Greener Times

Promoting a sustainable society…one day at a time.

GT for May 4 – 10

Posted by Trey Smith on May 3, 2009

Greener Times for the Week of May 4 – 10

Volume 4 No. 3

an e-publication for Greens anywhere and everywhere

Trey Smith – Publisher/Editor

Tom Herring, Duff Badgley & Maryrose Asher – Columnists

In This Week’s Issue
* Fred Astaire in the White House
* Thoughts By the Way: Mayday, Mayday
* Our Climate Crisis: State Biofuels Resistance Campaign Starts
* Un-Spinning the Spin: Psyops Comes Home
* This Week in History
* Letters to the Editor
* Pencil Shavings: I’ve Been Down This Road Before!
* News You May Have Missed

Fred Astaire in the White House
by Michael Brownstein for Culture Change

This is an appeal, an open letter, a cry in the night: no matter how cranky it may make us to brush the stardust from our eyes, no matter how many friends we think we’ll lose by looking long and hard at what’s going on around us, let’s try to stay awake. Let’s not lose touch with what we really want for ourselves. Let’s not forget what we know about the nature of consumer capitalism: it is unsustainable and unworkable because it depends on infinite expansion in a finite world. It can only survive by a violent takeover of what belongs to others. Let’s not settle for halfway measures.

And let’s not wait for deliverance from on high.

Because the president we elected — out of so much hope for a definitive break with what came before — is not who he seems. It’s true that unlike the previous inhabitant of the White House (remember him?), Barack Obama is sane, intelligent, and mature. He’s responsive to what others think. He hopes to institute real change in education, health care, the environment.

But even with his great charisma and silver tongue, he’s a proper soldier for the system which is ravishing the planet. As he said in his inauguration speech in January, already aware of the huge financial mess he was inheriting, “We will not apologize for our way of life.”

What do these words mean? They mean that the mall-i-zation of the planet will continue. They mean that the commercialization of all of life will not stop. They mean that our massive so-called footprint will never be substantially downsized.

And they mean that the force which has erased indigenous cultures and plant and animal species, which has sullied our air and soil and water, will essentially not be called into question, no matter how many of its most glaring excesses may be curbed.

“We will not apologize for our way of life…” Let’s not forget who else used very similar words when insisting that America’s energy policy would remain unchanged, no matter how much devastation it might cause: Dick Cheney, soon after taking office in 2001.

Without the active support of those who are running this toxic show into the ground, Barack Obama would not have been nominated in the first place, much less elected. There is no more sure sign of this than the fact that his supposed nemesis, Hillary Clinton, became his Secretary of State.

Forgetting for a moment the eight schizoid years under George W. Bush, Obama’s appointees and the policies they represent form an unbroken line back through the Clinton era and beyond. Those in control of our society have always been in control. Decade after decade their names and identities change, but their outlook, their mindset, remains the same. Since infancy they’ve been raised to aggrandize, to capitalize on their advantage over others — whether “others” is defined as business competitors, indigenous people, foreign nations, or the fruits of the earth itself. This is the culture we have exported to the whole world. And once they get a taste of it, it seems that everybody wants more.

The distinction between Democrats and Republicans — again, except for the neocons let loose by George Jr. — has always been more negligible than we’ve cared to admit. The main difference is that Democrats, when in power, usually have shown concern for the less fortunate in our society. They’ve advanced social programs rather than contracting them. But the basic story line remains the same: in order to keep turning a perpetual profit, someone or something must be ripped off. The clubhouse filled with those who run things has never changed its size or location. It can be found within the high walls of the ruling class.

I’m not subscribing to a conspiracy theory here. Conspiracy theories are unprovable distractions, like the belief in UFOs. I’ll leave it to others to insist darkly that our new president is a member of the Illuminati, the invisible cabal which for centuries has supposedly been running the planet. I don’t think the greedy subset of humans drawn to naked, unlimited power are capable of trusting one another long enough to keep such plots afloat, so I won’t bother taking seriously, for example, the claim that Michelle Obama is flashing the secret gesture of Illuminati membership on the cover of Vogue magazine’s March issue.

Absurd? Of course. But how much more absurd than the program we humans are carrying around inside our heads of institutionalized scarcity and hardball competition? How much more irrational than the obscene military budgets the citizens of all nations pay for, year after year?

