Greener Times

Promoting a sustainable society…one day at a time.

September 14 – 20

Posted by Trey Smith on September 14, 2009

Greener Times for the Week of September 14 – 20
Volume 4 No. 22
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
* After Obama
* UnitedHealth Lobbyist Announces Pelosi Fundraiser As She Begins Backing Off Public Option
* Thoughts By the Way: Smoke Signals
* Our Climate Crisis: Report from the SoS Tour — Day 8
* Un-Spinning the Spin: The True Believer: Thoughts on the Nature of Mass Movements
* This Week in History
* News You May Have Missed

After Obama
By David Michael Green in OpEdNews

Eight months into it, it now seems pretty clear that the Obama administration is finished.

There were some of us – indeed, many of us, myself included – who thought there was a possibility that Barack Obama might seize this moment of American crisis, twinned with the complete failure for all to see of the regressive agenda, to become the second coming of Franklin Roosevelt.

Many think that was a naïve position from the get-go. I disagree. Not only do I believe that it was a legitimate possibility, I would argue that it was the logical choice even just from the narrow perspective of Obama’s personal fortunes. The president is every day committing political suicide by a thousand cuts because he chose not to take that track.

That’s certainly his prerogative, and at this point I wish him all the worst of luck in whatever comes next. Since I never assumed he would be a progressive once elected, any bitterness that I feel is not rooted in his failure to become the new FDR. However, I am irate that, in domain after domain, President Obama has become the personification of the very Bush administration policies that Candidate Obama so roundly criticized. And I feel deep hostility toward him about the betrayal of legions of voters – especially the young – who believed his message of hope and thought they were getting a president on their side, not Wall Street’s.

More on that in another column. Right now, the question is what comes next? The Obama presidency is probably already toast, though of course anything can happen in three or seven years. But he is on a crash course for a major clock cleaning and, what’s worse, he doesn’t seem to have it remotely within him to seize history by the horns and steer that bull in his preferred direction. Indeed, near as I can tell, he doesn’t even have a preferred direction.

Obama was complete fool if he ever believed for a moment that his campfire kumbaya act was going to bring the right along behind him. Even s’mores wouldn’t have helped. These foaming-at-the-mouth lunatics have completely lost all sense and proportion, and were bound to viscerally hate any president left of Cheney, let alone some black guy in their white house. Meanwhile, centrist voters in this country seem pretty much only to care about taxes and spending, and so he’s lost them, too, without the slightest rhetorical fight in his own defense. And he’s blown off a solid progressive base by spitting in their eyes at every imaginable opportunity, beginning with the formation of his cabinet, ranging through every policy decision from civil rights to civil liberties to foreign policy to healthcare, and culminating with his choice not to even mobilize his email database in support of his policies.

So if he’s lost the left, right and center, just who does he think is going to be clamoring to give him a second term three years from now, especially if the economy remains lousy for most people in the country, as it’s likely to do regardless of GDP or Dow Jones growth?

There is the possibility that Obama could change course significantly, just as Bill Clinton did in 1995, following the mid-term election in which his most astute political stewardship managed to turn both houses of Congress over to the Republican Party. But Clinton turned to the right and became just a less snarly version of the Republicans, while Obama is already there. I don’t really think he could conceivably turn further rightward at this point, and I don’t think he has anywhere near the guts to turn to the left and do what he should have done in the first place.

What all this suggests to me is that Obama and his party will manage by 2012 to snatch defeat from the jaws of victory and return the GOP – and probably an even nastier version of it than the Bush-Cheney junta, at that – to power. It suggests that the Democrats, who were riding high six months ago over an all but destroyed Republican Party, will be switching places with them within three years time, if not sooner – and all because of their own cowardice, corruption and ineptitude. This outcome is hardly inevitable, but it is fast approaching. Looking out over the horizon, I see five key factors most likely to effect the health and longevity of the Obama administration, and not one of them looks positive.

