Greener Times

Promoting a sustainable society…one day at a time.

Archive for February, 2010

February 15 – 21

Posted by Trey Smith on February 18, 2010

Greener Times for the Week of February 15 – 21
Volume 4 No. 44
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: Third Party Politics
* Our Climate Crisis: Chase Bank Under Siege — The Fight Continues
* Un-Spinning the Spin: Ode to Trey
* From Where I Stand: Rape and Men Who Don’t
* This Week in History
* Pencil Shavings: Letter to GT Readers

For Your Consideration…
Nuclear Power and the Bottomless Bank

Congress and the Obama administration are on a course to provide the nation’s nuclear industry an unprecedented financial package—one that could dwarf the combined expenditures of last year’s bailout programs. And the legislative package comes with restrictions that would block the Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) from completely examining untried nuclear power systems. The extensive support for the development of nuclear power is incorporated in the Clean Energy Jobs and American Power Act moving separately through the Environment and Public Works and the Energy and Natural Resources committees. The House version of the bill passed in June. If enacted, the legislation would create a special “bank” affiliated with the Department of Energy (DOE) called the Clean Energy Deployment Administration (CEDA), which could potentially provide underwriting for 187 new nuclear power projects—at an estimated cost of $10 to $14 billion each—and assume responsibility for cost overruns and delays…

Health Insurance Death Spiral
The he most startling implication of Anthem/Blue Cross of California’s announcement last week that it is going to raise individual health insurance rates by up to 39 percent this year is not that insurance companies are arrogant and untouchable. That was already well known. What has to be more alarming for the 800,000 Californians who are covered by Blue Cross individual health insurance policies is that their insurance rates appear to have entered what insurance industry underwriters call a death spiral…

Reid and Obama Abandon the Jobs Front
What planet are Harry Reid, Barack Obama, and the Democrats on? Obama’s own economic advisers say that unemployment is going to average 10 percent this year and 9.2 percent next year. And yet all that Harry Reid now is proposing to spend on a new jobs bill is $15 billion over the next decade, which is peanuts. And most of those peanuts are going directly to businesses, which is the least efficient way to stimulate the economy There is no money to extend unemployment benefits. There is no money to extend health care coverage to the unemployed. There is no money to support state governments, which are having to make vicious cuts to balance their own budgets. There is no money to create a federal jobs program. It’s as though Reid and Obama don’t care that there are almost 15 million unemployed Americans right now and that this number is unlikely to get much lower any time soon…

Thoughts By the Way: Third Party Politics
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.

Third party politics has never made the cut, not only because a third party is un-American but also because the Democrats have maintained against all odds a critical one-percent decency advantage over Republicans. This tiny advantage has been grasped as salvation by a public mentality of fear. In early 2009, thanks to the concurrence of Republican debasement and Democratic oratory, the percentage ballooned and the third parties lapsed into coma. But come Fall, Wall Street, Afghanistan, and domestic police stating, the balloon fizzed away back down to the traditional advantage of Democrat over Republican of one percent. What then, now, of Murray’s vulnerability? Has Obama sunk so far as to undermine the invincibility of the war goddess of Easter Island? Is this why we, the re-born Greens of Washington State think a white knight or a golden Amazon could unseat her? We would in that case be wrong because votes for a third party candidate have never ridden on the candidate, instead have always ridden on the amount of fear stirred up by big money for our consumption. That’s my case, and I’ll now stick to it.

To begin with, rephrase the opening postulate as follows: Third party politicking has always failed because it contests with the majors in their arena. It follows that in practice the challenger’s merit is irrelevant. Menwomen, it has become time to think beyond bottled water, time to re-invent the concept of third party candidacy in a two-party system.

If candidate merit be not the issue, then the issue is failure of the US election system. Why are the good people always kept off the final ballot, that is the issue. We know exactly why such is the case, and that is what has to guide the campaign to unseat Murray. Put it this way, we may not have money, but neither do we have to enter their arena. We create a different arena. The new “arena” is a venue in which to take down the US election system, and in which neither the Green candidate nor Murray is mentioned.

By keeping the names out of sight until the last possible moment, a clear path is created for a stream of revelations that with skill could enthrall the public curiosity. A failure of mine provides an example. When I retired from street work with Stand Up Seattle it was to examine every election for president with regard to its expression of public will. Although unfinished, it became clear that the will of the people was seldom realized, and that every election was fascinating. That’s but one piece of an infinite supply of material overflowing the blog bins.

The Greens have been pushing on a cooked noodle long enough. It’s time to turn course ninety degrees and insert a hypodermic needle.

Our Climate Crisis: Chase Bank Under Siege — The Fight Continues
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.

