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The Real Terrorists; State Pushes Casinos Over Citizens

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Tuesday, September 10, 2013

The Real Terrorists

As we observe the 12th anniversary of the attacks on the World Trade Center and other sites, I believe we’re fighting the wrong war on terror. The horror and destruction we’re heading for will be unimaginably worse than what happened on 9/11 for ourselves, our children, grandchildren, and all other sacred life on the planet.

I’m referring to climate change, caused by global warming, caused by the ever-increasing amount of carbon that we and other industrialized nations are spewing into the atmosphere. The vast majority of climate scientists agree that 350 parts per million is the highest safe amount, and it should be much lower. A few months ago we topped 400 for the first time in 3 million years!

The real terrorists are the energy corporations and banks that are jeopardizing our future just to make more profits on oil, coal, gas from fracking, and dangerous nuclear power. For instance, here in our own green Pioneer Valley, we’ve got TD Banks in every major town and city. TD touts its green image for conserving paper and building energy-efficient offices, which I support. But it’s also a major investor in the Canadian Tar Sands oil mine—the biggest industrial site on the planet—and the pipelines its operators want to build to transport this very toxic oil.

President Obama will soon decide whether to approve building this Keystone XL pipeline from western Canada down to Texas. Over a million Americans have written him in the past year urging him to say no, as did 10 Nobel Peace Prize winners recently. Nearly 2,000 people, including top U.S. climate expert Dr. James Hansen, recently retired from NASA, have been arrested at nonviolent protests at the White House and elsewhere.

I urge the public to boycott TD until it stops bankrolling and worsening climate change by its Tar Sands oil investment. Get more info at climateactionnowma.org or johnpberk@gmail.com.

 

State Pushes Casinos Over Citizens

I’ve just learned an important lesson in civics—or, should I say, I’ve learned it yet again: we don’t live in a democracy. The only thing our politicians listen to is money. State Attorney General Martha Coakley’s office rejected the submission of a ballot initiative petition for the 2014 election submitted by the Repeal the Casino Deal folks to repeal the law legalizing gambling casinos and slots in this state.

Our Legislature pushed casinos through after back-room deals were made with little public discussion or debate. This would have been an opportunity for the public to finally have a say on this issue that has so many outraged. Sure, Springfield and Palmer and West Springfield can vote on casinos in their midsts. But what about Monson and Longmeadow and Agawam and all the other communities that live in proximity to the casinos but have no say or get no mitigation money? What about the folks who live within 50 miles of a casino whose family members will be sucked in by the power of gambling addiction? What about any resident who doesn’t want to see the corrupting influence of casinos in this state?

At a forum in Chicopee several years ago, where Professor Robert Goodman eloquently blasted UMass-Dartmouth’s resident casino advocate Clyde Barrow over the economic soundness of these addiction factories, I over heard a sharky-looking casino lawyer tell some eager beaver casino buffs not to worry: it was a done deal. The fix was in. Former state senator Susan Tucker and crusaders against casinos warned the Repeal the Casino Deal folks that their petition would never be allowed. Naively, I thought this could be fought. Stupidly, I believed in democracy. Well, the first lesson in civics is that money corrupts, and tons of money corrupt absolutely. Think of that as they pommel Syria against our wishes. I know I’m one person who won’t vote for Martha Coakley or any other politician who foisted casinos on us without giving the voters a chance for serious public discussion and an opportunity to decide for themselves. But I also know my vote doesn’t matter anyway.

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