Beginning with a static-y 1996 AM radio interview during a power outage on the island of Guam Micronesia, then checking in from a goat farm in Japan decades later, then again from tiny isle in Indonesia, Uncle Weed weaves hempen stories and personal anecdotes about life on this remote USA “territory” including: selling hemp bags at Jeff’s Pirate Cove, advocating for legalization of cannabis in all forms, weird jobs (and quitting same), and current situation as Grassroots activists seek to fulfil will of voters for medical and recreational uses.
[Link and content now gone, re-accessed from Archive.org’s Wayback Machine]
By giving every citizen a chance to donate to politicians, could we even the playing field of what issues politicians work to fix?
Lessig’s solution is to expand the fundraising base through small donor financing. His proposal is to give a $50 “democracy voucher” to every citizen to spend on the politician of their choice (on the proviso, they don’t also take big money). But several other proposals would work just as well, including this one, and this one, he says.
“The most important thing is to spread the recognition among ordinary people that this is a root cause to the inability of Congress to deal sensibly with a wide range of issues on the Left and Right,” he says. “When that becomes conventional wisdom, it will create an environment for someone to step forward and take advantage.”
Inside The Olympics is Vancouver Sun reporter Jeff Lee’s following of the Olympic movement and the preparations for the Vancouver 2010 Winter Olympics and Paralympics.
On the heels of its latest Sustainability report in which it outlined some of the reporting and tracking it is doing, the Vancouver Organizing Committee is getting a bit of a razz from Canadian athletes – including more than 70 top Olympic and national team athletes – who say it’s not doing enough.
On Thursday the athletes, through the David Suzuki Foundation, sent a letter to Vanoc CEO John Furlong saying the committee needs to stop studying and start acting on promises to make the 2010 Games totally carbon neutral.
What’s worth noting in this complicated story is that it turns out that for all its good efforts at being environmentally friendly, Vanoc is getting criticism for just how far it is willing – or actually not willing – to go.
The foundation did a report for Vanoc two years ago called “Meeting The Challenge” that showed the Games will produce 328,000 tonnes of greenhouse gas emissions, and that the cost of offsetting that is in the range of $5 million. The tonnage includes all the gases produced from air travel generated by spectators, officials and media, the so-called “indirect” costs. That’s what being truly “carbon neutral” means, they say.
It turns out that Vanoc says it will offset the “direct” costs of the Games, including all the carbon diozide created by its travel, including sending executive team members to places like Europe and China. But it doesn’t intend to offset the indirect carbon generation created by spectators and the like.
It also says that its’ efforts go far beyond what other organizing committees have done in the past. Linda Coady, Vanoc’s vice-president of sustainability, said in an email last night that Vanoc is still working out a “carbon management program” and that details will be released at the World Conference on Sport and Environment in late March. That event is sponsored by the International Olympic Committee and the United Nations Environment Programme.
Coady says Vanoc put out an initial public forecast of indirect emissions but hasn’t begun formally reporting on them yet in their annual sustainability report. Here’s what Coady says in her email statement to me:
“The David Suzuki Foundation (DSF) has provided VANOC with advice on the carbon plan for the 2010 Games and their “Play it Cool” program and we value their input. We currently track and report our carbon footprint – both direct Games-based emissions and indirect emissions from air travel, based on advice provided by the DSF and other environmental organizations. VANOC’s commitment is to take responsibility for offsetting our direct emissions from the Games. We also agree that offsets used to neutralize the carbon footprint of the Games have to be highly credible. We plan to release further details on our carbon management program for the 2010 Games at the World Conference on Sport and Environment, March 29-31 in Vancouver. The IOC has convened this event in collaboration with the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP).”
Regardless, that seems not to be adequate for athletes like snowboarder Justin Lamoureux, right, who points out that if he and 500 NHL hockey players and soccer associations and others can offset their carbon footprints by buying gold-standard offsets at places like planetair.ca, so can Vanoc.
