GNN – Good News Network

Tired of turning on the radio or TV, or reading your daily paper and getting nothing but bad news?

Contrary to our daily corporate news experience there IS good news in the world. We just have to look for it. That’s what Good News Network hopes to provide – all good news, all the time. But we could also use your help – send your good news stories to mdobbin[at]telus.net with GNN at the start of the subject line.. Thanks to Elaine Hughes from Saskatchewan for contributing most of the following stories.

Last updated:  Sept 19

For full story, click on the headline

Kory Teneycke steps down from Sun TV

OTTAWA — The man behind Sun TV’s all-news channel project has quit. Kory Teneycke, Prime Minister Stephen Harper’s former chief spokesman, announced his immediate resignation as Quebecor’s vice-president of development Wednesday on Parliament Hill.

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Seeger Weiss Delivers $11 Million Verdict to Small, Family Farms Overrun by Corporate Agriculture’s Waste

BERLIN, MI – Seeger Weiss brought home another victory against giant agro-business Premium Standard Farms, when a Missouri jury awarded $11.05 million to the 15 neighboring owners of small farms today.

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“Plug and Play” Solar Panel Kits Offer Homeowners Affordable Alternative Energy Source

BELLEVUE, WA – A new company aims to make it possible to install a home solar array yourself

Imagine a modular solar array that you can install—without too much fear of electrocuting yourself—at a relatively low price. That’s the vision of Chad Maglaque and Clarian Technologies, and one that hopes to become a reality by spring 2011.

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Hundreds swap their gas mowers for battery-powered ones

BALTIMORE, MD – Reduced air pollution goal of one-day, state-sponsored trade

Richard Morgan tried and failed to trade his 2000 Toyota in the federal government’s “cash for clunkers” program, but on Saturday he got a deal from the state of Maryland that was almost as good.
He dumped his gas-hog Honda power mower and replaced it with a brand-new, deeply discounted, battery-powered rig.

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Paris becoming perfect place to pedal

PARIS – Three years after launching a widely copied bike rental scheme, Paris is stepping up efforts to turn itself into a bicycle-friendly capital on a par with cycling havens like Amsterdam and Berlin.

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Jubilant Kenyans usher in new constitution

NAIROBI (Reuters) – Cheered by hundreds of thousands of jubilant Kenyans waving national flags, President Mwai Kibaki signed a new constitution on Friday that curbs his sweeping powers and strengthens civic rights.

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Russia and China vow to protect Siberian tigers

BEIJING – China and Russia have agreed to set up the first cross-border protection zone for rare Siberian tigers. Only about 500 of the big cats are thought to be left in the wild. The zone will straddle the border along China’s Jilin province and Russia’s Primorsky Krai area

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Archaeologists uncover 3,500-year-old Egypt city

CAIRO (Reuters) – Archaeologists have uncovered the remains of a 3,500-year-old settlement in one of Egypt’s desert oases that predates earlier cities by a millennium, the Ministry of Culture said Wednesday.

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What is Diaspora social network?

Diaspora defines themselves on their website, as “Diaspora: the privacy aware, personally controlled, do-it-all distributed open source social network”. The developers of Diaspora hold a shared vision to create and develop an open source social network that allows members to be in control of their personal information.

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Energy and the Empire State

NEW YORK – Anthony Malkin, the owner of the Empire State Building, is an environmentalist — but he’s also a capitalist. If he’s going to spend $20 million on an energy retrofit of his famous skyscraper, he wants a guaranteed three-year payback and long-term savings.

….When Malkin realized he could get an ironclad guarantee for a 38 percent reduction in energy use by 2013, together with an annual $4.4 million in savings, he went public with his plans.

The “deep energy retrofit” at the 102-story Empire State will refurbish 6,500 windows; install sensors, automatic dimmers and high-efficiency light bulbs; put reflective barriers behind radiators; renovate the heating and cooling systems; provide electrical meters for tenants’ offices and work with tenants to make sure that they maximize the use of natural light.

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SFO’s New Terminal 2: A Model for Green Airports?

SAN FRANCISCO -  Flying is an inherently unsustainable activity–the amount of CO2 spewed from planes on a daily basis is cringeworthy–but that doesn’t mean airports can’t be models of green innovation. Enter San Francisco Airport’s new Terminal 2, a $383 million project that will expand and renovate the old international terminal into a 587,000 square foot LEED Silver terminal for Virgin America and American Airlines.

