Greener Times

Promoting a sustainable society…one day at a time.

GT for January 5 – 11

Posted by Trey Smith on January 4, 2009

Greener Times for the Week of January 5 – 11

Volume 3 No. 38

an e-publication for Greens anywhere and everywhere

Trey Smith – Publisher/Editor
Tom Herring, Duff Badgley & Maryrose Asher – Columnists

In This Week’s Issue
* Temporary Free Speech Win Over Seattle’s March Ordinance
* It’s Time for a Deep Green Vision for the United States and World
* On Gaza
* Thoughts By the Way: Happy Neo Year
* Our Climate Crisis: Cynthia McKinney Versus Israel
* This Week in History
* Letters to the Editor — I’ve Left the Left
* Pencil Shavings: Bowser Blues
* News You May Have Missed

Temporary Free Speech Win Over Seattle’s March Ordinance
Greens and Others;
I’m forwarding this really good news from the October 22nd Coalition about our right to protest in the streets of Seattle. And this should also apply to other cities. We owe thanks to the Oct 22 Coalition for this.
~ Marjorie ~

On Friday, December 12, a ruling was issued by the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 9th Circuit in the October 22nd Coalition Seattle affiliate’s lawsuit, with representation through the ACLU of Washington, challenging the constitutionality of the City of Seattle’s Parade and Special Events Ordinances in response to the Seattle Police rescinding “on the spot” our previously-valid permit to march in the streets on October 22, 2003.

In a victory for free speech, the Appeals Court ruled that the City of Seattle’s Parade Ordinance “vests the Seattle chief of police with sweeping authority to determine whether or not a parade may utilize the forum of the streets to broadcast its message. The First Amendment prohibits placing such unfettered discretion in the hands of licensing officials and renders the parade ordinance constitutionally defective on its face.” This decision overturns that of District Court Judge Robert Lasnik, who on March 13, 2006 ruled the ordinance was constitutional but conceded it was likely applied against us in an unconstitutional manner, which led to a settlement on the “as applied” portion of our lawsuit.

The Appeals Court’s ruling means that the City of Seattle currently has no legal basis for requiring groups to obtain permits for free speech/ assembly events, although past rulings mean they can place “reasonable” (a term obviously open to interpretation) time/place/manner restrictions on such events. This should be celebrated as an important victory by everyone committed to bringing about justice for any cause. Throughout the history of this country, positive change has more frequently been effected by “street heat” than by other methods; those opposed to such change have tried various methods to discourage effective protest, and requiring organizers to obtain permits is a relatively recent method.

However, we must caution that this is only a temporary victory, since the City of Seattle is very likely to respond unfavorably. One option for them is to appeal this ruling to either the “full” (11-judge instead of 3-judge) Appeals Court or even the U.S. Supreme Court, and seek an injunction to keep the current ordinance valid during appeal. Another option is for them to attempt to enact a new ordinance that meets the Appeals Court’s standards for constitutionality while being even more restrictive than the previous ordinance; given the current make-up of the Seattle City Council, that must be considered a strong possibility. The latter option would likely invite further lawsuits, buying the City of Seattle some time and draining activists’ time and resources, but would have to be balanced against the expense and “legitimacy costs” to the City of Seattle.

Note that the October 22nd Coalition Seattle affiliate expressly rejects any inference that a proposed new parade ordinance has been negotiated between us and the City of Seattle, that new restrictions on our free speech rights have received an activist “stamp of approval”. We would prefer as simple an ordinance as possible, in which the police role is to accommodate organizers’ plans. But we firmly believe that, if a new parade ordinance is proposed, its language should be determined by as open and public a process as possible.

And this is where you come in: we need to encourage as many people as possible to pay attention to this case, to be ready to respond to any attempts by the City of Seattle to reimpose or increase restrictions on our free speech rights. We thus> encourage you to forward information about this case to many other email lists and activists, and to respond to requests for action. If you would like an electronic copy of the ruling (a 1.8Mb PDF file), email us. Appeals Court case no. 06-35597 District Court case no. 04-0860L

It’s Time for a Deep Green Vision for the United States and World
by Kim Scipes

The Green movement around the world has presented a myriad of ideas and projects, each suggesting the way forward to a Green society. However, because there is no overarching vision, we have moved in this direction and that, stumbling from one good idea to another, but never in a coordinated, determined fashion toward an overarching goal that could unify people around the world in a common project.

