Archive for July, 2009

ONE NIGHT

July 30, 2009

Old Glory

Here is a tale from “Sidelong Glances:

One night while I was a Third Class Petty Officer in the Naval Security Group, stationed on Guam at Anderson Air Base, doing courier duty during the Vietnamese War, we briefed the usual officer – a lieutenant jg (junior grade, USN) to carry the manifest for the security messages in their canvas bag; and chose a First Class Petty Officer (USN) who was 8 hours out of the Mekong Delta to carry the .45-caliber Army Colt automatic to guard the materials.  It all went bing-bang-boom.  Routine stuff.

It was the mid-watch: midnight to 8 a.m., my least favorite.  I was on duty with Lieutenant J.G. Hardman, a Rear Admiral’s son in a concrete cinderblock building with a great big, massive steel vault to hold the security material, when suddenly, there came a banging on our door.

I looked through the peephole to see a Lieutenant Colonel of the U.S. Air Force and six APs (Air Force Police) armed with M-16’s.  The Lt. Colonel looked pissed and the APs looked grim.  I told Hardman what was out there.

“For God’s sake, open up!” he said.

I did so.  The Lt. Colonel glanced at me and said to Hardman,

“I’m the Duty Officer tonight.  I have nine aircraft to get in and out.  You people have a man on an aircraft with a .45.  He’s threatening to kill anyone who comes close to the plane.  If you people don’t take him out, I will.”

Hardman gulped and said,

“Legry, handle that.”

I gulped.  My mind was going a mile a minute.  We had just been issued .38 “Police Special” Smith & Wesson revolvers – the enlisted got long barrels, because we were supposed to hit something, and the officers got Jack Webb Dragnet stubbies because – I figure – they were just supposed to look cool.  But stubbies now had an advantage over the long barrel.

“Mr. Hardman, can I borrow your .38 stubby?” I asked.

“Of course,” he said, “Sure.”  He practically shoved the piece at me.  I had the hit he wanted me to go do the job as fast as possible so the Lt. Colonel wouldn’t yell at him anymore – echoes of Admiral Daddy?

I stuffed the stubby into the right pocket of my work jacket, my finger an instant away from the trigger, and (I hope to tell you) the cylinder fully loaded, and went down to the flight line.

I was the center of interest as the Lt. Colonel, APs, and Hardman watched with bemused excitement (maybe somebody would get shot!), but I wasn’t interested.  I was focused on not getting shot.

You have to make an effort to see this scene.

It’s dead black on a warm tropical Pacific night – the heart of the graveyard watch, maybe three in the morning.  The only illumination is electric spots on the airfield.  Inside a circle of light is the aircraft with the First Class poised in front of the cargo hatch, alert as a spooked cat, the .45 held in ready position.  Outside the circle of light are the baggage carts (there are a lot of fellows going home on this flight, lots of baggage), half-circled like a wagon train awaiting Indian attack, and behind all of those vehicles are crouching, cringing Guamanian baggage handlers, praying to god that they are not tall enough to be the outstanding target for the first round.

What to do?  I sauntered – yes, literally sauntered – out into the circle of light to reveal myself.  Inside, I’m ready to hit the deck.

“Do you remember me?” I asked the First Class.  “I’m one of the guys who just briefed you.”

“Yeah,” he says, and I can tell he’s relieved.  I think, he thinks, the Guamanians are VietnameseAsians, yellow-brown men are all suspect.  This guy just came out of the hottest zone in the Delta nine hours ago; he’s still in combat.  These baggage guys could be Cong.

“Can I come over and talk?” I ask like a friend.  All this time, and all throughout, I’ve got my finger on the trigger of that stubby .38 in my right coat pocket.  It’s pointed straight at his heart.  I’m thinking if I get close enough, I will put this guy’s lights out, if he makes a fraction of a hostile move.

“Please!” he says, and I can tell he’s truly scared.  My sympathy for him charges.  I walk straight toward him –slow and measured – I don’t want to spook him.  I get close.  I say,

“Hey, I don’t know what the hell is going on, but I guess they forgot to tell you something when they briefed you.”

“Oh?” he asks.

“Yeah,” I say.  “I’m supposed to come down here and relieve you and you’re supposed to go back to the shack and do whatever.”

“Oh?” he says.

“Yeah,” I say.  “I’ll take the piece and stand the guard until you get back.”  He looks incredibly relieved.  He surrenders the piece gratefully and I resist a heartfelt sigh.  That damned big-barrel .45 has been in the middle of my chest since I started this walk.

He walks away to get whatever he “missed” at the briefing.  I watch the APs close around him like bears around raw meat.

I signal to the baggage handlers.  Come do your thing and they come, relieved, happy.

It nags me.  I think, the poor SOB.  He just got out of hell, he’s trying to do his duty, he’s scared out of his mind, and now his countrymen are arresting him.

I feel sorry for him to this day.  I hope he got in and out of the bear’s mouth fast and clean, but I will never know.  I hope he got home okay.  I did give my own back to Hardman later, but that’s another story.

