News

TFN #7: In ZAD We Trust

It's Goin Down - Fri, 04/20/2018 - 21:32

The post TFN #7: In ZAD We Trust appeared first on It's Going Down.

Long running anarchist media project SubMedia.Tv offers up this weeks episode of The Fuckin News.

In this week’s TFN, France’s off-brand Napoleon, Emmanuel Macron, meets his Battle of Waterloo in La ZAD, or Zone to Defend, in Notre Dames Des Landes. Meanwhile, in Hamilton so-called “Ontario”, the pigs launch a SWAT raid against a local anarchist collective house in an attempt to save face after last month’s “Locke Street Riot”.

For more information on how to help comrades in Hamilton:

https://hamiltonanarchistsupport.noblogs.org/

https://fundraising.the-tower.ca

Categories: News

Lockdown Actions Continue to Stop Construction of Bayou Bridge Pipeline

It's Goin Down - Fri, 04/20/2018 - 21:24

The post Lockdown Actions Continue to Stop Construction of Bayou Bridge Pipeline appeared first on It's Going Down.

Lockdown in Louisiana against the Bayou Bridge pipeline stops construction yet again.

MAURICE, LA – On the morning of April 18th a water protector locked herself into a cement filled barrel placed in the trench of a horizontal directional drill on a construction site of the Bayou Bridge Pipeline. Over a dozen more water protectors from L’eau est La Vie resistance camp rallied alongside her blasting loud music and dancing under banners strung from the drill and excavators that stated “Water is Critical Infrastructure. Stop HB727” and “Stop ETP”. The group was soon detained and ID’ed but were eventually let go and allowed to move to a public road nearby where they continued to shout words of support to their locked down comrade. Dozens of workers stood by in their cars and watched for hours while police worked on unlocking the water protector and getting the barrel out of the ground.

The group took action to draw attention to the 700+ waterways including the Atchafalaya Basin and much of Louisiana’s only remaining natural crawfisheries that will will be impacted by the pipeline. The group also acted to address the frightening spill records and hazardous impact Energy Transfer Partners has had on small communities and the environment.

According to the newest report (http://bit.ly/2IX9KGk), “From 2002 to the end of 2017, ETP, Sunoco and their subsidiaries and joint ventures reported 527 hazardous liquids pipeline incidents to federal regulators — approximately one incident from existing facilities every eleven days. Those incidents,orted by the Pipeline Hazardous Material Safety Administration (PHMSA), released a total of 87,273 barrels (3.6 million gallons, or about five-and-a-half Olympic-sized swimming pools) of hazardous liquids, including 66,515 barrels (2.8 million gallons) of crude oil.”

The locked down water protector stated, “ETP shouldn’t be allowed to tear up our wetlands, especially when their record of spills consistent and spans over decades. People living in so-called Louisiana deserve better and it is time to put our bodies on the line. The HB727 bill is meant to scare us from protecting what is sacred. This is a peaceful protest against a violent company. We have to stop ETP.”

Please support this action and our resistance:

DONATE to the legal fund: bit.ly/nobbp
APPLY to join us at Camp: NoBBP.org
Find a solidarity target and TAKE ACTION: www.NoBayouBridge.global

Together we can #StopETP

#NoBayouBridge #WaterIsLife

Categories: News

With Oil by Rail Poised for Comeback, Will Lack of Safety Regulations Mean 'Bomb Trains' Return too?

deSmog - Fri, 04/20/2018 - 17:08
Gogama oil derailment and fire

Investors love a good comeback story and right now oil by rail seems to be a story they're pushing to justify investment in rail companies, especially Canadian ones.

But with little change in safety practices or regulations since the 2014 oil-by-rail boom, is the industry setting itself up to once again earn the nickname that rail workers gave oil trains — that is, will “bomb trains” make a comeback?

Tags: Bomb Trainstar sands oiloil by railCanadian Pacific RailwayTrump Administration
Categories: News

Enquiring Into Possible Causes for the Scarcity of Worker Co-ops in the US

Grassroots Economic Survival - Fri, 04/20/2018 - 17:04
Link: THE SCARCITY OF WORKER COOPERATIVES IN THE USA: ENQUIRING INTO POSSIBLE CAUSES

 

Last year, the Community and Worker Ownership Project and John Mollenkopf at the Center for Urban Research at the CUNY Graduate Center were pleased to host Professor Sofia Arana Landin for research on cooperative economics in New York City. Her work was extensive in building foundational thought for a comparative study of cooperative enterprises’ success and challenges in the US as compared to other countries, especially in the European Union.

Professor Arana teaches taxation law and cooperatives at the public university in San Sebastian, Spain. Arriving to the states shortly after the inauguration of the 45th president for this research, the juxtaposition of opportunities and constraints was almost too much to bear. Nevertheless, she persisted.

Cooperative businesses, being a hybrid of “for profit” and “social” purposes, have a mission broader than that of a traditional business. She identifies how rules, regulation and policies can support the advance of this model to serve the health of a business, the betterment of its employees, and the well being of communities, all towards the development of a “Social Economy.” The resilience of cooperative businesses is a feature that makes them a strategic building block in these hard economic times and particularly for those from disenfranchised communities.

Read the rest at the Murphy Institute Blog

 

Go to the GEO front page

Categories: News

Copyright vs. Copyleft

Grassroots Economic Survival - Fri, 04/20/2018 - 16:58
Link: COPYFARLEFT AND COPYJUSTRIGHT

Challenges to traditional copyright resulting from peer-to-peer applications, free software, filesharing and appropriation art have caused a wide ranging debate on the future of copyright. Dmytri Kleiner brings existing critiques of material property from the left to bear upon the realm of copyleft artistic production and asks how, within the existing copyright regime, can artists earn a living?

In the area of software development copyleft has proved to be a tremendously effective means of creating an information commons which broadly benefits all those whose production depends on it. However, many artists, musicians, writers, film-makers and other information producers remain sceptical that a copyleft based system where anyone is free to reproduce their work, can earn them a living.

Copyleft licenses guarantee intellectual property freedom by requiring that reuse and redistribution of information be governed by ‘the four freedoms,’ the freedom to use, study, modify and redistribute.

However, property is the enemy of freedom. It is property, the ability to control productive assets at a distance, the ability to ‘own’ something being put to productive use by another person that makes possible the subjugation of individuals and communities. Where property is sovereign, the owners of scarce property can deny life by denying access to property, or if not outright deny life, then make the living work like slaves for no pay beyond their reproduction costs.

Read the rest at Mute

 

Go to the GEO front page

Categories: News

Another Family Farm Launches a Tree Sit in the Path of the Mountain Valley Pipeline

It's Goin Down - Fri, 04/20/2018 - 06:31

The post Another Family Farm Launches a Tree Sit in the Path of the Mountain Valley Pipeline appeared first on It's Going Down.

The ongoing campaign against the Mountain Valley Pipeline announced that now “three tree stands at the crossing of Little Creek and Teel Creek,” have been launched.” Stating that they “are fighting to protect the family farms that the MVP threatens.”

In the farmlands of Franklin County, a new stand against the Mountain Valley Pipeline has begun. Three tree sits loom directly in the path of the pipeline’s destruction, making it impossible to clear the way without severely injuring the inhabitants of those trees. The sits tower over 75 feet off the ground of a small family farm’s livestock pasture, overlooking Little and Teel creeks, home to the endangered Roanoke Log Perch.

The tree sits build upon two other blockades to construction – a stand one hundred miles West, on Peters Mountain, and twenty miles West, in Bent Mountain, VA. One tree sitter stated, “The other tree sits show us that there are still effective ways to interrupt the violence of this proposed pipeline. We are celebrating their spirit of resistance in the mountains and bringing it down to the farmlands, where so much remains at stake. The fire truly is catching.” Local farmers Ian and Carolyn Reilly have been fighting the pipeline for their family’s future and to protect the soil and water. Using restorative practices, the Reilly’s are stewards of the earth. Ian Reilly said, “Launching Little Teel Crossing is an act of protection for our family’s home, land and water. This farm has been free from chemicals for decades. As farmers seeking to renew the land, we intend to keep it that way.”

MVP’s 125-foot limits of destruction cuts through several family farms in Franklin County—places where local beef, honey, poultry, and produce are cultivated. According to the Roanoke Times, Precision Pipeline, the company contracted to construct the MVP, has a history of environmental violations and lawsuits for construction of several other pipelines.

“There are too many ways this pipeline would destroy the ecosystem that preserves peoples’ livelihood here. The pipeline will not just jeopardize Virginia’s way of life, but also the food systems that so many lives depend on,” stated Carolyn Reilly. She continued, “For what? To fill the pockets of these fossil fuel fiends and corporate elites. We won’t let that happen here.” The first stage of construction began with tree clearing in Franklin County in late March. Today, MVP security personnel taped to the trees a notice of violation of Judge Dillon’s Federal Court Order stating tree sitters “should vacate the property immediately.” The occupants of the trees at Little Teel Crossing are self-described as “young Virginians,” and are prepared to remain as long as this pipeline threatens family farms, land, and water.

Ian Reilly shared, “This is about taking a stand. This is about choosing for ourselves when the fight is over. MVP thought we would just resign when pipeline tree clearing began. But the fight has just begun and we still believe we can stop this destructive project. We will win.”

Please consider donating to support the Reilly family and the pipeline fighters resisting the Mountain Valley Pipeline at http://bit.ly/Donate2LTC

Categories: News

Inspector general says fired FBI head McCabe should be prosecuted

Citizens for Legitimate Government - Fri, 04/20/2018 - 06:29

Inspector general says fired FBI head McCabe should be prosecuted | 19 April 2018 | The Justice Department's inspector general referred its finding that ex-FBI Deputy Director Andrew McCabe repeatedly misled investigators who were scrutinizing leaks to the media to the US Attorney's Office in Washington, arguing that he should be prosecuted, multiple reports said Thursday. The criminal referral was made after the inspector general determined that McCabe lied to investigators or then-FBI Director James Comey four times, three of them while under oath, the Washington Post reported.

