Greener Times

Promoting a sustainable society…one day at a time.

February 1 – 7

Posted by Trey Smith on February 10, 2010

Greener Times for the Week of February 1 – 7
Volume 4 No. 42
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: Zinn
* Our Climate Crisis: Requiem for Bus #194
* From Where I Stand: Haiti and Humiliation – Gauze Not Guns
* This Week in History
* Un-Spinning the Spin: Greens Tackle Violation of Secret Ballot

For Your Consideration…
Network Theory: A Key to Unraveling How Nature Works

In the last two decades, network theory has emerged as a way of making sense of everything from the World Wide Web to the human brain. Now, as ecologists have begun applying this theory to ecosystems, they are gaining insights into how species are interconnected and how to foster biodiversity…

Arctic Sea Ice: Freezing Toward a New Record?
After the third-straight year with record or near-record melting of Arctic sea ice, perhaps it’s not a surprise that the annual re-freezing of the Arctic is continuing the consistently alarming trend. December 2009 and January 2010 saw unusually warm conditions across the Arctic (even as North America got blasted with particularly cold air). The result? Arctic sea ice extent is now lower than it was at this point during the record-breaking 2006-2007 cycle that resulted in the record-lowest sea ice extent ever recorded in the summer of 2007. While both the summers of both 2008 and 2009 saw extreme melting far in excess of average, neither quite reached the extent of 2007. The stage is being set for another significant melt in 2010…

Leaks Imperil Nuclear Industry; Vermont Yankee Among Troubled
The nuclear industry, once an environmental pariah, is recasting itself as green as it attempts to extend the life of many power plants and build new ones. But a leak of radioactive water at Vermont Yankee, along with similar incidents at more than 20 other US nuclear plants in recent years, has kindled doubts about the reliability, durability, and maintenance of the nation’s aging nuclear installations…

US Makes Copenhagen Climate Pledge Official (Sort of)
The United States committed to cutting emissions 17 percent by 2020 under the Copenhagen Accord on Thursday. But it attached a pretty big caveat. The commitment only takes effect if Congress passes legislation requiring those reductions. That’s one very monumental “if.” The US was responding to a Jan. 31 deadline by which all countries who had joined the Copenhagen Accord in Denmark in December had to list their non-binding pledges to cut greenhouse gases. The US promised to cut emissions “in the range of 17%, in conformity with anticipated U.S. energy and climate legislation, recognizing that the final target will be reported to the Secretariat in light of enacted legislation…”

Thoughts By the Way: Zinn
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.

Howard Zinn’s A People’s History of the United States penetrates two hundred years of deception to reveal God’s truth, truth about this nation that is self-evident and stunning in its contradiction of the story told by mainstream press and by school texts. What a shame he has not lived long enough to watch us get the message. But you already have? Congratulations. There’s little evidence that America has even opened the book. There is ample evidence that the time has come for an epilogue. You know the litany of that evidence, so here is just enough of it to prove that I do too:

Greg Palast speaking on BBC and Air America has reminded us that the WTO Financial Services Agreement reached eight months prior to the Battle for Seattle broke down old rules against cross-border trade in currency and financial derivatives, and that as a result when US mortgage-backed securities collapsed so did Iceland. (The Nation, Dec 21, 2009).

President Obama has discovered that the Senate health care bill is bad for his health. It smelled so much like the hated Massachusetts program that the state voters kicked out the Democrat running for the coveted Kennedy vacancy and 60 seat majority. Goodness! Furthermore, the bill is so bad it has become an iconic bowel movement in the holy grail of reform: It is supported by established progressives (read Krugman) and rejected by a large minority of the left.

And, worst of all, the Supreme Court has just transferred the executive branch of government to the Chamber of Commerce.

That last wouldn’t have been such a shock had we been studying our Zinn because his book reveals a connected line of dots pointing to something like that. Don’t agree? No problem, move on to the case of Patty Murray. Whereas removing this bottom-feeder come November will be highly commendable and a great moral victory, it will be just a minor inconvenience to the Chamber of Commerce. Sorry, I meant to say the cabal of war profiteers and empire builders that funds the electoral process. So much for the litany of evidence, and now its dire prediction.

