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Why did America's leading environmental groups jet to Copenhagen and lobby for policies that will lead to the faster death of the rainforests--and runaway global warming? Why are their lobbyists on Capitol Hill dismissing the only real solutions to climate change as "unworkable" and "unrealistic," as though they were just another sooty tentacle of Big Coal?
At first glance, these questions will seem bizarre. Groups like Conservation International are among the most trusted "brands" in America, pledged to protect and defend nature. Yet as we confront the biggest ecological crisis in human history, many of the green organizations meant to be leading the fight are busy shoveling up hard cash from the world's worst polluters--and burying science-based environmentalism in return. Sometimes the corruption is subtle; sometimes it is blatant. In the middle of a swirl of bogus climate scandals trumped up by deniers, here is the real Climategate, waiting to be exposed.
I have spent the past few years reporting on how global warming is remaking the map of the world. I have stood in half-dead villages on the coast of Bangladesh while families point to a distant place in the rising ocean and say, "Do you see that chimney sticking up? That's where my house was... I had to [abandon it] six months ago." I have stood on the edges of the Arctic and watched glaciers that have existed for millenniums crash into the sea. I have stood on the borders of dried-out Darfur and heard refugees explain, "The water dried up, and so we started to kill each other for what was left."
While I witnessed these early stages of ecocide, I imagined that American green groups were on these people's side in the corridors of Capitol Hill, trying to stop the Weather of Mass Destruction. But it is now clear that many were on a different path--one that began in the 1980s, with a financial donation. Read more.
FROM THE DESK OF THE EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR
March 25, 2010
I cannot believe that I am writing you this letter...
The international ban on commercial whaling, which Greenpeace fought tirelessly to pass in the 1980ís, is now in critical danger of being overturned.
A proposal has been put forth at the International Whaling Commission (IWC) that would not only reinstate commercial whaling around the world, it would legitimize Japan's "scientific" slaughter in the Southern Ocean Whale Sanctuary. Nearly 25 years of protection for the whales could be tossed out the window if this proposal passes at the next IWC meeting in June 2010.
Shockingly, the Obama administrationís representatives at the IWC actually support the deal to reinstate commercial whaling and are urging other nations to do the same. The delegates say that their directive comes directly from President Obama himself.
I cannot claim to be an expert on Stewart Udall, the Arizona Congressman, conservationist, supporter of environmentalist casandra Rachel Carson, and interior secretary under Presidents Kennedy and Johnson who died this week at the age of 90.
I can say, from personal experience, though, that he was a breed apart from the money-grubbing, corporate ass-kissing, Washington cocktail circuit, elitist pigs who have headed up federal government departments in the days and years since Richard Nixon, in 1969, inaugurated the "Imperial Presidency."
Joining the conversation will be Dr Muhamad Tareq al-Darraji who authored the report Prohibited Weapons Crisis about the impact of the US military assault on the Falluja population, and Dahr Jamail, an American journalist who reported extensively from Iraq on the US invasion and its aftermath.
Doctors in the Iraqi city of Falluja are handling up to 15 times as many birth defects as they were one year ago.
The chronic deformities include multiple tumours, heart problems, nervous system anomalies and eye deficiencies.
Residents of the city blame the surge in chronic deformities on controversial weapons used by US forces against Sunni fighters in 2004.
White phosphorus and depleted uranium shells were allegedly among the munitions used.
Most doctors are unsure about the reasons for the surge in birth deformities over the past year but say it could be a result of the chemicals left over from the fighting.
Send us your views and get your voice on the air
The US military has dismissed those allegations. Read more.
In her 2002 book titled, "Water Wars," noted author, social activist, and ecologist Vandana Shiva called privatizing water:
- ecological terrorism;
- a global water crisis;
- along with overuse, waste and pollution, it can cause "the most pervasive, most severe, and most invisible dimension of the ecological devastation of the earth;"
- the road to "an ecological crisis with commercial causes but no market solutions; (they) destroy the earth and aggravate inequality; the solution to an ecological crisis is ecological, and the solution for injustice is democracy;" and
- water rights are natural and "usufructuary....water can be used but not owned;" it belongs to everyone as part of the commons as an essential "basis of all life....under customary laws, the right to water has been accepted as a natural, social fact."
