Category Archives: Justice

Diabetes kills. Support NYC’s huge sugar drinks ban.

I’m really happy Mayor Bloomberg is pushing to ban on huge sugary drinks in New York City. Publicity about this alone will increase consciousness about just HOW bad these drinks are. They’re killing people! Stress on the body’s insulin producing system and being overweight are important factors contributing to the onset of Type 2 diabetes and sugary drinks are big contributors to obesity and exaggerated sugar consumption.

Although designer healthy food is annoyingly expensive and the elitist marketing scheme around it totally disgusts me, don’t let the marketers fool you: deals for good food can be found, or made, with a little effort. Growing some of your own fruits and veggies is one way to go. My family has a community garden plot that gives us fresh veggies all summer long, and we are learning to can and pickle extra produce to see us through colder months. A friend of ours grows edible plants in the windows of his home. A truly healthy diet is a low-cost diet too, since the ingredients for slow-cooked meals costs relatively little compared to processed foods, which anyway are unhealthy from the get-go. We think that we’re in such a big rush to get (where exactly?) that we have no time to cook and good food. Let’s not be rushing off to an early grave. We can dial down the speed of our lives, eat well in the company of friends, family and work colleagues: and change our habits, lives, health and futures, forever.

As one Facebook friend pointed out today, there are plenty of yummy foods out there. Making healthy choices means getting used to different tastes, not less delicious ones.

Diabetes today is an epidemic in poor urban neighborhoods

Harvard professor Frank Hu writes for the American Diabetes Association

… studies and randomized clinical trials show that type 2 diabetes is largely preventable through diet and lifestyle modifications. Translating these findings into practice, however, requires fundamental changes in public policies, the food and built environments, and health systems. To curb the escalating diabetes epidemic, primary prevention through promotion of a healthy diet and lifestyle should be a global public policy priority.

CBS news reports, “Since 1980, obesity in children has almost tripled to more than 12 million … Only 17 percent of students get the recommended one hour of moderately vigorous physical activity a day.” And the Daily News tells us, a “study published … in the (medical journal) Pediatrics, found that the percentage of adolescents age 12 to 19 with Type 2 diabetes or pre-diabetes nearly tripled from 9% in 1999 to 23% in 2008.”

And it’s an intentionally created epidemic

Are there unscrupulous businessmen out there planning to make sure children get less exercise and worse food in school, who are looking at the best ways to addict our kids to fat-making fast food and insulin blowing/tooth rotting sugary drinks so they will become diabetics at an early age? You can bet your bottom dollar those people are out there en force; and also that they’re extremely good at their jobs. The goal? To make very rich the pharmaceutical and medical equipment companies selling the medicines and paraphernalia diabetics need: monitoring supplies, leg stockings, wheelchairs, prosthetic limbs, special shoes and hospital beds. The market is vast, and we haven’t yet considered the revenue this disease produces for the medical professionals and institutions who treat it.

In These Times author Susan J. Douglas writes

Type 2 diabetes is caused by excess weight, lack of exercise and poor diet, and is directly related to poverty … Diabetes is the leading cause of blindness and kidney failure in the country; it often leads to amputation. It’s the sixth leading cause of death in the United States and costs us $132 billion a year. And it’s preventable, save for the enormous financial interests involved in its preservation. “Bad Blood” brought together three American scandals–poverty, our morally bankrupt for-profit health care system and the practices of our nation’s fast food joints.

Combined, they make up an illness-industrial complex, in which big players in the food industry, insurance industry and medical establishment profit wildly. But they need more raw materials to keep them going, more fodder for their assembly lines. Poor people of color are that fodder, and very few of the rest of America seems to care.

President Obama defines sustainable economy

In his public address to the nation about the momentous decision by SCOTUS to uphold the Affordable Care Act (ACA), President Obama urged America to get to the work of, “… creating an economy which ensures that when Americans work hard, they will get ahead.”

This sounds to me like the exact definition of a sustainable economy. Getting ahead: having a future and having a good life, is what sustainable living and economics are all about.

