If you want a picture that sums up America in 2018, it’s this: a sign has been put up by a private out-of-state security company, Bronsan that reads “NO DONATIONS,” and is hung directly above a car that bears the message, written on its back window in soap: “CAMP FIRE EVACUEES.” The future war is not one of ‘globalism’ vs ‘nationalism’ but of capitalist civilization vs autonomy. If you want a preview, you need only peep the parking lot.
A car with “CAMP FIRE EVACUEES” written on it sits next to a sign telling people not to bring donations to Wallywood, a self-organized encampment set up outside of Walmart in Chico following the Camp Fire.
It’s my second day at the Wallywood encampment and the “NO DONATIONS” sign is the first physical expression, besides the huge security SUVs and trucks which roll by literally ever 5 minutes, that shows outside forces are directly trying to shut down Wallywood, a collection of almost 100 tents resting on several acres of land that sits adjacent to a Walmart parking lot. In the aftermath of the Camp Fire that destroyed thousands of homes in nearby towns like Paradise, hundreds of people were killed in a matter of minutes and tens of thousands were displaced, many only able to escape with the clothes on their backs and if they were lucky, their pets.
Many people ended up here, in the Walmart parking lot were for about two weeks a make shift commune developed, featuring free food, BBQs, supplies and clothes, and a steady stream of resources, such as showers and bathrooms. But as time dragged on and the media slowly began to drift away, organizations like the Red Cross and FEMA entered the picture and slowly attempted to push the encampment out of the parking lot, and redirect donations into the hands of NGOs and the State. First, this meant shutting off various resources, then it meant separating those in trailers and RVs from those who had set up tents in the field, next to the parking lot. In the end, it meant complete eviction.
But in the first days and weeks after the fire, the infrastructure of the encampment grew; four large army style tents went up, creating a central meeting place with different tents for emergency shelter, canned food, a makeshift kitchen, a place to dry wet clothes, and a depot with everything from blankets to kids items. For a while it would seem, people were ready for the long haul.A Meeting That Never Came
I had returned to the encampment after my first day to wait and see if a representative from FEMA would arrive and address the camp; while later we heard that the head of Walmart security for the entire corporation was in talks about the encampment. Some supporters hoped to be relocated, while rumors swirled that FEMA was going to make available trailers for people to live in.
With the rains coming however the question remained if those on the ground would be driven out of the space by mother nature or if they would be physically removed by security and police. A few hours after I stepped foot back onto Wallywood, I along with others watched as the security team evicted one resident, after they had left a note on their door stating that it had been unattended. The person inside had come back to discover the note, only to then have to gather up their items and take down their tent. Bronsan security then went back to circling the encampment, ready to start the process all over again. God forbid you go to the store, work, or pick up your kids – or you know, deal with being burned out of your home, and you may just come back to see you’ve been displaced, yet again.
The representative from FEMA never came, while a volunteer from the Red Cross poked around the outside of the encampment, as Bronsan maintained a constant schedule of continuous surveillance and driving around in literal circles. Various reporters showed up; faces a mix of sadness at the situation and eagerness to capture the scene with their cameras. Three douche-bros with a nice set up began to film the main tents, only to hear, “Don’t film people who don’t want to be filmed!” They quickly moved on. “Who are you with?,” someone asked. “We’re independent…,” one replied. Whatever the fuck that means. At one point, four middle aged white people in suits came out from the parking lot and walked the trail that hugged the dirt between the parking lot and the field, giving that awkward upper-middle class white people smile mixed with frightened scowls to anyone that cared to make eye-contact. They said nothing and walked on.
It was clear that an eviction was coming. The only question was, was it going to happen before or after Christmas, and would the evicting forces simply tell people to kick rocks, or offer them somewhere else to go in return? Would the community launch some sort of defense, and would the camp itself be able to make some sort of collective decision about what the residents themselves wanted?
As I left the camp that night, a Bronsan security guard exhaled a cloud of smoke into the night air from a cigarette, his camo bulletproof vest sticking out in front of him, other hand resting next to his gun. Nearby, camp members walked back and forth, getting rid of trash, making food, and getting ready for another night outside.The Eviction
The hammer came down against Wallywood quickly, on the night of November 30th, a little more than three weeks after the Camp Fire burned through nearby communities. 22 days. That’s all they got.
Through text message I heard from a friend that the encampment was completely shut down in a joint operation between the Red Cross and private Walmart Bronsan security, who were also aided by “2 out-of-uniform cops” who “went tent to tent and forced everyone to pack and put them in vans and U-Huals” and moved them to a new shelter at the nearby fairgrounds. My friend went on to state, “they left no choice for folks” besides facing arrest or accepting the move. By early morning on December 1st, the operation was complete.
As we saw with Katrina, to Puerto Rico, to the State response to the recent hurricanes, the strategy put forward by the government has little to do with helping people put their lives back together and everything to do with protecting private property and carrying out a campaign of counter-insurgency. As as in Iraq with Blackwater, Walmart was smart to turn towards the heavily armed Bronsan security, who did everything from evict campers, to start rumors to scare camp fire evacuees, to their efforts to physically stop donations from coming into the camp, but all while not wearing a Walmart uniform.
Throughout the response to the Camp Fire in Chico, the State and various non-profits and government agencies sought to shut down and destroy any sort of self-organized disaster relief response, while using the cutting off of resources as a way to try and move people in a certain direction without a PR disaster. But even that facade only lasted for so long, before the State reverted back to a strategy of open threats of police violence and arrest.
It’s important to point out that nothing the State offered will address the core problems created by the Camp Fire: namely that of tens of thousands being displaced and made homeless. Instead, the goal is as always to simply manage the catastrophe. To keep the situation from turning on its own contradictions and against the forces ensuring things stay that way.Towards A Better Strategy
While anarchists have gotten pats on the back for their mutual aid efforts in Chico and beyond, we need to expand our tool box when it comes to these interventions and organizing efforts. Luckily, both past experiences and current struggles offer us a lot of insight.
The clearest target in a broader campaign supporting Wallywood, should have been aimed at Bronsan and Walmart itself. Call in campaigns, pickets, actions, and disruptions of offices all could have put pressure on both Walmart to back off as well as put Bronsan on notice that people were watching them and that attacks on Camp Fire victims wasn’t going to go unnoticed. Pushing Bronsan out of the parking lot and out of Wallywood would have been a major victory, and giving Walmart a black eye for their role in both the harassment and the eviction of the space could easily have been achieved. Anarchists could have also called on people in other cities to organize and carry out actions, decentralizing the activity and amplifying the push back.
More could have also been done to politicize the space, hold events, and bring people together, attempting to at least address the division between “volunteers” and those that were displaced by the fire. These events could have included block parties featuring music and speakers, as well as film showings and workshops.
One thing is for sure, all of these tactics and lessons could be applied, now, across the social terrain. in California and across the US, there are currently fights to defend houseless encampments, as various city governments move to break them apart. Everyday, more and more people are being displaced due to gentrification, rising rents, and the increasing cost of living. Moreover, in other disaster zones such as in Florida, the State is also actively bulldozing homeless encampments and likewise pushing out disaster survivors. Without mobilization and bringing attention to these atrocities, these attacks on the poor are simply going to continue, especially as the news cycle is dominated by the Trump spectacle.
While there are so many beautiful things about Wallywood that I could point out, this has been one of the first times that the disgusting and authoritarian nature of our enemies has overshadowed how great the wider community was in coming together and supporting people with mutual aid.
Next time around I hope that we can do more than just show up and help people over a short period of time, I want to be able to push back against the State’s attempts at making them disappear. Next time I want to win.
The post Philadelphia, PA: Announcing New Issue of Anathema appeared first on It's Going Down.Announcing the brand new issue of Anathema, a long running anarchist publication in Philadelphia.
Volume 4 Issue 11 (PDF for reading 8.5 x 11)
Volume 4 Issue 11 (PDF for printing 11 x 17)
In this issue:
- Cash Bail
- Yellow Vests From Afar
- Brosnan Security In Chico
- Welcome To The Future
- Revolutionary Letter #18
- On Splitting
- N17 Report
- Black December
- Phones & Security Culture
A startling new report on climate change from the Trump administration makes clear that if the U.S. government and other major polluters don't do more to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, the resulting climate impacts will be dramatic and costly, both to the U.S. economy and the long-term livability of the planet.
These dire warnings are nothing new, but they come at a time when the Democratic party appears potentially willing to invest serious political capital on the issue of climate change. A new generation of Democrats, like Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, the freshly elected New York representative, are pushing the old guard towards a “Green New Deal.”
But if Dems want that effort to succeed, they have some work to do first.Tags: green new dealCongressional investigationScott PruittTrump AdministrationRyan ZinkeParis Agreement
The post Macron Must Go: Yellow-Vest Lessons for Student Organizers Across Turtle Island appeared first on It's Going Down.An open letter from students in the US to French comrades that also spells out lessons and similarities between struggles.
Now more than ever, universities are in a state of crisis.