In the meantime, however, those opposed to Green solutions have been able to dismiss many, if not most, of our ideas because of their inconsistency. It’s not like they would accept our positions if they were consistent – it’s not that simple – but because our vision is a direct threat to their perceived interests they do not want to have to deal with the environmental movement. And as long as we do not force them to deal with our ideas, they won’t.

Thus, we in some ways have become our own worst enemies, having our opponents on the run intellectually, but unable to “close the deal.” It’s time to project a vision that is realistic, but is bold in its reach.

How can we do this? Are there any standards that we must advance that are bottom-line requirements? And even after we offer some standards, how can we move forward?

Three interrelated criteria

I think there are three interrelated requirements that any Deep Green vision must put forth. First, it must have a global focus: we are part of a globalizing world, this globalization is intensifying, and thus any solution advanced must have a global perspective; thus we must be pro-globalization, not anti-globalization.

At the same time, however, we must recognize that “globalization” has two aspects, not just one as the media present. One aspect is top-down, corporate globalization, whose purpose is only to ensure that multinational corporations have unimpeded access to the entire planet, regardless of the consequences to and effects upon people and the environment. It is this limited and detrimental approach that is presented as “globalization” in the corporate media.

Yet, there is another aspect: it is the bottom-up, grassroots globalization of women and men around the world, who are seeking another world, a better world, that is based on ecological and economic sustainability. It is this grassroots globalization, the global social and economic justice movement, that is fighting the values and the future of corporate globalization. Thus, the very values of the two different aspects of globalization are opposed to each other – and it is the values and the efforts of the global social and economic justice movement that I want to advance. (See Amory Starr’s 2005 Global Revolt.)

Yet the demand for a global approach is more than just based on values; it is practical: pollution, for example, does not stop at national borders. Pollution from Mexico will affect the United States, and vice-versa.

Second, I think any proposed vision must be based on solidarity, the principle of people looking out for the best interests of each other, and doing that collectively. Thus, any solution cannot be based on individualism, which pits individual interest against other individuals’ interests, but must be based on collectivism. This takes us back to an old slogan in the labor movement: an injury to one is an injury to all!

And third, any vision must be based on emancipation, not domination. We must consider what will work for all the people in the world, and which will enhance their lives overall, even if some are inconvenienced. The idea is to improve the well-being of people, not worsen their lives and aspirations. We must seek to bring every one up, not down.

Based on these principles, I want to put forth a vision that seeks to affirmatively address each. The vision for the Green movement globally should be to develop a standard of living and way of life that would allow every person in the world to live comfortably in societies that are ecologically and economically sustainable over multiple generations. This vision is simple, straightforward, and based on the ideas of social and economic justice globally.

Read the rest of the article…

On Gaza
by Starhawk

All day I’ve been thinking about Gaza, listening to reports on NPR, following the news on the internet when I can spare a moment. I’ve been thinking about the friends I made there four years ago, and wondering how they are faring, and imagining their terror as the bombs fall on that giant, open-air prison.

The Israeli ambassador speaks movingly of the terror felt by Israeli children as Hamas rockets explode in the night. I agree with him-that no child should have her sleep menaced by rocket fire, or wake in the night fearing death.

But I can’t help but remember one night on the Rafah border, sleeping in a house close to the line, watching the children dive for cover as bullets thudded into the walls. There was a shell-hole in the back room they liked to jump through into the garden, which at that time still held fruit trees and chickens. Their mother fed me eggs, and their grandmother stuffed oranges into my pockets with the shy pride every gardener shares.

That house is gone, now, along with all of its neighbors. Those children wake in the night, every night of their lives, in terror. I don’t know if they have survived the hunger, the lack of medical supplies, the bombs. I only know that they are children, too.

I’ve ridden on busses in Israel. I understand that gnawing fear, the squirrely feeling in the pit or your stomach, how you eye your fellow passengers wondering if any of them are too thick around the middle. Could that portly fellow be wearing a suicide belt, or just too many late night snacks of hummus? That’s no way to live.

