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April 2014
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Recent Diaries
James Hansen at MIT
by: gmoke - Apr 20
Net Zero and Beyond
by: gmoke - Nov 19

Recent Comments

Green Mass Group on Facebook

Good news, bad news - drone strikes and The Intercept

by: eli_beckerman

Mon Feb 10, 2014 at 21:44:00 PM EST

First, the bad news: our government is assassinating people based loosely upon the whereabouts and history of their SIM cards. Without even confirming that their intended target is indeed in possession of this card, the United States government is targeting drone missile strikes based on this data.

Now, the good news: A new media organization, First Look Media has just launched its first "digital magazine" called The Intercept that is actually investigating and reporting on these crimes by our federal government. Read their welcome message here.

First Look is the media and technology venture started by eBay founder Pierre Omidyar along with investigative reporters Glenn Greenwald, Laura Poitras, and Jeremy Scahill. Here are Greenwald and Scahill talking about it on Democracy Now!:

There's More... :: (0 Comments, 220 words in story)

Green-Rainbow Party running candidates for Secretary of the Commonwealth and State Treasurer

by: eli_beckerman

Sun Feb 02, 2014 at 22:52:47 PM EST

The Green-Rainbow Party nominated two candidates for statewide office at its January 11th State Committee meeting, and is looking for a candidate for State Auditor to join the slate.

From the Green-Rainbow Party website:

Two Green-Rainbow Party (GRP) candidates have stepped forward to run for statewide constitutional offices in 2014.  They are  Daniel Factor, running for Secretary of the Commonwealth,  and Ian T. Jackson, running for State Treasurer.  Daniel Factor is an attorney who lives in Acton.  He is currently the Secretary of the Green-Rainbow Party.   Ian T. Jackson is a software engineer who lives in Arlington and has been active in local affairs.   Both candidates received a party nomination at the January 11 State Committee meeting in Worcester.

Factor and Jackson will run as members of a party-coordinated slate that the party says will give the voters of the Commonwealth a truly progressive alternative to a perceived ineffective, corporate-dominated Democratic Party establishment.

And later on:

According to Green-Rainbow Party co-chair John Andrews "We would be particularly interested in an Auditor candidate who would bring gender or ethnic diversity to the slate.  We are looking for someone who can speak in support of our themes of economic justice,  real democracy, and a healthy environment.  The slate effort itself will provide a lot of team support to the candidates, so this is a good opportunity for a first-time candidate."

Apparently they are asking any potential Auditor candidates to submit an application by February 3rd.

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Stand with the Philippines and Yeb Saño

by: eli_beckerman

Thu Nov 21, 2013 at 20:01:31 PM EST

Two powerful speeches from the Philippines' climate negotiators, Filipino climate chief Yeb Saño and executive director of the  Philippines Climate Change Commission, Mary Ann Lucille Sering, are not to be missed.

After watching them, please sign Yeb Saño's petition calling on governments to make meaningful steps toward climate justice, and help get it to 1,000,000 signatures.

Below is Saño's interview on Democracy Now!, and Sering's speech. You can watch Saño's floor speech here.

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Net Zero and Beyond

by: gmoke

Tue Nov 19, 2013 at 14:47:51 PM EST

Cambridge, MA has been debating a net zero energy and/or emissions standard ( ) for new buildings over 25,000 square feet since the Spring of 2013, partially because of an ecodistrict plan with MIT and others on a large parcel in East Cambridge (a plan MIT refused to make net zero even though they are rumored to be building a net zero project with some of the same partners in Basel, Switzerland).

The City Manager (Cambridge has a city manager form of municipal government, along with proportionate representation so city politics get weird fast) has established a "Getting to Net Zero" Task Force to study the issue.  Cambridge Community Development Department produced a fine overview of the state of the art in larger buildings for zero net emissions at (pdf alert)

As the national Ecodistrict Summit was in town recently, the Community Development Department and Sustainable Performance Institute ( http://www.sustainable-perform... ) hosted experts from Integral Group ( ), a deep green engineering firm to present lessons from the more than 40 net zero buildings they've worked on.

