Greener Times

Promoting a sustainable society…one day at a time.

August 24 – 30

Posted by Trey Smith on August 25, 2009

Greener Times for the Week of August 24 – 30
Volume 4 No. 19
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
* Colleges Without Rocking Enviro Programs Are Failed Businesses
* How to Spot a Conservative
* Thoughts By the Way: Onion
* Our Climate Crisis: Hansen Endorses Climate SOS Campaign
* Un-Spinning the Spin: My Happiness Bears No Relation to Happiness
* This Week in History
* Pencil Shavings: We Still Need The Dream
* News You May Have Missed

Colleges Without Rocking Enviro Programs Are Failed Businesses
by Auden Schendler for Grist

Every time Sierra Magazine comes out with its top green colleges list I get pissed off that my alma mater, Bowdoin College, doesn’t make the cut. And the reason I’m pissed is that it seems to me that even if you didn’t care one little tiny bit about climate or environment—if all you cared about was endowment, physical plant, and US News ranking—as an undergraduate institution you’d create a killer Enviornmental Studies program with a climate focus simply to recruit students and make money as a business.

Why? Because people are banging down the doors, almost literally, to study the interface between climate, politics and business so they can be part of the great challenge of our lives. And schools that train people well in that field will not only do well as both businesses and schools, they will also meet the needs of their students.

Perhaps more importantly, it’s the job of an institution of higher learning to prepare its students for the world in which they live; it’s also important to be in tune with the issues of our time. And if you’re Bowdoin and other schools, part of your mission is also to improve the world. To its credit, Bowdoin is moving in the right direction. But it’s getting crushed by archrivals like Bates (WTF!) and Middlebury. The hottness of the subject of climate, energy and business is so great that I get a call a week from Middlebury grads (!) who are well-trained and understand the key issues. It’s a huge testament to Middlebury’s success that right now we’ve got one Midd grad working for us [at Aspen Skiing Company] on sustainability and another interning. It’s no accident.

Schools that want to remain viable and relevant would be well advised to take a lesson from Middlebury and the other great schools on the top 20 list. The lesson could be a moral one: this is the work of our society, so it’s your job to eduate to it. But it could also be a financial lesson: when my kids look at colleges, 15 years from now, you can bet your hat they’re going to be scrutinizing the Environmental Studies program, and partly basing their decision to spend hundreds of thousands of my hard-earned cash to go there (brief pause while I have a momentary breakdown/panic attack over this thought). They will pick the school with the very best program because 20 years from now, if you’re not climate-focused, you’re not going to be anything. (In the same way, architecture programs without a green focus are dead and worthless programs today, if then even exist at all.)

Hopefully, my kids will have a wide range of easy choices, since the schools lacking such programs will be out of business.

Top Green Colleges list

How to Spot a Conservative
from the Progressive Review

Here are some clues for spotting a conservative. Remember, not all conservatives talk and look like George Bush or Bill O’Reilly. Some conservatives even like to use the word change without telling you what it means. This handy guide may help you discover whether you accidentally voted for one recently.

* Supports Af-Pak war
* Supports leaving a large colonial military force in and around Iraq.
* Spends more money helping big banks than helping people threatened with foreclosures.
* Spends more money bailing out big auto manufacturers than bailing out small business.
* Supports unconstitutional wiretapping by agencies like the NSA
* Supports the anti-gay Defense of Marriage Act.
* Supports the futile, expensive and deadly war on drugs.
* Supports withholding funds from cities that refuse to privatize some of their public schools.
* Supports preventive detention.
* Supports computerized strip searches of air passengers.
* Wants to overturn long-standing law that stops police from initiating questions unless a defendant’s lawyer is present.
* Favors continuation of secret searches of library and bookstore data files
* Supports giving cabinet level powers to numerous ‘czars’ in an end run around the constitution.
* Opposes prosecuting George Bush and members of his administration for war and other crimes.

Thoughts By the Way: Onion
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.