But I’ve also walked the pock-marked streets of Rafah, where every house bears the scars of Israeli snipers, where tanks prowled the border every night, where children played in the rubble, sometimes under fire, and this was all four years ago, when things were much, much better there.

And I just don’t get it. I mean, I get why suicide bombs and homemade rockets that kill innocent civilians are wrong. I just don’t get why bombs from F16s that kill far more innocent civilians are right. Why a kid from the ghetto who shoots a cop is a criminal, but a pilot who bombs a police station from the air is a hero.

Is it a distance thing? Does the air or the altitude confer a purifying effect? Or is it a matter of scale? Individual murder is vile, but mass murder, carried out by a state as an aspect of national policy, that’s a fine and noble thing?

I don’t get how my own people can be doing this. Or rather, I do get it. I am a Jew, by birth and upbringing, born six years after the Holocaust ended, raised on the myth and hope of Israel. The myth goes like this:

“For two thousand years we wandered in exile, homeless and
persecuted, nearly destroyed utterly by the Nazis. But out of that suffering was born one good thing-the homeland that we have come back to, our own land at last, where we can be safe, and proud, and strong.”

That’s a powerful story, a moving story. There’s only one problem with it-it leaves the Palestinians out. It has to leave them out, for if we were to admit that the homeland belonged to another people, well, that spoils the story.

The result is a kind of psychic blind spot where the Palestinians are concerned. If you are truly invested in Israel as the Jewish homeland, the Jewish state, then you can’t let the Palestinians be real to you. It’s like you can’t really focus on them. Golda Meir said, “The Palestinians, who are they? They don’t exist.” We hear, “There is no partner for peace,” “There is no one to talk to.”

And so Israel, a modern state with high standards of hygiene, a state rooted in a religion that requires washing your hands before you eat and regular, ritual baths, builds settlements that don’t bother to construct sewage treatment plants. They just dump raw sewage onto the Palestinian fields across the fence, somewhat like a spaceship ejecting its wastes into the void. I am truly not making this up-I’ve seen it, smelled it, and it’s a known though shameful fact. But if the Palestinians aren’t really real-who are they? They don’t exist!-then the land they inhabit becomes a kind of void in the psyche, and it isn’t really real, either. At times, in those border villages, walking the fencelines of settlements, you feel like you have slipped into a science fiction movie, where parallel universes exist in the same space, but in different strands of reality, that never touch.

When I was on the West Bank, during Israeli incursions the Israeli military would often take over a Palestinian house to billet their soldiers. Many times, they would simply lock the family who owned it into one room, and keep them there, sometimes for hours, sometimes for days parents, grandparents, kids and all. I’ve sat with a family, singing to the children while soldiers trashed their house, and I’ve been detained by a group of soldiers playing cards in the kitchen with a family locked in the other room. (I got out of that one-but that’s another story.)

It’s a kind of uneasy feeling, having something locked away in a room in your house that you can’t look at. Ever caught a mouse in a glue trap? And you can’t bear to watch it suffer, so you leave the room and close the door and don’t come back until it’s really, really dead.

Like a horrific fractal, the locked room repeats on different scales. The Israelis have built a wall to lock away the West Bank. And Gaza itself is one huge, locked room. Close the borders, keep food and medical supplies and necessities from getting through, and perhaps they will just quietly fade out of existence and stop spoiling our story.

“All we want is a return to calm,” the Israeli ambassador says. “All we want is peace.”

One way to get peace is to exterminate what threatens you. In fact, that may be the prime directive of the last few thousand years.

But attempts to exterminate pests breed resistance, whether you’re dealing with insects or bacteria or people. The more insecticides you pour on a field, the more pests you have to deal with-because insecticides are always more potent at killing the beneficial bugs than the pesky ones.

The harshness, the crackdowns, the border closings, the checkpoints, the assassinations, the incursions, the building of settlements deep into Palestinian territory, all the daily frustrations and humiliations of occupation, have been breeding the conditions for Hamas, or something like it, to thrive. If Israel truly wants peace, there’s a more subtle, a more intelligent and more effective strategy to pursue than simply trying to kill the enemy and anyone else who happens to be in the vicinity.

