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March 15, 2006 - Image 4

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The Michigan Daily, 2006-03-15

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4 - The Michigan Daily - Wednesday, March 15, 2006


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Editor in Chief

Editorial Page Editors

Managing Editor


We are in
a position
where we either
or die."
- Detroit Mayor Kwame Kilpatrick, deliver-
ing the State of the City address yesterday,
as reported by the Detroit Free Press.


ti f%-, 'per! I"

1 0


Unsigned editorials reflect the official position of the Daily's editorial board. All
other signed articles and illustrations represent solely the views of their author.

P +e

When mountains come crashing down


Tornadoes ripped
through the Mid-
west on Monday,
including my home state
of Kansas, killing at least
10 people and damaging
or destroying hundreds
of homes. As much as I
hate to contribute fodder
to those at this University
who love making Wizard
of Oz jokes at my expense, tornadoes are a real
threat for people in Kansas and other states in the
Midwest. The mayor of Springfield, Ill. said that
the destruction "looks like the pictures we saw a
couple months ago after Katrina."
Hearing these accounts and recalling the dev-
astation of Katrina reminds me of our connec-
tion to the places we call home. From seacoast to
seacoast, from the Appalachians to the Rockies,
from the Great Plains to the Great Lakes, we are
defined - and at times threatened - by the land
that we live on.
I recognized this relationship most clearly over
Spring Break, when I ventured to the coal fields
in southern West Virginia with 11 other Michi-
gan students through Alternative Spring Break.
Before the trip, I had been intrigued by the enigma
of Appalachia, a region that few of us know much
about other than from the publicity surrounding
the recent Sago mining accident. But after spend-
ing a week in some of the oldest mountains in the
country and talking to people who were born and
raised there, I realized how essential the moun-
tains were to their existence. The mountains were
not just a backdrop for their lives; they defined
their art, their music, their food, their economy
and their heritage.
On our last day in West Virginia, we got the
pleasure of visiting the land of Larry Gibson,
whose family has lived on the same mountaintop

for two centuries. The remains of his ancestors are
buried in that mountain, but they, and everything
Gibson loves, are being threatened by the coal
industry. Beyond his family cemetery, the land
drops off. Gibson's 50 acres used to rest safely
between two mountains, but due to the increas-
ingly popular mining practice of mountaintop
removal, the mountains on either side of his prop-
erty have been leveled. His property, including his
house, the cottages of family members and the
cemetery, is now an island surrounded by fields
of gray rubble.
This month's National Geographic ran a pair
of articles about coal and mountaintop-removal,
accompanied by a full-page photo of Gibson
looking out across the destruction I have just
One article describes the method of mountain-
top removal: Cut down the forests, blow up the
mountaintop, sweep the land into the surrounding
valleys and collect the coal. The practice allows
the inexpensive removal of coal and it requires far
fewer laborers than coal mining, but it has severe
From 1948 to 2005, the number of coal-mining
jobs has gone from 125,000 to fewer than 19,000.
Unfortunately for the workers of West Virginia,
no equivalent industry has replaced these jobs, and
according to Gibson, many people end up working
fast-food and service jobs.
The large amounts of money derived from coal,
which provides half of the country's electricity,
does not go to the people. Gibson informed me
that a majority of West Virginians has never made
more than 10 dollars an hour.
The biggest drawback of mountaintop removal:
Mountaintops are being removed. Mountains that
formed in billions of years - some of the oldest
mountains in this country - are being destroyed
in one fell swoop. According to National Geo-
graphic, "surface mining in general has impacted

more than 400,000 acres in (a) four-state Appala-
chian region, including more than 1,200 miles of
streambeds. If the practice continues until 2012, it
will have squashed a piece of the American earth
larger than the state of Rhode Island."
This type of destruction, and what it means to
people like Gibson, cannot be quantified. But as
long as we continue to depend on coal, as long
as we enjoy cheap electricity and air-conditioned
second homes, as long as we allow our leaders to
keep King Coal in their back pocket, mountaintop
removal is going to continue.
Gibson, however, is not going down without a
fight. After repeatedly turning down large sums
of money for his land, ignoring over 100 acts of
violence against his property and making his 50
acres a protected park, he tightly holds onto his
land. Now he has become an outspoken activist
against mountaintop removal, traveling all over
the country and appearing in numerous articles.
And at the end of this year, this short man who
claims to have the tallest voice in West Virginia
will testify before the United Nations.
Before we left West Virginia, Larry asked each
of us University students to ponder these question
and get back to him: "What do you hold so sacred
that it cannot be bought? And if someone outside
your circle of life came in and tried to take it, what
would you do?"
Until I had met Larry, I had never seriously
thought about these questions in terms of the land
in this country. But when it starts being irrevoca-
bly destroyed, you realize what it means to you.
And if we are going to let the Appalachians dis-
appear, who's to say that the Great Plains or the
Great Lakes are not next? If we aren't willing to
protect the homes of West Virginians, who's going
to protect ours?



