Tag: Independence Day

Independence Day: Time to reject corporate tyranny

‘Ensuring life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness  requires persistent vigilance’

Happy Independence Day. Cherish your freedom and stay vigilant.

By Bob Berwyn

The last few years, I posted the text of the Declaration of Independence in the Summit Voice news feed on July 4th because it’s an important reminder of why we’re all celebrating on this day. As a writer, I marvel at the flowing cadence of the declarative phrases; as a human being and American, I take special pride in what the words represent.

The Declaration speaks to us through the ages as a timeless statement of basic human values that transcends the issues specific to the age in which it was written. Refocusing on those values could help us rid ourselves of new and particularly insidious forms of tyranny, including the quasi-totalitarian control that some corporations seek to exert over the public and private lives of Americans.

And there’s more. I don’t want to harsh your holiday hotdog buzz, but our own government is spying on us. Not so many years ago, it ordered the torture of prisoners in our name, and it should be pretty clear that Congress is pretty much for sale to the highest bidder — not at all what the founding fathers envisioned.

All this may not be quite as dramatic as a squad of red-coated British soldiers surrounding your house with bayonet-affixed muzzle-loaders. But add up the incremental cuts and bites taken from the fundamental liberties and rights spelled out by the Declaration if Independence and draw your own conclusions.

The list is pretty long, but I’ll just stick to a few examples from my neighborhood. Let’s start with the ski industry, dominated in these parts by Vail Resorts, which is trying to privatize water that by any common sense definition belongs to all the people of the United States because it flows off national forest lands. The industry’s recent efforts in that area reflect a global trend of water privatization— a scary thought, because corporations know that, when they control water, they control everything. It’s time to take back public control over public lands and resources.

The multinational fossil fuel companies of course have their tentacles deeply wrapped into almost every aspect of daily life, as do the giant petrochemical corporations and agribusinesses that don’t really want to give you much choice in what you eat — you can put 25 different types of colorful cereal packages on the shelf, but what does it matter if it’s all grown by the same three companies using the same three strains of genetically modified grain?

How about making a personal declaration of independence this year, finding a way to weaken corporate and government rule. Try buying less stuff, for starters. You could search out pre-owned and recycled items reduce the need for the exploitation of raw natural resources. For the same reasons, drive your old car one or two years longer, or better yet, ride your bike. Instead of just whining about how high gas prices spike on the 4th of July, don’t buy any gas. The fossil fuel companies may not hear your cries, but they’ll notice when your dollars are missing from their bottom line.

Energy independence overall is probably one of the most important areas. Imagine how much control a company could exert if it threatened to shut off energy supplies during a cold mountain winter. It sounds far-fetched, but Russia is doing just that with recalcitrant republics. The best answer is a fully distributed system of renewable energy production, combined with a drastic cut in usage — both achievable with current technology.

Let’s elect some politicians next year who understand the dangers of creeping corporate totalitarianism and who are willing to take a stand for personal liberty. It’s more important than ever for lawmakers to fulfill their true role as representatives of the people, with the judicial apparently willing to kowtow to corporations at every level and the executive bent on expanding centralized government control.

And finally, you can support independent media like Summit Voice. By know we all know that most the major remaining major media outlets are themselves part of huge corporations that are definitely not designed to serve the public interest. Far from it, the web of advertising that’s spun through what passes for news these days is mind- and soul-numbing, and saps your ability to recognize “the long train of abuses and usurpations” that are the signs of despotism.

Independent journalism will play a critical role in the years ahead, as evidenced by the chain of events around Edward Snowden. Without reporters willing to tell the story, Snowden’s revelations would have been like the proverbial tree falling in the forest, and we would still know very little about how our own government, elected to serve us, has callously abused the public trust.

We still enjoy an incredible amount of freedom in this country, but don’t take it for granted. Ensuring life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness for all requires persistent vigilance, an enlightened and educated electorate and the exercise of personal responsibility on a daily basis.

