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Eisenhower’s Republican Platform

Fri ,30/10/2020

The National Republican Party did not adopt a new platform this year, so I thought I’d provide one from Eisenhower in 1956. The platform is rather long, but this is an accurate summary .

The modern Republican Party is an example of a party trying to hold power, rather than govern well. The party has molded itself to satisfy the religious right, the anti-science anti-intellectuals, the false conservatives, and the very wealthy. Unable to progress as the world changes, without offending those, the party leaders have taken the path of obstructionism.

It is a rather vicious cycle for Republicans. As moderates and progressives move away from the party, the extremist are more in control. That influence is seen most in the Republican primaries where the extremist and money interests can insert more influence to elect their candidates. It is tough to be an Eisenhower Republican these days.

It will never be 1956 again, but think where we might be today if the Republican Party had remained progressive. It is time for the Grand Old Party to become Grand again.

What is the Kansas Chamber of Commerce Hiding?

Tue ,27/10/2020

The answer is “the whole truth”. The Kansas Chamber of Commerce (KCC) is not like our local Chambers of Commerce. They trade on the Chamber’s good name, but their PAC functions as a lobbyist group for large corporations and those already wealthy. They not only lobby to influence state policies, but they work to remove Legislators who represent the best interests of all Kansans. If legislators do not vote for the interests of corporations and the wealthy, then the KCC tries to keep them from being reelected by using misleading ads and postcards that distort the truth. Alan Cobb, CEO of the Kansas Chamber of Commerce, recently explained how his organization decides who to endorse in political campaigns. He made the claim that their campaign efforts are 100% fact-based. That is not the whole truth, and in some cases it is an outright lie. Besides endorsements, the KCC sends out postcards that demonize the incumbent legislators they want to defeat. One of their most damaging postcards claims the targeted legislator voted to “retroactively raise our state taxes by $1.2 billion”. The card implies that, if reelected, they would vote to raise your taxes. That is wrong, but it is only part of the story.

That $1.2 billion tax increase, which passed in 2017, was deemed necessary by more than 2/3 of the Kansas Senate and 2/3 of the Kansas House. It was passed to correct earlier tax cuts which had devastated the state’s finances. The state would have gone broke unless it passed. Most of the Republican Leadership and many staunch Republicans voted for the bill. However the KCC is not targeting ALL the legislators who voted for the tax increase. They are selectively targeting the independent-minded incumbents who do not obediently go along with whatever the Chamber wants. They are also claiming that some of the targeted legislators voted for the 2017 tax increase – even though they were not in the Legislature in 2017. How is that possible?

Two of the Core Values listed by the KCC are to: > Be passionate about the economic growth of Kansas and its people. > Be ethical in all that the Chamber advocates for and does.

The KCC’s leaders have mastered the craft of appearing unbiased and truthful when they are not. And, they are not as passionate about the economic prosperity of all the people – as they are for that of the wealthy. Don’t be fooled! Whenever you see a campaign hit piece from them, ask yourself what the real story must be. And then consider voting for the person they are attacking. Kansas needs independent-minded legislators who are not influenced by special interest groups.

Though this is about Kansas Politics, the Chamber of Commerce in your state, and the National Chamber of Commerce, are likely functioning as lobbyists. Yor state and our nation need independent-minded legislators who will not be influenced by special interest groups.

Credit: Thanks to Don Hineman, past Republican Majority Leader, for some of the ideas and wording for the article.

Think Tanks: Why Kansas Has Bad Laws

Tue ,13/10/2020

Think tanks are a body of experts assembled  to provide ideas and advice on specific political or economic problems. The think tanks in the illustration have much in common. They are ideologically driven, funded by dark money, and they wish to reduce taxes and regulations on wealthy individuals and corporations. Combined, they spend over $1 billion a year to influence legislation and public policies.

One of their creations was the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC). ALEC is not just a lobby or a front group; it is much more powerful. Through ALEC, corporations hand state legislators their wish lists to benefit their bottom line. At ALEC meetings, corporate lobbyists and state Representatives* meet to approve “model” bills written by corporate lawyers. The model bills usually  have great sounding titles and may address a real problem, but they always grant something on the think tanks’ wish list.

