Archive for the ‘International’ Category

Hope Rises from the Ashes of My Lai

Wanted to pass on the info for this event at the UU Church:

Free Public Presentation and Video
Friday December 5, 2008
First Unitarian Universalist Church at 7:00PM

Who: Mike Boehm of the Madison Quakers, Inc

Where: The First Unitarian Universalist Church of Lubbock
2801 42nd Street                    806-799-1617

When: Friday December 5 at 7:00 PM

What: Presentation on the My Lai programs of the Madison Quakers followed by a showing of a thirty minute documentary video commemorating the anniversary of the My Lai incident.

First Unitarian Universalist Church will host a lecture and video presentation by Mike Boehm of the Madison Quakers, Inc. on Friday December 5, 2008 at 7:00 PM.  The presentation is free and open to the public.  Mike Boehm will explain the activities of the group which promotes reconciliation and the sharing of work on projects in various parts of Vietnam including the village of My Lai.  Besides starting a micro-credit loan program and helping the local citizens build medical clinics and schools, the program also promotes compassion houses for the victims of agent orange and people to people exchanges between American and Vietnamese children.  Mike will follow the presentation with a 30-minute video made by the Vietnamese to commemorate the 25th anniversary of the My Lai incident allowing time for the discussion following the program.  For more information call the church at 799-1617

Sounds interesting to me!

A New Record for World’s Largest Wind Turbine

Via ecogeek, it seems that a company called Enercon has topped its own record of World’s Largest Wind Turbine near the town of Emden, Germany. Enercon is building two of their new E-126 wind turbines, each of which can power about 5,000 homes.

Pretty awesome stuff, huh?

One of the ecogeek comments said it best: While the U.S. Congress is still debating whether climate change is real or not, other countries like Germany are investing heavily in clean, renewable energy sources. Government policy aside, I sure hope our business community can keep up with this kind of innovation.

The end of plastic bags?

Plastic shopping bags are one of the biggest little polluters in our lives, especially in an urban environment. As beautiful as a single bag dancing in the wind may seem, the sight of them every day in gutters and on sidewalks gets old.

According to the New York Times, Ireland has done something about it. Several years after passing a 33 cent per plastic bag tax, the use of plastic shopping bags has all but disappeared. Perfectly sensible and reusable cloth bags have taken their place as the ubiquitous haulers of stuff:

Within weeks, plastic bag use dropped 94 percent. Within a year, nearly everyone had bought reusable cloth bags, keeping them in offices and in the backs of cars. Plastic bags were not outlawed, but carrying them became socially unacceptable — on a par with wearing a fur coat or not cleaning up after one’s dog.

I have started using baggu bags at the grocery store. They are really handy and compress to tiny little squares of nylon when not in use. Normally I put them in my backpack or in my car when I’m not using them.

More permanent replacements for disposable stuff can be found at

Red Light Cameras: A European Perspective

Today I was chatting with a German friend who is in law enforcement, and our conversation found its way to the hottest topic in Lubbock: red light cameras. In Germany, they have had such cameras for a long time, especially along the autobahn to catch speeders.

According to my friend, all of the cameras here must take two pictures, or the ticket can be contested and thrown out when the request for the second picture yields nothing. Furthermore, the picture must include an identifiable picture of the driver of the car, who is the one that will receive the ticket. This is a very important point, because in the Lubbock system, the owner of the car is liable, not the person driving it.

Even better, if the person driving the car does not match the file photo of the person who owns the car, an officer will be sent to the home of the car’s owner to ask the owner if they know the person driving the car. If the owner does not recognize the driver (or does not admit to recognizing them), the matter is dropped.

The German traffic camera system is not perfect. There are still speed traps (which are successfully contested from time to time) along with red light cameras at intersections designed only to generate revenue. However, the extra effort made to identify the driver of the car and the extra contact with a human officer are both features of the German system that I like.

This business of a civil liability for the owner of the car “no matter what” in the Lubbock system is pretty ridiculous. If we are going to have these cameras, then we must guarantee that the process is equitable and just.

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