Tuesday, October 31, 2006

Global warming could cause economic depression, report warns

As a Green, I am extremely concerned about global warming. Finally, even conservatives are beginning to acknowledge the current reality of global warming and what this could mean for rising ocean levels. Our local Pacifica Radio station, WPFW, was discussing new findings today. And then I ran across the following article. Signing onto the Kyoto Protocols should be just the first step for our government.

By William Neikirk

Chicago Tribune

(MCT)

WASHINGTON - Left unchecked, global warming could drive the world economy into a depression similar to the devastating downturn of the 1930s, the British government said Monday in a report that appeared designed to influence politics in the United States.

The report, written by Nicholas Stern, head of the British Government Economic Service and a former World Bank economist, said the environmental cost of global warming could range between 5 percent and 20 percent of the world's gross domestic product, or total annual economic output, after 2050.

British Prime Minister Tony Blair, who has sought to persuade President Bush to take a more aggressive stance in tackling global warming, hired former Vice President Al Gore on Monday to advise his government on climate change - an action that could be considered a political shot across the bow. Gore, who has warned of the dangers of global warming for years, is one of Bush's sharpest critics on the environment.

Blair told reporters in London the report called for "bold and decisive action" and "demolished the last remaining argument for inaction in the face of climate change."

Supporters of proposals to reduce "greenhouse gas" emissions, as called for in an international agreement in Kyoto, Japan, in the 1990s, hailed the report for putting global warming in an economic context, and added that this could help change U.S. policy. Bush has refused to sign the Kyoto treaty because of the economic impact it would have on the U.S.

The report said the world could avoid drastic economic and environmental consequences by acting as soon as possible to cut industrial emissions that contribute to global warming. Bringing these emissions under control would cost the equivalent of 1 percent of annual economic output by 2050, the report said. That is a relatively modest cost to avoid a possible catastrophe, environmental groups said.

But critics said the Stern report is flawed. Jerry Taylor, an economist at the Cato Institute, a libertarian think tank, said it exaggerates the economic costs and the extent of global warming that would occur if allowed to go unabated. Previous global warming studies have shown relative modest economic impacts on the world, he said.

While Bush opposes the Kyoto treaty, he has proposed new "clean" energy initiatives that he said would reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 18 percent by 2012. These include clean coal technology and expansion of alternative energy sources.

Kristen Hellmer, spokeswoman for the White House Council on Environmental Quality, said in a statement that "the president has long recognized that climate change is a serious issue, and he has committed the U.S. to advancing and investing in the new technologies to help address this problem."

As for Gore's hiring, she said, "the U.K. can hire whomever they want."

Many Republicans think that Bush hasn't gone far enough. Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., teaming with Sen. Joseph Lieberman, D-Conn., has proposed bipartisan legislation that would cap greenhouse gas emissions in the utility, transportation, industrial and commercial sectors. Sen. Olympia Snowe, R-Maine, and Sen. John Kerry, D-Mass., have sponsored similar legislation.

Alden Meyer, director of strategy and policy at the Union of Concerned Scientists, said he doubted that Bush would support either the Kyoto treaty or legislation that would require reduction of emissions. But he added that he believes the next president would sign on to an emissions-reduction program to cut global warming.

"The Stern report exposes the bankruptcy of the arguments of President Bush and some in Congress and industry that taking action on global warming will hurt the economy," Meyer added.

But Cato's Taylor said the report appeared to overstate the extent of global warming that would result if nothing were done to check it. The new British report estimates that, at current trends, global average temperatures would increase by 3.6 degrees to 5.4 degrees over the next 50 years. That's roughly double the amount of warming projected in other studies, Taylor said.

But if global temperatures should rise by such an amount, the report said, glaciers would melt and sea levels would rise. There would be drinking water shortages, widespread malnutrition and outbreaks of malaria and dengue fever. Such major cities as New York, London and Tokyo could be hit with flooding.

The report praised efforts by California and other states. Blair signed an agreement earlier this year with California Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger to develop technologies to address climate change. Last month, the governor signed a measure imposing an emissions cap on utilities, refineries and manufacturing facilities.

Sunday, October 29, 2006

My opinion of "Death of a President"


I went last night with a couple good friends to see "Death of a President," one a frequent co-protestor and the other a very long-time friend and fellow native of D.C. We celebrated my birthday at a very good Chinese restaurant in the now rapidly dwindling Chinatown before we headed for Landmark's E Street Cinema. This is a great theater with a lot of very good independent and foreign films. It is also the only theater in the D.C. area to show this controversial film.

