Greener Times

Promoting a sustainable society…one day at a time.

Archive for May, 2009

June 1 – 7

Posted by Trey Smith on May 30, 2009

Greener Times for the Week of June 1 – 7
Volume 4 No. 7
an e-publication for Greens anywhere and everywhere

Greener Times Collective: Maryrose Asher, Duff Badgley, Tom Herring and Trey Smith (Editor)

In This Week’s Issue
* Monsanto Dropped a Cool $2 Million on Lobbying in Q1 2009
* Climate Change Already Killing 300,000 People Annually
* Thoughts By the Way: Space Travel
* Our Climate Crisis: Obama Commits Crimes Against Humanity
* Un-Spinning the Spin: Democratic Socialist Party? Who’s Kidding Who?
* This Week in History
* Letters to the Editor
* Pencil Shavings: No Column This Week
* News You May Have Missed

Monsanto Dropped a Cool $2 Million on Lobbying in Q1 2009
by Tom Philpott of Grist

Monsanto dominates the global market for GMO seeds like Microsoft dominates the operating-system software market.

You don’t skirt around antitrust enforcement like that without having good friends in Washinton. And to make friends, you’ve got have guys in suits working the Hill and the agencies. La Vida Locavore’s ever-enterprising Jill Richardson got her hands on Monsanto’s first-quarter lobbying disclosure form. Turns out, the GMO-seed giant spent $2 million pushing its agenda in Washington the first three months of the year.

Conspiracy theorists fixated on a food safety bill called HR 875—insisting that Monsanto is planning to seize the globe’s farmland (why would a highly profitable transnational want to move into a low margin business like farming?) and ban organic agriculture—will be disappointed. The form makes no mention of food-safety bills.

Monsanto does, however, mention lobbying on Senate Bill 384—the so-called Global Food Security Act—which would gear U.S. foreign aid policy to promote GMO seeds in developing countries.

As Jill points out, a Monsanto flack dropped by La Vida Locavore last month to deny that that the company had worked to shape the bill. Shame, shame.

Monsanto’s other big legislative concern? Strengthening already-draconian patent protection for the GMO seed industry—the one it dominates like Microsoft dominate operating system software.

Climate Change Already Killing 300,000 People Annually
by Timothy B. Hurst for Red, Green and Blue

Earlier today, former UN Secretary-General, Kofi Annan, President of the Global Humanitarian Forum, announced the results of a report on the human impact of climate change. The study, Human Impact Report: Climate Change – The Anatomy of a Silent Crisis, emphasizes the present impacts of a changing climate, pulling the debate away from a focus on “future generations.”

Speaking at a press conference in London, Mr. Annan said, “Climate change is the greatest emerging humanitarian challenge of our time, causing suffering to hundreds of millions of people worldwide. As this report shows, the first hit and worst affected are the world’s poorest groups, and yet they have done least to cause the problem.”

“Despite its dangerous impact, climate change is a neglected area of research since much of the debate has focused on the long term physical effects,” said Annan. “The point of this report is to focus on today and on the human face climate change.”

The report concludes that by 2030, worldwide deaths will reach almost 500,000 per year; people affected by climate change annually will rise to over 600 million and the total annual economic cost increase to around $300 billion annually.

Regions at particular risk include the semi-arid dry land belt countries from the Sahara to the Middle East and Central Asia, sub-Saharan Africa, South and South East Asia, and small island developing states.

The report also suggests that the world’s twenty most vulnerable nations to climate change account for less than one percent of total worldwide emissions. In addition, 98% of those affected by climate change, 99% of all deaths and over 90% of all economic losses are borne by those countries least able to cope with the impacts of climate change and least able to invest the resources in fending them off.

The Global Humanitarian Forum commissioned Dalberg Global Development Advisers to develop the report in December 2008 by assembling all relevant information and current statistics relating to the human impact of climate change. Within the limitations of existing research, the report presents the most complete estimate of the impact of climate change on human society today.

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

In 1959 I got my first ride on a jet and it was to be the best. There was a reservation mix-up at Ft. Worth that put me and my Boeing boss in first class seats non-stop to Seattle. After the American jet reached cruising altitude the only sound was the tinkle of ice cubes in the drink handed to me by an attractive stewardess. Fifty years later, I would sooner ride a Greyhound bus, because air travel has “come a cropper”: egregious pollution, cramped seats, bad food, and dancing to idiots at the security check. Well, dear menwomen, hasn’t it all come a cropper? Just as our genomes got mapped, string theory made the universe verge on comprehensible, an electric car super-battery been invented, the Internet arrived, and blackberries have gone electronic, we are hard at work turning Earth into a great big asteroid.

