Greener Times

Promoting a sustainable society…one day at a time.

June 22 – 28

Posted by Trey Smith on June 20, 2009

Greener Times for the Week of June 22 – 28
Volume 4 No. 10
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
* No Safe Amount: The Handshake Theory of Chemical Toxicity
* Eating Meat Is Not Natural
* Ranked Choice Voting Event
* 9/11 Blueprint for Truth
* Thoughts By the Way: (On Vacation)
* Our Climate Crisis: Seattle Quits Biofuels – The Follow-Up
* Un-Spinning the Spin: If You Are Not Part of the Solution, You Are Part of the Problem
* This Week in History
* Pencil Shavings: Not So Far Off the Grid
* News You May Have Missed

No Safe Amount: The Handshake Theory of Chemical Toxicity
by Christine Lepisto for TreeHugger

The medieval physician Paracelsus said: “Poison is in everything, and no thing is without poison. The dosage makes it either a poison or a remedy.” Often quoted in paraphrase as the dose makes the poison, this truism has dominated regulation and chemical management for centuries. Agencies strive to keep people and the environment healthy by establishing the “safe” level of a chemical.

At the same time that regulatory systems have proceeded on the “safe” level theory, biochemists have expanded the state of knowledge about the role of chemical messengers in the body. And the clash of cultures is about to change the way we think about chemicals in our lives. What does it mean for you?

How to Understand Chemical Safety

This change can be compared to Einstein’s General Theory of Relativity. As ordinary individuals, we experience the laws of nature at a high level. Our gut reactions to the world around us stem from that experience. Just as we can understand an apple dropping from a tree, or judge the speed of traffic to cross a street, we know that a glass of wine with dinner feels fine but a bottle of vodka after work will end up as a raging headache.

But explain the theory of time dilation, the idea that traveling close to the speed of light slows down time, to we ordinary mortals and we are stunned at the thought. You might also be stunned to consider what a delicately balanced organism you inhabit at the molecular level. At this level, chemicals act more like a handshake than like that third pint of beer.

Think of it this way: under the dose makes the poison argument, if you send 100,000 letters of application out to random addresses, you might land a job. Under the handshake theory, if you network with ten people in a position to offer a job that fits your skills, you will probably be employed soon.

What does it mean to us?

In the first place, it means that the chemical testing we currently do to establish if a chemical is safe may not be sufficient. In particular, we may not be targeting nor understanding the effects of extremely low levels of chemical contaminants during critical phases when the organism is “listening” for chemical messengers. This occurs, for example, during fetal development and during changes that occur in puberty. The first question we need to be asking is: does this chemical mimic any of the messenger chemicals that organisms depend upon for survival?

In the second place, it means that we will see changes in the way regulators deal with chemicals. That is good if you think about reducing the number of five-legged frogs, but can lead to clashes if you think about the effect that banning or restricting chemicals might have on the economy or our way of life. Are we doomed to suffer a life without the convenience of plastic products that use bisphenol-A or the phthalates DEHP, BBP and DBP.

It will indubitably hurt. But stay tuned for continuing news on the green alternatives to chemical hazards which could usher in a booming new economy based on better chemistry.

Eating Meat Is Not Natural
by Kathy Freston for AlterNet

Going through the reader feedback on some of my recent articles, I noticed the frequently stated notion that eating meat was an essential step in human evolution. While this notion may comfort the meat industry, it’s simply not true, scientifically.

Dr. T. Colin Campbell, professor emeritus at Cornell University and author of The China Study, explains that in fact, we only recently (historically speaking) began eating meat, and that the inclusion of meat in our diet came well after we became who we are today. He explains that “the birth of agriculture only started about 10,000 years ago at a time when it became considerably more convenient to herd animals. This is not nearly as long as the time [that] fashioned our basic biochemical functionality (at least tens of millions of years) and which functionality depends on the nutrient composition of plant-based foods.”

That jibes with what Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine President Dr. Neal Barnard says in his book, The Power of Your Plate, in which he explains that “early humans had diets very much like other great apes, which is to say a largely plant-based diet, drawing on foods we can pick with our hands. Research suggests that meat-eating probably began by scavenging — eating the leftovers that carnivores had left behind. However, our bodies have never adapted to it. To this day, meat-eaters have a higher incidence of heart disease, cancer, diabetes, and other problems.”