The eight-hundred pound gorilla rummaging around in the kitchen right now is the economy. Indeed, this factor alone could readily swamp the combined effect of all the others, particularly if it swings dramatically in one direction or another. My guess, as a non-economist (which, of course, only means that I have a better shot at an accurate prediction than the economists do), is that the economy will exhibit some substantial signs of growth over the next three years. But I suspect the recovery will be tepid, even according to establishment measures such as GDP growth or the state of the Dow. More importantly, I strongly suspect that this will be another jobless recovery, like the last ones we’ve had, and that the new mean standard of living for the middle class will be pretty mean indeed, significantly diminished compared to what people were already struggling to hold on to when the Great Recession began. Personally, I think if American history teaches us anything at all about presidential elections, it is that for an incumbent president this is more or less the worst possible scenario imaginable upon which to go asking the public to punch his ticket again. Americans vote their pocketbook, and that alone is likely to be the kiss of death for Obama’s second term aspirations.

Meanwhile, of course, he’s also chosen to put healthcare reform on the table as the signature legislative initiative probably of his entire presidency. That’s fine, but watching him in action I sometimes wonder if this clown really and actually wants a second term. I mean, if you had asked me in January, “How could Obama bungle this program most thoroughly?”, I would have written a prescription that varies little from what we’ve observed over the last eight months: Don’t frame the issue, but instead let the radical right backed by greedy industry monsters do it, on the worst possible terms for you. And to you. Don’t fight back when they say the most outrageous things about your plan. In fact, don’t even have a plan. Let Congress do it. Better yet, let the by-far-and-away-minority party have an equal voice in the proceedings, even if they ultimately won’t vote for the bill under any circumstances, and even while they’re running around trashing it and you in the most egregious terms. Have these savages negotiate with a small group of right-wing Democrats, all of them major recipients of industry campaign donations. Blow off your base completely. Cut secret sweetheart deals with the Big Pharma and Big Insurance corporate vampires. Build a communications strategy around a series of hapless press conferences and town hall meetings, waiting until it’s too late to give a major speech on the issue. Set a timetable for action and then let it slip. Indicate what you want in the bill but then be completely unclear about whether you necessarily require those things. Travel all over the world doing foreign policy meet-and-greets. Go on vacation in the heat of the battle. Rinse and repeat.

Altogether, it’s an astonishingly perfect recipe for getting rolled, so much so that I’m not the first person to have wondered out loud if that was actually the president’s intention all along. Look at this freaking fool. Now look at the guy who ran a letter-perfect, disciplined, textbook, insurgent, victorious campaign for the White House. Can they possibly be the same person? And, since they obviously are, is there possibly another explanation for this disaster besides an intentional boot? I dunno. But what I do know is this. Obama’s very best-case scenario for healthcare legislation right now represents a ton of lost votes in 2010 and 2012. And the worse that scenario gets, the worse he and his party do. But even a ‘success’ in the months ahead will produce a tepid bill, a mistrustful public, an inflamed and unanswered radical right, and a mealy-mouthed new government program that doesn’t even begin to go online until 2013. A real vote-getter that, eh?

Which brings us to a third major electoral liability for Obama. Human beings, by and large, like to be led. They like their leaders to inspire their confidence – even when doing so takes the form of the most fantastically shallow dress-up kind of blowhard buffonery, à la George W. Bush – so that they don’t have to think too much about how little personal confidence they themselves actually possess. Obama is the complete antithesis of this model of the presidency. He is Harry Reid’s incontinent grandmother as president. He is Neville Chamberlain’s squirrely little nephew knocking shit over in the Oval Office while he plays “Mr. President”, in-between episodes of SpongeBob SquarePants. He is a bowl of Jell-O. That someone forgot to put in the fridge. He exhibits no competence as a chief executive. He inspires no confidence as a national leader. And, increasingly, his credibility is coming into question. Who wants to vote for that?

