Kids, These Days!

It’s a wonderment. My 12-year old granddaughter and 15-year old grandson resonate politically like nobody’s business. I’m 1500 miles away and their parent’s aren’t overtly political, so how did it happen that they “know” about these things … as in “kuh-no” … have an awareness of political stuff reminiscent of my own generation that exploded against cultural repression and growing militarism in the 60s?

I suppose that’s all part of the grand plan, yes? Well, hooray! This is the kind of thing we need MORE of! MUCH MORE!

Pass this post around to those who need their spirits lifted. For those who think the world has no future, another look at these young ones might just change their mind.


Youths sue U.S. government over climate inaction
An unprecedented massive legal campaign led by young Americans is playing out in courtrooms across the nation
Amel Ahmed, Al Jazeera
May 4, 2014

Young people across the country are suing several government agencies for failing to develop a climate change recovery plan, conduct that amounts to a violation of their constitutional rights, says their lawyer Julia Olson.

Their futures are at stake, say the young plaintiffs.

“Climate change is the biggest issue of our time,” said 13-year-old Xiuhtezcatl Roske-Martinez, a member of nonprofit Kids vs. Global Warming, a plaintiff in the suit.

“It’s not every day you see young people getting involved politically but the climate crisis is changing all that. Every generation from here on out is going to be affected by climate change,” added Roske-Martinez, who also founded environmental nonfprofit Earth Matters and organized successful actions in his hometown of Boulder, Colo.

The federal suit, which has made its way to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit, is part of a groundbreaking nationwide legal campaign spearheaded by youth and backed by some of the world’s leading climate scientists and legal scholars.

The case, filed by five teenagers and two nonprofits — WildEarth Guardians and Kids vs. Global Warming — representing thousands more youth, relies on the Public Trust Doctrine, which requires government to protect resources essential to the survival of all generations.

“With the United States as the largest historic emitter of carbon dioxide, the atmospheric resource cannot be restored without government action,” Olson told Al Jazeera.

Supported by more than 30 environmental and constitutional professors, the young plaintiffs name six federal agencies in their suit — the Environmental Protection Agency, Departments of Interior, Agriculture, Commerce, Energy and Defense.

“The welfare of youth is directly affected by the failure of government to confront human-made climate change, and unless the government acts immediately to rapidly reduce carbon emissions … youth will face irrevocable harm: the collapse of natural resource systems and a largely uninhabitable nation,” read the complaint.

In addition to the federal suit, actions were filed in all 50 states with help from Our Children’s Trust, an Oregon-based nonprofit that supports young people through legal efforts.

The scale of the campaign is unprecedented, according to law professor Mary Wood, faculty director at the Environmental and Natural Resources Law Program at the University of Oregon.

“Never before in the history of our laws have we seen a coordinated set of legal actions on this scale,” she said.

The monumental campaign matches the magnitude of the problem, supporters say.

Because climate change is a recent phenomena, there’s no precedent. Judges haven’t had to face the climate crisis. ++

This Fifth-Grader Raised $200,000 to Clean Up the Gulf Oil Spill by Selling Watercolors
These three young activists found creative ways to tackle issues from climate change to voting rights.
YES! Magazine staff
Apr 30, 2014

1. Olivia Bouler: Painting to rescue birds and restore habitat

Shortly after the Deepwater Horizon oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico, Olivia Bouler asked the National Audubon Society how her skill as an artist and her love of birds could be put to use. The fifth grader from Islip, N.Y., created a web page offering her vibrantly colored and lively paintings in exchange for donations.

Five hundred of Bouler’s watercolors of pelicans, warblers, buntings, and other North American birds were claimed within three weeks, and donors eventually contributed $200,000 to restoration efforts.

In the media coverage that followed, Bouler spoke about the importance of small actions in response to big environmental issues like habitat loss and pollution. She sees kids’ ability to focus on one piece at a time as a lesson to adults for whom the overwhelming magnitude of a problem may be an obstacle to taking action.

