Greener Times

Promoting a sustainable society…one day at a time.

GT for April 6 – 12

Posted by Trey Smith on April 5, 2009

Greener Times for the Week of April 6 – 12

Volume 3 No. 51

an e-publication for Greens anywhere and everywhere

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

In This Week’s Issue
* Walking Restores the World & Humanity
* America Needs a Green Economic Recovery Plan
* Thoughts By the Way: Money? Don’t Bank on It
* Our Climate Crisis: Nickels & Gregoire Are Climate Criminals
* Un-Spinning the Spin: Passover Reflection: Has Zionism Replaced Judaism?
* This Week in History
* Letters to the Editor
* Pencil Shavings: The Agony of Misery
* News You May Have Missed

Walking Restores the World & Humanity
by Bill Bunn for Culture Change

There is only one way humans are made to move. They are basically made to walk. There are many other ways to get around. You can canoe, for instance. Or paraglide. Or jog or swim. But these modes of transportation are not the staple of human mobility. Walking is unavoidable, a necessity for those with two working legs.

The entire scheme of nature, and the human’s place within it, is built around the understanding that humans use their legs to move. It’s a great unspoken assumption. The earth expects humans to walk.

Wildlife expects humans to walk, and it has trouble with other forms of transport. North American drivers kill one million animals each day, nearly 12 animals per second. 400 million animals are killed by drivers in North America each year. Almost two million deer are killed on North American roads yearly.

According to National Institute for Urban Wildlife and U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service 50 to 100 million birds are killed each year by vehicles. Research reports that road kill is a significant factor in the decline of amphibians. Motorized transport dramatically reduces insect populations.

Though humans invented vehicles, we have trouble understanding them, too. The 210 million vehicles on North America’s four and half million miles of roads cause 47 thousand human deaths a year. But, how many mammals, birds, amphibians and humans would be hurt or killed if humans only walked?

All creatures, including the human, understand walking. Walking is a primal transport, embedded in the human psyche, expected by the world’s creatures, and the land itself, evidence of an ancient arrangement between humans and their world.

Walking serves as a bridge between other humans and other animals. Humans tend to walk between two and five miles per hour – an average of around three miles per hour. Dogs walk at speeds between two and four miles per hour. Camels walk an average speed of three miles per hour. Horses and mules, when walking, operate at speeds of three to four miles per hour. Elephant walk at four miles per hour. The old friendships between humans and some animals partly depend on a shared walking speed. A walking pace is the speed of community.

Though we don’t walk with many other animals, we could. Many other animals share a similar pace: bears, mice, ants, snakes, cats, or aardvarks. The ordinary human can keep pace with a puma, a zebra, a rhinoceros, or an American President.

Yet, humans are obsessed with the top speeds of each living thing. Many sources announce, for example, that the elk has a top speed of 25 miles an hour. Very few note the walking speed: between three and five miles per hour.

As part of that obsession, humans find ways to travel faster every year. Usain Bolt’s recent Olympic sprint averaged 23 mph. When he sprints, he is unique, and alone. When he walks, any walking human can keep pace. Top speed emphasizes difference.

Mechanically assisted types of transport alienate humans from their planet, and from one another. The fastest humans, currently, ride in the space shuttle traveling at 18,685 mph in orbit. 18,685 miles an hour is an unearthly speed. Top speeds separate us from one another and alienate us from the earth. Lower speeds unify us and bind us to our planet.

For those who like speed, there is a price to pay. One cost is tension. The mind, when you drive, is consumed for the most part in the exercise of managing extra speed, paying attention, watching for potholes and pedestrians. Even jogging requires more attention than walking.

Researchers report that the faster you travel the more tension you experience. A number of studies report, for example, that when speed increases, negative emotions intensify. This factor alone plays a large role in what has been termed “road rage.”

Another cost is a diminished sense of context. When you walk, your field of vision is nearly 180 degrees, 140 degrees of which feeds your awareness. The Optometrists Association of Australia reports that human field of vision “is reduced with increasing speed.” For example, at 100 kilometers an hour, field of vision contracts to 40 degrees.

Higher speeds cause peripheral vision to “smudge” which hampers object recognition, and lowers response times. Motorists traveling 25 miles per hour or faster have more difficulty determining whether a pedestrian is ready to cross a street, and in consequence have more difficulty deciding whether they should slow down.

