By Emma Fiala for Mint Press News - DICKINSON, TX — The town of Dickinson, Texas is home to just over 20,000 people, an annual crawfish festival, and one of the most absurd requirements for disaster relief imaginable. The town recently made non-support of the Boycott, Divestment, Sanctions (BDS) campaign a condition for receiving hurricane aid. How can a small town like Dickinson put forth such a gratuitous disaster relief requirement? In this case, the apple doesn’t fall far from the tree — Dickinson is simply following in the footsteps of the entire state of Texas. Recently, Texas banned any contractor who supports the BDS campaign from receiving state funds. In the opinion of Texas Governor Greg Abbott, anti-Israel policies are anti-Texas policies. Despite the head-scratching nature of that claim, at least to many critics in- and out-of-state, House Bill 89 was signed into law in July. The bill specifies that the state may enter into a contract with a business only if that business does not boycott Israel. The bill also takes the extra step of specifying that businesses must “not boycott Israel during the term of the contract” either. The legislation also prohibits the state from entering into a contract with a business that refuses to buy products made in Israeli settlements — settlements that are illegally located on Palestinian land.
By Whitney Webb for Eco Watch - While the Pentagon has framed its efforts to "assist" as seeking to eliminate a potential human health risk, the particular chemical it is using to control insect populations is likely to do more harm than good. According to the Air Force, the mosquito control protocol involves spraying the "Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) approved and regulated material, Naled," which the Air Force insists will not be used in amounts large enough to "cause any concern for human health." However, the insecticide Naled, manufactured and sold by a strategic partner of Monsanto, is currently banned in the European Union due to the "unacceptable risk" it presents to human health. Naled is a known neurotoxin in animals and humans, as it inhibits acetylcholinesterase—an enzyme essential to nerve function and communication—and has even been known to have caused paralysis. Mounting scientific evidence, including a recent Harvard study, has also pointed to Naled's responsibility for the mass die-off of North American bees. Just one day of Naled spraying in South Carolina killed more than 2.5 million bees last year. Yet, the most concerning consequence Naled poses for human health is the chemical's ability to cross the placental barrier—meaning that Naled freely crosses from mother to fetus.
By Bill Quigley for Popular Resistance. Dear Fellow Hurricane Survivors: Our hearts go out to you as you try to return to and fix your homes and lives. Based on our experiences, here are a few things you should watch out for as you rebuild your communities. Here are twelve lessons from a survivor of Hurricane Katrina which hit New Orleans. The final two points are: Don’t allow those in power to forget about the people whose voices are never heard. People in nursing homes, people in hospitals, the elderly, the disabled, children, the working poor, renters, people of color, immigrants and prisoners. There is no need to be a voice for the voiceless, because all these people have voices, they are just not listened to. Help lift their voices and their stories up because the voices of business and industry and people with money and connections will do just fine. It is our other sisters and brothers who are always pushed to the back of the line. Stand with them as they struggle to reclaim their rightful place. Twelve. Realize that you have human rights to return to your community and to be made whole. Protect your human rights and the human rights of others.
By Mike Ludwig for Truthout. The protesters are growing in numbers, and their actions are becoming more direct, as they set their sights on opposing both existing oil and gas infrastructure as well as blocking new pipelines and plants from being constructed. For environmentalists in the Gulf, where sea levels are rising and precious wetlands that protect against floods and storm surges are rapidly melting into the sea, this resistance is becoming a matter of survival. Cherri Foytlin said one of the big concerns among people showing up from Port Arthur was whether cancerous chemicals like benzene were floating in the floodwaters they waded through to get to and from their homes. The health effects of chemicals leaching from damaged refineries and flaring into the air may not become apparent until years down the road. "Most of those refineries, if not all of them, went underwater, and there were a lot of concerns about what was actually in the water, and we don't know because it's proprietary information," Foytlin
By Marianne Lavelle for Inside Climate News - With the lives of Texans and Floridians upended by back-to-back superstorms, one thing hasn't been shaken: climate change denial. Hurricane Harvey, which broke the continental U.S. rainfall record with its deluge of southeast Texas, and Hurricane Irma, barreling toward South Florida as one of the most powerful tropical cyclones ever recorded, epitomize the consensus science warnings of heightened risks in a warming world. The last peer-reviewed National Climate Assessment, in 2014, highlighted extreme precipitation and the increasing intensity of Atlantic hurricanes as looming perils for the United States. But steadfast opponents of action on global warming are either sticking to their guns or avoiding comment, while Trump administration officials declare it inappropriate to discuss climate amid tragedy. Texas politicians have been particularly silent on climate change's tie to the storm that ravaged their state. InsideClimate News received no response from Texas' two senators, Republicans Ted Cruz and John Cornyn, or from Congressmen representing districts on the southeast coast that were affected by Harvey.