American students are facing down gruesome levels of debt profiteering and escalating right-wing attacks against public higher ed — and that’s just the tip of the iceberg.
As the nationwide turn towards fascism advances, campus climates have worsened accordingly. The feds have deported DACA-protected Americans, rolled back standards for sexual violence on campuses, and equipped racist college police departments with military weaponry. Campus-contracted pigs pepper-spray demonstrators at point-blank range and harass student organizers, turning campuses into active sites of class warfare. A system of higher-ed that was designed to deserve the elite in the first place has laid bare it sharpest fangs.
While student movements in the U.S. have and will continue to organize against the neoliberal status-quo, their efforts remain a shell of the student revolts seen in France. Evoking the spirit of 1968, university activism there has re-embraced its militant roots in the wake of strongman Emmanuel Macron’s rise to power. Students have resisted the Macronian austerity agenda by blockading entire campuses, battling university-contracted fascist militias, and even initiating disruptive nationwide strikes alongside left-wing trade-unions. As the low cost and open-access principles of French higher education dissolve, so does complacency among the working-class students caught in the crosshairs.
In a serious blow to Macron’s flailing bid to tame the crisis, France’s future — its youth — blockaded up to 300 middle and high schools in a week-long stand-off with riot police. In addition to airing their concerns over Macron’s unpopular changes to Baccalaureate exams, these young militants publicly echoed the tax, wage, and labor-related concerns fueling the larger public’s growing resentment of the Macronian project.
The birth of France’s Yellow Vest struggle has given further lifeblood to militant university activism against state repression. When the self-styled emperor Macron acceded to Yellow Vest tax demands in an attempt to curb wide-scale rioting, he effectively confirmed that large-scale direct action is an effective means of putting the brakes on his maniacal drive to starve and kill off the working class.
Emboldened by this historic capitulation, the Yellow Vests have embraced a revolutionary agenda that rejects the regime’s rotten olive branches. Beginning on December 7th, Parisian students flooded the streets to support what was dubbed the Yellow Vest Movement’s “Act IV” — a new phase of mass mobilization that demands the collapse of both the French state and the entire capitalist oligarchy that underpins it.
The Yellow Vest struggle and its powerful student vanguard have reintroduced both quiet whispers and public howlings of revolution to French public discourse, reifying the souls of the Paris Commune martyrs who were murdered by imperialist foot-soldiers as they fought to save their anti-capitalist social order. 147 years after the Paris Commune massacre and 60 years after the establishment of France’s fifth post-royalist governance system, some Yellow Vests have pledged to remain on the streets until a Sixth Republic is born — one that is truly free from the all-encompassing terror of the neoliberal state.
This renewed revolutionary momentum has had revarbations far beyond France’s borders, giving hope to people around the world in their myriad fights to free themselves from the coercion of work and the oppression of the state. As prominent liberal democracies fall to fascists like dominoes, the illusion of progress is turning to dust. Many no longer hope for their shackles to be loosened through slow-paced reform, aspiring instead for a true “unshackling” that involves the punishment and elimination of their class enemies. Such folks have watched the Yellow Vest struggle with awe as it’s boldly fought to materialize these aspirations in the heart of neoliberal Europe.
If enraged students from Berkeley to Brigham Young were to adopt their French peers’ sense of urgency and strategically adapt Yellow Vest tactics to their national context, the U.S. could gain a revolutionary faction that’s well-prepared to take on the horrors of disaster-capitalism. To achieve this end, American student organizers would have to fully commit to the pursuit of total liberation from domination — admitting that the only place for reformist tactics is in the trashbin of history.
But so long as the cultish reformism that defines most campus organizing spaces persists, the results could be fatal. No “Blue Wave” or protracted negotiations with unaccountable centers of university power such as “Boards of Trustees” will halt the slow march towards totalized fascism. Many self-aware students know this full-well, but nonetheless forge ahead with reformist demands on the flawed premise that there’s no viable alternative for achieving progress.
If you’re an American student seeking release from the suffocating dead-endedness of reformist campus organizing, find inspiration in the strategic tenacity of your French counterparts. The more you join rank-and-file workers in the streets to fight fascism à la the Yellow Vests, the clearer the prospect of a decolonized, post-capitalist Turtle Island will become.
By accepting this historic responsibility, American students could give new life to meaningful struggle in the global center of capital that they’re raised to call “home.” If they do indeed follow this route, France may not be the only country for which a new social order is on the horizon.
—Ithaca, New York (Unceded Haudenosaunee Homelands)
The People’s Organizing Collective (fb.me/POCUSAS | POCUSAS.org), an Upstate New York-based labor solidarity group, has issued both French and English-language letters affirming support for students involved in the ongoing Yellow Vest demonstrations. Here’s the English copy:
To the French students on the frontlines of the Yellow Vest movement,
Students in America are watching. The world is watching. We support your efforts to challenge Macron’s austerity politics, and join in you demanding that his government must fall. Your courage and strength in standing up to the rich and powerful is admirable.
Further, we applaud you for your larger anti-capitalist struggles and proudly consider you comrades in the fight for a better world. From Paris to Pittsburgh to Palestine, fascism shall not pass.
In love and solidarity,
The People’s Organizing Collective, United Students Against Sweatshops #3
Mexico: Statement From the National and International Campaign for the Freedom of the Political Prisoners of Tlanixco and the Yaqui Tribe
Movement for the Freedom of the Defenders of Water and Life of San Pedro Tlanixco
To the People of Mexico and the World
To the Media
The history of Indigenous peoples can be different. Each community cares for and uses their natural resources according to their necessities, times and manners. Each community organizes, struggles and resists but also each community receives the beating in their territories from one or more heads of the capitalist hydra. Although not all of us are beaten in the same way and at the same time, all Indigenous peoples, not only us, have suffered violations, exploitation, repression, and hatred from those that seek to own our territory, resources and that have little by little taken away our culture. Today we are here as a consequence of that commonality: two Indigenous communities, although we are very distant geographically, our hearts are united due to the pain and rage of having our compañerxs kidnapped by the state.
Our history, the history of San Pedro Tlanixco in its struggle for water and now for freedom, began more than 20 years ago. The Indigenous Nahua community of San Pedro Tlanixco is located in the foothills of the mountain of Toluca, which because of its location has fresh water springs, rivers, forests and resources that have always been cared for and used by the community. However, at the end of the 1980’s in the face of the intensification of the neoliberal system and the flower industry in the municipality of Villa Guerrero, the history of our community took a turn and we began to struggle in defense of water against the voracity of the flower businessmen.
The businessmen of Villa Guerrero, neighbors to the south of the community, began their aberration to dispossess us of our fresh water springs to use them in their own interest. They did so with the complicity of the state government, forcing the community to sign an agreement to stop using the water in exchange for a well.
The flower businessmen led by their representative Alejandro Isaac Basso, claimed to have a title of concession for the river. However, in the year 2000, the community obtained a title of concession in favor of four fresh water springs. When the flower businessmen found out they were not satisfied. In 2001, the national commission of water began a process of nullifying the title that had been authorized to the community.
At that time, the community learned that the people of Villa Guerrero did not have a concession and that up until that year, they had granted water from the river to Villa Guerrero without legal necessity. This is when the community began organizing itself to retake the struggle for water. In 2003, a moment of great tension between both communities, a commission integrated by eleven people of Villa Guerrero decided to hike up the river into our community without warning. People of Tlanixco became aware of this and, exercising our customs and tradition, rang the town bells to gather people to go and investigate the visit from the neighbors. There was a fear that they had poisoned the water. When they met them in the river canyon, the neighbors from Villa Guerrero claimed that the water was arriving downstream to their territory foamy and contaminated. This didn’t make any sense considering the route of our water to their territory would have left behind traces of contaminants if that were the case. For a better conversation and to reach an agreement they decided to scale the canyon to the delegation of the community. In the journey out of the canyon, in a very dangerous path, Isaac Basso slipped and died. Nobody noticed what happened, not even the people that had accompanied him, until they were in the center of the community.
From that point forward, our life changed drastically. The following day, April 2nd, there was an aggressive operation, without arrest warrants, to detain compañerxs of the committee of water and a member of the ejidal commission. During the months of May and June, dozens of residents of the community had to appear in court. The Attorney General’s Office of the state of Mexico created a special prosecutor for the case using the electoral role to summon the neighbors. It was not until the month of July when arrest warrants were issued against eight compañerxs. From there, we realized that the intention of the state government was to punish the community for having raised their voices and organizing themselves to defend their natural resource. This was clear, as the wanted compañerxs had been those most active in the struggle in defense of water. In that same month, they detained compañero Pedro Sánchez Berriozábal and Teófilo Pérez González. Compañero Pedro Sánchez Berriozábal was accused of aggravated homicide and illegal deprivation of liberty. His legal process lasted two years and he was sentenced to fifty-two years in prison. He appealed the sentence, but the Superior Court of Justice ratified the sentence. Currently he has been in prison for fifteen years and five months. Compañero Teófilo Pérez González was accused of the same crime and was sentenced to fifty years. He also appealed the sentence, but it was also ratified. Currently he has been imprisoned for fifteen years and five months. Both compañerxs are detained in the prison of Santiaguito Almoloya de Juárez, State of Mexico.
