Tuesday, October 27, 2009

HFCS Sucks! Industry: STOP using it!!!

Hey World Family,
This is a Falcon and Dove combined rant. We are going to say something simple, yet powerful when combined with direct action: World: stop eating, using ANY products with high fructose corn syrup in it.

Industry: stop making excuses about something that is vile and dangerous where you make gross profits and people (and animals, bees more specifically) are getting sick and dying. There is no excuse for this selfish, morally bankrupt behavior. There are other ways to make money-poisoning people is not the way to do it.

Just to be clear: Falcon and Dove have never embraced this Frankenstein-ian product. There has been study after study (mostly outside the U.S. since food additives don’t have to pass muster with FDA) that shows HFCS compromises liver function, and possibly other organs. How important is this? Well, if your liver isn’t functioning properly (removing toxins and recycling red blood cells every 120 days), creatine levels can rise, and its harder to oxygenate the body. If you can’t get enough oxygen, your entire body suffers: brain, heart, lungs, the full monty. That increases other health difficulties: asthma, diabetes (HFCS is THE contributing factor for this one beyond sedentary lifestyle and simple, non-nutritious white carb consumption), kidney malfunctions (since those who consume a lot of HFCS also don’t get enough water, on average), and other health deficits. When heated (like inside your body), it creates a carcinogen.

In addition to the already ridiculous amount of evidence that this is a singularly awful additive choice, studies have also shown that mercury showed up in 50% of common products tested. This is probably due to the caustic soda that is commonly contaminated with mercury from the chlorine industry (stay with me), and then used as an additive in food products. Although that process is to be curved completely by 2012, we aren’t there yet. Legislation to correct this vile practice was introduced by a young senator who is now our president: Barack Obama.

The fact that the industry actually ran a campaign of commercials asking American to keep using and consuming this filth really shows the lack of human decency that this industry shows for consumers. We all know that cheaper products will be filled with HFCS and other additives that together create a time bomb for the people who consume it. Oh, and by the way, the fact that the health care industry hasn’t climbed all over this and demanded that changes be made shows their collusion in this awful cycle of stupidity.

All this is about profit and sacrificing certain populations as expendable for the sake of profits: people with more money can buy at stores whose food comes from healthier, organic, and sustainable sources. The poor have far less options.



Falcon knows of several companies who have done just that. A lot of products are now labeled: no high fructose corn syrup. Our suggestion is that you work with other companies as consumers and ask…no, DEMAND that they remove this from their products. Buy products without this additive.

World Family, you and your children cannot afford to consume this trash. It’s not worth it. Demand that your grocer, your gas station, your dollar store, etc. get food that is safe for you to consume. Demand it.

This is why every person with the tiniest bit of earth should begin to grow their own food, work with others in your community to grow your own food, and create sustainable networks to get wholesome food.
It is time for a revolution, Brothers and Sisters. It’s been time.

Want more information on this subject? Check out your favorite search engine, or go to the websites below:



Protect your health, World Family. Defend your right to have food without additives known to hurt and kill. It’s your life. After all, what else do you have that’s more important than your life and health?
Falcon and Dove

Monday, October 26, 2009

Somerhill, Charles Constantino on 52nd Grammy Entry List

Hello World Family,
Here's an announcement from our Brothers Somerhill and producer Charles Constantino. It is great news for Falcon, too...I sang backing vocals on both nominated songs!!! Whoo-hoo (Shameless)

Somerhill, Charles Constantino on 52nd Grammy Entry List

‘Free Your Mind (Tara Na),’ ‘Today or Tomorrow’ in categories of Best Rock Performance by a Duo or
Group with Vocals, Best Rock Song

The Recording Academy has selected Free Your Mind (Tara Na) and Today or Tomorrow, both performed by Somerhill, for inclusion on the 52nd Grammy Entry List in the category of Best Rock Performance by a Duo or Group with Vocals. The category of Best Rock Song on the 52nd Grammy Entry List includes producer Charles Constantino and Somerhill members Chad Gontkovic and William Rose for writing Free Your Mind (Tara Na).

Constantino and Rose are also in the category of Best Rock Song for writing Today
or Tomorrow.