By Jake Johnson for Common Dreams - According to a "landmark" study published in the journal Climatic Change on Thursday, the answer is clear: Big Oil. "We know that the costs of both hurricanes will be enormous and that climate change will have made them far larger than they would have been otherwise," write Peter Frumhoff and Myles Allen, two of the study's co-authors, in a piece for the Guardian. The research also shows, they note, that massive oil companies have disproportionately contributed to rising sea levels and soaring levels of atmospheric carbon dioxide while deceiving the public about the costs of their business practices. "Strikingly, nearly 30 percent of the rise in global sea level between 1880 and 2010 resulted from emissions traced to the 90 largest carbon producers," their study found. "More than six percent of the rise in global sea level resulted from emissions traced to ExxonMobil, Chevron, and BP, the three largest contributors." The study also found that "the 90 largest carbon producers contributed approximately 57 percent of the observed rise in atmospheric carbon dioxide, nearly 50 percent of the rise in global average temperature."
By Eleanor Goldfield for Occupy - The storm Hurricane Harvey may be over but the aftermath is just beginning. Letting history be our guide, we take a look at the capitalist machine that not only pulls protection against the worst storms but through shock doctrine moves orchestrates an aftermath that far overshadows the natural disaster that came before. With 12 years distance from Hurricane Katrina, we can see the trajectory that our government’s continued failings might take in Houston and the surrounding areas. On the flip side, we take a look at those filling the gaping chasms left by the system - the people on the ground, spearheading community aid and relief efforts. And guess what: very often, they’re the same people demonized in the media for punching fascists.
By Anthony Torres for AlterNet - Wednesday night, I joined dozens of D.C. residents for a vigil of mourning and reckoning outside the D.C. residence of Secretary of State Rex Tillerson, former ExxonMobil CEO. We mourned for our sisters and brothers in Texas, Bangladesh, Mumbai and Sierra Leone drowning in their homes. We leveraged our resources to raise funds for the community organizations that will sustain the organizing needed for just and equitable recoveries. As we mourned, we also condemned those responsible for these human catastrophes: the oil barons and politicians who profit off of climate disaster. We gathered just before sunset at a neighborhood park in Kalorama, one of D.C.’s most exclusive neighborhoods, home of Ivanka Trump, President Obama and Rex Tillerson. Led by local leaders from Sunrise Movement, Hip Hop Caucus, Rising Hearts Coalition, 350 DC, Interfaith Power and Light and more, we marched in song, hand in hand, toward Rex’s multimillion-dollar residence. Upon arriving, we lit our candles and raised them toward the building to shine a light through this dark hour. While we stood in prayer, nearly a dozen police stood between us and his front door...
By Gretchen Goldman for USCUSA - As Harvey continues to wreak havoc in the Southeast, one issue is starting to emerge as a growing threat to public health and safety: Houston’s vast oil, gas, and chemical production landscape. We’ve already seen accidental releases of chemicals at facilities owned by ExxonMobil, Chevron, and others. Now we are seeing explosions at Arkema’s Crosby facility 20 miles northeast of Houston, due to power failures and flooding. And there remains a threat of additional explosions. There is no reason to believe the Crosby facility is the only one at risk of chemical disasters right now. The coast of southeast Texas and Louisiana has a whole lot of petrochemical production—infrastructure that was exactly in the path of Hurricane Harvey and continues to be hit by its remnants. I’ve studied (and been worried about) chemical safety, sea level rise, and storm surge riskto oil and gas infrastructure in the Gulf for several years, and many of those fears are now playing out. Here are some things we know about petrochemical production in the Gulf, its storm risks, who’s impacted, and who’s responsible.
