Greener Times

Promoting a sustainable society…one day at a time.

September 28 – October 4

Posted by Trey Smith on September 26, 2009

Greener Times for the Week of September 28 – October 4
Volume 4 No. 24
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
* Obama Leaves Bush-Cheney Repressive Apparatus Standing
* New Mexico Utility Quits Chamber Over Its Climate Change Stance
* Thoughts By the Way: Wrong Word
* Our Climate Crisis: Direct Action Works
* Un-Spinning the Spin: The Assassination of Count Folke Bernadotte
* This Week in History
* Pencil Shavings: Part II of My Comments on “Third Party Folly”
* News You May Have Missed

Obama Leaves Bush-Cheney Repressive Apparatus Standing
by Matthew Rothschild, Editor of The Progressive

Civil libertarians cheered the election of Barack Obama, and with good reason. Bush and Cheney had trampled all over our rights and liberties. And as someone who taught constitutional law, Obama denounced the Presidential power grabs and pledged to address them.

But he hasn’t followed through on that pledge.

This week, the Senate is holding a hearing on the reauthorization of some expiring—and troubling–sections of the Patriot Act. The Obama Administration wants to reauthorize them nonetheless.

One of these is Section 215, which allows the FBI to slap National Security Letters on bookstores and libraries and thereby find out who has been checking out or buying which book. This is a violation of our right to privacy and to Free Speech, and Obama should know better.

Obama’s Administration is also making the outrageous claim that it can detain anyone it wants at Bagram Air Force Base in Afghanistan, and then deny that person all access to due process and habeas corpus.

Nor has Obama made any move to rectify the blatant denial of due process that is embedded in the Military Commissions Act, which allows the President to designate anyone an enemy combatant and jail you. If you’re not a U.S. citizen, he can jail you as an “alien enemy combatant,” and you may never see a judge or a lawyer for the rest of your life.

Nor has Obama withdrawn National Security Presidential Directive 51, which gives to the President extraordinary powers over the other branches of government at every level in times of an emergency that he himself declares.

These examples strongly suggest that Obama doesn’t have the will to tear down the edifice of oppression that Bush and Cheney constructed.

As a result, we remain today a much less free country than we were eight years ago. And it looks like we’ll remain that way tomorrow.

Even if Obama doesn’t use these powers against us, a rightwing successor like Sarah Palin sure might.

This is one issue where libertarians and progressives need to get together on, in a hurry.

New Mexico Utility Quits Chamber Over Its Climate Change Stance
from e360

Another utility company is pulling out of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce over its stand on climate change and its opposition to cap-and-trade legislation being debated in Congress. Calling climate change “the most pressing environmental and economic issue of our time,” the New Mexico-based utility PNM Resources announced it would not renew its membership at the end of the year. This comes a week after Pacific Gas & Electric, a major California utility, withdrew from the chamber over its climate change stance.

The chamber, the largest business group in the U.S., opposes any cuts in carbon emissions that would drive up energy costs, and it has been critical of President Obama’s call for tighter regulations. The organization also threatened litigation if the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency doesn’t revisit its findings on the effects of climate change. PNM officials said they would prefer to spend company resources working with groups that share their view on the need for “thoughtful, reasonable” climate legislation. “The climate change issue is so compelling, we felt it best to focus on those relationships that are productive,” said Don Brown, a company spokesman.

Thoughts By the Way: Wrong Word
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.

Buying insurance for your health is like buying insurance to stay out of jail. Health is not insurable. Health is something to be cared for that everybody deserves, and the providers have to be paid salaries. Therefore, as long as the debate in Congress is about health insurance, no good will come of it. Don’t take my word for it. A clear majority of Americans believe that the insurance industry is in “health care” for the money. Until I wised up, I myself was investing in health insurance profits by way of my Putnam mutual fund. We’re being had, memwomen, as long as the media supplies the lexicon.

From my perspective, as I sit on this pile of glacial till, I’m surrounded by single payer health care advocacy at every level of social organization. We have a group here on Vashon, there are groups in every city, a state group, and three national groups, all committed to reason. Yet open any newspaper, listen to any radio or television broadcast, and you hear “health insurance”. This week, for example, one of our two local newspapers caught my cynical eye with a long article justifying the role of insurance in health care. And the showcase, the avatar, of thinking inside the box is the Public Option. What’s this, “puts and calls” on stock in our bodies? We’re in the chute headed for the sledge on the head at which point we will still be wondering where we missed the turn to sanity. The great lesson we are not learning is that the Machiavelli types running the presses that print our money and our copy know how to control our thinking caps with us none the wiser.