The end of the connected line of dots is a conclusion that the electoral system and associated machinery of government have been hijacked. Dwell on that for a bit while I describe my days. They have become walks on a tightrope of sanity driven by the penchant of the media, especially PBS and NPR, for assuming that the United States has a functioning government. It has always been an oligarchy, and now, hijacked, it’s a puppet show. Those pulling the strings have no interest whatsoever in the welfare of the USA. Yet how respectfully we absorb polite dissertations and learned discussions of the fine points of financial regulation, diplomatic relationships, and health care. Good night, Gwen, good night Judy, goodnight Jim.

The following epilogue sounds idiot simple but between the lines is a profound change in my attitude that took place around when the space needle recently got to be a roman candle: what was logical conclusion has become belief.

The “land of the free and the home of the brave” has retraced the rise and fall of earlier empires with all their corruption and cruelty. What appears to be a government, and professes to be a government, is a working arrangement between the very rich and the police. This may come as a shock to those who have not read Howard Zinn’s history.

[Editor’s note: Howard Zinn died at age 87 on Wednesday.]

Our Climate Crisis: Requiem for Bus #194
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.

At the end of this week, King County Metro bus route #194 from Seattle to Seatac airport ceases to be — victim to the new bully, LINK, the regional light rail system. And the brand-spanking new rail cars take a bit longer — that’s right longer — to make the run than trusty #194!

#194 has been the Metro express bus route to Seatac Airport. LINK’s first route, this one to from Seattle to Seatac, opened late last year.

Bus riders from the soon-to-be former bus # 194 will be forced to ride LINK to get to Seatac Airport on an express route. This is LINK, the climate-busting, budget-busting, block-busting regional so-called ‘light’ rail system that aims to make it easier to ruin our Livable Planet faster by escorting more folks to fly. Remember flying is worse than driving for emitting greenhouse gases (GHGs). In addition to big carbon dioxide emissions, flying emits nitrous oxide, 300 times worse than CO2 as a GHG.

I checked two timetables for the #194 run from Seattle to Seatac against the comparable runs for LINK. On the first run, LINK was 4 minutes slower. On the second run, LINK was 1 minute slower than #194.

So, why did we build LINK from Seattle to Seatac and incur a monstrous carbon debt from construction that will take decades and decades to repay — if we still have a civilization by then?

An activist friend told me recently that Seattleites avoid buses in droves and might flock to LINK in droves because many regard buses as a place where people “urinate in the back”. He may be right.

If he is, then LINK is built on classism, racism and fear—not to mention a commitment to bulldoze whole city blocks and to chainsaw irreplaceable stands of trees. Buses are the sustainable way, folks. They ride on existing infrastructure. Many city lines run on hydropower. Buses require no tunnels, no massive stations to be built.

They do require a public that is not classist, racist and bound by fear.

From Where I Stand: Haiti and Humiliation – Gauze Not Guns
“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.

Haiti and Humiliation: Gauze Not Guns
by Swaneagle Harijan

February 29, 2004, I lived in Berkeley working as a gardener with my companera of Women In Black, Jane Welford. We heard the story on KPFA about the kidnapping of President Jean Bertrand Aristide by US Marines. Democracy Now! journalist, Amy Goodman, accompanied him on his exile flight to Central Republic of Africa. It was atrocious to realize the only democratically elected president in the history of Haiti was taken out. A few days later, we were able to attend an event in Oakland featuring Piere La Bossiere, a Haitian living in the Bay Area, Representative Barbara Lee and Kevin Pina, a longtime documenter of Haitian resisters. It was informative and enraging. In the aftermath of the coup, several thousand Haitians were killed with activists supporting Aristide being targeted. Racist demonetization and labeling resisters as gangs continues to this day. The degrading manner in which Haitians are treated is portrayed as justified in mainstream media.