Categories: News

The ZAD is Everywhere! Report from the SF Solidarity Demo

It's Goin Down - Fri, 04/20/2018 - 06:21

The post The ZAD is Everywhere! Report from the SF Solidarity Demo appeared first on It's Going Down.

The following report and video from San Francisco details a recent solidarity event with La ZAD, or Zone to Defend. To listen to our recent podcast on ongoing resistance there, go here.

On April 18th, some two weeks after the French state declared war on the ZAD, a ragtag band of radicals, revolutionaries, and all-around malfaiteurs paid a visit to the house of the French Consul General of San Francisco as an act of solidarity with our comrades defending the lives they’ve built outside of the control of the state and the economy.

Our demands were simple and to the point:

  1. An immediate and permanent withdrawal of all gendarmes and state agents from the ZAD, and an end to their attacks on its occupants and the destruction of their structures.
  2. Disband the police. You may leave their tanks, they will have more joyful futures as sewage processing units.
  3. Cede all territories of the state of France to the communes of the ZAD, for the eventual creation of an ever-expanding and limitless ZAD. From the ZAD to Mars!

We planted a nine-foot, wooden watch tower – a micro-ZAD – in the front yard as a reminder that the ZAD truly is everywhere.

https://itsgoingdown.org/wp-content/uploads/2018/04/ZAD-Partout_Friends.mp4

Just as the sands of the Sahara are swept by the winds to fertilize the rainforests of South America, or the sparks of wildfires spread to clear the way for new life, the spirit of the autonomy of the ZAD flows to disparate corners of the earth, striking chords of rebellion, joy, and life.

We aim not only to show our solidarity with those fighting the gendarmes on the bocage of Notre-Dame-des-Landes, but to speak to everyone who feels some part of their being tied to the existence of autonomous zones, wherever they are. Pressure the arms of the French state—show them they cannot escape the spirit of the ZAD—while building zones of experimental autonomy wherever you can. Carve out territories that escape the flows of the economy, where shared ways of living can flourish. This is war, and victory lies in the depth and breadth of the ties we create with each other and the world.

“‘I revolt, therefore I ramify.’ This is how we should speak to the stake that raises our rebellion.”

Categories: News

Giuliani joins Trump legal team

Citizens for Legitimate Government - Fri, 04/20/2018 - 05:55

Giuliani joins Trump legal team | 19 April 2018 | Former New York City Mayor Rudolph Giuliani is joining the legal team representing President Trump in the Russia investigation. Jay Sekulow, an attorney on Trump’s team, confirmed the hire and said Giuliani would be accompanied by former federal prosecutors Jane Serene Raskin and Marty Raskin. The moves bolster Trump’s legal team, which has been shorthanded since the departure of lead attorney John Dowd last month.

Categories: News

The Bayer-Monsanto Merger Is Bad News for the Planet

Truth Out - Fri, 04/20/2018 - 04:00
  Joe Brusky) (Photo: Joe Brusky) The current political climate is hostile to real accountability. Help us keep lawmakers and corporations in check -- support the independent journalism at Truthout today!

Two new studies from Europe have found that the number of farm birds in France has crashed by a third in just 15 years, with some species being almost eradicated. The collapse in the bird population mirrors the discovery last October that over three quarters of all flying insects in Germany have vanished in just three decades. Insects are the staple food source of birds, the pollinators of fruits, and the aerators of the soil.

The chief suspect in this mass extinction is the aggressive use of neonicotinoid pesticides, particularly imidacloprid and clothianidin, both made by German-based chemical giant Bayer. These pesticides, along with toxic glyphosate herbicides (Roundup), have delivered a one-two punch against Monarch butterflies, honeybees and birds. But rather than banning these toxic chemicals, on March 21st the EU approved the $66 billion merger of Bayer and Monsanto, the US agribusiness giant producing Roundup and the genetically modified (GMO) seeds that have reduced seed diversity globally. The merger will make the Bayer-Monsanto conglomerate the largest seed and pesticide company in the world, giving it enormous power to control farm practices, putting private profits over the public interest.

As Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D.-Mass.) noted in a speech in December before the Open Markets Institute, massive companies are merging into huge market-dominating entities that invest a share of their profits in lobbying and financing political campaigns, shaping the political system to their own ends. She called on the Trump administration to veto the Bayer-Monsanto merger, which is still under antitrust scrutiny and has yet to be approved in the US.

A 2016 survey of Trump's voter base found that over half disapproved of the Monsanto/Bayer merger, fearing it would result in higher food prices and higher costs for farmers. Before 1990, there were 600 or more small independent seed businesses globally, many of them family owned. By 2009, only about 100 survived; and seed prices had more than doubled. But reining in these powerful conglomerates is more than just a question of economics. It may be a question of the survival of life on this planet.

While Bayer's neonicotinoid pesticides wipe out insects and birds, Monsanto's glyphosate has been linked to over 40 human diseasesincluding cancer. Its GMO seeds have been genetically modified to survive this toxic herbicide, but the plants absorb it into their tissues; and in the humans who eat them, glyphosate disrupts the endocrine system and the balance of gut bacteria, damages DNA and is a driver of cancerous mutations. Researchers summarizing a 2014 study of glyphosates in the Journal of Organic Systems linked them to the huge increase in chronic diseases in the United States, with the percentage of GMO corn and soy planted in the US showed highly significant correlations with hypertension, stroke, diabetes, obesity, lipoprotein metabolism disorder, Alzheimer's, Parkinson's, multiple sclerosis, hepatitis C, end stage renal disease, acute kidney failure, cancers of the thyroid, liver, bladder, pancreas, kidney and myeloid leukaemia. But regulators have turned a blind eye, captured by corporate lobbyists and a political agenda that has more to do with power and control them protecting the health of the people.

The Trump administration has already approved a merger between former rivals Dow and DuPont, and has signed off on the takeover of Swiss pesticide giant Syngenta by ChemChina. If Monsanto/Bayer gets approved as well, just three corporations will dominate the majority of the world's seed and pesticide markets, giving them enormous power to continue poisoning the planet at the expense of its living inhabitants.

The Shady History of Bayer and the Petrochemical Cartel

To understand the magnitude of this threat, it is necessary to delve into some history. This is not the first time Monsanto and Bayer have joined forces. In both world wars, they made explosives and poisonous gases using shared technologies that they sold to both sides. After World War II, they united as MOBAY (MonsantoBayer) and supplied the ingredients for Agent Orange in the Vietnam War.

In fact corporate mergers and cartels have played a central role in Bayer's history. In 1904, it joined with German giants BASF and AGFA to form the first chemical cartel. After World War I, Germany's entire chemical industry was merged to become I.G. Farben. By the beginning of World War II, I.G. Farben was the largest industrial corporation in Europe, the largest chemical company in the world, and part of the most gigantic and powerful cartel in all history.

A cartel is a grouping of companies bound by agreements designed to restrict competition and keep prices high. The dark history of the I.G. Farben cartel was detailed in a 1974 book titled World Without Cancer by G. Edward Griffin, who also wrote the best-selling Creature from Jekyll Island on the shady history of the Federal Reserve. Griffin quoted from a book titled Treason's Peace by Howard Ambruster, an American chemical engineer who had studied the close relations between the German chemical trust and certain American corporations. Ambruster warned:

Farben is no mere industrial enterprise conducted by Germans for the extraction of profits at home and abroad. Rather, it is and must be recognized as a cabalistic organization which, through foreign subsidiaries and secret tie-ups, operates a far-flung and highly efficient espionage machine -- the ultimate purpose being world conquest ... and a world superstate directed by Farben.

The I.G. Farben cartel arose out of the international oil industry.  Coal tar or crude oil is the source material for most commercial chemical products, including those used in drugs and explosives.  I.G. Farben established cartel agreements with hundreds of American companies. They had little choice but to capitulate after the Rockefeller empire, represented by Standard Oil of New Jersey, had done so, since they could not hope to compete with the Rockefeller/I.G. combination.

The Rockefeller group's greatest influence was exerted through international finance and investment banking, putting them in control of a wide spectrum of industry. Their influence was particularly heavy in pharmaceuticals.  The directors of the American I.G. Chemical Company included Paul M. Warburg, brother of a director of the parent company in Germany and a chief architect of the Federal Reserve System.

The I.G. Farben cartel was technically disbanded at the Nuremberg War Trials following World War II, but in fact it merely split into three new companies -- Bayer, Hoescht and BASF -- which remain pharmaceutical giants today. In order to conceal its checkered history, Bayer orchestrated a merger with Monsanto in 1954, giving rise to the MOBAY Corporation. In 1964, the US Justice Department filed an antitrust lawsuit against MOBAY and insisted that it be broken up, but the companies continued to work together unofficially.

In Seeds of Destruction: The Hidden Agenda of Genetic Manipulation (2007), William Engdahl states that global food control and depopulation became US strategic policy under Rockefeller protégé Henry Kissinger, who was Secretary of State in the 1970s. Along with oil geopolitics, these policies were to be the new "solution" to the threats to US global power and continued US access to cheap raw materials from the developing world. "Control oil and you control nations," Kissinger notoriously declared. "Control food and you control the people."

Global food control has nearly been achieved, by reducing seed diversity and establishing proprietary control with GMO seeds distributed by only a few transnational corporations led by Monsanto; and by a massive taxpayer-subsidized propaganda campaign in support of GMO seeds and neurotoxic pesticides. A de facto cartel of giant chemical, drug, oil, banking and insurance companies connected by interlocking directorates reaps the profits at both ends, by waging a very lucrative pharmaceutical assault on the diseases created by their toxic agricultural chemicals.

Going Organic: The Russian Approach

In the end, the Green Revolution engineered by Henry Kissinger to control markets and ensure US economic dominance may be our nemesis. While the US struggles to maintain its hegemony by economic coercion and military force, Russia is winning the battle for the health of the people and the environment. Vladimir Putin has banned GMOs and has set out to make Russia the world's leading supplier of organic food.

