Sunday, December 30, 2012

You Tell Us

In the continuing Tar Sands story, Manchester residents have issued a community statement demanding that Valero Refinery CEO and President William R. Klesse release information on industrial pollutants the company is releasing into their atmosphere.

From the TSB website: 

The National Disease Clusters Alliance reports (pg. 2) that children living within two miles of the Houston Ship Channel have a 56% higher likelihood of developing leukemia than those who live more than ten miles away.

As blogged earlier, the community is predominantly Latino with the average resident living below the poverty line.   Environmental observers describe the situation in the Houston neighborhood as "a textbook case of environmental racism."  The TSB site reports growing police harassment of residents for organizing on health hazards in the area, including intefering with the group's distribution of food from a free community grocery outlet and patrolling the neighborhood in vehicles owned by Valero.

The statement issued:
William R. Klesse,
As CEO & President of Valero you must be held accountable for the human rights abuses your corporation is committing in communities like ours. One need not do anything more than visit Houston’s Manchester neighborhood to know that the air here is dangerously polluted; air monitors have recorded 1,3-butadiene levels measuring 11 times greater than what is allowed in a toxic waste dump.
Nearly all children here have persistent coughs, and adults are plagued with sickness and headaches. We have come forward and documented countless stories of illnesses and disease such as asthma, leukemia, and a variety of cancers all of which we attribute to the presence of your refinery.  No more will we allow you to poison our air and lungs without question.
Manchester is almost completely Latino, and the average family here lives below the poverty line.  In 2011, you earned $11,027,067 by exploiting us and other communities like ours.  It would take the average resident in our community 368 years to earn what you do in one. What you are forcibly doing to us is without a doubt environmental racism.
You have 5 days to be accountable to the following information:
  1. What are you putting into our air?
  2. How do these chemicals affect our health
  3. What kind of violations have happened here that you haven’t told us about?
  4. What are the annual emissions limits for each chemical you emit, and what are your measured emissions of these chemicals?
We know that your refinery can not operate within federal law, and now it’s time that the rest of the world know as well. We demand transparency from you, and want you to know that we do not consent to the presence of your refinery in our community.
We are in solidarity with the Tar Sands Blockade, TEJAS, and all those who fight for truth and justice. We oppose all those who seek to exploit others for their personal gain.
Not only do we hold you, William, personally accountable, but we hold all Valero shareholders and the American people who lay eyes on our community and only provide passive support.  We will not be your sacrifice.

In March 2010, Associated Press reported that William Klesse received 10.9 million dollars in compensation in 2009, in a 64 percent increase from the prior year. 

Diane Wilson and Bob Lindsey, whose story was also blogged earlier, are now in the 29th day of their hunger strike.  Both were arrested after chaining themselves to a truck outside the Valero refinery in solidarity with the Tar Sands Blockade.  Manchester is the end of the line for the TransCanada Pipeline.

In another action, two of the three Tar Sands protesters arrested after sealing themselves inside the pipeline in Smith County, Texas have been released on reduced bail, with the third activist, Matt Almonte still in jail at the time of the latest linked story from the group.  Their bail was originally set excessively high at $65,000 each, and the judge in that case is reported as recusing himself since for undisclosed reasons.  The current bail is still excessively high, but reduced to 20-30,000 dollars for each protester.
 

Photo credits/top, courtesy of Tar Sands Blockade/Manchester Community Unity, a child paints at a Manchester community function organized by residents to oppose the presence of industrial pollutants in their neighborhood./bottom, courtesy of Tar Sands Blockade/Manchester Community Unity, Manchester residents pose with protest sign in English and Spanish demanding transparency and accountability from Valero Refinery.  The sign reads, "We demand to know what you are forcing us to breathe!" And, "¡Exigimos saber lo que nos est├ín obligando a respirar!"


Saturday, December 29, 2012

Jobs Now

Democracy Now! interview here and here with Dennis Kucinich, still fighting back through his last week in Congress.  Speaking on a range of subjects, including spying on Occupy Wall Street and the so-called fiscal cliff, Mr. Kucinich repeatedly returned, in the conversation, to the importance of creating jobs and the relationship of unemployment to how we are becoming "increasingly dysfunctional as a nation because of our unwillingness to challenge the military-industrial complex, which Dwight Eisenhower warned about generations ago."

Lately, we are having "the wrong discussion," Mr. Kucinich asserted,

Why haven’t we been talking about stimulating the economy through the creation of jobs? We’ve seemed to accept a certain amount of unemployment as being necessary for the proper functioning of the economy, so that for corporations it will keep wages low. That is baloney. We’re creating our own economic vice here that is entrapping tens of millions of Americans, and I just find it unacceptable. It’s like this whole fiscal cliff thing is a creation of people who are unimaginative and locked in by special interests.

