24 July 2013

PRESS RELEASE: The Green Party of Florida Supports the Dream Defenders and their Occupation of the State Capitol Building and Governor Rick Scott’s Offices




FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE:

Green Party of Florida
http://www.gpfl.org
Tampa, Florida
7/24/13

The Green Party of Florida Supports the Dream Defenders and their Occupation of the State Capitol Building and Governor Rick Scott’s Offices

The Green Party of Florida is calling for public support for the Dream Defenders, who have taken over the Florida State House Capitol Building and the office of Governor Rick Scott, in the wake of the Zimmerman verdict and in memory of Trayvon Martin. 

They are demanding that Scott call a special legislative session to repeal the Stand Your Ground Law. Scott met with them briefly, but stated, “I agree with the Task Force on Citizen Safety and Protection, which concurred with the law.” He instead called for a day of prayer.

The Dream Defenders say they are not leaving until such a session is called, and they will not be silenced, stopped or co-opted. They insist that they will speak for themselves, and that no one else can speak in their name, responding to the nationwide publicity that has sprung up around their action.

On July 23rd, 2013, the Dream Defenders announced that they would have their own “special session.” http://dreamdefenders.org/specialsession/. On July 24th, 2013, the Dream Defenders have announced a call in action. See more: http://dreamdefenders.org/callscott

Many others from around the state and the nation will join the Dream Defenders at the State Capital in Tallahassee for a National Day of Action on Friday, July 26th, 2013. 

The Dream Defenders, as a student and youth resistance movement want not only to overturn this racist law, but to prevent similar crimes in the future.  Their solutions include support for the Trayvon Martin Civil Rights Act, which demands:
  1. an end Racial Profiling;
  2. an end the School to Prison Pipeline;
  3. repealing of the Stand Your Ground law.
The Dream Defenders are a non-partisan alliance of students that has become a multiracial human rights organization. They state, “Dream Defenders will bring social change by training and organizing youth and students in nonviolent civil disobedience, civic engagement, and direct action while creating a sustainable network of youth and student leaders to take action and create real change in their communities. We fight the criminalization of our generation by directly confronting the sources, sponsors and supporters of it.”

Said Shahid Buttar, Director of Civil Rights Enforcement for the Green Shadow Cabinet, "The Dream Defenders have taken inspiring actions in Florida to force the mass injustices of our nation's criminal "justice" system to the front of the public agenda. Politicians have no business discussing new government programs, or issues as abstract as budget deficits, while our public agencies continue the doubly offensive project of consuming taxpayer dollars to abuse our rights. Creative non-violent tactics like these are the sort that birthed our democracy, secured every right that We the People enjoy today, and will once again win victories for everyday people over oppressive institutions."

Reverend Bruce Wright, a member of the National Green Shadow Cabinet, the Green Shadow Sheriff in Pinellas County, Florida and running for St. Petersburg, Florida’s Sheriff in 2016 and on the National Committee for the Poor People's Economic Human Rights Campaign said: “It is my position that Zimmerman is both guilty of murder and of violating the Civil Rights of Trayvon Martin, and for further justice to begin to happen for Trayvon's family, Zimmerman must be brought to Federal Court for Civil Rights violations. The Zimmerman "trial" that found him not guilty was a mockery of justice and Zimmerman is clearly a racist vigilante in the same vein as the vigilante slave patrols of the slavery period and immediate post-slavery period of the United States. And lastly, it is clear that the so called "Stand Your Ground" law is dangerous and has racist underpinnings and must be overturned immediately.”

The Co-chair of the Green Party of Florida, Steve Showen said: “Stand Your Ground is inherently dangerous because it exacerbates the potential for gun related violence, and is particularly egregious because there is no standard for applying it fairly and equally. It has been interpreted in Florida in two wildly different ways, neither serving to protect people who were justified in standing their ground. In fact the law was turned against them. In two prominent cases, African Americans were deprived of life and liberty. One case resulted in the death of Trayvon Martin, an unarmed teenager walking home in his own neighborhood, and in the imprisonment of Marissa Alexander, who shot a warning shot into the wall of her home to defend against a self confessed violent ex spouse. If Stand Your Ground had been applied fairly, both Trayvon and Marissa certainly would have had the right to stand their ground against violent assailants. Unfortunately, in both cases Stand Your Ground has proven itself to be a tool in maintaining a racist culture. Stand Your Ground must absolutely go.”

In the Green Party’s 10 Key Values, item eight states: “We believe it is important to value cultural, ethnic, racial, sexual, religious and spiritual diversity, and to promote the development of respectful relationships across these lines. We believe that the many diverse elements of society should be reflected in our organizations and decision-making bodies, and we support the leadership of people who have been traditionally closed out of leadership roles.” Read more: http://www.gp.org/tenkey.php

The Green Party Platform states the following: “We support affirmative action to remedy discrimination, to protect constitutional rights and to provide equal opportunity under the law.” and “We condemn the practice of racial profiling by law enforcement agencies, which are guilty of stopping motorists, harassing individuals, or using unwarranted violence against suspects with no other justification than race or ethnic background.” Read more:http://www.gp.org/committees/platform/2012/social-justice.php

The Green Party of Florida supports the Dream Defenders in their courageous struggle and urges all to join them in their fight to repeal the Stand Your Ground Law, to work on ending racial profiling and to stop the school to prison pipeline.

