Category Archives: Politics

Study finds U.S. citizens want to see government action on climate change

For U.S. politicians, taking a solid stance on climate change is like the kiss of death. They avoid it like bad breath. However, a new study shows that more than half of the voters surveyed want to see their governmental representatives taking “unilateral action” to fight against climate change. A “unilateral” stance would be rather interesting for the U.S. government, seeing as how it consistently refuses to cooperate on this issue with the rest of the world.  Unfortunately, we cannot trust the US government to decide what kind of climate action to take, as President Obama has been quite clear that he considers fracked gas and nukes part of the climate solution.  The U.S. public needs to understand which methods really constitute as clean, sustainable energy and which ones are just politically safe shams, before they can demand real, just and ecologically appropriate action.  No fossil fuels, no false solutions,  just digging in to do the real work.

–The GJEP Team

Photo by David McNew/Getty Images

Photo by David McNew/Getty Images

A massive new study shows that voters are ready for the government to forge ahead even without an international agreement

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Filed under Climate Change, Politics, Uncategorized

Pentagon preparing for mass civil breakdown

By Nafeez Ahmed, June 2014. Source: The Guardian

Photo by Jason Reed/REUTERS

Photo by Jason Reed/REUTERS

A US Department of Defense (DoD) research programme is funding universities to model the dynamics, risks and tipping points for large-scale civil unrest across the world, under the supervision of various US military agencies. The multi-million dollar programme is designed to develop immediate and long-term “warfighter-relevant insights” for senior officials and decision makers in “the defense policy community,” and to inform policy implemented by “combatant commands.”

Launched in 2008 – the year of the global banking crisis – the DoD ‘Minerva Research Initiative’ partners with universities “to improve DoD’s basic understanding of the social, cultural, behavioral, and political forces that shape regions of the world of strategic importance to the US.”

Among the projects awarded for the period 2014-2017 is a Cornell University-led study managed by the US Air Force Office of Scientific Research which aims to develop an empirical model “of the dynamics of social movement mobilisation and contagions.” The project will determine “the critical mass (tipping point)” of social contagians by studying their “digital traces” in the cases of “the 2011 Egyptian revolution, the 2011 Russian Duma elections, the 2012 Nigerian fuel subsidy crisis and the 2013 Gazi park protests in Turkey.”

Twitter posts and conversations will be examined “to identify individuals mobilised in a social contagion and when they become mobilised.” Continue reading

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Filed under Climate Change, Political Repression, Politics

Sport shock doctrine

By Andalusia Knoll, June 11, 2014. Source: Upside Down World

 

Photo from Upside Down World

Photo from Upside Down World

Reviewed: Brazil’s Dance With the Devil: The World Cup, The Olympics and the Fight for Democracy by Dave Zirin, (Haymarket Books, May, 2014).

A piece of street art, depicting a crying boy with a plate that holds a soccer ball in place of food has gone viral, exposing Brazil’s popular discontent with the World Cup. While the mural was painted after sports commentator Dave Zirin wrote his latest book Brazil’s Dance With the Devil: The World Cup, The Olympics and the Fight for Democracy, the book contains an explanation of the image’s volatile history.  In Brazil’s Dance with the Devil, Zirin peels back the colorful FIFA curtain of publicity that currently blankets sporting sites across the globe to reveal the repression, deaths, displacement and corruption that paved the way to the 2014 World Cup, and the 2016 Rio de Janeiro Olympics to follow.