A co-writer of the widely popular Medicare For All legislation H.R. 676 -- and one of the longest progressive hold-outs in the health care "overhaul" fight (whereby both Democrats and Republicans blocked a Medicare for All plan), Mr. Kucinich stated that the White House has to stand up for Medicare and social security, and that we have to "decide who we are as a nation."  He stated,

http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/e/ea/Dennis_Kucinich_2004_Democratic_National_Convention.jpgWe’re spending more and more money for wars. We’re spending more and more money for interventions abroad. We’re spending more and more money for military buildups. And we seem to be prepared to spend less and less on domestic programs and on job creation. This whole idea of a debt-based economic system is linked to a war machine. And it’s linked to Wall Street’s concerns rather than Main Street’s concerns. We need to shift that. We need to get government—give government back the ability to create jobs. Private sector is not doing it.

jobless march


Here's a clip of Dwight from RobUniv.





Photo Credits/top, courtesy of Lake Erie Winds, posted by Rich Norgard, August 2011, Jobhunter With Sign, EPA Hiring Jobless Workers For Great Lakes Cleanup/middle, courtesy of wikipedia, photographer: Brian Corr, Dennis Kucinich addressing an anti-war demonstration in Boston during the 2004 Democratic National Convention/bottom, courtesy of the guardian, photographer: Mark Ralston, August 2010, Protesters hold up "I want to work" placards in a demonstration of several thousand people outside City Hall in Los Angeles, California.

Thursday, December 27, 2012

Shock And Awe

The Los Angeles Times reports that Occupy Los Angeles has filed a class-action law suit against the city and top officials asserting that the group's 1st, 4th, and 14th amendment rights were violated during the November 30, 2011 eviction blogged here (and linking back further from there).

Protesters hold banners while shouting slogans during a late afternoon march through downtown Los Angeles on October 3 in solidarity with Occupy Wall Street protesters in New York City.The lawsuit describes "shock and awe" military tactics as 1,400 police officers aggressively burst upon the camp from various directions, knocking down anyone in their path, indiscriminately arresting people - even those not at the demonstration - while also kettling and seizing those attempting to disperse upon the department's stated orders.  Police arrested about a total of 300 peaceful individuals, many then detained for long hours without access to bathrooms, water, or food.  In an appalling account of human rights abuses - and what can be considered torture - people are described forced to urinate and defecate on themselves while tightly handcuffed with their hands behind their backs, and after repeatedly denied access to bathrooms.  One male protester (video interview below) was told that he could urinate if he could urinate with his hands tied behind his back; others were instructed outright (apparently by county employees) that they could defecate or urinate on themselves.  On one bus, a person was placed in a cage on the bus while all detainees sat in the vehicle amidst nauseating odors caused by people compelled to relieve themselves in this degrading and unsanitary manner.  Protesters jailed were held on average 60 hours although they were entitled under the California Penal Code to be released on their own recognizance.

RT speaks in the video below to Iraq War veteran and March Forward! founder Michael Prysner who was also arrested that day and is one of the five individuals bringing the class action on behalf of themselves and 292 others.  He discusses the meaning of "shock and awe" relative to military terminology and efforts to intimidate populations and squash freedom of assembly and expression.  Mr. Prysner says the group wants to make sure that this kind of thing doesn't happen again in the future and that people's constitutional rights to protest are protected.  



The plaintiffs state the city previously indicated that Occupy L.A. had the right to protest;  officials welcomed the protesters and fully endorsed their activities; a formal resolution was passed in support of the Occupy protest, officials spoke at the site, Mayor Villaraigosa supplied tarps for rain, and protesters cooperated with the city in terms of site upkeep.  The city also established precedent with the way previous demonstrations have been handled at that location, with many thousands gathering, historically, even up to 750,000 on one occasion.  Throughout, the City Hall lawn has never been under the purview of the Parks department, and only after the November 30th arrests did the City amend the municipal code to specify that the lawn was a "park" with camping prohibited.

"The basic rule of the 1st Amendment is that you can't change the rules halfway through the game," said Occupy Los Angeles attorney Carol Sobel.

Read the lawsuit here.

After the arrests (and only after the arrests), Mayor Villaraigosa (yet again revising the city's side of the story) referred to children at the encampment as the reason for the eviction. The city, however, never took any children into its custody with "public officials charged with protecting the welfare of children," and which one presumes would be the procedure in that case, if city officials were concerned.  No children were at the site during the eviction either.  (Though of course children too are allowed to attend demonstrations and showed up at a number of Occupy Wall Street gatherings across the country.  The Mayor of Los Angeles does not have the right to stop a protest - and with a paramilitary operation - because children are there.)  Additionally, the group states, "Los Angeles has homeless families living on the streets and in cars with young children in and around Skid Row, but the Mayor has never responded to that situation."