Shiva lists nine water democracy principles:
By Dave Lindorff
From Extra!, January 2010
In mid-October, hundreds of thousands of Vietnam-era veterans got some good if grim news: The Veterans Administration announced it was adding three more diseases to the 11 others it automatically presumes to have been caused by exposure to Agent Orange, the dioxin-laced herbicide spread by the U.S. military across much of South Vietnam to deny crops and cover to North Vietnamese and Viet Cong fighters during the war.
Newspapers and radio and TV news programs across America ran stories announcing that veterans of the jungle war who now suffer or may eventually suffer from Parkinson’s Disease, ischemic heart disease or a type of cancer called hairy-cell leukemia will henceforth automatically be offered free medical care by the VA if they’d spent at least one day in uniform on the ground in Vietnam.
By Robert C. Koehler | Tribune Media Services
We owe the residents of the tiny island paradise called Vieques full compensation for the illnesses they are suffering courtesy of the U.S. Navy — and we owe them so much more than that.
We owe them a full accounting of what was done to their Manhattan-sized island, about 10 miles off the coast of Puerto Rico (the island is part of Puerto Rico and hence part of the United States) between 1941 and 2003, when it served as the Navy’s premiere weapons testing site. Bombs were dropped and guns were tested on the eastern portion of the island at least 200 days out of the year for 62 years; an estimated 80 million tons of ordnance pummeled the island’s fragile, tropical ecosystem over that time, contaminating soil, water and air, and bequeathing an array of serious health problems — cancer, birth defects, cirrhosis of the liver and much more — to the island’s 10,000 residents.
We owe them — how can I put this? — a commitment to sanity in the realm of national defense. What kind of defense involves the commission of war crimes against our own citizens? We owe them a national conversation about who we are and what we’ve allowed to happen in the name of national security and global dominance.
Vieques, one of the most beautiful spots I’ve ever visited — its stunning features include what may be the world’s largest bioluminescent bay (microorganisms in the water glow when disturbed, as by swimmers) — was commandeered by the U.S. military as a throwaway site for weapons testing. The Navy occupied three-quarters of the island until 2003; it finally left following four years of protests, which were ignited when an errant bomb killed a civilian security guard in 1999.
EPA Announces Environmental Justice Video Contest: Faces of the Grassroots
WASHINGTON --The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency is sponsoring an environmental justice video contest that challenges professional or aspiring filmmakers to create videos that capture the faces of the environmental justice movement. The Faces of the Grassroots contest is an opportunity to publicly exhibit creativity with environmental justice stories, and connect with others working to raise awareness of the movement.
“Faces of the Grassroots will help EPA expand the conversation on environmentalism and work for environmental justice,” said Charles Lee, director of EPA’s Office of Environmental Justice. “Participants can make a difference for the historically underrepresented in their community by using motion pictures to show the struggles and triumphs they have endured to advance environmental justice.”
Organic Activists Will Dump Sewage Sludge and Hold a Press Conference on the Steps of San Francisco City Hall March 4 at Noon
Bay Area Gardeners Will Give Back Toxic Sewage Sludge that City Distributed
Using the Ruse of “Organic Compost”
SAN FRANCISCO, February 23, 2010 -- Community gardeners who were misled into
accepting toxic sewage sludge from the San Francisco Public Utilities Commission (SFPUC) are giving the sludge back to the Mayor¹s office at 1 Dr. Carlton B. Goodlett Place on March 4th at 12 Noon.
Twice a year since 2007, the SFPUC has hosted “Compost Giveaway Events” in locations throughout the city. Although the city has marketed the material as “organic compost” or “organic fertilizer,” it turns out that it is really toxic sludge generated by San Francisco and seven other counties’ industrial, hospital, commercial and residential sewage. Residents who had lined up at the giveaways were outraged to learn of SFPUC¹s bait-and-switch.
The Environmental Activists of Climate Ground Zero and Mountain Justice Stand Up to Big Coal in West Virginia
In the hills and hollers of southern West Virginia, a protest movement for environmental justice, social justice and human rights has arisen in the recent past that is having tremendous success. Arrayed against this movement is the multi-billion-dollar coal industry that owns the government of the State of West Virginia. Stepping into the breach with calls for an end to mountainop removal coal extraction are two groups that practice civil disobedience on behalf of the environment: Climate Ground Zero (CGZ) and Mountain Justice (MJ). Comprised of volunteers, these organizations have peacefully protested coal company practices that run a real risk of bringing death, dismemberment, horror and mainfold tragedy to thousands of people in southern West Virginia's Coal River Valley.
