July 21, 2020
President Trump has put in motion a long-nursed impudence of the absolute primacy of his will, now directly against citizens, comprising overt and covert obstruction of knowledge-based information and action regarding public health and safety during a pandemic, illegal use of federal regulatory and police powers, and encouraging brutal attacks by police on both citizens protesting against police brutality and journalists reporting these events. Equally alarming, President Trump has caused the illegal use of anonymous federal police forces on the streets of cities against the will of the cities’ governments in Washington, DC, Portland and most recently Chicago. The Acting Secretary of the Department of Homeland Security mocked the Mayor of Portland, making manifestly false claims about the nature of his forces deployed there and a risibly illegal presumption of the scope of their actions. This week we examine instances of these events, and look briefly at the historical foundations of this will to brutal power in the United States.
But first the news.

The Banner’s Fund Drive

The annual fund drive has received a few graciously generous responses. We are hoping to clear enough funds to operate for the coming 12 months, by the end of August. If you would like to donate, you can do so either online with Paypal or by sending a check. To donate online using Paypal, simply send funds to editor@thebanner.news. To get the editor’s address for mailing a check, please write editor@thebanner.news. And finally, you will have noticed the remarks above about police physically attacking, harming and arresting journalists. These are the days when it is crucial to have substantive public support of reporters and especially those working for independent news organizations. Please take note of the “Donate” and “Contribute” buttons at the end of the stories we bring you here, and do what you can, grand or small. And now for the news…

Table of Contents

NY & Northeast Activist News

National Activist News

Skirmishes With A National Security State

Indigenous Peoples News

Resilience & Deep Adaptation

Intersections

Science & Climate

Industry News

Regulatory & Court News

Politics & Economics

International News

In Case You Missed It

And Now for Something Completely Different


As Heat Wave Strikes, New Yorkers to Rally for Climate Action

Cuomos-Climate-Crisis-Image-for-Die-in

Movement for a Green New Deal to Hold “Die-in” from Climate Crisis Outside Governor’s Office

What: The Movement for a Green New Deal will hold a “die in” in front of Governor Cuomo’s office to dramatize the effects of heat waves, fueled by climate change. The groups will call for Cuomo to enact a New York version of a Green New Deal, specifically demanding a stop to all new fossil fuel projects, a swift transition to 100% renewable energy, public power for all New Yorkers, and a tax on the rich to fund a just transition.

When: 6:00 pm, Tuesday, July 21st, 2020

Where: Governor Cuomo’s midtown office, 633 Third Avenue (between 40th and 41st).

Who: 50-100 activists from 350.org, Food & Water Action, NYC-DSA, New York Communities for Change, and Sunrise NYC.

Visuals: Activists lying down in die-in, signs and banners, and chants. (This event will be socially distanced and activists will wear masks).

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Shut This Pipeline Down!
Stop the North Brooklyn Pipeline

We know it’s never easy to beat a pipeline and it’s going to take a whole host of tactics to defeat this one, but we can do this! We have to. With our communities still suffering from the health and economic impacts of the covid pandemic, we simply cannot physically or financially afford a new dirty fracked gas pipeline.

If we’re going to win we need to turn up the pressure on Governor Cuomo and the Public Service Commission (PSC) and demand they put the people first, not corporate utility profits.

Make One Call

Call Governor Cuomo all week at 877-235-6537 and tell him to reject National Grid’s rate hike for the North Brooklyn fracked gas pipeline.

Submit Your Comment

And if you haven’t yet, submit a written comment to the PSC that will become part of the public record. We’ve written a few suggested talking points but the most powerful statements are your personal reasons for opposing the pipeline.

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New York’s Last Best Chance
to Stop Fracking Waste?

NYFrackingDumps

PA Unconventional Drilling Waste Disposal in NYS, 2011-19. Click for interactive map CREDIT: FracTracker

With legislators set to return to Albany on July 20, activists who have been fighting to keep toxic fracking waste out of New York for years see this special session as their best chance to push crucial legislation over the finish line.

After years of hard work from fracktivists in every region of the state, New York banned fracking in late 2014. But Governor Cuomo has simply refused thus far to deal with the growing problem of fracking waste coming into the state from neighboring Pennsylvania.

Despite the inherently dangerous nature of waste from fracking operations, it is exempt from state and federal hazardous waste regulations. This hazardous waste loophole allows the industry to treat fracking waste in a way that puts New York’s public health and environment at risk.

There is a lot waste coming into New York right now. From 2011-2017 over 600,000 tons of waste from drilling operations in Pennsylvania ended up here in the Empire State – finding its way to landfills, wastewater treatment facilities, and even directly on our roads as part of a deicer.

“Produced water” from oil and gas fracking and drilling, as the industry likes to call it, is a mix of water, sand, and undisclosed chemicals. During the fracking and drilling process, millions of gallons of fresh water are pumped into the ground and then later extracted. Prior to being pumped into the ground, the fresh water is mixed with a suite of chemicals – the identity of which is often known only by the fracking company. This is because oil and gas companies are exempt from rules that would require public disclosure of the chemicals used in the fracking and drilling process. Due to voluntary disclosures by some oil and gas companies, however, we have learned that many of these chemicals are harmful to human health and many are known or suspected carcinogens.

While the oil and gas companies know the identity of the chemicals they are pumping into the earth, nobody knows what is coming back up when the water is later extracted. This is because the fracking and drilling process breaks up the bedrock underground and co-mingles it with the water, sand, and secret chemical mix. Toxic materials that were naturally contained in the Earth’s crust can now find their way to the surface when the wastewater and drill cuttings are extracted from a fracking well. Due to this co-mingling, fracking waste can contain radioactive elements like radium, radon, and barium, and a groundbreaking Rolling Stone article outlined just how dangerous this radioactive waste is to human health.

Further reading Casella Granted Key Permits for Controversial C&d Landfill Expansion in New York | Waste Dive
New York Banned Fracking, But 460,000 Tons Of Fracking Waste Have Been Dumped There | ThinkProgress, 2015
Toxic Crossings – Part of the Knowing Our Waters Project | FracTracker

The unknown nature of fracking and drilling wastewater makes treatment, disposal, storage, and transportation very dangerous. Tanker trucks are the primary method of transporting fracking and drilling wastewater for treatment or disposal. An accident from a wastewater truck would cause serious challenges for a Hazmat team called in to clean a spill because they would not know what chemicals were initially contained in the toxic mix. In a tanker accident, these chemicals could spill into storm sewers or run directly into waterways, further jeopardizing public health and the environment.

Despite all these risks, the Cuomo Administration has thus far refused to address the issue by closing the hazardous waste loophole. That’s why Food & Water Action and our allies have focused on passing legislation to do just that. Last year the Senate passed the bill, but the Assembly failed to bring it to a vote on the floor.

Now, legislators in both houses are facing increased pressure from climate activists and others who have worked for a decade to end New York being the oil and gas industry’s dumping ground.— “New York’s Last Best Chance to Stop Fracking Waste?” Alex Beauchamp, Food & Water Watch, 7/17/20

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New York State’s Pension Fund Divests from 22 Coal Companies

Advocates thank Comptroller DiNapoli, urge faster action on remaining billions of fossil fuel investment.

WASHINGTON – This week, New York State Comptroller announced that the New York State Common Retirement Fund, with assets totaling more than $200 billion, has divested from nearly two dozen thermal coal companies, valued at nearly $90 million. The divestment comes after a review was initiated by the Comptroller’s office in January. Now, with strong momentum behind the Fossil Fuel Divestment Act (S.2126/A.1536), advocates believe this completed review and divestment action represents a big step forward for the pension fund.

“This is a tangible and positive move by the Comptroller and represents a shift in his approach,” said Dominique Thomas with 350.org. “There’s obviously no future in thermal coal and the Comptroller has recognized this and moved the pension fund for over 1 million New Yorkers out of this financially risky and destructive industry.”

The demand to #DivestNY’s pension funds launched the day after Superstorm Sandy devastated New York nearly eight years ago. Members of the intergenerational #DivestNY coalition have garnered significant support for the Fossil Fuel Divestment Act, which currently has nearly 100 sponsors across the state senate and assembly, gaining dozens of new sponsors in recent months. The Act, which is the most advanced divestment legislation in the US, directs the Comptroller, in line with his fiduciary responsibility, to divest the pension fund from all fossil fuels.… —”New York State’s Pension Fund Divests from 22 Coal Companies,” Lindsay Meiman, Common Dreams Newswire, 7/15/20

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Call to action! Organize a local
FFF Shoe Strike in the US or Canada!
Information and registration…

Start: Saturday, July 25, 2020•10:00 AM • Arizona (GMT-07:00)

Host Contact Info: The shoe strike can be set up by any FFF group or any group, with time, date, location as you like, while you practice social distancing!