From those years forward, the community lived through the worst time period, full of police repression and fear because hundreds of government and police officers filled the principal streets of the community, carrying out operations in the early morning and violating the privacy of the inhabitants.
What was the intention of the state? The witnesses accompanying the man who died constantly fell into contradictions. In their first statement they did not point out anyone specifically because they argued that they were not eyewitnesses to the death of the president of the association of users of the Texcaltenco River. However, as things developed, they expanded their statement, taking up arguments directed by the sister of the deceased.
In July of 2006, Rómulo Arias Mireles was detained. His process lasted three years and he was accused of the same crime of aggravated homicide and deprivation of liberty. He was sentenced to fifty-four years in prison. He appealed the sentence but it was also ratified. He has currently spent twelve years in prison and is being held in the same prison of Santiaguito.
The compañero Lorenzo Sánchez Berriozábal was detained December 11th, 2006. His legal process ended in May of 2016, lasting ten years. He was sentenced in November of 2017, accused of the same crime of aggravated homicide and deprivation of liberty. He was sentenced to fifty years in prison. He is currently in the process of appealing the sentence. The compañero is one day away from serving twelve years in the same prison of Santiaguito. His process is also plagued with irregularities because the witness that accused him first, retracted in a confrontation process. However, the judge sentenced him without taking into account other evidence.
On December 12th, 2006, Marco Antonio Pérez González was detained. He was sentenced on November 27th, 2017, and his legal process also lasted ten years. He is currently appealing the sentence, accused of the same crime and imprisoned in the same prison. The compañero is two days away from serving twelve years in prison.
The operations of the state prosecutor continued in the community and in July of 2007, they detained Dominga González Martínez. Her legal process lasted nine years and she was also sentenced on November 27th, 2017 to fifty years, imprisoned in the same prison of Santiaguito. Currently she is appealing the sentence having been imprisoned for eleven years and four months.
Currently there are arrest warrants out against two compañeros for the same cause: Innocent compañeros who have been forced to leave their families, community, everything.
During the whole process, many irregularities have arisen: the statements, testimonies and procedural confrontations are contradictory, confusing and unreal. Not in any moment have the testimonies of the imprisoned compañerxs been taken into account. Their evidence was not properly valued nor was further testimony taken into account. Furthermore, it has not been taken into account that San Pedro Tlanixco is an Indigenous community, where there should be respect and understanding of our ancestral forms of justice.
The most striking contradiction from the witnesses is their original declaration that they were not eyewitnesses of the death. However, in their court appearances between April and May, they mentioned without fear of being mistaken, that Pedro, Rey, Benito, Faustino beat and threw the now deceased into the ravine. In contradiction, in the appearance of Benito and Faustino, they demonstrated that they were not at the scene of the acts, not even in the community. The witness Adolfo Vázquez in a court appearance even mentioned that it is the sister of the deceased who instructed them on who to blame.
It seems that the judge made up charges and afterwards only cut and pasted to dictate the sentence against the two compañeros.
But why accuse the community water defenders of a crime they didn’t commit? To disarticulate the movement in defense of water, to punish those that organize in defense of their territory like compañero Fidencio Aldama of Loma de Bacum of the Yaqui tribe of the State of Sonora. It is the manner in which the state defends the interests of the businessmen.
Not being the only compañeros affected by this evil, the National Indigenous Congress, the home of the Indigenous peoples, has sheltered many struggles in the country. Our brothers and sisters from all geographies have taught and demonstrated to us that another world is possible, that against dispossession and repression one does not remain silent and obey. On the contrary, one must struggle and organize. The community of Tlanixco had already participated in the CNI since 2001, but after what occurred in 2003, it was difficult to continue. It wasn’t until 2015, a year after the emergence of the movement for freedom of the compañerxs, when we began to return to the CNI, stronger and without fear, to demand the freedom of our compañerxs and all political prisoners.
In 2016, in the community of San Pedro Tlanixco, in a national meeting of the National Indigenous Congress, our imprisoned compañerxs were taken in as prisoners of the CNI.
After fifteen, twelve and eleven years of prison of our compañerxs, we demand their immediate and absolute freedom: Pedro Sánchez Berriozábal, Teófilo Pérez González, Rómulo Arias Mireles, Lorenzo Sánchez Berriozábal, Marco Antonio Pérez González and Dominga González Martinez and the cancellation of the arrest orders.
From the movement for the freedom of the defenders of water and life of San Pedro Tlanixco and the compañero Fidencio Aldama of the Yaqui tribe, we invite the people of Mexico, media, artists, graphic designers, musicians, poets, writers, dancers, collective groups, rural and urban communities of Mexico and the world to join and form part of the National and International Campaign for the freedom of the political prisoners of Tlanixco and the Yaqui Tribe. We ask that from your geographies, your methods and times, that you demand with us the freedom of our compañerxs. The solution will not come from above and we know it. Together the Indigenous peoples and civil society have demonstrated that we can support the struggle from below and to left, walking firmly to build another possible world, with art, science and music. That is why compañerxs, that we invite you to participate with a small grain of sand. Although it seems that it is little, in reality it is a lot: every painting, mural, graphic, song, dance, poem, forum, concert, publication, cultural activity that you can contribute in the demand for the freedom of our compañerxs.
Thanks in advance for listening and for the solidarity.
Freedom to the political prisoners!
Movement for the Freedom of the Defenders of Water and Life of San Pedro Tlanixco
Matthias Scheiblehner on why his Seattle construction firm Metis converted into a worker co-op.
Go to the GEO front page
Women and cooperation play a significant role in the Indian economy especially as no other country in the world has a co-operative movement as large and as diverse as India. Even prior to the current day cooperatives, the concept of cooperation & its activities prevailed in several parts of India known differently i.e., Devarai or Vanarai, Chit funds, Kuries, Bhishis, Phads (some of these were utilized by women solely)...In fact, the leaders of the India’s independence saw the cooperative movement as an important tool in carrying forward the policy of rapid and equitable economic development, becoming a part of the National Five year Development Plan efforts. The Self-Help Group model of development a type of cooperation, mostly common amongst poor women is a 20th century social innovation is a micro level privatization of the financial inclusion cooperative model. Cooperatives find explicit mention in two places in the Indian Constitution. First, as part of Article 43 as a Directive Principle which enjoins the State to promote cottage industry through individual or cooperative basis in rural areas and second, in schedule 7 as entries 43 and 44 in the Union list and as entry 32 in the State list.
...Today, the co-operative movement in India is the largest in the world with more than 0.6 million individual cooperatives catering to over 240 million members. The movement has permeated all walks and sectors of life, i.e., agriculture, horticulture,credit and banking, housing, agro-industries, sugar, rural electrification, irrigation, water harvesting, labour, weaker sections, dairy, consumers, public distribution system, international trade, exports, agri-business, human resource development, information technology, etc. The cooperative sector generates self-employment to 17.80 million people and has a membership of around 1 million women in 3740 women’s cooperatives. The cooperative movement has now covered 100 per cent of villages in India along with 65 percent of households bringing rapid transformation both in social, political and economic arena ensuring growth with equity and inclusiveness.
Go to the GEO front page
Sixty percent of US waterways will be at risk for pollution from corporate giants, critics say, following the Trump administration’s announcement Tuesday that it will roll back an Obama-era water rule meant to protect Americans’ drinking water and all the waterways that flow into it.
The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) announced that the Obama administration’s 2015 Waters of the US rule (WOTUS) rule would be redefined and no longer protect many of the nation’s streams and wetlands.
“This is an early Christmas gift to polluters and a lump of coal for everyone else,” said Bob Irvin, president of the national advocacy group American Rivers. “Too many people are living with unsafe drinking water. Low-income communities, indigenous peoples, and communities of color are hit hardest by pollution and river degradation.”
.@EPA is gutting the Clean Water Act.
— Friends of the Earth (@foe_us) December 11, 2018
Under the Trump administration’s proposal, which Common Dreams reported as imminent last week, streams that flow only after rainfall or snowfall will no longer be protected from pollution by developers, agricultural companies, and the fossil fuel industry. Wetlands that are not connected to larger waterways will also not be protected, with developers potentially able to pave over those water bodies.
EPA Acting Administrator Andrew Wheeler suggested that WOTUS had created unfair roadblocks for industries, farmers, and ranchers who wanted to build and work near the nation’s waterways and were kept from doing so because of the potential for water pollution.
But green groups slammed the EPA for once again putting the interests of businesses ahead of the families which rely on the rule that keeps at least 60 percent of the nation’s drinking water sources safe from pollution while also protecting wildlife and ecosystems which thrive in wetlands across the country.
“The Trump administration will stop at nothing to reward polluting industries and endanger our most treasured resources,” Jon Devine, director of the Natural Resources Defense Council’s (NRDC) federal water program, said in a statement. “Given the problems facing our lakes, streams and wetlands from the beaches of Florida to the drinking water of Toledo, now is the time to strengthen protections for our waterways, not weaken them.”
