We have come so far since we learned at the end of April that the FCC was preparing to propose rules that would allow the Giant Telecoms like AT&T, Comcast and Verizon to create fast lanes for those who can pay more. This would kill net neutrality. We understood that if we lose net neutrality – over time our ability to share information through social media, reach the public with our websites and organize online would diminish. The Internet would become like corporate media. It would change from the open and free platform for the exchange of information and ideas that it currently is to a controlled and censored platform that decides what you can see and share. The people have spoken loudly and clearly – through millions of phone calls, emails and public comments, an occupation outside the FCC and actions from coast to coast we, the people, forced reclassification of the Internet under Title II so that it would be treated as a public good onto the table.
The recent dive in oil prices is undermining oil company earnings, projects and stock prices—at least for now—giving new ammunition to climate action groups pushing pensions, universities and others to purge their fossil fuel holdings. By themselves, the lower oil prices aren’t likely to convince institutions to divest from fossil fuels, especially since price swings are common in oil markets. But the unexpected dip could help the cause by casting doubt on the investment case for keeping them, according to Jamie Henn, communications director at 350.org, a leader in the growing divestment campaign. “The primary reason to divest remains the moral and political one—that if it’s wrong to wreck the planet, then it’s wrong to profit from that wreckage,” said Henn.
In the early evening of April 17, 2013, a fertilizer storage and distribution facility on the small town of West, Texas, blew up, killing 15 people, injuring 160 more and leveling much of the town. The plant was last inspected by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) in 1985. The company had apparently failed to report the amount of dangerous ammonium nitrate the facility stored. Among the buildings destroyed was the West Middle School, which fortunately was not occupied at the time. But ineffective safety regulations, coupled with public ignorance about chemical plants, are putting millions of U.S. schoolchildren at risk, according to a new interactive map put together by the Center for Effective Government (CEG).
Friends of the Earth has petitioned the U.S. Court of Appeals to overturn a secret decision by the Nuclear Regulatory Commission to illegally alter the operating license for the Diablo Canyon nuclear power plant allowing Pacific Gas and Electric to hide the fact that the reactors are vulnerable to earthquakes stronger than it was meant to withstand. The secret revision of Diablo Canyon’s license was revealed in NRC documents rejecting a dissent by the plant’s former senior resident inspector. The inspector, Dr. Michael Peck, defied his superiors in saying that Diablo Canyon was operating in violation of its license and should be shut down unless and until new seismic information was addressed.
When the original thirty-four people started walking from Port of Wilmington, Los Angeles, they had no idea that walking across the country would turn into a life-changing experience. Traversing major cities, hiking the Appalachians, trekking the Plains, and crossing the proposed KXL pipeline route gave them eight months to consider their purpose for marching. Walking 3,000 miles has been cathartic for all of them. During the first weeks of the March, they learned to overcome the physical challenges of walking 15-25 miles a day–8 to 10 hours each day, resting one day a week. The core group stayed together from the beginning; not one person dropped out, according to Jimmy Betts, an organizer and participant.
Wisconsin residents in 12 communities will vote next week on whether to amend the U.S. Constitution to overturn Citizens United, end corporate personhood, and get big money out of politics. In Citizens United v. the Federal Election Commission, the U.S. Supreme Court found that corporations have a First Amendment right to spend unlimited amounts of money to influence the outcome of elections. In Milwaukee County, Dunn County, Green Bay, Appleton, Fond du Lac, Neenah, Menasha, Ripon, Stoughton, Oregon, Wausau, and the Village of Park Ridge, voters will cast their ballots on a proposed amendment that would essentially reverse the Court’s 2010 decision by stating that corporations are not people and money is not speech.
Today, frustration with the Obama administration’s continued deportations at the rate of 1,000 people a day, plus the humanitarian crisis at the border, has prompted many people of faith to organize more formally, in the spirit of a “new sanctuary movement,” to support new arrivals from Central America as well as undocumented migrants who have long lived in the United States. Noel Anderson, a grassroots coordinator for Church World Service, a faith organization that advocates for immigrant rights, convened the first national conference call in early September that brought together fifty people working in different coalitions to discuss national sanctuary strategy for the first time since the 1980s.