In other words, speed impedes thinking and decision-making. Thought depends on perception, but speed impairs it. Things “come out of nowhere.” collisions become inevitable.

But walking is a cure. When we walk we take our place in nature. We untie our minds and improve thought. We restore our humanity. So, walk. After all, it’s what we were designed to do, and what our planet expects of us.

America Needs a Green Economic Recovery Plan
Green Party leaders today offered a set of urgent economic steps for the White House and Congress, saying that President Obama’s Wall Street rescue scheme was merely “throwing hundreds of billions of taxpayers’ dollars into the Wall Street money hole.”

“The justifiable outrage over AIG’s use of taxpayers’ money for executive bonuses has distracted Americans from the far greater scandal — that the Obama Administration is bailing out the giant financial corporations whose unchecked power created this mess. President Obama will fail if his goal is to rescue companies like AIG and return to the days of monster corporations controlling nearly every aspect of the US economy,” said Laura Wells, Green Party candidate for California State Controller in 2002 and 2006.

“Anger over the unprecedented transfer of public money to private corporations must be channeled into political pressure on Mr. Obama and Congress members, and into electing candidates who stand for people instead of powerful lobbies. We must not allow enthusiasm for the new administration to translate into a rubber stamp for more damaging policies,” said Ms. Wells.

Green Party leaders said that President Obama and Congress could bring real “change we can believe in” by introducing the following measures:

  • Make assistance for Americans in dire financial need the top priority, especially aid for those facing loss of jobs and homes because of the mortgage crisis, with moratorium on home foreclosures, utility shut-offs, evictions, and rent hikes. Instead of throwing hundreds of billions of taxpayers’ dollars into the Wall Street money hole, use the federal government’s power to stimulate the economy by creating jobs with a major public works program.
  • Restore the Glass-Steagall Act (passed during the Depression, separating banking from insurance and securities trading), usury laws (prohibiting credit card companies and other financial firms from charging exorbitant interest), and other regulations of the financial industry that were stripped during the Reagan-Bush-Clinton-Bush era. These rules were designed to prevent catastrophes like the one the US is undergoing now.
  • Nationalize insolvent banks and keep them as public banks; nationalize the mortgage industry, including Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac; break up the giant financial conglomerates; strengthen provisions to recapitalize pension funds. ‘Too big to fail’ means too risky for a healthy economy and too powerful for a healthy democracy. Introduce measures to decentralize the economy, with aid for small and local banks and credit unions. Rescue Main Street instead of Wall Street. (Nationalization talk from liberal politicians and pundits often means lemon socialism: writing down bad assets at public expense to clean up banks’ balance sheets and then reselling them to private investors. Bad assets should cost investors, not the public.)
  • End trading in toxic financial instruments, including risky derivatives, hedge funds, junk bonds, collateral debt obligations (CDOs), and credit default swaps (CDSs) that create phantom wealth for financiers based on expensive gambles for the rest of America.
  • Make the Treasury Department, Federal Reserve, Securities Exchange Commission, and other regulators transparent and accountable to taxpayers. Unfortunately, President Obama appointed experts like Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner and economic adviser Larry Summers who promoted and oversaw the deregulatory policies that led to the current crisis. Mr. Geithner declared his real loyalties shortly after he took office when he said, “We have a financial system that is run by private shareholders, managed by private institutions, and we’d like to do our best to preserve that system.”
  • Enact election reforms to restrict the power corporations have over Democratic and Republican politicians and open the political field to non-corporate parties and candidates. (Greens accept no corporate contributions.) From 1998 to 2000, the financial industry spent $1.7 billion on federal campaign contributions and $3.4 billion on lobbyists. The result is that too many members of Congress — including influential Democrats like Charles Schumer (NY) and Barney Frank (Mass.), Chair of the House Financial Services Committee — have legislated on behalf of top financial firms instead of taxpayers and working people.
  • Make corporations and the wealthy pay their fair share in taxes; aggressively investigate and prosecute Wall Street and mortgage industry fraud and tax evasion. A retroactive tax on windfall revenue on the oil-energy industry, with a return to 1981 level capital income taxation and repatriation of the $2 trillion from offshore tax havens, will finance a recovery plan for working Americans.

