Greener Times

Promoting a sustainable society…one day at a time.

August 17 – 23

Posted by Trey Smith on August 16, 2009

Greener Times for the Week of August 17 – 23
Volume 4 No. 18
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
* Non-food Biofuel Sources Pose Risks as Runaway Weeds, Panel Says
* Big Oil Plans on Staging ‘Energy Citizen’ Rallies to Oppose Climate Bill
* Thoughts By the Way: The Day Vashon Fell
* Our Climate Crisis: Brain Dead at the Wheel: Cash for Clunkers
* Un-Spinning the Spin: “I Don’t Vote — It Only Encourages Them”
* This Week in History
* Letter to the Editor
* Pencil Shavings: Just a Brief Note
* News You May Have Missed

Non-food Biofuel Sources Pose Risks as Runaway Weeds, Panel Says
from Yale e360

A federal advisory panel has warned that some grasses and weed-like plants now being considered as possible sources of biofuel pose the risk of spreading widely and causing major economic damage as invasive species. The Invasive Species Advisory Committee said that the very properties that make the plants appealing candidates for biofuel production — they can grow year-round and need less water, fertilizer, and agricultural land — also make them prime candidates to become harmful invasive species, such as the runaway vine, kudzu. Among the biofuel species with potential to spread out of control are a giant reed, Arundo donax, which grows in clumps up to 20 feet tall and is classified as a noxious weed in California and Texas, and plants such as miscanthus and reed canary grass. The panel said that some potential sources of biofuel, such as switchgrass, posed far less danger and recommended that agencies carefully study possible biofuel species before allowing their cultivation in different regions.

Big Oil Plans on Staging ‘Energy Citizen’ Rallies to Oppose Climate Bill
by Matthew McDermott for TreeHugger

I’m not saying there’s a linear connection between the news from two weeks back of lobbyists sending forged letters urging opposition to the climate bill to a Virginia Congressman, but it does show the level of manipulation going on to protect vested interests of polluters — Think Progress reports that Greenpeace has obtained internal documents from the American Petroleum Institute that show they plan on staging so-called “energy citizen” rallies during the August Congressional recess:

The API would coordinate transportation for oil industry employees to these rallies, where the objective would be,

…to put a human face on the impacts of unsound energy policy and to aim a loud message at those states’ US Senators to avoid the mistakes in the House climate bill and the Obama Administration’s tax increases on our industry. Senate Majority Leader Senator Harry Reid reportedly has pushed back consideration of climate legislation to late September to allow Senators time to get their constituents’ view during the August recess. It’s important that our views be heard.

Which is all to say, to ensure that anything that cramps the business-as-usual, carry us down the path to catastrophic climate through continued rampant use of fossil fuels, plans of the petroleum industry is pushed aside in continued favor of big profits.

Further more the API will join with the US Chamber of Commerce, the National Association of Manufacturers, the trucking industry, the agricultural sector and others to stage these rallies.

Thoughts By the Way: The Day Vashon Fell
Tom Herring is a former Vashon Island Community Council member, but now chooses to sort nails in his shop. Catch more of Tom’s thoughts on his blog.

The day Vashon fell was the day the dump was renamed a transfer station. This was in 1998. In 1990 the dump had provided the lamp over my writing chair. The fourteen inch bowl of its white enameled reflector is perfect. I hope the fool who dumped it is forgiven at hiserher accounting. Were this lamp to have been dumped, ah, transferred after the fall it would have had a few more minutes of life before a giant machine smeared with the remnants of previous kills would have started its diesel and lowered its blade. The blade would have shoved the lamp against the wall, rotated up, and dumped into a waiting container. At the base of the wall, a pitiful remnant missed by the blade would lie in mute witness to the deed. The filled container is loaded by machine onto a semi that proceeds to the ferry. For the ride to Seattle, the County pays the State a large equivalent of a car and driver ticket. Round trip, of course, but with a one-way surcharge for the increased weight. A similar process attends the transfer of nominal recyclables, and to a lesser degree, septic pump out. This carting off of waste is the unacknowledged sign of our vulnerability, for we cannot prevent the cost from increasing. It’s a pay toilet: no dime, keep your feces.

