Greener Times

Promoting a sustainable society…one day at a time.

January 18 – 24

Posted by Trey Smith on January 17, 2010

Greener Times for the Week of January 18 – 24
Volume 4 No. 40
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
* For Your Consideration…
* Thoughts By the Way: Unfinished Business
* Our Climate Crisis: (No Column This Week)
* From Where I Stand: Ground Zero – Persistent Resistance
* This Week in History
* Guest Column: Washington State Progressive Electoral Coalition Launched
* Pencil Shavings: The Left is More Narrow-Minded than the Right

For Your Consideration…
Past Decade the Hottest on Record

The first decade of the twenty-first century was the hottest since recordkeeping began in 1880. With an average global temperature of 14.52 degrees C (58.1 degrees F), this decade was 0.2 degrees C (0.36 degrees F) warmer than any previous decade. The year 2005 was the hottest on record, while 2007 and 2009 tied for second hottest. In fact, 9 of the 10 warmest years on record occurred in the past decade.Temperature rise has accelerated in recent decades. The earth’s temperature is now 0.8 degrees C (1.4 degrees F) higher than it was in the first decade of the twentieth century, and two-thirds of that increase has taken place since 1970…

When the Lights Go Out
When fossil fuels begin to vanish, the first sign of the times will not be made of cardboard and propped up in front of an empty gas pump. The sign will be the flickering bulb in the ceiling, because electricity is always the weakest link in the synergistic triad that includes fossil fuels and metals. When the lights go out, so does everything else. The house or apartment will be largely non-functioning. Not only will there be darkness throughout the dwelling between sunset and sunrise, but all the sockets in the wall will be useless. The “four major appliances,” stove, refrigerator, washer, and drier, will be nothing more than large white objects taking up space, so there will be no means of cooking food or preserving it, and no means of doing laundry. There will be no heating or air-conditioning, because these are either controlled by electricity or entirely powered by it. For the same reason, there will be no plumbing, so clean water will not be coming into the house, and waste water will not be leaving it. And that is only one’s own habitation. The entire country will be affected…

Crushing Haiti, Now as Always
The he US-run aid effort for Haiti is beginning to look chillingly similar to the criminally slow and disorganized US government support for New Orleans after it was devastated by hurricane Katrina in 2005. Four years ago President Bush was famously mute and detached when the levies broke in Louisiana. By way of contrast President Obama was promising Haitians that everything would be done for survivors within hours of the calamity. The rhetoric from Washington has been very different during these two disasters, but the outcome may be much the same. In both cases very little aid arrived at the time it was most needed and, in the case of Port-au-Prince, when people trapped under collapsed buildings were still alive. When foreign rescue teams with heavy lifting gear does come it will be too late. No wonder enraged Haitians are building roadblocks out of rocks and dead bodies…

Global Warming Indigestion May Kill Gorillas, Monkeys
Global warming-induced indigestion could help make mountain gorillas and other leaf-eating primates sitting ducks for extinction, a new study says. Annual temperatures are predicted to rise 3.6 degrees Fahrenheit (2 degrees Celsius) by mid-century in some climate models.Leaves that grow in hotter air contain more fiber and less digestible protein, meaning leaf-eaters would take longer to process their food. In addition, the higher temperatures may force the animals to spend more time lounging in the shade to avoid overheating. Such changes may force some gorilla and monkey species to sit still for long periods—time that would otherwise be used for finding food, protecting territory, or maintaining social bonds, the study says. The inaction, combined with less nutritious food, could eventually cause mountain gorillas and African colobines—a large group of species including colobus monkeys—to go extinct, the study predicts…

Thoughts By the Way: Unfinished Business
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.

As January of ought ten unfolds, I find that for the first time since Maryrose dragged me onto the street in ought six, I shy from reading my email. That litany of bad news all of a sudden has become unbearable. Gone is the columnistic allure of culling the postings for grist. Stalled, I pick up a book and find some unfinished business.

The book is the Assault in Norway, the unfinished business is the atomic bomb, and we are the businessman. (Assault in Norway by Thomas Gallagher 1975, reprint 2002).

The discovery that mass could explosively be changed into energy came at a time when the USSR and Germany were run by killers, one of them psychotic, the US was shouldering aside Japan in the Orient, and the sun never set on the British Empire. The discovery was made in Germany and carried to the US by fleeing Jews and an Italian. In 1942, discovery that Germany was making heavy water in occupied Norway lit a fire under the budding US research into fission and generated panic in Britain. Norwegian commandos plotted sabotage of the plant at Vemork with the help, mostly disastrous, of the British. Those who survived the help got into the plant and destroyed the heavy water isolaters in early1943. Their survival through the winter and entry into the heavily guarded plant is an unequaled story of courage and stamina. By 1945, the US had the bomb. With Germany out, the Russians victorious, and Japan about to surrender, the US was presented with a fell decision, because the war had not only slaughtered the prime of a generation, it had given birth to the ultimate weapon of mass destruction. What was the US to do with a weapon so horrible that its use in warfare was unthinkable?