For the past three years I have been peeling my onion of misunderstanding in order to find out why repeated and widespread opposition has failed to deflect the US government from its destructive course. With the help of Howard Zinn’s history book I have concluded that the opposition has missed its target. While true that the complicity of both parties in maintaining the course had become clear to many, and true that avatars of the destruction have been plentiful in both democratic and republican administrations, it had not become clear to me that the destructive course had begun long before and, in fact, had taken root in the granite of Plymouth and the swamps of Jamestown. The opposition has been targeting symptoms.

My own progress from naive ostrich to valiant armchair activist may be somewhat typical. It began with Aaron Dixon’s Green Party campaign for the Senate. I learned that Dixon was good, third party was good, Democrats were chameleons, and the Republicans were bad. As the months and then the years passed I learned that indeed Dixon is a fine man but that the two parties are actually tools of a single power. That in itself is a major realization, and today still is shared only by a minority. But until I read Zinn, I did not realize how far back the single power is rooted.

What had been planted that could have given issue to such a history? Extermination of the Indians was mounted with religious zeal. The Revolutionary War was a business proposition. The Civil War was a Northern elite grab for advantage over the agrarian South in the opening of the West. The Spanish-American war was pure US empire expansion under “false flag” . The takeover of the Philippines was particularly brutal in the use of waterboarding. Wilson’s entry into WW I was an egomaniacal attempt to take over Europe. FDR’s genius was to provide impeccable civic cover for giving big business the store. He managed the European sector of WW II so as to further US postwar influence in Europe while at the same time turning back Jews fleeing Hitler. He provoked Japan into attacking so that in war the US could get control of indo-asian natural resources. Truman bombed Hiroshima so that Japan would surrender to the US instead of to Russia; Russia had been scheduled to enter the war against Japan. Nagasaki was bombed even though Truman was told there was a POW camp there. The Korean war was started to gain US control of the peninsula. Viet Nam was a false flag continuation of US seeking control of indo-asian resources. The Cold War was a device to keep the US military-industrial complex healthy, The “war on terror” was planned from the start to gain US hegemony in Asia. In Central America US-funded and trained death squads have furthered the interests of US corporations to this day. What had been planted, freedom?

Loss of life in 9/11 multiplied by at least three orders of magnitude gives a rough measure of the killing accomplished by United States administrations prior to GHW Bush in undeclared warfare. Freedom, or false flag?

Between the civil war and WWII, police, national guards, and corporation thugs like Pinkerton’s committed massacres of protesters and their children totaling in number four or five thousand. Freedom?

The root cause of the pitiable US history of abuse is human nature. Handed the amber waves of grain, purple mountain majesties, and fruited plain, the pioneers got sorted in a kind of greed spectrometer, akin to the mass spectrometer that sorts molecules by heaviness instead of chemical property. The Morgans, the Rockefellers, the Jay Cookes had the greed and the talent to move out ahead of the pack. Up to a point. When that point was reached, rebellion was put down by force. Talent turned pragmatic as the rebels were given pap and a toy steering wheel called democratic elections. The resulting middle class then got increasingly better pap, even plasma television, and were content. But then, incredibly, the rich began to run out of virgin grist and began wars to maintain hegemony. The rich have become wolverines backed into a corner and have given up all pretense of civility. Those of us willing to be bought off, like Patty Murray, are bought off. Those of us who are addicted to pap refuse to hit the streets but are prolific with brilliant denunciation of the avatars of dominance. Those with vision and courage hit the streets. Organizations of opposition abound but do not agree on target. I hope I get this right: most organizations target Congress. But this target is armored with lots of money, so the organizations are outclassed. The correct target is the public majority high on pap with no loved ones in Iraq. Take it from there, somebody.

A Peoples History of the United States, by Howard Zinn

Our Climate Crisis: Hansen Endorses Climate SOS Campaign
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.

Prominent climate scientist James Hansen, who has called cap-and-trade schemes a “Temple of Doom”, has personally endorsed our Climate SOS campaign to kill a cap-and-trade bill in the United States Senate.

Occupying offices of key senators and Nonviolent Civil Disobedience will be among peaceful tactics used by our group. I am one of the national organizers for Climate SOS.