In this critical exposé, as in his other numerous books and articles, Zirin has the amazing ability to make sports interesting to those who have never been fans of spectator games. Brazil’s Dance with the Devil reveals a fascist history of the Olympics, a bleak history of the World Cup during military dictatorships, and the inspiring tales of thousands of people who struggled to keep the wrecking ball from demolishing their modest homes in the Rio poor marginalized hillside communities, called favelas.  Continue reading

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Filed under Political Repression, Politics, Waste

Brazil: strikes and protests greet World Cup

June 10, 2014. Source:WW4 Report

Photo from latinlink.usmediaconsulting.com

Photo from latinlink.usmediaconsulting.com

Transit workers started an open-ended strike in São Paulo on June 5, just one week before the city, Brazil’s largest, was to host the opening game of the June 12-July 13 World Cup soccer championship. According to the Subway Workers Union, the strike had paralyzed 30 of the city’s 60 subway stations as of June 6; some 20 million people live in the São Paulo metropolitan area, and the subways carry about 4.5 million riders each day. Angry riders smashed turnstiles the first day of the strike at the Itaquera station, near the Arena Corinthians, the site of the June 12 game. The next day, on June 6, police agents used nightsticks and tear gas on strikers at the central Ana Rosa station when they refused to move their picket line; at least three unionists were injured.

The strikers had rejected an 8.7% raise offered by the transit system’s management; they were also striking over safety and service issues. “It isn’t just a strike for our pay,” Camila Lisboa, a Subway Workers Union local leader, said at a meeting with leftist supporters. “We’re denouncing the corruption, the harassment of women, the constant failures. It’s the combination of these factors that makes the strike strong.” She said the strikers were using an open letter to riders to build support. Apparently no professional opinion surveys have been released on public reactions to the strike, but as of June 6 more than 77% of respondents to an online open-access poll at the R7 news website had said they backed the strikers. (CSP-Conlutas website, Brazil, June 6; La Jornada Mexico, June 6, June 7, both from unidentified wire services) Continue reading

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Filed under Political Repression, Politics

Never alone art auction

June 11, 2014. Source:  Never Alone Art

Image from http://neveraloneart.org/

Image from http://neveraloneart.org/

The second annual Never Alone online art auction launches today, June 11, the International Day of Solidarity with Marie Mason, Eric McDavid and all Eco-prisoners. Marie and Eric are two environmental and social justice activists who are both serving near 20 year sentences for their involvement in environmental struggle in the United States. All artworks will be exhibited and available for online purchase until June 30. Funds raised will be used to support Marie, Eric and other eco-prisoners’ needs.

There are 24 artists involved this year, including a number of prisoners who have contributed artworks from behind prison walls. All of the artworks focus on themes of wilderness, liberation, state captivity and our relationship with the natural world and other animals.

Marie Mason, a prolific visual artist and musician, has contributed two paintings from a restrictive unit inside Carswell Federal Prison in Texas. Her paintings depict aspects of the natural world that are shared with her by friends from the outside who are continuing the struggle to defend ecological systems. Another prisoner who has contributed artwork is Jose Heladio Villarreal, a hunger striker and long term resident of Pelican Bay prison’s notorious isolation unit.

Continue reading

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Fence in the sky — border wall cuts through native land

By Russell Morse, June 9, 2014. Source: The Native Press

Ofelia Rivas Photo by R. Furtado)

Ofelia Rivas
Photo by R. Furtado)

 

SANTA CRUZ, Ariz.
The swath of land in southern Arizona that bleeds into the northern Mexican state of Sonora is a sprawling, largely uninhabited, desert divided by mountains and spotted with shrubs. Driving down dusty roads with a punishing sun overhead, it seems almost lifeless.

But this region is home to the Tohono O’odham Nation, a tribe of 25,000 people, who have shared the land with the road runners, mountain lions, jaguars and wolves for over 6000 years. In 1853 the US Mexico border was redrawn, effectively cutting the O’odham Nation in half.

This border itself did not present grave consequences for the tribe, however, until the late 1990s, when the US Border Patrol developed a new strategy for Border enforcement in the southwest. At that time, operations Gatekeeper in San Diego, Hold the Line in El Paso and Safeguard: Arizona in Nogales shifted enforcement to urban areas. The object was to force migrants into desolate desert regions, where they would either be deterred by the terrain or easily apprehended in open spaces.

