets, and not being able to go to sleep until sometimes well after midnight is a problem for many.”

Baker said a ban would be hard to enforce. “At the very least it would likely curb some of it, but I am skeptical that it will ever go away,” she wrote in an email to The Globe.

Donna Trevino had similar sentiments.

“It’s like a war zone all around my house with people at almost every home, out in front of their house shooting off fireworks, with no knowledge of what they are doing. Some are shooting off sideways, barely missing people and children. If you have a fireworks display from one place in Marysville, where people could go and watch, that would be fine. But this FREE-FOR-ALL has got to STOP.”

Other respondents had many reasons for wanting a ban.

“I get asthma from the smoke. My dog has to take medicine. In my neighborhood the fireworks start on June 23 and go to about July 6,” Joanne Thorleifson says.

Royann Almond’s email says: “All fireworks should be banned for the safety of our city! Since the houses being burned down cannot be traced back to origin, outlawing all, could solve noise, air pollution, bodily harm, frightened animals and property!”

Morgan Magaoay says: “These are no longer just firecrackers, they are bombs. There is no regard to property and safety for people and the suffering of animals.”

Goes on too long

Other respondents focused on singular issues. Many say they can handle fireworks on the Fourth, but not weeks before and after.

Jeri Williams said fireworks are shot off illegally long before and after the 4th. “They shoot them off day and night,” Williams says, adding she also supports a ban to ease the enforcement load on the fire and police departments.

Wendy Clark said she doesn’t like fireworks going off June 15 to July 15, nor from Dec. 1 to Jan. 15.

“We are forced to sedate our dog on many of these evenings as she becomes so stressed and emotionally frantic that nothing short of knocking her out gives her any relief,” Clark’s email says.

She says this year’s Fourth far exceeded the prior three years’ noise, “booms” and acrid smell. The magnitude in amount, duration, scope and intensity was “injurious, unfriendly, inconsiderate and very unfortunate.”

She added, “Boom City was not responsible for ALL of this objectionable hullabaloo.”

“Our Independence Day and New Year’s Eve holiday celebrations should include more than terror and fear. Maybe we need to encourage more focus on the TRUE meanings behind these celebrations: our independence, the service of the men and women in the military, the dedication of our veterans, and the many freedoms and liberties we enjoy by living in the United States of America,” she says.

Others said the true meaning of the holiday is being lost.

Kathy Franzwa says, “Most of them are not celebrating our freedom–-they’re looking for an excuse to make obnoxious noise with callous disregard for our veterans and animals. There were many times this summer when the cannon-like explosions seemed to be in my back yard.”

Phyllis and Bob Mennenga say: “Some people just don’t know when to quit. Go to a fireworks show if you like them so much.”

Others said illegals fireworks on the Tulalip Reservation should be banned. However the city does not have jurisdiction over the reservation.

Ed Mohs says: “Ban the illegal, Tulalip Tribe Boom City-type fireworks. People in general are disrespectful and light fireworks at all hours of the night prior to and after the Fourth.”

Sheri and Pat Boober say: “I believe that Marysville should ban the Tulalip Indian fireworks stands being able to sell unsafe fireworks,” their email says. “There simply is no reason for people to have to have their houses shake for practically the whole month of July.”

John Muller says Marysville should ban fireworks like other cities have. “Just think about the peace of mind and the funds that could be saved to use on other projects within the city,” he says in an email. He added that the cost to the city each year is great, with fire department calls, injuries, aid cars and property damage. “The local indian tribe would not welcome any ban, but so be it,” Muller says. “They may do as they wish on tribal land, even open a fireworks park.”

Going to extremes

Some respondents go to the extreme to avoid problems.

David Bartos says: “We are forced to leave town over the 4th, not only because we do not like the excessive fireworks but one of our two dogs is absolutely terrified the entire time.”

Bartos said the lasting effects of the 4th are ridiculous.

“We heard some booms close to our house as recently as Aug. 1, four weeks after the 4th!” he says in his email. “Also in several areas within a five-block radius of our house, the mess in the street is terrible; it is still there, and no one cleans it up.”