A related problem is that he loves to flash that big toothy grin of his right before his venomous adversaries knock his choppers back into his head. I’m trying to imagine what a wimpier president would look like, and having a very hard time coming up with an answer. I’m trying to imagine how the regressive right could possibly bathe their country’s president in a more acidic pool of vitriol, and I’m having a difficult time topping their assertions that he’s out to kill the elderly while simultaneously indoctrinating grade-schoolers into the ranks of the Revolutionary Spartacist League. I’m trying to conceive of how vacant a White House could possibly be of any whiff of push-back against these assaults, and I can’t quite envision it. Maybe if they went out and did some real scandals and filmed it all as a gift for the GOP? Perhaps they could dig up Vince Foster’s body and murder him all over again, this time on video? Or they could hire Ken Starr to just run amok in the White House for a few years, looking for anything remotely juicy? But could Obama’s Keystone Kops even do a scandal properly? I’m not sure, but I’m pretty confident the public is losing trust in this guy as their Big Daddy Protector. Who in America would vote for this eunuch to be in charge of keeping their little suburban Happy Meal-stuffed brats safe from tawny evil-doers with bad intentions?

As if all that weren’t enough, Obama is probably also sitting on several national security powder kegs – including Guantánamo, which he is unlikely to close; Iraq, which he is unlikely to leave; and Afghanistan, which he is unlikely to win. The latter in particular has now become his war, and lately it is smelling a lot like Vietnam, circa 1964. An decades-long struggle against a popular nationalist adversary. Endless calls from the Pentagon for more troops. Incredibly inhospitable terrain for fighting a war. An American-made puppet government hated for its corruption and for its gross incompetence at every task other than raw predation. Mmmm-mmm. What a yummy stew. Haven’t dined on that fine cuisine since 1975. And what another great vote-getter to add to this sorry list, eh?

Put it all together and it’s pretty hard to see how Obama gets a second term. Which can mean only one thing: We’re looking at a Romney or a Palin or some sort of similar monster as the next president, despite the fact that their party was absolutely loathed only a year ago, and actually still is today. It won’t matter. People will be voting against the incumbent, not for any candidate, and that will leave only one viable choice, especially for centrist and right-wing voters. Whoever wins the Republican nomination will be the next president, crushing Obama in the general election (assuming he survives the Democratic primaries). And that’s a particularly scary notion, since the party’s voting base who will make that choice in the Republican primaries is the same crowd you’ve seen featured all this summer at town hall meetings. Olympia Snowe is not going to be the Republican nominee in 2012. Know what I mean?

So the question then becomes, what next? What happens after Obama?

I see two possible general paths going forth from that point – one bad, and one worse. The bad path would involve a frustrated but essentially beaten-into-submission public oscillating between incompetent Republican and Democratic administrations, turning one after the other out of office – not on ideological grounds, but instead seeking any change that has the possibility of stanching the empire’s hemorrhaging wounds. This would look a fair bit like Japan or Britain does today. The former just replaced its government and the latter will likely do so next spring. But I don’t think either of these major party shifts are really ideological in nature, and I don’t think either new government is likely to be hugely different from the one it succeeded.

But Americans seem to me especially piggish critters these days, and the benign model that is sufficient to placate disgruntled citizens of long-lost empires may not suffice to soothe the savage soul of Yanquis still deep in the process of watching theirs crumble around their feet. That moves us from the bad path to the worse. Given what the American public is capable of happily countenancing during relatively flush times (can you say “Reagan”? “Bush”?), imagine what could happen when spoiled Baby Boomers go to the polls under conditions approaching the 1930s.

Such a crisis could conceivably entail a sharp turn to the left, and in every rational country certainly would. But this is America. We pretty much don’t go anywhere near socialism, at least not overtly, and in any given decade – especially the recent ones – we’re lucky to get away with anything less than creeping fascism. Moreover, elections are almost always reactions to the status quo. Since Obama is ridiculously – but nevertheless widely – perceived as a liberal, the reaction is all the more likely to involve a sharp turn to the right in response.