Oh, sure, the dump had reached the feasible limit. But to what kind of mind did that automatically mean pouring a bunch of concrete? Heaven forbid that the fill up suggested stepping back for a long look at our throwaway habit. Had the County taken that look it might have realized that transfer was a subliminal message reinforcing the habit. So here’s a well-delayed long look. Using your sink disposer, grind all veggie waste into compost. Take most trash to a sorting yard run by residents, you heard me, residents. What they don’t want goes to a factory for conversion to usable form. Us consumers would self-sort those things obviously headed for the factory: containers, paper and demolition debris. Septic largely should be replaced by composting, and gray water recycled on site. Meat waste could be ground into the septic compost. A different problem, finally, is violation of the current recycle rules: we’re supposed to remove lids, do this and not do that, but we don’t. Part of our alibi is that we do not know what follows that toss into the bin. We would profitably be entertained by a tutorial film on recycling machinations. As to that factory, it might need to be built, but then again, if there happened to be an unused factory about, then that concrete need not be poured, needn’t it not?

Closing the offal cycle on-island naturally opens up the long look to energy, burning, water, and our economy.

There’s enough heat energy radiated to us to completely satisfy our tap water and space heat needs. Don’t know how? Shame on us. The Chinese have invented a solar hot water heater that accepts mains water open loop. Translation: half the cost of a closed loop system. Furthermore, most new home design is constrained by the County’s permit department and the Washington Building Industry Association. The new house, forget home, across the street from our sixties thinly insulated rambler has three storeys of sun-ignorant stick-built cubic feet to keep warm with hot air. So I don’t want to imply that solar energy will cook common sense into the County’s permit department or into their deputies, the building contractors. Between the two of them there is little hope for a native industry of acclimated home design.

As to burning, the long look will include calculation of Vashon’s net carbon flow. Set aside the cars for a moment and consider how much carbon our greenery is soaking up. This is a lot of work and much wear on the seat of pants, but our forest stewards could do it. Next, add up typical burning; maybe our new fire chief could help there. Add in the carbon vaporized by our lawnmowers and such, and the carbon vaporized by our gas furnaces. A few months work and, bingo, Vashon will have a net generation or a net soakup of x carbon dioxide per year. I did this very roughly in my blog last year and found Vashon to be soaking up more than it emitted. I did not believe this, but it was a fun exercise. One result of the exercise would be to help a homeowner decide how to deal with hiserher summer biomess. We generally compost half and burn half, but don’t press me for a written record.

Water is even more in the news these days on account of island growth and the dark cloud of global change. Yet little has been accomplished beyond iteration of a litany of conservation tips. The primary reason for this odd stasis is Vashon’s fragmented water management which in turn is supported by the State’s piecemeal public utility management. One result is that Vashon water is not remote metered. Most of the rest of the US uses remote meter reading. Benefit to our several water companies would be equaled by benefit to users who would be able to meter showers and irrigation on the spot in real time. Not to mention instant leak detection. Proven savings in usage range upward from fifteen percent nationwide.

The salient feature of Vashon’s failed economy is the ferry lines that adorn each end of the island and plug up Fauntleroy’s arterial. Islanders get in line because of lack of industry, loss of cultivated land, and increase in population. It used to be that chickens, berries, and apples were major props to island economy. Uh, um, counting the ski factory. Let’s count the passings. The first to pass were the chickens, well gone when we got here in 1969, Next, in the seventies, away went the berries. Next the skis. At the same time these jobs and products went away, consumption increased due to an influx of professionals and retirees. And why not! Do you realize the allure of a pastoral oasis just minutes from the crush of King County the landmass? You do? Then you must comprehend the double whammy of beds replacing jobs. Case in bold point, Vashon Hardware, extinct c.1990. Smack in the middle of the old wooden floor there is a “Russian” wood stove that economically heated the cavernous old building. Now the building is an up-scale restaurant with the stove shut down to accommodate more seating. The formula for the extinction and malformed rebirth included national chain hardware stores taking over. Numerous schemes by which the old store could have adapted to that competition were shelved by the County permit department. Yes, yes, de facto and all that, but still. Look, menwomen, there’s no law of nature that says you have to roll over when the two-party financial complex feeds you pap. Vashon “Hardware” is an example of the rollover mindset that has allowed the K2 factory to wallow in controversy instead of providing jobs to make products for island use. And now, land. Keep that in mind while we take a cruise down the aisles of our supermarkets. Where does all this delicious and delightful stuff come from? And by what means? Remember the pay toilet that opened this column? Well, here’s the Automats. Put in a nickel and get a cheese on rye, except it won’t be a nickel will it. Our beautiful Thriftway will fade when Vashon follows California into bankruptcy. So then, here’s a final question and a thought. Could Vashon grow enough food to keep its present population alive and well? What a vision, the last big island in Puget Sound becoming a car-free oasis of sanity.