Green leaders listed further steps that Congress and the White House can take to end the recession and give the US a sound economic plan for the 21st century:

  • Reorient industries in light of current human and ecological needs, especially to curb the advance of global warming. By nationalizing broke car companies, we can run them democratically as public enterprises to produce light rail equipment for expanded public transportation, electric cars, hybrids, etc. Cities and towns can be redesigned, with new construction to encourage density instead of congestion, as well as retrofitting and greening of housing, businesses, and government buildings for energy conservation. New jobs in watershed rehabilitation, alternative clean and safe energy, and other green programs will put millions of Americans to work.
  • Enact Single-payer national health care (Medicare For All) to prevent Americans from going broke because of health emergencies. Single-payer will relieve the financial burden on companies that provide benefits for employees, and eliminate the participation of insurance companies, which add high cost but no value to the health care system. According to the National Nurses Organizing Committee, Single-payer would generate 2.6 million new jobs, $317 billion in new business and public revenues, and $100 billion in wages.
  • Withdraw all US troops and military contractors from Iraq and Afghanistan, ending the wars and occupations that have drained trillions of dollars from the US economy and inflicted death and ruin on these countries and on the lives of US service members.

Thoughts By the Way: Money? Don’t Bank on It
Tom Herring is a Community Council member on Vashon Island. Catch more of Tom’s thoughts on his blog.

Money and health care are US disasters. Yet we have been conditioned to perceive the financial sector — banks, markets and insurance companies — as essential with the result that restorative efforts are only fiddle-tuning the system at great expense. The conditioning is bullet-proof because every material blessing we enjoy has been enabled by bank-issued credit. Or take something like that picture of the earth seen from the moon, nice, real nice, and it was paid for with 1960 dollars. Well, menwomen, we have been conditioned to believe that the derivatives market is essential to the good life.

Right now as I am trying to do this column the television in the next room has an attractive pair of Wall Street groupies telling us that stocks are better than sliced bread, that all you need to do is understand how they work. Sure, and as stocks have evolved from an engine of progress to a house of marked cards we have bought in. As surely as mathematics has evolved from counting 1,2,3, credit default swaps have evolved from the first bank that loaned money. You may clean up the Security and Exchange Commission, reinstate Glass-Stiegel, open the proceedings of the Federal Reserve Board, even make Obama keep his words, but bank money will evolve a new strain of crooks. Not believe? Think that this administration will get us our country back? Better take some stronger hair conditioner into the shower, maybe it will keep you from getting scalped.

That’s one way to introduce a proposal. Another way would have been to mention that everything more complicated than a hoe is now made in China or will be soon. Work out the ramifications of that and you will get out of dollars fast. The proposal is that we re-form local communities on the basis of a currency that is not issued by banks and does not draw interest. It is possible with such a currency to issue credit because neighbors have to trust each other. I’m not making this up for such currencies exist, have existed in England, and are now available here. The objections people in my town put up are readily surmountable. The commonest is the litany of what the community currency cannot do. The answer to that is that it coexists with the dollar, somewhat like the black market did in the Soviet Union. The one serious obstacle is not voiced because it’s too deeply ingrained, it is the conditioning. Time will likely take care of that and not in a nice way.

Indulge now in a burst of optimism and consider health care in a community that has its own currency. This will be of a type called complementary which performs as sketched above. The complementary nature entitles each and every resident to credit up to a limit. The result is that a person who is down and out can walk into the clinic and get care without paper nor co-pay. That person accepts a commitment to pay premiums for health care which commitment can be met in any way the person can muster and at any time in the future. The idea is that if you can breathe you can contribute something to your community. That’s the economic part of the vision. There’s more, a subtle shift in the makeup of this health care. Because there is no profit motive, no HMO, the health care will naturally shift to include nutrition and herbal medications. This in turn naturally is part of a shift towards prevention of disease instead of insurance for having it. Breast cancer is out of control in this country because there is profit in surgery and drugs. Prevention? Worse than lack of research in prevention is government’s active support for the food industry which contaminates grocery shelves with long lists of added chemicals. The vision is clear, taking the profit out of money takes the profit out of health care which puts our health back into care.