Under this scenario, anything portside of Torquemada would be buried alive if not annihilated, and the next regime would likely be one that could make Dick Cheney shudder. And that’s the happy side of the equation. If history is any guide, a nifty (not so) little war could only be right around the corner, for the helpful purpose of jump-starting the economy, crushing the domestic opposition, and distracting the public from that pesky nuisance once affectionately referred to as ‘reality’.

I don’t want to lay odds on which of these outcomes is the more likely, but I feel pretty confident, I’m sad to say, that any happier scenario is considerably less likely than either of these. For a lot of reasons, America’s near-term future looks bleak to me, and this country – which already has a remarkable tendency to make dangerously foolish and sickeningly selfish political choices – is altogether too likely to do something that would make the Bush years look like a scene from a Norman Rockwell canvas by comparison.

This tragedy, if it comes, will have many sires who share responsibility for driving America from Republican red to fascist black. But on that list must certainly be included the powder blue of the effete Obama administration that came in between.

Rahm Emanuel once famously averred that “You never want a serious crisis to go to waste. And what I mean by that is an opportunity to do things you think you could not do before.”

I don’t really believe that corporate-controlled fascism is what he had in mind when he said that.

But, who knows? Maybe that’s exactly what he was thinking.

Or – perhaps most likely of all – maybe nobody at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue is doing much thinking whatsoever these days.

David Michael Green is a professor of political science at Hofstra University in New York.

UnitedHealth Lobbyist Announces Pelosi Fundraiser As She Begins Backing Off Public Option
By David Sirota for Open Left

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi for the first time yesterday suggested she may be backing off her support of the public option – the government-run health plan that the private insurance industry is desperately trying to kill. According to CNN, Pelosi and Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid “said they would support any provision that increases competition and accessibility for health insurance – whether or not it is the public option favored by most Democrats.”

This announcement came just hours before Steve Elmendorf, a registered UnitedHealth lobbyist and the head of UnitedHealth’s lobbying firm Elmendorf Strategies, blasted this email invitation throughout Washington, D.C. I just happened to get my hands on a copy of the invitation from a source – check it out:

From: Steve Elmendorf [mailto:steve@elmendorfstrategies.com]
Sent: Friday, September 11, 2009 8:31 AM
Subject: event with Speaker Pelosi at my home
You are cordially invited to a reception with

Speaker of the House
Nancy Pelosi

Thursday, September 24, 2009
6:30pm ~ 8:00pm

At the home of
Steve Elmendorf
2301 Connecticut Avenue, NW
Apt. 7B
Washington, D.C.

$5,000 PAC
$2,400 Individual

To RSVP or for additional information please contact
Carmela Clendening at (202) 485-3508 or clendening@dccc.org

Steve Elmendorf
ELMENDORF STRATEGIES
GOVERNMENT AFFAIRS SOLUTIONS
900 7th Street NW Suite 750 Washington DC 20001
(202) 737-1655

Again, Elmendorf is a registered lobbyist for UnitedHealth, and his firm’s website brags about its work for UnitedHealth on its website.

The sequencing here is important: Pelosi makes her announcement and then just hours later, the fundraising invitation goes out. Coincidental? I’m guessing no – these things rarely ever are.

I wrote a book a few years ago called Hostile Takeover whose premise was that corruption and legalized bribery has become so widespread that nobody in Washington even tries to hide it. This is about as good an example of that truism as I’ve ever seen.

Thoughts By the Way: Smoke Signals
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.

Goodbye Summer, and I hope, goodbye Change. The status quo was bad enough; now the entire North American continent is messed up. The health care disease has spread to Canada, Mexico is down with a bad case of nafta, and the US is infested with cockroaches v. wingnutius that have crawled out of the widening rifts in our society. Get that blanket ready because it is time for some smoke signals.