See more:
http://www.dreamdefenders.org

References:
http://www.workers.org/2013/07/22/youth-occupy-florida-governors-office-to-demand-trayvon-martin-act/
http://tv.msnbc.com/2013/07/22/dream-defenders-arent-budging-from-gov-scotts-office/
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Nd7Ha5XtR0o&feature=share
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7rGw05TVwUk

West Coast Greens of Florida
http://floridawestcoastgreens.org/westCoast/2013/07/21/trayvon-is-still-dead/
(1,102 words)

17 July 2013

Green Party Statement on Trayvon Martin



GREEN PARTY OF THE UNITED STATES
http://www.gp.org

For Immediate Release:

Tuesday, July 16, 2013
This release is online at http://www.gp.org/index.php/newsroom/press-releases/details/4/632.html

Contacts:
Scott McLarty, Media Coordinator, 202-904-7614, mclarty@greens.org
Starlene Rankin, Media Coordinator, 916-995-3805, starlene@gp.org

The Green Party protests the Zimmerman acquittal and a justice system 'stacked against people of color and the poor'

---
* Greens support NAACP's call for civil rights charges against Zimmerman

* Green Party's 2013 Annual National Meeting in Iowa City, July 25-28: http://www.gp.org/meetings/Iowa2013
Schedule of events for media at the meeting: http://gp.org/index.php/newsroom/press-releases/details/4/631.html

* Green Shadow Cabinet: http://greenshadowcabinet.us
---

WASHINGTON, DC - Green Party leaders called the acquittal of George Zimmerman in the killing of Trayvon Martin a miscarriage of justice and part of a pattern of evidence that the U.S.  justice system is stacked against people of color and the poor.

"Underlying the acquittal and many of the arguments defending it is a racist assumption: that George Zimmerman had a right to defend his own life, but Trayvon Martin did not.  We support the NAACP's call for the Justice Department to file civil rights charges against Zimmerman, based on his violation of Trayvon Martin's most fundamental right - the right to life," said Darryl! L.C.  Moch, co-chair of the Green Party of the United States.  (NAACP petition: https://donate.naacp.org/page/s/doj-civil-rights-petition / ColorOfChange.org letter: http://act.colorofchange.org/signup/zimmerman_acquittal)

"There are uncertainties about what happened that night, but we know that George Zimmerman stalked Trayvon Martin and provoked a confrontation, ignoring a dispatcher's warning to stay in his car.  We know that Zimmerman was an armed adult with a long history of assaults and menacing behavior.  We know that Martin was an unarmed 17-year-old who stepped outside to buy snacks.  We know that police declined to hold Zimmerman and investigate the case for several weeks, which surely damaged the collection of evidence.  Somehow, this scenario got turned around in the courtroom so that it was made to look like it was Zimmerman who was acting in self-defense," added Mr. Moch.

Greens expressed strong support for the rallies taking place across the U.S. in protest of the case's outcome.

"For too many white Americans, a Black teenager in a hoodie can never be considered innocent and Black children are never considered 'our children' - an attitude that infects the administration of justice in the U.S.  The Zimmerman acquittal is a signal to Black parents that their children have no guarantee of safety and that the promise of life and liberty still doesn't apply to them," said Thomas Muhammad, co-chair of the Green Party Black Caucus (http://gp.org/caucuses/Black/index.php).

Greens noted that self-defense and "Stand Your Ground" statutes haven't been held valid in cases involving Black defendants, as in the 20-year sentence for Marissa Alexander for firing a warning shot when threatened by an abusive husband: (http://www.salon.com/2013/06/11/stand_your_ground_law_helps_white_defendants_a_lot_more_than_Black_ones/ / Petition for Ms.  Alexander: http://www.thepetitionsite.com/503/600/056/dont-imprison-marissa-alexander-for-standing-her-ground/).

"The outcome of this trial sets a dangerous precedent:  a Black teenager can be a victim of a hate crime, racially profiled, hunted down, stalked, killed and created into the perpetrator and criminal by the justice system.  And the murderer and perpetrator can be declared innocent and even be handed back the murder weapon by the courts and walk away with no accountability.  This is the systemic form of justice in this state and continues the open hunting season on Black men and boys in the state of Florida," said Anita Stewart, co-chair of the Green Party of Florida (http://www.gpfl.org).

The Green Party has repeatedly protested the U.S. criminal justice system and prison-industrial complex and has called for far-reaching reforms.  Greens said that the Zimmerman acquittal is part of the same systematic pattern that sends young Black, Brown, and poor Americans to prison en masse and that refuses to punish police for the extra-judicial killing of Black, Brown, and poor people.

The pattern includes mandatory sentencing, zero tolerance, abuses of the plea-bargain system, locking up minors in adult prisons, militarized civilian police forces, the War on Drugs, racial profiling, and wide racial disparities in sentencing that result in harsh punishment of people of color and poor on violations for which whites are not charged, or are acquitted, assigned community service, or given light sentences.  The pattern is especially evident in drug cases, which send hundreds of thousands of young Black, Brown, and poor Americans to prison for nonviolent offenses.