It’s good to sign off — temporarily or permanently — from GT on a positive note. We held a Seattle branch of arch climate criminal Chase Bank under siege today, February 13. Squad car lights flashed as cops, security guards and multiple bank managers defended the right of Chase to ruin our planet.

We protesters returned to the scene of the N30 crime where I was arrested after chaining myself to the front door of Chase at Westlake Plaza. I’m under court order to not enter this Chase branch until after July 6, 2010. The criminal on N30 was Chase Bank for a laundry list of climate crimes including heavily financing coal, oil and gas industries. The criminal now is still Chase Bank for being the largest financier of mountaintop removal (MTR).

MTR is the practice of blowing off the tops of mountains in Appalachia to extract coal. MTR literally reduces whole mountains — 472 so far — to rubble as it detonates the explosive equivalent of one Hiroshima atom bomb each week in the country’s oldest mountains. MTR poisons waterways across thousands of square miles. MTR releases toxic dust across the same range. MTR violently destroys forest and wildlife habitat, turning lush woodland into mangled moonscapes of bare rock.

All this criminal behavior is funded by Chase more than any other bank. All this criminal behavior comes to extract coal, our dirtiest fossil fuel and our worst aggravator of climate change.

The cops, security guards and bank managers behaved today as if reading from our script. The managers recognized us on the sidewalk outside Chase from N30. They promptly summoned security and police. Two police cruisers plus bicycle cops responded. The cops stationed themselves outside the bank on the sidewalk, while bank employees stared at us from inside. One cop placed himself between us and the bank front door. Chase customers had to walk a gauntlet past the flashing lights, the cops and our big CHASE BANK CLIMATE CRIMINALS banner to get into the bank.

One of us protesters entered the bank to withdraw all her money and close her account — a hugely powerful act. She reported back the bank employees inside “were all scared”. Chase was under siege!!

We’ve joined the Rainforest Action Network national campaign against Chase’s funding of MTR. RAN has fellow protesters against Chase in the streets of Chicago and New York. In Seattle, we plan regular protests at this Chase branch or others in our city—until they stop their climate crimes.

Join us! Tell friends who bank at Chase to withdraw their money. Let’s spark a national boycott of Chase. Make Chase Bank hurt until they stop hurting Our Shared Planet.

Frederick Douglass told us, “Power concedes nothing without a demand.”

Un-Spinning the Spin: Ode to Trey
Maryrose Asher is a former Chair of the Green Party of Washington State and a tireless activist of many causes. Her column will appear periodically in GT.

Just joking! Trey specifically requested that none of us who have been involved with Greener Times over the years sing his praises in anything we write. So I won’t.

Greener Times has served as a wonderful conduit for those of us who like to write and express our views. The occasional email or comment to say, “liked your column,” meant a lot to me. It was reassuring to know that we weren’t just reaching out into a vacuum.

I am excited about working with the electoral coalition fellow Green, Dave Jette, and I have started. As mentioned in a previous edition of GT, the Washington State Progressive Electoral Coalition (WSPEC) is a PAC and our goal is to support an independent candidate to run against Patty Murray for US Senate. Currently, we have a “Committee to Draft Dr. Richard Curtis for Senate” and we hope to get the endorsement of WSPEC on February 21. Richard, as you all know, is part of the GT stable of writers as well as a member of the Green Party of Seattle. He is also a philosophy professor at Seattle Central Community College with expertise in religion and politics and is a long-time political activist. We are pleased that he is willing to take up the charge for the coalition to bring our issues into the political arena. If interested in WSPEC, the senate campaign, or have any questions, please feel free to contact me.

My local Green Party (VMIGP) met this week and some interesting projects are planned. We will be participating in the Vashon Island Food Summit March 5-7. There are also plans to host a Ground Zero event to draw attention to the largest arsenal of nuclear weapons in the world and right at our doorstep.

Of interest to GT readers, on Friday, February 12, I participated in a protest outside the Westin Hotel in Seattle where Vice President Biden was attending a fundraiser for Senator Patty Murray. It was cold and rainy but about 75 activists stood across the street with their signs. Some were from the Tea Party Movement, some were supporters of various Republicans running against Patty Murray, and some were from WSPEC, letting folks know we were drafting a progressive candidate to run against Sen. Murray. However, the largest group was the single-payers as MoveOn.org had made an action call to their members to attend the protest. In typical MoveOn fashion, they urged their members to “come with signs supporting Murray and Biden and urging them NOT to back down on passing real health care reform.” Taking advantage of the opportunity MoveOn handed them, Seattle Times reporter Brian Rosenthal in his article, “Biden campaigns for Patty Murray,” wrote that there were hundreds of protesters, most of whom were there to urge passage of a health care package quickly. Talk about a misrepresentation of facts! You can find my letter to Mr. Rosenthal in response to his article on the GT website (previous post).

