28 June 2013

Why I'm NOT Excited About "The President's Climate Action Plan" of June 2013 by Erika P. Wolf

**DISCLAIMER** By using my powers of quotation and sarcastic wit, here is a brief look at the President’s 21-page “Climate Action Plan”. I focus on highlighting only the new initiatives, statements or directives and leaving out sections relating to community/agency preparedness for climate change and severe weather events. I do this, a) to focus my critique on what is supposedly Mr. Obama’s new and exciting position on climate change (which it isn’t) and also, b) to focus on the administration’s expression of its understanding and analysis of what is to be done to mitigate the ongoing human impacts on climate change as opposed to how it will lead federal and more local agencies/communities to deal with changing weather patterns. I see emergency planning, funding, and training as a basic function of government and is therefore not worth discussing when we’re talking about the President’s position on human impacts on climate change and how to interrupt the crisis point at which we’ve arrived. You can read the President's Climate Action Plan as a pdf here:http://www.whitehouse.gov/sites/default/files/image/president27sclimateactionplan.pdf

And now, on with the show...

So the biggest excitement, it seems, comes from these 2 Presidential Memorandums -- one directing the EPA to draft updated carbon emissions standards for existing and new power plants. The other directs federal agencies to streamline the process for energy transmission projects with the goal of making updating the energy grid possible. If you ask me, those are just requests from the President that other people get their butts in gear to do work that he asked them to do 5 years ago when he was elected. If these two memos are in fact the first time he’s given these directives to these agencies which have been reporting directly to him for 5 years, it’s too little too late, IMHO.

But wait, there’s more...