There's More... :: (0 Comments, 680 words in story)

Lobbying with a power fist

by: eli_beckerman

Sun Nov 17, 2013 at 19:56:02 PM EST

I was glad to see Bill Moyers devote so much of his show this weekend to two powerful voices from the Green Shadow Cabinet, especially as it was framed as the politics of resistance.

Jill Stein summed it up best, "It's not lobbying on bended knee. It's lobbying with a power fist. You know, it's with the understanding that our survival depends on doing the right thing."

Watch the whole interview with Jill Stein and Margaret Flowers here:

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2013 election results for Greens nationwide and locally

by: eli_beckerman

Wed Nov 06, 2013 at 22:30:00 PM EST

Across the country, there were some strong showings and nice victories for Green Party candidates running for local office.  Minneapolis City Councilor Cam Gordon, and Cleveland City Councilor Brian Cummins, were both re-elected. 16 California Greens won local office, which was a record for off-year elections. And in New England, Josh Plourde was elected to the Bangor City Council, Anna Trevorrow was elected to the Portland School Board, and Mirna Martinez was elected to the New London Board of Education.

In Massachusetts, Green-Rainbow Party candidates for local office included three first-time candidates. Joe Carvalho's bid for Mayor of Fall River saw him place second in a field of six to advance to yesterday's election, but fell short of ousting incumbent Mayor William Flanagan. Elie Yarden's campaign for Cambridge City Council saw him place 20th out of 25 candidates for 9 seats. And Francisco White's bid for Boston City Council At Large placed him 16th out of 19 candidates for 4 seats during September's preliminary election. Rick Purcell came in 12th out 13 candidates for Holyoke's eight At Large City Council seats. And Mark Miller, who came within 981 votes of Pittsfield's State Representative seat in 2010, came in 6th in a field of 7 for 4 at large Pittsfield City Council seats.

While some of the most exciting progress for the Green Party has been with municipally elected Greens, the party does not seem to be gaining much traction overall, after nearly three decades of running for local office. I think it's an important time to reflect on those three decades, and the experience we have developed  engaging with this admittedly rigged process. The times are a-changing, but I'm not sure our tactics are changing with them. I'm also not convinced they should change dramatically, but I'd like to see them add up to dramatic change. Unfortunately, I don't see it. I invite all Green and Green-Rainbow candidates and supporters, as well as all of our dear readers, to comment here with your reflections. And I am incredibly grateful, even though I haven't made that particularly clear, for the work, sweat, vision and courage that the brave few throwing their hats into the ring have brought to the table.  

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Russell Brand and Jill Stein take to the intertubes to incite critical thought

by: eli_beckerman

Fri Oct 25, 2013 at 21:10:46 PM EDT

Though their messages are somewhat different, I was struck by the similarities by the passionate pleas put out this week by comedian Russell Brand and former Green Party Presidential nominee Jill Stein. Take a look at both:

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What I Do and Why I Do It

by: gmoke

Mon Oct 21, 2013 at 19:16:38 PM EDT

(This would be a tremendous resource for bridging the academic worlds surrounding us with the communities within which they exist. - promoted by eli_beckerman)

I publish a weekly listing of Energy (and Other) Events at the colleges, universities, and in the community around Cambridge, MA ( ) and have been doing it consistently since the end of January, 2010 ( ).  This is the second iteration of the idea as I published a similar listings service plus reviews and articles from February, 1995 to February, 1998, "A List of Environmental and Telecommunications Events and Issues" or "AList...." for short ( ) {The issues from April 1997 to February 1998 are available at but you have to click on the weekly issue heading first before you can read any of the articles.}

My original idea was to have a searchable calendar of all the public lecture information at all the colleges and universities around the Boston area, something like 70 of them, so that anyone could take the opportunity to gather in all the free learning they want.  Imagine the resource for anyone from high school kids to retired people.  I'd been availing myself of the privilege for a number of years already, meeting in small seminar rooms with distinguished experts and famous names that normally you'd only see on TV.  And I even got to ask them questions.  What a gift!  As an experienced autodidact, I took notes at the events I went to, when something of actual note occurred, and thought that the next step would be to invite others to contribute their notes from the events they went to that I couldn't attend so that all that wealth of information could be captured, a community commonplace book.