The attitudes of some people I talk to about the current earthquake fiasco are startlingly ignorant, tho Bob’s Bakery here on Vashon raised $12,000 on 2 Sundays to go to organizations the owners are familiar with due to their many trips to Haiti. Several organizations and businesses are following suit and musicians all over the northwest have benefits lined up for months to come, including a student organization my daughter is part of at Seattle Central Community College planning an all ages event at Vera March 13. My son’s reggae band is involved already in performing at a number of these.

Haiti’s desperate poverty is legendary; the poorest country in the western Hemisphere. Few Americans bother to educate themselves about Haiti, so few know it was the only successful slave rebellion overthrowing the French. Since that day in 1804, Haitians have fought French, English and US colonizers. Their defiant resistance has cost them basic human rights as corporate colonizers continually punish those who do not submit.

Starvation, 80 % illiteracy, intentional US suppression of infrastructure, Free Trade rice (cheap import that ruined Haitian rice farmers similar to free trade corn that ruined 2 million Mexican farmers) have kept the people scrambling to survive deplorable conditions. Mothers were forced to make cookies from dirt as recent as last year in an effort to stave off hunger among their children. When the global economic downturn began it’s spiral, Haiti was one place when people became frantic in their struggle to attain food as was the case in many countries worldwide where the wealthy hoard irregardless of hunger among their less fortunate neighbors. Ah, such are the times of unfettered greed, compassion fatigue and jaded privilege.

Once again, brave Amy Goodman made her way to do eye witness reporting from the ground in Haiti. She conveyed with simple clarity the truth of Haiti’s crisis: from the clueless US Marine with his big gun perched on a tripod in front of the heavily damaged hospital in Port-au-Prince; to the rubble where she went searching for Eve Ensler’s dear friend,Myriam Merlet, only to find her dead; to the rural community where a helicopter landed with no one getting out, then taking off to dump bread on the heads of injured, hungry and thirsty people below. The doctor in the hospital described the horror of amputating people’s limbs using a hardware store hack saw with no anesthetic or antibiotics while the US military was busy taking over the airport and hoarding food, water and medical supplies. He said that we need gauze not guns. His disgust at US and UN ineptness was evident.

Amy saw signs placed all over in English: We need water. We need food. Help us.

Daily I hear reports that further my shame of being Amerikkkan. The golf course in Port-au-Prince was made into a camp with 60,000 people. Food and water were given to 10,000 for several days. Understandably, the remaining people were upset. The US 82nd Airborne, occupying the Port-au-Prince airport with 20,000 troops, polices food and water. Lieutenant Brad Kerfoot said that the people had misbehaved the day before, so no one would receive food or water in the camp. He said the Haitian victims acted ungrateful. Two Mexican planes loaded with medical supplies were turned back by US troops. Now hundreds of critically injured patients are being denied evacuation, again by US military. The stories of ineptness in distributing food, water and medical aid is astounding. Seems it is more important to control it than give it. The scope of the idiocy rivals the FEMA, National Guard and Blackwater debacle after Hurricane Katrina. This racist military control freakism at the cost of human life is a global display of the US value of humiliating destitution rather than acting effectively with compassion.

When my teenage daughter heard of this tragedy, she told me she wants to go to help in Haiti after graduation. One of my clients already has begun donating weekly to a fund to make that possilbe. We will find an organization known among progressives for addressing immediate need over bureaucracy. We must intervene where possible to truly direct effort and aid to those most in need. IMMEDIATELY! Humiliating those in such life threatening circumstances is simply the need for unjustified power to keep itself blind to true solution. Until those who are excessively wealthy spread it, until those who are overarmed lay them down, until petty tyrants cease perpetrating corporate mentality, until the disease of racism is uprooted, we will continue to see the US military and it’s concept of aid entrenched with the genocidal attitudes that enforce humiliation. Such depraved behavior is what the world now associates with Amerikkkans….

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 2, 1779: Anthony Benezet and John Woolman, both prominent Quakers (Society of Friends), urged refusal to pay taxes used for arming against Indians in Pennsylvania. Since William Penn established the state two generations earlier, the Friends had dealt with the Indian tribes nonviolently, and had been treated likewise by the native Americans. Benezet and the Quakers were also early and consistent opponents of slavery.