Kay Anthony said: “I live in fear every year that my house will catch fire. I pray for rain every year, and most years it is very dry. I should not have to worry about my house burning down and tranquilize my pet for irresponsible people to get an expensive few minutes of thrill.”

Anthony added that since there are organized fireworks shows nearby, the city should not waste its money on a local display. “Funds can be better spent,” she says in an email.

Still others take it even further.

“It has made us think about moving,” Linda Hughes Freeth says. “It was so bad we spent the night in a hotel as it was too stressful to be at home.”

It wasn’t any better when she returned.

“On the 5th, we had to deal with all the debris on our lawn and cars. Even today, as I walk our dog in the neighborhood, I am still seeing remnants of the fireworks strewn on the sidewalks, lawns and street.”

She recommended that the city work with the Tulalip Tribes to have a show on the reservation.

Other respondents said they would be open to a show or having certain areas where people could shoot off personal fireworks.

Fred Schiefelbein wouldn’t mind a few designated spots where people could shoot them off with supervision. “I have seen my share of fireworks with three tours in Vietnam, and when people start shooting off a week before and a week after the fourth it gets a little old.”

Barbara Turpin says she stays at home on the Fourth to protect her house from fireworks. She says illegal fireworks should be banned. “I think the council is afraid to ruffle feathers; law should be law, illegal is illegal,” she says. For the future, “Maybe not doing fireworks at the (Strawberry) festival and making a combined celebration with fireworks on the 4th,” she says in an email.

Along with shooting them off too many days, the other big issue was people not cleaning up after themselves.

Don’t clean up

Dan Hennessey says: “Every year the block next to mine has a huge neighborhood ‘display’ that lasts for a few hours on the night of the 4th. The ‘carnage’ of fireworks litter is absolutely incredible the following morning. One elderly couple’s home had their yard so covered in this litter the green grass was barely showing through as they were out raking and bagging all the leftovers their considerate neighbors donated. I asked them if this was recurring, and the answer was six years ongoing.”

Bonnie Stevens says: “Each 4th of July our trees and home are covered with dangerous fireworks! This year we found a balloon-type object hanging in one of our trees (it comes with a candle attached).”

Herman Moya says: “We do not mind the safe and sane fireworks but not the quarter stick of dynamite ones. They just shake the house. The next morning I have to clean up the spent fireworks from my driveway, front yard and back yard. I have to use a roof rake to remove them from my roof. I am 75 and too old to get on my roof. I have to remove them from my rain gutters. The local kids started two weeks before the 4th: Bang, bang, bang for hours. I called the Marysville police, and they immediately came and talked with the kids. They stopped but were at it again in a few days.”

Carol Whitney said the Marysville Police Department would not enforce a ban if one was passed.

“What we need to do is hold the MPD accountable to enforce the ban/limited use law already on the books. If they took that law seriously then the fireworks would not be the huge problem that they are right now.”

Mary Anne Jones did a great job of summarizing the issue: “I am certainly all for showing our love of country, but here in Marysville, I think, some have gone beyond that. Even tonight, I hear the bang of fireworks. They have been blasted around in our area since June 6 every evening until about midnight, keeping my nerves on end and my dog shivering under the bed until wee hours of the morning. My husband often has to drive to a quiet park away from Marysville so that the little dog will go potty.

“I wonder, though, in this day and age, could we really enforce a ban? So many don’t care about what is legal. It is about what they want. I guess I would like to see the ban on private fireworks and police action to back it up properly. I think a community firework display on the 4th of July could be a good answer.”

Groups Seek Ban Of Older Oil Train Tankers

By: Associated Press


SEATTLE (AP) — Two environmental groups are asking the U.S. Department of Transportation to immediately ban shipments of volatile crude oil in older railroad tank cars, citing recent explosive oil train wrecks and the department’s own findings that those accidents pose an “imminent hazard.”

The petition filed Tuesday by the Sierra Club and ForestEthics seeks an emergency order within 30 days to prohibit crude from the Northern Plains’ Bakken region and elsewhere from being carried in the older tank cars, known as DOT-111s.

Accident investigators have reported the cars rupture or puncture even in wrecks at slow speeds.

