Welcome to the December 2016 issue of the Sunflower Seed! In this issue you will find several exciting updates on issues Greens have lobbied on, information on a new Green local, and hear about Greens in the national spotlight. Enjoy!
We need YOU to become a sustaining donor!
It's never too late to become a monthly sustaining donor. Giving as little as $5 monthly, or as much as you can, will help us hire staff to coordinate the new influx of volunteer requests! Anything helps!
Sign up here: Become a Sustaining Donor
Saturday, January 14
GPMN Coordinating Committee Meeting
10am - 1pm
4200 Cedar Ave
Minneapolis, MN 55407
Friday, January 20th
Resist (Trump) From Day One (Green Endorsed Rally)
Lake & Nicollet to City Hall
New Green Party Local in Winona County
The Green Party of Minnesota is honored to officially recognize the Green Party of Winona County as an official local party unit!
It is a testament to the energy and hard work of local members that they were able to get up and running in such a short time.
After meeting at the end of September, the Winona County local hit the ground running with a flurry of activism and organizing.
Currently the Green Party of Winona County is meeting on the first Saturday of each month at 12:30 pm and is currently setting goals for 2017 and helping coordinate a local People's Inauguration celebration on January 20th. For meeting locations and other news follow them on Facebook here.
The Green Party of Minnesota is encouraged by their early work in this area of the state and look forward to them being a vibrant local for years to come!
Green Party Minnesota Launches New Instagram Account
Given the corporate stranglehold on the vast majority of our news sources it is with great pleasure that the Green Party of Minnesota is launching another outlet for providing updates to its members and supporters.
In addition to our Twitter account and Facebook account you can now follow GPMN on Instagram here: www.instagram.com/greenpartyminnesota/.
Greens Support All Civilian Review Board in Saint Paul
Green Party Minnesota spokesperson Brandon Long and Green Party MN 4th CD spokesperson Trahern Crews showed up and spoke in support of police accountability in Saint Paul at a City Council hearing December 7th.
Greens are very pleased to announce that the Saint Paul Police Review Board will now be entirely composed of civilians - rather than hosting two police officers.
The vote was passed 5-2 with councilmembers Chris Tolbert (Ward 3) and Dan Bostrom (Ward 6) voting against the all civilian review board.
(Photo Credit: Brandon Long)
Former Green Party Minnesota Coordinating Committee Member Hassan Hassan Passes
It is with a heavy heart that we have learned of the passing of former Green Party Minnesota Coordinating Committee member Hassan Hassan.
Hassan was a tireless advocate for his community - most recently fighting hard for living wages and paid time off for his neighbors in Minneapolis.
Hassan's passing is a great loss to our community but we will never forget the contributions he made towards making the lives of everyone around him that much better.
(Photo Credit: Brandon Long)
Former Green VP Receives Presidential Electoral Vote
Former Green Party Vice Presidential candidate and environmental activist Winona LaDuke is still receiving votes 16 years after her last candidacy. In Washington state, a quarter of the electors that were required to vote for Hillary Clinton according to popular vote have been fined $1,000 dollars each for refusing to vote for Hillary Clinton and/or her Vice Presidential running mate, Tim Kaine.
One of the "faithless electors" is Robert Satiacum, a member of the Puyallup Tribe of western Washington, who cast a Presidential vote for Faith Spotted Eagle, a Native American Activist, leader of the Brave Heart Society and outspoken Water Protector- the first time in United States history that an electoral college vote was cast for a Native American citizen as President of the United States.
While we have not yet received confirmation that it was he who cast the Vice Presidential vote for Winona LaDuke, it only logically follows that it was Mr. Satiacum, as he has shared LaDuke's postings on social media and is a strong advocate for Native American rights.
After casting the vote for Spotted Eagle, Satiacum said that his vote was for a real leader and that "We live in perilous times. What’s it going to take to wake this country up?...It never should have come down to this.”
Satiacum had been considering this decision for months, as he had been speaking out about the Presidential Election of 2016 on his local radio show "Tribal Talk" and in October, 2016 he was reported as saying "How can I say and do and be who I am and then cast a vote for somebody that’s the same as Trump?... They may be male, female, but they’re in the same canoe.”
(Photo Credit: SpeakOutNow.org)
Minnesota Switching from Caucuses to Primaries Hurts Minor Parties
With a switch from Caucuses to Primaries, Minnesota will now force taxpayers to subsidize how only the corporate parties choose a presidential candidate.
Minor Parties will not be included in primaries and will still pay the cost of their own selection out of their own money.
Primaries will also force voters to now publicly register as only one of two political options helping further erode Minor Party support.
The most egregious part of switching to primaries is that the deadline for collecting signatures to put Minor Party candidates on the ballot will be moved even earlier in the year forcing parties to collect signatures in terrible weather.
Make sure to contact Steve Simon and your Minnesota representative and let them know that you would like the petition period to be disassociated from the date of Minnesota primaries.
(Photo Credit: Jackson Forderer for MPR News file)
Minnesota Greens Hail Forest Service Denial of BWCA-Threatening Mineral Leases
The US Forest Service has declined to renew two leases held by Twin Metals Minnesota on copper-nickel mines near the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness. The mineral lease sites are too close to the pristine BWCA waters, said Tom Vilsack of the Forest Service, and mines there would threaten the area’s economic dependence on fishing, recreation and wilderness canoeing.
Greens praisied the decision to protect the unique and irreplaceable natural area. The GPMN platform unequivocally opposes all sulfide mining due to the significant and long-term threat to water quality posed by the highly toxic process.