Much of the plan just puts into practice things which any thinking person would have expected the richest country in the world to already have in place, such as:
  • Quandrennial Energy Review: "This first-ever review will focus on infrastructure challenges, and will identify the threats, risks, and opportunities for U.S. energy and climate security, enabling the federal government to translate policy goals into a set of analytically based, clearly articulated, sequenced and integrated actions, and proposed investments over a four-year planning horizon." Well it’s dumb that never happened.
  • "...develop a comprehensive, interagency methane strategy" Seriously? THIS is a new directive?!
  • And goals which may actually make a dent: "the Administration is establishing a new goal: The federal government will consume 20 percent of its electricity from renewable sources by 2020." Meeting this goal is definitely an improvement if it involves cutting energy use and also transitioning to renewables rather than just increasing overall consumption so that renewables are a larger percentage of overall consumption.
  • Information sharing with the public: “...launching a Climate Data Initiative to leverage extensive federal climate-relevant data to stimulate innovation and private-sector entrepreneurship in support of national climate-change preparedness." It’s unfortunate this info-sharing is designed to help some people make money, but it’s pretty alright if those are regular people and not the 1%.
In fact, there many other components which make it clear that the Obama administration will rely on profits as the vehicle driving a transition to renewables, as opposed to the global climate emergency which is a threat to all life on the planet:
  • There’s money for landlords and insurance companies: "Federal Housing Administration will convene representatives of the lending community and other key stakeholders for a mortgage roundtable in July to identify options for factoring energy efficiency into the mortgage underwriting and appraisal process upon sale or refinancing of new or existing homes."
  • And money for anyone who already has a pile of money: "in order to increase access to capital markets for investments in energy efficiency, the Administration will initiate a partnership with the private sector to work towards a standardized contract to finance federal investments in energy efficiency."
  • And a plan to regulate this on the international level with yet another free trade agreement: "...launch negotiations at the World Trade Organization towards global free trade in environmental goods, including clean energy technologies such as solar, wind, hydro and geothermal." Also included in these priorities are “negotiations towards achieving free trade in environmental services."
As far as extraction and the consumption of energy, Obama is still our DRILL BABY DRILL president. On natural gas, the President’s plan has it ALL WRONG.
  • "...when it comes to the oil and gas sector, investments to build and upgrade gas pipelines will not only put more Americans to work, but also reduce emissions and enhance economic productivity. For example, as part of the Administration’s effort to improve federal permitting for infrastructure projects, the interagency Bakken Federal Executive Group is working with industry, as well as state and tribal agencies, to advance the production of oil and gas in the Bakken while helping to reduce venting and flaring."
  • "...encourage the development of a global market for gas. The Obama Administration is partnering with states and private companies to exchange lessons learned with our international partners on responsible development of natural gas resources."
I was hoping to make it through this plan without having to read the dirty “clean coal” myth, but clearly Mr. Obama is still buying that corporate line hook, line, and sinker:
  • “President calls for an end to U.S. government support for public financing of new coal plants overseas, except for(a)the most efficient coal technology available in the world’s poorest countries in cases where no other economically feasible alternative exists, or(b)facilities deploying carbon capture and sequestration technologies. As part of this new commitment, we will work actively to secure the agreement of other countries and the multilateral development banks to adopt similar policies as soon as possible.”
  • "advance the development and deployment of clean coal technologies."
And excited about the increased risk of radiation exposure, anyone?!
  • “The United States will continue to promote the safe and secure use of nuclear power worldwide through a variety of bilateral and multilateral engagements."
It’s wild to see how other countries are factored into this plan. Painting the US as a leader and a negotiator for preservation of the planet and interrupting climate change is inconsistent with how we run our economy, how we live our lives, and what our culture considers appropriate behavior.
  • For example, take "...the Tropical Forest Alliance 2020, which brings together governments, the private sector, and civil society to reduce tropical deforestation related to key agricultural commodities." So the US (and other imperialist countries) ravage the world and force other countries into desperate poverty and starvation. Now that it’s politically inconvenient to be seen as connected to this environmental degradation, we’re now going to essentially blame them for the practice of deforestation and goad people to stop farming because it’s hurting the earth. Riiiiiight...
The Obama administration is definitely playing a game of do-what-I-say-not-what-I-do on the international level, working to negotiate agreements that involve emerging nations regulate and cut consumption across the board while only making commitments which apply to the federal government’s consumption in the United States. These commitments, while they are the most powerful proclamations and directives in the Plan, are the ones with the least clarity on how they’ll be implemented or whether they are even within the power of the President to deliver.
  • "President Obama is calling for the elimination of U.S. fossil fuel tax subsidies in his Fiscal Year(FY) 2014 budget." Is is possible that this will happen, considering he and most of the decision makers at the table are in the pocket of the fossil fuel industry?
  • Is this gonna be another loophole for the 1% to pay their way outta accountability? Looks like it: “...the Environmental Protection Agency will use its authority through the Significant New Alternatives Policy Program to encourage private sector investment in low-emissions technology by identifying and approving climate-friendly chemicals while prohibiting certain uses of the most harmful chemical alternatives.”
  • “In addition, the President has directed his Administration to purchase cleaner alternatives to HFCs whenever feasible and transition overtime to equipment that uses safer and more sustainable alternatives." ‘Wherever possible’ seems like it’s open to discretion and a loose interpretation of ‘cleaner.’
To be brief in summation, the President's plan doesn't actually do much to TAKE ACTION on the climate. It's a recommitment to planning and strategizing, to helping the rich continue to be rich by moving their money from coal to natural gas and/or renewable technologies, and to bluffing his way into a "leadership" position internationally without tackling the problems caused by the United States. While I can hope that this plan is less than satisfactory because the Administration is being politically cautious (though I don't know why it would have any reason to be), it really doesn't address what I see as the most pressing practices escalating climate change.

A plan which addresses the following few criteria would be a START towards a REAL climate action plan:
  • An end to all extreme energy, specifically fracking, tar sands, mountaintop removal, and deepwater drilling.
  • Closing all loopholes for polluters to pay their way out of accountability for intentionally violating human and civil rights, as well as knowingly causing massive environmental "accidents". These people deserve civil and criminal charges with personal and financial consequences.
  • Public divestment of all fossil fuels, including a real end to all fossil fuel subsidies made by the US globally.
  • Defense of the right to food, shelter, water, and air for all people globally, and especially living in the US. This means taking immediate action which not only open access to foreclosed-yet-vacant homes and unused public land and private lots but also demands preventative and enforcement action be taken to protect all natural spaces and block private and public interests alike from further development impacts on or pollution of natural resources.
  • Banning inherently toxic processes like nuclear power and reliance on unstable and unstudied chemicals to maintain our energy grid, food system, waste management, water treatment, transportation system, reclamation/remediation processes, and building construction.
  • Increased public scrutiny to the point of directly democratic, intergenerational structures which involve communities directly affected by existing and new projects which pose an environmental or health risk of any kind. 