To spark kids’ interest in nature, Bouler, now in high school, regularly shares her knowledge and enthusiasm for birds and drawing in classrooms, sometimes with the help of her younger brother Jackson, a puppeteer. A traveling exhibit of her artwork and her children’s book, Olivia’s Birds, encourage people to mobilize, one beach or backyard at a time.

2. Madison Kimrey: Speaking on behalf of future voters

When 12-year-old Madison Kimrey isn’t juggling schoolwork, voice lessons, and drama rehearsals, she’s speaking out to protect voting rights for young people. Recently, her home state of North Carolina passed a restrictive voter ID law that sparked lawsuits from the NAACP and the ACLU, who believe it will dissuade some demographics, including young adults, from voting.

Kimrey sought a meeting with Governor Pat McCrory to discuss her opposition to the law’s elimination of voter pre-registration for teenagers. McCrory ignored her request, calling her a “prop for liberal groups.” Bubbly and quick-witted Kimrey, who writes all her own speeches, replied that Governor McCrory’s response “isn’t the kind of leadership that our state deserves.”

Kimrey is in favor of voter pre-registration for teens because it makes it more likely that young people will cast their first ballot at age 18. She sees her championship of voting rights for teenagers as the latest manifestation of a long tradition: “I am a part of the new generation of suffragettes,” she says. Her work with’s campaign for a federal voter pre-registration program for teenagers has been recognized with the Youth Ambassador award from Davidson Young Scholars.

3. Xiuhtezcatl Martinez: Demanding protection for the atmosphere

Thirteen-year-old Xiuhtezcatl Martinez is the youth director of Earth Guardians, a Colorado group that involves young people in fighting climate change. He’s well qualified for the role, having been an environmental activist since the age of six. Martinez’s Aztec first name, pronounced “Shoe-Tez-Caht,” reflects the indigenous ancestry and belief system he sees as the source of his environmentalism. “We were all indigenous at one point,” says Martinez, but “we have forgotten that the Earth gives us all that we need.”

Saddened by the environmental damage caused by hydraulic fracking in his home state of Colorado, Martinez is a plaintiff in lawsuits that seek to hold the state and federal governments accountable for protecting the Earth’s atmosphere. “We’re asking for a six percent carbon reduction annually,” Martinez explained of the federal lawsuit backed by NASA scientist James Hansen, “which could get us back down to 350 parts per million.”

Martinez looks for ways to make environmental activism appealing to young people. Despite the adult responsibilities of his role as a spokesperson, he enjoys being a regular kid in his spare time: playing ninjas, rope swinging into water holes, and writing inspirational rap songs. ++

When This Teacher’s Ethnic Studies Classes Were Banned, His Students Took the District to Court—and Won
Curtis Acosta’s classes in Mexican American Studies gave kids pride in their heritage—until the Arizona Legislature canceled them. That’s when his students became activists, and some real-life lessons began.
Jing Fong, YES! Magazine
Apr 25, 2014

“I believe that unarmed truth and unconditional love will have the final word in reality. That is why right, temporarily defeated, is stronger than evil triumphant.”
~ The Reverend Martin Luther King

In accordance with Title 17 U.S.C. Section 107, this material is distributed without profit to those who have expressed a prior interest in receiving the included information for research and educational purposes.

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“In this time and place …”

Tomorrow is Earth Day. I hope we can all find a way to celebrate the event, if not in leisure time then at least in mentioning it to co-workers and friends in order to lift awareness for our serious environmental issues. “Cowboys and Indians” are going to camp in WA-DC, making their way to the White House in order to make a point about the united front of rejection of the Keystone XL pipeline. They’ll be there a week and let’s hope the press picks up on it. That should provide enough human interest and pageantry to earn some print space.

Yesterday, the administration announced additional delay in the decision making process. 350′s Bill McKibbon is disturbed that Obama did not reject the pipeline, outright, and I understand his passion on this issue but at least it hasn’t been approved, giving us more time to get the public turned around on the dangers — especially during this potent astrological energy — seems appropriate to me. The public favors this pipeline. Furthering education on the issue is critical.