If it’s clear that health care must not be placed in an insured category, and that instead should be paid for by tax, then in consequence the size of the tax base has to be studied. Here’s the question: can states or even counties, or even one smallish island, fund its own single payer plan? Tricky, tricky! Plan for what, that’s the question. If for basic, preventive care, then small can be adequate. On the other hand if for heart transplant, then a national tax would be needed. Well, we don’t see this tricky question in the present debate. Same point, different angle, we also do not see in the present debate the matter of forcing the food industry to stop pushing poisonous food-like substances©, nor the matter of breast cancer prevention. Gotta line up our health care ducks, menwomen, and the insurance duck goes at the back end, slipping and sliding on Congressional mud.

© Michael Pollan has also written An Omnivore’s Dilemma.

Our Climate Crisis: Direct Action Works
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.

Direct Action (DA) works. It opens doors. It makes friends. It changes behavior. It makes news.

Because of DA, I am speaking to 19 international energy experts next week about the global scourge of biofuels.

In March, 2009, we placed Seattle mayor Greg Nickels under Citizens’ Arrest for Biofuels Crime Against Humanity and Biofuels Crime Against the Earth. I jumped up on a stage where Nickels was speaking and served him our Arrest Warrant — and was dragged off by his police guard.

Six weeks later, the city of Seattle quit biofuels cold. Their fleet vehicles had been burning 73,000 gallons of soy biodiesel per month. NPR ran the story, including me leaping onto the stage with Nickels.

Last week, the Seattle office of the World Affairs Council — under the U.S. State Department’s International Visitor Leadership Program — invited me to “to discuss the biofuels resistance movement, highlighting the work of local organizations that has led to shifts in county and city-level policies regarding biofuels consumption by government organizations.”

I asked Jennifer Thorvig, Deputy Director of the International Visitor Program for the World Affairs Council, how she learned of me. “The news”, she said.

Precisely because of our DA, the World Affairs Council chose to invite me to speak before “19 energy policy experts from Europe, their 2 national program escorts, and 1 program partner from DC (22 people total)” on Thursday. I’ll have the chance to convince them that, yes, “biofuels are a global scourge”, as NPR quoted me.

I will display our BIOFUELS = “CRIME AGAINST HUMANITY” banner at the event. But I’ll be steeped in the science condemning biofuels, too. Rachel Smolker, PhD., will be helping me prepare.

It is tremendously heartening that Climate SOS, as well as One Earth Climate Action Group, is embracing DA as central to our climate activism. DA works.

Un-Spinning the Spin: The Assassination of Count Folke Bernadotte
Maryrose Asher is a former Chair of the Green Party of Washington State and a tireless activist of many causes.

September 17 marked the 61st anniversary of the assassination in Jerusalem of Count Folke Bernadotte by the Zionist group Lehi, a Hebrew acronym for Lohamei Herut Israel, “Fighters for the Freedom of Israel” לח”י – לוחמי חרות ישראל. The British referred to this terrorist group as the Stern Gang after its founder Avraham Stern. It was also referred to by its English acronym LHI.

An account of the assassination was given by General Age Lundstrom who was in the UN vehicle:

In the Katamon quarter, we were held up by a Jewish Army type jeep placed in a road block and filled with men in Jewish Army uniforms. At the same moment, I saw an armed man coming from this jeep. I took little notice of this because I merely thought it was another checkpoint. However, he put a Tommy gun through the open window on my side of the car, and fired point blank at Count Bernadotte and Colonel Serot. I also heard shots fired from other points, and there was considerable confusion… Colonel Serot fell in the seat in back of me, and I saw at once that he was dead. Count Bernadotte bent forward, and I thought at the time he was trying to get cover. I asked him: ‘Are you wounded?’ He nodded, and fell back… When we arrived [at the Hadassah hospital], … I carried the Count inside and laid him on the bed…I took off the Count’s jacket and tore away his shirt and undervest. I saw that he was wounded around the heart and that there was also a considerable quantity of blood on his clothes about it. When the doctor arrived, I asked if anything could be done, but he replied that it was too late.