Climate SOS will kick off our national “Green Bill or No Bill” tour on September 8 in Bismarck, North Dakota. “Days of Occupation” on the West Coast and the East Coast will be triggered by other Midwest tour stops in Indianapolis (September 11), Little Rock, Arkansas (September 15 and Cleveland, Ohio (September 18).

“People of conscience simply can no longer stand by and allow U.S. policy makers to engage in endless delay and compromise”, said Rachel Smolker of Biofuelwatch and a Climate SOS leader. “If we do not do what is needed to drastically slow the global warming process, we will be faced with millions of deaths (and) mass extinctions.”

Hansen has said cap-and-trade would “do more harm to the environment than doing nothing at all.”

The U.S. House of Representatives passed a cap-and-trade bill in June. President Obama has pledged to sign into law cap-and-trade legislation approved by the Senate and the House.

The Climate SOS tour will target states where US Senators are “on the fence,” in North Dakota, Indiana, Arkansas, Nebraska, Ohio, West Virginia, and Pennsylvania. The Climate SOS tour will also touch down in New York, Massachusetts, Vermont, California, Oregon, and Washington.

Climate SOS supports the filibuster strategy adopted by Democratic opponents of the cap-and-trade bill. The filibuster seeks to prevent the cap-and-trade bill from coming to a vote on the floor of the Senate. Killing the bill in committee or stopping it before a full Senate vote are tactics endorsed by Climate SOS. Occupying offices of fence-sitting senators and Nonviolent Civil Disobedience support these strategies.

Climate SOS aggressively opposes any of these provisions in the Senate bill that were included in the recently passed House cap-and-trade bill:
* The bill’s atmospheric carbon target of 450 ppm is too high. Hansen’s 2008 study established 300-350ppm as necessary targets to avoid climate “cataclysm”.
* Cap and trade, as a scheme for reducing emissions, will be ineffective and rife with problems.
* Carbon offsets are not an acceptable substitute for the direct reduction of pollution.
* The EPA must be authorized to regulate carbon dioxide emissions under the bill.
* Incineration technologies should not be categorized as “renewable”.
* Carbon-accounting loopholes specific to wood and trash biomass burning must be closed.
* Forest protection provisions must include protection of water, resource and human rights for forest-dwellers and local populations plus habitat preservation for all species.
• Power from coal-burning plants must be quickly phased out instead of expanded.
* All biofuels regulation must remain with the EPA.
* Indirect land use change must be restored as a determinant in Renewable Fuel Standard calculations.

Un-Spinning the Spin: My Happiness Bears No Relation to Happiness
Maryrose Asher is a former Chair of the Green Party of Washington State and a tireless activist of many causes.

My Happiness Bears No Relation to Happiness: A Poet’s Life in the Palestinian Century

If you are looking for a good book to read while enjoying these last weeks of summer, I would recommend My Happiness Bears No Relation to Happiness: A Poet’s Life in the Palestinian Century by Adina Hoffman. This is the first major biography of a Palestinian poet.

Arabic scholar Michael Sells (John Henry Barrows Professor of Islamic History and Literature in the Divinity School, the University of Chicago), writes:

Adina Hoffman has given us a superbly composed meditation upon memory, truth, and conflict in the Middle East. The texture of her prose, the improbable transformations of key characters, and above all their human depth and complexity, contribute to a luminous portrait of the Palestinian poet Taha Muhammad Ali and of his world. I would place My Happiness Bears No Relation to Happiness among the five ”must read” books on the Israel-Palestine tragedy.

Through this heart-breaking tale, you will learn more than statistics or historical facts about the Jewish and Arab history in Palestine but the raw, emotional toll on those involved. As American poet William.Stanley Merwin writes in his review of the book, Ali’s life “becomes a mirror of a world which we have glimpsed, until now, largely in broken fragments,” and, from the review in the Economist, “Veering between biography, history, journalism and memoir, this painstakingly researched work is a human-scale picture of the…under-reported history of the Palestinians in Israel as well as an accessible introduction to their poetry.”

In May 1948, the state of Israel was formally established following the UN partition proposal of November 1947. On the night of July 15, 1948, the Israeli army bombed the ancient village of Suffuriyya located in the district of Galilee in the northern part of Palestine. All 5,023 residents were forced to leave their homes and become refugees.

