Losing Another Decade

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Reclaim the sort of mindset that prevailed during the civil rights movement and, before that, the anti-slavery movement. “I’m talking about a struggle,” he says, and he’s right, up to a point. If all we did was read the New York Times, we’d be nothing more than spectators watching in moviegoer horror as economic forces finished the job of permanently wrecking our life-sustaining habitat. No, he’s crying. Everything is at stake! This requires blood, discomfort and persistence beyond anything we’ve ever attempted or imagined. But struggle and anger alone won’t do it. We need intense activism along with structural analysis and the building of alternative, sustainable lifestyles. We need wisdom, reverence and creativity that we pull up from the depths of our uncertainty. Author Joanna Macy calls it “the Great Turning.” It’s a shift in consciousness that aligns social healing, economic fairness and an end to war with environmental sustainability. And the time to make it happen is running out. We can’t afford to lose another decade, or another twenty minutes.

Coming Soon: This Planet Will No Longer Support Civilization

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As you know, the movement for democracy and justice is sweeping the globe – from democracy revolutions to occupy protests, movements for the rights of workers, students, immigrants, women and Indigenous peoples; resistance to NSA spying, endless war, prison pipelines, tar sands, fracking, nuclear power, GMOs and more. The accelerating climate disaster – now predicted to dismantle civilization as we know it as soon as 2050 – intensifies all these struggles, and provides new urgency for collaboration and unified action. Clearly there is no time to lose. The Convergence calls for a solution as big as the crisis barreling down on us – an emergency green economic transformation, including full employment and living wages; 100 percent clean renewable energy by 2030; universal free health care and education; food and housing security; an end to deportations and mass incarceration; economic and political democracy; demilitarization; ecosystem restoration and support for the rights of Mother Earth; and more. These goals will only be achieved by masses of people coming together in a unified movement, which is exactly what the Convergence is working towards!”

Obama’s Asian Trip Fails To Sell The TPP, Talks Stalled

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As the President’s visit to Japan draws to a close, it is clear that the sales trip has failed. In this case even giving up everything you want and getting nothing back in return wasn’t enough as U.S. negotiators made clear before the trip that they were desperate to report progress of some kind, going so far as to allowing Japan to retain tariffs on rice and wheat while agreeing to cut U.S. tariffs on 99.5 percent of goods imported from Japan. The only progress made with TPP, like with the fast-track trade promotion authority needed to ram the controversial trade deal through Congress, is in building opposition to it ever being passed. Akira Amari, the top Japanese negotiator for the TPP talks, said Thursday evening that the talks with chief U.S. trade negotiator Michael Froman “have stopped for now” and were not expected to resume “straight away,” meaning there will be no breakthrough on the agreement during Obama’s visit.

Washington & The Corporate Media In Full Propaganda Mode On Ukraine

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The lies, propaganda and rank hypocrisy emanating from Washington, and echoed by the US corporate media regarding events in Ukraine are stunning and would be laughable, but for the fact that they appear to be aimed at conditioning the US public for increasing confrontation with Russia – confrontation which could easily tip over the edge into direct military conflict, with consequences that are too dreadful to contemplate. It would be beyond ironic if, a quarter of a century after the collapse of the Soviet Union and the end of nearly half a century of Cold War and Mutual Assured Destruction, during all of which time US and Russian soldiers never fought against each other, we now ended up with soldiers from our two countries actually doing battle with each other, instead of just fighting proxy wars.

Condoleezza Rice Protested At University Of Minnesota

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Hundreds of students and community members protested a speech by Condoleezza Rice at the University of Minnesota. Coleen Rowley explains why: “Not even a year after 9-11, Rice began giving fear-mongering speeches that falsely alluded to Iraqi President Saddam Hussein’s alleged possession of and intent to use nuclear bombs. Rice knew there was no evidence for her “mushroom cloud” speeches but numerous firsthand accounts and memoirs, along with the “Downing Street Memo,” provide evidence that she, along with other key Administration figures, signed onto “fixing the intelligence around the policy” of their previously agreed-upon goal: Launching war on Iraq.”

