Tuesday, January 31, 2006

"Dockworkers' Union Calls for Cleaner Air Seaports" (Randal C. Archibold)

The effort to reduce smog stemming from seaports, among the biggest polluters in the nation, gained an ally on Monday when the union representing thousands of West Coast dockworkers promised to help significantly reduce toxic emissions.
The union, the International Longshore and Warehouse Union, representing 60,000 dockworkers from San Diego to Seattle, called for a one-fifth reduction in emissions by 2010 and said it would push carriers to adopt less-polluting technology on their ships.
The announcement, at a conference here of state and local officials examining the problem, reflected a growing concern that the sharp increase in shipping on the West Coast, fueled by the boom in Asian imports in the past decade, has come at a heavy cost.
About 40 percent of the nation's cargo passes through ports here and in Los Angeles next door, which combined are the busiest in the country. Several recent studies have linked port pollution -- chiefly from diesel fumes given off by the ships and the trucks and trains carrying goods to and from them -- with smog, cancer, asthma and other health problems in nearby communities.

The above is from Randal C. Archibold's "Dockworkers' Union Calls for Cleaner Air at Seaports"
in this morning's New York Times. Rachel noted it and it's worth noting. While the union focuses on cleaner air, the government focuses on more pollution. From the Associated Press reports "New Deal Eases Fines for Farms That Pollute:"

The Bush administration will exempt thousands of farms that raise poultry, cattle and hogs from heavy fines for fouling the air and water with animal excrement in exchange for data to help curb future pollution.
The Environmental Protection Agency has signed agreements with 2,681 animal feeding operations in the egg, chicken, turkey, dairy and hog industries. They would be exempt from having to pay potential fines of up to $27,500 a day for violations either in the past or over the next four years.

Want to feel like you wasted an hour of time that you could have been spleeping? Use that time to transcribe from a tape only to come across Mia's highlight this morning. Michael Ratner's "Tomorrow is Today: the Time for Resistance is Now" (CounterPunch). On the plus side, it was a chance to listen again (transcribing) and I feel like I know the speech by heart now. (One worth knowing.) But Mia, where was your e-mail Monday night when I was working on the transcription? (I'm joking.) Mia had two sections she wanted noted, and we're going with one. The other one is the one I was working on because Ruth wants to use it in her upcoming report (posts tomorrow). So here's a sample of Ratner, speaking truth, speaking reality:

I want to say a few words about one aspect of the current period that is extremely frightening-- Probably the most frightening development, although it does have roots in prior administrations. The short hand for the expression of this period and the scare and fear that I feel is, "The king can do no wrong" or the word might be tyranny, police state or dictatorship. I recall that after 9/11, within a few months afterwards, I wrote an article. It was entitled, "Moving toward a police state - or have we arrived?" And I remember being nervous about it because this was pretty aggressive to be saying a few months after 9/11. Was I going to get trashed for it? Did it really reflect reality? I wasn't sure. I had some evidence in front of me. I had the Patriot Act. I had internal detentions. I had the President's military order that allows him to pick up people anywhere in the world and detain them in Guantánamo or elsewhere. But I still was only willing to say 'moving toward a police state', not have 'we arrived'. And a police state to me is one where authority is not under law, where the legislature is overridden, and where our courts are ignored. It is a state where one can be jailed without a court proceeding or trial and where the president, king or what have you, can do as he pleases - wire tap, torture, and disappear people. Unfortunately, and dangerously that is the situation we are in today.
You are familiar with much of the evidence, some of which I have laid out, some of which the next two days will address. There is however one piece of important evidence I want to bring to your attention. It shows that the president, their president, not our president, is open and notorious about his aims, public if you will; and if you miss what we are being told you have to be an ostrich with your head in the ground. What the President has done is basically lay the plan for what has to be called a coup-d'etat in America. It is a small paragraph and it's contained in what is called a 'signing statement.' It was signed on December 30th and it's the signing statement to what is called the McCain amendment. You probably all remember the McCain amendment. That's the amendment that prohibits cruel, inhuman, and degrading treatment, or supposedly prohibits it. The president as you recall, resisted the McCain amendment. But in the end he had to sign it because it was part of a broader military authorization to pay for what we're doing in Iraq. When a president signs legislation, he sometimes and, more recently with President Bush, almost always, issues a signing statement as to what his understanding of the new law is. The president's statement on McCain is only one short paragraph. But it is historic. It is unprecedented. And if you're looking for the grab for power that allows you, permits you, compels you to call this administration a tyranny, it is that paragraph.
It makes three points and I'll paraphrase. First, speaking as the president, 'My authority as commander in chief allows me to do whatever I think is necessary in the war on terror including use torture. Second, the Commander in Chief cannot be checked by Congress. Third, the Commander in Chief cannot be checked by the courts.' There it is. There you have it. That boring stuff I learned as a junior high school student about checks and balances or about limited law or about authority under law - out the window. Gone. In other words, the republic and democracy is over. In Germany what did they call that? They called that the fuhrer's law. Why? Because the fuhrer was the law. That's what George Bush is saying here. George Bush is the law.
This assertion of power is so blatant so open, and so notorious, that it is finally shocking some people like former Vice President Gore to speak up. I'm sure many of you are familiar with what he said in his recent speech on Martin Luther King's birthday. "The President of the United State has been breaking the law repeatedly and persistently." He was referring to the NSA spying scandal. And then he went on to say, "A president who breaks the law is a threat to the very structure of our government." And then he said what that means to a Republic: "An executive who acts free of the will of Congress as this president says he can, or the check of the judiciary, as this president says he can, becomes the central threat that the founders sought to nullify in the Constitution." And then Gore quotes James Madison.to the effect that what President Bush has done is the very definition of "tyranny." So there you have it. It's not just us, its not just progressives, but even someone like former Vice President Gore is saying this government is the very definition of tyranny.
I believe that the president and this grab for power will be repudiated. But it will not just happen. The pendulum does not swing back automatically. It will take an aroused public and an aroused people. And so the question is really - where do we go from here? One place I can tell you not to go is: don't go to the Democrats in Washington.
I have to tell you I've have never in my life been kicked in the teeth as badly as I was on the Guantánamo cases when we were forced to take that issue to the Democrats in Washington. Now I'm just going say it here, there are a million reasons I can tell you don't go to Washington and the Democrats, but this one is called the Graham-Levin Bill. After we win the right to go court for the detainees at Guantánamo, and we win that in the Supreme Court, Republican Senator Graham and Democrat Senator Levin get together - and what do they decide to do a few weeks ago? But strip the courts of any jurisdiction to hear the Guantánamo cases. That's what they do - Democrats and Republicans together. And then they say you can use evidence from torture to keep those people in jail. Kicking us right in the teeth! Kicking the courts in the teeth. And sentencing the Guantanamo detainees to years more of Hell. And so if you think that we're going to get far by going there--to the Democrats, you've got it wrong. Lessons of history teach us that we don't move our leaders without the passion and the protest of the people.
I want to close with a sense of hope. It's been a rough four years, it's been a rough twenty years, and it's been a rough forty years since Dr. King spoke. But I want to close with a sense of hope. This administration is unraveling. There is a split in the elites. Gore is one of the best examples. Everywhere we see former administration officials speaking out. They realize the administration has gone too far. They want to save some remnant of democracy. We see indictments from Scooter Libby to Delay coming fast and furious. We see General Miller, responsible for torture in Guantánamo and Iraq, taking the 5th amendment essentially so he won't have to testify. We see General Sanchez, who was head of troops in Iraq, retiring without that 4th star. It's a real opening for us but it is not simply to go back to the normal. It's not simply to save a remnant of democracy. The malady is much deeper than that. We need a radical transformation of our society. My hopes for today and for the future are that the truth will arouse resistance and with resistance there will be some change. I mean resistance of every sort, mobilizing, protesting, disobeying and disobedience. And then again, when I was reading Dr. King's speech, the thought that he closed with, and that I want to close with, is that sometimes we can wait too long to take action. Or as Dr. King said, "you can be too late." And we, unless we act, may be too late.

I can't offer enough praise for this speech. I'm sure the audio is posted at the Bush Commission. As for our status, I've got three speeches transcribed (including Dahr Jamai's, Micah had asked that we be sure to note Dahr's). The e-mails I've been able to read (quickly) this morning are fine with the commission being the evening post. If you have an objection, weigh in before then.

The e-mail address for this site is common_ills@yahoo.com.