Casting about for hope there suddenly appeared a large pile of it, and it was money. Money, the vital fluid of war, oppression, politics, and health care, money, the cause and cure of social ills, well, menwomen, money just could be the knob we twist.

How, then, might a dollar-free community work, uh, not work? The quick answer is, not very well. But then, how many communities off the dollar would it take to generate a smoke signal? Just a few might be highly visible It’s pretty clear that the trick would be extreme cooperation. Food would be brought to those without access to it. Services would be bartered. Local businesses would be absorbed into the community. The unknown would out-do the known; it could be rough. But overall, for many, how much worse could it be?

With sales tax in the cellar, municipalities would be bankrupt, and some states might then smell the smoke. What then? Well, Seattleites, what if Nickelsville fired the Mayor? One could hope for a great big photo-op, a spent city. But maybe there’s no way to guess the effect of this kind of civil disobedience. After all, what if the only people who give up the dollar were those already at the edge, what if those with more to lose cannot bring themselves to act? If that were to be the case then would the impact be neutered? Worry, worry. But why ruin a good column with whatiffing? The elite deserve a taste of their own medicine. Let them take their Federal Deserved suppositories as directed.

The September 14, 2009 issue of The Nation has these two responses to an article on The Federal Reserve:

William Greider’s “Dismantling the Temple” [August 3/10] may be the most important summary analysis yet of the current economic crisis and its roots in the mysterious role of the Federal Reserve. If it inspires your readers (especially legislators) to educate themselves about how the economy really functions and who the real players are in the making of economic policy, it will have succeeded in bringing about the hoped-for rebellion. Money, after all, is only a means of exchange, and its value derives from the consent and trust of those who use it.
Brenda C. Carr.

William Greider writes, “Bernanke essentially used the Fed’s money-creation power in a way that resembles the ‘greenbacks’ Abraham Lincoln printed to fight the Civil War.” But Greider fails to mention that Lincoln’s greenbacks circulated interest-free on the “full faith and credit” of the United States, as Ellen Hodgson Brown describes in her excellent book The Web of Debt. On the other hand, Brown says, every dollar bill today is a Federal Reserve Note, lent to the government to be paid back with interest. In 1972, Brown writes, the Treasury Department calculated “the amount of interest that would have been paid if the $400 million in greenbacks had been borrowed from the banks instead. Lincoln saved the government a total of $4 billion in interest, just by avoiding this $400 million loan.

The Federal Reserve needs to disappear, and very quickly.
Phil Bende

Maybe some smoke signals would help “disappear” the Fed. Something better happen because Americans now find themselves at the border of the unreal. Digressing in hope of sharpening the point, take the 9/11 “truth” movement. Got it? Now remove the fringe elements that burden 9/11 truth with unrelated crimes so that we speak only of 9/11. Now, consider the emotional stress on a nation that is pretty sure the government has committed a heinous crime, but the crime is too heinous to believe. It would seem that our normal consciousness is numbed, kaput, useless. We are discussing health care with sick minds. Maybe some puffs of smoke would let reality back in.

Our Climate Crisis: Report from the SoS Tour — Day 8
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.

We did it! We’re 7 for 7. And we’ve got a 2-fer.

Our Arkansas SOS organizer, Donna Shade, succeeded in getting us a meeting with the lone holdout for our Heartland Tour–Senator Mark Pryor of AR. I had tried many times to get this meeting, but was shut out. Donna’s success show the undeniable strength of local, constituent activists.

Now, we will meet Pryor’s State Director in the same 9/15 session we had previously scheduled with Senator Blanche Lincoln’s State Director. This could be a powerful gathering. We’re meeting with both staffs. And Lincoln is now the chair of the climate-crucial Senate Agriculture Committee.

But Donna did not stop with this success. She has also set two grassroots organizing events for Susan and me to attend in and around Little Rock. And she is trying to get interviews with me on local radio shows–plus sending our press relase out to state media outlets. She also wants for her Jonesboro group some of the SOS banners I have been carrying across the country.

