Tuesday, May 14, 2019

What Will It Take?

What will it take to start a revolution in this country?

That's a question our guest commentator asks.  This past week, the Lake Erie Bill of Rights suffered yet another set-back courtesy of the establishment. (You can read the press release below.) Also, Republicans in the state of Ohio in a last minute "tax cut" piece of legislation (HB 166) slipped in an extra paragraph outlawing all Rights of Nature laws--effectively negating the LEBOR citizens' initiative. All this is happening during a very rainy spring, predicted to lead to a moderate to severe blue-green algal bloom this summer on Lake Erie.

Poisoned drinking water? No guaranteed health care? Low wages? What will it take?

Judge Denies Toledoans and Lake Erie 
Access to Court
Denies People their Right to Defend Local Law Recognizing Rights of Lake Erie

May 8, 2019

Toledo, OH: On Tuesday, May 7th, Toledoans for Safe Water (TSW) and the Lake Erie Ecosystem were denied their motion to intervene in the lawsuit brought by Drewes Farm Partnership of Wood County against the City of Toledo. The corporate-driven lawsuit seeks to overturn the Lake Erie Bill of Rights (LEBOR).

The people of Toledo voted on February 26th to adopt a charter amendment recognizing legal rights for Lake Erie. However, in his decision, Judge Zouhary not only refuses to acknowledge Rights of Nature as a legal concept – he even refuses to hear arguments made in its favor.

The court allowed the State of Ohio to intervene on May 1st as a plaintiff on the side of Drewes Farms. Judge Zouhary held in his ruling that the City will amply represent the people and Lake Erie. But neither the City law department nor its outside counsel have any experience advancing or defending Rights of Nature laws.

“We gained international recognition for advancing this groundbreaking law, but our own government refuses to recognize our rights. Our own government refuses to recognize the environmental crises faced by Lake Erie and the 11 million human lives she sustains,” stated Crystal Jankowski, organizer with TSW. “The courts do not have the authority to allow the continued poisoning of Great Lake Erie, or to take away our right to protect our community.”

The Community Environmental Legal Defense Fund (CELDF) has provided legal support to the community group, assisting in drafting the LEBOR, defending Toledoans’ right to vote on the initiative, and today defending the newly adopted charter amendment. The group filed a stay today and plans to appeal this unjust decision.

TSW’s Markie Miller stated, “The state is once again attempting to silence the people of Toledo. First, it was the state administrative branch of government attempting to keep us off the ballot. Now it is the judicial branch keeping us out of the courtroom. But the people of Toledo won’t be going away anytime soon. Lake Erie needs our protection.”


What Will It Take?
by Sean Nestor

People my age are struggling with depression, heroin addiction, and suicide in record numbers.

Schools and churches are regularly shot up by far right extremists.

The government fights on every level to keep your water polluted.

People die daily because they can't afford health care.

We're still in the longest war in our nation's history, and even though its bankrupted us, we're still looking to start more.

Immigrants are being tortured and dying in concentration camps.

Black people are executed in the streets by trigger-happy law enforcement who are largely immune from accountability.

We jail more people than any other country on the planet.

The president openly defies the law and threatens anyone who tries to hold him accountable.

Laws are made almost exclusively for the benefit of wealthy corporations and not for citizens.

Gerrymandering insulates your state and federal lawmakers from political challengers who aren't also incredibly rich.

Journalism is dying and being replaced with partisan propaganda networks.

Federal intelligence agencies routinely spy on our digital communications without warrants.

Student debt is destroying higher education while public schools get gutted to fund charters.

Climate change is causing more floods and hurricanes than we can respond to, and we have no real plan to address it.

We're ending the existence of countless species who have been here for millennia.

What's your breaking point? Where's the line for you that says we simply can't persist with this system of government anymore?

If it's not these things -- then what is it? What will it take?

BIO: Sean Nestor is an activist who worked on the Lake Erie Bill of Rights, among other citizens' initiatives.


From Friends of the Earth:
Yesterday, the UN released a report saying the world faces ecological collapse unless we take urgent action to change our social and economic systems to protect the environment.

The devastating report shows how the massive global decline of bees and other insects, along with other critical species, is setting us on a path to catastrophe. And this decline is largely thanks to industrial agriculture and the use of toxic pesticides.