The Green Party has called for dismantling the for-profit prison system, which has established a financial incentive to fill up more cells with more inmates.  The prison-industrial complex is supported by both Democratic and Republican politicians and has grown exponentially regardless of which party occupies the White House or dominates Congress, thanks to the influence of lobbies from private prison firms and contractors.
"The U.S. now has the world's highest per-capita incarceration rate, with a growing prison-labor industry that replicates slavery and the worst aspects of Jim Crow.  The continuing destruction of lives and communities deserves as much public outrage and demand for action as the Zimmerman acquittal.  Until we address this national crisis, Attorney General Holder's promise of 'understanding, compassion, and truth' from the Obama Administration in response to the acquittal will ring hollow," said Sanda Everette, co-coordinator of the Green Party of California (http://www.cagreens.org).

See also:

"Shameful, heartbreaking Trayvon Martin verdict calls for action"
By Jill Stein and Cheri Honkala, 2012 Green national nominees, Green Shadow Cabinet, July 13, 2013

"Fruitvale, Trayvon Martin and the value of human life in America"
By Shamako Noble, Secretary of Culture, Green Shadow Cabinet, July 13, 2013

"Florida Guilty"
West Coast Greens (Florida), July 14, 2013

"Freedom Rider: If George Zimmerman Goes Free"
By Margaret Kimberley, Black Agenda Report, July 10, 2013

"1 Black Man Is Killed Every 28 Hours by Police or Vigilantes: America Is Perpetually at War with Its Own People.  From the war on drugs to the war on terror, law enforcement's battle against minorities serves as pacification."
By Adam Hudson, AlterNet, May 28, 2013


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15 July 2013

FLORIDA GUILTY by Jeff and Rose Roby


Florida Guilty

See this article on the original website linked here: 
http://floridawestcoastgreens.org/westCoast/2013/07/13/florida-on-trial/floridaGuilty
— submitted by Rose Roby and Jeff Roby
July 14, 2013
It’s not like we didn’t see it coming a mile away.  Yet the verdict is in, and here we are, silent and shocked.  Yes we’re outraged, yes we weep.  But there will be more outrages, they never end.  Our tears will dry.  And then what?
As Greens, we are used to being powerless.  Somehow, though, that is especially painful on this bloody morning after.  Yes, we saw it coming, but what could we have done?  More pertinent, what can we do now?  Green or not Green, what can any of us do now?
Should we protest?  Of course, not because these protests will change anything, but because sometimes such a statement of solidarity is part of our being human.  We know that these protests will become part of the kabuki dance that the media stages, Act 1:  the Outrage; Act 2:  the Protest; Act 3:  the politicians move in.  And then all is silence.  Our protest is absorbed, used to reaffirm that this is still a free country, even if Black youth cannot walk the streets after dark without being murdered.  Our protest is absorbed not because we are fools or dupes, but because we are weak.
We can give as good a cheerleading speech as anybody, that the people united can never be defeated, or more emphatically, THE PEOPLE UNITED CAN NEVER BE DEFEATED!  Masses gonna rise up this time, no, they really are.  But perhaps it would be better that we embrace our weakness, for it is there that we can find what strength we actually have.
That’s hard work.  Self-proclaimed revolutionaries spout, “Trayvon Martin’s death was the result of an imperialist system of colonialism that must be overthrown.”  We would agree.  But in making it so huge, it becomes untouchable, and the result is that all is silence.
The self-proclaimed realists argue that we have to think small, very small.  What can we attain in actual legislation, how can we align ourselves with moderately liberal politicians who play their own kabuki game to keep the reasonable left off the streets and out of trouble?  They’re like the barroom drunk who can’t wait to start throwing punches, but he counts on his friends (in this case the Republicans) to hold him back.  “I’ll get him next time, oh yes I will.”
Where are the Greens in all this?  We are independent in both name and in fact.  That gives us a shot at breaking out of the official script.
Which brings up the question of Stand Your Ground.  Bills which would effectively negate Stand Your Ground have been introduced into the Florida state legislature by State Senator Bullard Dwight (Senate Bill 362) and State Representative Bruce Antone (House Bill 331).  Of course, Dwight and Antone are liberal Democrats, and we in the Green Party are not liberal Democrats.  But as New York Knicks fan Spike Lee once put it, sometimes you have to “Do the Right Thing”!
These bills have stalled in the legislature, ostensibly because it is known that the Republicans will stop them cold.  Governor Rick Scott’s commission set up to review Stand Your Ground has recommended that they stand pat.  Perhaps there will be a renewed groundswell for these bills and others like them.  Will they stall out as “more realistic” Democrats sandbag them, citing Republican recalcitrance?  Who knows?  Who cares?
trayvonThe Green Party can field candidates for the legislature, in part, on the basis of supporting repeal of Stand Your Ground.  With half the seats going uncontested by either a Republican or a Democrat (see below), they are a point where the Green Party can have some impact, a crack in the system, as it were.  Where the Green Party can grow like a bright young weed poking up from a crack in the sidewalk.
For now, we weep as the Black community weeps, and as the neo-nazis and the Aryan nationalists and the Klan celebrate and drink themselves sick.  Tomorrow is another day.  For now, let us reflect first on the Twittered words of Trayvon’s mother Sybrina Fulton:
“Lord during my darkest hour I lean on you. You are all that I have. At the end of the day, GOD is still in control. Thank you all for your prayers and support. I will love you forever Trayvon!!! In the name of Jesus!!”
and his father Tracy Martin:
“God blessed Me & Sybrina with Tray and even in his death I know my baby proud of the FIGHT we along with all of you put up for him GOD BLESS.  Thanks to everyone who are with us and who will be with us [so] we together can make sure that this doesn’t happen again.  Even though I am broken hearted my faith is unshattered I WILL ALWAYS LOVE MY BABY TRAY”
and then the final verse of Bob Dylan’s “Lonesome Death of Hattie Carroll”:
In the courtroom of honor, the judge pounded his gavel
To show that all’s equal and that the courts are on the level
And that the strings in the books ain’t pulled and persuaded
And that even the nobles get properly handled
Once that the cops have chased after and caught ‘em
And that ladder of law has no top and no bottom
Stared at the person who killed for no reason
Who just happened to be feelin’ that way without warnin’
And he spoke through his cloak, most deep and distinguished
And handed out strongly, for penalty and repentance
William Zanzinger with a six-month sentence
Oh, but you who philosophize disgrace and criticize all fears
Bury the rag deep in your face
For now’s the time for your tears.
Below, we republish what we wrote on the case two weeks ago, as it seems more relevant than ever:

Florida on Trial

As the trial moves on, the State of Florida braces itself in this, only the latest episode in its dark “stand your ground” history.  Indeed, the Sunshine State has a horrendous history of racial violence, and once again the forces of racism are gearing up.  Zimmerman’s father Robert has written an e-book that claims, among other things, that the Congressional Black Caucus is a “pathetic, self-serving group of racists… advancing their purely racist agenda,” and that racism is “flourishing at the insistence of some in the African American Community.”  And the white supremacist movement has turned Robert Zimmerman and his son into some kind of heroes.
As commenters state on Stormfront.Org, a neo-Nazi site, “The minorities have the white population so scared all they have to do is talk about rioting and everyone hides under their desk. We need them to riot!  Let them riot when the riot starts we can put these animals down for good!”  And, “If it takes the Nigs getting so inflamed that a riot happens, then so be it. As long as the government realizes what happened, maybe all the death and mayhem they’ll cause will be worth it.”
The prestigious Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC) ranks Florida number three in the number of hate groups (with 59, behind Texas and California), mainly Klan, neo-Nazis, Skinheads and White Nationalists.  The Florida press paints a portrait of conspiracies, paramilitary training centers, Sovereign Citizens in shootouts with police, overt racial murders, cross burnings, death threats against judges and elected officials, attacks on abortion centers, and preparations for race war.
Per the SPLC, Neo-Nazis Plan Patrols in Florida in Wake of Trayvon Martin Shooting, “The National Socialist Movement says it is prepared for ‘racial violence’ in the Sanford [Florida] area, where the Martin shooting occurred, and that it has been ‘contacted by dozens of local citizens’ supposedly seeking protection.”

Stand Whose Ground?

rosewoodFlorida’s proud history includes the Ocoee Massacre in 1920, which saw the “single bloodiest day in modern American political history.”  Mose Norman, an African American, wanted to vote on election day, but the good people of Ocoee decided to “stand their ground,” and drove him away.  Norman returned with a shotgun but was again forced to flee.  Then the good white citizens ran amok, with Klan militia burning down every African-American church, schoolhouse and lodge room in the vicinity.  After an evening-long gunfight the residents were driven into the nearby orange groves and swamps, never to return.  Witnesses reported stepping over heaps of dead, both white and Black, as dozens of Black bodies were shoved into mass graves.
Then there was the infamous 1923 Rosewood Massacre, in which moonshine-crazed white paramilitary forces — falsely claiming a white woman had been raped (her white boyfriend had done it) — marched on the Black community seeking vengeance.  Murdering as they went, the mob was met by fierce gunfire, and after days of battle, dozens Black and white lay dead, the town was burned to the ground, and the survivors either fled through the swamps or were able to escape on a train sent by a friendly white businessman.
In neither case did the African-American community go down without a fight.  And racial turmoil and resistance have continued to this day.  Tampa saw riots in 1967, the year they burned down Detroit, in 1987 over the police murder of Black mentally-handicapped man, in 1989 over another killing at the hands of the police, and again in 1992 during the so-called Rodney King riots.
Miami burned in 1980, with 3,500 National Guardsmen restoring order after 17 had died.  In 1982 and 1989, Miami burned again and again.

The Community Stands Its Ground!