Viewed using the pretty well proven theory of evolution, for genesis to have so incorporated apotheosis is the greatest drama of the ages. We have the brains to examine how we came to inhabit the void, yet cannot prevent ourselves from destroying our spacecraft. I gotta say it’s enough to drive a person religious. Not that religion would help; there was a lot of religion at that Memorial Day concert celebrating war. True, the Bible mentions apocalypse, but it has the facts wrong, claiming that the bad guys get tossed and the good guys win. We know who’s getting tossed. No, I don’t think religion will help us stop drone-bombing Pakistanis. We’re trapped in a ghastly drama we cannot re-write.

Near the beginning of the final act the virtue of size makes its big entrance in the form of “too big to fail’. In application, this concept means that, if a person or collective is bad enough, hesheerit cannot be prosecuted. The paradox is somewhat resolved by enlisting the human fancy for getting a bit on the sly. At any rate, the concept is in the news a lot these days regarding investment banks. They robbed us, true, but if we prosecute then ‘tis said things will be worse. And, above the banks there is the whitewashing of 9/11. Although Bush made 9/11 the cornerstone of his foreign policy, and supplied the whitewash, he cannot under any revelation of facts be charged with complicity because, we fear, the US Presidency is too big to fail.

In making a movie, the screenwriter can do anything heershe wants to the author’s script, but in this drama, this de-facto apocalypse, the hired screenwrit… uh, Congress, cannot take pen in hand. Let private interests destroy rainforests? Sure, no sweat. Sell phosphorus bombs to Israel? Blame Israel. Shell Gazan fishing boats? Not our problem. Take African oil before China gets it? Hey, somebody has to have it. Privatize Bolivian water? The lobbyists say it’s okay. Throw black men in jail for an ounce? The war on drugs gotta be won, Screw Cuba? God Bless United Fruit! Now, just this once, should not a competent Congress view hiserher pocketbook in the context of the big bang, the ascent of manwoman, and the miracle of a healthy baby?

Our Climate Crisis: Obama Commits Crimes Against Humanity
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.

Seattle’s public signed a big stack of these flyers (with picture of burned rainforest) outside the May 21, 2009 EPA hearing in Seattle on climate change. I submitted these signed flyers into the public filmed-written-spoken record.

I wonder how many folks are telling the EPA its boss commits Crime Against Humanity? It should be a lot. Because he does.

The flyer:

OBAMA COMMITS BIOFUELS “CRIME AGAINST HUMANITY”

Obama’s recent order forming the Biofuels Interagency Working Group constitutes a Crime Against Humanity, as defined by the United Nations in 2007. This order will give almost another $1 billion to the American biofuels industry. Obama is acting as the shill for agro-business. He is trying to keep this industry afloat when the already obscene federal subsidies ($1 per gallon for biodiesel) have failed to make it viable.

All crop-based biofuels trigger global food shortages, hunger and starvation affecting billions of humans…all crop-based biofuels trigger rainforest destruction massively worsening our Climate Crisis by emitting plumes of CO2.

(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 NO2 9/07: (nitrogen fertilizer = vast GHGs, by Nobel Laureate, Paul Crutzen)  — Also this

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

Tell President Obama: QUIT BIOFUELS NOW!

Un-Spinning the Spin: Democratic Socialist Party? Who’s Kidding Who?
Maryrose Asher is a former Chair of the Green Party of Washington State and a tireless activist of many causes.

On May 20, members of the Republican National Committee amended their resolution which called upon the Democratic Party to rename itself the Democratic Socialist Party. The new version simply urges Democrats to “stop pushing our country towards socialism and government control.”

Is it true that the Democratic Party is attempting to “restructure American society along socialist ideals?”

In a Business Week article by Moria Herbst, “Socialism? Hardly, Say Socialists,” Herbst writes that the word “socialism” has been bantered about since Obama took office. In her article, Herbst interviews Frances Fox Piven of Democratic Socialists of America (DSA) and Sherry Wolf, a Chicago activist with the International Socialist Organization (ISO). They argue that, despite what critics claim, the Obama administrations’ policies are not leaning toward socialism, in fact quite the opposite.

If there is any socialism in the Obama administration, it is socialism for the rich.

