4 - Friday, September 28, 2007
The Michigan Daily - michigandaily.com
Edited and managed by students at
the University of Michigan since 1890.
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Ann Arbor, MI 48109
KARL STAMPFL IMRAN SYED JEFFREY BLOOMER
EDITOR IN CHIEF EDITORIAL PAGE EDITOR MANAGING EDITOR
Unsigned editorials reflect the official position of the Daily's editorial board. All other signed articles
and illustrations represent solely the views of their authors.
One of our own
Grad speaker Woodruff a commendable choice
couple of months earlier than usual, we officially know
who will speak .at spring commencement. The University
Board of Regents approved ABC News reporter Bob Wood-
ruff to be the graduation speaker at its last meeting. While some
students will feel a letdown given that Woodruff doesn't match the
star appeal and prestige of last year's speaker - former President
Bill Clinton - they are overlooking what Woodruff brings to the
table. As an alum of the University Law School and a prominent
figure in international journalism who was a victim of a roadside
bomb while on assignment in Iraq, he can offer a more unique and
personal message to graduates while speaking from firsthand expe-
rience of an event that dwells on all of our minds.
Send foreign troops, UN troops. Please, fly
them to our country and save our lives."
- A young Burmese monk appealing for foreign aid in the face of Wednesday's brutal crackdown by the
nation's military junta against Buddhist monks, as reported yesterday by The Times of London.
T heir liquid contents oozed
between the cracks of the side-
walk and down intothe gutters
of South Univer- _
sity Avenue. Squir-
rels feasted on theI
piles of rubbish
while exhausted, "
waited in line for s
their morning cof-
fee. This gruesome L
scene - perhaps a GAVIN
slight exaggeration STERN
- depicts a typical
in Ann Arbor: garbage cans overflow-
ing with discarded paper coffee cups.
It's the dark side of caffeine addiction;
an environmental massacre carried
out right before our eyes each and
every morning, and then conveniently
Ironically, the most studious stu-
dents are often the worst offenders.
Tough classes require more atten-
tion than the sleep-deprived mind
has to offer. For this reason, I cannot
fault tired students for turning to the
bean. But while it's easy to see how
much waste the party crowd dumps
out on the curb each weekend, beer
cans, bottles and Solo cups are at
least recyclable. By contrast, most
paper coffee cups are not recyclable
and only contain miniscule amounts
of recycled material.
What bothers me most, however, is
that nonrecyclable coffee cup waste
piles up multiple times each day in
Ann Arbor. Every morning, lunch
and fourth-meal, the line of coffee money. And let's be honest: the struc-
patrons stretches nearly out the door tural integrity and thermal conduc-
and most buya cup they will only use tivity of paper cups are substandard
once. The influx of trash quickly over- anyway. They aren't worth the paper
whelms outdoor garbage can capac- they're molded from. Not only does
ity and spills out of into the streets. my steel muglook cool, but itkeepsthe
Although the mess soon disappears, coffee hot, too.
it's hardly magic. That mountain of Despite whattelevision ads suggest,
paper cups goes to waste in a landfill, you don't have to spend 20 grand on a
along with all the fossil fuels used to hybrid car to be eco-savvy. Reusable
produce and ship it. It doesn't have to thermal mugs are a symbol of environ-
be that way. We're supposed to know mental and financial consciousness as
better, and just being too tired to well as everyday practicality. Sure,
notice is no excuse. there are yet more environmentally
People often lament about how it
takes a greatdeal of effort and personal
sacrifice to adopt environmentally Eco-friendly coffee
sound habits that actually resonate.
Meanwhile,activistswhine aboutenvi- and the
ronmental problems but never offe err. ups you
realistic solutions. Well, I'm a pragma- d iki
tist, so here's the solution: Bring your from.
own mug. Or a thermos. Or a thermos
that looks like a mug. I'm not ask-
ing you to trade Daddy Starbucks for and financially friendly alternatives.
Mother Earth. And I really don't care if You could, for instance, brew your
you drink fair-trade coffee. Just bring own cup of coffee for much less than
a cup that you can use more than once the cost of a refill, and carry it all in a
and stop this paper cup madness. big thermos on your back like a camel.
Admittedly, I only started carrying That's nice, but although I am not
my steel insulated mug when I real- anti-camel, such a measure wouldn't
ized that I spent more than $10 a week be practical for most students. I'm
on coffee alone. Those Grande brews advocating a real, practical solution
carry a Grande sticker price. When - a superior coffee.distribution sys-
you bring your own cup, though, a lot tem that costs less for the consumer
of coffee shops (like Espresso Royale) and greatly reduces waste. Maybe it
will fill it for just $1. The savings add makes too much sense, but I dare you
up over a semester. If you drink a lot to prove me wrong.
of coffee, the switch to a reusable cup
will pay for itself in a week or two. Gavin Stern can be reached
After that, you'll save bean-loads of at email@example.com.