So, many years later, waiting in Coos Bay for a snowbound bus to arrive from Bend, Oregon, I struck up conversation with a young veteran who was working in a Veteran’s Hospital.  He was an Iraq War vet – a mortar man with two tours behind him and a discharge for medical reasons.  His nerves were shot.  He was helping other vets struggling to recover some semblance of normalcy after shocking physical injuries.  He told me that he did not go to therapy.  He’d gone through a tough time and he had nightmares and that was just the way of it, wasn’t it?  So, I told him about that night on the airfield so many years ago.  Told him about my own trauma.  Told him about the genuine relief it was to share those things with others who had endured similar or worse – definitely worse, for those people knew things that made my own experience dim in comparison.  I told him about wondering if that young sailor had ever made it home from the Mekong.  It touched this young Iraq War vet in ways I could not feel.  I saw it in his eyes, and later, when I stood in line waiting to board my bus, I saw him looking at me, and our eyes met, and he smiled, and I saw the same relief that had been in that First Class Petty Officer’s eyes so many years before when I took the .45 from his hands, and sent him to his fate.

I guess that’s what inspires me to recall this today: my own responsibility, my own need to lay down the spear and come home.

It really is time to end the war.  All war.  Jl: 7-09

ONE LINK:

Sen. Russ Feingold: White House Is Whistling Past Afghan Graveyard By Jeremy Scahill, The Nation. Posted July 30, 2009.  In 2001, Sen. Russ Feingold, D-Wis., famously and courageously stood up as the lone senator to vote against the Patriot Act.  On July 21, 2009, he did it again, casting the lone vote opposing Sen. Joe Lieberman’s, I-Conn., amendment to the 2010 Defense Authorization bill that immediately authorizes an expansion of the military by 30,000 troops. In an exclusive interview with The Nation, Feingold says he “did not believe it was in the best interest of our troops or our national security.” The measure passed 93-1.

http://www.alternet.org/world/141606/sen._russ_feingold%3A_white_house_is_whistling_past_afghan_graveyard_/

Never Again!

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AVAAZ – “VOICES”

July 16, 2009

This is a very interesting group.  They’re doing a lot of good and significant things for the right reasons, using positive methods. 

ABOUT AVAAZ Avaaz.org is an independent, not-for-profit global campaigning organization that works to ensure that the views and values of the world’s people inform global decision-making. (Avaaz means “voice” in many languages.) Avaaz receives no money from governments or corporations, and is staffed by a global team based in Ottawa, London, Rio de Janeiro, New York, Buenos Aires, and Geneva.

Dear friends,

Here’s a quick report back on recent campaigning at Avaaz. Our community has grown like wildfire and is becoming really extraordinary — the pace and impact of our advocacy is intense. In just the last 8 weeks, we’ve run 9 major national and global campaigns on issues ranging from climate change to Iran to Guantanamo. Much more remains to be done on all these issues — but together we’re contributing in powerful ways. Here are some highlights from the last 8 weeks:

Brazilian rainforest – Brazilian Avaaz members made 14000 phone calls and sent 30,000 online messages to President Lula’s office in two days(!) and in the 11th hour successfully reversed a law that would hand over much of the Amazon rainforest to agrobusiness for exploitation – this was a major victory on climate change since the Amazon consumes enormous amounts of the greenhouse gasses that are warming the earth.

G8 Summit – last week 130,000 Avaaz members signed a petition in 48 hours calling for the G8 industrial countries to limit global warming to 2 degrees celsius – focusing on shaming 3 countries who were blocking progress. The petition was delivered at the summit to UK Prime Minister Gordon Brown (see image at right), along with giant personalized postcards.

Outside the summit, Avaaz members stripped down to green underwear in a humorous theatrical delivery of the campaign’s message that generated substantial media coverage (pictured at right). As Avaaz and partners built pressure in Italy and around the world, the blocking countries relented, and the G8 leaders agreed to the 2 degree goal! However, they failed to agree on specific actions to make the goal a reality — our challenge now is to make sure leaders live up to their rhetorical commitments with a binding global treaty at the UN summit in Copenhagen this December.

Iran Protests – our community rapidly responded to the election crisis in Iran with an opinion poll to gauge the views of ordinary Iranians, a petition to world leaders to withhold recognition of the new President until the crackdown on protests ceased, and a fundraiser to support technology that would allow Iranians to freely access the internet. The rapidly deteriorating security situation has made it difficult to conduct the poll (final word on that coming this week), but the technology fundraiser has raised over a hundred thousand dollars to support the best tools for Iranians to access the internet and communicate freely. The situation in Iran remains uncertain, and we will continue to both support freedom of expression and oppose those who would exploit this crisis to justify military action against Iran.

Japan climate targets – In Japan, we raised the alarm as the Prime Minister Taro Aso was about to choose a damagingly weak climate targets. Funded by small online donations, Avaaz ran a national opinion poll that showed that 63% of Japanese people wanted strong targets, publicized it in the press, in a full page ad in the country’s largest business newspaper, and one in the Aso’s favourite comic book (see right). Internationally, Avaaz ran a front page ad in the Financial Times, and Avaaz members demonstrated and met with Japanese climate negotiators at summits in Paris and Bonn.