Our Climate Crisis: Brain Dead at the Wheel: Cash for Clunkers
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.

Last weeks’ GT column, The Daily Green: 2 Reasons Cash for Clunkers Should End (and 1 Reason It Should Live Again,) misses this central fact about all new cars: Each new car produced — electric, hybrid, compact, gas guzzler — emits 6-12 tons of CO2 during resource extraction, transportation, manufacture, and transportation, again, before it reaches the showroom.

Car manufacturers and we, The People, don’t want to acknowledge this stat. It guts the entire new car industry since it reveals the utter non-sustainability of our cars, even before we buy them. It guts our Killer Car Culture.

In 2007, more than 73 million motor vehicles (cars and commercial vehicles) were produced worldwide. In 2007, a total of 71.9 million new automobiles were sold worldwide. 19.4 million of those cars were sold in the U.S. and Canada.

At an average of 9 tons of CO2 emitted per car manufactured, that’s 657 millions tons of CO2 emitted globally and 180 millions tons of CO2 emitted for the American market.

Are we brain-dead at the wheel? Is anyone left not so corrupted by our Killing Machines — our cars — that we cannot see the lethal folly, the child-killing, murderous folly of driving our cars?

Are we brain-dead? The enormous political and grassroots popularity of Cash-For-Clunkers says we are.

Write me if you are not. Please.

Un-Spinning the Spin: “I Don’t Vote — It Only Encourages Them”
Maryrose Asher is a former Chair of the Green Party of Washington State and a tireless activist of many causes.

Whenever a primary or general election comes around, I always think of my husband’s aunt. When asked who she voted for, she would always reply, “I don’t vote. It only encourages them.” With ballots now in our hands and the August 18 deadline looming, I have been giving her words some thought.

While working at the computer one day, on a lark I decided to do an internet search for “why I don’t vote” and was surprised at what I found. For this week’s column, it seemed timely to share some of the reasons given for not voting.

The first is a New York Times column by Stephen J. Dubner and Steven D. Levitt, “Why Vote?” (November 6, 2005).

Within the economics departments at certain universities, there is a famous but probably apocryphal story about two world-class economists who run into each other at the voting booth.
“What are you doing here?” one asks.
“My wife made me come,” the other says.
The first economist gives a confirming nod. “The same.”
After a mutually sheepish moment, one of them hatches a plan: “If you promise never to tell anyone you saw me here, I’ll never tell anyone I saw you.” They shake hands, finish their polling business and scurry off.

Why would an economist be embarrassed to be seen at the voting booth? Because voting exacts a cost – in time, effort, lost productivity – with no discernible payoff except perhaps some vague sense of having done your “civic duty.” As the economist Patricia Funk wrote in a recent paper, “A rational individual should abstain from voting.”
The quote by Patricia Funk is taken from her research paper, “Theory and Evidence on the role of Social Norms in Voting.” In the research paper, Funk’s statement is footnoted with this back-up data from Anthony Downs, author of An Economic Theory of Democracy.

Downs (1957) was the first to present the “Calculus of Voting”: The net payoff from voting is described as p · B − C, where p denotes the probability of changing the voting outcome and B the net-benefit from having the preferred voting outcome instead of the outcome which results, if no vote is handed in. Since p is close to zero, the expected instrumental benefit p · B is roughly zero and definitely smaller than C.

