Bush’s Pick/ Jenny Brundin
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Last month, President Bush nominated Utah Governor Mike Leavitt to head the Environmental Protection Agency. The Republican governor is seen as a moderate who tries to find the middle ground to resolve complex environmental issues. But environmental groups say Leavitt is pro-business and doesn t always consult them on important issues. Jenny Brundin of member station KUER has this profile of Governor Mike Leavitt. (08:00)
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Eco-terrorists struck especially hard in the West this summer, torching car dealerships and a construction site and bombing a biotechnology company. They caused more financial damage than in dozens of earlier attacks combined. (03:00)
Environmental Health Note/West Nile Vaccine/ Diane Toomey
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Living on Earth's Diane Toomey reports on progress in the development of a vaccine against the West Nile Virus. (01:20)
Almanac/Going Down the Road
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This week, we have facts about America's first cross-country highway. Ninety years ago, the 3,300-mile Lincoln Highway became the Main Street across America. (01:20)
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Thirty years ago, camera crews descended on jungles in the Philippines to document what appeared to be the last tribe of Stone Age people. Through the years, however, the Tasaday became the object of a suspected scam, an elaborate hoax for attention and profit. Host Steve Curwood speaks with Robin Hemley, author of "Invented Eden: The Elusive, Disputed History of the Tasaday." (08:30)
Lewis & Clark Trail/ Barrett Golding
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This year marks the 200th anniversary of the Lewis & Clark expedition. Thousands of Americans are expected to visit historic points along the trail of discovery. Producer Barrett Golding cycled the entire trail and brings us this audio postcard of a tribal elder and spiritual leader in Lewiston, Idaho. (03:30)
Lessons from 9/11/ Heather Dubin
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Heather Dubin was teaching in a high school next door to the World Trade Center on September 11th. The school reopened six months later. Dubin comments on the safety of that decision, given recent reports that the EPA misled the public about the quality of the air in lower Manhattan. (03:00)
Emerging Science Note/Sponge Optics
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Living on Earth’s Cynthia Graber reports on a deep-sea sponge that creates highly efficient fiber optics. (01:20)
Grazing in the Grass/ Guy Hand
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A small number of ranchers are rejecting the feedlot system and raising their cows on grass. Guy Hand follows one cattleman as he tries to make a go of ranching the old-fashioned way and selling direct to a new group of consumers. (13:30)
HOST: Steve CurwoodGUESTS: Robin HemleyREPORTERS: Jenny Brundin, Ingrid Lobet, Guy HandCOMMENTARIES: Heather DubinNOTES: Diane Toomey, Cynthia Graber
CURWOOD: From NPR, this is Living on Earth.
CURWOOD: I’m Steve Curwood. There’s been a new wave of arson, bombs, and other attacks in the name of environmental protest in the western U.S. So far, no one’s been hurt but the damage runs into the tens of millions of dollars.
Also, out west, bucking the trend of feeding antibiotics and grain to cattle by sending them out to pasture.
ELZINGA: I think that wherever you get farther detached from the original way things were – like cattle originally ate grass. Grass! You know, and the more and more we remove these animals from the original things that they were meant to eat, the more and more concerns we're going to see as we eat them.
CURWOOD: The story of grass-fed beef, this week on Living on Earth. And the lessons of 9/11 for one New York City schoolteacher, coming up right after this.
ANNOUNCER: Support for Living on Earth comes from the National Science Foundation and Stonyfield Farm.
CURWOOD: Welcome to Living on Earth. I’m Steve Curwood.
Senate Democrats are hoping to turn upcoming confirmation hearings for a new administrator of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency into a critical review of the White House itself. The environment is shaping up to be a key issue for the presidential campaign. So that means the EPA nominee Utah Governor Mike Leavitt will likely face tougher questions and stiffer opposition than his record might otherwise engender. From Salt Lake City, Jenny Brundin of member station KUER has this profile of the man nominated to protect our nation’s environment.
|(Photo: National Governors Association)||
BRUNDIN: Utah governor Mike Leavitt has a simple yarn that neatly sums up his views on the environment. It’s his story of seeing two very different bumper stickers in the same part of town.
LEAVITT: The first one said “Earth first - we’ll mine the other planets later” and the second one said “Save the earth, kill yourself.” I’m thinking somewhere in between those two bumper stickers is where the vast majority of people have their hearts and minds.
BRUNDIN: The 52-year old Republican governor’s middle-of-the-road approach to enviromental issues were shaped in large measure by his roots.