The project, designed by Gensler and Turner Construction, is designed to bring back the joy of flying…

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Wind Power Growth Continues to Break Records Despite Recession

WASHINGTON – Global wind power capacity increased by 38,343 megawatts to a total of 158,505 megawatts in 2009.1 Despite a widespread economic recession, new wind power capacity grew more than 31 percent in cumulative installations, the highest rate in the last eight years.2 (See Figures 1 and 2.) Worldwide, wind power contributed 340 trillion kilowatt-hours, or 2 percent, to global electricity consumption in 2009.3

The Asian market became the main driver behind the wind industry’s continued growth…

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EPA, Black Caucus announce environmental justice tour

WASHINGTON – “All environmental protection, like all politics, is quite local,” Environmental Protection Agency director Lisa Jackson told her staff this month. “Very few people come to environmental protection because they wake up one morning and read a book about it. They come to environmental protection because it touches them — the lack of that protection, a fear about an environmental outcome, or about their health or their family’s health motivates them to some type of action.”

Not since the early 1990s — when President Clinton’s appointee Carol Browner headed the agency and  established its office of environmental justice — has an EPA administrator focused on the degradation and pollution of communities of color.

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Eco-Heroes Receive Prestigious Goldman Prize

SAN FRANCISCO — Thousands of environmental activists, philanthropists and supporters hurriedly filed into the San Francisco Opera House Monday night to witness the annual ceremony for eco-activism’s most prestigious award, the Goldman Environmental Prize.

Each year, the prize is handed out to a winner from each populated continent along with a no-strings-attached $150,000 purse. The six recipients are chosen by a jury after Prize staff sort through hundreds of nominations.

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Cuban scientist wins U.S.-based environmental prize

HAVANA - (Reuters) – A singing scientist who says the key to Cuba’s agricultural future lies in its agrarian past has become the first Cuban to win a U.S.-based Goldman Environmental Prize, the world’s biggest award for grassroots environmentalism.

Humberto Rios, 46, was announced as a prize winner on Monday in San Francisco along with five other activists from around the world.

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Non-Essential Pesticides Ban for Nova Scotia

HALIFAX – A proposed ban on the sale and use of non-essential pesticides will protect the health of Nova Scotia’s environment and people across the province.
“Our public consultation response on this was overwhelmingly in favour of a ban,” said Environment Minister Sterling Belliveau. “Medical experts and Nova Scotians agree this is the right solution for our province; it will protect our environment and make life better for families throughout the province.”

NASA chief urges Norway to pull out of Alberta’s ‘destructive’ oilsands

The head of NASA wants to persuade the prime minister of Norway to order the country’s state-owned energy giant to get out of Alberta’s oilsands. James Hansen has written an open letter in a Norwegian newspaper asking the government to vote in favour of a motion at Statoil’s annual general meeting Wednesday to end the company’s oilsands project.

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Haitian Farmers Commit to Burning Monsanto Hybrid Seeds

“A new earthquake” is what peasant farmer leader Chavannes Jean-Baptiste of the Peasant Movement of Papay (MPP) called the news that Monsanto will be donating 60,000 seed sacks (475 tons) of hybrid corn seeds and vegetable seeds, some of them treated with highly toxic pesticides. The MPP has committed to burning Monsanto’s seeds…

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Living wage law a positive step to fight poverty

A British Columbia city council adopted the first municipal living wage policy in Canada last night – a move that will hopefully become a standard for cities across the country. The New Westminster City Council voted unanimously yesterday for a living wage bylaw based on a calculation of the hourly wage required to keep a family with two children and two working parents above the poverty line.

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Cochabamba: Climate Justice Has a New Program and New Hope for Victory

On April 22, a mass international assembly in Cochabamba, Bolivia, adopted a charter for action to protect our planet from ecological devastation.Following the failed climate negotiations in Copenhagen in December, where Barack Obama tried unsuccessfully to impose a toothless backroom deal, Bolivian President Evo Morales invited “the peoples of the world, social movements and Mother Earth’s defenders, … scientists, academics, lawyers and governments,” to attend a conference “to define strategies for action and mobilization to defend life from Climate Change and to defend Mother Earth’s Rights.”

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Canadians boast longer lives, better health, eh?

NEW YORK – Canadians live about three years longer and are healthier than Americans, and the lack of universal health care in the United States may be a factor, researchers say.

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New doctor code curbs industry sway and swag

No more letting industry help pay for developing medical guidelines. Restrictions on consulting deals. And no more pens with drug company names or other swag at conferences.These are part of a new ethics code…

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Havana Homegrown: Inside Cuba’s Urban Agriculture Revolution

Although the gardens and farms we saw were picture perfect, Cuba’s food system is far from perfect, but even in its imperfection it offers much food for thought about gardening’s role in our societies and how that role may change as we move more into the post-carbon world that Cuba has been acclimating itself to over the past 20 years.

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Canada’s Largest Supermarket Chain Going Solar (on Over 100 Ontario Stores)

TORONTO – Ontario’s got a new feed-in tariff, and the largest supermarket chain in Canada, Loblaw, is looking to take advantage of it.

