Greener Times

Promoting a sustainable society…one day at a time.

August 31 – September 6

Posted by Trey Smith on August 30, 2009

Greener Times for the Week of August 31 – September 6
Volume 4 No. 20
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
* Sore-Thumb Activism
* Obama Will Continue “Shipping Away Prisoners”
* Thoughts By the Way: Single Payer Health
* Our Climate Crisis: Fate Is Now: Climate SOS Campaign
* Un-Spinning the Spin: (Gone to Yellowstone Nat’l. Park)
* This Week in History
* Pencil Shavings: Mixed Message
* News You May Have Missed

Sore-thumb Activism
By Ollie Mikse for The Progressive Populist

It’s difficult being a liberal activist. Let me rephrase that; it’s difficult being a liberal period. I’m not talking about being a Democrat. I’m talking about being a real liberal; one who believes in grassroots organization, trickle-up economics, locally-grown produce, and a thorough de-corporatization of the world. I’m talking the kind of liberal who isn’t afraid to call universal health care by its real name: Socialized health care.

I say that it’s difficult, because it requires patience, and it’s a constant struggle mainly because we’re portrayed as either misguided or utopian. However, patience and persistence is the only thing we have going for us, because we inherently believe that, in the grand scheme of things, our values are geared in the right direction, and every little bit helps. It’s a war of ideas when you think about it, and the last thing we need in this war is friendly fire. So, it goes without saying that I was on the verge of tears when I learned this week about the event known as World Naked Bike Ride or WNBR.

What is the WNBR? The Wikipedia page that the WNBR homepage forwards me to says:

“Save the planet! shifting to a carfree lifestyle is one of the most powerful things a person can do to make a real difference in reducing negative environmental impacts on this planet.”

Basically, the idea of the WNBR is to get a bunch of people together in a city and ride around naked in an effort to increase awareness on oil dependency.

What? I’m sorry, but this is incredibly misguided for a couple of reasons. First of all, it trivializes the issue of oil dependency. Riding your bike naked (or doing anything naked, for that matter) does not do anything to abate this problem. Oil dependency is a crisis, wearing clothes is not. Don’t confuse the two. Second, the WNBR is throwing away the opportunity of an exchange of ideas, which is really the only way to raise someone’s awareness on an issue. There is no way anyone whose attention has been grabbed by a naked bike ride is going to start a dialogue with one of the riders. Third, and most importantly, what message does this send to an outsider, someone who stands undecided on an issue such as oil dependency? From this person’s perspective, image means a lot. It’s not only what is being said, but who is saying it.

On the one hand, the war-supporting, Wal-Mart shopping, Starbucks drinking, Fox News watching conservative comes across as an average Joe and someone who can be trusted. They are relatively well adjusted, wear suits, use hair product, hold esteemed job positions, and have a family, a house and 2.5 children. On the other hand, the liberals are holding up traffic, painting their bodies, and biking naked throughout the city like mental patients. Who is our conscientious objector supposed to go to for advice? In addition, why should they care about oil dependencies and the much larger problem it addresses if the supporters look like naked weirdos and freaks zooming through the streets? Why listen to any liberal point of view if this is the kind of people who represent it?

This hits at the core of the problem with events such as the WNBR; it’s alienating people instead of attracting them, and anyone who actually cares about the issue of oil dependency should realize this.

Now, I’m not knocking the actual act of riding in the city naked. If it’s fun, do it, but as far as you’re cause is concerned, you’re making things worse. How do we effective approach our liberal plight effectively? The only solutions are to communicate and to focus. Oil dependency isn’t about riding naked. Oil dependency is about the corporate takeover of our lives, the misery it causes to people in other countries as a result, the war it brings, and the plundering of Mother Nature it leads to. And that’s just scratching the surface.

The only way we can raise people’s awareness is to start a dialogue and an exchange of ideas. Treat people whose opinions differ from ours as equals; as human beings. We can do this on many levels. We can start small with friends when we’re engaged in personal dialogue. A step further would be to join a local chapter of an environmentally friendly organization. Want to go a step further even? Then, get a degree, write a book, or become a politician and legislate against oil dependency. More importantly, don’t give up!

There are many people out there who care about these issues, and I’m confident that many participated in WNBRs have their hearts in the right place. But, in a world full of serious liberal activism, events such as WNBR give the cause a bad name, and stick out like a sore thumb. There are less desperate, smarter, and simpler ways to get our message across and it starts at the basis of humanity: conversation. The only way to succeed is to get people to listen, not to make them turn away.