There is no more authoritative source on anthropological issues than paleontologist Dr. Richard Leakey, who explains what anyone who has taken an introductory physiology course might have discerned intuitively — that humans are herbivores. Leakey notes that “[y]ou can’t tear flesh by hand, you can’t tear hide by hand … We wouldn’t have been able to deal with food source that required those large canines” (although we have teeth that are called “canines,” they bear little resemblance to the canines of carnivores).

In fact, our hands are perfect for grabbing and picking fruits and vegetables. Similarly, like the intestines of other herbivores, ours are very long (carnivores have short intestines so they can quickly get rid of all that rotting flesh they eat). We don’t have sharp claws to seize and hold down prey. And most of us (hopefully) lack the instinct that would drive us to chase and then kill animals and devour their raw carcasses. Dr. Milton Mills builds on these points and offers dozens more in his essay, “A Comparative Anatomy of Eating.”

The point is this: Thousands of years ago when we were hunter-gatherers, we may have needed a bit of meat in our diets in times of scarcity, but we don’t need it now. Says Dr. William C. Roberts, editor of the American Journal of Cardiology, “Although we think we are, and we act as if we are, human beings are not natural carnivores. When we kill animals to eat them, they end up killing us, because their flesh, which contains cholesterol and saturated fat, was never intended for human beings, who are natural herbivores.”

Sure, most of us are “behavioral omnivores” — that is, we eat meat, so that defines us as omnivorous. But our evolution and physiology are herbivorous, and ample science proves that when we choose to eat meat, that causes problems, from decreased energy and a need for more sleep up to increased risk for obesity, diabetes, heart disease, and cancer.

Old habits die hard, and it’s convenient for people who like to eat meat to think that there is evidence to support their belief that eating meat is “natural” or the cause of our evolution. For many years, I too, clung to the idea that meat and dairy were good for me; I realize now that I was probably comforted to have justification for my continued attachment to the traditions I grew up with.

But in fact top nutritional and anthropological scientists from the most reputable institutions imaginable say categorically that humans are natural herbivores, and that we will be healthier today if we stick with our herbivorous roots. It may be inconvenient, but alas, it is the truth.

Ranked Choice Voting Event
Submitted by Joe Szwaja

Hi, friends! Hope you can make this important event to promote Ranked Choice Voting in King County.

* Ranked Choice Voting (a.k.a. Instant Runoff Voting) has been enacted for UW campus elections

* Ranked Choice Voting is now the law in Pierce County elections

* Ranked Choice Voting is being officially studied by the King County Citizens Election Oversight Committee (Thank you to everyone who lobbied to get RCV to this point for King County!!!!)

Come find out how we can enact Ranked Choice Voting for City of Seattle and King County elections, and protect RCV where it has been enacted!

Friday, June 26, 7:00 pm
University Friends Meeting House, 4001 9th Ave NE in Seattle

Featured speakers/performers:

Krist Novoselic is the former bassist in the Seattle-born grunge band Nirvana and currently the bassist for the band Flipper. He founded JAMPAC, an organization that works to protect the rights of free expression. He authored Of Grunge and Government: Let’s Fix this Broken Democracy. He is also a poet and gardener at his farm in southwestern Washington. Hear Krist play a few tunes while panel members and the audience try to play along!

Dr. Rich Anderson-Connolly is a professor of comparative sociology at the University of Puget Sound, and was the leader of the successful campaign to enact Ranked Choice Voting in Pierce County. Rich will tell us how his group pulled it off, how opponents of democracy have continued to attack RCV there, and in particular how powerful interests are trying again to repeal RCV for Pierce County this November

Erik Connell is a former intern at FairVote, in Takoma Park, Maryland, where he helped with numerous efforts to enact election reform around the country. Erik is returning to his home town of Tacoma, Washington to help stop what is expected to be a well-funded effort to repeal RCV in Pierce County.

