Greener Times

Promoting a sustainable society…one day at a time.

July 13 -19

Posted by Trey Smith on July 14, 2009

Greener Times for the Week of July 13 – July 19
Volume 4 No. 13
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
* If You Want a Revolution, Start With a Clean Energy One
* Thoughts By the Way: Fire in the Ducts
* Our Climate Crisis: Seeing REDD, Plundering Our Forests
* Un-Spinning the Spin: US to Bomb ET Outpost on the Moon?
* This Week in History
* Pencil Shavings: A Needed Rx
* News You May Have Missed

If You Want a Revolution, Start With a Clean Energy One
by Ted Glick for Z Magazine

It was about five years ago. I was talking with a radical friend about my then-recent personal decision to prioritize work on the climate crisis. I had done so after the European heat wave in the summer of 2003 that led to 30,000 or more deaths. This catastrophe jolted me into serious study about the issue of global warming, study which led me to conclude that the dangerous, earth-heating-up process was happening much more quickly than I had thought it was.

My friend didn’t disagree about the urgency of the climate crisis, but his view was that what we needed to do about it was to build a stronger movement to replace capitalism with a 21st century version of socialism. At the time, I didn’t agree. I felt that we didn’t have the many, many years that it would take to build the kind of powerful mass movement that would be necessary to accomplish that objective, especially given the weaknesses and disorientation of the Left. I felt that the immediate historical need was to do all we could to get off of fossil fuels and onto a renewable energy/energy conservation path. I was convinced that this clean energy movement, to be successful within the limited time period we have, would have to include a very broad range of people, people like Al Gore, for example, not exactly a revolutionary.

However, for the past few months, since liberal Democratic Congressman Henry Waxman made public a first draft of comprehensive climate legislation for the House of Representatives, I’ve been seriously re-thinking this question.

Waxman’s draft of “The American Clean Energy and Security Act of 2009,” ACESA, was very problematic, but as it evolved through behind-closed-doors negotiations between Waxman and coal state, oil state and industrial agriculture Democrats, it got even worse. The target for greenhouse gas (ghg) emissions reductions over the next 10 years, an absolutely critical period of time if we are to have any hope of avoiding world-wide catastrophe, is way too weak, and it is questionable if even this weak target would be met. It contains a huge percentage of problematic “offsets” that will likely allow U.S. corporate polluters to avoid or minimize actual reductions of emissions from their dirty coal plants or oil refineries for 15-20 years or more. It gives away free 2/3 of the permits to emit ghg’s to corporate polluters; half are given directly to the fossil fuel industry. It strips the Environmental Protection Agency of its power to regulate coal plants and other stationary sources of ghg’s. Its cap-and-trade framework allows Wall Street speculators to get into the huge new “carbon market” being created. It is nuclear power-friendly, and it projects giving the U.S. coal industry tens of billions of dollars for carbon capture and sequestration, an unsafe boondoggle that is, at best, a decade away from being commercially viable, if it ever is.

All of this from a liberal Democrat who, in the spring of 2008, one year before the release of the ACESA bill, introduced legislation calling for a moratorium on the building of any new coal plants unless they sequestered 85% of their greenhouse gas emissions. The ACESA bill will allow new coal plants to be built without having to sequester any carbon dioxide or other ghg’s until 2025.

It’s a similar thing with our “yes we can” President. All through his campaign for the Presidency one of his top issues was a call for a steadily-declining cap on ghg emissions and a 100% auction to polluters of ghg emissions permits. Most of that auction money would be returned to taxpayers and consumers to help them deal with higher prices, with some of it used for clean energy and green jobs investments. In March of this year Obama included this plan in his proposed 2010 budget authority legislation. But when he couldn’t get a filibuster-proof 60 U.S. Senators to support this, and after Waxman came out in late March with his ACESA bill draft, Obama went silent. Like Waxman, he allowed the powerful fossil fuel interests which continue to dominate Capitol Hill to wreak their carnage.

I wasn’t a big Obama fan. I wanted him to win and said so publicly, but I also said publicly that Green Party candidate Cynthia McKinney was the candidate whose platform and personal history of courageous leadership were most consistent with my own beliefs. However, I did believe that an Obama Presidency would create openings for progressives and revolutionaries, and based upon Obama’s consistently-articulated, 100% auction position, I thought we had a good chance to get some decent climate legislation through the House of Representatives even if the odds were much longer in the Senate.

I was wrong.