Below is a sample email that is circulating among the Republicans (thanks to a family member for forwarding) that further illustrates the attacks on socialism.

And it came to pass in the Age of Insanity that the people of the land called America, having lost their morals, their initiative, and their will to defend their liberties, chose as their Supreme Leader that person known as “The One.”

And “The One” said “We live in the greatest country in the world. Help me change everything about it!”

And the people said, “Hallelujah!! Change is good!”

Then He said, “We are going to tax the rich fat-cats.”

And the people said, “Sock it to them! Redistribute their wealth. Show us the money!”

And then He said, “Redistribution of wealth is good for everybody.”

And Joe the plumber asked, “Are you kidding me? You’re going to steal my money and give it to the deadbeats??”

“The One” ridiculed and taunted him, and Joe’s personal records were hacked and publicized.

One lone reporter asked, “Isn’t that Marxist policy?” And she was banished from the kingdom.

Then “The One” said, “I shall give 95% of you lower taxes.”

And one, lone voice said, “But 40% of us don’t pay ANY taxes.”

So “The One” said, “Then I shall give you some of the taxes the fat-cats pay!”

And the people said, “Hallelujah!! Show us the money!”

Then he said, “I shall penalize employers who ship jobs overseas.”

And the people said, “Where’s my rebate check?”

Then He said, “Illegal immigrants feel scorned and slighted. Let’s grant them amnesty, Social Security, free education, free lunches, free medical care, bilingual signs and guaranteed housing.”

And the people said, “Hallelujah!!” And they made him King!

And so it came to pass that employers, facing spiraling costs and ever-higher taxes, raised their prices and laid-off workers. Others simply gave up and went out of business and the economy sank like unto a rock dropped from a cliff. The banking industry was destroyed. Manufacturing slowed to a crawl. And more of the people were without a means of support.

Then “The One” said, “I am the “The One” – The Messiah – and I’m here to save you! We shall just print more money so everyone will have enough!”

But our foreign trading partners said unto Him, “Wait a minute. Your dollar is not worth a pile of camel dung! You will have to pay more.”

And the people said, “Wait a minute. That is unfair!!”

And the world said, “Neither are these other idiotic programs you have embraced. Lo, you have become a Socialist state and a second-rate power. Now you shall play by our rules!”

And the people cried out, “Alas, alas!! What have we done?”

But yea verily, it was too late. The people set upon “The One” and spat upon him and stoned him, and his name was dung. And the once mighty nation was no more; and the once proud people were without sustenance or shelter or hope. And the Change “The One” had given them was as like unto a poison that had destroyed them and like a whirlwind that consumed all that they had built.

And the people beat their chests in despair and cried out in anguish, “Give us back our nation and our pride and our hope!!”

But it was too late, and their homeland was no more.

Why is the Democratic Party not denying the claims by Republicans and in fact giving the impression to conservative voters that Obama’s agenda is leaning toward socialism?

I purpose this tactic is being used as a tool by the gatekeepers in both parties and in the media as part of a concerted effort to discredit socialism; one by openly red-baiting socialists, the other by giving bailouts to the rich and letting the label of “socialism” stick.

With policies that benefit Wall Street and the bankers coupled with so-called accusations of socialism, they are disguising the fact that they are supporting capitalism and the greed and corruption within that system. By not denying claims of “socializing America,” they are discrediting socialism in the eyes of many voters who are upset, and rightly so, that those who have most benefited by the capitalistic system to the detriment of workers are continuing to be rewarded.

This strategy is working as it allows the Democrats who are now in power to keep the money flowing to the wealthy, while the Republicans stir up their constituents in the Right Wing with the usual Democrats = Socialists argument. This gives the illusion of opposition parties when in fact they are not.

It also keeps the Left Wing of the Democratic Party in the fold as, ideologically, they identify with the principles of socialism. The more banter there is about Obama’s “socialist” policies, the happier, although completely deluded, they are. Talking with progressives here on Vashon Island, attendance at the monthly Democratic Party meetings has significantly dropped. As one person put it, now that a Democrat is in office, they can go on with their life and focus on other things. In other words, as with many Americans, so-called progressives got their man elected and that is the end of the story. It just does not matter what he does once he is in office.

This attack on socialism is brilliant strategy on the part of the Republicans and Democrats as it keeps everyone in their place. Socialism is put in front as the “enemy.” If Obama’s policies fail, it will be at the feet of socialism.