On Harry Truman’s watch, the US would next commit the worst war crime in history. You see, the military’s consensus was then and still is, that Japan would have surrendered anyway. And, two bombs, two cities? The answer is that Russia was the new enemy and had to be kept out of the Orient. The US foreign policy that followed was diabolic upon diabolical, the policy of mutually assured deterrence. Whereas the cause of humanity would have dictated emergency reversal of the culture of war, the cause served was that of Niccolò Machiavelli, the state of war would be sustained in order to profit the US elite. The US now has enough atomic warheads in silos in the mid-west and carried in submarines to end civilization. Topping that, if possible, we have given the bomb to proxies Israel and Pakistan and are giving nuclear technology to would-be India. Topping that for sure is China. Sweet dreams America.

The bravery of those Norwegian commandos has been wasted by the overarching fear and greed of America’s shadow ruling elite. Now comes the spin, dear Americans. You think you have put US nuclear horrors out of your mind. You are mistaken. You have some unfinished business to attend to. You cannot think clearly about what the US is up to in South Asia until you face what we did in 1945.

From Where I Stand: Ground Zero – Persistent Resistance
“From Where I Stand” is a revolving column currently featuring the writings of Swaneagle Harijan and Dr. Richard Curtis. If you’d like to get in on the act and contribute to this feature, contact editor Trey Smith.

Ground Zero: Persistent Resistance
by Swaneagle Harijan

Yesterday I traveled to Ground Zero in Poulsbo for the annual Martin Luther King protest and civil disobedience action with Joy Goldstein. Joy has been participating for over 10 years, including at least 12 arrests to her credit. The “soul force” tradition, first established by Jim and Shelley Douglas over 33 years ago, continues in response to 14 first strike Trident submarines. Each Trident carries nuclear fire power equal to 1,000 to 6,080 Hiroshimas establishing the Bangor, Washington Naval Base as the largest nuclear arsenal in the US, possibly the world. (We do not know Russia’s current concentration of nuclear warheads.)

The gathering of protesters began at 8:30 am in preparation for the day’s activities.

I was struck that most there were my age; many much older in sharp contrast to my recent caravan trip to Big Mountain/Black Mesa. (My fellow emerging elder friend Rick and I were among a majority of young allies traveling to assist traditional Dine resisters to Peabody Coal Co. and forced relocation in Arizona’s high northern desert.)

We formed a circle sharing names and issues; discussed aspects of nonviolence from the perspective of Martin Luther King and others; then heard from 5 people arrested November 2nd in a classic, fearless Plowshares action. The 2 mothers, 1 nun (84 years old) and 2 Jesuit priests (one 81 years old) cut 3 fences to gain access to the Strategic Weapons Facility Pacific (SWFPAC) bunker, holding the massive nuclear weapons stockpile. They were issued misdemeanor summons and debarment letters upon release. The summons were dropped with possible felony charges pending.

A walk arrived that began several days earlier in Olympia led by a Buddhist monk from Bainbridge Island. After lunch, we became more focused on what we were about to do after walking from GZ to the main gate. Groups formed according to tasks, we went over the code of nonviolence and off we went.

The protesters spread out in a long line of about 40 people with flags flying the logo of Veterans For Peace and signs opposing nuclear weapons or annihilation. A ladder, to assist with the action of climbing the base perimeter fence, was hidden under a long banner. Upon arrival, it was quickly placed against the fence, with 2 people zipping over. Soon the platoon of Navy soldiers, dressed in blue camo, were alerted to the breach and several took off from their lineup to apprehend the perpetrators and grab the ladder. A woman in Code Pink attire and a man were the brave souls who were released within an hour to join the 2 hour vigil within “crime scene” yellow tape. Odd encasement. Seems most protests these days are fenced in variations of steel. Guess our studied, familiar nonviolent stance rendered only “crime scene” ribbon.

A large air-filled Trident missile was the back drop to our presence as we faced police across the street and the Navy platoon to the side. I was stunned at the outrageous number of police and military. One person counted 22 police and 15 military. Vans and cars augmented the personnel as well as several with cameras recording us from the overpass directly above.

The highpoint of my day was talking to Fr. Bill Bichsel S.J. of Tacoma. I told him about Big Mountain and gave him several pieces of writing about the ongoing genocide of Dine and Hopi peoples. He was very interested telling me he knows Rick Fellows from the Pastors For Peace caravans. He agreed with my assessment that we will never be able to stop genocide and war anywhere else until we adequately address colonialist genocide that has never ceased against Indigenous Americans. The overwhelming white privilege of so much of activism in the northwest continues to be an issue of deep concern to me. I mentioned the 2 exposed uranium mines on the Spokane Reservation as well as the 500 still uncovered uranium mines on the Navajo Reservation. “Bix” was very aware of this reality telling me of his friendships with Puyallup women, Ramona Bennet, Janet McCloud (now deceased and a dear friend of mine) and Connie McCloud, who opened the Backbone/Ruckus action camp on Vashon in July. He asked me to keep him informed of these Indigenous issues.