It’s become fashionable to call what the banks and other financial institutions did to this country a Ponzi scheme, but the same is true not only of capitalism but of Western civilization itself. It’s built on absence: the absence of all the indigenous people killed. It’s built on ballooning expenditures and the continual depletion of resources with — like the monetary structure on which it depends — nothing supporting it underneath. Nothing at all. And when mindless trust gives way to nameless fear… well, we’re now beginning to experience the consequences.

In order to understand how we may still be sleeping, let’s remember that we live in a relative universe. Everything exists in relation to something else. After eight years of subzero temperatures, of trying not to lose heart while locked in the deep freeze, when it’s suddenly 38 degrees and we’ve been let outside we feel expansive, liberated, optimistic. But defined in terms of what we actually need — a workable, fair, humane way of life — it’s nowhere near summer sunshine out there.

In fact, if we’re honest with ourselves regarding some of the moves Obama’s administration has made around the economy, the military, commerce, and agriculture, we’ll see that replacing Nero with Fred Astaire isn’t enough. Stands on issues like state secrets and the rights of detainees are too close for comfort to what came before. The soft shoe may be reassuring, but we deserve more.

The president addressing the marines at Camp LeJeune: “We will not let the pursuit of the perfect stand in the way of achievable goals.” But why not? Sure, this sounds level-headed and realistic, except that once these achievable goals go through the legislative wringer of compromise and payback, less than ever will remain.

And two years from now, if (as is certainly possible) the country’s still in trouble because of halting economic measures and the Republicans regain control of Congress, where will those goals be then?

Let’s not forget what we’ve always known about politicians: their primary motivation is to get elected and, once elected, to stay in power. These two things are often in conflict. That’s why, for example, there’s disappointment around the gap between what candidate Obama said in Ohio and Michigan regarding NAFTA and the signals he’s sent since taking office. There’s disappointment about his hesitation to really hold accountable the very banks and financial institutions which have brought the country to the brink.

And there’s disappointment about his determination to extend the war in Afghanistan. Which looks to include Pakistan as well.

Fear of terrorism is being used in the same way fear of communism was used in previous generations. For decades we’ve established more and more military bases around the world, allowing us to grab any source of raw material we deem necessary. The fact that other nation-states are playing the same game is no excuse for our behavior. The only way to change is to change, pure and simple. Because all human predators are enemies of the gods, enemies of creation.

Real change can only mean a change of consciounsess. On the social level, it means things like a new way of educating our children, alternative forms of exchange and energy, local agriculture. On the macro level, it means adopting an entirely new system, such as Herman Daly’s Steady State Economy. This will only come about if we risk what seems impossible. But maybe it isn’t impossible.

Let’s not forget that many of the changes happening in our lives now are taking place outside the political structure. We need that structure with its cynical baggage and tunnel vision much less than we think.

We’re not interested in dragging solutions from the past into the future. If they didn’t work then, why should they work now? We’re not interested in lifelong defensive postures. We have no more patience for indulging our fear and paranoia simply because that’s what our so-called enemies are doing. Let’s either go for broke or “fade away into our own parade.”

In fact, we have no choice. Systemic breakdown awaits us otherwise. We can no longer maintain American hegemony, even the reasonable, personable, happy-face version. We can no longer maintain rampant materialism, even of the green variety.

Remember Obama’s campaign slogan? “Yes we can.”

Yes we can what? Stand the robot of monoculture up on its wheels again? Our challenge goes beyond universal health insurance or fixing the economy or saving the environment. In fact, it’s no less than pulling the plug on 8000 years of Empire. We need to rid ourselves of what has made us a consuming, semi-psychotic collective.

And that means we have no further use for nationalism, either. Flushing down the tubes that pattern of knee-jerk reaction to the Other constitutes the most important change of all. Let’s take a cue from the Internet, all lit up around the globe with communication among people having no more identity than their names.

“We are one” is the only acceptable slogan. What’s happening to the Bushmen in Botswana is also happening to us. What’s happening to the Amazon rainforest is also happening to us.

Obama’s narrative that everything went wrong only eight years ago disregards the history of this country and the policies which for decades have set us on a collision course with reality. George W. Bush did not invent military hegemony. He did not magically create uncontrolled greed or global warming. He did not loose on the world mortgage-backed securities and other forms of “toxic waste.” (What about the toxic waste in landfills that reach to the sky? Can’t we show the kids in our schools how the two are related?)

Naomi Klein reminds us in a recent interview that it was Bill Clinton who periodically bombed Iraq and tightened economic sanctions which killed one million Iraqis. It was Bill Clinton who axed Depression-era restrictions preventing investment banks from also being commercial banks. It was he and Alan Greenspan who resisted regulating the huge derivatives industry.