St. Petersburg saw serious rioting in 1996 when officer James Knight shot and killed a Black teenager, Tyron Lewis, who failed to exit his car fast enough during a traffic stop.  This was followed by a night of resistance.
According to UhuruNews, on November 13, 1996, it was expected that the white officer would be acquitted, “In order to ‘brace itself’ for the African community’s response to the verdict, the city government decided to launch a preemptive strike against the Uhuru Movement and the masses of people.  Prior to the November 13 meeting, police arrested leading members of the Uhuru Movement in anticipation of the verdict to prevent their leadership presence on the streets.
“As the meeting unfolded, people discussed the community’s political response to the verdict. That process was interrupted by an announcement from police who had assembled a battle group of 300 troops outside the doors of the Uhuru House. Over a loudspeaker, a commanding officer declared that the regular meeting of the organization was now an unlawful assembly and that the occupants — which included men, women and children of all ages — had five minutes to leave the building.  Thirty seconds later, police began to launch every canister of tear gas they held in the city armory at the Uhuru House. The canisters were also used as incendiary devices to set fires in trees close to the building in an effort to burn the two story structure to the ground.”
UhuruNews continues, “As the police began to move in, members of the community could be seen running out of their homes with buckets of water to extinguish the fires that the police set around the Uhuru House. At the same time, from unknown positions, Africans began to open fire at police troops in an effort to force their retreat.”

A Bipartisan Team

A frequent question from folks up North is, “When there’s really weird stuff in the news, why is it always happening in Florida?”
license
License to kill.
That’s a very good question.  The people of Florida are decent people, a mixture of good and bad, like everywhere else.  In fact, a majority voted for Barack Obama in 2012, an indication that they are not as a whole driven by racism.  Still, the politics of the state are savage, right wing, murderous in their meager funding of social services, vicious in the suppression of voting rights.  Governor Rick Scott brazenly flouts the nation’s own election laws.  Yet Florida should be at least a liberal state, so why are its politics so reactionary?  Why?
Well, it’s been a thoroughly bipartisan effort.  While the Democrats solemnly tut-tut about racism, they divvy up the state legislature between themselves and the Republicans.  Over half the seats in the Florida House of Representatives featured either a Democrat unopposed by a Republican or vice versa, and 15 of the 40 Florida Senate seats were similarly unopposed by a major party candidate.  This is the state where in 2000 the Democrats let mobs of white-collar thugs literally steal the presidency of the United States.  Characters like Democratic Senator Bill Nelson collaborate across the aisle and the Republicans hack away unopposed against essential services.  And poor people, in the slums of Miami and the trailer parks of Pasco County and the blueberry fields of Alachua — Black and white alike — live their lives of quiet desperation.
It was a source of amusement when a Florida House member introduced a bill to have the state put out license plates adorned with the Confederate flag, the proceeds to benefit “educational programs run by Sons of Confederate Veterans.”  But these pranks are serious business.  As the Hernando Heckler writes, “Our weapon of choice in this ‘Culture War’ will not be a musket, assault rifle, cannon, or cavalry, and will instead be money, heritage, history, culture, and with our youth … Instead of hand to hand combat we will fight the Yankees on the roads by proudly displaying Southern symbols on our vehicles for all to see, we will wear Southern flags on our lapels while in church or at the office.”
So everyone respects our “rich southern heritage,” and the “Stars and Bars” fly proudly from the antennas of pickup trucks and front porches.  And this rich southern culture provides the sea in which the white supremacists can safely swim.  It tells the Klan and the Nazis and the skinheads that, as long as they don’t go around shooting too many people in public, they have free reign to strut their stuff.  We get the message.  For as long as this far right wing is able to operate out in the open, all progressive activity in the state lives in fear.
That will not change without there being an independent alternative.

12 July 2013

BOOK REVIEW: MY CHEMICAL MOUNTAIN by Corina Vacco


My Chemical Mountain


A review by Culture’s Child
“We live by the best landfill ever.  I flipped my dirt bike there once.
Plus I’ve got a sketchbook full of uranium monsters.
My friend Cornpup likes to show off the weird bumps on his back for a dollar.
And Charlie, he’ll drink red creek water on a dare.”
— from My Chemical Mountain by Corina Vacco


Frustration and fear are afoot in the nation, and all over the world, as people and planet face the results of corporate greed.  My Chemical Mountain (Random House 2013) is the first novel from prize-winning young Green author Corina Vacco, weaving together environmental and social issues in a novel that reaches beyond its Young Adult classification to all readers.  The journalistic reviews have been impressive.
She tells the story from the viewpoint of Jason, a teenage artist.  Jason and his two best friends from childhood share a love of their roots and their turf, as they discover that all is not well in their hometown.  During that transitional summer just before the Freshman year of high school, we learn how a rogue corporation can get away with literal murder, holding a dependent town in its grasp.  People suspect that they’re being poisoned, but where do they go?  To whom do they go?
This blue collar town’s livelihood is centered on the chemical plant where so many of them work, but housing values have plummeted due to the company’s secretive toxic dumping.  Having grown up living next to their “playground” landfill, each of the three boys chooses a different path of resistance, and a different way of coping.  Jason, the artist, channels his anger about his father’s “accidental” death by drawing toxic monsters and creating a mythology around their landfill.  William, nicknamed, Cornpup, is a tech genius who deals with his ill health by trying to reason logically with authorities.  Charlie, coming from a tumultuous home life, is the thrill seeking Golden Boy who takes a path of vigilante justice that comes with a price.
The characters are well developed, each with their foibles, as power players over shadow the kinder more gentle folk of the town, but the book steers clear of the usual cliches.  It reminds us that our world is a finite place with only so much fresh water, and such a fragile climate balance.  We’re reminded that we all must play our part in defending it.  “The truth will set you free” (Jesus of Nazareth) is probably the most valuable quotation ever and it’s been used in many circumstances.  As we carry on in this world, the best leaders, artists and authors give us that truth along with insight and hope.  The part that we can play, after reading this particular novel, is to share it and its truths with others.