Although this is the last issue of Greener Times, I hope many of you will stay in touch. Who knows? This may not be the last you will hear from us.

From Where I Stand: Rape and Men Who Don’t
“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.

Rape and Men Who Don’t
by Swaneagle Harijan

Recently a teen was raped in her bedroom at 4 am in my community. The predator warned her she would be killed if she made noise. The crime is not solved at this point, but hopefully it will be. I am unhappy it generated little dialog and some gossip i overheard while in several stores. I sent a letter to the editor of the local paper.

Looking at the facts, anywhere from a third to 75% plus of women are raped, depending if it’s affluent America or hellacious African Republic of the Congo. What i wonder, researching and writing about the spread of femicide, coined after the horrendous sexualized killings of women in Darfur, Ciudad Juarez and Guatemala that have occurred in the past 10 to 25 years, is why aren’t that percentage of men speaking out against rape? Over and over again, it is women doing all the grunt work around exposing and preventing this crime. It is women advocating for victims, who all too often continue being blamed by archaic thinking for assaults. I have yet to see a man i know wearing a “stop rape” button or speaking out on this topic as a priority. Praises to men known for doing so: Jackson Katz, anti sexist activist; Stephen Lewis, Canadian Ambassador to Africa who speaks for the urgent need of women taking the lead if Africa as a whole is to survive; Steven Hill, a political writer who has taken a published stand against rape in the book, Transcending Rape Culture.

As a single mother doing mostly hard labor for a living, my free time is precious. I cram as much activism as possible in the few free hours i might have in a week. I tend to focus primarily on mothering, then stopping genocide, femicide and ecocide. Integrated into all of this is the urgency of dismantling racism, classism and sexism which ties directly into massive damage done by corporate colonialist US militarism that thrives, not only on killing, but degradation and humiliation of it’s soldiers and their victims. A few nights ago, i heard a report in the wee hours on BBC that due to the growing, excessive violence on this planet, it is more dangerous to be a woman than to be a soldier. Of course, it was not repeated again in the daylight, which is the case with many such reports like the phenomenon of men hacking open pregnant women in the Congo with machetes. I verify information when i can.

For the sake of the children, we must unify for dignity, peace, justice for all people starting with equal value for all humans to be safe.

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.

February 15, 2003: In the single largest day of protest in world history, millions on 6 continents demonstrated against the U.S./U.K. plans to invade Iraq. Reported totals included 1 to 2 million in London and Rome; 1.3 million in Barcelona, Spain (a city of 1.5 million); 500,000 each in Berlin, Paris, Madrid, and New York. Smaller demonstrations were held in over 600 cities and towns across the U.S., including tens of thousands in several cities, and 150,000 the following day in San Francisco.  Total participation is estimated at 25 million in more than 100 countries.

February 16, 2005: The Kyoto Protocol went into effect after countries responsible for 55% of the world’s greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions had ratified the treaty, following Russia’s agreement to its terms. The agreement’s purpose was to reduce such gases to 12% below their levels in 1990 by 2012 and, thus, slow global warming. 180 countries had agreed (except for the United States and Australia, two of the world’s top emitters of GHG per capita) to rules for implementing the Kyoto Protocol on July 29, 2001, in Bonn, Germany. Pres. George W. Bush withdrew the U.S. from the process shortly after he took office that same year. His reasoning was that, since India and China had not signed on, they would gain a competitive advantage. The U.S. is responsible for 25% of the earth’s GHG.

February 21, 1848: “The Communist Manifesto,” written by 29-year-old Karl Marx with the assistance of Friedrich Engels, was published in London (in German) by a group of German-born revolutionary socialists known as the Communist League. The political pamphlet — arguably one of the most influential in history — proclaimed that “the history of all hitherto existing society is the history of class struggles,” and that the inevitable victory of the proletariat, or working class, would put an end to class society forever.

February 21, 1965: Malcolm X, an African-American nationalist and religious leader, was shot and killed by rival Black Muslims in New York City, as he was about to address his Organization of Afro-American Unity at the Audubon Ballroom in New York City’s Washington Heights. He was 39.

Pencil Shavings: Letter to GT Readers
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.

As I indicated in last week’s edition, this edition may well be the last one or at least the last one for some time. Aside from needing to turn my attention more toward personal health concerns, one question that I’m sure is on some of your minds is Why Now? Why pull the plug on GT at this point in time?