In late May, various climate groups on their own decided to venture out with shoe strikes in Sweden. The result was over 70 groups joined in the shoe strike accompanied by massive publicity. Some groups in the US and Canada came forward and said, why not us with shoe strikes for climate justice on Saturday July 25?

So here goes with the what, where, and how:

Join and create a shoe strike on your own or with a few others, registering your event on the right hand side here. We put out shoes because we need to observe social distancing while making our message seen! Remember the linkage shoe strike and school strike! We can emphasize here the need for climate justice, as climate impacts will hit above all middle and low income, especially people of color, more adversely. Your group chooses the message

Strong leadership is about being able to look beyond the chaotic present and to act now for what is going on at the same time with the corona crisis, namely the climate crisis.

In the Paris Agreement, 194 countries agreed that the average temperature should be limited to well below 2 degrees with the aim of limiting it to 1.5 degrees. Despite this, greenhouse gas emissions continue to increase. Since the industrialization, we have already raised the average temperature by 1.2 degrees.

The warming means elevated sea levels, dehydrated grazing and land areas and more uninhabitable areas. Glaciers disappear and self-reinforcing effects are created that accelerate climate change even further. Many are being forced away from their homes and the number of climate refugees is increasing significantly. To cope with the climate crisis, we might also raise the call for climate justice.

Our demands of politicians and holders of power is that they immediately, with people and the environment in focus, take the big steps toward a sustainable and secure society:

Put people and the environment first. Prioritize incentive measures that quickly create more jobs in sustainable future sectors. Introduce safety nets and measures to help people retrain and quickly get into work in clean industries that do not emit CO2.

Leave the fossil economy. Ensure that all the financial incentives now being rolled out contribute to the goals of the Paris Agreement and the UN Global Sustainability Goals. Remove fossil subsidies and tax relief for fossil energy. Discontinue all public funding of – or investment in – fossil activities. Set a higher price for carbon dioxide.

Declare a climate emergency. Once declared by political leaders, hold them accountable!

Also urgent is that each of us change our behavior. We share the responsibility to act with politicians, companies, and organizations. A good idea is to measure and reduce your climate footprint. There are several measurement tools available online.

If you have time, feel free to organize one or more shoe strikes. Fill in the information on the right please, whether you shoe strike, or not!

Please remember we must observe social distancing at the shoe strikes and if you anticipate too many, simply build more local shoe strikes in your town! All you need is two or three volunteers, plenty of shoes, and signs.

Register for the July 25th organizational meeting at TheActionNewWork’s FFF Shoe Strike

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Court Rules Bayou Bridge Pipeline
‘Trampled’ Rights of Louisiana Landowners

A Louisiana state appeals court has ruled that the Bayou Bridge Pipeline Company illegally “trampled” on the rights of landowners by starting pipeline construction without the landowners’ permission. The pipeline company must pay the landowners $10,000 each plus attorneys fees.

This is a victory not only for us but for all landowners,” said Theda Larson Wright, one of the three Louisiana landowners who sued Bayou Bridge Pipeline Company (BBP) in September 2018. “All over the country, pipeline companies have destroyed people’s land, often without even attempting to get permission, and dared the landowners to speak up. Well, we did. I hope this victory will encourage many others to as well.”

The Bayou Bridge pipeline is a 163-mile pipeline through southern Louisiana carrying North Dakota crude oil to the Gulf Coast. It is the tail end of a pipeline network including the Dakota Access pipeline and is a joint venture of Energy Transfer and Phillips 66. The Bayou Bridge pipeline traverses ecologically sensitive areas such as the Atchafalaya Basin, the country’s largest river swamp, which contains old growth trees and many endangered species.

BBP started construction, including bulldozing and clearing trees, in the Atchafalaya Basin on privately owned land without notifying landowners or obtaining legal rights to seize the land through what is called eminent domain. Only when property owners sued for trespassing did BBP begin the eminent domain proceeding. In December 2018 the trial court found BBP had trespassed but ordered a small fine of only $450 total for all landowners, while upholding BBP’s expropriation or taking of the land under eminent domain. The landowners brought an appeal in September 2019.…—”Court Rules Bayou Bridge Pipeline ‘Trampled’ Rights of Louisiana Landowners,” Dana Drugmand, DeSmog, 7/17/20

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PeoplesHub: Climate Justice
and Community Renewal:
Global Resistance to Extractive Industries

How can we confront climate-related injustices while we also strengthen our communities and build resilient and participatory local projects to create a better world? That is a central question for the many international contributors to the new book, Climate Justice and Community Renewal.

In this fourth circle of a 5-part series, authors of three of the chapters will explore those questions and more. We will learn about resistance to extractive industries and why sustained global resistance to coal, oil and gas are critically important right now. We will discuss the contradiction of coal, forests and the state in India, the struggles of Afro-Brazilian and fisher communities in Brazil fighting off-shore petroleum, and ecofeminist perspectives on resistance to extractive industries.

Host: Tamra Gilbertson, co-editor of Climate Justice & Community Renewal, University of Tennessee, Knoxville, TN.
Tamra Gilbertson is an activist, researcher, writer and scholar. She is currently a PhD candidate at the University of Tennessee in the Department of Sociology, as well as the Climate Change and Forest Policy Advisor for the Indigenous Environmental Network.

Presenters:

  • Soumitra Ghosh
    • Soumitra Ghosh, a social activist and independent researcher, has been working with forest communities in sub-Himalayan West Bengal in India for several decades. He has written extensively on issues related to climate change, particularly its political economy.
  • Marcelo Calazans
    • Marcelo Calazans is the director of FASE (Federação de Órgãos para Assistência Social e Educacional), in the state of Espírito Santo, a Brazilian civil society organization that works on human rights and rights of nature. He is also a member of Oilwatch Sudamérica, the Environmental Justice Brazilian Network, and the anti-petroleum campaign, “Nem um poço a mais!” He has been involved with rural struggles in Brazil for over twenty-five years.
  • Terran Giacomini
    • Terran Giacomini is a PhD candidate at the University of Toronto in Adult Education and Community Development. Her engaged activist research focuses on alliance building within struggles for a socially and environmentally just transition to post-capitalism. She is also an associate member of Canada’s National Farmers Union, an affiliate of La Vía Campesina.

Circle Outcomes:

In this Circle, participants will build connections through dialogue with international climate justice organizers engaged in grassroots resistance and renewal, with focused discussions around:

  • How a just transition to a fossil free economy can take place
  • Stories and strategies to protect water resources and better feed communities
  • How to implement new approaches to urban policy and energy democracy
  • How to most effectively link resistance to climate disruptions and resource extraction to grassroots efforts at community renewal

Please connect individually

Offered: Thursday, July 23rd 7-9am PDT/ 9-11am CDT/ 10am-12pm EDT

*All PeoplesHub Circles are recorded. You will receive a recording after the gathering.

Register: Cost: Free or by donation. Donations support us to offer more of these kinds of offerings. Our offerings are typically sliding scale from $20-$50.

What do you do to prepare?

Please choose a location with a strong internet connection, where you are able to share and listen comfortably. You’ll need a phone, laptop or desktop computer, with video and headphones.

For a 50% discount offer get your copy of the new book, Climate Justice & Community Renewal: Resistance and Grassroots Solutions. Input, 50% discount code: CJCR20 on the online order form.—”Climate Justice and Community Renewal: Global Resistance to Extractive Industries,” Tamra Gilbertson, PeoplesHub

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Skirmishes With
A National Security State

Federal Officers Use Unmarked Vehicles
To Grab People In Portland, DHS Confirms

 

UnIDFedPolice-UnmarkedCars

In the early hours of Wednesday, after a night spent protesting at the Multnomah County Justice Center and Mark O. Hatfield Federal Courthouse, Mark Pettibone and his friend Conner O’Shea decided to head home.

It had been a calm night compared with most protesting downtown. By 2 a.m. law enforcement hadn’t used any tear gas and, with only a few exceptions, both the Portland, Ore., Police Bureau and federal law enforcement officers had stayed out of sight.

A block west of Chapman Square, Pettibone and O’Shea bumped into a group warning them that people in camouflage were driving around the area in unmarked minivans grabbing individuals off the street.

“So that was terrifying to hear,” Pettibone said.

They had barely made it half a block when an unmarked minivan pulled up in front of them.

“I see guys in camo,” O’Shea said. “Four or five of them pop out, open the door and it was just like, ‘Oh s***. I don’t know who you are or what you want with us.'”

Federal law enforcement officers have been using unmarked vehicles to drive around downtown Portland and detain protesters since at least Tuesday. Personal accounts and multiple videos posted online show the officers driving up to people, detaining individuals with no explanation about why they are being arrested, and driving off.