At last, the Prime Minister announced a target stronger than polluting industries had urged — but far from strong enough to stop catastrophic climate change. So we redoubled the pressure with a widely-covered international press conference dubbing the Japanese leader “George W. Aso” — comparing him to Bush for holding back progress on climate change.


Free Burma’s political prisoners
– Over 400,000 of us signed a major petition to UN Secretary General Ban Ki Moon asking him to make the release of Nobel prize winning political prisoner Aung San Suu Kyi and other political prisoners his top priority. The petition was delivered in an extended meeting with Moon’s office and in a press conference at the UN in New York. The UN chief issued a strong statement backing the release of Suu Kyi and traveled to Burma to attempt to meet with her, but was rebuffed by Burma’s military junta. International pressure did cause the junta to delay a new show trial to extend Aung San Suu Kyi’s prison sentence, but it will take much more pressure to secure her release.

United States and Torture – A global fundraiser and petition on stopping torture and closing Guantanamo prison allowed Avaaz to secure a giant, 9 story billboard just blocks from the White House in the heart of Washington DC to deliver our message — but at the last minute the company selling the ad space refused, despite members of the US congress offering to help unveil the billboard in a press conference. Avaaz has now secured an alternative option for delivering our edgy message that will have Washington DC buzzing with our call for justice.

UN Climate Summit – At a major summit on climate change in Bonn, Avaaz recruited among members in Germany to help our partners organize a massive 500 person aerial photo spelling out ‘Yes You Can’ as a message to leaders discussing climate targets (see right). It helped raise the profile and urgency of these faltering but urgent talks. Avaaz also sent a 16-person lobbying/activist team to the summit negotiations and members in 10 key countries joined “negotiator tracking teams” that are following and responding to urgent needs to press individual country negotiators at these summits.

Peru – Avaaz arranged with local indigenous and top political allies to deliver a global petition against new laws that would cause massive devastation to the Peruvian rainforest and its people, taking out an ad in the national newspaper (at right). The ad and campaign generated much attention, and the domestic and international pressure worked, for now — the Peruvian congress has revoked the controversial laws!

Israel – As Prime Minister Netanyahu prepared to make a speech responding to Obama’s historic Cairo address and demand that Israel stop illegal settlements of Palestinian land, Avaaz took out a front page ad in a major newspaper – Haaretz – delivering a joint petition from global and Israeli Avaaz members edgily asking Netanyahu to ‘be more like Obama’ and stop the settlements. Netanyahu has so far refused, but we’re helping to build an unprecedented wave of Israeli and global pressure and attention on this issue.

The petitions, fundraisers, rallies, and lobbying campaigns our community is doing are having an incredible impact. Avaaz has grown by 50,000 people a week and is now almost 3.6 million engaged citizens in every country of the world — and we’re truly global – operating in 14 languages our community has 25,000 members in Singapore, 35,000 in South Africa, 130,000 in Italy, 50,000 in Mexico… There hasn’t really been a community like ours before, able to rapidly and effectively mobilize people power all over the world to the greatest needs and concerns of all human beings — it’s a reason for hope.

It’s also an exciting journey — looking forward to taking on the next 8 weeks, and 8 months, and 8 years together!

With hope,
Ricken, Alice, Pascal, Ben, Veronique, Paul, Graziela, Brett, Raluca, Luis, Raj, Milena, Paula, Iain, Taren, Margaret and the whole Avaaz team.

PS – To see some of the highlights of Avaaz campaigning in 2007 and 2008 and leave a comment, click here:
https://secure.avaaz.org/en/report_back_2/

And to check out other recent Avaaz campaigning highlights like our climate victory in Germany, our messages to Obama wall in DC, the delivery of our Swine Flu petition to the WHO, our Green Recovery march at G20 Summit in London, or our support to Tibetan organizations to break the blackout on their communications — visit the Avaaz blog: http://www.avaaz.org/blog/en/.

Click here to learn more about our largest campaigns.

Don’t forget to check out our Facebook and Myspace and Bebo pages! You can also follow Avaaz on Twitter!

HOLY GRAIL, BABOON HEART

July 10, 2009
Pastiche Der Nibelungen.

Pastiche Der Nibelungen.

Ammunition for discussions, harangues and loud debates

BEYOND DAN BROWN: The DeVinci Load. The so-called Holy Grail is the object of legendary quest for Arthurian knights and may be a “wide-mouthed or shallow vessel,” although its precise etymology (in the true literal sense of the word) remains uncertain, and small wonder. The Grail was probably inspired by classical or Celtic mythologies, which abound in horns of plenty, magic life-restoring caldrons, and the like. In Finland, the pre-Christian Kalevala features the sampo, which might be a pillar that holds up the sky, or a mill to produce salt, meal and gold, or a talisman of happiness and prosperity. Take your pick.

The first extant text (or more aptly invention) about the Grail is Chrétien de Troyes’ late 12th century unfinished romance Parceval or Le Conte du Graal, which combined the religious with the fantastic. In the 13th century Robert de Borron’s poem extended the Christian significance of the legend, linking the Grail with Christ’s cup at the Last Supper and with Joseph of Aramea whom he said used it to catch Jesus’ blood as he hung on the cross. In the same century, Wolfram von Esenbach’s Parzival* gave the Grail profound and mystical expression as a precious stone fallen from Heaven (sampo, anyone?). Malory’s late 15th century Le Morte D’Arthur transmitted the fanciful Grail essence to English-speaking readers.