Corina Vacco felt compelled to write about toxic towns after reading an article alleging that hundreds of thousands of children and teens throughout the United States attend schools built on or near dangerously polluted sites. She found the inspiration for this book while living in Western New York, where she heard teachers speak out against a landfill adjacent to an elementary school. A city girl, world traveler, and activist, Corina enjoys playing guitar, listening to the blues, and exploring the great outdoors. She lives in Berkeley, California, with her husband, who is a member of the Coast Guard, and their magnificent puddle-splashing, car-loving little boy. They share their home with one slightly  neurotic but very lovable Italian greyhound and a growing collection of books.




07 July 2013

Move to Amend by Jeff Roby


Posted on July 6, 2013 by Jeff Roby

Says the Supreme Court of the United States of America:  “Corporations are just like people, and have the same rights as people.”

Says Move to Amend leader David Cobb:  “No, they’re not!  We, the People of the United States of America, reject the U.S. Supreme Court’s ruling in Citizens United and other related cases, and we move to amend our Constitution to firmly establish that money is not speech, and that human beings, not corporations, are persons entitled to constitutional rights.”  Cobb, the Green Party presidential candidate in 2004, is currently a member of the Move to Amend Executive Committee, along with (among others) Ben Manski, the campaign manager for Jill Stein, the Green Party’s 2012 presidential candidate.  He was talking to a rapt audience in Tampa, Florida last February.  Cobb continued, “Maybe we ought to start thinking and acting like we’re in a crisis.  Do you know why I think we ought to start thinking and acting like we’re in a crisis?  Because we’re in a crisis!  This is a crisis right now!  It’s happening!  It’s an ecological crisis — worldwide.  It’s an economic crisis — worldwide.  It’s a social justice crisis — worldwide.”

Indeed, America faces a crisis, every bit as serious as the crisis over slavery that gripped the nation in 1860.  Slavery was protected by the U.S. Constitution established by our Founding Fathers (forget our Founding Mothers), and ending it took both a war and the 13th amendment.  Today, we are in bondage to the corporations, and amending the Constitution is one means of fighting to break those chains.
So Cobb was deadly serious.

The Words:
Section 1. [Artificial Entities Such as Corporations Do Not Have Constitutional Rights]
  • The rights protected by the Constitution of the United States are the rights of natural persons only.
  • Artificial entities established by the laws of any State, the United States, or any foreign state shall have no rights under this Constitution and are subject to regulation by the People, through Federal, State, or local law.
  • The privileges of artificial entities shall be determined by the People, through Federal, State, or local law, and shall not be construed to be inherent or inalienable.
Section 2. [Money is Not Free Speech]
  • Federal, State, and local government shall regulate, limit, or prohibit contributions and expenditures, including a candidate’s own contributions and expenditures, to ensure that all citizens, regardless of their economic status, have access to the political process, and that no person gains, as a result of their money, substantially more access or ability to influence in any way the election of any candidate for public office or any ballot measure.
  • Federal, State, and local government shall require that any permissible contributions and expenditures be publicly disclosed.
  • The judiciary shall not construe the spending of money to influence elections to be speech under the First Amendment.
The Organization
The MTA coalition did not even exist before the year 2010.  Yet Move to Amend has gotten 298,693 people (by last count) to sign a petition stating, “We, the People of the United States of America, reject the U.S. Supreme Court’s Citizens United ruling and other related cases, and move to amend our Constitution to firmly establish that money is not speech, and that human beings, not corporations, are persons entitled to constitutional rights.”  MTA has 175 local affiliates in 37 states, and some 5,000 organizations have endorsed its efforts.  It is especially significant that they have established progressive organization in such supposedly right-wing bastions as Alaska, Arizona, Colorado, Georgia, Iowa, Idaho, Indiana, Kansas, Kentucky, Minnesota, Missouri, Kansas, Montana, North Carolina, New Mexico, Nevada, Ohio, Oklahoma, Texas, Utah, Virginia, Wisconsin, and Wyoming.
Among its Florida affiliates are:
Broward County Move To Amend
MoveOn Council of South Palm Beach/North Broward
SouthWest Florida MTA
Move to Amend Gainesville
Move to Amend Palm Beach County
Move to Amend Bay County
Sarasota Alliance for Fair Elections (Partner Affiliate)
Awake Pinellas/Occupy St. Pete Elders (Partner Affiliate)
St. Petersburg Move to Amend
Move to Amend Tampa Bay
Citizens for an Engaged Electorate (Partner Affiliate)
Their strategy focuses on building grassroots support to pressure Congress to propose such an amendment.
Per the National Archives, “an amendment may be proposed … by the Congress with a two-thirds majority vote in both the House of Representatives and the Senate”  Then, “A proposed amendment becomes part of the Constitution as soon as it is ratified by three-fourths of the States (38 of 50 States).”  To this end, MTA has helped pass over 500 resolutions at the city and county level, and put the issue on the ballot in 25 jurisdictions.  These ballot resolutions have won every single time!
During the question and answer period at Cobb’s Tampa appearance, a Green Party member pointed out that there was a second way to amend the U.S. Constitution, “by a constitutional convention called for by two-thirds of the State legislatures.”  He noted that over half the seats in the Florida House of Representatives featured either a Democrat unopposed by a Republican or vice versa, and 15 of the 40 Florida Senate seats were similarly unopposed.  So Cobb was asked, how about the Green Party running for some of those uncontested seats on the basis of Move to Amend, stating that if elected, they would introduce into the Florida legislature a bill calling for such a convention?  And if they wanted to get mean, they could zero in on their opponent’s corporate funding?  Cobb’s response:  “I love it!  I don’t know what else to say.  It’s a brilliant strategy, and if I lived in Florida, I would support it.”