Ollie Mikse is a Ph.D. student in genetics at Penn State Hershey and a freelance writer.

Obama Will Continue “Shipping Away Prisoners”
By Matthew Rothschild of The Progressive

Amidst all the discussion about the CIA’s latest report on torture and Eric Holder’s decision to appoint a torture prosecutor, one related story did not get the attention it deserved.

It’s the story, I’m sorry to say, of another Obama betrayal.

When he was campaigning for President, he said we needed to end the practice of “shipping away prisoners in the dead of night to be tortured in far-off countries.” But now Obama has decided to continue the Bush policy—and I’m not going to use the euphemism of rendition, because it’s a policy of kidnapping. And it’s illegal to kidnap someone and ship them to another country for interrogation.

But that’s what Obama is going to keep doing. Oh, he promised to provide better oversight to make sure that the kidnapped individuals are not tortured, but there’s no guarantee of that. Plus, Bush gave the same guarantee, and we know what that was worth. Once the CIA or the Pentagon outsources a prisoner to another country for interrogation, anything goes.

And let’s not be naïve here: That’s the point! It’s about letting someone else do our dirty work. It’s about plausible deniability. And it’s about lack of accountability.

Obama is better than this. Or at least I thought he was.

Thoughts By the Way: Single Payer Health
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.

Health care isn’t what it used to be. Used to be, you ate your spinach and if you got sick you called the doctor. Now you eat food-like substances©, buy insurance, and when you get sick you argue with the insurance company. What has happened? A pretty good answer is that corporations have “happened”, and we have become stupid and fat. Corporations are writing the script for the Food and Drug Administration, poisoning arable land with chemicals and synthetic genes, skimming our health care premiums, and cultivating a culture of pills and surgery. And we are playing the game because we have become addicted to a high life purchased with dollars issued by a central bank. Buried somewhere in all that is caring for the gift of life.

So let’s step back a pace or a meter for a closer look at health care as it might be practiced by the single payer.

Right off, the poisons incorporated into most products for the home have to be removed and not replaced. The list is long. Chapter one: a course on home chemistry required to be taken, or else.

Next is drug and supplement interactions and side effects. The centerpiece of this minefield is the group of modern drugs based on control of cell receptors. You let one of these drugs into your body and it finds things to do that its developers never thought of. As to drug side effects, an example of a preventable one is dilantin and vitamin E. The drug reduces the vitamin. Last I checked, patients are not schooled to increase their intake of E. Chapter two: a course on body chemistry for the common manwoman.

The logical companion to learning about drugs is learning more about food than the food conglomerates put in their labels. I see that Phillip Morris has combined its Nabisco with Kraft Foods to rival Nestlé in size. Welcome instead a whole world of delicious nutrition available to those who live “within a hoe’s handle” of a garden. That’s a misquote from a DVD called Food Matters. View that and you will stay out of supermarkets unless tranquilized. View that and you will trade in your health insurance for a health garden. This DVD answers the question of how much supplemental vitamin C to take. Linus Pauling said ten grams because that’s how much a gorilla gets in hiserher diet of bushes. FM’s answer is that if you eat right you don’t need supplements. Chapter three: Travels in the World of Food.

Is this beginning to sound like the debate in the Capitol over health care? No? Gracious.

Contrary to some of the more enthusiastic promises in Food Matters, good food is not the end all of preventive care; things happen. This brings us to the great divide between Eastern whole-body healing and Western scientific medicine. The cage fight this fall at the Capitol doesn’t address this but it’s relevant here because one of the many benefits of single payer is higher quality. Bridging the divide would improve the quality of health care even more. Surprised? Don’t believe in quacks? Consider then, that neither “school” in itself is sufficient. You’ll accept that whole-body healing does not include magnetic resonance imaging, but likely will not agree that your doctor could do a better job if at times heershe took hiserher nose out of the AMA textbook. Maybe a single example would get you thinking differently.