Donna’s SOS activism fulfills the initial vision for the Tour: spark local activists to help us KILL THE BILL, demand tough science-based climate laws and carry on after after the Tour leaves. THANK YOU, DONNA!

Tim Krueger is organizing Cleveland for SOS in the same way. He has arranged for a group of Ohians–mostly college students–to come with us to the 9/17 meeting with Senator Sherrod Brown’s staff. Tim came to us by way of Mattie Leitman in Columbus, OH who came to us by way of Mike Ewall of D.C. and Philly. Nice national network emerging here.

The Cleveland meeting with Brown will sit a number of fresh-eyed young activists at the table to lobby for the beleagured planet they are inheriting. I find this enormously hopeful. Young folks will be battling for climate laws that can work for all creatures–not just the polluting elite. Hopeful, hopeful.

I’m pumped and grateful–to Donna, to Tim, To Mattie, to Mike…to SOS.

Arkansas, here we come! Train leaves at dawn. Gets into Little Rock Monday at 3am. (ach!)

Un-Spinning the Spin: The True Believer: Thoughts on the Nature of Mass Movements
Maryrose Asher is a former Chair of the Green Party of Washington State and a tireless activist of many causes.

This book is required reading for anyone trying to make sense of the 20th Century, and, unfortunately, will likely remain pertinent in the 21st. It is concise, lively, and thought provoking, a book you will return to again and again. – from Wikipedia

People who bite the hand that feeds them usually lick the boot that kicks them.
— Eric Hoffer (attributed: source unknown)

A must-read classic on the nature of mass movements and the psychology behind them, True Believer, a book written by Eric Hoffer in 1951, gets to the root of fanaticism by “looking into the mind of a fanatic and how an individual becomes one.”

True Believer became a best seller when President Eisenhower mentioned it during one of his press conferences. In 1964, Hoffer was interviewed on public television and, in the late 1960s, participated in a two-part, one-hour conversation with CBS’s Eric Sevareid. Despite his fame, he continued to work as a longshoreman until he retired in 1967.

Hoffer focused his writings on the lack of self esteem as the basis of fanaticism. He observed how the obsession with other people’s private lives was the direct result of lack of meaning in one’s own life and had as its roots insecurity and self hatred.

The less justified a man is in claiming excellence for his own self, the more ready he is to claim all excellence for his nation, his religion, his race or his holy cause.

Hoffer’s working-class background allowed him the opportunity to view society not as an academic, nor an intellectual, but from life experiences. He wrote, “My writing is done in railroad yards while waiting for a freight, in the fields while waiting for a truck, and at noon after lunch. Towns are too distracting.”

His writings were considered unorthodox and were critical of mass movements, in general, whether political or religious. Quoting extensively from leaders in the Nazi and communist parties, Hoffer concludes that both were drawing from the same groups of people and, despite the extreme ideological differences between the two parties, they were more likely to gain adherents from each other than from “moderates” with no connection to either party.

He concludes those drawn to mass movements come from the poor, the misfits, the inordinately selfish, the ambitious, the bored, and the “sinners,” and all share the following characteristics:

1. Frustrated with their current state but capable of a strong belief in the future.
2. Desire to escape a flawed self by creating an imaginary self and joining a collective whole
3. Willingness to die for a “holy” cause.
4. Hates independence and individualism, choosing to focus on obedience and one mindedness that gives one a new freedom —“the freedom to hate, bully, lie, murder and betray without shame and remorse.”
5. Willingness to accept a common hatred, a single foe, “the ideal devil is a foreigner.”

With foresightedness he wrote (in 1951), “The Americans are poor haters in international affairs because of their innate feeling of superiority over all foreigners. Should Americans begin to hate foreigners wholeheartedly, it will be an indication that they have lost confidence in their own way of life.” Hoffer also suggests that to counter malicious movements, a benign counter movement should be formed to draw off adherents—advice quite applicable to today’s political reality.

