When we talk about the price of food, it is important to see food within the context of our larger society. Looking at the true economical reality here in the US, corporations and government say that genetically modified and chemically grown food is the cheap way to feed people who are starving. Is it really true? Lets look at one aspect: The hidden costs to overall society of the ill health that comes from eating GM food and factory farmed and chemical food. Just think if we as a society took a fraction of the money we dump into treating cancer, diabetes, obesity and other chronic diseases that have been directly linked to this corporate corn based GM food and instead put it into local organic pea patches, small family farms and even organic only food stamps. This would likely have a much greater return for the investment. And, it turns out also that GM and chemical crops output per acre is actually less than your typical organic farm. It is a lie that it is more efficient. Corporate agriculture is also extremely oil dependent, which is increasingly unsustainable and also tends to deplete and destroy the fertility of the land, so it has even larger hidden costs. Also, if it is so cheap to produce this unhealthy food, why have we been subsidizing the factory farming industries with billions of Federal tax dollars every year with none of that money going to small organic farms? Besides, the question at hand with the labeling initiative is simply that when each person is buying something to put into their bodies don't they have a right to know what is in the product? In a 'capitalist, market economy' shouldn't the person at the food market have all the information to choose what they think is the better product? The only possible reason someone wouldn't want GM labeling would be that they don't want people to be able to make their own choice. Shouldn't the 'consumer' (the market) decide what is the better 'product'? Then GM food would have to be defended on its purported merits and a real dialogue about the costs of food could then be debated. But if the majority stays ignorant of what they are eating and the hidden costs, the healthy dialogue will never happen. George Carlin summed all of this up in one short statement: "Why does McDonald's spend $8 billion a year on advertisements? "Because unless you're brainwashed, there's no way you're eating that shit."
By Chris Hedges
I gave a talk last week at Canada’s Wilfrid Laurier University to the Congress of the Humanities and Social Sciences. Many in the audience had pinned small red squares of felt to their clothing. The carre rouge, or red square, has become the Canadian symbol of revolt. It comes from the French phrase carrement dans le rouge, or “squarely in the red,” referring to those crushed by debt.
The streets of Montreal are clogged nightly with as many as 100,000 protesters banging pots and pans and demanding that the old systems of power be replaced. The mass student strike in Quebec, the longest and largest student protest in Canadian history, began over the announcement of tuition hikes and has metamorphosed into what must swiftly build in the United States—a broad popular uprising. The debt obligation of Canadian university students, even with Quebec’s proposed 82 percent tuition hike over several years, is dwarfed by the huge university fees and the $1 trillion of debt faced by U.S. college students. The Canadian students have gathered widespread support because they linked their tuition protests to Quebec’s call for higher fees for health care, the firing of public sector employees, the closure of factories, the corporate exploitation of natural resources, new restrictions on union organizing, and an announced increase in the retirement age. Crowds in Montreal, now counting 110 days of protests, chant “On ne lâche pas”—“We’re not backing down.”
The Quebec government, which like the United States’ security and surveillance state is deaf to the pleas for justice and fearful of widespread unrest, has reacted by trying to stamp out the rebellion. It has arrested hundreds of protesters. The government passed Law 78, which makes demonstrations inside or near a college or university campus illegal and outlaws spontaneous demonstrations in the province. It forces those who protest to seek permission from the police and imposes fines of up to $125,000 for organizations that defy the new regulations. This, as with the international Occupy movement, has become a test of wills between a disaffected citizenry and the corporate state. The fight in Quebec is our fight. Their enemy is our enemy. And their victory is our victory.
This sustained resistance is far more effective than a May Day strike. If Canadians can continue to boycott university classrooms, continue to get crowds into the streets and continue to keep the mainstream behind the movement, the government will become weak and isolated. It is worth attempting in the United States. College graduates in Canada, the U.S., Spain, Greece, Ireland and Egypt, among other countries, cannot find jobs commensurate with their education. They are crippled by debt. Solidarity means joining forces with all those who are fighting to destroy global, corporate capitalism. It is the same struggle. A blow outside our borders weakens the corporate foe at home. And a boycott of our own would empower the boycott across the border.
The din of citizens beating pots and pans reverberates nightly in cities in Quebec. The protesters are part of what has been nicknamed the army of the cacerolazo, or the casseroles. I heard the same clanging of pots and pans when I covered the protests against Manuel Noriega in Panama and the street protests against Augusto Pinochet in Chile. Quebec Premier Jean Charest, who despite Law 78 has been unable to thwart the street demonstrations, is the latest victim. I hope the next is Barack Obama or Mitt Romney; they, and Charest, are puppets manipulated by corporate power.