The tactic appears to be another escalation in federal force deployed on Portland city streets as federal officials and President Trump have said they plan to quell nightly protests outside the federal courthouse and Multnomah County Justice Center that have lasted for more than six weeks.…

Speaking to NPR’s All Things Considered on Friday, Homeland Security Acting Deputy Secretary Ken Cuccinelli acknowledged that federal agents had used unmarked vehicles to pick up people in Portland but said it was done to keep officers safe and away from crowds and to move detainees to a “safe location for questioning.”…

“I fully expect that as long as people continue to be violent and to destroy property that we will attempt to identify those folks,” he added. “We will pick them up in front of the courthouse. If we spot them elsewhere, we will pick them up elsewhere. And if we have a question about somebody’s identity, like the first example I noted to you, after questioning determine it isn’t someone of interest, then they get released. And that’s standard law enforcement procedure, and it’s going to continue as long as the violence continues.”…

[Editor’s Note: Standard law enforcement procedure mandates that officers’ names, unit. organization and vehicle be clearly marked. Furthermore, the use of unofficially marked vehicles is against standard law enforcement procedure. If any vehicle can be used for apprehending by force, then there is no way for people to discern whether they are being apprehended officially or unofficially —inviting white supremacists, Nazis and other violent militia to impersonate law enforcement without effort or restraint of any kind.]

U.S. Attorney Billy J. Williams, the Department of Justice’s chief law enforcement official in Oregon, on Friday called for an inspector general investigation into DHS personnel over reports of two protesters being detained without probable cause.

Further reading: Oregon Sues Federal Agencies For Grabbing Up Protesters On Portland Streets | NPR

“What is happening now in Portland should concern everyone in the United States. Usually when we see people in unmarked cars forcibly grab someone off the street, we call it kidnapping,” said Jann Carson, interim executive director of the American Civil Liberties Union of Oregon, in a written statement. “The actions of the militarized federal officers are flat-out unconstitutional and will not go unanswered.”

A judge has allowed the ACLU to add federal agencies to its lawsuit seeking to limit what law enforcement can do during the protests.

Oregon Attorney General Ellen Rosenblum announced early Saturday morning she would be filing a lawsuit against DHS, the U.S. Marshals Service, the United States Customs and Border Protection, the Federal Protection Service and their agents.

A motion for a temporary restraining order follows the lawsuit. The order seeks to stop federal authorities from unlawfully detaining Oregon residents.

PortlandLeadersReactToDHS“The federal administration has chosen Portland to use their scare tactics to stop our residents from protesting police brutality and from supporting the Black Lives Matter movement,” Rosenblum said in a statement. “Every American should be repulsed when they see this happening. If this can happen here in Portland, it can happen anywhere.”…—”Federal Officers Use Unmarked Vehicles To Grab People In Portland, DHS Confirms,” Jonathan Levinson, Conrad Wilson, James Doubek, Suzanne Nuyen NPR, 7/17/20zzzz

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A Group Of Moms Formed A Human Wall
To Protect Portland Protesters
From Federal Officers

“We’ll be out until no protester needs protecting

A group of more than 30 moms created a barricade to protect hundreds of protesters from federal officers during demonstrations against police brutality and racism in Portland, Oregon, on Saturday.

Viral videos and photos on social media showed around three dozen mothers — dressed in white and wearing bike helmets — linking arms and chanting, “Feds stay clear! Moms are here!” and “Leave our kids alone” at a protest outside a federal courthouse.

The women stood for a few hours outside the courthouse before federal officers used tear gas and flash bangs to disperse the crowd.

Federal officers, deployed in Portland by President Trump since last week, have led to escalating tensions in the city after protesters said the officers were violating their civil rights by roaming the streets in unmarked vans and detaining people without probable cause.

The officers have also used tear gas, batons, and “less-than-lethal” munitions to disperse protesters who have been demonstrating for more than 50 nights in the city following the death of George Floyd in Minneapolis.

“We are about protecting peaceful citizens’ right to protest,” Bev Barnum, the organizer of “Wall of Moms,” told BuzzFeed News on Sunday.

Barnum, a 35-year-old content marketer and mother of two, said she created a Facebook event on Friday night after she was angered by a viral video that showed two armed and unidentified federal officers exiting an unmarked van, grabbing a person, and escorting them to a vehicle.…—”Portland Protests: Moms Form Human Wall Against Federal Officers,” Ryan Mac, BuzzFeed News, 7/19/20

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Indefinite Detention, Endless Worldwide War
and the 2012 National Defense Authorization Act

Black people are being murdered and brutalized by police with near impunity. Act with us to end police brutality, demand racial justice, and defend our right to protest.

On December 31, 2011, President Obama signed the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA), codifying indefinite military detention without charge or trial into law for the first time in American history. The NDAA’s dangerous detention provisions would authorize the president — and all future presidents — to order the military to pick up and indefinitely imprison people captured anywhere in the world, far from any battlefield.

The breadth of the NDAA’s worldwide detention authority violates the Constitution and international law because it is not limited to people captured in an actual armed conflict, as required by the laws of war. Under the Bush administration, similar claims of worldwide detention authority were used to hold even a U.S. citizen captured on U.S. soil in military custody, and many in Congress assert that the NDAA should be used in the same way. The ACLU does not believe that the NDAA authorizes military detention of American citizens or anyone else in the United States. Any president’s claim of domestic military detention authority under the NDAA would be unconstitutional and illegal. Nevertheless, there is substantial public debate around whether the NDAA could be read even to repeal the Posse Comitatus Act and authorize indefinite military detention without charge or trial within the United States.

Although President Obama issued a signing statement saying he had “serious reservations” about the NDAA’s detention provisions, the statement only applies to how his administration would use them, and would not affect how the law is interpreted by subsequent administrations. The provisions – which were negotiated by a small group of members of Congress, in secret, and without proper congressional review – are inconsistent with fundamental American values.

Both Congress and the president need to clean up the mess they have created. No one should live in fear of this or any future president misusing the NDAA’s detention authority. The NDAA’s detention provisions must be repealed.

Further reading
More Information On the Legislation and How You Can Get Involved.
Talking Points on the 2012 National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA)

Additional Resources
There’s an important role for concerned citizens and local lawmakers to play. The ACLU is advancing model state and local legislation for communities that want to ensure their state and local law enforcement agents, National Guard members, and government employees are never used to assist any U.S. military detention without charge or trial of individuals in the United States. The bill is an opportunity for communities across the country t​o urge Congress to repeal the indefinite detention provisions of the NDAA.—”Indefinite Detention, Endless Worldwide War and the 2012 National Defense Authorization Act,” American Civil Liberties Union, 7/18/20

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Rancor between scientists and Trump allies
threatens pandemic response as cases surge

This week’s remarkable character assault by some top White House advisers on Anthony S. Fauci, the nation’s leading infectious-disease expert, signified President Trump’s hostility toward medical expertise and has produced a chilling effect among the government scientists and public health professionals laboring to end the pandemic, according to administration officials and health experts.

As novel coronavirus cases surge out of control coast to coast, the open rancor between the scientific community and a White House determined above all to resuscitate the economy and secure a second term for Trump threatens to further undermine the U.S. response, which already lags behind those of many other developed nations.

ItsGoingAwayA chorus of voices — including Fauci; Robert R. Redfield, the director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention; and even Mick Mulvaney, the White House chief of staff during the start of the pandemic — has been speaking out publicly and with increasing urgency about the crisis in ways that contradict or undermine Trump. Some of them have sharply criticized testing capacities and efficiencies, suggested that everyone wear masks and warned of the virus spread worsening.…—”Rancor Between Scientists and Trump Allies Threatens Pandemic Response As Cases Surge,” Philip Rucker, Laurie McGinley, Josh Dawsey, Yasmeen Abutaleb, The Washington Post, 7/17/20

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Schakowsky, García, and Quigley Take Steps
to Prevent ICE from Launching
Citizen Academy Program

Washington, D.C. – This week, U.S. Representatives Jan Schakowsky (IL-09), Jesús “Chuy” García (IL-04), and Mike Quigley (IL-05) took important steps to prevent the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement agency from launching an Enforcement and Removal “Citizen Academy Training” in Chicago. Earlier this week, Representatives Garcia and Schakowsky, joined by Rep. Ayanna Pressley (MA-07) and Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (NY-14) sent a letter to the Appropriations Committee Chairs requesting their support prohibiting the use of funds to establish or continue the operation of citizen academies within the Department of Homeland Security (DHS), specifically the Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) office and the newly announced pilot for an ICE citizens academy for the Enforcement and Removals Office (ERO). Today, Rep. Quigley, a member of the House Committee on Appropriations, successfully included an amendment to prohibit funding for this program in the Fiscal Year 2021 Homeland Security funding bill.