What might have made a difference? Things might have been different if there had been a much stronger, more massive radical wing of the climate movement to visibly push back against the fossil fuel Democrats and the environmentalists who quietly went along with them. If there were demonstrations of thousands around the country, or a massive sit-in on Capitol Hill, this might have had an impact. Instead, most environmental and climate groups used their usual tactics, doing some lobbying to try to strengthen ACESA but engaging in virtually no “street heat.”

Where was the U.S. Left during this battle for strong federal climate legislation? It was around, here and there, individuals writing articles, some groups putting out statements, but by and large independent progressives who understand that corporate capitalism is our underlying problem were largely missing in action.

Why This Issue Is So Critical, Short- and Long-Term

There are a number of reasons why this issue needs to be one that every person in the world who considers themselves part of the Left should be studying about and taking action on.

The most important one is the reality of the climate science. There is no question that the burning of fossil fuels, the destruction of forests and the general disregard for our ecosystem manifested by industrial capitalism, as well as 20th century efforts to build socialism in the Soviet Union and China, have led us close to the edge of a cascading series of ecological disasters that are a grave threat to the future of life on earth as we have known it for thousands of years. Stronger and more destructive hurricanes and typhoons, spreading desertification, more intensive and extensive heat waves, chronic and numerically increasing wildfires, rising sea levels, 100-year-floods happening every decade or less, the disruption of agriculture, growing water scarcity — all of this is happening now, and it’s going to get worse. The question is whether we as a human species, worldwide, are going to be able to gather the spiritual and political strength in enough time to make a rapid shift away from our past polluting practices. We must, we absolutely have to do this to prevent the acceleration of global warming which, sooner or later, will lead us past critical climate tipping points.

What are these tipping points? There are four: the melting of the Greenland and West Antarctica ice sheets, the thawing of the methane-full permafrost in the northern latitudes, the release of methane frozen in ice on the bottom of the ocean as the ocean warms, and the decimation of the Amazon rainforest caused by drought or by humans cutting down too much of it. Any one of these tipping points alone would likely cause such catastrophic impacts or trigger such a major spike in greenhouse gas emissions that the extensive ecological disruption would be almost impossible to reverse for centuries if not millennia.

We aren’t at any of these tipping points yet, but each year that goes by without a dramatic worldwide effort to seriously reduce our ghg emissions brings us closer to one or more of them.

Any “revolutionary” or alleged revolutionary movement which doesn’t do all that it can to prevent this worldwide catastrophe is a complete and total contradiction in terms.

The climate crisis is also a fundamental justice issue. Who is it that is being hit first and hardest as the world begins to experience the negative impacts of a hotter world? It is the people who did the least to cause it, low-income people and people of color. It is Black people in the 9th Ward in New Orleans who lived in the neighborhoods least protected from a strong hurricane. It is Indigenous people in the Arctic where the ice and permafrost are melting, villages are collapsing into the ever-rising ocean waters and hunters are experiencing an unstable and weakening ice. It is residents of islands in the South Pacific where rising seas are threatening to displace entire nations from their historic homelands going back thousands of years.

Those with the least resources are those with the fewest options as climate impacts affect their livelihoods and living situations.

The politics of this dynamic is currently playing itself out as the nations of the world struggle to come up with a stronger international climate treaty to replace the Kyoto Protocol, expiring in three years. For close to two years there’s been an effort underway to come up with a treaty by this December at a major United Nations climate conference in Copenhagen. Yet as of right now there are significant differences between the Group of 77 and China, the formerly colonized countries of the global South, and most of the industrialized countries of the North, with some European exceptions. The global South is demanding significant cuts in ghg emissions by the industrialized North, at least 40% below the baseline year of 1990. They are demanding this since over 80% of the ghg emissions in the atmosphere affecting all the nations of the world are the result of the North’s economic development over the past 150 or so years. Yet the United States, responsible for over a quarter of those historic emissions, is proposing via the ACESA legislation to reduce U.S.-based emissions no more than 7-8% by 2020.

Revolutionaries who recognize the deep-seated inequality and injustice of the world economic order, growing out of centuries of slavery, colonialism and neo-colonialism by the coal- and oil-burning capitalist powers, have a responsibility to support the call for a truly just treaty. Only such a treaty can begin to restore the necessary trust internationally that would then make possible rapid leaps forward to renewable energy-based, sustainable and fair economic development throughout the world.

There is a growing and interconnected, international grassroots climate movement that is planning for action in scores of countries all around the world this fall, beginning on October 24th and continuing with other actions leading up to and during the Copenhagen climate conference in December. This movement has been steadily developing since 2005. It is a hopeful development and a concrete indicator of the potential for the climate issue to galvanize and advance an independent progressive movement that puts climate justice issues at its center.