Russian families are showing what can be done with permaculture methods on simple garden plots. In 2011, 40% of Russia's food was grown on dachasdachas (cottage gardens or allotments), predominantly organically. Dacha gardens produced over 80% of the country's fruit and berries, over 66% of the vegetables, almost 80% of the potatoes and nearly 50% of the nation's milk, much of it consumed raw. Russian author Vladimir Megre comments:

Essentially, what Russian gardeners do is demonstrate that gardeners can feed the world – and you do not need any GMOs, industrial farms, or any other technological gimmicks to guarantee everybody's got enough food to eat. Bear in mind that Russia only has 110 days of growing season per year -- so in the US, for example, gardeners' output could be substantially greater. Today, however, the area taken up by lawns in the US is two times greater than that of Russia's gardens -- and it produces nothing but a multi-billion-dollar lawn care industry.

In the US, only about 0.6 percent of the total agricultural area is devoted to organic farming. Most farmland is soaked in pesticides and herbicides. But the need for these toxic chemicals is a myth. In an October 2017 article in The Guardian, columnist George Monbiot cited studies showing that reducing the use of neonicotinoid pesticides actually increases production, because the pesticides harm or kill the pollinators on which crops depend. Rather than an international trade agreement that would enable giant transnational corporations to dictate to governments, he argues that we need a global treaty to regulate pesticides and require environmental impact assessments for farming. He writes:

Farmers and governments have been comprehensively conned by the global pesticide industry. It has ensured its products should not be properly regulated or even, in real-world conditions, properly assessed.... The profits of these companies depend on ecocide. Do we allow them to hold the world to ransom, or do we acknowledge that the survival of the living world is more important than returns to their shareholders?

President Trump has boasted of winning awards for environmental protection. If he is serious about protecting the environment, he needs to block the merger of Bayer and Monsanto, two agribusiness giants bent on destroying the ecosystem for private profit.

Categories: News

Corporate Crime

Truth Out - Fri, 04/20/2018 - 04:00
Categories: News

Dilma Rousseff: Lula's Imprisonment Is Part of a Coup Corroding Brazil's Democratic Institutions

Truth Out - Fri, 04/20/2018 - 04:00

Protests are continuing in Brazil over the imprisonment of former President Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva. Two weeks ago, Lula began serving a 12-year prison sentence for a highly controversial corruption conviction. Lula had been the front-runner in this year's presidential election. His supporters say his jailing is a continuation of a coup that began in 2016, when his close ally, Dilma Rousseff, was impeached as president. Both Lula and Rousseff are members of the left-leaning Workers' Party, which has been credited with lifting tens of millions of Brazilians out of poverty since Lula was first elected in 2003. Last month, Lula spoke on Democracy Now! in one of his final TV interviews before being jailed. Earlier this week, Lula was dealt another setback when Brazil's Fourth Federal Regional Court denied Lula's latest appeal. Meanwhile, hundreds of Lula supporters have set up an encampment outside the prison where Lula is being held in the the southern city of Curitiba. We speak to former Brazilian President Dilma Rousseff. Her impeachment in 2016 ended nearly 14 years of rule by the Workers' Party. Rousseff is a former political prisoner who took part in the underground resistance to the US-backed Brazilian dictatorship in the 1960s. She was jailed from 1970 to 1972, during which time she was repeatedly tortured. She was elected president in 2010 and re-elected in 2014.

TRANSCRIPT

AMY GOODMAN: Protests are continuing in Brazil over the imprisonment of former President Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva. Two weeks ago, Lula began serving a 12-year prison sentence for a highly controversial corruption conviction. Lula is the front-runner in this year's presidential election. His supporters say his jailing is a continuation of a coup that began in 2016 when his close ally, Dilma Rousseff, was impeached as president. Both Lula and Rousseff are members of the left-leaning Workers' Party, which has been credited with lifting tens of millions of Brazilians out of poverty since Lula was first elected in 2003.

Last month, Lula spoke on Democracy Now! in one of his final TV interviews before being jailed.

LUIZ INÁCIO LULA DA SILVA: [translated] We are awaiting the accusers, for the accusers to show at least some piece of evidence that indicates that I committed any crime during the period that I was in the presidency. Now, what is behind that is the attempt to criminalize my political party. What is behind that is the interest in a part of the political elite of Brazil, together with a part of the press, reinforced by the role of the judiciary, in preventing Lula from becoming a candidate in the 2018 elections.

AMY GOODMAN: You can go to democracynow.org to see the full hour with Lula.

Earlier this week, he was dealt another setback, when Brazil's Fourth Federal Regional Court denied his latest appeal. Meanwhile, hundreds of Lula supporters have set up an encampment outside the prison where he's being held in the southern city of Curitiba. On Thursday, the Argentine Nobel Peace Prize winner Adolfo Pérez Esquivel traveled to the prison but was blocked from visiting Lula. Esquivel recently announced he would nominate Lula for the Nobel Peace Prize for his role in fighting poverty and economic inequality in Brazil. Esquivel spoke to supporters of Lula outside the prison.

ADOLFO PÉREZ ESQUIVEL: [translated] I think that today Brazil is in a state of exception. There was a coup d'état against President Dilma Rousseff, and now there's the entire campaign against President Lula. So we have to think: What type of democracy do we have, not only here in Brazil, but in all of Latin America? And we have to continue developing an international campaign until Lula recovers his freedom. Free Lula!

AMY GOODMAN: The Nobel Peace Prize winner Esquivel was speaking outside the Curitiba prison. Meanwhile, about a hundred members of the Homeless Workers' Movement and the People Without Fear briefly occupied the vacant beach apartment which is at the center of the Lula case. Lula was accused of receiving the apartment as a bribe, even though no documents have emerged actually linking the former president, Lula, to the apartment, which he never lived in. The protesters hung a banner reading, "If it's Lula's, then the people can stay here. If it isn't, why is he in jail?"

Well, earlier this week, I had a chance to interview former Brazilian President Dilma Rousseff. Her impeachment in 2016 ended nearly 14 years of rule by the Workers' Party. Rousseff is a former political prisoner who took part in the underground resistance to the US-backed Brazilian dictatorship in the 1960s. She was jailed and tortured from 1970 to 1972. She was elected president in 2010 and re-elected in 2014. I spoke to her while she was on a speaking tour in Berkeley, California. I began by asking her why she had come to the United States and about the political crisis in Brazil.

DILMA ROUSSEFF: [translated] It's a pleasure to be speaking with you on Democracy Now! once again. I'd like to say that the purpose of my trip to the United States and to Spain is to clarify and raise awareness, among people who live outside Brazil and everybody, that Brazil is suffering a new sort of coup d'état. This began with me in 2016, when I suffered an impeachment without having committed any high crime or misdemeanor. The truth be told, I find myself in a situation, and Brazil finds itself in a situation, in which there is a sort of legal protection, a legal cover, that is hiding acts of corruption, acts of corruption by all others. And it produces indictments against members of the Workers' Party and against President Lula. I suffered an impeachment. That impeachment was the opening act of the coup. I was impeached without committing any crime.

From there, the process has become much more radical. An agenda was adopted that was not approved in the elections, an agenda that is about curtailing the rights of the poorest and of workers, to destroy social policies [that] guaranteed that 36 million would be lifted out of poverty, that took Brazil off of the map of hunger of the U.N. So many gains that we saw in the last decade.

And what has happened? The coup mongers today do not have any political expression. They were condemned by the population. And so they don't have a relevant situation for the upcoming elections in 2018. What they have done, actually, is to open up a Pandora's box, a box of the monsters. And they took out of this box the extreme right, which today is represented by president candidate Captain Jair Bolsonaro, who on the day that my impeachment was voted on in the Lower House, he voted in favor of torture and a military dictatorship.

So what is the situation in Brazil? There is a strengthened far right, and the center right, in going along with the coup, has dissolved itself and has a minimal political expression today. They were our greatest adversaries in the last four presidential elections. Today, they're no longer politically significant, because not only did they help carry out the coup, but they were also discovered to be involved in situations of corruption. The Workers' Party and President Lula were to be destroyed. But they weren't. President Lula, from the beginning of last year, in every opinion poll, has twice as many votes as the candidate Captain Jair Bolsonaro. Lula has more than 30 percent, and Bolsonaro has less than 16 percent support. And there is not a center. The center gets 5 percent, 4 percent, sometimes 6 percent, of the support in the polls.

So why have they convicted Lula? The political reason is because if a coup d'état is carried out, if a president who is legitimately elected is removed, if a set of illegalities are carried out, including the coup, one cannot not allow the election of Lula to be closed off. So what do they do? They removed Lula from the presidential campaign, accusing Lula, falsely, of having committed a crime of corruption.

What is the crime of which they accuse Lula? They accuse Lula of committing a crime of passive corruption, which entails a 280-square-meter apartment or a home with three floors. They say that he committed a crime in order to receive that house. Now, Lula is not the owner of that house. He does not have possession of the house. He doesn't use the house. He has never been in that house.

So what we are seeing in Brazil is lawfare. The law is being used to destroy the citizen status of one's enemy. The enemy in this case is President Lula. That means that they're using the law and legal procedures to wage a political struggle and to engage in political persecution. In a way, it's very similar to what was done against me, because in the process of my impeachment, they said, "But we are following through on every single legal procedure," yet the accusations were unfounded. They accused me of engaging in acts that every president before me has carried out. They were not crimes when the other presidents engaged in such acts. And they weren't crimes when I took such action. They were provided for by the law.

Many have asked us, "Why don't you choose another candidate, since the polls show that a person supported by the Workers' Party and supported by Lula would be well positioned to run in the election?" Our answer is: because accepting this is accepting that Lula is guilty. And for us, it is more than proven that he is innocent. So, accepting that is accepting political persecution, and it would make it official.

They have taken Lula prisoner for two reasons. First, to make the argument that he can't be a candidate. But also for a very strong reason. That is, not to let him speak. And that is clear, in the very argument of the measure that requires that he begin serving the sentence immediately, because Lula today is in a situation in which he is being isolated. He is in a situation of solitary confinement.