26 June 2013


June 26, 2013
by Jennifer Sullivan
Past co-chair of Green Party of Florida & Florida delegate to the Green Party National Committee
“You better watch out where you go and watch out who you know. Watch what you do, because Straight Arrow watches you.”

Why should good law abiding American citizens worry about the NSA compiling every single e mail, phone call or social network that you and every OTHER good (or not so good) American writes, makes or participates in? If you are not doing anything wrong, you don’t have to worry, right?

Hmm…that depends. Who decides what is “wrong”? Do you have any known or unknown enemies? Even someone who might be just a temporary enemy, because of a misunderstanding? Exes? People who are on certain meds that you know? Someone in trouble with the law maybe? How about someone who could just use some extra cash?

Well here’s the catch – and I DO mean catch.

Remember Guantanamo Bay? You know the military holding prison that the USA has in Cuba? Yes CUBA. Sort of weird by itself, as we have not traded with Cuba for over 50 years & actually have a law that we will continue sanctions as long as a Castro is in power. Somehow we have managed to hold onto some of their land for this prison.

Anyway, as you probably already know, this is the infamous place with a really bad worldwide reputation as far as torture. Most of the detainees are innocent people cleared for release. These people have never had a single charge against them & yet they have languished for YEARS in this place. Thus prompting them, in desperation, to go on a hunger strike. They now are being force fed by the prison doctors to add to the horror. These people were essentially “good” Afghanis, Iraqis, etc. who were turned in many years ago by someone that they knew. A feuding relative, a cantankerous neighbor, a business rival or maybe just an unscrupulous acquaintance who wanted some of that bounty offered by the USA as the search for Al Quaeda insurgents was in full swing (some substantial missing tax dollars at work used for this BTW). With all the hysteria after 9/11 pretty much any accusation was taken seriously.

Long story short, innocent people were subjected to torture and mis-treatment to such an extent that now the government of the USA is concerned about them being resentful. Resentful of being falsely accused and having been separated from their children, parents or their lives in general for 10 years with no end in sight. They are stuck. Some of them were even children themselves, at the time of their capture.

This is where all that NSA info on US citizens comes in. Should YOU get attention by something that you do or by something someone SAYS that you did, it’s quite likely that there’s incriminating info that can be obtained once they zero in on you. Have a Muslim friend or doctor? Ever made an angry remark or even a joke about anything that could be considered a threat to national security or solidarity? Do you thoroughly check EVERY charity that you give to? Maybe you ARE 100% personally clear. A real patriot. How sure are you that EVERY PERSON that you have ever communicated with, in any of the above mentioned ways, is as 100% as you? Have you ever clicked on something accidentally? It’s all there, waiting to be pulled up. So how does one defend themselves against a pre-crime? A question worth asking.

If you, as an American citizen, can be killed now and questioned later (and now you can) is that okay with you in the interests of the homeland? The simple fact that the REAL threats to our country are breathing a bit easier, now that they will be further shielded from detection by ginormous haystacks of info on every Tom, Dick and Harriet, is worth a focus, too.

According to experts, actual catching of the really bad and dangerous types WAS enhanced by targeted and legal surveillance using warrants. They don’t stand out anymore, by suspicious behavior. Now that the bar has been dropped so low, we are ALL potentially suspicious.

There’s even more to it.

When they do this data mining, they are not JUST selling our eyes to advertisers, to monitor our shopping preferences, places we go and favorite “likes”. It’s meta data that can be accessed by insurance companies seeking to protect their bottom line or by any other entity who’s interested. We should all know, by now, that corporations have insatiable & irrational greed to stay ever more valuable to their stockholders. Out of work? You have eyes on you. Name a situation & YOU can be inserted into it for some sort of profit for someone.