Attendees will participate in scenario-based training and exercises conducted in a safe and positive environment, including, but not limited to defensive tactics, firearms familiarization, and targeted arrests.—Enforcement and Removal Operations (ERO) Chicago Citizens Academy Invitation (PDF), U.S. Department of Homeland Security Chicago Field Office

The “Citizens Academy” is currently set to launch in Chicago this September and aims to train citizens to arrest and detain undocumented immigrants. If allowed to begin, the program would dangerously increase fear and discrimination against immigrant communities and lead to increased violence and racial profiling. The amendment was adopted by the House Appropriations Committee on a voice vote and is supported by the National Immigrant Justice Center, the ACLU, and the ACLU of Illinois.

The “Citizen Academy” program initially raised red flags for advocates when an invitation was sent out encouraging members of the community to learn about “defensive tactics, firearms familiarization and targeted arrests.”…—”Schakowsky, García, and Quigley Take Steps to Prevent ICE from Launching Citizen Academy Program,” Congresswoman Jan Schakowsky, 7/15/20

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Tear gas deployed in Portland protests
as Oregon officials call for federal authorities to leave

Governor Kate Brown said “having federal troops here is like pouring gasoline on a fire.”

OregonSuesFedAgenciesFederal law enforcement officers deployed tear gas during protests in Portland on Friday, police there said, marking the latest clash between protesters and federal authorities who were recently sent to the city to quell unrest. After days of conflict between protesters and federal authorities, Portland police said Saturday they would not allow federal authorities to use their command center.

The New York Times reported Saturday night that a Department of Homeland Security memo warned that officers deployed to Portland didn’t have proper training. “Moving forward, if this type of response is going to be the norm, specialized training and standardized equipment should be deployed to responding agencies,” the memo reportedly said.

Oregon officials on Friday called for federal authorities to leave. Governor Kate Brown said “having federal troops here is like pouring gasoline on a fire,” CBS Portland affiliate KOIN reported.

“This is appalling,” she told KOIN. “When we need help from the federal government, testing supplies, personal protective equipment, they are missing in action.”

Senator Jeff Merkley of Oregon tweeted Saturday that he would be introducing an amendment to the next defense bill to “stop the Trump administration from sending its paramilitary squads onto America’s streets.”…—”Tear gas deployed in Portland protests as Oregon officials call for federal authorities to leave,” Caroline Linton, CBS News, 7/18/20

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White House says police didn’t use tear gas and rubber bullets
in incident that cleared protesters
with chemical irritants and projectile munitions

The truth about what was deployed on Lafayette Square protesters to make way for the president’s photo op boils down to an exercise in semantics.

TrumpClaimsNoTeargasIn the days since protesters were driven out of Lafayette Square coughing and limping, their eyes burning amid clouds of smoke, the Trump administration has insisted federal authorities did not use tear gas on the crowd.

“No tear gas was used, and no rubber bullets were used,” White House press secretary Kayleigh McEnany told reporters Wednesday, echoing similar claims from the U.S. Park Police and the president’s allies.

McEnany was correct, but only to the extent that police did not use products labeled “tear gas” and “rubber bullets.”

Further reading: Using Tear Gas At Protests Helps Spread Virus, Worsens COVID-19 | NPR

The Park Police acknowledged firing “pepper balls,” a projectile munition that lofts irritant powder into the air, and “smoke canisters” to scatter the crowd Monday. The agency has not provided more details about the contents of the smoke it deployed, and a spokesman for the Park Police did not respond to requests seeking clarification Wednesday.

At least one spent canister recovered from the streets outside the park Monday by reporters was clearly labeled “Skat Shell OC.”

The OC stands for oleoresin capsicum, an oily substance derived from chile peppers that is often used in topical ointments and “heat” creams for arthritis relief and muscle pain. When it gets into the eyes, noses and lungs, however, it triggers searing, debilitating pain, coughs, sneezes and mucus secretion.…—”White House says police didn’t use tear gas and rubber bullets in incident that cleared protesters with chemical irritants and projectile munitions,” Abigail Hauslohner, William Wan, Nick Miroff, The Washington Post, 6/3/20

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In protests against police brutality,
videos capture more alleged police brutality

Police in riot gear were marching across a mostly empty plaza in Buffalo when two officers shoved a lone 75-year-old man who stood in their way. He fell to the ground and hit his head on the concrete. Officers marched past him as he lay motionless and bleeding from the ear.

The city suspended the two officers after video of the incident spread around the world. Then, on Friday, the Buffalo Police Department’s entire riot-control team — 57 officers — quit the unit.

Not to protest their colleagues’ use of force. To protest the city for suspending them.

The incident involving police responding to demonstrations in Buffalo is one of many caught on video in recent days displaying police riot tactics — the use of batons, rubber bullets, tear gas and shields to move people out of the way. Such violent interactions have been viewed by police as necessary to do their job, age-old approaches to dealing with unruly gatherings. But they also have fueled what began as a local outcry over a police killing in Minneapolis into a swelling national protest of police brutality.

Further reading: George Floyd: Videos of police brutality during protests shock US | BBC News

In New York, officers clubbed nonviolent protesters several nights running. In Philadelphia, a high-ranking police official hit an unarmed protester in the head with a metal baton. In Erie, Pa., a woman sitting in front of police was hit with gas, then kicked over by an advancing officer.

Now, both police and protesters believe that a steady stream of new videos revealing the confrontations has brought about a turning point and a question: Are these the tactics police in the United States should be using?…—”In protests against police brutality, videos capture more alleged police brutality,” Kimberly Kindy, Shayna Jacobs, David A. Fahrenthold, The Washington Post, 6/8/20

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Fossil fuel companies getting more U.S. bailouts
than any other sector

How much money will investors lose before they realise they have been sold a dud for decades?

As I have written on numerous occasions recently, the oil and gas industry is in trouble. And investors are going to lose billions if not trillions in the process.

For decades, activists, academics, and others have warned that there will come a point that carbon would become unburnable: it would have to stay in the ground. It would become stranded. But those voices were ignored by the industry as it coaxed and coerced investors in a product that they knew would become essentially worthless.

They may have thought that they would have long retired to the golf course before this happened, but COVID-19 has changed the outlook for the fossil fuel industry in a way that has caught many investors in the industry off guard.

Finally though, the financial community is waking up. Over the weekend, The Economist, one of the most influential business publications, noted that now “oil giants want to own only the cheapest, cleanest hydrocarbons,” leading to the awkward question: “What to do with the cruddiest crude?”…

Top of the list of “cruddiest crude” list is the dirty tar sands. Earlier today, the EU Euractiv website examined the future prospects for the Canadian tar sands and US shale in an article entitled: “Has the Coronavirus killed the oil sands industry?” The answer is that both tar sands and shale are in real trouble.…—”Fossil fuel companies getting more U.S. bailouts than any other sector,” Andy Rowell, Oil Change International, 7/20/20

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Traditional villages dread living in shadow
of Amazon tailings dams

ORIXIMINÁ MUNICIPALITY, Pará state, Brazil — When our Mongabay reporting team visited the Amazon riverine communities of Boa Nova and Saracá, one theme predominated: “My children’s future is here,” said one resident. “I don’t want to leave this land,” declared another. “I’m only leaving here to go to the cemetery,” a third emphatically stated.

But this determination to remain on their land is interwoven with another, darker refrain: the people’s expressed unease at living in the shadow of numerous large tailings dams, some less than 20 kilometers (12 miles) from their homes, all constructed and owned by Mineração Rio do Norte (MRN), the world’s fourth largest bauxite producer, located beside the Trombetas River.

CostOfMiningThis concern was first sparked in 2015 by an unprecedented environmental disaster occurring a thousand miles away in the town of Mariana in Minas Gerais state. There a tailings dam holding back iron mining waste belonging to Samarco — a joint venture between two international mining companies, Brazil’s Vale and the UK’s BHP Billiton — collapsed. A mud tsunami obliterated the town of Bento Rodrigues, killing 19, and polluting 500-miles of river to the Atlantic Ocean.

MRN has 26 tailings dams, meaning that the municipality of Oriximiná, home to the bauxite mine, includes more dams within its boundaries than any other district in Pará state. But before the Mariana disaster almost nobody local knew much about the bauxite waste lagoons and the dams holding them back.…—”Traditional villages dread living in shadow of Amazon tailings dams,” Thais Borges and Sue Branford, Mongabay, 7/9/20

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Action Alert! Indigenous Emergency

Join an urgent call to global action by indigenous leaders from Brazil

Sunday, August 9, 2020 at 12 AM – 11:45 PM UTC+01

Public – Hosted by HS2 Rebellion, Extinction Rebellion London and 2 others

A day of rebellion to sound the alarm on the impact of Covid-19 in indigenous communities and to raise funds for APIB (Articulation of the Indigenous Peoples of Brazil) to support those affected.

