Posts Tagged ‘environmental’

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!

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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/

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.