Dubner and Levitt state “the odds that your vote will actually affect the outcome of a given election are very, very, very slim” and use data from economists Casey Mulligan and Charles Hunter who analyzed over 56,000 elections (congressional and state legislature) dating from 1898 to 1992. Of over 40,000 elections for state legislator (nearly 1 billion votes) only seven elections were decided by a single vote (2 others tied). As for Congressional elections that have larger voter participation, there has been only one election in the last 100 years that was decided by one vote, a 1910 race in Buffalo.

If it actually came down to a close race, the outcome would be determined by a “handful of voters,” namely the U.S. Supreme Court (remember 2000 presidential election?), not that ideological single voter who manages to make it to the polls to cast the decisive ballot.

As to why people continue to vote, Dubner and Levitt pose the following:

1. Perhaps we are just not very bright and therefore wrongly believe that our votes will affect the outcome.

2. Perhaps we vote in the same spirit in which we buy lottery tickets. After all, your chances of winning a lottery and of affecting an election are pretty similar. From a financial perspective, playing the lottery is a bad investment. But it’s fun and relatively cheap: for the price of a ticket, you buy the right to fantasize how you’d spend the winnings – much as you get to fantasize that your vote will have some impact on policy.

3. Perhaps we have been socialized into the voting-as-civic-duty idea, believing that it’s a good thing for society if people vote, even if it’s not particularly good for the individual. And thus we feel guilty for not voting.

If you guessed #3, you are right. As proof, Dubner and Levitt again use data from Patricia Funk’s research on voter behavior. It seems the Swiss love to vote but when the switch was made from going to the polls to mail-in ballots, voter participation dropped.

It goes back to the incentives behind voting. If a given citizen doesn’t stand a chance of having her vote affect the outcome, why does she bother? In Switzerland, as in the U.S., “there exists a fairly strong social norm that a good citizen should go to the polls,” Funk writes. “As long as poll-voting was the only option, there was an incentive (or pressure) to go to the polls only to be seen handing in the vote. The motivation could be hope for social esteem, benefits from being perceived as a cooperator or just the avoidance of informal sanctions. Since in small communities, people know each other better and gossip about who fulfills civic duties and who doesn’t, the benefits of norm adherence were particularly high in this type of community.”

In other words, we do vote out of self-interest – a conclusion that will satisfy economists – but not necessarily the same self-interest as indicated by our actual ballot choice. For all the talk of how people “vote their pocketbooks,” the Swiss study suggests that we may be driven to vote less by a financial incentive than a social one. It may be that the most valuable payoff of voting is simply being seen at the polling place by your friends or co-workers.
Unless, of course, you happen to be an economist.

I also found an essay by Michael S. Rozeff who is a retired Professor of Finance living in East Amherst, New York, titled “Why I Do Not Vote” (September 2008).

Here are his reasons:

I don’t wish to endorse the system that I think is no good. If I vote I am saying that I believe in voting and that I believe in majority rule. I don’t believe in majority rule as applied to the political situations in which it is used.

I don’t believe in representative government under our Constitution. The Constitution has no legitimate authority over me. I have never signed off on it.
I do not wish to endorse a system that has produced and continues to produce what I think are pragmatically bad results.

I do not wish to endorse a system that has produced and continues to produce what I think are evil results. My religious beliefs are totally inconsistent with what the State does.

I don’t vote because I believe that everyone should be able to exercise the right of political choice. By that, I mean the right to choose the kind of system he or she wants to live with. It does not mean selecting a candidate who then works within a system not of your choice. I want to choose my dessert. I want ice cream. I do not want to be told that I can choose raspberry or lemon jello, or write in orange jello if I feel like it.

I don’t vote because I do not want to confuse myself. I believe in dissolving the national government and the Constitution. If I vote, I am more likely to start thinking that my aim is reform of the system. It isn’t. My aim is that each of us has the liberty to choose his own system of government. If I voted, I’d soon become confused. A good example of such confusion is the Libertarian Party.