Winner of the 2006 Rockin’ in the Valley original music contest held by Our Town, Somerhill was the closing act for American Idol finalist Chris Daughtry in March 2007 in Pittsburgh. In 2008, Core Media House L.L.C. released Free Your Mind (Tara Na) and Today or Tomorrow, both of which were digitally tracked, mixed and mastered at 24 bits/96 kilohertz at Treelady Studios. Members of the Recording Academy vote from the 52nd Grammy Entry List, also known as the 52nd Grammy Awards Nominations
Ballot, for the nominees for the 52nd Grammy Awards.

Visit the Recording Academy at http://www.grammy.com/

Visit Somerhill at http://www.myspace.com/somerhill

Co-Op Scholarships for 2010:APPLY NOW!!!

Hey World Family,
Falcon here with important information for high school seniors planning on applying (or about to apply) to Co-Op Universities in the U.S.: Scholarship applications are now available online:


The National Commission of Cooperative Education (NCCE) have released their new apps and the materials package hit our snail mail this morning.
Here’s what you need to know:

NCCE Universities

Drexel University

Johnson and Wales University

Kettering University

Rochester Institute of Technology (RIT)
University of Cincinnati

University of Toledo

Wentworth Institute of Technology

These are institutions that provide cooperative job training programs 6 months long as an integral part of their undergraduate education. Students graduating from these institutions are prepared for the real work world in ways that sometimes others are not, and have a clear advantage when it comes to getting a job in a variety of progressive fields.


Any high school senior-public, private, charter, cyber, or home school student

3.5 GPA or better on a 4.0 scale

Complete the application materials at the website listed for the partner school you are interested in-yes, you will have to be accepted to the school of your choice in order to receive the scholarship

One page, 500 word essay on why you have chosen to pursue a college cooperative education.

Mail materials to:

National Commission for Cooperative Education
360 Huntington Avenue, 384 CP
Boston, MA 02115-5096

For general questions, please contact:
NOTE: We do NOT require transcripts or recommendations.


Scholarship winners are determined by each partner institution. Notification will be between March and May, 2010.


Scholarship amounts average around $6,000/yr. with a maximum of $30,000 over the span of the undergraduate education (so those with 5 year majors like engineering and architecture will be covered for the full term of their education, provided they can stay on that track).

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

'The Greenest Building' by SCAD President Paula Wallace

Hello World Family,
Falcon here posting a link to the Huffington Post blog by none other than SCAD prez Paula Wallace on Sustainability. Yes, Dove attends SCAD and as a SCAD Mom, I am certainly proud of the university, but it's more than that. They have a plan...and guts. They have a vision, and acumen. Here's what following a 'green' plan for the last 30 years can yield you and your community if your vision is bold, courageous, and encourages progressive thinking. Oh, and there's some serious sweat equity in this venture, too. Savannah has done it, so can you.
Read President Wallace's blog below:

The Greenest Building

In the summer of 1978, the city of Savannah, Georgia, was not doing so well. The iconic downtown department store was shuttered. The Art Deco playhouse was empty. The city's oldest high school, an elegant Greek Revival structure with WPA murals, was abandoned. Young people left and never came back. It was a tired, old, and dying city. Savannah needed ideas, investors, people, something.
I had an idea, and shared it with the mayor.

"We're going to start an art school," I said.
He chuckled. "It won't work," he said. "But go right ahead."

The distinctive architecture of downtown made Savannah the perfect choice for students studying art and design, and the first building of the new Savannah College of Art and Design was a dilapidated volunteer guards armory (a Richardsonian, Romanesque behemoth that seemed way too big at the time). We scrubbed it, restored it, painted it, and hauled in my kitchen table for an admissions desk. Three decades later, we have nearly 10,000 students. And nearly 100 historic buildings at locations in Savannah, Atlanta, Lacoste, and Hong Kong. That downtown department store is now a world-class university library. That Art Deco playhouse is now home to the Savannah Film Festival. That empty high school is now home to SCAD's School of Liberal Arts. Out of nearly a hundred SCAD properties around the world, only four have been newly built.

There's a lot of talk about sustainability these days, and that's a good thing. It's good to grab the low-hanging fruit, like hybrid cars, community gardens, and low-flow plumbing. But real sustainability is systemic and seismic. SCAD didn't start out to become a leader in sustainability. I wish I could claim that kind of prescience. But after we restored our first several historic properties for students, we realized that what we were doing had a name: recycling. Recycling on a monumental scale. As they say, the greenest building is the one that already exists.
But just because SCAD stumbled into its own sustainable practice doesn't mean we can't do it intentionally from here on out. That's why we have embedded sustainable design practices across the curriculum. It's no longer an elective; it's in everything we teach.