How major corporations control universities

From May 11, 2012 article

Academic research is often dictated by corporations that endow professorships, give money to universities, and put their executives on education boards.

Here’s what happens when corporations begin to control education.

“When I approached professors to discuss research projects addressing organic agriculture in farmer’s markets, the first one told me that ‘no one cares about people selling food in parking lots on the other side of the train tracks,’” said a PhD student at a large land-grant university who did not wish to be identified. “My academic adviser told me my best bet was to write a grant for Monsanto or the Department of Homeland Security to fund my research on why farmer’s markets were stocked with ‘black market vegetables’ that ‘are a bioterrorism threat waiting to happen.’ It was communicated to me on more than one occasion throughout my education that I should just study something Monsanto would fund rather than ideas to which I was deeply committed. I ended up studying what I wanted, but received no financial support, and paid for my education out of pocket.”

Tell the EPA to clean up Ford’s mess in Ringwood

Journalist Jan Barry started the research on the tragic and intentional pollution of a housing development which was home to members of a tribe of Ramapough Indians in Ringwood, NJ, and collaborated with HBO to create Mann v. Ford, a moving documentary about the crushing impact this has had on the health of tribe members as well as the water source for the entire region. The site was prematurely de-listed by the EPA from its Superfund cleanup status, and several years later became the first site to be listed for a second time. Ford has resisted taking responsibility for the poisonous effects on tribe members of the toxic paint sludge it trucked in under cover of nightfall every day for many years, and has also resisted funding the cost of cleanup.

Make sure the EPA knows you support the clean-up of the Ramapough Indian’s by (Action 1) signing the petition and (Action 2) sending a letter to the EPA (download sample below).

Action 1

Sign the petition

The United States Environmental Protection Agency will soon decide how Ford Motor Company should clean up the 500-acre Ringwood (New Jersey) Superfund Site, where Ford Motor Company dumped tens of thousands of tons of paint sludge into old abandoned mine shafts, leaching landfills, the lawns of the Ramapough Mountain Indians, and the very trails of Ringwood State Park five decades ago.

All options are on the table – from doing absolutely nothing to controversially capping the sludge in place and leaving it there forever to completely removing all of the toxic waste. The people in Upper Ringwood are still suffering from devastating health impacts, staggering rates of premature deaths, rare cancers, and autoimmune diseases believed to be linked to the witches’ brew of toxins left in their homes, yards and community.

Astronomically high levels of lead and dioxin have been found in attics and yards, while the neighboring mines – including those in Ringwood State Park – sit just upstream from the drinking water source for one to two million people.

Action 2

Send a letter to the EPA! Be part of the EPA’s public comment process by customizing this sample letter and sending it to the EPA’s New York Office (the address is at the top of the letter). Just do it by the May 18 deadline! The original letter, with minor changes, was found on the Edison Wetlands Watch site but no author attribution appeared together with it, so I don’t know who to credit with its creation.

Mann v. Ford Facebook Page
Edison Wetlands Watch has good information too but it’s on a poorly coded web page which makes it very difficult to access.

Coalition to Empower Irvington High Students Meets 5/17

Green Drinks Newark discusses how to empower Irvington HS Students
Coalition to Empower Irvington High Students meeting
Thursday, May 17 @ 6-7:30pm
Irvington Public Library
5 Civic Square, Irvington, NJ

Join the next strategy session on how Irvington high school students can become leaders of transformation and positive change in both their communities and their own lives. Parents, residents, those able to contribute as mentors or collaborators – and especially, Irvington High School students are welcome to attend.

Irvington High School students face challenges common to urban youth everywhere: starting on career paths, preparing for college, finding work, navigating changing relationships. Today, the uncertainties associated with emergence into adulthood are exacerbated, with New Jersey families facing high rates of home foreclosure, heads of household under- or unemployed and lack of jobs, training and recreational opportunities to support young people’s needs and development. Municipalities struggle to provide essential services to residents with less collectible tax dollars. There’s also the growing awareness that some serious environmental issues require society’s immediate attention.