The importance of the Occupy movement, and the reason I suspect its encampments were so brutally dismantled by the Obama administration, is that the corporate state understood and feared its potential to spark a popular rebellion. I do not think the state has won. All the injustices and grievances that drove people into the Occupy encampments and onto the streets have been ignored by the state and are getting worse. And we will see eruptions of discontent in the weeks and months ahead.
If these mass protests fail, opposition will inevitably take a frightening turn. The longer we endure political paralysis, the longer the formal mechanisms of power fail to respond, the more the extremists on the left and the right—those who venerate violence and are intolerant of ideological deviations—will be empowered. Under the steady breakdown of globalization, the political environment has become a mound of tinder waiting for a light.
The Golden Dawn party in Greece uses the Nazi salute, has as its symbol a variation of the Nazi swastika and has proposed setting up internment camps for foreigners who refuse to leave the country. It took 21 seats, or 7 percent of the vote, in the May parliamentary elections. France’s far-right National Front, led by Marine Le Pen, pulled 18 percent of the vote in the first round of the presidential election. The right-wing Freedom Party in the Netherlands is the third largest in the parliament and brought down the minority government. The Freedom Party in Austria is now the second most popular in the country and holds 34 seats in the 183-seat lower house of the parliament. The Progress Party in Norway is the largest element of the opposition. The Danish People’s Party is Denmark’s third largest. And the Hungarian fascist party Jobbik, or the Movement for a Better Hungary, captured 17 percent of the vote in the last election. Jobbik is allied with uniformed thugs known as the Hungarian Guard, which has set up patrols in the impoverished countryside to “protect” Hungarians from Gypsies. And that intolerance is almost matched by Israel’s ruling Kadima party, which spews ethnic chauvinism and racism toward Arabs and has mounted a campaign against dissenters within the Jewish state.
The left in times of turmoil always coughs up its own version of the goons on the far right. Black Bloc anarchists within the Occupy movement in the United States, although they remain marginal, replicate the hyper-masculinity, lust for violence and quest for ideological purity of the right while using the language of the left. And they, or a similar configuration, will grow if the center disintegrates.
These radical groups, right and left, give to their followers a sense of comradeship and empowerment that alleviates the insecurity, helplessness and alienation that plague the disenfranchised. Adherents surrender the anxiety of moral choice for the euphoria of collective emotions. The individual’s conscience, a word that evolved from the Latin con (with) and scientia (knowledge), is nullified by personal sublimation into the collective of the crowd. Knowledge is banished for emotion. I saw this in Yugoslavia. And this is what happened in Germany during the Weimar Republic. The Nazis, who knew whom they could trust, forbade recruitment from the Social Democrats. They understood that the bourgeoisie liberals of that political stripe lacked the desired ideological rigidity. But the Nazis embraced recruits who defected from the Communist Party. Communists easily grasped the simplistic, binary view of the world that split human relations into us and them, the good and the evil, the friend and the enemy. They made good comrades.
“Comradeship always sets the cultural tone at the lowest possible level, accessible to everyone,” Sebastian Haffner wrote in his book “Defying Hitler,” which more and more looks like a primer on the disintegration of the early 21st century. “It cannot tolerate discussion; in the chemical solution of comradeship, discussion immediately takes on the color of whining and grumbling. It becomes a mortal sin. Comradeship admits no thoughts, just mass feelings of the most primitive sort—these, on the other hand, are inescapable; to try and evade them is to put oneself beyond the pale.”
William Butler Yeats, although he saw his salvation in fascism, understood the deadly process of disintegration:
Turning and turning in the widening gyre
The falcon cannot hear the falconer;
Things fall apart; the centre cannot hold;
Mere anarchy is loosed upon the world,
The blood-dimmed tide is loosed, and everywhere
The ceremony of innocence is drowned;
The best lack all conviction, while the worst
Are full of passionate intensity.
Those of us who care about a civil society, and who abhor violence, should begin to replicate what is happening in Quebec. There is not much time left. The volcano is about to erupt. I know what it looks and feels like. Yet there is a maddening futility in naming what is happening. The noise and cant of the crowd, the seduction of ideologies of hate and violence, the blindness of those who foolishly continue to place their faith in a dead political process, the sea of propaganda that confuses and entertains, the apathy of the good and the industry and dedication of the bad, conspire to drown out reason and civility. Instinct replaces thought. Toughness replaces empathy. “Authenticity” replaces rationality. And the dictates of individual conscience are surrendered to the herd.
There still is time to act. There still are mass movements to join. If the street protests in Quebec, the most important resistance movement in the industrialized world, spread to all of Canada and reach the United States, there remains the possibility of hope.
This essay was first published in TruthDig.