The only thing that’s changed, however, is where migrants are crossing. The narrow corridor they have been edged into goes right through the Tohono O’odham reservation.

This land is also where the proposed border fence would be built, isolating the communities of O’odham people on either side of the fence and threatening the animals and vegetation of the biologically diverse Sky Island region.

Tribal members and environmentalists there are not concerned with the politicized issue of undocumented immigration to the United States. Their concern is the preservation of the culture and habitat that have flourished here for thousands of years and now face decimation by the construction of a wall.

Every October, O’odham tribal members make a pilgrimage from the US side of their land to Magdalena, Sonora in Mexico side as part of their annual St Francis festival. The procession is part of a larger event, with music, food and dancing and is their largest tribal festival. Increased border enforcement in the past twenty years has restricted this movement, but they still made the annual procession. Until this year.

On October second, the electrical lines to an O’odham community in Mexico were cut, leaving them without power. A tribal member decided to drive to the US side to get some generators so the celebration could go on as planned. As he was driving, his truck was shot at.

The man’s sister, Ofelia Rivas, along with most tribal members, is convinced that the cut lines and the shooting are related, perpetrated by drug smugglers who have set up operations on O’odham land and are trying to intimidate the residents.

Ofelia is a tribal elder and she has watched the impact that increased border security has had on her people’s land. Aside from the aggression from smugglers, she’s had to endure harassment by Border Patrol officers restricting movement on traditional routes. “One of the main things is that we are impacted by the immigration policies and we’re not immigrants,” she says. “We have to carry documents to prove who we are.”

Ofelia tells a story of one Border Patrol encounter that turned into terror for her and her family. She was with her daughter and grandson, driving home from an all night dance when they were pulled over. “Right away they said ‘Get out, get out’ because I’m in the back seat and I’m brown skinned and I don’t talk English too well, you know.” She asked why she had to get out of the car and the agent asked whether she was a US citizen or a Mexican citizen. She answered, “I’m an O’odham don’t you know you’re on my land? You should have some respect.”

At this point, Ofelia recalls, the officer got angry, unclipped his pistol and put it to her head, demanding that she say whether she is a Mexican or a US citizen. He said if she didn’t answer, he would handcuff her and have her deported. “I said where are you gonna deport me to? Mexico is my territory. My father’s community is there. O’odham community is there.” Ofelia shakes her head. “By then my daughter is crying, my grandson is crying and I can’t cry because I’m really angry but I’m very much afraid.”

Then another Border Patrol truck pulled up and the agent accosting Ofelia put his gun in his holster. They were promptly let go.

The terrain in this corner of the continent is referred to as the Sky Island Mountains. The name alludes to the natural phenomenon of lush, vegetated mountains surrounded by a sea of desert. It is considered the most biologically diverse region in North America, connecting desert, tropics and mountains.

Matt Skroch is the executive director of the Sky Island Alliance, a non profit organization which dedicates itself to the preservation of the region. Most of their energy now is spent trying to raise awareness to the importance of what they call “wildlife connectivity” across the border, which he says would be devastated by the construction of a wall.

“The region is defined in both the United States and in Mexico,” Matt explains. “It’s one unique biological region that spans the international border. In that sense, it’s very much connected. The Sky Islands to the north of the border are connected geographically, topographically, biologically, ecologically with the mountains south of the border. And its imperative that permeability of the landscape remains so that our web of life, our plants and animals are able to migrate back and forth.”

Sergio Avila, a wildlife biologist for the Sky Island Alliance, uses the example of the jaguar — an animal native to the region — to explain his position.

“Animals don’t know about borders, different countries, languages or visas. So anything that prevents the animals from moving is gonna be a problem, no matter what side the animals are at. . . It’s just dividing the same region. Its’ not going to be a matter of well, what side is the jaguar in? Is it in the US side? Are we going to keep it in the US? Or is he gonna stay in Mexico? It is not good to leave it in one side or the other. We shouldn’t have to choose for the animal.”

