Thursday, May 11, 2017

Show me the Evidence


The Maine Legislative Committee on Environment and Natural Resources voted “Ought to pass” on LD  820, the bill supported by the environmental community that supposedly bans open-pit mining and wet-waste management but will allow contamination of ground water in restricted areas of underground or “shaft” mining. Concerned that any allowance of contaminated ground water cannot be contained to the mining area, I asked for evidence of such a mine successfully containing pollution from surrounding waters. I was told the Green Creeks Mine in Alaska is such a mine.

Researching this mine, I find great causes for alarm and no evidence that underground mines can adequately protect the environment or human health.   In one article, Shoren Brown writes, “the Alaska Department of Environmental Conservation released a study showing the Greens Creek mine is polluting Admiralty Island National Monument with acid mine drainage.” “Greens Creek has a long history of polluting Alaska's waters. According to the Environmental Protection Agency, Greens Creek is Alaska's second biggest toxic polluter. It released 59 million pounds of toxic chemicals in 2000.”
 

Another article by Haines Watch says, “Greens Creek Mine has had hundreds of mining violations. Now, terribly, we know that the mine has greatly polluted Hawk Inlet. Local native communities are distraught over the possibility of a complete loss of subsistence in their ocean area. . . . These mines destroy and ruin a way of life that has gone on for thousands of years. Nothing is more “Restrictive” then destroying people’s food sources. Tourism, Commercial Fishing, Sub-fishing, and our native communities are all at risk.” 
With any metal mining in Maine’s wet climate, local Maine resources of sports, fishing, and hunting as well as human health are at great risk. An article from the National Institutes ofHealth says, "Because of their high degree of toxicity, arsenic, cadmium, chromium, lead, and mercury [all elements found at toxic levels at Bald Mountain] rank among the priority metals that are of public health significance. These metallic elements are considered systemic toxicants that are known to induce multiple organ damage, even at lower levels of exposure. They are also classified as human carcinogens (known or probable) according to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, and the International Agency for Research on Cancer." 
I have repeatedly asked for evidence that any metal mining in Maine’s wet climate can be environmentally safe. No one—not the geologists I have asked, not the legislators, not the environmentalist supporters of LD 820—have been able or willing to provide such evidence.

I wrote to all the Maine legislators, explaining the risks and asking them to please vote against LD 820 and support a ban on any metal mining in Maine, but this week the Maine Senate voted 34-0 to pass the bill. If you are reading this and live in Maine, please contact your House member today and tell him or her to vote NO on the bill and to support a ban on Metal mining in Maine.

Published The Star Herald, May 17, 2017

Wednesday, April 5, 2017

NO EVIDENCE FOR SAFETY OF OPEN-PIT MINING

Aroostook folks testifying at Maine legislative hearing
in opposition to metal mining. 


Since 2012, I have spent months researching metal mining each time I prepare to testify at legislative hearings, 4 times total.

I know from all this research and from listening to overwhelming numbers of people testifying in opposition to weak mining rules that Bald Mountain is among the most toxic sites in the United States. I heard stories about workers on the original exploration of the site in the 1970s becoming sick just from the dust of the drilling holes. One broke out in a rash so severe he had to be taken to the emergency room for treatment.  I have heard testimony at legislative hearings from Medical Doctors about serious medical effects of open pit mining, effects which sound deadly to me. I heard testimony from environmental scientists about the risks of pollution from arsenic, sulphuric acid, and other toxic chemicals

According to Lance Tapley in ThePhoenix, the geologist who discovered and explored the Bald Mountain site, John. S. Cummings, found “arsenic levels in the rock up to . . . 2.9 million times the level the federal Environmental Protection Agency considers safe for drinking water. . . . In one of his many writings about the mountain, [Cummings] describes [the site] as an enormous, naturally occurring ‘toxic dump.’” In a letter to John Martin in 2012, Cummings  said “a large open-pit [mine] . . . is a prescription for a debacle.”

A 2014 industry article that analyzes risks to be managed to increase profitability says, “The metal mining industry is the largest toxic polluter in the U.S.” In addition to water pollution, it is “a significant contributor of [Greenhouse Gas Emissions] and other “Hazardous Air Pollutants” that “have more localized (but significant) human health and environmental impacts.” This pro-mining article talks about managing the risks. It makes no claims about preventing toxic effects.

A report from Friends of the Cloquet Valley State Forest in Minnesota with a climate similar to Maine’s concludes about the promise of economic benefits, Metal mining earnings and jobs tend to be very volatile, leading to community instability and long-term decline. These are real economic costs associated with metal mining. The metal mining industry is prone to both ‘booms’ and ‘busts’ as well as to a long-term decline in the labor required to produce any given volume of metal ore.”

