Sunday, July 27, 2014

21 arrested in Utah Tar Sands fight

On Tuesday, authorities in PR Springs — about an hour outside of Moab, Utah — arrested 21 people for blockading building equipment at a construction site on indigenous Ute land. The machinery in question belongs to U.S. Oil Sands, which recently began the preparatory work for what could become the first tar sands mine in the United States. Should the project reach completion, the 213-acre property stands to produce 184 billion barrels of bitumen — a tough, sticky fuel at extraction that needs to be chemically diluted by passing through extensive pipelines before burning.

For over two years, activists with the Tar Sands Blockade have fought extractive development incursions in the United States, with Utah Tar Sands Resistance and Peaceful Uprising — the groups that organized Tuesday’s actions — confronting the fossil fuel industry in Utah. Bitumen dilution makes oil sands extraction a construction-heavy process, and oil pipelines are notorious for spills, leaks and other malfunctions that bring with them considerable health risks and environmental destruction for surrounding human and ecological communities. The Keystone XL pipeline has been the most visible of these projects to face popular pressure, but direct action campaigns across the country.


‘Earth Focus’ Documents How a New Jersey Town Reclaimed Its Water Supply After Decades of Chemical Pollution

Toms River, N.J. was the sort of place people romanticized about as a quintessential setting for the American dream—until a dye manufacturer began dumping its toxic waste in the local water supply.

People were thrilled to welcome Ciba Geigy to Toms River in the ’50s, but soon the town’s reputation inspired monikers like “cancer hotspot.” Unfortunately, that didn’t happen until after more and more people moved to town believing the local government’s assurance that everything was just fine.

 Earth Focus spoke to some of those people who are old enough to remember the transition their town underwent, including the horror their families felt when the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers granted the company a permit to build a 10-mile pipeline enabling the company to dump its waste directly into the Atlantic Ocean. Those people also recall how the pipeline burst in the middle of town years later and how residents, attorneys media and more fought back to reclaim their drinking water.

In the episode’s latter half, Earth Focus examines illegal gold mining in Peru and its tragic impact on human health and the environment. The topic was featured in the 2012 film, Amazon Gold.

EPA Is Failing to Stop Methane Leaks From Pipelines, Inspector General Says

The Environmental Protection Agency isn’t doing enough to prevent methane from escaping from natural gas pipelines, according to a new report from the agency’s internal watchdog.

The report, published Friday by the EPA’s Inspector General, stated that in 2011, more than $192 million worth of natural gas was lost due to leaks in pipelines. The report said that the agency, which until now has “placed little focus and attention on reducing methane emissions from pipelines in the natural gas distribution center,” needs to take steps to better prevent methane from escaping. It recommended that the EPA work with the Pipelines and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration (PHMSA) to try to fix the problem, a partnership President Barack Obama has also called for.

Up until now, however, the EPA has only implemented a program that encourages natural gas companies to reduce their methane emissions voluntarily, but doesn’t require them to do so. So far, that program hasn’t done enough, the report states.


Top Agribusiness Food Companies Dumping Waste in our Waters

Companies like Tyson Foods, Cargill, Inc., and Perdue Farms Inc. dump their garbage—more than 206 million pounds of it—into our water almost every year and leave others to worry about the clean-up. Now, as the Environmental Protection Agency considers a rule to restore the Clean Water Act, these companies are pulling out all the stops to maintain their freedom to dump and pollute, regardless of the toxic outcomes.

Tyson Foods, who primarily produces chicken, sends over 18 million pounds of toxic chemicals into U.S. waterways every single year, according to a new report from Environment America. They account for 9 percent of the nationwide total, and they share their top spot with other similar corporate agribusiness and food producing companies who are sending waste into the Great Lakes, the Chesapeake Bay, Mississippi River, and Puget Sound, among other U.S. waterways.