Joe Szwaja is a former member of the Madison City Council, current president of Ranked Choice Voting for Washington who led the successful effort to get RCV studied by the King County Council. He will tell us how our efforts have gotten RCV one step closer to reality in King County and what we can do to help get it on the ballot.

See the unveiling of the new DVD … If It Plays in Pierce County with footage from the grassroots testimony that convinced the King County Charter Review Commission to study RCV .Donations are gratefully accepted to help fund the DVD and our other ongoing efforts to enact RCV in King County and throughout Washington.

To learn more:

9/11 Blueprint for Truth
Submitted by Dr. Richard Curtis

Half of America questions the “official” 9/11 story – find out why at Seattle’s Town Hall on Saturday, June 27 at 7PM.


An evening with Richard Gage, AIA, founder of Architects and Engineers for 9/11 Truth; and Seattle Firefighter, Erik Lawyer, founder of Firefighters for 9/11 Truth. Town Hall is at 1119 8th Ave. in Seattle, reduced parking at the Convention Center (1 long block away, save your ticket). The event will be hosted by Seattle Green, Dr. Richard Curtis.

Our Climate Crisis: Seattle Quits Biofuels – The Follow-Up
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.

“It wasn’t long after Seattle city government got its first taste of biodiesel five years ago that it was hooked. By 2009, it had a 73,000 gallon-per-month habit. Last month, the city and its massive fleet of vehicles dropped that habit, cold turkey.” — KING 5 TV broadcast, 6-18-09

One Earth Climate Action Group is claiming victory.

Since 2007, One Earth has been conducting street protests and direct negotiations with the City of Seattle to pressure them to make this decision. One Earth also placed Seattle Mayor Greg Nickels under Citizens’ Arrest in March, 2008 for ‘Biofuel Crime Against Humanity’. Police declined to arrest One Earth founder, Duff Badgley, when he stormed the stage where Nickels spoke at the 2009 Green Festival.

What do the Associated Press, United Press International, National Public Radio, and The Seattle Post-Intelligencer and have in common with Seattle’s KING 5 TV? They all ran the big story this week about the City of Seattle quitting biofuels.

It is a sensational story. It shows how Seattle and King County—the Northwest’s biggest city and Washington’s most populous county—have become the epicenters for a crucial climate movement: resisting biofuels ruin. Both Seattle and King County have now quit crop-based biofuels. Before they quit cold turkey, these two governments collectively burned almost 3 million gallons of biodiesel per year. They were the largest government biofuels consumers in the Northwest.

Getting this story carried regionally and nationally was crucial to One Earth’s 2-year-old campaign to force King County and the City of Seattle to quit biofuels. Public perception and behavior must be changed. We must resist the tsunami of biofuel insanity sweeping the state, the nation and the globe.

Crop-based biofuels are the only biofuels available for mass consumption. If we are to have a Livable Planet, all crop-based biofuels must be prohibited.

All crop-based biofuels, the only biofuels available for mass consumption, do two things:

(1) Cause hunger and starvation affecting hundreds of millions of humans. This why the U.N has called these biofuels a “Crime Against Humanity”.

(2) Cause rainforest destruction releasing massive amounts of carbon dioxide and greatly worsening our Climate Crisis.

Join us.

We are targeting Washington State next. Washington government knowingly participates in Crimes Against Humanity and Crimes Against the Earth with its immensely harmful biofuel mandates.

Un-Spinning the Spin: If You Are Not Part of the Solution, You Are Part of the Problem
Maryrose Asher is a former Chair of the Green Party of Washington State and a tireless activist of many causes.

Another supplemental war funding bill has passed through congress thanks to the Democrats.

I agree with what Bruce Gagnon, Coordinator of Global Network Against Weapons & Nuclear Power in Space, had to say on his blog dated Wednesday, June 17, 2009

I am sick to my stomach. I watched in total horror yesterday the sad performance by the Democratic Party as they begged, borrowed, and stole the votes to pass the $106 billion war supplemental in the House of Misrepresentatives.

One particularly disgusting moment was watching House Majority Leader Steney Hoyer (D-MD) stand up and invoke the name of Ronald Reagan to sell the war package.

