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Peter DuMont - Fri Oct 27, 2017 @ 02:30PM
Comments: 2

  • Dear Readers: The following is a slightly edited version of a post I made to KQED's Forum show 2017 October 27th, hosted by Mina Kim on the topic: 
    North Bay Faith Communities Play a Role in Wildfire Recovery.  You can listen to the show here.Avatar
  • 1PeterDuMont2STARALLIANCE8 • 

    This comment will not be comforting, but since it could contribute to life-saving on a truly massive scale, I feel a duty to express it.

    Years ago I heard a Native American elder speak to the effect that Mother Earth was running a fever — that she was unhappy with what human beings, collectively, were doing to her.

    With great sympathy for those directly affected, it occurred to me during the fires that 'This is nothing compared to a single nuclear incident — much less an exchange' — which scientists like climatologist Alan Robock have been warning could easily lead to a Nuclear Winter.

    Nuclear Winter, of course, is precisely caused by smoke from uncontrollable urban fires on top of the initial blasts. This smoke would spread out and fill our precious Earth atmosphere all over.  Aside from being very difficult and unhealthy to breathe, the smoke would block the sun, causing temperatures to plummet, and crop failure and death throughout the Earth.

    If we consider these recent fires (and the acceleration of hurricane rates in frequency and intensity) relatively kind, early warning shots from Mother Nature; we will each do our sober best to raise public awareness and support the historic Nuclear Weapons Ban passed by 122 nations at the United Nations 2017 July 7th [The Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons], and also our sober best to see that it gets ratified by the required fifty nations, first of all, and subsequently put into practice by all nations.

    We, the People of Earth, and specifically the Nuclear Powers of Earth, have been flirting with totally unacceptable risks in this regard for far too long already.  Mother and Father Nature are warning us: Be care-full with ourselves, with one another, and with Them.


  • Comments: 2
    Comments: 1

    Grameen Bank founder and Nobel laureate Muhammad Yunus was interviewed 2017 October 9th by star host Michael Krasny on KQED's Forum radio talk show.  Yunus has authored a new book, Three Zeroes, about eliminating environmental destruction, unemployment, and devastating inequality by harnessing for the masses the power of entrepreneurship.

    During the interview, Yunus expressed doubt that law could adequately address shocking inequality gaps. (He pointed to the power differentials that wealth creates even under law.) 

    He also described a brilliant adaptation (or one could say completion) of the Pyramid social-economic model.  In the latter, the rich are at the top and the poor are at the large base, whereas in the Diamond model, there is another pyramid directly underneath, base-to-base with the first one.  Thus, a few super-rich make up the top, and an equally few super-poor appear at the bottom point, with the majority of society making up the middle.

    I posted the following comments (with minor edits here) in the citizen-participation section of the show's website.

    • 1PeterDuMont2STARALLIANCE8 • 

      1) Thank you for your life's work! Today is Columbus Day, or variably: Indigenous People's Day.  We might also call it (incorporating both): Global Pioneers' Day!  Host and guest alike deserve this appellation.

      2) I love the Wealth Diamond idea. Thank you for that simple powerful metaphor!

      3) Here's a slogan which, if not new, I haven't heard enough of: EACH ONE HELP ONE.  Let's have more of this in our society and spread the load of assisting the poor and injured!

      4) Mr. Yunus was dismissive of law as a means of fixing social ills and extreme polarization.  But law will help a lot when more poor people can make use of it promptly and enjoy its protections. We need to counterbalance Economic Discrimination Before the Law with A Universal Right to Civil Counsel.

      5) To help accomplish this, a model somewhat akin to the Grameen Bank-like model can be employed, in the sense of honoring the potential of the poor; helping them to help themselves. Here is the idea in brief: Establish a dedicated fund, with earnings sufficient to hire a small panel of attorneys and support staff.  Solicit applications for civil legal representation from poor people in a given area. Carefully select cases that are likely to win monetary awards (just as contingency lawyers do when bigger winnings are involved!) Settle or prosecute these cases, and use a disclosed percentage of the winnings to grow the fund and serve more clients!

