01/04/2012 - THE ENVIRONMENT
Australia Proposes Large Marine Sanctuaries
The Australian government released a draft plan for marine parks in the South West region that would include a 124,471-square-mile marine sanctuary. It would be the largest in Australia, twice as big as the Great Barrier Reef sanctuary zones and the third largest in the world. The plan also includes smaller sanctuaries and a large network of marine parks in which major destructive activities will be restricted or prohibited. Wild Australia’s South West campaign actively worked to build public support in the lead-up to the draft plan’s release.
Proactive Plans Protect Fish in the Southeast
The Gulf of Mexico and U.S. Caribbean fishery management councils approved wide-ranging plans to prevent overfishing. For the first time, science-based fishing limits were set to protect more than 100 species. The plans are designed to keep relatively healthy species from dropping to dangerously low levels. The Gulf of Mexico council also approved a rescue plan for the gag grouper that calls for significant cuts in catch levels and a much shorter fishing season. Pew’s advocacy efforts included generating support from coastal businesses and news stories, as well as providing detailed recommendations in testimony and comment letters.
Pew Reports on Military’s Clean Energy Efforts
Pew’s Clean Energy Program
released the report From Barracks to the Battlefield: Clean Energy Innovation and America’s Armed Services
. It details efforts across the U.S. Department of Defense and its service branches to deploy energy-efficient and renewable-energy technologies at military bases, to develop more efficient vehicles in order to reduce the demand for battlefield fuel and to use advanced biofuels as an alternative to petroleum fuels. The department is the nation’s largest institutional consumer of energy.
From the South Pacific to the Americas, momentum is growing for establishing shark-sanctuary designations:
- The Republic of the Marshall Islands became home to the world’s largest shark sanctuary. The Marshall Islands’ parliament unanimously passed legislation ending commercial fishing of sharks in all 768,547 square miles of the central Pacific country’s waters, an ocean area four times the landmass of California. Pew staff testified at hearings leading up to the law’s passage.
- Eight countries launched a high-level coalition committed to developing sanctuaries that would end commercial shark fishing in their national waters. A Pew-organized event coincided with the opening session of the United Nations General Assembly, in which these nations participated, and featured the president of Palau and representatives from the Bahamas, the Maldives, Colombia, Honduras, the Marshall Islands, Mexico and the Federated States of Micronesia.
- At the Pacific Islands Forum Leaders Meeting, the minister of foreign affairs, Faipule Foua Toloa, announced the designation of Tokelau’s waters as a sanctuary for marine mammals, turtles and sharks, protecting these species in more than 115,800 square miles of ocean.
New Commitments to Address Pirate Fishing
The leaders of the U.S. and European Union agencies responsible for fisheries management signed an agreement committing the two governments to crack down on worldwide illegal fishing. The United States and the European Union are two of the world’s three largest seafood importing markets, so this commitment could signal a turning point for the health of the oceans, communities that depend on fish and the majority of fishermen who play by the rules. A Pew statement
, which was picked up by several media outlets, spelled out what would need to happen for this commitment to result in real change: create a global registry identifying fishing vessels; develop a global database to collect intelligence about illegal activity; and adopt stricter measures requiring ports to prevent pirate fishermen from off-loading their contraband. Pew reiterated these points in a private meeting with the EU fisheries commissioner, Maria Damanaki, who invited Pew staff to brief her in Brussels about building a global fisheries enforcement system.
Polynesian Islands Express Support for No-Take Reserves
The Global Ocean Legacy
made significant strides in advancing the designation of large, no-take marine reserves in the waters of two historically significant Polynesian islands in the southeastern Pacific Ocean. The governing council of Pitcairn Island voted 6 to 1 to endorse the concept of establishing a no-take marine reserve in the waters surrounding this remote South Pacific territory, best known as the home of the descendants of the mutineers of the British royal ship HMS Bounty
. The campaign also is making progress toward creating a similar protected area around Easter Island in the southeastern Pacific Ocean, working to secure support from local officials, business leaders, scientists, Easter Island residents and nonprofits, as well as the head of the navy of Chile, which governs the island.