Coal Giant Ordered To Cease Mining Operations In Tennessee

The federal Office of Surface Mining Reclamation and Enforcement (OSMRE) has issued 39 cessation orders against three Jim Justice owned companies in Tennessee. The subsidiaries in question - National Coal, Premium Coal and S&H Mining - have also been issued "Notice of Violations” from OSMRE under the Surface Mining Control and Reclamation Act (SMCRA) for failing to report water monitoring data and for road maintenance violations and a failure to meet mine reclamation requirements. The total financial cost of the violations is not known at this time. OSMRE recently held public hearings on cessation orders against Premium Coal mining operations in Anderson County, Tenn. The hearings were held to address the company's failure to meet reclamation requirements when they did not plant trees and other vegetation on disturbed areas at two mine sites within the timeframe required by their mining permits. Since the hearings, a letter of decision for both permits has been issued by OSMRE denying Premium Coal's request to drop the cessation orders. "You’d think a coal billionaire could hire firms that can plant a tree the right way around. Sadly, Premium Coal's reasoning for not meeting permit requirements was simply that they ran out of time and hired a bad crew that planted trees upside down with the roots sticking up," said Sierra Club Organizer Bonnie Swinford. “Justice and his firms have a legal responsibility to ensure adequate reclamation of strip-mined land in our state—and upside-down trees don’t cut it. Justice owned companies should hire local tree-planting companies and use the best possible reclamation practices.”


First Nation Demands Ontario Halt Clear-Cut Logging On Their Lands

On July 31, members of the Grassy Narrows First Nation will head to the Ontario Legislative Building in Toronto and are calling on supporters to join them “in a walk for clean water and indigenous rights.” Two days before, on July 29, there will be a speaking event with Grassy Narrows Clan Mother Judy Da Silva, Grassy Narrows Chief Roger Fobister, writer and activist Leanne Simpson, and Stephen Lewis. Here's why: It is shocking that neither Canada nor the province of Ontario have recognized even one case of mercury poisoning in the 50 years since the province allowed 10 tonnes of mercury to be dumped into the Wabigoon River, which provides numerous communities with water and fish. It is even more shocking that this river has never been cleaned up and continues to provide these communities with water and fish. In the U.S., the Environmental Protection Agency advise that any spill larger than 2 tablespoons of mercury should be reported to the state environmental agency, and it is mandatory to call the National Response Center. But just north of the border, tonnes of mercury can be put into river systems with little concern about cleanup, remediation and human health – apparently. Citizens of Grassy Narrows, however, can’t afford to ignore mercury contamination. Grassy Narrows, or Asubpeechoseewagong in Anishnaabe, is located in Treaty 3 territory in northern Ontario. It is one of the communities still facing the impacts of the Dryden pulp and paper mill’s reckless disposal of mercury more than a half century after the spill.


Breaking: Gaza Death Toll Over 1,000

The death toll in Gaza has passed 1,000, Palestinian medical officials say, 19 days after Israel launched an offensive against Hamas militants. It comes amid a 12-hour humanitarian truce, which Gaza residents have been using to gather essential supplies and retrieve bodies buried under rubble. . . . Gaza officials said more than 100 bodies had been retrieved from under the rubble of shelled buildings during the brief ceasefire, which expires at 20:00 local time. About 5,870 Palestinians have also been wounded in the 19 days of fighting, health officials say. The Israel Defense Forces (IDF) said three soldiers were killed in fighting overnight, bringing the total number of Israeli deaths to 40 soldiers and two civilians. The Israeli military says it will continue to "locate and neutralise" Hamas tunnels during the pause.


Support parole for Dr Mutulu Shakur

Please circulate:

Political prisoner Dr. Mutulu Shakur is scheduled to have his next parole hearing on Tuesday, August 12th. Family and Friends of Dr. Mutulu Shakur have incurred legal expenses in preparing for this hearing so we are calling on supporters nationally and internationally to make contributions to help cover these expenses. Any excess funds will be used to support Dr. Shakur’s transition out of prison. This is a crucial time to show support!