Beyond the abuse and the fear, Ofelia Rivas is most troubled by the prospect of the construction of a fence. “We don’t agree with this wall,” she said. “It’s like a knife in our mother (earth). These metal things are going to go in our mother and we can’t pull them out.”

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Filed under Indigenous Peoples, Migration/Migrant Justice, Political Repression, Politics

Kiribati President purchases ‘worthless’ resettlement land as precaution against rising sea

By Christopher Pala, June 9, 2014. Source: IPS

 

Eparama Kelo, a retired teacher, said a Fiji newspaper had recently reported that the plan was to bring in 18,000 to 20,000 Kiribatis to Vanua Levu. Photo by Christopher Pala/IPS

Eparama Kelo, a retired teacher, said a Fiji newspaper had recently reported that the plan was to bring in 18,000 to 20,000 Kiribatis to Vanua Levu. Photo by Christopher Pala/IPS

NAVIAVIA, Fiji, Jun 9 2014 (IPS) – You can count the inhabitants of this isolated, tidy village of multi-coloured houses and flower bushes among global warming’s first victims – but not in the usual sense.

They are descendants of labourers from the Solomon Islands who came to Fiji to work on the coconut plantations in the 19th century. In 1947, they were invited to move onto a large one called the Natoavatu Estate that the Anglican Church once inherited and were told they could stay there indefinitely as long as they practiced the Anglican faith.

In late May, the Church sold most of the 2331.3-hectare estate to the island nation of Kiribati, leaving the 270 villagers, who said they used 283 hectares to feed themselves, with only 125 hectares.

“We can’t live on just 300 acres [125 hectares],” said the village headman, Sade Marika.

Anote Tong, the president of Kiribati, said he bought land in Vanua Levu, Fiji’s second-largest island, so that his 103,000 people will have some high ground to go to when a rising sea makes his nation of 33 low-lying coral atolls unliveable. Continue reading

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Filed under Climate Change, Climate Justice, Politics

Obama climate plan: too little, too late

By Bill Weinberg, June 5, 2014. Source: WW4 Report

Photo by ssppjournal.blogspot.com

Photo by ssppjournal.blogspot.com

For the first time, the US Environmental Protection Agency has proposed to limit emissions of the greenhouse gas carbon dioxide from existing power plants, the single largest source of carbon pollution in the United States. The response has been predictable. Environment News Service notes: “Democrats and public health and environmental groups rejoiced in the proposal of a measure they have advocated for years to fight climate change, but Republicans cried doom, warning that the rule would destroy the American economy.” The New York Times writes: “[E]nvironmental advocates praised the proposed rule for its breadth and reach while the coal industry attacked it as a symbol of executive overreach that could wreak economic havoc.” The Daily Beast‘s Jason Mark dubbed the program “Obamacare for the Air” because both plans are “numbingly complex,” “based on a market system,” “likely to transform a key sector of the economy,” and “guaranteed to be intensely polarizing.” In other words, a market-based plan is being attacked by the right as green totalitarianism. This would be perverse enough if the plan’s goals were anywhere close to sufficient to actually address the climate crisis—which, again predictably, they are not.

Power plants that burn fossil fuels account for roughly one-third of all greenhouse gas emissions in the United States. There are currently no national limits on carbon dioxide emissions, although limits are in place for levels of arsenic, mercury, sulfur dioxide, nitrogen oxides, and particle pollution emitted by power plants. The Clean Power Plan, as it is being called, allows states various ways to meet its proposed carbon dioxide emissions cuts, including market-based carbon-trading programs such as those already in place in 10 states. The target for the cuts is 30% nationwide below 2005 levels by 2030. Continue reading

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Filed under Ending the Era of Extreme Energy, Energy, False Solutions to Climate Change, Politics