Friday, April 14, 2017

Paul Robeson: A Biography - Recommended Reading

Paul Robeson: A Biography by Martin Duberman
book review


Paul Robeson was simply the very best at whatever he did. He excelled in athletics and dramatic acting, and he had a world class singing voice.
 
I am totally amazed at this man’s abilities and his humanitarianism coupled with his crusade for world peace with freedom and justice for all.

By the end of WWII Paul Robeson was earnestly doing everything in his power to stomp out lynchings and segregation that was going from bad to worse. General Eisenhower eloquently proclaimed in a 1945 speech that blacks had been friends in need to the U.S. government along with the USSR in waging war against the Nazi Axis powers of Germany, Italy and Japan.

After WWII the U. S. implemented the Cold War to perpetuate its hold on world power and immediately things got worse for Robeson and the USSR. McCarthyism began under Truman and went wild with Eisenhower in the 1950s.

You will need to read this true and revealing book ...I will not spill the beans here and spoil your read. This book has a monumental message, and I strongly recommend it. 

Excerpts:
Paul Robeson’s voice is all honey and persuasion;
His voice has all the power of Chaliapin’s and practically the same range, but there the likeness ends. Paul Robeson’s voice is all honey and persuasion, yearning and searching, and probing the heart of the listener in every tiniest phrase. A rich, generous, mellow, tender, booming voice that you think couldn’t say a bitter word or a biting sentence with a whole lifetime of practice. A voice like his is worth waiting ten years to hear, and an art like his comes once in a generation…

Robeson went on the radio to introduce songs of the International Brigade during the Spanish Civil War, appeared at a rally in behalf of the China Defense League, helped to dedicate the Children’s Aid Society in Harlem, and, along with a host of other celebrities, appeared at a mass meeting sponsored by the Committee to Defend America by Keeping Out of War, to protest conscription and other preparedness measures. There he argued, yet again, that under their present leadership Britain and France were essentially engaged in a struggle to protect the profits of plutocrats, not the rights of the people.

As late as March 1941, Robeson told a reporter that he was against aid for Britain because he believed the mobilization was primarily aimed at saving the British Empire. According to the reporter, Robeson spoke “angrily” and “stormed” over the refusal of the British ruling class to do anything “about giving India and Ireland and Africa a taste of democracy.”

June 1941, the war would become, in Robeson’s eyes, an unimpeachable and united struggle against fascism…

On March 12, 1956, 101 Southern members of Congress issued a “Declaration of Constitutional Principles,” which called on their states to refuse implementation of the desegregation order. Defiance became the watchword in the white South, massive resistance the proof of regional loyalty. Every item in the white-supremacist bag of tricks—from “pupil-placement” laws to outright violence—was utilized to forestall integration of the schools.

The Ku Klux Klan donned its masks and hoods; the respectable middle class enrolled in White Citizens’ Councils; the press and pulpit resounded with calls to protect the safety of the white race. A tide of hatred and vigilantism swept over the South. Some blacks knuckled under in fear; many more dug in, prepared once again to endure—and this time overcome. On December 1, 1955, in Montgomery, Alabama, Rosa Parks, a forty-two-year-old black seamstress, stubbornly refused to give up her bus seat to a white man—thereby launching the Montgomery bus boycott, energizing black resistance, catapulting Martin Luther King, Jr., and his strategy of nonviolent direct action to the forefront of the movement. An epoch of black insurgency had been ushered in.



Thursday, April 13, 2017

Germany, Green, Clean, Solar, Wind, and Recycling

 
GERMANY, GREEN AND CLEAN - Leading the world and on the cutting edge in solar, wind and recycling technologies. Updated 2017.

 Still fully functional after more than two centuries of dependable, clean and non-polluting production, this 1802 grain mill in northern Germany combines hydro with wind power, cleanly powering Germany.

Germany may not have been the first to initiate these green and environmentally clean power sources but on the eve of the Industria lRevolution they were there to lead in innovation. An example is the mill pictured above where two sources of power are tapped so either wind or water will keep production dependable.

In the above photo, John and Jane Grimsrud enjoy the world’s best bicycling with their novel Dahon folding bicycles that fit perfectly with Germany’s extensive well marked paved bicycle paths. Buses, trains, airplanes and even the ferry boats are bicycle friendly and accommodating here.
Bicycles are a way of life in Germany, children ride to school, and adults go to work and shopping, tourists vacation cross-country staying at bed and bike hotels. This goes on year round in sun or snow. Electric or E-bikes are now diminishing automobile usage as they make a big clean air impact.

Germany, besides having excellent bike route maps and smooth paved trails, which are clearly marked with information signs like the one above, has set a world standard. These information signs are literally loaded with facts. Even the small red and green tabs above, 9, 10, V, and the petroleum pump indicate special bicycle tour routes that are designated on biking maps available at book stores and tourist offices. Digital versions are available on mobile navigator devices.

