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October 2015

Worries Over Oil, Gas Industry Exposure To Water And Climate Risks

By Sharon Kelly for Truth-Out - When it comes to financial risks surrounding water, there is one industry that, according to a new report, is both among the most exposed to these risks and the least transparent to investors about them: the oil and gas industry. This year, 1,073 of the world’s largest publicly listed companies faced requests from institutional investors concerned about the companies’ vulnerability to water-related risks that they disclose their plans for adapting and responding to issues like drought or water shortages.

6,000 Prisoners Make Their Way Home

By Amber Hall of The Takeaway - Over the next three days, 6,000 will be released from federal prisons. The decision to release the prisoners came last April from the U.S. Sentencing Commission, a judicial agency which voted to reduce sentences for drug-related crimes. For many, it's been years since they've freely walked outside prison gates—the average inmate in this release will have served nine years. What's next for them? Re-entry, the process by which former inmates acclimate back into society. Some will have families waiting for them, others will go to treatment centers, and many others will be on their own.

Protests Are Putting A Serious Dent In Tar Sands Expansion

By Katie Valentine for Climate Progress - All of those marches, rallies, arrests, and inflatable pipelines are working. That’s the main finding of a report released this week by pro-clean energy group Oil Change International. According to the report, public opposition has been successful in stopping or delaying tar sands pipeline construction in North America. The existing pipelines carrying oil from Alberta’s tar sands region are 89 percent full, meaning that expansion of tar sands development depends heavily on new pipelines to get that oil to market. Oil Change International’s models found that without new pipelines or expansions on existing routes, tar sands producers will run out of pipeline capacity by 2017.

Buddy Bell: The China Pivot

By Staff of Z Communications Daily Commentary - For the last week, I’ve been walking on a peace march organized by the Nipponzan Myohoji order of Buddhist monks. This march is similar in some ways to another: the Okinawa “Beggars’ March” of 1955-1956. At that time, farmers who had been forcefully removed from their fields by U.S. soldiers in the years following World War II acted peacefully to demand the return of their land, which was the source of their entire livelihood. Some of the farmers had their land stolen at gunpoint. In other cases, U.S. soldiers posing as surveyors duped them into signing English land-transfer documents that were passed off as invoices for the false land surveys.

What Sort Of Assessment DOES Enhance Learning?

By Anthony Cody for Living in Dialogue - In recent weeks we have heard President Obama talk about the value of tests – even as he acknowledges that they have become too pervasive. President Obama suggested we should have tests that “enhance instruction,” and “enhance teaching and learning.” Unfortunately, the standardized tests his administration has promoted and continues to require do none of these things. There are, however, ways to assess learning that DO enhance learning, rather than stifle it.

Urban Outfitters Kills Off On-Call Scheduling Nationwide

By Sapna Maheshwari for Buzzfeed - Urban Outfitters is the latest retailer to abandon the controversial practice of on-call scheduling in its stores nationwide, just weeks after it was criticized for only stopping the practice in New York, where the state attorney general is investigating whether it breaches labor laws. The retailer, which also owns Free People and Anthropologie, said earlier this month it would stop scheduling employees for call-in shifts in New York, where Attorney General Eric Schneiderman said the unpaid shifts may be violating state law. Other retailers that announced plans to abolish call-in shifts in recent months, including Gap, Victoria’s Secret and J.Crew, did not restrict the change to New York.

Cafeteria Union Workers Demand Restaurant Employees Get Better Pay

By Clark Mindock of IBTimes - U.S. Senate aides brown-bagged their lunches this week in support of cafeteria workers on Capitol Hill hoping to unionize. The aides were aligning themselves with a broader push by federally contracted workers to unionize and demand higher wages in one of the most expensive cities in the country. Senate cafeteria workers associated with the movement have alleged that the company contracted to provide meals in the underbelly of the Capitol has illegally retaliated against their organizing efforts. The workers are employed by private employer Restaurant Associates, which is contracted to run a subsidized business that feeds senators and their staff.

Time To Stop Worshipping Economic Growth

By Brent Blackwelder of Casse - There are physical limits to growth on a finite planet. In 1972, the Club of Rome issued their groundbreaking report—Limits to Growth (twelve million copies in thirty-seven languages). The authors predicted that by about 2030, our planet would feel a serious squeeze on natural resources, and they were right on target. In 2009, the Stockholm Resilience Center introduced the concept of planetary boundariesto help the public envision the nature of the challenges posed by limits to growth and physical/biological boundaries. They defined nine boundaries critical to human existence that, if crossed, could generate abrupt or irreversible environmental changes.