But instead of shifting our economy and environmental policy to address this looming crisis, Donald Trump is continuing to hand over our planet to Big Ag. Right now his EPA is considering greenlighting the continued use of glyphosate -- a.k.a. Monsanto’s Roundup®. We need your help to stop it!

Roundup® is linked to the decline of the iconic monarch butterfly. The pesticide wipes out milkweed, the only food young monarchs eat. It’s a simple formula, more Roundup® = less milkweed = fewer monarchs.

The numbers are staggering. Monarch populations have declined nearly 70 percent in the past two decades. This corresponds with the massive increase in the use of Roundup®.

Monarchs and other pollinators are the canaries in the corn fields. Entire ecosystems rely on insects. If pesticides wipe out those insects, the impacts could be devastating – for butterflies, but also for our food system and communities who depend on healthy ecosystems around the world.

The only way to stop this catastrophic collapse is to get pesticides like Roundup® out of our food system and shift to organic, regenerative farming. The Trump administration is threatening to move us in the opposite direction. We need your help to stop it.

The UN report calls for urgent regulatory change and makes a compelling case for “transformational change.” That means we need to address our global economic, financial and social systems. We can no longer afford to tackle the crises of climate, biodiversity and economic inequality separately – we must address them together.

Getting Roundup® out of our food system is one important step toward doing that. The pesticide makes millions in profits for Monsanto -- which it can pour back into our political system to avoid further regulation. Additionally, the impacts of our industrial agriculture system are greatest on rural communities and farmworkers who are highly exposed to Roundup and other toxic pesticides.

In other words, one simple action -- banning Roundup® -- could have a huge impact on communities around the country. At the same time, it would stem the decline of monarch butterflies and other essential pollinators. And it would put power back in the hands of people like you and me, not Big Ag companies like Monsanto.

The EPA is required to consider the opinion of people like you as it weighs whether to restrict Roundup®. So we need you to speak up now.

Standing with you,
Tiffany Finck-Haynes,
Pesticides and pollinators program manager,
Friends of the Earth

From Food & Water Watch:

We are facing a global climate crisis, but instead of focusing on moving toward clean, renewable energy, the Senate is considering a bill that would invest tens of millions of dollars in dirty and dangerous fracking. Let your Senators know we don't need more fracking!

This bill is camouflaged as a measure to position the U.S. as the top energy provider in Europe, and, if passed, it would lock in our dependence on fossil fuels for decades to come.1

That means even more dangerous pipelines, more pollution, more contaminated water and more devastated communities!

This bill passed almost unanimously in the House — and quickly! — so we need to act fast to stop it in the Senate. Contact your Senators today and tell them to vote NO!
We don't need more fracking. Tell you Senators to vote no on S704.
Because of the current administration’s blatant efforts to make it easier for the fossil fuel industry to pollute our air and water, it is more essential than ever that Congress resist all efforts that would increase fossil fuel production.2,3,4
Fracking pollutes our air and drinking water and worsens climate change. We need to keep fossil fuels in the ground and to reject all new fossil fuel infrastructure. It is unacceptable that the oil and gas industry profits off fracking at our expense.5
No more fracking
We must align our policy with the reality of the climate crisis we face. We need to move forward with real climate solutions, and instead support a REAL Green New Deal that would ban fracking, keep fossil fuels in the ground and make a just transition to 100% clean, renewable energy! Tell your Senators to oppose this and any legislation that fails to move toward a clean energy future.
Onward together,

Wenonah Hauter
Executive Director
Food & Water Watch

1. House Democrats Voted for a Natural Gas Future, and Nobody Noticed, Walker Bragman, Paste Magazine, April 4, 2019.
2. Trump Takes Advantage of Europe's Fossil Fuel Dependence, Food & Water Watch, July 5, 2017.
3. Trump Signs Orders to Speed Up Oil and Gas Pipeline Construction, Clifford Krauss, New York Times, April 10, 2019.
4. Trump Unveils Plan to Open Nearly All of U.S. Offshore Waters to Drilling, Food & Water Watch, January 4, 2018.
5. Fracking, Food & Water Watch.

Tuesday, May 7, 2019

Why Don't We Celebrate May Day Anymore?

It's springtime--the season when many contemplate the beauty of nature and why things have become the way they are.