Progressive blogger Jane Hamsher, meanwhile, reported on Monday that it appeared Obama’s Chief of Staff Rahm Emanuel was “cutting deals with Republicans to go easy on them in the 2010 elections in exchange for votes.” In the end, the White House got five Republicans to vote for the funding, including New York Republican John McHugh, the man President Obama nominated two weeks ago to be Army secretary.

Of the $106 billion, $80 billion goes to military operations. Some of the other allocations were:

1. A $5 billion leverage to secure $108 billion US line of credit for the International Monetary Fund to bailout European banks.
2. $1 billion for the “cash for clunkers” program to give rebates to folks who trade in their gas guzzlers for more “fuel efficient” cars.
3. $7.7 billion to respond to the flu epidemic.
4. $10 billion in development and security aid for Pakistan, Iraq, Mexico, the nation of Georgia, and others.
5. $534 million for 185,000 service members affected by stop-loss orders who had their enlistments involuntarily extended. They will get $500 a month for every month their enlistment was extended.
6. $2.17 billion (thanks to John Murtha getting some “pork”) for eight C-17 transport planes that the Pentagon did not want.

As reported by the Associated Press, “House passes $106 billion war funding bill,” the prohibition on releasing torture photos of detainees was removed, but notice Obama’s guarantee below.

Republicans also objected to a decision by House-Senate negotiators to remove a provision prohibiting the release of photos depicting U.S. troops abusing detainees. It was taken out, “at the demands of the fringe left,” said House Republican leader John Boehner, R-Ohio.

Obama, in negotiating the removal of the provision, guaranteed that he would stop the release of photos showing detainee abuse.

Another little-mentioned fact was the denial of $80 million to close the detention center at Guantanamo Bay that Obama requested. I argue this is, in fact, another concession to President Obama since the details of where to move the detainees has not been settled, especially since the Obama Department of Justice continues to deny them their right to habeas corpus. Congress just provided an excuse for why Guantanamo will not be closed so Obama does not have to face the public with yet another broken campaign promise.

But, not all the blame can be laid at the feet of our elected representatives. The Progressive Movement as a whole is to blame, especially those who cling to the Democratic Party.

How many of you have heard this remark from your Democratic friends, associates, and relatives (as posted at  in an article titled “Obama a Very Smooth Liar” by John R. MacArthur).

And, John McCain + Sarah Palin would be better????

We weren’t duped, we had no choice. Anyone who believes that the People of the United States have any say in what the fascists (corporations and government) do are just as duped as you say we are.
Amitola | 06.17.09 – 2:42 pm

In reply, was this follow-up post:

Don’t give me that tired bullshit “we had no choice”, Amitola. You had a choice!!! You could’ve stayed home and not voted and not contributed to the sham that is America’s election system OR you could’ve voted with a conscience and voted for Cynthia McKinney or Ralph Nader or one of the Socialist Equality Party candidates. And don’t give me that tired shit about throwing away your vote on a candidate who has no chance of winning. Only idiotic Democrats use that tired and cowardly excuse. YOU and others like you got exactly what you voted for with Status Quobama. Unfortunately, the rest of us who didn’t vote for the Imperialist of a Darker Color are having to pay for your idiocy as well. Stick that in your pipe and smoke it, Amitola. I’m sick of the stupid excuses for doing the wrong thing!
Kris | 06.17.09 – 3:05 pm

As long as those in the Progressive Movement continue to see the Democratic Party as not as bad as the OTHER party, our government’s policies will continue along its same course.

The role of the Protest Industry on behalf of the Democratic Party must also be openly discussed and confronted.

For example, I was personally taken aback by comments key players within the Backbone Campaign made about a conference call interview with Cynthia McKinney they had done. This was before she had announced as the Green Party presidential candidate. Once the elections were underway, they “poisoned the well” as far as McKinney’s campaign by alleging she was so drunk during that interview that they could not post it to their website. With other Green Party members here on Vashon, I listened to this tape at one of our meetings, and admit it was a poor interview both on Cynthia’s part and the interviewer’s part, but to accuse her of being drunk on this conference call went beyond the pale.

