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Somali Pirates

The Somali Pirates have a one sided portrayal in American news media – murderers and thieves that are making a mess of international shipping. Of course, the vast majority of people then get the impression that the world is full of black and white – bad pirates and innocent ship workers just trying to make an honest buck.

Like all stories, the players are far more nuanced. Somalia currently lacks a functioning government. This is an opportunity for international fishers and polluters to overfish the waters and dump toxic waste that destroys the shoreline. “The UN Environment Programme (UNEP) reported the tsunami had washed up rusting containers of toxic waste on the shores of Puntland.” (1) Many of these pirates were originally fishermen and other people who made a living from the water. “Since the containers came ashore, hundreds of residents have fallen ill, suffering from mouth and abdominal bleeding, skin infections and other ailments.” (1)

So what does the United States and other nations do? Cut off the incentives for most of the impoverished people to become pirates by aiding the Somali people in protecting their environment and livelihood? Of course not. The international community suggests ships hire more mercenaries and do nothing to stop vessels using the water to violate international environmental standards. Very conducive to a safe and sustainable world.

Its the same problem with terrorism. Why to people become “terrorists?” Most do it because they are illiterate, poor, and easily manipulated into taking their anger out on who ever they believe to be the cause of their family’s suffering. The U.S. coming in an trying to stop terrorism with guns would be laughable if it wasn’t tragically devastating for all parties. This Onion headline sums it up nicely: link to article.

Sources:

http://english.aljazeera.net/news/africa/2008/10/2008109174223218644.html

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Piracy_in_Somalia

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Chicago Industrial Polluters

Reading for my class and came across this:

Some of the costs of air pollution are shouldered by the industry that may be responsible, in the form of higher costs of production, for pollution control and poor public relations. Much of the cost of pollution control is passed through as higher prices for goods and services to offset costs. However, the cost of the effects of pollution are not accounted for and may be considerably greater. The public bears most of the costs of air pollution: human health problems, destruction of materials, plant and animal damage, poor visibility, loss of appeal for tourists, and reduced quality of life for residents. As many of these costs are not obvious, they are not charged back to the industry that may be responsible. This means that the community subsidizes, or indirectly pays for, the cost of the industry to do business.

p333, Basic Environmental Health, Yassi, et al.

Problem in Chicago is that the wealthy residents utilized their power to keep these industrial polluters out of their backyard. The poor didn’t have that power and so they’ve been forced to be the community that subsidizes industry. How many non-compliant coal plants are on the north side or north suburbs? How many diesel truck depots are on the south side? North side? Class warfare? At least the poor didn’t fire the first shot.

Support the Chicago Clean Power Ordinance! Call your Alderman and demand she/he support it! Follow progress on twitter #chicoal.