From left, natural gas pump, wind farm, and paved bicycle path...clean and green.
 

Germany has gone all-out to make your bicycling experience world class. This is one of thousands of covered bicycle shelters that are conveniently placed, meticulously clean, and well equipped with tables and benches. Note the plate glass picture windows and barred off parking place. For bikers only…no cars.
  This historic canal dates from the 1870’s and was built by the muscle of man and beast. Connecting to the textile center of Nordhorn, this Ems-Vechte Canal heads east and links with the Dortmund Ems Canal that was built in 1899.
The busy and sill active Dortmund Ems Canal connects the German industrial heartland with the North Sea Port of Emden. Most of these interconnected canals that crisscross Europe have lovely bicycle paths with numerous covered shelters and plenty of accommodations. This is cycling as good as it gets.
The monumental effort required to complete this European canal system must rank with the wonders of the world for human engineering and effort.
Initially the canal traffic was moved by beasts of burden plodding along a tow path, next steam engines did the work.
Nordhorn, Germany is still a city of canals, but its heavy industry no longer exists. Now this beautiful canal is silent except for the birds that have made it their seasonal home.
The incredibly beautiful hardwood forest that flanks the border is now quietly enjoyed by bicyclers. They glide silently beneath the towering shade trees on the bike paths stopping along the way at the numerous covered picnic tables like the one above.
In downtown Nordhorn this neatly dressed lady is doing her shopping by bicycle with her young child comfortably riding in the attached kiddie cart. Notice the cleanliness of the brick street.
Even the dependable German postal service that delivers rain or shine is ecologically friendly with these specially equipped bicycles.
This photo is taken at a grocery store where you can see that bicycling clients have top parking priority.
Also in the above photos notice the cleanliness that is the German standard.
Now supermarkets and shopping centers have charging stations for electric bikes.
In the balance of things ecological, bicycling is as close to an equilibrium with nature as you can get. Here in Europe, bicycling to school, work, shopping, and recreation, is an every day part of life.
In 2010 six percent of Germany’s power requirements were met with wind, by 2015, wind power in Germany was 13.3 percent with 26,772 wind turbines making it the third largest producer of wind power in the world.
In Germany wind generated electric power enters the grid.
Netherlands trains now are powered exclusively by wind power.

CURRENT WIND POWER OUTPUT NUMBERS
Even with solar and wind generation lower emissions of CO2 are hard to achieve as demand skyrockets. Germany is burning fossil fuel equal to 15 years ago. Residential rates have now tripled as demand continues to increase. Solar and wind have become imperative for a green and clean future.

In June of 2014 Germany achieved a milestone rewarded with 50 percent of its electricity demand from solar power, which was half of the entire world’s production at the time. Germany is unquestionably the world leader.

Renewable power now generates 27 percent of Germany’s electricity. Ten years earlier it stood at 9%. Ultimately the goal is to do away with coal and nuclear.
Chancellor Angela Merkel wants Germany to shut all 17 of its nuclear reactors by 2022. Nine have already been retired as renewable picked up the slack.

Germany with the world’s fourth largest economy until 2009, has pledged aggressive emission cuts. By 2020 they are on track for a 40 percent cut of 1990 levels, and by 2050 they want at least an 80 percent reduction.

Germany still gets more electricity from coal than from renewable sources. Transportation and heating emits more carbon dioxide (CO₂) than power plants. Dirty lignite mines continue operating and are expected to do so until 2050.
Determination and dedication to fulfilling this ecological problem while balancing economic and demand issues requires a united community spirit.

Germany was a bombed wasteland 70 years ago and has shown extraordinary rebuilding resilience.
In the years after World War II, with a demolished country to rebuild, there was scant questioning of past governments. The 1970s saw rebuilding completed. Questions arose about who started and lost the war. The German people no longer automatically accepted authority.
Germany plans to continue being an industrial country. Their plans are to use half as much energy as before and get a minimum of 80 percent of its power from renewable sources. If anybody in the world is capable of this it is Germany.

Germany now produces more than two dozen models of electric cars with plans of a million by 2020. Forty-thousand electric cars are already in use and electric bicycles are seen everywhere and fulfilling a large part of the transportation requirements. All of the above mentioned quality electric vehicles are made in German.
Enercon the German company that designs, manufactures, and installs non-smoking colossal wind generators that make life cleaner and better has an impressive track record. In the past ten years they have more than quadrupled the clean electrical power they are providing, and they are on track to meet their goal of supplying twenty-five percent of Germany’s electrical power requirements with wind alone.
In the above photo you can get a perspective of the size of these wind-powered generators when compared to Jane on her bicycle.