The model bills are not useful unless they are passed into state laws. To do that, it is necessary to elect legislators who will favor corporate interests over those of the average citizen. In Kansas, Americans for Prosperity and the Kansas Chamber of Commerce have taken on that task. If legislators do not vote for bills in the interest of corporations and the wealthy, then these organizations try to make sure they are not reelected. They do this by dirty campaigning, with misleading ads, and postcards that distort the truth. They misquote targeted legislators, assigned them to positions they do not hold, photoshop unflattering pictures of them, and accused them of things they have never done. You may have received some of the postcards or seen some of the ads.

It has been ruled that telling political lies is protected speech, and there is little the attacked candidate can do about it. However, you can. VOTE for the candidate who will put your interests above those of the special interest groups.

*KS ALEC members: There are 47  ALEC members in the Kansas Legislature and some travel to ALEC meetings at state expense.They are listed below: 

KS House of Representatives

  • Rep. Tory Marie Arnberger (R-112), Attended 2019 ALEC Annual Meeting [1], registered member
  • Rep. John Barker (R-70), Attended 2019 ALEC Annual Meeting[1]State Chair,[2]Attended December 2014 Policy Summit at taxpayer expense[3], and attended 2015 ALEC Annual Meeting with taxpayers covering registration fee[4]
  • Rep. Emil Bergquist (R-91), Attended 2019 ALEC Annual Meeting[1]
  • Rep. Jesse Burris (R-82), registered member
  • Rep. Michael Capps (R-85), Attended 2019 ALEC Annual Meeting[1]
  • Rep. Blake Carpenter (R-81)registered member
  • Rep. Will Carpenter (R-75), Attended 2019 ALEC Annual Meeting[1]
  • Rep. Chris Croft (R-8), Attended 2019 ALEC Annual Meeting[1]
  • Rep. J.R. Claeys (R-69)[5][6]
  • Rep. Susan Concannon (R-107), Attended December 2014 Policy Summit at taxpayer expense[7]
  • Rep. Leo Delperdang (R-94), Attended 2019 ALEC Annual Meeting[1]registered member
  • Rep. Willie Dove (R-38), Attended December 2014 Policy Summit at taxpayer expense[8][6]
  • Rep. Renee Erickson (R-87), Attended 2019 ALEC Annual Meeting[1],[9][10]
  • Rep. Charlotte Esau (R-14), Attended 2019 ALEC Annual Meeting[1]
  • Rep. Randy Garber (R-62)[11]
  • Rep. Dan Hawkins (R-100), Attended 2019 ALEC Annual Meeting[1],[12] Attended December 2014 Policy Summit at taxpayer expense[13]Attended 2015 ALEC Annual Meeting with taxpayers covering registration fee[4]
  • Rep. Ron Highland (R-51), Attended 2019 ALEC Annual Meeting[1]Highland’s staffer Mary Sabatini attended ALEC’s 2017 Annual Meeting
  • Rep. Kyle Hoffman (R-116), paid ALEC membership February 2012[14] Attended December 2014 Policy Summit at taxpayer expense[15]
  • Rep. Nick Hoheisel (R-97), Attended 2019 ALEC Annual Meeting[1]
  • Rep. Steve Huebert (R-90)[16]Education Task Force[17]
  • Rep. Susan Humphries (R-99), Attended 2019 ALEC Annual Meeting[1]registered member
  • Rep. Megan Lynn (R-49), Attended 2019 ALEC Annual Meeting[1]
  • Rep. Stephen Owens (R-74), Attended 2019 ALEC Annual Meeting[1][9] [18]
  • Rep. John Resman (R-121), registered member
  • Rep. Ronald Ryckman Sr. (R-78), Attended 2019 ALEC Annual Meeting[1], attended 2011 ALEC Annual Meeting[19]. Attended December 2014 Policy Summit at taxpayer expense[20]
  • Rep. Alicia Straub (R-113), Attended 2019 ALEC Annual Meeting [1],
  • Rep. Joe Seiwert (R-101), Attended 2019 ALEC Annual Meeting[1]Communications and Technology Task Force[21]attended 2015 ALEC Annual Meeting with taxpayers covering registration fee[4]
  • Rep. William (Bill) Sutton (R-43), Attended 2019 ALEC Annual Meeting [1]registered member
  • Rep. Paul Waggoner (R-104), Attended 2019 ALEC Annual Meeting [1]
  • Rep. Troy Waymaster (R-109), Attended December 2014 Policy Summit at taxpayer expense[22]
  • Rep. Barbara Wasinger (R-11), Attended 2019 ALEC Annual Meeting [1],
  • Rep. Jene Vickrey (R-06), registered member

