Earth Day greenwash: API front group sponsors pro-Keystone XL event

By Steve Horn, April 22, 2014. Source: DeSmog Blog

Gen. James Jones; Photo: Wikimedia Commons

Gen. James Jones; Photo: Wikimedia Commons

The political carnival that is the prelude to the Iowa caucuses has started over a year and a half early. At the center of it this time around: a game of political hot potato over the northern leg of TransCanada‘s Keystone XL tar sands pipeline.

American Petroleum Institute (API) deployed one of its paid consultants — former Obama Administration National Security Advisor General James “Jim” Jones — to deliver an Earth Day address in the home state of the presidential caucuses at Drake University in Des Moines, Iowa.

James Jones used his time on the podium to promote the KeystoneXL tar sands pipeline, which another James — retired NASA climatologist James Hansen — once called a “fuse to the biggest carbon bomb on the planet.”

“General James Jones…will discuss the benefits of the pipeline initiative, including more jobs, less dependence on foreign oil, and cheaper energy costs for Americans,” explained an April 15 Drake University press release promoting the event.
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Filed under Actions / Protest, Ending the Era of Extreme Energy, False Solutions to Climate Change, Greenwashing, Tar Sands

Chile: Was Valparaíso fire a “natural disaster”?

April 20, 2014. Source: Weekly News Update on the Americas

The central Chilean port city of Valparaíso remained under military control as of Apr. 15, three days after forest fires began sweeping into some of the city’s working-class neighborhoods, leaving at least 15 people dead and destroying 2,900 homes. Interior Minister Rodrigo Penailillo said the government hoped to have the fires under control by Apr. 16, but the national forestry agency indicated that it might take the 5,000 firefighters and other personnel in the city as long as 20 days to extinguish the fires completely. Some 12,500 people are now without homes in Valparaíso; this disaster follows an 8.2-magnitude earthquake in northern Chile that killed five people on Apr. 1 and made 2,635 homes uninhabitable.

Declared a World Heritage City in 2004 by the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO), Valparaíso is located in an area prone to forest fires. But experts and reporters said the extent of the devastation resulted less from natural conditions than from political failures. Witnesses reported that the firefighters–all unpaid volunteers, according to Chilean historian Sergio Grez–were slow to arrive when the fires started on the afternoon of Apr. 12, and they were equipped only with shovels and one truck. Driven by strong winds, the fires spread quickly through the close-packed wooden structures in the poorer neighborhoods, made vulnerable by decades of unplanned growth. Roads were often too narrow for fire engines, and there was no running water for fire hoses in the affected areas. Helicopters came with water hours later.

“We have been the builders and architects of our own dangers,” Valparaíso mayor Jorge Castro admitted on Apr. 13. Chilean president Michelle Bachelet told the national daily El Diario de Cooperativa on Apr. 15 that her government would try “to rebuild in a more orderly manner.” “It’s not enough to reinstall houses or support families,” she said. “We have to do something more substantive.” (El Mostrador (Chile) 4/14/14Les InRocks (France) 4/14/14US News & World Report 4/15/14 from AP)

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Brushing teeth with sewer water next step as Texas faces drought

Note: Desperate times call for desperate measures…

-The GJEP Team

By Darrell Preston, April 21, 2014. Source: Bloomberg

Photo: Torin Halsey/Wichita Falls Times Record News/AP Photo

Photo: Torin Halsey/Wichita Falls Times Record News/AP Photo

Pastor Bob McCartney of First Baptist Church tries to love his neighbor as himself. He’s just not thrilled that Wichita Falls will soon have him drinking water that once swirled down his neighbor’s toilet.

The Texas city of more than 104,000, suffering the worst drought on record, is about to become the first place in the U.S. to treat sewage and pump it directly back to residents. People who live in Wichita Falls, northwest of Dallas on the Oklahoma border, say they’ll buy more bottled water and try not to think about what’s flowing through their pipes when they bathe, brush their teeth and make soup.

“The idea is a bit grotesque,” said McCartney, 48, who has led prayer vigils for rain. “I’m not crazy about it.”

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Filed under Climate Change, Pollution, Water

Horses, teepees arrive on Mall for KXL protest

By Darren Goode, April 22, 2014. Source: Politico

Horses, Daryl Hannah, sacred fires and Neil Young — these are some of the things you’re likely to see on the National Mall starting Tuesday as part of the latest protest against the Keystone XL pipeline.

Keystone Pipeline Protest

Things kick off Tuesday morning with a short 24-horse ride from the Capitol. Photo: AP Photo

The “Reject and Protect” protest is a weeklong event hosted by the Cowboy and Indian Alliance, a group of ranchers, farmers and leaders of seven Native American tribes. Protesters said activists also plan to project anti-pipeline messages onto the Environmental Protection Agency on Thursday night, hold an interfaith ceremony outside the Georgetown home of Secretary of State John Kerry and stage an unspecified “bold and creative” bit of civil disobedience.