Matt Lawrence of Occupy NH protests the GOP's child poverty agenda outside Congressmen Frank Guinta and Darrell Issa's event @ Delux in Manchester. Voted 'Best Protest Sign' by Manchester Police. 6/4/12
*Like* Occupy New Hampshire on Facebook.
By Bill McKibben
My solution is: get outraged.
Having written the first book about global warming 23 long years ago, I’ve watched the issue unfold across decades, continents, and ideologies. I’ve come to earth summits and conferences of the parties from Rio to Kyoto to Copenhagen, and many places in between.
All along, two things have been clear.
One, the scientists who warned us about climate change were absolutely correct—their only mistake, common among scientists, was in being too conservative. So far we’ve raised the temperature of the earth about one degree Celsius, and two decades ago it was hard to believe this would be enough to cause huge damage. But it was. We’ve clearly come out of the Holocene and into something else. Forty percent of the summer sea ice in the Arctic is gone; the ocean is 30 percent more acidic. There’s nothing theoretical about any of this any more. Since warm air holds more water vapor than cold, the atmosphere is about 4 percent wetter than it used to be, which has loaded the dice for drought and flood. In my home country, 2011 smashed the record for multibillion-dollar weather disasters—and we were hit nowhere near as badly as some. Thailand’s record flooding late in the year did damage equivalent to 18 percent of the country’s gross domestic product (GDP). That’s almost unbelievable. But it’s not just scientists who have been warning us. Insurance companies—the people in our economy who we ask to analyze risk—have been bellowing in their quiet, actuarial way for years. Here’s Munich Re, the world’s largest insurer, in their 2010 annual report: “The reinsurer has built up the world’s most comprehensive natural catastrophe database, which shows a marked increase in the number of weather-related events. For instance, globally, loss-related floods have more than tripled since 1980, and windstorm natural catastrophes more than doubled, with particularly heavy losses from Atlantic hurricanes. This rise cannot be explained without global warming.”
Two, we have much of the technological know-how we need to make the leap past fossil fuel. Munich Re again: “Whilst climate change cannot be stopped, it can be kept within manageable proportions, thus avoiding the possibility that climate change tipping points will be reached.”
What does this mean in practice? Go to China where, yes, they’re emulating the West by putting up lots of coal-fired power plants. But they’re also busy building, say, solar hot-water heaters: 60 million arrays, providing hot water for 250 million Chinese, almost a quarter of the country—compared with less than 1 percent in America. I could list here a long tally of solutions (wind, geothermal, conservation, bicycles, trains, hybrid cars, tidal power, local food) and I could list an equally long tally of policies that everyone knows would help bring them quickly to pass: most important, of course, putting a stiff price on carbon to reflect the damage it does to the environment. That price signal would put markets to work in a serious way. It wouldn’t guarantee that we could head off climate change, because we’ve waited a very long time to get started, but it’s clearly our best chance.
So, if we have an emergency, and we have the tools to fight it, the only question is why we’re not doing so. And the answer, I think, is clear: it’s in the interest of some of the most powerful players on earth to prolong the status quo. Some of those players are countries, the ones with huge fossil-fuel reserves: recent research has demonstrated that the nations with the most coal, gas, and oil are the most recalcitrant in international negotiations. And some of those players are companies: the fossil fuel industry is the most profitable enterprise in history, and it has proven more than willing to use its financial clout to block political action in the capitals that count.
If we are going to impose a stiff-enough price on carbon to keep those reserves in the ground (which we simply must do—physics and chemistry don’t allow us any other out) then we have to overcome the resistance of those companies and countries. We can’t outspend them, so we have to find different currencies in which to work: creativity, spirit, and passion. In other words, we have to build movements—creative, hopeful movements that can summon our love for the planet, but also angry, realistic movements willing to point out the ultimate rip-off under way, as a tiny number of people enrich themselves at the expense not only of the rest of us, but also at the expense of every generation yet to come, not to mention every other species.
As it happens, such movements are possible. We built one in the last year around the Keystone Pipeline, which would have run from the tar sands of Canada down to the Gulf of Mexico. The pipeline was a certifiably bad idea—burning the world’s tar sands alone would raise the planet’s temperature almost a half degree Celsius. (Burning all the coal will add, wait for it, 15 degrees.) And so people came together in huge numbers—we had the largest civil disobedience action in America in 30 years with 1,253 people arrested. We ringed the White House with people standing shoulder-to-shoulder, five deep. We inundated the Senate with 800,000 messages in 24 hours, the most concentrated burst of environmental activity in many years. And it kind of worked—though the battle rages on, the president at least decided to deny the permit for the pipeline.
