Headlines: Obama To Introduce New Car Emissions and Mileage Requirements; Red Cross Warns of “Unimaginable Humanitarian Catastrophe” In Sri Lanka

Democracy Now Headlines: Obama To Introduce New Car Emissions and Mileage Requirements; Red Cross Warns of 'Unimaginable Humanitarian Catastrophe' In Sri Lanka

Headlines from DemocracyNow.org, a daily TV/radio news program, hosted by Amy Goodman and Juan Gonzalez, airing on over 650 stations, pioneering the largest community media collaboration in the US.

Ex-Bush Envoy May Become Unelected “CEO” of Afghanistan

The New York Times reports President Bush’s former ambassador to Afghanistan, Zalmay Khalilzad, could soon assume a powerful, unelected position running the Afghan government. Under a plan being discussed with Afghan President Hamid Karzai and the Obama administration, Khalilzad could essentially become the unelected CEO of Afghanistan, taking away power now held by the democratically elected Karzai. Karzai’s ties to the United States have deteriorated recently in part because of his vocal criticism over the rising number of civilian casualties due to U.S. air strikes. Zalmay Khalilzad was born in Afghanistan but is now a U.S. citizen. He served as President Bush’s ambassador to Afghanistan, Iraq and the United Nations. The Obama administration claims it is not behind the idea of inserting Khalilzad into the Afghan government but Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and special envoy Richard Holbrooke have been involved in the discussions. Two months ago the Guardian of London reported the Obama administration and European allies were preparing to plant a high-profile figure in the heart of the Afghan government in a direct challenge to Karzai.

Obama To Introduce New Car Emissions and Mileage Requirements

President Obama is scheduled today to issue new national emissions and mileage requirements for cars and light trucks. The rules aim to cut emissions by 30% and require passenger car required to average 39 miles per gallon and light trucks 30 mpg by 2016.

The White House estimates the regulations would save 1.8 billion barrels of oil and reduce emissions of greenhouse gases by 900 million metric tons over the lifetime of the more efficient vehicles, equivalent to taking 177 million cars off the road or shutting down 194 coal-fired power plants. Daniel Becker of the Safe Climate Campaign, praised Obama’s plan. He said: “This is the single biggest step the American government has ever taken to cut greenhouse-gas emissions.” The cost of new vehicles is expected to rise by at least $1,300 by 2016.

Netanyahu Refuses To Endorse Two-State Solution, Presses Obama on Iran

At a White House meeting Monday, Israel’s new Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu refused to endorse a two-state solution or to agree to President Obama’s request to halt the construction of settlements in the occupied West Bank. Obama and Netanyahu held a press conference Monday after their private meeting.

President Obama: “Now, Israel is going have to take some difficult steps as well. And I shared with Prime Minister the fact that, under the road map, under Annapolis there’s a clear understanding that we have to make progress on settlements, that settlements have to be stopped in order for us to move forward. That’s a difficult thing to recognize, but it’s an important one. And it has to be addressed. I think the humanitarian situation in Gaza has to be addressed.”

Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu said Israel doesn’t want to govern the Palestinians but he did not endorse an independent Palestinian state.

Binyamin Netanyahu: “I want to make it clear that we don’t want to govern the Palestinians. We want to live in peace with them. We want them to govern themselves, absent a handful of powers that could endanger the State of Israel. And for this there has to be a clear goal. There has to be an end to conflict. There’ll have to be compromises by Israelis and Palestinians alike. We’re ready to do our share. We hope the Palestinians are ready to do their share as well.”

After the meeting Palestinian negotiator Saeb Erekat criticized Netanyahu’s comments.

Saeb Erekat: “Unfortunately, Mr. Netanyahu failed to mention the two-state solution, failed to mention the agreement signed, failed to mention his commitment to stop settlement activities. And the only thing he mentioned was Palestinians entitled to govern themselves by themselves. How can I govern myself by myself as a Palestinian with his occupation going on on my neck on the hour every hour? With his roadblocks segregating our towns and villages and refugee camps?”

Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu and President Obama also discussed Iran on Monday.

Binyamin Netanyahu: “But if Iran were to acquire nuclear weapons, it could give a nuclear umbrella to terrorists or worse it could give terrorists nuclear weapons. That would put us all in great peril. So in that context I very much appreciate Mr. President your firm commitment to ensure that Iran does not develop nuclear capability and also your statement you’re leaving all options on the table.”

President Obama told Netanyahu that his administration may back a new set of sanctions against Iran.