Freedom of the press is not just being interfered with by the big advertising clients, it’s now directly threatened by DOJ, other state department employees and private contractors. Whistle blowers and journalists are the new “threats” to our national security. These days, it’s considered extremely bad form to report criminal behavior— IF the “criminals” have vast sums of money and/or power of some sort.
Shall we ignore this assault on the 1st, 4th and 5th amendments, where anything you’ve ever said can be held against you? Your first amendment rights could very well be your LAST rites. Interestingly, it’s STILL a federal offense for someone to open your actual US mail, so that’s safe for the moment, until it gets privatized.

As Pontius Pilate so famously asked: “What IS truth?” The truths from Wikileaks, Anonymous, and the free presses of papers like The Guardian can be seen as either pure and enlightening or dangerous depending on the POV and the who the holders of power are. Can government ever make a bad law? Is a government. controlled by the less than 1%, going to be fair to the rest of us? This is a crucial issue, so please pay attention while you still can.

LISTEN TO Spirit singing "Straight Arrow!" CLICK HERE!

17 June 2013


“I know what evil …”
“We have to live by the words of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., ‘Justice is indivisible.  Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere.’  It is the job of law enforcement to address injustice, not just be arms of hyper-reactive justice.”
So Bruce Wright expressed his fundamental commitment to justice in becoming the St. Petersburg Green Party’s Pinellas County Shadow Sheriff, the first member of the Pinellas County Green Shadow Cabinet. Wright is an Executive Committee member of the Poor People’s Economic Human Rights Campaign, founded by Green Party 2012 vice-presidential candidate Cheri Honkala, and the General Welfare representative on Jill Stein’s Green Shadow Cabinet nationally.
Explaining how it would work, Wright declared, “I know what evil lurks.  So whenever the sheriff, or any politician in this county, spouts their usual bullshit, the shadow person, in my case the sheriff, would also have something to say about it.  In effect, it gives me and the people of this county a bully pulpit.  And it is an organizing tool to bring clarity to what the Greens and other progressives believe about how the sheriff’s office should function.  Then, when Pinellas County Sheriff Bob Gualtieri announces that he is handing complete control of Safe Harbor, a shelter for the homeless, to a private security firm, as he has, I would have something to say about that.  It is completely inappropriate.”
As Safe Harbor’s mission statement puts it, “The primary purpose of Pinellas Safe Harbor is jail diversion—that is to keep the homeless out of the criminal justice system … Internal security is provided by G4S Services (contractor). Facility perimeter security is maintained by existing Pinellas County Jail perimeter patrols, which are backed up by deputy sheriffs who routinely patrol the surrounding community.”
“To begin with, the sheriff’s office shouldn’t be running homeless shelters at all,” continued Wright.  “But then handing it to a jail-for-profit private security firm to run?  That further criminalizes the homeless folks who are staying there.”

An action program

Good times in the pokey.
Good times in the pokey.
Outlining what he would do if he were sheriff, Wright went on, “The first thing would be to issue a moratorium on all foreclosures and evictions.  Currently, there are evictions here which are completely illegal and which the sheriff’s department is complicit in.  There are homeless folks staying in hotels who are routinely thrown out without an actual eviction process.  Florida law states that if someone is staying in a hotel and they’re not a tourist, it’s their only place to live, then there has to be a three-day eviction process, you can’t just throw people out.  But that doesn’t stop Gualtieri.
“The Tampa Bay area has the highest rate of homelessness in the country with 25,000 official homeless,” Wright pointed out.  “Over 8,000 of them are in Pinellas County, a third of them are veterans.  And we’re just talking about official statistics.  The homeless are not always visible.  The majority of them work — 40% of the homeless work full-time jobs, but they don’t make enough to make ends meet.  You don’t see them because they are trying to keep themselves invisible, so they won’t be harangued or harassed.  Maybe five or six band together to share a hotel room.  They go out to try to get day labor, try to get sent out, and if one of them does get a job, they survive one more day.
“The fastest growing rate of homelessness is with women with children,” Wright said, “but they’re not as visible because they have to hide, they’re so afraid of losing their children, because the state takes children away from their mothers simply for being homeless, again criminalizing poor people.  I would completely overhaul Child Protective Services, which the sheriff manages.  I would set up a civilian review board made of parents who have been victims of the Child Protective and Foster Care system, or have been involved with it in the past.  And I would make sure that the review board had teeth.
“Then I would of course decriminalize marijuana.  I can’t change the laws, but I would have the power to minimize and eliminate most arrests for it.
“The handling of our jails is a disgrace,” Wright stated.  “Again, I would immediately createa civilian review board for the jail system.  I would immediately demand psychological testing of all the guards.  Any time a guard was involved in abuse and brutality, like in the recent case of an African-American named Omar, those guards wouldn’t just be fired.  They would face criminal charges of assault and attempted murder and they’d be prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law.  And I would turn over the Safe Harbor shelter to a committee organized by homeless and formerly homeless individuals.  It would be self-managed.  Social Service agencies would network with Safe Harbor, and I would make sure the sheriff’s guards stayed away.”