Another reason why the Left should be doing consistent work on this issue is because, as a once-great revolutionary leader once said, “the masses make history.”

Everyone is affected by this issue. Some are affected more by it and are suffering and will suffer earlier and more seriously, but this is an issue that ultimately affects us all. 75% of U.S. Americans understand that global warming is real and that we need to shift away from the use of fossil fuels. People are experiencing the changes in weather patterns in their daily life.

You can be sure that Barack Obama and John McCain would not have made this a major issue in their 2008 campaigns for the Presidency if it wasn’t one that their polls showed had resonance among the broad voting public.

We have a significant opportunity to build the kind of mass-based movement that, sooner or later, can force the kinds of changes needed in the way the U.S. creates its energy. As we are seeing right now with what is happening on Capitol Hill, there is a need for people who understand the way in which corporate power operates. We need people who can help the climate movement avoid the trap of blindly following Democrats who say one thing but, once in power, are then willing to settle for something very different. In this process progressive independents can build a stronger base of support and a more activist movement able to increasingly challenge corporate power and those subservient to it.

Helping people to understand the way in which power works, helping them to develop the tactics and the organizational strength to overcome it on particular issues—this is a key task for an independent progressive movement. In the process of doing this work and exposing the powers-that-be for who and what they are, we will be laying the basis for broadly-supported revolutionary changes in our energy policy, as well as in other areas of society.

On a very practical level, renewable energy technology can be used on local levels to provide “power to the people,” not just the power of the sun or the wind but power to build local economies that are more self-sufficient. Think about a local neighborhood which joins together to install rooftop solar panels and/or several windmills which, in combination, provide most or all of the electricity needed by that neighborhood. Organizing a neighborhood to do this is, first, a way to bring people together around a commonly-shared need—affordable and reliable electricity. The process of community organizing around a commonly shared need can develop confidence and hope within the community that will then likely manifest itself in other positive projects and initiatives. It will give people a sense of their power when they join together with others.

This kind of a process is the essence of what is needed to build a popular movement capable of eventually making revolutionary change.

Finally, but very importantly, the process of building a clean energy revolution will organically lead growing numbers of people toward a deeply-felt appreciation for and connection to our natural environment. This is something needed not just by the general population but by too many of those who call themselves radicals or revolutionaries. It is needed because the negative values of domination and greed which undergird capitalism and the destructive corporate practices which flow from them are responsible for tremendous environmental damage and pollution. The development of an ecological consciousness and a will to act on it on the part of ever-larger numbers of people is an absolute prerequisite if we are to have any hope for developing the kind of future new society which sees itself as one with nature, not its master.

On an individual level, appreciating, connecting to and learning from the natural world is an essential aspect of how new women and new men can emerge who are able to give leadership within a 21st century revolutionary process.

There are many things that make good revolutionaries: an ability to listen, a sensitivity to human suffering, an understanding of history and economics, basic organizing skills, a commitment to development of new leadership, self-motivated discipline, a willingness to sacrifice for others. Many of these qualities are enhanced by a personal connection to the many other life forms with whom we share this planet Earth.

In the words of an Ojibway prayer,

Look at our brokenness.
“We know that in all creation
Only the human family
Has strayed from the Sacred Way.
We know that we are the ones
Who are divided
And we are the ones
Who must come back together
To walk the Sacred Way.
Sacred One,
Teach us love, compassion
and honor
That we may heal the earth
And heal each other.”


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

The conflicts in Palestine and South Asia differ in many respects, yet both are worsened by US commitment to running the Earth. In Palestine, Zionism provides the US with a toe-hold on regional oil resources, so we give it money and look the other way as it destroys Palestinian society. In South Asia, Pakistan provides the US with a toe-hold on pipeline routes, so we prop up its dictators and look the other way as it goes nuclear, and as it needles India. And in this, in our obsession with Pakistan, the US shoots itself in the groin, for India is a police state well along a path towards civil war. The milder phrase “to shoot oneself in the foot” comes from hunting accidents, and in upping the body part suffering damage I mean to suggest that the US is presently in serious trouble. The view of India to follow is a hasty condensation of a book introduction by Arundhati Roy.