Heading out to vote in his riding in BC, Uncle Weed rallies to a secondary voting location at the last minute while spieling about the election process, political parties and vast timezones. After filling out his Canadian ballot, he returns home to drink hot toddies, get baked and fill out his USA ballot while riffing about the left vote split resulting in the Canadian Conservative minority government, and expressing hope for good times ahead. Folk singer (and personal hero) Billy Bragg provides poignant music to inspire keeping faith in democracy.
The left was split and Canada’s true desires weren’t manifest. The Liberals ran a (sorry) lousy campaign, the Green acquitted themselves excellently but are out numbered everywhere and the Cons slipped right in strategically laughing while Layton attacked Dion.
We need a proportional representative system where the House reflects Canada. We need a run-off style ballot so we aren’t flummoxed by the “strategic voting” conundrum (i vote with my heart).
And the parties need to show – in short, clear statements – how we (they) can protect the environment while promoting the economy.
I am still worked up about they way this election went down and riffed more about it at A Few words for Democracy at happyfrog.
I have a Choogle on! podcast coming out shortly (really) with my emotional reaction to the results in Canada and the impending vote in the USA. And I discussed the Conservative minority win on the Dopecast on Dopefiend.co.uk.
While i am on topic, here are my democratic actionable items, observations etc. cross-posted from happyfrog post A Few words for Democracy:
With the Canadian Federal election behind us, a looming USA General election (which will effect everyone), plus a Vancouver Mayoral race in which the winner will preside over the 2010 Olympics and attempt to assuage the controversies around the development, democracy in action is catching the attention of everyone – or should be anyhow.
I’ve personally learned that policy is decided by those who “show up” and let their opinions be heard – not by throwing rocks but rather by civilized discourse and personal expression to the policy makers.
Here are a few tools, events and ideas I’ve come acress to help constructively participate in the political process, while not sinking to the mud-slinging which happens when the issues cut to the core of who we are as a community.
Media Democracy Day- Speak up!
This Saturday at SFU’s downtown campus come “Speak for Ourselves” and learn about the critical issues effecting the media – both in terms of content and delivery – at Media Democracy Day Vancouver 2008.
With mainstream conglomerates amalgamating local media into a generic mish-mash more focused on selling ad space than spreading critical information, and Telcos (with the encouragement of the Federal government) tightening their grip on the gates of what’s “acceptable” there is plenty to educate yourself about.
Noted speakers will share their opinions – including happyfrog columnist and co-founder of Greenpeace Rex Wyeler and Tyee’s chief David Beers – and relevant panels will present different perspectives on this dynamic landscape from open access to citizen journalism to copyright/wrong.
Now Polling Grassroots Opinions
I’ve seen and chatted with Pedro from NowPolling.ca at many community events as he spreads the message that “Participation is the essence of Democracy”.
Sign up for a free account at NowPolling.ca and you can weigh in with your opinion on current issues of concern to the community on a local, provincal and federal level.
Here’s how they describe their work:
“This is a non-profit forum where anyone can register their opinions on a broad range of issues. You can choose your answers now, and if you change your mind, you can return to change your vote anytime.
As far as we know, nowpolling.ca is the first in the world to provide a perpetual polling system which facilitates your democratic right to participate in the political process.”
Sign up for an free NowPolling.ca account and see how your opinions jibe with your fellow electors.
Despite the optimism I held from watching the debates and CBC engaging X Challenge debate (with a cameo by happyfrog pal Chris Livingstone of EPIC Sustainable Living Expo), the results were a split left and a stronger minority government for the Conservative Party. Ugh.
The solution which has come out of the election with some vigor is proportional representation. You can learn more about this at Fairvote.ca but briefly, this means a House of Commons which reflects the popular vote rather than the minority winner from the patchwork of ridings.