It is beyond time for socialists to unite and form a united opposition party to counter the corporate-owned political system run by the Democratic and Republican Parties. The movement at present is too splintered to be that force. Perhaps, it is time to form the Green Socialist Party of America or Socialist/Green Party.

Before this can happen, as I have said in previous columns, a discussion needs to take place among progressives as to the details of what a socialist United States would look like. It is nice to say you want socialism; it is another thing to say what programs you would implement and, more importantly, how they would be financed. Simply stating a platform is not enough.

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.

June 1, 1950: Senator Margaret Chase Smith (R-Maine), the only woman in the Senate, and only the second in history, denounced Sen. Joseph McCarthy (R-Wisconsin) and his “red-baiting” tactics on the floor of the U.S. Senate, in a speech called “A Declaration of Conscience.”

June 4, 1972: Angela Y. Davis, a former philosophy professor at the University of California, militant black leader and self-proclaimed communist, was acquitted on charges of conspiracy, murder, and kidnapping by an all-white jury in San Jose, California.

June 5, 1972: Jane Briggs Hart, the wife of Senator Philip A. Hart (D-Michigan), informed the Internal Revenue Service that she wouldn’t pay some of her taxes; instead, she deposited her quarterly estimated tax of $6,200 in a special bank account. “I cannot contribute one more dollar toward the purchase of more bombs and bullets,” she wrote.

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 want to agree with Maryrose Asher in her commentary “Un-Spinning the Spin: Citizen Politics”. Local elections are coming up soon, and many positions are uncontested – a perfect opportunity for political activists. Maryrose is right in her analysis, (1) “none of the third parties have the money to run a successful candidate” or (2) “the ability to unite the progressive movement under one umbrella.” I’m eager to read next week how we meet that challenge. And, I would add one more thing – low credibility among the “chattering class” who write ever-so-witty blogs and editorials. When we lose an election, we disappear. So, (3) we have no presence year after year at council and legislative hearings in order to earn our stripes by doing our homework, and coming forward to where decisions are made. So, maybe we have at least three weaknesses to resolve.
~ Chuck Richards of Ballard ~

News You May Have Missed

The Great Idling Crackdown
New York City is cracking down on excessive vehicle idling in its aggressive statewide campaign known as the Stop Smoking Initiative for Trucks. Emissions from diesel-engine vehicles contain sulfur dioxide, particulate matter and nitrogen oxide, creating ground-level ozone that contributes to hundreds of thousands of asthma attacks in the U.S. each year. Currently, NYC has a three-minute idling limit that targets all vehicles, with certain exceptions. But the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (NYSDEC) has taken the matter to the streets by setting up so-called “enforcement actions” in heavy truck “hot spots” and issuing tickets to violating offenders. So far, the NYSDEC has committed to performing one operation per month in one of the five boroughs. And city residents can take part in the crackdown by calling 311 to report excessive idling…

“Clean” Energy and Poisoned Water
In the musical “Urinetown,” a severe drought leaves the dwindling supplies of clean water in the hands of a corporation called Urine Good Company. Urine Good Company makes a fortune selling the precious commodity and running public toilets. It pays off politicians to ward off regulation and inspection. It uses the mechanisms of state control to repress an increasingly desperate and impoverished population. The musical satire may turn out to be a prescient vision of the future…

From Watchdog to Lapdog: An Insider’s History of the EPA
A former EPA analyst explains how the governmental body set up to protect the environment has been undermined by political pressure and industry…

Advertisements

Posted in Greener Times | Comments Off on June 1 – 7

May 25 – 31

Posted by Trey Smith on May 23, 2009

Greener Times for the Week of May 25 – 31
Volume 4 No. 6
an e-publication for Greens anywhere and everywhere

Greener Times Collective: Maryrose Asher, Duff Badgley, Tom Herring and Trey Smith (Editor)

In This Week’s Issue
* Democratic Socialists? You Bet!
* More on Dreams
* Thoughts By the Way: Pandemic of Bad News
* Our Climate Crisis: Carbon Trading is Lethal Charade
* Un-Spinning the Spin: Citizen Politics
* This Week in History
* Pencil Shavings: A More Fitting Memorial
* News You May Have Missed

Democratic Socialists? You Bet!
by Matthew Rothschild, Editor of The Progressive

Some in the Republican Party are trying to re-dub the Democratic Party as the Democrat Socialist Party. Nothing like getting out the old encrusted red paintbrush.

