Thomas P. Healy
Wendell Berry will be in Bloomington Nov. 9-11 to read from his work and participate in a discussion with Wes Jackson and Scott Russell Sanders as part of the Patten Lecture series. Berry spoke with Thomas P. Healy from his northern Kentucky farm prior to the November elections.
TPH: You're going to be giving the Patten Lecture in Bloomington, and I wanted to see if you'd given any thought to what you'd be discussing in that lecture.
WB: To tell you the truth, I haven't. There are a number of possibilities, I'm not going to write a lecture, I've already told them that, and I may be reading a piece of fiction. I just don't know.
Photojournalist Adam Reynolds was happy to see the FedEx truck pull up recently. He'd been anxiously awaiting the return of the tools of his trade -- camera, laptop and iPod -- that were confiscated by Yemen authorities in April.
The Bloomington native and another freelance journalist, Heather Murdock, were deported at the end of April from the country located at the tip of the Saudi Arabian peninsula. The official reason for their expulsion was that they were traveling without permits. "We wanted to visit southern Yemen to interview members of the secessionist Southern Movement," Reynolds said. "And there was no way the government would have permitted that."
INDIANAPOLIS -- In his capacity as the 2010 national winner of the Eugene & Marilyn Glick Indiana Authors Award, Scott Russell Sanders spent the day here recently, making the rounds of media outlets. Over lunch, the professor emeritus of English at Indiana University talked about retirement, the culture of books, real wealth and the common good.
TPH: Which library did you pick to be the beneficiary of the award? [In addition to receiving a $10,000 personal prize, Sanders gets to select a library to receive $2,500.]
SRS: Monroe County Public Library. It’s a great dimension of the award in that it explicitly recognizes the importance of public libraries, the culture of books and what’s involved in nurturing a society where the reading and writing of books is taken seriously. And by books, it doesn’t really matter to me what medium people read in. I distinguish between the nature of the delivery system and what it is that’s being delivered. I will always prefer reading a book to reading something that’s on the screen. But I’m perfectly willing to believe that another person can get as rich an experience from reading the screen -- maybe prefers the screen.
Former Pentagon and State Department analyst Daniel Ellsberg knows a lot about the lies politicians from both major parties use to generate support for unpopular and costly wars.
He also knows something about warrantless wiretapping, having been a victim of the Nixon administration's efforts to intimidate and silence the outspoken critic of Vietnam War.
Though it felt awkward asking him for permission to tape our recent phone conversation, he readily agreed. Since the host of his upcoming will be ACLU-Indiana, we began our conversation with that topic.
TPH: The theme of the ACLU-Indiana banquet that you will address is: "Restore American Democracy: A Call for Change." What kind of changes will you be calling for?
In 1970, while heading President Richard Nixon’s National Security Council, Henry Kissinger said, “Control oil and you control nations; control food and you control people.”
So what happens in an era when fuel is made from food instead of oil?
According to Jean Ziegler, United Nations special rapporteur on the right to food, you get a “crime against humanity.” In a report to the U.N. General Assembly in August 2007, Ziegler called for a five-year moratorium on the use of food crops for fuel, saying the practice would increase the cost of food, spur food shortages and lead to a “catastrophe” for the poor. He called for production of biofuel and biodiesel from agricultural waste rather than from food crops like wheat, corn and sugar cane.
Once again the Daniels administration has opted to protect the financial interests of polluters at the expense of public health. The most recent evidence was the Indiana Air Pollution Control Board’s (APCB) 11-1 vote at its Oct. 3 meeting to adopt the minimum federal Clean Air Mercury Rule (CAMR).
Under terms of the rule, Indiana-based coal-fired power plants might cut mercury emissions by 66 percent by 2018. The key word is “might” because a provision known as “cap-and-trade” allows plant operators to bank and/or sell emission credits, which would stretch out actual compliance to 2025 or even beyond.
That wasn’t good enough for the board’s lone holdout, Philip S. Stevens. “It’s not that I’m against controlling mercury emissions,” Stevens said by phone from his Bloomington office, where he serves on the faculty of Indiana University’s School of Public and Environmental Affairs. “I didn’t want the public record to show unanimous support of the Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) rule because I felt it was not strong enough to protect human health.
Indiana’s “Dump Easterly” movement may not be a formal organization, but a growing number of Hoosiers throughout the state are agitating for a change at the Indiana Department of Environmental Management (IDEM).
Participants at the July 28 Hoosier Environmental Council Northwest Region Community Forum in Chesterton passed a resolution calling on the HEC board of directors to demand the resignation of IDEM’s commissioner, Thomas Easterly, “so that IDEM can resume its mission of environmental stewardship for the state of Indiana.”
Indiana made national news after IDEM granted a National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System (NPDES) permit to BP’s Whiting refinery that would allow the plant to discharge 1,584 pounds of ammonia and 4,925 pounds of suspended solids daily into Lake Michigan. The Chicago Tribune reported that the permit also allows BP to continue adding 2 pounds of the potent neurotoxin mercury to Lake Michigan until 2012.
Rural Indiana has been sacrificed to financial interests in Indianapolis, according to economist Bill Weida, director of the GRACE Factory Farm Project.
"The money, which could have created jobs throughout the state, has been centralized in Indianapolis, and the rest of the state is being treated like a sacrifice zone," he said.
Weida made his comments June 30 at a Hartford City gathering of citizens concerned about Gov. Mitch Daniels' plan to double pork production in the state. The previously unnamed group announced the establishment of www.indianacafowatch.com to help activists stay informed about the issue.
Characterizing the situation as "predatory," Weida said, "They're dumping pollution in one part of the state, and the economic benefit from it goes to another part of the state - in particular Indianapolis."
His remarks were greeted with enthusiastic applause from an audience that included few capital city residents.
On May 9, 31 states announced the creation of the Climate Registry - a voluntary, collaborative program to track greenhouse gas emissions and establish methods for verifying and reporting heat-trapping gases that contribute to global warming.
The fact that Indiana chose not to participate doesn't surprise John Blair, head of Valley Watch, the Evansville-based environmental group he founded in 1981 and still heads. But he asserts that the situation wouldn't be any different if Mitch Daniels weren't governor.
"The Democrats in this state are just as responsible as the Republicans for global warming, pollution and utility friendliness," he said.
Blair is a Pulitzer Prize-winning photographer with a history of engaging in civil disobedience when appeals to reason and fact fail. Since January, he has exchanged his bullhorn for the microphone, giving presentations about global warming based on training he received from Al Gore's Climate Project.
He recently gave The Bloomington Alternative insight into his Bloomington presentation, scheduled for May 23 at the Monroe County Public Library.
Since the Indiana General Assembly adjourned without passing legislation to regulate Concentrated Animal Feeding Operations (CAFOs) in the state, I propose a Hoosier variant to the Chinese calendar, which declares 2007 the Year of the Pig.
Let's call 2007 the Year of the CAFO.
Celebrations could take many forms. Jubilant agribusinessmen, unhampered by annoying rules and inspections, will spray plumes of untreated manure on saturated soils and expedite the flow of hormone- and antibiotic-laden waste into drainage tiles, where it can augment the abundant pollution in our state's waterways.