Christopher Hayes will close for me with this quote from his short article on the bailouts in the current issue of The Nation. He is critical of those in the financial sector unsatisfied with their bailouts:

“But the money isn’t enough. The financial elites want public deference as well. So the White House finds itself attempting to squeeze into a vanishingly small political space between a restive, cynical, frustrated populace and a class of unapologetic entitled (they believe) and potentially destructive elites.”

Our Climate Crisis: Nickels & Gregoire Are Climate Criminals
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.

We’re fast losing Our Planet to our Climate Crisis. It is past time to expose climate criminals like Seattle mayor Greg Nickels and Washington governor Chris Gregoire who order the destruction of our Livable Earth through biofuels.

At the March 28 Green Festival at the Washington Convention Center, Greg Nickels was placed under Citizens’ Arrest by One Earth Climate Action Group. Because of his wanton use of biofuels, Nickels is accused of Crime Against Humanity and Crime Against the Earth. Link to YouTube video of me and police just after I arrested Nickels.

The City of Seattle is the leading consumer of crop-based biofuels in the NW, and plans for more. Seattle burns a 40% biodiesel blend in its vehicles. Gregoire signed a law, effective June 1, 2009, ordering all state-owned, diesel-powered ferries, trucks and cars to burn a 20% biodiesel blend.

On March 28, I stepped outside the law that protects climate criminals like Nickels and Gregoire. I willingly risked arrest and jail by jumping up on stage with Nickels. Police grabbed me and forcibly removed me from the Green Fest stage as I served our Citizens’ Arrest Warrant on Nickels.

Off the stage, Nickels’ police guard continued to pin my shoulders and forced me physically out of the room where Nickels tried to speak. But no one could stop me from holding the climate criminal Nickels hostage in that meeting room.

I tried to re-enter that room through several other open doors. I chanted loudly “NICKELS IS A CLIMATE CRIMINAL” in each doorway. Several times, I succeeded in partially re-entering the room with my sign that reads ‘BIOFUEL KILLS”. I continued to disrupt Nickels’ speech. The police guard continued to physically remove me from the room. He continued to warn me of my imminent arrest. And he continued to decline to arrest me.

When he finished speaking, Nickels left the room from which I had been forcibly ejected. I followed him with my sign and my chants. Nickels’ police guard, one of the Green Festival national leaders and the state director of the Washington Convention Center all threatened me with arrest if I did not stop following Nickels. I continued to follow him, chanting and brandishing my sign. Now, I also held hostage the Green Festival crowds milling outside the meeting room. No one arrested me.

The folks trying to protect Nickels threatened to arrest me 6-8 times. I persisted after each threat in loudly accusing Nickels of biofuels Crime Against Humanity and biofuels Crime Against the Earth. After each threat, the police or others declined to arrest me or have me arrested.

I’ll write more next week about why they feared to arrest me, and about the benefits of Direct Action as part of our activist mix of strategies..

Nickels refuses to follow the example of King County Metro and drop all biofuels. King County heeded the science we gave them last year and quit biofuels cold. Nickels has had this same information for more than a year. But he continues to order destruction of Our Earth by biofuels.

The science overwhelmingly shows that all crop-based biofuels, like Seattle and the state use, trigger rainforest destruction. This releases vast amounts of CO2 massively worsening our Climate Crisis. The science also shows these same biofuels rob huge tracts of land from food production. This causes food shortages, hunger and starvation affecting billions of humans. This is why the United Nations has called these biofuels “A Crime Against Humanity”. Link to Jean Ziegler, U.N. Rapporteur for Food, calling biofuels “a crime against humanity.”

Here’s the science cited by King County Metro when they quit biofuels:

(1) SCIENCE (2-08): Two studies show–All biofuels destroy rainforest AND are worse than petrol.

(2) OECD  9-07 study: (26 biofuels analyzed. See global damage bar chart on pg. 35; ‘2nd gen’ biofuels exposed, pg. 5) — OECD is a consortium of world’s 30 richest nations, founded 1945.