I do not vote because I have no intention of imposing my system on you. If my candidate won, I would not want him to impose a system on the minority that it did not want. I don’t want the majority to impose its system on me now, so I cannot be in favor of my imposing my system on them if I win an election.

Rozeff obviously does not believe in the system. He goes on to state the reasons he still would not vote if he DID believe in the system.

The main reason for that is that my vote is totally meaningless. The representatives will vote on many items that they should not be voting on when they get in office. My vote has no impact on how they vote on these many affairs. I would be fooling myself if I thought it did.

A secondary reason is that I get no psychological satisfaction from identifying myself with a party or candidate. They invariably do things I dislike, and I have no way of registering any control over them.

For a short (1 min) video on the subject, click here.

As for me, I did fill out my official ballot, signed and dated it, and sealed the envelope. It is now sitting on my desk where it has been for the last three days waiting for me to drop it in the mailbox. At this point, I am sorely tempted to just toss it.

Why Vote? – New York Times
Why I Do Not Vote by Michael S. Rozeff
Why I Don’t Vote by Mark Reynolds
Patricia Funk – Theory and Evidence on the role of Social Norms in Voting
Dubner and Levitt are also authors of “Freakonomics: A Rogue Economist Explores the Hidden Side of Everything.” You can find more information on the academic research behind their column at their website.

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

August 18, 1963: James Meredith, the first African-American to attend the University of Mississippi, became the first to graduate. His enrollment in the University a year earlier had been met with deadly riots, forcing him to attend class escorted by heavily armed guards.

August 21, 1968: The Czechoslovakian people spontaneously and nonviolently resisted invasion of their country of 14 million by hundreds of thousands of troops and 5000+ tanks from the Soviet Union and four other Warsaw Pact countries. The troops were enforcing the overthrow and arrest of Alexander Dubcek and his government. They had been implementing significant democratic reforms known collectively as “socialism with a human face,” or the Prague Spring.

August 22, 1971: The FBI arrested twenty in Camden, New Jersey, and five in Buffalo, New York, for conspiracy to steal and destroy draft records. Eventually known as the Camden 28, most were Roman Catholic activists, including four priests, and a Lutheran minister.

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.

Feminism is needed more than ever

Just received a Washington Green Party e-letter with an article dismissing “Feminism” as an outdated term. Defining feminism is up to women who know the pain of sexism without relief, as it is up to oppressed to be able to define their dealings with dominator. Sexism harms all life as do all forms of oppression. We must all work to end sexism so well utilized by free trade, ecocidal, femicidal, and genocidal profiteering.

Blessings Greener Times

Speaking of rethinking Key Values, i have had a hard time with the Green Party key value of “Respecting Diversity” ever since i first started working with the Greens back in the ’80’s. It should be “Dismantling Racism and Ending Genocide”. But i have had virtually no response to this and continue to this day keeping myself educated and fighting for equality for all, often a solitary endeavor.

I must say, when i read Maryrose Asher’s piece about the need to move away from the term “Feminism”, my heart started beating and i felt a deeply personal response to this as one involved in an often isolated battle against domination; sexism, racism, classism.

Given the fact that little has been done on the part of MOST men to end the curse of sexism in the alternative or progressive culture, much less the dominator culture at large, i find it really disingenuous to in any way malign the term Feminism. It’s basic meaning is “the movement of women to attain equality to men”. It is critical to pay attention to who skews what in the information we are allowed access to.

Those who work globally in addressing the horrid plague of femicide (see Eve Ensler’s work) know how grave sexism continues to be. From the horrid torture-mutilation-rape-murders of over 800 young women in Ciudad de Juarez to the same type of horror impacting over 3,000 women in Guatemala in the past decade to the 50,000 rapes a year in South Africa to the 500,000 mutilation-rapes in the Congo spanning the dreadful previous 10 years to the 1000 plus child sex slaves in Seattle, we are looking at a mere fraction of what free trade war culture has inculcated.

No, the term “Feminism” has not outlived it’s usefulness. I do not believe we, as human beings, are ready to replace it unless we come up with a word that can more precisely address the insane imbalance escalating due to greed, rape and pillage of land, resources, plant, animal and human life.

