Gordon Smith: Protest in His Home Town

Smith-Gordon As Part Of Statewide Protests, Oregonians In Smith’s Hometown Protest His Corporate Sponsored Opposition To Climate Change Bill

Gordon Smith has become a vending machine for votes. Special interests insert money and Gordon Smith produces any vote they want.

Following earlier protests in Eugene and Medford, Oregonians in Pendleton, U.S. Sen. Gordon Smith’s (R-OR) hometown, demanded that Smith stand up to his corporate donors and stop opposing important climate change legislation.

Oregon cannot afford to have a senator whose special interest contributors have bought his opposition to fixing climate change,” said Ben Talley, Pendleton area organizer for the Stop Gordon Smith Campaign. “We can’t let Gordon Smith get away with serving the corporate interests rather than the people’s interests.”

“Why doesn’t Gordon Smith think Climate Change is a problem? Because he’s paid to ignore this crisis,” Talley said. “Smith has taken millions from Big Oil and other special interests who control his votes. In return, Smith has voted twice to keep $5 billion in tax breaks for Big Oil and oppose important climate change legislation.”

Smith’s donors have bought his opposition to the Lieberman-Warner Climate Security Act. Oregon’s other U.S. Senator, Democrat Ron Wyden, is a co-sponsor of the bill to combat climate change and the bill has bi-partisan support.

But Smith won’t support this important legislation. Smith has taken millions of dollars from the special interests who oppose this legislation, including hundreds of thousands from Big Oil…

…The bill would be an important step in combating climate change. It would cap greenhouse emissions and make appliances and buildings more energy efficient, according to The Register-Guard.

(The Register-Guard Editorial, 2-28-08)

The Eugene, Medford and Pendleton protests were held outside Smith’s offices. They were organized by the Stop Gordon Smith Campaign.

Goose-stepping Gordon does NOT represent Oregon!  Whether Novick, whom I support, or Merkely wins the Democratic nomination for Senator from Oregon, Gordon’s got to go!

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GOP Would Kill Planet to Protect Big Oil Profits

bigoil2 Listen to almost any politician, President Bush included, and you’ll hear that the fight against global warming cannot be won without cleaner technologies that will ease dependence on fossil fuels. Yet these same politicians are on the verge of allowing modest but vital tax credits to expire that are crucial to the future of renewable energy sources like wind and solar power.

These credits are necessary to attract new investment in renewable sources until they become competitive with cheaper, dirtier fuels like coal. When the credits disappear, investments shrivel. The production tax credit for wind energy has been allowed to expire three times. In each case, new investment dropped by more than 70 percent. The credits for wind and solar expire at the end of this year, so action now is important.

Though there is plenty of blame to go around, Mr. Bush and Senate Republicans bear a heavy burden. The House approved, as part of last year’s energy bill, a multiyear extension of the credits, while insisting — under its pay-as-you-go rules — that they be offset by rescinding an equivalent amount in tax credits for the oil companies. The oil companies (though rolling in profits) screamed, Mr. Bush lofted veto threats, and the Senate, by a one-vote margin, refused to go along.

Senator John McCain — who is far ahead of his party on climate change — missed that crucial vote. He could be a hero if he now rode in off the campaign trail and corralled the Republican votes needed to extend the tax credits; his vote alone might be enough.

The Senate is still trying — but not hard enough. Three weeks ago, it approved a bipartisan measure that would authorize a one-year extension of the production tax credit for wind and a multiyear extension of the investment tax credit for solar power.

With other bells and whistles, it would cost $6 billion. The bill still does not rescind any oil company tax credits, so it does not meet the House’s legitimate demand for offsets. Like the House, we believe strongly that Congress must pay as it goes.

So the burden remains with the Senate. And the choice for the senators, in particular the Republicans, is simply this: They can extract a few billion dollars from the ridiculously rich oil companies (Exxon alone made more than $40 billion last year), or they must explain to the American people why protecting the oil companies is more important than protecting the planet. [emphasis added]

Inserted from <NY Times>

We can always count on the GOP to filibuster any measure that favors the interests of the American people over those of greedy corporations.  The Times did a good job with this, except for one thing.  Their claim that McConJob is far ahead of the rest of his party on this issue just does not hold water.

mccain2 …But since he started running for president last year, McCain has largely downplayed climate change. He hasn’t declared support for a tougher and more detailed bill, proposed by Senators John Warner and McCain ally Joe Lieberman. And his top domestic policy recently suggested that McCain might not even stand by his own weaker bill, telling a reporter: “He wasn’t so much committed to the bill as to an issue.”

Most important, McCain has not made global warming a rhetorical priority. Since he began his White House run, he hasn’t given a single speech that we’re aware of devoted to the issue, or released an ad that mentions it in any detail. In general, McCain has based his pitch to voters, both before and after clinching the GOP nomination, on his personal biography, his national-security experience (particularly his support for the troop surge in Iraq), and his straight-talking persona. No fair assessment could conclude that global warming, or any other environmental issue, has been “central” to McCain’s campaign… [emphasis added]

Inserted from <CJR>

Were the environment a concern, he would have returned to Washington to vote on that bill.  On the environment, as on virtually every other issue, except 100 years of war, more wars, and bomb bomb Iran, McFlipFlop is squarely positioned on both sides of the issue, attempting to cover-up that he is McSame as Bush.