KS Senate

E. Calvin Beisner: Will a Carbon Tax Hurt the Poor?

Fri ,21/08/2020

In a recent article from the Cornwall Alliance, E. Calvin Beisner claims that a carbon tax will hurt the poor. Helping the poor is a common theme in his writings, but there is little evidence that he actually helps the poor – unless he is talking about the poor fossil fuel companies. A carbon tax would make fossil fuel companies pay for the damage they do to the environment which is something he wishes to avoid. If he actually wishes to help the poor, there is a better way. 

It is the poor who are hurt most by environmental damage. They suffer when the air they breathe and the water they drink is polluted. And, it is the indigenous people who have been hurt the most by climate change. The way of life that has sustained them for centuries is now being disrupted by climate change.  They do not have the resources to withstand prolonged droughts or protect themselves from sea level rise and flooding.

And, it is like E. Calvin Beisner to focus on the carbon tax without mentioning a much better alternative. A carbon fee and dividend system, as proposed by the Citizens’ Climate Lobby (CCL), will actually help the poor. The carbon fee and dividend proposal would initially collect a fee on carbon at the point it enters the economy, initially at $15 per ton of CO2. That fee would increase by $10 annually until its goals are achieved..  The carbon fee is not a tax as it would be rebated 100% percent back to each American household. 

The fee would initially increase the price of gasoline about 9 cents per gallon in the first year and about 6 cents each succeeding year. Other fuels will see a similar price increase. The rising energy costs would be offset by the carbon dividend which, for a family of four, would be about $30 per month the first year and grow to over $300 per month after 10 years. Families who reduce their fossil fuel use, or choose renewable energy, will be able to increase their disposable income by saving more of their dividend. The dividend would stimulate the growth of the economy, and the monthly dividend check would remind every family that they have a stake in reducing carbon emissions.

To see the effect of the carbon fee and dividend on the US economy, CCL commissioned a study by the nonpartisan research company, Regional Economic Models. The study found that the carbon fee and dividend approach would reduce the carbon emissions to 50 percent of the 1990 levels in just 20 years. During that time, it would add 2.1 million jobs to the American economy, increase the gross domestic product by $75 billion, and save 220,000 lives by reducing lung and heart diseases.

Though the dividend would go only to US households, the reduction in CO2 levels would slow climate change and reduce the damage to the environment throughout the world. And, that would help the poor everywhere. It is a proposal that E. Calvin Beisner should support.

Yet more about COVID – 19

Fri ,29/05/2020

Coronavirus: The image at the right is that of a coronavirus. They are a type of virus which causes common colds, but can also cause more serious diseases such as SARS, MERS, or COVID – 19. Of course you can’t see it as a virus is only about 0.025 µm in diameter, far smaller than the human eye can see even with the best optical microscope. In comparison, a fine human hair is about 40 µm in diameter. When people talk, cough, or sneeze they eject small droplets which vary greatly in size but the average is about 1 µm. Each small droplets can hold hundreds of thousands of viruses and the droplets can persist in the air for several hours.

This image is that of a coronavirus as taken by an electron microscope. The virus gets its name from the small structures on the surface which look like crowns. When the virus encounters a human cell, the crown attaches to the cell’s surface and injects its own RNA into the cell, which then takes over the cell mechanisms and produces copies of the virus. They eventually cause the cell to burst which can release up to 50,000 new viruses.