The cusp of adulthood is a tough place to be at the best of times, so it makes sense that the pursuit of traditional education may seem pointless and irrelevant to today’s urban students. We must find ways to make education vibrant! To rework schools into institutions teaching students the facts, techniques, technologies and skills that will make them relevant in their families and communities, valuable to prospective employers and institutions of higher learning and prepared with the knowledge and resources to own and manage their own small businesses, should they choose that path to employment.

This initiative is being led by Kimi Wei, Sustainable Community Consultant, and Jordan Geffrard, Irvington High School graduate and is sponsored by Green Drinks Newark. We look forward to hearing your ideas and learning how you are able to lend a hand.

Native tribes hold public Prayer For the Earth

Saturday, May 5, 2012
95 Halifax Rd. Mahwah, New Jersey 07430

Native Tribes & Local Communities BAND TOGETHER to Bridge Cultures
for the Preservation & Protection of our Water from Hydraulic Fracking

The Ramapough/Lunaape Nation is calling on all humans of good conscience to join a Prayer Rally/Vigil on our Ceremonial Land:

Why? This is the time, this is the hour to speak out for the protection of all US Watersheds that supply everyone with fresh drinking water, preserve Native traditions, and for the healing of Grand Mother Earth.

The Ramapough are expecting an array of communities, native peoples, environmental groups, representative of diverse cultural and spiritual traditions. Several of the guest speakers include:

-Professor Airy Dixon/Saponi
-Chief Vincent Mann/ Ramapough Nation
-Dean Hutchins Cherokee Nation
-Monica Evans/Haida Nation.

There will also be light entertainment. Please bring chairs and blankets. This event will close in Ceremony with a Prayer for Grand Mother Earth.

The Ramapough’s traditional land has met with imprudence from numerous outside groups, including Ford Motor Company – which used our land as a “toxic dumping ground”, and now gas/oil corporations want to endanger our vital watersheds by hydrofracking for export to foreign markets. To create this supply of fracked gas would involve blasting and clearing of public and private land, creating hazards for communities in the Pennsylvania, New Jersey and New York regions which includes the beautiful Long Island Sound. Fracking fluid contaminates water sources, poisons ecosystems [animal & plant], and is currently suspect to have caused earthquakes in Ohio.

The Ramapough believe that callous disregard for humans and Grand Mother Earth cannot go unanswered. The Ramapough assert: it is the civic duty of all people of good conscience everywhere to ensure change be just, rather than a reinforcement of finance inequities that have so long divided us. To that end, we are asking everyone to join in making their voices heard on behalf of families, community, our watersheds, and Grand Mother Earth against this current atrocity.

Ramapough Lunaape Chief Perry(Kihkay Maqua) states:

“We have chosen to hold this event now because the hour is critical for America. The destructive extraction of gas/oil resources from our Grand Mother Earth is almost complete. We hope this event will result in “An Awakening, an Occupation of the Spirit”, whereby each and every human concerned with the Earth and Future Generations will stand together as “One Voice”, accumulating the collective strength of millions. Knowing we are not alone, that each action is not an isolated action but supported by millions who vote, sends an important message to our elected officials & the gas/oil corporations that our tax dollars can no longer be used to literally poison us. The potential increase to medicaid costs will skyrocket for these toxins will cause long term damage.

I ask in a good way, that each and everyone of you who hold a drop of knowledge to come forth now; share, teach, put down some medicine, send up some sounds, help in any way you can for our Grand Mother is in pain. Join those who have been speaking out and those who have been keeping us alive. Stand Up Now, help us to pray. Show us how to heal in a good way our Grand Mother Earth for she is crying out for our assistance. Remember who you are, Humans. Remember you are dependent on Grand Mother Earth to sustain your lives.”

The Ramapough have lived in this area for over 15,000 years, with unfortunately a long tragic history that drove a wedge between the Ramapough and the community at large; a gap we are seeking to bridge with this event. We are honoring our past and seeking to move forward as a strong coalition that will address issues common to all communities.

