Archive for April, 2006


Three (more) cheers for impeachment!

Monday, April 24th, 2006

TalkLeft is keeping track of what’s up.

Three (more) cheers for Diane!

Monday, April 24th, 2006

Alternet helped celebrate Earth Day by inviting readers to nominate grassroots environmental heroes. (They were inspired to do so in reaction to Vanity Fair‘s “green” issue which focused exclusively on the rich and famous in the environmental movement. Well, it is Vanity Fair after all.)

Lo and behold, among all the many terrific people nominated and the handfull chosen by Alternet to profile, there’s Diane. It shouldn’t be a surprise, since she is definitely heroic, but it is a great pleasure to see her recognized.

[Margo asked a good question: why are so many of those profiled women? Yo, menfolk, outta yer SUVs! The world needs your calm, patient, dedicated, long-term energies.]

Chelsea Green Selected New England Publisher of the Year

Saturday, April 22nd, 2006

For Immediate Release
Contact: Jessica Saturley, (802) 295-6300, ext. 106

The New England Booksellers Association, representing 400 independent bookstores in New England and New York, announces the 2005 winners of the New England Book Awards: Chelsea Green for Publishing; Marc Simont for Children’s; Jane Brox for Non-fiction; William Martin for Fiction .

Presented annually, the New England Book Awards were established in 1990 to recognize New England authors and publishers who have produced a body of work that stands as a significant contribution to the region’s literature. Each author award is accompanied by a $500 grant from NEBA to a literacy organization chosen by the winner.

The awards presentation takes place from Noon to 2:30 pm on Friday September 16 at the “Awards Luncheon” during the New England Booksellers Association Trade Show at The Rhode Island Convention Center in Providence, Rhode Island.

Founded in 1984 by Ian and Margo Baldwin, Chelsea Green Publishing is regarded as the preeminent publisher of books on sustainable living, with well over 200 titles in print. In 2003 the company began to reorient its editorial mission to reflect what Arundhati Roy calls, “Not the politics of governance, but the politics of resistance. The politics of opposition. The politics of forcing accountability. The politics of slowing things down. The politics of joining hands across the world and preventing certain destruction.” It is the new, vibrant politics of sustainable living.

Chelsea Green states that “our aim is to publish hard-hitting works by major writers, thinkers, and activists exposing the global governmental and corporate assault on life. We seek to promote better understanding of natural systems as a global commons. We seek to empower citizens to participate in reclaiming the commons, to serve as its effective stewards, and to help mitigate worldwide social and environmental disruptions.”

Chelsea Green thus sees publishing as a tool for effecting cultural change. While continuing its 20-year commitment to remain at the forefront of information about green building, organic growing, and renewable energy — —the practical aspects of sustainability— — Chelsea Green is also publishing with a heightened sense of urgency for a new politics of sustainability, for the cultural resistance that living demands of us now.

“Given what’s going on in the world today,” Chelsea Green believes “it has never been more important that the oppositional voices of independent publishers be preserved. The consolidation of mainstream media into ever more gigantic entertainment empires threatens the essence of democratic debate and freedom of expression.”

The New England Book Award winners are selected by the NEBA Awards Committee: Chair Linda Ramsdell, Galaxy Bookshop, Hardwick, VT; Rondi Brower, Blackwood and Brouwer Booksellers, Kinderhook, NY; Sue Little, Jabberwocky Bookshop and Café, Newburyport, MA; Neil Novik, Odyssey Bookshop, South Hadley, MA; Willard Williams, Toadstool Bookshop, Peterborough, NH.

Is the honeymoon over?

Friday, April 21st, 2006

This internet thing has been fun and liberating in many ways, but if net neutrality isn’t preserved, the party will be over. To the barricades!

Then what?

Friday, April 21st, 2006

Iran: The Day After
by Phyllis Bennis

The airwaves and the headlines are full of talk of a U.S. military strike against Iran. That is as it should be – the danger of such a reckless move is real, and rising, and we should be talking about it. The Bush administration claims that negotiations are their first choice. But they have gone to war based on lies before, and there is no reason to believe that they are telling the truth this time.