If you think I am being unfair to the Backbone Campaign to suggest they were against Cynthia McKinney’s presidential campaign, see “Islanders celebrate Obama’s win at Backbone Campaign benefit” by Elizabeth Shepherd (Nov. 6, 2008).

At the website Lobbying and Political Activity by Tax-Exempt Organizations, we find:

In IRC 501(c)(3), lobbying is described as “carrying on propaganda, or otherwise attempting, to influence legislation,” while political activity is described as “participat[ing] in, or interven[ing] in (including the publishing or distributing of statements), any political campaign on behalf of (or in opposition to) any candidate for public office.” In short, IRC 501(c)(3) organizations may take sides with respect to political issues, but not political candidates. Since candidates commonly array themselves on opposite sides of issues, there are obvious difficulties at times in distinguishing between actions that support an issue but not a particular candidate.

After the elections, the Backbone Campaign changed its focus to environmental issues, specifically the gravel pit here on Vashon Island. I am not suggesting that it is not a good cause. What I am suggesting is that this convenient change to environmental issues is for the sole purpose of not going up against their friends in the Democratic Party. If they started taking on Obama, they would lose the donations they need to pay their administrative costs. It is always about the money.

MoveOn is another example of a group in the pockets of the Democrats for years, but it is now so blatant no one is denying it. The same goes for The Nation magazine.

The Protest Industry has effectively been used by the Democrats to get their candidates in office and to put the blinders on the Progressive Movement. They have also drained money that could have gone to build a third party.

Take off the blinders and realize that not only the Democrats in the Progressive Movement but these organizations as well are all part of the problem, not the solution.

We will look back at this time as a crucial time in history. The Green Party had a strong candidate in Ralph Nader in 2000 and these groups turned on the Green Party and blamed it for Bush winning the election and all that followed. The Republicans did not do this to the Green Party – fellow progressives in the Democratic Party did it! They continued their criticism not only in 2004 but through the 2006 congressional and 2008 presidential elections as well.

Unfortunately, we are all having to face the repercussions of their misdirected loyalty to a party that has blood on its hands, just as red and as drenched as the Republicans.

Get the word out that the Democrats are corrupt with no hope of redemption. Tell any Democratic sympathizers you know that they are part of the problem. If there was ever a time for a mass exodus from this pathetic political party and its backers in the Protest Industry, it is now.

It is obvious our elected officials are not responding to our calls, our petitions, or our marches in the street and are only listening to the Democratic Leadership Council. Their only concern is getting re-elected, not the will of the people. As for the Protest Industry, it is all about donations to hold on to their little niche of the market.

The time for patience, politeness, and understanding has come to an end. Show you really care about what has been done to this country by these co-conspirators.

I am asking GT readers to feel the same lack of comradeship with a Democrat as you do a Republican. Do not waste another minute of your time or 5 cents of your hard-earned money to support the Democrats through their puppet organizations. Help organize, build, and finance a viable third party that will bring the progressive movement under one umbrella. It is the only way to change the system.

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

June 23, 1972: Life magazine published a photo by Vietnamese photographer Nick Ut of children running from an attack with Napalm, an incendiary chemical weapon used widely by U.S. forces to burn out the jungle, thus eliminating cover for North Vietnamese and Viet Cong troops. Napalm, a sticky mixture of gasoline, polystyrene and benzene that burns at very high temperature, had been used in WWII and Korea.

June 25, 1948: The United States, Great Britain and France began the Berlin Airlift of food and supplies to the German city in defiance of the Soviet Union’s blockade of the roads. At the height of the Airlift, two groups of planes flew in four-hour blocks around the clock. While one group of aircraft was loaded and serviced, the other group was in the air. On the 264-mile route, 32 aircraft were in the air simultaneously. Supplies would be quickly unloaded and the aircraft would return for more food, fuel and other necessities for the 2.5 million West Berliners. It was the most ambitious aerial supply operation in history. The blockade was not lifted until the following May but the airlift continued for four months more.