But I hope some Democrats don’t run from this label. Running doesn’t get you anywhere. Democrats have been running from the label “liberal” since the days of Michael Dukakis, and that hasn’t helped them. And for those who, like me, are actually Democratic Socialists, it’s time to come out and say so.

Democratic socialism has brought a much better quality of life to the people in Scandinavia and France and Germany and Britain, and it has not erased one iota of the political freedoms we cherish in this country.

We need to move this country in the direction of democratic socialism. We need a much sturdier social safety net.

It’s a sin that in this country, 35 million people do not have enough food to eat during at least part of the year.

It’s a sin that 47 million Americans are without health insurance.

It’s a sin that of the top 18 industrialized countries, the United States ranks last in the percentage of children (11.8 percent) who are not likely to live to age 60, and last in the percentage of people (17 percent) living on less than 50% of the national median income, according to the United Nations Development Program.

We need a much more egalitarian distribution of wealth and income. The top 1 percent of Americans hoards 34.3 percent of the nation’s wealth, and the top 10 percent accounts for 71.2 percent of the wealth. As far as income goes, the top 10% sops up 42.5 percent of the nation’s income. (These stats are from the State of Working America, 2008/2009.)

We need much more control over the economic giants that dominate not only our economy but our political system.

Hell, it was just a few days ago when Dick Durbin said, “The banks own the place,” — after Congress — after ten Democrats joined the Republicans in voting against letting judges write down the mortgages of people in bankruptcy court.

And the people want universal health care, but the drug companies and insurance companies have been standing in the way for decades.

Right now, capitalism is eating away at our democracy.

So, thank you, Republicans, we do need democratic socialism.
© 2009 The Progressive

More on Dreams
by Stuart Reed

In “Pencil Shavings,” Trey noticed The Nation‘s article “The Future of the American Dream” and asked: Why not a world dream? That article, basically, puts forth some idea of where we could focus our economic dreams in the long term: permanent employment (government hires everyone who wants to and can work but can’t find a job, including during recession), but also a re-imagining of the large-scale work place towards collectivism, democracy, consensus. This really is more of a world dream than an American dream. I keep hearing about the growth of the movements for worker-owned businesses, co-operatives and collectives around the world. I most recently heard a KAOS radio show about such activities in Argentina and how successful they have been lately getting factories back up to speed after worker takeovers and reorganizing to a no-boss system. The article mentioned earlier also talks about community financial systems and their growth and potential.

Back in community college, I learned about how a corporation is more than the sum of its members because a corporate decision-making body makes decisions that no single individual of its members would make. Of course, the logical solution is to have every member of the company have an equal voice and ownership of that company and its decisions and profits. Break free from the pattern of cynicism-based “I have to” order-following that drains so many souls every day at work. We all know the power of socially responsible consensus-based companies, and their growth (off the top of my head, locally, I think of GRUB and the Olympia Food Co-op, both extremely successful and both doing fine in the “recession,” and that no credit union has failed like those banks). We all, unfortunately, also know that the growth of those initiatives is probably far too slow to take over our economy from the Big Boys anytime soon, especially given the stranglehold mega corporations have on the government and tax money. But, that’s what dreams are for, eh?

I think we have a lot to learn from our global partners in this world economic dream of non-hierarchical, democracy based employment for all, and must not forget our solidarity as lower classes with such folk around the world. Still a tiny blip in the US political radar, but perhaps one day more folks will refuse to work for any company with a hierarchy. Another thought (this is a whole other can of beans though) is that of course Obama is supporting the Empire status quo – no one person at the top of a hierarchy can ever change things to their liking because the hierarchy itself is too powerful at self-propagating and working in its own interest, not even the interests of it’s “leaders.”

If you still work for a boss – start talking to them about ways to bridge the gap between worker and boss, switch jobs and responsibilities sometimes, include all workers in decision-making processes, and do away with antiquated titles of status and power. If they won’t have it, get together horizontally with other workers and start plans and goals to create your own boss-less version of whatever you were doing before and it will thrive and generate great feelings of happiness.