I was a political prisoner during the military dictatorship that followed the military coup. At that time, no doubt, the situation was one of open violence. People were taken prisoner. They were killed. They were tortured. All rights were violated -- the right to freedom of expression, the right to freedom of the press, the right to organize. All of these rights were done away with.

In our current situation -- and this is typical of Latin America -- you have a coup that is not a military coup. It doesn't destroy the rights of everyone. It corrodes the institutions from within, as if it was a sort of parasite corroding democratic institutions. So, in this case, what are they doing with Lula? Lula can't speak. But we can speak for him. Brazil's democracy is being mitigated. It's being diminished.

What is our role, and why am I traveling, and why am I here in Berkeley? I went to Catalonia. I went to Madrid. I was already in the East Coast and some US universities. I have been in France and Germany. Why? Because we have to draw on all possible means to not allow this way of wounding democracy, which in our case is a fragile democracy. We emerged from the dictatorship in the 1980s, and Lula is an example of this phenomenon. Because they don't want Lula to speak. They want Lula to be isolated from the whole world at this time, because they see him as a representation of everything that turned back the coup in Brazil. Like any coup process, it cannot be sustained if it doesn't become radicalized, if it doesn't become deepened.

And so, it's a very risky situation for Brazil's democracy. Indeed, it goes to the very cornerstone of democracy, which is to say that the justice system must not be politicized. The justice system has to be absolutely neutral. And it has to enforce the law, not as a political instrument, but as an instrument for the truth expressed in the constitution.

AMY GOODMAN: Former Brazilian President Dilma Rousseff. She's now running for the Brazilian Senate. When we return, we'll speak with her about the rise of the far right in Brazil and the assassination of human rights activist Rio City Councilmember Marielle Franco. Stay with us.

[break]

AMY GOODMAN: "Nothing Compares 2 U" by Prince, a studio recording from 1984, released for the first time this week. The song was made famous when Sinéad O'Connor covered it in 1990.

Categories: News

Earth Day 2018: Ending Plastic Pollution in the Oceans, Land and Our Bodies

Truth Out - Fri, 04/20/2018 - 04:00

This Sunday more than a billion people will celebrate Earth Day. This year's theme: ending plastic pollution by Earth Day 2020. Of the nearly 300 million tons of plastic sold each year, about 90 percent ends up in landfills, in the oceans -- and in our bodies. Part of the focus will be microplastics, those small bits of plastic that are seemingly everywhere. We speak to Marcus Eriksen of the 5 Gyres Institute, who has led 20 expeditions around the world to research plastic marine pollution, and Priscilla Villa of the #BreakFreeFromPlastics movement.

TRANSCRIPT

AMY GOODMAN: This Sunday more than a billion people will celebrate Earth Day. This year's theme: ending plastic pollution by Earth Day 2020. Of the nearly 300 million tons of plastic sold each year, about 90 percent ends up in landfills, in the oceans -- and in our bodies.

Well, our next guest is considered a leading expert on microplastics, those small bits of plastic that are seemingly everywhere. Marcus Eriksen has led 20 expeditions around the world to research plastic marine pollution. In 2008, he embarked on an 88-day journey from California to Hawaii on a raft built from 15,000 plastic bottles and recycled junk. Dr. Eriksen documented the journey in his book Junk Raft: An Ocean Voyage and a Rising Tide of Activism to Fight Plastic Pollution and on video.

MARCUS ERIKSEN: What you see here is a bunch of zooplankton and plastic. It's the same-size pieces we find inside the stomachs of these fish, the lanternfish, the myctophids. Now, you're here in the middle of nowhere, and you still find this trash. The human footprint is everywhere, everywhere you go. On top of mountains, the bottom of the ocean, evidence of us.

AMY GOODMAN: Five years earlier, Dr. Eriksen had rafted the Mississippi River and wrote about his experience as a marine in the 1991 Gulf War in the book My River Home. Eriksen's work on discovering plastic microbeads in the Great Lakes led to the federal Microbead-Free Waters Act of 2015.

Well, Marcus Eriksen joins us now from Los Angeles. Welcome to Democracy Now!As we lead into Earth Day, first explain what microplastics are. Lay out the challenge to the world.

MARCUS ERIKSEN: So, microplastics are small, broken-down fragments from larger items. Those are your secondary microplastics, formed by things falling apart. For example, in the oceans, we often find bottles. Here's one bottle. You can see the edge is all bitten off. So, animals are tearing larger plastics into smaller bits. The sun breaks them down, makes them brittle. Waves then crush it. So what we're finding is, a lot of the trash that leaves their land, out to sea via our rivers, are beginning to form bigger items into smaller items that microplastic forms near shore. By the time I get to the middle of the ocean, I'm hardly finding any big items -- a few fishing buoys in nets -- but a smog a small particles everywhere.

AMY GOODMAN: So, explain these microplastic beads everywhere.

MARCUS ERIKSEN: Well, the microbeads, that was a primary microplastic. They were designed to be small. And those are the ones that we saw in our facial scrubs and toothpaste. But Obama signed the Microbead-Free Waters Act in 2015. So, microbeads, we've been able to do away with, through some great campaigning. But the microplastics are just everything that breaks down into small particles. And we have found them in the middle of the oceans, all the five subtropical gyres, Antarctica, the Arctic. We have found them frozen in sea ice and the deep floor -- deep sea floor sediments. So the distribution has gone global of these small bits, like as big as a grain of rice or smaller. They're everywhere.

AMY GOODMAN: What is the impact of plastics on human beings, Marcus?

MARCUS ERIKSEN: On us, well, you can say it's twofold. One is the issue of plastics as waste, that contaminates other living things, including fish, that the world depends on. You know, I think one-sixth of the planet gets their protein from fish. And we're seeing this explosion, these clouds, this smog of microplastics, impacting the food chain. And the toxins that sticks to plastics are also polluting organisms in that food chain. But as a pre-consumer product, which you might grab off the shelf, we're still finding some synthetic chemistry in those, like bisphenol A and phthalates, that you don't want in your body or the bodies of your children. They're endocrine disruptors. They're carcinogenic. So there is the pre-consumer and the post-consumer impacts of throwaway plastics on human health.

AMY GOODMAN: I want to go to another clip from your documentary that you produced on the junk raft project.

MARCUS ERIKSEN: Two-fifths of the plastic made in the world come from the United States. There's a very huge corporate interest in maintaining production of plastics. This is what the ocean looks like 2,000 miles from the California coast. Now, this is roughly three football fields netted and consolidated into one jar. But keep in mind there are 9 million football fields of area in the North Pacific. And it all looks like this. So we can't mine this area with giant nets to clean this problem. The only fix is a cultural fix, by changing our use of plastics.

We decided, while we're at sea, to get the nation's attention by building a boat out of the same plastic trash we consume every day. So we built a boat out of 15,000 plastic bottles, old fishing nets to hold those bottles together, and 20 sailboat masts, an airplane wing to make a flat deck. We've had three high schools provide these bottles, help us make pontoons. It very quickly became a project much bigger than ourselves.

AMY GOODMAN: I mean, there are so many directions to go in, but let me ask you about the efforts to get rid of BPA in plastic bottles and microbeads in beauty products. How pervasive is this?

MARCUS ERIKSEN: Well, I would step back and talk about the process. So, Frederick vom Saal is a colleague of mine who's been studying BPA in mice all his life. And he was finding that, you know, the BPA was actually leaching out of the containers where he had the mice living in. So he found that BPA was there. It's all around us. In adding machine tape, when you get a receipt, if it's wet, you might see a white residue on your hands. That's BPA. The plastic lining in metal cans, the reason why your can of beans doesn't rust from the inside is a thin layer of BPA. And in many children's toys, you find phthalates.

And talking with Dr. vom Saal, his science work, it was such a challenge to get that into the hands of producers and say, "OK, your science says it's a problem. Let's stop." Instead, it was a long, drawn-out fight to get phthalates, BPA out of water bottles, out of children's toys. And the fight continues to get them out of other areas where BPA gives us some exposure. So I think, you know, that was a challenge.

With microbeads, the same thing. But I can tell you, the science work that I did on microbeads in the Great Lakes, with Sam Mason, a colleague of mine, that was just the start. There was a huge coalition, organized by many colleagues and different organizations that do advocacy work, working together with the same kind of -- with the same science foundation. The information was there. We had the -- we had the videos and the photography to share of animal impacts by microbeads. Then we had sample legislation, and we had some champions in the White House. And within, you know, a couple years after publication, this massive coalition brought the bill to Obama's desk, and he signed it. And again, it's this long, drawn-out fight for things that are obviously wrong and need to be fixed.

AMY GOODMAN: From Seattle to Malibu, cities have banned certain plastics. The U.K. and Kenya, for example, have announced plans to ban some plastics countrywide. Talk about the efforts around the country and the world, and states also circumventing cities, trying to prevent them from banning plastics.

MARCUS ERIKSEN: Well, you know, it's really -- it's fabulous to see there's this movement growing around the world, the Break Free from Plastics movement. It established about a couple years ago. We now have over 1,060 organizations that have come under this values statement about single-use plastics. And they have no place in society because of the negative externalities. When I say "single-use," I mean it's the plastic bags, the bottles, the cup lids, the straws, the little plastic stir sticks -- these things that you use once and then throw away, but using a material designed to last forever. That is creating mountains of waste around the world. And you're seeing communities sort of rise up and say, "We're done with this, this linear system of companies making stuff, selling it and washing their hands clean of any responsibility for the stuff where it resides." When I go from island to island, you know, around the world on our sailing voyages, you see these mountainous landfills, sometimes next to the sea, and islands saying, "We don't know what to do with all of this stuff."

Now, I can talk about one of the challenges here in the United States. It's a concept called preemption. So, without preemption, for example, in states like California and a few across the country, grassroots movements, in city by city, can say, "We don't want plastic bags. We don't want plastic straws. The pollution is too burdensome. And we, as taxpayers, are tired of paying for cleanup." So, communities and grassroots movements are working, and they're succeeding, town by town. What preemption does, it's been an industry-sponsored bill that goes from state to state and tells the states to tell their cities that "You can't do that anymore. Any decision to ban bags has to come from state-level policy." It makes it illegal for grassroots movements in small towns to ban these single-use, throwaway, polluting products.