Our campaign preceded, and then was dwarfed by, the wonderful Occupy movement, which raised specific issues, like the Keystone Pipeline, but mostly concentrated on larger questions of fairness. It showed a great depth of concern about inequality and corporate power, the very set of arrangements that have produced climate change. And it offered a number of solutions—getting money out of politics, above all—that would really help.
But talking endlessly about these solutions at international conferences is not going to produce them. They go against the power of the status quo, and hence they will be enacted only if we build movements strong enough to force them. We need politicians more afraid of voter outrage than they are of corporate retribution. And so—at 350.org, and many other places—we’ll go on trying to build that movement. We’ll focus on pipelines and coal mines, and on subsidies to the fossil fuel industry. We’ll demand fee-and-dividend systems that tax fossil fuel and give the proceeds to citizens. We’ll write and march and, when necessary, we’ll go to jail. And we need those who spend too much of their time at international conclaves to join us, when you can. We’ll never get the solutions we need—the solutions everyone has known about for two decades—unless we build the movement first.
Bill McKibben is Schumann Distinguished Scholar at Middlebury College and co-founder of 350.org. His most recent book is Eaarth: Making a Life on a Tough New Planet.
Before TP, there was...
The first product designed specifically to wipe one’s nethers were aloe-infused sheets of Manila Hemp dispensed from Kleenex-like boxes. They were invented in 1857 by a New York entrepreneur named Joseph Gayetty, who claimed his sheets prevented hemorrhoids. Gayetty was so proud of his therapeutic bathroom paper that he had his name printed on each sheet. But his success was limited. Americans soon grew accustomed to wiping with the Sears Roebuck catalog, and they saw no need to spend money on something that came in the mail for free.
Currently, the United States spends more than $6 billion a year on toilet tissue—more than any other nation in the world. Americans, on average, use 57 squares a day and 50 lbs. a year.
Presently, toilet paper manufacturers find themselves needing to charge more per roll to make a profit. That’s because production costs are rising. During the past few years, pulp has become more expensive, energy costs are rising, and even water is becoming scarce. Toilet paper companies may need to keep hiking up their prices.
Visit Creative Subversion Enterprises on Facebook.
Over 1500 million people do not have access to clean, safe water.
A five minute shower in an typical household will use more water than a person living in a developing world slum will use in a whole day.
On average, women in Africa and Asia have to walk 3.7 miles to collect water.
By Brett Mullins
The Question of God: C.S. Lewis and Sigmund Freud Debate God, Love, Sex, and the Meaning of Life is a book with the potential for far reaching insight into the minds of two individuals who focused much of their lives on the fields of Psychology and Philosophy. The author, Dr. Armand Nicholi, Jr., offers this text as an amalgam of his experience of teaching a class on Lewis and Freud at Harvard Medical School for several years. Nicholi attempts to present the views of Lewis and Freud “as objectively and dispassionately as possible.” With that being said, he adds that since these are emotionally charged topics, the objectivity will surely fade away as the conversation begins. This afterthought is largely the case with the following two hundred or so pages.
Freud rejected religion; more specifically, he rejected God on the grounds of being an image of an exalted father figure observed in early childhood development and longed for later in life. Lewis differed in that he proclaimed to be an atheist until a revelation in his thirties pushed him toward Christianity. Nicholi’s analysis relies heavily on biographies and letters to describe these two positions. The alternation between recognized works by Lewis and Freud themselves, posthumous biographies, and private letters set off internal alarm bells; my gut reaction is that the author pulled quotes out of context and grossly mischaracterized these two individuals.
The author utilizes the phrase “before his transition” numerous times (painfully numerous, I add) to compare the opposing positions on the existence of the divine. A theme develops throughout the book that the position of the ‘unbeliever’ is lacking in understanding and the capacity for love and happiness. Consider this passage regarding Lewis: “After the great transition Lewis turned outward. He no longer spent hours on himself--and he no longer kept a diary...His valuation of people changed dramatically. Lewis reached out and established a broad range of friends.” Through the negativity the author expresses toward Lewis’ previous state, it’s easy to imagine that he was a chain smoker or addicted to heroin.
The most pressing concern regards the simulated debate between Lewis and Freud. In one instance, the author presents Freud’s use of the problem of evil (if you’re unfamiliar with the particulars, listen to this podcast). Regarding this, there is no cited retort from Lewis that directly addresses this problem. At best, it can be said that the author danced around the topic in the chapter devoted to evil. It’s unclear as to if this is the fault of Lewis or Nicholi.
After reading The Question of God, I have formed a troubling opinion of each of these men. Freud was a brilliant, arrogant man who was so troubled by death that he could not foster a sexual life. On the other hand, Lewis was a self-hating, closet Christian for the first half of his life; his bitter feelings toward Freud were the product of his fantasy based sex life and Freud’s prescription against self gratification. I somehow doubt that this is reflective of their actual intellectual positions regarding God, god, or gods.
