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July 2015

Shell Ice Breaker Leaves Portland After Inspiring Delay

By Staff for RT - The Arctic-bound vessel got through after police intervened, arresting campaigners. All protesters were eventually lowered into Willamette River by the Coast Guard, Oregon State Police and Portland Fire & Rescue crews and detained for alleged criminal trespassing and interfering with law enforcement, according to reports. After the human blockade was removed and the icebreaker, which is central to Royal Dutch Shell’s plans for extracting oil in the Arctic, began to depart, so-called “kayaktivists” tried to engage the vessel by rowing into its path. Greenpeace claimed the action was a success. “We found that the blockade was successful." Nicole added that the goal is to bring attention to the issue and persuade President Barack Obama to reconsider giving permission to Shell to drill in the Arctic.

Politicians Admit The Corruption Of Government By Money

By Jon Schwarz in The Intercept - One of the most embarrassing aspects of U.S. politics is politicians who deny that money has any impact on what they do. For instance, Tom Corbett, Pennsylvania’s notoriously fracking-friendly former governor, got $1.7 million from oil and gas companies but assured voters that “The contributions don’t affect my decisions.” If you’re trying to get people to vote for you, you can’t tell them that what they want doesn’t matter. Meanwhile, 85 percent of Americans say we need to either “completely rebuild” or make “fundamental changes” to the campaign finance system. Just 13 percent think “only minor changes are necessary,” less than the 18 percent of Americans who believe they’ve been in the presence of a ghost.

Protesters Removed From Portland Bridge

By Stuart Tomlinson in Oregon Live - Just before 6 p.m. Thursday night, Shell Oil's controversial icebreaker MSV Fennica weaved through nine remaining protesters hanging from the St. Johns Bridge and made its way toward the Pacific Ocean. After winning an early morning game of chicken with the ship, Greenpeace protesters suspended from the bridge and in kayaks and canoes on the river were left disappointed. Thirteen of them had spent the better part of 40 hours in climbers slings and on portable platforms. On Thursday afternoon, after more than six hours of relative quiet, boats manned by Coast Guard officers and Portland-area police officers began circling protesters in kayaks and canoes on the Willamette River below the St. Johns Bridge. Two-hundred feet above the water's surface on the North Portland bridge, Portland police blocked access to all vehicle, bicycle and pedestrian traffic.

Year Of The Woman

By Rebecca Traister in Huffington Post - For only five nights in the fall of 1973, a documentary called “Year of the Woman” played at the Fifth Avenue Cinema in Greenwich Village. Crowds lined up around the block. Arthur Schlesinger Jr., described it as “the greatest combination of sex and politics ever seen in a film.” And then “Year of the Woman” all but vanished for 42 years, robbing us of a movie that captures–in its raucous, weird, unmistakably ’70s style–one of the most pivotal moments in feminist history. The setting is the Democratic convention in Miami Beach. The time is July 1972. New York Rep. Shirley Chisholm has just completed a groundbreaking campaign for the presidency (“I ran because someone had to do it first,” she would later write), and the National Women’s Political Caucus, founded by icons including Betty Friedan, Dorothy Height and Gloria Steinem, is trying to leverage women’s power at a political convention for the first time.

LAPD Pressed Gun To Chest & Shot Unarmed Homeless Man

By Jeff Sharlet un GQ - Five months after the March 1 Los Angeles police killing of an unarmed black man named Charly "Africa" Keunang—a story I reported in-depth for the July issue of GQ—the Los Angeles coroner has finally released the results of its autopsy. They are profoundly disturbing. Two of the six bullets that killed Charly entered his body through what are called "contact gunshot wounds"—which means the muzzle of the officer's gun was pressed directly against Charly's body. Like a slaughterhouse killing. I'd already reviewed a less-detailed autopsy report commissioned privately by Keunang's family and had access to leaked body-cam videos and recordings of internal police interviews with several of the officers involved. Even so, the autopsy report is startling. There's a moment in the body-cam video when it appears to me that Officer Francisco Martinez has his hand on Charly's torso—Charly is on his back after having been wrestled down and tased—with his gun pointed at the body.