The Obama administration has said it will propose a new rule this month governing tank cars, which could include retrofits of older models cars and tougher standards for new ones.

But that “will take too long to address the imminent hazard posed by use of dangerous DOT-111 tank cars to ship crude oil,” according to the petition, which the law firm Earthjustice filed on behalf of the two groups.

It could take a year before a rule is finalized. In the meantime, the shipments are putting small towns and major cities along the rail lines at risk, the petition said.

Transportation Department spokesman Ryan Daniels said the agency cannot comment on whether an outright ban is under consideration, because a formal rule-making process for the older tank cars already is underway.

Since 2008, derailments of oil trains in the U.S. and Canada have seen the 70,000-gallon tank cars break open and ignite on multiple occasions, resulting in huge fireballs. A train carrying North Dakota crude in DOT-111s crashed into a Quebec town last summer, killing 47 people.

“We need to get them off the tracks as soon as possible. I’d like to see a moratorium,” said Ben Stuckart, city council president in Spokane, Washington, where as many as 17 mile-long oil trains pass through the county in a typical week.

In New York, Albany County Executive Dan McCoy said he wants to see those older tank cars replaced with safer models. “They really should ban them across the board, and go with the newer models,” he said.

Problems with the older tank cars have been cited by safety advocates since the mid-1990s. In April, outgoing National Transportation Safety Board Chairman Deborah Hersman urged quicker action on pending tank car rules. She warned that a “higher body count” could result from further delay.

Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx in May advised companies to avoid using the older cars to carry the volatile oil from the Bakken region of North Dakota, Montana and parts of Canada. But the step was voluntary, and the older tank cars continue to be used.

Shippers in North America use about 65,000 so-called “legacy” tank cars to carry flammable liquids, including more than 25,000 for crude, according to industry representatives.

The vast majority of those cars deliver their shipments safely, said Tom Simpson, president of the Railway Supply Institute, which represents the companies that make, own and use the tank cars.

“They are not rolling time bombs. They are not Pintos on rails,” said Simpson said, referring to the older model Ford cars known to catch fire in accidents.

Since 2011, more than 10,000 tank cars with more protective shells and other improved safety features have been put into service under a voluntary industry standard. Simpson said further upgrades could be made over the next decade, and older cars found to be unfit for service eventually will be retired by their owners.

Regulators in Canada have moved more aggressively on the issue than their U.S. counterparts. In April, Transport Canada ordered railroads to phase out older cars within three years.

San Francisco Giants considering ban on culturally insensitive attire

AP Photo/Don Boomer
AP Photo/Don Boomer


By: July 9, 2014, USA Today Sports


The San Francisco Giants are considering a policy that could prohibit fans from wearing items such as fake headdresses in what American Indian activist Suzan Shown Harjo believes would be a first for a major-league sports franchise.

The proposed policy, which is still in the working stages, could potentially say that fans who wear culturally insensitive attire to games or use culturally insensitive language could be asked to stop by Giants security or potentially be asked to leave the stadium.

Staci Slaughter, Giants senior vice president, communications, and senior advisor to the CEO, said the Giants have policies about obscene language and offensive signs.

“We are considering expanding the policy to be more explicit about culturally insensitive signs and articles of clothing,” she told USA TODAY Sports
“I don’t want to overstate where we are,” she added. “We haven’t finalized the language. We are still in the process of revising it.”

The proposed policy comes after an incident at a Giants game last month when two Native Americans approached a group of men who were passing around a fake headdress to tell them it was disrespectful. One of the Native Americans asked for the headdress and then declined to return it. Security was called and the Native Americans were detained but not arrested. The incident occurred on Native American Heritage Night.

“We met with some folks as a result of the incident,” Slaughter said. “What we’re looking at is not just specific to Native Americans. We have a desire to educate folks. The reason we do these heritage nights is to raise the awareness of the diversity of our region.”

Some fans of sports teams with Indian-themed names have long attended games wearing feathers and war paint.

“It is not acceptable for anyone to wear blackface anymore,” said Jacqueline Keeler, a founder of Eradicating Offensive Native Mascotry. “So why is it acceptable for fans to come to stadiums dressed in redface? The clowning of our culture must stop.”

