Tuesday, October 24, 2006

Humans Living Far Beyond Planet's Means

by Ben Blanchard, Tuesday, October 24, 2006 by Reuters

BEIJING - Humans are stripping nature at an unprecedented rate and will need two planets' worth of natural resources every year by 2050 on current trends, the World Wildlife Fund said on Tuesday. Populations of many species, from fish to mammals, had fallen by about a third from 1970 to 2003 largely because of human threats such as pollution, clearing of forests and overfishing, the group also said in a two-yearly report.

"For more than 20 years we have exceeded the earth's ability to support a consumptive lifestyle that is unsustainable and we cannot afford to continue down this path," WWF Director-General James Leape said, launching the WWF's 2006 Living Planet Report. "If everyone around the world lived as those in America, we would need five planets to support us," Leape, an American, said in Beijing.

The report said humans' "ecological footprint" -- the demand people place on the natural world -- was 25 percent greater than the planet's annual ability to provide everything from food to energy and recycle all human waste in 2003. In the previous report, the 2001 overshoot was 21 percent.

"On current projections humanity, will be using two planets' worth of natural resources by 2050 -- if those resources have not run out by then," the latest report said. "People are turning resources into waste faster than nature can turn waste back into resources."

"Humanity's footprint has more than tripled between 1961 and 2003," the report said. Consumption has outpaced a surge in the world's population, to 6.5 billion from 3 billion in 1960. U.N. projections show a surge to 9 billion people around 2050. It said that the footprint from use of fossil fuels, whose heat-trapping emissions are widely blamed for pushing up world temperatures, was the fastest-growing cause of strain.

Leape said China, home to a fifth of the world's population and whose economy is booming, was making the right move in pledging to reduce its energy consumption by 20 percent over the next five years. "Much will depend on the decisions made by China, India and other rapidly developing countries," he added.

The WWF report also said that an index tracking 1,300 vetebrate species -- birds, fish, amphibians, reptiles and mammals -- showed that populations had fallen for most by about 30 percent because of factors including a loss of habitats to farms.

Thursday, October 19, 2006

Metroland Article about AG Candidates and My Exclusion from Debates

Chet Hardin's October 19 article about the AG race in the Albany-area weekly, Metroland, discusses my exclusion from the AG debates.

Commercial During Debate Exposes Left Out Candidates

University of Connecticut Daily Campus
By Steven Durel Posted: 10/19/06

Viewers that watched last night's gubernatorial debate between Republican Governor Jodi Rell and Democratic challenger John DeStefano on television, might have been a little surprised to see the event accompanied by an unlikely television ad from Clifford Thornton, the Green Party nominee for governor. Many voters had not previously heard of Thornton, nor the Concerned Citizens Party nominee Joe Zdonczyk, probably in part because these men were both shut out from debating Rell and DeStefano in this year's live televised procedures.

The purpose of last night's advertisement was to send a message to viewers at home - money and power have corrupted the electoral process.

The Green Party's commercial opened with a graphic reading, "Only 2 podiums?? Cliff Thornton excluded from debates."

The ad then showed a crowd of Green party supporters protesting outside New London's Garde Arts Center during the first debate on Oct. 9. The camera moves around the group as two voiceovers can be heard.

"We want to have freedom of speech," the first voice said.

"I'm here to protest the fact that Cliff Thornton is being left out of the debates," another said.

The viewer then sees Thornton's campaign manager, Tim McKee, who said, "We want to talk about issues that these candidates are not going to talk about."

Thornton himself finally appeared on the screen.

"In many respects, being Green is like being black because you're being excluded left and right on many issues," Thornton said. "I'm Cliff Thornton and I approve this message."

At the end of the commercial there is another graphic reading, "CT 4 CT Let all voices be heard. Let Cliff in the debates," while the crowd can be heard chanting, "This is not democracy!"

According to Thornton's field manager, Ken Krayeske, the commercial cost $400 to produce and $3,300 to air.

Krayeske noted that, running by that same average of $110 per second, the major party candidates each got almost $396,000 of free airtime during the two debates. He questioned why the small parties with no money are forced to pay for short spots on television while the rich ones are given sustained periods at no cost.

"They have their boots firmly entrenched on our windpipes," Krayeske said.

Neither Rell nor DeStefano seemed to walk away from the first debate as a clear winner.

According to polls done by UConn's Center for Survey Research and Analysis for the Hartford Courant, before the debate 56 percent of voters said that they would vote for Rell and 28 percent for DeStefano.