Ironically, before his appointment as United Nations Mediator on Palestine, Count Bernadotte, a Swedish diplomat and Vice-President of the Swedish Red Cross, was best known for securing the release of about 31,000 prisoners, many of them Jews, from Nazi concentration camps.

He is described as a “simple man despite his high birth,” “a crusading Don Quixote who liked to see the world as an arena where evil fought goodness and himself as an unbiased roving knight,” or just a “good, rather ignorant, man cruelly out of his element in the Middle East.”

After his death, Judah Magnes, American-born Hebrew University founder, wrote that Bernadotte had “done more to advance the cause of peace and conciliation in Palestine than all other persons put together.” Indeed, Bernadotte had been a strong advocate for the repatriation of the Palestinian refugees and had included a provision for the refugees in his formal plan completed the day before his murder. In his words, “These innocent victims of a needless conflict who should be assured the right to return to their homes, if they desire to do so.”

Months after his murder, Bernadotte’s plan was defeated in the UN, however the UN General Assembly approved Resolution 194 which declared “the refugees wishing to return to their homes and live with their neighbors should be permitted to so so at the earliest practicable date.” To date, some sixty years later, this resolution has yet to be implemented.

As to those responsible for the murder of Bernadotte, following the death of Lehi’s founder Avraham Stern in 1942 Lehi was run by triumvirate of Israel Eldad, Yitzhak Shamir, and NatanYellin-Mor. It was Eldad, Shamir, and Yellin-Mor who led Lehi in its murderous acts of car bombings, kidnappings, and, in addition to the brutal assassination of UN mediator Count Bernadotte, responsibility for over 40 other assassinations.

Following Bernadotte’s assassination, Lehi was disarmed and, in 1949, Natan Yellin-Mor was tried and convicted for Bernadotte’s murder and sentenced to eight years in jail. However, he was instantly released and pardoned when elected to the first Knesset (1949-51). The shooter, Yehoshua Cohen later worked as David Ben-Gurion’s (Israel’s first prime minister) personal bodyguard.

Eldad throughout his life advocated for the “liberation” of the entire land of Israel as defined in the Bible. Since 2007, his son Aryeh Eldad heads up the secular right-wing Hatikva Party. Shamir continued his lethal career as head of Mossad’s assassination unit between 1956 and 1964 and went on to become Prime Minister of Israel from 1983-1984 and 1986-1992. Yellin-Mor, although initially vehemently against the Palestinian right of return, dedicated much of his later years working for reconciliation with the Palestinians and took part in negotiations with the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO), promoting the idea of a Palestinian State.

The first public admission of Lehi’s role in the assassination of Count Bernadotte was made on September 17, 1977, six years after the statute of limitations for murder had expired.

Quotes from resource material listed below
Folke Bernadotte – Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia [details Bernadotte’s official proposal]

Israel Independence Day on Virtual Jerusalem

Lehi (group) – Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

My Happiness Bears No Relation to Happiness, a book by Adina Hoffman.

Arye Eldad to head new secular Right party | Israel | Jerusalem Post

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 28, 1917: 166 people who were (or had been) active in the I.W.W. (Industrial Workers of the World, whose members were also known as Wobblies) were indicted for protesting World War I. They were accused of trying to “cause insubordination, disloyalty, and refusal of duty in the military and naval forces” in violation of the Espionage Act. One hundred and one defendants were found guilty, and received prison sentences ranging from days to twenty years, with accompanying fines of $10,000-$20,000. This was part of a successful U.S. government campaign to cripple the radical union movement.

October 2, 1967: Thurgood Marshall was sworn in as an associate justice of the United States Supreme Court, the first African American on the nation’s highest court. He was appointed to the Court by Pres. Lyndon Johnson who previously had appointed him Solicitor General, the legal officer in the Justice Department responsible for representing the United States before the Supreme and federal appellate courts. Marshall had been the lead attorney in the Brown v. Board of Education case which led to the end of legal segregation in the nation’s schools.

October 3, 1967: Folksinger/songwriter Woody Guthrie died in New York City at the age of 55. He had spent the last decade of his life in the hospital, suffering from Huntington’s chorea. Woody called his songs “people’s songs,” filled with stinging honesty, humor and wit, exhibiting Woody’s fervent belief in social, political, and spiritual justice.

Pencil Shavings: Part II of My Comments on “Third Party Folly”
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.