Occupy Los Angeles has also been recently visible in the news in the anti-foreclosure movement, stopping the eviction of a single mom right before Christmas, and trying to prevent the eviction of Columbine shooting survivor Richard Castaldo from his L.A. condominium.  (Mr. Castaldo is in a wheelchair for the rest of his life due to a bullet lodged in his spine.)

Thursday morning, in housing news again, the group was not as successful (as those 2 stories, we hope) when 100 police officers with armored vehicles forcibly removed 18 activists during a Bank of America foreclosure the group has been fighting on behalf of Javier Hernandez and his family.  Mr. Hernandez has also been unable to make payments, and activists occupied the property in a stand-off that, until December 27th, has lasted 2 months.  Over Christmas, the grandmother stood before a Christmas tree and told NBC Southern California that her grandchildren still didn't know the truth.  

Mr. Hernandez hopes to continue fighting the bank in court, but at this point, the family has been thrown out, with BOFA stating that he didn't submit required paperwork on time.



Photo credits/top, courtesy of Your Free Press/photographer: Frederic Brown/October 3, 2011. Protesters march in downtown Los Angeles in solidarity with Occupy Wall Street./Bottom, courtesy of l.a. activist/photographer: Dan Bluemel/September, 2011. "Fort Hernandez." Protesters outside of the barricaded home of Javier Hernandez, trying to save it from foreclosure.


12.28.12 Editor's Note. This post has been revised to accomodate additional information for the story.

Wednesday, December 26, 2012

Spy Files

The Partnership For Civil Justice has released 112 pages of FBI documents, obtained under the Freedom Of Information Act, showing that the agency was investigating and monitoring the Occupy Wall Street movement as far back as one month prior to any demonstrations even beginning.  Documents viewable to the public here.

http://mikeely.files.wordpress.com/2012/12/fbi-document.png?w=479&h=651Apparently, they coordinated spy activities with the Department of Homeland Security, as well as private corporations and banks, while comparing First Amendment peaceful protests to "criminal activity," and non-violent activists to "domestic terrorists."

Civil rights advocates including ACLU branches are currently seeking the release of more documents.  At this time, officials seem to have targeted a wide assortment of ordinary Americans all across the country standing up to corporate greed and corruption. Documents reference, for example, S.U.N.Y. Oswego students and teachers pitching tents on their campus in upstate New York, as well as west coast organizers preparing for port actions.

http://media.syracuse.com/news/photo/10143357-large.jpgThus far, documents indicate the agency housed spy campaigns in New York, Indiana, Florida, Alaska, Virginia, North Carolina, Wisconsin, Tennessee, Alabama, Mississippi, and Colorado.

From the PFCJ link:
“This production, which we believe is just the tip of the iceberg, is a window into the nationwide scope of the FBI’s surveillance, monitoring, and reporting on peaceful protestors organizing with the Occupy movement,” stated Mara Verheyden-Hilliard, Executive Director of the Partnership for Civil Justice Fund (PCJF).  “These documents show that the FBI and the Department of Homeland Security are treating protests against the corporate and banking structure of America as potential criminal and terrorist activity.  These documents also show these federal agencies functioning as a de facto intelligence arm of Wall Street and Corporate America.”
More here at Common Dreams and Huffington Post.

http://media.syracuse.com/neighbors/photo/10185727-large.jpg


Image Credits/top, document image, courtesy of Kasama, FBI Documents Reveal Secret Nationwide Monitoring/middle left photo, courtesy of Syracuse.com, photographer: Peter Chen, The Post Standard.  As part of Occupy Oswego, a SUNY Oswego freshman spends the night in a tent with 3 friends on the SUNY Oswego campus.  FBI documents indicate that the agency spied on SUNY Oswego students and teachers who participated in the Occupy movement./Bottom photo, courtesy of Syracuse.com, photographer: Peter Chen, The Post Standard. Oswego's Occupy Wall Street marches in October, 2011.

12.27.2012 Update
  
Democracy Now! speaks with PCJF Executive Director Mara Verheyden-Hilliard here and here 

Tuesday, December 25, 2012

Bah Humbug

Uploade by illseed
"Epic Fail Of The Day"

Via Commondreams and AllHipHop (video at those links),  Santa arrested in Austin for chalking' on sidewalks with children about Peace On Earth.  Now that is dangerous, and when so many Texans are walking around armed instead with guns .. ?

No word yet if he's been deported to the North Pole.  Was Santa read his Miranda?   

  
Uploaded by Abby Zimet
"Free Santa" .. looks like S.W.A.T. missed someone?