The Movement
After Cobb’s talk, West Coast Greens correspondent Mean Josephine Green interviewed him about the broader reach of Move to Amend.
Mean Josephine Green:  I’m interviewing you as both a leader of MTA and a senior citizen of the Green Party.  Why did you move your emphasis from the Green Party to Move to Amend?
Cobb:  I would not say that I’ve moved my emphasis at all.  The Green Party, at its very core, has four interconnected principles and values, the four pillars of the Green Party movement:  Ecology, Social Justice, Grassroots Democracy, and non-Violence.  Democracy is one of the pillars of the international Green movement.  The court-created legal doctrines that provide that corporations have constitutional rights and that money equals speech, have been the linchpins for how the ruling elite has prevented the United States of America from ever achieving democracy.  So I’m still doing the work I’ve always been doing.  I believe the Green Party is the electoral arm representing the growing movements that are spreading throughout this country.  But what’s amazing about MTA is that it transcends ideology and transcends political labels.  So I am a proud Green Party member, I am proud that there are so many Greens working on the MTA coalition, but let’s acknowledge that the MTA coalition is also inspiring and encouraging and benefiting from Democrats, and Republicans and Libertarians alike.
Green:  How do you see MTA developing roots in Black and Latino communities?
Cobb:  MTA has an intellectual understanding of the need to do that, and from the inception we have built it into our organizing.  As we barnstorm around the country, as do Ashley Sanders and several other people of color on behalf of MTA, at our regional convergences, we integrate training for white people in anti-racist organizing to help give white folks ways to step to and with communities of color.
Green:  Why should poor people get behind MTA?
Cobb:  The corporation as an instrument has been used to consolidate wealth, power and decision-making authority in this country.   Poor people are exploited and oppressed by the uber-wealthy who use the corporations to do that.  I personally come out of poverty, and poor people have got to recognize that it’s not just one bad corporation or one individual bad boss, but an entire economic system that is the problem.  MTA’s approach is systemic.  So when poor people and people of color join us, they can join us knowing that they are joining with colleagues who are with them in the struggle and committed to winning.  Not just complaining, but winning the kind of transformational change that is necessary in this country.
Green:  What would happen if MTA became law?
Cobb:  When MTA is ratified, it will signal the fact that there has been a decade of deep political educating and organizing of a mass movement that will usher in a completely different society.  You will see, for instance, a completely changed U.S. foreign policy no longer based on empire.  You will see a transition to clean, sustainable, alternative energy sources.  You will see the breakup of the concentrated media conglomerates.  You will see an explosion of local community radio and television.  You will see the use of mass transit across the country.  You will see a change in all the social institutions.   Frankly, you’ll also see a single-payer healthcare system, where healthcare is treated as a right, not a commodity for profit.  You’ll see living wages being paid.  You’ll see the U.S. out of NAFTA.  You’ll see that there is no such thing as the Trans-Pacific Partnership Agreement.  You’ll see a dismantling of the International Monetary Fund and the World Bank.  You’ll probably see at the very least an audit of the Federal Reserve. You’ll probably see a nationalization of the banks to democratize the money supply and the money systems.   You’ll see a blossoming of state banks and even city and community and county banks.  You’ll see basically non-violent, successful revolution in this country.
Move to Amend’s goals clearly extend far beyond legislation.  “We understand that it will take a non-violent, true Democracy Movement, based on inclusivity and empowerment for all, to achieve the goal of amending the Constitution,” explained Maria Agosto, member of the Move to Amend National Leadership Team also active with the Poor People’s Economic Human Rights Campaign.  Those who have longest been excluded are the ones who most intimately experience the jackboot of a broken Democracy.  They are the ones who have the most at stake and the ones who bring the wisdom of a most visceral and immediate experience to the table.  We must build a People’s Movement!