They’re estimating that as many as 5,000 activists will take part in a march past the Capitol on Saturday. The rest of the week is expected to be more intimate.

Things kick off Tuesday morning with a short 24-horse ride from the Capitol to a reserved area near the Reflecting Pool. The Indigo Girls will perform two songs as a ceremonial teepee is erected “that will have a clear message to the president on it,” promised Jane Kleeb, director of Bold Nebraska, the state’s leading anti-pipeline group.
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Filed under Actions / Protest, Climate Change, Ending the Era of Extreme Energy, Indigenous Peoples, Oil, Tar Sands

Klamath tribal members protest “celebratory” signing of agreement

April 21, 2014. Source: Warrior Publications

klamath-protest-1U.S. Department of Interior Secretary Sally Jewell, State of Oregon Governor John Kitzhaber, State of California Governor Jerry Brown, Oregon Senator Ron Wyden, Oregon Senator Jeff Merkley, Klamath Tribes elected officials and Klamath Basin irrigators held a “celebratory” signing of the Upper Klamath Basin Comprehensive Agreement last Friday at Collier Park, 4 miles north of Chiloquin.  With strong support from Senator Wyden, he stated “I am going to introduce in the first few days of May, legislation in partnership with Senator Merkley to make this agreement law.”

But the “celebration” was not held without opposition.  Members and descendants of the Klamath, Modoc and Yahooskin tribes came together to object to the UKBCA stating that tribal membership had less than a month to review the 93 page document. Tribal Council only allowed 19 days from the mailing of the ballots by the election company to the deadline for return.

Although their addresses are current and updated, a large portion of membership either did not receive a ballot or did not did receive a ballot in time to cast a vote before the deadline. Therefore, membership feels proper voting procedure was not implemented and they did not have adequate time to make an informed decision in the referendum vote, which had a deadline of April 9th 2014 postmarked by 9 am.

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New Photo Essay Documenting Environmental and Social Struggles and Direct Actions From the 80s and 90s Released

Note: Orin Langelle is the co-founder and Board Chair for Global Justice Ecology Project

By Anne Petermann, Executive Director, Global Justice Ecology Project

Buffalo, NY – Earth Day 2014–Orin Langelle today released a new photo essay Defending Earth/Stopping Injustice – Struggles for Justice: late 1980s to late 90s” on his Langelle Photography website.

38-forest-activist-on-tripodOver the last four decades, Orin Langelle, a photographer who formally trained at the International Center of Photography in Manhattan, has uniquely woven together photojournalism and activism, with astonishing results. His newly released body of work covering more than fifteen years beautifully illustrates this accomplishment. The photos in this essay document direct action campaigns for both social, ecological and economic justice issues, as well as Indigenous Peoples’ struggles to protect their traditional lands. The fact that he is not just a photographer but also an activist has enabled him to gain access to these struggles in ways few others have.

Langelle explained the reason for this. “Because I approach my role as not merely documenting the struggle for social and ecological justice, but being an active part of it, I have been able to garner the trust of many of the people I have documented, allowing me access that would not have been possible otherwise. In this way, I have been able to expose the truth that is so often hidden by the powers of injustice.”

But, he points out, his photos are not meant just to expose injustice, they are meant to change it. “The photos in this essay document history. They counter the societal amnesia from which we collectively suffer—especially with regard to the history of social and ecological struggles. But this photo essay is also a call out to inspire new generations to participate in the making of a new history.  For there has been no time when such a call has been so badly needed,” he said.

Aziz Choudry, Assistant Professor in the Department of Integrated Studies in Education at McGill University in Montreal explains why the combination of activism and photojournalism is so important,

“Langelle’s unique work documents hidden and forgotten histories of the resistance against the war on the planet and the majority of its population. His images provide glimpses of possibilities– when ordinary people act collectively to fight imperialism, war and colonialism, and confront ecological devastation, to build a different world.

“Combining the passionate eye of a seasoned photojournalist, an organizer’s sensibility, and an unwavering anti-capitalist perspective, Langelle’s inspiring photography simultaneously zooms in on the soul of the struggle, and zooms out to take us beyond the image in front of us, willing us to address the root causes at the heart of the matter, rather than offer band-aid solutions,” Choudry added.

On the question of photojournalism and objectivity, Langelle says, “I take my responsibility as a concerned photographer very seriously.  Great journalists like John Reed and photojournalists like Robert Capa told the truth, and did not worry about being ‘objective.’  The myth of objective journalism, where the truth must be counterbalanced by the untruth has no place in a just society, especially when corporate propaganda already dominates so much of the media.”