There is a lot of speculation that Obama orchestrated this delay in order to avoid making a decision prior to the election, where Dems are said to be in trouble in the Senate. Looking at the situation in Nebraska, seems to me that it was their decision to make rather than that of the prez, but … whatever … there is a case to be made that the party of deniers, who always turn out strongly in mid-terms, don’t need any more heat under their butts over the next few months.

And that’s not just “politics as usual.” It’s dire necessity that the left keeps the Senate so that Republicans don’t get to run roughshod over legislation for Obama’s last two years AND — most importantly — don’t get to filibuster and/or outright reject any Supreme Court candidate he puts up over the next months. Yesterday, retired Justice John Paul Stevens mentioned that 81-year old Ruth Bader Ginsberg had solicited his advice on her own retirement.

A cancer survivor, Ginsberg has vowed to keep working at a job she loves rather than quit under a Dem president, guaranteeing a lefty replacement, but at her stage of life it must surely be on her mind. Scalia and Kennedy, on the right, and Breyer on the left are all in their mid-to-late 70s and, although no health problems have been reported, actuary tables reduce their odds of continued lengthy service. worse, even should Obama be the one who nominates a Ginsberg replacement, there are no guarantees, thanks to obscure rules and bylaws (go here for the ugly options.)

Still, numbers count to tip the balance. Another conservative Justice would make the court moot to progressive causes, period. Yes, the United States is in dire trouble in terms of democracy — has, in fact, been identified as an oligarchy — and needs serious assessment and renewal, as does the political party system. Giving ourselves over to regressivism due to political weariness and lethargy is like throwing our hands up and deciding to go down with the ship. In other words, not an option.

Play the YouTube for a satirical but highly educational look at this topic –’like’ the poster on Facebook if you approve. Then, an article on the Cowboy Indian Alliance is next, and here’s some history on such rare cross-culture alliances to flesh out the situation. We need more of that, putting aside our difference for common cause.

The next piece is a template for increasing and improving “the commons” — promoting sharing and collaboration rather than the outmoded notions of production and growth that capitalism continues to push at us. Trying to grow forever is a contradiction in terms. In order to grow, this Republic has had to take a lot of what belongs to others. That has to stop!

Last, just as an FYI, is the 350 press release that adds details to the Cowboy Indian encampment and defines its continuing purpose.

Happy Earth Day, everyone. Love your Mother!


“Each of us is put here in this time and this place to personally decide the future of mankind.”
—Chief Arvol Looking Horse

The commercial TransCanada doesn’t want you to see!

‘Cowboy Indian Alliance’ Steps Forward in Earth’s Time of Need
Sunday, April 20, 2014 by Common Dreams

‘We are writing a new history by standing on common ground.’- Jon Queally, staff writer

In the week ahead, a coalition of tribal communities, ranchers, farmers and allies calling itself the ‘Cowboy Indian Alliance’ plans to lead a series of protests, ceremonies, and direct actions in the heart of Washington, DC in order to drive home their united opposition to the Keystone XL pipeline and the destructive expansion of tar sands mining and fossil fuel dependence it represents.

Under the banner ‘Reject and Project,’ the five-day long event will kick off on this year’s Earth Day—Tuesday, April 23—and culminate on Saturday with a ceremony and procession expected to draw thousands.

“We are writing a new history by standing on common ground by preventing the black snake of Keystone XL from risking our land and water,” said Faith Spotted Eagle of the Yankton Sioux tribe and a spokesperson for the Cowboy Indian Alliance (C.I.A.). “We have thousands of Native sacred sites that will be affected adversely. The Americans facing eminent domain now know what it felt like for us to lose land to a foreign country. There is no fairness or rationale to justify the risk of polluting our waterways with benzene and other carcinogens. Native people are ready to speak for the four-leggeds and the grandchildren who cannot speak for themselves. The answer is no pipeline.”