President Obama: “We are engaged in a process to reach out to Iran and persuade them that it is not in their interest to pursue a nuclear weapon, and that they should change course. But I assured the prime minister that we are not foreclosing a range of steps, including much stronger international sanctions in assuring that Iran understands that we are serious.”

Campaign Launched to Disbar 12 Former Bush Admin Attorneys

Efforts have been launched to disbar 12 former Bush administration attorneys connected to the administration’s torture program. On Monday a coalition of advocacy groups called the Velvet Revolution filed disciplinary complaints with state bar licensing boards on the grounds that the attorneys violated the Geneva Conventions, the Convention Against Torture and American law. The attorneys targeted are: John Yoo, Jay Bybee, Stephen Bradbury, Alberto Gonzales, John Ashcroft, Michael Chertoff, Alice Fisher, William Haynes, Douglas Feith, Michael Mukasey, Timothy Flanigan, and David Addington.

Obama Seeks $46 Million For Military Base in Colombia

President Obama is seeking $46 million to establish a new military facility in Colombia. The funding request has been opposed by several advocacy groups. John Lindsay-Poland of the Fellowship of Reconciliation said: “This base would feed a failed drug policy, support an abusive army, and reinforce a tragic history of U.S. military intervention in the region.”

The Pentagon has been looking for a new site in Latin America ever since Ecuador notified Washington last year that it would not renew the lease on the U.S. base in Manta, Ecuador.

Bill Clinton To Be Named UN Special Envoy To Haiti

Meanwhile former U.S. President Bill Clinton is expected to be named today the new United Nations special envoy to Haiti.

Supreme Court Blocks Suit Filed By Man Detained After 9/11

The Supreme Court has blocked a lawsuit against former Attorney General John Ashcroft and FBI director Robert Mueller filed by a Pakistani man. Javaid Iqbal was among thousands of Muslim men rounded up after Sept. 11 . According to his lawsuit he was held in solitary confinement, subjected to numerous beatings and denied medical care. He eventually pleaded guilty to identity fraud and was deported to Pakistan.

Nigerian Military Attacks Niger Delta Region

In news from Africa, the Nigerian military continues to carry out attacks in the oil-rich Niger Delta in an effort to oust militant groups from the region. The military has reportedly attacked largely civilian areas with gunboats and helicopters. As many as 30,000 civilians are displaced without adequate food or water and aid agencies have been barred from the region. On Monday militants vowed to blockade key waterways in the Niger Delta to try to prevent crude oil exports. For years the militant groups have fought for fair distribution of oil wealth to local communities in the impoverished region.

Asari Dokubo of the Niger Delta Volunteer Force: “We will not stop, I will not stop. I will continue, we will continue to proceed by any means necessary. If they bring peace, we will hold on to peace. If they bring war, we will hold on to war, because we cannot be treated like this and we cannot just be raising our hands and falling and dying. No, we are going to put up a fight.”

The state-owned Nigerian National Petroleum Corp. has joint-venture partnerships with major oil companies including Shell and Chevron in the Niger Delta. Next week Shell will stand trial in New York for its alleged role in the 1995 state execution of the Nigerian writer and activist Ken Saro-Wiwa and eight other activists.

Shell Accused of Being Most Carbon Intensive Oil Firm In World

A group of environmental organizations have accused Shell of being the most carbon intensive oil company in the world. In a report issued today – to coincide with the company’s annual shareholder meeting – Shell is criticized for its reliance on Nigerian crude oil which is associated with huge levels of gas flaring, liquefied natural gas which is highly energy intensive, and oil from Canada’s tar sands. Shell revealed to investors last year that 30% of its total resources are tar sands.

BBC: Ethiopian Troops Re-Enter Somalia

In other news from Africa, the BBC is reporting Ethiopian troops have re-entered Somalia, barely three months after leaving. This comes one day after Islamist militants seized Mahaday, a strategically important town north of Mogadishu.

Red Cross Warns of “Unimaginable Humanitarian Catastrophe” In Sri Lanka

Sri Lankan leader Mahinda Rajapaksa has declared the country to be “liberated” from Tamil Tiger rebels after a 26-year war. Sri Lankan television stations broadcast footage today of a body purported to be that of Tamil Tiger leader Velupillai Prabhakaran. While many Sri Lankans have been celebrating the end of the Tamil Tigers, the Red Cross is warning northeastern Sri Lanka still faces an “an unimaginable humanitarian catastrophe.” Most aid groups are still barred from the region where 8,000 civilians have been killed since January.

