Wednesday, February 28, 2007

"Marketplace" report on La Oroya, Peru

Today, the American Public Media radio show "Marketplace" aired a story on La Oroya, Peru, probably the most polluted place I've ever visited. The American owners, Doe Run may be taking steps to improve the situation, but clearly, for those living in this city, each day is a struggle to survive and to correct the dubious accounting of corporate balance sheets.

You can read Jon Miller's full dispatch (from which the above report is taken) on "Frontline's World" site.

See also the story "Lead Astray" with appeared in the November/December 2006 issue of "Mother Jones".

Here are some comments I made in November 2005:

I snuck into Doe Run's grounds to take this picture of the bucket conveyor delivering slag to enormous piles. I very quickly found myself choking from the sulfur dioxide in the air. It attacks the mucous membranes in the nasal passages, throat and lungs. In the background, behind the plant, is the town of La Oroya. Though the SO2 may be the most obvious hazardous emission, lead poisoning is the primary concern for the community. Most children in La Oroya have elevated levels of lead in their blood. The CDC went to La Oroya this year and found no plan in place to address lead and other contaminants. Doe Run is in the process of implementing CDC's recommendations. (By Doe Run's own measurements though, the maximum allowable SO2 emissions are 195 tons per day, September's actuals - the last month on their chart - were 803 tons per day! SO2 is produced when lead ore is sintered in ovens to remove the sulfur.)

Friday, February 16, 2007

Conscience leads the way

The most powerful anti-war testaments often come from our own soldiers. Who knows better the horror and insanity of war? Last night, I joined about 60 activists in Sonoma to watch The Ground Truth, a powerful anti-war film from the perspective of Iraq War Veterans.

A few days ago, I received this note from Tim Spires (above), the fellow rider I met up with in Ohio last Fall:


I have been keeping up with your blog as usual and would like to share some things with you from my end, about this situation in Iraq. I don't know if you remember or not but when we met up at Anthony's restaurant in Somerset, Ohio back in October, we talked a bit about the war in Iraq and I told you that my fiancee is a Lieutenant in the Army. I also mentioned that I was considering joining the military to help pay for additional schooling.

Well, my fiancee who is now my wife (got married on November 12) is no longer supporting the possibility of me going into the military. The latest acts from Bush has caused some dissension to say the least. It kind of pushed her over the edge, so to speak.

My wife got an email from one of her friends who is currently in Afghanistan and he was supposed to come home in two weeks but was extended for four months! The email that he sent was sent out to many other people other than just my wife, and he advised " whatever you can to not come over here. I've seen enough dead bodies including dead children. That's all I've got to say about that." Also, the troops are being told by their commanders that they should feel honored to have been chosen to serve an extended duty. So it sounds to me like they are being brainwashed into believing that what they are doing is honorable! But I don't think its working too well. From what I hear the troops are tired and pissed about not being able to come home when they were supposed to!

I'm finding out first hand that many of the troops who were once OK with "the mission" are now disillusioned and have no idea why they are over there. My wife knows that there is a good chance she will be sent oversees as well. She is OK with going oversees and serving, but now, in her mind, even she can't justify this situation. How will an additional 20,000 + troops change anything? What is the cause? Of course many people have been asking those same questions for some time, but now even those who were once behind the president are against his policies.

Hopefully this will all come to an end sooner than later. Thanks for all that you are doing Tim, in an attempt to put a stop to the bad decisions that our president is making.

Tim Spires

Wednesday, February 14, 2007

Witness Protection

Computer malfunctioning. Looks pretty though.

For the past 15 days, I've been underground, or so it feels. Kind of like Hades, in fact. The day before leaving for Washington, my computer started malfunctioning. I've spent two weeks studying, troubleshooting, dismantling and reassembling. I can now comfortably state the computer is in worse shape than when I started. And I'm convinced "Homeland Security" is at the heart of this mischief.

But today I found a relatively safe facility (I hope) where I can use the computers to continue my mission (whatever that might be.)

I can't say any more at this time. (It's dinner time, and I'm hungry.)