Jun 03 2011

Weekly Digest – 06/03/11

Our weekly edition is a nationally syndicated one-hour digest of the best of our daily coverage.

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This week on Uprising:

* In the Wake of Severe Tornadoes, How Can Communities Adapt to a Warmer Planet?
* Brazil and Chile Dam Projects Generate Widespread Protests
* Banks, GOP, Continue to Oppose Consumer Finance Protection Bureau

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In the Wake of Severe Tornadoes, How Can Communities Adapt to a Warmer Planet?

Two severe tornadoes in Western and Central Massachusetts this week killed 4 people, injured 200, and left 55,000 utility customers without power. Tornadoes in the New England state are relatively rare, and reflect the increased incidence of major storms this year. Senator John Kerry toured the devastated areas, assuring communities of federal aid. The Massachusetts storms came just a week after a massive tornado in Joplin, Missouri where an estimated 138 people died. President Obama visited Joplin this past Sunday, saying “[your country] will be with you every step of the way until Joplin is restored and this community is back on its feet.” The National Oceanic & Atmospheric Administration announced that the Joplin tornado was the deadliest in the US since 1957. Another major city to be hit was Tuscaloosa, Alabama, where 32 people died and thousands were made homeless on April 27th after a major tornado. The storm forced a pair of Nuclear plants to go offline, leaving more than a million people without power. This year has been the deadliest year for tornadoes in the U.S. since 1950. Is this a harbinger of the future? Is there a link between this severe weather, and global warming that is caused by green house gas emissions from fossil fuels? According to Mark Hertsgaard, “For more than 20 years, many of America’s political, business and media leaders have deliberately chosen to ignore scientific warnings about what would happen if we didn’t kick our addiction to fossil fuels, preferring instead the disinformation of the fossil fuel lobby.”

GUEST: Mark Hertsgaard, author of “HOT: Living Through the Next Fifty Years on Earth,” and Amy Seidl, author of “Finding Higher Ground: Adaptation in the Age of Warming

Find out more about Mark Hertsgaard here: www.markhertsgaard.com.

Find out more about Amy Seidl here: www.earlyspringthebook.com

Read Bill McKibben’s article in the Washington Post here: http://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/a-link-between-climate-
change-and-joplin-tornadoes-never/2011/05/23/AFrVC49G_print.html

Brazil and Chile Dam Projects Generate Widespread Protests

belo monteA Brazilian environmental agency on Wednesday gave final approval for the hotly contested Belo Monte hydroelectric dam project. Once completed, the Belo Monte dam will generate about 11% of Brazil’s current energy needs. It will be the world’s third largest dam at 3.75 miles long, and, if construction begins soon, will be completed in 2015. Belo Monte has been in the works for 30 years but has been stalled repeatedly by opposition. Indigenous groups and environmental and human rights activists maintain the project will cause catastrophic harm to the Amazon rain forest and tribes living within it. Over the estimated 8 years of construction heavy machinery and thousands of workers will be introduced to sensitive forest areas. The Guardian reports that 30,000 indigenous people will be displaced by the dam, and 62 miles of the Xingu river will go partially dry. Meanwhile in Chile, a proposed hydroelectric dam project there has been the target of protests for months. On May 21st in the nation’s capitol, Santiago, 20,000 Chileans rallied against the Hidro Aysen project. Comprised of five dams, the Hidro Aysen would flood an estimated 14,000 acres of farmland and forests. It would require a 1,500 mile transmission line corridor to be cut through rainforest and other protected lands.

GUEST: Aviva Imhof, Interim Executive Director of International Rivers, an organization founded, “To protect rivers and defend the rights of communities that depend on them.”

Find out more at www.internationalrivers.org.

Banks, GOP, Continue to Oppose Consumer Finance Protection Bureau

warrenThe Consumer Finance Protection Bureau is set to begin regulating July 21st, but its purpose and de facto leader Elizabeth Warren are under attack. The CFPB was conceived by Warren and established under the 2010 Dodd-Frank financial reform legislation. Warren argues that consumers deserve at least as much protection from deceptive banking and lending practices as they do from purchasing a faulty toaster. The new agency will regulate loans, including those made by banks, pay day lenders, and student loan agencies. For the past year the banking and lending industry has spent millions lobbying members of Congress to weaken the Bureau and refuse Warren an appointment as Director. Some see the Bureau as a logical response to fraudulent and harmful lending practices that contributed to the 2008 financial meltdown. However others, like Republican Representative Jeb Hensling are predicting an avalanche of stifling regulation, calling the Bureau “one of the greatest assaults on economic liberty in [his] lifetime.” A Warren nomination for director of the Bureau is opposed by the GOP and members of President Obama’s own cabinet. As the CFPB’s grand opening day looms, Warren’s supporters in and out of Congress are pushing the President to make a recess appointment. Nation magazine contributor Ari Berman recently published an article on the battle over the Consumer Finance Protection Bureau and joins me on the phone.

GUEST: Ari Berman, is a contributing writer for The Nation magazine and an Investigative Journalism Fellow at The Nation Institute.

Read Ari Berman’s article here: The Bank Lobby Steps Up Its Attack on Elizabeth Warren

Sonali’s Subversive Thought for the Day:

“The corporate lobby in Washington is basically designed to stifle all legislative activity on behalf of consumers.” — Ralph Nader

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