In the story-telling invention, the quest itself became a search for mystical union with God. Through various permutations by many different writers over several hundreds of years, the Grail theme formed a culminating point for the Arthurian romance. It’s a good story device; it doesn’t really matter what it really is, as long as it stands for truth, justice and the “right” way. Its physical presence is just like the True Cross, Longinus’ Spear, St. Michael’s pickled peritoneum, or any other “holy” relic: e.g. entrepreneurs started fabricating bits of the true cross as soon as they noticed a market for it – in fact, selling bits and pieces obviously would part the cross out, so they invented the miracle of overnight renewal; as we’ve seen from Holy Blood, Holy Grail, the DeVinci Code, and Newsweek, people are still making big bucks selling new baubles to hang on the old artificial tree, which is patently, the Grail’s only real value. When you get right down to it, it’s buying a box of air, isn’t it? That’s the way faith works, so have fun with the storyline.

Incidentally, Christ is the Greek Chrestos – a mystery cult popular with the poor and lower middle class of the 1st century C.E. Working people infected their middle class masters with it. Female heads of households were particularly susceptible to its egalitarian message. Self-proclaimed “Apostle” Paul of Tarsus cobbled Chrestos with the historical Jesus movement as a sales package for Gentiles (infuriating the Jesus movement because he co-opted and lied about their guy; of such petty human foibles are great religious movements conceived), but that’s another story.

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* Parzival by Wolfram Von Eisenbach, 13th century C.E. Much ado about fabrics, flags, one’s place at the table, head-busting by foolish men for foolish ladies, and the romantic search for the fabulous grail – the holiest snipe hunt for the silliest prize: the Americas-Stanley-Wimbledon cup of immortality available only for unblemished boobery.  “He’d paid his debt to joy, his life was but a dying.” – Wolfram Von Eisenbach, Parzival.

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MOURNING IN AMERICA: In time, the plastic fantastic mourning that passes for genuine grief will dim.  Society’s itch to have its heroes, even if it has to lie like hell to make them, will be satisfied for the time being.  It will be trotted out again with the next “must-vent” crisis, and we shall have walls of flowers, teddy bears, and balloons – everything in short, nothing short of a full Super Bowl extravaganza – and many blathering speeches shy of substance and dripping with hypocrisy and crocodile tears, mindless chest thumping and blubbering, murmured prayers and homilies, all accepted as available.  Flags will fly.  Guns will boom.  Vendors and trinket salesmen will profit.  Blimps will display large advertising messages and rockets will light the night sky with red, blue, green, yellow and, Lordy loo, who knows what color pyrotechnics?  The body politic will sleep steadier, enervated and expended by a good old-fashioned group grope and mope. This has to be one of the silliest societies on record.

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REVERY: We’ve come a long way, you and I.  Thousands upon thousands of miles, and yet we’re still far short of our destination.  Where are we going anyway?  Haven’t we already been there?  The universe is a big round circle in a dimension so large that we poor mites cannot see the curve.  It looks like a straight line to us, but so does time, and time is a repetition of itself, always telling us the same thing.  As each generation is born, the next arises, and each of those, and all of those millions more, grows by the same learning process, through the same biology, give or take a tiny percent of one gene, which seems to specify skin tone and what we call racial differences.  It’s the same as classifying men by the size of their nipples and finally as insignificant. We all begin as fertilized eggs.  We are one with the chicken and the salamander, the fish and the spider. There is not one atom within us that is remarkable for being unique.  There is nothing unique in the universe, except individual discovery.

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SOME LINKS WORTH VIEWING:

Washington Diarist by Leon Wieseltier, Accommodationism: “One of the most troublesome qualities of reason is that it is not always reasonable.” http://www.tnr.com/politics/story.html?id=cf4e433c-60bd-4184-abc3-fc372c7f8304

Broken Promises: Health Care Deals Struck in Secrecy http://www.commondreams.org/headline/2009/07/10-1

Law Will Let Afghan Husbands Starve Wives Who Withhold Sex http://www.commondreams.org/headline/2009/07/10-4

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FINAL WORD: “We’ve never done it with a baboon‘s heart!” Hector Elizondo, ER, 9-29-94

Robin the Old: One Brunch Only

 

Marijuana Papers

July 9, 2009
FIRST PAPER:
Choices.

Choices.

There are many terrible drug habits.  The worst is alcohol, in numbers of users and anti-social effect.  It is the leading cause of teenage deaths: 80,000 young Americans a year, 40,000 maimed from mixing drink and driving.  U.S. government/police statistics confirm the following:

–     100,000 alcohol-related deaths annually (compared with zero marijuana deaths in 10,000 years).

–     At least 40-50% of all murders and highway fatalities are alcohol-related.

–   Alcohol is indicated in 69-80% of all child/rape/incest and wife-beating cases.

–     Heroin is indicated in 35% of burglaries, armed robberies, grand theft auto, etc.

–     The FBI reported over 600,000 arrests for simple marijuana possession in 1997.

