Tuesday, June 20, 2017

Re-energized, Revitalized Revolution!

Re-energized, Revitalized Revolution!
by Coast Watcher

When British Prime Minister Theresa May called the snap UK general election for June 8, she thought the result would be a cut-and-dried victory for her Conservative Party. Most political pundits agreed with her. Given the mess building up in the wake of the Brexit referendum, May was relying on a bounce in popularity to give her the mandate for another five years as Prime Minister. In that time she planned to negotiate Britain’s exit from the European Union and sell the National Health Service off to private, that is, American corporations.

It seemed she wouldn’t encounter much resistance. Labour, the other main party in UK politics, appeared sunk in a quagmire of Neoliberal Third Way policies, the decaying legacy of previous Prime Ministers Tony Blair and his successor Gordon Brown. Under their watch, Labour abandoned its historical origins in the working class of Great Britain and took up an amorphous position somewhere in the center-right of UK politics. Discredited and devalued since the strike-riddled 60s, 70s and early 80s, it was thought the party’s heyday as the champion of ordinary Britons had passed. 

May and the pundits alike reckoned without Labour Party leader Jeremy Corbyn, MP.

For years Corbyn struggled mightily against the inertia in his party to drag it back to its original place on the Left. To most peoples’ amazement he succeeded. His efforts were rewarded beyond anyone’s wildest dreams when the results of the election began coming in. 

Unlike more recent general elections, 68.7% of the voting public turned out on June 8. Over the course of the day, the Conservative Party lost thirteen seats and failed to reach the 326 seats needed to win the election. They won 318 seats at 42.4% of the vote. Labour on the other hand gained thirty seats, mostly at Conservative expense, coming in at 262 seats and 40% of the vote. Neither party gained the majority needed to win, resulting in a hung parliament – but Jeremy Corbyn was a mere 2,227 votes away from becoming prime minister. What is most significant about the election is that 72% of voters under the age of thirty voted Labour.

Hung parliaments, where no one party has sufficient seats to form a government, are not uncommon in British politics. Conservative prime minister Edward Heath formed such a government after failing to make the majority needed in the 1970s. However, this hung parliament has left Theresa May in a vulnerable position. It’s not uncommon for party leaders who’ve suffered such a result to resign. So far her party appears to be backing her, but she needed to do a deal with one of the other parties in order to form a minority government and survive as PM. 

The Scottish Nationalist Party (SNP) wasn’t interested. It took a beating in the polls, losing 21 seats to come in at 35. The Liberal Democratic Party gained a modest four seats, making it the fourth largest party in Parliament. It had formed a coalition government with the Conservatives in David Cameron’s time as prime minister, but expressed little interest in renewing the deal. The Liberal Democratic Party hasn’t formed a government in its own right since 1923.

That left May with the option of approaching the fifth largest party, the Democratic Unionist Party (DUP) of Northern Ireland, which gained two seats to come in at 10 overall. It would still not give her the numbers needed to form a majority government, but it would at least give her a useful voting bloc to push her policies through. In a situation straight out of a Whitehall farce, May first said a deal had been reached, then five hours later had to retract the claim when the DUP renounced it, angry  she was attempting to bounce them into an agreement before they were ready. Outgoing Irish Republic prime minster, Taoiseach Enda Kenny, entered the fray when he said any such arrangement must not jeopardize the Good Friday agreement, the treaty which brought an end to the Troubles after decades of strife between the British Government and the Provisional IRA. Given the known extremism of the DUP, it’s unlikely they’ll heed his warning. There’s also the matter of the DUP’s extremist right-wing views on issues such as abortion, climate change and gay rights among others.

Jeremy Corbyn is in an excellent position to take advantage of the situation. Parliament sat on Tuesday, June 13 for the first time since the election, and Corbyn received a standing ovation from his fellow party members. Theresa May will present her plans through the Queen’s Speech, scheduled for June 19. Corbyn intends to do the same, presenting an alternative Queen’s Speech laying out his party’s plans. It could turn the whole into a manifesto popularity contest.

Edward Heath’s minority government lasted a mere two weeks before collapsing, provoking another election. The same could well happen to Theresa May, forcing her resignation and a new general election, probably in the autumn.

What is most telling about this is that just days after the election, membership of the Labour Party has surged to over 800,000 from a poor 150,000 members at the end of the so-called New Labour movement brought in by Tony Blair. A million members is certainly within reach. This is unprecedented if you follow the wise head-wagging by pundits on both sides of the Atlantic who predicted Corbyn would destroy the Labour Party.