The coalition, though made up of those from specifically impacted communities, makes a point to say that because “everyone is needed” in the fight against tar sands, “everyone is welcome” in the events, ceremonies, and actions that will take place.

Roger Milk, a member of the Rosebud Sioux, makes it clear: “This just isn’t an Indian thing,” he says. “We all drink the same water.”

“Each of us is put here in this time and this place to personally decide the future of mankind,” adds coalition member Chief Arvol Looking Horse, spiritual leader among the Dakota, Lakota, and Nakota people. “Do you think that the creator would create unnecessary people in a time of danger? Know that you are essential to this world. The biggest cancer spreading upon Mother Earth is the tar sands.”

The series of events, says the coalition, will ask President Obama a single, but fundamental question: “Is an export pipeline for dirty tar sands worth risking our sacred land and water for the next seven generations?”

According to their call to action, the organizers say it past time for Obama to acknowledge whether or not he truly understands the stakes involved if this pipeline proceed.

    The Cowboy and Indian Alliance (C.I.A) brings together tribal communities with ranchers and farmers living along the Keystone XL pipeline proposed route. Farmers and ranchers know the risk first-hand. They work the land every day. Tribes know the risk first-hand. They protect the sacred water, and defend sacred sites of their ancestors every day. They have united out of love and respect for the land and water on which we all depend.

    This is not the first time Cowboys and Indians have come together to stop projects that risk our land and water. In the 80s, they came together to protect water and the Black Hills from uranium mining and risky munitions testing. In the American imagination, cowboys and Indians are still at odds. However, in reality, opposition to the Keystone XL tar sands pipeline has brought communities together like few causes in our history. Tribes, farmers and ranchers are all people of the land, who consider it their duty as stewards to conserve the land and protect the water for future generations.

Jane Kleeb, executive director of Bold Nebraska, promises the diverse but unified coalition representing front-line communities will bring their “pipeline fighting spirit” to Washington, DC and the Obama White House.

“The President said he wants to be able to look at his daughters and say ‘yes he did’ do everything he could to combat climate change,” said Kleeb. “We intend to ensure he honors his word.” ++

How the Commons Way of Life Helps Curb Climate Change
It offers an appealing alternative to more stuff and more money, which drives environmental destruction today
Jay Walljasper, On The Commons via Common Dreams
Sunday, April 20, 2014

It’s easy to not think about the looming climate crisis. For one thing, it’s depressing to ponder the misery ahead if we don’t take drastic steps now to curb greenhouse emissions. It’s even more depressing when you consider that even the most modest steps to reduce carbon use in the US have been derailed by corporate lobbyists and ideological zealots.

And even when we do think about climate change, it feels abstract and distant. How can a few parts per million of an invisible gas pose a dire threat to our future, no matter how convincing the scientific evidence. That’s why the heroic work of grassroots organizations like to translate these facts into action steps is so critical.

“Greater appreciation of the commons will help ease the transition to a society less dedicated to production and economic growth.”

I recently read another fresh perspective on climate change that really hit home. “Probably the most pressing need is to shut down the engines of productivity,” said David Graeber—an organizer of Occupy Wall Street and author of Debt: The First 5000 Years who now teaches anthropology at the London School of Economics, in The Nation.

That’s an even more daunting mission than transforming our energy supply, especially on a planet where many people still suffer from a lack of material resources. Yet I think it’s the key to saving the Earth for human habitation. So long as the worship of productivity— more stuff, more money, more power, more mobility, more space, more control, more everything—reigns supreme, we will continue racing down the path of destruction.

It’s a radically radical proposition, not just in its challenge to business-as-usual in corporations and governments, but for the impact on every aspect of our lives. Still to assure a world worth living in for everyone’s great grandchildren it’s necessary to back off from the mindless pursuit of ever-increasing economic production. We must find a new operating system for modern society that will sustain natural ecosystems at the same time as providing everyone on the planet with food, health, livelihood and security.