Major Corporations Announce $60m Divestment From Private Prisons

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We earlier reported that Bill Gates and his sake in GEO coming under pressure from Latino activists. Today there is more news on the front regarding for profit prisons. In a groundbreaking move, three major corporations have announced the divestment of a combined total of nearly $60,000,000 from Corrections Corp Of America (NYSE:CXW) and The Geo Group, Inc. (NYSE:GEO), confirmed after ColorOfChange.org urged company executives to reconsider the financial, moral, and political implications of private prisons and divest. In the past few months, ColorOfChange has reached out to more than 150 companies urging divestment, and remain in conversations with dozens of company executives about ending support for the industry. Investments in private prison companies are unacceptable “The leadership of these companies sets a much needed, powerful new industry standard: investments in private prison companies are unacceptable. What we see here is not just a fluctuating of stock, but a conscience decision on behalf of major companies to cut ties with private prisons. That’s huge.” explained Rashad Robinson, executive director of ColorofChange.org.

Wash U Sit-In Against Peabody Energy Reaches Moment Of Truth

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In an emerging public relations nightmare for Washington University officials, the sit-in against Peabody Energy ties entered a historic third week, as students continued to press demands after a faltering statement released yesterday by Chancellor Mark Wrighton. “We want to make it clear that we are not satisfied with this statement,” the Wash U Students Against Peabody countered. “We plan to continue to pressure Chancellor Wrighton and Provost Thorp until they end Washington University’s relationship with Peabody.” Let’s face it: With growing national media attention, growing outrage over Peabody violations, and growing plans for nationwide rallies against Peabody on its shareholders meeting on May 8, the moment of truth for the Chancellor and the Board of Trustees about Peabody’s toxic relationship with Washington University has arrived. And this Peabody moment of truth has been years—even decades—in the making.

School Privatization Is A Hoax, Reformers Aim To Destroy Public Schools

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As long as anyone can remember, critics have been saying that the schools are in decline. They used to be the best in the world, they say, but no longer. They used to have real standards, but no longer. They used to have discipline, but no longer. What the critics seldom acknowledge is that our schools have changed as our society has changed. Some who look longingly to a golden age in the past remember a time when the schools educated only a small fraction of the population. But the students in the college-bound track of fifty years ago did not get the high quality of education that is now typical in public schools with Advanced Placement courses or International Baccalaureate programs or even in the regular courses offered in our top city and suburban schools. There are more remedial classes today, but there are also more public school students with special needs, more students who don’t read English, more students from troubled families, and fewer students dropping out. As for discipline, it bears remembering a 1955 film called “Blackboard Jungle,” about an unruly, violent inner-city school where students bullied other students. The students in this school were all white. Today, public schools are often the safest places for children in tough neighborhoods.

Cowboy Indian Alliance And Other Unlikely Environmental Alliances

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The Cowboy Indian Alliance may seem like an unprecedented type of environmental movement–multiracial, rooted in struggling rural communities, and often more effective in its grassroots organizing than traditional urban-based white upper/middle class environmental groups–but it is also part of a long, proud tradition that has been conveniently covered up in American history. It’s not everyday you see cowboys helping to set up a tipi encampment, but that’s what is happening this week on the National Mall. An unlikely alliance of white ranchers and Native American activists, known as the Cowboy Indian Alliance, has erected the tipi encampment in the nation’s capital to protest plans for the Keystone XL oil pipeline. The Alliance (with the ironic acronym ‘CIA’) brings together Native Americans with white ranchers and farmers–the archetypal enemies of the American West–to protect their common land and water. The Cowboy Indian Alliance may seem like an unprecedented type of environmental movement–multiracial, rooted in struggling rural communities, and often more effective in its grassroots organizing than traditional urban-based white upper/middle class environmental groups–but it is also part of a long, proud tradition that has been conveniently covered up in American history.

Building A Regional Food System

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The Fifth Season Cooperative: Building Community Wealth and a Regional Food System We first learned about the innovative, multistakeholder Fifth Season Cooperative in Wisconson’s 7 Rivers region from the community wealth builders at Gundersen Lutheran Health Systems, whom we interviewed for one of the case studies in our report Hospitals Building Healthier Communities: Embracing the Anchor Mission. The more we learned, the more excited we became…the cooperative has a uniquely innovative six-member class structure, and is transforming the shuttered NCR factory in Viroqua, WI into an engine of regional food security and local economic stability. Here’s our infographic outlining how the cooperative works:

Oil Tanker Rail Disasters Inevitable Experts Testify

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None of the tank cars currently in service carrying Bakken crude oil is adequate for carrying that product, a rail industry representative testified Tuesday, but until new federal regulations are completed, the use of inadequate cars will continue. That includes tank cars built to higher standards adopted by the industry since 2011. Such cars have failed in at least two recent derailments. Yet in the absence of the new rules, crude oil shippers and refiners continue to rely on them to meet the demands of North America’s energy resurgence. In testimony opening a two-day hearing at the National Transportation Safety Board, rail companies and rail car makers agreed that crude-by-rail shipments would continue to grow. “We don’t see crude oil transportation slowing down or stopping anytime soon,” testified Robert Fronczak, assistant vice president for environment and hazardous materials at the Association of American Railroads, an industry group.