[SOUND OF BIRD FLYING]
BRUNDIN: Leavitt grew up in rural southern Utah, where ranchers and farmers scrape out a living amidst stunning scenery: fragrant sagebrush, redrock canyons, and creamy buttes. The land is also home to bitter environmental disputes, with locals eager to mine, recreate, and ranch the land and conservationists pushing wilderness designation. After years of studying these contentious debates, Leavitt, along with former Oregon governor Democrat John Kitzhaber, developed a new approach to solving environmental problems.
LEAVITT: It’s called en libra. It’s a Latin word. It means to move towards balance.
BRUNDIN: Mike Leavitt fervently believes the middle ground is where solutions lie. His philosophy of en libra was later adopted by the Western Governors Association. In a press conference with President Bush last month, Leavitt promised to bring these ideas to the national stage.
LEAVITT: To me there is an inherent human responsible to care for the earth. But there’s also an economic imperative that we’re dealing with in a global economy to do it less expensively and Mr. President, it’s your commitment to both that has enlisted me to this cause.
[SOUND OF PROTEST – CHANTING – “Western governors, we bring you greetings. Put an end to secret meetings….” ]
BRUNDIN: Last year, environmentalists demonstrated to protest en libra. The Sierra Club’s Lawson Legate says Leavitt doesn’t practice the princples of en libra, which stress negoti ation not litigation, collaboration, not confrontation.
LEGATE: His true style is to make an announcement – I’ve just cut a deal, as he’s cut a deal with the Secretary of the Interior recently to halt further wilderness studies in Utah – behind closed doors, and then he calls a meeting and says, here, I’d like to tell you what I did. That’s his idea of involvement. He says collaboration and not confrontation but he truly does not collaborate.
BRUNDIN: Legate also points to the Legacy Highway – a proposal for a 14-mile corridor along the shores of the Great Salt Lake, cutting through fragile wetlands. The plan is being championed by Leavitt, but environmental groups charge that they weren’t consulted, nor were alternatives to the highway considered, like mass transit. Larry Young is the executive director of the Southern Utah Wilderness Alliance.
YOUNG: A guy who wants to slab asphalt down the middle of wetlands for the Great Salt Lake, you got to be nervous about that. A person who talks about how he was part of a multi-state effort to clean the haze up over the Grand Canyon, but we still look out over our urban valleys along the Wasatch Front and see pollution, haze, day in, day out - you wonder how serious he’s going to be about confronting the issue of air pollution.
BRUNDIN: Environmentalists recall that in 1997, Leavitt opposed tightening federal air quality standards, asking instead for more study. But Diane Neilsen, who heads the state’s Department of Environmental Quality, says Utah meets federal air quality standards now. That was not the case at the beginning of Leavitt’s administration. Utah counties developed car emissions testing programs to meet the standard—
NEILSEN: --without all the flap that occurred at the national level.
BRUNDIN: She says Leavitt’s en libra principle of “national standards, neighborhood solutions” made the task easier.
NEILSEN: We recognize the value of a national standard. But we recognize that a one size fits all regulation doesn’t work. Pollution looks different here in Utah than it does in New Jersey and that means we need different strategies.
BRUNDIN: Neilsen and Governor Leavitt also count among his environmental successes the regional plan to clean up air over southwest; the preservation of 35,000 acres of open space; more money for state parks and trails, and Envision Utah, the nation’s largest “smart growth” partnership. And though he can’t count it as a victory yet, Leavitt – in this 2002 state of the state address – seems, perhaps, most proud of this achievement.:
LEAVITT: I’d like to point out that it’s been another year – and not a single spent nuclear fuel rod has been moved to Utah – not now, not later, not ever! [APPLAUSE]
BRUNDIN: Leavitt has so far successfully foiled attempts to store the nation’s supply of nuclear fuel rods in an above-ground facility west of Salt Lake City. Environmentalists applaud him for this, but they uniformly agree that Utah regulators go easy on polluters.
BRUNDIN: For years, Magcorps, a magnesium refinery located here on the southwest shore of the Great Salt Lake, topped the list as the nation’s dirtiest polluter. But environmentalists say state regulators looked the other way. Diane Neilsen says there wasn’t a federal standard for burning magnesium that the state could model.
NEILSEN: We didn’t have the resources. It would have taken a lot of money and technical expertise to be able to do the research to establish that standard, and we just didn’t have the wherewithal to do that.
WARD: What I hear the Leavitt administration saying is that in the absence of clear federal law telling them what to do, they don’t know what to do on their own.