I looked but couldn’t find any convincing evidence in research or testimony since 2012 that pollution of ground water and toxic wastes can be safely contained in perpetuity at sites like Bald Mountain.


For all these reasons, I can only support a ban on open-pit metal mining or on any underground mine that poses unacceptable risks to water, air, soil, human health, and sustainable socio-economic health of communities. Mining at the Bald Mountain site and other toxic sites in Maine must never be allowed unless or until trustworthy evidence exists that it will be done without risk of catastrophic damage. That evidence does not exist at this time. 

Published The Star Herald, March 29, 2017

Wednesday, February 1, 2017

Expanded and Improved Medicare for All

In the early 60s, my oldest son suffered a near-fatal illness that lasted for several years and involved several lengthy hospitalizations. We were a working-class, one-income family, and we survived this crisis in good financial shape with health insurance from Blue Cross/Blue Shield which was non-profit at that time. Most working-class families had high-quality affordable health insurance then. Since then, corporate profit and advertising has entered the health-care business and created a system too expensive, too complex, too inefficient, too unaffordable, and too inaccessible to be sustainable.  Profit, not consumer health, is now the major concern of the health-care industrial complex.  
The Affordable Health Care Act has been economic salvation for many families I know by improving affordability. It has not and cannot solve the other problems created by profit-driven market forces. 

The Patient’sFreedom Act proposed recently by Senator Susan Collins to replace the ACA makes the system way too complex for consumers by offering 3 system options for states to choosefrom. One option is to keep the ACA as is, which is not a good choice. There are still way too many uninsured, underinsured, or with too high deductibles to make it truly affordable to all. Both of the other 2 options would reduce benefits to consumers and do not solve other major problems in the current system. 


Both my personal experience and my years of research into health-care persuades me that the most reasonable, humane, and best solution to benefit consumers and to solve the problems is to replace Obama Care with the Expanded and Improved Medicare for All Act, H.R. 676, which “would vastly simplify how the nation pays for care, saving hundreds of billions of dollars on administrative overhead that could be used to improve patient health, restore free choice of physician, and eliminate copays and deductibles. . . . [N]early 6 in 10 Americans, 58 percent, support a Medicare-for-all approach, with the Gallup poll finding that 41 percent of Republicans favor replacing the ACA with ‘a federally funded health care program providing insurance for all Americans” (). Such a program could automatically enroll everyone at birth and be funded by affordable premium payments to the Medicare system instead of to profit making insurance companies.  Until this can be done, we must not repeal the ACA which would throw the whole system into even more chaos than it is in now.
Published, February 1, The Star Herald

Wednesday, January 4, 2017

2016 YEAR IN REVIEW


I am particularly grateful this New Year for my habit of reviewing the past year to find what I have to be grateful for. In view of the dismaying election and the discouraging and humbling experience of trying to really work at promoting my books, it almost seems sinful to mine the past for reasons to be optimistic. Still, I will pretend I am undaunted. I will remember that pretense, when used in the service of love, is a virtue. It is how we imagine a better future and work for it. And in friendship, I do not even have to pretend—I am rich. Thank you for yours’.


MY YEAR IN PICTURES


Chance & Choice forthcoming March 3,
cover art by son Alan Mountain.


With Dottie Hutchins at May Art Show of son Alan Mountain’s work. 
Proceeds  from sales to Wintergreen Art Center and Catholic Charities.

With MSSM folks celebrating
Mike McCartney's County Teacher of the Year Award


DECEMBER/JANUARY '17 ART SHOW 
AT MORNING STAR ART & FRAMING, 
PRESQUE ISLE, ME 


Alan's art on back cover of Oppression for the Heaven of It 
by Moore Bowen (collaboration of Alan & Alice) @ amazon.com.



 Proceeds from sales of books and art go to
Foundation for Excellence in Mental Health Care.

The artist, son Alan Mountain (1956 - 2015) in May, 2001


At Carr Pond with Environmental friends
rallying to save Bald Mountain from open pit mining. 

"Buffalo Schoolhouse Choir" from 1942 or '43
showed up this year on FaceBook. 
Seated: Brother Stan at end on left; me 3rd from left.
Row two: Brother Rodney 2nd from left.
Last row: Sister Cherry 2nd from right. Serious bunch, hunh?

With local members of Ashland High School Class of 1955.


CHRISTMAS 2016
  
Chicky & Larry

 David

Jack, Dustin & Carrigan

Micah

Where are Brenda and Dylan? 