Ken Kopocis, the top water official at the EPA under President Barack Obama, told the Los Angeles Times that the regulatory rollback will create potential for the pollution of larger bodies of water, even though they are technically still covered under WOTUS and the Clean Water Act.
“You can’t protect the larger bodies of water unless you protect the smaller ones that flow into them,” said Kopocis. “You end up with a situation where you can pollute or destroy smaller streams and bodies, and it will eventually impact the larger ones.”
Wenonah Hauter, executive director of Food and Water Watch, called the revised WOTUS rule a “steamroller” to environmental oversight that American families rely on.
“Piece by piece, molecule by molecule, Trump is handing over our country to corporate polluters and other industrial interests at the expense of our future,” said Hauter.
“The proposed rule will take us back five decades in our effort to clean up our waterways,” argued Theresa Pierno of the National Parks Conservancy Association (NPCA). “We must ensure clean water protections extend to all streams, wetlands, lakes and rivers that contribute to the health of larger water bodies downstream, and our communities, parks, and wildlife that depend on them.”
“We will fight to ensure the highest level of protections for our nation’s waters — for our health, our communities and our parks,” Pierno added.
The post Trump Guts Protections for 60 Percent of US’s Streams, Wetlands and Waterways appeared first on Truthout.
It looks as if The Trump Show will take some interesting turns in the new season, which begins Jan. 3. The teaser we saw on Tuesday was a doozy. Minority Leader and soon-to-be House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer went up to the White House to meet with the president about the looming government shutdown and all hell broke loose before the meeting even started. When the fur starts flying at the photo-op, you know that things are going to get crazy.
Trump did his normal thing: Lying, exaggerating, threatening, bragging, complaining. But instead of the usual GOP sycophants clapping like a bunch of trained seals, this time he got pushback. He’s not used to that and it didn’t go well for him.
WATCH: Full video of Trump’s heated meeting with Schumer and Pelosi https://t.co/AoA5Zduq2o
— Aaron Rupar (@atrupar) December 11, 2018
According to the Los Angeles Times, Trump stomped off and threw a folder full of papers around the room after the meeting, which is understandable. He had no idea what had just happened to him and he was frustrated.
It’s hard to believe it was this easy but Pelosi got him rattled by confronting him and then Schumer goaded him into yelling “I’ll proudly shut down the government if I don’t get what I want!” which, if it happens, is going to be an albatross around his neck. The Republicans are reportedly none too pleased that the greatest negotiator the world has ever known was so easily backed into a corner, leaving them with little room to maneuver on the budget, especially since the latest polling shows that a large majority of American don’t want a shutdown over the wall. Even 30 percent of Republicans are against it.
One person who had not one word to say about all this was Vice President Mike Pence, who sat frozen in a chair like a Madame Tussaud’s wax figure, not moving or changing expression the entire time. His behavior was so strange it went viral almost immediately:
This photo was really from the Trump-Pelosi-Schumer fight today. Can someone please check to see if Mike Pence is actually still alive or is this a “Weekend at Bernies” type scenario where they just prop up Pence at meetings. pic.twitter.com/EX1qJvP5ft
— (((DeanObeidallah))) (@DeanObeidallah) December 11, 2018
It’s actually quite understandable that Pence was, well, a bit pensive. The meeting was a train wreck, and it’s plausible that he had recently been on the receiving end of Trump’s wild temper and was just happy not to be involved. After all, Trump had just suffered a major humiliation when Pence’s chief of staff, Nick Ayers, pulled out of an apparent agreement to move up and replace Trump’s departing chief of staff, John Kelly. Trump had foolishly announced Kelly’s departure as one of his distraction ploys during last week’s rollout of bad legal news and no doubt held Pence somewhat responsible for the humiliation when his boy backed out. That’s just how he rolls.
Nobody really knows why Ayers turned down the job. He’s been working for Pence from the beginning of the term and his main characteristic seems to be relentless ambition. But he did, and now Trump is scrambling to find someone. As of Tuesday afternoon, the White House had to backtrack and say that Kelly would stay on until after the first of the year.
The Ayers saga has been going on for some time. Apparently he was pushed hard by Ivanka and Jared Kushner, largely because of their antipathy for Kelly. There were strange little kabuki dances staged for the press, denying that there was any unpleasantness, but nobody was fooled. One of the more recent palace-intrigue stories might have also contributed to Ayers’ departure and Pence’s odd behavior. Gabriel Sherman at Vanity Fair reported recently that there was some talk that for all of his ostentatious bootlicking, Pence wasn’t really bringing anything to the party:
[Earlier this month] Trump hosted a 2020 strategy meeting with a group of advisers. Among the topics discussed was whether Mike Pence should remain on the ticket, given the hurricane-force political headwinds Trump will face, as demonstrated by the midterms, a source briefed on the session told me. “They’re beginning to think about whether Mike Pence should be running again,” the source said, adding that the advisers presented Trump with new polling that shows Pence doesn’t expand Trump’s coalition. “He doesn’t detract from it, but he doesn’t add anything either,” the source said. Last month, The New York Times reported that Trump had been privately asking advisers if Pence could be trusted, and that outside advisers have been pushing Nikki Haley to replace Pence.
It’s hard to know if Ayers’ abrupt departure from the White House might have anything to do with those musings, but you can bet that Pence has heard about it.
That polling is correct, by the way. Pence’s place on the ticket was always predicated on the need for Trump to reel in folks on the religious right who might be put off by his libertine ways. As it turns out, they love him just the way he is.
CNN’s Ron Brownstein looked at some previously unpublished results from the 2018 exit polls and they show something startling. Republicans actually ran poorly among white working-class women who are not evangelicals. Nearly three-fifths of those women voted for the Democrats, more than double the share of evangelical women. Even white working-class non-evangelical men, who did give Republicans a majority, still voted twice as often for Democrats as did white male working-class evangelicals. Most college-educated evangelicals voted for Republicans too. They are consistently Trump’s most ardent followers.
In fact, just last week a group gathered at the Trump Hotel in Washington to pray for him:
[L]ast Friday afternoon (Dec. 7), one of the hotel’s many glimmering ballrooms was transformed into a sanctuary, where dozens of worshippers held their hands aloft and spoke in tongues as Jon Hamill, co-founder of Washington, D.C.-based Lamplighter Ministries, led the group in prayer. Hamill — whom supporters describe as a prophet — closed his eyes tightly and shouted above the chattering: “In Jesus’ name, we declare the Deep State will not prevail!”
The Trump advisers who brought him his polling no doubt understand that these people are in the bag for 2020. But if they want to win they have to figure out a way to bring back some of those non-evangelical women who are abandoning the Republican Party in droves. In that respect, maybe putting Nikki Haley on the ticket makes some sense.
If people are talking about this to the press you can be sure Pence knows about this scuttlebutt too. So does Pence’s fair-haired boy, Nick Ayers, which may be informing his decision to spend more time with his money. That faraway look in the veep’s eye may be the look of someone who’s trying to come to terms with the fact that he’s just another in a long line of Donald Trump’s castoffs who have been used, abused and left with nothing.
The Trump administration just made it a lot easier for big wireless providers like Verizon, AT&T and T-Mobile to interfere with texting, all in the name of protecting consumers from spam, according Democrats and digital rights groups.
Have you ever signed up to receive text blasts from an activist campaign? Does your doctor’s office text you reminders about upcoming appointments?
The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) voted along party lines on Wednesday to classify SMS and MMS text messaging as a Title I “information service” rather than a Title II “telecommunications service” under federal law, a move that congressional Democrats and digital rights groups say will give wireless providers the power to block and censor text messages and widen the digital divide.
The decision applies to standard texting — the text messaging service that comes with your cell phone plan — rather than apps like WhatsApp or Facebook Messenger that require data or a wi-fi connection.
The move follows a long list of deregulatory decisions by the FCC under President Trump, who installed a Republican majority on the commission after taking office. The FCC also reclassified the internet as a lightly-regulated “information service” in order to ditch popular net neutrality rules aimed at preventing telecom companies from blocking or playing favorites with legal web content.
Jessica Rosenworcel, the lone sitting Democrat at the FCC, noted in her dissenting statement that the vote to classify text messaging comes on the one-year anniversary of the net neutrality decision, and she is “not celebrating.”
“That means your carrier now has the legal right to block your text messages and censor the very content of your messages,” Rosenworcel said on Wednesday. “If that sounds familiar, it should. This agency did the same thing with Internet service last year.”
Ajit Pai, the Republican FCC chairman appointed by President Trump, has framed the new classification for text messages as an effort to protect consumers from “spam and robotext messages.” Critics say it’s a thinly veiled handout to the telecom industry. Telecom companies are eager to prevent their networks from being regulated more like a utility – the way landline telephone service is regulated — that offers an essential service to the public and must treat all the information transmitted on them fairly.