Secondly, a new poll held by Business Insider has found that in the event of another election Labour would win by a landslide. What does this all mean?

“The Labour Party won seats not by moving to the Right, but by standing up to the ruling class,” said US Senator Bernie Sanders.

Under Jeremy Corbyn’s leadership, Labour shed its neoliberal guise and returned to its working class roots. Such a move has been welcomed with overwhelming relief by the majority of the British population tired of wishy-washy New Labour policies which benefit none except the 1%. 

A striking example of how far to the left Corbyn has moved his party can be seen in his upholding the demand for Blair’s prosecution for war crimes following the Chilcot Inquiry into the Iraq War. For one Labour leader to turn against another is unheard of – but then, Blair was never truly a socialist. The mood of the British people is such that President Trump has postponed his intended visit to the UK through fear of mass protests.  

The Brexit negotiations with the EU are due to begin on June 19, although these may be postponed. Theresa May is all for a hard Brexit, cutting ties at the earliest possible date. Corbyn is in favour of a soft Brexit, with give-and-take on both sides.

Such luminaries as Barak Obama and Bill Clinton have poured scorn on Corbyn, saying he’s the “maddest person in the room,” or that Labour “got a guy off the streets” in lieu of a real leader. This return by the party to represent ordinary people is terribly worrying to neoliberals, hence this outpouring of bile on their part. 

The last thing the Democratic Party of America wants is for the country’s own grass roots movement to be revitalized by the UK election result. The DNC doesn't want the hope it holds out for ordinary people everywhere to become widespread. The spark Bernie Sanders ignited is far from being extinguished. A new blaze with the wind of change blowing strongly behind it will burn the Establishment down to the ground – and the world will be the better for it.

BIO: Coast Watcher is the pen name of a Brit living abroad in the wilds of America. He keeps a close eye on the changes in the political winds and hopes to witness a more progressive American government forming in the near future.
For more insights into the Labour Party's results in the parliamentary elections, check out these articles:

Corbyn embraces change: https://www.nationofchange.org/2017/06/12/corbyn-teaches-embrace-change-need/

UK Elections, or how the Democrats should stop worrying and learn to love socialism:

Rolling Stone's Matt Taibi on Corbyn's win, "Goodbye and Good Riddance to Centrism": http://readersupportednews.org/opinion2/277-75/44100-focus-goodbye-and-good-riddance-to-centrism

And now some insights from activist Sean Nestor about how the American establishment has reacted to the wins made by the Labour Party and its leader Jeremy Corbyn:

When Democrats talk about the importance of "compromise," what they really mean is "compromise with the right wing." When's the last time you remember Democrats making substantive concessions to the left?

Note that since Jeremy Corbyn took over as leader of the Labour Party in the UK, pushing it to be the most left it has been in almost a century, Democratic icons Barack Obama and Howard Dean have been putting him through the ringer. Why are they so hostile to successful leftists?

And before I hear apologists talk about how compromise with the right is necessary because the left is so weak, consider the possibility that the left is weak because the designated "leftist" party in the US, the Democrats, actively suppresses leftists and refuses to support left-wing organizing. What's the meaningful difference between openly demonizing leftists and quietly marginalizing them, especially when you're going to pass right-wing policies in the name of "compromise" anyway?

When you wonder how we wound up with Republicans holding a historic dominance the federal and state governments in spite of the constant failure of their own policies, remember that the left has been effectively disenfranchised from US politics. A growing number of people are hungry for left-wing alternatives to the moribund status quo, but without any real representation in the major parties and systemic suppression of minor parties, they've got no place to go but the streets.

There are so many arrogant types to choose from--it was tough this week to pick an overall winner for the "Chastise Rich Arrogant Pricks" or C.R.A.P. Award. Prime Minister Theresa May is definitely a politician in need of chastisement upon revelation that her Tory government's "austerity measures" might have caused or added to the intensity of the deadly Grenfell high rise fire which has killed at least 30 and injured so many others in London. We award this week British C.R.A.P. Award to Mrs. May in hopes she resigns and goes someplace else where she can't hurt anymore innocent ordinary people.

On the American side, John Johnston is our winner (or is that loser?) of the C.R.A.P. Award this week for his callous remarks: 

John Johnston, who is challenging Democratic state Rep. Chuck Moseley for Indiana's 10th District seat, said during a social media discussion on poverty that “no one has the guts to just let them wither and die.” 