It will be putting solar panels on the roofs of four of its supermarkets to start with, but plans to eventually do so on over 100 of its Ontario stores…

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Ontario announces new phase of green-energy push

TORONTO (Reuters) – Ontario announced 184 contracts for green energy projects on Thursday that it says will lead to thousands of jobs and billions of dollars of investment in Canada’s most populous province and top energy consumer.
When completed, the solar, wind, water and biofuel projects will power 600,000 homes.

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Developing a ‘Water Battery’ for Trees

SACRAMENTO -  ….The Waterboxx is a round device made from polypropylene and about the size of car tire — 20 inches in diameter and 10 inches high. An opening at the center of the box provides a space for a plant or tree to germinate and grow.The box is designed to capture both rainwater and condensation, which collects in the chamber underneath the cover, and prevents the water from evaporating. Mr. Hoff describes it as a “water battery.”

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Target drops all farmed salmon from stores

MINNEAPOLIS – All salmon sold under Target-owned brands will now be wild-caught Alaskan salmon.Target Corp. said Tuesday that it had eliminated all farmed salmon from its fresh, frozen and smoked seafood sections at stores nationwide.This decision includes national brands and Target’s own Archer Farms and Market Pantry labels. All salmon sold under Target-owned brands will now be wild-caught Alaskan salmon…

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A solution to hunger and climate change? Try vegetables

MONTPELLIER, FR – How can Africa ease hunger, improve women’s lives and adapt to climate change all in one stroke? By growing vegetables, researchers believe.Efforts to curb persistent hunger in Africa usually focus on boosting yields of grain and other staple crops. But in the Sahel region, where farmers have long battled droughts, more than 2,500 women are now growing greens, tomatoes, onions, aubergine (eggplant) and other nutritious crops…In a region where the average daily wage is about a dollar a day, many are now earning over $4 a day in sales from their gardens, as well as supplying their families with food…

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How to Live a Slow Life in Slow London

LONDON, UK – Slow is not a word that one usually associates with London, one of the world’s biggest cities. However this new book, slow London, shows readers (or shall we say followers of the idea) how to live a less stressful and more observant life.

Geared specifically towards Londoner’s, there is no reason why its lessons cannot be applicable to anyone living in a busy urban area. The book shows you how to tune into the seasons, explore the city’s back streets, find hidden gardens and markets, or simply slow down and smell the roses.

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Mexico City drastically reduced air pollutants since 1990s

MEXICO CITY — This megalopolis once had the world’s worst air, with skies so poisonous that birds dropped dead in flight. Today, efforts to clean the smog are showing visible progress, revealing stunning views of snow-capped volcanoes — and offering a model for the developing world.

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Morocco to Solar-Power Nearly Half its Kingdom

RABAT, MOROCCO – And why not. The North African desert kingdom gets over 3,000 yearly hours of solid reliable sun power – every year. Nine centuries of sun have beaten down on the Kingdom of Morocco since this gate was built.

Morocco will invest $9 billion upfront to build 2 Gigawatts of solar power, distributed between 5 solar power plants, by 2020.The 2 GW (2,000 Megawatts) is enough to supply 40% of the nation’s electricity to 32 million souls, who apparently have fairly modest energy needs.

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Communitarian Socialism in Bolivia

When Bolivia´s president, Evo Morales, was sworn in to a second term in January, he proclaimed Bolivia a plurinational state that would construct “communitarian socialism.” In an accompanying address, Vice President Álvaro Garcia Linare, envisioned a “socialist horizon” for Bolivia, characterized by “well-being, making the wealth communal, drawing on our heritage . . .”
… Proponents of the new socialism assert that it will break with the state-centered socialism of the last century, and will be driven by grassroots social movements that construct an alternative order from the bottom up.

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Nepalese doc is God of Sight to the poor

HETAUDA, Nepal – Raj Kaliya Dhanuk and more than 500 others — most of whom have never seen a doctor before — have traveled for days by bicycle, motorbike, bus and even on their relatives’ backs to reach Dr. Sanduk Ruit’s mobile eye camp. Each hopes for the miracle promised in radio ads by the Nepalese master surgeon: He is able to poke, slice and pull the grape-like jelly masses out of an eye, then refill it with a tiny artificial lens, in about five minutes. Free of charge.

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Climate change cited as Montana cancels oil and gas leases

BILLINGS, Mont. — A federal judge has approved a first-of-its-kind settlement requiring the government to suspend 38,000 acres of oil and gas leases in Montana so it can gauge how oil field activities contribute to climate change.

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West Africa sets out to protect dying mangroves

FOBO, Sierra Leone (Reuters) – Salt is precious in poverty-stricken coastal West Africa, but conservation experts say efforts to extract it are laying waste to mangrove swamps, causing erosion and ravaging fish stocks.
In Sierra Leone, one of Africa’s poorest nations still recovering from a 1991-2002 civil war, lawmakers are preparing a bill to join a seven-nation charter to protect the region’s mangrove forests.