The story goes back to 2007, when NARAL Pro-Choice America established a five-digit “short code” number in order to send text message updates to supporters of women’s rights who voluntarily signed up to receive them. Verizon initially blocked the group’s text blasts on its wireless network, arguing it had a right to keep “controversial and unsavory” content off its network.
The company quickly reversed its decision after media coverage sparked outcry among pro-choice activists, but digital rights groups saw a red flag in the brewing debate over network neutrality. In December 2007, Public Knowledge, Free Press and other public interest groups petitioned the FCC to classify text messages as a Title II “telecommunications service,” or to use another authority to prevent providers from blocking legal text messages.Pai has now placed SMS and MMS text messaging under Title I, dashing any hopes that text messages will have strong legal protection against discrimination.
Verizon’s decision to block pro-choice text blasts was not an isolated incident. In 2010, civil rights groups filed a comment with the FCC noting other incidents of text blast blocking, including a “text to voice” fundraising campaign for earthquake survivors in Haiti that Sprint Nextel shut out of its network in 2010.
At the time, immigrant rights groups were using text blasts to keep supporters nationwide updated about activism around immigration reform and the Dreamer movement to protect young immigrants from deportation. Many activists still use “short code” text blasts to rally their communities and orchestrate get-out-the-vote campaigns, and civil rights activists fear their vast texting networks could be compromised by wireless providers without protection from the FCC.
Under Title II, a telecom service is regulated as a “common carrier” that is barred unreasonable discrimination against information on its network, but similar anti-discrimination language does not exist under Title I, according to Matt Wood, a policy director at the digital rights group Free Press. Advocates fought a long battle to classify the internet under Title II and establish net neutrality, only to have the FCC reverse course after Trump installed Pai at its helm.
With the debate over net neutrality raising so many questions for the telecom industry, the FCC never acted on the 2007 petition to classify text messaging under Title II, until now. Pai, who butted heads with digital rights groups over net neutrality for years, has now placed SMS and MMS text messaging under Title I rather than Title II, dashing any hopes that text messages will have strong legal protection against discrimination by wireless carriers anytime soon.
“This is a decision by this FCC to deny to people protection against wireless carriers interfering with our free speech and our communication,” Wood told Truthout.
Chairman Pai, anti-regulation groups and the wireless industry argue that Title II’s non-discrimination protections would prevent wireless carriers from removing unwanted spam and “robotexts” from their networks. They point to a 2015 petition from Twilio, a Silicon Valley cloud company that offers text-based marketing services, as evidence that spammers want to tie the hands of providers with Title II. Twilio argued that placing texting under Title II would protect innovation, competition and free speech.
However, wireless phone calls are classified under Title II, and digital rights groups say the FCC has already ruled that wireless carriers may block unwanted robocalls despite the “common carrier” classification. The same goes for text messaging over wireless networks. In fact, placing texting under Title I could pull SMS and MMS text messages out from under the jurisdiction of a federal law designed to curb robocalls, according to the digital rights group Public Knowledge.
“Carriers are already fully empowered by this agency to protect consumers from unwanted junk text messages,” Rosenworcel said. “The FCC has made this abundantly clear in prior rulings.”
Wood said that under Title II, wireless carriers like Verizon would still be able to filter out spam messages for consumers, as long as they informed consumers about the filtering and perhaps gave them the option to opt in or out. However, under Title I, wireless carriers can preemptively block texts consumers may want — just like when Verizon shut down NARAL’s pro-choice text blasts in 2007.
Wood said Pai’s concern about spam messages and “robotexts” is a red herring. In reality, wireless providers with text messaging plans are trying to compete with free internet-based texting services like WhatsApp and Facebook Messenger, and they want to be regulated in the same way.
Consumers who can afford lots of wireless data or live in areas where free wi-fi is in abundance can easily choose to switch to an internet messaging app if companies like Verizon and AT&T start blocking SMS and MMS text messages they actually want to send and receive. But what about those who don’t live in areas with free and/or abundant wi-fi?
Wood said there is plenty of research to show that those who are least likely to use mobile internet-based services are low-income people and people of color at every income level. They are also more likely to live in marginalized and underserved communities.
“These individuals should not be subject to the whims of wireless carriers’ decisions to block political messages — or, in fact, any wanted messages — when those without broadband [internet] cannot simply click over to a different application for their messaging needs,” Wood said.
As they voted to approve the resolution, Pai and his fellow Republicans said the new classification for SMS and MMS text messaging was a victory for consumers. Rosenworcel said consumers should be familiar with such evasive language from the Trump FCC, and it makes telling the truth “feel revolutionary.”
“Today’s decision offers consumers no new ability to prevent robotexts,” Rosenworcel said. “It simply provides that carriers can block our text messages and censor the very content of the messages themselves. Calling this decision anything else is doublespeak.”
The post The Trump Administration Just Killed Net Neutrality for Text Messages appeared first on Truthout.
Stoneman Douglas report calls on the sheriff's office to investigate SEVEN deputies who 'failed to confront Nikolas Cruz during the horrific mass school shooting'
Stoneman Douglas report calls on the sheriff's office to investigate SEVEN deputies who 'failed to confront Nikolas Cruz during the horrific mass school shooting' | 12 Dec 2018 | A new report on the Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School massacre has called on police to investigate seven deputies it claimed did not respond fast enough. The Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School Public Safety Commission found that the Broward Sheriff's Office displayed deficiencies in everything from training and command to individual performance in its response to the Parkland shooting. It has recommended that the sheriff's office investigate the performance of seven deputies who failed to engage the gunman despite hearing gunshots at the school...The report comes a week after BSO Capt Jan Jordan resigned and Sgt Brian Miller was placed on paid suspension following their response to the shooting. Jordan oversaw the city of Parkland on February 14 and Miller was the first sergeant to arrive at the scene. Law enforcement officers told investigators Jordan appeared to be in a trancelike state and overwhelmed as she tried to direct the initial response to the attack.
As we broadcast from the UN climate summit in Katowice, Poland, world leaders and officials from nearly 200 countries are here to negotiate how to implement the 2015 Paris Agreement. But three years after Paris, they appear no closer to curbing global emissions and halting catastrophic climate change. New studies show global carbon emissions may have risen as much as 3.7 percent in 2018, marking the second annual increase in a row. As the UN Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change reports that humanity has only a dozen years to mitigate climate change or face global catastrophe, we speak with Joanna Sustento, who has already felt the harrowing effects of climate change and has dedicated her life to climate activism as a result. Her life was turned upside down in 2013, when Typhoon Haiyan, one of the strongest cyclones in recorded history, devastated the Philippines, killing five members of her family and thousands of others.Transcript
AMY GOODMAN: We’re broadcasting from the UN climate summit in Katowice, Poland, just an hour’s drive from Krakow and about the same distance from Auschwitz, the largest Nazi concentration camp of World War II. Nearly a million Jews died in the camp.
Here in Katowice, world leaders are gathered for the final few days of the 24th annual UN climate conference. Officials from nearly 200 countries are here to negotiate how to implement the 2015 Paris Agreement. But three years after Paris, countries appear no closer to curbing global emissions and halting catastrophic climate change. New studies show global carbon emissions may have risen as much 3.7 percent in 2018, marking the second annual increase in a row. One recent report likened rising emissions to a, quote, “speeding freight train.”
As the UN Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change reports that humanity has only a dozen years to mitigate climate change or face global catastrophe, we begin today’s show with a woman who’s already felt the harrowing effects of climate change, is dedicating her life to climate activism as a result. Joanna Sustento’s life was turned upside down in 2013, when Typhoon Haiyan, one of the strongest cyclones in recorded history, devastated her country, the Philippines, killing five members of her family and thousands of others. This is Joanna telling her story to Greenpeace Philippines.
JOANNA SUSTENTO: From the biggest of tragedies, hope can be found. My name is Joanna Sustento. I had a happy life, a good job, great friends and a wonderful loving family. But in a matter of minutes, all of that changed.
For those who experienced Haiyan, the strongest typhoon ever recorded, it was apocalyptic. I witnessed my mother, my father, brother, sister-in-law and my 3-year-old nephew being swept away by the storm surge. It left my brother and me to search for our family’s bodies in the aftermath. We never found our father and our nephew. It’s difficult to be the one left behind. We have to deal with all the questions, the grief, the pain and the regrets.
Typhoon Haiyan killed more than 10,000 people and left over 14 million people homeless. But it’s not just statistics and numbers in a news report. This is about us, the people.
AMY GOODMAN: That was Filipina climate activist Joanna Sustento. Since Typhoon Haiyan, she’s focused her fight against climate change on the world’s biggest polluters. They’re called the carbon majors, the 47 fossil fuel companies responsible for nearly a quarter of all greenhouse gases. She says they’re legally responsible for the death of her family members. She’s here in Katowice, Poland, for the UN climate summit.
Joanna Sustento, welcome to Democracy Now!
JOANNA SUSTENTO: Thank you for having me.
AMY GOODMAN: Oh, I remember so vividly five years ago, when we were actually here, in the same country, Poland, in Warsaw, when Yeb Saño, who was heading the Philippines delegation —
JOANNA SUSTENTO: Yes.