At SCAD, interior design and architecture students live and breathe sustainable ideas as naturally as they do building codes. Graphic design students don't just think about how to sell a product with package design - they think about what happens to the package afterwards. Industrial design students travel to Hong Kong and other cities in China to tour manufacturing facilities and learn the names of those who actually fabricate the products. Service design students learn to eliminate paper from the customer experience. Historic preservation students learn to preserve cultures, not just buildings. Fibers students create DIY bedding solutions for the homeless, buildable with thrift-store materials. And there's the new Design for Sustainability degree program at SCAD, where students design water conservation systems in post-Katrina homes and laptop prototypes capable of disassembly.

At SCAD, we teach sustainable design because it gets our students jobs. Aspiring artists and designers need to know how to practice sustainable design, especially when there's an entire summit devoted to the life of a Starbucks cup. Or when a recyclable office chair becomes one of Herman Miller's biggest sellers. Or when the AIA is now requiring annual sustainability education for licensed architects.
Teaching sustainable design also has the added benefit of transforming students into rather brilliant thinkers. That's because sustainable design is nothing less than holistic, productive, and imaginative thinking. In other words, sustainable design is...design. SCAD students are asking big questions, such as, "What are the philosophical assumptions behind this product or service?" and "Is anyone hurt in its manufacture, use, or disposal?" and "How can we save money and people at the same time?" In short, Design for Sustainability is for the 21st century what a degree in philosophy was for the 18th century, providing a healthy, comprehensive worldview. Oh, and employers are desperately seeking leaders who can think in such a way. Just ask Dan Pink, who said, "The MFA is the new MBA."

Sustainable design is about designing a world that's more beautiful, more functional, more equitable. It's about designing something - a world, a city, a product - that lasts. In many respects, this is what SCAD has helped accomplish in the living laboratory of Savannah, and what we're just beginning to do in other communities around the world. Sometimes we stumble into sustainability, looking up and realizing that the smartest decision was the most sustainable one, too. But the next generation of artists and designers won't stumble into it. They will seek out sustainable solutions with clear, purposeful, and imaginative thinking.

Savannah is no longer tired, old, and dying. It is vibrant, reborn, and alive. The change in the city has indeed been seismic. There are jobs. There are young people. There is joy and community. The old buildings are alive with new ideas. That's lasting change, and that's what sustainability is all about. And that's why it's worth teaching to every student.

Read more at: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/paula-wallace/the-greenest-building_b_326018.html

Monday, October 19, 2009

New Music Releases that are Must-Haves for Rocktober

Hello World Family,
It’s that time of year: time to look at the best of the best in music and film…and maybe even a few television shows, since some of the new stuff isn’t too bad;)

There are some great releases this fall, and Falcon and Dove have listened to the following ones intently and feel strongly that your music collection would feel bad without these strong tunes in your library.

11: 11-Rodrigo y Gabriel1a

If for some reason you don’t know who these two powerhouse guitarists are, go to their website, My Space, You Tube…Conan O’Brian…anywhere, and check them out.
This album is tremendous. Each song on the CD is dedicated to the guitar style of someone who inspired them in the past. It is a mighty project. “Buster Voodoo” is sweet and was performed on The Tonight Show a few days back. It was inspired by the genius that was Jimi Hendrix, probably the greatest guitarist that has ever lived. Their humble dedication continues with songs inspired by composers like Jorge Reyes to John McLaughlin, to Pink Floyd. “Hanuman” is a strong favorite, and gives kudos to Carlos Santana, one of Falcon’s personal favorites for its inspiration.

1 – ‘Hanuman’ – inspired by Carlos Santana
2 – ‘Buster Voodoo’ – inspired by Jimi Hendrix
3 – ‘Triveni’ – inspired by Israeli Oud three-piece Le Trio Joubran
4 – ‘Logos’ – inspired by jazz-rock master Al Di Meola

6 – ‘Master Maqui’ – inspired by Spanish guitar legend Paco De Lucia
7 – ‘Savitri’ – inspired by John McLaughlin and Zakir Hussian’s ground breaking 1970’s world fusion ensemble Shakti
8 – ‘Hora Zero’ – inspired by Argentine tango composer and bandoneon virtuoso Astor Piazzola
9 – ‘Chac Mool’ – inspired by Jorge Reyes, the Mexican composer who
10 – ‘Atman’ – inspired by Dimebag Darrell, never to be forgotten lead guitarist in Pantera and Damageplan, who was tragically murdered onstage in 2004.
11 – ’11:11’ – inspired by Pink Floyd.