AMY GOODMAN: I want to bring in another guest. You mentioned the Break Free from Plastics coalition. Let's go to Houston, the -- what some call the Petro Metro, the petrochemical capital of the United States. Texas alone produces nearly three-quarters of the country's supply of one of the basic chemical building blocks for making plastics -- ethylene, much of which is derived from oil extracted through fracking. So, we're joined by Priscilla Villa, the South Texas organizer for Earthworks. She recently helped host the first US meeting of the Break Free from Plastics movement, that seeks to raise awareness about the link between plastics in our water and oceans and pollution from oil and gas extraction and refining related to plastics.

Priscilla, welcome to Democracy Now! Talk about what you're doing and the whole cycle, from oil fracking to plastics.

PRISCILLA VILLA: Hi, good morning. Thank you so much for having me.

So, the meeting that we had in Houston was the first US-based Break Free from Plastics meeting that we hosted alongside with t.e.j.a.s. One of the main reasons that we had this meeting was so that organizations who are working across the life cycle of plastics could really get together and talk about how we can support our work along this life cycle of plastics.

So the work that Earthworks specifically does, we focus on extraction and the issues that go along with fracking. So, when you're talking about a fracked well and/or fracking for oil and gas, one of the byproducts is a natural gas liquid called ethane. In order to -- so, ethane, in and of itself, is not necessarily useful. It's been considered a waste product. But in order to make it something, to turn it into plastics, you first have to crack it. So there are all these facilities along the Gulf and Pennsylvania that are called crackers. And so, these facilities crack ethane into ethylene. And then, ethylene -- you have these ethylene pellets that then get exported out and eventually turn into plastics. And those are the main building blocks, as you said, of plastics.

AMY GOODMAN: And Texas aiming to be the plastics capital, or Houston, of the country?

PRISCILLA VILLA: Well, the oil and gas industry is investing around $86 billion in over 280 infrastructure -- 280 facilities that would be turning ethane or ethylene into plastics. And a lot of the build-out is really being focused in the Gulf South, so in Texas -- Portland, Texas, for example, where Exxon is proposing to build the world's largest cracker facility. There are folks out there who are opposing that particular facility. And there's even more build-out for Houston, for example.

And one of the big issues there is that, considering the impacts and everything that came along with Hurricane Harvey, it's a vulnerable place to be building this kind of infrastructure, because you had incidents like the explosion at the Arkema plant, for example, that put a lot of people at risk. And not to mention the ongoing emissions that come from a lot of these facilities in the Gulf also contribute to bad air quality and bad health. So, more of these facilities mean more people are put at risk. So when we talk about plastics and pollution, we also need to be talking about the pollution that is tied to the production piece, in the very first stage of plastics.

AMY GOODMAN: Well, we're going to have to leave it there now, but of course we'll continue to cover this. Again, Sunday is Earth Day, celebrated around the world. The theme now: end plastic pollution. Priscilla Villa, joining us from Houston, part of the Break Free from Plastics movement. And Marcus Eriksen, co-founder of 5 Gyres Institute.

That does it for our show. A fond farewell to Camille May Baker. We wish you the very best in what will clearly be a brilliant career.

Tonight, I'll be in Lincoln, Nebraska, at the Rococo Theatre, 8 p.m. Hope to see you there, celebrating KZUM's 40th anniversary. Saturday night, Democracy Now!'s Juan González will be speaking at Lehigh University in Bethlehem, Pennsylvania. And on Tuesday at noon, I'll be speaking in Teaneck, New Jersey, at the Puffin Cultural Forum. All welcome.

Democracy Now! accepting applications for our paid, year-long social media fellowship. Check out democracynow.org.

Categories: News

Will Congress Write the President a Blank Check for War?

Truth Out - Fri, 04/20/2018 - 04:00

 Erik McGregor / Pacific Press / LightRocket via Getty Images)Hundreds of antiwar and social justice activists took to the streets in New York City to oppose endless wars and demonstrate against the US bombing of Syria on Apri 15, 2018. (Photo: Erik McGregor / Pacific Press / LightRocket via Getty Images)

Under the guise of fulfilling its constitutional power to authorize military force, Congress is poised to consider legislation that would give the president a blank check to make war, with no limits, in at least six countries and against several groups.

 Erik McGregor / Pacific Press / LightRocket via Getty Images)Hundreds of antiwar and social justice activists took to the streets in New York City to oppose endless wars and demonstrate against the US bombing of Syria on Apri 15, 2018. (Photo: Erik McGregor / Pacific Press / LightRocket via Getty Images)

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This coming Monday, April 23, the Senate Foreign Relations Committee is set to review a bill that would virtually give President Donald J. Trump a blank check to wage war anywhere in the world any time he pleases.

The Constitution places the power to declare war exclusively in the hands of the Congress. However, for the past 75 years, Congress has allowed that power to drift toward the executive branch. 

The new bill, should it pass, would effectively make the transfer of the war power from Congress to the president complete. It is hard to imagine a worse time in American history for this to happen. 

Why Only Congress Has the Power to Declare War

The framers of the Constitution were well aware of the dangers of placing the power to declare war in the hands of the president. Delegates to the 1787 Constitutional Convention overwhelmingly rejected South Carolina delegate Pierce Butler's proposal that the president be given the power to start a war, according to James Madison's notes on the congressional debates. George Mason said he was "against giving the power of war to the executive" because the president "is not safely to be trusted with it.”

The framers of the Constitution therefore specified in Article I that only Congress has the power to declare war. Article II states, "The President shall be Commander in Chief of the Army and Navy of the United States, and of the Militia of the several States, when called into the actual Service of the United States." Those articles, taken together, mean the president commands the armed forces once Congress authorizes war.

To read more stories like this, visit Human Rights and Global Wrongs.

In spite of its exclusive constitutional power, Congress has not declared war since 1942. After that time, starting with President Truman, a series of US presidents committed American troops to hostilities around the world without waiting for Congress to act. Following the debacle in Vietnam, Congress enacted the War Powers Resolution in an effort to reclaim its constitutional authority to decide when and where the nation would go to war.

Congress has not declared war since 1942.

The War Powers Resolution allows the president to introduce US Armed Forces into hostilities or imminent hostilities only after Congress has declared war, or in "a national emergency created by attack upon the United States, its territories or possessions, or its armed forces," or when there is "specific statutory authorization," such as an Authorization for the Use of Military Force.

The 2001 and 2002 Authorizations for Use of Military Force

Congress enacted Authorizations for the Use of Military Force (AUMF) in 2001 and 2002, which were directed at al-Qaeda and Iraq, respectively. Although these authorizations were limited, George W. Bush, Barack Obama and Donald Trump have all used them to justify attacking or invading whatever country they wished.

In the 2001 AUMF, Congress authorized the president to use military force against individuals, groups and countries that were seen as having supported the 9/11 attacks. Congress rejected the Bush administration's request for open-ended military authority "to deter and preempt any future acts of terrorism or aggression against the United States." 

Nevertheless, the 2001 AUMF has been used to justify at least 37 military operations in 14 countries, according to the Congressional Research Service. Many of them were unrelated to the 9/11 attacks.

Bush utilized the 2001 AUMF to invade Afghanistan and initiate the longest war in US history, which continues unabated. Obama relied on that AUMF to lead a NATO force into Libya and forcibly change its regime, creating a vacuum that ISIS moved in to fill. Obama invoked the same AUMF to carry out targeted killings with drones and manned bombers, killing untold numbers of civilians. And Trump is relying on that AUMF as justification for his drone strikes, which have killed thousands of civilians. 

Rep. Barbara Lee (D-California), the only member of Congress to vote against the 2001 AUMF, was prescient. In July 2017, Lee said, "I knew then it would provide a blank check to wage war anywhere, anytime, for any length by any president." Lee told Democracy Now! in 2016 that she knew the 2001 AUMF "was setting the stage and the foundation for perpetual war. And that is exactly what it has done."

The 2001 AUMF has been used to justify at least 37 military operations in 14 countries.

Congress granted Bush the 2002 AUMF specifically to remove Saddam Hussein from power in Iraq. Once that was accomplished, that license ended. So, the 2002 AUMF does not provide an ongoing legal basis for US to engage in military action.

Senate Foreign Relations Committee member Ben Cardin (D-Maryland) stated at an October 2017 hearing that the 2001 and 2002 AUMFs have now become "mere authorities of convenience for presidents to conduct military activities anywhere in the world," adding, "They should not be used as the legal justification for military activities around the world."

At that 2017 hearing, Defense Secretary James Mattis and then-Secretary of State Rex Tillerson told the Senate Foreign Relations Committee that Trump had sufficient legal authority to kill people in any part of the world he desired. They cited the 2001 and 2002 AUMFs, as well as Article II of the Constitution. With an abundance of political caution, however, Mattis and Tillerson invited Congress to enact a new AUMF with no temporal or geographical limitations.

At his April 12 confirmation hearing, Mike Pompeo, Trump's nominee for Secretary of State, told Sen. Cory Booker that Trump had legal authority to bomb Syria without congressional approval. Pompeo testified, "I believe that he has the authority he needs to do that today. I don't believe we need a new AUMF for the president to engage in the activity you described."

The following day, the US, United Kingdom and France launched airstrikes in Syria. Like Trump's 2017 Syria bombing, they violated both US and international law. The Trump administration persists in its refusal to reveal the memo that purportedly explains its legal justification for the 2017 bombing of Syria.

Attempts in Congress to repeal and/or replace the 2001 and 2002 AUMFs have thus far been unsuccessful. But Mattis and Tillerson may now get their wish.

Authorization for the Use of Military Force of 2018

On April 16, 2018, a bipartisan group of senators introduced a new AUMF to replace the 2001 and 2002 AUMFs. Senate Foreign Relations Committee Chair Bob Corker (R-Tennessee) and Democratic committee member Tim Kaine (Virginia) sponsored the proposed legislation. Co-sponsors include Senators Jeff Flake (R-Arizona), Christopher Coons (D-Delaware), Todd Young (R-Indiana) and Bill Nelson (D-Florida).