The appalling treatment of protesters occupying Parliament Square last week (Occupy protesters forced to hand over pizza boxes and tarpaulin, 24 October, theguardian.com) calls for an urgent review of current legislation governing protest there. For 10 days, until Sunday, Occupy Democracy campaigners hosted a daily programme of assemblies and workshops outside parliament to address what they say is “a huge democratic deficit” in Britain today. Using the Police Reform and Social Responsibility Act 2011 (PRSRA), which bans any “structure designed for staying” along with any “amplified sound”, police responded by kettling protesters and confiscating a wide range of items including umbrellas and sleeping bags which protesters were using to keep dry and warm.
This morning, a group of students stood in protest against Governor Shumlin’s fossil fuels infrastructure policy after a night of massive civil disobedience that saw some 64 people arrested. Yesterday’s demonstration consisted of more than a hundred community members staging a mass sit in at Shumlin’s office on the top floor of the Pavillion Building, accompanied by a dance party on the bottom floor. The sit in lasted several hours. Shumlin was not present, but requested that everyone act respectfully, stating, “While I agree that climate change is one of the biggest challenges facing our state, nation, and world, I disagree with the protesters’ position on the natural gas pipeline, which I believe will help hasten our state’s transition away from dirtier fuel oil and help our economy.”
The trial of Greenpeace activists who face charges of burglary and vandalism related to a protest at the Cincinnati headquarters of Procter & Gamble Co. has been delayed until next year. Eight of the nine activists were expected to stand trial Oct. 27 in Hamilton County Common Pleas Court, but the start of the jury trial has been rescheduled for Jan. 20. One of the activists, Tyler Wilkerson, 27, died Oct. 6 of an undisclosed cause. An Oct. 16 filing asked that the charges be dropped against Wilkerson, a former Marine who served in both Iraq and Afghanistan and was working in California as an organic farmer. “There is no connection between the new trial date and Tyler’s death,” Greenpeace spokeswoman Kat Clark said today.
Anyone writing for SugarString has to agree not to write about net neutrality or government surveillance, two of the biggest, most important tech topics these days. From our standpoint, I guess that takes away “competition” (though, amusingly, it does appear like at least one story on the site is a warmed over version of something that we wrote a week ago, but made more clickbaity with a “list”) on two of the main stories we cover, but it really does raise questions about why anyone would ever trust the site in the first place, when, from the very outset, Verizon has made it clear that its editorial control will be focused on staying away from any stories that Verizon doesn’t like.
There’s nothing new under the sun in Bil’in. If you take a look at the Wikipedia page on Bil’in, you’ll see that the last updates about the village’s struggle against the separation wall refer to 2012. B’Tselem’s page on Bil’in was last updated almost two years ago. One could easily be led to believe that the struggle is over. But Bil’in continues to demonstrate. Perhaps updating Wikipedia and B’Tselem’s website isn’t necessary. The situation in Bil’in remains as it was. Veteran protesters even experience flashbacks to 2008, when the demonstrations took place near the old route of the wall.
We’re making an appeal to Judge Lindsay to apply leniency and sentence Barrett Brown to time served, and we could use your help. Brown is a talented journalist who accepts responsibility for his charged conduct. He was originally charged with sharing a hyperlink to stolen information, and after that was dropped, he pled guilty to hiding his laptops, transmitting a threat, and accessory after the fact to an unauthorized access to a protected computer. He is now facing 8.5 years maximum in prison. When he is sentencedon November 24th, he will have already spent over two years in jail. Given the nature of his crimes and the lack of tangible harm resulting from them, we feel that it’s past time to let him go.
An Egyptian court on Sunday sentenced 23 activists to three years in prison for protesting without a permit, an act that violates a law enacted in November 2013. The men were arrested in June while protesting the restrictive protest law that requires demonstrators to obtain permission from authorities one week in advance of gathering in public, grants the interior ministry the right to reject requests and imposes severe fines for violations. In addition to violating the protest law, the men were also convicted of blocking off a road during the demonstration, damaging public property and using violence “with the aim of terrorizing citizens.”
A longstanding dispute over the privatization of the port at Limón on Costa Rica’s Caribbean coast led unionized dockworkers at the port’s Limón and Moín terminals to walk off the job on Oct. 22 for the second time in two years [see Update #1134]. The open-ended strike left three ships stranded at the two terminals, which handle some 80% of Costa Rica’s foreign trade. Facing his first major labor crisis since he took office on May 8, President Luis Guillermo Solís, of the center-leftCitizen Action Party (PAC), responded quickly. He sent some 150 police officers to take control of the terminals late on Oct. 22; 68 people were arrested in the operation.