The Cost Of Failing To Comply With Structural Racism

By Zachary Norris in Truth Out - As a member of Black Lives Matter Bay Area, I attended last weekend's Movement for Black Lives convening in Cleveland, Ohio, and witnessed a whole new generation of us following. We are refusing compliance. While I was in Ohio, the Ella Baker Center for Human Rights, the organization of which I am the executive director, hosted a vigil and speak out for Sandra Bland back in Oakland. Black women claimed the space and expressed their rage over what happened to Sandra, the many injustices they have experienced at the hands of the state, and the need for revolutionary change. We are not asking for entrance or acceptance into this order of things. We see a Black president presiding over the country, and the killings haven't stopped. We know the president has his own "kill list." In a country such as this one, the simple demand that Black lives matter has always been a demand for a whole new order of things.

Why I Will Be Fasting For No New Permits

By Greg Yost in Beyond Extreme Energy - The trouble with FERC is that it is staffed and run through a revolving door with the industry it’s supposed to regulate. FERC is essentially unable to resist giving the gas industry anything it wants. This means billions of dollars are being spent on new infrastructure which will lock in fossil fuel dependence for another generation. At the precise time we need to be using our limited financial resources to transition to a new kind of economy based on clean energy, the gas and oil companies want us ratepayers to underwrite their efforts to squeeze the last remaining profits from their dirty and outdated businesses. So that’s why Beyond Extreme Energy is organizing a water-only Fast For No New Permits in front of FERC from September 8th–25th. Participants will gather in DC where some will fast for the entire period while others will join it as they are able. The fast coincides with Pope Francis’ visit to the United States and his address to the Congress and the United Nations.

Celebrate Medicare’s Anniversary By Improving & Expanding To All

By Robert Zarr in PNHP - Medicare was originally conceived as a first step toward covering everyone in our society under a national health insurance program. We need to fulfill Medicare’s promise. We need an improved Medicare for All, a national single-payer health care system, to efficiently and equitably cover everyone in the United States. Today the original Medicare program stands like a rock in a troubled sea of waste, inefficiency and profiteering in the rest of our health care system, dominated as it is by big private insurers whose paramount goal is to maximize their bottom lines. Commercial insurers increase their bottom lines by enrolling the healthy, avoiding the sick, denying claims, increasing premiums, and erecting barriers to care like co-pays, high deductibles, bureaucratic thickets, and narrow networks.

Medicare’s 50th Birthday Celebrated Across Nation

By Sarah Lazare in Common Dreams - From California to Florida to Maine, communities in 25 cities across the United States are staging rallies, picnics, and flash mobs this week to celebrate Thursday's 50th anniversary of Medicare—and call for its expansion into a system that provides publicly-funded healthcare for all. "It is urgent that we continue organizing for the right to healthcare by fighting efforts to roll back or privatize Medicare and joining with movements around the country to establish a publicly-financed healthcare system that includes all people," Ellen Schwartz, president of the Vermont Workers' Center, told Common Dreams. The nationwide actions marking President Lyndon B. Johnson's July 30, 1965 signing of the bill that created Medicare were organized by a broad array5 of organizations including Physicians for a National Health Program, Alliance for Retired Americans, National Nurses United (NNU), and Public Citizen.

Africa To Obama: Mind Your Own Business

By Andrew M Mwenda in Al Jazeera - United States President Barack Obama is the most admired foreign leader in Africa because he has ancestral roots in our continent. This is partly the reason his ill-informed and stereotypical admonitions of our leaders attracted cheers from a large section of our elite class. But it is also because we African elites have internalised the ideology of our conquerors that presents us as inferior, inadequate, and incapable of self-government. Bob Marley's words that we must liberate ourselves from mental slavery are important here. In his speech to the African Union in Addis Ababa on Tuesday, Obama acted like a colonial headman lecturing the natives on how to behave as good subjects. Yet behind Obama's seeming concern for our good lies the social contempt he holds us in.