Thursday, December 20, 2012

Christmas Address

Julian Assange gives a Christmas address (video below) from the Ecuadorian Embassy in London, and also marking the 6 month anniversary of his stay.  Text here at Wikileaks.  

 
  
In an almost 13 minute statement, Mr. Assange spoke passionately about the importance of freedom of expression and democracy, summarizing some of Wikileaks' work thus far, and decrying the military industrial complex.  Asserting that the "quality of our discourse is the limit of our civilization," Mr. Assange pointed to its decline amidst efforts by a generation rising to its feet to revolutionize "the way we see the world" --
Our societies are intellectual shanty towns. Our beliefs about the world and each other have been created by [the] same system that has lied us into repeated wars that have killed millions. You can’t build a sky scraper out of plasticine. And you can’t build a just civilization out of ignorance and lies. We have to educate each other. We have to celebrate those who reveal the truth and denounce those who poison our ability to comprehend the world we live in.
Mr. Assange announced Wikileaks' plans to "continue to stand up to bullies" along with the group's possession of an additional one million documents that could be released in the coming year. 

In his closing remarks, audience members began shouting, "The People United Can Never Be Defeated!"

First Round

Via Occupy Wall Street, and as reported by Village Voice blogs, Strike Debt and the Rolling Jubilee have mailed out the first round of loan forgiveness letters, in this case, abolishing the distressed medical debt of 44 people in upstate New York.  The letters arrive in gift packages (in case recipients avoid official looking letters) and read, in part:
RollingJubileeGiftBox1.jpgSeason's Greetings From Strike Debt!
We write with good news: the above referenced account has been purchased by the Rolling Jubilee Fund, a 501(c)(4) non-profit organization. The Rolling Jubilee Fund is a project of Strike Debt. The mission of this project is to buy and abolish personal debt. We believe that no one should have to go into debt for the basic things in our lives, like healthcare, housing, and education.
You no longer owe the balance of this debt. It is gone, a gift with no strings attached. You are no longer [under] any obligation to settle this account with the original creditor, the bill collector, or anyone else.
The Rolling Jubilee website, at the time of this posting, shows 491,078 dollars raised to eliminate 9,826,382 dollars of distressed debt.  This first round reportedly spends roughly 5,000 to forgive 100,000 in the nation's out-of-control abusive medical billing practices, and in this case (whether it's the group's intent or not), targeting an economically hard-hit area the Public Policy Institute Of New York State now compares to Appalachia


Photo above/Courtesy of The Village Voice Blogs/photographer: Nick Pinto/Strike Debt activists pose with debt abolition packages and copies of their free online publication, The Debt Resister's Operation Manual.

Occupy The Lights

Via YourAnonNews, a Brighton U.K. worker occupies the Christmas lights and expresses job dissatisfaction ...

 

Modern Warfare

Drone operators at Holloman Air Force Base in the southwestern state of New...
photographer: Gilles Mingasson
"Drone operators at Holloman Air Force Base in the southwestern state of New Mexico: Modern warfare is as invisible as a thought, deprived of its meaning by distance."

Via Occupy South Dakota, Spiegel has this article on what it's like to be a drone operator, continents away from your targets. 

Photostream here. 

 

Sunday, December 16, 2012

Poetry

Native American activist Leonard Peltier shares poetry in video never before seen, and in a recent Democracy Now! news piece below.

Mr. Peltier has been unjustly imprisoned since the seventies, in a case widely decried by leading human rights voices such as Amnesty International, Nelson Mandela, and the Dalai Lama.

A major line-up of singer/songwriters performed Friday, December 14th at the Beacon Theater in New York City, and in a concert called Bring Leonard Peltier Home In 2012, and calling upon President Obama to issue a pardon before Christmas.  

From the Rolling Stone Review:

Folk tunes and Native American spirituals stretched over four hours, beginning with several never-performed verses of "Turn! Turn! Turn!" that 93-year-old Pete Seeger said he recently found in a batch of lyrics he’d written 60 years ago: "A time for dirt, a time for soap/A time for hurt, a time for hope," he gently wavered while strumming his acoustic.

Fresh off a flight, Mohican guitarist Bill Miller tuned his guitar onstage before attacking it with lightning-fast picking through Bob Dylan’s "All Along the Watchtower." Fellow First Nations musicians, including Jennifer Kreisberg and Geronimo and Buddy Powless, stripped things down and used only their voices to fill the venue with traditional and contemporary songs.