Here’s Fairvote’s statement about the recent election:
As usual, the first-past-the-post system played havoc with voters’ intentions. The Green Party, western Liberals, the NDP and urban Conservatives were among the political victims. The Parliament voters tried to create would have looked quite different from what the voting system gave us. Read the Fair Vote Canada press release.
The impetus for many to rally behind this is seeing the Greens leap up to just shy of 7% of the popular vote yet get no seats while the NDP led the Bloc Quebecois in the popular vote but trailed in the seats.
Another related idea is to vote for your 1st, 2nd and 3rd choice to form a “run-off” in each riding with the lowest candidate dropped and the votes recounted until a candidate had over 50% of the vote rather than the “first past the post” system now.
Whichever way you feel, it is a big question for Canadians and there is a movement for a voting referendum to encourage *more* democracy.
Registering is the critical first step. Next up, voting! If you are from the USA, you should have received your ballot already – if not, get on the phone to the county auditor in your last county of residence.
If you have received it, fill it out and get it in the mail or drop it off at the US Embassy. Unlike mailing from within the USA, you gotta pony up for an international air mail stamp.
For Demo-politicos seeking bonding in Canada, consider hanging out with the Democrats Abroad in Vancouver or via email. They are likely to be hosting a results viewing party for a big Nov. 4th.
CBC using Twitter
Some netizens have noticed the new happyfrog_ca Twitter account. Like many new web apps, this is a bit strange to explain at first – basically 140 character mini-thoughts.
The recent General election provided a good example as CBC followed the chatter via Twitter as voters watched the Leader Debates and flowed out a stream on collective consciousness with their off the cuff, candid reactions to the Q&A flowed to OrmistonVotes Twitter account.
If you aren’t using Twitter, it’s free and fun. If you are, follow happyfrog_ca and pay attention to #vanvotes and other keywords (known as “hashtags” and when preceded with a # sign) to keep a pulse on what the people are feeling/thinking/expressing right now – all in haiku-like length.
This list is borrowed from Democrats Abroad newsletter and was compiled by Beverly Bandler of DA-Mexico for easily fact-check and de-bunk rumours and innuendo which spread during this time of political intrigue.
PS American ex-pats … are you registered to Vote from Abroad? Be sure to fill in the forms and ensure you rballot arrives to your international address in time to count.
Factcheck is anonpartisan, nonprofit, “consumer advocate” for voters toreduce the level of deception and confusion in U.S. politics.
Snopes validates or debunks urban legends, Internet rumors,and email hoaxes.
Fact-Checker “truth squads” the national political debate, focusing on the issues that aremost important to voters.
Urban Legends covers Internet hoaxes, email rumors and urban legends, including petitions, politics, and protest.
Truth-o-meter is “a scorecard separating fact from fiction. A project ofthe St. Petersburg Times and Congressional Quarterly, it helps find the truth in the presidential campaign.”
RealClearPolitics claims to be an independent political site offering the best commentary, news, polling data, and links to important resources.
Campaign Desk Columbia Journalism Review Campaign Desk fact checks the media.
OpenSecrets, the site of the Center for Responsive Politics, is your “guide to money’s influence on U.S. elections and public policy.”
On the Issues seeks to “provide non-partisan information for voters in the Presidential election, so that votes can be based on issues rather than on personalities and popularity.”
Note that cannabis seems absent from the current political discourse aside from Mitt Romney (stop stalking me Mitt!) telling a terminally ill patient that he wouldn’t allow him to have medicine (he must be stopped!) aside from Ron Paul who has been marginalized by the process (despite rabid grassroots support).
Thank you for contacting Obama for America to inquire about the Senator’s position on allowing severely ill patients to use marijuana for medical purposes.
Many states have laws that condone medical marijuana, but the Bush Administration is using federal drug enforcement agents to raid these facilities and arrest seriously ill people. Focusing scarce law enforcement resources on these patients who pose no threat while many violent and highly dangerous drug traffickers are at large makes no sense. Senator Obama will not continue the Bush policy when he is president.