Indigenous people in Brazil are facing unprecedented threats: on top of attacks from government-sanctioned racism, land grabbing and big business, the Covid-19 mortality rate is higher among indigenous than non-indigenous people. Without the needed medical help, too many lives are being lost.

“It’s not just a number. Each indigenous body holds an ancestral enchantment. For each indigenous person who dies, part of our collective history dies too” Celia Xakriaba

Further reading Brazil: The coronavirus is hitting indigenous communities hard | CNN
Judge orders Brazil to protect Indigenous people from ravages of COVID-19 | The Conversation
Brazil’s indigenous people call for WHO emergency fund to fight coronavirus | Reuters
Greenpeace delivers over 28 tonnes of emergency supplies to Indigenous communities in Brazil to fight COVID-19 with coalition efforts | Greenpeace International
Brazil Health Workers May Have Spread Coronavirus to Indigenous People | The New York Times
 
ACTIONS MENU:
Street Actions: ‘No More Indigenous Blood Spilt’
 
Open call – Affinity Groups/Local Groups all around the world are invited to coordinate decentralised, symbolic creative actions in solidarity to draw attention to the great loss of indigenous life and biodiversity loss currently in Brazil. Together rooted in love for life we can bring climate justice to the forefront.
 
NOTE: When designing this action please pay careful attention to cultural appropriation, respect for everyone who has lost a loved one due to COVID at this difficult time and the health guidance in your chapter.
‘People Of The Forest’

Remote Actions: ‘Sacred Moment’
 
Join our global community as we take a moment to mourn the great loss of indigenous lives due to COVID, along with all the biodiversity lost that relies on the indigenous amazon protectors for survival. As we take this moment (1 minute) of silence (12pm UTC) we invite the world to go to your windows/doorsteps and bang on a drum or pan for a slow rhythmical sacred beat honouring those who have passed.
 
‘Genocide = Ecocide’
 
To show your solidarity with the indigenous, paint your hands red and green, to show the world (with a selfie) you stand together with them in putting a stop to any more life lost. Remember to share with your selfie their crowd funder link, using the hashtag #IndigenousEmergency.
 
Portraits and videos of the indigenous lives lost will also be available to share with your post.

Find out more:
Donate here to APIB: http://apib.info/donate/?lang=en
Telegram Link Public Chat: https://t.me/joinchat/Kj0Y-1hnTkLdZTgyv9lHpg
Telegram broadcast channel https://t.me/joinchat/AAAAAEgVVXRH5nIwDBW7Qw
Find out more about APIB: http://apib.info/apib/?lang=en

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Coyote Story

CMarie Fuhrman encounters a coyote whose leg is caught in a trap in the southern Montana prairie. As she decides what to do, she navigates the two legacies of her identity—Native and white. In doing so, she considers what it means to be trapped and what it means to be free.

Autumn, Beartooth Front Country. The sky and landscape are buckskin and blue. I am driving my Ford pickup down the roads that encircle the ranch I am living on, caretaking, though little work other than keeping a fire going and feeding the owner’s horses is required of me. I am an hour from the nearest town of mention. From almost anywhere on the ranch, I see no neighbors. I am out driving just to be out, to be looking across the vast distances that have always filled me. This is a land devoid of structures. Of obvious human intervention. Here, I can imagine. I can dream without intrusion of even a fence line. And those dreams are never lonesome things. They are filled with stories. Memory. The call of meadowlark. The huff of a doe muley. The song of coyotes. All my insides find home here and resonate back to me in the enormity of a southern Montana prairie.

CoyoteStoryAudI come up over a small rise, and, in the distance, I see something jump. Once, then again. An awkward jump. Almost sideways. Almost a pounce. At first, I think I am seeing a rabbit. Perhaps a fox. But the color is wrong. The size. I press down the brake and reach for my binoculars, bring them to my eyes. As I turn the thumbwheel, a brown coyote comes into focus. It throws its head back as if tugging. Pulling against some force that holds it in place, yet I cannot see what. I lift my foot from the brake and roll forward.

I don’t know when I realize the coyote’s left ankle is caught between two horseshoe-shaped jaws of a dull silver trap. I walk from the truck to the coyote. Each step in the reddish-brown soil raises puffs of dirt around my feet. As I grow near, I see how fragile the coyote is, thin; how like my dog Katie’s are its amber eyes. Then I see the blood in the soil. The swelling and rawness of an ankle chewed. The coyote had dug at the trap with its free paw. Its mouth a mud of blood and froth. As I draw closer, the coyote begins to growl, to bear its front teeth.

I come back to the story of the coyote for the story of myself. Sometimes I am the one in the trap, unable to chew off my leg, unwilling to simply die. Somedays I place the bait. Both metaphors are mine. If coyote are anything, they are survivors. We are one, the elders sing.

I walk a circle around the animal. I look for ways to spring the trap, but traps such as these are not something with which I am familiar. My breath and words stick when I talk to the coyote. Only platitudes escape. I look toward the passenger window of my blue truck. From inside, my dog Katie is looking out at me, her eyes begging the question: What are you going to do? One dog in my truck who needs my protection and one at my feet who inherently knows I am not to be trusted.…—”Coyote Story,” CMarie Fuhrman, Emergence Magazine

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At Least 8 Farmers Killed
by Armed Group in Columbia,
120 Forced to Flee

This massacre forced at least 120 people to leave their communities at the municipality of Cucuta.

Colombia’s Peasant Association of Catatumbo (ASCAMCAT) Saturday denounced the murder of at least eight of its members by the narco-paramilitary group “Los Rastrojos”.

The massacre occurred in the village of Totumito Carboneras, Catatumbo, in the department of Norte de Santande.

“We urge the Regional Ombudsman’s Office of Cúcuta and the municipal authorities of Tibú to initiate an investigation into this violent act,” the organization said in a statement.

This massacre has deepened the existing humanitarian crisis in the country and has forced at least 120 people from the municipality of Cucuta to leave their communities.

ViolenceAgainstIndigenousWomenThe displaced people fear a possible incursion by armed groups against the community.

“Ivan Duque’s government must guarantee the life and safety of our communities and our stay in the territory,” the organization added.

Colombia’s House of Representatives legislator for the Revolutionary Alternative Force of the Common (FARC) party Sergio Marin also rejected the massacre.

The peace agreement signed in 2016 is very weak now. Is this the Colombia they wanted us to come back to?” Marin tweeted.…—”At Least 8 Farmers Killed by Armed Group in Columbia, 120 Forced to Flee,” TeleSUR|Reader Supported News, 7/19/20

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There is no excuse for government-sanctioned violence
against the free press

It is crucial for democracy that journalists are able to bear witness to demonstrations like the Floyd protests without being targeted by riot police.

Journalists know that when they cover chaotic and dangerous events, a press credential is a thin shield against the bullets flying and batons swinging around them. But as protests have spread around the nation in recent days, journalists have become the targets themselves because they are journalists.

PoliceAttackPressThat is troubling on a number of levels. Whatever you think about the fourth estate, news reporters serve as the public’s eyes and ears on the events shaping the world. And in too many cities, local law enforcement has been trying to stop them from showing the public the turmoil caused by the death of George Floyd — and the government’s response to it.

Further reading A Reporter’s Cry on Live TV: ‘I’m Getting Shot! I’m Getting Shot!’ | The New York Times
Trump’s threat to shoot protesters is ‘American authoritarianism’ | Business Insider

The media’s job is complicated by a president who routinely refers to the media as the the “enemy of the people,” a freighted designation that historically has come with official crackdowns and persecutions. President Trump resorts to inflammatory rhetoric with disconcerting regularity, but words have meaning, and consequences.

Two Los Angeles Times journalists covering the protests in Minneapolis recently — writer Molly Hennessy-Fiske and photographer Carolyn Cole — were targeted, along with colleagues from other outlets, by Minneapolis state police who fired at them with rubber bullets and tear gas, then pursued them as they sought shelter. That was not a one-off incident.…—”No excuse for police attacks on journalists during protests,” Editorial Board, Los Angeles Times, 6/2/20

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Judge strikes down Trump’s cap-and-trade challenge

A federal judge in California ruled yesterday that the state’s cap-and-trade agreement with Quebec does not run afoul of constitutional rules on foreign treaties.

Senior Judge William Shubb for the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of California shot down two claims that the Trump administration raised challenging the constitutionality of a deal between the Golden State and the Canadian province to create a cross-border carbon market.

The deal linked California’s and Quebec’s cap-and-trade programs in an effort to incentivize emissions reductions. Justice Department attorneys challenged the pact for threatening national authority, arguing that the deal constituted a treaty or compact that requires congressional approval.

Shubb, a George W. Bush appointee, said the agreement did no such thing.