It’s this-instead of killing what threatens you, feed what you want to grow. Consider in what conditions peace can thrive, and create them, just as you would prepare the bed for the crops you want to plant. Find those among your opponents who also want peace, and support them. Make alliances. Offer your enemies incentives to change, and reward your friends.

Of course, to follow such a strategy, you must actually see and know your enemy. If they are nothing to you but cartoon characters of terrorists, you will not be able to tell one from another, to discern the religious fanatic from the guy muttering under his breath, “F-ing Hammas, they closed the cinema again!”

And you must be willing to give something up. No one gets peace if your basic bargaining position is, “I get everything I want, and you eat my shit.” You might get a temporary victory, but it will never be a peaceful one.

To know and see the enemy, you must let them into the story. They must become real to you, nuanced, distinctive as individuals. But when we let the Palestinians into the story, it changes. Oh, how painfully it changes! For there is no way to tell a new story, one that includes both peoples of the land, without starting like this:

“In our yearning for a homeland, in our attempts as a threatened and traumatized people to find safety and power, we have done a great wrong to another people, and now we must atone.”

Just try saying it. If you, like me, were raised on that other story, just try this one out. Say it three times. It hurts, yes, but it might also bring a great, liberating sense of relief with it.

And if you’re not Jewish, if you’re American, if you’re white, if you’re German, if you’re a thousand other things, really, if you’re a human being, there’s probably some version of that story that is true for you.

Out of our own great need and fear and pain, we have often done great harm, and we are called to atone. To atone is to be at one-to stop drawing a circle that includes our tribe and excludes the other, and start drawing a larger circle that takes everyone in.

How do we atone? Open your eyes. Look into the face of the enemy, and see a human being, flawed, distinct, unique and precious. Stop killing. Start talking. Compost the shit and the rot and feed the olive trees.

Act. Cross the line. There are Israelis who do it all the time, joining with Palestinians on the West Bank to protest the wall, watching at checkpoints, refusing to serve in the occupying army, standing for peace. Thousands have demonstrated this week in Tel Aviv.

There are Palestinians who advocate nonviolent resistance, who have organized their villages to protest the wall, who face tear gas, beatings, arrests, rubber bullets and real bullets to make their stand.

There are internationals who have put themselves on the line-like the boatload of human rights activists, journalists and doctors on board the Dignity, the ship from the Free Gaza movement that was rammed and fired on by the Israeli navy yesterday as it attempted to reach Gaza with humanitarian aid.

Maybe we can’t all do that. But we can all write a letter, make a phone call, send an email. We can make the Palestinian people visible to us, and to the world. When we do so, we make a world that is safer for every child.

Thoughts By the Way: Happy Neo Year
Tom Herring is a Community Council member on Vashon Island. Catch more of Tom’s thoughts on his blog.

Today a televised image showed a house, upright and mostly intact, borne away on a flood. Just so on this January first our nation’s capitol floats off into the future borne on the wreckage of two hundred years of social progress. Instead, it would be nice if the “other shoe” would drop, oh, in the Aisle of the House, upset their rotten barrel of apples, spoil their ride. Then it would be they whose lives would be wrecked, and us whose lives might once again be our own. The other shoe? Oh, I dunno, how about sentencing W to be speaker of the House? After all, he and O such soul-mates. Make a great team.

Sweet dream, the Congress imploding, Obama left alone in his empty office with his empty words, we once again standing on the high moral ground of the American Way. Worse, it’s a pipe dream. We don’t have a clue how to live without credit cards. Flabby and confused, we would be thrust into poverty, will be thrust into poverty. How do I know this? By a dozen or so blogs hammering on this message for months, that’s how.

Menwomen, the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse await us. The Bible is not too clear on detail, but thanks to two creative greats, we get the message. That master of line, Albrecht Dürer, does it in this picture.

And in words, writer Vicente Blasco Ibáñez does it in that best selling novel of 1919. This five star review by courtesy of Google Books:

“I love this book. I read it many years ago…The beginning starts off peacefully, like a romance, you become part of the scenerios, you fall in love with the characters…Then all of a sudden there is war (World War 1)…This novel is about people in that epoch, about tango dancing, about France and Argentina. About money and the pampas…About Germany…In fact about all of Europe…It is about an epoch in which people thought the world would end in war and genocide and everyone was just trying to have sex and fall in love and live life to the fullest before it all came to an end…The name Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse which is a phrase taken from the last book in the Bible which talks about Armageddon (better known as “the end of the world.” This book is like a mix of War and Peace by Leo Tolstoy and Gone With The Wind by Margaret Mitchell, only better. The English translation of this book is so true to the original…nothing, absolutely nothing, is lost in translation here….Read this book if you want to read great literature.”