As we’ve seen, these policies were in place long before Bush and Cheney took them to new levels. Let’s not forget that the United States didn’t recover from the Depression until the Second World War amped the economy up to speed, and that this lesson was not lost after the war. Ever since then, the internal contradictions of a system which depends on limitless growth have been dealt with by a ballooning military industry. They’ve been dealt with by a post-modern colonialism which, now called economic globalization, nevertheless fulfills the same function: eviscerating less developed cultures around the world for profit.

If we succumb to amnesia about this, then, as Naomi Klein says, “you do exactly what Obama is doing. You resurrect the Clinton economic and foreign policy apparatus, and you appoint Larry Summers, the key architect of the economic policy that has imploded at this moment. The amount of money that’s at stake in the bailout, if you include everything — the deposit guarantees, the loans, Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, AIG — is now up to $9 trillion. The American GDP is only $14 trillion. So they’ve put more than half of the American economy on the line to try and fix a mess that actually cannot be fixed in this way.”

In our desire to be reassured, let’s not lose track of the fact that Obama’s bailout plan refuses to admit the obvious: the banks are zombies, they’re the walking dead, and as such they should be allowed to go under or else be nationalized. And the people responsible for this state of affairs need to be held responsible. Otherwise the freefall of foreclosures, unemployment, and frozen credit may go on for longer than we care to imagine.

And it’s equally important that we come to terms with our recent history instead of being so quick to consign to oblivion the criminal acts of the last eight years. Obama is already making noises for impunity, for not dwelling on the past, for brushing ourselves off, picking ourselves up, and getting on with our lives.

Naomi Klein again: “So much comes down to whether there’s going to be any accountability for what happened, whether it’s the illegal occupation of Iraq or torture or the economic crimes that led to this disaster.”

Is she right? Do we have no choice but waiting around to find out?

Instead, no matter how unfashionable this may sound, we need to protest. Rather than finding clever new ways to beat the cellphone bills that have suddenly become onerous, now’s the time for something we Americans seemingly have forgotten how to do, as opposed to the Greeks, the Latvians, the French, even the Chinese. We need to mobilize.

We need to turn off that comforting DVD of Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers — of Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton — dancing across our field of vision, and make our voices heard.

Otherwise, let’s just head down to Baja and hang at the beach. After we’ve had our fill of swimming, we’ll turn and watch from afar as the global power game vaporizes, whirling like a dust devil out on the desert floor. Maybe there’ll even be some water left to bathe in before we go to sleep under the stars

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

As pent-up anger floods the streets of our big coastal cities, it’s May Day in my town. The sun is out, digging is in, and the mason bees have plugged their nests. Come Fall, we will be harvesting the fruits of pleasant labor when the first signs appear that the administration has lost civil control of the US . By next spring we will still be living the fruited life but events will have overtaken the administration’s schedule to emplace a benevolent police state, and we will be greeted by the raw product. The international distress call will not be answered because too many towns, like mine, want to hang onto the good life.

That popped out as I sat down to describe my town. Putting the horse back in front of the cart, here goes: Vashon is such an agreeable oasis, just minutes away from the hustle for lucre, the glow of the hot spots, that white upscale families have displaced the eggs, Indians, and berries of yore. That’s why I am here, and had gentrified a five acre chicken ranch. Berry crops went out with the eighties, but as long as there are deer we can still call ourselves rural. Socially, we are liberal, loyal democrats, and into the arts. Strong, socially-minded clubs join with the PTSA in urging bonds for our schools. The annual strawberry festival (sadly the berries themselves are imported) brings out the best in our civic instincts. Our Community Council provides an open forum for many topics. Bill Moyer’s Backbone Campaign is known nationally for its creative and effective stewardship of Democracy. Our produce market is modest but well patronized. Our Land Trust achieves many deeds of preservation, it’s our ecological anchor. Last week thieves stole two fourteen foot clear douglas fir quarter-sawn beams from the Forest Stewards sawmill. Alcohol use by teens is above the state average. Drug use is high. Vandalism is chronic. Our excellent Family and Human Services organization is hard pressed to keep up. Vashon has no town government.

You see, we are an unincorporated rural area which allows us to pass the buck for civic potatoes on to the County. Our Council does rally concerted action on some issues but, as you see, not on civics. Our radio station is called the Voice of Vashon, but we speak several languages. There is no civic voice of Vashon, no town government. If there were then by now we would no longer have to send our trash stateside, we would be making our own building materials, and our water use would read out in every kitchen. If there were, then long ago we would have forced Patty Murray to vote against war. But that would have interfered with the fruited life.

