elsewhere_0309WASHINGTON, D.C.
Capitol Climate Action: A national coalition of more than 40 environmental, public health, labor, social justice, faith-based and other advocacy groups plan to engage in civil disobedience at the Capitol Power Plant on the afternoon of March 2. The Capitol Climate Action, the largest mass mobilization on global warming in the country’s history, reflects the growing public demand for bold action to address the climate and energy crises. Wendell Berry, poet laureate and intellectual leader of the organic movement, and thousands of others intend to stage a multi-generational act of civil disobedience at the Capitol Power Plant, the utility that powers Congress with dirty energy and symbolizes a past that threatens our future. “The Capitol Climate Action comes not a moment too soon. For more than thirty years, scientists, environmentalists and people from all walks of life have urged our leaders to take action to stop global warming; and that action has yet to come,” said Dr. James Hansen, one of the world’s leading climate scientists. Dr. Hansen will join the protest. “Coal is the biggest source of greenhouse gas emissions in the country and that must change. The world is waiting for the Obama administration and Congress to lead the way forward on this defining issue of our time. They need to start by getting coal out of Congress.” The Capitol Power Plant, which is owned by Congress and sits just blocks from the American seat of power, burns coal to heat and cool numerous buildings on Capitol Hill. The facility no longer generates electricity, but its reliance on coal – the country’s biggest source of global warming pollution and a documented health hazard – has made it the focus of political controversy and a powerful symbol of coal’s impact on the environment and public health. In response to public pressure, the House of Representatives converted half of the plant’s fuel to cleaner natural gas. But attempts to remove coal from the fuel mix entirely have been blocked by powerful coal-state Senators Robert C. Byrd (D-W.Va.) and Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.). “This demonstration marks the beginning of a sustained effort to draw a line in the sand against this dirty and dangerous fuel,” said Matt Leonard of Greenpeace, which is helping to organize the protest. “Our leaders cannot promise us a healthy and prosperous future as long as coal is polluting our soil, water and atmosphere.” – www.capitolclimateaction.org

Research on Integrative Medicine:
The North American Research Conference on Complementary & Integrative Medicine will take place May 12-15 at the Hilton Minneapolis Hotel. This conference is sponsored by the Consortium of Academic Health Centers for Integrative Medicine, which consists of 42 leading academic medical centers from across North America. This is a follow-up to the very successful first conference presented in Edmonton, Alberta, in May 2006, which was itself the third in a series of international meetings initially co-sponsored by Harvard Medical School and the University of California, San Francisco. The North American Research Conference on Complementary & Integrative Medicine is international in scope and invites and encourages the submission of scientific abstracts and proposals for sessions from corporate scientists, academic researchers, educators and healthcare providers worldwide. The conference will showcase original scientific complementary, alternative and integrative medical research through keynote and plenary presentations, oral and poster presentations, and innovative scientific sessions. Areas presented and discussed at this conference will include basic science, clinical, methodological, health services and education research. All interested researchers, educators and practitioners as well as conventional practitioners are urged to attend. This goal of the directors of this conference is to provide a single event that attracts a critical mass of cutting-edge, peer-reviewed science and discussion in the broad field of complementary and integrative medical research. The conference invites and benefits enormously from collaboration with many major professional organizations, publishers and granting agencies. Events throughout the four-day meeting are designed to foster the development of new collaborations and to strengthen existing partnerships. For more information, call 712.767.7984. – www.imconsortium-conference.org

New Constitution:
A national referendum on January 25 approved the country’s new constitution, granting long-overdue rights to the country’s indigenous majority in an effort to address 500 years of injustice. More than 60 percent of Bolivia’s population self-identify as indigenous, and nearly the same percentage live under the poverty line. The new constitution establishes Bolivia as pluri-national (a nation containing many nations), formally recognizing the country’s 36 indigenous and Afro-Bolivian nations. It also requires that government offices be able to communicate with their constituents in their own language, rather than speaking only in Spanish, a language a significant number of indigenous people don’t speak. The constitution grants autonomy to indigenous groups across the nation, enabling them to govern their own communities, develop their own economy, and administer the use of natural resources. These changes to the constitution, as well as the new parts of the document which call for state control of natural resources, seek to ensure the majority of Bolivians benefit from the country’s vast oil and gas reserves, resources which have historically been looted by multinational corporations and wealthy families. In addition, the new constitution reserves seats in the Senate and Congress specifically for representatives from indigenous communities, and officially recognizes forms of community justice practiced by many indigenous groups in the country – as long as the practices adhere to existing Bolivian law. – www.indiancountrytoday.com

Global classroom design:
Worldwide, 776 million people are illiterate. To address this crisis by providing access to a quality education for all children, there is a pressing need to upgrade the crumbling infrastructure of tens of millions of existing classrooms, and build ten million new classrooms. Meeting this challenge represents the largest building project the world has ever undertaken. In response, Orient Global, Architecture for Humanity and a consortium of partners are launching the 2009 Open Architecture Challenge: Classroom, the first large-scale initiative to improve the design of classrooms around the world. The 2009 Open Architecture Challenge invites the global design and construction community to collaborate with primary and secondary school teachers and students to create smarter, safer and more sustainable learning environments. Teams can partner with a school of their choice or design a classroom for one of our school-building partners. Registration ends May 1 and entries are due June 1. The winning school will receive up to $50,000 to build or improve its classrooms and its design team will receive a $5,000 grant to help make it happen. The design competition will be judged by an international, inter-disciplinary panel of experts in the fields of both education and architecture (including students themselves). The resulting entries will be available and accessible to all on the Open Architecture Network [www.openarchitecturenetwork.org]. – www.goodnewsagency.org



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