“A Militarized Occupying Force”

Wright holds a doctorate in Ministry and a Master’s degree in Pastoral Psychology.  He is a licensed addictions counselor and a licensed domestic violence counselor, as well as being a Baptist Pastor and Director of Refuge Ministries in St. Petersburg.  As a long-time activist, a former homeless person himself, a poet and a musician, Wright has much to say about his general approach.  Responding to the fact that St. Petersburg has the highest level of violent crime in Florida, he related, “That doesn’t surprise me, because how the police choose to operate is violent themselves.  The police are violent, the police are aggressive, when your philosophy is one of police containment and police repression, when the police are militarized, that doesn’t decrease violent crime.  It’s never done that.  The states that are the strictest in their law enforcement and punishment, like Florida and Texas, have the highest rates of crime.
“St. Pete had a major riot in 1996 over the police murdering a Black youth,” he recalled.  “The state of race relations here was horrible then, and it is horrible now.  The policy is still containment, aggressive force.  The police forces do not have adequate racial balance.  They don’t live in the communities they police, they don’t do neighborhood policing.  Instead, they are a militarized occupying force.  They are not about protecting and serving, they are about harassing and haranguing.  This is not the community building we need.
“The officials have nothing to say about removing the causes of violence,” Wright charged.  “The answer is not police containment, it’s economic development.  Of and led by the people impacted.  That is the only answer.”

Being Green

Bruce Wright.
Wright is extremely proud of his role in the Green Party, and his being a member of Green Party 2012 presidential candidate Jill Stein’s Green Shadow Cabinet.  “Being their General Welfare representative connects very well with my being the Green Shadow Sheriff here.  General welfare has to do with what is good for society, what makes for a healthy society, what makes for a healthy community.  At the core of that is how people are treated.  And the sheriff’s office has enormous impact on that, in our everyday lives.  The Green Party has been perceived as a bunch of tree-huggers,” he observed, “but nothing could be further from the truth.  Our party has a 10-point platform, and it has the Green New Deal.  It addresses not just ecology and sustainability and the environment, but fundamental economic issues.  It addresses civil liberties, war and peace issues.  And it is deeply committed to ending poverty.  Ending homelessness.  Ending racism, ending sexism.  Not only is the Green Party committed to these ideals.  We offer solutions, based on truly empowering the American people.
“We have to expand this Green Shadow movement,” Wright concluded.  “It’s a great idea.  At every level of government in this county, there is corruption, and cronyism.  Most of the county commission and the city governments are in the back pockets of developers and the Chamber of Commerce.  They are not representing the people.  So my becoming your Green Shadow Sheriff is one step in us beginning to take back our city and take back our county.  And we need to expand this Shadow movement to every county in the state!” 

See more at: http://www.flwestcoastgreens.org

09 June 2013



Tampa, Florida
June 10, 2013

Homeowners are alarmed over plans now afoot to drill and frack a 13,900-feet deep exploratory well within 1,000 feet of their residences in the Golden Gate Community outside of Naples, Florida.  Residents living within a square mile of the intended site first learned about this when they received a frightening notice from a company called Total Safety, Inc., requesting emergency contact information from each household so they could formulate an evacuation plan in the event of an explosion or a toxic chemical release.

“Total Safety” had been hired by the Dan A. Hughes Company, which had recently signed a leasing agreement from the Collier family, which owns the mineral rights to this massive onshore oil reserve known as the Sunniland Trend.  The Trend stretches from Ft. Myers to Miami and intersects one of the most pristine protected preserves and natural areas in the nation, the beloved Everglades.