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Resilience and Climate Change

by: gmoke

Sun Sep 29, 2013 at 17:48:13 PM EDT

(Sure feels like we're entering a new era, a true test of our resilience as a society, and as a species. - promoted by eli_beckerman)

Recently, I've noticed there has been a shift from talking about mitigation to adaptation to resilience when dealing with climate change.  From my perspective, this is not a bad development as resilience focuses on practical preparedness for immediate hazards.  This can partition change into small increments that are readily understandable and remove the polarized politics of climate change from the discussion.  If you're talking about measures to prevent system failure because of a weather emergency, it tends not to matter what your position is on greenhouse gases because everybody remembers the last hurricane, flood, or blizzard.  In addition, resilience measures can also be adaptation and, even in some cases, mitigation strategies for climate change as well.  At least, this is what I'm observing here in the Boston area and what I've heard out of post-Sandy New York and other areas.

This week I attended a discussion at the Boston Society of Architects about a new report, Building Resilience in Boston
pdf alert:  http://www.greenribboncommissi...  
Before the meeting, I spent some time scanning the document and found it to be superlative work, a great introduction to the concepts of urban design for resilience and emergency preparedness and, most especially, a fine literature search of the state of the art all around the world.  If you want to begin the process in your own city or town, this document will give you plenty of useful ideas and show you where to get more.  It is useful not only for cities like Boston, London, and New York but also towns like Chula Vista, CA and Keene, NH.

Another indication of growing seriousness on these issues I noticed is that the dangers from temperature extremes are entering the picture, especially since there has been a 2,300% increase in casualties from heat waves and 189% increase from cold snaps in the 2001 to 2010 decade (

According to Christina Figueres of the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change, whom I also saw this week, there are over 300 cities around the world which are actively working on mitigation, adaptation, and resilience in the face of climate change.  So while international organizations are struggling to find actionable agreements and individual countries are fighting to avoid responsibility, municipalities around the world are taking practical steps.

There's More... :: (0 Comments, 1163 words in story)

President Obama, Pardon Chelsea Manning!

by: eli_beckerman

Thu Aug 22, 2013 at 23:07:00 PM EDT

Everyone should watch this video and sign this petition.

Discuss :: (0 Comments)

'Sometimes You Have to Pay a Heavy Price to Live in a Free Society'

by: eli_beckerman

Wed Aug 21, 2013 at 19:31:11 PM EDT


The following is a rush transcript by Common Dreams of the statement made by Pfc. Bradley Manning as read by David Coombs at a press conference on Wednesday following the announcement of his 35-year prison sentence by a military court:

The decisions that I made in 2010 were made out of a concern for my country and the world that we live in. Since the tragic events of 9/11, our country has been at war.  We've been at war with an enemy that chooses not to meet us on any traditional battlefield, and due to this fact we've had to alter our methods of combating the risks posed to us and our way of life.

I initially agreed with these methods and chose to volunteer to help defend my country.  It was not until I was in Iraq and reading secret military reports on a daily basis that I started to question the morality of what we were doing.  It was at this time I realized in our efforts to meet this risk posed to us by the enemy, we have forgotten our humanity.  We consciously elected to devalue human life both in Iraq and Afghanistan.  When we engaged those that we perceived were the enemy, we sometimes killed innocent civilians.  Whenever we killed innocent civilians, instead of accepting responsibility for our conduct, we elected to hide behind the veil of national security and classified information in order to avoid any public accountability.