The Democracy Now! piece, followed here by an interview with actor Peter Coyote, long-time friend and advocate for Leonard Peltier:

 

In further poetry news, a local Quatari poet was sentenced to life in prison, and 3 days after the U.N. Climate Change Conference began, for reciting a poem he wrote in solidarity with the Arab Spring.  A 3rd year literature student at Cairo University, Mohammad ibn al-Dheeb al-Ajami has been in solidary confinement since November 2011.  He recited the poem about two years ago, stating, "The Arab governments and who rules them are, without exception, thieves. Thieves!"  Officials claim he encouraged the overthrow of the government.  The U.K. Guardian reports: 

Gulf regimes have stepped up crackdowns on a range of perceived threats to their rule, including Islamist groups and social media activists. Earlier this month, Kuwaiti authorities arrested four people on charges of insulting the emir with Twitter posts, and the United Arab Emirates imposed sweeping new internet regulations that allow arrests for a wide list of offensives, including insulting leaders or calling for demonstrations.
Last year, Bahrain issued a royal pardon for some protest-linked suspects, including a 20-year-old woman sentenced to a year in prison for reciting poetry critical of the government's effort to crush a Shia-led uprising against the Sunni monarchy.

Help The Poor

B.B. King and Eric Clapton in Help The Poor

 

Expand Don't Shrink

Medicare protest 
Photographer:  Scott Olson
Protestors demand increased taxes on the wealthy and voice opposition to cuts in Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid during a demonstration in Chicago on Thursday, Dec. 6th, 2012.

Via PNHP, Dr. Carl Berdahl writes to the Los Angeles Times explaining how to rein in Medicare costsThat is, expand rather than shrink.
Aside from partial measures like allowing Medicare to negotiate with drug companies for lower prices, the best way to assure Medicare's fiscal stability is to improve and expand the program to cover all Americans. The resulting single-payer system would slash wasteful paperwork and bureaucracy, yielding savings of up to $400 billion annually. Furthermore, young and old alike would have a clearer stake in sustaining a single, equitable system.
With the amount our nation spends each year on healthcare, we can afford to provide universal coverage. However, we choose not to. Instead, we waste money on private health insurance companies. While Medicare allocates just a few percentage points of its revenue to overhead, private companies spend about 15% on overhead and profits.
We should expand Medicare, the nation's most efficient health insurance system, rather than cutting it.
Health care workers recently walked off the job in Spain protesting aggressive privatization of hospitals.  Dr. Sanchez Bayle from Madrid tells Counterpunch readers from North America: 
The right to health care is a peoples’ right and should be defended as such. What is happening in Spain today may seem far-off to the people of the United States, but the world is globalized and interconnected. Every advance or retreat which happens in one part of the world has a repercussion for us all. Help can come in spreading word of the struggle so the problem is known, and also demonstrating solidarity through demonstrations in front of Spanish embassies and sending signed protest letters to entities and people in the government of Madrid.   
 Below, from Euronews:

Saturday, December 15, 2012

70%

Occupy Boston reports here and here on a march protesting new eligibility requirements at homeless shelters that are currently denying shelter to 70% of the homeless families applying.  Video footage below:

 

Long Distance Runners

Reverend Jesse Jackson speaks movingly in the Michigan Capitol Rotunda which reportedly held over 2,000 people during demonstrations over so-called "right-to-work" legislation signed by the Republican governor.  Occupy Detroit reports the legislation written by ALEC, the right-wing American Legislative Exchange Council.  "Despite the unprecedented opposition, the bill was signed into law with no public discussion or input."  Reverend Jackson gets a rousing introduction by Senator Gretchen Witmer, and states that "Dr. King's last act on earth was to defend a worker's right to collectively bargain," that, "the workers are already over the cliff," that student debtors, credit card debtors, the unemployed, the economically insecure are "already over the cliff."  "We are long distance runners," he says, and if Nelson Mandela spent so many years in prison, "we can strike one more day" and "keep hope alive."

 

Friday, December 14, 2012

Seasons Greetings, Congress

Caroling with a twist in the two youtubes below.   

In the first, Missouri singers from Grassroots Organizing (GRO) and Missouri Faith Voices carry the fiscal cliff tune to their representatives (uploaded December 11th) and demanding Medicare, Medicaid, and social security delivered to the American People by Christmas without any changes -- and with wealthiest Americans being required to pay their fair share in taxes, and that Congress focus on job creation and economic growth, not devastating cuts that cripple our economy.  Faith-based organizers also state that there is a moral responsibility to take care of the People, not the super-wealthy. 

 

In the next video, Seattle carolers sing 350 Parts Per Million to the tune of Rudolf (the you-know-who), and at a demonstration against coal trains yesterday.  More photos here.

 

Season's Greetings, Congress!

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Poetry

David Constantine reads his poem, Watching For Dolphins.

 

Get Involved

Speaker Minds in Get Involved.