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Solar water-cleaning:  A sunny clean up  Using sunlight to clean waste water

LAMPOLDSHAUSEN, Germany – ULTRAVIOLET light has long been used in water-treatment plants to help with disinfection. …Now a group of German companies including KACO, a solar-power firm, have gone one better. They have developed an industrial-scale solar-driven purification system that removes not only bugs but also chemical pollutants.

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For Pennies, a Disposable Toilet That Could Help Grow Crops

STOCKHOLM, Sweden – A Swedish entrepreneur is trying to market and sell a biodegradable plastic bag that acts as a single-use toilet for urban slums in the developing world.

Once used, the bag can be knotted and buried, and a layer of urea crystals breaks down the waste into fertilizer, killing off disease-producing pathogens found in feces.

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Former Rebels Turned Forest Rangers in Aceh

// BANDA ACEH, INDONESIA — For decades, the vast jungle interior that blankets the northern Indonesian province of Aceh provided a haven for thousands of rebel foot soldiers fighting a war of independence.Now, still marginalized and largely unemployed despite nearly five years of peace, many former separatists have fled back into the forest, this time to chop it down.

A government program, called Aceh Green, hopes to provide an answer. ..Hundreds of former rebels, who know the Ulu Masen jungle perhaps better than anyone, are being trained and recast as forest rangers by Fauna and Flora International, one of the oldest international environmental groups in Aceh.

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Bulgaria Parliament Committee Adopts Changes to GMO Act

SOFIA, Bulgaria – The Bulgarian Parliamentary Committee on Environment and Water has adopted the proposed changes to the GMO Act including the 5-year ban on GM Crop cultivation.

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CEO Gives 20 Million Dollar Company to Employees

MILWAUKIE, Oregon – A CEO this week gave his entire company to the workers who’ve made his natural food company the success that generates revenues exceeding $20 million a year. Founder of Bob’s Red Mill Natural Foods, Bob Moore, turned 81 on Monday, Feb. 15 and announced the news to his employees in Milwaukie, Oregon.
With everyone at his birthday celebration and on behalf of his partners in the business, Bob announced that through the creation of an Employee Stock Ownership Plan (ESOP), Bob’s Red Mill is now an employee-owned company.

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RIP, Hummer

DETROIT, MI – Having failed to sell the Hummer brand off to a Chinese car manufacturer, GM is shutting it down. This car was like the high-fructose corn syrup of automobiles, something that concentrated everything bad about motoring until it underwent a phase-change and somehow became an object of desire.

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Bolivia, A Beacon of Hope

The inspiring example of Evo Morales’s Bolivian government

by Matt Kennard

There’s a game I’ve been playing recently. Any time I read the news and get depressed about the parlous state of our world, I type “Bolivia” into Google news and wait for the results. It’s really all you need to brighten up your day.

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Guerilla theatre, British style

How do you talk to people about politics? How do you get them to think about what they’re doing? About shopping versus thinking? About the right to free speech/ Well, you tak a bull horn to down town London and, well, talk…

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The Story of Human Rights

Most people when asked the question what are human rights have a hard time answering.  That may be because there is precious little time devoted to the notion of rights in school. Watch this great, short (nine minutes) video produced by the group Youth for human Rights that tells the history of human rights.

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Recycled condos: More than the sum of its parts

TORONTO, ON -  It looks new. It smells fresh. It has a new home warranty. Yet, some of the parts of its sum have been around at least once before. Recycled materials are beginning to be used in the construction of new condos, not to save money but to save the planet.

CPAWS welcomes today’s announcement of new parks for Mealy Mountains, Labrador

Happy Valley-Goose Bay – The Canadian Parks and Wilderness Society welcomes the announcements today by the Governments of Canada and Newfoundland-Labrador that they will establish a new national park reserve and an adjacent provincial waterways park in the pristine Boreal wilderness area of Labrador’s Mealy Mountains.

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Hydrogen in Every Home: Japanese Slash Energy Use and CO2 Emissions

Trials by companies including Panasonic and Toyota are underway at 3,000 homes throughout Japan, to bring mini hydrogen power plants into backyards that will provide heat and power while emitting a fraction of the carbon dioxide of normal energy sources by using a hydrogen fuel cell to convert natural gas into electricity. It’s called a fuel cell cogeneration system.

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Appropriate Infrastructure Development Group

CAP HAITEN, Haiti – AIDG, the Appropriate Infrastructure Development Group, is the type of locally headquartered, nimble organization that will be most important in Haiti’s recovery process after the big troops have cleared away. They offer seed funding and other help to local entrepreneurs to start small businesses selling green tech solutions like biogas digesters that are affordable to people making less than $4 a day…

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INLA dumps weapons
BELFAST (Reuters) – One of Northern Ireland’s deadliest paramilitary groups has dumped all of its weapons in front of independent witnesses, the militants and the commission overseeing the province’s disarmament process said on Monday.
Confirming what sources close to the militants told Reuters on Saturday, the Irish National Liberation Army (INLA) said it had got rid of all its weapons and ammunition, four months after announcing an end to its armed struggle.