Below are the 3 different ways you can contribute:

* Credit card donations can be made by Paypal through the ‘Donate‘ button at; You can become a monthly donor by selecting the option to make it recurring
* By check or money order payable to Family & Friends of Dr. Mutulu Shakur and mailed to: S. Wilson 1000 Park Place #3, Brooklyn, NY 11213.
* If you would like your contribution to be tax deductible, checks or money orders can be made out to: IFCO/Family and Friends of Dr. Mutulu Shakur, follow the directions at, option #2

Learn more:

Not in my backyard: US sending dirty coal abroad

"Obama-Exporting Pollution: US sending dirty coal abroad," by Dina Cappiello in Newport News, Va., with David Rising in Berlin and and Kirsten Grieshaber in Luenen, Germany: "Coal from Appalachia rumbles into this port city ... [T]he massive cargo ship Prime Lily ... soon sets sail for South America, its 80,000 tons of coal destined for power plants and factories, an export of American energy -- and pollution. ... 'This is the single biggest flaw in U.S. climate policy,' said Roger Martella, the former general counsel at the [EPA] under President George W. Bush. 'Although the administration is moving forward with climate change regulations at home, we don't consider how policy decisions in the United States impact greenhouse gas emissions in other parts of the world.'

"This fossil fuel trade, which has soared under President Obama, threatens to undermine his strategy to reduce the gases blamed for global warming. It also reveals a ... side effect of countries acting alone on a global issue. As the U.S. tries to set a global example by reducing demand for fossil fuels at home, American energy companies are sending more dirty fuels than ever to other parts of the world ... It's a global shell game on fossil fuels that ... makes the U.S. appear to be making more progress on global warming than it actually is, because it shifts some of the pollution -- and the burden for cleaning it up -- onto another country's balance sheet. ...

"White House officials say ... the best way to address global warming is to reduce coal's use globally. In the meantime, they're considering adding crude oil and natural gas to the menu of U.S. energy exports shipped abroad. 'There may be a very marginal increase in coal exports caused by our climate policies,' said Rick Duke, Obama's deputy climate adviser ... 'Given that coal supply is widely available from many sources, our time is better spent working on leading toward a global commitment to cut carbon pollution on the demand side.'"


#TDIH IL Senator Obama addresses the DNC

10 YEARS AGO TONIGHT - in Boston, at 11:09, eight days from his 43rd birthday -- Illinois state Sen. Barack Obama (identified in most news stories as "U.S. Senate candidate Barack Obama") delivered his history-changing keynote address to the Democratic National Convention: "Tonight is a particular honor for me because, let's face it, my presence on this stage is pretty unlikely. My father was a foreign student, born and raised in a small village in Kenya. ... His father, my grandfather, was a cook, a domestic servant to the British. But my grandfather had larger dreams for his son. Through hard work and perseverance my father got a scholarship to study in a magical place, America, that's shown as a beacon of freedom and opportunity to so many who had come before him. (APPLAUSE)

"While studying here my father met my mother. She was born in a town on the other side of the world, in Kansas. ... My parents shared not only an improbable love; they shared an abiding faith in the possibilities of this nation. They would give me an African name, Barack, or 'blessed,' believing that in a tolerant America, your name is no barrier to success. ...

"Now even as we speak, there are those who are preparing to divide us, the spin masters and negative ad peddlers who embrace the politics of anything goes. Well, I say to them tonight, there's not a liberal America and a conservative America; there's the United States of America. (APPLAUSE) There's not a black America and white America and Latino America and Asian America; there's the United States of America. (APPLAUSE) ...

"[T]he pundits like to slice and dice our country into red states and blue states ... But I've got news for them, too. We worship an awesome God in the blue states, and we don't like federal agents poking around our libraries in the red states. We coach little league in the blue states and, yes, we've got some gay friends in the red states. ...

"America, tonight, if you feel the same energy that I do, if you feel the same urgency that I do, if you feel the same passion that I do, if you feel the same hopefulness that I do, if we do what we must do, then I have no doubt that all across the country, from Florida to Oregon, from Washington to Maine, the people will rise up in November, and John Kerry will be sworn in as president. And John Edwards will be sworn in as vice president. And this country will reclaim its promise. And out of this long political darkness a brighter day will come."