I have enjoyed bringing you GT for the past 4+ years. It’s been a labor of love. Besides sharing with you my own thoughts and current news of the day, I have had the wonderful opportunity to share with you the thoughts and insights of several dear colleagues: Tom Herring, Duff Badgley, Maryrose Asher, Swaneagle Harijan and Richard Curtis. I had considered pulling the plug several months ago, but kept on going because of the value of their words. This is what has made shutting down the weekly GT such a hard decision.

In the end, however, I realize that words can only take us so far. Over the past few years, I’ve witnessed a dwindling of action. Though our country is going to hell in a hand basket, fewer and fewer people are taking to the streets to demand change. There SHOULD BE a massive public outcry, yet we barely can muster a whimper! This apathetic attitude has made me question the impact and effectiveness of publications like Greener Times.

It has always been my hope that GT would serve as catalyst for action, but it only appears to be a catalyst for reading. This is not to say that information is not needed, but information WITHOUT action is pointless and, if GT has become pointless, then why continue to publish it?

The GT website will remain open. I haven’t made a decision yet as to whether or not it will eventually be shut down too. One possibility is that GT will live on solely as a blog. That said, I’m fairly sure this will be the last weekly transmission of GT via email.

In the end though, what becomes of GT depends on you. If after receiving this edition, my in box is flooded with pleas to continue in the current format, I might reconsider my decision. If enough people are interested, there is the possibility that GT could become biweekly, monthly or quarterly. As I stated above, GT may simply become an ongoing blog or it may die altogether. The other possibility, of course, is that most of you don’t care one way or the other — I certainly don’t hold it against you if you don’t care. GT is not that important in the overall scheme of things.

Whatever happens from here on out, it’s been a wonderful ride and I have each of you to thank for that!!!!!

Posted in Greener Times | Comments Off on February 15 – 21

Asher Responds to Seattle Times Article

Posted by Maryrose Asher on February 13, 2010

Dear Mr. Rosenthal,

I just finished reading your article, “Biden campaigns for Patty Murray.” I and others from the Washington State Progressive Electoral Coalition were present at the protest handing out press releases about our intention to support a progressive independent candidate for US Senate, Dr. Richard Curtis. I am sorry you were not interviewing those who attended the protest as I would have welcomed the opportunity to speak with you.

It certainly must be newsworthy that the “Left wing” of the Democratic Party is willing to walk away from the Democrats to support an independent candidate more in tune with their progressive values than Senator Patty Murray, many from within the single-payer movement. In your article, you misrepresented this group as “supporters” who want to “pass a health-care package quickly.” I think you will find that, quite the contrary, the single-payer group is extremely unhappy with the health-care reform package promoted by Sen. Murray and the administration, which in fact is a payoff to the insurance industry. If you did some homework, you would find that Sen. Murray is one of the largest recipients of donations from insurance lobbyists.

We are also tapping into voter outrage against the two-party system that many feel is now owned and controlled by the corporations. This message is also resonating with some within the Tea Party Movement who, until this candidacy, have not had another mechanism through which they could voice their anger. The excerpt below from the Washington Post shows our potential to reach into the Tea Party Movement with the message of our independent candidate.

Hundreds of independent tea party groups have sprouted up nationwide over the past 12 months. Their members hold divergent political views, and their leaders have publicly quarreled over tactics. But the factions have largely united around a common cause: a don’t-tread-on-me brand of fiscal conservatism and a belief that the government, first under President George W. Bush and now under Obama, has recklessly plunged deeper into debt and overstepped its constitutional powers. “If you take 1,000 so-called tea partiers and ask them what this movement is, you’ll get 1,000 different interpretations,” said Mark Williams, a talk-radio host and chairman of the Tea Party Express.  – CBS News

A large part of this debt, which gets little press coverage, is the cost of the so-called “War on Terror” which, to date, has cost Washingtonians over $21 billion. That $21 billion would have gone a long way in the state of Washington. David Swanson, co-founder of AfterDowningStreet.com and author of Daybreak, Undoing the Imperial Presidency and Forming a More Perfect Union addresses the “imperial presidency” and the abuse of constitutional powers which many thought would be part of the promised “change.” By electing Obama, the American public voted for change but got more of the same. There are a lot of reasons why you are seeing this frustration percolating within the electorate, Mr. Rosenthal. I hope you will do some investigative reporting and get to the reasons why.

We will be holding an official press conference the first week in March, time and place to be determined. I have attached the press release we circulated yesterday. Please make note of the impressive list of endorsements Dr. Curtis has received since February 7 when the Senate Search Committee of the Washington State Progressive Electoral Coalition first asked him to run. We are in the process of setting up a campaign website but background information on Dr. Richard Curtis can be found at his website.

If you have any questions, please feel free to contact me.
Maryrose Asher
Interim Campaign Coordinator

Posted in Commentary, Maryrose Asher | Comments Off on Asher Responds to Seattle Times Article