On June 18th, our friends at 350 (dot) org need you to help send a strong message to Washington. Interwebs users are encouraged to use the #endfossilfuelsubsidies on Twitter, Facebook, Reddit and other social media sharing platforms to express their resistance to the ongoing fuckery being perpetuated by the BIG OIL industry
Because lets face it, it isn't ok for our government to give a trillion dollars away to the very thing that is destryoing us all.
Speak up. Get involved. Do it.
By Chris Hedges
In every conflict, insurgency, uprising and revolution I have covered as a foreign correspondent, the power elite used periods of dormancy, lulls and setbacks to write off the opposition. This is why obituaries for the Occupy movement are in vogue. And this is why the next groundswell of popular protest—and there will be one—will be labeled as “unexpected,” a “shock” and a “surprise.” The television pundits and talking heads, the columnists and academics who declare the movement dead are as out of touch with reality now as they were on Sept. 17 when New York City’s Zuccotti Park was occupied. Nothing this movement does will ever be seen by them as a success. Nothing it does will ever be good enough. Nothing, short of its dissolution and the funneling of its energy back into the political system, will be considered beneficial.
Those who have the largest megaphones in our corporate state serve the very systems of power we are seeking to topple. They encourage us, whether on Fox or MSNBC, to debate inanities, trivia, gossip or the personal narratives of candidates. They seek to channel legitimate outrage and direct it into the black hole of corporate politics. They spin these silly, useless stories from the “left” or the “right” while ignoring the egregious assault by corporate power on the citizenry, an assault enabled by the Democrats and the Republicans. Don’t waste time watching or listening. They exist to confuse and demoralize you.
The engine of all protest movements rests, finally, not in the hands of the protesters but the ruling class. If the ruling class responds rationally to the grievances and injustices that drive people into the streets, as it did during the New Deal, if it institutes jobs programs for the poor and the young, a prolongation of unemployment benefits (which hundreds of thousands of Americans have just lost), improved Medicare for all, infrastructure projects, a moratorium on foreclosures and bank repossessions, and a forgiveness of student debt, then a mass movement can be diluted. Under a rational ruling class, one that responds to the demands of the citizenry, the energy in the street can be channeled back into the mainstream. But once the system calcifies as a servant of the interests of the corporate elites, as has happened in the United States, formal political power thwarts justice rather than advances it.
Our dying corporate class, corrupt, engorged on obscene profits and indifferent to human suffering, is the guarantee that the mass movement will expand and flourish. No one knows when. No one knows how. The future movement may not resemble Occupy. It may not even bear the name Occupy. But it will come. I have seen this before. And we should use this time to prepare, to educate ourselves about the best ways to fight back, to learn from our mistakes, as many Occupiers are doing in New York, Washington, D.C., Philadelphia and other cities. There are dark and turbulent days ahead. There are powerful and frightening forces of hate, backed by corporate money, that will seek to hijack public rage and frustration to create a culture of fear. It is not certain we will win. But it is certain this is not over.
“We had a very powerful first six months,” Kevin Zeese, one of the original organizers of the Occupy encampment in Freedom Plaza in Washington, D.C., said when I reached him by phone. “We impacted the debate. We impacted policy. We showed people they are not alone. We exposed the unfair economy and our dysfunctional government. We showed people they could have an impact. We showed people they could have power. We let the genie out of the bottle. No one will put it back in.”
The physical eradication of the encampments and efforts by the corporate state to disrupt the movement through surveillance, entrapment, intimidation and infiltration have knocked many off balance. That was the intent. But there continue to be important pockets of resistance. These enclaves will provide fertile ground and direction once mass protests return. It is imperative that, no matter how dispirited we may become, we resist being lured into the dead game of electoral politics.
“The recent election in Wisconsin shows why Occupy should stay out of the elections,” Zeese said. “Many of the people who organized the Wisconsin occupation of the Capitol building became involved in the recall. First, they spent a lot of time and money collecting more than 1 million signatures. Second, they got involved in the primary where the Democrats picked someone who was not very supportive of union rights and who lost to [Gov. Scott] Walker just a couple of years ago. Third, the general election effort was corrupted by billionaire dollars. They lost. Occupy got involved in politics. What did they get? What would they have gotten if they won? They would have gotten a weak, corporate Democrat who in a couple of years would be hated. That would have undermined their credibility and demobilized their movement. Now, they have to restart their resistance movement.”
