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While You Were Sleeping 

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In May, Coke announced that it will test a new plastic bottle in North America that’s partly made from sugar cane and molasses later this year with its Dasani and Vitaminwtare brands. The new bottle is made from a blend of petroleum-based materials and up to 30 percent plant-based materials that are by-products of sugar production.

The bottled water industry has received harsh criticism in recent years for creating vast amounts of plastic waste. Scott Vitters, director of sustainable packaging for Coke. “This innovation is a real win because it moves us closer to our vision of zero waste with a material that lessens our carbon footprint and is also recyclable.” It is estimated that over 85 million plastic bottles are used every three minutes.
Source: Sustainable Business


In 2002, the Environmental Protection Agency ordered General Electric to over 100 tons of polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs) from the Hudson River. It is estimated that 1.3 million pounds of PCBsflowed into the Hudson north of Albany from two General Electric factories for three decades before they were banned, in 1977. (In high doses, PCBs cause cancer in animals and federal agencies list PCBs as a probable human carcinogen.) A 200-mile stretch of the Hudson River, from Hudson Falls to the tip of Manhattan, was declared a federal Superfund site in 1984.

On May 15, the initial phase of the dredging of PCBS from the Hudson began along a six-mile stretch across the river from GE’s former industrial site in Fort Edward. Twelve dredges are to work round the clock, six days a week, into October, removing sediment laced with PCBs. Mile-long freight trains running every several days will carry the dried mud to a hazardous-waste landfill in Texas. As per the requirements of the Superfund law, GE is supervising and paying for the cleanup. Estimates on the cost of the clean-up range from $750 million to more than three times that amount. The project is expected to extend through 2015.

A responsible party in 52 active Superfund sites across the country, GE has a lawsuit challenging the constitutionality of the Superfund law working its way through federal court. Mark Behan, a company spokesman, said that the challenge to the Superfund law “has no bearing on the Hudson project.”
Source: New York Times


May 15 was National Bike-to-Work Day, but at outdoor-gear giant Patagonia, everyday is Bike-to-Work Day. Out of 165 full-time employees who work at the company’s distribution center five miles from downtown Reno, Nevada, more than half of them get there everyday in some form other than by driving a car. The building is equipped with showers and lockers, plus dozens of bike racks. Patagonia offers incentives to employees who bike, walk, carpool, or even ski to work. They can spend their earned credits on clothing and products at the Patagonia outlet store. Patagonia is consistently ranked near the top in “Best Places To Work” polls.
Source: KOLO TV-8


According to a Justice Department report released in early May, the FBI has incorrectly kept 24,000 people on its terrorist watch list—comprising 1.1 million names and aliases. One of the biggest problems identified in the report was the government’s use of outdated information to keep people on the list. People with names similar to actual terrorists have voiced concern that it took months to be removed from the list. Other errors include Senator Ted Kennedy and Representative John Lewis both appearing on the list, as well as subjects of terrorism investigations—such as one Special Forces soldier in Afghanistan who was ultimately convicted of stealing thousands of rounds of ammunition and explosives for what was suspected to be the makings of a domestic terror plot—who did not make it on to the list at all.
Source: New York Times


On the day after Thanksgiving last year, Jdimytai Damour, a temporary worker at a Wal-Mart store on Long Island, was trampled to death by a crowd of 2,000 people who broke the down the doors of the store just before it was scheduled to open. Instead of facing a trial in the death of Damour, Wal-Mart agreed in early May to pay $2 million and to implement a crowd-management plan for post-Thanksgiving Day sales. The agreement did not include an admission of wrongdoing by Wal-Mart.
Source: Associated Press


File these two quotes under political bigotry in a polite mask: Arkansas Senate Minority Leader Kim Hendron, who is running for the US Senate on the Republican ticket, apologized for calling New York Senator Chuck Schumer “that Jew” at a county Republican meeting. “I was attempting to explain that, unlike Senator Schumer, I believe in traditional values, like we used to see on ‘The Andy Griffith Show’,” Hendron said. He added that there is a Jewish person in history he admires—Jesus.


The District of Columbia Council voted 12 to 1 in May to recognize same-sex marriages performed elsewhere in the country in early May. Former mayor Marion Barry, a council member representing Ward 8, was the sole dissenting vote. Prophesying a same-sex marriage-incited conflagration, Barry said, “All hell is going to break loose. We may have a civil war. The black community is just adamant against this.” The DC Council has seven black members on its council. Despite the council’s decision, as of late May, no internecine fighting was reported in the vicinity of Ward 8.
Sources: Arkansas News, Daily News, Washington Post, Atlantic

In mid May, Senate Democrats rejected President Obama’s request for $80 million to close the Guantanamo Bay prison, voting to withhold funding until the president determines what will happen to the 240 detainees once they leave the facility. At issue is a concern raised by Republicans that the detainees should not enter US prisons and be tried in US courts. “US jails are typically for US citizens,” said Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell. “These are foreign terrorists, detained on the battlefield in the war on terror.” A Justice Department task force which assessed the detainees earlier this year, determined that 30 prisoners were suitable for release. But except for France and Britain, who’ve agreed to take one detainee a piece, no other countries are willing to accept shipment of Gitmo prisoners, many captured in Afghanistan. European leaders have told the US that they are unwilling to accept those cleared for release from Guantanamo if the US will not do the same.
In an unreleased report published by the New York Times on May 21, Pentagon officials concluded that of the 534 prisoners already transferred abroad, one in seven has returned to “terrorism or militant activity.”
Sources: Washington Post, New York Times

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  • GE begins dredging the Hudson, closing Guantanamo Bay, and more.

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