Natasha Hunter

Natasha Hunter is a former American Prospect writing fellow.

Recent Articles

Better Living Through Fudbol

W hen I arrived in Sarajevo, the capital of Bosnia and Herzegovina, last August, everyone was buzzing about the upcoming soccer match between local club Zeljeznicar and the British team Newcastle United. No one really expected the Bosnians to win, but people in Sarajevo were doing a lot of shrugging and head shaking and making, "It ain't over 'til it's over" comments. Zeljeznicar -- or Zeljo, as the team is called affectionately -- had just beaten the Icelandic team and the Norwegians, and who was to say that they couldn't -- maybe -- beat those tea bags? This was as far as Zeljo had climbed in the European Champions League since becoming an independent nation, and with the chance to show the world a civic normality still rare in Bosnia, more than sporting hopes were pinned on it. On the evening of the match, the 200 or so Newcastle fans, who had been roaming the streets challenging adolescent boys to soccer contests ("Oon ma foot, throo it oon ma foot! Ach, if ye'd a throon it oon ma...

The Props and the People

T hree anarchists are putting the finishing touches on two effigies stuffed with newspapers and wearing suits and ties when a cheer goes up from the motley crowd gathered on the south side of the Washington Monument. The Sept. 28 anti-globalization march on Washington has begun, but the flammable CEOs aren't ready yet. The trio's compatriots, wearing black kerchiefs over their mouths and waving black and red anarchy flags, start off at a gentle saunter. "Should we just ditch this one?" one anarchist asks nervously. It isn't hanging together. "No, bring it along," replies a fellow creator, an older, calmer hippie type. "We just need some more duct tape." The tourists in line for the Washington Monument are facing carefully away from the ragtag group chanting and drumming behind them, as though a mere glance in their direction might invite arrest. Two heavily made-up blond women stand between the line and the protesters, surveying the scene doubtfully. "Should we just wait?" one asks. "...

It's Clear Skies for Dirty Air

W hen the Environmental Protection Agency launched its highly publicized Acid Rain Program in the early 1990s to cut sulfur-dioxide emissions, environmentalists were skeptical. The Clean Air Act amendments of 1990 introduced a nationwide emissions-trading system: Factories and utilities whose emissions were cleaner than the law required could sell their "excess" to dirty plants. Over time, the law required progressively lower emissions levels. The trading system rewarded clean plants, punished dirty ones by compelling them either to clean their emissions or to buy pollution rights from clean plants, and thus created an incentive for all plants to invest in new, clean technology. At first, greens were repulsed by the very idea of marketing the right to pollute. One environmentalist commented, "What's next, the L.A. Police Department trying to buy civil-rights credits from Wisconsin?" But more than a decade later, having seen sulfur dioxide cut by millions of tons and some of the worst-...

Setting the Price on Breathing:

A s the brawl rages between the administration and environmentalists over the recently announced changes to the New Source Review (NSR) provision of the Clean Air Act, one should keep an eye on the stakes. It's easy to lose your way in the technical mumbo jumbo of terms like "retrofitting," "actual emissions baseline," and "PALs," to say nothing of what constitutes "routine maintenance." But in the end, it's the same old battle greens and industry types have been fighting for decades: a zero-sum match pitting revenue against public health. Here, in brief, is how NSR works. Under the Clean Air Act of 1970 , existing power companies were temporarily grandfathered -- i.e., given permission to keep operating without installing modern pollution controls. If those plants made major modifications, however, they would be considered "new sources" of pollution and forced to meet current air quality standards. But major power companies modified -- some would argue rebuilt -- their plants while...

PCBs All Over Again:

A n industrial chemical is collecting inside you. It gathers in your fat, accumulating year after year. You can't avoid absorbing it: The substance is all around you -- in your computer, your TV, your sofa, your rugs, your walls, your car, and the container you'll heat your lunch in. It's there, and almost everywhere else -- in seals, fish, birds, air, soil. No one knows what route it takes to get inside you. And no one knows exactly what it does, but scientists have linked it to thyroid imbalances and learning disabilities. "Surely," you may be saying to yourself, "the government must be at least monitoring such a threat." But it's not. Poly bromo diphenyl ethers (PBDEs) are flame retardants added to furniture foam, electronics, and plastics. While their makers insist that the chemicals protect people from deadly fires, researchers are becoming more and more anxious about the data they see on these thus far unregulated chemicals. PBDEs seem to fall into the category of " persistent...

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