Afterwards, however, Rell's support fell to 50 percent while DeStefano's showing stayed the same. At the same time, the portion of those polled who chose "no choice" rose from 15 percent to 21 percent.

Both major party nominees blame each other for the exclusion of minor party candidates. While the DeStefano campaign demanded that third parties be absent from two of the debates, suggesting that they would only be a distraction, Gov. Rell had simultaneously refused to meet more than twice for what Rell spokesman Richard Harris called "an extended series of debates."

Still, Thornton himself blames both parties equally for his banishment.

"They're both complicit in this," Thornton said, adding, "Why are they so afraid of us?"

Ultimately, the third-party candidate hypothesizes that it is probably because of his overall progressive message that he is being shut out. He suggests that Canadian-style healthcare, free college tuition and an end to the War on Drugs are concepts that have all been deemed far too radical by local ruling elites.

Despite the risk that the Connecticut Green Party is taking by devoting all of its funds and effort into making an impact in this one election, Thornton nevertheless remains confident that they are doing the right thing.

"The most important thing is getting the ideas out to the people," Thornton said.
© Copyright 2006 The Daily Campus

Tuesday, October 17, 2006

Let more candidates join the debates

October 17, 2006

To the Editors of the New York Times:

In your Oct. 16 editorial "Great Candidates? That’s Debatable," you say that you would like to see more debates. We also need more candidates in the debates. I was approved by the League of Women Voters for inclusion in three attorney general debates planned by the League, but two of those debates took place without me. WABC refused to include me in its attorney general debate this past Sunday, Oct. 15, and WXXI in Rochester refused to include me in its attorney general debate today, Tuesday, Oct. 17. Because of these refusals, the League withdrew its sponsorship of the two debates in a press release issued last Friday, October 13. WCNY in Syracuse has canceled a debate it previously agreed to host tomorrow, Oct. 18, between Jeanine Pirro and myself.

Excluding third party candidates from candidate debates is counter to the wishes of many voters. History shows that debate participation by third-party candidates raises debate viewership and voter turnout. The 1992 presidential debates, which included third party candidate Ross Perot, were watched by record-breaking TV audiences, averaging 90 million viewers, with a larger audience for each successive debate. Presidential voter turnout went up in 1992, reversing a 20-year downward trend. In 1996, with Perot excluded, the presidential debates averaged only 41 million viewers -- and voter turnout nosedived. In 1998, participation by third-party candidate Jesse Ventura in the gubernatorial debates in Minnesota generated massive voter turnout.

Many voters are frustrated by the closed nature of our current electoral system. A poll last spring by Princeton Survey Research Associates found that 73% of Americans agree it would be a good idea for this country to have more choices than just Republican and Democratic candidates in the 2008 presidential elections. Polls also show that many Americans do not identify as Republicans or Democrats. In a survey conducted of 15,000 voters during April 2006, Rasmussen Reports found that just 32.7% of Americans identified themselves as Republicans, 36.3% identified as Democrats and 30.9% identified themselves as unaffiliated with either major party. Policies that exclude all candidates from candidate debates except Republicans and Democrats are not reflective of voter opinions and desires.

A voter survey by Rasmussen Reports reported in August 2006, found that voters in New York are more likely than voters in any other state to express a concern about voter suppression. Thirty-four percent (34%) of the New York voters surveyed hold this view. This result is not surprising to those of us working to build viable third parties in New York and encountering the many barriers raised against us.

Let more candidates join the debates, the voters want to hear us.

Rachel Treichler
Green Party candidate for Attorney General

Monday, October 16, 2006

LWV Withdraws Sponsorship from Candidate Debates

http://lwvny.org/press_news/ Withdrawl_Sponsorship_Debates101306.pdf
October 13, 2006

"The voters of New York State deserve better," stated Marcia Merrins, President of the League of Women Voters of New York State (League), in announcing the League's withdrawal of sponsorship from a debate between candidates for the office of Attorney General to be hosted and broadcast by WXXI in Rochester on October 17, 2006. Similarly, the League withdrew sponsorship from two debates to be hosted by WABC in New York City. The first is an Attorney General debate scheduled for October 15. The second is a debate between candidates for the United States Senate scheduled for October 22. All withdrawals were necessitated by League policy, which requires an invitation be extended to each candidate whom the League has determined to be a bona fide contestant. In the case of the US Senate race, the League Board of Directors determined incumbent Senator Hillary Clinton, Republican nominee John Spencer, and Green Party nominee Howie Hawkins to be bona fide contestants. Similarly, the League determined Democratic nominee Andrew Cuomo, Republican nominee Jeanine Pirro, and Green Party nominee Rachael Treichler to be bona fide contestants in the Attorney General's race.