Building their own future

Most people feel more energy on a sunny day, but for the students of Campbell Collegiate in Regina a sunny day brings a different kind of energy in the form of hot water produced by their solar-thermal panels. Thanks to the Campbell Collegiate Environment Club, students can wash their hands or shower after gym class knowing that the hot water they are using produces fewer greenhouse gases than a conventional fossil fuel system.

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A Heart for the Homeless

Peter Larson, 15, brushes his teeth, tugs a hat over his ears and hugs his mom good night before walking out of his family’s cozy home and climbing into a cardboard box on his back porch in Plymouth, Minn. (pop. 65,894).

On the first night of Peter’s 40-night “sleep out” that ends Dec. 23, the temperature is expected to drop into the lower 20s—a forecast that makes the lanky teenager smile. Every November and December since he was a first-grader, Peter has camped out for a cause—experiencing what it’s like to sleep in Minnesota’s frigid air while raising money to help homeless people stay warm in affordable housing in the Minneapolis suburbs.

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Latin America distances itself from U.S. on drug war

Researchers from Latin America, the United States and Europe agreed that the debate is now centered on a search for local solutions rather than the broader policing strategy long dictated from Washington.

“There is an awareness that continuing to do what we have been doing does not work,” said Ricardo Soberon, a Peruvian expert….

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Lost generation – a palindrome

A palindrome reads backwards as well as forward. This video reads the exact opposite backwards as forward.  Not only does it read the opposite, the meaning is the exact opposite.

Supreme Court of Canada give public a voice on major industrial projects

Court ensures meaningful environmental assessments across country

Jan 21, 2010
OTTAWA – Today, the Supreme Court of Canada ruled that the Canadian government has violated a national environmental law aimed at ensuring sustainable development. In a case centered on the proposed Red Chris mine in British Columbia, the Court ruled that the federal government cannot split projects into artificially small parts to avoid rigorous environmental assessments.

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Invasion of the Little Green Molecules

PORTLAND, OR – While the world’s climate negotiators were getting ready for Copenhagen earlier this month, a meeting was taking place in Mumbai to discuss progress in green chemistry, a field that – like the reduction of greenhouse gas emissions – has the potential to greatly enhance the world’s environmental health and sustainability.
In the developing countries where so much of the world’s manufacturing occurs and which are home to much of the world’s worst industrial pollution, a move to green chemistry has the potential to improve working conditions as well as health and safety for communities where industry is located.

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U.S. Vehicle Fleet Shrank 2% Last Year, Biggest Decline in Decades — Report

NEW YORK – Americans scrapped 4 million more cars and trucks last year than they purchased, the first significant drop in the U.S. auto fleet in more than four decades, according to a new report.

The United States scrapped 14 million vehicles last year while buying only 10 million new ones, dropping the nation’s fleet from an all-time high of 250 million to 246 million, according to the Earth Policy Institute.

Lester Brown, the author of the report, said the drop — the first significant shrinkage the U.S. fleet has seen since record-keeping began in 1960 — represents a “cultural shift away from the car” and estimated the fleet size will continue to recede during the next decade. He estimated the fleet could shrink a total of 10 percent by 2020.

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Look, up in the sky – it’s a garden

BRISBANE – In the future, Brisbane skyscrapers could be enveloped in a tight-gripped tangle of green vegetation – but it won’t be the Day of the Triffids-style apocolypse you might imagine.

The Queensland Government has just signed a deal with the Singapore National Parks Board that could see scientists grow plants on the walls and roofs of the sunshine state’s high rise buildings to reduce heat and improve air quality.

Shane Holborn, research team leader for the Queensland Primary Industries and Fisheries’ lifestyle horticulture group, said vegetation had proven to have a significant insulating effect on buildings, and the Government was keen to test, adapt and use the concept in Queensland.

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China: New law: Buy all renewable power available

BEJING – China’s national assembly Saturday adopted a law supporting the renewable energy industry.

The new law, an amendment to one on renewable energy adopted by the National People’s Congress standing committee, obliges electricity grid companies to buy all the power produced by renewable sources.

It also empowers the State Council’s energy department, the electricity regulatory agency and its finance departments to determine the amount of renewable energy available in the country’s overall power generating capacity.

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A Once-Dark Polaroid Factory Goes Green

NEW BEDFORD, MA – Many old factories around the country now sit dark and empty. But at a once-defunct Polaroid film factory in New Bedford, Mass., the lights are on again and a new industry is rising up inside the ruins of an old one.