BLESSINGS & JOYS TO YOU IN 2017



Monday, December 19, 2016

CENSORED!?! Part 1--Out of Order

This is a re-post of the original post that FB censored for the offending cover image on the chapbook of poems, Chance & Choice, Release date, March 3, 2017. If interested, please pre-order now @ https://www.finishinglinepress.com/product/chance-choice-by-alice-bolstridge/ Thank you.


Monday, December 12, 2016

THE GREAT FLIPPED BLIP ~ on Art, Religion, & Politics

Probably like you, I get Facebook posts from Christian friends denouncing on Christian grounds the values and policies promoted by our president elect about all the most controversial issues of our time: the environment, taxes, jobs and the economy, interpretations of the 1st and 2nd amendments of the constitution, health care quality and accessibility, welfare, women's reproductive rights, voting rights, workers rights, and many more. And I get posts from other Christian friends defending and promoting on Christian grounds the very same values and policies promoted by our president elect and reflected in his cabinet picks.

My son, Moonway in the book Oppression for the Heaven of It, was preoccupied in  his art with paradoxes and tensions inherent in his Christian faith: responsibility for evil and suffering; the relationship between Christ and Satan; angels and demons; Adam, Eve, and the serpent. A youthful convert, he painted the suffering Christ with blood pouring from his heart. 

He painted Christ wearing the crown of thorns, a halo beaming out of the back of his head. He painted repeated images of Christ with one side of his face in light, the other in shadow and often broken. He painted a disembodied head of Christ with blank white disks where eyes should have been, head bent downward toward 3 diminutive crosses on a diminutive hill. He drew impressionist Christs, cubist Christs, charcoal Christs, ghostly Christs. He drew Christ surrounded by demons in cages.  He drew many demons, many of them labeled "Dragons of Madness." He drew Adam and a snake-like Eve dancing with the serpent; this one became a cover on a forthcoming chapbook of poems.

He painted lovely serpent couples rising out of water, posed as if dancing in a courtship ritual:


He said William Blake's The Marriage of Heaven & Hell was his favorite art work and, "There can be no peace on earth until Christ and Satan reconcile." Once in a letter, he wrote me, "Take the best they gave you in love and support, and leave the rest to the devil to carry away into hell or wherever he does the dirty work of God who I often call the Great Flipped Blip."

Moonway was never really comfortable in his Christianity. He loved the passion and fellowship he found in his early years in the church, but he yearned for resolution and reconciliation of the contradictions. He also yearned for the certainty he thought he saw in other Christians. Not finding it, he sought his own theology that grew increasingly strange to other parishioners, and he eventually drifted away from the church and turned increasingly to art, drawing and painting his discomfort in symbolic images by which his schizophrenic mind tried to make sense of a real world striven with the same kinds of paradoxes, contradictions, and conflicts of his faith.

I remember presidents back to the time of Franklin Roosevelt. I remember  partisan conflicts of the MCarthy era during Eisenhower's time. I remember the Kennedy and Johnson sixties with revolutionary activity for social justice. I remember Nixon's Watergate. I remember all the international conflicts of those times.  Watching the PBS series From Jesus to Christ, I remember that Christianity itself proceeded throughout its history riddled by and feeding into the same kind of conflict and division we see in our political life today.

For how to live with others, I take Jesus to be an important moral guide in the world and in my life but I am not a believer in Christianity. Moonway often said to me about his hallucinations, Mom, I wish you would believe this is real. I think he was a Christian believer like he believed in the reality of everything he saw in his mind and art. But he never asked me to believe in his faith. We talked often and peacefully about how to practice what Christ taught: Feed the hungry. Shelter the homeless. Love your neighbor, and your enemy.

Saturday, December 17, 2016

CENSORED!?! Part 2

Eating fruit from the tree of knowledge of good and evil,
"They chewed and licked
until their whole bodies were drenched
in the juices, until the sweetness coursed
through their blood, until it pierced the DNA."
(Lines from CHANCE & CHOICE)
~To see details of the censored book, type CHANCE & CHOICE in the SEARCH bar @ https://www.finishinglinepress.com. Or click here for a direct link to the author page where you can place an order. Release date is March 3, 2017. If interested in buying, please pre-order now and help meet goals for advance sales which ends January 13 and will determine press run.~ 
The cover artwork of the book depicts Adam and Eve in "sexually suggestive actions" according to Facebook's criteria for buying a boost (ad).  