(3) SCIENCE, 9-07 study: (re-forestation sequesters 2-9 times more CO2 than biofuels from agribusiness)

(4) CHEMISTRY WORLD NO 2 9/07: (nitrogen fertilizer = vast GHGs, by Nobel Laureate, Paul Crutzen)

(5) RAINFOREST COALITION 12/07 study: (exhaustive; extreme dangers of cellulosic ethanol)

Gregoire knows the science, too. She knows the extensive state fleet will soon be burning rainforests in its gas tanks. This is hideous. The University of Washington fleet has already switched to a 20% blend. Gregoire knows crop-based biofuels are much worse than petrol. Our governor is institutionalizing global destruction by biofuels.

Both Gregoire and Nickels know the science. Yet they refuse to stop using crop-based biofuels. They must be exposed as Climate Criminals. Now.

Un-Spinning the Spin: Passover Reflection: Has Zionism Replaced Judaism?
Maryrose Asher is a former Chair of the Green Party of Washington State and a tireless activist of many causes.

Jews worldwide will be celebrating Passover beginning sundown, Wednesday, April 8. As mentioned in previous columns, I converted to Judaism in 1986. My husband’s father, Rabbi Joseph Asher, presided over my conversion and performed our marriage ceremony at Temple Emanu-El in San Francisco. For nearly 23 years, I have identified myself as Jewish and have hosted Passover Seders in our home.

Born in 1946, I grew up during a time when Jews stood side by side with the Black community to fight for civil rights, with many also taking the lead in the Vietnam antiwar movement. My hometown of Monessen, along the Monongahela River southwest of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, is now a ghost town due to the steel mills shutting down in the 1970s. My grandfather, father, and uncles were all union workers, so I personally experienced the hardships of strikes and the benefits they gained from union membership. Jews were at the forefront of the labor movement, from founding the International Ladies Garment Workers Union (ILGWU) in New York City to marching with Cesar Chavez for California workers’ rights in California. Marx was a Jew. Even Lenin’s great-grandfather was a Jew. All of this played into this heroic, romantic image I had of the Jewish people.

Just as many look for answers in Eastern religions or philosophies, I was drawn to Judaism because of the Jewish community’s history of embracing of social justice. This is so central to Judaism that the de facto pillar of Judaism is tikkun olam, “repairing the world through social action.”

The Core Vision of the Tikkun/NSP (Network of Spiritual Progressives) articulates this relationship between religion and social action:

We in the Tikkun Community use the word “spiritual” to include all those whose deepest values lead them to challenge the ethos of selfishness and materialism that has led people into a frantic search for money and power and away from a life that places love, kindness, generosity, peace, non-violence, social justice, awe and wonder at the grandeur of creation, thanksgiving, humility and joy at the center of our lives.

It was not until I traveled to Israel in the fall of 1987 that this “bubble” of misperception of the Jewish people started to deflate. I began to understand that there had been a fundamental change in the Jewish community, with the socialist core of Judaism replaced by nationalism. Although aligning with the Left here in the United States on most progressive issues, the majority of Jews were now aligning themselves with the religious Right and neoconservatives in their unwavering support of Israel.

Although religion is rarely part of the discussion in progressive circles, I believe the values as expressed within the Jewish Tikkun Community can, and should, serve as a “light” to Jews. Taking advantage of the historical lessons of Passover, I would like to encourage self reflection.

As part of every Passover Seder, the following is communally recited:

Remember that your ancestors were strangers in the land of Egypt for four hundred years.

In every generation, we are commanded to view ourselves as if each one of us was personally brought forth out of Egypt.

During Passover, Jews are admonished to remember the slavery in Egypt as if it were their own, to recommit themselves to bringing freedom to all those who are presently enslaved by oppression and tyranny, and to learn from this experience that we are all harmed by oppression of any group. To me, this would extend not to just Darfur, as is presently discussed in Jewish circles, but especially to Israel and the Occupied Territories.

To figuratively become “masters of slaves” by keeping Palestinians in refugee camps in the Gaza Strip or in building a wall between Jewish settlers and Palestinians living in the West Bank, in effect instituting an apartheid system, is counter to the lessons of Passover. An exclusionary Jewish state does not embrace the values of Judaism. Israel does not have a constitution after 60 years of statehood. Now is the time to put that constitution into writing, encompass human rights, open the door to all “strangers,” and make the lesson of the Passover a reality.