ChickenHawk 1, Whales 0

3whales Efforts to protect the critically endangered North Atlantic right whale from being killed by ships are being blocked by Vice President Dick Cheney according to leaked documents.

A behind the scenes struggle is raging between the White House and US government scientists who want to force ships to slow down near the calving grounds of the almost extinct right whale.

The right whale controversy is the latest example of the Bush Administration sidestepping the advice of its on scientists which are aimed at protecting endangered species or threats to the environment. On Monday, a judge had to order the administration to release its much-delayed decision aimed at protecting the polar bear under the Endangered Species Act.

Only 350 of the whales remain in Atlantic waters off America’s eastern seaboard and they are considered one of the most endangered species on Earth. Government scientists warn that the loss of just one more pregnant female is enough to doom the species, which was almost hunted to extinction in the 19th century.

Every year around three right whales are either injured or killed in collisions with ocean-going vessels like containerized cargo ships even though they are protected under the Endangered Species Act. Right whales frequently wash up on shore bearing deep scars from being struck by ships propellers.

To reduce ship strikes the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) decided that ships should restrict their speed to 10 knots or less near whale feeding and calving grounds during parts of the year.

cheney-chickenhawk But Mr Cheney’s office, which tends to operate in secrecy, sent letters repeatedly questioning whether the rule was needed according to leaked documents. Flatly contradicting the scientific research Mr Cheney’s staff argued, “that we have no evidence that lowering the speeds of ‘large ships’ will actually make a difference.”

A critique of the scientists analysis by the administration led to a strongly worded reply in which they said: “The basic facts remain that there is a direct relationship” between a vessel’s speed and the likelihood of death or serious injury to the whale, and “at vessel speeds at or below 10 knots, the probability of death/serious injury is greatly reduced.”

There was, the scientists wrote, “no basis to overturn our previous conclusion that imposing a speed limit on large vessels would be beneficial to whales.”

Congressman Henry Waxman who publicised the correspondence said it was “the latest instance of the White House ignoring scientists and other experts.”… [emphasis added]

Inserted from <The Independent>

There is only one endangered species we can afford to lose: the ChickenHawk!

To Harm the Environment, Vote GOP

24EPA Hundreds of Environmental Protection Agency scientists complain they have been victims of political interference and pressure from superiors to skew their findings, according to a survey released Wednesday by an advocacy group.

The Union of Concerned Scientists said that more than half of the nearly 1,600 EPA staff scientists who responded online to a detailed questionnaire reported they had experienced incidents of political interference in their work…

…In the survey, the EPA scientists described an agency suffering from low morale as senior managers and the White House Office of Management and Budget frequently second-guess scientific findings and change work conducted by EPA’s scientists, the report said.

The survey covered employees at EPA headquarters, in each of the agency’s 10 regions around the country and at more than a dozen research laboratory. The highest number of complaints about political interference came from scientists who are directly involved in writing regulations and those who conduct risk assessments such as determining a chemical cancer risk for humans.

Nearly 400 scientists said they had witnessed EPA officials misrepresenting scientific findings, 284 said they had witness the “selective or incomplete use of data to justify a specific regulatory outcome” and 224 scientists said they had been directed to “inappropriately exclude or alter technical information” in an EPA document.

Donaghy said that EPA management was aware of the survey, which was conducted by the Center for Survey Statistics & and Methodology at the Iowa State University. He said while some EPA managers initially instructed employees not to participate, the EPA’s general counsel’s office later sent an e-mail to employees saying they could participate on their private time. [emphasis added]

Inserted from <TPM>

The GOP does not hesitate to cover-up and falsify scientific data, even if doing so will directly harm Americans, if the release of that data interferes with No Millionaire Left Behind.  Every Repuglican in office is one too many!

Earth Day: Eight reasons for Environmentalism

earthday

Many of the bigger challenges we will be forced to address in the 21st century have major environmental implications. On many of these issues, there are opportunities to choose more sustainable and ecologically friendly ways of life. For example, if, as experts warn, that oil demand will soon outstrip our available, dwindling supply, then our petro-dependent society will change along with it. It’s a chance to pursue cleaner and more efficient methods of using energy — switching from cars to public transport, and going from oil to solar and wind.

AlterNet picked eight topics — water, global warming, food, health, energy, pollution, consumption and corporations — that pose real dangers to the future of human life and selected a series of recent essays that illustrate these problems, along with links to organizations and further resources that address these issues…

Inserted from <AlterNet>

The world needs to choose whether or not we want our children and grandchildren to survive. This is an excellent three page article full of links to more articles and resources. I strongly recommend that you click through and read it.

That said, there’s something we can all do today:

Love the earth!

Pee on a Bush!!

