Greener Times

Promoting a sustainable society…one day at a time.

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…

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