Sri Lanka Detains Three Doctors Who Spoke To Media

The Sri Lankan government has detained three Sri Lankan doctors who were treating civilians inside the conflict zone. During the war, the doctors had provided detailed information about government shelling and civilian casualties to outside media and human rights organizations. Two of the doctors have been reportedly taken to the Terrorist Investigation Division in Colombo.

U.S. to Push Immigration Checks to All Local Jails

The Washington Post reports the Obama administration is expanding a program initiated by President Bush aimed at checking the immigration status of virtually every person booked into local jails. By matching inmates’ fingerprints to federal immigration databases, authorities hope to pinpoint deportable undocumented immigrants before they are released from custody. The measure could result in a tenfold increase in undocumented immigrants who have been convicted of crimes and identified for deportation over the next four years.

Bill Introduced To Guarantee Sick Days For Workers

And on Capitol Hill, Democratic Congresswoman Rosa DeLauro has introduced legislation to guarantee paid sick days to American workers. The bill would require companies with 15 or more employees to allow workers to earn up to seven paid sick leave days a year. Sen. Edward Kennedy is expected to introduce the Senate version of the Healthy Families Act later this week. Of the world’s 22 wealthiest nations, the United States is the only one not to guarantee paid sick days for workers.

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Earth Democracy Author, Vandana Shiva, Speaks at WMU

Activist Vandana Shiva Recently Spoke at Western Michigan University in Kalamazoo

Indian activist and author Vandana Shiva spoke at Western Michigan University last Thursday on the theme of sustainability, the topic of one of her most recent books,Earth Democracy: Justice, Sustainability, and Peace.

Shiva began her talk by saying that we live in extremely important times, because the paradigm of fossil fuels consumption is killing us. She also used a comment from the founder of the Indian Satyagraha movement, Mohandas Gandhi. Gandhi, when writing about the Western World, said that it “only promotes consumerism and comfort.” But, this model, according to Gandhi, is one that is self-destructive.

Corporate Globalization is a Dictatorship

Shiva then went on to talk about corporate globalization as a form of dictatorship. Corporate globalization uses force to achieve its goals as well as legal and institutional constructs such as the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade (GATT) and the World Trade Organization (WTO). One example the author gave was how the global grain giant Cargill took control of the agricultural policies under the GATT/WTO. Shiva said they wrote the agreement and essentially represented the US at the international level to push through an agricultural policy that would allow them control of much of the world’s grain market.

Another way that Cargill has negatively impacted local agriculture is their dumping of soy oil on the market in India several years ago. Shiva said they were able to do this with huge subsidies, also part of the WTO agreements, which undercut the local market. People could not compete with the price of the soy oil, which was not nearly as good for human consumption as the dozens of other oils that Indians used. In response, women organized a Satyagraha campaign and made their own oil in defiance of the law.

Intellectual Property Rights and Seed Theft

The other main issue that Shiva addressed was the destructive consequences of intellectual property rights. Intellectual property rights were essentially an expansion of traditional property rights that included seeds, humans, and any other form of life. India had a non-patent framework for products built into their constitution, but that changed with the WTO. What this has meant is that Monsanto controlls 95% of the global seed store. Seeds–which are the ultimate regeneration resource–have now been privatized.

This control of the global seed stock is being manifested in three ways. First, corporations are using genetic modification that necessitates the use of more pesticides, most of which are manufactured by the same corporations. Second, the control of global seed stock means that these corporations can control the price of seeds. So for example, last year Monsanto raised corn seed costs from $200 a bag to $300, which meant that they profited even more off world hunger. The third way they control seed stock was to legally insert into the WTO agreements the inability of farmers to save their own seeds, thus making them dependent on companies like Monsanto to buy their seeds.

One crop where this seed control has been devastating for Indian farmers is with cotton. The GMO cotton seeds that Indian farmers are now forced to buy also require large amounts of pesticides and farmer just end up going into debt. This crisis has resulted in a great deal of resistance, but it has also meant that many Indian farmers have taken their own lives. Shiva said that over 200,000 farmers have committed suicide as a protest of the seed control. One irony with this is that the highest areas of suicide are the same area of Indian where Gandhi’s campaign of homespun cotton began, a campaign that complimented a national boycott of British made clothes from cotton.

Climate Chaos or Earth Democracy

Shiva also addressed the issue of Climate Change, which she said is an inaccurate way of naming the problem. We should call it climate chaos, because with Global Warming, weather patterns have become unpredictable and destabilizing. This, the author/activist said was due to our addiction to fossil fuels.

