Activists Confront Keystone XL Threat

May17AuburnWA03I recently joined hundreds of other activists on a video chat hosted by 350.org to discuss recent developments in the saga of the hotly debated and much delayed construction of the Keystone XL pipeline. As you probably know by now, TransCanada wants to build the KXL pipeline to transport diluted bitumen (dilbit) from the tar sands of northern Alberta across the US Midwest heartland to the Gulf Coast for sale on the global oil market. TransCanada needs approval from the US State Department and President Obama to construct a pipeline across the US/Canada border. The approval process has been stalled for years due to persistent grassroots opposition and in recent months held up due to a lawsuit brought by landowners in Nebraska who successfully argued in lower courts that the planned route of the pipeline was illegally drawn and granted the builders improper use of eminent domain. While waiting for the Nebraska Supreme Court to decide whether to uphold the lower court’s decision, the permit for the pipeline’s path through South Dakota expired leaving the oil giant facing the dilemma of having no legal route for the pipeline while oil prices on the global market are plummeting cutting into their profit margin for a product that is the most expensive (and filthiest) fossil fuel to extract, transport and refine.

The most recent bit of political drama in this ongoing saga was played out in the lame duck Congress when Mary Landrieu, the embattled Democratic Senator from Louisiana, bet the catfish farm on a Hail Mary attempt to pass a bill that would have approved construction of the Keystone pipeline. The bill was defeated by a razor-thin margin of one vote, and Landrieu lost her seat in a December run-off to Republican challenger Bill Cassidy. 350.org credits this victory to citizen activists who made phone calls to fence-sitting senators as well as Occupy-style sit-ins at the offices of Senators Tom Carper of Delaware and Michael Bennet of Colorado at which 350 DC activists were arrested.

KleebOrganizer for 350.org Duncan Meisel introduced Jane Kleeb, Executive Director of Bold Nebraska. Kleeb informed listeners that the Nebraska Supreme Court decision could come soon, and expressed the belief that whatever the Court decides, the outcome will be bad for TransCanada. If the lower court decision is upheld, there is no legal route for the pipeline through Nebraska, but even if they strike down the lower court, the lawsuit has shone a light on risks to the environment that reveal shortcomings and omissions in the State Department’s Environmental Impact Statement which could solidify grassroots opposition and give Obama some political cover for a decision to reject the pipeline. One other possibility is that the Supreme Court could decide that the landowners do not have standing as plaintiffs and that could cause more delays and uncertainly in a legal process that has already held up the pipeline for several months. Kleeb is encouraged that President Obama has recently stated that building the pipeline poses catastrophic environmental risks while offering few jobs or other economic benefit and takes these statements as an indication that the President is poised to reject the pipeline outright if it lands on his desk, as seems likely to happen in the near future.

GoodtoothNext to speak was Dallas Goldtooth, Keystone XL Campaigner at the Indigenous Environmental Network. He described the situation in South Dakota where indigenous Lakota, Dakota and Sioux have strong legal and moral standing in opposing the re-permitting of the pipeline route through their lands. A hearing on January 6, 2015 could see TransCanada’s appeal to extend the permit dismissed on the grounds that the tribes were not properly consulted in the permitting process, a right that is established in federal law and the importance of which was recently cited in a speech by Interior Secretary Sally Jewell. If the permit is not extended, a lengthy new feasibility study would be required, giving both native and non-native landowners the opportunity to make their voices and opposition to the tar sands projects heard. Goldtooth and Meisel stressed that tar sands extraction is a vicious process that lays waste to pristine boreal wilderness, endangers wildlife, and is also destructive to human health and society as well. The increase in violence against women near the “man camps” similar projects have already created is a serious problem that bears consideration in the approval process.

Sara Shor, 350.org Keystone XL Campaign Manager, pointed out that Mitch McConnell, who will be Senate Majority Leader in 2015, has pledged to bring up another vote to approve the Keystone XL. We can expect such a bill to be tied to must-pass legislation in the manner seen with partisan give-away riders that were attached to the so-called CRomnibus bill in early December. Any such action, in addition to events unfolding in Nebraska and South Dakota, could trigger calls for activists to participate in anti-KXL actions all across the country and at very short notice. The NoKXL Pledge of Resistance, for instance, is prepared to engage in broadly distributed acts of civil disobedience as soon as the decision lands on the President’s desk. Asked what would happen if, despite all the efforts to oppose the Keystone XL, President Obama does approve the pipeline, Shor replied, “All hell will break loose. This pipeline is not getting built.”

Emboldened by the success of efforts to defeat Mary Landrieu’s last minute legislative maneuvers, opponents of the Keystone XL pipeline such as 350.org and their allies are confident that they have the know-how to handle whatever is thrown at them in the next 2 to 3 months, and they are calling on like-minded folks to join them and build their capacity for effective grassroots action. Visit any of the following websites for more information and to offer your support.