The Judaic principles of social justice must be brought back into the life of Jews, not the corruption of these values at the hands of Zionism through a devotion to a political state. Israel does not provide a “refuge” to its Arab citizenry, has failed to be a “light to the nations,” and often represents the worse of what humans can do to one another. There will always be a Jewish people but, if the price is the loss of one’s humanity, than the cost is too high.

Simon Wiesenthal, who devoted most of his life to tracking down Nazi fugitives, said, “Justice for crimes against humanity must have no limitations.” The core moral center of the Jewish community is the mandate of tikkun olam, repairing the world. If this mandate is ignored and the core morality corrupted, then Judaism will have lost its place in history as being at the forefront of progressive social reform and end up being just another tool in the Zionist’s toolbox.

LAMENTATIONS

Listen, O Israel, for the dull, dim side of your hardening heart drained of joy. Amidst dying embers of compassion for the orphans and the widows whose protruding, round eyes stare from starved faces at your abundant good fortune, you offer the sulfurous fumes of arrogance as comfort.

Hear, O Israel, the stunned, dull tones of the father wresting his dead baby from the cold arms of his dead wife. Your soul, O Israel, hardened, immune to the suffering stranger, chills my bloodied veins for you forget “you were once a stranger in the land of Egypt” was a reminder to take pity on the stranger. Instead you have become as Pharaoh and his hosts to escape the pain of the stranger that stares accusingly at you. Your young, full-bellied army tortures the stranger even as you delight in the stranger’s humiliation and witness your cruelty with banal, calm eyes, business-like, efficient, sophisticated, consummated.

My tears, O Israel, flow hot and flow cold as ice and fire dance, prance, tears through my mind maddened, maddening to watch the soldiers of Pharaoh emblazoned with the Magen David, the star of David, hardened like steel against the vulnerable soft flesh of your victims all the while oblivious to the lapping sound of the waters of the Red Sea. I choke on the fear of what you have brought to open the flood of this sea that will consume both you and me.

Hear, O Israel, all is vanity and we are all one. Humanity is all one.

*Poem transcribed from an internet video “Prominent Canadians speak out against the war on Gaza”. The speaker read “Lamentations,” attributing it to Lawrence [Boksall] an anti-war activist and member of Jews for a Just Peace in Vancouver, BC.

Supplementary reading:

“The Jews of Iraq – Testimony of a Former Zionist” by Naeim Giladi (Jewish author)
“The Holocaust is Over: We Must Rise From its Ashes” by Avraham Burg (Jewish author)
“Israel Without Zionists: A Plea for Peace in the Middle East” by Uri Avnery (Jewish author)
“As the Arabs see the Jews” written in 1947, an interesting historical perspective by King Abdullah,
Israel and the apartheid analogy – Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
My Jewish Learning: Tikkun Olam in Contemporary Jewish Thought
Jewish Justice on Tikkun Olam
With all due respect for the ‘blue box’ – Haaretz – Israel News
Vayoel Moshe Section 110

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.

April 6, 1968: Bobby Hutton, the 17-year-old first member of the Black Panther Party was gunned down by officers of the Oakland Police Department. Police opened fire on a car of Black Panthers returning from a meeting. The Panthers escaped their vehicle and ran into a house. Police attacked the house with tear gas and gunfire. After the building was on fire, the Panthers tried to surrender. Hutton came out of the house with his hands in the air. But a police officer shouted, “He’s got a gun.” This prompted further police gunfire that left Hutton dead and Panthers co-founder Eldridge Cleaver wounded. Police later admitted that Hutton was unarmed.

April 9, 1947: The first freedom ride, the “Journey of Reconciliation,” left Washington, D.C. to travel through four states of the upper South. In response to a Supreme Court decision (Morgan v. Virginia) outlawing segregation on interstate busses, the group of both black and white Americans rode together despite “Jim Crow” state laws making it illegal. Together on the bus, and arrested several times for being so, were George Houser, Bayard Rustin, James Peck, Igal Roodenko, Nathan Wright, Conrad Lynn, Wallace Nelson, Andrew Johnson, Eugene Stanley, Dennis Banks, William Worthy, Louis Adams, Joseph Felmet, Worth Randle and Homer Jack. Two African-American members of the group, Rustin and Johnson, served on a chain gang for 30 days after their conviction in North Carolina. The integrated bus tour was sponsored by CORE (Congress for Racial Equality) and FOR (Fellowship of Reconciliation).