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Environment: Independence Day fireworks cause short-term spike in harmful air pollution

July 4 fireworks.
July 4 fireworks can result in short-term spikes of fine particulate pollution. @bberwyn photo.

Research tracks surge in PM2.5 pollution around the Fourth of July

Staff Report

FRISCO — The fallout from Independence Day fireworks can cause air pollution to spike by as much as 370 percent for a few hours, scientists said this week after studying several years worth of data from more than 300 air quality monitors around the country.

Specifically, the researchers looked at the surge in fine particulate matter — particles that are two and one half microns in diameter (PM2.5) on July 4. The data came from 315 measuring sites spanning 15 years, for the first time quantifying the increase in pollution. Continue reading “Environment: Independence Day fireworks cause short-term spike in harmful air pollution”

Let’s declare Independence from corporate despotism!

Happy Independence Day!

Red, white & blue! bberwyn photo.

By Bob Berwyn

The last two years, I posted the text of the Declaration of Independence in the Summit Voice news feed on July 4th because it’s always worth re-reading. As a writer, I marvel at the flowing cadence of the declarative phrases; as a human being and American, I take special pride in what the words represent. Continue reading “Let’s declare Independence from corporate despotism!”

Independence Day: You know it don’t come easy …

Resist tyranny, in all its forms

Certain unalienable rights …

FRISCO —Along with the parades, concerts and fireworks, the Fourth of July is always a good day to read the Declaration of Independence, one of the world’s most eloquent expressions of political philosophy for that puts the power of self-determination where it belongs — to the people, your hands, and mine.

The recent revelations surrounding our government’s somewhat over-eager intelligence apparatus is a great reminder that any government, even one duly elected by the people, can abuse the power it’s been entrusted with, in the name of safety, or sometimes just driven by naked ambition and pure greed.

I don’t know about you, but I don’t want my unalienable rights whittled away because the NSA thinks it can protect me from some vague threat by compiling my phone calls and emails. That’s why Thomas Jefferson and his posse said that, when a government interferes with those rights, it is the right of the people to alter or abolish it.

Of course, we still enjoy a great deal of freedom, and some may say that data collection by the government is no big deal. But there are millions of people around the world living under different regimes who might beg to differ, and who would tell you that you shouldn’t give up one iota of your liberty.

We are often to quick to take our rights for granted, so Independence Day is a good time to rededicate ourselves to trying to live up to the noble words and timeless principles of the founding fathers.

We may stumble along the way from time to time; we may falter or be tempted to try and sidestep some of those basic ideals. But in the long run, we’ll be served best by holding true to the ideal of the Declaration, fighting tyranny in all its forms.

The Declaration of Independence was adopted on July 4, 1776.

Thirteen colonies — including New Hampshire, Massachusetts, Rhode Island, Connecticut, New York, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Delaware, Maryland, Virginia, North Carolina, South Carolina and Georgia — approved the measure unanimously.

Thomas Jefferson was the primary author of the historical document.

Below, full text of the Declaration of Independence:

When in the Course of human events it becomes necessary for one people to dissolve the political bands which have connected them with another and to assume among the powers of the earth, the separate and equal station to which the Laws of Nature and of Nature’s God entitle them, a decent respect to the opinions of mankind requires that they should declare the causes which impel them to the separation.

We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness. — That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed, — That whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new Government, laying its foundation on such principles and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their Safety and Happiness. Prudence, indeed, will dictate that Governments long established should not be changed for light and transient causes; and accordingly all experience hath shewn that mankind are more disposed to suffer, while evils are sufferable than to right themselves by abolishing the forms to which they are accustomed. But when a long train of abuses and usurpations, pursuing invariably the same Object evinces a design to reduce them under absolute Despotism, it is their right, it is their duty, to throw off such Government, and to provide new Guards for their future security. — Such has been the patient sufferance of these Colonies; and such is now the necessity which constrains them to alter their former Systems of Government. The history of the present King of Great Britain is a history of repeated injuries and usurpations, all having in direct object the establishment of an absolute Tyranny over these States. To prove this, let Facts be submitted to a candid world.