COVID-19 Virus: this is a new virus in humans which entered the population for the first time late last year. The virus cannot live long outside a human host, and the main vector for its transmission is those who travel to and from infected areas. We have little natural immunity to the virus and there is no proven treatment or vaccine for the virus. About 97% of those infected recover within 14 days, but particularly severe cases must be put on a ventilator to keep the patient breathing until the virus runs its course. The virus is most lethal for the elderly and those with compromised immune systems.

Symptoms: The symptoms of the virus are headaches, fever, pink itchy eyes, coughs, sneezes, sore throat, tightness in the chest, difficulty breathing, inflamed toes, and loss of smell or taste. The incubation period after exposure is from 5 to 14 days. People exposed may transmit the virus to others before they experience symptoms. However, some people with the virus may never have symptoms, yet still be able to transmit the virus to others.

Transmission: The virus is transmitted by direct contact between individuals from small droplets ejected when an infected person talks, coughs, or sneezes. The social distance of 6 feet is usually enough to prevent the virus being transmitted directly. However, small droplets from coughs or sneezes may travel much further than 6 feet and may contain hundreds of thousands of viruses. The droplets may persist in the air for several hours. They eventually settle on surfaces where the virus may live for up to several days, depending on the type of surface. For example, the virus is found to exist for a day on cardboard and up to three days on tile or plastic.

Infection: The virus infects a person by entering through their eyes, nose, or mouth. It may happen from being near an infected person, particularly if they are coughing or sneezing. Small droplets that settle on surfaces are transferred when you touch the surface and then it may infect you when you touch your face. Once on your hands, you will transfer the virus to everything else you touch until you wash your hands or kill the virus with hand sanitizer.

Precautions: The best precautions aim to keep the virus from being transmitted from person to person. From what we know about the virus, the following guidelines have been developed to keep it from spreading:

• Avoid close contact with people who are sick. Stay home as much as possible, particularly if you may be sick.
• Keep a social distance of at least 6 feet from other people when you are in public.
• Avoid touching surfaces in public places. Assume anything you touch may be contaminated.
• Wash your hands often for at least 20 seconds with soap and water or use sanitizer.
• Avoid touching your face, particularly rubbing your eyes.
• Wear a mask when in public, primarily to keep you from infecting other people. Remember you may spread the virus even though you have no symptoms.
• Avoid traveling to and from areas which have high levels of infection. Human movement is the main vector for spread of the virus.
• Avoid gatherings, particularly those which have more than 10 people.

The Future: Most states have issued orders based on the precautions above in order to keep their citizens safe. However, if the orders remain in place too long they will hurt the economy, but if they are relaxed too soon we may experience a second round of the virus. This would prolong the pandemic and hurt businesses even more. Most states, sometimes under political pressure, are relaxing the guidelines stepwise in order to allow businesses to open while keeping an eye on the of infection rate.

No matter what your state orders, it would be a good idea to follow the precautions above until the OK is given by healthcare professionals. The decision up is up to you. Please follow the guidelines to keep yourself and others safe.

Early Childhood Education

Thu ,28/05/2020

Although this article is about early childhood education in Kansas, many other states are adding early education to their curriculum. Different states and individual school districts may vary greatly in the nature of programs, but they each have some common goals and features.

Many of the school districts in Kansas are adding pre-kindergarten programs for children that begin at the age of three. Though the age of three may seem too early to begin a child’s education, there is a growing interest in early childhood education. A child’s brain grows to about 90% of its capacity by the age of five. They are likened to a sponge, soaking up everything they see, hear, and experience. Children are adept at learning language then, and many skills they need later in life build on those early experiences.

The first formal research in the US on early childhood education was in Minnesota in the 1960’s. Two groups of children were randomly divided into an Experimental group, who received two years of early childhood education, and a Control group, who did not. The Experimental group was provided experiences that help children grow and thrive, such as stable and nurturing relationships with other children and adults, a language rich environment, experience with routines, and encouragement to explore through movement and their senses. They also learned to take turns, to lead and follow in play, to seek help when needed, to recognize emotions, and to control their impulses. In addition, they become familiar with numbers, the alphabet, and problem-solving skills.