BRUNDIN: Environmentalist Chip Ward says similar plants in Norway, Israel and elsewhere had standards and were burning magnesium much more cleanly. Despite that, it still took years of citizen pressure on the state to make Magcorps invest in the technology that eventually cut emissions by 90 percent.
LEAVITT: [Talking with staff in limousine] My guess is we’ll go through most of the politics of the day, I don’t know of anything that hasn’t be already discussed…
BRUNDIN: As he flies from appointment to press conference in his limousine, Mike Leavitt is his usual relaxed self. His popularity ratings averaged 75 percent during his 11 years in office. But it’s likely he’ll face a much rockier road in Washington, as did his predecessor Christie Todd Whitman. How much flexibility Leavitt would have in a new post depends largely on how his views square with two men, says University of Utah law professor Bob Adler. Every major environmental rule and regulation, Adler says, must be approved by the Office of Management and Budget, headed up by Joshua Bolten. And of course, approved by President Bush.
ADLER: If Governor Leavitt is appointed or is confirmed and sees eye to eye with the two of them, he’ll probably get along better than Governor Whitman. If he does want to exert his own policies and his own sense of a different environmental vision, he’ll find himself in the same place that Governor Whitman was in.
BRUNDIN: Governor Leavitt’s confirmation hearings before a U.S. Senate committere could begin later as early as this month. For Living on Earth, I’m Jenny Brundin in Salt Lake City, Utah.
[MUSIC: The Uplifters “Inspired So” Burning Bush]
CURWOOD: In the last several weeks, environmental and animal rights militants, or eco-terrorists, have struck at least five times on the west coast, causing tens of millions of dollars in damages. Joining me with more detail is Ingrid Lobet of our Los Angeles bureau. Ingrid, tell us, what’s been happening?
LOBET: Well, in early August there was perhaps the largest eco-terror crime – that’s measured in dollars of damage – that we’ve ever had in the United States. Vandals torched a nearly finished five story apartment building and an underground parking garage in a fast-growing section of San Diego. They left a banner that read “you build it, we burn it.” And that arson caused 50 million dollars in damage. The Earth Liberation Front, or ELF, said it was their crime. And then two weeks later a related group, the Animal Liberation Front, or ALF, broke into an historic building where a restaurant was going to open. That was in Sonoma, California. They poured concrete down the sink and flooded the building and two adjacent businesses. They threatened the chef’s family. And the issue here was that the restaurant was apparently going to serve fois gras, which is duck or goose liver pate. And apparently the livers of the ducks or geese are often enlarged by forced feeding when you prepare that
CURWOOD: Rough business. What else is going on?
LOBET: Well then, in late August arsonists hit four car dealerships and several car owners east of Los Angeles. They destroyed 20 Hummers and damaged 50 other cars, SUVs, by painting them with slogans like “I heart pollution” and “lazy Americans.” It seems like the vehicles were all chosen for their low fuel efficiency, although one fire official did point out that the fires themselves released hundreds of tons of particulate pollutants into the air.
CURWOOD: What happened in Washington state?
LOBET: Then there was that case, also in late August. Animal liberation militants snuck into a mink farm in the rural town of Salton, Washington, and let out ten thousand minks. And they were then killed by traffic, and they also went on to eat people’s chickens and pet cats. And then, just as Labor Day weekend was beginning, two bombs exploded at the corporate offices of one of the country’s biggest biotech firms. That’s the Kiron Corporation. And here the gripe wasn’t even with Kiron, but a with a company Kiron contracts with for lab work, and it does animal testing, which as you know is required by the FDA before drugs can be used on humans. No one was hurt, but again the attack got pretty threatening personally, because they left a warning that said “you might be able to protect your premises, but can you protect all your employees’ homes?”
CURWOOD: So, what do the authorities and people who study these groups say is happening with these five incidents in such a short period of time?
LOBET: Some of them do see this as a ratcheting up of activity. In the biotech company attack, for example, they used bombs, explosives, instead of arson which is the more common tool for some of these groups. And then they also point to the extensive damage at the San Diego apartment arson, 50 million dollars. But, it’s also true that these groups have been increasingly active over time. They’re continually active.
CURWOOD: Ingrid Lobet heads the Living on Earth bureau in Los Angeles. Thank you, Ingrid.
LOBET: Thank you.
CURWOOD: Just ahead: the story of a tribe who, some say, was hidden from civilization for thousands of years. First, this Environmental Health Note from Diane Toomey.
