2012-11-25: What I’ve Been Reading

Why Is the Obama FCC Plotting a Massive Giveaway to Rupert Murdoch?
Craig Aaron, Op-Ed: “We can still stop this terrible plan from moving forward. The other members of the FCC can dissent and send this thing back to the drawing board. The dozens of senators who voted against this very policy less than five years ago can speak up again. The Obama administration can think about cross-examining Rupert Murdoch instead of appeasing him. None of that will happen unless millions of people make some noise.”
Hostess: Challenges Facing Unions When PE Doesn’t Deliver
Eileen Appelbaum, News Analysis: Looking at the Hostess situation a union could conclude that negotiations over further concessions by workers to keep the company functioning were fruitless. The union could continue to bargain to try to limit concessions and stand up against the greed and mismanagement of the company’s owners and managers. It could refuse to make further concessions to a company It thinks is asking too much. If its demands on behalf of its members were rejected, it might consider striking.
Poor management, not union intransigence, killed Hostess
LA Times | Michael Hiltzik: Let’s get a few things clear. Hostess didn’t fail for any of the reasons you’ve been fed. It didn’t fail because Americans demanded more healthful food than its Twinkies and Ho-Hos snack cakes. It didn’t fail because its unions wanted it to die.  It failed because the people that ran it had no idea what they were doing. Every other excuse is just an attempt by the guilty to blame someone else.
Boeing Won’t Offer Pension Benefits to Same-Sex Couples Igor Volsky, News Report: Since Slog published its report, Boeing issued a statement promising to reassess the impact of Washington State’s marriage equality referendum on company policy. “Boeing is taking a closer look at how R-74 might impact company policies once it takes effect in December,” the statement said. “Nothing is ever final in negotiations until they’re over,” a company spokesperson told the Slog. “What we said today is that [these pension benefits] are not currently addressed in the contract.”
Fracking the Great Lakes
Lois Gibbs, News Analysis: “My sister and brother-in-law were active in advocating the cleanup of the lakes in the 1970’s. Our family vacationed on the lakes. It was exciting back then to hear that a serious effort from both sides of the boarder would advance to make the lakes swimmable, the fish safe enough to eat and so many other promises. Now more than 35 years later reports are praising the cleanup of historical chemical deposits while at the same time new chemicals are allowed to enter the lakes without protest.”
Many Pro-GMO Corporate Biologists Own GMO Patents, in Bed with Monsanto
Anthony Gucciardi, News Report: “Very few scientists around the globe actually dare speak about these dangers due to the overwhelming political influence Monsanto and other biotech companies have over nations around the globe. We know thanks to 2007 WikiLeaks cables that not only are most if not all U.S. ambassadors on Monsanto payroll, but that prominent U.S. political figures have threatened nations who oppose Monsanto with ‘military-style trade wars’. A threat that has managed to strike fear into many nations who would not risk massive retaliation from the United States.”
Solidarity for Tar Sands Blockade and Climate Justice Spreads Worldwide
Melanie Jae Martin, News Report: Hundreds marched to the U.S. embassy in Manilla last Wednesday to demand immediate climate action, while large numbers of peasants, organized by the Pakistan Fisherfolk Forum, demanded the protection of natural resources in Jamshoro. The Rwandan Climate Change Network helped spread climate awareness to Rwanda’s rural populations. Meanwhile, in Texas, over 100 people stopped construction of the Keystone XL pipeline on Monday, with four locking down and others setting up a new tree-sit blockade.
The Age of Financial Repression
Edin Mujagic and Sylvester Eijffinger, Op-Ed: Meanwhile, Western central banks are using another kind of financial repression by maintaining negative real interest rates (yielding less than the rate of inflation), which enables them to service their debt for free. The European Central Bank’s policy rate stands at 0.75%, while the eurozone’s annual inflation rate is 2.5%. Likewise, the Bank of England keeps its policy rate at only 0.5%, despite an inflation rate that hovers above 2%. And, in the United States, where inflation exceeds 2%, the Federal Reserve’s benchmark federal funds rate remains at an historic low of 0-0.25%.
Americans Want Leadership Now on Real Cliffs: Jobs and Human Survival
Truthout | Paul Street Op-Ed: "What Americans really want is the truth. They want leadership that says here’s what we need to do no matter how difficult it is, personal accountability on the part of Washington to get something done and then a level of transparency about what’s being done so that people can see progress along the way. That’s the way we do it in business. That’s the way we need to do it in Washington."
How Renewable Energy Is Rescuing Schools from Budget Cuts
Richardsville classroom-SCB-555.jpgYes! Magazine | Erin L McCoy, Report:  When Richardsville opened its doors in fall 2010, it was the first “net zero” school in the nation, meaning that the school produces more energy on-site than it uses in a year. Actual innovations incorporated into it’s design make Richardsville better than net zero. It actually earns about $2,000 a month selling excess energy to the Tennessee Valley Authority.
Why We Need Redistricting Reform
Brennan Center for Justice | Keesha Gaskins & Sundeep Iyer:  On November 7, Americans woke up again to a Republican-controlled House of Representatives. And whether they like it or not, Americans should get used to this leadership. Republican control of the lower chamber could extend well past the 113th Congress, thanks in part to the once-a-decade process of redistricting.  You see, when Republicans won big in the 2010 elections across the country — they had the power to redraw district lines to assure Republican victory after victory for the decade to come.
 