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

Picture the inside of the typical columnist’s head these days. The classical, macroscopic view is of news bytes tumbling, fact over falsehood, to pile up more or less in layers, the latest on top. But the info-science view is that the bytes are serially burnt onto an infinite disk with a finite list of addresses. The un-addressed bytes are accessible under hypnosis, where a choice exists between hypnotists for the established order and hypnotists for the opposition. The addressed bytes are viewed by scrolling. When the rate of bytes/second exceeds an individual columnist’s limit, hiserher scroll motor burns out. My scroll motor burned out yesterday when one of Swaneagle Harijan’s reports on human misery got juxta-burnt with Pepe Escobar’s second report from the trenches of Obama’s inherited war for Eurasian natural gas.

Bricks of logic click smartly into place as Pepe unrolls the tapestry of natural gas pipelines planned by Russia, India, China, and the US. It’s cliff-hanging copy even apart from its context of carbon already gone to heaven.

Swaneagle lives the life of those trampled under the carpet of financial terrorism that blankets America. She’s a long time champion of the Navajo people cheated of their ancestral land by a coal mining company. In each of the several communities lived in, she has seen, and experienced, the dark reach of non-human interests. Vashon is not an exception.

His scroll motor down, this columnist draws a curtain over his window to the world and reflects on the psychological implications of so much bad news. One is that…

A hole was just torn in my curtain by a video from a recent Winter Soldier program. It was sent by Camp Casey. A youthful veteran read from a sheet of paper: In Iraq he had been severely disciplined for missing a chance to kill an Iraqi civilian. There was more. Never, in my three years in the opposition, have I been so utterly shamed.

I was about to say that one implication of the bad news pandemic is that many of us won’t be able to focus. What that veteran said underlines the danger. The environmental NGOs furnish an extreme example when they plead to save this or that vestige of nature and ignore the obvious supremacy of criminal government. So I yank up the curtain in sudden need for at least one person within arm’s length who also needs proof that heershe is still sane.

Have you family or household? And are they aware, or a handicap? And the neighbors, are they allies or a moat to cross? Does your town have a Council? Could it take that Winter Soldier video and carry it to the County Seat? And how would the County Council act?

Those questions herald a proposition. Here’s some prologue. It is past time to recognize that the present form of opposition is not working and hang a hard left. We might have expected that kernels of opposition would by now have formed in coffee shop and condo, street corner and park, and then grown steadily, merged into whole districts, and culminated in the US conference of mayors telling Congress to cut the lies, the posturing, the hypocrisy, and stop funding the military cancer. But that expectation would not have been met. And we know why. US families are breaking up, neighbors don’t know each other, too much time is wasted in traffic, television is a sterile game of high definition and low thrills, and at every turn the financial system tears huge chunks out of our lives. The opposition isn’t winning because it has already lost.

But, back to that kernel business suppose that kernels of two, three, maybe four people were in fact to grow to “cells” of two, three, maybe four hundred, and then ask what might happen. Boycott a business? Stiff the IRS? Embarrass Patty Murray with a fleet of cars marked all over with ears? Make the Seattle School Department wish it had never thought of double-crossing the teachers? Not to mention the students. Nominate Greg Nickels Bio-Fool of the Year? Make Jesse Hagopian mayor? Dorli Rainey Mayor? Turf-based opposition could have untold clout.

There’s another angle to that kind of “arms-reach” opposition, nice, clear, uncensored, private, audio. Like back in WW II when undergrounds practiced ultimate security. We could take that lesson. Think how fast an idea, a wish, an action, could spread through “cells” of opposition. Call them precincts? Gangs? That potent word leaps off the page as a picture at a street corner. Ever hear of a gang that did not have turf?

We cannot stop the pandemic, but we can draw a line and double-dare the pandemic to cross it.

Pepe Escobar writes for Asia Times Online.
Swaneagle Harijan may be reached at frontlinemom@yahoo.com
Jesse Hagopian may be reached at jesse_hagopian@yahoo.com
Dorli Rainey is running for mayor of Seattle at www.dorliformayor.com/

Our Climate Crisis: Carbon Trading is Lethal Charade
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.

My testimony from yesterday’s (May 21, 2009) EPA hearing on climate change and its ‘endangerment’ ruling:

E.P.A. MUST IMPOSE CAPS
CARBON TRADING IS LETHAL ‘SUBTERFUGE’

“Carbon trading is a subterfuge designed to allow Business-As-Usual to continue.”

James Hansen, Director of NASA’s Goddard Space Institute, September, 2008

Carbon trading is, and always will be, a bribe to get industry to the Climate Crisis table. It is an unnecessary bribe if we can muster the vision and courage to implement effective climate programs—without caving to our worst polluters, as carbon trading does.