Cravens can be reached at

Michigan Republicans must lead on stem cells
BY MATT PIANKO Class of 1995 University alum and State Rep. for stem-cell research, reach out across the aisle
Andy Meisner (D-Ferndale) has sponsored two and support Meisner's bills.
The Michigan Daily's editorial board was bills that would lift restrictions on embryonic- Timing is critical. These bills will face a
correct when it called for leadership in the move- stem-cell research in Michigan, but they have hearing in the State Capitol next week, and they
ment to lift the state's restrictions on stem-cell been snubbed by the Republican leadership of must pass if Michigan hopes to keep and recruit
research (Stem cells and 'U', 02/06/2006), but the Legislature despite overwhelming support brilliant researchers who might pioneer ground-
it incorrectly singled out University President in Michigan for the research to go forward. A breaking therapies in the University's new Center
Mary Sue Coleman as having provided inad- vast majority - 73 percent - of Michigan's for Stem Cell Biology. The University has proven
equate leadership on the issue. As seen in her residents support stem-cell research, accord- itself a leader in adult stem-cell-research; one can
recent speech to the National Press Club and ing to a recent poll conducted by the Marketing only assume that it would lead the way in embry-
in numerous visits to editorial boards of major Research Group for Inside Michigan Politics. onic stem-cell research once its researchers
newspapers around the state to explain the sci- With 70 of 110 representatives currently are allowed to derive their own stem-cell lines.
ence and promise of stem cells, Coleman is endorsed by Right to Life of Michigan, there is Unless Michigan acts quickly to reform its undu-
indeed one of the leaders of the pack in those intense pressure to bend to the will of this pow- ly restrictive laws, another state like California or
advocating for stem-cell research. Perhaps the erful lobbying group, especially in an election an institution like "The Michigan of the East" in
Daily was too busy reporting on a recent stu- year. As the Lansing State Journal put it: "These Massachusetts might lure away "the leaders and
dent's attempt to propose to Coleman (Police foil politicians are playing to the emotions and the best" in stem-cell research.
student's quest to propose to President Coleman, rhetoric of the anti-abortion crowd. In doing so, Disease is not partisan, and to delay any lon-
02/15/2006) to actually pursue the facts regard- they stymie the chances for expanded stem-cell ger denies the possibility of a cure for someone
ing Coleman's stem-cell leadership. research, which holds great promises for finding who suffers from Parkinson's disease, juvenile
I would like to applaud Coleman for her com- cures to some of humankind's more debilitating diabetes, spinal-cord injuries or any number of
mitment to stem-cell research, exemplified by diseases." It is imperative that these potential other debilitating illnesses. Call or e-mail your
her key role in establishing the University's Cen- cures are not denied to all due to the religious state legislators, and let them know how impor-
ter for Stem Cell Biology. President Coleman has beliefs of a small but vocal group. tant it is to you that they support Meisner's bills
spoken extensively with Gov. Jennifer Granholm There is no link between stem cells and abor- that would lift the restrictions on embryonic
about the promise of stem cells and was likely tion; stem cells would be obtained solely from stem-cell research in the state of Michigan. Find
a pivotal figure in Granholm's decision to come discarded excess embryos from in-vitro fertiliza- a list of your state leaders at www.house.mi.gov.
out in support of stem-cell research in her State of tion procedures - embryos obtained with donor
the State speech last January. However, I would consent that will be destroyed anyway. We have Pianko is an LSA senior and the president
like to strongly emphasize that the responsibil- a moral duty to pursue this research if it holds and founder of the University's chapter of the
ity to lead the effort to loosen the restrictions on any promise of possibly ending the suffering of Student Society for Stem Cell Research. For
stem-cell research lies heavily on the Republican millions. Michigan's Republican leaders have more info, e-mail ssscr-info@umich.edu. He
leadership of the state Legislature. the responsibility to acknowledge the support can be reached at mpianko@umich.edu.
EL Send all letters to the editor to
LETTERS TO THE EDITOR tothedailylmieigandaily.corn.

Work within the system to
bring change, end poverty
The University is known nationwide as a
politically active college campus. A stroll across
the Diag is usually accompanied by a view of
a protest or a booth advocating - or oppos-
ing - one cause or another. However, even
at the University, I frequently meet people
who are disinterested or disillusioned when
it comes to politics and the political process.

advocacy organization that petitions legisla-
tors to support anti-poverty issues. He is a
member of the Foreign Operations subcom-
mittee of the House Appropriations commit-
tee, and we were able to educate him about
how providing microcredit loans for poverty-
stricken people in third-world countries and
supporting funding for elimination of pub-
lic school fees in these countries can help
raise millions of people out of poverty. It
was incredibly inspiring to see that through
our discussions with politicians like him, we
could actually make a difference in the- lives

Daily's opinion page should
report facts, not opinion
Enough, no more! Every other day, the
Daily reports the same story and the same
side of the argument about President Bush's
wiretapping (Angels disguised as kings,
There are other arguments stating that
post-Sept. 11 legislation allows for further
measures in the war against terrorism. The

Visit our blog, The Podium, at michigandaily.com to read "S4M stands
with Greeks," a viewpoint from LSA junior Justin Paul and LSA
sophomore Justin Benson, the MSA and LSA-SG vice-presidential
candidates for Students 4 Michigan.


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