Two young women I know have MS. One is toughing it out in Punta Gorda, Florida whereas the other is getting the full treatment for progressive MS at a New York City hospital. Neither is getting adequate care because their doctors ignore two crucial factors: nutrition and mind-body interaction. Nutrition is crucial because MS is worsened by vitamin D deficiency, and mind-body is involved because auto-immune disease is notoriously moderated by stress. Dwell on that oddity just a bit. “Mind-body” is a short description of the “lumping” theory of the body’s wiring, which is that no part can be studied in isolation. Oliver Sacks tells us that neurologists are divided into “lumpers” and splitters”, read Eastern and Western. This remark introduces a 1934 book by Kurt Goldstein titled The Organism. The tone of this book is as far from magnetic resonance imaging as it is possible to get. Read page 262 of the paperback edition and you will understand why our doctors need to look beyond present medical science. Chapter Four: Redesign clinics to include whole-body second opinions.

Your driver’s license application includes the cheerful question what would you like to have done with your organs in the event you don’t need them anymore. This in turn leads to the question of the role of organ transplants in single payer health care. Want to take another step back? Why not limit payment to basic care and spend the savings on prevention. Chapter Five: Community funding pools for exceptional care.

These five comments are an attempt to describe how health care could improve once the blinders and shackles of insurance-based care are cast off. I’ll close by getting snarled in a funding paradox, an apparent contradiction between the proven worth of national single payer systems and the very probable worth of a local single payer system funded by a community currency. What follows is a pitch for the local variety. The paradox will go away this fall when the graveside ceremony for national single payer will be held.

The merit of funding health care with local currency is peculiar to our lousy national bank system, read The Fed, and would not be necessary otherwise. Two points comprise the pitch. One, local money can be created by paupers, and two, there has to be an equivalence between the dollar and the local money. There’s available a proven ledger-based system where money is created by trades. The money exists only when it moves. The ante is zero and there’s no interest incurred by a negative balance. The unit can have any consensus value subject to the need for equivalence with the dollar. That’s so the dollars in the community can be used to invest in the clinic’s MRI machine and so forth. The result is that the community’s poor can work for their health care. In the dollar system they are out of luck.

Food Matters, a DVD by James Colquhoun & Laurentine ten Bosch
”Foodlike substance” © Copyright by popular demand for Michael Pollan.
Prescription for Disaster — The hidden dangers in your medicine cabinet. Thomas J. Moore 1998
The Organism — A Holistic Approach to Biology Derived from Pathological Data in Man. Kurt Goldstein.
Foreword by Oliver Sacks. Paperback edition Zone Books, 1995

Our Climate Crisis: Fate Is Now: 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.

Our Climate SOS campaign to kill a cap-and-trade bill in the United States Senate is named because our Global Fate Is Now.

If the U.S. passes into law a cap-and-trade bill, we will never return to this fork in the road where sustainable alternatives are possible. Either Kill The Bill now or sign up for our “Temple Of Doom”.

Europe already has its massively failed cap-and-trade program, the European Union Emission Trading System (EU ETS). If the U.S. joins Europe in this mad folly, cap-and-trade will don a mantle of invincibility. Sustainable alternatives will be dashed forever. Carbon taxes and EPA emissions regulations will be rudely shoved to the footnotes of a doomed civilization.


Australia just rejected cap-and-trade. We can, too. We must.

Occupying offices of key senators and Nonviolent Civil Disobedience will be among peaceful tactics used by our group.

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).

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. NASA scientist Jim 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.

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

September 1, 1986: Angelo (Charlie) Liteky & George Mizo, both Vietnam veterans, began an open-ended Fast For Life on the steps of the U.S. Capitol. They were calling attention to their opposition to U.S. support of the Nicaraguan contras and repressive regimes in El Salvador and Guatemala, “our expression of a deeply felt desire to do everything and anything we can . . . to stop the war with Nicaragua.” Liteky had been a Catholic chaplain in the Vietnam War and had received the Congressional Medal of Honor.

September 4, 1949: Paul Robeson, scholar, athlete, musician and leader, defying a racist and red-baiting mob, sang to 15,000 at a Labor Day gathering in Peekskill, New York.

September 5, 1917: In 48 coordinated raids across the country, later known as the Palmer Raids, federal agents seized records, destroyed equipment and books, and arrested hundreds of activists involved with the Industrial Workers of the World (IWW), known fondly as the Wobblies. Among the arrested was William D. “Big Bill” Haywood, a leader of the IWW, for the “crimes of labor” and “obstructing World War I.”

Pencil Shavings: Mixed Message
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.

Let me just state at the outset that I’ve come to the point in which I don’t trust ANYTHING our government says. If the president — any of ’em — came on television to announce the sky is blue, I would immediately assume it was any color BUT blue. It seems that almost any announcement or pronouncement is drenched in spin, half-truths and, often, downright dishonesty.