Keeler’s cousin, Kimball Bighorse, is one of the American Indians who was detained in the incident at the Giants game and Keeler said Bighorse has been among those meeting with Giants officials about what they could do to prevent future incidents.

The proposed policy comes at a time when Indian team names are a flash point in the broader culture. Much of the attention has centered on the Washington NFL club, whose federal trademark registrations were canceled last month in a case that the team’s attorney said will be appealed.

Harjo, who launched the first of two trademark cases in 1992 and who has followed the issue of Indian mascots for decades, said she has not heard of any other pro franchise that has a policy like the one the Giants are considering.

“The teams with so-called Indian identities should take note and follow suit,” Harjo said. “But owners who are in the business of the commoditization of Indians are not really in a position to ask anyone else to tone it down.”

The National Congress of American Indians and Oneida Indian Nation said in a joint statement: “It is encouraging to know that this highly successful sports franchise is willing to address the cultural insensitivity that occurred within their ballpark. … Instead of ignoring these issues, the San Francisco Giants are exploring a method to create a respectful and welcoming environment.”

USA TODAY Sports contacted the Atlanta Braves, Cleveland Indians, Kansas City Chiefs and Chicago Blackhawks in the spring for a story about how pro teams other than the Washington NFL club were responding to criticism of Indian-themed team names and imagery. Among the questions asked: “Fans of teams with Indian names often dress as pretend Indians, with painted faces and feathers. Are you comfortable with your fans doing that?” None of those franchises answered the question.

Big Victory As Court Upholds Small Towns’ Right To Ban Fracking

New York Court of Appeals says local communities can ban controversial oil and gas drilling methods. such as fracking.


Perforating tools, used to create fractures in the rock, are lowered into one of six wells during a roughly two-week hydraulic fracturing operation at an Encana Corp. well pad near Mead, Colo. (AP/Brennan Linsley)
Perforating tools, used to create fractures in the rock, are lowered into one of six wells during a roughly two-week hydraulic fracturing operation at an Encana Corp. well pad near Mead, Colo. (AP/Brennan Linsley)


By Nadia Prupis, Mint Press News


In a victory for fracking opponents, towns in New York today won the right to ban oil and gas production operations from their communities. The ruling may have widespread effects on the drilling industry as towns continue to file moratoriums on the environmentally harmful process.

The decision sets a precedent for environmental activists in New York as more than 170 of the state’s other municipalities wait for legal action to be taken on anti-fracking measures in their communities as well. Towns in Colorado, Ohio, California, Pennsylvania and Texas are also beginning to pursue oil and gas production bans, public interest law firm Earthjustice reports.

The New York Court of Appeals ruled 5-2 that the communities of Dryden and Middlefield can use zoning laws to prohibit heavy industry within municipal borders. The decision rested in large part on preserving the quality of life and “small town character” of both towns, which are situated in rural areas of New York and have not been historically associated with the oil and gas industry.

Industrialization, particularly fracking, would “irreversibly overwhelm” the rural character of these communities, the court stated.

The seven-judge panel said that its ruling was not a statement on the safety of the controversial practice of fracking, but about the division of state and local government power.

“These appeals are not about whether hydrofracking is beneficial or detrimental to the economy, environment or energy needs of New York, and we pass no judgment on its merits,” Associate Judge Victoria Graffeo wrote for the majority opinion.

“These are major policy questions for the coordinate branches of government to resolve. The discrete issue before us, and the only one we resolve today, whether the State Legislature eliminated the home rule capacity of municipalities to pass zoning laws that exclude oil, gas and hydrofracking activities in order to preserve the existing character of their communities,” she said.

Still, many activist groups see the decision as a victory for the environment.

“The decision by the Court of Appeals has settled the matter once and for all across New York State and has sent a firm message to the oil and gas industry,” said Earthjustice managing attorney Deborah Goldberg.

Dryden recently garnered the attention of the natural gas industry for its proximity to the Marcellus Shale, a methane-heavy formation that covers large areas of land in New York, Pennsylvania, Ohio and West Virginia. Middlefield, while not in shale territory, is primarily an agricultural community that was recently evaluated as a potential natural gas resource.