Many of the campaigns documented in this photo essay had successful outcomes, including the campaign that stopped the killing of dolphins by industrial tuna fishing, the succession of direct actions that helped rescind the death warrant for political prisoner Mumia Abu-Jamal, a moratorium won against the aerial spraying of toxic herbicides on Vermont forests, the permanent cessation of all logging on Illinois state forests, and the campaign that stopped construction of hydroelectric dams on Cree territory near James Bay, Quebec.

The photos were taken all around the world, from the US, to Tasmania, Australia, to England, as well as on Indigenous Peoples’ territories in northern Quebec, Chiapas, Mexico and the remote reaches of Nicaragua.

Author and poet Diana Anholt explained what sets Langelle’s photos apart. “Few photographers possess the ability to convey the essence of a place with the authority and finesse of Orin Langelle. When I set out in search of an image for the cover of  ‘Lives of Straw,’ my collection of poetry which deals with the struggle for survival in Mexico—survival in every sense of that word— physical, spiritual and economic— it was all I could do to locate an image which didn’t include a piñata, a burro, mariachis…  By sheer accident I stumbled on the one that summed up the entire Mexican experience I was attempting to convey: A man bearing a burden. The graffiti on the wall behind him bore a political message: Libertad a Presuntos Zapatistas. (Liberty to Suspected Zapatistas)

“This was the Mexico I know and write about and Orin Langelle had captured more than an evocative image of the country.  He had captured its soul.”

Most recently Langelle became a part of the Critical Information Collective as a means to not only distribute his own historical photographs more widely, but to collect images from photographers covering struggles all over the world. Regarding his joining the collective, CIC Co-Director Ronnie Hall said, “Critical Information Collective is delighted to be joined by Orin Langelle, seasoned photojournalist and activist. He brings a wealth of communications and campaign skills and experience to the collective, and will help to launch and develop our new environmental and social justice image library.”

Orin Langelle may not be a combat photographer, but since 1972 he has risked his safety and well being to cover the war on communities and the land, sometimes in remote territories deep in the jungle or in communities imminently threatened by military or paramilitary invasion. There are few people who have been as dedicated to the movement for change or for as long as Orin Langelle. The photos in his new essay provide a powerful window into that lifetime of work.

Langelle’s photographs have appeared in numerous print and online publications including La Jornada, USA Today, Z Magazine, Race Poverty & the Environment, New Internationalist, Time Magazine, The Progressive, Christian Science Monitor, Earth Island Journal, Seedling, Radical Anthropology, Earth First! Journal, Climate Connections, World War 4 Report, Toward Freedom, UpsideDown World, plus several books. In 2010 his photographs illustrated the book covers of  Learning from the Ground Up, Indigenous Knowledge And Learning In Asia/Pacific And Africa, Towards Climate Justice and most recently, Lives of Straw.

Over the last decade Langelle’s photography has been exhibited in New York City, Boston, Washington, DC, Madison (WI), San Francisco, Santa Cruz (CA), Eugene (OR), Hinesburg, Burlington and Plainfield (VT), Buffalo, NY, Amsterdam, The Netherlands, Copenhagen, Denmark, Warsaw, Poland and Bali, Indonesia.

His work has also been displayed in the Ayoreo indigenous community, Campo Loro, in the Gran Chaco region of Paraguay, and the indigenous community of Amador Hernandez, in the Lacandon jungle of Chiapas, Mexico.

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Chile: Water activist to be jailed for ‘slander’

April 13, 2014. Source: Weekly News Update on the Americas

On Apr. 7 a court in La Ligua, in Chile’s Petorca province, Valparaíso region, convicted agronomist Rodrigo Mundaca of slander and sentenced him to 541 days in prison for accusing former government minister Edmundo Pérez Yoma of water usurpation. Mundaca, the secretary of the Movement in Defense of Water, Land and the Environment (Modatima), also faces a fine. According to current Modatima spokesperson Luis Soto, the court’s decision won’t stop the group’s activist work. He said Modatima would take the case “to the Valparaíso Appeals Court, and if we aren’t successful there, we’ll go to the Supreme Court.”