 

TransCanada Attempting to Obliterate Our First Amendment Rights

On Tuesday, peaceful protesters blocking Keystone XL pipeline construction equipment in Texas were brutalized by police at the request and encouragement of TransCanada officials.1

The two protesters, who had handcuffed themselves together on TransCanada’s construction equipment, were subjected to choke holds, stress positions in which their free arms were handcuffed, contorted, and then pepper sprayed, burning their skin. They were then tased — one of the activists was tased twice.

There is no excuse for subjecting peaceful, defenseless protesters to this level of violence.

Reports indicate these tactics were carried out at the request direct of the TransCanada officials on the scene, who later congratulated police on a “job well done.”2

Police had been peaceful toward the protesters before TransCanada officials arrived. Then TransCanada officials encouraged police to “run off” the activists who were observing the protest. Once the cameras were out of sight, the unnecessary brutality was used until the pain became too much for the protesters.

Law enforcement officers are also known as peace officers. Their job is to protect the peace and serve the public, not corporations. Nonviolent civil disobedience has played a key role in winning social change in the U.S. In Texas, peaceful protesters are putting their bodies on the line to literally block TransCanada’s machinery because they see this as a key battle in our fight against climate change.

It is the job of the police to arrest these protesters and, in the absence of violent resistance, to do so without violence or brutality. If this slows down the work of TransCanada, so be it.

TransCanada has a history of lying to, bullying and strong-arming landowners. Now it is bringing violence upon peaceful protesters. If citizens are so moved to right a wrong that they will line up to be arrested in front of TransCanada’s machines, then TransCanada will have to wait while police safely and humanely arrest them.

We cannot let TransCanada’s brutality intimidate protesters into standing down, we cannot allow our public safety officers be commandeered as violent tools of a foreign oil company. And we will not let TransCanada jam its apocalyptic pipeline down our throats without due process of law.

The courageous protesters are taking action because they see the risk of doing nothing in the face of the “game over for the climate” Keystone XL pipeline as greater than the risk of personal harm as a result of their protest and arrest. They are playing an essential role to slow construction right now, and we need to do what we can to stand with them, and pressure TransCanada to ensure that peaceful protesters are treated safely, not with completely undue brutality.

Click below to automatically sign the petition to stand with the tar sands blockaders in Texas:

Thanks for fighting the Keystone XL tar sands pipeline.

Elijah Zarlin, Campaign Manager
CREDO Action from Working Assets

Resources:

  1. TransCanada Actively Encouraged Torture Tactics to be Used on Peaceful Protesters,” Tar Sands Blockade, 9/25/12
  2. TransCanada Urges Texas Police to Use “Aggressive Pain Compliance Tactics” on Keystone XL Blockaders,” Fire Dog Lake, 9/26/12