The Des Moines Register from Des Moines, Iowa on June 6, 2009 · Page 18
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The Des Moines Register from Des Moines, Iowa · Page 18

Des Moines, Iowa
Issue Date:
Saturday, June 6, 2009
Page 18
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Saturday, June 6, 20C9 Page19A Voices&Commentary Read more Register columnists and reader blogs at DesMoinesRegisterxomopinion. Iowa View Young adults have power to shape future The Des Moines Register State Edition As a young adult at this juncture in our state and country, I can speak for my generation that our situation is not an easy one. Jobs are scarce, our experience is limited and we are inheriting some of the greatest problems our nation has ever faced. However, I believe there's no better time than now for young adults to help better their communities by becoming active in their local and state governments. In this call to serve, I especially appeal to those who are currently under-represented in the political system. When I look at the lineup of our current elected leaders, I can't help but think, "It's 2009. Why are there so few women in politics?" At a time when women are setting the curve in higher education and achievement, u H Chavez proudly wears dictator title JOEL BRINKLEY is a former foreign correspondent for the New York Times and now a professor of journalism at Stanford University. Contact: Just as oil-rich Venezuela sinks deeper into debt, Hugo Chavez, its flamboyant and megalomaniacal president, has crossed the line and can now quite accurately be called a dictator. A rush of new orders and decrees in recent days is silencing critics, neutering political opponents, shutting down the last of Venezuela's independent media and purging the military of all but the most sycophantic officers. In Egypt last week, opposition politician Ayman Nour, just out of prison, announced that he would run for president again. As he left home the very next day, a man waiting for him on a motorcycle threw a fire bomb in his face. We had nothing to do with it, the government averred. Chavez is not usually so violent, but he can be just as blatant. Last week his government announced that it would file charges against Guillermo Zuloaga, who owns Globovision, the nation's last standing independent television station. A week earlier, Chavez attacked Globovision, saying it had slandered one of his ministers. "We cannot allow for the bourgeoisie, driven mad by hatred, to continue shooting a machine gun every day against the morals of the people," he said. "They have to pay that with jail." A few days later came the court charge. What law had Zuloaga violated? He owns a car dealership and is storing some of the unsold vehicles at his home. Police "raided" his home and said they found 24 Toyotas on the property. Zuloaga explained that he was keeping the cars there because one of his dealerships had been robbed. CNN reported later this week that Zuloaga also had been charged with usury. I am not an expert on Venezuelan law. But Zuloaga owns the dealerships, which includes the cars for sale. What business is it of the government where he keeps them? You know someone has become an unrepentant dictator when he can drum up a charge like that and keep a straight face. There's more. Much more. Chavez is pulling books off public library shelves that do not comport with his socialist goals - 60,000 of them, the Miami Herald reported. ?-p"" ALISON JEPSEN is t( W l a recent graduate of & -ti ' Simpson College in k j lndian Vi , Cnnicl Indianola from Durant, with a degree in English and minors in Spanish and journalism and mass communications. She participated in the 2008 University of Iowa Women's Resource and Action Center N.E.W. Leadership Program. For more information, see www.uiowa.eduwrac lowaNEWLeadership.htm. Contact: very few are compelled to take the initiative to run for public office. Why do so many capable, young women consider themselves unfit to lead? Whether they feel dismayed because of too little government experience or too few female political , i i . A I V I ,'! , f m 1 tf Hugo Chavez recently delivering a Meantime, last week the government began distributing more than 2 million free books nationwide including "Social Movements in the 21st Century" and "Empire's Spider Web," an unflattering appraisal of U.S. foreign policy. Undeterred, Chavez is following through on his threat to undermine elected regional governors from competing political parties. He is creating new administrative positions in those regions and handing off the governors' powers to his own bureaucrats. Chavez proposes to call these people . "vice presidents." Chavez has been on a gradual authoritarian path for many years. But until recently, much of his destructive energy has been focused abroad. He has used Venezuelan oil money to bestow gifts upon poor people in neighboring countries even in the United States. But with oil prices down by more than 50 percent over a year ago, and the world's economy in re- role models, it is time to change this attitude. This is where the University of Iowa Women's Resource and Action Center's National Education for Women's (N.E.W.) Leadership comes in. I attended the first Iowa N.E.W. Leadership conference last year, soon after my college graduation. I came into the program unsure of what to expect, but I left with advanced leadership skills, a more thorough knowledge of the campaign and political system and, best of all, a network of undergraduate women like me who were motivated to work for change they believed in. During the five days of the conference, my classmates and I were surprised to discover that, rather than being groomed to be the perfect politicians, we were ASSOCIATED PRESS speech in Caracas. cession, Chavez can no longer afford his foreign policy. By one reliable accounting, his "foreign aid" spending will drop by more than 90 percent this year. What's a dictator to do? Nationalize companies. Make their income your own. Last week, the government seized control of a pasta factory owned by Cargill, the American food conglomerate. As the excuse, the government claimed that the plant was producing the wrong kind of pasta. Through all this, paradoxically, Chavez is falling deeper into