“We are not phasing out fossil fuels, because they are now used in agribusiness. The toxic nature of fossil fuels agribusiness is killing the soil. 40% of greenhouse gases are produced because of the way we grow and distribute food.”

Shiva believes that the only way to move away from this addiction to fossil fuels, as it relates to agriculture, is a shift to localism, “The local level is where the change must happen, with food production and energy creation. Local food systems are very important and are even an antidote for wars,” Shiva said. “Why did the US go to war in Iraq? Oil. The same is true for Afghanistan and other parts of the world.” She then said that a shift to bio-fuels is not a sustainable solution either. “If all of the corn that is grow in the US right now is used for bio-fuel it would only provide 7% of the fuel needs. So, if the appetite of resource consumption continues then wars are inevitable.”

The author/activist said that the only viable transition away from this corporate structure is what she calls earth democracy:

“The current economic system is based on theft. We have to restore our economy. I started the seed saving group Navdanya as a way of defending life. Life is to be shared, not bought and sold. The earthworm does not eat up the soil that it lives in, it enriches it. We need to catch up to these other species. We need to look to them as teachers, these species, the soil, because that is where life gets renewed. The soil is an alternative to the collapsing economy, to the fossil fuel destruction, and it is an alternative to wars.”

Shiva concluded by saying that earth democracy is different than electoral democracy because in electoral democracy you expect someone else to do it for you, but with earth democracy we must make the changes ourselves.

Headlines: Tibetans Mark 50 Years of Uprising; 1 in 50 U.S. Children Homeless

Democracy Now Headlines: Tibetans Mark 50 Years of Uprising; 1 in 50 U.S. Children Homeless

Headlines from DemocracyNow.org, a daily TV/radio news program, hosted by Amy Goodman and Juan Gonzalez, airing on over 650 stations, pioneering the largest community media collaboration in the US.

US: Iran Lacks Material for Nuke Weapon

US intelligence analysts have concluded Iran lacks sufficient material for a nuclear weapon and hasn’t yet decided if it wants to try to make one. Testifying on Capitol Hill Tuesday, Defense Intelligence Agency director Lt. Gen. Michael Maples was questioned by Republican Senator John McCain.

Sen. John McCain: “General Maples, Do you believe that it is Iran’s intention to develop nuclear weapons?”

Lt. Gen. Michael Maples: “I believe they are holding open that option, sir, but I don’t believe they have yet made that decision.”

Senate OKs Spending Bill After Treasury Assures Cuba Embargo Backers

The Senate has approved a $410 billion omnibus spending bill to fund the federal government for much of this year. The vote came after the Treasury Department assured supporters of the US embargo on Cuba that new provisions in the bill will mark almost no change from current policy. The spending bill was held up last week amidst opposition to several provisions loosening trade and travel restrictions with Cuba. But in a letter sent to lawmakers opposed to easing the embargo, Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner said the provisions will be narrowly enforced. As the Obama administration touted the continued restrictions, a group of South American defense ministers issued a call for ending the embargo. The twelve ministers were gathered at a meeting of the twelve-country Union of South American Nations, or UNASUR.

Uruguayan Defense Minister Jose Bayardi: “Right now Cuba does not represent any security problem for the US. And US policy with respect to Cuba is more determined by internal pressure, by lobby by North American Cubans. That’s the frank analysis of the situation.”

Obama Unveils Education Reforms

President Obama has proposed a new set of reforms to fix what he calls a crumbling education system. On Tuesday, Obama called for a longer school year and higher pay for top teachers.

President Obama: “The future belongs to the nation that best educates its citizens. And my fellow Americans, we have everything we need to be that nation. We have the best universities, the most renowned scholars. We have innovative principals and passionate teachers and gifted students, and we have parents whose only priority is their child’s education. We have a legacy of excellence and an unwavering belief that our children should climb higher than we did.”

Biden Urges NATO Support on Afghanistan

Vice President Joe Biden was in Brussels Tuesday to make a new appeal for international backing of the US-led occupation of Afghanistan. Speaking at a NATO gathering, Biden defended the Obama administration’s escalation of the Afghan war.

Vice President Joe Biden: “I know the people of Europe, like the people of my country, are tired of war, and they are tired of this war. But many of our citizens, both here in Europe and at home, question why we need to send troops and treasure so far from our homes. But we know–we know that it was from the space that joins Afghanistan and Pakistan that the attacks of 9/11 occurred. We know that it was from the very same area that extremists planned virtually every major terrorist attack on Europe since 9/11 and the attack on Mumbai.”