Approximately 50% of all drug enforcement money, federal and state, for the last 60 years has been directed toward marijuana!  70-80% of all people now in prison would NOT have been there 60 years ago.  In cultivated ignorance and prejudice we put 800,000 of 1.2 million people in jail (1998 – not including county jails) for a minor habit.  80% of them were not dealing.  In 1978 there were 300,000 people in jail for all crimes combined.

After wide cultivation for 10,000 years, marijuana was outlawed in America in 1937.  Was it because it threatened public health – or certain business interests?  Hemp (cannabis sativa) is one of the most useful plants known to man.  Its fibers make rope, sails, shirts, paper; it provides clean lighting and lubricating oils, animal feed, and is safely used in medicines.

What happened?  In the 1920’s and ‘30s, Americans became concerned about drug addiction – especially morphine and a Bayer Company “miracle drug” called “heroin.”  Most Americans didn’t know smoking hemp was intoxicating until William Randolph Hearst began a sensational campaign linking “killer weed” to jazz musicians, “crazed minorities,” and “unspeakable crimes.”  His newspapers featured headlines like:

  • MARIJUANA MAKES FIENDS OF BOYS IN 30 DAYS: HASHEESH [sic] GOADS USERS TO BLOOD-LUST

Not all shared their view.  The U.S. Siler Commission studied marijuana smoking by off-duty servicemen, found no lasting effects, and recommended NO criminal penalties apply to it.

But, the anti-hemp campaign had results.  By 1931, after two years of secret hearings Congress passed the Marijuana Tax Act.  Unsure if it was constitutional to ban it outright, they taxed the plant prohibitively instead.  Growers had to register; sellers and buyers were buried in paperwork; noncompliance was a federal crime.  The tax was $100 an ounce (“legitimate” marijuana then sold for $2 a pound).  The Act ruined the legitimate industryMedical use was too expensive; doctors and pharmacists turned to chemically derived drugs.  Nonmedical uses were taxed to death and farmers stopped growing.  No brainer, it still grew wild all over the U.S.; its “illegitimate” use was little affected by Congress.

Going on four generations now, propaganda and lies have relentlessly drained taxpayer’s money to build government’s anti-drug machine and the conditions of a police state.  Virtually every state is in the midst of the biggest prison expansion ever in America’s and the world’s history, creating political vultures only concerned for the growth of their prison-related crime-fighting industry and job security.  They demand more prisons and more money to pursue this “law and order” madness against an invented crime.

We can moderate society’s problems and reject the police state by simply legalizing marijuana.  We can clear the jails, and re-employ police, court, prison and rehabilitation staff to deal with real crime and hard drug abuse.  We can put money into our schools and health care without raising anyone’s taxes.  We can also stop lying to ourselves, and end a terrible multi-generational injustice.  Let’s just say “no” to these anti-marijuana bozos.               jl, Portland, 6-05

Just Say Now (Willamette Week article on present efforts to legalize marijuana:

http://www.wweek.com/editorial/3535/12786/

Jack Herer (pronounced as in “terror”).  Everything you ever wanted to know about hemp, fully documented:

http://www.jackherer.com/

SECOND PAPER:

Fresh moral dilemma in every bite!

NAMING NAMES:
Was it a conspiracy?  Was a viable industry ruined because it threatened public health, or because a few large businesses would profit from banning it?  Hemp was outlawed in 1937 just as new technology that processed it faster, producing higher-quality fiber with less cost and environmental damage than wood-based pulp, was invented.  Hemp would have undercut competing products overnight.  Popular Mechanics predicted that it would become America’s first “billion-dollar crop.  …10,000 acres devoted to hemp will produce as much paper as 40,000 acres of average [forest] pulp land.”

William Randolph Hearst had a vested interest in protecting the pulp industry.  He owned enormous timber acreage and hemp could put his paper-manufacturing division out of business and ruin his land value.  He slanted the news to protect his investments.  He led a yellow journalism campaign to outlaw hemp.  As example, a car accident in which marijuana was found dominated the headlines for weeks, while alcohol-related accidents (outnumbering marijuana over 1,000 to one) made the back pages.  Hearst popularized the word “marijuana” to introduce fear of the unknown to create a useable hysteria.

The Du Pont Company also had pulp industry interests, patenting a new process for wood-pulp paper.  Their own records show wood-pulp products as over 80% of all their railroad car holdings for the next 50 years.  Du Pont was also drastically changing its business strategy.  Primarily a military explosives maker, they realized after World War I that peacetime uses for artificial fibers and plastics would be more profitable.

Du Pont poured millions of dollars into research to create synthetics like rayon and nylon.  Two years before the Marijuana Tax Act outlawing hemp, they developed a substitute for hemp rope.  The year after the tax, they brought rayon out in direct competition with hemp cloth.  Du Pont assured Congress in secret testimony that they could make synthetic petrochemical oils to replace hemp oil.  The millions spent on research, and hundreds of millions in expected profits would be wiped out if newly affordable hemp products hit the market.  So, Du Pont worked with Hearst to eliminate hemp.