“Would it not have been better if those who organized the occupation of the Capitol continued to organize an independent, mass resistance movement?” Zeese asked. “They already had strong organization in Madison, and in Dane County as well as nearby counties. They could have developed a Montreal-like movement of mass protest that stopped the function of government and built people power. Every time Walker pushed something extreme they could have been out in the streets and in the Legislature disrupting it. They could have organized general and targeted strikes. They would have built their strength. And by the time Walker faced re-election he would have been easily defeated.”
“Elections are something that Occupy needs to continue to avoid,” Zeese said. “The Obama-Romney debate is not a discussion of the concerns of the American people. Obama sometimes uses Occupy language, but he puts forth virtually no job creation, nothing to end the wealth divide and no real tax reform. On tax reform, the Buffett rule—that the secretary should pay the same tax rate as the boss—is totally insufficient. We should be debating whether to go back to the Eisenhower tax rates of 91 percent, the Nixon tax rate of 70 percent or the Reagan tax rate of 50 percent for the top income earners—not whether secretaries and CEOs should be taxed at the same rate!”
The Occupy movement is not finally about occupying. It is, as Zeese points out, about shifting power from the 1 percent to the 99 percent. It is a tactic. And tactics evolve and change. The freedom rides, the sit-ins at segregated lunch counters, the marches in Birmingham and the Montgomery bus boycott were tactics used in the civil rights movement. And just as the civil rights movement often borrowed tactics used by the old Communist Party, which long fought segregation in the South, the Occupy movement, as Zeese points out, draws on earlier protests against global trade agreements and the worldwide protests over the invasion of Iraq. Each was, like the Occupy movement, a global response. And this is a global movement.
We live in a period of history the Canadian philosopher John Ralston Saul calls an interregnum, a period when we are enveloped in what he calls “a vacuum of economic thought,” a period when the reigning ideology, although it no longer corresponds to reality, has yet to be replaced with ideas that respond to the crisis engendered by the collapse of globalization. And the formulation of ideas, which are always at first the purview of a small, marginalized minority, is one of the fundamental tasks of the movement. It is as important to think about how we will live and to begin to reconfigure our lives as it is to resist.
Occupy has organized some significant actions, including the May Day protests, the NATO protest in Chicago, an Occupy G8 summit andG8 protests in Thurmont and Frederick, Md. There are a number of ongoing actions—Occupy Our Homes, Occupy Faith, Occupy the Criminal Justice System, Occupy University, the Occupy Caravan—that protect the embers of revolt. Last week when Jamie Dimon, the CEO of JPMorgan Chase, testified before a U.S. Senate committee, he was confronted by Occupy protesters, including Deborah Harris, who lost her home in a JPMorgan foreclosure. But you will hear little if anything about these actions on cable television or in The Washington Post. Such acts of resistance get covered almost entirely in the alternative media, such as The Occupy Wall Street Journal and the Occupy Page of The Real News.
#yosoy132...portrait of a student uprising in mexico
“Our job is to build pockets of resistance so that when the flash point arrives, people will have a place to go,” Zeese said. “Our job is to stand for transformation, shifting power from concentrated wealth to the people. As long as we keep annunciating and fighting for this, whether we are talking about health care, finance, empire, housing, we will succeed.”
“We will only accomplish this by becoming a mass movement,” he said. “It will not work if we become a fringe movement. Mass movements have to be diverse. If you build a movement around one ethnic group, or one class group, it is easier for the power structure and the police to figure out what we will do next. With diversity you get creativity of tactics. And creativity of tactics is critical to our success. With diversity you bring to the movement different histories, different ideas, different identities, different experiences and different forms of nonviolent tactics.”
“The object is to shift people from the power structure to our side, whether it is media, business, youth, labor or police,” he went on. “We must break the enforcement structure. In the book ‘Why Civil Resistance Works,’ a review of resistance efforts over the last 100 years, breaking the enforcement structure, which almost always comes through nonviolent civil disobedience, increases your chances of success by 60 percent. We need to divide the police. This is critical. And only a mass movement that is nonviolent and diverse, that draws on all segments of society, has any hope of achieving this. If we can build that, we can win.”
This essay was first published in Truthdig.
A silent march against the NYPD's discriminatory "Stop-and-Frisk" policy. Thousands of people holding signs, and banners participated in the march down Fifth Avenue ending near Mayor Bloomberg's mansion on E.79th St.
(0:38) Geraldo Rivera of Fox News--apparently not understanding the concept of a silent march--was shushed when he tried narrating during the march.
A confession: I like to tweet.
When I come across something particularly sweet or peculiarly depressing, I feel better once I’ve shared it on Twitter.
Twitter was designed as an outlet for individuals, but we think it can also work for social movements. And so, today, we’re launching an effort to amplify our movement’s message on Twitter, for a truly important cause.