The multi-religion variegated Indian society so prized by England took its first step toward mono culture under English rule. When WWII pried out England the latent tension between Muslim and Hindu erupted in violence with mass exodus of Punjab Muslims to Pakistan. The next step was a steel industry and large dams copied from Russia. Next came the US “winning” the Cold War. “Within months of the collapse of the Soviet Union and the fall of the Berlin Wall, the Indian government, once a leader of the Non-Aligned movement, performed a high-speed somersault and aligned itself completely with the United States, monarch of the new unipolar world.” In result, an era of privatization and structural adjustment accelerated industrialization at “mind-numbing speed”.

“Two decades of this kind of ‘Progress’ in India has created a vast middle class punch-drunk on sudden wealth and the sudden respect that comes with it – and a much, much vaster, desperate, underclass.” This trickle-down of punch might not have changed Indian society so drastically were it not that the grist for corporate progress was land, land rich in natural resources including, so unfortunately, the sustenance of the masses. Attack upon the masses was vicious, with foment of hate against Moslems the primary tool. Genocide of Moslems in Gujarat was carried out by CEO-sponsored Narenda Modi. Others prominent in the ranks of corporate operatives were a lawyer for Enron and a judge who ordered rivers diverted for commerce then, upon retirement, joined the environmental board of Coca-Cola. In all this, Government support was tacit. No one, it seemed, had bargained on the civil war that has broken out in India’s heartland.

The title of the book is “Democracy’s Failing Light”. The introduction focuses on the paradox of the 2009 election in which enormous publicizing of its democratic success ignored the true result: with a mandate for progressive change, the Left and Center parties immediately joined the Right in proceeding apace with the corporate agenda. And so it will be not L.K. Advani, “hate-monger incarnate”, but Dr. Manmohan Singh, “gentle architect” of the market reforms, a man who has never won an election in his life, who will be prime minister of the world’s largest democracy for a second term.

And now, Kashmir. It has been occupied these past twenty years by the Indian military in order to keep the Pakistanis out. There are three times as many soldiers there as the US had at its height in Iraq. The Kashmir war has claimed 70,000 lives. thousands tortured, women raped, thousands ‘disappeared’. Mainstream news about Kashmir is fabricated by Indian Intelligence.

Kashmir “sits on the faultlines” of Indian and Pakistani nationalism, US imperialism, and a resurgent Taliban, not to mention the ambition of reincarnated Russian and the ambition of China, not to mention huge reserves of natural gas in the Caspian region. As to India, Roy concludes that “Kashmir is set to become the conduit through which the mayhem unfolding in Pakistan and Afghanistan spills into India, where it will find purchase in the young among India’s 150 million Muslims who have been brutalised, humiliated and marginalized.” As in the Mumbai attacks of 2008.

Roy began her introduction by calling the state of India a “fire in the ducts”. She concludes this way, in part: Perhaps the story of the Siachen Glacier, the highest battlefield in the world, is the most appropriate metaphor for the insanity of our times. The glacier has become a garbage dump now, littered with the detritus of war. The garbage is preserved now, but it is melting, is half gone, not because of the war but because halfway around the globe good people who believe in peace won’t give up the good life. The glacial melt will cause severe floods in the subcontinent … this will give us even more reasons to fight.

And this column swings in behind the poet with the appropriate metaphor for the insanity of US foreign policy: guns in both pockets aimed at the groin. To explain, Wall Street and its corporate global giants have long incorporated themselves into India for profit. Lately in concurrence, the Pentagon and State Department have put the squeeze on Pakistan to gain political hegemony in South Asia. Unforeseen or ignored until it is too late, both of these US projects find Muslims to be inconviently in the way. And not simply in the way, but also chained together by Kashmir. Muslims may be pardoned for judging that loss of a single child to these projects is unacceptable. For the United States to continue this dual assault on the people of South Asia is as cruel as it is senseless.

Note: Arundhati Roy’s introduction appeared in Outlook India Magazine where it was caught by Truthout.

Our Climate Crisis: Seeing REDD, Plundering Our Forests
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.

When is ‘saving’ our global forests a hideous idea? When it’s REDD.

Since deforestation accounts for nearly 1/5 of global greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions — ranking behind only fossil fuel combustion as the worst climate-polluting sector — what gives here?

REDD is the acronym for “Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and Forest Degradation in Developing Countries”. REDD has been co-opted by the latest, and perhaps most murderous, carbon trading scheme. The globe’s worst polluters, colluding governments and profit-mad carbon traders have seized REDD in their rush to assure the doom of our Livable Planet.