“Peaceful” doesn't mean “ineffectual,” however, and the actions of CGZ and MJ have, forced the "Coal Mob" to tip its hand by engaging in the same sort of ham-fisted tactics that have always been coal's stock-in-trade. Using the bought-and-paid-for West Virginia justice system, peaceful protesters arrested for trespass and the like have been subjected to merciless cash bails that have literally kept them behind bars while alleged child molesters have walked free on bond. They have been threatened with death, assaulted and terrorized. In the face of it all, they have not flinched.
John Jonik sent the following information:
Here's one link to info on where to send Public Comments to stop the Fracking for Natural Gas in Pennsylvania public and private lands, and the theft of our water, the threats to the Delaware River, the poisoning of our water, the pollution and environmental damage from trucks, and so forth.
Sierra Club isn't exactly the strongest ally in any natural lands defense, but the info is here anyway.
For very thorough coverage of the situation, Google up University City Press Review articles here.
Look up plenty of other articles on the topic there.
Trust in scientists dropped nine percent from 83 to 74 percent, while faith in the mainstream news media slumped from 47 percent in 2008 to 36 percent.
Public concern about global warming and trust in climate leaders has dropped sharply in the U.S. according to a survey.
Fifty-seven percent of Americans polled at the end of 2009 and early 2010 believe climate change is happening compared with a figure of 71 percent in October 2008.
The report, "Climate Change in the American Mind" published jointly by Yale University and the George Mason University Wednesday also reveals a picture of falling trust in scientists, politicians and the media concerning climate change.
Anthony Leiserowitz, principal investigator and director of the Yale Project on Climate Change told CNN: "I'm not surprised by the direction of the results but I am surprised at the magnitude of them.
"These are steep drop offs and this is despite the fact that, if anything, the climate science is getting stronger and more concerning over the past year." Read more.
Chilean Earthquake Update, 12:00 PM Noon CST
- US State Department information for Americans seeking information about family and friends in Chile, and how Americans now in Chile can report in to US Consulate.
- Google Crisis Response: People search service
- CNN: Tsunami advisory issued for Pacific Basin area: California, Washington State, Oregon, Alaska, west coast of Canada.
- CNN: Tsunami arrival in Hawaii estimated to be 11 AM local time. NOAA estimating wave height 1'-7'. What to do, #21 & #22 here.
- Four US warships departing Hawaii within next 3 hours. US military working with local Hawaiian authorities to prepare for expected Hawaiian tsunami. Sirens sounding on Oahu, food stocks being limited per person.
- USGS Map, showing quake magnitudes throughout Southern Hemisphere
- Live Stream from Chile
- Google Live Updates
- Daylight now in Chile; damage assessment intensifies.
- Telephone communications down.
- Chilean earthquake strength not quite 1000 times the strength of Haitian quake.
- Preliminary Chilean report: 147 dead reported and expected to climb; President Obama said "hundreds."
- Bridge between north and south portions of Chile is out.
- Airports closed; flights diverted or returned to points of origin.
- Numerous aftershocks now in Chile; CNN Chile section head said he lost count at 25 aftershocks.
- Twitter & Facebook users providing on-going, on-the-ground local coverage.
BREAKING: USGS Reports 8.8-Magnitude Earthquake Hits Chile; Tsunami Watch for Ecuador, Columbia, Panama, Costa Rica, Hawaii
SANTIAGO, Chile – A massive 8.8-magnitude earthquake capable of tremendous damage struck central Chile early Saturday, shaking the capital for a minute and half and setting off a tsunami. Buildings collapsed and phone lines and electricity were down, making the extent of the damage difficult to determine.
The quake hit 200 miles (325 kilometers) southwest of the capital, Santiago, and at a depth of 22 miles (35 kilometers) at 3:34 a.m. (0634 GMT; 1:34 a.m. EST), the U.S. Geological Survey reported. Its epicenter was just 70 miles (115 kilometers) from Concepcion, Chile's second-largest city, where more than 200,000 people live along the Bio Bio river, and 60 miles from the ski town of Chillan, a gateway to Andean ski resorts that was destroyed in a 1939 earthquake.