An impossibly naive dream? Not really. For much of history, human progress was guided by a different set of principles than the industrialized, market-driven system now accepted as the natural order of the universe. Look around—at indigenous people and civil society, Internet initiatives and our own households—to see a different way of life characterized by sharing and collaboration rather than production for production’s sake.

We experience this way of life throughout our lives. Especially when we are enjoying time away from work and shopping—at the park, with our friends, playing with kids, participating in community activities. Pressed to produce a word to describe it, we might say common sense—which is pretty close to what some folks call it: the commons.

The commons means “what we share together,” distinct from what we own separately. It’s a form of wealth belonging to all of us, which is there for everyone to use so long as we take care to ensure there’s enough for future generations.

Greater appreciation of the commons will help ease the transition to a society less dedicated to production and economic growth. We cannot shift to a sustainable way of life without changing how we think about our place in the world. Slowing production will remain impossible so long as most people identify progress, success and self-worth by what is theirs alone.

The commons broadens people’s vision from what is mine to what is ours, allowing us to see that we are losing more in the quest for ever-more stuff and money than we are gaining. And while defenders of the status quo will roar that a commons way of life defies human nature, the truth is humans have lived this way for most of history. If human existence is to continue in the centuries ahead, it’s crucial that we rediscover this sense of what belongs to all of us together. ++

April 18, 2014
Jamie Henn,, 415-601-9337 and Bill McKibben React to Recent Keystone XL Delay

WASHINGTON – April 18 – co-founder Bill McKibben issued the following response to the news that the State Department and Obama Adminsitration will be delaying a decision on the controversial Keystone XL tar sands pipeline:

    “It’s as if our leaders simply don’t understand that climate change is happening in real time–that it would require strong, fast action to do anything about it. While we’re at it, the State Department should also request that physics delay heat-trapping operations for a while, and that the El Nino scheduled for later this spring be pushed back to after the midterms. One point is clear: without a broad and brave movement, DC would have permitted this dumb pipeline in 2011. So on we go.” Communications Director Jamie Henn added:

    “It’s disappointing President Obama doesn’t have the courage to reject Keystone XL right now, but this is clearly another win for pipeline opponents. We’re going to keep up the pressure on the President to make the right call and continue to expand our broader fight against the fossil fuel industry. Big Oil has run Washington for far too long.”

Next week, will be joining with the Cowboy and Indian Alliance to host Reject and Protect, a week-long encampment on the National Mall to push President Obama to reject Keystone XL once and for all.

The encampment will feature 15 tipis and a covered wagon, and begins on Tuesday with a 40-person ceremonial horseback ride from the Capitol down the National Mall. Ranchers from Nebraska, tribal leaders from Nebraska, Minnesota and the Dakotas, actor Daryl Hannah, the Indigo Girls, environmental and social justice leaders, and others will take part at the encampment over the week.

More than 5,000 people are expected to join the Cowboy and Indian Alliance for a ceremonial procession around by the Capitol on Saturday, April 26. The CIA will finish the procession by delivering a tipi to the Museum of the American Indian in honor of President Obama as a symbol of their respect, and as a symbol of the tipis and other encampments they will erect along the pipeline route if the Keystone XL is approved.


350 is the red line for human beings, the most important number on the planet. The most recent science tells us that unless we can reduce the amount of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere to 350 parts per million, we will cause huge and irreversible damage to the earth. But solutions exist. All around the world, a movement is building to take on the climate crisis, to get humanity out of the danger zone and below 350. This movement is massive, it is diverse, and it is visionary. We are activists, scholars, and scientists. We are leaders in our businesses, our churches, our governments, and our schools. We are clean energy advocates, forward-thinking politicians, and fearless revolutionaries. And we are united around the world, driven to make our planet livable for all who come after us. ++

“I believe that unarmed truth and unconditional love will have the final word in reality. That is why right, temporarily defeated, is stronger than evil triumphant.”~ The Reverend Martin Luther King

In accordance with Title 17 U.S.C. Section 107, this material is distributed without profit to those who have expressed a prior interest in receiving the included information for research and educational purposes.