AMY GOODMAN: — spoke to the world. We’re going to play that in a minute. But if you can talk about where you were on that day, and tell us what happened?
JOANNA SUSTENTO: So, five years ago, on November 8, 2013, I was actually at home with my family. So, there was seven of us living in that house. And as early as 5 a.m., we were already awake because of the strong wind and the rain. And it was the — I mean, in the Philippines, we experience an average of 20 typhoons per year, but it was the first time that we felt such intensity to the point that we can feel our house vibrate because of the pressure. And there was a distinct howling in the wind that was — we’ve never experienced that before. And that was also the time when we — it was the first time we experienced storm surge, for — the height was like 15 to 20 feet. We had no choice but to go out of our house.
AMY GOODMAN: And “we” were? You were with?
JOANNA SUSTENTO: I was with my parents, my eldest brother, my — two of my — two of my older brothers, my sister-in-law and my 3-year-old nephew. There was seven of us in that house.
So, basically, we didn’t have a choice but to just go out of the house, because if we stayed there, we would be trapped inside. And we got separated from each other while battling the strong winds, the rain and the storm surge. And in just two hours, everything was damaged. Everything was taken away from us.
AMY GOODMAN: Had water risen?
JOANNA SUSTENTO: Yes, it rose for about 15 to 20 feet.
AMY GOODMAN: Who were you with outside?
JOANNA SUSTENTO: My whole family. My whole family, we decided to go out of the house. And —
AMY GOODMAN: You were holding on to each other?
JOANNA SUSTENTO: We were holding on to our window grills. And then, the strategy was we would wait for the storm surge to rise up to the roof, so it would be easier for us to go up. But since there were plenty of debris floating — animals, like birds, frogs, snakes, rats, were floating with us in the surge, and it was hitting us, as well. We couldn’t also see what was really happening, because everything was so hazy, and it was as if crushed ice were being thrown at our face. So, at some point, all of us were separated from each other.
But I was together with my parents during their last minutes of their lives. I saw my father — while we were floating and we were holding on to a log, my father drowned. And then he surfaced. And then I saw him drown again. And then he surfaced. And then he drowned, and then I never saw him again. And that’s when I focused myself on my mom. There was a refrigerator floating in front of us, so I decided to grab on to the refrigerator so that we could stay afloat. So my mom held on to it, as well. But the waves were so strong. It was crashing onto the refrigerator. And I was being pushed under the steel trusses of a building nearby our house. So, the water was — the steel trusses of the building was up here on my head.
AMY GOODMAN: Above your head.
JOANNA SUSTENTO: And the water was up here. So I —
AMY GOODMAN: And the water was to your nose.
JOANNA SUSTENTO: Yes. I was being trapped. So I decided to just push the refrigerator away from the building and hold on to it. And I looked for other things to keep me afloat. But that’s when my mom and I got separated from each other. And I felt like I was being spun inside a washing machine. It was very hard for me to surface again, because there were plenty of debris blocking my head. I tried to surface, but I just couldn’t. And at some point, it was very exhausting for me to try to survive. But I felt that when I pushed my head, I felt air. So I just used both my hands to push all the things that were blocking my head. And I actually used — I think it was a door. I’m not sure. I used the thing that was blocking my head to float.
And then I saw my mom, and I drifted towards her. I held her arms, and I tried to lift half of her body so she could hold on to the wood I was using to stay afloat. But when my hands slipped from her arms to her fingers, her body splashed into the water. And there was just no sign of her struggling to survive, so I just hugged her, and I kept on calling her, but she didn’t respond anymore. And that’s when I realized that my mom was gone. I just held on to her and let the storm surge take us.
And then, at some point, it was very exhausting to be carrying her lifeless body and that I had to make a decision. If I am going to hold on to my mom, I would also die, because the current of the water was very strong. But if I let her go, I will live. But will I ever be able to live with that decision, that I wasn’t able to save what was left of my family?
AMY GOODMAN: But your mother was dead.
JOANNA SUSTENTO: So, I decided that I was able to survive that storm, and my parents would want me to continue and to choose to be alive despite all of that. So, I had no choice but to just let her go. And then I just climbed up the steel frames of a water tank, and I stayed there until the wind and — until the wind and the water receded. And then someone just helped me come down from the steel frames. And then I asked what time it was, and he said that it was about 9 a.m. And then I remembered that the water started to rise in our house, it was 7:00, so it was two hours.
AMY GOODMAN: In fact, 10,000 people died in that two hours.
JOANNA SUSTENTO: More than 10,000 people died.
AMY GOODMAN: And your other family members, your brothers, your nephew?
JOANNA SUSTENTO: My older — my eldest brother, his wife and his son, they weren’t able to survive the storm, either. So, right now, it’s just me and my older brother.
AMY GOODMAN: At that time that you were struggling for your life, the UN summit was taking place right here in Poland. And Yeb Saño was beside himself. Yeb Saño, the Philippines top climate negotiator five years ago. This is Yeb addressing the 2013 UN climate conference in Warsaw just after the Typhoon Haiyan devastated the Philippines.
NADEREV ”YEB” SAÑO: Typhoons such as Haiyan and its impacts represent a sobering reminder to the international community that we cannot afford to delay climate action. Warsaw must deliver on enhancing ambition and should muster the political will to address climate change and build that important bridge towards Peru and Paris. It might be said that it must be poetic justice that the Typhoon Haiyan was so big that its diameter spanned the distance between Warsaw and Paris.
Mr. President, in Doha we asked: “If not us, then who? If not now, then when? If not here, then where?” But here in Warsaw, we may very well ask these same forthright questions. What my country is going through as a result of this extreme climate event is madness. The climate crisis is madness. Mr. President, we can stop this madness right here in Warsaw.
AMY GOODMAN: That was Yeb Saño speaking as the lead climate negotiator for the Philippines in 2013. Through that UN climate summit, he wept, he fasted. The next year, the UN climate summit was held in Lima, Peru. And just before he was headed to Peru, he learned he would no longer be on the delegation. Our guest is Joanna Sustento, climate activist from Tacloban. Also, Yeb did not know what had happened to his family members. And your family knew Yeb’s family.
JOANNA SUSTENTO: Yes. Yeb’s brother, A.G. Saño, is actually my brother’s friend. And A.G. was supposed to stay at our house the night before the typhoon struck, but he decided to stay in a hotel. And I couldn’t imagine if A.G. was in our house and he would also experience the same extent of the struggle to survive.
AMY GOODMAN: In fact, we spoke with both A.G. and Yeb in the coming summits, as they described their own experience.
JOANNA SUSTENTO: Yes.
AMY GOODMAN: You have called Typhoon Haiyan a violation of human rights. Talk about that. Why?
JOANNA SUSTENTO: Typhoon Haiyan, and all the other storms that passed after Haiyan, as a result of climate change, is a violation of human rights, because whenever extreme weather events happen, especially in my country, the Philippines, we lose the basic human right to a safe environment. We lose the right to live. We lose our right to livelihood. We lose our right to education, because schools get damaged. And whenever there are typhoon warnings, our classes get suspended. And can you imagine like — can you imagine students having to go through that? We lose our human dignity, to have — to just have that mental health, because after the storm we did not have that space to grieve and to just feel what we want to feel. We lost everything, but we didn’t have that space, because we were so busy for survival. We were busy looking for food, for water, for our family members.
AMY GOODMAN: So talk about how you went from this climate catastrophe, a climate survivor, losing five members of your family, to becoming a climate activist, coming to global gatherings like these and now taking on what’s called the carbon majors, the 47 fossil fuel companies that are responsible for some quarter of the fossil fuels emitted through history, fossil fuel emissions.
JOANNA SUSTENTO: Well, I can say that what we’ve experienced back home, Typhoon Haiyan, it became that turning point, because a year after the onslaught of Haiyan we were again anticipating another super typhoon. And I remember as I was packing my things, because we were preparing to evacuate to a safer place, I just felt so exhausted. And I just thought, “Is this it? Is this the life that I’m going to be living from now on? Are we just going to wait for another catastrophe to happen? Are we just going to count the casualties, the injured, the missing? Are we just going to wait for relief and aid from foreign countries every time we are met by these catastrophes?” And I cannot imagine living a life like that. It’s exhausting. It’s a great injustice, because we are not responsible for this. I do not want my future family, my future children, to go through what I’ve been through, because no one — no one deserves — no one deserves that.
And that’s when I realized that everything was taken away by that storm, but I was able to survive that for a reason. And I promised myself that I will never stop finding what that reason is. Sorry. And I realized that despite everything, our community, we have gained a powerful story to tell, because our experiences, our stories, it could put a human face on the numbers, on the statistics of climate change. And I believe that these global conferences, human stories — human stories — have that power to change the current system.
AMY GOODMAN: Right now, a human rights commission in the Philippines is trying to determine if corporate polluters should be held accountable for the loss of life linked to their business model. Can you describe this investigation that’s underway, and also a lawsuit against the carbon majors?