It's unrealistic to expect someone of
Clinton's caliber at every single commence-
ment. But Woodruff's relevance as a speak-
er is not somethingto scoff at. An acclaimed
journalist, Woodruff was one of the two
people to fill in on "World News Tonight"
for an ailing Peter Jennings. In his time in
Iraq, he was deeply and personally affected
by the war that has shaped and will contin-
ue to shape our world and ourlives.
A 1987 graduate of the law school, Wood-
ruff can direct his message specifically
at Michigan students rather than simply
present a form-written speech that could
be delivered to any college audience. This
ought to be a nice change from the usual
"dream big, do what your heart tells you"
graduation rhetoric. While last year's
speech was important for graduates, Clin-
ton spoke to the broader college communi-
ty. That's fine, but the ability to connect to
University students as someone who knows
the atmosphere of this campus will make a
In the past, there have been concerns
that the University's speaker selection pro-
cess started too late and left it at a disad-
vantage compared to its peer institutions.
There can be no such concerns this year;
the announcement of Woodruff comes
three months earlier in the process than
that of Clinton and six months earlier than
that of the speaker two years ago, CNN for-
eign correspondent Christiane Amanpour.
While these things are difficult to judge, it
seems that the University made an effort
to secure its speaker earlier so that it could
get its first choice. This emphasis must con-
tinue in future years.
Another improvement this year is the
winter commencement speaker, Francis
Collins. The director of the Human Genome
Project and a former University professor,
Collins is a bigger catch than last winter's
speaker, former Detroit Piston star-turned-
businessman Dave Bing. The fact that even
a commencement that is almost completely
unpublicized will feature a speaker of Col-
lins's caliber is a great sign that the Univer-
sity is making the appropriate effort.
Regardless of how students feel about
who will give the address at their gradua-
tion, dissatisfaction with the chosen speak-
er should not be a deterrent to attending.
Commencement is a celebration of the hard
work and dedication that went into earning
a degree, not merely a meaningless forum
for celebrity peptalks. Even if you don't
buy all this praise of Woodruff and Col-
lins, missing out on your own graduation
ceremony entails stupidity unbecoming of
a Michigan graduate.
Editorial Board Members: Kevin Bunkley, Ben Caleca, Milly Dick, Mike Eber,
Brian Flaherty, Gary Graca, Emmarie Huetteman, Theresa Kennelly, Gavin Stern,
Jennifer Sussex, Neil Tambe, Matt Trecha, Radhika Upadhyaya, Rachel Wagner.
SEND LETTERS TO: TOTHEDAILY@UMICH.EDU
t wasn't surprising to hear that
Chrysler became a "green" com-
pany shortly after its new CEO,
couldn't be left
out of the ever-
of companies with
that distinction, :
some of which -
no dedication to ZAWABA
What was surpris-
ing about Nardelli's declaration was
that it wasn't forced by any new envi-
ronmental legislation and that it had
immediate consequences. His declara-
tion resulted in the creation of ENVI,
a group of engineers who will work
solely on developing electric vehicles
Just this past January, General
Motors announced that it would build
its own plug-in electric vehicle, the
Chevrolet Volt, by 2010. It also has
plans-to turn one of its current models,
the Saturn Vue, into a plug-in hybrid.
The question "Who killed the electric
car?" seems to have been replaced by
"Who's bringing it back?" Hybrid gas-
electric vehicle production is booming
as well. The number of hybrid mod-
els available for sale in America will
have grown from one in 1999 to 15 by
the end of this year, not counting the
partial hybrid systems offered on five
current American models. Seven auto-
makers now produce hybrid vehicles.
Such dedication to alternative
fuels seems like an unlikely decision
for corporations to make, yet they're
becoming increasingly dedicated to
building alternative-fuel vehicles
every day. All the while, 'Congress
isn't doing anything. While the Senate
approved of a major increase in man-
datory fuel-economy standards for
cars and trucks this summer, it was
the Democratically controlled House
of Representatives that stopped the
bill. It approved a much weaker bill,
one the Senate and the White House
disagreed about. The party that prom-
ised to support the environment in
the 2006 midterm elections failed to
support a bill to significantly decrease
carbon dioxide emissions.
A number of Democrats, including
vote against their automotive indus-
try-based districts and constituents.
This will always be the case. Auto-
makers and their unions are some of
the biggest lobbyists in Congress and
will work incessantly to prevent new
environmental regulations for vehi-
cle emissions. Yet, even so, they are
developing new hybrid and electric
vehicles because they must listen to
the desires of U.S. consumers. That is
the forum in which voices are heard:
the free market. .
Because of the free market, the
-environmental movement is succeed-
ing. Environmentalists have spread
their message across the country,
and the people have listened. They're
concerned for the environment and
willing to bet their next vehicle on
it. Automakers across the world have
been forced to respond to consumers,
thus making them authentic green
companies. The American people
are serious about the environment so
automakers have to be too.