They have put the military – and even, horrifyingly, the nuclear – option at the center of the table. Don’t worry, they say, even if a preventive military strike is needed, we’re only talking about “surgical” attacks on Iran’s nuclear facilities – no one, they say, is talking about invasion. It can’t happen, some say. The military brass knows their troops are bogged down in Iraq and Afghanistan, they appear to be strongly opposed to a strike on Iran.

We know all that. But what if the Bush administration orders it anyway? What if they DO carry out just such a strike, nuclear or otherwise? Then what? What happens the day after?…

Yes, what happens then? In Nepal, the citizens are prepared to give their all for democracy. In France, the youth and their allies don’t give up their demands for a more humane economy. In the U.S., what will we do? Another one-day protest followed by years of hand-wringing?

I know someone who was involved in the anti-Vietnam era activism who said that back then he and all his friends had guns, and they were all agreed that if the U.S. ever dropped a nuclear bomb on Vietnam, they would get in their cars and head for Washington, DC, to try to overthrow the government. They knew their efforts would be defeated, but nuclear war was just too much to stand. Well, I don’t have a gun and have no plans on getting one, but it just makes me wonder. If the U.S. drops a nuke on Iran, that will mean that our government is as sick as Saddam Hussein’s ever was. On the holocaust scale, Bush Co. might not rate a full Nazi/Stalin/Imperial Japan 10, but they’d rate pretty durn high. As a wise man once said, “We will rid the world of the evil-doers.” Charity, my friends, begins at home.

The Greenest Generation

Friday, April 21st, 2006

Maybe Friedman will start promoting the Petrosabbath?

The New York Times
April 21, 2006
Op-Ed Columnist
The Greenest Generation
By THOMAS L. FRIEDMAN

I was visiting Williams College a few days ago and heard a student speaker there mention that at the end of the day, she had gone back to her dorm room to study and to “do it in the dark.”

Hey, I thought, I’m not a prude, but did she have to be so explicit — and in public, in front of parents no less?

Fortunately, I quickly discovered that “doing it in the dark” is not some new sexual escapade, but a new Williams energy-saving competition in honor of Earth Day. Student dorms, classrooms and campus buildings are pitted against one another to see who can save the most energy. Students are encouraged to turn off lights every time they leave a room, to unplug cellphone chargers when not in use, to take advantage of daylight to study or use precise task lighting at night (“Do it in the dark!”), and to change old light bulbs to compact fluorescents.

The Williams competition got me thinking. Why doesn’t every college make it a goal to become carbon-neutral — that is, reduce its net CO2 emissions to zero? This should be a national movement. After all, today’s students will be profoundly affected by climate change, the coming energy wars and the rising danger of petro-authoritarian states, such as Iran. Yet on most campuses, the whole energy-climate question still seems to be a student hobby, not a crusade.
(more…)

The who, the what, the where, and the why

Friday, April 21st, 2006

Our lead gate crashers seem to be having a great tour. The latest posting from Jerome describes a terrific sounding party at the home of Norman and Lyn Lear, stalwart progressives if ever there were such. One thing that I like about his post is that, while the basic message of CTG is how the Democratic party can regain power in national politics, it includes reminders of just why that matters. Yes, the party is far, far, far, far, far, far from perfect, and often not even all that close to mediocre, on important issues. But as Frances Fox Piven pointed out in The War at Home, progressives sure as $#*t aren’t going to make good progress with the Republicans in control. It’s one of those necessary/sufficient things: the Dems are necessary for better politics, but by themselves are not sufficient to guarantee them.

Anyway, Jerome is talking about global warming in this case and what I’m trying to get at is that while Jerome and Markos focus on strengthening the party qua a party, the reason they’re doing so is because they know that there are principles at stake that the Democratic party can help sustain, rather than watching them be undermined so fully by the Republicans.

Petrosabbath

Friday, April 21st, 2006

I ran into Tim Matson last night in Hanover and we talked briefly about my recent posting on the pros and cons of boycotting ExxonMobil. He mentioned an alternative boycott proposal he heard about while in upstate New York, the idea being to have one day a week (or a month, or whatever) during which we all aim to boycott all purchases of gasoline. (Diesel too, presumably.) (Except maybe biodiesel should be excepted? Nah… we don’t want to undermine solidarity.)