REDD’s malevolent and self-defeating orthodoxy allows companies and individuals to buy pollution credits to raise funds for so-called ‘protection’ of forests in developing countries. And, yeah, these pollution credits then allow these same polluters to continue to pollute. The utterly bogus REDD notion is that these pollution credits somehow magically ‘offset’ the polluters’ own emissions.

Contrary to market-driven REDD, we must give real protection to our global forests and all the wildly diverse species that inhabit them, including humans. This genuine protection will come only via non-market-based mechanisms. An obvious choice is protecting our forests with funds generated by no-escape, government-imposed carbon taxes on pollution.

Global forest protection must include enforceable, verifiable safeguards that prevent conversion of natural forests to tree plantations, expand and enforce resource rights for indigenous peoples and local communities, and protect biodiversity and water supplies.

If we fail in this effort, we surrender our chances to stop runaway species extinction, now at eight species per hour. We also surrender our chances to effectively mitigate and adapt to our Climate Crisis.

We need genuine forest protection. We need radical reduction of GHGs. We need both. We cannot separate these two if we are to salvage a Livable Planet. But REDD does. And then REDD caves on real forest protection. REDD seeks to divide us. It will conquer us if we do not resist now.

Four big problems with REDD:

1. REDD will NOT reduce global greenhouse gas emissions (GHGs) so our Climate Crisis will continue to worsen.

“By allowing Northern countries to use market-based REDD, they will be able to evade responsibility for reducing emissions in their own countries. This must be recognized as a serious and fundamental flaw with allowing REDD credits to be included in carbon markets.”—Friends of the Earth, Indonesia report: “REDD Wrong Path: Pathetic Ecobusiness”.

Market-based REDD is a lie.

Vast stretches of global forests are being decimated now by threats intensified and caused by global warming. These threats include drought, wildfire and insect plagues. How can we help our forests by exacerbating conditions that are destroying them? We cannot.

2. REDD will not save global forests on the large-scale we desperately need now.

REDD forces us, we may sense, to make a Faustian choice: either allow the truly diabolical carbon trading market to throw money in the direction of some selected forests, or watch in helpless anguish as our old growth forests continue to fall.

But under market-driven REDD, the most likely global scenario makes both sides of this Faustian equation come true. We lose our forests at an astonishing rate AND carbon trading money ends up in the hands of Third World government and corporate elites. These folks have proven to be notoriously open to inducements from the World Bank and other neo-liberal organizations now pushing market-based REDD. The failed European Union Emission Trading System (EU ETS) and the equally failed, U.N.-administered Kyoto Protocol teach this lesson.

But there is still more REDD corruption bound to come. Carbon traders, our new breed of pollution-profiteers, will hijack money earmarked for our forests as fast as they can. The proposed U.S. carbon trading scheme (Waxman/Markey) is modeled after the EU ETS.  It

“will generate, almost as an afterthought, a new market for carbon derivatives. That market will be vast, complicated, and dauntingly difficult to monitor…it will be vulnerable to speculation and manipulation by the very same players who brought us the financial meltdown.”—Rachel Morris, Mother Jones magazine.

Simply put, our precious forests will continue to fall under REDD. Carbon trading corruption will reign under REDD as it does in Europe and the world now. REDD is about making big, big money for a few. It is not about genuinely saving our forests.

3. REDD opens the door to wholesale butchering of our forests by pushing tree plantations.

The Kyoto Protocol does not differentiate between natural forests and tree plantations. The next big climate deal, possibly agreed to in Copenhagen in December, 2009, may well retain this fundamental mistake. If so,

“This means that a country can convert a natural forest to a plantation or a palm-oil tree crop, and as far as the climate treaty is concerned the tree crop is still a forest, and deforestation (or the permanent removal of the forest) has not occurred.”—Susan Austin, Tasmanian climate campaigner, June, 2009

Now add the $1 trillion in market-based REDD money predicted by 2019. You get rampant biofuel plantations and vast logging tree farms decimating what remains of our natural forests—and the creatures they harbor.

4. REDD will oppress forest-dwelling humans.

REDD will make the monetary value of forests skyrocket. The fate of the forests, and the people who live in these forests, will cede to those able to pay these inflated prices—Industrial World polluters and their governments and cronies, like the World Bank. These polluters have grown rich by polluting cheaply. Carbon trading makes stopping polluting more expensive than buying pollution credits. So, these big polluters will buy REDD credits and keep on polluting. Inevitably, Industrial World third parties will control REDD and control the forests REDD is supposed to ‘protect’. They have the money. They will have the control.

Indigenous people know this. Many oppose market-driven REDD.