President Barack Obama, Washington governor Chris Gregoire, many of our federal and state legislators, and zillions of misguided climate activists are engaging in lethal denial now by pushing carbon trading legislation. But the recent E.P.A. endangerment ruling gives us a chance to impose emissions caps with no escape. The E.P.A. must do this now.

Carbon trading hasn’t worked to reduce greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions. It won’t work. It can’t work. Overwhelming evidence, available for years from Europe, confirms this.

The leading European fuels analyst for Citigroup said in 2008 that the European Union’s Emissions Trading System (EU ETS) had “done nothing to curb emissions” and acted as “a highly regressive tax falling mostly on poor people.”

Waxman/Markey is the federal climate bill receiving most attention. It is carbon trading legislation. And, like all carbon trading schemes, it creates huge escape ways for the most polluting corporations to avoid reducing their GHG emissions. And these loopholes gut the program. So, GHG emissions will continue to rise under carbon trading—as they have been doing, and do now, in the EU.

Failure to reject carbon trading and impose direct government emissions caps will devastate our Earth. Global ruin will likely follow — average temperatures rising by 4-7C, the collapse of global agriculture and most of the Earth rendered uninhabitable.

EMERGENCY CLIMATE CRISIS ACTIONS NEEDED:
(1) The E.P.A. must impose severe GHG emissions caps on all sectors, with no escape.
(2) Impose stiff carbon taxes to raise the cash for restructuring our economy.
(3) Recycle carbon tax funds to poor to offset high costs for housing, food & transport.
(4) Recycle massive carbon tax funds to the Global South, chiefly to preserve rainforests. Deforestation is the 2nd-worst source of GHG emissions after fossil fuel combustion.
(5) Withdraw all occupying troops from Iraq, Afghanistan and pre-1948 Palestine. Route this War Dividend to climate programs.
(6) Leave fossil fuels in the ground.
(7) Invest in safe, clean and community-led renewable energy (NO crop-based biofuels).
(8) Enforce and expand Indigenous resource rights.

Un-Spinning the Spin: Citizen Politics
Maryrose Asher is a former Chair of the Green Party of Washington State and a tireless activist of many causes.

With local elections coming up, now is the time to support citizen politics, where “commoners” among us run for public office and get the united support of the progressive movement.

For far too long, we have voted under the false assumption that we should only elect those with the “proper” background, in most cases lawyers, to represent us. There was the misguided notion that government was too complicated for the average citizen and that only those with the proper experience and education were qualified for office.

By handing over responsibility to those with “education and experience,” we have put into power a group of perhaps the most corrupt, self-seeking individuals ever to run our local, state, and national governments.

Those in power have completely lost touch with their constituencies and live in a “bubble” of power and greed.

Both the 2006 and 2008 elections were a mandate from the voters to end the war in Iraq and for prosecution of those in the Bush administration who lied us into war and who carried out war crimes of torture and secret rendition. Our politicians, however, are taking the position that they know what is best and to hell with the voters.

Almost six months down the road, we now have no doubt that the Obama administration is part of the same corrupt system. He starts out by saying he will close Guantanamo and everyone applauds. Left unsaid is why Bagram prison in Afghanistan is still in operation and, on May 20, the Senate voted to block funds for closure of Guantanamo prison, conveniently giving Obama an “out” for another broken campaign promise.

We can see the handwriting on the wall that there will be no justice for those war criminals in the past administration as the current administration is continuing those same policies, despite their rhetoric. Health care is yet another example where voters thought they were electing a President that would bring single-payer health care, only to see him sell out to the insurance and medical lobbyists.

The only way the progressive movement is going to change the political system is by uniting behind a candidate who exemplifies the passion and dedication for social justice issues, not just by words but by deeds. We need activists who have been on the front lines carrying protest signs, marching in the streets, attending organizing meetings, facing arrest, and otherwise showing by example what we should all be doing.

It does not matter if they are not lawyers or do not have the clout of being part of the “inner circle” of our communities.

The progressive movement can no longer sell its soul and support the Democratic Party as they have done in the past. Neither of the two mainstream political parties represents the working class and none of the third parties have the money to run a successful candidate or the ability to unite the progressive movement under one umbrella.

Therefore, the progressive movement must get behind individuals in their community who are part of the movement and who are willing to run for local office.