This is a lead-in to a report released by the White House on Thursday. Here’s the story from The Washington Post.

Government health officials are urging people not to panic over estimates of 90,000 people dying of swine flu this fall.

“Everything we’ve seen in the U.S. and everything we’ve seen around the world suggests we won’t see that kind of number if the virus doesn’t change,” Thomas Frieden, head of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, said in a C-SPAN interview taped Wednesday.

On Monday the White House released a report from a group of presidential advisers that included a scenario in which as much as half the population could catch the H1N1 virus, and death possibilities ranged from 30,000 to 90,000.

“We don’t think that’s the most likely scenario,” CDC flu specialist Anne Schuchat said of the presidential advisers’ high-end tally. What is likely: A busy flu season that starts earlier than usual, Schuchat told the Associated Press.

The H1N1 virus so far has been no more deadly than the flu strains seen every fall and winter. And close genetic tracking of the new virus as it circled the globe in the past five months has shown no sign that it is mutating to become more virulent.

If all the evidence collected to date indicates that the swine flu is no more virulent than the typical annual flu, why release a report that is bound to frighten a good deal of the public? What purpose could be afoot in this situation?

I’m sure we all remember the Bush administration releasing their rainbow-colored security alerts. Time and time again we were informed that the level had risen (danger Will Robinson, danger Will Robinson), but we were to go on about our business as if there was nothing to worry about. And, of course, these kinds of mixed messages worked just as the Bush team wanted: People were so busy fretting over imminent “terrorist” attacks that few people noticed what was really going on behind the curtain.

Now Bush is gone and we have our brand new charismatic president. Yet, I see the same kind of shenanigans going on here. My guess is that the Obama White House wants to get everybody worried about the swine flu so that we don’t pay close attention to the hatchet job being done on health care reform!

Let’s see if the mainstream media performs its part of the act — mindless hours and hours of programming spent analyzing the swine flu up one side and down the other. Experts engaged in endless debates. Pie charts. Graphics. Extra-special reports.

Really. If you genuinely don’t want to get people worked up, a report like this would never have been released.

[Note: A blogging cohort of mine has her own theory. She thinks “the reason is to scare people into getting the vaccine. The drug companies stand to make a killing off of it. The U.S. government has bought around millions of dollars worth of the stuff. The problem is that the vaccine hasn’t been properly tested. They usually have to undergo a year of clinical testing, but not this time, guess they decided to use the people taking it this fall as guinea pigs instead.” Here’s a link to an article from the UK that should provide anyone with food for thought.]

News You May Have Missed

Wildlife Cancer: A New Epidemic
Thirty years ago, a Canadian marine biologist noticed something mysterious was happening to beluga whales in the St. Lawrence Estuary. Decades of over-hunting had decimated the population, but several years after the government put a stop to the practice, the belugas still hadn’t recovered. Two decades and hundreds of carcasses later, he had an answer. “They were dying of cancer,” said Daniel Martineau, now a professor of pathology at the University of Montreal. The white whales were victims of intestinal cancers caused by industrial pollutants released into the St. Lawrence River by nearby aluminum smelters. Now research points to environmental pollutants as the cause of deadly cancers in several wildlife populations around the world. Normally rare in most wildlife, cancers in California sea lions, North Sea flounder and Great Lakes catfish seem to have been triggered or accelerated by environmental contaminants…

Obama Talked Big on Katrina, Did Little
During the campaign Obama pledged to make the Gulf Coast recovery a paramount goal. In February, 2008, he declared, “The broken promises did not start when a storm hit, and they did not end there … I promise you that when I’m in the White House I will commit myself every day to keeping up Washington’s end of this trust. This will be a priority of my presidency.” But a new study by the Institute of Southern Studies reports that 50 community leaders from areas affected by the hurricane ranked Obama only slightly better than Bush in reconstruction. In a range of different categories, Obama came out with a D+ to Bush’s D…

Band-Aids for the Recession
A recent poll shows that most economists now believe that the recession, which began in December 2007, will end in the third quarter of 2009. There’s been an uptick in manufacturing and consumer confidence, and the decline in housing prices appears to be flattening out. Unfortunately, the return to positive GDP will likely be short-lived. The current surge in production is mainly the result of President Obama’s fiscal stimulus and the rebuilding of inventories that were slashed after Lehman Bros defaulted in September, 2008. These factors should boost GDP for two or perhaps three quarters before the economy lapses back into recession…


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