The company Konarka makes solar panels, but not the kind most people have seen. These are thin, lightweight, flexible plastic sheets, and that enables them to be used in all sorts of new ways.

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Energy performance of buildings: photovoltaic systems to become a standard product in new buildings

BRUSSELS – Today, at the Energy Council the Swedish Presidency was congratulated for the agreement reached on the new Energy Performance of Buildings Directive (EPBD). Any new European building will have to be “nearly zero energy” by 2020, meaning that a very large share of energy consumption will be provided by renewable energy. Solar photovoltaic technologies are amongst the best suited to be integrated in buildings.

Solution to Killer Superbug Found in Norway

OSLO, Norway (Dec. 30) — Aker University Hospital is a dingy place to heal. The floors are streaked and scratched. A light layer of dust coats the blood pressure monitors. A faint stench of urine and bleach wafts from a pile of soiled bedsheets dropped in a corner.
Look closer, however, at a microscopic level, and this place is pristine. There is no sign of a dangerous and contagious staph infection that killed tens of thousands of patients in the most sophisticated hospitals of Europe, North America and Asia this year, soaring virtually unchecked.
The reason: Norwegians stopped taking so many drugs.

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Big Win for Bees: Judge Pulls Pesticide

Bee toxic Movento pulled from market for proper evaluation

NEW YORK – A pesticide that could be dangerously toxic to America’s honey bees must be pulled from store shelves as a result of a suit filed by the Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC) and the Xerces Society. In an order issued last week, a federal court in New York invalidated EPA’s approval of the pesticide spirotetramat

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Boy’s dream to build windmill transforms lives in Malawi

The villagers thought he was crazy, but when the lights went on, the world noticed

WIMBE, Malawi–This close to the equator, night descends quickly in November. By 6 p.m., the sky bursts with stars. All is dark outside the village of Wimbe, save for a compound of houses where outdoor fluorescent lights twinkle.

Far off the electric grid, three windmills rattle in the breeze, producing enough electricity to provide indoor and outdoor lighting, and to pump water. The windmills are the legacy of a rickety prototype conceived by William Kamkwamba, a desperate teenager with big dreams.

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Slow Money: Bringing Money Down to Earth

Woody Tasch has thought a lot about money: what it does, how it moves, and how to connect people who have it with people who need it.  He’s been a venture capitalist, a treasurer and advisor to foundations, and the chairman of a network of angel investors. He even helped found a field of investing with the rather surprising name “community development venture capital.”

But he found that even socially responsible investing couldn’t do much to fix an economy that focused too much on extraction and consumption and too little on preservation and restoration.

Putting the Science of Happiness Into Practice

The study of happiness is experiencing a boom. Its practitioners include economists who believe that gross domestic product (GDP) is too limited a tool to measure the success of societies, psychologists and sociologists who feel that their disciplines have focused too much on neuroses and social problems and not enough on determining what kind of activities and policies actually contribute to happier societies, and political leaders who want to know how to make use of their findings.

During the 5th International Gross National Happiness Conference, held last week in Brazil, happiness proponents from around the world were able to come together and compare notes about the practical application of “happiness science.”

Towns rush to make low-carbon transition

The coastal town of Lincoln City, Oregon, has a lot to lose if nothing is done about climate change. The town sits 11 feet above sea level, and unchecked climate change could erode its beaches or flood the town.

Residents are taking matters into their own hands. “We could ignore it, let the federal government deal with it,” Mayor Lori Hollingsworth says. “We’re not willing to do that.” Last year Lincoln City committed to becoming carbon neutral through renewable energy, energy efficiency, and offsets.

Merida, January 3rd, 2010 (Venezuelanalysis.com) – According to a study carried out by the Venezuelan Institute of Data Analysis (IVAD), Venezuelan president Hugo Chavez’s approval has dropped slightly, to 60.3%, from 62.4% last October.

Legal Victory for Endangered Species across Canada

Vancouver, BC – A precedent-setting legal victory for endangered species may put an end to years of unlawful action by the Government of Canada. In a September 9 ruling, the Federal Court admonished the Minister of Fisheries and Oceans (DFO) for failing to identify the habitat of the Nooksack dace, an endangered fish restricted
to only four streams in BC’s Lower Mainland. The ruling will ensure greater protection of species-at-risk and their habitats across Canada….

Mini-farms sprout up in Mexico

Mexico City – A low-budget scheme has transformed a rubbish dump in an impoverished part of Mexico City into an urban garden, raising hopes for a new shade of green revolution. Iztapalapa, a bustling borough of two million people within the greater sprawl of Mexico City’s 20 million people, is an unlikely place to find an agricultural revolution.
But on a patch of land once strewn with the detritus associated with one of the world’s largest cities, there now sits a 400 square meter garden.