Citizen candidates may not win and may, in fact, spoil the race for a “lesser of two evils” candidate, but this should not be the focus and certainly of no concern. The primary goal would be to break the back of this corrupt, corporate-owned political system and willingly to choose not to vote for either “head” of this two-headed monster.

These local races are an opportunity for the progressive movement to flex its muscle and show the Democratic Party it is willing to put its vote where its mouth is and prove, once and for all, that the progressive movement can no longer to taken for granted.

Unless we can unite behind individual candidates from among our ranks, the U.S. progressive movement is dead.

For inspiration, short bio and link about Jane Addams.
Subject: Jane Addams: Biography from Answers.com

A co-founder of Chicago’s Hull-House social settlement, Jane Addams was a reformer whose efforts earned her the 1931 Nobel Peace Prize (shared with Nicholas Murray Butler). Addams and her longtime companion Ellen Gates Starr founded the Hull-House settlement in 1889 as a center for social services for poor immigrants. Within a few years Addams had broadened her goals to include legislative protection for women and children, advocating women’s suffrage, a juvenile court system, labor laws and compulsory education. She also became internationally famous as an advocate for peace and was a founder of the Women’s Peace Party and the International League for Peace and Freedom. Although her pacifism and efforts at social reform led some to denounce her as an anarchist, socialist or communist, by the end of her career many of the social reforms she advocated had become federal policy.

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.

May 25, 1986: An estimated 7 million Americans participated in Hands Across America, forming a line across the country from Los Angeles to New York to raise public awareness of the issues of hunger and homelessness in the U.S. Participants paid ten dollars to reserve their place in line; the proceeds were donated to local charities to fight hunger and help the homeless.

May 26, 1969: John Lennon and Yoko Ono (along with her daughter Kyoko) held their second Bed-in for Peace at the Queen Elizabeth Hotel in Montreal, Quebec. A late-night rendition of “Give Peace a Chance” recorded in the hotel room, reached No.14 on the Billboard charts.

May 30, 1868: Memorial Day, originally known as Decoration Day, was first observed when two women in Columbus, Mississippi, placed flowers on the graves of Civil War soldiers, both Confederate and Union. War widow Augusta Murdoch Sykes, one of the Columbus planners, pointed out that “after all, they are somebody’s sons.”

Pencil Shavings: A More Fitting Memorial
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.

As this is the Memorial Day weekend, people will be remembering all the fallen soldiers of our various military incursions. For me, the best way to honor their memory is to work to make war obsolete. Ed McCurdy — back in 1950 — put it better than I can.

Last Night I Had The Strangest Dream
Last night I had the strangest dream
I’d ever dreamed before
I dreamed the world had all agreed
To put an end to war

I dreamed I saw a mighty room
Filled with women and men
And the paper they were signing said
They’d never fight again

And when the paper was all signed
And a million copies made
They all joined hands and bowed their heads
And grateful pray’rs were prayed

And the people in the streets below
Were dancing ’round and ’round
While swords and guns and uniforms
Were scattered on the ground

Last night I had the strangest dream
I’d never dreamed before
I dreamed the world had all agreed
To put an end to war.

News You May Have Missed

Bail Out Your Own Damn Self!
The calamari salad was world-class. Still, my friend the CPA’s face screwed up. “You know what still has me pissed off? The bailouts. All wasted on CEO bonuses. But nobody cares!” I told him I thought people cared, but they didn’t know what they could do about it. “I’ll tell you what we should do,” he fumed. “Stop paying our taxes. And our mortgages. They can’t throw us all in jail! They can’t evict us all!” What should we demand? “The bailout money. Make ’em give back every cent to us, the people who need it…”

The Politics of Bait-and-Switch
After little more than 100 days in office, the Democrats, under the leadership of Barack Obama, have unleashed a slew of anti-environmental policies that would have enraged any reasonable conservationist during the Bush years. Take the delisting of the gray wolf in the Western Great Lakes and parts of the Northern Rockies, which was announced during the waning days of the Bush era and upheld by Obama earlier this spring…

Public Health Leaders Stress Climate Risk
When seasonal rains lift from the Mali skies, meningitis often follows. Dust-filled winds can elevate the disease’s effects by damaging tissue in a person’s nose or throat. If longer droughts become more common, as expected across the Sahel, the epidemic could intensify, researchers say. Connections between climate change and public health are not unique to West Africa. Worldwide, generations are expected to suffer as a result of historical and future greenhouse gas emissions, and the poor are most at risk…

Posted in Greener Times | Comments Off on May 25 – 31