Grand Canyon-Size Win for Wilderness
Interior Secretary Ken Salazar announced that the Obama administration is committed to protecting a million acres from new mining claims around Grand Canyon National Park for 20 years. He also issued a new short-term ban running through the end of 2011 to allow the administration to complete its environmental impact statement on uranium mining on water quality and other resources in the region. Since 2007, Pew has been engaged in a concerted effort to protect the Grand Canyon from new claims.
Preventive Catch Limits Adopted in South Atlantic
The South Atlantic Fishery Management Council, which regulates fishing in U.S. waters from North Carolina to Florida, approved a plan to prevent overfishing of more than three dozen species. The plan sets reasonable limits to keep these populations from dropping. For nearly all of these species, 2012 will be the first time limits have been placed on total annual catch. Pew staff members submitted comments and testified before the council, secured personal letters from fishermen and gathered more than 40,000 petition signatures in support of this new approach.
IN THE STATESFour States Ratify Voting Improvements
North Carolina, South Carolina, Tennessee and Texas enacted Pew-supported legislation improving the voting process for military members and civilians overseas, ensuring they will have enough time to receive and submit ballots that will be counted. The laws expand and codify aspects of the federal Military and Overseas Voter Empowerment Act, such as providing electronic transmission of unmarked ballots, mandating that ballots are sent to voters at least 45 days before an election and broadening the use of the back-up ballot, known as the Federal Write-in Absentee Ballot, to state and local elections. Since 2010, the Election Initiatives
program of the Pew Center on the States has supported efforts to pass bills to protect the votes of service members in 11 states.
Defense Department Expands Water Fluoridation
A memorandum by the assistant secretary of defense for health affairs instructed U.S. Department of Defense facilities that operate water systems serving more than 3,300 personnel to provide optimally fluoridated water. This memo cited tooth decay as “a major problem for military personnel” and noted that fluoridation will “directly reduce their risk for dental decay and improve [military] readiness.” Although most military bases have provided fluoridated water for decades, this memo expands fluoridation to more service facilities. The Pew Children’s Dental Campaign
began working with a senior Defense Department official two years ago on data collection that prompted the decision.
Pew Experts Testify on State Pensions and Retiree Benefits
Pew staff members testified before state legislators in Kansas and Rhode Island about the rising costs of pensions and retiree health care for public-sector workers and about the policy approaches other states have taken to address them. In Topeka, staff members addressed the Kansas Public Employees’ Retirement System Study Commission, a 13-member group appointed by the governor to bring the state into actuarial balance by 2019. The commission will write pension reform legislation that will subsequently be voted on by the legislature. In Providence, Pew staff members addressed the Rhode Island General Assembly as it prepared to debate the most comprehensive reform bill any state has considered.
New Advances in Public Safety
At a news conference with the Missouri governor, chief justice and legislative leaders from the House and Senate, the state announced its partnership with Pew’s Public Safety Performance Project
to develop policies to protect public safety, control corrections costs and hold offenders accountable. Missouri is the 16th state to receive comprehensive technical assistance from the project. In Florida, the project’s partner Right on Crime
added former governor Jeb Bush as its newest signatory. The campaign, which was launched in December 2010, has recruited many high-profile conservatives to speak out about the need to be tough on criminal-justice spending.
HEALTHPew Works With Industry to Secure Food-Safety Funding for FDA
Pew continued to work to ensure that the U.S. Food and Drug Administration has the resources to implement and enforce the new food-safety law, including efforts that were timed to lead up to a vote by the Senate Appropriations Committee vote. Pew ran ads, jointly funded by the Grocery Manufacturers of America, that cited the growing volume of food imports, and called key members of the Senate and House appropriations committees. The Senate panel ultimately provided an additional $40 million above current levels to carry out the new law.
