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The Shocking River Fire That Fueled the Creation of the EPA

April 22, 2019 in History

By Erin Blakemore

Fires were nothing out of the ordinary on Cleveland’s Cuyahoga River in the 1960s. The city was still a manufacturing hub and the river, which empties into Lake Erie, had long been a dumping place for sewage and industrial waste.

But on June 22, 1969, a spark flared from the train tracks down to the river below, igniting industrial debris floating on the surface of the water. Flames spread across the river, in some places reaching five stories high.

And though it only took about 20 minutes to extinguish the blaze, the not-so-unusual river fire helped create an environmental revolution. Though it initially caught the attention of few Cleveland residents, the Cuyahoga River Fire stoked the rest of the nation’s awareness of the environmental and health threats of river pollution—and fueled a growing movement that culminated in the creation of the Environmental Protection Agency.

A 1967 photograph, showing old cars used as rip-rap along the banks of the Cuyahoga River to protect it from erosion, is held in front the foliage-filled landscape of the river in 2006.

Cleveland had staked its claim as an industrial center in the 19th century, when the Civil War turned the then-small city into a manufacturing powerhouse. As factories and the local population grew, sewage and industrial remnants poured into the river. But, in line with the era’s lax attitudes toward the environment, nobody much cared.

Soon, the river was filthy. “Yellowish-black rings of oil circled on its surface like grease in soup,” recalled František Vlček, a Czech immigrant, of his first view of the river in the 1880s. “The water was yellowish, thick, full of clay, stinking of oil and sewage. Piles of rotting wood were heaped on either bank of the river, and it was all dirty and neglected….I was disappointed by this view of an American river.”

At the time, according to the Property and Environment Research Center, Cleveland sourced its drinking water from Lake Erie and used the river as a sewer. “So municipal authorities left the Cuyahoga River alone—allowing firms along its banks to discharge into it at will,” they write.


Firemen stand on a bridge over the Cuyahoga River to spray water on the tug Arizona, after an oil slick on the river caught fire in 1952.

The waste those firms did discharge turned the river muddy and filled it with oil, solvents and other industrial …read more

Source: HISTORY

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Joko Widodo Can't Save Indonesia from Extremism

April 22, 2019 in Economics

By Doug Bandow

Doug Bandow

Indonesian president Joko Widodo apparently won his electoral
rematch with Prabowo Subianto by a solid if not overwhelming
margin. That almost certainly is to the benefit of Indonesia and
its neighbors.

Subianto is a putative strongman, made an army general by his
father-in-law, the late dictator Suharto. Subianto commanded the
brutal Special Forces and was cashiered for having kidnapped regime
opponents. He sought political support by encouraging Islamic
extremism.

Nevertheless, in response Widodo, informally known as Jokowi,
abandoned his more liberal views and appealed to the same
intolerant forces. Indonesia’s reputation as home to a tolerant
Islamic faith continues to erode.

Indeed, Islamic extremism long has existed barely beneath the
surface, ready to burst forth. Two decades ago on the main island
of Java I joined the group Christian Freedom International in
visiting a Bible school which had been destroyed by a mob. Out of
fear of further violence, the local authorities refused to grant
permission to rebuild. On the same trip I visited the Moluccan
Islands, with a larger than average Christian population, which
were roiled by more than two years of violent conflict. I met a
militia leader who fought to defend Christian villages—and
was killed a couple weeks later.

Jakarta’s reputation as
home to a tolerant Islamic faith continues to erode.

In 2002 Islamists targeted Australians for their nation’s
support of America; the bombing killed 202 people on Bali. I stood
in front of Jakarta’s JW Marriott in 2003, after it was bombed by
Islamic radicals, ironically killing more Indonesian Muslims than
Western Christians (the hotel was hit again a few years later). In
2006 I met a pastor’s wife who lost her leg in a bombing at her
church outside of Jakarta. During the same trip I talked with
members of a church in Kalimantan, which had been destroyed by
their neighbors. They were blocked by the local government from
rebuilding the church.

In fact, since 2004 the U.S. Commission on International
Religious Freedom has placed Indonesia on its “Tier 2”
list for violations of religious liberty. The USCIRF’s latest
report noted that “For decades, hardliners and other
intolerant groups have had deep connections to and influence on the
highest levels of government.” Although advocates of
tolerance remain, other elements “have grown more vocal in
calling for increasingly conservative interpretations of
Islam.”

Indeed, observers see the Arabization of Indonesian Islam, with
a rise of Salafism. Moderation and syncretism, accommodating
traditional local beliefs, are fading. The New York Times
has reported that bureaucrats “steeped in austere Wahhabism
draw converts in government prayer halls. Hundreds of Indonesians
joined the Islamic State in Syria and Iraq. And hundreds of
thousands more cheer for the …read more

Source: OP-EDS