The Eve Of Destruction

It is helpful to step back every once in awhile and try to look at the big picture. What we see when we look at the human species and the planet is not pretty.
Living organisms are programmed for survival. But the great paradox is that so many human activities are geared toward destruction. One of the most glaring example has to do with climate change.

There have always been naturalists and conservationists among us. I would consider them people who understand that our behavior has an effect on all other living matter around us. Their voices have been small and not very loud over the ages, yet they possess the knowledge that all of us need to help preserve the natural world that we live in. Humans have never given science the respect it is due and that attitude is proving destructive to everything we interact with.

In the 21st century it is not enough for there to be naturalists pointing the way because humans have become so arrogant and selfish that the only way they will move to change their behavior is if it effects their pocketbook or their selfish way of life.

Trumka & National AFL-CIO Back Off VT – No Action To Be Taken Against Vermont AFL-CIO For General Strike Vote

Today 6/29/21] I received a formal letter from National AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka. In the letter Trumka confirmed that the investigation against us for passing a General Strike Authorization Resolution has concluded and that he asserts we engaged in misconduct based on his (dubious) reading of national bylaws. Trumka also used the letter to attack us for developing a relationship of solidarity with the progressive rank & file caucuses within the non-AFL-CIO VSEA (Vermont State Workers United!) and NEA (Vermont School Workers Action Committee). But in the end, he stated that he would NOT take any disciplinary action against us at this time. This is a major win for Union democracy within the AFL-CIO, and the Vermont AFL-CIO is proud of our conduct, commitment to social justice Unionism, relationship building within the broader pro-Union left, and our fidelity to the defense of democracy. We may be one of the smallest and most rural States in the nation (with a population of just over 600,000), but here in Vermont our membership is growing and we are not afraid to lead. And lead we shall!

Life Out Of Balance

From this chart we see that in 10,000 BCE (12,000 years ago) wild animals comprised 100% of the total vertebrate biomass on this planet. Today, wild animals comprise only 4% — less biomass than the cats and dogs that we humans keep for pets. The world’s cattle now comprise a greater biomass than all other animal species combined. Now you can believe that methane from cattle can make a deadly difference.

Thugs, Politicians and Guns

I can’t stop being outraged at the lack of action by politicians on the issue of gun control. It would be easy to become insensitive to the daily reports of mass shootings in this country but every time I hear about one I become more and more depressed because I know that nothing will change in my lifetime, if ever.

This lack of action makes it clear that the U.S. political system is controlled by amoral, unethical and inhumane people. It is fueled by self-interest and the only time that things get done is when politicians think they can get more votes or more financial support in the next election.

Gun control is not about guns or mental health. It is about a failed political system.

The Future of Democracy: Brattleboro Democracy Forum With Nick Biddle, Tim Kipp and Friends

Nick says: A recent study of 75 nations with democratic governments in 1994 found that only 15 remain democratic. The rest (60) have turned into autocracies. Does democracy have a future?

A quadrennial report released last month by the National Intelligence Council, an advisory group to the eighteen intelligence agencies of the federal government (e.g. CIA, DEA, NSA, etc), is not optimistic. Using the report, titled “Global Trends, 2020-2040,” as a springboard, this session of the Democracy Forum will explore a prognosis for democracy’s future. Nick Biddle will open with a short presentation to which Tim Kipp will respond. General discussion will follow.

The meeting will be recorded and aired on BCTV and WVEW 107.7 FM.

iBrattleboro Contributor and Local AFL-CIO President David Van Deusen In Hot Water For November General Strike Vote

As a sometime reader of Counterpunch, I occasionally run across items of local interest. This time, it’s an article highlighting a voice iBrattleboro readers know well — Vermont-chapter AFL-CIO President David Van Deusen. Van Deusen has been posting articles on iBrattleboro about local labor issues, and I’ve always been surprised by how refreshingly “left” this union rep sounds — why he’s almost a firebrand! Which is why I was unsurprised to learn that not everyone finds his labor radicalism so appealing.