The above meme is a wealth of information for those who wonder, "What are Rights of Nature and how do they affect me?" While many are supportive of the recent Lake Erie Bill of Rights initiative, they still have questions about how a Rights of Nature law can help We the People protect our natural resources such as our drinking water Check out the Community Environmental Legal Defense Fund web site for more info. http://www.celdf.org 

And now, an article from a new TRC blogger that asks (and answers) a very pertinent question about why things have come to this point in history.

Why Don't We Celebrate May Day Anymore?
by Redd Phlagg

It's sad that Americans have no idea about the origins of May Day. They've never heard about the Haymarket Massacre. They have no clue where the eight hour day/five days a week workweek comes from. When they see or hear about a union action in the mainstream media, it's almost always slanted toward the negative. For example, a headline might scream, "Unionized School Teachers Demand Better Pay And Working Conditions While Hard-Working Parents Scramble For Daycare"

Oh, those nasty, greedy, evil union members!

Face it--Americans have been taught to hate unions and union workers. The vast majority enjoy the concessions that union activists have commandeered from the capitalist class, such as the minimum wage and overtime pay, but they simply don't have time for the people who make up the unions themselves. Workers are invisible to them.  Strange that is, too, since most Americans are--or have been--members of the working class at some point in their lives.

Why do we hate ourselves so much?

It's not a natural state of being. I don't imagine that most of us get up every day, look in the mirror and say, "Let's see how hard I can work myself to death today to make corporate profits for a bunch of rich people who couldn't care less about my health and welfare." So, how did it come to this sorry state of affairs? Mass brainwashing? Chemicals in the water?
Yes...and yes. All you need do is switch on the TV or open up a web browser and start watching the corporate-sponsored newscasts to see the brainwashing techniques at their best. Only certain issues, stories and candidates are featured on the big networks and that's not because nothing isn't happening involving lesser known people and events. It's a deliberate attempt to keep us slave laborers focused on only those things the capitalist class wants us to focus upon, namely how to make more money for them. 

Be it to deny corporate responsibility in poisoning our air and water, emphasize buying huge gas-guzzling SUVs to make you more popular with the ladies, or perpetuate the myth that the latest coup d'etat staged by the CIA and/or NSA is worth enlisting in the military and dying for (in order to make Raytheon a few more billions in profits this quarter), workers are being fed a whole lot of propaganda bullshit. 

There really isn't any simpler or nicer way to put it. We're just cogs in the capitalists' machine of profit generation. Nothing personal--we just need your blood, sweat and tears. And while you're at it, please leave your dead body in a zipper bag on an Air Force runway when you're done bombing and shooting innocent workers in exotic lands far away, like Syria, Iraq, Yemen or Venezuela. If you don't return alive, then  the elitists don't have to worry about  pesky veterans belly-aching about not receiving the medical care and benefits capitalists told them they could have if they did sign up to kill for "freedom" and Uncle Sam.
We're not celebrating May Day--a worker's holiday--anymore because the American worker is an endangered species. It's part of the oligarchs' plan. Once we're gone and used up as cannon fodder, they can easily replace most of us with androids and robots unless... 

Unless we replace them and their outdated, heinous, immoral system of economic servitude with one that embraces the rights of the worker, the average person, and rejects the ideal that parasitical hoarders of billions of dollars are somehow more worthy to enjoy "life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness."

Happy May Day, fellow drudges!  Deep down, we all know what we need to do. We just got to have the guts to do it.

BIO: Redd believes in putting the people first and foremost. Don't ever ask Redd to apologize for pointing out the selfish greed of the upper classes--you won't get it! Redd can frequently be found marching and speaking out for freedom, the real thing and not the imaginary idea perpetuated by corporate propaganda. Power to the people! 

Related article--May Day 2019 Labor Protests in 17 Photographs

Strike action in the Midwest--
strike photos courtesy of NW Ohio DSA

Live Video of Nurses and Support Staff Strike at St. Vincent's Hospital
--over 2200 workers and supporters march for better working conditions in Toledo, Ohio.

From UltraViolet:

A New York judge just let a child rapist off with no jail time and--unbelievably--justified it by saying he "only" raped one girl. "Only one"--these are the words of Judge James McClusky.

Last week, Judge McClusky sentenced Shane Piche, a school bus driver, to probation and $365 in fines for raping a 14-year-old child he met on his bus route. According to court records, Piche lured her and other minors to his house, gave them alcohol — and then raped her.4
It's horrifying that this even needs to be said, but one child raped is too many. Judge McClusky cannot be trusted to protect survivors of sexual assault, and he needs to be removed from the bench. This case is getting a ton of attention on social media and in the news, and calls are coming from across the country for the commission on judicial conduct to remove McClusky from his position permanently. 
Can you add your voice and demand Judge McClusky be removed from the bench?