 

Modernising Money

Positive Money is holding its third annual conference on Modernising Money in London on January 26, 2013, youtube announcement below.  The group also states:
This year's conference 'Modernising Money' will focus on why we need to reform the monetary system, and how we can make it happen.
We are living in exceptional times, with the financial system, and the ecosystems on which we depend, at the point of collapse. Changes to policy or regulation are not able to get to the root of the problem. Over the next few years we must make the case for systemic change and put forward viable alternatives. Our conference will focus on how we can do this.
This exciting conference will be more interactive than ever before! It will be more about campaigning and action rather than knowledge. It will consist of a combination of lectures, participatory workshops and some short videos from selected high profile supporters. We are honored to include several outstanding keynote speakers, the details will follow soon. We have secured a great venue in the heart of London for this conference.

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Remember That

Folk singers Chris Buholis, Joshua Davis, and Drew Howard perform for pro-union demonstrators in Lansing, Michigan, singing "This Land Is Your Land," and concluding with, "Remember that!"



Plus news coverage of the march below from LiveCatchMedia:

 

Huffington Post reports an estimated 12,500 demonstrators at the capitol, in numbers surpassing original expectations, already the highest figures Lansing was ever to have seen.  Yet against this backdrop of great public outcry, as well as denunciations by President Obama in Michigan yesterday, Governor Rick Synder still officially made Michigan a "right to work" state, signing legislation diminishing the power of unions.

Democracy Now! talks in the youtube below with Democratic Michigan State Representative Brandon Dillon, prior to the governor signing the controversial "right-to-work" legislation.



12.12.12 Update:

Day-after discussion here at Real News and here and here at Democracy Now! 

Monday, December 10, 2012

Bring Tents, Michigan

You heard that right.  Whereupon, Tuesday, December 11th, thousands are planning to descend on Lansing, Michigan to protest "right to work" legislation aimed at "allowing" workers to work for less than minimum wage.

Aaah, c'mon.
 Occupy the Capitol

Occupy Wall Street reports non-violent civil disobedience trainings presently in effect.  Occupy Detroit has the youtube example below,, titled Building A Beloved Community:

 

Detroit Free Press reports police bracing for a day of actions including USA Today estimates of up to an unprecedented 10,000 people in the streets, making it the biggest crowd the Michigan state capitol has ever seen.

More here from Allison Kilkenny with The Nation.  Including the youtube below:


 
  
Occupy Wall Street reports: 
Last Thursday, nearly a thousand union members and supporters gathered inside the Michigan capitol building in Lansing to protest lawmakers' decision to ram through "right to work" legislation. The day ended abruptly when police began assaulting and pepper-spraying protesters, provoking an evacuation and lockdown of the capitol building. The protests have continued, and at least eight people have been arrested.
Meanwhile, Detroit autoworkers join a hunger strike in solidarity with GM Columbian autoworkers, and as blogged earlier here:




The Los Angeles Times reports President Obama in Detroit, Michigan today blasting "right to work" legislation in a speech saying it would hurt workers' ability to bargain for better wages.
[Governor Rick] Snyder surprised many in the state by supporting the last-minute effort to pass the so-called “Freedom to Work” law in the waning days of the legislative session. He said it would help the state compete for jobs by letting investors “know that Michigan is the place to do business.” Supporters say it was all the more important after Indiana passed similar legislation earlier this year.
But Obama, who earlier greeted Snyder after touching down in the state, said “right to work” laws have nothing to do with economics, and “everything to do with politics.”
“We should do everything we can to keep creating good middle-class jobs that help folks rebuild security for their families,” Obama said to Daimler workers. “What we shouldn't be doing is trying to take away your rights to bargain for better wages and working conditions.”
“What they're really talking about is giving you the right to work for less money,” he said.

President Obama in Michigan
 Courtesy of Los Angeles Times
Photographer:  Paul Sancya/AP
12.10.12 President Obama speaks to auto workers in Redford, Michigan, blasting "right to work" legislation and "holding firm on raising tax rates on wealthier Americans."
 
The LA Times also reports:
When it comes to the fiscal cliff talks, Obama maintained that he was “willing to compromise a little bit,” but held firm on raising tax rates on wealthier Americans.
“That's a principle I won't compromise on because I'm not going to have a situation where the wealthiest among us, including folks like me, get to keep all our tax breaks and then we're asking students to pay higher student loans,” he said. “We're not going to do that. We're not going to make that trade-off. That's not going to help us to grow.”

Saturday, December 8, 2012

Requiem 2019

Via The Vault, a short poetic film denouncing whaling-- Requiem 2019, from Sea Shepherd board member Rutger Hauer and filmmaker/sculptor Sil van der Woerd.  The film premiered during the Playgrounds Audiovisual Arts Festival in Amsterdam on November 20, 2012The site reports, 
Through a blend of fiction, animation, and music the film chronicles the last whale on earth coming face-to-face with the source of its destruction – man, in the shape of actor Rutger Hauer.