The article, entitled “Why is AFL-CIO So Worried About Its Vermont Affiliate?” details recent friction between Vermont’s local chapter of the AFL-CIO and the national leadership of the parent organization. It all stems from a local resolution to call for a general strike if there was any protracted attempt on the part of the Right to keep Trump in office illegally.

White Supremacy Culture –  What It Is And What To Do About It

Racism often refers to acts of overt, intentional prejudice and a social order that debases people of color while glorifying whiteness. But white supremacy is a systemic and structural phenomenon woven throughout our culture—rather than just the work of racist individuals who intentionally and maliciously discriminate. Our institutions and social practices themselves prop up white advantage and protect white communities, while making communities of color vulnerable to exploitation, domination, and violence.

What actions are needed to repair ourselves in order to identify and dismantle white supremacy culture? This discussion will incorporate the pre-session resources listed below. Click on the link or copy the URL into your search bar to have a look. General discussion will follow Mary’s presentation. Please take part.

No Hope For Reform

As the pandemic unfolded it became clear how dysfunctional the American health care system is. There was even talk among a wide range of people about the urgency for the need for systemic reform. Sadly, when legislators talk that way nothing usually happens. They recognize the problem, say something must be done and then move on to the next pressing issue. Anyone remember gun control?

This has been the case both nationally and on a state level. The Biden administration has done a few things that will tinker with the Affordable Care Act (ACA) to undo some of the damage that the previous administration did and make insurance a little more affordable for some people, but it is unlikely they will make any bold moves when it comes to health care reform.

Ten Years Since Fukushima

March 11 2021 marks ten years since Japan was hit by an earthquake and tsunami, destroying 85,000 homes and businesses. By 2021 the country could have rebuilt but for a disaster that continues today: the meltdown of three nuclear reactors in Fukushima, on the shore of the Pacific Ocean. The reactors were Mark 1 boiling water reactors, the same type and age as Vermont Yankee. Vermonters witnessed horrific stories coming from refugees in the Fukushima evacuation zone and beyond, reactors exploding and radioactivity filling the air, land, water and groundwater. All these tragedies continue in Japan today. In 2014, Vermont Yankee shut down; today, its 900 tons of nuclear waste remains on site, beside the Connecticut River.

Reverse Rummage Sale To Benefit Asylum Seekers

The Windham County Democratic Committee is looking for donations to its Reverse Rummage Sale to support families in the Community Asylum Seekers Project who are living in the area while they await asylum hearings.

The WCDC has set up a website with sign-up opportunities, including for two pickup trucks to gather and deliver the donated items the weekend of February 20-21 as well as a Spanish interpreter.

Other items on the list include kitchen bowls, small televisions, a bedroom dresser, twin bed frame, electric iron, blender for fruit juice, microwave oven, men’s winter gloves in size large, bed linens and mattress pad and four curtain panels in 63-inch length.

Round Up for Change January 2021

The Brattleboro Food Co-op is pleased to share that the SUSU commUNITY Farm was featured in January as the recipient of Round Up for Change. Customers chose to round up their purchases to the next dollar and contributed $5072.81 dollars in total to SUSU commUNITY Farm. We are so pleased to have such a generous customer base.  We have deep gratitude for their contribution. 

To Preserve What’s Left Of The Republic

If the U.S. Senate does not convict Trump in his second impeachment trial this country will no longer deserve respect from world leaders and countries that have a record of respecting the rule of law. That is no small thing. The alliances that this country needs to maintain in the worlds of commerce, banking, diplomacy and other critical areas will be weakened and possibly dissolved.

Politicians hold up the constitution as the guidebook for how this country should conduct itself. But if they do not make a criminal president accountable for his illegal acts while in office then the constitution will no longer dictate the standards for government.