One young man, Taha Muhammad Ali, was 17 years old when he and his family lost their home. Hoffman uses his story to reconstruct the memories of Suffuriyya and its diaspora in order to portray the human side of this tragedy.

Israeli accounts state that it was the Arab leaders who told the villagers to leave. However, eyewitnesses, such as Ali, reveal that the Israelis bombed the village the night before, causing the villagers to flee for their lives. They were never allowed to return and Suffurriyya, an ancient Palestinian village, was physically erased from where it once stood, only to live in the memories of its refugees.

In the Israeli military archive at Tel Hashomer, Hoffman finds the flight plans and bombing reports to substantiate Arab oral reports. She pieces together an unbiased account of “how a place changed from being the homeland of one people to the homeland of another.”

Ali traveled by foot to Lebanon, returning a year later to find his village completely destroyed. He then traveled to Nazareth and ran a souvenir shop while honing his skills as a poet and is now considered one of the leading contemporary Palestinian poets. It is perhaps Ali’s poetry that is most compelling. His life has been marred by violence and, although his poetry is marked by sadness, underneath is the determination to survive.

Lovers of hunting,
and beginners seeking your prey:
Don’t aim your rifles
at my happiness,
which isn’t worth
the price of the bullet
(you’d waste on it).
What seems to you
so nimble and fine,
like a fawn,
and flees
every which way,
like a partridge,
isn’t happiness.
Trust me:
my happiness bears
no relation to happiness.

When I was a child
I fell into the abyss
but didn’t die;
I drowned in the pond
when I was young,
but did not die;
and now, God help us—
one of my habits is running
into battalions of land mines
along the border,
as my songs
and the days of my youth
are dispersed:
here a flower,
there a scream;
and yet,
I do not die!
They butchered me
on the doorstep
like a lamb for the feast—
in the veins of petroleum;
In God’s name
they slit my throat
from ear to ear
a thousand times,
and each time
my dripping blood would swing
back and forth
like the feet of a man
hanged from a gallows,
and come to rest,
a large, crimson mallow
a beacon
to guide ships
and mark
the site of palaces
and embassies.
And tomorrow,
God help us—
the phone won’t ring
in a brothel or castle,
and not in a single Gulf Emirate,
except to offer a new prescription
for my extermination.
But …
just as the mallow tells us,
and as the borders know,
I won’t die! I will not die!!
I’ll linger on—a piece of shrapnel
the size of a penknife
lodged in the neck;
I’ll remain—
a blood stain
the size of a cloud
on the shirt of this world!

Note: Poems above from Never Mind: Twenty Poems and a Story, translated by Peter Cole, Yahya Hijazi, and Gabriel Levin (Ibis Editions 2000).

About the Author
Adina Hoffman is the author of House of Windows: Portraits from a Jerusalem Neighborhood. Her essays and criticism have appeared in the Nation, the Washington Post, and the Times Literary Supplement and on the BBC. One of the founders and editors of Ibis Editions, she lives in Jerusalem.

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 26, 1920: The 19th Amendment, guaranteeing women the right to vote, officially became part of the U.S. Constitution: “The right of citizens of the United States to vote shall not be denied or abridged by the United States or by any State on account of sex.” This day has been known since 1971 as Women’s Equality Day.

August 27, 1963: W.E.B. DuBois, the black American sociologist, scholar, author, pan-Africanist, communist, and one of the founders of the NAACP, died in Accra, the capital of Ghana, where he had expatriated. He had been charged and tried in the U.S. for being a “foreign principal” in 1951 because he chaired the The Peace Information Center. The Center was dedicated to banning nuclear weapons but Secretary of State Dean Acheson designated it a Communist front group.

August 28, 1963: Rev. Martin Luther King, Jr. delivered his “I Have a Dream” speech from the steps of the Lincoln Memorial to a crowd of half a million gathered on the Mall in Washington, D.C. They gathered there for jobs and freedom.

Pencil Shavings: We Still Need The Dream
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.

The most moving speech I ever heard is the one mentioned above by MLK. Every time I hear it, I get choked up. Every time I read it, I can feel the tears welling up in my eyes. To save space, I’m only pasting the second half of the speech below. To read the whole thing, go here.