MicrobiaNL at youtube says the singer is Jane Blue and the Hunters.

Friday, December 7, 2012

Sea Shepherd

Captain Watson onboard the SSS Steve IrwinThe pirates of the southern seas are back.  Sea Shepherd Captain Paul Watson has completed a 9,000 mile, 4 month journey from Germany to the southern Pacific Ocean, navigating geographic and administrative obstacles, and to once again confront the Japanese fleets and defend the magnificent migrating whales from mankind's mindless slaughter.  The captain himself, initially detained and then released by the German government, while presumably targeted and hunted by Interpol and the Japanese authorities throughout, has been traveling without passport, identification, credit cards, internet, or telephone.  This resilient seaman and beneficial interloper is soon to be joined by 3 other ships, with altogether 120 people from 24 nations, including the legendary French skipper Jean Yves Terlain, and captains Locky MacLean and Peter Hammarstedt of France, Canada, Sweden, and the United States.

A video released:

 

More here at Operation Zero Tolerance.

Last March, in a whale of a victory, and after pursuing the Japanese whaling fleet for the entire season, the Sea Shepherd Conservation Society declared victory, as the fleet left the Antarctic with less than a 1/3rd of their expected catch.  The whale defenders now hope to send them home with nothing.


http://www-tc.pbs.org/wnet/nature/files/2008/10/na_img_hump_intro.jpg
Humpback whales, January 2000

Captain Watson writes:
The objective of Operation Zero Tolerance is to intercept and intervene against the intent of the Japanese whaling fleet to murder 1,035 whales in the Southern Ocean Whale Sanctuary. Our purpose is twofold: to save the lives of whales and to cost the Japanese whaling industry as much as we possibly can in financial losses. Last year, we cost them roughly $22 million U.S. dollars despite the fact that they received a $30 million dollar subsidy stolen from the victims of the Japanese Tsunami Relief Fund.
And as always, our actions are undertaken in the Buddhist spirit of Hayagriva, where we do not cause physical injury to our opponents. We target their intentions and thwart their lethal ambitions, but we never harm them. Unfortunately, they do not share our compassion and thus the risks our crews face are considerable.
We have never been stronger, nor more determined. Our dedication to defending the integrity of the Southern Ocean Whale Sanctuary is undiminished, for we know that the key to success is persistence, patience and perseverance.
We have succeeded in bankrupting the whaling fleet. We have sunk them economically. Now we need to sink them politically.


* Top Photo credit/Courtesy of Sea Shepherd/Captain Paul Watson aboard the Steve Irwin, having arrived in the southern Pacific Ocean.
 

Poetry

Grace Nichols reads from I Have Crossed An Ocean-- her poem, Hurricane Hits England, followed by one for children, Cat Rap.


 

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

End Of The Line

Activists outside Valero Refinery near Manchester in Houston, and the "end of the line" for the tar sands pipeline, demanding Valero divest.

Continuing the tar sands story blogged earlier, further actions taken in a Manchester, Houston neighborhood with a newly released youtube below documenting community support and concerns.  Manchester is close to the end-of-the-line for the TransCanada pipeline, and where a 90% Latino community lives in the toxic "shadow" of a Valero refinery.  Occupy.com reports Valero a major investor in the pipeline.   

Earth First! Newswire says
Manchester’s relationship with the Valero refinery is a textbook case of environmental racism. Residents there have suffered through decades of premature deaths, cancers, asthma and other diseases attributable to the refinery emissions. With little financial support for lawsuits and without the political agency necessary to legislatively reign-in criminal polluters like Valero, the community suffers while Valero posts record profits.
As to the actions, about a week ago, Diane Wilson, a 4th generation Gulf Coast shrimper and 20 year industrial pollution activist, chained herself by the neck to a truck outside the refinery, and to express solidarity with the Tar Sands Blockade.  Ms. Wilson was joined in this protest by the newly designated San Antonio Bay Waterkeeper, Bob Lindsey Jr., also chaining himself by the neck to a truck, and also hailing from a family of Gulf Coast shrimpers -- among his relatives, 5 generations.  Mr. Lindsey grew up in Calhoun County, where Texans have the highest cancer rate in the state;  his sister had cancer 5 times, and his father and nephew died of rare disorders, all traceable to chemical facilities the family lived and worked near.  Life-long friends, Ms. Wilson is a founding member of Code Pink and active with the Texas Jail Project. Both civil disobedience proponents were arrested, jailed, and have since been released, with both currently on hunger strikes started in jail while decrying the pipeline.  "All my life," said Ms. Wilson, "the Gulf Coast has been an environmental sacrifice zone, and enough is enough."