This wind generating station at Bimolten, Germany has fourteen generators producing the electrical energy necessary to power 14,000 four person households. This wind farm is one of many in the area. Here in north Germany the homes are truly total electric.
North Germany is at nearly 53˚North latitude, about the same latitude as southern Hudson’s Bay in Canada. Photovoltaic or solar electrical generation has more than come of age here. They top the world in solar generation.
Solen Energy Company at nearby Meppen, Germany, is the manufacturer, distributor, and installer of nearly all of these photovoltaic panels, but BP, Shell Oil, and Sharp Electronics have also been major players in this green revolution. The above private home is a good example of how the people with government incentives have made a positive impact in leading the world in clean living.

Solar electrical generation is everywhere in Germany. Private homes, government buildings , industrial facilities and even farms, are all getting involved.
This two-hundred meter long pig farming facility has been fitted with enough solar generating panels to provide the power to take care of the needs of at least twelve private homes.
In the back-ground is a wind farm, one of many in the area, cleanly producing more electrical power.
Believe it or not, but Nordhorn, Germany, even has a solar powered excursion boat that gives canal tours.
Here at these northern latitudes solar heated water systems in homes are very common and becoming more popular all the time.

 
Nothing goes to waste here in Germany. Propane, butane, methane, and other gases that are by-products of petroleum and farm product production are separated and used to heat, generate, and propel. Clean, quiet, and efficient, the above auto proudly advertises the fact that it is going far with earth-gas. 



Taking bio-energy another step further, this vibrant field of sunflowers is being cultivated to provide the component required to make enough heat energy through gasification to warm the large complex of buildings at Frenswegen Kloster near Nordhorn, Germany.
This is part of the building complex to be heated by the above sunflower field.

 
Again Germany takes the lead when it comes to recycling. The people are responsible for disposal of their own glass garbage. Homeowners dutifully remove corks and caps from their glass containers and according to color, green, clear, and brown, deposit them in containers like the ones you see above found in neighborhoods and at shopping places. The grocery stores have places for disposal of batteries, corks, and even all merchandise packaging…this is the law.
Most all grocery stores also have automated bottle returns for bottles with deposit. You put your bottles in one at a time, they are scanned, and when you are done, press a button, and the machine then prints out an itemized credit slip that you turn in at the check-out.
Different colored refuge containers for sorted garbage are collected on specified days.
Garden waste material is not picked up and must be taken to the municipal disposal center. The upside of this is that the city then does the complete composting process and homeowners are welcome to then pick up as much fully composted material as they want at no charge. In other words, the city composts, stores and makes available as much as you want when you want it.
In 2016 Nordhorn expanded and modernized their garbage recycling facility.
This is garbage pick up day in Germany. Notice that the canisters are precisely parked exactly on the curb line. This is something that the Germans take special pride in…precision!
The plastic bags with draw-strings are for recyclable plastics disposal and are given out free of charge at the grocery stores.
Many public park benches and tables are made from this re-cycled plastic.
This 1600’s vintage water driven mill at the little town of Lage near Nordhorn is still fully functional and in service to this day, cleanly operating without burning a single drop of fossil fuel.

Germany is a tough act to follow. 


May the rest of the world follow Germany's exemplary example and make this world a better place for all of us.









 

Tuesday, January 10, 2017

Passionate Declarations: Essays on War and Justice by Howard Zinn



Passionate Declarations: Essays on War and Justice by Howard Zinn is a
Howard Zinn classic: excellence in research, top quality editing, superior insight and perceptiveness.

I loved the book’s curiosity building momentum that was unrelenting. Zinn wove this informative volume around the Constitution and its Bill of Rights putting an interesting prospective on its framers, their contemporaries, and detractors. I would only recommend this book to those people who want to contemplate history objectively.

Excerpt:

In the 1960s, a student at Harvard Law School addressed parents and alumni with these words:

“The streets of our country are in turmoil. The universities are filled with students rebelling and rioting. Communists are seeking to destroy our country. Russia is threatening us with her might. And the republic is in danger. Yes! danger from within and without. We need law and order! Without law and order our nation cannot survive. There was prolonged applause. When the applause died down, the student quietly told his listeners: These words were spoken in 1932 by Adolf Hitler.”

Howard Zinn (August 24, 1922 – January 27, 2010) was an American historian, playwright, and social activist. He was a political science professor at Boston University. Zinn wrote more than twenty books, including his best-selling and influential A People's History of the United States. In 2007, he published a version of it for younger readers, A Young People′s History of the United States.

Zinn described himself as "something of an anarchist, something of a socialist. Maybe a democratic socialist." He wrote extensively about the civil rights and anti-war movements, and labor history of the United States. His memoir, You Can't Be Neutral on a Moving Train, was also the title of a 2004 documentary about Zinn's life and work. Zinn died of a heart attack in 2010, aged 87. From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia.

“In our country we have those three unspeakably precious things: freedom of speech, freedom of conscience, and the prudence never to practice either.” 
Mark Twain