      Not only will many individuals be helped in a critical way; the entire community of the rich and powerful will be put on notice: they just might not get away with quiet and/or systemic abuse of the poor.

      The need, purpose, and importance of this plan may be obvious to some. For others, here is some added information and commentary.

      Such a movement would help fill the terrible gap left for the poor under the current contingency system regarding civil matters. Many civil cases of the poor, although critical to their lives and careers, do not involve enough money (or in some cases, involve too much risk) to attract the business needs and motivations of attorneys under the contingency system. These attorneys normally contract for 30-40% of winnings and charge nothing up front. That formula works fine for personal injury cases with high provable damages and deep pockets or adequate insurance on the defendant's side — but it doesn't work at all for most other categories of complaint the poor encounter, which usually don't meet these two criteria.

      Because the staff attorneys of the Grameen (or perhaps we could say the STAR ALLIANCE) model would receive salaries and not be dependent on big commissions; they could spend their time representing the poor and the agency would nevertheless be sustainable.

      Just as in the contingency law business, careful selection of cases — almost surely to be victorious for money damages AND collectible, once won — is vital to success.

      Without such an institutionalized, creative solution for the poor; they are systematically left outside to suffer helplessly (with the exception of VERY NARROW cases categories covered by under-funded legal aid.) The abused poor are also at grave risk of at least tripling their own damages by trying, unsuccessfully, to work the system themselves without the vital training required — this while already off-balance and damaged by the injuries they seek to redress! This gap in the practical legal system is an ugly reality, utterly horrible to experience, which tears at the entire fabric of society and could soon tear it up.

      Filling in this one, glaring gap in our legal system would heal and empower large numbers of individual actors and help close — by uncountable, individual means — the treacherous economic and social gaps which Yunus and other great minds have warned are unacceptably dangerous to everyone.

    Comments: 1
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    The following short essay is about preventing future wars and atrocities by fixing egregious structural limitations on effective global democracy in (and through) the United Nations.  It was first posted as a listener comment, at KQED.org/forum on 2017 September 13th; stimulated by the show's discussion of "Textbook Ethnic Cleansing" alleged right now in Myanmar. 

    From: 1PeterDuMont2STARALLIANCE8 • 

    To answer your caller's question to the effect: "Why doesn't the U.N. do anything?..." 

    The Security Council, which has fifteen member countries at any given time, includes five permanent members — China, France, Russia, the UK, and the USA.  The other ten member countries on the Council at any time, rotate in and out on two-year terms; and since there are about two-hundred member countries (193 to be exact), the five big historical players have hugely disproportionate power.  In addition to their permanent status, any one of them can block action by the entire Security Council with their single vote withheld. This is the so-called "UN Veto," which is never mentioned by that name in the Charter language.

    The good news is: it is absolutely legally possible, under Article 109 of the Charter, to call for a UN Charter Review at virtually any time.  This would amount to a Global Constitutional Convention, and with this, We the People of the World, through the current UN structure itself, would have a chance to upgrade the legal realities of our nascent global democracy to a more fair system. We could create a sensible override feature for the Veto, for example, such as we have in the United States over a Presidential Veto. And we could upgrade the UN in other important ways such as creating some form of population-linked, directly-elected representation, which is now entirely feasible in the Internet Age.  This would augment the General Assembly, which is a kind of "Senate of Nations" where the head of each nation, whether elected or not, appoints one senator.

    In the 72 year history of the UN (which body was put together in a matter of months after WWII), Article 109 has NEVER been activated. I believe this is from a-priori discouragement that all five of the permanent Security Council members, who vote is required for final ratification, would ever agree on a reasonable change.  This combined with ignorance on the part of the public and frankly, most in officialdom, too: on how, specifically, to get started on this vital discussion.