It is astounding that so few people are aware of the deadly danger we live under in the northwest, really, in the world. That fewer than 75 people came out during this annual Martin Luther King event speaks to the apathy gripping this country. The persistence of those living and working at Ground Zero is admirable, essential and deeply courageous. We must all be attuned to this and do all we can to participate in stopping ALL nuclear

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.

January 18, 1962: The U.S. began spraying herbicides on foliage in Vietnam to eliminate jungle canopy cover for Viet Cong guerrillas (a policy known as “territory denial”). The U.S. ultimately dropped more than 20 million gallons of such defoliants, sparking charges the United States was violating international treaties against using chemical weapons. Many of the herbicides, particularly Agent Orange, manufactured by Dow Chemical, Monsanto and others, were later found to cause birth defects and rare forms of cancer in humans.

January 20, 2001: Tens of thousands lining Pennsylvania Ave. to protest the legitimacy of the inauguration of Pres. George W. Bush were systematically excluded from almost all media coverage of the event. They called attention to the election irregularities in Florida, the dispute over a recount, and the ultimate effective choice of the president by a 5-4 majority of the Supreme Court.

January 22, 1973: Women won control of their reproductive rights when the U.S. Supreme Court ruled in Roe v. Wade that Americans have a constitutional right to privacy, and thus women may terminate a pregnancy before the last 10 weeks. Only during the last trimester, when a fetus can survive outside the womb, would states be permitted to regulate abortion of a healthy pregnancy.
Prior to the Court’s ruling that the decision was private and belonged to the pregnant woman, abortion was essentially illegal in all states except New York (as of 1970).

Guest Column: Washington State Progressive Electoral Coalition Launched
From Maryrose Asher

The Washington State Progressive Electoral Coalition (WSPEC) was officially launched on Sunday, January 10, 2010, at Trinity United Methodist Church in Seattle. In attendance was a broad coalition from Socialist Alternatives on the far left to Libertarians on the far right of the progressive movement, including those alienated from the Democratic Party, namely single-payer advocates.

Volunteers came forward to serve on a Nomination Committee for the WSPEC Steering Committee as well as volunteers to serve on the Senate Search Committee.

Bert Sacks, who had previously offered to put his name in the hat as a potential Senate candidate, unfortunately had to withdraw his name due to suffering a heart attack a week before. He still managed to briefly attend the meeting to make the following statement quoting from an article in Yes! Magazine.

Indeed, every successful nonviolent insurrection has been a homegrown movement rooted in the realization by the masses that their rulers were illegitimate and that the political system would not redress injustice.

By contrast, a nonviolent insurrection is unlikely to succeed when the movement’s leadership and agenda do not have the backing of the majority of the population.

I would also encourage readers of Greener Times to read an essay by Bernard Weiner, Ph.D. (in government and international relations) titled, “Behind the Veils of Power: Hope for Progressives”, “New Year’s Resolution: Don’t Apologize for Democrats”, and “What it Takes to Build a Movement”.

The next meeting of WSPEC will be held on January 31, 2010. Please contact Dave Jette at  (206) 789-8660, or contact me at  (206) 567-0593 for more information.

If you would like to host a meeting of WSPEC in your area, we would be more than happy to provide speakers as our goal is to go statewide.

Pencil Shavings: The Left is More Narrow-Minded than the Right
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.

First off, let me just say I’m not connected with WSPEC (see article above). While I applaud the effort, I don’t have much hope for it. It’s not that I doubt the commitment of Maryrose Asher and Dave Jette; if anyone can pull it off, they can!! No, my cynicism is borne from the fact that leftists and progressives are more narrow-minded than folks on the right.

I realize this sounds like a contradiction in terms, so allow me to explain. People on the right seem more willing to form coalitions and put their differences aside to work for common goals. They may snipe at each other behind closed doors, but they have the ability to go out in public solidly behind one candidate or one issue.

Compare this with the left/progressive community. Too often, groups require unrealistic litmus tests. In order to work with other groups, said groups must agree with your agenda 99.9%. If they disagree ever so slightly, then one group or another gets up in arms and denounces the “offending” group or simply walks away from the coalition. They go back to their lair to pat themselves on the back for standing up for their “oh so important” principles or objectives. This happens with group after group until a coalition becomes impossible.

While the left fritters away opportunity after opportunity, our country continues to slide down into a bottomless pit of corporate bailouts, environmental calamity and endless war. We’re in so deep now, it may take generations to claw our way out of the hole. It may even be too late!

Look, I’m not suggesting that principles aren’t important. But there comes a time when adherence to a vast list of nonnegotiable ideals and principles is like cutting off your nose to spite your face. You can feel smug and self-righteous because you refuse to compromise. You can salute yourself for sticking to your orthodox principles. You can tell yourself that you’re the ONLY true leftists, Greens, progressives, Socialists, etc. At the end of the day, unfortunately, that doesn’t amount to a whole helluva lot. All your refusal to compromise truly does is to cede more and more territory to the right.

In essence, those who stand for policies and perspectives we disagree with don’t have to win the day because we hand it to them on a silver platter.

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