The next meeting of Move to Amend’s St. Petersburg affiliate will be held at 6:30 p.m. Sunday, July 14, at Genaro Coffee Co., 1047 Central Ave. near 10th Street in St. Petersburg.  For info about the St. Petersburg local of MTA, call (727) 612-6131.

03 July 2013

Save me, I’m going down for the third time! By Chris Eiler

— submitted by Chris Eiler3287-028
We are financially “going down for the third time” and we will drown unless we are thrown a life-ring.  Once, the Great Depression.  Twice, the 2008 global financial meltdown.  The third time, coming soon to a neighborhood near you!
“Everyone must have mandatory health insurance by October 1 2013.” Consumer Reports.
Now, along with mandatory car insurance, I get one more bill to drive me deeper in debt and further away from my American dream.
If you’ve been working for a company like mine, that has not only given no raises in the last five years but has actually cut everyone’s wages, you know this is bad news. Very, very bad news. Time to start my own business? Yeah, maybe that’s my ticket out of financial hell.  All I need to do is get a loan.  Wait a tick. I have no money and bad credit.  So I guess that won’t be happening.
The ObamaCare fiasco deepens as the White House’s has just announced a one-year delay in requiring businesses to offer health insurance to their employees or pay a penalty. The administration calls this a demonstration of its flexibility in listening to the concerns of businesses.  So the whole edifice is beginning to unravel.  There are supposed to be subsidies for the poor, and tax breaks for the working poor, limiting insurance costs to 9.5% of a family’s income, as though the working poor have that kind, or any kind, of money lying around.  But even eligibility for these meager subsidies is pegged to having “affordable” insurance options.  And with the employer mandate dead for another year, there is no way to determine what we working poor can afford because the government doesn’t know what is available.
All that remains is the mandate that we pay or else.
But Obama has inspired me (oh yes, it has), so I have a great idea for solving our nation’s problems.  When Obama was campaigning in 2008, he spoke out against the mandate, saying, “Well, if things were that easy, I could mandate everybody to buy a house, and that would solve the problem of homelessness. It doesn’t.”  So my solution for massive unemployment?  In the new spirit of Obamaism, why don’t we just require everyone to have a job, and throw them in jail if they don’t?  And lack of public transportation?  Require everyone to buy a bus!  Stop me please, I’m on a roll …
But really, the Green New Deal is looking better and better every minute.  At least then my taxes would be going towards something my family and I would benefit from.  It would forgive all student debt, create Green jobs for the unemployed, and provide free health care for all.  It would ensure free college education, make election day a national holiday, end corporate personhood, re-institute the Glass-Steagall act which regulated banking, eliminate the Patriot Act, and restore our rights of privacy, just for starters.  But because of the stranglehold the two party-system, this plan — put forward by Green Party presidential candidate Jill Stein and based on Franklin Roosevelt’s New Deal — was shut out of the 2012 presidential debates.
If the Green Party of the USA could only get some of these proposals on the table, and get them debated, then there might be a chance for civilization as we know it.  It is now up to the Greens, for the Democrats — the party of Roosevelt — have sold out and even outdone the Republicans in attacking the New Deal’s destruction.  Republicans and Democrats alike represent the multinational corporations which have taken over the world, our national policies, our banks and institutions as well as schools. Need I go on?
So let’s raise our political voices and take back our personal power.  Get involved in this grassroots party that accepts no corporate funding.  Let’s bring back the “3 Rs,” Relief, Recovery, and Reform:  Relief for the unemployed and poor; Recovery of the economy; and Reform of the financial system to prevent a repeat of the depression we are marching headlong towards.
If you think 2008′s financial meltdown was bad, watch Charles Ferguson’s documentary on the subject, “Inside Job”. The predatory lending, speculation and deregulation of the criminal Wall Street tools of the trade will make 2008 look like a ripple before the tsunami. Obama has appointed the same people that caused the meltdown to his cabinet after he was elected.  Business as usual?  Big business as usual!
Sometimes I think that the syndicate has taken over our country and we just don’t know it yet.  Well, to quote Edmund Burke, “The only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men to do nothing.”  Burke also said, “Those who don’t know history are destined to repeat it.”
I do not think Americanism, Socialism, Communism, Capitalism, or any other ism will save us. The most perfect political system can always be corrupted by dishonesty and cowardice.  As YouTube’s seecraig puts it, “Jill Stein teaches us about the importance of answering the Politics of Fear with the Politics of Courage and the combination of movement and electoral campaign to bring a functioning democracy.”
The musician Sting once said, “There is no political solution, we are spirits in a material world.”  But since I’m an agnostic, I have some difficulties processing that, no matter how nice it sounds, no matter how warm and fuzzy it makes me feel inside.  So I’ll stick with the political solution I think makes the most sense to me — the Green Party.
Time to have a garage sale and make some extra cash for October.  I’ll need it.  Good luck, and I hope to see you all at the next Green Party meeting if you live in Tampa, Florida. If not, I’ll be seeing you on Facebook!
Peace.  You make a difference!
P.S.  Blub blub gurgle gurgle