 Du Pont’s point man was Harry J. Anslinger, commissioner of the new Federal Bureau of Narcotics (FBN) (out to make it big like FBI’s Hoover).  He was appointed by Treasury Secretary Andrew Mellon, chairman of Mellon Bank, Du Pont’s chief financial backer, and Anslinger’s wife’s uncle.  Anslinger used his clout to sway congress.  When the American Medical Association (AMA) argued for hemp’s medical benefits, Anslinger led the entire congressional committee to denounce and dismiss them.

Five years after the tax was imposed, the government reversed itself when the Japanese seized Philippine hemp, causing a wartime rope shortage.  Overnight, they urged hemp cultivation and made a movie, “Hemp for Victory” – then, just as fast, recriminalized hemp after the shortage passed.  While it was legal, it saved the life of a young pilot named George H.W. Bush, who didn’t know when he bailed out of his plane that:

–     Parts of his aircraft were lubricated with hemp oil.

–     100% of his parachute webbing was U.S. grown cannabis hemp.

–     All the rigging, ropes and fire hoses of his rescue ship were hemp.

President G.H.W. Bush opposed decriminalizing hemp grown in the U. S.

Does the hemp conspiracy continue?  Doctors can’t prescribe marijuana for patients as medication for chronic pain, although one judge found, “the record clearly shows that marijuana has been accepted as capable of relieving the distress of great numbers of very ill people and doing so with safety under medical supervision.”

The Anti-Drug Industry continues its ruthless disregard for truth, mercy, and facts.  The evidence of marijuana’s benign nature is fully documented.  Propaganda and greed fuel the anti-marijuana crowd, not facts or justice.

Just Say Now (Willamette Week article on present efforts to legalize marijuana:

http://www.wweek.com/editorial/3535/12786/

Jack Herer (pronounced as in “terror”).  Everything you ever wanted to know about hemp, fully documented, with authenticated  copies of original materials:

http://www.jackherer.com/

“They lie about marijuana. Tell you pot-smoking makes you unmotivated. Lie! When you’re high, you can do everything you normally do, just as well. You just realize that it’s not worth the fucking effort. There is a difference.” – Bill Hicks.  

Jack Herer (pronounced as in “terror”).  Everything you ever wanted to know about hemp, fully documented:

http://www.jackherer.com/

FatLemon Gallery:

July 8, 2009

www.zazzle.com/fatlemon/

Check the FatLemon Skate Shop.

Check the FatLemon Skate Shop.

www.zazzle.com/fatlemon/gifts?cg=196150675538843241/

ENVIRONMENT-POPULATION JUMBOPAK

July 6, 2009
Rising Tide.

Rising Tide.

Today’s post is a letter submitted to the Editor of Willamette Week in Portland, Oregon, January 21, 1999 – a time capsule from the last millennium.  It reveals how far we have come in such a short time.  Ya think?

Dear Editor: 

On the eve of the Year 2000 there is no doubt that environmental alarms are well founded.

The front page of the Friday, July 25, 1997 Oregonian announced, “Scientist delivers warning on climate.”  President Clinton launched a “nationwide campaign about the issue, saying the ‘overwhelming balance of evidence and scientific opinion is that it is no longer a theory but now a fact that global warming is real.”  Complete with “rising sea levels and glacial melting.”

Seen from outer space, poor, old Earth has mangeDeserts replace forests and lumber interests tell us they must cut more trees to keep the economy alive and loggers’ jobs; we must “balance” economy and environment; but it’s easy to see who’s got the biscuit.  In truth, the lumber interests eliminated jobs by automating destruction of the forests.  Industry ‘experts’ know that fact is disposable to theory.  They tell us that ‘careful management‘ will replace Old Growth; timber company t.v. ads show vast green stretches of pristine managed forest.  What we should know is what do all of the forests managed by all of the timber companies look like in aggregate?

Taken in cumulated terms, the timber companies are working against posterity around the world.  In fact the Old Growth forests are almost gone in Oregon and California as well as in Brazil.  The last clear-cut rape of all the Old Growth left will not save the logger’s lifestyle, but once the forest is gone, so goes the breathing apparatus for the entire planet.

In 1994, the Smithsonian‘s Wilson Quarterly stated, “Some of the environmental changes may produce irreversible damage to the Earth’s capacity to sustain life.”  The island of Tobago in the Caribbean is being inundated by 3-4 feet per year (ten times faster than ten years ago) and is expected to lose 30-40 feet per year in the next ten.  “Science and technology may not be able to prevent either irreversible degradation of the environment or continued poverty for much of the world.”

Which brings up the appalling fact that many cities are developing public housing in floodplains.  It may be just in time for property developers to cash in before the land goes under.  Will we, the dense public, be invited to bail out subsequently sinking subsidized housing?  Will we eventually build seawalls thirty feet high at public expense to protect uninsurable money pits?

As to population, experts predict twice as many people in the United States by the year 2050.  More babies are being born today than during the so-called “Baby-Boomer” generation and we ain’t seen nuthin’ yet!  The ridiculous taboos around the issue of human population – usually “politically correct” arguments of small practical value – are a direct threat to our own dear, precious, misdirected, unthinking selves.  We’re breeding ourselves out of room.