The world’s leaders are gathered in Rio for the “Earth Summit”, and we need to tell them to end fossil fuel subsidies. It’s going to be a Twitter Storm, and we need all the help we can get.
We know that world leaders aren't likely to achieve a comprehensive climate breakthrough in Rio -- we aren't expecting new binding rules that would slow the carbon emissions that are heating up our planet. But our governments could at least stop sending nearly a trillion dollars a year to the fossil fuel industry. If they did, it would help weaken the coal and oil and gas tycoons, and give renewable energy a fighting chance.
Ending fossil fuel subsidies would also stop wasting our money. Why on earth should taxpayers subsidize the richest industry on earth? It’s bad enough they wreck the planet, without us paying them a performance bonus for doing it.
So here’s the plan: we’re going to kick up a Twitter Storm. We need you to help create this storm by sending a message with the hashtag #EndFossilFuelSubsidies. We’ll be beaming your messages on famous landmarks in cities around the world, and a young team of climate activists will be on the ground in Rio to make sure world leaders hear us loud and clear.
Look -- sending tweets and emails alone will not win this fight. But we can’t go to jail or hold rallies every day. This is an easy way to make a statement. A loud one, if we all work together.
Bill McKibben (@billmckibben on Twitter)
P.S. The world record for tweets in a day was set earlier this year, with birthday greetings for the teen idol Justin Bieber.Let’s try to beat it.
By Subhankar Banerjee
What do Arctic drilling and drone killing have in common? They are both being decided by Barack Obama without public debate. Also oil is a common ground—drilling will produce it and drones will burn it—to kill people, animals, and habitats. Both issues must be debated publicly. You have read about drone killing, I’ll tell you about Arctic drilling.
The Hidden Risks of Pumping Waste Underground
By Abrahm Lustgarden [ProPublica]
Over the past several decades, U.S. industries have injected more than 30 trillion gallons of toxic liquid deep into the earth, using broad expanses of the nation's geology as an invisible dumping ground.
No company would be allowed to pour such dangerous chemicals into the rivers or onto the soil. But until recently, scientists and environmental officials have assumed that deep layers of rock beneath the earth would safely entomb the waste for millennia.
There are growing signs they were mistaken.
Records from disparate corners of the United States show that wells drilled to bury this waste deep beneath the ground have repeatedly leaked, sending dangerous chemicals and waste gurgling to the surface or, on occasion, seeping into shallow aquifers that store a significant portion of the nation's drinking water.
In 2010, contaminants from such a well bubbled up in a west Los Angeles dog park. Within the past three years, similar fountains of oil and gas drilling waste have appeared in Oklahoma and Louisiana. In South Florida, 20 of the nation's most stringently regulated disposal wells failed in the early 1990s, releasing partly treated sewage into aquifers that may one day be needed to supply Miami's drinking water.
There are more than 680,000 underground waste and injection wells nationwide, more than 150,000 of which shoot industrial fluids thousands of feet below the surface. Scientists and federal regulators acknowledge they do not know how many of the sites are leaking.
Federal officials and many geologists insist that the risks posed by all this dumping are minimal. Accidents are uncommon, they say, and groundwater reserves — from which most Americans get their drinking water — remain safe and far exceed any plausible threat posed by injecting toxic chemicals into the ground.
But in interviews, several key experts acknowledged that the idea that injection is safe rests on science that has not kept pace with reality, and on oversight that doesn't always work.
"In 10 to 100 years we are going to find out that most of our groundwater is polluted," said Mario Salazar, an engineer who worked for 25 years as a technical expert with the EPA's underground injection program in Washington. "A lot of people are going to get sick, and a lot of people may die."
The boom in oil and natural gas drilling is deepening the uncertainties, geologists acknowledge. Drilling produces copious amounts of waste, burdening regulators and demanding hundreds of additional disposal wells. Those wells — more holes punched in the ground — are changing the earth's geology, adding man-made fractures that allow water and waste to flow more freely.
"There is no certainty at all in any of this, and whoever tells you the opposite is not telling you the truth," said Stefan Finsterle, a leading hydrogeologist at Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory who specializes in understanding the properties of rock layers and modeling how fluid flows through them. "You have changed the system with pressure and temperature and fracturing, so you don't know how it will behave."
A ProPublica review of well records, case histories and government summaries of more than 220,000 well inspections found that structural failures inside injection wells are routine. From late 2007 to late 2010, one well integrity violation was issued for every six deep injection wells examined — more than 17,000 violations nationally. More than 7,000 wells showed signs that their walls were leaking. Records also show wells are frequently operated in violation of safety regulations and under conditions that greatly increase the risk of fluid leakage and the threat of water contamination.
