August 20, 2011

South-central and southwestern Indiana has buildings, roads and bridges built on apparently solid ground. Yet below the surface is a complex system of limestone caves, sinkholes, bedrock springs, conduits (caves humans can't fit into) and swallow holes (that take in water). This collection of surface and underground features is known as "karst." It has a kind of Swiss-cheese physiography.

Indiana's Monroe, Lawrence, Greene, Orange, Crawford, Harrison, Jennings, Jefferson, Owen and Putnam counties all contain karst. It's a distinctive characteristic of this area and worthy of interest and care.

August 18, 2011

In 1953, at the beginning of his presidency, Dwight D. Eisenhower gave a speech in which he said, "Every gun that is made, every warship launched, every rocket fired signifies, in the final sense, a theft from those who hunger and are not fed, those who are cold and are not clothed."

That quotation is apt today. According to the War Resisters League, the United States spends 59 percent of its budget on the military. When spending on veterans’ affairs and nuclear weapons programs are added, says, the grand total is $1.01–1.35 trillion spent on national defense in 2010.

August 12, 2011

The "Indiana prairie's last best chance" is a series about reuse plans for the Newport Chemical Depot in Vermillion County in far west-central Indiana. The base was built in 1942 to produce bombs for World War II. From the 1960s to 2005, the 7,100-acre installation produced and stored VX nerve agent. From 1994 to 2005, the Army allowed natural resource experts to restore on the base a rare, 336-acre, black-soil prairie of the type that existed in the region before settlement.

August 10, 2011

The tiny Indiana Bat, which is the size of a small mouse and weighs the same as a door key, has a wingspan of 10.5 inches. It normally lives 14 years, summers in the woodlands and hibernates in the caves of southern Indiana, as well as in the forests of 20 other states.

Since 1967 the Indiana Bat has been on the federal list of endangered species.

Cornel West and Tavis Smiley on the Debt Ceiling Agreement

August 9, 2011

Democracy Now!

AMY GOODMAN: On the heels of last week’s deficit agreement, which widely criticized – was widely criticized for excluding a tax hike on the wealthy, as well as any measures to tackle high unemployment, the Congressional Black Caucus has launched a month-long campaign to address staggering unemployment rates among African Americans. In Detroit, Cleveland and Los Angeles, two cities that are stops on the tour, the unemployment rates are in the 40 percent range. The caucus chair last week slammed the deficit deal as a "Satan sandwich" that unfairly harms African Americans. Meanwhile, the Washington Post reports Obama will embark on his own jobs tour that will take place in the middle of the caucus’s campaign.

August 9, 2011

Hoosier Environmental Council

INDIANAPOLIS - The Hoosier Environmental Council (HEC) today released "The Alarming Rise of Indiana Transportation Funding Dedicated to I-69," a policy paper detailing the fiscal shortfalls of the controversial construction project. HEC has been a 20-year critic of the I-69 project due to the damaging environmental impacts; however, this paper shines a light on the disproportionate percentage of available funding dedicated to its construction and what that means for other road and bridge funding needs throughout Indiana.

The new terrain I-69 highway will eat up one-fifth of available highway construction and maintenance funding from 2012 to 2014. In 2013 alone, the highway will consume nearly 30 percent of Indiana’s highway funds. The disproportionate percentage means many projects throughout the rest of Indiana will be stuck in “shovel ready” mode or never even leave the drawing board.

Kids are more susceptible to toxic pollution

August 6, 2011

I was reminded of the phrase "children are not little adults" this past week when an assistant commissioner from the Indiana Department of Environmental Management (IDEM) wrote a letter to NUVO in Indianapolis challenging a story I wrote titled "Indiana's toxic air affecting children." I was working as an environmental writer at IDEM in the late 1990s when agency officials began using that soundbite to explain why children were more vulnerable to the effects of toxic pollution than were, say, their parents.

At that time, practically everything IDEM's Media and Communication Services did revolved around was the notion that toxic pollution disproportionately impacted children's health. Ipso facto, polluters needed to clean up their acts. I recall being told that the chief lobbyist for some of the state's most venal polluters accused then-IDEM Commissioner John Hamilton of "playing the kid card" over our emphasis on children's environmental health.

It's hard to tell from the outside how much children's environmental health drives the IDEM agenda under Mitch Daniels, but the agency's Website and a story written for the Indiana Daily Student last year by one of my students suggests at least one program maintains the focus.

August 6, 2011

We gnomes always try to protect the natural treasures of Mother Earth. That's what gnomes do. But we're a little and old-fashioned, and our enemies have outgrown us. Many of those who exploit Mother Earth for valuable resources have grown to be such huge, powerful, greedy giants that they can slap aside anyone – even national governments – who try to restrain them. Agencies that were created to regulate them, such as the EPA, have been overwhelmed and neutered by their power.

That's why some of us gnomes have been discussing the need for an International Environmental Court to deal with global crimes against Mother Earth – the really brutal, heinous crimes, which are the moral equivalents of rape and murder. Two that certainly reach that level of depravity are mountaintop removal coal mining and gas fracking.

August 5, 2011

Imprisonment in this country means “systematic torture, endemic corruption, pervasive racial and class bias, the failure of the war on drugs, and the massive economic and social devastation it wreaks upon entire communities,” in the words of Black Agenda Report managing editor Bruce A. Dixon, writing on July 20.

Imprisonment can be a collection of abstractions to someone who hasn’t spent time incarcerated, but a new memoir describes the day-to-day, and sometimes minute-by-minute, existence of the incarcerated: Marshall “Eddie” Conway and Dominique Stevenson, Marshall Law: The Life and Times of a Baltimore Black Panther (Oakland: AK Press, 2011).

Aryan murders put entire state on lockdown; prisoners seek solidarity

July 30, 2011

Indiana Prisoner Solidarity

Editor's note: This statement was submitted and "written collaboratively between citizens on the inside and outside of Indiana prisons. The goal is to contribute to opposition and active resistance to all forms of domination, be they imposed directly by the state or manifested through structural inequalities and prejudices."


On the morning of July 16, an alleged white supremacist was stabbed and killed by two alleged Latin Disciples. The attack took place at Pendleton Correctional Facility in the maximum security area of the prison. The murder, coming on the heels of inmate murders at Miami Correctional Facility and Pendleton Correctional Facility earlier in the year, was the stated pretense for putting all institutions in the state on lockdown and conducting thorough, far-reaching searches.

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