Our planet has a limit to the life it can sustain.  It must function within a specific and fairly narrow range of environmental limits. In this constraint, the majority of Americans trashes rather than recycles, and eats, drinks and drives too damned much, ignorant of context, and in absolute poverty of conclusion.

No brainer: unchecked growth demands greater and greater amounts of shrinking resources.  The scale of many of our dilemmas – e.g. public health and housing – is attributable to too many people competing for too few resources in too small a space.  It would seem, therefore, that some education and some action on this issue might be in order.  Yet, religious institutions militantly urge membership to procreate, and sponsor armies of child-producing sectarian immigrantsBusiness leadership focuses on lower wages, larger markets and plentiful cheap labor.  Timorous local, state and federal elected leaders bicker over tax-funded population education, and resist tax-funded birth prevention.  We argue over sex education, birth control, and abortion while our overcrowded house burns down.

However, the nation has embarked on the biggest prison-building program in its history, even as the hard crime rate falls.  This may be due to “effective community policing,” but it is also systematic suppression of a youthful surplus male underclass without family wage jobs.  Statistically, economic development largely benefits a relatively small group of players: three-fourths of the people grin and bear eroding livability, falling wages and rising prices in a rat race fueled by non-productive speculation.  We have, created whole new crimes – e.g. “simple” marijuana possession – and longer “minimum” sentences to keep our disaffected unemployed off our city streets.

For many leaders, there is no apparent alternative.  Most business, elected and mainstream media leadership extols an almost mystical faith in “growth,” pursuing mythical future taxes that can never catch up with the infrastructure stresses the growth produces – particularly as corporately manipulated voters cut off tax money via “popular” ballot initiatives.

In 1956, C. Wright Mills wrote in the Power Elite: 

“Two things are needed in a democracy: articulate and knowledgeable publics, and political leaders who, if not men of reason, are at least reasonably responsible to such knowledgeable publics as exist.  Such a public and such leaders – either of power or of knowledge – do not now prevail, and knowledge does not now have democratic relevance in America.”

The rich are generally blind or indifferent to the social consequences of ignoring the welfare of the general citizenry.  In the end, we all pay for their selfish indifference.  If we, the people don’t get smart pretty quickly, we, the people will perish much sooner than expected, and NOT due to any particular plan, but simply because of plain old human selfishness and self-deception.

The time for each one to teach one, each one to reach one, is NOW.

 July 6, 2009:

 Act.  There may be no result in your lifetime, but without action, there will be no result at all.” – Mahatma Gandhi.

 

Light at the End of the Tunnel.
Light at the End of the Tunnel.

INVOLVED AND INFORMED (essential links):

http://www.wunderground.com/

Weather Underground is committed to delivering the most reliable, accurate weather information possible. Our state-of-the-art technology monitors conditions and forecasts for locations across the world, so you’ll always find the weather information that you need.

http://www.newseum.org/todaysfrontpages/

The Newseum displays these daily newspaper front pages in their original, unedited form. Some front pages may contain material that is objectionable to some visitors. Viewer discretion is advised.

http://www.poodwaddle.com/worldclock.swf

World Clock: time, and real-time statistics: population, death, illness, environment, energy, us crimes, food, more.

http://www.nrdc.org/

The Natural Resources Defense Council works to protect wildlife and wild places and to ensure a healthy environment for all life on earth.

http://www.sierraclub.org/

Since 1892, the Sierra Club has been working to protect communities, wild places, and the planet itself. We are the oldest, largest, and most influential grassroots environmental organization in the United States.

http://www.wecansolveit.org/

WE are 2,313, 499 people determined to Solve the Climate Crisis and Repower America with 100% clean electricity within 10 years.”  The We Campaign is a project of The Alliance for Climate Protection — a nonprofit, nonpartisan effort founded by Nobel laureate and former Vice President Al Gore.  The goal of the Alliance is to build a movement that creates the political will to solve the climate crisis — in part through repowering America with 100 percent of its electricity from clean energy sources within 10 years.  Our economy, national security, and climate can’t afford to wait.

http://www.defenders.org/index.php

Founded in 1947, Defenders of Wildlife is one of the country’s leaders in science-based, results-oriented wildlife conservation. We stand out in our commitment to saving imperiled wildlife and championing the Endangered Species Act, the landmark law that protects them.

Don’t Ask Polar Bears and Fools About Free Speech

July 2, 2009
Five in the Stones

Five in the Stones

DON’T ASK, DON’T TELL

When I was in active military service, 1966-70, I did not care about the sexuality of the person beside me, I cared about his professionalism.

 The military’s “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” policy is discrimination pure and simple. It is an unnecessary, non-job related issue, and a blatant labor and civil rights disgrace. 

 It not only destroys the lives of the men and women directly affected, but also the military’s organizational unity.  It is a morale downer, a Salem Witch Hunt mentality introduced into the ranks. 

 The largely fundamentalist religiously inspired objection to gays is based upon misinformation (an actual and purposeful misreading of their own texts), a scapegoat us vs. them mindset, and an absolutist morality used generally as one more self-terrorizing control over the fearful toiling faithful. 