    As with so many things, it is a matter of knowledge and political will. This opportunity is very important and worthy of mass attention as soon as possible!  "Natural Law," as it were, will keep "hammering us" in different ways until it finally gets our attention and we fix our own global governance dysfunctions. No mystical outside force is going to do it for us.  Meanwhile, we face no less than the harsh and costly realities of Climate Change and the very real possibility of sudden global death through Nuclear Winter!  The Big Five — and literally everyone — are encouraged to see clearly, rationally, and quickly: their own self-interest in making way for progressive changes by these and other means.

    The caller and other alert citizens are invited to volunteer or donate to nonprofits including the UNA (United Nations Associations or "citizen-booster chapters," of which there are several in the Bay Area alone) and the STAR ALLIANCE Foundation of Berkeley, for example, with which I have been volunteering for thirty years(!) They can also contact their elected officials and generally "Talk it up."  We must BUILD POLITICAL WILL for the points outlined above.

    Upgrading the structure and function of democracy at the global level is one of the very best ways — and certainly a necessary component — of preventing future wars and atrocities.  We must act promptly.  We are not helpless in the Challenge of Peace.

    Comments: 2
    Peter DuMont - Mon Jul 24, 2017 @ 07:00PM
    Comments: 5
    The following essay was first composed as a comment for KQED-FM's outstanding Forum show with Michael Krasny on 2017 July 24th.  Krasny hosted Nobel Laureate Al Gore at the end of the hour, following the producers of his new film on Climate Change: An Inconvenient Sequel: Truth to Power.  The entire show can be accessed here.
    Avatar

    It has long seemed obvious to me that "The Big Bucket" of global resources needed to arrest and remediate climate change is still largely squandered on armaments and unresolved conflicts.

    A truly tiny fraction of the defense budgets of the world re-directed to more effective conflict resolution and prevention — at every level of society — would soon unlock sufficient resources to preserve our collective environment. A positive, solution-oriented Citizens Media Network will help stimulate and maintain such an intelligent shift of policy priorities. And by the way, the militaries of the world can help employ the network for peace by guaranteeing security in designated media stations, allowing conflicting parties opportunities to talk to each other, let off steam, and reach understanding from a safe distance.

    As touched on by Mr. Shenk in today's discussion — the peace, environmental, and social justice movements should attempt to integrate and support each other even more explicitly than they have to date. The media network will be a great project to engage together and foster this goal ongoingly.  An exposition of baseline civic values for good social behavior to catalyze this effort, and improvements generally, may be found at www.STARALLIANCE.org, which can also provide a good brand for the network.

    Upgrading the United Nations to a truer form of democracy — via a population-based house and a legislative override on the veto at the Security Council — will be particularly vital. This process is NOT a nonstarter. Article 109 of the U.N. Charter provides a mechanism for its own review at virtually any time. It is the political will and focus on this vital process that is needed. Rather than assuming current veto-holding nations to be their mortal enemies, other nations and peoples should be asking The Big Five (U.S., Russia, China, France, and the U.K.) to lead the campaign in the interests of collective security, peace, justice, and love for both nature and humanity.

    Comments: 5
    Peter DuMont - Tue Jul 11, 2017 @ 02:05AM
    Comments: 5

    Editor's Note: The following is a heartfelt, and one hopes also well-reasoned comment first posted to the United States Government in care of the National Parks Conservancy Association website on 2017 July 10. — PBD