debt. That must be galling for the former oil billionaire. A few days ago, Brazil agreed to lend Venezuela $4.3 billion for infrastructure projects. Fudging a bit, Chavez said he was creating a "joint, multi-billion dollar fund with Brazil." But if there's any doubt that it was simply a loan, it comes on top of several earlier loans, including $8 billion from China and $3.5 billion from Japan. Oh, how far the mighty can fall. learning to present ourselves to the public in such a way that our ideas could be heard, respected and used to create change. In this way, Iowa N.E.W. Leadership not only made becoming public leaders a more viable option for my classmates and me, but helped us realize our responsibility to fill those roles as soon as possible. Since Iowa N.E.W Leadership, I have become even more active in my community and am less afraid to contact my legislators and speak my opinion on the issues I care about. I recently worked as publicity chair on behalf of the Iowa Coalition Against Domestic Violence's annual "It's About Time" event. And I plan to continue as an advocate for women's issues as an elected official. My experience with Iowa N.E.W. Leadership Obama plan to entomb carbon should be buried President Obama should be applauded for taking climate change seriously, recognizing that the phenomenon can be traced to the burning of fossil fuels and intensifying the search for viable , solutions. In one of its centerpiece initiatives, however, the administration may be digging a very expensive dry hole. I mean that literally. The plan is to meet ambitious targets for limiting emissions of carbon dioxide and other "greenhouse" gases through development and widespread use of an unproven technology known as prepare for your eyes to glaze over carbon capture and storage. That clunky phrase has a simple meaning: Siphon off the carbon dioxide from the smokestacks of power plants, before the stuff has a chance to warm the atmosphere, and pump it deep underground where it can be entombed forever. Theoretically. This idea is fundamental to the "clean coal" initiative that Obama and many in Congress tout so enthusiastically. About half the electricity consumed in this country is produced in coal-fired power plants which is not surprising, given that the supply is so abundant that the United States has been called "the Saudi Arabia of coal." Power plants fueled by natural gas release less carbon dioxide but natural gas is more expensive. Nuclear power plants release no carbon dioxide at all but there's the problem of what to do with the nuclear waste. It's no surprise that the climate change policy being developed by the White House and Congress assumes that coal responsible for 36 percent of U.S. carbon dioxide emissions, according to the Department of Energy will continue to play a dominant role in keeping the lights on and the air conditioners humming. "This is America we figured out how to put a man on the moon in 10 years," Obama said last year during the campaign. "You can't tell me we can't figure out how to burn coal that we mine right here in the United States of America and make it work." Maybe, maybe not. It is indeed feasible to capture the carbon produced by coal-burning power plants and bury it. But it is expensive a power plant capable of carbon capture would cost up to 50 percent more to build than a conventional plant, and that doesn't take into account the cost of the massive infrastructure has made me hopeful for a positive change in politics, and I hope the conference will continue to encourage more women to hold public office in the near future. Young adults across Iowa, women and men, should not be afraid to speak up for their communities and their state, and be the change they wish to see here. It is easy to say that our time has not yet come to be leaders, but if we don't accept this responsibility now, when will we? Youth is not something that should encumber us, but something that should empower us. We have the knowledge, and we have the time. We are Iowa's best chance to have long-term leaders who will guide our state and our nation to a better future. EUGENE ROBINSON " 1 writes for the Uirkintrtn i " i Post. Contact: k jLi eugenerobinson needed to transport the carbon to storage sites and pump it underground. And would the stuff stay down there? The whole point of the exercise, remember, would be to keep the carbon dioxide from getting into the atmosphere, where it would contribute to climate change. The idea is to confine it in specific types of geological formations that would contain it indefinitely. But scientists acknowledge that they can't be absolutely certain that the carbon dioxide will never migrate. Scientists and engineers will have to prove that the possibility of a sudden, catastrophic carbon dioxide release from a storage site is exceedingly remote. I say "catastrophic" because carbon dioxide is heavier than air, and a ground-hugging cloud would suffocate anyone it enveloped. That is what happened in Cameroon in 1986, when naturally occurring carbon dioxide trapped at the bottom of Lake Nyos erupted and killed 1,746 people in nearby villages. Perhaps more difficult will be proving that the carbon won't seep.out slowly. There would be no health risk from a gradual escape, but we'd have gone to great trouble and expense, and the carbon dioxide would have made its way into the atmosphere after all. Meanwhile, hydrologists are worried that the buried carbon dioxide mixed with other pollutants produced by the burning of coal could migrate in unforeseen ways and contaminate sources of groundwater. It may be possible to answer all these concerns, but there's a larger question: Is this really a good idea? Is this the legacy we want to leave to future generations thousands of sites, labeled "off-limits," where we've deposited the harmful residue of our toxic addiction to fossil fuels? The Obama administration is spending $2.4 billion from the stimulus package on carbon capture and storage projects a mere down payment. Imagine what that money could do if it were spent on solar, wind and other renewable energy sources. Imagine if we actually tried to solve the problem rather than bury it. v " . n . .' ' t " 0 0

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