I have a dream that one day this nation will rise up and live out the true meaning of its creed: We hold these truths to be self-evident that all men are created equal.

I have a dream that one day on the red hills of Georgia the sons of former slaves and the sons of former slave owners will be able to sit down together at the table of brotherhood.

I have a dream that one day even the state of Mississippi, a state sweltering with the heat of injustice, sweltering with the heat of oppression, will be transformed into an oasis of freedom and justice.

I have a dream that my four little children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the color of their skin but by the content of their character. I have a dream today!

I have a dream that one day, down in Alabama, with its vicious racists, with its governor having his lips dripping with the words of interposition and nullification; one day right down in Alabama little black boys and black girls will be able to join hands with little white boys and white girls as sisters and brothers. I have a dream today!

I have a dream that one day every valley shall be exalted, and every hill and mountain shall be made low, the rough places will be made plain, and the crooked places will be made straight, and the glory of the Lord shall be revealed and all flesh shall see it together.

This is our hope. This is the faith that I will go back to the South with. With this faith we will be able to hew out of the mountain of despair a stone of hope. With this faith we will be able to transform the jangling discords of our nation into a beautiful symphony of brotherhood. With this faith we will be able to work together, to pray together, to struggle together, to go to jail together, to stand up for freedom together, knowing that we will be free one day. And this will be the day, this will be the day when all of God’s children will be able to sing with new meaning, “My country ’tis of thee, sweet land of liberty, of thee I sing. Land where my fathers died, land of the Pilgrim’s pride, from every mountainside, let freedom ring!” And if America is to be a great nation, this must become true.

And so let freedom ring — from the prodigious hilltops of New Hampshire.
Let freedom ring — from the mighty mountains of New York.
Let freedom ring — from the heightening Alleghenies of Pennsylvania.
Let freedom ring — from the snow-capped Rockies of Colorado.
Let freedom ring — from the curvaceous slopes of California.

But not only that.

Let freedom ring — from Stone Mountain of Georgia.
Let freedom ring — from Lookout Mountain of Tennessee.
Let freedom ring — from every hill and molehill of Mississippi,
from every mountainside, let freedom ring!

And when this happens, when we allow freedom to ring, when we let it ring from every village and every hamlet, from every state and every city, we will be able to speed up that day when all of God’s children, black men and white men, Jews and Gentiles, Protestants and Catholics, will be able to join hands and sing in the words of the old Negro spiritual,

“Free at last, free at last.

Thank God Almighty, we are free at last.”

News You May Have Missed

Why the Gang of Six Is Deciding Health Care for Three Hundred Million of Us
Last night, the so-called “gang of six” — three Republican and three Democratic senators on the Senate Finance Committee — met by conference call and, according to Senator Max Baucus, the committee’s chair, reaffirmed their commitment “toward a bipartisan health-care reform bill” (read: less coverage and no public insurance option)…

More Military Intrusion Into Law Enforcement
Here’s another story about the ever-eroding line between the military and civilian law enforcement. On Aug. 9, nine peace activists walked onto the base at Fort McCoy in Wisconsin to protest the wars against Iraq and Afghanistan, to demand the return of the National Guard, and to call for nuclear disarmament. They were cited for federal trespassing, and five were released. But the Army police at Fort McCoy detained the other four, who had previously been apprehended there. The Army police held them for more than three hours, and then drove them 70 miles to the Dane County jail in Madison and put a hold on them until the next day. Problem is, the Army is prohibited by the Posse Comitatus Act from engaging in domestic law enforcement…

Wastewater from Food Plants Getting into Wells
When empty-nesters Kari and Ron Craton moved a few years ago to a more rural area of southwestern Michigan, they were seeking a more rustic life. What they got was more rust. Government officials say food-processing plants that turn raw crops into products have contaminated the water-supply wells of the Cratons and other property owners in agricultural areas of Michigan and could do the same in other states. Residents claim increased amounts of metals in water drawn from their wells have killed their pets, ruined their plumbing and made their houses impossible to sell or rent…


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