Photos here at the Tar Sands Blockade website.

Commercials

Commercials take an unexpected turn:

 

Tuesday, December 4, 2012

Scrooge Of The Year

Portland Jobs With Justice announces its Scrooge Party Of The Year on Saturday, December 15th at 7 P.M. at 2116 NE 18th Avenue in Portland, Oregon.  See the youtube announcement below, soundtrack by Mic Crenshaw.  Produced by PE Strickland.

For the price of a ticket, you get to participate in "corporate-style democracy," and just like the good ol' boys, buy a vote -- your choice of the worst (or best?) Scrooge Of The Year!

Candidates include Oregon's grocery stores, the Walton Family (Walmart), Congressperson Darrell Issa, Portland Business Alliance (a.k.a. Chamber of Commerce), Portland Metro, Multnomah County Sheriff Staton, and General Motors Corporation.

I hope there's a national election.  Maybe the proceeds could be used to buy off more debt.



 

Monday, December 3, 2012

Inside The Pipeline

 
 Courtesy of Tar Sands Blockade
Activists Glen Collins, front, and Matt Almonte, back, blockade themselves inside the TransCanada Pipeline wearing gas masks to
protest the poisonous tar sands that will be passing through the pipe if the KXL is completed.

Two Tar Sands Blockade protesters sealed themselves inside the TransCanada Pipeline in Smith County, Texas today, and at the intersection of County Roads 357 and 362.  They used concrete barrels as "plugs."

Below, a youtube from the group taped inside the pipe, with activist Matt Almonte making a statement on why he is there, and joined by fellow protester Glen Collins.

 

Photos here from Tar Sands Blockade website.

Local Station KLTV reports the Sheriff's Department called in, forcibly removing the protesters.  Both Glen Collins and Matt Almonte were arrested, along with a third Keystone activist, Isabel Indigo Brooks, and following their acts of civil disobedience.  They were charged with criminal trespass, resisting arrest, and illegal dumping.

Video from KLTV below, including an interview with Keystone Blockade spokesperson Ron Seifert who states,
"The land owners here feel like their homes have been taken illegally, that TransCanada has bullied people all over Texas into signing contracts. That it's using its pipeline for private profits, not for any public use or public good, so these blockaders feel very justified in doing whatever it takes to advocate for these landowners and to protect our collective future, our water and our resources from the deadliest form of energy that we have on the planet right now: these dirty tar sands."
 He also adds,
"Today's blockaders are also acting in concert with other Tar Sands participants down in Houston who are on hunger strike outside the Valero refinery where tar sands fuel is expected to be received and refined through this pipeline."
  KLTV.com-Tyler, Longview, Jacksonville, Texas | ETX News

Living Wages

New York City fast wood workers go on strike for a wage increase from 7.75 per hour to 15.00 per hour.

 

Poetry

Estari, in Living Wages.


Sunday, December 2, 2012

Library Cards And Libraries

Dr. Claudia Fegan, a former president with Physicians for a National Health Program and chief medical officer at John H. Stroger Jr. Hospital, discusses pros and cons of the Medicaid expansion under the Affordable Care Act.  While some hospitals will finally be paid for the great numbers of uninsured people they normally treat, it will be difficult, if not impossible, for many individuals to find practitioners willing to treat them, the metaphorical equivalent of giving someone a library card to go to a library with no books in it.  An expanded and improved Medicare for All system would still be the best and most affordable way to provide quality health care to the whole country.  To not only give people library cards, but libraries with books to check out.  More here at Physicians For A National Health Program.


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Saturday, December 1, 2012

Another Star Wars

From thejuicemedia, A News Hope.  Rap News overviews the wikileaks story, while asking, "Who is the enemy?"  Uploaded May, 2012.

Friday, November 30, 2012

Testimony

Bradley Manning testifies on the conditions around his captivity, and as blogged earlier here.  Attorney Michael Ratner, adviser to both Bradley Manning and Wikileaks, conveys a gripping account in a courtroom yesterday so silent one could hear the proverbial pin drop (video below).


 

Via Boing Boing, AP reports military judge Col. Denise Lind has accepted Manning's terms for pleading guilty to eight charges, but has not yet formally accepted the pleas, and in what was previously reported as the equivalent of a plea bargain, and which could happen in December.

Democracy Now! also carries this in-depth exclusive interview with Julian Assange from yesterday.  Juan Gonzalez reports that, on Tuesday, the European Commission ruled that Visa did not break the European Union's anti-trust laws when they blocked credit card holders from donating to wikileaks.  As blogged earlier, Mr. Assange addressed reporters via video while still "holed up" in the Ecuadorian Embassy in London.