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An eco-nerd reflects on Earth Day
by Heidi Kyser | posted April 22, 2014

Earth Day in Clark County started with a warning from the Department of Air Quality: 25-35 mps winds are stirring up dust and ozone, making time outdoors a bad idea for “sensitive groups.” It fits with my mood this April 22.

Scanning the press releases I’ve received about Earth Day events, I grow as ill-humored as the weather. Most encourage some type of consumerism, and a couple blatantly capitalize on the holiday with no apparent environmental benefit at all.

If you really must shop, it’s obviously best to use the Clean Energy Project’s “Buy Green List,” released today with 50 purveyors of coffee, insurance, antiques and other stuff by eco-friendly businesses. Or, you could go to Town Square this weekend and learn how to replace disposable products with reusable ones.

Some events – such as the University Forum Lecture this evening at UNLV, “Assuming the Ecosexual Position: Making the Environmental Movement More Sexy, Fun and Diverse” — are at least educational. And a BOGO ticket promotion at the Monorail could entice some Strip visitors to park their cars and try the lower-carbon option of public transportation.

But that’s as far outside our comfort zone as we’re expected to go, apparently. Few of the week’s events and promotions require a truly meaningful effort on the part of participants. And none captures the essence of the original 1970 manifestation, for which millions of Americans, of all political stripes, took to the streets to raise awareness of pollution.  

That’s the kind of agitation I’d expect in reaction to the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change’s March 31 report bearing this cheery news: “The world, in many cases, is ill-prepared for risks from a changing climate… There are opportunities to respond to such risks, though the risks will be difficult to manage with high levels of warming.” Simply replacing your light bulbs, in other words, isn’t going to do the trick.

And we’re capable of much more, as was proven recently in Southern Nevada. For Earth Day 2012, the Moapa Band of Paiutes led a group of Native Americans in a three-day Cultural Healing Walk to protest coal pollution in their community. Just a couple weeks earlier, NV Energy had announced plans to begin closing its coal-fired plants in favor of renewable energy. That’s what I call an Earth Day!

But there’s plenty more work to be done; it’s obvious from the fact that our malls still feel they have to teach shoppers the difference between disposable and reusable products. I’m afraid anyone who hasn’t figured that out yet is a long way from joining the green revolution that today was intended to be.



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Recent news topics that also make good band names
by Andrew Kiraly & Scott Dickensheets | posted April 21, 2014
UPDATED APRIL 21:
 
AirTran
 
Parking Lot Suicide Kings
 
Bundy Clash
 
UPDATED APRIL 15:
 
The Federal Backdown
("Smooth — even placating — jazz for the don't-tread-on-me crowd." — Horton Veal, Jazz Hands magazine)
 
Duck! the Shoe
(Cryptic protest folk from an exciting new one-woman band. "More than just music, it's a diagnosis!" — George Will, Pithfork)
 
Blood Moon Rising
(Credence Clearwater Revisited cover band. "Sounds like a copy of a copy, and that's good enough for us!" — Sherwood Applejack, music booker, Fremont Street Experience
 
UPDATED APRIL 7:
 
Broke Rear Ends
 
UPDATED APRIL 5:
 
The Drones
 
Gloria Lee and the Octogenarian Priest High-Roller Murder Cult
 
Face of Deficit
 
UPDATED APRIL 3:
 
Dark Money
 
UPDATED APRIL 2:
 
Sex with Inmates
 
Arson Puppies
 
Marijuana Suckers
 
Pangolin Traffic
 
Massive Buildup
 
The Donors
 
Dissenting Judge
 
Return to Fukushima
 
The Finalists
 
High-Level Administrators
 
Misuse of Funds
 
The Quintuplets
 
The Million Dollar Tarps
 
Lockdown
 
Simulator
 
Sheldon’s Campaign
 
Trespass Cattle
 
 
 
 


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Don't fence them in
by Heidi Kyser | posted April 18, 2014

Before the press published photos of armed militiamen – who’d come from all over the country to stand with embattled Bunkerville, Nev., rancher Cliven Bundy – pointing their guns at BLM officers; before the BLM capitulated and gave back the cattle it had seized from Bundy as punishment for his not paying grazing fees; before Senator Harry Reid called the militiamen domestic terrorists and urged the BLM not to drop the matter … Before all that, there was the First Amendment Area controversy. Remember that? The BLM’s putting up impromptu fences and designating protest areas was the first reason critics seized on to chastise the BLM for mishandling the situation. Governor Brian Sandoval himself called on the bureau to dismantle the offensive pens.

First Amendment areas – originally called “free speech zones” when first implemented in the peace protests of the 1960s and’70s -- are used to for protests all over the world – even right here in Nevada, just a couple hours’ drive north of Bunkerville, at the former nuclear test site. Anti-nuke demonstrations there were once so regular that the Department of Energy installed permanent fencing, and would also set up impromptu restrooms and water stands when groups would arrive, to accommodate them.

Why do First Amendment areas seem to make some people mad and not others? We asked UNLV political science professor Michael Bowers, who specializes in civil rights and liberties, to explain.

Have First Amendment Areas always been as hotly contested as today?

I do not recall them being quite so controversial as they are now. Perhaps that is because they were used against groups that were unpopular, such as hippies, and yuppies and middle-aged folks didn't much care. Now the zones are being expanded to include others.

What’s the government’s argument for using them?

The argument is one about keeping the public safe. Sometimes, it is about keeping a VIP such as the president safe by separating him from protesters.

How are they supposed to promote safety?

The idea is to keep the VIP and the protesters physically separated in order to avoid someone taking a shot or engaging in other potentially injurious behavior. 

Intuitively, it does seem obvious both that free speech should be allowed anywhere and that the government has a duty to keep the public safe in potentially explosive confrontations (such as the one between Bundy’s supporters and the BLM). Are these interests inherently at odds?

Public safety and the First Amendment aren't inherently at odds. Those who assemble and express their opinions in peaceful ways are not a danger to public safety. It's when they become violent or engage in illegal behavior (which is not protected by the First Amendment) that public safety is threatened.

Would something in the Bunkerville situation make the idea of these areas particularly inflammatory?

[Bundy supporters’] opposition to the federal government would certainly inform their opinion of anything it did in a negative way. This is just one more thing it did. 

If not in a First Amendment area, then what is the right way to protect the public?

The way to do it right is obviously to have sufficient protection so that those on both sides are allowed to express their opinions. That is more difficult in some situations than others, of course.

 

Get more insight into Nevada's history, and how it shapes its politics, in Bowers' book The Sagebrush State.



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