Oklahoma High School Bans Eagle Feathers for Caps of Native Grads


Indian Country Today


School officials in Seminole County, Oklahoma, told Native American seniors at Seminole High School that they are prohibited from wearing eagle feathers on their graduation caps for Thursday’s ceremony. The officials said that it would violate graduation guidelines.

But 25 Native seniors will walk across the stage on Thursday night, some vowing to wear the feathers anyway. “This is a way of expressing who we are,” Kaden Tiger told KFOR news. “I’m still going to wear it. I can’t take it off.  Can’t make me.”

Tiger was given the eagle feather for being an outstanding citizen of the Seminole Nation and has already tied it to his cap, along with tribal beads. “I wasn’t going to go by the rules anyway because it’s my right,” he said. “The accomplishment of completing high school is pretty big for me. That eagle feather represents what I’ve accomplished.”

Tiger's graduation cap (KFOR.com)
Tiger’s graduation cap (KFOR.com)


According to PublicSchoolReview.com, at least half of the school’s enrollment is American Indian. And the fact that its mascot, the Chieftains, wears a headdress and eagle feathers seems contradictory to some.

Amari White (Seminole, Creek, Choctaw and Chickasaw), a parent of one of the graduates said, “It does confuse me, that you use the Chieftain mascot, but you can’t honor it with a feather when you have it painted on the wall… it confuses me.”

Despite this confusion, school officials said that none of the students are allowed to wear embellishments on their mortarboards. “While we applaud the many accolades our students have received in their activities outside the school environment, our graduation ceremony is designed specifically to honor achievements attained under the district’s purview,” said Jeff Pritchard, the school’s superintendent, in a statement on Wednesday.


Read more at http://indiancountrytodaymedianetwork.com/2014/05/22/oklahoma-high-school-bans-eagle-feathers-caps-native-grads-154978

Bypassing ban on Sherman Alexie book: Buying it for Idaho students

Sherman Alexie:  Drive is on to supply copies of his young adult novel to students in Idaho school district which banned it from the curriculum. (Seattle Post-Intelligencer Photo by Mike Urban)
Sherman Alexie: Drive is on to supply copies of his young adult novel to students in Idaho school district which banned it from the curriculum. (Seattle Post-Intelligencer Photo by Mike Urban)

Source: Seattle P.I. Blog

Two young Washington state women are launching an effort to get copies of Sherman Alexie’s young adult novel, “The Absolutely True Diary of a Part Time Indian,” into the hands of teenagers in an Idaho school district that banned the book from its high school curriculum.

They are partnering with a teacher at Centennial High School in Meridian, Idaho; the school librarian; and a student who spoke up in defense of Alexie’s novel.  The semi-autobiographical novel tells of a 14-year-old Native American boy’s experience in an almost all-white high school.

The Meridian School Board voted 2-1 to exclude the book after parents objected to use of cuss words and references in the book to masturbation.

“The book is by a local author, it takes place partly in Idaho, deals with bullying and racial issues, it is fitting.  We were encouraged to see teachers speak out, and 350 students sign a petition, so . . . if they can’t have the book in their curriculum, let students read it on their free time.  Let’s give ‘em the book,” said Sara Baker, a University of Washington student.

She and friend Jennifer Lott of Spokane hope to pull off their book-buying plan in time for the Alexie books to be distributed on April 23, World Book Night.

“So far, between donated copies and donated dollars, we have about 25 books collected,” said Baker.  “Our goal is 100 but, ideally, we would like to have a copy for each of the 350 students who signed the petition.”

Baker and Lott are working with Stacy Lacy, a teacher who spoke out against the ban, and Brady Kissel, a student who presented 350 student signatures asking that “The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian” stay in the curriculum.

“It doesn’t seem like such a huge issue but censorship is something I’m very passionate about,” Kissel said in an email.

Those who wish to bypass the ban can send copies of Alexie’s book to Stacy Lacy, 12400 W. McMillan Road, Boise, ID 83713.

Or, if they wish to donate dollars to purchase the book, go to www.gofundme.com/89912g.