School Meal Improvements Sought
The Kids’ Safe and Healthful Foods Project
took several steps to highlight the need for improved safety and quality of school foods. Its first major congressional briefing featured the release of the project’s pilot survey documenting how schools must improve equipment and training in order to serve safer, more healthful meals. A second congressional event focused on the science behind school-meal standards recently proposed by the U.S. Department of Agriculture.
Pew Prescription Project Testimony on Drug Safety
Pew Prescription Project
director Allan Coukell testified before the Senate Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions Committee at a hearing on U.S. drug safety. He provided an overview of the complex drug-supply chain and urged Congress to help reduce the risks of counterfeit, adulterated and substandard drugs. Several witnesses and lawmakers mentioned After Heparin
, Pew’s report on securing the pharmaceutical supply chain.
Pew-Funded Study Published
The medical journal Clinical Infectious Diseases
published a study conducted by the Translational Genomics Research Institute entitled “Multidrug-Resistant Staphylococcus
aureus in US Meat and Poultry.” The Campaign on Human Health and Industrial Farming
commissioned the research. In addition to finding high levels of the antibiotic-resistant Staphylococcus aureus on meat and poultry, the study suggested that food animals were the predominant source of the contamination.
Support for the Health Impact Project
The Health Impact Project
, a collaboration between Pew and the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, secured three more funding partners, in part because of the momentum in the field of health impact assessments and the project’s emergence as a national leader. The Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Minnesota Foundation, the California Endowment and the Kresge Foundation will each fund two more health impact assessment demonstrations through the project, in addition to providing administrative resources. These demonstrations will help show how health impact assessments can be used to inform active decisions in communities.
Urging the Development of New Life-Saving Antibiotics
The Pew Health Group
co-hosted a conference with the Infectious Diseases Society of America and the Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America, “Reviving the Pipeline of Life-Saving Antibiotics: Exploring Solutions to Spur Innovation
.” It brought together leaders from government, industry, academia, medicine and science to discuss the simultaneous increase in serious drug-resistant infections and decrease in the development of life-saving antibiotics, as well as to propose and discuss policy and regulatory solutions. Speakers included directors from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and representatives from large and small pharmaceutical companies engaged in antibiotic research and development. In the House of Representatives, Phil Gingrey (R-GA) introduced the Generating Antibiotic Incentives Now Act, which provides provisions to stimulate the development of new antibiotics; the Senate bill was introduced by Bob Corker (R-TN) and Richard Blumenthal (D-CT). The Pew Antibiotics and Innovation Project
worked closely with the bipartisan group of co-sponsors of the bill.
THE ECONOMYThe Great Debt Shift
Rep. Xavier Becerra (D-CA) used the Pew Fiscal Analysis Initiative
’s Great Debt Shift fiscal fact sheet to explain to the congressional Joint Select Committee on Deficit Reduction how legislative decisions over the past 10 years have contributed to the nation’s debt problem. Becerra served on the 12-member committee, which was established as part of the Budget Control Act to propose at least $1.5 trillion in deficit-reduction measures.
Senators Call for Credit Card Reform
Democratic senators Charles Schumer (NY), Jack Reed (RI), Bill Nelson (FL) and Robert Menendez (NJ) submitted a joint letter to the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation urging regulators to increase transparency in credit cards marketed for business or commercial purposes. Their action was the direct result of a report released by the Safe Credit Cards Project
on business credit cards, which generated considerable media coverage.
PEW RESEARCH CENTERDemographic Studies Show Groups Affected Differently by Recession
Back-to-back reports from the Pew Research Center’s Social & Demographic Trends Project
shed light on different aspects of the Great Recession and economic recovery. Analyzing gender trends in labor force participation during the two-year recovery, the project found that men gained 768,000 jobs while women lost 218,000 jobs. The current recovery is the first since 1970 in which women have lost jobs while men have gained them. In a second report, the project found that blacks and Hispanics experienced much more severe drops in household wealth during the recession than did whites, largely caused by plummeting real-estate values. The median wealth of white households is 20 times that of black households and 18 times that of Hispanic households, the largest wealth disparities seen in the 25 years the Census Bureau has been collecting such data.
