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Jan 1, 2019

REFLECTIONS. Water is the organizing element.

Bellingham Bay 2018
Today the theme for the #2minbcphotochallenge7 (please join in and pick up litter!) on Instagram is "reflections" which reminded me of the following column I wrote for the newsletter of the Hylebos wetlands 20+ years ago (the Hylebos basin drains to Commencement Bay on the Washington coast). It is interesting to reflect upon comparable present-day woes about air pollution, plastics in the oceans, and what we are doing to destroy our crops and drinking water. The non-humans are of course suffering greatly both as individuals and populations.


Water is the organizing element. An art instructor said about ancient art from Persia to China that always "water is the organizing element." That's an interesting point, because a stream or lake, oasis or fountain, so often holds a painting together as a composition. As in art, so in politics. Some say the long fighting in the "Middle East" is simply about water. The more comfortable societies have blossomed where water has been abundant and easy to tap. Water is the organizing element among people in a town too. Whether you're a thirsty soccer player or an avid gardener, water touches all lives and nourishes a quality of life for people and creatures that is reflective of its supply, health, and accessibility. When I was in college, I expected that trade would start up again sometime between the USA and China. I thought it would be smart if some Americans tried to learn Mandarin. I tried and thoroughly enjoyed trying! Currently there is trade going on. I feel we ought to put some brakes and shocks on this trend, though, by cautioning against unsustainable practices. These include, for example, mammoth city/highway construction in South China, heavy steel manufacturing polluting Shanghai's land and river, and a multitude of "affluenza" type projects that we are exporting without regard to consequences for the USA and China. Fifty timber companies are involved in the clear-cutting of Sumatra and the subsequent fire-setting. Even the protests of whole countries such as Malaysia didn't put a stop to it. There should have been a stop to it. More people need to be mindful and put some sense into things. There are researchers who are making headless frogs (from this, it will presumably develop that human body parts can be raised like livestock). There are researchers who are working to make pig hearts transplantable into humans. There are livestock farmers who want to supply the world. All these cloned sheep, pig factories, and other ventures will put a large strain on our land and rivers, and on our transportation systems. Recently I saw a video called "The Safety Secret." My employer owns this excellent 25-minute video which is available from American Media Incorporated (800-262-2557) for $485.- ($485!) It's an amusing tape pertaining to accident-prevention in the highway, office, industrial or home setting. It's pertinent to public safety, too. I recommend purchase of a video like this if a company, city staff, or individual can afford it, but if not, I'll go ahead and tell you that the secret is if people genuinely care, about themselves and others, then disasters can be prevented. Though delicate, there is still a beautiful natural area called the Hylebos Wetlands. Water filters through it. Water goes through the whole Puyallup Watershed onto the sea so that orcas can eat salmon and salmon can eat herring, so that rain can come down, so that ground may receive it and rivers and aquifers can rise. It's just amazing.

Dec 23, 2018

USA: message from Beto O'Rourke

----- Forwarded message ----
From: Beto O'Rourke <>
Date: Sat, Dec 22, 2018, 4:06 PM
Subject: Closed until further notice