Sewage-sniffing dogs protect lakes, beaches

LANSING, MI – When Scott Reynolds saw Sable, a German shepherd mix, on a video at an animal shelter in 2006, he knew the dog was right for the job he had in mind.

Reynolds’ plan was to train Sable to sniff out illegal sewer connections, which dump billions of gallons of bacteria-filled water into rivers, lakes and streams each year, shuttering beaches, contaminating fish and costing millions in cleanups and lost tourism and recreation.

One day, all houses will be built this way

HERTFORDSHIRE, UK – Sustainably built, energy-efficient, inexpensive and double-quick to construct: if this is the future of social housing, it looks bright

Social housing tenants could soon be living in state-of-the-art green homes built from natural materials such as clay, hemp and sheep’s wool, which are being pioneered as part of Prince Charles’ campaign to create beautiful sustainable property.

Ontario bets billions on wind power

TORONTO – Province plans a massive boost to its electricity grid – a move that would put the province among North America’s green leaders

Ontario’s power grid is getting a $2.3 billion makeover as part of an ambitious, three-year effort to create 20,000 jobs and bring more green electricity to homes and businesses across the province.

Supreme court hands media a victory

The Supreme Court of Canada handed the press a major victory this morning, ordering a new trial for an Ottawa newspaper that allegedly libelled a police officer who helped search for survivors after the Sept. 11, 2001 attacks on New York City.

The ruling rewrote the law governing libel and defamation, giving the media an opportunity to justify its efforts to obtain fair, journalistic accounts of publicly-important events.

Rage Against the Machine take Christmas No.1 slot

Rock band Rage Against the Machine ended Simon Cowell’s four year domination of the Christmas charts tonight after a hugely popular Facebook campaign helped the Los Angeles nu-metallers snatch the Christmas number one slot from X-factor’s Joe McEdlerry.

More than half a million people downloaded the band’s famously anti-authoritarian and expletive laden track “Killing in the Name” in what was seen as a broad protest against the increasing influence of manufactured pop music.

By Marcus Dysch

Israeli opposition leader Tzipi Livni cancelled a visit to Britain this weekend over fears pro-Palestinian lawyers would seek to have her arrested.Ms Livni had been due to speak at Sunday’s Jewish national Fund (JNF) Vision 2010 conference in Hendon, north-west London. She had also been expected to meet Prime Minister Gordon Brown for private talks.

But she pulled out of the trip for fear of lawyers obtaining an arrest warrant.

She is the latest senior Israeli politician to avoid Britain. In October, Strategic Affairs Minister Moshe Ya’alon was advised by a special inter-departmental team working with ministers to pull out of a JNF dinner in London.


Americans Want Government to Spend for Jobs, Send Bill to Rich

By Mike Dorning and Catherine Dodge

Dec. 10 (Bloomberg) — Americans want their government to create jobs through spending on public works, investments in alternative energy or skills training for the jobless.They also want the deficit to come down. And most are ready to hand the bill to the wealthy.

A Bloomberg National Poll conducted Dec. 3-7 shows two- thirds of Americans favor taxing the rich to reduce the deficit.Even though almost 9 of 10 respondents also say they believe the middle class will have to make financial sacrifices to achieve that goal, only a little more than one-fourth support an increase in taxes on the middle class. Fewer still back cuts in entitlement programs such as Social Security and Medicare or a new national consumption tax.

Gay woman wins Houston mayoral race

HOUSTON – A lesbian candidate won Houston’s mayoral election Saturday night, a vote that made the city the largest in the U.S. to ever have an openly gay mayor.

Best green activist – SHAWN-PATRICK STENSIL

TORONTO – Ding, dong, the $20 billion plan to expand Darlington is shelved, and you can partly thank tireless Greenpeace campaigner Shawn-Patrick Stensil. The gadfly of nukes took on Queen’s Park and the Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission at public hearings and through endless access-to-information requests that dragged the industry’s secrets onto the front pages – and still had time to blockade the Pickering station. You can bet he’ll be there again if nukes rise again, saying “No Candu.”

Vegetables to die for help Montacute’s men to reach ripe old age

SOMERSET, UK – A little village in Somerset has been identified as Britain’s safest place for old men to grow even older.Men of retirement age living in Montacute (pop 640) have a longer life expectancy than their contemporaries anywhere else in Britain………

“The variations in life expectancy are due to substantial differences in general health and lifestyle patterns between different parts of the UK. The North-South divide in particular is very striking, and the variation in life expectancy by postcode band for female occupational pension scheme holders is about half of the above range.”

Farming in the heart of Joburg
JOHANNESBURG – A dumpsite in the Johannesburg inner city has been transformed into a 1-hectare food garden supplying fresh vegetables to children and HIV-positive people, in a project demonstrating the enormous potential of urban agriculture.