    When I was 16 years old and just learning to drive...my family took a memorable road trip across the United States, from Piedmont, California, to Boston, to visit my cheerful aging grandfather. On the same trip we visited some of the great national monuments in Washington, D.C. and experienced the excitement and speed of New York City.
    Surprisingly, the most vivid and lasting memory of all was stopping at Craters of the Moon National Monument, for just an hour or two on the way back home.
    The family all went down a long vertical ladder into the awesome OWL Volcanic Tube and explored both ends. By the time we emerged, the sun was setting in the west over the nearby mountains. Etched on my soul, brain, and body from that moment is the deep, literal meaning of "purple mountains' majesty." A painting by that name [created by the international author-artist Mamade Kadreebux] now hangs in my bedroom and greets me, morning and night.
    How can one put a price on such an experience? 
     And how could one dare upset this rich national heritage of our great nation — whether for Craters of the Moon or any other national monument?
    The unique wildness of the terrain at each core site depends on an adequate buffer in the surrounding territory, within the protected region. I beg the current Administration to respect the wisdom of this tradition. It transcends individual and commercial interests in favor of the universal and the timeless.
    Specific to Craters of the Moon: during the exciting successful Apollo Moon Shots of the late 1960's, and periodically throughout my life, I have had occasion to reflect on and appreciate the NASA astronaut training activities that occurred there; and to enjoy even the unseen presence of our other National Monuments and other protected lands which together form a vastly enhanced level of Being in our great nation.
    Of course there are also economic advantages of these wild lands accruing to the domestic recreation and international tourism industries that depend on them. This practical advantage to the entire national community must not be endangered in preference to more limited interests.
    An attack on one of America's national monuments is an attack on the higher interests of all. Therefore, I am opposed to any attempts to rescind or alter the size of any one of our country's national monuments.
    "Act not for the fruits of action." 
     Just do the right thing, and the fruits will follow.
    To quote the venerable poet and playwright James Shirley:
    "Only the actions of the just smell sweet, and blossom in the dust."
    In advance: Thank you for paying attention!

    Peter DuMont; Principle Founder, Writer, and Public Educator; 
    STAR ALLIANCE™: Good Will Education Foundation for All™
    [Also adapted for the Bears Ears National Monument (and all monuments); the latter submitted at 11:42 pm Pacific Time July 10th.] PBD
    Comments: 5
    Peter DuMont - Thu Jul 06, 2017 @ 11:44PM
    Comments: 5

    On the dramatic eve of the first in-person summit between Russian President Vladimir V. Putin and U.S. President Donald J. Trump, it would be well for these leaders and all the great powers to contemplate one of the supremely overriding needs, challenges, and principled goals of this moment in world history: to achieve a quantum jump in the evolution of true global democracy.

    Population-based representation at the global level will give the crucial stamp of legitimacy to world democracy.  With the dawn of the Internet Age, this is now a practical possibility, and we should seize the moment.  We must boldly conceive and execute.  Population-based representation is the great missing element in the current, wobbly structure, moving ever-so-slowly toward effective world governance at a time of multiple, accelerating threats. This is the time to pay attention to our global decision-making structure.  We cannot afford to dilly-dally around. It is the gigantic elephant in the room that nobody is talking about.  It is the Emperor's New Clothes that no one dares mention.  Yet how can we think of ourselves as democratic world citizens without population-based representation?

    Just as North Korea's leaders must be challenged — and inspired — to live up to the dignity of their country's official name: The Democratic People's Republic of Korea; so the five permanent member nations of the United Nation's Security Council must be challenged — and inspired — to live up to their privileged status.  They are the ones, with their outsized power (which currently has nothing to do with population!), who must lead the campaign to upgrade the Body's status with a fair-minded additional legislative House, and a legislative veto override.  Article 109 of the U.N. Charter provides the mechanism for calling a Charter Review Conference.

    Whether we contemplate avoiding Nuclear Winter and other unspeakable horrors, facing up to global air pollution and other dire environmental threats, refraining from interference in other countries' elections; resolving the crises in North Korea, Syria, Kashmir, Palestine, and many other areas; we should look to upgrading the United Nations, from within its own structure, as our primary practical political means.

    Without a major overhaul, we are simply spinning the roulette wheel and flirting irresponsibly with potentially irreversible disasters.