JOANNA SUSTENTO: Well, this petition was filed in the year 2015 by typhoon survivors, fisherfolk, farmers and other environmental organizations at the Commission on Human Rights of the Philippines to — yes, to investigate 47 oil, coal and gas companies into their responsibility for human rights violations resulting from climate change. Now it is already the sixth public hearing in the Philippines, actually. So, we gather scientists, researchers, who have the facts, backed by climate science.
AMY GOODMAN: And what you say to people who say you can never prove any one hurricane is related to climate change?
JOANNA SUSTENTO: Yes, of course.
AMY GOODMAN: And yet, the intensity, the frequency.
JOANNA SUSTENTO: Yes. It has been getting more extreme, getting more frequent. And with the help of our community witnesses in the Philippines — they are also put to the stand, and they have the chance to share how climate change impacted their lives, their livelihood, their —
AMY GOODMAN: Have companies tried to shut down the investigation, some of these fossil fuel companies?
JOANNA SUSTENTO: So far, none of them have showed up. So they are ignoring, blatantly ignoring, as what — as what they’ve been doing for the past decades, because they knew. They knew of the consequences of their business practices, but they didn’t do — well, they did something about it: They paid billions of dollars to individuals so that they deny climate science. And that’s just — they blatantly deceived the whole world.
AMY GOODMAN: Have you been participating in some of the protests here? And also, the issue that’s so interesting of protests that are taking place, yet those who protest in this conference center in Poland — this is part of a UN deal — a conference center that, by the way, is shaped like a coal mine and sits on an old coal mine — a whole coal mine area — protesters are not allowed to name names of corporations they’re protesting.
JOANNA SUSTENTO: I have been participating like in the climate march. And I’ve also seen plenty of activists who — with whom I share the same advocacy.
AMY GOODMAN: Can you name some of the names of the companies, the 47 carbon majors?
JOANNA SUSTENTO: Shell, BP, Chevron, ExxonMobil, Suncor, Lukoil. That’s just some of the — well, there are actually 90 big companies all over the world, but 47 companies are present in the Philippines.
AMY GOODMAN: We just have 30 seconds left. What do you want to see come out of this conference? And talk about your life’s dedication at this point, your life’s mission.
JOANNA SUSTENTO: Honestly, at this point, I am not expecting anything from the COP. But having journeyed with fellow activists here, I see that there is so much power in the people out there. There is so much power for them to create that pressure to our governments, to our corporations to change the current system. And through their stories, through our stories, we can change that global mindset.
AMY GOODMAN: I want to thank you so much for being with us. Again, our condolences for your family, for the Philippines and for so many other countries. We’re going to talk more about this all through this week as we broadcast from the UN climate summit. Joanna Sustento, climate activist from Tacloban, Philippines.
JOANNA SUSTENTO: Thank you.
AMY GOODMAN: Typhoon Haiyan survivor, lost five members of her family and so many more in her community.
This is Democracy Now! When we come back, chasing the story. Democracy Now! tries to question a top climate adviser to President Trump. Stay with us.
The post Typhoon Haiyan Survivor: Fossil Fuel Companies Killed My Family appeared first on Truthout.
Migrant groups march to U.S. consulate in Tijuana, demanding reparations of $50,000 each | 12 Dec 2018 | Two groups of Central American migrants made separate marches on the U.S. Consulate in Tijuana Tuesday, demanding that they be processed through the asylum system more quickly and in greater numbers, that deportations be halted and that President Trump either let them into the country or pay them $50,000 each to go home...The first group demanding action, numbering about 100, arrived at the U.S. Consulate at about 11 am Tuesday. The migrants said they were asking that the Trump Administration pay them $50,000 each or allow them into the U.S.
The Trump administration is promoting fossil fuels at the UN climate summit in Katowice, Poland, despite outcry from climate activists and world leaders concerned about the devastating threat of climate change. Chief among Trump’s representatives at the climate summit is Wells Griffith, special assistant to the president for international energy and environment. He is a longtime Republican operative who served as deputy chief of staff to Reince Priebus when Priebus was chair of the Republican National Committee. Amy Goodman attempted to question Griffith about the Trump administration’s climate policy at the UN summit Tuesday. Griffith refused to answer questions and ran from our camera team for about a quarter-mile, retreating to the US delegation office.Transcript
AMY GOODMAN: We’re broadcasting from the UN climate summit here in Katowice, Poland. Protesters on Monday disrupted an event hosted by the Trump administration promoting coal and fossil fuels. It was the only public event hosted by the United States during the summit. The event featured Wells Griffith, special assistant to the president for international energy and environment. Griffith is a longtime Republican operative who served as deputy chief of staff to Reince Priebus when Priebus was chair of the Republican National Committee. Climate activists disrupted Griffith’s speech minutes after he began speaking.
WELLS GRIFFITH: Over a year and a half ago, President Trump announced the United States — the United States’ intent to withdraw from the Paris Agreement, unless suitable terms for re-engagement are identified. We strongly believe that no country should have to sacrifice economic prosperity or energy security in pursuit of environmental sustainability. The United States is now the number one combined oil and gas producer in the world. If we are serious about eradicating poverty and providing universal access to affordable, reliable energy, it is clear that energy innovation and fossil fuels will continue to play a leading role.
PROTESTERS: Ha! Ha ha ha!
WELLS GRIFFITH: All the access —
PROTESTER 1: It’s not funny. It’s not funny. It’s not a joke.
PROTESTER 2: These false solutions are a joke! But the impacts to our front-line communities are not. We hold the solutions, and we know that we must keep it in the ground!
PROTESTERS: Keep it in the ground! Keep it in the ground! Keep it in the ground! Keep it in the ground!
PROTESTER 3: Our Mother Earth has been mined, drilled, fracked —
TRUMP SUPPORTER: Great, great, great!
PROTESTER 3: — and poisoned with radioactivity. We won’t allow it no more!
PROTESTER 4: My mother has called me on the phone to say that our home in Chennai has flooded multiple times, and then the next year said that we’re living in a drought. Do you know what this feels like? It is hard. No one deserves this kind of suffering.
PROTESTER 5: These folks over here are illusionists. They have a show, smoke and mirrors. They come here to sell. And ultimately, they’re carbon — or, climate deniers and carbon and nuclear energy profiteers. Shame on you!
PROTESTERS: Shame on you! Shame on you! Shame on you! Shame on you! Shame on you! Shame on you! Shame on you!
WELLS GRIFFITH: I think we’re going to continue going. I think that was another example of, all too often, we can’t have an open and honest discussion about the realities. And it was actually fitting that we — we began — the interruption began during the energy access portion that we were discussing. In addition to economic growth, energy security and eradicating energy poverty, all energy sources are important, and they will be utilized unapologetically.
KRISTY DRUTMAN: Hi. My name is Kristy Drutman. I’m from Oakland, California. And I am one of the leads with SustainUS’s media team this year. And this action, we basically wanted to make a mockery of the Trump administration promoting fossil fuels here at COP24 this year in Poland, so we made a display. Everyone in the audience laughed. We did a walkout. We did chants and speeches featuring front-line and indigenous community members who are really pushing for real solutions to climate change, which involves putting fossil fuels in the ground and transitioning to renewable energy and focusing on community-led solutions to our climate crisis.
MONICA ARAYA: My name is Monica Araya, and I’m an activist from Costa Rica. We just witnessed something very backward, which is a male panel talking about something that doesn’t exist. They talk about clean fossil fuels, but we know that doesn’t exist. So that’s something that, you know, makes you scratch your head. But the other thing that was remarkable is that they talk as if science doesn’t exist. They talk as if the burning of those fossil fuels doesn’t have impacts. And, in essence, they are optimizing the wrong industry, because it was all about optimization of an industry that we know has to say goodbye.
PROTESTERS: Power to the people! Power to the people! Show me what community looks like! This is what community looks like!
AMY GOODMAN: The voices of protesters here at the UN climate talks in Katowice, Poland, disrupting an event hosted by the United States to promote coal and other fossil fuels. The action began when protesters started laughing at one of the speakers, the chair of the event, Trump adviser Wells Griffith, a longtime Republican operative who serves as special assistant to the president for international energy and environment. Griffith served as deputy chief of staff to Reince Priebus when Priebus was chair of the Republican National Committee. I ran into Wells Griffith on Tuesday here at the UN climate talks and attempted to ask him about the Trump administration’s climate policy. Griffith immediately began walking and then running away.
AMY GOODMAN: Hi. I’m Amy Goodman from Democracy Now!
WELLS GRIFFITH: I’m sorry, I’ve got to go.
AMY GOODMAN: Can you tell — oh, no, we came to your — we came to your report —
WELLS GRIFFITH: I’m sorry. I’ve got to go to another meeting.
AMY GOODMAN: Can you tell us what you think about President Trump saying climate change is a hoax?
WELLS GRIFFITH: Thank you. Excuse me.
AMY GOODMAN: You could answer the question. Are you not speaking to the press here?
WELLS GRIFFITH: Excuse — I’m sorry. I’m running late for a meeting. Thanks.