The 2018 AUMF would authorize the president to use military force, with no limitations, in Iraq, Afghanistan, Syria, Yemen, Libya and Somalia. It would also allow the president to take military action against al-Qaeda, ISIS and the Taliban, as well as their "associated forces" in any geographical location.

The 2002 AUMF does not provide an ongoing legal basis for US to engage in military action.

If the president wants to add countries or groups to his hit list, he must report to Congress. However, he can withhold whatever information he says is classified, as Elizabeth Goitein, co-director of the Liberty & National Security Program at the NYU School of Law's Brennan Center for Justice, has noted.

And although the president cannot add nation-states to the list of countries he wants to attack, he could circumvent that limitation by claiming that terrorists are operating in a new country, or say a particular country is a state sponsor of terrorism, and he needs to use military force to fight terrorism.

The president must notify Congress within 48 hours of expanding his military operations into countries beyond the six listed in the AUMF or "new designated associated forces." If Congress doesn't object within 60 days, the president's expansion will stand. 

The new bill contains a presumption that the president can decide when and where to make war. The bill has no expiration date.

Alarmingly, the new bill contains a presumption that the president can decide when and where to make war. It would require affirmative action by two-thirds of both houses of Congress to prevent military action.

The bill has no expiration date. Every four years, the president would be required to send Congress a proposal to modify, repeal or maintain the authorization. But if Congress does not respond in 60 days, the AUMF would remain in force. Once again, it places the burden on Congress to take action. 

In light of Congress's failure to meaningfully object to presidential uses of military force, including most recently in Syria, a president should have no concern about congressional pushback. He could continue to make war with impunity, cashing the blank check Congress has provided him.

The proposed AUMF would violate the United Nations Charter. The charter requires that countries settle their disputes peacefully, and forbids the use of military force except when conducted in self-defense or with the blessing of the Security Council. The new AUMF would allow the president to attack or invade another country with no requirement that the attack or invasion be conducted in self-defense or with the council's permission. It would thus violate the charter.

What's Next? 

Corker has scheduled a committee hearing on the proposed legislation for Monday, April 23. But even if the bill passes out of committee, there is no guarantee it will get a hearing on the floor of the Senate or the House. Both Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell and Republican House Speaker Paul Ryan have shown little appetite for allowing discussion of a new AUMF.

The 2001 and 2002 AUMFs should be repealed, and Congress should not give the president a new one. As George Mason sagely said, a president "is not safely to be trusted" with the power of war.

Categories: News

Showing "Total Disregard for Indigenous Rights and Public Wishes," Trump Moves to Open Alaska Wildlife Refuge to Drilling

Truth Out - Fri, 04/20/2018 - 04:00
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Demonstrating a "total disregard for Indigenous rights and public wishes," the Trump administration on Friday moved to expedite oil and gas exploration in previously protected lands in Alaska.

The Interior Department published a notice in the Federal Register announcing a public comment period and plans to draft an environmental impact statement for creating a leasing program for the coastal plain of the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge (ANWR). The filing follows legislation to enable the program that was tacked on to the tax law Republicans forced through Congress last year.

In response, critics who have spent several months fighting the drilling efforts expressed worries about how drilling will impact the region's native people as well as ANWR's wildlife; condemned the aggressive timeline for making leases available to fossil fuel companies; and vowed to file lawsuits.

Denouncing the "reckless dash to expedite drilling," Defenders of Wildlife president Jamie Rappaport Clark declared: "We will not stand by and watch them desecrate this pristine landscape. Drilling would threaten hundreds of species that depend on the coastal plain for survival. It would violate the rights of the Gwich'in people, and further exacerbate the increasing impacts of climate change."

The Gwich'in people -- an indigenous tribe that lives along the migratory route of the Porcupine River Caribou Herd in northern Alaska and Canada -- have long opposed drilling in the region.

In a statement posted to Facebook, Bernadette Dementieff, executive director of the Gwich'in Steering Committee, said: "The administration has made my people a target. We in turn give notice to those in power that the Gwich'in people will not be silent. We will not stand down."

"Protecting the coastal plain is protecting our identity, our human rights, and our culture," Dementieff added. "Those who attempt to exploit this sacred place have taken aim at our communities and human rights."

"This is a time to make a choice about what our country wants for our future -- the preservation of life, climate justice, and wild places for future generations, or a race to the bottom dominated by drilling and greed," said Alli Harvey, Alaska representative for Sierra Club's Our Wild America campaign. "We stand with the Gwich'in Nation as we fight for a better world, starting with safeguarding the Arctic Refuge."

In a letter (pdf) to Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke on Thursday, Rep. Raúl Grijalva (D-Ariz.), ranking member of the House Natural Resources Committee, and eight other Democrats reiterated their opposition to any drilling in ANWR and criticized the Trump administration's "needless haste."

"Attempting to rush the leasing process," they wrote, "is unnecessary, inappropriate, and likely will result in serious harm to one of our nation's last remaining truly wild areas."

Noting that "the goal of this timeline is to meet the purely political deadline of holding a lease sale within this presidential term," they concluded: "Playing politics with our nation's most important and irreplaceable public lands is irresponsible, and this effort is wholly incompatible with your responsibility to move forward in a way that is compatible with protecting the wilderness and wildlife values of the Refuge and the needs of the Gwich'in people."

Categories: News

Following Release of Memos, Trump and His GOP Call for Comey's Imprisonment

Truth Out - Fri, 04/20/2018 - 04:00

 Melina Mara / The Washington Post via Getty Images)Former FBI Director James Comey testifies before the Senate Intelligence Committee on Capitol Hill in Washington, DC, on June 8, 2017. (Photo: Melina Mara / The Washington Post via Getty Images)

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If I had read this opening paragraph of a CNN story four years ago I would have assumed it was actually an excerpt from a bad movie script:

A week after the tell-all book from James Comey exploded onto the scene, President Donald Trump is telling aides and confidants something he rarely does: He's pleased at how Republicans and the White House led the charge to try and discredit the former FBI director.

Setting aside the ridiculous notion of Donald Trump being president, I would have said the stuff about the White House and Republicans openly celebrating a campaign to discredit an FBI director, much less a stalwart Republican like Comey, would be absurd and no one would believe it. They were the "law and order" party. They love FBI directors.

There's no need to belabor this little time-travel exercise. It's just that sometimes you have to acknowledge the strangeness of what's going on. This is just one small example, but it's a significant one. The president and his minions in the media and, more significantly, in the Congress are working overtime to discredit witnesses in a counterintelligence investigation involving ... the president. And they are bragging about their success to the news media.

On Thursday night the Department of Justice finally relented and released the long-sought "Comey memos," which the former FBI director had written to document his meetings with Trump and other members of the White House during those first few months of the Trump administration. Just like the infamous "Nunes memo," they are basically duds as far as new information is concerned. This should come as no surprise: Comey testified at length before Congress and wrote a book about all this that he's currently appearing on every TV show in the known world to promote. Apparently, Trump's allies hoped or believed these would prove Comey was lying and instead they have now proved to everyone that he wasn't. They're reduced to making absurd observations that Comey never once wrote that he "felt obstructed."

Still, it was a thrilling day for Trump. His Justice Department referred former Deputy FBI Director Andrew McCabe to the U.S. attorney for the District of Columbia for possible criminal charges. Finally, one of his perceived political enemies was getting what was coming to him.

McCabe was referred on the basis of the FBI inspector general's report finding that he had shown a "lack of candor" about an unauthorized leak to the Wall Street Journal confirming that the FBI was still investigating the Clinton Foundation. You'll recall that McCabe was fired in a highly unorthodox fashion for this infraction, just hours before he was to officially retire and weeks before the report was released in full.

According to former FBI counter-intelligence official Frank Figliuzzi, who recently discussed all this on MSNBC's "Deadline: White House," this referral is unusual:

If it is true that the charge that is being referred is for a lack of candor during an internal inquiry, I cannot recall that ever happening in my 25-year FBI career. I also headed the office of professional responsibility adjudication unit. I was the chief inspector of the FBI during my career and that's a new one on me. So, what I was thinking is that the referral would be for an unauthorized leak -- that McCabe actually conceded that he did allow his subordinates to talk to the media and disclosed the existence of a case. That sounded more prosecutable than lacking candor during an internal inquiry. I don't know if he was under oath or not, but nonetheless the remedy for that is termination not criminal referral. So I'm troubled by this, if the reporting is correct.

James Comey told Rachel Maddow on Thursday night that there were two people in the FBI who had authorization to provide such information to the media at the time: Himself and Andrew McCabe. So a criminal referral on that count would seem to be odd as well.

It appears that McCabe is facing potential criminal indictment for a so-called crime not easily found in the statute books ("lack of candor") or over a leak he was specifically authorized to make. This is not the end of this story.

According to the Washington Post, the president is not satisfied:

Trump also loudly and repeatedly complained to several advisers earlier this week that former FBI director James B. Comey, former deputy FBI director Andrew McCabe and former Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton, among others, should be charged with crimes for misdeeds alleged by Republicans, the associates said.

Although White House officials said Thursday that Trump has not called Justice Department officials or taken any formal action, the persistent grousing has made some advisers anxious, according to two people close to the president.

He doesn't have to call Justice officials. They are well aware of his demand to lock up Hillary Clinton for crimes that exist only in his head, and he has said that McCabe is a criminal many times. Surely they read his Twitter feed:

The big questions in Comey's badly reviewed book aren't answered like, how come he gave up Classified Information (jail), why did he lie to Congress (jail), why did the DNC refuse to give Server to the FBI (why didn't they TAKE it), why the phony memos, McCabe's $700,000 & more?

— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) April 15, 2018

The right-wing media, led by unofficial White House chief of staff Sean Hannity, have been calling for indictments of the president's enemies for months. Now he has some congressional back-up for this authoritarian command. Eleven members of the House have called on Attorney General Jeff Sessions and FBI Director Christopher Wray to launch criminal investigations into Clinton, Comey, former Attorney General Loretta Lynch, former Acting Attorney General Sally Yates, McCabe, former acting Deputy Attorney General Dana Boente and FBI employees Peter Strzok and Lisa Page for a variety of different and unaffiliated alleged crimes. If it weren't for the fact that McCabe has actually been referred for possible indictment already I'd say all of that was nuts.

I hate to give James Comey the last word, but this is what he said during an NPR interview this week after President Trump called for him to be sent to prison:

The president of the United States just said that a private citizen should be jailed. And I think the reaction of most of us was, "Meh, that's another one of those things." This is not normal. This is not OK. There's a danger that we will become numb to it, and we will stop noticing the threats to our norms. The threats to the rule of law and the threats most of all to the truth. And so the reason I'm talking in terms of morality is, those are the things that matter most to this country. And there's a great danger we'll be numbed into forgetting that, and then only a fool would be consoled by some policy victory.

Categories: News

Native Language Schools Are Taking Back Education

Truth Out - Fri, 04/20/2018 - 04:00

 Jonathan Wiggs / The Boston Globe via Getty Images)The United States Mint and leaders of the Wampanoag Tribe introduced the 2011 Native American $1 coin during a ceremony at Plimoth Plantation on March 25, 2011. (Photo: Jonathan Wiggs / The Boston Globe via Getty Images)

For more than 150 years, the Wôpanâak language was silent. With no fluent speakers alive, the language of the Mashpee Wampanoag people existed only in historical documents. It was by all measures extinct. But a recently established language school on the Mashpee Wampanoag Tribe's reservation in Massachusetts is working to bring back the language.

The threat of extinction that faces the Wôpanâak language is not uncommon for indigenous languages in the United States. Calculated federal policy, not happenstance, led to the destruction of Native American languages such as Wôpanâak.

But today, Native language schools are working to change that by revitalizing languages that have been threatened with extinction.

In the 19th century, federal policy shifted from a policy of extermination and displacement to assimilation. The passage of the Civilization Fund Act in 1819 allocated federal funds directly to education for the purpose of assimilation, and that led to the formation of many government-run boarding schools. Boarding schools were not meant to educate, but to assimilate.

Tribal communities continue to be haunted by this history. As of April, UNESCO's Atlas of the World's Endangered Languages listed 191 Native American languages as "in danger" in the United States. Of these, some languages are vulnerable -- meaning that children speak the language, but only in certain contexts -- to critically endangered -- meaning the youngest generation of speakers are elderly.

Today, the education system in the United States fails Native American students. Native students have the lowest high school graduation rate of any racial group nationally, according to the 2017 Condition of Education Report. And a 2010 report shows that in the 12 states with the highest Native American population, less than 50 percent of Native students graduate from high school per year.

By founding schools that teach in Native languages and center tribal history and beliefs, tribal language schools are taking education back into their own hands.

Mukayuhsak Weekuw: Reviving a Silent Language

On the Massachusetts coast just two hours south of Boston is Mukayuhsak Weekuw, a Wôpanâak language preschool and kindergarten founded in 2015. The school is working to revitalize the Wôpanâak language. As one of the first tribes to encounter colonists, the Mashpee Wampanoag faced nearly four centuries of violence and assimilation attempts; by the mid 19th century, the last fluent speakers of Wôpanâak had died.

In the 1990s, Wampanoag social worker Jessie Little Doe Baird began to work to bring the language back to her people. It began like this: More than 20 years ago, Baird had a series of dreams in which her ancestors spoke to her in Wôpanâak. She says they instructed her to ask her community whether they were ready to welcome the language home.

She listened, and in 1993 she sought the help of linguists and community elders to begin to revitalize the language -- elders like Helen Manning from the Aquinnah Wampanoag Tribe, with whom she would later co-found the Wôpanâak Language Reclamation Project.

Baird found a lot of resources. To translate the Bible, colonists had transcribed Wôpanâak to the Roman alphabet in the 1600s, which the Wampanoag used to write letters, wills, deeds, and petitions to the colonial government. With these texts, Baird and MIT linguist Kenneth Hale established rules for Wôpanâak orthography and grammar, and created a dictionary of 11,000 words.

In 2015, the Wôpanâak Language Reclamation Project was ready to open the Mukayuhsak Weekuw preschool. According to the school's Project Director Jennifer Weston, 10 students attended in the first year it opened, growing to 20 in the current school year. As part of the language program, parents or grandparents of students at the school are required to attend a weekly language class to ensure that the youth can continue speaking the language at home.

The curriculum is taught entirely in the Wôpanâak language, and it is also grounded in tribal history and connection to the land. "Our languages embody our ancestors' relationships to our homelands and to one another across millennia," Weston says. "They explain to us to the significance of all the places for our most important ceremonies and medicines. They tell us who we are and how to be good relatives."

In addition to language learning, the children also learn about gardening, hunting, and fishing. They practice tribal ceremonies, traditional food preservation, and traditional hunting and fishing practices. At Native American language schools like Mukayuhsak Weekuw, students experience their culture in the curriculum in a deeply personal and empowering way.

'Aha Pūnana Leo: Overcoming Policy Barriers

Considering the violent history of America's education system towards Native Americans, it is perhaps unsurprising that policy barriers continue to hinder contemporary language revitalization schools.

Federal policies are often misaligned with the reality of tribal communities and language revitalization schools. Leslie Harper, president of the advocacy group National Coalition of Native American Language Schools and Programs, says schools often risk losing funding because they lack qualified teachers who meet federal standards. But these standards are paternalistic, notes Harper, who says that fluent language teachers at Native schools are often trained outside of accredited teaching colleges, which don't offer relevant Native language teaching programs. These teaching colleges don't "respond to our needs for teachers in Indian communities," she says.

In Hawai'i, 'Aha Pūnana Leo schools have had some success in overcoming policy barriers like these. The schools have led the way for statewide and national policy change in Native language education.

When the first preschool was founded in 1984, activists estimated that fewer than 50 children spoke Hawaiian statewide. Today, 'Aha Pūnana Leo runs 21 language medium schools serving thousands of students throughout the state, from preschool through high school. Because of this success, emerging revitalization schools and researchers alike look to 'Aha Pūnana Leo as a model.

Nāmaka Rawlins is the director of strategic collaborations at 'Aha Pūnana Leo. Like Harper, she says that required academic credentialing burdened the language preschools, which relied on fluent elders. This became an issue in 2012 when kindergarten was made compulsory in Hawai'i, and teachers and directors of preschools were required to be accredited. But she, along with other Hawaiian language advocates, advocated for changes to these state regulations to exclude Hawaiian preschools from the requirement and instead accredit their own teachers as local, indigenous experts. And they succeeded. "We got a lot of flack from the preschool community," she says. "Today, we provide our own training and professional development."

One of the early successes of 'Aha Pūnana Leo was removing the ban on the use of Hawaiian language in schools, which had been illegal for nearly a century. Four years later, in 1990, the passage of the Native American Language Act affirmed that Native American children across the nation have the right to be educated, express themselves, and be assessed in their tribal language.

But according to Harper, progress still needs to be made before NALA is fully implemented by the Education Department. Since 2016, Native American language medium schools have been able to assess students in their language. This took years of advocacy by people like Harper, who served on the US Department of Education's Every Student Succeeds Act Implementation Committee and pushed for the change. 

While this is an important first step, Harper is concerned that because language medium school assessments must be peer reviewed, low capacity schools -- or those that lack the technical expertise of developing assessments that align with federal standards -- will be burdened. And the exemption doesn't apply to high schools.

Studies from multiple language revitalization schools have found that students who attend these schools have greater academic achievement than those who attend English-speaking schools, including scoring significantly higher on standardized tests. "We are beginning to see the long-term benefits of language revitalization and language-medium education in our kids," Harper says. "But the public education system and laws are still reticent about us developing programs of instruction for our students."

Looking Back, Looking Forward

A movement to revitalize tribal languages is underway. The success of 'Aha Pūnana Leo and promise of Mukayuhsak Weekuw are examples of communities taking education into their own hands. When Native American students are taught in their own language and culture, they succeed.

Weston says parents are eager for Mukayuhsak Weekuw to expand into an elementary school, and in fall 2018, the school will include first grade in addition to pre-school and kindergarten. It is a testament to the work and vision of the Wampanoag that just two decades ago, their language was silent, and today, they have a school that expands in size each year. "All of our tribal communities have the capacity to maintain and revitalize our mother tongues," Weston says -- no matter how daunting it may seem.

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Categories: News

Energy Transfer Partners Pipelines Leaked Hazardous Liquids Every 11 Days for 15 Years, on Average

Truth Out - Fri, 04/20/2018 - 04:00

According to a new report from Greenpeace USA and the Waterkeeper Alliance, Energy Transfer Partners -- the company behind the Dakota Access Pipeline -- has spilled over 3.6 million gallons of hazardous liquids over the course of fifteen years. The report also notes that the fossil fuel industry's record of spills has only gotten worse over time.

 Robert Nickelsberg / Getty Images)An aerial view shows a natural gas liquids pipeline under construction October 26, 2017, in Smith Township, Washington County, Pennsylvania. (Photo: Robert Nickelsberg / Getty Images)

5,475 days, 527 pipeline spills: that's the math presented in a new report from environmental groups Greenpeace USA and the Waterkeeper Alliance examining pipelines involving Dakota Access builder Energy Transfer Partners (ETP). It's based on public data from 2002 to 2017.

All told, those leaks released 3.6 million gallons of hazardous liquids, including 2.8 million gallons of crude oil, according to data collected from the federal Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration (PHMSA).

That doesn't include an additional 2.4 million gallons of "drilling fluids, sediment, and industrial waste" leaked during ETP's construction of two pipelines in West Virginia, Pennsylvania, Ohio, and Michigan. Also left out: air pollution and leaks from natural gas pipelines, which were beyond the scope of the new report but which play a significant role in climate change and can cause explosions.