Pérez Yoma is a Christian Democratic Party (PDC) politician who served twice as defense minister under former president Eduardo Frei Ruiz-Tagle (1994-2000) and then as interior minister in the first term (2006-2010) of current president Michelle Bachelet. He owns 90% of an agricultural firm, Sociedad Agrícola El Cóndor Ltda. Modatima says the company has taken water illegally from the Los Ángeles estuary for its crops, depriving local farmers and small businesses of the resource, which is scarce in much of Chile. The group has made the same accusation against Agrícola San Ignacio, owned by Ignacio Alamos, and Agrícola Iguana, owned by Marcelo Trivelli. Apparently Pérez Yoma sued for slander after Mondaca aired the charges on CNN Chile during a 2012 interview. (El Ciudadano (Chile) 4/5/14Radio Universidad de Chile 4/8/14Modatima communiqué 4/9/14)

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Poland uses Ukraine crisis to push coal

By Claudia Ciobanu, April 20, 2014. Source: Inter Press Service

 Environmentalists protesting against coal outside the Polish Ministry of Economy. Photo: Claudia Ciobanu/IPS.

Environmentalists protesting against coal outside the Polish Ministry of Economy. Photo: Claudia Ciobanu/IPS.

A European ‘energy union’ plan proposed by Polish Prime Minister Donald Tusk as an EU response to the crisis in Ukraine could be a Trojan horse for fossil fuels.

On account of Poland’s proximity and deep historical ties to Ukraine, the country’s centre-right government led by Donald Tusk has assumed a prominent position in attempts to ease the crisis in Ukraine. Notoriously, Foreign Minister Radoslaw Sikorski helped negotiate a February deal between then Ukrainian president Viktor Yanukovych and opposition leaders of Euromaidan, the name given to the pro-EU protests in Kiev.

 The Polish government’s assertiveness came with quick electoral gains. According to a poll conducted in early April by polling agency TNS Polska, Tusk’s Civic Platform for the first time in years took a lead in voters’ preferences over the conservative Peace and Justice Party of Jaroslaw Kaczynski.

“Not only is Civic Platform back in the lead, but also more Poles are ready to vote and vote for the government,” Lukasz Lipinski, an analyst at think tank Polityka Insight in Warsaw, told IPS. “All opposition parties now want to move the debate [ahead of the May 25 European elections] to domestic issues because on those it is much easier to criticise the Civic Platform after six years of government.”

Yet Tusk’s executive insists on Ukraine because of the benefits the topic can still bring. In the last weekend of March, the prime minister announced a Polish proposal for a European energy union that would make Europe resilient to crises like the Russian-Ukrainian conflict.

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Filed under Climate Change, Coal, Ending the Era of Extreme Energy, Green Economy, Politics

Four years after the Deepwater Horizon oil spill, the Gulf is still suffering

By Katie Valentine, April 20, 2014. Source: Think Progress

PJ Hahn, Coastal Zone Manager for Plaquemines Parish, examines oil along the shoreline of Bay Jimmy, which was heavily impacted by the Deepwater Horizon oil spill, in Plaquemines Parish, La., Friday, Sept. 27, 2013. Photo: AP Photo/Gerald Herbert

PJ Hahn, Coastal Zone Manager for Plaquemines Parish, examines oil along the shoreline of Bay Jimmy, which was heavily impacted by the Deepwater Horizon oil spill, in Plaquemines Parish, La., Friday, Sept. 27, 2013.
Photo: AP Photo/Gerald Herbert

In his 34 years living in Louisiana, Ryan Lambert can’t remember ever seeing young, dead dolphins on his trips out in the Gulf. In just the last few months, however, he says he’s seen two.

Lambert, who owns a charter fishing company in Louisiana, told ThinkProgress he’s worried that the dying dolphins he’s still seeing point to lingering effects of the Deepwater Horizon disaster, which four years ago killed 11 people and spewed 210 million gallons of oil into the Gulf of Mexico.

“We still see little telltale signs,” he said. “There’s crabs with holes in their shells we’re seeing that we haven’t seen before, and I’ve never seen baby dolphins die.”
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Study: Fuels from corn not better than gas

By Dina Cappiello, AP, April 21, 2014. Source: Yahoo News

Photo: AP Photo/The University of Nebraska

Photo: AP Photo/The University of Nebraska

Biofuels made from the leftovers of harvested corn plants are worse than gasoline for global warming in the short term, a study shows, challenging the Obama administration’s conclusions that they are a much cleaner oil alternative and will help combat climate change.

 A $500,000 study paid for by the federal government and released Sunday in the peer-reviewed journal Nature Climate Change concludes that biofuels made with corn residue release 7 percent more greenhouse gases in the early years compared with conventional gasoline.

While biofuels are better in the long run, the study says they won’t meet a standard set in a 2007 energy law to qualify as renewable fuel.

The conclusions deal a blow to what are known as cellulosic biofuels, which have received more than a billion dollars in federal support but have struggled to meet volume targets mandated by law. About half of the initial market in cellulosics is expected to be derived from corn residue.
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Filed under Bioenergy / Agrofuels, Climate Change, Ending the Era of Extreme Energy, False Solutions to Climate Change, Industrial agriculture