Thomas P. Healy

Anti-war activist will speak at peace summit

March 28, 2007

Since the death of her son Casey in Iraq, Cindy Sheehan has traveled the globe as a citizen diplomat and peace activist in search for justice.

"I want justice for my son," she tells audiences. "I want justice for the others who have been killed and for the troops that have been wounded physically and mentally. I want justice for Iraq, and I don't want it to happen again."

Sheehan will bring her passionate message to Indiana when she delivers the Plowshares keynote address at 8 p.m. Friday, April 13, as part of the third annual Midwest Peace and Justice Summit on the IUPUI campus in Indianapolis.

January 14, 2007

Hoosiers are being threatened by radical legislation and administrative proposals that would strengthen their status as one of the country's most polluted states and set bad precedents for nationwide efforts to curb pollution by increasing recycling.

Proposed Senate Bill 154 would require the Environmental Quality Service Council (EQSC) to study and make findings and recommendations regarding the meaning of recycling, with an eye toward including so-called "waste-to-energy definitions."

As reported in the last issue of The Bloomington Alternative, the expanded definition would allow burning of discarded automobile tires to create an industrial energy source.

December 31, 2006

In an unprecedented move, the Indiana Department of Environmental Management (IDEM) is seeking to alter the definition of what constitutes recycling by including incineration — specifically waste-to-energy projects.

Additionally, IDEM's Office of Pollution Prevention and Technical Assistance is establishing an integrated recycling plan with new guidelines that could undermine local government recycling programs, encourage more polluting industries in Indiana and divert limited funds from legitimate recycling operations.

The state's environmental community — especially members of the Indiana Recycling Coalition (IRC), a statewide nonprofit advocate for waste reduction and recycling — is concerned that such initiatives threaten existing recycling projects and send plans to expand them up in smoke.

At a mid-December Business Summit on Recycling Issues called by the IRC, stakeholders in resource reduction and reuse activities learned about these policy changes and heard about legislative initiatives that may be introduced in the upcoming session of the General Assembly.

November 5, 2006

If Middle Way House Executive Director Toby Strout has her way, it won't be long before rooftop gardens take root on the former Coca-Cola plant on Washington Street, just southeast of the Courthouse square.

All she has to do is convince the architect it's possible. That, and find a way to raise $4 million to pay for it.

"The architect said we could put a green roof only on the new construction," Strout tells a recent visitor to her compact office. "That's not good enough."

The women's advocacy group wants to establish a "green building" over the next three years as it redevelops the site into a mixed-use property for victims of domestic and sexual violence.

July 30, 2006

According to the latest figures from the Indiana Department of Environmental Management (IDEM), there is plenty of enthusiasm for Gov. Mitch Daniels' plan to double hog production in the state as part of his rural economic development strategy.

IDEM's report on construction permits issued between June 24 and July 24 for Confined Feeding Operations (CFOs) and/or Concentrated Animal Feeding Operations (CAFOs) lists facilities that together can house 40,760 finish pigs, 4,340 nursery pigs and 4,257 sows.

An additional report on pending applications as of July 24 details permit requests for facilities that could add more than 95,000 nursery pigs, 158,000 finishers and 22,000 sows to the state's animal population.

July 16, 2006

Claudia Peña Porretti has been appointed executive director of the ACLU of Indiana (ACLU-IN), an affiliate of the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU).

Porretti affirmed her support for the Bill of Rights at a July 12 press conference at ACLU-IN headquarters in Indianapolis.

"As an immigrant, I learned at a young age to appreciate the importance of civil liberties and civil rights," she said. "Working for the ACLU goes along with my values, my skills and my passion."

Joking about her "dual citizenship" as the daughter of a Cuban immigrant mother and a black father, Porretti said she brings a diverse professional background as well. "I've worked in the corporate sector, the legal sector, academia and the nonprofit sector."

July 2, 2006

Gov. Mitch Daniels' proposal to double pork production to stimulate rural Indiana economic development likely will result in degraded water quality.

"Promises Broken: CAFOs in Indiana," a new report prepared by the Hoosier Chapter of the Sierra Club, details the impact an increase in Concentrated Animal Feeding Operations (CAFOs) will have on the Hoosier State's waterways.

According to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, Animal Feeding Operations (AFOs) are agricultural operations where animals are kept and raised in confined situations. Qualification as a Concentrated AFO is based on the type and number of animals a facility confines and the amount of pollutants it discharges to surface water.

June 18, 2006

On June 14, the day American casualties in Iraq hit 2,500, a reporter asked White House spokesman Tony Snow for the president's response.

"It's a number," Snow said. "And every time there's one of these 500 benchmarks, people want something."

That same afternoon, peacemakers from around the state gathered on the south lawn of Veterans Memorial Plaza in downtown Indianapolis and filled a 100-square-foot section with American flags — one for each fallen soldier.

Glancing around the area, twice-wounded Vietnam War veteran Harold Donle wanted to know something. "Why are these 2,500 dead?" Without waiting for a reply, he supplied his own: "Because they were lied into a war."

May 21, 2006

As a young activist committed to the struggle against racism, sexism, imperialism and endless war, 24-year-old Dan Berger was profoundly influenced by reading about the radical political organization Weatherman. The group took its name from the Bob Dylan song "Subterranean Homesick Blues," its politics from the many national liberation movements of the of the 1960s and '70s (Cuba and Vietnam) and its mores from the global youth counterculture (sex, drugs and rock 'n' roll).

While still in high school, Berger began corresponding with political prisoner David Gilbert, a founding member of Weatherman, who is serving a life-sentence in federal prison for his role as a driver in a 1981 armed robbery in which two Brinks guards and a policeman died.

"He was arrested five weeks before I was born," Berger said in a recent phone conversation. His relationship with Gilbert changed the course of his life as well as his political outlook. "Fundamentally what it means to be an activist is to work for change based on the hope, on the belief, that what we do does make a difference."

May 7, 2006

Ask your doctor. That's why the pharmaceutical companies collectively known as "Big Pharma" spend billions of dollars each year in direct-to —consumer advertising. Whether you're insured, underinsured or uninsured, they want to convince you that you need to ask a doctor for the nostrums and potions they produce.

Global sales for the top five pharmaceutical companies topped $550 billion in 2004, according to the Media Education Foundation's new film, Big Bucks, Big Pharma: Marketing Disease & Pushing Drugs. The documentary takes a critical look at an industry that often appears to put private profits ahead of public health.

On May 1, Bloomington Hospital played host to the Midwest premiere of a pre-release version of the film, thanks to the efforts of emergency room physician Rob Stone and his wife, Karen, co-founders of Hoosiers for a Commonsense Health Plan (...). As part of "Cover the Uninsured Week," they brought the film's director, Ronit Ridberg, to town to lead a discussion after the screening.

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