22earthday

All articles cross-posted from Politics Plus

EU Set to Scrap Biofuels Target

20biofuels The European commission is backing away from its insistence on imposing a compulsory 10% quota of biofuels in all petrol and diesel by 2020, a central plank of its programme to lead the world in combating climate change.

Amid a worsening global food crisis exacerbated, say experts and critics, by the race to divert food or feed crops into biomass for the manufacture of vehicle fuel, and inundated by a flood of expert advice criticising the shift to renewable fuel, the commission appears to be getting cold feet about its biofuels target.

Under the proposals, to be turned into law within a year, biofuels are to supply a tenth of all road vehicle fuel by 2020 as part of the drive to slash greenhouse gas emissions by 20% by the same deadline.

The 10% target is “binding” under the proposed legislation. But pressed by its scientific advisers, UN authorities, leaders in Europe, non-government organisations and environmental lobbies, the commission is engaged in a rethink.

“The target is now secondary,” said a commission official, adding that high standards of “sustainability” being drafted for biofuels sourcing and manufacture would make it impossible for the target to be met.

Britain has set its own biofuels targets, which saw 2.5% mixed into all petrol and diesel fuel sold on forecourts in the UK this week. The government wants to increase that to 5% within two years, but has admitted that the environmental concerns could force them to rethink. Ruth Kelly, transport secretary, has ordered a review, which is due to report next month.

A commission source indicated that the EU executive would not object if European governments ordered a U-turn.

“This is all very sensitive and fast-moving,” said a third commission official. “There is now a lot of new evidence on biofuels and the commission has become a prisoner of this process.”

The target is being strongly criticised by the commission’s own scientific experts and environmental advisers to the EU…

Inserted from <The Guardian>

I think this is a wise move by the EU.  The US should stop subsidizing biofuels except as they are derived from agricultural waste and put the subsidies into R&D on renewable resources.

Solve Food Crisis by Changing Policies

18food Food riots are erupting all over the world. To prevent them and to help people afford the most basic of goods, we need to understand the causes of skyrocketing food prices and correct the policies that have fueled them.

World food prices rose by 39 percent in the last year. Rice alone rose to a 19-year high in March – an increase of 50 per cent in two weeks alone – while the real price of wheat has hit a 28-year high.

As a result, food riots erupted in Egypt, Guinea, Haiti, Indonesia, Mauritania, Mexico, Senegal, Uzbekistan and Yemen. For the 3 billion people in the world who subsist on $2 a day or less, the leap in food prices is a killer. They spend a majority of their income on food, and when the price goes up, they can’t afford to feed themselves or their families.

Analysts have pointed to some obvious causes, such as increased demand from China and India, whose economies are booming. In the last thirty years, developing countries that used to be self-sufficient in food have turned into large food importers.

Rising fuel and fertilizer costs, increased use of bio-fuels and climate change have all played a part.

But less obvious causes have also had a profound effect on food prices.

Over the last few decades, the United States, the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund have used their leverage to impose devastating policies on developing countries. By requiring countries to open up their agriculture market to giant multinational companies and by persuading them to specialize in exportable cash crops such as coffee, cocoa, cotton and even flowers, Washington, the IMF and the World Bank created a downward spiral.

They made matters worse by demanding the dismantling of marketing boards that kept commodities in a rolling stock to be released in event of a bad harvest. These boards shielded both producers and consumers against sharp rises or drops in prices. But the shield is no longer there.

Here’s what we must do to prevent an epidemic of starvation from breaking out.

First, it is essential to have safety nets and public distribution systems put in place. Donor countries should provide more aid immediately to support government efforts in poor countries and respond to appeals from U.N. agencies, which are desperately seeking $500 million by May 1.

Second, we should help affected countries develop their agricultural sectors to feed more of their own people and decrease their dependence on food imports.

We should promote production and consumption of local crops raised by small, sustainable farms instead of growing cash crops for Western markets.

And we should support a country’s effort to manage stocks and pricing so as to limit the volatility of food prices.

To embrace these crucial policies, however, we need to stop worshipping the golden calf of the so-called free market and embrace, instead, the principle of food sovereignty. Every country and every people have a right to food that is affordable. When the market deprives them of this, it is the market that has to give… [emphasis added]

Inserted from <The Progressive>

This is largely a Bush/GOP deal.  When poor countries grow crops for export, the cash it brings into those nations goes mostly to a few elites at the top, who are willing to exploit their own people for personal enrichment.  In return for that cash, they also allow greedy corporations, such as United Fruit, to exploit their people to make huge profits importing those foods to wealthy nations.  Food sovereignty for poor nations is a far better plan that the economic imperialism in place today.

This article missed one key point.  Since it takes as much energy and to convert corn, for example, to fuel as the energy derived from burning the fuel, subsidizing this activity does nothing to reduce dependence on foreign energy.  Since it also produces as much atmospheric carbon to do so, subsidizing this activity does nothing to combat climate change.  However, subsidizing such activity contributes significantly to the world food crisis.  If we are going to subsidize biofuels, lets subsidize the conversion of agricultural waste or non food products.