Upon entering traditional school, the Experimental group members were more successful in the early grades, but it was found that by age 10 they performed about the same as their peers. The researchers were disappointed at first, but when they followed the Experimental group through school and into adulthood, they found many improvements. The experimental group were less likely to repeat grades or need remedial classes, and they were more likely to graduate from high school and attend college. They were also more successful in their careers and less likely to experienced health problem or be involved with the criminal justice system.

It was found that the children in early childhood education do better if the parents and caregivers are involved in the process. Many schools involve the parents through home visits and also encourage daycare centers to have children practice skills learned in early childhood education.

Surprisingly, the Federal Reserve is interested in research in early childhood education as a way to improve the workforce and improve economic development. The economic value of early childhood education programs has been found to greatly outweigh the cost. Economists who have analyzed the costs and benefits find that there is a rate of return of $5 to $15 for every dollar invested, with disadvantaged children seeing the greatest benefit. While children and their families benefit from investments in early education, the majority of benefits accrue to communities and society as a whole. It is also likely that the children become better parents and better citizens, extending the benefits forward.

Kansas legislators and educators are becoming more interested in early childhood education as they try to spend education dollars more efficiently. The 2019 Kansas Legislature increased K-12 school funding to allow for inflation, and the Kansas Supreme Court ruled that the increase was adequate. However, Kansas should not be satisfied with just adequate.
Kansas has always been known for its excellent schools, and we should keep it that way. One way to do that would be to increase early education programs. There are both Federal and private grants available to develop early childhood learning programs. The Kansas Legislature should also consider providing additional funding to start and maintain those programs. It would be an efficient way to improve educational outcomes at a minimal cost, and it would be a wise investment in our future.

Winners of the 2017 Environmental Hall of Fame/Shame Awards

Sat ,25/01/2020
Earthrise2

Each year, this site takes a poll to find those most deserving to be in the Environmental Hall of Fame or the Environmental Hall of Shame.The year 2017 saw some real heroes and villains with respect to the environment. It is important that we recognize those who most affected the environment, for good or ill, by their words or actions. Below are the results of the balloting along with a suitable gift for each.

Hall Of Fame

1.The US Military – (35%) – for adapting renewable energy to big bases and for pointing out that global warming causes global instability. Their gift is having political leaders who respect their research.

2.  Jerry Brown, the governor of California – (26%) – for supporting strong environmental programs and for forming a coalition of 15 states to support the Paris climate. Gift: Several more states in his coalition.   

3. Norway – (22%) – for their investment in renewable energy and for their plans to cut the use of fossil fuels. Gift: Clean air for its citizens.

4: Elon Musk – (17%) – for developing the lithium ion batteries and for promoting electric vehicles. Gift: Spiraling upward stock prices.

Hall of Shame

1. President Donald Trump – (76%) – for pulling out of the Paris Climate Agreement and for opening up public lands for exploitation by fossil fuel companies. Gift: A chance to rejoin the Paris  Agreement.

2. The USA – (14%) – Though it has 5% of the world’s population, it uses 25% of the world’s energy and has resisted reducing its energy use. Gift: A national social conscience.

3/4. Scott Pruitt – (5%) – Past EPA Director, for not accepting the science of global warming and for killing  policies which protected the public from pollution. Gift: Drinking water from a polluted stream.

3/4.   Rick Perry – (5%) – Past Secretary of Energy, for his spectacular turn around on renewable energy.   As Governor, he moved Texas to a top renewable energy producer. As Secretary of Energy, he adopted without remorse the role of promoting dirty forms of energy as his primary responsibility. Gift: May he be remembered for the former.

Note! My apologies for not posting this in a timely manner. I plan to catch up by taking a poll for 2018 and 2019.

Green Energy Is Not a Frivolous “Add on”

Mon ,03/04/2017

Article Photo
Dr. Pirotte’s clinic with solar panels

This is a reprint of a letter to the Wichita Eagle from Dr. Patrick Pirotte, which explains why renewable energy is important for our future.