350.org – Stop Keystone XL Team: http://350.org/kxlteam

 

Bold Nebraska: http://boldnebraska.org

 

Indigenous Environmental Network: http://nokxldakota.org

 

NoKXL Pledge of Resistance: http://nokxl.org

Seattle May Day Mayhem – Pepper Spray and Flash Grenades

Videos @ Youtube – Free Speech Radio News Reports:
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ctGn7BDO35w
(Including voice of ABC News reporter Hanna Scott on being pepper sprayed.)
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6MdG5ECCgjk

Originally Published Wed May 01, 2013 at 10:19 PM PDT
@ Daily Kos

Seattle May Day Mayhem – Pepper Spray and Flash Grenades

by Mark Taylor-Canfield

Thousands of people marched in Seattle on May Day.

Labor unions brought large numbers out to an immigrants rights march organized by the group El Comite.

Although the main march was peaceful, a group of 100 to 200 protesters fought a moving battle with police starting downtown near Westlake Park and ending on Capitol Hill.

SPD officers used large amounts of pepper spray and flash/bang grenades.

A Walgreens on Capitol Hill had a broken window. Other property damage and broken windows were reported.

13 arrests for property damage and assault. 2 juveniles arrested.

Police report bottles, rocks, and metal pipes were thrown at them.

KIRO TV news reports that their reporters were attacked by protesters, and several suffered from the effects of the pepper spray.

These incidents are sure to continue the ongoing controversy over police crowd control policies and anarchist tactics. Last year’s events resulted in a federal grand jury, the jailing of four activists (in solitary confinement), an independent review of SPD actions, an internal investigation and the resignation of SPD chief John Diaz.

(Update: SPD reports 18 arrests.)

http://www.dailykos.com/story/2013/05/02/1206320/-Seattle-May-Day-Mayhem-Pepper-Spray-and-Flash-Grenades

Independent Report on May Day Critical of Seattle Police

Youtube video of news report here:
MTC FSRN Report_0001

Originally broadcast April 4, 2013 @ Free Speech Radio News on the Pacifica Network.
FSRN broadcasts on 110 stations globally!

Link to news report @ FSRN:
News Report For Free Speech Radio News on the Pacifica Network fsrn.org pacifica.org

Reporter: Mark Taylor-Canfield

“Seattle’s city council questioned the police chief on Wednesday, about his handling of last year’s May Day protests, in which eight people were arrested. An independent review of the protests found that the Seattle Police Department failed to practice adequate crowd control and officers were confused by conflicting orders. FSRN’S Mark Taylor-Canfield has more.”

“Authored by former Los Angeles Police Deputy Chief Michael Hillmann, the review focuses on the policing of a small independent march. On May Day 2012 demonstrators broke off from the main march and damaged property in downtown Seattle. Officers reported that they were given conflicting orders on how to engage protesters and make arrests. Hillman claims that police activity on May Day ‘significantly damaged the credibility of the Police Department’. In particular Hillman found that fellow officers criticized Assistant Police Chief Mike Sanford’s decision to enter a crowd of protesters alone to make an arrest. They told how Sanford then had to be rescued by other police officers.”

“The review also points out that Seattle Police officers have not received any new training on crowd control since demonstrations against the World Trade Organization took place in Seattle in 1999. The department’s handling of those protests was also widely criticized. At the time of the May Day protest the Seattle Police Department was under a US Dept of Justice investigation for use of excessive force. A federal grand jury is also currently investigating the protests.”

“Mark Taylor-Canfield, FSRN, Seattle.”

Paul Cienfuegos on Community Rights Ordinances

Five minutes and 20 seconds. Grab a cup of coffee and give Paul a listen.

Paul and I agree on a lot of things, but we both start from the point that single issue activism is not going to get the work done.

Paul is a Evergreen State College (TESC) alum, here is Paul’s website. He has done trainings in Olympia and Shelton on community rights and helped Salish Sea activists shut down the biomass projects a couple of years ago.

Global Warming – are we going to wake up and smell the carbon dioxide?

Big deal. Slow moving disaster. We can see it coming, like a slow moving avalanche, but we don’t appear to have the capacity to respond to slow moving disaster.

McKibben has some thoughts on the situation:

On Fixing The World, Or, Help George Carlin Stick It To God

Once again The Fates have come our way to provide a story, and once again, we have a contender for the “Ironic Story Of The Year”.

It’s got everything you need for serious irony: an irascible comedian who mocked religion at every opportunity, a city that loved him, and the rich coincidence of his having been born at the crossroads of New York City’s communities of religious education.

And that’s why, today, we’ll be talking about the effort to name the street right next to Manhattan’s Seminary Row…Carlin Street.

(And before we go further, a language warning: we’ll be quoting George Carlin liberally, and that means there may be present today certain of the seven words with which he created one of his best known routines. You are now officially warned.)