Structurally, a disposal well is the same as an oil or gas well. Tubes of concrete and steel extend anywhere from a few hundred feet to two miles into the earth. At the bottom, the well opens into a natural rock formation. There is no container. Waste simply seeps out, filling tiny spaces left between the grains in the rock like the gaps between stacked marbles.
Many scientists and regulators say the alternatives to the injection process — burning waste, treating wastewater, recycling, or disposing of waste on the surface — are far more expensive or bring additional environmental risks.
Subterranean waste disposal, they point out, is a cornerstone of the nation's economy, relied on by the pharmaceutical, agricultural and chemical industries. It's also critical to a future less dependent on foreign oil: Hydraulic fracturing, "clean coal" technologies, nuclear fuel production and carbon storage (the keystone of the strategy to address climate change) all count on pushing waste into rock formations below the earth's surface.
The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, which has primary regulatory authority over the nation's injection wells, would not discuss specific well failures identified by ProPublica or make staffers available for interviews. The agency also declined to answer many questions in writing, though it sent responses to several. Its director for the Drinking Water Protection Division, Ann Codrington, sent a statement to ProPublica defending the injection program's effectiveness.
"Underground injection has been and continues to be a viable technique for subsurface storage and disposal of fluids when properly done," the statement said. "EPA recognizes that more can be done to enhance drinking water safeguards and, along with states and tribes, will work to improve the efficiency of the underground injection control program."
Still, some experts see the well failures and leaks discovered so far as signs of broader problems, raising concerns about how much pollution may be leaking out undetected. By the time the damage is discovered, they say, it could be irreversible.
"Are we heading down a path we might regret in the future?" said Anthony Ingraffea, a Cornell University engineering professor who has been an outspoken critic of claims that wells don't leak. "Yes."
In September 2003, Ed Cowley got a call to check out a pool of briny water in a bucolic farm field outside Chico, Texas. Nearby, he said, a stand of trees had begun to wither, their leaves turning crispy brown and falling to the ground.
Chico, a town of about 1,000 people 50 miles northwest of Fort Worth, lies in the heart of Texas' Barnett Shale. Gas wells dot the landscape like mailboxes in suburbia. A short distance away from the murky pond, an oil services company had begun pumping millions of gallons of drilling waste into an injection well.
Regulators refer to such waste as salt water or brine, but it often includes less benign contaminants, including fracking chemicals, benzene and other substances known to cause cancer.
The well had been authorized by the Railroad Commission of Texas, which once regulated railways but now oversees 260,000 oil and gas wells and 52,000 injection wells. (Another agency, the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality, regulates injection wells for waste from other industries.)
Before issuing the permit, commission officials studied mathematical models showing that waste could be safely injected into a sandstone layer about one-third of a mile beneath the farm. They specified how much waste could go into the well, under how much pressure, and calculated how far it would dissipate underground. As federal law requires, they also reviewed a quarter-mile radius around the site to make sure waste would not seep back toward the surface through abandoned wells or other holes in the area.
Yet the precautions failed. "Salt water" brine migrated from the injection site and shot back to the surface through three old well holes nearby.
"Have you ever seen an artesian well?" recalled Cowley, Chico's director of public works. "It was just water flowing up out of the ground."
Despite residents' fears that the injected waste could be making its way toward their drinking water, commission officials did not sample soil or water near the leak.
If the injection well waste "had threatened harm to the ground water in the area, an in-depth RRC investigation would have been initiated," Ramona Nye, a spokeswoman for Texas' Railroad Commission, wrote in an email.
The agency disputes Cowley's description of a pool of brine or of dead trees, saying that the waste barely spilled beyond the overflowing wells, though officials could not identify any documents or staffers who contradicted Cowley's recollections. Accounts similar to Cowley's appeared in an article about the leak in the Wise County Messenger, a local newspaper. The agency has destroyed its records about the incident, saying it is required to keep them for only two years.
After the breach, the commission ordered two of the old wells to be plugged with cement and restricted the rate at which waste could be injected into the well. It did not issue any violations against the disposal company, which had followed Texas' rules, regulators said. The commission allowed the well operator to continue injecting thousands of barrels of brine into the well each day. A few months later, brine began spurting out of three more old wells nearby.
"It's kind of like Whac-a-Mole, where one thing pops up and by the time you go to hit it, another thing comes up," Cowley said. "It was frustrating. ... If your water goes, what does that do to the value of your land?"
Deep well injection takes place in 32 states, from Pennsylvania to Michigan to California. Most wells are around the Great Lakes and in areas where oil and gas is produced: along the Appalachian crest and the Gulf Coast, in California and in Texas, which has more wells for hazardous industrial waste and oil and gas waste than any other state.
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