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PRI's Environmental News Magazine

News Follow-up

Air Date: Week of

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New developments in stories we've been following recently.



CURWOOD: Time now to follow up on some of the new stories we've been tracking lately. Two prominent anti-logging activists from southwestern Mexico have lost their final appeal, under Mexican law. The two were accused of drug and weapons charges, but supporters, and even Mexico's Human Rights Commission, say their confessions were extracted under torture. Alejandro Queral, human rights specialist with the Sierra Club, calls this decision a blow to grassroots activists in Mexico.

QUERAL: They had a lot of hopes that they would be able to work with the federal government, but this verdict certainly makes them feel like no one will stand up for them.

CURWOOD: Defense attorneys for Rodolfo Montiel and Teodoro Cabrera are preparing to file their case with the InterAmerican Commission for Human Rights, which could grant a new trial in an international court.

This spring, we visited Alberta, Canada, and the rat control officers there who help keep the province rat-free. Now, a massive attack on non-native rats has been launched on remote Campbell Island, in New Zealand. Officials have dropped 120 tons of poison bait on the uninhabited island. Now they'll wait two years to make sure the rat population has been wiped out. Once that's done, they say, native birds can be reintroduced there.

The National Academy of Sciences has released the final version of its study on government fuel economy standards for passenger vehicles. The report appears a bit less optimistic about the feasibility of raising fuel economy than a draft version leaked earlier. Panel chairman Paul Portney says the changes reflect the process of combining 13 panelists' work into one unified document.

PORTNEY: Yes, the draft changed, but the changes in the draft were due exclusively to trying to respond to reviewers' comments and our own dissatisfactions with the report as it was in draft form, and discovery of errors.

CURWOOD: He said one key error in the draft was a projection of significant improvements over six to ten years. The final version predicts major improvements in fifteen years. The report also recommends basing fuel economy standards on the weight of a vehicle. That means heavier sport utility vehicles will be held to a more stringent standard than they are now, as SUVs are currently classified as light trucks. The report also suggests expanding a credit trading system for manufacturers that exceed efficiency standards. It also calls for more government sponsored research into fuel efficiency technologies.

And remember that band of out-of-work Thai elephants who made beautiful music together? Keepers at another elephant park in Thailand have hit upon another money making scheme. They're harvesting the elephant's dung, to convert it into cream colored paper. All proceeds go toward care of the elephants. And don't worry, the paper is reportedly odor-free.


CURWOOD: And that's this week's follow-up on the news from Living on Earth.



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