Cuba caravan blocked

The Pastors for Peace Caravan to Cuba that passed through Bloomington on July 11 to pick up material humanitarian aid, particularly special needs technology like wheelchairs and hearing aids, was stopped at the U.S./Mexican border and computers and electronics were seized by the Department of Commerce at the behest of the State Department.

The first bus to reach the border was off-loaded of most anything electronic. A second bus was unloaded by the Caravanistas themselves and supplies were taken over the border on foot. Two buses have crossed into Mexico.

The rest of the Caravan has regrouped and set up an encampment about a half-mile from the international bridge. Tents, chairs, lights, water, and coolers were provided by the Hidalgo, Texas, police chief. The supplies had been on hand in anticipation of Hurricane Emily.

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New wellness course

The Wellness Recovery Action Program (W.R.A.P.) will be conducting a course on July 29 that shares self-help strategies for the benefit of individuals or families with behavioral, emotional, or psychiatric challenges, as well as for providers of therapeutic services.

A minimum of 13 and a maximum of 20 participants is necessary to hold the training session, so those interested should register quickly for the event, which is free of charge and open to the public.

To learn more about the session scheduled for July 29 from 10 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. in the first floor conference room at the One City Center at 120 W. 7th St., call (812) 339-1551.

Films on ANWR

Two films concerning the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge and the latest legislative attempts to drill for oil in the Alaskan wilderness, as well as alternative choices to the Bush budget proposal, will be shown at the Monroe County Public Library next week.

Oil on Ice, narrated by Peter Coyote, contains footage from speeches by both Bush regimes and corporatists on the Senate floor for drilling in ANWR, an update on the damage caused by the Exxon-Valdez oil spill, and the advantages of hybrid vehicles.

Being Caribou details the migration of the Porcupine Caribou herd from Canada to their calving grounds on the northern slope of Alaska.

A short Caribou Baby Shower will follow the films' showing from 6:30-8:30 p.m. in the Library Auditorium on August 2.

Mercury rising

The Leahy-Collins resolution, advanced on June 29 by Sen. Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.) and Susan Collins (R-Maine), would nullify the Bush administration's mercury plan and force the EPA to draft a new rule in accordance with current law.

The Bush administration has put forth two rules favored by industry.

First, the "delisting rule" removes power plants from the list of sources subject to strict controls for their emissions of mercury and other air pollutants.

Second, "cap and trade" rule allows power plants, the largest man-made source of mercury emissions, to buy and trade the right to pollute. This contributes to "hot spots" or particularly dangerous areas around plants that choose to buy credits rather than reduce their emissions.

Current law requires power plants to reduce their emissions to the maximum achievable extent, about 90 percent, by 2008. The Bush plan delays modest mercury reductions until 2018.

Mercury is a potent neurotoxin that affects the brain, heart, and the immune system. Low-level exposures can result in learning disabilities, developmental delays, and other problems. Children and fetuses are especially vulnerable to mercury contamination.

EPA scientists estimate that 1/6th of women have enough mercury in their bodies to put their unborn children at risk. A national advisory has been issued concerning the danger to women capable of bearing children from consuming tuna and other varieties of fish that can be high in mercury.

Indiana is also in the top 10 states in the nation with levels of mercury so high in their wild fish populations that citizens are advised to not eat fish caught in their local water bodies.To learn more:

Mylo Rose can be reached at