[HEALTH NOTE THEME MUSIC]
TOOMEY: Despite efforts to curb West Nile, thi s year the virus has spread to all but six states. So far, about 18-hundred people have become infected, usually with mild symptoms such as low grade fever and headache. But the disease has been fatal in a few, mostly elderly patients.
Now, researchers at the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases say they are making progress in developing a vaccine against the West Nile Virus. To create it, scientists removed the outer proteins of a dengue virus and replaced them with the corresponding proteins from West Nile. They figured the resulting hybrid virus would be crippled to the point where it can't cause disease, but would trigger a strong immune response.
The vaccine was tested in a dozen rhesus monkeys. Even though the virus had only a weak ability to replicate itself in the monkey's blood, researchers found that all twelve animals developed high levels of antibodies. And when exposed to the West Nile virus, none of the monkeys became ill. Researchers plan to begin human trials of the vaccine by the end of year.
And that’s this week’s Environmental Health Note. I’m Diane Toomey.
CURWOOD: And you're listening to Living on Earth.
[MUSIC: Radiohead “Meeting in the Aisle” Airbag Hog (1998) EMI Records LTD.]
[MUSIC: Leo Kottke “Vaseline Machine Gun” 6 and 12 String Guitar (1969) Takoma Records]
CURWOOD: Welcome back to Living on Earth. I’m Steve Curwood.
CURWOOD: The Lincoln Highway once connected Time Square in New York to Lincoln Park in San Francisco. And in 1928, Boy Scouts marked the highway with small busts of its namesake Abraham Lincoln. Each of the eleven states the highway passed through set up kiosks to greet visitors.
Today, the Lincoln is sectioned into several different interstates and the route has strayed from its original path. The kiosks and most of the Boy Scout markers are gone. To mark the anniversary, one hundred motorists re-traced the routes they once took along the 3,000 mile Lincoln Highway.
Car buff Bob Lichty from Canton, Ohio made the trip in his--what else?—Lincoln Town car.
LICHTY: To follow the original Lincoln Highway you have to know for example that this frontage road across the great Salt Lake is actually the old Lincoln Highway, or a dirt road in Nebraska to a town that has no real roads in it is the same way. It’s almost a little bit like a scavenger hunt. It actually makes it kinda fun.
CURWOOD: Bob and the rest of his caravan made the cross-country trip in a leisurely 17 days. And for this week, that’s the Living on Earth Almanac. What did you do this summer?
CURWOOD: Gather a group of anthropologists together and chances are before too long there will be an argument or two about the origins of the Tasaday. The Tasaday are a tribe of Stone-Age people who live deep in the jungles of the Philippines. Or are they? The Tasaday were sold to the world as aboriginal when they were “discovered” by westerners in 1971. But later the tribe was branded as a hoax invented to garner attention. Author Robin Hemley has written a book that attempts to sort out the fact and fiction of this tale. It’s called “Invented Eden: The Elusive, Disputed History of the Tasaday.” Mr. Hemley says he first heard about the Tasaday when he was a teenager watching TV.
HEMLEY: When I was about 14, I saw this NBC documentary on the Tasaday.
NEWS ANCHOR: The outside world, after maybe a thousand years, has discovered a small tribe of people living in a remote jungle in the Philippines. Until now, the outside world didn’t know they existed, and they didn’t know the outside world existed. Their way of living is approximately that of the Stone Age.
HEMLEY: This must have been 1972 or 1973, and it looked like this complete idyll that they were living in that was free of worry or want. And I saw this group and I thought, you know, I wanted to be a Tasaday.
CURWOOD: Now I remember back in the early seventies when this story burst onto the news. There was much excitement that these were truly aboriginal people. How were the Tasaday first discovered?
HEMLEY: Well, there was a hunter, named Dafal, from one of the local tribes, who had actually had contact with them for a number of years, probably. He and his father had visited the Tasaday in the rainforest and traded items with them, given them metal technology, some brass earrings and bolo knives and some cloth and so on. And this Marcos government minister visiting the area, Manda Elizalde - he was in charge of the ethnic minorities of the Philippines under the Marcos administration – he asked this guy Dafal, do you know any poor tribes or poor groups of people living in the area? And he said yes, well, I know this one group. And Elizalde said, well, I’d like to meet them. And so Dafal went to meet the Tasaday and he asked them to come see this guy Elizalde, who he said would do great things for them. So, a clearing was made in the jungle, and on June 7th 1971, Elizalde’s two helicopters landed in this clearing. And several frightened Tasaday men came out of the clearing, lead by Dafal, to meet them. And that’s how it all started.
CURWOOD: Describe for me what the first journalists saw, in that clearing, the first time the Tasaday were brought out for them.