Buildings shook and collapsed in Santiago. With phone lines down, confirmation of damage was difficult elsewhere, especially further south toward the epicenter. The quake was felt in Argentina as well.
The Pacific Tsunami Warning Center issued a warning for Chile and Peru, and a less-urgent tsunami watch for Ecuador, Colombia, Panama, Costa Rica and Antarctica.
"Sea level readings indicate a tsunami was generated. It may have been destructive along coasts near the earthquake epicenter and could also be a threat to more distant coasts," the center said. Read more.
By Charlotte Dennett
A driving snowstorm could not keep Vermonters away from the statehouse in Montpelier yesterday as the Vermont Senate convened a historic debate and then voted on the future of the state’s aging nuclear power plant. Some 1300 people – most of them standing before live video coverage outside the small, overcrowded Senate chamber -- listened to several hours of respectful debate that even included the proposition of building a new nuclear power plant in Vermont as per President Obama’s pro-nuclear agenda. But when it was all over, senators from both parties resoundingly voted against a last-minute amendment for a new plant to replace the old one, and similarly defeated re-licensure of Vermont Yankee in 2012 by a vote of 26 to 4. Amidst cheers, clapping and hugs from the victors, it was clearly another Vermont moment for a state that prides itself on being cutting edge on social, political and environmental issues. As the only state in the nation that by statute allows its legislature to decide whether to re-license a nuclear power plant, the vote is likely to have wide-reaching ramifications, including for residents of Massachusetts who live near the Vermont Yankee plant.
Avatar: The Prequel
Will Earth’s Last Stand Sweep the 2013 Oscars?
By Michael T. Klare | Tom Dispatch
From TomDispatch this afternoon: looking beyond Oscar week, Michael Klare, author of Resource Wars, suggests to James Cameron what his next Avatar film should be, a 2144 prequel set on a resource-ravaged planet Earth -- Michael Klare, "Avatar: The Prequel, Will Earth's Last Stand Sweep the 2013 Oscar's"
For his latest post directed toward the upcoming Academy Awards, Michael T. Klare, our premier scholar of "resource wars," offers himself to director James Cameron as a "technical consultant" on the next Avatar film which, he suggests, should be a prequel set on planet Earth in 2144 (a decade before the present Avatar begins). It would be, he writes, "a Pandora-style, sensory-expanding guided tour of our own planet... part of a harrowing tale of environmental degradation, resource scarcity, and perennial conflict in the twilight years of humanity’s decline. Think of it as Avatar: Earth’s Last Stand."
Klare's suggestion is based on hints already embedded in the global smash hit now in 3-D movie theaters across the planet: according to Avatar, Jake Scully, the renegade Marine who joins the Na'vi, previously served in "the First Marine Reconnaissance unit" on three combat tours in Venezuela (where he evidently got his spinal injury) and his commander on Pandora, Colonel Quaritch, fought in Nigeria. Both, Klare points out, are embattled oil-rich countries which may still have energy reserves deep into the twenty-second century.
Drawing on his "resource wars" expertise -- the phrase "resource wars" was the title of his pathbreaking 2001 book -- Klare paints for Cameron a picture of our energy-starved, ravaged world of 2144, so that you understand just why giant mining companies would set off for Pandora in search of "unobtanium."
Klare's latest post offers an initially light-hearted, but striking way of outlining our environmental and energy dilemmas a century-plus down the line. His piece suggests the next step after Avatar and is a splendid political prequel to the upcoming Academy Awards ceremony. He concludes: "It’s not that hard to imagine just such a future world if we continue on our present course toward ever greater resource consumption, increased carbon emissions, and the militarization of resource dependency. Can you doubt that the movie Cameron and I would make, Avatar: Earth’s Last Stand, would be both gripping and spectacular? It would be an amazing, if tension-producing place to visit in 3-D. Here’s the only catch: you wouldn’t want to live there." Read it!
Navy agrees to study impact of Camp Lejeune's toxic water
By Barbara Barrett | McClatchy Newspapers
The Navy has agreed to pay $1.53 million for a mortality study that could show a linkage between toxic water at Camp Lejeune, N.C., and the deaths of Marines and their family members who lived there over a 30-year period.
