U.S. anti-drug campaign ignores alcohol

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When President Clinton authorized the $1 billion “National Youth Anti-Drug Media Campaign” everybody (except teenagers) was excited. It turns out the ads aren’t half-bad (though I’m not sure the ad titled “The power of a Grandpa” would score well with the rave crowd.)

Now critics are calling for a change. It’s not the ads themselves that’s gotten folks upset, it’s what’s missing. According to the CHRISTIAN SCIENCE MONITOR, the American Academy of Pediatrics, Mothers Against Drunk Driving, and “dozens of [other] groups” are calling for the campaign to include anti-alcohol ads.

A spokesman at the Office on National Drug Control Policy (ONDCP), which is in charge of the anti-drug campaign, countered, “We have to act as if we were Nike.” In other words, they have a limited amount of money and need to keep the ad campaign focused.

A good point. So why doesn’t Congress allocate some more funds for alcohol-awareness?



U.S. nuke funding stuck at cold-war levels

June 10

The GLOBAL BEAT SYNDICATE reports that Russia’s failure to ratify the arms reduction agreement known as START II, has motivated the U.S. congress to mandate the US maintain its nuclear arsenal at Cold War levels, which will cost billions of dollars.

The article argues that Russia is a position to maintain its nuclear arsenal — in fact it’s reducing the number of nuclear weapons because of a lack of funding. Meanwhile the US position is a needless sacrifice of billions of dollars to a Cold War reality which now exists only on paper.



Automakers skirt pollution deal

June 9

The Big Three automakers — General Motors, DaimlerChrysler, and Ford, may have a “gentleman’s agreement” not to compete with one another over environmental improvements to their vehicles, according to Ralph Nader in the SAN FRANCISCO BAY GUARDIAN.

The automakers have been on the receiving end of a series of policy softballs, Nader says, which have essentially absolved them of responsibility to reduce emissions on their vehicles for the past three decades

Taxpayers now bankroll the $1 billion The Clean Car Initiative, which obligates the carmakers to develop new environmentally friendly technologies. But Nader claims the carmakers are dragging their collective feet on environmental advances. When Ford began marketing a truck which meets the emission standards in place for cars, the other two carmakers reportedly were angry. Antitrust investigation, anyone?



Lab to clone endangered species

June 8

Here’s where every eugenics-fearing environmentalist begins to feel a little conflicted: Researchers in Australia are preparing to use “nuclear transfer” cloning technology to save that continent’s rarest mammal from extinction, according to the ENVIRONMENTAL NEWS SERVICE.

The world population of Northern hairy-nosed wombats — which resemble miniature, furry hippopotamuses — is now down to 80 animals in the wild and none in captivity. Endangered species researcher Monique Wolvekamp (whose fabulously onomatopoeic name alone qualifies her for something) and her team hope to turn the animal’s fate around by using small cell samples from existing specimens, and implanting their nuclei in eggs taken from common wombats. This method is similar to the one used at the University of Hawaii last month to clone a male mouse.

If the experiment is successful, the innovation may be a savior for other endangered species the world over. Wolvekamp says cloning is “a novel assisted reproductive technology to save … endangered species from extinction.”



Global warming melts Himalayan glaciers

June 7

Glaciers cover roughly 17 percent of the Himalayas — and if you’re going trekking there anytime soon, make sure to get a few photos, because they won’t be around long. The latest issue of NEW SCIENTIST reports that global warming is causing the Himalayan Glaciers to retreat faster — some at the rate of 30 meters per year — than glaciers in any other part of the world. At that pace, all the glaciers in the central and eastern Himalayas could disappear by 2035.

But it’s not just Australian backpackers who are going to get screwed — meltwater from the glaciers is expected to wreak havoc on the Ganges and other rivers that millions of people depend on. The dimished flow from the glaciers, which currently account for for two-thirds of the volume of those rivers, is “expected to result in widespread water shortages.”

In the meantime, dozens of unstable meltwater lakes — which can burst and cause massive flash floods — have formed at the base of the glaciers. Researchers predict that the Imja glacier lake, which is in a national park popular with trekkers, will burst within five years.




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