The Obama administration has ordered an additional 17,000 US troops to Afghanistan and is hoping for more non-US forces, as well.

Intel Pick Withdraws Nomination, Blasts Israel Lobby

The Obama administration’s pick to become the nation’s top intelligence analyst has withdrawn his nomination after an intense lobbying campaign by backers of Israeli government policies. Former US Ambassador Charles “Chas” Freeman had come under Republican-led opposition over his comments criticizing Israel’s occupation of Palestinian land. Freeman has years of diplomatic experience, including stints as US ambassador to Saudi Arabia and assistant secretary of defense. Some Democrats joined in on the opposition to Freeman’s appointment.

In a statement, Democratic Senator Charles Schumer took credit for Freeman’s withdrawal, saying, “I repeatedly urged the White House to reject him, and I am glad they did the right thing.”

In a statement, Freeman blasted lobby groups, lawmakers and pundits who support Israeli government policies for forcing his withdrawal. Freeman wrote,

“The tactics of the Israel Lobby plumb the depths of dishonor and indecency…The aim of this Lobby is control of the policy process through the exercise of a veto over the appointment of people who dispute the wisdom of its views, the substitution of political correctness for analysis, and the exclusion of any and all options for decision by Americans and our government other than those that it favors.”

Freeman continued,

“I regret that my willingness to serve the new administration has ended by casting doubt on its ability to consider, let alone decide what policies might best serve the interests of the United States rather than those of a Lobby intent on enforcing the will and interests of a foreign government.”

Gaza Family Sues Israeli Government

In Israel and the Occupied Territories, a Palestinian family that lost twenty-nine relatives in the Israeli attack on Gaza has filed a $200 million lawsuit against the Israeli government. The ordeal of the Samouni family drew international attention after it was revealed Israeli forces shelled their homes and then blocked medical aid. In addition to the twenty-nine dead, another forty-five relatives were injured, most of them children. Family member Naela Samouni described her family’s ordeal.

Naela Samouni: “My mother-in-law died, my sister-in-law and her daughter and two more people. The majority of my family died in the home that I am standing in now. Of course, we’re going to file a lawsuit against them.”

The surviving members of the Samouni family now live in the rubble of their destroyed homes.

Suit: Israel Stealing West Bank Resources

Meanwhile, an Israeli human rights group has filed a High Court challenge seeking to block Israeli digging in the occupied West Bank. The group, Yesh Din, claims Israeli mining in the West Bank amounts to a robbery of Palestinian resources. Yesh Din attorney Michael Sfard said Israel is violating international law.

Michael Sfard: “The natural resources that are digged out of the earth in the West Bank is transferred into Israel for the benefit of the Israeli construction market. This is, of course, an illegal enterprise. It violates the very basic principles of international law and laws of belligerent occupation. It is also immoral, because we’re literally swallowing chunks of the earth of the West Bank that belongs to the people of the West Bank and for their future development.”

According to Yesh Din, 75 percent of the resources mined by Israeli companies in the West Bank are being transferred to Israel. Some of the remaining gravel is being used to construct new Israeli settlements that further carve up Palestinian land.

Clinton Sees Hope in Haiti for “First Time”

In Haiti, former President Bill Clinton joined UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon Tuesday to promote an anti-poverty initiative being launched there. Clinton said he sees signs of hope in the poorest country in the western hemisphere.

Bill Clinton: “I have followed Haiti for more than three decades. This is the first time I have ever really believed that the country had a chance to slip the bonds of poverty and escape the heritage of oppressive government and misgovernment and abuse of people that have held people down too long.”

Clinton is sometimes described as a champion of Haitian democracy for restoring the overthrown elected President Jean-Bertrand Aristide after the first US-backed coup. But Clinton was widely criticized for forcing Aristide to accept US-imposed neoliberal economic policies as a condition for his return to office.

Tibetans Mark 50 Years of Uprising

Here in New York, hundreds of pro-Tibet demonstrators marched through the streets Tuesday to mark the fiftieth anniversary of the Tibetan uprising against China. The marchers passed by the UN and the Chinese consulate.

Protester: “Today is the fiftieth anniversary after we losing our country. So we are here to raise our voice to all the international people, especially to the Chinese, to say that Tibet was an independent and is an independent country still. So we are here together to tell the world the story about our Tibetan cause.”