Some estimates are that during that time, as many as 1 million people were exposed to well water at the base that contained trichloroethylene, tetrachloroethylene, benzene and vinyl chloride.
The chemicals were dumped into storm drains, leaked from fuel tanks or were buried in pits across the base. They seeped through the groundwater and into wells that fed the base areas of Hadnot Point and Tarawa Terrace.
The main contaminated well was shut down in November 1984.
Documents that McClatchy revealed Sunday indicate that a fuel storage farm at a central part of the base might have had far greater significance to the contamination than previously was known.
Some 800,000 gallons of fuel were thought to have been spilled over the years from the fuel farm, close to the main well serving Hadnot Point — the location of the base's enlisted barracks, some officers' quarters and the hospital.
Benzene is a component of fuel and a known carcinogen. Read more.
Use as many low-energy lightbulbs as you like, turn down the thermostat and drive a hybrid car, but whatever you do as an individual -- indeed, the sum of what we all do for the environment --does almost nothing to alleviate the U.S. military's destruction of the earth.
In The Green Zone: The Environmental Costs of Militarism, Barry Sanders writes that like other capitalist institutions, "each military branch ... must grow larger and fatter each year; expansion is the life blood of imperialism." Further, Sanders asserts, "The military can brook limits of no kind whatsoever. ... The Pentagon conducts its business behind very thick and very closed doors. It writes its own rules and either follows them or violates them, depending on the situation."
Almost all "military numbers remain off of official reports, secret and out of sight." Sanders obtained the information he cites in the book by gleaning what he could from "arcane reports" and obscure Web sites belonging to the Department of Defense and Government Accounting Office, plus books and articles.
Sanders describes, in horrifying detail, how the military is "the largest single source of pollution in this country and in the world: the United States military -- in particular the military in its most ferocious and stepped-up mode -- namely, the military at war." He goes on to say, "When we declare war on a foreign nation, we now also declare war on the Earth, on the soil and plants and animals, the water and wind and people in the most far-reaching and deeply infecting ways." Read more.
ScienceDaily (Feb. 23, 2010) — Mass media have been a key vehicle by which climate change contrarianism has traveled, according to Maxwell Boykoff, a University of Colorado at Boulder professor and fellow of the Cooperative Institute for Research in Environmental Sciences, or CIRES.
Boykoff, an assistant professor of environmental studies, presented his research February 22 at the annual meeting of the American Association for the Advancement of Science in San Diego. He spoke during a panel discussion titled "Understanding Climate Change Skepticism: Its Sources and Strategies."
Boykoff's segment was titled "Exaggerating Denialism: Media Representations of Outlier Views on Climate Change" and discussed prominent pitfalls.
by Marcy Winograd
Imagine if in 2010 we did not spend one more borrowed penny to manufacture new weapons, occupy new lands, or recruit new mercenaries. Going cold turkey on military spending would wipe out nearly $1 trillion of our 1.6 trillion dollar deficit. A year and a half of war & weapons abstinence could erase our debt entirely.
Unfortunately, America is addicted to war and to debt. Fortunately, we can work together to kick the perpetual war and debt habit.
ScienceDaily (Feb. 18, 2010) — Childhood leukemia rates have more than doubled over the last 15 years in the southern Iraq province of Basrah, according to the study, "Trends in Childhood Leukaemia in Basrah, Iraq (1993-2007), published in the American Journal of Public Health.
The authors, three of whom are from the University of Washington, say they hope their calculations can now pave the way for an investigation into reasons why the rates have climbed so high, and why they are higher than found in nearby Kuwait, or in the European Union or the United States.
The study documents 698 cases of leukemia for children aged 0-14 during the 15-year period, with a peak of 211 cases in 2006. Younger children had higher rates than older ones.
They will also support numerous treaties, including the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty and the proposed treaty to ban the production of nuclear materials for weapons.
ScienceDaily (Feb. 19, 2010) — The American Physical Society (APS), the world's leading organization of physicists, has released a report identifying technical steps that will help the U.S. achieve its goals to downsize the nuclear arsenal, prevent the spread of atomic bombs and keep the stockpile safe and secure.