    Everyone, from the high and mighty to the homeless of any land, may contemplate the classic English poet John Donne's words at this time:

    No man is an island,
    Entire of itself.
    Each is a piece of the continent,
    A part of the main.
    If a clod be washed away by the sea,
    Europe is the less.
    As well as if a promontory were.
    As well as if a manor of thine own
    Or of thine friend's were.
    Each man's death diminishes me,
    For I am involved in mankind.
    Therefore, send not to know
    For whom the bell tolls,
    It tolls for thee.

    [Special thanks to STAR ALLIANCE Advisor Karl Mitchener for helping stimulate and refine this post, 2017-7-6 & 7.  — PBD]

    POST NOTE added 2017 July 11th ET:

    For those who legitimately fear control of the world by the great population centers — in the event of a truer form of global democracy consisting of 1) a population-based house for the United Nations and 2) a legislative override on the current veto structure — please consider that true democratic representation at the global level may be the very liberating solution required to ensure responsible freedoms for everyone in the world!  As outlined by historical U.S. President Franklin Delano Roosevelt: Freedom of speech, freedom of worship, freedom from want, and freedom from fear.  — PBD

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    2017-5-31: MESSAGE SENT C/O WHITEHOUSE.GOV

    Dear Mr. President: On behalf of the STAR ALLIANCE • FOUNDATION FOR ALL (www.STARALLIANCE.org), for the health and safety of all Americans; the very air we breathe, the safety of our coastlines (not to mention the welfare of humanity around the world); PLEASE support the Paris Climate Agreement!
    Ours and future generations will be thanking you for respecting scientific consensus and common sense alike!
    Peter Bruce DuMont
    *****
    ADDED NOTE TO PRESIDENT TRUMP & ALL READERS:
    Please read the immediate previous post about the "Real and Present Dangers" of Nuclear Winter...Which of course would be the most cataclysmic and irreversible climate change of all. [Reference the classic "Fire and Ice" poem by Robert Frost.]
    Comments: 2
    Peter DuMont - Sun Apr 30, 2017 @ 06:55PM
    Comments: 5

    The following, with a new title, is a copy of my post to KQED-FM’s Forum on 2017 February 10th:

    The Threat of Nuclear Winter and "Good Will as Defense"

    The Public's Right to Know, & an Important Public Policy Recommendation

    All-out nuclear war is definitely not necessary to threaten U.S. national security. 

    Nuclear Winter is the much more likely and immediate threat.

    Rutgers University climatologist Alan Robock and others have pointed out for years that even a relatively small number of initial nuclear explosions between India and Pakistan, for example, would start

    huge, uncontrollable fires in their big cities. Heavy soot would spread quickly, darkening the entire planet. We could all freeze to death or, more likely, starve to death from massive crop failures over a slightly longer period.

    Recognizing this totally unacceptable possibility --

    Wouldn't it be good, precisely for America's self interest:

    1) Straightforwardly to acknowledge this astonishing threat [to a broad global public] and the [worldwide] interdependence it implies.

    2) Save substantial overkill nuclear modernization resources, for example, and direct these instead -- as a matter of STRATEGIC DEFENSE -- toward proactive efforts for global peacemaking?

    These efforts should include using interactive mass media for promoting good will and achieving better mutual understanding, conflict resolution and transformation worldwide; and helping meet basic human needs everywhere:…again as a matter of U.S. defense…to reduce despair and increase hope, cooperation and yes (shock) even joy!!

    Honestly, this GOOD WILL AS DEFENSE strategy could generate a level of good will effectively overwhelming to the now nearly overwhelming level of negativity which is manifesting as terrorism -- a very clear early warning sign.

    It will prove far less of a gamble than we have been taking for decades, everyday.

    It will be our best, most COST-EFFECTIVE form of American defense.

    Peter Bruce DuMont

    STAR ALLIANCE

    FOUNDATION FOR ALL

    Berkeley

    www.staralliance.org

    Comments: 5
    Peter DuMont - Thu Mar 30, 2017 @ 05:27PM
    Comments: 4

    • The following message about tackling "Economic Discrimination Before the Law" with a "Universal Right to Civil Counsel" (Please also see the coalition website supporting that ideal.) was first published as a comment at KQED.org's FORUM with Michael Krasny on 2017 March 29th.  The original show/page is entitled: "'The Meaning of Citizenship' with the ACLU's Abdi Soltani.