The Siyakhana Food Garden Project in Bezuidenhout Valley Park was set up in 2005 on an infertile patch of rocky and clay-filled ground donated by Johannesburg City Parks. Over the years various permaculture and soil conditioning techniques have transformed the land into a productive mini-farm that is home to an orchard of fruit and nut trees, an abundance of vegetables and a large herb garden…..

New national park gives Murray’s river red gums last-minute reprieve

CANBERRA, AU – In his last significant act as premier, Nathan Rees announced the creation of a massive new national park along the Murray River to protect much of the state’s remaining river red gum forests from logging.The surprise decision – made before the Government received a final scientific report on the issue – is a significant win for environment groups, but has left the timber industry seething.

The 42,000-hectare national park near Deniliquin, in the state’s south-west is seen as an attempt by Mr Rees to shore up his environmental legacy and as a parting swipe at right-wing elements of his party.

Polluters off roads, city breathes easy

KOLKATA, India – Fruit-seller Raju Haldar doesn’t have to rub his eyes or hurry to a tap to wash his face every hour, leaving his rickety basket in the care of a neighbouring vendor at Sealdah. Neither does he cough violently before going to bed at night. The air is cleaner and Raju vouches for it. ….

Ever since polluting vehicles were withdrawn four months ago, the city has been breathing easy. Figures emerging from a Times of India-SAFE survey confirm that. The survey was conducted at Shyambazar, Mullickbazar, Sealdah and Rashbehari crossings.

Syria: Tough new law against killer tobacco
DAMASCUS (IRIN) – A much tougher anti-smoking law in Syria, signed by President Bashar al-Assad and due to come into force in early 2010, will outlaw smoking in public places, including restaurants and bars, hospitals, sports halls and cinemas.
The law covers cigarettes and cigars, as well as traditional ‘shisha’ water pipes.
‘The ban is timely,’ said Mahmoud Etah, a Syrian doctor. ‘Smoking, especially of water pipes, has become more prevalent among young people and we are yet to see the full health effects.’ 

WHO launches campaign to halt smoking in Africa
LONDON (Reuters) – The World Health Organisation launched a campaign on Friday to try to stop what could become a health catastrophe caused by rapidly rising levels of smoking in Africa.
The Geneva-based agency said it wanted to stop tobacco from becoming as prevalent in Africa as it is in other parts of the world and would set up a regional hub in 2010 for health experts to work with governments to introduce anti-smoking policies.

Britain, Italy top picks for windpower investment

BRUSSELS (Reuters) – Germany and Spain will provide Europe’s biggest growth in windpower over the next decade but Britain and Italy might give the best returns on investment, the head of the European Wind Energy Association said on Friday.

Efforts under way to stem U.S. school dropout problem
CHICAGO (Reuters) – Jesus Garcia dropped out of high school and figured he was destined for prison or a life shortened by violence—until he found an alternative school that became the family he never felt he had.
‘Without this school, kids would be dealing drugs, dying, gang-banging, all of it. Without this school there would be no leaders, no mentors,’ Garcia, an aspiring chef, told a group of former dropouts who have re-enrolled in alternative schools.
Some 30 percent of Americans drop out before finishing high school.

California utility PG&E to buy first wind project
LOS ANGELES (Reuters) – PG&E Corp will build and operate a wind power project of up to 246 megawatts with the U.S. unit of Spain’s Iberdrola SA, marking the utility’s first foray to own wind generation.
PG&E said on Thursday that it expected to invest just over $900 million in the project. That figure includes the cost for Iberdrola Renewables to develop and build the system.
The proposed project would cover about 7,000 acres in the Tehachapi area of Eastern Kern County in Southern California.
The news marks the first move for PG&E to build and own wind power generation and follows Iberdrola Renewables’ plans to spend billions on renewable energy facilities in the United States through 2012. California utilities are working to meet state targets that a third of its electricity come from renewables by 2020.

Todmorden’s Good life: Introducing Britain’s greenest town

TODMORDEN, UK – ‘Grow your own’ fever has gripped the Pennines community, which is aiming for self-sufficiency

It’s an ordinary small town in England, but its residents claim they’ve discovered the secret that could save the planet. And with world leaders preparing to gather in Copenhagen in just over a week’s time to debate how to do just that, the people of Todmorden in the Pennines this week issued an invitation: come to our town and see what we’ve done.

In under two years, Todmorden has transformed the way it produces its food and the way residents think about the environment. Compared with 18 months ago, a third more townspeople now grow their own veg; almost seven in 10 now buy local produce regularly, and 15 times as many people are keeping chickens.

The town centre is dotted with “help yourself” vegetable gardens; the market groans with local meat and vegetables, and at all eight of the town’s schools the pupils eat locally produced meat and vegetables every lunchtime.


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