Wednesday, April 27, 2016

Time for American Regime Change

The American regime of two corrupt political parties that favor Wall Street over Main Street is the message young people need to carry with them into the California and Oregon primaries, as well as to the streets outside the DNC in July. As noted at Shadow Proof, this is a movement, not a cult.

Young people, fed up with the oligarchy that Clinton and Trump represent, voted overwhelmingly for Sanders in the primaries he lost, and they are by no means Democratic Party loyalists. And why should they be? They have been betrayed in every way possible by Obama and Clinton for eight straight years, and their future is bleak with either Clinton or Trump in the White House.

Whatever happens at the Democratic National Convention in Philadelphia, or in the general election, the movement Sanders' campaign catalyzed is the only hope for democratic renewal in the US, and the only hope for humanity, that is suffering from relentless American aggression. A little creative anarchy and social organizing against what Clinton and Trump stand for couldn't hurt a bit.

Tuesday, April 26, 2016

Renewable Energy Unsustainable

Energy demand is much more than electricity. Electricity is only 18% of energy demand worldwide. 82% of energy demand is for manufacturing, transportation, housing and food production--using fossil fuels. 

Solar and wind energy currently provide 3% of total world energy demand. Switching to electric vehicles would double electrical demand, requiring burning more fossil fuels and mining of rare earth minerals for batteries, often in regions that are militantly resistant to having their homelands ravaged.

Electrical storage and grid infrastructure for solar and wind energy creates increased energy demand to mine minerals, as well as to manufacture and transport materials for this new infrastructure. Mining and manufacture of solar and wind infrastructure generates toxic waste, as well as polluted air and water.

Solar and wind energy systems have to be replaced every 30 years. It takes a ton of coal to make a dozen solar panels. Renewable energy without massive cuts in energy demand is thus unsustainable. With two million people born every week, consumerism and militarism are wasteful energy habits we can no longer afford.

Monday, April 25, 2016

Just Say No to 350

Hijacking the environmental movement is a strategic long-term investment by the fossil fuel industry to cash in on the gullibility of young, impressionable climate change activists.

Thursday, April 21, 2016

Doing the Numbers

As of today, the numbers in the Democratic presidential primary are Clinton 1,442 and Sanders 1,209--a 233 lead for Clinton. There are 1,400 delegate pledges left, 475 in California alone.

In other words, it ain't over.

Thursday, April 14, 2016

That Human Rights Thing

As Holly Wood observes in her recent post:

Millions of Americans cannot tell you what is contained in the United Nations Universal Declaration of Human Rights. They could not tell you when it was signed. They cannot tell you why it was needed. I wager if you asked most Americans right now, they would not know this document exists.
Why does this matter, you might ask? Consider:
According to Article 5 of the UNDHR, torture is recognized as a human rights violation and proscribed by international law. However! America believes itself exempt from the Geneva Conventions. Many Americans plainly do not seem to give a fuck. In fact, consumers of conservative talk radio seem pretty into torture as a weapon in the War on Terror. Perhaps one of the most terrifying historical consequences of 9/11 is that it revealed to the rest of the world how eager and willing a great number of Americans are to disregard the United Nations Human Rights Declaration. And if that was the terrorists’ intention — to make the world see how inhumane we really are — the case could be made that they succeeded.
So what can we do? Well:
Today, millions are gleefully campaigning for Hillary Clinton without giving a second of critical thought as to her position as Secretary of State atop a multinational system of torture and state violence. She can run for President because millions of Americans think this is good foreign policy experience that qualifies her for the Presidency. Few Americans seem willing to engage with its objective reality: Hillary Clinton is a profiteer of state torture. Slay, queen.
Run that by me again? OK:
The logic of human rights agreements is that when we agree that under no circumstances should a human body be tortured, under no circumstances is the torture of a human body legitimate. No exceptions. Hard and fast. Black and white. Cross your heart and hope to die. This is a promise we make to the world and future generations that torture will be no more. The promise was to never again be as cavalier towards the sanctity of human life as were the Nazis. That was the point of the agreement. No hyperbole necessary.
But we freed the slaves, right? Jesus:
According to the UNDHR, “No one shall be held in slavery or servitude.” Yet, human trafficking persists all over the world. At no point has human slavery ended. At no point has there been a unified commitment to eradicating human slavery, either. Sure, people think human slavery is awful and shouldn’t happen, and yet still it does.
Surely, that can't happen here! Right:
As democracies, we could demand that our governments unite in eradicating slavery across the globe. And yet people hear about sex trafficking and child soldiers and somehow their existence doesn’t consume our media attention. We should be hearing stories about Boko Haram every fucking day. But we don’t have to go to Africa to see bondage. Our landscape is littered with cement boxes where the bodies of Blacks and Latinos are caged for years. And in many of these for-profit prisons, they are conscripted to work for corporations such as Microsoft, Quaker Oats and Victoria’s Secret in exchange for what amounts to a tube of toothpaste a week in their hyper-inflated prison economy.
At least we got Obamacare! Christ:
Right now, healthcare is run on a for-profit basis. Health insurance is privatized in America. It is illegal for the government to regulate drug prices. Even executives of ostensibly non-profit hospitals make millions of dollars a year in personal income, wildly stretching the meaning of nonprofit. To put it bluntly:
Until we come together to recognize healthcare as a right — not a financial privilege — we are violating a basic tenet of the UNDHR. Many people want to claim healthcare is not a human right but a commodity. But here’s the thing: in the same breath you are saying you don’t care that America is violating the human rights of its citizens to appease Capitalists. That’s what you’re saying. You’re saying Capitalism matters more than this basic human right. You can believe that, but just admit to yourself that you’re that kind of an asshole. Don’t sugar-coat it.
This is too complicated. Really:
America, the most radical thing we can do is go back and honor our agreements to the world in the UNDHR. They weren’t fancy. They weren’t complex. They were simple promises we made to a world in crisis the American government would be pioneers in modeling good governance for its own people. They were basic tenets of a good society.

Monday, April 11, 2016

Travels with Kenny

In July 1974, the year U. S. District Court Judge George Boldt ruled on the American Indian treaty fishing rights case United States v. Washington – commonly known as the Boldt Decision – I was a cannery tender captain, buying salmon for Port Chatham Packing Company of Seattle, owned at the time by a pair of Norwegian brothers named Norman and Erling Nielsen. Port Chatham smoked salmon was known worldwide for its exceptional quality, and counted gourmet chef Julia Child among its steady customers.

The salmon I procured for Port Chatham came largely from Lummi (a.k.a. Lhaq ‘temish) and Samish Indians, who caught the Chinook salmon so prized by connoisseurs of the Nielsen’s Norwegian-style BALLARD LOX. Sometimes, when seas were rough off Cherry Point where they fished, I took my vessel into the Sandy Point Marina and tied up to a friend’s father’s private dock. The Marina is part of the Lummi Indian Reservation, so this was handy for all involved.

The problem, as I soon discovered, was that I was obligated to buy a license and pay a tax to the Lummi Tribe, which would make me less competitive in the prices I could offer to the fishermen. Operating in violation of this regulation is how I came to meet Ken Cooper, at the time a Lummi Nation fisheries patrol officer. Built like a Grizzly Bear, Ken did not need to persuade me that I would be wise to come along peacefully, to be heard in Lummi Tribal Court.

In July 1993, when I was managing litigation for the Watershed Defense Fund, our attorney and I appeared before the Washington State Shorelines Hearings Board in Olympia, and called on Lummi Nation water resources staff person Harriet Beale to testify about her knowledge of water quality issues. Later that summer, I went on vacation to the coastal village of La Push, located on the Quileute Indian Reservation. Walking around the village, I saw a beautiful carved canoe, and asked the owner if I could take a photo.

As he proudly posed next to it for a photo-op, I mentioned I knew a Lummi Indian by the name of Ken Cooper, who was from just down the coast at the Hoh Indian Reservation. Stunned by my comment, he said that Ken did not grow up at Hoh River, but grew up right next door, pointing at the small house just yards away. Learning of this, I sent the photo to the Lummi water resources office, where Ms. Beale worked alongside Ken Cooper, whom I received a call from a few days later.

