Environmentalism

Brickbats

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? By law, cities must remove at least 30 percent of organic waste from incoming sewage before treating it. This poses a problem for Anchorage because it has so little waste in its sewage. The Environmental Protection Agency won't give the city an exemption. So rather than build a new, state-of-the-art $135 million treatment facility capable of removing even traces of organic waste, the city has asked two local fish-processing plants to dump fish viscera into the water. The fish waste is then removed, and the federal regulation met.

? Issues debated by the national convention of the National Education Association: abortion, nuclear waste, pesticides, and the economic embargo of Haiti. A motion to limit debate to subjects directly related to education was defeated.

? In Great Britain, 30,000 people turned out to protest the new Criminal Justice Bill. Among the bill's provisions is a clause banning unlicensed gatherings of more than 10 people at which music "wholly or predominately characterized by repetitive beats" is played. The law also gives police the right to stop and search anyone within five miles of any event deemed a possible source of disturbance. The law is designed to stop raves, underground musical parties.

? The operators of the first private television channel in the former Eastern Bloc know one thing: Czechs like to see naked people. One out of five people in the republic stays up past midnight each night to watch soft-core skin flicks broadcast by Nova TV. Any complaints? Says Nova head Vladimir Zelezny, "I've had several letters and phone calls complaining about the lack of erotic fare for women."

? The Brazilian military has its priorities. It sends soldiers home on weekends to save on meal money. Pay is so low that many soldiers must moonlight at other jobs. Recruits receive only one uniform each and must train with fake weapons. But the generals, who ruled Brazil from 1964 to 1985, are spending big bucks—for a new rocket-guidance system, state-of-the-art warplanes, an Amazon radar network, and nuclear submarines.

? Environmentalists in Texas have found a new threat to the endangered golden-cheeked warbler: backyard bird feeders. It seems that the feeders attract blue jays, ruffians of the winged world, who displace the smaller songbirds. The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service promises to consider the danger of possible bird feeders when it decides whether to grant building permits in suburban Austin.

? It's a good thing policeman Paul Kiesel isn't a very good shot. The St. Petersburg, Florida, patrolman fired upon and missed Hank Edwards during an otherwise routine traffic stop. The police officer mistook Edwards's cane for a shotgun.

? Have you gotten hold of a bad orange lately? Better not tell anyone. Under a new Florida law, growers can sue anyone who says that fruits, vegetables, and other perishable foods are unfit for human consumption and who can't back up their claims with evidence.

? In Ft. Worth, Texas, the city council is looking at a new way to reduce gang violence: Put gang leaders on the city payroll. The council is considering hiring six gang chiefs to serve as community counselors. The six would visit schools and civic organizations to warn kids not to join gangs. Of course, if the kids ignore the message, they too might wind up as city employees.

? Sen. Max Baucus (D-Mont.) tried to impress visiting constituents with his commitment to the environment by telling them how he had helped dig channels for bull trout at a Montana ranch. When asked by the visitors if he had obtained the needed federal wetlands permit, Baucus admitted that he didn't know. Baucus is the principal sponsor of the bill that reauthorizes federal regulation of wetlands.

? In China, the government's war on dogs continues. Dogs are banned in many cities there. For a long time, police there have usually killed all stray dogs. Now authorities want to shut down veterinarians and set up a reward system for informers who rat on illegal dog owners.