Merrins explained that the League adopted its policy for candidate inclusion in League-sponsored debates prior to commencement of the electoral season to keep debates free from the vagaries of the political process. Merrins noted that the League is committed to maximization of public debate by all candidates for public office. Once a candidate has complied with the League's criteria for inclusion in a debate, the League cannot sponsor a debate from which that candidate is excluded. To act otherwise would violate the League's fundamental belief in the public's right to know.

Green Candidates Cleared for LWV Debates

I was called by the League of Women Voters last week and told that Howie and I had been cleared by the League to participate in the candidate debates they are sponsoring, and that Jeanine Pirro had agreed to debate me in a debate sponsored by WCNY to be taped in Syracuse this Wed., Oct. 18. I was also told that the League was withdrawing its sponsorship of two AG debates because their media partners refused to include me: WABC on Oct. 15 in New York City, and WXXI on Oct. 17 in Rochester. I was asked to wait to release this information until I received a copy of the League's press release. I received the League's press release, issued last Friday, today. I have filed a complaint with the Monroe County Fair Elections Practices Committee to protest WXXI's actions in excluding me from the Rochester debate scheduled for tomorrow.

This morning I called Kris Hansen, the executive director of the state league and she told me that she had just received word that WCNY had withdrawn its sponsorship of the debate on Oct. 18, and that there would be no debate sponsored by WCNY.

Wednesday, October 11, 2006

Green Party Candidates Do Well in New Zogby Poll

The Green Party's candidates for governor, attorney general and US senate did very well in the new poll released yesterday by Zogby, http://www.zogby.com/news/ReadNews.dbm?ID=1180 . The poll of likely New York voters, conducted Oct. 5-9, included 761 respondents and is part of a joint project between Zogby International and the League of Women Voters of New York State.The poll shows the Green Party gubernatorial candidate Malachy McCourt at 5% among all voters and at 14% among independent voters. The numbers for attorney general candidate Rachel Treichler and US senate candidate Howie Hawkins among all voters were not released. Among independent voters Treichler received 17% and Hawkins received 21%.

Wednesday, October 04, 2006

Be A Pollwatcher for Democracy

My campaign is working with Pollworkers for Democracy to provide pollwatching opportunities in New York State to voters who are registered Green, independent or in another third party. In NYS, only registered Democrats or Republicans approved by their local party chairs can be hired as poll workers.

I encourage all registered voters to sign up with Pollworkers for Democracy as either pollworkers or pollwatchers. After you have signed up on the website, you will be contacted with pollwatching opportunities in your county, including opportunities to be a pollwatcher for my campaign.

Having a flood of informed citizens take part in running and watching elections locally will help us recover a more transparent and accountable democracy.

Pollworkers for Democracy will provide guidelines for observing the polling process, questionnaires to assist watchers in collecting key information, and a web page watchers can use to enter the data that they collect. The data gathered by watchers will be pooled so that voters can learn more about how elections are administered in various parts of New York State and in the other states of the US.

We New Yorkers are lucky that electronic voting machines are not yet widely installed in the state. But each county will have electronic voting machines in at least one polling site for disabled and other voters to use. It is particularly important to watch how these machines function. The data we collect will help counties decide what type of voting machines to purchase, and may encourage them to follow my recommendation and adopt handcounted paper ballots.

As a candidate for statewide office, I am entitled to appoint up to three pollwatchers in each polling place. Because of my concern about how the votes for the Green Party's candidates will be counted this election, I am eager to appoint enough pollwatchers to monitor as many polling places for as much of election day as possible.

It is important that the Green Party's votes are counted accurately on November 7. If Malachy McCourt, our GPNY gubernatorial candidate receives 50,000 or more votes, the Green Party will gain ballot status for the next four years. In 1998, the last time the Green Party gained ballot status, the preliminary vote count for the Green Party was only about 48,000 votes, but after Greens recounted voting machines in New York City and elsewhere around the state, that total rose to about 52,000 votes—more than enough to qualify the Green Party for ballot status.

AG Debate in Hempstead on Oct. 16

At least two attorney general candidates, Libertarian candidate Chris Garvey and I, have accepted an invitation from the Five Towns Forum to participate in an attorney general debate at Bestsellers Bookstore in Hempstead, Long Island at 7:00 pm. The bookstore is located at 43A Main Street in Hempstead. It is 35 min. on the LIRR from Penn Station to Hempstead. For more information, call Booksellers Bookstore at 516-564-1180.