Pew Research Center Surveys Egyptians
The Global Attitudes Project
released the results of a nationwide poll conducted in Egypt. Overwhelmingly, Egyptians said it was good that Hosni Mubarak was no longer president. Nearly two in three were satisfied with the way things were going in the country, and most were optimistic about its future. But only 20 percent of Egyptians viewed the United States favorably, nearly identical to the 17 percent who rated it favorably in 2010. By a margin of 54 percent to 36 percent, Egyptians wanted the peace treaty with Israel annulled. The Pew Research Center’s director of International Survey Research, Jim Bell, and Pew Global Attitudes associate director, Richard Wike, also gave a presentation on the findings from the survey at the U.S. State Department.
A Tale of Two Fathers
Based on its own survey data, as well as an analysis of the National Survey of Family Growth, the Social & Demographic Trends Project
found that the role of fathers in the modern American family is changing in important and countervailing ways. Fathers who live with their children have become more intensely involved in their lives, spending more time with them and taking part in a greater variety of activities. However, the share of men residing with their children has fallen significantly in the past half-century.
Poll Categorizes Voters
The Center for People & the Press
released its 2011 Political Typology, a long-standing effort to go “beyond red and blue” and sort voters into groups based on their values, political beliefs and party affiliation. On the right, the divide between pro-business conservatives and social conservatives has blurred. On the left, in addition to traditional Democratic groups, the study found a “new coalition” of working-class voters that is in equal parts white, Latino and African American. The middle of the electorate now spans affluent, secular, left-leaning “postmoderns,” right-leaning “disaffecteds,” and economically conservative, socially moderate “libertarians.”
Disapproval from Pakistan
The Global Attitudes Project
found that most Pakistanis see the United States as an enemy, consider it a potential military threat and oppose American-led anti-terrorism efforts, including the raid on Osama bin Laden’s compound. Just 12 percent of Pakistanis expressed a positive view of the United States, and only 8 percent had confidence in how President Barack Obama handles world affairs. Sen. John Kerry (D-MA) cited these low approval numbers in his opening question of Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton during a Senate Foreign Relations Committee hearing to evaluate progress in Afghanistan and Pakistan.
Nonprofit News Sites Not Necessarily Nonpartisan
The Project for Excellence in Journalism
released an analysis of the growing field of nonprofit news Web sites. The report identifies 46 sites from across the country, all launched in 2005 or later, that offer state and national coverage, and it examines their funding, transparency, organizational structure and coverage. The study found that roughly half of these sites produced clearly ideological news coverage. It also concluded that, in general, the more ideological sites tended to be funded mostly or entirely by one parent organization, to be less transparent about their funding sources and to produce less content. Sites with a mixed or balance perspective tended to have multiple funders and revenue streams, greater transparency and more content.
PHILADELPHIACultural Data Project Comes to the Nation’s Capital
The Philadelphia-based Cultural Data Project
was launched in Washington, DC, making it the 12th state or region to benefit from the project’s management tools and technical assistance. Arts and cultural organizations in the District will join more than 11,600 of their peers around the country in using the Cultural Data Project to improve their operations and report to their funders.
Report Cites Changing Demographics in City
The Philadelphia Research Initiative
issued a report on the ethnic and racial changes Philadelphia has been undergoing, both citywide and in individual neighborhoods. For example, between 1990 and 2010, Northeast Philadelphia—long a white, middle-class neighborhood—went from 92 percent white to 58 percent white, according to Census data, while gaining population overall. In keeping with national trends, the number of Hispanics and Asians increased substantially in the city. The African American population remained relatively stable as it pushed out from inner-city neighborhoods to area bordering the suburbs.