Across the entire industry, hazardous liquid pipelines spilled a total of 34.7 million gallons during the past decade, directly causing 16 deaths and $2.7 billion worth of damage. More than one in ten of those gallons came from ETP.

"That’s a red flag for a company that has an extensive network across the country and is building even more pipelines as we speak in Louisiana, Pennsylvania, and other states," said Greenpeace USA research lead Tim Donaghy, PhD. "ETP and Sunoco's track record of spills, including several striking examples of big spills, are indicators of a constant threat to communities and water. This could happen again to communities along the pipeline routes."

A Long List of Spills and Accidents

ETP spilled crude oil over 400 times, "refined petroleum products" such as gasoline 92 times, and other flammable or toxic fluids 27 times, the researchers found. And many of the spills involved large amounts of oil -- roughly one in four of ETP's pipeline oil spills involved 2,100 or more gallons of oil.

In one 2005 incident, 436,000 gallons of crude oil spewed from a tank farm into a Delaware River tributary outside Philadelphia. That same year, a pipeline built in the 1950s dumped enough oil into the Kentucky and Ohio river to leave a 17-mile oil slick. And in 2009, a Texas pipeline caught fire and leaked over 140,000 gallons near Colorado City, Texas.

Cleaning up those sorts of spills is no easy job. Out of 3.6 million gallons ETP spilled, almost half -- a total of more than 1.5 million gallons -- was never mopped up, the report found. In addition, the company caused $115 million in property damage, according to federal tallies.

Sunoco, which merged with ETP, is included in the report's analysis. In 2012, ETP first merged with Sunoco, formally absorbing pipeline-wing Sunoco Logistics Partners in 2017. The combined companies operate over 70,000 miles of USpipes. That's "nearly long enough to encircle the earth three times," the report notes.

The new report finds that ETP's pipelines have a somewhat higher-than-average rate of problems. Twelve percent of ETP's spills polluted water sources, finds the report, titled "Oil and Water: ETP and Sunoco's History of Pipeline Spills." That's compared against a 10 percent national average. And three out of eight incidents nationwide where PHMSA specifically noted harm to drinking water supplies involved ETP pipelines.

The pipeline industry's record has grown worse over time, the report notes, reaching a peak of 454 spills in 2015 before dropping "slightly" to 404 in 2017.

Bayou Bridge Pipeline

The company's controversial pipeline construction projects across the US include the Bayou Bridge pipeline that would tie in to the Dakota Access pipeline and carry oil from North Dakota's Bakken shale down to the Gulf of Mexico, the Mariner East 2 pipeline that will carry the plastic precursor ethane across Ohio and Pennsylvania to the Atlantic coast, and the 713-mile Rover pipeline, that will transport natural gas through Michigan, Ohio, West Virginia, and Pennsylvania, where millions of gallons of drilling fluid have spilled during construction.

The Bayou Bridge pipeline's route through wetlands and drinking water supplies for over 300,000 people has community and environmental advocates particularly concerned.

"Construction of the Bayou Bridge pipeline represents a high risk to hundreds of waterways across the entire state of Louisiana," said Waterkeeper Alliance Clean and Safe Energy Campaign Manager Donna Lisenby.

The new report warns that if ETP's track record remains unchanged, the Bayou Bridge pipeline will experience multiple spills of 2,100 gallons or more of hazardous materials after it's built. "Assuming the US system-wide rate for significant crude oil spills of 0.001 per year per mile, we estimate that the Bayou Bridge Pipeline would suffer eight significant spills during a 50-year nominal lifetime," the report concludes. Photographs of Bayou Bridge construction taken by photojournalist Julie Dermansky, who has reported on Bayou Bridge for DeSmog, are included in Greenpeace's report.

"We're not happy with Bayou Bridge because we know that Energy Transfer Partners is accident prone," said Harry Joseph, a pastor from St. James, Louisiana, where the Bayou Bridge pipeline will terminate. "We fear that something will happen in St. James -- it's just a matter of time because of ETP’s history. The company has had problems."

Sinkholes, Spills and Suing

Those fears will sound familiar to some Pennsylvanians living near the Mariner East 1 and 2 pipelines, where the new report tallied over a hundred "inadvertent releases" and accidents, some of which contaminated locals' water wells, polluted local trout streams, or even caused massive sinkholes to open up. One of those sinkholes erupted just 300 feet from railroad tracks where Amtrak trains and local commuter rail operates, prompting the state to issue an emergency shutdown.

Many living near Mariner East's path are concerned about the risk of more accidents. "This is an organic farm," West Cornwall farmer Phil Stober told ABC News, "and if it damages our groundwater, what recourse do we have?"

The company's most notoriously controversial project was, of course, the Dakota Access pipeline (DAPL), where an encampment by people calling themselves "water protectors" in Standing Rock, North Dakota, drew national attention as law enforcement used attack dogs, tear gas, and high-pressure water cannons in subzero temperatures against Indigenous peoples and allies who opposed DAPL construction.

"We all recall the Dakota Access pipeline construction process because of the inspiring resistance from Indigenous communities that wanted to protect their water," said Greenpeace's Donaghy. "Those Water Protectors were right; that pipeline alone leaked four times in 2017."

An additional three incidents along the full stretch of the Dakota Access-Energy Transfers Crude Oil pipeline were also reported to federal authorities, including a roughly 5,000 gallon oil spill in Tennessee.

Other ETP pipeline construction projects that have had a lower national profile also caused major spills. The Permian IIExpress pipeline dumped 361,200 gallons of crude near Sweetwater, Texas, in the largest pipeline leak of 2016.

Last August, ETP sued Greenpeace, BankTrack, and Earth First!, claiming that anti-pipeline advocates were engaged in racketeering against the firm and demanding $900 million in damages. Greenpeace is currently defending against those charges in court and argues that the case is what's known as a Strategic Lawsuit Against Public Participation, or SLAPP suit, aimed at silencing discussion of harms caused by ETP. (This month, a federal judge effectively dropped Earth First! from that lawsuit, following arguments that Earth First! is a philosophy and not actually an organization. ETP had attempted to hold a magazine called Earth First! Journal liable as representing Earth First!) The lawsuit against Greenpeace is still ongoing.

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Categories: News

Economic Update: Why People Struggle With the System

Truth Out - Fri, 04/20/2018 - 04:00

This week's episode provides updates on the teachers' strikes, how capitalism abuses Facebook and how colleges reward privilege and reproduce it. We also discuss Shell Oil knowing for 50 years that fossil fuels contribute to global warming and how Sinclair Broadcasting traps its employees. Finally, we interview Rob Robinson on water as human right as opposed to a commodity for corporate profit.

To see more stories like this, visit Economic Update: Your Weekly Dose of Revolutionary Economics

To listen in live on Saturdays at noon, visit WBAI's Live Stream

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Categories: News

Who Will Be the Next GOP Speaker?

Truth Out - Fri, 04/20/2018 - 04:00

Wisconsin Rep. Paul Ryan finally admitted that the rumors were true, announcing his intention to step down at the end of the term and retire -- rather than run for reelection in the 2018 midterms. Ryan's decision means that even if the GOP does manage to hold onto a majority after the November election -- an outcome even more in doubt now than it was just weeks ago -- the party will be seeking a new speaker of the House when it reconvenes in 2019.

Or, if some GOP House members have their way, maybe even sooner.

With the party still reeling from Ryan's official announcement that he will be leaving DC, all ambitious House leaders are vying to take over the speakership -- becoming the third, or possibly even second, most powerful Republican in office. And it's a role that many are willing to do anything to win.

The leading contenders are Congressman Kevin Murphy of California and Congressman Steve Scalise of Louisiana, both staunch conservative leaders. Murphy has served as House majority leader since Eric Cantor lost his seat in a surprise upset in 2014, and already campaigned for the speakership when Ryan's predecessor, Ohio Republican John Boehner, was ousted. Scalise is just one step lower than McCarthy in the House GOP hierarchy, and he gained a great deal of admiration and esteem after being critically shot by gunman during a Congressional baseball game.

And they both have considerable baggage. The Denver Post reports:

In 2014, Scalise was discovered to have addressed a white-supremacist group in 2002 founded by former Ku Klux Klan leader David Duke. Scalise apologized and said he'd been unaware of the group's racial views. McCarthy suggested in 2015 that a House committee probing the deadly 2012 raid on the U.S. embassy in Benghazi, Libya, had damaged Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton's poll numbers, undermining GOP arguments that the investigation wasn't politically motivated. That raised questions about his ability as a communicator, a key for party leaders.

Both Murphy and Scalise are logical choices for a far-right successor. But would they be right-wing enough to appease everyone? Not a chance -- which is why Freedom Caucus leader and Ohio Rep. Jim Jordan has signaled his intention to run, too.

While Ryan has officially backed McCarthy as his favorite -- and even Scalise has agreed that the Californian would be a logical and acceptable replacement -- Jordan has made it clear that no one will simply be anointed and walk away with the position.

"There is no speaker's race right now. Paul Ryan is the speaker," Jordan said Friday, according to the Washington Post. "If and when there is, I've been urged by colleagues to consider that, and I am definitely open to that. Right now, though, the focus has got to be on the next six months, us keeping the majority."

There may not be a speaker's race right now, but not everyone thinks that's the way it should be. Politico reports:

Several allies to speaker hopeful Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.), the majority leader, say House Republicans need to be united heading into the midterms, and that a leadership race could split the conference. Other Republicans are questioning whether having a lame-duck speaker at the helm of the Republican Conference will hurt their fundraising. "We would have more success if there's no ambiguity as to what the leadership structure might look like," said Rep. Tom Graves (R-Ga.), one of McCarthy's closest allies, who is pushing for a vote to replace Ryan sooner rather than later. "Certainty is important. … From the conversations I've had, everybody wants our "A team" in place, our strongest team in place, so we have the strongest outcome going into the election cycle."

Was Ryan's decision to public support McCarthy as the next speaker just a ploy to keep McCarthy's faction from ousting him immediately from his leadership role? If so, that may be the most successful negotiation Ryan has managed in his entire tenure as Speaker.

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Categories: News

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