Whether it is several non profit organizations in the region where i live with men in power demeaning women with less or very serious and deadly realities women in California will now face with a complete cutting of the Domestic violence victims support budget, (thank you Arnold) we have a long, long way to go towards equality.

When men come out in the millions to denounce what is being done to women all over this fragile and suffering earth, i will consider a new term. I have not even had the pleasure of witnessing more than a handful of men ever taking a stand against rape, battering, femicide and for authentic equality. It just is not common. Scattered at best. Lip service does not cut it. Some white men who supposedly oppose racism or femicide have shown their true colors, then claim undeserved status as egalitarians. Too many times i have worked on these issues with men who use privilege and power to make documentaries as a means to seek status while abusing women or people of color they work with. The failure of equity as a crucial tool of activism is sadly lacking in my wide experiences working on human rights, environmental and women’s issues through out the west.

When i was younger and more naive, i actually believed that we would do something deep and authentic for justice and equality. I have put my all into such work and received death threats for my efforts as do women (and men) all over the world who speak out against insane atrocities. I suffer extremes of poverty, silencing and isolation because i am considered extreme by those who are untouched by the depths of such suffering. It is my sisters and brothers who have had their relatives murdered due to gender, race or class who encourage me to keep on. Overwhelmingly, it is not the privileged who support my work, this i know. Very few people of upper class have supported me and i honor those who do for i would be homeless without these rare gems. Day to day, it is the most marginalized who recognize the struggle for basic human rights.

I came across an article i sent to the Earth First! journal 14 years ago. I could have written it today, except to say that EF! has taken on anti oppression in a way that was not happening back then. The article was never printed. I asked for it to be returned along with dozens of photos i took of the Cove Mallard road block. The article came back, but the photos were kept and used while i was never given credit for my efforts.

To this day, men take credit for my work and ideas, refusing to acknowledge the source. How original. I have been enduring this for over 30 years. I am a grunt who struggles in the trenches of the front lines of justice. I know what it is to not be heard and yet i continue to squeal with the injustice i witness.

I dream of the day when i will be able to be part of a mass movement to end ecocide, femicide and genocide for all time. We must be able to see the broader connections brought down on all of life by the greed mongers. We must recognize how divide and conquer works and name it where it applies. Women and people of color who replicate the dominator killing ways do not ever represent what it means to attain equality. A fine example is the military. There is not equality to be had in arming with assault weapons or depleted uranium. There is no equality to be had when thousands of military women have been raped and assaulted by their fellow male soldiers. We cannot confuse the term “Feminism” with war mongers like Hillary Clinton, Margaret Thatcher and others of such ilk. Power is not allowed to define the reality for the oppressed. It is up to those suffering to name their reality, not those who do not know the experience of being on life’s bottom.

I believe the Feminist Majority needs to be held accountable for their position on maintaining a military presence in Afghanistan. It is inexcusable to promote the military in an way. How many US soldiers have raped women in Afghanistan? How are US women soldiers faring there as well? What makes anyone think that the military will solve any of the dire issues humanity faces?

Please remember, it is not up to the Feminist Majority to lay total claim to what feminism is. Nor are war monger replicators such as Hillary Clinton, Margaret Thatcher, Ann Coulter, Sarah Palin and countless others in any way representative of what feminism truly is. We cannot allow those who gravitate towards modes of domination to shape the heart and soul of a movement for authentic equality. Such is the responsibility of participating in shaping a livable and healthy future. We must be ever vigilant to keep the vision and reality as true as possible.

I keep writing to NGOs and UN affiliated organizations in an effort to educate them about the UN hiring known death squads and mercenaries as UN Peacekeepers. No one ever responds. It is documented that the notorious Kaibiles, US Marine Special Forces trained battalions responsible for some of the worst massacres in Guatemalan history, were hired as UN Peacekeepers in the Congo. In a recent piece written after returning from a rape survivors camp in the Congo, Eve Ensler describes the Peacekeepers as facilitating and protecting rapists there.