April 10, 1972: Charlie Chaplin received an honorary Oscar for “the incalculable effect he has had in making motion pictures the art form of this century.” The British native’s political views had previously been criticized, as had been his failure to apply for U.S. citizenship. Pressed for back taxes and accused of supporting subversive causes during the McCarthy era, Chaplin left the United States in 1952. Informed that he would not be welcomed back, he retorted, “I wouldn’t go back there if Jesus Christ were president.” He returned briefly from exile, however, to accept this award and received the longest standing ovation in Academy Award history, lasting a full five minutes.

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.

No letters received.

Pencil Shavings: The Agony of Misery
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.

America is a violent society. We murder each other. We rob each other. We destroy property and steal each other blind. Over the past few years, the incidence of violent crime has decreased, but no more. As more and more people find themselves squeezed and financially destroyed by our current economic free fall, the news has been littered with mass killings.

Within just the past few weeks, there have been 3 family murder-suicides (2 in California & 1 yesterday in rural Pierce County), one mass slaying in Binghamton, NY and another at a nursing home in North Carolina. If such acts shock your sensibilities, you better decide right now to quit reading the newspaper or internet and/or watching/listening to the news. Chances are strong that there will be more such reports in the coming weeks and months.

While there’s no question that there are a lot of variables that go into these types of mass killings, the overt tension and stress caused by our economic depression certainly is a major factor. Too many people are out of work (8.5% nationally) and unable to pay their routine bills. They no longer have health insurance. Many, for the first times in their lives, are applying for food stamps and other types of aid.

In our patriarchal society, too many men define themselves solely by their ability to provide for their families. When this ability is pulled out from under them, their identity and feelings of self-worth abandon them too. Faced with few prospects for a new job and the stress caused by too little money (and mounting bills), many poor blokes seem incapable of knowing how to handle the situation. So, they grab a gun and BLAM…BLAM…BLAM. Immediate problem solved.

Since the average American isn’t benefiting one wit from the trillions of dollars expended from the various bailout plans, expect more and more people to try to solve their problems with violence. Many will seek to kill others — before killing themselves — as a way to feel powerful one last time. Others will use violence to try to steal what they need to survive. But make no mistake — violence will be the answer for way too many people.

News You May Have Missed

A Scary Corporate Coup Is Under Way — We’ve Got to Stop It
A reassuring new story line is emanating from our leaders. I heard Rep. Barney Frank, D-Mass., chairman of the House Banking Committee, explain it. Then I read the same line in a Washington Post news story. That tells me people in high places are selling it. Dynamic capitalism, they explain, invents ways to create greater wealth, but sometimes it goes a little too far. Then government has to step in to correct things. This need typically occurs every generation or so, all in a day’s work. The Obama administration is proposing “sweeping” new regulatory laws so capitalism can continue its good works. The story makes disturbing current events sound practically normal. But what are the storytellers leaving out?…

Arctic May Be Ice-Free in 30 years, Study Says
Some 80 percent of Arctic ice may disappear in 30 years, not 90 as scientists had previously estimated, according to a new study on the impact of global warming. “The amount of the Arctic Ocean covered by ice at the end of summer by then could be only about 1 million square kilometers, or about 620,000 square miles,” said researchers who authored the study published Thursday. “That’s compared to today’s ice extent of 4.6 million square kilometers, or 2.8 million square miles,” they added, warning the development “raises the question of ecosystem upheaval.”…

Farmers For Hire
The distance from farm to table has just gotten much smaller. In fact, MyFarm and the Freelance Farmers, both based in San Francisco, have it down to a few feet. For a weekly or hourly fee, the two groups will establish a backyard (or even back deck) organic garden, while customers provide the sunny space for the heirloom seeds and plants to grow. Farmers will come every week, if desired, to plant, weed, compost and harvest, leaving a box of veggies for families to enjoy. The Freelance Farmers – Emily Stevenson and Jeremy Oldfield – have a slogan: “Get back to the land. Farm your yard.”…

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