“The 2009 Indigenous People’s Global Summit on Climate Change, ‘highlighted indigenous opposition to conventional carbon trading schemes’ and expressed alarm that the World Bank will play a key role in financing and implementing REDD.” — Michelle Chen, April, 2009, article on Race Wire.

Indigenous opposition to REDD can be deep-seated.

“(REDD is a) corruption of the sacred…to be involved with a system that defines something that we hold sacred, and that is the sacred element of air, to be part of a neo-colonial system that privatizes the atmosphere, to put a money value to it, creates resistance from our heart.” — Tom Goldtooth, Indigenous Environmental Network, December, 2008.

We need genuine global forest protection now. We need radical GHG reduction now. We can have both. We must have both for a Livable Planet.

Un-Spinning the Spin: US to Bomb ET Outpost on the Moon?
Maryrose Asher is a former Chair of the Green Party of Washington State and a tireless activist of many causes.

On the Thom Hartmann show which aired on AM 1090 about a week ago, I heard part of an interview regarding the United States bombing an alien outpost on the moon and joked about this with others. For this week’s column, I thought it would be fun to do a little more research and see what I could uncover.

About the mission itself, I found the following information in an article by David Perlman, San Francisco Chronicle Science Editor, dated June 18, 2009, titled “Moon mission looking at possible colony sites”.

The NASA spacecraft LCROSS (Lunar Crater Observation and Sensing Satellite) was sent into orbit on June 18, 2009, along with a lunar orbiter “searching for safe landing sites where humans might one day establish Earth’s first colony.” Scheduled for October 9 of this year, the spacecraft will “send a heavy rocket” (two tons) to crash into the moon’s south polar region to find water that could support future crews bound for Mars.

According to Perlmann’s article, “The rocket will crash into the crater at 5,600 mph, creating a new crater – perhaps as large as 5 miles wide. Within 10 minutes, dense material ejected from that crater should rise some 6 miles high, with the water ice – perhaps billions of years old, if it exists at all – turning instantly to vapor. And within an hour, detectable hydrogen and oxygen should rise as high as 60 miles, according to calculations by Colaprete’s (chief scientist for LCROSS mission) team at Ames.”

Adding further information was an article by Alfred Lambremont Webre, Seattle Exopolitics Examiner, dated June 19, 2009. Webre was the person interviewed on the Hartmann radio show.

Below is his commentary:

The planned October 9, 2009, bombing of the moon by a NASA orbiter that will bomb the moon with a 2-ton kinetic weapon to create a 5 mile wide deep crater as an alleged water-seeking and lunar colonization experiment, is contrary to space law prohibiting environmental modification of celestial bodies. The NASA moon bombing, a component of the LCROSS mission, may also trigger conflict with known extraterrestrial civilizations on the moon as reported on the moon in witnessed statements by US astronauts Buzz Aldrin and Neil Armstrong, and in witnessed statements to NSA (National Security Agency) photos and documents regarding an extraterrestrial base on the dark side of the moon.

Wow! But, there’s more.

On July 21, 1969, shortly after the historical Apollo 11 landing on the moon, ham radio operators picked up the following exchange between NASA and Neil Armstrong:

NASA: What’s there? Mission Control calling Apollo 11…

Apollo: These ‘Babies’ are huge, Sir! Enormous! OH MY GOD! You wouldn’t believe it! I’m telling you there are other spacecraft out there, lined up on the far side of the crater edge! They’re on the Moon watching us!

Ten years later, Maurice Chatelain, former chief of NASA Communications Systems, acknowledged the sighting of UFOs on the rim of a crater. “The encounter was common knowledge in NASA,” he revealed, “but nobody has talked about it until now.”

It is claimed Soviet scientists confirmed the incident. Dr. Vladimir Azhazha, a physicist and Professor of Mathematics at Moscow University is quoted as saying, “Neil Armstrong relayed the message to Mission Control that two large, mysterious objects were watching them after having landed near the moon module. But his message was never heard by the public because NASA censored it.”

But, let’s put this aside as the intent of this column is not to present an argument one way or the other on the existence of extraterrestrials on the moon or elsewhere.

What is important is the question of whether the United States is violating treaties and the implications of doing so.

The United Nations Outer Space Treaty, which the US has ratified, states in Article III that “States Parties to the Treaty shall carry on activities in the exploration and use of outer space, including the moon and other celestial bodies, in accordance with international law, including the Charter of the United Nations.”