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I’m putting these two reads together because one is the effect of the mindless machine that is eating away at our better instincts and the other is an encouraging counter to that heavy intent. I’m also putting the cart before the horse, the positive article first.

That first article is from Texan Jim Hightower, who — along with Paul Begala — gives the state a good name now that Molly Ivans is gone. He writes about the community movement called Moral Monday that has grown legs. This is how we do it, now. Not riots in the streets but linked arms and sure purpose.

In the last piece, we have a report on the House legislation that attacks our continuing legacy of national parks. This makes me see red, you betcha! Nature should be our schoolroom, where we learn all we need to know about life process, but it is valued only as property and opportunity for development by those who have lost themselves. The House is, currently, lost and has no respect for the commons, the property dedicated for the use of the people.

We must not allow that to happen. We must not lose ourselves as we reclaim our good, and, in fact, may indeed ‘find ourselves’ as we align with one another to achieve it.

As Teddy Kennedy would say, “… the work begins anew.”


I Think They Can
Some of the states where the Moral Monday movement is rising are mighty steep political hills for progressives to climb.
Jim Hightower, OtherWords by CommonDreams
Wednesday, April 2, 2014

Like that little choo-choo in the classic children’s book “The Little Engine that Could,” Moral Monday is the little movement that says, “I think I can” and keeps chugging up the hill.

This new progressive coalition became a full-throttle citizen uprising in North Carolina early last year.

Fueled by rising public outrage at the rampant right-wing extremism of the Republican-run state government, a few advocates for workers, civil rights, and other people’s issues went inside North Carolina’s state capitol on a Monday in April.

Led by Rev. William Barber, head of the North Carolina NAACP, they literally put their bodies on the line in protest of the GOP’s reckless crusade to turn the state into a privatized utopia for unfettered corporate greed and tea party wackiness.

Several members of the small group were arrested that day, and Republican leaders berated their protest as “Moron Monday.”

To build a movement, you’ve gotta start moving.Those politicos aren’t laughing now.

The protesters kept coming and their numbers kept growing, for Moral Monday had struck a chord. The protest spread across the state. A rally in February drew more than 80,000 people, and public approval ratings for the governor and state assembly have tanked.

The legislature is now out of session, but Moral Monday still has weekly meetings and is launching a 50-county organizing and voter education campaign this summer.

It’s now a burgeoning multi-issue, grassroots movement for progressive change. And it’s literally on the move, branching out to other states — Moral Monday Georgia is going full steam this year, South Carolina has a Truthful Tuesday movement gaining steam, and the movement is getting started in Alabama, Florida, New York, and Wisconsin.

Some of these states are mighty steep political hills for progressives to climb, but success begins with someone saying, “I think I can.” To build a movement, you’ve gotta start moving. ++

House Republicans prove hatred of America with ‘No More Parks’ bill
Joan McCarter, Daily Kos
Wed Mar 26, 2014

“There can be nothing in the world more beautiful than the Yosemite, the groves of the giant sequoias and redwoods, the Canyon of the colorado, the Canyon o f the Yellowstone, the Three Tetons; and our people shoudl see to it that they are preserved for their children and their children’s children forever, with their majestic beauty all unmarred.”
~ President Theodore Roosevent

The House voted today to undo what they can of President Teddy Roosevelt’s legacy. They voted to pass the “Ensuring Public Involvement in the Creation of National Monuments Act,” their effort to make sure that no more land worth saving from mining, drilling, logging or fracking is indeed saved through executive action. It passed, of course, 222-201, but is unlikely to advance in the Senate, which is reason number infinity why we need the Senate.

Back in 1906, Roosevelt signed the Antiquities Act, which gives the president the power to designate significant cultural, historical or ecological sites—which are already public land—as monuments. Since then, 16 presidents (evenly divided by part) have protected sites like the Grand Canyon, Acadia, Muir Woods and Olympic national parks through the monument designation. These places eventually became national parks through congressional action, but were preserved thanks to the Antiquities Act.