The free market best serves all those
involved. Consumers get environmen-
tally friendly vehicles and the auto-
makers make money. Democratsfeared
that forcing companies to produce
extremely fuel-efficient vehicles would
result in massive job losses. However,
new technologies are developed so that
the price of vehicles will not increase
dramatically, and neither will massive
layoffs accompany the production of
the new hybrid vehicles.
The fuel economy goal set by Con-
gress was an arbitrary and may in
fact have been impossible to reach,
The free market
will save the
as automakers complained. Allowing
the automakers to heed the demand
of consumers by choosing their own
way to develop fuel-efficient vehicles
ensures that the vehicles are both pos-
sible and practical to produce.
The environmentalist message is
successfully being spread throughout
the country and many are respond-
ing to it. The free market is ensuring
that the automakers respond to it as
people create more demand for envi-
ronmental products. Government, on
the other hand, is doing nothing. To
expect congressmen to fight their con-
stituents is false hope. Government is
the theater in which special interests
speak. The free market is the theater
in which the people speak.
Bollinger went too far in
TO THE DAILY:
There's been a lot of talk about Iranian
President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad's speech at
Columbia University. Some I agree with, some
I don't. It doesn't need to be said again that
he sometimes says inappropriate things. Yet
that doesn't justify inviting him to come speak
and then labeling him a destabilizing fanatic
(among many accusations) before he has even
spoken, as Columbia President Lee Bollinger
tastelessly chose to do. That's just embarrass-
ing. How many countries has Iran invaded
lately and how many have we?
Given that relations with Iran aren't exactly
warm right now, I can understand the hostili-
ty many Americans have toward the country's
president, especiallyinthis age of misinforma-
tion and half-truths. But denying Ahmadine-
jad a visit to Ground Zero was just immature
and showed the world just how paranoid and
ignorant we are.
What is the problem here? Maybe it's that
Ahmadinejad looks "Arab." The U.S. govern-
ment doesn't like him and classifies his coun-
try's military as a terrorist organization. Buthe
had nothing to do with Sept. 11. Iranians actu-
ally held vigils for the tragedy. Yet Americans
don't care. Our president declared Iran part of
the "Axis of Evil" so Ahmadinejad may as well
have been responsible for the event itself and
must be barred from visiting Ground Zero.
I need a better explanation for knee-jerk
justifications for stopping a foreign leader
from visitingthe site. Sure, he's not a good guy
and sure he wishes the Israeli government
would cease to exist in its current form. But is
he more of a threat than the Soviet ambassa-
dors whom we hosted duringthe Cold War? Is
Iran more dangerous than the nuclear capable
Soviet Union was? Or are we simply paranoid,
confused and afraid now?
As a country, we need to grow up.
Double standard apparent
in criticism ofAhmadinejad
TO THE DAILY:
I'm writing in response to Israel IDEA's
viewpoint regarding Iranian President
Mahmoud Ahmadinejad's visit to Columbia
University ('It's 1938 and Iran is Germany,'
09/26/2007). I have a particular problem with
the double standards at work in the group's
First, if inviting Ahmadinejad to give a
speech legitimizes all of his ideas, then what
message does it send to promote Avigdor
Lieberman - an advocate of the mass transfer
of Palestinians - to an Israeli cabinet post? As
far as repugnant ideas go, I'd say an institu-
tional position is a bit more legitimizing than
an invitation to debate.
Second, if Ahmadinejad's support of terror-
ismis so odious, then surely IsraelIDEA would
condemn former Israeli Prime Minister Ben-
jamin Netanyahu's attendance last summer
at a commemoration of the 1946 bombing of a
British hotel, an attack that killed 92 people.
Third, the authors of the viewpoint cel-
ebrate free speech on campus as well as Cam-
pus Watch founder Daniel Pipes, who violates
academic freedom by encouraging students
to report professors who are not pro-Israel
enough. Finally, they point out that as he
spoke, Ahmadinejad's regime "repressed and
murdered innocent citizens." To methat is the
exact same fact that makes our own adminis-
tration's public statements so poignant and
crass. It's not that Ahmadinejad himself is
innocent of countless crimes, because he's
certainly not. The problem is that Israel IDEA
appears blind to crimes and hypocrisies in
War with Iran would be
TO THE DAILY:
In his letter to the editor about former Uni-
versity of Michigan President and current
Columbia University President Lee Bollinger
(Bollinger's harsh treatment of Ahmadinejad
was uncalled for, 09/26/2007), Farhad Aghara-
himi wrote, "I'm just glad he was not able to
use our Universityas a platform from which to
condition the American people to prepare for
the war on Iran that is surely coming."
I agree with this sentiment. All University
students should agree with this sentiment.
The majority of Americans do not want anoth-
er war. We had a war in Vietnam. We have a
war in Iraq. We will not have a war in Iran.
Patrick Zabawa can be reached
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