Lock Him Up

The events of January 6 at the U.S. Capitol were inevitable. The stage was set years ago. When this country elected a mentally ill criminal to become president the drama intensified. As the weeks after the election unfolded I was sure that even Republicans would find a way to throw this madman under the bus and allow our country to move on quickly from its biggest mistake.

Instead, what happened was a four year period of enabling Trump to become intoxicated with power and providing him the license to do whatever he wanted. The Washington Republicans are mostly to blame, but both parties have proven to be too tame in their treatment of an incompetent and dangerous president and that is why things have finally gotten out of control.

A New Bill, Another Slap In The Face

The elite American ruling class, aka Congress, has once again proven that they do not understand or respect the hardship that a majority of Americans are experiencing. They are also making it clear that they are only willing to offer crumbs to a starving population.

The most recent stimulus package that just passed after months of political posturing is a slap in the face to most Americans. It provides a one-time check of $600 to people whose income is below $75,000. The people who crafted this legislation have no idea what $600 buys in the real world. I suspect most of them never shop for their own necessities, never clean their own houses and could not tell you what a gallon of milk, a gallon of heating oil or a package of toilet paper costs.

New Year’s Resolution: Volunteer with Youth Services’ Court Diversion

Youth Services is seeking volunteers to serve on its Court Diversion panels in the New Year.  Court Diversion is a voluntary, confidential alternative to court proceedings for certain juveniles and adult cases referred to Court Diversion on an individual basis by the State’s Attorney’s Office.

According to Sally Struble, Youth Services’ Director of Restorative Justice Programs, its underlying intent is to repair harm that is caused by the crime and to address underlying conditions that led to the offense. Youth Services relies on community volunteers to represent community values to hold the person who offended accountable for his or her conduct.

Next Steps for a Damaged Republic

It would have been comforting to have Trump out of our minds in the last few months of his reign of chaos, but egomaniacs such as he do not move on graciously. We will continue to be enveloped with the shroud of madness until January 20 and that is a disgrace for America.

It eases the pain of the last four years for many of us that Biden and Harris were elected by a five million vote margin. We can look forward to January 21, 2021 when this country will no longer be governed by tweets and when division and rancor will no longer be the tone from the White House.

But we also have to recognize the fact that over 72 million people voted for Trump. That means that this country remains deeply divided and it means that Biden will not be able to easily heal the wounds of the past four years simply by trying to be a nice guy who says he wants to be the President for all Americans.

The Long Winter Ahead

When the pandemic started to take over our lives the spring season of growth and rebirth was providing us with some positive energy. As bad as things seemed, many were able to adapt to a life outdoors making the best of a bad situation.

If the federal government had made an effort to mount a unified response to the pandemic we would now be able to hunker down for the winter with the hope that the spread of the virus was controlled to some degree. Instead, the virus is out of control and the number of new cases continues to climb every day.

Interview with Brattleboro Town Clerk

Elliott Greenblott interviews Hilary Francis, Brattleboro Town Clerk about the voting in this year’s election.

Remember to vote ~ Make your vote count ~ Follow the instructions

The Other Pandemic

When people in power continually lie and rule with bluster and bullying instead of with intelligence and compassion we all suffer. If these kinds of bad apples are in our neighborhood or in the sphere of our daily life we can try to keep away from such a toxic individuals. We know that keeping away from them is the best thing we can do to preserve our mental health.

But when that person is the President of the United States it is nearly impossible not to be affected by the toxic atmosphere that is constantly being created. It seems that when such high level power brokers do so many bad things they create a juggernaut of a unique kind of disease that feeds on itself and that grows in intensity. Their behavior feeds a beast of never-ending chaos.

A new kind of political epidemic is poisoning the entire world. The coronavirus is a physical threat and this new political virus is quickly harming the mental health of people all around the world. Trump is not the only bad player who is spreading this virus, but he has given greater legitimacy to other world leaders who are trying to solidify their power bases by building a world of lies with their own version of bluster and bullying.