The international distress call, Mayday, Mayday, Mayday derives from the French for come help me, venez m’aider. The daily news for these past decades have been calls for help from our country to our towns. We have turned a deaf ear, just like every other town in the entire United States, except for a count on the fingers of one hand. Towns have unthinkingly turned the soul of our country over to assorted organizations and brave peace groups.

Mayday, Mayday, Mayday

Our Climate Crisis: State Biofuels Resistance Campaign Starts
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.

One Earth has enjoyed great success with King County. King County dropped all biofuels last year. We may be ready to enjoy similar success with the City of Seattle, depending on Seattle mayor Greg Nickels’ level of tyranny and corruption (see below). That leaves the State of Washington as the major biofuels player in this region.

Here’s the message I recently sent to WA state senator Mary Margaret Haugen, chair of the WA Senate Transportation Committee. Join our campaign! We need you!

Dear Senator Haugen,

Our organization, One Earth Climate Action Group, opposes any implementation of RCW 43.19.642 that holds “effective June 1, 2009, state agencies as a whole are required to use a minimum of 20% biodiesel to operate diesel-powered vessels, vehicles, and construction equipment.”

This law is already forcing the University of Washington to burn biofuels the U.N. has condemned as a “Crime Against Humanity” because they rob land from food crop production. As you may know, the only large-scale biofuels available, and likely to be available, are crop-based.

We ask you to lead the WA legislature to not only exempt state ferries from this law, but rescind the law entirely. We ask for a meeting with you this session in Olympia to discuss how imperative it is to rescind this law.

King County has already stopped using biofuels. King County Metro, formerly the largest biofuels consumer in the NW, quit all biofuels cold in June, 2008, citing excessive cost and “the science”.

The City of Seattle is poised to take a similar step. City Council President Richard Conlin has vowed legislation, if the city administration does not act first, to “prohibit” the city from using food-based biofuels. Conlin, like King County, cites the excessive costs of biofuels plus the science.

Currently, the University of Washington, anticipating RCW 43.19.642, has moved its fleet vehicles to a B-20 (20%) blend of American midwest soy-biodiesel purchased from Associated Petroleum Products (A.P.P.) in Tacoma. This is a budget and environmental disaster.

A.P.P. charges UW $.25 per gallon extra for its B-20 biodiesel. Multiple that figure by the huge fuel volume burned by the entire WA fleet of ferries, trucks, cars and construction machinery, and you get the staggering cost RCW 43.19.642 is forcing on the state.

State ferry managers, alone, estimate the biodiesel mandate will add $8 million to their fuel tab over the next two years, according to the Oregon press.

The state B-20 law, and all WA biofuels laws, are enormously counter-productive. They inflict grievous climate harm to our Earth now, trigger starvation around the world and help break our WA budget.

All WA biofuel laws miss the central point: all current generation biofuels, like Seattle and WA use, are much worse for our Earth than petrol. So, WA should be using no such biofuels now.

The climate science condemning use of these biofuels is overwhelming.

Two quotes from David Tilman from the University of Minnesota throw the biofuels land use issue into stark relief. Tilman co-authored one of the two peer-reviewed biofuels studies published in February, 2008 that were headlined in the New York Times, TIME, and Newsweek.

“If you use farmland in North America to grow biofuels, you’re forcing a farmer somewhere else to clear-cut forest to grow food crops. You’ve effectively cut down a rain forest.”

“We looked at all of the current biofuels that are being made around the world and asked if they were causing native ecosystems to be turned into land that would be used to grow the crop. Essentially, all of them are doing that.”

— David Tilman, one of the lead authors of the “Land Clearing and the Biofuel Carbon Debt” study published in SCIENCE, February, 2008. Quote is from the March 14, 2008 issue of Newsweek.

This rainforest destruction releases massive amounts of carbon dioxide, greatly worsening our Climate Crisis.

Tilman’s study joins other peer-reviewed, published scientific studies that condemn crop-based biofuels—regardless of where they are grown–for worsening, not mitigating, our Climate Crisis. This means that all WA biofuels laws intended to create a market for home-grown WA-produced biofuels are enormously destructive to our Earth.

We would like the chance this session to fully present to you and your committee the science condemning crop-based biofuels, including so-called ‘2nd gen’ biofuels like cellulosic ethanol from switchgrass.