Facebook's response to my appeal of the boost rejection:

Thanks for writing in.
Your ad was disapproved because the image being used in the ad implies sexually-suggestive actions (ex: bending over sexually, sexually-suggestive focus on certain body parts, caressing body parts with tongue, lips, or mouth). Ads with a sexual undertone are not allowed. This applies even if your underlying product is represented by the image (ex: lingerie, condoms, sexual health books).
The current post remains published, but isn't running as an ad. If you'd like to boost your post, you'll have to recreate it with a policy-compliant image and boost it again.
Was this helpful? Let us know
Have a great day.

My response to Facebook:

The response does not explain why a post I boosted just last week with the very same image was accepted. The response does not clarify which details of the offending image fit the criteria you list. . . . Is it Adam's hand on Eve's breast? But I do not dispute that the image is sexually suggestive. I am arguing that your criteria is too restrictive to meet the standards stated in a supreme court decision defining "obscenity" as having no "redeeming social value." Your response does not at all address the concern about the Adam & Eve story itself being always interpreted as sexually suggestive and associating sexuality with evil. The image points to that association.  I believe that association should be made explicit and questioned in terms of redeeming social value.  Looking at that standard and in the context of the whole post, I believe any reasonable person would find the image to have redeeming social value. Please provide a higher level of judgement at Facebook that I can appeal to.  Hopefully a real human being that can respond to the specific image in the specific context of the whole post.

This morning I watched UNSLUT on PBS: Bonnie Erbe, TO THE CONTRARY.  I feel like I have been slut shamed by Facebook. It's surely neither intentional, nor personal. All the more reason to resist it, intentionally. Slut shaming has been going on likely since long before the story of Adam and Eve was even written, but the written story, codified in the Bible, made slut shaming such an intrinsic part of our cultural heritage we do it without even being aware of intending it.  We need to become aware.  We need to question our automatic association of Eve's/woman's sexuality with evil and with the knowledge of good and evil. 

Thursday, December 15, 2016

CENSORED!?!

I never consciously thought that a literary work of mine might be censored even though I sometimes feel self conscious about what I might be unintentionally revealing about myself in the content of my writing, and even though I often have to struggle to resist censoring myself, and even though every rejection from a publisher might be considered a kind of censorship--figuratively if not legally.

So when I got a message from Facebook saying that my $20.00 boost was rejected for "sexually suggestive" content, I was shocked.   It was first accepted and $5.14 was already spent on early boosting. Another post I had boosted just the week before was accepted and completed, and it contained the very same image that was deemed to be "sexually suggestive" in the rejection. Click here to read the post with the "sexually suggestive" mage. By now, thanks in part to the first accepted boost, that image has reached more than 1000 viewers according to Facebook Insights. The art work was approved by the publisher for the cover of a forthcoming chapbook of poems. To see details of that book click Chance & Choice at Finishing Line Press or my Facebook Author Page.

The art work in question is an image of Adam and Eve with the Serpent. I would post it here,  but I want to boost this post. By the criteria used by Facebook for censoring, the Book of Genesis and other books of The Bible should be censored as well as innumerable interpretations of the Adam and Eve story and other works found in public museums and galleries.  If a respected museum wanted to use such an image to advertise, would Facebook reject it? Maybe so because it is likely an algorithm, not a discerning human being, that decides. But is it right?

Once over the initial shock, I went into defensive mode. I got on some of the writers groups I have joined, posted a summary of the situation with the image, and asked for comments and suggestions. So far I have only gotten 3 responses. Only one was encouraging: "Ask for a bump to another level of JUDGEMENT. By NO means at all should this be censored in my opinion." One said "This is fake news." I can't fathom what she meant by that. The 3rd said, "Can you change the picture for the ad and get on with it? Why waste energy on opinions, they always vary and run the spectrum." 

Relative to all the injustice in the world, my defense of this image must seem as trivial as the comment above suggests. Why should I fight this insult (only personal to me) when I have plenty to keep me busy in my fight for a clean environment, universal health care (including mental and social healthcare), universal income security, peace, etc. You can see many posts relating to these issues by clicking here. I could and maybe will remove the offending image and resubmit, but not before a fight. I have appealed. Facebook is not just any opinion; it is a very influential opinion. 

I have been looking for a  book about the interrelationship among Art, Religion, and Politics to teach  to a Senior Education class, and I think I have it in Blasphemy by S. Brent Plate which I just this morning found in a Google search and ordered. Hopefully, that book will give me a better handle on what I am getting into in adding one more cause to my social justice commitments: freedom of expression and of the press are values dear to my soul. Doesn't every writer feel that way? Apparently not. My shock is just another indication of my naivete about what it takes to be a professional writer.

This post will likely be continued when I receive the reply from my appeal.