Rain Date: Sunday, May 6th, 2012

for more information contact: Charlene –
Jill –
Jon –

Nature v. cookie money – lessons for Girl Scouts

A couple of Girl Scouts were looking for material about the cookies sold each year as this organization’s main fundraiser and discovered much more than they wanted to. Their findings have put Madison Vorva and Rhiannon Tomtishen at the center of a national debate on what an acceptable tradeoff can be to monetize natural resources in order to make money from items that are not truly valuable in and of themselves, when the cost is environmental destruction and sometimes, lives. The young scouts found out that Girl Scout cookies are made with palm oil derived from trees grown in groves that Orangutan habitat is destroyed to make open space for. In simple terms, Orangutans die in large numbers due to loss of habitat in order for Girl Scouts to have cookies to sell.

For Madison Vorva and Rhiannon Tomtishen, it all began with orangutans. Four years ago-inspired by the work of primate researcher Jane Goodall-the two friends from Ann Arbor, Mich., collaborated on a research report on the endangered primates to help qualify for their Girl Scout Bronze award, one of the highest prizes offered by the 3.2 million-member organization. Vorva and Tomtishen have both been scouts since they were five years old, and they take their roles and responsibilities seriously. So when they discovered that one of the major threats to orangutan populations in Indonesia was deforestation caused by the growth of palm plantations-and that the iconic cookies the Girl Scouts sell can sometimes contain palm oil from plantations on deforested land-the girls refused to simply do nothing. “Being a Girl Scout is about showing stewardship for the land,” says Vorva, who is now 16. (Tomtishen is 15.) “We knew we had to keep fighting.”

Making Girl Scout Cookies Better for the Planet | Rainforest Action Network

Unfortunately, the Girl Scout organization has not demanded major immediate changes to their cookie formula and seems content to go along with the plan offered by agribusiness giants like Cargill, which is talking about plans to offer sustainably produced palm oil several years from now – probably hoping that by then, there won’t be any Orangutans left to protect. Girl Scouts has taken this position:

In its announcement Wednesday, the Girl Scouts said it has directed its bakers to use as little palm oil as possible, and only in recipes where there is no alternative. It wants its bakers to move to a segregated, certified sustainable palm oil source by 2015.

The Scouts will buy GreenPalm certificates to support the sustainable production of palm oil. The certificates offer a premium price to palm oil producers who are operating within best-practices guidelines set by the Roundtable for Sustainable Palm Oil, an organization of palm oil producers, consumer goods manufacturers, retailers, environmentalists and others.
Girl Scouts of the USA will also become an affiliate member of the roundtable.

The teen activists and environmentalists welcomed the announcement as a good first step, but said much more needs to be done.

Also see Girl Scouts Activists, Rainforest Action Network and Union of Concerned Scientists Respond to Palm Oil Cookie Announcement by Girl Scouts USA

Help protect national forests – sign petition

America’s national forests provide essential habitat for lynx, grizzlies and other wildlife — and clean water for millions of Americans. Yet new rules could threaten the sanctity of these special places, paving the way for more logging and more destructive development on our national forests. Help protect these special places. Sign the petition online at:

Take Back Port Newark forum

Take Back Port Newark
When: Wednesday, March 21, 2012
Where: Essex County College
Siegler Hall, Room 2132
303 University Avenue, Newark, NJ 07102


  • Larry Hamm, Chairman of People’s Organization for Progress
  • Reverend Jethro James, Paradise Baptist Church
  • James Harris, President NJ NAACP
  • Kim Gaddy, Environmental Justice Organizer, NJ Environmental Federation
  • Henry Rose, Statewide Coordinator – NJ Environmental Justice Alliance

It’s time to take back the Port and make it work for Newark and its people!

The Two Faces of Port Newark

For corporations in the Tri-State Area, Port Newark means:

  • $50 billion dollars worth of imported goods per year!
  • “. . . the most important engine for economic growth in our state” (Gov. Christie)
  • Eating Very Well!!!

For Newark residents, Port Newark means:

  • Only $71 million dollars in rent piad for both the Port and Newark Airport
  • Budget woes that lead to cuts in residents’ services, and more pollution and ashtma in our communities.
  • Washing Dirty Dishes!

For more information contact:
Take Back Port Newark Coalition: 978-573-6013 or 201-878-8482