October 20 2004 

BOISE

BOOT THE BELL

Boise is the latest city to join the national boycott of Taco Bell and its parent company Yum! Brands, Inc.

Yum Brands is the largest restaurant company in the world--it owns Taco Bell, Pizza Hut, Long John Silvers, Kentucky Fried Chicken and A&W. The company is under heavy criticism for exploiting migrant farmworkers, particularly tomato pickers in Florida.

Earlier this year Boise State University sold the naming rights of Boise State Pavilion to Taco Bell for $4 million. The Pavilion was renamed the Taco Bell Arena and the deal prompted an uproar from Boise State students and the community.

"The University sold off a piece of our campus for a few million dollars. But at what cost?" questioned Arielle Anderson, president of the Idaho Progressive Student Alliance who fought alongside other students for the farmworker minimum wage increase in 2001, in a press release. "It's simply not worth it. The cost is too high for out community, for farmworkers and the University."

Next week the Idaho Progressive Student Alliance and the Coalition of Immokalee Workers, which is heading the national boycott of Taco Bell, present "Find Out Why We Want to Boot the Bell," an informational lecture about the controversy around the Boise State Taco Bell Arena. The free event takes place on Tuesday, Oct. 26 at 7 p.m. at the Boise State Special Events Center.

On Oct. 12, the Boise State Faculty Senate heard initial testimony on a resolution to void the contract between Boise State and Taco Bell. Testimony resumes at the Oct. 26 meeting along with a possible vote on the resolution.

For more information on the Coalition of Immokalee Workers and the national boycott of Taco Bell go to www.ciw-online.org.

MEET THE CANDIDATES

Legislative Candidate Forum for Districts 17, 18 and 19--Ada County state legislative candidates will respond to questions regarding public education, the environment, relationships between religion and public policy, economy, health care and more. Moderator: Joan Cartan-Hansen, Idaho Public Television.

To find out what district you are in and where you vote go to www.adaweb.net/enter.htm.

or call Ada County Elections at 287-6860.

Thursday, Oct. 21, 6:30 to 9 p.m., Boise State Student Union Jordan Ballroom.

Progressive Voice Radio Show--Topic: "Healing the Health Care System." Guest: Naomi Preston, candidate for the U.S. House of Representatives. Listeners are invited to call in with their views on how health care can be made more affordable and accessible. Presented by Idaho Progressive Caucus (www.idahoprogressives.org).

Thursday, Oct. 21, 8 to 9 p.m. on KGEM 1140 AM and online at www.qualitysourcenetwork.com

IDAHO

DOWNWINDERS HEARING

Next month a panel from the National Academy of Sciences (NAS) comes to Boise to hear testimony from Idahoans who were impacted by nuclear fallout.

From 1945 to 1992 the United States conducted 1,030 nuclear weapons tests, 911 of which were at the Nevada Test Site 90 miles north of Las Vegas. It has long been recognized that the radioactive fallout from these tests compromised the health of people who lived and worked near the test sites, and in 1990 Congress included modest compensation for "downwinders" in the Radiation Exposure Compensation Act (RECA).

The NAS is charged with recommending to Congress whether RECA should be expanded. Idaho had four of the five hardest-hit counties (Blaine, Custer, Gem and Lemhi) in the country from iodine-131 fallout from Nevada bomb tests in the 1950s and 1960s. However, just 21 counties in Utah, Nevada and Arizona are included in the Radiation Exposure Compensation Act.

The public hearing takes place from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Saturday, November 6 at the Taco Bell Arena on the Boise State Campus.

Those wishing to give oral testimony must register in advance with the Board on Radiation Effects Research by contacting Dr. Isaf Al-Nabulsi either by telephone at (202) 334-2671 or by e-mail at ialnabul@nas.edu.

For those not able to attend the meeting, the audio of the meeting will be posted at the Board's Web site, www7.nationalcademies.org/brer/, after the meeting.

NORTHWEST

TOXIC FLAME RETARDANTS

A new study of 40 mothers from Oregon, Washington, British Columbia and Montana found PBDEs (polybrominated diphenyl ethers) in the breastmilk of every woman tested. PBDEs--toxic chemicals widely used as flame retardants in furniture foams, industrial textiles and consumer electronics--have been shown to have a wide range of health effects on laboratory animals. Overall, the levels of PBDEs in the study were 20 to 40 times higher than levels found in European and Japanese women.

"The women in the study have some of the highest PBDE levels on record," said Clark Williams-Derry, research director for Northwest Environment Watch (NEW), the Seattle research and communication center that conducted the study. "It's more evidence that we need to phase these chemicals out." The study confirms other research that PBDEs are building up rapidly in people and the environment, with levels in many countries doubling every two to five years.

The report emphasized that mothers should continue breastfeeding. Research shows that despite the presence of contaminants, breastfeeding is the healthiest choice for infants; benefits include reducing the risk of many illnesses in infants, as well as the incidence of anemia and some cancers in women. Breastmilk was chosen as a measure because it is the most convenient body fluid to obtain and study, and because it provides a good proxy for contamination levels experienced by the developing fetus.

This month Washington's Department of Ecology is holding two public hearings on its draft action plan on PBDEs.

To read the report go to www.northwestwatch.org/toxics/.

WAR IN IRAQ

U.S. CASUALTIES: As of Tuesday, Oct. 19, 1,102 U.S. service members have died since the war in Iraq began in March 2003: 846 in combat and 256 from noncombat-related incidents and accidents. Injured service members total 8,016. Last week 30 U.S. soldiers died.

Since President George W. Bush declared "mission accomplished" aboard the USS Abraham Lincoln on May 1, 2003, 964 soldiers have died and 7,474 have been injured

Source: U.S. Department of Defense

IRAQI CIVILIAN DEATHS: Estimated between 13,278 and 15,357.

Source: www.iraqbodycount.org

COST OF IRAQ WAR: $140,816,000,000.

Source: costofwar.com

--Compiled by Cynthia Sewell

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