“As the Supreme Court has taught in other cases, in the Article I context, ‘treaty’ is a term of art,” he wrote in his 33-page opinion. “Not all international agreements may be ‘treaties’ in the constitutional sense.”

Shubb added that the agreement wasn’t drafted for the sake of war or peace, nor does it give up any kind of power to one party or the other.

“To the contrary, the Agreement explicitly recognizes that Quebec and California adopted ‘their own greenhouse gas emissions reduction targets, their own regulation on greenhouse gas emissions reporting programs and their own regulation(s) on their cap-and-trade programs,'” he said.…—”Judge strikes down Trump’s cap-and-trade challenge,” Jennifer Hijazi, E&E News, 3/13/20

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The Compromise of 1877

[Editor’s note: Even as a Civil Rights activist working with the Southern Christian Leadership Conference, I was unaware that the whole of what the entire country was (and is to this day) dealing with in the matter of who is considered human and who is considered property was settled after the Civil War, after the Emancipation Proclamation, after the 14th Amendment. By back-room dealing between Republicans and Democrats about whether Republican Candidate Rutherford B. Hayes would be elected President. The tale brings to mind the turn of phrase describing something gone wrong, ‘Things just went South.’ As a nation, we are still struggling to achieve a recognition of the full humanity of all people. This is not something our military services fight for; it is a battle fought by activists taking to our own streets, demanding justice.]

The Compromise of 1877 was an informal agreement between southern Democrats and allies of the Republican Rutherford Hayes to settle the result of the 1876 presidential election and marked the end of the Reconstruction era.

Immediately after the presidential election of 1876, it became clear that the outcome of the race hinged largely on disputed returns from Florida, Louisiana and South Carolina–the only three states in the South with Reconstruction-era Republican governments still in power. As a bipartisan congressional commission debated over the outcome early in 1877, allies of the Republican Party candidate Rutherford Hayes met in secret with moderate southern Democrats in order to negotiate acceptance of Hayes’ election. The Democrats agreed not to block Hayes’ victory on the condition that Republicans withdraw all federal troops from the South, thus consolidating Democratic control over the region. As a result of the so-called Compromise of 1877 (or Compromise of 1876), Florida, Louisiana and South Carolina became Democratic once again, effectively bringing an end to the Reconstruction era.

Compromise of 1877: The 1876 Election

By the 1870s, support was waning for the racially egalitarian policies of Reconstruction, a series of laws put in place after the Civil War to protect the rights of African Americans, especially in the South. Many southern whites had resorted to intimidation and violence to keep blacks from voting and restore white supremacy in the region. Beginning in 1873, a series of Supreme Court decisions limited the scope of Reconstruction-era laws and federal support for the so-called Reconstruction Amendments, particularly the 14th Amendment and 15 Amendment, which gave African Americans the status of citizenship and the protection of the Constitution, including the all-important right to vote.…

The End of Reconstruction

Further reading: Black Codes and Pig Laws: Slavery By Another Name | PBS

The Compromise of 1876 effectively ended the Reconstruction era. Southern Democrats’ promises to protect civil and political rights of blacks were not kept, and the end of federal interference in southern affairs led to widespread disenfranchisement of blacks voters. From the late 1870s onward, southern legislatures passed a series of laws requiring the separation of whites from “persons of color” on public transportation, in schools, parks, restaurants, theaters and other locations. Known as the “Jim Crow laws” (after a popular minstrel act developed in the antebellum years), these segregationist statutes governed life in the South through the middle of the next century, ending only after the hard-won successes of the civil rights movement in the 1960s.—”Compromise of 1877 – Definition, Results & Significance,” History.com, 11/27/19

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How I painted The Rock with a dumbbell

 

BoubouDesign

Artist Boubou paints using whatever he can get his hands on

Can you paint show business stars with boxing gloves or using a dumbbell?

Can you draw portraits with your eyes closed or upside-down?

It’s all easy for the artist Boubou Design.

Meet the internet star from Dakar, Senegal in this BBC Africa One Minute Story.

Can you paint show business stars with boxing gloves or using a dumbbell?

Can you draw portraits with your eyes closed or upside-down?

It’s all easy for the artist Boubou Design.

Meet the internet star from Dakar, Senegal in this BBC Africa One Minute Story.—”How I painted The Rock with a dumbbell,” Late Lawson, BBC News, 6/10/19

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Teargas and pepper spray will accelerate spread
of Covid-19, doctors warn

As crowds protest across the US, more than 1,000 medical experts raise fears police tactics could worsen the pandemic

Doctors, nurses and disease experts have warned that dousing crowds with teargas and pepper spray will accelerate the spread of coronavirus as mass demonstrations against police brutality rage on, raising concerns that police tactics could worsen a pandemic that has already taken a disproportionate toll on black and brown Americans.

Nearly 1,300 medical providers and public health experts have signed a petition this week calling for police to stop using the chemical agents, amid scenes of law enforcement officers launching plumes of chemical irritants and smoke to subdue demonstrators in Minneapolis, Philadelphia, New York and many other American cities.

“The escalation of teargas use we’re seeing now really seems unprecedented.” —Sven-Eric Jordt, a professor of anesthesiology at Duke University.

“In addressing demonstrations against white supremacy, our first statement must be one of unwavering support for those who would dismantle, uproot, or reform racist institutions,” the open letter reads. “Therefore, we propose the following guidelines to support public health.”…—”Teargas and pepper spray will accelerate spread of Covid-19, doctors warn,” Maanvi Singh, The Guardian, 6/6/20

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As warming approaches 1.5°C,
talk of a carbon budget for the Paris targets is delusional

Figure 1: Global warming July-to-June, illustrated here with a 1981-2010 baseline. Image by CarbonBrief.

There’s a lot of delusional talk about how much “carbon budget” (or new emissions) are allowable that would still keep global heating to the Paris target of 1.5 degrees Celsius (°C). The reality is that over the last year, global average warming was already close to 1.5°C, based on a true, pre-industrial baseline.

And the warming already in the system may well be enough to take the planet past 2°C, without any more emissions. The propositions pushed by governments, big business and many large climate movement NGOs that we have a “carbon budget” available for the Paris targets runs contrary to the evidence and suggests a world of politically convenient make-believe. Here’s why:

  • According to CopernicusECMWF, globally, the twelve-month period from July 2019 to June 2020 was 0.65°C warmer than the 1981-2010 average (see chart above).
  • Then 0.63°C should be added to these values to relate recent global temperatures to the pre-industrial level defined as a late 19th century baseline.
  • So warming for the period July 2019-June 2020 is 1.28°C, compared to the late19th century, for which instrumental temperature records are available from 1850. This ties with the warmest year on record.
  • But there was also warming from the start of the industrial revolution and the use of coal from the mid-eighteenth century, up to the end of the nineteenth century. That figure ranges up to 0.19°C, according to Importance of the pre-industrial baseline for likelihood of exceeding Paris goals.
  • And new research published last year found that gaps with missing data in the observational temperature record are responsible for an underestimation of the global warming between 1881–1910 and 1986–2015 by 0.1°C.
  • Adding up all those components takes the warming over the last year, from a true pre-industrial base, very close to the lower end of the 1.5-2°C Paris goal, whilst recognising there is some uncertainty about warming in the pre-1850 period.

As CopernicusECMWF note, “the value for this period is very close to that of the 12-month periods ending in May 2020 and September 2016, the two warmest such periods in this record. 2016 is the warmest calendar year on record, with a global temperature 0.63°C above that for 1981-2010. 2019 is the second warmest calendar year in this data record, with a temperature 0.59°C above average.”…—”Climate Code Red: As warming approaches 1.5°C, talk of a carbon budget for the Paris targets is delusional,” David Spratt, Climate Code Red, 7/9/20

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‘The Game Is Up’: Report Says Asset Sales
and Debt-Driven Dividends Show Fossil Fuel Industry
Cannot Be Saved

“To continue to throw money at an industry that is not only causing environmental destruction but also facing economic decline is as imprudent as it is indefensible.”

Recent efforts by oil and gas giants to project an outward appearance of financial stability amid the Covid-19 pandemic by selling off assets or accumulating debt to continue paying out steady shareholder dividends represent strong evidence that the fossil fuel industry has reached its “endgame” and should not be bailed out with taxpayer dollars.

That’s according to a new report released Thursday by the Center for International Environmental Law (CIEL), a policy research and advocacy group based in Washington, D.C.

The game is up. Oil and gas companies can no longer mask their financial frailty.
—Nikki Reisch, Center for International Environmental Law

The report says the coronavirus pandemic—which has thrown oil markets into turmoil by causing a collapse in demand—has “forced the industry to reckon with the fundamental unsustainability of oil and gas company finances and exposed the steady decline behind the industry’s steady dividends.”

Major fossil fuel corporations such as ExxonMobil and BP, the report notes, “are racking up debt to maintain their shareholder payments and sustain their image as sound investments.”