They didn’t do this just because they hate protected public land. They also did it because they hate the fact that President Obama has the power—which every president before him since Teddy Roosevelt has had—to designate protected land without giving them the opportunity to derail his efforts. Of course, why they say they’re doing it is because the president can act unilaterally, without public input, and because of the terrible economic impact these protected lands have.

Both of which are bullshit. The public loves national parks and monuments and thinks it’s government’s job to protect public land, to the tune of almost 90 percent of likely voters (as of this 2012 poll).

    Nearly 90 percent of voters think that candidates who prioritize national parks are seen as caring about the environment, protecting our heritage for the future, patriotic, and a good steward of our nation’s resources. And as the National Park Service approaches its centennial in 2016, a majority of likely voters (77 percent) say it is important for the next president to ensure that parks are fully restored and ready to serve and be relevant to future generations in their second century.

The economic impact of national parks was felt as recently as last fall, when the Republican House shut them down. The communities around the parks lost $414 million in just 16 days. Every dollar invested in a national park, the National Park Service has found, comes back to the community 10-fold. A study released earlier this month by the NPS found that visits to parks in 2012 generated $14.7 billion in spending in “gateway” communities, those within 60 miles of a park. All that money spent by park visitors supported 243,000 jobs and contributed $26.8 billion to the national economy.

Once again, the Republican House wasted time on a bill that is diametrically opposed to the will of the public. Once again, they wasted time on a bill that will not even get a hearing in the Senate. And once again they proved that they really do hate America. ++

“I believe that unarmed truth and unconditional love will have the final word in reality. That is why right, temporarily defeated, is stronger than evil triumphant.”
~ The Reverend Martin Luther King

In accordance with Title 17 U.S.C. Section 107, this material is distributed without profit to those who have expressed a prior interest in receiving the included information for research and educational purposes.

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“They want total awareness.”

There are really interesting possibilities beginning to swarm around the NSA issues. Obama seems to have softened his opinion about Snowden, although nothing is firm and no deals have been made. Still, it looks like the new oversight will ultimately bring an end to the hobnail boots on our civil liberties, or at least a transparent discussion about them.

There are two good reads here — one on how Sonja Sotomayor, new kid on the Supreme block, has changed the conversation on data collection; you go girl! The next is a candid conversation with Snowden in Russia, giving us a sense of both his character and his current situation. He’s an interesting one and, as I believe this will be a HOT topic in 2014, worth your time.

Perhaps your travel plans have changed or the weather has postponed your holiday gatherings — or perhaps someone ELSE is doing the cooking and you have some time to read this holiday. If so, these are interesting articles that, ultimately, have to do with our life and privacy.

Wishing you, each one, a blessed, safe and restful holiday!


How Sotomayor undermined Obama’s NSA
Adam Serwer, MSNBC

If Edward Snowden gave federal courts the means to declare the National Security Agency’s data-gathering unconstitutional, Sonia Sotomayor showed them how.

It was Sotomayor’s lonely concurrence in U.S. v Jones, a case involving warrantless use of a GPS tracker on a suspect’s car, that the George W. Bush-appointed Judge Richard Leon relied on when he ruled that the program was likely unconstitutional last week. It was that same concurrence the White House appointed review board on surveillance policy cited when it concluded government surveillance should be scaled back.

“It may be necessary to reconsider the premise that an individual has no reasonable expectation of privacy in information voluntarily disclosed to third parties,” Sotomayor wrote in 2012. “This approach is ill suited to the digital age, in which people reveal a great deal of information about themselves to third parties in the course of carrying out mundane tasks.”