He has refused his Assent to Laws, the most wholesome and necessary for the public good.

He has forbidden his Governors to pass Laws of immediate and pressing importance, unless suspended in their operation till his Assent should be obtained; and when so suspended, he has utterly neglected to attend to them.

He has refused to pass other Laws for the accommodation of large districts of people, unless those people would relinquish the right of Representation in the Legislature, a right inestimable to them and formidable to tyrants only.

He has called together legislative bodies at places unusual, uncomfortable, and distant from the depository of their Public Records, for the sole purpose of fatiguing them into compliance with his measures.

He has dissolved Representative Houses repeatedly, for opposing with manly firmness his invasions on the rights of the people.

He has refused for a long time, after such dissolutions, to cause others to be elected, whereby the Legislative Powers, incapable of Annihilation, have returned to the People at large for their exercise; the State remaining in the mean time exposed to all the dangers of invasion from without, and convulsions within.

He has endeavoured to prevent the population of these States; for that purpose obstructing the Laws for Naturalization of Foreigners; refusing to pass others to encourage their migrations hither, and raising the conditions of new Appropriations of Lands.

He has obstructed the Administration of Justice by refusing his Assent to Laws for establishing Judiciary Powers.

He has made Judges dependent on his Will alone for the tenure of their offices, and the amount and payment of their salaries.

He has erected a multitude of New Offices, and sent hither swarms of Officers to harass our people and eat out their substance.

He has kept among us, in times of peace, Standing Armies without the Consent of our legislatures.

He has affected to render the Military independent of and superior to the Civil Power.

He has combined with others to subject us to a jurisdiction foreign to our constitution, and unacknowledged by our laws; giving his Assent to their Acts of pretended Legislation:

For quartering large bodies of armed troops among us:

For protecting them, by a mock Trial from punishment for any Murders which they should commit on the Inhabitants of these States:

For cutting off our Trade with all parts of the world:

For imposing Taxes on us without our Consent:

For depriving us in many cases, of the benefit of Trial by Jury:

For transporting us beyond Seas to be tried for pretended offences:

For abolishing the free System of English Laws in a neighbouring Province, establishing therein an Arbitrary government, and enlarging its Boundaries so as to render it at once an example and fit instrument for introducing the same absolute rule into these Colonies

For taking away our Charters, abolishing our most valuable Laws and altering fundamentally the Forms of our Governments:

For suspending our own Legislatures, and declaring themselves invested with power to legislate for us in all cases whatsoever.

He has abdicated Government here, by declaring us out of his Protection and waging War against us.

He has plundered our seas, ravaged our coasts, burnt our towns, and destroyed the lives of our people.

He is at this time transporting large Armies of foreign Mercenaries to compleat the works of death, desolation, and tyranny, already begun with circumstances of Cruelty & Perfidy scarcely paralleled in the most barbarous ages, and totally unworthy the Head of a civilized nation.

He has constrained our fellow Citizens taken Captive on the high Seas to bear Arms against their Country, to become the executioners of their friends and Brethren, or to fall themselves by their Hands.

He has excited domestic insurrections amongst us, and has endeavoured to bring on the inhabitants of our frontiers, the merciless Indian Savages whose known rule of warfare, is an undistinguished destruction of all ages, sexes and conditions.

In every stage of these Oppressions We have Petitioned for Redress in the most humble terms: Our repeated Petitions have been answered only by repeated injury. A Prince, whose character is thus marked by every act which may define a Tyrant, is unfit to be the ruler of a free people.

Nor have We been wanting in attentions to our British brethren. We have warned them from time to time of attempts by their legislature to extend an unwarrantable jurisdiction over us. We have reminded them of the circumstances of our emigration and settlement here. We have appealed to their native justice and magnanimity, and we have conjured them by the ties of our common kindred to disavow these usurpations, which would inevitably interrupt our connections and correspondence. They too have been deaf to the voice of justice and of consanguinity. We must, therefore, acquiesce in the necessity, which denounces our Separation, and hold them, as we hold the rest of mankind, Enemies in War, in Peace Friends.