A parallel demonstration was held near the Chinese embassy in Washington, D.C. The Dalai Lama marked his fifty years in exile on Tuesday by calling for “meaningful autonomy” for Tibet and accusing China of imposing a “hell on earth.”

Afghan Journalist Once Jailed by US Slain in Kandahar

An Afghan journalist once jailed by the US military has died in Afghanistan. Twenty-three-year-old Jawed “JoJo” Ahmad was shot and killed while reporting in Kandahar. Ahmad’s death comes less than six months after his release from US military imprisonment after nearly a year of being held without charge. He was working as a videographer for the Canadian television network CTV when US forces jailed him in October 2007. He later revealed US soldiers broke two of his ribs, deprived him of sleep and held him in a grave-like cell during his captivity. After his release, Ahmad said he wanted to tell his story and help other prisoners abused at the US-run Bagram prison where he was held. In a statement, law professor Barbara Olshansky of International Justice Networks said, “‘s death should compel all who have stood in the way of examining US policies in Afghanistan to make way for the investigation that has been needed for eight years. We are all responsible for the death of a brave young man who worked for the US and Canada in Afghanistan and paid the ultimate price for his heroism.”

Van Jones to Advise Obama on Green Jobs

The Obama administration has tapped author and activist Van Jones to become a special adviser for green jobs, enterprise and innovation. Jones is expected to start work next week. He is author of the bestselling The Green Collar Economy, which lays out a plan for a green economy he says could help solve the nation’s economic inequality while also addressing the long-term environmental threats to our survival as a planet. Jones is the founding president of Green for All and the founder of the Ella Baker Center for Human Rights. That group challenges human rights abuses within the US criminal justice system.

Attorney: Madoff to Plead Guilty on All Charges

The indicted financier Bernie Madoff appeared in a federal court Tuesday on allegations of operating one of the biggest frauds in Wall Street history. Madoff was arrested last year and accused of running an estimated $50 billion Ponzi scheme. Madoff’s lawyer says he will plead guilty to all criminal charges in court tomorrow. He faces a prison sentence of 150 years.

Staffers Force Disabled Youths to Fight at Texas Facility

In Texas, caretakers at a state-run residential facility have been caught forcing disabled youths to fight each other. Cell phone video shows staffers provoking and then shoving the youths to ensure they start fighting. Corpus Christi Police Captain Tim Wilson called the fights some of the worst child abuse he’s seen in over thirty years.

10 Die in Alabama Shooting

In Alabama, a lone gunman killed at least nine people in a shooting spree Tuesday before taking his own life. Four of the victims were relatives of the gunman.

Study: 1 in 50 US Children Homeless

A new study says that one in fifty American children are homeless. The National Center on Family Homelessness says the number marks an increase over ten years ago and continues to grow.

Foreclosed Homeowners Call for Bankruptcy Reform

In Washington, D.C., a bus tour of foreclosed homeowners made its final stop Tuesday after a cross-country trip. The “Recovery Express” picked up passengers who lost their homes in eight cities across the nation. Edith Adachi made the trip from Chicago.

Edith Adachi: “My home is gone. I’m never going to get that home back again. But there’s many of you who have homes and now in foreclosure, and there’s something we can do about them. And I’m here to represent all those people.”

The “Recovery Express” was organized by the group People Improving Communities through Organizing, or PICO. Organizers are calling for bankruptcy law reform that would grant troubled homeowners the right to appear before a bankruptcy court if banks won’t negotiate with them.

Green Architect Greg Franta Found Dead at 58

And the green architect Greg Franta has been found dead. His body was discovered inside his car in a ravine between Golden and Boulder, Colorado. It appears that he crashed on his way home over a month ago, when he was reported missing. Greg was the chief architect at Rocky Mountain Institute and named Colorado architect of the year in 1998. He worked with the Clinton administration to make the White House more energy efficient. He had been spearheading the building of Democracy Now!’s new studio, which we are looking forward to being the first LEED-certified TV/radio/internet studio in New York City. In this video for the Rocky Mountain Institute, Franta spoke about the importance of green building.

Greg Franta: “When we think about high-performance buildings, it’s having a lower environmental impact, and it’s good for our economy. Creating a place for the building users, so it becomes sustainable in a variety of ways.”

Greg Franta was fifty-eight. His death is a tremendous loss for us all. Our condolences to his family and to the Rocky Mountain Institute, which we know will continue to pursue his dreams of building a more sustainable world.