Not a single other member of the high court signed onto Sotomayor’s concurrence; her three Democratic appointed colleagues sided with a narrower one written by Justice Samuel Alito. Though all nine justices agreed that police would likely need to get a warrant to place a GPS device on a suspect’s car, it was Sotomayor who was willing to argue that modern technology had essentially changed the meaning of what privacy means when so much of our personal information and history is preserved online, and can be easily collected by the government in mass quantities. When the Framers of the Constitution wrote of “persons, houses, papers, and effects,” they could not have imagined cloud storage or cell phone location tracking.
Continue reading

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Typhoon Haiyan

Remember the Christmas Tsunami of 2004? Quarter of a million souls left the planet in short order and those of us who remained simply stopped in our tracks, owl-eyed, at the enormity of that event. Since then, disasters have come one after another so that we don’t experience that same eye-stinging, throat closing physical response any more — but there is still a psychic response that rings all our bells, even if we have to get very quiet to hear it.

So it is today with the 10,000 dead, 2,000 missing and 600,000 displaced in the Philippines. I’ve had to effort to get information on this dreadful event — it’s just not showing up on the American radar with any energy. It should. It’s being described as the most powerful storm to ever make landfall … and it doesn’t take much imagination to link it to global warming. Scientists are promising us ever stronger events like these as the norm. If this kind of thing doesn’t get our attention soon, making it imperative to push past the deniers as irrelevant to our survival, we shall go the way of the Dodo.

The first article here is on climate, the next on promises of international aid and the last on those in this country attempting to contact relatives.

As we scrambled at Planet Waves to come up with options for giving during the Christmas Tsunami, a lot of organizations promised relief. Since then, information about how they use their funds has caused all of us to reconsider how to contribute. Charity Navigator is an excellent tool to use for this purpose, rating the various charities. Here is what they have to say about Hayan:

    Typhoon Haiyan, considered the most powerful storm to ever make landfall battered the Philippines with sustained winds close to 200 mph. The current death toll is feared to be over 10,000. The storm has caused mudslides, 30 feet high storm surges, as well as flash flooding. According to Philippine authorities, more than 12 million people are at risk due to the storm’s powerful impact.

    [Open the link for] a list of organizations supporting the relief and recovery efforts in the region. But before you pick a charity and make a donation, consider what it is that you want your donation to accomplish (such as emergency aid, medical assistance, long term relief) and be sure to select the charity offering that specific type of aid.

Nobody is talking about this — I know we’re tired, we’re overwhelmed and many of us are tapped out, but I just can’t let this go un-noted. If you can’t give money, cover this tragedy with prayer, Light and love.


Typhoon Haiyan: Philippines urges action to resolve climate talks deadlock
UN negotiations in Warsaw must deliver emergency climate pathway as new storm brews in the Pacific, says government

John Vidal and Adam Vaughan, Guardian
Monday 11 November 2013

The Philippines government has firmly connected the super typhoon Haiyan with climate change, and urged governments meeting in Poland on Monday to take emergency action to resolve the deadlocked climate talks.

“We cannot sit and stay helpless staring at this international climate stalemate. It is now time to take action. We need an emergency climate pathway,” said Yeb Sano, head of the government’s delegation to the UN climate talks, in an article for the Guardian, in which he challenged climate sceptics to “get off their ivory towers” to see the impacts of climate change firsthand.

Sano, whose family comes from the devastated town of Tacloban where the typhoon Haiyan made landfall on Friday, said that countries such as the Philippines did not have time to wait for an international climate deal, which countries have agreed to reach in Paris in 2015.

“What my country is going through as a result of this extreme climate event is madness,” he told delagates from 190 countries, as UN climate negotiations get underway for a fortnight today in Warsaw. “The climate crisis is madness. We can stop this madness. Right here in Warsaw. Typhoons such as Haiyan and its impacts represent a sobering reminder to the international community that we cannot afford to procrastinate on climate action.

“Science tells us that simply, climate change will mean more intense tropical storms. As the Earth warms up, that would include the oceans. The energy that is stored in the waters off the Philippines will increase the intensity of typhoons and the trend we now see is that more destructive storms will be the new norm.”
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