In conclusion is this review by a reader:

What I didn’t expect from this book was a subtle warning about the implications of this profile on the freedoms so many of us cling to. Think about free speech when you read the part about the intellectual, the ‘man of words’ who challenges the old order, but whose real call is for freedom. See how he unwittingly sets the stage for his position to be usurped by the ‘fanatic’ who knows the masses crave not freedom but a new and better regime that will ‘hammer them together into one solid, mighty whole’ and, once and for all, relieve them of the need to think for themselves. A fascinating book, with ideas I’m still digesting as I reconsider what it means to be free.

Sources used:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Eric_Hoffer
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_True_Believer
http://freedomkeys.com/truebeliever.htm
http://www.philosophicalsociety.com/Archives/Men%20of%20Words.htm
http://search.barnesandnoble.com/True-Believer/Eric-Hoffer/e/9780060505912/?itm=1

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 http://www.peacebuttons.info/E-News/thisweek.htm.

September 14, 1963: The ABC television network invited singer, songwriter, banjo player and activist Pete Seeger to appear on its Saturday night folk and acoustic music show, Hootenanny, despite the fact that he had been blacklisted. But the invitation stood only if he’d sign an oath of loyalty to the U.S. He described his reaction: “This is ridiculous. I’d sign ’em, if you sign ’em, and everybody whose born will sign ’em, then we’d all be clean.” In the 1940s Seeger traveled throughout the country with Woody Guthrie, performing at union meetings, strikes and demonstrations. After World War II, he and Lee hays co-founded the Weavers, the legendary folk group that gained commercial success despite being blacklisted.

September 15, 2001: Four days after 9/11, Representative Barbara Lee (D-California) cast the only congressional vote against authorizing President Bush to use “all necessary and appropriate force” against anyone associated with the terrorist attacks of September 11. “I am convinced that military action will not prevent further acts of international terrorism against the United States.”

September 19, 1893: With the signing of the Electoral Bill by Governor Lord Glasgow, New Zealand became the first major country in the world to grant national electoral rights to women. The bill was the outcome of years of suffragist meetings in towns and cities across the country, with women often traveling considerable distances to hear lectures and speeches and pass resolutions.

News You May Have Missed

A Triumph for Man, A Disaster for Mankind
It has been one of the elusive goals of seafaring nations almost since the beginnings of waterborne trade, but for nearly 500 years the idea has been dismissed as an impossible dream. Now, as a result of global warming, the dream is about to come true. Within days, a journey that represents both a huge commercial boon and a dark milestone on the route to environmental catastrophe is expected to be completed for the first time. No commercial vessel has ever successfully travelled the North-east Passage, a fabled Arctic Sea route that links the Atlantic Ocean and the Pacific far more directly than the usual southerly cargo route. Explorers throughout history have tried, and failed; some have died in the attempt…

Iran War Drums Begin Beating in Washington
As nuclear negotiations between Iran and the West continue to move slowly, U.S. President Barack Obama is coming under growing pressure from what appears to be a concerted lobbying and media campaign urging him to act more aggressively to stop Iran’s nuclear program. Obama has given Tehran an end-of-September deadline to respond substantively to his offer of diplomatic engagement. But already hawks in the U.S. – backed by hardline pro-Israel organizations – have pressed him to quickly impose “crippling” economic sanctions against Tehran, and some are arguing that he should make preparations for a military attack on Iranian nuclear facilities…

Grizzly Bears Vanishing From Canada’s Great Bear Rainforest
It’s called the Great Bear Rainforest, but few grizzly bears have been seen on British Columbia’s north and central coast this year. Conservationists and bear viewing guides are blaming the disappearance of the bears on the overfishing of salmon, their main food source. “I have not observed a single mother and cub-of-the-year in our traditional territory,” said Douglas Neasloss, a bear viewing guide of the Kitasoo-Xaixais First Nation on the central coast. “We are extremely concerned about the status of our bears right now…”

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