“Oil and gas companies are also writing down and selling off their assets at heavily discounted prices, in a move that reflects a desperate need for cash and growing skepticism about the future value of fossil fuels,” the report adds.…—”‘The Game Is Up’: Report Says Asset Sales and Debt-Driven Dividends Show Fossil Fuel Industry Cannot Be Saved,” Jake Johnson, Common Dreams News, 7/9/20

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As Oil Giant Goes Bankrupt, California Governor
Urged to Hold Industry Responsible
for Well Clean-ups

SACRAMENTO, Calif.— As one of California’s largest oil producers enters bankruptcy, the Center for Biological Diversity and Sierra Club today urged Gov. Gavin Newsom to prevent California Resources Corporation and other troubled oil companies from shirking legal obligations to clean up their wells and prevent pollution. CRC filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy on Wednesday.

Today’s letter calls on the governor to intervene in CRC’s bankruptcy proceedings to ensure the company sets aside enough money for well cleanup. CRC and its affiliates operate approximately 18,700 wells in California, which could cost more than $1 billion to properly plug, according to the Institute for Energy Economics and Financial Analysis. Of these, 7,826 are already “idle,” which means they’ve produced little to no oil in the past two years.

“Bankruptcy proceedings like these endanger California because oil companies like CRC can weaponize them to dump their environmental cleanup costs on the public,” said Kassie Siegel, an attorney at the Center for Biological Diversity. “Given the huge number of wells at stake, the Newsom administration should intervene quickly to protect the public from those costs and our environment from pollution. More big oil bankruptcies are coming, and Gov. Newsom has a responsibility to be ready.”

“CRC’s bankruptcy is likely just the first of many as the oil industry inevitably declines in California. Gov. Newsom has the tools to protect the public from Big Oil, but so far he hasn’t used them,” said Kathryn Phillips, director of the Sierra Club California. “It’s critical that Gov. Newsom ensure that failing oil companies are held accountable for cleaning up their own mess, rather than leaving taxpayers and workers to pay the price.”…—”As Oil Giant Goes Bankrupt, California Governor Urged to Hold Industry Responsible for Well Cleanups,” Roger Straw, The Benicia Independent, 7/16/20

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As California Oil Giant Files for Bankruptcy,
Groups Urge Governor to Plan for Just Transition

The California Resources Corporation (CRC), the largest oil and natural gas exploration and production company in the state, has filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy, potentially leaving California taxpayers on the hook for a massive cleanup.

CRC and its affiliates operate approximately 18,700 wells in California, including 7,826 that are already “idle,” meaning they’ve produced little to no oil in the past two years. It could cost more than $1 billion to properly plug the company’s abandoned oil wells, according to the Institute for Energy Economics and Financial Analysis.

Specifically, the company announced it has entered into a Restructuring Support Agreement (“RSA”) with holders of approximately 84% of the Company’s 2017 term loans, 51% of the Company’s 2016 term loans and its Elk Hills midstream joint venture partner, Ares Management L.P.…

“Joining dozens of other oil companies who have filed bankruptcy this year, CRC’s failure is another clear death knell for polluting fossil fuels,” said Martha Argüello, Executive Director of Physicians for Social Responsibility—Los Angeles and Co-Chair of Stand Together Against Neighborhood Drilling – Los Angeles (STAND-LA), an environmental justice coalition based in South Los Angeles and Wilmington, CA fighting to protect frontline communities from urban oil drilling. “As the oil industry meets its end, we urge our elected leaders—at the local and state level, from Mayor Eric Garcetti to Governor Gavin Newsom—to plan for this inevitability.”

“Without a plan, workers will be left unemployed, frontline communities will be left with the toxic and unsafe infrastructure, and our local governments left to foot the bill for cleanup. We have a critical window of opportunity right now to put a plan in place for smooth and just transition away from fossil fuels and toward a healthier and more sustainable economy for all communities. It’s up to our local governments to seize that opportunity and hold these companies accountable so no worker or community is left behind,” said Arguello.…—”As California Oil Giant Files for Bankruptcy, EJ Advocates Urge Governor to Plan for Just Transition,” Dan Bacher, Daily Kos, 7/16/20

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Additional New York City Reopening Phases

Phase V:​ The proper response to a stranger deliberately sneezing on you will once again be a lighthearted “Only in New York!,” instead of the paralyzing fear that you have only seconds left to live.

Phase VI: All of the rich people will come back.

Phase VII: All of the rich people will leave again, upon remembering that August in New York isn’t very pleasant, regardless of whether there’s a pandemic going on.

Phase VIII: It will resume being socially acceptable to remove the words “normally” and “but” from the phrase “Normally, I don’t like Andrew Cuomo, but . . .”…—”Additional New York City Reopening Phases,” Eddie Small, The New Yorker, 7/18/20

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Does Privatization Serve the Public Interest?

For decades prior to the 1980s, governments around the world increased the scope and magnitude of their activities, taking on a variety of tasks that the private sector previously had performed. In the United States, the federal government built highways and dams, conducted research, increased its regulatory authority across an expanding horizon of activities, and gave money to state and local governments to support functions ranging from education to road building. In Western Europe and Latin America, governments nationalized companies, whole industries, banks, and health care systems, and in Eastern Europe, communist regimes strove to eliminate the private sector altogether.

Then in the 1980s, the tide of public sector expansion began to turn in many parts of the world. In the United States, the Reagan administration issued new marching orders: “Don’t just stand there, undo something.” A central tenet of the “undoing” has been the privatization of government assets and services.

According to privatization’s supporters, this shift from public to private management is so profound that it will produce a panoply of significant improvements: boosting the efficiency and quality of remaining government activities, reducing taxes, and shrinking the size of government. In the functions that are privatized, they argue, the profit-seeking behavior of new, private sector managers will undoubtedly lead to cost cutting and greater attention to customer satisfaction.…

TruthAboutPrivatization

Robert Reich explains why using the private sector for government services can have negative consequences. [We repeat this video because the editor is fond of it, and because if fits this article perfectly.]

This growth of privatization has not, of course, gone uncontested. Critics of widespread privatization contend that private ownership does not necessarily translate into improved efficiency. More important, they argue, private sector managers may have no compunction about adopting profit-making strategies or corporate practices that make essential services unaffordable or unavailable to large segments of the population. A profit-seeking operation may not, for example, choose to provide health care to the indigent or extend education to poor or learning-disabled children. Efforts to make such activities profitable would quite likely mean the reintroduction of government intervention—after the fact. The result may be less appealing than if the government had simply continued to provide the services in the first place.

Overriding the privatization debate has been a disagreement over the proper role of government in a capitalist economy. Proponents view government as an unnecessary and costly drag on an otherwise efficient system; critics view government as a crucial player in a system in which efficiency can be only one of many goals.

There is a third perspective: the issue is not simply whether ownership is private or public. Rather, the key question is under what conditions will managers be more likely to act in the public’s interest. The debate over privatization needs to be viewed in a larger context and recast more in terms of the recent argument that has raged in the private sector over mergers and acquisitions. Like the mergers and acquisitions issue, privatization involves the displacement of one set of managers entrusted by the shareholders—the citizens—with another set of managers who may answer to a very different set of shareholders.

The wave of mergers and acquisitions that shook the U.S. business community in the late 1980s was a stark demonstration that private ownership alone is not enough to ensure that managers will invariably act in the shareholders’ best interests.…—”Does Privatization Serve the Public Interest?” John B. Goodman, W. Loveman, Harvard Business Review, December, 1991

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Bankers and Investors
Finding Fracking Industry’s Underlying Models
Prove Overly Optimistic

Warren Buffet has a famous quote about investing: “Only when the tide goes out do you discover who’s been swimming naked.”

When it comes to his $10 billion investment in Occidental Petroleum, Buffett will need to take that one to heart now that other investors have sued Occidental for the merger financed in part by Buffet’s stake, alleging that the amount of debt required for Occidental to merge with Anadarko left the company “precariously exposed” if oil prices went lower. They cited the billions that Buffett invested in the deal as compounding this risk.

The fracking industry doesn’t care that you’re a world-famous investment sage: It destroys all capital.

Further reading: Insiders Sound an Alarm Amid a Natural Gas Rush | The New York Times, 2011

Even in 2019, when Buffett was investing in Occidental, we knew that the fracking industry had been losing hundreds of billions of dollars the past decade. However, with the industry’s staggering debt load, lack of ability to continue borrowing, and drops in oil demand due to the pandemic, the tide is now truly going out to reveal the fracking industry’s failing financial performance. That receding cover has also revealed that the industry has broken one of the most basic tenets of financing for oil and gas production: reserve based lending.