Vice President Joe Biden outlined those objectives during a speech in Washington, D.C., and the APS report, Technical Steps to Support Nuclear Downsizing, provides concrete steps -- including the use of nuclear archaeology to validate nations' production of atomic material -- that will help the nation accomplish its goals.
ScienceDaily (Feb. 15, 2010) — Despite good intentions, the push to privatize government functions and insistence upon "free trade" that is too often unfair has caused declining food production, increased poverty and a hunger crisis for millions of people in many African nations, researchers conclude in a new study.
Market reforms that began in the mid-1980s and were supposed to aid economic growth have actually backfired in some of the poorest nations in the world, and just in recent years led to multiple food riots, scientists report Feb 15 in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.
ScienceDaily (Feb. 15, 2010) — RTI International has developed a revolutionary lighting technology that is more energy efficient than the common incandescent light bulb and does not contain mercury, making it environmentally safer than the compact fluorescent light (CFL) bulb.
Sanders Introduces Major Solar Energy Initiative | Press Release
WASHINGTON, February 4 – Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.), chairman of the Senate’s green jobs subcommittee, today introduced legislation with nine cosponsors to encourage the installation of 10 million solar systems on the rooftops of homes and businesses over the next decade.
“At a time when we spend $350 billion importing oil from Saudi Arabia and other countries every year, the United States must move away from foreign oil to energy independence,” Sanders said. “A dramatic expansion of solar power is a clean and economical way to help break our dependence on foreign oil, reduce greenhouse gas emissions that cause global warming, improve our geopolitical position, and create good-paying green jobs.”
At a Senate committee hearing today, Sanders questioned Energy Secretary Steven Chu about President Obama’s budget for next year. The White House requested $2.4 billion for energy efficiency and renewable energy programs. The requested 5 percent boost overall included a 22 percent increase for solar power.
The potential for solar power also was the subject of testimony last week before Sanders’ green jobs subcommittee by Jeff Wolfe, chief executive officer of groSolar in White River Junction, Vt. Wolfe said Sanders’ bill “would help homeowners and small businesses stabilize their energy costs.”
Sanders’ bill would authorize rebates which, along with other incentives, would cover up to half the cost of the 10 million solar power systems and 200,000 water heating systems. Non-profit groups and state and local governments also would be eligible. The legislation would ensure that participating homeowners and businesses also receive information on incentives to improve energy efficiency.
Sanders said a recent report shows that solar power could help make every state more energy independent if solar units were installed on available rooftop space, because every state can meet 10 percent or more of its electricity needs just through rooftop solar. Moreover, because solar energy creates more jobs per megawatt than other energy sources. Sanders’ bill could create hundreds of thousands of jobs over the next ten years in the solar industry.
The legislation’s cosponsors include Environment and Public Works Committee Chairman Barbara Boxer (D-Calif.) and Sens. Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.), Frank Lautenberg (D-N.J.), Robert Menendez (D-N.J.), Sheldon Whitehouse (D-R.I.), Ben Cardin (D-Md.), Jeff Merkley (D-Ore.), Kirsten Gillibrand (D-N.Y.) and Sen. Arlen Specter (D-Pa.).
Sanders’ measure is patterned after successful state programs promoting solar energy in New Jersey and California, where prices have fallen as the number of solar units increased.
To read a copy of the bill, click here.
CO2 abatement: Exploring options for oil and natural gas companies
Oil and natural gas companies play a central role in CO2 emissions. How can the industry meet the challenge from climate change regulations?
Scott Nyquist and Jurriaan Ruys | McKinsey Quarterly
The oil and natural gas industry is directly responsible for just 6 percent of global CO2 emissions, but the debate over how to reduce the global greenhouse gases (GHG) commonly associated with climate change focuses primarily on oil and natural gas companies. These companies are under constant regulatory and reputational pressure to reduce both upstream and downstream CO2 emissions, and in the coming years they will increasingly be expected to provide solutions and make investments. The reason for this emphasis on the industry is that when you add the CO2 emitted in the end uses (transportation, power and heat generation), the petroleum and gas sectors account for almost half of all global emissions.
It is important to understand the position of the oil and gas industry in the context of the larger debate over climate change. By exploring some of the options that the sector has for reducing GHG emissions, oil and natural gas companies can not only stay ahead of regulatory and economic developments but also potentially profit from them. Read more, requires site registration.