Zeese: The War On The War On Drugs

By Eleanor Goldfield of Act Out for - The interview examines howending the drug war, especially the war on marijuana, has moved from being a third rail politicial issue to having widespread mainstream support. The legalization of marijuana in Colorado and three other states with more on the horizon is not showing any serious problems and is bringing in millions of dollars in new taxes while savings millions on law enforcement. Zeese explains how the most powerful way to deal with drug abuse is not laws that make them illegal, which have all sorts of unexpected consequences, but cultural controls where people learn what is appropriate and inappropriate drug use. These cultural controls are actually undermined by the war on drugs. Zeese also explains how the drug war is linked to other issues in that (1) we are seeking justice on a wide range of issus including police violence, fair and living wages, climate justice, housing justice and the like; and (2) progress toward justice is blocked by a power structure that puts profits ahead of the necessities of the people and the protection of the planet. He urges us to understand the links between these issue so that we can build a bigger social movement for economic, racial and enviornmental justice.

The Story Of The Seattle Race Curriculum Controversy Finally In Print

Jon Greenberg for Citizenship and Social Justice - It’s finally here: the story of the Seattle Race Curriculum Controversy in print (at least 1700 words of it, anyway). I confess that Z Magazine wasn’t my first choice for publication. I haven’t read the magazine, promoted in the classic lefty documentary Manufacturing Consent, in about a decade. Then I learned that Noam Chomsky contributed to the same issue that featured this story, and I remembered why I used to subscribe. ZThe link to the Z Magazine article is here, but I decided to repost the story as a blog post so I could reinsert all of the links that disappear in print.

A Tale Of Two Retirements

By Scott Klinger and Sarah Anderson for IPS - This report, co-published by the Institute for Policy Studies and the Center for Effective Government, is the first to provide detailed statistics on the staggering gap between the retirement assets of Fortune 500 CEOs and the rest of America. Key findings: The company-sponsored retirement assets of just 100 CEOs add up to as much as the entire retirement account savings of 41% of American families (50 million families in total). The 100 largest CEO retirement accounts are worth an average of more than $49.3 million—enough to generate a $277,686 monthly retirement check for each executive for the rest of their lives.

FBI Director Admits Use Of Spy Planes Over Ferguson, Baltimore

By Tom Hall for WSWS - FBI Director James Comey admitted in testimony last week before the House Judiciary Committee that the agency conducted surveillance flights over mass protests against police brutality in Ferguson, Missouri and Baltimore, Maryland over the past year, at the request of local police departments. Comey’s remarks confirmed an earlier Associated Press report revealing the FBI’s extensive use of secret flyovers throughout the country. The hearing itself, mislabeled as being dedicated to the “Oversight of the Federal Bureau of Investigation,” was a further indication of the ability of government agencies like the FBI to carry out illegal mass surveillance against the American population with impunity.

7 Days till Shutdown: Homeless Students Need Same Internet Access

By Staff of Voqal - When families with students enrolled at Central Pennsylvania Digital Learning Foundation can’t afford Internet access, the cyber school provides affordable solutions through Mobile Citizen. According to Technology Coordinator Micheal Tambellini, the number of families requiring connectivity assistance is growing. “We have a small percentage of homeless students enrolled today, and unfortunately that number seems to be increasing,” he said. “To keep up with the curriculum, they need the same Internet access as all of our other cyber students.”

To Understand Presidential Primaries, Recognize Impact Of Movements

By Kevin Zeese and Margaret Flowers for Mint Press News - BALTIMORE — Confusion reigns in the Democratic and Republican primaries. Huffington Post political reporters write, “It’s Time To Admit: Nobody Knows Anything About The 2016 Campaign,” now that “the old ‘rules’ of presidential politics no longer seem to apply.” Why the confusion? Media pundits have not given credit to the popular movements on both the right and left. This election cycle is showing the impact of social movements on the primary campaigns — both in the polling results and in the candidates’ rhetoric. On the Republican side, Tea Party anger is showing itself. Republicans co-opted this movement, but its members are dissatisfied with elected Republicans and are turning to non-politicians.

When Bank Workers Occupy the Banks

By Michelle Chen for The Nation - After about eight years of seeing Main Street households get owned by Big Finance, front-line bank workers are now trying to reclaim Wall Street, branch by branch. In Los Angeles, where communities are still reeling from the financial crisis, front-line bank employees, and activists last week occupied the lobbies of Wells Fargo and Bank of America and demanded fair terms for the customers and the workforce. As we’ve reported previously, bank workers have been organizing to demand more equitable banking practices for those buying and selling some of the most lucrative financial products at the community level.
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