The acting is kind of mediocre, as I was unimpressed and couldn't suspend disbelief while watching the supposed heartfelt reflections of a Chicago police officer, an FBI agent, a Secret Service agent and President Bush's speechwriter on the infamous day of October 19, 2007. That's the day President Bush is assassinated. The actual shooting, in the lobby of a downtown Chicago hotel was kind of unexciting, and although the outcome of discovering who was indeed the assassin was unsurprising -- it was still disturbing. Despite the poor acting and somewhat predictable plot -- there are powerful moments.

However, I was annoyed by the way it portrayed the extremely rowdy and somewhat violent protestors on the streets of Chicago. This again reaffirmed in my mind why it is important for us to remain nonviolent in our resistance to this illegal and immoral war and the expression of dissent to the "war on terror" and the suspension of many of our civil liberties. I bet World Can't Wait/Revolutionary Communist Party will both be annoyed and perversely glad that their name was mentioned as one of the more extreme protest groups, along with pro-choicers and "nutty" environmentalists.

What is the scarriest thing about this movie is President Cheney and the quickening dissent into fascism. It honestly discusses the extreme unpopularity of the war and occupation of Iraq and the many human costs of the war, as well as racism and the disturbing belief Bush and many of his cronies have that he has somehow been selected by God.

Overall, it is worth going to watch. Not a great film, but a decent look at contemporary America and the frightening direction we are heading.

Wednesday, October 11, 2006

This Tuesday we act when Bush signs the Military Commissions Act of 2006

Please join The Washington Region Religious Campaign Against Torture (WRRCAT) on Tuesday October 17, at 9:00 am in front of the White House to demonstrate our profound opposition to the "Military Commissions Act." DAWN and Montgomery
County Peace Action have endorsed this action, as well as others.

President Bush is expected to sign the bill into law during a ceremony at the White House. The law would fundamentally change American interpretation of the Geneva Conventions. We'd like to have a sizable number outside of the White House to convey to the American public that there are still some Americans who support Common Article 3, of the Geneva Convention that prohibits "cruel," "humiliating" and "degrading treatment" and "outrages upon personal dignity." President Bush and the US Congress contend that this language is vague. The President claims it doesn't give "clear" guidance about what is
permitted and what is prohibited during interrogations. Common Article 3 has served humanity since 1950.

The Military Commissions Act repeals much of the law enforcing the Geneva Conventions. The law also retroactively absolves administration officials of legal responsibility for past war crimes.

Prisoners will be denied the right to challenge their captivity in court. This is pretty basic stuff that predates the Magna Carta of 1215. The Chimes of Freedom are dumb struck. Please join us.

There has been no official announcement from the White House regarding this signing ceremony, although unofficial sources point to an October 17th signing. Please check the WRRCAT Web site, www.wrrcat.org for more information.

And for some analysis on this bill:
Commentary on The Military Commissions Act

Monday, October 09, 2006

On being a Green and searching for a new job

I have begun my search for a job, which will have some meaning for me and will hopefully be personally rewarding. A good part of this afternoon, I will spend working on my resume and checking out a bunch of different progressive non-profit organizations on the Web.

Here are a few I am very interested in:
Peace Action
U.S. Public Interest Research Group
Friends Committee on National Legislation
Public Citizen

Regarding USPIRG, I noticed one of their canvasers today outside of my work. If you see these young guys and gals around town, talk to them. Sign their petition, offer to buy them lunch. They are doing some great work, and the work is very demanding! Here are some of the important environmental campaigns they have taken on right now:
USPIRG Campaigns

I guess the environment is something I have not yet taken on in my blog. Of course the earth is our home, and there's more all of us could do. I do make my best attempts to buy only recycled paper products. I am the only one in my house who tries to recycle as much as we possibly can. It is a little disheartening to see so many people in the area who don't recycle at all! This care for the environment and concern for the earth's future are central to being a Green in my opinion.

Wednesday, October 04, 2006

Update on Rumsfeld 4 and further reflections on 9/26 and 9/27

On Tuesday Mari Blome, Katie Heald, David Barrows and I appeared in court in regarding the unlwaful entry charge stemming from the May 18th Rumsfeld protest. We were prepared to go to trial, which will be a jury trial since the maximum sentence is six months in prison. However, the matter has been postponed until November 6th. I am not very hopeful of getting much media attention, as this is the day before the election.