Alexie grew up on the Spokane Indian Reservation and later went to largely white schools.  The 14-year-old lead character in “Diary,” a native boy named Arnold Spirit, shares many of Alexie’s own experiences as a young boy.

The novel won a National Book Award for Young People’s Literature, and also captured the American Library Association’s 2009 Odyssey Award for the best new audio book for children and young adults.  It received glowing praise in The New York Times Book Review.

Alexie now lives in Seattle.  He has written fiction and non-fiction as well as screenplays.

Talks Set In Beijing On West Coast Shellfish Ban

Geoduck clams harvested from Puget Sound, along with most shellfish from the West Coast of the U.S., have not been allowed into China. But an upcoming meeting in Beijing between U.S. and Chinese officials could ease that ban. | credit: Katie Campbell | rollover image for more
Geoduck clams harvested from Puget Sound, along with most shellfish from the West Coast of the U.S., have not been allowed into China. But an upcoming meeting in Beijing between U.S. and Chinese officials could ease that ban. | credit: Katie Campbell | rollover image for more


Ashley Ahearn, KUOW

SEATTLE — There are signs of a thaw in the icy trade relations between the United States and China over a Chinese ban on imported shellfish from the West Coast of the U.S.

Chinese officials have agreed to meet next week with U.S. counterparts to discuss China’s import ban on shellfish harvested from Alaska, Washington, Oregon and part of California.

China banned shellfish imports from most of the West Coast in December over concerns about contamination. The move has cost the shellfish industry in Washington hundreds of thousands of dollars.

Representatives from the U.S. National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration will be in Beijing March 21 to discuss China’s remaining concerns about shellfish imports. China instituted the ban when officials found high levels of arsenic and a naturally occurring biotoxin in two samples of geoduck.

The shellfish with high levels of biotoxin came from Ketchikan, Alaska.

The shellfish contaminated with arsenic were harvested near a site in Tacoma where a copper smelter operated along southern Puget Sound.

The smelter was in operation for 100 years and shellfish beds nearby were closed until 2007.

The state Department of Health did some follow-up testing on geoduck from the area and says the shellfish are safe to eat.

Most Peninsula tribal reservations will ban marijuana as it legalizes in state

By Arwyn Rice, Peninsula Daily News

If you live on or visit a reservation on the North Olympic Peninsula, don’t bring marijuana.

At least four of the six tribes in Clallam and Jefferson counties will not recognize Washington state’s 2012 legalization of recreational marijuana.

The use and possession of pot will remain illegal on tribal lands controlled by the Makah, Lower Elwha Klallam, Jamestown S’Klallam and Quileute tribes, their representatives told the Peninsula Daily News.

The Hoh tribe in West Jefferson County has yet to make a decision.

Representatives of the Quinault did not respond to Peninsula Daily News requests for information on their policy toward marijuana.

Voters statewide legalized pot by approving Initiative 502 a year ago by a 56 percent to 44 percent margin.

The state is finishing procedures and regulations on marijuana in non-tribal areas.

Pot remains illegal on federal lands, including Olympic National Park and Olympic National Forest.

“Like the state of Washington and the United States, the Makah tribe is a separate sovereign,” a letter from Makah tribal authorities to tribal members said.

“We have a treaty that confirms our sovereignty and self-determination.

“A big part of that sovereignty is that state laws do not apply to the tribe and its territory.

“As a state law, I-502 could not and does not legalize marijuana within the Makah Reservation.”

Both Makah and federal law lists marijuana as a controlled substance. Possessing, using, buying and selling it is a federal crime, and a tribal crime, said Meredith Parker, general manager of the Neah Bay-based Makah tribe.

“So, on the reservation, the answer is easy: Every little bit of pot is illegal,” the notice to tribal members said.

“We will continue to follow federal law. It is part of the tribal policy as well,” said Sam Hough, Lower Elwha Klallam assistant general counsel.

“It is already a dry reservation,” Hough added.

Likewise, marijuana will not be welcome at 7 Cedars Casino, Cedars at Dungeness and other properties held by the Jamestown S’Klallam tribe.