    • Listener comment by Peter B. DuMont:

    • 1PeterDuMont2STARALLIANCE8

      A Universal Right to Civil Counsel would address the endemic problem of Economic Discrimination Before the Law — which applies every bit or more so to civil cases as to criminal ones.

      One hopes the ACLU will devote a portion of its impressive new funds inflow to tackling these comprehensive problems. They are intimidating by their very nature and scale, but all the more important to address — whether through specific cases, legislation, raising public awareness; creative community-building solutions; or preferably all of the above.

      One idea for both impact and creative financial project-sustainability is this:

      1) Establish a proof-of-concept capital fund, sufficient for ongoing support to a small band of attorneys and support staff in a given community. 2) Advertise for civil plaintiffs who cannot afford paid legal representation, and whose cases do not qualify for contingency representation.* 3) Carefully select a (doable) caseload, and represent these cases toward quick settlements whenever possible. 4) With every successful case, use a portion of the winnings to increase the capital fund, gradually building a more powerful organization with greater reach and stamina.

      This process will benefit not only direct damage award recipients.  It will put the whole community on notice that routine systemic abuse of the poor will, increasingly, no longer be tolerated.

      * An educational note for the honorable naive:

      Legal marketplace contingency representation typically requires ALL FOUR of the following: 1) Actionable damages sufficient to attract the "strictly business" interests of lawyers regardless of noble intentions. 2) Deep pockets to sue against (and having won, actually to collect!) 3) A slam-dunk provable case to minimize risk. 4) An opposing force which is not too well-funded or otherwise intimidating.

      No wonder so few of poor people's civil cases — outside of personal injury — are represented under the contingency system. There is seldom enough money involved to trigger an attorney's business interests alone, much less to fulfill all the other conditions simultaneously.

    Comments: 4
    Peter DuMont - Fri Mar 24, 2017 @ 01:12PM
    Comments: 4

    Relative to the current rush to "replace Obama Care with something better," I am reminded of an old, wise joke neatly printed on the walls of many print shops I have seen over the years:

    "If you don't have time to do it right...Where do you find time to DO IT OVER?"

    Truth to tell, that is a major reason why your STAR ALLIANCE — a foundation of knowledge and inspiration for all — has taken so long (about thirty years to be exact) — carefully to draft our Highest Civic Ideals documents set that we are offering to the world — and it's still not 100% finished yet!  But we hope this slow process will prove well worth the wait.  We feel that by getting it right in this generation, we can establish a baseline civic values system that will stand the test of time and be relevant anywhere, to anyone who wishes to establish and enjoy productive, sustainable relationships at every level of life and society.  

    It is increasingly the time — if not past time — to put our careful work to the test with a broader public.  Would you like to help?  How would you like to help?  

    You can start simply by reading some, most, or all of the documents linked on the page: Good Will Wisdom Documents Offered for All. 

    If you like the gist of what you read, tell your family, friends and colleagues — maybe even someone you have a conflict with...

    It might help a lot, because attitudes determine much of what happens in any relationship, and apart from specific values, our documents tend to culture broad-minded attitudes of good will and common sense.

    You may also have specific feedback to share, whether positive or negative.  Either one is a significant way to help.

    Please also feel free to contact us about how you might like to help in other ways.   Since we are still essentially unfunded and unstaffed (Believe me, it's been a long and winding road...There are reasons that will make an interesting story!) please be persistent to make sure you get through and get a response.  

    Yours in service to a world that works for all people of good will — especially those who do their best to learn and practice all our Highest Civic Ideals, 

     Peter.DuMont@STARALLIANCE.org.  510-540-8887.


    Comments: 4
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