Sex may help, is not to be ruled out, even though not on the table. The horses, however, need updating.

Strife, War, Famine, and Death were foretold, but things have not worked out quite in that way. The horse most in need is the first, the White Horse. The color is okay, but the crime is not strife, it is silence. As we enter this ‘vale of tears’ the enormity of things that we have witnessed with mute acceptance wraps us in a leaden cloak of despair. A closing thought comes from the days of the square-rigged ships of the China trade that plied the roaring forties, that latitude of towering waves and howling winds. When it came time to shorten sail the crew climbed the ratlines to the yard then moved out along that pitching, thrashing pole each man to his position, to pull with raw half-frozen hands at the reef lines. The saying was, one hand for the ship, the other hand for your self.

Our Climate Crisis: Cynthia McKinney Versus Israel
Duff Badgley is the leader of the One Earth Climate Action Group and was a candidate for Governor as a Green in 2008. He can be reached at 206-283-0621.

Cynthia McKinney is an outstanding human.

She makes me proud to be a homo sapien when daily climate news and war news tell me we are a murderous and suicidal species.

She risked her life this week trying to deliver three tons of hospital supplies, one pediatrician, and two surgeons to the Gaza Strip where Israel continues its genocidal air and, now, ground attacks.

She sailed on the Dignity, a small, Free Gaza boat trying to break the criminal Israeli blockade of Gaza.

She was thrown forcibly to the floor as an Israeli war boat repeatedly rammed the Dignity.

She heard the telephoned warning from the gathered Israeli war boats: turn around or the Dignity would be fired on.

She heard the Dignity captain announce their boat was taking on water.

She heard a fellow passenger tell her to prepare to die.

She donned her life vest.

She survived when Lebanese ships guided the crippled Dignity back to a friendly port in Lebanon.

McKinney bridges from political activism to climate activism.

She made a strong climate stand last summer during her Green Party presidential campaign. She called for a “Climate Marshall Plan”, a nationwide mobilization to address our Climate Crisis.

She knows Israel mass murdering Palestinians and Industrial World humans mass murdering our chances for a livable Earth are connected, part of our Species Darkness.

She shines light in the dark places we do not want to look.

This Week in History
This Week in History, published by Carl Bunin and edited by Al Frank, is a collection designed to help us appreciate the fact that we are part of a rich history advocating peace and social justice. While the entries often focus on large and dramatic events there are so many smaller things done everyday to promote peace and justice. Find more info at http://www.peacebuttons.info/E-News/thisweek.htm.

January 7, 1971: The U.S. District Court of Appeals ordered William Ruckelshaus, the Environmental Protection Agency’s first administrator, to begin the de-registration procedure for DDT so that it could no longer be used. It was a widely used pesticide in agriculture (principally cotton). This happened nine years after the publication of Rachel Carson’s “Silent Spring,” a book which cautioned about the dangers of excessive use of pesticides and other industrial chemicals to plants and animals, and humans.

January 8, 2003: Three activists, including Kate Berrigan (daughter of Phil) and Liz McAlister, rappelled down a 32-story skyscraper near the Los Angeles Auto Show and unfurled a banner reading “Ford: Holding America Hostage To Oil.” They had chosen Ford due to its having the lowest average fuel economy of any auto manufacturer, and that it was not living up to the reputation it put forth as being an environmental car company.

January 10, 1946: The first General Assembly of the United Nations convened at Westminster Central Hall in London, England, and included 51 nations. On January 24, the General Assembly adopted its first resolution, a measure calling for the peaceful uses of atomic energy and the elimination of atomic and other weapons of mass destruction.

Letters to the Editor
Got something you want to get off your chest? Did an article in a previous edition of Greener Times make you madder than a hornet or cause you to stand up to say, “Right on!”? Well, this space is reserved each week for your comments and opinions.