Dr. Patrick Pirotte, O.D., is a board certified Fellow in the College of Optometrists in Vision Development and treats children with vision and learning-related vision problems. He lectures nationwide on the diagnosis and treatment of vision problems in children and on the impact of vision problems on learning and classroom performance. He is a member of the Citizens Climate Lobby and is an advocate for their carbon fee and dividend system to ensure a healthy future for our children.

The letter below is reprinted with his permission:

“I read with interest recent statements by Sen. Jerry Moran, R-Kan., about renewable energy in Kansas (Oct. 1 Eagle). To imply that the only thing that green energy is doing in Kansas or elsewhere is a frivolous “add on” is incorrect.

Currently installed wind and solar are eliminating hundreds of millions of tons of carbon dioxide while providing reliable energy at competitive prices. The idea that fossil fuel plants must be constantly kept running to back up intermittent sources such as solar or wind is not true.

When President Obama’s Clean Power Plan is allowed to go into effect, there will be a dramatic reduction in respiratory and cardiovascular diseases nationally and internationally. Proponents of burning fossil fuels should recognize these benefits and champion clean energy, saving lives and lowering health care costs.

Furthermore, the price of fossil fuels is not the just cost of fossil fuels, but also the external costs to the environment and people’s health. Because of that, there is a constant error in the way carbon pricing is discussed.

Senator Moran and his colleagues should consider a practical and well-studied proposal to charge a fee on carbon and give a dividend to each household, protecting those who would be harmed by the increased cost of their energy beyond their ability to pay. It is not a tax. Most importantly, it uses the market to send price signals to consumers to move their purchases away from fossil fuels, which will reduce climate change harm from burning them.”

PAT PIROTTE, WICHITA

 

Note: Dr. Pirotte is not only an advocate for renewable energy, but serves as an example of what can be done. He has installed 40 kW of solar panels on his 9000 square foot clinic as pictured above . They have a battery storage system and supply 90% of the energy needed to run the clinic. It is connected by a net metering system to the grid and on sunny days, particularly if the clinic is closed, his installation sends a considerable amount of electricity back onto the grid. He estimates the solar panels save him $6200 per year on his electricity costs and have a payback time of 14 years at current rates. His clinic serves as an example of how businesses can save money and energy by installing solar panels.

(C) 2017 J.C. Moore

The Malheur Refuge and Standing Rock: A Tale of Two Standoffs

Wed ,07/12/2016

In 2016, two protests were held over the use of public land. It would seem reasonable that the law enforcement authorities would respond the same to each situation, but that was not the case.

The Malheur Refuge Standoff: In January, armed militants seized the headquarters of the Malheur national wildlife refuge in Oregon to protest the conviction of Dwight and Steven Hammond for arson on federal BLM land. The charges were brought because the fires had endangered the lives of firefighters.  Ammon Bundy, the son of the anti-government protester Cliven D. Bundy,  led the protest. The militants declared the federal government had no authority to manage the federal lands and demanded that the federal government cede ownership of BLM federal lands and the refuge to the state.

The group was heavily armed and expressed a willingness to engage in armed conflict to keep from being removed from the refuge The authorities did not try to  forcibly remove the protesters from the refuge. The standoff ended when cold weather and a lack of provisions caused the leaders of the militia to abandon the headquarters. They were stopped on US Route 395 by federal authorities and arrested.  Bundy was slightly wounded during the arrest  and  Robert “LaVoy” Finicum,  who had declared he would not be taken alive, was shot and killed by law enforcement officers while drawing his gun. Eventually 26 protesters were arrested and charged with felony conspiracy, but they were not convicted by a jury of their peers.

The Dakota Access Pipeline Standoff: The production of oil from the Bakken shale in North Dakota has increased dramatically in the last few years. To move the oil to market, the Dakota Access pipeline was proposed to carry 500,000 barrels of tarsands-like crude oil per day through North Dakota to a terminal in Illinois. The pipeline was originally scheduled to cross the Missouri River just north of Bismarck, but Bismarck residents were concerned that pipeline leaks would contaminate the city’s water supply. The Dakota Access Partners claimed that the pipeline would not leak, but that was not a credible claim. There have been several dozen leaks in pipelines in 2016 alone, with two recent ones in northern North Dakota  and near Bismarck.