Peter Janson: Compass Rose

Beautiful, powerful, melodic and sensual, Compass Rose is one of my favorite releases of the year. This project is up for Grammy consideration, as well it should be-Peter demonstrates why he is one of the most articulate and influential acoustic guitarists of our time with a CD that has modern influences with classical approaches, contemporary work with Celtic teeth and powerful imagery. He is a joy to see live on his Tippin Guitars. One my favorite tracks is “Sligo Creek” which holds a local point of affection, as there is a Sligo in Pennsylvania; this work has that green, lush mountain feel that you would sense here or in stringed soul and easygoing rhythms that are infused with a transportable flair. Want to hear some? Check out his website:

Beecake: Soul Swimming

Glorious Scottish roots, extremely strong songwriting, and the beautiful tenor of Billy Boyd (yes, Pippin from “The Lord of the Rings”, also in “Trainspotting” among other Glaswegian films). What more could you ask for? “Soul Swimming”, the title track of the new Beecake project (the long wait is over) is a powerful combination of melodies and styles. The band is solid as are the tunes. There isn’t a weak song on the CD. What kind of style, you ask? Well, it’s mixed. If you enjoy the music of The Beatles, Alan Parsons Project, early Genesis, and even some edgy stuff like LIVE, Nine Inch Nails, and Pearl Jam, you will probably love this CD. Boyd wrote every song (and co-wrote “Radio” with bassist Rick Martin), and it shows his range not only vocally, which is outstanding, but also his thematic attractions.

Falcon’s personal favorites include the Alan Parson-esque “Lost Direction” including Billy on harmonica, the profoundly brash and stinging “Radio” that questions the capitalist culture, and my favorite, “This is Not an Exit”, a pro-environment, anti-stupid, introspective examination of what makes us collectively queasy. “Rip It Up” has some of the strongest vocal stylizations on the project, there’s a little Dean Martin on the track “Friends and Lovers” and “Boy” may be in the top ten for most emotional songs ever written, examining a parent’s emotional turmoil after their adult child dies in war.

There are videos on You Tube of Beecake and on My Space:

Beecake is wonderful to see live. I was extremely lucky to see them at Tin Angel in Philadelphia, (where I got some lovely birthday gifts) a fantastic venue with yummy food (especially the tuna!). I have to say that I am working my way through their menu, and although half-way there, I have many more dinners to enjoy and awhile before I can get through their wonderful offerings.

No Look Escape

This band out of southern California has some strong chops in the Alternative Rock genre. The self titled project has some nice tunes with varied instrumental approaches and great vocals. Charlie has a clear, sincere voice, nice range, clean delivery. My favorite song from this project is “I’ll Be There” which has some serious R&B kinda Rockabilly thing going there. “Stand” is a stokin’ rock affirmation that will get you moving; check out the melodic “Home” a modern ballad with a classic feel. This project is available on iTunes.
Check them out on My Space:

I have not had the honor of seeing this group live, but would love to in the near future.

What I am getting in the next few weeks:

A couple of new CD’s and some classics:

Lita Ford-Wicked Wonderland
Cliudan-The Fair
Brother-the first CD “Pipe Dreams” is now available for download. This project has some brilliant songs, including their exceptional version of “Amazing Grace”.

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Pittsburgh Selected as United Nations World Environment Day Host City

Hello World Family,
What a busy day it has been! Here's one more announcement in the environmental/green news category-get ready Pittsburgh; we are the North American host:


World Environment Day was established by the United Nations General Assembly in 1972 at the Stockholm Conference on the Human Environment. Another resolution, adopted by the General Assembly the same day, led to the creation of the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP).