When I answered the phone, Ken, who likely did not remember our encounter twenty years earlier, thanked me for the photo of his childhood friend -- whom he had not seen in many years -- and proceeded to tell me stories about living at La Push. Before he hung up, Ken said that the experience of receiving this photo out-of-the-blue was so emotional, that he had held his ceremonial drum while we talked.

In September 1995, U.S. Senator Slade Gorton – the former Washington Attorney General who lost the Boldt Decision case – went on a rampage of vengeance against Lummi Nation, threatening to drastically cut the federal funding they were entitled to by the 1855 Treaty of Point Elliot, in retaliation for Lummi Nation subjecting white Fee Land Owners on the reservation to water quality rules enacted by the Lummi Indian Governing Council. As special advisor to Washington Environmental Council president Sherilyn Wells, I observed the Lummi round dance in front of the Whatcom County Courthouse where Mrs. Wells spoke (alongside Lummi spiritual leader Ken Cooper), in denouncing Senator Gorton.

Attending the round dance -- accompanied by Lummi Tribal drummers – was Lummi Nation staff attorney Shirley Leckman, and my Public Good Project associate, Paul de Armond. As I walked up the block to tell Paul and Shirley that I had just returned from the printer with copies of Paul’s report on anti-Indian developments in the region, I could hear Ken Cooper’s booming voice singing a holy song in the Lhaq ‘temish language.

On May 19, 2001 – after flying in from San Francisco, to where I had moved in 1998 -- I attended the Whatcom Human Rights Task Force awards banquet, at which Kurt Russo of the Lummi Nation Sovereignty and Treaty Protection Office presented an award to Paul for “putting his life on the line” contributing to the apprehension of people engaged in intimidation of environmental advocates, Indian treaty proponents, and human rights activists. Joining Paul in receiving awards were my friend Linda Lyman, and posthumously, Ken Cooper.

In June 2005, I published a collection of my short stories titled Life as Festival, in which I included the stories Ken Cooper had told me in 1993, that I named Eye-to-Eye. In my story, I used the name ‘Benny’ instead of Kenny.

In October 2011, early one Sunday morning, I walked for tea and scones at the Fort Mason café and bookstore, overlooking the Golden Gate Bridge and San Francisco Bay. Browsing through the used books section, I spotted an intriguing title—The Heart of the Sky: Travels Among the Maya, by Peter Canby. Thinking that my friend Nina -- who had adopted a Guatemalan Maya daughter while living and teaching in Oaxaca -- might enjoy it, I purchased it and returned home. Enjoying the book, I nearly read it straight through, until I came to page 311, where to my utter surprise, I read the following passage: 

Later, back in San Cristobal, I spoke with a member of the delegation of Northwest Indians that had been visiting Lacanja. The man, a six-foot-five-inch, 250-pound Lummi Indian from Washington State named Cha-das-skidum, or Ken Cooper in English, was concerned that the Lacandons were losing their forest and that this would affect their spiritual well-being.

“When they’re young”, he said, “all indigenous people go into the forest and stay there until the forest speaks to them, until they become part of it. When that happens, the forest shows them how to get out. It’s like you guys. You didn’t get out of the forest because you were tough or smart. You got out because the forest was ready to let you go.”

On April 17, 2013 -- having received notice of an April 6 anti-Indian conference, held near the Lummi Indian Reservation – the Cascadia Weekly published my letter to the editor titled ‘Givers and Takers’ on page 4 of the Earth Day issue. According to Paul de Armond’s sister Claire, it was the last thing Paul read before passing away on April 20, and the last time he smiled. In the April 23 issue, Cascadia Weekly’s editor wrote a eulogy to Paul titled ‘A Giant Passes Through’.

On May 3, 2013, I received an email from a woman named Sandra Robson, who was involved in the fight against the proposed Gateway Pacific Terminal (GPT) at Cherry Point, a coal-export development opposed by Lummi Nation. Sandra was working closely with Sierra Club, as well as ReSources, a non-profit that successfully sued SSA Marine/Pacific International Terminals (parent of GPT) for violating the Clean Water Act, by illegally bulldozing an ancient Lummi burial ground and village site at Cherry Point.