I feel it is critical to commit to giving voice to the most voiceless among us. I do not go to Green Party meetings any longer due to the minimization of racism and to the silencing i experienced. I would rather operate as a free lance human rights worker rather than continue being shut down by men or those women who replicate dominator behaviors. What ALL humanity must contend with now is so deadly serious. We must see that when women have basic human rights, it is to the benefit of all. Women, true Feminists, do not seek revenge, domination or corruption. How will we come together to truly put a halt to killing greed in all it’s facets?

This is a very important topic. May we grapple with respect over the language needed to pinpoint what it is we wish to see in the world. Feminism is a critical component yet i am open to continued discussion. I do feel strongly that “Respect For Diversity” is a key value that i do believe has never addressed adequately the serious nature of racism and ongoing genocide. Equality is the undisputed goal. How will that happen?
~ swaneagle harijan ~

Pencil Shavings: Just a Brief Note
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.

Since this week’s edition of GT is already filled to the gills with information, I’m not going to write very much here. I merely wish to share with you a snippet from the Tao Te Ching which I think could be a strong rallying cry for the environmental movement. To wit,

The universe is sacred.
You cannot improve it.
If you try to change it, you will ruin it.
If you try to hold it, you will lose it.

News You May Have Missed

Is It Now a Crime to Be Poor?
IT’S too bad so many people are falling into poverty at a time when it’s almost illegal to be poor. You won’t be arrested for shopping in a Dollar Store, but if you are truly, deeply, in-the-streets poor, you’re well advised not to engage in any of the biological necessities of life — like sitting, sleeping, lying down or loitering. City officials boast that there is nothing discriminatory about the ordinances that afflict the destitute, most of which go back to the dawn of gentrification in the ’80s and ’90s. “If you’re lying on a sidewalk, whether you’re homeless or a millionaire, you’re in violation of the ordinance,” a city attorney in St. Petersburg, Fla., said in June, echoing Anatole France’s immortal observation that “the law, in its majestic equality, forbids the rich as well as the poor to sleep under bridges…”

The Brutal Truth About America’s Healthcare
They came in their thousands, queuing through the night to secure one of the coveted wristbands offering entry into a strange parallel universe where medical care is a free and basic right and not an expensive luxury. Some of these Americans had walked miles simply to have their blood pressure checked, some had slept in their cars in the hope of getting an eye-test or a mammogram, others had brought their children for immunisations that could end up saving their life. In the week that Britain’s National Health Service was held aloft by Republicans as an “evil and Orwellian” example of everything that is wrong with free healthcare, these extraordinary scenes in Inglewood, California yesterday provided a sobering reminder of exactly why President Barack Obama is trying to reform the US system. The LA Forum, the arena that once hosted sell-out Madonna concerts, has been transformed – for eight days only – into a vast field hospital. In America, the offer of free healthcare is so rare, that news of the magical medical kingdom spread rapidly and long lines of prospective patients snaked around the venue for the chance of getting everyday treatments that many British people take for granted…

A Quiet Revolution in Bicycles
Bicycles were invented over 200 years ago and were used for many years as significant and efficient means of human transport. But over the past 40 years, bicycles lost their status in the US as human transportation vehicles, due to inexpensive oil and far-flung suburban development. Since both of those factors favored automobile usage, the bicycle industry responded by refocusing their marketing strategy to promote bikes as recreational objects, only to be carted out on weekends and vacation time. For many years this has been the status quo, with the typical bikes available in many bike shops catering to the weekend warrior, not the utilitarian cyclist. But in response to concerns over oil dependency and the environment, a quiet revolution started brewing in the mid-1990s that produced new bicycle designs and features, reinventing the bicycle as a significant mode of transportation…

June’s Record Ocean Warmth Worries Fishermen, Environmentalists
Ocean surface temperatures around the world were the warmest on record for the month of June, according to federal scientists, though they caution that one month doesn’t necessarily imply global warming. The warmer temperatures do confirm that an ocean phenomenon known as El Nino is building in the Pacific Ocean. Some scientists think that the rising temperatures hint at broader changes, perhaps resulting from global climate change. Environmentalists and fishermen are wary of what it may mean…


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