“We are overjoyed to see the US government strongly protecting the Boundary Waters, a legendary wilderness that is treasured not only by Minnesotans, but by the more than a quarter of a million people every year from far beyond our borders who make it the most-visited national wilderness in the country,” said GPMN chair Brandon Long. “This stunningly beautiful place in our own back yard is now safe from toxic pollution from these two lease sites, thanks to the Forest Service.”
The Forest Service decision was made after hearing from 30,000 people in public comments and many others who attended listening sessions near the affected area, indicating strong support for permanent protection of the BWCA from mining. However, threats to water in northern Minnesota from copper-nickel mining remain. Twin Metals and PolyMet Mining Co. both seek to establish open-pit copper and nickel mines in the northern part of the state.
Minnesota’s water quality will not receive any help on this front from the DFL Party. Party members at their Dec. 12 caucuses voted overwhelmingly against a proposed resolution to call sulfide ore mining an unacceptable environmental hazard. The proposal and its defeat exemplify a familiar but false divide between those concerned with environmental protection and those concerned with jobs, according to Long. Greens believe these two concerns can, and must, be met together, not put in opposition to each other.
“Mining has historically been a main source of economic activity in northern Minnesota, but it has also been an unstable industry, with mines closing and local economies stagnating,” said Long. “These new mines will be no different. And harm to water quality from any one mine extends far beyond a single community in the water-rich environment of this area, Greens would instead like to see these communities shift away from mining as the source of jobs and toward activity that is sustainable, both ecologically and economically.”
(Photo Credit: Brandon Long)
Former Green Presidential Candidate Jill Stein Leads Electoral Reform
Jill Stein's campaign launched an attempt to recount the presidential vote in three states (Wisconsin, Michigan, and Pennsylvania,) where the final result was close, she had standing to contest the result (that is, was on the ballot), and independent experts reported signs of problems. Dr. Stein went on to independently raise $7.3 million from 161,000 donors, mostly in small amounts from people who had not previously supported the Green Party.
Legal challenges from the Republican Party, and foot dragging by state election officials delayed any attempt to hand-recount all paper ballots. Many Wisconsin counties, including Milwaukee County, only re-ran the ballots through the original counting machines. One of the major goals of a recount is to identify malfunctioning counting machines, which, as the 2004 recount campaign in Ohio showed, are frequently deliberately assigned to poor and African-American areas in order to suppress the vote.
There are clear signs of this happening in Michigan, as Bruce Dixon reports, "The aborted recount effort revealed that an astounding 59% of all Detroit’s voting machines failed election day, and more than 75,000 ballots went uncounted. Similar patters appeared in Flint, and in Dearborn Michigan."
In Pennsylvania, the recount ran into the problem that the election was designed to be un-auditable. The legal challenge required 3 voters from each of 9,000 voting districts to petition for the recount. When the recount campaign started to gather sufficient volunteers, judges added additional arbitrary requirements, such as posting a million dollar bond. Even if the legal challenge had succeeded, there frequently wouldn't have been any paper ballots to count, as Pennsylvania mostly uses electronic voting machines.
The recount effort succeeded in showing the brokenness and bias of the American voting system as well as the indifference, if not active collaboration of the corporate parties, to vote suppression. Jill Stein has turned a spotlight on this problem, and introduced millions of people outside the Green party to the longstanding Green issue of election integrity. It's a challenge for us Greens how to support this effort, while making it clear we do not support any corporate party.
For a deeper look at the issues, Bruce Dixon and the other senior editors at Black Agenda Report have excellent coverage here and here.
Greg Palast is an award-winning journalist and author with a deep knowledge of the mechanics of American elections and provides more excellent coverage here.
(Photo Credit: New York Observer)
"Fake News" or the New McCarthyism
In late November the Washington Post and New York Times published articles praising web site PropOrNot which claimed that it had discovered 200 websites which were reporting Russian propaganda, either as part of a deliberate conspiracy or as naive "useful idiots". The website refused to reveal its investigators or methodology, and the allies it had claimed in support of the list all said they had never heard of PropOrNot.com. The juvenile nature of much of the sites content and twitter posting, as well as the alternate reading of their name (IE, ProPornOT) lead many to believe it was a joke.
The 200 sites included extremely popular sites (Drudge, ZeroHedge), whistleblowers (WikiLeaks), libertarians (RonPaulInstitute, Antiwar), as well as some highly respected left-leaning sites (Counterpunch, NakedCapitalism, TruthDig, BlackAgendaReport). The common thread appears to be opposition to American militarism.
Initially, the result appears to have been to drive traffic to these sites. Many other sites have jokingly complained that they weren't included and wondered what they needed to do to be added (Jacobin, MishTalk). However, there is a real risk that this will lead to censorship of these sites. Major corporate and corporate-foundation-financed media continue to complain about "Fake News", a category which doesn't seem to include newspapers that claimed Iraq had weapons of mass destruction.
In co-operation with Google, Facebook, and the US State Department, newly empowered by the "Countering Disinformation and Propaganda Act" these sites face the possibility of links being automatically labeled as "Russian Propaganda", automatically blocked by browser extensions, or even the virtual death-sentence of being delisted from Google search results.
Greens should be mindful of these efforts, and be sure to continue to support dissident media.
For more information – the editors at NakedCapitalism grabbed the PropOrNot.org address and put up a sarcastic, but informative, rebuttal. https://www.propornot.org/
(Cartoon Credit: GPMN Coordinating Committee Member, Andrew Schuler)