I’ve begun worshipping the Sun for a number of reasons. First of all, unlike some other gods I could mention, I can see the Sun. It’s there for me every day. And the things it brings me are quite apparent all the time: heat, light, food, a lovely day. There’s no mystery, no one asks for money, I don’t have to dress up, and there’s no boring pageantry. And interestingly enough, I have found that the prayers I offer to the Sun and the prayers I formerly offered to God are all answered at about the same 50-percent rate.

–George Carlin, from the book Brain Droppings

There is a peculiarity to life in Manhattan that exists nowhere else on Earth: for more than 120 years, two of the world’s most important seminary institutions, the Union Theological Seminary and The Jewish Theological Seminary, have been literally kitty-corner from each other, right there at Broadway and W 122nd St.

It is such a significant part of the culture of the community that W 122nd St is now officially known as Seminary Row, as it has been for over 40 years.

And just one block away is the place where George Carlin grew up, on W 121st. During his childhood the Catholic Carlin was an altar boy, and it has been suggested that all this religious exposure may have impacted his comedy:

Now, speaking of consistency, Catholics, which I was until I reached the age of reason, Catholics and other Christians are against abortions, and they’re against homosexuals. Well who has less abortions than homosexuals?! Leave these fucking people alone, for Christ sakes! Here is an entire class of people guaranteed never to have an abortion! And the Catholics and Christians are just tossing them aside! You’d think they’d make natural allies. Go look for consistency in religion. And speaking of my friends the Catholics, when John Cardinal O’Connor of New York and some of these other Cardinals and Bishops have experienced their first pregnancies and their first labor pains and they’ve raised a couple of children on minimum wage, then I’ll be glad to hear what they have to say about abortion. I’m sure it’ll be interesting. Enlightening, too. But, in the meantime what they ought to be doing is telling these priests who took a vow of chastity to keep their hands off the altar boys! Keep your hands to yourself, Father! You know? When Jesus said ‘Suffer the little children come unto me’, that’s not what he was talking about!

It’s not just the two seminaries, either, that would have influenced Carlin: Columbia University is immediately next door, as are The Manhattan School of Music/Julliard (The Julliard School later moved to Lincoln Center, but when Carlin lived on the block they had 1800 students enrolled), and The Riverside Church, which is presumably the exact place that set Carlin on his future path.

Fun Fact: Italian game design studio Molleindustria, the same folks who partnered with YesLab to produce Phone Story (the App that was yanked after one day at the App Store because it says a bit too much about how phones are made; it’s still available on the Android market), also created the game Operation: Pedopreist, which is one of several “Radical Games” that you can play online at their website.

So now comes before us Kevin Bartini (he’s the warm-up comic for “The Daily Show”), with an organizing effort to change W 121st to Carlin Street.

Bartini, who told the Village Voice that this is a “no-brainer”, says his interest is motivated not just by the fact that Carlin grew up in the neighborhood; he also wants to acknowledge the influence the neighborhood had on Carlin’s comedy:

“…and the Invisible Man has a special list of ten things that he does not want you to do, and if you do any of these ten things he has a special place, full of fire and smoke and burning and torture and anguish where he will send you to live and suffer and burn and choke and scream and cry, forever and ever, ‘til the end of time – but he loves you.”

A petition is now circulating, and after 6 days 3000 signatures had been collected…but this is George Carlin, and this is New York City, and, dammit, this is America, and I think we can do a lot better than that if we try, so do me a favor, sign the petition, and go show some love to someone who truly deserves the recognition.

You won’t have to wear a suit or a big hat, no one will be bowing or kneeling, and there won’t be a collection plate. Sacramental wine is encouraged; if you’d prefer sacramental pizza I’m sure no one’s going to complain – but if you have ‘em both together, make sure it’s not at a Sbarro or something.

I think we’ve enough for today, and there’s no need to drag this out when you have your mission, so let’s go get those signatures, and let’s get Carlin Street officially on the map.

And just think: if we succeed – it could well have been God’s will.
And what could be more ironic than that?

Celebrate Medicare's 46th Birthday on July 30 in Seattle

Come Celebrate Medicare’s 46th Birthday — Remarkably Successful!

No Cuts to Medicare, Medicaid and Social Security!

Profit-Driven Health Care is the Problem — Improved Medicare for All is the Solution!

Give Medicare a Birthday Present — Improved Medicare for ALL!

When: Saturday, July 30, Noon-2pm
Where: Safeco Field (1st & S Atlantic), to Pioneer Square, Federal Bldg and Victor Steinbrueck Park
What:  Medicare Birthday Party — March/Parade/Music/Street Theatre
Who: Physicians for National Health Plan-Western Wash, United for Single Payer,
Healthcare for All-WA and the WA State Alliance for Retired Americans
Contact: pnhpwesternwashington@comcast.net

Healthcare for All-WA and the WA State Alliance for Retired Americans