AMY GOODMAN: Right, but you weren’t running late when you were just standing there. So, just answer the question: What is the US doing here, since President Trump said he’s pulling out of the Paris Agreement? Can you talk about — can you talk about President Trump saying that climate change is a Chinese hoax? Can you — are you not talking to the press while you’re here?
WELLS GRIFFITH: Maybe we can — we can set something up later, with a — with our press —
AMY GOODMAN: Who would I talk to? Can I ask if you agree with President Trump calling climate change a hoax? You’re definitely giving me a run for the money here. Can you talk about why the US is here, since President Trump is saying he’s pulling the US out of the Paris climate accord? Can you talk about why you’re pushing coal? No answer on any issue? Can you talk — can you talk about why the US would not welcome the UN report saying that catastrophic climate change is imminent, and the US — the world has to wean itself off of coal by 2050?
WELLS GRIFFITH: I’ll connect you with our press folks, if you want to give me your card, and I’ll have them reach out.
AMY GOODMAN: We could have spoken this whole time. I don’t hold out much hope for you to grant me an interview. But if you could answer the question about whether you agree with President Trump calling climate change a hoax? Can you explain why the US is even at the climate summit, given that he’s pulling out?
WELLS GRIFFITH: If you’d like to give me your card, I’ll reach out — excuse me — I’ll reach out to our press…
AMY GOODMAN: Can you explain why the US joined with Saudi Arabia in watering down language around the UN report?
AMY GOODMAN: Wells Griffith begins to climb a set of stairs, then suddenly reverses course, comes back down and darts past the various country pavilion exhibits.
AMY GOODMAN: Wells Griffith, can you talk about why the US is pushing coal at this UN climate summit? Can you talk about the US role here at the UN climate summit, why the US is present at all? Can you explain why you won’t comment on any issue, yet you’re here?
WELLS GRIFFITH: If you’d like to give me your card, I can do it. But you’re really harassing me. If you’ll give me your card, I can have my — we can [inaudible] —
AMY GOODMAN: If you’d just answer a few questions.
WELLS GRIFFITH: Yeah, I’m a little late for — if you give me your card, I can have our folks reach out, and they would give — do some questions. But you’re kind of — you’re actually harassing me. But I can give you a —
AMY GOODMAN: Can you explain why you won’t answer any questions on the issue of climate change or why the US is here?
WELLS GRIFFITH: If you would like to set up an interview, we can do that. I just would need your contact information.
AMY GOODMAN: A reporter asking you a question, sir, is not harassment.
WELLS GRIFFITH: That’s not what’s happening.
AMY GOODMAN: Why not answer a few simple questions?
WELLS GRIFFITH: I’d be happy to set something up if you would give me your contact information.
AMY GOODMAN: So you’re saying you will do an interview?
WELLS GRIFFITH: I’m saying I’ll get with our press folks, and we’ll — excuse me, I’m sorry. I’m running late.
AMY GOODMAN: Well, why don’t you give me your card — why don’t you give me your card, and we’ll set something up?
WELLS GRIFFITH: I asked for yours. I’d be happy to set up a — I’d be happy to get you in touch with our press folks, but you’re following me around here.
AMY GOODMAN: Yeah, I just want to get a few answers. It would take a few minutes.
AMY GOODMAN: Wells Griffith further accelerates, sprinting up another set of stairs, taking two steps at a time.
AMY GOODMAN: Mr. Griffith, can you just explain why the US joined with Saudi Arabia to not welcome, to demand that the word “welcome” come out of — oh, thank you. OK. Do you want — I thought you wanted to get me contact information.
Well, we’re standing in front of the United States of America Delegation Office. We followed Wells Griffith, who is a representative of the Trump administration, formerly a top aide to Reince Priebus, to ask him about the US side program yesterday where they pushed coal and fossil fuels at the UN climate summit. And I went up to him and asked him what he thinks of President Trump saying climate change is a hoax. I asked about why the United States is here at the UN climate summit, given that President Trump — wait, I have to take my breath.
AIDE: You can email us at this.
AMY GOODMAN: Can you say who you are?
AIDE: Here. Email at comms at climate [inaudible] —
AMY GOODMAN: I’ll take it. I’ll take — let me take the card. You’re not going to give me the card? He said someone would give me the card. Sir. You’re not going to give me a card?
So, a representative of the US government just was about to hand me a card and then decided against handing me a card. Well, Wells Griffith said they would allow us to get a contact, so we’ll just wait here and see what’s happening.
AMY GOODMAN: A formal request for Trump adviser Wells Griffith to do an interview, his office just responded: “Sorry, but due to time constraints, Mr. Griffith is not available for this interview,” unquote.
One question many climate activists have is about Wells Griffith’s qualifications to advise President Trump on climate and energy issues. In March, the publication E&E reported, quote, “Griffith’s time at his dad’s gas station is about all the energy experience he had until this past year, when he landed a top political job at the Energy Department after working on the Trump campaign,” unquote. In 2013, Griffith filmed a campaign ad at his father’s Shell station in Mobile, Alabama, in his failed attempt to run for Congress.
WELLS GRIFFITH: My parents taught me to look to the Bible and the Constitution for wisdom and guidance in life. But this document, Obamacare, this is why I’m running for Congress, because we won’t get back to creating jobs until these thousands of pages of economic disruption are relegated to the trash pile of history.
AMY GOODMAN: Wells Griffith did not win his campaign for Congress, but he has become a top energy adviser to President Trump. When we come back, we’ll talk about what the United States is doing behind the scenes here, with a top climate activist. Stay with us.
The post Trump’s Energy Adviser Runs Away at UN Climate Talks appeared first on Truthout.
'Gas is Not a Solution to Climate Change’: Activists Interrupt Fossil Fuel Lobby Group Event at UN Climate Talks
Activists interrupted a keynote address by a gas industry lobbyist to demand the European Union do more to prove itself as a climate leader, and stem the flow of gas across the continent.
Around 30 activists conducted a “symbolic walk out” during a talk by Marco Alvera, president of lobby group GasNaturally. The campaigners rose from their seats as Alvera declared that the industry “fully supports the Paris Agreement” and said there was an opportunity for the gas industry to “capitalise” as other fossil fuels are phased out.Tags: COP24
'I will contest it': UK PM May to face vote of confidence in leadership over Brexit deal | 12 Dec 2018 | Embattled British Prime Minister Theresa May will face a vote of confidence in her leadership of the Conservative Party on Wednesday after the necessary threshold to potentially oust her was reached by party's 1922 Committee. The move follows a week of chaos and speculation after May's proposed Brexit deal was openly derided in the House of Commons. "In accordance with the rules, a ballot will be held between 18:00 and 20:00 on Wednesday 12th December in committee room 14 of the House of Commons," Graham Brady, the Chairman of the backbench 1922 Committee said.
Michael Cohen sentenced to 3 years in prison | 12 Dec 2018 | (Updates) Michael Cohen must pay more than $1 million in restitution. In addition to the three-year prison sentence, Judge William Pauley imposed more than $1 million in restitution for Michael Cohen... Cohen's sentencing is over, and he's been ordered to surrender on March 6. The judge agreed to recommend Otisville Federal Correctional Facility, in Upstate New York, as the prison where Cohen will spend his time. It's less than a two hour drive from Manhattan.
As Canadian oil-by-rail numbers reach record new volumes (and expected to rise), Canada's Transportation Safety Board (TSB) announced recently that it would no longer list shipping the hazardous material by rail as a top safety concern.
Here's why that's bad news for the communities in both Canada and the U.S. where this influx of oil train traffic will pass.Tags: Bomb TrainsCanada tar sands oiloil by railRachel Notleyjustin trudeaualberta tar sands
Strasbourg gunman cried 'Allahu Akbar' during attack, has 27 convictions - prosecutor | 12 Dec 2018 | Strasbourg gunman, identified as a 29-year-old who has a criminal history, shouted "Allahu Akbar," according to public prosecutor. Four people have been detained on suspicion of having links to the suspect, who is on the run. Witnesses said that the suspect, previously identified as Cherif Chekat, was yelling "Allahu Akbar" (God is great) during the shooting rampage, Remy Heitz, the Paris prosecutor, told a press conference on Wednesday. "Considering the target, his way of operating, his profile and the testimonies of those who heard him yell 'Allahu Akbar', the anti-terrorist police have been called into action," Heitz explained.
Breaking: Federal Judge Sentences Former Trump Attorney Michael Cohen to 36 Months in Prison --Cohen is sentenced after pleading guilty to several charges | 12 Dec 2018 | Michael Cohen, President Trump's former personal attorney, was sentenced to three years in prison after pleading guilty to tax evasion, campaign finance violations and lying to Congress about a Trump real estate project in Russia. Before sentencing, Cohen also ripped into his former boss in federal court on Wednesday, telling a judge he felt it was his duty to cover up president's "dirty deeds." Cohen appeared before U.S. District Judge William Pauley III for sentencing after pleading guilty to campaign finance violations, tax evasion and lying to Congress... He was seen entering the Manhattan courthouse Wednesday accompanied by members of his family.