To placate the Bismarck residents, the pipeline was rerouted South where it would pass under Lake Oahe, just one half mile above the Standing Rock Sioux tribal land. (See map.)0siouxThe Sioux were concerned that leaks  would contaminate their water supply, that the construction would disturb their cultural sites, and and that the Bismarck resident’s concerns were given greater weight than theirs.  The approval of the second route had been fast tracked by the US Corps of Engineers without a proper environmental or archaeological study, and without consultation with the Sioux nation. By law, any federal agency overseeing a construction project has to consult with native nations or tribes if there are places with “religious and cultural significance” nearby.

The Sioux also had a claim to the land under the Fort Laramie Treaty of 1851, and they sued in federal court to block the construction of the pipeline. They asked for an injunction to halt the construction until the case was settled, but the injunction was denied and construction of the pipeline continued. In October, the Standing Rock Sioux organized a protest just north of the reservation to block the bulldozers from clearing a path for the pipeline. When the protesters were set upon by dogs used by the private security for the pipeline, the the protest made national news. Protesters from across the country began arriving to support the Sioux until as many as 3000 protesters were camped in the area. The authorities called in help from other agencies and about 100 officers and private security officers arrived to police the protesters.

On November 20, in subfreezing temperatures, some of the protesters tried to clear the road of debris so medical assistance and supplies could reach their encampment. An altercation ensued with the security forces, who unleashed water cannons, tear gas, rubber bullets, and concussion grenades in a military-style assault on the unarmed protesters. According to sources at the scene, a dozen protesters were critically wounded or sustained head injuries and were rushed to the hospital, while 168 were treated for hypothermia and pepper spray exposure on-site. One woman may lose her arm after it was injured by a concussion grenade. The UN has denounced the governor of North Dakota, the Morton County sheriff, and the Dakota Access mercenaries for rights violations and inhumane treatment over the incident.

The Corps issued notice that on December 5th they would close public access to the Standing Rock encampment, and threatened “prosecution under federal, state, or local laws” of those who remained, declaring that the decision “is necessary to protect the general public from the violent confrontations between protesters and law enforcement officials.” There were no public citizens in the area except the protesters, and the threat of violence came mostly from a heavily militarized law enforcement response, which had called in help from over 76 different law enforcement agencies. In response, over 2000 veterans pledged to protect the Sioux from law enforcement actions and they began arriving at Standing Rock.

 On December 4, the Corps decided they would not issue the final permit for construction of the pipeline. Perhaps they were concerned about the legality of the permitting process, but more likely they were persuaded by the public outcry and the possibility of provoking an altercation involving an attack on veterans. The construction is halted for the time being, but the corporations involved have declared that the pipeline will be built. Further altercations are likely.

Questions: There is a sharp contrast in the way the two protests were handled. The main questions center around the timing: “Do armed protesters have a right to seize and hold public property until they decide to relinquish it? “, and,  “Does the state have a right to use physical violence on unarmed people protecting their land and water, to expedite a billion-dollar corporate project?”

 

(c) 2016 J.C. Moore

Carbon Fee and Dividend: Legislative Action Needed

Mon ,10/10/2016

Sen. Jerry Moran, R-Kan., was certainly right when he told a group of energy executives that cheap energy was necessary for our economy to be competitive and that legislation is needed to keep energy costs low (Wichita Eagle, Oct. 1 Business).

Fossil fuels provide cheap energy because they do not pay their external costs, which include cost to people’s health, the environment, and to the economy. Renewable energy is becoming less expensive and does not have the external costs that fossil fuels do.windmill4

The best solution is legislation that would favor a shift to renewable energy.

The effect of rising energy costs on the economy could be offset by a carbon fee and dividend system, in which a fee would be added to fossil fuels at the source to cover their external costs. All the money collected would be distributed equally to every household as an energy dividend. Those who switch to renewable energy or who save energy would have more to spend, which would stimulate the economy.

We should all hope that the legislation that Senator Moran is considering would be a carbon fee and dividend system, as it uses market principles to reduce air and water pollution while protecting the economy from rising energy costs.

 

(c) 2016  – J.C. Moore