Mari (Tobi) and Katie are associated with Code Pink. David and I are with the D.C. Anti-War Network (DAWN). We continue to be enthusiastic about arguing our first amendment rights before a jury of our peers.

One supporter joining us in the court house was the brave Eve Tetaz, an over-70 local peace activist who was also with us on 9/26 and 9/27. On 9/26 (the Senate side action) Eve was knocked to the ground by aggressive Capitol Hill Police and recieved a large bump to her head before being arrested. The very next day (the House side action) she chose to risk arrest, and was therefore held overnight. Two Catholic priests, Louis Vitale and Jerry (?), were also arrested both days and held over night the second time. These three individuals are some of the most brave and committed people I have the pleasure of knowing within the peace movement.

Sunday, October 01, 2006

Two Days of Resistance


On September 26th and 27th, two wonderful coalitions came together on Capitol Hill to express nonviolently their outrage over the war and occupationof Iraq. On Tuesday 71 people were arrested in three different locations focusing on the Senate. On Wednesday 26 people were arrested in front of the House Rayburn office building, and soon after three women were arrested in the House gallery during a debate over a bill which will now gradually scale back habeas corpus, the guiding light of our judicial system.

Both days got scant media coverage, but both the National Campaign of Nonviolent Resistance and the Declaration of Peace became stronger and are already contemplating future actions.

I was arrested among the second group on Tuesday, as we blocked one entrance to the Russell Senate Office Building. Before us, a group mostly from Baltimore were arrested as they tried to bring a coffin with pictures of the war dead to the West Lawn of the Capitol. After us, about 40 were arrested inside the Hart Senate Office Building.

Below is a report from CNN. I won't bother with The Washington Post article as it wasn't exactly accurate nor fair.

Peaceful Iraq war protests prompt 71 arrests
From Lisa Goddard
CNN

WASHINGTON (CNN) -- Two Presbyterian ministers were among 71 people arrested during a series of peaceful protests against the Iraq war Tuesday, said a spokeswoman for a group participating in the protests.

Demonstrators held sit-ins, prayer services and sing-alongs at four locations in the Capitol complex, including the central atrium of the Senate Hart Office Building.

The demonstrations were reminiscent of the Vietnam era, with protesters strumming guitars, singing peace songs, holding flowers and wearing hats made of balloons. (Watch war protesters face the music -- 1:28)

Senate staffers watched the demonstrators from their offices. Protesters said that several workers gave them a thumbs-up or other signs of approval. (Watch how the protests are part of a highly charged day in Washington -- 2:23external link)

"We are trying to protest a lack of civil liberties and to try and end a war culture," said protester Alex Bryan of New York.

Thirty-three of those arrested were charged with unlawful conduct inside the Hart Building, said Sgt. Kimberly Schneider of the Capitol Police.

Thirty-eight more demonstrators were arrested at separate protests near the Capitol, she said. Of those, 23 were charged with crossing a police line and 15 were charged with demonstrating without a permit.

All of those arrested were cooperative with police, Schneider said.

The National Campaign for Nonviolent Resistance, which has organized dozens of anti-war protests around the country, coordinated Tuesday's effort, which included several religious and secular groups.

Among those arrested during the demonstrations were two Presbyterian ministers, a Catholic activist and a member of a Quaker group, said Jennifer Kuiper, spokeswoman for The Declaration of Peace, one of the groups participating in the protests.

Both groups apparently expected participants to be arrested. On a notice posted at The Declaration of Peace Web site, the protests are described as an "interfaith religious procession around the Capitol, followed by peace presence and nonviolent resistance, including risking arrest at the U.S. Senate."

The National Campaign for Nonviolent Resistance Web site adds, "Those willing to engage in nonviolent acts of civil resistance against the war and occupation are encouraged to join us. We also enthusiastically call upon those who cannot risk arrest, but who are willing to support those who do."

Despite a rising tide of war opposition, the protesters said they represent no party or political movement.

Baptist minister Jamie Washam of Wisconsin, who led an interfaith service during the protests, said she is adamantly opposed to the war.

"My congregation wants peace," she said. "And I think it's an offense to God."

Tuesday's events in Washington were part of 375 protests and other activities being held around the country this week in opposition to the war, according to The Declaration of Peace.

There were hundreds of arrests in a protest organized by the National Campaign for Nonviolent Resistance a year ago. On September 26, 2005, 371 people were arrested during the "Resist and Remember" protest in Washington, one of the organization's founders, Gordon Clark, wrote in an online article.