In the article “Putting Third Party Folly Into Historical Perspective” by Paul Rosenberg featured in the last edition, he writes,

The miserable state of the Democratic Party is due to the larger failure of our political system as a whole. We need to direct both critical attention and political organizing effort to altering the system as a whole, in order to create a different political context in which the Democratic Party can be significantly improved over its current pathetic state.

And who, pray tell, shares a lot of the blame for the “failure of our political system as a whole”? None other than Rosenberg’s supposed victim! It’s the Democrats who have taken the hardest turn to the right! It’s the Democrats who time and time again turn a blind eye to their own progressive base. It’s the Democrats who continuously turn their back on organized labor. And it’s the Democrats who now pull in as much special interest and corporate money as the GOP.

Please remember that it was potential candidate Barack Obama who said he supported the public financing of presidential campaigns and then, when he became the front runner, went back on his word and raised the largest amount ever for such a campaign!

Today, it’s the Democrats, not the Republicans, who pose the biggest threat to the passage of real health care reform. A lot of pundits opine that the only problem the Dems have is a lack of a spine — that they cave in to conservative demands too quickly and easily. To this I say, hogwash! The Dems are in the same boat as the GOP: they don’t want to tick off the health care industry that funds their party machines. And so, they keep offering watered down proposals that will keep the big moneyed interests happy.

It’s simply unrealistic to think that any type of grassroots pressure will turn the Democrats into something that they aren’t because the grassroots doesn’t possess the one thing a major party needs the most — money. Folks can send all the angry letters, emails and faxes they want to. They can scream and shout on talk radio. They can write a plethora of letters to the editor. At the end of the day, unfortunately, none of that translates into significant capital and that is the only currency either major party is concerned about.

Back in my Socialist Party days, one of the groups that Sen. Bernie Sanders still belongs to, Democratic Socialists of America (DSA), was always chiding other Socialists to work within (not outside of) the Democratic Party to move the party to the left. This has been DSA’s strategy for the past 30 years and it is during this 30 year period that the Dems have consistently moved to the right. So, it doesn’t look as if this strategy is bearing ANY fruit whatsoever.

At this point in our political history, neither mainstream party is worth a steaming pile of crap. Both serve the same master and, here’s a hint, that master is NOT the public welfare. Personally, I don’t think there is ANYTHING we can do expressly p-o-l-i-t-i-c-a-l that is going to change this sorry state of affairs. (Electing different Democrats — supposedly more liberal ones — won’t do squat!) In other words, we need to stop employing the same losing strategies that we pull out of the closet each time either and/or both parties do something egregiously bad. Not only do we need to “think outside the box”, but we need to scrap the box altogether.

Next week I will offer some unconventional ideas for moving forward.

News You May Have Missed

The Sick Business of Health-Care Profiteering
It’s become a national pastime to bash Wall Street’s lavish pay packages, but as we enter the vortex of another health-care showdown, consider these overlooked facts: With median annual compensation of more than $12.4 million, C.E.O.’s at the big health-care companies make two-thirds more than their counterparts in finance and are the highest paid of any industry. The health-care industry’s total annual profit has grown to an estimated $200 billion, and it doled out nearly $170 million in campaign contributions in 2007 and 2008. It now spends more than any other industry lobbying the federal government—$3.5 billion over the past decade and a record $263 million in the first six months of this year. That’s six lobbyists and nearly half a million dollars for each member of Congress. It’s been a good year on K Street, too…

G20 Disappoints on Climate
Hopes for a significant breakthrough on climate change at the G20 were dashed Friday with the issuance of a final communique that was even more underwhelming than the drafts that leaked earlier in the week. The final statement from the leaders called for greater focus on climate change, but included no new specific commitments. “We underscore anew our resolve to take strong action to address the threat of dangerous climate change,” said the statement…

World Consumption Plunges Planet Into ‘Ecological Debt’, Says Leading Thinktank
Rich consumers are still voraciously gobbling up the world’s resources, despite the worst recession in a generation, with their appetite pushing the planet into “ecological debt” from today, according to a report by think-tank the New Economics Foundation (NEF). This “ecological debt day” marks the point in the year when consumption around the world exceeds the Earth’s annual “biocapacity” — so for the remainder of the year, we will be eating into environmental resources that will not be replaced, according to NEF’s calculations. Andrew Simms, NEF’s director, said the deep recession had delayed this “ecological debt day” by only 24 hours compared with last year…

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