Commemorated each year on June 5, World Environment Day is one of the principal vehicles through which the United Nations stimulates worldwide awareness of the environment and enhances political attention and action. With thousands of events in UNEP's six global regions, namely, North America, Latin America and the Caribbean, Africa, Asia and the Pacific, West Asia and Europe, World Environment Day is considered one of the largest environmental events of its kind.
Since 1972, 36 World Environment Day celebrations have been held around the globe. World Environment Day 2010 in Pittsburgh will mark the 37th annual celebration.
Word Environment Day is designed to:
• give a human face to environmental issues;
• empower people to become active agents of sustainable and equitable development;
• promote an understanding that communities are pivotal to changing attitudes towards environmental issues; and
• advocate partnership which will ensure all nations and peoples enjoy a safer and more prosperous future.

On World Environment Day, heads of State, Prime Ministers and Ministers of Environment deliver statements and commit themselves to care for the Earth. Pledges are made which lead to the establishment of permanent governmental structures dealing with environmental management. It also provides an opportunity to sign or ratify international environmental conventions.
But World Environment Day also is a people's event. People around the globe celebrate with colorful activities such as street rallies, city-wide walks, scientific forums, bicycle parades, green concerts, essays and poster competitions in schools, tree plantings, as well as recycling and clean-up campaigns.

NOTE: This event really runs from Earth Day (April 22) through June 5 with the highlight week beginning May 31. The Bayer CAUSE Challenge Film Festival, sponsored by the Carnegie Science Center, Pittsburgh Filmmakers and Bayer Corporation will be held at the the Science Center Stage on April 22 as part of this effort. More information will follow as we are given updates.

This is good stuff, world family! We hope we get to see some of you here in Pittsburgh in April!

Falcon and Dove

Live Earth Announces 2010 Global Event-Water is the Word

Hello World Family,
Wow-what a busy day! First the EPA report, and then the GAO announcement right behind it (see previous blog for all the details) and now this just arrived in our box!

As Falcon has said before, water is currency; it's the only one that really matters. Without it, we don't have a world we can inhabit.

We were planning on doing some major posts on water issues in the coming months anyway, but this really puts the exclamation point on it. Some of the things we will be talking about may be controvertial to some, but it is a conversation that must be had-because we all need to pay attention to our water.
Falcon and Dove

Live Earth Announces 2010 Global Event!

Live Earth is pleased to announce the largest worldwide water initiative in history to help combat the global water crisis. The Dow Live Earth Run for Water - to take place April 18, 2010 - will consist of a series of 6 km run/walks (the average distance many women and children walk every day to secure water) taking place over the course of 24 hours in countries around the world, featuring concerts and water education activities, raising awareness and funds to help solve the water crisis. Jessica Biel, Alexandra Cousteau, Pete Wentz, Angelique Kidjo and Jenny Fletcher will lend their names and their time in support of this global event.

Why Water?

Water scarcity is a a major issue affecting countries, communities and families all over the world. One in eight people don't have access to safe, clean drinking water. Communities in Africa, Latin America and Asia suffer 1.8 million deaths every year from diarrheal diseases and the death of 5,000 children each day due to inadequate water infrastructure. In these areas, women and children are forced to walk 6 km (3.7 miles) each day to secure water that is likely unsuitable for drinking. However, the water crisis is not only limited to developing nations. Adding to these existing issues, the affects of climate change are increasingly impacting both supply and quality of available fresh water throughout the world - shifting traditional rainfall patterns, altering water-shaping ecosystems and magnifying the effects of pollution.
In 60% of European cities with populations greater than 100,000, groundwater is being used faster than it can be replenished. By 2025, two-thirds of the world's population could be living under water-stressed conditions.

Falcon's note: it certain industry practices are allowed to prevail in certain places, that could happen a whole lot sooner. More on that later...


Hello World Family,
Here's some interesting news from the EPA. Check out today's press release.
Falcon and Dove

Deb Berlin

October 15, 2009

EPA Administrator Announces Plan to Retool and Reinvigorate Clean Water Enforcement Program

WASHINGTON - The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Lisa P. Jackson announced today at a House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee hearing that the agency is stepping up its efforts on Clean Water Act enforcement. The Clean Water Action Enforcement Plan is a first step in revamping the compliance and enforcement program. It seeks to improve the protection of our nation’s water quality, raise the bar in federal and state performance and enhance public transparency.

“The safety of the water that we use in our homes -- the water we drink and give to our children -- is of paramount importance to our health and our environment. Having clean and safe water in our communities is a right that should be guaranteed for all Americans,” said Administrator Jackson. “Updating our efforts under the Clean Water Act will promote innovative solutions for 21st century water challenges, build stronger ties between EPA, state, and local actions, and provide the transparency the public rightfully expects.”