“We believe we are on reservation/trust land held by the United States on our behalf, and since marijuana is illegal by federal law, it is illegal on our lands,” said Ron Allen, Jamestown S’Klallam tribal chairman.

The Quileute tribe, based in LaPush, also will observe federal marijuana laws, said Jackie Jacobs, Quileute spokeswoman.

The Hoh tribe is holding off a decision, said James Jaime, the tribe’s executive director.

“We don’t have a policy at this point in time,” Jaime said.

“We are waiting to see what the federal policy is in regard to the state law.”

The Washington State Liquor Control Board, charged with creating state’s marijuana regulations, added a rule that requiring notification of tribal governments if a vendor applies for a permit on tribal land.

The Yakima tribe, with the largest reservation in the state at 1.2 million acres, recently announced that marijuana sales and consumption would not be allowed on their lands.

Brian Smith, spokesman for the state Liquor Control Board said new state rules have no prohibitions against issuing permits on the Yakama reservation, but such permits would be impractical

“Why grant a license when the federal government is going to come in and take them down?” Smith asked.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

Rethinking Plastics Campaign

Consequences of Convenience

Green Sangha, www.greensangha.org

We’re addicted to plastic, especially plastic bags.
If you are like 95% of US shoppers, whenever you purchase anything, it ends up in a plastic bag.  In the grocery store, most of us put our vegetables and fruits as well as bulk items into single-use plastic produce bags, and all those bags end up in a single-use plastic check-out bag.

Shoppers worldwide are using 500 billion to one trillion single-use plastic bags per year.
This translates to about a million bags every minute across the globe, or 150 bags a year for every person on earth.  And the number is rising.

“But plastic bags are so convenient!”
It depends on how far you are looking.  A plastic bag may be convenient for a minute or two when you carry something out of the store, but consider these costs:

  • Plastic bags are made from a non-renewable resource: oil!
    An estimated 3 million barrels of oil are required to produce the 19 billion plastic bags used annually in California.
  • Greenhouse gas emissions
    Plastic manufacturing’s air pollution contributes to “global weirding” (extreme weather of all sorts).
  • Non-biodegradable
    Plastic is food for no one.  It never completely breaks down.
  • Litter
    We see bags hanging on trees, along the roadside, slipping down the storm drain, and floating in the ocean.  Even when we do put them in the garbage, they don’t always make it to the landfill.  47% of landfill blow-away trash is plastic.
  • Toxicity
    Manufacturing plastic releases toxins in the air, as does recycling plastic.  The additives used in plastic are often toxic and can leach into our food.  The surface of plastic is chemically attractive to some of the worst toxins in our environment (e.g., PCBs and pesticide metabolites).
  • Harm to Marine Life
    An estimated 100,000 marine mammals and turtles, one million seabirds, and countless fish worldwide are killed by plastic rubbish each year.
  • Choking the ocean
    Beaches on every continent are littered with plastic scraps and particles.  In a 2008 surface trawl of the North Pacific Gyre, 46 pounds of plastic were found for every pound of zooplankton.
  • We’re eating plastic
    Fine particles of plastic are taken in by filter-feeders in the ocean.  These plastic-laden creatures are then eaten by larger animals and plastics work their way up the food chain, all the way to our seafood menu.

Green Sangha’s Work

Since 2006, our actions have included:

  • Co-leading a successful campaign to ban plastic check-out bags in Fairfax, California
  • Working with markets in the SF Bay Area to reduce or eliminate plastic produce bags, saving an estimated 8 tons of plastic per year
  • Giving over 280 presentations to over 8500 citizens
  • Publishing articles in local newspapers and magazines
  • Showing our plastics display in scores of festivals, conferences, and other public gatherings
  • Testifying before elected councils and boards

What You Can Do

  1. Be the Change
  2. Share
  3. Join the Campaign. Sign up for our Email Newsletter to read about current actions and starting one in your community.
  4. Support Our Work. Donate to help us spread the word and produce more videos, raising awareness and catalyzing real change.

Working Together

Tell us your ideas and wishes for your locality, and we can multiply our results. We can speed the “Great Turning” away from the model of industrial waste and pollution, and instead move toward sustainable communities.