We, therefore, the Representatives of the united States of America, in General Congress, Assembled, appealing to the Supreme Judge of the world for the rectitude of our intentions, do, in the Name, and by Authority of the good People of these Colonies, solemnly publish and declare, That these united Colonies are, and of Right ought to be Free and Independent States, that they are Absolved from all Allegiance to the British Crown, and that all political connection between them and the State of Great Britain, is and ought to be totally dissolved; and that as Free and Independent States, they have full Power to levy War, conclude Peace, contract Alliances, establish Commerce, and to do all other Acts and Things which Independent States may of right do. — And for the support of this Declaration, with a firm reliance on the protection of Divine Providence, we mutually pledge to each other our Lives, our Fortunes, and our sacred Honor.

New Hampshire: Josiah Bartlett, William Whipple, Matthew Thornton

Massachusetts: John Hancock, Samuel Adams, John Adams, Robert Treat Paine, Elbridge Gerry

Rhode Island: Stephen Hopkins, William Ellery

Connecticut: Roger Sherman, Samuel Huntington, William Williams, Oliver Wolcott

New York: William Floyd, Philip Livingston, Francis Lewis, Lewis Morris

New Jersey: Richard Stockton, John Witherspoon, Francis Hopkinson, John Hart, Abraham Clark

Pennsylvania: Robert Morris, Benjamin Rush, Benjamin Franklin, John Morton, George Clymer, James Smith, George Taylor, James Wilson, George Ross

Delaware: Caesar Rodney, George Read, Thomas McKean

Maryland: Samuel Chase, William Paca, Thomas Stone, Charles Carroll of Carrollton

Virginia: George Wythe, Richard Henry Lee, Thomas Jefferson, Benjamin Harrison, Thomas Nelson, Jr., Francis Lightfoot Lee, Carter Braxton

North Carolina: William Hooper, Joseph Hewes, John Penn

South Carolina: Edward Rutledge, Thomas Heyward, Jr., Thomas Lynch, Jr., Arthur Middleton

Georgia: Button Gwinnett, Lyman Hall, George Walton

Morning photo: DC Fireworks

Independence Day on the National Mall

Click on the viewer to watch the fireworks full-screen

By Bob Berwyn

SUMMIT COUNTY — Our family trip to Washington, D.C. was planned long before we knew there would be a fireworks ban in most of Colorado, and there’s nothing like the great display put on over Dillon Reservoir by the town of Frisco, especially since we can watch it right off the deck of Summit Voice headquarters.

I was a little hesitant to post these, as I felt bad for the folks who didn’t get to see local fireworks this year, but in the end, it was such a great display that I wanted to share it.

But it was a real treat to watch this special national holiday unfold in the capitol, which embraces the Fourth of July as a special responsibility. Yes, security was tight, but amazingly, you can still stroll to within a few yards of the White House. And the fireworks that unfolded over the storied monuments of our national pantheon were stirring and powerful, right up the last of the rockets’ red glare.

More photos from Independence Day in DC here, along with a short essay here.


Photos: Independence Day in Washington, D.C.

Fourth of July in the capital

An early morning jogging tour included a flag-bearer as the group stopped in McPherson Square, recently one of the hotspots for the Occupy DC movement.

WASHINGTON, D.C. — There may be no place better than the nation’s capital to experience the Fourth of July, as visitors and locals join in the country’s birthday party. Here’s how it started. We’ll add more photos later.

Certain unalienable rights …
Getting it just right!
Not just Americans celebrate Independence Day. These two French youngsters are aware of the contribution their countryman, Lafayette, made to the American Revolution.
Demonstrators and free speech advocates of all stripes were lining up at Lafayette Park to have their moment on a soapbox on a day dedicated to liberty and freedom.



TV nation.

Fireworks finale over the National Mall.