Reserve based lending involves a firm estimating how much oil it has in the ground, and then assigning those reserves a value based on the most recent price of oil. A bank then lends the company money based on a percentage of this value. For lenders this has historically been a low-risk arrangement, because if a firm defaults on the loan, the bank can simply take possession of its oil field. So it has long been among the most reliable methods for smaller oil and gas companies to get financing.…—”Bankers and Investors Finding Fracking Industry’s Underlying Models Prove Overly Optimistic,” Justin Mikulka, DeSmog, 7/17/20

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Rural Residents, Hunters Join Nationwide Effort
to Save Mexican Wolves

MexicanGrayWolfFicGroups Request Dramatic Decrease in Killings, More Releases of Captive-born Wolves

SILVER CITY, N.M.— Hunters, rural residents and thousands of others in New Mexico and Arizona today joined a call to dramatically restrict trapping and shooting of endangered Mexican gray wolves in the Southwest. Instead, they said, the focus should be on recovering the species — among the most endangered mammals in North America — and releasing more captive-born wolves into the wild.

New Mexico Sportsmen, Upper Gila Watershed Alliance and the White Mountain Conservation League signed on to the Center for Biological Diversity’s letter to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service as the agency works on a court-ordered rewrite of a wolf management rule.

“Mexican wolves are beloved by so many people from so many walks of life,” said Michael Robinson, a senior conservation advocate at the Center. “This rule-making process should show the government both the breadth of public support for our wolves and the depth of scientific concern over their survival.”

Further reading: Feds Kill Another Endangered Mexican Gray Wolf | Center for Biological Diversity

In addition to the groups’ 176-page letter, most of which consists of scientific studies that should be considered, more than 20,000 of the Center’s supporters submitted comments prior to Monday night’s commenting deadline, as did tens of thousands of other individuals.

“Most rural residents in southwestern New Mexico support recovery of the Mexican gray wolf,” said Carol Ann Fugagli of Upper Gila Watershed Alliance. “The government is definitely not representing us when it traps or shoots wolves or refuses to release family packs that could thrive and enhance the genetics of this faltering population.”…—”Rural Residents, Hunters Join Nationwide Effort to Save Mexican Wolves,” Michael Robinson, Center for Biological Diversity, 6/16/20

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The pandemic could actually strengthen the U.S. food system

The shock to U.S. food chains from the coronavirus has been a boon to small- and mid-sized farms and distributors. Could it be the start of a new way to get food?

Omar Flores holds up what appears to be a fluorescent green baseball sprouting a forest of leafy trees. Then he pulls a knife from the braided sheath at his belt and expertly cuts the vegetable into flat rounds.

The newest customer to visit G. Flores Produce on the sandy eastern Virginia peninsula known as the Northern Neck, Tom McDougall, chews the raw, crunchy kohlrabi with an expression of reverence. The plant, an exotic-looking German cousin of the cauliflower and cabbage, would fetch a good price in the cities of Washington, D.C., and Northern Virginia.

“Here’s this thing that looks like an alien—and it turns out to grow particularly well in the mid-Atlantic?” McDougall says.

It’s also a bright green representative of the vast array of easily-grown, nutritious cultivars left out by an American food system built around just a few species—a symbol of the food system that was and might be again.

McDougall is at G. Flores to buy several thousand dollars of kohlrabi, kale, and golden beets for 4P Foods, a company he founded in 2014. 4P sells produce from operations like G. Flores to chefs, groceries, and consumers who want to buy food grown in the mid-Atlantic region but don’t have the time, contacts, or resources to find it themselves.

COVID-19 spread chaos across U.S. agricultural supply chains in the spring and is widely expected to do so again this year as the number of cases and deaths continues to rise. As that first wave of disruptions happened, 4P rapidly scaled up its direct-to-consumer business, even as the schools and restaurants that once made up half of its revenues shuttered. Since the pandemic began, 4P’s subscription revenues year-over-year have jumped 1,100 percent, with general revenues up 500 percent. They now employ six times more people than before the pandemic.…—”The pandemic could actually strengthen the U.S. food system,” Saul Elbein, National Geographic, 7/17/20

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Fighting Food Waste in America with Food Rescue

FoodWasteAmericaWhen we stop food waste, we take a big step toward ending hunger.

America has more than enough food to feed everyone. But each year, an enormous amount of food is wasted in the United States. Feeding America partners with food manufacturers, grocery stores, restaurants, and farmers to prevent food waste and rescue surplus food to help feed people visiting our network of food banks.

Each year, 72 billion pounds of food goes to waste while 37 million Americans struggle with hunger.

52 billion pounds of food from manufacturers, grocery stores and restaurants end up in landfills rather than kitchen tables.

FeedingAmericaFoodRescueFeeding America focuses on the first three areas: farms, manufacturers and consumer-facing businesses. By partnering with leaders and local members of these industries, Feeding America can find ways to rescue more food that would have otherwise gone to waste—and feed more people in need. Watch this video to learn how the Feeding America network rescues food every day.

It’s about sustainability, too.

Food loss occurs at every stage of the food production and distribution system. Excluding consumer waste at home, 52 billion pounds of food from manufacturers, grocery stores and restaurants end up in landfills. An additional 20 billion pounds of fruits and vegetables are discarded on farms or left in fields and plowed under.

Approximately 72 billion pounds of perfectly good food—from every point in the food production cycle—ends up in landfills and incinerators every year. Rescuing this perfectly edible, whole food means feeding families facing hunger and taking a large step in protecting our planet and conserving our resources.

National food industry and environmental organizations, government agencies and even the UN agree: Reducing food waste in the US has to be a top priority for protecting the environment. The UN set the ambitious—but achievable—goal of reducing food waste by half in the year 2030, and the EPA and USDA are now working to meet that goal.…—”Fighting Food Waste in America with Food Rescue,” Feeding America

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Court Slaps Down Trump Administration’s Rollback of Methane Rule

Late yesterday, in a resounding victory for taxpayers, public health, and the environment, the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California invalidated the Trump administration’s rollback of the Obama-era Waste Prevention Rule. This ruling means that the Waste Prevention Rule goes back in effect in 90 days, and the oil and gas industry will have to comply with the Rule’s requirements to prevent waste of gas on federal lands.

Enacted in 2016, the Waste Prevention Rule was designed to protect the public from wasteful venting, flaring, and leaking of gas from drilling operations on federal and tribal lands. In 2018, the Trump administration’s Bureau of Land Management (BLM) rescinded this rule to give oil and gas companies operating on public lands a free pass for air and climate pollution from wasted gas.

In yesterday’s ruling, U.S. District Judge Yvonne Gonzalez Rogers found that this rescission violated federal law because it ignored the federal government’s statutory duty to prevent waste, instead relying almost entirely on inadequate or nonexistent state regulations. The judge also rejected the administration’s attempt to downplay the costs of the climate impacts of this rule. Further, the judge rejected the administration’s refusal to investigate the public health impacts of this rule on the people living near near oil and gas facilities including tribal communities.

“The court’s ruling is a victory for people who are bearing the brunt of federal and tribal oil and gas development,” said Lisa Deville, vice chair of Fort Berthold Protectors of Water and Earth Rights. “Everyday invisible methane spills impact our people’s health contributing to asthma and other respiratory health issues. The court rejected BLM’s attempt to ignore these public health impacts.”…—”Court Slaps Down Trump Administration’s Rollback of Methane Rule,” Robin Cooley, Earthjustice, 7/16/20

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Southern Iraq’s Toxic Twilight

Iraq is the rare country that imports gas but also burns natural gas from oil wells into the air. The wasted gas is enough to power 3 million homes. Burning it is making people sick.

NAHRAN OMAR, Iraq — The men of Nahran Omar, a village in the heart of southern Iraq’s oil country, filed into a Shiite shrine clutching envelopes with X-rays, medical reports and death certificates.

They had come to describe the misery they say is caused by the burning gas and chemicals spewing out of the oil wells in their village. Each one had a sick son or a dying wife, an ill brother or sister.

“Imagine that in the town you come from every family has someone who has cancer,” said Khalid Qassim Faleh, a local tribal leader. “This is the situation in Nahran Omar.”

The chemicals in the air — in Nahran Omar and other oil towns across southern Iraq — come from the smoky orange flames atop the oil wells, burning away the natural gas that bubbles up with the oil.…—”Southern Iraq’s Toxic Twilight,” Alissa J. Rubin, and Clifford Krauss, Falih Hassan, The New York Times, 7/16/20

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When Your Dad Works at Hollywood Special Fx

FxGuyKidVid

CREDIT: Daniel Hashimoto

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And That’s A Wrap! Thanks to everyone who sent in news, action announcements and comments this week. Send kudos, rotten tomatoes and your story ideas, your group’s action events, and news of interest to intrepid climate change and environmental justice warriors! Send to editor@thebanner.news.