This is a matter of great urgency. We hope to hear from you.

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

The Exception to the Rulers

The Exception to the Rulers

“Psyops Comes Home,” the title of this week’s column, is a chapter title in Amy Goodman’s book The Exception to the Rulers. Goodman reveals how the Department of Defense has used psychological warfare (psyops), in its own words, to “induce or reinforce foreign attitudes and behavior favorable to the US.” There is a specific goal through psyops of influencing emotions and objective reasoning and, according to the Department of Defense, “ultimately the behavior of governments, organizations, groups, and individuals.”

A recent article by Dahr Jamail, “Occupying Hearts and Minds,” gives an example of psyops. Jamail explains how the US military is paying salaries of up to $400,000 to recruit social scientists to gather information about Iraqi and Afghani cultures and to share this information with combat teams. Jamail finds this new form of psychological warfare to be deeply disturbing and quotes Iraqis as telling him that the occupation is “shredding the fabric of Iraqi society and culture.” He further states that “anthropology, in particular, has been referred to through history as the ‘handmaiden of colonialism.’”

That the US should be using psyops as part of their military operations is troubling, but not surprising. However, the focus of this column will be the use of psyops by the US government on its own civilian population.

A case in point is the recent outbreak of swine flu or HIN1 as it is now called. This potential “pandemic” is another in a series of dire warnings on the part of the government and the media, the unofficial voice of government propaganda. The latest in a string of fear-mongering predictions on the part of the government, the swine flu potential pandemic joins warnings of another terrorist attack, global warming, complete economic collapse, and the loss by millions of their homes and jobs.

The reality is that worldwide only 236 deaths have been attributed to HINI, whereas last year 36,000 adults and 83 children died in the USA alone as a result of the seasonal flu.

I am not trying to argue that none of these calamitous events will occur, but I am attaching a more sinister motive. The government and the media may have finally pushed it a little too far in that their underlying motives are becoming much more transparent.

Going back to the subject of psyops, the 1948 Smith-Mundt Act prohibits the US government from using propaganda domestically. Now that the facts are out about how the Bush administration lied to the American public to get their support for the Iraq war, it is indisputable that the Pentagon orchestrated a domestic propaganda campaign in violation of the Smith-Mundt Act.

So why is the Obama administration continuing this same domestic propaganda technique? I do not have the answer, of course, but can speculate that he also needs to sell his wars in Afghanistan and Pakistan. Also, we may be seeing social engineering as we have never seen before with the techniques fine tuned to an art form.

For instance, instead of using the term “quarantine,” we hear the term “social distancing” to refer to steps that Mexico is taking and what the US may need to take if indeed H1N1 turns into a pandemic. Even the word “pandemic” instead of flu “outbreak” is inserted into every sentence of any news report.

By whipping up the civilian population to be in a steady state of fear, “Big Brother” becomes more appealing as the protector and the one to look to guide us out of our economic problems, to solve global warming, and to keep the “evildoers” from causing harm. It also makes the problems seem so overwhelming that it effectively discourages individual action.

What can we do? Try to observe these events with all the critical thinking skills you can muster. Pick up on the new phrases they are using so you can understand how they infiltrate our thought processes and influence our actions. Most importantly, do not give up individual involvement in issues that are important to you no matter how futile it may seem at the moment.

There is a Chinese curse “May he live in interesting times.” Unfortunately, we are indeed living in interesting times, but do not give in to despair but keep Standing up to the Madness and, by all means, do not drink the Kool-Aid.

References:
The Exception to the Rulers by Amy Goodman (book)
Standing up to the Madness by Amy Goodman and David Goodman (book)
Occupying Hearts and Minds
Swine Flu Reality Check

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 4, 1970: Ohio National Guard troops opened fire on anti-war protesters at Kent State University, killing four students and wounding nine others, one permanently disabled. The previous day, President Nixon had announced a widening of the Vietnam War with bombing in neighboring Cambodia. There were major campus protests around the country with students occupying university buildings to organize and to discuss the war and other issues.

May 9, 1967: In April, World Heavyweight Boxing Champion Muhammad Ali had refused induction into the U.S. Army based on his religious convictions. He claimed, “I ain’t got no quarrel with those Vietcong.” On this day, following his indictment by 24 hours, he was stripped of his title and his license to fight by the World Boxing Association. In June, a court found him guilty of draft evasion, fined him $10,000, and sentenced him to five years in prison. He remained free, pending numerous appeals, but was still barred from fighting for three years.