I’ve Left the Left
(response to ‘Donna’ letter in GT, 12-29-1/4)

Hi, Donna,

Thanks for your letter. If you are “wincing when you see blows coming from the left” directed toward Obama & Cronies, please know that I’ve left the Left. The Left acts as Good Cop to the Bad Cop of The Right. The Right, Bush shows us, is easy to identify as the enemy. The Left rushes to kick Bush to conceal its agenda-which is the same as The Right.

Your comment “…what a huge change from the Bush Administration…” shows this so well. Anything, you imply, is better than Bush. And so it’s hands-off critical examination of Obama’s appointments.

The Left feeds the Climate Crisis Beast as it falsely claims to be fighting the “entrenched interests” you decry. The Left is those entrenched interests…more slippery and more dangerous than The Right.

Agriculture nominee Vilsack comes from Iowa. 53,000 Iowans work in the corn ethanol industry. Vilsack is a shameless supporter of corn ethanol, like Obama himself. Study after study clearly shows corn ethanol to be a global scourge. Vilsack is an “entrenched interest”. Obama is an “entrenched interest”. How shall we “overcome” them?

Energy nominee Chu scares the hell out of me with his reckless talk of converting 50 million acres to ‘energy crops’. He seems blind to what is obvious. There’s no land left on Earth unaccounted for. Radically reducing consumption and eliminating private vehicles will reduce our carbon emissions. Not puzzling over how to convert more precious land to feed our gas tanks.

But The Left will not talk about reducing consumption.

Because The Left has the same goal as The Right. To maximize production, consumption and material wealth, whatever the cost. And the cost, we are learning, is high: sacrificing a Planet on which we can live.

I’ve left The Left.
~ Duff Badgley ~

Pencil Shavings: Bowser Blues
Pencil Shavings appears in this space most weeks and solely represents the opinions of the publisher. If you’d like to read more of Trey’s ruminations, visit The Rambling Taoist.

For the second time in the past six months, we had to have one of our dogs euthanized. Our dear Scruffy left this world yesterday and it’s for the same exact reason that our sweet Becca left us in late July — cancer. I thought we were being bedeviled by some weird anomaly. In fact, recent studies indicate that dogs are more prone to cancer than humans!!

We know that human behavior often plays a role in our rates of cancer. However, dogs neither smoke, drink nor sunbathe, so this indicates that the incidence of cancer in dogs come from two factors: heredity and the environment. In a manner of speaking, our canine companions are like a canary in a mine shaft. When they start falling like flies due to cancer, it should serve as a wake-up call for us.

In essence, our human-generated environment is killing our furry friends — some types and breeds at alarming rates! Since they can’t do anything to reverse this trend, they’re looking to us for answers. Unfortunately for them, we act as if we don’t care as we continue to degrade this shared environment daily. We do this both as individuals and as a society.

Gandhi once said that you can tell how humane a society is by the way other animals are treated. If we use this yardstick as our guide, then we’re not very humane at all!!

News You May Have Missed

Was the ‘Credit Crunch’ a Myth Used to Sell a Trillion-Dollar Scam?
There is something approaching a consensus that the Paulson Plan — also known as the Troubled Asset Relief Program, or TARP — was a boondoggle of an intervention that’s flailed from one approach to the next, with little oversight and less effect on the financial meltdown. But perhaps even more troubling than the ad hoc nature of its implementation is the suspicion that has recently emerged that TARP — hundreds of billions of dollars worth so far — was sold to Congress and the public based on a Big Lie…

US Blocks UN Action on Gaza Conflict
The United States late Saturday blocked approval of a UN Security Council statement calling for an immediate cease-fire in the Gaza Strip and southern Israel and expressing concern at the escalation of violence between Israel and Hamas. US deputy ambassador Alejandro Wolff said the United States saw no prospect of Hamas abiding by last week’s council call for an immediate end to the violence. Therefore, he said, a new statement at this time ‘would not be adhered to and would have no underpinning for success, would not do credit to the council.’…

Energy Star Climate Change Claims Misleading, Audit Finds
A voluntary program promoted by the federal government to boost energy efficiency and cut greenhouse gas emissions does not work as advertised, according to a new audit by the Inspector General of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. The Inspector General’s report on the federal Energy Star program concludes that many of the touted benefits could not be verified…

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