Further, in Article 7 of the Moon Treaty (Agreement Governing the Activities of States on the Moon and Other Celestial Bodies), we find:

In exploring and using the moon, States Parties shall take measures to prevent the disruption of the existing balance of its environment whether by introducing adverse changes in that environment, by its harmful contamination through the introduction of extra-environmental matter or otherwise. States Parties shall also take measures to avoid harmfully affecting the environment of the earth through the introduction of extraterrestrial matter or otherwise.

Interestingly, the US has not ratified the Moon Treaty nor has any other nation among those actively engaged in manned space exploration. The question is raised whether this particular moon mission is an attempt to impose moon sovereignty by the US.

The UN Outer Space Treaty explicitly states in Article IV that “the moon and other celestial bodes shall be used by all States Parties to the Treaty exclusively for peaceful purposes. The establishment of military bases, installations and fortifications, the testing of any type of weapons and the conduct of military manoeuvres on celestial bodies shall be forbidden.”

It was George W. Bush’s “vision for space exploration” with “a foothold on the moon” that made this a high-priority mission for NASA. It appears the Obama administration is continuing with this same vision.

Why is the US continuing to spend billions, and probably more, on space exploration at a time when the economy is in such bad shape? What about important domestic priorities such as health care and education?

Is this solely to gain military advantage or is it to find another inhabitable planet as they realize what is in store for planet Earth due to their lack of action? If it is, I don’t think they will be offering seats to you and me.

Almost makes me hope there are ETs on the moon to welcome these “elite colonists” when they get there. I just don’t want these ETs pitching some 2-ton rockets our way in retaliation after October 9.

Supplemental reading:
UN Outer Space Treaty
Moon Treaty – Wikipedia
UFOs on the Moon 3

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

July 14, 1789: Bastille Day in France: Parisian revolutionaries and mutinous troops stormed and dismantled the Bastille, a former royal fortress converted to a state prison, that had come to symbolize the tyranny of the Bourbon monarchy. This dramatic action was proof that power no longer resided in the King as God’s representative, but in the people, and signaled the beginning of the French Revolution and the First Republic.

July 16, 1877: Firemen and brakemen for the Pennsylvania and Baltimore & Ohio Railroads refused to work, and refused to let replacements take their jobs. They managed to halt all railroad traffic at the Camden Junction just outside of Baltimore. The railroad companies had cut wages and shortened the workweek. After a second pay cut in June, Pennsylvania RR announced that the same number of workers would be expected to service twice as many trains. The work stoppage spread west and eventually became the first nationwide strike.

July 19, 1993: President Bill Clinton announced regulations to implement his “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” policy regarding gays in the military, saying that the armed services should put an end to “witch hunts.” The policy was developed by Gen. Colin Powell, then Chair of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, and eventually summarized as “don’t ask, don’t tell, don’t pursue, don’t harass.”

Pencil Shavings: A Needed Rx
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.

Bob LOVES his car. He’s had it for eons. He loves its styling, image and interior plus the oohs and aahs he gets whenever someone spies the car parked in front of his home or around town. Yes, Bob’s car would be perfect…except for one minor glitch — it’s mechanically unsound.

It clanks, knocks, pings and gurgles anytime the engine is engaged. It belches plumes of smoke and odor. It doesn’t always start when it’s supposed to (some days Bob has to pop the clutch while coasting downhill to get it to start) and it sometimes stops at the worst possible moments. The windshield wipers and horn only work about one-half the time. And don’t ever talk to Bob about gas mileage. He sometimes wonders if he would do better driving a Sherman tank!

At a recent gathering of friends on his back patio, Bob lamented the problem with his automotive beauty. “The time has come, dear friend,” Frannie said, “to buy yourself a new car! You’ve got the money.” Bob shook his head. “I just can’t bear to part with her.” “Well then,” began Steve, “the only other answer is to get a mechanical overhaul. You’re going to need to replace everything under the hood.”

Bob thought about that for a minute. “Do you think that’s the answer?” Everyone agreed and so Bob decided the time had come to get his magnificent car fixed.

The very next day he took his car to the repair shop on the west end of town. He described to the head mechanic the myriad of engine-related problems the car possessed. “Pop the hood and let’s have a look see,” said the head man. As he examined the engine compartment, Bob could hear the mechanic muttering to himself. Finally, the fellow came over to Bob.

“Heck, you don’t need a new engine at all,” the mechanic explained. “Don’t you know this is the finest engine ever built?” Bob responded that he had always thought that, but the car’s continuous mechanical problems had started to change his mind.