May 10, 1994: Nelson Mandela was inaugurated as South Africa’s first black president. He had won the country’s first election in which all South Africans could vote, regardless of race. Mandela had spent nearly three decades imprisoned for his part in the struggle to attain political and civil rights for black and colored citizens. This ended more than three centuries of white rule, beginning with the Dutch in 1652.

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: I’ve Been Down This Road Before!
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.

Recently, the Obama administration has come out to say what almost everyone already knew — that the former administration was [illegally] torturing prisoners. The big O says that torture is baaad, but we’re going to look forward, not backward. In other words, the chances are next to nil that anyone of any importance will be held accountable for being bad boys or girls!

I’ve been down this road before. Back in the early 90s, I was a graduate student at Pittsburg State University (PSU). I was elected to the Student Government Association (SGA) Senate as a Graduate rep. It soon came to my attention that SGA repeatedly didn’t follow its own rules nor many university regulations. So, with a few of my comrades in a “socialist” organization, we set out to try to remedy this sad situation.

We tried to point out a few things in a friendly and non-confrontational manner. SGA simply ignored us. We probably would have dropped the whole thing, but then SGA did something really egregious — they bribed students to vote in the SGA elections!

During the Spring elections, SGA promised to provide each student who voted with a coupon for a free pizza at Pizza Hut. Not only did this act violate university policy, it also violated state law! So, we went to SGA to point this out and, not surprisingly, they ignored us. Next, we went to the administration and they ignored us too. Finally, one of my mates noticed in the student handbook that students could bring charges against university organizations via a “Student Judicial Court”.

Unfortunately, because the “court” was rarely utilized, no one had bothered — per university regulations — to appoint any justices at the beginning of the school year. The Office of Students Affairs charged SGA — the DEFENDANT in the proceedings themselves — to select the student justices. We countered that this constituted a direct conflict of interest and, you guessed it, the administration ignored us.

As we prepared for our day in court, I contacted the Attorney General’s office for the State of Kansas. I explained our concerns and they mailed me a legal opinion that the PSU SGA had violated state law. I presented this memo in open student court to the utter dismay of both SGA and the school’s administration. The upshot of all of this is that we won in a unanimous decision!!

Now that we had won our case, we expected that the election in question would be thrown out as tainted. That certainly seemed like the logical course of action to take. Unfortunately, foreshadowing the Obama administration, the court ruled that, while the election had been tainted by illegal actions, they weren’t going to overturn the results. Instead, they promised to rewrite some rules (SGA habitually ignores their own rules) to ensure this would never happen again.

Over the course of one and half years, our little ragtag group of do-gooders took SGA to student court over 20 times. We won every single case, yet every illegal action was allowed to stand. It was absolutely maddening!!!

What’s worse, it didn’t stop SGA from breaking their own rules and/or university regulations. After we graduated, they just picked up where they left off. That’s a lesson President Obama should take to heart.

News You May Have Missed

Youth and the Myth of Post-Racial Society
With the election of Barack Obama, it has been argued that not only will the social state be renewed in the spirit and legacy of the New Deal, but that the punishing racial state and its vast complex of disciplinary institutions will, if not come to an end, at least be significantly reformed. From this perspective, Obama’s presidency not only represents a post-racial victory, but also signals a new space of post-racial harmony. While ‘post-racial’ may mean less overt racism, the idea that we have moved into a post-racial period in American history is not merely premature – it is an act of willful denial and ignorance…

Throw the Bums Out — All of Them
The United States Senate took a swipe at the spirit of May Day in a spectacular show of callous indifference when it voted down a bill to provide limited assistance to citizens at risk for losing their homes. The final vote was 45 in favor, 51 opposed to Senator Richard Durbin’s (D-IL) mortgage assistance bill. The original version of the bill covered some but not all of those requiring assistance. The final version was even more restricted. It applied to only homeowners currently in foreclosure as a result of actions prior to the start of 2009. The denial of assistance to citizens by Senators is ironic given the fact that the origins of the current economic crisis came from Senate legislative actions in 1999 and 2000. While their avarice knows no bounds, their memory suffers…

Air Pollution Endangers Lives of Six in 10 Americans
Six out of every 10 Americans – 186.1 million people – live in areas where air pollution endangers lives, according to the 10th annual American Lung Association State of the Air report released today. Some of the biggest sources of air pollution – dirty power plants, dirty diesel engines and ocean-going vessels – also worsen global warming, the Lung Association says in State of the Air 2009…

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