“Transparency is key to a government by and for the people,” stated Anita Stewart, Co-chair of the Green Party of Florida.  “They have been planning this and getting their permits for months now, all in secret.  Then they spring it on people as they are ready to start drilling.”

Residents have organized an emergency grassroots effort to stop the drilling and fracking before it begins, and to shut down permitting process. They have planned an Emergency Town Hall Meeting for Tuesday, June 11, 2013 at 5PM and have created a website called Preserve Our Paradise, a Facebook page, and a petition on Change.org. 

Organizer Joe D. Mule stated that while the permit does not mention activities consistent with hydraulic fracturing or “fracking,” the toxic chemicals routinely used are probably the same or similar to what will be used at the planned site, and they are kept secret under the guise of proprietary restrictions. The end result will be the same — illness and death, the die-off of flora and fauna, and the poisoning of our air, soil and water.

From the Platform of the Green Party of the United States:  “We believe that no one — including people of color and the poor — should be poisoned nor subjected to harmful levels of toxic chemicals and that no group of people should bear a disproportionate share of the pollution from industrial, governmental and commercial sources or policies…Uphold the precautionary principle, requiring polluters to bear the burden of proof in demonstrating the safety of their practices. Expand the application of the precautionary principle from chemicals and health to land use, waste, energy, food policy and local economic development...Facilitate procedural justice, ensuring the public's right to know. Ensure rules and regulations are transparent to help communities employ their rights and participate in decision-making. Provide information in languages appropriate to the affected communities.”

The Green Party of Florida calls for an immediate switch to alternative sources of energy such as Solar, Wind, and Geothermal.

Floridians Alarmed as Industry Signals Desire to “Frack” and Drill Populated Areas by Sayer Ji:
For more information listen to the Wise Women Media archived broadcast from June 7, 2013:
Facebook Event Page for Emergency Town Hall Meeting on Tuesday, June 11, 2013 at 5PM:

West Coast Greens of Florida
Green Party of the United States

Anita Stewart
Co-Chair of the Green Party of Florida


(647 words)

01 June 2013


HB 87 Puts Florida Homeowners in Trouble and at the Mercy of the Banks
Tampa, Florida, USA
June 2, 2013

“This is deliberate, organized theft,” stated the Green Party of Florida’s Co-chair Anita Stewart, in response to the Banker’s Home Foreclosure Bill HB 87.  The measure, passed by the Florida state legislature and now awaiting the signature of Governor Rick Scott, would virtually eliminate the ability to depose the banks, and challenge the banks' allegations of ownership and mortgage status.  It would stand due process on its head by switching the burden of proof from plaintiff bankers to the homeowners being sued.

Foreclosure fraud has become a national scandal, and Florida has become the foreclosure capitol of the nation, with 103,000 foreclosures from April 2012 through March 2013 (CoreLogic), yet HB 87 would shield the banks from having to prove whether the bank even owns a loan, whether a loan has already been paid off, whether the homeowner actually owns anything, and whether the bank fraudulently inflated the payments due.

Floridians must demand that Governor Scott veto HB 87 by signing this petition, which states:  “The Foreclosure Act just passed on May 3rd was passed illegally and unconstitutionally. The House Civil Justice Committee passed the bill on Feb. 7th, before the Legislature was in session, contrary to Article III, Section 3 of Florida's Constitution.”

According to the platform of the Green Party of the United States, “We stand with consumers, who have been injured or defrauded by corporations and others, and support their efforts to redress the wrongs done to them.”  The platform also states:  “Greens believe the legal structure of the corporation is obsolete. At present, corporations are designed solely to generate profit. This legal imperative — profit above all else — is damaging our country and our planet in countless ways. We must change the legal design of corporations so that they generate profits, but not at the expense of the environment, human rights, public health, workers, or the communities in which the corporation operates.”

For more information, listen to the May 31, 2013 archived audio feed from WMNF-FM’s Radioactivity Program where Rob Lorei interviews special guest, Glenda Chauncy, a Home Foreclosure Activist and Paralegal:

Or check out the independent press:

West Coast Greens of Florida

Anita Stewart
Co-Chair of the Green Party of Florida

(459 words)