The plan announced today outlines how the agency will strengthen the way it addresses the water pollution challenges of this century. These challenges include pollution caused by numerous, dispersed sources, such as concentrated animal feeding operations, sewer overflows, contaminated water that flows from industrial facilities, construction sites, and runoff from urban streets.

The goals of the plan are to target enforcement to the most significant pollution problems, improve transparency and accountability by providing the public with access to better data on the water quality in their communities, and strengthen enforcement performance at the state and federal levels. Elements of the plan include the following:

· Develop more comprehensive approaches to ensure enforcement is targeted to the most serious violations and the most significant sources of pollution.

· Work with states to ensure greater consistency throughout the country with respect to compliance and water quality. Ensure that states are issuing protective permits and taking enforcement to achieve compliance and remove economic incentives to violate the law.

· Use 21st century information technology to collect, analyze and use information in new, more efficient ways and to make that information readily accessible to the public. Better tools will help federal and state regulators identify serious compliance problems quickly and take prompt actions to correct them.

Last July, Administrator Jackson directed EPA’s Office of Enforcement and Compliance Assurance to develop the plan in response to data showing that the nation’s water quality is unacceptably low in many parts of the country.

More information on the plan: http://www.epa.gov/compliance/civil/cwa/cwaenfplan.html


Longstanding Issues Impact EPA’s and States’ Enforcement Efforts

What the GAO Found

In 2000, GAO found variations among EPA’s regional offices in the actions they take to enforce environmental requirements. For example, the regions varied in the inspection coverage of facilities discharging pollutants, the number and type of enforcement actions taken, and the size of the penalties assessed and the criteria used in determining penalties. GAO also found that variations in the regions’ strategies for overseeing state programs may have resulted in more in-depth reviews in some regional programs than in others. Several factors contributed to these variations including differences in the philosophical approaches among enforcement staff about how best to achieve compliance with environmental requirements, differences in state laws and enforcement authorities and how the regions respond to these differences, variations in resources available to state and regional offices, the flexibility afforded by EPA policies and guidance that allow latitude in state enforcement programs, and incomplete and inadequate enforcement data that hampered EPA’s ability to accurately characterize the extent of variations. In 2007, GAO reported improvements in EPA’s oversight of state enforcement activities with the implementation of a state review framework. However, while this framework helped identify several weaknesses in state programs, the agency had not developed a plan for how it would uniformly address these weaknesses or identify the root causes of these weaknesses.

In 2005, GAO reported that the scope of EPA’s responsibilities under the Clean Water Act along with workload associated with implementing and enforcing the act’s requirements had increased significantly. At the same time, EPA had authorized states to take on more responsibilities, shifting the agency’s workload from direct implementation to oversight. In 2007, GAO reported that while overall funding for enforcement activities had increased from $288 million in fiscal year 1997 to $322 million in fiscal year 2006, resources had not kept pace with inflation or the increased responsibilities. Both EPA and state officials told GAO that they found it difficult to respond to new requirements while carrying out previous responsibilities and regional offices had reduced enforcement staff by about 5 percent. In 2005, GAO also reported that EPA’s process for budgeting and allocating resources did not fully consider the agency’s workload, either for specific statutory requirements such as those included in the Clean Water Act or the broader goals and objectives in the agency’s strategic plan. Any efforts made by the agency to develop a more systematic process would be hampered by the lack of comprehensive and accurate workload data.

In 2007, GAO reported that EPA had made substantial progress in improving priority setting and enforcement planning with states through its system for setting national enforcement priorities and this had fostered a more cooperative relationship with the states. Finally, in 2008, GAO reported that EPA could improve the accuracy and transparency of some of the measures that it uses to assess and report on the effectiveness of its civil and criminal enforcement programs. GAO identified shortcomings in how EPA calculates and reports these data that may prevent the agency from providing Congress and the public with a fair assessment of the programs.

Congress enacted the Clean Water Act to help reduce water pollution and improve the health of the nation’s waterways. The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) administers its enforcement responsibilities under the act through its Office of Enforcement and Compliance Assurance (OECA), as well as its 10 regional offices and the states.