February 3, 1973: President Richard Nixon signed the Endangered Species Act, intended to avoid species extinction, especially through loss of habitat.

February 4, 2004: The Massachusetts Supreme Court declared that gays were entitled to nothing less than marriage under the equal protection clause of the 14th Amendment to the Constitution. They ruled that Vermont-style civil unions would not suffice, declaring they created an “unconstitutional, inferior, and discriminatory status for same-sex couples.”

Un-Spinning the Spin: Greens Tackle Violation of Secret Ballot
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.

Tim White, Allan Rosato, and Tom Munsey of the Green Party of San Juan County have been fighting an uphill battle to restore and secure the secret ballot.

San Juan and 20 other Washington counties use the Hart Intercivic voting system, which prints a unique serial number bar code on each ballot. This unique identifier allows anyone watching ballot processing to see the name of the voter of a ballot, in clear violation of Washington’s Constitution and Law. What is worse, many counties use VoteHere’s Mail-in Ballot Tracker “audit” system (MiBT), which scans voter ID to ballot ID.

Violating counties using the HART voting system and MiBT are Chelan, Ferry, Island, Mason, Pacific, San Juan, Stevens, and Yakima.

Violators using HART but not MiBT: Asotin, Benton, Clallam, Clark, Columbia, Garfield, Kittitas, Klickitat, Lewis, Lincoln, Okanogan, Skagit, and Skamania.

Violators specially printing unique ballot barcodes to use MiBT with the ES&S voting system: Douglas, Grant, Grays Harbor, and Walla Walla.

Compare your ballot with neighbors or call your county auditor to determine if it bears a unique bar code.

In July 2009, White, Rosato, and the SJC Greens refiled their local lawsuit directly to the Supreme Court, naming Secretary of State Sam Reed as initiator and pusher of this system.

The suit alleges that actions of Secretary of State Sam Reed required approximately one million voters to vote on ballots that contained unique bar code identifiers, in violation of the State Constitution’s guarantee of “absolute secrecy” of the ballot and statutes requiring uniform ballots within a precinct. The suit also claims that Reed has encouraged and subsidized an uncertified ballot tracking “audit” system that links the ballot identifiers to voters’ identities, further undermining ballot secrecy by potentially permitting vendors and officials to inspect how a citizen voted.

Seattle public interest attorney Knoll Lowney represents the four voters and the Green Party of San Juan County, where the offending systems were first deployed. According to Lowney, “Reed’s actions have violated the constitutional rights of one million Washington voters just because of where they live. In King County, where I vote, there are no unique bar codes on my ballot and I am certain of the secrecy of my ballot. Every voter in our state deserves the same confidence.”
Press release excerpts 7/14/09

White and Rosato successfully lobbied the King County Council to unanimously pass a Secret Ballot Ordinance prohibiting the software and unique identifiers on its million ballots.

However, when they attempted the same in San Juan County by ordinance and citizen initiative, the county prosecuting attorney, Democrat Randy Gaylord, deemed each move unconstitutional. He claimed that neither the county legislative branch nor the people have any right to shape election law or administration and that this responsibility falls solely under the discretion of the county auditor.

This strange ruling has further repercussions. If upheld, it makes King County Council’s Secret Ballot Ordinance unconstitutional and void as well.

In November 2009, the Washington State Supreme Court declined original jurisdiction over the case, citing insurmountable procedural technicalities, but concluded that the claims have merit and remanded the case to San Juan County Superior Court. Where, according to White, “it languishes for lack of funds.”

More on this action posted at http://www.sjmedia.org.

NOTE: White and Rosato are out of resources to challenge Gaylord’s rulings and press their Superior Court case against Sam Reed. They still owe $850 for filing fees and $15,000 in remaining attorney fees after donating 160 hours of professional construction labor. To help White and Rosato financially, please contact co-litigant Tom Munsey at 360-378-5196.

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