Tell the New York Commission of Judicial Conduct:
"Judge James McClusky just let a child rapist off with a slap on the wrist. Remove him from his position immediately for his blatant disregard for survivors of sexual assault."
Sign the petition
Unfortunately, this isn't the first time we've heard a story like this. In 2015, the nation erupted when California Judge Aaron Persky sentenced Brock Turner to a mere six months for assaulting an unconscious woman behind a dumpster at a Stanford University party. More than one million people signed the petition to demand Judge Persky be removed from the bench, and Bay Area UltraViolet members staged a number of protests. Ultimately, voters rose up to remove Persky from the bench in 2018. That was a huge victory and shows what we can do when we raise our voices together.5,6 

Like former-Judge Persky in California, Judge McClusky of New York has shown where his concern lies--for the lives of white male perpetrators and not the women or girls they assault. Because of Piche, the life of a 14-year-old child has been irrevocably changed. By demanding McClusky be removed from the bench, we can show that we won't let judges side with rapists over women and girls.

Can you sign the petition to get Judge McClusky removed from the bench?

Together we can build a world that believes and cares for survivors instead of perpetrators. 

Thank you.
-- Shaunna, Kat, Karin, Holly, Kathy, Susan, Anathea, Emma, Natalie, Melody, Pam, Lindsay, Ryan, Sonja, and Noma, the UltraViolet team

1. School Bus Driver Who Raped 14-Year-Old Will Not Go To Prison, New York Times, April 30, 2019
2. Judge Sparks Outrage for No Jail Time in Rape Sentence, Washington Post, April 30, 2019
3. Judge Gives No Jail Times to Former School Bus Driver Who Admitted to Raping 14-Year-Old Girl, USA Today, updated April 30, 2019
4. School Bus Driver Who Raped 14-Year-Old Girl Gets No Prison Time, Huffington Post, April 30, 2019
5. Judge In Stanford Sex Assault Case Will No Longer Hear Criminal Cases, BuzzFeed, August 25, 2016
6. Judge who was recalled after Stanford sexual assault case seeks donations to pay $135,000 in attorney fees, Los Angeles Times, December 12, 2018

From Friends of the Earth:
Last week, the Trump Administration finalized its plan to gut safety regulations for offshore drilling.

These regulations were put in place after the Deepwater Horizon oil rig disaster killed 11 people and caused the worst oil spill in American history. Communities near the Gulf of Mexico are still recovering today. Making matters worse, it’s even more likely that a similar disaster would happen in the Gulf again. Our leaders have long seen the Gulf as a “sacrifice zone” -- where drilling can continue unabated.

Congress could take a stand against the efforts to hand over the Gulf to Big Oil and expose its communities to a future oil disaster. But we need your help to push it to act!

Trump clearly learned nothing from the Deepwater Horizon catastrophe. Instead of reducing offshore drilling, he wanted to open more than 90% of the Outer Continental Shelf for drilling activity.

We know from experience that drilling puts marine life and coastal communities at risk. We need to shift away from drilling in our oceans, including the entire Gulf of Mexico.

Any new drilling would threaten fishing, tourism, and the livelihoods of millions of Americans in coastal communities. The only benefits would go to Big Oil executives. 

We must continue fighting with all we have to ensure that our marine life and coastal communities are truly protected. So we need your help to keep the pressure on Congress.

Deepwater Horizon serves as a reminder that any drilling in our oceans is unacceptable. It’s only a matter of time before the next large-scale oil spill disaster. Drilling disrupts marine life, pollutes our coasts, and contributes to climate chaos as well.

The good news is, pressure from people like you to stop giveaways to Big Oil is working. Trump was recently forced to walk back his plan to open nearly all of our oceans to more new drilling. And that was largely thanks to people like you who spoke up in opposition.

But Trump isn’t about to give up. Rumors are already swirling that he will revive his offshore drilling plan after the 2020 election. So we need Congress to step up, check Trump’s handouts to Big Oil, and protect our aquatic ecosystems from future destruction.

Standing with you,
Hallie Templeton,
Senior oceans campaigner,
Friends of the Earth Action