On March 11, 2014, I got an email from a lady named Deborah Cruz, a Unitarian Universalist involved with Lummi Nation, who had read my May 5, 2013 article titled White Power on the Salish Sea: The Wall Street/Tea Party Convergence, published at IC Magazine. My article had been quoted in a January 2014 cover story by Sandra Robson at Whatcom Watch titled What Would Corporations Do? Native American Rights and the Gateway Pacific Terminal, with a footnote link that was forwarded to Ms. Cruz by Crina Hoyer at ReSources.

On March 12, 2016, Northwest Citizen presented Sandra Robson the Paul deArmond Citizen Journalism award. On April 1, 2016, Wrong Kind of Green published my special report titled Netwar at Cherry Point: White Power on the Salish Sea, a story about the pursuit of truth, democratic renewal, and the holy spirit

In the concluding paragraph of my 2005 story Eye-to-Eye, I wrote the following about Ken Cooper:

A few years back, when Benny returned to the other world to share stories with his ancestors, I remembered these stories he told me over the phone one morning, while holding his drum and the photo I’d sent him of the new canoe carved by his childhood friend at La Push. He was thinking of maybe going back for a visit during the great gathering of tribal ocean paddlers from Canada and Washington that I’d told him I’d seen advertised while camping out there on vacation. 

I don’t know if he made it back, but I like to think that he’s happy more people are starting to appreciate the values of cooperation, reciprocity, and sharing he grew up with. It would make him feel good.

Sunday, April 10, 2016

Ending Brothel Slavery

France joins Norway, Sweden, Iceland, Canada and Northern Ireland in adopting the “Nordic Model” of helping victims of sex-trafficking by criminalizing clients, not prostitutes, and by providing support and exit services for the 89% of prostitutes who are not prostitutes by choice. Recognizing the tremendous violence in prostitution, including assault, rape, physical and psychological torture, the French National Assembly on April 6, 2016 chose to protect prostitutes’ fundamental rights as human beings.

Saturday, April 09, 2016

Kelsey Cascade Rose Juliana v. United States of America

The April 8, 2016 ruling by U.S. District Court Judge Thomas Coffin -- in Eugene, Oregon -- that 21 plaintiffs, ages 8-19, are entitled to be heard in their claim that the federal government has violated their constitutional rights by permitting, encouraging, and otherwise enabling continued exploitation, production and combustion of fossil fuels is unprecedented. As Judge Coffin wrote in his order denying the government's motion to dismiss:

The debate about climate change and its impact has been before various political bodies for some time now. Plaintiffs give this debate judiciability by asserting harms that befall or will befall them personally and to a greater extent than older segments of society. It may be that eventually the alleged harms, assuming the correctness of plaintiffs' analysis of the impacts of global climate change, will befall all of us. But the intractability of the debates before Congress and state legislatures and the alleged valuing of short term economic interest despite the cost to human life, necessitates a need for the courts to evaluate the constitutional parameters of the action or inaction taken by the government. This is especially true when such harms have an alleged disparate impact on a discrete class of society.

While the federal government denied any duty under the constitution to protect essential natural resources for the benefit of all present and future generations, the Court's decision upheld the plaintiffs' claims regarding the government "denying them protections afforded to previous generations and by favoring short term economic interests of certain citizens." The next step is a review of Judge Coffin's decision by another judge in the same court, Judge Ann Aiken.

As political theater designed to dramatize the conflict between Wall Street and main street, it is worth watching the public response to this decision. While it is unlikely to prevail in the federal courts, assuming it ever goes to trial, it is an important clarification of the power imbalance in American society, and a timely reminder that the rigged electoral system -- now frustrating US citizenry -- must be changed as a matter of human survival.

While it is a noble gesture of citizenship on the part of the plaintiffs, it is unfortunate that their legal counsel have chosen to promote icons of the non-profit industrial complex, i.e. 350, Bill McKibben and Naomi Klein -- all of whom are financed by the fossil fuel industry -- in their press release. As noted in Charms of Naomi: The Mystique of Mass Hypnosis, this social engineering by Wall Street has hijacked the energy of American youth, in order to prevent the effective political organizing required to combat the exorbitant power of the fossil fuel industry.