Why the Fossil Fuel Divestment Movement May Ultimately Win

That’s because the goal of the divestment campaign is not, and has never been, to do financial harm to fossil fuel companies by causing investors to sell their shares. “Divestment isn’t primarily an economic strategy, but a moral and political one,” says on its Go Fossil Free website The divestment campaign aims, first, to build a bigger and stronger climate movement, and, second, to put the fossil fuel industry on the defensive by attacking its reputation and challenging the long-term viability of its business in a climate-constrained world. “Calling for divestment is about targeting the fossil fuel industry, taking away its social license to operate, like tobacco, like apartheid,” says Ellen Dorsey, the executive director of the Wallace Global Fund.

Say Her Name: Protesters In Chicago Demand Justice For Sandra Bland

By Kelly Hayes in Truthout - This week, from Dallas to San Diego to the Midwest, activists and community members around the United States are answering a national call to demand justice for Sandra Bland, a Black woman and activist who died in police custody on July 13. In Chicago, protesters lifted up Sandra Bland's name on Michigan Avenue on July 28, as hundreds of protesters lined a bridge over the Chicago River, urging those who believe Black lives matter to "say her name." While a great deal of public discourse has focused on whether or not Sandra Bland committed suicide, or died as a result of police brutality, participants in Tuesday night's event carried a broader message - that the system was responsible for Sandra Bland's death regardless of the specifics of her death. In the words of organizer Mariame Kaba, "I don't care about the CSI version of how she died. The system killed her. The rest is superfluous."

World’s Largest Rooftop Greenhouse Coming To Chicago

By Lorraine Chow in EcoWatch - Chicago probably isn’t the first place that comes to mind when you think of farming, but the city’s Pullman Park district will soon be home to the largest rooftop greenhouse in the world. Once construction is complete, the behemoth 75,000 square foot green space, built and operated by Gotham Greens, will be larger than a football stadium and even some city blocks. As Business Insider puts it, “For some perspective on the size of the greenhouse: the average size of a city block in many parts of the U.S.—including Portland, Oregon and Houston, Texas—is 67,600 square feet. An NFL football field is 57,600 square feet. This greenhouse is larger than all of these things.” According to a Gotham Greens, the greenhouse will produce up to 1 million pounds of sustainably grown, pesticide-free produce annually. The harvest will also be distributed through local retailers, restaurants, farmer’s markets and community groups.

Seattle City Councilmember Blows Whistle On ALEC (&ACCE)

By Nick Licata in PR Watch - There was one problem in finding out—ALEC is open only to state legislators or private-interest parties, i.e. corporations or business associations. Being neither, I wouldn’t be able to get into their conference. A break came last year when ALEC formed ACCE (the American City County Exchange) for city and county public officials. It was to take ALEC’s organizational approach of helping these elected representatives pass laws that could cut taxes, limit government and promote free markets (i.e. turn over government services and functions to businesses). I had assumed that this was a closed association, and that I would be required to take an oath or be screened and approved for admission. There have been Democratic state legislators who experienced difficulty in getting admitted into ALEC meetings. But in the end, they were admitted. Why?

Philippines Factory Fire: 72 Workers Need Not Have Died

By Irene Pietropaoli in The Guardian - The factory was required to have a raft of permits from different bodies including a business permit from the local authority, a fire permit from the Bureau of Fire Protection (BFP) and a certificate of compliance from the Department of Labour and Employment (DOLE). It should also have had a special permit for the welding that caused the fire. But the factory either ignored or was allowed to circumvent many of the safety procedures. Regarding the welding permit, Kentex’s lawyer says the work was done by a third party and “we relied on their manifestation of being experts and authorities in their line of work, we already assumed that they would secure all necessary permits and requirements for them to do their jobs and execute the agreement to fix our shutter doors”.
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