This inhumane and sociopathic statement about the poor clearly demonstrates Johnston is in need of chastisement. Please feel free to shame him in social media and email/call/mail him your thoughts on his callousness and let him know we don't appreciate his genocidal tendencies. 

If you know a person or persons in public office (or running for one) who is in need of chastisement for their policies and words, and you would like to nominate them for the C.R.A. P. award, please send their names and details to us at The Revolution Continues blog at our contact email on the sidebar under the editor's details. Thank you.
Now, here are some ways to become involved in progressive change this week...
From Climate Hawks:

Climate Hawks Vote

Breaking news - a federal judge has ruled that the Trump administration’s Army Corps of Engineers broke the law when it approved the Dakota Access pipeline. The Corps failed to perform an adequate study of the pipeline’s environmental impact, particularly its impact on fishing rights, hunting rights, and environmental justice.

The judge hasn’t decided whether to stop the oil flowing (and leaking) through the pipeline - instead, he’s asking for more briefing next week. But this uncertainty gives us new leverage against the banks that fund this and other climate-destructive pipelines like Keystone XL.

Around the world, people and communities are rising up to demand that banks, pension funds and other big investors stop financing risky fossil fuel companies and projects. Individuals, foundations, colleges, churches, and other institutions have already promised to move $5 trillion out of fossil fuels. After pressure from more than 700,000 people and cities like Seattle representing over $5 billion in accounts, several banks have dropped their DAPL investments or committed to revisit their financing of fossil fuel projects that threaten Indigenous sovereignty. People power is working!

And this push isn’t just against DAPL, but a handful of other bad projects: the infamous Keystone XL, Enbridge’s Line 3, Kinder Morgan’s Trans Mountain, and TransCanada’s Energy East. 

Meanwhile, fossil fuel companies continue to drill for oil on Indigenous lands and ecologically sensitive areas around the world. Now is the time to turn up the pressure, and where possible, move our money.

We need everyone to align their money with their values: withhold your consent from a global finance system that puts Trump cronies’ profits ahead of Indigenous rights, long-term economic analysis, and a safe planet for all.

RL Miller, for Climate Hawks Vote

Total divested from the Dakota Access Pipeline, DefundDAPL.org http://www.defunddapl.org/

Divestment Commitments: Approximate value of institutions divesting https://gofossilfree.org/commitments

From 314:

I’m a science teacher in Colorado, and I want to show you how science is under attack in our schools.

A few weeks ago, I received a package in my mailbox from the Heartland Institute. It included a textbook called “Why Scientists Disagree About Global Warming” that was chock full of citations. Here’s the problem: They were often citing the Heartland Institute’s own papers -- or taking real research deliberately out of context in an attempt to mislead people.

A lot of science teachers across the country are getting these packages. They think we’re dumb enough to fall for their junk science. And they’re using this tactic -- with plenty of funding from the fossil fuel industry -- to try to influence school boards and science programs.

314 Action is fighting back by investing in programs to recruit school board candidates who believe our kids should be taught real science -- make a donation to support that work today.

Look, I’ve been teaching for 25 years. It’ll take more than slick packaging to fool educators like me. The Heartland Institute knows that, too.

The reality is climate science has been politicized beyond belief -- more and more, parents are challenging what’s being taught in the classroom. They raise the issue with the principal, the superintendent, and the school board, and they point to textbooks like this as evidence that science teachers are trying to “indoctrinate” their kids. I know firsthand what it’s like to be threatened with disciplinary action over teaching climate change. And I understand why some educators throw up their hands and say it’s not worth it.

That’s exactly what groups like the Heartland Institute want. They want their junk science to be taught alongside peer-reviewed research, but they’ll settle for science teachers just removing all mentions of climate change from their lessons.

This fight will play out in school boards all across the country. The good news is 314 Action is working hard to recruit and train responsible, pro-science advocates to run for these positions.

Will you chip in today to help fund this program to recruit and train STEM professionals running for school board?

Thanks for taking the time to read my story,

Cheryl Brown Manning

P.S. Here’s a photo of me with my copy of the Heartland Institute’s textbook. Let’s fight back.

Let's fight back against attacks on science.

From March for Science:
As you think about what actions you can take in response to the United States Federal government’s withdrawal from the Paris Climate Accord, we wanted to share a message from Dee Lawrence, the founder of our non-profit partner, Cool Effect:

On April 22, I had the honor of sharing the Cool Effect story with you at the March For Science in Washington, DC. Given the news that the United States Federal government is leaving the Paris Climate Accord, my husband and co-founder, Richard Lawrence, and I have been thinking back to December of 2015 when the world gathered to establish that historic agreement. 