“All this baby needs is some fine-tuning!” exclaimed the mechanic. “It will cost you a pretty penny, but it will be good as new in no time at all.” Bob was elated with this news. He handed the mechanic gobs of money. I can’t wait to get her back out on the road, Bob thought to himself.

Unfortunately, despite all the time and money spent, Bob soon realized that the “fine-tuning” didn’t make much difference in the poor performance of his vehicle. While some of the clanks and pings didn’t seem quite so loud, new noises appeared out of nowhere.

So, he decided to take the car to the mechanic on the east side of town. He explained all the previous problems to the mechanic and told him of the shoddy repair job he obtained earlier. After taking a look under the hood, the east side mechanic said, “That other guy was right. You have the best engine anywhere in the world! The problem is that the other guy didn’t know how to tweak it just the right way.”

Bob was relieved. He was sure that this time his baby would be returned to mint condition. However, after handing over even bigger gobs of money, he discovered that the results were no better than the first repair. Some things seemed to work slightly better, but now there were even more new problems.

He ended up taking his beloved car to all the other mechanics in town. All of them agreed that he didn’t need a new engine — his engine was the envy of all — they each thought it needed to be tweaked in a different way. Yet each tweak yielded the same results.

Finally, completely exasperated, Bob took Frannie’s advice and bought himself a new car — I think it was a Toyota!

The above story isn’t really about a car; it’s about the American health care system. On the surface, we Americans like to believe that we have the best system in the world, but world health care statistics — both monetary and health-wise — don’t bear this out. We spend far more money per capita on health-related costs and yet we are sicker and don’t live as long as the citizens of almost every other westernized democracy.

Most of us realize that our system is mechanically (systemically) unsound and polls consistently show that a majority of us would like to see some form of universal coverage. Unfortunately, our elected leaders (like the car mechanics) keep ignoring us by proclaiming that our system is the envy of everyone else and it doesn’t need to be changed, just tweaked here and there. Yet, every time it’s tweaked, the basic underlying problems are not solved and new problems arise.

Even worse, the above metaphor breaks down somewhat in that we can’t employ the resolution that Bob did. We simply can’t sign up for Canadian, German, or Japanese health care! So, we’re stuck with the malfunctioning vehicle that’s been foisted on us.

If you’ve been watching the health care debate in Congress, you must already know the engine will not get overhauled. It looks like the public option — a very weak step-child of universal coverage — will be mangled beyond recognition or scrapped altogether. The most likely scenario is that all Congress and the President will do is to tweak the sputtering engine which will continue to sputter and cough into the future.

But hey, it sure LOOKS great!

News You May Have Missed

Bhopal: The Hiroshima of the Chemical Industry
The Bhopal gas disaster, as it became known, occurred shortly after midnight on December 3, 1984, when a cloud of poisonous gas escaped from a Union Carbide pesticide plant in the city. It has been dubbed the “Hiroshima of the chemical industry”. The accidental release of 42 tonnes of methyl isocyanate (MIC) from the factory exposed more than 500,000 people to toxic gases and up to 10,000 inhabitants are thought to have died within the first 72 hours after the leak. At least 25,000 people exposed to the gas have since died, and today in Bhopal tens of thousands more Indians suffer from a variety of debilitating gas-related illnesses such as respiratory and psychiatric problems, joint pains, menstrual irregularities, tuberculosis and cancers. More disturbingly, the escalating number of birth defects in children include cleft palates, webbed feet and hands, twisted limbs, brain damage and heart problems…

The Unemployed Will Roar
When a virulent disease is ravaging you like a cancer, you don’t want a cacophony of voices promoting different or contradictory cures. Yet that is what we’re starting to hear about the economic crisis, not only from a politically divided—and pretty scared—capital, but from within the Obama administration itself. In just the past few days, Vice President Joe Biden has said the young administration misread the depth of the recession…

For Lead Violations, 9 Companies are Fined (as Little as 1 Cent Per Toxic Toy)
Nine companies will pay a combined total of more than $500,000 in penalties for selling toys and other children’s products laced with toxic lead, settling claims by the Consumer Product Safety Commission. The products included toys, jewelry, pens, water bottles, sunglasses and Halloween and Easter items. That’s the headline, as written by the CPSC. It’s true. It sounds good. But how much does that mean these companies paid per toy they made, imported, distributed or sold to parents, who unwittingly gave these toxic products to their children? In most cases, not much…


One Response to “July 13 -19”

  1. […] which explains it all. Here’s National Center’s rundown of the Rolling Stone article. July 13 -19 – 07/15/2009 Greener Times for the Week of July 13 – July 19Volume 4 […]

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