Honest Politicians

Ethics in politics can work wonders. Case in point: Senator Jim Jeffords, whose principles and courage triggered a political role reversal in Washington. Jeffords’ environmental commitment is sincere. The League of Conservation Voters’ National Environmental Scorecard ranks Jeffords as the greenest member of the Senate and named Jeffords to its EarthList honor roll of pro-environment candidates.

Imagine the possibilities. Sen. John McCain (R-AZ) also declares himself an independent and allies with Jeffords, giving rise to a new political party. Another wild scenario: Representatives Bernie Sanders (Independent-VT), Barney Frank (D-MA) and Senator Paul Wellstone (D-MN) meet over cups of organic, fair-trade, shade-grown coffee and decide to addiliate as Greens.

Take Back the Airwaves

The Democratic Media Legal Project is preparing a court challenge to AOL Time Warner, Disney-ABC, GE-NBC, Viacom-CBS-Westinghouse, Bertlesman and Rupert Murdoch’s News Corp-Fox (the six media megacorps that control most US cable, TV, radio, news, Internet and print outlets). The DMLP [3450 Geary Boulevard, Suite 208, San Francisco, CA 94118, wgskroll@igc.org] argues that the 1996 Telecommunications Act violates the protection of the First Amendment.

Commercialize Hemp

California Assemblymember Virginia Strom-Martin’s Assembly Bill 448 would legalize the commercial production of industrial hemp. Hemp, which is not the same as marijuana, is legally grown in Canada, France, Germany and China. “Industrial hemp offers a very real and immediate solution to deforestation, the abuses of the petrochemical industry and the destruction of our topsoil,” Strom-Martin says.

“Industrial hemp is a versatile crop that has a number of uses and requires very little maintenance,” Strom-Martin told fellow legislators. It can be used to produce “paper, textiles, food, building materials and… fuel.” When used as a rotation crop, hemp has the ability “to reduce pests and weed growth and to boost the yields of the primary crop.” And California’s climate guarantees three harvests a year.

“It is absolutely ridiculous that the sole reason for its illegality is because of absurd claims made at the height of this nation’s ‘yellow journalism’ era.” Industrial hemp was the victim of a smear campaign orchestrated by the Hearst-owned newspaper chain.

In the 1930s, technological breakthroughs made it economically possible to produce newsprint from hemp. William Randolph Hearst had invested heavily in Mexican forests to provide woodpulp for his paper mills. A Hearst newspaper campaign against “marijuana” succeeded in outlawing hemp in 1937. [“The Forgotten History of Hemp,” Autumn 1990 EIJ.]

Strom-Martin has been named Legislator of the Year by the California County Auditors’ Associations, Assemblymember of the Year by the California School Board Association and Legislator of the Year by the California Parks & Recreation Society. [http://www.cair.net]

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