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Sen. Wyden riding the fence

by: eli_beckerman

Wed Jul 31, 2013 at 07:30:00 AM EDT

Let me make it clear that I appreciate Senator Ron Wyden's willingness to raise the issues surrounding the US surveillance state, albeit quite obliquely until Edward Snowden risked his life to put the details on the table.

In a fascinating interview with MSNBC's Andrea Mitchell, Wyden contorts logic in defense of compliance with the classification rules that determine what can and can not be discussed, and pats himself on the back for getting certain things declassified, including statements about an important FISA court ruling (but not the ruling itself). He then goes on to say that while the Director of National Intelligence James Clapper has now admitted that the national security apparatus has violated FISA court orders on bulk phone record collection, "I'll tell your viewers that those violations are significantly more troubling than the government has stated."

There's More... :: (0 Comments, 253 words in story)

I am Bradley Manning

by: eli_beckerman

Tue Jul 30, 2013 at 19:48:46 PM EDT

Today an injustice was perpetrated on a brave young soul, Bradley Manning, whose courageous act of whistleblowing revealed untold truths about the US war machine. Prosecuting him under the Espionage Act despite his guilty pleas for leaking information was a government attempt to "intimidate anyone who might consider revealing valuable information in the future," according to Ben Wizner, director of the ACLU's Speech, Privacy and Technology Project. In other words, the injustice perpetrated against Manning was perpetrated against all of us, stifling truth, justice, and democracy in one fell swoop. Send a message to our latest War President and shameful Nobel Peace Prize laureate by signing the petition to award Manning the Nobel Peace Prize. For special coverage of the verdict from Democracy Now! click here.

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Sixpack of Solar: How Many Solar Devices Can You Make from a Plastic Bottle?

by: gmoke

Wed Jul 24, 2013 at 23:06:48 PM EDT

( - promoted by eli_beckerman)

How Many Solar Devices Can You Make from a Plastic Bottle?
A clear PET plastic bottle can help disinfect water.
6 hours of sunlight's UV-radiation kills diarrhoea-causing pathogens in water making it safer to drink.
A clear bottle full of water and a little bleach can become a solar skylight, providing the equivalent of a 50w incandescent light to a windowless shack.
Cut the bottom off a clear plastic bottle to make a mini-greenhouse, a hot cap, to protect seedlings from frost.
Surround that bottle hot cap with a circle of other bottles full of water for solar heat storage to extend the growing season.
Here's a bottle inside a bottle inside a bottle to heat water in the innermost bottle
and a variation of this design using a clear bottle, a dark can full of water, and a set of reflectors.
They illustrate the essentials of solar thermal energy:
light reflects
dark gets hot
clear keeps the wind out
With that knowledge you can move, concentrate, and store energy.
This clear plastic water heater is much larger and more practical for household use. It is made almost entirely from recycled packaging waste.
You can make a window out of plastic bottles, too,
and a south-facing window is already a solar collector.

But that's another story.

previously published at

There's More... :: (0 Comments, 95 words in story)

World Meteorological Organization: Heatwave Decade

by: gmoke

Tue Jul 16, 2013 at 23:14:06 PM EDT

(Damn. - promoted by eli_beckerman)

The World Meteorological Organization recently released their Global Climate Report:  Decade of Extremes ( pdf alert: and video at ) looking at general weather patterns decade by decade from 1881 to 2010.

" is worth noting the very large increase (more than 2 000 per cent) in the loss of life from heatwaves, particularly during the unprecedented extreme heat events that affected Europe in the summer of 2003 and the Russian Federation in the summer of 2010. On the other hand, there were fewer deaths due to storms and floods in 2001-2010 compared to 1991-2000, with decreases of 16 per cent and 43 per cent, respectively, thanks, in good part, to better early warning systems and increased preparedness."

2,300% increase in casualties from heatwaves
189% increase from cold snaps
in the 2001 to 2010 decade.

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