HEMLEY: The journalists saw this incredible tableau of these people standing at the mouth of a cave dressed in leaves. And it was as if they were thrown back in time 10 thousand years. And they were stunned. So the National Geographic reporter wrote this sort of glowing article about these cave people in Mindanao. And that was something that a lot of people read, and it really gathered a lot of force about who these people where.
CURWOOD: Now, this chap, Manual Elizalde – or Manda, as you refer to him often in the book – gets very much involved in presenting these people to the world. What do you think were his motivations in publicizing the Tasaday?
HEMLEY: Well, Elizalde was a very strange character. He had a rather dubious background. He came from the fifth richest family in the Philippines, he had the reputation as a playboy, and everyone was very skeptical of his motives. As he got more and more involved in the Marcos administration, he kind of got co-opted by them, and he was able to use the Tasaday to give good publicity to the Marcos dictatorship at a time when they needed it.
CURWOOD: Robin, how did the suspicions of a hoax first begin?
HEMLEY: The suspicions really started in 1986, right after the overthrow of the Marcos regime, when a Swiss reporter named Oswald Iten , acting on a tip, hiked into the rainforest led by a Philippino reporter named Joey Lozano. And he was told through Lozano’s translators that the Tasaday were actually a group of Tbolis – that’s a local tribe - who were recruited by this guy Manda Elizalde to pose in caves, to wear leaves instead of cloth, to carry stone tools, and to basically pretend to be cave people.
CURWOOD: Tell me, what’s the fascination with the Tasaday?
HEMLEY: Well, when the Tasaday were, quote, discovered in 1971, they weren’t just considered a, quote, stone age people, but their purported gentleness was also quite fascinating to the public at large, and the media. Because this was at the time of the Vietnam War, and it was a very difficult time in terms of a lot of conflicts going on in the world. And here was this group of people who supposedly had no word for war, or enemy, or weapon. It was almost like this group of flower children had been discovered in the rain forest who were a kind of antidote to the warring nature of human beings. Then also in 1986 when the hoax story broke, it was a time very different from the early 1970s – a post Watergate time – when people were suspicious of government. And the hoax story really hit a chord in people at that time too, in a more cynical time.
CURWOOD: So where do you come down on this question? People tend to believe in the two extremes of alternatives for the Tasaday, that they are in fact a hoax, or were a hoax, or that they really are a somewhat Stone Age people.
HEMLEY: Well I believe that they were a group, basically, or poor Manobos, who had fled into the forest maybe 150 years ago to escape a smallpox epidemic. They hadn’t separated, you know, a thousand years ago, or ten thousand years ago as first reported. But they weren’t a hoax either. I mean a hoax is something that is calculated, and they weren’t this group of farmers who were recruited to pose in caves. In fact, what I found out through my research, which was really fascinating, was that some of the hoax proponents, in fact, had created a kind of alternate hoax. In order to prove their point they had created fake geneologies and done all kinds of things to prove the Tasaday were a hoax.
CURWOOD: Now there’s a law of physics that says you fundamentally change anything you observe. I’m wondering, how did the Tasaday themselves change as all this attention was given to them?
HEMLEY: Well, the Tasaday really, I think, were maybe, initially, a little baffled by all this attention but quickly became used to it. They became kind of Stone Age stars, if you will. And over time they became used to being visited by reporters every once in a while asking them whether they were fake or not. In fact, the word “fake” has entered their lexicon. They now use that word in saying, “Well, people call us fake. What does that mean? We don’t call other people fake.” Some of them have actually become quite cynical about this, or angry. One young man named Lobo, who became very famous – he was about 13 or 14 years old at the time of the discovery, and was even on the cover of National Geographic – he at this point is really angry, and really feels that promises were made by everyone to the Tasaday, and that very few people kept any promises to them.
CURWOOD: Robin Hemley is author of “Invented Eden: the Elusive, Disputed History of the Tasaday.” Robin, thanks so much for speaking with me today.
HEMLEY: Thank you very much, I enjoyed it.
CURWOOD: This year marks the 200th anniversary of the Lewis & Clark expeditions .
MAN: Paddle. Come on, harder.
CURWOOD: We wondered who lives and works along the trail now, from the northwest coast to the mouth of the Missouri.
WOMAN: One, Two, Three.
CURWOOD: Producer Barrett Golding bicycled the entire Lewis and Clark Trail and sent us a series of audio postcards like this one from his visit with tribal elder and spiritual leader Horace Axtell of the Nez Perce. in Lewiston, Idaho.