So we didn’t talk long about it, but the idea does sound good, and much more likely to have some kind of meaningful effect. After all, the forces of global warming (please excuse me for anthropomorphizing a little) could care less if the oil we burn carries one corporate logo or another. To paraphrase the first president Clinton, “it’s the CO2, stupid!” More burnt petroleum, more atmospheric CO2, more climate change.

But the short term economics are important too, and any sufficiently Intelligent Designer knows that the brains at petroleum HQ have intelligent designs on your wallet.

A selective boycott of one company won’t help with either case. Both are driven (would you think less of me if the pun were intended?) by the overall volume of consumption demand; and both problems can be alleviated by reducing consumption.

And so, for the first time (on this blog), and with thanks to Tim for the notion, I’d like to announce the Petrosabbath: once a week, we all take a rest from petroleum. Would it be possible to combine it with the traditional religious sabbath? For the Christians among us (Seventh Day Adventists, excepted), that’d make for Saturday, whoops, I mean Sunday (curses! my secret Jewish identity revealed!). It might be hard to do that way since so many churchgoers live beyond walking distance from their house of worship. So then maybe that does mean Saturday after all. Orthodox Jews are already on board with this one.

(I’d like to take a moment to mention that the reason frum Jews don’t drive on the sabbath is not, as the urban legends suggest, because a car is metaphorically like a work animal, which according to the rules you are not supposed to make work during the day of rest, but because you are not supposed to make a fire during the day of rest and there’s fire in the car’s engine.)

I’m focusing on the weekend options because at this point in time there’s just no way that any significant fraction of the population is going to be able to take a petrosabbath during the regular work week. A heck of a lot of us won’t be able to do it on the weekend either, since our increasingly low-wage economy has got so many people by the throat.

The beauty of this is that it also works hand in hand with the movement to simplify and slow down our overly hectic mega-modern lives.

That’s it. Spread the word. Petrosabbath: every Saturday from now on, no mopeds, cars, motorcycles, gas lawn mowers, gas weed wackers, gas snow blowers, buses, trains, power boats, or airplanes. If you think of others, add them to the list. Seriously, someone should print up some stickers or something, t-shirts, stuff like that. Like this

or this

Organize some petrosabbath Meetups, like maybe neighborhood meetups on the petrosabbath itself, whatever strikes your fancy. Keep at it until it works. Ideas welcome.

Yeah Maine, yeah Maine, yeah Maine

Thursday, April 20th, 2006

Gotta raise that floor, gotta get it up outta the basement:

Maine Poised to Become 5th State to Raise the Minimum Wage This Year

The Maine legislature approved LD 235, by Rep. John Tuttle, to increase the minimum wage from $6.50 to $6.75 on October 1, 2006 and to $7.00 on October 1, 2007. Gov. John Baldacci is expected to sign the bill. The minimum wage is on a roll in 2006 — so far it has been increased in Arkansas, Maryland, Michigan, Rhode Island, and now Maine. For more information, read CPA’s Minimum Wage policy brief and model legislation.

And what will be of Alaska?

Thursday, April 20th, 2006

That’s what the Alaska legislature wants to know.

Alaska House Addresses Global Warming

The Alaska House unanimously passed HCR 30, by Rep. Reggie Joule, which would create a commission on how to deal with the erosion, floods and thawing permafrost brought by global warming. The commission would conduct eight hearings around the state and deliver a preliminary report of its findings by next March. A final report and recommendations would be due Jan. 10, 2008.

I suspect they’re going to find themselves in something of a pickle. Once they consider the costs the state will bear as a victim of global warming, will they be willing to consider reorienting the state’s economy so that it is less dependent on encouraging more global warming will all their oil? The state government relies totally on oil money for its budget and so the residents love not having to pay any state taxes — better yet, they get a check from the state every year. (And they largely need it; the cost of living up there is outrageous.) It’ll take some real soul searching to make the big changes that calls for.


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