You may remember the Paducah, Kentucky nuclear weapons plant that recently made headlines. The U.S. Department of Energy plans to compensate plant workers there who are suffering from cancer and other radiation illnesses. However, The NASHVILLE TENNESSEEAN reports that workers in the similar Oak Ridge, Tennessee plant are disappointed they are not getting similar attention.
It was recently disclosed that workers in both plants were not told that the uranium they worked with also contained plutonium, which is potently radioactive. Many workers at and neighbors of nuclear weapons sites in the area have been diagnosed with unexplained neurological, respiratory, and immune disorders. One resident of Paducah said, "Every household around the plant has a different story."
To bring attention to health problems at the Oak Ridge plant and seek fair treatment and compensation, the president of a support group for ill workers and neighbors is leading a trip to Washington to state the workers' case.
The Oak Ridge workers are not the first group in the U.S. to fight for government compensation for occupational exposure to uranium. Navajo uranium miners who worked under extremely unsafe conditions during the Cold War received some compensation in recent years for radiation-related deaths and illnesses.
Public school gives up Christian textbooks
The principal of Belridge (Calif.) Elementary School, Robert Wentland, announced Wednesday that he would ship all the school's Christian textbooks back to the publisher, according to the ASSOCIATED PRESS. Combining Christian ideology with different subjects, the books informed students that only Christians go to heaven and Native Americans "attained a degree of civilization" but "had no knowledge of the true God, and without this knowledge all other attainments are worthless."
Wentland held public meetings this summer about the books, and all parents were shown textbook samples and signed consent forms. He returned the materials, however, after the ACLU filed a lawsuit on behalf of a retired minister and a woman who had pulled her daughter out of the school. Nevertheless, Wentland said, "The state of California would be hard-pressed to find books as good."
Kids buy slaves, fuel demand
It was a heartwarming story -- the kind of good news today's media eat up: Children in a Colorado elementary school were so upset last year when they learned that Sudanese children were being sold into slavery, they raised enough money (in conjunction with the American Anti-Slavery Group and Christian Solidarity International) to free more than 1,000 of them, at a price of about $50 per slave. Now the fifth-graders want to do it again this year, and they've inspired hundreds of copycat bake-sale movements elsewhere in the country.
Problem is, the more slaves these kids and their well-meaning benefactors buy, the better the market becomes for slave-traders in Sudan and elsewhere in Africa, as the CONSERVATIVE NEWS NETWORK has correctly pointed out. So rather than ending slavery, these apple-cheeked kids are actually fueling its growth by increasing demand.
Now, after having been informed of this unfortunate and unintended consequence by UNICEF, the kids' teacher has refused to call off the program, saying she will leave it up to the kids to decide whether to continue buying slaves, according to the DENVER POST. Let's hope fifth grade isn't too young for a lesson in macroeconomics, because it seems their teacher is too old for a lesson in common sense.
Report: Free trade threatens forests
INTER PRESS SERVICE (IPS) reports that environmental groups fear that the world's forests may be on the "chopping block" at the upcoming meeting of the World Trade Organization (WTO). On the agenda is discussion of a global free-logging agreement being proposed by the United States. The proposal calls for a reduction in tariffs worldwide in wood and paper products.
A coalition of over 100 environmental groups, most of them based in the Pacific Northwest, has issued a 32 page report which claims that reduced tariffs will undermine each individual nation's ability to protect its forests, and increase worldwide consumption of forest products overall.
The report also cites a number of cases in which the interests of free trade and environmental protection clash. For example, WTO regulations could prevent countries from blocking importation of lumber infested with foreign insects that pose a danger to indigenous forests.
Judge says GM hid evidence
THE ATLANTA JOURNAL-CONSTITUTION reports that a Fulton County Judge has accused General Motors and its legal team of defrauding the court and obstructing justice. The Judge slammed the car manufacturer and its lawyers for suppressing key evidence which showed that GM chose to ignore safety problems with the fuel tank used in certain models. The evidence in question? Attorney's notes taken during interviews with GM engineer Edward Ivey about a crash safety report he wrote 26 years ago.
"Plaintiffs have exposed a shameful scheme by GM to defraud and mislead several courts, to thwart and obstruct justice and to enjoy the ill-gotten gains of likely perjury," wrote the judge in his ruling, which ordered GM to produce the controversial notes within five days.
In an interesting subplot, one of the lawyers who may be implicated by the documents is none other than Kenneth Starr, who, before taking a job as an independent counsel, defended GM in product liability lawsuits. While Jim Butler, the plaintiff's counsel in this wrongful death civil suit, has explicitly accused Starr of being involved in wrongdoing, the judge's order did not mention Starr. However, in what the JOURNAL-CONSTITUTION called an "unusual motion," last week GM lawyers asked the court to forbid Butler from mentioning Starr during the upcoming trial.
In February of last year, the MoJo Wire broke the story that Starr may have obstructed justice while defending GM against lawsuits. This latest ruling may bring GM and its lawyers, including Starr, one step closer to prosecution for supressing information about Ivey's report.