Over the last 9 years, GAO has undertaken a number of reviews of EPA’s environmental enforcement activities, including for the Clean Water Act. For this testimony statement, GAO was asked to summarize the results of five prior reports on the effectiveness of EPA’s enforcement program. Specifically, this statement includes information on the (1) factors that cause variations in enforcement activities and lead to inconsistencies across regions, (2) impact that inadequate resources and work force planning has had on enforcement, (3) efforts EPA has taken to improve priority planning, and (4) accuracy and transparency of measures of program effectiveness.

GAO’s prior recommendations have included the need for EPA to collect more complete and reliable data, develop improved guidance, and better performance measures. Although EPA has generally agreed with these recommendations, its implementation has been uneven. GAO is not making new recommendations in this statement.

Sunday, October 11, 2009

Golf and Rugby Sevens approved for 2016 Olympics

Hey World Family,
Get got back in town, and people are filling our email and various social networks with questions about this Olympic announcement. Here is official word courtesy of the USGA site:

Golf Approved for 2016 Olympic Program On Vote By International Olympic Committee Membership

Competition will be held in Rio de Janeiro, selected as site of 2016 Games

Copenhagen, Denmark (October 9, 2009) – After an absence of more than a century, golf will return as an Olympic sport in 2016 and 2020 along with rugby sevens following their approval by the International Olympic Committee membership during the IOC’s 121st Session.

Golf was approved 63-27 with two abstentions. Rugby was voted in 81-8 with one abstention.

They will be part of the Olympic Program in Rio de Janeiro, which last week was selected as the host city for the 2016 Games by the IOC. Golf was last an Olympic sport at the 1904 Games in St. Louis, Mo., when the United States and Canada were the only two competing countries.

“We are elated that the IOC membership has accepted golf as an Olympic sport, and look forward to seeing the world’s best golfers compete for gold at the 2016 Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro,” said Ty Votaw, Executive Director of the International Golf Federation Olympic Golf Committee, which has coordinated golf’s Olympic bid. “We thank the IOC for its support, and also congratulate rugby sevens for its inclusion in the 2016 Games.”

Votaw and Peter Dawson, chief executive of The R&A and joint secretary of the International Golf Federation, were accompanied by professionals Padraig Harrington of Ireland, Michelle Wie of the United States and Suzann Pettersen of Norway, as well as 16-year-old (British) Amateur Champion Matteo Manassero of Italy, for a final presentation to the IOC prior to the vote.

“We are extremely grateful that Padraig, Michelle, Suzann and Matteo were able to join us to help communicate the genuine interest world-class players of all ages share in golf becoming an Olympic sport,” Dawson said.

Golf and rugby sevens were recommended for the Olympic Program by the IOC Executive Board in August following an extensive review process involving seven sports that were vying to be added to the 2016 Olympic Games. Although they emerged as the finalists, both sports still required final approval Friday by a majority of votes cast by the members of the IOC.

“In addition to those golfers who will have an opportunity to compete as Olympic athletes, we are excited for the national golf federations that will reap the benefits from today’s decision in terms of growth and support within their countries,” Dawson said. “This is a very significant day for golf.”

Leading up to Friday’s final vote, golf and rugby sevens emerged from a year-long evaluation that included formal presentations by the seven sports, the submission of a Detailed Questionnaire and responses to questions raised by both the IOC Programme Commission and the IOC Executive Board. The IOC Executive Board announced its recommendation of two sports following a meeting in Berlin, Germany on Aug. 13.

“We strongly believed that golf deserved to be added to the Olympic Program and felt that we presented a compelling case to the IOC,” Votaw said. “We have received unprecedented support from international golf organizations throughout this process, as well as from the world’s top-ranked men and women players, which was critical to our success. We also stressed the universal nature of golf, with 60 million people playing the sport in more than 120 countries.”

Based on player feedback, the IGF has proposed a format of 72-hole individual stroke play for both men and women. In case of a tie for either first, second or third place, a three-hole playoff is recommended to determine the medal winner(s).

The IGF also has recommended an Olympic field of 60 players for each of the men's and women's competition, using the Official World Golf Rankings as a method of determining eligibility. The top-15 world-ranked players would be eligible for the Olympics, regardless of the number of players from a given country. Beyond the top 15, players would be eligible based on the world rankings, with a maximum of two eligible players from each country that does not already have two or more players among the top 15.

Current world rankings from both the men’s and women’s games show that at least 30 countries would be represented in both the men’s and women’s competitions, from all continents, under this proposal