By Jason Dearen and Michael Misecker for Associated Press. The Associated Press surveyed seven Superfund sites in and around Houston during the flooding. All had been inundated with water, in some cases many feet deep. On Saturday, hours after the AP published its first report, the EPA said it had reviewed aerial imagery confirming that 13 of the 41 Superfund sites in Texas were flooded by Harvey and were "experiencing possible damage" due to the storm. The statement confirmed the AP's reporting that the EPA had not yet been able to physically visit the Houston-area sites, saying the sites had "not been accessible by response personnel." EPA staff had checked on two Superfund sites in Corpus Christi on Thursday and found no significant damage. AP journalists used a boat to document the condition of one flooded Houston-area Superfund site, but accessed others with a vehicle or on foot. The EPA did not immediately respond to questions about why its personnel had not yet been able to do so.
By Neil Demause for Fairness and Accuracy in Reporting. as Hurricane Harvey has wreaked devastating flooding across southeast Texas, reporters’ ability to notice the nearly one-third of Americans living in or near poverty has again been put to the test. And though direct comparisons with Katrina are tough—Harvey is a different storm, playing out over days of rising waters instead of mere hours, and Houston chose not to call for residents to evacuate as New Orleans did in 2005—news coverage has revealed some of the same blind spots that have plagued reporting on previous natural disasters. The slow progression of floodwaters made for plenty of ready-made drama: At times, CNN seemed to have converted itself into a 24-hour rescue network, with tales of narrow escapes and heroic first responders.
By George Monbiot for The Guardian - This is a manmade climate-related disaster. To ignore this ensures our greatest challenge goes unanswered and helps push the world towards catastrophe. It is not only Donald Trump’s government that censors the discussion of climate change; it is the entire body of polite opinion. This is why, though the links are clear and obvious, most reports on Hurricane Harvey have made no mention of the human contribution to it. In 2016 the US elected a president who believes that human-driven global warming is a hoax. It was the hottest year on record, in which the US was hammered by a series of climate-related disasters. Yet the total combined coverage for the entire year on the evening and Sunday news programmes on ABC, CBS, NBC and Fox News amounted to 50 minutes. Our greatest predicament, the issue that will define our lives, has been blotted from the public’s mind. This is not an accident. But nor (with the exception of Fox News) is it likely to be a matter of policy. It reflects a deeply ingrained and scarcely conscious self-censorship. Reporters and editors ignore the subject because they have an instinct for avoiding trouble.
By Joshua Frank for Counter Punch - What does Coulter believe then? That Harvey is nothing new? Actually, it is, no matter what Coulter tweets. Harvey is now the heaviest rainstorm in US history and was made worse by our warming climate. There’s little scientific doubt about it. As climate scientist Katharine Hayhoe and many others point out, as the world warms, evaporation of water increases, which means there is more water vapor in storms and more rain to dump compared to 70 years ago. In basic terms, warmer air is able to hold more water and hence more rainfall is likely to occur. Hurricane intensity in the future is predicted to increase as our climate warms. The Gulf of Mexico’s surface temp increased almost 5 degreesFahrenheit as Harvey was building last week. These waters, one of the warmest ocean surfaces on the planet at the time, along with warmer air temps, allowed Harvey to turn from a tropical storm into a cat 4 hurricane almost overnight. Even Coulter’s God couldn’t stop it. Coulter and her fans probably wouldn’t want the floods to dry up anyway, because when crisis hits there is money to be made and victims to rip off. As Ken Klippenstein first reported, a Best Buy in Cypress, an unincorporated suburb of Houston in Harris County, began selling packs of bottled water for $42.96.