June 27, 1954: Military action directed and funded by the CIA (Operation PBSUCCESS) forced the resignation of the Guatemalan President, Jacobo Arbenz Guzman. Winner of the country’s first election under universal suffrage, and having taken office in the country’s first peaceful transition of governments, he was accused by the U.S. of Communist influence. Following the coup d’etat, hundreds of Guatemalans were rounded up and killed. Between 1954 and 1990, human rights groups estimate, the security forces of successive military regimes murdered more than 100,000 civilians, including genocide against Guatemalan native peoples.

Pencil Shavings: Not So Far Off the Grid
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.

At age 51 — my current age — Dick Proenneke made a rather atypical decision. He didn’t buy himself a fancy red sports car, start dating a young woman or join the Hair Club for Men. Dick decided to retire to the wilds of Alaska. Over the next 30 years, he lived alone in a cabin he built with his own muscle and basic hand tools in a remote section of southwestern Alaska (now within the boundaries of Lake Clark National Park & Reserve).

He lived in an area with no roads, no electricity, no running water, no human neighbors and no Wi-Fi. The nearest town was Port Alsworth, 40 miles away as the crow flies. He lived on the shores of a pristine lake and lived by a motto that the area would be no worse off due to his presence. He was a master recycler and took only from the land what he could give back.

Dick filmed a good deal of his life in this primitive setting and a film, “Alone in the Wilderness” is often shown on PBS. (You can purchase a copy of the dvd/vhs at He also kept years of journals that were later used in two books, one of which I’m reading now.

It’s quite easy to view his later years in awe. Just the thought of a man hewing his own life in the wilds — far away from the big city lights — can cause many of us to wax poetically. In reality, however, Proenneke didn’t live as far off the grid as it first appears.

Every few weeks, a friendly area bush pilot flew in supplies. Dick typically had in his cupboards bacon, eggs, butter, fresh vegetables and fruits, and other assorted foods of modern society. He regularly ordered replacement tools from the Sears catalog. For a few weeks each year he’d visit friends in the Port Alsworth area and even made several trips to the lower 48 to see family. So, while he was farther off the grid than most of us will ever be, the grid made his life possible in his wilderness home. He is not the modern day Jeremiah Johnson that some have made him out to be.

Be that as it may, we can each learn a lesson from the Dick Proenneke’s of the world. If we could each shut down our computers and cell phones for one day per week or adopt some of the sustainable habits that became second-nature to Dick, we would find that we could be much easier on the earth and rediscover our own self-reliance. In essence, even within the confines of this modern world, we could live our lives more in step with nature.

News You May Have Missed

Far-Right Shootings Raise Fear of Hate Offensive in America
A series of attacks by rightwing extremists has raised fears of a new wave of violence triggered by the economic crisis and the election of the country’s first black president. Since the inauguration of Barack Obama this year a series of shootings have taken place, with targets ranging from an abortion clinic to a liberal church and police officers. The attacks have often been fueled by a potent mix of race hate and conspiracy theories…

US Cities May Have to Be Bulldozed in Order to Survive
The government looking at expanding a pioneering scheme in Flint, one of the poorest US cities, which involves razing entire districts and returning the land to nature. Local politicians believe the city must contract by as much as 40 per cent, concentrating the dwindling population and local services into a more viable area. The radical experiment is the brainchild of Dan Kildee, treasurer of Genesee County, which includes Flint. Having outlined his strategy to Barack Obama during the election campaign, Mr Kildee has now been approached by the US government and a group of charities who want him to apply what he has learnt to the rest of the country…

The American Empire Is Bankrupt
This week marks the end of the dollar’s reign as the world’s reserve currency. It marks the start of a terrible period of economic and political decline in the United States. And it signals the last gasp of the American imperium. That’s over. It is not coming back. And what is to come will be very, very painful. Barack Obama, and the criminal class on Wall Street, aided by a corporate media that continues to peddle fatuous gossip and trash talk as news while we endure the greatest economic crisis in our history, may have fooled us, but the rest of the world knows we are bankrupt…


One Response to “June 22 – 28”

  1. […] by recent events. At the time I cited two terror attacks which had occurred within the previous June 22 – 28 – 06/20/2009 Greener Times for the Week of June 22 – 28Volume 4 […]

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