Joanne and Jim Haseltine in 2010. The Haseltines are replacing the drywall in their River Wilderness home at their own expense, because their builder has refused to do anything about the problem. / PHOTO: MIKE LANG FOR SARASOTA HERALD-TRIBUNE.
WASHINGTON – For nearly four years, victims of contaminated Chinese-made drywall have sought help from the federal government to solve a problem that has wreaked havoc in thousands of homes across the country.
On Monday, President Barack Obama signed a new law aimed at the tainted drywall. The law, passed in the waning hours of the 112th Congress, seeks to implement standards to prevent future problems with bad drywall.
But a 100Reporters review of the legislation shows that the law is unlikely to provide relief to current and potential victims of contaminated drywall. It does little to prevent the sale of tainted homes to unsuspecting buyers. Absent from the law are meaningful standards to insure that new drywall – both imported and domestically produced – does not release potentially hazardous levels of sulfur gases. [Full Article]
Capuchin monkey at federal government-run triage center in Salvador, Bahia will never be able to return to its native habitat after being blinded in one eye. Photos by William Finn Bennett.
At daybreak, in the northeastern Brazilian city of Feira de Santana, Bahia, a street market was awash in brilliant colors and the cacaphony of birdsong. Among the weathered plywood shacks and all along the dusty roadside, hundreds of wild birds, many of them designated as rare and threatened species, were on open display, caged and ready for sale. Vendors touted their latest catches as they haggled with customers over prices.
A few months earlier, the local police had raided the same fair, arresting two men and seizing more than 200 wild birds. Now, the market was back in full swing.
The country’s laxness in cracking down on such crimes reflects a culture of impunity that fuels the loss of millions of animals each year, while reaping criminals hundreds of millions of dollars in illicit profits, governmental and non-governmental organization officials say.
Government records obtained under Brazil´s recently-approved “Access to Information Law” show that between 2005 and 2010 the country´s environmental protection agency issued nearly US$314 million in fines for crimes against fauna.
Big numbers — if only offenders would pay what they owe. During the same period, the agency received the equivalent of less than 2 percent of that amount in fines paid.