 If America is to ever achieve equality, freedom, and justice, we must strike down “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell.”  Strike a blow for human rights and humanity.  We are either all Americans working in defense of our country and its ideals, or we are a nation of strangers, fighting for the barest survival. 7-02-09

POLAR BEARS AND CUB SCOUTS

 Woe is me!  Everything is going to hell in a hand basket!  We can’t do anything about it!  Wring hands!  Cry despair!  Weep!  Moan!  Thrash!  Have you gotten out of your SUVs?  Moved closer to work?  Convinced others of the need to ACT and quit bitching?  Is it the price of gas that bothers you, or the lack of it?  Would you quit hitting yourself over the head with the hammer, or go get another one if someone took yours away?  The time to ACT is now, and to hell with the system.  Do you need a leader to tell you not to put your damned finger in the light socket?  Too bad revelation comes so late to this benighted species.  Is it the wall of water rushing at you that scares you, or the fact that you were too dumb to notice it until the rising tide was at your doorstep?  Our over-consuming must stop at once.  Each of us has a part in that, regardless of what leadership, or the imbecile next door is doing.  Get off your butts and MOVE.  Or, don’t.  The future belongs – collectively – to all of us, if we all work for it.  It doesn’t exist for polar bears, or cub scouts, if we don’t. 6-22-08

FOOLS AND CORPORATIONS

 Today’s privately monopolized television serves rightwing corporatists by dumbing down the American people.  There is no choice, just program packages arranged like blood diamonds.  In television, the garbage includes:

  •  Religious programming – Christians only need apply.  They’re getting ready for Armageddon, 24-7.  Why do we have to pay to watch them?
  • “Ain’t corporations great?” propaganda, not one cloud on the big rig’s sky.  Not one word about how they changed the weather.
  • “Reality” shows, which are evidently scripted.  One can get just as excited at a professional wrestling match or roller derby – for as little cause.
  • “Beauty and fitness” programming – Americans care so very much about hair and blemishes.  Coach looks fifty years younger, hey?  Just a dab.
  • Right wing filtered news, commentary and opinion, which screams down the truth in favor of dogma and self-interest.  To hell with integrity.
  • Sports, improbably including auto/truck/motorcycle noise-making and gas-fuming circle-go-rounds – another loophole in EPA emission standards?  For those of us who left games at adolescence, it’s a real drag.
  • Shopping channels and infomercials feeding the callous over-consuming malaise destroying our planet.  There are addicts of all kinds.
  • Commercials – non-stop and multiplying.  Why do we have to pay for these?  The damned television people should be paying us to watch them!

Real history, especially recent U.S. history, is slighted, under-reported, and often misrepresented, or ideologically slanted.  We discuss firefights on entering Baghdad, but not the illegal policy and the criminal lies that drove them.  We see Troy and Rome, and incessant searches for objects of pseudo-history and outright myth – lost arks (boat-sized and box), spears of Longinus, grails and virgins, “true” crosses, and “god-ravaged” city ruins.  We don’t see labor history, women’s history, or civil and human rights history.  We don’t review Iran-Contra and the early days of the present administration’s emergence from the Reaganite distortion of our national progress.  Everything from Carter to Bush Jr., except for Clinton’s tacky sex life, is a black hole of non-accountability.

 This is all part of the Great Privatization of America.  “Do good and be rewarded” is Christian and Rightist hypocrisy.  They don’t do the right thing selflessly, but for a substantial bribe.  We are fools to allow corporations to determine our national information policy, control our public airways, own our means of communications.  We are fools to allow them to continue to distort our national consciousness, or to interfere with our right to meet and discuss and decide as a unified national community.  We are fools to allow them to keep us ignorant and apart.  3-09-08

FREE SCHOOLS, FREE LIBRARIES, FREE SPEECH

  Radio and television station owners should be held accountable in their charge to serve the public interest.  Instead, the right wing has been systematic in its suppression of the progressive voice and we ignore their censorship at our peril.

 The right wing has overwhelmed any residual of the “Fairness Doctrine.”  They have done so with free licenses granted by the American government on behalf of the American public that are worth millions of dollars to licensees.  The only requirement imposed upon them is to serve the public interest.

 A free and democratic society cannot survive without a free and fair flow of information.  All ideas should take their chances in the sea of democratic pluralistic debate.  It is an abomination to a free and equal society to tolerate any, most definitely including private, abridgement, censorship, or exclusion of fair and balanced opposing views.

 Right-wingers have taken over radio and television resources and foreclosed progressive voices on a systematic and pervasive level throughout the United States.  No progressive voices can now be heard in Boston, Baltimore, Atlanta, Washington D.C., or Philadelphia – in the heart of revolutionary America the cracked pots have replaced the cracked bell.  It is a deliberate creeping plague designed to manipulate American public opinion to undemocratic ends; it must be treated or it will kill free speech.

 President Obama’s inspired effort to reinvigorate American democracy will amount to a pimple on the butt of national history if the right wing is allowed to continue its assault on our democratic institutions. We can bear no more “fixed” news, no more right wing press dominance!  Let progressives fairly compete for the public interest. 

 There is no more important infrastructure repair for us to make than to preserve, defend and advance the democratic institutions that make America great: free schools, free libraries, free press, and freedom of speech.  3-08-09

 More PROGRESSIVE THOUGHT: sidebar links