The government of the greatest country the world has ever known, the wealthiest, most powerful nation on the planet: closed until further notice.
This shutdown – hundreds of thousands of our fellow Americans working without pay during the holidays, basic government functions no longer available to the taxpayers who fund them – didn't have to happen. The Senate passed a compromise government funding bill two days ago, 100–0. The men and women who can't agree on what to name a post office were able to unite and unanimously agree on how to fund the entire government.
But maybe it was intended to happen.
Maybe in the face of an investigation that seeks the facts surrounding allegations of collusion with a foreign government and obstruction of justice within our own government… as one aide after another pleads guilty… as the stock market tumbles… as men and women intent on keeping their dignity and their conscience flee his administration… perhaps the President calculates that by adding to the blizzard of bizarre behavior over the last two years and shutting down the government at Christmas, while his own party still controls each branch of it, the institutions that we need for our democracy to function (and to ensure no man is above the law) will be overwhelmed.
From a President who promised action, we got distraction.
But my concern for the country goes beyond the immediate pain and dysfunction that this shutdown will cause. Beyond even ensuring that this President is held accountable. What's happening now is part of a larger threat to us all.
If our institutions no longer work, if we no longer have faith in them, if there's no way to count on government even functioning (three shutdowns this year alone), then perhaps ultimately we become open to something else. Whatever we choose to call it, whether we openly acknowledge it at all, my fear is that we will choose certainty, strength and predictability over this constant dysfunction, even if it comes at the price of our democracy (the press; the ballot box; the courts; congress and representative government).
If there were ever a man to exploit this precarious moment for our country and our form of government, it's Trump. Sending 5,400 troops to U.S. border communities during the midterm elections. Organizing Border Patrol "crowd control" exercises in El Paso on election day. Defying our laws by taking children from their parents, keeping kids in tent camps, turning back refugees at our ports. Calling the press "the enemy of the people" and celebrating violence against members of the media. Pitting Americans against each other based on race and religion and immigration status. Inviting us to hate openly, to call Mexican immigrants rapists and criminals, to call asylum seekers animals, to describe Klansmen and neo-Nazis as very fine people. Seeking to disenfranchise fellow Americans with made up fears of voter fraud. Isolating us from the other great democracies as he cozies up to dictators and thugs. Lying again and again. Making a mockery of the United States – once the indispensable nation, the hope of mankind.
So we can engage in the immediate fights about blame for this latest shutdown… fall into his arguments about a wall, or steel slats, at a time of record border security and in the face of asylum seekers – our neighbors – fleeing the deadliest countries in the world… we can respond to his name-calling and grotesque, bizarre behavior… or we can pull up, look back at this moment from the future and see exactly what is happening to our country.
We are at risk of losing those things that make us special, unique, exceptional, those things that make us the destination for people the world over, looking for a better life and fleeing countries who lack our institutions, our rule of law, our stability.
If ever there was a time to put country over party it is now. This is not about a wall, it's not about border security, it's not about Democrats and Republicans. It's about the future of our country – whether our children and grandchildren will thank us or blame us. Whether we will lose what was fought for, made more perfect, by the men and women who risked and lost their lives at Antietam, on Omaha beach, in Jackson, Mississippi… whether we will be defined by greatness and ambition or pettiness and fear. Whether we will continue to live in the world's greatest democracy, or something else.
In the short term – let's pass the funding bill that was agreed to by the Senate 100–0 just a few days ago. Send it to the President with the confidence that we represent the people of this country and that we are willing to override his veto if he cannot respect their will. Show that government can work, that we can see past our immediate differences to serve the greater good. To put country over party. To put country over one man. To do what we were sent here to do.
In the longer term – we must strengthen all of our institutions at the very moment they are called into question. Some clear opportunities for Congress: Ensure that our representatives in government reject PAC money, corporate and special interest influence. Demand that they hold town halls in our communities, listen to and respond to their constituents. Show America that they are working for us and for no one else.
Take action on the most urgent issues of our day: climate change, healthcare, endless war, income inequality, immigration, the vibrancy of rural communities and inner cities, education and criminal justice reform. Define the goal in each area, build the coalition to achieve it, find the common ground (between parties, between branches of government), and move forward. Prove that our system of government – whatever its problems – is still the best thing under the sun.
It's action vs. distraction. One will save our democracy, the other will lead to its end.
- Beto

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Dec 13, 2018

USA: Together we can free democracy and human dignity from corporate domination

----- Forwarded message ----
From: Frances Moore Lappé for Corporate Accountability <>
Date: Thu, Dec 13, 2018 at 4:10 AM
Subject: Together we can free democracy and human dignity from corporate power

I wrote about Corporate Accountability, then known as Infact, in my book Diet for a Small Planet back in the 1970s, and I've been a huge fan of their work since.
$60,148 raised    |     $100,000 goal
$60,148 raised $100,000 goal

We have all it takes right now to make real democracy possible in the U.S., a democracy in which we each have a rewarding part to play.

Real democracy is not only possible, it's achievable. I feel certain about that, but only as we work together to build our collective power. We're told that people across the U.S. are too "polarized" to come together, but there's tremendous unity in our outrage over the undermining of our democracy by corporate power and politicians beholden to big money.

Becoming a member of Corporate Accountability is a powerful way to help push back and create a democracy that answers to people.

When you make a gift right now, you'll directly contribute to sustaining the global movement to hold abusive corporations accountable.

And through December 31, every gift will be matched dollar-for-dollar, up to $100,000, by a small group of donors who believe in building a truly democratic world too. Will you help meet this challenge?

For more than 40 years, Corporate Accountability has taken on the most abusive corporations, starting with Nestlé, whose deceptive infant formula marketing practices were putting babies in peril. And they've won. I wrote about Corporate Accountability, then known as Infact, in my 1971 book "Diet for A Small Planet", and I've been a huge fan of their work since. Corporate Accountability continues to do some of the most valuable work in advancing justice and dignity for all. I love the way they harness people power to unflinchingly challenge powerful transnational corporations that distort democratic institutions.
Double your impact by donating to the Matching Gift Challenge now!
Just days ago, because of members just like you and me, a strong team from Corporate Accountability landed in Poland. As I write this, that team is organizing at the heart of vital climate treaty negotiations that are charting the future of our planet and so many people's lives. The Corporate Accountability team is there to organize for just solutions to climate change and to stop the dangerous schemes Big Polluters and their allies are promoting to protect their own profits -- at the expense of people and the planet. And they are making headlines and making headway in the face of widespread corporate interference.1

The Corporate Accountability team is in Poland for you and me. Let's be there for them by helping to power their work.

Join me in making a gift to support Corporate Accountability's ongoing work to make sure the promise of building real democracy doesn't take a back seat during this political moment. Remember, through December 31, every gift will be matched dollar-for-dollar, up to $100,000. Together, we will change the world. Join people just like you and me and donate today.
Frances Moore Lappé In gratitude,

Frances Moore Lappé
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1. The Nation: The Poland climate conference is awash in corporate meddling

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