Is NY Times Trying To Lead US Into War In Ukraine?

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Exclusive: After starting a propaganda stampede – with a lead story about photos of Russian troops purportedly in Ukraine – the New York Times admits the pictures really don’t prove much, and one photo was labeled as snapped in Russia when it was really taken in Ukraine, writes Robert Parry. Two days after the New York Times led its editions with a one-sided article about photos supposedly proving that Russian special forces were behind the popular uprisings in eastern Ukraine, the Times published what you might call a modified, limited retraction. Buried deep inside the Wednesday editions (page 9 in my paper), the article by Michael R. Gordon and Andrew E. Kramer – two of the three authors from the earlier story – has this curious beginning: “A collection of photographs that Ukraine says shows the presence of Russian forces in the eastern part of the country, and which the United States cited as evidence of Russian involvement, has come under scrutiny.”

Major Victory Against Fracking: Family Wins $3 Million Verdict

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A Texas family claiming they were sickened because of pollution from hydraulic fracturing operations near their home should be awarded $2.95 million for their troubles, a jury ruled on Tuesday. The Parr family had sued Aruba Petroleum Inc. in 2011, alleging the oil and gas producer exposed them to hazardous gases, chemicals and industrial waste that seeped into the air from 22 wells drilled near the family’s 40-acre plot of land, which sits atop the Barnett Shale. The jury returned a 5-1 verdict saying Aruba “intentionally created a private nuisance,” awarding $275,000 for losses on property value, $2 million for past physical pain and suffering, $250,000 for future physical pain and suffering, and $400,000 for mental anguish. “They’re vindicated,” David Matthews, one of the Parr’s attorneys, wrote on his firm’s blog Tuesday. “I’m really proud of the family that went through what they went through … It’s not easy to go through a lawsuit and have your personal life uncovered and exposed to the extent this family went through.”

The Antidote To Capitalism’s Abuse: Massive Organizing

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Looking back to the defeat of the labor movement since the early 1980s, three lessons seem especially important. First, any gains made under capitalism are temporary; they can be reversed. Second, the kind of unionism we developed in that earlier period of gains was inherently limited; it left us in a poor position to respond to the subsequent attacks. Third, absent new forms of working class organization and practices, fatalism takes over and worker expectations fall. “Raising Expectations (And Raising Hell),” newly out in paperback from Verso, is part memoir, part organizing manual, and part rejoinder to that fatalism. Jane McAlevey is a long-time organizer in the student, environmental and, over the past two decades, labor movements. She is currently a Ph.D. candidate at City University of New York, which she has integrated into her continuing life as a labor organizer. Her message, based on her experiences and achievements, is that as much as capitalism has diminished workers and undermined their confidence in affecting their lives, workers can overcome — but only if they themselves become organizers inside both the workplace and community. While any such organizing begins with workers’ needs, it is workers’ expectations of their own ability to intervene — and of the support from their unions in doing so — that must especially be raised.

Klamath Tribal Members Protest “Celebratory” Signing Of Agreement‏

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U.S. Department of Interior Secretary Sally Jewell, State of Oregon Governor John Kitzhaber, State of California Governor Jerry Brown, Oregon Senator Ron Wyden, Oregon Senator Jeff Merkley, Klamath Tribes elected officials and Klamath Basin irrigators held a “celebratory” signing of the Upper Klamath Basin Comprehensive Agreement last Friday at Collier Park, 4 miles north of Chiloquin. With strong support from Senator Wyden, he stated “I am going to introduce in the first few days of May, legislation in partnership with Senator Merkley to make this agreement law.” But the “celebration” was not held without opposition. Members and descendants of the Klamath, Modoc and Yahooskin tribes came together to object to the UKBCA stating that tribal membership had less than a month to review the 93 page document. Tribal Council only allowed 19 days from the mailing of the ballots by the election company to the deadline for return. Although their addresses are current and updated, a large portion of membership either did not receive a ballot or did not did receive a ballot in time to cast a vote before the deadline. Therefore, membership feels proper voting procedure was not implemented and they did not have adequate time to make an informed decision in the referendum vote, which had a deadline of April 9th 2014 postmarked by 9 am.