During that monumental event, our daughter, Skye Lawrence, took the stage and announced the mission of Cool Effect: to provide a way for individuals to take immediate and measurable action to fight climate change by supporting the world’s best carbon-reduction projects. 
The projects supported through Cool Effect have verifiably reduced more than 13 million tons of greenhouse gas emissions. On our platform alone, more than 130,000 Americans like you have raised their hands and declared their willingness to the fight climate change and save the planet. They are taking responsibility for human-caused global warming by reducing one ton of greenhouse gas emissions at a time. 

Simply put, this is The Cool Effect. Like the butterfly effect, we believe that small contributions by each of us can have a major impact on the world’s biggest problem. 

We urge you to take action on climate change by checking out Cool Effect and exploring the many ways you can have an impact. It’s easy, each project is scientifically verified, and supports human ingenuity; health; and jobs growth. 

Click HERE to help make a difference in our fight against climate change.

The world took historic action to combat climate change in Paris. Let’s recommit to continuing our progress.
Thank you,
Dee Lawrence,
Co-Founder, Cool Effect
From Change.org

Limit Nestle’s Michigan Water Withdrawals

Our names are Yousef Emara and Nathan Koh. We are eighth graders in Ann Arbor, Michigan.  Our class completes a Sustainability Action Project (SAP) by choosing a cause in which we can make a positive impact.  We have chosen to raise awareness of Nestle’s water pumping practices in Michigan and petition the state legislature and the Michigan Department of Environmental Quality (MDEQ) to reject an increase in Nestle’s pumping rates in White Pine Springs, Osceola County, Michigan.
Why This Issue Matters 
In many countries, including the United States, there is little limitation on the rate at which water can be pumped out of aquifers (underground water reserves).  Water bottling companies have been pumping billions of gallons of water out of aquifers and impacting the watershed and surrounding environment and selling water bottles for 3000 to 5000 times more than they pay for it.  One such pumping site is Nestle’s well field in White Pine Springs, Osceola County, Michigan, which is part of the Muskegon River watershed.  
What This Means for Michigan 
Nestle runs a plant for its two water bottle brands, Ice Mountain and Pure Life, in Stanwood, Michigan.  The company operates three well fields with a total of seven wells, all within the Muskegon River watershed.  According to the Michigan Department of Environmental Quality (MDEQ), Nestle pumped more than 3.4 billion gallons of water from its three Michigan well fields between 2005 and 2015.  In 2015, Nestle was given approval by the MDEQ to pump 250 gallons per minute at White Pine Springs Well in Osceola County.  The company now wants to increase the amount of water it pumps from this well to 400 gallons per minute. Nestle would pay the state of Michigan $200 per year for this increase.
According to a test conducted in August 2000 by Malcolm Pirnie Inc., Nestle’s White Pine Springs Well pumps water from an underground aquifer that is connected to the aboveground water system through a permeable layer of Earth, called a leaky aquitard.  Pumping water from the aquifer can drain significant amounts of water from above. This indicates that the wetlands and wildlife above the ground are at high risk of being harmed by Nestle’s pumping.  Residents, like Rhonda Huff, as reported by the MLive newspaper on April 9, 2017, noticed that water levels in Osceola County’s Chippewa Creek, which flows into the Muskegon River watershed, have significantly dropped in recent years, affecting trout populations.  
Nestle needs a permit from the MDEQ in order to increase the rate at which it pumps water.  The MDEQ requires the use of a Water Withdrawal Assessment Tool to determine the impact of proposed water withdrawals on fish and wildlife in the area.  Nestle’s proposed water withdrawal increase to 400 gallons per minute failed to pass MDEQ’s Water Withdrawal Assessment Tool. However, the MDEQ can and did overrule the failing grade determined by the Water Withdrawal Assessment Tool.
Nestle’s plan to increase the amount of water withdrawn to 400 gallons per minute would undo an agreement with environmentalists reached more than seven years ago for a well field in Sanctuary Springs, which is also part of the Muskegon River watershed.  In 2001, Michigan Citizens for Water Conservation sued Nestle over potential damage to the system of lakes, rivers, and streams that its water withdrawal would cause.  An agreement was reached in 2009, limiting the amount of water the company could pump.
What You Can Do To Help
Please sign our petition!  Help us in reaching our goal of 10,000 signatures to present to the state legislature and the MDEQ. Thank you for taking the time to protect our most precious resource – water.

Sign the petition!

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